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Adventures in Germany

Football. Is. Over. Hallelujah! My boy is sad. He absolutely loved being on a team. He loved playing every day. He loved games. He worked hard & became an amazing football player in a few short months. Look, I have proof! At his last game he always had two, even three, guys on him (that’s him, #69, in the black/white/gold). That’s what a threat he became on the football field.

At home he became gentler, a bigger helper and more of a man. All I want is for him to stop that! Stop getting bigger. Stop growing-up. Stay my sweet little boy, stay home. Don’t leave.

Every year for Christmas my mother would start off the feeding frenzy with cream cheese smothered in red & green jalapeno jellies. It was one of my favorite traditions, and one I carried over to my kids. Until Germany.

In Germany I could not find jalapeno jelly. I searched high, low, in local stores, in the commissary, in every country we drove through. No jalapeno jelly. For five years we have been jalapeno jelly-less. Until yesterday.

Last week, while quilting up a storm of Christmas presents with my beautiful friend Sarah, we discussed Thanksgiving menu’s. And I professed my deep sadness at no jalapeno jelly. Sarah thinks I’m great. She thinks I can do anything. She just looked at me quizically and said:

“Why aren’t you making your own? You make every other kind of jelly.” This is true! I do jelly! It is sooooooooo easy here in Germany. You buy a baggy of this magic stuff (I believe it’s sugar & gelatin mix, but what do I really know?), boil your fruit on the stove, toss in the magic stuff, boil 4 minutes more, ladel into jars. Jelly!

So yesterday I boiled my peppers (bell peppers & jalapeno peppers), with a little apple cider for juice, tossed in a baggy of the magic stuff and… JALAPENO JELLY PEOPLE!

I almost burst with anticipation waiting for Dave & Cole to come home and try my jalapeno jelly. Cole came in first, all puppy dog sad, it was the very first day with no football whatsoever, saw the jelly on the counter, tried it, and lit up like a Christmas tree:

“Mom! You did it! This is soooooooo awesome! Teach me! Teach me! I gotta make this for my kids!”

See? That beautiful, big, ray of sunshine has to stop growing up & stay little.
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I have found my camera battery (Hot & Smokey)!  Thank you for all the kind notes of understanding & suggestions for places to look.  One of you may very well have been right, but Dave found it. Not me.  I have no idea where & he’s not telling.

As soon as my girl friend heard the news she begged me for a favor.  Would I please take Fall photo’s of her kids.  Like I did last year of mine (Fall Family Picture Day).  I readily agreed because: 1) I needed a break; 2) my kids needed new photo’s too; 3) it was the last day of good weather; 4) I had my camera battery!

Sunday afternoon, a good hour before “golden hour”, we bullied our kids out of the house and into the woods.  Her kids were mad at her, my kids were mad at me, we just swapped kids and everyone was happy.  All of the kids wanted their photo’s taken.  All. Of. Them.

There was fighting amongst the five of whose turn it was. I cannot tell you how many blurry photo’s are on my camera of kids jumping around, pushing each other, making bunny ears & being over all goofy.  I can tell you it’s over a hundred. I’m not kidding.

The thing is, with the amazing light, our gorgeous woods, and cooperative kids (5!) I got beautiful photo’s of each & every one of them. More than one of each of them (except Dane, he was cooperative but wriggly, my camera hates wriggly).  I am having the hardest time picking just one to blow up & put on canvas.  My girl friend is having an even harder time, I got good shots of not only each kid but also both of them together.

I treasure the ones of Cole the most.  He rarely cooperates: “Mom! Stahp!” is much more common.  This time, he cooperated to the point of camera hogging.  They are almost all serious, he wanted dramatic and serious, and with his guitar.

The best part?  When he took out the guitar and played while the rest of the crew posed. Being serenaded in the woods is one of my top five happy moments.

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Football (Football Mom, Friday Night Lights, Football is a way of Life).  Football is taking up all my free time. The request for volunteers pour in on a daily basis. I had NO idea anything could be more intense than being a soccer mom.  Now I know.

The awesome part, well parts, is that we are building an all-new friendship circle and family. Even awesomer is that Cole absolutely loves it & is shining.  He is a new, much-less-surly, loveable, but smelly, boy.  Manboy.  He is huge!  Even without all that padding. Not that the padding is working 100%.

Saturdays game was a tough one. The opposing team traveled all the way from our base in Lakenheath,England, that’s 18 hours on a bus! Those poor boys could barely keep their eyes open at the team dinner Friday night.  Thankfully they seemed much more rested for the game.

Cole played first string that day.  First string varsity! I’m impressed, he may be a Junior but it’s also his first year playing football.  Cole was ecstatic.  He got to be in for every defensive play.  And he did good.  Maybe a little too good.

Near the end of the game Cole tackled a Lakenheath player, a good, clean tackle, but the other boy landed on top of one of our guys.  Just the wrong way.  The field was immediately quiet as coaches from both teams ran to his aid.  The football players on both teams took a knee and watched anxiously. Usually, after a minute or two, the injured player gets up and resumes play… or worst case scenario, hobbles back to the bench.  Not this time.

This time the on-scene krankenwagen (ambulance) was called in and we all held our breaths as they administered first aid.  Pretty soon it was obvious the boy was not getting up.  Fairly soon after that, his leg was splinted and the gurney brought out to the field.  My heart sank.

Thankfully the boy was moving & gave a wave as they wheeled him away.  Shortly thereafter play resumed as well.  Shortly after that Cole took a helmet hit to the thigh & hobbled off the field himself.

Happily, Cole was okay.  In fact, with his adrenaline pumping he was okay enough to go back in and join in the last handfuls of play.  The Panthers winning easily.

Cole & I checked with the Lakenheath team to find which hospital the injured player was in (the Stuttgart area has five different hospitals, each with their own strengths, people are taken to the best-for-their-injury hospital not the nearest one).  We know how terrible German hospital food is, and we wanted to bring him dinner and our apologies. It was a clean hit, but it never feels good to land someone in the hospital.  Luckily, he was being discharged with a bad sprain!

Still, his leg can’t have felt good.  His injury required a hospital trip. Cole came home with us, but after sitting in the car he had a very hard time standing on his leg and bearing any weight.  That boy is too big to carry!  Of course he asked, he even tried to hop on my back.  Like I can piggyback a moose!

Thank God for Dane. Dane ran and got a wheelchair and joyfully, erratically, wheeled Cole around the store.  I’m not sure who giggled more, Cole, Dane or all the people we passed.

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