Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Yippee Yippee, JJ is Three!

We celebrated JJ this weekend with a birthday party full of friends! It rained/poured the whole day, which I'm pretty sure means he'll be rich when he grows up (or that someone is talking about him?), so I was glad we didn't go the park route this year for party venue. JJ has become increasingly wary of large crowds, even if they're friends, so he spent some time up in his bedroom with mommy and/or G.G. before coming back down for cake. This was what happened when people started singing Happy Birthday:

This is what happened when people stopped singing and he got to eat an M&M:

And when he realized he would get to eat a whole piece of turtle cake:

 This was after everyone went home and we were having some family snuggle time on the couch:

Here's our little man over the last few months. He's a lot of fun (and some days a lot of work), but we always end the day by cuddling and loving on each other. I couldn't be more proud of the little man that he is. He is kind hearted, energetic, silly, and loving. He is an explorer, a puzzle master, a singer and dancer. He remembers every book or TV show he's ever seen (which the doctor says means he's smart and not autistic) and whisper-reads in the morning so he doesn't wake up Mommy with his play. He is a great care taker of his fish Race Car and frog Walrus. He loves beans and rice and cheese, but it's cookies that truly have his heart and stomach. Nothing makes him happier than a good game of "JJ, where are you?" He gives hugs and kisses when we need them and takes big dinosaur steps wherever we go. He's a good classmate, unless you try to play with him. He has a lot of friends who make him smile and giggle with delight. JJ hugs my tummy and tells me that the baby is in there. He will be a great big brother, I am sure. We love you to the moon and back, buddy! Happy 3rd birthday!

(This is in IKEA. Eventually he worked his way under the covers and took a much-deserved rest.)

Bye Bye, Bobcats!

The latest in Charlotte sports news is that the Bobcats will officially change their name to the Hornets beginning with the 2014-2015 season. The players and coaches will be, for the most part, the same (besides the usual trades, drafts, and expiring contracts), but I can't help but feel sad during this transition. We have been season ticket holders for the past 3 years, and saw the Bobcats through their losing-est seasons (we had the worst record in NBA history one season...that was fun.). We are not just fans of the Bobcats. They feel like family to me. Before you (or as you) roll your eyes at this claim, please know that I realize this sounds ridiculous. But if you saw our day-to-day life, you would think it was less so. 

The Bobcats have changed our family in several ways. JJ plays basketball either at the park or in our house (he has 3 hoops, as well as hoops at both grandparents' houses) for about 40% of each day. And boy does he take it seriously! After every successful shot, he calls out a Bobcats player's name, and we all have to repeat it and cheer. Some of the players haven't been on the team for 2 years, but we remember them fondly--and sometimes see a few of them on the opposing team on game days. His current favorites are Gerald Henderson, Kemba Walker, and Ramon Sessions (no longer a Bobcat), Jeffrey Taylor (injured all season), Brendan Haywood (also injured all season). It feels like a player has finally "made it" when JJ adds them to his rotation--CDR, Big Al Jefferson, Josh McRoberts, Gary Neal, and Luke Ridnour are some of the newest.  Sometimes he just calls out "DEFENSE" and we all have to clap. In recent months his style has evolved to a more realistic style of play, which includes a lot of shots on the run, falling down as he shoots (to draw the foul, obviously), and one-handed slam dunking. To say that JJ loves basketball is an understatement. To say that "JJ loves basketball is an understatement" is an understatement. This kid breathes the game. I know that the Bobcats have played a huge part in this, and that it wasn't just the $10 Little Tikes hoop that I bought at the Salvation Army a few years ago. 

It's exciting for me too. The Bobcats made me like NBA basketball, which I never thought would happen. When Jim bought our first season tickets 3 years ago, it was as a business expense, since he thought he would be bringing potential clients and partners to the games. This was during the strike, and there was an abbreviated season offered after they reached a settlement. We had an opt-out option, where we could return the tickets and get all of our money back. I told Jim to take it, and that I didn't want to support the "Divas" in the NBA (to be fair, I still think there are plenty of divas in the league, but none of them have ended up on the Bobcats). He didn't take it, and I am so glad that he didn't listen to me (but only that time. All of the other times he hasn't listened to me were obviously huge mistakes.) After the first game that we went to as a family, we were hooked. JJ was clearly into it, I had a great time, and we got to spend it as a family.

Because we were there for them during their lowest seasons, I feel a sense of ownership over the team. I took it personally when the city wanted to change the name to the Hornets to bring back "better times." We were having a GREAT time with the Bobcats, even through so many tough losses. I felt like no one was giving them a chance and basing their opinions on the good ol' days of winning. Renaming the team wasn't going to be a magic bean that grew a winning team. I have since grown to adjust my opinion about the change. Since the name change was announced, I have seen a tremendous shift in the crowds at the games. Butts are in seats, they're cheering, and the players are responding to the enthusiasm. With the acquisition of Al Jefferson, this team has turned into a playoff team (we're currently battling the Heat), and for the first time in a long time, the Bobcats are in the playoffs. I am proud of our fans for supporting the team now. It was not all talk and reminiscing. It was a true desire for a return of the love of basketball in Charlotte. And it has arrived.

We love to wear our Bobcats gear. 

One of JJ's first games as a Bobcats fan. 

Rufus may be the part of the Bobcats that I will miss the most. He is a little sleazy, but really athletic and loves to dance alongside the Lady Cats. He's got a great sense of humor, and the cat can dunk a basketball. JJ has spent a lot of time with Rufus over the years, and has grown increasing excited about seeing him. As you can see, JJ started out pretty skeptical.

Jim caught a Tshirt!

Big Al Jefferson (we may change our story to say that JJ was named after him. He has turned our team around for sure!)

We will miss the Bobcats dearly. They have made such a difference in our lives and I am forever grateful for the positive impact they have had on our son. I am hoping that Baby #2 will love basketball as much as we do. 

I am excited for what the Hornets have in store for our city and for the team. So...bbbbzzzzzzzzzzz. Let's go Hornets!