Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Starry Night Cupcakes

On the day of Brailey's graduation, she didn't have school. They had a lunch for all the academic honors kiddos, and then graduation practice afterwards. She had been planning on making her favorite teacher, Mrs. Kronser, Starry Night Cupcakes for months. I will admit I didn't think they would turn out. I even warned her not to be disappointed if they didn't, as things rarely turn out without a practice run. However, I shouldn't have doubted my little artist. She is, afterall, the great artist Henry Faulkner's great niece. They turned out super cute! She couldn't wait to give them to Mrs. Kronser, which she did right before her luncheon. Starry Night is Mrs. Kronser's favorite painting, according to Brailey. It is also Brailey's part of the piano she painted over the course of the school year (see Art in the Courtyard post). In any case, it was super sweet of Brailey, Mrs. Kronser loved them, and I would have to say it was a successful venture. I'm so glad my girl is a giver - that, more than anything, makes my heart smile.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Britt's Summer Swim Meet - The Last Hurrah?

This past weekend we spent most of our time at the pool for Britt's team swim meet. This meant some very early mornings, as we had to arrive by 7:AM. So much for summer sleeping in time, right? But it was a great meet, and Britt's first of the year, since he has been playing basketball. Basketball has really stolen his heart, at this point, so we aren't sure if he will continue to do both, or if we will just stick with basketball for the next couple of years. It is a tough decision we are struggling with. For his part, Britt was ready to switch to basketball, but after this meet, he is having second thoughts. He has made some really good friends, and he swam well at the meet, not to mention the hours of swimming he has put in and all the hard work. He has also really enjoyed being in good shape on the basketball court due to his swimming. Brady and I appreciate the discipline and dedication it takes to be a swimmer. Swimmers are among the most amazing athletes in the world - if you don't believe it, try to do what they do and see how you feel. Swimming isn't for losers, that's for sure. So we are grappling with another big decision. By the end of the summer, we will likely have it figured out, for better or worse.
Britt has always been cute, but he has gotten so handsome in the past few months. Even with braces, he is growing into a fine looking young man. I think it is his happiness and sweet spirit that comes through his face. He is well-liked by his teammates, and always has a special handshake for everyone. This started with Britt and I - it used to be just "our" thing. In fact, my feelings were a little hurt when I realized he was doing it with everyone last year. But I am impressed he can remember all the different ones he has with his many friends, and guess what else? He and I actually have two special handshakes, now. We have our John Cena, and we have a new one called The Donald Trump.
Brailey started her high school dance team practices at the beginning of May, and she had an early practice on Friday morning. So she came to the meet in her dance gear. It gave her some interesting tan lines.
Britt and one of his first real friends from swim, Charlie. Charlie is an amazing swimmer - he is one of the special ones who has that certain something extra, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him at the Olympics, someday. He is in a different group than Britt, so they don't get to see each other much. It was nice to see them catching up.
One of his first races was a doozy - the 400 Freestyle.
In the afternoon, we dropped Brailey off for a swim party of her own with her friends, and then came back to the afternoon session of the meet so I could take pictures of the older kids. I let Britt have a snow cone, which made him very happy.
 Early on Saturday morning. It was quite chilly on Saturday, and didn't warm up until late afternoon. Brrrrrrrrrr!
Britt and one of his new swim friends, Shaymus, who is from Pennsylvania. He and Britt are greeting each other with their special handshake.
This is the first time Britt wrote his races on his arm himself. Bittersweet, for me, as I didn't mind doing it for him, but I do understand he needs to do it himself.
And then, the last morning. I asked Britt to let me get some good pictures of his last day, and so he posed for me. I think this one turned out really well! And below, Brady and Brailey are so funny! They are quite the posers, these two.
Sunday was a much nicer morning and day, weather-wise. We all got some rays!
Everyone has to contribute volunteer hours to the swim team. I am very grateful to have the photography duties. Brady took these two pictures with his phone. I have my camera in my hands in both of them. But I am also finally wearing my super cool fedora, which Brady reminded me to wear. I always forget that I have it, which is a shame, because I absolutely love it!
A few fun moments behind the blocks. Britt was so incredibly tired on Sunday, her forgot to put his team jammers on. Thankfully, he had a spare pair in his swim bag for just such occasions. His legs have grown significantly since he wore these blue ones. I believe they were from third grade, if you can believe it. They worked, though!
And here it is, what may be his last start! We just don't know. If he gives swim team up, he can always come back to it in high school.
He swam a fantastic race! We are so proud of him for giving it his all. He was happy he shaved time off of all his races. It will be interesting to see what his future holds - basketball with a little swimming, or just basketball? Time will tell the story, and I can't wait to see how it unfolds.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Crow Valley Trail Series - Extreme Trail Riding

More than graduation, Brailey wanted Grandma and Papa to come watch her and Tex in the trail riding event last Friday morning. And even though they had a lot of things going on at home, they stayed another night for her and went with us to see her navigate the course. You can see how much my dad loves Tex in these pictures. It is amazing the bond the two of them have. Whenever my dad comes over and Tex hears his voice, his ears perk up, no matter where he is. I told you I think horses are people - I think my dad agrees when it comes to Texi-Man.
When we got to the trail course, my dad was amazed at the tall trees. I hadn't even noticed them in all my trips to this place. But they are quite tall!
Brailey and her best friend, Grandma. These two are tight with each other. They are also a lot alike - dancers, actresses, cookers, artists, decorators, fashionistas, gardeners, cowgirls, cat lovers, dog lovers, and even more!
After she warmed him up in the arena, his feet got clogged with dirt. Brailey asked her dad if he could please clean them, and he was just leaving to go find a hoof pick when Papa appeared with his knife and cleaned them all out for her. Brailey's hero!
The first obstacle. Who would want to walk through this spooky wall? Tex did it. Last year Alvin and I didn't even come close to it.
We all got to come along on the course and watch her. This allowed me to take pictures.
The Best Trainer Ever, Pasty Hayes, brought our horse Mater to take him through the course. Last year Brady rode Mater on the course, and he refused almost all of the obstacles. This year, he did almost every single one. Patsy did an outstanding job with him!
I can't believe he walked up on this! But the turn always gets him. You can see Papa below, trying to coach her through it. This trail course stuff, which she absolutely loves, is going to help Brailey learn to ride even better. Papa was an excellent coach, giving tiny bits of the best advice, thinking things over.
One of the obstacles was confusing, so Papa walked through it to show her where to go. It was quite funny! Only my dad would do such a thing.
It was a great morning! Both Tex and Mater did well. With graduation and the awards assembly, my camera ran out of memory. (I can't believe I take so many pictures!) But I got a few good ones. There are two more trail events coming up in the series, so hopefully Brailey will do well in them, if we are able to make them work in our busy summer schedule. It is a wonderful event run by fun, amazing people. I highly recommend doing it, if you are interested. Fun and challenging - what more can you 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...