Thursday, July 31, 2008

Laundry Woes

When we purchased our washer and dryer, John and I agreed that it would be a very good idea to spend the extra money through Sears so that we would have an extended warranty and that if any problems were to arise, Sears Service Personnel would happily come to our house to either fix or replace the problem. We are VERY thankful we did that, as we aren't generally a very nice family to appliances.

We began having problems a while ago with the door-lock mechanism. Basically, the washer wouldn't start, and instead would flash a DL symbol that I later had deciphered as "Door Lock". A very nice gentleman came out a couple of weeks ago to give me that information, shake the wires around a bit and tell me that he hoped the problem was solved, but if it acts up again, they'll come back out and replace the part.

I was happy enough just to have my washer back, so I took it for granted that the problem would NOT come back. But, it did. And knowing that it was really a wire that wasn't connecting - I did my best to beat the machine (and door) into submission. It worked for a while, but pretty soon, nothing kicked it into gear....and upon further inspection I discovered the hinge was cracked as well as the latch. "Maybe they'll just replace the whole thing", I optimistically hoped.

While I'm happy that these guys that service our washer have both been nice and friendly - the inconvenience of having someone come out "sometime between 8 and 4" is a little crazy. I was pleased that they at least told us they'd call us about 15 minutes prior..... The first time the guy came out, it was around 5 pm, the time yesterday was around 8:45 am......

The diagnosis: Yes, our washer is sick. It's very sick. TWELVE different parts are being shipped to our house and the "surgery", er, I mean, repair will take at least three hours. No, they won't just replace the washing machine, I guess they rarely do it, despite how much more cost effective it might end up being for them. And, the clencher - the parts won't come in or repair happen until NEXT Friday.... the 8th of August.

That would be a time span of 12 days without the use of washing machine. Despite the fact that there are only 4 of us, we go through a LOT of laundry, so this is not good. The timing, however, is significant as we are leaving today and not returning until Sunday. Great, in that we won't be using the washer during that time, very bad in that we are camping and when we return, we won't be able to throw the clothes back in the dresser.... I might be taking an overnight trip to Michele's just to run at least 5 loads of laundry........

So, think of me this weekend when you run that next load - and I'll be back to posting this Sunday..... Have a good one! (And thanks again, Stephie, for letting me catch up before we leave with your washing machine.....!)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Date Night with Brayden

Last night, Brayden and I went to see "Journey to the Center of the Earth". Just him and I - Mikayla was too scared to go, and it's really not the kind of movie that John is dying to see. It allowed him to take his little princess on a date night as well.

We had gotten all of those free movie passes from the Safeway deal and, hard to believe, but we're already close to the time they expire (where has this summer gone?!). So, with the three we still had left (they expire Sunday) - we headed to the cinema, got our tickets and awarded the person behind us with the extra one. That always feels good to be able to do something like that.....

Brayden thought the movie was AWESOME - I enjoyed it as well. The 3-D effects were cool, but sometimes a bit distracting. I wouldn't say it's the best movie I've ever seen, but perfect for a date night.

Unfortunately, as we returned to my van in the parking lot, there was a pick-up parked next to it on the drivers' side. I noticed movement, and sure enough, there was a teen-age couple making out on the "bed" of the truck. They were positioned lower than the sides, so you wouldn't see them unless you walked right up, but given where I was parked, there was no avoiding it. ICK! I was able to get Brayden in on the passenger side, but trying to ignore them and make no noise at all for me to get in was akward indeed. And, then, of course, Brayden was gawking as soon as he got in the van. At least their clothes were still on..... PULEASEEE! If you are going to park and do that - pick a less populated parking spot!

As I've mentioned before, summer is a really good time with Brayden. Yes, he still pesters and messes with his sister - that's my number one issue with them - bugging each other - but, his mood is generally happy and pleasant. It certainly was last night. The pace and activity choices of summer are what Brayden's all about - so it's no surprise.

Lately, we've come up with an expression that kind of fits him as well. When we had Koda over a couple of weeks ago (a very active lab), Michele made the mistake of tossing a tennis ball to get Koda to leave us alone when we were "getting some sun" on the patio. Of course, this thrilled Koda and she returned with the saliva covered ball ready to have it thrown again. Michele was irritated, because Koda was relentless, but I pointed out, "your mistake - you threw the ball". That's the expression we now use with Brayden, because all it takes is something simple - some physical gesture of playful wrestling, or silly teasing with him - and there you go - you have a "Koda" - a kid who doesn't know when to stop, and wants to keep playing and playing and pushing it until you are exasperated. I'm pretty good at not feeding into this - I pride myself on anticipating probable futures based on passed experiences..... but Michele has fallen into this trap quite often and ends up asking for me to get him to stop. "You threw the ball, Michele....."

I'll tell you what, though, I'll take a "playful Koda" anyday over a brooding, stressed out boy that we often see in the mornings and afternoons of the school year. I've been doing a lot of praying - I sure hope this is the year where it all comes together in such a way that Brayden doesn't perceive school as such "work", but gains energy from it as well. Cuz, I will sure miss my "Summer Brayden" if that's not the case.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Sons of Thunder 2008

The accolades for the Father/Son retreat, "Sons of Thunder" just kept spilling forth from John and Brayden last night. This year, there was a huge showing of guys and their sons from our church, which is so rewarding for John, as this is a ministry he truly believes in. I don't think a single attendee regretted for one moment devoting the weekend to such an incredible time bonding with their son or dad.

On to the pictures, which will give a glimpse of how all of the "boys" spent their time:

Up first, Brayden fishing. He was up early with the big group of buddies that were all gung-ho for catching the "big one". John loves the stoic expression of Brayden here......
Traig snagged an 11 inch fish by 6:30 am, hence the big smile on his face-
One proud Andrew with his Daddy-
Andrew was reeling his fish in, here- notice all of those loving dads lined up.....
While Brayden may have gotten skunked in the fish department, he did catch himself another kind of wildlife.....
On to some of the team-building activities, Brayden being pulled up by buddy, Jonah, with all of the dads below offering assistance....
Ready and suited for paint ball-
Unlike Harlow, Tadmor does not have a swimming pool, but rather a big pond/mini-lake. This is one of the key attractions on the lake-
That is Brayden ready to jump that HUGE distance down -in order to send Traig (kind of) flying... I'm so impressed!
The height that Traig reached when John jumped down was record-reaching - in fact it made the end of retreat highlight DVD. Traig was thrilled by the experience!
This is Mark - the brave dad - who chose to dive in with the boys, and get absolutely filthy-
I just love this, boys being boys! (However, I'm still soaking the swim trunks in Oxyclean - the soaking water is very brown!)
I think this picture just screams Father/Son bonding, don't you?
Finally, a picture of John and Brayden prior to setting off for their "Blind-Man Walk" where they took turns leading each other on a rather difficult hike- John said Brayden did an amazing job leading him downhill, really communicating clearly and looking out for his daddy's needs. Also in the highlight DVD was a film clip of John talking with Brayden during their "Quiet Time" - with John laying down and Brayden leaning next to him. They were actually discussing spiritual things when it was taken - it was such a beautiful moment caught (without their knowledge) of them. John was explaining to Brayden about how God speaks to us. I think many of the men who attended the retreat experienced God speaking to them this last weekend.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Slow Grieving

This computer loss, as I suspected, will be a painful, long-term, process. Daily, I discover things that are gone now, that I had once thought were safe and secure - and mine to turn to and use, or re-look at, anytime I wanted to. Things like: our address labels, camping lists, special letters, and then, of course, the pictures.

It was with a sense of panic just now, that I just pulled out the hard-drive, that we had just bought - and had yet to transfer my "full" photo library over to. John had, however, and I was hoping - and believing, that the very special 4th of July family picture that we took was on it. Of course, I never uploaded it onto the blog, because it was that good - a fluke - that we were planning on using it for our Christmas picture. As far as we can tell, it is gone. I downloaded it onto my computer, and I'm not sure if John ever retrieved the photos to his.....

I have yet to cry over this whole ordeal, but right now I'm tempted. Those stupid, self-centered people have no idea what kind of pain they cause families when they steal a computer just for the sake of downloading $200 worth of explicit songs from I-tunes - and the cost of the computer. It is pointless, ruthless, and all too common. I've got to think they're probably not more than ten years older than my son, and I just wish I could have ten minutes with them strapped to a chair, forced to listen, while I gave them a piece of my mind - and perhaps a taste of grace too - because, with song choices such as those, I have to believe their lives have not been filled with an abundance of "true" love.

But, in the meantime, I feel like having a pity-party. I'm angry and sad and very disappointed. Of course, this whole thing could have been so much worse, but knowing my computer is probably being stripped or handed off to some other punk - with all of my library of precious family photos and i-tunes filled with Christian music - it just makes my heart hurt.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Pedicures and P.F. Chang's

Birthdays are always a good excuse for indulgence, so we use our birthday and its appropriate timing in the middle of summer to drag our 3 best buddies to our local spa and have a pedicure. Because Bello has re-located, we are now able to have all five of our service simultaneously - and probably because of our "loud-ness" in the past - they now have the pedicure room completely shut off from the rest of the area, so the "tranquility" of the spa is not lost on our silly conversations! Lisa was so relaxed this time, she nodded off twice (we wouldn't have known if she hadn't admitted it, but it was pretty obvious she was in her own little world- apparently, our being loud didn't affect her!). Needless to say, it IS an indulgence, but a little piece of escape that is quite heavenly.

Michele had yet to enjoy P.F. Chang's, and since it was on my list of "summer things to do" - we headed over there afterwards to dine alfresco on the enclosed patio. Michele was delighted with my food suggestions - yet another restaurant where the twins end up saying, "Yeah, I'll have exactly the same as her"..... Two more friends joined us, it was a wonderful lunch.

As for our girls - they spent the morning and early afternoon with Grandpa and Grandma - taking walks, riding horses, picking (and EATING) blueberries, and then heading to Chuck E. Cheeses. Oh yeah, they had a WONDERFUL day..... (Thanks again Mom and Dad!)

We are now lounging around watching "Scooby Doo" with the girls as we just finished re-watching both "High School Musicals" (Do I admit that that was our choice and not the kids'? I completely forgot to put those two on my list of movies I can watch over and over).

Where are the boys, you might be wondering? Well, they are with their daddies this weekend for the "Sons of Thunder" Father/Son retreat at Camp Tadmor. We both got phone calls from our hubbies this evening - each reporting a grand time. Apparently one of the highlights was all of the boys "bathing" in mud.....(I guess Mark was the brave father that joined them). Of course, being the mom that I am, one of my first responses was, "What was Brayden wearing [that is now ruined]?" John quickly corrected me in letting me know that that isn't the point of this weekend...... I deserved correction, but couldn't help myself for asking! They'll be home tomorrow, so be prepared for lots of pictures as John took his camera and I'm sure filled the memory card.....

Friday, July 25, 2008

Tagged by Linda

Please, everyone, don't stop offering advice on the previous post, if you haven't already done so. Great words of wisdom that I'm excited to have in published form for my kids to refer to someday....

Linda, my buddy that I've talked to way more over the web than ever in person, tagged me for this. I might have already done it, but probably varied my answers from two years ago....

Four jobs I've had:

-Health teacher in middle school (yes, that included teaching sex-ed!)
-Head Cafeteria Cook at Canyon Village in Yellowstone
-Dancing Server (when the right songs came on) at Ford Grill (no longer in business) Family Restaurant in Springfield
-Morning Custodian at Splash Swim Center (cleaned gunk out of swim drains - disgusting didn't begin to describe it)

Four movies I can watch over and over:
-You've Got Mail (yes, I cry too over the same scene)
-Miracle on 34th Street (new version - and I cry as soon as they start putting signs up saying "We Believe")
-The Incredibles
-Any of "The Santa Clause" movies

Four places I’ve lived:
-Mohawk Valley, OR (where I grew up)
-Canyon Village, Yellowstone National Park (for a summer)
-Kisumu, Kenya (East Africa - while engaged to "Lance" - for 7 weeks)
-Monmouth, Independence, and Salem, OR - (while in college)

Four TV shows I love:
-LOST!!! (right there with you, again!)
-American Idol
-Stargate and Stargate Atlantis (yes, now it is out there, I am a sci-fi fan, and no longer a closet one)

Four places I’ve vacationed:
-Maui, Hawaii
-Aruba (while on Travis and Stephanie's honeymoon!)
-Lake Tahoe (Linda, you'll have to tell me about your feelings of San Antonia - considering a 4 day trip there next spring)

Four of my favorite dishes:
-KFC Honey Bar-B-Q chicken
-Chicken Enchiladas
-Chili and Cornbread (if it happens traditionally on Halloween)
-Teriyaki Chicken

Four sites I visit daily:
-my bank account
-all of my blog friends

Four places I would rather be right now:
-Hula Grill in Maui
-In Jackson Hole, WY
-Splash Mountain, Disneyland
-Hot tub in Sunriver

4 Blogger friends I tag for this:
Heather (my friend from high school)
Hollie (who I wished still lived here)
Colie (a friend in Corvallis - among Michele's first group of high school girls that she led a Bible Study with in her church)
Bonnie (a new Blogger friend in Colorado)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Seeking Advice

I just finished a sweet little romance book - written in 3rd person but semi chic-lit. The book is called, "The Guy I'm Not Dating" and the plot is written around the girl's attempt at "Kissing Dating Good-Bye" - the non-dating approach made popular by Joshua Harris. I think I agree with that concept, probably more than most, but also felt like the terminology of what makes a couple dating or non-dating isn't as much important as their like minded attitude towards their relationship or future.

It got me thinking, however, as to what advice you would feel important to pass on to your kids- or children you know, from your own experiences or those that you've encountered regarding dating, engagement, and getting married. As most of you know, these blog posts eventually get turned into an annual book for our family, so as you post comments, I'll eventually move them onto the post so they will make it in to the book. (As the program currently works, comments are never published). I'd love for my kids to read over them now and then - and hopefully pay attention!

Stephieanne's advice: Do not get engaged (or stay engaged) unless the couple actually has a wedding date in mind (0r approx. date). The man I was engaged to prior to John, actually canceled our original wedding date, because "he just wasn't sure", but still desired to remain engaged. It left me in a terrible place of wandering - a no-man's-land of technically being engaged but not certain if my fiance ever wanted to go through with a wedding. It was miserable and caused a great deal of insecurity.

Also, never settle. I think my mantra to this is, a life of singleness, as lonely as it may feel from time to time, is infinitely better than feeling trapped in a marriage that feels like a dead-end or tears you down emotionally (or even worse). I know of more than one story of a bride walking down the aisle, wondering if they were making the right decision. That's pretty scary.....

What's your advice?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Number Thirty-Six

There's pros and cons to sharing your birthday with a twin. The con, of course, would be that there is no one day in the year devoted just to you. I mean, even Mothers' Day we are still celebrating OUR mothers. But, as I'm a person who does not enjoy being the sole center of attention, I very much appreciate this con. And, as for the pro - with another person sharing this day, it gives double the reason to celebrate - and always someone to celebrate with. We like that a lot!

So, despite our best planning last year, the actual "day-of-our-birthday" was kind of a bust. We tried to make it special, but it was a weekend, folks were tired - and it just kind of felt flat. This year, the day landed on a Tuesday which meant it was up to just Michele and I (and kids) to do the celebrating - we kind of went with the flow - and it totally worked.

Who would have thought, that deciding to head to the beach would have profited us such great weather compared to the valley? Lincoln City was gorgeous..... This is a picture of Taft Street, I've actually never been down it, and to the Mo's in this town - but, that's where Michele wanted to eat, so that's where we went.
Mo's (at different locations....) brings back a lot of memories- eating there with so many different people in our life. It was hugely crowded at 2:30 on a Tuesday, obviously, we're not the only ones who like their food.
Not a terrible picture of the five of them - someday, we'll nail it.
John would be proud of me - in true Riley fashion, I asked our server if "you do anything special for twins turning 36 today?" She smiled big and said she'd come out with a surprise. We were rewarded with marionberry cobbler and ice cream on the house. She was rewarded with a bigger tip.....
Outside of Mo's the kids liked the rocks - a great shot of our "all too big" boys
And, the current desktop picture on my laptop-
Finally, around four, we hit the beach. The longer the day went on, the warmer it got. We didn't leave until nearly 6.
They started out tentative, but once they started getting wet, they went for it. That water was SO COLD - they are troopers to do what they did.
Unfortunately, Brayden lost his footing (a couple of times) and ended up drenched-
Mikayla was not too far behind-
Happy birthday, "best sis in the world" - you are one blessed woman:
This was stop #2 after the waves - getting filthy in the creek. Stop #3, which I don't have a picture of, had them climbing the sand/clay hillside and running/rolling down it. Needless to say, their clothes will never be the same (we did pack smart, though - been down this road a few times, so they all had warm sweats to change into when we returned).
On the way home, Mikayla asked if I'd had a good birthday - she probably asked five different times yesterday. I said, "Oh Yeah, not bad for a couple of moms, huh?" She said, "Uh huh". Ellie said it was her favorite birthday out of all of them - even better than hers.....

I agree. Really, one of my favorite "day-of birthdays". Maybe because the expectations were lower, the day had to get better. But, really, for me, I think it was because of the huge amount of tangible expressions of love from those who know me. Whether it was the kids - so selfless towards me yesterday - huge!, or the many Happy Birthday songs sung over my cell phone (try saying that five times fast) - or the expressions through emails or comments - I just really felt loved. It's a great birthday present.....

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fresh Start

Thank you everyone for your encouraging comments.  I had lots of dreams last night of losing my vehicle, computer - and more or less my mind in attempts to figure out where I misplaced them all.  At least, when I woke up, I was already used to the idea that my computer was indeed gone and we had been robbed.

I also appreciate everyone's sympathy regarding locking the doors.  That's one of the hardest things about the whole thing - I'd almost rather they smashed a window or something so I wouldn't feel the blame.  But, getting everyone's input has really helped ease my conscious..... thank you.

So, as Heather eluded to - today is our birthday.  We had originally planned to go back to the Aquatic Center, but the last thing I did on my old computer (boo-hoo-hoo!!!) was check the weather for today and it didn't look pretty.  Sure enough, we woke up to rain - not the first time, and not the last it will happen on our birthday - but, rare nonetheless.  

Yesterday, Michele and I made the decision to meet at her house and then head to Lincoln City - which is exactly what we chose to do.  I'll address that in the next post.  But, first, I got to meet my hubby with the kids at the Original Pancake House and have my favorite cherry crepes.  The kids were in such sweet moods this morning - it was so rewarding, and pretty much the best gift I could ask for from them.  They were so concerned about my welfare - I think I'll give a few examples at the end of the post.  (Can you tell I have a lot to say, and can't keep up with my thoughts?)

So, when we arrived at the restaurant, John was already waiting and there was a Starbucks bag on the table.  "That's sweet", I thought, and probably right up our budget right now as far as gift giving goes.  However, the present wasn't from him, the Starbucks Biscotti and Flower Mug was actually from one of the employees at the location John went earlier this morning for his quiet time.  John got to talking with her, told her what happened yesterday and that today was my birthday, and she put together a present for me.  I've never even met her!  Very honoring. 

John then handed me print-outs of my emails and comments you left for my previous post as he knew I wouldn't be able to check them this morning.   What a man.  And then finally, he gave me this:
Yes, inside this very cool bag is the new laptop I'm using right now.  That man of mine had already gone down to the Mac Store, notified and consulted with our Home Owner's Insurance, and reported to the police department the serial number of my old computer.   He had determined that if we kept our claim under a thousand dollars, our rates would not increase, and by the time we pay the minimal deductible, it would just work to go ahead and purchase the new version of my old laptop.  (And that includes "AppleCare" too - oh yeah, they'll pay for all of the problems that come up for three years).  

So, essentially, I walked into that restaurant with a bit of a downer attitude, and walked out with a fresh start.  Because of the encouragement of you all and my friends that had emailed, I found a fresh perspective on the big picture when these sorts of hardships happen - and because of my incredible husband, I got a fresh sense of purpose with the excitement of starting all over, with my brand new baby.  The day got better and better after that - amazing what a change.....

Regarding the kids - both of them woke up with the first words on their mouths - "Happy Birthday Mommy" - complete with hugs.

When Brayden realized we had left his Nintendo DS (a very prized possession) home when we were already en-route to breakfast (and had planned to be en-route to Michele's) I asked him if it was important enough to go home.  He said, "It is, but it's up to you, Mommy, it's your birthday, so whatever YOU want to do..."  With that attitude, I decided we'd be making a little pitstop back at the house before heading to Michele's.....  (Besides, it gave me another chance to double-check all of the doors being locked!!!!)

Later, in the car on the way up north, Brayden asked if it had been a good birthday for me so far.  I said, "Yes, and it means a ton that you are asking".  He said, "this morning, while I was taking my shower, I almost cried because I was so happy for you".  I said, "I'm almost crying because you are telling me this!"  Way too sweet - and a while it is a side we see from time to time from Brayden, it always takes us by surprise.  So, here I am, recording it for it to be remembered forever.  He actually cuddled next to me when I went to bed last night - and ended up falling asleep.  His presence eased my heart and put me to sleep- he gave lots of special gifts to me this birthday.....

Monday, July 21, 2008


I'm writing to you from John's computer right now - mine is gone.  Probably forever gone. Stolen from off of our living room couch while I was gone from the house today.  Yes, some stranger was inside my house and took things - the idea makes me sick.

We know for sure that the computer wasn't just misplaced - we did a family search for it and while doing so found some of John's "wallet contents" scattered on the far side of the bed - and the valet-container that holds those "extras" (that are too bulky to keep in his wallet) was gone - along with his change, receipts, etc.  No doubt about it, we were robbed.*

To make things even worse, I realized when I left the house at noon today that my car had been invaded last night (this was before the house thing....).   It ticked me off, mostly at myself for not locking it, but fortunately nothing of value was in there, so outside of having to clean up the mess and swallow my stupidity (how many times does this happen before I learn?)- it was not that big of a deal.  (Somebody somewhere, though, has my Hannah Montanna, School House Rock, Mikayla's Choir songs, and VBS CD's.....)

But, the house thing - oh, that's a whole different level.  Yes, the front door was unlocked.  It generally is.  I feel VERY safe in this neighborhood during the day, people are always outside, especially in the summer- we all look out for each other.  Who would have the audacity?

So, now, locking doors, every one of them, will be a habit that every family member will be responsible for.  Always at night, that's never been an issue, but also during the day.  And, now, I find myself feeling incredibly stupid as well as very sad.   While this blog is online (Hallelujiah!) along with the countless pictures I've posted (I'll never apologize again for posting too many!) - the Hard-drive of my laptop is what contained my thousands of i-photo pictures.... as well as numerous documents, letters, lists, plans, etc. that were preserved from my Word documents.   Quite likely, never to be retrieved.  This just SUCKS!!!!

The police will be coming by soon - we'll fill out our report and I'll have to own up to having both of my personal spaces invaded within 24 hours because I didn't feel the need to lock-up- and then we'll put this whole thing behind us and move on.   Eventually.......

* A big praise that those were the only two things we can see that were stolen.  None of the video game equipment was taken, none of Brayden's signed sports memorabilia, etc.  It was obviously a very quick in and out grab - what I can't figure out is how they got around Sydney who was inside all day long......  Wish we could talk to her-

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Boy and His Dog

I couldn't resist posting these - my friend, Amy, sent them to me. Jackson will be 5 in September, and their pug, "Champ" is about 6 months old. These are just too precious!!!! I think Amy needs to submit them to some sort of photo contest.....

Saturday, July 19, 2008

"More" and "All Done"

While Brayden spoke very early for a baby, Mikayla was much more average in learning to vocalize her needs, and because of that, we taught her a handful of sign language motions to communicate. Some of our favorites that we still use today (in fun) are "More" and "All Done". I love the "All Done" especially, something about waving your hands around is just fun (and memorable in a special way).

Those were two signs that we should have put into implementation today as it could have saved us all some vocal energy. The kids would be the ones communicating "More" and the adults would have been expressing, "All Done".

It's been 12 days in a row that Michele and I's children have been together. You'd think they'd be tired of it, but outside of the Schilling kids missing their daddy - I think they'd pretty much be okay to go on endlessly. The problem is, though, is that when they're all together, the fun and energy definitely rises up several notches. While we look to find some sort of routine together (particularly in the morning and evenings of camp), we just never quite find a rhythm that flows at a pace we could continue endlessly. Which means BIG fun for the kids, BIG tired for everyone, and BIG let-down when it all ends.

Today was the last day together. The Schillings left at around 4:30, but before leaving, we had to make sure the day matched the pace of the previous (nearly) two weeks. We took the boat out and since Cottage Grove Lake was so choppy, we thought the innertube would be the best use of our time. Traig, Nati, and Brayden rotated through the two seats and finally, all three were on at the same time (Traig and Nati sat in bob-sled position so they could both hold the handles). I'm guessing they were out there for over an hour and a half (through all the rotations) - grinning ear to ear, yelling for more and more. Those three surprised us with their increased courage level in thrill seeking (not sure if that's a good thing) - even a month ago they would not have wanted John to take the boat nearly as fast or get the tube to jump at all. (We're still talking MUCH SAFER than what you often see on a lake - especially since the kids are actually seated and have secure positions within the tube). However, one particular wave bounced the tube just right - and out flopped all three children. We whipped the boat around in concern to pick them up only to find them pumping their arms in exuberance yelling, "That was awesome!", "Let's do it again!" and "More!". That's when we responded, "All Done"! Good grief, kids, what does it take to get you to realize, enough is enough?

But, I don't know if they, as kids, are even capable of grasping that thought, as it seems us adults quite often can't grasp it either. If something brings pleasure or happiness, why wouldn't we want it to continue indefinitely? Michele and I fought that all week, dealing with our up and down emotions in a week where we felt like we should be "making the absolute most of every moment" - as it would be "all done" all too soon.

Which brings me right back to that personal favorite of Heather's blog - sometimes, "More" is not always better, and "All Done" can be a very good thing. Even when it doesn't always feel that way.......

Friday, July 18, 2008

Visiting Vivian

As I mentioned in the last post, our goal for Thursday was to go for a hike. I looked through some websites for various local hikes, but I think the big desire was to feel like we had escaped the landscape of Eugene and had reached a place feeling remote and in the mountains. We agreed to start out at Salt Creek Falls (between Oakridge and Willamette Pass) and venture forth on the wilderness trails from there. We chose Vivian Lake, which if you do the math, and considering it took us a 1/4 mile to get to this sign, was a 5 mile hike. Roundtrip - that'd be 10 miles. We had read that it would be predominately uphill on the way there, climbing 1500 feet in elevation - a "moderate" hike. We wondered what "strenuous" is as there was some serious inclines. Made even more obvious when we headed back down. Obviously, we were very pleased that the incline was on the way there.....Along the way, we found ourselves at Fall Creek Falls - this picture doesn't do it justice - so pretty.
As we kept climbing, it was no surprise that we hit snow. This is actually at the lake. We kind of lost the trail once or twice because of the snow - it's a good thing we didn't have to go any higher.
I had to set the timer on the pictures taken of the two of us, and this rock was downhill and through the snow from the camera, so the 10 seconds to get to the rock were not enough! As a result, the picture shows me barely getting there..... At the lake, we had lunch and read our books - in total tranquility (we didn't encounter ANYONE on our hike). We laughed that it took 5 miles of hiking to find a place to read our books in peace.
For many reasons, the way back was much more fun. We had talked about devoting some time to prayer, and Michele and I got carried away - lifting up praises, things we were thankful for, even things we knew we'd been messing up and asking forgiveness for. It's hard to put the experience into words, and I don't feel like I need to, suffice to say, it was one of the most rewarding times Michele and I have had in a very long time.

This is a picture of Diamond Creek Falls that we took on the way back:
Finally, this shows Michele pointing to the Salt Creek Falls Look-Out on the other side of the canyon - where we had started out to begin with. We were about half way back at this point - it felt pretty impressive. However, we both felt very humbled considering our total of ten miles is merely a tenth of the total distance of what my two brother-in-laws (Jeff and Tom) do on a regular basis in their ultra-marathons - and they do it at a run. Unbelievable.... ("we're not worthy, we're not worthy!")

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Odds and Ends

Alright, I'm reluctant to actually admit this, and John believes it's a bit of a lie-filled conspiracy, but Michele and I both think that the weeks that we've had half the kids - or in half day camps are more rewarding than this week that they're all gone. Something about feeling a little lost without them to boss around..... Hope this isn't indicative of what days will be like when they're out of the house.....

That being said, though - we're trying to make the best of it! =) Today we went to Applebees and then hit the Dollar Theater for "What Happens in Vegas" with Lisa. LOVED the movie!!! A great flick to hit with the girls or your date - there were lots of laugh out loud moments through the movie - and while it is not a kid movie, I didn't walk away cringing either.

Tomorrow, we'll hang at the pool - and then I think we'll head out for a long hike on Thursday, and a little Joe's and Costco shopping on Friday. I'm sure many of you are thinking we should be doing something far more exciting - feel free to share your ideas.....

I'm so happy to share that my buddy, Heather, has restarted her blog, and I am really enjoying it. She's providing a lot of opportunities for writing as well as "deep thoughts" - check it out, I think you'll enjoy it too. I especially loved the truth behind her "ebb and flow" post. For those of you that don't know - Heather and I (and Michele!) have been friends since meeting in middle school - it's only been in the last couple of years that we've caught up via the internet and what a joy. As much evil that can happen on the web, it's amazing how much victory is being won here as well - particularly through the bonding and prayers that happen as a result of blogging.

The kids are all having a blast at camp. Ironically, the boys' counselor-apprentice is none other than the son of Solace Girl. The kids love him. I just can't believe their stamina - you'd think they'd head straight for bed as soon as we come home - but no, they are out on their bikes and scooters and we're lucky to have them asleep by 9:30. (Currently, we are watching our summer favorite tv show - "Wipeout").

I think I'll close this out as I need to finish the novel I'm currently reading so I can savor the one that I've been waiting for, for over a year. It's the third and last installment of a three-book Christian suspense/thriller series.... Such a rough life I have.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Five kids, for five days, gone from eight in the morning until after five......

Yes, officially, "Mommy Vacation" has begun......

Getting Soaked

For this post, I thought I'd just add captions to the pictures. We arrived "on time", but not early, which meant that we were one of the last parties on the jet boat. That meant that our group was split up five ways - John and Brayden first row, Michael and Traig third row, Michele and I fourth row, Nati and Mikayla fifth row (we were proud of them choosing to sit by themselves), and Travis, Stephie and Ellie behind them. We all had "aisle seats" which pretty much meant that we could expect to get even wetter than everyone else.....
Brayden LOVED his seating assignment, and on a couple of occasions the water flooded in right at the base of the window completely drenching him. That made him the center of attention, and there you have it, one happy kid.
This is a picture of one of the three pairs of bald eagles that live on the Hellgate route. So very impressive.....
And, this is the point in which we turn around - the actual Hellgate canyon - the water here is 130 feet deep.
A picture of our crew, Stephie is blocked by my head. Our captain was very cool - better than last year, and we thought that guy was great......
Mikayla and I, posing in front of the "OK Corral" - the location where they serve brunch and dinners. The owners put two million dollars into renovating it a couple of years ago - and it is just gorgeous.
We expected to have to find our own seats and walk through a long buffet line - instead we had reserved seating (for us, our own table) and were served fresh fruit, biscuits and gravy, sweet breads, country potatoes, bacon, sausage links, orange juice, coffee, and champagne by a waitress.
Clearly, Traig enjoyed the cantaloupe....

Now Ellie, THAT is a great smile!

Natalia loves her sparkling cider.....
After brunch, on the way home, there is a lot more water drenching moves, which was great timing, as by then, the temperatures had reached nearly triple digits.... Can you say "drowned rats"?