Sunday, August 31, 2014

First Football Game and Cheerleading Performance

Football season is upon us! Our favorite time of the year!! But this year, we are even MORE excited about football season because we have THE cutest little cheerleader rooting on Connor's team.

Our little Texans cheerleader, ready for her first game.

Oh my goodness, I can't even handle the cuteness!! This girl totally loves her cheerleading uniform, and she definitely likes to play the part when she wears it!

Connor and Kaitlynn's first game of the season was last week, and wouldn't you know, it was held at 8:00 in the morning. His team historically has such a tough time getting up, fed, dressed, and ready to play that early in the day. The good thing about those early games is that, while it's still hot, it's not as hot as it'll be later in the day.

Kaitlynn and Connor before the first game.

As I mentioned in my earlier post about Kaitlynn's cheerleading, I really had no idea what to expect for how she would handle the "demands" of cheering on the sidelines and performing the halftime dance. Add in the early morning and the intense summer heat, and it could be a disaster.

Connor, on the other hand, was SO pumped about his first game of the season. That kid just enjoys every aspect of football, including the tough practices. He is always ready to play. This year, Connor is starting on offense at tight end. He is still learning the position but loves every second of his time on the field.

The cheerleaders lined up as the players ran through the team banner to start the game.

Connor, #90, listens to the pregame speech from one of his coaches.

Every parent on the team is asked to help out in various ways to make game day run smoothly, whether it's helping on chains, bringing snacks, or taking game video. Jeff's job last season was the game monitor, which is the person with the clipboard that makes sure each player gets the required number of plays on offense and defense. It's actually a difficult job -- very tedious -- and tough to get volunteers for, but Jeff (ever the accountant) loves that role and was hoping to do it again this year.

Unfortunately, Jeff learned that this year the game monitor required special training. He was feeling quite rejected and demoted. But then on the morning of the first game, Coach asked Jeff if he'd be able to do it again and you would've thought Jeff had won the lottery! LOL! The other parents were joking throughout the game about how Jeff takes his job so seriously and how he feels like such a VIP with his clipboard. Beware of the paper cuts though!! (True story.)

Jeff the game monitor. Wonder if we should get him a special hat or something? ;-)

When it was time to play, it was obvious that the players weren't quite in their groove and were feeling some first game jitters. After only 5 or 6 plays into the game, the other team had already recovered our ball twice and was up by 2 touchdowns! You could just hear the collective groan from the parents of our boys. NOT a good way to kick off the season. Would we be able to come back?

Down a ways on the sidelines, the cheer squad -- now numbered at 10 -- was doing a great job rooting on our team. The girls were starting to get the hang of the cheers and we were seeing lots of cute smiles and "spirit" as they say.

Lined up and cheering on the sideline. Hands on hips, smiles on lips!

The cheering must've worked, because before we knew it, our players had fought their way back and tied up the game by halftime! So exciting!

And speaking of halftime, that's when the cheer squad travels to the visitors' side of the field to perform their Hello cheer. Afterwards, they walk back to the home crowd and perform their half-time dance. They've been working on these things for a few weeks, and our cheer coaches are so patient and loving with these girls. But bless their hearts, I just didn't think they were ready for the pressure of the halftime performance.

Boy, was I wrong!

The squad walked over to the visitors' side to perform the Hello cheer.

Kaitlynn lined up for her halftime dance. Serious business! ha!

There's the smile!

When the music came on, the girls performed their little hearts out! It was miserably hot, they had never performed before, and they were wearing brand new (stiff) uniforms. But they rocked it out! And at the end, they even concluded with a "stunt." So proud of this squad!

The cheerleaders lined up and performing their halftime dance.

The cheer stunt after the dance.

After halftime, the team resumed the game and came out with another couple of touchdowns to take the lead. But after the opposing team, the Ravens, scored once again, it was up to the Texans to take control and hold their lead. Could they do it?

Kaitlynn on the sidelines, cheering for those Texans!

The players huddled up on one of the final drives. There's Connor, #90, smack in the middle.

They did it! The Texans beat the Ravens, final score: 31-24. What a way to kick off the season, with an inspiring, exciting come-from-behind win for our Texans!

Looking forward to what the rest of our season has in store for us!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Gulf Shores

MeMe and Granddaddy did it again -- they planned and booked another wonderful beach trip for all of us siblings and cousins to enjoy this summer. But this time, they really outdid themselves! As much as we enjoyed Diamond Beach in Galveston last summer, we agreed as a group that we should try a nicer beach for this summer's trip. After much planning and research, we settled on Orange Beach in Gulf Shores. My mom rented a pair of condos next door to each other at a really cool resort, and we ended up having the best vacation!

The beach. Absolutely gorgeous!

First off, the resort. We stayed at Caribe Resort in Orange Beach. It looked very similar to Diamond Beach with expansive pool areas, water slides, and a lazy river. But it went a lot further than that -- there were putting greens, 3 indoor pools, a dock for fishing, and so much more. It was HUGE, too, and almost a little overwhelming. We never thought we'd want to leave the resort.

One of the 3 towers of the Caribe resort. Every unit had massive balconies and huge living areas with top-of-the-line kitchens. Perfect!

But the main reason for the 9+ hour drive to Gulf Shores was to enjoy the beach. I've always said the long drive was never worth it, but this year I am taking that all back. Maybe since my kids are old enough to tolerate the drive better, it just didn't seem that bad at all. And once we saw the beach and stepped into that white sugar sand, we were hooked! We made sure to take some cousin and family photos with the beautiful scenery.

MeMe, Granddaddy, and their 7 grandkids!

The Morgan cousins on the beach.

Connor and Kaitlynn

MeMe and Granddaddy

Jeb and his 3 girls.

Jeb's family, love!

Jeb and Alli, always so photogenic!

MeMe and Granddaddy.

My brother Jeb and me. So sweet :-)

Michelle and Chris's family (missing Caleb), great photo!

Chris and Michelle, another great-looking couple!

Michelle and her girls.

And one more thing about the beach. I have always loved traveling for beach vacations. I can never get enough of the soothing sound of the waves and the stunning view of the ocean. But I usually don't really want to deal with all the sand and mess that going to the beach requires. Especially with kids, it makes for a sandy, wet mess.

I take all that back, too. This beach was so wonderful, I didn't mind the sand and mess at all! In fact, weeks later my car still has sand in the back and I don't mind one bit! :-)

Connor must feel the exact same way I've always felt about beaches, because when everyone arrived at the resort and announced it was time to head out to the beach to explore, he didn't want anything to do with it. He said the beach was dirty and stinky (yes and yes, at Galveston this summer) but I assured him this beach was different. He didn't believe me at first but was quickly won over.

First trip to the beach. Didn't take long before he was won over, too.

The cousins played so well together. They miss each other so much between our visits!

Fun in the sun and sand.

Ryah and Makenna.

Marissa with a little crab.

MeMe and Kaitlynn kept getting swept away by the waves.





Granddaddy and MeMe.


Uncle Chris.



Uncle Ben.

Aunt Charlotte, with our resort buildings in the background.




What did Uncle Jeb catch?


Proof I was at the beach, too!

HUGE sand crab the kids caught on their own!

Look at that little guy!

You get one guess to figure out what Kaitlynn was attempting to do. She just does not grasp the concept of peeing in the ocean, ha!

As much fun as the beach was, we all really enjoyed the resort amenities, too. It was always a tough choice to figure out what we wanted to do: pools or beach. (The beach usually won!) But the cousins ended up loving every aspect of the resort. I think they ended up spending the most time at the lazy river. It was very shallow -- only 1.5 feet deep -- so it was a great and safe activity for them to enjoy while the adults relaxed.

Lined up at the lazy river.

Look how cool this pool area is, so much fun!

Connor enjoys the waterslide.

Now it's Kaitlynn's turn.

The obligatory cousin photo overlooking at the resort overlooking the ocean.

Time to enjoy the hot tub! The kids loved the indoor pools!

MeMe and Aunt Alli at one of the indoor pool areas.

Besides the beach and resort activities, another thing we all enjoyed together was meal times! (Of course!) With a group as big as ours (8 adults and 9 kids), it was just way easier to cook and stay at our condos to eat instead of trying to eat out with all of us. We each took turns cooking and it worked out perfectly. We ate so well, there was never a shortage of yummy food.

Granddaddy samples Renee's rice krispie treats. They were seriously the best I've ever had!

Ice cream treats, our one time eating outside the condo.

And of course, our visit wouldn't be complete without finding a way to include some golf.

Granddaddy and Connor enjoyed a round of golf together.
Granddaddy says Connor had 1 good hole -- the beach had worn these 2 out!

Enjoying the putting green at the resort.

Connor wasn't the only one who was worn out! This girl lasted until the last day without a daytime nap, but then she finally gave in!

Our vacation at Caribe in Gulf Shores was over before we were ready. But we said goodbye to our cousins and vowed to come again next summer. It was such an amazing vacation all around.

On the drive home, we stopped at the famous Lambert's Café where they throw you your dinner rolls from across the room. This was such a hit; we'll be adding this to our list for next summer as well!

Lamberts Restaurant. We all caught our rolls!!