Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thinking Inside the Box

The little B's, thinking inside the box... They did this one day on our way to recycling. They said, "Look Mom! We're thinking inside the box!" So true... And speaking of thinking creatively, wait until you see what the end of summer holds for us 4 B's. Summer is definitely not over for us - oh no, not yet! Not by a long shot! We still have one more trick up our sleeve... Stay tuned to see what our next adventure entails!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Summer Book Clubs

Both Brailey and Britt were graciously invited to be members of Book Clubs, this summer. It was amazingly cute! Their friends, Daniel and Jonah, and their beautiful mother, Kristin, hosted the events all summer long. And you would be amazed at how adorable the discussions at the meetings were. It has been a great inspiration for reading books and gives the kids a chance to really think about what they are reading - a unique way to develop comprehension skills, right? We're talking two clubs, and The White's, who hosted and developed the clubs, invited the members to their house every two to three weeks, even mere days after they had just moved in to their new home! Amazing...! In any case, it has been super fun, and if you have kiddos that like to read, I highly recommend starting a "club." We all bring a snack to the meetings, which all the kids love, and they talk and eat and think and socialize. Then, they get to play! It has been great, and we thank The Whites and all the members of both clubs for making it so special. Thank you - it added a lot of flavor to our summer reading, to say the least! And both clubs decided to continue meeting into the school year, although only once a month, so the fun continues. What will they read next?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Summer "Finds!"

One of our favorite things to do during the summer as a family is to HIT THE YARD SALES! There is nothing we 4 B's love more than stopping by a sale and finding a treasure. This summer has been an exceptional season for us, and we really hit the jackpot on every single thing we were looking for! And Britt even learned how to bargain - he's far braver than his mother and sister, that's for sure. He gets his smooth talking from his dad, of course.

If you think we're crazy to get our kicks from shopping other people's junk, let me share with  you a few (just a few, mind you!) highlights from our summer finds.

1. A brand new weed sprayer, with the tags still on it! Brady has been wanting one of the backpack weed sprayers for a couple of years, now. Right after we bought it, we did a price check at Coastal, and the exact same sprayer was $85.00, which is far more than we paid for ours. Exciting!

2. The third Star Wars movie on DVD. We found it at the last sale we went to (on this particular day). That morning, when we started out, Britt said, "I'm sending it out to the Universe - I am going to find that movie!" This happened while we were in Sublimity, one of our favorite places to go "yard saling." Britt looked and looked and looked through every DVD we came across at every single sale. Finally, at our last stop, there was a full table of DVDs, but a bunch of women were standing around it, and Britt couldn't get to it. He had showed me what the spine of the movie looked like, so I would know what to look for, and lo and behold, I saw the movie from across the table in the middle of the chatting women. I said, "Excuse me," reached out and snagged the DVD and yes! It was the EXACT VIDEO Britt had been searching for. Yay us! He sent it out in to the Universe, and it came back to him. Amen! It was good for him to see that the principal of The Secret really does work. We were all excited and happy for him. (Not so excited later on, though, when he relentlessly bugged us about watching it...)

3. I found a brand new copy of Kristin Hannah's book, Firefly Lane, which is the best book I've read all summer long. One of my friends (ironically named Kristin, as well) recommended her to me, and so I was thrilled to find a new, hardback book for a buck. The characters from that book are still living in my head!

4. Coca-Cola Glasses. We've been using Mason jars for our drinking glasses for the past several years, but we had a couple of really cool Coke glass that we loved, and so we started searching for more of them, and we've actually created an entire set, now! They come in different colors, and we have four or five of each color, now. Brailey can spy these glasses from a mile away! She was the Coca-Cola Glass Girl, this summer, and got a huge thrill out of finding them.

5. An almost new pressure washer. We nearly spent $300 on one from Costco this spring, but we knew we shouldn't, and good thing, because we found exactly what we were looking for at a mere fraction of that price! I love pressure washing things - I think it is part of my OCD, but it certainly came in handy when we redid our deck a couple of weeks ago. We love it!

6. An almost new, barely used Igloo Cooler for our beloved van. We love this cooler! I found the exact same one at Shopko and it was $45, so we feel really good about the $6 we spend on ours. So cool! Yah, pun intended.

We found a lot more treasures, let me tell you, but the one BIG thing we were searching for was a patio table and chairs. In fact, we took our picnic table off our deck to "unblock" us from finding the one we were meant to find. We came across a few, but they were either too expensive or not what we really wanted.

WELL! Sunday, after we just scored out last Coca-Cola glasses, completing our set, we were talking about how great it was that we had found everything we wanted at the yard sales this summer. And I said, "We found everything we wanted except for the patio set. Oh well! We'll find one someday!" Not sixty seconds after I said this, we saw a sale on the street with a patio set out front, one exactly like we were looking for! Brady whipped our van around drove us to the sale. He said, "Now play it cool, you guys. Don't look at the patio set first - don't look interested." And so as we hopped out of the van, I reminded the little B's, "Play it cool, play it cool..." They were laughing, but got serious real quick when we walked up to the sale - after all, we are Professional Yard Salers. Even though we were so excited, we kept our cool! Long story short, the set was in mint condition and priced fairly, and Brady managed to get a killer deal on it, and we now have our beloved patio set (see photo below), not only completing our deck, but completing a summer of successful sales, as well.

We bought a whole lot of other stuff over the course of the summer, but those were our main items we were actually looking for. I'm not sure I can adequately explain the amount of fun we have as a family searching through other people's junk. Our entire family gets excited to see what we can find. We do try to be smart and not buy a bunch of stuff we don't need. The secret, for us, is to have something in mind we would like to have that we might not otherwise be able to afford. And like I said, even Britt has learned the art of negotiation, which is a good skill to have. Brailey and I aren't so good with negotiating, but that's where Brady and Britt come into play, right? If you haven't ever spent a few hours hitting the yard sales, I highly recommend it. The 4 B's? We LOVE it!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

August Odds and Ends

 Last summer, I couldn't talk them into running through the spinkler for anything. This summer, that's all they want to do! LOVE IT!
 Brailey enjoying a popsicle with some of her biggest fans. They adore her!
Chuck Adams, Off Duty Copy, handling one of my complaints.
 The Hunters. Need I say more?
 This time, they decided to wear their swim caps to run through the sprinkler. Why not?
 I thought this was cool, the sun making the shadow of our initials on Maggie's rump. Brady and I have the same initials - we did even before we were married. Cool, huh? Brady John, in case you were wondering. And Bobbi Josepha Mace, then Murray. Bobbi Jo for short. Bo, preferred.
 The wonderful load of hay we got from my dad - thank goodness for his expert loading! We made it all the way to home-sweet-home compeletely in tact. Thanks to Max and Renee Hansen for loaning us their awesome hay trailer!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Guest Bloggers - Brailey and Britt Murray

The Man from New York Who Isn't My Boss (Doug Blancero for those of you who don't know) gave us a great idea when he was here in Oregon back in July. He told the B's they should become Guest Bloggers and write some stories for me to post on my blog. They loved this idea (and so did I)! After the whole "Chuck Adams, Off Duty Cop and Sidekick Marvelous Marilyn" thing, they each decided to write from their own perspective on the creation of their characters. Thus, below you will find the "history" of Chuck Adams and Marvelous Marilyn. Enjoy!

Chuck Adams, Off Duty Cop
By Britt Murray

It was a dark day at a middle school. Some kid was complaining - the lunch ladies were serving rat sandwiches. But that kid, oh man he was so annoying that not even Chuck Adams (Chuck for short) could stop him from talking.

Then I guess Chuck couldn't take it and asked him, "Why?" He said, "Nobody ever plays with me. So I'm trying to get attention." Chuck said, "If you wanna have friends, don't cry." So the kid stpped crying.

So Chuck became known as Chuck Adams, Off Duty Cop, and went to people's houses  and took care of their complaints. Then he made a deal with a girl named Marilyn that he would be her body guard if she would be his sidekick.

She made the deal and together they became Chuck Adams, Off Duty Cop and Marvelous Marilyn, Off Duty Sidekick and Secretary.

Marvelous Marilyn, Off Duty Sidekick/Secretary
By Brailey Shaye Murray

It was June, the sun was beating down and everyone but me, Marilyn May Jo, had sweat boiling down their faces. All except my family. We were in our mansion ranch house with A/C on. I was swimming in the pool shaped like a rectangle. All that was separating it from the house was a hot tub. It was in a covered area and the ceiling, walls etc. were hurricane proof glass.

I was in the middle of calling my best friend when Daddy said he wanted me to come see the top three people who might be my personal body guard. I knew Mommy and Daddy were going to get me a personal body guard, because there were some creepy things going on in Dallas, Texas. Frankly, I could care less about the whole body guard thing. But I went anyway.

When I saw them, they were all normal except one named Chuck Adams. He was wearing a white shirt under a black coat with a clip-on tie, church shoes with jeans and Aviator shades. On his addition paper, he wrote "Chuck Adams, Off Duty Cop." That's why my daddy hired him.

Then he made me be his sidekick/secretary and all I did was sing a song in the tune of the Honey Crunch Cereal commercial after he solved complaints.

And that is how I became Marvelous Marilyn, Off Duty Sidekick/Secretary.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Harney County Summer Visit: Part Two

The second part of our summer visit to Harney County involved, much to our surprise, an impromtu overnight camping trip to "the best camping spot in the world!" This is the same spot the little B's first went camping with Grandma and Papa a year ago. They were absolutely thrilled to revisit this special place and to show Brady and I all the fun things there were to see and do and be and explore and OH-MY-GOSH, I don't remember seeing them happier, not even at Christmas! I can't even describe the joy in the air - it was contagious and spectacular! Brady and I aren't much into camping, we admit it, but we had a wonderful time, and my parents made it as enjoyable as possible, pampering us by taking care of everything from food to bedding. All Brady and I had to do was relax and enjoy, which was easy to do, because everyone was so happy and excited. I know there are a lot of pictures here, and they are only a handful of what I actually took, but it was such a special time, I had a hard time paring the selection down to even this many.
Having fun in the creek!
 The two cooks - one with real food and one with wild flowers. Both happy!
A fair amount of time was spent shooting a target with the BB gun. Brailey was the best shot, much to Brady and Papa's chagrin. They had a great time trying to beat her, but it just wasn't possible.
 Papa with his World Famous Elk Call. Need I say more?
 Britt jumped in the creek first thing in the morning! The cold water didn't bother him a lick - he quickly ate his breakfast and got back to work getting his "log" into the water. He ended up needing assistance from Dad and Papa, but they got 'er done, and I ended up bringing the log home for my yard, because it is beautiful! Below Britt is discussing his plan to get the log out with Papa.
 Brailey and her "Dreamboat." I told her about the ones I used to make as a little girl, back when I LOVED camping, and so she made one of her own. The tradition lives on! I actually learned how to make Dreamboats during my time at 4-H Camp, which was called "Lake Creek Camp," and as I shared with my B's, the worst experience of my life! I was so homesick the entire week, I cried every single day and could not wait to go home. Dreamboats were really the only thing I liked about the camp. The rest was far too traumatic for me. I'll never forget how horrible it was! But I did learn how to make Dreamboats, and I made a lot of them on subsequent camping trips with my family, which I loved.
 Building a dam. They actually raised the water level quite a bit! Perfect for floating their log in.
 Brailey found this big stick on a walk we took the first (and only) evening we were there. She called it her "bow." Can you see her shooting an arrow?
 Britt enjoying a popsicle after all his hard work getting that log into the water and working on the dam.
More target shooting with the BB gun.
Brady telling Papa it's time to go home. He made it until mid-morning before he was ready to go - we were all impressed! We drove all the way from the campsite (which was nearly to John Day!) to Eugene in one day. Lots of traveling for the 4 B's on Saturday, but worth every second of it.
Good thing I always carry my tripod with me. Or did you think a bear took this picture for us? Alas, the end of the story of the best camping trip in the world!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Harney County Summer Visit: Part One

More fun in the summer sun for The 4 B's, and this time in Harney County with Grandma and Papa! We made the long drive over in order to get hay for the horses, and arrived late Thursday afternoon. Burns has a public, outdoor pool, and the little B's were dying to show their grandparents all the swimming they learned at swim lessons. The weather was perfect! It wasn't too hot, wasn't too cold, no wind, the pool water was warm and the entertainment factor a Ten-Plus! Brady even joined the action, although he nearly put his back out when he did a summersault off the diving board. We forgot to pack our goggles, and Burns was all sold out of theirs, but they did just fine without them. And I got to see a few people I hadn't seen in years while we were looking for goggles, so that was cool, too. It was a great summer evening full of love and happiness and family fun! Stay tuned for Part Two of our visit, which is where the MOST fun occured...

Monday, August 13, 2012

Chuck Adams, Off Duty Cop and his Sidekick, Marvelous Marilyn

Chuck Adams, Off Duty Cop and his Sidekick, Marvelous Marilyn, or Marvelous Mary for short. And even though she is the "Sidekick," Chuck is her bodyguard. This went on for the rest of the day - every time I turned around, there was Chuck Adams, Off Duty Cop and Marvelous Mary. I love the way my B's make their own fun! Brady and I laughed and laughed with these two fictional characters. Love them!

Two "Rich" Characters

These two characters showed up out of the blue last week while I was watering flowers. I love my little actors! They came up with the costumes and the "skit" all on their own. Enjoy!

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...