Harrisburg 2019

Last weekend, we drove out to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania for the Boy’s Atlantic Northeastern Bid Tournament.  We are currently in the middle of our second year of Christian playing for Academy Volleyball and I have to say that it’s so much fun to watch our son and his team play the sport that they love.


We are so thankful because our family was able to stay with friends while we visited Harrisburg.  Zach Rosado was one of our youth group students and is now all grown up with a beautiful wife and the most wonderful baby girl.  We enjoyed hanging out with their family in between games as well as checking out their hometown of Harrisburg.  They were extra fun too because they came and watched a few of Christian’s games on Friday and we loved having them there.


A few things to note.  First off, congrats to our boys who started out the tournament strong.  They won all three of their matches on the first day and then two out of three on the second day.


Secondly, Christian loves volleyball and Academy is an excellent club to play for.  Their boys program is in it’s third year and we could not be happier with our experience.  Truth be told, having your child play any travel sport is an investment, but it’s one that has been well worth it for our family.


And thirdly, our son has gotten to expand his volleyball repertoire and it’s been really fun to watch.  Last year, he was the setter for the team, which meant that he mostly just set.  But this year, his team is running a 6-2 (which means they have two setters) so this means that Christian also gets to hit.  And he loves it.  And it’s fun to photograph.


Quick intermission for a picture of my amazing husband with Zach and Alexa Rosado’s adorable baby.


Back to the tournament.


Overall, Christian’s team did an incredible job and ended up placing 5th out of the 23 teams at the tournament.  They played in the Gold Bracket on the final day and ended up getting a bid to Nationals which was the main goal of the weekend.  We were so excited for them and so proud of how hard they worked for their bid.


My last shoutouts would go to our Ellee, who has always been awesome at supporting her brother at all of his sporting events.  And also to Christian’s coach whom we love and appreciate so much.


Photo credit to Ellee and I share this picture because I don’t actually have a ton of pictures with me and our kids.  Being a photographer but more so, a mom, I know the importance of it so am thankful for this one that we got at the end of the tournament.  I could not be more proud of this boy.  He’s growing to be the most wonderful young man, and we are so glad that he is ours.


And that sums up our weekend tournament in Harrisburg.  As I’ve shared before, I write these things so that I can remember, because if I’m being honest, life sure is moving by quickly these days.  But taking time to share a few words and pictures helps me to acknowledge.  To acknowledge the time and the many, many blessings of the weekend.  Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing this with me.


Chicago 2019

For years, I remember talking with other volleyball families and they would tell me how they flew all over the country for tournaments and secretly, I always thought that was a little crazy but last week, we became one of those families.  And I have to say, it was pretty awesome.  Our first big tournament destination was Chicago, and we got to fly with some of Christian’s friends which made the whole experience that much more fun.  It was a big relief to get in (many flights were cancelled both on our departure and our return, because, well, Chicago in the winter can be tricky) and I was proud when we learned how to navigate the train system to get safely to our hotels.


This weekend was also incredibly special, because not only did we get to see Christian’s team play, we also got to cheer on our Arizona nephew who was also playing at the same tournament.


When you live far from family, you miss out on things like getting to see them excel in their sports and I have to say that we were just so thankful to get this opportunity.


It was also pretty fun to get to cheer on these boys.


A few things.  Last year, Christian basically set the entire time for his 14s team.  But this year, in addition to setting, he also got the opportunity to hit from the right side.  Which he absolutely loved.  Also how adorable is our sweet Arizona niece beaming proudly at her New York cousin.  She was hands down the best cheerleader for both her brother and Christian and it was delightful to watch her cheer on the boys all weekend.


Back to the matches.  We were proud of our team who ended up taking second on the first day after beating two other teams in a tie breaker.


It was so fun to see the boys play and build on the skills that they learned last year.


But, as many of us sports parents know, there are good times and there are tough times as well.  And the next two days of sets would definitely prove to be on the tougher side for our boys and their first tournament.


Despite the tough sets, it was still fun to get to see our boy and his team play hard.


We cheered for Christian and we also cheered for his friends.


And of course, the best part of the weekend was getting to have our Arizona, Seattle and Michigan families there to cheer everyone on as well!


When you only get to see your family a few times a year, those times turn into precious capsules of memories.


And I have to say that all throughout our weekend,


Many precious memories were made.


Of course we did our best to get a whole family picture.  It would have been fun to get some outdoor shots, but single digit temps kept us inside for most of the weekend.


I’m so happy that Jeremy’s family were all able to come to Chicago to get together for the weekend.  When you represent four different states all spread out across the country, it’s kind of an amazing feat.


And we all gave huge credit to the Arizona family that braved the tournament with these two precious babies.


On the final day, Christian’s team made it to the first round of playing for Silver and our Arizona team played for Gold.  All in all, we were very proud of our boys and their teams and the heart that they played with.


After the tournament was over, we took an extra day to enjoy time with Jeremy’s parents as well as our Michigan family.  And though it was sad to have to say goodbye, it was also just an incredible blessing to have gotten to spend so much time with our family.


And that sums up our first volleyball tournament of the year.  We are looking forward to two more bid tournaments and many more opportunities to watch Christian and his team play.  All in all, it was a great weekend for volleyball and a great weekend to spend with our family as well.


Only Do So Much

Hello Friends.  October has been busy, to say the least.  And often times, when real life is busy, it’s hard to find the time to sit and write and share so my poor blog gets a bit neglected.  That being said, I’ve realized that in life, I really can only do so much and that’s okay.  So I’ve mostly spent time doing the things that matter most and now, even though it’s late at night (as I’m writing this), I’ve finally found time to share a few things that are going on these days so here goes…

  1.  JV Volleyball.  It’s pretty much taken up our Tuesdays and Thursdays over the past month or so.  There have been some home games, but there have also been a lot of away games and for some reason our school only plays other schools that are (seemingly) forever away.  Okay, so most are about 45 minutes, but it just keeps me wondering why we can’t play all the schools that are actually close by.


All that being said, we’ve enjoyed watching Christian throughout this season.  He’s a setter, so plays quite a lot and has grown in many ways, and not just physically (though officially, he has grown just a bit taller than his Dad, so just past 6 feet at the end of this 13th year).  He’s learned many things that playing sports tends to teach and will end this season bigger, faster and stronger because of it.


In addition to setting, he’s gotten to play right side as a hitter during a few games.  He’s really enjoyed learning another position and has also done a pretty good job at it.  We have a few more weeks left in his JV season and then a few weeks off before his Club season starts.   He tried out this past year for Acad and made their national team for 15s.  Volleyball has been a great sport for our son and we are so thankful for the opportunities he has to play.


2.   Hangtime has officially started!  And my heart could not be more full of love for the amazing kids that are coming to our program.


This year, in our first few weeks, we’ve averaged about 63 kids, and most are from our two local schools.  In addition to my adult leaders, I have a team of close to 20 teens who are helping out in our program as well.  They have done an incredible job and I’m so very proud of them.


I’ll admit, it’s been a challenge to get a lot of pictures at Hangtime, because we are in our first weeks and working to settle in.


But thankfully, we have a lot of hands helping out and we are thrilled to get to run this program for another year.


On that note, if you know a K-6th grader who wants to come to our awesome after school program, we meet every Wednesday from 3:30pm-5:30pm and we would love to have them join us!  We go all throughout the school year and you can always check out: www.eastportbiblechurch.com for more information (just click on the Hangtime link).


3. Youth Group has also started!  So on our first official night of EBCYG (our youth group) Christian also had a game in Smithtown, so as soon as he finished I raced back to the church (eating a sad meal of Tic Tacs that I found in our car) so that I could catch the end of our Thursday night with these amazing teens.


Sometimes it’s hard to imagine we’ve been doing youth group for over 15 years now, but when I see these amazing faces, really I can’t imagine not continuing to do this more.


In our first few weeks we’ve worked on getting ready for another amazing year and helping our teens get to know each other.  Youth Group is for 7th-12th Graders and again, we’d love to have any teens you know come and join us!  We work hard to created a fun and safe environment for them where they can grow and learn more about Jesus.  Being the mom to teens (well one, and one who is well on her way) I know the importance of finding good and healthy things for them to do.


And Youth Group totally falls under this category in addition to fitting quite a few other positive ones as well.  I’m so thankful for my amazing husband and the passion he continues to have for working with teens.  It makes for some busy weeks for our family, but this is the stage we are in and we are happy to serve here as God calls.


And that about sums up where we are in the first few weeks of October.  I’ll do my best to be better about sharing, because life is meant to be shared.  I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t have it all together, but I really don’t think that you always have to.  Anyone can take time to share life and encourage others and that is my goal and what I hope to continue to do through this blog and my writing.  Thank you so much for taking time to check in!

These Moments

It all started with volleyball.  A last minute call for who could come and play.  And then when Facebook reminded us that it was our good friend Danny’s birthday, it turned into a mini celebration of him and his fourteen years as well.


Christian has basically grown up with Danny.  They shared many classes together in elementary school and in the more recent years have connected more through sports and youth group as well.  Of course he picked out the “Get ‘Whale’ Soon” balloon for Danny, because he’s funny and why be sensible with a mere Happy Birthday one?


I made a card with pictures that I had dating seven years back to First Grade.  I often joke that besides their parents, I probably have more pictures of our youth group kids than anyone, and especially of the ones that come around the most.  It’s the photographer in me as well as the desire to continually want to capture these moments because we all know how fleeting they are.


I made them take a few more pictures.


Thankfully, they haven’t refused to be in them quite yet.  There may come a day, and that will be okay too.


And then we played volleyball.  I can’t stress the importance of physical activity throughout these tumultuous teenage years.  Everyone’s a bit happier when they are being active, at least in my mind.


And one of the best parts of the night was seeing hundreds of fireflies all around as we played.  They lit up the grass, flashing their pretty patterned lights as though they were in on the celebrating birthdays and capturing moments as well.


When it finally got too dark to play, we came back for cake and a few rounds of Mafia.  It’s crazy to think that I’ve been playing that game with teens for over twenty years (from the time I was a teen and all throughout my years of working with teens).  Sigh.  Things like that make me feel old.  That being said, this group made it still quite fun.


There are so many of these moments that I want to remember as the days keep flying by. It’s why I write and why I capture pictures and sometimes I think that maybe in sharing it might even touch just one heart to consider the beauty of stopping and taking in the pure and simple joy that these amazing and wonderful moments will bring.


East Coast Championship 2018

On Friday morning, we woke up at 4am to drive down to Virginia for Christian’s last volleyball tournament of the year.  Generally speaking, I’m not a huge fan of long road trips and have never been to Virginia, so I really wasn’t sure what to expect.  But sometimes in life, delightful experiences can come from the unexpected and this weekend was definitely one of those times.

First off, props to Virginia for being amazing.  Google maps took us down through Pennsylvania towards the Blue Ridge Mountains because Jeremy loves to ride his bike and had mapped out a climb on the Blue Ridge Parkway.   We made it down there relatively traffic free and after dropping him off, the kids and I drove over to Charlottesville to hang out and grab some food.


This crazy nut rode for three hours.  When we drove through the parkway to pick him up, I was a bit terrified.  The roads were steep and winding but the views mostly made it all worthwhile.  When we found my husband happy and in once piece, all was well and then we were off to Richmond for the tournament.


This trip not only served as a grand finale to Christian’s club volleyball year, but it was also a bit of a mini vacation for our family.  We stayed in a nice hotel with a pool and had some great quality time with this sweet girl.


All of our mornings started early with 8:00am work times for the team at the convention center.  They played three games after that were nicely spread out.


We loved watching the boys play and had fun cheering them on as they won their first two matches on both Friday and Saturday.


This is where I have to give a shoutout to Christian’s club, The Island Academy Volleyball, or most commonly known as Acad.  I’ve shared before that I did not plan for our son to play club volleyball so young.  We’d known families that had done club for years, but I could never wrap my mind around the time, travel or money investment.  We ended up doing club this year when our son came to us because he really wanted to play.  He committed to earning money to pay for a big portion of the year which was commendable since he’s only 13 and can’t technically work anywhere yet.  He ended up doing many, many jobs for people (mostly yard work) and not only met but exceeded his goals for the year.  This caused him to be incredibly committed to his team and to playing because he put his own money into it and overall, it was really great.

And as far as his team and club?  We could not have been more pleased.  He gained incredible instruction from his coaches and we were so happy with what he learned from playing for Acad.  As a bonus, he also got some great coaching from Acad’s head director Kevin DesLauriers who was named 2017 Coach of the Year for his outstanding work with Molloy.


Moving on.  This weekend included lots of fun volleyball matches.


Granted, it wasn’t as fun when they didn’t win.


Which happened when they played this team.  But it’s life lessons, right?  Sometimes you aren’t the best and there’s something to be said about acknowledging that and learning to deal with it.


Other times, you might be a little better and then that’s pretty fun too.


We had a lot of great players on our team this year.


And we really had great coaches as well.  This is Christian’s main coach, and he was fantastic with the boys.


Also, this is my favorite shot from the weekend.  For the record, as a photographer, I’m used to working with families outdoors in the nice, natural light.  I think I have a lot to learn when it comes to shooting action shots in weird convention center lighting.  But I have quite a few years ahead of me to learn.




Ellee took this shot for me.  Because someday, I’d like our kids to know they had a mom that wasn’t just behind the lens.  Also, I love that man right there, and I’m pretty sure he loves me too.  And finally, we don’t match often (ever) but when we do, it’s for a good reason.  We absolutely loved being volleyball parents this weekend and representing our son’s club.


Our last two matches of the tournament were tough ones.


On Saturday, we played the number 1 ranked team.


It was pretty intense.  And they were really good.


It was a hard loss.


And this kid was pretty disappointed.  But, you know, life.  And he got over it.  And went back to the hotel with his team and had a fun night and good food and got ready for the next day.


Because of their record on Friday and Saturday, our boys made it into the Gold bracket.  There were 36 teams total at the tournament and this was a great accomplishment for them.  However, their ranking put them against the second ranked team, an absolute powerhouse of young men from Puerto Rico.


Side note, this girl was great overall this weekend, at supporting her brother and his team.  It’s not easy to be the siblings of the kids who are doing all of the sports, so credit to those kids because it’s due.


Also side note, our team had some pretty awesome parents this year and we really enjoyed getting to know many of them.


And for how we did in our 8:00am match against that top rated team?  Pretty good in the first halves of both games.  We were point for point up to about 11.  And then it wasn’t as close.  But I really do give our boys so much credit for playing with heart and for doing their absolute best.  It wasn’t an easy match to watch, but really that’s okay.


Christian accepted some words of encouragement from his amazing dad right after their loss.  And later we learned that the last two teams that we lost to went on to play each other in the championship game.  The Puerto Rican team ended up winning the tournament which was so great for them.  Jeremy had talked to one of the moms from that team and she shared that this was a big tournament that their team had saved all year to get to so even though I was sad for our team, I was definitely happy for them.


And that sums up our 2018 East Coast Championship weekend.  We left around ten and had a mostly traffic free ride home which was pretty amazing for Memorial Day weekend.  We listened to “Country Roads” by John Denver again on the way home, in honor of Virginia (you should totally listen to it because it’s pretty catchy) and it made my heart most full to hear my family singing it knowing it will forever commemorate this awesome trip that we took to Virginia.  Since Christian has four more years and has already started working towards next season, I’m definitely hoping for four more years of this trip to come.


Harrisburg Tourney 2018

This weekend, Christian and his team had their first 3 day volleyball tournament.  I have to be honest.  Last September, I thought there was no way that he would play for a travel team this year.  First off, he’s young and the time and financial investment was pretty solid.  But he told us he wanted to get better at volleyball and made promises to show his commitment and I have to say I am thrilled with what he’s gained so far this year.


His growing passion for volleyball has solidified and he has truly come quite far.


We really value and appreciate his Club and the time and energy that they invest in their players.  Christian’s learned a lot from his coaches through his weekly practices and at the tournament this weekend he continued to gain instruction and learn and grow.


Jeremy and I decided a bit last minute to drive out to see him play on Friday and Saturday.  Originally we had sent him for the weekend with good friends who were willing to let him ride with them (that is a huge benefit to him playing with his team this year… amazing other families to carpool with).  But Jeremy was able to get Friday off from work and so we packed up Ellee and drove out.  And I am so glad that we did.


We got to see his team play six matches.  Some were pretty close.


And the losses naturally brought on some disappointment.


But overall, we couldn’t have been prouder of how hard the boys played.


They came together in a lot of ways and grew stronger as a team.


And we were especially proud of Christian and how focused and hard he played.  He is the setter for his team, but also did a great job strengthening a few other areas as well.


The boys played hard both yesterday and today.  In their last set today, they came within four points of making the Gold Bracket for the playoffs.


But they ended up being a strong contender for the Silver Bracket where they will play tomorrow.  As I mentioned before, the team did an incredible job and we cannot wait to hear how they do.  Sadly we are home now and will have to rely on friends to keep us posted as to how the matches go.  But overall, I’m so incredibly thankful that we had the opportunity to support our son and his team and we wish them all the best as they finish up tomorrow.


First Tournament

This weekend, we packed up our bags and drove west to Pennsylvania for Christian’s first volleyball tournament of the season.  If I’m being honest, I never thought we’d be involved in travel sports so soon.  For years, we’d seen other families traveling around the country for volleyball and I always wondered how they did it.  But I have to say, after seeing our son play with his team this weekend, I totally get it.


Christian has learned and grown so much with his team already.  We’ve been able to see him focus in and work whole-heartedly while gaining knowledge and skill and it’s something that we are thrilled with as his parents.


Another one of the huge benefits of this team has seeing him play with some of his closest friends.


They all came together strong as a team this weekend and it was pretty fun to watch.


Christian played well.  He is the setter for his team, and (I’d say) he did really well at his first tournament.


The boys played multiple sets against four other teams all throughout the day.


They were three and three going into their fourth game.  As a mom, I was so nervous for them.  But they won the final two games and then all of the games heading into the championship and they ended up coming in first for the entire tournament.  We could not have been prouder seeing their hard work pay off.


There is a great joy that comes in seeing your child do something they love.  We are so thankful for the opportunities that Christian’s had this year with his team and look forward to continuing to cheer him and his teammates on.  Congratulations to all of the boys who played and worked hard at their very first tournament this weekend!


ESM Volleyball Playoffs

So, the ESM Boys Varsity Volleyball team is going to the Suffolk County Championship and we could not be more proud of them.  We went to watch their playoff game today and I brought my new camera along to see what I could capture (I figured I’d get a little practice in before Christian’s season starts).  We were so excited to cheer on the boys as they beat 3rd ranked Lindenhurst in 3 sets to win the match.







This is our friend Quinn and we absolutely love his passion.



A dedicated parent climbed up the pushed in bleachers to fix a few of the posters that had started to fall down.  So I took this picture to give credit where credit is due.  I have to say that I have great admiration for the parents of all of the boys who played today.  I have a feeling that it was their drive and passion for their kids that was a big part of how they all got to where they were today.




Also, we have great coaches at our school and we are so very thankful for them.


Congrats to all of our Boys Varsity Volleyball players and we will look forward to your Championship game on Tuesday!


Adventures in Long Beach

This summer, Christian joined up with SWAT Beach Volleyball and played a few tournaments in Long Beach.


We weren’t able to make the first few tournaments because of our church schedule, but were able to make plans to drive out to Long Beach this afternoon so we could catch the end of his last volleyball tournament of the summer.


Can we all take a minute to appreciate the awesomeness of this picture.  Christian’s volleyball partner Hank has some pretty epic hair and I’m just glad I was able to catch it in all it’s glory.


Back to the volleyball.  We really enjoyed getting to see Christian and Hank play this afternoon.  Also, it was a beautiful day to be at the beach so we enjoyed lots of great things all around.


Our friends Steven and Jules joined us for the afternoon.  We loved hanging out with them.





In the end, these boys took third and we were pretty proud of their hard work.


In addition to volleyball, we enjoyed an incredible afternoon of fun, sun, food trucks, shaved ice and even enjoyed a nice dip in the ocean.  It’s hard to imagine summer is almost over, but with days like these, I’m proud of say that we will have lots of great memories to look back on.  We are so thankful for SWAT Beach Volleyball and the great times that Christian’s had playing for this awesome team.