Three Kids and a Dog

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Thankful and Blessed

It seems like Thanksgiving was so long ago already and I didn't want to not post about this Thanksgiving because it's often a time to reflect upon what I'm most grateful for in my world.

Of course at the top of my list was my family. My three healthy kids who are my world and even more so this year, I'm hugging them a lot tighter, giving them lots of kisses and lingering a lot longer at bedtime to chat with them about the day or read them an extra page of that book. (Maddox is never too far from my thoughts each day as I see my friend and her family grapple with their grief and moving on without their youngest son. I can't even imagine.)

I'd be remiss not to mention my husband as part of this too. The perfect partner for me. He's easygoing, intelligent,  hardworking and a really great dad. He's present and involved in our kids' lives. So much so that they are not used to him being gone if he's traveling for work or with friends. I am blessed to have such a great husband and father to my kids.

Family also means my extended family. My parents, my siblings, my nieces and nephews, all my in laws. Family is great during the holidays and even though we all have our own issues, strengths and weaknesses, I'm blessed to have them all in my life and bring different ideas and perspectives to a conversation. We may not all be alike but that's what makes these family events interesting.

And of course I can't not mention my family on the east coast who I continue to write this blog for weekly. That's how they know what's going on in my life and with my kids. I have wonderful memories of many holidays with my aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins. And, even though we didn't live close most of the time, I feel close to them and really enjoy seeing them and spending time with them when I can. Love you guys and miss you!

Last but not least, I'm grateful for my friends. It's often said friends are the family we choose for ourselves. I have so many different groups of friends. My soccer friends who I grew up with, my high school friends, my college friends, my work friends, my mom friends from school, my mom friends from soccer - so many! I am blessed beyond words. They are my advisors, therapists, sharer of many memories and those who know me best whether it's been 35 years or 1 year.

These people - all of them - make life meaningful. So I will close with this wonderful verse that will go somewhere in my beach house because during the holiday season we all need a little reminder of being a little more compassionate, a little more empathetic and a little more understanding.

"Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other's faults because of your love."

Ephesians 4:2  

Monday, November 19, 2018

The Favorite

Peyton constantly wants and craves the love and acceptance of being the favorite. Whether it's from her swim coach, camp counselor or school teacher, she's constantly telling me that she's their favorite. (We won't even get into how she begs me to tell her whose my favorite.) And, often times I'm pretty sure she's right as she knows just how to work her way into your heart with her humor, a sarcastic comment or a witty remark. And I'm not even talking about how cute she is with that blonde hair and those blue-gray eyes.

However, this past week, it's been pretty humorous to witness some adults who openly deem (verbally or non-verbally) Austen their favorite and how she reacts to this news. She complained recently about a PE teacher asking about Austen (as he now goes to middle school) and telling her class how he set the record for the pacer test at her school. Big deal, Peyton said as she recounted the tale to Austen over a snack. I got an 84, she said which was the highest for the girls. That's not true Austen said, you're in 3rd grade, you don't even get to go beyond 50. She must've forgotten that it was only last year that Austen went to that school and I'm pretty sure knew the ins and outs of the pacer test. Foiled again. That darn Austen.

Then just on Saturday, we had to attend church with Peyton's religious education class. Upon seeing our family in the pew, the head of religious education comes over to our pew, bypasses Peyton who is sitting on the end (and the required attendee), stretches across the pew and says "my man Austen!" as she gives him a fist pump. She then suddenly remembers Peyton and pats her on the shoulder. Peyton and I exchange a quick glance where Peyton scrunches up her face to indicate her irritation and rolls her eyes. I almost couldn't help but laugh. It was pretty obvious to all of us that this lady could've cared less about Peyton but was so happy to see Austen there.

Last was just tonight at our parent teacher conference for Peyton. Naturally Austen comes up in conversation - although Austen did not have Peyton's teacher for 3rd grade, he did have him for math. So her teacher tells us that he often sends her down the hall to Austen's old 5th grade teacher's class when he needs something from her because she may have declared her favorite student of all time to be Austen! Peyton says she does go on these runs and when she does, the teacher always asks about Austen. Of course she does, Peyton. Get used to it. That's what it means to be the second born. However, I'm sure you're doing just fine on your own becoming many other people's favorites. I mean how could you not be? 

Sunday, November 11, 2018

That's a Wrap on the Soccer Season

Fall soccer season has finally come to a close and I have to say that I was glad to see it end. It got cold way too quickly this year. In fact, it seems somehow we skipped fall - my favorite season.

Three of the Original Wizards with Coach Nathaniel
Hailey scored a goal in her last game of the season on what I told the other coach was a set piece (of course I was joking) because it was so perfectly executed by these U6 players it looked like something you would see from only older kids. Hailey one touches it with a strong kick to the goal off a corner kick from one of her teammates. It was so perfect, I'm not sure my U10 girls could have done it any better (I coached both girls this season but was an assistant for Peyton for the first time this year since I was coaching Hailey too).

Peyton (U10) scored in her final game as well (although I didn't get to see that one since I was coaching Hailey) but a strong kick had the ball spinning through the goalie's hands and into the net. Peyton's really had a great season and has given much more effort this year when on the field. And, she's really turned into a good goalie too.

Austen finished with a  pretty respectable season too. I don't count how many goals he has anymore as it's not unusual for him to have multiple goals in a game and/or assists. This fall he was double rostered so he played both U12 and U13 at the platinum level (the highest level for these age groups as their are multiple levels for each age category). His U12 team is strong and competitive. They played some great competition this season and held their own placing in the top half (all scores aren't in yet but they could've received 3rd or 4th place out of 9 teams). This is no easy feat to place in the top half of the platinum division especially beating an undefeated first place team 3-1 in their final game. Of course Austen scored the first goal in that game (on my birthday). And the next day he answered again playing U13 with a hat trick (3 goals) defeating another team 4-1. U13 definitely proved more challenging for him this season as they start playing 11 v. 11 and the field is bigger so that takes some getting used to but I think this year of playing at the U13 level will help him next year for sure.

Beyond the field game, the bonds that Austen has formed with his teammates (many of whom don't go to his school) are just so awesome to see. In fact, today, his first "real" soccer coach (who left the club to coach in the city closer to his house two years ago), came to watch them. It's such a special surprise when we see Coach Nathaniel show up to watch "his boys" as he still calls them. He started training these kids when they were in 1st grade at the U7/U8 level. Some have moved to different clubs but their bonds with each other and with their coach are still there. It's so sweet to see their love and admiration for him and for each other.

It makes my heart happy to know that Austen has experienced this type of camaraderie with his teammates and coaches. It's something he will cherish even more as he grows older. Those are your forever friends.

Now Two Wizards, One OBSC and One Road Runner Players but Forever Friends

The U12 Wizard Pizza Party.  These are some great kids and Austen's BFFs!

Monday, November 05, 2018

Happy Halloween!

For once in Chicago it didn't rain or snow on Halloween. It seems like every year Halloween means inclement weather which of course hampers how long you trick or treat and how far you'll actually travel.

This year was the first year in about 10 years that it was a beautiful fall afternoon for trick or treating. We walked all over our neighborhood and back. The kids got a ton of candy and boy were they tired. I sure was too!

Halloween kicked off with the elementary school parade (Austen's first year not doing it since he's in middle school now). Peyton was all too happy to come home for lunch, get on her costume and get back to school for the afternoon's festivities. After the parade, I helped out in Peyton's classroom for their annual Halloween party.

After school, we dropped Austen off at his friend's house to trick or treat with a lot of other 6th graders. Despite not loving to dress up, he really enjoys seeing how much candy he can collect as he literally runs from house to house. This year he didn't come home with that many king sized candy bars as he said he gave a lot away to kids who didn't get as much as he did. I'm sure some of them were girls as somehow they always meet up with a group of girls (hey, it pays when one of your guy friends has a twin sister and her friends are hanging around too). Note this was the first year since he was really little that he didn't dress up in a sports costume!

Peyton got to trick or treat with her friends too as we met up with three of her friends and their parents. Papa came too and we sipped hot spiked cider, chatted and walked all over town trying to keep up with the 3rd graders.

Hailey held her own, keeping pace with the older ones though she didn't want to skip any houses when we would tell her to skip a house or two so she would be ahead of the older ones instead of trailing behind. In fact, at one house she ran into a group of Austen's other friends and followed them into one of their houses. She didn't seem to mind though as they said "Hi Hailey!" I think that was the point where we almost lost sight of her because we thought she was with Peyton's group and instead she went off with the boys. Good thing Papa was paying attention or our little T-rex may have dissolved into a bout of tears on the sidewalk when she realized we had left her!

All in all, a good Halloween though. The weather certainly makes the difference!

School parade!

Austen's scary Halloween costume. Good thing he didn't have his glowing red eyes in!

Our Little T-Rex!

She's a Fox!