Thursday, July 28, 2011

Creature of Habit

Change is so hard! For some reason, I have been noticing lately how difficult it is to change even the smallest thing. It is so easy to get sucked into a routine, and so hard to change it, and before I know it, even THAT is hard to change... Weird, isn't it? Have you ever noticed this before? You've heard the term "creatures of habit," and I have come to believe that I truly am a creature of habit.

And I'm not talking about big things, here. It is the little stuff that will get me every time... Like working in the yard. I have always planted all our plants by myself. However, Brady helped me plant a few things a couple of times this summer. So the last time I bought some plants, I felt like I needed to wait for him to help me. Which is SO WEIRD, because I am more than capable of planting things myself. I just enjoyed it so much with Brady, I wanted to wait. I made myself plant the plants all on my own, because I knew Brady couldn't help me this time, but it was a tad bit painful. I missed my man!

Even watering the lawn and flowers is habitual, for me. If I do it in the evenings, then that is when I think I should do it. So when I NEED to do the watering in the mornings, it is a little more difficult for me mentally.

The way I read my books... I like to read books according to authors. So when I discovered Jodi Picoult, I read every one of her books. I couldn't read anything else! I read all the Harry Potter's in a row, all the Twilights in a row. And now I'm doing the same thing with a new author, Elin Hilderbrand. I don't want to read anything else until I've finished all of her books. See what I mean? Habit.

The kids and I used to listen to Elvis Duran and the Morning Show in the car. We LOVE that show! But our local radio station took them off, so now we don't have them in Eugene. And that has been a big adjustment for me and my B's. We miss Elvis and his crew! It feels funny to get in the car and not have their voices talking to us. They are a habit we were forced to break, and it doesn't feel good at all.

Everything I do seems to be a habit, for me. From the way I make the coffee to the way I get on the computer in the mornings. I wonder if I'm a little bit Asperger's? I read a book once (by my favorite author, Jodi Picoult, of course!) about autism and Asperger's Syndrome, and in it one of the characters says we all have a little bit of Asperger's in us. I wonder if this is true? When I was a kid, my teachers thought I was ADD and asked my mother to put me on medication so I could concentrate. She didn't. Thank GOODNESS she didn't. She knew I was okay, even if I did have trouble focusing in my early years of school, and I graduated number three in my class, so what can we say? I don't know if I'm a little bit Asperger's or if I'm just habitual.

Whatever the case is for me, I don't think I'm alone. Think of all the habits people have! From getting a cup of coffee in the morning to grabbing a fizz (soda pop) in the afternoon to getting the mail to cooking dinner to smoking a cigarette... Maybe this is why it is so easy for people with alcoholism or drug addiction to become trapped in their disease - because we are already predisposed to being creatures of habit. Add in the devil's poison, and if you're one of the unlucky percentiles of people with the disease of addiction, there you are - sunk.

So the point being, in a world where nothing ever stays the same and change is constant, isn't it ironic that we all crave our little habits? What about you? Are you a creature of habit?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Summer 2011, Chapter Three

We had a great weekend in Sublimity, Oregon! It was our first time there, and it was a nice and easy rodeo for Brady to judge, which gave us a little extra time to relax and have some fun. Right off the bat, we got to see our favorite motorcycle jumpers, from Metal Mulisha, practicing their stunts before the rodeo. It was so cool! It takes my breath away (and I mean this literally!) when they do their 360's and some other tricks I don't even know the names of. So long story short, we got to see their stunts twice in one day! Justin Homan is an X Games gold medal winner and one of the founders of this type of freestyle jumping, and we love to watch him every opportunity we get. And this time, we were even luckier, because we got to MEET him! He and his partner signed our poster and...

posed for a picture withe my B's! Britt was so thrilled to have the poster autographed, and he's been begging me ever since to put it up in HIS ROOM. Justin was a super nice guy to talk to, and we were thrilled to meet him and ask him questions and then watch him do his thing, three times in one weekend for the lucky 4 B's!
And THEN, Britt climbed this big rock wall for the first time. He loved it! Thankfully, Brady went up it, too, because when Britt got near the top, he got a bit scared. He looked down and saw how far up he was and freaked himself out. But Brady coaxed him into going all the way to the top, and then Britt was fine, and even did it again! He talked about this rock wall for a good portion of the night. It was actually Brady's first time doing it, also, so it was a neat experience for father and son. They high-fived at the top their second trip up - cool picture, huh? How about that clear blue sky?

And here's our poor Brailey Shaye, watching the action but unable to participate. She gets a little sad, sometimes, but has been really mature in accepting the limitations of her condition. Being able to partake in swim lessons has been a real blessing and has perked her spirits up. Only a few more weeks, and then she should be home free. Then the trick will be to not reinjure it... In the meantime, she's a trooper. And the sweetest one in the world at that!

One of the other activities we had time for while we were in Sublimity was yard sale shopping, and we had a BIG TIME doing this. We found some awesome things for some great prices, MUCH better priced than my new enemies, Goodwill and St. Vinny's. We went to so many sales we nearly wore ourselves out! It's amazing how getting in and out of a vehicle can zap your energy... So we took a break at the trailer and watched part of Harry Potter's Deathly Hallows Part 1, and then went back out for some more! Sublimity and Stayton (which is right next to Sublimity) are really fun little towns, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I even ran into an old friend from Crane while we were at the Fire Station's Cowboy Breakfast - it is truly a small world! And now the Sublimity rodeo experience is another happy memory for us to hold in our hearts until the end of time. Have I mentioned lately THESE ARE THE DAYS WE WILL REMEMBER? They so are!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Like Father, Like Son

While Brailey got her cast cut off, Britt got to work with his dad (for a whopping 45 minutes!). As soon as he knew he was going to be doing this, he rifled through his tee-shirt drawer and found his Ehlers shirt. He worked really hard while he was "on the clock," and was absolutely exhausted for the rest of the day. But he did earn a little money, so it was all worth it.

Brady talked Britt into taking his shirt off to "get a little sun." Here he is mimicking Brady, and he copied every movement Brady made. It was so cute and funny! Brady didn't even realize Britt was following him for a while, so Britt had a big time copying every gesture, right down to SPITTING...! Of course, as his mother, I thought it was adorable, minus the spitting part, of course.

He is checking out his dad to see what he's doing so he can make his next move. They were watching Brailey ride Tex. Britt had just ridden him, and he was waiting for his next turn. And pretending to be Brady's shadow. THESE ARE THE DAYS, I tell you. These are the DAYS!

Friday, July 22, 2011

She Graduated! From a Cast to a Boot...!

She had a countdown going on the number of days, hours and minutes until her cast could come off, and when it did, she was so excited and happy! It tickled a lot when they cut it off, so she had a major case of giggles. And although we thought she would have a major tan line, she really didn't have that much of a line, so it should catch up to the rest of her skin shade real fast.

Yes, her bum leg should tan up nicely, especially considering she is allowed to participate in swim lessons! I went ahead and kept her in this session, even though she missed the first part of it, in the hopes she would be able to do them at the end of the session, and it all worked out. Her doctor said she could swim! And she was the absolute HAPPIEST GIRL IN THE POOL! I've never seen her more excited for something. After watching all the other kids for the past three weeks, she was READY! And her sweet instructor, William, even helped her climb the stairs so she could go down the slide, so that was extra icing on the cake, for sure. Happiness at it's best!

Brady couldn't wait any longer and after she came home without a cast, he saddled up Texi-Man for her to at least walk around on. It felt good to her, but a little unsettling, too. Two feet in the stirrups is always better! But we are thrilled she at least has a boot we can take off for sleeping, bathing and swimming. Happiness!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Albany Fun in the Sun

Three cutie-patooties! The cutie in the black next to my cutie in the pink is my sweet Godson, Nolan.

Brailey and her Godmother, Nikki. They both wore their "Hawaii" shirts, even though they didn't plan it! Nikki got one for Brailey when she was in Hawaii on her honeymoon a couple of months ago. Isn't it fun that they both had them on? Totally unplanned? On the same day? YES!

Call this the Hawaii-Five-O group shot... Nikki couldn't stop laughing when I said I would "get my tripod out of my purse." "You have a tripod in there?" she asked me. And I assured her I did (it's just a little fellar!), and thanks to having it with me at all times, we were able to get this awesome picture of the five of us. Two country girls from Eastern Oregon with their precious babes. I love this picture!

On a side note, our original plan was to go see a movie. Nikki and I are so much alike when it comes to money, though,  both of us nearly had a stroke right there at the movie ticket counter when the salesman told us the price of the movie. MATINEE PRICING, mind you... What can we say? We're not cheap, just smart! $29.00 bucks for the two B's and I to get in the door - not worth it! We'll wait for the $1.50 theatre in Eugene. In any case, Nikki said, "So guys, what do you want to do instead?" And Brailey said, "How about we get ice cream and go to a park?" Which is what we did - Nolan took us to his favorite park, and the three of them had a great time playing while Nikki and I talked, which was better than seeing a movie anyway. It was a great day!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Do Goodwill and St. Vincent de Paul Think They Are Designer Boutiques?

Oh my GOSH Goodwill and St. Vinny's have gotten outrageous in their pricing! And I'm not the only one to notice it, either. I've had conversations with complete strangers over how ridiculously high their prices have become. I thought it was mostly just Eugene, but the B's and I were in Albany a few days ago, and they are even higher than Eugene!

I used to go to Goodwill and St. Vinny's all the time. That is where my entire wardrobe came from, and almost all of my kiddos' clothes came from there. We used to love to go and browse the merchandise. It was so much fun to find a treasure! There is nothing like the feeling of finding something for a good price that you could never find or otherwise afford.

Today, however, it is rare that I step foot into one of the stores. I have been boycotting them. I wish more people would do the same, but for some reason, people just keep on going! These stores are every bit as packed as the mall, and frankly, they might as well be considered a high end chain store with their pricing the way it is today. In fact, their prices are so high, I'm better off going to Walmart or Target and getting something brand spanking new!

My anger has been rekindled, because I started going back into the stores in search of books for my B's... Like I shared with you earlier, Brailey has become enthralled with the Boxcar Children. We discovered them at St. Vinny's - we made a special trip to find her some books to read since she had to lay low with her cast for a while, and St. Vinny's is the best place to find books. St. Vinny's prices their books cheaper than Goodwill's (.50 for a kid's book vs. 1.00), AND they organize their books by subject and alphabetically by author. SO MUCH EASIER TO NAVIGATE. Anyway, long story short, St. Vinny's had a ton of the Boxcar Children, but I only bought a few, not knowing if Brailey would like them or not. We also search for Magic Treehouse books, which are Britt's favorites.

Well, when we went to get more Boxcar Children books, only a few days later, they were almost all gone! I couldn't believe it... And so that started us on our journey to find more. So when we found ourselves in Albany last week, and were driving right by the Goodwill, we stopped in. It was our lucky day! Britt found 5 or 6 Magic Treehouses, and even though Brailey didn't find a Boxcar, she did find a couple of shirts she loved. Wouldn't you know the children's clothing was right next to the books? Well, in Eugene, kid's clothes are the ONLY thing Goodwill sells at a decent price - $1.99 per item, unless they find it to be special and worth more. I was shocked to find that Albany's pricing on kid's shirts is $2.99! For a USED ITEM! And the jeans are even MORE! They are marked at $5.99 and UP! Can you believe that?! I was absolutely outraged... And it did grate on my nerves that I was paying a buck for each of Britt's books, but they are so hard to find, I felt it was justified on my part.

I understand they do have their little discount pricing system, but I've never had good luck with finding anything worth having in that pricing. Everything has been so picked over by that point there is nothing left to choose from. So this brings me to the big question in my mind - WHO IS BUYING STUFF AT FULL PRICE AND WHY ARE THEY BUYING IT USED WHEN THEY COULD GO TO A STORE AND GET IT BRAND NEW FOR PRACTICALLY THE SAME PRICE? Seriously, who are these people?

I wish everyone would boycott the stores so they would come down on their pricing and become the fun, affordable place they used to be. Brailey found a used purse she wanted to get for her friend Jaden the other day at St. Vinny's, and they wanted $6.97 for it! That is the cheapest price on ALL their purses - they go up from there! Can you believe that? It was a USED BAG!

So for now, we are searching for our books, and that's it. And the odd item that might, by some miracle, be affordable. But for other fun stuff, we're going to stick with yard sales and chain stores. Like my mother-in-law says, nowadays, you can get a quality item for a lot less. Walmart has some really good brands that actually do last! And so does Target. I've never been too big on labels, myself, but I would certainly rather buy something new for less than buy something used for more. I wonder if this will ever change, or if the prices will continue to escalate? Whatever happens, I miss my bargain hunting days, but I refuse to back down from my stand. Goodwill and St. Vincent de Paul should be ASHAMED of themselves...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Meet Ale-Alejandro, Ale-Alejandro

Isn't he a handsome baby?! He has the most gorgeous skin... He's delicious! This is Brailey's teacher's first baby, Alejandro, and we got to meet them for dinner the other night. Let me just tell you, he is so sweet, snugly, adorable, handsome, and precious - mmmmph! And he is such a good baby! And he is more than blessed to have the mother he has - she is amazingly calm and collected and even well-rested for a new mom (I wish I had been more like her!). We had such a good time with them...! Savannah, Alejandro's mom, was Brailey's third grade teacher, and the two of them had a real connection with each other - Brailey sobbed and sobbed the day she left on her maternity leave. She was so excited to meet Savannah and her baby for dinner she could hardly handle the anticipation. It was worth all the excitement, though, because she got to hold Ale (his nickname), which she was dying to do and it truly thrilled her to pieces. She also read a report to Savannah that she had written on Wildflowers (all by herself as part of her journaling we are doing this summer), and Savannah was more than happy to not only listen to the report, but to hear that Brailey is now loving to read and going through the Boxcar Children series, one of her own personal favorites. It was such a special evening full of love and happiness. A night we shall never forget and we look forward to repeating soon!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Facebook or No Facebook?

Ah, yes. Back to the Facebook topic... I have been struggling, lately, with the whole Facebook concept. Unfortunately, everyone in the entire universe is on it, except for me, and I feel like I miss out on a lot of things. Like my favorite doc, Dr. Drew, and my favorite author, Jodi Picoult, and my favorite radio show, Elvis Duran and the Morning Show. I could be enjoying a number of things on Facebook, were it only that simple. And my blog would probably have more of a chance for success, too, if it posted to Facebook. Do I miss keeping up with family and friends on Facebook? Mmmmmm, sort of. If I'm being honest, though, not as much as I should. The constant updates are actually a little overwhelming, and it has been peaceful not to be addicted to the social monster.

Truly, it has been an eye opener for me how crazy our world has become with Facebook and texting and the wonderful world of technology in general. And before I go any farther, let me just say that I was one of the worst Facebookers ever, always bragging on my "perfect" children, our "wonderful" life and all the "amazing" adventures we had the good fortune to partake in... Now that I've had some distance from the demon, I can see that I was one of those Facebookers that drive other Facebookers crazy. The only excuse I have is that I was caught up in the maelstrom of the experience. It is like a second reality people live through, and the best thing I ever did for myself and my family was to get off of it. It might be argued my blog is akin to Facebook, and there is some truth to that. I do tend to brag on my beautiful babies and handsome husband, but then again, that is the point of the blog - to document our life. And that is what blogs are for, in a way, don't you think? A forum for people to proclaim the richness of their lives.

So you can see the dilemma I have, here... I need Facebook, but I don't want to be on Facebook. I don't want the drama that comes with it, because it has been blessedly peaceful without it. I was reminded of this just the other day, when I saw one of my dear friends using it... She had been experiencing a somewhat harrowing event, and she shared with me some posts from Facebook about it, which were on her cell phone - drama elevator number one. And while we were talking about it, another person came up to her with a tidbit about said harrowing event, and immediately after this person left, my friend was texting another person - drama elevator number two. It made me sad, because back in the old days, it wouldn't have been possible to do that. And I really feel like it was unhealthy and just kept the drama rolling, whereas if there wasn't instant access to social networks, the situation would have the opportunity to die down, both as a situation in itself and also in my friend's mind and heart.

Yah, texting and cell phones are right up there on my Things I Hate list, right under Facebook. I despise talking on the phone and I do not text. For one thing, I don't want to waste the money on it, and for another I don't want to spend all my time texting. It truly blows my mind when I think about the money people spend on their phones and phone plans, not to mention the time they spend on the bloody devices. I'm far too cheap to be able to justify the expense. I have a basic cell phone I only use when I have to. One of my biggest fears is the day my children are old enough to have their own phones... YIKES!

So what should I do? I could create a family Facebook profile for the purpose of my blog only and to follow the superstars I admire. But I know it will be temptation at it's worst, and I'm not sure if I'm strong enough to handle it. I feel like it is a real addiction, similar to someone addicted to drugs or alcohol, and unless I enforce abstinence, then I am going to be sucked into the whirlwind of drama. See? Scary stuff. I need it, but I'm not sure if I need it badly enough to risk the peaceful state of mind I've developed. Any thoughts?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Swimming and Sparklers

Britt started swim lessons last week. Brailey was supposed to start them, but her torn ligaments put a crink in those plans. My biggest goal for the summer was for both of them to learn how to swim (if you know me, then you know that I don't know how to swim). Britt is my little fish, and he loves the water and is actually ahead of Brailey in his skills. Nothing makes Britt happier than swim lessons - to say he loves them is an understatement! Brailey, on the other hand, is just like her mother - hates to get her face wet and a little fearful of the water. After Britt's first lesson, she shed her first tears since she hurt her ankle (heartbreaking to go through as her mother!), but the next day she was okay and came prepared with a book to read. And that, I have to say, has been one of the blessings of her tragedy - she has started to love to read! We picked up the first four books in the Boxcar Children series, and so far, she loves them. I'm thrilled! We are hoping she will be able to participate in the last session we are signed up for. In the meantime, Britt is well on his way to being a bonafied swimmer.

For the first time ever in the history of the 4 B's, I bought sparklers. And they were a hit! I remember writing in the dark with them when I was a kid, and I decided it was time for my own little B's to experience them. Brailey was a bit scared and worried she was going to get burned, but she still loved them. Britt had no fear at all, and could have lit a thousand sparklers - he had a big time! Big Daddy couldn't help himself - he had to light a few, too. They stuck them in the fire all at once to see which one would light up first... Another beautiful summer memory!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A First for the 4th of July

Yes, it was a monumental, milestone 4th of July, this year. Brady and I "ran" the Butte to Butte, a famous road race in Eugene that is 6.3 miles, starting at Spencer Butte and ending at Skinner Butte. That is the longest distance I have ever jogged in my life! I was nervous, because I didn't know if I would be able to do it. My legs were actually trembling on the shuttle ride to the start of the race. I've never done this race before, so it was really fun to take it all in for the first time. Brady has ran the race several times, but not for the past 12 years. We made a pact to stay together the entire race, and we crossed the finish line at exactly the same time. It was so fun! It wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be, and the positive energy and excitement in the air was inspiring and nearly overwhelming. People were on the sidelines cheering us on the entire distance, clapping and waving and shaking cow bells like you hear in the Olympics. Our little B's spent the night before with our beloved Lambert family, and they all came down to the race and cheered us on with a special sign they had made. It was so cool to see them all sitting on the street corner, the four kids in special 4th of July tie-dye shirts we had made, Kimmy holding an awesome sign they all signed that said "Good Job Big Daddy &  Big Mama" in red, white and blue. It brought a tear to my eye to see them, and I had to really force that emotion back down to make it through the rest of the race. Over 4500 people participated in this year's Butte to Butte, all happy and excited to be there. The goal for Brady and I was to just make it through, and we did, despite Brady's knee giving him some real trouble the last couple of miles. We already have a new strategy for next year... Afterwards, we met at the Lamberts' house and Brian talked Brady into soaking in the hot tub. I soaked my aching feet, as well, while Brady soaked his body. I'll never forget how fun it was to sit in the sun and talk to two of the most special people we know, sipping our fizz that Kimmy got us. She also got us our favorite candy bars, which we devoured as soon as we got in the car to come home. Can you tell it was an incredible experience? It was...

The rest of the 4th was fun, too. Brady judged the Fire Cracker Bull Ride that night and we had a great time. The weather was perfect, the fireworks were amazing, and we got to spend time with another family dear to our hearts, the Hartley's. Once again, an amazing 4th of July celebration! If you know me at all, then you know the 4th is my favorite holiday... I love it! And I will never forget my first Butte to Butte, held every year on the 4th, and sure to be conquered again.

Britt, Brailey and Hope.

Brailey and Hope - the two cutest cowgirls in the land!

I always get the kids an elephant ear at this bull ride - Eugene makes the best elephant ears in the land! This year was extra special, because I let each kid have their own, instead of sharing one. They enjoyed every last bite!

Robert and Stacie Jo Hartley, two of our dearest friends and two of the greatest horse trainers around, and still in love with each other. They are too cool for words, and the B's love them! (Hope is their little girl in the pictures above...)

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...