Sunday, June 29, 2008

"You Getta Line, I'll Getta Pole, Honey"

For Fathers' Day this year, since we both couldn't be together with Dad, we decided to take a "rain check" (thankfully void of rain!) to go fishing with him, Mom, and the girls. The scheduled date was today - and we had a splendid time.....

We headed up to Foster Reservoir and took their boat out. Gotta hand it to mom and dad, they really are efficient loading and unloading. One could post a hidden camera by busy docks on the weekends and come up with some very enjoyable entertainment at the expense of squabbling couples.

The first location that we anchored at proved unsuccessful in the fishing dept. - Dad speculated that it was too shallow and that the fish would head to deeper waters as it was so warm. And you know what, we think he was right! Just a little ways over, the poles started bobbing and the kids were being beckoned right and left to start pulling them in. I think we netted around a dozen nice-sized rainbow trout.

We also went out in the innertube for a bit - however, the water was so choppy in the main part of the lake - and so busy, it wasn't the experience it could have been otherwise.

All in all it was a great, great time. Mission accomplished, girls caught fish, spent great time with Grandpa and Grandma.... yes, good times. In addition to the activities of the day, we also had an exciting conversation with them, as they proposed a family trip to Disneyworld for early 2010. I think we'll be aiming for a Disney Cruise, so if anyone knows any amazing deals or ways to find them- please let us know!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Check, Check, Check!

I've already made great strides on my summer checklist - I thought I'd put up some pictures of some of the more memorable events.....

First up, the s'mores on the outdoor firepit. In anticipation and celebration of Michele and the kids' arrival on Monday night, we had a quick bar-b-q and brought out the chocolate bars, marshmallows, and graham crackers. We quickly discovered that "3 Hour Firelogs" do not make for a positive marshmallow toasting experience. The marshmallow turned more grey than brown - and it took at least ten minutes to achieve that. Fortunately, we found some wood I use for decor by the fireplace and got ourselves some real flames. The picture of Michele and I is really one of my favorites. The books are on our laps, we're in cozy jammies - and just happy to be together and excited for a fun week ahead with the kiddos.

Following the girls adventures on horseback, we promised to take them to a special breakfast. Actually, the outing was more for me than it was for them, as I just couldn't wait for an excuse to eat my cherry crepes.

We figured they'd find something they like, as they all enjoy breakfast foods, but we never expected them to actually lick their plates clean. When they finished, all three begged for more - we've never had that happen!

On round two, we got a kick out of watching Ellie devour the whipped butter. How does that girl stay so small?!

Finally, time on the boat. We were questioning our wisdom in deciding to pick up the boys from their week in Harlow with the boat in tow so we could go straight to the lake. What if they were so exhausted they'd just be total grumpies with us? As it turned out, it was Mom and Dad that we should have worried about, the boys were fantastic, while for John and I - it took about 2 hours on the lake for us to get rid or our bad attitudes!

By the way, the boys did indeed have an extraordinary time. As they're boys, the details we've gathered have been a bit limited, but Brayden describes Day Camp now as a "1" compared to the "10" that is Overnight Camp. (Since they'll be attending Day Camp in July, they better be okay with that - I'm believing even Day Camp is a "10" compared to any other non-Harlow camps they do).

It really was hard to keep the negativity up when there was so much giggling amongst the kiddos - particularly once the innertube was inflated. Traig, especially, seemed to enjoy the boating experience more than ever before. And, yes, that picture at the bottom is of him, getting up on the wakeboard!!!! It was his idea to try and we were so pleased that he caught on to the concept so fast. It only took three tried for him to get up and ride for a bit, and then, he was fine to be done. I'm so proud of his courage to try and talent to achieve!!!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Experiencing "Jubilee"

On Thursday morning, the girls got to have an extra special treat as the boys were having the time of their lives without them at Harlow. We took them out to Mom and Dad's and they each got to have some special one on one time with Mom and "Jubilee".

Mom does such a great job with them - guiding them through exercises so that they learn to feel the movement of the horse and understand the rhythm, and then, as they're ready, increase the challenge. Mikayla and Nati both were given the opportunity to trot this time, and not surprisingly, they are already requesting to try "the canter" (just like their mommies at that age!).

In the middle of July, while the boys are at "Boys' Round-Up" with their daddies, the girls will get the opportunity to return again, this time, without us. We told Mom that we needed a babysitter for the three girls on that day and she eagerly said "yes" and suggested doing another lesson with them.

As evidenced by the first two pictures, Michele and I enjoy a little time with sweet Jubilee as well. I really like the picture of her and Michele - Michele said she was talking to Jubilee about how she REALLY feels about her barn and pasture buddy (Mom's other horse), Holly..........

Thursday, June 26, 2008


I stayed up until 1am last night re-reading (and finishing) SOPHIE'S HEART by Lori Wick. It was Lori's first contemporary romance and she nailed it. Lori Wick has incredible talents in creating female characters with such strength and vulnerability all wrapped up into one. This book wove a story of a young woman from a foreign country who comes to find herself becoming housekeeper and nurturer to a family grieving the loss of its mom and wife. The depth of "tenderness and rescue" in this book actually have my stomach fluttering as I read it- that is the skill of this author. With that said, however, I have found myself very disappointed as time has gone on with her writing in current book releases. I feel like she has tried to follow the same formula and it's not even worth trying for me (I let Michele read it and most of the time that's what she says).

But, this book - a great one. Perhaps some would find it cheesy, but I was pulled in to the entire process of a family losing "it's heart" and coming to accept new love - and of course, for the redemptive power of Christ to heal. Worth the staying up, but I wish I had turned off the 6:30 wake up alarm in the other room, as I never fell back asleep again. Yes, poor pitiful me.... what a terribly, tough life I have.

Speaking of romance.....the next set of pictures here are from when we dropped the boys off at Camp Harlow. Michele's Ellie and Amy's Jackson have had an "on again, off again" relationship since they first met. For whatever reason, this last spring, things seemed to be "off" for them, Jackson was under the impression that she "just wasn't that into him anymore" and his siblings tried to encourage him that he was free to pursue the other pretty girls in his pre-school class. However, Monday night, apparently at the dinner table, Jackson put his chin to his fist in discouragement and declared, "I just can't believe Ellie and I are broke up". Of course, the family was in stitches and decided to help him win back his first love by appearing with roses for her at camp. Based on the pictures, the plan did indeed work - and the two moms are now back to planning their wedding........

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Oh CRUD!!!!

I have been having some problems with the blower system on my minivan for the last couple of years. If you want to have heat or air conditioning, it's only available at full strength - so you end up with a lot at once, and it's so loud you can't hear each other. I've lived with it, though, because I haven't wanted to spend the money.

But, I figured it was finally time - going into another high AC time period. Perfect timing as well since Michele is in town and we'll just use her vehicle to drive around with the girls and drop mine off at the service center.

That was the plan at 9:45 this morning, but when I got there, there was no apparent place to park. I drove to the end of one lane, thinking you could loop around to the other lane going the other direction - only to find I was at a dead-end and it was necessary for me to back all the way out, avoiding all of the parked cars. I felt like I was doing great - safely avoiding the cars to my side when all of a sudden....CRUNCH!!!! AAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!! Yes, I backed my purplish Dodge Caravan right back into a beautiful red Honda Civic. And yes, there was noticeable (but not huge) damage. (Primarily cosmetic).

What a way to totally ruin the overwhelming flow of good feelings I'd been having since Michele came into town - last night we even did the "stay up late thing" with the girls all sun-kissed lying asleep on the floor. It was "the moment" we'd wanted to have.

Then, again, I have to tell myself - it's okay - I will get over it, and it could have been much worse. For instance-

- I have insurance (with a $500 deductible - OUCH), I could have been uninsured
- No one was injured
- The person wasn't even there, so I didn't have to see the crestfallen, angry expression when they realized what I had done to their car (and their day) (Sorry, folks who have to break the news at Kendall Honda Service Center....... but, think of it this way, now you'll have another job to do.....)
- It was a vehicle I blindly backed into, and not....... (you know where I'm going with that)

Ironically, Michele backed into someone yesterday at the pool. Actually, her and the other lady both backed out of their spots simultaneously and thought they were each at fault. There was NO damage so it turned out okay, but the whole time they were talking behind the vehicle I kept thinking, "Lord, I'm so glad it's not me...."

So, the cost to get my blower fixed on my vehicle went WAY, WAY, WAY up today, but we'll deal. God is telling me that contentment is not just based on happy moments, but thankfulness that He's in control......

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Drop Off

And there you go.... the boys are off. I'll add a few more funnies in a bit - but I have to go right now. All's to say, it was a very successful experience!


I'm back, somehow surviving the rest of the day without Brayden. It's tough, but I've managed.... =) Actually, both Nati and Mikayla expressed sadness today as they "both missed their brothers" (and to that I say, "Oh Brother!").

Actually, although I miss our buddy - I am confident he is having the time of his life. I LOVED their two counselors, "Turbo" and "Yao Ming" - particularly "Turbo". This is Turbo's first year as a counselor after having been a camper at Harlow for countless years himself. I see in him our own little guy - someday taking all of his amazing sanguine qualities and utilizing them perfectly in the camp setting (hmmm, just like his dad did one summer as "Boomer" - "Assistant Program Director"). Turbo is just the kind of kid we were hoping for, easy to laugh, full of enthusiasm, and just enough rapport with parents to give you confidence your kid is in good hands.

I forgot my camera, but Amy came to the rescue with some fun shots. The second one shows Brayden giving a high-five to Dave Mertz as he walked in. Dave is Harlow's Camp Director, and, as I've previously eluded to, a dear family friend. It was just a special moment, watching Brayden bouncing off the invisible walls, so excited, and knowing Dave is big reason why that excitement is there.

I like the picture of Brayden and I as well - it kind of reflects me and the expression often on my face when trying to get Brayden to be serious about something (like posing for a picture) when he just wants to be silly. And, the next two are pics of the counselors already getting a kick out of the kids - the second one with "our special 4" (there are 10 kids per cabin).

On the way out, Amy, Michele, and I were all grins, just so happy for the boys. (The picture reflects my attempt at fake tears). We thanked Dave for supplying such great counselors for us and he responded with some seriously funny sarcasm that I'd supply on this blog, but would never want anyone to take it the wrong way, so I'll refrain. He had us in stitches, to say the least. He also enjoyed contrasting our smiles to the previous mom that had passed him by who was barely able to keep from crying as she left her child. Maybe if the boys weren't so happy, or we didn't feel like they were in such incredible care, or they didn't have each other - but, somehow this "rite of passage" feels oh-so-right that all I can do is be ecstatic for him.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Overnight Camp

Gasp...... Tomorrow morning, I drop my eldest off for overnight camp at Camp Harlow. It is a four-day, three-night event - and the camp happens to be less than 2 miles from my house - but, nonetheless, a huge deal for this little family.

Of course, I've been apart from Brayden for that long before, but never without the watchful eye of some "mother" making sure that he is dressed right, brushes his teeth, washes his hair at least once a week, etc.... This is a new place for me.

In an effort to prepare, Brayden's duffel bag is intricately laid out. I actually put each day-time and night-time set of clothes in their own labeled plastic shopping bag (who says those things don't get re-used......) and Brayden has already been quizzed (and passed) for which pocket of the duffel holds which things - from underwear, to goggles, to extra sweatshirts.

Fortunately for us, Brayden is bunking with three of my favorite friends for him - Jack, Andrew, and cousin Traig. In addition, I know of other buddies from his class that will also be there. He'll be in good company.

Will he miss us? I'm absolutely sure of it. But, will he be okay? - yes, I'm sure of that too - I think he's ready. Will he go through the entire day with ketchup on his face and his shorts on backward - I think there's about a 50% chance of that..... (depends on how good his counselor is!).

Will I miss him? Undoubtedly. But, will I be okay? - yup, I think I'm ready for this too, especially as short and as close as it is. Michele and the girls will be down for the week and it will be fun to rejoice in our "estrogen outings". Friday will be here before I know it. Unfortunately, I'm starting to feel the same for Brayden turning 18.......

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A New Restaurant Review

Last night we hit a new restaurant in Springfield. Our family is very "functionally fixed" (shout out to you, Mr. Shantz, for that term) in our eating choices. We are not gourmet, do not expect fancy, like to eat the same things every time we visit, and really need a good atmosphere and service to make the experience feel worthwhile. So, taking a risk with someplace new is sometimes not worth the money in our mindset.

In this circumstance, the decision was made easy because Dennis and Lisa invited us (it was near their neck of the woods). In the location that Carrows once inhabited since the time I was born - a new renovation occurred. In fact, it was a million dollar make-over to create the new "Hole in the Wall" bar-b-q restaurant. If the outside is any impression of the inside, we knew it would be good. Add to that the continuous, nightly, 30-45 minute wait-time since they opened - and it was a pretty good sign we wouldn't be wasting our money for the evening.

We were seated in the back room that actually did have a "hole in the wall" (Mikayla pointed that out) in the form of a mini waterfall. Nice ambiance. They also had two flat pannel screen tvs which were nice, but not necessary for us. I was starving, literally salivating waiting to order and perusing the menu - offering all of the best sort of bar-b-q variety that a girl like me loves to eat. Prices were reasonable, service was a little slow (but very friendly) - and the food was EXCELLENT! If it were up to me, we'd be returning there for our birthday dinner.

So, heads up if you are looking for a yummy, bar-b-q place to eat in the Eugene/Springfield area - this place definitely fills a need.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Join the Rest of the Gang...

I overheard this from Traig after talking with Brayden and Nati, "I'll never get the girl race".

Thursday, June 19, 2008


On Tuesday evening, I was feeling a little overloaded with extra un-expected kids over for several hours and the need to pack for Michele's for a few days.

So, I decided to retreat to the computer and download some new music for my i-pod - this time with a country slant. The CMT channel is often on at the gym where I work out and it has enlightened me to the fun of Julianne Hughes, Carrie Underwood and so forth. I pulled out some older favorites from Colin Raye and Martina McBride and now I have 45 minutes worth of music - with 3 songs in particular that have me easily in tears regarding how fast my little girl will grow up (All American Girl, Think About You, and This One's for the Girls).

At about the time I was wrapping it up, Mikayla asked if I could join the rest of the family out front while she rode her bike and John and Brayden passed the football. How could I resist? So, I took my new music with me, sat there on the lawn, involved myself in a few tosses with Brayden, applauded Mikayla's new skills and realized once again just how blessed my life is.

While I was out there, I felt that an appropriate task would be to make a list of things I don't want to let the summer pass by without accomplishing. I've never done this before, but there are all sorts of little moments that I love about summer, and I thought it would be fun to list them out as some goals to make sure they happen. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • - treat the kids to shaved ice outdoors
  • - make s'mores (often)using our new firepit
  • - watch fireworks from out front on lawn chairs
  • - hit the bounce house in the old skating rink outside of Corvallis
  • - stay up late reading books with Michele (with fun tv on in the background) while the kids lay all over the living room floor, happily asleep and exhausted from Camp Harlow (this year all 5 will be gone during the same week - so we can nap while they are gone)
  • - bumper boats and go-carts on the Fourth at Camp Harlow
  • - re-visit West Coast Game Park Safari
  • - listen to Dave Mertz lead guitar worship, under the stars, around the campfire, at Colin's camp-out
  • - go camping
  • - eat cherry crepes at Original Pancake House
  • - take girls fishing with Grandpa
  • - sunset walks around our neighborhoods with Michele
  • - outside patio birthday dinner at PF Changs
  • - lots of time in the boat
  • - bbq's involving baked beans, pretzel salad, and corn on the cob

That's enough for now, but I'm keeping the list close by so I can keep accumulating..... How about you, what are some things (big or small) that you want to see happen?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

So Sanguine

I was going to post on something else just now, but after the most recent conversation with Brayden, I just had to address this.

We'll admit it - lately, this little boy has been a struggle to us. I've already posted about it, but on Monday night, you could just see John's face burdened with "the long road ahead" we have with this boy. I tried to encourage John that my friend with grown boys of her own said this age level was her worst to endure and it will get better. That helped, but yesterday I went online to research more about that. Yes, I found a couple of articles that helped - pretty much they tell you to "just stick with it" through all of the ebbs and flows.

Then, I got to thinking, perhaps I should research again his VERY SANGUINE personality and see how that relates to his current behavior quirks. Brayden is one of the only people I know, that, from everything I've read, completely encapsulates only one personality type. So, last night, right as John came home, the "Eureka" information popped up on the screen, validating us, making us laugh, and making us realize we are far from over when it comes to raising this very special kid.

It also alleviated some fears. I have lately felt like perhaps we should test Brayden for potential ADD or ADHD.... probably a long way from following through on that, but wondering nonetheless. At this point, I'm reassured it's his personality and not a disorder.

To quote some of the more "Ah-hah" pieces of information:

"This temperament shows little interest in hard work but just brushes the surface. Initially, he is greatly enthused about a topic but quickly loses interest and flits to the next subject. Long-lasting sacrifices and efforts lack any appeal and, in fact, are rather frightening to him."

"Views can change rapidly as well as moods and resolutions. He loves variety."

"Because he wants others to agree with his high opinion of himself, flattery and praise bring great happiness and are actively sought"

"His optimistic nature stifles his conscience and fear of punishment. He reacts with great sorrow after the fall, but has difficulty maintaining good resolutions."

"Optimistic, cheerful - he loves life and wants to enjoy it. Dire events may occur around him, but after a short period of "being down", his natural enthusiasm and good-temper bounce back"

"He has a very active imagination. Although his learning may not be of great depth, he is intelligent, quick, alert, and a skilled conversationalist"

"Has a tendency to the external - his five senses are very active and acute. Thus, he is keenly aware of and attracted to beauty and sensuality in clothes, furnishings, the arts. etc. He has an eye for detail."

I swear, they were analyzing Brayden when they were writing all of this. Pretty much, Brayden wants life to be a big-long game with lots of people, with the game changing every five minutes so he doesn't get bored - but not too hard to understand either - and yes, colorful and bright, and pretty......

A couple of days ago, I was talking to a friend about how Brayden had told me that he wore a pair of shorts to school all day backwards. No big deal, you're thinking, if they are the silky sort of sports shorts. But, nope, these were khakis, complete with back pockets and snap-front. She laughed and was surprised because Brayden is so attentive to wearing clothes that look good and complimenting others on what they wear. I said, "Yes, that's my boy - he has the skill to know what looks good, but lacks the follow-through to ensure he's wearing it the right way".

And, then, just now, he was looking at me and noticed I had put make-up on. I replied it was an attempt to cover-up the eruption all over my chin. =( He then looked at my eyes and basically suggested that that had nothing to do with my chin. I said, "Don't you think I look better with make-up on?" He just grinned big, pointed to my work-out outfit, and then to my face - wordlessly saying, "Anybody whose anybody knows you don't need mascara and eye shadow to go to the gym". I laughed heartily and teased him that this is coming from the same kid who can't eat ANYTHING (from mustard to chocolate) without wearing it all over his face.....

Also, it needs to be pointed out, that in a fun conversation with Daddy on Monday night (when John was discouraged), Brayden had been asking about his childhood and how Daddy had messed around in school and was he ever worried he wouldn't pass his class. John said he wasn't so much a problem for his teachers, just very, very self-centered. Brayden raised his eyebrows and said, "Remind you of anyone?"......

With today being the last day of school, I can say, "we've made it" for another school year. Brayden woke up on his own this morning and is in an excellent funny mood - giving me hope that we're entering another wave of celebrating our very fun boy and having some of these major tensions abate for a while. It's clear that, as parents to this kind of kid, we HAVE to stay on him - making him re-do work that's not good enough, keep him focussed and active on long-term goals, help him from being self-absorbed, and most profound, really being aware of who he's spending time with as he is (supposedly) very easily influenced and will pick up anything he's exposed to (which I can already see.... the song he had stuck in his head from a "not so great influence" at school yesterday is evidence enough). But, for now, I'm ready to stop climbing the ladder and start saying "Weeeeeee" to the long slide that is life with our playful otter......

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Weather Bi-Polar

I think I have "Weather Bi-Polar" disorder. At least this time of year, anyway. Because honestly, where I can wake up and be "fine" on a day like today with clouds and overcast skies overhead - yesterday, when it was brilliant blue skies (or like it is often this time of year in Central Oregon), I wake up with a mood so much better than "fine". Pretty much, the mood matches the clarity of the skies....

Pathetic, I know. And, yes, one would think I should move if I'm this influenced by the weather. But, I guess it'll just be one of those "thorn in my side" things because I doubt if we'll ever move from the Eugene area until at the very least, both kids are married. And if then.....I still think we wouldn't leave - at least not permanently.

Anyone else this influenced by the weather?

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Perfect Small-Town Americana Experience

I like to joke that we got "roped" into going to the rodeo this last weekend. Rodeos have a kind of a dual feeling for me - I love the "good ol' boys" and country feel of the experience - but the idea of the animals being hurt appeals to that "mom legacy" within me. Fortunately, there was nothing of grave concern that happened, but to be nice to mom, I will limit the images John captured at the rodeo to those that are not so graphic.

The best part of the weekend was sitting on the main street of Sisters with the most brilliant blue skies imaginable - the Sisters mountains in the background - the kids all excited and animated - the adults walking out of coffee shops with espresso in hand - and then, finally, the Clydesdales coming down the road indicating the parade was on its way. I love the town of Sisters, it's so special and beautiful and the perfect backdrop to represent all things picturesque that would come with a pre-rodeo, small-town, summer parade.

The timing worked great to allow for us to cruise around Sisters (and stop at the bakery! =) ) and then converge into the city park for a picnic (and soccer and football throwing - I've got a jammed pinky finger to prove I participated in that) - and then, finally, to head on over to the rodeo grounds at one o'clock for the mid-day rodeo performance. It was warm, but I'm not complaining in the slightest - weather makes such a difference in my mood, and the weather on Saturday just had me ecstatic. Mikayla liked the barrel racing and rodeo queens the best, John and I were very impressed with the "one-arm bandit" - the cowboy that had the ability to train two buffalo to climb atop a trailer, and, of course, the bull riding was impressive. My only regret was not bringing some lemon juice.... the big draw for the rodeo to me was the Elephant Ears, and while they were good, they didn't dip them in butter first like I'm used to, so next year I'll have to bring some lemon juice and then use that and the powdered sugar shakers to make my own ideal treat (it almost always comes back to food for me, huh?!)

I also have to give kuddos to the new pool at Black Butte - very, very nice. It was the icing on the cake for the weekend - and I think we can safely say "we're in for next year!"