life with a sports addict

The Yearly Football Post

Today is the most important holiday in the state of Alabama.*

College football officially started Thursday (and all the world rejoiced), but the Crimson Tide plays their first game today. Grocery stores have chicken wings on sale, men are re-organizing their closets by color (so that the crimson shirts are more easily accessible), and women are showing their newly houndstoothed** toenails off on Facebook.

In our house, this day rivals Christmas (which is a big, big deal for my husband). He has been gearing up for this for weeks… however many weeks it has been since Alabama’s last game, in fact.

If you live in the south, care at all about sports, OR spend more than 36 seconds watching ESPN each day, you know that the SEC network was launched recently. THAT day was, to Jonathan, like Christmas, his birthday, and a bowl of ice cream all rolled up in a circus burrito. We*** have spent hours in the past week watching Tim Tebow, Greg What’s-His-Face, and their buddies scrutinize every coach, every quarterback, and every blade of grass in SEC territory.

Judah has been groomed for this day for months now… and he is only 6 weeks old. He was learning the fight song while still in the womb. He was watching hype videos to soothe him at 2 weeks old. And he’s been educated on the magic of College Gameday.

In the last few years, I have learned to appreciate college football (and it’s coverage), to an extent. I enjoy watching Alabama play, though sitting still through an entire game is still asking A LOT. I enjoy following the interesting storylines of certain players (it’s amazing, the level of like or dislike you can feel for someone that you don’t know at all in real life). I have a fondness for Paul Finebaum. I spent some time a couple of weeks ago trying to explain to my mother why watching a radio show about football on TV can actually be amusing (I think she was aghast that I was capable of having such an opinion). And if I ever got the opportunity to meet Kirk Herbstreit, I would look like this:
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BUT. I will never have a love for football like my husband does. Most recently Jonathan has been preparing for a fantasy football draft. I know less than nothing about fantasy football, partly because it has to do with a whole other beast called the NFL. I know that in our house, we like the Saints, and that is all I know. My understanding of fantasy football drafts was that you pick a couple of players, keep track of how they do in real life, and if you win, awesome. If you don’t, sad.

“Preparation” had no part of it in my mind. I was so wrong. I did not know that you can spend hours sitting at the computer waiting for it to beep at you so that you can quickly make a life-altering decision about which tight end to select. I did not know that magazines have entire articles devoted to fantasy football drafting techniques. I did not know there were fantasy football drafting techniques. I did not know that there are whole TV shows where people sit around and talk about how, who, or why to draft (which Jonathan watches intently while muttering “mmhmm,” “oh yes,” or “no way” like an old lady in church). The decision about whether to draft a good running back or a good quarterback first is a decision that must be properly agonized over, for it can make or break your team and therefore your life.

Last night men came to our house. They sat at our table and ate chips and drank drinks and stared at their beeping computers and asked “so what do we think of (insert name here)?” I tried to watch and learn, and here are my observations:
I learned that a “sleeper” is not necessarily what I dress Judah in at night.
I learned that there is a man named Megatron (you can’t imagine my relief when I discovered that that isn’t the name on his birth certificate).
I learned something about someone running the ball a lot and injuries and rain.

And I concluded that while I like the game of football 1,367% more than the game of basketball, March Madness is 439% more fun than fantasy football.

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*I stand corrected. After proofreading this for me (because I can never remember if “running back” is one word or two), Jonathan reminded me that the Iron Bowl is actually the most important holiday. Today is #2.

**Yes, that is a real word in the south.

***”We” means that Jonathan watches while I either listen from the kitchen (where I am baking something involving peanut butter or basil), sleeping on the couch beside him, or reading a book.

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2013, in five bullet points… and what’s coming in 2014!

Problems with growing up:
You have to actually remember things, because your mom isn’t there to remind you.
Paying bills.
No more sleeping in. Like, ever.
You are supposed to do courteous things like send Christmas cards and Christmas letters. Every year.

We have now been married for three Christmases, and for three Christmases we have failed to send a card or letter. To anyone. I will admit that is due in equal parts to forgetfulness, procrastination, and laziness.
(Forgetfulness: “Oh, we forgot to do Christmas cards, and it’s December 15 already!”
Procrastination: “Oh well, we can figure something out tomorrow.”
Laziness: “Eh, it’s December 20th. It’s just not worth all the hustle I’d have to put into it now.”)
So, in lieu of the traditional Christmas letter… here are the bullet points of 2013:

The House

This might be the #1 biggest accomplishment for 2013… right up there with me using a pressure cooker without blowing myself up, and Jonathan discovering a new love for mayonnaise (we aim high around here). I have those “after” pictures of the house. I doubt they will make it into this post, but they will make it up eventually. They are trapped in my camera right now, crying for release. For now, let’s just say it is BEAUTIFUL.

The Employment

Jonathan is still the jack-of-all-trades (Jonathan-of-all-trades?) that he has been since we got hitched. He works more hours at the local Christian radio station now, and of course spends LOTS of hours pouring his heart out as youth pastor. As far as they let us know, the kids still like him, so he must be doing something right. He is a super good teacher, which also is why he’s excited about coaching a local school’s baseball team this spring, and tutoring one of our 5th grade friends in the fine art of mathematics. Good teachers are hard to find, and sometimes they are just as valuable OUTSIDE the classroom setting as in it, no?

I stayed on at the bank I work at, making it offically the longest I have ever stayed at one job (I’m not that much of a flake, I promise… I always ended up moving or starting school before spending a long time at any other job). I try to help out with the youth as much as I can, and since my strengths are DEFINITELY planning activities and organizing events rather than teaching or discipling, those things fall to me whenever I am able to muster up the time to do them. I’ve also been doing a lot of baking and a tiny bit of media work for the church.

blog6Dieting and Running and Mysterious Illnesses

We both actually did pretty well with a “be healthier” New Years Resolution. We ran our first two 5k’s, ate much healthier, and we both lost quite a bit of weight (yes, some of it has crept back on towards the end of the year, but we both feel much better and definitely can tell a difference in how our clothes fit from 365 days ago). Regardless, I spent most of the summer sick, and it took forever to figure out why.

First, I had some mysterious virus that wasn’t technically Mono but acted exactly like it. Naturally, I waited until it had almost cured itself to go to the doctor for it… but it was nice to know why I had been feeling like death for a few months. After that, I was still feeling sick to my stomach 90% of the time… and, after a self-diagnosis we figured out that I am now, mysteriously, intolerant of caffeine. After switching completely to decaf, I am like a new person… it only took two days to get over headaches and about a week to not get extra sleepy every afternoon. AND we figured it out about a week before I was scheduled to make a trip to a specialist… saving us a copay and myself a dreaded visit to yet another doctor. Hot dog!

Accomplishments We are Proud Of

blog5As mentioned before, Jonathan decided he likes mayonnaise. He perfected the art of grilling pizza. He painted all of the ceilings in our house, which took about a kabillion gallons of paint (just kidding, it took 13). He did a lot of skiing backwards when we were in Colorado in February. He started eating salad… often. He got a Red Robin Loyalty card, which gets us free food every now and then. He carried his iPhone along on our first 5k, which was a color run, and it didn’t get ruined. He bought a motorcycle. He didn’t have a heart attack after the Iron Bowl. He fearlessly led our youth group to camp, where we dominated in the homemade boat race with our Dragon Pool Noodle Viking Ship.

blog4I learned how to make yummy salads. I settled on paint colors for our house, after changing my mind only 17 times. I went snow-shoeing with my mother-in-law, got lost in the wilderness, and didn’t die. I completed almost half of a Sudoku puzzle book, in ink, and only totally messed up about 5 puzzles. There was the aforementioned pressure-cooker adventure (and now I have canned green beans!). I helped my mom bake 100 loaves of bread in one day. I’ve broken the power button on two iPhones… the first one got replaced, but I’m still waiting on the second. As I said before, I’ve lived almost four months now without caffeine.

The Puppy

Our family grew a little bit this winter, with the addition of Ramona the Chocolate Lab. She is an energetic ball of fur with one droopy eye that won’t develop properly. This means she has almost no peripheral vision on that side and she crashes into things sometimes. Not funny for her, hilarious for us.

blog3She is going to be an outside dog, but right now she’s tiny and it’s cold outside, so she spends nights and some parts of the day inside. She only recently learned to entertain herself in the yard, running through piles of leaves and destroying her little chewing rope. Before, she liked to stand at the gate and peer out through the cracks in the boards, or hang out under the dining room window and voice her displeasure at being left alone. Jonathan has her pretty well trained that when she is inside,

she stays in the mudroom. No crossing the line into the rest of the house, period. So, anytime she is in there, she gathers her towel (she has her own special blue towel to snuggle with), her bone, her teddy bear, and her rope, and lays right in the doorway, chewing or sleeping or pouting. She does whatever she can to be as close to us as she can get. Oh… and she uses her teddy bear for a pillow. Every time.

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The Ultrasound: What’s coming in 2014

Possibly the #1 greatest highlight of this year?

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Seeing this picture on a screen in a doctor’s office… and knowing that it’s going to be a baby soon!
Yup… our family is still growing. This ultrasound was taken in mid-November, so fingers crossed Peanut looks more like a baby and less like a blob by now.
To quickly answer the top “Oh my goodness you’re pregnant!” questions:
We are due July 3. I have been VERY sick, but thanks to some miracle medicine, I’m able to function. We do plan on finding out the gender, and yes, we’ll share it… but no names until baby is born. =) I’m craving orange juice and Thai spring rolls (which you can’t buy in our town, booo).

Here’s hoping you all have a fabulous 2014!

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When you have things to say but the game goes into extra innings…

It’s not that my husband is a bad listener.
It’s that I have a truly terrible sense of timing.

We He is watching baseball… it looks to me like BAL is playing NYY. (Baltimore and New York? Please don’t judge me for not being sure about which teams those actually are.)

I should, of course, know better than to launch into a story about the Thirty One party I just went to and all the stuff I wanted to buy (but didn’t, because I have incredible restraint) during the bottom of the ninth inning.

But, sadly, I have yet to learn my lesson and I did launch into that story. Jonathan calmly paused the TV and listened, eying the screen as the numbers in the corner told him how far behind he was getting in the game. Thank goodness for DVR and all that fancy stuff.
“There is this really pretty big bag that is big enough to pack clothes for an overnight trip but small enough that it COULD be a purse…”
(four minutes)
…”and I filled out a wishlist thing that she will have so IF you need Christmas ideas, you can ask her…”
(five minutes)
…”and ON the wishlist I put a star and an exclamation point beside what I REALLY REALLY want so you can be SURE to get the thing I REALLY REALLY want…”
(six minutes)
Suddenly, with no warning, the channel changed and instead of baseball players frozen on the screen, we were watching the vice presidential debate.
Jonathan’s jaw dropped. My jaw clamped shut.
“I was recording this! It changed the channel… I just missed six minutes of the game!” he said, trying very hard to be nice about it.
“I’m so sorry,” I said mournfully. “It was my fault, wasn’t it?” I asked, sure that he would assure me it really wasn’t.

“Yes.” he said. “It was your fault.”
I stared at him.
“REALLY?”
“Really.”
“Well-”
“Just… wait. Wait until a commercial break,” he said.

I waited. And while I waited, I put away groceries and stored up things in my head I needed to say.

As soon as the first commercial came on, Jonathan hit the mute button and signaled for me to speak.
“OKAY. These fingers on this hand hurt, but it doesn’t feel like my carpal tunnel in my other hand does so I’m afraid it’s arthritis but it really hurts so much I want to cry. And also today at work I was Googling hypoglycemia, and one of the results was Sudden Death from Hypoglycemia. And so I made a doctor’s appointment. And…”
But the commercial break was over, and so was my talking window. The TV volume turned up and I muted. We were now into the tenth inning of the game.

I began to store up more things to tell him.

More players came up to bat, and more players got out. Then, finally, there was another commercial break.

The mute button was hit. I started talking. I told him about some funny things that happened at work and about how I just lost my balance and fell over at the party and almost landed on someone and how it was really funny. Then the commercial break came to an end.

By the third commercial break, he started suggesting that I just type it all up and send it to him in an email.
I sighed, frustrated that anything would be more important than my very random, but oh so important, collection of stories and anecdotes and tales about hurting fingers.
“Is this the World Series?” I asked, only half-joking (maybe I should take some of my efforts to learn football and direct them toward baseball).
“No,” he told me, then used up my fourth commercial break to explain things about leagues and tournaments and playoffs and how teams get to the World Series (which is not yet happening).

By the fifth commercial break, I had many, many things built up to say, and some of them were very long stories, so I did not stop at the end of the break. I kept right on talking, into the eleventh inning and through the beginning of the twelfth. Jonathan seemed to understand that these were the most important stories of the bunch, so he kept the TV muted and let me use his ears while his eyes stayed on the TV. But that’s okay… he was listening. I know, because he responded.

I hate to see what will happen when I have things to say during the real World Series. I might need to stuff my mouth full of something, or install an actual mute button. Or leave the house and find someone else to listen to me.

Also… someone needs to get a home run, because this is the longest baseball game EVER and I think I’m on permanent mute to make up for that fifth-commercial break incident… and I still have more things to say.

EDIT: The original title of this post was, “When you have things to say but the game goes into extra overtime…” But my husband insistently and forcefully informed me that in baseball, overtime is NOT called overtime, but extra innings. In football, basketball, and other sports, it is overtime. But not in baseball. Why.

A shocking approach to bracketology.

Out of all the sports in the world, I probably know or care about basketball the least.
Well, that’s not all true. I know less about lacrosse and care less about golf.

What I do know is this: every year, something called “March Madness” happens. The finale of it actually occurs in April, which confounds me every time I think about it. There are a lot of basketball games involved, and people fill out brackets and then compare their brackets and then wig out when one team loses and ruins their bracket.

Last year, I dipped my toe into the bracket frenzy. I filled one out. And I did alright… all the way through the Sweet Sixteen, after which I got bored. Somewhere between the Final Four and the actual championship game, J sat me down and said, “we have to catch this up… now!” He then attacked my paper with a pen, drawing slashes through names and circling other ones like a madman. I sat beside him and smiled and nodded (as I do so often now when sports are involved), and then jumped up and went to do something more interesting.

This year, I decided that since our TV will be constantly turned to basketball games for the next couple of weeks, I might as well stick my whole foot into the water.
I would fill out a bracket, and put effort into it!

So, J printed our brackets out. He brought them home. We sat down at the kitchen table, and I began using my highly scientific approach to filling out my very own personal winning bracket.

“J, what is this team’s mascot?” I asked.
“Oh, that’s the Wichita State Shockers… playing the VCU Rams.”
“Shockers” was by far the coolest name. So they went on my bracket.

“J, where is Gonzaga?”
“On the west coast somewhere.”
Who cares? Gonzaga sounds like a far cooler place than West Virginia. They won, in my book.

I’ve been to Louisville, and I like it a lot. They definitely beat Davidson.
Marquette is a really cool name… it sounds like a really fancy dessert. I wrote them down.
Georgetown Hoyas? What on earth is a Hoya? I looked it up. Their mascot seems to be a bulldog. I pointed out how illogical this is.

“Well,” said J, “The Ole Miss Rebels have a bear for a mascot.”
“And the Alabama Crimson Tide has an elephant,” I reasoned.
“Exactly!” he said. “And they all have stories behind them, I’m sure. Except the rebel-bear thing. There’s not a story there. And Auburn has both an eagle and a tiger. I don’t know what’s going on with that.”

The Hoyas went on my bracket.

I worked my way through it steadily, asking J’s opinion occasionally on who he thought would win a match-up… so he could feel included, of course.

“You’re lucky,” he told me. “You can just fill out the bracket and not even care about who wins. You don’t know stuff about basketball already, so you don’t have any previous knowledge to affect your decisions. It’s much less stressful for you than it is for me.”

J has been updating me all day on how my bracket is looking so far. “You’re doing alright,” he told me. “But the rams beat your shockers.”
I was aghast. “Why didn’t they just shock them to death?” I asked. “That’s what I was counting on.”
He looked at me like I’d grown a third arm.

As of now, I have lost about 8 of my games. I don’t know if that’s good or bad… I don’t know which games they were, or when they were played today, or what the scores were. I do know that J said my bracket stinks… but he also said his bracket stinks. He may just be trying to psych me out… he can’t accept that I am far more knowledgeable about bracketology (I don’t care what dictionary.com says, bracketology is a word). I can’t blame him, really. It must be hard to have your thunder stolen out from under you like that.

*EDIT: J just informed me that I have actually only lost three games. My system has just proven even more effective than even I knew!

Touchdowns are sweeter with chocolate.

My Grandpa Miller used to say that the rules of football were simple: all the guys went out on the field, smelled each other’s butts, and then tackled whoever smelled the worst. (excuse my language).

I grew up in a bubble where football did not really exist. It was just a passing thought, and even that only when someone else mentioned it. I was vaguely aware that the game existed, that it was on TV every Fall, and that people held something called “Super Bowl Parties” once a year where you could see good TV commercials and eat lots of food.

And then I met Jonathan.

We met in a Public Speaking class, and one of his first speeches was about Alabama Football. You’d think I would have clued in then… he was a little bit passionate about it. As we got to be friends, I realized that he was VERY passionate about it.

And then we started dating.

And I realized that he was VERY, very, extraordinarily passionate about it. I watched a few games with him, trying very hard to understand. I would watch everyone around me and just get excited when they got excited, and get upset when they got upset. It was a decent strategy. Things were going pretty smoothly, until I committed the ultimate crime and fell asleep during the 2010 Iron Bowl. After that, it was go big or go home, and I had to start caring.

And then we got married.

And he wore a houndstooth vest for our wedding, and people shook Alabama pom-poms as we left and yelled “Roll Tide.”

And now I really know how deeply this passion runs.

The good thing about it is that he is very willing to teach me about it. I don’t like not understanding things- especially things that I am around a lot. J is very patient in explaining various aspects of the game to me. His dad once told me, “If you really want to learn the game, you have to listen to it on the radio. Once you can just hear the game and understand what’s going on, then you can really appreciate watching it.” So, I tried to take advantage of the many games we listened to on the radio while driving to Alaska. I asked a lot of questions, and got a lot of answers. I asked a lot of the same questions twice, actually… for some reason, I struggled with converting the new information into long-term memory.

When we first got up here, we spent several afternoons in the yard with a ball, acting out different plays so that I could understand them better (I am a very kinesthetic learner). We have spent evenings covering papers in x’s and o’s so that I could memorize different formations, and I have been quizzed extensively on the various positions. By now, I still know very little. But I DO know the difference between an “ace,” an “I,” and an “offset I” formation. I know that the “pocket” isn’t something on the quarterback’s pants. Also, I know that when the quarterback is in the “shotgun position,” it doesn’t mean he’s about to shoot someone, and a “blitz” doesn’t have anything to do with colorful, numbered playing cards (there’s the Mennonite in me!).

There is only one rule that prevails over this whole process: Do not ask questions during an Alabama football game.

I have just enough competitiveness in me that I can feel myself sinking into the mire of Crimson Tide Fan-dom… someone, save me please.
I still do not care enough to leap around the room and scream like a banshee, but I do squeak with excitement occasionally. At the very least, now I know WHEN to squeak with excitement.

So, that is why today I found myself leaving work early, coming home, and changing into my super warm pajama bottoms and my Alabama shirt (no, they do not match). I piled onto the couch with my yarn and crochet hook, a bowl of popcorn, and four Hershey’s Kisses. I settled in to watch the game, and I did just that… while J hopped around and yelled and said things that made perfect sense to him… but just sounded like a bunch of random words to me. Things like, “I would love for them to get Trent to do some runs and grab some strings along the bubble gum back space and put some new spheres with the drum!”
I smile and nod and say “me too!” and eat my popcorn.

Then, when we won, there was a lot of yelling and jumping around, and fist pumps and clapping and texting of other rabid Alabama fans. For Jonathan. I ate popcorn and finished a row on my Granny Stripes blanket. =)