Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Hot, hot, hot!

It's been scorching in western New York recently - not a good thing for our guys out there practicing during training camp. Ryan had to take extra reps yesterday because one of the other tight ends sat out with a foot injury. After all was said and done, he lost 9 lbs in two hours!!!! That's pretty scary. Ryan spent the rest of the day rehydrating and he's fine. This will happen a couple more times during camp, without a doubt. It's just the way it goes. Thank goodness the Bills have several night practices planned - it helps beat the heat!

Monday, July 30, 2007

I'm sorry!

You know, toddlers are hard enough to deal with when they are "normal." Having one that is developmentally delayed and that has some "issues" as I like to call them is exponentially harder. A normal child Will's age would be able to communicate his wants and needs. Instead, I have to play a guessing game when he's flipping out hysterically crying in the middle of a restaurant. I'm not skilled in the language of "hysterical toddler," so I usually lose that battle. Which is exactly what happened last night.

A good friend of mine was in Toronto last week for a conference. She and her husband drove all the way to Buffalo which is no easy feat on a Sunday with all of the folks fighting to get back over the border. We decided to meet at the Anchor Bar - home of the original buffalo wings. It's an institution here in Buffalo. It has a family-friendly atmosphere so I thought bringing Will along would be a good idea.

WRONG! Will was a menace. It all started about two minutes after we walked in the restaurant. Will wanted to get down and run around - something I wasn't about to let him do. Things went downhill from there. He started screaming! I took him outside to calm him down for a bit, and that worked temporarily. Once we sat down at the table, he just let loose. I spent a majority of my time with my friends apologizing and trying to explain Will's behavior. Had this been any other restaurant on any other day, we would've just gotten up and left, but that wasn't really an option. Thankfully my friends were wonderfully understanding. I cried all the way home though, just exhausted and thoroughly embarassed. I decided then that it will be a while before we take another trip out to a restaurant.

I feel like I spend a good amount of time trying to explain Will's behavior or apologizing for it. Usually, when we first get into a social situation, I immediately explain that Will's a late talker and has some developmental delays. Getting that out of the way early usually alleviates some of the judgmental stares we get from people. But constantly having to explain your child gets exhausting. I find it much easier to avoid situations where I might actually have to do some 'splaining. I know this is just a phase and that Will will eventually grow out of it, but I'm sure hoping it comes sooner rather than later.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Beyonce bit it!!!

Poor Beyonce - did anyone see the video of her fall during her Orlando concert this week? Beyonce was dancing to "Ring the Alarm" - she was swinging her weave around and gyrating like only Beyonce can do. She turned to walk down some steps when she slid down several of them and then went face first down the rest. But Beyonce is a "Survivor" - she got right back up and started swinging her weave again.

I just want Beyonce to know she shouldn't feel too bad - it happens to the best of us. Like the time when I was in high school cheering on our basketball team when a toe touch went awry and I landed in the bleachers on my backside. Miss USA even busted her butt on national t.v. a couple of months ago when she slipped and fell on her behind during the Miss Universe pageant - ON INTERNATIONAL TELEVISION! Unfortunately for Beyonce, this is the digital age and she was so certain her fall was going to end up on YouTube that she PLEADED with the audience not to post the grainy cellphone videos she knew her audience members were shooting. Her desperate pleas for her dignity weren't heard - the video was everywhere! I even saw the clip on Inside Edition last night.

Beyonce's fall teaches us all a good lesson though - when you stumble, just get back up and swing that weave girlfriend! Be a Survivor, and thank God you won't end up on YouTube!!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Today's the day...

Ryan's heading off to report to camp later this afternoon. He's going to be gone about 3.5 weeks. It's not a tremendously long time, but it gets tough being a single parent. I stop feeling sorry for myself when I think about military families whose loved ones get shipped off to the Middle East for months, even years. I'll just take things day-by-day.

Here's a little blip Ryan is featured in from the website www.billsdaily.com:

Who Will Play H-Back? The tight end situation is a crazy one for the Bills since they are likely to keep four on the roster as they need two that can play the H-Back spot. The team is not carrying any fullbacks because they like the versatility of a tight end to play the H-back. There are three tight ends who fit that role, Ryan Neufeld, Brad Cieslak, and Derek Schouman. Neufeld has played that position in the past and Cieslak saw some time there last year when Neufeld and Daimon Shelton were hurt. That makes this a two man race with Schouman probably destined for the practice squad. Expect Neufeld to win out.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

It's that time of year again!

They're two words most NFL wives dread hearing - TRAINING CAMP. Those two words elicit a range of emotions - fear, excitement, exhaustion - and not for our husbands, but for us! Once a year, our guys pack up their bags and head to a local college to get ready for the season. For three-and-a-half weeks, the guys practice hard, sometimes twice a day. Injuries happen - getting hurt during the preseason can be devastating as it may impact your chances of making the team. The team needs healthy players who can contribute after all. The guys will play several preseason games against other teams - this allows the coaches to work on their game plan execution while giving them the opportunity to analyze the talent on the team. They have to have an opportunity to analyze talent because the roster will be cut by thirty guys by the time the season begins. That's right - almost half the guys who start out in training camp will get cut at some point. Every single year, Ryan always seems to be one of those guys on the bubble who may or may not make the team. He's been cut several times before, and it's the worst feeling in the world. Knowing that possibility is real, and knowing the emotions that come along with it can be terrifying. But Ryan is going to make a good run at the starting fullback job this year. He's feeling healthy and, I dare say, confident. So we're both looking forward to an exciting camp!

So Ryan leaves on Wednesday to report to training camp at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, New York. That's about an hour-and-a-half away depending on how fast you drive. For almost a month, I'm a single parent, managing the household, taking out the trash, paying all the bills. Wait, I do that most of the time anyway. But it is the most difficult time of the year. Taking care of Will solo is no easy task. We manage though - I think we're going to have lots of trips to the zoo and Chuck E. Cheese's in our future.

I try to get to camp once or twice a week to check on Ryan and see how things are going. I love watching practice - you can feel the excitement in the air as the new season approaches. The fans cheer when one of the receivers makes a catch - they boo if a pass is dropped. The fans line up for autographs after practice - not mine, of course. Although I've tried to give it out a couple of times without any takers.

People ask me all the time if I'm a football fan because of Ryan. The answer is "no." My father was a high school football coach, and he cultivated my love for the game early on. When I was little, he would take my sisters and I to the Dallas Cowboys camp in Thousand Oaks, California. I have loved the game since I was little. Having a husband who plays the sport is a wonderful bonus.

Stay tuned for my training camp adventures!!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Spice up your life!!!

Okay, I'm going to admit it - I'm a Spice Girls fan. Always have been. I was one of those people who saw the movie Spice World and LIKED IT!!! I think I have it on DVD somewhere. And you guessed it - I have all the CDs. If the reunited Spice Girls come anywhere near Buffalo on their reunion tour, I'm there.

So naturally, I tuned into Victoria Beckham's (a.k.a. Posh Spice) new reality show the other night - Victoria Beckham's Coming to America. It was hilarious! There is something incredibly witty and funny about the show. I was cracking up as I watched Posh pose for her driver's license photo. And to see her catwalking around in black stilettos as she kicked it by the pool was too much. I can't wait to tune in next week.

And seeing David Beckham shirtless on the show was just an added bonus! :)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Thank You Nashville!!!!

Nashville has a new fan.

Ryan and I have been involved with Garth Brooks' Teammates for Kids foundation for several years now. Teammates is an awesome foundation - it triple matches the donations made by professional athletes and 100% of every dollar goes to children's charities. Check out the foundation at www.teammatesforkids.com Every year, as a "thank you" to the participating athletes, Mr. Brooks hosts an all-star VIP event. The past couple of events have been in Las Vegas, but this year, the foundation mixed it up and hosted the event in Nashville.

We stayed at the Gaylord Opryland which is an incredible hotel. On our first night in town, Mr. Brooks hosted a barbecue in his "barn" at his house. Now, this isn't one of those barns you see crumbling on the side of the road. This place was amazing and huge! We were able to check out Garth's old tour bus, some of his concert sets, his awards, etc. I can't begin to say how cool that was.

The following day, my good friend Ashley took us out for some good ol' Nashville shopping. I am absolutely in love with an area called Green Hills. I could live there. After visiting Tennessee as I child, I swore I'd never go back, but I lied. This community was simply amazing.

That night, we had a really special treat. We sat at tables on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry, ate a wonderful dinner, and then enjoyed a wonderful acoustic concert by Garth and his wife Trisha Yearwood. Our friend Ross Tucker had a once-in-a-lifetime experience when Trisha called him up to the stage and asked him to sing with her. Can you even imagine!!!!

But hands down, the highlight of the trip was being able to hang out with our friends we haven't seen in years. A bunch of Ryan's old Buffalo teammates were there. It was like old times. When we were leaving the bar on our last night there, I got a little misty eyed knowing it would be a while before we were all in the same place hanging out again. So we're looking forward to attending the event next year which we think will be back in Vegas. We'll be there!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Oh, how I've grown

I have a little bit of a short temper. I'm very impatient, and the smallest things can set me off. It's probably one of my biggest faults.

I've grown over the years though. I've made a cognitive effort to really try to find my "zen zone" in these situations. But some people just make it so darn hard. This evening, I went to a local art supplies store for it's monthly "Midnight Madness" sale to stock up on scrapbooking supplies - everyone else in Buffalo was there too. The lines were all very long and I was fortunate to hop right in front when a young lady opened her register. I had a lot of single sheets of decorative paper - they are a pain to ring up because you have to do them one by one. Sure enough, the girl behind me turned to the people behind her and said "I guess I got in the wrong line." This made me so mad - she said it as if I wasn't even standing there.

See, the Dawn of five years ago would've said something. A few choice cuss words probably would've come out of my mouth while I told this girl off. But not today. I just took a deep breath and kept looking forward. This girl kept talking though. I finally gave her a little glance so as to say "okay, you're pushing me now." I was so proud of myself for not just completely going off though. You've had those moments, haven't you, where you just wanted to give someone a piece of your mind but instead you kept your mouth shut and felt better for it?

I really hope that girl gets stuck in long lines for the rest of the month. She needs to learn a lesson in patience!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Flying the friendly skies!!!

I know you're all anxiously awaiting to hear about our Nashville trip - I will try to get to that tomorrow. I just wanted to give a quick commentary on our travels.

We flew Southwest to both Los Angeles and Nashville. I wasn't a huge fan of Southwest's boarding policies - I hated that even though I had a group A boarding pass, I felt like I had to sit on the floor and wait with all the other group A psychos to make sure I got to choose just the seat I wanted. But I have to admit, I will go out of my way to fly Southwest in the future because our recent experiences have been so pleasant. While US Airways was cancelling flights left and right last week to the same places we were headed, Southwest was always right on time without cancellations. They are one of very few airlines that still let you pre-board with kids without a bunch of extra drama, and they still serve snacks and peanuts for free. The snacks aren't great, but it's a little added customer service move by Southwest that is greatly appreciated.

I learned a lesson while flying though. Ryan and I won't sit next to each other anymore, and here's why. Ryan's a big dude - at 6'4", his weight fluctuates between 245 - 260 lbs. Then there's me - I weigh a little more than half of what Ryan weighs at his heaviest. Ryan and I were comfortably seated in the emergency row when this rather large gentleman decided to plop down next to me. He was a big dude - well over 300 lbs. If I had to guess, he was knockin' on 400 lbs. So there I was, smushed between these two large men like the filling in an Oreo cookie. I was claustrophobic all of a sudden.

Problem was, this guy wasn't considerate at all that he was infringing on my airplane space. He didn't make any effort whatsoever to maybe keep his elbows in a little tighter or to keep his legs a little closer together. When it was all said and done, he probably took up half of my space. His left leg was underneath the chair in front of ME! I understand that as a big guy, he may already be a little self-conscious about his weight, he may feel bad that he's taking up extra room, etc. But based on his actions, he didn't seem to mind much at all that I was squished. It made the ride very uncomfortable as his thigh was constantly rubbing against mine the entire trip. Ick. Only person's thighs I want to be rubbing up against are Ryan's. LOL.

So, lesson learned. Ryan is either going to sit in the middle seat (which he did yesterday when I asked him - thanks, babe) or we're going to sit in different rows. I'm cool on the Oreo cookie thing.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Ryan - the H-Back!

There was an awesome write up on Ryan on the Buffalo Bills website this week - ENJOY!

#11: Who Will Start At H-Back?
by Chris Ostrander, Contributing Correspondent Last Updated: 7/11/2007 1:03 PM ET

As training camp fast approaches Buffalobills.com prepares you by trying to answer the top 20 questions facing the Bills in 2007. Monday through Friday until the day before training camp, Buffalobills.com will present each of the key issues facing the team in an effort to have you the fan primed for all the action at St. John Fisher. Don't stray far from Buffalobills.com!

As the Bills offense settles into their second year under coordinator Steve Fairchild it is inevitable that the players will be more comfortable with the system they are running.

The offense has made big strides in the spring camps and quarterback J.P. Losman has even been quoted as saying they are farther ahead now than they were at any time last year.

With the continued evolution of the team comes the ability to expand certain packages, such as the no huddle, which was used frequently during OTAs and mini camps. While the no huddle will play a larger role in 2007, one of the biggest changes in the offense has been the installation of the h-back position.

One might question the use of an H-back to that of a traditional fullback, but there's something that an H-back bring can offer that a fullback does not. Versatility.

Previously, Daimon Shelton was the lead blocker for the Bills ball carrier. Now the position will be filled by one of the tight ends on the Buffalo's roster. And Brad Cieslak and Ryan Neufeld are the leading candidates.

The H-back in the Bills offense will not differ much from what previous fullbacks did in terms of responsibilities. The man who fills that position will still lead block for the Bills tailbacks, but they will also provide a great number of options as a receiver coming out of the backfield.

"Tight ends give you a little more flexibility because you don't throw it to the fullback all that much. In the passing game there's more flexibility," said Fairchild. "The role from a schematic standpoint is kind of similar; we're just doing it with tight ends."

In an offense that has appears poised to open up this season, having more weapons on the field in any given situation will provide the Bills with more ways of attacking opposing defenses.

"I think we can do a lot more stuff and not have to change personnel whereas if there was a true fullback on the roster it kind of narrows it down for the defense as to what our offense can do," said Neufeld.

Although this is the first year that the position will be utilized, when Shelton was injured last year Neufeld and Cieslak both stepped in to fill the void. Fairchild had a lot to say about both veterans and their ability to play the position. Neufeld's versatility is something that makes him a very attractive candidate.

"Last year we had him line up at fullback after Daimon Shelton got knocked out of a game," said Fairchild. "He functioned back there and had a feel for some of the inside the box traffic responsibilities that a fullback has to handle."

Cieslak's prior experience from last season and the time that he spent at the position in college will help him learn the nuances of the position and make a run at the starting job.

"I did a little bit of it in college and did some of that fullback-H-back stuff when Daimon went down last year," said Cieslak. "Going on the move it helps you out in a lot of ways. It's nice to have the opportunity to do more of it because you can really see what the defense is doing and where people are heading and as a result execute your assignments a little easier."

Although Cieslak and Neufeld are the two incumbents at the position, rookie Derek Schouman should not be ruled out of the mix. Schouman was Boise State's H-back in college.

While Schouman does hold an advantage over the veterans in time spent at the position he is still green to the NFL game, which will be the biggest hurdle he will need to clear.

"That's what he did at Boise State," said Fairchild. "He was that type of guy. He wasn't a point of attack guy, but more of a move tight end guy. He's more in our plans for that kind of role, so how much he can do we'll find out."

Although Schouman has had the most experience recently, he still needs to fine tune his game for the NFL. Training camp should produce an excellent battle between Cieslak and Neufeld to see who will be the starter.

The determining factor will likely be blocking, which means padded practices and preseason games will carry a lot of weight when it comes to the staff's final decision.

Neufeld saw more reps with the first team this spring and has shown he's capable as a blocker in the run game. Cieslak however, has a stockier build at 253 pounds so don't think that Neufeld will earn the role easily. The battle for the starting role should prove to be one of the most interesting competitions in training camp.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

It's good to be home!!!

I've never been so happy to be back in Buffalo! We had an awesome time in Los Angeles, but our trip was exhausting. You know how it is when you go "home" for a visit - the traveling alone is enough to wear you out, especially when traveling cross country with a toddler. Throw in a dose of family drama, a southern California heat wave and running around visiting family and friends, and I'm ready to hibernate!

I wouldn't have traded my trip for the world though. We had an awesome time. We spent a wonderful 4th of July at granny's house enjoying good food, music and fireworks. This was the first year Will really got the whole fireworks thing, and he loved it!

The highlight of the week though was our Rockstar party. We had such a blast hanging out with everyone. We were able to catch up with friends we hadn't seen in years while kickin' it in the club!

Of course, we were out until 2 a.m. (um, that's 5 a.m. EST) and had to be up four hours later to head to the valley for a 7/7/07 wedding. My godsister Jill got married in a wonderful outdoor ceremony. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful week.

We're off again tomorrow though - Ryan and I are headed to Nashville for the Garth Brooks' Teammates for Kids Foundation appreciation weekend. We've been involved with the foundation for several years now. The foundation benefits a wide array of children's charities. The event will be great! We're going to a barbecue at Garth's barn tomorrow night. How cool is that? I bet it's unlike any barn I've ever seen. On Thursday night Garth will perform for us at the Grand Ole Opry. A bunch of our friends are going to be there so it's sure to be a blast.

My 31st birthday is Friday - that's right - I turn 31 on Friday the 13th. I need to hit up a casino somewhere! I'll post all about my continuing adventures over the weekend!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Party like a rockstar!!!!

Tomorrow night is going to be incredibly exciting - Ryan is headlining a party in downtown Los Angeles at the Trifecta Lounge. This is a pretty exciting gig - New Orleans Saints star Reggie Bush headlined the event a couple of weeks ago. We have friends and family coming from all over to this event. Our good friends John and Stacie even decided to fly in from Sacramento for the weekend just so they could make it to the party. It's going to be a blast. I'm sure I'll have lots of stories and pictures to tell.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

When the lights go out...

We spent a very warm southern California afternoon in a nice, cool movie theater. Ryan, my nephew Corey and I decided to check out Transformers before heading to our favorite sushi spot for dinner. The movie was incredible - so.much.fun! I was pleasantly surprised - I had no idea I'd enjoy it so much. I highly recommend it.

My sister Andrea (Corey's mom) had been watching Will and met up with us at our sushi joint. We'd ordered our food and were contentedly eating edamame when all the lights went out. Alarms starting ringing. A voice came over the P.A. system - "Stay calm. A fire alert is being investigated. Do not panic." Well, we didn't. Everyone seemed to ignore the alarm. The waitresses continued to deliver martinis, sushi boats were being enjoyed by the customers, etc. It was really interesting. I don't think any of us every wondered if there was a real emergency. We'd all just assumed it was nothing.

After sitting in the dark for about thirty minutes, we realized this was not a small deal. Sure enough, the entire complex, which is huge (the Howard Hughes Center in L.A.), was in the dark. Apparently there had been a small electrical fire in the parking structure. We heard rumors that it would be hours until the power was back on. I guess we'll have to wait until our next L.A. trip to enjoy our favorite sushi. But it was such an incredible exhibition on how we react to alarms. Thank goodness it wasn't a major emergency.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Have you ever cried in an airport?

I have - at least twice. When I was in law school, I had gone to visit Ryan over a long weekend in Dallas when he played for the Cowboys. This was before 9/11 when you could still walk a person up to the gate. We said our goodbyes and as I walked towards the plane, I just lost it. I had no idea when I'd see Ryan again.

A couple of years ago, I got word that a good friend had been killed in a horrific accident. I booked a flight from Buffalo to Los Angeles and I think I cried all the way home.

Today, in the airport in Las Vegas, I cried. After having a really pleasant flight from Buffalo to Vegas, Will just completely lost it. Little guy decided to forego his mid-day nap and boy did we pay for it. He SCREAMED for about 20 minutes while we waited to board our connecting flight to Los Angeles. I was cool for a little while - I pretended to ignore the stares of all the other waiting passengers while I tried to calm my exorcist-possessed child. But after a while, that didn't work. I could see all of these people staring at me with these accusatory looks saying "why don't you do something?" Thing is, there was nothing I could do. So I just let him scream. And I cried.

That was rough. We made it to L.A. without further incident. And Will still hasn't napped. Hell hath no fury like a two-year-old who hasn't napped... And this scares me...

Los Angeles, here we come!

We leave this morning for our week-long trip to Los Angeles. We have so many plans - 4th of July with the family (you've never experienced the 4th until you've experienced it with Auntie Alice), going to a wedding, the beach, Magic Mountain. I'm sure to have plenty to post about. I hope to do it while I'm gone but I'm not sure if mom's internet connection will cooperate this week. And I'm too lazy to go to the Starbucks around the corner to take advantage of the free wi-fi. Hopefully you'll hear from me soon!