Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spring Rides

Brady on his pride and joy, Mag-Doll.
Look who's riding Alvin! And in her mother's barrel saddle! And her beautiful long legs are nearly as long as her mother's short ones! In all seriousness, Brailey Shaye has ridden Alvin twice, now, and he's been perfect for her both times. She can't do more than trot him at this point, until we get the final word from our vet, but it has been fun to see him relax and her confidence rise. And Britt is having a big time on Tex! Fun times at The 4 B's ranch...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Brailey's Fifth Grade Science Fair Project - Green Growing Grass

Well, we survived another Science Fair! We had an extra busy day and went straight to Britt's swim lesson after school and then after his lesson, grabbed a quick bite to eat on our way back to the school where both of the B's were able to change their clothes. Then Britt and I dropped Brailey off and waited in Estelle (our car) until the "public" was allowed into the Science Fair. See what I mean? Busy day! But once they allowed us in, it only lasted an hour, and Britt had a big time looking at every single project. He is the best viewer of science projects you've ever seen, and I don't think anyone enjoys it more. He questioned every kid and was truly fascinated! He talked about the different projects the entire drive home (lucky Brailey and I!).

This year, Brailey grew grass with different fertilizers - horse poo, chicken poo, Triple 16 and then one without any fertilizer. Brailey thought the Triple 16 would grow the fastest, but it turned out to be the slowest. The horse poo was the winner! Horse poo was followed by the plain potting soil and then the chicken poo. We are very proud of her board and thought it turned out well. She watered and measured the grass every single day for 14 days and recorded her data. She spent time putting her board together Friday, Saturday and almost the entire afternoon of Sunday. These science projects take a lot of time. Unfortunately, she didn't make the Top 15, but there were a ton of  really good projects, and like Brady and I shared with her, you win some, you lose some! And she's had a lot of success in her young life she can be proud of, including this science project.
 The supportive brother, even checking out his own sister's project. He and his best friend Daniel had a  big time making the rounds. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Shortcakes Volleyball

Meet my beautiful friend, Bethani! (We are sweaty and worn out in this picture.) Brailey and I met Bethani and her daughter, Isa, during volleyball season this past fall. I knew Bethani was special the moment I met her - she is kind and cool and a star athlete! Brailey and I have loved spending time over the past few weeks playing more volleyball with Bethani and Isa. It's an interesting story, really...
Brailey and Isa - Future Beach Volleyball Olympic Gold Medalists!
You see, I had no idea how much I love volleyball. If I could go back in time and redo a part of my life, I would foster my love of the sport and be the greatest volleyball player to ever live (in my dreams, that is - you can think big things like that in your dreams!). Anyway, long-story-short, back in December, Bethani invited me to be a part of her city league team, The Shortcakes! I was so thrilled and honored that she asked me and excited and NERVOUS to play! I've never really PLAYED volleyball, just coached it a little. 

I first learned a little about the game and some basic fundamentals from our friend Clay Howard, who was a professional beach volleyball player back in the day (so was his wife, Lynn - they met on the beach!), when he started helping Brailey during her first year of volleyball as a third grader. He would show Brailey a skill by having me do it, and I discovered I loved it! I was still terrified of bumping the ball, though - afraid of looking like a fool or failing (you know my motto, "looks are everything!"). And then, Brailey's coach had the team play the parents a couple of times, which was really scary for me and completely out of my comfort zone, but I did it for Brailey and had a great time! So over the past few years, I've been bumping/setting the ball with Brailey and Britt every now and then, and becoming more confident. Fast forward to this year, when I helped coach Brailey's team, and I had the volleyball bug big time. 

I have always loved the game. It is one of my favorite things to watch during the Olympics, and I've long been a fan of beach volleyball. It is so fun to watch! I remember seeing my friends play in high school and being in awe of how good they were. Like I said, I wish I could go back in time and have a good coach who really tried to help me learn the basics - fundamentals, baby. Obviously, I wasn't "a natural." Just learning the proper way to bump and set the ball would have been helpful to me, though. The only thing I can remember about my experience is how terrified I was of serving the ball and of looking like a fool. What can we say? I'm a late bloomer.

So when Bethani asked me if I wanted to join her team, I was actually scared. I don't have that kind of confidence, you know? I've never really PLAYED-played volleyball. However, I wanted to do it, and Brady was supportive, because he knows how much I love the game. It was a big decision for me. Now, the joke around our house is that I'm trying out for the "Senior Olympics." 

I was so nervous the first game, my legs shook the entire time and I was scared to death I wasn't going to be able to return a serve. And I tweaked my neck the first game getting a dig, tweaked my back the next game - all from being tense with nerves, I think. But gradually, I became more relaxed, and it started being super fun! I made tons of mistakes, but I learned more than I thought an old gal like me ever could. Last night was our last game for the winter season (spring season is coming!), and I even had a "kill!" Bethani taught me how to spike the ball, and I actually did it in the game, which was so much fun - the highlight of my season, for sure. 

The other good thing about the city league is that the girls, Brailey and Isa, got to know each other a little better and they got to practice a bit. They don't go to the same school, but they are the same kind of girls - quiet, shy and sweet! Last night we met early and stayed late, and all of us worked on our skills. Bethani doesn't need to do any work, because she is amazing, but it is so much fun to hang out with her and her girls and we all had a great time. Even her little first grade daughter, Soni, was able to do some bumping (she's a natural!), and that is what I love so much about the game. It is fun for anyone to play, at any level or age. I'm going to have Britt play next year, and I think he will love it (we just have to talk his friend Daniel into playing it with him!). 

Now we are waiting for the spring season of City League to start, which is a short season of play. It is only once a week, though, and even though our schedule is jam-packed with activities, the amount of fun and enjoyment I get out of playing is worth the extra scramble for time. Like they say, life is short, play hard! And GO SHORTCAKES! I'll try to get a picture of the entire team during the spring season to share with you. Volleyball... It's good for the body and soul! 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Third Time's The Charm, To A Degree

Last Saturday we had the most beautiful day weather-wise we've had all year, and it was also the big Regional Competition for Lane County's OBOB (Oregon Battle of the Books). The competition was fierce! But it was also a lot of fun, and although they just barely missed making the "Sweet Sixteen," they were a great team to watch throughout the entire ordeal, which for them, started back in June. Jonah and his mom started a book club, and they began reading the 16 books on the OBOB list right away. Both Brailey and her best friend Carries stayed in for recess every day for the past two weeks, studying the books (the boys stayed in a couple of times, too) and they all read and re-read and studied questions like you wouldn't believe. They did their best, and their best was great, and their families could not be prouder of them! 
Before the big meet, in her groovy shirt Nicholas' mom, Renee, made for them. Personally, I thought they were the cutest shirts there... I may be a bit prejudiced, because I do love Renee and the kids in the shirts, but they were super cool.
Three braids in her hair in honor of their team name.
 Look who we found?! Mrs. Myers! She was the 4th Grade Teacher at Buena Vista last year, and the kids all loved her - especially Brailey! I know Brailey has been missing her stories - she is a wonderful teacher!
 I caught Brady standing next to the Cat in the Hat...
 Brailey and her best guy buddy, Jonah. These two have been friends since they met. They are school buddies, book club buddies, church buddies and OBOB buddies. Oh, and classmates! Super sweet, these two...
 Brailey and her bestie, Carrie. They were taking a picture of themselves with Brailey's iPod. They were so excited and they are just the most adorable fifth grade girls you've ever seen. They are so comfortable being themselves, and they aren't trying to grow up too fast (like most of the rest of the girls in their class). They are happy to just be Brailey-and-Carrie and to dance and act silly and have fun. They are two peas in a pod (they have BFF two-peas-in-a-pod necklaces to prove it!), for sure, and both had their matching earrings on for the big OBOB occasion.
 The Buena Vista OBOB Champions of 2013, Third Time's The Charm. Pictured from left to right, Jonah, Carrie, Quinlin, Brailey and Nicholas. And think what you like, but they are truly the nicest kids - kind, sweet, considerate and smart!
The supportive little brother... He had a great time watching the quick little battles in the morning! Although he doesn't love OBOB as much as Brailey, I think he is inspired for next year. Brailey and her team members have all decided to take a year off from OBOB next year. They are ready to read the books they want to read, instead of books on a list. There are pros and cons to everything, right? 
Brailey, Gracie and Jonah! Gracie went to Buena Vista up until 4th grade, when she transferred to Coburg. And she was there with her team from Coburg (her and another girl from Buena Vista, as well)! Gracie was also on our volleyball team, and it was great to see her! All the girls from the Coburg team knew Brailey, so they came over and said "hi," and it was really sweet. And now? We are moving on to horse shows, 4-H, pee wee rodeos, swimming and reading whatever books we want!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Alvin, Recovered

Isn't he a doll? For over two years, now, Alvin, the big sorrel I'm sitting on in these pictures, has been recovering from a broken coffin bone. See Our Baby Alvin  if you want to read the full story. It has been a long, long, L-O-N-G road of recovery for him. After what first appeared to be a badly broken bone was later seen to be a shattered coffin bone. He didn't just break it, he broke it into a bunch of pieces. We were hopeful that we would be able to ride him last summer, but he still wasn't healed up. No wonder! Sometimes, you can't see things on x-rays until they start healing according to our vet. Brady and I went against the vet's advice, though, and instead of keeping him all cooped up last summer, we turned him out. And he had a wonderful time, grazing on the hillside, napping when it suited him, and just being a horse. I felt if his foot was hurting him, he wouldn't be traveling on it. And on our last visit to the vet, we fessed up that he hadn't been contained in a stall, and our vet said he agreed with us - in fact, all that movement probably provided stimulation for blood flow and healing. We have the coolest vet on the planet, and he understands that some horses don't do well when they are stalled up. Alvin is one of those horses. And just a couple of weeks ago, it was a dream come true for Brady and I as we rode him for the first time, and he is exactly like he used to be - hyper, but willing to do whatever is asked of him. I haven't felt so confident on a horse in years! It is frankly amazing that he could have so much time off and still remember every single detail of his training. He is so smart! It has been heaven to ride him again, even though he's pretty froggy. He's the kindest, sweetest horse in the world, and he has the biggest heart a horse can have. We are so thrilled we stuck by him and made the right choice, even though it cost thousands of dollars and so much time. Alvie is worth all of it!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Brailey's First Year of 4-H

Brailey is finally a 4-H girl! We tried to find her a club last year, but we didn't have any luck. Lane County doesn't have 4-H due to budget cuts (although they are trying to get it back), and so we have been searching high and low for a club close enough to us that we could join in another county. And right when we least expected it, we found the perfect one in Linn County, and we couldn't be more thrilled! There is a good variety of experience in her club - newbies like her, intermediate and experienced. And the leaders are fantastic! We've known one of them for a while, and although it took two years to get it done, the other leader convinced her to take on the role, and she is doing an excellent job. On a side note, she is also a volleyball fanatic, like we are, so we have a lot in common. It is going to be a fun adventure, no doubt about it!
 This is their first "Ride" Meeting. Brailey and Tex are ready to roll!
 Tex is such a funny horse to watch. You can read his thoughts as she rides him. Here, is he looking at me wondering, "when will we be finished with this nonsense?" Below, Brailey's Fan Club. Brailey is so lucky to have such a good dad and brother to support her!
Second Ride Meeting. They had a Business Meeting first, and so Britt warmed Tex up for Brailey. He did a great job!
 It was an extra special meeting for us, because Grandma and Papa were here! Papa and Tex have a special bond from their time together on the ranch, chasing cows and bulls and calves and branding and whatnot. We heard some stories about Tex we hadn't heard before, which was fun, and Papa had a lot of good advice for Brailey Shaye. He used to be my 4-H Leader, back in the day, so it was fun for him to see his favorite horse and Brailey experiencing something new. We all had a big time! (It doesn't take much to entertain us - a 4-H meeting thrills us to pieces!)
 Isn't this a cute picture? 
 My beautiful mother, also known as "Grandma." 
 Papa and his sidekick, Brittster Man.
 Papa helping Brailey get ready for her first Showmanship lesson. These two (Tex and Brailey Cakes) are going to be so cute together!

April - Here and Gone in the Blink of an Eye

It seems crazy to think Easter Sunday was on April Fool's Day this year, but it totally was. We started our Easter at mass with our fa...