Friday, May 29, 2009

Summer Vacation

Another season has come and gone. We truly enjoyed a great year, on and off the court, here in Teramo. Our team ended the regular season on a good note, winning 4 of the last 5 games and qualifying as the #3 seed in the playoffs. But we stumbled in the first round, coming up on the short end of two 1-point games at Milan. And now we begin our summer vacation.

Brenna and I were able to spend some time in Rome late in the season, as our good friend, Stacey Lehman, was able to come for a visit. She got to witness the most exciting game of the season, in my opinion. It was on the road in a city called Avellino, near Naples. We were down 1 with 4 seconds to go, and I was able to get the ball, and hit a 3-pointer from about 25 feet as time expired. The next day, on our tour through the Coloseum, we were able to get a family picture... although Brenna wasn't pleased with the result, due to limited "prep time" that morning. And Lydia seems disinterested about the whole deal, as well. Nonetheless, a good shot in a historical spot.

Brenna and Lydia were able to get back to the States for a few days at the beginning of May. They went back to St. Louis for a couple days, where Lydia was able to meet her cousins, Mackenzie and Keegan for the first time, as well as get reacquainted with her Nanny and aunt Jen. And then it was on to Kansas to help Gus and Sandy prepare for their class reunion, held Memorial Day weekend at the Aberle household. While in Kansas, Lydia was able to meet many of her relatives for the first time, including: uncle Tim, uncle Nick and aunt Shana, uncle Josh and aunt Kristi, and uncle Chris and aunt Kim, as well as her closest cousin in age proximity, Benjamin. It seems that she took quite a liking to Benji right away, although he doesn't quite seem to share in the excitement. It was a good visit for them, though, and we're looking forward to more family time soon. Speaking of family... congratulations to our niece Alexys Cleaver! Along with all of her outstanding athletic accomplishments over the past 4 years at Dakota High School, she graduated last week... and was awarded for her hard work and dedication in the classroom, as the salutatorian of the class of '09.

We were able to visit an up-and-coming vineyard near here this week. Keep that in mind, any of you who like wine, and plan to visit the Abruzzo region next season. So, we send off from Italy for now, as we leave behind memories of a great and historical season for our city, organization, and team. We will miss our teammates and friends here in Italy, but we know that we'll return in a couple of months, and hopefully be able to build on what we did this season. The last picture is of Lydia in her car seat. We kinda get a "kick" out of her cute little bubble feet. She's been developing strength and agility day by day and these chubby little things could possibly be walking on their own the next time they touch down in Italy. Our love and wishes to you all for a great summer, and we hope to see you soon.
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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Catchin' up: Part II

What else has been going on?... We've had a number of visitors to Teramo! And, we've really enjoyed spending time with each of them! Up above, Lydia is getting to spend some quality time with her Bompy Hoover who was able to visit in March. Bompy's hands were mesmerizing for Lydia, and we were happy to learn that simply moving one's fingers can hold her attention! He was able to catch 2 games while he was here, as well as meet some of our dear friends, Milena, Sandra, and Milos. They are from Serbia and Montenegro respectively, and it was a true joy hanging out with them. Milos is an ex-teammate from Jesi last year. We always seem to glean a new view of world history and culture, while learning about life in the former Yugoslavia. We entertained them with a home-cooked American pancake breakfast. The number of people in Italy trying Ryan's peanut butter/maple syrup combo on pancakes is definitely on the rise!
Next, we welcomed Ryan's sister, Jennifer, for her spring break, as well as him mom. It was so nice to have them here, and Lydia absolutely loved all the love, attention, and gifts she was flooded with! They were here to help us celebrate a win over a team called Rieti (which happens to be where Kobe Bryant was born, while his dad was playing over here years ago). And, they enjoyed a number of dinners and fellowship with teammates Jaycee and Baylee Carroll (Bella's parents) and Jacob Jaacks. We had one of our best dinners yet their last night here at a country house about 20 minutes from Teramo! We continue to find more and more amazing restaurants as time goes by.... just a little carrot-dangler for any of you who are considering a visit to Italy!
Lastly, we were able to spend some time with our Italian friends, the Billiatos, up near Milan, the weekend before Easter. We didn't get the win against Milan that we had hoped for, but we were able to celebrate Ryan's birthday with some great home-cooked Italian food by chef Maria! Maurizio, also known as Billy, enjoyed claiming Lydia and her blue eyes as his own, since he's a rare blue-eyed Italian, and Brian, their son, helped to keep Lydia entertained!
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Catchin' Up: Part I

We're back on the blogger update! Man, is it me, or does it seem extra easy to get distracted these days with various things such as facebook, itunes, skype, LOST, scrabble, 24, NCAA tournament pool, baseball season, visiting guests, baby stuff, earthquakes, and oh yeah, the Italian basketball league.
(Brenna: "uhhm... can I add to that? ---real baby stuff, cooking, entertaining, laundry, and housecleaning"????)
Needless to say, we've been busy like most of you. We just wanted to catch up with the past few months as quite a bit has gone on.

This season seems to be flying by! Brenna and I were just talking the other day about how true it is that life just seems to go by faster and faster the older one gets---kinda like a roll of toilet paper! Since we both celebrated birthdays in the last month or so, the issue hits home even more. And, maybe now that we have added to our family, that "time flying" process is bound to keep on "rolling"!
Lydia has been growing like crazy! She's over 15 lbs. now, and believe me, we feel every last little ounce (or gram, in Italy) every time we bend down to get her out of her crib or the bath tub. I think Brenna feels like she's back in her sales days at times, getting all her sample books in and out of her vehicle. It's been a blast, though, watching her develop and grow and discover new things pretty much every day. She and the neighbor girl next door have enjoyed playing together from time to time as well. Bella is a little bit ahead of her in most aspects of development since she's about a month older, but I think Lydia is quite observant, so she learns from Bella and soon tries to do most of the same things on her own. The most recent developments are laughing out loud, holding herself up while laying on her tummy, grabbing everything within reach and putting it in her mouth, peek-a-boo, walks with the Bjorn, kicking Daddy in the face when he tries to gobble her smelly feet (inflicting pain seems fairly enjoyable to her), chewing on a cold teething ring, and eating rice cereal from a spoon. She's really a pleasant baby, and as long as she's fed, has a clean diaper, and is given a good amount of attention, then she's usually as happy as a clam!

Now on a more serious note, a lot of you have been asking about us and the earthquakes in Italy. Thank you so much for your concern and prayers. The landscape picture at the top of the post, is a view of the Appenine mountains from Teramo. Just on the other side of that peak is L'Aquila, where a lot of the catastrophe occurred. We are about 35 miles from there, and have most definitely felt the quakes, both literally and emotionally. We missed out on the main quake on the morning of April 6, as we were up north. But, have since felt about 10 aftershocks. Evidently, there have been more than 800 tremors since January, and many people had already left L'Aquila for fear something was going to happen. Many women and children have left Teramo to go stay with family elsewhere, and if they haven't left town, they are sleeping in their cars at night, or tents out in open areas away from buildings. We also see a lot of people driving around with their cars packed with supplies, just in case... Brenna and I live in a very new, solid building and though we feel the quakes, we are not overly concerned about our building falling. We do however, have a few bags packed and ready to go, should the need arise. It is hard to imagine that we are so close to such devastation, as over 250 people have lost their lives, and 10,000 some have had to evacute their homes. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those families who have had to deal with this tragedy, and we continue to support and encourage the heroes who have come to the rescue, and pulled people from the rubble. There have been some amazing miracle stories, as one 98 year old woman was pulled from the rubble 30 hours after the quake, and she had just stayed in her bed knitting away.
Our home game that was scheduled for Easter weekend was postponed as they are still testing our arena to make sure it wasn't damaged from the earthquake. We were able to get out of town for the weekend, but that story is for another time... Until then, we hope you all had a wonderful Easter holiday... the story of Jesus' resurrection! His sacrifice gives us all the victory over death and sin! God bless!

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Happy Holiday Times

It's been a great holiday season here in Teramo, for Lydia and her mom and dad. She seemed to enjoy her first Thanksgiving with grandpa Gus and grandma Sandy, as well as her other American friends. And then last week her first Christmas was a good time, too. It was unusual for Brenna and I to be here over the Christmas holiday, and not with our families in the States. But our team had games on the 21st and the 28th, so this year was a new celebration with our little family here in Italy. "Nanny" Hoover has been here, too, and we have enjoyed a good two weeks with her. It's been great having her here. Brenna and I were even able to enjoy a rare night out together at our organization's Christmas party at the team president's house, while Nanny and Lydia hung out together at home.
Gus, Sandy, Brenna, and Lydia say goodbye in Rome

Nanny and Lydia enjoying the big win in Bologna!

Christmas time is always a special time for Brenna and I, as we get to celebrate our Savior's birth. It's always a good time to get together with friends and family, maybe share some gifts and good food, and listen to some good Christmas tunes. But this year was extra special, as we got to celebrate our own little miracle. Lydia is such a precious gift from God, and we have thoroughly enjoyed watching her develop and grow day by day. We hope you all have enjoyed these past couple of weeks of Christmas cheer, and that you and your families have stepped back, and allowed the true calm and peace of this holiday to inspire and refresh your spirit. We send our best wishes to you and your loved ones, and hope to hear from you soon.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Lydia Vianne Hoover

Lydia Vianne Hoover has arrived! She is amazing!! She was born November 3rd in Teramo, Italy. At the time of delivery she was 2.85 kg and 49 cm, which converts to 6 lbs 5 ozs. and 19.3 inches. I can say, without a doubt, it was one of the best experiences of my life. Brenna may not agree, as she was the one who had to go through all the pain and sacrifice... and I must say, she was absolutely awesome, while enduring some not-so-ideal conditions. But I'm sure she would agree with the fact that the excitement was at an extremely high level, as we welcomed our little gal into the world. You parents out there may be able to relate... but if there's an experience out there that makes more of a case for God's presence in this world, I have yet to know of it.

Our first evening together as a family was nice. Lydia slept through most of it, but she still managed some grunts and squeaks to let us know she was happy to be here. Brenna said that she didn't choose this first outfit intentionally, but in Acts 16 in the Bible, Lydia was a dealer in purple cloth. Well, I wonder if that Lydia had a high forehead and bunch of sandy blond hair to go along with her beautiful purple garb.

We had a few days back at home before Grandma Sandy arrived on the 10th of November. Lydia seems to love her Grandmama, and Brenna and I have loved having her here. She's been incredible. Between cooking meals, to doing laundry, to cleaning the house (including moldy walls), to figuring out cloth diaper issues, to staying up with Lydia while Brenna and I get some sleep, she truly has been a gracious guest. Oh, and she even lets us win at cards games, to keep the morale high.

And here's one other picture of Lydia in what seems to be her favorite position (other than on her mother's breast). When she gets an upset stomach or just plain grumpy from time to time, she's usually able to pull it all together as seen in the photo. And her "pillow" can sometimes sneak in some precious shut eye as well. I don't think I've ever enjoyed a pre-game nap like I did last Saturday. Lydia was able to attend her first live basketball game that night, too. She seemed to like it, and I had probably my best game of the season thus far. We pulled out a big win on our home court on national television, as I was able to hit a few key shots down the stretch to help our team to victory. We await the arrival of Grandpa Gus this week, and we thank all of you for your kind words and wishes at the announcement of Lydia's birth.
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Monday, October 27, 2008

Slight of Hand

Our most recent game was against Siena, the 2-time defending champions of the Italian league. It was a hard fought contest, back and forth for 40 minutes of regulation and 5 minutes of overtime, but we ended up a point short on the scoreboard. A tough 81-80 loss, and our first of the season, but we have a lot of positive things to take from this game. One of our rookies, Jaycee Carroll, played his second great game in a row. And our Italian National Team point guard, Giuseppe Poeta, played well, after a short absence with a hamstring injury. Next week will be just as difficult, as we travel to Rome to face another quality Euroleague team.
38 weeks and counting! Brenna is quite the pregnant gal. She doesn't seem to slow down. She still does most of the same things she's always done... except she needs help from time to time on getting her boots on and off. And her self-applied pedicures aren't quite as easy as they used to be. Other than that, her appetite is pretty good, and if I could get her to rest more often, it'd be better for everyone. Believe it or not, we have her first official Italian doctor visit today (we think). The team, and the people handling some of these details have been fairly elusive to this point, causing some uncertainties, but we try to remain patient, and hope that everything is fine with our growing little kick-boxer.
This is about as recent of a picture as we can post. You may notice some similarities between the top picture on this blog, and this bottom one. My right hand seems to be in about the same position, and the objects in the hand seem to be roughly the same size. As you can imagine, we're getting very excited about the upcoming events. The due date is 2 weeks away now, and Grandma Sandy's arrival is right around that time. All of this, as well as the presidential election about a week away, November will be quite an eventful month. For those of you that are still undecided, please read as much as you can about the candidates, and watch some unbiased news reports before you make your decision... this is an important election. With that being said, may God bless you and your families. We hope to hear from you soon. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Season off to a Good Start!

Teramo Basket opened the season October 12 with a big victory over Ferrara, 84-68. Teramo commanded most of the game, and the attached video shows some of the highlights. Ryan is back in his favorite jersey number, 4 ! The team was in Biella, up near Milan and Torino, not far from the French/Swiss border this past weekend---about a 7-1/2 hour bus trip. The game was on national television, so even though I was unable to make the road trip, I was still able to see the game. Though the team was missing both their starting point guard and their back-up point guard due to injuries, they still managed to pull off a tough 5-pt. win. This weekend Teramo will face the 2-yr. defending Italian champs, Siena.

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