Monday, April 27, 2015

MY HUBBY'S NFL DRAFT DAY EXPERIENCE

From an overall national perspective, one might think that the Super Bowl is the NFL’s everything.

But to the NFL (and its die-hard fanatics) the big dance is really the NFL draft.

It is officially known as the NFL Annual Player Selection Meeting, and it's a pretty big deal because moves are made, teams are built, and dreams are realized.

Seemingly with one phone call.

Quite simply, lives change.

And, yeah, money’s got a lot to do with it.

But it’s more than that.

Imagine if your heart’s – no, life’s – desire was to do a particular thing, something that less than 1% of the American population got to experience. And imagine if you were chosen.

There is a tremendous amount of passion here. And responsibility. And expectation. And, of course, pressure.

Scott was selected by the Detroit Lions in the fifth round of the 1991 NFL draft. He was 118th out of a total of 334 players drafted that year. He went on to experience a six-year career in the NFL, playing exclusively for the Detroit Lions and blocking for Hall of fame Running back Barry Sanders.

And while Scott is actually the first member of his family to make it to the NFL, he wasn’t the last: His first cousin, Frank Conover, was also drafted to the NFL (Cleveland Browns) in the eighth round of the very same draft. But more on that in a minute.


Here's exactly what happened that day, straight from my husband's mouth:


1.     In the countless conversations we’ve had about the NFL draft, you say that you didn’t expect to be drafted. But you had to have had some idea that this was coming
No, I really didn’t. You can’t assume anything. I did have an agent, and I worked out at the NFL Combine – and I also completed a work-out in front of 18-20 teams. But you never know.

2.     Briefly explain the NFL Combine.
It’s like an audition that’s sponsored by the NFL and held a few months before the draft. Only 1,500 players total are invited to attend.

3.     Most people first became aware of sports agents through the film Jerry McGuire, but can you further explain the role an agent plays in the draft? Also, how did you find your agent?
My agent found me, so I didn’t have to look for one. An agent showcases a player in the same way that an agent would help actors, models, and writers get work. They get your resume in front NFL team scouts and coaches.

4.     Take me back to the day of the draft. What did you do? What was going through your head?
I sat in the living room with my family and friends, uncertain and anxious, and watched the draft in real time on television. My agent informed me that the Cleveland Browns had the first pick in the second round of the draft, and they were eying me and two other players. That’s when I got my hopes up. Even though that didn’t materialize, I remained hopeful because my agent told me that the way the draft was shaking out, I could expect to be drafted between the third and fifth rounds. So I detached myself from the draft until the third round. But because the 1991 draft was running so long, it ended for the day at the end of the third round. And I still wasn’t drafted.

5.     And what happened then?
I got up that morning because I had to get ready to catch a flight back to Purdue University (in Indiana). I was sitting at the kitchen table, eating a bowl of cereal when the phone rang. I wasn’t even thinking that the call could be for me – it caught me completely off guard. At this point in the draft, it was no longer televised. I was still half asleep. My mom hands me the phone, and it was a coach from the Detroit Lions. 

6.     How did that conversation go?
He introduced himself and told me that they had the seventh pick in the fifth round and they were going to make me their selection. Then they put me on hold for a couple of minutes. When they returned, they informed me that they had made it official and welcomed me to the Detroit Lions family.

7.     Your life changed with that phone call. When did it all sink in?
It really sank in when I flew out to the Lions training facility the next week to participate in mini-camp. They picked me up in a limo and drove me to the Pontiac Silverdome, where the Lions practiced and played at the time. Head coach Wayne Fontes and his staff greeted me at the door. And then I went into the locker room to find a locker with my name on it. I thought to myself, Damn. This is real.

8.     How cool was it to have your closest cousin play in the NFL with you? How did you guys keep from being too competitive with each other?
It was easy: We played two different positions, in different NFL conferences, and never actually played against each other.

9.     As an NFL veteran who has gone through this process before, what would you tell members of this year’s draft class?
This is only the beginning. You have to work hard to win a spot on your team. Being drafted doesn’t guarantee anything – only an opportunity. Good luck.

10. Football has been very kind to you, but in a lot of ways, it has also been cruel: I know your body aches…A LOT. Would you do it all again?
Yes. Absolutely.

Thank you so much for reading! Now come join our family on Facebook!


Sunday, April 19, 2015

MY BREAKFAST SAVIOR

I've said it before, but because this is technically a recipe post, it bears repeating:

I don't cook.

But I did stumble upon the following recipe, and, unbelievably, I've tweaked it and made it my own. 

And I have since made this more times than I can count.

And everyone in this house loves it!

I'm pretty proud of this.

I call them Breakfast Balls. And they have changed the way my kids and I eat breakfast.

A few of these balls, some scrambled egg whites, a shot of aloe vera juice, and black coffee will often serve as my own breakfast.

But I also use this recipe as a breakfast supplement, of sorts, for my kids: By the time I get both Kennedy (19 months) and Scotty (3½) up and dressed, they are often ravenous by the time I start to make breakfast, so I give them a few of these balls to munch on while I'm making their waffles or hash browns. Scotty also likes to eat a ball or two on the way to school, and Kennedy uses them as a mid-morning snack after breakfast.

Follow this recipe verbatim, or insert the ingredients that your own family likes.

I promise, you CANNOT screw this up:

Ingredients:

1½ cups old-fashioned oats
½ cup flax seed meal
½ cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup honey
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup (or a full cup if you really like them) chopped nuts; we prefer macadamia or cashew


Directions:

Combine all ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until thoroughly combined. The mixture will become very thick (very quickly), which will make it quite easy to form into small balls (approximately 1 to 1½  tablespoon-sized.) I like to then place the balls in a round glass container in layers separated by wax paper. Lastly, I stick a plastic Tupperware-type lid on the container and then store it in the fridge.

Some tips to make this recipe even cheaper and easier:

*Spray a little non-stick spray in the measuring cups before measuring the honey and peanut butter: it'll make the ingredients slide out of the cup, and make cleaning up easier.

*Flax seed is all the rage now, and is still quite expensive despite it's new-found popularity and accessibility. Beware that the brands of flax seed meal sold in the health-conscious area of grocery stores generally always cost more. Instead, see if the baking aisle of your grocery store carries flax seed meal -- and they all generally do -- and it'll cost dollars less! The brands of flax seed meal in the baking aisle are THE EXACT SAME as the kinds sold in the health food aisle. Just make sure that it is ground, and you'll be good to go.



This recipe yields approximately 20 balls, takes roughly five minutes to throw together, and involves zero cook time.

Here's what they look like when finished:


You will love this.

I promise.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

MY ABSOLUTE BEST BARGAINS -- PART 3

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I love me a good bargain. 

And of all the fabulous things I have scored on the cheap, there are three that still send shivers down my spine. 

Here are their stories in a three-part series. Now for my third pick:

Maclaren Twin Triumph Stroller
What it retails for: $275
What I paid: $99
This stroller is the reason in part that Scott and I decided to go for Baby #2. 

I’m kidding! 

Sort of. 

Scotty was only four months old when he accompanied my mother and me on an afternoon trip to TJ Maxx. 

I remember it like it was yesterday…

I was approaching the children’s section when, off in the distance, I spied a tall, brown oblong box with the word Buggy on the side. 

I knew that meant one thing: This was a Maclaren stroller. 

I don’t want to proclaim myself to be the kind of person who was shallow enough to be enticed by the prospect of owning a designer stroller, but I am indeed the kind of person who is shallow enough to be enticed by the prospect of owning a designer stroller. 

I made a bee line for the box and discovered that it was on clearance – brand new – for a mere $99.

I mean, C'MON!

A ninety-nine dollar Maclaren is more rare than, say, pigs flying, or calorie-free Reese's.

Seriously, though, Scott and I had discussed the idea of having a second child by the time Scotty had turned two, and if we were to follow through, a double stroller would be a necessity. 

And even a decent one would cost more than $99, I reasoned. 

I bought this stroller without thinking twice. 

I figured worst case, I’d return the stroller if we didn’t become pregnant and I’d get store credit, which I would undoubtedly use, what with a son who grows like a weed. 

But we all know how this played out.

Eleven months after buying the stroller, I became pregnant with Kennedy. 

To read the first entry in this series, please click here; to read the second, click here.


I'm cutting back on my blogging schedule...again. 
I swear, this is only temporary! 
I'm embarking on a shiny new yoga teaching adventure (details to come!),
 so in an effort not to bite off more than I can chew, 
I will only publish new blog posts on Monday.
Please, sign up to receive my posts vie e-mail once a week -- just posts; no spam --
by clicking here.
(Please note that you'll receive a verification message first, and after you respond to that message, you'll start receiving my posts in your inbox.)
And know that you can always catch me on Facebook, where I'm over-sharing nearly everyday.
Thanks, again.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

38 LESSONS I'VE LEARNED BY AGE 38

I had a birthday last week.

And 38 feels pretty damn good, if I do say so.

Here's what I've learned:

1. There will always be something to do.
I look to my left, and the foyer needs a thorough mopping. I look to my right, and there's clutter in the nook. There are always clothes to wash, a list to make, or a deadline to meet. And the world won't fall off its axis if I don't do any of it today. Or tomorrow. (Or even next week.)

2. We teach people how to treat us.
Boundaries and limits are necessary.

3. Patience really is a virtue.
I'm working on this one. Lord knows I am.

4. No matter what you do (or don't) some people have already decided that they will not like you. 
Forget them. You'll live.

5. You can do what you love and earn money doing it.
It literally took me years to believe that this was even possible. Then it took me a few more years to summon the courage to try. My writing career has afforded me the opportunity to work for awesome organizations, including USA Football, whom I currently blog for, and Chicken Soup for the Soul, and I am eternally grateful for the work I've received as a certified yoga instructor. My advice to anyone on the fence about this is to take one step -- no matter how small -- and go from there.

6. Judging other moms is a beyotch move.
Raising kids is some seriously hard work. Cases of blatant neglect aside, we are all just trying to do the best we can with what we've got.

7. We just need to love our children and be there for them. 
Screw striving for perfection.

8. You can give yourself a salon-grade blow-out, but eyebrow shaping is often better left to a professional.
If you give yourself a bad blow-out, you can always try again. But one false move with the tweezer or wax, and you've got to live with it for months. That's all I'm saying.

9. Women are goddesses, and our bodies are capable of superpowers.
Do I really need to elaborate on this one?

10. Thread count makes a difference.
Go ahead, try this one for yourself. Go to TJ Maxx, Marshall's, or Home Goods, and buy the absolute best sheets your wallet will permit. I mean, really, splurge. The higher the thread count, the better they feel. It's true. And since we sleep in our bed every single night, isn't the luxury worth it? If you're still skeptical, calculate the cost per use. They'll pay for themselves in less than a month.

11. It's imperative to count your blessings. Every. Single. Day. 
And even more often than that, actually.

12. There is a lot of power in the word yes, and it feels good to say it.

13. Sometimes saying no feels even better.

14. Give someone The Business, if need be.
I don't like to read someone the riot act. (It's the Catholic guilt, I think.) But I will, if the situation calls for it. 

15. Things that are temporary are just that, temporary.
The time I had to wear a retainer in the fifth grade. The nine months of both of my pregnancies. I thought all three would never end. But they did, and now I sort of miss those periods. Not wearing the retainer, though. That sucked, and I'm glad it's over.

16. A piece of really good cake and a glass of really good champagne is like better than...
You fill in the blank.

17. And speaking of libations, there is a difference between cheap champagne and expensive champagne.
But it's kind of like pizza: There is no such thing as bad -- only good, better, and best.

18. You can't eat anything you want if you want to remain a certain size. 
Unless you're a freakishly thin supermodel. And even then, I think they're lying: I call bullsh!t on the whole "I pig out on cheeseburgers every night! Really, I do!" Yeah, okay.

19. But you can look better with age.
I'm no Naomi Campbell, but I like how I look now far more than I did in my twenties, or even my late teens, thanks, in part to #8.

20. We are all connected.
When we think about someone...and they call. When we're looking for something we didn't think we'd find...and, lo and behold, there it is. When we need an answer and don't know where to find it...and it arrives from the most random of sources. There are no coincidences.

21. Nothing is more valuable than your family. Nothing.
Spouses, kids, etc. They are not a given, and because of that, they are more precious than diamonds, gold, and platinum. Combined.

22. Worrying solves nothing.
I've learned this one by extensive experience, but old habits die hard.

23. Alone time is essential.
Whether you're cruising the aisles of a grocery store or meditating on your yoga mat. Quiet time -- everyday -- is necessary. 

24. You can make time for what is important.

25. You can't control people, but you can control how you respond to them.
Ever feel like some people say sh!t, simply to get a rise out of you? Here's how you get at them, while maintaining your dignity: Ignore them.

26. Regret nothing.

27. I feel better after spending an hour outdoors.

28. Much of what annoys me doesn't matter.

29. Trust your gut, it'll NEVER lead you astray.

30. We all have something in common.
We may not all like each other; we may have different political and religious beliefs; and we may come from opposite ends of the planet. But we all have something -- at least one teeny-weensy thing -- in common.

31. Being the mom of a boy rocks.

32. Being the mom of a girl rocks.

33. Just plain being a mom rocks.
I realize that 31, 32, and this one, 33, have little to do with age, but I decided to include them because I learned these lessons a little later than others because I didn't have my first child until I was 34. Yeah, they drive me crazy sometimes. But, honestly, my son and daughter are, unequivocally, my greatest source of pride and joy. 

34. Not doing what we love is bad for our health.
Like virtually everyone else, I've had jobs (and bosses) that I've despised, so I've learned this one by extensive experience, too.

35. Feelings aren't right or wrong.

36. A nice-fitting pair of jeans and a quality black jacket can literally be worn anywhere.

37. It really is refreshing to celebrate who you are in everything you do.
Take a look at my first few blog posts. They are much, MUCH different than how I write now. When I first started blogging a year ago, I wrote about all things motherhood. All. The. Time. Now, don't get me wrong, this isn't a crime -- and motherhood encompasses much of who I am as a person...but it's not what I wish to write about. All. The. Time. But when I launched this blog, I was under the mistaken assumption that I should...because "everybody else is doing it!" Now, I'm like, yeah...um, no. I'm a mother who blogs, but I don't identify myself as a mommy blogger. (Not that there's anything wrong with being one.) I just know that I've settled into my blogging groove only after I started deviating from what I thought I should be writing about and started writing about what I am compelled to write about. Same with my journey as a yoga instructor. When I taught my first classes years ago, my style was so...I don't know...rigid. (I know, that word seems inconsistent with the characterization of a yoga class, but it's true.) It took me a moment to realize that there are no rules -- and that if you do something different -- and it feels comfortable, and it works for you -- then, but all means, DO IT.

38. There is still so much that I have no flipping clue about.


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