Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Brittster at his Camps

It was the summer of basketball camps for Britt. After his last swim meet in June, he made the decision to give up swimming and to focus on basketball. This was not a decision we made lightly. But he is far enough along in swimming that if things don't pan out in basketball, he can always go back to swimming. And he also likes golf, so he has a couple of options. But his heart is in basketball, and he loved every single camp he attended this summer. He made friends at each one and learned something new. Before his first camp, he said to me, "My goal is to learn at least one thing at each camp. If I learn just one thing, Mom, it'll be worth it." I agreed. Above, his first camp, the Sheldon High School Basketball Camp. They worked him good at this one, and his feet were so sore when he got home, we had to soak them in ice water in Brailey's foot spa. But he was ready to go the next day!
The next camp was one of his favorites, The Oregon Duck Basketball Camp. This camp was from morning until night, a very long day, and the first day I fully anticipated picking up a tired, grumpy boy. Instead, I was met with a joyful, radiant kid who was happier than I've ever seen him. His team won the tournament held over the course of the week, a fact he is still proud today. He was extremely exhausted the day after the camp ended. He was so tired, he actually fell asleep in our pickup while we were driving - he hasn't done that since he was a wee little toddler.
He got his shirt signed by Ducks players and coaches, which made him super happy. He is saving this shirt - it is sacred!
Next, he hit the NCU Basketball Camp, which was put on by Luke Jackson, the former Oregon Duck and NBA basketball player and now current head coach of Northwest Christian University. This camp was impressive, because they talked to the boys about sharing the ball and the importance of being unselfish on the court. This is the most important thing boys this age can learn, in my opinion. In our short experience with the game, we've seen more ball hogs than we ever dreamed it was possible to exist. Even better, at the end of each day, Luke told them to be sure to thank their parents for spending their hard earned money on the camp. On the last day he said, "Be sure to thank whoever paid for you to come here. You are really fortunate to get to go to a basketball camp. My family didn't have enough money to send me to camps when I was your age, so you are very lucky. Please, tell your parents thank you." Thank YOU, Coach Jackson.
Britt was so thrilled to get his Luke Jackson jersey signed by Luke Jackson himself. He also got a plaque with a card in it signed. Luke was so kind and generous and downright sweet, and Britt will be one of his biggest fans forever. In fact, he wants to play for Coach Jackson in college. This was a fun moment for Britt and frankly, for me, too. Luke has always been my favorite Duck basketball player - I remember seeing him and the other Luke on campus back when I worked at the University. We are looking forward to seeing his NCU Beacons play this year.
And last but not least, we ended the camp run with a ball handling and shooting camp, which was an excellent camp. Britt met even more friends and learned some amazing ball handling skills. He was so happy to go to camp every single day. He has come a long way in less than a year. In November, he will have a full year of play under his belt. I'll never forget those first tryouts. It will be fun to see where he lands this year. I'm his mother, of course, but as far as I'm concerned, his future looks bright! He works hard on his game, and he loves it, and those two elements are a winning combination. Go Britt!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Full Circles

Every now and then, you realize that God really does have a plan, and all of a sudden, things start making sense. Or you have a sort of "epiphany." Or your heart swells with love and you feel like you might burst with gratitude. As you may have guessed, this happened to me the other day as I was thinking about Brailey and dancing and volleyball. Ironically, volleyball led us to the best dance instructor she's ever had. Through all those years of volleyball, we met one family in particular that we really fell in love with, The Reeves. We are so excited that both of our girls will be freshman at the same school for the first year ever. So exciting! Finally, Brailey and Nikki can be together. Denise, the mom, used to be a dancer herself, and their daughter Alonna, who just graduated from high school, used to dance with Roshny, the owner of The Dance Factory. When it became apparent that Brailey needed more instruction in her dance technique, I looked all over town for lessons and ballet classes. But something told me to check in with Roshny, and it is one of the best decisions we ever made. Her instruction was fun, kind, caring and so clear to Brailey that she made amazing strides in her dancing. Life really does come full circle, sometimes.
Just this week, we made another full circle discovery. Her high school dance coach said she needed to keep a straighter back during her pliers. We were showing our riding instructor, Pasty, this move, just talking about dancing and relaxing and as soon as Patsy saw her do the move on land, she said, "That's exactly what you need to do when you're riding!" It was a powerful moment, because it made sense to all three of us. And so now when Brailey is doing pliers, she can think, "Sit!" She can pretend she is riding her horse. And when she is riding her horse, she can think about her pliers. Full circles. They can be powerful, when you realize them.
These pictures are from some of the lessons Brailey had with Roshny this summer. They are fun, because you can see the improvement as they progress. We are so grateful for all we learned from her, and frankly, I am thrilled to my toes that we can mesh the dance and riding. I love full circles.   

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Third and Final Crow Valley Trail Series 2016

Last weekend we found ourselves supporting Brailey at the last of the Crow Valley Trail Series. The third one of the year was by far the toughest one. Wowza! Brailey and Tex did well and had fun trying. She hasn't been riding Tex much, due to a limited amount of time between dance practice, painting her custom trash cans and riding Mater, but she did manage to ride Tex a few times before the event. It would have been better if they could have taken a lesson or participated in the trail clinic Julie Fisher had, but we just can't do it all, and so she simply did her best, and her best was pretty dang good. Best of all, her practice on the roping dummy this summer really paid off - she was one of five to rope the dummy the entire weekend! To say Brady was proud is a bit of an understatement.
It was so super hot! So they started nice and early, and although we arrived in good time, we didn't make it before nearly everyone else, and so we had to wait for a bit before she could do the course. However, the Crow Valley Trail Series group is full of rock stars, and they had everyone through the course in no time at all.
Britt decided he wanted to clean Tex's feet. Yes, the boy who "doesn't like horses." He is slowly coming to terms with the fact that maybe he does. He loved every ride he went on this summer, and even roped the dummy with Brailey a few times. There's a glimmer of a cowboy in there, whether he wants to admit it or not. 
Britt had my camera while I filmed some of the obstacles. He took this great shot of Brady and quite a few of the pictures of Brailey below. He's a got a glimmer of a photographer inside him, too - he got some really nice shots!
The course was back at Julie's place, this time, and below you can see her explaining to Brailey what she needs to do. Every single person at every single station was so kind and encouraging. Some of the obstacles were frustrating and tough, but the leaders always kept a positive attitude and found something kind to say. They were so sweet to Bray!
Below is Dr. Sandy Beal, a retired surgeon. We've known her for years, now, and she couldn't have been more helpful or encouraging to Brailey. We love Dr. Beal!
This obstacle is a fairly deep hole in the ground. There was no way Tex was going to go down into it. N-O. Nope. Can't say that I blame him.
They found great success on Crow Mountain, though. This was their forte, as they say.
Sheri, below, is another one of the sweet, sweet people who help run the trail course obstacles. Brailey had just roped the dummy right before this picture, and it was a mighty fine and perfect loop. You can see the video on our Facebook page, if you are interested, or on Instagram (
Julie and my boy B's. By this point, it was getting quite warm.
Brady and Sandy (Dr. Beal).
It was a bit of a disappointing day for Bray, because she was so close on some obstacles, and on others, they were a little too hard for her level. The youth and novice compete at exactly the same level as the open class, with the same 60 second time limit. It's certainly not easy. And like anything else, in order to be successful, you have to practice and put time into it. Time... The one thing we never have enough of. But trail is a great way to hone your riding skills and to learn how to ride correctly, and she still managed to have a good time. The roping saved the day, and when it comes right down to it, we were in it for fun. Until next year, that's a wrap on extreme trail riding!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

BSM Kustom Kanz

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeck! August is getting away! Didn't it just start? And now we are already halfway through? It has definitely been the busiest month of our summer, especially for Brailey. After her dance camp, rodeo bible camp and camping trip in Harney County, Brailey hasn't had much time at home this summer. When we are home, she's either been at dance practice, a riding lesson, a dance lesson or golfing. And in between all of that, she has managed to start up her amazing trash can business. And it is truly the most darling trash can business!
It all started with this can she made for her year end art project at school. She had to come up with a project of her own that she spent at least ten hours on. Her favorite person in the world, her Aunt Cindy in Texas, started the whole trash can craze a few years ago, and so Brailey decided to try her hand at painting one herself (with her Aunt Cindy's blessing). It turned out so cute! It was a huge hit at the auction. She got an order from a girl in the school office she worked with who saw her can, and from there, she got a couple more orders. And now, she is expanding her business and already has a new idea in the works (thank you Patsy Hayes for the creative thought!). Stay tuned for the new can that is coming.
This gives you a good idea of the size of a large can. They are quite a bit bigger than the small and medium sizes.
She signs them all with her initials, since they are, in fact, a work of art. 
The Daisy Can is her first special order. It turned out so well! The girl told her exactly how she wanted it. It is much cuter in person, because you can see the detail on the petals. The customer loved it! It is the medium size. 
From there, she made this great Tulip Can for a birthday gift for a special client's sister. This one has the tulips going all around it. It is so bright and cheery, you wouldn't believe it! This one is a large one.
And then our beloved friend and trainer, Patsy Hayes, wanted a small one with a picture of her boot and spur. Brailey painted this in a day, and I swear the boot looks just like the one Patsy sent to her. So super cute! This is a small can.
The Feather Can is my favorite so far. It is a small, and I had her make it as a gift for one of our friend's for her baby shower gift. We filled it with diapers. Her nursery colors are turquoise and red. Hopefully she will be able to use this even after the baby grows out of the nursery. So cute!
And Brailey's favorite and a design all her own she was dying to do, the Indian Headdress Can, which is turquoise and glitter. You can't see the glitter in the picture, but it is so amazing! She is selling this one. If you are interested, please let us know. It would be a darling grain bin, dirty clothes hamper, shoe storage, pet food storage, recycling bin... The possibilities are seriously endless! 
Brailey learned of her Great Uncle Henry Faulkner in the course of her art course this past year. He was a famous artist, and the Faulkner artistic gene is a very strong one, and passed down to every single Faulkner. He was cousins with William Faulkner. True story! Henry was Brady's dad's little brother. There is a lot of art on Instagram of Henry's, and I always tag Brailey's trash cans with his name. One person who knew Henry sent me a message and said Brailey paints similar to Henry. This made her so happy! Sadly, Henry died in a car crash. Brailey is truly talented, and as her mom, it is special to see her develop her talent. I am so impressed and proud! I am also grateful for her amazing art teacher, Mrs. Kronser, for teaching her how to paint, and for the fact that they have art at Monroe Middle School. And we are more grateful than words to Aunt Cindy Craighead of Lucky Ranch Style for letting Brailey use her spectacular idea. She gave Brailey her full blessing to create these, which was so sweet of her. I'm sure someone will try to copy the idea, but honestly, unless they can paint like Cindy or Brailey, they won't be the same. These are one-of-a-kind items, and I can't wait to see what other trash cans she creates. BSM Kustom Kanz - order yours today!

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...