Monday, October 16, 2017

Tiger Tailgate Birthday Party

We had a super, awesome, amazing weekend.  Like, one of the very best in a long while!  Today, though, I'm only going to talk about J's birthday party.
A full year ago, he let me know what he wanted to do for his 11th birthday: "I want to tailgate at the Tigers game with my friends and then go to the game with a couple of them."  Easy peasy lemon squeezy, right?  Right.
Except.  We do not have a tailgate space on Tiger Lane as it takes an act of God and the blood of your firstborn in order to obtain one.  I tried to "rent" a space for this particular weekend but Memphis/ Navy is generally a good game (read: Navy is was our daddy and has had owned us for a couple years) so no one was biting.  I decided to improvise.  Tailgate at our house with J's school friends and teammates, three extra boys to the Tigers game with us with a Tiger Lane football game beforehand.  It ended up being - probably - my favorite party I've ever done!
For our tailgate at home, I kept things simple.  The decorations were a combination of things I already had, table cloths from Five Below, balloons found at Kroger, and being at Walmart at the right time.  Meaning: I bought that Tigers flag (with a pole!) for $7 and the plates, cups, and napkins were just 50 cents each!  Awesome, right?
We also decorated with "Go Tigers Go" and "Beat Navy" posters that we ended up waving at the game as well.
I set the dining room up with party favors and the cake, nothing fancy.

The ball was signed by every kid at the party.  Here's hoping the boys don't decide to play with it and it's a keepsake J has for years and years and years! The treat bags were just paper bags with football laces the kids drew on them.  Inside was a "tailgate to go:" Dr. Pepper, Doritos, peanuts, and a candy bar.  This lady does not do whistles and hand clappers and crap that annoys parents: just stuff that gets the kiddos all hyped and rowdy.  ;)

Since the Tigers played at 2:45 in the afternoon - hello, worst time ever! - we held our party from 10 am - noon.  Which, yes, was just plain weird for a birthday party.  Anyway, it mean that I served lots of brunch-y foods.  Our menu included:
Breakfast casserole
Sausage balls
Ham and cheese sliders
Pumpkin dip
Ranch oyster crackers
Fruit/ veggie tray
Chips and dip
The boys ate . . . fruit and chips.

We set up the football toss I made for J's party last year but, honestly, it mostly went untouched.  All J really wanted to do was play "real" football with his friends.  And that's what they did, with just one stop to eat.

We had SO MANY boys!  And so many there in Tiger blue.  I'm pretty sure most of these boys had a blast.  I'm 100% sure they were smelly and gross after playing football in the 85 degree heat.

They were all willing to take a break from their football playing for cake and presents.  As per always, when the kids don't want me to make their cake (*sob!*) I order it from Sam's.  This one was . . . interesting.  I could've sworn someone in the area had NCAA cakes.  Howev-ah, I was quite wrong.  So I just ordered a normal football one, had then write "Go Tigers" on it, and added the mini foam finger (a Kroger find!)

J's bestie had a birthday on October 1st so he insisted they blow out candles together.  Love it!

The kid MADE OUT when it came to presents.  Lots of Tigers stuff, a super cool Nerf gun, cold hard cash, and so many gift cards.  I posted about his party on his football team's Facebook page and one of his coaches actually showed up!  He didn't JUST show up: he had all kinds of gifts . . . the boys like to wear pink in October like the pros so he had socks, arm bands, eye "black" (that was actually pink), a Memphis Tigers football.  It was so sweet!  I loved that his coach showed and that he put so much thought into his gifts.

After the party, it was time for the actual Tiger tailgate and football game. 

THIS.  This right here is exactly what J wanted for his birthday party.  He was in heaven:

Playing at Tiger Lane is so much fun and we ran into so many people the kids knew: teammates, friends from school, "Hey, didn't I play baseball with you last spring?"  This is what I love about Memphis!  It's not a small town but it's totally a small town.

Finally.  It was GAME TIME!

So.  The Girl had a track meet Saturday afternoon; she ran at 1:30.  Mark took her to that and then they met us at the game after.  They had perfect timing, arriving just as we were walking to the box office.  Well.  Mark bought a pair of tickets from a scalper . . . $25 each for tickets on the 35 yard line just about 20 rows up.  Face value $70 each.  OF COURSE he snapped them up.  We needed nine tickets total so we purchased the others from the box office.  The two sets of seats were basically on top of each other . . . yet separated by roughly 23048298 steps.  No exaggeration.  J sat in the "good" seats for 3/4 of the game and we let the other kids rotate who sat down there.  It worked out really well.  They all had a chance to be right in the game AND J and his friend T ended up on the jumbotron with their birthday sign.

I ended up taking a total of six boys to the game . . . I do well with boys, I "get" boys, I would rather take six boys than six girls!  But I was still a little leery about my two eyes being able to keep track of all six of them.  I'm happy to report, that they all remained accounted for and, honestly, were as well behaved as you can ask six boys on a sugar-and-birthday high to be.

I told these two I'm going to put this photo in their wedding slideshow!

Finally, my very favorite picture of the game . . .


Memphis ended up winning the game 30-27, finally breaking the Navy streak AND meandering their way into the Top 25, yes ma'am.  It was SUCH a good game and the win made it so much sweeter. 

We rounded out the night with one of the boys' friends staying the night.  It was exhausting.  My legs hurt yesterday.  My butt hurt from the hard bleachers at the game.  My wallet really hurt.  But.  But, but, but.  These boys had so much fun.  And it HAD to be an 11th birthday party to remember!

He says he wants a party like this every year and, well, A-OK with me, buddy!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Fall Break 2017

I suppose I could have titled this post Fall Break fun but that would've been fake news, alternative facts, all that business.  We PLANNED to have a fun week and do lots of stuff but, you know, best laid plans and all that. 
Mark took Monday through Wednesday off and, well, he went to bed at 7:00 on Sunday night while I took a Walgreen's run for Nyquil.  Should've known then how the week was going to go!  I had to force him to rest Monday which meant he only made a Home Depot run, fixed the garage fridge, and tinkered around the house, replacing light bulbs, that kind of thing.  The man cannot sit still and rest!  The Bears played (and lost) Monday Night Football and J and the K's came back late from celebrating J's birthday with their dad.
Tuesday morning was J's 11th birthday!  And since the school I go to is stupid, my Fall Break is next week.  I had to go to class.  Wahhhh.  I was a little bummed to miss out on the birthday breakfast.  J was not: Mark made him bacon and eggs.  They were all full and happy when I got home.
This is 11!
And - can I just add - I'm a little tired of these 14-15-16-year-old hussies flirting with my kid RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME.  Yes, he looks a little older but not that much.  He's 11!

So.  I was going to get J a Fitbit for his birthday this year but apparently those are now "so last year" and he didn't want one.  So his "big" present (he's getting a few more) was a $50 bill.  However, instead of just giving it to him, we put it a Ziploc bag, weighed it down with quarters, and froze it in a foil cake pan.  When I got home Tuesday afternoon, we told him we were doing cake and Mark went to the freezer to retrieve his "ice cream cake."  We all sang Happy Birthday, he took the foil off his cake, and . . . "wait, what?!?"  Between this and the "fake cake" at K2's birthday party, my kids are never going to trust me with a cake again!
The $50 was burning a hole in his pocket before he even got it out of the ice block so I agreed to take him to Dick's to spend it.  He bought a Nike sweat suit that he's very proud of but was a little bummed that it was 90* that day and he could only wear it in the house with the a/c on blast!
Perhaps the best part of our Fall Break happened Tuesday afternoon . . .

Meet Sammy.  He was swimming in our pool and is now living (in a larger container) in our garage.  K2 is obsessed with him.
J requested steak, macaroni and cheese, and green beans for his birthday dinner.  Mark handled the steak while I made the mac and greenie beanies.  Cady came over with some Fireball and I may have said something along the lines of, "I feel like everyone should be nice to me.  I mean, I had a C-section 11 years ago."  Ha!  Tuesday was easily the best day of our Fall Break.

We let J open one more present since he may want to wear it to the game Saturday.
Tuesday night was awesome.  Wednesday I woke up feeling like death.  I mean, there are times when you have a cold and then there are times when you have a COLD THAT IS SO BAD THAT YOU JUST WANT TO CURL UP IN A BALL AND DIE AND OMG HOW MUCH DO YOU MISS WHEN YOU HAD A NOSE THAT WORKED.  I slept until 10:30, guzzled hot tea and Dayquil, and was generally useless for the entire day.  I don't know if it was just the first cold of the season that did it or what but I was knocked on my ass.  I went to bed at 9:00 and slept until 8:30 the next morning!
I felt better on Thursday morning.  However, I did not feel better enough to take K2 and her friend A to the grocery story with me . . . which I did . . . and if I could undo any decision in the last 24 hours, it would've been that one.  You know how taking one kid to the grocery store isn't so bad but taking two is torture?  Taking two who are best friends is a special kind of torture.  They were loud and wild and I had to say, "you better keep a hand on my cart and you better do it NOW" no less than 85 times.  I didn't want to be at the store anyway. I certainly didn't want to be there with a couple rowdy kids.
I let them have a pizza picnic for lunch yesterday:

They spent the rest of the afternoon playing or just being lazy.  I'm trying to tell myself that's a good thing.  We've been so go, go, go since school started.  Maybe we didn't need to go skating and to the zoo and to Shelby Farms this week.  Maybe we just needed a week to calm down, catch our breath, relax, and prep for the rest of the track and football seasons.  As well as the crazy the holidays will bring.

Today was supposed to be a Friday the 13th party (Halloween themed lunch, a craft, then Hocus Pocus) but J's party is tomorrow and I didn't want to do back-to-back parties.  So today is going to be clean, decorate, and make food for J's party.  Happy Friday the 13th!  Do something scary -- cleaning my house after all the kids have been home all week will be scary enough for me!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


My boy is ELEVEN today.  Don't ask me how that happened because I don't even know.  Long gone are the days of chasing around a mischievous toddler.  Now I'm taxing around a sometimes mouthy pre-teen football playing violinist.  And it seems like just yesterday he was that sweet (okay, not so sweet but definitely loveable) two-year-old with all that hair! 

In the spirit of his birthday, I'm going to list eleven things about my J:

1) He is very outgoing and very much an extrovert.  He will volunteer to get up in front of the entire school at an assembly.  His teacher allows a student to "teach" the rest of the class what they learned that day.  J volunteers every single day.  He wants to be the kid who carries in their flag before a football game.  There is not a shy bone in the boy's body.

2) He is very good and very patient with his baby sister.  Look at me saying "baby" like she's not seven-years-old.  Anyway, with so many kids it's natural that some get along better than others.  J and the Girl Child butt heads like nobody's business -- probably because they're so much alike.  And with J and K1, it's pretty much a constant wrestling match in the house.  But over the past year he's emerged as K2's protector.  He's patient with her and stands up for her to the other kids.  Those two were never really close until this past year so it's been interesting to watch their relationship.

3) Football is seriously maturing - and humbling! - this boy.  He is a naturally gifted athlete and, honestly, went into football thinking that he would be the star.  And while he is very good, there have been hiccups along the way.  He's learned it's okay to be frustrated but has also picked up the "I have to do better next time" mentality.  He can admit when he's messed up on the field and works so it doesn't happen again.  He has real, raw talent and with the discipline he's developing right now he could one day really be a standout athlete.  He's also become more disciplined about what he eats and doing some form of activity on non-practice days.  He's dying to lift weights but probably needs another year or two before he's ready for that. 

4) He is a smart boy and does well in school.  However, he doesn't have my dad demanding perfection.   Meaning, when I was growing up my dad expected A's and only A's.  All I've asked of my kids is to do their best and, well, sometimes that can lead to some slacking off.  As J gets older, though, he's becoming better about that.  We're already talking colleges and how to get into a good school he has to do more than the bare minimum.  I think some of what I'm saying is sinking in!  And I'm not above bribery.  He's been promised a phone if he can get straight A's the entire year of fifth grade.  I know he's capable: I'm just giving him an end goal.

5) A couple examples of his budding maturity:  His teachers allow each student to correct two assignments they received a 60 or below on per subject per quarter for a better grade.  He was concerned with his math grade so went to his teacher - on his own - and asked for an exception to the rule, if he could correct a paper he made a 79 on.  And she let him!  We're working hard on taking responsibility for things like that and I was very proud of him.  Also, he received a conduct slip last week for forgetting a book (ahhhh, responsibility!) and when I went to sign it, I noticed he penned an apology note to his teacher on the bottom.  He's growing up!

6) The boy is VAIN!  He's good looking and he knows he's good looking and never in my life have I met a male who spends more time in front of the mirror.  One day last week, he changed his clothes three times!  I don't mind too much.  He's the only kid that I don't have to practically wrestle into the shower and his younger brother would be content to wear the same athletic shorts and t-shirt every single day of the week.

7) His favorite NFL team is still the Cowboys but now the Bears and Saints come in at second and third place.  He is a Razorback fan and also loves all the Memphis teams: Grizz, Tigers, and Redbirds.  Going to live games is one of his very favorite things.

8) He's trying a new activity this school year: orchestra!  He's playing the violin and so far he seems to like it.  He's pretty serious about practicing.  I was a little leery at first and let him know that if he signed up, he was devoted to it for the entire year.  He's still enthusiastic about it and, honestly, the practices aren't that bad.  I mean, I know my practicing "Baa Baa Black Sheep" on the trumpet in sixth grade was MUCH worse.

9) He is almost as tall as I am!  And when I say almost . . . I mean I MIGHT have a 1/4 inch on me.  He's taller than me when he's in shoes and I'm barefoot.  I'm 5'3.  He is going to be a VERY tall boy.  Sometimes he loves his height, sometimes he hates it.

10) Just as he has been always, the kid will eat pretty much anything.  There are very few foods that he doesn't like.  His favorites are steak and chicken wings and the boy has quite the sweet tooth. 

11) I'm so happy with and excited about the changes J has made in the past year or so.  We had a tough few years behavior-wise but he's really turned a corner lately.  I'm proud of him and can't wait to see more of the young man he's becoming! 

Happy, happy Birthday JayBirdieBird!