Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving in Sacramento

It was a trip a year in the planning. When Brady and I say we are going to do something, we do it, and that's that. But we almost reneged... Well, not really, but we wanted to. We just couldn't do that to the people we love and truly wanted to see, though. However, after a harrowing week, well, two weeks, really. Actually, the past month... No, even longer. Let's just say this fall, as in autumn. The one that has been a bit of a trial. Anyway, after weeks of trial and tribulation, and a weekend worthy of the Guinness Book of Crazy-Busy prior to the day we left (more about that later), we were doubting ourselves. Yet we packed our bags and headed down the freeway. Even as we were driving, it was touch and go. The stalls took longer to clean in the morning than we anticipated, giving us a later start than we had hoped for. We picked up a nail in our tire and had to spend some time in Les Schwab's, making a long trip even longer. We all felt crabby. But the closer to Sacramento we got, the better we started to feel. The stars aligned for us - in fact, we even saw a falling star so close it felt like we could touch it! Our room got upgraded to a suite because Brady is now a "Diamond Member." And the next two days were filled with enough fun, love, laughter and memories to last us a lifetime. We had a blast! And not just a normal, run-of-the-mill blast. We had a truly special, never-to-be-forgotten wonderful time.
 We were in Sacramento to visit our beloved Gramma Diggy, Aunt Suezy and Grandpa Dick. They all met us at our hotel. Our suite was so nice! We had room for everyone, had everything we needed at our fingertips and plenty of entertainment, including swimming, The Dollar Store, a play put on by the two little B's, a wrestling match, horse races, a flea market and even more! Above, you see Brailey and Gramma Diggy with their Dollar Store antlers.
 Aunt Suezy is the most exciting, fun and entertaining aunt there ever was! Here, you see her pinning Britt down in their wrestling match. She is calling for Brailey to "Count it! Count it, Brailey, count it!" This is after Britt threw her off the bed and she body slammed him several times. 
 The little B's loved the hot tub and pool. They were happy children all week long! They got plenty of swimming in, and loved every second of it.
 Is this Gramma Diggy or Rudolph? 
 Britt with his Dollar Store disguise. 
 Lucky for us, it was perfect timing for us to hit the world famous Galt Market! I had never been to a real flea market, but have heard Diana and Brady talk about them for years. It was SO-MUCH-FUN! We scored some great deals and had a big time, and I loved every second! 
 Trying on glasses... Hello Kitty and Angry Birds. 
 Showing off their great finds! Britt has always wanted a fedora, and Brailey was dying to have these glasses ever since she saw them at the mall. 
 These two kids L-O-V-E their Aunt Suezy! They had a really, really, really good time with her. She filled them chock full of love and laughter!
 We enjoyed our Thanksgiving Dinner at our favorite restaurant, The Golden Corral. It was quite delicious! Thank you, Grandpa Dick, for treating us to the meal.
 Dessert was the best...
It seems we are making it a tradition to have our picture taken in front of The Golden Corral - we have one of these from the last time we were there over a year ago. The little B's have grown so much, we had to have them "scrunch down" for the picture, this time. 
 Back at the hotel...
It was Grandpa Dick's 85th birthday! So the little B's and Aunt Suezy went to the supermarket and got him a cake and candles and cards. He was quite thrilled! We sang to him and had cake and ice cream, even though we were all stuffed after our Golden Corral feast. Amazingly, we all managed to have our cake and eat it, too! And that goes for our entire trip. A special time with special people!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Gratitude - It's the Little Things

I'm sure you've been seeing the same "Grateful Posts" on Facebook that I've been seeing. It is a fun thing for people to do and a great reminder of how lucky we are. Quite heartwarming, in fact. The other day, after picking Britt up from school, I found myself wishing people would be more grateful every day, all the time, for the little things. What inspired this thought, you ask?

Well, I'll tell you what inspired it - me and my judgmentalism, mostly. But let me explain before you judge me for being judgy. Here is what happened - I stopped the pickup so a mom and her child could cross the street safely in front of us at the school. No, she wasn't crossing in the crosswalk. You know what I do when someone does this for me? I WAVE AT THEM AND SAY "THANK YOU," EVEN IF THEY CAN'T HEAR ME. At least they can see I am grateful. So yah, it irritated me that she just expected me to stop and didn't even acknowledge my good gesture. Petty of me, I know.

But let's look at the big picture, here. Wouldn't the world be a better place if we were all just a little more grateful in the small moments of our lives? If that lady had been so kind as to wave her thanks to me, or to simply nod her head, I would have waved or smiled back, and we both would have felt better.

I realize she may have been stressed out or had other things on her mind. That happens to everyone. I get that. I still think if we were all just a little kinder and more free with thankful, positive words and gestures, the world would be a happier place. Which brings me to my next thought, why is it so hard for people to be grateful?

Sure, we see an influx of gratitude during the month of November. Why not all year long? It is my humble opinion that the simple act of giving thanks is one of the secrets to life. In the bible, it is a constant theme. In the old testament, they give thanks to God. In the new testament, they give thanks to God. It should be a natural, normal, every day part of our lives, to really and truly stop and think about how lucky we are, how grateful we should be for this beautiful life we've been given. I've said it before, and I'll say it again - appreciation is good for the soul. It benefits the Giver and the Givee. A win-win for everyone, no matter if you're thanking God or something so insignificant as a car stopping to let you pass safely in front of them.

I won't get on my soapbox, as I have done many times before, about people writing thank you cards and whatnot. But I do hope this little blog post will inspire even one person to focus on their manners and to be more aware, to go that extra mile to say thank you, no matter how menial the task. Thank you!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Volleyball Season in Full Swing

Yes, volleyball is positively in full swing, and so far, it has been Brailey's best season ever! For starters, she had to go through tryouts for team placement. She was placed on the second team, out of five, and after playing in a tournament to determine what bracket they should compete in, it was determined they were GOLDEN! Meaning they are one of the gold teams! This is super exciting for Brailey, and well-deserved. She has worked so hard to improve her skills and has not always been treated fairly in the past, so it is high time she was recognized for her try and ability. Yes, I'm prejudiced - the mother writing here, remember? Anyway, she is on the most awesome team ever, all sweet, nice girls! They are super kind and work hard in practice - it is great! This is the first year Brailey has actually having FUN with her teammates! See that smile on her face below? Above, she was trying out for club volleyball, which is still up in the air. What is meant to be will be, but in the meantime, she is doing super well and having a blast and I am living my volleyball dreams through her. Isn't that what parents are supposed to do?! On a side note, she hurt her shoulder, so she's been toughing through the pain, and we are praying it isn't anything serious. It is such a short season, there is no time to waste! Thank goodness she has some cowgirl tough in her. 
At the placement tournament, she ran into one of her old classmates and good friends, Camille. They were so happy to see one another! They talked until it was time for them to go... Their mothers need to set up a "play date " for them. 
 See that happy face? Precious and priceless! 
 Look at that good bumping and passing form! She has even had a few "spikes" this year. She loved that! 
 Yay - they won their first game! So far, they've lost two and won two. They are definitely The Golden Girls! The coaches who ran the tryouts and did the team placements did an excellent job of it. 
 The Irish Hitters (that's the team name they picked for themselves). Brailey is so blessed to be on this team and to have the coaches she does. They are excellent!
Brailey's Fan Club, minus the Queen B (me!). These two B's don't love volleyball as much as I do, but they are still good supporters. What can we say? They are always the most handsome boys in the crowd!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Introducing the Ali Dee Collection (and me, Queen B!)

I am so excited to announce that I, Queen B of the 4 B's, have been chosen as an Ali Dee Collection Rep! If you haven't seen the line, you should check it out right now. It is super cute! And I have to say, it is a real dream come true for me to be representing it. I am thrilled with my position! And how lucky am I to have a rock star sales rep of a husband to learn from? Brady was a born salesman, so I know I will learn a lot from him. I don't like to brag on myself, so I apologize for sounding so vain, but it is an amazing opportunity for me, and I feel like shouting it to the rooftops! So what are you waiting for? By all means, check out the Ali Dee Collection and let me know what you think. And tell me, is this line right up my alley (pun intended!) or what?!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day That Wasn't So Bad Afterall

I had a bad day yesterday. It started out with Brailey being mad about her hair. She can't quite fix it herself, but she thinks I am too rough (no matter how careful I am, it is never careful enough - she's such a tender-head!). Then we got to school, where Britt accidentally hawked a huge hunk of phlem directly on my shoe. Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! Later, while cleaning stalls, I was stung by a wasp on the inside of my finger. Grrrrrrrr! I H-A-T-E wasps! After this, I locked myself out of the house (don't worry - I have a spare key. It is just a nightmare to get to it.). Then, I ran out of time to mow the leaves up on the lawn. To top all the "badness" off, I mispriced some items I took into a store. And so I found myself arguing with myself, "This is a bad day. But I don't want it to be a bad day. I have to get on a better frequency!"

In order to get on a positive frequency, I started counting my blessings (at least for the day), and realized things weren't as bad as they seemed. I got a phone call telling me I had won the raffle basket at Brailey's Book Fair. How cool is that? I got up my courage and took a lamp and some canisters into a consignment store in Coburg, and the owner loved them! Even cooler! And when I realized my pricing mistake, she fixed the tags, no problem. Whew! I found someone to feed our horses and clean the stalls while we are gone in a few weeks.What a relief! I've had lots of interest in the new Ali Dee Collection I am selling. Best of all, no matter what, I still have the loveliest children in the world and the best husband ever! And all of these great things in one day!

Ironically, the fall started out rocky for The 4 B's. In fact, there were times I felt sure someone had a voodoo doll on us. I can even think of who said "someones" might be...

  • First, we had that terrible start to middle school - believe me when I say this was extremely stressful. 
  • Shortly after school started, our water tank went out and had to be replaced (this required three separate visits by the pump guy). The pump mishap occurred on the day of a wedding we had been looking forward to attending for months! It was very disappointing to miss it. 
  • Then, The Great Monsoon came, nearly throwing me over the edge of insanity (I'm perched very precariously here, so it was a real threat). We weren't prepared for the weather to hit us like that. It was a nightmare of worry! 
  • One of my friends did that public humiliation thing I wrote about in my last blog post. 
  • A horse we were trying to sell injured himself. It didn't happen at our barn. Oh no. It happened the day before we were going to pick him up at the other barn, which called for an emergency vet call. 
  • Sadly, that vet didn't know what she was doing, and a week later, I had to take him to our vet, who had to retreat the injury correctly and cast the foot, or it wouldn't have healed properly. 
  • Within days of this, our precious pug came down with a collapsed trachea. 
  • Brady ended up with a tooth infection and now has to have said tooth pulled, and eventually will need an implant (to the tune of $5000).

Can you see the theme here? Money flying out the door in tornado fashion! All in a month an a half.

Things are looking up, though! We remained positive through it all, and simply laughed. What else could we do? Cry? Crying never does a lick of good.

  • Thankfully, the horse kept his cast on for the perfect length of time and was a total gentleman in his stall. It is a horrible wound, and it will take even more time to heal, but he isn't lame. God must have had other plans for this horse. 
  • Britt's teacher is so impressed with Britt's listening skills, she has the entire class do what she has named "The Britt." This means looking at the speaker and actively listening. Wow!
  • Brailey made the "Gold" team in volleyball. She also got her overhand serve down. Yay! This is big stuff! She's worked really hard, and it is paying off. (And thank Mother Mary she loves volleyball so I can live my dream through her!)
  • We found a home for one of the horses we had for sale. One less stall to clean and a huge load off our minds, as we didn't have room for him. Not to mention the hay... 
  • Brady's beloved horse Maggie, who has been "in training" with Sam Willis and Russell Cardoza, has turned into a rock star! She has lived up to the potential Brady knew she had. Brady is over the moon about her turning into such a fabulous head horse. He's ready to rope! 
  • And I landed an additional job as a Sales Rep for a line that I have loved since it came out, the Ali Dee Collection!

Like I said, things are looking up! Funnily enough, as I was thinking about all this, I saw these two graphics on Facebook. Yup! That pretty much sums up life, doesn't it? It's a good life, even with all the bumps along the way!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

All Kinds of Kinds (of Friends)

The other day, Brailey came home a tiny bit worried. Turns out one of her newly established good friends was upset that Brailey is branching out and making other friends. As Brailey told me the situation, I found myself feeling two things. One, I was sad for her to have to go through the experience. Two, I was extremely proud of her and downright impressed with how well she handled the situation. In fact, she couldn't have handled it any better! She didn't get rattled or insecure or take the issue on as her own. I am so grateful she is such a mature young lady. I would have fallen apart in her shoes. I would have been devastated. I would have worried myself sick. Brailey was kind, confident and a little worried, but not terribly.

This got me thinking about all the different kinds of friendships there are. There are so many! There are best friends (I have three! Kimmy, my mom and Brady!), phony friends, true friends, life-long friends, selfish friends, generous friends, needy friends, loving friends, friends that aren't really friends, friends of friends, Facebook friends, old friends, new friends, school friends, work friends, real friends, pretend friends, boy friends, girl friends and friends, friends, friends, friends, FRIENDS! I have experienced all of these and more. I'm sure you have, too! I've probably even been all of these friends at some point in my life... (Gasp!)

Somebody said to me the other day that love is messy. If you merely "like" something, it isn't so hard to let it go, but if you "love" something or someone, it is much more difficult and, yes, messy. Friendships are like this, as well, depending on the kind. I think I am blessed with some of the most wonderful friends in the world! I love my friends. I love them dearly! And yet I still manage to get my feelings hurt on occasion and deal with the very issues Brailey is just beginning to experience. Messy... I recently had one friend publicly embarrass me and talk to me in a condescending and demeaning manner, as if I were and most idiotic of all idiots. (The lesson here is that she wasn't the friend I thought she was, which does, in fact, make me an idiot.) I have another friend who pretends to be my friend, but can barely force herself to look me in the eye. I still feel I am richly blessed in the friendship department. I know life isn't fair nor is it perfect, but I still wish I could protect both of my children from the harsh realities of friendship. Friendship is not always fun and games. Or rather, sometimes it is games. The games people play, at least.

I remember being broken-hearted as a freshman in high school after someone I thought was my friend humiliated me (she made me push a quarter across the floor with my nose - she was a senior, so I thought I had to do it). My Aunt Renee gave me advice I have never forgotten. As I sat there crying in front of her, she said, "Let me tell you something. If you have even ONE GOOD FRIEND in your lifetime, count yourself lucky. If you have TWO, count yourself really lucky. Your friends are going to change your entire life, and if you end up with even one really good one, then you are lucky and blessed." My Aunt Renee is a wise woman.

I have learned so much about friendship over the years. Even today, I am still learning. I shared some of this with Brailey, hoping it would help her know friendship drama is normal and she isn't alone. Even though she really didn't need any help. But I can tell she is a bit unsettled, now, and she doesn't trust her new friend as much as she did.

I have friends I have had forever, the kind I can see and pick up right where we left off. These are special friendships. Distance is the only thing that keeps us from being together more often. The rare times we are together are precious, though, and I always come away feeling good after those visits. I have come to learn it is important to make time to nurture the friendships I care about. Everyone is busy, but it is incredibly important to make time for people who are special. After all, in the grand scheme of things, what is one hour every now and then? Time well spent, that's what.

To tell the truth, I see a lot of me in Brailey, and I wonder how she learned to protect herself so well. I didn't know how to protect myself as a kid. As a result, today I keep most people at arm's length. There are only a handful of people I really trust. Many times the protective armor I wear has caused criticism to come my way. As a matter of fact, it has caused a great deal of stress throughout my life. But it isn't really something I can help. It started the night my aunt gave me advice about friends, I think. I know I am not a perfect friend and I do stupid things and hurt people, sometimes. I think I've become a better friend as I've gotten older. I do know that I am not the perfect friend, though. Don't think I don't know that! I'm always a work in progress. Aren't we all?

Britt has had his share of friendship strife, lately, as well. Someone he thought was a good friend turned out to be a bully, playing power trips and even going so far as kicking him hard in the shin. To his credit, when this happened, Britt also made me very proud. He didn't get mad. He simply explained that it hurt, A LOT, and it was going to bruise. Britt is more naive than Brailey, though, and I have had to explain to him that he doesn't need to let people treat him that way. It is true that boys and girls are different, but I think boys can be just as mean as girls. Britt is more of a people-pleaser than Brailey is, and he doesn't have that protective shield Brailey has. It makes me wonder if he will develop it over time.

Lately, my little B's have become friends to me. Brailey has even given me advice! I try to listen to what they say, because I know I can learn from it, and I know our relationships are changing as they grow older. I remember feeling like my parents were my friends when I was a teenager, and I hope that is how my B's will feel about Brady and I. Because friendship is important, and that's a fact. One of the blessings I am most thankful for is the friendship Brailey and Britt have with each other. They are best friends! Even though they don't fully understand it or realize it today, I know they will appreciate and depend on it someday.

It will be interesting, for lack of a better word, to see how things play out over their lifetimes. I know they both have hurt coming their way, that it is part of life. I'm thankful they seem to have more skills than I did as a kid. And while I know they are in for some friendship drama, I hope it is minimal. I hope they know there are all kinds of kinds of friends.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Cute Little Monsters

 Ever since my my mom and dad lost their beloved cat, Charlie, last spring, Brailey has wanted to get them a new kitty. She has been searching, relentlessly, for the perfect one. Low and behold, she found two! And the great thing is, my mom wanted a Siamese, and lucky her, now she has one! So we picked them up before the UCLA game last Saturday, and they have been terrorizing our house ever since. The Siamese is the mom to the kitten. They are super sweet, and my parents already love them. Brailey is such a cat lover, Brady and I are scared she's going to end up with 50 when she gets her own place someday. She is truly a cat person! She took perfect care of them all week long. Brady hauled them over to Central Oregon on Friday, where he met my parents with the little monsters. Brady, in case you didn't know, is not a cat person, and Brailey had to do a lot of convincing to get him to take them in his car to meet my parents, even inside a cat carrier! In any case, they have a great home in Harney County.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Happiest Halloween Ever - 2013

If you know us 4 B's at all, then you know we just LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE Halloween! The two little B's in particular. Brady and I had to work last Sunday, and we came home to a house completely decorated with Halloween fun. Between Swim Team and Volleyball, though, we ran out of time for our precious pumpkins! But never fear, we got pumpkin carving in there...! Even if it was last minute. Right before we ate our pumpkin shaped pizza and went trick-or-treating! Brady made a special trip home so he could help us carve and go trick-or-treating. And he's really glad he did! It was the most fun we can ever remember having on Halloween!  
 The turned out so good! 
 Clawdeen Wolf (Monster High) and Legolis (Lord of the Rings). 
 Is this the cutest picture ever? He looked SO ADORABLE in all that hair!
 Clawdeen is howling!
If you can believe it, Britt carried his bow and arrow and Brailey walked the entire night in her high heels. 
 I struck a pose for Brailey in my "costume," which is a shirt that says "Cleverly Disguised as a Witch!" Yup - that's me!
 Then Brailey took this one... 
 And Britt took this one. He told me to pretend to kiss Brailey - how'd I do?
 Ready to trick-or-treat! This is the latest we have ever gone. And it was misting a little, but warm. The rain stopped by the time we were done. We had so much fun! They both got a little scared, even, which was so cute to watch. There are some really festive people where we go trick-or-treating. Brady and I were talking about how it is the only neighborhood we've ever gone to for trick-or-treating, ever since their first years going. We both had a moment of sadness realizing it is almost over. In a couple more years, they won't want to go. We are selfish, Brady and I, and insist on taking them. We just can't bear to miss out on the fun!
When I was a kid, I remember one of my favorite pictures my mom took of my brother and I on Halloween was at the end, with all our candy spread out on the floor. She made us the most adorable clown costumes ever, and we looked so cute! Kind of like Brady below with Brailey's eye lashes on. Isn't he something?! 

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...