Thursday, September 29, 2005

Every Season

I love seasons. I love that Oregon is spectacular in its transitions and how obvious the differences are with each time of year (except for last Jan/Feb - that was just funky..... it really messed with my "Seasonal Affective Disorder'!) I really love this time of year, but each season holds such special promise and uniqueness it's hard to pick a favorite. I also love considering the symbolism behind the seasons which is why this is one of my absolute favorite songs... "Every Season" by Nicole Nordeman. I love how it describes the different transitions of a person's life and how God has a plan for each of these times. I have friends in every season right now - and can certainly indicate being in each of these seasons within the last year and a half. What season would you say you are at right now? After quite a 2004 settled in "winter" - and eventually spring - 2005 has been a summer for us. May I never take that for granted.

every evening sky, an invitation to trace the pattern stars
and early in july, celebration for freedom that is ours
and i notice You in childrens' games
in those who watched them from the shade
every drop of sun is full of fun and wonder
You are summer

and even when the trees, have just surrendered to the harvest time
forfeiting their leaves in late september
and sending us inside, still i notice You when change begins
and i am braced for colder winds
i will offer thanks, for what has been and what's to come
You are autumn

and everything in time, and under heaven finally falls asleep
wrapped in blankets white, all creation shivers underneath
and still i notice You, when branches crack and in my breath on frosted glass
even now in death, You open doors for life to enter
You are winter

and everything thats new, has bravely surfaced
teaching us to breathe
what was frozen through, is newly purposed
turning all things green, so it is with You
and how You make me new, with every season's change
and so it will be, as You are recreating me
summer, autumn, winter, spring

Friday, September 23, 2005


I love my friendships. I don't think I've ever been in a place where I've been more appreciative of the different people in my life that daily encourage me and make me smile - and the diversity among them. I love how friendships overlap, and how there are joint places in common you perhaps only have with one of them. Here are some of those commonalities that demonstrate high values in my life, that I'm thankful these wonderful people share:

- love for Russian Tea
- love for Lost, Threshold, Extreme Home Makeover, Alias, Supernanny, Amazing Race, and Survivor
- love for all things cozy: including wood fires, magazines and good books, and lots of comfort food
- love for food - especially that which includes sugar
- love for 44 ounces of pop from Chevron
- love for surfing the web, with no where in particular to go (and I love those who provide a destination with their blogs)
- love for clothes - not high end, just new stuff that makes you happy to get up in the morning
- love for our husbands- in all their perfections, and lack ofs
- love for quirky, flighty, 6 and 1/2 year old boys... that just love to make you laugh
- love for high drama pre-school girls.... that just love your company and attention
- love for snow, Sunriver, and the Christmas season which in my book, lasts 3 months
- love for Playstation2 games to played with little boys (Stephietoo- you're the only name I could come up with!!)
- love for football- and weekends consumed with the sport
- love for a reading the newspaper every day
- love for family, with all of their idiosyncrisies
- love for the LORD - and an ultimate desire to have Him reign higher than any of these other loves.....

Monday, September 19, 2005

This Is Our Life Now

I was going to write a whole post devoted to why I love college football weekends so much, but my first efforts couldn't even give it justice. I'll keep working it out in my head - needless to say, these are some of the best days of the year for me.

However, as great as they are - they are also some of the busiest. I saw this is Friday's paper and thought it fit. I was about to spill out our schedule for the week, but thought better of it as it might incriminate me for being either too involved, or not involved enough. Balance for all of us, moms, kids, dads - is a very hard thing to achieve. We're very sensitive to it as we really value our evenings at home with or without our close friends at our side. But, there are so many great things out there that lead us to believe that if we don't take part, our lives or the lives of our kids will be "cheated". Here's to stamina and good decisions!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Now Why Did I Go and Do That?

Have you ever been in the process of doing something and realized, "I shouldn't be saying/doing/reading this....I need to stop now...." but the sin overcomes you and you do it anyway- only with severe regret eminent.

That has happened to me on multiple occassions - often with quite dire consequences. I remember, this time of year, 5 years ago when I was suffering from delayed onset post-partum physical and emotional symptoms. These symptoms led me to the doctor to have him run blood tests as I was really struggling to feel "normal" and not tired and bombarded with all sorts of funky problems. (In hindsight, perhaps the 24 ounces of milk I was able to pump in one setting - that apparently my son was able to consume in earnest, might have been sapping my body just a little......). Anyway, when the doctor mentioned a few very unlikely diseases, such as lupus, leukemia, and rheumatoid arthritis, I just about died right there. That afternoon, I was at Barnes and Noble and started looking such things up in the medical dictionary. I knew I shouldn't, but I did anyway. I literally began sweating, recognizing the symptoms to leukemia matched my current symptoms to a T. Add to the whole scenario, I was quite the chronic worrier.... it was BAD news for me. I cried a lot that week, and was so praising God in wonder when the doctor FINALLY called back and said I didn't even test positive for anemia. I knew I should have never read that book, but I couldn't stop myself.

So, last night - a similar situation occurred, however, this time the consequences only affect my entertainment satisfaction. I, and many of my closest friends, are AVID "Lost" fans. Lisa and I have been talking daily about "what's in the hatch" and what the heck the answer to all of the riddles are. WHAT'S IN THE HATCH CAN BE DESCRIBED BY TWO WORDS - ONE IS A THREE LETTER WORD, WITH THE FIRST AND LAST LETTER NEXT TO EACH OTHER IN THE ALPHABET. THE OTHER WORD IS SEVEN LETTERS BEGINNING AND ENDING WITH THE SAME LETTER. So, as I've fallen asleep over the last couple of weeks, I've been consumed with trying to figure out at least the first's some of my attempts:

FOG - I hope we haven't been waiting all this time for a weather machine....
FOE - Safe to say there is probably an enemy of some sort, but that's too obvious
ELF - Say it aint so.... Lisa and I agreed we'd probably stop tuning in if it turns out the hatch is the entrance to the North Pole where you'll find toy factories and maybe the big man himself (however, that could explain the polar bear...)

So, I didn't get very far. Then, yesterday, I logged on to a LOST fan bulletin board, planning on just reading a few others' attempts at deciphering clues. Before I knew it, I had linked to a site that pretty much spelled out the ENTIRE first episode - revealing what was in the hatch and why he knew for a fact that this was legitimate information. I couldn't stop myself from reading, though I knew I should. The episode sounded fantastic, but as Lisa suggested (who, on her own, had found the very same information), it was like finding your hidden Christmas presents a week early and opening them by yourself. It wasn't meant to be that way, but it's my own darn fault. I'll watch next Wednesday with interest, of course, but it will be like watching a football game in which you already know the outcome and the score... just not the same.

And, I did it to myself. Why couldn't I just stop reading......

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Funny Dialogues

This Morning.....

MIKAYLA: Ooh something smells BAD!
BRAYDEN: It wasn't me...
ME: It wasn't me....
MIKAYLA: Maybe it was Sierra
ME: Honey, Sierra's not here remember??
MIKAYLA: Yeah, but maybe she's tooting in Heaven
BOTH KIDS, LOOKING UP: Thanks a lot, Sierra!

This Afternoon, upon receiving a packet of stuff for Disneyland from Fed-Ex.

ME: Yeah, I'm so excited!
ME: Oh, no honey - it's just the tickets and stuff.....
(For a moment there, I think her dreams were dashed....)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

We're Expecting!

To anyone who knows me really well - that comment should be shocking. We're pretty sure the children component of the family is satisfied. However, with the passing of Sierra - the dog component of the family is certainly lacking. When I saw an ad in the paper for puppies born on August 20th - available October 8th (the weekend we return from Disneyland) - I thought the timing couldn't be more perfect. We want to give ourselves a little sentimental time to remember Sierra - and didn't want to ship a new puppy to Grandpa and Grandma's while we were on vacation. Furthermore, when we called the number, John and I felt so good about the family that is selling her and her 9 brothers and sisters.

So, Sunday night - in typical Riley spontaneous fashion, we hopped in the car and drove to Reedsport to pick out "Sydney". Literally, she found us, we both felt like she was exactly the dog for our family.

If there's ever been a motivating factor to leave the "happiest place on earth", I think our family has found it. John plans on driving straight through from Portland after our plane lands to pick up the newest member of the Riley family. To say he's a little smitten (as we all are) is a serious understatement! We can't wait!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Happy Birthday Lisa!

I just can't say enough good things about my dear friend Lisa. She is an amazing woman who has been dealt a hand of adversity this year, but in typical Lisa fashion has emerged with a smile, stronger, and a heart deeper with faith. She is a constant in my life and I love her laugh, willingness to listen to me ramble hours on end, and likemindedness on so many issues. We've actually never clashed - and I admire the way she's able to subtly "direct me" by saying things like, "You know I'm your biggest fan, but have you ever thought about maybe looking at it this way....." And if there's a suggestion - you can bet it's intuitive and full of wisdom. I am so thankful for her unconditional love for me and my family. Thank you for being such an incredible friend to me, Lisa - HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

I found my "happy place"

Yesterday was one of those days where I knew a reward was coming, but several hoops needed to be jumped through before it could be attained. The reward was a never-tried-before body service at a local spa....but first several things had to occur.....

1. Brayden needed to be dropped off and walked into his first grade classroom to deliver the hand written apology letter to his new first grade teacher. After the first day, I asked (after several searching questions) "Did you get in trouble". Sheepishly, he said "yeah" and proceeded to tell me that he, and the boy I had purposely warned him about making only good choices with, were too loud during free time and had to put their heads down. Nice, Brayden, way to go with first impressions. So, he had to write "DEAR MR. DEESE, I AM VERY SORRY I WAS TOO LOUD DURING FREE TIME. I WILL TRY HARDER NEXT TIME. BRAYDEN". It took a century to get it done, but it was very well received - and we are especially thankful for a wonderful first grade teacher. (as a post script - day 2 provided only positive reports...) Check that one off as successful.

2. Mikayla needed to have her pre-school orientation. It took us all of 15 minutes as Brayden had had this teacher and went to the same school so we knew the routine. Check that one off as successful.

3. We needed to meet and orient a brand new babysitter to 5 children. She came highly recommended - a elem. ed major. She walked in, blonde hair, bright blue eyes, cuter than any football cheerleader - with a huge sweet smile - and there was no doubt that this could be checked off as HIGHLY successful. (Post script - it went great, she left with a calendar of all future dates we might need her for our Bible study).

FINALLY - with Michele in tow- we were off to the spa to cash in our birthday presents - her headed to a hot stone massage and me to my "remineralizing body wrap". Half way through the service when I was cocooned in a heat producing blanket, with this wonderful gel "re-energizing" my body" and the therapist said - "Would it be okay if I gave you a face massage"? Would it be okay - I wanted to cry! OF COURSE!!! After a week of Brayden starting first grade, my dog dying and non-stop migraines - it was so blissful and perfect..... I found my "happy place"!!!!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Good-bye Sierra...

It's ironically tragic that last blog's entry mentioned our dog. Tonight, she's finally at peace. She's been hurting a lot lately, and we've done our best to keep her comfortable... but the thoughts have lingered hard and heavy at what point we'll have to intercede. Tonight, when she began seriously limping, John and I agreed it was time. The vets at the pet hospital all agreed, and she fell asleep for good with her head nestled between her paws, hurting no more.

Sierra, esentially adopted us. Seven years ago, we were given the opportunity to move into my grandparents' rental and before moving in, decided to check the place out. The current tenants showed us around, and abruptly warned us about the fierce looking "wolf-dog" in the garage that really wouldn't hurt a fly. They explained that they guessed she was about 7, and believed her mom was all wolf - and her dad was australian shepherd/husky. She had crystal blue eyes, and looked like a wolf - quite pretty....but not at all what I would have had in mind for a dog for our family. However, the tenants couldn't take her on to their next place of residence, and before I knew it, John had volunteered to take her. I shot him a look that said, "Did I miss something?, Have we talked about this?" And the look back from him said, "Oh please....". At that moment, Sierra seemed to sense it was me she had to convince and proceeded to follow me around making sure her little head was near my hand to be pet wherever I went. That night, we made it official and Sierra became a Riley.

We had so many good memories with her. She came before the kids, so she was our first child, in a way. We loved to get her to howl (certainly the wolf was evident then), and she kept me wonderful company in the days John traveled a lot. She may not hurt anyone, but a stranger wouldn't know that. One winter day, John and I took her to the snow and delighted in watching her run and run and run in the snow, lapping at it - as a wild wolf would. When the kids came, we realized just how great of a dog she truly was as she patiently endured anything and everything their existence meant for her. Less attention, tugging at her hair, less patience with her antics.... but lucky for her, lots more treats with all the things the kids left behind (oh, how she loved treats.....!).

When John took her to the vet tonight, the kids were stoic - their faces sad. I told them it was okay to cry and they both began to bawl - it hit them hard too. We've all loved her so much. We'll miss you Sierra.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Family Reviews

I thought it would be kind of fun to let the family be involved in the blog - so here are some reviews on things the family's been a part of this last week.

Steph's Review: Ice Princess - We watched this Disney chick flick Friday afternoon and I have to say, I loved it. Sweet, innocent, subtly romantic and a great theme - it's the sort of movie I'd love to be able to watch with my daughter as she grows up.

John's Review: AJ Golf Instructional Videos - These were bought over a year ago to help John's golf game and recently he pulled them out. "Between this video and listening to Mike Whitty, I can't believe how dramatically my game has improved!"

Brayden's Review: Playstation 2 Lego Star Wars - Rated E: We recently purchased this for my son, nephew Traig, and their buddy, Andrew to play. Here's what they have to say about it: "It's fun, I like fighting Darth Mall and Count Dookoo" - Brayden "I like the doing the first level and the second - you get to fight bad guys and race and stuff" - Traig. I think they'd give it two thumbs up.

Mikayla's Review: Go Diego, Go - Mikayla can't wait for this to premiere, as she watched the "pilot episode" last week. Here's what she has to say about the clever sequel to "Dora the Explorer": "It is fun, Diego plays with his friends. I love 'Go, Diego, Go"" - Mikayla Erica, Mikayla's friend, reports "I love it!" And, finally, Nati, my neice says, "I loved it and I can't wait to watch it again!"

Sierra's Review: Our very old, and very stiff Husky/Australian Shepherd would be happy to report that the "skin scraps" from Costco's Rotissierre Chicken are "out of this world".

Thursday, September 01, 2005

September 1st Review

September has begun - and with it, my unofficial end to summer. I'm not sad - I love fall, but I think I can safely say this has been my favorite summer in a long time, if not ever. Here are my top 10 experiences, in random order.

1. Dancing with our kids at the Dallas Drive In movie theater. We were waiting the hour or so for "Madagascar" to show, and killed time dancing to Garth Brooks favorites. The sun was setting, I was with my best friends and it was early in the summer with so much promise ahead.

2. 3 Generations of men going fishing together - and actually finding success! My dad told my mom, "It was the kind of day I could only dream of". Of course, the little boys had a blast too.

3. Playing backyard tennis with my sister, her hubby and my hubby - followed up by children literally bouncing off the walls in excitement over fireworks being set off. As the sun finally set, the dads helped light the pyromaniac's arsenal as we sat in lawn chairs with blankies on the sidewalk with our waterfall behind us.

4. Jet skiing at Cultus Lake with my son in front of me and my nephew squeezing my waist - thinking I was the greatest person in the world as we raced across the water.

5. Preparing blueberry buttermilk pancakes in Hot Springs campground at East Lake. I wait all year for those - they come out only when camping and are always prepared for at least ten people. As John manned the Starbucks coffee machine for all of our tentsight guests - life couldn't get much better.

6. Our 33rd birthday - shared with my twin sis - a great movie with lots of buttered popcorn and candy, a brand new haircut, color and style, a 55 minute pedicure and Red Robin - a woman wouldn't mind aging if she could score that every year.

7. An overniter at Buckhorn Mountain Lodge with just my hubby. That's enough details for this rated G blog.

8. Watching my son swim the length of the pool - without help and by himself - after two weeks of swim lessons - YEAH!

9. 5 women atop my bed - praying, crying, and laughing for 2 hours - and within weeks seeing God's miraculous answers unfold.

10. Ducks 38, Houston 24 - one of the reasons I don't mind saying good-bye to summer.......