Sunday, May 20, 2012

Soccer Season 2012

James participated in his first team sport this spring: soccer!  Neither Derek nor I know much about soccer.  Derek played as a little kid.  I like David Beckham's accent.  And ... well, we watched a few games (matches?) in Paris.  I think that about sums it up.  But we thought it would be fun for James to try out, so we signed him up at the local rec center for an indoor soccer team.  He is still only four (for a few more months, anyway), but we put him in the five- to six-year-old group since his future classmates would fit into that group.  And we figured it'd be lame to play with three-year-olds.  Needless to say, he was among the teenies.  And was significantly less coordinated and 'into' the game than many of the other kids.  Granted, this also could have been due to his uber-athletic genes (sarcasm).  Either way, he learned a few valuable lessons by playing, and if nothing else looked pretty adorable in his little outfit!

Love that boy.

One of the hardest things for me as a very on-top-of-things-mom (read: overprotective, hover mom, control freak... you choose) was to let my baby do this with only Daddy and Jolie and without me.  I started a new quarter at work on the very same day that he started soccer, and the practices/games were all on Tuesday and Thursday nights, which happen to be when I teach.  So Derek got to experience single parenting, and not just the sit-at-home-and-throw-on-a-movie type.  He was thrown in head first, really.  The games were all right at bedtime, too, which didn't make things easy.  Poor guy.  I think it was a long month.  It was for me.  I hated missing all of the action!

Derek was pretty fantastic to help a mommy out, though.  I think he knew how much it killed me to miss it all.  The first night of soccer especially, he took a ton of pictures and videos so that I could feel like I was there.  So I would not sob with heartbreak at missing a first (well, not sob much).  It was soooo cute to see my little guy out there!  

He was mostly clueless and kind of wandered aimlessly.  I don't think he touched the ball for the first several games (though he did during the practice part and would tell me excitedly about all of the "goals he scored" - so cute).  He really had fun.  Mostly, he remembered the awesome treats they got at the end (seriously, this boy's gonna be a fabulous chef someday... or ridiculously obese, lol.  We'll hope for the former).  Even if Derek told me he'd had a rough night, when James talked to me he would always be way excited and tell me what a great time he'd had and how fun it had been.  Hooray for a childlike perspective (and delicious snacks to help you forget the tough stuff)!

And hooray for the ever-fabulous Lizzy (his super
cute swim instructor from last year who absolutely
adores James.  I think James is just a little bit
smitten with her as well)! She wasn't his coach
but reffed a few games.  I think she did a bad job
of masking her favoritism, but hey... :)  LOVE her!

I thankfully was able to get a sub and come to his very last game (the season finale?).  I was so excited, and I think the excitement was contagious.  Derek told me that he had never seen James so excited and engaged out there, and that he was sure it was because I was there.  That makes a mommy feel good, I'll tell ya that.  I was kind of worried about embarrassing the fam (mostly Derek... sorry, hon) but apparently not worried enough to let it stop me, because I was crazy goofy.  I'm gonna be one of those sports moms.  I've got too much cheerleader in me to keep quiet.  Or stay sitting. Or not kick my leg up every once in a while...

Seriously, though.  I couldn't help myself.

Any time James even sort of touched the ball, I would go a little wild.  I didn't care who was winning or scoring or whatever (and honestly, with kids that small and unskilled it was hard to tell whose goal was whose).  I just wanted James to get excited about it.  To keep up with the group.  To even try to touch the ball.  :)  I'm easy to please.  It was really cute how excited he'd get when he did any of these things.  He'd look over at me, smile proudly, and we'd do a mutual raise-the-roof motion.  It was fun.  We're a good pair.

Really dark, pathetic picture... but you get the idea.

I'm so glad we decided to put James in soccer this year.  I think he learned a bit of coordination and general skill.  He learned a bit about endurance and persistence. And he learned that playing a team sport (especially one with yummy treats at the end) can be loads of fun!  

Go, Team Eruption!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Graduation Day

Although Derek officially graduated in December, he was able to participate in the university's graduation ceremony this spring (they no longer have winter commencement).  I'm not sure Derek was sold on the idea of walking, but I really, really wanted him to.  I was able to walk for both my Associate's degree and my Bachelor's degree, and while I never cared about it beforehand either, I was always glad that I did it.  I knew Derek would be, too.  So he did it... and boy, were we proud!

The morning started with the Academic Procession... the parade of graduates, basically.  The morning was surprisingly cold and began way too early, but we all made it and were super excited to watch for Derek in the crowd of black clad graduates.  Grandma Julie, Grandma Marilyn, Shawn, Brynn and Claire joined us.  That made it much more fun.  We found one another, found a good spot, and waited.  The bagpipes led the procession (looove those), and the graduates followed.  We were so excited when we spotted Derek!  He snuck out of the procession for a quick photo shoot, then hurried to catch up.  The kids were so cute.  Jolie kept saying, "That's my daddy!  I saw my daddy!"  I think they felt proud.  I know I did.

After the procession, Shawn took our kidlets with him to play with cousins (Thank you, guys!!) while both grandmas and I went into the stadium to attend the university-wide commencement ceremony.  It took me a long time to spot Derek, and when I finally did he was grinning impishly at me from across the floor.  Apparently he'd spotted me much sooner than I'd spotted him.  :)  I took a whole lot of (crappy) pictures and then settled in to listen to the surprisingly good speakers.  Graduation ceremonies are worth attending, I feel, because they not only help you feel completion but also kinda rev you up.  This one was no different.  It was inspiring and encouraging and motivating.  Perfect.  Good work, speakers.

After the ceremony, Derek and I drove together to go pick up lunch (mmmm, Costa Vida take-out) while everyone else met at Julie's.  We got to Costa Vida a little ahead of schedule.  We decided that instead of just waiting, we would squeeze in a mini-celebration, a date of sorts.  We treated ourselves to some delicious pastries from the nearby bakery.  (Holy YUM!)  It was a good call.  Then we picked up our nummy lunches and joined the fam.

Julie spoiled us by buying lunch, and it was fantastic.  Derek was able to choose what we ate, and being Cinco de Mayo, he chose Mexican(-ish).  The wonderful and supportive people in attendance were: Derek, James, Jolie and I, Shawn and Mindy with their three beautiful girls, Julie, my mom- Marilyn, and Derek's cousins Brad and Garrett.  Thank you all for supporting us, and thank you, Julie, for lunch!

Following lunch, we headed back to the stadium for yet another graduation ceremony.  This one was for the College of Business.  Surprisingly, though, the stadium was much more packed than it was for the university-wide ceremony.  And funnily, we walked all the way around the building to get seats... and Derek was the very last seat opposite us.  Oops.  Oh, well.  James and I took a little 'field trip' to the other side to embarrass... er... photograph Derek up close.  You're welcome, Derek.

The talks seemed less impressive this time, but then- how impressive can a business-oriented talk be? Also, we were wrangling kids this time and therefore listening less intently.  That probably affected the quality some.  Thank you, Grandma Marilyn and Grandma Julie for entertaining the kids so that I could disappear and take bunches of photos.  (Oh, and thank you, Shawn and Mindy, for sharing your fancy camera so I could get good ones!)  James and Jolie were actually really well-behaved.  I was quite surprised!  It was well past naptime, and missing naps does not generally result in a positive situation.  I was quite grateful that they behaved so well.  Good job, kiddos!

During the College of Business ceremony, Derek was able to walk across the stage and receive his 'diploma.'  While I apparently am an incompetent photographer and therefore missed some pretty good pics, it was so, so exciting to see him cross the stage.  What a superstar!  I cannot even tell you how proud I was of him.  How proud I am.  My beautiful Bachelor.  And the kids were soooo proud to see him do it.  I am not sure exactly what they understood of it, but they knew it was a big deal.  And they knew Daddy had done something hard and great.  I'm glad they came.  It's good to see your daddy do something awesome.  :)  Congratulations, Derek!!

I know this one's out of focus, but it
seriously just makes me so happy.

Later that night, Julie generously offered to babysit our kids so we could go out on a date to celebrate more.  We took her up on it, and Shawn and Mindy joined us!  We went to Elements restaurant (the same place we went to celebrate graduation in December- ha!).  Mostly, we wanted their piƱa coladas .  Apparently they made an impact on us the first time. But the rest of the meal was amazingly tasty as well!  Derek ordered the house burger- a beastly and delicious piece of meat.  I ordered a steak-Gorgonzola pasta (with a balsamic reduction.... drool) that knocked my socks off.  Mmm!  Shawn ordered a turkey breast wrapped in ... wait for it... bacon.  And Mindy ordered some sort of beautiful fish atop a bed of mashed potatoes.  It looked delicious (too bad it was fish, wink).

Then, when we mostly wanted to take a nap (or maybe that was just me... it'd been a loooong day), we headed to the theater to watch The Avengers.  Luckily my catnap in the car did the trick, and I was awake and excited for the movie.  Shawn and Mindy spoiled us (sensing a theme here?) with movies on them, which was super sweet.  And we watched and enjoyed and clenched our buttocks (it was suspenseful!) and were thoroughly entertained.  It was a great movie!

Around midnight, we headed home, kicked off our shoes and crawled into bed.  Ah, bed.  What a long and glorious day!  Congratulations, my handsome graduate!  We are all so very proud of you.  You did it!! :D