Saturday, February 27, 2010

End of February Pictures

The two best friends, walking up the hill. They held hands the whole way to the top, and most of the way down, on this particular walk. Brady and I thought it was adorable!

This is a funky tree along the road we walk on. I thought this was kind of a groovy picture.

My mom's best friend, Sharon, gave this doll to Brailey. It was her most treasured toy as a child, and Brailey adores it! She named her "Shaye," which is funny, because while it is Brailey's middle name, it is also Sharon's nickname, minus the "e." Brailey loves this doll... And wouldn't you know, she's a bride? What more could a little girl ask for?

We worked outside in the beautiful sunshine, last Sunday. We couldn't find Britt, for a time, but then here he came in full Indian dress. He loves to pose for me... Seriously, this was hysterical! An Indian in cowboy boots, helping carry dead branches to the fire... I'm telling you, our life is like a movie, all the time! Later on, when this costume got dirty, he disappeared again, and reappeared as an Army man, toy guns and all. Very entertaining!

And my beautiful Shaye-Shaye, relaxing in her "house," which is what she pretends these rocks are. I remember pretending big rocks were my house, too, as a kid. Isn't she a lovely girl? OH yah! God just doesn't make 'em any sweeter than my Brailey...

Heritage Day Skater Boy

video

Britt is so thrilled to be able to ice skate, now. After years of watching his sister, he has really taken to the ice, and he just loves it! He had Heritage Day at his school on this particular day, and he went as an Indian. It was hilarious to see him skating with everyone else in his costume - he loves to dress up! And it never fails, every single time he gets on the ice, he makes several friends. See what I mean about history repeating itself? He's just like his Dad, charming everyone he meets. What can we say? The apple really doesn't fall far from the tree... I love my B boys! You may also notice Brailey Shaye skating in the background with her coach Allison. In the pink!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Inspirational Message

This is what my daily calender from my mother says for today:

Memories, important yesterdays, were once todays. Treasure and notice today. - Gloria Gaither

I love this.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Brady's Star of the Week Letter

I was wrong - the letters from Mom and Dad didn't get read yesterday. They are going to be read today, I think... Anyway, here is Brady's letter, which I think is wonderful. He is an amazing father, and my kids are blessed!

Dear Friends of Brailey Shaye-Shaye,

I gave her that nickname when she was just 3 days old.

Some of the great characteristics Brailey has is she is always trying to make other people feel good and she always tries to lend a helping hand. I like going for horseback rides in the field in front of our house in the summertime with Brailey – she is a very good rider and loves her horse. Sometimes I am able to take her and her brother to work with me, and she is always ready and willing to go, no matter how long or short the trip.

There are so many special moments I can think of…

One memory for me involves a certain rodeo we went to that had Muttin’ Bustin’, which stands for Sheep Riding. Brailey entered every single Muttin’ Bustin’ she could that summer, and the last one she entered was at a big fair and rodeo, and all the bull riders were there to help her get on her Sheep, and she was one of the last ones to ride. She rode her sheep the whole way down the arena, and the clown went out and got her, and she had to sit in the Winner’s Chair in the middle of the arena until every kid had gone. One of the committee men was standing next to me and said Brailey could win the sheep riding and they gave a great big buckle for it. There were two riders left, and I looked at her mom and said, “She could win this thing!” And the next kid fell off and then there was one. And her mom and I had our fingers crossed, and the last one bucked off, and Brailey Shaye-Shaye won! Her mom and I were more excited than she was. And that is my favorite picture we have of her, the one of her showing her buckle with dirt in her teeth.

Thanks for being such a good daughter, Brailey. I love you so much!

Love,

Dad

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Star of the Week Letter

Brailey Shaye is the "Star of the Week," this week in her classroom, which she has been dying to be since the beginning of the year when she found out about it. Each kid gets to be a star for one week over the school year. Is that the coolest thing or what? I can't tell you how much I love Brailey's teacher - she is amazing! So the "star" gets to bring in a posterboard full of pictures, share special items from home and read the class their favorite book. They also get to have a special guest for lunch one day (Brailey picked her ice skating coach, of course, whom she adores). Today is the day her teacher will read letters from Brady and I. Being the Star of the Week is truly a special event! So in celebration of the occasion, I have copied below my letter to Brailey and her class. Tomorrow I will post Brady's letter. Enjoy!

Dear Second Grade Boys and Girls of Sra. Downes~

I am writing to you about a dream I had a good long many years ago, back when I was a young girl working in a school as a librarian and a secretary, teaching children just like you library skills and supervising them while they played at recess and many more things. Do you wonder what my dream was? Can you guess?

Now you might be thinking about Martin Luther King, because I know you’ve been learning about him in class from Sra. Downes, but that wasn’t my dream. If you guessed that I wanted to be a mother to a precious little girl of my own, you guessed right! My dream did not come true right away, though. It took many years before I was blessed with my daughter, who is your classmate, Brailey Shaye Murray. By the time that Brailey came into our lives, I had given up all hope of ever becoming a mom. But a little over seven and a half years ago, on June 6th, 2002, Brailey Shaye Murray made her appearance into this world, and she made my dream of being a mother come true. And that is what I always tell her each and every night when I tuck her in. I say, “Thank you for being my dream come true.”

You all know what a sweet girl Brailey is, what a good friend she is to everyone who knows her, how caring she is, how fun she can be. So I’m going to tell you some things about her that you might not know…

Have you ever wondered where she got her name? Well, “Brailey” wasn’t the name her dad and I had picked out for her at first. We knew she was a girl before she was born, and we were going to name her “Macey Shaye,” after my maiden name and her grandparents’ last name, “Mace.” However, a teenaged girl who was very special to me, Sammy Jo Willis, said to me one day, “You know what? I kind of like the name Brailey. I think you should name her Brailey Shaye, not Macey Shaye.” And her dad and I loved the name and even the fact that Sammy Jo had thought of it, and so we changed her from Macey to Brailey, just like that!

We have a special name for our family, also, which you may have seen on the poster full of pictures. We are “The 4 B’s.” Do you wonder where we got this name for our family? Well, what happened is this… After Brailey was born and named “Brailey,” my Grandma Bert, who is Brailey’s great-grandmother, started calling us The 3 B’s. Are you wondering why? She called us that because Brailey’s dad’s name is “Brady,” and my name is “Bobbi Jo.” So you see, all of our names begin with the letter “B.” Once Brailey’s little brother was born, we couldn’t just have 3 B’s and then another, different letter. So we named him “Britt!” Britt Robert Faulkner Murray, actually, but you can see how we grew from the 3 B’s to the 4 B’s. And so that is what we call ourselves today. The 4 B’s!

Here are some other fun things for you to know about my Brailey Shaye that you may not have known…

She has been an ice skater since she was three years old, and she’s been in four different Holiday Ice Skating Shows. First, she was a Munchkin in the Wizard of Oz, then she was Miniature Alice from Alice’s Wonderland on Ice. She also got to be in a tv commercial for this show, which was really cool. The next year she was Cindy Lou Who in Seussical the Musical and most recently, a jungle bird in The Jungle Book.


Brailey is a real cowgirl! She has a horse named Tex, who came all the way to us from Texas off of her Aunt Cindy’s ranch. She calls him “Texi-Man.” Incidentally, when she was little, she used to call me “Mommy-Man,” and her dad “Daddy Man,” and her brother “Brittster Man.” Isn’t that cute? I loved that nickname…

She has pug, a basset hound and four cats. Well, not all of them are “hers,” but they are part of our family, and she’s a real animal lover.

She loves to pick flowers and to arrange them into beautiful bouquets. She also enjoys planting things and watching them grow. Sometimes I think she might grow up to be a flower shop owner.

She loves to cook! Her mother, on the other hand (that would be me), does not. So I am really looking forward to the day she does all our cooking. I know she will be good at it, because it is something she already loves to do.

Brailey is a party planner extraordinaire! She plans parties for our family all the time. She makes everyone gift bags and then fills them with special things she knows we will love.

Which brings me to another wonderful thing about Brailey – she is a giver. There is nothing she loves more than to give things to people! She is always coming up with things to give to someone she cares about. I love this characteristic…

When someone in our family is sick, Brailey Shaye takes care of them. I think she might grow up to be a nurse! A nurse who owns a flower shop.

I probably don’t have to tell you how much she loves to draw. Her artistic juices are always flowing, and she can draw better than anyone in our family! Maybe she will grow up to be a nurse who owns a flower shop with artwork she has made that she will sell in the flower shop… She could, you know. She’s a very talented girl!

There are many more things about Brailey Shaye that I would love to share with you but I think this letter touches on the some of the more special ones.

Brailey, thank you for being the daughter I always wanted. Thank you for being so beautiful, wonderful and special, all the way from your head to your toes to your precious little heart. You are more than a dream come true. You are a blessing and an angel on earth. You are my favorite girl in the whole wide world, and I love you more than words can say.

Love and hugs to all of you, and I hope you enjoyed this letter about my dream come true.

Brailey Shaye’s Mom

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Big Mama Peeves

It just has to be said - there are a couple of things in this world that really, really get to me. They both go together, and pretty much where you find one you'll find the other, but not always. How's that for a riddle? If you said, "Know-It-All-Phony-People," then you had the right answer.

More and more every day, it seems like the people in this world are crazy! Sometimes I really, really wonder what the world is coming to. At times I would swear we are all sinking slowly into madness. Do you know what I mean? Crazies! They're everywhere you look. Myself included, because I know I'm crazy - just ask God, and He'll tell you straight up I'm certifiable.

But here is what I am not - PHONY. And I would rather be crazy and real any day than phony. You know what I mean, don't you? OH yah - phony people are one of the worst kinds to deal with. And then, put the KNOW-IT-ALLS on top of that, or even by themselves, and you have the most annoying situation in the world sitting in front of you.

Now I have read in the past that if there is a quality you don't like about someone else, it probably means you have the same thing in yourself, which is why it bugs you when you see it in other people. Granted, I may seem a bit know-it-all-y at times. I can cop to that. But not on the scale I'm talking. Truly, I have analyzed this, and I don't think I'm over-the-top in what I know - in fact, I would like to become sturdier in my convictions instead of always agreeing with people. I need to become more thoughtful about my thoughts... But that's another post. I'm referring to experts in the extreme, and any time something is taken to the extreme, there are problems. Seriously, it is absolutely painful to talk to people who know everything there is to know, because they talk down to you, they interrupt you, and they darn sure don't listen to you. And guess what? Every now and then, I like to be listened to.

The phony people are not as difficult to take. Sure, they are annoying, but they at least appear to be wonderful on the surface. The problem for me with phony people comes when they are rude to one person and lovely to the next. You know what I mean? Like the person who is a hag to my mom, but a peach to my dad. That sort of thing. You follow? And then the coup de grace is when both characteristics are in the same person. Like the woman who knows EVERY THING, talks down to me, and then sticks her chest out towards my husband when I'm not there. OH yah - not my favorite person on the planet.

However, I have determined that we all need to have a little bit of phony in us, and THAT is one of the problems with myself - I cannot, under any circumstances, be anything other than how I feel. And I need to develop the skill of phoniness, because it can also cause problems to not be phony in certain situations. From the day I was born, my mother said she could read my face like a book. And that means what I am feeling shows itself to the world, every single day of my life. Now if I could just be a tad bit phony, I would not have this problem, and the mean, hateful, selfish, phony, know-it-all people in the world that irritate me would not know that they irriate me... You see what I mean?

And I think this is the lesson God is trying to teach me at this point in my life. Which comes back to acceptance. And let me tell you, I'm trying, but it just isn't in my nature to put up with baloney. But I am working on it, and that has to be the first step, right? One step at a time, I'm trying.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Man Teeth

Britt lost his second baby tooth yesterday! Although it was not as painless and drama-free as we would have liked, Brady finally managed to pull it out last night. The first attempt earlier in the day was not a success...

The problem was that his permanent tooth had already grown in behind the baby one. This is the second permanent that has cropped up behind the baby tooth for Britt. You see, unlike most kids, he doesn't want to lose his teeth. He was perfectly happy with his first set of pearly whites.

His first lost tooth became loose shortly after school had started this past fall, and he had a toy in a plastic bag that he was trying to open. No matter that I have told him repeatedly to never, ever, ever put plastic in his mouth. Well, the plastic got a little caught on that vulnerable bottom tooth, and he said, "Ow! I think I just broke my tooth!" So I looked back at him and saw bit of blood and pulled the car over. I checked it out, and saw that he had pulled the tooth loose and that there was a new tooth coming up behind the baby tooth already. I said, "You have your first loose tooth!" And off we went to the bank.

After a few minutes, I realized there was silence in the backseat, and I looked back to find my little boy crying. So I pulled over once again and said, "What's wrong?" To which he burst into even bigger tears, unbuckled from his seatbelt and grabbed me into a hug and said, "I don't want to lose my baby teeth!" Even though he had witnessed Brailey Shaye pull most of her baby teeth, the thought apparently had not occured to him that he would lose his, as well.

So we talked about it, and I explained how this meant he was growing up. And he finally decided it would be okay. After all, he did have a "man tooth" coming in! "If I have a man tooth growing, that means I'm half man, now!" Of course I agreed this was true...

Friday, February 19, 2010

Toxic Twist

Since the beginning of the new year, I have felt emotionally healthier than I have in years! The changes I've made really seem to be working, which was basically eliminating toxic elements from my life, including but not limited to certain people. And Facebook. That was the best thing I've ever done for myself - very empowering!

This week has set me back a bit, though. A curve ball of sorts, if you will... And so now I am trying to regroup myself and to realize that it is not always possible to eliminate certain elements when you would like to eliminate them. And it has been driving me crazy! Which is what I am trying really hard not to be...

But it has also made me realize how important it is for me to be emotinoally healthy, because even though I try not to pass my stress on to my family, it goes to them through osmosis. I found myself picking at Brady and being extremely angry with him over the fact that he drank a pop when he got home from work yesterday afternoon. Which is what he was supposed to be giving up for Lent. Yes, it would be upsetting on a normal day, but after a week full of twists and turns, it was nearly my undoing. In the end, I did manage to let it go, and I consider this to be progress. And now Brailey Shaye is having "issues" with her friends at school and an "upset stomach" for the past few days. These sorts of things are ongoing, I've learned, with kids, but I find it interesting that it would start just as soon as my mind starts it's reckless spinning. She has always been my intuitive child, and I really don't know how to hide my underlying emotions from her. The point being, it isn't good that I do this to her, no matter how it happens. And my little Brittster Man, who almost always does what I ask him to, has started throwing fits every time I tell him to do something the past couple of days. A little thing, yes, but big if you are his mother and you know him. Both kiddos were up half the night last night, as well. Which means Big Mama was, too.

In any case, I have discovered the cure to my crazy is to eliminate things that are not good and pure in intention. Hence, the New Year's Revolutions and changes I have made. But I have been mulling over the possibility that this isn't the whole she-bang, either. I now realize there is another possible element in getting rid of excess baggage and curing my insanity - I have to accept what I don't want to accept, sometimes.

I know the Lord is teaching me, here. Yes, I know this! But it doesn't make it any easier, because I am the one who has to do the work. Acceptance has always been one of my biggest character defects - it takes me a long time to get there. Once I am there, though, I'm all the way there. I am trying to remain calm and to take things slowly. I am trying to get to the point where I can accept what I don't want to and to be okay with it. This little test of character is going to be interesting, to say the least. As they say, it will either make me or break me! Either way, I plan on coming out a better person.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday - Let the Giving Begin!

Here it is, already Ash Wednesday, and only six (and a half) short weeks until Easter Sunday. The 4 B's discussed it last night over dinner - what we are going to "give up," or "give to" this year for lent.

I first brought it up to the kids on one of our spring training walks up the hill. We were on our way back down, and although this doesn't happen too often, my little B's were driving me crazy. It all started with Britt noticing that the area around us looked like it could belong in an Indiana Jones movie, or the Island of the Pelagostos from Pirates of the Caribbean. This led to us to coming up with different movie titles, like "Indiana Jones and the Coburg Hill" and "Indiana Jones and the Curse of the Trail" and Pirates of the Coburg Hills." The part that became annoying? It was neverending. Just went on and on and on, title after title. "No, how 'bout this!" "No, this!" And on and on and on...

So to stop the madness, I said, "Okay, that's enough of that. Let's talk about Lent!" It was the only thing I could come up with at the time that I knew would distract them. I explained the basic concept of Lent, and how you could either give something up or do something for other people. They couldn't think of anything, right then, that they might want to do or give up.

Later that night, though, as we were eating supper, Britt said, "Oh! By the way, Mom? I thought of something for Lent. I can give up asking if I can look at the toys." This actually floored me for a second. And it made me so proud of him! Why? Because Britt dearly LOVES to look at the toys in any store that exists. Every single time we venture in to Walmart or Target or Shopko or ANY STORE, he wants to look at the toys. Now we very seldom will buy anything, but he still likes to look at things. The point being, though, he got it! He understood what I was trying to teach. And so that is what he is going to do - not ask to look at the toys until after Easter.

As for the rest of us, we are still working on our individual New Year's Resolutions. In addition, Brady and I deciced to give up fizz which is going to be a major accomplishment if we manage to do it the entire Lent season. And Brailey is going to make something nice for her best friend Jaden and her Godmother once a week. She is such a good little girl, there really wasn't anything major for her to try to give up. Although we did determine she could work at putting her pj's away in the mornings without being asked to...

What I used to do for lent was to send a little gift to each of my Godchildren, one gift for each week. I really enjoyed doing this, and I think they liked it, too. This year I decided not to do it, though. It is always ended up being quite expensive, and I'm not sure it had the effect I was after, anyway. I am going to focus on Brailey and Britt's Godmothers instead, this year. And I'm going to focus on Brady, too - you know, give him a little somethin'-somethin' each week to show him how much I love and appreciate him. As much as I love to give presents, it should be fun!

I'll let you know how we do on our Lenten journey as we progress. May God bless our most heartfelt efforts.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Spring Training Revisted

Great news! We talked Big Daddy into going on walks with us! Last week, when he stayed home a day, Britt asked him to come with us for our trek up the hill, and Brady said yes. Now mind you, there was a lot of drama to be had on this hike - the usual whining from Britt going up the steep part, "I can't do this!" And then, once we got to the middle bend, which is where we usually turn around, Brady asked Britt if he would like to go all the way to the top, and he said "yes, yes he would." Which caused Brailey Shaye to whine and cry, because she didn't want to go that far. The physical work of walking uphill had nothing to do with Brailey's pain, though - she didn't want to miss Reba! We did miss the first episode, but we were back in time for the second one, so it was a fair compromise.

So as a result of this wonderful training exercising, Big Mama and Big Daddy were SORE! My ankles were tender for three days straight, my Plantar Fasciitis flared up worse than ever, and Brady's hips were killing him all week long. Hey - it wasn't my idea to go the entire distance! It was great to make it all the way to the top, though, and the view was fantastic, to say the least.

Yesterday, I manipulated Brady in to going with us again. Only not the entire distance, this time - just the halfway point. Now when I say "manipulated," that depends on your definition of the word. Brady is the one who sees it that way. I just pointed out to him that it was a great way for us to spend time together as a family, and it is good for his lungs and far easier on his body than running on the treadmill for ten minutes.... And I said a lot of pleases and put the most hopeful expression I could muster up on my face. Is that really manipulation? I don't think so, either.

Well, whatever, it worked, and the kids were thrilled, and so was I. And guess what? Now Big Daddy has decided we can do it more than once a week! We are going to shoot for every Tuesday and Thursday. Which makes me very happy, because while I enjoy the walk with just the kiddos and I, it is really nice to decompress Brady's work day and to talk about things while we are walking. What can I say? I like spending time with my husband! And when we got back, we spent some time practicing baseball. So the whole thing is a win-win situation, in my opinion.

I still haven't lost any weight, in case you were wondering. That battle is still being fought... Brady is bound and determined he and I are going to run in the Butte to Butte race on the 4th of July this year, though, so I am trying to get myself mentally prepared for that. Which means I'm going to have to exercise more than just once a week at the kids' pace. For right now, though, spring training is mostly about Britt and getting his legs and hips strong, and I think it is working.

Besides, I have lots of time before the Butte to Butte, right? If only time didn't fly by so fast, I might find more comfort in thinking that way...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Weekend Blessings

Two wonderful things happened this weekend...

One, my parents came over on Saturday and spent the night with us. We haven't seen them since the beginning of November, which is way too long to go between visits! My mom had extensive eye surgery the first week in December, though, and it has been a long road to recovery for her. Her eye is still in the process of healing, and she truly doesn't feel like herself, so travel for them has been limited, to say the least. But they did come over this weekend, and we had a great time! As always, they spoiled the two little B's with all sorts of fun things. We didn't "do" a single thing, so to speak, except spend time together, and it was perfect! They celebrated 40 years of marriage yesterday (Valentine's Day) - their silver anniversary! Now that is an accomplishment - wow! It was truly wonderful to see them, to say the least. After they left, Britt got very sad and depressed, and when I asked him what was wrong he said, "Well I wasn't expecting Gramma and Papa to leave today. Why didn't you tell me? Now I'm having a bad day because I miss them!" Yes, my parents are very loved by the 4 B's...

Two, my Nicoley had her baby! She started the process of going into labor on Saturday, and then by yesterday afternoon was in full blown labor (what a way to spend Valentine's Day, huh?), and at 1 in the morning, he arrived! I don't know how she did it, but she made it all the way through his birth without pain medication, because he came too fast. And then she even managed to text us all! She's always been a multi-tasker, though, so this should not have surprised me. And it was so much fun to see her labor updates, which she texted every so often. I woke up early this morning, wondering about her, until I finally just got up to check my phone, and sure enough, he had arrived. Blessed be! I cannot wait to see a picture of the little man... Moreover, I can't wait to meet him! Nicole was there for the births of both of my B's, and she even held them before I did. She took pictures of them for me of the first seconds of their lives, and I will forever be grateful to her for this... I would have given anything to be there with her when she gave birth, but it wasn't meant to be, and I sent her many prayers and love, just the same, so hopefully she knew my heart was with her.

So all in all, we had a wonderful weekend, including a great Valentine's Day, and now the kids and I have an extra day off to enjoy. This is the last day off from school until spring break, so we are going to milk it for all it is worth!

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Birthday Boy!

Britt is reading his birthday card from Brailey Shaye, which she made for him. Look at all those presents! No, he isn't spoiled. Rotten, at least...

Enjoying his Pirates of the Caribbean cupcake at school, where his classmates sang him "Happy Birthday."

And at home with his Star Wars ice cream birthday cake. He had wanted Star Wars cupcakes, but nobody in town had them, so we had to go with the pirates. He did not believe he was "6" until he blew out the candles and had cake. We argued about this throughout the day, and then, once he was done eating his cake, he said, "Now I'm finally six!"

The wonderful big sister in a box that held the super cool present from Aunti Nicoley. As you can see, she was quite comfortable!

And now, the story of Britt turning six...
Yesterday, much to my heartache and joy (yes, you read that correctly), my Brittster Man turned SIX YEARS OLD. How did this happen?! I am always thrilled to celebrate my kiddos' birthdays, and I love to buy them presents and cakes and to make it the most special of all days, BUT (you knew that was coming, didn't you?) it just breaks my heart to have them turn another year older... I can barely wrap my mind around the fact that Britt came into our lives six years ago. It seems like it was just yesterday. And then again, it seems like he's been with us forever. I'm telling you, I cherish every single day of my little B's lives. And my time with them still goes by too fast..
He had a great birthday, though, and he told me it was the "greatest one he's ever had!" We toned it down, this year, and didn't do a big "kid" party, and you know what? It was really nice! No stress, no fuss! Just the 4 of us. And a whole lot of love and fun and wonderfulness!
Last night when we were sharing the best part of our day over his ice cream birthday cake, I said that the best part of mine was his birthday and then I described all the things about it I enjoyed. Britt had been the first one to share, but after I was finished, he said, "Awwwwww, thanks Mom! And I have one more best part of my day to share - Mom sharing the best part of her day." So sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet! Brady rolled his eyes and said, "Oh my gosh he's got the charm." Well where does Brady think Britt gets that from, anyway? He's just like his daddy!
Alas, birthday number six was a great success! And if my heart is a little heavy, that's okay. The joy of having my two little B's outweighs everything.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Brailey Shaye is like me in so many ways it is downright startling. Yesterday, Brady took a day off from work to stay home and take care of some things that were needing attention. When Brailey woke up and saw her dad still home, she said to him, "Dad! What are you doing home? You'd better get yourself in to work tomorrow, Mister!" Okay, okay, I know. Yes, she has heard her mother say similar things previously. But this instance was totally unprovoked, if you know what I mean. Later on that morning, Brady came into my office while I was working, and he started laughing about what she had said, and then he said, "Can you imagine how her husband is going to feel, someday?" And I said, "I bet you can!" And we laughed and laughed! Even though I was essentially making fun of mySELF... Brady said, "She's going to take really good care of him, but he'd better not take any days off!" It was hysterical. Except for the fact that she has learned this from MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. What can I say? I have high expectations. But THAT is a whole different post to write.

Remember how history repeats itself around here? More of that occured yesterday, as well, in the form of Brailey singing non-stop in the car. Her music teacher, who is truly magnificent at what he does, is teaching them a Disney song for the spring Fiesta concert. And she just sang and sang and sang that song to us. "Mom, listen to this." Dear Lord. I used to do this when I was a kid, too! We carpooled to school with a couple of other families, and I would drive the other kids crazy (my mom just told me this story a little while ago) with my singing. I just loved to sing, and I so I sang! Just like my little Brailey Cakes...

On this same drive, I caught myself pulling a "Britt." The kids and I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE the sitcom Reba, which comes on at 5 with two episodes back-to-back. Well Brady will sometimes watch it and sometimes not, and I found myself telling him all about a part of one of the episodes that he missed! And I had Britt to back me up, so poor Brady had to sit there and listen to the whole thing. Once I realized what I was doing, I stopped and let Britt take over. The madness never ends!

What can I say? My little B's come by their quirks naturally. Yup. Monkey see, monkey do! Lord help my little B's...!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Thank You Surprise

Brailey Shaye brought home with her from school something we've never, ever received before. Something I wondered if we ever would receive. Something we should have received many, many times before. Are you dying to know what it was?


A THANK YOU CARD!


Yes, she brought home with her a handwritten thank you note from her friend Henry. Now before I go on, I need to tell you we HAVE recieved thank yous before, so please don't misunderstand me. My friend Kim has had her little Jaden write thank yous to Brailey. Brailey's Spanish Immersion teachers have given her thank yous. Gramma Diggy and Gramma Anne always write us thank yous. And so does our Nicoley - always! What I am talking about is a birthday party thank you. You know, when you get invited to a kid birthday party. My kids love picking out presents for their friends and going to their parties! Yes, they have the giving bug, which is something I am so proud of.

Get this, though - no one ever writes a thank you! Maybe I am old-fashioned in my attitude about this, but I believe in handwritten thank you notes. And while I am on my soap box, let me tell you what I also think - it is lazy and rude and disrespectful not to write a thank you. For so many things!

When Brailey was in preschool, we had a big birthday celebration for her, and I wrote thank yous to every single family for the gifts they gave to her, and one parent actually had the nerve to tell me not to ever do that again. Yes! Can you believe that? She said, "I know how busy mothers are, and you don't have time to write thank yous." I just laughed it off - I was so insulted and shocked, I couldn't find words to say anything. The next year, we had another party, I wrote another thank you, and she said to me, "I told you not to write me thank yous!" Like she was insulted, or something. What?! This time, I stood up for myself and I said, "I like to write thank yous, and I believe in writing thank yous, so you and I are just going to have to agree to disagree on this one." Oh yes, and as I'm sure you've guessed, I have never received a thank you from her for presents we've given to her child. Apparently she felt she should have a free-get-out-of-jail card because she doesn't believe in them. Because she is soooooo busy... Whatever... Rude! Lazy! Disrespectful!

Thus, I was thrilled to see a handwritten thank you note from Brailey's friend Henry. It was a wonderful party, all the kids had a fantastic time, and Henry is blessed with kind, wonderful and thoughtful parents. Yes, I may be old-fashioned, but frankly, I don't care how "busy" someone is - there is always time to teach our children to be thankful. And it is a skill they can use for the rest of their lives.

Thank you for reading this blog.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Love to Skate Competition - Couples Interpretive

video

Here they are! Brailey Shaye and Coral interpreted a program to a song they got to hear just twice before they were sequestered into a room by themselves, and this is what they came up with. Coral is a more advanced skater (she is amazing!), but the two of them are great friends and they did a really nice job of staying together. I had a hard time keeping them both in the film! Coral's mom (Suzanne, or Susan, as Brady calls her) makes all Coral's costumes, and she made these, as well, in addition to fashioning their hair into these adorable buns, and she even found the matching warm-up jackets (which they ended up using as props!) at my favorite store - Goodwill. Suzanne is an amazing woman, and I'm so glad she is my friend. Seriously, it doesn't get much better than this, does it? The girls are exactly the same size, which is what makes it even cuter, and they work well together. They are DARLING! And if you don't believe me, just ask their mothers... OH yah.

Love to Skate Competition - Brailey Testing

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This is Brailey Shaye doing her testing event. She did great! And her 3 B's are oh-so-proud... Yes we are!

Love to Skate Competition - Champions on Ice!












Coral is one year older than Brailey Shaye, but they are the same size, and her mother and I think they are the cutest besties in the world! We will cherish these photographs forEVER!



Love to Skate Competition - Shopping Beauties












Brailey Shaye and her bestie, Coral... They found "real tiaras," and they begged us to buy them. Finally, Brailey asked if she could use her own money to buy them, and I said yes, since Coral's mom made the outfits and got the warm-up jackets AND did their hair for their interpretative number. That was fair, yah? And tell me, aren't they ADORABLE? Seriously - I'm not barn blind, either!



Saturday, February 6, 2010

Love to Skate Competition, Saturday - Brailey's Program


























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This was Brailey Shaye skating her individual program, Delta level. She won second place! We are very proud of her - she is amazing...! Gramma Diggy bought her this skating outfit over a year ago, and it fit her perfectly. Tomorrow she skates with her friend Coral, and her mom made them matching costumes that are SO COOL, so keep your eyes peeled for new pictures!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Winter Candids

Skater boy, Britt. He is getting better every time he does it! It isn't exactly his favorite thing to do, but it is SO GOOD for him. And of course, wouldn't you know, he always makes a new friend, every single time. He's my social bug... Just like his father! OH yah.

This is from our riding excursion last Sunday. I love this picture! Brady's horse, Alvin, is camera shy. Wasn't it a beautiful day?!

This is what Britt does while Brailey Shaye does her reading, sometimes. The book pictured here is Spanish, and he didn't understand a word she was reading, but he was very, shall we say "supportive?" And perhaps a little distracting... And annoying, too. But oh so cute to his mother! And Brailey Shaye really didn't mind. She's the best sister he could ever ask for.

The two pirates! One of Brady's friends gave them this boat 3 or 4 years ago, because he knew how much Britt loved pirates. All of a sudden they decided to "set sail" one afternoon while I was cleaning stalls. Imagine my surprise as I came out of the stall and saw them dragging the boat across the grass to try to get it in the water. They were talking pirate talk and using their shovels for paddles. It was hysterical! Captain-this and My Lady-that... Once Brady got home from work and saw the "situation," he put a plug in the ditch to try to help the water rise, but so far, we haven't had enough rain for them to enjoy another pirate adventure. I wonder what our neighbors think?



Thursday, February 4, 2010

Facebook Scare!

Well. Let me tell you, if I had any doubts about "deactivating" my Facebook account, they were laid to rest yesterday. Holy cow!
I DID THE RIGHT THING! So yay me!

Here's what happened... I was having a great time emailing back and forth with my Nicoley, who is smack dab in the middle of pre-labor pains, and she sent me a link of her baby's pediatrician, who is a complete hottie! Oh my goodness, I can't even believe a man with such movie-star looks would be a baby doctor. And oh my LORD! I think my baby would be "sick" all the time and need all sorts of extra appointments in addition to those "Well Baby" visits. I bet the man makes a fortune off of women like me...

Anyway, after I let her know I agreed he was attractive, she said she knew he was my "type" and that I would think he was cute. My "type," in case you are wondering, is very Keith Urban, very Aiden from Sex and the City. And very Brady, as well - he's my soul mate and my heart throb and the whole nine yards, but it is fun to have little mini crushes on people that are not really real, you know what I mean? A fantasy crush or whatever. Men aren't the only ones who notice an attractive person! So, Nicoley mentioned this certain somebody that used to be a law student when we worked at the Law School. A certain somebody named Kevin VanDriesche. You say it like this: VAN-DREE-SHA, with the emphasis on the DREE. And ohhhhhhhh my Lord if he wasn't the dreamiest male I've ever been in the actual physical presence of. I mean, this man was model material. And the same age as me, so not some young buck like you're thinking, AND he had the same birthday as me, as well. He was total hotness.

Now you have to understand, this was not a serious crush, because I was madly in love with Brady. And pregnant with Brailey Shaye. I had just never been around someone so attractive before who actually talked to me. And when he would talk to me? I could barely BREATHE... Dear LORD! Which tells me I would never be able to actually meet Keith Urban - I'd probably fall over in a dead faint.

Are you wondering what Facebook has to do with this? Well, Nicoley and I each looked him up at exactly the same time, found him on a Facebook link, and sent the same link to one another (yes, at exactly the same time - see how connected we are?!).
Her in Seattle and me down here in Eugene.

Curiousity killed the cat, that is for sure, and I'm as catty as they come, quite frankly, so I thought I would just sign in to Facebook for a second to see if there was any other information on him. And WHAM! Just like that, I was BACK! My Facebook account was ACTIVE! Holy HELL it scared me to death! And so I never even attempted to look up Kevin VanDriesche. What I did do was frantically try to get my account back on "deactivated" status, and my heart was racing and I was just so shocked I had to type in my password three times and the special characters twice because I got the first one wrong and YIKES!

However, all's well that ends well, and it told me what I had been wondering - Facebook is BAD for me. It holds EVIL memories, and I am so, so, SO glad I'm no longer on it! I spend far less time on the computer, I'm more engaged with my family and I don't have all those icky feelings hanging over me all the time. There was a lot of good about Facebook that I miss, too, so don't misunderstand me, but some people use it as a weapon, and for me? Facebook is the DEVIL.

Kevin VanDriesche? He still looks to be as dreamy as ever, from the small Facebook photo I saw. Which is where he will remain. In dreamland, because my real life "hunk of burnin' love" is the only one for me.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Goodwillin' It

One of my favorite things to do in this world is shop. I don't like to go to high end stores or to blow gobs of money, though. No, I like to look and look and look for that perfect deal. The Clearance Rack? That is where you'll find me in every store!

I remember one time when Brady's daughter was visiting us from Texas. Brailey Shaye was around 5 years old at the time, and we headed into Walmart for something, and she said to her half-sister, "We'd better go find the clearance clothes! We do NOT go into a store without checking the clearance stuff." I have to say, this did embarrass me a tiny bit. But not for long!

I've had to refine my clearance tendancies a bit. For a while, I got so caught up in getting a "good deal," I would buy things I didn't even need. I love to give presents, and I mean LOVE to give people things. It is always on my mind, who would like this or that and the other. I finally realized this was not exactly saving me money, though. And so now, I've pared my habit down, and I only buy what my kids need. Well, for the most part. Sometimes I just can't help myself, you know...

One of our favorite places in the world to shop is Goodwill. We love it! In fact, Britt had a moment of crying (okay, it was a mini fit) yesterday because he wanted to go to Goodwill and I said no. We buy all our books there - I can't stand to pay full price when I know the same book is probably sitting at Goodwill or St. Vincent de Paul's, waiting for me to come and buy it for a fraction of the original cost. I have to say, though, both the Goodwill and St. Vinny's around Eugene have gotten greedy in the past couple of years, and they are charging totaly outrageous, exhorbitant prices for certain items, which has taken some of the fun out of shopping there. I mean, come on! They were given the stuff for free! Do they really need to charge $29.95 for a used pair of jeans just because of the label on it? Ridiculous! For the most part, though, I am always able to come away with a treasure. Like the beautiful wrought iron lamp my mother-in-law found one time when we were shopping together. And almost all of my children's back-to-school clothes. Once I even found two ice skating dresses! And I have more kid's books than a county library, but hey! I'm fine with that. I'm more than happy to encourage a love of books in my kiddos.

We 4 B's also like to hit the local garage sales. Or, any garage sale we find, truth be told. We've been known to find some of our best "stuff" at a yard sale out-of-town at some rodeo we're at. And the funny thing is, each one of us can always find something we "need."

My own mother and mother-in-law are just as crazy about the "sport shops" as we are. When I was a kid, it wasn't as fun. In fact, I used to be mortified when my mom would take me to a yard sale or the local thrift store. MORTIFIED, I tell you! My mother-in-law, who has been hitting these types of sales for years, said things changed when the quality of clothes changed. Now there aren't so many cheap clothes out there. You can buy a quality shirt at Walmart, today, whereas 20 years ago, you couldn't. Cheap was cheap.

In any case, I have to restrict myself from going into Goodwill, because it is just too easy to find a treasure we can't possibly live without. If you haven't tried this kind of shopping, I highly recommend it. I guarantee you will find something you just have to have. Be warned, though: it is a highly addictive form of shopping!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Homebodies

When I was younger, back in my twenties, before I had my "phenomenal family" (that's what Dr. Phil says every family should strive to be, you know), I used to love to plan parties. There was nothing I loved more than coming up with a THEME. This was the secret to my success, I felt - having a theme and sticking to it. My first wedding was a masterpiece - truly, it was! My mother and I planned and planned and it went off almost perfectly, other than the wedding cake, which would have been perfect if the (stupid) cake lady had done what we had asked her to do. Oh, and one other minor detail - the sick feeling I had in my stomach the minute I signed the marriage certificate and the way my new husband completely ignored me at the reception and proceeded to get rip-roaring drunk at the expense of my parents. Still, for all other intents and purposes, other than my bad judge of character in choosing him, it was a wonderous event!

Last week, Brailey Shaye came down with a little bug, and so I kept her home from school. And I kept Britt home, as well, rather than spread the germs to other innocent victims. She is a tough kid to keep down, though, and by the second day, she was feeling pretty good, other than a headache. So she planned a party for her daddy, an "Appreciation Party," to show him how much we appreciate all his hard work. This was very intuitive of her, because that is what Brady needs to feel, of course - appreciated. How she knows this is a mystery to me.

Anyway, long story short, she made him a crown to symbolize his being the king of the family, goody bags for all of us, and as the time neared she felt he would be getting home, she set out an array of snacks and jars of water. You see, she had made a checklist in her diary, which she just that morning started writing in. You remember what I said about history repeating itself? Well, here we go again. My little party planner, reincanated through me... Once Brady arrived home, he was greeted with a boistrous "SURPRISE!" and presented with his crown and one of Britt's swords on a pillow. They were each dressed in proper party attire, which was a sparkly red dress for Brailey, and for Britt his Sparton costume from Halloween a few years ago. While we were waiting for Brady to get home, Britt said, "Man! Now I know how the Spartons felt in the winter. I have goosebumps!"

I'm glad the tradition is carrying on with all the party planning, because to be honest, I have changed over the years. I no longer care to have a houseful of people to entertain, no matter how much I like them. There are a couple of reasons for this...

One, I now have my precious little B's, and it is nearly impossible to prepare for a party when everything I do gets undone behind me, which turns me into a raging monster. The outcome just doesn't seem worth it to stress out about a clean house and everything looking just "so" when I become crazy over it. That is part of my nature as a Capricorn - I feel like things have to look perfect, and if they are anything less, then I feel like a failure. Thus, the raging monster, which also makes me feel like a failure on a different level.

Two, Brady and I have become homebodies! Remember when I said I didn't like to share my family? Well if I'm bad, Brady is worse, and quite frankly? We just like to be together with our own little selves, the 4 B's. Not that we mind having company, because we do enjoy our family and friends. We just like our time together with the four of us even more.

Sound ridiculous? Yes, I know... It is something I'm working on. Fortunately, we have the most wonderful party planner ever, Brailey Shaye, and I'm sure as the years wear on, we'll have more occasions to celebrate than my mind can possibly comprehend. If we're lucky...!

Monday, February 1, 2010

All the Way to Heaven and Back a Million Times...

After a fabulous long weekend at home, I was feeling a little sad this morning to be back into the swing of things. I know, I know... Some people just love the routine the school year provides. After having my kids home with me for five days in a row, though, I got spoiled! So in my sentimental state in the car this morning, on the way to Brailey's school, I said to them, "Have I ever told you how much I love you guys?" And they both said yes. And I said, "Oh yah? How much?" To which they replied in unison, at exactly the same time, word-for-word "All the way to heaven and back a million times and more!" Of course, from there it went into "Jinx-you-owe-me-a-coke!" In unison, at exactly the same time, word-for-word, until Big Mama could no longer stand it... Still, the point being, my babies definitely know how much I love them.

Yesterday was spent mostly outside, because the weather was gorgeous, and it almost felt like summer! Brady decided to ride his horse, and he talked Brailey Shaye into riding hers, too. We all had a great time! I didn't ride mine, because I put my back out helping Brady on Saturday. Still, I was right there, snapping pictures with my broken camera and soaking up the sunshine. Everything was going along just dandy until Brailey Shaye's horse dropped to the ground. He was so itchy from his winter coat, apparently, that he decided to roll! Which scared us all to death, but he did it very gently, and Brailey was able to jump off to safety. I was on the other side of the fence, and I've never felt so helpless in my life. Brady was right next to her, though, and he flew off his horse in a flash, and while I was panicked (one of those character defects previously mentioned), I did manage to shout to Brailey to get out of the saddle and off her horse. He never did roll, and after we wiped the tears away, she got back on and had a grande time.

After it was all over, I realized how fast Britt had come running to Brailey. He had been down the hill a few yards, playing with sticks that he likes to design into elaborate bridges and villages. When he heard the commotion surrounding his sister, though, he was there in a New York minute! He made sure she was all right, and then he stuck around to see that she was truly okay. As he crawled up on the fence, I noticed he had his cowboy boots on, which I asked him about, and he said that he wanted to ride, too. Now this is a first! So I led him around on Brady's horse, and he had a big time riding in our little pen. He told me, "Yah, if I want to ride horses at the rodeos this summer, I have to learn how to ride, so that's why I got my boots on."

Before all this happened, we had all four walked up the hill to see how our little arena looked, and the next thing Brady and I knew, we were involved in a rodeo! The little B's were riding broncs and bulls, team roping, bull dogging, judging, running barrels... All the rodeo events, of course. It was hilarious! So Brady and I had to show them how it is "really" done, and pretended to team rope and then bull dog, which I'm still laughing about. Brailey Shaye set a five gallon bucket on the ground, which was the steer, so Brady and I ran out for him to "bull dog," me hazing, and Brady actually slid to the ground and pretended to throw the bucket like it was a steer!

Anyway, that is what "spurred" us into getting the horses out and enjoying the nice weather. Today it is back to rain, of course, but it was wonderful to feel the sunshine on our faces and to enjoy our day together yesterday. I so love this family all the way to heaven and back a million times... And more!

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...