Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Our Favorite Memories from 2013

Another year in the books, and another year ready to start. These are exciting times we live in, for sure! We each thought about all the fun things we did over the course of 2013, and although we had several wonderful adventures, from camping with Gramma and Papa to the 4th of July PBR to horse shows to graduations to Swim Team and volleyball and so much more, we each narrowed it down to our most favorite memory.

Brady: He loved watching the little B's at their first WHO Show. We are looking forward to more of these in 2014.
 Big Daddy and Brittster Man on Mag-Doll.
Big Daddy and Brailey Shaye on Texi-Man.

Brailey Shaye: She loved spending the day at the mall with Carrie, her very best friend in the entire world. It was a magical day for the two of them!
Brailey and Carrie, together after not seeing each other for several months.

Britt: There's just nothing like wrestling with Aunt Suezy! She's TOO MUCH FUN! How many aunts do you know that will have a wrestling match with you?
Aunt Suezy with Britt pinned, yelling for Brailey to "count it!"

Queen B: I loved our trip to the coast. While Brady was in his store working, the kids and I played on the beach, and then we all went to the Wax Museum and Ripley's Believe it or Not! and the little Marine Center. Here, you see them on the big screen while they are performing on "American Idol." I think the entire town heard them sing. I told you they were famous...!

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 - Lessons Learned

Another busy year gone by. Holy smokes time flies by when you're having fun! One thing the 4 B's are good at is having fun, no doubt about it. We are also good at working really, really hard. 2013 has been a good year. Not as good as some years, but like Brady always says, "may as well have a good day as a bad one," and likewise, may as well have a good year as a bad one, right? It makes me sad when I read about what a bad, rotten, horrible year someone thinks they have had, when really, it is all in the attitude, isn't it? The secret to life lies in the lessons learned, and in not making the same mistakes over and over again. Granted, sometimes it is hard to see what the lesson is, and some folks would rather blame the universe than look at themselves. Deep blog post, this one...

The other day I asked my three B's what lessons they had learned over the past year. Brailey quickly piped up, "Fractions! And division, too!" Still adorable at eleven years old, our girl. After I explained that I was more interested in life lessons, she thought about it and came up with hers, and it was exactly what I would have said for her, too.

Brailey Shaye learned how to develop a sense of humor. She learned not to take herself so seriously and that it is okay to make mistakes. She learned it is not only okay, but almost better if you can laugh at yourself when you do something incorrectly. This came to her after many tears and lots of worry. I'm so glad she has discovered this lesson sooner rather than later. In other words, Brailey learned not to take herself so seriously.

Britt had no trouble at all coming up with his life lesson. He learned not to be sneaky. He is such a good boy, so please don't read into a situation that is private. His personal lesson was a hard one for him to learn, and he is still learning more about it. He is figuring out how to listen to that voice inside him that tells him what is right and what is wrong. That's a tough one for a nine year old to take on, but a lesson life has chosen to throw at him. He is on the right track to understanding it, that's for sure.

I was happy to hear Brady say he learned it is okay to make mistakes. He is prone to beating himself up for making any kind of a mistake, but he is realizing we all mess up, and not only is it okay, it is a great learning tool. This is excellent progress for Brady, and I hope it will be a relief to him in the years to come, and help take away some of the pressure he puts on himself.

Me? I learned not to force people into doing things they don't want to do. It never works out. No matter how much you think someone will enjoy something or realize the value of it, in the end, it is best not to push. In this regard, I have been learning acceptance, because I have suffered the ramifications of forcing things I shouldn't have. It has been a painful experience, let me tell you. I'm not talking about forcing things that are evil or negative. I'm referring to things I consider positive. But no matter - if someone doesn't want to do something, then leave it alone. 

We also learned some other things, this year. We learned how to be more positive in the face of adversity. We had plenty of opportunity to learn that over the course of the past twelve months, and had a big dose of it the past three months in particular (maybe I will write more about it later in another blog post). We learned how to follow our gut, how to follow our instinct, and moreover, how important it is to listen to that inner voice. We learned some friends are not really friends. We learned and are still learning how to stop making excuses, how easy it is to make excuses, how detrimental they can be. We are a work in progress - for example, instead of saying we don't have time for something, we say we haven't yet made time. We learned it is okay to stand up for ourselves and not to let people treat us rudely. We are still learning how to forgive - this is an easy one to practice, because there is always something or someone to forgive, isn't there? We learned how to appreciate our time together as a family more than ever, because time is the biggest mystery of all, and there is never enough of it.

It will be interesting to see what 2014 brings. I am praying for peace. Peace in our hearts, in our families, in our enemies and in the world. Peace of mind. Peace. A gift and a lesson from Jesus, a gift  much more complicated and precious than first meets the eye. "Peace I leave you, and my peace I give to you." We hear these words, quoted from Jesus, during every Mass. What a gift! May you have peace in 2014, in whatever regard you need it most. Peace be with you. Peace.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas 2013

 The Bakers! Both of the B's like to cook. If I were a better mother, I would make more time to teach them. Or maybe if I were a better cook. Truth be told, I loathe cooking, even though I'm not half bad at it, when I want to make something. I'm especially good at baking, believe it or not. And so I promised my darlings we would bake lots of stuff, this year. I did this just so they could have the experience. And so we had a plan - work on Saturday, bake on Sunday and Monday, clean the house on Tuesday morning.
As life would have it, our plans didn't exactly pan out (pun intended!). On our way to our job on Saturday, our beloved Silver Bullet blew up. Or at least that is how it sounded. In reality, our water pump went out. Thankfully, we had just pulled off the freeway, and as luck would have it, the pump went out right as we were next to a wide spot in the road for trucks to rest. So there went the plans! Fortunately, our wonderful friend Terra came and got the little B's and I and drove us home while Brady waited for the tow truck and made the trip back to Eugene to the shop for our pickup to get worked on. Luckily, they had our pickup fixed that very day! We were very thankful it was only a water pump, ironically caused from the folks who changed our oil for us and accidentally mixing the antifreeze (don't ever mix antifreeze!). In any case, we had to revamp our plans. So we baked what we could on Saturday afternoon, rescheduled part of our work for Sunday, and finished our baking on Monday and Tuesday morning.
 And wah-lah! We made 8 varieties of goodies, before it was all said and done, and shared the loot with our neighbors and friends. And we still have leftovers, which we've happily been munching on all week long. 
 And that takes us to Christmas Eve. After mass, we always let the kids open their pajamas and the ornaments from me. They were a hit! 
 These two get so excited for Christmas Day, they can hardly stand it. They got up at FOUR IN THE MORNING, this year! We had asked them to wait until seven... I heard them talking in Brailey's room, first, and then they made their way to Britt's. Brady and I finally gave up on making them wait and got up at 5:50 and let them see if Santa had come, and of course, he had. And they were thrilled!
 They opened their gifts from each other, first. I love how much they care about each other and the way Brailey's arm is around Britt's waist. They put a lot of time and effort into getting their presents for each other. Speaking as their mother, it was truly heartwarming! I pray they never lose this connection they have with each other.
 Above, one of my presents from Britt... "Open me first!" Is that cute or what?!
 An inside, family joke... They got each other the same gift, but different. Sillies!
 One of Brailey's special wrap jobs... "Open me last!"
 They both got hats - Brailey's from Santa, and Britt's from Big Daddy.
Poor Brady... He isn't a morning person, and he also doesn't really care for our traditional Christmas Rolls we have for breakfast every Christmas morning, a recipe and tradition handed down from my mother. Hence, the slightly haggard look about him... We sang Happy Birthday to Jesus before eating these rolls, another tradition of ours, borrowed from good Catholic friends. 
These are the coolest flip flops - they have a rhinestone volleyball on them! I can't wait until she grows out of them and I can have them (not really, just kidding!). 
All said and done, it was a wonderful, grateful, quiet Christmas spent at home, which is a great luxury for us B's.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Traditional Christmas Eve Family Picture

 Every year, we take our family picture just before heading out the door to Christmas Eve Mass. This year, we had a new camera to contend with that I got during the summer, and it was a little trickier to navigate with the tripod and self-timer. Yet, it worked! We dropped off all the labors of our baking (more to come on that in a future post) to neighbors and friends, including a stop at our beloved Lamberts' house, and made our way to St. Paul for a beautiful Children's Gospel Pageant and Mass. I can't believe how much my beloved babies have grown through the years - I took a trip down memory lane through my own December blog entries through the years, and it was almost shocking to realize how much time has passed. Time marches on... Right across my heart.
 I was practicing the timer with these two pictures. Britt looks so cute and handsome, doesn't he? You can see Brailey and I studying the light on the camera to see how it worked. Brailey always looks so darling in every picture.
 My handsome boys. In all the hoopla of figuring out the new camera and getting out the door on time, I forgot to take a picture of Brailey Shaye and Britt together by the tree. A moment gone by we'll never have again, and opportunity missed. Yes, it does hurt my heart. However, I'm very thankful to have the adorable pictures I did manage to get.
My B's, my loves, the biggest blessings in my life. Pure magic, these three... I love them so!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas Blessings

 Blessing #1:
This pretty much sums up our entire Christmas tree hunting expedition this year - searching in all directions. For nearly two hours! The longer we searched for the "perfect tree" we could all agree on, the uglier they all got. It was brutal. The problem was the farm we chose to go to - they don't take the best care of their trees, and I remember last year we had a hard time finding one to suit us. Still, we managed to find a tree at least three of us liked. Britt was not happy with it, but guess what? He's happy now. It looks lovely in our living room, and has been twinkling along all month long. 
Blessing #2:
Brailey went to her first Holiday Dance! The poor girl looks a little haggard - the dance was after school AND volleyball practice. She covered it for the yearbook, but she would have gone, anyway. And she had a great time! Britt and I picked her up just a few minutes early, and she didn't want to leave. Brady asked her if she danced, and she said, "Oh yah! I danced a LOT!" And then he said, "With a BOY?!" And she said, "Oh NO! Just by myself and with my friends!" Her GIRLfriends, mind you... We are so grateful she hasn't taken a liking to boys, just yet. And we were thrilled she had such a great time!
Blessing #3:
Brailey still likes to play with the Christmas dolls and stuffed animals and hats. I walked around the corner to this adorable arrangement (see above) one day.
Blessing #4:
Brailey Shaye and Rosin, reading one of our Christmas books. Every year, she and Britt go through all of them. Here they are laying in front of the heater. Brailey is using Rosin's bed for her pillow, so Rosin is using her for a bed.
Blessing #5:
The traditional homemade Christmas ornaments. Every year, the little B's make an ornament. This year, they made these cute little bottle cap snowmen, complete with bling!
Blessing #6:
Finding the perfect spot to place their bottle cap snowmen. And wah-lah, our tree! Guess what? They decorated the entire tree, other than the lights. I let them put on every single ornament, and they did a great job! I love the angel on top of the tree - my Aunt Mary made it for me, and she is porcelain and has a beautiful lace dress and feather wings. She is darling!
Blessing #7:
Brailey Shaye has turned into a wrapping machine! And she has taken great joy in shopping for me! Christmas blessing, indeed! What mom wouldn't be thrilled about something like that?! Brady usually waits until the last second to do his shopping with the kids, but not this year. Oh no! Brailey was relentless in her pursuit of the things she wanted to get. There were many phone calls and texts and even a shopping trip at home involved in this year's endeavor. Britt made sure he had his say, as well, although he mostly left the wrapping to his big sis. And I must say, my gifts look amazing! It warms my heart to see them love to give and wrap presents. They also loved the ones I wrapped for them! I am so happy Brailey has realized what an art wrapping presents can be, and that it is actually not as easy as it looks. She said, "Wow, Mom! I love the way you wrapped our gifts!" Britt likes to wrap his gifts, too, but they aren't quite as lovely as Brailey's. However, they are just as cute, in their own way.
Blessing #8:
Brady and I asked the B's to give some of their own money to a charity, this year, and they happily obliged, no whining or anything! They ended up choosing Brailey's school cause and gave money for food cards. I'm so proud of them! They also wanted to buy a gift for a friend, and so we let them. Brailey made something for three of hers, and Britt would have bought the stores out for his buddies, but we asked him to choose just one special person, since his gift wasn't homemade. He himself remembered to get the gift, and he just knows his friend is going to love it! They both wrapped their gifts with love, and I hope their friends can feel the heart and soul that went into them.
Blessing #9:
Christmas cards... I used to love designing ours. I looked forward to it all year long! This year? Not so much. In fact, I almost scrapped the whole thing. But we had to do them for Brady's dealers, anyway, and so I did one for family and friends. Not my favorite one by any means. But I'm glad we did, because as our little Christmas card tree has slowly been filling up, I have loved reading every single card we've received. And I find myself looking forward to seeing who sent us one every day when we visit our mailbox. So yah, I'm old-fashioned that way. I like remembering special people, and I also like being remembered. 
Blessing #10:
Both B's still believe in Santa... To their souls! Although we have been asked quite a few more questions than ever before, this year. Brady and I let them know Santa is magical and believing in him is what makes the magic occur, and we are never going to back down from that sentiment. It makes us so proud they are strong enough in their own beliefs to question what their friends tell them and to really consider what they believe on their own. And that brings us to our next blessing...
Blessing #11:
Our Catholic faith. Just like Santa, it's all about believing, isn't it? Believe. Believe in the magic of Christmas, and believe in the glory of God. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Biggest Swim Meet Yet...

The 4 B's spent the weekend at the pool. Britt had another swim meet, and so along we went! Thank goodness it was in Eugene - that was a blessing. But it still required us to get up extra early, and both little B's were a bit tired come Monday morning. In any case, we had a great time! Here are some fun candids for your viewing pleasure.
 All the little guys on the team love Britt! He is so sweet and kind to them, always. 
 Brailey telling Britt to "focus." She is such a Mini Me in so many ways... I love it! Britt is very lucky to have such a responsible big sister. 
 Britt and his buddy Trent. This was the first time Britt got to be in a relay race. It was so much fun! Their team came in last, and they said, "We came in last, but still second!" There were only two teams in their heat. So cute! And positive, too.
 Brailey Shaye woke up on Sunday with POISON OAK all over her face! Much to her mother's horror! We think she must have picked it up from her beloved cats. Thus, the pink on her face!
 Keeping busy between races. We didn't let Britt do this very much, but he enjoyed it while he was able to.
 Big Daddy helping Britt before his race. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Snow Many Pictures, Snow Much Fun!

Who would have dreamed Eugene would be hit like this with snow and freezing weather? Not me - I moved out of the cold to avoid it! That's what I told Brady the other day, and he said, "No you didn't." So much for my dramatic proclamation. I had to admit the truth - I moved out of the cold, snowy winters because I fell madly in love with him! Best decision of my life. BUT! I really don't like cold, snowy weather. I told my mom I was ready for rain, and she reminded me I hate rain, too. I'll take rain over this frozen mess any day! Eugene just isn't made for snow and freezing temperatures. And for that matter, neither am I. I am always cold, even in the summer. However, even though we've had our share of frozen pipes and have had to carry several buckets of water from our bathtub to the horses a few times, we have enjoyed the time off from school, and we've had lots of fun! Brady made the kids a wooden sled a few years ago, and it has come in right handy! It got more use in the past week than I ever thought it would. (Thank goodness we didn't use it for a horse bridge to practice our Trail Riding on like we almost did over the summer...!) And overall, I have to say we are so blessed not to be in even worse conditions! There's nothing I love more than having my babies home with me, and they've truly been having a wonderful time. 
This was the predicted "two inches." More like eight! Brailey explained to me that the snow was very light, and not heavy. She heard it from the Weatherman. I'm so thankful it was light, because we haven't lost our power. I'd rather be without water than without power. Apparently the heavy snow is what causes power problems.
As you can see, Britt has had a marvelous time playing in the snow! His body has been bright red with cold several times. Brrrrrrrrrrr!
 Using the wheelbarrow to move snow to his snow fort. 
 Rozzy-girl with snow on her bottom lip. She is like me - can't take the cold!
 Sledding fun!
 Britt was dying to have a snow ball fight with someone. After he helped Brady with the frozen pipes one day, all day long, Brady took the time to have a little battle with him. Britt was thrilled!
 Britt got this ski mask at the flea market in Galt when we were there over Thanksgiving. Who knew it would come in so handy? Or should I say, "SNOW handy...!"
 Sadie in her "Dracula" blanket from my mom. Thank goodness we had this for her - she has definitely needed it! Although I don't think she had ever had a blanket on before this. She wasn't sure about it when I put it on her. I think she likes it, now. I laugh every time I see her face poking out of it - so cute!
Boom-Boom all snuggled up. He was so happy to have a blanket put on, he actually stuck his head in it before I could even get it on him. He's from Canada, so I guess he remembers what snow and cold weather are all about. He's happy as a clam in his blankie! See him watching me? I took this through the window - he watches us in the house.
 Big Daddy and his B's. 

The Harlem Globetrotters Experience

Saturday was all about basketball for Britt. And there is nothing he loves more than basketball! Every year, when the Harlem Globetrotter...