Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Decisions

Decisions. I swear they are one of the banes of my existence. Oh my goodness do I ever have a hard time making decisions! I have always struggled with trying to make sure I am making the "right" choice. I recently realized I have a bit of a problem with making decisions when I went to paint my toe nails before the 4th of July. After struggling over which color to paint them for near all day long, I finally picked sparkly black. And before the second coat even dried, I wished I had painted them a different color! But I made the decision, so I stuck with it. Since I can't "decide" what color would be better, they are still sparkly black.

This feeling of being inept with my decision making skills lead me to think about decisions and "making" them and just how many I have to contend with in a day. Truth be told, decisions cause me a lot of stress! I sometimes envy Brady, who makes snap decisions. What a blessing to be able to decide on something quickly and to go forth confidently. On the other hand, sometimes his snap decisions are not always the best, and we end up rearranging things to accommodate a choice made too quickly. I will bend over backwards to make sure I schedule things to best take care of everyone and everything.

You are probably thinking this is a ridiculous thing for me to be contemplating, but it is actually a concern for me, because I never really thought about how much added stress I am causing myself. Do I really need to agonize over every detail of my life? Good grief! You want an example? Okay, I'll give you one. I spent almost an entire week and lost at least three nights of sleep over picking the hotel for our stay in Pendleton. Can you believe that? Literally, I lost sleep over which hotel would be the best for everyone involved. Yes - not even anything important I am getting worked up about!

I used to worry that we put our kids in the wrong school. This, it could certainly be argued, is a more important matter to worry about. But last summer, one of the School Improvement Specialists in the company I work for, JP Associates, Inc., which happens to be an expert company in education, shared with me I shouldn't worry about it. He said to me, "Your kids are bilingual?" I said yes, they were. I have always wondered if it was the right choice to put them in Spanish Immersion, because their English has suffered, and their spelling is atrocious. But he said, "They are set for life. Don't worry about spelling - they'll have computers to help them with that. And if they're bilingual, their brains are wired for success." That made me feel so much better! But why did I need someone else's opinion to make me feel better about what Brady and I had decided four years prior?

Well, it all comes down to striving for perfection, I suppose. It must be the Capricorn in me. I just can't bear the thought of making the wrong choice, although I have done that many, many times! Who hasn't? Still, I am going to have to give myself a break. Because when it comes right down to it, who the hell cares what color I paint my toe nails? Except for me. But since we are on the subject, what is a good color to paint them? Any ideas?

Monday, July 29, 2013

It's Not IF, It's WHEN

My mother-in-law told me years ago, "When you're dealing with horses, it isn't if something is going to happen, it's when." I've never forgotten those words of wisdom, and even if I did, I would be reminded of them time and again. Our most recent reminder happened on Friday to Britt's horse, Mag-Doll. Nothing serious, thank you Lord, and by that I mean it could have been a whole lot worse. But it was definitely not something we would have wished for, that's for sure. The picture of Britt and Maggie above was taken just minutes before the ones below... For some bizarre reason we still don't understand, Brailey's horse Tex tried to back out of the trailer when we got home from riding, even though he was in front of Maggie, and even though we have loaded and unloaded at least a hundred times this summer the exact same way. This caused Maggie (who has been known to pull back a few times before) to do the same thing, but she hadn't yet been untied, so she broke her lead rope and flew out the back of the trailer, hitting her face on the top of the trailer in the process. You see below the result of this particular five seconds in our lives. The two little B's and I stood there for that five seconds in stunned disbelief while it all unfolded. We all kept our cool, got her to the vet straight away, and he fixed her right up. And even though it doesn't look very pretty, she is just fine. Britt was even able to ride her on Sunday, and once again, she was a rock star in the arena and took perfect care of her little boy. Poor Mag-Doll...!
 
The picture above was right after her stitches and staples. Below is from Sunday, a mere two days later. The swelling has already gone down quite a bit. 
 We spent all day Sunday at our first Western Horsemen of Oregon (WHO) show, and had a really good time! The little B's are liking the games, and Brailey is more inspired than ever to become a barrel racer. I filmed all their runs on my phone and had to take these few pictures on it, as well, because my new camera battery died - I still have to buy a spare. In any case, it was a great day! Maggie was even a little fresh (probably from the grain she's been getting with her meds the past couple of days), so Brailey had to "tune her up" for Britt. After Brailey rode her down, Maggie was a perfect angel the rest of the day and took excellent care of her boy Britt. Now they are inspired and ready to improve on their "gaming." Brady and I enjoyed every second of watching them and even ran into some of our friends - another wonderful summer day to remember. And even though we always try to be careful, we are being more careful than ever, because things can happen in the blink of an eye.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Mouse in our House (with 9 lives!)

I have a few fears. Quite a few fears, actually. I'm scared of snakes and lizards. I don't like spiders. I loathe wasps. I am the biggest sissy alive when it comes to nervous horses. Chickens and birds of all manner alarm me. I worry constantly about something happening to someone in my family. I'm afraid of dying. I am extremely scared of heights and have claustrophobia to boot. And I am absolutely terrified of mice. By terrified, I mean the kind of terror that makes your heart jump in your throat, the kind of terror that sets your heart racing and your blood  pressure spiking, puts your hair on end. To put it mildly, mice give me the creeps!

So you can imagine the drama and trauma that occurred last week when we had a mouse in our house. Yes! A mouse right inside our house! And whoever came up with the phrase, "as quiet as a mouse" didn't meet this mouse, who was not quiet at all.

Let me take you back to the beginning of the story, where it all began...

It happened on a beautiful summer afternoon. Brailey and I had just been grocery shopping, and were hauling the groceries inside. As kids are prone to do, Brailey left the door open. And of course, here came Rose, one of our beloved cats. Brailey loves it when the cats come in - she is their biggest fan! She was quite delighted that Rose had snuck in. She happily went to get her, chattering all the way, "Rose, you silly girl. You know you can't be in the house, AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" Suddenly, she let our a deafening scream, for Rose had brought in with her a mouse. Hence, a mouse was now in our house.

At this point, however, I did not realize it was still ALIVE and WELL. And so I went to get it, thinking it was likely near death if Rose had brought it in. Wouldn't you have thought the same thing? So the next person to scream in the house was me, as I came around the corner and saw the mouse skittering along the floor with Rose in hot pursuit behind it.

Once my heart stopped its racing and my blood pressure settled down, I figured the cat would get the mouse and we would be rid of it. But that is not what happened. Oh no, that is not what happened at all. Instead, the mouse ran under the washer and dryer. Great.

And so off we went, that evening, after cautiously making our way out the door. We returned a couple of hours later. It was Britt's turn to have the daylights scared out of him, next. Shortly after we arrived back home, Britt was in the bathroom, and out of nowhere, here came the mouse. "Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!" he yelled. And then the mouse ran down the hallway and into our master bedroom. Thank God, thank God, thank God Brady was home this night. He walked in the door right as the little B's watched the mouse run into our room. And thankfully, the mouse was found and Brady killed it and put it in a plastic bag and threw it in the garbage. I found this a bit odd, but was so relieved to have the mouse gone that I put the worry out of my head.

This is not the end of our story, though...

Praise be, we all got a good night of sleep without the worry of a mouse in the house, (alive at least). The next morning, I got up, drank my first cup of coffee, and thought, "I'd better get that trash out of the house with that stinky mouse in it." And so I lifted the lid, pulled the bag up, and out dropped the mouse, right at my foot, and away it skittered, under the stove!

I screamed, dropped the trash and Brady came running. I explained the situation to him, not happily, as you might imagine. He was leaving, and I was stuck with a mouse in my house, alive and well! What in the world was I going to do?

Well, I'll tell you what I did. I went into my office to do some work and drink my second cup of coffee. Not long after I had sat down, I heard a rustling sound, accompanied by a squeak-squeak. My feet shot up into my chair and my heart resumed its pounding. That damn mouse was in my office! But not for long... He rustled and squeaked his way right into Brailey's room! Brailey was sleeping, but not soundly, because she had heard my scream from earlier. She, too, heard the mouse, which went under her bed. She came out and said, "Mom, I think the mouse is under my bed!" We brought the only cat we could find outside into the house, Gaga, and put her in Brailey's room, hoping she would get the mouse. She didn't.

Shortly after this, Britt woke up and came out of his room. And shortly after he came out of his room, we discovered the mouse was in his room! We moved Gaga into Britt's room and went to have breakfast. As the little B's sat there, once again we heard the skittering and squeaking noises. And there was the mouse, running along the wall in the living room.

By this point, I knew it was up to me. The poor little thing was field mouse, and he was as terrified as us, I am sure. I don't like to kill things. I'm not a hunter. But on this day, I had to kill my first mouse. And so I got my broom, the little B's moved the couch for me, and all of sudden there he was back on the other wall, and we watched him running back and forth and back and forth and under the TV and back out and I gathered up my courage and I whacked him with the broom! And he jumped up and down and I whacked him again and he kept jumping and I kept whacking and the B's were yelling "Ahhhhh!" And Rosin was chasing Gaga, who ran back to the bedrooms and I yelled "Die you son of a bitch, die!" and kept whacking until he finally stopped jumping. It seemed like hours! He was one hell of a tough mouse, let me tell you.

His nose was still twitching, at this point, but Britt helped me scoop him onto the dustpan, then accidentally dropped him and we all screamed again and then re-scooped him up and Britt threw him outside. Britt is convinced he is actually the one who killed him, because the mouse hit the tree when he threw him from the dust pan, and that is when his nose stopped twitching.

Believe it or not, the little guy continued to disturb us. That afternoon, as I was watering flowers, I stepped right on him! "Crunch," right under my foot. I screamed again, the morning's trauma still fresh in my mind. Brailey confessed she had done the same thing earlier, and said, "That mouse is still torturing us, even in death!" I had Britt come and scoop him over the fence for us, and we all breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Am I a sissy, you ask? Yes. I certainly am. But guess what? I ADMIT IT! And now the kids know why it is important to keep the doggone door shut. My mom had a similar situation happen to her with her cat Charlie a couple of years ago - he actually brought a snake into her house! My dad just happened to see him do it, though, and got the snake out quickly. My dad  is much tougher than I am, though, and not scared of snakes nor of mice. I didn't like killing the poor little feller, but it had to be done. I mopped and vacuumed the floors, sterilizing as best I could, trying not to let the germ phobia I have overtake my mind completely.

And now you know the story of the mouse in our house. Have you ever heard of a mouse surviving so many deaths? I pray it never happens again - my nerves might not be able to handle it!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Brailey's First 4-H Fair, Day Three

This was the day Brailey really wanted to win, and this is where she shines - Western Equitation! Most of this day was spent waiting around for her class, including an impromtu lunch break that set everything back an hour. That meant we had two warm ups. But it was all good! Brailey Shaye was as serious and confident as she could be - she was ready. The only thing she was worried about was if I would manage to get her class filmed, after the Trail Class mishap with my camera. Therefore, she asked her dad to be on backup filming duty with his phone. 
At Pre-Fair, she learned a good lesson. I had told her to be the first one in line during her class. But she got nervous, and so she went in the middle, and she got jammed up in the other horses and "broke gait," as they say. The reason I wanted her to be the first one in is because Tex is a fast trotter. He isn't a show horse, and he likes to move quickly. So this time, as you can see, there she is, at the front of the pack. Can you tell by the way she is sitting on her horse that she is confident and ready? And far more natural on her horse. Just sayin'... (Hey, I'm her mother, and this is my blog - I get to brag if I want to!)
And guess what? She and Tex did an amazing job, and WON HER CLASS! She was second in her class at Pre-Fair, and won a red, so this blue was truly appreciated and well-deserved. She rode so well and made a beautiful pattern! Her goal was to win, and she did! And we are all thrilled! This judge was a bit nicer than the judge she had the day before, and Brailey made sure to dazzle her with a smile in addition to her excellent riding. The blue ribbon and win took some of the sting out of our disappointment in the overall 4-H Horse Fair. When they called her name, everyone cheered and whooped and hollered for her - more than any other rider the entire day, so that was super cool, as well. She impressed a lot of people! We think we are probably done with Horse 4-H, at this point. However, we are very inspired for the future and can't wait to work on new things and to learn even more. The possibilities are endless! And that blue ribbon made us all HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Brailey and Tex - Showmanship at First 4-H Fair, Linn County

Britt and Maggie's First Pole Bending Run Ever

Brailey's First 4-H Fair, Days One and Two

 After the fun of Saturday's Playday, it was time to get to work on Sunday. Although we spent nearly all week preparing, we still had a lot to do to get checked in and moved in. Watching Brailey clean her saddle reminded me of when I did Horse 4-H and I had to clean mine - I didn't enjoy it, and she didn't like it too much, either. However, she did an excellent job, and by the time she was done, her saddle was as clean and shiny as it could possibly be. 
 We made some decorations for her stall, although ours were actually quite pitiful compared to other ones - we didn't know what to expect, so we kept it simple. The theme for this year's fair was "Red, White and Blue, this fair is for you!" She made her informative poster about, what else? Horse teeth and the importance of having them done. 
 And that brings us to Monday, the busiest of the days. First, she had Showmanship. She did a great job! She and Tex both looked sparkly and shiny. They are such a cute pair, these two...
 Her 4-H Leader, Kim!
 Proof she was smiling at the judge! The judges were extremely picky and stingy with their ribbons (a blog post for another day), and there were only two blue ribbons given out in Showmanship for the juniors and novice kiddos (I'm talking about 40-50 kids, here). Brailey was one point away from a blue! However, she made such huge improvements from Pre-Fair (she got a white), it is unbelievable. 
 Next, we had the Trail Class. This was a very tricky course, but Brailey studied it and was ready to go. Nobody would go first, because they wanted to see someone else do it before they had to. But Brailey bucked up and did it first, and did it correctly! She accomplished every single obstacle. Sadly, I thought I was filming the entire thing, but I wasn't. New camera growing pains. Ahhhhhhh! We are all sick that I didn't get it on film. But she did so well! She also improved her score on this from Pre-Fair and earned another red ribbon (Pre-Fair was her first time, and she got a white). In fact, she was only five points away from a blue. (Did I mention the judge was a stickler?)
 From Trail, we moved on to her Photography Project and went to her interview. She entered three pictures, which we spent all last week picking, printing and preparing. 4-H is a lot of work! Luckily, the timing with her horse show worked out perfectly, and she was able to be interviewed - we were afraid she would have to just turn her pictures in with a written description of what she had learned. She was so cute in this interview, and what a great experience for her! We are looking forward to seeing the results on Friday. 
 And last but not least for the day, she had her Horse Knowledge class. We thought she aced this class! It was truly a piece of cake for her. But once again, the judge was a perfectionist, and even though Brailey knew all the answers and completed all the maneuvers, she earned a red ribbon. Upon further reflection, she is so comfortable with Tex, she wasn't as careful as 4-H people prefer. 4-H folks are somewhat narrow-minded, and if something isn't done to the letter of the book, points are docked. There is absolutely no room for error in 4-H. (Can you tell we are a little disillusioned by this point? Like I said, another post down the road...) 
 Our happy girl! She has been growing like a weed this summer, though, and her toes are at the end of her boots. After all the walking and standing, her feet were on fire! She soaked them in cold water when we got home. She has a bigger pair of boots to move into, but we wanted to keep the same ones she has been practicing in. It was a very busy day, but a super successful one! We are more than proud of our Brailey Shaye, and not because of how she did, but because she has been working so hard. She earned those red ribbons! 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

4-H Practice and Playday

It sure has been a wild ride (pun intended!) this summer when it comes to our horses. Brailey's beloved horse Tex came up lame at the beginning of June, and we didn't know if he would be ready for her 4-H Fair or not. So in the meantime, she has been riding Maggie and Alvin and then we got the go-ahead from our vet to ride Tex a couple of weeks ago, and just in the nick of time. So needless to say, I have kept the little B's busy, busy, busy this summer, riding their horses every day. Last week, we not only worked on our trail and showmanship and western equitation, we also prepared for their first "Playday." We have mainly been focusing on Brailey's 4-H riding, so the gaming aspect, which is what the Playday was, didn't get as much attention. However, time in the saddle is really all that matters, and now they both have the "gaming bug!" Above, you see them practicing the trail course down at the Hartley's barn. And below, practice at a different arena for poles, barrels, figure 8 and key race. 
 Britt and Mag-Doll, learning the poles. 
Brailey and her baby, Texi-Man. We have to be careful with him, so she took it easy. But that is about the speed she needs to go, right now. Once he gets healed up, she will be ready to go faster, as well. 
 Brady got to come to one last practice before the big day of gaming fun. Britt was a happy boy to see his dad!
 And here they are, ready to roll! They were both nervous, Britt especially. It was his first time doing anything like this, and Maggie's, too! Brady was also nervous, believe it or not. After it was all over, he admitted he was worried about how Maggie would handle being in a new place with Britt. Well, guess what? She totally impressed us all, and handled it like a pro! She did everything Britt asked her to do, and wasn't the least bit ruffled by the strange place. She was perfect!
Britt was the only boy entered.
 Because we were late entries, Brailey and Britt were back-to-back in every event. I filmed while Brady helped them in and out of the arena. It was so great to have him there with us! 
 Happy kids after the fact...! Brailey ended up placing in a couple of events, and her confidence went up every single event. She is really excited for Tex to make a full recovery so they can start their barrel racing career. And Britt had a great time, much to his surprise, and he was so proud of his horse! She did everything he asked her to do (including going around the barrels in a pattern he designed himself  - the announcer didn't know any better, so Britt got a time, anyway. I told him he's the only person I know to do the pattern incorrectly and still get a time!). Brady and I had a ball watching them do their thing, and the best part was how well they handled their horses. They were in control through every event, and a lot of kids weren't. At all. Anyway, it was a great day, and one we will never forget! 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Fourth of July Family Fun

If you know me at all or have followed this blog for a year or two, then you already know the 4th of July is my favorite holiday - I love it! This year we started our celebration a bit early. Brailey made some treats for a visit with our beloved Lamberts in the spirit of patriotism a few days before the 4th. They were harder to make than she thought they would be, but oh-so-delicious! She also made a toffee bar pie with coconut and pecans. She loves to cook, this girl! She added M&M's to the recipe, which gave it a lot of extra flavor. They were yummy!
 And so in the middle of the week, we made our way to... Can you guess, from the lamps? Yes! Pendleton! Brady judged their PBR for the second year, and we had an even bigger time, this year, because we got to see my niece Lanie, who lives there, and Gramma and Papa came up, as well. It was a family reunion! (The lamps above are now in Hamley's, the world famous western store in Pendleton. I am so thrilled I can hardly stand it! It is a dream-come-true for me to get these into Hamley's.)
 The B's and the PBR clown, Matt Merritt. (Ironic, considering we were just in Merritt, BC a month ago, don't you think?) He did a great job and was super fun to watch. Britt and Brady have seen him several times, now, and according to them, he is funny every time!
 Gramma and Papa, with their first born granddaughter, Lanie. Isn't this a great picture? They were so thrilled to see her and to spend a couple of days with her! Look - Papa is even smiling for the camera! That is a true miracle, folks, it really is. They had a wonderful time hanging out with Lanie. She is doing GREAT! She looks more beautiful than ever, and is doing really well, all on her own out in the real world. Below you see her with her friend, Alex.
 The National Anthem is so cool at Happy Canyon - impressive!
 The two cousins... Oldest and youngest girls in the family. We had all hoped the middle girl in the family, Lexi, would be able to come with Gramma and Papa and hang out with us, too, but she had a basketball tournament in Spokane. We were all bummed she couldn't be there! Still, we had a great time, even though we really did miss Lexi and wished she was there.
Me and my two "First Borns." Lanie was MY BABY when she was little - I thought the sun rose and set on her alone, and I loved every single second I spent with her when she was a "young'en." I still love every single second I spend with her. 
 
Backstage at the PBR the first night. It was a two night show, so we got to spend a couple of days in Pendleton. Above, you see the two "posers," and then Brady doing the the draw. 
  We found an awesome pair of boots for Brady at Hamley's. I thought they were pretty groovy, and they actually fit Brady's feet, which is another miracle, because he has a hard time finding boots that feel comfortable to him. Hey - he has to look good selling that silver!
 We had two afternoons in the pool. The water was perfect, the weather was perfect... We couldn't have asked for anything better! There were quite a few people playing in the pool nearly all day long on the 4th. Brady said not to worry, he would get them out when we were ready to swim, and sure enough! After a few cannon balls and water guns, we had the pool almost entirely to ourselves! To be fair, the other folks did spend all morning and the early part of the afternoon in it, so it was our turn, right? 
 And here we have some candid family pictures from the second performance. Gramma and Papa were more than happy to pose with Lanie. They spent the entire day with her, watching the barrel race, mostly. We met them for a delicious Mexican lunch and later on, talked Gramma in to taking a quick dip in the pool. They love, love, LOVE this girl! We all do - it was a real treat to see her and to spend time together in a relaxed, loving, stress-free and fun atmosphere.
Notice the "Roughie" in the background. We were so happy to introduce it to Lanie, what Papa calls our "Mexican Van." Lanie's friend Alex loves it! So did a kid at the gas station in Arlington on our way home - he offered to buy it right then and there! You can only imagine how happy this made Brady... Over a year later, and he is still bragging on his precious van. Amazing! It was fun to chauffer everyone around in it, though. We have plenty of room! Lanie was impressed with our ceiling lights. Hey - what can we say? Roughie is an impressive van!
 The boys...
 The girls!
Britt came to say hi - he was Brady's helper during the performances, and ran the judging sheets back and forth.
Milkshake time at Denny's! Both nights, after the show, we headed to Denny's for some dessert. Britt got this hat at the parade earlier in the day, and in the spirit of the 4th, wore it into the restaurant. It was a special time spent together - a mini family reunion, for sure! 

So Far, So Good

The first two weeks of school are under our belts, we are well into the third already and so far, so good! Honestly, I wasn't sure wha...