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:

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.


*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.


Anna Grace

So… the best laid plans don’t always work out…

Yesterday morning when we woke up we had emails saying that Misty was at the hospital, and Anna was on the way.┬áThat afternoon J and I pulled up in the parking lot of a hotel in Watson Lake, YT. They had wifi, so we hooked up and called a couple members of J’s family for updates.

Anna Grace McMath was born yesterday morning between 10:00 and 10:30 a.m. She was 4 lbs, 11 oz, and from the picture we saw, she looked like her older sister, Abby. She was beautiful. She lived for a few hours, and it seems like the family was able to spend some really good time with her.

We hit the road hard, somehow thinking that if we drove faster we would be able to make it back in time for something. We canceled our hotel for that night in Ft. Nelson to one in Ft. St. John, adding about 3 1/2 hours to our trip in order to get just a little bit closer. We figured out that if we drove 15-16 hour days, we could be home by Saturday afternoon… but that is pretty much the earliest we could realistically make it.

This morning we learned that the funeral for Anna is going to be the end of this week, and there is just absolutely no possible way for us to make it. Quite frankly, the long days we’ve been doing aren’t safe to keep up… not in these conditions. The roads are pretty bad, they are randomly slick because of melting snow and ice, and, as strange as this sounds to us Alabamians… there are buffalo everywhere and they are hard to see at night in the middle of the highway.

So, for now (since our plans seem to change every single day, I think “for now” is a good disclaimer to use), our plan is to go back to our semi-original plan. We are going to slow down a bit and make the trip a little bit longer and safer. We should be home around April 3rd, still.

J and I definitely feel a big loss at not being able to meet Anna during the little window she was with us on earth. Members of the family keep referring to the book Heaven is For Real. The book circulated our ranks last summer, and there were a lot of laughs and tears as we all made our way through it. It’s definitely helping to give us all some kind of an image of Anna in heaven, with the other members of the family that are already there.

Please keep the whole family in your prayers, still.

A rapid change of plans.

A quick update on life:

Most of you know about J’s brother, Joey, and his wife, Misty. They are expecting a baby, but there have been some complications. You can read about it at Misty’s blog: It’s definitely worth reading, by the way. Misty is an absolutely fantastic writer, and you can not read it without crying… but don’t let that stop you from doing it!!

Anyway, it’s looking like Anna will be born soon… who knows how soon, but definitely soon. We felt a very strong need to at least try to be home by then… even if we can’t be, we wanted to do our best. So we made some very quick arrangements so that we could leave about a week early. We decided on Saturday to start working towards leaving, and Sunday morning (yesterday) we confirmed our decision. We spent all day yesterday packing and cleaning and such, and hit the road this morning at about 11:00 Glennallen time! Tonight we’re staying in Whitehorse, YT, Canada… and we should be back in sweet home Alabama by April 3rd!

So, please pray for safety for us… we are traveling through melty snow and slush and nastiness and stuff. And pray for Joey & Misty & Anna… and that if it’s God’s will, we’ll make it in time. Thanks!

(Almost) on the road again…

The countdown has begun!

17 days until we hit the road for Sweet Home Alabama… and something like 28 days until we get there. Not too bad, eh? (I’m practicing for the drive through Canada…)

For a while I thought I may have to pack some tissues to help pick up the pieces of my husband as we drove out of Glennallen… or at least a cooler of snow to help him feel better as we approached the south. He has gotten awfully attached to the stuff. But yesterday morning he woke up to a temperature of 28 below (“outrageous, temperatures like this in March!”), and then he had to drive to work in a freezing cold car. He was told tales of people wearing shorts and sweating in south Alabama… and suddenly, I think he will be just fine as we head that way.

Last week (or the week before that, I’m not really sure when), we sent a Really Big Box ahead of us. It weighs a lot, and it is rather large. Hopefully it will help our car have some extra wiggle room in it for the drive home… the journey up here was just a little cramped; enough to make any sane person want to live in the middle of an open field for about a week. The Really Big Box should make it to my parents’ house a couple weeks before us (I wrote a poem on the side for you guys!). Packing it up made me realize that we really are going back… really, for real! And then I realized that we will be leaving the perfect little house that we’ve been living in for our first six months of marriage, and I got a little sad.

But THEN, my father-in-law sent us a picture of our nephew with his cheesy little grin, and I decided that hanging out with him is much more important than this house.

Alabama, here we come!

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. =)