Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Football and Family Fun

Last weekend was a very special weekend for our family. For the first time since they were babies, all four cousins were together! And it was a fun-filled time full of love and laughter and whole lot of Oregon Duck football. We started off with hamburgers barbecued by Brady. Brady loves to BBQ! He doesn't get to do it as often as he would like, since he is on the road all the time and we are rarely home on the weekends. Lanie gave his delicious burgers a 9, and Shawn gave them an 8. These were very high rankings, and Brady was proud.
After lunch, we made sure to have a picture taking session with several cameras. It is important to document such momentous and fun occasions. Below, Britt stole Brady's new Oregon Duck shoes. On a side note, Britt wears the same size as Brady, now. All of a sudden, his feet grew this summer! If he grows into his feet, he will be very tall, indeed. We are keeping our fingers crossed for some good height. Britt didn't go to the game this time - it was Shawn and the girls who got to go. But in true Duck form, Britt still dressed the part and looked like the authentic Duck fan he is.
It has been a good long time since these two sisters have been able to spend some time together. Lanie lives in Nevada, now, and is all grown up! She is a full-fledged adult, and as beautiful as ever. She got a kick out of "the twins," Brailey and Lexi. They made sure to dress alike, which required Britt letting Lexi borrow his special hat and sunglasses. He was happy to oblige, of course. Aren't they so cute?!
Uncle Shawn and his Goddaughter, Brailey Shaye. And Materbug photobombing in the background.

We all squished in the pickup so we could deliver them to Autzen Stadium. The traffic was easy peasy on the way there. These three cousins are so cute and beautiful. Happy girls are the prettiest!
Brailey had these two pictures on her phone. The one above is so special to us, because it is of our good friend, David. We seriously love this guy and he is one of our favorite people in the world! He works with the players and can be found on the sidelines of every Duck game, right on the 25 yard line. It was a great surprise to get this picture from Brailey. And below, she got a picture of "our guy," Brady Aiello on the jumbo-tron. We met him in the spring, and Brady just ran into him a couple of weeks ago. He is a super nice kid and does a fantastic job for the Ducks. We love having a player we can cheer for that we know - it makes it even more fun!
Meanwhile, at home, Brady and Britt watched the game on TV. It was intense, especially at the end. Sadly, we didn't get the win, but it was still a good game and the weather was beautiful. 
On the field, after the game. Twinsies!
This is a special picture. I think this is one of the first times my brother has been able to do something like this with his girls. His life has gone through a lot of change in the last year. I am so thankful he is in the place he's in. He's had to make some really tough decisions and his character has been completely assassinated in the process, but he is doing better than he has in years. The real Shawn, the person we always knew was in there somewhere, found his way back to his family, and we welcome him with open arms! People can speculate and judge and talk all they want - our family knows the truth of the situation. We also know how destructive and toxic compulsive liars are, and we are grateful to our toes Shawn was able to eliminate this from his life ("this" being a particular person who almost ruined our family, but didn't quite manage to get it done). The only thing that matters is that we have our family back, and family is everything!
After the game, we had a hot dog roast. The weather was so perfect! I wish I could have gotten better pictures, but I have yet to learn about that setting on my camera.
The "twins" above, posting on Instagram. And an array of hats, below. Lexi almost wore the Boise State hat - that is her team, and they were playing the Beavers just up the road in Corvallis (they won!). I'm glad she and Brailey decided to be twins, instead. They got to sit together, all by themselves, at Autzen, and Shawn and Lanie were a couple of sections over. They were close enough they could see each other, so that was cool for all of them and made Shawn feel better. At one point, there was a big commotion, because a drunk Duck fan punched the Colorado mascot. Brailey said she had so much fun watching everything that was going on, she hardly watched the game. I am so happy she and Lexi got to spend this time together!
The next morning, I cooked a big breakfast, and then the girls went for a little trail ride.
Lexi rode ole Texi-Man, and Lanie rode Alvin. Brady made sure everyone's stirrups were just right.
More picture opportunities!
Shawn wanted them all to make an "O," but Alvin and Mater were too distracted by the green grass under their noses. Still, it was a fun idea and another memory.
Lanie picked Shawn a couple of apples from the apple tree before they left.
Blue skies for days! They had a great ride, and we got lots of pictures.
We didn't want them to leave! Thankfully, we got a fun picture of all four cousins, with the oldest on top and the youngest on the bottom. Shortest to tallest, as Britt likes to point out. He is pretty proud to be taller than the girls. It was an amazing weekend, and we are all looking forward to more fun times like this. These are the days, right here. These are the blessed days!  

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Volleyball Folks - These Are My People!

I love this picture. It brings so much joy to my heart, and I'll tell you why. One is a dancer and the other is a volleyball player. They are both following their dreams and supporting each other all the way. There is a part of Brailey that wishes she could still play with Nikki, but not a big enough part to want to do all the work that is involved. And I am sure there is a part of Nikki that wishes Brailey still played, also. But the great thing is that they love and support each other.

We attended our first high school football team as official "high school parents," a couple of weeks ago. Brailey had dance practice after school and then she had to sell 50/50 raffle tickets, so we met her at the game. And what did we see when we arrived? She and Nikki, together, selling tickets. Nikki held the sign and Brailey sold the tickets, and I know I am a bit prejudiced, but they were so cute!

Brailey and I have been thrilled to watch Nikki play in her volleyball games. Nikki is doing so well! Ironically, Brailey knows every girl on the team except for a couple. And she loves their coach - he was and will forever be her favorite coach. Unfortunately, when we go to the games, she doesn't get to stay for the entire time, becauuse she has dance practice, but lucky for me, I do get to stay, and I absolutely love watching these girls! Of course, I have my favorites, who doesn't? And Nikki is at the top of the list, but there are several from previous teams that Brailey was on, and it is an absolute kick to watch and cheer them on.

On the day I took this picture of the two of them, which was right before Nikki played, I was working at the ticket desk with another dance mom. I was dreading the experience, but it turned out to be a blast! I got to see so many people from volleyball, and it made me truly happy to see them. The other dance mom said to me, "Wow, these are your people, aren't they?" And I thought, "Gosh! They really are! I love them all!" I never fit in with anyone, so it was a wonderful thought to think I have my own group of peeps. And I have missed them dearly. It is wonderful to get to see them again!

That's the the thing about kids and sports - you meet a lot of great people. You meet a lot of not-so-great people, too, and sometimes when you are in the middle of it, those folks can ruin it for you. Now that I'm on "the other side" of the court, so to speak, where Brailey isn't competing with some of the meaner ones, I can relax and cheer for everyone. Of course I still have some resentments from how some of them treated Brailey with their jealousy and spite, but for the most part, I am just thrilled to be there watching a game I love with girls I truly enjoy watching with absolutely no pressure. More than anything, I love visiting with my volleyball people.

As far as Brailey goes, her social circle has finally expanded for her. She has her core group of Spanish Immersion friends, she has her volleyball friends and her bestie, and she has new friends from her horse world she met over the summer. I am so happy for her to be able to meld these different groups together. What a blessing! It is going to be more fun than I ever imagined to watch all these different groups over the next four years.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Play a Round of Golf, Anyone?

You may have noticed The 4 B's have become a golfing family, nowadays. It all started with golf lessons in the spring, and from there, we have been learning and golfing all summer long! The picture above is from our first time on the golf course. We've come a long way from then, and know our golf lingo, the rules, how to keep score, etiquette on the course and even more. And we are still learning! Boy did Brady have a lot to teach us. He's golfed for years, and he has been so patient in teaching us new skills. This was a big part of our summer, and hopefully a part of our fall, if we ever have a spare day to fit it in. Here are some random pictures from my phone showcasing the fun we had. 
Above, Father's Day 2016. Brady wanted to go golfing, and golfing we went!
One of Britt's favorite things to do on the golf course is fetch stray balls.
Near the middle of the summer, we started playing Best Ball, with Team Kids vs. Team Parents. Team Kids won every time! Poor Brady... He didn't have the best partner. But we had fun!
Britt and I went golfing all by ourselves once - Brailey was at dance camp and Brady was out of town working. Britt had a basketball camp before we golfed, but he really wanted to go, and so we did. We only got through seven holes, because it started raining. BUT! This is where I got my very first PAR!

We had our own private "driving range" at home. It was nice! We have hit a lot of balls this summer.
Using that ball retriever again...
We had a big time in Harney County on the golf course back in July. Many memories were made!  
Brady rounded us up golf gear all spring and summer long. He found all of us really nice equipment at different Goodwills on his travels. Now it takes a pickup for us to get to the golf course. Four bags and four carts. That's a lot of golf gear!
The proud dad, watching his B's golf.
We started at one golf course in the early summer, and then moved on to a bigger one near the middle.
Britt couldn't wait to hit his ball in the sand. He got a kick out of it! 
One time, Brady and I golfed alone, just the two of us. It was a gun golf date, and we had a blast! 
Another time, we went with Britt while Brailey was at dance practice.
Me in my phenomenal Make America Great Again hat that was a surprise gift from my friend Laurin who lives in Texas. This was such a sweet gift and I was so happy to receive it! I absolutely LOVE it! (I love Laurin even more!) Now all four B's have a Trump hat. Too super cool! 
Family golf selfies.
This was over Labor Day weekend. Who knows what I was laughing about? Sometimes it is better to laugh than cry. Golf is fun, but can be extremely frustrating. It will most certainly develop your self control. Emotions run the gamut from high to low in the blink of an eye. Britt and I struggle with this more than Brady and Brailey do.
Brady and Britt went golfing with Brady's brother, Boone, on Labor Day. They had a big time! Uncle Boone is Britt's hero. They wanted to take Boone golfing all summer long, and it finally worked out. Golfing. There's just nothing like it! Addicting, fun, frustrating. It has drama, that's for sure. We're hooked!

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...