Monday, March 30, 2015

Spring Break 2015 - Projects

Where did the last seven days go? I swear they flew by in LESS than the blink of an eye... Makes my eyes water, in fact. BUT! The good news is, we got some long overdue projects done, and we had some beautiful weather. Back in January, when my parents came to stay with Bray and Britt while Brady and I were in Denver, my dad made the mistake of telling me he would come back to help us with our limb cleanup. We weren't able to get the limbs picked up in our upper pasture last year after the ice storm, and I had told my dad it was an overwhelming project. He worked on them while he was here in January, but ran out of chain saw gas. Thankfully, though, he understood my whining about it, and praise the Lord, he and my mom came over at the beginning of Spring Break to help us out. And truly, it was an overwhelming task, especially with Brady's bum leg, but what they say is true - many hands make light work, and not only were we able to get the limbs cleaned up, we went the extra mile and cleared out a bunch of blackberries, rose bushes, extra trees and debris. Above, we started the weekend with a hot dog roast, which is the first one we've had in a couple of years. There's just nothing better than a fire roasted hot dog, is there?
We knew we had poison oak on our hill. The horses and cats spread it to us every year. But we had NO IDEA how terribly infested this area of the hill is with the nasty plant. I washed everyone's clothes several time in an effort to curb our catching it. My dad was smack in the middle of it, and I know it touched him, but he didn't get it! Britt and Brady got a little, my mom got a tiny bit, Brailey escaped unscathed and lucky me, I hit the mother lode and have a terrible case of poison oak. I loathe poison oak, and this is a huge understatement! Still, I'm really glad we got so much done on this area of our property. Yay! And thank goodness for my old dad being in such great shape and loving to run a chain saw!
As I mentioned before on Instagram and Facebook, I didn't get very many pictures, because we were so busy working. We did get to watch Monday Night RAW with my parents, though, and Britt found an app that has a survey to tell you which wrestler you are most like. Above, he is giving the quiz to my dad. My mom managed to suffer through the show - for some reason, she hasn't found her love of WWE drama like the rest of us have. We are still trying to convert her, but she's being stubborn on the matter, much to her grandchildren's dismay. They just can't understand how she couldn't love it! 
At the end of week, we were able to fit in time for friends. The house was in shambles, as we finally repainted Britt's room, which is what took up the middle part of the week. Last year Britt and Daniel had a play date during Spring Break, and we redid Brailey's room, and Daniel's mom, my friend Kristin, got to see all the loveliness from Brailey's room, as well. She was also treated to the mess my house was during the week after Brady broke his leg this past summer. And most recently, the chaos of Britt's room. We finally got the house cleaned on Sunday, and I felt like calling Kristin so she could come and see our house NOT in shambles! All kidding aside, I know Kristin understands and she doesn't judge me, but it is kind of funny that everything is a mess every single time she has come out. The silver lining is that Britt and Daniel weren't bothered by the mess one bit! They still had a big time playing on the hill, climbing trees, having Nerf gun wars, playing with Legos and army men and talking up a storm. They are really fun to listen to. I love their precious hearts!
The before and afters... From a pirate wonderland to WWE. We are excited to begin decorating Britt's room, and he is thrilled with how it turned out. I'm so glad - it ended up being a much bigger project than I had anticipated it being, which put me behind on a couple of other things, but that's okay. Britt was so patient and helpful throughout the entire process, and he deserves to love his room. 
Britt took one morning of his break to do an entire math packet that was sent home as optional. And they both made homemade Easter cards. Brailey really got in to hers, and they turned out incredibly cute!
She also made some fun tee shirts that she found on Instagram. She cut up some of Brady's old tees and made them into fun new shirts for her. This took a lot of time and patience, but she loved every second of it.
And then it was HER turn to have a day with a friend. For the first time, I dropped her and Isa, one of her dear friends from previous years of volleyball, off at the mall and then took them to the movies. They had a wonderful, fun, exciting time and got to reconnect with each other. And they were totally fine on their own at the mall. They are both very responsible, kind and sweet. It is important to make time for friends - especially the ones you don't get to see very often.
And that brings us to yesterday. We found the most PERFECT set of limbs to add the finishing touches to Brailey's room. I love how they turned out! We may add some little lights to the limbs, but I think they look just as good like this, don't you? And below, Britt running down the hill yelling while Brailey closes the gate. They had just turned the horses out. It was a beautiful Palm Sunday, also my mom's birthday (read more about this in my previous blog post (Palm Sunday and Lent 2015 - The Struggle Is Real). We are so thankful to have had a week to get caught up, to decompress and to do the things we've been wanting and needing to do. Now we are rejuvenated and ready for a fresh start, which is what spring is all about, right? Hello, Spring 2015! 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Palm Sunday and Lent 2015 - The Struggle Is Real

Today is the beginning of the end in more ways than one. It is the beginning of Holy Week, which is near the end of Lent. It is the end of Spring Break, which is the beginning of the end of the school year. It is my mom's birthday, which is both the end of one year and the beginning of another. Melancholy - that's what today feels like. Happiness and sadness, all wrapped up together in a bundle of sunshine, which has been coming and going all day.

Above you see my little B's before Palm Sunday mass this morning. We didn't want to go... We wanted to sleep in one last day. But I knew that was Satan talking to us, and we had to get there, and so we did. And it was probably the nicest, most meaningful Palm Sunday mass I can remember. We needed it.

This season of Lent has been the hardest I've ever experienced. I think my family has felt that, as well. I knew it would be tough, but I also knew we could do it. We each gave something up, and we also made a special effort to do random acts of kindness, which we have been writing down and keeping track of. We did this to remind us to do more and to enjoy a sense of accomplishment. The acts of kindness have been the easiest part of Lent. Doing good always feels good, doesn't it? And we love to do nice things for others. We are givers, and proud of it! The "sacrificing" part of Lent has been the more challenging task.

Brady gave up ALL potatoes. Can you imagine?! He loves Five Guys fries, and he gave up eating them as well as all other forms of potatoes. This is not an easy feat when you are a traveling salesman. Near the beginning, he changed his mind and said it was only fries, but his darling children reminded him he had said ALL POTATOES, and so what else could he do but be true to his word?

Brailey gave up cookies. You would think this was a simple thing, but it turns out we eat a lot of cookies! And she dearly loves her cookies. In fact, I didn't realize how many cookies we eat until she had to give them up. Of course, right after Lent began, the Girl Scout cookies arrived. And she forgot once, at the PBR in Portland, when we were faced with a lovely plate of cookies after the show. Her mouth was actually ON THE COOKIE, when Britt remembered (even I forgot!) and said, "I thought you gave those up for Lent?" She stopped right before her teeth sank in and put the cookie down, which Britt ate for her.

Britt gave up french fries and arguing. The arguing was the hardest for him. But the fries were a challenge, as well. And of course, I kept forgetting it was Lent and would set fries right in front of him. He didn't give in - he stood his ground and refrained. Even at Applebee's, where he loves them most.

And me? I decided to go big this year. I knew it would be hard, but I didn't realize just HOW hard it would be. It might sound simple to you, but to me, it was a struggle. Daily. Even as I am writing this! I gave up one of my main food groups, chocolate. If you know me at all, then you know I adore chocolate. And it turns out it really IS a mood enhancer. So I was forced to replace my craving for chocolate with other forms of sugar, but they were much less satisfying. One week I decided to completely cut out all sugar - I did it, for an entire week! I've heard if you do this, your craving will go away. Not the case for me. I have a full blown addiction to sugar and chocolate, and it would take a serious stay in a rehab center for me to overcome it. I'm being serious. I LOVE CHOCOLATE. My family has decided I won't be giving it up again.

I do think it has been good for all of us to struggle through Lent this year, though. And it is so minor and pathetic compared to what Jesus went through. As a mother, I can't even bear to think of the suffering he endured. We didn't have a perfect Lent, this year, but it was meaningful. We barely made it to Ash Wednesday mass, but we found a service and we went. It was half Spanish and half English, and took twice as long. There was a lesson in that, wasn't there? We had to find a time that was convenient for our schedule, but it took twice as long. Yet God always has time for us. We aren't the best Catholics, but we do have a strong faith, and we do our best, even though I know it isn't good enough. Still, we are trying. And we aspire to do better.

I see hashtags with the phrase, "the struggle is real." (#thestruggleisreal ) The struggle IS real! It is hard to do the right thing. It is hard to sacrifice and repent and to be and do good. But nothing good comes easy, does it? And the struggle has been something our family has endured together. We have become stronger together. And we are looking forward to Easter Sunday and to more time being together. We are so blessed to live the life we do, and we are grateful. We are also spoiled. Lent is a great reminder of that. Happy Palm Sunday!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Double Trouble

Last Friday was a special day for me as a mom, because my two "babies," who are growing faster than I can keep up with and have moved beyond "playing" together, took a step back in time and... Played! We are getting ready to paint Britt's room, and so he took out all his toys and things he has outgrown. One of those things was a container full of Trios Building Blocks, and they had a big time! It was so precious to me. It didn't last for hours upon hours, but it might very well be the last time they do something like this.
And then, we let the horses out for a while, and I took these cute pics. Later on, while Brady and Brailey were riding, I caught Jingles (the cat) and Rosin (the pug) snuggled up together. All this double trouble on one day, which, ironically, was Friday the 13th.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Spirit Week at BV and Last Day Fun Day at Splash and California

Britt had a great week last week! The very best part is that it was only a four days long! But the fact that is was School Spirit Week and Last Day Fun Day at Splash for his swim team made it even better. I'm so glad he isn't too cool to participate. He is such a fun kid! We are still trying to get the red off his scalp. But he was a very handsome red head, that's for sure! In WWE speak, "All red everything!"
As you may have guessed, Monday was Crazy Hair Day.
Tuesday was Pajama Day. He actually didn't want to participate in this. He didn't think any of his friends would wear their pajamas to school, but I told him high school boys wear their pajamas to school, and I've seen many high school boys on the swim team wear them instead of sweats. Yet I left the final decision up to him (hard for me to do, if you know me at all!), and he made the right choice! And he was really glad he decided to be a "team player." I shared with him how proud I was of him for thinking it through and making a good choice to be an example and to participate in the fun.
Wednesday, Mix-n-Match Day.  This was probably his favorite day! He picked two different socks, both with capes, which added a certain flair, two different shoes, shorts and a shirt that didn't match at all, his shirt on backwards, and then his spare pair of glasses with two different earpieces. Ironically, when I had one of the broken earpieces replaced on these glasses, he swore he would never wear them, not even in an emergency, because they were embarrassing. However, for Mix-n-Match Day, they were perfect. And then he was a bit shocked that nobody even noticed the different earpieces. So now he wants to wear them all the time! That's my boy...!
And then, a fun afternoon of swimming at Splash to end the Short Course Season. He had a blast! He and his buddy Varun were inseperable. Another fun girl from Buena Vista who is a year younger than Britt was also there, and they had a big time riding the waves in the wave pool. It is really hard to get a good picture there, though, because of all the movement from the waves. I did my best.
And that brings us to Thursday, Team Spirit Day. Of course he donned his Oregon Duck jersey Brady got him for his birthday - perfection! He also borrowed Brailey's Oregon Duck socks. She borrows his socks all the time, so it was a nice for him to be able to borrow hers. And she was very gracious about it. It was a proud parenting moment, to tell you the truth. I love their sweet hearts! And now it is over, and the last Spirit Week Britt will have as a grade school boy. Bittersweet, that. But it was a good and successful one, so what can we say but HOORAY! 
And that brings us right up to yesterday, Monday, where the entire fifth grade gave their presentations on the state they had researched, made floats for and wrote a speech about. Britt was incredibly nervous to give his speech. He practiced it over and over and over again, and guess what? All that hard work paid off! He totally nailed his presentation when it really counted, in front of his teachers and fellow fifth graders. Brady and I were able to go, because it was in the morning before he left for his travels, and we were both so proud of Britt we could hardly stand ourselves! He is an excellent speaker! He had most of it memorized, and made lots of eye contact with his audience and had wonderful expression in his voice. His props were well-executed, and he delivered his catch-phrases in Arnold Schwarzenegger's accent perfectly! He looked like a celebrity in Brady's Ray Bans (which, ironically, are made in California!). Brady and I would have liked to stay the entire day to see all the presentations, because they were so interesting. This class is so blessed to have these two amazing teachers! 
Afterwards, we were treated to a super cool song about our nation. It was a fun little tune and they did a wonderful job singing it. It was a very special day for all these kiddos, and showed them that hard work pays off. They all learned about being successful, yesterday, because all of them did a great job. They will use this experience in their futures, no doubt about it. Muy bien!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Our Soap Opera

When I was a kid, my family and I watched a soap opera. Every day after lunch and sometimes during, we would all gather to see the latest episode of General Hospital. I developed my first crush watching this show - I was crazy for Frisco Jones! If you're wondering why I'm bringing this up, it is because I realize history is repeating itself once again, but in a slightly different way.

General Hospital was fun for my family, because it was a show we all enjoyed. We loved the characters and the story line. And today, my family of B's has their own "soap," although it isn't really considered a soap opera. But the WWE is our Family Soap, and it has been fun for us as our obsession with the wrestling world has evolved. I used to kind of worry about our crazy devotion to the WWE, and I thought in the beginning that it would likely be a passing fancy. I don't see our love for it going away any time soon, though. I believe it is here to stay. And guess what? I think it's a good thing. Much like General Hospital was for my family back in the day, we gather around the television every Monday and Thursday night. Brady even tries to make sure he catches the episodes on the road in his motel rooms so we can text back and forth about what's going on.

In fact, the WWE has become a sort of glue for us. Many a frown has been turned upside down by simply mentioning a wrestler. If I know one of my B's is upset or sad, I just mention some random fact about wrestling, and wah-lah! Like magic, the bad mood is instantly gone. We talk about wrestling every single day - I kid you not! We discuss the wrestlers. We talk about their stories. We follow them on Instagram. We have the WWE apps on our devices. We speculate about what will happen. This might sound silly to you, but I always remember what Dr. Phil says - talk about the little things with your kids so they'll come to you when there's something big.

Both of my kiddos dream of becoming a WWE Superstar. And I'm okay with that! The Superstars are the best of the best. And who am I to crush a dream? I hope they both make it! Maybe they will become the first Brother-Sister Tag Team. The people who do make it didn't get to the top by being lazy. They are good, hard working, positive people, and they send that message out to everyone.

Hustle. Loyalty. Respect. Never give up. Be the hardest worker in the room. If you're gonna do it, do it with flair (whatever "it" may be). We the People. The People's Champ. Eat, Sleep, Conquer, Repeat.

I think what is so appealing to us is the good vs. evil story. Good wins every now and then, and that is refreshing. It is a bit like the "Old West," and a good western story, isn't it? Good guys vs. bad guys. The bad guys cheat and lie, which is shown to be the negative it is. The good guys always prevail in the long run. And if they are defeated once, they will pick themselves up and try again. Believe it or not, just last week, John Cena inspired me! I was having a bit of a blue week - some things just weren't going my way. John Cena had just been defeated by a wrestler on the "bad" side, and he said it was tough, but he just had to reevaluate the situation and come at it from a different angle, which felt exactly like what I needed to do. See? Positive and helpful, I tell you!

I love the humor the WWE has - it is truly funny! It isn't serious, and yet it is. It has a mysterious quality to it that keeps us coming back for more. I don't remember a single episode that didn't include us laughing. And to get by in this world, you have to have a sense of humor. The WWE is great for showcasing this aspect of life.

Did you know the WWE does a lot of good in the real world? Well they do! They bring up important issues. They talk about unhealthy body images in women, about addiction issues, about helping others. They have pride in being American. They take care of their people. In fact, they have more fans than the NBA, NFL and MLB combined! Bet you didn't know that interesting fact...

My favorite wrestler, of course, is The Rock. I love him! I remember Brady and I watching him wrestle when I was pregnant with Brailey. I love his movies. I love his personality. There is no one cooler than The Rock! I appreciate his message to the world - work hard! Do good! Be happy! Have a sense of humor! Have fun! And he always has time for his fans. Best of all? He calls a pickup a pickup, not a truck. My hero!

Believe it or not, we even love the "bad" guys. I'll never forget how I inadvertently upset an elderly lady at the RAW show we saw in Portland last summer by sharing with her that I liked Stephanie McMahon. She couldn't believe I could like someone so evil! Clearly, some folks take it too far.

The WWE puts on a show unlike anything you've ever seen before, let me tell you! You get your money's worth when you attend a live event. Or watch tv! At our house, we put on our own WWE shows. Britt has a ton of action figures, which I teasingly call his "dolls," and he and Brady battle it out in the ring with all the characters he has collected over the past year. Sometimes we have a contest where one of us says a line and then the rest of us have to guess who it is - our own version of Charades. For the record, Brady does the best Randy Savage next to the Macho Man himself! Brailey can do a spot on Lana, Britt does a great Bray Wyatt, and I am pretty good at imitating Stephanie. Sometimes, we say the blessing before we eat in the form of one of these characters.

You might think we are crazy and obsessed - we are. But it has been so fun for us and good for our family. Britt spent his birthday money on WWE shirts. He waited until they had a sale, and he picked out some great shirts. Yes - he actually bought something useful with his birthday money - I love it! He wears a different WWE shirt to school every day, and sometimes on the weekends.

Brailey has had to channel her inner diva to deal with some social issues this year. This past Monday, her favorite Diva, Charlotte, reposted a picture I had posted of Brailey wearing her shirt on Instagram. When Brailey found out, she was ecstatic! I've never seen such a look of joy on her face. She is so positive she's going to be a Diva, she's researched all the wrestling schools in the nation and has asked to attend a local one for her birthday this year. Not gonna happen (this year), but still. Inspiring!

Both B's have become more motivated to be healthy. They work out every morning before school to get themselves strong. They want to be healthy. Hopefully, they are establishing life long habits. I thank the WWE for bringing this aspect of health into their lives.

So you get me? Do you see why I'm okay with the WWE? It's all about inspiration, good vs. evil, fun, humor, positivity, family time, and dreams. And as far as Family Soaps go, it's a great one!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Portland PBR and Volleyball in Salem

Yah! High five! This picture was taken after Britt and Brady had a freestyle race in the pool. They have been talking about it for months - Brady didn't think Britt could beat him. But Brady was mistaken, and it is all caught on film. Britt soundly whooped his dad's booty! Brady couldn't believe it - he was winded after the second lap, and it was just a tiny motel pool, and Britt was just getting warmed up. It was four lap race. After a short rest, Brady decided to see if he could beat Britt in a breaststroke race, down and back. Once again, Britt won, by a full length of the pool! Although Britt asked him if he would like to do the butterfly, as well, Brady declined. His son's swimming skills have surpassed his own, which is a very good thing. And thus begins our story of the weekend...
Brady had the Portland PBR to judge on Saturday night, and Brailey had a volleyball tournament in Salem the next day. So we decided to spend the night in Salem rather than drive all the way home only to get up early to go back up the freeway. We checked into our motel for a quick dip in the pool on our way to Portland. Unfortunately, it was a very quick swim, and both B's would have loved more time in the water, but we had to get on the road for the PBR. At least we got that big race between Brady and Britt out of the way - it was great for Britt's confidence and Brady was really proud of him. The kid can swim, no doubt about it! He takes after his father, for sure.
The Portland PBR was super fun for us, because it was at the Moda Center, and it brought back memories of the big WWE Monday Night RAW show we saw last summer. It was also a kick to be in the locker rooms and halls of the Portland Trailblazer's house. Above, we ran into Mike Corey, one of the stock contractors.
They both thought the man in the picture above looked a bit like WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan, who does the "Yes!" chant, which is what they are doing in front of the picture. And below, part of the actual floor from previous years of the Trailblazers. Pretty cool!
They make fun of me all the time for my Selfie Stick, but as you can see, they managed to enjoy it themselves. Ha! Caught them in the act, I did!
Brady's judging headphones and Britt's Kindle headphones. Like father, like son, right?
And that takes us to Sunday, where we enjoyed a full day of volleyall.
Brailey tweaked her back in the middle of the games, but she took some ibuprofen, did some stretches and pushed through the day. You would never even know she was hurting, had she not said something. She actually didn't feel well at all, in addition to her back pain, but she played super and had some great sets, tips and serves. She is a trooper, for sure!
We love this venue, because it is a Catholic high school. I finally managed to get some pictures out front by the cross. As you can see, we manage to have fun no matter what we're doing. My shirt says, "That's my girl - Brailey." 
Look at those hands - she is getting really good at setting. She makes us so incredibly proud! And that's a wrap - another fun weekend in the books! 

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...