Photos courtesy of Ryan Prouty

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The end of soccer and beginning of flag football

Just when things started to wind down, I caved and allowed Riley to start playing flag football at the YMCA.  He had such a great time and his team did very well, winning both of their games on Saturday.  Riley scored a touchdown in each one!  His comment earlier in the week about his team was hilarious.  He has only played baseball here and has had some difficulty with kids on his team paying attention, listening to the coach, or being disrespectful.  It drives him crazy.  So, when I asked him how his first practice went, he said it was "GREAT!  The kids weren't goofing around the entire time!"  He felt like their attentiveness and respect allowed him to learn more.  Great lesson for such a young kid to learn! 

I only took a few pictures, but managed to catch this interception on film:

And this "tackle":

After a score, lots of the kids were doing the gator mouth in celebration.  Riley, usually too shy for such team antics, even joined in.  He was really enjoying himself!  This is the kid who is too shy to join in on team cheering.  When his team was warming up for the second game, they were doing a little chanting and clapping together.  Riley did the clapping, not the chanting and kept looking self consciously over at me!  He can be so funny.  He has always been this way, starting at 3 years old when he refused to wear the antlers and jingle the bell at his preschool Christmas program!  He cracks me up.  At least he is consistent!  I think its safe to say he won't be trying out for any performing arts!  Anyway, here are the guys doing the gator mouth clappy thing:

And of course the "good game" line up after the game was over.  So, we are off to a good start, and know where we will be every Saturday morning for the next several weeks!  I have to say this is a great way to get to know people around town.

Earlier that same day, Holden had his last soccer game of the season.  Last week's game got rained out (yes, I realize most of you had horrible snow storms, so you are going to have a hard time feeling sorry for us), but it was the only game of the season that was cancelled, so that was good.  Holden's team ended up the season UNDEFEATED!!  They did have a tie, but no losses.  He learned lots and had a great coach who was encouraging all the time and never lost his patience with the kids.  Each player got a metal and the coach said something about their performance over the season.

The undefeated team!

Each player got a free snow cone to end the season, Holden was easy to please!  Stay tuned for more craziness!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thanksgiving travels

This was our first trip to Alabama! We went to see our friends Harvey and Felicia Johnson and Aaron and Abigail (the dog). I had to mention her because Alayna talked incessantly about seeing her again and counted down the sleeps until our trip! So cute what she remembered! I had to take a picture of this cotton field for two reasons. First, I have never seen a cotton field except for in the movie Roots that we watched in 5th grade. {WARNING: rabbit trail ahead!!} I remember so vividly seeing that movie in 5th grade because of an embarrassing incident while watching it. I am over it now, so I'll share! We were sitting on the floor to watch this movie which took several days. I was sitting near the front and looking pretty sharply up. I was very engrossed in the movie. In one scene, one of the slaves is pregnant and passes out while she is working (why does this always happen in movies and books and never in real life??? Alas, another rabbit trail...). Being so engrossed, I said aloud in a sort of wonder filled voice "She fainted." I was very startled to hear my own voice and all the kids around me burst out laughing! GOODNESS, anyway, back on track, the second reason I took this picture was because it very closely resembled snow on a tilled field, a very common site in Iowa. A little nostalgia, and the only snow like scene I hope to see this year outside of my television screen!

The kids were intrigued by this tunnel that goes underneath the Atlanta airport. Very long, very cool according to them. Ahhh, the little things!

Shortly after our arrival, Alayna's wiggly tooth made its exit. She was very excited! That was her second lost tooth...can this be happening to my baby???
It was great to hang out with the Johnson's. We had traveled to Birmingham area on Wednesday, arriving in time for dinner (nice piping hot chili and Fritos!), and just relaxed the rest of the evening. On Thanksgiving day, we got up early (they are an hour behind us and our bodies woke up at the usual time for school), I went for a run/climb with Aaron and Gabe. Their neighborhood is nestled into the hills, very steep hills and we did some running (mostly down the steep hills) and some climbing and walking. It was a workout! We got all cleaned up and took advantage of the pretty scenery and their brick wall for some family photos. We had a leisurely late morning of everyone preparing their dish and baking in the one (overworked) oven and ate lupper (or would it be sunch) around 4 pm. We had dessert a couple hours later, and then people started disappearing. It was bizarre...until we found this:

I am sorry to say they completely succumbed to the tryptophan comatosis...except the ever-spunky Alayna. Abigail was hanging on by a thread here. Alayna wondered off to watch a movie that no one else wanted to watch and was later joined by Paul and Harvey who were quickly rendered unconscious. We all got a huge kick out of it!
On Black Friday, we slept in a bit and headed to Birmingham to see some sites. We set out for the furnace museum. It was a free attraction. It was also closed. Gates locked up tight:
Okay, Plan B. The good ole Garmin helped us find several other sites nearby. Next was the Dr. Pepper processing plant. The part for the general public was also closed. Next stop, the historic district. This time we were not disappointed. We stumbled upon the oldest church in Birmingham:

It has been added onto (as seen in the background to the right)), but I was loving the bright red doors! Someone in there still has some spunk! At the church, we ran into some locals who informed us that the Governor gave all the state workers the day off and so most things were closed. We approved of that move in spite of our inconveniences! Good for them! Maybe they were out stimulating the economy on Black Friday! Whew, I need to focus, sorry! The church had a really beautiful bell tower:

And beautiful stained glass windows:

Here are the kids with the historical plaque for the Presbyterian Church. I hope you all can read that...

We also were able to find the 16th Street Baptist Church. MLK Jr attended this church, and in 1963, a bomb was set off at the church in an assassination attempt that killed 4 young girls (ages 14-17). The church was rebuilt and is magnificent. It too has bright red doors.

I couldn't begin to fit it into my camera frame.

Everyone patiently posed while I tried though!

These plaques on the two churches sparked a great conversation in the van about cornerstones and who THE true cornerstone is. I am so thankful for my Jesus, the cornerstone of my faith and salvation!

Since there will be no snowball fights, there sparked up a leaf fight in the pile that had collected at the bottom of the church steps! The kids had a blast. Much warmer than a snowball fight and not nearly the gear necessary for snowball making and throwing!

And of course, someone had to be buried in the leaves. Holden took one for the team:

We then ended up a little hungry and found a little hole in the wall hot wing place and took some to go back to the house. Gabe was in heaven! The wings were really good, deep fried and terrible for your arteries.
We got up early for the return trip the next day. Oh, dear friends, it was too short! We could have stayed much longer! We greatly enjoyed the company and hope we can see you again soon!! I did a terrible job of taking pictures. BUT, my consolation is that we spent quality time together. I didn't think to interrupt it by taking pictures! The images are in my heart!

I posted a bunch of updates below, so keep reading if you have a few more minutes!!

Who is that {un}masked man???

I laughed so hard at this picture I cried! I just had to share it here. The kids' school had a social gathering for families to get to know each other and hang out. November 21st they had a hoe down. We ordered BBQ chicken dinners from a local restaurant, had country music, line dancing lessons, and just generalized getting to know each other. We had a great time. As you can see, there were several photo ops! This was JUST Paul's size, and the look on his face is priceless. The new goatee tops it all off. The kids thought it was great fun too:

I think these were the first actual pictures I got of Paul sporting his first ever goatee. We are not really sure how he came to grow it, but I liked it instantly (he has NEVER had facial hair since I have known him), and so he kept it. He is still getting used to the itchiness! Now that's love! I think of that whenever I look at it! What do you think???

Winding down

Aaah, baseball season draws to a close. Riley's team did very well. He learned a lot and met some new friends. One of the families hosted everyone at the local pizza place/arcade. The kids all had fun playing the games and we parents finally learned each other's names after sitting together all season and rooting on each other's children whom we each knew on a first name basis! It was fun to discover some similarities (a fellow nurse, someone who was a neighbor of our dear friend Carole from Agape and other things), and discuss the plans for spring ball. This was Riley's first season playing in the majors division. He wasn't sure he was ready for that fast pitching, but did well in spite of his insecurities. We discovered he was the youngest on the team. Everyone seemed surprised to discover his age. He fit right in size wise. I am hoping he will want to do some work on hitting in the off season to build his confidence more. It is hard to know how much to push these things at 10 years old! He would really rather be reading than about anything else at this point...which I am certainly not discouraging!
Holden has one more soccer game next weekend (tomorrow's game has been cancelled due to a very rainy day today and more expected tomorrow). He was so excited that he finally got a turn playing goalie at the last game. He played at that position the entire first half and the other team did not score a single goal! Then, he also scored a goal near the end of the game...which we all missed because we were chatting. We clapped when the goal was scored, but had no idea until after the game that Holden had scored it and have no idea how it came about. So sad. Parent demerits were issued and much deserved! He is definitely in love with this sport. I am not sure I am going to be able to convince him to play baseball in the spring so that we are not going in so many directions when those seasons start back up!

And, because one sport is just not enough for Gabriel, he also started playing with the school's flag football team. Cross country is not over and he has to split time between the two practices on occasion when they are scheduled on the same night, and also spends multiple nights at practice after school. We are so blessed to only live 5-7 minutes from school! They are currently 1-2. which is better than last year's winless season! He had a game in Sarasota that I was miraculously able to attend, probably the only one all season because the games are so early in the day, well before I am off work. They lost that one, but it was still fun to watch! Gabe is learning lots about running routes and seems to be playing a receiver position. I say seems because the ball never seems to be thrown his way! Oh well! He thinks its fun anyway, who am I to disagree???
Things are slowing down a bit here, I am so glad. The kids manage to do their homework and make great grades and keep their room (somewhat) picked up, so we are calling it a good so far!

Fall concert

The kid's school has one music concert a year. It is in November (which is nice, they do some Christmas stuff too) and it is very well done. I have to say I really miss the band that they had at Heritage. It is really surprising to me that band is not offered here at a school that is bigger than Heritage. Alas, I don't really know if any of our kids would want to be in it anyway! It makes me a bit sad because I enjoyed playing the clarinet in band during high school a lot. Besides the exposure to music and the discipline of learning to play an instrument, there were lots of fun band trips, both marching band and concert band. Oh well, God clearly has other plans!
This is the entire grade school from preschool to 5th grade. Some of the middle schoolers also participate. They do have a praise band with guitars and drums that a few of the kids participate in and that looks like fun. The thing I will probably remember the most about this particular concert was the extreme difficulty in finding the children something to wear. We have gotten away from buying them lots of clothes lately, they simply don't need as many when they wear school uniforms. By the way, the public schools here have school uniforms for the grade schools too, so our kids don't find it too weird at all. They are all very similar, polos and khaki pants/shorts/skirts. ANYWAY, I spent several hours the night before the concert (Paul was out of town at a Dave Ramsey Financial Counseling training class for the week) digging through the kids clothes desperately searching for some dark pants and white shirts that still fit them. Shorts were not allowed, and it seemed every pair of pants I pulled out had shrunk several inches from the last time they were worn and fit perfectly fine. Shirt sleeves seemed to have had the same problem. It was extremely frustrating. THEN, they also had to have dark shoes. Riley the monster child has grown SO much that he is wearing a men's size 10 shoe (heaven help me, he's only in 4th grade!) and has no dress shoes that fit him, just sandals. Alayna, also sprouting, had no black shoes, just brown, but no brown skirt or pants, just black. Aaag, I had to dress her in a black skirt and brown shoes. At that point, I didn't even care. I kept saying to JoDee (who always stays with me when Paul leaves town), "These people at the school who make these dress code rules have no idea what they are doing to families!!" I vaguely remembered last year thinking to myself that I was going to keep an eye out for dark pants and white shirts that are stylish so my kids didn't look hodge podged much for that idea...hodge podge it was! Thank God Gabriel wasn't involved in the show and actually went on a youth fall retreat for the weekend! I am pretty sure I would have pulled out my hair if I had to find him something to wear also. Whew, I apparently needed to get that off my chest!
This is Holden with some new friends. These twin boys are new to VCS this year, but Holden made friends with them quickly and wanted a picture with them. He was pretty fascinated with how alike they look (they are identical) and thought it was fun that he had a twin for a mom and twins for friends.
I forgot to dig out and charge the camcorder, so I filmed a few clips from the concert. Here is one of the Kindergarten/1st grade songs. Enjoy!

I have to admit that the concerts here are so different than at home. I remember being so moved by the singing at the concerts at Heritage in our home church's sanctuary. I think it was because it was smaller and my own kids were easy to see and each had a special part. Now, at such a big school, they just seem lost in the crowd, somehow less special. I was a bit emotional that night, nostalgic and also missing my husband probably played a part. I hate to admit how much we still miss Heritage and our time there, the families, and especially the teachers. Don't get me wrong, we are VERY happy at our new school, but I think there is a special place in our hearts for Heritage that can never be replaced!

Some belated blogging

Yes, that is Alayna's jack-o-lantern. Paul and I were both able to attend her class Harvest party! First time ever, so I was glad I was able to get few pictures. Above, their craft was to use brads (simply pushed into the pumpkin)and ribbon to make the jack-o-lantern face, so cute, BUT, the pumpkin we sent was TINY since we didn't know why we were sending it! She made it work though!
Paul helping another child who had a tiny pumpkin.

Alayna was pretty thrilled to have her daddy at school.

They also decorated their own sugar cookies and devoured them (my kind of craft!)

Alayna's work of art.
I was thrilled to be able to use my lunch break to be there without having to get time off approved! If all the class parties are on Fridays, I should be able to attend a few since I work fairly close to their school on that day.
Stay tuned for some more belated posts, nothing earth shattering, just a catch up on our cray lives! Thanks to anyone who is still reading this blog, your comments warm my heart and encourage me in a way you would not believe!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

One Christ, Won City

The pastors of various churches around Venice have come together to brainstorm how to win the city for Christ recently and out of that, One Christ, Won City was born. A few months ago, the churches got together for worship on the beach followed by each church performing their baptisms together. Over 40 people were baptized and the band was made up of singers and musicians from 4 churches. We then had a time of fellowship with watermelon. Many families from our church and school were there. It was neat to see those 2 worlds colliding. There were over 1,000 people there in all. It was amazing. It went so well that there was a second event planned. This was a prayer meeting. We went to the beach again to gather. The pastors each got up and shared what was on their hearts and led us in praying in groups for specific requests including the lost, our government, our churches, etc. It was amazing AGAIN! Here are some pictures from the second event.

I had to stand on the corner of the boardwalk railing to get up high enough to get all the people in the picture, and I am still not sure that was all of them! It was something to behold!
The kids had a safe place to play and enjoyed seeing school friends. This is Holden's friend Garrett who is being home schooled this year and he doesn't get to see him very often. They were thrilled with the unexpected play date!
I took the opportunity to brush up on the skills I learned when I took the photography class (that I never finished because I went back to Iowa this summer). Unfortunately, I didn't remember much but got a few fun pictures:
Boys will be boys. Here are Robby, Josh and Holden digging for puffer fish (they found several tiny ones), clams and sand fleas (GROSS):
Alayna didn't notice I was taking her picture for a minute:
...or maybe it was less than that, because then this started:

Heaven help us!