Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Swim Banquet 2015

At the end of a wild and crazy week (last week), we were so happy Brady was able to make it home in time for Britt's Swim Banquet - HOORAY!
Brailey was worried she wouldn't have anyone to talk to at this function... Turns out her table was the most popular one there! She and Sophia, one of my absolute FAVORITE swimmers, spent the entire time chatting. Blake found them and hung out at their table, as well, which brought over Abraham and another girl I don't know (she is on the Swim Team, but goes to a different school). I don't know Abraham very well, but he seems like a nice boy. I do know Blake, though, since he and Brailey have been in the same class since first grade, and he is a wonderful, kind, good boy. We love Blake! He and Brailey are great friends. In other words, I don't think Brailey needed to worry about not having anyone to "socialize" with. She and Sophia were darling to watch and I am so happy Brailey picks good friends. Sophia is a "keeper!"
Britt earned an award for Most Improved and he also received his signed water bottle for "moving up." He has signed many of these water bottles in the past for other swimmers, and he was thrilled to finally get his. It is so cute - bright, fun and positive!
Somewhere over the rainbow... Can you spy it? This rainbow was a full arc, but I couldn't capture it all with my camera. It doesn't matter, though - the fact remains: these three are my pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and I couldn't love them more!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

When Life Hands You Lemons

When life hands you lemons, MAKE LEMONADE, right? Or the better one I've heard is SQUIRT IT IN THE EYE WITH THE LEMON. As you may have seen in my Instagram Post, our little Paige broke down on us last evening. (Paige is my car, in case you were wondering, named after Paige from WWE, who has black hair and super white skin, much like my car). We bought this car specifically for dependability and safety. Brady wanted to feel assured the kids and I would have trustworthy transportation while he is out of town on business. I would love to tell you this is the first time the car has broken down on us, but guess what? IT ISN'T! In fact, she was in the shop just last week. And it gets even better - not only was MY car in the shop, so was BRADY'S! Both of our cars broke down on the EXACT SAME DAY. Mine started acting up on the drive home from volleyball in Portland - luckily, we were just miles from our house and made it home fine. Brady was all the way in Nampa, Idaho! But he made it home, as well. And so we thought we were all done with car drama for a while. "Not so fast," as Lee Corso would say.

What can we say, except this is life, and it doesn't always run smoothly. In fact, when does life ever run smoothly? I don't think that option exists. But we are all okay and it all worked out. I will admit I had a few moments of panic, wondering what the hell I was going to do...

Britt and I had our normal little Subway date after his swim practice. He was extra tired and not as chatty as usual, because he had an immunization right after school and a rigorous test set in his practice. So we made our way to Paige, got in, and... NOTHING! She wouldn't turn over. We were parked in front of a Starbucks. After we got in, got out, relocked, unlocked, opened doors and closed them several times, I noticed we had an audience. I hope they enjoyed the show.

Thank goodness for cell phones! I was on my phone almost non-stop for the next two hours between talking to Brady, calling the two shops who had worked on our cars last week, texting Brailey's coach, and then receiving calls from one mechanic, Roadside Assistance, Brailey's coach, Brady, Brailey, a parent from volleyball and making more calls. All the while, I only lost my cool one time, when the Roadside Assistance person put the pressure on me to make a decision without offering any advice. And I nearly came to tears only once. Britt, bless his heart, sat there with me in his seat and patted my arm and said, "It's okay, Mom." He is sweet as sugar and nurtures my soul, and he was such a perfect boy during the entire ordeal. Thus, I was able to collect myself and get things handled, tear-free.

One mechanic was still at his shop and tried to help me get her reset and started from the phone, but Paige didn't cooperate. Long story short (mind you, I am leaving out LOTS of details!), we finally decided to have her towed to his garage and then the kids and I would take a taxi home. The tow truck driver was from Texas, grew up near the town Brady's sister lives in, and he was really kind and very good at his job. He, like Britt and I, provided a show for the Starbucks crew, and they applauded him for his skill. He initially refused to take my car to the garage, because it is in a somewhat dangerous part of town, but once he found out the owner was waiting for us and that I was accompanying the car, he was fine with the plan - I appreciate him trying to protect my car, frankly. 

One of the parents from Brailey's volleyball team kindly offered to bring her to the garage for me, which was extremely helpful and a huge relief, as getting to Brailey was my biggest worry. Brailey was a little freaked out, because she didn't know what was going on, and in retrospect, I should have told her coach to be less dramatic in telling her. But Brailey and I texted, and then she was with me and I could breathe again. The worst part of the entire ordeal was not knowing how I was going to get to her. And I really don't like asking for help, and most everyone I know that could help I didn't want to bother, because I knew they were busy. So I am  truly grateful for and to the parent who brought her to me.

Once we arrived at the garage, the owner was welcoming and kind and had friends there with their van he was working on, and they were also helpful, empathetic and good to Britt and I. So there we sat, Britt and I. The weather was perfect and sunny, even though rain had been predicted. Britt read his book and then played on his Kindle and helped me with all our bags. I was just starting to get the tiniest bit nervous, waiting on our taxi and Brailey, when they both arrived at the exact same time. Thank you Jesus for keeping us safe! We lucked out on the Taxi Driver - he was a younger guy, very clean with a nice cab and made good conversation on the drive to our house. Still, I've never seen my B's fly out of a car so fast in their lives! They had the bags unloaded and were standing at the front door before I could even pay the taxi driver. Brailey said, "I've never been so happy to be home in my life!" And boy is she right - there is just no place like home.

So anyway, all is well that ends well, and I am feeling grateful and blessed and prepared for the future - I know better what to do if this ever happens again. Hopefully, this will be the end of our car drama for a while. But you never know - life has a funny sense of humor. I'm going to keep on making lemonade - I dare to think what would happen if I squirted the lemon in life's eye!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

One of Oregon's Best Kept Secrets - McMinnville's Air Museum

Every now and then, in between work and school and sports and everyday life, us B's try to do something fun. Last Saturday was one of those "every now and then" occasions, and we visited the Evergreen Museum Campus, which is a fabulous air museum and water park. We ran out of time and didn't get to enjoy the water park on this visit, but we are going to make sure we hit it sometime soon. The museum was fascinating, fun and educational - we couldn't have enjoyed it more! The pictures speak for themselves, but I will give a tiny bit of narration here and there, of course. It wouldn't be my blog if I didn't!
The massive plane behind the B's is The Spruce Goose, built out of wood and both a boat and a plane from the 1940's. It only made one flight, and how lucky are we that it has found a permanent home in McMinnville, Oregon? The story behind the plane is truly interesting, and the size of the plane is impressive, to say the least.
Britt's favorite part of our adventure was a tour of a B17 Bomber Plane. This was truly incredible to see! He was riveted to every word the Veteran shared with him about the fighter pilots and the plane itself. It is unbelievable what these young men had to endure and go through in the war. We have so much more appreciation for their courage after seeing this plane and hearing about their tasks. Amazing and unbelievable. I loved watching Britt interact with our tour guide - he was a voluntarily captive audience for this veteran.
Brailey had a great time taking tons of pictures. She even took a few "selfies," which isn't the norm for her - she isn't a typical tween/teenager that takes a lot of those. But she did get a few while we were in the museum. So cute! Unfortunately, I forgot my selfie stick. The one time I really, really needed it... Even my fellow B's were blue about it. (See? I told you they secretly love it!)
Nevertheless, my B's did a lot of posing for me and my "old-fashioned camera," as they call it. Apparently I am dating myself by not taking all my pictures with my phone. Oh well - I like using my camera, and I was thrilled to have such posers for a day. Fun!
The tanks were Brailey's favorite part of the experience - she loved seeing them and climbing on them! She and Britt were like little ants, running from one to the next. Brady was talking to his brother Boone in the picture below, who called to let us know he fed the horses and all was well back home. We are so grateful to him for helping us out!
Ironically, one of Britt's teachers, Mr. Billington, taught his class how to properly salute a couple of weeks ago. Britt took it to heart. Brailey's form is not quite as perfect as Britt's. Nevertheless, Brady and I got a kick out of all the saluting. 
This Corvette caught Brady's eye - he used to own a couple of them in his younger days. And below, we caught the shuttle to the movie theater where we watched an incredible film about Lewis and Clark. We are all four history lovers, and Lewis and Clark has always been a favorite topic of interest in our house. Trust me when I say we were riveted to this film. And we are still talking about it! What they did is mind boggling. And the film was truly incredible!
If you ever have the opportunity to visit this facility, we highly recommend it. It is easy to find, there is great parking, and you will have an entire day's worth of entertainment. We can't wait to go back to the water park! We will never forget our little air museum adventure, that's for sure.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Britt and Daniel and Alter Boy Training

I forgot to mention in my last blog post that Britt had a training session last week to become an Alter Boy. I have always hoped he would want to serve, and thankfully, when he was presented with the choice, he said "yes!" He actually did it in support of his best friend, Daniel. He made the decision to do the training with Daniel, but as the day came closer, he started feeling nervous and unsure. But he told me he couldn't let Daniel down, because he himself had been let down by friends before, and he didn't want to make Daniel feel that way. So really, he went for Daniel. But in the end, after it was all done, he was so very proud of himself and glad he decided to do it. He and Daniel were absolutely riveted to every word Father David said in the training, and they took it all seriously and straight to their hearts. I am so proud of Britt for making this decision! And I am also grateful he felt good about it after the fact. And now, we are looking forward to the first mass they will serve, and even more looking forward to seeing them serve together. They will be paired with a Veteran Alter Boy, to begin with, but I am sure they will be placed together eventually, and that day is one we are all excited for. These boys make us all proud!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Teeth, Sibling Support and Pushing Through the Pain

Britt had a busy week of tooth pulling. He only has a few more to go, and then he can get his braces... YIKES! It was another typical week - swim practice, volleyball practice, volleyball tournament on Saturday. I mean, really. What's new? Nothing. Except there is ALWAYS something new with The 4 B's. That's how we roll! And this was our first week with five days of swim instead of three. I am so grateful things worked out the way they did, though - Britt won't be changing swim coaches until May, which is when club volleyball will be over. This worked out well because the pool and volleyball court are very close to one another. Practice times are also close, which makes things easier for all of us, schedule-wise. We are oh-so-thankful for this blessing!
Above, Brailey with her teammate Sydney. I thought they were so cute in their tie-dye. Brailey, unbelievably and very out of character, forgot to wear hers last Saturday, but by golly, she remembered it this time. They made these at the Team BBQ, and every single shirt turned out cute!
It was actually a rough day of volleyball for Bray. She wasn't playing her best or feeling her best. Emotionally, she has had a lot to deal with all season long. They only won one match all morning long in pool play, but they could have easily won them all. Still, they didn't. But in the afternoon bracket play, they won! This was a first for this team, and even though it was the "Consolation Bracket," it still ended on a high note, which this team really needed. And Brailey picked up her play in the afternoon, as well. She is already extremely mature and has dealt with a lot of issues with incredible poise, and once again, she picked herself up and rose to the occasion. I am so proud of her. I wish I could have been like her when I was her age. But I wasn't, and I am still dealing with the aftereffects of my childhood friendships, like never feeling "good enough." But Brailey is an old soul, and yes, I might be barn blind, but I don't think I'm wrong when I say she is truly a special kid. I can't really go into details, but suffice to say she is mature beyond her years and as wise as they come. She is definitely an asset to her team, and a good example, as well.
One of the issues she's been dealing with are sore feet. They hurt her all the time. She tweaked her knee in one of the morning games, but played on. She has one shin that is continually sore and a few other ailments, as well. But you would never know it. She is tougher than nails! And she still managed to do her line judge duty. We are doing what we can to help her body recover, but if you have any ideas, we would love to hear them!
I love this picture of my little B's. Yes, Britt is on his Kindle. Yes, Brailey is on Instagram. But they are together, and they don't get to be on their devices very often. Britt also finished one of his Fablehaven books, and Brailey needed something to distract her from her emotions on this day. I love how their clothes match! And they both have something on their heads. They are just too cute for words, and it breaks my heart that they've grown so much. What happened to my little toddlers?! I am so thankful they have each other. Britt was such a good brother to Brailey on this day, when she really needed a friend. I am grateful to my toes for their friendship!
Happy girls! They ended the day with a win, and that was a win in more ways than one.
Do you wonder why Britt is holding up a two and a three? Well, remember the first picture? He is referring to his teeth, of which he lost TWO in THREE days! Epic week for tooth loss. And, I must say, an epic kid. Both of them, actually, are QUITE epic, and I could not love them more!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Volleyball Saturday and Easter Sunday Birthday

More club volleyball this past Saturday. Brady had his World Famous Volleyball Chair parked for this one. And we found a super cool "Setter" headband for Bray! She loves it, and I couldn't resist getting it for her. She played really well and had a good time.
Her friend Megan, pictured below with her, was there with her team, and so they got to hang out with each other for a little bit. They met during their Kidsports Volleyball Season, and they instantly bonded with each other. Megan is a year older, but they are both Catholics and love their religion and have super sweet, kind, loving hearts. Megan is so refreshing, because she is also very positive and funny. Brailey loves spending time with her, and they would have had a big time together if they had made the same teams. But such is life, and they were thrilled to watch each other play and to visit. They do see each other at school every now and then, as well, which is nice. I love Megan because she thinks I am a cool mom, and she tells Brailey how fun I am. Ha!
Another friend below, teammate Nikki, who was also on Brailey's club volleyball team last year. Nikki's dad was one of Brailey's coaches last year, and he has been a huge supporter of her, this year.
In fact, in one of the games, Brailey barely made her serve over (lots of power, but it hit the net and then went over). Rick (Nikki's dad) said, "She needs a higher toss." He understands that the high toss is what works for Brailey. So I said, "Tell her!" We were sitting right behind her, but he said, "No, no! She'll make the adjustment this time and get it." And guess what Brailey did? Exactly what he said she would! He knows her volleyball game pretty well. We had a big laugh about it afterwards. 
And then, Easter Sunday, which was also Brady's birthday! Even though we really wanted to sleep in, we made it to mass, and we were fortunate to get a picture of us with the Whites, another Catholic family we've known since Brailey was in first grade. Our kids have gone through school and religious sacraments together, our boys are best friends, and they are incredibly inspirational to us. We strive to be the kind of devout Catholics they are, and we love them dearly!
Brady's little B's made him some amazing birthday cards. Of course, they were WWE. Brailey's was Macho Man, and how cute is the picture of Brady's head she glued on Randy's body? Britt chose The Miz, which really was AWESOME. Brady loved them both!
Brady had asked for a new tablet, a tractor and a guitar for his birthday. My mom was super clever, and got him everything on his list! Brady got a huge kick out of this.
After a nice birthday lunch at Applebee's where Brady finally got to enjoy POTATOES (he gave them up for Lent) and Britt got to have FRENCH FRIES (which he gave up for Lent), we came home and relaxed for a bit before the kiddos colored their Easter eggs. 
It was a great day - a special Easter and a special birthday. What more could we ask for?

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...