Wednesday, September 18, 2013

First Grade, Sixth Grade - Deja Vu

When Brailey was in first grade, she would cry every day that I dropped her off in her classroom. And I would cry, too. And now, here she is in middle school, a mature sixth grade beauty, and as she leaves the car, calling, "I love you," I find myself choking back the tears again. Every single day. I know - can you believe it?!

Middle school has not been the happy transition for Brailey that is has been for most of her friends. Granted, we are only in our second week of the school year, but it has been a rougher start than I anticipated. Rewind to before school started, during Sixth Grade Orientation...

I believe I mentioned that Brailey's very dearest friend, Carrie, called her shortly before the Western States Stock Horse show and broke the news to her that she was moving and going to a different school. It was the saddest phone conversation I've ever heard. The minute she got off the phone, Brailey cried. And cried and cried and cried. It was heartbreaking. Britt and I neither one knew what to do other than to offer comfort to her.

Ever since she graduated from fifth grade, I have put the concept of middle school on ignore in my mind. This is how I cope with things I don't want to deal with. I ignore anything I don't want to accept until I am forced to accept it. I shouldn't have done this with regard to middle school.

Alas, we cheerfully went about our business on the day of the Orientation. We got our back-to-school haircuts, we ran errands, and we arrived at Brailey's new school, ready to get her schedule and locker and to get prepared for the first day of school. All of a sudden, Brailey was nervous and quiet. It was a stressful environment. We basically had to figure out where to go, what line to get in first, and it was loud with lots of lines of sixth graders and their parents. It was, as I like to refer to it now, The Great Unknown. One of my friends came over to us in one of the lines, and we hugged and talked about how sad it was that Carrie wasn't going to be there. And then I looked at Brailey, and she was choking back the tears, her little angel-face red from the effort it was costing her. That got me... But I held it together!

We made our way to the sixth grade hallway to find her locker. A very sweet eighth grade girl led us to it and showed us how to open it. And that is when my dander went up. The locker had marker on the outside of it, and the inside was so filthy and disgusting, I can't even begin to explain to you what a shock it was. I was, quite frankly, livid. There was old food in it, and stains that will not be cleaned until they are painted over. In any case, we made our way to her first classroom, and then on to the next, and then we got lost, and ended up in the seventh grade french teacher's classroom, and out of nowhere, I found myself in tears! I was not prepared for this to happen at all. Brailey was crying, also. I tried desperately to pull myself together for her. Britt later told me he had felt like crying, too, because he felt so bad for us. The very nice french teacher gave us tissues and I explained that we were lost and upset about the locker and la-la-la. She kindly took us to every classroom on Brailey's schedule, and as we parted, she went to the office to report the locker. We will always be grateful to this teacher for her kindness.

As soon as we got home, I emailed the school and told them the locker was unacceptable. I wouldn't hang a cleaning rag in it! After a few haggles, they agreed to give her a new locker, which we made a special trip to see the next day and to practice opening. I learned they hadn't even cleaned the lockers before the sixth graders arrived. So they cleaned them the day after the orientation, the same day we arrived to see Brailey's new locker, which was much cleaner and newer, but a "double," and sporting a gynormous dried booger on the front of it. Still, it was so much better than the previous locker, we didn't complain. However, someone needs to take the cleaning of the lockers much more seriously. I sent her with cleaning wipes to get the booger off.

The first day of school proved to be an emotional one, as well. It reminded me of first grade all over again. Staff members met us at the front door and asked us to "say our goodbyes there." If I had it to do again, I would have walked her to her locker, whether they liked it or not. But I did what they asked, sucking my tears down. Brailey sucked her tears down, as well, and went off on her way. The look on her face was nearly more than I could bear, but I wanted to do the right thing and let her spread her wings a little. I cried the second she left and for a good portion of the day. I walked her to the front door every day for the rest of the week. Even though I was the only parent I saw doing this. Brailey held my hand the entire way, and it broke my heart to leave her there, knowing she was full of fear and sadness. But she got a little stronger every day and survived her first week.

And now here we are in our second week. It is slowly getting better, but she continues to pull tears out of my heart (okay, my eyes, too) every morning. She is being strong and trying hard, but still struggling to adjust. So am I. Yet she is looking forward to trying out for the school play. Volleyball starts this weekend. She made a new friend in PE. Several girls have actually given her compliments, which never happened at Buena Vista. One girl Brailey thought was super mean has been surprisingly nice to her this year. She is learning how to be Brailey-without-Carrie. I didn't realize how much of her identity was wrapped up in their friendship, and I now know it is a blessing for her to become Brailey Shaye sans Carrie. I think the tears will dry up as the days go by. She doesn't know I'm still crying (even as I'm writing this, damn it!), and so I think I'm pulling off that strong mother act. In the meantime, we are taking it one day at a time.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

It's Tough to be Brady Murray, Sometimes

I mean! Brady leads such a rough life. I don't know how the poor man survives his job... I mean, look at him! He had to sit in the "royal" seats at the Pendleton Roundup, yesterday. What man could survive those kinds of working conditions?!

But you know what? He deserves every good fortune that comes his way. In reality, he works harder than every man I know. My dad was a work-a-holic, and still is, even in "retirement," as he calls it. Sometimes it just seems normal to me for Brady to work as hard as he does, because I grew up with a hard working dad. The truth is, it isn't normal, and when most guys are putting their feet up and taking a load off, as they say, Brady is still hard at it. In fact, the man doesn't even know how to relax!

My little B's and I are blessed that he works so hard to provide for his family. I am so happy for him to have a job with perks like this - he loves what he does (Montana Silversmiths, if you didn't know), and it shows, and he deserves every single good thing that comes his way!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

For Me, It's You - One of My Favorite Train Songs

I realized yesterday after my blog post (The Colors of Fall - For Me It's Blue) that I must have had one of my all-time favorite Train songs in my subliminal mind when I came up with the post title. All of a sudden, the melody of the song popped into my mind, even though I haven't heard it for a while. Thus, I was inspired to share with you the lyrics to the song. One of my absolute favorites!

If I ever find truth I'm gonna let you know
If I ever find faith I'm gonna sit in every bit of its afterglow
If I ever find a way to bring love here today
You better bet your life that this is what I'll say
Give it if you've got it
Get it if you don't

Take my hand in the meantime
And let's walk into the sunshine
Everybody got something that they want to sing about
Laugh about, cry about, it's true
For me, it's you

Give it away, give it away, give it away
If it's something that you got layin' round your house
Man, let me tell ya if ain't a kiss
It's something you'll never miss
Give it to somebody that don't have a thing
Layin' round like a prayer or a sweet sound
Just give it if you've got it
Get it if you don't

Take my hand in the meantime
Let's walk into the sunshine
Everybody got something that they want to sing about
Laugh about, cry about, it's true
For me, it's you
For me, it's you
For me, it's you
For me, it's you

Give it to somebody that don't have a thing
Ain't got soft shoes to dance or a love song to sing, no
Get yourself on the right track
Let somebody ride your back for a while
If I ever find truth, I'm gonna let you know
You better bet your life
If this is what I'm gonna say just give it away
You can't take it where you're goin' anyway

And take my hand in the meantime
And let's walk into the sunshine
Everybody got something that they want to sing about
Laugh about, cry about, it's true
For me, it's you
For me, it's you
For me, it's you
For me, it's you

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Colors of Fall - For Me, It's Blue

Happier days, when the summer was our oyster!

Yes, while other people are welcoming the famous colors of fall, I'm dealing with a color of a different nature - blue. I know, I know... Poor me! Fall is a very depressing time for me, though. Back-to-school, number one, and debris everywhere, number two. No, I don't enjoy sending my kids back to school, and no, I don't enjoy raking leaves and cleaning up the mess all those wonderful fall colors leave. I also don't like the loss of warmth as the weather transitions into winter. I'm a 100% summer girl, through and through!

I think I have written some variation on this topic every year I've had this blog. What can we say? Writing is therapy for me.

This year seems worse than years past. Granted, I know it will "get better," and I know I am lucky and blessed and truly a fortunate woman. But this year, whereas I can usually keep the tears at bay, they keep coming out, which is mortifying to say the least. I pride myself on my toughness. Perhaps I'm not as tough as I think I am and I've been fooling myself all these years. Maybe I'm just a big soppy mess of emotion. That is not a welcome thought! At all.

The reason this year is harder is, of course, Middle School. My precious little B's are now at two different schools. The very idea of this makes me feel insecure. The reality of it is harder than I expected. Brailey's school starts an hour after Britt's. They aren't too far in distance from one another, so this poses the problem of "what to do" while waiting. I know we will fill this time as the weeks go by, but for now it is living with the pain of change and "figuring it out." We have this same problem for after school pick-up - nearly an hour in between release times. I will accept it before long, but right now, I am kicking and screaming inside, pissed that a school district could have such poor planning. I know I'm not the only parent with this problem. Fortunately for people who live in town, they have a home to hang out in. Alas, the one and only downside to country living.

Even more annoying, Britt's school has early release one day a week, whereas Brailey's does not. I have always thought "early release" was stupid. Yes, STUPID. Why not take those hours and let school out earlier in the spring? I don't understand the purpose behind early release. It is extremely inconvenient, to say the least.

Another reason for this year being harder than years past is that Brailey's very best friend moved schools. Brailey is having a hard time adjusting to a life without her bestie in it. She is depressed and sad, and that makes me even bluer than normal. It is devastating to see her unhappy, unsure of herself, insecure and BLUE. I'm so used to Brailey's bright light, I can hardly bear the sadness I see on her face. She is trying hard to be strong, and she is very mature and bright, and I know the experience will only make her stronger. Her life can't be perfect all the time - I realize this. However, it is truly heartbreaking to see her eyes fill with tears and then her struggle to choke them down. And why the hell can't parents walk their sixth graders to their lockers in Middle School? Really?! They are still BABIES! They have years and years ahead of them to become independent. Why is so much importance put on independence? No, I'm not digging this Middle School scene at all. And yet, I am making her go through it. Like I said, she will be stronger for it in the end. She is learning important life skills that will serve her well. Yes, I know this.

Basically, school is getting in the way of our lives. With the after-school activities we have, which are only TWO, one per kid and on different days, at least until volleyball starts, then three. But we are stuck in town, waiting for Swim Practice to start, three days a week. The other two days we rush home to go riding, with no seconds to spare. Rush, rush, rush, wait, wait, wait. When do my B's get to be kids? This is another worry for me.

Whatever. I shouldn't worry. We will figure it all out. In the meantime, I am questioning our decision to attend the Spanish Immersion program. Is it worth it? Or would it be more beneficial to move to a school where both kids can be on the same schedule? Would a school closer to home be better? What is most beneficial for our family? For the time being, we're giving the Spanish schools a go. Eventually, things will work themselves into a routine. We will find time for homework and it is only the next two years we have to get through this scheduling hell, and then they will both be at the same school again. And Britt's swim schedule will change after spring break, which will be a big help. Plus, the school year is only nine months long. We can endure anything for nine months, right?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

And So It Begins...

"It" being a new school year and big changes. Today was their first day of Fourth Grade and Middle School, which means Sixth Grade. We weren't ready for it. Even with two extra weeks of summer, we still didn't want to "go back." I told them we shouldn't have such fun summers, then maybe we would be more excited for school to start. The truth is, we have loved every second of our time together over the past three months, and even if we had summer all year long, we still wouldn't be ready. The bigger truth is that they are ready. Once they get past the nerves of the first day, they are going to be just fine. We will get used to our new schedules, and all will be well, and before we know it, summer will be here again.
 The traditional home picture together.
 The traditional "sign" pictures the first day. This year, only Britt will be at Buena Vista. For the past three years, it was both of them. Does he look lonely, standing there? A little. But super cool and cute!
 Britt's new teacher, Sra. Torres. 
 She left them each a present! The bag matched his shirt.
 Pompei Purple toes. And the traditional sign picture at a new school. In two more years, they will both be standing here.
For the first time, I wasn't allowed to walk her to class, or in this case, her locker. This is as far as I got... She did tear up, here, which made me tear up, as well. But I know she is going to love Middle School. We just have to get through the pain of change.
 My Book Club met for coffee after dropping off our middle schoolers. All of us have sixth graders. And our sweet Elisabeth brought us this present! Isn't it fun? And sweet! She is the only veteran mom who has been through middle school before, so she knows what we need. It was the best "coffee chat" I've ever had - just what the doctor ordered to dry my tears.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Oregon State Fair - Last Day of Summer Livin'!

After a wild weekend of horse showing, we were all happy to be heading to the State Fair in Salem on Monday. Thank you Wayne and Evie White for asking Brady to judge your Bullrageous Show! We had a wonderful time! We started our experience there on the big Fair Lift, which runs over the entire Fairgrounds. The little B's didn't remember much from our trip on it a few years ago, so it was just like the first time for them. The weather couldn't have been more perfect for us - it wasn't hot, it wasn't cold and even better, it wasn't muggy!
Brailey and I took this picture of ourselves. We wore our flip flops, so we took them off while we were on the lift to make sure we didn't accidentally drop them. And over the summer? Brailey's feet grew! She now wears the same size as her mother... YIKES! Oh, and we have Pompei Purple on our toes (thanks Debbie!) and it is the perfect color to go with anything (see post about Decisions if you are wondering what I'm referring to).
Brady went on the big Ferris Wheel with Britt. Britt went on all the scary rides! Brailey is like me, and doesn't like them. We are both scared of heights! The Fair Lift is ride enough for the two of us.
They have always wanted to do the bumper cars, and they had a blast! Below, you may not recognize them... They wanted to get their faces painted, after we saw several cool paintings on faces, and so they picked out their designs and wah-lah! Awesome! They loved every second of this. And I was able to quell my germ phobia for the duration of the process, due to the sheer artistry of the painters and the happiness of my babies. Otherwise? Not so clean on the germ front... Oh well - they look stunning! And we all know looks are everything...!

They couldn't wait to show Brady their new faces - he loved them!
The handsome-est judge in the land!
Look! It's ERIC CHURCH! The radio station had this on their pickup - well worth a picture, yah? The 4 B's are the biggest Eric Church fans in the world! 
This is a 1000 pound pig from Florida. He's HUGE! And very stinky.
And we ended our day with a picture next to Smokey Bear. It was a truly fantastic day and a great way to end our summer of fun. And now we have to gear up for school. Do we really have to go back? REALLY? Yes, we do. By this time next week, we will be mentally prepared. In the meantime, please say a prayer for us. We don't want this summer to ever end!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Western States Stockhorse Show - Sunday Reining

Sunday was Brailey Shaye's first time performing in the Reining. She did great! She had a lot of help from Stacy Jo Hartley, which we are grateful for, and this was fun for Brailey. She and Tex gave the entire building a little gasp when they started, because when they walked in the arena, they turned to the left and lined up in the middle, just like they were supposed to. However, instead of loping off nicely, Tex took off like a bullet! But Brailey was in control the entire time, and once Tex realized he wasn't running barrels, he slowed down and performed beautifully. We were so proud of them both! When they came in the arena, Papa told the people next to him, "That horse looks like he's asleep, but he's not." He wasn't - it was darling! Brailey loves her horse so much, but now she understands that Maggie might be the better Pleasure and Reining horse for her. Every horse is good at something different, after all. That's why we need a whole trailer load of horses, right?
Proud people!
And one very beloved and loved horse.
The beautiful girl on the right is Brailey's new mentor, Ciera! We absolutely love this girl! She and Brailey could be sisters... They both have the same mannerisms. the same pretty long hair and the same sweet spirits. The day before the Clinic, Brailey got some bad news - her best friend moved to a new town and is going to a new school. Brailey was so devastated, she cried all night long. Ciera had some really good advice for her, and Brailey listened to every word she said. I'm so glad we met Ciera - she is just the kind of girl Brady and I want Brailey to become. Lucky for us, we see her all the time, and she wants to learn to rope! See? I told you she was a cool girl...
For some reason, my mom is a bit crippled right now. Her hip is out and she has plantar fasciitis in one foot. She has lost the bounce in her step! So my dad and I talked her in to trying some patches the lady in the picture was selling, which are for humans or horses either one. We also made her get a pressure point massage. We are hoping the combination will get her back on the right track to her healthy self!
After Brailey showed, we were standing by the office watering her horse, when all of a sudden, Brady ran over, ripped his halter off and told Brailey to run to the office with it! You can see what a wild horse Tex is...
So Brailey went into the office with her pink halter, and she won a gift card from Wilco! They had made an announcement, which we didn't hear, but Brady did, "The first person to the office with a hot pink halter wins a gift card from Wilco!" Thank goodness Brady was on the ball with his quick thinking!
While we waited for the Reining results, Brailey twinkled up Tex. Sadly, we missed the Twinkle Contest the day before, but Brailey had a big time working on him the next day. Tex is a Duck fan, you know...
See the two proud little faces in the background to the right of the "O?"
And here they are with their prizes! At least they didn't come home empty-handed. We still have a lot to learn about the horse show world. But we improved from last time, and they will only get better. Western States Stock Horse Show complete!

Western States Stock Horse Show - Saturday Western Pleasure and Trail

Surprise! Gramma and Papa came over for the weekend to watch the B's in their big show! Papa loves Brailey's horse, Tex, as much as he loves his grandkids, and he was a very proud spectator, to stay the least. Britt was a nervous wreck before he showed. He was in two Pleasure classes, and Brailey was in three. Britt was nervous because a couple of weeks prior to the show, Maggie started bucking. Remember I said we had some anxiety last week getting ready? Well most of it stemmed from this little situation. Long story short, we had to put the puzzle pieces together, and once we did, all was well. But in the meantime, the stress was high. A week or so after Maggie's trailer incident, she did a little kicky/buck thing with Brailey, twice in one week. I thought this was from Brailey getting her with her spur, though, and along we went. Two weeks ago, though, Maggie stopped going over the bridge on the trail course, and would not go through the water box, either. This was extremely odd, because Britt had been taking her over it many times without any trouble at all. A few days later, as I was cleaning her left front foot, she tried to lay down on me - this was very peculiar. She also started bucking with Britt, a little more serious every day. Every time he would ask for a lope, she would give a little half-hearted buck. This was nerve-wracking and strange. One day, she got serious about it and bucked super hard with him more than once, and the last time, he landed on his stomach on the saddle horn. This scared me and made me angry with Maggie. So I got on her in my shorts and tennis shoes, and worked her over good. I tried to make her buck with me, but she wouldn't. However, in the back of my mind, I did notice her switching her tail. So along goes time, and the next day, more of the same. I lost sleep, worrying about why she was doing this all of a sudden. I thought maybe she wasn't a kid's horse, after all. We thought we may have to pull him out of the show. We tried a new horse we have, but she was too green. This was on Tuesday before the show. By Wednesday, I was doing everything different. I rode her first. I lunged her before Britt got on. I had him only trot her, no loping. Finally, all the pieces started falling into place. I realized as I was lunging her to the right she didn't really look right. And she was switching her tail. And then I started thinking about how she had felt a tiny bit off when I rode her that direction. And I remembered her trying to lay down when I cleaned her feet. And her uncharacteristic refusal at the bridge. And suddenly I knew, without a doubt, that she was hurting. So, I found a good horse chiropractor, thanks to Stacy Jo Hartley, and blessing of blessings, he was able to get us in that evening. So up the freeway we zipped to Corvallis, and sure enough, her right whither was "stuck," as Doc Johnson said, and he was able to put it back where it needed to be in order for it to move properly. So all along, the saddle had been hurting her, especially at the lope, which is why she was bucking. Anyway, we were only able to trot her on Thursday on a lead line, and so Britt really didn't get to lope her until Friday and Saturday. And that is why he was nervous. And guess what? So were Brady and I! But she was absolutely fine and back to being the buck-free Maggie we knew. What a relief! But we didn't know until after he showed if she would be "good," or not. Hence, a stressful week!
The two horse show B's...
See the nervous face in the middle? But he did great! 
Papa and Brailey Shaye after her first class. She did so good in her first class, and actually got her named called! This was her best class. Ironically, she had trouble in the next two, and the one that she really wanted to win. She is such a good rider, and although we all may be barn blind, out of all the kids and adults there, she was one of the very best riders. However, Tex is not a Pleasure/Reining horse, so he goes a bit faster than is ideal, and Brailey had trouble with her leads. She loves it and works so hard at it! And Britt, who doesn't love it as much, beat her in both classes he was in ! He even won 6th in one of the classes! My mom said this is exactly what happened to me in 4-H - I worked at it and practiced and did my best and was always right where I needed to be, and my brother would be playing cards when it was time for him to perform, someone would have to rush to find him, and he always placed as well as I did. Ironic, isn't it? But today, I can ride circles around him, because I'm the one who loves it, just like Brailey does. It was nice to hear other people remark on what nice horses we have and what good riders our little B's are. 
Brailey's version of Duck Dynasty beards...
While we were waiting for their Trail Class to start, Britt made up a super fun game for Gramma, Papa and I to play with him. It was Spin-the-Bottle, only with Britt's rules. We each took a turn making up a dare, and whoever the bottle landed on had to either do the dare, or they were out. Some of the dares were kissing Maggie on the cheek, running over to the crowd by the trail and yelling, "I won the lottery!" and above you see Papa having to take two steps in these buckets. Britt also had to kiss Papa on the cheek. This was actually the best part of the day! We had lots of laughing, and it finally cooled off. Brailey and Brady were saddling horses, so they didn't play - just when Brailey decided she wanted to play, it was time to get on her horse.
The days are getting shorter and shorter, and it ended up getting dark on the last Trail class, which was the one Brailey and Britt were in. Had it been my horse show, for safety, I would have moved the last two Trail classes to the next morning, but it wasn't my horse show, and the show went on. Tex was fine and has been in similar situations many times. Maggie, however, had never been in condtions like this before, and she got amped up, the white's of her eyes showing. It was nearly impossible to see the course, so we took Britt out of the class. He was nervous about her not doing the bridge, anyway, so it was a good call. The only reason we stayed was because Brailey wanted to do the class - she loves Trail! And by the time she went, it was dark! They shined some headlights on the course, but she was not able to really see anything. But she did amazing! As far as her family is concerned, she was nearly flawless. The judge was an idiot, in our opinion, and gave her no extra points for doing such a good job in the dark. She couldn't even see the pole she was side-passing on! But, that's life - it ain't fair. And she was super proud of herself and she impressed a lot of other people who were watching. She ended up 5th, but should have placed much higher, in our eyes. She was one of the last ones to go, and the last five or so were completely in the dark with headlights making shadows on the ground. Not cool. BUT! Brailey and Tex, as my mom pointed out, were a true team, and it was special. Tex trusted her, and she trusted him, and they completed every obstacle. And that made the longness of the day worth it all!

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...