Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Bittersweet End of an Era

The end of this school year has been bittersweet. We are so happy to be done, after such a long year! The extra week to make up for the snow days has been brutal. But there has also been a bit of sadness, as there is every year. It is always a painful reminder to me that my kids are one step closer to being on their own. The melancholy was deepened this year by the fact that we are ending a chapter on a significant part of our lives. I have been alluding to a big announcement for a few weeks. Here it is... After being part of Spanish Immersion since they were in first grade, we are changing schools. Next year, they will be attending school in the Harrisburg School District. Hooray!

Trust me when I say it was not a decision we made lightly. But once we started the ball rolling in that direction, everything seemed to fall into place. The hardest part of the decision was letting go of the Spanish piece of their education. And then the next hardest part for Brailey was letting go of being on the high school dance team. But once we got past those two factors, there just weren't any reasons not to change schools.

Once we made up our minds, I called Harrisburg High School to see how to start the transfer, and I was stunned to learn it is such a popular school. In fact, they limit their enrollment. My heart was panicked! We had went through a gut wrenching decision process only to find out it wasn't possible!? But as fate would have it, there was one spot available in Brailey's class. One. It was the final confirmation that this was the right decision. It was truly meant to be!

To backtrack a little, this has been a very difficult year for Brailey. Being a freshman was nothing like she thought it would be. She loved middle school so much and had anticipated high school being a similar kind of fun. At first, we chalked it up to it just being a rough year. Then I started to notice that every morning on the way to school, she would become absolutely silent and stoic. Not only could I see the sadness, I could feel it. In retrospect, I know she used the time in the car to mentally prepare herself to deal with the day, donning her armor. As a mother, I cannot tell you how hard this was to see. Yes, I know there are far worse things in the world, but seeing your child in a state of mental distress is difficult, to say the least. After school, by the time we got home, she would magically turn back into the happy girl we know. By the weekend, she was her wonderful and happy self. And then, like clockwork, as soon as the school day appeared on Monday, she was sad beyond belief for the next five days. She started developing migraines. We discovered her hair system had gone into shock from the stress (same thing that happened to me), and she lost a severe amount of hair. She was in emotional turmoil, and it killed Brady and I to see her this way.

There were several reasons for her stress and sadness. Of course I'm not going to go into details. Someday, I may write a post about it. But for now, we will save that story for another time.

It is amazing how once we were able to think outside our comfort zone, all of a sudden, our eyes were opened to the real possibility of making a change. One by one, the positives began to add up for Harrisburg. We would say, "We're 70% sure we're going to move." The next day it was 75%. Then it went up to 82%. Next thing you know, we were at 98%. And then that fateful phone call to look in to transferring her, and we were 110% sure!

For Britt, it was a tougher decision. In fact, we are still waiting on final confirmation that he will be able to transfer. We'll know by the middle of July. The odds are high that he will. After Brailey was accepted, we considered letting Britt finish his middle school years at Monroe. But that would mean Brailey would have to take a bus, and having two kids going in two different directions on two different school schedules doesn't seem smart - it certainly wouldn't make life easier. Also, Britt doesn't enjoy Spanish like Brailey does. Then, we thought about high school for him. Wouldn't it be better if he knew the kids he would be going to high school with? Yes. And surprisingly, Britt didn't freak out or panic. He calmly accepted our decision they both transfer to Harrisburg. Brady and I think he knows it will be good for him.

We have driven by the schools several times since making our decision, and they are both excited and fearful at the same time. Change is hard, of course. But there is so much to look forward to! It is a smaller school, closer to home, with not a single stop light to drive through. In one year, Brailey will be driving - this will be a much safer route for her to travel. The colors are the same as Burns High School's colors, where both of my nieces graduated from - purple and gold. They have a closed campus. The best part? They have a four day school week! Brailey will have more time with her horses, and she will also be able to have lunch with her friends from Sheldon on Fridays. She is really looking forward to that!

Still, in these last few weeks, as she has shared the news, it has been hard for Brailey. She had to tell her best friend, which was very sad. They have lunch together almost every day, and Brailey is going to miss her time with Nikki. She told two of her closest friends in her Spanish Immersion program, and they were so sad, and that made Brailey sad. She took cookies to her last dance class and said her good byes and then promptly burst into tears as soon as she got in the car. Letting go of being a Colleen was really, really hard. She has asked everyone who mattered to her to sign her yearbook. People wrote the sweetest things to her! She asked for pictures in one of her Spanish Immersion classes, and the teacher took some great ones. She realized she was more loved and liked than she thought. She has made some wonderful friends! Thankfully, they will all be able to keep in touch. But at the end of the day, she is ready for a new adventure in a new school.

Britt is only telling his friends the news this week. We wanted to talk to his basketball coach before he heard it through the grapevine. We are praying he can still play with his same team. If he can have just one more year with them, he will be able to maintain his friendships with those very special kids and learn even more from the amazing coaches. Our fingers are crossed. Britt would rather stay at Monroe, of course, but he knows Harrisburg will be good for him. He is worried about whether or not he will fit in. I am sure he will - the country boy in him will find his way back to the surface, perhaps. And who doesn't love a four day school week?

As a mother, my heart hurts for both my B's in different ways as we end this era. I know for a fact we made the right decision, but saying good bye to all the wonderful friends we've made and to the comfort of familiarity is not easy. If you feel so inclined, please say a prayer for my kiddos as they embark on their new journeys - we are always grateful for prayers. And we are also looking forward to keeping in touch with everyone and to coming to all the games and events we possibly can to see our beloved people. Thankfully, we aren't moving, just changing schools. A new adventure awaits us, and as always, I will share it with you every step of the way.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Father's Day Fun

Father's Day was Brady's Day, and it was a beautiful, sunny one! He was so excited to load all our golf gear in the back of the pickup and to hit the town. Our first stop, of course, was our new favorite place for special occasions, Texas Roadhouse. And it did not disappoint! It was so delicious... If only we could eat there every day! 
From there, we went straight to the golf course at Fiddler's. It was not the best golf dau for me - I am in a "slump," and I finally just gave up and took pictures, which was much more fun. If you've ever played golf, then you know how frustrating it can be. The kiddos did great, and of course Brady did, too. They are all naturally gifted when it comes to golfing. Brady was thrilled we were all out there together. Once I finally figure out my swing and develop some consistency, I will try it again. For now, I enjoy watching them and playing paparazzi, which is what I do best. That said, I will admit golf is not for the weak-hearted. I have never had a sport test me so strongly. It's a character builder, to say the least. Britt said it isn't as much fun without me to watch. That's because I am so bad, right now, it is highly entertaining! Haha. And Brailey is sure we could be millionaires if they did a reality show on us. That's probably true... It's a hoot to watch, I'm sure! Unless, that is, you happen to be me. But I am thrilled golf has worked out so well for Brailey and Britt, even if I am a bit jealous of them.
This is Britt's favorite place to find stray balls. He gets the biggest kick out of it!

You can see from Brady's face how much he enjoys the game. He shot a really good game! And the weather could not have been more beautiful or perfect. He was thrilled!
His Live Lucky hat looked so perfect on him. He is a rep for this line, which is one of his favorites. They are officially known as Live Lucky Black Clover hats. These are taking the nation by storm and they are the next big thing in the western world. But if you can't find them in your local western store, don't despair. Just go to your nearest golf shop, and you will find them there. Fiddler's actually has a wonderful selection. And Brady has slowly but surely been getting them into some of "his" stores. They are the coolest of the cools, for sure!
These two are so blessed to have Brady for their dad. There's nobody else like him! He loves them more than anything, and he works so hard to provide for them and to make sure they have every opportunity available to them. His B's are his world, including me, and we are the luckiest B's in the world!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Fifteen and Fabulous - Brailey's Birthday Celebration

Birthdays on a Tuesday are never as fun as birthdays on a weekend, but we made the most of it! Brady was out of town, so we had to save a few traditional celebrations for later in the week after he got home, but we like to celebrate birthdays all month long in our family, so it worked out perfectly. Above, the traditional before school birthday picture. And below, the traditional birthday table picture.
Britt was supposed to have basketball practice on her birthday, but he came home with a bad headache, so he wisely decided to stay home, which meant we all got to stay home. Nice surprise! I knew his head must really hurt, or he wouldn't miss practice. But I also think a small, sweet part of him wanted to help Brailey have a good birthday. Her day at school wasn't the best, and Britt is a soft-hearted brother who wanted to do his part to make it better. I think we managed to turn her day around, as you will see in the pictures below.
She wanted the Pirates of the Caribbean makeup as soon as she saw it come out, and Britt was bound and determined that she would have it. They used to be obsessed with pirates when they were little, Britt more than Brailey, but watching all those movies as a little kid stuck with Brailey, and she was so happy he got it for her. These are the moments that make a mother's heart smile.
Whenever Brailey gets new makeup, this is is what we see. She sets it all out on the living room floor and admires it. Most all of her gifts were makeup, this year. And even better, Tuesday Night Smackdown was on, so she got to watch one of her favorite shows while arranging it all. It takes quite a while for her to organize it. She is not like me in this regard. Makeup terrifies me! I always slop it on and pray it will look okay, whereas Brailey sees a fresh new canvas to have fun with every day. It is a refreshing perspective, especially considering she is the least vain person in the world.
The envelopes below are from her best friend, Nikki, and the time and thought she put into them just melts my heart! She was so sweet to Brailey at school during the short time they had together before school and at lunch and gave her the most wonderful gifts - spoiled her rotten, in fact! But these envelopes are just too sweet for words and had to be shared. Brailey is so blessed to have Nikki in her life. What a wonderful friend! 
Brailey couldn't decide what kind of a cake she wanted, this year. Did she want a cheesecake or a real cake? She finally decided on a cheesecake. We had to save that part of her celebration for when Brady was home, so I got her this mini "real" cake, too, for her actual birthday, which she loved. It was a great surprise!
Our theme this year was yellow and purple, which I will be telling you more about soon. Stay tuned for that revelation and a glimpse into her future.
The day after her birthday, she tried out for Dance Factory's Urban Fusion group. The tryouts were tough, and she thought she did horribly. She fully expected not to be on the team. But we got the official word on Friday, and she made it!
On Friday night, we went to the movies. We saw the final Pirates of the Caribbean show. It was soooooo good! We ran in to two of her classmates, Sarah and Miriam. So I snapped a quick picture of them, because that's what I do - take pictures. 
On Saturday, to wrap the celebration up, we went to Texas Roadhouse for the traditional birthday dinner. It was, as always, more delicious than words can describe.
And then, last but not least, after mass, we had her "real" birthday cake, which was a cheesecake from Coscto. I tried to decorate it up a bit. A little cheesy (pardon the pun!), but still fun.
Her main present didn't come on time, so we saved it for the cake ceremony. The new shades were a huge hit, and I am so grateful she wasn't upset or disappointed that they didn't arrive on her birthday. Her first Ray Bans - she is thrilled!
And she made a wish and blew the candles out in one breath. It was a wonderful celebration of our sweet girl. She is so precious to us, and we are more excited than we have ever been to see where this next year takes her. Fourteen wasn't the greatest year of her life, but we're making some changes and have big plans for the next year, and I predict it is going to be amazing and full of all kinds of wonderful things!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Pre-Birthday and Sunday Sendoff

After such an amazing celebration and party, it is hard to come down off that high and  to say good bye. We met for breakfast at the party hub, my parents' place. We had the most delicious homemade cinnamon rolls (made by Grandma) ever! They were so good. I also had one of Rici's cookies she baked for the party. She is a professional cookie maker, but the altitude changed the way they normally turn out, so she was not happy with them. Trust me, they were TO-DIE-FOR delicious, even if they didn't measure up to her standards! I regret not thinking to take them with us for the trip home. What was I thinking?! Anyway, in the picture above, Brailey is petting Jazz, one of Lanie and Nate's dogs. She is super sweet! And below, Hemi is on Lexi's lap. Our pug, Rosin, was fascinated with her! She's never been so interested in another dog before this. Hemi was not impressed with Rosin, but Rosin couldn't take her (blind) eyes off Hemi. It was super cute to watch!
I love these pictures of my brother with his niece and nephew. They've only gotten to know him in the past couple of years, and it has been so nice for them. He's a really fun uncle, and it breaks my heart to think about all the good times we missed, but it makes the times we have now even more special. We all appreciate the time we have together far more than we may have. We certainly don't take it for granted.
Because it was so close to Brailey's birthday, we had a mini birthday celebration. She held a candle while we sang to her, and then she opened some gifts.
She was thrilled to get a new rope, and especially thrilled it was purple! This color is very symbolic for her - more on that to come.
Above, more of Rosin's fascination with Hemi. And the card from Uncle Shawn is actually writing on the outside of the gift box. So sweet! He was always a great gift giver. It is nice that he can get back to that natural side of himself. In years past, it was taken away. He was told it was taken care of, and it never was. He's much better at doing it himself. And he knows kids! Who doesn't need WiFi these days, right? So fun!
This book held a cross that belonged to my dad's mother, Grandma Bert. Great Grandma Bert to my kids. Brailey was incredibly touched that Grandma gave it to her. I know she will always treasure it. It is shaped like a cross and pink. So precious! 
Before we left, Uncle Shawn gave Britt some "tips" on playing the game of basketball. It was great advice. And also funny! He said Britt is finally tall enough to play basketball against him. But he also doesn't play with anyone who is taller than he is, so Britt has a small window of opportunity to play with his uncle. My brother is quite the comedian. Note his Scandinavian Red Hound is in the background. Face is a sweetheart of a dog.
And that's a wrap on our Harney County fun. As I said in previous posts, it was the best of times, it was a dream come true and it was an answer to many prayers. Here's hoping we will have many more of those times in the days to come.

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...