Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Amara's 3rd Junior Jazz Season

 If Amara was assigned to guard you, just know, you're not likely to ever get the ball.  And if you do happen to get the ball, you will have a tough time trying to pass or shoot because she will guard you like gravy on potatoes.  If you don't believe me, just take a look at the next 9 photos.

 Amara had a great time playing Jr. Jazz for her 3rd year in a row.  She saw some old teammates, played against some, and some were on her team.  She has always been the only girl on her team.  This year, her team was the only team with one girl, the rest of the teams that they played had between 2-3 girls each.  I must say her team was probably the best one out there, though.  She had some really tall, fast, and passionate players on her team.

In Amara's league, there are 3rd-4th graders and they play with limited rules: no full court press, no stealing, pretty much you could guard, dribble, and shoot.  You should've seen Amara at one of her last games.  She was passed the ball and she dribbled all the way down the court, protecting the ball with her arm and her body, then she got right under the basket, and took a shot.  It was phenomenal! Coach Matt Yergensen was smiling big and had lots of encouragement for her.  He was new to coaching, and he took it seriously, and did a great job.  Each member on his team learned something and improved their skills in some way or another.
Amara with her coach
It was a wonderful 3rd season, and we all really enjoyed watching Amara play.  Plus, it was nice this year to have the coach's wife arrange with the parents to take turns bringing after-game treats.  I know Amara liked that part a lot.

Lily's First Junior Jazz Season

This year, there was a new Junior Jazz league, an all-girls league, for 5th-7th graders.  Lily is in 5th grade, so I signed her up for it because last year she watched Amara play and wished aloud that she could go out and play too, even though she was adamant that she didn't want to play when sign-ups took place.  So, this year, I required her to play for P.E. credit for homeschool.  I'm glad she did play, even though she got nervous before games, she learned a lot, and by the end of her season, she understood how to play and wanted to play more often.  She even begged us to play it as a family.

 Grandpa Tom came to Lily's season finale, and Grandma Bobbie was at almost every game.

Lily's coach, Jerusha Riser, was so sweet and amazing, and she happened to be my mom's neighbor.  She was always so upbeat and positive, and she was really good at instructing the girls on the rules at their practices.  They only had 2 practices at the beginning of the season, and then they began the games.  Since this league was so new, there were only 4 teams, so we got to play each team twice, I believe.  In this league, they play with pretty much all the rules, including steals, fouls, and free throws, and they had 2 refs at each game.
Lily and her coach.
 It was really fun watching her team learn and play the game.  Each girl had their own personality and competitiveness.  Some girls were quite aggressive and made lots of steals, others held back and tried not to get the ball very often.

 Because of the age differences, there was quite a bit of variety on the court as far as size, coordination, and ability.  But, everyone was really nice to each other, and everyone tried their best.
 One day, about mid-season, Lily told me she didn't like to play basketball because it was boring.  I told her that if she actually tried to get the ball, and get into the game, she would have more fun.  Later that night, she had a game.  When it was all over, she told me, "Guess what?  That was actually a lot of fun.  I tried to remember what you said, and I tried more, and I had more fun!"  I'm happy she was able to find a way to make the best of what she thought she didn't like, and in the end, it came out in her favor.  She really enjoyed playing from then on.

 On Lily's last game, she even got a rebound, shot it back up, and made a point for her team!  It was the cherry on tiptop of her season!  You should've seen me go crazy in the stands.  Ok, me, grandma, grandpa, and dad.  We cheered louder than ever before!  :)  GO!  LILY!  GO!
Lily had a great season.  We're looking forward to playing more as a family, too, especially now that the season is over.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

2015 Christmas Newsletter

Thanksgiving Weekend

The weather couldn't have been better for our Thanksgiving travels.  We were guided by this gorgeous sunset.  Beauty like that makes it hard to keep your eyes on the road... but don't worry, we arrived safely.

We stayed at Steve's parents' house, even though they were out visiting his sister in Las Vegas.  Devon, Tommy, and April came and visited us.  Lily or Amara must've taken these next few pictures with my camera while they were outside playing.  What were they drawing on the driveway? Devon was drawing skeletons.  Well, apparently Amara brought charcoal from our firepit on our vacation.  Why, why, why?

Our Thanksgiving feast was at my dad and Deb's house.  There was a little kids table set up off to the side.

And a couple other tables were  pushed together for the adults.

The feast was plentiful and filling!  So many delectables!  The shredded-sauteed brussell sprouts were new to me this year, and I thoroughly enjoyed them.  We contributed a couple pies and the yams.

Not everyone was there, but we had a blast with those that did come.  Trent and Lyndsi's family, Grandma and Grandpa Blad, Heather, April and Spencer's family, our family, and Dad and Debby made up our crew of cohorts!  How could you not have fun with that bunch?

Yes, that's Steve chillaxin' in the background.

Baby Mason was April's lap buddy for the feast.  He loved staring at her earrings.
After the main meal, there were games and activities to be had.  Lyndsi had made some adorable salt dough lego men baked in the oven for people to paint.  Lily took some pictures of the ones she did.
This is her bowl of paint after everything got swirled together.

Here are some of the creations.  Really cute!

Here are the ones Lily created.

There was also a gathering of puzzle-put-together-ers.  It was a big puzzle and took a few hours, but it was a beauty when it was finished.

And I didn't get a picture of the 6 pies, but dad's traditional fruitcake made an appearance.  After having a piece, I decided it wasn't as gross as I used to think it was.  Fruitcake must grow on you with age.  It's not on my favorite desserts list yet, but it makes it onto my favorite traditions list, since the making of this holiday fruitcake can be documented back to at least 5 generations, and if my kids make it one day, that will be 6 generations.  There are not many recipes that can claim that in our family.  The recipe has been changed over the years, with an addition here and there by my grandma, and my great-grandma, but I have a photo of the original.  It's even on this blog (click here).

And I thought I'd insert here as well, that I asked Lily what's the one thing she would hope was at our Thanksgiving dinner, and she thought for a minute, then responded, "deviled eggs!" 

I didn't even know we had had deviled eggs at Thanksgiving before, but because she mentioned them, I brought along some of those as well :)

Stephen and I decided to go on a date while we had an opportunity, so we went out to the Riverwoods and tried a fancy restaurant we had never been to before called "La Jolla Groves."  The food was yummy, but the dessert was sub par, even disappointing.  It looked fancy and pretty, but tasted like stale lemon bread from the bread thrift store.  Not worth 6 bucks!  Steve could've gotten 2 Dr. Doom Lava cakes for that price at Denny's, and those are actually DIVINE! We also took a stroll around a toy shop there, but I was feeling tired and cold, so we just called it an evening.
What good times we had this past Thanksgiving weekend.  We were there for the beginnings of the annual build-the-gingerbread-house event for the festival of trees, but that will be for another post. ;)

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Extracurricular November: Gardening and Jr. Jazz

We went through the garden during the first week in November and harvested everything left.

We filled boxes with tomatoes (red and green), tomatillos, chard, chives, parsley, carrots, and cabbage.  We washed up the carrots and stored them in the fridge.  They will keep for months.

 We had Jack Rasmussen and Point Landscaping put in a sprinkler system throughout our whole yard, lay weed barrier, cover with rocks, create borders and paths, and a few mounds for planting.  They were a dream to work with, got things done quickly, were polite, and worked with our budget.

 In the backyard, they spread peat moss and grass seed, and they guaranteed us grass in the spring, or they would come back and plant it for free.  I can see the vision, and our yard will be so nice.  I'm looking forward to it all!

Lily and Amara both started playing Jr. Jazz basketball in November.  Amara is the only girl on her team, again.  This is her 3rd year playing, and there are a few more rules this year.  They are actually calling traveling and out of bounds, and they don't allow full court press.  Amara is getting the hang of guarding when on defense and moving around when on offense.  She hasn't tried to get the ball very much, but she has been passed to a few times, and has made a few successful passes back to her team mates.  Her season is half way over, and she is learning and improving each game.
Amara receiving her schedule at practice.  She is the smallest, but there are a few other small ones, too.  Some boys on her team are very aggressive and very fun to watch.
Steve and I always enjoy going to the girls games.  My mom almost always comes, too.  Since the girls are in different leagues, sometimes we have 2 games in one night at 2 different places, but luckily, there has only been one scheduling conflict.

Lily's league is an all-girls league, and they play by all the rules including fouls and free throws.  The girls are 5th-7th grades, so there is quite an age and ability range, but it's all good.  Lily's coach, Jerusha Riser, is really good, and very nice, and she tries to make sure all the girls get a chance to bring the ball in at least once.  My favorite is when Lily gets into the game and gets her arms up to guard or catch a pass.  She's learning a little more each time, and I have such fun cheering from the sidelines.