Thursday, June 30, 2011

Before the Foot Injury

 My B's just love to play together. Here, they are playing with Brailey's Littlest Pet Shop toys.

And in this shot, they have moved on to Britt's pirates.

And this is in the doctor's office, waiting. And waiting. And waiting. Britt has been so supportive of Brailey with her cast and crutches. He helps her put the bottoms of the crutches on and off in the house, gets her this and that, plays with her where she can play... She couldn't ask for a better brother, that's for sure. And the ironic part of it all is that Brailey is the nurturing soul - she loves to take care of people when they are hurt or sick, and I often think she might one day become a nurse. She's getting around really well on her crutches - she's going to have some awesome arm muscles! They are attending Vacation Bible School this week and loving every second of it - more about that later. Stay tuned - more summer fun updates are headed your way!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summer 2011, Chapter Two

Well. What can we say? We are, of course, loving every second of summer. But we are also learning how to roll with the punches life throws our way, the latest being our precious Princess B...

She went from this... Her first volleyball camp at Northwest Christian University, where she had the best time ever and learned how to serve overhand and lots of other important skills and also got to bond with two of her teammates from her volleyball team last fall.
To this...
To this.
Freshly signed cast by yours truly - I was thrilled she picked my favorite color, purple, for her cast.
So yah, we are a little blue... On Friday, exactly one week after Rosin was attacked and one day after her volleyball camp, Brailey was happily running and skipping along in her high healed flip flops (even though the rule is not to run in flip flops) when she slipped and fell on our patio and here we are. We're starting to feel a little wary of Friday evenings... She ripped a bunch of ligaments in her ankle and cannot bear to take even the slightest bit of weight on her foot. And it will actually probably take longer to heal than a broken bone would have. So no swim lessons for Shaye-Shaye, which start next week, and no barrel racing, either. And not much of anything, frankly, at least for the next few weeks. HOWEVER, we are grateful it wasn't worse, we are grateful we found brand new crutches at Goodwill for only $9.98 instead of $35.00 for a new pair or renting them for $25.00, and we are grateful it happened after her volleyball camp and not before. Is it sad? Yes. Is it depressing? A little.

But then I think about our 16 year old friend from Harney County who recently wrecked her brand new pickup, thereby breaking both arms and every rib in her body, puncturing a lung and suffering brain damage - she is still in the hospital in an induced coma, and they aren't even able to get all the glass and gravel out of one of her arms, just yet, because she is too fragile at present. And even more overwhelming is the fact that her mother was the First Responder to her wreck, along with a lifetime family friend, and I can't even imagine the trauma they must be living with. Her pickup flipped end over end, not side over side... Can you imagine? The point being, they are in the midst of one of the worst tragedies of their life, and in desperate need of prayers if you have some to spare.

So a little casted leg is certainly disappointing, but in the grand scheme of things? It's nothing. But it is a good reminder for how quickly things can change - literally, in one heartbeat. So onward we go with our summer, casted leg and all, and fun will be had, one way or another.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Our Little Rozzy-Girl Attacked

Last Friday, our precious little pug, Rosin, was minding her own business, laying on the lawn down by the swing set, watching the little B's and our friend Steve. I was making my way up to the shop when out of nowhere our neighbor's vicious blue heeler dog came down the road with her owner, who exercises the dog by letting her run alongside him on his motorcycle, and attacked Rosin. This has happened before, but never to Rosin. Our basset hound, Daphne, is much bigger, but the blue heeler has gotten her, as well, and she is terrified every time she sees the dog running by our place. I raced back down the hill as fast as I could, where my little B's were screaming and yelling at the blue heeler to leave Rosin alone, and I was as scared for my babies as I was for my pug - I was afraid the dog would turn on them. But she finally released Rosin and ran back to her owner, who is actually a very nice man and a great neighbor, other than this stupid, mean dog he has, and I scooped Rozzy-Girl up to assess the damage. Her stomach was ripped wide open. I showed her to Steve and said, "She needs stitches." He looked at it and said, "Yep!" Long story short, our vet was on her way home, and we flagged her down on the road, since she lives by us, and she came right to our house and took care of Rozzy. It took nine staples to close the gash, and we were extremely lucky, because had the bite even been one tiny skin layer deeper, Rosin would have bled to death. So thank goodness it wasn't any deeper! Anyway, the pictures above are from the next morning when Rosin woke up from her sedation. She was comforting the B's and letting them know she was okay - she carefully wiggled herself around them and even gave Britt a kiss (which hurt Brailey's feelings, because she didn't get one...). She was super sore for the first couple of days, but has really healed quickly and hasn't bothered her staples at all. She is a model patient! As I was holding her, waiting for the vet to come with her staple gun, Britt said, "Rosin always stays next to us when we don't feel good, so that's what I'm going to do - stay right next to her." Brailey cried a little, because it was very traumatic, but the good news is that my kids weren't bitten by that little bitch heeler, and Rosin is okay.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bluebell Syndrome Explained

So if you read the lyrics in the previous post, your curiosity may be piqued (I hope) as to what I found so endearing about it. Not that I find myself to be such an interesting person that you just can't wait to read about, but the story of me IS kind of wild, and I actually DO have a lot in common with a bluebell flower... And maybe even YOU will be able to relate to it after you read about my experience.

The first thing to know is that I have had plantar fasciitis in my right heel for the past five years. I used to have it in both feet, but my left one heeled (pun intended!), and so I've just been dealing with my right one. But, unfortunately, back in January I pulled the achilles tendon in my left foot. So that has been plaguing me for the past few months, also. Two sore feet!

Anyway, stay with me me - you might be confused at this point, but it will all make sense in the end.

Another thing happened back in January. I was in a situation where I had to share some personal, personal, PERSONAL things in front of a LOT of people. It was possibly one of the hardest experiences of my life. It lasted for two days, and on the second day, I was given feedback, which was really nice, but a little shocking for me, too, because the counselor who was running my group said the same thing my mother has been telling me for years...

She said I need to come out of my shell a little more and to let the real me shine through. She said I protect myself from people more than I need to, and I should let my emotions, which I hold on to with the tightest of reins, have a little freedom. And that if I did this, it would actually make me stronger. My mother has known this about me for years - I have no idea how this counselor could see it in such a short period of time. I will admit there are only a handful of people who see the "real" me. It isn't something I do on purpose, but it IS something I do. I think it comes from being so sensitive, which is a curse I wish on no one, and from the fear I have in my heart that I will be hurt. Or that I might make a mistake. I'm constantly analyzing what I say to people in everyday conversations, and I usually feel like I say the wrong thing. I'm a big open book for the most part, but since we're being honest, I do hide the real me.

Anyway, a couple of months went by, and I was hanging out with one of my dearest friends, and she let it slip that she is a bit of a "healer." Meaning she can help aches and pains go away. And so I thought of my own aching feet, and I asked her if she could fix my achilles. I didn't even really care about the foot with the plantar fasciitis, because by this point, I've learned to live with that pain. But the achilles? It was pretty killer.

So now the meshing of the two concepts in this story...

My friend said "yes!" She could certainly heal my heels! And so she very generously came to my house one evening and worked on me for over an hour, finding all my pressure points and releasing the toxins. I could FEEL the toxins leaving my pressure points and radiating out through my body. And very early into her process, she said, "You're hiding behind your head. You're living back here." By "here" she meant the base of my skull. Once again, the hiding concept... And she also said my foot pain was coming from my shoulders, believe it or not. She told me my posture was too hunched and I needed to come out from behind my head and to stop using that part of my brain, which is the emotional part, and to use the front part, which is the thinking part.

So along goes time, and some strange things started happening. One, I started working really hard at having good posture. Two, I started trying really hard to use the front part of my brain. And three, my emotions started to creep out of their shell, all on their own... All of a sudden, I started feeling on the verge of tears over the strangest things. Me! Who never cries unless it is serious, serious pain - emotional or physical. Four, my feet stopped hurting. And today, my plantar is nearly gone, and my achilles is much, much better. And I'm trying really hard to use ALL the parts of my brain, emotional and thinking alike.

My wonderful friend "worked on me" a couple of weeks ago on a whim, because we all happened to be sitting down and visiting, and she said I'm better! I still have more work to do, and if you've read this blog at all in the past, then you know I'm a work in progress, but the good news is that I have made progress! And I'm thrilled. My posture is much improved, I'm not hiding behind my neck as much as I was, and my feet keep improving, as well.

So when I heard that Virginia Bluebell song by Miranda Lambert, it reminded me of myself and the journey I've been on this year. I hang out on the end of the limb, too. That's where I've been for most of my life, quite frankly. I'm trying to refocus myself and to "look up," and to not hide behind my head and to give myself a little emotional freedom. In other words, letting go of the control I cherish so deeply. I'm letting my emotions come through, even though it is hard for me to do. It's all a process, of course, but I'm thrilled to learn new things, and I truly believe there are no coincidences in this world, so for better or worse (although I can only think better, at this point), I'm going to take it all and run with it into the future, head held high.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bluebell Syndrome

Read the lyrics to this song and you'll know what I've been doing my whole life.

This is a Miranda Lambert song, called Virginia Bluebell. The first time I heard it, the words resonated within my heart - it rings true to my soul (no pun intended). I'll explain why I relate with this song in my next post...

Virginia Bluebell
Carrying the weight on the end of a limb,
you're just waitin for somebody to pick you up again.
Shaded by a tree, can't live up to a rose.
All you ever wanted was a silent place to grow.

Pretty little thing, sometimes you gotta look up and let the world see all the beauty that your made of.
Cause the way you hang you head nobody can tell.
You're my Virginia bluebell, my Viginia bluebell.

Even through the snow, a flower can bloom.
You just need a little push.
Spring is coming soon.
Umbrella in the rain, they'll roll off your back.
Better watcha can realize what you have.

Pretty little thing, sometimes you gotta look up and let the world see all the beauty that your made of.

Cause the way you hang your head nobody can tell.
You're my Virginia bluebell, my Viginia bluebell.

Put a little light in the darkest places.
Put a little smile on the saddest faces.
Pretty little thing, sometimes you gotta look up and let the world see all the beauty that your made of.
Cause the way you hang your head nobody can tell.
You're my Virginia bluebell, my Viginia bluebell.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Our Baby Alvin

Last year, a little earlier in the spring than now, our good head horse, Alvin, came up lame. We took him to our vet after a couple of weeks of seeing no improvement in his condition, and the diagnosis was nearly devastating - a broken coffin bone. The only good news about this diagnosis is the fact it was a hind leg, not a front one. A horse carries over 70% of their body weight on their front legs, so it is almost impossible for them to overcome a broken coffin bone one one of the front legs. The back, however, is far more likely to heal. So all last summer, after being cooped up in his stall and turnout for the winter months, Alvin was confined even longer. While all the other horses were turned out, he was contained, and it was hard on him. Right before Christmas, we took him back to the vet for more x-rays and to see how he was doing. When we loaded him up, he was perfect, walking without any limp at all. When we got him to the vet, however, much to our panic, he was lame. Although we didn't know it at the time, he had rebroken his foot in the trailer. Newly healed coffin bones are very fragile, and we had a lot of other things going on at this time, and we simply forgot about giving Alvin something to keep him calm after being confined for so long. So more limping along, although not as bad as before, for the next several months. He is finally starting to do better, although he still steps short, and it is going to be another year of recovery time for him. The interesting thing about the entire situation is how much his personality has changed over the course of his recovery. He used to be very hyper and a little on the wild side. Now? He is a puppy dog. He loves to be loved on and has taken to licking my face. He is the sweetest boy ever, and much calmer. He will stand tied to the fence like a true gentleman, now, and not prance and dance around. Brady and I decided to turn him out a couple of weeks ago, after having him in his small paddock for over a year and a half, and it almost made me cry to see him out in the pasture, happy as a lark. He is in heaven! So I took a few pictures of him and Brailey's horse Tex one day when I was feeling creative with my camera. Alvin is such an amazing horse, one of the best head horses in the country (if you're unfamiliar with roping, this is the horse you rope the head of the steer on), and we are praying he makes a full recovery. Check out the pictures - isn't he a doll? He's the one with the white face...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Silver Bullet Goes to the Shop

Remember I said there were a couple of "blows" we 4 B's suffered last week? Well, one of those was our beloved pickup, Silver Bullet, breaking down. So I thought you might get a kick out of these pictures... Good old Robert Hartley gave Brady a tow to the diesel mechanic. I had to laugh when I saw the older pickup pulling the newer one. And all's well that ends well, because our pickup is already fixed and didn't cost the fortune we feared it would, so we're thanking our heavenly Father for that blessing.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Summer 2011, Chapter One

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh... Here it is. The time I have been waiting for since September. The last week of school! I am so excited to have my babies home with me for a couple of precious months. I think it is going to be the best summer EVER! I still don't understand moms who dread the summer months or the lack of schedules or the chaos of the school year activities. I have been pretending summer started Memorial Day weekend to extend the season out in my mind... And now it is here for real!

And to make things more interesting, we suffered a couple of "blows" to our life last week,  one being that Brady is sort of  "laid off," as they say... There just isn't any work to be had out there in the construction business. Hopefully he will be able to work at least a couple of days a week, but at this point we really don't know. So this news threw me for a loop. But only for one afternoon! Then, all of a sudden, I had an epiphany - I was out walking and I saw Brady on his quad with my B's on their bikes riding towards me, and I realized Brady's being home will actually be a great thing. The timing is perfect! We will have Brady home with us during summer!

AND, even more, we have been getting some projects done around the place! That is an added bonus to the situation. So for once, I used my mind for some positive thinking, and now I'm actually happy that Brady is "laid off" and we are both looking forward to a special summer with our kiddos. What can we say? HELLO SUMMER - we're ready for ya!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Birthdays Past

If you find yourself wondering why birthdays are such a big deal around here, allow me to tell you...

First of all, we don't have big birthday parties, anymore. We used to, but now we keep the party to our own little 4 B family - we go out to dinner as a family and have cake at home. I think birthdays are a big deal to me, personally, because of how my birthdays have been celebrated in the past. My parents and grandparents always made me feel special, of course, but my childhood friends never did, and now I actually have a complex about my birthday, believe it or not. Which is one of the reasons I was so blown away by what my friends did for me on my birthday this year (see post Birthday Fit For A Queen, B That Is).

I remember once I had a birthday party when I was in the third grade. I was SO EXCITED, because it was a sleepover. But once all my friends got to my house after school, which was located on a cattle ranch out in the sticks, things didn't go the way I thought they would. One of my older friends, who was actually a cousin of mine, completely "took over." She told everyone what to do the entire time, and I felt left out and betrayed. I even got in trouble at one point because I was so upset that she sat in the chair I wanted to sit in at the birthday table. I got in trouble because my parents expected more out of me, much like I would expect more out of my own children today. Even though I knew my parents were disappointed in me, I couldn't figure out why they didn't see what I saw. Needless to say, I never had a birthday party like that again. And to this day, memories and feelings from that party haunt me, because when I think about it, what kid wouldn't have wanted to be the "special" one on their birthday? It isn't like I was a spoiled brat, even though I understand why my parents were so disappointed in me. But on the other hand, I will never forget how jilted and sad and betrayed I felt during that entire experience. And to be honest, I think my mom would have handled it differently, today.

Fast forward to high school, my junior year. We had a basketball game in town. I went all day long without anyone saying "happy birthday," and I remember thinking they were probably saving it for something special at the basketball game - I thought they would sing to me in the locker room or something, making it a big surprise. After all, that is what the norm was for the other girls. But... Nothing. I didn't even get to play in the game, as a matter of fact. My parents and grandparents were the only ones who even acknowledged my birthday that year. I was devastated, and even though I certainly had some issues, just like every other girl in high school, I don't think I deserved to be ignored on my 17th birthday.

Writing this now, I can imagine people will think I must have been quite the bitch, or people wouldn't have treated me that way. And I admit I was a bit of a hag. I was also insecure, scared to be the real me, and desperate to have people like me and accept me, just like every other teenager in the world. I don't think I deserve all the blame, in other words. Sometimes people, and especially girls, are just mean, plain and simple.

So my birthday is not something I look forward to, ever, because I have all these bad memories that come swimming back to me. Were it not for my kids, I would ignore the day entirely. When I say I have a birthday complex, I'm not kidding. Even though I have loving family and friends in my life today, scars from the past are still heavy on my heart, and I have to work at not making my birthdays bad by recalling the pain and fear from birthdays past. And I know this makes me sound like a spoiled rotten brat. I can admit I wasn't perfect then, and I'm certainly not perfect today. I've done a lot of growing and changing over the years (praise the Lord!), and I've wished many times I could have been a different person growing up. All I really wanted was for my birthday to be as special as everyone else's birthdays felt to me. Irregardless of me and my issues, though, the point is that my birthdays have caused some bad feelings, and that pain is buried deep in my heart and still lurks there today.

So yes, birthdays are a big deal around here. And they always will be. What a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the existence of God's miracles in human form. I do find myself being overly sensitive to the way others treat my children's birthdays. In the early years of their lives, when someone I considered important to our family would ignore their special day, it hurt me far more than it hurt my babies. I pray my precious B's never feel the sting of neglect on their birthdays. Of course you know I will do everything in my power to keep that from happening. But I've also learned that I have no control over other people, so really, all I can do is shower my B's with my own love, and let the rest of the world do as it will. And frankly? Thank God my kids don't live in a community like the one I grew up in. Thank God for the miracle of wonderful people in their lives. And thank God for birthdays to celebrate!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Full Birthday Story

I felt Brailey's birthday deserved some further exploration and detailed description. The way Brailey was treated on her birthday just goes to show how very special she is, not only to me, but to other people as well, and since this blog is a dedication to my children, why not document it, right? Besides, I think you'll find the details quite entertaining!
See that happy face? I had a clearer picture I could have posted, but the flash didn't capture the glow of her pride like this shot did... She is holding the famous cake balls/pops that were actually her favorite birthday gift! The lady who made these, Renee, is truly amazing - I wrote about her in my Amazing Allies post. She brought these to Brailey after school on Friday, along with a gift from her boys, Nick and Ryan, who are two of Brailey and Britt's best friends. My parents came over for the weekend, and they were barely able to get out of their car before Brailey was showing them these adorable, Barbie pink cake pops. Brailey told Papa he could "look at them, but don't eat them until after dinner!" So of course my dad had to tease her and reach his arms around to pretend he was going to steal one... We also had a couple of Brady's friends down for the evening, and so Brailey was very excited to share her special treats with everyone. She carefully distributed them out, and we could pick whatever one we wanted, as long as it didn't have a heart on it. Papa was the last person to be served, and he said, "Which one do YOU want, Brailey Shaye?" And so she picked hers out, and then he teased her some more and said, "Okay! I'll just have all of these, then." He pretended to take the entire box, which got a ton of giggles and a big raise. And the present from Nick and Ryan was so cool - it was wrapped in Barbie pink paper with a gorgeous pink zebra ribbon that Brailey admired on the birthday table all weekend long, until first thing Monday morning, when she opened it. "It" was a News Anchor Barbie! This is so awesome, because number one, Renee IS a news anchor, and the best one in town, too. Number two, Brailey's class went to the news station where Renee works and watched her give a live broadcast about three weeks ago. They toured the building and were even on the end of the show! It was super cool. Number three, Brailey's class has been giving daily news reports every morning, microphone in hand and all. So you can see why the News Anchor Barbie was so precious to Brailey... It was a special, generous gift, and it made Brailey very happy.
The beautiful cake balls/pops, in Barbie pink! Aren't they gorgeous?! They are delicious, too - trust me, I know... !

Enjoying her first cake pop. Mmmmmmmm!

Here is the special "present table," where all her gifts collected themselves, causing anticipation and enjoyment right up until the time they were opened.

Brady made a special point to wait to see the new Cabela's in town until he could take my dad. So on Sunday morning, after Brailey opened her gifts from Gramma and Papa, Brady took Papa and Britt to town to see the famous store, and they found these cool Cabela's hats.

Instead of having us buy her presents, this year, Brailey wanted to go shopping. And she took her time and made some wise choices and good decisions on what she got, and she is still thrilled with everything she was able to buy. We gave her a limit, of course, and she really weighed her options to get the most bang for her buck. And lucky for her, Gramma Diggy had sent her money, too, so she was able to use that money, also.

I always let my kids get something small when it is the other kid's birthday. Britt got the new Pirates of the Caribbean On Stranger Tides action figures, of course, that he has been dying to get. He hasn't stopped playing with them since he opened the package...!

Brailey and friends at her class party.

See that sweet face? She got to sit in the special teacher chair while every kid in the class paid Brailey a compliment. It made me tear up! What a neat thing for kids to learn how to do, though - they're leaning a life skill, and they don't even know it. My friend Sandi is their teacher, and you can read more about her in my Amazing Allies post, also. She has been such a blessing to have in the classroom as a fill-in for Brailey's original teacher, who had her baby and is home.

And here the lovely fill-in teacher is! Sandi and Brailey Shaye. Two pretty girls in polka dots!

And here we have our beloved Lambert girls, Kimmy and JJ, who Brailey loves more than anyone in the world. They brought her the gorgeous flowers you saw in the other birthday post and Jaden picked out this adorable swimsuit, which Brailey LOVES! Jaden knew she would love it - they are so in tune with each other... Jaden also made her a beautiful card with a horse in it. Brailey was so excited to see them because Kimmy had told her they had something to give her for her birthday, and she knows how special the Lamberts always make her feel. Even Brian and Griffin wrote sweet words on her card, and she was so happy about that simple detail. See? It's the little things that count...

The perfect birthday kiss from the perfect little brother.  He was so sweet to Brailey on her birthday! A girl in his class had a birthday celebration on the same day, and she brought delicious donuts for everyone, and even though Britt, who has a bigger sweet tooth than his mother, "really-really wanted to eat the whole donut," he only ate half of it and saved the other half for Brailey, which he brought to her during her class celebration. Fortunately, he was able to come and enjoy treats with us, since their classrooms are right across the hall from one another. I was so proud of him for the donut gift, because he did it all on his own, without anyone telling him to do it. Talk about sweet!

The blowing out of NINE (ahhhh!) candles...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Competition Expedition

One time I read an article in Oprah Magazine that said what we don't like in other people is something we are probably doing ourselves. For example, if you dislike someone because you think they are a know-it-all? Then you are likely a know-it-all yourself. Interesting line of thought, isn't it? That article really made an impact on me, and whenever I find myself feeling defensive, I try to call this concept to the front of my mind.

So lately, and really for the past year or so, I've been noticing a lot of competitive vibes in the world. In response to these feelings, I have been looking back to my own self, wondering if it is me who competes with the people who I feel compete with me... Do you know what I'm talking about?

But more than that, this line of thought has caused me to think about competition in general, which I think, frankly, is a bit of an epidemic. Allow me to share my observations with you...

Have you noticed how competitive parents are? Parents almost always want their kid(s) to be the "best." And if not the "best," then the "favorite," or the "star," or the "smartest" or the "most athletic" or whatever the case may be. Imagine the pressure we, as parents, are putting onto our kids, sometimes without even knowing it. It is hard not to feel competitive in this world, though, because society puts the pressure squarely on our shoulders before we even realize they are putting it there, and the next thing you know, you find yourself worrying about things that you normally might not even care about. And even when you guard against it, and try with all your might not to let the pressure get to you, you will still find yourself smack in the middle of a competitive pressure cooker.

Allow me to give you an example... Last fall was Britt's first year in Pop Warner Football, and he was the biggest kid on the team. He was also the nicest kid on the team, and he didn't want to hurt anyone or get hurt, which in turn meant he didn't want to tackle or "hit" anyone. I worked all season with him, practicing "getting low" and trying to get him to be aggressive, just like everyone at his football practice wanted him to do and be. Finally, near the end of the season, I just let it all go and stopped worrying about what other people thought and stopped encouraging Britt to make some tackles. And guess what happened? As soon as I took that pressure off my own shoulders, it in turn fell right off Britt's shoulder pads, and he started tackling.

I have felt competition from people over so many things - my weight, my house, my kids, my running, my decorating, my yard, my car, my hair, my clothes - all the things everyone feels competitive about, especially if you are a woman. So I have been working extra hard to NOT compete with people, because I think I am just as competitive as the next person. I try really hard not to compete with people and to compliment other people, and I do get my feelings hurt when I don't get it in turn, but I have to get really "real," here, and admit that I am truly just as competitive as the next person, and maybe even a bit more, if I'm being totally honest (which I am trying to be). I don't like this aspect of myself, and it is one of those personal issues I'm working on. My goal is to just worry about my own life and not get wrapped up in being "better" or "the best," or anything other than just me. I think it will take practice...

I grew up in the most competitive environment known to mankind, though, so it is ingrained in me. It won't be an easy obstacle for me to overcome. Even though I had the best childhood a child could possibly have, I grew up in a place that judges you before you are even five years old, and if you did something "wrong" (in their eyes only, mind you) as a three year old, they will remember it for the rest of your life and never let it go. Truly, it doesn't matter if you were a child or not - once the opinion is formed, that's it. So imagine growing up in a community like that, a place where people are judged to the harshest degree on their weight, their grades, their athletic ability, their clothes, their vehicle, the house they live in, the family they come from... Talk about pressure! And even though I don't feel competition to that extreme today, I still see it in the world as a whole. Look at the state of our national education - we're in a dither because we don't test as high as other countries. Good grief! Does it really matter?

So I'm grateful for the opportunity to tone my competitive nature down. This means being less sensitive in some ways, and more sensitive in others. It means a lot of things, but I don't want my beautiful little B's to grow up with that horrendous pressure. As long as they are doing their best, then I'm going to be satisfied, even if it takes me the rest of my life to get there. Because really, what does it matter in the grand scheme of things who is "better" or "the best?" I don't think Jesus cares who is "winning" nearly as much as we do...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My Darling Shaye-Shaye's Birthday

Nine years ago, my sweet, precious baby girl was born. I still can't believe it has been nearly an entire decade! But I will never forget the day she was born... She has been a miracle since the moment she was conceived, and I know she will always be a special person her whole life through. She is an angel on earth, and most of the time I don't even feel worthy to be her mother - she is a blessing in every way!  When she was a toddler, she told me that she picked her dad and I to be her parents when she was up in heaven. This blew me away and gave me chills when she said it. I am more lucky than words can describe to be her mom, and I love her dearly. Here are some fun pictures from her birthday!

Before school - isn't she lovely? She looked absolutely darling!

I brought cream puffs to her class at the end of the day, and they all gathered around her and each student said what they enjoyed about Brailey - this is the sweet look on her face as she is listening to the compliments.

With her "groovy girl" ice cream mint oreo blizzard cake from Dairy Queen and her beautiful flowers from the Lamberts.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Lawn Is Born

For three years, we have been wanting to get the lawn around our house in. While this might seem a bit ridiculous or paint us as lazy to some people, if you've ever been to our place, then you know there is "more to the story..." For one thing, Brady and I aren't the kind of people to let things go. We get things done, so it has been completely unlike us and frankly very difficult to not be able to get our lawn in. Would you like to know the rest of the story? Good, because you know I'm going to tell you.

Over the course of building our house, Brady and I learned some invaluable lessons, the most important one being to never, ever, under any circumstances, hire your friends to do work for you, and even more important than that, never, ever, EVER pay someone, friend or not, until the job is D-O-N-E. And when I say done, I mean completely finished. All the way. To the end.

Can you see where this is going?

Yes, we naively hired one of our "friends" who was going through a dry spell in his construction business to do the excavation work for our house. He started out great guns and set our expectations high, promising us the ground around the house would be "lawn ready" when he was done, including the placement of dirt onto the rocks. That is what we paid him for. Silly us... Shortly after he finished the first portion of his work, which to be fair, was really excellent work, things started going downhill. And fast! Once we paid him the first big chunk of change, he stopped showing up, and when he did show up, it was late at night and he would do his work in the dark with a little headlight - you can imagine the quality of work this produced. He started drinking heavily and doing a few drugs (we know, because he told us about them), and lying to his wife, telling her he was here working when he wasn't, which in turn caused her to think he was doing more than his fair share of work for us. He would leave his excavator here for days at a time... The coup de grace for me was when he came to the hospital while Brady was just out of ICU but still very sick and collected even more money from us, for which he promised to finish his work, but as you can tell from the direction of the story, he did not.

This resulted in me digging through rocks to install our drain pipe for the gutters, which our "friend" had installed incorrectly, on my hands and knees, because the rocks were too heavy for me to move with a shovel. I did this frantically, trying to prevent Brady, who was fresh out the hospital, from overdoing it. It mattered not to our "friend" that Brady had narrowly escaped death, beating the odds of survival. It resulted in a war of words between the "friend" and I over the horrible job he had done not only on the drain pipe, but on the side of the yard, where he destroyed our fence by placing huge amounts of rock through the fence. And it resulted in a yard that was nowhere near "lawn ready."

You may have noticed the word "rock" in this story several times. And you may have been wondering why it was such a big deal. Well. Allow me to explain... We built our home where our double-wide trailer had sat, and unbeknownst to us, there was a whole lot of 3" rock underneath, which had to be dug out and moved. Thus, there was exactly ZIP dirt for us to plant our lawn in. But there was a few thousand tons of messy rocks. Not gravel, but rock. Thank goodness for a buddy of ours who brought his excavator over and moved things around for us - granted, he did knick our brand new siding in several places... But he moved the rock for free, and Brady was able to patch our siding up nicely. With the crash in the construction business (which meant there was no free fill dirt anywhere to be found) and the high price of mere dirt, though, the sad fact of the matter is that we were unable to get our lawn in for the past three years.

Until now! And although we had to practically break our backs to get it done, our lawn is in! Hopefully our house won't be such an oven this summer - those rocks soaked up the sun and held the heat all night long. And our little B's will be able to run their precious toes through the summer grass. We are excited! Our lawn is born...! And all those bad feelings and resentments that seemed to find their way into our minds every time we looked at our yard of rocks have been buried, quite literally, under beautiful new dirt and grass.

But remember - never, ever, EVER hire a friend, and never, ever, ever, EVER pay someone before a job is completely done, friend or no friend.

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...