Thursday, November 2, 2017

Confessions of an NFL Wife {The Confessions Series}

Hey friends!  Welcome to my very first post in my new Confessions Series and link up! 


Every 1st Thursday of the month, I'll be sharing a "confessions" post and I hope you'll join me!  To join in, just grab the image below, link back to here and link up below!  It doesn't matter if it's an old post or a new one.  It can be super serious, totally random, funny, cute, quirky...there are no rules!

(Also, since this is the first time we've ever done this, I am not expecting a huge turnout.  But I hope you'll join in next month if you didn't this time!  I'll also be adding new co-hosts sporadically so let me know in the comments if you are interested!)

And now, the fun stuff.  

Let me start by saying that I am a pretty basic chick.  I know there are negative connotations to being "basic" these days but I own my basic-ness.  :)

I'm a suburban boymom who works her tail off building a successful Etsy business while also trying to be a good wife, daughter, and friend.

I love to read, watch Bravo & HGTV, shop online, and stay up way too late. 

I love beauty products, makeup, and cute shoes.

 I love my friends and girls nights are my jam.  You will very rarely find me giving a reason why I cannot attend a girls night.  I will make it work.


I am a Christian.  And I am, and will always be, a work-in-progress.

So with all of that, I'm sure a lot of you are thinking, "Yep.  Sounds a lot like me!" #weshouldbefriends

However, there is one super cool, awesome and amazing thing that I have been lucky enough to experience that isn't quite so ordinary.

I was an NFL wife.

I know a lot of you who read my post about the Packers weekend a few weeks ago are all "OMG.  Enough already.  We get it."

I cringe thinking about you saying that.  I cringe even typing out the term "NFL wife".  (See, I just cringed again.)  I'm not sure what else to call it though.

But after that post, it is definitely the most asked about topic I get in emails.  Followed closely by "What kind of machine do you use for your business?".  (Silhouette Cameo for those who are wondering.)

So this is why I thought it would make a great first Confessions post.  I'm going to answer a few questions that I've gotten from emails and direct messages on Instagram and then just go from there.

And to be totally and completely honest here, I get that it's the only thing about me that is cool.  I always feel weird talking about it because (like I said the other day) I absolutely do not want to come across as braggy/entitled/superior/boastful etc etc etc...

My hubby was not a big name guy.  He didn't have multi-million dollar contracts.  He was a backup quarterback behind Brett Favre for most of his career.  And Brett Favre would play with a broken leg if he had to.  ;)

We had fun.  It was an amazing time in our lives.  And it feels like an absolute LIFETIME ago.

So here are some of the main questions I get.

How did you meet your husband?

This is probably the #1 question I get asked.  Sometimes this question is asked with complete curiosity.  And sometimes I can tell whoever is asking it is really asking if I met him BEFORE or AFTER he started playing in the NFL.  I get it.  It's some people's way of finding out if I was a gold-digger, fangirl or groupie.  (Not that meeting your husband after he started playing in the NFL means you are one, of course.)

But I met my husband when he transferred over to Northwestern State (in Natchitoches, Louisiana) from LSU.  He had been at LSU for 4 years and wasn't happy with the quarterback situation he was in he so transferred over his last year of eligibility.  

At the time, I was still a sophomore and thoroughly enjoying my college experience.  I was in the best sorority on campus (in my opinion of course!), a biology major on an academic scholarship, the new Miss Northwestern (the school's pageant) and a social butterfly. I was not quite ready to settle down.



Craig and I dated from September to December and then it was time for him to graduate.  He was going to Colorado for awhile to train for the NFL combines and I wasn't ready to commit to a serious, long-distance relationship.  So we broke up after just 3 months together.  But we stayed in constant contact and he would send me the sweetest emails and love letters, call me every night and never gave up on us.


Long story short, his persistence paid off and we were married in March of 2005.

How were the other wives?


The other wives/girlfriends/fiances were my favorite part!  I know there are stereotypes of professional athletes' wives but I don't think I ever saw that in the 7 years Craig played. And by stereotype, I mean the kind you see in the reality shows.  You know, the high-maintenance divas who demand the best of everything and act like they're better than everyone else because of who their husband is or the size of the contract he's signed.  I don't know if I just got lucky or if those types of women just weren't on the teams we were on.  But for the most part, all of the women were treated equally.  It didn't matter if your husband was a superstar with a multimillion-dollar contract or if he was on the bubble every week just praying he wouldn't get asked to come to the coach's office and bring the playbook.  (Never a good sign.)  

We were all part of the same sisterhood.

And being an "NFL Wife" really was like a sisterhood.  It felt like our own little sorority where we all knew what the others were feeling and going through.  No matter how close you were to your other girlfriends, no one could quite understand it all unless they were dealing with the same stuff as well.

We understood what it was like to have husbands come home sore, anxious, weary, exhilarated or defeated. These girls were the only ones who knew EXACTLY how you felt watching your team unexpectedly draft someone that played your husband's position.  {Eek doesn't even begin to cover it.)  

They were the sounding board when you whole-heartedly disagreed with the coach's decision to start someone else instead of your husband.  They also understood the hurt and anger you felt when you heard other people bash him for a dropped pass, interception or missed tackle.  Especially when you knew it was a botched play or it was someone's else's fault entirely.  

We would sit in the stands together at games and hear fans talk about our guys, not knowing that we were "the wives".  And when we would speak up, (sweetly of course, as to make them feel bad), it was pretty hilarious to see them fall all over themselves with praise for the guys they were just bad-mouthing.

GREEN BAY


Craig was drafted to the Green Bay Packers in 2002.  And I honestly believe there was no better team for us as a young couple just starting out.

Green Bay is a very family-oriented team.  The town is small so it's not exactly crawling with night clubs and night life although, if you're looking for trouble, you could definitely find it.  But it just has a very homey feel to it.  Everyone wants to take you in and make you feel welcome.

I quickly became friends with several of the wives.  All of whom were so down-to-earth, completely normal and unaffected by it all.  It was easy to be around them.  I wasn't intimidated or nervous.  They were just girls like me.  We were all excited to get to be part of this experience and never took it for granted.

The one time I was a little nervous though, was meeting Brett and Deanna Favre for the first time.  Brett and Craig hit it off right away.  Both were good ole southern country boys who loved to golf, fish and hunt.  They were fast friends.  I just wanted to make a good impression and not come off like a silly college girl.  (Which I absolutely was.)  But they are both just salt of the earth people and within 30 seconds of meeting them, I felt completely at ease.  I know they haven't always had it easy but they are both just really good people.

This picture was taken on New Years Eve at Brett's Steakhouse.  Deanna on the left and Jeannie Pederson on the right.  Jeannie is the wife of Doug Pederson who was the 2nd quarterback when Craig was there.  (Before Rodgers.)  Jeannie and Doug were also southerners from Louisiana and I immediately felt comfortable with both of them as well.  I still use Jeannie's corn casserole recipe all the time.  I think it was the first new recipe I adopted once we got married.


Confession:  I never really found my niche in Green Bay though.  For the first few years, I was just coming up once a month or so to visit as a girlfriend.  I was still young and in college while the other girls were actual wives and had babies or were pregnant.  They were just at a different stage in life than I was.   

Once we got married, and I moved up to Green Bay, things started to get easier.  I think I was just starting to find my groove though when we left Green Bay for Buffalo.  When we returned to Green Bay a few years later, I felt much more comfortable and 100% "official".

These pictures were from New Year's Eve one year when the guys had an away game.  We celebrated together that night but hit the town with a little pub crawl through Green Bay the next night with the guys.  



And then a couple of years ago, we all met up again when they inducted Brett into the Packers Hall of Fame.




BUFFALO

After 4 years in Green Bay, Craig became a free agent.  Since the Packers had drafted Aaron Rodgers and were "looking to get a return on their investment" as Craig was told, we knew it was best to look elsewhere. Craig ended up signing with the Buffalo Bills so we packed up and moved to a town larger, but very similar to Green Bay.

The first ladies I met were Dawn Neufeld, Lisa Preston and Blake Cieslak (now Fletcher).  We hit it off immediately and they will always be my Buffalo Besties.






Confession:  When I try to go back and think about what exactly my life was like back then, it's really hard.  I had no kids.  No job.  My husband was at work 5-6 days out of the week until the late afternoon.  What the heck did I do all day? 

Well, we did a lot of entertaining.  I do remember that.  We purchased a gorgeous and very large house with the expectations that we'd be in Buffalo for several years and start our family there.  (wrong)

We finished the basement and turned it into a young couple's dream.  We had a theater, a workout room, a full bar, a pool table and a poker table and french doors that walked out to the pool.  Our house quickly became the hot spot.

It was our only big splurge and it was totally worth it.

The guys had LOTS of poker games here.  (Look at our friends' sweet baby!!  He was the little poker mascot and was the cutest, sweetest and easiest baby ever!!  His parents are Fred and Danielle Jackson.  Two of the nicest people you'll ever meet.)


And there were always shenanigans.  (One of the guys hid one of the girls' purses in the drop ceiling.)


We had a killer New Years Eve Party to ring in 2007.




Plus some fun girls nights while the guys were away.


Spa party!



And I'm not sure what this is, but it's hilarious.


This was our Buffalo house.  I loved this house from the second I saw it.  It was the Father of the Bride type house I'd always wanted.


 

This was the view from the back deck.  From the second floor master bedroom window, you could see Lake Erie.


Confession:  I know I spent a lot of time trying to decorate that house all by myself.  And I had no clue what I was doing.  When I look at pictures of the decor I picked out, I am not impressed.

Once October hit, we dealt with this on a semi-regular basis...



...which is why I can't really remember doing a whole lot when we lived in Buffalo.  We were snowed in SO MUCH!

At one point, I decided I wanted to get a job.  So when I saw that my gym was looking for a childcare worker for a few hours a day, I jumped all over it.

I loved watching the kids while their parents were working out.  I was starting to get that baby fever for sure.  But before babies, we wanted to cross a few more things off our list.

Confession:  I quit after a couple of months.  I wasn't loving getting up early, driving through the snow and freezing my butt off just so I could earn $10/hour from 7-10am.

TRAVEL

The Packers wanted Craig to play a season in NFL Europe after he was drafted so they sent him to Scotland to play for the Scottish Claymores.  I was lucky enough to get to fly over at the end of the season for 10 days and it was incredible.



Las Vegas was one place I always wanted to go.  One year, we joined up with Garth Brooks' Teammates for Kids charity and got to go to Vegas as part of the event.

Confession:  I'm wearing extensions in my hair.  ;)  They were all the rage back then.




We went with our Buffalo Besties!

AWAY GAMES

The wives don't travel to away games very much but we decided to make it a little girls trip to NYC when they played the Jets!

We had such a great time!  


We saw Hairspray on Broadway, saw the big tree all lit up in Rockefeller Center and the big red ornaments which were my favorite.  And then, since we were all pretty much in our mid to late twenties, we decided we wanted to try out Marquee which was one of the "it" nightclubs in NYC at that time.  

We had way too much fun and are thankful Instagram and Snapchat were not a thing back then.  ;)



We also went to Mexico a couple of times.  Once by ourselves and once with Blake and her then-husband, Brad.  Unfortunately, I cannot find the album with all these pictures in it anywhere so here's all I've got.  :)


EVENTS

We attended a lot of charity events.  Balls, galas, fundraisers, auctions...  






Always a fun time to get dressed up!

NFL BABIES & TRAINING CAMP

When Craig and I decided it was time to start trying for a baby, we knew it would be best to at least attempt to time it up right.  The last thing any wife wanted was to go into labor when your husband was at an away game in Oakland, California while you were snowed in in Buffalo.  Of course, I talked to my other wife friends about it and they all said to start trying in June.  That way, if you get pregnant, your due date will be after the season is over.  

So June through August were the prime months to get yourself knocked up. Any sooner and you could end up having a baby during the Super Bowl.  Any later, and you might have to pull your hubby out of training camp for a day and then spend the first month of that baby's life doing it all by yourself.  

In Green Bay, training camp is right there in town.  But each team does it differently.  The Bills training camp is in Pittsford, NY which is about an hour outside of Buffalo.  The guys live down there in dorms for a month and the wives and all the fans can come out and watch training camp.  A lot of the wives who were hoping to get pregnant, would drive down and stay for a couple of days before going back home.

Confession:  The guys get some downtime each day.  And let's just say that the downtime is spent constructively when trying to make a baby fit into your timeframe.  ;)

As it turned out, Dawn and I ended up getting pregnant within weeks of each other.  #trainingcampbabies


I was just a few months pregnant with Matthew in the one above.

But before real babies, these were our babies.




They are almost 14 now.  I can't believe how young they look here!  Now Abby is super fat and lazy and Odie is frail and skinny like a little old man.  :(


Overall, I think the very best part of this experience was being able to share it with my family.  And I know Craig would say the same.  My parents weren't big on travel growing up. There weren't any airplane rides in my childhood and I'm not sure my parents had ever been on an airplane before the first time they came to a game in Green Bay.  So being able to share all of this with them made me so so happy.  My parents are amazing and have worked so hard their whole lives to provide for me and my brother.  It felt so good to be able to give something back to them and treat them to a little VIP experience whenever they came up to see us.




Whew.  I haven't thought about some of this stuff in such a long time!  But I'm going to stop here before I bore you to tears.

I hope you enjoyed hearing a little bit more about what life was like so many years ago.  Craig retired in 2008 so it's been almost 10 years since we lived that life.  Our lives are completely different now and we are incredibly boring but in a good way. :)  

Thank you for taking a (long) walk down Memory Lane with me today!  I can't wait to read all of yours!

Remember to link up below with a confessions post of your own!

And be sure to look for me on Instagram @amandanall and @thatinspiredchick.

And in my Facebook group here.

See you back here tomorrow for Friday Favorites!  If you missed last week's list, check them out here!




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21 comments

  1. Oh my gosh, there is so MUCH to love about this post! What an amazing experience! Ella's principal is a HUGE Packers fan so she would totally swoon if I told her I even "knew" someone from the Packers family!! Love that you got to share this experience with your family!

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    1. Hahaha! I feel like I "know" you!! Thanks, Heather!!

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  2. I am from Buffalo so I loved seeing this!

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    1. Yay!! Girl, we don't miss all that snow!!

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  3. I think it is so cool that you are/were an NFL wife! It was so interesting reading about what it was like. Great link up! I'm starting to put out a "Favorites for the month" post each month and hope it's ok that I linked that one up. :)

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    1. Thanks, Tanya! Yes, it's totally fine!

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  4. WAHOO!! What a fun confession post! You answered all the questions we wanted to know! Yay for a fun link-up!

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  5. Wow, what an amazing time in your life!!! Thank you for sharing, I really enjoyed reading! So are neither you or Craig originally from Texas? When I see all the snow in those pics it makes me happy, I can't wait for snow!!

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    1. I am from Texarkana, TX and he's from Alexandria, LA. I went to school in Louisiana and then after football we moved to to Mckinney, TX for good. I enjoyed all the snow as as long as it wasn't keeping me from going anywhere I wanted to go! I'm a terrible snow driver!! But I miss the winter wonderland we'd get!

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  6. What a fun idea for a blog post - the confessions and everything. And thanks for sharing the NFL life; very fascinating! I think I'd like the travel aspect. :)

    Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. Thanks, Lauren! I wish I had more pictures of all of it! Crazy to think that ten years ago there were no camera phones we could whip out at a moment's notice!

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  7. I've been looking forward to this post!! SO good!

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    1. Thank you! I've already thought of a dozen other things I wish I'd added!

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  8. This is the best! I'm a fairly new reader so I loved reading all this background info! You guys have had some amazing experiences! Love this link up too!

    Amy
    www.lovingourmessy.com

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  9. This is fascinating! I love it! What great stories you have to tell, thanks for sharing!

    Although, I'm not sure I can share your enthusiasm for the Packers since I am a life-long Minnesotan...;-)

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  10. What a fun post! It's fun to go down memory lane, oh to be in our 20s again! Totally agree with you...so glad instagram and snapchat were not around. Loved reading about your history has a Packer wife especially, my husband is from Wisconsin and is obviously a Packer fan!

    Melissa @ Finding My Mojo
    www.findingmymojoweb.com

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  11. Such a fun post! I loved all of it and didn't think you were braggy for one minute. When I think of this life, I always think of the awful WAGS show on E! so I am glad you can show a real picture of it.

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  12. What a fun post!! If you think of more come back and do a Part 2~! :)

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  13. I loved this post! My husband works in college football and there's definitely a camaraderie amongst the coaches wives. But it's interesting to read from a players wife point of view!

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  14. What a fun post idea Amanda! I loved getting to read so much of your story!

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