"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."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

There's no place like Dome

Everyone who knows me, knows I'm a huge Panther fan. But what most don't know is that it's not just a love for all things football/basketball... it's not all about the wins and the losses... or the championship seasons and the "rebuilding" years.

UNI is where I grew up... literally. It's my home away from home.

It's where as little kids Jeri Noonan used to take Casey Noonan and I on Saturday mornings/afternoons... so we could run around campus, sit and eat snacks on the "couches" at the Union and visit the Campanile. It's where after a basketball game in the Dome I watched Casey run through a big purple curtain full speed and head first into a huge cement block, impacting him square on the nose and face. This is a story I have made sure to tell every single one of his girlfriends. An incident that was far from funny at the time... now has turned into -- "So... do you have any embarrassing moments of Casey from when he was little?" --- "Oh yes... let me fill you in on this one moment with a cement block..."

It's where Jeri, Casey and I used to visit the athletic training room after every basketball game, watching Casey's dad Terry ice and tape up athletes, sneaking Bubble Gum from the giant bucket Terry kept under his desk and eating the leftover sub sandwiches that the athletes didn't quite finish off. It's where I went on Sunday mornings with my mom... sitting by her desk while she worked, visiting with the coaches who were in the Dome, and looking at old Media Guides from past years. It's where I first started learning math... as Jeri would use the difference between the two scores on the scoreboard to teach me how to add and subtract. It's where I watched my dad get presented with a Letterman's jacket on the field during a football game... and where I watched my mom get inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame after 30 years of very hard work and dedication. It's where my parents met, it's how I came to be, it's where I met Cody's sister Cassi... and ultimately how I found Cody. It's where I received my diploma and fell in love for the first time. It's where a very cute picture was taken of my dad and I at my first Homecoming parade -- sitting on my dad's shoulders as a baby wearing my first UNI jacket (and my dad sporting an awesome perm). And it's where my wedding pictures were taken 23 years later.

All of this and so much more is why I feel so much pride when I see my kids recreating new memories at my favorite place in the world. Of course they don't really understand anything yet. Jaden enjoys the Fight Song and gets excited to see TC. Brandon is clueless about it all at this point. But they will no doubt grow up hearing all of the stories from my family and I -- they will know about the state record crowd of over 22,000 people that watched UNI beat the top ranked Hawkeyes in the Dome in January of 1990. They will hear why our 2005 football team earned the nickname "Cardiac Cats." They will see my mom's picture hanging on the wall in the press box. They will drive by the hideous house on the corner of College St. and Seerley Blvd. that I called "home" for two years. They will learn to enjoy a good slice of O.P pizza just as much as me. They will learn how to dance The Interlude. :) And though I don't know where their lives will take them as they grow, they will hopefully learn the value of appreciating where it is you come from... just as much as I do.

So on Saturday... we ventured out for a little pregame trip through memory lane. We let the kids run around campus for the first time, gazing up at big buildings and splashing in fountains. When we were parking the car, Jaden asked me, "Is this where TC goes to preschool???" :)

Our first stop had to be Lang Hall. This is where my dad and I both took most of our classes... and where I met Cassi for the very first time.

Brandon absolutely loved walking everywhere. Cody and I joked that when it is his turn to attend college, he is going to be the "big man on campus." He's such a little ham. And Jaden was saying "hi" to everyone we walked by.

They really wished that we could get inside the Campanile!

Good ol' Maucker Union. Oh the memories... :)

After returning home for lunch and naps, it was finally game time. We had no idea how Brandon would handle the game. He does not like to sit for long, and I wasn't sure if he would like all the noise and commotion. But he surprised us both and really did pretty well. He had a little meltdown when we first got to our seats because he wanted to be able to go up and down the Dome steps. But then he lasted the entire first half without any problems. He snacked, he cuddled, he clapped along with the crowd. He did get really mad again right before halftime, but I think it's because he was hungry. Cody went and got all of us some pizza and popcorn and then decided halftime would be the perfect time to take Brandon home. He might have lasted longer since he was enjoying the food... but the score was pretty lopsided by that point anyway.

Jaden and I stayed until the end of the game, and for the most part Jaden had a lot of fun. When the band started the pregame show, Jaden was so happy his face turned red and he was literally shaking from excitement! He did get really anxious during the fourth quarter, but with three minutes left to go, we went down and got his picture taken with TC and TC's sister, TK. Jaden's face LIT UP. And when he was done giving TC a hug, he walked away and said to me, "I LOVE him!!!" Then Jaden got to run around on the field after the game was over. He ran up to Coach Farley and gave him a HUGE high-five... and then quarterback's coach Mario Verduzco had some fun wrestling around with Jaden for a while. Jaden also enjoyed going under the garage door back by the locker room where the Panthers run out from during the pregame intros. It was a pretty cool experience for our little guy. We can't wait to do it again in two weeks!