Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Our Karate Kid




As you may have guessed, Britt got his REAL KARATE UNIFORM last night! And as you can see, our Karate Kid was super proud and excited - these are only a handful of the pictures we took as soon as we got out of the car and into the house... He was extremely proud and happy! He had to show me ALL his karate "moves." Brailey was giggling in the background at how serious he was during this photo shoot. We are all absolutely thrilled that Britt has found something he loves so much! And something that is good for him, too. It will be interesting to see how his karate career plays out... HEE-YAAAH!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Fun 2011

The annual coloring of Easter eggs! Last year, Daddy was trying to steal the little Bs' eggs to color, so this year...
We got him his own eggs to color! We were sure that would keep him busy. But oh no! He colored his eggs in less than five minutes, and still tried to steal eggs from his babies! Next year, we are going to remind him to "take his time" with his own eggs... What can we say? That's our Brady!
The Easter Bunny came Friday morning and took our baskets filled with empty plastic eggs - we were so thrilled! (Yep, we are big believers in the Easter Bunny around here.) And sure enough, he left the baskets Sunday morning filled with goodies and had also filled all the plastic eggs with delicious treats and hid them all over the ranch!
The Easter Bunny brought these shirts! AND, he even re-used the Hello Kitty and Spiderman eggs from last year! We just love that Easter Bunny... OH yah!
Of course we went to Easter Sunday mass, and both of my B's looked absolutely gorgeous, I must declare (and since I'm their mom, I can declare it!). Britt loves his big sister...
Britt has sensitive eyes like his mother, and he was having a hard time with the light in his eyes, hence the pained expression on his face, but you can see how very handsome he looked, and isn't Brailey beautiful? We found this dress and both of us just fell in love with it. We looked at quite a few of them, too, but this one was so Brailey Shaye!
And since we forgot to get a picture after we finished the eggs, I remembered to get one last night before bedtime. Here are my three "kids," with their darling Easter eggs. We actually figured out how to do tie-dye this year, so there are some cool ones! Now for the deviled eggs, right? We didn't hide the real ones, this year, because our basset hound eats them before we can find them. You know, that scent of a blood hound that she has... So you live and you learn, and we like discovering what the Bunny puts in the plastic ones, anyway. Happiness any way you look at it - it was a beautiful Easter! Britt said it was the best Easter ever, and Brailey said she thinks it might just be her new favorite holiday...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Clutter Clearout

For the past few months, The 4 B's have been trying to clear out all the clutter in our lives. This is actually a New Year's Resolution from 2010. And while I wish it could all just happen overnight, it is a slow process, and frankly, a never-ending battle. But so worth it!

The little B's and I started our decluttering last summer by going through the remaining boxes in the shop that were from the Big Move (when we moved from our trailer house to the shop to the new house). That felt so good! And we've been working really hard to get rid of all the things we don't need. After the shop, we worked on the pantry and a couple of drawers and the cabinets over the washer and dryer. Truly, I have no idea how we've accumulated so much crap! Where does it all come from?

One great thing about our big move a few years ago is that my beloved mother, bless her heart, cleared out my kitchen for me. If you know me at all, you know how much I despise cooking. So it is a mystery to me how I collected so many unnecessary cooking items over the years. So my mom and I decided she would pare things down to what she thought I needed, and it is a decision I have never regretted. Three years later, I have yet to miss anything she disposed of. And I have to say, even though I am not a master chef, the kitchen is now one of my favorite rooms in our house, because it is organized! And even more surprising is that I have become a better cook... That right there is a miracle in itself. Truly!

So for more than a year, I have been trying to keep the clutter out of our new house. Obviously, I am a Type A personality, and worse than that, a Capricorn, so it is in my makeup to want things to be in order. Even so, I strongly believe clutter breeds chaos, and not just in your house and on your place, but in your mind.

Over this past spring break, I think I mentioned the kids and I were able to go through their area of the shop, and I was so proud of them for how much they put into our yard sale pile. And they were thrilled with how spacious and organized their play area was! Then, Brady and I went through our attic in the barn and slimmed those contents down, as well, and it feels like we have a new barn! Truly, it is amazing the sense of peace that can be derived from a little organization and paring down.

A few weeks ago at mass, Deacon Matt was giving the homily, and he talked about how attached we get to material possessions, and how ridiculously hard it is to let go of that attachment. Of course I agreed with him, because I am on my big roll of clearing things out. I didn't realize Brailey was listening to him, as well, though, until this weekend...

She has been unhappy with her room ever since she moved into it, really, She has a beautiful log bed, but it takes up a lot of room. And she also has a lot, and I do mean a lot, of stuff! So this past Friday, we tackled her room, and completely overhauled it, and at one point she said, "Deacon Matt was right! It feels good to get rid of stuff!" It was sort of hard for her in the beginning, because not only was it completely overwhelming, she was pretty attached to all her things... Once she started understanding how necessary it was to get rid of some of it, though, she actually enjoyed the process. She kept saying, "Wow Mom! This is fun!" And now? She loves her room! And not only that, her room being cleaned up and decluttered actually made our entire house feel better! I'm glad she was so steadfast in her complaint - she normally doesn't complain about anything. So I'm proud of her for sticking to her guns and I am elated to have her room organized and clean.

The 4 B's clutter clearout goes beyond material possessions, though. We've been working on simplifying other areas of our life, too. Like our schedules. Time is always a major factor for us, and like everyone else, we never have enough of it. We've made some changes to ensure that we have one family day per week, and we aren't overloading our daily schedule with activities that aren't totally necessary. Like playdates and sports that we don't absolutely love.

We've even cleared out the clutter with certain people in our lives. I've said it before, and I'll say it again now - the only people we need in our lives are the ones who need us in theirs. Brady and I have been making sure to spend our time with people who truly love us and care about our life and well-being, and it has made a huge difference in our hearts. Why waste precious energy worrying about people who don't have our best interest at heart? Clear them out...

What can we say? There is always room for improvement. And it is an ongoing battle. The pantry needs going through again, as does the game closet and my own personal stash of clothes. But the feeling of freedom and peace that comes from the process of clearing the clutter is worth every sacrifice. Trust me!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Brides (yes, plural!) and the Groom

Last Sunday, Brailey had her adorable little friend Hope come over for the afternoon. Hope is 3, and Brailey just loves her! Brailey is such a nurturing soul, she watches over Hope like a little mother hen, calling her "honey" and "sweetie." In any case, Hope's mom (my dear friend Stacy) and I were talking away about life and our deep thoughts surrounding it, and lo and behold, here came the brides! The dress Hope is in was from my first wedding - yes, I'll admit it! I almost gave it to Goodwill, several years ago, but I changed my mind at the last second. (And when I say last second, I mean I took it back from the Goodwill attendant and put it back in our pickup). Even though that marriage wasn't meant to be, I did love the dress, and somehow I knew Brailey would enjoy it one day. And oh has she ever! The other dress, the one Brailey is in, is one my mom bought for her to dress up in. If you've followed my blog at all or know us, then you understand how much Brailey loves dressing up. Anyway, the pictures above this text are just a handful of what Stacy and I had the pleasure of experiencing. One of those "precious moments."

To make it all even more memorable, it was discovered that Hope has a little crush on Britt - she just loves him! So earlier, she was dressed in a fancy red "dancing dress," and she begged him to dance with her, and in fact chased him all over the house trying to get him to oblige her. Of course, he loved the attention, but he would not relent and give up the moves. Finally, he told Hope, "Look. This is how it is. Boys don't like to dance, okay? We like to shoot BB guns and do karate. Girls are the ones who like to dance." Hope didn't believe him for a second, but Stacy and I got a big laugh out of him telling her "how it is," in that special way of talking that Britt has. So funny!

Then yesterday afternoon, I came around the corner and discovered the wedding game was still on, with just my two B's partaking, this time. Britt dressed himself, which you might determine from the state of his tie... They were thrilled to give me a few wedding poses. The last one is their "karate" pose.

Hopefully, their real weddings won't be for another 30 years! In the meantime, I'm glad they can have fun like this. I would have died for a real wedding dress to play in when I was their age. Instead, I had to make do with a light blue skirt I would put on my head as a veil. Ironically, that skirt served two purposes - a veil for when I was a bride and also a veil for when I was a nun. No wonder my own children are hysterical - the apple never falls far from the tree, right?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Searching for Passion

If you are wondering what Big Mama (that's me) has been up to, the answer is "searching."

I am in the midst of trying to determine what I am passionate about... I am searching for the answer to what really makes me tick. What do I love to do? What makes me oh-so-happy? What gives me that feeling of satisfaction? What gets me excited?

Well. Guess what? I have absolutely NO IDEA. And that is where I find myself today. Completely unsure about who I am and what I want to do with myself. YIKES! This is not an easy place for a Capricorn/Type A personality such as myself to be. But, be that as it may, it is where I am at, right now. In other words, I'm a little lost...

I do know that I like to write, knit, read, ride horses and be with my family. I also love to decorate and create things. I like to shop and give things to people. I like to be organized. When it comes to figuring out what really give me a sense of purpose and fulfillment, though, I haven't got a clue.

Sometimes I think about what I would do for a career if I had a choice. What do I wish I was? When I was a kid, I wanted to be a school teacher. I can remember pretending to be a teacher and making (yes, I've always been bossy) my brother be my student. When he wouldn't be my student, I would improvise with pretend students that I actually talked to and assisted and taught. There is a reason I didn't become a teacher, though - it is one of those gifts I don't have. I have come to realize, through my own children, what a gift teaching truly is. And believe me when I say I don't have what it takes to be a teacher - mainly, patience and understanding.

When I went off to college many moons ago (only a few moons if you talk to my little B's, though, because they don't know my "real" age, remember), I thought I would become an advertising executive and live in Seattle making commercials. Now that is a laugh! Can you imagine me in the big city? I live on five acres and feel like I am in town, as it is. A city girl I am not! I have a little city in me, but not so much that I could live in a big place like Seattle and be comfortable day in and day out.

Frankly, I think kids are too young to have to decide what they are going to "be" when they graduate from high school and go to college. How can anyone know at that young age? I certainly didn't. I did get my degree, though, and for that I'm thankful, although my degree is a bit of an irony all in itself, because guess what it is? A B.S. in Communications Management.

REALLY?! I have more trouble communicating than most people I know, and if there is one thing that freaks me out more than anything else in the world, it is talking in front of people. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! All those presentations and speeches in college made me more insecure than anything else. This is what happens to me when I am put into a situation where the focus is on me - I hyperventilate, my heart races, my ears ring and my whole body becomes very hot. Scary stuff! I remember last year during one of Brailey's First Communion classes, us parents were standing in a circle, saying a prayer together with each one of us lighting a candle, one by one. I was the last one to go, and let me tell you - I was not praying! I was panicking the entire time. I made it through the candle lighting, of course, but not without dreadful anticipation of... What? I don't even know what I was so nervous about.

The point being, my passion in life, whatever it may be, certainly has nothing to do with my college degree. So what is it? Besides my children and family, I mean. For the longest time, my little B's have been my world, but as they get more independent and grow, I am realizing how important it is for me to find something for myself. If only I knew how to go about finding it...

Does anyone else have this problem? Does anyone know how to go about finding the secret to being me? That's what I'm after, you know, when it comes right down to it. I'm searching for the secret that makes me happy to be me. Deep stuff... Why is it so hard to find?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Fun at the Eugene PBR!

Two of my favorite people in the world, my mom and my daughter. The two "besties," as they call each other, all dressed up and ready for fun at the PBR...

And more of my favorite people in the world, walking down the hall at the brand spanking new Matthew Knight Arena!

My little B's with my parents, in front of the bulls. Right after this picture, my dad just couldn't help himself - he had to pat one of the bulls on the back, which made the bull stomp and throw his head. Only my dad would be brave enough to do this!

Brittster Man sitting on Papa's lap before the "main event," watching the big screen up above.

This is what it looked like from up top. We were able to walk around and check out the new facility before the show started, and it is amazing! Truly, this building is something special. And the arena they created was the absolute perfect size! See all the bulls?

The awesome PBR judge... Brady Murray!

The Duck made an appearance! He gave the clown, our friend JJ Harrison, a football jersey. Even though JJ is a Washington Cougar, he put the Duck jersey on for the remainder of the show. He's a good sport, and he was so hilarious - he did a great job entertaining the crowd.

Britt and Brady in deep conversation during the intermission. They are so cute to watch... There's just nothing like that father/son bond, is there?

My sweet little photographer, Shaye-Shaye. She looked so pretty! And she and Britt both got put on the "big screen" for their "dancing." Brailey got to be on there three times! Brady and the little B's were also interviewed after the show for the news, so once I find the clip, I'll post it for all to see. They did such a good job! It was an amazing night and we all had a fabulous time.

Here are our friends, Robert and Stacy Jo Hartley, enjoying the show with us. This was their first PBR, and now Stacy is ready to buy a bull! The 4 B's LOVE the Hartleys, so it was super fun for them to be there. It was wonderful for my parents to be there, as well, and nobody had more fun than my dad. He got to check out the entire building, and was even taken on a personal tour, which is right up his alley. He was like a little kid in a candy store! We all had a good time, and it was a special day that we won't soon forget. And now, we're all looking forward to next year's show!

April - Here and Gone in the Blink of an Eye

It seems crazy to think Easter Sunday was on April Fool's Day this year, but it totally was. We started our Easter at mass with our fa...