Football

My favorite part of fall is the smell of the leaves decomposing on the ground. It’s like the whiff of a strong drink, invigorating and promising. When I was in college fall meant breaking out the socks (because I much prefer sandals!), and football on Saturday. Now that I’m a grown up it means breaking out the rain boots and football whenever my husband can find it on the TV. While I will always feel that special connection between a girl and the football team she grew up with, I have moved on from the desire to actually follow the sport.

Of course, if there is anything as American as apple pie… that thing would have to be football. I’ll take the apple pie any day, but it didn’t seem fair to deny our exchange student the experience.

Her first football experience would come when my sister – a cheerleader at a high school in a neighboring county – was cheering at a game near our home.

Friday Night Lights

We hit a Checkers for dinner then headed to the game. I don’t recall who won, but the cheerleaders were great… naturally!

Ginny, my sister, and our exchange student.

I honestly don’t remember who won, but it’s always fun to see family and get a night out of the house!

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At the beginning of October we took advantage of a long weekend to get out of town and go to a game at Brandan’s Alma Mater, Virginia Tech. The four hour drive took us nearly twice as long thanks to traffic. We had planned to arrive several hours before the game but, unfortunately, we barely made it in for kick-off!

Traffic and a storm.

Thankfully the storm finished up as we arrived and we were able to attend the game in relative dryness! I had snagged some decent tickets online a few weeks before. There’s something very fun about a football game. Noisy, but focused. Loud, but exciting.

Lane Stadium

After a long day of work, school, and packing for our trip, these two were definitely Troopers! We watched the whole game, then it was time to get in the car and drive further south to our campsite at Claytor Lake State Park for the rest of the weekend!

Ginny and P

Do you follow any sports teams? Always have, always will? It’s definitely fun in the moment, so I appreciate the draw to attend the games – but fall is my favorite time of year to get out and about! I’d much rather be out hiking than watching a football game on TV!

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Fall

My couch cushions are spread out over my living room as Ginny bounces from one to the other. It’s a rainy day with a chilly bite in the air, but our house is warm, and living room forts add that special sense of whimsy that turns rainy days into fun adventures. It’s a race to see how long we can go before a certain little one asks to watch TV.

But that is beside the point. While I have a few moments of fort-distraction I wanted to share some pictures from the autumn. School is full swing, our exchange student joined the basketball team which added another layer to our lives.

 

In September our neighborhood hosts an “Oktoberfest” for the residents. This was actually the first year I’ve gone. I usually avoid crowds, but have been trying to be better about taking advantage of opportunities instead of talking myself out of them.

For the first part of the event our exchange student and I volunteered in the food tent. We set up an assembly line and got everything going. We also got free t-shirts for volunteering!

T-shirts on and ready to serve!

After our shift we met up with B-man and Ginny who had walked over to the beach. It’s about 2 miles, but doable. Unfortunately we were rained out. Before we left I snagged these pictures though!

Ginny and our exchange student!

I actually painted this photo prop! It took me a couple of days, and occupied a space in my kitchen far longer than B-man approved of. But it was fun to stretch my artistic muscles.

And then I’ll throw in this hot-mess!

Duck lip are in, right?

My good friend Joey-poo and I cheesing it for the camera!

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We took the kids to SweetFrog to share the joys of frozen yogurt with our exchange student. Naturally she is quite fond of the nutella. 🙂

See… duck lips are *SO* in!

Good times. I’m always surprised by Ginny’s ice cream choices. Lately she loves Mango flavored froyo. She’s definitely her own little person.

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A little more photo dump from early October. At our house we have a good sized front and back yard, the latter of which is fenced. Ginny calls the fenced backyard “Zuko’s backyard” (Zuko being our dog), and the front yard “Ginny’s backyard”. She loves playing under the Magnolia tree and climbing on the large landscaping rock to the side of our house, and a particular bush has become her secret hide-out. I won’t betray it’s whereabouts though.

Our little slice of paradise is definitively suburban, but still full of interesting natural occurrences, from the large array of birds that grace our feeder, to the plants I haven’t managed to kill yet (or the grass that I have killed). One day though we found this mushroom circle!

My little pixie!

Of course, after she did a little dance we picked them all, put them in a bag, and threw them out. I haven’t seen any more, so it was probably the right thing to do.

And lastly some B-man & Ginny loves!

My favorite people.

Autumn is my favorite time of year. The weather is perfect, the colors of beautiful, and it’s like the Friday to Christmas!

Deep thoughts, I know.

Coming soon: Virginia Tech camping trip, Halloween, and B-man’s birthday!

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New School

All ready for her first day of school!

Getting the exchange student accepted to the local high school was a pain. Finally I had settled in to the idea of driving her 30 minutes each way to and from school every day. Thankfully my neighbor saw the lunacy in that concept and quickly called in a few favors. It was a mess, lots of phone calls, I may have cried once or twice, and then some more e-mails and phone calls and on the third school day of the year she was finally able to hop on the bus at the corner near our house and head off to school!

Also at the beginning of the year Ginny and I have joined a local pre-school co-op. It was a group of moms who all had young children but did not want to go the traditional pre-school route. I thought we were a good fit, unfortunately time would not agree.

Ginny all ready for her first day of preschool co-op.

I only knew one other mom in the group, she’d invited me to join. Unfortunately at the end of October, having only hosted twice, I got a phone call that they had decided to kick me out of the co-op.

And Ginny.

Of course they said something like “It’s not Ginny, we love her and she’s great, but we really don’t think you’re a good fit.” They said I didn’t choose healthy foods (my broccoli and pasta were not organic), I wasn’t involved enough with the children (because three year olds should be told to stop playing and sit down to do guided activities), and that I’m combative and too aggressive. There was no second chance, and no warning.

Ginny still asks about her preschool friends, four months later.

It’s weird, how these women I barely knew held such power over me – but I was sincerely crushed. I don’t think I’ve felt that kind of rejection and so much pain since elementary school.

Thankfully my sweet girl is resilient, and her life is still full of nature and play and people who love her and interesting experiences.

Her mother on the other hand is fragile. This experience spiraled me into panic attacks and added to my already mounting pre-scan anxiety that comes every six months.

This experience was also a big factor in the decision to send Ginny to public school next year when she starts Kindergarten. She’s going to love it, and I know she will do well. Crazy how fast time flies though! Only six months and I’ll be Mama to a kindergartner!

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Let’s do this.

We all make mistakes, and I guess the most important part is to be able to look back, accept that it was a mistake, and learn from that mistake. More than once I’ve been told that I’m… too nice. Or a pushover, or that I do too much for other people. Lol. I’ll be honest… I don’t mind. I don’t see that as a fault. I’d rather be nice to people who don’t deserve it, than be mean to people who don’t deserve that.

Regardless, I have made mistakes, one of which was giving up blogging. It’s like a hole, the further I get from the last time I wrote something, the harder it is to start again. But I’m starting.

Last August we welcomed a young woman from Spain into our home. She and I have a similar background – in that we both had cancer, and are both in recovery right now.

Ginny helped to make a sign for our new visitor!

We picked her up from the airport, and she had been travelling for the better part of the last 24 hour, so it was no surprise that she was tired. We stopped to grab dinner at an all-American restaurant — BBQ! — then headed home.

Stopping at Texas Roadhouse on our way home!

The first few days were busy, she arrived just a few days before school started and we had a few house-keeping items to take care of before she could attend the local high school.

In between getting her settled we spent some time collecting much needed items for our local food pantry. ACTS does so much for our community, so Ginny and I often collect food or household items for the organization. I grew up in a home where serving others was a top priority, and it’s something I like to involve Ginny in. It’s an easy way to introduce topics that aren’t always easy to talk about. We talk about how every one has hard times, and the best thing we can do is remember that every person deserves to be treated with kindness.

Dropping off macaroni & cheese, and lots of peanut butter (among other things!). I let Ginny pick things from the list of “much needed” items, and she picked a few of her faves.

We also collected items from neighbors and friends, and Miss. P helped me deliver those items!

Helping other people makes me feel good, for many reasons. Some altruistic, like knowing that I am helping members of my community, and exposing my daughter to the realities of this world, while also teaching her that she can do something about it. But some of my reasons are selfish. I like feeling useful, it makes me feel better about myself, and feeling connected to my community really helps me to feel grounded.

I’m going to get better at this. I want to leave this record. I want to be able to love and relive these moment with Ginny now and when she’s older. Here’s to resolutions, and doing things for myself.

 

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