Tennis wrap up…cont…

I felt like these pictures deserved their own post! Hallie (and all of our kids for that matter) has the best support system. I can’t even count how many matches she had people there cheering her on: Mostly family, friends from the neighborhood and she even had some friends from school come support. I wish I had pictures of everyone but sometimes people snuck away before I could snap a picture. Several have asked her if it makes her nervous to have people there watching her – oddly enough, I think she plays better. Evidently for her, it’s good pressure. Some of her toughest matches were played with grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles cheering her on.

Hallie had the biggest cheering section on the team and it became a joke with some of the other parents of players that don’t have any family living close to come support. Luckily, Hallie’s cheering section doesn’t discriminate and they happily cheered on every one on the team.

Steve’s parents were regular supporters and we had a mixed family group each time including one match that my dad was here visiting.

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Cousins came to an away match at their high school.

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These two are the real troopers. They ended up at far more matches than they would have chosen. 🙂 Due to Hunter’s later school schedule I’m not sure he made it to a single match and now that I’m thinking about it, Bennett had soccer at the same time so I don’t think he was able to come either. I love for my kids to support each other and yet sometimes it just doesn’t work… there’s always next year!

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This cousin stopped by matches a few times as he was making his way to and from the gym for volleyball games.

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Steve’s sister came to several matches.

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Steve’s sister visiting from Utah came to a match with her family and another match with her husband and sister.

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This cousin used to play on the team and Hallie built a friendship with her that would be hard to duplicate due to their age difference. They love each other and she’s been so supportive.

There are countless other people that have made Hallie feel so loved by showing their support either by attending or asking about her season. I mentioned yesterday, but tennis is a lonely sport and this is one way that it doesn’t feel like you’re an island. I feel like I’ve said it a million times, but I’m grateful for our village.

Tennis wrap up…

At the beginning of the school year, Hallie was working with her tennis coach and he asked what her goal was in tennis for the year. She said her goal was to make the varsity high school team at as a sophomore – one of 6 girls. (We have a strong team) I thought it was a pretty lofty goal because she was #8 last year as a freshman and no one graduated. She was fighting for a spot against 5 seniors and she had her work cut out for her. But she worked hard. And then she worked harder. And by the time the high school season rolled around she found herself playing #5 and #4. (And really she could compete with every girl ranked above her – it was just a matter of who showed up to compete on the day they did challenge matches.)

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We were so happy for her and she was ecstatic – but the work didn’t stop there, it was the just the beginning. She played an incredible season, battling with girls that were ranked higher than her and predicted to win and didn’t. She didn’t give up and she kept improving.

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She played until she couldn’t – injuring herself late in the season. She missed multiple matches and the city tournament and then came back almost a month later and competed in the state tournament and played better than ever.

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She will admit that tennis is often a lonely sport. You live and die on your own merit. No teammates that can carry you even for a minute and that can be discouraging. She’s trained as a singles player and although she’ll continue in singles, she’s looking forward to improving her doubles game over the next year and enjoying the game with a teammate – her favorite teammate!

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She is sad to see the seniors go. She started training with twin sisters years ago and she’s enjoyed having them at practice every week. They kept things fun and entertaining and they were so great to Hallie even though she was two years younger. Hallie went to the first practice last week without them and she wasn’t a fan – she’s going to have to reach outside her comfort zone and befriend someone just like they did to her years ago.

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We had such a great time supporting her this season – some weeks we found ourselves sitting at matches three days a week and I didn’t complain one time! 🙂 Just enjoying my happy place from the sidelines.

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We like to remind her that although the outfits are cute – the tan lines are not! 🙂

Soccer Wrap up…Bennett…

School is out this week which means everything is winding down – so this is the week of wrap ups! We’ve already wrapped up Hunter’s soccer season – it’s time to wrap up Bennett’s season.

Bennett has a passion for soccer. His heart far outpaces his skill and because of that we saw such an improvement in him this year, when you have heart, you’re willing to work twice as hard. (I wish all my kids had the heart he does!)

He loves soccer. He plays at recess. He plays with friends in the retention basin. He shoots goals in the backyard. He plays on a team with several friends and they carpool together twice a week – this is the highlight of his week. Soccer and friends – he’s living his best life.

I haven’t asked him, but I’m pretty sure his favorite moment of the year was a tournament game that my dad (a lover of soccer) happened to be in attendance at. Bennett was over the moon when he scored a goal. He was fist pumping and running down the field. He doesn’t score very often, so it was reason to celebrate, especially with my dad watching. And then he scored another. And another. And another. And after four goals, they moved him to defense.

He was on cloud 9 – I’ve never seen him play so well and I’ve never seen him so jazzed! My dad was clearly the lucky charm and I’m sure Bennett wanted to impress him. It was good soccer day. As a competitive sport, soccer is played year-round and is pretty time-consuming. So I questioned whether Bennett wanted to try something else next year – he was disgusted I would even suggest such a thing. I love his passion and I love his improvement.

So he’s signed back up for next year and lucky for us, so are his friends.

Sunday ponderings…

Last night I finally decided it was time to weed a landscaped area that has been bugging me every time we pull into the driveway. A few of the weeds had grown so tall, it was embarrassing I hadn’t addressed it sooner.

I pulled the most obvious weeds first and then moved to the smaller weeds. As I made my way closer to the orange tree, I noticed an interesting weed growing at the base of the tree. The tree is still young, so the heavy branches nearly touch the ground and I hadn’t noticed it growing before. As I pushed the branches away to be in a better position to pull it out, I realized it was a palm tree. A PALM TREE!

How in the world had I not noticed?! It was decent sized which meant it had been growing for a while. I was naive to think I could easily yank it out. No, it took me quite a while – carefully digging around the water line that the roots of the palm tree had grown around.

When I finally got it out – my body covered in scratches thanks to the branches of the orange tree – I marveled how in the world a palm tree started growing there and how I failed to notice it when it was 3 feet tall. A neighbor walking by saw my victory and commented that letting it grow much longer would have made hard to remove without damaging the orange tree.

As I pulled into the driveway after church this afternoon, I thought of the palm tree once again. I was in a pondering mood and wondered how many “palm trees” I have in my life.

What is growing unnoticed without effort – yet will be a beast to extract?

My thoughts then turned to the other weeds I had pulled last night. It wasn’t until the weeds became obnoxious that I made any effort to remove them – I wondered had I noticed the palm tree right away would I have immediately removed it? It would have taken minutes if that were the case. Or would I have driven by just like I did all the other weeds?

We all have weeds. And just like habits, those weeds can grow some deep roots making them a challenge to remove. We’d do ourselves a favor if we did some frequent weedings. Weed out habits. Weed out vices. Weed out people. Weed out negative talk.

No sense in growing a palm tree when I planted an orange tree.

Az Brainfood…

Today marks the end of another school year for AZ Brainfood. This is an organization that is near and dear to my heart because a good friend (pictured on the right) started it several years ago. In fact, the Gilbert Turkey Trot that I manage each year raises money for AZ Brainfood.

Every Thursday morning, volunteers gather at a warehouse to help package bags of food to send to 3000 kids throughout the valley so they have food on the weekend. I’ve been a volunteer on and off over the years. Last fall, when school started and I sent my last kid to kindergarten, I wanted to become a regular volunteer and invited Hunter to join me because he started school later in the morning than the rest of the kids. We would show up earlier than everyone else and start by backfilling the line. We did this every week. After a while, a friend of mine noticed Hunter was there helping and she realized her daughter could go before school as well. And the group started to multiply.

Our Thursday mornings became a fun morning at Brainfood and then a rowdy carpool to school with loud music and I couldn’t have picked a better way to start my day.

My family knows I love this organization, but they don’t live around here so haven’t been able to see it in person. My dad was visiting not too long ago and I was happy to bring him along – he was great at unpacking granola bars!

When the food is stocked, we move to the line where we pull items and put them in bags.

Every week we see a lot of the same people, working the same stations and then there’s always a group or company that comes as guest volunteers. A few weeks ago it was a local high school dance group, last week a health care organization. Every week we see familiar faces and some new faces. We’ve made friends and made an impact. Hunter has logged so many service hours and we’re both sad to see it end with the school year. Luckily, Hunter has late start one more year so we’ll get one more year of Brainfood together.

The backyard…

We haven’t done much to our backyard since we bought the house years ago. We’ve torn out a few trees, removed a dilapidated shed and built a new shed/playhouse. We have said for years, we’re going to start working on transforming the backyard and yet by the time we’ve got free Saturdays, it’s too hot to be motivated to start the project. We trick ourselves into thinking we’ll do it in the fall when it cools down. It doesn’t seem to ever cool down so November rolls around and all the holiday fun that goes with the season and we’re not ready to start the project. This has been a five-year cycle.

But now I’m serious.

So the other night, as the sun started to tuck behind the house, I went outside to make a plan. I sat on the trampoline and tried envisioning what I wanted out of the backyard. As I surveyed the project, I couldn’t help but notice the dirt patch/runway in our grass. Most would be frustrated their grass looks like this – but this tells me our backyard gets a lot of use!

We have a soccer net just outside of this picture and that dirt patch is the kicking pathway of the goal – it gets so much love. Kick after kick and running back and forth, grass doesn’t stand a chance of growing there. As I look to re-do this space, I know that soccer goal isn’t going anywhere and chances are, our grass will probably still look like this even after it gets a complete makeover. And thats okay. In 10 years when my kids no longer want to go outside and kick a ball, we’ll have nice grass. Until then, I’ll enjoy this view.