Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Brailey's Discover Girls Magazine Finally Out!

We all know time flies, but it scarcely seems like yesterday that we were driving to Portland for Brailey's magazine shoot for Discovery Girls back in April. Yet waiting for "her" issue of the magazine to come out was like molasses in December - painstakingly slow! Every single day, Brailey Shaye would check the mailbox, dying to see if her magazine had arrived. She did this for almost three weeks! We tried opening the mailbox all together, her by herself, then Britt by himself, but nothing made the magazine magically appear. And then the day it came, OH-MY-GOODNESS were we all excited! She looks (in her mother's and father's and Aunt Kimmy's opinions) absolutely adorable and gorgeous! Her sparkle shined through and her sweet personality is evident in her pictures, and that is all we had hoped for. 
So we got up extra early this morning and met KMTR's (Newsource 16) Kelli Warner and her camera man at the school for a follow-up interview, which will air tomorrow. Above you see her standing outside the school, by the jaguar, waiting for the doors to open. Kelli Warner and the camera guy are so nice and kind and it was a really fun interview. It was great for Brailey to feel special, because she is, but she's also humble and shy and sweet, so she hasn't been bragging on herself, even though I'm sure she'd love to. She knows it isn't appropriate. However, her mother is allowed to brag just a little, right? And especially on my own blog, so I'm shouting it to the rooftops that Brady and I are incredibly proud of her to be in a national magazine and featured on our local (did I mention favorite?) news channel. She is such a great kid, I can't think of a better representative for an Oregon Discovery Girl than her. 
Above you see her with Kelli and the camera man, the interview all wrapped up - now we can't wait to see this! Thank you, Kelli, for taking an interest and making my baby girl happy. Below are pictures I took with my camera of a few of the pictures from the magazine. If you want a copy, it is on newsstands now. Brailey has spent a good deal of time in her room, studying every single word of this issue - I'm sure she knows it by heart! This will be something she always remembers, that's for sure. It it amazing how much she has grown and changed in a mere nine months... 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Newtown Heavy on My Heart

Every single day since it happened, I have thought about those families affected by the killer in Newtown, Connecticut. I can't let it go... I keep thinking about how the lives of the victims' families are ruined forever, never to be the same. I keep thinking how they were just babies, precious little babies. I keep thinking about that teacher who hid her students - how did she have the presence of mind to do that? Amazing. I keep thinking about the first people on the scene and how they are scarred for life, as well, and how they will never be the same. I keep remembering President Obama when he spoke to our nation with tears coming out of his eyes. I myself seldom cry, but every time I think of this tragedy, tears seem to leak out.

Back when I was fresh out of college, in the "real world" for only a couple of years, I had the opportunity to take part in grief counselor training. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I worked at a grade school, at the time, as a librarian and an office clerk for an elementary school with Kindergarten through third graders. I knew every single kid in that school by name, all 400 of them. I feel so blessed to have been chosen to take part in Crisis Response Training (that was the official name), and I still remember the people I went through the training with. Later, when I landed my position at a high school and elementary school as the main secretary, I became the head of the Crisis Team, and I thank God we had a team, because there came a time when we needed it - one day in April, a mere month and a half before graduation, one of our beloved senior students shot and killed himself. This set off a chain of suicides in the community, and we were lucky to have had a Crisis Plan in place and a team to help with the grief. I remember how strong I was for all the kids and anyone who needed me, how emotionally exhausting it all was, how thankful I was to have had crisis response training and how I went to the funeral of the kid I had known since he was a toddler. I attended it with my parents, was fully prepared to console others, but didn't think to bring a single tissue for myself. Imagine my surprise when my own grief made an appearance and I couldn't stop the tears falling from my eyes, no matter how hard I tried. My dad saved the day by supplying me with his hanky, which was a sopping mess of snot and tears within seconds.

So I think of this when I think of Connecticut, and I remember how everyone eventually goes on. In fact, I haven't seen anything about the massacre in the news for quite a while, now. The world, it seems, has moved on. But not those families who were involved. No, not them.

I am so tired of all the opinions on gun control and politics. I want to scream every time I see a Facebook post about what should and shouldn't be done. And to go a step farther, I am astonished at how narrow-minded, selfish and tunnel-visioned people are in their political views. Does anyone ever think of anyone besides themselves when they are forming their opinions and blasting them into the atmosphere? I have an opinion, too - I wish certain school officials were armed, but I don't think every teacher should be. I believe people should have the right to bear arms, but I don't think they need to have assault weapons. I don't believe in "God-given" rights - who are we to say what He thinks about gun control? I wish all the video games depicting real-life shooting scenarios could be abolished, but I'm not so naive as to believe this will ever happen.

The bottom line for me is that there is good and evil in the world, no matter what the circumstances. There was a priest who spoke on the news the weekend this nightmare occurred, and his words helped me wrap my mind around it better than anything else I have seen. He said as evil as this act was, the love the world responded with was at least some good that came out of it. Hopefully, that love will inspire great things. He also reminded me that God loves us so much, he was willing to risk a small portion of the population to give us all the gift of free will. Yes, free will is a gift we often forget about. It is sickening what that kid did with his free will, but he chose to follow evil, and because of that, lives were ruined forever.

I pray the love that came from this tragedy will keep spreading. I pray that people will continue to be kind. I pray people will stop worrying about their rights and worry more about just being good and nice and kind and loving. I pray for every single person affected by this horrible tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. I send my love to all of them, because even though my life has been humming along, I know theirs have not. And so I'm doing the only thing I can for them. I'm praying.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bond... James Bond - An Obsession


Blame it on Skyfall and our new tradition of seeing a movie on Thanksgiving Day. That's what started it, after all. Before seeing Skyfall, we hadn't seen any of the "new" James Bond movies with Daniel Craig. However, it must have been written in the stars for us 4 B's, because as luck would have it, just a few days before Christmas, we caught Casino Royale on our television! So we did something we've never done before with the kids - we stayed up LATE (11 o'clock!) and watched our hero take on the terrorists.

So you can imagine that after seeing the first of the new James Bond series featuring Craig, we had to find the second movie, Quantum of Solace. We did even better than that, though - we found a steal of a deal on both movies, and after we watched the sequel, Quantum, we watched Casino again, and this is a REAL shocker - we did it all in one day! We B's never-ever-EVER sit around and watch movies all day long, so this was a first for us, and it was thrilling!

As far as movies go, we would give Skyfall, the third movie in the series, a 20 on a scale of 1 to 10. This James Bond is so endearing because he isn't perfect. He has faults! And those blue, blue eyes of his are oh-so-charming. And best of all, he's funny! Plus there is a storyline to the series that is touching, as well. Have I mentioned we love Agent 007?

Now you might be thinking such movies are too violent for children to watch, but let me tell you - it is so over-the-top-NOT-REAL that the effect is more fun than tragic. In fact, we have joked many times that Brailey is a much better shot (with her BB gun), and perhaps they should all take some shooting lessons from her. For us, that is what makes it so exiting - the fact that the stunts are so far-fetched. That's James Bond for you, right?

Thanks to our obsession and day of James Bond action, I will admit I did lose a night of sleep - the theme song kept playing in my head all night long, and I couldn't make it stop! We are certainly looking forward to seeing Skyfall again when it comes out on DVD, and we can't wait to see what the next movie will bring! What can we say? There's worse things to be obsessed with as a family than James Bond. As far as addictions go, we think he's pretty fun! And if you haven't seen this series? We highly recommend it!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Groovy New Headgear

Brady brought us back some groovy new headgear from his trip to Denver - we were all thrilled! From our heads to our toes... Thanks, Mr. Montana!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Turning of a Bad Day in to a Good Night

Two days after Christmas, I had a Bad Day. Just like the song, you know? Only not really. It wasn't bad so much as it was weird.

Anyway, on the 27th, Brady and his brother, Boone, got up super early and made the drive down to Sacramento. They went to see their Step-Dad, who has recently become seriously ill. Their mom (my beloved mother-in-law!) and their sister Suezy live in Sacramento, as well. So they were able to have some much-needed family time, which was truly wonderful and a good thing in many ways for all of them.

The little B's and I stayed behind to hold the fort down, and on this particular day, we had many, many errands to run. You know how it goes over the holidays - I had been putting a few things off, and so they all culminated into a huge list. As we were going about these things, some strange things happened...

First, we stopped at the recycling center, where the school custodian, "Mr. Jim," whom I have always made a point to be kind to, reprimanded me for putting my bags of plastics in the plastics container. Yes - you read that right. He wanted me to put them in the cardboard containers. What?! Mere seconds after this, a pickup drove by the place Britt and I were standing at a fairly good clip and drove directly into a mud puddle, which splashed right onto our legs and feet, soaking us - twice! First the front tire and then the back. Hmmmm.

Next, I went into the Post Office, which is located in Coburg's Dari Mart. A man was ahead of me going into the store, and for a second he acted like he was going to hold the door open for me, but then he abruptly let it go so that it slammed shut right in front of me. Rude? I thought so.

On we go, though, to the cleaners, where just as I was turning in, a lady in a big car wanted to come out. I stopped and motioned for her to go ahead, but she didn't see me, because she was too busy ramming her car into reverse and scowling her irritation. I smiled and waved at her, but she wouldn't look at me - apparently she was too mad. Okay.

Next, Wilco Farm Store. First, I missed the street on our way there, so we had to go a little different route, which stresses me out a bit, because I don't like being "lost." Once we got into the store, which was for the purpose of exchanging Britt's new cowboy boots for a larger size, we headed to the boot section, which has a counter to assist people. There were two employees working at this counter, and they both ignored us as if we didn't even exist. One was on the computer, the other on the phone, and they never even acknowledged our presence. So we decided to go to the front counter. Here, we found two long lines of people wating to be assisted, which was bizarre, because the parking lot was practically empty when we came into the store mere minutes earlier. We chose a line, and wouldn't you guess, it was the slowest one. Alrighty, whatever, right?

Upon our return home, we changed our gear and headed out to clean the stalls, where we found the final straw in my "crappy" day - Brailey's horse, Tex, had pooped right in the water trough! Really? Really! And not just a water trough, but a full water trough. Which meant we had to get a bucket and scoop the water out so we could clean it so the horses didn't get sick. Lucky for me, Britt was able to do the water scooping while Brailey and I did the poop scooping.

So as I was in Tex's stall, scooping poo, I said to my B's, "Man! This has been the worst day! I can't believe all the bad things that have happened! First," and I started listing everything you just read above. Well my B's surprised me, and instead of agreeing with me, they said, "Mom, you have to turn a negative into a positive. You know, it could have been worse." And then they went on to list all the good things that had happened along with the bad. I was so proud of them (all that talking I've been doing really does sink in, yah?)! And it totally changed our day, although by this point, it was late afternoon.

That evening, we watched a fun movie on TV, and in it, a girl finds a penny on the ground tail's up, which she turns over and gives it to a man she just met that she is attracted to (it was a love story). Later, the guy finds a penny tail's up and does the same thing for her. And at the end of the movie, he still has her penny she gave him, which he shows to her. I'm sure you've heard of "pennies from heaven," which my mother finds all the time. Anyway, after the movie, as I was on my way to tuck the kids into bed, I looked over on the love seat, where Brailey, my very observant child who misses nothing had been sitting to watch the movie and whom I am certain would have noticed this had it been there next to her. What do you think I saw? Yes, a penny was sitting there, head's up! And somehow, I just knew it was a sign that everything was going to be okay. I felt it.

And that, my friends, is how a bad day turned into a good night. And I still have the penny on my nightstand, where I look at it every night and morning, and guess what? Every time I see it, I get that same good feeling.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Birthday Lovelies - A Few of My Favorite Things

I love that song from The Sound of Music... It makes me think of all my favorite things, too. Here are a few of my favorite things from my birthday - Birthday Lovelies, as I am calling them. (First and foremost on my list, the Aerosmith t-shirt from Nicoley in my Getting Older post!) I am lucky and loved and blessed with beautiful friends and family who have the best hearts in the world!
Brailey made my name out of Legos and also designed a bunch of Lego "cupcakes," which she arranged on the coffee table. So cute! She said it took her a long time.
 And this is a a card she made out of special paper she made with her best friend during that play date I mentioned last Saturday. I love it! They actually made this paper in a blender?
Britt gave me some "very rare - no one else in the world has these!" Trading Cards for the Comic Series he is developing. And note the "36" on the front of the card - I love it! And then then he wrote "big Moma," with the "big" really small - so funny!
These tulips are from my bestie - I have always loved tulips!
And these were waiting for me when we got home from school from Brady - he has been in Denver all week long for the big western market, so he's bringing me a surprise home from that shindig (I can't wait!), but these flowers are gorgeous and very thoughtful. It is hard to truly celebrate a birthday without the love of your life... Next year, I'm going with him to Denver Market!
This was one of my presents from Brailey - a "ticket" to an autographed copy of her Discovery Girl magazine, which she has been dying to get in the mail. It should be coming out any day, now. She is just as funny as Britt in her own way - I love it! It was hard for her not to go shopping for me, because she is so good at it, now, and knows just what I like. She and Brady have been discussing things on the phone while he is in Denver.
A new wallet, (which I actually needed to go with my new purse from Christmas that Brailey got for me!) from my parents with a very generous gift card inside - even though I tell them not to, my parents spoil me. Okay - I admit it - it's fine with me. I love being their daughter! And it's fun to be spoiled. When I thanked my dad for it, he said, "Yah, Mom said it looked like you." It made me smile!
And this little gem is a pillow that my bestie hand made for me! She is so amazing - she sewed the pillow and knitted the doily, and she also added an extra touch by using a button from my Grandma's button stash. I have a huge jar of buttons from my Grandma which I shared with her, and it was so sweet that she used this one for my special pillow. Every time I look at it, I am filled with love, because I think of Kim and her thoughtfulness and then I think of my grandma, which fills me to overflowing with love. Did I mention I am a lucky girl? I am. After all, these were just a few of my favorite birthday things...!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Britt's Humor

One thing about Britt - we can always count on him to make us laugh! He is so charming, and the best part is, he doesn't mean to be. He's just naturally that way... Some might say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree and he's a lot like his dad, which is true, but he's definitely funny in his own way, too. I've always thought him an "old soul." He's just adorable to listen to!

Here are a couple of the latest funny/cute/precious things he has said:

One day shortly before Christmas, driving to school, the two little B's and I were discussing how cool their parents are (me in a joking, mother-like way.)  Brady and I frequently let our children know how cool and "groovy" we are. Isn't that what parents are supposed to do? Brady is always telling them they have "the grooviest dad ever!" So anyway, Britt said, in a very serious tone, "Yah, I'm starting to think Dad really is groovy. I mean, even Miguel thinks he is!" Miguel is a kid in his class.

And over Christmas Vacation, as we were watching his favorite show, Gold Rush, he came up with a real heart-melter. On the show, they were talking about morale and someone said "nothing fixes morale like gold." So Britt asked me what morale was. I said it was kind of like your feelings - are you sad, happy, depressed, confident? And he said, "Actually, nothing fixes morale like your mom."

Yah - that's our Brittster Man. He's a keeper, for sure!

The many faces of Britt... Here you see him with our popcorn bowl on his head (my Mom gave this to me for my birthday when I was pregnant with Brailey, and I remember my Grandma didn't think it was cute at all, because she remembered actually having used something like it for a "potty" back in the day). In the bottom two pictures, note the tag due to his shirt being on inside out and the last picture is his "Mob Boss" face, as if the bowl is a fedora. Like I said, he makes us laugh all the time!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Pain of Getting Older - Ahhhhhhhhhh!

It is amazing the difference a year can make in a life. Every year, no matter how much I try to keep it from happening, "things" start "going." Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh! Every year, it becomes harder to get/stay in shape. Every year, there is more grey hair to contend with, more wrinkles and cellulite, there are more age spots. In other words, I do not like this aging thing one bit, and I am not embracing any of it!

Which is why I was so thrilled when Brady told me the boys at his Dutch Bros. coffee stand thought I was younger than I really am. I feel so old, these days! I am an older mother, I  know this. But I didn't realize how hard it would be to see all the younger moms looking so damned good while my ass grows a size every year and my face resembles a prune more every day. When Brady told me his Dutch Bros. guys thought I was pretty, I was thrilled to my toes! I'm not that narcissistic, I promise, but don't we all long to be complimented? Every now and then?

Truthfully, this blog post is narcissistic, and I'm sure you think I am fishing for compliments. I assure you I am not, and I loathe nothing more than when I see people doing that very thing daily on Facebook. The point I am trying to make is that it is truly hard to get older, and it is also hard not to miss the "old days" of blissful youth. And I think we all like to be told we're attractive every now and then, don't we? Besides, today is my birthday  - I'm allowed to whine just a little bit, don't you think? I don't mind the knowledge I have acquired over the years, I just don't like looking older, including the aches and pains in my joints and muscles.

Yah. So there! The next question is, what am I going to do do about it? Stay tuned to the rest of my life for more exciting adventures in THE SAGA OF QUEEN B GETTING OLD - ER...
And this is me, in all my Old Age Glory, wearing my AWESOME NEW AEROSMITH t-shirt that I LOVE from my Nicoley! Thank you so much - I don't know how you read my mind, but I have been dying for an Aerosmith t-shirt for quite some time. And I am THRILLED to have this one! And someday, Steven Tyler is going to sign it for me - yes! Because I have SENT IT OUT INTO THE UNIVERSE! So thank you Nicoley (I love you!) and Happy Birthday to me!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Beauty of Getting Caught Up

Ahhhhhhhhhhh! There's just nothing quite like getting "caught up," is there? For myself, at least, it gives me such a feeling of PEACE. I truly believe clutter breeds chaos, and any time I see a messy area brewing, it fills me with a sense of panic. It makes me feel out of control and crazy. And if you know me at all, then you know I don't need any more crazy in my personality - I've got enough to last me my whole life through!

Over our Christmas vacation, we were able to actually relax and enjoy ourselves and to declutter some areas that had been needing to be decluttered for a while. I actually took some time off from my job, and we organized and purged some of the "stuff" we had that we didn't need. We still have an abundance of things we don't need, but at least we managed to get rid of a good chunk of it. Yay us!

Even better, we found some treasures we had forgotten about! It has been nice to enjoy them again - they are brand new to us, now. And so we are feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the new year. I have no idea how the clutter builds up. I try to keep messes down to a minimum and to keep ahead of things, but before I know it, an overwhelming pile or area will build up. YIKES!

For now, at least, we are settled. I'm trying to teach my B's how to be more organized and to stay on top of their own messes. It's a life skill, you know? We'll see how that works out, won't we?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Sharing My Children

Why is it so hard for me to share my children? This is the question that has been floating around in my head the past few days. The obvious answer is because I love them so much - yes, that is true, and I can't imagine loving or appreciating them more. In reality, though, this is a much bigger issue than you might first think. Because I really, really, REALLY don't like sharing my little B's.

I think it is a good thing that I enjoy my kiddos as much as I do, but I also recognize it isn't always healthy. The next obvious answer to this concept is my need for control, which does hold a grain of truth, as well, but even that isn't the core of the issue.

Three things happened over our Christmas Break that made me realize I have to let go, at least a little. Well, four things, actually, now that I think about it. The first one happened before Christmas - it was a book I read about a "Helicopter Mom." I recognized myself in the mother of that book, and I realized it was a dangerous concept. Basically, the idea of the book was that it is good to keep your children safe and sound, but you have to know when to bend, too, or the consequences may be more than a mother like me could handle. So that thought has been in the back of my mind for a couple of months...

Which brings us to the three things that made me realize I have to let go (just a little). They might sound silly to you. For me, they made my heart hurt and I felt a wave of sadness come over me.

Thing Number 1.
My mother-in-law invited Brailey to come down and stay with her BY HERSELF sometime, like during the summer. My initial reaction was, "NO WAY!" I mean, how could I ever allow Brailey to go somewhere BY HERSELF? Even with her own grandmother...

Thing Number 2.
I mentioned to Brady that his mom wanted Brailey to come down by herself, just to gauge his reaction, and shared with him that I didn't know if I could let her do that. And Brady very gently said to me that he understood how I felt, but at some point, we needed to "separate" our little B's and have them do things on their own. WHAT?! My stomach lurched at this thought.

Thing Number 3.
Brailey was invited to her best friend's house over Christmas Break. I didn't want to let her go. But I did! I also scheduled a play date for Britt. And I realized I need to allow them to do more of this, because it affects them socially when I don't. As much as I love having them all to myself, they start feeling left out when they see their friends having play dates without them.

The truth is, I don't feel complete without my 3 B's with me. So yes, it is all about ME and MY insecurities. As far as children go, they are so much fun to be around! The two of them are best friends, and I'm so thankful for that. Of course, this is another one of my issues, as I didn't have a close relationship with my own brother growing up, and I want them to have that blessing of sibling love and companionship more than anything. Yet I know it isn't healthy to be so selfish with them.

There are a couple of other things that make it hard for me to share them, like the fact that we live 20 minutes out of town, which takes time, and the fact that time is a precious commodity in our household. And then there is that ever-present fear that something will happen to them when they aren't with me. Those are just excuses, though. I know it.

So I'm going to try harder to let them have more time with their friends. And maybe I will consider letting them be with certain family members on their own. It's a new year, after all, and I am always striving to improve myself. The good thing is that all my reasons are rooted in love, but it is like that sand analogy - the harder you hold onto it, the faster it slips through your fingers. So maybe, just maybe, if I learn to let go just a little, I can hold on to their childhoods a little better. I hope!

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...