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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Summer Track Club

This summer Holden has participated in a local summer track club. We talked to him about the idea before signing him up. He loves to run and he loves to race other kids and play tag. So we thought it would be a fun summer outlet for him. In the past, when I've gone for an evening run, he always wants to tag along. He's a quick sprinter but runs out of steam, so Holden tagging along on a long distance run never goes so well for me. But he has run a mile with me a few times. Once he was barefoot because he just chased me out of the house a couple of years back. :)
So throughout this summer we have gone to 5 Saturday track meets in the DFW area with competitors all over the region. He started out competing in the high jump and long jump and several different sprints. He also ran on a 400meter relay for the first 4 meets. The first 4 track meets were sort of like practice. Every finisher received a ribbon of where they placed in their heat. The 5th track meet was the bigger regional meet where they were actually timed. The top 6 in each event made it to the state track meet. By the second track meet, a few coaches were telling Holden they were taking him to state. Maybe because almost every race he ran, he was placing 1st in his heat. It was exciting to watch. Holden is very competitive. He is driven fiercely by competition. And this is all very unfamiliar to me! But fortunately it is very familiar to his father. :) In some instances it's been a frustrating piece of his personality for me to live with. For years, I've been saying "it's not a race" "not everything is a competition" or "it doesn't matter who finished the math page first"!! But this summer, I've seen so much beauty in his great drive to excel above the rest. Since it's common and accepted to see this type of competitive nature in sports, it's helped me really understand the way he is wired. Even if that competitive nature comes out in areas where I don't find it helpful or it's downright frustrating.
I've seen so many runners this summer. And my Holden always has this look of determination. He doesn't slow down. He always digs down and finds a little more umph to pull ahead. Now, I don't mean that He has won every single race. But he has given it his all for every single race. He has his eyes on the prize and he pushes himself to the max. Clearly, God has gifted him with long, athletic legs, a talent for speed and a determined personality. So yesterday Holden competed in the TAAF (Texas Amateur Athletic Federation) state track meet. First of all, what an honor and accomplishment that he even made it this far. We thought racing other kids his age would be fun for him and cute to watch. We had no idea that an 8 year old could compete at the state level. We were so proud of him at his regional meet. At this particular meet, he had to narrow down his events to only 3. He chose all sprinting events since running is his favorite. He chose the 50 meter dash, 100 meter dash and the 200 meter dash. That day he ended up with 2 silver medals and 1 gold. This meant he would be competing at the state level in all of his events. He has worked hard this summer. And in this crazy Texas heat! He has consistently practiced with his track team for 2 hours on 2 nights each week. And we are not a family that gives away our week nights to sports. This has been a first for us...and a last for a while. Honestly, I'm glad the track practices are over. I think he is also. He prefers the meets over the practice. But the hard work and his natural raw talent has bode him well. Suddenly we have found ourselves on a weekend getaway minutes from the Mexico border to watch our boy participate in one final track meet. Yesterday he ran his 3 events...and once again he did really well! Overall, he placed in the top 8 for each event, meaning he will compete in the finals tomorrow. I have no expectations on how he will do in the competition. These boys are fast. And this is his first year in track. Some of these boys are in their third year. But goodness, what a blessing to be the momma on the sidelines screaming and cheering his name like a crazy woman! To see his face and the grit and the determination as he runs. It always overwhelms me with pride! I haven't figured out the why yet, but I think I get as nervous as he does before each race. Then my eyes brim with tears as soon as it's matter the outcome. Just watching him work so hard and doing something that he gets to me. I'm a weirdo. And below are a few pictures from our track season. I'm sure that I will have an update (+ more pictures) after he competes in the finals on Sunday and summer track club is officially over.
 1st track meet...this was after 2 practices. 4 first place ribbons and 1 second place.
And he was worn out by the time Jeremy loaded him up for home. This is my afternoon napper. :)
 Ready to race!
Mister Too-Tall, front and center
 At the regional meet Holden had a few extra cheerleaders - Papa J, Nana, Aunt Brandy and Zoey. It was hot. They were troopers!
 His gold was for the 200. And the silvers were for the 100 and 50.
Ben is a new friend he has made through the track club.
 And today! The heat was brutal. We are about as south Texas as you can go. I had checked and it was supposed to be 101 with 53% humidity. After 6 hours outside, it felt like all of those horrible things and more. At one point, I thought hell would be cooler.
He finished off his meet with a snowcone. He was excited to make it to the finals, but maybe even more excited to know he was about to get some swimming time at the hotel pool. His view of the future is very limited at this point. :) So we will swim our little hearts today and try to stay cool before he's off to the races one final time. Stay tuned.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Gulf Shores 2016 (Part 3)

Today is the final installment of summer vacation 2016. And honestly it is just more of the same. Mainly a bunch of beach pictures. Jeremy and I played hard with the boys and we did our fair share of relaxing. Because with 3 little boys and a beach full of sand, they definitely don't need us to entertain them. They also made friends, which meant we made friends too (that we'll probably never see again). Holden always makes us some friends when we go on vacation. :) It's one of my favorite pieces of his personality. And so very different than my own.
I attempted to make Pax into a sand merman. :)
 They love the sand.
 This boy's favorite view. 
 Our favorite dinner spot in the area, Cosmos.
My boys before a dinner out.
 A quick stop at the souvenir shop.
 We spent a few nights crab hunting on the beach. Such a fun and sweet memory. Holden was a pro. Pax was a little timid. And Abe really wanted to do it. His reflexes are not quite as fast as the crabs. But it was hilarious to listen to him squeal each time he saw one.
And a few pictures from our last day in the sand. 
Why is it so captivating?!
After I snapped this one of Holden, I walked over to him and just stood with him quietly as he looked out into the ocean. He knew it was our last day and it didn't take him long to break the silence with "can we come back next year?" Boy after my own heart. Vacation is ending and he starts thinking about the next.
This sweet, peaceful boy doing what he loves.
And then there's the words for this one except...goodness, the sand highlighting those crazy long eyelashes. I plan to find a place in our house for those last 4 pictures.
For weeks leading up to our trip, the forecast for the area was not looking great. It was saying we would have a couple of days without rain, but it would be a cloudy week and lots of rain. Each day we were there, the rain held off and the sun shone brightly. I would check my weather app on my my phone each day and it would be postponing the rain for another day. There was only one really windy day that was overcast and that was when we decided to go to the Alligator Farm. So the morning we were leaving to get on the road, the clouds released and all the rain came down. I said an extra thank you to God that he had given us a beautiful, sunny week. Just seeing all of these pictures again makes me happy and gives me a desire to hop in the car and go back. These beach vacations are a huge highlight for our family each year.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Gulf Shores 2016 (Part 2)

Something new we did on this vacation was visit Alligator Alley in Summerdale, Alabama. We bought a Groupon for it before we left home. The weather forecast for our trip was not looking favorable and we thought it would be a good non-beach day activity. It definitely was a good choice. I'm glad we decided to do this. Basically it was like a zoo for alligators. You toured the place at your own pace. They had the alligators divided up by size...from small babies to the big daddies. On this day, we learned that our boys would probably never survive Disney World because at this small park, we heard multiple complaints about how tired they were of walking.
Here we are at the entrance. The big boys are holding alligator food. No worries - they both shared with Abe. :)
 How could I resist these cute photo ops?!
 Pax was the first brave boy that wanted to hold the small gator. Notice his mouth is taped shut.
 But Abe couldn't wait to get his hands on it.
 And probably the most timid of the 3, but really, he didn't hesitate. He just wasn't jumping to hold it first.
See evidence of tired feet? I'm afraid by next year, Holden's toes will be dragging the ground. They for sure will be dragging if he is on my back. :)
 After feeding the gators all of our food, Pax wanted to empty out the crumbs into the gator area. Our famous last words were: Just don't drop the cups. We wanted to save them as souvenirs. Well, well, thing we knew an alligator had his entire set of chompers stuck inside our stack of cups. Oh well. At least we got to see this man wrestle him down for our cups.
 As we drove back through Gulf Shores to head back to our condo, we made a last minute decision to eat dinner at Lulu's. It's such a great family place. I've mentioned it on the blog the last two years. They have live music, tons of activities and a pretty great menu. But if you have children anything like mine, they leave filthy. Or in Abe's case this time, nearly naked. He was soaked with water and sand, so we stripped him down once we got to the car. 
While we waited on our food to arrive, the big boys got to do this. Which meant that they missed out on the sand and water play, so they stayed relatively clean. It was a full and fun day with a little break from the ocean.
One last vacation installment to come....