Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Snow Exciting - The Big Spring Storm of 2012

Yes, snow. That was the big news last week. Whoopteedo! The surprising thing about it this time was that it was totally unexpected, at least for Brady and I - we had no idea it was in the forecast! The other surprising feature was the amount of it - there was quite a lot of the nasty stuff. For the valley, that is. Like I always say, "if you know me at all, then you know I" and you fill in the blank here. This time the blank reads, "HATE SNOW!" No, I am not one of those people who loves the stuff and just lives to have "Snow Days" at home. QUITE the opposite. And our latest experience makes me hate it even more.

Why, you ask? Let me count the reasons... Although I do love to have my B's home with me, I was really looking forward to having them out of school a little earlier than usual this school year. You see, our school district had just announced the last day of school would be June 12th, which is almost a week earlier than usual. NOW, however, with our two Snow Days and no school, I'm sure we'll be going to school until it's practically the 4th of July. (Yes, I'm being dramatic, but that's how it feels to me!)

The snow wasn't so much fun for my B's this time around, either. Unfortunately, we lost our power first thing in the morning, and it was a cold snow, so even after they were out and about playing around in it, they were still cold when they came in. I couldn't warm them up with their usual cup of hot chocolate. And the snow was so much wetter and thicker than last time, our little quad couldn't pull the sled Brady whipped up for them, and they ended up getting stuck. So while most everyone else was out having fun and coming into a nice, cozy, warm house, we were in a freezing cold house, with not much to do. I was unable to work, because we were not only without power, but also the Internet. We couldn't even snuggle up and watch a movie! I managed to set off every fire alarm in the house with all the candles I had lit, trying to get some warmth into the place. We missed our favorite show, Only in America with Larry the Cable Guy. Did I mention we were COLD? Poor us. No power is NO FUN. We ended up getting power in the early morning hours the next day, but my Internet didn't get fixed until the end of the week, which was extremely nerve wracking, because I had things that needed to be done for my job. But you know what? It was a good lesson in patience for me, and there were some good things that happened, too...

We went to one of our favorite restaurants for supper, IHOP. Brady got to stay home with us, and he managed to get his entire workbench in the shop cleaned. We played a new board game the kids got for Christmas from their Aunti Nicoley and had a great time with it - Jr. Pictionary. We made an adorable snow man, whom the little B's named Billy Bob the Snowman. The little B's had a sleepover in our room. And the next day, the kids and I went on a fabulous walk to explore the water the snow left behind. It was nice to have that extra time with my B's - they were as magical as ever and provided me with plenty of entertainment.

So there's always a silver lining, I'll admit it. But here is the moral of the story - snow is only fun if you have power, and no matter what, I do not like it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Titanic Obsession

Who would have thought the mere watching of the movie The Titanic would cause such thought in an 8 year old boy? Yes, Britt has been absolutely obsessed with it for the past month or so, ever since we sat down and watched the show one Sunday afternoon. Of course, being the pirate that he is, none of us should be surprised. I mean, after all, the Titanic was a ship. The greatest ship to ever set sail! And, tragically, to ever fail...

Since seeing the movie, Britt has talked about it nonstop. Brailey and I have learned more about the Titanic than we ever thought it possible to know. He has checked out every single library book the school has about the Titanic, and he studies the pictures, reads about it and then asks me questions I usually don't know the answers to and shares with us things he has learned about it - all this on our journeys to and from school.

He has decided to become a history teacher when he grows up, he told us. When he shared this with me, I thought, "How wonderful! He'll make a great history teacher." He has always had a great love of history, which I know is rare for children to have. Most people don't care about history until they are out of college - a wise high school history teacher told me this, and he said it is because the world is all about "us" when we are young, and we can't comprehend nor care about the past. But once we hit a certain age, we realize we came from somewhere, and history becomes interesting to us. Makes sense to me! So anyway, I was feeling quite proud of Britt and his decision to be a history teacher. However, once he elaborated, I understood that it is merely part of his obsession - he wants to be a history teacher so he can teach people about the Titanic. "I want to be a history teacher so I can teach people about the Titanic," he said. "And then, I'm going to teach them about the Concordia. And then, I'm going to tell them to write a story about the Titanic." He already has his lesson plans made!

One day he came home from school with a story he had written in his free time. It was in English, so I could actually understand it, and I'm going to save it forever... Here is what he wrote:
Hi I'm Britt. I'm going to tell you about the Titanic. You have probably seen the movie Titanic with Jack and Rose but that movie's not real at all. Well, kind of. The Titanic was going from England to America when they had to go through the Artic Sea. When the person that owned it wanted it to go way way faster, that's when they crashed in the iceberg.
That was all he had time to write, but me, being his mother, found it absolutely adorable! Of course, he had his words spelled a little differently, as children do, which makes it even more endearing to me.

Just a couple of weeks ago, a documentary came on the History channel about the Titanic. Britt was fascinated! He couldn't take his eyes off the show, it was so interesting to him. And now, wouldn't you know, The Titanic movie is coming back to theaters in 3D! Yes, of course we're going. We must! Even Brailey and Brady feel we have to take him to see it on the big screen and to experience the tragedy in a form larger than life. The story of the Titanic is truly mind boggling, and I think the fact that most of what is in the movie is real is what intrigues Britt and fuels his obsession. Actually, I've been a bit obsessed with the Titanic, myself. I can barely wrap my mind around it - no wonder it is thought-provoking for Britt. History... It's amazing!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Orange Belt Testing

See that yellow belt? Britt had a big karate test last Saturday, and he is now an Orange Belt! He had quite an audience of people to perform in front of, and he was the first one to go. For a kid who only does karate once a week, he was amazing, and of course Brady, Brailey Shaye and I were so proud of him!

The super-cool dad, Brady Murray. The bleachers get a little hard on backs after a while, and so he had to move to more comfortable seating for a bit. Nice of him to pose for my camera though, eh? Handsome man!
Getting his orange belt! Britt was so proud and excited. Here you see him with his Karate Instructor, Rikki. Britt truly loves karate, and it is so good for him to learn. The testing procedure really inspired him - he got to see all different levels of karate, and he's been doing his "moves" around the house ever since.

And here we have TWO Orange Belts! Griffin was sick on the day of testing, but he was able to test during their next karate session. I have to admit I was a little irritated they wouldn't pose how I wanted them to - they were being quite goofy. But the pictures actually turned out great, and now they are happy memories! Truly, they are such adorable little boys and good friends. Kindred spirits... And Karate Kids!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

First Science Fair Experience

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh... Big sigh. This year Brailey had her first Science Experiment, and it was an experience for the whole family, let me tell you. I admit it was a bit stressful, because we had never done something like this before, and although I can write anything that needs to be written, I am horrible with Science (and if I'm completely honest, I can tell you I loathe science and math - I'm strictly a writer). In any case, now that we know what to do, it doesn't seem as daunting as it first did, and Brailey worked so hard on this project, she really has something she can be proud of. And most importantly, we all learned from it, and the the Science Fair itself was quite enlightening. Read on for details...
Color Changing Carnations - that is the title of her project. Brailey made every single paper flower you see here on her board to add a little "pizazz." Her hard work paid off, because her classmates loved her board and gave her some lovely compliments.

She had to present the project to her class, which she had practiced at home. She was nervous, but did such a good job! I was nervous for her, and woke up at 4 in the morning worrying about her - can you believe that? I needn't have worried a bit. Once she learns how to gather her thoughts just a little better, she is going to be an excellent public speaker! And her teacher really boosted her confidence by complimenting her on using her "big voice." After school, she said, "Mom, Mrs. McFadden said she was proud of me for finding my big voice, even though I have a quiet voice." I'm so grateful she is experiencing this now and learning how to deal with her nerves. I've said it before, but it is worth saying again - she is truly amazing!
A couple of poses before the big Science Fair...

And Brailey's biggest fan, Brittster Man. Brady and I lost him at the beginning of the fair, and started a somewhat frantic search, only to find him one row over from Brailey at her best friend Carrie's station, testing her lemonade (see picture below). Every time we saw Britt, he was interacting with the students and asking them questions about their projects, listening and learning and truly participating. He was wonderful! Brady and I got a big charge from watching him.

Look at that angel-face... The students were visited by parents all evening long and explained their projects and answered questions. It was so good for them to experience! More public speaking... I'm so grateful! It was a special evening, enjoyed by all four B's. I guess science isn't as bad as I thought - maybe I was a tad overly dramatic. Just a little... Maybe.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Stylin' Little B's

Taken on Sunday, 18 March 2012
Britt in Brady's "Eric Church" sunglasses, lookin' groovy! And Brailey Shaye in my big old shades - I swear they don't make a style that she doesn't look good in. We were on our way home from the Portland area after a busy day. The sunshine was a welcome sight!

Taken Monday, 19 March 2012
It was time for new tennis shoes - they both grew out of their ones from last year. So on our way home Sunday, we stopped at the Woodburn Outlet Mall. First, we hit Under Armor, which is my favorite shoe, but they didn't have much of a selection for kids, this year. We bought them both really cool Under Armors last year at this time (the ones they've since grown out of). So, on to the Nike store, which is Brady's favorite, and they had a wonderful selection and good prices and WAH-LAH! We found some shoes! And the mom in me is thrilled, because they are both the same style, so it is kind of like I have twins, you know? Brailey's have sparkles all over them, which she loves. After they wore them yesterday, they came home gushing to me about how wonderful they are - you see, they have springs in them, and both kiddos felt like they could run and jump like Super Heroes! Yes, these shoes are that fantastic! I'm grateful they appreciate them. Hopefully they will last another year...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Splash! Field Day for Buena Vista

Last Friday, our beloved principal, Mr. Cuadros, planned a special day for all the students at Buena Vista - they got to go to Splash!, which is a super fun aquatic center, featuring a huge slide and a wave pool. The Buena Vista students had the whole place to themselves! I was a bit apprehensive about my little B's being there without me to keep my eagle eye on them, but I needn't have worried. There were less kids in the water on this day than any other time we have been there. And there were plenty of other parents just like me to keep watchful eyes on all the little swimmers - between the teachers, parents and life guards, the place was well-covered. They got to spend a full two hours int he water, and let me tell you, my kids are still tired! When they went to bed Friday night, they both kept saying, "I still feel like I'm in the waves!"
Here is Britt, fresh off the bus. I was just getting ready to cross the street when his bus pulled up, and he saw me standing there and waved to me. So I blew him a kiss, which he caught! My sweet Mama's Boy...
And here I caught Brailey and her best friend, Carrie, as they came off the bus. I thought it was so tender how Carrie kept a hand on Brailey while they were in line. These two really love each other and are very much alike in their kindness. See how Carrie was lightly holding onto Brailey's pony tail? I wish I would have had a friend like that when I was Brailey's age... What a blessing they are to each other!

Brittster Man, our superstar swimmer. He lost a bit of his swimming from the summer, but he was still fabulous.
 Brailey and her besties, Carrie and Camille. They had a so much fun!

But of course, my Hard Luck Angel had a little mishap when a boy accidentally jumped on her and cut her knee. I not sure how it happened, but the fine folks at Splash! cleaned it right up, and she was back in the pool in no time at all. And I was super glad I was there!
Sadly, Britt didn't have quite as much fun as Brailey, because none of his friends from his class participated in the swim. He had two friends absent and one in the game room. So he had to kind of entertain himself. Of course he found his sister several times and played with some girls from his class for a while, but his heart was a little sad, which made his mother's heart ache. Still, he had a fabulous time - it just would have been "even better" if his besties were there, too. Overall, though? It was a fantastic field trip, and one they will both remember forever and ever. Amen!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Britt's Leprachaun Trap, Gold Rush Style

All school year long, ever since he found out he was in Sra. Downes' class, and really even before he knew, Britt has been thinking and thinking and thinking of how he could build a Leprechaun Trap. You see, he knew he was going to get to build a one, because his big sister got to make one when she was a second grader in Sra. Downes' class. And ever since that time, over two years ago, he has been waiting and scheming and wracking his brain for creative ways to lure one of the little fellers into a trap. And so today was the day to take his trap to school, and he could hardly wait! After a lot of thinking, he decided to make a miniature gold mine.This project involved all four of the B's as we helped him create his own version of the Klondike Creek gold mine, just like the Hoffman Crew from the hit reality television show, Gold Rush. After all, Leprechauns just love gold! And what could be more alluring than a pan of freshly mined gold? Gold Rush is one of Britt's favorite shows, and we've seen every single episode this season. We feel like gold miners, ourselves! Hopefully his trap will work - he told me this morning that if he catches a Leprechaun, he's going to donate it to a museum, and then he'll be famous! I'll let you know if he manages to capture one...

Friday, March 9, 2012

Welcoming the Time Change

Yes! This is the "time" I live for! I am always sad when the time changes in the fall, and always happy when it changes back to normal in the spring. Longer days give me such a good feeling! I'm grateful the powers that be have been pushing the time change in the fall back a couple of weeks and moving the one in spring forward. Really, I wish they would just leave it be. Keep it on the one that has longer days, please! (Maybe I should move to Arizona, where they do just that. Arizona is looking better all the time - hot weather and a normal time zone...)

Before I had kids, I used to have a hard time with the time change. I dreaded the one in the spring and felt like I was missing a lot of sleep. One year I swore I had never adjusted to it! But now, I don't require as much sleep as I used to, and I like to get up early. I've noticed my Brailey has an internal clock, and no matter what time system we are on, she wakes up at the same time every day - 6:30 in the fall/winter, 7:30 in the spring/summer. Britt? He sleeps late no matter what the time zone is. Unless he is excited about his birthday or Christmas, in which case he wakes up a the crack of dawn.

Frankly, everyone I talk to feels the same way I do - we all like the longer days! So why do we change times? What is the point? I've heard it is supposed to conserve energy and gas, but I don't understand how this could be true. So if you know the answer, please feel free to post a comment.  In the meantime, I will happily welcome the change on Sunday. Spring is on its way!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Am I Pretty or Ugly?

Brady and I were watching our favorite doctor last night, Dr. Drew, and he had a segment on his show about young girls posting videos of themselves on YouTube and asking that very question: am I pretty or ugly? We're talking tween girls, here, so Brailey Shaye's age, which is very disturbing in itself, but even more disturbing? The comments people are leaving them are absolutely horrible, evil and downright mind-boggling! How can people be so heartless and mean?

Sadly, these girls will take everything negative that is written about their videos to heart. They won't believe the positive remarks, I'm sure. I speak from experience. What a sad, sad thing! Can you imagine your little girl, who is at that age when her body is changing and she is confused about who she is and just wants to know if she measures up to society's standards, posting a video of herself asking if she is pretty or ugly? As a mother, it would devastate me. It devastates me as a citizen of society.

Girls are mean, in general, anyway. I remember when I was a freshman in high school and a senior girl had humiliated me in front of everyone by making me push a quarter across the floor with my nose, I went home (which wasn't home-home, because I lived with my grandparents during the week or I would have went to my mom) crying to my Aunt Renee, who was also my Godmother. She told me, "Girls are the meanest people you'll ever meet. If you end up with even one or two close friends throughout your life, count yourself lucky." And over the years, I have always remembered this advice and heeded it, because she's absolutely right - girls are way meaner than boys. I have been lucky in the friend department, thankfully, as I do have quite a few friends, both gold and silver (bless your hearts!). But not only are girls mean, they turn into mean women, and then those women raise mean girls and the cycle goes on endlessly.

Many years ago, before I was even a mom, one of my good friends told me "it takes a good mom to make a good girl." She meant it takes a NICE person/mom to make a good girl. I can't tell you how many times I've found this to be true. A girl almost always turns out just like her mother, doesn't she? Being kind and respectful are behaviors that are learned. And even though it is easy to see how today's technology has spawned a whole new level of mean, it still makes me sick to my stomach to think there are little girls out there trying to validate their self-esteems on the damned Internet.

Those negative comments that were left for those poor little YouTube girls will live in them for the rest of their lives, I'm sure of it. (Since I'm on a memory kick,) I can still remember the meanest thing that was ever said to me when I was a kid. I was never one of the "popular" kids - I was always on the edge, not quite accepted but not completely left out. And if you can imagine, whenever I was gone from school for a day or two, I was "out." Nobody would talk to me when I came back. One time I was given a note, after I had been out of school for a few days, and it said, "Have you heard about the lonesome loser? She's a loser, but she just keeps on trying." I didn't know it was a song, at the time. But that little phrase has lived in my head since I read those words, and I felt so sad and ashamed, it still hurts me to this day. I think it hurt me so much because that is just how I felt - I kept on trying to fit in with the "in" crowd, but I never quite made it. I felt like a loser, whether I was one or not, and that note cut me off at the knees, to say the least. I'll never forget how hurtful those words were.

Maybe that is why I am so saddened and heartbroken for these lost little girls who are searching for validation on YouTube by posting those vulnerable videos of themselves. I pray they get the help they so desperately need. And I pray my own baby girl will never have a self-esteem that desperate. I pray I can help her feel good about who she is, because Brailey is so incredible and amazing. But she's also nice, and that will make her a target of hatred, someday. Of that I am sure. Hopefully Brady and I will be able to help her through the worst of it, and more than anything, I hope if she is feeling as awful as the YouTube girls feel about themselves, she will come to us before she does anything drastic.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Wicked Obsession

You've heard of it, I'm sure... The book, "Wicked," which inspired the hit Broadway musical? I've actually had the book for several years, now. Someone recommended it to me (thanks, Robert!), and I found it at Goodwill or St. Vinny's or some such used book source shortly thereafter. But I never could find the desire to read it. I picked it up many times, only to put it back on the shelf. In the meantime, I nurtured several book obsessions, starting with Twilight series, then all the Harry Potters, on to every single Jodi Picoult book ever written (in the order they were published, after the first few), and most recently my new favorite author, Elin Hilderbrand, with a few other odds and ends in between to tide me over between my book obsessions. Next, I have all three of the Dragon Tattoo books waiting for me to pick them up. Have you noticed a pattern, here? Yes, I'm a bit obsessive-compulsive... But I admit it, so that takes some of the sting out, right?

I believe everything happens for a reason, and in it's own timing, which is why I am happy to announce I am now a complete and total Wicked freak! After seeing several commercials for the Wicked show coming to Portland this spring, I decided it was time to read the damn book. And guess what? I couldn't put it down! I loved it! I must have been ready for it. And although it will be several (and when I say several, I mean when they are in their thirties, at least!) years until my little B's are allowed to read the book themselves, it has been fun for them to discuss Wicked with me. They are as enamoured with the book as me! Probably because I've shared little tidbits of what is going on with them, and how Elphie (Elphaba's nickname) isn't really mean, and how the book puts a different spin on The Wizard of Oz movie. (We've been big fans of the movie ever since Brailey was a munchkin in the first holiday show she skated in.)

One of the neat features of the Wicked book is a map of Oz at the beginning. I can't tell you how many times I've referred back to that thing! Even my B's love looking at it. And now, thanks to my beloved friend Elisabeth, I am reading her copy of the next book in the series, "Son of a Witch." Lucky for me, Elisabeth has the third book, as well, featuring the Lion, and then I will be on a mission to find the final book, which I believe just recently came out. I had no idea Wicked was even a series when I started reading it - I was thrilled to learn there was more story to come!

The books are somewhat difficult to read - you really have to focus and stay with them. And it was sad to know Elphaba (The Wicked Witch of the West) was going to die in the end. But the story is so compelling, I feel a bit like a kid, reading about a magical land, albeit a twisted magical land. So far, I am really loving Son of a Witch. It is wonderful to be able to relate the material in the book to today's perils and pitfalls and yet be taken out of this world and into another. What more could anyone ask for in a book? Well, I guess that depends on your own personal preferences, but for me, I'm just thankful to have a new series of books to focus on, and maybe when I finish these, I'll venture out into the author's other books, which are similar in nature. And someday, somewhere over the rainbow, I am going to see that Wicked musical. In the meantime, my fingers are crossed, hoping it will be made into a movie - now that would be wicked! Wicked-cool!

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...