Thursday morning was a little crazy. Immediately after dropping off Brayden, Whitley and I took off for a very chilly walk to get the exercise out of the way for the day. Close to halfway through, I noticed a message sent from the mom who hosts "Mikayla and Friends" (not the real title!) Bible Study on Thursday, begging if I could help drive them from the house to school. She was really in a bind as more girls than normal showed up and the other mom that usually does the transport wasn't able to. After realizing that without me, she'd have to make two trips, I texted back I'd try to get there on time. But, that meant really picking up the pace (I'm a fast walker, not a runner!) and doing my best to get back to the car in order to drive over.
The girls all cheered when I pulled into the driveway on time, but I quickly alerted them that they might be cheering prematurely as my gas tank had reached "0 Miles Left" about a mile back. We did not have time to get to a gas station before school started, so it was time for those girls to put their Bible Study into action and pray we'd make it to school with the vehicle still running. =)
We did make it - but, until I reached a gas station, I wouldn't be breathing any easier. Fortunately, I coasted into Chevron without incident. So, now I know - when it shows "0" (which I've done in this vehicle more than all my others combined) - I still have at least 5 minutes more driving of cushion. ;)
On Friday, Whitley and I opted to stop by Christi's house before heading to soccer. It is so adorable - and I so wish this picture was clearer, but both girls get so excited at the idea of seeing each other. Once they are together, they will often ignore one another or even fight over toys, but clearly, the idea of seeing each other sounds fun.
This is what we'll see when we drive up to Christi's house - Elsie wide-eagle at the upstairs window - banging on it in excitement over our arrival (and if she's told too soon, she'll also stand at the gates of their stairs anxious until we get there).
On this particular day, the girls were pretty darn cute together. In fact, both of them whined so much when Whitley and I got ready to leave, the Harris girls decided to come with us to soccer.
Later that evening, Brayden got the opportunity to participate in a pretty cool birthday celebration along with some of his favorite Marist friends, so John and I decided to celebrate the weekend kicking off with Mikayla by going to see "McFarland, USA". As you can see, it was a spectacular evening.
This movie was SO GOOD!!! I can't give a high enough recommendation for it. It's the perfect family-sports-inspirational kind of movie. Kevin Costner was made for the role... Seriously, go see it - or rent it when it hits DVD. You will not be able to prevent abundant smiling. In fact, our theater really got into it - and would clap aloud and cheer during many of the races. It was awesome. =)
While waiting for our son to get home safe from the activities of his evening, I completed the whiteboard calendars. I kind of cheated on this one, by pushing May into the view - because we HAVE to have our Disneyworld trip visible at this point. I can't believe how close it is now!
On Saturday morning, this guy showed up. How cool is it that Traig can just hop into his truck and spend a weekend down in Eugene with us. Well, we say "us", but we were kind of just the fallback (and sleeping quarters) as he'd made plans with Harlow buddies for the weekend. Fortunately for us, some of them fell through, so we got to hang with him watching "The Mockingjay" on Saturday night.
I do NOT know what inspired me to volunteer, but before I even knew what I was doing, at the previous weekend's tournament, I volunteered our house for a Webfoot "Team Bonding Bar-b-q". Honestly, this is really not my favorite team of players (some of the personalities are a little cliquish) - and I wasn't keen on making small talk with parents I probably won't connect with outside of the remainder of this season. So, again, I don't know what I was thinking. But, the truth is, we do have the house for it, with the court out back to play volleyball on, and side area for bar-b-q'ing.
Of course, that meant getting it all spruced up. And that was actually a bit harder than normal as our backboard had literally been shattered when Brayden and his buddies had played on it during a previous weekend. Just crazy, right?!
Actually, it's so crazy that the Sports Courts folks that installed our court had never seen anything like it. One of Brayden's buddies, Carson, went up for a dunk and it just happened. We assured Carson that it was definitely not his doing - not that he doesn't have power, but if Kenjon Barner can make dunks without that happening with his strength, skill, and power - I don't think it had anything to do with a 16 year old. We were just thankful that no one got hurt (tempered glass). The good news: it was eventually replaced free of charge. The bad news: that clean up didn't happen until after the bbq, so poor Mikayla was on her hands and knees with a vacuum and screwdriver, sucking up each individual piece and (after having pulled up the tiles), poking them out if they got wedged in between the grids. What a pain!
But, it did get done - and with the recent addition of new bark, new plants in the side planters, and the bar-b-q emerging from its storage in the garage, John and I were thrilled that this forced our hand into getting the outside entertaining and dining started early for the year.
While it was a potluck, we supplied the meat - and not being confident in what else would be provided, the condiments, fruit and dip, and Rice Krispie treats. By the time the team all showed up - we had quite a spread.
The coach had asked (after we had already volunteered our home) if they could do tie-dye. Oh. The cement had just been powerwashed, bark had just been laid, and there was no way they were using the court! So, that's what the tarp was for.
The girls had plenty of fun "in the back"- and not just playing volleyball...
Only one set of parents stayed for the duration, and another mom just stayed for dinner. I forced myself to interact with that mom during the dining part, while John handled the lion's share of the hosting (I set it up pretty well, but I kind of like to retreat once the people come!)
Crazy girls. There's definitely some sweethearts in the mix...and then there were some others....well, they are very much THIRTEEN and loud and squealy and kind of self-absorbed. But, there was no drama - not at this event anyway.
I ended up chatting with Brailey's mom, Bobbi Jo during the last part (she was part of the family that stayed). We've known her and her family since third grade volleyball, and while Mikayla and Brailey go to different schools - they respect each other a lot. It was nice having some "real conversation" with someone I could relate to, vs. just the small talk I tend to loathe at activities such as this.
Overall, I think it was a very successful bar-b-q as far as the coach and girls were concerned - even the tye die shirts turned out!
I have to end this post with this picture, as it is just a small glimpse of Brayden with his buddies. This buddy being Andrew, of course - who actually hung out along with Carson and Traig at the house while the girls were there (I'm pretty sure that's what inspired some of the squealing!). Later, they all hopped in John's vehicle for a run to Dutch Bros. (Poor Brayden, he is the last of his buddies to get his license (due to his late birthday) - and even then, with the way the licensing requires 6 months of "family only" passengers - these guys aren't able to load into one vehicle sans a parent yet).
I feel like I've spent a lot of blog space addressing Brayden and our frustrations with his missing assignments, teachers, or grades at Marist. This is all very true - and ADHD and him being "Fifteen and Frustrating" doesn't help our family harmony either.
But, there's another aspect of his life that IS flourishing. Socially, that kid is in a place we have prayed all of his life for him to be in. He's committed to and attending on Tuesday mornings a Bible Study with his Harlow friends - those guys that all share the "Super Cabin" at High School Camp and have such a strong bond and unique place in life in being the sons of pastors or "influential in ministry" parents. We are so thankful that that is up and running and they have each other to confide in and pray over.
I think this weekend (I'm typing this post in spring break in March) marks perhaps the fifth weekend in a row in which he's had buddies - varying every weekend - over to play basketball, hang out, or spend the night. Last weekend he even got to hang out with Jack, Solomon and Jacob - all close friends that he cares a lot about, but never gets to see, as they attend Sheldon High School. It makes us so thankful for the court and that its actually been used (and abused!) in the capacity we had hoped for from the start - being a draw so that he'd be inclined to have his friends here instead of always disappearing somewhere else But, moreso, we are incredibly thankful that Brayden's personality is appreciated and respected by his peers. That he has the capability to spread himself over so many friendship groups - and not place all of his eggs in one basket. And, even, maybe that one of his favorite best friends is a girl. =)
The grades, they ARE a big deal right now. The Lord knows, I sooooo wish they didn't have to be... There are so many things about education and its priorities (and what these formative kids are focusing in on any given day that will have so little use in their adult lives) that I could go on and on about. But it is what it is, and as we would like to see him have doors open for education after high school - or even job opportunities, his ability to prove himself on a report card does make a difference.
BUT, in the big scheme of life - I think both John and I would find ourselves losing more sleep at night if we were seeing him pull off straight A's, but facing a failing grade with his relationships.