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All Heart

8 Jul

Barrow County 7U All-Stars

They went out there and never gave up. Never. Two games played. Two games lost. Two games full of heart.

This was the first year for Barrow County to have a 7 and under All-Star team. The first year for the 7U to place in the district tournament. The first year for the 7U to make it to the Dizzy Dean State Tournament.

No, they didn’t win. In fact, they didn’t score a single run in either game. What they did though was keep playing with all their heart. They kept that heart in the pouring rain and after a two-hour mid-game rain delay where they had their concession stand hot dogs and french fries passed to them through the dugout fence. They kept that heart as their side of the board still glowed “0” inning after inning. Diving for catches, hustling for hits to outfield, swinging away, earning each base they ran or slid to claim. In the end, Nate didn’t cry because the team lost. He cried at dinner, hours after the game, because “I don’t want my season to be over” and “I won’t get to see my friends for a long time now.”

I’m beyond proud of these boys. They had so much fun playing the sport they love and hanging out as a team. They became that team within days after playing against each other in the regular spring season. Watching them on and off the field, you would never think they were ever opponents. They swam and laughed together, hunted slugs together until way past their bedtime, enjoyed a funny movie together, ate meal after meal together … On the field, they cheered each other on during the games and always showed support and concern for each other.

Nate can’t tie his shoes. He needs help cutting his steak. He can’t reach the hotel sink to brush his teeth. He can, however, track a hit baseball in the air and know exactly how to move to make the catch. They all know what they need to do to try to stay on that dirt for just one inning more. These little boys are so remarkable. Sure, they will lose games – but I have a feeling they will never lose their heart.

He Caught That

He Caught That?!

A Backpack, Boyfriend(?), and Other Back-to-School Stuff

13 Aug

As Nia and Nate made their way up the hill to the bus stop for the first day of school, my mind flashed back to last year. Sweet siblings. Kindergartener brother and Third Grader sister, holding hands as they made the walk together for the first time.

Sibling Sweetness – 2011

It’s funny to think what a difference a school year can make. Right after I took the photo below, now First Grader Nate darted across the street, making sure he’d beat us all to the corner of the street.

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School Siblings, See ya! 2012

The kids were very excited to start this new year. Nate is digging the thought of getting bigger (and maybe getting to stay up later like Nia gets to sometimes). Nia, meanwhile, had been hoping for the teacher she got. When the letter arrived a week ago, she repeated over and over as Andrew opened it, “I hope it’s Mrs. Ballard. I hope it’s Mrs. Ballard.” Andrew tricked her and acted like it wasn’t but just as soon as he saw her face turn to disappointment, he gave her the announcement she wanted. Her face beamed. She then wanted to trick me like her daddy did to her. When I got home, she had a sad face and handed me the letter, “I really wanted Mrs. Ballard.” “Oh, I’m sorry Bean.” I looked at the letter and then looked up to her giggly, happy self. Apparently, she and Andrew rehearsed the trick.

She was so happy to be headed back to school that she didn’t even let a little girl get her down at the bus stop when she turned Nia around to see her back and then sneered, “That’s last year’s bag!” Nia told me she replied, “So? Actually, I’ve had it for three years. It’s a really sturdy bag.” I am always amazed at how she manages to be so cool against cruelty. Even more impressive? Nia was playing with the little girl, along with Nate and another friend, in our front yard when I got home after work. I need to take lessons from Bean’s heart and attitude.

Bean also had some discussions with a boy today about if she still had a “boyfriend.” Her response to this also cracks me up, “I don’t know. You should ask him. Why do you want to know anyways?” We gave her the talk that she doesn’t need to worry about any of that business. Just have friends. Something she insists is all she is with this other boy. “We’re just friends!” she says with animation and giggles. Sigh.

Nate was rewarded for good behavior with silver sticks next to his name and didn’t get any warning sticks. (Phew.) I’m hoping him “winning” the good deed sticks will help him keep his eye on the prize. You know, learning and all – while staying out of trouble, of course. Now, if he would just eat the fruit and veggies I pack for him …

I hope this year brings them fond memories and expands their brains enough to be able to play Apples to Apples with us without much explanation. After all, that’s why I had kids – breeding adorable, capable board game opponents is tough.

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First and Fourth Graders!

It Was Fun

14 Apr

My employee badge is turned in, my desk is cleared out (I think … please let me know if I forgot something) and my see-you-laters were said through tears.

My time at Children’s has come to an end but the memories and friendships I made there will stay with me. I will keep them safe and hold them dear for always.

Best "Bye" Card Ever

Buddies, Baseball and Bulldogs

2 Apr

Bulldog Baseball Fans

We met through a love of baseball – cheering on our three boys and their t-ball team. Now, a season or so later, I’m happy we were all able to get together again – this time to cheer on the Bulldog baseball team.

Georgia didn’t win but we all had a great time in the stands and watching all of our kids run the bases (twice) after the game. (Andrew may or may not have timed Nate. He was trying so hard to pass a much taller kid in front of him and was pretty McSpeedy. The girls did great in their flip-flops and fashion wear.)

Our boys aren’t on the same t-ball team this season (in fact, we have to play against each other in a few weeks!) but I have a feeling they will be rooting for each other from across the field. All three of them love the sport so purely and intently. They watched the entire game, wearing their gloves and talking stats.

Baseball buds.

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Me vs. Dancing

1 Mar

I am not much of a dancer. I love to dance, but it doesn’t love me very much. I took dancing lessons when I was a child, but I had happy blinders on back then and only felt the joy of it, not the embarrassment. I dance in the kitchen when I’m cooking. I dance in front of the kids who only laugh when I really exaggerate my skills. (Their laughs make me happy so I actually exaggerate a lot around them. Plus, I don’t want them to ever be afraid to break it down like their mom.) I can’t even dance with my husband. (One of the reasons I was so happy my wedding dress covered my feet.) I’ve tried to dance in a dance-exercise class, but the other adult students, the instructors and the mirrors all made me feel self-conscious. It was all on me though. No one was being mean to me to make me feel that way. I was not being kind to myself and I never really felt encouraged. Then, my friend, Leigh, invited me to go to a Zumba class with her at a local church. I had attended another Zumba class once before because everyone talked about how fun it was. I ended up feeling like I always do. Well, that was a downer.

I remember the way I felt before meeting Leigh for the class. I didn’t want to go. I told myself, go to see Leigh and burn some calories. It was going to help my health. I’m so glad I convinced myself.

This Zumba class is special because of its instructor. Her name is Debbie and she has a refreshing spirit and uplifting smile. When I’m there, my mind doesn’t tell me I’m not good at it. Sure, it helps that there aren’t any mirrors, but I believe it comes down to Debbie’s personality and the friendly faces I see there each time I go. Leigh is a huge fan of Debbie’s and told me I should write a post about her for the Barrow Patch because her story may inspire others. Interviewing her made me feel like a journalist again. It was wonderful. I did get nervous before writing the post because I’m so used to writing all about me, me, me, but once I sat down to do it, I felt great.

Dancing did that. Maybe it likes me more than I thought it did. And even if it doesn’t, I don’t care. It’s impossible for me to hip shake or do the Running Man move without smiling.

Thankful for Lady Gaga

24 Jan

She is nice to him and he bashfully describes her as pretty. She stole his heart on a day near Halloween when she walked in his class dressed up as a Kindergarten (G-rated) Lady Gaga.

Nate was so enamored with Little Gaga that he announced to the class during a Thanksgiving lesson that he is most thankful for her. (His teacher emailed me about the sweetness.)

Turns out, the feeling is mutual. Her mom tells me that she “just loves Nate” and that she recently put him as no. 89 in her “Favorite 100 Things” book because there are 89 different reasons she likes him. She also saves every drawing Nate gives her and has them hanging in her room. This one was the first:

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Nate will reassure us that they are not boyfriend and girlfriend. “I’m too young for that,” he maturely states and then turns his head down to the side to hide his grin.

I smile too, remembering a note to her that said, “I love you because you are nice to me.” So pure. So important. Such a beautiful reason to love someone. I hope he always thinks about that when it comes to his future “real” girlfriends. Loving the inside as much as the Lady Gaga.

A Dawg Day

18 Sep

I’m so glad our good friends and University of Georgia graduates asked us to attend a football game at their Alma Mater. We’ve lived just 30 minutes from Sanford Stadium for the last five years and we are big football fans (even attending our hometown’s high school games) but never made any effort to enjoy a game in Athens. We finally did on Saturday as UGA took on Coastal Carolina and it made for a great memory.

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Go Dawgs!

The day began with a healthy amount of tailgating with some bring-your-own-portable-satellite-dish-and-tv pros. They even had a skillet plugged into a generator to make eggs and sausage and a margarita maker ready to serve. Andrew and Nate couldn’t be there for this part of it because Nate’s first t-ball game of the fall season happened that morning (they won 17 to 3!) but Nia and Camille made the most of it by exploring the wooded area near our tent, playing cards and propping their feet up while eating some pre-football fixins.

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Pepperoni Rolls & Propped Feet

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Go Fish on Football Saturday

The adults had our own dose of relaxin’ and fixins, including a tasty blue alcoholic beverage that Ginger concocted.

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Happy Ginger

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Blue Drink Cheers

The weather was beautiful for football but the sun and heat during the game made Nia and Nate duck for cover under our bleacher seats.

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Hiding from the Heat & Sun

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Nate Still Wants to Watch

True and tiny Dawg fan, Camille, didn’t want to miss any of the excitement and stayed above the seats to see the sights with her mom and dad.

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Mommy-Daughter Fans!

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Daddy-Daughter Dawg Watchers

The Dawgs went on to win 59-0 and Nate wanted the action to continue even after we left. Touchdown!

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Still Playing


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