Monday, June 22, 2015

Nothin' Like Sweet Summer

Last week was sweet, in more ways than one. First of all, the weather was perfect! Not too hot, not too cold, but juuuuuuuuuuuuust right. And although we still had some scheduled obligations, they all worked out perfectly. Britt started swimming at Amazon for practice, which is a longer drive, and the times are all over the place rather than one set time, but the place is so nice! Brailey can swim there next week, if she wants, and Britt can have some free time playing after practice, if he feels like it. Last week, Bray had a dance camp three nights of the week, so we didn't get to do the free swim, but next week will be a great opportunity for them both to have fun in the water. I only managed to capture a few pictures last week. I missed a lot, dang it. But Brailey's dance camp was great! The first night, she came home in tears, because she thought she didn't do well and was one of only three middle schoolers in the camp - all the rest were high school girls. But after emailing the camp director, I learned Brailey did just fine and guess what? The next two nights of the camp were fantastic! She had herself a great time, and now she is going to try the dance team when school starts. She is still pretty down on volleyball, so maybe this will be her "sport." Who knows? We are keeping an open mind. Anyway, I just caught a few random pictures. Above, I thought she looked cute in her boots, yoga pants and bikini top, which is what she chose to ride her horse in. Below, my sweet Alvin, watching her saddle Tex down below him.
I looked up the hill to check on her, and this is what I saw. Britt had been playing on the hill, but he came down to chat with his sis. So, so sweet!
And now, she is in Pendleton at her first Rodeo Bible Camp. She did NOT want to go, and I was reluctant to send her, but Brady insisted she was ready, and he knows everyone who is running the camp, and so she went. She was extremely nervous, but I think this picture shows that she is doing well. Brady is working in the area and staying in Pendleton so he can have dinner with her every night. Joe Meling, one of Brady's friends and one of the camp leaders told Brady, "I'm not worried about her. I'm worried about you!" So funny! And he has already texted Brady today to let him know Brailey is doing just fine. What a relief! I'm really glad they were able to take this little journey together - they are so close, Brady and Brailey. I admit I have been teary and my eyes have leaked a few times. But that is the BITTERsweet part of parenting, isn't it? Letting them spread their wings so they can learn to fly. 

Yesterday was the first official day of summer. It was also Father's Day. I can feel it already - this summer is going to be the SWEETEST SUMMER EVER!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Mike Morris Invitational 2015 Swim Meet Weekend

Our first weekend of the summer, and it was wonderful! We had a swim meet both days, and an equine adventure, right here in the Willamette Valley. Bright and early on Saturday, Brady and Brailey did something new and different - they went to a Trail Horse Competition. At first, just Brailey was going to do it, but then Brady decided to enter it with her on his colt, Mater, and they both had an absolute blast! Meanwhile, Britt and I went to the swim meet, and he had a blast, as well, swimming and hanging out with his swim buddies. He swam really well and was excited to be improving his times. He was so happy with one of his races, he lifted me in the air! In another race, he won his heat handily and thought he came in last, because he didn't see anybody next to him. He was so blue until I told him he came in first (in his heat) and then he was ecstatic! It was a fun meet to watch him and to see all the hard work and dedication paying off for him.
He and his friends played a lot of cards. Britt LOVES playing cards. It was nice, because the kids he has become friends with didn't bring their tablets (Kindles, iPads, etc.), and neither did Britt! He had a great time socializing and just hanging out, visiting and being a boy. It was great! It is nice to know other parents want their kids to be social, as well. This is proof they CAN survive and be entertained without a device.
Britt absolutely LOVES his coach, Coach Trevor. He has a tremendous amount of respect for him. He loved his old coach, Britta, as well, and was worried about moving up with a new coach, but he thinks Trevor walks on water. Below, you see him getting some great advice before his race. He checks in before each race and then checks out afterwards. I don't know how the coaches do it all! They watch each swimmer and check in/out with each one, as well. Amazing!
And then we moved on to Sunday, which called for an earlier start time, which was quite a bit chillier. They started playing cards, right off the bat. 
One of the boys Britt has clicked with is Charlie. They hit it off last year, actually, but Charlie moved up last fall, and they haven't been able to see each other until now. They are both sweet, tender souls, somewhat shy, the babies of their families, and seem to have a lot in common. It was fun to watch them cheer each other on in their races and also to see them pick up right where they left off last summer. 
And these two enjoyed playing cards, as well. They talked my ears off, nearly nonstop, about how much fun the trail course was and what all the obstacles were and what their horses would do and how they did it and now they want me to enter the next one on Alvin, and OH MY STARS! Yes, they had an absolute blast, and I am so happy they did. I love it!  
Britt is giving the "thumbs up" to his teammate, who was in the lane next to him. I am so happy I caught this on film!
Above, Britt and a boy he was on a relay team with. They were getting their feet warm in the hot tub before the race. The weather wasn't freezing cold, but it wasn't hot, either.
You never know what you might find on your camera. For instance, I found these two pictures, which I didn't even take. I set my camera down for an instant, and someone took these "selfies." I got a kick out of this when I was downloading the pictures - they're pretty cute, aren't they? Anyway, it was a fun weekend, and a great way to kick off the summer! HELLO, SUMMER - we are ready for you!

Friday, June 12, 2015

And That's A Wrap - Yes! Yes! Yes!

We survived another school year (last day was on Wednesday). Whoop-whoop! This one was full of ups and downs, but mostly ups. It wouldn't be life if there wasn't struggle along the way. Britt said, "Let's both wear our Daniel Bryan shirts on the last day of school!" Brailey wholeheartedly agreed with him. So they are doing the "Yes!" poses in these pictures. (If you don't know, Daniel Bryan is one of the WWE's biggest stars, and he has the Yes Movement and does a "YES! YES! YES!" chant with his arms doing the number one up and down and the entire crowd yells it with him.) In any case, I was tickled they wanted to wear matching shirts!
 One last picture of the sign at Buena Vista. Good bye to grade school!
Brailey won a couple of awards at her school assembly. For Honor Roll and Artistic Excellence!
And later, we met my friend Bethani with her two daughters fro FroYo at Dickie Yo's, and then Brailey went on a walk with them for Walk It Off Wednesday, which we are going to try to do every Wednesday this summer. Below, Bray and Isa. We met for FroYo to celebrate their birthdays - they both turned 13 just days apart. It will be great for them to see each other this summer. Oh yah! Or should I say, "YES!" Summer has arrived!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Sunday Swim Meet

After a busy Saturday celebrating Brailey's birthday, we zipped back up the road on Sunday for Britt's swim meet. He missed Saturday in order to celebrate the big 13th birthday on Saturday, but he had a great time on Sunday and swam his heart out! Above, he and Brailey passed the time in between races by playing cards.
Getting ready for the IM relay. Sadly, they were disqualified by one of the team members, but Britt was understanding about it. He said, "That's okay - this was his first time swimming this race, so he didn't know what he was supposed to do." I appreciated Britt's compassion. He managed to shave time off all his races, so that was good, and now he is ready for another big weekend of swimming this coming weekend. Go Britt!
Wherever he goes, he always has his own personal fan club, and me, The Paparazzi, as I call myself. It was a great day, and a nice wrap to an exciting week. Now we are ready for summer vacation to begin, because we really do need a break from the extreme hustle and bustle. We're all set to have another fantastic summer!

Brailey Shaye Becomes a Teenager - Lucky Number 13

She was so excited for this day, and was up at 5:40 in the morning. Not since her first birthday has there been a birthday with such lovely weather for her. The day was absolutely perfect, from start to finish, including the fact that it was on a Saturday and history was made when the Triple Crown was won by American Pharoah. It was a birthday she will never forget!
She wanted a bible, and of course my mom got her a really cool Teen Catholic one (she's been reading it every night). Grandma also got her this beautiful new rosary, along with a few other goodies, of course, but the bible and rosary were huge hits. I am so grateful she loves our religion!
The cutest "little" brother in the world - he didn't have school the day before her birthday, and so he worked extra hard on wrapping her gift and making her card. It turned out really well and she loved it!
Thankfully, she was appropriately touched at how hard he worked on her card. Special moment... 
Britt thought we had forgotten to get him something for his Fifth Grade Promotion, but of course we didn't. However, because it was WWE merchandise, he had to wait for Brailey's birthday to open it. She also had WWE goods, and I knew if she saw his, she would know she was getting the same stuff. So it was a nice surprise for Britt on her birthday, as well - he was thrilled!
Her cake. It was inspired by her former volleyball coach. Brailey and his daughter played club volleyball together the past two years, and at the last tournament, she was telling him all about her favorite wrestlers and how she wants to be a WWE Diva when she grows up, and how she didn't have a name picked out yet, but that Britt's was Bruiser Britt Murray. Later in the day, he said, "I've got it! The perfect wrestling name - Brailey the Beautiful!" She was flattered, of course, and I thought it was perfect for her cake, which was, if you can't tell, the WWE Divas Champion Belt. She LOVED this cake! It had to be red velvet with cream cheese frosting - it was delish! (No, I didn't make it.)
For her birthday, because it was her 13th and also because she and her friends had established a celebratory tradition, we went miniature golfing at Camp Putt. This small celebration was the first party she's had since she was in Kindergarten (we chose to do small family celebrations instead), but it was perfect! She has three friends she is really tight with, and they have celebrated each other's birthday with just the four of them all year long. They each chose something fun and special to do, such as ice skating and makeovers at the Beauty College. Brailey chose Camp Putt, and they had a blast!
Before her friends got there, we scoped out the courses and picked the one we wanted to play. And snapped a few pictures along the way.
 The Four Amigas!
The girls played together, and then Britt, Brady and I played together. Britt and Brady take their golfing quite seriously. But guess who had a hole in one? ME! And guess who won the five bucks Brady put up for the winner between all of us, girls included? ME! Beginner's luck, I think... Miniature golf is a blast! We all had a wonderful time, and we picked the absolute best time to do it - we beat the crowd!
After golf, we headed to the pizza parlor for pizza and games and presents. Her friends were so thoughtful in their gifts! We are grateful she has this great group of girls to call her besties.  
She was very touched by their gifts. Truly! Her friends know her well.
Britt had as much fun as anyone! Here, he is playing Pac Man.
The game behind them was a big hit, and they played it many times, and almost won the grand prize, which was a Samsung Tablet! They were mere points away. Ellie came away with a magic 8 ball that was a nice prize, which she loved. She, Brailey and Britt asked it questions all the way to her house on the ride home.
That evening, Britt was up to serve. It was his second time, and he did a fabulous job. He looks like a veteran, now. After visiting with Father David, it turns out we know the same people from Harney County, and his best friend was my neighbor as a kid!
And last but not least, the cake... She was so happy with this cake, grateful for her special day, loved all her gifts, enjoyed the party, was thrilled about the Triple Crown, and went to bed a satisfied teenager. She is such a good kid, she deserved every bit of happiness that came her way. We are so blessed by her and can't wait to see what the next 13 years bring for our Brailey the Beautiful, inside and out!

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...