Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Volleyball Regionals Weekend at the Oregon Convention Center

It was the best of times - we had a truly incredible weekend, packed full of swimming, volleyball, family and friends! We started our adventure on Friday night, where the little B's and Big Daddy enjoyed time in the water.
Our motel was perfect! It was right next to the Max, so we were able to experience taking a train for the first time, and it was fun! Below, we are headed out, bright and early Saturday morning. Can you spy Britt and Brady?
A very nice stranger offered to take this picture for us when he saw me taking pictures of my three B's. He also gave us some great advice on how to ride the train and where to get off. I managed to embarrass everyone at our stop, because they closed the one we were supposed to get off at, and I may have screamed, "Stop - we have to get off! How do we get off this thing?!" in a moment of panic, but the NEXT stop was ours, and now my family has lots of material to make fun of me. What can we say? I'm a country girl!
As soon as we got there, we ran in to one of Brailey's teammates, Lexi - perfect timing! From there, we ran into Kamryn and Nikki. We only had six girls for this tournament, so everyone is here in this picture except for two.
Me and my girl - I love her so!
The supportive siblings. They have sat through quite a few tournaments this season. They have also become pretty good buddies. Isa's sister, Soni, is on the left, and Britt on the right. Thank goodness for Kindle Fires to keep them entertained for at least part of the time.
Winner, winner, winners! They did really well the first day, and came in second in their pool. They could have easily been first, but it just didn't happen. You can see they are happy, happy, happy in this picture - the sweet feel of victory!
Which one is Bethani?! Her twin sister, Kris, who is several months pregnant, came to watch her niece. They fooled quite a few people! Maren, our coach, said  to Isa, "I didn't know your mom was pregnant!" Brady got them mixed up, as well. Aren't they beautiful? I have enjoyed every second spent with Bethani this season. LOVE HER!
And I love this lady, too - the gorgeous, inside and out, Madison! We met her this fall, and she coached OVC's 16's team. They went undefeated and won their bracket! Ironically, one of the girls on her team is the daughter of Brailey and Britt's beloved second grade teacher, Bea Downes. It has been so fun to talk volleyball with Bea in the school halls.
Madison made a special point to come and see Brailey play - she's such a sweetheart! She told Brailey to relax her legs and put them up on the wall for a bit between games.
Brailey played so well on Saturday, Brady and I caved in and bought her her first pair of Nike Elite socks. Her feet had been hurting up to this point, and after wearing these socks, which claim to support the foot, she said her feet actually felt better! Maybe they are worth their high price tag, after all... Maybe. In any case, she was thrilled with them!
Britt makes friends wherever he goes. These little boys adored him! They were quite sad when Britt had to put his Kindle up to watch his sister, but they still had fun playing with him. 
Saturday night, after a trip to the Boot Barn in Troutdale to exchange my Christmas boots and a nice lunch and more swimming, we went back to the Convention Center to watch the coaches play. All the coaches were invited to play, and it was so much fun to watch them! We also got to see Madison's team play. In retrospect, we probably shouldn't have included this evening activity in our itinerary, because Brailey was super tired the next day, but it was still fun to see the incredible athleticism of the coaches and to ride the Max one last time. Brailey is wearing her sweatshirt Brady and I stood in line for over an hour to purchase. It was worth it!
Britt was a little worn out, himself. Truth be told, we all were! Below, they are outside the Oregon Convention Center on Sunday.
Pretty in pink! It wasn't the best day for OVC 12's on Sunday. They were all tired and sore, and the chemistry just wasn't there. They could have easily beat every team they played, but it didn't happen. Still, it was a fun season, full of learning, experience and lots of new friends, and we can't wait for next year! Praise God that Brailey loves volleyball!

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Happy, Blessed Easter

It may have been a bit "last minute," but hey! We got them done! I managed to get the eggs boiled Good Friday morning, and the little B's had a great time coloring them that evening. As usual, they turned out great! More importantly, they had a really good time working on them.
Once again, the Easter Bunny found us! Britt set the eggs and Easter baskets out by the front door, and while we were gone on Saturday, that tricky bunny came and got them! And on Easter Sunday, we found them returned, full of goodies! We went to the early mass, so we checked out the baskets beforehand, but saved the egg hunt for afterwards. We enjoyed a delicious Easter breakfast after mass, and when we got home, the sun was shining and it was perfect weather for a delightful egg hunt!
Ready for Easter Sunday mass...
The nice church shoes got exchanged for their rubber boots. Egg hunting is serious business!
There was a little rivalry, this year, but all in good fun. They each found plenty of eggs and were laughing and having a great time searching for them. No fighting our pouting or anything but love! That is actually pretty standard for these two, believe it or not. They are best friends!
After enjoying the new Legos from the Easter Bunny, it was time for a little Sunday afternoon ride. Brady made a platform for the roping dummy, and he and Brailey had a big time roping it! Above he is explaining to her how to hold her rope and reins. This is the only the second time she has swung a rope off her horse, and the first time she tried roping the dummy (off her horse). She caught twice! Sadly, I filmed every loop but the two she caught - isn't that the way it goes? Britt even threw a loop off of Alvin, who stood there at perfect attention for him! Brailey and Tex really dig the roping - she was thrilled to be loping around, swinging her rope. She's always been a natural at it, and it was super fun to watch. Britt needs a weensy bit more practice, and he will be right there with his big sister. However, nobody enjoyed it more than Brady!
All in all, it was a wonderful Easter Sunday, full of many blessings and celebration. Mass was special, the sunshine was out, and we were all together. A happy, blessed Easter indeed!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Big Visit - Grandma and Papa Come to the Valley

It was a long overdue visit, and we were all HAPPY-HAPPY-HAPPY and super excited to see my parents this past weekend. (I'm so thrilled Brailey wasn't "too cool" to wear our matching shirts on Friday - she's such a fun kid!) We had a packed weekend full of very early mornings, horses and volleyball, and it was a wonderful, special time. We even prolonged the fun and added an extra day onto the weekend - we were so tired, we opted to play hooky on Monday and spent an extra day with them. 
Papa is famous for putting Tex's tail into a "mustache knot." Tex was not impressed. He looked at Papa as if to say, "Really? You're still at it? This is getting really old!" But Papa got a big kick out of it, as you can see by the look on his face in the picture above.
We were at another WHO Show on Saturday, the first one we've been to in Roseburg. It was a small show, which was nice, because it went faster than usual. Alvin thought he needed to have a bite of Brailey's donut in the picture above. It was a bit of a rough day for Brailey - we are still trying to figure out bits and reins and legs and the whole nine yards, but she is going to a barrel clinic soon, and that will help things out. Not to mention we haven't been able to practice at all, which doesn't inspire confidence. So we are going to take a break until we can really focus on riding. It won't be long - summer is almost  here!
Alvin was the Star of the Day. He took such perfect care of Britt and really did a nice job. Grandma had to give him some love - the horse just insists upon it! He loves attention.
And Britt was the Pee Wee Champion for the day! Granted, it was a small class, and he did have a mishap during the Figure 8 (forgot the pattern). But he and Alvin rallied and came away with top honors and a dollar bill! It was super cute, because Britt knew it was an easy class, but it was still good for his ego, because he's never won anything! So Brady called him "Champ" for the rest of the weekend, and Britt basked in the glory of winning.
And then we went to Salem for volleyball on Sunday. Generally, our tournaments have been over by 3 or 4 in the afternoon. But not this one. This one went from 8 in the morning until 6 in the evening! LONG DAY! But it was a great day - Brailey played really, really well and so did her team. They have never looked better!
Brady enjoyed his new "Volleyball Chair." It is like a recliner and super comfortable!
Britt had homework to do - rewriting a story. Lucky for him, Grandma was there to help. Interestingly enough, he listens much better to her than to his mother... Go figure!
Papa stole Brady's Volleyball Chair for a bit.
Britt the photo-bomber...! Still a great picture of Brailey and Grandma, though.
Papa was very impressed with Rick, Brailey's coach. He took a moment to tell him what a good job he is doing. We had the loudest cheering section at the entire tournament! Papa saw what the team needed right off the bat - enthusiasm!
The Volleyball Chair is so comfortable, Brady even managed to get a nap in between games!
Brailey managed to sneak a turn on it, as well. She and her good friends were having a wonderful time discussing all manner of things. They are good buddies, and it has been so great to see Brailey make new friends who are nice girls.
The setter! She did a great job all day long. Her team played really, really well, and we are all so proud of them! We also had a wonderful time with Grandma and Papa. On Monday, we managed to hit St. Vinny's, get all the stalls cleaned, get the vehicles washed and my mom even got all the cobwebs off the side of my house and the patio swept! We didn't do much but visit, but it was a great day, full of sunshine and love. We hated to see them go, but hopefully it won't be so long between visits. Seven and half months is TOO LONG. Anyway, back to the grindstone! It's a busy, busy life, but a good one. It was great to take a day to stop and "smell the roses," and to just BE.

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...