Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Relay for Life - Team Ehlers Construction

On Friday evening, we had a great time participating in the Relay for Life as part of the Ehlers Construction team. We got these awesome shirts and walked for an hour on the track, logging in eleven laps at a pretty fast clip. We had never done this before, and it was truly a wonderful experience for all of us. There were thousands of people, fun booths and a lot of emotion. It was good for my B's to see the children who have cancer and to watch them walk the first lap as Survivors - they had no idea kids could get cancer, too. The event was good for all four of us, and it really made us appreciate and count our blessings.  A big thank you from The 4 B's to Ehlers Construction for allowing us to be on the team and to experience something so special!

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Man From New York Who Isn't My Boss

Allow me to introduce to you my boss, even though he says he isn't, Doug Blancero, Senior Vice President of JP Associates, Inc. Doug is the one in the lavender shirt, and he's standing next to one of JP's rock star School Improvement Specialists, Desmond Bobbett. They spent the past week in Eugene, Oregon at the ADI Conference. I was thrilled to see Doug, whom I only get to see in person once a year but talk to on the phone plenty, and to meet Desmond for the first time. They are both a lot of fun to be around!
After the conference was over, the little B's and I kidnapped Doug and brought him out to our homestead before taking him to the airport. Doug is GREAT with kids, and my kids have loved him since they met him last summer. He is wildly entertaining and could literally be a stand up comedian. He's originally from Brooklyn, so some of his words are a bit different than my B's are used to hearing, but he had us all laughing so hard, Brailey said her stomach was killing her. Doug is a super fun person and a great boss, even though he isn't my boss...
Enjoying a light snack before we gave Doug a tour of the "ranch."
Britt is showing Doug the super cool "Tree Platform" that Brady is building for the little B's. I mistakenly called it a "Tree House," and Britt corrected me with "Tree Platform," which is much more accurate, at this point, of course, but funny, as well. Doug was a trooper, stomping through all the horse poo in his town shoes without a single word of complaint! He even climbed over the gate, because somebody (a boy whose name starts with a B) told him the gate didn't work... The gate does work, and I was quite mortified, but Doug handled it like a country boy.
Here you see Doug teasing Brailey about her "favorite" gold fish that died and she was "too lazy to bury it." Serious giggles!
Of course we had to show Doug the famous "van!"
Here you see him with Maggie. We had to prove to him once and for all that horses do not stink! He fell in love with Maggie and thought she was a sweetheart, and Maggie loved the attention.
Brady had Doug shooting a target with Brailey's pink BB gun - he nailed the target!
Me and the man from New York who isn't my boss.
We delivered Doug in fashion to the Eugene Airport. And he loves our beloved van! We had so much fun with him, and I can't wait until we travel to New York, someday, and he shows us all the sights in his neck of the woods. In the meantime, I think Doug likes Oregon country. After all, what's not to love?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Horseback Riding at the Hartley's

Just some fun candids from our time down at the Hartley's outdoor arena last week. It had just rained the night before, so the ground was absolutely perfect, and it wasn't too hot or too cold, so the weather was just right, too. All four of us took turns swapping horses and riding. If only we had more time, we would be down there every single day. We love our Hartley family and we are so grateful for their friendship!
 Britt on Tex and Brailey Shaye on Maggie .

  Brady, Britt and Hope Hartley - she was trying this pony out. He's a cutie!

The three kiddos - oldest, middle and youngest - tall, medium and short.
They had a big time riding and chatting!
Hartley horses checking out the action.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Accepting Narcissism

Is it possible? I'm not sure... My head says, "Yes, you have to accept it." My heart says, "No, there is always hope." You may be wondering what I am talking about. Well. Let me tell you...

Earlier this spring, I had a painful emotional experience with someone I've come to realize suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Of course they've never been officially diagnosed with this disorder, since most people with this affliction never are, due to their narcissistic tendencies. I came to this conclusion myself, as a means of coming to terms with the emotional pain that was eating me alive. And I ran across an article (you can read it for yourself by clicking here, in case you are interested in narcissism) which greatly helped me understand the situation I found myself in. We all have narcissistic tendencies, but the difference between a "normal" person and someone afflicted with narcissism is that normal people have compassion - narcissists have none. And until I learned this useful bit of information, none of my coping skills gave me relief from the emotional turmoil I was experiencing.

Truth be told, I still have emotional pain regarding this particular situation - I probably always will. And that's okay, because it means I have the ability to care about people other than myself. That's a blessing!

The whole mess started a few years ago when this person hurt me deeply with some hateful words. Whoever said "words can never hurt me" must not have ever been the target of verbal abuse. I'll take sticks and stones over hurtful words any day. Anyway, I managed to get by on anger and resentment for a while, but I gradually came to see forgiveness. It might take me a little time, but I can always come to forgive. I know resentments only hurt the one who harbors them, and whenever I find myself struggling with the concept of forgiveness, I remember a homily one of my favorite priests gave. This Father said, "God commands us to forgive. He doesn't tell us to forgive if we want to - he commands it." He went on to say how hard this is for us as humans and that it does take time, but ultimately, we must forgive. Granted, I have a lot of character defects, but holding resentments isn't one of them.

In reaching my state of forgiveness (don't think I believe I'm perfect - I know I had a part in the whole mess, but in this instance, I can honestly say I walked the high road), I made the mistake of reaching out to the one who had hurt me. Four times, I reached out. And my efforts were met with complete resistance and, worse, contempt and criticism. Let me tell you, when you make a heartfelt effort to reach out to someone, and they essentially make fun of you for it, it hurts. Like I said, I'll take the sticks and stones, thank you very much.

In my state of heartache, I remembered something Dr. Drew said on his show, one time. He said there is no hope for narcissists, because they always think they are right, and no matter what you say, they will never relent from their position or change their mind, nor will they ever take responsibility for their actions. I remember Dr. Drew clearly saying there is absolutely no help for this kind of person.

This memory of Dr. Drew's comment inspired me to look narcissism up, and thus, I found the article I referenced above. As I read the piece, everything about the person I have been dealing with came into focus and made sense. All the craziness and mind boggling behavior finally made sense. The way I was feeling as a result made sense. And finally, for the first time in years, I felt emotional peace. Everything about the situation came into focus. I was able to look at things that had happened in the past with this person and understand what had really transpired.

I can't say learning about NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) has completely healed the hole in my heart. It is still a bitter pill to swallow. But viewing the behavior of this person as coming from a sick, damaged person is much healthier for me than trying to find a way to get through to the heart of this person, or to beat myself up trying to find a way to reconcile. That is the hardest part for me -accepting the fact there will never be a reconciliation, because narcissists are incapable of changing or of caring about anyone other than themselves. That might sound immature of me to say, but if you read about NPD, you'll find it is the hallmark of the disorder. Narcissists only care about themselves, and they will do whatever it takes to make sure they come out on top of every situation. In their minds, at least.

For now, my mind is at peace. My heart still carries an ache, and I suspect it always will. But at least I'm not wracked with unbearable emotional pain. And at least I have some insight and understanding. And maybe you, like me, have someone in your life who suffers from NPD. And if you do, I hope this information will help you, too.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Growing Kitties

Our little kittens are getting so big! Jack and Rose are the most adventurous, of course, but they're the oldest, too. Little Gaga is getting more confident every day and has started coming out of the barn on her own. As you can see, they are all buddies. These kittens have provided some great entertainment for us. They are hysterical, friendly and mischievious. Let's hope they turn out to be good hunters!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Little Monsters

No, not Lady Gaga's fan club... I'm talking about other kids.

Before I was a mother, I loved every single kid I saw. In fact, I loved every child so much, I couldn't fathom people who didn't. I can still remember a certain precocious boy in the first school I ever worked in that I desperately wanted to take home for my own. He was a foster child, and I would have given my left arm to be his foster mom, but it wasn't meant to be, of course - at twenty-three, I was too young and dumb and selfish. I can still remember the day he came running out of the lunchroom and onto the playground straight into my arms, yelling, "I got a Lunch Buddy, I got a Lunch Buddy!" I teared up as he enveloped me in a big hug and then joyfully went on his way to play. I was so in love with that little boy, sometimes I still think about him.

And then of course there is my oldest niece, whom I thought the sun rose and set on . From the second she was born, I loved her like she was my very own. My feelings towards her actually took me by surprise, at the time, because I had just graduated from college and was very much into myself, trying to figure out my life and what I was going to do with it. She must have opened my eyes to all the other kiddos in the world, though, because from that point on, I was smitten with "all the little children of the world," just like the song.

Fast forward to today, however, and I am just like all the folks I used to criticize in my head. Ironic, isn't it? Frankly, the list of kids I like today is pretty short, with my own B's at the top of the list and seldom few underneath. I don't know how this happened to me. I always believed I would love kids in general no matter if I had my own or not. Let me tell you, I was oh-so-wrong.

I do like my friend's kids, but frankly, I'm pretty picky about who my friends are. And I've been really, really lucky that both of my kids have naturally gravitated towards nice kids all on their own. In fact, I like all their friends, and it is because of their friendships that I've developed new ones of my own. And of course I thank God every day for the blessing of my twin, whose children are family to us.

The problem for me occurs with kids I don't know, with all the little monsters whose parents I am not friends with and whose home lives I know nothing about. Little monsters who play with my B's and influence them in ways I would prefer they not be influenced. Little monsters who scream and yell and buck authority and behave disrespectfully. For the most part, I manage to bite my tongue and endure the stress their behavior causes me. When I see it affecting my B's, though, the fire in me comes out, and I cannot control myself from intervening.

Some might say that is what this is really all about - my need for control. And I would agree, there is a grain (okay, more than a grain) of truth to this. However, I think it also comes from my need for respect, and there are so many disrespectful brats in the world today, I shudder to think of what will happen when they are grown adults, running the world. And this line of thought leads me to think of their parents, and their lack of parenting skills, and the big question - why do so many parents today let their children act like heathens?

The short answer to this is because they are selfish and lazy - so many parents today are all about themselves, checking their phones for voicemail and text messages, letting their kids do whatever they want while they ignore them. I see so many parents who are not present with their kids, and yes, I judge them. Because while they're busy doing what they're doing, their kids are busy being brats, and for kids, bad attention is better than no attention. So there they go, behaving like little monsters, influencing my own children with their total disregard.

Thankfully, my kids know my limits, and it has been fairly easy to rein them in when I've felt they were out of control. Although this has taken a few years to accomplish, to be honest. It started back in kindergarten, with Britt, when he was on a tee ball team with out-of-control kids who nearly drove me to the edge of hysteria and a coach who let them run rampant. I'm proud to say that today, Britt respectfully tries behave when I have to rope him in. And my darling Brailey Shaye instinctively knows how to carry herself with dignity and poise.

So what do I do when we inevitably come into contact with other kids who are out of control? Well, I try to control myself as much as I can, and I bite my tongue to the point of severing it off. And then I've had enough, and I shock everyone and intervene.

The other side of this issue is that I just need to let my kids be kids and do what they will and get into trouble on their own so they can learn from their mistakes. I know this is true. For me, though, it all comes down to respect, and I think I do my kids more good than not by teaching them how to behave appropriately. And I'm proud to say, they "get it." My B's know what is appropriate behavior and what is not, and they still manage to have plenty of fun. But when I say, for example, "no shoving," or "stop screaming," they listen to me. And if the kids they are playing with see this and don't take the hint? Well, what can we say? Eventually, I tell them, too. Because I'm bossy and I'm controlling and I just can't accept bratty behavior.

I remember one of my mom's older friends telling her once that when she had little kids, she couldn't stand the older kids, and then when she had older kids, she couldn't stand the younger ones, but once she had grown kids, she loved them all. I wonder if that will happen to me? Only time will tell...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Cottage Grove Rodeo 2012

After taking a hiatus from the Cottage Grove Rodeo for the past few years, we found ourselves there this past weekend - Brady was asked to fill in as the flagger. So, we loaded up, and away we went (a mere twenty minutes down the freeway)! The weather was perfect, the rodeo went well and we all had a great time. There was a mess of hay bales for Britt to play on, which some nice teenage boys arranged into a super cool fort one night, and Brailey was thrilled to ride her horse. We took Maggie with us for the first time, and she handled it like a pro, which was very encouraging. One of our good friends won the Hide Race, which was great entertainment, and we caught up with lots of rodeo friends. Although we had been looking forward to having a free weekend, the rodeo went super smooth and we enjoyed ourselves immensely and now we have more wonderful memories for the Memory Book. What can we say? It was a great weekend!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Brady's Latest Pride and Joy

No, it isn't our kids or a horse... It's his new hot rod, "The Van!" Brady is head over heels in love with this rig, and Britt is right behind him. In fact, Britt wants this to be "his car" when he gets old enough to drive. I can just imagine the look on his Prom Date's Parents' faces when he pulls up in this... Brailey loves it too, although she and I are more reserved in our affection for it. All kidding aside, this van has been the source of a lot of joy for us. I haven't seen Brady this excited over a vehicle ever!

It all started back in April when my niece came to run the Eugene Half-Marathon. We were down by the University searching for Lanie at a checkpoint and then making a mad dash to find her at the finish. Brady spied this van on a side street, and unbelievably, it was for sale! He had been looking for vans for quite some time, and we'd looked at some real doozies. So the kids and I were following Lanie's friend, Anna, who was on a mission to get to the finish and not waiting for anything, and Brady was left without a cell phone, since he had given his to Britt. He didn't even have a scrap of paper or anything to write with. As luck would have it, though, he spied an old broken CD on the ground, and he used his pocketknife to scratch the number listed on the for sale sign into the CD.

Long story short, he bought the van, and he loves it like you would not believe! He used to have a van back when he was riding bulls and bareback horses, and right before I met him, he had planned on buying one. Twelve years later, he has his van! Although it is a super nice van, Brady's obsession with it has been extremely entertaining. Brailey and I have gotten used to riding around in it, and we have to admit it is much more comfortable than our pickup.

Brady is truly obsessed with the thing, though, and shows it to everyone we see. "Have you seen my new van?" In fact, he talked about it the entire drive in to mass for Britt's First Communion to my dad, who had the honor of sitting next to Brady in the front seat - this was about a twenty minute ride. My mom and I sat in the back and giggled about my dad's responses. My dad is less impressed with the van than Brady would like, but he did his best to appear interested. As we pulled into the church parking lot, Brady said, "I like to park the van right up front at church." You should have seen my dad's head whip around! Brady was only kidding, of course, but it was hysterical for my mom and I to see.

I can't tell you how many people Brady has shown his van to. We affectionately refer to it as "The Hulkster," since it is big and green. Sometimes we call it "The Honey Comb." Britt thinks it is funny to call it "The Honey Bucket," but that doesn't set well with Brady.

Brady isn't the only one who is impressed with it. We made a quick trip to Taco Bell late one evening last week after a long day full of activity, and as we pulled up to the window in the drive-up, the guy working behind the counter said, "Wow, that's a nice big van you've got there - that's really nice!" I couldn't believe it - even the Taco Bell worker is impressed. So that is the story of Brady's latest pride and joy. If you know him at all or have seen him recently, then you've likely already heard everything there is to know about it. But the very best thing of all? It's paid for!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Fourth of JUUUU-ly 2012

Anyone who knows me well knows the 4th of July is my favorite holiday, and this year was the best celebration I can remember. It was aweseome! We found ourselves in Pendleton for their first 4th of July PBR event this year, and it was not only amazing, it was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! There were two nights of bull riding, and Brady got to work with his favorite judge, Clint Corey. We called the trip our Mini Family Vacation, and enjoyed every second of it.
We love looking at all the big windmills along the gorge. I snapped this picture as were driving along I-84. The B's read for most of the trip, but near the end, I let them play on Brailey's new iPod Touch. Thank you Uncle Brian and Jaden for helping Brailey get some "apps" on there before our trip!

We stayed at a hotel that had the most adorable pool, and it was heated! We went swimming seconds after we arrived. Although we actually drove through rain on our way to Pendleton, the weather turned nice when we arrived, and with the warm water in the pool, it was perfect!
My handsome son and beautiful daughter and their handsome dad the first night of PBR action. It was held at Happy Canyon, which is famous for the Happy Canyon Pageant held during Roundup Week. It was super windy to start with, but thankfully the wind died down near the end.

Britt and his new friend, Zane Corey (Clint Corey's youngest), showing respect during the National Anthem. They were so cute, chatting it up about everything under the sun...
The next day, we had a great time hanging out downtown and watching the parade. This super cool boot sits outside the World Famous Hamley's western store. Later, this nice couple let us sit in their pickup to watch the parade. The weather was gorgeous!

There was a barrel race inside the Roundup Arena, and we saw ran into several friends while we checked out the action. They built a brand new section of bleachers this past year, and they are gorgeous. We stood under the renowned "Let 'Er Buck" painting and posed for a picture.
After a quick dip in the pool, we headed back downtown for lunch and ran into these cowboys, who were kind enough to let us get a picture with them. The one behind Britt is Travis Briscoe, and it was fun to meet him after seeing him on TV so many times. He was, of course, a great gentleman! We found another cool boot at a different store - are they fun or what?!

And after lunch, more swimming! The kids got a ton of swimming in. We had the pool to ourselves the entire time we we were in it, which was great!
The second night of action, The 4th of JUUU-ly! The bull Brady and Britt are scratching was so nice - I want him! He came up to the fence while we were walking by, and Brady bravely reached out to scratch him, which the bull loved! So then Britt did some petting/scratching. Brailey even "touched" him for a brief second. After we left, city slickers who saw Brady and Britt came up and did their own scratching. Brady started a great trend! He was such a nice bull - I would love to own him. What a rare treat!

Our Cody Ford rode both of his bulls the second night. He scared the H-E-DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS out of me on the first one (I though he got stepped on), but he was fine. The crowd went wild when he rode his second one - he's from Hermiston, so he was like their hometown boy! It was awesome, and I'm so happy he did so well.
On our way home, we did something we've always wanted to do - we stopped by Multnomah Falls. It was great! We didn't realized there was a big hike up behind it you can take, which everyone wanted to go on. It was a mile long, STRAIGHT UPHILL, and Brailey and I had our flip flops on, so it was a bit hard on our feet. Truly, it is a gruelling hike, but fun. The head of the falls was closed due to a rock slide, but at least there was a nice area to play in once we made it to the top. NEXT TIME I will be wearing my Under Armors!

Brady was a little tired, here... It is almost as tough to come down as it is to go up! But we MADE IT, and we are so glad we did. The B's enjoyed a nice, delicious snow cone afterwards. It is a Mini Fourth of July Vacay we will always remember. Happy Birthday, America!

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...