This post is going up for the express purpose of appearing on my Facebook feed and thus appearing in the timelines of the people that I play FIFA with, in an effort to goad them just a little and in so doing, action our next FIFA with the Boys night.
This picture in particular will help with that goading goal:
In reality, we have played very little FIFA this year, and had even fewer FIFA evenings to boot, though in retrospect I have had a particularly good year in terms of palming in at least one trophy per get together. Not bad at all, and annoying enough to the others to legitimately paint a large target on my back. (Activity like this blog post, doesn’t help either :P)
While we are still playing FIFA 15 on the XBOX 360 for our evenings, there has been a shift in our play location, eschewing Ryan Lotter’s bachelor pad in favour of newcomer Michael Garret’s comfortable setup. Ryan is also playing less with us than before, with the slack being picked up by a capable Kurt Lehner – who is more than able to bag a trophy on the night if needs be:
(Note my inclusion in this winner’s photo once again).
Damen Oosthuizen still joins us whenever he can, Dean Stapelberg is a rarity (Karl-Heinz Storbeck even more so), and Evan Granger and Michael Garret continue their quest to actually win a trophy and not lose out by a single point or technicality as the case has been the last couple of evenings. (Terrance Brown for some inexplicable reason still refuses to fly down from Japan and join us for a game night)
The FIFA evening themselves continue their epic form in terms of length – we usually start around 19:00 and play straight through to 00:00 – ridiculous if you consider that I then still have to drive back to Gordon’s Bay and work the next day. Still, I am rather enjoying my victorious streak at the moment…
(There, job done. I now eagerly look forward to checking my inbox come Monday morning!)
Each and every year before a FIFA World Cup event, we get reminded by media outlets about the various scandals and controversies surrounding world soccer’s overseeing body FIFA.
Now of course scandal for FIFA is back again, with the surprise move of the USA arresting a dozen of the highest ranking FIFA officials in Switzerland on corruption charges – instantly opening up a massive can of worms and headaches for the football organisation.
(Particularly funny, because as noted, it’s taken the country with seemingly the least amount of interest in soccer to actually do something about this group that holds itself above countries’ laws!)
Needless to say, comedian John Oliver and his team immediately weighed in on the story:
The reality of all of this is of course that it seems long overdue, but at least it has forced the hand of Sepp Blatter and he has stepped down (at last).
Though of course, this could just be an attempt to jump ship before it completely sinks…
Sadly though, South Africa has now been drawn into the thick of it, and no matter how sports minister Fikile Mbalula and his team try to spin it, it is looking pretty much like we paid bribes in order to get the World Cup in 2010.
Sigh, can this beautiful country of ours not get a break or two sometime?
Of course, FIFA and the World Cup has been an inspiration for Zapiro on more than just a few occasions before, but this particular scandal seems to have brought out the best from one of South Africa’s most recognised political cartoonists:
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My favourite editorial cartoon coming out of this debacle however has to be the one drawn up by the Dr. Jack and Curtis team for EWN (Eyewitness News):
Having won both our FIFA trophies (for best player and best goalscorer) in the last FIFA with the Boys get together at the end of last year, and then sadly relinquishing the best player trophy in our last meeting (and first of 2015), I was needless to say looking quite forward to our second encounter for this year, eager to regain the glory that is owning both trophies.
As per usual, the meeting point on Monday afer work was Ryan’s bachelor’s pad, and with two brand new competitors entering the fray (Michael Garrett and his brother Jeff) – making for six trophy challengers on the night – competition was guaranteed to be fierce.
(However, what wasn’t fierce was the amount of snacks available on the night. It starts getting weird when the guys all start talking diets and losing weight…)
Anyway, we got down to action pretty much as soon as there were enough people to fill the slots, and with my calculated scoring and matchmaking patterns guiding the plays, what followed was an intense evening of kicking about a virtual ball, scoring some brilliant goals, and even more importantly, chuckling at the insane amount of bad luck that newcomer Michael was experiencing (so, so many unlucky red cards and goal post misses!).
With the skill levels in the room all pretty much on par, the games were particularly tight and there were no big scores and no big win margins. It was tight, sweaty stuff, and at midnight when the final whistle blew, the tally up kicked off in earnest.
15 games were played on the evening, with each player (Damen Oosthuizen, Evan Granger, Ryan Lotter, Jeff Garrett, Michael Garrett and myself) having played 10 games each, and quite fairly, every single player played with every single other player two times as a team, meaning the stats were all fair and above board.
Make no mistake, the winning margins for both best player and best goal scorer were tight, well less than a handful of points/goals in it!
Which of course then makes it PARTICULARLY sweet that I walked away with BOTH trophies on the night. (Insert smug, grinning face here!)
It’s a pity about the poor light in Ryan’s kitchen at midnight. Even my selfie didn’t come out too great – too many shiny structures kept photo bombing me… ;)
So a couple of days ago I bragged about how I had snagged both trophies in our final FIFA boys night of 2014, going even so far as to let the competition know that I was now in serious practice mode – not to mention the fact that I then went right ahead and called them out for yet another session.
As it turned out, I didn’t have long to wait…
One of the very first things to happen at Emily’s awesome birthday pool party on Sunday was the boys getting together and deciding that a FIFA night was to be held the very next evening, at Ryan’s pad, usual scoring rules apply. Heck, even Dean was on the cards for the night, and so come Monday evening I found myself driving straight through to Bellville following a stint in the Westlake office for the day.
Ryan whipped up some Sloppy Joes for supper, and then it was on to FIFA, with just enough time for the two of us to get in a moment’s practice before the rest of the horde started falling in. Dean, Damen, Evan, Ryan and myself made five, and so after some complicated tables and match-ups were planned and jotted down, it was down to the business of kicking a virtual ball around and scoring as many points as possible! (Without appearing overly selfish of course).
Amazingly, despite not having played FIFA in absolute years, Dean held his own, and was certainly not the dead weight that we all had imagined he would be – in fact, pretty much all but two games were particularly tight on the evening, and rivalries were pretty fierce right from the get go!
We finished up just after 23:00, well before we usually call things quits on nights like these (but hey, Sunday had been a long day and the wives were naturally a bit antsy of the short notice), and after a quick tally (no really, it was pretty quick thanks to my awesome tables), I revealed that I had in fact NOT retained both trophies despite all my prior bragging – in the end, Ryan once again scooping up the award for the player with the most win points (but by a really narrow margin), meaning no more glorious trophy for me.
However, not all was lost for me, as in the end I did walk away with the trophy for scoring the most goals on the night – only made possible by the final (and very one-sided) match where Evan and I defeated Damen and Dean by five goals to zero, four of which were scored by me. Those four were all that I needed to take the lead and thus walk away with the night’s Golden Boot! (Ryan was shattered – up until that point he had looked a sure bet to take home both trophies on the night!)
There was some controversy (we didn’t score one of Ryan’s goals on the basis of too much of a deflection – change of direction – that caused the keeper to miss the ball), many tight, tight matches (i.e. lots of edge of couch, dripping in sweat, tension), and of course, some fantastically worked goals – all in all making for yet another excellent night of FIFA on the Xbox!
My only regret? That none of my training seemed to make one damn ounce of a difference on the night! Sigh, back to the drawing board then…
A little more than a month ago, Damen, Evan, Ryan and I got together for our first proper FIFA 13 Foursome, which saw us playing FIFA on the XBOX from early evening straight through to early the next morning, punctuated only by a quick pizza run.
This weekend we attempted to recreate that epic evening of FIFA – and pleasingly we did!
We all arrived at Ryan’s pad at about 16:30 and by 17:00 the pleasantries were over and we gathered around the television, XBOX controllers in hand. We’ve got a pretty fair system of play which sees us rotate partners every second game, with each two game rotation featuring the same two teams – essentially we pick two teams, play a game, then rematch with changed sides, meaning that you are forced to play on both sides of the coin – important if one team turns out to have a rather easy to exploit Achille’s Heel. On that note, we also pick the teams very carefully, basically allowing the first team to be semi-randomly chosen and then manually find a matching team in terms of stats and stars to take them on.
As it turned out, the first game of the evening funnily enough provided the best goal of the night, with Ryan scoring a cheeky 90th minute winner by slotting a goal in via the near post from what should have been a completely impossible angle to score from! And talking about cheeky goals, Evan’s back heel tap-in probably took the cake on that front!
The games were fiercely contested (well, except for when Ryan and I played together on a team – goal scoring came a little too easily to us in the first couple of rounds, though eventually Evan and Damen wised up and started shutting us down), and in some cases the tension was so intense (the Manchester United versus Manchester City game was particularly guilty of this) that by the time the final whistle went we would have to wipe dry our sweaty hands and grab a drink to calm our nerves!
For the first time we implemented a scoring system which basically saw us track points for games played (3 for a win, 1 for a draw) as well as a goals scored tally, and after a full 8 hour stretch of FIFA (we played until after 01:00 am), Ryan emerged as the clear winner in the most valuable player (MVP) category with an incredible 49 points accrued – basically he only lost three times during the entire evening! I snagged the Golden Boot with my 29 goals scored, while sadly Evan brought up the rear, proving beyond any doubt that on the night he was the true wearer of the boot of clay.
Oh, and we did break for some delicious St. Elmos pizza – just to keep the tradition intact.
Overall this was a pretty awesome FIFA 13 Foursome get together and I have to say, I’m already looking forward to the next one! :)
(And just for the record, with it being so late I opted to spend the evening at Ryan’s place – which meant that after Damen and Evan left, Ryan and I still sat down for an hour of Topspin 4 tennis before hitting the sack!)
I’ve been a bit slack on the weekend updates again I see, so just in case you were wondering what the Lotter Clan has been up to over the past two weekends, never fear, for the info is here!
Two weeks ago I capped off a busy work week with my bi-monthly release notes send out and then headed off back home only to find Chantelle and Cheryl still furiously busy in the kitchen, pumping out baked produce in readiness for the Saturday market stall at Willowbridge. Monty was happily entertaining Jessica, and after a delicious curry for supper, we let the ladies get back to their work while we continued to entertain and eventually tire out Miss Jessica.
Eventually the market work was done and Cheryl and Monty returned home to Bellville, leaving a pretty tired Chantelle ready to tackle the next project, a beautiful pink baby shower cake while I set about teaming up with Ryan over XBOX Live to take another stab at the explosive and enjoyable Crackdown co-op campaign.
Saturday saw Chantelle out early as she headed over to Willowbridge to run (with Cheryl) our very first stall at Willowbridge (we’re now back permanently, meaning you can catch us each and every Saturday at the Willowbridge Slow Market from 09:30 to 14:00), leaving Jessica and me to mind the house, get up to all sorts of mischief and await the arrival of the lady to pick up her Baby Shower Cake.
After the pickup Jess and I headed out to the Somerset Mall to take care of a few shopping errands, ending off with a stroll around Stodels, making sure that after the business end of our visit had concluded, we still had enough time to stay and play a bit on their slides and wooden climbing frame. For lunch I treated little Jess to some McDonalds (the Happy Meal Purple Minion toy was the target), and after a quick detour to Benbel on Monty’s behalf, she and I packed our bags and headed off to Bellville, first meeting up with Chantelle at Dean’s place for a visit with Zania, little Zandea, Damen, Michelle and little Logan, followed by some time with the Montgomery Clan (we were sleeping over for the night), from which Chantelle and I eventually snuck away to Tygervalley for a date night, first taking in the very amusing Despicable Me 2 at Ster-Kinekor, followed by a mouthwatering delicious supper of pizza at Panarottis.
We didn’t stick around in Bellville on Sunday morning, instead returning to Gordon’s Bay fairly early on, allowing me to get cracking with some DIY (taking down the punching bag, filling holes in the lawn and painting the exterior wall) while Chantelle got her hands dirty in the kitchen for the Monday Sacred Ground Deli order.
Not that it was all work mind you – I did make some time for Assassin’s Creed and Crackdown in terms of gaming, as well as taking in a couple of episodes of the thoroughly enjoyable Community (I’m currently on Season 1), as well as an impromptu trip to the beach with Jess, where we enjoyed an hour of so of filling up buckets and tossing sand on one another!
So yeah, a pretty enjoyable weekend with pretty decent weather in other words!
Last weekend obviously had the extra bonus of Friday being a public holiday (Women’s Day), meaning that once again Jessica and I found ourselves making the most of our day off together. While Chantelle and Olga happily baked cupcakes and what not in the kitchen, Jess and I undertook the mission of Theo’s Mall Coffee Shop cupcake delivery, after which we took the time to waddle around the mall, the end result being a brand new book for Jess and a nice bag of salted peanuts and raisins for me. (I suspect Jess loved her book more than I loved my peanuts!)
Unfortunately Chantelle had to leave for her delivery in Franschhoek, meaning that after Jess and I had dropped off Olga after her half day of work, we were free to play, part of which included a fun visit to the duck pond in Strand, where Jessica very happily started the session off by giving strict eating instructions to the first group of ducks that she encountered, before eventually running for her life as some of the bigger geese started to get a little too friendly with the chunks of bread in her hand!
The evening was made up of fingerpainting for Jess, blogging and Crackdown with Ryan for me, and after our impromptu KFC supper, poor Chantelle was back in the kitchen, this time finishing up all the cupcakes and cake required for Saturday’s market stall.
Saturday was an early start for us, as Chantelle, Jess and I departed for Bellville, first stopping off at the Montgomery Clan stronghold to drop off Jess and pick up the packaging and stall display materials, before heading over to Willowbridge in order to set up our stall and start trading! Pleasingly, despite the reduced foot traffic thanks to the long weekend and various other distractions that the weekend was offering, we still made well over a R1,000 worth of sales over the course of the day, meaning that I’m pretty pleased how my first day back at the markets had gone. (Plus, it was pretty nice to catch up with all the old trader faces which I haven’t seen for about year or so!)
Chantelle had Jess for the afternoon following the market, and so she and the little one headed off to Kid Station, the kid’s hair salon situated in Tyger Manor, for Jessica’s very first ever hair cut, the end result being a very cute little blonde bob, without any of those eina curls to bother her any more! (Apparently Jessica was really well behaved and sat perfectly still for the haircut, making her even more so super deserving of the fun little “Certificate of Bravery” she received at the end of the ordeal!).
I on the other hand had organised a proper FIFA Foursome guy’s evening for the remainder of Saturday and as such, found myself playing FIFA 13 on the XBOX with Damen, Evan and Ryan for just short of nine straight hours, only taking a few short breaks here and there, including a quick stop for some St. Elmo’s Pizza. Seriously, nine hours of intense and VERY competitive virtual soccer (it probably was a little overboard, but hey, we haven’t done it in such a long time that it was worth it!). Anyway, I eventually called it a night just before 01:00, making the long drive back home to Gordon’s Bay where I very quickly slumped into bed for some well deserved rest time!
Up until now, despite the heavy snow on the mountain tops around us, weather had been pretty good for our weekend escapades, but that had to eventually give way, and it did for Sunday, meaning that the day was pretty much spent indoors, Chantelle sleeping most of it away on the couch while Jessica assisted me in some sorting and tossing out of stuff around the house. The day at home was only punctuated by a quick trip out to Pick ‘n Pay for Jess and me to pick up some braai stuff, which of course translates directly into the fact that I spent the afternoon behind the coals preparing a rather delicious braai of chicken, pork and venison sausage!
Lots of television, lots of play time, and then a little icky clean up, some blogging and a little Community Season 1, was pretty much my Sunday in a nutshell.
Still, it was a long weekend so I can’t exactly complain! :)
I have been playing the EA FIFA soccer game franchise since I was a youngster, first battling it out over the SEGA MegaDrive if I remember correctly, before moving on to the various iterations on PC, PSOne, PS2, and XBOX 360.
In other words, I’m pretty damn familiar with the game.
This year marks the release of FIFA 13 and I must excitedly announce: this is by far the BEST FIFA release ever!
Although the graphics front hasn’t really advanced since the last couple of outings due to the console hardware restrictions, the developers have successfully managed to eliminate many of the minor gameplay niggles, as well as the annoying commentary glitches that had somehow managed to creep in the last two or so iterations.
Of course the most major addition to this year’s polish and release has been the removal of the old, almost automatic defensive system (which can be turned back on for gamers unable to adapt), in favour of a more manual system, which basically means you now need to get a whole lot smarter and skilled in defending, both in one on one situations as well as in terms of defensive strategy!
And yes, this means slide tackles have just become cool again.
My personal favourite of the new system is the ability to stick a foot out, which makes it a lot easier to intercept a travelling ball, trip up a player, or if you have to, just outright foul him in the hopes that the referee happens to be looking elsewhere (needless to say, the third isn’t actually a possibility).
The end result of the changes means a very fluid game, far less frustrating midfield grinds, a lot more scoring opportunities, keepers that don’t hold on to each and every shot fired at them, and in general, just a faster, more realistic, and more importantly, more enjoyable gaming experience, particularly when playing against another human opponent!
Of course there are a host of game modes, customizable options, key mappings and what not for the hardcore fans, and combined with a fantastic aural experience as well as a pretty slick presentation interface, FIFA 13 is no doubt an absolute winner this season.
Seriously, I can’t wait to take another crack at it again! :)
Unlike last year’s Heritage Day (aka Braai Day to just about every man-in-the-street South African), Chantelle and I didn’t actually take the time to braai – though to be fair we had just come off an awesome Sunday family braai hosted at our place, which I detailed a little earlier this week.
What did however do was have a proper day off. Well sort of. You see, Chantelle packed Jessica in with her folks as they left on Sunday evening, meaning Chantelle and I enjoyed a thoroughly relaxing, uninterrupted night of movies and sleep, followed by a fairly lazy morning of catching up on bed and household chores time.
This was followed by a trip through to Somerset Mall, where we enjoyed a very successful pricing trip, locating an awesome solid pine shelving unit for the braai room (to replace my wonky garden shed metal shelves which currently play host to Chantelle’s varied baking ingredients and necessities), a second fridge (also destined for the braai room and Chantelle’s ingredients), as well a dishwasher – which will be Chantelle’s main assistant for when she starts doing this full-time start December. So with everything now sourced, all that is left is to buy the stuff – which should happen in the next couple of days seeing as my bonus has already come through following all that hard work I put in on our big “Project 161” project at work over the last couple of months!
More exciting than all of the above though was the lucky break we got as we pulled into the parking lot at Fruit and Veg City, spotting a man carrying the exact plastic container we’ve been searching for well over a month and a half now! You see, a while back we stumbled across this awesome plastic container, high enough for Chantelle’s cupcakes, very stackable, lockable lids and removable dividers at Mambo’s Plastics Warehouse, where we bought the last and only two they still had left in stock – and after discovering just how awesome these containers really are, we’ve been searching high and low for more of them, without any luck up until now!
Anyway, Chantelle immediately altered course, pulled into a parking bay, I jumped out and ran into the Plastics for Africa shop, grabbing a handful of these containers and hoisting them into the air, a huge grin on my face as I awaited Chantelle’s arrival in the store.
After that bit of win, Chantelle treated the two of us to a light lunch at Limnos Bakery in the Mall, before we headed home and Chantelle got ready for work, while I hopped into my car and made the long trip through to Bellville.
There I met up with Ryan for some epic and enjoyable FIFA clashes on the XBOX 360, though it was a pity that none of the other guys could join us – it’s seriously difficult to do something spontaneous when everyone is now married! :P
After two hours of digital soccer, I handed back Ryan’s controller and drove through to the Montgomery stronghold, where I caught up a bit with Cheryl and Robert, before swiping back my little Jessica and driving her home for a lazy bedtime routine, followed by some peace and quiet as I awaited Chantelle’s late return from work.
So yeah, no braai for me this Heritage Day, but I don’t think that I completely wasted this public holiday Monday in the end! :)
Another weekend, another Cookies & Cakes Willowbridge Market, though this weekend was my weekend off, leaving Chantelle and Cheryl to man the stall on Saturday morning. (Of course, this means that Friday evening was dominated by market preparation, capped off with Chantelle exercising her chocolate creativity by putting together a fake glamour cake for presentation at the stall – which worked mind you, bringing in three new cake orders!)
Saturday was of course an early start for Chantelle as she up and packed, and left for Bellville in the wee hours of the morning, where she and Cheryl proceeded to man the Cookies & Cakes stall on what turned out to be a very profitable outing.
Jessica and I on the other hand enjoyed a much more relaxed Saturday morning, going through the normal weekend routine and picking up a household chore here and there. However, come 11:00 and it was action stations, as I finished packing all the weekend bags for Chantelle, Jess and I, loaded up the car (which includes getting Jessie in her seat), and drove off through Stellenbosch, successfully navigating all the way through to Klein Joostenberg Farm without getting lost (it’s the same venue where we attended Saret’s wedding a while back).
There we met up with Ryan, Karl-Heinz, Trish and a whole lot of their friends for a bit of a relaxed, celebratory picnic in honour of Karl and two of his other friends’ recent birthdays. Although a bit gloomy at times, the rain stayed away and the sun did shine through every now and then, making for a great afternoon of lazing about, snacking and playing with the seemingly horde of toddlers on the blankets.
Eventually it was time to pack up, and after saying all the goodbyes, Jessica and I drove through to Bellville, after a quick detour thanks to me turning in the wrong direction as I exited the farm. There I met up with Chantelle at the Montgomery Clan Stronghold, and after hearing the great news about the exciting market, we packed Jessica back in the car and took her to visit my Mom and Pops (and Ryan who happened to drop by their place), where we enjoyed some delicious leftover from the market chocolate cake and plenty of catch up chatter. One of the highlights of the visit was Mom revealing a box of old toys and puzzles they had retrieved from the attic, including a wooden puzzle which still bore the birthday message to me on my fourth birthday – back in 1984!
From there it was back to the Montgomery Stronghold as I sat down to watch the epic Stormers versus Bulls rugby game with Monty, which pleasingly we won, thereby eliminating the possibility that my watching a game is a bad omen (the first and only game I watched this season resulted in the Stormers first loss of the season!).
Delicious pizza from Old Oak Diner rounded out the experience.
Because I had earlier in the week promised to pick up Robert’s car at the end of the wedding that he was attending, I had a couple of hours to kill before midnight, meaning the perfect opportunity to head out to Ryan’s pad where I partook in a number of FIFA 2011 battles on the XBOX 360, the result being me coming out comfortably on top!
Now pretty much at the end of Saturday night, it was time for Monty and myself to make the long drive out into the depths of Durbanville, were we located the remote venue and successfully retrieved Robert and his car. Apart from witnessing a brawl on the way there which turned into a full blown police and ambulance scene by the time we returned, the trip was fairly uneventful, meaning that I finally clambered into bed alongside a snoring Chantelle just after 01:00 in the morning.
Sunday kicked off with the arrival of Evan, Natasha and little Evalynne at the Montgomery pad, where they proceeded to check out our car seats in an attempt to help them choose which model to purchase now that Evalynne is finally ready for an upgrade.
One pleasant visit later, and it was time for Chantelle and myself to leave Jess in the capable hands of Oupa and Ouma (and a slightly fragile Robert), first heading out to Plastics Warehouse in Bellville to look for cupcake containers, followed by a drive out to Cape Town where we headed over to the Village Market at the Cape Quarter Lifestyle Village in a mission to suss out a new Sunday market at which to market our goods.
Unfortunately it turns out that the Village Market is on far too small a scale to make it worth our while, and after sampling a few items on sale, we decided to make a turn at the Old Biscuit Mill, a market we’ve heard plenty about, but one we’ve never actually visited.
The GPS took us to a pretty rundown area of Woodstock, and because we didn’t know what we were looking for, we immediately assumed it was wrong, and then started biting one another’s head off as we got more and more lost as we aimlessly drove about. Eventually a phone call to Claire put us on the right track, and once again we ended up at the exact spot we dismissed the first time around.
Amusingly, we had never bothered to turn our heads and look at the wall next to us, because there, written in big bold white letters is written Old Biscuit Mill – which had we bothered looking around in the first place, would have saved us from plenty of rather unsexy vitriol thrown at one another. (Seriously, when we get lost then you would be forgiven for thinking that Chantelle and I are the most bitter of enemies!)
Now laughing at our silliness again (but disappointed that the Old Biscuit Mill doesn’t operate on Sundays), we headed back towards Bellville, taking a detour as we got to Century City, where we stopped in the hopes of locating another market which we heard operated in the area. Disappointingly, this too turned out to be a goose chase as that market only operates in Summer.
Finally back in Bellville and reunited with our daughter, it was time to tuck into the delicious pork roast which Robert and Monty had prepared for us on the Weber, complemented by coffee and the rest of remaining chocolate cake for desert!
Sadly, during all our playing in the afternoon, Jessica managed to slip and badly crack one of her teeth on the tiles, putting a bit of a blemish on Sunday afternoon, but outside of that, the rest of the day was pretty relaxed and quite enjoyable, leading to a lazy drive back home in the evening, followed by the normal Sunday bed time routine to cap off what had been a pretty eventful weekend after all! :)