Saturday, June 26, 2010

Why I love Major League Soccer

Now that World Cup play is over for the USA National Team, I wonder how long people in America will pay attention to soccer. My hope is that there becomes a greater appreciation and following of this really awesome sport.

Dean and I have lived in Sandy, Utah for four years, and the first two years we lived here, the Rio Tinto soccer stadium was being built. When an opportunity arose to purchase season tickets, we took the attitude, "We need to support the home team." How many people have a major league soccer stadium within walking distance from their house?! We do.

We toured the stadium before it was complete and picked out our seats. We have season tickets in the "fan section" behind the north goal...8 rows up. 2009 was the first year that Real Salt Lake played in Sandy, Utah, and I never thought I would love soccer games as much as I do. Our Real won the Major League Soccer national championship in 2009, and we screamed our freaking heads off. We thought long and hard about whether we could afford to renew our season tickets for 2010. We decided to make the investment. It's a great way to spend an evening with family and friends, and we've had a lot of enjoyment from our investment.Here are a few reasons why I grew to love soccer so much.

This is a view from our seats. It's an incredible view, and it's so much fun to be right near the north goal and so close to the pitch. This picture was taken last year during the MLS All-Star Game. If you look closely, you can see the the sky..a bit off to the left...above the cloud line (not really, but in the picture it looks that way). Here is another view from our seats. This was the first game of the 2009 Season against Columbus. Another reason that I love the game so much is because we get to share time with friends and family. This is a picture of me and Dominique at the MLS All Star Game.This is a picture from last night's game against San Jose. Carolyn and Julian Jesse and Elle (my soccer buddy). Of course the game and its players are "the" reason that I've grown to appreciate and love my local soccer team. The following pictures were taken at last night's game against San Jose that ended in a draw. This is also a way to show off my rocking new long distance lens for my Cannon camera. **End of showing of my lens!**

Another thing that I love about my team is that they are fan friendly. Below is Leo the Lion: the team mascot. I love the little leo with him in this picture. The RSL organization is generous with Leo. He welcomed all of the kids at Sandy Elementary back to school last August. The RSL organization has always been willing to donate tickets or memorabilia when I ask on behalf of the PTA. I cannot say enough great things about how fan friendly they are! See this guy (below)? This is Nat Borchers. He happens to be Elle's favorite player. Let me tell you about this guy. Every game, he makes a point to point to the crowd and give the fans a round of applause. How classy and respectful is that! See this guy (below)? This is Javier Morales. He is a wonderful player, and he happens to be Dominique's favorite player. Last summer I dragged Dominique with me to the fan appreciation event that RSL has up at Snowbird. It's a great time! Fans have access to the players and can get autographs and pictures. Those guys were all so gracious and respectful of the fans. They stayed for extra time because there were still folks who wanted to get an autograph. This is Dom posing with Kyle Beckerman (team captain) and Nat. I won Elle a jersey, and Nat signed it for her. She was THRILLED. Dominique was so upset that I gave Elle the jersey that I won. (It was a really nice, authentic jersey worth $100.) I got it for Elle because I knew that it would mean a lot to her. Dom kept working me over for a jersey of her own. I finally gave in and let her get one....which cost considerably less than $100. Her favorite player is Javier (in the background, photo below). She waited in line for a long, long time (TWICE) to get him to sign the jersey. She wears that thing all of the time. The JM that he used as his signature has faded, but she took a sharpie and wrote over it :-) That made me laugh, but it also let me know that she really appreciates the jersey and the signature or at least wants to show it off for her friends...See this kid (below)? I don't even know who he is, but It is a GREAT example of how awesome the guys are during the client event. They are wonderful to the fans! See these guys (below?) This is part of the coaching staff. Coach Jason Kreis is in the middle. He was a player for RSL before he became the head coach. He was recognized by the President at the White House a few weeks ago! Here is the video of the guys being recognized by the President! So proud of them!

See this game (above)? This was a game last year against Seattle. See Robbie Findley (right in front of 77?) We're so proud that Robbie represented RSL in the World Cup, and we'll be glad to have him back. Probably my all time favorite reason that I love RSL because it's freaking fun to watch. Below are two videos...both taken during a shoot out at the All Star Game last year. The game ended in a tie then required a shoot out. Each team gets 5 attempts at the goal, and whoever scores the most goals, wins. It's like a penalty kick (just the kicker and the goalie). You'll see the first one where the US makes it and the second one where England doesn't. Unfortunately, England got one more goal than us, but that game was one of my all time favorites. If you have a local soccer team...give it a whirl. You might really, really enjoy it. I will say that soccer is so much better in person than it is on TV. It's all about the experience of the game. I don't feel that way about all sports. I prefer baseball in person, too. Basketball and football I love on TV. gotta be there! Try it! You just might learn to love it!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Elementary school is but a memory....

I can't even tell you how freaking sad I am that Dominique is no longer in elementary school. She is super excited about middle school, but Dean and I were openly crying at her last performance of her 6th grade year. It's not just that she is out of elementary....ALL of the kids are out of elementary!
Here are a few memories of Dominique from elementary school!

This is when Domi was 5 years old and almost done with Kindergarten. This picture is taken in Nauvoo, Illinois.

This is when Domi was 6th and in the 1st grade. She loved her hair that way!

Second grade back to school night at Wastach Elementary.

The second grade performance about "How the Baby Elephant got its trunk." Freaking adorable!
Third grade at Sandy Elementary School.
The "wax museum" that the 3rd graders put on. She was Queen Elizabeth and had to sit still like she was a wax figure.

1st day of school: 4th GRADE!

This is Dom and two of her friends jamming out to karaoke on TV: FUNKYTOWN!
4th Grade softball....the Chili Peppers.

This is right before 5th grade began. She BEGGED us to let her shave her legs.

5th Grade

Christmas in the 5th Grade

Winter violin concert, 5th Grade

6th Grade Picture

Spring musical...doesn't she look thrilled!

Final 6th Grade Performance!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Little Kid Art my favorite kind of art. Dominique has always liked to draw. Today I gave her an old bulletin board. I haven't ever hung it in this house, so I know that these drawings are at least 4 years old. They were probably done when she was 7 years old.

I miss the days when she used to draw me pictures and bring them to me. Her favorite thing to draw was butterflies. Sometimes she still draws; she likes to do design dresses and other outfits. She doesn't like me to look at them, though. *Sigh*

Here are some oldies but goodies.....

"I love those shoes....."

I found something today that brought back a memory worth sharing. When Bradley graduated from the 6th Grade, I promised him we would go shoe shopping. The kid loved his shoes more than any woman I know. Seriously, he knew shoes like he knows cars...and he can look at any car from a distance and tell you all kinds of things about it.

I went with him to the mall...which is right then and there a sacrifice. I hate the mall. We went to Footlocker where he found his dream shoes. They were a black pair of Jordans that were really nice. He tried on the first shoe, and it was lovely. Then the store clerk pulled out the second shoe, and it was red. I mentioned that he needed the matching shoe. I was informed that the shoe he pulled out WAS the match. Yep, it was one black shoe, one red shoe with the trademark 2 and 3 one the left and right shoe, respectively.

I recall being a bit aghast that they would actually design mismatching shoes, but I was assured that I was the one out of the loop and that these shoes were the new thing. Bradley loved these shoes. I mean, he really loved the shoes. I had allocated $50.00 for the purchase of new athletic footwear, and this blew the budget by almost 100%. After a slew of promises, I agreed to buy the shoes on one condition; he had to agree to accept a reduced allowance for the rest of the summer. Since I'm in sales, I made him fill out an impromptu contract and sign it for me.

This is what I found today:
This was our written contract (which is missing one key word). I also had the sales guy sign the contract as a witness; that is his name in the upper right hand corner. (And I wonder why my kids all need therapy!) I'm sure I held him to it, and he was a willing participant. He LOVED those shoes.

Several weeks into our contract, he did something wrong...I can't remember any of the details now, but he needed to have a consequence. We tried to think of what would have meaning to him to so that he would feel a bit uncomfortable with the punishment...and so that he wouldn't want to do whatever it was again. He was 12 at the time. We told him that he would have his shoes taken away for a week (or whatever it was). He accepted his punishment and went to his room.

Several minutes later, I heard him sobbing in his room. I mean, full on body shakes, tears, leaned up against the wall with his head buried in the crook of his arm. I went into his room to ask him what was the matter. I thought that maybe his mother had called; that always made him cry because he missed Seattle so much. I remember saying, "Did your mom call?" "What is wrong?"

Through his tears he said in that choppy voice you have when you are all worked up, "" More crying.

It about broke my freaking heart.

Dean came in to see what was the matter. I told him. Dean looked at me and said, "Well, was this his first offense? Maybe the punishment didn't really fit the crime." Trust me, I'm sure that the punishment did fit the crime, but at this point in time, mercy was kicking in over justice. Right on the spot, we readjusted our punishment and gave him a different consequence with the promise that next time he did whatever it was he had done that he would risk losing his beloved shoes.

I love that story for so many reasons. That kid LOVED those shoes. He wore them until they didn't fit anymore. I love those days when it was easy to figure out what mattered to him and try and motivate him with those things that mattered to him. He's always worn two different color socks; that is his "thing." The two colored shoes just fit naturally. I've told that story plenty of times when I talk about justice vs mercy. As one who is all about the justice and slim on the mercy, it's a nice reminder. I also love that he loved those shoes so much that he spilt tears for them. Carrie Bradshaw would be proud!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The good, the bad and the ugly....

Since the inception of this family blog, I've kept it fairly upbeat and positive choosing to air my opinions on my personal blog. I grapple sometimes with whether or not I should share "less favorable" family news on the blog, and I have chosen not to. Trust me, there are A LOT of unfavorable posts that could have made it on here.

I often wonder if I'm creating a false image of who our family is. I don't think so. I consider this more of a photo journal rather than a newsy blog about the goings on in our family. Our family is FAR from perfect. We have just as many heartaches and sorrows as we do picture perfect moments. We have fights just like every other family does. We have struggles with our kids....just like every other family does. Having kids the age we do, we also tend to have a lot of extraneous drama going on. Any given day is a hodge podge of the good, the bad and the ugly. In the spirit of full disclosure, I think it's important to put that out there.

I don't want to go on with this blog pretending like all is well in our family. It's not. There has been a major disruption lately, and I wanted to blog about it. If I really began to express my feelings about it, I would never stop. So, I won't. Suffice it to say that our oldest son, Bradley, has moved out. It's been a little over three weeks since he first left.

He has desired his independence and his freedom from our rules and our standards of accountability for a long time. We always intended for him to move on after he graduated from high school. His premature departure created more angst in our family than was necessary, but it is what it is. He currently is staying in a room with our next door neighbors, Kim and Doreen. I can't tell you how thankful I am for these women. They care about Bradley, and they have been absolutely wonderful to him. I know that he is safe, and above all else, that is most important.

Bradley did not graduate from high school yesterday with his class. He failed to meet the requirements necessary for that to happen. I can't even tell you the heartache that this caused in our family. We so wanted him to graduate from high school. Dean and I have worked so hard over his junior high and high school career to try and help him. We have gone to extreme measures at times to help him get on the right path and ensure that he had more choices rather than fewer choices in his youth. For him to fall short in the last quarter of his high school career was beyond disappointing.

Every person has his right to make choices in this life. As parents we are only doing the best we can to teach them, guide them and help them. The child must do his part as well.

I deeply hope for Bradley that he figures our who he is. I hope that he chooses to live an authentic and honest life some day. I hope that he figures out how love is different than teenage lustful desires and "being in love." I hope that he gets his high school diploma. I hope that once he finds out who he is that he is true to that person. Interestingly, these are the same things that I have hoped for Bradley for a long, long time. We've been through a lot with him, and we have drug him through kicking and screaming (in his passive aggressive way) for the last 6 years.

I have done all that I can do for Bradley. I have given all I have to give, and my cup is empty. For now, I am relying on the generosity of others to buoy me up. A sweet woman from church came to me a few weeks ago and said, "My cup runneth over, and what extra I have, I share with you." It was once of the most charitable things that someone said to me in a very long time. My friends and extended family have been wonderful to me and my family. There is not a true friend who knows me and Dean who doesn't know how hard we have worked to help this child.

So, as he moves on, it is with mixed emotions. I'm anxious for the day that he moves away from the neighbor's house and puts action to all of his rhetoric. He hasn't really moved out...he's moved next door. I can't wait until he gets a job, moves out on his own and really, really, really starts earning his own way in the world. He claims that he can do it, and we are hopeful that he can. We won't know until others stop enabling him, stop giving him extra chances and stop taking care of him. It is probable that this pattern will continue for him for quite some time though, regrettably.

I'm anxious to see what kind of man that he will be, and I hope above all hopes that I'm the kind of woman who can accept the person he chooses to be.

Being a parent is tough. Being a step-parent is tougher. Being married to Dean and being given the opportunity to parent these four kids had provided me a set of experiences that I could never have had in any other way. I have learned more about myself than I ever dreamed I would. I have grown closer to God because of my experience as a parent. I have a treasure chest full of life experience because of this parenting opportunity. So, through the good, the bad and the ugly, I'm grateful for that.

San Francisco!

In April we (Dean, Wendy and Mariah) had the opportunity to travel to San Francisco and enjoy that great city. Below are some digital scrapbook pages I created. I think they turned out lovely.