Friday, November 30, 2007

Dad's Birthday Evening....

I have this sneaky suspicion Santa might be delivering the family a new camera this Christmas, which appears to be a very good thing as my camera isn't working like it outta be these days. So, I turned the first two pics black and white and sepia to try to salvage them.

Tomorrow, my dad turns 60- Wow, 60. But, the older I get, the younger my parents seem to be getting, at least that's how it seems as the gap seems to be lessening between us.

A December 1st birthday is often a very difficult thing to coordinate for a family function as so many things like to overlap on the weekend closest to that date. So, this year, when we looked at this weekend, with the Civil War, Mikayla's party, Michael and Michele's Fowlers Employee Party, we decided to combine activities by having Dad's "birthday event" at Camp Harlow's Auction. We got a cozy table of 8 set up for the "family" - but, due to Michael's home completion deadline, Lisa got to be Michele's date.

It was a great evening, wonderful music, great company, and as noted by the pictures - amazing dessert. Very expensive though - we had to do a bidding game to determine what kind of dessert our table scored, so that little chocolate "cup" filled with whip cream pulled off from the tiramasu cake cost me quite a pretty penny.

I hope Dad had a great evening, as it was a great one for us. I know I've done the "Dad Tribute" in the past, so I think I might have to steal from the card I gave him and post the words tomorrow on his real birthday in honor of him. Hallmark seemed to a pretty good job, so I'll give them a little credit tomorrow in tribute of my dad......

Thursday, November 29, 2007

School House Rocks!

This is a good "group" photo of the cast - note Brayden in the middle of the risers in the back.....This is from the "Unpack Your Adjectives" song and Madison is about to shoot this poor guy with a syringe full of water....
Despite Brayden's enthusiasm, a few of the songs in the beginning that did not incorporate him in a special roll, obviously didn't keep his active interest......These two must have given the director several sleepless nights.... Tanner and Brayden, two peas in a pod, in a lot of ways, particularly in their participation in this musical.

For even more pictures and excellent description, please go to Amy's post at:

Well, folks, it was worth it. All of the tears, whining, late night carpool driving, and lack of sleep. Worth it. So worth it...

"School House Rock, Jr." was Brayden's first experience in a real drama production. We basically had to drag him to the orientation, but once he was there, he decided to sign the dotted line and go for it.

The company that has put this together is Rose Childrens Theater and they designed this as a "Musical in a Month". So, the kids had basically 4 and 1/2 weeks to put it together. The director is the music teacher Brayden had at Gilham his first two years that ended up leaving because the principal would no longer keep her on full time. Watching this performance disgusts me all over again about that decision that was made - this woman is priceless. Sigh, at least that principal is now gone from our school as well.....

Anyway, Brayden hung in there pretty well through the practices, but last week and this week things started to take a nosedive. He was tired, and, without a frame of reference of how the whole thing might turn out, ready to quit and sorry that he'd ever committed in the first place. Tuesday night had him full on crying...... it was a real bummer. However, as John and I sat through the dress rehearsal, we thought, "THIS IS GOING TO BE GOOD!". This might just be worth it....

Last night's first real performance was nothing short of magical. I'm tearing up just thinking about it. There are 53 kids that signed on to do this, many of them, just like Brayden, that have never had any previous drama experience. The effort they all gave was amazing, and how it all came together for a real, very entertaining production - WOW!

Brayden is on the risers in center stage for much of the show - he has about 4 songs that he has a more "active prop role", and the rest he sings with the chorus. At times, he propped his chin on his fists, yawned, talked to Tanner sitting next to him, or slipped off of the risers, but fortunately there was no nose-picking (as there had been during rehearsal). Phew! During the last third of the show, he is more active, and last night, that's when he came alive - belting out the songs, smiling big - and by the time the show was over and applause was being given, he couldn't control the hopping up and down in enthusiasm. It was certainly a sight to behold!

Leona came last night, and tonight there will be at least 16 guests in the audience with eyes mostly on Brayden. I am so happy for him to feel this satisfaction of a job well done and what happens when you stick with something and give it your all. It hasn't been easy, but it really has been worth it!

P.S. - I am adding an extra bit to this post now that Thursday night's performance (last one) occurred. Brayden really came alive knowing he had a big crowd in the audience there to support him. We had talked to him about stepping up the enthusiasm for the moments that he was featured on stage and he did just that..... I think I'm glad there wasn't a third performance because he was borderline "hamming it up a bit too much"..... By the end, he was "bouncing" even more than before, a sure sign to us that Brayden was at the peak of his pride and happy levels - which few moments in parenting can compare to. Brayden admitted he would up for another "musical in a month" next year, I think I would like it if it weren't in November..... but, once again, even if it did land in this busy time of year again - it would be worth it.....

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Couple of Questions 91

Greetings blogland family--
I find myself at a surprised "what do I do now?" during a time when I was supposed to get together with someone that got cancelled, so I thought I'd post some of Heather's great question suggestions. Hope you all are having a great week-

1. What's your handywoman skill around the house/car?

2. What is something you wish was still appropriate to do as an adult, that is acceptable for a child to do?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ducks' Season Dishes Out Slice of Life

This is taken straight form the Register Guard, written by my favorite columnist, Bob Welch. It summarizes John and I's feelings so much I thought I'd copy it on to my blog.

This was not the death of a president, but decades from now, where I to be asked where I was when I heard the news, I will remember.

The text message from my older son arrived in Yachats at 4:39 pm, the Friday after the Oregon-Arizona game, All it said was: "Dixon is done fro season. Torn ACL."

Amid the absolute best - and, at the moment, worst - Oregon football season in history, I've been thinking about those of us who consider ourselves sports fans. And I've concluded that hitching your wagon to a team of player is a lot like hitching your wagon to anyone or anything.

In every relationship, there's a price to pay for the benefit you receive. For Duck fans, the bill simply came at the worst possible time - Oregon positioning itself for a run at a national title and quarterback Dennis Dixon for a run at the Heisman Trophy. And was far higher than the usual we-lost-a-game variety.

It was football's version of "Cold Mountain," the novel in which a Confederate soldier spends the entire book desperately trying to get home to the woman he loves, then arrives, only to be killed in a freak shootout.

Against the odds, Duck football had arrived this fall. And so when Dixon went down, I found myself thinking: Is this really happening?

After the Ducks' loss to UCLA last Saturday, the answer was as stark as a visitor's "0" on the the Rose Bowl scoreboard: Yes, it is.

Our worst nightmare.

It's not fair, some have said about the Ducks rags-to-riches season. Nope. But, then, if sports is a microcosm of life, why would we expect it to be?

Some deadbeat dad wins the lottery while model parents lose a child. Hurricane Katrina hammers the poor while O.J. beats the rap.

With sports, better to accept that it's just a game. That the ball will bounce your way roughly half the time. And that if you commit to a team - just like when you commit to something or someone in real life - that team will raise your spirits and occasionally break your heart.

And so it is that some choose, in the Simon-&-Garfunkelian model, to not commit or de-commit, because "a rock feels no pain." True, but a rock also feels nothing. Ever.

After the 2002 Seattle Bowl, in which Oregon was humiliated by Wake Forest while Husky backers laughed in our rain-splattered faces, I returned home thinking this fan stuff just wasn't worth it.

But four games later, I watched UO beat Michigan in endless Autzen sunshine. It felt like a perfect day. This season alone, I've watched or heard three unbelievable wins over Michigan, USC, and Arizona State.

I've hooted and hollered with family, rubbed shoulders with UO students at ESPN's Game Day and made friends with tailgating neighbors who saved my buns (and hot dogs) when my camp stove died.

I've seen Dixon emerge from the depths of despair to join Pre and two Lukes as UO athletes for the ages. And, sure, I'd give up my basketball season tickets to see play just a few more games.

But what will never be doesn't wipe out what was. Or preclude Duck fans from hoping for better days, be it next year of Saturday.

On paper, of course, there's nothing to suggest Oregon can muster the offense to beat Oregon State in the Civil War. But the wonder of sports is that you never know.

The wonder of sports is Appalachian State beating Michigan, and a Stanford freshman quarterback beating USC in his first start.

And the essence of fanhood is accepting that it's a little like being the rescued author in Stephen King's "Misery". One minute your "Number One Fan" who's taken you in after your car accident is fluffing your pillow, the next minute reaching for an ax. Delicious and diabolical, sports heal us and haunt us.

But the author keeps writing and we keep reading. Because we can't wait to see what happens next.

Monday, November 26, 2007


It's good that someone is able to kick-back this week.....

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Day of Rest

In contrast to the festive, yet frantic pace of Thursday and Friday - yesterday and today have been much more low key. There has been lots of efforts to organize, re-work on lists, and distribution of gifts for future giving. The Duck game was a sad lowlight, but, a bit expected. Poor wounded team, I just feel so sorry for them.

Michele and the kids left this afternoon, only to return again this Thursday for another weekend stretch together. I have spent the time since she has been gone holed up in my bedroom watching "Single Santa Seeking Mrs. Claus" and its sequel. Cute movies on the Hallmark channel if you haven't caught them before. I was putting away laundry, laying out clothes and ironing all outfits for the week to come, because, quite frankly, I am very scared of this coming week.

As I previously eluded to in a past post - it is the perfect storm of weeks in terms of crazy busy-ness. Brayden's involvement in "School House Rock Jr." means every night he will be involved in at least 2 1/2 hours (if not longer), in practices, rehearsals, performances, and cast parties. Mikayla's involvement in the church choir means two rehearsals this week with her "big show" on Sunday night. Throw in Brayden's soccer game, Dad's 60th birthday, John's dad's birthday, Mikayla's birthday party on Sunday (WHAT WAS I THINKING?!!!!), and then watching Michele's kids while they are at Michael's employers' Christmas Party Saturday night. Did I mention the Harlow Auction on Friday night and hosting my wonderful mentoree over to bake cookies with me earlier in the week? Yes, I am a little concerned how I am going to make it.

I hesitate in whining about all these things for a couple of reasons. One, I know I am blessed to have these events in our lives and any one of them are not whine-worthy. Two, I chose to allow many of them to happen for our family. And, three, I bet many people would happily trade places with me for this week or any other week..... I don't have to face a harsh reality and I do feel very blessed. However, with all of that said, I am a little anxious about it all. I am trying to prepare as best as possible and I certainly don't want to wish a week away (especially in this most wonderful time of year), but I think there will be a part of me that will be very happy come Sunday afternoon when Mikayla's party is over. I'll be singing Hallelujiahs along with her little choir that evening......

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Black Friday

They say that the term "Black Friday" originates from the idea that this is when the big stores finally reach a profit for the year and get out of the red. In an effort to keep people employed (for fear that these stores would close), I wanted to do my part..... HA! Actually, it's an EXTREMELY special tradition that even if I had nothing I needed to purchase, I would find a way to participate.

Because Kohls moved into town and desired to up the anty with their opening time, this year and last year have begun earlier than ever before. This picture was taken when we left our house en route to Kohls.......
Yeah, that's early..... Mom arrived at our home promptly at 3:30 am..... (Poor thing, she couldn't take an Ambien last night as is necessary for her to use to get to sleep - (an Ambien taken with 4 hours to sleep....yeah, that wouldn't be pretty....) so, she got very little sleep).

Despite all of my efforts at organization, wouldn't you know I left the house without my purse (dumb-dumb!), but at least by going back I remembered to grab my cell phone too (what did we do without those things on these days in the past!). No worries, because Kohls really wasn't my store to shop at, so when I arrived, I hopped in line to save a spot (before it quickly wrapped around the store) and we were out of there by 4:45. Michele and Mom arrived at Shopko just as they opened, and I, for the first time, waited an extended time outside of a store before opening. This place was 6am-opening Target, so I waited outside for an hour and 15 minutes in sub-freezing temps. Don't worry - I had a Thermacare patch on my neck, keeping that area warm, about 5 layers on my body, two sets of gloves, and an ear warmer - as well as my ipod filling my head with Christmas music and all of my ads to make more concise strategies for the rest of the day. It was very cold - and a bit long, but Mom and Michele arrived for the last 15 minutes prior to opening and we did did just fine.

There was a bit of a disturbing moment as the doors of Target opened. There had been peace as the line extended backwards all the way to the opening of Gateway mall. But, then, there started to be a gathering of folks waiting across the street in the parking lot - vultures, ready to walk straight in as the door opened vs. waiting in line. The "line folks" did NOT take too kindly to this occurrence and some shouting with unfortunate expletives was used as a group chant began "WAIT IN LINE!". I do think that the ONE Target employee as well as angry line members managed to keep the vultures at bay, but, while I don't condone the anger expressed by the line-goers, was aghast at the audacity of these folks that wanted to cheat the system. One family was trying to use their very-pregnant daughter as their excuse as to why they should just walk in..... I could give me reasons why this is a ludicrous argument, but really not worth it. I think for many, Black Friday is a bit of a game, and in any game, "cheaters" just aren't any fun.

All that said, I was unaffected by these folks and victorious in my Target pursuits. I have a Target Card, and as a result, get 10% off total purchases when I spend a certain amount of money. I had saved this coupon for this very day, knowing there were many items that were needed for Christmas that weren't likely to go on sale, and I might as well just save the 10%. Michele and Mom planned on using it as well. We quickly filled our carts, even wandered a bit in our sleep-deprivation stupor - and then gathered in line -straight on towards the registers- near the jewelry area. It is a sad thing to see folks lined all the way around for those registers to the right, when you can go straight on in lines from certain locations. Oh well.....

We got up to the register pretty quick - Michele had done her transaction and went to get the car, when my transaction "froze the register". The wonderfully capable "Mandy the Manager" was quick on the scene (no sarcasm implied, she was great) and told us it would be a couple of minutes and she would offset the wait with an additional $3 off. No worries, we didn't have a pending store necessary to run to next, so we were okay. When it started to reach ten minutes wait time, she returned and told us we could take her "team discount of 10%" as an additional savings. ALRIGHTY! That was a huge savings for us as we had really piled the carts between the three of us - so, there you go, Hollie. You asked if there were any killer deals - 20% off everything purchases at Target made the deal of the day.

Here are pictures of "breakfast" after Target- note the clock saying 7:34-

From there, we hit a peaceful Toys R Us, the mall and finally Costco before returning to our house to organize and distribute our loot. The final picture of me is taken in the dressing room of Sports Authority. Please, no lectures on how unsanitary the floor might be to lay on - when you are that tired - it just doesn't matter, folks!!!!

Special thanks to my wonderful hubby who took care of the kids! Next year, I believe he and Travis will be taking on the "midnight opening" of the Woodburn outlets, so they are already excited for that. What a fun day - such fun memories - hope your Friday, however you spent it, was special as well!

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Thanksgiving Day isn’t currently over, but so far it is receiving “the best Thanksgiving Day ever” award. What a wonderful day full of all of the attributes I long for when I envision this holiday far in advance. Here are some things that have happened that have made this holiday extra special:

- The “first words out of her mouth greeting to me” of HAPPY THANKSGIVING and a hug from little Ellie
- Waking up to the smell of cinnamon rolls and having breakfast completely made by Michele
- Watching the Macy’s Day parade with the whole family, marking off our BINGO sheets with marker pens
- Having the Whites join us for the entire day – for all of the festivities and having them just completely fit in as part of the family
- Truly the tastiest Thanksgiving meal we’ve made thus far – which is saying a lot, as we’ve had a lot of great meals
- Brayden saying this to Grandpa after being asked: “Do you know where I was when your mom was born?” [Fighting in…] the Civil War! Good one, Brayden!
- The first ever Flag Football game after dinner. SO MUCH FUN! The Ducks played the Beavers – and it ended with “a tie in order for some pie”. I am proud of everyone for being great sports and contributing to the game- particularly with their smiles. (I will admit that the player that really shined – hmmm, that would be me….reception for a touchdown, blocked pass, and an interception – I’m pretty proud of myself if you can’t tell)
- We’re about to start watching the ASU/USC game and we’ll look over the Black Friday ads during halftime. What a wonderfully cozy day-----practically perfect…….

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Day Before Thanksgiving!

Traditionally, this has been one of my favorite days of the year - especially every other year when it means Michele and I are hanging out together, making Thanksgiving treats and attending Mikayla's pre-school Harvest Party (this year, Kindergarten).

This is the year with Michele, and it has been a splendid day - however, it was a little hampered by the 2:30 bedtime I had last night because I procrastinated a four hour project until 10pm. (Note to self: begin the "Giving Tree" labels a little bit earlier in 2008.....) But, even that was pretty cozy. Kids were strewn all over the living room, the fire was going, the "Home for the Holidays" candle burning (I LOVE THAT SMELL!), and I just kept hitting play to reruns that had been DVR'd, only able to listen as I was staring at the computer---

Michele is currently working on cinnamon rolls for tomorrow morning. She kind of has a bee in her bonnet today in the kitchen, it's been quite a while that she's been limited to the confines of the trailer kitchen, so she's been perfecting pie crusts and punching yeast-risen dough all over the place. I made toffee (yes, it took two attempts), a raspberry cheesecake, and a new cookie recipe - we'll see how it goes over. Fun stuff......

Mikayla - showing off her classroom to her cousins-

Kids and dogs in the kitchen - a treasure to have them all there, but as you can see from the mixer and finger licking, there was only so much help to be had from them......
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Yes, a day indeed that I have been most thankful for!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

In Search of the Giving Tree

One of the most rewarding activities of the Christmas Season is my involvement with about a dozen women who come together to organize and distribute presents for our Christmas Giving Tree at out church. Despite the frustrations and time alloted, it is an amazing thing to see these women I value as friends give of their hearts to care so much about families in need.

This year, Lisa and I voluteered to pick out the tree. We got to go to my family friend's, Sharon's, tree farm with Michele and her kids as well as they were already down for Thanksgiving. It was a quick trip, but very festive. What a way to get in the mood of thankfulness!

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Couple of Questions 90

Can you believe this rain? I know we need it, and actually, it really has been a bit cozy, but I am very thankful that Thanksgiving looks like it will be rain-free and clear skies..... (Jodi, any snow this morning?)-

1. What are your Thanksgiving/Weekend plans?

2. What are things that you have found have made the holiday season better for you (tips, ideas, traditions, stress-relievers)?

Stay dry everyone!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Odds and Ends

I just haven't felt super motivated to blog lately. Perhaps because I have to wrench my computer away from my daughter whenever I want to use it. Perhaps, because, quite honestly, I'm still grieving just a bit. I've shared the Duck highs on these blog posts and Thursday was a day dreams were dashed. I feel a little silly saying all this, as I know a lot of you readers out there aren't avid Duck/sports fans, but then again, I just read an article by the sports columnist of the RG, and he summed up our feelings to a T. Based on that, and chit-chat among other like-minded fans, I know John and I aren't alone. I am just super sad for Dennis Dixon, the whole team, and the Cinderella-dream-come-true-that-was-so-close-to-reality that was this season. Sigh..... OK, enough about that.

Heather, way late, but thanks for the sweet comment on the "twins" post - way late, but Michele just told me you commented - as I commented back in response, "right back at ya - and we didn't know how good we had it at Briggs".

Really cute story currently being quoted to me by Michele:
"While driving down to Aunt Stephanie's, Traig asked me in sincerity, "Mom, how come Santa lives at the North Pole and not the South Pole, - the South Pole is bigger." We discussed this to be true and determined Santa must have a good reason. Following a lengthy pause, Traig sheepishly admits, "Well, Mom, when I did the GOOGLE EARTH, I didn't see any castles where Santa lives." Well, what did you see? "Just a lot of white". He followed this up by asking me if perhaps Santa lives under the earth, like in the Santa Clause movies and whether or not there's a real pole to mark the location.

He may be a kid of science, but he still believes...... so adorable........

Friday, November 16, 2007

Stolen from Heather's Blog.....

This was too fun to not bring on over to my blog too- Thanks Heather!!!!

Jeff Foxworthy on The Northwest

You might be from the Northwest if...

1. You know the state flower (Mildew).
2. You feel guilty throwing aluminum cans or paper in the trash.
3. You use the statement "sun break" and know what it means.
4. You know more than 10 ways to order coffee.
5. You know more people who own boats than air conditioners.
6. You feel overdressed wearing a suit to a nice restaurant.
7. You stand on a deserted corner in the rain waiting for the "WALK" signal.
8. You consider that if it has no snow or has not recently erupted, it's not a real mountain.
9. You can taste the difference between Starbucks, Seattle's Best, and Veneto's.
10. You know the difference between Chinook, Coho and Sockeye salmon.
11. You know how to pronounce Sequim, Puyallup, Issaquah, Oregon, Yakima and Willamette.
12. You consider swimming an indoor sport.
13. You can tell the difference between Japanese, Chinese and Thai food.
14. In winter, you go to work in the dark and come home in the dark while only working eight-hour days.
15. You never go camping without waterproof matches and a poncho.
16. You are not fazed by "Today's forecast: showers followed by rain,"and "Tomorrow's forecast: rain followed by showers."
17. You have no concept of humidity without precipitation.
18. You know that Boring is a town in Oregon and not just a state of mind.
19. You can point to at least two volcanoes, even if you cannot see through the cloud cover.
20. You notice, "The mountain is out" when it is a pretty day and you can actually see it.
21. You put on your shorts when the temperature gets above 50, but still wear your hiking boots and parka.
22. You switch to your sandals when it gets about 60, but keep the socks on.
23. You have actually used your mountain bike on a mountain.
24. You think people who use umbrellas are either wimps or tourists.
25. You buy new sunglasses every year, because you cannot find the old ones after such a long time.
26. You measure distance in hours.
27. You often switch from "heat" to "a/c" in the same day.
28. You design your kid's Halloween costume to fit under a raincoat.
29. You know all the important seasons: Almost Winter, winter, Still Raining (Spring), Road Construction (Summer), Deer & Elk season (Fall).
30. You understood these jokes and will probably forward them.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Very Sad....

The game started so well - the Ducks looked magnificent! Just awesome and Dennis Dixon, VERY Heismann worthy. And, then - BIG SIGH!!! - he twisted his knee again. The fans, the sideline, the team, they all seem to be in a state of shock, and playing like it too. We're currently down 13 points. Oh man, to see the tears stream down Dixon's face when he is having the season of a lifetime and has everything going for him..... very, very sad.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Oh BOY!!!!

I am feeling much better today - so on to a much more lighthearted post. My thoughts are not far from two of my best friends both dealing with close friends who are suffering tremendously. However, a meeting with Lindsay (see post from a week ago) helped to put my thoughts in a much clearer perspective.

So, there must come a time in every mom-of-a-boy's life in which she has to say, "I so don't relate - and here you go, "Dad" - this one is all yours". That is definitely the place I am after Sunday night in which John took Brayden to a Duck basketbal game after receiving excellent tickets (it was there second game in a row to go to for free - huge shout of thanks out there to Steve and Doug for donating the tickets).

The seats on Sunday night were about 5 feet from the cheerleading squad - and well, perhaps you can see where we might be going with this one. Here were some priceless quotes from Brayden that John reported later that evening-

"Phooo, I don’t need to watch the game, I’m just gonna watch the pretty girls." (YIKES!)

Upon watching them (closely) doing a routine, he gave a whistle like sound and said, "Look at them shake it!"

And finally, Daddy and him spoke about which game they liked better - John said he enjoyed the Sunday night game and Brayden agreed saying, "It was a better game and a better view......"

You know, John reported all of this and I still don't get it. What is it about pretty girls that turns a guy weird? But, apparently, we can chalk my boy now among the list of "guys" who possess this mystery within them..... I guess there is a partial bit of relief that he's following the mainstream road ahead...., but I can't help but ache a bit for the loss of innocence he's experiencing...... Sigh. I am just so thankful he has John as a Dad that will help him navigate through-

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Highly Emotional Day

The day began at 3:45am for me. My body has recently decided to adopt a routine of waking myself up at exactly that time to have to go to the bathroom. Lovely. Usually, I fall back asleep, but this time my shoulders were aching (elliptical machine), and about 15 minutes later, my Glo-Lamp, which Traig had been messing with, decided to have its alarm go off. Another lovely......

I laid in bed another hour, unsuccessfully finding sleep again, and finally decided to get up and just start my day. I got some of my "to-do's" crossed off very early this morning, and for that, I was feeling highly productive, but by 8am, I was feeling like a walking zombie. Unlike my sister, I am a huge woose about not getting my necessary sleep each night, and therefore highly affected by inadequacies in that department. I went ahead and decided to take a nap after dropping off Mikayla, knowing I didn't have to be anywhere until helping in Brayden's class at 11.

Sleep came fast, but only lasted an hour (which is probably best for tonight....), because John had called on my cell phone. Alrighty then, I called him back and (here's where the emotional high comes in....) he announced that we'd just been confirmed to exchange our "Marriott Unit" for one in Maui the week of April 7th-11th - a trip we've been wanting to make happen for three years. Not only that, but the unit that opened up (miraculously) is big enough to house Travis and Steph as well - and is in the newer tower. Pretty much, it is as good as it gets, and that is extrememly rare in this game of "timeshare exchange".

So, I woke up in a hurry, giddy as can be - trying desperately to hold my tongue when I saw Brayden (we wanted to share it with them together tonite). My emotional tank that had been running on empty, really filled up.

Then, the low came. I was IM'ing a close friend of mine when all of a sudden she announced that a close friend of hers (long distance - and someone I've only met a couple of times), was just diagnosed with MS last night. Devastating news. She's 40, with three small children - the diagnosis was totally unexpected. My heart sank. I think, maybe even more so, because MS is one of those very scary diseases that I have spent time worrying about. It has such random symptoms that can tend to mirror many of the problems I have because of my neck. So, of course, I do wonder- and worry. I know I'm not alone on that one either - another one of my friends considers getting MS and burning up in a fire her two top fears in life. And there you go, this friend of a friend was just given that blow. As this gal told my friend today - "It was a day I woke up and realized the rest of my life will never be the same...." If the diagnosis of MS doesn't scare you, certainly any day that you experience that feeling would.....

I was dwelling on this news and sharing with Michele on the phone when all of a sudden my son comes up to me looking red-faced, tears rolling out of his eyes, and alternately hitting me and motioning towards his throat in a panic. My little boy was choking on a tortilla chip right before my eyes. I went ahead and did the motions of the Heimlich, thinking it all felt "way too pretend to be real" and then he burped and started coughing - and then started bawling. If it weren't for one of his buddies being in the same room and Mikayla's propensity to absorb the emotions of others, I would have been bawling too. Heck, I still feel like doing it right now.

This friend of a friend with MS, I'll call her Carol for now, she no longer gets to have that same carefree thrill of a vacation announcement as I did today. Sure, there will be wonderful things to come in her life, absolutely, no doubt, but now she wears this label and will, I'm sure, be remided constantly of its existence in her life. - And, I would suspect, if the same thing happened with her son, she would worry that someday, she might not be physically capable of saving him. Just a couple of months ago, I stood outside my neighbor's house (my age) as she confided in me that the day before she had been diagnosed with Lupus. Oh wow - kind of made my sore neck feel like pretty petty stuff..... In each of their situations, they were just handed "life sentences". What this will look like in each of their lives, it's too early to tell, but it's a "for the rest of their life" reality. The truth is, at one point or another, we're all going to be handed those sentences. My dad's came when he tearfully told my mom after his mom's death, "I'm an orphan now". My friend, Amy, though it has been gradual, will probably only have a handful of days in her future without pain and fatigue. Perhaps it's the day your spouse strayed, left for good, or died, or the day the test results came back postive. We may not know what it will look like, but we know it will come. Because it's a scary, fallen world, with no promises of anything but death. Days like today remind me that it has to be more than a week in Maui that I set my hopes upon, it needs to be on the One who IS in control and the One who offers HOPE for a world beyone this one...... A promise with absolute guarantees..... . Lord God, how we need you.......

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Little Rant Session

My nerves are a bit raw right now, so bear with me. Just a few moments ago, Brayden came in announcing that he spilled his entire bowl of grape nuts all over the floor (with milk) and didn't know how to clean it up. We had a little discussion about it being either him or myself that had to to do the hard work - so, he better get on it. Then, I walk in to find he's virtually incompetent and I find myself getting resentful thinking, "I might as well just do it myself".

I don't think I necessarily walk around with a chip on my shoulder, but that sentiment quoted above does rear it's ugly head in various places in my life. I tend to be someone who likes order, control, planning, and organization (at least in certain areas), so when I find myself in scenarios where there's something that needs to be done, and it's not being done right (or at all), I get this nasty little voice in my head screaming, "Can't anybody else handle this sort of stuff? Why does it have to be me? I guess if I don't set it up it will never get done!" And, then, I begrudgingly attempt to handle the task. Nasty, huh?

However, I think there is a part of me that gravitates towards these situations because, deep down, I like to be the one in charge. I like things the way I like them, and perhaps, it is actually more preferred for me to take care of all of the details and chores to have things the time I want them, the way I want them, and in my own comfortable fashion.

I mention all of this right now, when, after reading the 10 emails in my inbox I discover that on Friday, November 30th, everything is hitting the fan. (It's a Monday, Michele just reminded me). All these extra-curricular activities that we have carefully scheduled the kids to a be a part of are all converging simultaneously. Brayden has an indoor soccer game, and now, apparently a cast party for the musical he's in. Mikayla has a dress reahearsal for the Choir concert she'll be performing in at the same time. And, then, to top it off, we, along with the Whites, Schillings, and Mom and Dad will be attending the Camp Harlow Auction (adults only). So, I am clueless how all of this is going to work out. See, there you go - I'm not in charge of planning it all and this is what happens.....

Forgive the attitude, once again - it has been a splendid weekend. I have got so much accomplished in Christmas planning, read great books, and have watched the Ducks announced as #2 in the nation. But, as I have mentioned in the past, when I do to much selfish lounging, I can end up being very self-centered and not at all very godly - so, there you have it.

Thanks for letting me rant.....

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Yes, It's True!

These morsels of information came from a Safeway catalog insert in our paper-

-Six year olds laugh an average of 300 times a day. Adults only average about 60 daily laughs.

-Frank Baum named "Oz" after a file cabinet in his office. One file was named A to N, the other O to Z.

-All polar bears are left-handed.

-Reindeer like to eat bananas.

-Rochester, NY, averages 94 inches of snow annually and is considered the snowiest city in the U.S.

-Nearly 80 million Christmas trees are planted every year; the average acre holds about 2000 trees.

-The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket.

-During the Christmas season, more than 1.76 billion candy canes will be made.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

All Is Well.....

I'm sitting on our (new) couches feeling just about as content as it gets. Ellie is softly petting Sydney, who just made a nest for herself on the beanbag, Michele is reading the latest Kristen Heitzmann book, "Echoes", I just finished the third novel in Lori Wick's "Kensington Chronicles" (her old stuff, which in my opinion is definitely her best stuff), and John is lounging on the couch next to me watching "GameDay".

Whether or not it is because we are twins, or simply best friends, or just family - there is and has always been a feeling of "all is right in the world" when Michele and I have the opportunity to spend time and be together. I'm actually not describing it accurately - I'm not referring to a false optimism about life, but rather a feeling of contentment. Perhaps then the flipside could be considered, most every experience in my life is made that much better if Michele is in my company - and therefore, without her around, there is a bit of a feeling of loss that she can't be going through it with me.

I suppose this is a dangerous thing to address as I've struggled with being judged over this very issue all my life. Michele and I have always been close. We've always desired the same pursuits and activities - even things that I did that she didn't or vice versa - were not intended to be done alone - it's just one of us made the cut and the other didn't (i.e. her going further in high school volleyball or softball, my being on the high school dance team). At one point in our lives, Michele actually pondered Mormonism - once again, something I too dealt with, but just not to the same extent.

During our senior year in high school, either as a result of succumbing to the social pressure we felt from every angle to be "individuals", or perhaps our need to test our relationship ourselves, Michele and I pursued friendships with two individuals that we began referring to as our "best friends". She spent time hanging out with Dana, and her friend, Shari, and I spent great amounts of time with my friend, Jaime (wow, a whole post could be written regarding the lessons learned and pain involved in that friendship.....). Despite the fact that we had had 95% of our classes together and were co-valedictorians, Michele and I chose to march with those two ladies rather than ourselves at graduation. It was a mutually understood decision for us both - just the way we wanted it to be. And, as I look back now, a decision that reflected exactly how disorienting and manipulative your high school years can be. Those friendships that were so important at the time have yielded exactly zero conversations for either one of us in the last 15 years. Yes, valuable relationships to be sure......

The weekend that Michele met Michael, I met a guy named Dave - and we both fell for these men instantaneously and completely. What a beautiful gift God gave us that weekend (on so many levels - it was truly a re-dedication weekend for both of us in terms of our Christian walk) to discover that God would give us men so unique to the very small differences between us that we would not overlap in our desires for the same guy. Obviously, Michele married Michael and I did not marry Dave, but to realize, on that weekend, that God would solve such a potential problem for us was a beautiful thing indeed.

Obviously, our husbands have had to do a lot of adjusting in our dependency on each other and the depth of our friendship. We've all had to compromise, for sure, but I think it is now safe to say - 15 years into Michele's marriage, nearly 12 into ours, that the husbands have had little to complain about for quite some time, and do indeed see our relationship as a very big positive in all of our relationships.

When I began writing this post, I had no intention of spewing forth details about Michele and I's friendship, but that is where my typing has gone, so there you go. Michele is here this weekend - we've had a marvelous time doing pretty much nothing together which is sometimes all that we ever hope to do together. To say life is good right now seems like such an understatement - at this moment, all is well in the world.......... sigh.............

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Some of My New Favorite Things

No, it's not going to be a nostalgic, thankful list - rather, as prompted by Heather (who I had a dream that I was with last night =) ), a list of new favorite products or recommendations.....


Clairol Nice and Easy Root Touch Up- For only about $6, you can use this product to delay another round of coloring that costs at least 10 times that. I have tried two different colors that I knew weren't perfect matches, but both worked well and blended just fine. It only lasts about a month, but so worth it for me.

John Frieda Luminous Color Glaze- a product you use in the shower after conditioning that is like a temporary coloring as well. It can actually stain your hands a bit, so you know it has some good effects on your hair. The red really is fun for me.....


Method Hand Soap - I LOVE the Cinnamon Bark smell and Hollyberry smell - almost better than a candle


Marie Calendars Ready-Made pie crusts - in the freezer section. If you are making pumpkin pie off of the Libby's Can label - a double recipe fits perfectly in three of these pie shells....

Oregon Chai Tea - in the tea and coffee section. Michele turned me onto this. If you use one part of this, one part milk, one part French Vanilla Liquid Coffeemate (can be Sugar or Fat Free) and one part water (perhaps a little less of last two ingredients), you have yourself one tasty, creamy drink - not quite overtaking Russian Tea for me, but a worthy contender

Leonardo's Take and Bake Pizza from WinCo - actually my family's favorite take and bake. I think it might have something to do with the garlic butter they smear all over the crust to begin with...... mmmmmmm

WinCo's Bakey Cinnamon Raisin Bagels - very soft, which is what I like, and choc-full of raisins


Michael W. Smith's New Christmas Album (It's a Wonderful Christmas?) - I'm not quite ready to recommend purchasing the whole album, although it is nice, you might be better off downloading a couple of the songs. The first track for sure (I've already cried a couple times listening to it) and certainly the one that he does with Mandissa. It is beautiful music as it is all down with a full orchestra, so it almost has a Disney dramatic soundtrack element to it.....

Josh Groban's Album - If you love the sound of Josh Groban, you'll probably like this. I can't say I was blown away, but probably because I wasn't expecting a sound that bordered on kind of an opera-like sound, but his "I'll Be Home for Christmas" with sound bites of real military families speaking is pretty touching......


Hands down, for John and I, "Chuck". We sit in our bean bags up in front of the coffee table - all of our snacks ready - and just ENJOY.... We are constantly trading smiles back and forth - we love Monday nights and we love CHUCK!

I think that's it for me. I'll probably think of more and put them into the comments. In the meantime - contribute away! I'd love to hear what's "doing it" for you all............

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

My New Friend, Lindsay

When I was a college student, there was a program through our church called, "Naomi's Wealth". In a nutshell, it involved younger women being paired with older woman so that they could share their "wisdom". The idea didn't appeal to me in the SLIGHTEST - I already had a mom and didn't want some older woman telling me how I should run my life differently. I kind of had that attitude towards being personally mentored in general - only a tiny handful of women in my life had earned the respect from me that I would want to model my life after theirs. Sadly, I never really got to enter into a mentor relationship with any of them - at least not for any length of time.

One of those woman's name was Laurie. She was basically a half generation above me - less than 15 years older, for sure - and I admired her tremendously. She had become a widow, leaving her with three young kiddos, and then later married someone I admired who had helped lead our college group - and now they have two more young children - my kids' ages. Laurie was (is- she moved so I don't get to run into her anymore) down-to-earth, transparent, fun, and above all, constantly seeking the Lord. I learned so much from her testimony as well as nearly every conversation I had with her. I had the opportunity to be part of a Bible Study with her for one sweet year, but then, shortly after, their family moved.

Fast forward to September of this year. I recieved a phone call from the Director of Womens' ministy and was asked to call her back. I've got to admit I always feel a bit of nervousness at that as I worry about how I might end up being challenged by her to do something out of my comfort zone. In this case, she asked if I would consider being a mentor to a college-aged gal. I said "yes" because God has put the collegians on both of John and I's heart lately, and felt like this might be a good start. However, I still admit, there was some major concern over what kind of individual I might be paired with - whether or not we'd hit it off or have anything in common at all, and of course, how they would perceive me - as I had certainly had strong feelings about the whole thing when I was their age.

So, the day came when I got in the mail the letter telling me the name of the student I was to meet with. Imagine my shock when I actually recognized the name - Lindsay - daughter of the above mentioned "Laurie". Wow, God is good. It is so totally wild to me that we could end up going full-circle, although me being considered the "mentor" still cracks me up regarding my "wisdom to share". But, one thing I do having going for me, is that I do love talking, and God has taught me a lot, so, hopefully, that just might be enough......

At ten this morning, Lindsay and I met at Full City. Though we have met before (with Laurie), it's been a long time. I can't tell you how happy I was leaving our meeting..... I adore Lindsay and feel like I went back in time 14 years (the difference in our ages), upon talking to her. She is in leadership positions all over the place within the collegiate ministry, so our meeting time isn't destined to be all about teaching or Bible Studies, but rather friendship and prayer requests - just perfect as far as I am concerned.

Jodi was talking in her blog about the amazing feeling of meeting with someone you know so well, but rarely get to see and getting right to the "meat" of it (being a vegetarian - she didn't use that phrase, but I think that was her point). I so agree, but also have to add my feelings of more-or-less meeting someone for the first time, and still being able to dive deep. I think that is a sure-fire sign that a great friendship is beginning, and I couldn't be more delighted......

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A Couple of Questions 89

I'd really like to make it to 100 questions, but I've got to admit, right now the creative juices aren't flowing. Hence, the reasoning behind question #1.

This morning I woke the kids up just a little early so that we could be at the "Tuesday Morning" store less than a mile away at 7am in order to snag a gift item that is perfect for a friend of mine. I've never shopped there before, so when I went in with the ad last week looking for the item, the saleslady kindly explained to me that that is part of the merchandise that arrives Tuesday morning - hence the name of the store. So, I didn't know what to expect this morning when I showed up, but thought I should arrive upon opening at 7am just in case. Sure enough, there were about ten people out front, and at the point that I snagged my item, there were only two left. Actually, only one left, because the kids and I decided that "said item" would probably be a very cozy thing to have in our home as well. This made the trip very worth it for the kids.

We spend the next twenty minutes eating orange juice, chocolate milk and doughnuts at the Market of Choice before it was necessary to pick up our neighbor and head to school. While I don't believe we will be doing much more Christmas shopping in this fashion, I think it is something the kids will agree was very fun and memorable.

So, on to my lame questions......

1. Do you have an idea for a question? (please....)

2. What Broadway-style show would you most like to see? (Does not have to be currently running)

Monday, November 05, 2007

It's Been this Kind of Weekend.....

Yes, indeed - a cozy weekend for sure. I spent Friday and early Saturday at Michele's - doing all the sorts of things I love doing there - sorting through catalogs, reading classic Lori Wick books, organizing paperwork. The kids had pulled out the Christmas music and were dancing in the living room, and Traig even persuaded me to play a little "Ty" on PS2 - yup, just what I had in mind.

Saturday, of course, brought us back to Autzen, my last home game for the season (my ticket for the Civil War always goes to Michael when they play at Autzen) - and I couldn't have asked for a better game to end it on. Sunday brought an additional hour to savor in the mood of the season. I love Sundays in November the best - I love reading the paper - about the Ducks, as well as scouring the ads for early Christmas deals.

While I can't say the house looks like I had an extra hour to work with it - the amount of ground I made in "preparing for the season" both tangibly and literally - was very big. A wonderful weekend for sure......

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Final Exam

Couldn't help but post this - Michael sent it to me and I just kept smiling.....

At Penn State University, there were four sophomores taking chemistry and all of them had earned an 'A' so far. These four friends were so confident that the weekend before finals, they decided to visit some friends and have a big party. They had a great time but, after all the hearty partying, they slept all day Sunday and didn't make it back to State College until early Monday morning.

Rather than taking the final then, they decided that after the final they would explain to their professor why they missed it. They said that they visited friends but on the way back they had a flat tire. As a result, they missed the final. The professor agreed they could make up the final the next day.

The guys were excited and relieved. They studied that night for the exam. The Professor placed them in separate rooms and gave them a test booklet. They quickly answered the first problem worth 5 points. Cool, they thought! Each one in separate rooms, thinking this was going to be easy..

....then they turned the page. On the second page was written...

For 95 points:

Which tire went flat? _________

Friday, November 02, 2007

Brayden's Essay

We had our parent conference with Brayden's teacher yesterday. No new surprises - we are dealing with the same compliments and same "need for improvements" as we have been for the last four years. We walked away smiling at our son, very pleased with his teacher, and motivated once again to pull out the handwriting book and work with Brayden on paying attention to directions and details.......

One of the projects he's been working on this last month is a five paragraph auto-biography. Brayden still has a long way to go in understanding the technical aspects of how to write paragraphs and proper sentence structure and flow - but the content made me forget all of that and brought tears to my eyes. Here's what he wrote - I think you will notice he definitely has some themes going on.....

I am Brayden Riley. I love my small family and for my free time I would play video games of watch tv. When I grow up I am going to be a professional football player for the Colts.

I love my family. They are really nice. I never want to trade them. They take me a lot of places and give me a lot of surprises. They are the coolest. My dad loves watching me play football. He throws me the ball and catches my throws. My mom gives me a lot of advice and truly helps me when I am sad. She helps me with my homework.

I would want to be a super star and sing for the Lord. It will rock! I love Him so much and once I die I am going to have the most fun in the whole wide world.

When I grow up I want to play for the Oregon Ducks. I would play with Dennis Dixon and Jonathon Stuart. I would like to play quarterback or running back. I would help make them number one in the nation. It would help them so much.

I have a great small family. My goal is to play for Indianappolis with Peyton Manning. I also want to sing for the Lord. When I grow up I am going to play for the Ducks and Dennis Dixon.