Saturday, December 31, 2005

A Second Chance at True Love

Yesterday we had the opportunity to attend a very special wedding. The bride is dear to us- she has been our children's first start to education - their 3 year old pre-school teacher. The words that come to mind when I describe her are as follows: gentle, kind, supportive, soft-spoken, tender, loving, a living demonstration of Christ's love - exactly the sort of person you'd dream to have guide your little ones into the brave world away from home. I am very grateful for her and therefore honored to have attended her wedding.

As I watched her walk down the aisle to meet her groom, I admit, I had tears in my eyes. Because, this wasn't any ordinary love story - awaiting at the end of the aisle also stood her six year old son. And, I can only imagine how proud he must have been of his mom.

From the little I know, the man that is her son's father didn't come close to deserving the love of this woman. It ended out of her control and I bet, her wildest dreams must have felt dashed. Which made the scene we witnessed that much more miraculous to me.

There's something incredibly romantic about finding love that's truer and more meaningful than you ever thought it possibly could be. I know so little about their relationship, but the little I've heard about the way they look at one another and how he cherishes and adores her in public provides evidence enough for me that this love is meant to last. I just wonder how many other stories are yet to be completed of men or women who have been seriously short-changed in life, that have yet to discover what real love is supposed to be. And, on the other hand, how glorious are the stories of those lives that have found that secret revealed.

Then, there are those like me, who had I had the chance, would have chosen that lesser love beccause I never knew there could be better. When I was engaged to Lance, prior to my relationship with John, we started out with such a tender love. He was full of praise and prose and poetry - ready on his lips to declare all of my virtues. However, after our time together in Africa - when it was decided to indefinitely postpone our wedding, everything changed. I no longer knew why he loved me, and he no longer provided answers (yet, he insisted, he DID love me). It got to the point that I longed for our wedding day so that finally I would hear him tell me what he saw in me as he said his vows. I was that desperate for affirmation. And yet, the day he wanted to break up, I tried so hard to hold on.

Now, I'm married to a man that I never wonder why loves me. He shows me in a million ways every day. He never ceases to say the words, and never tires of new ways to tell me why he treasures me in his life. When I walked down the aisle, the giddy grin that overtook my entire countenance was because there could be no greater love I would ever have - God had surpassed my wildest, most romantic "this will never happen to me" dreams. What would it have been like if I had walked down the aisle to Lance instead - eager only for a few words that would affirm that he really did care for me? God had interceded, beyond my own will to bless me so much more.

I'm so excited to watch that happen in some of the people I know in my life. I've watched it transpire already in the lives of a few close to me - and what a thing to behold. I can't wait.

And by the way, thank you, John, for making my wildest dreams come true by proposing to me on this night ten years ago. I will say yes again every day of our lives!

Thursday, December 29, 2005


I can trace Mikayla's conception date down to two possibilities. It was carefully planned so that we would have her in the middle of January. Apparently, John and I were a little loopy when we did the math on that one! Later that month, when I began feeling like, just possibly I could be pregnant, I doubted - what were the chances we'd have both kids on the first month we tried? But, the feelings cont. and I remember taking Brayden home early from a visit from Michele's, leaving at 9pm, just to catch up with John at home and take a pregnancy test. Yes, I was right. We then went to the computer, and what do you know, Mikayla's due date was Christmas Eve. OOPS!

Mikayla's pregnancy went just as smooth as any could. I ate and ate and ate, and ended up losing weight when I weighed in. My metabolism had done this big shift after having Brayden and it was a dream come true for me. I ended up gaining 17 pounds less with her than with him, despite eating twice as much. Thanks to Zantac, even the heartburn was under control. It was a great pregancy.

Actually, the doctor noticed too, and asked me to consider having a "water birth" with her. I remember having watched a video about such a thing in my freshman year of college in a child psychology class. it seemed way too earthy, but I read the literature and I do love my baths..... and knew that soaking in the tub had helped with Brayden, so I took a leap of faith and said, "sure".

Brayden had been 11 days late, so I didn't think Mikayla would be coming prior to Christmas. But, I organized and prepared like she would be. Christmas Eve came and went - and so also, the passing of my Grandpa. I remember passing the due date and delivering part of the eulogy for my Grandpa at the cemetary- all the while my second cousin, just a couple years younger than me, was so worried I'd burst any moment!

After considerable "negotiations" with my doctor (who really wanted my body to decide when I went into labor, but I wonder if it really knows how - Brayden was nearly 10 pounds....when was my body going to think it was finally time to kick him out?) We set Dec. 28th, 5pm as the time to check in. Sounds good. I practically skipped in, still no pain - they set me up to monitors, started a little pitocin and nothing..... I hopped on the bouncy ball, watched bowl games - and laughed the evening away waiting for my body to show any signs that I was in labor. Just when we were thinking I would be given sleeping medicine to let me rest through the night, the doctor successfully broke my water. And, then the ball got rolling. Minor labor pains, but becoming consistent. Construction began on the portable hot tub (funny watching my OB turned into handy man with a wrench and common garden hose hooked up to the sink). At 1 am, I was able to get into the luke warm hot tub (an hour after my water broke) and finally, things got intense. Michele, John, and Jodi all knew that if I started the stopwatch, no one was to talk. It was a half hour of serious pain, when the nurse checked me and I was at 7-8 cm. The doctor wasn't in the room, but that didn't stop Mikayla. The very next contraction brought out her head and one more and she was in my arms.... What a frenzied panic that room had become, my doctor was just a little flustered.

For me, it was the most exhilerating moments of my life. To give context, Brayden's labor had been agonizingly slow, painful, and exhausting. When I finally agreed to an intrathecal, everything changed. I felt nothing, was happy as a lark, and delivered him quite quickly. I was hoping to not repeat that experience with Mikayla. Obviously, it was night and day difference. I couldn't believe that my body just knew what to do on its own, sitting in that bath- it hurt like the dickens, but it was so quick! I also felt so good afterwards, I was even up videotaping the bath for Mikayla.

I shudder when I hear women make generalizations about childbirth. "Oh, it's really not that bad, as long as you're in shape..." or other callous comments like that. The reality is, it's different for every woman and every baby and there is no way to compare, nor is it necessary. For me, Mikayla's experience was perfection, but Brayden's was far from it. The results, however, are all that really matter- and the memory of the pain erases with the years. Thank God!

Happy fourth birthday, Mikayla - you are a miracle!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Product Reviews

I have very little inspiration within me right now. It's such a transition week, and the hanging on of this flu has left me a little empty of enthusiasm. I was going to write about how long it actually took me to put away the clean laundry that I had managed to pile into each room (a chore I absolutely dread....stems from childhood, I think), but that's pretty dull too. (Let's just say, I spent way more time dreading the chore than it actually took to complete it).

So, I thought I'd list my favorite of the toys that each kid got.

For Mikayla, I absolutely love the Bella Dancerella set she got. It include2 a DVD with a charming teenager and her two little friends who teach kids how to do cute dance steps to the tunes and themes of Cinderella. It includes a mat to determine where to put your feet and an interchangable wand/dance ribbon/and duster to use while doing the dances. It's adorable, and interactive - I love to watch Mikayla doing it.

For Brayden, the ESPN Shot Bloc Basketball hoop. Once again, another interactive, physical activity with lots of lights, noise and other perks to keep a kid interested. Perhaps he'll be a basketball star afterall!

Sorry such an unstimulating entry.... perhaps Mikayla's birthday will inspire more tomorrow.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Well, That's Not Quite What We Had in Mind

So, this wasn't our best Christmas ever. But, thankfully it wasn't our worst. Certainly, very different.

Shortly after John came home Thursday with the flu, I began having symptoms. Mine is a less intense strain (no nausea or body aches) but debilitating nonetheless. Christmas Eve was spent very low key, no church service, a run to McDonald's with the kids, baking cookies - with lots of naps in between. It was actually quite cozy as we had our own little "family service" reading the Christmas story together and praying and watching "Miracle on 34th Street" and all falling asleep in our living room. At 2 am, I woke up and spent a couple of hours cleaning enough to make myself feel okay about opening presents in the morning - and moving kids into our room so we could set presents out from Santa.

The big concern was that we weren't going to take the flu to my mom as she's been fighting a bunch of junk on her own lately and didn't want to expose her. We weren't running fevers, so we felt safe to proceed with Christmas Day as planned, but lo and behold, about an hour after talking to my dad that we're "still on" - he called back to say Mom would be spending the day holed up in her room as she had body aches, headache, and felt like she was going to throw up every time she moved. OK, then -- I guess we needn't worry about exposing her to anything!

So, we did our best with Christmas dinner, Michael made the gravy and mashed potatoes and Dad took care of the salad. Great team effort. It went really well, but we didn't want to make it too good so Mom would feel like she wasn't needed! When presents time came around, Brayden wasn't looking good at all. Half way through, he asked if Daddy could help him open as he was so exhausted - definite temperature time, and I was proud of him for being able swallow big person's medicine to make himself feel better. Even little Ellie was off-kilter, she opened her Care Bears Tea Set and was so excited about that that she refused to open anything else. Her temper tantrum ended when she fell asleep on the living room floor.

After John and I slept away the rest of the afternoon, we headed back to our house with the Schillings. This morning, after waking up feeling miserable, Traig added to the cespool of germs in this household by throwing up. Nice.....

So, today, we're all taking it easy- Brayden is keeping the medicine down to keep his fever down. I've resorted to just wearing my robe as I so quickly sweat through any clothes, I thought this might be the best bet (my worst symptom being the body temperature fluctuation..). John is hoping to gain enough strength to head back to work tomorrow - and don't get me started on the state of our house right now.

Hmm, when I review what I'll do differently next year in my holiday planner, getting a flu shot may be part of it!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas!

From our family to yours - we wish you a very MERRY CHRISTMAS! May the miracle of the season reveal itself to you in a very real and special way......

Friday, December 23, 2005

Diagnosis: Influenza

So, John got back from the doctor today and barely made it to the bedroom. His body hurts, he is incredibly weak, his chest is congested (but fortunately clear, a concern when you've dealt with pnuemonia before) and his temperature is 103. He's now lying in bed underneath 6 layers of blankets and a heat pack. Poor guy.

The doctor told him he had influenza and consequently I got to brave Costco the day before Christmas Eve (not something I would ever plan to do) for his medicines. Apparently, he's contagious as long as he has a fever, potentially through Christmas Day. I don't know how that's going to affect Christmas Eve services or the gift exchange at Mom and Dad's.

So, if you think about it, please pray for him, and for all of the rest of us, not to get it. I'd really rather not add this year to our list of Christmas Calamities!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

8 Loaves of Zucchini Bread and Funny Snow Pics

Today's Countdown Santa activity involved taking gifts to the neighbors. Due to the fact that we really like our neighbors, that involved baking 8 loaves of zucchini bread (have I thanked you lately, Jodi, for introducing me to that recipe?) It was fun having Brayden help me and cute how the kids wanted to dress up to deliver the loaves with daddy.

I thought I'd also throw in some pictures we took while it was still snowing in Sunriver. The picture of Mikayla up against the window still cracks me up...

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Back to Reality

So we drove back to our balmy home town at about 1 today. By 4, I had everyone's clean clothes, 4 bins/coolers of unused food, and new presents put away. Ready to take on the rest of the week.... Currently I'm watching an older Lifetime holiday movie snuggled in my beanbag. It was nice to come home and realize I really like my home.

As I've before mentioned, I'm an anticipator. (I don't think I spelled that right - it reminds me of velociraptor....) Anyway, it makes for a lot of elongated vacations with all of the excitement ahead, but it can also spoil vacations when I spend time worrying that it will be over too soon. That kind of happened this last Sunday - since EVERYTHING was so perfect...., perfect snowfall, incredible friends and family as company, lots of things to keep me happy and relaxed, tremendous food (if I do say so myself...). But, I couldn't completely enjoy it because I didn't want it to end. Sounds silly, huh? As it turned out, Monday remedied all that, as the warm rains set in, and everything wasn't as ideal as it had been.

I feel that way about Christmas too. I've had to condition myself over the years to not have a major let-down by the time 10am Christmas morning occurs. The older I've gotten, the more I've come to realize that sometimes letting go of much anticipated times can be a very good thing. I've begun enjoying our New Years Retreat as a family because it's a sort of renewal - a return to discipline and routine that gets completely thrown out the window during the holidays or other vacations. My goodness, at this stage, I could really use some discipline in a lot of areas. Too much indulgence lately.. (see reference to food above)!

As with anything, moderation is a wonderful thing. There is a time for fun and vacation, and there is a time for routine and discipline - too much of either one, will only be gratifying for so long.....

As a P.S. - If anyone can tell me where I put the "special-ordered" CD I got for Mikayla's stocking, I would love a hint. I fear it is in the Lane County Landfill - it arrived the day we left and I have this sick feeling it got swept up in my effort to leave the house clean - and thrown away. The garbage was picked up yesterday.....

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

Michele's family (minus Ellie) and my family just returned from watching "The Chronicles of Narnia". All of us except Michael went into the movie without reading the book. Michele and I remember watching the PBS version, but all we both remember is the wardrobe entrance (I can't tell you how many times I crawled into my closet hoping to discover another world) and Aslan's sacrifice. I think not having read the book was a benefit to us because we weren't expecting anything. We were absolutely blown away by the beauty and message deliverance of the movie. John and I both had chills and tears - it was amazing. We brought young kids and despite the scary parts we had no regrets- in fact it sparked so many moving conversations with images and parallels the kids will probably remember for a very long time. Traig, when asked what he would rate the movie on a scale of 1-10 gave it a 100. Brayden, on his own, gave it a 10. He wants to ask Santa for just one more present - can he please have the Narnia PS2 game. (Perhaps he's not done with Santa yet...)

I realize those who aren't into fantasy might not enjoy this movie. Those that cringe at violence would probably not be super impressed. And, those who are against seeing a beautiful book turned into a Hollywood movie perhaps are quite unhappy. But, WE LOVED IT! I will mull over the details and message for a long time - and I pray my kids will too.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Moments of Happiness

This is my new favorite drink- I call is Hot Tub Hot Cocoa-
Mix 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup water, 1 heaping TB cocoa mix, and 3 capfuls peppermint schnapps - top with whipped cream and sprinkles. Drink in a 102 degree hot tub...

Mikayla playing with her Cinderella Dance DVD. I highly recommend it-

The kids teaching Mikayla how to play PS2 - "Dora and the Purple Planet"

Note the icicles from the window of our bedroom-

Friday, December 16, 2005

Why Sunriver with Travie and Stephie Is Never Boring

We started our Sunriver vacation tradition with the Whites in 1999 and have returned every year except one. The year we skipped I was 9 months pregnant with Mikayla and couldn't justify the trip. It is something we treasure, anticipate, and lengthen every year. The Whites, Schillings and us all even have an automatic monthly withdrawal set-up to fund this special event. We eat all of our favorite meals and treats, savor the hot tub, get and decorate a Christmas tree, exchange presents, and play a lot of PS2. It's guaranteed to be a good time.

However, it's not always a guarantee that there won't be something that goes a little wrong. Snow can be a nail-biter: will it come on time? will it rain? will there be any at all? Checking the long-term forecast prior to departure can seriously make or break my mood for the day. There's also the incidents that Travis finds himself a part of. In the year 2000, John and him decided to rent snowmobiles. They were having a wonderful time, exceeding 70 miles an hour in powder snow - then while climbing a hill (at a considerably lower speed), Travis' snowmobile hit a rock - and had to be towed out - costing them $1100. (Right before their wedding - nice timing for that expense....) There hasn't been anything significant that's occurred for a while, but yesterday changed all that. Here's a few pictures to share the story-

This is on the way to get a Christmas tree for our home away from home- Travis recognized his truck was sliding into the ditch and literally tried for a football field length to correct it out of the ditch. Clearly it didn't work. Good thing for ONSTAR. They had a tow truck to our exact location within 2 hours.

This would be the kids, unhappy while waiting-

This is the tow truck, doing its magic - and then Steph showing her expression of victory, note the sun setting in the backgroung - still no tree.

So, after that (by the way, no damage done and the towing was free with their ONSTAR service), the adventure was able to continue and we had five minutes to find our tree before dusk. We picked out a doozy - about 20 feet tall - we decorated it while it was laying horizontal. Too fun....

Here's a picture of the tree-

Opening presents and one of my favorite presents-

Finally, this shows that even the dogs got along and shared appropriately - good for them!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

When Did You Find Out?

Our Christmas routines as children were almost always the same. On Christmas Eve night, we would go look at Christmas lights with my grandparents and when we returned, Santa had always arrived. Yes, we always just missed him, but he sent wonderful messages to my parents about how great of kids we were. Then, overnight, he would come by again - and, of course, we would miss him again.

The Christmas of my second grade year, Michele and I were ready to stage a strike. We had deduced that this trip to see Christmas lights was what was keeping us from meeting the big man in the red suit - and this time we wanted to hear the words from him ourself. So, I remember vividly standing in the kitchen of my parents' house talking to mom and dad about our request to stay home - their response was shocking. (and one we still give them a hard time about). They proceeded to tell us the "truth". We were stunned and near tears. Clearly, this discovery didn't happen naturally - we tried to hang on to any shred of hope we could. OK, so Grandpa and Grandma bring the presents on Christmas Eve night - but surely Santa still comes overnight. "Right?" It was just a few months later, that, while driving over the Mohawk River bridge (amazing how you can remember these 'defining moments' with such vividness) we proceeded to drill Mom on the reality of the Tooth Fairy, Rudolph, and the Easter Bunny. You blow one, and all of a sudden the reality of the others is shot too.

So, this post is written with timeliness. Twice now, my son has asked, "Is Santa real?" this week. The first time was followed up with, "because Savannah at school says he's not" (evil child...). The second time, with all the kids including cousins in the car was followed up with, "because Traig doesn't think so either". So, when we got home, I pulled the boys into the bathroom and had a secret chat with them. I explained they could believe what they felt was true in their hearts, but not to ruin the fun for the girls. They agreed. Late last night as we drove to our annual Christmas snow laden retreat for a week (I can't even begin to tell you how happy I am right now...) - we chatted with Brayden all about St. Nick - how and why he gave out presents, the spirit of Santa and such. (Mikayla was asleep). Bless his heart, Brayden simply said, "When I grow up, I want to be Santa to others every day." I guess if the innocence is going to be lost, this is the best you could possibly hope for. (A far cry from what Michele and I went through - I should have added that year to our Christmas Calamities list!).

Here's a picture of our Sunriver crew taken last year (minus Michael, he'll get here tonight...) Looking forward to a lot of fun new pics this year-

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Nothing Screams Christmas Like an MRI

Presents purchased and wrapped - check
Cookies baked and delivered - check
Advent devotions read faithfully to the kids - check
Spinal MRI done - check......

It just doesn't really fit in, does it? But, that's how life works. Today I got to experience my first MRI - and join the ranks of the rest of my family for high cost, high technology film work to be done. I wasn't at all aprehensive - I'm not claustrophobic and frankly the idea of being still for 45 minutes was kind of exciting. I only "swallowed" once, the MRI folks gave me huge praise (and guessed my weight a good 15 pounds less than reality - thanks for the Christmas gift!), and the experience felt like a little bit tighter and less warm - and a lot louder - tanning bed.

Most of you know the reason behind the MRI. I've been diagnosed with both a herniated disc and then degenerative disc disease in my neck over the last 5 years (in laymen's terms, it means the padding between my discs is deteriorating - a kind of arthritis). Since the accident I was involved in year and a half ago, the pain and headache occurences have been about 4 times worse (based on frequency). So, I was adviced to get a real good look at what was going on before the claim is settled. My MRI is the least concerning of the ones my family has experienced.

By timeline - here's the reasons for their radiology visits:

January 2000 - We're in Honolulu as our family of 3 for John's work. Things were just not what we wanted them to be, we were not pleased with the company paid for hotel and the feel of Honolulu vs. Maui. (In other words, we were acting like spoiled brats). Everything changed on that first Sunday when Brayden (at nine months) "checked out" with his eyes and tongue twittering and him not focussing. We tried to dismuss the first experience, but by the time the second happened fifteen minutes later we were panicked - trying to get to a doctor as soon as we could. It happened twice again - the last time in front of the clinic daughter and they sent us to an incredible Women's and Children's hospital. It was there that he received Cat Scans, MRI's, MRA's, EKG's, and an EEG. He had had seizures, that was for certain but what had caused them was a great mystery. A brain tumor? - unfortunately, my first heart breaking conclusion, but fortunately the first thing to be eliminated with the Cat Scan. Epilepsy? - we didn't know if we should pray for that, as it is a terrible conclusion, but better than others. Meningitis? - the spinal tap eliminated that. A hole in his heart? - no, that looked great. How about a stroke....and yes, our nine month old boy had indeed suffered a minor stroke. Future tests eliminated any pre-disposition for it to repeat itself - and I think Brayden is as healthy as it gets. What an amazing experience to have been through - and to be able to praise God indefinitely for.

February 2002 - Mikayla is 2 months old and all of a sudden we notice her right cheek looks quite a bit larger than her left. We went to the doctor unconcerned, but he had no answers. Neither did the facial specialist. Before we knew it, Mikayla had had x-Rays and an MRI to determine what the mass was beneath her cheek. Was it benign? Was it muscle cancer? Folks weren't sure even after the tests had been done, so we were sent to the biggest hospital in the state. The surgeons were eager to cut her open and investigate - the only way they could be sure. Of course, this would involve cutting her entire cheek open and potentially damaging nerves that would forever affect her smile..... but if it was cancer....... The case was going to be reviewed by another doctor and I remember being in the car when I received the call that the doctor was adament against doing surgery - and simply wanted to follow up every few years. I guess she's due for that follow up MRI this year, but at this stage in the game, the mass is completely unnoticable. We'll perhaps never know why, but we're thankful for the results.

May 2004 - This story is still so new, I'm sure everyone knows it. John got his chance for special radiology when he was admitted to the hospital for a blood clot. The ultrasound showed one was lodged in his calf, but Cat Scans also showed a lung full of blood clots. Long story short, he had a terrible case of pnuemonia, and only one small clot in his lung. Combine that with his jaw being wired shut, looking like Hannibal Lector, it was not an easy time. We honestly thought we might be losing him that night - it makes me tear up to write about it.

God is good - that's all I can say right now.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Two Close Calls

On Friday, our activity on our Countdown Calendar was to watch "Polar Express". So, knowing the cousins were coming to visit, we hauled in Brayden and Mikayla's mattresses into the living room and made a huge slumber party nest. It was cozy. During the movie, Nati made an announcement, "I've lost my tooth!". Indeed, she had managed to wiggle out her first loose tooth. (Ironically, Brayden lost his first tooth a couple of weeks ago - I swear, those two are somehow twins, born a year apart and to different moms, but twins nonetheless!). So, the movie was interrupted for awhile with rapt discussion as to how the Tooth Fairy would find Nati away from her home and how much money she should expect.

Fast forward to the next morning. The kids start rousing, then suddenly, they remember the surprise they expect to find under Nati's pillow. As Michele is lying two feet away, asleep on the couch, the kids open the envelope and I think to myself across the room, "Surely, Michele has already taken care of this...". The final envelope is opened (Nati wrapped it in two) and she finds.... her tooth... Just as she starts to express her dismay, Michele bolts upright and with shocked eyes and husky voice comes up with a reason the Tooth Fairy must have been delayed. Bless their hearts, the kids all had a different theory as to how this could happen ("maybe there were so many kids she didn't want to leave it out here because one of us might have found it first!") Michele then suggested they hide it again in a safe place and see if the tooth fairy would find it after Nati secretly whispered the location aloud. What do you know, but it was discovered the Tooth Fairy had arrived an hour later with a note apologizing for the delay, "but Nati, everytime I tried to take the tooth, you stirred, so I didn't want to risk you seeing me". Clever, Michele. Crisis averted, Nati was pleased as punch.

Then, later yesterday, Michele was working on Letters from Santa based on letters the kids had supposedly sent to Santa. She was cautioning me on being discreet (when I mistakenly nearly had Mikayla re-sign her name - Michele scolded me that the kids believed these had already been sent, oops!). Then, as Michele had nearly finished her task, Nati bounds in and says, "What are you doing with those, Mom?" Ever quick on her feet, Michele said, "Oh Nati, I really need to get these sent to Santa, huh? Can you help remind me?" "Sure, Mom" was her response - and she obliviously goes on her way. Whew #2 for the day!

Can you imagine how Michele would do as a spy? Good thing for our country that she's just a teacher....

Friday, December 09, 2005

A Series of Christmas Calamities

When it comes to horses, I have no fear. I have been raised with them around, and I feel very comfortable with them. This is a bit surprising when one considers what they have done to me over the years. I have a scar right by my jugular vein from where a horse bit me (she just wanted to eat, and I wanted to brush her....), a different horse that I was riding behind my dad slipped on a mountainside - my dad hopped off, but the horse and I rolled over together three times down the hillside, but it wasn't her fault. I've also been stepped on, bucked off, and kicked in the rear end - and those times, it was their faults! But, I don't hold on to these fears - I figure the worst has happened, and nothing more should concern me.

And, so it is with the Christmas season. What follows are a list of Christmas calamities that have occured in my lifetime with my side of the family. A superstitious person would think we are not destined to have good Chistmases - I don't think that way at all. In fact, Christmas to me, is like an annual vacation that one takes at home and lasts for over a month - and I think my kids are picking up on that too which brings me tremendous joy. But, this is quite a list - and I can't help but hope that it is done.

1973 or 1974 - directly prior to Christmas, my Grandfather Doug sustained a brain aneurism. It's a miracle he survived.

1975 - while dealing with 3 year old twins, a brand new house her and my dad built, and the stress of the season, my mom's body stopped working. On Christmas day she was admitted to the hospital where she spent over a month. She ended up having 2/3 of her stomach removed to combat a type of Chrohn's disease.

1977 or 1978 - my grandma Diane was very sick with cancer and died right after Christmas

1978 - I came down with Chicken Pox on the last day of school before break (I remember asking the school nurse about the itchy red spot). While I suffered through Christmas, the rest of the class got an extended break due to the incubation period hitting them later (including Michele).

1982 - The dog my dad and mom had gotten right after they were married had to be put down (by my dad....) on Christmas morning.

1987 or so - While burning the pizza boxes from our traditional Christmas Eve dinner with Grandpa and Grandma, they started a flu fire. Dad had hoses going towards the chimney, the fire dept. was called - but, fortunately, there was no damage.

2001 - My Grandpa suffered his second major stroke that we knew would take his life on Dec. 22nd. He took his final breath on Christmas Day.

2002 - Exactly 51 weeks after the absolute love of her life went to Heaven, my Grandma joined Grandpa after a blood clot in her leg led to a heart attack during the recovery after the succesful surgery.

I know everyone has their sad stories. Ours just seem to frequently happen in December! I'm so glad I can trust that God is in control and we don't live a life based on fate, coincidence or superstition. With that being said, let's continue to celebrate!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Build a Bear

First of all, incredible party, Susan. Your house is amazing - I love how cozy and inviting it is. And, the kids are thrilled with the haul I brought home!

Yesterday I got to spend the day up north celebrating Lisa's daughter's birthday at Build a Bear. It was a lot of fun, and I have to admit, there were a few ulterior motives I had regarding hitting stores not down here, the outlets, and the decor of the mall. I didn't end up getting home until 8:30pm. (Good thing I wasn't the one responsible for bringing the guests home!).

Mikayla ended up picking out an Angel outfit for her bear - who is now named "Angel Allie". She's really sweet. While I was there, I saw a Seattle Seahawks outfit and new instantly I had to get it for Brayden. He had previously asked why he hadn't ever been able to go, and I knew it would be a huge hit as that has become his favorite team. I'm not sure why, although I think he's taken a liking to Washington thanks in part to Hollie's family moving there. I figured he'd be thrilled, but that was an understatement when I brought it out of the bag. He was ecstatic. He slept with the guy and wanted to call his best friend at 7 this morning to tell him about it. Tonight, he just figured out that his "bear" is really a Golden Retriever - now he's even more in love with his stuffed buddy. There's such an innocence about the whole thing - it just warms my heart. I snapped pictures of them both asleep with there buddies this morning....

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Biting Off More than You Can Chew

The other day, my neice Nati came into the living room clearly uncomfortable and holding her mouth. Her dad happened to notice her, and before we knew it, she had managed to dislodge the food in her throat and spew it on the floor. Apparently, she had decided to eat some jerkey, and had bitten off more than she could chew.

That concept got me thinking about how often I do that in a figurative sense. Particularly during the holiday season. One year, we decided to go on a trip to Leavenworth the weekend of Thanksgiving. Mikayla was young and the trip was long, but our company was enjoyable despite some obvious disappointments with lack of snow. That same year, my Grandma passed away the week prior to Christmas (I'm going to devote a whole blog about the calamaties our family (my parents) have experienced during Christmas - it really is wild that I am so in love with this season despite so many heartaches...). When Christmas day arrived, I remember just feeling relieved I had gotten through it, and glad to be able to consider I'd have a fresh start the following year. Of course, sometimes we can't control what happens around us, but often the Christmas season involves a lot of choices we do make, and perhaps it's good to ask what benefit they really have in their lives. For us, that was the year we decided there would be no traveling prior to Christmas except for the trip we take with friends to Sunriver. It just took too much out of us. Sunriver, on the other hand, is the 6 days prior to Christmas where everything has already been done, and it's time to just soak it all in. Aahhh, I can't wait.

As I'm writing this, I'm doing a self-evaluation of how well I'm avoiding "choking" this year. So far, so good. I know I choose to do a lot, but with a lot of prior planning and preparation, it's been predominately very fun - even the 5:30 am runs to Walmart to prepare for a Gingerbread party for Mikayla! Best wishes in your pursuit for the ideal holiday season for you and your family.....

Here are some pictures of our tea - obviously, Ellie really digged the hot cocoa-

Here are pics of Mikayla's 4 year old Gingerbread party - with a tea and gingerbread house making. It was a lot of fun.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Our Annual Bowling Bash

This is the second year in a row our Bible Study has chosen to celebrate the season by bowling. It may not be the traditional holiday adventure, but it's a hit. Lisa's daughter was so excited she took the alarm clock into the bathroom with her so that she wouldn't miss when the big hand hit the 7 - the designated time they told her they would be leaving to go "balling" (as she calls it). When we arrived at the alley, it was crowded, and it took a lot of time to get our lanes, shoes, and games paid for. We were wondering if it was all worth it, as many of the adults were feeling pretty worn out - but as soon as we got to our lanes, the fun definitely began. The little boys had a lane, the little girls, and then the big girls and boys.... We were all criss-crossing back and forth keeping the toddlers out of the way and helping the kids throw the ball. Brayden managed to sabotage one of Stephie's throws by throwing his ball all the way across his lane and into the gutter of the womens' lane during her turn. (Actually, I set him up to it, as I was in the lead and Steph was starting to get her groove.... (just kidding!)) Certainly, the kids had a blast, and so did I. I scored the second highest out of everyone at a whopping 115. Clearly, we're all on the way to the pros league!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

I Love You Dad!

Today is my dad's 58th birthday. I am so proud to be his daughter. John is honored to be his "son in law', and be able to call him Dad. And, as you'll read below, Brayden and Mikayla absolutely cherish any time they get with Grandpa.

There are many stories that Dad has told of experiences he's had in his life that should have left him dead long ago. These stories leave goosebumps on my skin whenever he repeats them. He should have drowned in a canal, been paralyzed in a ravine, or died in a free fall from a mountain climb, but God wanted him to be alive to be my dad, and I am so thankful....

My dad is:
filled with wisdom, but never comes across condescending
extremely talented, but so humble
very strong, but definitely not afraid to show me his tears
capable of an infinite amount of love for all of us, but never smothering
one of my biggest cheerleaders in life, but never the one I felt I had to impress
a man of tremendous integrity
a guy who defies any male stereotype about "not-communicating" (it's a good thing I married John...)
a great fisherman and hunter, but we're still waiting for more proof....
a tremedous husband and partner to my mom
and my friend - and I now how rare that is.....


And, here's some comments from the kiddos....

Brayden thinks Grandpa is so special because:
"He helps me try to hit a pop can with a bb gun (sorry mom!)"
"He shares his stuff with me"
"He shows me he loves me by the way he plays with me"

Mikayla thinks Grandpa is so special because:
"He plays with us"
"He reads stories to us"
"He spins me around"

Advent Wreath

This is for Carly's behalf. Here's the Wreath we came up with using the tree limbs from our back yard and perhaps $6 in merchandise from Michael's. Today I started a really good Family Devotional with the kids - and hopefully I'll be able to actually follow through until Christmas.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Show Me the Fever!

Brayden has had a bit of a cough lately - and has been quite tired. I talked to him last night that there might be a chance of staying home if it didn't improve. Big mistake. He woke up tired and cranky and 5 minutes before we were to leave for school he talked me into staying home.

I had some plans for the day, but nothing that had to be changed because he stayed home. So, off we went to meet John to sign something, go to WinCo for gingerbread house candy for Mikayla's upcoming party and Bello to repair the damage Mikayla did this weekend to her hair with scissors. (her face is now "framed" with layers....). I am realizing just how lucky I am to have just Mikayla to run errands with because my experiences with an additonal kid along (Brayden - or cousin Nati yesterday) have sent my blood pressure soaring. (This is a medical fact, as I went to see a doctor immediately following my trip to Target with Nati and Mikayla and it was very high.... it could also have to do with the very painful headache I had at the time...). These are some of the comments that were repeatedly uttered from my mouth at various volume levels that make me so proud of my ability to be a good mom....

"If you had been listening, this wouldn't have happend!"
"It's not all about you!"
"That's enough!"
"I've had it with this behavior"
"Seriously kids, I'm about to cry, please stop."
"You are part of a family, I'd like you to start acting like it."

Needless to say, it wasn't an ideal day. Added to this list were also these phrases:

"I love you guys so much"
"Are we all better now?"
"Thank you so much..."
"You guys are doing a fantastic job together"

The negatives outweighed the positives today, but even after a serious discipline consequence with Brayden, he assured me he was still happy he stayed home. I, on the other hand, will need to see a temperature above 100 degrees the next time he tells me he "has to stay home" - Or, maybe not. Maybe the look in his eyes, the ideal of a happier day together, and the notion that he won't be 6 forever will have me saying "OK" again........

Monday, November 28, 2005

Bogey the Beagle

I am pleased to publicly announce the arrival of Travie and Stephie's newest arrival - Bogey the Beagle. As the pictures indicate, he's absolutely ADORABLE. While Sydney is probably close to 30 pounds now, Bogey is just about 6 pounds. It's funny, that just like having a baby, adopting a puppy brings about fast moving changes. I find myself saying, "Oh, I remember that stage, it'll pass quickly, don't worry...". Right now, Bogey plays hard and sleeps hard - he's only about 8 weeks old. But, despite this age and despite his size, he has no hesitation in holding his own with our Sydney. They play, and play, and play - with this fierce bark coming from this tiny little dog as he'll grab on to Sydney's ear or nip at the underside of her belly seeking to take any advantage he can in this "David vs. Goliath" match-up. It's so entertaining. Of course, Travie and Stephie are incredible parents- what a great life this little dog will have! Congratulations!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

An Entertaining Holiday

We had a couple of really funny moments these days surrounding Thanksgiving and the Day After. Here's my attempts at describing them:

--During Thanksgiving breakfast with my parents, sister's family, and our family we asked Mikayla to do the prayer as she had learned a cute song during pre-school that they sing to give grace prior to having snack. It was adorable, and we thought we might let her do it again and join in during the dinner meal prayer.

However, Brayden had different plans prior to dinner and asked if he could pray. We said ok and what follows was his dialogue with God as we tried desperately hard to not laugh out loud.

"Dear Jesus, I don't really have a prayer for you, and this song isn't really about you, I can't really remember the words, but here goes: (singing) 'Over the River and through the woods to Grandmother's house we go. The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh'... and that's all I know, Amen"

--Very early Friday morning, Mom met us at my house to take off for store #2 in our shopping marathon. As it is tradition, Michele and I were preparing to have our pumpkin pie breakfast. Michele asked Mom if she'd had her pie already and this was her reply:

(Laughing) "Well, last night I took an Ambien. When I woke up this morning, I discovered the pie plate from the pumpkin pie empty in the bathroom. Apparently, I'd polished off the last 3 pieces and took a bath. I have no memory of this happening. So, yes, I've already had my pie for the morning......"

--Finally, last night, Sydney had done something minor that had alarmed John. His initial "off the cuff" response was "Oh crap, dog" (which is about as nasty as John's vocabulary gets these days)... Without missing a beat, Mikayla scolded Sydney as she ran off by saying, "Oh crap, Dog!" I guess you had to be here, but it had us in stitches!

Hope your holiday had it's own share of special and entertaining moments!!

(Here's some pics of Thanksgiving day including 3 generations of women in the kitchen, 2 little girls interested in taking over Grandpa's job, and one thrilled "Traig" awaiting Thanksgiving dinner!)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Images of the Day Before Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is such a special holiday because there is still so much promise ahead. I definitely feel the let-down after Christmas, but with Thanksgiving... it's just the beginning of the fun. Today has been a wonderful Thanksgiving Eve Day- surprise gifts given, surprise gifts received, family around, a PRECIOUS Harvest Program with Mikayla's pre-school, and lots of food preparation with Michele and the kids. Here are a couple of pictures - I especially like Sydney's efforts in helping to bake!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Almost The Most Wonderful Day of the Year

This is one of my favorite cards - I hope it comes up clear enough to understand...

What follows are the "ingredients" to a successful all-day super shopping spree for myself, my sister and my mom. Perhaps they might serve helpful to you, but no matter how you spend your Thanksgiving and "Day After" holiday - I hope it's wonderful!

1. Prepare accordingly. Scour ads the night before and prioritize your shopping trip based on opening times and priority items. Wake up early as needed....
2. If one must torture their body to wake up at such an uncomfortable hour - pamper it with last night's dessert. Have gladwear containers, plastic cuttlery and Reddi-Whip available to eat on the way to your first destination. As needed, aim Reddi-Whip directly into mouth.
3. Take cell phones with you - and take them into each store - turned on.... (can you tell we've had problems with this in the past?)
4. The first one succesful in finding their prize items within a store should then volunteer to stand in line. Shopping can be continued by the other two - but at least the first has reserved a place in line.
5. When choosing a line, consider the pharmacy, customer service and jewelry counters. In Target and Shopko, always stay to the aisles to the left (as you are facing the check-outs). We've seen the lines to the right all merge into one - with only a couple check-outs to accommodate them. It's sad...
6. Make a point to secretly share the good fortune of a well-chosen line with one merry shopper stuck in a bad line. It feels good.
7. Plan for a caffeine infusion at about 9-10:00. It will be necessary.
8. Plan for protein of some sort to offset the caffeine and sugar you've previously poisoned your body with as needed.
9. Bring a calculator to sort out who owes what for who took the bill for each store... for us, it requires a major in calculus.
10. Save all receipts, it may be necessary to repeat this kind of day in reverse the day after Christmas!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Beaver and Duck Unite

This moment was captured by my brother-in-law. A little before-the-game bonding between Uncle John and Niece Ellie....too cute.

Laugh Out Loud...

It's rare that something cracks me up so much that I can't even read it aloud without losing it laughing. This was one of those finds, compliments of an email sent to my sister. Hope it makes you laugh like it did me....




Class 1
How To Fill Up The Ice Cube Trays --- Step by Step, with Slide Presentation.
Meets 4 weeks, Monday and Wednesday for 2 hours beginning at 7:00 PM.

Class 2
The Toilet Paper Roll --- Does It Change Itself?
Round Table Discussion.
Meets 2 weeks, Saturday 12:00 for 2 hours.

Class 3
Is It Possible To Urinate Using The Technique Of Lifting The Seat and
Avoiding The Floor, Walls and Nearby Bathtub? --- Group Practice.
Meets 4 weeks, Saturday 10:00 PM for 2 hours.

Class 4
Fundamental Differences Between The Laundry Hamper and The Floor ---
Pictures and Explanatory Graphics.
Meets Saturdays at 2:00 PM for 3 weeks.

Class 5
After Dinner Dishes --- Can They Levitate and Fly Into The Kitchen Sink?
Examples on Video.
Meets 4 weeks, Tuesday and Thursday for 2 hours beginning
at 7:00 PM

Class 6
Loss Of Identity --- Losing The Remote To Your Significant Other.
Help Line Support and Support Groups.
Meets 4 Weeks, Friday and Sunday 7:00 PM

Class 7
Learning How To Find Things --- Starting With Looking In The Right Places
And Not Turning The House Upside Down While Screaming.
Open Forum.
Monday at 8:00 PM, 2 hours.

Class 8
Health Watch --- Bringing Her Flowers Is Not Harmful To Your Health.
Graphics and Audio Tapes.
Three nights; Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 7:00 PM for 2 hours.

Class 9
Real Men Ask For Directions When Lost --- Real Life Testimonials.
Tuesdays at 6:00 PM Location to be determined.

Class 10
Is It Genetically Impossible To Sit Quietly While She Parallel Parks?
Driving Simulations.
4 weeks, Saturday's noon, 2 hours.

Class 11
Learning to Live --- Basic Differences Between Mother and Wife.
Online Classes and role-playing.
Tuesdays at 7:00 PM, location to be determined

Class 12
How to be the Ideal Shopping Companion
Relaxation Exercises, Meditation and Breathing Techniques.
Meets 4 weeks, Tuesday and Thursday for 2 hours beginning at 7:00 PM.

Class 13
How to Fight Cerebral Atrophy --- Remembering Birthdays, Anniversaries and
Other Important Dates and Calling When You're Going To Be Late.
Cerebral Shock Therapy Sessions and Full Lobotomies Offered.
Three nights; Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 7:00 PM for 2 hours.

Class 14
The Stove/Oven --- What It Is and How It Is Used.
Live Demonstration.
Tuesdays at 6:00 PM, location to be determined.
Upon completion of any of the above
diplomas will be issued to the survivors.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Don't Tell Me...

First of all - CONGRATULATIONS Hollie on your new arrival! I imagine you are having so many overwhelming feelings of love and exhaustion right now. Hang in there and have fun!

So, in a past blog, I wrote about spoiling my fun of watching the premiere of LOST by reading a spoiler. It was a bummer, but I got through it and learned my lesson.

Today, I read in the newspaper something that, I will admit, has me tempted. But I'm writing this to you all so that you can hold me accountable to not get sucked in - and to ask in advance that no one give me "spoilers".

One of my absolute favorite days of the year is the DAY AFTER THANKSGIVING. It makes me happy just to think about it. For as long as I can remember, my mom, my sister and I have all joined forces to hit the stores as early as 4:30 am. (Generally, more around 6, though) We have so much fun, spend a ton of money, make more progress every year we do it - and probably value it more and more for the fun that it is each year. I'll dedicate a day to talk about our details later. However, all of this description is an effort to explain how important the day is - and also how important Thanksgiving night is - just to discover what amazing deals there are out there to embrace before dawn.

So, now I'll tie it all together. Tonight I read that some college punk has already accessed those precious store ads and has a website devoted to divulging their secrets. He knows the amazing deals K-Mart and Sears and several other stores have already - and it totally bums me out! What right does he have to access that information and spoil the fun for all of us holiday shopping junkies? So, I've decided to boycott the website. I'm not passionate enough to request anyone else do the same, but, whatever you do, don't tell me what you find out!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Much Anticipated Answers - HA!

I forgot to give my opinion on this movie. Of course, I love it - but it is SHOCKING to watch and realize how cruel it is. Rudolph was teased without mercy and his dad and Santa said awful things to him. They would never get away with making a kid cartoon like that now.... Here are the answers!

1. Who was Rudoph's father?

2. What song did Clarice sing to cheer Rudolph up after being teased by the other reindeer?

3. What was Rudolph's buddy, the elf's name - and why was he a misfit?

4. What was the name of the miner that the misfits found along the way (hint, his last name was Cornelius)?

5. Why were Rudolph and his buddies denied the opportunity to live on the island of misfit toys?

6. As Rudolph grew up, what important lesson did he learn?

7. How did the elf make the snow monster harmless?

8. How did the miner and "the Bumble" survive their fall?

9. What was the Bumble's job when he returned to Christmas town?

10. What was Mrs. Claus repeatedly nagging Santa to do?

Thanks for indulging me - I might just have to do this again with my other holiday favorites...
Also, I found a cool, cozy website hosted by Starbucks. It's Cute stuff - check it out.

Hollie - I'm praying for you - Have fun......

Monday, November 14, 2005


This post is kind of in honor of my friend, Jodi - who astounded me with her knowledge of tv trivia. The irony is that I know I have the tv on so much more in my house, but I guess growing up, at least, she payed a lot more attention to the tv set than I ever did. I think its neat how her and her brother have bonded over their joint knowledge of tv facts.

So, as I watched Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer numerous times this weekend, I thought I'd do my own test. Now, unlike Jodi, these facts don't all come from my head - well, they do, but they were refreshed by watching the show at 9pm last night. Just see how well you know your classic Christmas cartoon facts.....

1. Who was Rudoph's father?
2. What song did Clarice sing to cheer Rudolph up after being teased by the other reindeer?
3. What was Rudolph's buddy, the elf's name - and why was he a misfit?
4. What was the name of the miner that the misfits found along the way (hint, his last name was Cornelius)?
5. Why were Rudolph and his buddies denied the opportunity to live on the island of misfit toys?
6. As Rudolph grew up, what important lesson did he learn?
7. How did the elf make the snow monster harmless?
8. How did the miner and "the Bumble" survive their fall?
9. What was the Bumble's job when he returned to Christmas town?
10. What was Mrs. Claus repeatedly nagging Santa to do?

See how well you do - I'll post answers tomorrow! Have fun....

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Family Pictures

So, yesterday we headed to a local park to take our annual Christmas family picture. The whole experience took about 20 minutes as we were working with one of John's friends who is a very gifted professional photographer, who was on a time budget- not to mention it was very cold. I'm pleased with the initial results, but it wasn't without its little snags.

Right before we began snapping shots, Sydney got loose from her leash and went running towards the Canadian Geese. Fortunately, she didn't come anywhere near the birds, but managed to smear her muzzle and eye in green goose poop! We had towels on hand, but it stained her fur lime green....

Just yesterday, Mikayla asked "Do dogs laugh?" I said, "No", but now I'm wondering.... Sydney must have been cracking up over that....

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Blessings in Disguise

In light of the previous post, I thought I'd ask any readers out there what have been some of your biggest blessings in disguise? In other words, what are some things that you prayed for and wanted with all of your heart one outcome, only to get the other - and later realize how thankful you were for that outcome? Here are some of mine....

1. Dave, Brinton, and Lance- honestly, I didn't see a reason to wake up the next morning when these three gentlemen broke my heart, but oh, I'm so glad they did.....

2. Money put down on a piece of property near Veneta that was to be used to build John and I's dream log home. The deal fell through because we weren't confident with the well water supply.... thank God. What a terrible decision that would have been (especially because John and I no longer dream for a log house!)

3. A valiant last-ditch effort to try to save Riles Audio by convincing an investor to put money into the business. His answer was obviously no - had it been yes, well, I'm glad it wasn't God's plan.

4. More recently, multiple houses we thought were just perfect for us to buy, that didn't end up happening. It just didn't make any sense at the time why those houses weren't meant to be for us, and now, having been living in our house and neighborhood for over a year, I think, why did we try so hard to make those work?

What are some of your stories? And, are there any that are still awaiting a "to be continued....?" (I know I an still waiting for the answer as to why Michael, Michele and family aren't living in Eugene yet.....) I'm eager to hear.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Thank You, Lord

Another Song - I'm deeply moved by songs as I feel that they capture feelings I'm not capable of putting to words. This song was sung at our wedding, and touches me every time I hear it. I'm happy to say I've experienced all of the lyrics myself (except for catching fireflies... though I think I've seen some...). I'll follow up with simple things I've been especially thankful for this weekend...









(Thank you Cindy Morgan for such an incredible song!)

So, here are some things that have stood out to me as reasons to be thankful this weekend.

- a husband who is somebody I very much enjoy - he's my total buddy and attending football games (and jointly deciding to leave half way through) really reminds me of how incredible our friendship is.
- a son, who upon successfully reaching a goal and receiving a reward, chooses a video game that he wants to give to me, because "he doesn't think I have enough" - I love that kid!!!
- a daughter who is a total joy to take shopping or on errands. My first child was the wanderer - not content to sit still or stay close by (yes, we alerted security at JC Penney once, only to find him testing the escalators). My daughter is the opposite and I find myself having so much fun go shopping with my little "girlfriend".
- a close call Duck win, made especially joyful by the trampling that Arizona did over UCLA
- that my mother-in-law, who just flew to Indiana, lives in an area not affected by the tornados
- for medicine that has been mostly effective in curbing painful headaches
- for my parents - more to come on that one, but visiting with my dad yesterday just reminds me how continually thankful I am for both of them
- for special friends who have become family - and enjoy a warm wood fire, KFC, a feisty puppy, Playstation 2, and football as much as we do.

I suppose that's enough - as Cindy Morgan says: How could I ask for more?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

What a Deal!

John and I have realized that going on dates can be very expensive for us. There's the babysitter cost, the food - but worst of all, the shopping. Because, ultimately, we'll always end up some place that involves buying things. We've come to realize it would be cheaper for us to go to a movie - at full price - and indulge at the snack bar, than it would to "save money" by just walking around the mall!

That said, last Thursday John and I did hit the mall, but with the intention of "being good". We walked into Banana Republic (who's starting prices just make me mad.... what are they thinking?) because we had $30 worth of discounts/gift cards. John looked around and then I found a light (summery) jacket for him - on clearance. It was originally $154 (choke...), but discounted all the way down to $11.97. With the $10 gift card, that would be $1.97. I'd say we did good.

So, the next day, I found myself at Dollar Tree for party favors. While there, they announced over the loudspeaker that they just received a shipment of sweaters - Name Brand - and were found on aisle 7 - all for a dollar. I took the bait (no kids, I had the time) - and ended up scrounging through three big bins of sweaters - Abercrombie, Banana Republic, Gap, Eddie Bauer, Anne Taylor Loft, Old Navy - I was shocked! Yes, the sizes and choice of colors weren't all that great - and I'm sure they were a couple of years old - but they were new, and they were a dollar. I walked away with 6 sweaters... (Anne Taylor, Gap....) - one for my neice, one for my sister/Amy (the catfight has yet to take place on who's actually going to get it... and I felt so smug. With that particular sweater, I almost didn't get it - I had to convince myself at the check-out that for the price of a fountain pop, I could go ahead and indulge....

So, I think I scored. Any other awesome deals you feel like sharing stories of?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A Bit of an Addiction

I think there might be an indication that my daughter loves sugar when I asked her today, "What would you like to do after pre-school?" and her response is "Go to Chevron and get candy". We have SO MUCH candy in our house! I can't even think of a candy item there that we don't have.... kind of sad - and even more sad, she takes after her mommy.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween - and Oh, Baby - Am I Exhausted!

Today was a very big day for me. It was a very big day for both of the kids. And, I am so tired.

We bravely attempted to host a little girls party, a little boys party, and for those trick or treating in our neighborhood, a chili feed. With the help of some dear friends and Michele, the parties went really well. Especially the boys.... - watching those little guys dunk their full heads into a tub of water to go for apples was such a sight. This is the time I find myself especially thankful for my childrens' choice of friends. Sensitive, sweet, supportive, encouraging, innocent - I'm just so thankful for this circle of kiddos that have surrounded my kids. I know their friends will change, but for now, I'm feeling really good.

So, tomorrow officially starts the Christmas holiday season for me. Technically, I usually wait until Veterans' Day to pull out the music - and the decorating begins the week of Thanksgiving, but it's all fair game now to think about. In years past, I couldn't wait for this day - this year, I've been so in love with this previous season of fall, I'm sad to see it go. But, only a little.... SO much fun to look forward to....and by the way, in proof of how things are changing, Accuweather shows a possibility of snow by next week - yes, here. Get ready, get set, let's go!

(A little picture commentary: girls - making Halloween sugar cookies, one of Brayden's friends bobbing for an apple, Brayden and Mikayla in costume - Darth Vader and Tinkerbell, and John and Sydney as Darth Vader)

Friday, October 28, 2005

Starbucks "Health" Bars

This is the recipe as I found it when downloading from a sight that supposedly has Starbucks recipes. Do you think they might have got the title wrong?


3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup margarine
1 1/4 cup white sugar
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 T vanilla
3 eggs

In large bowl combine above ingredients.


4 cups flour
Mix well. Then add:

12 oz pkg. Nestle's chocolate chunks
12 oz pkg. Nestle's white chocolate chips
8 Heath bars, coarsely chopped

Mix well and spread batter in greased jelly roll pan (15x9). Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

I haven't tried them yet, I'm sure they're delicious, but could probably be renamed:

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Here We Go Again

I now consider myself the expert of area pumpkin patches. I could tell you which has the best playground, pumpkin selection, the wildest hayrides, the best apples, the scariest mazes and the best educational program. And, I'm happy about that, because it means I've really made the best out of celebrating this harvest time.

After such a tumultuous 2004, I think 2005 has been one of our best year's ever. I recently found a quote from Abraham Lincoln that says, "IN THE END, IT'S NOT THE YEARS IN YOUR LIFE THAT COUNT. IT'S THE LIFE IN YOUR YEARS." I love that! I feel like we have infused a lot of "life" into this year by really embracing any opportunity to "celebrate" - be it Fourth of July or Harvest Time. Essentially, that's the whole purpose of this blog - not to necessarily stimulate, educate, or provide a debate forum, but an opportunity to record our family's history. Sorry, if at times, it becomes tedious and boring.

Or, repetitious - as these are more pictures of a pumpkin patch! This time, it was on a field trip with Brayden - and the time with him was priceless. I really sensed based on his constant proximity and cuddliness that he was on "Cloud Nine" having his Mommy's 100% attention. (Well, not really as I had 5 boys to look after, but that's life on field trips...). What follows are pictures of the catapult they use the hurl and smash pumpkins, Brayden on the "Hayflower" - a hay-bale life-size replica of the Mayflower, Brayden with one of their goats - and finally, a gigantic pumpkin grown by the folks who earned the world record a couple of years ago. It was a great day.