Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Eve 2011

 Our traditional family picture before Christmas Eve mass...

And once we got home, we let them open ONE PRESENT, which this year were new jammies, another tradition!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Our Year in Review - 2011

Wow! As we find ourselves at the end of another year, I have been reminiscing about the past year and all that happened. It was a GREAT year! I think it would best be described as The Year of Education for The 4 B's... We learned SO MUCH! We grew as a family and learned things that will help us immensely in our journey through this life.

One of the most significant lessons we learned is who we can depend on and who we can't. Surprisingly, it isn't always family who is "there for you" when the chips are down. Sometimes family members are the ones who hurt you the most, and learning this lesson was a painful one that required a lot of self-reflection, a lot of letting go and also a lot of growing. "Growing pains," I call them, because growing as a person is truly a hard thing to do. But grow we did, and I'm so thankful for the friends we grew with, new and old alike, silver and gold all the way!

Gosh, we had so much FUN this year! I still can't believe Brady and I made it through the Butte-to-Butte - at this point, I doubt if I'll ever be able to "run" it again... I've come to learn that some people are runners, and some people aren't, and I fall into the latter category, even though I try so hard not to. In any case, WE DID IT, and the best part was seeing our little B's with The Lamberts sitting on the street corner holding signs that said "Go Big Mama" and "Go Big Daddy!" I had to fight hard to suck those tears down, which isn't an easy thing to do when you are trying to suck air, too.

We had so much fun as a family, enjoying rodeo after rodeo - Sublimity and Ross Coleman's PBR were our favorites, although the Eugene PBR was right up there, too. And Corvallis! I'll never forget my "reading" by the psychic, and this was the first year we let our little B's enjoy the "BIG" rides at the carnival. Corvallis always has a great carnival... OH - and Eric Church! How could I forget him?! Brady and I had the best time ever at his concert right here in Lane County, and I swear we are his biggest fans... Although maybe not - Brady asked a girl at the parade in Heppner if she knew who Eric Church was, and she said, "KNOW him! I'm going to MARRY him!" She must have been about 13 or 14 years old. And speaking of Heppner, that was another fantastic rodeo, and the only one Brady and I attended by ourselves - the kids went camping with my folks and had their own fun.

As I think back over all the birthdays and celebrations and good times, and there are just too many to incorporate into this little blog post! Our yard sale, getting our yard IN, spending time with my parents and the Lamberts and the Hartleys, Uncle Frank coming from Texas to stay with us and showing him Autzen Stadium, the infamous Barn Sale, both kids performing at La Fiesta, swim lessons in the rain in a heated pool, football and volleyball, our 10th wedding anniversary (eleven years together, ten married!), Britt's first reconciliation with all four of us participating, performances by the little B's special for Brady and I...

Of course there was drama, too - we started January with a bang. Brady was gone for the entire month at "school." Thank goodness for our beloved friends and my parents, or I may not have survived. Yes, I am tougher than nails, but taking care of this place by myself wasn't easy, even for someone as rough and tough as me, ranch-raised girl that I am... The emotional strain on my B's was nearly more than I could bear. But bear it we did! Then Brailey's ripped ligaments at the beginning of the summer along with a trip to the ER, which ironically began the summer and then ended it, as well, when we thought she had meningitis in August, but thank goodness she didn't. And then all her ailments, including her allergic reaction to codeine from a pulled baby tooth that had attached to her jaw bone, tonsillitis, a horrible flu bug, x-rays for her back and all the missed activities from the bum leg in between. And while she had to endure the worst of it, Britt had to learn how to have fun without his best friend and playmate, and that was a big adjustment for him. Even though he still got to enjoy all his activities, he missed his sister enjoying them with him. And his football season nearly did us all in, with the huge commitment it entailed and the problems we faced this year. But the best part is that we learned from ALL of these things, and we are stronger and better for having gone through them. Like the saying goes, what doesn't kill you will make you stronger. So true!

And now we are ready to embark on a new year, filled with more hope and love than we've ever had before. We already have a couple of snags - my dad's cancer and Brady has some issues with his mouth AND just yesterday he fell at work while getting the chop saw out of the van and broke his ribs, sprained his fingers and whacked his head... Needless to say, he is one sore feller, but he's back at work today, pushing through like the trooper he is. He and my dad have their surgeries on the same day, January 3rd - any and all prayers are welcome! Brady won't like it that I've shared this about him, but a priest told my mom you can never have too many prayers, so what can he say about that, right?

We are looking forward to Britt's first communion in the spring and hope to have a wonderful celebration with family and friends, my oldest niece and oldest Godson are graduating from high school, and who knows what other marvelous things will occur? Usually, even numbered years are the best for me, and last year, an odd-numbered year, was great, so this year? I think it is going to be UNBELIEVABLE! Welcome, 2012!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

"Twas the Day After Christmas...

‘Twas the day after Christmas,
And all through the house,
Not a thing was in place,
Not even Big Mama’s computer mouse.

Toys were strewn from here to there.
Amongst paper and ribbons and Rosin’s dog hair.
The stockings were thrown on the floor with abandon,
The contents spread all around like a fountain.

And Big Mama and Big Daddy surveyed the wild scene,
The beautiful sight of The 4 B’s glee.
Brailey and Britt’s faces shining with love,
And laughter and joy like two turtle doves.

Big Mama said “Now we must clean up this mess,”  
Her voice carrying some leftover Christmas stress.
Big Daddy and the The Little B’s responded right quickly,
Not wanting to risk Big Mama turning sickly.

And with all the debris neatly stashed in a bag,
Big Mama relaxed and kept free from her nag.
This left them all able to put things together,
Things Santa had brought through the icy cold weather.

And their hearts all swelled with more love and delight,
As they enjoyed every second of their Christmas flight.
And oh yes, don’t you fret, they do know the real reason,
For the beautiful holiday and the whole Christmas season.

Hence their singing of the Happy Birthday song,
For the true King of the World, for whom so many long.
“Happy Birthday to Jesus,” The 4 B’s sang with their might,
“A blessed day to you all, and to all a good night.”

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The "Cookie Lady"

She's not me, if that is what you were thinking. But she IS a funny story...

So the Cookie Lady came about this fall during football season/practice... She was a single mom who had a kid on our team and a very nice boyfriend. Along about the middle of our season, she started bringing the kids cookies that she had baked. It was a very nice thing for her to do, and the kids loved them. I didn't try them at this point, but my three B's seemed to enjoy them.

Not long after, she brought cookies a second time, and I have to admit my hackles were raised just a bit. First of all, isn't there a rule against bringing home-baked food to organized kids' events? Second of all, I really didn't need my kids eating a bunch of sugar right before dinner AND bedtime. And third, she brought a bag of cookies over to me to send home for Brady and as she handed me the bag she said "These are special for Brady - he'll kill me if I don't give him some of my cookies."

Really? Okay... Little Mama just happened to be right next to me during this exchange, and her hackles were raised a bit, too. This made me feel better, because it validated how I was feeling. Which was a little suspicious... It was after this remark about her cookies and Brady followed by her detailed explanation of what a fabulous baker she was that we dubbed her Cookie Lady.

Along goes time, and it soon became apparent to us that she had a bit of a crush on Brady. Granted, EVERYONE loves Brady, because really, what's not to love? He is certainly the most likable man I'VE ever met. And he is oblivious when it comes to flirty women and makes friends with every person he meets.

One night I didn't make it to practice, but Little Mama was there, and she found herself feeling a little jealous of Cookie Lady. It seems Cookie Lady dominated Brady for the entire practice! Of course Little Mama relayed this information to me, and we started watching Cookie Lady like a hawk, and sure enough, every time she had an opportunity, she was on Brady like flies on horse poo.

It soon became a big joke between the three of us (Big Daddy, Big Mama and Little Mama). But it did turn a bit serious one night when Cookie Lady AGAIN brought her stupid cookies for everyone. And Brady actually had the nerve to compliment her gesture TO ME, and that is when I became somewhat irritated... You see, I had tried one of her famous cookies, just to see if they WERE in fact tasty, and frankly, they were disgusting! They were harder than a rock and completely tasteless. After my sample, all the cookies from Cookie Lady went straight into the garbage. They were GROSS!

Now here's an important piece of the puzzle for you to know - while I don't like cooking, I am one hell of a baker, and I make the best cookies you will EVER eat. Period. Exclamation point! And so when Brady had the bad taste (pun intended!) to compliment Cookie Lady on her cookies, knowing how Little Mama and I felt about her, my dander was raised. It just so happens Brady and I discussed this over dinner, after practice, and I shared with Brady that my cookies were twenty TIMES better than Cookie Lady's and if she wanted to have a bake-off, I would WIN, hands down! 

I am making this sound quite serious, but truthfully, Brady and I were bantering back and forth all in good fun. He was teasing me, and I was teasing him, but there WAS a tiny element of seriousness to it. And all of a sudden, my little B's jumped to my defense and said, "Dad, it's true! Mom can make WAY better cookies than that lady can." "Mom really does make better cookies, Dad." And "Mom WOULD win if they had a contest, Dad, SHE WOULD!" Needless to say, Brady and I had a big laugh over my little B's defending me, and it added fuel to the Cookie Lady fire for the rest of the season.

If you wonder why I brought this story up, it's because I was just reminded of it yesterday. Our wonderful neighbor lady brought us some Christmas goodies. She's a terrific baker, and after lunch, I let both of my B's have some dessert. Britt chose one of her cookies, and after having just one bite, he said, "Mmmmmmmmmmmmm, these are GOOD!" Then he looked at me and said, "Well, not as good as YOURS are, Mom, but they are good. But yours are WAY better!"

Tell me, is there anything more precious than having your children defend you? Besides my cookies, that is...

You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Fabulous Letter to the Editor in the Register Guard

Here is the letter to the editor I referenced yesterday (that I totally agree with!).



Published: (Saturday, Dec 10, 2011 05:00AM)Midnight, Dec 10
Bring back ‘Merry Christmas’
It is ludicrous that people must say “Happy Holidays” in place of “Merry Christmas” during Christmas time. The First Amendment clearly prohibits interfering with “the free exercise of religion,” so why do we have stores and many public facilities being pressured into saying “Happy Holidays” instead? It’s because pressure has been put on them to say “Happy Holidays” so as to not offend anyone.
Christmas is technically a federal holiday in the United States. People who say “Merry Christmas” are supporting a federal holiday, not a Christian one.
Christmas has Christian roots, but it has been adopted by America and molded into our culture to create a national holiday. It’s so much a part of our culture that there are Christmas trees in the White House, a government building, as well as in the Hult Center, also a government building.
When people say the phrase “Merry Christmas” is promoting Jesus they are wrong, because it is promoting the federal holiday. I’m sure there are people out there who say companies should not promote the federal government either, but then it comes down to what offends the least number of people.
In today’s society there are more people who would rather hear “Merry Christmas” than “Happy Holidays,” so why not bring it back?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Spirit

If you know me at all, then you know it takes me a while to get into the Christmas spirit... Frankly, I'm not the biggest fan of the commercialism and pressure that goes hand-in-hand with the "holiday" season. I barely have time to do the things I need to do on a normal day, let alone do all the things I need to do to prepare for Thanksgiving and Christmas! The days are never long enough, are they? It doesn't help that the retail world starts promoting Christmas before Halloween even occurs, making me feel like I'm behind from the get-go. And then the whole Black Friday thing makes me feel like I am so far behind in my shopping I'll never catch up (I don't "do" Black Friday). Pressure, pressure, pressure!

Never fear, though. I always manage to somehow rally myself and pull my Christmas spirit out the closet. I do this for the sake of my family. Of COURSE I don't want my babies to grow up without experiencing the magic of Christmas. And I must be doing an okay job of it, because they both still believe in Santa, utterly and completely. Brailey is nine years old, now, but she still believes. I love this! We decorate and we sing Christmas songs in the car on our way to and from school - our favorite cd is from Jim Carrey's movie, The Grinch, which is also our favorite Christmas movie, and furthermore one of our sacred family traditions is to watch this movie on Christmas Eve after we attend mass. And yes, let me tell you, I totally relate with The Grinch!

Which brings us to the true meaning of Christmas and two of my pet peeves...

First of all, yes, my kids know the "reason for the season." Christmas is a celebration of Jesus' birthday, and I am proud to say they carry this in their hearts. I was SO proud of Britt the other day... Someone at school told him Christmas was about "giving." And he said, "I told them 'No, it's not. It's about Jesus' birthday.'" And it upset him a bit that his classmate didn't understand that Christmas is about giving AND Jesus, which is how I even know about his conversation, because he told me all about it on the way home from school. I'm glad he stuck up for Jesus!

Secondly, my two pet peeves at Christmas... I absolutely cannot STAND IT when people put an "X" in from of -mas. REALLY?! You can't even write the word "Christ?" I love the signs you see in people's yards that say "Keep Christ in Christmas." If find it insulting and frankly, LAZY to see the word scandalized in this manner. I shared my feelings on this issue just this past weekend, as we saw a sign in our little town advertising their Christmas trees. Guess how they spelled "Christmas?" Yup, with the "X," and so I got on my soap box and shared with my family how disrespectful I find that word to be. My little B's were intrigued and agreed with me it is wrong for people to do that. (Never mind that we live in a free country where people can write what they want to - this is my pet peeve!)

My other peeve is the fact that we have to cater to the two people in the entire world that don't celebrate Christmas and thus we mustn't say "Merry Christmas." We must say "Happy Holidays." I don't understand how every business in town worries about offending the minority of people who don't "believe," yet all their merchandise is targeted to those of us who DO believe. I read the other day in the newspaper a letter to the editor from a person who feels the same way I do, and this person said the holiday is actually a FEDERAL HOLIDAY, and it is called CHRISTMAS, and thus we should have CHRISTMAS parties and cards that say MERRY CHRISTMAS. Maybe I'll try to find the letter online and post it... It was good! Brad Paisley also has a song on his Christmas cd that makes fun of the fact that we can't say "Merry Christmas." See if you can't look it up - it's pretty darned funny, but it makes clear the point of how ridiculous this "Happy Holidays" thing has become. And it brought up for me a conversation with my kids about how people aren't supposed to say "Merry Christmas," so as not to offend anyone. Sadly, my kids will never have a Christmas tree in their classrooms and get to draw a name of a classmate to buy a gift for. I feel fortunate that I was able to experience this in my childhood. Trust me, it was a great way to foster the spirit of giving, and our society would benefit more from kids doing this than simply having a class party where they get a ton of stuff given to them.

On a side note, Britt's class made "giving bags" during his "Winter Holiday" party. They did this last year, also. They put a bunch of stuff together into a bag to give to someone they see who is in need. They decorate the bag to put the stuff in, and the kids love this project. And it makes them feel good when they give this bag away. Great concept!

Anyway... I'm thankful my kids know the true meaning of Christmas. And I admit I am a bit of a hypocrite, because I love to give my children presents. In fact, I love to give EVERYONE presents - if I were rich, I wouldn't be that way for long, because I would spend it all on the people I love. I've changed a lot over the past couple of years, though, and our celebration is truly about Jesus and being together.

So, Merry Christmas, everyone! May your Christmas season truly be merry and bright and full of the wonder of the season. And may God bless you and yours!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Volleyball Season 2011 - Short and Sweet!

Short and sweet indeed! In many ways, it is far too short of a season - it seems like we just get started and into the heart of improvement and then it is over. In other ways, the season comes at a busy time of year, and frankly, we are happy to be free of sports obligations for a while! This is a cute video of Brailey serving in warmups. You can hear Britt talking to me in the background... Below I included a couple of fun shots. Next year? She'll be serving overhand, baby! She actually WAS serving overhand at the beginning of the summer, but the ripped ligaments in her ankle put the kibosh on volleyball for quite a while. In fact, she was lucky to be able to play this season, and fortunately, she's tough. It is amazing how much every girl improves over the course of the few week of volleyball, and next year is going to be even more exciting. We can't wait!
Listening to her coach...
With one of her besties, Sydney. This was their second year of playing together, and someday? They are going to be WICKED good! They'll be able to read each other's minds...
Brady watching the action.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Barn Sale of the Century

Have you been wondering how The Barn Sale of the Century was? Well, then. Allow me tell you...

It was GREAT! And when I say "great," I mean G-R-E-A-T! Not only did we have a steady of stream of people all day long, we sold a GREAT variety of stuff, met some wonderful people AND, I think best of all? We learned a lot!

The weather was super cold, but Brady, bless his heart, set up the propane heater for us. If not for that heater, I think we would have frozen plumb to death! Brady was such a big help to me with this sale, and really, the little B's were, too. I put my blood, sweat and tears (literally, people!) into this sale, and I think my family felt neglected, at times. Yet they were right there for me when I needed them. And my bestie, Little Mama, was so worried she wouldn't sell a thing, the silly woman. Not only did she sell nearly all she had, she even got orders for MORE! She was such a Godsend to me all day long, ringing everyone up and giving me the moral support I needed. Again, I have no idea what I would do without Kim in my life - she is one amazing woman! And MY best friend, which I am so proud of...

The most difficult part of the sale (besides the setup and organization, which was quite an undertaking) was selling merchandise to our friends. Both Kimmy and I struggled with this - I would love to give my friends everything I have, frankly! But everyone who came was so generous and supportive and sweet and wonderful and made us feel like the blessed gals we are.

I did end up with a lot of leftover merchandise, so if you are in need of a one-of-a-kind work of western art, like a lamp, utensil holder, pencil holder, soap dispenser or a decorative vase, just let me know! I have plenty in stock, that's for sure! I need to send it all down to Texas where it would really sell, but I know the perfect homes will come along in good time for my "babies." I have a quite a few bracelets and earrings left, also. And sunglasses. And saddle blankets and reins. I have so much stuff leftover it is hard to believe we sold as much as we did!

In any case, next year is going to be even more spectacular, and this time I have an entire year to plan it. And NOW, my little B's are so happy, because we can finally "deck the halls" of the The 4 B's Ranch and live it up this Christmas season. Ho! Ho! Ho! (And a bottle of rum...!)

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Little B's Funny Pages

Here is what I heard the other day from my funny little B’s as they were playing together…
Brailey: Britt, would you please stop? (I have no idea what he was doing…)
Brailey: Britt, stop it!
Brailey: What part of stop don’t you understand?
Britt: The s, the t, the o and and the p.
For some reason, this totally cracked me up! I was in the kitchen listening to them, and I had to laugh out loud when I heard this!

And then, while we were in the doctor’s office a couple of weeks ago, trying to determine why Brailey’s back was hurting and if she had fallen or somehow injured it, I asked her, “Are you sure you didn’t fall or hurt yourself in P.E. this week?” And she said, “Nooooooooooo, just my feelings were the only thing that got hurt.” I thought that was both sweet and funny.

Last but not least, one of my friends has the last name Yakovich, and we really, really like her. So one day in the car, we were talking about her family and what nice people they are. And Britt said, “I kind of hate to say their last name, though, don’t you?” I didn’t follow his train of thought, and so I said, “No, why?” And Britt said, “You know, Yak-o-blank-ich? Isn’t that a cuss word? I can’t believe they have a cuss word in their name!” I laughed and explained that is wasn’t the b-word, but rather a v-word. When I shared the story with my friend, she said it happens all the time – how come I never thought about it that way before? Anyway, it gave me a smile to hear Britt’s concern…

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...