Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My Beloved Godson, Riley

I am so proud of the wonderful young man my oldest Godson, Riley, has become - he's more special than ever! He, along with his mom and little sister, came to Eugene this past weekend for the high school rodeo and stayed with us. Look at these pictures - he sat through all of them, even though he really didn't want to, and he even smiled for the camera. He's a junior in high school, now, and it has been over six years since I last saw him. He is more charming than ever! I am so very proud of him - he can carry on a conversation with adults, he's funny, he is respectful and helpful to his mother (who happens to be Britt's Godmother), he's handsome and kind and he is just an all-around good kid. It was wonderful to spend a little bit of time with him. His little sister, Baylee, had a big time hanging out with my little B's. And Britt was thrilled to see his Godmother - really, it was like meeting her for the first time, for him, because he was only 18 months old the last time he saw her. It was really wonderful to see them, and a good reminder of why they are so special to us.
My Godson Riley and I.

Riley Joyce, Godson Extraordinaire

Baylee, Britt and Brailey

Riley, Baylee, Britt and Brailey

The two Godsons. It sounds like they have quite a bit in common! Two good boys.

Britt and his Godmother, Lauri.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Our Lenten Journey 2012

Although our Lent Season didn't start out the way we had planned, we still anticipate it will still be an enriching experience. We had every intention of attending Ash Wednesday mass, but we didn't make it this year. Brady had to work late (emergency call) and both of us had ear aches. It was very strange - Brady gets ear aches occasionally, but I almost never do, and for both of us to have one on the same day... Must have been a virus?

Whatever the case, both little B's have decided they are going to DO SOMETHING this year, rather than GIVE SOMETHING UP. I usually choose to do something, also, but this year I'm continuing to give up my beloved peanuts. Brady gave up his daily fizz (at least two Dr. Peppers every day!), which is going to be a tough one, also, especially considering he has been trying to quit the chew, as well. He's been working on quitting his thirty-plus-years chewing habit since January 3rd. Talk about a battle! Prayers for his compulsion to chew to go away are needed. I'm proud of him for choosing to give up fizz, too. He will be one healthy man once he kicks those two enemies to the curb!

Last year for lent I wrote a letter every single day to different people in my life. A letter a day, so over 40 letters. It was quite the project, and I'm glad I did it. I have also sent a weekly lent package to each of my Godchildren, in the past. I always enjoyed that, as well. I think I am due to suffer a little, though, and I feel good about giving up the peanuts this year. The want for them never quite leaves me, and it is healthy to deny myself. The only problem is, I find myself trying to replace them, and the culprit I turn to the most seems to be chocolate, which isn't good for me, either.

So tell me, my fellow Catholic friends, what you are you doing for lent this year? Anything? Nothing? Tell me - I want to know! I need ideas for next year...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

County Presentation

It has to be said (or in this case, written) - our daughter is absolutely amazing. In fact, she's more than amazing - she's dazzling, and we couldn't be more blessed by her. She is the most darling little girl anyone could ever ask for, truly! I know it might be considered bad taste by some for me to brag on my girl, but this is my blog, after all, and it is meant to document our life. So bad taste or not, I'm shouting it to the rooftops - Brailey is something special!

Today she had a major presentation in her class. All the fourth grades are presenting and Oregon county - she lucked out and got Harney County, her mother's county of birth and current home to her grandparents. She has been working very hard on this project, from the research to the actual practice of the presentation. I'm so proud of her!

She dressed like a little cowgirl today, and came up with this introduction all on her own, "Welcome to Harney County, the county of ranching!" The first part of the presentation was in Spanish, and the second part was in English. I wish I could have been there to see her, but sadly the timing didn't work out. In any case, she woke up early this morning and was quite nervous about it. I said a small prayer for her during the time I thought she would be delivering - hopefully this gave her an extra dose of courage and strength and helped her push the nerves away.

I can relate with her nerves, and I'm so thankful she is experiencing public speaking at such an early age. Hopefully this will allow her to be confident in her ability to speak in public as she grows older. I am so thankful to her school for incorporating these opportunities into their curriculum!

To tell you the truth, public speaking is one of my worst nightmares. Can you believe it? I have a B.S. in Communications Management, and I would rather do anything than speak in public. Last year I had to overcome this phobia a bit due to circumstances which required me to talk in front of people. It nearly did me in! But I survived... If you know me at all, then you might find it quite surprising that I am afraid to speak in public. I realize I don't exactly come across as shy and reserved. However, here is what happens to me when I know I am going to have to talk in front of people - my heart starts racing, my breathing becomes shallow, my ears start roaring, my mind races and my body quivers. My brain, for it's part, can't think, because the rest of my body is demanding too much attention.

Ironically, a few weeks ago I found myself encouraging Brailey to "speak up" in her classes. "If you don't understand something, raise your hand and ask your teacher," I wisely advised her. Later on, it occurred to me how hypocritical it was of me to ask this of Brailey when I myself sat through all my college courses praying I wouldn't be called on, even though I knew class participation was part of my grade. In the event participation was absolutely required, I would sit in my seat and wrack my brain for something worthy of sounding smart, which I didn't think I was. Don't even ask about my college presentations - I got through them, obviously, but they were never easy and the stress I experienced lives inside my memories to this day.

Even more ironically, if you can believe this, when I was in high school, I performed in plays, sang solos at concerts and desperately wanted to speak in public! I longed to be the Student Body President, or Valedictorian or Salutatorian (for the record I ended up third in my class) so I could address the gym full of people during graduation and share my thoughts (whatever they were?). Even though I didn't get to do this, the confidence I felt from merely thinking I could was more precious than I realized. My desire to address crowds rapidly left me within the first days of my college courses at Gonzaga University as a freshman, and they still haven't come back. I doubt it they ever will, but then again, stranger things have happened, right?

So I can really feel my children's pain when they get nervous to speak in front of others. They've both done it several times, already. Britt spoke into a microphone to address his entire First Reconciliation class several times this past fall. Brailey addressed hundreds of people during the Fiesta concert held in Sheldon's High School gym as a second grader, in Spanish. They have both experienced speaking in front of their classes. Again, I am so thankful for them to have these opportunities, even though I know they aren't always easy. Hopefully, the more they do it, the more confidence they will gain. No matter what, Brady and I are proud. And for his part, Brady loves to speak in pubic and is quite good at it! I pray they follow their father's footsteps in this regard...

Lamps, Lamps and More Lamps!

These are lamps I made for the NPRA as awards a couple of years ago... These pictures will give an idea of the different shade options that are available. Oh the difference a color can make! I loved every single one of these lamps - they become my babies.

They make great gifts for graduation, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers, Christmas - the pictures and possibilities are endless! They are also great if you want to spring for that truly unique item of home decor no one else will have. Oooooh la la!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Introducing Queen B's Western Design

I have been making lamps for years, thanks to my beloved mother-in-law sharing her craft with me, and for which I am extremely grateful. And now I'm trying a new means of selling them - thus my new Etsy store, Queen B's Western Design. The only problem is, I've yet to sell one from a photo alone. Unfortunately, the quality just doesn't come through in a picture. They have to be felt and looked upon in person to really get a true sense of their beauty. And even then, people either love them or hate them.

In any case, I've recently expanded from lamps into canisters, soap dispensers, utensil holders, cookie jars and whatnot. The reason I started making more of a variety of items is to allow for more price flexibility. The lamps are expensive, but what nice piece of western art isn't? They are something that can be used every day, and they are truly unique, because there are never any two exactly alike. They would be less expensive were it not for the shades - that's where the main expense comes in.

The lamp pictured above is a lamp I made a long time ago, and as you can see, it is a great way to display a favorite photo. The shade is one of my favorite kinds of shades (pigskin), and the light peeks through the holes in it when the lamp is turned on. I like how rustic it is. Rustic equals western, in my mind. Some people prefer rawhide shades, which are less rustic but just as lovely.

The nice thing about my line of products is that I can use any picture someone might have that they love. I've made lamps from wedding pictures, baby photos, family photos, graduation, landscapes and basically anything you can think of. A couple of years ago I was so thrilled to be able to provide awards for the NPRA - a lamp for every rodeo event!

I've had many people try to copy them, but the process is super secret, and unless someone figures it out for themselves, I will never-ever tell. That was the promise I had to make to my mother-in-law when she showed me how to make them. She is the genius behind them, and she is a true artist in every sense. Her lamps are, honestly, to die for! She has the "eye," as they say, and she really knows how to make each lamp absolutely perfect. When I said I am extremely grateful to her for showing me how to make these things, I meant it - she is a living legend! And while I know I'm very good at making these things, she is even better. Her arthritis has taken a toll on her own lamp business, and I can't tell you how sad that makes me. We have three of her lamps in our house, and I think of her every time I see them. She has sold lamps to the most exclusive western stores in California and Texas and several wealthy individuals. Did I mention how thankful I am?

Please feel free to share my Facebook product posts and "Queen B's Western Design" Etsy store http://www.etsy.com/your/listings with anyone you think might be interested in placing an order or purchasing something already made. I'm trying a new tactic - I'm actually believing in myself and my creations! I love them and I hope you will, too. Here are some more pictures to pique your interest...

NPRA Award Lamps from 2010, minus the shades. They turned out so nicely!

One of my favorite lamps ever, this horse looks like the horse I had as a kid. His name was Turbo. I can't remember who bought this, but I hope they love it.

I gave this to a sweet cowgirl for her graduation from high school.

I don't remember where this lamp went, but I thought it would be so cute in a little cowboy's room.

Canisters, which can be sold as a set or separately.

A fun cookie jar!

Potpourri, anyone? Can be used to hold whatever...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Meeting Maddox

Finally, we got to meet our Alli Jo's new baby, Maddox! Allison (we call her Alli Jo) was Brailey's ice skating coach for years, and then both B's were in her wedding a couple of years ago (you can see pictures in July 2010 posts), and THEN she and her new husband moved to the Seattle area. And The 4 B's have been missing her ever since...! We've also been dying to meet her little man, Maddox, and he is even cuter than we thought he would be! He is so sweet and happy and adorable and just PERFECT. Both of the B's were thrilled to get to hold him... He is so blessed to have the adoring parents he has. He is a CHARMER, big time, and we fell in love at first sight!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Britt's 8th Birthday

Can you believe it? Britt, 8 years old? Wow... Where does the time GO? He had a great birthday - we had a little Surprise Party for him and Griffin (who turned nine on the 7th of February), at Putters on Thursday. Griffin missed out on the Lazer Tag fun during their football party in the fall because he was sick, and so we kept it a secret and set up a fun little family party for the two Birthday Boys. Lazer Tag, pizza and presents - a boy's dream! We even surprised the girls, and they were just as happy as the boys. Britt was blown away, and couldn't even sleep that night from all excitement and fun he had. We all had a great time!
We walked up to this table, which Kimmy had reserved, and there were their names on the reservation sign. Britt said, "What's this? Britt and Griffin? That's weird..." And then Brady and I yelled "SURPRISE!" And he was so happy and grateful. He said we are the best parents in the world! He said he thought maybe there was another Britt and Griffin or something... When he knew it was for him and Griffy, he was ecstatic!
Aren't they SO CUTE and HAPPY?

The two darlings with their Mtn. Dew chapstick from Kimmy...Brailey is now OBSESSED with hers!
Our beloved Kimmy and her mother... Aren't they gorgeous? They are both amazing, and I love them!
The two cutest Birthday Buddies in the world! They had a BLAST!
And the fun rolled on into Friday... I brought Cinnabons to Britt's class in the afternoon. He wanted to keep with "Brailey's tradition," as he called it. She brought Cinnabons to her class when she was in Sra. Downes' second grade class, and so Britt wanted to do the same. The kids loved them, and the best part is that they were on sale! We had the leftovers for a birthday breakfast on Saturday - Cinnabons and bacon.
One of the things Britt wanted to do on his birthday besides shopping was go to Build A Bear Workshop, and since I always give both kids a gift on their birthdays, it was perfect for my B's. It was our first time there, and they had SUCH a good time! They were so thrilled with the entire process, and Britt said, "It's so amazing how they just bring them to life!" I'm glad he's secure enough with his manhood to enjoy something like this.

And the end of the birthday weekend... We had his Dairy Queen ice cream cake Sunday night, after Brady got home from Yakima. He was so exhausted from all his birthday fun (he woke up at 5:45 Saturday morning), he went to bed early Sunday night on his own and he is still tired this morning. A successful birthday celebration, for sure!

Friday, February 10, 2012

My Strange Addiction

It's not dirt or tree bark or anything mind boggling like that... My strange addiction is strange because I didn't used to like "it" at all. And now "it," which is really more of a "they," is/are the only thing I want to eat. Yes - I'm talking about a food, of course. And oddly enough, it isn't chocolate, which I have had a love affair with for most of my life. This strange addiction is worse than any craving for chocolate I've ever experienced. It was born back in May of 2011 when we went to Five Guys Burgers and Fries after Brailey's dance recital. You might be thinking it was their delicious food, but no. It wasn't the burgers or the fries that got me started on my daily addiction, although their burgers and fries are TO DIE FOR...! What was it? It was the PEANUTS!

Now you know what I mean when I say "strange." Seriously, have you ever heard of such a thing? For some bizarre reason, I decided to crack a few peanuts while we were waiting for our food. I must have been starving, because normally, peanuts are one of my least favorite things to eat. Much to my surprise, however, they tasted so good! After munching on those delicious little peanuts from Five Guys, I decided to buy some more, not realizing I was setting myself up for a horrible future affliction I would battle with on a daily basis for months...! By the time fall rolled around, peanuts were pretty much the only thing I was eating, and even worse, the only thing I wanted to eat!

Let me try to describe to you how serious this is... I could eat peanuts morning-noon-and-night. I could eat peanuts and nothing else for the rest of my life. I could eat peanuts 24/7. I am positively addicted to peanuts! And even crazier? Only the salted ones, and they have to be in the shell - I don't like them any other way. And even more specifically? They have to be Hoody's in the big bag - no other brand tastes as good, and even the smaller bags of Hoody's have a slightly different flavor than the big bags do. If I sound nuts to you, let me assure you, I AM!

When the New Year rolled around, I decided I must stop the insanity. And my family agreed it would be a good idea. After all, enough is enough, right? A person cannot just LIVE on peanuts. What kind of an example is that for my B's? Although they are said to be a good food for your brain, I have to face the truth. They are TERRIBLE BAD FOR ME - salty and fattening. They're messy. They're time-consuming to eat. They're bad for my teeth. Did I mention they are SHEER FAT?

In the beginning of my addiction, I told myself they were actually GOOD for me. I was actually PROUD of the fact that I had found something halfway healthy to eat. I didn't know they were bad until I candidly shared with the checker at Bi-Mart (the best place to buy peanuts, in case you were wondering) that I had traded in my chocolate addiction (which was NOTHING compared to this peanut addiction) for peanuts. The checker lady gave me a sardonic look and said, "I think you should have stuck with the chocolate." I thought she was just a rude, grumpy and frankly mean old checker lady, until I sat eating peanut after peanut in front of my mother, who enlightened me to the true facts of life about peanuts...

I wish I could write about how I have kicked them to the curb and I am now peanut free, but I have to be honest and tell you that I have been having a terrible time giving them up. And NOW I know how it feels to be truly addicted to something! I have gone an entire week without them two different times since the New Year began, but then I caved in and thought I could handle just a few at a time. And that is how I know it is an addiction - it is all or nothing for me. And when I don't have them? I experience withdrawals. I ransack the pantry trying to find something to replace them! Even my old friend chocolate can't fill the void I feel without my peanuts. I literally sit and crave, crave, crave my peanuts. Can you believe it? Have you ever heard of such a ridiculous obsession? I honestly would like to know what it is about them I am craving... What is it that makes me so desperate to have these little morsels of delight?

So I'm going public with my demon. I'm going to get this monkey off my back once and for all! I cannot continue to self-destruct in this manner. Sadly, my family likes to eat peanuts, also - not to the degree than I love them, but all four of us B's enjoys eating peanuts. However, my B's will be supportive of me "getting off" them. I know this, because those two weeks I went without, they never asked for peanuts for themselves one time. I'll keep you posted on how I do with this strange problem of mine. Say some prayers for me, okay? Seriously, I need all the help I can get! If they had a rehab center for peanuts, I would SO BE THERE. And while I am thankful not to be an alcoholic or a drug addict, I do recognize that I have a problem, and that, my friends, is the first step to overcoming it, right? Right. So I'm on the right track. Just as soon as I finish this last bag of peanuts...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Super Bowl Soapbox

Did Madonna rock the house Sunday night or WHAT?! YES! SHE DID! That was the best Super Bowl Halftime Show I have seen in years. In fact, I really can't remember a better one! I guess the Black Eyed Peas weren't too bad, either, but I'm a True Blue Material Girl, and it was Super fun to see Madonna back in her element (every single pun intended). Which is why I am pissed that people are being so critical of her.

Do I think she copied Lady Gaga with her entrance and her theme? Well, yes, that was obvious. But it was still fun to watch, and even though The 4 B's are the biggest Gaga fans you will ever find (okay, the biggest straight Lady Gaga fans you will ever find!), Madonna DID pave the way for Gaga. Madonna was the Gaga of the 90's. Remember those days? She was always shocking everyone and pushing the envelope, but her music was awesome and frankly, timeless, because it still sounds good today. So what if she wanted to give the world a little reminder of that?

Truly, Madonna is a living legend, an icon! How can people be so mean and critical? Her dancing was slow? Well, at 50 some odd years, she could certainly dance me into the ground. There's no way I could keep up with her, even though I am over a decade younger than her. And her outfit was silly? Are you KIDDING ME? It was a family friendly outfit, at least - what was the problem with it? I've seen Katy Perry and Lady Gaga wear far worse outfits, for sure. Isn't that the whole POINT of today's performances? To dress the part? To be entertaining? I think Madonna's outfit was FUN!

Yes, if you can't tell, I'm a big Madonna fan, and I always have been. I've loved her music from the first day I heard it. I remember thinking she was so beautiful, so talented and possibly the coolest woman on the planet, back when I was a teenager. I remember listening to her True Blue album (via cassette, mind you) on a certain bus trip back when I was a lowly freshman during my high school years at Crane. I hate to admit to such a degrading detail of my past, but I sang every word of every song the entire ride home on that bus, many times, and I'm sure I drove everyone out of their ever-loving minds! By the way, if you were on that bus that long ago night, I'm sorry for being so immature and silly and annoying. What can I say? I was young and dumb. Today, I wouldn't be caught dead singing in front of a busload of kids! My sincere apologies to everyone on that bus who had to endure my karaoke-like performance... (If only we could go back and relive our high school days!)

Maybe I am overly sensitive to criticism. I myself have been criticized my entire life. I have a hard time remembering a time in my life when I wasn't being judged (which could possibly account for my low self-esteem and time in the counselor's office - ya think?). I guess I feel Madonna's pain, or any body's pain from being criticized by the world. I've stuck up for Lady Gaga a hundred thousand times... I am sick and tired to death of everyone picking on everyone and I just wish we could put some POSITIVE out into the world instead of judgment.

Some of you will say "they are celebrities and fair game," but I think that's a cop out. We are all responsible for our own actions. We all have a choice to be nice, and for me, that's really what it all comes down to. Why can't people just be nice? Because if we're being honest, celebrities aren't the only people we criticize. It is easy to see where teenagers get their criticism of one another from - right from us, the adults who are supposed to be leading them and showing them how to be good, accepting people in this world. Is it really so hard to pay a compliment to somebody?

Seriously, walk a mile in the Material Girl's shoes and think about how "easy" it was to get in front of billions of people to put on the performance of a lifetime. I seriously doubt if the people who are being critical of Madonna could hold a candle to her. She made it look easy, and I'm positive it wasn't. I know she isn't perfect, but neither am I, and neither, I'm guessing, are you...

Monday, February 6, 2012

First Weekend in February Fun 2012

Finally, we got the apple tree trimmed! We have been wanting to get it trimmed since we moved here almost seven years ago... SEVEN YEARS! The poor little thing was in desperate need of trimming, and although we have never trimmed an apple tree before, we did our best. Who knows what will become of it? This is Britt's favorite tree to climb, so hopefully it will come back strong!

And later in the afternoon, Brady did a little "shooting" with his B's. They each took turns shooting the target with his "twenty-two." It was such a beautiful day, it felt like spring for sure! The only fly in the ointment was our little pug, Rosin, who unbeknownst to us, ran away from home. Luckily, a nice pair of older ladies brought her home to us. They found her panting and running down the highway which runs parallel with the freeway, and just took a wild guess that she would be our dog. What a blessing! We learned a good lesson, though - make sure Rosin is in the house before we do any shooting. And the little B's? They are already good shots! They make Big Daddy proud... Truly, he was in his element, helping them. He's a wonderful teacher, and our kids are definitely going to know how to handle a gun properly and how to hit their target. And in today's world? That is a good thing, my friends. A very good thing indeed! (Personally I have no clue how to shoot a gun and no desire to learn, but realistically, I probably SHOULD learn... We'll see!)

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...