Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ninja Showtime

Ninja pose with gorgeous painted nails, which just happen to match JJ's... Of course! Toes included!
Yes! The two dancing darlings had their big dance recital performances this weekend, and they were fabulous! The dance theme for their group was "ninjas," and they were super cute! If you ask their mothers (Big Mama and Little Mama), their dance was the best of the younger groups... Anyway, we took a bunch of pictures, and these are only a handful of them, so I may post more tomorrow. They all turned out really well! It was a special weekend that we will never forget and hopefully something the girls can look back on in their old age and say, "Remember when we were ninjas for our dance recital and we got to wear real makeup? Oh, those were the days...!"
Ninja Dancers

Britt and the Beauties

Checking out her mascara...

Big Mama and Little Mama with their little jewels.

Here they are! The four most adorable kids in the world!

Brittster Man and Griffy Boy, the supportive brothers, who loved every second of the shows.

With their roses from Britt and Griffy...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Buena Vista Jog-A-Thon 2011

This was Britt's first year for the annual Jog-A-Thon, so he didn't really know what to expect. He was excited, though, and in this picture, he is checking out the big banner of balloons, which you will see below... They were the first group of the day.

He made 11 laps! And if you count the walk to and from the track, it was over 3 miles in one hour. Not bad for such little guys, huh? Here you see him with two of his best friends, Daniel and Brooks.
Brailey's group was the last of the day, and  you can see some of the balloons took flight into the sky by this point. But the level of excitement from the kids was the same, so it really didn't matter.
 With her bestie, Carrie, before the big "run."

Brailey made 11 laps, also - such a good job! And every kid was treated to a frozen juice stick, Popsicle, or whatever you want to call them. It was such a beautiful day, and the kiddos were so hot from all that exercise - the treats were well appreciated! Brailey poured several cups of water on her head - she wasn't the only one. I got a little sunburned (it already tanned, so now I have an icky tan line!) on the back of my neck - forgot about having short hair! Anyway, another successful Jog-A-Thon come and gone. What can we say but WOW?!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Amazing Allies

It occurred to me the other day that I am blessed with some truly amazing, inspiring, incredible, downright awesome people in my life. I mean, I have always known these particular folks were special (I'm going to get specific about them in a minute), and I've always known I was lucky to have them in my life. It really hit me this weekend, though, just how incredible they are...

My friend Kristin... For starters, she is a loving mother to her four children and best friends with her husband, whom she adores - we all know being a good mom and wife is a full time job, and yet she still manages to put some extra oooomph into it. So in addition to being a chauffer, cook, housekeeper, family nurse and all those millions of things a mothers is, she works all day long on Wednesdays, she holds Weight Watcher meetings and leads aerobics classs throughout the week. That's not all, though! Even more inspiring? She took on the task, with her best friends, of coordinating the biggest event the school (which our children all attend) has. This event is so big, it required them to work on it all school year long. AND... Yes, there is even more! She is extremely active in our church, helping new mothers and always volunteering for whatever she can. And on top of all this, she has managed to train for and complete two half marathons! She completed her first on in the fall, and her second one this spring, which just happened to coincide with that big school event she helped coordinate. To do all those things and to be such a good mom and wife and friend and member of society is what inspiration is all about, don't you think?

My friends Renee and Sandi are just as amazing. Holy cow! It makes me tired to even think about all the good they do in a single day... I'll try to keep it short, but it is hard to be concise when the subjects (my friends!) are so incredible, you know?

So Renee. She is the most giving person on the planet... She never stops giving, and her energy never seems to wane. She is the absolute best mother ever to her two sweet, sweet, handsome boys. And even though she manages to hold down a very important, full time job, you would never know it, because her family is still her priority. And on top of all her working and mothering and being a wife, she just gives and gives and gives. That school event I was telling you about? She helped Kristin and Sandi coordinate it, and even though it was their first year literally "running the show," it went off perfectly. Mainly because the three of them work so well together, but also because Renee herself put in so much time - she trimmed 300 child-sized paper people the students decorated. Can you imagine? Holy cow! That is just one example of the work she put into the school concert. She recently allowed Brailey's class to visit her work and gave the class a tour. And even though she is swamped? She was thrilled to volunteer to teach me how to make cake balls for Brailey's birthday, which is coming up in a couple of weeks. Truly, the woman is an endless supply of giving and energy!

And Sandi, who is best friends with Renee and Kristin and helped them with that big school event, is every bit as awesome. She, too, is a giver. She has given Kristin and I some really nice clothing for our boys, which her boys grew out of. She, too, is one of those incredible mothers - she has three boys. Both she and her husband work in education, which in my opinion is a selfless occupation. And that is what is so inspiring to me about her... She was BORN TO BE A TEACHER! She first impressed me at the OBOB Swim Party with her talk to the kids about expectations before the swim. And now she is filling in for Brailey's teacher, who just had her first baby, and she has completely blown me away with her talent for teaching. Brailey came home crying on her teacher's last day of teaching. And the next day? After she had Sandi for a mere day? She came home excited, almost like she was starting the school year again, talking nonstop about all the wonderful things they were going to do for the remainder of the year. There are teachers, and then there are TEACHERS, and Sandi is one of the elite. And in the midst of preparing for her new job, she is still running her children to practices, cooking sit down dinners for her family, even if it is 8 o'clock at night, and you know she was a tremendous help to her two besties with that big school event. Wow... I can't even wrap my mind around all she does, and does WELL.

Only two more people I want to pay tribute to...

My best friend from high school, Nikki, who I mentioned in my post about her son's First Communion. She just got married this past Thursday! Yay Nikki and Bobbie! I've written about her before in April of 2010, if you want to learn more about her - she works full time, is a full time mom, and helped with all her son's First Communion classes all year long and has the most amazing yard and house you've ever seen, all earned by her own hard work. The most inspiring thing about Nikki , though, is her ability to get along with her ex-husband and his family. Truly, they are a class act, and I'm so grateful to them for being the parents and family Nolan needs. And she is the best Godmother I could have ever asked for to Brailey. She is something special, she really is.

And my bestie, my twin, my Little Mama, my Kimmy... I know I've already written a lot, so I'll try to keep it short and sweet, because I've written about Kim many, many times. But I can't help myself, because she is so damned incredible! Her family is our family, and we all love each other more than words can say. But the inspiring thing about Kimmy is her ability to give to her children. Not only is she an exemplary mother, she gives her time at their school every single day, working in their classrooms and running the Popcorn Friday corn popping and bag filling. This week has been especially grueling, though - both kids are in baseball, two different teams, one of which she helps her fabulous husband run. They've had nonstop games and practices due to the rainy weather early in the season. Yikes! Add to that the fact that this weekend is the big dance recital for our girls, which is a lot of time and energy to prepare for. And the biggest kicker? She helped put on the biggest fundraiser at her children's school, a huge dinner and auction. Not only did she put together all the baskets for the auction, she helped decorate and set up the facility for the event, all in the middle of baseball and dancing. And as if all that weren't enough to stress anyone out? She's had to it all while PMSing! Seriously, can you imagine? So she worked all week on the auction, went to baseball and dance every night of the week, celebrated her anniversary in the middle of the week, got up at the crack of dawn on Saturday to decorate for the auction, went to a baseball game for Griffin, got Jaden dressed with fancy hair and stage makeup for the recital, went to the recital, got dressed for the auction, then attended the auction until the wee hours of the morning, and now today she has to do the recital again... Makes you tired just reading this, doesn't it? I'm telling you, she is such an inspiration!

Anyway, I just wanted to write this as a tribute to all of them to say thank you for being so spectacular and I'm grateful to know each one of them and to have them in my life. They are all a marvel of inspiration! Totally A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. And I only highlighted a few of their good works... And frankly, they are only a handful of people I know who inspire me, but they are the ones who really "take the cake," if you know what I mean. Thank you, my amazing allies, for being so faboulous!

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Dancing Darlings

At the studio before practice one day.

At dress rehearsal, waiting for instructions.

"Smiling" for the camera.
Brailey and Jaden have been in a dance class together all school year long, and now, at last, is the end of the season and time for their big RECITAL! They are the best of besties, and love each other dearly, and wouldn't you know as Kimmy and I were sitting there watching them at the rehearsal, we got all teary eyed! They're growing up too fast... But they are darling, darling, darling little dancers. The cream of the crop, I tell you! And it is going to be a pleasure to see them perform on Saturday and Sunday. Check back soon for Recital Pictures...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Things I Would Tell My People

I heard this on my favorite morning radio show which I am absolutely OBSESSED with listening to... (Elvis Duran and the Morning Show, if you were wondering.) And since I was coming up with a whole slew of my own, I thought to myself, "PERFECT blog fodder!" What do you think? What would you tell YOUR people? (The "people" are whomever you are directing the comments to, by the way...)

I would tell sales clerks and people in customer service not to BE in the business of providing customer service if they can't PROVIDE customer service. I always make a point to say "thanks for the good service" to everyone in this position who does their job well. I even try to make the people who are NOT doing their job well feel cared for and appreciated by asking how their day is, how they are. But sometimes? People are just mean. Mean people shouldn't be in customer service. Of any kind. Period.

I would tell people who have fake boobs to keep them in their shirts. I mean, REALLY? Does everyone need to see and appreciate their mountainous glory every single second of the day? Honestly, they make me uncomfortable, and I feel like I can't even look at women who display their boobage so blatantly. A tasteful amount of flesh goes a long way. In other words, less is more.

I would tell people who always have to be right, no matter what, that they are insecure. If they weren't insecure, they wouldn't have to be right every single time.

I would tell women who wear panties to stop wearing panties and get a g-string or spanx so they don't have a hideous pantie line showing. Seriously, is there anything more unattractive than a panty line? Well, yes, there is, but panty lines are right up there on the scale of ickiness. And they don't need to BE.

I would tell people in their cars at the school drop-off and pick-up line to simply FOLLOW THE RULES! If everyone followed them, we would have zero problems and a lot less irritation between us. Specifically, don't leave your car, pull your car forward when the car in front of you moves, and don't pick up your kid(s) in the middle of the road. Is that so hard?

Some of the things they had on the Elvis Duran show were for men not to wear socks with their sandals, fat people not to wear too tight of clothing not made for their body shape, Facebookers not to air their dirty laundry in status updates, and shoe shoppers not to mix up the shoes for the next shopper. All valid points, I think. Don't you agree? Keeping in mind this is all in good fun, but seriously, what would you tell your "people?'

Monday, May 16, 2011

American Idol Disappointment (Big Time!)

Now I remember why I stopped watching the show... I was so upset when James was voted off last Thursday, it ruined my entire night. I couldn't even sleep! The problem is their voting system  - they need to limit the votes like Dancing With the Stars does, and have the judges votes count. I am so sad for James, even though I know there are no coincidences and everything happens for a reason and he will be bigger than everyone this season. I'm still sad, because not only was he the best talent on there, (he's already a polished artist) he never had a single bad week, nor a single bad performance. And how does America reward him? By voting for the cuter guy, who I also enjoy, but let's get real, here. Scotty isn't as talented as James. In my "humble" but hot (meaning I am really hot-under-the-collar about this!) opinion, Haley should have been sent home, and James and Lauren or James and Scotty should have been in the finale. Whatever... The new judges are what sucked me in this season, and it has been fun to enjoy so many of the singers this year, because they were so full of talent. But James getting sent home at this point, after he's done so much more than any of the other singers, has ruined the entire season for me. Quite frankly, I don't even know if I will be able to watch the next two weeks. I was okay with Haley until she mouthed off to the judges, and now I have ZIP respect for her, so I could really care less about seeing her big journey back home. ANYWAY, this is it - no more American Idol for me after this season. I think... I do so love Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, and they have done a fantastic job. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh... Big sigh... Thank goodness my Karate Kid is still "in" on Dancing With the Stars, or the world could come to an end. Which, according to some people, the world IS going to end, and SOON! Who knows? Maybe we won't even have to worry about who the new American Idol is, because we'll all on our way to heaven.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Me on Mother's Day

Brady and I spent most of Mother's Day spreading dirt for our new lawn, which we have been trying to get in for the past three years. I have to admit I'm a little sore this week from all the pushing and pulling of the dirt with my rake, but it was worth every single ache and pain. We still have one more load to spread around, and then we will be ready to roll it and level it and... DRUM ROLL PLEASE... seed it! I can't wait! Even though it is a lot of work, the end result is going to be oh-so-satisfying. Oh yah! And for the record, it was a great Mother's Day - I was showered with gifts and breakfast at my favorite restaurant (IHOP, if you were wondering), and nothing makes me happier than getting stuff DONE, so spreading dirt made me happy. Happy, happy, happy! I can't wait to show you pictures of the finished lawn... Stay tuned!

Monday, May 9, 2011

La Fiesta 2011!

Big Daddy standing in line with his two little B's before their big show. Brailey begged Brady to wear his tie-dye shirt for the night, and even though he really didn't want to, he wore it just for her. Now that's a good dad, yah?

The two little stars in our family in line for their Fiesta pictures.

This is Britt's face after I dropped him off. This was his first Fiesta, and he was super excited! Actually, it was the first time he had ever performed, so it was a big night for him. He did an excellent job!

A little like Where's Waldo... Can you spy the B's? It will be tricky for you! This is just half of the kiddos, but my two were on the same half of the gym, so that was cool. Britt was able to find Brady and I on the other side, straight across from them, and he waved and had his eyes on us the whole time. Brailey found us, too, with the help of her friend, and that marked the first time she was able to see us in the Fiesta audience.

Britt before his dance... Isn't he handome!? See him looking right at me so I could take his picture? Such a good boy...!

Brailey Shaye just before the start of her dance. They did a number from the 70's, and it was awesome!

After the show, proud brother and sister. They were fabulous! It was a wonderful Fiesta - Brailey's third and Britt's first.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

My Godson Nolan's First Communion

After a very busy day at the Oregon Coast, we hopped out of bed bright and early the next morning (Sunday) for my very special Godson Nolan's First Communion, held at St. Mary's in Corvallis. And since it was such a beautiful day and a special occasion, we took some pictures before we jumped in the car... Molly, these pictures are for you, my friend!  
One with each kid... Britt has a funny look on his face because Brady was making fun of him for being a Mama's Boy. He truly is my boy, no doubt about it! And Shaye-Shaye is a Daddy's Girl, all the way! Isn't that how it's supposed to be? But when it comes right down to it, they are both Mommy and Daddy's.

This is my Godson Nolan with me, his Godmother and his Godfather Jeremy and the fabulous priest who presided over the mass, Father John. (I like the "crown" the plants make around his head in this picture.) It was a beautiful, meaningful, lovely mass, and Father John is one of those inspirational priests who touches everyone's heart. I pray Nolan will never forget this special sacrament he received on this glorious Sunday. 

My beautiful Brailey with her beautiful Godmother and Nolan's mom, Nikki. She is getting married in about two weeks to the nicest man ever - I couldn't have hand-picked a more perfect husband for her...
Brailey took this picture for us - she was a tad bit off on her centering... In any case, the purpose of the photo was to document the first time in the history of our lives that I have shorter hair than Nikki. She has been growing hers out for the wedding in order to, as her fiance laughingly shared, "put it up." Nikki and I have been friends for years, and I love her more than words can say. If you want to know what kind of a person she is, she is the kind of person that more people in this world should be like. Nolan's dad, who is her ex-husband, and his entire family (including his new wife and baby girl) not only attended the mass for Nolan's First Communion, but also came to her house afterwards to help Nolan celebrate his special day. Yes, the entire "ex-" family! And do you know what? There wasn't one shred of uncomfortableness - it was a house full of love and acceptance and understanding, and that, my friends, is how all the broken homes in America should do it. Talk about a class act! So Nikki is, quite simply, AMAZING. And thanks to her amazingness, Nolan was able to enjoy a spectacular First Communion celebration.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

True "Big Mama" Confessions

I saw True Mom Confessions in a magazine by a mom blogger, and I thought, "I'm glad I'm not the only one with 'secrets.'" And after reading the author's list, my next thought was, "Damn! I've got better secrets than that!" In fact, it could be said that I am prone to over sharing - one of my character defects... Still, how fun! I'm going to let you in on even more of my deep, dark, dirty secrets...

CONFESSION NUMBER ONE: I don't really like to "play" with my darling little B's. But I do LOVE to be near them and to listen to them play with each other. Sometimes I feel guilty about this and wish I was the kind of mom who liked to participate in Barbies or Star Wars or a tea parties or whatever it is they are doing. I just don't have that (whatever "that" is) in me. So I've accepted it, and I counteract my guilt by reminding myself that I am still spending time with my babies and completely enjoying them. Even though I'm not participating, exactly, I am soaking up every second of the entertainment they provide to me through their play. And I know for a fact I love and appreciate my kids more than the average mother, so I have that going for me, too. Just this past weekend, Brailey was cooking with mud and leaves and twigs and seeds, playing restaurant, and she asked her dad and I if we would like some delicious chips and guacamole? "Or," she said, "if you don't want those, perhaps you would like to try some of this, which is a cousin to guacamole, COCKamole." Now that's cute - I don't care who you are!

CONFESSION NUMBER TWO:  I don't like play dates. My kids are so close to each other, and they see each other so little at school, I hate to take their time with each other away from them by filling their time out of school with play dates. I feel like playing with other kids can be done at school, and the rest of the day is for our family. Still, I know this is narrow-minded and my kiddos don't really understand my philosophy. I actually haven't even explained my philosophy to them, but they do know I'm not a big fan of play dates. I try to make exceptions every now and then, and I do have my favorite kids that are also an exception to this line of thought, but for the most part, I try to keep my kiddos close at hand, near me and near each other. It won't be long until they are out of the house and living their own lives, so I guess it is one of the ways I am trying to capture their childhoods. And since I'm being honest, I also don't like the influence of other kids on my kids - there are some real (pardon my language) dipshit parents out there, raising dipshit kids, and I don't want any of their "shit" rubbing off on my perfect angels. Okay - that was a bit dramatic, but the point being, there are some crazy people in this world, and I do try to protect my kids as much as I can from the crazy kids. I'm their Big Mama, so I can do that - it's my prerogative as their mother, and I take full advantage of that fact.

CONFESSION NUMBER THREE: I believe in ghosts. And healers. And a lot of things that aren't really in sync with my Catholicism. There are reasons for my beliefs, of course - like the fact that I have seen my grandma twice since she passed away, and the fact that one of my dearest friends sees ghosts on a regular basis. And I do believe people like Sylvia Brown are able to see things most of us can't. I may be close-minded about many things, but spirits and sixth senses I'm completely open to.

CONFESSION NUMBER FOUR: Even as blessed as I am and as grateful as I am for the many blessings and good fortunes I have in my life, I experience depression at least a couple of times a year. And let me tell you, it is depressing to be depressed! I'm pretty sure it is weather-related, for the most part. I used to take anti-depressants, and I have to admit I felt great when I was on them. And sometimes I really (I mean really!) miss them! I've been off them for quite a while, now, and I don't ever want to mess with that chemistry in my brain again. EVER! I feel quite passionate about this issue... Although it is painful to struggle through depression, I would rather feel the pain than be on extraordinarily expensive medication that does who-knows-what? to my body and brain. I'm all about being "natural" when it comes to depression, and I try to work through my dark days in other ways. And again, since I'm being honest? The end of March and the first three weeks of April were some of the saddest I've ever experienced, and for no reason at all. I'm feeling very grateful to be back in the Land of Happiness today.

CONFESSION NUMBER FIVE: Since I'm touching on medicine, I don't trust American doctors. I think the whole medical world in the U.S. is a business geared at making money, not helping people. I'm still grateful to have doctors and hospitals, but I don't believe in flu shots or all the prescriptions doctors throw at patients. I know for a fact other countries are ahead of us medically, thanks to a good friend I have in the medical world. And those other countries don't view health care as a means for making money - they just want to help people be well. I wish America could do the same.

CONFESSION NUMBER SIX: This may not come as a surprise to most people - certainly not the ones who know me, but even if you don't know me and you just ran across this blog, you can probably sense that I'm a control freak! For example, I still pick out my kiddos' clothes they wear to school, and I don't mess around when it comes to keeping my children in line. I expect them to be the best versions of themselves they can be, and you know what? They really are. Probably has nothing to do with my control freak issues and more to do with the sweet spirits they were born with, but it doesn't really matter, because the fact of the matter is that I don't feel quite right unless things are going as smoothly as possible. That being said, it is probably easy for you to see why I have bouts with depression every now and then. And I have learned to let a lot of things go - motherhood taught me that secret. So I do my best to balance the control with free rein, but it is a constant struggle that I suspect I will always be working on.

CONFESSION NUMBER SEVEN: I have a potty mouth. I curse like a sailor. My kids have heard almost every horrible word there is to hear. Frequently. Because of this, I have had to resort to using a phrase my dad used on me when I was a kid, "do as a I SAY, not as I DO." Which is a real tragedy, because kids do what they see! I am ashamed of this part of my personality, and it is something I have been working on, and frankly, I have noticed I've been getting better at controlling my words. However, cussing is like the disease of addiction, and once you have it, you're always going to have it. Maybe I should start a Twelve Step Program for Cussers Anonymous...?

CONFESSION NUMBER EIGHT: I cannot stand the sound of people eating. This includes crunching, smooshing, stuffing, sucking sounds and furthermore, I have become quite sensitive to the smell of food, as well. Just last week I attended a meeting that was during the noon hour, and unbeknownst to me, people were allowed to bring their lunches with them. I handled all the eating and made myself take it in stride for the first part of the meeting. Then, in the middle of the hour, this chunky lady came in late and sat RIGHT NEXT TO ME, and wouldn't you know she had the most disgusting smelling yogurt and crunchy salad ever in the history of yogurt and salads, which she proceeded to eat for the remainder of the meeting. Truly, it took every ounce of self-control I possessed not to move to another seat. And even more self-control not to vomit. I had to discretely plug my nose and work at breathing. It was truly awful! My mind was full of cus words...

Okay, enough with the confessions! I've over shared enough for one posting. Stay tuned for more down the road - you never know when the Confession Bug will hit me. Until then, don't ask for play dates (unless you are one of my "exceptions"), keep your eating to yourself and please! Let me know if you've seen a ghost!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Fun in the Sun on the Beach in the Wind

We were able to sneak away from work for a couple of hours this weekend while we were in Coos Bay, and so we took advantage of our location and soaked up the rays (through a lot of cold wind!) on the beach! You can see from the pictures we had a fabulous time, even if it was short-lived. We were so happy to see the sun, our moods were happy-happy-happy and we plumb wore ourselves out! Like I always say, these are the days we will remember...

April - Here and Gone in the Blink of an Eye

It seems crazy to think Easter Sunday was on April Fool's Day this year, but it totally was. We started our Easter at mass with our fa...