Sunday, April 30, 2006

Relaxing Weekend

Because John had a business meeting in Bend, we were able to spend our anniversary weekend in Sunriver for 50% off. What a deal. We brought the Whites and Schillings along to a new house to rent for us - not at all disappointed. While we there we discovered a few things:

1. It is possible to ride a tandem bike with a child who can't ride a bike without training wheels. They just need to balance their feet up above. (Good job, Nati!)

2. Brayden is showing surprising talent as a football quarterback. We were astounded with his dead-on spiral passes - that flew quite a distance. Whoda thunk?

3. A hot tub at 25 degrees at 5:30 am - is still a beautiful thing (especially when the sky is so blue).

4. It was possible to access wireless internet, only if, you sat against the headboard of the bed, in the back bedroom - Thanks, Sunriver neighbors!

Can't get enough of this beautiful weather - however, if you get a chance - check out the accuweather forecast for the city in which I live - for the 15 day stretch. Snow for next week? You've got to be kidding!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Saved the Best for Last

There’s been this little skip to my step this last week with this knowledge of something that only one other person can celebrate with me. Thursday, April 27th, the celebration happens – and John and I can rejoice that we have been married for ten years.

I remember so vividly coming back from our honeymoon, just as giddy as we could be with each other. When people would see us, they would congratulate us then give us that condescending smile, as if to say – “Ah, newlyweds – you just wait, and reality will hit”. John and I so wanted to just have a few months under our belt so people would stop acting that way.

Now, we have ten years under our belt – and worshiping with him at church on Sunday – clutching his arm, singing together, I can say we are closer than we’ve ever been. To the folks who gave us those condescending looks, - you don’t know anything!

In honor of this special day, I pulled out a very old journal and thought I would share with you some of my feelings towards this man before we even started dating. Just to give you a frame of reference, Lance and I had officially called off our engagement on October 31st, 1994 –

December 4, 1994
“Lord, you know the crush I’ve developed for John Riley – what a silly word for silly feelings, but, he is definitely on my mind. What encourages me most is his first love for You and how evident that is – Lord, I want to get to know him more, spend time with him, become his good friend. Father, I pray that he initiates a friendship – and any other desires or hopes can be met or sought through You.”

March 4, 1995
“Oh Lord, You know all of the thoughts and desires [about John] that have crossed my mind lately- and I confess – they are certainly not confined to friendship…..though that’s what I’m having everyone believe. Instead, my mind is racing ahead to a hopeful time when John would reveal his true feelings about me – and I could finally admit all that I have been dreaming about. Those thoughts certainly make me grin as only a dream come true could, but once again – this dream may never unfold…..”

I was going to spill forth more entries, but I thought they just might put you to sleep…. I get a kick out of them and have thoroughly enjoyed sharing all of my pre-dating secret feelings to John this week, but for you, I’ll try to make the long story short… The first entry was followed by many others praising him, then, followed by a depressing account of how he and one of my best friends started dating. The second entry was one of many encouraging entries following their break-up in which I consider our eventual relationship practically a “sure thing” – Only to be followed with more depressing accounts when “Tiffany” came into his life and they started dating. They broke up – John and I became super close friends again – and then one magical night, (July 19, 1995) – John finally WOKE UP and realized “he’d saved the best for last”*

There’s been no looking back for us. We both wanted marriage so bad – and had that “best friendship” going into it, the struggles for us have been shockingly minimal. Everybody’s story is different – I figure, John and I had three broken engagements between us to practice and then finally get it right. In response to my March 4th entry – Yes, it truly has been a dream come true…..

* That is the title of the Vanessa Williams song that just happened to be a huge hit at the time we were “becoming friends”. How many nights did I listen to this verse and wonder if it could ever happen to me…..?

“All of the nights you came to me, when some silly girl had set you free. You wondered how you’d make it through, I wondered what was wrong with you? Because how could you give your love to someone else, but share your dreams with me? Sometimes the very thing we’re looking for, is the one thing we can’t see….. But now, we’re standing face to face, isn’t this world a crazy place? Just when I thought our chance had passed, you’ve gone and saved the best for last.”

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Couple of Questions XIV

I've decided that I really like the spring too. If I can make it to March 21st - life is good. It's January to March I have the problems with...... Thanks for everybody's input to encourage me to embrace spring......

1. What is your opinion/strategy regarding childrens' allowance? No right or wrong answer, just looking for input.

2. What is a tool/product that you have found within the last year that you wonder how you ever lived without it?

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Oh What a Day!

I've decided that days that exceed seventy degrees in April where we live are like a good food reward challenge in the show of Survivor. We who live here are so sunshine/warm temperature deprived at this time of the year that when a truly wonderful day comes, like today was, it brings about a giddiness that is almost unparalleled. In the same way, a starving "Survivor" will go a little nutty just considering a piece of pizza and a soda. For us, days like today in July, August or September - they're nice, but a little expected. Just as pizza and soda are nice, but nothing all that special for ordinary people.

Today was marvelous. Brayden slept in until 10:15 - perhaps a record and tremendously needed. We got a few things done in the morning, dropped our Sydney off for a day of play at Koda's and headed to church. It was a fantastic service with some of my favorite worship songs. Upon returning home, sandwhiches were made and we headed off to Brayden's soccer game - in which he did really well. We're really proud how he's "coming along", showing a lot more hussle and desire to play the game.

After the game, we stopped at a gas station and I sat there with the sun roof open, radiating sunshine heat on my face - oh, the bliss. We then took naps and the kids begged for a bike ride when we woke up. So, we just returned from over an hour and a half of riding, Brayden on his own bike, Mikayla on the "Tag-a-long" attached to the back of mine. It was a long ride - I'm pretty impressed with the kids. Unfortunately, tomorrow's a school day - that means there'll be no sleeping in for us again. Oh well, if the sunshine is out like it was today, I think we'll find reasons to smile no matter what the schedule brings!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Carnival Chaos, Guinea Pigs, and Monopolizing the Cake Walk

So tonite we hit Brayden's elementary school carnival. There were 15 of us trying to hit all the high points of the carnival - the silent auction, the "Hawaiian Time" dinner, and yes, the Cake Walk. What do you know, there were 15 spots on the ground - and exactly enough of us to cover them. A guarantee to walk away with two "baked good treats" to indulge on after the carnival. We've got that mastered.

My good friend, Amy, also walked away with "Black Beauty", a beautiful guinea pig. I know I'm much more excited than she is - it's not exactly what she had in mind. I'll be happy to babysit anytime, she is a cutie.

And, her son walked away with a "ring pop" - and kindly shared with my little neice, Ellie. Adorable......

Thursday, April 20, 2006


Sydney has had playdates all this week with Koda the lab, Bogey the beagle and even a visit to see Belle the other golden retriever. They run, and play, and run and play some more - and what is interesting to note, is that the beagle runs the show when it comes to who gets to eat and when. This tiny little dog has got a lab cowering away..... I told Steph I didn't know if she should feel proud or ashamed of her "little baby". At any rate, the dogs are exhausted by the time the evening comes, as evidenced by Sydney's posture.....

Spring Concert

Here are some very poor pictures taken from John's camera phone at Mikayla's pre-school Spring Concert. My friend and I were bummed that we didn't have our cameras as we watched our two girls sing their little hearts out. As their teacher said, "Who knew there was a second verse to Itsy Bitsy Spider - and that he actually reaches the spout?" Well, he does. It's so crazy watching Mikayla perform in contrast to Brayden when he was in pre-school. Brayden was the unfocussed fidgeter, more concerned with having fun than singing - Mikayla is the prim and proper, glued to her position on the stage singer, taking it oh so seriously. We've delighted watching her turn into the "Mother Hen" seeking to take care of everyone and make sure everyone is in their right place....

On a side note, haven't the last two days been glorious in this neck of the woods? Oh, how I love the sunshine!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A Couple of Questions XIII

1. What's one thing you are really looking forward to in May?

2. What's your favorite kind of pizza and where do you most like to get it?

Kind of lame questions - I'm running low on inspiration this morning! Have a great week!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Why I Do This

I figure people create blogs and add posts to them for about as many reasons as people write books. Some desire to demonstrate creative expression, others seek to share opinions, some seek to create fellowship - as for me, mostly I do this as an attempt to preserve history for my family. Here's some other benefits I've found in keeping a blog.

1. As before mentioned, it helps me keep a written record of the life and times in our family. I'm a big fanatic about preserving history (you should see the daytimers through the years of every day recording events), but admit I've been terrible in recording events in baby books, etc. I'm way behind in my scrapbooking too. At least, now, when I get around to those things, I have something I can refer to.

2. This is a means of keeping extended family up to date and in the know about how everyone's doing and what we are up to. Hence, all the pictures. John's mom spends half the year in Indiana - so I know it's important to her to actually get a glimpse of what the kids were up to on Easter (at least I think so!). Likewise with my parents, sister, etc.

3. It gives me something to think about when I'm lying in bed trying to go to sleep.....

4. I find myself taking more pictures to capture special moments with the thought that it would "make a good post".

5. It's just plain fun for me - especially when I'm able to get the interaction of readers.

So, there you go, no grand agenda - but when I see all the pics of our family and boring details, I thought I'd let you know why.... Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Weekend

Here's some pictures of Saturday's Easter service (arriving 45 minutes early, hence the coloring on the chairs), the indoor Easter egg hunt and a WONDERFUL afternoon spent just hanging out with Grandpa and Grandma. A perfect Easter weekend.....

Friday, April 14, 2006

Black, Red, and White

I love to read. Not as much as some people I know, but give me a really good book, a great storyline, and I can become lost. I'll dream about it, obsess over it, and find myself applying it to my daily experiences. Another admission: I love fantasy and (gasp) science fiction. (Yes, call me nerdy - and no, that doesn't automatically make me a "Trekky"). I've thought a lot about why and here is what I've come up with - I love "solving the puzzles" on my own. Meaning, if there's a parallel or application the author is trying to communicate using a made-up world or fantasy situations, I love discovering it. This will come as no shocker to those who know me well, but I don't really love being told what to do or what I've done wrong. However, I am very attentive to people's stories/testimonies and how those might relate to my life and what I can learn from it. John's become an expert at this in how he "backdoor confronts" me, not directly, but in such a way that I might make changes on my own accord and recognize where I've gone wrong in the past. You can bet, when it comes to sermons - I perk up right away as soon as a story is being told and remember it so much longer than I do the "bullet points".

Perhaps my perspective isn't alone, because it seems to me, that much of how Jesus communicated in the Gospel was through stories. He spoke so that if you were interested and cared, you would dig deep enough to get the point. Otherwise, it was just a good story.

This brings me to three of my favorite books of all time - BLACK, RED, and WHITE all written by Ted Dekker. Yes, they lie in the fanasty fiction genre of books, but they are so much more. The books cover two different worlds, one, about a man trying to shield the world from a terrorist plot, the other, a make-believe world with all sorts of parallels to the essence of Christianity. Not the "cultural Christians" that have obscured the message so much that people would have a hard time recognizing it. No, Ted Dekker weaves a tale that speaks of a Creator who is so in love with his creation that the land is known as "The Great Romance". He describes a man so in need of "answers" that he makes a mistake that threatens his entire people - and the deceiver who we all know is wrong, but somehow becomes so enticing that the strongest of characters falls for his lies. In book two, the most "un-orthodox" character that comes out of no where, teaches the most "visibly righteous" what love is really supposed to be - and even the reader finds themselves shocked when somehow "the bad guys" deserve redemption.

I love these books, because someone who has no interest in a spiritual message can still enjoy the story immensely, and certainly not feel at all preached to. But, more importantly, I love these books because they strip The "Message" down to what it's all supposed to be: A loving Creator, a choice made by man (and woman) that broke His heart, a world that is lost because of that choice, a sacrifice made by the only One who could make the world right again - and from the world's perspective, the most unusual choice of savior (how dare he extend love to the unlovely?) - and the beautiful joy of that original relationship the Creator made - restored......

These books were read "straight through" for me - they were released three months apart and I couldn't wait for the concluding book, but when it was done - I mourned the loss that there would be no more. They are engaging, haunting, gripping - I guarantee you won't forget the storyline..... Maybe, it's time to pick them up again.....

Have a blessed Easter everyone......

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A Couple of Questions XII

Still haven't figured out our Easter plans.... probably ought to get on that.....

1. Describe the longest stretch you ever went without sleep....

2. What was the last movie you saw in a theater, and would you recommend it?

Missing Our Kids

Originally John and I have been known to say, "Yes, 4 days is just about the perfect amount of time to take a trip away from the kids".... No longer. The quote would now be, "18 hours is just about all we need to be away from our kids". It will be several years before we go longer than that because every thought from yesterday morning on was, "How do we get home to our kids even sooner?" Can we change flights? Can we shave 10 minutes off of our airport time by having me retrieve the car and pay for parking while John waits for the luggage when we get home? And, when we did get home last night at 10:30 pm, it was ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY to rouse both of our children from REM sleep just to hold them and try to get some expression of recognition and happiness that Mommy and Daddy were finally home. (Mikayla ended up crying for 10 minutes....nice Mom).

And, then, lo and behold, this morning comes, and my children awake - and they are SO PERFECT. Yes, all of the frustration of willful children/out-of-control mom that occurred the Friday before we left was long gone. My son was so sweet, polite, endearing even at 7 in the morning. There was no arguing between them at all - I know the honeymoon will be short-lived, but how rewarding to return to!

So, despite all the pangings to see the kids, the singing over the cell phone in a public mall to comfort my daughter, and the crying during movie previews when it showed a scene of a child growing up too fast - we did have a FANTASTIC time. Too much food, too much spending, too much sun, too little exercise - but isn't that what vacations are all about? As expected, we loved our time hanging out with Travis and Stephie - overall, the trip exceeded even my lofty expectations.

A big thanks to all who made our get-away possible. Thanks substitute-mommy Aunt Chele, Lisa, Mike, Nancy, the Meyers for everyone covering our duties. The trip was wonderful, but it's so good to be back.....

(view at the pool)

(part of the eating too much at a restaurant in downtown Palm Springs)

(John and I at TGIFridays)

(the view from the balcony of our room)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Seven Years Ago

Once Michele gave birth to Traig, John and I were goners. We had to figure out how to make one of those babies too. It took a little practice, but somehow we got the hang of it. In fact, the first time we uttered, "do we really need birth control tonight?" - simply the question alone got us pregnant. I remember, two days prior to my birthday feeling so irritable, I had to take the test just to make sure nothing was wrong. (I planned on waiting for my birthday). So, at 2am, John and I discovered we were to be parents.

My pregnancy was actually very smooth. I gained weight accordingly, felt the baby move at the right times, had severe heartburn, but faced no other concern until the Triplescreen test. It was then that we found out our chances of having a child with Down Syndrome were 1 in 112. Those are pretty good odds in our favor, until you sit in a football stadium with 50,000 people and realize how many would be born with that condition...... It was hard. I insisted that I have a mirror available during delivery so that I wouldn't be the last to know if indeed something wasn't right with our firstborn....

The days flew by, but not fast enough. I was teaching at the time, and decided at one point that I'd put in enough time, if he came early it would be okay. But, he made no move, so I lasted until spring break, when my maternity leave was set to begin. Spring break came and went. So did Easter - and my mom's birthday, the day AFTER he was due. Still, no sign, other than a day or 2 of Braxton Hicks - but they all went away.

My doctor seemed to be in no hurry, which was unfortunate, because I was - I couldn't wait to meet our son. Finally, on April 5th, my doctor decided to induce me (10 days past the due date). Then, the pain began, and the progression was almost non-existent. If anyone ever tells you that the more painful the contraction, the more you dilate (to eventually get to that magic 10 cm.), I can attest, they are wrong. We waddled through the halls, tried the bath, leaned on the bedpost - and finally I remember just laying in agony on the bed. By the time dawn arrived, they decided to give me that drug that "takes the edge off" (I can't remember the name) - it just seemed to do the opposite. I requested no one talk, it took away from my concentration - and watched my mom cry because she knew I was hurting so bad. I think I was at 5 cm.

Michele, bless her heart, pulled John aside and encouraged John to encourage me to take the Intrethecal (similar to an Epidural, but only numbs the interior organs). She knew I was really trying to go without, and needed to hear John tell me it was okay to "take the drugs". I said "yes" - the anesthesiologist arrived, and after waiting out a contraction, "gave me the drugs".

Oh, what a transformation. Instantly NO MORE PAIN (he actually gave me a little too much, I couldn't even feel the pressure of the contractions....). I sat up, greeted my guests, put on make-up and did my hair. We laughed, read the parents' material and my body rapidly decided to cooperate. I progressed fast, and with the help of the monitor, figured out how to push my "little man" out in a half hour. (Not bad for a 9 and 1/2 pound baby who was facing the wrong direction, hence the "back labor"). The next day I figured out just how big his head was compared to normal (15 inches), so I guess that says a lot about my doctor that it went so smooth.

Upon seeing Brayden, tears were shed and John went to his knees beside me in praise over God's perfection embodied in our precious, innocent baby boy. We were in awe and yes, we still are.....

Seven years ago, this all happened. Unbelievable how time flies. We continue to find new reasons to fall in love with our "little man" and are so proud of him. Do we still think he's perfect? Well, let's be honest - none of us are. But, he's perfectly who God made him to be, and we are so blessed to be his mom and dad. HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRAYDEN!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

A Couple of Questions XI

If every day of spring was like today - I could definitely find myself falling in love with this season! According to the weather forecast, it's not looking promising, but the colors, the smells, the cut grass - it's glorious today.

1. What are your Easter plans? If you don't like that question - feel free to describe a wonderful Easter of the past.....

2. What is your favorite chain restaurant, and what do you most often order there?

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Celebrating Brayden's 7th

Today we celebrated Brayden and Cameron's 7th and 6th birthdays at a local pool. Cameron's mom and myself had never actually been to the pool, but the price and the security of being private and having a lifeguard on duty secured the deal. With that in mind, I was a little nervous walking into today's event. A co-party, an unknown location, lots of boys....need I say more.

I'm happy to say it went off without a hitch! The private pool was so great - they supplied water toys and the kids went to town playing dodgeball and "surfing" on the flat mats. The place supplied a room as well - just the perfect amount of time to feed some very worn out kids (post swimming), eat some cake, and open presents.

Phew, it's over - 8 more months until I need to plan another one of these......