Five Seconds of 50 Songs

So I can’t take credit for the title of this post. My brother in law coined the phrase in response to my husband’s issue of only being able to listen to a few seconds of a song before changing it.  At the time I said, ” There it is! Our billion dollar idea!”  “Only play the best parts of your favorite songs!”  Ofcourse, we were just laughing and joking listening to music and maybe karaoking here and there. Our garage party nights at their house are some of my favorite nights.

Fast forward a couple weeks to the Sugar Grove Corn Boil. This is one of my favorite weekends of the summer. If you knew me that might surprise you! I am not a fan of crowds, I detest them.  But somehow at this event no matter how packed it is I am totally chill.  I can’t explain it. Maybe it’s the people who all feel like me…that you have stepped back into a simpler time when people were more kind and easy going.  I am not sure what it is but I truly look forward to the kids riding the rides, food, drinks and good music.

The year that hooked us on the music was the year that Hairbangers Ball was playing the Saturday night show. It was the best thing I had heard in a long time! We were hoping the next year they would be back but no luck. Hairbangers Ball seemed to take off and began traveling all over the state. Which if you have the chance, and you like 80’s hair bands, you must go see them!!

So this particular Saturday I wasn’t quite sure who was playing the 7pm time slot but I can’t say I was too excited about it. That is until they started playing. It was upbeat, fast paced and the crowd was eating it up!!! The group was called Semple Band.  In a gist, they were doing what my husband was doing a few weeks before, playing the best parts of many favorite songs. Although, Semple was much better at blending it all together believe me.  They were so fantastic, that we  were already trying to plot when we could see them again.

So once again, a day late and a dollar short on the billion dollar idea thing, but if you like music like we do go check out these bands. You won’t regret it!

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Cleatless with Blisters

Here goes my rant. Normally this is not in my nature but I am so frustrated trying to find football cleats for my son. I have searched the internet high and low to no avail. About a month ago we stopped at a large sporting goods store hoping and praying, that they might have something that would fit. This is ofcourse nothing new to us, my son just might have the widest paddles(saw someone post this and I loved it) in the world. We found a size 15 wide and we were ecstatic! He loved them and thought they were so comfortable…until he actually started practicing in them.

The problem is that he needs extra wide. Where are these cleats? I mean come on…what do those large lineman wear in college or the NFL. Is there some secret cleat shop that caters only to them? My son now has the most painful blisters…which aren’t just blisters…they are blisters on top of blisters! I really wasn’t sure that was possible but trust me it is! I ofcourse said, “No pain, No gain.”  Which made him wince more. The truth is that he shouldn’t have to suffer. I spent all morning searching all the big footed shops I could find on the internet and found nothing. I would love to hear from some wide paddled people out there… where do you find these cleats?

Saying goodbye to handwritten letters.

Last night my son, Drew, was finishing up a journal entry for school and wanted us to read it.  My older son grabs it and begins to read out loud in a voice and manner that only a big brother knows how to do. He had us all cracking up and I wondered if my journal entries from school would be as entertaining.  There began my hunt in the basement for the box that Mom and Dad had given me years ago with all my stuff from school. Amazingly I didn’t have to dig to deep for it. There it was my 5th grade journal. Covered in smelly stickers and declarations of my love for the Iowa Hawkeyes.  I was shockingly surprised that a Mead spiral notebook hasn’t changed much in 30 years.

I began to read what I had written and it was like I time warped back to 1985. Everything I wrote about I had forgotten, but still remembered? How cool it was to imagine me sitting at my desk looking at the chalkboard for our daily journal prompts. All the kids in the room quiet and reflecting on a topic and what it meant to them. I was surprised at how adult some of my thoughts were. Who knew adults like to drink “Gin Atomics,” (which was on my list of items for the best Thanksgiving meal ever). It had me thinking about my own kids and how I just couldn’t imagine those thoughts in their little brains. It was definitely eye opening for me to realize they pay attention to way more than I thought they did. Albeit, there were a lot of childish thoughts too…more age appropriate and naive.  I can only imagine what a treat all those journals were to read for our teacher.

The kids of course wanted to see my handwriting and how horrible it was. So I handed it over to them and much to their dismay not only was the handwriting great but it was in cursive. They couldn’t read it very well! What a shame they don’t learn the beauty of writing in cursive. It is an art, and I guess as the handwritten word slowly disappears so does the need to learn it. I still deep down wish it wasn’t this way. There is something so special about reading a handwritten letter that they will never know. I am so happy the schools have not taught typing early so I can treasure their handwritten stories. Imagine if the Declaration of Independence was on a typed piece of paper; wouldn’t it seem cold and unfeeling? Handwriting has a way of connecting you to the person who wrote it. It truly is something to be treasured.

I have saved several things people have written to me over the years. I enjoy reading them again and again. I still have the letter my father wrote to me when I was homesick at college, the “poems” my friend Mendy sent me which always made me smile, birthday cards galore, the sweet letters my husband wrote me while we were dating. The list goes on and on. Maybe I am a pack rat but I am so happy that I saved these things. I wish my kids knew what it was like to see a letter to them in the mailbox. It is definitely a different feeling than getting a text or email. I think my generation may be one of the last to know. Thinking back I wish I would have done something cool like written my kids letters every year on their birthday and mailed it to them. Well, I guess I will save that one for my grandkids if we still have mail service. It sure has me wondering what our methods of communication will be by then, hard to imagine.
 

Burlap Christmas Wreath

I have just discovered I have a new skill! We can add wreath-maker to my list of accomplishments. Truth is that I absolutely hate buying wreaths. They are always expensive and they are never what I like. I just knew there had to be something out there I would like so as usual I went to pinterest to check it out. I absolutely fell in love with a burlap version I saw on there.  Simple, natural, rustic…all the things I love in a wreath. Well I had kept that wreath in the back of my mind for a good month thinking I would finally get my act together and attempt one before the holidays.

As football season drew to a close and we prepared for our end of season party I was trying to think of something really nice to give to all our team moms. I wanted to give them something more heartfelt than just a gift card— I wanted them to know how much I appreciated all that they did for our team–and they did alot! I thought what could be better than something homemade?  Of course 1 day before the party I remember the burlap wreath. I hurried out and bought all the supplies I would need at Michaels and raced home to begin my marathon wreath making session.

Once home I pulled up the you tube video on how to make the darn thing and as usual my phone dies. I go get the computer and it is uploading new updates…so I turn to the ipad and it too was not working. That’s my life. I ended up watching one video and so I thought how hard could it be? After several attempts at trying and frustrated I just decided to give it a go…just make the damn thing!  Well after about 30 minutes of weaving burlap in and out of the wire form I decided it didn’t look half bad! I whipped out 2 wreaths in about 3 hours…it was a miracle. Beside sore fingers (who knew burlap was so rough) I was just thrilled!

I decorated each one with Christmas greenery and berries and a letter monogram. Now this is something I would hang on my door. I have yet to make myself one because I just can’t wait to make these as Christmas gifts for my family. I now just might have a new profession! Wreaths anyone? I am now taking orders!

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Monical’s Pizza: Sweet & Tart Dressing

I was so excited a couple of weeks ago when my mom and dad came for a visit and  brought me something very very special. This coveted item below.

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Monical’s Sweet & Tart Dressing

If you have never had it on their delicious thin crust pizza then you aren’t living in the Midwest. Living in Central Illinois you might take this wonderful concoction for granted. I sure did. Even up here by Chicago you cannot find a Monical’s Pizza (wishing and praying that changes someday!) My son likes to eat it on mashed potatoes—he is a goombah. It is actually dressing, so I am guessing it would be good on salad too!  But what is wonderful is that you can order this delicious sauce-y sauce online here. Since we don’t have a Monical’s pizza close to us, we use it on just about every other pizza we buy.  The closest I can come to Monical’s up here is probably Connie’s Pizza. I can find their frozen pizzas at most grocery stores.1_small

But if you are ever driving through Illinoisor Indiana and are craving pizza try to find a Monical’s  near you. I bet you will love the dressing as much as our family does! Go check out their pinterest page for recipes too.

Fostering a Rescue: It wasn’t in the cards for me.

About a month ago I was interested in fostering a dog from a local rescue, Starfish Animal Rescue,based in the Chicago suburbs.  They do a wonderful job working with the kill shelters in Kentucky to try to get as many pups as they can rescued and in to foster homes.  One day while perusing FB,  I saw a post on my feed of dogs needing fosters for the next transport. That is when I saw him, the dog that looked like our Rigs coming out of the same shelter! I felt like it was fate. Much to my husband’s chagrin,(he thinks we already have enough heartbeats in this house), he gave the go ahead.

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It was going to be perfect! I raced to my computer and printed out the application and sent it back. My only reservation being “What if I did find home for him—would I be able to give him up?” I  waited on pins and needles for them to tell me how wonderful I am for opening our home to this poor pup and fostering.  But that didn’t happen. I was sorely mistaken. Apparently, the pup was from a hoarding situation and the reply I received stated that this dog would not be suitable for our family. I was shocked. How could that be?

So, as I do with most things that plague me, I hopped on the internet and researched articles on fostering dogs from hoarding situations.  A fostering blog I ran across laid things out for me. I began to realize the rescue was right. With all the activity in this house that poor dog would have been terrified.  It could have ended up being a bad situation for everyone.  I was overjoyed to see that they found him a foster and he would soon be in a safe environment, but I was let down. As a result I became extremely apprehensive about my ability to foster for many reasons.  What if the dog was horrible with the kids? What if he was great with the kids? What if I got attached? What if we found him a home?  Ahhhh! Owning a pet is a big commitment and fostering is an even bigger commitment. I was completely naive to what I was about to get in to.  Bless the hearts of those wonderful people who foster, it is not an easy thing to do.

So while I pondered all these thoughts,  I decided to be patient and wait to see if there was another dog that would somehow reach out to me. What is meant to be will be.   It was during this time that I got a message from the wonderful woman that had fostered our dog, Rigs. Rigs had a brother(the runt) that went to another family and they were looking to re-home him. If he wasn’t re-homed they were going to see if a rescue could take him. Okay, the heartstrings were pulled.  However, I  knew that if I took this dog I would be hard pressed to think of it as a foster situation. Would I be able to part with him? It is Riggy’s brother!  Am I going to end up as my husband always envisioned? The foster that couldn’t re-home?

I called my husband and told him the situation. He already said yes to fostering the one dog and now how could he say no to this? It was his beloved dog’s brother. Well needless to say we took Ziggy (he was already named that…seriously!)  The kids and I made the trip to go get him and the minute they saw him I knew there would be no parting with him. He is just like our Riggy, same mannerisms and behaviors. It was truly the cutest thing when we figured out they both skip with the same leg held up. It took awhile for them to get use to each other, and no I don’t think they remembered they were brothers. But they are so similar that the transition was easy. Now we have two sweet pups and maybe someday when I buy that huge ranch in the middle of the country, I will pursue fostering again. But for right now I am happy that I wasn’t foster material.

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My View from the Sidelines— What I Have Learned From Youth Sports.

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I love watching my sons play sports(football mostly)—there is nothing like it for me.  At times it can be bit stressful especially if we are playing a team with obnoxious parents.  We have just come off a game playing a team exactly like that. The parents were walking through our crowd yelling “We’re #1! We’re #1!” It still burns me—If only I had no dignity or conscience I might have given them a few choice words.   Most of the time  I try to stay calm (I am suppose to set an example right?) I am famous for afterward wishing I woulda, shoulda, coulda. However, I know my boys appreciate my tight lips.

“It is a fine line keeping everyone grounded in reality”

Throughout the years of youth sports,  I have seen many things on the sidelines, not just the classless parents of our recent opponents.  I have seen our own parents berate volunteer coaches, I have seen our parents not understand the skill set of their child (Size and speed do matter!),  I have seen coaches not put my son in to play, I have seen my boys cry after a loss, I have seen them cry after a win, I have seen it all—the beauty of it all. The sweaty, dirty, blood stained beauty of it all. Which always makes doing laundry interesting (Zout® and Resolve Gold® I worship you!). The lessons I have taken away have been invaluable to me and my sons. I have learned it is a fine line keeping everyone grounded in reality—kids,parents, and coaches too. As my husband says, “None of this really amounts to a hill of beans.” How right he is, I love that guy!

“Youth sports is a battlefield!”

As a personal rule I have always tried to let my guys stand on their own two feet.  I thankfully only had to get involved a couple of times when my middle son was never put in to play at all during several games (he was only 8 years old).  I was not proud of it though—I didn’t want to do it. Its hard to know when is the right time to complain and or the repercussions of being “that” parent.  I never asked for my son to be a QB or run the ball(that apparently is a big deal for some parents). The truth is my kids weren’t built for that so I kind of got off easy on that one. However, it seems in this day and age that life does not move slow, hang back and hold your tongue, and you are about guaranteed to be run over by a truck. Youth sports is a battlefield!  But you don’t have to let it be. Fostering good relationships takes a little bit of effort but it is worth it in the end. Your kid will appreciate it, the coach will appreciate it and thus the team benefits.

“I expect coaches to be partial to their own kid”

I have always had a real appreciation for all of our coaches knowing they are volunteering their time. I seriously don’t know how they do it. We have been fortunate in that most of our coaches have put the kids in the right positions and try to give adequate playing time. But there have been few coaches that are coaching strictly to highlight their own kid, win or lose. We all know who they are—everyone who has children in youth sports knows of at least one. And yes, that kid is usually in the QB position or a running back in football. The parents on the sidelines take notice of the preferential treatment and thus begins a season of sideline griping. In my opinion a coach’s kid must have the talent to back it up—no brainer right? Well unfortunately for some parent coaches it is not. However, I expect, yes I do, that the coaches be partial to their own kid. Why? Because it is alot of time and effort on their part. If I am so disgruntled then why am I not coaching instead of sitting on the sidelines?  It was always my philosophy that I don’t care where my son plays just as long as he plays. The rest is up to him—put forth the effort and the field is wide open!

 …kids must be coachable for petes sake!

 If you want your kid to be successful your kids must be coach-able for petes sake! Parents—quit badmouthing coaches around your kids, if you have an issue keep it from them. They will go through years of sports thinking every coach is out to get them and that it is someone elses fault they are not the star QB or running back.  As parents we must be realistic, understand our kids strength and push them in that direction.  They will be given chances to prove what they are capable of but they have to want it too. And they won’t if they think they have no chance. If you are having issues privately contact the coach with your concerns.  It will not benefit your child to discuss with him the issues you are having with his coaches.  A good rule of thumb is to wait 24 hours from the incident before contacting coaches with your concerns. If the coach is a good one—they will be completely open to hearing you out without giving you excuse after excuse for what they are doing. (I know that one from experience!)  There is nothing more sweet than seeing your kid overcome and be successful. Very sweet indeed!

Coaches—Motivate don’t denigrate!

Now don’t get me wrong—there are some coaches that just don’t get it; what it is all really about. Coaches we are talking about you being a part of shaping the lives of young boys into respectable young men. Show some respect!!! This lady is not a fan of constant panic yelling. The kids do not respond well to it and it leaves the parents feeling spiteful. I want to see a coach who has a passion for the sport and a passion for seeing each kid excel. Positivity is the key—the best teams we have been on have all been positively reinforced. No screaming at the kids about everything they did wrong for 20 minutes after the game. Motivate don’t denigrate! I am all for being tough but be tough with training them to be the best they can be.  There is a big difference. At this age they don’t hold on to a game… after a bad one all I have to do is take my kid for a burger and it is all but forgotten.

“Sports are suppose to be fun!”

We as parents must take time out to see the full scope of what sports are really about. Youth sports are not the end all.  The truth is maybe 1% of our youth athletes will get to a higher level.  I never think about my kids being professional athletes, if they do and it is their passion—awesome! But I want to know what their other interests are too.  I always tell my boys—sports are suppose to be fun —if it is not fun and you don’t enjoy it we will try something else. That is exactly what happened with baseball. We spent alot of time and money on travel baseball and realized we were doing it for the wrong reasons.  Neither of my sons enjoyed playing and as a result, we as parents didn’t enjoy watching.  It is hard to see your kids miserable even though they may have some skill at it.  And as a parent you  are thinking “I spent all this money, you better enjoy it!”   Ahh! It was a battle and it wasn’t worth fighting.  Now my kids both just do the sport they love more than anything, football,  and I have noticed such a difference in their confidence levels.  I have decided to scale back on pushing my kids to do sports back to back.  We as a family needed a break actually, time  together outside of youth sports. Truth is that the years are rolling by and special family moments outside of sports were becoming more rare.  I believe that what the kids honestly will remember more than sports is that family time.  A lesson I learned from years of playing back to back sports as a youth. I only remember a handful of those games and I believe it will be no different with them.

 

 

 

Doggie-Oggies

There is nothing more remarkable than the love of a pet. It is hard for me to imagine a life without that kind of unconditional love. These two deserve a spot on the blog…because well…they are just so darn cute!

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Jack’s Hot Corn Dip…My Most Requested Recipe

In honor of the huge weekend of football we have ahead of us, I thought I would share my son Jack’s favorite dip recipe. When we think football food, this is it.  It truly is a recipe that has been requested from me over and over. We have tweaked this recipe that I found on Pinterest years ago. The original can be found here Hot Corn Dip. The first time I made this was for a family get together but before I knew it I had eaten half of the thing along with my sister in law. The crusty cheese bits on the edge just reel you in. Once you have succumbed to it, you find yourself hovering around the dish saying ” Just one more bite.” Walking away takes the will of a God.  It truly is a joy to bring to a gathering because it provides much entertainment. Just sit back and watch which one of the guests has been overtaken by its charm. They usually are not very far away from it. It always makes me giggle! You will definitely not bring any of this home with you. So if you love it as we do…you better make a double batch:) Go Knights!!

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Jack’s Hot Corn Dip