Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Year of the Horse, 2014 - It Was a Wild Ride!

OH EM GEEEEE! 2014 was one heck of a wild ride for us! And actually, everyone I've talked to has said the same thing - it was a weird year, or a tough one, or a sad one, or a hard one. I don't know anyone who isn't ready to see 2015! 2014 was the Year of the Horse, on the Chinese calender. She was a little bronky! Yah, cliche as it may sound, it really was the best of times and the worst of times for our little family of Bs. But things can always be worse, and we are thankful for the lessons and blessings alike. 2014 was a roller coaster in nearly every aspect of our lives - ups, downs, highs, lows and everything in between. There was never a dull moment, but that's the way we roll around here. So why not ride that bronc?

Highs, Ups, The Best of Times
Volleyball became a whole new world of fun with Brailey, as we embarked on our first club journey. We learned so much last year, only to learn it was just the tip of the iceberg! Volleyball has already taught Brailey more than just the game itself - she learned how to work hard to reach a goal, to take care of her body and get strong, how to deal with difficult individuals (she is a rock star at this, by the way, and light years ahead of me!), and how to come out of her shyness a weensy bit and make new friends. For me, I was so blessed to have developed a lasting friendship with a woman I met through volleyball, and then, I ran into one of my dearest friends at a volleyball tournament our girls were both playing in. So silver and gold friends, for me! Brailey's Kidsports team was a major high, as well, as she was on a phenomenal team that won, won, won! It was great for her to experience success after all the years of being on, shall we say, less successful teams. And now, she is continuing her volleyball with a new club, Webfoot.
Swimming and swim meets became another world we learned to dive into (notice my pun?!). This was the first year Britt attended real meets, and we finally figured out the protocol and developed some friendships. Britt continues to impress Brady and I with his determination, dedication and drive in the pool. We are so happy to see him invest in his passion!
Have you heard of the WWE Universe? Brady and I thought we would be cool and introduce it to the little B's, and now they are obsessed! We didn't see that coming... BUT! It is their absolute delight and they live to watch Monday Night RAW and Smackdown. A major highlight of our summer was seeing the live RAW in Portland, Oregon, where it was Hulk Hogan's birthday celebration. We felt like stars ourselves as we sat in the nonstop shower of confetti and balloons! The WWE is more than entertainment for our family, though. It brings our family together every time it is on the television and has sparked more conversations than I can even count. Whenever I feel annoyed, I remember what Dr. Phil says - if they don't talk to you about the little things, then they won't talk to you about the big ones. It has also inspired both little B's to get in shape and they are positive they are the future of the WWE! Brailey has even researched wrestling schools to attend after high school, and Britt is still considering a law degree, just in case the WWE doesn't work out and after he makes the 2024 Olympics, of course. If anyone in our family is having a bad day, we just talk wrestling, and that almost always fixes things.
Our little Texas Tornado, Brailey, experienced a life-changing trip when she flew to visit Brady's sister and his family with his mother this summer. Brailey bonded with everyone there and made lasting connections. In fact, we are still hearing about Texas! Brady and I no longer wonder where she will end up - we feel certain it will be in Texas. Even if she becomes a WWE Diva! She is already begging us to go back to Aunt Cindy's this coming summer. We are very grateful she was able to meet her family and to feel like a part of them. We don't have a lot of family connections like that, and she needed it. Below, picking her up from the airport with Uncle Frank.
We also had The Best Thanksgiving Ever - it really was! It had been years since we spent a holiday with my parents, and we all had an excellent time just being together, doing the holiday thing. We played cards, went on walks, ate a lot of food, watched football, college volleyball, talked endlessly and even took in a movie! It was low-key, casual and full of love and appreciation for one another. It is a Thanksgiving we will all remember forever and ever.
And speaking of going to the movies, we rediscovered our love for Dumb and Dumber, our absolute favorite movie. We'll get more into this later, but we literally watched this movie at least 30 times over the summer. It never gets old for us! We couldn't wait for Dumb and Dumber To to come out, and it didn't disappoint us at all! We laughed harder and louder than anyone in the theater - we are true Harry and Lloyd fans!

Lows, Downs, The Worst of Times
We had our share of little downers, of course, because that is life - it happens. But we also had some major downers, as well. The most obvious, of course, was Brady's broken leg. Believe it or not, though, this was also a positive, in some ways. How? Because it could have been so much worse - he could have been killed, as many people who saw the wreck thought had happened. He could have been injured worse than he was, paralyzed or with trauma to the brain. It is a wild, wild story, from start to finish, all the drama that was involved in the aftermath of the accident. That's an entire post I may write about on another day - the story is actually quite entertaining. Back to the tale at hand, though, it threw us for a definite loop when Brady's leg was broken. You see, it wasn't just a simple break. And it flared up some old arthritis that has caused ongoing pain for him. He will most likely never be able to jog again - low impact activities, only. But thank GOD he can walk! And work! The injury definitely brought some stress into our lives. The worry over pain pills, having to do everything for him and then his depression was sad for all of us. That is where Dumb and Dumber came into play, though, and watching that movie helped us get through some of those dark days. Our summer plans were changed, but we were blessed to spend more time than ever together. Both kids were troopers and never complained once about helping their dad out. They each got to travel with him for a week, and they took perfect care of him. They not only helped Brady out, they helped me out, as well. My spirits took a dive a few times throughout the healing process, too, but one of us was able to pull the other back up into the light. It is so easy to feel sorry for oneself! It is hard to see the positive, sometimes, but between the four of us, we were able to make the best of things.
One of our lows was a side effect of Brady's accident. When something like this happens, it really brings to light who your true friends are. Some of the people we held in the highest regard ended up not being who we thought they were. But this was a great lesson for us, too, because we now understand how important it is to sincerely reach out to people who are going through a tough time. And we remember all the people who reached out to us. Unfortunately, this changed the way I think about some people, but that's okay. It is good to see the true colors of folks when the chips are down. It is good to know who has an understanding of what really matters in this world, and what doesn't. Another thing that put this into perspective for me was a post by a very good friend of mine, which said, "Priorities: When someone says they are too busy, it isn't a reflection of their schedule. It is a reflection of your place on their schedule." This resonated deeply with me, because it is true, and not only was it an eye opener, it was also a good reminder for me to make time for the ones I love. Britt also experienced a hard lesson in friendship this year - he was heartbroken, because he is a tender soul, but he finally sees the light and understands what true friendship really is. At the end of the day, we are thankful to know who our real friends are, and we are also grateful for the reminder of  how important and necessary it is  to be there for people who experience a life-altering event.
The very worst part of our year wasn't Brady's broken leg, though. The worst part is still hard for us, and I don't know when we will ever get over it - maybe never. On November 1st, Brady's mare that he loved so much and that we all had such high hopes for, died. We did everything we could to save her. We still don't know what made her sick - she was eating the same thing the other horses were. Maggie was her name, or as we called her, Mag-Doll. Regardless of how it happened or why, she died, and it devastated us all. She wasn't even ten years old. I didn't realize how much she meant to me, personally. And yet, I thought of her as a person. I now realize I think of all our horses as people. I talk to them like they are people and care for them like they are members of our family. I didn't realize how much time I spend thinking about our horses and their welfare. She is the first horse I've ever lost, Brady's second. It has set forth the floodgates in me, which has been slightly mortifying, as I pride myself on being tough. I cry at the slightest emotional mishap, now, be it happy or sad. And I have a whole new appreciation for our horses. I love them more than ever, and I don't care if we don't ride them enough, because they make me feel complete. Horses are part of who I am. Maggie's death changed the way I look at the world. I feel especially sad for Brady, though, who loved her so much. The two of them had a special bond, and the sad part was that he was just getting ready to rope on her when he broke his leg. Then, his leg had just gotten to the point he could ride her again, and she died. Sadly, two of our friends lost their great horses this year, as well. "The year of the horse..." It can always be worse, though - a couple of weeks ago, one of my friends lost her niece, and another acquaintance lost their 4 month old baby, and those deaths brought to mind how lucky we are to have only lost a horse.
I used this picture for our Christmas card this year, not because it is a great picture, but because of how much it means to our family. This was the hardest Christmas card I've ever made, and not only was I crying the entire duration of the process, my computer picked up a virus, which made it even more difficult, and I had to redo it several times. By the time I was done, I was nearly ready to scrap Christmas cards, this year. But I'm glad I persevered, because even though I wasn't thrilled with the end result, it is sentimental to us, and in a way, it was a tribute to our Mag-Doll. The picture above is the last time I rode her. Below, she was so mellow, she just stood there waiting for me while I took pictures of and filmed Brady and the kids roping the ropin' dummy. The one below is Brady riding her on Easter, before his leg was broken.
And here we are, just like that, back to the very best of times. As one wise soul said, without darkness, there would be no stars. Truth! So it was a wild ride, and frankly, one we are still recovering from in many ways. We are looking forward to 2015, which, by the way, in the Chinese calendar, is the Year of the Sheep. Happy New Year!

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