The Game I have Circled

Common question to Coach:  Which game have you circled as THE game you want to win this year?

Coach’s standard response:  The next one on the calendar.

That makes perfect sense as there is no need for him to worry with winning a later game until we’ve taken care of the most immediate game.

But I’m not the coach…I am the coach’s wife, and I do have one particular game circled on my schedule.

In fact, if you can only get to one game here in Tulsa this year, I’m asking that you make it the New Mexico game on Saturday, September 23rd for our 3rd Annual Alzheimer’s Awareness Game.

Three is my all-time favorite number.  I was born on the third, I have three precious loves in my home, and sets of three always seem to balance in a most perfect, harmonious way.  In light of my admiration of all things three,  I – no, WE – are going all out for our third Alzheimer’s Awareness Game.

  • Festivities for the day begin with the 2017 Tulsa Walk to End Alzheimer’s right on the University of Tulsa campus.  The party kicks off at 7:30 am with entertainment and booths and programs and fun, and then the actual Walk begins at 9 o’clock.  Registration to participate is free, and we’d love for you to join Coach’s team in honor of his mom: TEAM SANDRA JEAN.  Visit www.TulsaWalk.org to sign up and find all the details.
  • After the walk it will be TIME TO TAILGATE!!  I love spending the day with family and friends prior to the game.  My cousin, Cody, is always in charge of the meat; my favorite is when he grills fajitas right on-site!  My Angel Girl has to have her Tailgater Sliders, and I don’t believe it is a party until there is a dessert or two on the table, especially my Sopapilla Cheesecake!
  • Next up?  BEAT NEW MEXICO!!  I typically pack up the tailgate and head into the stadium to watch a little pre-game an hour before kickoff.  I like to catch a glimpse of Coach down on the field, and I like to be settled in my seat before the national anthem.  Hearing “The Stars and Stripes Forever” in a sport’s stadium gives me cold chills. Even after all these years and hundreds of ballgames, it brings tears to my eyes every single time, and I hate missing that experience even once.

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Without a doubt, we want you – WE NEED YOU – at every game this season.  Our boys won 10 games last year, we were victorious in a fabulous bowl game in a very convincing fashion, and we set a national record that landed us right in the College Football Hall of Fame in an “instant classic” type of way.  Our games are fun, affordable, and a treat for everyone to enjoy.

But if you have to put your tickets in order of priority, please put Saturday, September 23rd at the top of your list.  Here is everything you need to know:

  • All Tulsa Walk to End Alzheimer’s participants will have access to discounted game tickets, so please take advantage of that special offer! (It will arrive in an email confirmation after you complete your Walk registration.)
  • Premium tailgating spots are also available to Walk participants in a 1-game, discounted package, so be sure to check that out at www.TulsaHurricane.com as well.  You can always call 918-631-4688 or read here for customer assistance.
  • This year’s ALZ game t-shirt is now ready to purchase online, and 25% of the sale of every shirt will be donated to TEAM SANDRA JEAN.  We have adult and youth sizes available, so order plenty for all your friends and loved ones: click here to order.  We can’t wait to see everyone wearing them as we raise awareness and funds to fight this tragedy and #tackleAlzheimers together!

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I can’t wait to see you there!

With love and hugs,

Ashli

My Carnival Career is Back in Business

After my PTA Carnival days ended approximately 4 years ago, I vowed I was finished with the carnival planning “business” (you’ve heard what volunteers get paid, right?).

BUT…Coach and I are super excited about chairing the 2017 Tulsa Walk to End ALZ, and it’s time to really begin our Walk efforts so we are kicking off the fun in the best way we know how: a party at the football field ❤️💛💙💜

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We’ve already confirmed with several Walk teams and Walk supporters to join us for the fun:

  • a local radio station to provide live music
  • Barre 3 Tulsa will be teaching a free community class in the south end zone
  • our TU Spirit Squad will be on hand giving out free t-shirts and Golden Hurricane goodies
  • my Tulsa football boys will be on the field passing the ball and teaching impeccable touchdown technique with the kids (of all ages)
  • there will be more than one fun photo opportunity to enjoy
  • Verdigris High School Softball Team wants to see just how fast you can pitch a baseball or softball with their handy radar gun
  • the Cascia Hall Cheerleaders are setting up sidewalk chalk for everyone to dazzle us with their creations

We will offer a very reasonable dinner purchase (I’m thinking a BBQ plate or hamburger basket), water and soft drinks, and definitely some sweet treats like maybe an ice cream stand or son-cone truck.  Or a CAKE WALK – that would be perfect!!

And, of course, there will be help on hand to get you registered for the 2017 Tulsa Walk to End ALZ.  You are always welcome to join our team (TEAM SANDRA JEAN), or you can start your own.  We will also have information about the many services and programs available to help those you love who are dealing with Alzheimer’s.  You are not alone, and we want to make sure you know what assistance is out there and how to access it!

Let me know if you have a Walk team, church or neighborhood group, civic or social organization, company or business that would like to participate in our kickoff carnival.  Hey, I’ll take individuals and families and flocks of friends – anyone who wants to help out is greatly appreciated!! We are open to all kinds of fun booths and games to attract and entertain the community.

My vision is BIG, so come one, come all, and let’s have some fun!

Love and hugs,

Ashli

PS:  Please like and share our Facebook event to help advertise the fun: 2017 Tulsa Walk to End ALZ Kickoff Party – June 21st

Team Sandra Jean, 2017 ed.

SAVE THE DATE:
The 2017 Tulsa Walk to End Alzheimer’s is set for SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 23rd.

Coach and I are your 2017 event chairs and WE NEED YOU THERE!!

Last year Coach served as a “Celebrity Captain” to use his name recognition as the head coach of Golden Hurricane Football as a springboard to raise awareness and interest in the event. Both of us were completely overwhelmed and very appreciative of the great response, and yet we both felt like there was more we could do.

So, we asked to chair the whole kit and kaboodle 🙂

We also asked to move the event on to campus at the University of Tulsa, so the entire walk route will wind through our gorgeous TU campus.

Then we asked to move the date to correspond with a Golden Hurricane home football game, and now the Tulsa Walk to End ALZ will kick off a day full of fun and football on September 23rd.

Finally, we asked to make that our annual “Alzheimer’s Awareness Game” so be watching for announcements about tailgating deals, game day t-shirts, ticket promotions, and much more as the plans for this day-long party are finalized.

For now, more than anything we need you to sign on to be part of the party…

* Our team, TEAM SANDRA JEAN, is active and ready for teammates to join and support through donations. Our family of four has committed to raising a minimum of $2500 via our personal fundraising pages. Just click on the photos below to visit any of our four individual pages:

* Start your own team by visiting TulsaWalk.org – it only takes a minute to get your team registered and click the button to make your team page live online. You can set fundraising goals for your entire team as well as your individual goal that will count towards your team totals:

TulsaWalk.org and click REGISTER

* Reach out to me or to the Oklahoma Alzheimer’s Association if you need any help getting started, if you have questions, or if you are available to help us make this event a major success. Volunteers are needed throughout the planning process as well as on the day of the event:

Email or call for help to get signed up for this year’s Walk to END ALZ: http://www.alz.org/oklahoma/

There are so many fabulous ways to help us battle this devastating disease, and I am here to help you find the perfect fit for you. Thank you for standing with us!

With love and hugs,
Ashli

Wednesday Awareness: A Sea of Purple

Before I begin our #Walk2EndALZ wrap-up, I want to say a quick thank you to Kelly Hines, TU Sportswriter for the Tulsa World, for helping us bring awareness to ending Alzheimer’s disease with a great piece that was included in her “TU Notebook” column today: $30,000 for a Good Cause.  We are quite lucky to have a supportive sports writing community here in Tulsa which is definitely not always the case in college towns; we appreciate media personalities like Kelly and John Moss and many others taking the time to get to know us as more than “Coach Montgomery & Co.” Their support of our fight against Alzheimer’s is very much appreciated!

The Tulsa Walk to End Alzheimer’s was fantastic!!

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A Beautiful Sea of Purple

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The kids and I, along with MawMaw, layered up on a beautiful, sunny, crisp Oklahoma morning and headed out to Guthrie Green with about 5,000 fellow walkers.  The set up this year was a blast – kudos to whomever came up with the party bead idea!

The Alzheimer’s Association has a foundation of 5 guiding pillars:

  1. Concern & Awareness
  2. Advocacy
  3. Care & Support
  4. Accelerate Research
  5. Grow Revenue

Each of these pillars was represented with a different color of party beads at the Walk last Saturday.  We had a ton of fun collecting each color by visiting different information booths.  It was truly a clever way to direct such a wonderful crowd throughout the event grounds!

I am proud to report that all four of us succeeded in getting all five colors of beads, we visited with friends (both new and old) while exploring the tables, and even got a super cute picture for my scrapbook:

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When the program began, I took my place on stage with my SonShine and Angel Girl by my side.  I was tasked with sharing a personal – and inspirational – story.  I certainly did not want to be a “downer” on such a fun occasion, but the fact of the matter is that Alzheimer’s is a downer.  I decided on a story about Coach’s mom, Sandra; here is that story and the first part of my script:

ASHLI:

Hi, everyone!  I am so happy to be here with you this morning!!  Coach sends his “hello” and wishes he could be here, too.  But he is preparing for our Homecoming game this afternoon so instead he send his greetings as well as our two kids.

Many of you may have heard that this cause is personal for us.  Philip’s mom, Sandra, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease just a few years ago.  You’ve never met a sweeter, kinder woman!  It has been really tough watching this disease take its toll.  Just last month she was in town for our first football game of the season and something tiny happened – something that probably only Philip and I noticed.  But it was something that served as a huge indicator of just how ravishing this disease can be. 

Sandra was raised the oldest daughter of a preacher.  She then married a preacher.  She has served the Lord and the church her entire life.  Over the course of 73 years, I would estimate that she has taken communion more than 3,200 times.  But on Sunday, September 4th, when Philip held the communion cups out for her to take one, she looked up at him with blankness and confusion in her eyes.  He went on to hand her one, and still she looked to him, unsure of what to do.  Finally, he helped her drink the juice, and in that moment we both felt a sharp stab of helplessness.  Helplessness and deep sadness that something so important and so personal to her was lost.  We don’t want to lose our Nana!

That is why we walk in her honor today; we are Team Sandra Jean!

I went on to accept a challenge from this year’s Walk chairman to raise an additional $100 to my Walk campaign before Thanksgiving, so if you meant to donate but didn’t get around to it, there is still time.  Click here to go to our Team Sandra Jean website to give a gift online:  TEAM SANDRA JEAN.

And finally, I finished my speech with lots of cheers and a huge invitation:

We are standing here today because we truly believe that the end of Alzheimer’s starts with us. I can tell by looking out into this sea of purple that we are not in this alone. Who’s ready to put a stop to this devastating disease?

[PAUSE FOR AUDIENCE CHEERS]

Let’s let all of Tulsa know that we’re here today to lead the way to the end of Alzheimer’s!

[APPLAUSE/CHEERS]

WOW – You all sound great!  So great that I can easily imagine you all cheering loudly from the stands at H.A. Chapman Stadium!  In fact, we would like to invite each and every one of you to a very special TU football game on November 5th. For the second year in a row, Coach and his Golden Hurricane will host an Alzheimer’s Awareness Game.  We have created this special edition t-shirt for the event, and we want to see you wearing one as you cheer just like that – or maybe even louder – at the game.  Best of all, the proceeds from all the t-shirt sales will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association. You can go to TulsaWalk.org to get more information about purchasing your special edition t-shirt & tickets for the game!

We can’t wait to see you all there!

THANK YOU for being here – THANK YOU for walking today – and THANK YOU for supporting this fight to end Alzheimer’s!

My precious models on stage did a terrific job of showing off our November 5th game shirt!  The shirts are now available at the TU Campus Corner Bookstore at 11th Street and Harvard.  Please run by and pick yours up today!

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In love and hugs on a Wonderful Wednesday,

Ashli

Kickoff Couture

Two of my favorite words in our English language: KICKOFF & COUTURE

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I adore football, and I adore clothes; what better thought to ponder than the ultimate question of “What am I wearing to the game??”

I am forever pinning game day fashions on Pinterest:

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Since coming to Tulsa, I have found several new boards definitely worth following:

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This morning, I even discovered/connected that TU colors (royal, red, and yellow) just happen to be Snow White colors – who knew that there is an entire movement of Disney-character-based designs? FOR GROWN UPS?

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Most are not my style, but I could absolutely do this:

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Or this:

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Or even this:

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Of course, my actual outfit – on my actual body – never actually looks like all these fun pins, but last week I pulled off some cute Kickoff Couture. I can’t believe I am doing this.  Publicly.  But here it is…

What I Wore: Thursday, August 20, 2015 Edition

Coach has forecasted (and requested) White Out conditions for our season opener on Saturday, September 5th. I was having little success finding the 32 shirts I needed for family and friends traveling to Tulsa for the game, so I asked the football department how we could get a great, but inexpensive, shirt to the masses. I researched white outs at other colleges, Coach helped me design a shirt, and a local sporting goods store jumped on board to produce them for us. I am thrilled with how the project has turned out, and I can’t wait to see our shirts walking around H.A. Chapman Stadium in just 2 short weeks!!

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This past Thursday (August 20th) I attended Coach’s first ever Kickoff Luncheon, so of course I wanted to #1) look like a fun and spirited coach’s wife, and #2) promote our WHITE OUT campaign:

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I started with one of our soft, comfy, and cheap WHITE OUT tees, adding an undershirt because it was 65 degrees in Oklahoma that day (Really? It’s the middle of August!). They are silver on the front and will have a fabulous glisten when the sun touches the bleachers on game day. The back reads “The New Reign Begins: TU vs FAU September 5, 2015” and for only $5 per shirt, everyone should buy several 😉

As awesome as cotton t-shirts are, they are not exactly business attire, so I added a few glamorous touches to dress it up a bit…from head to toe.

In honor of my amazing sister’s very special birthday which just happened to be on August 20th as well, I began with some of my particularly favorite jewelry, a matching Sorrelli necklace and bracelet set that my sister gave me for my 30th birthday.  They are exquisite in shimmery, jeweled red and blue tones, and not once in the last 10 years have I worn them and NOT received multiple compliments on how gorgeous and classy the pieces are or how magnificently they reflect the light! They are examples of those “forever fabulous” items in your wardrobe that you’ll always go back to again and again and simply love to wear:

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Now for a quick side-stroll down memory lane 🙂  Me and my sis…Scan 1

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(Anyone else notice that I am always the goofball??)

Back to business…

Next, I added a fun and flirty skirt with big, wide blue and red stripes.  I felt like a teeny-bopping cheerleader in it, but since I truly am Coach’s biggest, loudest, and cheerleading-est fan, I was willing to go back in time to the rah rah days of old.  The best thing about this piece: it was a $20 ModCloth gem that I simply had to have and ordered two years ago (when our colors were green and gold); it has been waiting patiently in the closet for its turn, and the Kickoff Luncheon was the perfect excuse event:

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I finished my look with navy patent leather high heels and a little, red clutch.  There is not much to say about “patent” and “leather” and “high” and “heels” except that they, too, are a few my favorite words when strung together, they are totally awesome, and they always look good.  For my handbag I chose this Coach beauty that Coach and the kids gave me for Christmas last year as we were preparing for the move to Tulsa and new game day colors:

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TaDa!! The finished look, with the very best part of all my outfits added in…my arm candy, my Coach (looking very dapper himself!):

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Well, that’s all, folks, my first foray into fashion blogging.  Now, go order a big supply of WHITE OUT shirts for family and friends and neighbors and strangers, and we will see you on Skelly Field at 2:30 pm, Saturday, September 5th.  #ReignCane

With love and hugs,

Ashli

PS: Here are a few out-takes of me attempting (but NOT succeeding) to take a picture of my outfit to share.  How do all these youngsters excel at selfies??  That is NOT easy.

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8 Months and Counting

Last Saturday was a good day.  It is easy to get caught up in the speed of life and forget to acknowledge the simple fact that a day was good, so I find it worth repeating:  it was a good day.

The day began at the kids’ high school for their intrasquad scrimmage:

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SonShine carrying the ball after a reception on O…

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…and getting to the play on D.

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My big-bowed Angel Girl and her sweet big sis…

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…earning donations to take them to nationals.

Athletics gets its fair share of criticism, and sometimes rightfully so, but I truly adore watching my kids perform.  They are both extremely hard workers with huge hearts and each possess a grand love for what they do.  Neither is a star or stud, but they both bring a lot to the field and to their team.  They both have good moments and tough struggles. They both have victories and defeats – and not just on the scoreboard or podium, but on a daily basis with good catches and frustrating drops, stunts that stick and pyramids that fall, and the natural goods and bads, ups and downs of life.  I like that competition and sports are helping me (and Coach) teach these essential lessons day in and day out.

While their scrimmage was going on in Midtown, Coach’s first scrimmage of fall camp was happening on campus.  It’s amazing what a man on a mission can accomplish in a short amount of time. Coach knows his heart and when he goes after something he goes with passion and precision and people. That probably reads funny, but it is totally true: Coach is a “people person” who never meets a stranger.  He is easy to love, and people respond to and migrate to him naturally. I think it is because he is genuine; he genuinely loves boldly. He’s honest and affectionate, he’s down to earth and more than a little bit country, he’s intense yet patient.  He is who he is, and because that is easy to recognize and admire, it doesn’t take long to love this guy.

Take me for instance…

April 21, 1995:  We met… December 21, 1995:  We married.

P and A wedding photoEight months to the day.

The faithful Golden Hurricane have fallen for him just as quickly…

December 15, 2014: Coach is officially announced as the 29th head football coach at the University of Tulsa:

IMG_0608August 15, 2015:  Fan Appreciation Day.  Eight months to the day.

I was overwhelmed with the crowd on Saturday!  So many people came out to support Coach and his guys that the line to meet the players was the entire length of the concourse, several people wide, and all the way out to the gate.

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For the fans, it is great fun to visit with the players for a minute, pick up a schedule poster, and gather autographs.  For Coach and the guys, those fan interactions are priceless.  Of course they have a deep love for the game and are highly, highly motivated by their own goals and team accomplishments, but those smiles and high 5’s are the sweetest icing on a heavenly cake.  Seeing the joy and laughter on Coach’s face and on all his players brings a warmth to my heart (and a tear to my eye).  For the Montgomery’s football really is family, and it was a really good day.

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But the day was not yet done.  In fact, our football family is expanding.  Our DFO and his precious wife are adding to our crew in Week 1, so we showered them with diapers, wipes, cream, and powder while enjoying a fajita feast with all the staff and their families.  It completed my day perfectly, hearing giggles and stories and seeing first hand how in these 8 months, we have come to care for each other, to look out for each other, and to be there for each other.  It was a really, really good day.

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But don’t forget, we’re still counting.  Coach and the guys have a couple of weeks left to finish up fall camp.  And then, on September 5th, after months of endless meetings, days and days of film, miles and miles and miles of practice reps, and more preparation than you can shake a stick at, the real fun begins.  There is a lot planned for the season opener, and it’s going to be a blast!  Coach has ordered WHITEOUT conditions at H.A. Chapman Stadium as the 2:30 kickoff promises to be hot and sunny, there will be Hurricane Flags for the first 5000, and tailgating will be in full effect with games and inflatables for the little kids and a Lexus giveaway for the big kids.  Honestly, I can not wait!

We hope to see you there 😉

With love and hugs,

Ashli

#ReignCane

Me and Coach  #ReignCane

House to Home Countdown: #10

It is 5:07 am, and I just dropped Coach off at the airport.  He has been back and forth a few times since becoming “the” coach at TU, but this is the only time he has not left his truck in the lot.  I drove him there this time because this time he won’t be back.

That sounds so final and dramatic…of course he will be back; we have family in the area, tons of friends to visit, and he will be through here time after time on the recruiting trail.  He will see the Heart of Texas again.

But he won’t ever be back to this home.  And driving back to the house so early this morning, that fact hit me really hard.  Honestly, I am a bit shocked that it affected me at all.  After 7 homes in 19 years (Leonard, Stephenville x2, Denton, Pearland, Lorena, and China Spring), I know better than most that houses come and go; it’s memories and love that make a home.  On top of that track record, this home had a bit of a rocky start.  It took a little longer than normal to truly shift from house to home…

This house broke one of the Cardinal Rules of Coaching: never move mid-job.  There is little to no job security in football.  Even less in the coaching of college football.  When we make a move, we pick a house, and we stay put, paying extra on the mortgage principal from Day 1 to ensure that the equity is not upside down.  EVER!

But this time, through a series of events and decisions, we found ourselves moving from a southern suburb to a northern suburb after 3 years on the job.  As we scouted houses, we came across a new construction project that was just getting started.  The builder said we were early enough in the process to turn his spec house into a custom build.  There was still time to make a few floor plan changes, I would be able to select all the fixtures and finishes, and best of all, the project was slated to be on display in the 2011 Parade of Homes so it would have special pricing and be move-in ready on the final day of the parade which coincided perfectly with Coach’s summer schedule.

We never dreamed we would have the time assurances to build, we absolutely loved the neighborhood, and although it was way more house than we intended to buy, we liked the layout and could see our family living there.

I am here today to countdown the top 10 things that truly make this house a home for me (which is a very positive thing), so I am skipping over the building process (which is a very negative thing), but suffice it to say that it was an arduous journey, one that left me emotionally bruised for a while, yet one that taught me three very important lessons:

1.  Listen to your gut, and never be afraid to walk away.

2.  Believe in yourself, and never allow anyone to bully or berate you.

3.  Have faith in your strength, and never forget how strong love can make you.

Now for the fun part – drumroll please – the first entry on my House to Home Countdown is

#10: CHRISTMAS at 615 WHISPERING OAKS

We moved in to the new house on July 4, 2011.  Yes, you read correctly.  We were THAT family moving ourselves across town on July 4th, a national holiday, in the summertime heat.  MawMaw was the only person to show up and help that day, so it was Coach, two highly intelligent and directive ladies (like mother, like daughter…), two pre-teens, and 3200 square feet of crap to carry.  WAYYYYY FUN FOR COACH!!

I was so bitter about the building experience that for several months I really didn’t even want to be there.  After putting hours and days and weeks of thought into every little detail on the house, I had a hard time sitting in it while Coach and the kids were away during the days.  It wasn’t until I got ready to decorate for Christmas that first year, that I began to see the house as our home.

The first bit of excitement came with my library tree.  The library is really the blueprint’s study/office that I transformed into a library by adding 10 foot tall bookshelves on two of the walls.

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The third wall is painted a rich, chocolate brown and displays my (currently useless) collection of diplomas and certificates, an antique door that I turned into a desk, and the computer on which I am typing.

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The fourth wall is a half-pentagonal, 16-foot tall wall of windows that faces the street in front of the house.  The most amazing chandelier is suspended from the midpoint of the pentagon, and directly under the chandelier is an outlet, with a dedicated light switch, created especially for a big, beautiful Christmas tree.

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When Coach and I married on December 21, 1995, we chose a Christmas theme of red and green, and we put a Christmas tree in the reception hall to set a festive, joyous tone.  Shopping for that tree was the only other time I purchased a tree and all it’s decorations in one stop.  And Hobby Lobby wasn’t around then…but this time it sure was!!

I found a fabulous array of turquoise, tan, cream, white, and chocolate colored ornaments – everything you can imagine like glass and glittery balls, feathers and beads, plaid ribbon for bows, and snowmen – lots and lots of snowmen!  Putting up that tree was so fun, and it was new, and it was about this house, especially for this home.  It was the first time I believed that this house would transform into our home as all the ones before had done.  How perfect that my belief was brought to light by Christmas!

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My favorite ornaments are often the simplest:

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Well, my tree fun doesn’t stop there.  This house was made (intentionally, of course!!) for Christmas.  In fact, I have a total of 7 trees throughout the house – yep, SEVEN 🙂

The wedding ornaments and bows from 1995 are still around, and they go on a 7-foot tree in the dining room which is also visible from the street.

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I especially love our annual hot chocolate bar that sits next to the wedding tree along with one of the cutest Santa pics you’ve ever seen:

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Our ever-expanding collection of family ornaments and artwork go in the living room on a 9.5-foot tree.

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Books can be found on all my trees…no big surprise there!

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And even a message for Santa:

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I adore my most treasured tree skirt (which happens to be the same one that was under Mom’s tree throughout my childhood):

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The upstairs Baylor-themed game room is home to a green and gold tree which is decorated with all kinds of silly and random football memorabilia such as ticket stubs, growl towels, and bowl game trinkets.  This tradition will definitely continue next year, just with a new theme and a couple new colors to play with 😉

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The kids each have their own trees in their rooms: Angel Girl’s is pink, and SonShine’s is blue.  I love seeing how they put them together each year, and they never look the same two years in a row!

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Finally, I have a tiny miniature tree that travels with us when we are gone to bowl games for Christmas.  When at home, it presides over the kitchen from its perch high on the bar.

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Each tree is special, as are the garlands and goodies that I drape and set on every cabinet, mantel, and countertop throughout the month of December.  I am eager to see how they all come together in a new house in a short 11 months!  Just know, whoever spends next Christmas at 615 Whispering Oaks, you’ve got a great foundation for establishing joy and turning this house into your home…

With love and hugs,

Ashli

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What a Weekend!

To say we enjoyed a fun weekend is the understatement of the season – which is a very good report to give! Beginning last Thursday, Angel Girl won her volleyball match in 2 sets (a first for her team), she cheered her 7th grade football players to victory, and SonShine had 3 fabulous receptions in his district win. On Friday night, Mommaw came to town, us girls had a mini-shopping spree, and SonShine had a blast working for the high school coaches during the varsity win.

And then we got to Saturday.

Saturdays are pretty important in our home. College football fanfare and the boys of fall take on a new meaning when Dad is also Coach. I know that I am his truest love, but let’s face it, football was his very first love. Watching Coach coach fills my heart with this warm, gooey, lovey-dovey pride. He puts so much pressure on himself, and he works harder than I could ever relate to you. He sleeps very little, he sacrifices very much, his time with his own two kids is terribly limited, and he misses tons of important events. He is slow to take credit and quick to blame himself for every mis-step, botched play, or 3-and-out. And he loves every second of it. The competition, the strategy of the chess match, the boys who face the battle (I guess since they are 18-23 years old, stand well over 6 feet tall, and weigh 200+ pounds I could call them “men” but to us they are Coach’s boys), the tempo, the intensity, the methodology, and the celebration – they all call to Coach, and I love that he gets to do what he loves every single day.

This past Saturday was especially fun: our team was hitting on all cylinders, we won big, we became bowl eligible, and we moved up significantly in the rankings.

Phrase for the day: "We goin' bowling!!"

Phrase for the day: “We goin’ bowling!!”

And as fun as it all was, I have to say that the very best part of this past weekend did not occur on a football field…it happened at the pumpkin patch!

Almost 9 years ago, Mommaw and I were driving SonShine and Angel Girl to watch Coach’s game when we spotted an adorable little pumpkin stand on the side of the road. We pulled in, let the kids explore, and they picked out pumpkins to take home. In the process, I captured some really precious pictures that are priceless and dear to me.

Fall 2004: SonShine was 6 and Angel Girl had just turned 4

Fall 2004: SonShine was 6 and Angel Girl had just turned 4

Coach's biggest - and cutest -fans since way back...

Coach’s biggest – and cutest – fans since way back…

Needless to say, they indulged my whim. Being goofball teenagers this go around was even more fun than our first visit all those years ago. We were only there about 30 or 45 minutes, but those were by far the best, most enjoyable minutes of my weekend, and with the amazing weekend we just had, that is saying a lot!!

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As my sweet friend, Ilsa, says, “Enjoy today – it is a gift!”

New York, NY

I am a bit nervous sitting here right now, typing and waiting…killing time until 7pm.  My last blog was months ago, so I’m a little hesitant to pick it up again.  My hiatus from writing was self-induced.  When I started this blog, I thought “I’ll write a little about what’s on mind from time to time,” but the reality immediately became “Oh, I want to share this, and that, and EVERYTHING!” I have zero self-discipline, and all I wanted to do was write!! Nothing else, just sit at my computer with a happy, little smile on my face 🙂  I’ve been wanting to get back to my blog, within reason of course, so here goes…again.

I am also just a tad nervous for 7 o’clock to roll around.  Coach is currently on a plane headed for New York, making his way to the Heisman Trophy Award Ceremony.  My prayers have been lifted, my wishes made, and my fingers are crossed.  I hope Robert wins!  Nothing changes if he doesn’t; RGIII is, and will always be, the same Robert to us.  He’s the guy who agreed to read to over a hundred kids for my BEAR Night program thinking it would be about 30-45 minutes, but happily stayed for almost 3 hours to take an individual photo with every child and parent in attendance.

RGIII reading a football book for BEAR Night

Every single person at BEAR Night had a picture with Robert...

Even SonShine and Angel Girl

He’s the guy who always spends time talking to Angel Girl and SonShine when they go to work with Coach, and he never hesitates when the kids’ friends ask for photos, autographs, or a bit of conversation. Robert’s one of several amazing guys who buy into what Coach is “selling” by believing in him, listening to his expertise, and applying all the tweaks and changes, shifts and adjustments that Coach asks them to make.  I love these boys – men – because they love Coach, and therefore, they are part of our family.

Robert and Coach after a big W

I have had many people comment this week, “I know you are so proud of Coach,” and they are correct, I AM very proud of Coach.  The thing is, though, I’m no more proud of him today than any other day.  I’m always ridiculously proud of all he gives his players, and his co-workers, and his family.  I’m always amazed at how his mind works and how he just sees things that others miss.  I’m always overwhelmed with the amount of love I feel for this guy.  But I wasn’t any less proud of him 16 years ago, when he coached his first football season at a tiny 1A high school program in a place no one has ever heard of.

My pride in him is constant every day…today I am just really, really HAPPY for him!  I’m ecstatic that Robert is a finalist for the biggest award in college football.  I’m overjoyed that he invited Coach to share in this time with him.  I’m smiling and teary and anxious all at once.  And no matter whose name is called out tonight at that award show, I am thrilled that Coach is there, in New York City, looking super cute on TV, and doing what he does best: supporting someone we love.

Fall is for football and friendship, I hope

Indiana High School football team, circa 1921

Image via Wikipedia

Last night was our first foray into football this fall.  We went to the high school game here in town.  It was not crisp and cool as football should be…it was still 106 degrees when we arrived at 6:30, but the community was supportive, the crowd was a good size (although a little quiet for my liking).  The team looked good, but not yet great (which is fine for the first game of the year).  I didn’t see any injuries, not even cramping up in the horrendous heat, which is a prayer answered at any ballgame.  Best of all, from a football standpoint, we won!

** Please note that like a good coach’s wife, I described all the football before moving onto the mommy stuff.

SonShine had a blast!  After thoroughly enjoying his first week of jr. high school, his night was just the icing on his cake 🙂  He spent the entire game (with the exception of when he needed $$$ for the concession stand, of course) hanging out in the “student section” of the endzone with all his friends and classmates.  He was still riding his “first week high” when I tucked him into bed and said how happy I am that he is having such a fantastically great year already.

I, too, had fun sitting with friends, socializing at least as much as (maybe more than) actually watching the game.  I have had 16 years to perfect that art of juggling both activities, and I have to say, I am pretty good at it.  I can hold up a conversation, pause for breath while we make a quick interception, cheer, and continue on without missing a beat!

The only less-than-stellar part of the night was a nagging sense and saddening feeling that Angel Girl was a third wheel with her two school friends.  I hope and pray that they consider themselves her friends, anyway.  They were never rude or mean in any way, yet I couldn’t help but get the impression that Angel Girl wasn’t completely welcome into their twosome.  She tagged along anyway, and she sat with them trying to interject herself into their conversation when possible, but I could tell by everyone’s body language that having her there was not a good thing in their minds.  It was so obvious (and painful) that I felt compelled to mentioned it to one of the girls’ moms…”Please let me know if the girls would like Angel Girl to give them a little space; she really enjoys hanging out with them, but I know they are very close and might like to have some time just the two of them.”  That wasn’t easy!  Finding a polite way to phrase “Look, let me know if your kids don’t want mine around” is a trifle difficult.  She, of course, was a sweetheart saying that it is good for them all to have time with new friends.  That is 100% true, but my heart still broke a little every time I glanced down the bleachers in Angel Girl’s direction.  She is very in tune with feelings and people’s behavior, so while she had her game face on (a big beautiful smile), I know she felt out of place and a bit left out all night long, and that is really hard for a momma to sit and witness 😦

It’s not a question of popularity.  I don’t need for Angel Girl to be the center of attention, but no parent wants their child to be the one the other kids are trying to shake.  I feel for her especially because in 6 years, this is the very first time Angel Girl has EVER returned to the same school campus two years in a row.  Literally: every year she has had to start fresh, meeting new people, making new friends.  This is the first time she is not a New Kid which is great, but it also means that while she knows kids from last year, she still does not have that BEST friend to sit with at the games, invite to sleepovers, and look forward to seeing on the rare occasions when they are not together.

I had that in school, and while CC and I don’t talk often and haven’t seen one another in years, I still feel our bond is so strong that I can call her up without hesitation for any old reason and pick up exactly where we left off last time.  I want that friend for Angel Girl, so I hope, and I pray every single night, that this fall will be for both football AND friendship