Monday, May 30, 2011

Nala

Even with all of the places that she could sleep around the house she feels that this spot, on my camera bag, would be the most comfortable.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Friends and neighbors

After Bren's graduation yesterday the kids from around the neighborhood were all out in front of our house riding their bikes. Every single one of them. Nearly half of them now race at our track (thanks to us), and they always have some sort of ramp or obstacle course setup in the street. After hours of all of us being out there together our neighbor across the street, Steve, suggested that we all ride bikes to the back of the neighborhood to have dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings. So three of the dads (two of whom now race at our track, too), me and 9 of the kiddos rode through the neighborhood to go have dinner together. We are lucky to have nearly any kind of restaurant or store within bike riding distance to our house. We are even more lucky to have a few great neighbors (because some of them are NOT so great).
Part of the gang coming down our street towards me.
Brian, in the back on the left, and a few of the group up ahead. Some had already turned the corner.

(l-r) Paul, Brian, Steve (in the back in brown), Bryce (front in green), Madison, Erin, Ashley, Kaylee and Cory. The others were behind me when I took the picture. This is in front of Buffalo Wild Wings.

As a matter of fact, it is because of Steve that Sean is going to Colorado next week and Brian and Erin are going to Wisconsin in three weeks. Steve is a pilot for Southwest, and gave all three of them free flights. Of course they all would have made the trips anyway, but it was so generous of Steve to give them the vouchers so that they are traveling at no cost. He's one of the nicest guys I've ever met, and a great single dad to his two kids. Steve and both of his kids, Madison and Aiden, now ride at our track. He once told me that the thrill of being the captain of a plane is nothing like the thrill of the track. I love it.

Paul, the other dad that was with us, is probably THE nicest guy I have ever met in my life. Hands down. He's a single dad to his son, Bryce, and they spend a lot of time with us at home and at the track. We've been friends with them since we moved into our house in 2004. Paul and Bryce both race at our track now.

Anyway, we all spent the rest of the evening after dinner back out in the street, riding bikes and hanging out until well after midnight. The night ended with all of the boys sleeping at Steve's house across the street and all of the girls sleeping at our house (five of them). Such a fun time for everyone, and I'm sure that with summer having arrived there will be many more days/nights just like yesterday.

8th grade graduation/moving on ceremony

Yesterday was Brendan's 8th grade "Moving On" ceremony. He is now officially in high school. He really has worked hard throughout middle school, and improved in so many ways. I'm proud of him. Thanks to the alphabetical order of the event Brendan was second to be called up for his certificate. Afterwards, he and his group of biking friends, most of whom he has been friends with for the past 7 years, allowed me to take a few pictures.
Brendan in the front row, second from the right.
Bren, far right in the back, and his best friends. Chris's cast is from a bike accident (shocker).


Bren and his closest friend, Chris.

Congratulations to my sweet boy. He's going to do great in high school, and we're both looking forward to it.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Nashville

While Brian, Bren and Erin were in Nashville last weekend they had the chance to visit the Parthenon. They all said that it was pretty "lame", but I still got a picture of Brendan out of the deal.

Erin came home with many souvenirs, and I'm not just talking about trophies. During her race on Saturday another one of the girls turned into Erin (trying to cut her off), causing them both to crash. She has a row of bruises from her hip to her knee, on her ankle and her wrist. However, she gets angry when someone crashes into her, and she quickly jumped up, got back on her bike and finished ahead of the girl that crashed into her. She's a tough girl, and she doesn't tolerate her competition playing rough. I love it.

Erin, second from the left in blue with her orange bike, getting ready to race.

Aside from their Thursday and Saturday races here at our track they have two days of state racing coming up on June 4-5 in Daytona and then we are off to North Carolina for another national in July. Erin has a new race bike, and Brian got serious with this one (her other was her first, somewhat of a starter bike at about $400-cheap for racing). This bike is over $2,000 in the frame and parts, and you can pick it up with two fingers. Now Brendan is totally jealous, but with a student mom he's stuck with what he has for the time being. He's blowing the competition away with what he has, so he can manage for now.

Time to get ready for race. It's always so exciting, and I never tire of watching them.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Steel drums

Brendan had his last steel drum concert of the year tonight. He's done so well all year, and had chances to play the drums and the steel drums during various concerts. I love watching him, and despite his serious nature (he's been like that since he was born) he enjoys himself. The gang even did "Poker Face" by Lady Gaga on the steel drums, and as soon as I can figure out how to load it from my phone I will post it.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

On the road again...

...but I'm not with them. My summer school term just started Monday, so I can't miss class. Brian, Bren and Erin are leaving tonight for Nashville, Tennessee. My two babies will be competing in the Music City Nationals this weekend. They'll be driving straight through the 12 hours to get there, but thankfully another BMX racer from our track, Logan, and his dad are riding with them. Anyone that knows Brian knows that he falls asleep after driving for a few minutes, so I wouldn't have allowed this trip if it weren't for the fact that Bill is going to drive Brian's truck. Logan is also on Hyperforce (Bren and Erin's team), and they are all excited. I think the dad's may be more excited than the kids, and Bill has called Brian every day for the past week to ask if he's ready to go, excited, etc. It's so cute. Several other races from our track will be there as well, including Mazin and his family (they are actually following Brian and Bill), so we should have quite a few trophies coming back for Oldsmar BMX.

Anyway, Sean and I will be right here, studying and hanging out together. Hopefully Brian emails or texts me pictures as the race proceeds so that I can see them and share with you all, too.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Nana's party

Here are a few pictures from Nana's celebration.
Sean lighting the candles on Nana's birthday cake that I made.

Nana (right) and her only living sibling, Doris (left)

Tony and Ben (our cousin) being themselves.
Ben giving Brendan paybacks for all the tickling.

Ben and his daughter, Brianna.

Victor, Erin and Ashley

During the three days that we had Victor last week Ashley asked to spend the night, too. So on Friday night the three of them had a little slumber party. They all three wanted to make a big bed on the floor in the living room and watch movies on the iPad, and they all three ended up falling asleep within ten minutes of the movie starting. Victor was all cuddled up on Erin's shoulder. He really loves hanging out with Erin, and they always have a blast together.

A community welcome home

A resident of our little town came home on Saturday from Afghanistan. However, he came home without both of his legs due to a roadside bomb. He and another soldier both lost their legs, and a third was killed in that accident. You can read about him here. Our little neighborhood setup all along the road in front of our neighborhood to welcome him as he drove past. He is in the limo and was waving out of the window as he drove by (you see his little brother waving on the side that Brian was shooting).
video


Ashley, Erin and Kaylee.

Nana is 90

My Nana, the matriarch of our family and one of the strongest women I've ever known, turned 90 years old yesterday. She is my only surviving grandparent. There are so many wonderful things that I could tell you about her, but above everything else what has always stood out to me is her sense of family and her desire to keep her family together. It was my Nana and Papa who made sure that all of the cousins (me and my cousins) spent our summers together. As a result of all of those years of time spent with my cousins we are all still in contact and see each other regularly. My cousins are special people in my life and not just some distant memory that I have of childhood. My Nana has endured a lot in her life, and even at 90 she is a complete optimist. She's also the youngest 90 year old I've ever met.

So family and friends (some of whom have been family friends for all of my Nana's adult life) from around the country gathered yesterday to honor Nana. There were about 75 people in attendance, and it was such a great day to just reflect on her life and the love that she has given to all of us over the years. She's amazing.

Here's a video that was taken as we sang Happy Birthday to her. One of the things I love most about the video is that she sings it to herself right along all of us singing it to her. That's my Nana. You can't see a large majority of the people that were there, but it was an awesome turnout for a wonderful woman.

video

Friday, May 13, 2011

Erin and Victor

Watching a movie on the iPad last night. Victor actually fell asleep watching it, and then Erin got up and went into her bed for the night. They are so cute, and such good buddies.

Booboo

That's his nickname at the track. It's been my nickname for him since he was a baby, and Erin told Dave (one of the parents and the announcer for the races), and he's used it during race ever since when he's talking about Bren. At first Bren wasn't too happy about it, but it's grown on him and he actually considered putting it as his nickname on his Hyperforce jersey.

Anyway, he's doing so well with racing. He's taken first place for 12 straight races now, and he'll be advancing to expert before too much longer.


Erin and Ashley

These girls love each other so much. Yesterday was Ashley's 8th birthday, so Erin was allowed to skip race and spend the evening with Ashley and her family at the bowling alley. There aren't many things that make Erin want to miss race, but she'll do anything for her BFF.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Team Hyperforce

I announced last month that Erin was asked to join the Hyperforce BMX team, making her an officially sponsored rider. It's been so exciting watching her become part of the team and growing in her riding ability every day. Just last week as we were leaving the track after a race Brendan was asked to be a part of the team, too. To say that he was excited is an understatement.

So now both of my BMXers are officially sponsored by Hyperforce, and within the next couple of weeks they will be sporting the proper colors (green) on their team jerseys and helmets. They are traveling this coming week to Nashville, Tennessee to race in a national event there (Wednesday through Sunday), and we are all excited as they venture there for their first out of state event. It's the first of MANY to come. I have classes so I cannot go, but they are traveling with Brian and another member of the Hyperforce team and his dad.

Hopefully Brian will email pictures while they are away so that I can share them with you all.
Go team Hyperforce!

New family members

Well, they aren't technically part of our family, but we consider them to be. Brian was cutting the dead parts of the robellini a couple of weeks ago and noticed a small nest. Inside of it are three tiny blue speckled eggs, and they are so cute. The parents were irate with Brian for being near the eggs, but he was careful not to touch the nest or the eggs and finished with the trimming as quickly as possible. Mom and dad bird are great parents and protect these little guys like crazy. We check on them frequently to see if they have hatched, and we're counting down the days to see the new little ones.


Mother's Day

Although I had a lot of work to do on Mother's Day it was still a great day. Very low key and relaxing. My favorite gift was a flower pot that Erin made with a flower made by her as well. The pot has flowers painted on it, and the petals of the flowers are made from her fingerprints.

My other gift from Erin was a small book that she wrote:

Happy mother's day mommy. I love you and you are the best mom anyone could ever have. You take us and our friends places and sometimes just take us places, but that's what makes it the most special. The one thing I love the most is that you take care of me. Mom thanks for all you do and never forget I love you the purplest. You are the best and mom I'll always be right next to you being your little baby girl. And especially always be your friend.

Love, EV/Monkey

Brian took the kids and they all picked out flowers for me, too. They are all still as beautiful as the day they came home.

Happy belated Mother's Day to all of you. I hope your children made it as special for you as mine did for me.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Whew!

I didn't know if I was going to get through that semester, but I did. It's over, thankfully. For the past few weeks I've had time to do nothing except study. I even pulled my first all-nighter. I didn't enjoy that.

Anyway, I have a 12 day break now, and there are several things that I need to post here to get caught up. Look for more posts in the next couple of days as I readjust to having time to get things done.