"When you called me to be a Mama, You didn't ask for perfection. But that with every breath, I'd point them to You."

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Wordless Wednesday || Celebrating Our 10 Year Old

We kept Jaden's birthday celebration pretty simple this year. Truth be told, and maybe a sign of his age, Jaden himself didn't get real excited for his birthday this time around. I almost felt like we were celebrating just as much for us and our journey as his parents and his family - as we were for him. ;) His birthday fell on a Sunday, and one of his teammates shares a birthday with him so he spent the Saturday night beforehand at a sleepover with his entire Outlaws family. They stayed up until about 4:00 in the morning, which meant Jaden actually took a mid-afternoon nap the day of his birthday! We had family over late Sunday for pizzas and snacks and cake, and Jaden opened some really nice gifts - including a high-end, high-quality indoor basketball recommended by his head coach, some nice new athletic clothes... and the big ones from us. We got our boy a cell phone (with no data or social media capabilities - a parenting choice that Cody and I have made)... and a year-long membership to the rec center. Our boy had been asking to go to the gym to work on his skills all the time, and he's now old enough to be dropped off and left at the rec without us. So - the phone - and the rec membership - and a little bit of new-found freedom for our pre-teen.

Talk about two ends of the spectrum. It's a little surreal to celebrate our maturing first-born while preparing for a new baby to join us in less than five months!

Monday, February 19, 2018

An Outlaws Update

We are well past due for an update on our favorite basketball team! As we head into State Tournament weekend, our season is just a month from being over, and we're a little sad about that! Though I think deep down, we all need a bit of a break - or at least we need our weekends to free up so that we can start preparing this home of ours for a new baby - I know that we will miss these weekends of competition, friendship, and tiny road trips.

What a few months it's been! I know some people don't understand the traveling youth sports thing, and to be honest I used to be one of them, but now I can't imagine our life without it! I know we are busy creating memories that we are going to treasure years down the road, and I know our boys are learning so many valuable lessons that they will take with them as they grow.

This group has had such an incredible season so far. They have won every single tournament they have played in - with the exception of one when we had to play without a full roster and without our leading scorer. They have compiled a record so far of 26-2, and have a huge test ahead of them this weekend. We will be competing in the top bracket at the State Tournament, and it's going to be a big challenge with the teams we have to face in the first two rounds.

Regardless of how this upcoming weekend turns out, it is a weekend we all look forward to. It's so fun to get away for a couple of days and spend time in a hotel and on the courts with a group of people that have come to be very important to us. We've built a family outside of our family, and I am filled with gratitude for the amount of work, attention and devotion our coaches put into this group of boys.

And as proud as I am of all of these kids, I'm obviously most proud of my #10. The coaches have called him one of the most improved from last season, and one of his traits that stands out the most is the amount of effort he puts in not just on game days - but at practices, too. Though the team has been practicing consistently since August, his work ethic has not let up, and he goes HARD every single time he's out on the court - game day or practice day - no matter. The team relies on him most for his defensive intensity, and he's learning to score more points, too. He can be extremely hard on himself, which is one of the areas we need to work on most, but I just love watching him play. By the end of a tournament day, it is written all over his face that he has left every ounce of himself out on the court, and I'm not sure you could ask for more from a 10 year old.

I'm also really proud of his younger brother, who is an absolute trooper spending half of his weekend in a gym watching his big brother get the glory and attention. He plays games on his iPad with the other younger siblings, sometimes takes video and pictures of the action... and loves asking for money for the concession stands. ;)

And then there's our daddy - who has been asked to step in and coach a lot more this season - and who has his heart fully invested in not just how Jaden does - but in how the other boys on the team grow and improve, as well. Between coaching Jaden in football and basketball, and walking alongside Brandon through Cub Scouts and golf lessons, I'm pretty sure these are the moments Cody looked forward to most in parenting.

Tournament days often end with a team celebration in the private upstairs bar area of Doughy Joey's - where the kids play with Doughy Joey's play-doh and the grownups cheers over pitchers and pizza. And we're very much looking forward to a big team spaghetti dinner this Thursday night to get in some good bonding before State. I know that we are lucky to be part of this group - who cares not just about the basketball - but the friendships and growth of our boys, as well. Not every team has what we have, and we recognize it.

Back in November the team had the opportunity to take the court with the Panthers during the singing of the National Anthem and then watch UNI defeat the UNLV Rebels in an incredibly exciting game. Just one of the many lucky experiences. We remind Jaden often how fortunate he is.

Bring on State!