Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Kindness Project

"...love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you..." Matthew 5:38-48 

If you are sick and tired to death of my FEEL GOOD POSTS every day, no worries! I am done with the daily "feel good posts." I did it! I completed my goal. I posted what I called "Feel Good" posts once a day every day of February. I gave fair warning in the beginning that it may make you sick of me - I am sorry if it did. But hopefully you enjoyed the posts and they made you feel... GOOD!

To tell you the truth, I was worried that this might be hard to do. I wasn't sure I would be able to find one good and fun thing to post every day for 28 days in a row. But you know what? It was surprisingly easy! I had more fun posts than I could even share. They came to me more easily than I can describe. And I think that can only be attributed to one thing - I was looking for them. If we look for the goodness in this world, it is there. In fact, it is right under our noses! We just have to look for it. And call me crazy, but after making this proclamation 28 days ago, I have noticed a lot more FUN stuff being shared by my friends. I am sure it has nothing to do with me, and they are just tired of all the negativity, as well. Whatever the reason, it feels so much better than listening to political rants. Just sayin'. And let's face it - all political rants are negative and offensive to SOMEONE.

Which brings me to my next point. Did you know it is a scientific fact we hear the negative in life a zillion times more loud and clear than the we hear the positive? That is a powerful concept. When I first heard this, I was a bit stunned. I thought, "How can this be true?" But it is true. I'll give you an example...

A motivational speaker can get up and talk to a group of people. Fifty people can come up to this speaker afterwards and share how much they loved every word of what was said. One person can come up and say how they didn't appreciate any of it and how it was not what they were looking for. In that motivational speaker's mind, it isn't the fifty compliments that will resonate. It is that ONE NEGATIVE comment that will get stuck inside the speaker's head. Even though FIFTY OTHER comments were POSITIVE! It is always the negative we hear and think about.

So that is why I think being mindful is so important. It is why I think we all need to look for the goodness this life has to offer. It is why I believe words matter. It is why I have decided to keep working at spreading love and joy and kindness to as many people as I possibly can. I am calling it "The Kindness Project." Frankly, now is the absolute perfect time to continue spreading love, joy and kindness. Lent is here!

For Lent this year, I am going to do something I have never in my life been able to do before. I am going to pray for my enemies. Every day. In fact, we are going to do this as a family for Lent. Not that we have a lot of enemies, but there are certainly people who don't like us. I think everyone has a few of these folks in their lives. It certainly won't be easy, this I know for a fact. But it is kind and good and what Jesus Himself asked us to do. I never understood His concept until this year, at this time in my life. Before, I couldn't see how it was possible to pray for my "enemies."

Being the target of hate and negativity can do wonders for perspective, though. My eyes and heart have been opened the past few months in ways I did not anticipate. It is obvious the world needs more love, plain and simple. It is obvious that good does exist. In fact, underneath my crazy and strong, sometimes offensive personality, even I myself am good. Yes, I have goodness to offer. Being a conservative Trump-loving Republican doesn't make me a bad person. I have a big heart, I promise, and I am going to use it. We all have more than enough negativity and hate thrown at us - I refuse to engage in it. I won't contribute to the hate. Instead, I will love, I will pray, and I will spread love and joy to the best of my ability.

If you can, choose love. Love one another. Be mindful. Be kind. Spread joy!

"...love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you..." Matthew 5:38-48 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Britt Turns Lucky Number Thirteen

This boy had a birthday on Saturday - his 13th! I can scarcely believe he was born thirteen years ago. Britt didn't want a big party. He's a homebody, and lucky for him, his birthday fell over the weekend, so we were able to stay home. He was thrilled! He did have basketball in the afternoon, but the timing was perfect, the sun was out, and it was a great day from start to finish. Below, the traditional picture of the "present table."  
And the traditional picture in front of the present table before the traditional opening of the presents. We have a lot of birthday traditions.
I like how sweet Rosin is watching Britt from her bed in the background. So cute!
Before Christmas, Britt asked me several times if I wanted Bill O'Reilly's book "Killing the Rising Sun." I said, no, not right now. I figured I would wait until I found it in St. Vinny's or Goodwill or a yard sale. When my birthday came, I got the same question from him. I realized he really wants to read that book! The O'Reilly Factor is Britt's favorite show on Fox, which my kids get to see and listen to on a regular basis (I call it my taxi fee when we are in the car driving to and from their practices), and he has been very curious about this book. Britt loves history, and the reviews of the book are amazing. So we got him two of Mr. O'Reilly's books. For her part, Brailey has been wanting to read "Killing Jesus." Amazingly, on Britt's birthday, Brady and I had an hour to kill in between Britt's games, and so we went to St. Vinny's, and there it was - right on the counter in front of the door! It was meant to be. So we have three of the Killing books, now, and we are all excited to read them. "Killing Lincoln" is the other one we got for Britt.
Britt wanted this Bubba Watson driver cover so badly! It will look adorable on his driver. It is the cutest driver cover I've ever seen, that's for sure. And he had several NBA jerseys on his list. He was very happy with the ones he got. Two of them are Dallas Mavericks, and he is wearing one to school and taking the other for his friend Camdyn to wear. They play basketball every Tuesday and Thursday morning, two on two, so they will be repping the Mavs today. Team spirit in so many ways - I love it!
And of course his "big" present was a phone. His first! Brailey got one when she was much younger than Britt, but we didn't feel Britt was ready for one until now. We held a contract signing, which includes maintaining straight A's, and so he has some work to do before he can actually take the phone to school. We let him use it over the weekend, but it got turned off and put away Monday morning. Amazingly, getting his grades up has become much more of a priority. Battles are sure to come with this new responsibility, but hopefully we are ready for them.
The traditional "official" birthday pictures. We took these on our way to his basketball games.
Some lovely car selfies.
I made my "famous" cookies for both kids. I made the shamrocks for Britt's team for after their games as a birthday treat. The hearts I made for Brailey's JV dance team as an impromtu early Valentine treat. The hearts didn't quite have enough time to dry, but the girls loved them anyway. Bray had dance practice on Saturday at the same time as Britt's games. We were thankful the timing worked out well so we could stay home all morning. I will admit I was a bit disappointed Britt's team didn't sing Happy Birthday to him before they grabbed a treat, but that's the way the cookie crumbles, as they say! (Don't you love all my puns?!) 

Below is my buddy Jackson, one of Britt's good friends. This boy warms my heart! And the boy in the glasses below that picture is Tyler, another boy who warms my heart. His family moved here this fall from Utah, and he is super shy. A boy in glasses who is shy is a sure ticket to my heart. 
After we got home, it was time for late night birthday cake. Dairy Queen Oreo Blizzard, Britt's favorite kind!
Britt had to get a picture on his new phone. So cute!
This picture is funny, because the 13 is actually gold glitter, but it looks black. Who could know? In any case, my 13 year old was a happy boy.
The next day, we had more basketball. The boy next to Britt is Camdyn. These two have become really good friends. We have given Camdyn a few rides home, and on one trip, I asked what music he would like to listen to, and he said, "Whatever is fine with me. My family listens to Christian. We took a challenge on the radio to listen to it for a month, and we just never stopped. That was over a year ago." This was great for Britt to hear, as I have the Christian station saved on our favorites list. We've been trying to listen to it more. They are both tender souls and they play ball together every Tuesday and Thursday morning. It is a bummer they don't have the same lunch, but maybe next year. We are grateful Britt has found a basketball friend who is a kind spirit.
Brady's brother Boone came to the games. It is always fun to see Uncle Boone, and Britt was happy he came. Brady loves his little brother!
The kids got me this blanket for Christmas. I absolutely LOVE it! And so does everyone else. I rarely get to use my own blanket! Britt is especially fond of it. We had root beer floats after his games on Sunday to wrap up his birthday celebration. He wanted to go to A&W for floats on his birthday, but we don't have one in our area. So we surprised him with homemade root beer floats after his shower. He was cold, so he wrapped up in my special blanket. I couldn't resist sharing this picture. It was a great birthday weekend, and we are already halfway through February. Time sure does fly when you're having fun! 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Resolution to Quit Cussing

Do I have a potty mouth? Oh man... Do I EVER! I've had one for a long time. I grew up with a mother who never said a bad word and a dad who only cussed with other men, for the most part, but me? I am a full-fledged cussing addict. That is, until now. I have resolved to change my ways - no more bad words!

Britt and I actually made this resolution together. I have been a terrible example for him. Brady said he never cussed until he met me. Somehow I doubt this, but hey! It's his story, and he can tell it any way he wants, right? I do have some responsibility in his profanity, I will admit it. I'm an a bad influence.

If you are wondering what brought me to this point, it is simple. Britt, my precious, sweet Mama's Boy, started cussing. Kids in public schools start cussing at a very young age, and especially in this area. I don't know if it is like this in other communities, but I'm guessing cities are a bit worse than smaller, country schools. It would be interesting to study, wouldn't it? In any case, we were fairly protected from this kind of language at Buena Vista, which is a smaller school in Eugene. But once my kids hit sixth grade, they were exposed to cussing on a whole new level - middle school level. Wow. Brailey said it is worse in middle school than it is in high school. And it caught up with Britt. His cussing at school, which truly mortifies me, started happening at home, too. He fell prey to what all of us who curse fall prey to, at some point - it becomes the natural dialogue we use. Not good.

So you can imagine how this upset me. And yet, how could I, one of the biggest cussers of all, tell Britt not to do it? I am not proud of this character defect of mine - I am frankly, extremely embarrassed that I let myself succumb to a language so denigrating, disgraceful, tactless and classless. I am completely ashamed of myself in this regard. I haven't been a good example. Somehow, Brailey didn't follow my lead, thank goodness, and she doesn't condone cussing or think it is cool. But Britt, he actually likes cussing - what boy doesn't? And I can only point the finger back at myself, because I haven't modeled the behavior that I want him to follow, and we all know children do what they see. 

Brailey's dance coach has a lot of wisdom she shares with the girls, and one piece of advice she gave during a parent/dancer meeting really stuck with me. It was right before Christmas, and it had such an impact, it led to this resolution not to cuss. She was talking about social media and behavior in general, and she said, "If a Disney princess would not say or do it? Then don't say or do it." 

I see a lot of profanity on social media. And you know what? Even though I am a cusser in my personal life, I restrain myself when it comes to social media. I can at least be proud of this, right? I do have a shred of decorum and good taste. Not a lot, but a little! And guess what else? I have found myself offended by people posting things with profanity in them. And honestly? I don't like cussing. I hate myself every time I succumb to it. So no more. 

Since making this proclamation to no longer swear, I have relapsed a few times. This is normal - relapse is part of recovery. And I don't know how Britt is doing at school, but  he hasn't cussed at home at all, so I will take that as a positive. I have given him the authority to help me and to correct me. When I do have the occasional slip, which is always in a moment of frustration or anger, Britt lets me know, and he has decided I must say the "bad" word backwards two times in order to undo it I do this even if I am not with Britt and I relapse. 

We actually made this resolution for our entire household, but Brady is struggling a bit with it. However, it has brought to light for him that he cusses more than he realizes. Hopefully he will become reformed before the year is over. I'm not going to lie - it is tough. Profanity is everywhere! And it lives in my head. That is the hardest part of the battle - changing the language in my head. I am working hard to be a better example for Britt, and I am trying to teach him that he should never, ever swear in front of a girl. Again, tough to do when Brady and I both cuss in front of each other. It's never too late to transform bad behavior into more acceptable behavior, though, and I am working through my relapses and hope to have myself fully reformed sooner than later.

Because the bottom line is this - WORDS MATTER. Wish me luck on this journey. I need it! 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Deranged Snow White - Dance Competition in Stayton

Last Saturday found Brailey and I in Stayton for the first dance competition of the Winter Season. Brailey was so excited about the costume for this dance! She described it to me, but I couldn't really picture it. I was worried, because they had to wear wigs (how would that work with all her hair?!). After I got to the competition and saw them, I was blown away. Wow! It was hard to tell who was who! My mother's instinct must be strong, though, because I was able to find Brailey within seconds. Her face is easy to find with those movie star lips!
She was so happy her coach recognized her for having good facials in the developing stages of this dance. Brailey is one of the girls who often is overlooked. She works hard and never misses a practice, but dance is not easy for her, and the competition is stiff. She was thrilled to her (pointed) toes when her coach praised her facial expressions in this dance. This is, after all, her favorite part of dancing! The actress in her, I think...
I included these pictures below in a series to show how "on" they were in their moves. They spent a lot of time on the form of the dance and not as much on the choreography. They did great! In Winter Season, they perform the same dance twice, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Brailey was perfect in the morning, but she did mess up in the afternoon. She was very upset with herself for this, but she carried on well and finished the dance. Hopefully she will get her muscle memory before their next performance. Brady and I told her not to worry about it - shake it off. Mistakes happen every day, and we think she is amazing. We are, after all, her biggest fans! And that is life. We all make mistakes, and we all must carry on. 
I took the picture below to show just a smattering of the dancers. Each team sits together. The Sheldon Colleens Varsity are on the bottom in the green masks. Brailey's JV team is in the middle. The team spirit at these competitions is really nice - every team cheers and claps for the others, which is truly heartwarming. You just don't see a lot of sportsmanship in any avenue of life, these days. I appreciate this aspect of dance.
I caught her before she had to go in for lunch - we got a dramatic picture. My precious "deranged" Zombie Snow White. Her wig stayed on perfectly!
In the afternoon, they sat on our side of the bleachers, right next to the Sheldon parents, so I was able to snap this picture (below). Brailey is the top left of the Snow Whites.
There was Drill Down, of course. She made if farther than she ever has, but still didn't make the Top Ten. Brady loves this part, so she is going to have to win it for him one of these days. Thrill Down (as Brady calls it) requires a very serious face, and a lot of concentration.
After the dances and Thrill Down are done, all the teams circle up for awards - another fun tradition in dance. Brailey's JV team was the only JV team competing, so they won first. Considering all the hard work they put into dancing, it was nice for them to receive an award. I liken it to learning math or reading - sometimes you have to give kids an easy victory, so they will be inspired to work for the harder victories. 
Circle time after winning two trophies. The Varsity girls were amazing! They never disappoint, that is for sure. 
Can you tell where Brailey is? I am betting you can. Her face is precious and distinct with her darling features. Even dressed as a Zombie Snow White, she is beautiful. Looking forward to seeing this dance in it's new form and entirety - stay tuned for future posts. 

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...