Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Lucky Number Thirteen Brings Big Opportunity

Thirteen years as a stay at home mom. Lucky 13! It has always been my favorite number, long before Taylor Swift made it so popular (I think she copied me), and once again, it has turned out to be a significant reference in my life. Being able to be a Helicopter Mom for the past thirteen years has been a dream come true - if I had it to do over again, I certainly would! I actually worked from home for most of those thirteen years, but I didn't have a job that made me a "legit" working mom.

And now, thirteen years after Britt was born, who we always say "saved our family from daycare," I am so grateful to have the opportunity to represent a company I dearly love, Montana Silversmiths. For me? It is a dream come true! It was quite unexpected and you just never know when God will open a door or a window for you. Believe it or not, I was actually starting to get a bit bored the past few months. Before school got out, I was thinking I should look for something. But it had to be something I would truly love and feel passionate about. I didn't feel panicked about it - just calm. I had faith the right job would come along. And so I prayed. I asked God to send the next plan He had for me my way. I asked him to reveal my career to me, my true passion in life, what I was meant to do. And boy did He ever!

A few weeks ago, Brady was asked to become a company employee for Nocona and Tony Lama Boots, two lines he has always loved. It was an offer he couldn't refuse. Although it has been fun being an independent rep, the opportunity to work for Justin Brands was too good of a deal for him to refuse. We're talking real benefits, which are important at this stage in our lives. To say I am proud of Brady is literally the biggest understatement I will ever make. I am so happy he was recognized for all his hard work and dedication in this industry. He truly is a rock star and he was born to be a salesmen. Brady is talented beyond measure when it comes to salemanship. He is my hero!

But the idea of giving up Montana Silversmiths, a territory Brady has grown and developed into something truly special, was devastating. It was difficult for him and I couldn't even bear the thought! So I put my name into the mix and applied. It was worth a try, no matter what happened. And here I am, living proof that dreams really do come true, because they chose me out of some amazing candidates, and I couldn't be more happy or excited about it. I know it is an answer to my prayers.

And that brings us to a week ago. I had lunch with my B's and flew out to Montana for the week. I will admit it was hard to say good bye and I did have a few tears at the airport. But my B's were supportive and sweet and I knew they were in good hands, and before I knew it, I was feeling excited and ready to embrace the winds of change.
This week was actually a very big deal for me. I was a bit nervous about the traveling, because, number one, I absolutely loathe flying. I just do not like to fly. And number two, I had to get a rental car, find my hotel and then drive to the factory from Billings to Columbus, travel with another Montana rep and then get the rental back and make all my flights to get home. Guess what? I did it all without a hitch and even managed to pump my own gas! (We don't have to do that in Oregon.) I wasn't sure if I would be able to handle it, considering I am a country girl from the sticks, but I surprised myself and managed it all. I'm finally growing up! I guess I am just a late bloomer, right?
The picture above is the view from my room, and the next morning I arrived at the factory and was so charmed by this adorable sign. 
I met one of Brady's friends, the amazing Justin Deacon, who is the most talented engraver you will ever meet. In fact, he is so talented, it is beyond description. And his son Travis is just as gifted - he is an engraver, as well, and he told me he learned from the best, his dad. How cool is that? All the engravers are amazing. The amount of love and work they put into each buckle is mind boggling.
The next morning, bright an early at 6:30 (5:30 my time), I was picked up by the Montana and Wyoming Rep, Ed Alves. We spent, ironically, the next thirteen hours on the road! We drove all the way to Wolf Point MT, stopping at Glascow and then Malta on the way home. I saw some amazing country, and I learned why Montana is called Big Sky Country - there aren't many trees. I learned a great deal from Ed and I am so grateful to him for sharing his knowledge with me and entertaining me all day long. The day, believe it or not, flew by! Brady was really happy when he heard I would be traveling with Ed, and now I know why. He is a total rock star in his territory, and in fact, even reminded me a little of Brady in his selling style. Montana Silversmiths is very lucky to have Ed on their team, and I am thrilled I was able to pick his brain on our travels.
The next day I spent back at the factory, and I am so sad I didn't get pictures of everyone. I missed some opportunities, which I am kicking myself for. But I did get a few shots with some of the Customer Service team members, and it was fun to finally meet people I have been hearing about for years. Brady and I are very much a team in our work, and so I was familiar with many things, but it was only the tip of the iceberg, and it was nice to gain more knowledge and to get the "big picture." Frankly, it gave me even more respect for Brady learning all the stuff he knows and has done. Did I mention he is my hero?
Below is my friend David, who is the artist behind all the jewelry. I met him in Denver at Market three years ago, and we have been friends ever since. He is such an amazing designer! And he gave me the darling necklace I have on, which is my new favorite and I hope I sell a zillion of these! It is the bees knees, and I was so honored that he would give it to me. It is a new piece that is coming soon! 
 One last morning view of the Montana morning from my room.
 And then a quick selfie with one of  the horses on the baggage claim belt. How fun is that?!
While I was away, exciting things happened with Brady was holding the fort down. For one thing, Brailey got her Driver's Permit! She had been putting it off all summer, and her dad said, "No more! Let's get you on your way to driving." And so here she is, driving from the DMV. I am sad I missed this special milestone, but glad Brady got to experience it. Thank goodness for pictures!
She also got to have an afternoon and evening of fun with her bestie. Aren't they so cute?! Her mom sent me this picture of them in the Coburg park. They had dinner together and shopped the stores in Coburg and then finished the night with a bonfire at Camp Harlow where Nikki is a counselor. Summer fun at it's best!
Meanwhile, after they dropped Brailey off with Nikki, Brady and Britt hit the golf course. Britt golfed better than he ever has, according to his proud dad. What a great way for them to have some quality father son time!
And Brailey did more driving. The second time went better than the first time. I am really, really glad Brady has taken on the duties of Driving Instructor. 
And wouldn't you know, when I got home, these darling cupcakes were waiting for me. She made the cactus forms freehand with candy melts. She is so talented! This has become a tradition of hers - every time I am gone, I come home to something beautiful she has made. 
So that is the big news around our place this summer. Lots and lots of changes! New jobs, new schools, new schedules. But it was time for my kiddos to learn how to be more independent and responsible. I've helicoptered them long enough. I still plan to do quite a bit of it, but oddly enough, I am actually excited to have something else to focus on. I will always have my focus on them, but it feels right and healthy at this point to have a little something else to think about. The time was right, and I am going to trust the magic of change. Because after all, the best time for new beginnings is now. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Summer of Horses

This summer, we haven't been doing too much golfing. We definitely play a few rounds every now and then, and we still hit balls at home on our own personal golf pad Brady made for us. But most of our free time has been taken up with horses. Brailey came home from her Rodeo Bible Camp in Pendleton more inspired than ever to be a cowgirl. Alvin taught her so much about riding, and the roping instructor told Brady, "If she can ride Alvin, she can ride anything!" We are super proud of her and so happy to see her enjoying her summer and doing what she wants to do with it. On that note, in order to be supportive to Brailey and because he has told her for three years now he was going to do it, Brady entered his first gaming show last weekend. He was amazing! Keep scrolling for more about that... In the meantime, here are just a few of the many moments we've had so far with our precious horses this summer. 
Britt is so funny. He tells himself (and us!) he doesn't like to ride. But he actually does like to ride. I "made" him go on a trail ride one evening, and as usual, nobody had more fun than he did. He was very upset to have to wear jeans - that was the worst part, for him. Once they got back to the house, he zipped back into his shorts. Brady, Brailey and I went on up to our little arena to rope the Hot Heels, and out of the blue, here came Britt. First, he kicked me off the 4-wheeler so he could drive the steer around. Next, he kicked Brady off Alvin and roped the dummy himself! It was fun and funny and cute all at the same time. He has a little cowboy in him, whether he likes it or not. 
I took this cool panoramic picture on my phone. We go down to a big arena near our house every day that we can and Brailey exercises her horses. She has improved so much in her riding. One day she decided to make a little barrel run on Tex. She and Tex have a rocky past - he is not a horse for a beginner. This time, much to Tex's surprise, she rode the hair off him! In fact, she rode him in all the events last weekend at the gaming show and just rode Mater in the barrels and poles. 
I love this picture of Brailey getting on Mater. I think her splits in dance have helped her riding. More flexibility in the hips, for sure! 
One night Brady and I went on a little trail ride together, just the two of us. I think it is the first time we have ever done that. (See my shadow taking his picture?) We usually have one of the kiddos with us. It was so nice! As our B's grow up and get more independent, it has been fun for Brady and I to spend quality time together. He is still my best friend, after all these years. I'm so glad he is mine! He still makes my heart skip a beat.
The gaming show was in Cottage Grove. Brady and Alvin were the stars of the day! It was the first time they had done all of the events, and they were amazing! I couldn't believe how well they did, but I shouldn't have been surprised. One of our friends, Barb Reynolds, said, "Not too bad for an old bronc rider!" It was super fun to watch him. Britt got a little nervous for him in the poles and said to me, "Man, I'm actually nervous for Dad. I hope he knows what to do!"It was also the first time for Brailey riding Tex in two years, and they did pretty darn well for not practicing. She had an incredible barrel run, but she was so excited she made it around all the barrels (Tex is famous for ducking on her), she forgot to ride him on the way home, and Tex got her at the line. But she learned from that mistake and she is excited to ride him again.
Britt was a trooper. He and I were the "film crew." He videoed all the events on his phone and really enjoyed doing it. He also enjoyed visiting with us. He's such a fun kid! It was a long, dusty day, and he made it more bearable with his humor and antics.
And once again, Britt just couldn't help himself - he got on Mater and Alvin a couple of times. Yet he doesn't like to ride. Mmmm-hmmmm. It was fun to see. I think he would have liked to have been entered in the show, truth be told. If only he and Brady could share Alvin. Brady said we could just tell them Alvin is Chipmunk. "Oh no, this isn't Alvin, this is Chipmunk!" We laughed so hard over that one!
On Sunday, we took Brailey and Mater to a barrel race. She did great! They aren't running full speed, yet, but they are getting closer to it. She is so ready to run him and has no fear. We are very proud of her for her dedication in riding every day and taking great care of her horses. Eventually, all her hard work will pay off. In the meantime, the summer of horses continues!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Bullies Beware

I wrote this a couple of months ago. I wasn't going to post it, because it is very, very personal. Most of the time, writing is my therapy. Many blog posts sit in the que, never to be shared. But then a friend of mine posted on her blog about her son being bullied, and I realized how rampant it is in today's society, and I decided to share my own post. The summer has gone a long way toward healing our hearts from what we experienced this year, and if this post makes even one person think differently about bullying, then it is worth it.

Bullying. There is such an extreme amount of it today. Just look at the news. Frankly, I think it has always been around. But the truth is, today, there is so much of it going on, it boggles the mind. Especially with girls. Girls are the worst, aren't they? Of course boys are bullies, too, but they are usually more obvious about it. Girls are sneaky and conniving and unforgiving. Girls can pretend to be sweet when they aren't. Either way, girl or boy, I cannot stand bullies.

To the girl who bullied my daughter this year, know this:

Know that my daughter isn't a victim. She's stronger than you, smarter than you and frankly, much nicer than you. She purposely didn't engage in your twisted little game. She didn't stick up for herself. She isn't the kind of girl to participate in the drama of tit for tat and who was right or wrong. In other words, you just weren't worth her time. You didn't matter that much.

But know that I saw you hurting her. Yes. I personally witnessed an incident. And it took everything I had not to go after you and ask you what you thought you were doing. But I restrained myself, knowing how innocent you portray yourself to be. You aren't one to be trusted. You are dishonest, which makes you dangerous.

Know that your lies will catch up to you someday.

And to the girls who jumped on your bandwagon without getting the real story, know this:

Know there are two sides to every story. Did you really believe the lies degrading my daughter's character? Did you truly think it was like her to do the things that were being said? Or were you just so jealous of her that you eagerly believed such garbage? Why would you turn your back on a friend based on someone else's testimony? How could you forget what a good friend my daughter has been to you?

Know that there will be a next time, because bullying isn't exclusive to high school, and you will come across this exact scenario again. Next time, you should investigate. Don't always take one person's word over another person's without talking to both parties. Draw your own conclusions. Research. Seek the truth. Don't be so quick to judge.

Know that you were the victims in this charade of friendship. You fell prey to a controlling, conniving personality. And you lost out on a great, loyal, mature, sweet, fun friend. You are under a bully's control. And you are a bully in a group of bullies.

To all of you, to the group of bullies, know this:

Know when it comes to my daughter? She's okay. She's more than okay. But you did hurt her. You hurt her deeply. If that was your intention, then pat yourself on the back. Yay you! You succeeded. But she's stronger because of your treatment of her. You taught her one of life's biggest lessons - the only people you can really trust in life are immediate family. Friendship is fickle, and true friends are hard to come by.

Know you missed out on a great friend, someone who was true and who was always good to you. And now you are stuck with your same old comfortable tribe. Good luck with that. And thank you for showing your true colors. Better to learn sooner than later you aren't to be trusted.

Oh, and one more thing. When someone bullies my kids? I take it personally. You are bullying me, too. I wanted to tell your parents, but I knew you would lie about it.

To all the parents out there, I say this:

For the love of God, check in with your kids. If you think something is strange, ask them about it. Investigate. Don't always assume your kid is perfect and right. Don't think your kid doesn't need advice. If something seems strange in their story, don't always believe they are telling the truth. Help them come to the real truth. Human brains are not done growing until the age of 25. Don't bury your head in the sand. Talk, really talk, to your kids. Check in with them. DAILY. Bug them. And if you think something weird is going on, look into it. Life is tricky, and none of us are perfect. But bullying is preventable. A little parental guidance goes a long way.

Lucky Number Thirteen Brings Big Opportunity

Thirteen years as a stay at home mom. Lucky 13! It has always been my favorite number, long before Taylor Swift made it so popular (I thi...