Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A Couple of Questions XIX

I'm having to work on my Roman Numerals.....

1. Any movies you are particularly excited to see this summer?

2. How about something that might surprise people about yourself.....

Off to get Brayden awake, dressed and fed in 16 minutes so he can be at school on time-

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day Weekend

By the List.....

10 adults
10 kids
1 indoor crumbling-tile, hot tub
1 mirror encased beam in the "game room"
2 strobe lights in the game room
1 toilet out of 3 that didn't work
0 dishwashers, by Saturday, that worked
1 emergency room visit
3 stitches to a cut lip (we love you little E. Quigs!)
5 bike rides
11 half-gallons of ice cream purchased
5 half-gallons of ice cream we let the kids indulge upon before leaving
4 boys cuddled up to watch Monster Garage
3 ping pong tournaments
7 races on Gran Turismo
2 versions of "Cheaper by the Dozen" viewed (great movies!)
7 deer sightings
3 nights passing "Zantac" out before we indulged in the evening meal

p.s. - I finally got my camera connection cord back so I added some pics to the "Pump It Up" post....

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A Couple of Questions XVIII

Hope you all have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend. We're heading out of town, where there is no internet access, so it might be a while before I post again.

1. I'll try again - What was your best find at a garage sale? (Leona - I know you have plenty to offer here!)

2. Question, courtesy of Mikayla asking me this the other day after watching "Barbie's the Princess and the Pauper" - What was your favorite wedding present?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Work-Out Woes

Michele forwarded this to me - I thought it was hillarious.....

Dear Diary,
For my fiftieth birthday this year, my wife (the dear) purchased a week of personal training at the local health club for me. Although I am still in great shape since playing on my college football team 30 yrs ago, I decided it would be a good idea to go ahead and give it a try.

Called the club and made my reservation with a personal trainer named Belinda, who identified herself as a 26 yr old aerobics instructor and model for athletic clothing and swim wear. My wife seemed pleased with my enthusiasm to get started! The club encouraged me to keep a diary to chart my progress.

MONDAY: Started my day at 6:00am. Tough to get out of bed, but it was well worth it when I arrived at the health club to find Belinda waiting for me. She was something of a Greek Goddess -- with blonde hair, dancing eyes and a dazzling white smile.

Woo Hoo!!!!!

Belinda gave me a tour and showed me the machines. She took my pulse after 5 minutes on the treadmill. She was alarmed that my pulse was so fast, but I attributed it to standing next to her in her Lycra aerobics outfit. I enjoyed watching the skillful way in which she conducted her aerobics class after my workout today.

Very inspiring, Belinda was encouraging as I did my sit-ups, although my gut was already aching from holding it in the whole time she was around. This is going to be a FANTASTIC week!!

TUESDAY: I drank a whole pot of coffee, but I finally made it out the door. Belinda made me lie on my back and push a heavy iron bar into the air, and then she put weights on it! My legs were a little wobbly on the treadmill, but I made the full mile. Belinda's rewarding smile made it all worthwhile.

I feel GREAT!! It's a whole new life for me.

WEDNESDAY: The only way I can brush my teeth is by laying the toothbrush on the counter and moving my mouth back and forth over it. I believe I have a hernia in both pectorals. Driving was OK as long as I didn't try to steer or stop. I parked on top of a GEO in the club parking lot.

Belinda was impatient with me, insisting that my screams bothered other club members. Her voice is a little too perky for early in the morning and when she scolds, she gets this nasally whine that is VERY annoying. My chest hurt when I got on the treadmill, so Belinda put me on the stair monster. Why would anyone invent a machine to simulate an activity rendered obsolete by elevators? Belinda told me it would help me get in shape and enjoy life. She said some other stuff too, that I don't remember.

THURSDAY: Belinda was waiting for me with her vampire-like teeth exposed as her thin, cruel lips were pulled back in a full snarl. I couldn't help being a half an hour late; it took me that long to tie my shoes.

Belinda took me to work out with dumbbells. When she was not looking, I ran and hid in the men's room.. She sent Lars to find me, then, as punishment, put me on the rowing machine -- which I sank.

FRIDAY: I hate that Belinda more than any human being has ever hated any other human being in the history of the world. Stupid, skinny, anemic little cheerleader. If there were a part of my body I could move without unbearable pain, I would beat her with it!.

Belinda wanted me to work on my triceps. I don't have any triceps. And if you don't want dents in the floor, don't hand me the *&%#(#&**!!@*@ barbells or anything that weighs more than a sandwich.

The treadmill flung me off and I landed on a health and nutrition teacher. Why couldn't it have been someone softer, like the drama coach or the choir director?

SATURDAY: Belinda left a message on my answering machine in her grating, shrilly voice wondering why I did not show up today. Just hearing her made me want to smash the machine with my planner. However, I lacked the strength to even use the TV remote and ended up catching eleven straight hours of the Weather Channel.

SUNDAY: I'm having the Church van pick me up for services today so I can go and thank GOD that this week is over. I will also pray that next year, my wife will choose a gift for me that is fun like a root canal or a vasectomy.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Strawberry Tart Recipe

Don't disregard the garage sale question, but here's the recipe (courtesy of the local newspaper) that was eluded to earlier-

1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. sugar
1 stick butter

8 oz cream cheese at room temp
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. chilled whipping cream
3/4 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 tsp. lemon juice

3 pints halved strawberries

To make the crust, stir flour, salt and sugar together in a bowl. Cut in butter until mixture looks like cornmeal. Press into bottom and sides of casserole pan. Place in freezer for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375. Move crust from freezer to oven and bake for 20 minutes. (rotate as needed)

Meanwhile, beat cream cheese, sugar, and whipping cream until light and smooth. Beat in vanilla and lemon juice.

Cool shell, spread filling evenly over bottom and refridgerate until very firm. (6 hours). This can be done a day ahead.

Decorate with strawberries.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Garage Sales

There are some who regard garage sales with passion, eagerly anticipating the season and scouring the classifieds. That's not me. I'm the sort of person who finds garage sales, in general, too "hit and miss" - not worth the drive to find the place or the discomfort of perusing someone's belongings and walking away empty-handed as if I was too good for their stuff. Now, having been on the opposite end of the cash "tackle box", I never feel that way when people leave without purchasing, but somehow, I still feel bad.

However, once a year, on this particular weekend - a certain "upper middle class" neighborhood hosts a multiple street garage sale within their housing development. Several years ago, I was able to attend and found some great things. Houses upon houses have treasures displayed and people are everywhere. I don't need to drive to find each place, I can simply walk around amidst the masses, never worrying if I offend without buying.

This year, two "gifted" garage salers who happen to be good friends of mine, extended an invitation to attend, "if I could keep up". I have a very fast paced walk and do not linger while shopping, so I said "yes", figuring I could hold my own. And, just for the record, I kept up just fine, thank you very much! I didn't walk away with a trunkload of treasures, but we did find a "trail-a-bike" in great condition for $10 for Michele - less than the price she could rent it to use next weekend in Sunriver. That was a steal. I also scored a few kids' items, and a "Courtney" coat for $10 (which, if you know Courtney, means it was at LEAST 10 times more than that when purchased new).

Sadly, John felt very left out from my adventures this morning, so he decided to hold his own with both kids and do his own garage saling. He found the most useful purchase of the day, a treadmill.... The whole family has already tested it out and found it to meet our approval. Given our newfound Cold Stone Creamery weekly habits, this purchase is a very good thing. (Hence the picture.....)

What is the best purchase you have ever made at a garage sale?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Pump It Up

Today we pulled Brayden out of school early - (oh, the shame....) and headed up north for a joint party for all of the Schilling kids. Since their birthdays are all in May or early June, it's a convenient way to celebrate.

Michele paid for the party to be celebrated at "Pump It Up" - with just a few families involved. It was so cool. There was an inflatable slide, jump hut, another jumping room shaped in a circle with beach balls and a center piece to jump on, and an obstacle course. Parents are encouraged to participate with their kids, and since I hadn't gotten to a work-out today (I've really been trying this week since last year's Memorial Day Weekend Indulgence-Fest pushed me to my highest weight -outside of pregnancy- I better go in to this year's get-away a little more prepared...) - I went in ready to play and play hard. What a blast. I had so much fun being a total kid with my son, playing dodgeball with beach balls and chase - and sliding down the slide with Mikayla. Michele and I even had a psuedo-Survivor challenge to see who could get through the Obstacle Course the quickest (I beat her by a hair, but that's not saying much when my son beat me just a few minutes later!).

If you see a "Pump It Up" franchise pop up in your area - using the place for a kids' party is well-worth it.....I would post an assortment of pictures, but, unfortunately, the camera case and transfer cord are still sitting in a cubby where the shoes go in the jump arena..... Bummer.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A Couple of Questions XVII

1. What are some seasonal foods that you are particularly looking forward to enjoying again this summer?

2. If you walked into a "well-stocked" pet store and had to buy an animal before you left - what would you pick? (that's random, I know...)

I went outside this morning to water my hanging basket - and there is this summer, hot weather smell - aahhh..... I know we're not there yet, it's still May, but it's a beautiful thing!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

This Sure Beats Papa's Pizza

We had the oppotunity to watch Michele's kids this weekend while she and Michael took off overnight to the coast. Outside of the sheer number of 5 children - it really wasn't a big deal. We had plenty to keep us busy. On Saturday night we went to Brayden's last soccer game and then followed it up with a party at the coach's house. That's the reference made in the title. Generally, we celebrate at the local pizza parlor - this time, they opened up their house and we had a bbq/swim party there. Now, I don't really struggle with envy too much, but this home, well let's just say it is amazing. I guess it's good to have a dream...... Clearly, by the pics, the kids had a blast.

Today, was a wonderful day. The local pool opened up that we got a summer membership to and we spent over three hours there. My mom joined us, and little by little many families that we know and consider good friends showed up as well. We've kind of taken the place over which makes it even more of a fun community place. Once again, the kids had a blast - and certainly, even though I'm feeling a little "crispy" - I had a wonderful day too - perhaps one of my favorite Mothers' Day ever.

Hope you all had a terrific weekend too!

Happy Mothers' Day!

(We totally forgot the camera at our Mothers' Day pedicure, so we had to just settle on a great picture of Mom with Mikayla)

We love you so much!
In light of Mother’s Day, we wanted to post a blog in appreciation of your tremendous gifts of motherhood.
Undoubtedly, we have lived our 33 years knowing unconditional, overflowing love from our mom each and every day. We have also known unconditional support, encouragement, and enthusiasm for our paths in life – especially now that we are on our own. As our eyes open wider to the real world with each passing year; as our naivety dwindles as to what many challenges “real families” must suffer and endure, we acknowledge and praise God that we were raised in a family where love was constant. Where chocolate chip cookies were baked for our friends who followed us home after school. Where good grades were appreciated, but more importantly, we were taught that to do our best is the greater value. Where we were reminded countless times that “respect from friends is far more important than popularity”. Where Mom and Dad’s marriage was set apart as priority and divorce was never an option. Where our talents (and sometimes lack there-of ☺) were ALWAYS treasured – it was a rare experience indeed when mom wasn’t in the front row of the cheering section for our latest “favorite” activity. Where Friday night pizza, movies, and ice cream as a family (often with a friend or two invited along) was the norm – even as seniors in high school. Where camping trips, snowmobile excursions, Disneyland experiences, fishing successes and “Farkel family” pick-up adventures were celebrated and made possible with tremendous preparation and hard work. Where holiday traditions were formed and are still repeated annually some 30 years later – now incorporating our children as well. Where mother/daughter giggles surfaced at the craziest times and have only become more frequent with each passing year. Where honor, integrity, loyalty, and compassion were modeled and reinforced. Where family was defined as the greatest testimony of a life well lived.
This Mother’s Day we thank-you – not only for your efforts and grace that made our childhood and youth so incredible, but for the ongoing strength of your character that we still look to as such an exceptional example.
Bless you Mom for all that you are!
We love you so much!
Michele and Stephanie
(a special blog entry authored by Chele)

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Park Pictures

I just posted a very long blog entry regarding imperfections. Then, I just deleted it. Maybe I'll try to work with it another time, but for now, it will stay on hold. In lieu of that and the fact that my last entry was appears to be from MONDAY (even though I posted it on WEDNESDAY), I'll put up some pics of my kids from a few weeks ago at the park.

Monday, May 08, 2006

A Couple of Questions XVI

1. If you could design your dream house (no worries about money), what would be some features that you would be a high priority to you?

2. Mothers' Day plans?

The weather looks to be getting warmer - the rain this last weekend was just enough to make sure I wasn't taking the warm temps and sunshine for granted. (I know I talk a lot about weather, but it really has a huge impact on my attitude on any given day, particularly how I wake up....)

More Mikayla-isms

MIKAYLA: I need to watch that show, what's it called? With the two girls who go to camp?
ME: Parent Trap? (we've watched it a lot recently)
MIKAYLA: Yeah, I need to watch it a lot, you know why?
ME: No, why?
MIKAYLA: So I can learn how to be a twin.

MIKAYLA: (In the middle of watching a movie) I'm going to pray now and then we are going to turn of the tv and be quiet, OK?
ME: (Hardly listening) Sure
MIKAYLA: Prays a very heartfelt prayer, then looks at me and says - Now I am going to say "1,2,3 Quiet" and we're going to be really quiet, OK?
ME: OK (she has my attention now)
MIKAYLA: 1,2,3 QUIET! -long pause- Huh? I don't hear anything! Miss Paula said that if we pray and be really quiet we can hear Jesus talk to us - I don't hear Him talking to me....
ME: Oh honey, sometimes it's more like a feeling than hearing a voice - it's like a hug for your heart
MIKAYLA: Yeah, but Miss Paula said we could HEAR Jesus.
ME: Yes, I know, but sometimes hearing Him is more like feeling Him - do you feel anything special?
MIKAYLA: smiling, but not quite satisfied.... I guess......

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Drive-In

Michele and Michael just happen to live near one of the last remaining Drive In Theaters in Oregon. When we found out that it was featuring Mission Impossible III Friday night - the temptation was too strong to pass up. After a very rushed dinner we set the guys out to save two spots- both of the guys' vehicles. The plan was to have the kids watch a kid-friendly DVD in the player in John's vehicle, while us adults snuggled up in the back of Michael's truck. (The vehicles were within arm length of each other...) The plan actually worked great until the last 30 minutes of the movie in which 4 of the 5 kiddos started bawling because they wanted to be with us. No problem, I'm sure we can fit 8 people up next to us against the cab of the truck. (And, children, you'll need to hide your eyes for a few of these scenes). All but Brayden fell immediately asleep - it was incredibly cozy. That's what family memories are all about.

A few movie reviews:

Mission Impossible 3 - My favorite out of the trilogy, although the first 5 minutes are VERY intense. (What else would you expect?) Tom Cruise, for all of his faults, definitely knows how to pull off the action hero in peril.

Fun with Dick and Jane - We rented this and the next movie, Saturday night. I enjoyed it quite a bit - a good date night movie for John and I. Worth the $3.79 we paid to rent it.

50 First Dates - I know, very vintage, but we'd never watched it. It was a lot deeper than I anticipated. Drew Barrymore's memory loss condition has actually had my mind whirling with how awful that would be. I didn't expect to cry, but I did during the last scene. Then again, it is very much that time of the month.....

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Remarkable Reunions

I first met "Sara" (name changed...) when I substituted for a fifth grade class in a very nice elementary school. It was an organized classroom with a great group of kids, but there was this one that made the job a little more challenging. She was a spunky little redhead with a mega-mischief smile, who loved attention and seemed to crave getting in trouble. It was a long day because of her, and I had to assume the whole year must have been a long one for her teacher.

Fast forward four years (I think - because I think she was an 8th grader...). I was asked to take on an extended substitute postition from January to June in the middle school that I used to attend. In fact, I was asked to take over for a math teacher that used to be mine... He had to leave for health reasons, his blood pressure had soared through the roof. After the first day of seeing his classes, I had no doubt why. The sub notes from various "guest teachers" that those classes had gobbled through were ominous as well...

It was certainly not an easy 5 months for me. There was a lot of high drama in our personal lives (Riles Audio was crumbling) and daily, I struggled with kids who either didn't care about math, or didn't care enough to pay attention so that they could understand. There was one particular class of 8th graders that was very small, but very tough. They definitely fit the first category. On one of the first days, one of the gentlemen in there received a referral for throwing a pencil that ricocheted off the overhead and stabbed me in the hand- he didn't mean to, but...
Among that group was, wouldn't you know, Sara. I don't even know if she remembered me, but one look at that red-headed grin and there was no forgetting her.

I was at a total loss on what to do with her. Her desk was completely set apart from everyone else because she seemed incapable of not completely distracting anyone she was near. If I sent her out in the hall, I could not be guaranteed she'd stay there, and sure as anything, I'd be making a lot of enemies with other teachers if I stuck her in there. Plus, she was supposed to be learning about math. Despite my best efforts, she earned a string of referrals - I didn't want to, but you had to do something about the absolutely inappropriate stunts (and four letter words). Not that it meant a whole lot, but I think, deep down, we both liked each other, but I could not figure out how to get through to her- especially within the realms of a 45 minute math period.

By the following September I had a permanent position in the middle school - teaching math, pe, ESL, science, and health (sex ed). Sara had moved on to inhabit another teacher's classroom and left a lasting curiosity mixed with sadness as to what would be her fate. She was a very intelligent girl and it bothered me greatly to consider how, more than likely, that would be lost through the choices she made.

So - back to the present. Yesterday, Mikayla and I were at JC Penney purchasing some shoes. At the counter a polite redhead smiles at me and says "Hi". It took a moment to make the connection, but it snapped and I said Hi back. I was actually putting some items on hold, so I knew I'd return to the counter, with perhaps an opportunity to make sure it was truly Sara that I was seeing. When I returned, I saw her nametag and made a "positive id". This was our dialogue:

Me: So how are you doing these days?
Her: Big grin, really good!
Me: If I remember correctly, you were a bit of a handful when you were my student - are you still up to trouble?
Her: No, I've changed a lot - I go to church now.
Me: (increasingly surprised...) Really, what church do you go to?
Her: Crossfire (an Evangelical church aimed at youth) - Yeah, and Lord willing, I think I might have figured out what I want to do with my life. I've been in Bible College for three years, and I think I want to be a pre-school teacher.
Me: (Chills running through me) That is so great, this is my daughter, Mikayla - she's four.
Her: Major enthusiastic greeting to Mikayla.
Me: Wow, I'm so excited for you - so, what got you to church?
Her: (Sheepish) Well, I was actually under House Arrest and that was the only place I could leave to go to.
Me: (Blinking back tears) Wow, what an amazing testimony you have - Praise God!
Her: Yes, what a blessing.
Me: You're going to make me cry - God Bless!

I couldn't leave the store without tears running down my eyes - and couldn't get through the subsequent conversations with John and Michele either. I'm so thankful GOd allowed me that glimpse into the changed life of His creation - what a miracle.

Alright - completely changing the tone, ironically, yesterday I ran into another former student that I had the year following Sara. This was our conversation.

Me: (Walking out into a parking lot with Michele in Salem)
Him: Mrs. Riley - Hey, Mrs. Riley!
Me: (Completely confused because, in Salem, I'm used to being mistaken for Michele -and I didn't immediately recognize him) So, how do I know you?
Him: You taught me sex ed in 7th grade!
Me: (Still not thinking straight, but trying to match the mood of this fun-loving 21 year old walking into Applebees with a group of buddies) So, how's that been working for you? (Like I said, the first thing that popped out of my mouth...)
Him: (Turning red with a huge grin) Um, pretty good - but, by looking at you... it seems like you've figured it out! (referring to the group of 5 kids between Michele and I)
Me: Laughing and blushing, well, yeah, just remember I am married!

Not sure I handled that conversation so well, but apparently I must have made some impact- Too funny!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Must See TV

Has anyone else heard about the ABC special they are airing on Monday for a full 2 hours to see if this "David Blane" dude can hold his breath for 9 minutes? Wow, I can't wait to spend 2 hours for a 9 minute stunt - and wait, that would be if I cared! Maybe I'm sounding cynical..... Don't want to discourage anyone else from tuning in!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Tres de Mayo

Today I got to be an assistant pre-school teacher for Mikayla's class' two-day premature celebration of Cinco de Mayo. It was a fun time with quesadillas, pinatas, and pin-the-tail on the donkey. Once again, I give praise to "Miss Paula" who tackles the nearly three hours with three year olds every day - and does such an amazing job at it. (Despite the fun, I kept looking at the clock wondering "how much longer?"). Do any of you do anything special to honor Cinco de Mayo?

Monday, May 01, 2006

A Couple of Questions XV

Today I spent over three hours edging, weeding and mowing. Let me tell you, a novice edger working with a power machine - next to sidewalk, is not the most inviting sound in the neighborhood.....

1. What's something you've discovered about yourself within the last year, that has surprised you?

2. How about a crazy thing that you did in high school.....

Sydney has her first day of dog training tonight, hope we don't get a call from the principal for bad behavior....