Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Final Day of 2009

As expected, a major storm came through. (And, I'm not just talking about the mess in the kids' room upstairs). From about 6am until 1pm, I'm guessing nearly a foot of snow fell. It then turned to rain, but because of the sheer volume of snow, it hardly made a dent in the white scene around us (but, it was much more depressing to look out and see).

The storm did succeed in preventing the Schilling family from leaving a day early. While I feel bad for Michael's family to miss out on their company for their annual New Year's Eve party, I'm thrilled that they got to stick around until the same time that we will leave tomorrow - and transplant our party to our house as we cheer on the Ducks for the Rose Bowl game on tv.

The common phrase amongst Michele, Stephie, and myself today has been, "Now you're not packing are you?". There's this frenzy that happens once someone shows signs of packing up and none of us are ready to go there. So, there's been plenty of laundry run through, and a bit of organizing, but much more savoring of the fine time of vacation we are having here.

With the snow coming down so heavy this morning, Michele finally went out to her car to grab her umbrella to keep the book from getting too wet. We just put together our list of "Things We'll Change for Next Year" (which really isn't that long, we are all quite pleased.....) - but on that list is a golf umbrella.... =)

There will be NO snow when we return home tomorrow. The forecast just shows a lot of rain. I'll really need to start using the "Glo Lamp" for SADD soon, but that's a worry for another day and not this happy ending to 2009!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Snowed In

At about this point in our Sunriver adventure, the hard reality that "this will all end soon" starts to set in. We depart early on Friday (so we can be home in time to catch the Rose Bowl - GO DUCKS!), so tomorrow will be our last full day. It will also involve a bit of packing up and perhaps some rain....(a major storm is coming in and we are hoping the precipitation continues to come down as snow, but it's looking a bit sketchy), so today is really the last full day of totally absorbing the vacation.

We deliberated on heading to the sled hill, but figured every other guest in Sunriver would also be there, so we opted on booting the kids outside to do their own non-sledding snow play and hole up in our house. The day was gorgeous, the snow continued until nearly noon and then brilliant blue skies illuminated all of the white to make it all sparkle.

Sydney can't get enough of this white stuff. I found myself amused on plenty of occasions in the hot tub when I'd make a snowball and she'd eat it out of my hand.

This is the chain leading water down the roof - as well as the dog tie we use to let the dogs out front.

If given the opportunity, both dogs would have happily jumped into the hot tub. We found out that Baxter did indeed "make the leap" yesterday when just the kids were playing in the hot tub- Nati confessed that little fact this afternoon.

Once it got dark, (and the kids and dogs had all found other sources of amusement), Michele hung out for a vast length of time. She practically lives out there.....

Here are some of the obligatory "Mikayla opening birthday presents" pics. I still can't believe my youngest is now eight. =(

One thing's for sure, with all of this opportunity for play time, our four-legged family members spend a big chunk of their time demonstrating "dog tired".

One of the presents that the girls received under the tree here was a "Paint by Numbers" set that they worked on this afternoon.

Okay, maybe Michele isn't the only who loves the hot tub.......

Hope you all are looking forward to your New Year's Eve and New Year's Day festivities.......

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

It Doesn't Show Signs of Stopping.....

.....but we've got some corn for popping, and since there's no place to go.....

And, oh by the way, Mikayla, how do you like this for a birthday present?! Happy birthday sweet, beautiful daughter of mine!

We are all safe and cozy after having ventured into Bend for some bowling celebration. It started snowing just a bit as we were driving out of Bend and only increased as we got closer to our house. Now it just keeps coming down and we all can't stop grinning.

While everyone was not exactly thrilled to have to pose for this picture - I'm so glad we took the quick pitstop to snap it. This is about a block's walking distance from our house.

Where we went bowling - and will probably return in years to come - a pretty fun little establishment.

On my first turn, as I threw the ball my foot slipped over the line and I ended up on my rear end due to the slippery wax. Nice way to start....

Brayden's second game was his best ever, he exceeded 100!

Some photo ops with the birthday girl.....

This was Michele celebrating another strike. I'm a bit bitter for her continuously one-upping me. She beat me on the first game by 4 points, and the second by 6......(the second game was her best score ever at 143)

And, you can use your imagination as to why this was taken - I was returning the balls to their place of storage - and yes, it was my own idea - though, for some reason, following this pose, the guys' game was temporarily off.....

Back at home - such a happy Syd. Her and Baxter especially love it - and frolic like crazy outside. Bogey only tolerates it - and for only short periods of time only because his two buddies are out there.

The boys dared themselves to run around the house 5 times. They got cold enough doing this that they are now warming themselves up out in the hot tub.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Sage Springs, Snow Suits, and Motostorm

Today was "Spa Day" for the girls. It's an indulgence we have a hard time justifying every year, but a source of such happiness, we just couldn't resist. We really tried to emphasize to our guys this year to have all the fun they could - no worries about messes, we wanted them to enjoy their day with the responsibility of the kids as much as they could.

Apparently (and expectedly), the kids were a non-issue - all of them having the merry fun that they do just being together and having all of the entertainment sources that they have at their disposal.

The guys did their share of gaming too - this is shot of Travis, Traig, and John playing Motorstorm.

And, a sweet one of the girls - all geared for the snow (we feel so blessed with the weather here - tomorrow is supposed to bring more snow and the temps haven't been above freezing - apparently, the day we leave, New Years Day - is the day they are expecting rain). God, thank You for your perfect timing and this gift to us!

And, here's an annual shot of the trio of us, happy as clams, spending our day divided into three ways.

Part one: in the hot tub (shown below), reading our books and chatting. Part two: eating our carefully selected "home lunch" of all of our favorite foods in the Tranquility Room. And Part three: receiving our service. Mine was called "Nirvana for the Back". It was a good day for a treatment as the headaches have been on the not-so-good side lately.

Tomorrow is Mikayla's birthday, and with it will come a trip to Bend to do some bowling. Our last day with a seven year old......sigh.........

Sunday, December 27, 2009

All Is Well

Sigh......LIFE IS SO GOOD!

I'm holed up in my bedroom right now as our internet connection is a bit spotty. For the record, I'll be updating our Christmas posts as Saturday and Sunday entries, so they will eventually come up in chronological order. But, first, I want to take the opportunity to celebrate the here and now.

We are in Sunriver. And we are so happy. The weather forecast showed little chance of snow both being on the ground and arriving while we were here. But, still, we tried to remain upbeat - at least it wouldn't be raining here like it had been the week before.

However, as we drove through Bend yesterday - it was if magic had descended upon the town and flocked everything white. Freezing fog had made the place a photographer's dream and it was just the cozy atmosphere that we dreamed for.

As we drove into our new house in Sunriver, we found that there was indeed a bit of snow on the ground - and even more as we traveled towards the river - where this was located.

We changed houses because the rates on our other one was going up too much - and knowing we'd have three dogs with us - we had to find a different house. Much to our surprise, we found this one (Stephie gets the credit), and from the looks of it on the internet, it was hard to understand why it would end up being cheaper than the other one. We booked it, and hoped for the best.

Our hopes were exceeded alright. So gorgeous. So perfect with room arrangements, gourmet kitchen, and hot tub, even the deck (at ground level) could be blocked off to let the dogs outside with some freedom.

And, then, this morning, I awoke at 6:15, to see new white all over the ground - with more coming down from the sky. I nearly cried!!! Hot tub + book + Russian Tea + chocolate chip cookies + snow falling = absolute happiness!!!!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Mom and Dad, Open That One Last......

By about noon on Christmas Day, both the Schillings and the Rileys were able to join our parents for the celebration there. First up on the schedule, was Christmas dinner. We put the girls to work (it's about time!) assembling the fruit skewers.

I worked on the gravy - we tried a new recipe in attempts to replicate the taste of KFC. =)

I believe Mom was working on the broccoli here.

And, Michele, well, she's always in charge of the mashed potatoes and in this picture, was expertly handling the biscuits.

Following the meal (in which we did an encore performance of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" with each person taking a part), we assembled for the family portrait. John had to use the wide-angle lens, so the folks on the ends look a little distorted.

FINALLY, (as far as the kids were concerned), we changed back into comfy clothes, disbursed the presents, and began opening. I love this expression of Nati with her new robe.

Despite the smirk, Traig was quite pleased with both his Beaver hat and the Duck Hunter game. I'm pleased I can take credit for both.

Dad's grinning about some sort of new tool.....

Mikayla found herself in her own little present-fort - a perfect place to sneak a cookie or two.

In case you remember from year's past, everyone takes the same exact places when we open presents. This is John's.......and every year, it is the pride of Michael and John to find a way to hide one present so that they always open last.

Seated next to John was Brayden, evidently pleased with this present.

Mikayla's helping me model two of my favorite presents. Have I mentioned lately that the Ducks are Rose Bowl bound?

Can't say the same for the Beavers. Their performance in Las Vegas was very deja vu-like of our performance in Boise. (Minus the Blount incident, of course).

Not to be left out, Ellie, was quite pleased with her Chixos.

The game John is holding in his hands has been, by far, the biggest hit in terms of Christmas toys. It's been the source of a lot of smack talk and a lot of woops, hollers, and oh-crud's. Basically, it's an off course racing game, playable for up to 4 players per unit, but even as I type this, an effort is being made to sync the Schillings new PS3 unit with ours. I really stunk at this game in the beginning, making it clear to everyone that I have dibs on 12th place (out of 12 racers in the game). However, just now, while playing against John, I won! I don't think I'll ever take Traig though, and boy does he let me and everyone else know that.....(though John is capable of taking him down a notch when necessary).

And, finally, the source of the title of this post. I was most excited for Christmas morning for just this reason. Around October, the group of us were able to put together a book for Mom and Dad filled with pictures and captions that encapsulate who each of the five grandkids are this year (along with a little interview we did with each of them). We titled it "Bragging Rights" and it also included a couple of sweet quotes and a little dedication.

Mom and Dad did not disappoint - and how thankful I am that John was able to capture the moments with his camera. I'm not sure if Mom will be so appreciative of the one where she's holding back tears, but then again, if John had aimed the camera at me at that moment, you would have seen the same expression.

Following all of the gift opening, comes the annual, "let's do a fashion show and try all this stuff on". John got Michele and I matching sweatshirts - those are keepers. =)

At the top of Brayden's Christmas request list was an acoustic guitar. John is hoping that Brayden and himself can take lessons from our buddy, Dave (as in Dave the Wave....).

And, speaking of instruments, how sweet it was to have Mom sit down and play the piano with Mikayla. Nati was also enjoying the experience.

The final picture taken of the day was of Traig and Mikayla doing a duet of "Jingle Bells" with their respective instruments that they both began this year. Traig is doing an exceptional job in band with his alto saxophone.

I know it sounds rather cliche, but truly, it was one of my favorite Christmases. And, I felt like, thanks to a tremendous start to the day, I was able to absorb every moment......