Sunday, June 26, 2016

Are you ready for some football?

A friend asked me yesterday to share some football tips and tricks! I started thinking about all of the things I’ve learned in the past 3 years as a football mom and I thought “there’s certainly other parents out there that would like to know this information.” So why not write a blog post about it?! 

Three years ago I entered the world of peewee football absolutely clueless! I knew nothing about equipment, cleats or pads. Thankfully I had friends and family to guide me!
1. Buy whatever you can with built in pads! I think my step-brother (who played peewee and high school football) was the first one to tell me this. He said “trust me, you take those pads in and out so many times.” There are several options. Most players wear girdles under their pants. There are a wide variety with various numbers of pads sewn in. My opinion is the more pads, the better. There are also football pants with built in pads. They’re called “integrated pants.” Your team may sell them or you could buy them in a sporting goods store or online. They are well worth the investment! There are also shirts that can be worn under the shoulder pads that have additional pads in them. Again, more pads=better.

I have personally bought Under Armour girdles and shirts the past few years. You can usually order last year’s design online and they are slightly cheaper than the current year’s design. You want to buy some that are well made and will hold up through wear and washing. 

2. Get cleats that fit well and will hold up through the season. If you’re football program is like ours they practice 3-4 nights a week and have a game every weekend. You need decent cleats. And there are a lot to pick from. Kudos to shoe companies that make them in every color you can imagine and with cartoon characters on them! Last year my son had bright green and purple Under Armour Joker cleats. He just had to have them! Unfortunately they did not hold up so great. I’m not sure if he was just really hard on them or if he outgrew them or they just weren’t made well. But by the end of the season they were showing several visible signs of wear on the inside. Bottomline…don’t buy just for looks. 

Also, if your child has a wide foot like my son’s, there aren’t many to pick from in the kids sizes. Adult sizes do have a few. 

Fancy football socks are not absolutely necessary. They look cool but really don't do anything special. And they're just one more thing that you have to wash and locate before the game!

3. Mouthgards-Players have to have them. There are these silly flavored ones that are much more expensive and not worth it all all. Just buy a regular one. The ones with the strap are a must.

4. Preparing for Games-The first season my son played I was not well prepared for the first few pre-season games. I’ll never forget getting out of the car and realizing that I had no umbrella. I hadn’t checked the weather at all. So I sat through an entire game in the rain, soaking wet. I didn’t even have a towel. Now I carry my “end of the world” bag to every single game! (That’s what my son calls it!)

Here’s what I take:
  1. Thirty One Large Utility Tote with Top-A-Tote lid (the lid is nice if it rains!)
  2. Roll of paper towels-dry off the bleachers, napkins, etc.
  3. Cash-You don’t get in the games for free!
  4. A lot of Bottled Water-I usually freeze mine ahead of time. If it’s really hot, you’ll be glad you did this!
  5. Umbrella(s)
  6. Sunscreen
  7. Hat
  8. Snacks
  9. Blanket(s)-when it gets colder
  10. Coat-when it gets colder
  11. Noisemakers-more about that below
  12. Bleacher Seat or Cushion
  13. Make sure my son has all of his stuff! We only left his helmet once!
5. Noisemakers-I’ve actually never made any myself but other players’ families bring plenty! We have com bells and jugs filled with pennies that have been painted in our team’s colors! Pinterest has some great ideas. 
Photo credit: Jane Bettis Photography

6. My best and most important piece of advice is to have fun, support your kids and their coaches and be involved! Peewee football doesn’t happen for free! Volunteer for the concession stand, work at the gate, bring snacks. Ask your kids’ coaches what you can do to help. Cheer on your kids! Wear obnoxious shirts and hats with your kid's number on them! Football has been a wonderful experience for my son and I hope it is a great experience for your kids too!

Photo credit: Jane Bettis Photography

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Two years later

It's hard for me to believe it's been a whole two years since Jimmy's death. I am still reminded every day by so many little things and so many big things of how much he loved me and Brendon, his family and friends. 

It is not surprising at all that the last words he said to me were "I love you." Only a few hours before he took his last breath, likely knowing this was the end, among all of the tubes, wires, IVs and machines, he managed to tell me that he loved me. 

Many of you know that Jimmy and I didn't exactly have the traditional "dating relationship" before we got married. We were great friends who decided to get married. On the night that we finally decided to get married, the conversation started out with Jimmy telling me that he loved me. I responded, "I plan to marry the next person that says that to me." He said, "Well I intend to marry you." Then he read 1 Corinthians 13 to me. Most people read that passage of scripture and think they are supposed to love others like that. They are, but Jimmy recognized something so much deeper about the passage. He recognized that only Jesus can truly love us like the scripture describes. That night after reading it he told me that he would fail me in trying to love me like the scripture instructs. But he knew that Jesus did love me like that and that only through our relationships with Jesus could we ever truly love one another. In everything Jimmy did he knew it was Jesus loving through him. 

Jimmy's last words to me were a reminder that he did love me but he knew Jesus loved me more and would take care of me. People continue to ask me how I have survived and made it through the death of my husband. My answer will always be that it's all Jesus. Jesus alone gives me hope, peace, assurance, rest and love. 

"Love never fails." 1 Corinthians 13:8

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Ultimate Accountability

In my opinion there’s no better way to be held accountable than to tell others what you need to be held accountable for. So here it goes!

Last Friday night in my women’s bible study I was asked, “What are three specific things in your life keeping you from being more on fire for God?”

My answers:
  1. TV
  2. Laziness
  3. Clutter
That question has stayed with me throughout the past week and I prayed about what I could do about it. How can I change these things in my life so that I am more on fire for God? Then yesterday during my time with God I read Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”  I immediately started thinking that I needed to have an area of focus each month that would help me deal with the things I listed that keep me from being on fire from God. I needed these things to create a pure heart and be renewed. Yesterday I started making a mental list of these things and today I wrote them down! I also wrote them in my prayer journal as a commitment to God.

I’m not sharing them with the world to toot my own horn. I’m sharing them so that my friends will know and hold me accountable! I’m also sharing because I believe others probably struggle with the same things and long for renewal in their relationship with God. 

My list: 

After Brendon got up this morning I shared my list with him and asked him if he wanted to join me in any of these. When I read him the first one he said, “That’s weird. I was just thinking that I needed to save my money and not buy things I don’t need.” I said, “Maybe God was already speaking to you about it.”

Here’s Brendon’s list: 

My relationship with God is the most important thing in my life and I pray that making these commitments will help me grow more in my relationship with Him and be more on fire for Him! I also pray that by sharing this you will be encouraged to grow in a relationship with Him too!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Happy Birthday Brendon!!

I always get a little choked up on Brendon’s birthday as we sing Happy Birthday to him. I can’t help but think about all the years I longed for a child to celebrate a birthday with. And I can’t help but think about what his life may have been like if he wasn’t part of our family. I think about his biological mother and wonder if she remembers that it’s his birthday. 

For years I longed for a child, begged God to grow our family. I remember our first year with Brendon celebrating his birthday. He had only been with our family for a month when his birthday arrived. It sort of became his “coming out party” with our family. I remember him turning and looking at me and saying “who are all these presents for?” I said, “they are for you!” He was so excited and so appreciative of everything. He was so loved on that day (and still is)! And Jimmy and I brimmed with thankfulness. Thankful to our families for loving this little boy so much and mostly thankful to God for allowing us to care for him. 

I always seem to reflect on Brendon’s biological mother on his birthday too. I wonder what she’s doing, if she celebrates his birthday in her own way. I wonder if she reflects on his birth like most birth mothers do. I always say a prayer of thanks for her, especially on Brendon’s birthday. I thank God that she was somehow guided to chose life for this child. I thank God that she allowed us to become Brendon’s parents.

Brendon may not have come into our family the traditional way, not even a traditional adoption, but he’s my child, forever. And I’m so thankful to celebrate his life, especially on his birthday. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Happy 40th Birthday Jimmy

Today would have been Jimmy’s 40th birthday. I’m still heartbroken that he’s gone but I’m so grateful for all he taught me through his life. 

This past Saturday I had the chance to share our adoption story with someone facing infertility. Oddly enough it was during the process of choosing and ordering Jimmy’s grave marker that this conversation took place. I won’t go into all of the details but through telling our story I was reminded of how much I learned from Jimmy throughout our whole adoption experience. 

From the beginning of the whole adoption process, Jimmy and I were always in agreement about everything. It was such a blessing. We agreed that we were open to adopting an older child through foster care. We didn’t care what color the child was or what issues they might have. I truly believe this was all because Jimmy sought God in everything. He was always quoting Philippians 4:6 “In everything by prayer and petition” and that’s how he lived. He took everything to God. 

Every single time we had a phone call, a meeting, a hearing, whatever about our adoption, Jimmy prayed before. I recall driving to Nicholasville on the day we hoped to get custody of Brendon and Jimmy and I just begged God to give us a child. At the same time we told God we’d be content no matter what.

I remember before we even started the adoption process, I expressed some fears to Jimmy about having a child that wouldn’t look like us or have similar personalities to ours. Looking back I realize how silly this fear even was. When I shared this concern with Jimmy, he graciously reminded me that no matter if our child was biological or adopted, our only goal should be for them to look and act like Jesus. He reminded me that a parent’s job isn’t to raise a child who was a “mini-me.” It was to raise a child to love God and love others like Jesus would. 

Jimmy was so wise. I think that’s one of the things I miss the most, his wisdom. I know it came straight from God but he had such insight into God’s Word. 

Over the past 9 months since Jimmy’s passing, I’ve reflected on all the things he stood for, the things he believed in. I continue to live each day standing for and believing in the same things.

Here’s some things I learned from Jimmy:
  1. Trust God in ALL things, no matter the outcome. He’s got this!
  2. Pray all the time.
  3. Read and know God’s Word. All we need for life is in there.
  4. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s prompting.
  5. Love people like Jesus would.
  6. Have fun.
  7. Never stop growing and learning.
  8. Tell people you love them.
  9. Don’t be slave to a lender. Live without being in debt to others.
  10. Love God and Love People. That’s what it all comes down to.

Celebrate Jimmy’s birthday today by reflecting on the things you learned from him. Rejoice that he’s no longer suffering and that he’s celebrating his birthday with Jesus. Drink an Ale 8. Watch Goonies. Thank God that He allowed you to know Jimmy!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

School Supplies for Free

Our church is going to collect school supplies for our four local elementary schools so I thought I would share a blog post I wrote a couple of years ago about getting school supplies for free (or at least very cheap! Now is a great time to start buying supplies to donate once school starts!

School Supplies for Free
Yes, I said free. You can get school supplies for free (or very cheap!) just by shopping at the right time, at the right stores and being smart about it!

A little over a year ago I started couponing (not extreme, just normal) and I’m amazed at the amount of money that I can save when I shop smart. I’m not a fanatic about it. I only shop a couple of stores and if I don’t have time I just don’t worry about it. But when I do have time I save quite a bit.
Anyway, back to the school supplies. Staples and Office Depot (local chain office supply stores) both offer rewards programs and rebates that often allow you to get stuff for free or very cheap! I’m completely stocked up on pens, printer paper, printer toner, photo paper, and other miscellaneous items! (I really don’t think I’ll run out of paper for at least another year!)

First, let me give credit to the website where I get my shopping info, Southern Savers. She reviews the ads each week and basically makes your list for you. You just go through and check off the things you want to purchase and go to the store and do the shopping. She makes it VERY EASY. (No paid endorsement. I just love the site!)

Sign up the for the rewards program…
You’ll need to sign up for the store’s rewards program. Staples is called Staples Rewards and Office Depot is called Work Life Rewards. You’ll get a membership # but the stores can look it up by your phone number. You can also store it in your iPhone using the KeyRing app. When you check out you’ll need to give them your membership # or phone number. That way your purchase counts toward your reward.
How the rewards work…

You will see items in the ad and on Southern Savers marked “100% rewards back.” That means you’ll get 100% of the purchase price back as a reward. The reward will come to you in the form of an in-store credit that you can use to purchase other items at the store later. Every two to three months you’ll receive an email informing you of earned rewards. You go on the website, print your reward certificate and take it to the store and spend it on items you need and would have purchased anyway like printer ink, toner, computer accessories, etc.

Important thing to remember…
At both Staples and Office Depot you WILL NOT earn rewards for items that you also use rewards to purchase. So if you use your reward certificate to purchase something that says “100% rewards back” you won’t get a reward for that item.

Most of you have probably submitted a rebate for something before so you probably already know how it works. You pay for the item in the store* and mail in your receipt and proof of purchase and receive a check for some or all of the purchase price. It works the same way at Office Depot and Staples. And they make it very easy for you by printing out extra “Rebate Receipts” to mail back in. Staples makes it even easier by allowing you to submit your rebates online at Staples Rebates. My rule is to try to submit rebates (online and in the mail) as soon as I get home from making my purchases. That way I don’t forget and miss the deadline! I usually receive my rebate check(s) 4-6 weeks after submitting them.

*You can use rewards to purchase rebate items. It should not affect your rebate and is an easy way to turn your reward(s) back into cash!

You do have to spend some money out of pocket to get these items but you eventually get it back in the form of an in-store credit or rebate check.

What if the “free” items aren’t things I need?
Could your child’s teacher use them? If it’s something totally silly, don’t buy it because it’s free. I always tell people I don’t buy cat litter when I can get it for free because I don’t have a cat! Be smart. But also think about places you can donate the items like a church, school, shelter, etc.

I’m an example person so I’ll give you a quick overview of what might be on sale. Southern Savers does most of the work for me and helps me make my list. I check my local ad to see if our prices are the same. They usually are.

Bic Round Stic Pens $.01 with a $5 min purchase
Scotch Super Glue Gel FREE with $1.30 instant savings and $2.99 rebate
Staples Multipurpose Paper $.25 with a $6.49 rebate
HP Photo Paper $.50 with $.50 instant savings and $8.99 rebate
Bic Great Erase Dry erase markers $.50
Sharpie Markers $1
2014 Desktop Calendar FREE with $4.99 rebate

Office Depot
(All items are 100% Back in Rewards)
Avery Index Clear Label Dividers
Post It Super Sticky Pop Up Notes
Post It Pop Up Notes Dispenser
Mr. Sketch Markers
Uniball Gel Pens 12 pack
Sharpie Markers 12 pack
Clean Seal Security Envelopes

Questions? Leave them in a comment and I’ll try to answer! And be sure to check out Southern Savers for great deals. (Again this isn’t a paid endorsement. I just love the site!)