I watched Casey, Jamie and Zachary (one of Wendy's wee wards on some days) while Phil and Wendy worked in the kitchen. We hauled a bowling ball and three pins (all real, not kid toys) out into the reception area from the back room and they "bowled." I was the pin girl. The main part of my job was to stand behind the pins (after setting them up each time for the next bowler) and be sure the ball (which was rolled, not thrown) didn't hit the wall behind the pins. No, my shins aren't black and blue this morning; I deflected the oncoming 12 pound ball each time with the heel of one foot.
As the moms, dads, and more kids arrived, I put the bowling ball and pins away and repaired to the kitchen to see what else I could to to get the prepared foods, utensils and plates placed on the tables.
Not long after there was a general rush for the food and lots and lots of laughing -- and a couple instances of spilled food. I helped Jamie get her food after her first attempt landed on the floor -- very early on (She had a tortilla with a little cheese on it that went ker-flop). (Jamie likes to do things by herself, but sometimes she discovers she needs a little help!)
After dinner, Wendy awarded each of the soccer girls with a small trophy, a certificate showcasing their special, most outstanding talent (Most Improved, Best Left Foot, Real Go-Getter...) and spent at least three or four minutes explaining to the audience of moms, dads and a few bigger brothers how much the player contributed to the game this year and why they were being singled out for a special certificate of achievement as well as the trophy. Wendy is FABULOUS at this, as she is as a coach. She genuinely cares about and loves every one of these kids (ages 6-7) and it shows every minute. She's a blessing without limit. One of the moms presented her with a special album (very professional) of the kids playing soccer this year and a gift card to a restaurant so she and Phil can go out and have a dinner "on the team."
Just an aside that needs mentioning: Wendy could be making real money coaching high school and college soccer players, but while her kids are young, she's sticking with teaching the younger set because she loves them all so much and loves watching them grow as players under her tutelage. Because she is, they'll be among the top players as they get older. She teaches them right, and expects them to play by the rules... but she does it with such love and patience that it astonishes me. I'm awfully patient with kids, but Wendy is close to sainthood with them, in my eyes. All they ever see out of her is love.
After the banquet and awards ceremony, dessert was served consisting of three kinds of special treats (ice cream, striped delight, and cookies). Most of the kids and adults enjoyed at least two of the three options, so the room became very boisterous afterward as dads watched kids racing all over the church and moms cleaned up in the kitchen.
It was a good evening.
This morning when I got up, Casey was standing at the doorway to my side of the house (Wendy, Casey and Jamie stayed overnight at Jackie's) with a folded piece of paper behind her back, grinning. I asked her, "What'cha got there, girl?" and she handed it to me. It was a huge *aaaawwwwwwwwww* to me.
She drew borders around the piece of paper and then, using colorful splotches of color intermittently, she wrote an ode: