GaBRIElle-Little Sis & Fantastic Daughter (Everybody calls her "Gabby" but to us she is known as "Brie")

Friday, March 9, 2012

Back from my mini Sabbatical...

Sooooo... Okay apparently, I haven’t gotten the hang of keeping up a blog as you can see from the lack of recent entries. I could attribute it to the fact that the past couple of months have kept our family extremely busy.  Or, I could just introduce you to who I have spent a litle too much time with - Procrastination...

I have been duly chastised by more professional bloggers, and I am going to make a concerted effort to be more diligent about putting pen to paper - or rather fingers to keyboard :). 

WELL, we last left off with telling you about how exciting we were that Gabrielle had been one of six Sr. Women’s National Team Members selected to represent our country, the great  U S of A, at the 2011 Gymnastic World Championships in Tokyo, Japan.  A decision that did not leave most gymnastic fans with the warm & fuzzies.

Gabrielle didn’t have the best performance at the 2011 Visa Championship (in fact it was a near disaster) - as we have already covered.  So, it was logical that many were baffled by her inclusion on the Team and asking, "Why, Why?"

But see that’s the funny thing about logic - the internal strength of the human spirit is sometimes not taken into consideration.  Now don't get me wrong, I love me some logic - even got an 'A' in my Logic class in college and solved a logical proof that my professor said had never been solved before.  (Insert picture of me patting myself on the back LOL)

However, I see more than ever now that even though something may look very logical, the power of faith and the resiliency of human nature can never be discounted or underestimated.

Now ya’ll know I couldn’t resist throwing a little MJ in there... After all, he was from my hometown - Gary, IN!

Okay, back to World Championships.  Gabrielle was determined to not take her opportunity to compete for her country for granted.  I will admit she was really nervous because she didn’t want to let her teammates or country down.  She also really wanted to make us, her host family and her coaches, Chow & Li, proud.  She said, "Mom, what if I mess up again? I really don't want to disappoint anyone."  I told her to just take it one day at a time and not to focus on negative thoughts. 

A lot of pressure was resting on those tiny shoulders.  I thought the way that she dealt with all of her emotions was really impressive! 

She worked very hard to get back in top shape physically and mentally.  As her body began to heal, her confidence began to return.  Although she was still not at 100% when she performed in Tokyo, she challenged herself to give it all she had. 

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to travel to Tokyo to watch her compete.  Instead, my other children and I nervously crowded around the computer to watch the competition online.  After we saw her complete her routines, we were all jumping up and down, screaming and high five-ing (is that even a word?).  I mean, you would have thought we won the lottery.  We are, of course, much more “reserved” when we actually attend competitions.  But, I’m thinking we might start turning in performances like Danell Leyva’s coach.  We absolutely love watching his reactions at the meet! 

The encouraging words of Chow and nailing her routines at Worlds really helped Gabrielle find a new found confidence that shes never really had.  I have to say that whole experience was definitely a turning point in Gabrielle’s gymnastics career - something our whole family has been waiting on for a while.  As you can imagine, we are so thrilled with all of her progress. 

Now, the goal is just to keep her healthy...  Spirit, soul & body.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My very first blog!

Chillin in Minny Mouse's House at Disney World
Hi everyone - this is Arielle aka Arie.  This is my first time blogging, and to be honest, I am excited about it! I have even decided to start my own blog, although, I am still trying to figure this whole thing out lol.

I actually don’t know where to begin, so I will just start with this... I am so extremely proud of my little sister!  I have always believed in her talent.  Not to toot my own horn (lol) but I saw how good my sister could be when she was like two years old.  My mom put me in gymnastics when I was about three, and I absolutely loved it!  I used to try to get my sister, Joy to do gymnastics too. However, she was not interested at all, but Brie was. I remember when I taught her how to do a cartwheel.  I only showed her a couple of times then she started doing them with perfectly straight legs. 

I called my mom and told her to look at what Brie could do.  She was very impressed. But even though I kept telling her to put Brie in gymnastics, she wouldn’t because she was afraid that she would get hurt like me.  See, I broke my wrist in two places while doing backhand springs.  I still tried to persuade her because Brie liked learning, and she was really good.

We moved to Dallas, Texas, and I had almost talked my mom into putting us in a gym there.  I remember her looking up gyms in the phonebook.   We didn’t know a thing about WOGA then, and it was not that far from our house.

But, it wasn’t until we moved back to Virginia Beach a few years later that I was actually able to talk her letting us do a trial class at my old gym.  She took all four of us to do the trial class.  Joy hated it, and John was only interested in the tumbling.  My mom put John in a boys class, but he told my mom he really didn’t want to do gymnastics.  He was more interested in his other sports.  Even though it would have been a lot easier on my mom to have us all in one place, she always allowed us to do what we had a passion for.

That’s one of the things I love most about my mom!  I definitely know it hasn't been easy for her as a working single parent to take care of all of us by herself, but she always supported us in what we did.

I am just so glad that she finally listened to me.  Well, I decided I wanted to do competition cheerleading instead, but my mom let my sister continue in gymnastics because she saw how much Brie loved it.

Going to all of the competitions over the years has been a lot of fun for my family.

Universal Studios
2008 Level 10 Nationals in Orlando was one of my favorites!  My mom took us to Disney World and Universal Studios while we were in Flordia.

Now sometimes it's just too expensive for all of us to fly.  So, we might have to drive a long way (like 23 hours to go to the 2011 Visa Championships in St.Paul,MN), but it was always totally worth it.  Although I hate being in a car that long, I love being able to be there to support my lil’ sister when she competes!  I pray that she fulfills her dream of making it to the Olympics next year!  I will do everything I can to be there when she does!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Design Drama

We are all learning a lot over here regarding blog designing.  But, we are having fun too, and that's what it's all about right? 

Apparently, I put the description where the title was supposed to go. Oops... Thanks to Arie for catching that!  So glad I have tech savvy kids; they really do keep me on my toes!

Through the Fire - The Refining Process (Part II)

Day 2 of the competition.  I think we were all nervous because we knew how important this competition was to Gabrielle. She told me before the meet that she was not going to let anything keep her from going after her goal - not even her leg.  I did my best to stay positive and encourage her as I have always done.  But to be truthful, all I really wanted to do was protect her and keep her near me.  However, that would have been selfish of me.  The doctors had cleared her to compete, but they cautioned her to not overdo it.

She went through her routines on vault, floor and uneven bars without any major errors.  But then there was BEAM...  that 4 foot tall - 4 inches wide piece of equipment that has been the arch-nemesis of many a gymnast! 

I think we were all holding our breath as she was going through her beam routine.  Everything was going good until she attempted her dismount.  It took her three tries to get it right.  The weeks of not being able to really train on balance beam because of her injury affected her.  But despite the obstacles facing her, she still went out there and competed to the best of her ability. 

Making the National Team after having 5 falls was nothing short of a miracle.  We witnessed God’s faithfulness to our family yet again, and we were all very thankful. 

Two weeks after Visa Championships was the first World Team Selection Camp in Texas.  Gabrielle’s leg was getting better, but she was still not at 100%.  She worked really hard during those two weeks.  When she got to the Selection Camp, she was more confident in herself.  She had a very good camp. After she returned home,  she told me how much she wanted to fulfill her dream of making it onto the World Team.  I told her that she could do anything that she set her mind to do. I told her to “only believe.” 

She got to come home for a week, but then she had to return back to Texas for the Final World Team Selection Camp. After the camp, she said she felt confident. But she didn’t know if she had made the team.  So, we waited.  And we waited.  And we waited.  Then finally the list was posted. 

We weren’t prepared the backlash that came afterwards.  Apparently, there weren't many people that had much faith in the team that was chosen. I didn’t know about the negative comments that were circulating over the internet until Gabrielle told me.  All I could think was that it was so unfortunate that the girls read all of those mean spirited remarks from people who claimed to support Team USA right before they left for World Championships.  I basically told Gabrielle not to read anything else because people can be extremely hateful and cruel.  I also told her to keep in mind that not everybody would be supportive of her fighting for her dreams.

 A BIG thank you to Chris S. for making this video our family loved it!

I'm so glad that opinions don't decide outcomes,  and that they have absolutely no bearing on what you think or feel about yourself unless you let them.  

I must say that it was truly awesome to watch the girls prove that they had what it took to be the 2011 World Champions.  Naturally, we were so happy to see Gabrielle stick her routines and see all of her hard work pay off!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Through the Fire - The Refining Process

Those words still sounded so sweet even though when I heard them, I already knew my little girl had made the Team.  I stayed up very late waiting anxiously for the list to be published online. I don’t think I have hit the refresh button so much in all my life.

It was truly an amazing accomplishment for Gabrielle to make the World Team, especially since she suffered a leg injury a few weeks before the July 2011 US Covergirl Classic meet.  We knew Visa Championships (the two day competition in August that determines who makes the US National Team) would be challenging given the fact that she had been extremely limited in her training.  Day 1 was nothing short of a disaster.  3 falls on Beam, a fall on floor, and a near fall on her uneven bars dismount was certainly not what we were expecting. 

As we sat in the audience and watched, I have to say that I was extremely proud of her.  It wasn’t easy to watch at all, but I was filled with such awe as I saw her get back on that beam over and over and over again. I could see her face from where I was sitting, and I could see the disappointment, despair and utter confusion in it.  I could tell that she was fighting the urge to cry, and she didn’t.  I wanted to jump out of my seat, run down the aisle, jump over the railing and wrap my arms around my baby and let her know everything is going to be okay

But, I have always tried to instill in my children that when you fall down you have to get back up and do it again.  I told them, ”It’s just like when you learned to walk as a baby.  You didn’t quit trying just because you kept falling down.  If you had, you wouldn’t know how to walk right now!”  So I stayed in my seat and choked back MY tears because I knew that when I saw her after the competition, she would need to draw on my strength.  After all, there was still Day 2 to think about.

As we walked back to our hotel from the sports arena, I could see how distraught and doubtful she was.  So much sacrifice on all of our parts had gone into getting to this moment.  I knew I had to stop fear and doubt from consuming her.

When we got back to our room that night, we wrapped her leg with ice, I grabbed my computer and pulled up some of her past awesome routines.  I didn’t say much to her other than “watch these”.   I knew I didn’t have to say much of anything.  A picture is truly worth...  Before she fell asleep I told her, “Today is behind you, so leave it there. Tomorrow is standing before you - focus on that.”

She had one day to train before she had to compete again on Day 2 of the competition. Her leg and hip were throbbing, she was struggling to regain her beautiful flexibility (something she is known for), but in spite of all this - she was adamant about finishing the competition.  (I knew those videos would reignite her fire.) "This is my dream", she cried.  "I refuse to give up on it!"

It was a beautiful sight to watch her older siblings rally around her.  JOHNathan pumped her with lots of “ you can do this!” - JOYelle chimed in with lots of “we love you & no matter what, we are proud of you” and ARIEelle, ever the encouraging big sister, told her “not to worry, just breathe and give it your all.” 

Then Day 2 arrived!       To Be Continued...


<<<--- I received a call yesterday from my younger sister.  She rang to let me know that while she thought the blog was great, she had one major problem with it.  She was not given proper credit in my first post.  Ummmm yea, about that... I somehow ;;)  forgot to add that part in there.

You see... wellll...  I had initially called my sister to ask for her help in coming up with the blog title - and her contribution was “Brie’s Big Cheese”.  I actually vetoed her idea rather quickly telling her that I didn’t see how the “pun” in it related to the blog.  Then later on that evening my light bulb moment appeared, and I decided it was a good name after all. I just tweaked it a bit ;;).

I certainly didn’t mean to leave my one & only gorgeous little sister off of the closing credits.  My bad, Bianca.  ♬♪ Now I’m down on my knees, begging you please... yes, I’m down on bended knee ♫♪ (in my Boyz II Men voice) - pleading for your forgiveness!  It was totally unintentional O:-)

Good! Now that we have that all cleared - we can get back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Friday, November 4, 2011

WELCOME! (Insert big smiley face emoticon here)

I have had many requests to start a blog to share our family's journey as we help support Gabrielle, my youngest daughter, in her quest to fulfill her dream of making it to the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games.

Our family has been truly touched by all of the support and kind words we have received from everyone who is cheering for Gabrielle!  It really means a lot. :^)

Now, you are probably wondering how we came up with the name of this blog.  Well, it all started with a promise that I made to my mom when Gabrielle was born.  My mom made me vow that I would not call her "Gabby" - she said something about it reminding her of some cowboy who rode with Roy Rogers in the 40's. Yea, way before my time...  I have nicknames for all of my kids, so I started toying around with Gabrielle to see what other name I could come up with.   I wasn't too keen on calling her "Elle",  and thankfully as I kept saying her name over & over again, "Brie" emerged.  I got my mom's stamp of approval, and the rest - as they say - is history.

Arielle, Johnathan & other family members each have their own variations of her nickname. But JOYelle came up with "BrieCheese" partly because of the actual cheese, but mostly because Gabrielle is always smiling.  Even when she was a little girl, Gabrielle loved saying cheese whenever she was in front of a camera.  She has always been one cheesing little girl.

I remember when she first started gymnastics and learned to vault. She would run down the runway with the biggest grin on her face.  Her coaches would crack up laughing every time!  They joked and said, "Gabrielle, you have to be serious when you run because vault is a serious event. You have to put your serious competition face on."  But, it didn't matter what they said; her smile WAS her game face.

And that same smile is still evident today as much as it was then! It's that smile that none of us over here can resist. Gabrielle knows this all to well, and she is very good at using it to her advantage! That's right, Brie -> WE ARE AWARE of your trickery, but (sigh) we just can't help ourselves.  We just love your smile. 

HA! Just had a total Beverly Hill's 90210 nineties moment: "I'd like to dedicate Shanice's - I Love Your Smile to my boo - Brie" . . .

Soooo, that's about it for now.  I think I might actually enjoy blogging - it seems very therapeutic at least.  Goodness knows with all that we have going on right now,  I am willing to do just about anything that  offers some relaxation or promises stress relief!