Monday, March 28, 2011

Socc' it to me!

warning: this post is relatively incoherent and serves more to document a first than to be poignant.

Ready or not, here we come! The Allen's are taking the plunge this year! We started last season with basketball and now we're on to soccer, our kids are officially in organized sports. I have been told by many friends to hold out as long as possible because once "it" starts there is no stopping. I can appreciate that advice, and I have held out (Bracken will be 8 in November) but once I started one child it was too hard not to start the others. Actually, Abbie didn't---still doesn't---want to play and even though she had registration drama after they didn't put her best friend onto her team she is sticking it out. Justin and I decided to let each of the three oldest kids give it a go this season, if they don't like it after that then we won't push them for another season.

For the next seven Saturdays we will be attending three soccer games a day and hoping that Lexie and Ruby can handle being toted around from game to game. Last Saturday was fun because it was the first time to see any of the kids play. Tate's game was first, it was at 8am and he seemed excited to go. Apparently the adrenaline only lasted through the first quarter because after scoring two goals in Q1 he was freaked out and crying when it was his turn to sub back in. This happened with nearly every player on his team at one point or another (though not with any of the girls I noticed). I talked to Tate lovingly and calmly, then eventually I yanked him off the sideline and took him to the car (super awesome parenting moment). He took a few deep breaths in his car seat and, after being promised a trip to the swimming pool, he got back out on the field. Bracken's game was next at 9am, he had no reservations about playing because he plays with his friends at recess but he needs a lot of work in the skills department. Luckily for his team, Bracken is really fast and we're hoping the coordination will come in time. Abbie's game wasn't until after lunch so we were able to head home for a little R and R before heading back out into the 90 degree heat. She did a good job but hopes to be a little more aggressive in future games.

our little mvp
(bracken was awarded mvp and most improved player in his very first soccer game ever, we're so proud!)

ok, please look at the way tate is looking at this little girl with pigtails. the coach seems to be giving constructive criticism, tate seems perturbed.

do you girls know what we're supposed to be doing?

i'm not seeing a lot of huddling in tate's future; his posture makes me think he's not ok with people in his personal space

baby girl spectator

snack time!
(he's holding a gogurt that totally blends in with is jersey)

we only have two chairs for now, this will have to do

sweet and happy

my girl

bracken is really fast, we've known for years that he needed to be in sports where that could set him apart. we learned that, for now, basketball is not his sport...perhaps soccer will fare better.

looking up at his dad

curly girl

tate between his new pals, sebastian and diego
(those two boys are brothers, there are five children in their family also---all boys---diego is the oldest at six and a half)

the girls digging in my bag for snacks

sunny much?

it's great to have a sister

big kids
(please notice the cinderella purse tucked down between abbie's cleats, i told her it could not be in the picture)

he's like this quite often, i just wanted proof for when he's older
(for like four days tate walked around telling me that he had broken his arm when he had fallen off his bike. i'm sure he had actually done some kind of damage because of the way he'd wince when he'd bump into things...we're cruel parents i guess)

i think abbie was hoping that if she held onto her dad then he could stay on the field with her throughout the game
(she had a shy and embarrassing moment right before this when the soccer referee---who was probably 14 years old---told her she needed to take off her jewlery, aka silly bands. she was mortified to be called out and took quick steps to the sideline to me and sobbed into my side. poor sensitive girl.)

no such luck, dad's off the field. abbie was great at running back and forth in a pack with the kids on her team but she's unwilling to stick a leg in there and actually kick the ball. she's a little timid and also afraid of hurting someone else. she is a little too sweet and not at all aggressive, so this may not be her sport. finally, i started bribing her with a trip to cups and cones if she would just kick the ball five times...that didn't happen. it's not that i care if she turns out to be a great athlete, i just want her to try and not be afraid. after the game she came to me and whispered, "mom, what if i try to kick the ball but i miss?"

abbie's team huddle with coach mark. he may or may not replace the love abbie had for coach david last season in basketball.

In other Allen news, last thursday was the semi-annual dress sale in Dallas and for the first time we were smart enough to drive up the night before and sleep in a hotel so that I could be there right as the doors opened. I fared better than at other sales when it came to finding the matching dresses across the sizes but the owner opened the warehouse doors 15 minutes earlier than he had posted he would and a lot of ladies (including me) were pretty angry about that. There was a lot of gently nudging people out of your way to get at the dresses you wanted, and even more hoarding armfuls of dresses around the perimeter of the room. I guess it was the way prim and proper, gentle southern ladies face off in battle. I liked it.

Justin opted to wait in the car with the kids and not deal with the throngs of crazy women. At one point I did have him bring the girls in to try on a couple of dresses but he was quick to leave once they were finished. When I got back to the car Justin told me that after quite a while of waiting Bracken said, "there's mom!" followed by Tate saying, "no, there's mom! In the white coat." Justin said he looked up at both women exiting the sale and said, "no, neither of those women are mom. Every woman in there looks just like mommy." He was right, I guess we are of a distinct breed, women who have certain ideals about the way children should dress and are down for a bargain. The girls sported some of the fruits of my labor on Sunday, I just love these linen dresses! The pictures don't do them justice. When the girls are standing the dress is full around them, like a bell, and so darling with the navy stitching and little navy bows, with a huge tan linen bow in the back---precious!

matching love! i'm totally over trying to get pictures where everyone is smiling, or even looking at the camera, as long as all five are in it then i'm good

before church on sunday...and clearly before I had done either lexie or ruby's hair

there's nothing in this world quite like a sister

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

their hearts grew three sizes that week

After staying home alone with my fab five last year during spring break while Justin circled the globe I vowed that this year would be different. So, I made hotel reservations in September. I put them onto Justin's calendar and reminded him to remind his boss that River Ridge Elementary does not care that it is the last week of Q2, spring break is happening regardless of what Apple has planned. Unfortunately, this meant some time was spent on business calls pool-side, though I must admit Justin did a great job of really limiting the time he worked. We are in complete harmony in our belief that the job is a necessary evil to pay for our life---the job is not the life. Thus, Friday afternoon once Abbie had lassoed her last steer at the annual kindergarten rodeo and Bracken had read us his masterpiece at first grade Author Celebration, we piled into the car to begin an eighteen hour journey to Orlando.

Some people may think we're crazy for embarking on such an adventure with five little kids (including Abbie, who several times reminded us that when we went to Orlando in September it was very easy and FAST because we flew) but I really enjoyed being with my family and not having a hard deadline of when we needed to be anywhere, i.e. the airport. We drove about eight hours the first day and spent the night in Baton Rouge, then woke the next morning, popped Princess and the Frog into the DVD player and let the kids soak in a little New Orleans before we drove through the city. It turned out that even though mardi gras was over there was still quite a crowd for a St. Patrick's Day parade to be held that afternoon, so I just hopped out and ran into a little cafe and ordered bags full of beignets so that the kids could taste what Tiana was making---they loved them! Day two ended at 3 AM in Orlando after an 11 hour drive by Justin the amazing. I must admit that it really only felt like 1AM because of the time zone change and the end of daylight savings. However, it was a VERY long day of sitting. Yet, I cannot complain because the kids were amazing, with the exception of Lexie being tired and frustrated without a bed during nap time, everyone was perfect. I couldn't have asked for more.

Day 1, Friday:

Somewhere between dinner at Chick-Fil-A in Houston (where we changed into pj's) and Baton Rouge

the night time paparazzi

totally un-phased by the bright flash.
i couldn't see what i was taking a picture of because it was too dark so i would just hold the camera up and shoot. justin made me stop after six or seven shots because he was afraid i would wake someone up. i guess he doesn't know that i am trying to document our lives here.

bracken's first road trip without the comforts of a booster

Day 3, Sunday:
when you can't go swimming on the sabbath, just pile into the huge tub in mom and dad's room at the hotel.

rub a dub, dub, five babes in a tub

Somehow that was the only shot I got at our first hotel in Orlando. That's right, first hotel. I guess way back in September I made those reservations at the wrong hotel. We were supposed to be staying literally directly across the street at Harbor Lake, not Cypress Harbor. Thanks Marriott for having nearly identical properties a stones-throw apart.

Day 4, Monday:

We transferred across the street to the correct hotel, "the pirate hotel" according to the kids.

a little water fun

18 months old and all grown up.

bracken and abbie playing a game they made up with two frisbees and a wiffle ball

lexie became a very independent woman on our trip, she knows what she wants and how to get it. once she had these chips she wasn't about to give up the bag. i almost lost a finger.

pizza night...which was followed by taco night, and spaghetti night (and friendly's ice cream runs, we were back on the east coast after all)

Day 5, Tuesday:

We were staying at a vacation club resort where the rooms are more like apartments with multiple bedrooms and a kitchen, etc. so we decided to run to Costco to stock up for the week.

this pretty much sums up how justin felt when our escalade sputtered to a stop less than a mile from the costco where we were headed to get gas. lesson learned.

good thing there was a bag of tootsie pops in the glove compartment

i'm pretty sure tate is wondering what fool let us run out of gas

i was too chicken to get out and take a picture of what it looked like for our huge car to sit for ---an HOUR--- in the middle of a busy intersection, so instead i took a picture of the walgreens i stared at for said hour

our knight in shining escalade came to bring us 3 gallons of gas, thank you OnStar

Justin didn't think the whole running out of gas thing was very funny at first but we actually had a really fun time sitting and talking with the kids for that hour.

Day 6, Wednesday:

The most perfect day at the beach ever! A special thank you to Abbie M. for recommending the beach, we had SUCH a great time!


what? mom how could you forget my swimming suit? i just don't understand, we are at the BEACH lady!

this is how far ruby got before abbie could chase her down. the joys of watching five kids at the beach while justin took a business call.

a conversation

russian stacking dolls

the price you pay for being tall is having to bend down in pictures with the ones you love who are not quite as tall

happy baby

sand castle concentration

that girl has got the most pinchalicious buns ever!!

they had the whole beach but they stayed close to one another

five happy kids. i need a beach in my backyard.

what's gonna work?

teeeeeeeam work!

bracken found two jellyfish and wanted to bring them home with us. yeah, that wasn't happening.

tate pretending to eat it, yum!

as we were leaving new smyrna beach, we passed a great old-school wooden playground (can we say wolftrap elementary?) and HAD to stop and let the kids play like it was 1989

yikes, that would be quite a fall

i am positive that i have never had the upper body strength to cross the monkey bars. i guess they are their daddy's kids.


this is the open-mouthed face lex makes every time I say "kisses"--- then i get a fabulous smooch!

son tire sandwich
(notice j in the background on the phone...again)

the oldest

the star of our trip. we are grateful to have made it safely to and from austin, and ALL around orlando

having the time of her life in a just-her-size city

caught red handed. bracken washing all of his treasures from his day at the beach.

what are you looking at?

Day 6, Thursday (St.Patrick's day):

Relaxing at the hotel and letting the kids do whatever they wanted, i.e. cartoons and swimming.

they all watched tv like this, lexie just lay with the big kids, and my mommy heart melted to know how happy my five are to relax and be together

five plus daddy

sister loves




hence the name, "pirate hotel"

quality time

this was her own idea, what a foodie!

abbie fell in love with hula hooping on this vacation

look ma, no hands! and a little lexie look alike in the bottom left

hey tate, crack kills buddy

Day 7, Friday:

We checked out of the pirate hotel on friday and headed over to the JW Marriott Grande Lakes. The kids had remembered it from a previous trip to Orlando and really wanted a chance at the lazy river so we acquiesced.

poor kids, i can empathize from my own youth, waiting in the hotel room while daddy is on a conference call

their better side

noses up against the glass, itching to get out

so close they can smell the chlorine from 20 floors up, hurry up daddy!!

once down at the pool the food must have been more enticing than the water, there was a lot of back and forth

these gals hung out at the allen buffet
(a little white trash for the J-dub but we had so much food left from our fridge at the other hotel)

this photo just perpetuates the mystery i have been trying to solve for the last eighteen months, seriously, what color is this girl's hair? brown? blond? red?

gator huntin'
(their facial expressions are very accurate depictions of each of their personalities)

sister helpin'

what a wrangler!

there's that bending down again

bracken is the greatest big brother and was willing to follow lexie all around the playground and help her with anything she was too small to do on her own

"hey mom! I found a frog!"
...boys will be boys...


we know how to close down a party, the last pool lingerers

Day 8, Saturday:

One last hit at the pool before getting on the road again.

i realized on the last day (after talking on the phone with jess) that I was not in a single picture on the trip. i told her i would get proof that i was there. voila.

It was one of the best trips we have ever taken, not having to be anywhere was exactly what we needed. A great big thanks to my whole family for indulging mom and letting us have a laid back vacation, I love you all so much!

There were many adventures along the way home, some captured on the flip cam, but none captured on my camera I guess. Oh well, I think there were 70 photo's in this post, that will have to suffice.

Happy spring break to those who are lucky enough to have it yet to come---take advantage, you won't get a second chance!