Pre-Season Camp Curse

Pre-Season Camp Curse

 

If you have ever been around a coaching family as their season begins you may have noticed a pattern. As soon as players report disaster strikes. While many assume this is coincidence, seasoned coaches’ wives know better. This scenario has what I have titled The Pre-Season Camp Curse. Lest you think I am being overly dramatic I’ve inventoried the past 17 Augusts and I’ll highlight a few of my favorite camp memories below.

Past August Disasters:

  • Three years in a row Ordell and I both broke our cell phones in August once accidentally emerging them in water on the same night while in different states.
  • One year a “quick roof repair” ended with on coach falling off our roof and Ordell in the ER after stepping on a nail (through work boots) that was likely 50 years old.
  • My favorite year was the one where both cars picked up nails in the tires on the same day and after returning from the second tire patch repair I discovered a “helpful” neighbor had called to have our water turned off due to a water puddle on the driveway.
  • That same home in August had a collapsed pipe which took 2.5 weeks to repair, causing our family to move onto campus for camp and live in a tiny guest house. Then upon returning home, we discovered the pipe repair had invited mice.
  • August is the month we accidentally leave the car lights on all night and awake to dead batteries.
  • It’s the month appliances break down.
  • The bank has messed up check deposits and then applied fees for overdrawn accounts.
  • Levi ended up in the ER one year for a massive poison ivy exposure where he ended up with a steroid shot and week of meds.
  • We had a major storm come through and a dying tree limb fell tearing the electrical box off our home and a neighbor’s and I awoke to a blocked in car and four men in the driveway arguing about who was going to pay for the tree removal…none of which was my husband.

 

Ahh…memories

Here’s How I Handle the Curse

While I can chuckle now at the insanity of past August disasters, I’ve learned that it’s impossible to avoid the crazy. What will happen will happen so instead, I’ve learned to implement a few strategic August boundaries to minimize the effects of the Pre-season Camp Curse.

Prep Ahead

Each summer I spend a little time adding meals to the freezer in anticipation of the days when dinner time is hectic in August. By preparing the basics ahead of time the expense of a “disaster” is reduced. For example, when the oven breaks we don’t need to eat out. Dinner is in the freezer. When the car breaks and we’re stuck at home we don’t need to order pizza, because dinner is ready.

I also prep ahead by using August to turn over clothing wardrobes, gathering school supplies and purging the house. These tasks keep my kids busy in those last days before school which minimizes fighting. These things also set us up to cost a bit through the fall. The yearly routines are necessary so it’s not seen as busy work.

Simplify

Much of August is spent on the football field, so there isn’t much time for fancy meals. Fresh veggies and grilled meat are enough to keep everyone running and reduces the grocery store stops as well.

The calendar is also simplified. We have one commitment at the beginning of August. Football. This doesn’t mean we don’t spend time with friends, but we do eliminate many things from our calendar. We don’t travel (we’ll do enough of that September-December), we don’t have overnight visitors (everyone sleeps in their own beds), and we don’t overschedule our days.

Ask for Help

When I awoke to zero electricity and a bunch of strange men in my driveway I couldn’t call Ordell, but I could call my friend Sharon. Her husband, a lineman was likely to have some idea of what I needed to do and say. Turns out Sharon did too and she also knew the men so she could put my mind at ease and help me ask the right questions.

When the pipe collapsed I asked friends if we could crash at their homes until on-campus housing was available instead of dealing with a home without water. This may seem silly, but I know plenty of coaches’ wives who would rather go it alone than ask for help…and it’s completely unnecessary.

When the boys were little I found babysitters in August so I could get a break from being alone with my boys all day. Simple things like running errands were no longer stressful and we were all happier in the end.

While the camp curse is frustrating, it doesn’t need to completely derail you! Take a breath, ask for help and head to the football field. All will even out once pre-season camp ends. And until then…may the odds be ever in your favor. 😉

Annual Guys Weekend

Guys WeekendIn our current stage in life, Ordell has committed to bringing our sons away each summer for a few days of adventure. When we were working with college teams the time away was more about reconnecting and establishing a solid line of communication before players reported.

Now, this time away happens during the one-week mid-summer when football isn’t happening, making the time away more about uninterrupted time together than anything else.

I would be remiss to ignore the fact that with all my guys away I’m the one who actually gets the vacation during this family tradition, but with a commitment to “make memories” I think all four of us agree the annual guys weekend is one of our favorite family traditions.

Here’s Why an Annual Guys Weekend is Important for our Family

Football takes a back seat while the guys are camping. Ordell does a great job each year of researching a place that is kid-friendly and also has hiking trails with rocks so our boys can take as many climbing breaks as they want.

Cascades, VA
Actual hiking trail my kids conquered in 2015 and 2016

With hiking, star gazing, fishing, campfires and plenty of rock climbing to keep everyone busy my crew comes home dirty, exhausted, and smiling from fun memories. They’ve also had a few days break from most screens and internet, so they are re-focused as well.

These Annual Guys Weekends 

  • Create space for long conversations
  • Create memories between brothers and father and sons
  • Create an opportunity for uninterrupted talks
  • Provide an outlet for adventure
  • Are football free spaces
  • All for rejuvenation

As our boys have gotten older, these trips have included age-appropriate conversations about their stage of life as well as vision casting. As a coach’s wife, I’ve watched my husband pour into hundreds of boys through our almost two decades together. It isn’t a surprise to me that he takes his responsibility with our sons seriously, but the intentionality is something I believe our boys will appreciate more in a few years than they do as they look around their campsite each year for an escape. 😉

How I Take Advantage of Guys Weekend

As soon as my men are out the door, I begin an extended self-care routine. This year I saved one of those giant bath bombs for my days of solitude. Since I can have girl time with lunches or coffee anytime, I try to use my days for things I like to do around the house without interruption.

I may head out for a pedicure and extended workouts, but mostly I eat salads and my favorite almond milk ice cream (it’s called balance people!) pop on chick flicks and rest.

This year I had a pedicure scheduled but ended up skipping it in exchange for more solitude. I also blocked out some uninterrupted writing time. For some reason, my thoughts are clearer in an empty house these days, and I didn’t want to let the opportunity slip away. I always spend some time working, that’s unavoidable, but since I’m on my timeline, I find that I wrap up my independent weekends feeling I’ve been productive both personally and professionally.

One year I spent a significant part of the time getting spots out of the carpets in our rental house. Since that meant a lot of applying cleaning solution and waiting it was perfect. Other times I’ve purged the house in prep for garage sales or moves.

These annual guys weekend adventures are a perfect way for me to seize time for myself and for my three men to connect in a way only guys can. I’m so thankful for a husband who understands the value of time outside of football and for his intentionality with our sons. He serves us well and the memories built over these annual trips are part of the proof!

Lessons from a Great Surprise

Lessons from a Great Surprise

A few weekends ago Ordell and I celebrated our 17th Wedding Anniversary. We’ve never had expectations around gifts, and we celebrated our early anniversaries at FCA family camp, so we haven’t always paid attention to the exact date.

I decided that I’d take advantage of a Saturday anniversary and plan an atypical date. Date night as a coach’s wife is often atypical, but rarely a surprise.

We’ve been together close to two decades at this point, and that makes surprises a bit more challenging to execute, but it also makes it that much more fun when it’s successful.

Here’s where a little background will be helpful, my husband grew up in a family that hunted with father who was a police officer. Guns were always a part of his life whereas they were not a part of mine. I’m not comfortable around guns, and all the happenings in the news haven’t changed my mind. So when Ordell mentioned at the end of May that the local shooting range offers a date night package, I knew he wasn’t doing so expecting me to join him eagerly.

This is why suggesting our anniversary dinner begin at the shooting range was a perfect surprise. The great thing about a surprise is that you never know the outcome, and in this case, I was surprised too.

Lessons from a Great Surprise

1- Preparation is Key

I knew there would be a little prep that had to happen before our date, so I made sure to communicate that the offer for shooting range date night was good for today or the near future. My man is wise and knew the chances of me chickening out were strong, so we spent a little time practicing shooting fundamentals before we headed out.

2- Having an Open Mind is Helpful

Beyond the instructions Ordell gave me I had no idea what to expect when we entered the range. I’m so glad I chose not to overthink things. Had I walked into our date with any assumptions I could have set a negative tone or expectations that I couldn’t meet. Instead, I knew I would need to prove I could safely shoot a gun to have a successful date. I took my requirements seriously and passed with flying colors(check out that target above, I hit my mark straight on).

3- There is Always an Opportunity to Impress Your Loved Ones

My husband and sons were all impressed with my results and honestly, so was I. My instructor explained that my attention to detail with applying the fundamentals was what allowed me success. This new experience was one I was on high alert for, and I did not rush through things. Even though I wasn’t sure if it was a one time experience or something I would do again in the future taking things seriously was important.

This choice also showed my husband that I respect his hobby. Had I gone in with an attitude of anything other than respect, I may not have passed the qualification and that would have ruined the whole date.

4- New Experiences Bond a Couple

My willingness to engage with Ordell’s semi-regular hobby created a whole new area of memories that are just ours. It also opened a window to entire areas of conversation we previously couldn’t have. There are some things you just need to experience in person and for me, the shooting range was one of them.

5- Quality Time Doesn’t Mean Always Doing Things One Way

One of my love languages is quality time. In the past I’ve assumed this has meant that we need to do something we both enjoy but it turns out that’s not the case! Choosing to step out of my comfort zone and engage in something my husband enjoys was fun because happiness is contagious when we allow it be so. Spending time together, just us always has the potential to be fun, but it’s a choice to embrace an experience and classify it as quality time.

6- It’s Never too Late to Learn Something New

While I was pretty tired from adrenaline by the end of our outing, but I was also pleased with my shots and feeling more comfortable in my surroundings. I didn’t hate our date, likely because I decided to have an open mind combined with a love for the company. Knowing I can successfully attend a shooting range date night is great, it also means I have a new experience, potential skill and future date nights available.

Planning excursions often falls to us wives during the season. What I loved most about our adventure is that it was completely outside of a typical date expectation and it had nothing to do with football. Our sport takes up a significant amount of our conversation and calendar. It was great to spend date night as a coach’s wife without anyone associating that title with our adventure.

So go ahead and plan a surprise for your favorite coach, you may just surprise yourself too and hit a bullseye on the target at the same time.