Saturday, September 29, 2007

Game Day

Todays game was so emotionally exhausting. It sounds very silly if you are not a bigtime sports fan, but the cost of emotionally investing in a game can be incredibly taxing. The last quarter of todays game had you ready to give up and just let go, only to believe we could be back in it again - at least three different times. The way it ended, with us 4 yards from tieing it up and 16 seconds left was truly heartbreaking. Oh well, we sure gave it a run- and one can certainly say that this seasons Ducks sure have heart.

I need to devote an entire post to our Autzen Stadium neighbors. Some unbelievable situations today that had me writing my post in my mind as they were occurring. I also spent some time thinking that these are the sorts of people that we are called to love........let me just say that there are some tough people to love sitting right above us.

So, instead of lamenting on the game, or venting about nasty people, I will post a bunch of pictures of our long day at Autzen - beginning at 8 am when we showed up to watch ESPNs GAME DAY-

Here is our family on our way to GAME DAY, stopping for a photo shoot with the guy that drives the Duck Mascot onto the field (when the Duck is not being suspended for beating up the Houston Cougar) on his Harley. His name is Doug Koke and is a business friend of Johns

Views of Game Day - with Chris Fowler, Lee Corso (who did don the Duck Head at the end of the show), and the man titled `my boyfriend` to many women I know, Kirk Herbstreit. Isnt that crowd amazing!

A dream opportunity for Mikayla - getting her picture taken with the cheerleaders (John deserves the credit for making this happen while Travis gets kudos for manueuvering us past security to get behind the stage for primo viewing)

This is Brayden throwing a football at Safeways Tailgating Tent - a big production that they do

Finally, while waiting for Mom and Dad to pick up the kids prior to the game, there was a little bit of two on two that took place.....

Friday, September 28, 2007

Another Tear Jerker

If you are in the mood to get sentimental and teary eyed - go to this link,item,3415185493.aspx

It is Steven Curtis Chapman performing the song CINDERELLA that I referred to a couple of months ago.

Here are the chorus lyrics, just for the sake of seeing them-

So I dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
Cuz I know something the prince never knew

So I dance with Cinderella
I don`t want to miss even one song
Cuz all too soon the clock will strike midnight
and she`ll be gone.........

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A Couple of Questions 85

Currently watching ARE YOU SMARTER THAN A FIFTH GRADER, hence the first question-

1. If you had to go on the show, which subject would you choose to answer (no matter what grade level), and which would you totally try to avoid...........

2. What is something very crazy that you look back on and think - WHAT WAS I THINKING! - in your life..........

On a side note, I got my hair cut yesterday (considerably cut - think Katie Holmes....) and my son told me that he likes it `okay, maybe wear it like that one more day and then go back` - well, that will be kind of tough (especially the rate that my hair grows!) - perhaps by next summer he will be happy with my hair again. I love that my son cares, even if he isnt always happy with my choices- =)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Another Deep Post

I am going to have to pull out some really funny questions for this week (any suggestions anyone......) because I have had some heavy posts lately. But, I saw this link on the Testosterhome blog (just love that one....) and felt the need to share it with you. As I wrote my comment to add to the hundreds they already have, it struck me that blogs such as these demonstrate the spiritual victories that have been achieved with the internet - a place where the Enemy has undoubtedly won so many battles. Link to this blog at your own risk - it is the story of a family whose baby just turned a week old, diagnosed with Trisomy 13. It sure has inspired me to love on my family that much more.......

Compliments of Stephietoo.......

Directly from an email she sent me- (Oh, how I relate!!!!)

The following song, Broken Yoke’s “Steal From You” really touched me in a way that no song has ever touched me before. Sure, songs may make me cry, laugh, rock out in my car; but this song made me sob all the way home from work. The lyrics tell it all; how we push God away when things are good in our lives. We cry out to him when we are hurting and beg him to help take the pain away and to guide us. Then, when things are looking up again, we push Him off to the side, only to be used for another “low” day. We basically ‘steal’ from God. I have pasted the lyrics below for you.

Steal From You

I didn’t want to

But I chose to be this way

But things are better now

And so I’m pushing you away

Cause everything is copasetic

In this state I found

The bills are paid, my life is great

I’ll see you when I’m down


I know I’m hanging by a thread

I grow closer to the edge

I need you to fill this space

I keep pushing you aside

Till I need you to save my life

I steal from you

Elevate me

Cause I think I’m coming down

Consecrate me

Cause I’m spinning round and round

Once again I play the victim

As I hit my knees

So desperately I call on you

In this game of hide and seek


Can you help me

Make me real

(I steal from you)

Can you help me

Make me real

(I steal from you)

Take away this guilt I feel

(I steal from you)

Can you help me

Make me real

Chorus x2

Monday, September 24, 2007


This was forwarded to me yesterday and I thought it merited passing on...... I especially relate to the last paragraph, oh, how I need to remember to stop doing the things to make life seem perfect and simply enjoy the moments of celebration with my kiddos..........

I'm invisible.

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?" Obviously not. No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, "What time is it?" I'm a satellite guide to answer, "What number is the Disney Channel?" I'm a car to order, "Right around 5:30, please."

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England . Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style
dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a hair clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, "I brought you this." It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe . I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: "To Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees."

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it." And the workman replied, "Because God sees."

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great
cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become."

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, "My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table." That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, "You're gonna love it there."

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel,not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Great Job, MOM

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Happenings This Weekend~

I feel a little out of it as it feels like its been a while since I have posted. Maybe it is because, outside of using the computer as an escape during the depressing half-time of yesterdays game, my computer and I have not spent a lot of time together this weekend - which usually means I have been very busy. That is the case for this weekend, - here is what it included-

- three soccer games for Brayden (and two goals scored by my boy - I am so proud!)
- watching police and Childrens Services, as well as one of my best friends, get involved with a ballistic mom (stranger) at the park next to the soccer game today, a mom that was watched grabbing and chasing and kicking her child, and whose child, after being watched by Amy for a time while Mom was being interviewed by Childrens Services, grabbed Amys shirt upon having to leave and said - `please dont leave me` - now, if that wont haunt Amy for the next month or so, I dont know what will........
- an impromptu bar-b-q with pumpkin pies, twice baked potato casserole and other yummies at our house for the game Saturday night
- Brayden initiating a 2 on 2 football game in the road in front of our house with Daddy, Travis, and Dennis - and Erica, Mikayla, and Adam all acting as cheerleaders

- the excitement of listening to the Ducks pull through with a victory, despite a terrible second quarter
- feeling the buzz in the air of Eugene at the prospect of ESPNs GameDay possibly coming to Autzen this next Saturday for our showdown with #6 California
- a very rare, and unexpectedly successful, family nap time for exactly the one hour we had between running errands and having to leave for the soccer game this afternoon
- the fun embarassment of missing a step at the house where we were invited over for dinner with a mix of old and new friends and thus dumping my meal all over the floor and chipping the plate (good news - plate was plastic and not worth much and it was outside)
- haning out with Leona much of the weekend, and enjoying her company
- the kids beginning Childrens Choir tonite that will conclude December 2nd in a Christmas performance. Mikayla enjoyed it, Brayden gave it a big thumbs down - bummer for him, he WILL be participating (fortunately, all of his buddies` moms are taking the same stance)
- John enjoying three breakfasts on Saturday - the first at Starbucks while the family slept in, the second when his wife made him try her new recipe (a coconut coated-raspberry topped french toast - I will have a recipe post on that one) and the third, an impromptu date with his buddy, Steve Smith at the Glenwood.

All a bunch of stuff that is in no way, life-altering or all that exciting, but it all seems like a lot when I list it out. I think I have about two hours blocked off in the morning where it will be just me and the laundry. I gotta say, right now, that sounds kind of fun.............

Friday, September 21, 2007

Some Observations of My Kiddos

So, Im sitting here with Brayden, having woken him up early, doing exactly what his teacher told us NOT to do with him last night. Making him do his homework amidst tears. Now, before you think Im some nasty mommy, let me point out that he is re-doing a sheet in which he simply copies a poem in his best handwriting. What he did before was NOT his best handwriting and that is a huge weakness for Brayden. Also, he forgot to bring home his notebook on Wednesday, and because of that, he had to do it all last night (and again, this morning, because we forgot about this sheet last night). Hes done crying now, has admitted defeat and we are laughing - so, it is all good. But, this is life with Brayden. Constant repeating of directions, forgetfullness, and fun silliness, too.

Yesterday, I was cracking up as I went to pick up Brayden and his buddy, Tanner (Nancys son), from school for a playdate. I see Tanner walk out of the building and then immediately turn around to go back in. Okay, Ill catch him when he comes back out. I finally find Brayden, then see Tanner again and explain hes coming home with me. He admits hes lost his coat, and knowing just how infuriating this sort of thing can be with a kid, tell him to go look for it again - we have time. Tanner then comes back again, unsuccessful. This time, Brayden decides to help him look. Then, I lose both boys, somewhere in their school for a good ten minutes. Mikayla and I went looking for them, only to eventually find them back at the front, this time, with Tanners coat in hand. Yeah! Then, I ask the obvious, Brayden, did you bring home your notebook....... OOPS, Ill be right back, Mom! (This would have been the second night he would have forgotten, after having to go get it after hours at the school twice already since school started). As it turned out, he still left his spelling homework at his desk, which I was able to bring home after Curriculum Night. Needless to say, Nancy and I got quite a kick out of the story, as Brayden and Tanner are two peas in a pod when it comes to forgetfulness.

There is the other side to Brayden, though - and that focus and determination comes when he is passionate about something. Quite honestly, there hasnt been a lot of activities where that passion has surfaced (at least to an extent that it surpasses the fun and distraction of just being goofy with the people around him). So far, I think PS2, snow\wakeboarding, on occassion, a few sports games, and now football have made the list. Last night, we were able to watch him play his first flag football game along with Leona, and Mom and Dad - and Brayden rocked! He ran the ball down the field a considerable distance on one play and the pride and giddiness in his face - it was priceless! (Apparently, there is an advantage to being short in this game because it makes it harder for the defense to pull your flags). I was so pleased that he ran hard, didnt stop to worry if his flags had been pulled (a common mistake), and obviously had paid attention to the play call to know just what to do. I wish I could have had a video recorder so I could play it all for you. A way proud Mommy-Daddy-Grandparent moment.

Alright - on to Mikayla. As oblivious as Brayden can be, last night I came to the startling (but it shouldnt have been surprising) conclusion that my daughter appears to be a worrier. OH NO! It especially seems to come up at night time when she is super tired (go-figure), but what caught me on to the whole thing was that she had a mysterious pain in her armpit. She kept asking me questions about it, if Ive ever had a pain like that, if it would go away, etc. Then, as she got more tired, more things hurt and she was determined she would never get better which led to tears. Oh goodness. I think I am sometimes just shocked at how much Brayden is just like his daddy, and Mikayla, just like her mommy. It is such a hoot, but nights like last night - where I know just who to point the same behavior to - and that is sad. But, will she have the same problems forgetting her homework.......unlikely. Will Brayden spend nights worrying over a health condition.........doubtful. Such special gifts in each kid - isnt it amazing how unique and extraorinary they all are..........

On a funny Mikayla moment (Ill save her awesome soccer exploits for another post). We were listening to HSM2 (AGAIN, and AGAIN, and AGAIN - good thing I like it so much). She said, Mommy, tell me again why they say `Awful one`, I laughed and said, Remember, I told you before - the song is `All for One` Funny, huh!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

WARNING: Product Plug Ahead

So, I gotta say - I am just loving this time of year. So much of the time, Im living for the whats-to-come, and right now, Im totally living in the moment, observing the leaves swirling around me, appreciating the temperature, admiring the trees and their colors, taking in the scents, it is just such a cool time of year for me and I am totally getting a kick out of it.

Along with this time of year comes my particular bents towards certain foods - namely, apple pies. Knowing I would want to start making more of these, I thought Id check out BED, BATH, AND BEYOND to see if they had a product that would make the laborous task of peeling, coring, and slicing go any faster. And, what do you know, they have just such a contraption. It looks like something from the 1800s, but, I am here to say - it totally works - observe for yourself with these pics~

This is it- its normal cost is 19.99, but with the coupons you always get from there, it drops to $15-$16. It comes ready to go, other than screwing on the handle

These are my 6 perfectly sliced and cored and almost perfectly peeled apples, I checked the clock - it took me 6 minutes to do all six..... huge timesaver........

And, here is what the pie looks like prior to going into the oven. I started the apples at 5pm, and had the pie put in the oven at 5 30, so it is a really easy recipe

Finally, here is the recipe I use, modified a bit from one I pulled straight from the Womans Day Magazine last year~


Pie Crust (I have found the Marie Calendars pie crusts in the freezer section to be outstanding, and therefore do not even consider making my own for this recipe)

Crumb Topping-
2\3 cups flour
1\2 cup brown sugar
1\3 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1\2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces

5 medium-large Granny Smith apples
1 Tb. lemon juice
1\2 cup sugar
1\4 cup flour
1\2 tsp. cinnamon
1\4 tsp. nutmeg

1. Mix crumb topping ingredients until mixture forms moist, coarse crumbs that clump together easily.

2. Peel, core, and slice apples (1\8 inch). Place in large bowl, add lemon juice and toss to coat. Mix remaining filling ingredients in a small bowl to sprinkle over apples, toss to coat.

3. Layer apples slices in pie shell, mounding them in center. Pat topping evenly over apples to form a top. Place pie on baking sheet.

4. Cover lightly with aluminum foil, bake 15 minutes at 450 degrees on lowest oven rack.

5. Back 45 more minutes, one rack higher, in 350 degree oven. Take foil off for last 10 minutes. (If you prefer a softer apple, put the pie in at 325, and leave in for close to an hour).

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Couple of Questions 84


Not much new to say. Off to help with teaching math in Braydens 3rd grade classroom in less than hour. I told myself that I wasnt going to commit to more than every other week, and maybe even take a break this year and focus on Mikaylas class, then a meeting with his teacher yesterday happened and Mr. Gulka talked about losing sleep because of the kids in his enormous class that just arent paying attention during math.......and, what was I supposed to do..........gee, I just love math - cant wait-

1. What is something you commonly multi-task and do while talking on the phone.........

2. What is a random thing you would like to share about yourself......... (keep thinking on this one, because the common blog-land version of this has you listing 8 of them, so you might see this question repeatedly)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Today Was....

---a perfect example of what I love about fall---

~the temperature was a cool 66 degrees - a temperature, I decided today, that is a favorite temperature of mine, particularly at this time of year. Cool enough to sport that new jacket or light sweater, to cover up the fading color of the legs with capris or jeans, and still be very, very comfortable. Wonderful!

~the day after a big win day at Autzen. I just love pulling the newspaper off the front porch and cuddling up with it with Russian Tea and hot cereal - and reading positive things about our football team.

~waking up to 5 children ready to give me hugs. Because Michael left to go hunting with Travis this morning, Michele and the kids came down here last night. So cozy....

~11 o clock church service. It allowed for a lazy start to the day, but forced us to make ourselves do something with our day that was productive. Our new interim pastor spoke and it was a great message, the kids all enjoyed Sunday school too.

~finishing a 500 plus page book I just began a couple of days ago. THE LAST GUARDIAN by Shane Johnson. I will reference it in a future post, but it was the kind of book that beckoned to me like a friend to spend time with it, to devour it, and dwell on its message and creativity.

~making another apple pie and smelling it within the house - and replacing a conventional dinner for its delicious goodness.

~the entire family having grilled cheese sandwhiches after church with buttermilk bread, real butter, and Kraft American cheese slices - and the whole family loving them

~the Harvest Yankee candle that makes me so happy to feel like I am entitled to bring out and burn

How did you spend your weekend...................

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Family Duck Day

Because a certain 5 year old threw an all-out panic attack of being left out of the fun of going to the Duck game (we had gotten an extra ticket in our row for Brayden), and because Stephies moms friend had an extra ticket (happens to be Kellen Clemens aunt), we were able to take the whole family to the Fresno State game. Once again, Mikayla laid on my lap and slept through at least a quarter of the game. But, as the weather cooled down and the game became a blow-out - she perked up and the whole family had a good time being silly and having fun.

So, does this guy look familiar........ Prior to the game, the announcers brought a special celebrity to the field -none other than Ahmad Rashad - football player extraordinare (NFL Hall of Famer), UO alum (his name was Bobby Moore), and ex-husband to The Cosby Shows Phyllicia Rashad. For anyone who knows John, it shouldnt surprise you at all that somehow he found a way to get him to sign Braydens hat and have a picture taken with him (yes, that is a sucker stick hanging out of Braydens mouth - he didnt have a clue who the guy was). The folks in our section were very impressed, even if Brayden wasnt. Way to go John, now well need another hat for Brayden as that will have to get set in a place of honor in his room.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Couple of Questions 83

First of all, if you havent had a chance to read this yet~
you really ought to check it out. I thought Jodi was so creative and I big-time related! She also has an excellent and a bit heartbreaking post today regarding kids being picked on. I think it strikes a chord in every good mommy out there.

Going back to the season thing, though - I will have that be the theme for today~

1. What is one big-time indicator to you that the season has shifted from summer to fall.........

2. What is something you are really looking forward to in the next couple of months.........

Heres hoping are temps dip to the 70`s or below!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Happy Birthday Lisa - Turning the Big Four-Oh!

(From front left around the circle- Mindy, Marjie, Lisa, Me, Liz, Steph, Susan, and Ann)

Last night we got the opportunity to honor Lisa at El Toritos for a little 40th birthday fiesta. Feliz Cumpleanos mi amiga! Because there were several friends who couldnt come, it was a fun, smaller group of people that was a little more of a mix-up from the folks we see so often, quite a treat.

Lisa, I think I say this every year, but I am SO THANKFUL for your friendship. You are invaluable to my sanity on a daily basis! I hope this is your happiest birthday - and year to come - ever!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

First Day of Kindergarten

Yesterday was Mikaylas first day of kindergarten. Oh, my little girl is growing up too fast. Last spring we made the decision to keep her at her at the private Christian pre-school - kindergarten that she was attending - it just seemed the thing to do at the time. Ive looked back at that decision with such relief and happiness since then, I cant even tell you.

Doesnt her teacher just look like a kindergarten teacher...... Her name is Mrs. Graham and she is very sweet. Mikayla had an exceptional first day and is most excited that she gets to go every day instead of every other day. (Not on Friday, though - that will be our special days).

On a different note, I have to praise my son for being my HERO today. I awoke (on my own) to see my alarm clock showing 739. This is bad, very bad as that is about 3 minutes before we need to be in the car driving to Braydens school. Fortunately, the clock was about 5 minutes fast - so we had maybe 8 minutes to get ready. YIKES!

So, I ran into the kitchen yelling Braydens name, only to find him FULLY DRESSED (including his shoes and socks which never happens), and pouring milk into the bowl of cereal he prepared on his own. I couldnt get over how amazingly proud I was of him! We left the house and dropped him off totally on time, and I thought to myself, maybe, just maybe, we are doing somethihng right with that kid...........

Monday, September 10, 2007

Withholding Our Gifts

Several years ago, my mom made a decision. Despite the fact that she had surpassed the half century mark in her age (sorry, Mom - that didnt sound so good), she chose to enroll in college. She worked her tail off, studied hard, paid the money- all to recieve a certificate that allowed her to be a licensed massage therapist. She didnt have to. It wasnt for monetary reasons that she did all of this. It was because she believed she had a talent - I will go so far as to say a gift - and she decided to invest a lot of time, effort, emotions, and energy to eventually be able to share this gift with others. I cant tell you how thankful I am that she has. Were it not for my mom, I think I would have a much more depressed outlook on life as a result of a chronic neck issue. Because of Mom, I dont worry about it - I take each day at a time and know that when things get really bad, she will fix me up. I know that she has changed the outlook on a lot of peoples lives in much the same way. She made a decision to share her gift with others, took the risk - and it was a beautiful thing.

I bring all this up not because I want to suck up to my mom - she is family, her love for me and obligation to fix me is a sure bet. (Well, if I keep bringing up the half decade thing, maybe not so sure.....). But rather because she is a great example of something I have been laying in bed thinking about and finally had to get up and type about. What is our obligation as men and women to share the giftedness that we have been bestowed with? If one knows that he has a talent to sing, what is his moral obligation to share that with others? How about a person who is incredibly talented in writing - is able to express their thoughts in a way that makes others laugh, cry, or think deeply? Is it their ethical responsibilty to try to pursue getting this writing out there to others? Or the person who can teach - not just a class of fifth graders, but rather is able to explain something, or enlighten in such a way that causes others to see things in whole new light, is it wrong to withold this gift?

Maybe I havent hit a chord with folks yet. I will get broader here. How about the person who withholds the capacity within them to love. Perhaps they have been hurt so much, they are scared to, or they just dont feel like the love they have to share is worth anything to anyone. Yet, someone, out there, is not being loved because that person withheld their gift. Perhaps it is the gift of compassion you have, but you have yet to encourage another because of the effort or risk it might take. Perhaps, it is the gift of forgiveness you could share - forever altering the persons life who desperately needs that forgiveness. What about the couple who is scared to bring a child into this big, bad awful world - because they are scared of the parents they could end up being, or the trouble their child could end up becoming, or any other vast number of fears - and as a result of this decision, they withheld the world from another Jim Elliot, Billy Graham, Tiger Woods, or Zac Efron (had to add a little levity here.....!).

I have purposely, thus far, avoided the spiritual perspective of this line of thinking because I really do wonder, simply from a worlds perspective, what is our moral obligation to give the rest of our world the potential that we have been given within us?

I have a theory that the two main reasons people choose to withhold these gifts are fear and selfishness. What if we try and fail? What if what we think we have to offer turns out to be a disappointment to everyone around us? What if we get our heart broken one more time? I have to interject right now with a thought that just came to mind - what if John and Leona let that stop them from the relationship they had the opportunity to share over the last five or so years? With tears in my eyes I can share with you that they both had SERIOUS reasons as to why they could justify not investing in a relationship - way, way too much at stake. And, yet, they took the risk, shared their love, and both testified that their blessing in return for that investment was a realization of what love truly is. Was it worth the risk? - Oh, undoubtedly, YES - even as Leona is hurting so badly, yes, undoubtedly.

As for the other reason, well that is a no brainer. We choose not to take the risk, share the gift - whatever you want to title it - because we dont want to interrupt what is comfortable in our lives. It is not usually all that cozy and comfy to go out on a limb, I know - because I hold back a lot due to my desire to not be inconvenienced or put out. I long for comfort and coziness and the idea of pursuing something that puts that at risk - well, lets just say, I am guilty.

Am I proud of that? Nope. In fact, throwing spirituality into the mix now - I do believe God puts a big ol vacant empty unsettling place in our hearts that never quite gets filled until we do that thing that we know we have been gifted to do. Whether it is sharing an extraordinary talent, becoming a parent, or loving another - if we are supposed to do it - I dont think well ever feel total peace until we have at least tried to pursue it.

There is a reason that all of this has come to mind. There is a person in my life that has such gifts and is in a place of witholding them. This person has his or her reasons - it would take Dr. Phil or Dr. Laura 30 seconds with them and it would be pretty concrete as to why. However, I am praying for this person, who I discussed this issue with over the weekend. I am praying that this person will really examine what it is that is the true motivation - and if it is something that they believe God has led them to. If not, and God has a bigger plan, get set, my friend, because I am praying that you will not have a peace until you have let God have His reins as to what decision you should be making. Because, you are indeed gifted, and you have been surrounded by those that have shared their giftedness with you, and you have been blessed as a result. And, while you have certainly been a huge blessing to those whose lives you have touched, I am absolutely positive that there is even more you can share - and I am praying I will be able to witness the results when it happens.

Any thoughts on this? It is one of those late night, deep thought things for me, and definitely has me wondering about my own actions, and lack of actions. I wonder just how early in the morning it will be before I finally get to sleep now.......

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Summer Archives

These pictures were taken way back when in July. At the time, there were so many things going on, that I just didnt get the chance to post about it. But, I didnt want the memory to be forgotten, so here we go. This is Jubilee that the kids are on - isnt she a beautiful horse..........

The kids are showing quite an aptitude in horsemanship. Brayden demonstrates a rare stillness and quiet respect when he is near them (Mikayla still needs to tone her energy down a bit as to not spook the horse), however, Mikayla is very brave and trusting atop Jubilee - as demonstrated by the picture of her doing the exercises with her arms.

Thank you again Mom, for taking the time to create these memories with our kiddos and share your knowledge with them. We need to make it happen more often.........

Saturday, September 08, 2007

In the Middle of an Upset

We are 46 seconds from halftime. Currently, the score is Oregon 32, Michigan 7. It is a BEAUTIFUL thing! It also happens to be the one day I opted to host my first no-kids party for a Duck game. ALERT - we just intercepted the ball in the endzone - oh, the Ducks rock right now!!!!!!

It is GREAT day, particularly amidst a difficult and sad week. Thank you Ducks. Thank you to the friends gathered in my living room that I dearly love and am having a blast with, and thank you to the babysitters (especially my Dad) who are taking our kids and giving us a great time with just adults.

Hoping that the second half is just as much fun........

Friday, September 07, 2007

At Peace

I am very sad to report that John passed away sometime early this morning. When the nurse came in to check his vitals, he was gone. Leona said that she felt like he was finally at peace, and free from pain - and recognizing that was a beautiful thing.

I know we had all been praying for a miracle to occur, that somehow his kidneys would kick back in, his water retention would disappear, but Leona said that John told her a couple of weeks ago, that he believed he would be going to be with God soon.

We have all been incredibly thankful for the love that we have seen shared between the two of them. It has been amazing to behold and truly a bit of a fairy-tale come true. I know we all wish their courtship could have began decades ago, but God certainly blessed them so much in these last several years that its hard to wish anything would have changed other than John being able to enjoy so many more years ahead.

Leona, we love you - and are praying for you and all of Johns family.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Very Sad News

I just came into a message from Leona saying that Johns kidneys and bowels have completely shut down. They are doing what they can to keep him comfortable, but it is not looking good. I know Leona appreciates knowing there are folks she doesnt even know surrounding them in prayer during this awful time, so thank-you.

A Couple of Questions 82

In light of my experience yesterday - here you go-

1. Have you ever had anything stolen from you.......

2. Who was your favorite elementary teacher and why.......

Enjoy the beautiful days of September-

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

First Days, Break-Ins, and Updates

There we go - back in the saddle again. Can I just say I am downright giddy about Braydens teacher! I have this amazing peace about him after Open House yesterday, and after talking today, determined we know some of the same people and he considers Corey Rose, our collegiate pastor (- a huge person in John and Is life) a hero in his life. Yup, I think this arrangement is going to work our just fine...... Brayden felt like he scored yesterday when Mr. Gulka passed out UO plastic tumblers to each of the kids, just because. Brayden was very enthusiastic this morning which is such a great thing.

On a less positive note, John informed me that when he woke up, my van doors were wide open and glove compartment open. Oh joy, someone tried to break in. It happens occassionally where we live, not often, which is probably why I let my guard down. The good news - they got NOTHING. No purse, i-pod, cash - NADA! I figure they could have at least taken the McDonalds Happy Meal Toys - but no doing, apparently they didnt see the value. Those little thieves must have been so disappointed sneaking away from my car.......

Finally, an update on Leonas John. I think the biggest concern right now is still the massive water retention. Leona is very frustrated that the doctors arent being more aggressive in alleviating that and treating him proactively. Please pray that they would find just the right doctor who would take the time and effort to get to the bottom of the issue and help him get healthy again.

I hope, for those of you with school-going kiddos, its been a great return to school and a positive experience for everyone.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Time to Step Up

Even though I am no longer attending school, a big part of me has the same anxiety as the school year comes around - as a part of me is going through it all over again with my kiddos. The other day, I asked Brayden if he was excited about going to sum it up, NOT REALLY was his answer. It isnt that he doesnt want to learn, he just doesnt want the work that goes with it. Despite my relatively high level of academic achievement, that totally summed up both Michele and Is attitude (this lack of punctuation is getting old, but I will have to lose my computer for a week and spend 70 bucks, neither of which I am quite ready to do just yet). We did the work to show we could, to please our parents, to impress our teachers, but we didnt really like it, it was work, it was pressure - long story short, it was doing something we wouldnt have chosen to do on our own accord.

And, so as another school year begins in 48 hours, I find myself back in time, relating to my sons feelings, and feeling a familiar pressure. Sure, hes the one meeting the new teacher and friends - and trying to fit in and have fun. But, I am the one making sure he is waking up on time, insuring that that homework is done, making sure he is dressed right and looking okay - and all the while feeling guilty that I am doing all this because he is now a third grader and should be doing many of these things without prompting. I find myself worrying that he will not have the right kids to hang out with at lunch or recess, or that his first year playing flag football will be his last because he just wont show the kind of effort he needs to. I worry that his strong start in school, particularly reading, will disolve with his lack of effort and interest over the summer (and in general) and that the pushing we have to do to get him to do anything school related will have to continue through college!

And, then, little things happen and I feel like its going to be okay. School is important, but it is not everything in this world. As Brayden asked already to write his Christmas list for Santa, I was reminded of several things - 1) He is capable of planning ahead and being organized =) 2) His handwriting has actually improved quite a bit, and 3) He isnt growing up too soon. Its going to to be okay. He has had three wonderful teachers that have been just right for him and we were just informed that he scored with the one teacher we were really praying for. I hope this teacher loves Brayden for all of his quirks - and appreciates them. And, as for football, we just returned from practice and he did great. Granted, hes small, slow, and behind the learning curve a bit (most of the boys have been on the team for 2 seasons already), but he did great. He gave the effort he needed to and seemed to really enjoy it. He fit in, and my heart was thankful.

So, tomorrow morning, I will sleep in with the kiddos. Brayden will be allowed to play PS2 all day long if he wants. Myself, along with the kids, will be eating whatever we want. Its the last day of freedom for a while - and that, in itself, is what I will be mourning - not so much the summer weather or activities, but the freedom to do and choose to do whatever we feel like. However, as we enter into a new season of disciplines and schedules, we will learn new things, achieve things we wouldnt have otherwise, and more likely than not, come away feeling pretty good about succeeding. Right now, Im dwelling in the last few moments of gluttony, and while it is good for the moment, it aint gonna cut it in the long run. It is time to step up, for my third grade little boy, and for myself. And, Im pretty sure, it is going to all end up all turning out okay.


A - Apples - Apple pie, apple crisp, Farmhouse Apple Yankee Candle

U - University of Oregon football - GO DUCKS

T - Trees of copper, crimson, orange, and gold

U - Umbrellas, beginning to find their way from their summer closet homes

M - Mornings, crisp, bright, so clear and full of promise

N - New backpacks, school supplies, sweaters and sneakers

I know it is just the beginning of September - but to me, that marks Autumns start....... And, Jodi - I know you are smiling at that!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Our First Time Hosting a Tailgater

FIRST UP, THANK YOU WILLIAMS FOR THE USE OF YOUR PARKING PASS! I still would have preferred you guys to be here instead of us hosting, but it was awfully nice of you to let us have the pass and throw together a last minute party.

John was able to secure an ideal location, (there was actually grass!!), so we were very pleased as it really was a nice place to have a pre-game picnic. We were also quite happy with the last minute turn-out. Our guests included the Johnsons, Davis, Whites, Quigleys, good enough for us!

Taylor, Cameron, and Brayden - Looking tough!

This is why it is a good idea NOT to give Mikayla Dramamine before a football game (we had driven the windy way out to Mom and Dads earlier and she had felt sick). The first pic is her at the tailgater, then she woke up, enthusiastically entered the stadium and proceeded to sleep through the first one and a half quarters. I am SO GLAD we didnt spend the money this year to get her a season ticket (this was a special KIDS CLUB game, so both kids got to go).

I am pleased to report the Ducks pulled out a win. In the third quarter, at one point, there were 3 touchdowns in a span of 58 seconds. Unfortunately, Mikayla and I had just left at that point. I guess we are getting famous at leaving prior to the most exciting points of a game. I am still quite unsettled with the lack of confidence inspired by both the offense and defense, but I guess that comes with the territory of being a Duck fan. We will, once again, have to just wait and see.....