A lot of people go to college for 7 years…

…but it only took Garrett three and a half!
Without further adieu, the moment his mother waited 29 years for.

A lot of people go to college for 7 years…

September, so far…

Apologies for the delay in posts…which I just realized have lasted through the month of September so far (and here we are halfway through!) The easiest thing to do would be to blame it on an uptick of JU soccer and PGA TOUR Playoffs (for the FedExCup!), which have rearranged our lives like all commitments are prone to doing. I won’t, however, apologize for the uptick in girls night activities with my core group of Jax ladies in the past few weeks…as those just serve to help keep me (and each of us) sane.

It’s funny that the first place I check is my iPhone photo album, to see what I’ve been up to lately. Second place is probably Twitter and/or our foursquare checkin history. Thank goodness for little technology records to help us track where we’ve been and maybe where we’re going…

Lately:

– Learned I can make a pan of Rice Krispie Treats in 12 minutes or less. Also learned that Rice Krispie Treats don’t ‘cool’ so well in the back of a car on a 90+ degree day, but that soccer players don’t care.

– My buddy Jason was featured on the Today Show for his company, iwearyourshirt.com.  I met Jason at the first Social Media Club interest meeting, just before he launched IWYS, and its been very cool to see him grow his idea into this 24/7, 365 business. It’s not just as easy as wearing a shirt everyday. Click here to watch the Today Show segment

– Our Labor Day plans were pretty non-descript, until I saw a Facebook post from my college friend Erin of her view from her Orlando hotel. A few text messages later, I was en route to O-Town for dinner with Erin and Heath, two of my former NAU Live! colleagues. We enjoyed a great night out with several “where is [this person]” tangents, that ultimately led to the idea of a NAU Live reunion (an actual planned one, with invites and everything!) and re-discovering our former advisor, Dr. Gloria Horning (thank you, Google!).

NAU Live! mini-reunion with Lauren, Erin & Heath

– Labor Day continued the college theme on Saturday with the second soccer team dinner, for midfielders and forwards this time. These guys are predominantly more European, so of course I unleashed my Southern cooking talents for a dinner featuring pulled pork, coleslaw, potato salad and corn on the cob. Despite the cultural differences, I was crowned with two new nicknames: “Mom” and “Best cook in the world.” Needless to say, I prefer the latter…

– College theme continued Sunday, with another JU soccer game (2-0 victory!) followed by after-parties since Monday was a day off. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen 2:30 AM on the clock before bed, especially twice in one weekend (see, Friday night) but it was fun to pretend I belonged back in the college scene again.

– Social Media Club Jax has resumed from its (unplanned) summer hiatus. To kick off fall, we had a happy hour event at TPC Sawgrass where our members unlocked the FedExCup Playoff badge and I answered some questions on how brands like mine work with foursquare to create badge campaigns. I usually shy away from presenting about my work, but it was good for me to stand up and share my experiences with our group.

– What was supposed to be easy and unstructured this past weekend was flipped upside-down when Garrett got the call that his new teammate was en route from Ireland and he needed a place to crash. Enter, Gavin the Irish goal keeper. The poor guy arrived at 11:30 pm after traveling for 21 hours. Add, it was just 75 degrees when we picked him up and the second thing he said to us was “Wow, it’s really hot here.” By the end of the weekend we had spent hours in the sun, taking him to the beach and the Jacksonville Jaguars season opener, and I think he used an entire bottle of SPF 50 sun cream in two days.

Neptune Beach, Florida
September 11th tribute at Jacksonville Jaguars' season opener

– Post-game we had a lovely Irish meal at Culhane’s, where Gavin and one of the owners (one of four sisters from Limerick) had a nice chat. Always good to make connections in town, especially ones that pour the pints!

Gavin gets a taste of home!

– Finally, I have totally broken my Starbucks kick thanks to my awesome espresso machine Garrett gifted me for my birthday. I’ve discovered the best way to start a morning…and it looks something like this:

Breakfast of Champions!

Here’s hoping our anniversary presents to each other are so beloved! (more on that soon)

September, so far…

Soccer Mom in Training

I could write an entire blog just about learning how to be a soccer mom to nearly 30 grown men…but then I’d stop posting here and eventually would stop posting there as well. (Seems to be the constant in my blogging efforts…except for Teague FC!) In an effort to keep this both fresh and fun, I’ll share with you my latest ‘team mom’ escapades.

Jacksonville University (JU) had two exhibition games last week. I missed the first, opting for a running course instead (good: attending class. bad: not running since) and deciding to save my gas rather than rush up to the JU fields for the second half of the game that Garrett wasn’t even playing in. (Catch up note: Coaches put G on mandatory rest to start the season, as we try to get a diagnosis and treatment plan for his ab strain / stress reaction that has been bothering him all summer. Insurance delayed the process, as does once-a-week doctor availability. Hope to know more tomorrow.)

Fast forward to Friday — learned that I can leave my office in Ponte Vedra at 6:28pm and arrive at the JU soccer field literally right as the 7 pm kickoff happens. (Filing that one away for later in the season…) It was freshman orientation week, so I had to grab a seat in front of about 30 freshman or sophomore university students. Spent the entire game listening to them talk about “Justin Beiber. Taylor Swift. Parties. Quidditch. Movies. Parties. Sorority. Beach.” If 90 minutes of that was my own personal hell, I have much more sympathy for Garrett sitting through classes every day with these kids. Back to soccer: JU tied the exhibition 1-1. The team didn’t look nearly as good as I had hoped, playing a D2 school, but we went through this in the summer too (lost first four, won next eight), so I’ll be more optimistic. (Also, they beat South Florida 2-1 in the first exhibition match.)

Before I left the field, I snagged a homemade “Dolphins soccer” poster that one of the froshie sorority chicks had brought. She didn’t want to hang onto it, and I told her I was having team dinner the next night, so I might as well have team artwork too.

Saturday night was the first JU team dinner that I’ve let Garrett rope me into…and by “rope”, I mean I totally offered because who doesn’t love to cook for 12 hungry grown men in a 1,100 sq ft condo? The menu was fairly basic but the Costco shopping trip was anything but (Garrett sent me all alone, this was his mistake.)

  • Herb-crusted Sirloin tip roast (two x 3.5 pounds each)
  • Summer vegetable ratatouille (two pans)
  • Sweet potato fries (cheated and bought the big bag at Costco!)
  • Fusilloni pasta, lightly sauced, with fresh tomato & basil (big pot)
  • Costco rolls (one bag)
  • Apple pie and vanilla ice cream (Costco sized!)

The dinner was surprisingly easy to pull together, though our oven proved (again) that it doesn’t cook as quick as recipes suggest. I need to start remembering this! (Any tips on oven cleaning or optimizing for power/cook time?) Once the guys showed up, it wasn’t long before the chips and salsa were devoured and dinner was ready (buffet style). Helpful tip: The pack of 30 aluminum buffet pans for $3.50 are worth every penny. From cooking to serving to clean up, they were so easy!

JU Mens Soccer - Defense Team Dinner

After dinner, Garrett pulled out the cribbage boards and started to teach some of the guys how to play. Go figure, the married couple throws a college party and the craziest we can get is playing cards (and Playstation3). Team Europe (Toby from Germany & Henrik from Norway) took the first game (beginners luck!), but I was part of Team America that had two dramatic comeback wins to steal the honors of the night. Pretty sure that there is at least one cribbage board in the team locker room now…

Team dinner part one was a success, including one review “the best meal I’ve had since coming to the States.” (nice!) Part two, with the midfielders and forwards is tentatively planned for Labor Day weekend. 15 new guys…no sweat, right? If you have any menu suggestions that don’t include using an oven, please leave them in comments. I’m likely going to be doing this a few more times!

Soccer Mom in Training

Team Mom

Had a baking urge today…probably because I’ve been hearing daily (via Garrett) requests from the JU soccer team for me to send them goodies.

I’m a sucker, what can I say?

These are the chewy chocolate-chip oatmeal cookies from SkinnyTaste’s food blog. I left out the “low fat” descriptor from the title, because that doesn’t matter to 30 hungry guys in training.  I made a double batch and used a melon baller to scoop the cookie dough, but yielded 65 cookies. Sent about 2/3 with Garrett to the scrimmage tonight, because I couldn’t bear making a big cookie batch and only have a couple left over for us! No guilt here (low-fat, remember) since these are made with oatmeal, applesauce and a Splenda sugar blend.

SkinnyTaste.com is a great blog for food inspiration and guidelines to make your favorite recipes in a very healthy way. Gina, the author, includes nutritional info on each recipe, including Weight Watcher points (if that’s your style). I’ve made a ton of her recipes, and have never been disappointed. Hint: scroll into comments for insights into FAQ and how others have altered the recipe. Click over and pick out a meal for dinner this week…you won’t be sorry! (Let me know below what you chose and if you liked it!)

Team Mom