Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Big Decision = Big Change

Big decisions = big changes. Boy do they ever! We had a hard decision to make a few weeks ago. It required a lot of praying and talking and reflecting. We made a list of pros and cons. And thankfully, we feel like we made the right choice. Our big decision was whether or not Brailey should pursue volleyball. After playing since she was in third grade, she made the choice to "hang up her knee pads" and not to play any more. Instead, she has joined the dance team, and for the first time in over a year, we have seen our girl happy again!

You may think this is a silly thing to get so worked up about, but let me tell you, it was a big deal for us. For one thing, Brailey improved so much, last year, she became a dynamite little setter. And we have invested thousands of dollars and countless hours in volleyball for her, including club fees, gear, time and travel. But you know what? If she loved the game, all of that was worth every penny and second. When it came right down to it, she didn't love it enough.

It was a huge decision to make, because in this town, where the competition gives new meaning to the word fierce, it meant she was, is, in fact, giving it up forever. Because if you don't continue to play and evolve as a player, you won't make the team in high school or a good team in club. It isn't like a small town where you can take a year off and then start again if you change your mind the next year. If you quit now, you are quitting for good.

Times have certainly changed, that's for sure. Where I'm from, sports are more seasonal, and sure, you can work on things in the off-season, too, but it isn't entirely necessary. In the Willamette Valley, and especially Eugene, if you don't play year round and improve your game constantly, then you aren't going to get anywhere. So we knew that, which is why it was a big decision. It is hard to give up something that you've worked so hard at.

Last season was a bad one. It had its good parts, too. But it was a tough, tough season. Before it was over, Brady and I had to take her to see a sports therapist. There were several factors that contributed to it being hard. Mainly, her coach was not a kind, approachable coach, nor did she understand the importance of team bonding. We came out of a Kidsports season with the most phenomenal coach we could ever hope to have straight into a club season where the coach was the complete opposite. And because of the poor coaching ability, things happened. Things that Brady and I should have stepped up and said something about, but we thought it would be better to help Brailey work through and to be mature about. She is so mature and far beyond the maturity level of her peers, we thought she could handle it. After all, this is real life, right? And real life isn't perfect. In retrospect, we should have said something. But we didn't, and when it was all said and done, we were all relieved to be done with the season. It was a huge relief! The heartache I suffered and sleep I lost as her mother was significant, let me tell you.

She played a couple of sand volleyball tournaments with her dear friend over the summer, and she had a great time! Sand volleyball is so much fun! I thought that would be the ticket to reviving that fire in her, to awakening the part of her that loves the game. But it soon became apparent that her heart just wasn't there, which was unusual for Brailey. And so as the summer ended and school began and the time to make a decision came, we felt this overwhelming sense of pressure to make the right choice.

And you know what? We did! This past weekend, she saw her good friend Nikki. They played volleyball together the past two seasons and their friendship has really bloomed as they've made their way into teenager status. And so after the football game this past Saturday, they bumped the volleyball around and had fun. But did Brailey feel like she had made the wrong choice? Not at all! And if her heart was in volleyball, none of the stuff she went through on her team would have mattered, anyway. She would have wanted to play no matter what!

The best part is how happy she is to be on the dance team. She absolutely LOVES it! This is what her heart wants to do. It is a whole new world for us, and one we know nothing about, but I'm sure we'll figure it out in no time at all. If we had only known about dance team two years ago! She is excited to go to practice, works on the routines at home, does the work to get better. She is thrilled with their costumes and can't wait to wear them. She is... HAPPY!

And that makes me happy. To be honest, I think it was harder for me to give up on volleyball than it was for Brailey. I love the game! And I loved watching her play and do so well. What parent doesn't want their child to be a star? But when your kid doesn't love what they are doing, you can feel it, and it takes all the joy right out of it. And then the sacrifice of time and money gets tough to take. When they love what they are doing, I will move heaven and earth to make it happen!

Not only does she love dance, she loves her horse and she loves barrel racing and taking her lessons from our new trainer. And now she will have more time to devote to that, as well. Volleyball took away from a lot of things Brailey loves, like her school play, barrel racing, and social activities with her friends. Dance team will be much more in line with a career in acting, also, which is what she wants to do.

And when it is all said and done, I believe everything happens for a reason. We made some incredible friends along our volleyball journey! Really, really good friends. Friends we will always have, volleyball or not. People we never would have met otherwise! We experienced a lot of jealousy, hatred, isolation and heartache, as well. And I'm sure we will have more of that, because that's life, isn't it? She's a nice, pretty, successful girl, and that makes other girls (and even parents and grandparents, we've learned!) jealous. If you love what you're doing, though, it doesn't matter quite so much. I'm really happy for Brailey to be happy, and I can't wait to see what her future brings! Who knows? Maybe she will be a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader, someday. Whatever she becomes, her volleyball experience will be an asset, and if she can handle a season like she had last year, she can handle anything.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

First Duck Game of the Season

We were short one B, who was in Pendleton working his Montana Silversmiths gig, but we had a fabulous time on the nicest, most beautiful day ever at the Duck game this past Saturday. Above, a selfie before the game, and below, our "OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO" faces. Brailey was invited to go with her friend Nikki to the game, which allowed Britt and I to go together. It was perfect!
And even more perfect, both kids said on our drive to Autzen that they wished they could go to a "tailgate" someday. Well, unbeknownst to us, Rick, Nikki's dad, took us to a big tailgate party! They had the most delicious food and treats ever, and not all the refreshments were of the alcoholic nature - they even had some fizz! (Fizz is soda pop, for those of you who don't know my lingo.) Everyone was so nice! Both kids enjoyed it, and so did I. It was so fun to see all the Duck fans and to be a part of the pre-game celebration. There's just nothing like an Oregon Duck game!

One of the biggest highlights was running into members of the Oregon Duck volleyball team! Brailey and Nikki were very happy to have their picture taken with these girls. Nikki's dad, Rick, was one of Brailey's first club volleyball coaches. Don't they look so cute (and short!) with these girls?!
You never know what kind of attire you will see at a game. This is what makes them so much fun!
And here you see a little more excitement and happiness on their faces - they were beyond thrilled to get a picture with the Oregon Duck cheerleaders! Also, they don't look quite so short, do they? It was so sweet of these girls to let me take their picture. They were just heading out to the field, but still took the time for us to snap a quick photo. 
Me and my boy. He couldn't wait to get a hot dog! He is getting so big... Look at those long legs! 
Britt and I thought this character was entertaining. He had this stuffed Duck he positioned ever-so-carefully, and then he watched the game on the jumbo tron instead of the field. And below, our sweet Oregon Duck came over to say hi to the opposing mascot and cheer squad. He blew them kisses as he left. It was super fun and sweet - I love good sportsmanship like this! 
And as we were leaving, we ran into this fella. He was more than happy to have a picture with Britt, and after we were done, some other folks asked if they could have theirs taken with him, as well. It was a truly spectacular day, weather-wise, and a really fun game to attend. I'm glad we got to do something fun while Brady was in Pendleton, which is where we really wanted to be - at Roundup! There's always next year, right? And we all had fun, which is all that matters. These are the days! 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Aunt Suezy Comes to Town

If everyone could have a Suezy in their life, the world would be a happier place! Although it wasn't for long enough, we got to see our beloved Suezy on Labor Day. We felt so blessed to enjoy a delicious breakfast with her and her best friend, Joanne, before they headed back down the freeway to California. Aunt Suezy is a hoot, to say the least! She gave Britt the nickname "Britty," and he loves it! I think she could call him anything, and he would love it. If we ever forget that we are loved, all we need to do is think of Suez, because there is absolutely no doubt in our minds that we are loved and cherished by her. The 4 B's are her biggest fans!
Big brother and little sister. Sibling love! We had some fun with our candids in the parking lot of IHOP. Can you tell?

Friday, September 11, 2015

Lovely Labor Day Weekend Wedding in Central Oregon

There is nothing I love more than a good wedding (okay, maybe I do love a FEW things more than a good wedding, but the point being, I really love weddings!), and it was wonderful to celebrate Brady's good friend Randy's wedding to his beautiful and fun bride, Kathy. Brady and one of his dearest friends, Clint Corey, were the "best men." They were really happy to see one another - now that Clint lives in Colorado, they don't get the opportunity to see one another as often as they would like. Below, my handsome cowboy! He doesn't consider himself a cowboy, but it's still in there. He rode his trusty steed Alvin just the other day and had a big time. A lady at the wedding said to him, "You look like you know how to ride a horse!" And he said, "Yah, I do." I think he was even a little proud of this fact, much to his surprise. He may decide he wants to be a cowboy, yet.
And my pretty girl, Brailey Shaye. My mom got her this amazing leather jacket, and it was perfect for this wedding! Although it was sunny, it was extremely cold and windy. Who would have thought the weather would turn cold like that? But we all managed to have a wonderful time, despite the temperature. When there's good food and even better friends around, the weather just doesn't seem to matter all that much.
Brady was so happy to see Bailey, Clint's daughter, who had the Wedding of the Century last summer. I still compare every wedding we go to to hers! It was great to see Bailey and her sweet husband, Joe. They are a darling couple, and meant to be, no doubt about it! They warm my heart...
Brady is competing with me for the title of Paparazzi, these days. Not really, but he does enjoy the camera on his phone! Below, the Corey and Murray crew! From left to right, Britt, me, Bailey, Joe, Brailey, Brady, Beverly, Clint and Zane.
A beautiful cross made out of old ropes by a local Central Oregon artist. Gorgeous!
Above, Brady and Joe, and below, our dear friend Kedo Olson, who officiated the ceremony, and the groom, Randy Amis.
Kathy was a super fun bride, and she danced her way down the aisle. Adorable!
You may have seen the picture on Facebook of Kedo with his hand on my forehead, "helping me" with my bangs. Here is a much more serious version of that photo.
We love these two newlyweds so much! They said the past year has been even more amazing than their wedding. We can't wait to see them again! By the way, it was much warmer in the house! I stole Brady's jacket, because I obviously did NOT dress appropriately. In any case, we all had a fantastic time - the bride and groom were adorable, the food was delicious (best wedding food ever!), and the company was amazing. Another great wedding in the books!

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...