Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Family Photo Shoot That Almost Didn't Happen

These family pictures almost didn't happen. They were "this close" to never materializing. But happen they did, and I am so grateful, because I love them. And I think it may be a new family tradition, because pictures are truly important, and we need them. Isn't it magical that of all the moments that come and go in our lives, a few of them can be captured to help the memories live on? Originally, I scheduled the pictures to commemorate our 16th anniversary. Brady and I didn't have a big splashy wedding with a professional photographer, and our wedding pictures aren't very impressive. Digital photography wasn't mainstream back when we got married. So I thought it would be nice for the kiddos to have a good picture of us for when they move out and have their own places, someday. I did my research, and I was so happy to finally find a professional photographer whose work I loved, Whitney Lily Photography. The first hiccup came in scheduling her. I had envisioned pictures at our house in the sunshine, the end of summer. However, she was booked solid all the way into October. I was super disappointed, because I am not a fan of fall. At all. Leaves are not my thing. Plus, I was worried the rain would come, but what could I do but pick a day and hope for sunshine? Well wouldn't you know, the weather was beautiful all the way up until a couple of days before our pictures. And then, unrelenting rain! I was devastated. And mere days before, I developed a humongous blemish on my face. However, at this point, it was the ONLY DAY we had to get this done. Everything else had been scheduled around this appointment. It was a do or die situation. I had just decided to scrap the entire thing, and yes I will admit I shed a tear over the situation, when our sweet photographer saved the day and messaged me with a solution. She knew the perfect place to go that had the light of the outdoors, but cover from the rain. And so we kept the date, and if you can believe it, it rained all morning, but quit during our session, and then came back after our pictures were over. So I guess these pictures were meant to be, after all. Even if they were in the leaves! So ironic. To tell you the truth, it all worked out perfectly, and we had such a good time! Brady was hilarious and he had us all laughing from start to finish. We aren't exactly model material, so I am sure we were unlike any family she has ever photographed. And we didn't make her page or Instagram, so we must not have been too impressive. But we had an absolute blast during our session. Brady had more fun than anyone! Britt didn't want to have pictures done at all, but he ended up having a great time, too. There are a couple of shots I wish we had thought to get, but for the most part, I love the pictures. And if we do make it a tradition and do them next year, both kids will be out of braces and we will all look older and wiser, I'm sure. I feel vainglorious in sharing so many of these, but the ones I picked are some of my favorites, and I just couldn't resist. Hope you enjoy! 
We were trying for a "serious" picture. So of course Brady is smiling! This picture makes us all laugh so much. I am seriously grateful for this family of mine. They are a dream come true, and I live for them every day. They make me happier and more proud than I ever dreamed it was possible to be. Thanks for keeping up with our lives, and I think I may try to post once a month on the blog. Only time will tell, but for now, this post sums up where we are - The 4 B's, living and loving like there is no tomorrow!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The End of Blogging

The day has come - I no longer have the time to blog. Or rather, I no longer have the desire to make the time to blog, because it does take a lot of time. And my kiddos don't really appreciate me posting about them. I think people are probably sick and tired to death of all my bragging on my kids and sweet husband, anyway. So I have thought about it, and I think the answer is pretty clear.

Actually, back when I started blogging, it was a form of therapy for me. Writing has always felt therapeutic to me. It still does. The good news is, I am in a healthier place today than I was when I first started blogging. My family and I have been through some incredible journeys, and although we will still continue to grow and learn and change, we are all healthy and happy (knock on wood, right?!). As I look back over the years, I used to blog nearly every day. Then my posts got fewer and fewer every year. And although I have a zillion things I could write about, I frankly don't feel like using my very valuable time to post it.

So a couple more posts, and I'm going to wrap it up, at least for a while. Perfect for Christmas, right? (See how I used that little pun, there? I love a good pun!) I have this post and one more fun one, and then on to different things, like selling silver and being the best mom and wife I can possibly be. One of the transitions of life, I suppose.

Here is what has been going on in my head, as a sort of farewell to the end of a blogging era...

First of all, my desk has become piled with more things than I ever dreamed it could. I have piles and piles and piles of things all over it. This means I either need a bigger desk or I need to get better organized. My piles have even spread to the chairs in front of my desk and onto the floor. To be fair, part of this is from Christmas. But I can no longer deny that this has become the norm instead of the unusual. I am actually grateful to have this problem, but it is my goal to get my office in order this year. A New Year's Resolution already, if you will.

I experienced my first flat tire on the road last week. I was having a great trip, zipping from store to store, cleaning cases and merchandising them, meeting the wonderful workers who take care of them, and on my last stop, I came up with a flat. Did I panic? Yes, of course I did! I frantically called Brady, who was a little panicky himself. Then I calmed myself down and figured out what to do. Actually, I am embarrassed to admit that what I did was call Les Schwab. Years ago, when I was in high school, I will never forget the time my grandpa watched me change a flat tire in front of his house. He watched me from the window in the kitchen. I did it, no problem. After I was done, he said, "I wanted to help you, but I wanted to make sure you knew how to do it in case you ever need to do it when I'm not here." He was proud to see that I was able to do it. So when my tire came up flat the other day, I was ashamed that I no longer knew how to change my own tire. But I was so lucky in where my flat tire occurred - one mile from Les Schwab! I called them, they sent the most wonderful young man down to put the donut on my car and then I followed  him to the shop where he set me up with the perfect used tire to match my other tires. Oh, and if you are curious? I ran over a spark plug, and it was still in the tire! (See pictures below.) It made a humongous hole in my tire, though, so they weren't able to repair it. But the kid was so professional and kind and he had me back on the road in about an hour. At first, I wanted to cry, but as I got back on the road, I realized how very lucky I was to have been so close to Les Schwab and that it happened when it did and not on the freeway. And now Brady has decided to give us all a lesson on how to change a tire, if we need to. Just for the record, there are special covers that go on all the lug nuts that have to be taken off with a certain tool, so I am up for the lesson, believe me.
I have been loving being back in the work force "for real," even though I have always worked from home in some capacity, both for an education company based out of New York and as a sales rep for a clothing line. Not to mention supporting Brady in his job whenever I could with all the computer stuff that is much easier for me to do. I will say I have a new appreciation for women who work, because we truly have to do it all. For example, when I have a conference call, which is always at 7:00 in the morning, I have to make sure to get ready for the day, fix breakfast, make lunches and then sit down to my call. When Brady has a conference call, he gets up, gets some coffee, and gets on his call. It is also much more difficult to keep the house and place in order. My house has never, not once, been spic and span clean, but now it freaks me out even more. I have changed the days I do laundry on from Monday to the weekend. I have given more chores and responsibilities to the kiddos, but I still want to be their mom, for goodness sakes, and it is only a short time that I have left with them before they are off and running into adulthood.
These pictures are from a new store in Philomath that Brady and I met with last week. This store is going to be so super cool! Out West Farm and Ranch. Opening soon! Below, we all had leopard print on. Is that so funny?!
Speaking of kids growing up, I have been thinking a lot about "last times." I recently saw a meme or a poem or some such thing about how there will be a last time for everything your kids do. I saw this years ago, but recently I remembered it, because doggone it, my kids are just growing up way too fast. I remembered that Britt used to have a little boy voice, and every time we would get in the car to go to swim practice, he would say, "So! What do you want to talk about?" I don't remember the last time he said that... And I used to do Brailey's hair, and I can't remember the last time I fixed it for her. So many moments come and go and even though I have tried very hard to appreciate every second of their lives, sometimes life itself gets in the way and I may have missed one of those important last moments.
The other day, we had a moment that ended with me crying. This bothers my B's so much - they can't stand it when I cry. But I saw a video of a kid that was bullied, Keaton Jones if you want to google it, and he was crying and telling his mom what the bullies did to him at lunch. And the next day, they were talking about this video on Sirius Radio with Kip Moore, who actually brought this video out into the spotlight where it went viral. The kids and I talked about how sad it was, and then Keaton's voice came on as they played the video and of course the tears rolled, because it was so heart wrenching to hear. Brailey also cried when she watched the video, and Britt admitted it was sad. But it really hits home for me because of how badly Brailey was bullied last year at her high school both by former friends and by liberal classmates who didn't think she was worthy of being acknowledged simply because she had a conservative viewpoint that didn't match up with their liberal one. And I remembered how sad she was and how hard it was to witness as a mother. But the moment was a great time to remind my B's to never, ever treat someone badly, and if they see someone being mistreated, to stand up for them. They were both insulted that I felt the need to say this to them, as they already know this in their precious hearts. On the other side, I told them to please tell me if anyone ever mistreats them, because they are not alone. And by the way, I have an update on the former friend of Brailey's who was mean to her last year - that girl actually saw and read my blog post about her, and she wrote Brailey a heartfelt and very nice apology over the summer. They saw each other at a cross country meet in the fall and said hi, so that was nice, and I am seriously impressed with her parents for understanding the situation and stepping in, because somehow they read between the lines of my blog post and knew it was their daughter I was referring to. And we are grateful for the apology. In all honesty, though, the entire experience of bullying that Brailey endured sparked our decision to move to Harrisburg Schools, and that has been the best decision of our lives, so we are thankful for all the bullying, in a way.

As I said, the move to Harrisburg has been beyond our wildest expectations. We feel like we found the perfect school for our kids and they both got rave reviews during Parent Teacher Conferences. Both Brady and I were able to go, and he said it was a Top Ten moment in his life to hear how appreciated our kids are and to learn they are doing well academically and socially. Every teacher took time to speak with us about how they were doing - there was no time limit. When we changed schools, we were most worried about Britt, as he didn't want to change schools at all. It was great to learn he fits right in with everyone and is doing well. He is looking forward to the middle school basketball season starting after Christmas and he is also on a winter club team with a great coach. Ironically, he was put on the Marist team with mostly all Catholics, so that has been a great fit for him. We are grateful he has one more year to develop his skills and to get caught up before high school.

Britt and I went to our first Blazer game last weekend, which was a lot of fun. His own team had a tournament in Portland and so the coach planned for the team to go to the Blazer game, as well. Brady was in Las Vegas working at the NFR, so I took Britt and Brailey stayed home by herself overnight for the first time (and loved every second of it!). I was nervous about getting to and from the game, but our hotel was right by a station for the MAX, and so we asked for help and figured out how to ride it. It was great! The Blazer game had a lot of entertainment besides the actual playing - it was so fun! Both of us enjoyed the ride on the MAX, and I think I could ride that thing anywhere, now. We took the Red Line, in case you were wondering. And Brailey worked on a very special trash can and enjoyed having the TV all to herself - she watched the Young Guns movies and loved them. She wasn't scared one bit and did a great job holding the fort down.
Brailey is truly a homebody and has been enjoying having more free time than she did last year. She loves Harrisburg and joined the FFA chapter at her school, which has been a great decision. She also loves her wood shop and horticulture classes and is enjoying how easy Spanish is for her. It is comforting to know that all those years of Spanish have paid off, and she is reaping the benefit of it now. She is considering asking to be an aid for her Spanish teacher next year in order to keep her skills fresh. It is heartwarming to see her happy and actually looking forward to going to school. By the way, the four day school weeks are the bees knees - we love them! She worked the concession stand with some of her classmates at the basketball games the other day, and the girls were all so nice to her. Such a refreshing change to see!

While we were at the game working concessions, Britt was at the middle school running the clock for the middle school girls basketball games. He was asked to do this by one of his favorite teachers, who happens to be one of the high school football coaches. Britt must have done a good job, because they asked him to do it again this past Monday, and Britt was thrilled to accommodate them. When I picked him up, he said, "Well, I did my service work." And he enjoyed it, which I was happy to see. The next day, he was rewarded for his work with a gift card to Dutch Bros. Have I mentioned how much we love the Harrisburg School District?

Brady had a great time working at the NFR and he sold a zillion pairs of boots. He loves what he does, and it shows, no doubt about it. He met some fun people, including one of Brailey's favorites, Dale Brisby. We called Brady Sunday, and he was with Dale and boy did Brailey get the surprise of her life when Dale came on the phone! She was elated at the fact that her dad got a picture with him, but when he came on the phone, she was nearly speechless. It was on our car phone, so it was fun to listen to. He told her, "Remember, an apple a day keeps everyone way, if you throw it hard enough." He is hilarious, for sure!
Our arena ended up needing more dirt, so we are in the process of getting that taken care of this week. Brailey hasn't been able to ride because the ground was just too deep, which has been a real bummer for her, but she's been busy and the days are so short, she really hasn't had time, anyway. We are excited to have it finally finished so she can get her boys legged up, again.
A couple noteworthy things about Brailey you may not know. One, she got her braces off. Hooray! And two, we colored her hair. We have such a struggle with the iron in our water turning our hair orange. We use filters in our showers, special shampoo and conditioner, but Brailey's hair is so long, and it had a lot of brassiness to it from years of growth. So we decided to color it! She would love to be blonde, which is her natural color, but we went with a rich shade of brown, and it is beautiful. We are anxious to see how it will grow out and hope it lasts. We shall see! She looks so beautiful with the darker hair.
And that about wraps up all the highlights of our busy lives, other than Brady and I celebrating our sweet sixteen anniversary as a family, because that is how we do almost everything - as a family. And that is what I have tried to do with this blog, for the most part - celebrate our family and share the ups and downs and document a small portion of our lives. But there is a time and place for everything, and not only do I have to be more mindful and careful with my time, I want to be more careful about what I share. I want to respect my children's privacy a bit more. I love to share, no doubt about it. I think I overshare, which I have probably done since the beginning of this blog. Today I post quite a bit more on Instagram than I do Facebook. I am reconsidering that avenue, as well. As much as I try not to care, it is hard not to get sucked into the "likes" game, and I spend way too much time on my phone between Instagram and Twitter. I refuse to put Facebook on my phone, so I do have limits, but social media in general is a huge time hog that I am thinking about putting on the back burner. Time is precious! I haven't made up my mind, yet, because I just don't know what I want to do. But time will tell. So for now, one more post - stay tuned for that, and sorry for this one being so long - essentially, each paragraph could be a blog post. Thank you for reading and keeping up with my crazy!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

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 Globetrotters come to town, we miss out, and I kick myself and wonder why I didn't buy tickets to go see them. I remember watching their cartoon as a kid myself, and I saw them when I was in college at Gonzaga. I admit it - I have always been impressed with their tricks and I love the comedy. This year, I made an executive family decision and bought the tickets. I did it all on the spur of the moment. You may think that Britt was excited to see them upon learning we were going to see the Globetrotters - he was not. However, let your heart not be troubled by that news, because he didn't know what he was missing out on, and after we got to the show, he was enthralled and we all had a great time! 
But first, he had his own basketball games, the last he will ever play with this Sheldon team. They had two fantastic wins, and were doing a little showboating of their own. It was a lot of fun to watch the boys laugh and be less serious while playing. We had anticipated being on a winter team with these boys, but it was not meant to be, and Britt will be on a different team. Sheldon is nothing if not political, and their sports rule the roost - once it was known that Britt is attending Harrisburg, he was off the team faster than a speeding ticket. What can we say? We were disappointed to begin with, but everything happens for a reason. We are thankful he at least has a team to play on until his middle school season with Harrisburg starts after Christmas. And we will forever be grateful to the coaches and kids who helped Britt so much over the past few seasons.
Back to my Globetrotters story, though... So Britt was not too excited to see them. He thought all they did were tricks and that he would be bored. I shared with him that it was a dream of mine to take him to see him, and the tender part of him changed his attitude and instead of complaining, he said it would be fun. The timing was perfect, except that we had free Meet and Greet tickets through the YMCA, but we couldn't take advantage, because of his basketball games. But we made it to our seats just in time for the start of the show. And wouldn't you know, he was pleasantly surprised with how much fun it was and how entertaining the Globetrotters were. He didn't realize they actually played a game. And his enjoyment of the experience made me really, really happy. Even Brady changed his tune and enjoyed himself - he was like Britt, and really didn't want to go, but was doing it for me. He ended up having as much fun as Britt and I - we all three had a great time! (In case you are wondering where Brailey was, she was off having her own fun with her best friend Nikki.)
Britt thought it would be fun to have a jersey that said "Too Tall." And number 7 is one of our favorites! The character Too Tall is actually the shortest Globetrotter ever to wear the uniform - he is 5'2". It is a great souvenir.
I got lots of hugs after I got him this jersey and headband. Ironically, on Sunday night, we saw a show on TV highlighting the Globetrotters and their biggest trick shots. It was fun to see after having just watched them perform live. And so now you know the backstory and pretty much everything in between - how a childhood dream I had for Britt was fulfilled. It was a win-win kind of day!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Ten Years in the Making

It was a project ten years in the making, but finally, it's done. And we are thrilled with how it turned out! We always wanted to put in a riding arena on our place, but something would come up to postpone the project another year. In the end, it worked out perfectly, because we talked to enough people and did enough research that it all came together in the best possible way. And finally, Brailey has a place to ride her horses at home! These are just a few fun pictures to show you the journey from the beginning to the end. We had the best excavator we could ever ask for - Brian Way of Way to go Construction. He has done a lot of work for us over the years, and he knew what he was getting into from previous projects. We have so many rocks and boulders, we were worried we might come across one too big to move, which would have shut the whole thing down, but the hillside and ground surprised us all - the rocks were perfect for the base and there weren't any too big to move. In fact, the job ended up being easier than expected, which was a great bonus. We couldn't be happier with how beautiful it looks. It greatly surpassed our expectations! Below is a Before picture, and the transformation goes on from there. Enjoy! 
Britt was such a rock star, helping Brady did almost all of the post holes. By hand! In restrospect, Brady said he probably wouldn't do it that way. But they did it!
In case you are wondering what Britt is doing, he is digging a rock out. 
Last Saturday was the most beautiful day of the fall. The weather was so, so perfect! My beloved niece Lanie and her boyfriend came to the Oregon Ducks football game, and they stopped by. Nate helped them dig one of the post holes before they headed off to the game. We got a lot of work done on this day thanks to the delightful sunshine. 
I was able to get it stained on one of the last sunny days last week. The weather was perfect!
And there it is, all the tops cut off the posts and a perfect fence line. So, so beautiful! Brailey has ridden in it twice, now, and we are super excited to be able to do all sorts of things up there. We can rope our hot heels, shoot the guns, throw a football or baseball around, and ride, ride, ride. Best of all, we have a nice road that leads up to it. Old Man Winter, we're finally ready for you.

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...