Friday, January 29, 2010

Sharing My Little B's

One of the hardest things about motherhood for me has been sharing. I was perfectly happy to have my B's at home with me 24 hours a day. When they are little, you can get away with this - they are your own little person to enjoy. And like I shared with you yesterday, I appreciate my kiddos every second of their lives. I was so happy to have them all to myself! When Brailey Shaye was four, almost five years old, my mom suggested that maybe I should consider putting her in preschool - not for Brailey, mind you, but for me, so I could get used to her being in Kindergarten the next year. She knew how attached I was to my baby girl, and she thought it would be a helpful way for me to ease into the school years. And into sharing her with other people... And once again, my mother was right - she's a wise one, that mom of mine.

Obviously, Brailey Shaye is a dream come true for me, and I couldn't have dreamed a more perfect daughter - she is beyond anything I could ever imagine. One of the worst things I've had to do as a mother was put her in daycare when she was three months old, after my maternity leave ended. I cried every single day I left her. And she was a very sober baby, in many ways. Because of my working hours, she was one of the first babies dropped off and the last to be picked up. She was in daycare from three months old until she was 20 months, which is when Britt came into our world. It took over a year for her to trust that she wasn't going to daycare - every time we would drive by the center she had been in, she would become serious and quiet, the saddest thing you've ever seen in your life. Even at that young age, she recognized her surroundings. She understood the pattern of driving from home to daycare. Devastating to my heart!

Thus, I didn't really want to share her when it came time for school. But it turns out she loved preschool and made friends that continued on into her Kindergarten class, so that was a wonderful confidence builder for her. Britt was thrilled to be in preschool, as well, and while I never would have put him in, his personality demanded it. He is Mr. Social and thrives on interaction with his peers. He would have been devastated not to go after having seen Brailey enjoy it.

So now, I cherish the days off from school like manna from heaven. I don't understand mothers who can't wait for school to start and who roll their eyes at time spent at home with their children - why did they even have them? Quite frankly, I think this is one of the major problems of our society - we are living amongst people who felt like nobody wanted them because they grew up in daycare. And I know I'm lucky that I don't have to make that choice. I am grateful to my toes that I get to be home with my babies. I am so lucky to have a part-time job that allows me to work from home, and I'm drinking in every second of this time with them. So yes, I am selfish when it comes to Brailey Shaye and Britt, and it is hard for me to share my little honey-B's. I think it always will be. And that's why I only do it if I have to.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Best Days of Our Lives

My friend Kim, who is my twin, has two kids very similar to mine. We call each other "Twin" not because we look alike. She is beautiful and thin and half Chinese - very exotic looking. We are twins in other ways, though. We have the same potty mouths, we both hate cooking, we both love reading the same books, and we both have fun, precious, beautiful children. She has a daughter and a son, of course, just like me, and her daughter is the oldest, as well. I've written about her daughter before, referring to her as Brailey Shaye's best friend, Jaden. Jaden is older than Brailey Shaye, but they have a special connection with each other, which Kim and I knew they would have even before they really met one another. The reason I bring all this up is to touch on what Kim has said so many times and that I completely agree with - these, these days, right here, right now, are the best days of our lives.

And this is really how we are supposed to live our lives, right? Any expert will tell you the secret to happiness is to appreciate the Here and Now. And that is one thing I know I do. I have a lot of character defects, possibly more than my fair share, to be frank. The one thing I know about myself to be true above all other things, though, is that I appreciate my babies.

I think maybe it is because I am an older mom. My friend Nicoley, who is due to have her first baby any day, tells me that everyone is older in metropolitan areas when they have their first child. Me, though? I wanted to be a mom forever! I dreamed of having a little girl to call my own since I was a kid myself. I have worked in education all my life, and so I've been around a lot of kids, and I used to feel so annoyed with all the parents who only had eyes for their own children. And wouldn't you know, now that I have my two B's, I'm the same way! I try not to take it to extreme, but now I understand how someone could become so twitterpated with their own flesh and blood.

For me, pregnancy was a dream come true, because I had tried for several years to become pregnant. God always has the best plan, though, and none of my efforts to become pregnant worked out. I was married to someone else, and now I thank God every day that I didn't have a child with that man. In any case, even after Brady (who I believe is my soul mate) came into my life, we didn't get pregnant right away, and I truly believed I was infertile. I had just decided that it would be okay, that I would be fine without ever becoming a mother, that Brady and I could have a great life together no matter what, and then BAM! Pregnant! And I have to say, I loved every single second of being pregnant, both times! We thought Brailey Shaye was a true miracle of God, and were shocked when I became pregnant a second time. And Britt turned out to be just as much of a blessing as Brailey Shaye, and I always say he saved her, because if it weren't for him coming along, she would have been in daycare her entire life. And now, my two B's are the best of friends. So you can see why I appreciate them for the gifts they are. I feel so blessed and lucky to be their mother! They are wonderful in every way, and these really are the best days of our lives. And like my Keith Urban says, these are the days we will remember...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Funny Things My Kids Say

These are all comments my little B's have made in the past couple of weeks...

Brailey Shaye:
"You're skinny, for your age, Mom."

Britt:
"Yah, you're skinny except for your bottom. It's just kind of big... But not bad!"

Brailey Shaye:
"Well, and one other area is a little big, too... You know, your, uh, stomach?"

Brailey Shaye:
"You have good skin, for your age."

Brailey Shaye:
"Come on, Bells Shaye." That is what she calls her cat. Her doll is Macy Shaye, which is what I was going to name her before we decided on Brailey. The Bells Shaye takes the cake, though...

Britt:
"Okay, can we discussion this?"

Britt:
"I'm a toot man!"

Britt:
"By golly!" This was said after I popped him with a balloon very quickly. I couldn't stop laughing!

I wish I could have back all the wonderful, funny things they've said over the years. Latley I've been trying to write them down as soon as they say them (which my mother told me to do a long time ago, but I never remembered to do until recently - how crazy is that?), because if I don't, I forget them. My mind just can't hold all of them - there are too many! I so love my funny, happy B's...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

History Repeats Itself

We've all heard the saying, "the only way to predict the future is to look to the past." And it is so true! History repeats itself every single day in millions of ways, and most recently, in my life.

Friday afternoon, Britt and I were in the car, driving home from dropping Brailey Shaye off at ice skating practice. On Fridays, her good friend Coral comes to the rink to skate, and Coral's mom, Suzanne, watches the two girls until Brady comes to pick Brailey up. We've only been doing this a few weeks, and it has worked out really well! I don't trust my babies with most people, but Suzanne is wonderful and takes perfect care of Brailey Shaye, and it is great for the two little girls to have fun skating together, since they go to different schools and don't get to see each other that often. Before Suzanne suggested doing this, Britt and I would have to wait around, which was fine with me, but got tiring and "boring!" for Britt. Thus, the reason Britt and I were in the car alone on Friday afternoon. We had stopped off at Target to get some popcorn, because they sell the freshest, tastiest popcorn in town, and I felt like Britt deserved to have something fun, too, right? (Not to mention the Popcorn Combo deal for $1.50, which includes a bag of popcorn and a drink - still working on that fizz addiction!) Anyway, the entire drive from Target to home was spent with Britt telling me all about a G.I. Joe movie. And when I say movie, I mean the entire movie, with every single detail covered. Finally, just as I was reaching my tolerance level for this story, which held no appeal for me whatsoever at all, I remembered something about myself - I used to do this exact same thing to my mother! And if I'm being totally honest, I still do it to her today! And so I thought to myself, "This is my payback for torturing my mother with various monologues about books and movies throughout the years." Yes, my son got that motormouth quality from me... What can we say? We're passionate people, and we like to share our joy!

I experienced history repeating itself again on Saturday night with Brailey Shaye. I'm not one to take baths - I generally prefer a shower. However, I was super cold on Saturday, and so I decided to take a bath. I lit some candles like my friend Nicoley does every time she takes a shower (she said it relaxes her), turned off the lights, and prepared to relax. And here came my little Shaye-Shaye with her cat. "Mom, can I come in here with you? Me and Jingles?" Well, what do you say? So I said yes, of course she could. And she was so thrilled! She sat down on the toilet and started talking to me about all these things in her life, including some stuff that happened between her and her friends at school. And that is when it hit me - the memory of myself as a kid, sitting on the toilet seat just like Brailey Shaye was, talking to my mother while she took a bath. The difference is that my mom would take a bath nearly every night. I don't enjoy baths as much as my mother, but I was still struck with the notion that Brailey Shaye was doing what I used to do, and I realized how exposed and vulnerable my own mother must have felt, stark naked in a tub while I was pouring my heart out. I never thought it was odd when I was a kid to see my mom like this, though, and I don't think Brailey did, either. Sadly, I put so much pressure on Brailey Shaye to be "good," she doesn't often confide in me about things in her life. I worry about this, and I'm working on making myself more approachable to her - my mom said Brailey knew she had my full attention in the bathtub, which probably made her feel safer in telling me the things she did. Which means, apparently, that I need to take more baths! Because my mom and I were always close, and I told her everything, and I really want that for Brailey Shaye and myself.

In any case, isn't it interesting that things from my past would come back to me through my children? Very interesting indeed. And downright wonderful!

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Joyful Big Daddy

Big Daddy got a new work pickup over the weekend! His boss wanted him to have HEATED, LEATHER seats - oh yah! So he had to transfer everything from his "old" pickup (which is a nice one, too!) to the "new" pickup. Oh, and in case you were wondering? He LOVES his new wheels!

Here are his little worker B's... I think they each ended up making a dollar. There were so many nails on the blacktop I didn't know if it would ever be safe to drive on again! Fortunately, the kiddos loved the little magnet finder tool their daddy has. To them, it was a fantastic adventure! At one point, I looked out the house window and spied Britt on TOP of the new work pickup... What can we say? Apparently, playing in a vehicle is big fun!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Spiritual Imitation

Well, The 4 B's made it to mass for the third Sunday in a row this morning. And we are PROUD! And happy and thankful and peaceful. It is always hard to get there (to mass), because it is so easy to justify staying home. Brady and I have really been making an effort to get ourselves to mass, though, and so far we have been sticking to our Revolution. It helps that when one of us doesn't want to go, the other does. Not to mention the guilt that kicks our B-hinds when we don't put God first. In any case, I noticed this morning that Brailey Shaye was imitating Father Steve as he prayed over the altar. He was holding his hands out to his sides with his palms up, and I looked down to see Brailey holding her hands the same way. My little spiritual angel... Later on, as we were kneeling, I noticed her checking my hands and then folding hers in exactly the same way. I told her last weekend that it is important to hold her body up straight when she is kneeling and not to lean on the pew behind her or to squat down on her knees, and she worked really hard at making sure she was "respectful" this morning. I explained to her that the Sisters taught me this a long time ago during Summer Church School. It is okay to slouch and lean on the pews if you are elderly or sick, but not if you are young and strong. I think it is a good lesson, although some people would probably disagree and criticize the church. I believe it is important to show respect, though, and I am proud of my Shaye-Shaye for doing what I asked of her. She also likes to sit in the front row. All of my life, I've tried to sit as far in the back of the church as possible. A couple of years ago, however, my mother shared with me that a priest we mutually know shared at a mass my brother attended (he is the one who told her, and then she passed it to me) that it is pleasing to the Father for members to sit in the front of the church, making room for people who arrive late to come inconspicously into the back. Most people prefere to sit in the back of the church - isn't that interesting? Nevertheless, one Sunday I decided to test my courage and to try sitting in the front pew. To my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed it! I felt more a part of the mass, better able to pay attention, and proud to be there. So now, we make it a practice to sit as close to the front row as we can, and guess what? The front rows are the last to be filled. I am thrilled that my kiddos are learning to enjoy mass in this way. Brady wasn't too high on the idea to begin with - he prefers the second or third row back. This morning, though, Brailey Shaye asked him if we could please sit in the front row, and he said, "Sure! We can sit wherever you like, Brailey Cakes!" And now that he is used to the idea, I think Brady likes it, as well. If you are wondering where Britt is at in all of this, he gets to attend his Church School class during mass. On the Sundays he doesn't have a class, though, guess where he prefers to sit? The front pew. I hope my B's will always feel comfortable to do this throughout their lives. And let me just say, it was a beautiful sight to see my darling little girl imitating our priest - front row and center, she's got the perfect view.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Game Night at The 4 B's

After having made our New Year's Revolutions, we have found great success with one in particular - Friday nights! We designated this as Game Night, and now we actually sit down at the dinner table (as opposed to the breakfast bar) and eat by candlelight and then play a game on Friday nights. My mom got us a really fun game for Christmas, called "You've Got to Be Kidding Me!" So far, this has been the only one we've played, because it is so much fun. Tonight, however, we are going to change things up a bit, and instead of playing a game, we are going to watch a movie, Bedtime Stories. I think the important thing about Fridays is not whether we are playing a game or watching a movie, but the fact that we are doing something as a family, all four of us involved at the same time. Although we have only been doing this for a few weeks, it feels like a good family tradition to stick with. Before long, it will be game night in a whole different way, (if we're lucky). Hopefully, we will be attending a football, a basketball or some kind of game on Friday nights. I don't care what kind of sports my kiddos get into - Brady and I will support whatever they want to do. What I do care about is the fact that we will all be there, wherever "there" may be. In the meantime, I am so thankful for this special time with my 3 B's. I am grateful to have them all to myself. Lord knows I have to share them enough during the week - the weekends belong to Big Mama!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

January 2010 Pictures

Brailey Shaye holding her poster she made for her Spanish poem, Dibujar, which she recited today in front of her entire class. She did a wonderful job! I was a very proud mother, and Britt was a proud little bro.

Here they are at the top of the "hill" that we climbed again today. We took advantage of the beautiful warm weather!

And here they are on our way back down the hill, which we've determined is much easier than the way up. See the beautiful "sighting" behind them?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Spring Training Update

Well, we've had to tweak some things on our Spring Training campaign. After the first two times, it stopped being fun for the little B's. So, a couple of times, I had them do wind sprints, instead, which they liked much better. I have them each run as hard as they can from one end of the driveway to the other, individually, about 50 yards, I would say. Back in grade school days, during the annual Play Day in which all the rural schools in the county would come to my school for a track meet, we called it the "50 Yard Dash." I won every single race I ran in at those Play Days, but the pressure started to get to me, year after year, and I would literally lose sleep a month before The Big Day by the time I was in the fourth grade, and I would practice and practice running at home. I couldn't let Kristie beat me - she was my main competition! We tied a couple of times, but I never received anything less than a blue ribbon. So of course, as I watch my little dumplings sprint down the driveway, I can't help but remember my own childhood. The races started out small, the 25 Yard Dash for the little guys, and then the 50, 75 and 100 Yard Dash. The nerves had me so beat, I didn't run the race the last year, when I was an 8th grader, because I had had a seizure on a school trip to Portland a couple of months beforehand, and so I used that as an excuse not to participate. Afterall, better to keep my winning record than to fail the last year, right? In retrospect, I remember how unsupportive my teacher was, because he knew what I was doing. However, I was also on an anti-seizure medication which made me very tired and groggy, and I probably wasn't at my healthiest state. Maybe he could have cut me a little slack? Anyway, who knows why I got off on this tangent. Oh yes, my children taking me down memory lane... So last night, instead of running sprints, I decided the three of us would hike up the hill behind our house, because I didn't feel like jogging last night, and they didn't feel like running. There is a really nice road that leads to a house behind our hill, and it is all uphill. We walked up it last summer, and the kids love it! Brailey Shaye, who is my superstar athlete, did great! I had to keep saying, "Slow down and wait for us, please." "Us" was Britt, Rosin and I. I was fine, but Britt was having a hard time and crying and whining and wanting to quit. And so I said, "Come on, you're almost past the hard part. Keep going! Where's your heart?" And he put his hand on his chest. So I said, "Where's your try?" And he pointed to the ground behind him and said, "Back there on the ground." Which totally cracked me up! I told him to pick his try up off the ground and to keep on going. So he did... Grudgingly. Then, once he made it past the hard part, he was thrilled with himself, and the view. He said, "Wow - look at the sighting!" How cute is that? And then we discovered that we had another straggler - our 9 year old basset hound! She made it all the way up and back, which is amazing for the old, overweight dear. Britt said he liked the way back down the hill much better than the way up. And we all three enjoyed the scenery on the way down, which looks much different now than in the summer, because there aren't any leaves to block our "sighting." So, alas, the spring training is still on. And hopefully, my kids will never feel the pressure of a 25/50/75/100 Yard Dash like I did - hopefully, they will just enjoy running for the sake of running and walking for the sake of walking and enjoy it for the fun and fitness it provides, not as a test of who-knows-what. Oh, and just so you know? I never even went out for track in high school. But I did have a foot race with Brady a few years ago, on the same driveway I have the kids running on now, and I totally kicked his long-legged "B"hind!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

DIBUJAR

video

Brailey Shaye was practicing her poem she had to memorize and will be reciting in front of her entire class this week. The poster was part of the project and reflects the poem. I didn't realize how loud the dryer was in the background. The stray arm you will see is, of course, Britt. Enjoy! (What do you think of her Spanish, Zora?)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Hooked on Picoult

Great! I have yet another addiction... Which I need about as much as I need my fizz addiction and chocolate addiction. What can I say? Apparently, my personality is much more prone to addiciton than I realized. Not drugs or alcohol for me, though. Lately? READING! I've always loved to read. I read all the Harry Potter books a couple of years ago, and loved every one of them. Then last year I was crazy over the Twilight series, which was so phenomenal I couldn't even get into another book for the longest time. Nothing compared! So basically, since finishing the last Twilight book last winter, I've just been reading whatever. Nothing too exciting. Until I discovered, thanks to my blessed Twin, JODI PICOULT! My friend Kim handed me the book Salem Falls around the beginning of December, and it was a really good, wonderful book. I am one of those people who will choose my reading material by author, so I thought, "what the heck? I'll see if I can find another one of hers." "Hers" being Jodi Picoult's. So one Saturday after suffering through a birthday party (which my kiddos enjoyed immensely), I rewarded myself by swinging by St. Vinny's to see what they had. And wouldn't you know, they had My Sister's Keeper, right in the front window display! I grabbed it happily and started reading it at my first opportunity. Well. This book was the most emotional book I've ever read. I cried through the beginning, and then I sobbed through the ending. Oh my GOSH! My family didn't know what to think about me as I was sitting in the chair sobbing and reading while they watched TV. And just like that, I became hooked on Jodi Picoult. I love her writing! I managed to find one more of her books, Plain Truth, at Goodwill a couple of weeks later. Then, when the kiddos and I went to Seattle to see our Nicoley, she took us to her favorite used bookstore, and there was a whole stack of Jodi Picoults! She bought me some for Christmas, which was so sweet of her and meant the world to me. I chose Nineteen Minutes and Vanishing Acts. The one from Goodwill, Plain Truth, was amazing for me, and so was Nineteen Minutes. I'm still thinking about all the players in those stories. The characters are so real, they feel like actual people to me! I've managed to get my hands on all of Picoult's books, now. I just finished The Pact on Saturday morning, and then, last night at 11:30, as I was once again sobbing, Harvesting the Heart. So yah. I read an entire 450 page book in two days. Hence, the realization that I do seem to be a bit addicted to Jodi Picoult's work, and I need to stop. It isn't like I just sit around and read all the time, either - I mean, Saturday was filled with Brailey Shaye's softball clinic for two hours and then another birthday party for three hours, and yesterday we attended mass. But I definitely need to put the books down. I'm going to make myself read some magazines that I need to catch up on, I think. Maybe... Or perhaps I'll just wait until tonight when I hit the sack to crack open another one. I'm reading them in order by copyright year, at this point. So Mercy will be my next one. Mercy ME! I need an intervention...!

Friday, January 15, 2010

The F-Word

I definitely think this is definitive of the time we are living in... Britt told Brailey Shaye yesterday that he knows what the f-word is! "It's 'fart,' Brailey. That's why Mom has us say 'toot' instead." He apparently figured this out at school. Now tell me, is that hilarious, or what? But seriously, I can't believe KINDERGARTENERS are discussing all the "bad" words they know. Britt asks me all the time what the a-word is, the b-word, the d-word and he was dying to know the f-word before he figured it out. Little does he know, he's heard the real f-word a hundred-thousand times! And mostly out of my potty mouth, not his dad's... [Hey! I'm working on it! I'm a work in progress, remember? It is one of my New Year's Revolutions...] Funnier still is the book about Mt. St. Helen's that Britt brought home from the library? "Am I allowed to say that, Mom?" "What, 'Helen's?'" "Yah, isn't that a bad word?" Well, it does have hell in it, after all. That's some pretty good logic, don't you think? Speaking of mountains, Britt also told me he loves me all the way to the top of Mt. Heverest! I think he meant Everest, but "Heverest" is cuter. It kind of sounds like "heaven."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ice Fun

video

This was filmed from behind two windows, so you can't hear them. They didn't even know I was filming them. I still think it is cute!

Ice skating at the rink together yesterday - this was Britt's third time this winter! I was standing on a big step above the glass when I took this picture. Brailey Shaye loves it when Britt skates - she told me she is his "coach."

Britt took this picture of us on my birthday. Brailey Shaye took one of Brady and I with Britt, also, but my eyes were half-closed in it, of course. This is the first picture Britt has ever taken - not bad, eh?

Britt is proudly putting the candles in the cupcakes. This was a great job for him, and he was thrilled with his work!

Here are the gorgeous purple flowers from my parents and the lovely cupcakes and bear cake Brailey Shaye frosted and sprinkled. She made sure they were on purple plates. Aren't the flowers beautiful?! I love them...!

Brailey Shaye frosting the cupcakes. This took her about a half hour to do. She's my cooker, that's for sure!



Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Weighty Issue

Yes, I'm talking about my weight, which seems to keep increasing. So I decided to make myself accountable, let the world know of my struggle - maybe this will inspire me to shed some poundage. I used to blame my recent weight gain on antidepressants, which I took for about three years, I think? I started taking them when I was babysitting an extra kid a few years ago. She was a baby when I started watching her, six months old, and Britt was eighteen months and still in diapers. Lordy-Lord! Being responsible for your own kids is a breeze, but add someone else's into the mix, and it gets a whole lot tougher. Of course we all became attached to her and it wasn't really all that bad. Except for the fact that I felt so tied down. And thus, a trip to the doctor and the arrival of antidepressants into my life. The doctor told me to be careful of my weight on them, and I was fine for a while. And I felt great! However, the pounds did seem to keep creeping on. Plus, antidepressants are expensive as hell! So, about a year ago, I decided no more! I'm done with antidepressants, forever and ever, amen. And it was a big adjustement period, let me tell you. Ask anyone in my family, and they can tell you it wasn't an easy road. But I think my hormones are finally functioning on their own, now, and I am trying to develop my coping skills. However, the weight doesn't want to come off. Which leads me to think perhaps the antidepressants were just an excuse for my other bad habits, of which I do have many when it comes to food. Like the fact that I adore chocolate, and not dark chocolate, which is actually good for you, but milk chocolate, and I have to have it every single day. And the fact that I love my fizz, which for me is Dr. Pepper. And the fact I adore McDonald's fish sandwiches, which are only a buck on Fridays in Eugene... And the fact that I love to eat the worst kinds of foods. In fact, I don't really care for anything that is healthy. True story! But I am still trying, hence the "Spring Training" with the kiddos, which will hopefully benefit me as much as them. And I've been drinking less fizz, although I haven't been able to knock it out 100%. I am not the type of person who can diet or even do weight watchers or journal or use online weight managment tools. I've tried all of those. I've even tried Slim Fast! Did I mention I've always had a slow metabolism? I don't think I've been trim since I was about 9 years old. It is ironic, though, how you always think you are heavy, but then you look back on yourself a few years prior, and you think, "Man! If only I were that weight again!" I no longer care to be my dream weight of 128 pounds. No... Now, I'm just shooting for a size 10, however much "it" (that would be me) weighs.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Paving the Way

Riding in the car this morning while Brailey Shaye wrote out her spelling words in a notebook, practicing for her Friday test, I was struck once again with the notion my mom has brought to my attention many times - the younger child isn't "smarter," like everyone thinks they are. Rather, they reap the rewards of the oldest child's experience. It has taken me over four months to figure out the most effective way to help Brailey Shaye study her spelling words. Now that she has endured the pain of my "help," we seem to have it handled... Four months later? Geez! Which is lucky for Britt, because by the time he is in second grade, not only will he have heard all the words Brailey is learning, he will know how to study for his tests most effectively right off the bat. This is but one example of how the oldest child paves the way for younger siblings. I only have my two B's, of course, but I think this could be said of any family with more than one kid. I used to think Britt was sooooooooooo smart. Well, yes, he is quite brilliant (I mean, really, I'm not the only one to think this - just ask Brady's mother!), but so is Brailey Shaye. Instead of having to deal with all the emotions and fears that his sister had to endure, Britt goes through them at the same time Brailey does, only on a much safer scale. Preschool? He couldn't wait to go! After all, he'd been there every day to drop off and pick up Brailey Shaye and it looked like such a fun place. Kindergarten? Same thing - he'd been in that classroom every single day of the school year. He won't even have to go through the trauma of starting a new school, like she did in first grade, because he's been there with her every single day. The school he will start next year is familiar and comfortable to him, already. He's even heard Spanish, which Brailey never encountered until her first day of first grade. And even now, as Brailey goes through each grade and stage of her life, I am stumbling along, trying to determine the best way to help her. Britt is already doing well in reading, because this time around, I take the time to listen to him read. The teacher has changed some things from when Brailey was in Kindergarten, also, but because of Brailey's struggles, I now know the importance of listening to them read out loud. I myself was the oldest kid in the family, and it does put a burden on your shoulders. It isn't easy to have your parents test drive everything on you, and then by the time they get to the next kid, they have it down to a science (as much as that is possible). We haven't pushed Britt nearly as hard as we push Brailey Shaye. The sad thing is, you don't even realize you are pushing the oldest - you think you are helping them. But when your help crumbles around your broken heart, you pick up the pieces, realize your mistakes and refine the process for the next time around. It is all part of the birth order, of course, but it does play a big part in shaping who they will become. I am thankful my mother gave me this insight. It isn't right to put the youngest on such a high pedestal, because while they are smart, they are also far more prepared, and that is a big advantage in the world of learning. In the world, period! Experience is everything, isn't it? Frankly, they owe it all to their older siblings. God bless the oldest children of the world!

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Queen B's Birthday

Oh yes! That would "b" me! Ha! Better known as Big Mama to my 3 B's, but also the Queen B of The 4 B's, for sure. And let me tell you, I was truly treated like royalty, yesterday! I have to say, it was one of the best birthdays I can remember. For once in my life, I decided not to get all tweaked out and worried about what Brady would "do" for my birthday, and it worked to my advantage, because he and the kids were fabulous! Since my birthday was yesterday, they went shopping on Saturday morning and according to Brady, had a big time picking stuff out for me. Britt got me a new cell phone, which I have been wanting (telling myself I "need," but this isn't exactly true), so that was a wonderful gift for me - it even came with a car charger, so that was exceptionally wonderful. Brailey Shaye got me an "ipod," which is actually an MP3 Player, but I would never hurt her feelings, and I don't know if I'll ever be able to figure it out, but I am so excited to have one! She thought it would be good for me to use when I "work out," you know... Brady had actually planned to get me those two things, but the kids took those ideas over, so he ended up getting me this really cool organizer for scrapbooking and knitting and reading or whatever I want to do with it. Very cool, since Saturday afternoon, my twin, Kim, started showing me how to knit! My family is super excited about this, for some reason? However, I definitely need some more lessons, because my practicing has turned into a big mess. Thank goodness Kimmie is such a good teacher and so patient with me. I am really excited to be learning a new skill, and now I have a bag to store my yarn and needles in! My parents spoiled me, as usual, rotten! They got me tons of scrapbooking things, because my mom remembered me telling her I want to learn how to do that this year. So cool! And, they gave me a gift card to one of my favorite stores and a gorgeous arrangement of purple flowers! BEAUTIFUL! They were sitting on the counter when Brailey Shaye and I got back from her softball clinic, and I said, who are these from? And she said, "Oh! I know! Those are from Grandma! She told me..." I do have to say that my favorite gifts, though, weren't the presents... It was all the extras... Like the way my Mom wrapped all my presents in purple paper with all these fun ribbons and bows on them, even though she just had eye surgery and can't see out of either eye - how did she do all that?! And the fact that she and Dad called and sang me Happy Birthday - that, I will never forget... And the way Brailey Shaye had me help her make cupcakes and then she frosted all of them with pink (her favorite color) frosting and sprinkles, which took her a good long time to do. And the way she wrapped all of my presents and made sure they even had bows on them. And the way all three of my B's worked so hard on my cards - so special! And the big hug and kiss Britt gave to me, because he remembered my answer when he asked me what I wanted for my birthday - a big hug and kiss. It was truly priceless... Of course I had to open my gifts first thing in the morning - they couldn't wait any longer! As soon as I said it was okay, they ran screaming into our bedroom to wake up Brady, "DADDY! GET UP - GET UP! IT'S MOM'S BIRTHDAY TODAY!" Just like it was Christmas morning or something... Our plan was to go to mass and then to Applebee's for lunch (or Applebeast, as Britt calls it). However, Brady is on call right now, and he got a big job right during mass, so we had to postpone our lunch until the afternoon. It all worked out fine. Later, Britt got to put candles on the cupcakes and my special little bear cake, since Brailey Shaye got to make them, frost them and wrap the presents. They both were so proud of themselves! And when it was all done, Brady said, "Was this your best birthday ever?" And I said, "Of course it was!" And Brailey Shaye said, "When we said our first prayer in mass this morning? You know, when we kneel down? My prayer was all about you, Mom. I prayed that you would have a great birthday." With a prayer that special, how could it have been anything shy of spectacular?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

December 2009 Pictures

Brailey Shaye and Britt playing dress-up (AAAA-gain!) the other night...
My fabulous birthday present made by my two little B's, The Bird Trapper!













Cowboy Britt at the Pasco PBR on New Year's Eve. Isn't he a handsome one? I love how he looks in a cowboy hat. This used to be Brady's hat, and he proudly passed it down to Brittster Man.






Brailey Shaye posing for me at the Pasco PBR in her new hat and boots. She picked them both out herself - my little fashionista!




The handsome PBR judge... Brady Murray, Brady Murray -what's your hurry Brady Murray? LOVE this man!



"There Might Be..."

Brailey Shaye said the absolute funniest thing ever yesterday in the car as we were driving home. A song was on the radio, by David Lee Murphy, I think? And part of the lyrics say, "there might be a little dust on the bottle..." And so Brailey said, "This is a very unappropriate song, isn't it?" Which was perplexing to me, of course, and so I asked her why would that be? And she said "There might be a little dust on your bottom? That is disgusting!" Now that's funny - I don't care who you are!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Spring Training!

The kids and I are officially in "spring training," or so I've told them. This is important for two reasons: Britt's therapy and my shape. We have always known Britt has trouble with his feet and running. It didn't come to light just how badly he was hurting, though, until tee-ball last spring. And so, nearly $700- later in therapy, we have been doing nightly stretches and exercises to try to help his body grow more normally. The problem is that his bones are growing faster than his muscles can keep up with, which has caused the muscles in his legs to be extremely tight, making his feet turn in. At one point last spring, he could barely run at all, and let me tell you, while this is nothing on the scale of the myriad of health issues some kids go through, even this small thing is heartbreaking for a parent. Frankly, I can't even imagine how devastating something worse would be. Well, okay, I can imagine it, but I don't want to - I'm the mom who cried over her daughter's broken arm, which puts it into perspective on my scale. In any case, I've noticed the stretches aren't working as well now that we are in the heart of winter and the colder weather, and so I told the kids we are going to do like the real baseball players do, and we are officially in spring training for tee ball! The bonus to this is me getting to exercise, which is something I badly need to do. We'll talk about my weight issues another time, but suffise to say I am thrilled my kiddos are at the age where they can "come with." And of course I changed my workout plan to accomodate all three of us, and so far, so good! I jog very slowly, and they can keep up with me easily. However, they don't have the stamina to go as far as I do, at this point, so they walk when they are tired, and then I meet them on the way back. And we only go on the road in front of our house, which is way out in the country and safe to be on. Brailey Shaye's legs are so long (thank you Lord, for giving her Brady's legs and not mine!) it is hard for her to go as slow as Britt and I. Plus, she doesn't have the physical problems we do. She has all those skating muscles and speed and strength. She more or less runs, and then is exhausted and walks. So it is good for her to learn how to jog, I think. She also tortures her brother, and won't walk with him when he needs to walk, and so there is whining and yelling involved. We are still tweaking a few things... I have to tell you, though, there aren't words to describe how cute it is to look down at Britt jogging next to me, with his arms and legs pumping away, pride written all over his face, which is bright red from the exertion - he has that skin that turns red when he is hot. Before we run, we do our stretching and "high knees" and skipping, which is supposed to be therapeutic for Britt's hip muscles. Today, we have Brailey Shaye's ice skating lesson, and Britt is going to skate around, as well. He is finally old enough to feel like he can skate. At the Ice Center's 20 Year Celebration right before Christmas, he skated for the first time in over a year with Brailey Shaye's ice coach, Allison, who was so sweet to put her skates on just to skate with the two little B's, and she told him how much he had improved, which was great for him to hear. He answered her, "Yah! Me not sitting on my knees and doing my leg stretches is really working!" Big Mama is keeping her fingers crossed that our little Spring Training will work, too, and come baseball in March, he will be able to run as fast as he wants to run, and maybe I'll be a little trimmer, too.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Back to the Grindstone

Yup, back-to-school-time after having my two little B's all to myself for the past two-plus weeks... Always makes me sad! Rainy days and Mondays don't get me down, but dropping my kids off at school does. Every single day I feel a sense of loss when I have to leave them. It is so hard to have to share them with other adults and to allow them to be at the mercy and influences of other kids.

Brailey Shaye was so excited to be going back, and this is a wonderful thing. Britt said he wasn't, but as soon as we got to the door of his classroom, he was ready to see his buddies. He just knew that his mother needed a little extra TLC - such a sensitive boy, he is... Brailey Shaye, on the other hand, told me this morning that she "just loves her teacher!" and she didn't really want to be on Christmas vacation in the first place. Both music to my ears and a crack in my heart. I picked her up early on the last day of school before the winter break so we could get through the Portland traffic and into Seattle a little sooner, and she was actually mad at me! She has become quite the social butterfly, which makes me happy. She had a hard time adjusting to her new school last year. From Kindergarten in Coburg, she was lucky to get into the Spanish Immersion school in Eugene through the lottery system. She adored her first grade teacher from last year and became quite attached to her (they still have a connection). It was definitely hard for my Shaye-Shaye to be in a new school where she didn't know anyone and everything was Spanish, though, and she fought it in her heart and mind for quite a while. It took her until after Christmas to accept the fact she wasn't going back to Coburg Elementary. And now, she loves her second grade teacher and has more friends than ever - guess who's the one in denial this time? Yup - Big Mama is depressed that her baby girl is growing up so fast and leaving me behind. I waited so long for her to come along, it just doesn't seem fair that she is already "leaving the nest" in ways that I'm not ready for. Which is one of the tests of motherhood - raising your babies to feel confidence in being themselves, which means letting go a little more every day, but still trying to give them a place to land. I once read that holding on to something too tightly is like holding sand in your hand - the tighter you hold it, the faster it falls through your fingers. I'm reminding myself today not to squeeze my B's too tight, because I want to hold onto their childhoods forever...

Monday, January 4, 2010

Conversations with Brailey Shaye and Britt

Living with my two B's is like living in a movie. The things they do and say are so funny! Every mom thinks their children are special and funny and wonderful, and I'm no exception to that rule.

Brailey Shaye is the sweetest little girl I know, always caring about other people and making things for people. Yesterday she made a card for her "best friend in the world," Jaden. It is a heart shaped card made out of bright pink paper, cut with special scissors that make a design on the paper (like pinking shears), held together with a white pipe cleaner. It says "My Friend Book" on the cover and the then the first page reads "Me and Jaden love ech (each) othar (other)." On the back of this page it says, "We love droeng (drawing) and skateng (skating) together." The next two pages have a picture of ice skates and then the two of them smiling next to each other. It is adorable! I had nothing to do with it, other than to spell out the word "friend" when she asked me how it was spelled. Of course her spelling is off on other words, but that is part of what makes it so adorable to me. Brailey Shaye is so sweet she makes me want to cry, at times. This is only one example of her sweetness... She's done thousands of things like this.

Britt is my comedian child, and has a lot of sweetness in him, too. The other day, he was sitting next to me in our chair in the living room. He was taller than me, because he was on arm of it, and snuggled next to me as close as he could be. Who knows what we were talking about? Probably his GI Joe set up or something that happened in Pirates of the Caribbean... I said to him, "You look just like your dad, right now." This made him so happy! He hugged me and said, "Awwww, thanks Mom! Do I really look like Dad?" And I said, "Yah, the way you're sitting there and looking down at me reminds me of your dad." And he gave me another hug and said, "Awwww, you're so sweet! Thanks for saying that, Mom. I want to look like Dad!" And I said, "Oh, thank you, honey, you're sweet, too, and you do have some of your dad in you." He was so proud! Later, when I repeated this conversation for Brady, Brady was just as proud. He and Britt have gotten closer than ever over the past few months, now that Britt is old enough to "help" his dad and to do fun things with him.

I try to savor these special things my babies do and say, and to keep them in my memory forever. But then they'll do something else that is precious, and my brain can't seem to hold all the memories I want it to, and I end up forgetting. For example, the "bird trap" they made for me on Saturday, for my "birthday present." It is a hideous mess of wires and twine and sunflower seeds hung on the basketball hoop, designed by them to lure the birds in so they will be "shocked" by the wires. If you wonder what is so wonderful about this gift, it is the thought they put into it, because they know I have a terrible fear of birds, and so they are "getting rid" of all of the birds for me. Tell me, can there be a more thoughtful gift? Another precious memory to catalog in my mind.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Pain of Change

So far, the New Year's Revolutions are not panning out too well... We didn't go to mass this morning, and I drank fizz yesterday. Opposite of the "list." Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! So today, I will be putting the list of goals that has been in my head into writing, and not on the computer, either. HANDWRITTEN. Maybe that will lead to more inspiration? Change is so hard and painful... The only path to growth is change, as they say. The same people also say old habits die hard, and boy is that ever the truth! It is so easy for me to get down on myself. I believe that is the difference between winners and losers, really - you never see truly successful people get down - they always see the sunny side of things. Losers, they doubt all the time. Which is what I am trying to stop doing. Am I calling myself a loser? Maybe. Another famous saying, the truth hurts. BUT, winners never quit, and quitters never win. AND, nobody's perfect. There are a thousand sayings for both sides of the coin, aren't there? In other words, it is too easy to justify negative behavior. I'm trying to flip my coin to the positive side. What can I say? I'm a work in progress.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year, 4 B's Style!

I never realized how much alike Brailey Shaye and I really are until tonight. Everyone always tells me how much we look alike, (which I can't really see) and I know we have the same walk and she definitely has some of my characteristics, but I never thought about how similar her heart is to mine - I've always found her heart to be so much cleaner and kinder and sweeter and more precious. She is so my angel-girl...! Tonight, she planned a "surprise party" for all of us, even though Brady, Britt and I were all in the house watching her run back and forth from the office to the dining room table the whole time. I didn't understand how much thought she had put into it until we were all sitting around the table, toasting our jars of water and opening our handmade gifts from her. She made a sign, "Hape Nu Yer," which was elaborately decorated with her artistic flair, of course. Then she asked if we could all say what our "revolutions" are, which turned out to be an incredibly special family moment. Both Brailey Shaye and Britt put in a lot of thought to what they said, and I was so proud of them for the goals they set for themselves. The whole thing took about 15 to 20 minutes, and I know it bound us together as a family tighter than ever. I remember the days when I loved to plan a party, to make everyone feel special, and how special it made me feel to do something nice for others. I'm still a little bit that way, of course, but I seem to have lost some of my steam or my energy, in that regard, and would rather just spend quiet time at home. Brailey's little impromtu Revolution Party made me realize I don't have to do things on such a grande scale as I used to like to try to do, though - a simple party like the one she planned is perfection in all it's glory. In fact, I'm adding it to my "list" of resolutions.

So Far, So Good

The first two weeks of school are under our belts, we are well into the third already and so far, so good! Honestly, I wasn't sure wha...