Monday, July 22, 2013

Ben ~ University of Arkansas Band Camp

Ben knew last summer that he had to go to band camp this year.  A few of his friends went last summer and he felt like he had missed out.  He was determined to get to go.  As much as he loves  music, I was determined for him to go too.

You know the story by now.

After hearing all of Abby's stories about her week at camp, Ben was even that much more excited about his week!

I was excited for Ben that his friend, Sam (from Hutchinson), was able to go to band camp as well.

It made me happy to see these two long time friends playing together for the first time ever!  It brought tears to my eyes.  I couldn't be happier that Ben and Sam have maintained their friendship over the last five years since we moved.  The fact that they have both gone the band route is simply the icing on the cake!

We finally made it to Fayetteville and all Ben wanted was to get his audition over with.  He had only had his music for about three weeks, and it was super hard.  He just wanted to get it done.

After the audition, I asked Ben how he did.  As usual, he said that he could have done better.  He is so hard on himself.  He expects perfection.  Is that a good or a bad thing???

Now the waiting began.  He wouldn't find out for several hours which band he made it into.

We decided to wait for the rest of the Bartlesville kiddos to finish their auditions so that I could drive them to lunch. 

Of course, on the way to lunch we had to stop for a photo op!

I loved that I was able to go to lunch with these amazing kids!  (As well as Jaden's mom and brothers.)  They are a few amazing musicians!

Ben and his roommate, Nathan.

And, of course, Ben and Sam.  (Who also got to be roommates)

It was finally time for me to leave, but it was good to know that these kids were in good hands and knowing that they were going to have an amazing week that they would remember for the rest of their lives!

Shortly after I got home, I received word of which band Ben made.  FIRST chair in the SECOND (out of five)  band!!  YAY!!!  I knew that audition couldn't have been as bad as he thought!

Fast forward five days, and it was time to go back to pick Ben up from camp.  I couldn't wait to see my boy and hear all about his week.

 This is what happened during lunch with Ben and Sam.  Ben stole my iPod and took a few pictures...

I love those boys!

Finally time to listen to the fruits of their labor.  (:  Sam was up first.  (He made it into the fourth band.)

 It is truly amazing that these kids came together only five days ago!  They sounded amazing!


 During the concert there was a presentation where captains were chosen for next summer.  Captains are chosen for their leadership qualities and receive a partial scholarship to come back next year.

Ben was chosen as a captain!!
To say that I am proud might be a slight understatement.

Such a great group of kids!!
This picture makes me so happy!  I know I say this all the time, but I am so proud of the fact that five years later, these boys are still such great friends.  I love that they are both in band and that they love it so much.  I love that they have the band bond.

After Ben's band was finished performing and was packing up to leave, the director caught Ben.  He told Ben that he was a great musician, that he had a bright future ahead of him.  He, then, offered for Ben to come back in the fall, sit in the stands and play along with the University of Arkansas marching band at a football game.  Seriously?!?!?!  WOW!!  That is something that we are definitely going to have to make happen!!  What an honor!!

Ben's week at band camp was fantastic.  He learned a lot and made memories that will last forever.  He is already looking forward to going back next year!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Abby ~ University of Arkansas Summer Band Camp

As soon as Abby heard about summer band camp for the first time, she wanted to go.  I was happy that she wanted to go, but concerned as to how it would be able to happen financially.  Once it was official that she could go (You can read about that here. It's a great story!), we were both very excited!

The time finally came!  Off to Arkansas!

We arrived at camp, got Abby checked in and got her all settled in her room.
She was happy to discover that her roommate was someone that she already knew from her school.  (Although, she later told me that she kind of hoped that she would room with someone that she didn't know so it would force her to meet someone new.)

Prior to camp, Abby worked very hard on her etudes and scales in preparation for her band camp audition.  We wanted her to get her audition done and over with so that she could get it off her shoulders.  
   She sounded great, but was very nervous! She spent a lot of time warming up and practicing.

Finally...the audition was done.

Then...the waiting game began.

Ugh!!  The waiting is the worst!  She had to wait until after dinner that night to find out which band she would be placed in.  There were 10 bands.  The first band is the best and goes down to 10.  And we waited...

It felt so weird to leave Abby at camp and head home, but we knew she was in good hands and was going to have an amazing week doing what she loves!

We finally got a text from Abby saying that she made 1st chair in the 5th band.  I couldn't be more proud of my baby girl!!  This was her first time at band camp and to make it into one of the top five bands was awesome!   Abby was slightly disappointed, but she was ready to make the best of it and have a great week.

Throughout the week, while Abby was gone, it was so fun for me to open Facebook and see that I had a message from my girl!  I loved, so much, that even though she was at camp playing music, having fun and making new friends, that she actually took the time to communicate with me!  I could tell from her messages that she was having the time of her life!  It made me happy!

I couldn't wait for Friday, when we would go back to Fayetteville, pick up Abby.  I couldn't wait to hear all about her week and attend her concert.  I was so looking forward to hearing her band perform what they had learned during the week.

I have to say, I wasn't prepared for the way Abby looked when we showed up at her dorm room on Friday morning.  I knew she would be dressed nice, but I fully intended to see her hair up in its normal bun.  Abby hasn't quite grasped the flat iron or curling iron, so I tend to do her hair for her when it's not up. She told me that she would just put it in a bun for the concert, so that was what I expected when I saw her.  

That was not what I saw!

What I saw was my gorgeous girl in her pretty dress with her hair CURLED!  She looked absolutely amazing!  I, actually, had tears in my eyes!  I know she had only been away for five days, but it looked like she grew up while she was gone!  Oh boy...

I wish I had a picture of what Abby looked like.  Unfortunately, the camera was dead.  ):
(There is a group picture below.)

We had some time and it was too early for lunch, so we drove around Fayetteville a little bit.  We stumbled upon the Fayetteville National Cemetery.  Neither Jon nor I had ever been to or seen a national cemetery, so we wanted to check it out.

 It was breathtaking.  It was so neat to drive around and look at the dates on the headstones and think about what these men and women had been through for our country.

 We finally made it to lunch!  You just can't go wrong with Chick-Fil-A!!

 Look at my girl!!!  She is gorgeous!!!

 Concert time!

 That's my girl!  1st CHAIR!!

  It is so hard to believe that these kids came together less than a week ago and were able to master four songs for a concert.  Totally impressed!

I know Abby was tired from a long, busy week at camp.  I'm not sure why Luke was so tired.  That's ok.  Jon, Ben and I were able to enjoy the rest of the concert in peace. (If you know what I mean...)

Band camp was a great experience for Abby!  My, normally, fairly quiet child that doesn't say a whole lot was full of stories about her week when we picked her up.  I think she talked for two hours, nonstop!  That's how I know she had a great time!  That, and the fact that she is already looking forward to going back next year!  

Monday, July 8, 2013

Happy Birthday, America!

What could be a more American activity on the 4th of July than to go to a baseball game and fireworks?  The temperatures had been awesome, it was fairly inexpensive and it just sounded fun.  

On our way to Tulsa for the game, Jon had me read aloud this speech by Rush Limbaugh's dad.  Jon had heard about it on a radio program, read it himself and wanted the rest of us to read/hear it.  I know that July 4th is the day that the Declaration of Independence was signed, thus giving birth to the United States of America.  Sadly, beyond that, I didn't know very much.  The speech is lengthy, but definitely worth the time.  Whether you like Rush Limbaugh or not, you really should read this speech!  It was so neat to learn about some of the men, other than John Hancock, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, that risked and/or gave their lives for the freedom that we take for granted.

As we were walking from our car to the ball field we heard a few rumbles of thunder.  We may have even seen a flash of lightning or two.  It was off in the east, so I figured we were good.  These things, generally, move from west to east, so it had to be moving in the other direction.  Well...that wasn't the case.  

We found a good spot to sit and got all situated.  Luke was itching to play at the playground, so Jon took him while hung out with Ben and Abby.  It wasn't long before the biggest raindrops (they were huge!) I have ever felt started pelting our heads.  

The field was quickly covered with a tarp and we just sat around and waited it out.  Some of the team members chose to make the best of the torrential rain to have a little bit of fun.  It was really fun to watch them run and slide.

Thankfully I had packed a few towels in case Luke ended up playing at the splash pad at the ball park, because I was able to stay fairly dry by holding one of them over my head.  Abby used one to protect her white shirt that could have made things slightly embarrassing.  (:

The rain didn't show any signs of letting up any time soon.  I just knew the game was going to be cancelled and our 4th of July plans would be ruined.

 The rain probably lasted a good 20-30 minutes before it finally passed by.

Once the rain clouds were gone for good, the tarp came off and we were able to watch the baseball game!  YAY!!!

I took an over-abundance of pictures at the game, but there are so many that I love that I decided to share all of them!  :)


Luke was REALLY not a fan of the fireworks after the game! I cried through the whole thing with his hands covering his ears.  Poor little guy!  I, however, thought the fireworks were awesome!  We were so close!  It was so cool!

I can't even express how much fun we had at the game!  It was SO MUCH FUN!!  I think we may just have a new 4th of July tradition!


Kiddie Park Fun

Kiddie Park is one of the gems in Bartlesville.  Luke loves it.  I love it.  Our pocketbook loves it.

Since Jon was off work for the week and the weather was amazing, we thought we would take advantage of being able to go to Kiddie Park in the middle of the week.

I was surprised, when we got there, to see how many people were there in the middle of the week.  Thankfully it wasn't as bad as it looked.  Luke never really had to wait in line for any of the rides.

Abby brought Anna along.  This is what happens when I ask to take a picture of these girls.  Lovely!  (Yes, there are a few rides they can still ride.)

Ben wasn't thrilled to spend his evening at Kiddie Park, but I don't think it was quite as bad as he anticipated.

My boys (:

Ben was my hero.  I'm not sure what happened, but a year or two ago Luke became terrified of the train.  I think it was the whistle more than anything.  He absolutely refused to ride the train.  As soon as he heard the whistle start to blow he would cover his ears.  Ben must have bribed Luke just right, because he managed to get Luke back on there this summer.  I'll take it!

I am so thankful to have this fun place in our little town!  As long as Luke doesn't know about Disney World, Kiddie Park is the happiest place on earth!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Spontaneity Is The Spice Of Life, Right?

Sooo...the previous day was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.  We all just want to forget how miserable it was.  It's time to move on!  So here we go!

Jon wasn't supposed to be in town.  His trip got cancelled, which meant he got to be home.  (Which also meant this was the start of his week+ off of work!)  We decided that since we had the bonus of having him home and the added bonus of the gorgeous weather we have been having, we better take advantage of the time. 

The weather was perfect for a little drive out to Osage Hills State Park.  We love Osage Hills, we just don't get out the very often.  It is so pretty there.  There are trails, a river, great picnic areas, waterfalls (small, but waterfalls just the same), a great's just great.

 For some reason, none of the kids had ever been to this area at Osage Hills.  They had no idea what they would find at the end of the path.

They were pleasantly surprised!  

As usual, there had to be a little bit of drama.  Ben found a trail and wanted to take it down to the river.  It was taking a long time for him to catch up to us, so Jon went to look for him.  My mom senses went into overdrive and immediately started thinking bad thoughts.  I can't help it.  You hear stories all the time about how a kid wanders off and is lost for a good long time.  Just about a week prior there were reports of a mountain lion in our area.  I hate having such terrible thoughts, but, as a mom, I don't know how you avoid them.  I tried not to freak out as I kept Abby and Luke while Jon went looking for Ben.  I didn't want them to worry, but was saying quick little prayers as they admired the waterfalls, the beautiful sky and a dragonfly.  Thankfully, I heard familiar voices and knew that everything/everyone was ok.  Ben, somehow, made it to the opposite side of the river, but he was good.  Just being a typical teenage boy.  Grrr!!!

It took a little while for the anger and frustration to subside, but we were all able to move on.

We didn't intend to get wet, but that's what happened.  And it wasn't a bad thing.  The boys all had so much fun!  Spontaneity is the spice of life, right?

Since Ben was already wet, he wanted to do a little bit more exploring.  We saw some guys swinging on a rope swing and jumping into the water, so we knew that it had to get deep at some point.  He found it!  He loved it!  When Luke saw that Ben was swimming, he wanted in on some of the action too.  (:

 After spending quite a bit of time down at the river, we decided to move on and go play for a little while at the park.  Luke was not happy to leave the water...

But he was happy to play at the playground.

Jon and Abby did a little bit of batting practice and played a little bit of catch.
Ben thought swinging might help dry his jeans.  Ha Ha!!

Swinging didn't help much, so he opted to try covering himself in the hot rubber mulch.  Surely that would do the trick!  Not so much...

Look at these cuties!  They weren't thrilled to sit for a few pictures, but I couldn't resist!

Abby asked to borrow the camera while we were driving home.  I had no idea what was going on in the back seat, but there was a lot of laughing going on.  I can see why!  I love these silly kids!

After being home for a while, I discovered that there were fireworks happening in Tulsa later that night.  We had been to these particular fireworks before and they were great!  I was a little disappointed that we didn't know that they were happening and that we weren't able to be there.  When I mentioned it to Jon, he said, "Well, why can't we go?" was the usual excuse that it's all the way in Tulsa.  It's a long drive, which means gas money.  Apparently Jon didn't care.  So... we ate dinner, packed up and headed to Tulsa.  There's that spontaneity again.

I don't think we would have been so gung ho to go if the weather hadn't been so perfect.  It was unseasonably cool for the beginning of July, so we had to take advantage of the opportunity to go watch good fireworks and not sweat our tails off!

My firecrackers (:

Me and my man! (:

Crazy kids!

Believe it or not, we were all chilly while waiting for the fireworks to start!  When has that ever happened?!  Never!!  I refuse to complain!!

I love fireworks!  They were great!

This was one of my favorite days that we have spent together as a family in a very long time!  The weather was amazing!  The togetherness was fun!  The laughter was abundant!  Need I say more?  This was the best way to start off a week of "vacation"!  (Maybe I should call it a 'staycation'.)
I love my family!!