Saturday, October 29, 2011

Winning Rocks and Losing Stinks

Everyone knows how to win: laughing, smiling, high fives, dancing, gloating, re-telling the glory stories which grow with every telling.

But... losing well is quite another skill. To be honest, a skill that no one even wants to learn. The more I walk around this planet, the more I realize that losing is more a part of life than winning. I have lost many more times in my life than I have won!

Still... winning rocks and losing stinks.

Last year's Kinleystead high school football season gifted us with a very unexpected outcome:

This second game, season- ending, snapped- in- half clavicle.

And this broken bone produced a very sad football player:

Losing Stinks.

No words to describe the feeling of last season. To see my son pour his heart and life into this sport for an entire year: the running, the pumping iron, the off-season conditioning, the very grueling Arkansas summer two-a-days, and the dreams for a great football season... crushed in one play.

What a loss it was. If I think about it for any length of time, the emotions easily return. I still don't know why it happened, but it did.

The response my son had, however, will forever inspire me. He picked himself up when many would have quit and, as soon as that bone healed, threw his whole self back into football... for the next ten months.

There was much eating to gain weight. There was a pulled hamstring set-back. There were many team bonding experiences. There were practices and conditioning every day. When summer arrived, my son hit the field on days when the thermometer registered 130 degrees.

Nothing stopped him.


All that he worked toward was for this season... his last season of football...

his "Senior Football Year".

I wish I could report that the Warriors will be headed to the play-offs. I wish the dream of winning a state championship was still alive. But this has been a hard season full of losses which finds me wondering again,

"What is to be learned from losing?"

I have to say... I'm still trying to learn.

Last night was the last away game for my senior football player. It was his last time to ride the bus with his teammate brothers who he dearly loves. It was a cold, autumn night with a bright moon shining in the sky. The hope of winning was high. It was an evening full of everything a high school football game ought to be.

That's My Number Nine.

The Senior Football Moms had decided to be obnoxious and rowdy. We all had painted signs to show our guys how proud we are of them for playing hard, for not giving up, for still sticking together through adversity, for playing their very best until the final whistle, for coming back week after week.

The cheerleaders love our Senior Mom rowdiness, and so did the guys!

We loved cheering for our sons, too.

Especially me... because being loud and rowdy and obnoxious is one of my gifts.

Yea... it's true and here's some proof.

And, yet more proof. This is my serious-yellin' pose.

I like to think we Senior Football Moms had a chance to make a game-changing difference. We yelled until we had no voices left. My husband yelled too, but he was sweet to tolerate my crazy screaming. After all, it was my very last time to cheer loudly for my very last son.

We have one more game, but it is at home and: 1.) I don't yell loud at home games. 2.)It will be "Senior Night", and we parents have to walk out on the field escorted by our sons. Walking out onto the field means I have to dress up a bit and try to look cute and hold in my stomach and make sure I don't have any... umm... gray roots showing, so I won't scare all the younger moms who will be thinking, "Is that what I will look like when my child is a senior?"

Yup. Sorry to deliver that news to you.

Back to last night's game: I am happy to report that the Warriors won with a final score of 34 to 19. It was a happy night full of yelling, camaraderie, high- fiving the person next to me, even if I don't know them very well, and enjoying a sweeeeeeet win.

No one had to teach me how to celebrate because winning rocks.

After the game with our incredible Number Nine.

P.S. I have notecards and refrigerator magnets for sale in my Hillcrest Cottage Etsy Shop.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Christian Zombie Killers Handbook - A Review

Being the mom of three boys and also wife, I am clearly out- numbered when the family is gathered at the Kinleystead.

"Mom, why do you always fall asleep during movies?" asked one son several years ago.

Duh? Consider the movies which have been traditional Kinley family viewing.

Several years ago I was forced to set some boundaries for myself: I don't do Antarctica, submarines, space, futuristic, ninjas, or over-the-top action and c.g. In contrast, I actually do enjoy war movies. "Saving Private Ryan" and "Blackhawk Down" being among two of my all-time favorites. My rules can be suspended on a movie-by-movie basis (but don't tell the guys this). Basically, I enjoy good character development and relationships between people; if this happens in a movie, I like it. The same would go for books, if I had the time to read a lot.

Zombies? Hummmm... not a real fan. But, when my husband writes a zombie book, it kinda becomes required reading.

Enter "The Christian Zombie Killers Handbook" (Thomas Nelson/Oct. 2011). This book is a full zombie novel and also a full non-fiction book. The book's layout alternates between fiction episodes and non-fiction chapters. Being the rebel that I am, I chose to read the fiction first.

"The Christian Zombie Killers Handbook" (the novel) is an engaging, fast-moving story with excellent character development (See? This is why I enjoyed it so much. I even cried.) The book does not tie-up every bit of the story in a nice, neat bow; something a new generation will appreciate, and something the old-schoolers will protest. Instead, the story line taunts the reader with a strong desire to know more of the Forman family and their adventures in this pre-zombie apocalyptic world created by Kinley.

As a reader, I hope there will be more of the Forman story in the future.

I have already stated that I am not a zombie fan, so I zeroed in on the relationships - particularly the strong bond between the two brothers and also the sons to their mother. I must repeat: excellent character development!

The graphic novel illustrations at every episode's beginning clearly set the story up as tongue-in-cheek with several laugh-out-loud comic relief sections. It is a serious story, but not to be taken too seriously; I liked this!

The story is not "cliche", but is "classic", and there is a huge difference. The author draws from zombie culture enough to be a credible zombie writer but does so with his own unique twists and interpretations. This book is Jeff Kinley's zombie world, and he is in charge. I am certain that zombie enthusiasts will enjoy discussing their likes and dislikes of what zombies "should/should not" do and be. And for the zombie peeps that is part of the fun.

For me, I am probably not gonna add "zombies" to my must-not watch or read list... yet... because "The Christian Zombie Killer Handbook" shattered all my expectations of what I thought a zombie novel would be.

Stay tuned for my review of "The Christian Zombie Killers Handbook" - the non-fiction.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Senior Football, Homecoming, & Zombies

The last of my three sons is a high school senior; a pregnant statement filled with a wide range of emotions.

First came...

The Senior Portrait.

And, my senior's eighteenth birthday.

Hillcrest Cottage is in a season packed to the rafters with football. The elation of winning and the frustration of an over-time defeat have been our experiences. We have cheered, we have lost our voices from screaming, we have high-fived the stranger sitting next to us, and we have made the long drive home from an out-of-town loss.

The Captains: Number Nine Belongs to Hillcrest Cottage

Nothing could be more fun than a high school homecoming parade. Grade schoolers scramble for candy tossed their way. Parents line the street with the cameras clicking rapidly. Homecoming maids, football players in cool convertibles driven by their coaches, the marching band, and the class joke-sters ride the floats as only joke-sters can!

It's the heart of Americana. Images and memories to be etched onto the lifetime hard drive.

Number Nine in a Suit

That Wave Was for Mom

Switching gears very quickly... my husband's newest book is releasing this week. It is a rather unique offering.

Explore the website to find out: 1. How to get a book. 2. To download 11 free zombie-inspired indie-songs. (Zombie fan or not, the music is very fun. I have been enjoying zombie tunes by musicians from Denver, NYC, Dallas, and, of course, Little Rock.) 3. How to bring a Zombie Killers Weekend to your city.

I can also guarantee that all proceeds from the sales of this book will be given to feed and clothe starving children in Arkansas (mine).

Back to the the Zombie Killers Release Party and book signing.

The Author Signs Books

And... what's a zombie party without the zombies?

Ha. Ha. Ha.

The Zombie Killers party was a great beginning to a crazy week in which Jeff spoke to 57 million listeners on "In the Marketplace with Janet Parshall". Scroll down to October 3, 2011/Part Two

I am currently reading "The Christian Zombie Killers Handbook". Stay tuned for the review. (Can a wife do that?)

LASTLY.. I love this tutorial on how a talented make-up artist did the zombie make-up: Click Here