Monday, January 11, 2010

Surprise phone call -- college basketball!

Andy got an unexpected phone call New Years’ Eve - his baseball coach called to see if Andy Hall would be willing to fill in on the basketball team for a few games, since they were short handed. When he told me about it, I asked him if he wanted to, and he said, yes, but didn't know if it would work. A phone call determined that it would mean going back to school a week earlier than originally planned, actually on his birthday, Jan 3rd.

But what an opportunity! The Raiders have one of the best winning traditions in junior college basketball. They are coached by the legendary Gene Bess, who has averaged almost 28 wins per season in his 39 years as head coach and has lead his teams to 20 Missouri Region 16 championships and 29 national junior college championships.

So, we took care of the remaining things he needed to do and Dan drove him back to school on Sunday for a 3 pm practice. He practiced the next day with them before joining them on a road trip to Alabama, where they played Jan 5th. Andy got 8 minutes of playing time and really got the attention of the announcer, who really seemed to enjoy the novelty of a baseball player on the team, and talked about him alot, even asking the head coach about him after the game.

He got to play again Saturday night in a home game. Even though that means a 2 1/2 hour drive for us, Dan and I made the trip, and it was well worth it, because the team is really fun to watch. It was a conference and region game, so pretty important, but after they built up a 20 point lead at the half, they gave Andy lots of playing time, and he got a couple rebounds and scored. It was amazing how many people seemed to be especially rooting for him. In fact, after the game, several people, when finding out who we were, told us how glad they were to have him on the team. We shook hands with both the legendary coach Bess and his son, who seems to be the head coach during the game. Andy tells us that the elder coach's knowledge of the game is amazing, and that he is very involved in the coaching.

The biggest compliment to Andy, however, is that the basketball coaches told him he could continue to play with the team as long as he wanted. But baseball started today, and he decided that since the basketball team really didn't need him anymore, he would just do baseball. We're disappointed, because it was so fun to watch him play basketball again (tonight's game was a blow-out -- something like 130-40, so he would definitely have gotten to play), but we think he made a wise and mature decision.

So it was a brief, but fun interlude!

Home Again

We returned home again on December 28th, taking the short way this time (all interstate). It was a good trip, but everyone was glad to be home, especially since we hadn't opened our own presents to each other yet. We did that on New Years' Eve Day, and then enjoyed the day relaxing around the house. Friends came over later that evening, and we played games and talked the New Year in -- pretty low key, but enjoyable.
New Year's Day, we always watch the Rose Parade, though it still seems strange to have to wait until 10 am for it to start! Cinnamon rolls are traditional for Christmas Day, but since they didn't turn out very well in Georgia, Becky made them for us again for New Years Day, and they turned out really good... I ate too many.

Christmas in Georgia

We got an invitation to spend Christmas in Georgia with the family of Dan's brother, David.
Even though it broke our family rule to not travel for consecutive Christmases, we thought we should go, since they often spend Christmas in Germany (our sister-in-law, Susann, is from the Black Forest region of Germany) and we didn't know when we'd have another opportunity.
So, on Dec. 21st, we loaded up two cars (we don't all fit in one anymore, since our big van was totaled) and drove to Georgia. We made the drive in one long day. Highlights: being able to split up kids who weren't traveling well together!, Abby driving through a city for the first time(Memphis, memorable), Becky driving in city traffic for the first time (Birmingham), culture shock in Alabama (gas station).
Once in Georgia, we settled into a very nice double-wide mobile home which serves as a second home to our family -- their original home and acreage is about 2 miles down the road, and that was the base for meals and fun. With that many people (8 of us, 11 Georgia Halls, plus Grandma and Grandpa), we spent a lot of time in kitchen, preparing meals and cleaning up. But there was also time for a lot of visiting and games inside as well as riding motorized vehicles and the horse outside, not to mention serious Bocce ball competitions after presents were opened.
We enjoyed getting to visit Dave and Susann's church in Perry, which is a mission congregation just a few years old, as well as taking a quick trip to see their original home in Perry, which we had visited 13 years before (Zeke was very little). Funny how different we remember things many years later! I remember the pecan tree groves, though when we were there years ago, the trees were green and bearing. It was funny to see cotton fields that were not harvested yet - In December. It was cold, but not as cold as Missouri, and we were able to spend a lot of time outside, since it only rained briefly on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Ball

Becky, Abby and Zeke have come to really enjoy English Country Dancing. A highlight of the year is the Christmas Ball, when people get especially dressed up and bring lots of yummy food. Since Andy was home, and a willing babysitter, Dan and I got to go as well. Somewhere we have a picture of us all dressed up -- I think on Becky's blog, since it was taken by her camera. Dan survived a few dances, and all of us had fun visiting with friends and eating very good food.

A late18th Century Christmas Dinner

On Friday, December 18th, Abby and I hosted 9 lovely young ladies and their moms for dinner. This event was the celebration after spending the fall reading and discussing the book The Scarlet Pimpernel, including learning about the styles, food, and manners of the time. We figured out that by moving some furniture, we could seat everyone at one long table. It was a lovely, several course dinner. The girls prepared and served all the food. After dessert, they had a gift exchange and sang Christmas songs and then, we had tea (as if we needed MORE food!). I forgot that my lovely teapot had been broken and glued back together...needless to say, it didn't hold tea very well, so the tea ended up in a plastic pitcher. Not as lovely, but it worked!
It was a chaotic night, since Dan had to leave in the middle of it to open the church gym, and Elizabeth and Isaac didn't enjoying waiting in the basement with Zeke until he returned with pizza and a movie for them. Then, Becky and Andy arrived home(Andy went up to Kirksville to pick Becky up after her last final Friday morning). To top it all off, we got our first snow of the season, which fortunately, was beautiful and very light!! So we had to put our boots on and tromp through the snow to the shed, where we watched "The Scarlet Pimpernel" in our "theatre" on the big screen -- quite an experience with a bunch of giggly girls. After the movie, the old folks went to bed, though I think Becky and Dan stayed up to talk quite late, but Abby and her friends had a sleep-over. I think they got some sleep :)

RHAA hosts teams from Arkansas, Game day

RHAA decided to have a "tournament" of sorts right here in Rolla, and teamed it with a visit from the homeschool group from Jonesboro, Arkansas the weekend of Dec 11th. They came up for 3 games between our groups on Friday night, then spent the night for their 14U boys to participate in our Game Day. We also were able to get two other teams to come to town to give their varsity teams another game. It was a total of 14 games, and very exhausting, but a lot of fun! Our teams didn't win many games, but they played well, and I think learned a lot. Our next Game Day, for 14U girls, is less than 2 weeks away.

A little behind..

Yup, I'm a little behind. Too busy living life to blog... here's a bit of a catch up..