Thursday, June 22, 2017

Spring sports

June is almost over.

The boys last day of school is June 30.

And spring sports?  They just about blew up this tired mama's brain.

Quinn played t-ball with cousin Jack.  Ross was the coach.  He did a great job always trying really hard and I don't think he ever had to use the tee, always hitting one of his dad's pitches.  I was very proud of him, even though he called every game "soccer practice" all season.

Wyatt played soccer on a team with a bunch of friends from school.  He had fun and played especially hard when grandma or grandpa were there to watch him.   He also played kid pitch baseball and it was mostly a disaster.  His team was very small (in stature and skill), very young, and he had a first time coach - recipe for...very LONG baseball games.  Add in all the spring rain-outs, it felt like the season was never. going. to. end.  Oh, and he pitched many innings in many games.  He did his best, and I'm proud of him for that, but this child of mine maybe isn't destined to be a pitcher.

Baseball did, in-spite of everything, end on a win.  The second win of the season.  Want to know something good about being on the bad news bears?  No post season tournaments.

Elliott played spring soccer.  He seemed to be the glue that held his team together, most games only sitting at half-time.  His team had its struggles in the spring, losing two players and their dads who were the assistant coaches.  I'm not sure what happened there, but it's hard to win games when you lose kids from the team and the majority of the rest of the team doesn't come to practice.  But, they ended strong and Elliott did a great job.

I tell my boys the exact same thing before every single game:  win or lose, you need to be able to walk off the field knowing that you did your best.  Elliott has figured this out.  Wyatt, well Wyatt is still working on it.

And, it is indicative of the craziness of spring sports that I failed to take any pictures of Elliott playing soccer; took my nice camera to Wyatt's last baseball game to take pictures and realized when I got there that I left the memory card at home; and managed to get a few pictures of Quinn at one of his last games.

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Now - with summer here officially (summer solstice yesterday) we are knee deep in soccer.  Elliott and Wyatt are both on competitive soccer teams for USA (Utah Soccer Association) soccer.  I'm finally getting over the amount of money we've paid for the boys to play - and now I need to get over the summer practice and tournament schedule.

Good thing I like these kids.  A lot!


Thursday, May 18, 2017

The passing of Aunt LeeAnn

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On May 11, my Aunt LeeAnn passed away.  She had fought a tough battle against a terminal cancer called multiple myeloma.  It is a bone marrow cancer that was super aggressive and after 18 months, multiple different forms of chemotherapy, and a stem cell transplant, she passed away on May 11th.

The few weeks before her death and the week after were really sad and exhausting, and I'm not even her immediate family.  She seemed to get really sick, really quickly and her death was sudden.  Lots of tears have been shed over the last couple of weeks.

Her funeral however, was a very touching and beautiful service.  Two of her children (Matt and Jodi) and my Aunt Karen spoke and Melanie played a piano piece.  Matt, her youngest son, gave the most eloquent and emotional tribute to his mom.  His words were inspired and I was so moved and touched by the beautiful things he said about his mom, and the testimony he bore at the end of his talk.  I've been thinking about his words quite a bit since the funeral, and I hope that if my sons' were ever tasked with speaking at my funeral, they would give half as kind of a tribute.

Ross and I talk a lot about aging, we are at the point where it really is "weddings and funerals" that bring people together.  It's sad to think about, so I try not to think about it too much, but I am so grateful for my faith and belief that I will see family members again, and will get to participate in the most beautiful heavenly reunions one day.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Birthday, Baptism Bonanza Weekend

Phew!

The weekend of Wyatt's birthday party was exhausting, I tell you what.  But, it was fun and worth it.

Ross parents arrived on Wednesday night for the week.  The big boys were off-track and ready to party.

Friday was Wyatt's birthday.  In our family, you get a friend birthday party when you turn eight, and Wyatt chose to invite a few of his good friends to "Bricks and MiniFigs" a cool lego shop by our house that hosts birthday parties.  The kids got to build legos, build lego race cars and race them down a track, and then build a mini figure to take home.  We had juice boxes and doughnuts and right at the end of the party, after all the Lego building was over, our Arizona cousins, Isaac, Luke and Jonah arrived with their mom from Arizona.

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After the party we went to the food trucks at Petersen farm for dinner and nearly blew away in the wind, but the food was good.  Friday night was Wyatt's family party.  Wyatt got more lego's for his birthday than I thought was possible.  He wanted to build them all immediately, but luckily we were able to space them out a bit.

On Saturday morning, Wyatt was baptized.  There was some confusion with the stake baptism, but we ended up having a really nice program for Wyatt.  Elliott gave the baptism talk, Aunt Cindy the Holy Ghost talk, and Wyatt was swiftly shoved under water and baptized and confirmed by his dad.  This was the first time all the Howden cousins had been together since Elliott's baptism two years prior.  Hopefully it won't be another two years before we get together again.

We finished Saturday with a really great soccer game for Elliott, one where they actually WON (Woo Hoo!) and had a bbq at our house in the evening.

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Sunday, church and Mother's Day.  Ross' brother's family had to travel back home but we hosted his parents and my family for a delicious dinner of prime rib, scalloped potatoes and a bunch of other stuff.  By Sunday night, I was exhausted but it was a really nice weekend.

Friday, May 12, 2017

It's great to be EIGHT! Happy Birthday, Wyatt!

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Happy Happy Birthday, William Wyatt Howden.

Can you believe you are EIGHT YEARS OLD!  I can hardly believe it.

Second grade is almost over.  You are great at math and have had almost perfect spelling tests all year long.  You can figure out how to spell words you don't even know.  And, you can calculate change in your head which is something I cannot even figure out - unless it's really easy math.

The last year of your life has seen you become a greater lego master, artist, and dancer.  I've been able to help out at school a couple of times and you have some of the cutest friends.  Mason, Wilson, Andrew and Cooper, Ronan, and Ethan just to name a few.  Before Christmas when I was doing a Fun Friday at school, Ronan told me I was the tallest mom in the world.  I'm probably not, but it made me laugh.

You play basketball, soccer and this year baseball, even though you've decided to skip baseball next season for competitive soccer.  It's fun to watch you "turn it on" in a game, especially when you've spent a little too much time cherry picking.  When you want to hustle, you can zoom.  You are pretty good all around athlete, and I'm pretty sure you get it from me.  Ha!

You've started to read Harry Potter and have almost finished the first book.  You have a photographic memory for music, and after only hearing a song once, you remember the lyrics forever.

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I'll admit, year seven was a pretty moody one, but I'm hoping that eight years old see's you like me, your dad, and your brother's a little bit more. I'm pretty sure Grandma and Willie are your favorite people and if I'd let you, you would just watch TV and play on your ipod all day long.  You still know everything and always manage to see on the bright side of life.  You wear your heart on your sleeve, and mom and dad are usually pretty sure of your emotional state.  Like dad, you are an early riser finding it nearly impossible to sleep in.

It's pretty rare when you and I get to spend time together, just one-on-one, but when we get the chance, it's so much fun.  You are a great conversationalist, and are never at a loss for words, stories, or telling me when I've done something wrong.

Turning eight will be the greatest.  You get to be baptized, have a friend birthday party, and start cub scouts.  Woo hoo!

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Have a happy birthday boy.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Because April is almost over

Blogging isn't what it used to be.

I'm not sure if it's because we are busier, or there is just too much going on to document, or because my interests have moved on to other forms of memory preservation, but blogging just isn't as much of a priority.

That being said, we've got a lot going on.

Wyatt turns 8 in a few weeks.  He is playing baseball and doing a lot of pitching,  and soccer and is halfway through his first Harry Potter book.  He is a good boy with a big heart and pretty much gets 100% on every single school assignment he completes, including weekly spelling tests.  He's pretty smart this kid.

Quinn has been sick this week.  First ever puking stomach bug, which for an almost 5 year old is a pretty good stretch.  He loves school and the warmer weather because it means he can jump on the trampoline.  He was outside so much on Saturday he got a sunburn.  He is playing t-ball with Jack and although he's only had one game, he says he likes it.

Elliott is wrapping up band for the school year this week with a final concert on Thursday night.  He loves band and does a great job.  He is still playing on his competitive soccer team, though right now they are the bad news bears of soccer - but without a major turnaround insight.  We've got some major soccer soul searching to do in the next few weeks.  Elliott is a nice boy, a good brother, and though he had a conflict and couldn't attend, was invited to his first birthday party for a girl.

Aunt Christina and cousin Isaac came to Utah for general conference and we were able to take them out to dinner.  Over spring break we, with the rest of Utah, went to the broadway performance of The Lion King at the new Eccles Theater.  It was fabulous by the way and the boys, particularly Wyatt, were just enthralled by the whole thing.

We celebrated Easter with shaving cream dyed eggs and talks in sacrament meeting.  Ross and I "celebrated" our anniversary with me having a gigantic freak out meltdown and ruining the whole day.  We have lots of homework, school projects, practices and games, meetings and church responsibilities sucking up all our time.

But, we like each other and look forward to Sunday dinner at grandma's house every single week.


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Friday, March 03, 2017

Random thoughts from a four year old

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Quinn says some funny things.  He's probably the funniest person in our family.  Here are a few of the things he's said this week that were pretty amusing.

At bedtime:
"Dad, when guys sing songs sometimes they say 'baby', but they mean girl."



In the car:
"Mom, why do some boys and girls kiss each other on the mouth?"
"Mom, have you ever kissed dad?
"Why would you kiss dad, he has the stinkiest farts in the whole world!"



In the bathtub:
"Mom, which animal is bigger an indominous rex or a blue whale?"
"Which animal is bigger, a blue whale or a mosasaur?"

Thursday, March 02, 2017

#MaximizeCaliforniaTime

My brother wanted to go to a wedding in Temecula, California, of a sister missionary he had served with in Lithuania.  I wanted a day or too off, with only myself to worry about.  (Selfish?  Yes!  But I'll deal with the guilt of that later.)  The two of us decided to make a mini vacation of it and spend the weekend in Southern California.  We invited our sister, but she couldn't make it.

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The plan was simple.  Fly to California, drive the PCH from Long Beach to Oceanside stopping at every single beach along the way, and then drive back to Long Beach and fly home.

Our Saturday morning flight had us on the ground in California at 7:30 am.  Yes, you can do the math on that one, but it meant I had to get up at 3:30 in the morning.  I don't have hungry babies anymore, so that early of a morning, something I haven't done willingly for years was a bit of a killer.  But, it meant we could maximize our time in the sunshine.

We arrived, had breakfast at our favorite place, The Sugar Shack Cafe, in Huntington Beach and then we hit the coast.  We were at Huntington all alone, minus a few surfers.  We played in the tide pools at Laguna Beach and ate a delicious, yet greasy and stomach unsettling burger in Oceanside.

The drive to the wedding was dark and winding.  We spent a total of 5 minutes at the reception - typical Mormon thing if you get my drift - and then drove back to Oceanside to sleep harder and deeper on a hotel bed than I've ever slept maybe in my life.  And, I'm a professional sleeper.

The next morning, Sunday, we toured Oceanside.  There wasn't much to see if you get rid of the grime and the homeless folks on every corner.  But, the pier was cool - pelican unafraid of humans and wooden planks, and the California Surfer museum, though small, was packed full of useful and interesting surfing information.  A topic I know nothing about.

The Oceanside beach is small.  At Dana Point, we watched a surf competition in the rain, and got drenched ourselves.  Walking up a steep hill, in a minor downpour, on a cold and blustery morning with sandy feet isn't my favorite way to travel.

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Once we got back to Laguna Beach for lunch, the rain was making way for a perfectly beachy California afternoon.  We decided to spend a good part of our Sunday at the church of Crystal Cove beach, tucked away from most tourists, noise, and worldly chaos.  The beach is such a fantastic and magical and marvelous place sometimes.  I lost my brother, but I was perfectly content sitting in the silence, soaking up the waves and the sunshine.  A perfect revival for a tired soul.

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We drove past the Newport Temple and scared a trespasser, watching him take a flying leap into some shrubbery.  Instead of heading up the coast for one more beach, Seal Beach, we decided to watch the sun set behind the waves at our beloved Huntington Beach.  The Sunday drum circle was pounding away, the crowd was happy, the surf appeared to be good, and the sky was a bright orange as we walked out to Ruby's Diner, got a malt to split and walked back down the pier.

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One of the faster weekends of my life, but a memorable one.

Thanks Willie for the invitation.

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Travel, Griswold style

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No trip in our family is complete without a few hiccups along the way.  Usually, those hiccups are caused by me, and relate directly to me, but sometimes other things happen that make us laugh, or panic, or both.

Here is a run down of the Arizona trip "highlights".

Leaving dinner on Friday night Quinn fell off of a very tall curb and skinned his knee up pretty bad.  He cried so hard that once Ross got him in the car, he was so worn out he fell asleep in about 30 seconds.  It was a pretty bad crash.

On Saturday morning, it was raining pretty hard.  We'd planned to go to the zoo, but the rain made us second guess ourselves and we decided to go to a small aquarium in the mall.  It opened at 10 am, we stood in a long line and once we got to the front, realized that the line was for people who had passes or who had already purchased tickets.  Doh!  Of course, there were no signs indicating differences in the lines, and, once we got to the back of the "need tickets" line we decided to give up and just go to the zoo in the rain.

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Lucky for us, the 2 hours we were at the zoo, it didn't rain.  I still spent $12 on ponchos for the kids, but no rain.  We did however have a couple of adventures at the zoo.  Adventure 1: we were chased by a very fast, very vocal, very crazy road runner.  It was roaming free in it's enclosure and it gave us a run for our money, and plenty of giggles.  Adventure 2:  My blood sugar started to drop pretty rapidly when we were about finished - joy of diabetes - and just as I put a glucose table in my mouth, Wyatt came around the corner, excited to tell me there was a whole cage of Scarlet Ibis - my favorite bird.  Well, in my attempt to be excited about the birds, I inhaled my chalky tropical fruit glucose tablet and it got stuck in my throat.  I could not breath.  I was chocking.  For a good 30 seconds, I thought that I might suffocate and die.  Once I could breathe again, my throat was on fire and hurt for the rest of the day.

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Saturday night we had tickets for the Arizona Coyotes NHL hockey game against the San Jose Sharks.  The game was supposed to start at 6 pm, but the first 10,000 people were going to get a FREE bobble head of a former player because the team was celebrating it's 20th anniversary.  We arrived one hour early, to get our FREE bobble heads and then had to sit there, with the five other people who came early for an hour before the game was going to start.  The big boys really liked the hockey game, but Quinn?  We were there so early that he fell asleep right after the National Anthem and slept almost through the first halftime.  By the way, hockey games take forever.  Ross said they were fast, they are not fast.  20 minutes of play, 20 minutes of half time, 20 minutes of play, 18 minutes of half time, 20 minutes of play.  We didn't make it for the last 20 minutes because, hello!  We arrived so early.  But, it was still fun.

On Sunday, we drove up north to the towns of Cottonwood and Prescott Valley.  Driving to Ross' parents house in PV, we were following a route outlined by google maps.  Well, that route came to a dirt road.  We paused momentarily to see if Google was serious.  She was. (can google be a girl?)  I told Ross that I thought it was a bad idea to drive on a very wet and very muddy dirt road.  He, being the man, told me we would be fine.  We maybe drove a quarter of a mile before it got really wet.  I began to plead for us to turn around.  We continued a bit more until - yes, you guessed it -we were halfway in a muddy ditch.  Yeah!  I felt justified in my "I told you so moment" but that didn't change the fact that we were stuck in the mud.

Ross got out of the rented mini van.  I climbed over to the driver's seat.  He pushed.  I floored it.  After a few intense minutes, and let's face it, many silent prayers on my part, we got out of the ditch.  But then, because I was driving, I had to do a u turn, on the slippery muddy road and drive us off that road.  Where was Ross you ask?  Well, his head, arms, and torso were inside the van.  His butt, legs and lower half were hanging out the window.  He was a wee bit muddy once we got back to the road and switched seats.  Sometimes, Google leads you astray.

The biggest screw up however was on my part.  Sunday night, while eating dinner with Ross' parents, I realized that I'd left ALL MY INSULIN in the fridge in our airbnb apartment in Phoenix.  Swear words!  I had 60 units left in my pump, enough to get me until the morning and I was panicking.  Everyone was calling or texting people who could either write me an emergency prescription or help me solve the problem.  Finally, Ross was able to talk to the small town PV Walgreens pharmacist and he was sure that they could get my prescription transferred in the morning so I could get enough insulin to get home.

It was.

I did.

The end.


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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Driving, Driving, Driving

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Last night we returned from a whirlwind adventure to Arizona.  We went intending to spend all of our time in Phoenix and to visit as many members of Ross' family as we could.  But, plans changed, and we ended up, in 5 and a half days putting almost 2000 miles on a rented mini van, driving all over creation.

Ross' grandpa, Grandpa Ted, at 86 years old chose to get baptized as a member of the the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  He was baptized the first Saturday of the new year, January 7, 2017.  Because of Ross' work commitments, we were not able to get to Arizona for the event, but started planning a trip to Phoenix to visit Ted and Grandma Bea.

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Well, on January 24th (or 23rd), Grandpa Ted fell during a trip to the library and broke his hip.   He was treated at a hospital in Phoenix and stabilized and then it was decided the best place for him to be for rehabilitation was in a town called Cottonwood, in Northern Arizona, where Ross' uncle and aunt (Ben and Joyce) live.  Cottonwood is about an hour away from where Ross' parents live in a town called Prescott Valley.

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Knowing that visiting Bea and Ted was our number one goal, but not wanting to be in Northern Arizona for our entire trip (warmer and more things to do in Phoenix), we started planning.

Drive to Springdale, Utah on Thursday.
Drive through Zion's National Park, Kanab, Page, Cameron, Flagstaff and get to Phoenix.
Spend Friday in Phoenix - go to the zoo and a Coyotes NHL game.
Drive to Cottonwood then Prescott Valley on Sunday.
Drive back to Springdale on Monday.
Visit and do some easy hikes in Zion's National Park on Tuesday and drive home.

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We had bad weather most of the trip, and pouring rain on Phoenix which was a super bummer.  The rain did stop long enough for us to go to the zoo, but we were soggy and cold for most of the day.  Our visit with Ross' grandparents was nice, and I'm very happy we were able to see them.  The boys were so well behaved and good - sometimes visiting old folks is hard for young folks, but they were champions.  Elliott even pushed Grandpa Ted around in his wheelchair which I think they both got a kick out of.

But, with every trip, I'm ready to come home about a day and a half before it's time and nothing beats being able to sleep in my own bed.


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Monday, January 23, 2017

10 years old!

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Happy Birthday, Elliott.

Today, you turned ten years old.  One whole decade under your belt.  It feels so old to me, you being ten.  It also makes me feel old, especially because I'm fast approaching the end of my third decade.

A couple weeks ago, on the short drive home from church, we were talking about food, as we are apt to do.  I told you that Sunday dinner at Grandma's was going to be a pot-luck affair, and that we were in charge of the potatoes.

"What kind of potatoes are we going to make?"  you asked.

"The yummy scalloped ones," I replied.

"Can I help?"

"Yes, you can help, but dad's doing the potatoes, all I'm doing is sauteing the leeks?"

"Oh.  Okay.  I love to saute!" you said with a grin.

Some days, it feels like you are twenty, not ten.  I mean, how many ten years old's regularly saute?You listen to adult conversations, have opinions about grown-up matters, and really try hard to follow the conversation at the grown up table at Sunday dinner.

You have a strange sense of humor, and are the funniest person you know.  You are the most helpful ten year old around, helping even if you don't want to.   You help around the house, clean toilets, take good care of  your brothers, and like to sit by me at church.

Sometimes, your emotions get the better of you...you've always had a problem with losing to your brothers in general, and losing to your dad at anything.  As you are maturing though, those fits of rage are fewer and further between.  You are however, a bad looker, regularly losing things that should be lost like shin guards, i pods, church shoes and your favorite books.  In fact, dad and I have started charging you big bucks ($5) to find your lost items. We usually find them in minutes, and handing over that money just about kills you.  It's hard to watch you struggle sometimes with stuff, and friends that have stuff you don't (or newer versions of things), and your desire to always fit in.  But, you are kind and well liked by everyone, especially Sister Lonni across the street.  I think she's got a crush on you and for all that good behavior, the occasional freak out is acceptable.

Reading though - reading has become one of, if not, your more favorite past times.  During a Grandma Camp adventure to Barnes and Noble in the summer, you picked up the first of the Harry Potter books, and proceed to NOT read it for a month or so.  Then, on a summer day in August, as "punishment" for a violent three-way brother brawl, you were banished to your room with said book for quiet reading time, and weren't allowed to come out until you had read the first chapter and could tell me everything that happened.  Well, an hour later you emerged, with the book a quarter of the way done and you haven't looked back.  We've been borrowing books from Aunt Karen, but you got your own full set for Christmas (and a H.P. Griffendor scarf for your birthday) and are currently on book five, which is nearly 900 pages.  I am beyond impressed that you are knocking out such a lengthy read.  When we watch the movies you curl up in a ball on the couch and just smile (even though the films are creepy and spooky).  You've managed to get Quinn obsessed with the Potter kid, too and it's fun to see him make fun of you and say you like Hufflepuff.

You excel in band and soccer.  You have become the Dennis Rodman rebounding machine of 4th grade Junior Jazz.  With Dad and Coach Karl at the helm, so far your team is undefeated with just a few games to go in the season.  It's so fun to watch you play your favorite sports, but let's face it, I'm partial to basketball and this year, it's really gotten fun to watch.

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I love that dad and I can pretty much always count on you to be even tempered, happy to help, and generous with your time and talents, especially to your brothers.  It makes me so happy to see you lead and guide Wyatt and Quinn, even though I know that you don't know that's what you are doing.

Ug, you are just a good kid.

I'm glad we're friends.

Love,
Mom


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

New Year, new season

Basketball is in full swing at our house.  University of Utah games and Elliott and Wyatt are both playing junior jazz this year.  Both boys are having excellent seasons. Ross is coaching both boys teams and Coach Karl is helping out with Elliott's.

Wyatt is still playing in the "developmental" league, so no real practices until next season.  No score board, either.  But, the kids do a pretty good job of keeping score all on their own.  Wyatt's team is pretty good and he has managed to score during every single game.  And, he looks good.  He always makes sure that from head to toe - hair to shoes, he is on fleek.  (Is "On Fleek" still a thing?)

Elliott's team is doing great this year.  So far, they are undefeated in their league, and seem to be the team to beat.  Uncle Willie gave him some Dennis Rodman socks for Christmas and they seem to be bringing him a lot of luck.  He has become a rebounding machine and not a single kid that defends him knows how to stop someone who shoots a left handed lay-up.  One game before Christmas was pretty intense and Coach Karl yelled at the opposing coach, "Shut up, Dude!" but otherwise, good sportsmanship abounds.

It's fun to watch the boys play every Saturday and I am one mama who is very happy her boys LOVE basketball!


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