Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking Back and Ahead

Another year has come and gone.  The old cliche about time passing faster the older you get is very true.  My kids are growing up faster than my heart wants to allow, and I'm trying to cherish every moment.

This year brought me so much to be grateful for.  My kids are happy and healthy, able to pursue their interests and dreams.  J has come so far with his baseball.  He continues to amaze me every day with his dedication and determination to make his dream a reality.  N has discovered a love of music that will hopefully stay with him for a lifetime.  He's blossomed as a singer and it warms my heart whenever I hear him sing.  A continues to be her sassy, unique self, and brings laughter and sunshine to our lives.  All three kids are doing well in school, for which I am very proud of all of them.  Hubby has a steady job with good security, providing all of us with all that we need and more.  I've been blessed with an amazing family that I couldn't be more proud of.

The year ahead promises to be filled with fun and excitement.  J will be playing high school ball again and continue his training.  In the summer, he'll play for TP again in what promises to be a fun and competitive season.  He'll be back in the pool by late spring, and is sure to go far in his junior swim season.  N is looking forward to beginning piano lessons and achieving his Arrow of Light award for Cub Scouts.  A will have three baton competitions in the upcoming months, as well as continuing with dance and Daisy scouts.  In June, we'll travel to Virginia for Cousin B's high school graduation.  The rest of our summer travels will be with TP as they travel the state for weekend tournaments.  When a new school year begins in the fall, I'll have a first grader, a sixth grader, and a high school junior, which is hard for me to fathom.  I plan to cherish and enjoy every moment of the year ahead.

Wishing you and yours a healthy and happy new year!  

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Word From Coach C

Hello all,
         When Mrs. M asked me to write a guest post for the blog I was excited by the opportunity to relay my thoughts to her readers directly. As you know by the earlier posts on this blog J is currently participating in an extensive strength and conditioning program which is coupled with a stringent diet. Both programs have been crafted to enhance J's athleticism, thus improving his baseball ability and consequentially putting him in a better position to impress colleges. When I first began coaching J I was immediately impressed with his work ethic. While there were certain parts of his game that needed improvement, his unyielding support for his teammates along with his unbreakable spirit made him stand out on a team filled with high caliber ball players. As a coach, it is both my job and passion to construct programs and help players take their game as far as they'd like to go: however, there are certain young men who inspire coaches to go the extra mile. While I always provide help to players who ask, there are certain players that I actually want to help, because I know that they will give me their all no matter what. As a coach, thats all I can ever ask for, and J is one of these individuals. He is a young man of the finest quality, and his commitment to this strenuous program is a testament to his tremendous character. As of right now, I would honestly rate J's progress as very good, but with room for improvement. Now that I have corrected certain misunderstandings he had in regards to the form of his lifts, I am very excited to see his gains. I'll have him all week next week on the beach at mini camp which will be a nice jump start to help him prepare for tryouts. The way I see it, J is in an excellent position to make a run at his dreams. He is surrounded by a loving mother, a supportive father, and along with two very energetic siblings they create a wonderful family that will be the foundation for not only his success in baseball, but his future successes in life. To me, that is what this program has been about. it is a program aimed at improving his physique and bettering himself as an athlete, but it is designed to challenge him not only physically, but mentally. It cultures not merely muscle growth, but emotional growth. It builds confidence, because when J looks back on how far he's gone, and how much he's accomplished, he can be proud of what he has done. My philosophy of practice is that confidence stems from a player earning something. When a player has toiled, and worked, and battled in practice, he has earned the right to win. That is confidence. Regardless of results, rewards, or retribution, as other players sat and did nothing, J has proven that he is not simply common, but that he is extraordinary. To me, that is more important than any home run, any diving catch, any victory. To me, that is the greatest victory of all. I hope you all continue to support J as he continues on his journey, I know he appreciates it. And I hope you all continue to be as proud of him as I am. Thank you for your time.

-Coach C

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Dream Team

Regular readers of this blog know J's history with Coach C.  To recap quickly for new readers or those not in the know, J met Coach C when he went to try out for the TP summer team last April.  Right from the start, he and Coach C clicked,  and J had tremendous respect for him as a coach.  Hubby and I were impressed with  the way Coach C coached not just J, but the entire team.  Over the course of the summer, as we came to know Coach C better, hubby and I decided to ask how he felt about mentoring J as he pursues his dream of playing college and possibly professional baseball.  Coach C agreed and what began as a partnership to help J on his road to college baseball rapidly turned into a lasting friendship.

Coach C has provided training, support and friendship to J for the past eight months.  In that time period, hubby and I have come to know Coach C not just as a fantastic baseball coach, which he is, but as a truly good hearted young man whom we now consider part of our family.  We're extremely grateful to have Coach C as a coach, mentor, role model, and friend for J.  We're also grateful for the way he has become a friend to N and A, and to us.  He's much more than J's coach to all of us.  He's a treasured friend.

Over these past eight months,  as I've watched J and Coach C working so hard, I've come to think of them as something of a dream team.  Hubby and I are supporting members of the team, since J's training is a real group effort.  But J and Coach C are the heart and soul of the team.   J's the heart because it's his dream that led us all to this point.  And I do believe that all paths led us to exactly where we are right now.  Coach C is the soul, because without his expertise and guidance, none of this would have been possible.  He not only maps out the entire program, he offers unending support and encouragement to all of us.  I've  frequently shared my thoughts on J's training.  And recently I shared J's point of view.  So I thought it made perfect sense to ask Coach C to share his point of view.  He's agreed to do a guest post sharing his thoughts and feelings on J's training.  Look for it in a day or two.  I'm sure you'll enjoy hearing from him!

She's Got Swag

Anyone who has met A can tell you that she is a unique combination of sassy, sweet, and funny. There's no telling what she might do or say at any given moment.  She keeps everyone who knows her in stitches.  Recently a friend asked me if I was writing down all the funny things A says and does.  This post seemed like a good place to highlight some of A's funnier moments.

The day after Christmas A got dressed in a new outfit, put an iPod in her pocket, and informed me she had "swag" while dancing to whatever song was playing in her ear buds.

When she first joined the baton team, I asked A if she was excited about getting to go to baton competitions.  Her reply, "Is that where I get to fight other baton girls?"

A planning her wedding to Coach C, complete with choosing the wedding party, the venue, and the cake flavor.  She generously agreed to moving the venue if Coach C has class on the chosen date.

The creative ensembles A comes up with when dressing herself.  Past favorites include a jersey, leggings, fuzzy robe, princess slippers, and sunglasses.  Another favorite was her school uniform, leg warmers, a heart print fleece jacket, princess hat and gloves, and the princess slippers.

A informing J's friend R that he couldn't be her boyfriend because she's marrying  Coach C.   She told R he would just have to deal with it and get over her.

The poses A strikes anytime there is a camera in the vicinity.  I've included some of my favorites below:

So there you are.  Some of A's latest and greatest moments.  I'm sure there are countless ones that I've forgotten, and many more to come.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Seventeen Weeks Done

J has completed seventeen weeks of his training program.  Seventeen weeks of hard work and dedication are behind him.  Week eighteen begins today, and along with it, the countdown to school try outs begins.  Try outs are in four weeks and J is determined to be ready.  Coach C is determined to have him ready.  As usual, I'm here to do whatever the two of them need me to do to help make it happen.

Let me start off by giving you a brief update on how Coach C feels J has done up to this point.  J has made definite progress overall and is likely in the best shape he's ever been in.  However, there are a few areas for even more improvement.  Coach C was able to come over last week and monitor J during his workout.  Some of the exercises J had been doing correctly and he moved him to a more advanced level.  There were a few though that J had not been doing quite correctly.  So after razzing him for an appropriate amount of time, Coach C corrected his form and got him on the right track.  J has not gained the weight that Coach C had hoped and the conclusion is that J has not been lifting heavy enough weights.  So for the next four weeks Coach C has changed up his lifting routine, J is increasing the weight he's using, and trying some new exercises.  He's doing well with his running program and in fact begins the fifth workout in the running series this week.   This past weekend, he and Coach C spent time on the baseball field working on his mechanics.  Coach C is pretty happy with him there, but again, there are some areas they are focusing on intently to polish J for try outs.   The week following New Year's they will be hitting the beach for five days of intense training before school resumes for both of them.

For me, it's been nice having Coach C home and available to take over the monitoring of J's training for the time being.  J is happy to have him around, despite the increased intensity because he gets so much out of the methods  Coach C uses to coach him.   J's training is a real group effort, with all of us working together to get J where he needs to be.  Hubby, Coach C, and I are all so proud of him for everything he's achieved these past seventeen weeks.  He's done fantastic and the pay off for all the hard work is right around the corner.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pageant Memories

Tomorrow is one of my favorite events of the year, the annual school Christmas Pageant.  This week has been crammed full of rehearsal, prepping costumes, and helping the teachers make sure everything runs smoothly.  This will be the twelfth year I've watched the pageant and I'm looking forward to it just as much as I was all those years ago when J was in it for the very first time.  I thought I'd share some of my favorite memories of pageants past.

My very first pageant, when J was a tiny star, along with all the other pre-k students.  It made me cry then, just like it will tomorrow.

J as the star on the Christmas tree in 2nd gr looking sleepy enough to topple off the top of the risers.

N as a herald angel in first grade, proudly carrying his golden horn.

N in second grade leading the other second graders in singing "O Christmas Tree" and Jesus Loves Me".

The school choir singing "O Come All Ye Faithful" in both English and Latin.

J as a lead shepherd in 8th gr, giving the opening remarks at the start of the pageant.  It was the first time in school history it was done by a student rather than the principal.

A making her pageant debut last year as a pre-k star.

J in the audience for the first time last year, quietly singing along with all the songs.

A sitting on the altar drumming on her knees to the beat of "The Little Drummer Boy".

I have many more pageant memories, but these are truly my favorites.  I can't wait to add some more tomorrow.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Weekend Fun

This weekend was a typically busy one for us, though we did some not so typical stuff.  First up, N's chorus had their holiday concert Saturday evening.  Beforehand, the entire family went out for a late lunch at a Japanese steakhouse to celebrate Cousin C's birthday.  The concert was held at a nearby senior center as part of a holiday celebration for the members.  Families were  able to attend, too, and the chorus sounded wonderful as always.   The director, Mrs. S, does a great job with the group.  Below is a picture of N in his formal chorus uniform.

Following the concert, hubby, J, A, J's friend R, and I headed for UF, where J and R were scheduled to attend a camp on Sunday(N stayed behind to attend a cub scout event).  We spent the night in a hotel due to the early morning camp check in time.  Sunday morning, we headed to the baseball stadium for the camp.  Coach C joined us to observe the camp, much to A's delight (yes, she's still crushing on him).  J did pretty well during the camp, though Coach C did give him some things he needs to work on.  Midway through the day, Coach C left to attend an event at his fraternity and hubby, A, and I met our friend K and her three kids for lunch.  We hadn't seen them in three years, so it was nice getting to catch up.  After lunch, we met Coach C back at the stadium to watch the remainder of the camp.  Following the camp, Coach C took us on a tour of the UF campus, which we all, especially J, enjoyed.  We capped off the day with dinner out, where Coach C discussed J's training with him and outlined what he'll be doing the next several weeks.  Let's just say it will be intense!  I've included a few photos from the day below.