Archives for posts with tag: basketball

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When we were in what seemed to be an endless cycle of deployments it was hard to imagine any other “normal.” We tended to plan the following years activities or holidays dependent on whether or not Brooks would be with us. We, at times, celebrated holidays on the day that made most sense, even if it was weeks or days before or after the actual holiday. As technology improved over the years we were even able to celebrate milestones with Dad over the internet via one or another video conferencing app or website.

It doesn’t escape me in the least that there are many military families this Thanksgiving celebrating separately, if only temporarily. And regardless of that, it still hurts, even knowing that in a few days or weeks you’ll be together and can celebrate then. So I am ever grateful for each day with my beau, even on days when we don’t see eye to eye on things. I am ever grateful for two Thanksgivings in a row together.

I find myself grateful for so many things day in and day out. We practice gratitude around here daily, be it the “small” things or the “big.” It’s the secret to living a life with the glass eternally half-full. Perhaps at times our circumstances aren’t what we would desire them to be. And boy, do things “stink” at times. But those are the moments when I find myself even more grateful. For the dishwasher that allows me more time with my family. For the ability to spend so much time with my Little. For the ability to replace items as they break or to keep our quickly growing boy in clothes that keep him warm and comfortable. I’m grateful every time I purchase groceries, because I was able to. I’m seriously grateful every time I run a load of clothes through the washer. And when the dryer began making crazy squeaking noises of late I was even grateful for the ability to dry them at the laundromat all at once instead of the daily task it tends to be.

Life is so sweet. Sometimes it can be heartbreaking, I’m not naive. Sometimes we ache so strongly for those we love and care about and the circumstances they are going through. In those moments prayer is my refuge because some things are just so much bigger than ourselves and I’m so grateful that our God  can hold our hands and our hearts through them.

So there I sat last night… cheering on the James River Eagles 5th/6th grade developmental team and my heart was just bursting with gratitude, for there stood my beau, coaching his son and his teammates. To see them together, during another season of basketball, was incredibly sweet.

So this Thanksgiving, among so many other things, I am grateful for My Boys and their love of basketball. Win or lose, I’m looking forward to so many new memories made.

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Let me start off by saying this: I have never played a sport in my whole entire life. I blame my heart condition because quite truly I always wanted to participate in sports. From afar I could only begin to imagine what participating in a sport could have taught me. I secretly envied the other student’s who would zip off to practice or another game. I loved watching the comraderie between the players, the intensity on their faces during a game.

When Brooks and I first met he mentioned in passing that he played basketball. I didn’t realize then how much the sport meant to him or how much it had helped shape who he was. I wasn’t privy to the life long lessons learned from the pursuit of being great at something, such as a team sport. But as we dated, as I began to know him, his dreams and aspirations, his shortcomings and successes, his passions I began to get a clear picture of what participating in a sport could teach one about oneself, life.

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Deployments have always defined us as a married couple. Little B was born shortly after the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Between too short phone calls and letters delivered intermittently we began to share our dreams and hopes for our baby. Brooks was able, thankfully, to make it home for the birth of his only son. That meant the world to us, then as it does now. And as our little one grew and matured our dreams for him did as well. It no longer mattered to us what he chose to do with his life as long as he was taught the lessons in life that mattered. From the moment we laid eyes on our little one it no longer mattered what profession he chose for himself, what mattered was the man he would one day be.

Driving to Little B’s last game with the Raptors this past weekend BB asked us what we hoped he’d one day be. We both assured him that whatever he chose for himself we only wished that he loved it, was passionate about it, and that it would allow him to provide comfortably for himself and his family. He pressed us to tell him what profession we’d envision him taking up and was taken aback when we told him we’d not ever considered it in those terms.

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Raising him hasn’t always been easy. The Boy can be stubborn, if we let him. Mothering him alone at times has been challenging. I am the best parent for him when Brooks is by my side, and vice-versa.

And during those times that Brooks was gone I was grateful for sport, for the lessons they taught My Boy when his Dad was so far away and would have imparted the same wisdom. I am grateful for the life lessons learned during the pursuit of something loved and thoroughly enjoyed.

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This year B played basketball while his Daddy has helped coach him. Seeing those two on the court, his father’s bent head leaning towards him as he describes in detail what to do next, or how to improve something, or quite simply words of encouragement, has taken my breath away more than once. I’m grateful for this thing they both love so much.

The Raptors had an okay season. Quite honestly it was the most winning season B has been a part of. He’s learned to win graciously over the years, loving the game more than the wins by being on team after team that has always struggled to get that win. There’s a lesson to be had there and he’s learned it well.

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This year he pushed himself to improve his game, setting up cones in the garage to run drills, begging us to take him to the court to practice, and dribbling in the house back and forth tirelessly (yes, we allow that).

So although the Raptors didn’t win every single game it was a great season. Little Brooks rarely lost his smile or exuberance for life, skipping from time to time, laughing with teammates on and off the court, pumping his fist in the air triumphantly when a shot would swoosh through the net. 

And I found myself cheering alone on the bench again. Except this time, I was cheering for our boy, his dad by his side.

 

The weather was crazy last night. I woke up way too early when one of my pots outside fell over in the wind and broke. I though somebody was trying to break in since it sounded like broken glass. I figured out two things after the pot broke: 1. I shouldn’t put any potted plants there anymore (this is our third lost pot – sometimes I don’t learn lessons) and 2. the wind cleared my yard of leaves, hence saving me thirty dollars.

My day was looking up!

Hey, insight is a good thing.

And then the rain started and the thunder and lightning and our planned campout was postponed. The boys took it relatively well. They have so much fun together I swear they wouldn’t care if we stayed home and became recluses and never saw the light of day. Jason’s sister, on the other hand, was bummed about the camping trip being no more. She called me up while the boys were finally getting dressed to see what we were doing. Knowing we were heading to UT I asked her if she might want to join us. To which she replied, “When can you pick me up?”

We left for the games with plans to get Destini afterwards. I was really excited about today’s game. Little Brooks has been working so hard. We were tickled pink to get a call from Brooks at the end of the first quarter. I couldn’t believe our luck at such great reception inside a cavernous building like High Chapparel. We figured we’d try video calling through Skype-pee, just to see if it would work. I wasn’t holding my breath. I figured the call would drop and he’d call me back and I’d step outside and try to watch the game while talking with Brooks on the phone. And yet, when we tried it, it worked! We were so thrilled. Brooks was able to talk to his Dad and wave and smile, all the while beaming from ear to ear. And joy of joys, Big Brooks was able to watch the rest of the game! How crazy is technology! I can’t imagine what future separations may bring in terms of keeping in touch. I’m so grateful that regardless of the distance something as simple as a phone app can help us stay connected.

It reminded me of Little B’s fourth or fifth birthday. Brooks was gone, again. And we had him on the laptop on video messenger through Yahoo. We rushed to get the candles lit so his Daddy could watch us sing to him before the connection gave out on us. Or even earlier to his second deployment when Brooks was in the Green Zone. He was able to get on the internet all the time. It was super nice. And when he was in his room we could chat and see him, though he couldn’t see us, or the connection would drop. Little B got so used to seeing his Daddy on the laptop. He was an itty bitty thing. For all he knew his Daddy was the laptop. One day while visiting family someone accidentally hit the laptop, with a ball or something, I can’t quite recall. And The Boy rushed over there and leaned over so he could see the screen so he could check to make sure his Daddy was okay. It nearly broke my heart. I remember thinking to myself, this kid is going to need some serious therapy!

We were in super high spirits as we picked up Destini and headed to Austin for UT’s open house, an event they call Explore UT. It is by far one of the neatest things I’ve ever done with The Boy. We try to never miss it. It’s too much fun and too much of a Central Texas gem to forgo it. And we always have so much fun. It’s impossible to see it all and do it all.

 

Whoever came up with the concept of opening up the whole college to kids of all ages is an absolute genius. Every single department sets up stations where the kids can explore, learn, engage in activities, question, discuss, and/or create. The students and faculty who run these booths are amazingly patient, exceedingly kind, and bright. They explain things to each child, and bring each concept within easy reach and understanding of those they are speaking with. Like I said, I LOVE it. Anyone who lives anywhere near Austin should try to go. I promise you won’t be disappointed. Unless you hate crowds. And then you’re on your own!

So, needless to say, we had a blast! The kids laughed and giggled, oohhed and ahhed, created and explored and begged for more! They were so grateful to go that I swear they each thanked me for bringing them at least five times each, at which point the others would quickly chime in.

 

My feet are killing me but I’m so glad we went and that the kiddos had fun. And I’m grateful as well, for parents who entrust their children to me. I love having kids around. Obviously having a single child wasn’t in our playbook, but we don’t hold the paper and ink for that story. So being able to take Brooks and two of his friends to partake in all the goodness of UT was a gift for me. The whole way home we sang loud and off-key, recounted favorite moments, and all agreed that next year we’d have to do our best to go again 🙂

Today was definitely one of those days I should have been dreading. Little Brooks had an appointment in the morning, followed by Co-Op, followed by errands, which preceded basketball pictures and practice! Oh boy, oh boy!  I’ve been trying really hard to be Zen-like about everything: I refuse to let this deployment stress me out, I refuse to be overbooked schedule wise (obviously today isn’t a good example of that), and I refuse to be late for anything.

These are big developments for me, because in all honesty that was me last deployment: stressed out, overbooked/overextended, and notoriously late for everything. I couldn’t keep my calendar straight. I had a good friend who was my calendar. She reminded me about appointments, errands, phone calls to make… you get the picture. I’ve become so good at being stress-less that finding out this week that I was going to have surgery on my foot, which would then render me carless, didn’t faze me. It is what it is. Why stress about it? I’ll just find ways to make it work. What else can you do?

So I wasn’t looking forward to today, and I dislike errands more than I dislike shots in the arm, and I had a few to run. So this morning while getting in some homeschooling (we covered the battle at Saratago during the American Revolution, math, and language arts) I decided that a beautiful day couldn’t be wasted and that I needed some fresh air. I told Brooks we’d have a picnic lunch at the Central Texas College campus, feed some ducks, play catch, and fly his kite. FYI, these are all activities I find immensely pleasurable. I am a big kid at heart, and can’t see myself ever changing.

Little Brooks was ecstatic. He’s been itching to fly a kite since my wonderful friend Tanja suggested we all head to Austin Sunday for the Kite Festival. He coached me the whole way on how to eat my sandwich quickly and how it was imperative that I keep conversations to a minimum, so we could eat more, talk less. After a quick lunch and a little bit of duck feeding we headed to the other side of the duck pond to fly his kite.

Last year when I took him kite flying I always had to help him. He didn’t like that too much, because he wanted to do it all on his own, so more often than not I was chasing the kite and helping him get it up for a little bit before it would crash back down. He loved it, me not so much. All the running was tough on me.

How exciting for us both to discover that not only did he not have issues getting the kite up but that he was able to manipulate it and keep it up. He was beyond thrilled! He nicknamed his kite Air Shredder.

We had a blast kite flying and were sad to pick up our stuff to head to his appointment. Thankfully the rest of the day wasn’t as hectic as I’d feared. Co-op is always fun and the parents and kiddos are wonderful. We got a nice break in-between errands and basketball.

We are both plum wore out and exhausted. For sure an early night for me. Here’s to dreaming about kites and spring and living life to it’s fullest!

I’ve been looking forward to today since I learned that VLA, the local theater, was hosting a workshop for their upcoming children’s play. I’ve always felt that if Brooks would try his hand at drama he would discover a passion for it within himself that he never knew existed. He’s always done well at small scale productions, such as skits in Campfire, or small dramas within a church setting. I’ve tried to coax him to try his hand at something at a grander scale but have always been given a definitive no. So I was naturally thrilled at the idea of a workshop, presuming that the nature of the program would help Brooks get over his skittishness over acting. And I was right!

The workshop consisted of three parts: choreography, music, and acting. They taught the kids a small portion of Cinderella and at the end parents, friends, and relatives were treated to a small show. I was so excited to see Brooks up there, natural as all get out, as if he’d been doing this sort of thing his whole life. Off stage, while he waited for his cue, he was a bundle of energy, hopping about and moving nonstop. How he heard his cue is beyond me, but he did well. He came out on time, had nice big facial expressions, and nailed his part. Of course, the boys had the easy part. The poor girls had a small dance, a song, and hand movements to learn. Brooks just had to act disgusted at the girls while he made a big circle around them and then exited off stage behind them.

So in one week’s time we’ll head back to VLA to try our hand at tryouts. He’s hoping to get a minor part. He had so much fun. He’s been talking about the experience nonstop. For sure this seems to me like something he’ll have a passion for, so we’ll get him as involved as we can as opportunities present themselves.

After the workshop we headed on post for his basketball game. Brooks worked so hard. I know he would have made D.Brooks proud. It was a nail biter of a game: we almost went into double over time and only walked away with the win in the last few seconds of the game. The kids were so excited that they won, since they all worked hard for it.

After the game, CYS had scheduled a shooting tournament by grade level. Little Brooks competed against five other kiddos and ended up coming in third. I think his nerves got the best of him because at home he hits his shots consistently. He was so upset with himself afterwards he wouldn’t talk the whole way home. I know he’s competitive but I think that he was disappointed in himself more than anything. We had a huge heart to heart and he’s ready to work hard so that next year he can try his hand at it again.

By the time we came home I was ready to call it a day, but we wanted to finish D.Brooks’ care packages. The box I found was so big that we decided to combine our packages. Little Brooks worked on his time capsule by coloring the outside of the box. Then he filled it with a few items to represent the month of February: the money the tooth fairy gave him, a picture of a bike representative of learning to ride without training wheels, a piece of string to represent the rope he climbed at gymnastics, a fossil I found today, and the ribbon he won at the shooting tournament. He also added a few extra put-ups for his Daddy Put Up Jar. Lastly, he went through every single piece of artwork he’s created recently and carefully picked out the pieces he wanted this Daddy to have.

We’re sending a whole lot of love a really long way.