Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Prayer for Megan

I just got off the phone with my friend, Nancy. She was giving me the latest details of the current condition of one of her daughter's best friend - Megan.

Megan has been at OHSU (the top hospital in Oregon) for the last two and a half weeks with a liver that is literally failing. They have done every test in the book to try to figure out why, without answer.

Megan is 11 years old. She is a wonderful girl, she was able to attend our camping trip last year as a guest of Madison (Nancy's daughter). She is very loved by her peers, a huge contributor to their close-knit soccer team, and on and on. Needless to say, this whole thing is impacting a huge number of people.

It's probable that Megan will be requiring a private plane to transport her to Stanford to prepare for a liver transplant, not to mention procedures that will boost her blood marrow or prevent blood clotting (which is at a very high risk now).

So, I'm asking my faithful readers to lift a prayer up for sweet Megan to get the help and healing she needs, for peace for her family, and for all of the glory to be given to God through this experience.

Monday, March 30, 2009

One Last Spring Break Hurrah

Whew, I'm exhausted! After spending so much of spring break on my rear end on the couch, eating, reading, or working on the computer, a day full of activity (plus one heck of a sneezing cold) has me completely wiped out.

As I think I've said before, our kids' school district makes it a habit of extending both winter and spring break out to include the Monday following the week. I like it; I'm sure it's helpful for the teachers (it's a work day for them) and makes for an easier transition to reality. So, with all of our company (Michele, the cousins, and the two extra dogs) having left last night, I decided we'd plan something special for just Brayden, Mikayla, Sydney and myself.

First stop was the Sweet Creek Falls hike. Have that Dramamine handy because the 11 miles it takes to get to this trailhead from the main highway are windy indeed. Mikayla was very ready to flee the confines of the car, but fortunately, there were no "incidents". I think the kids agreed it was beautiful and worth the potential nauseousness. This hike is on the way to the coast - so all of the vegetation is very green - and because of the season, the waterfalls along the hike are especially impressive. It's a two mile hike roundtrip. Along the way, Brayden found a friend- "Joey" the salamander and Mikayla pointed out some very vibrant yellow plants (that we noticed an entire pasture later filled with).

Next stop - Florence. This left me with a decision. Do I drive the 11 miles back to the main road, and then drive the 14 miles along the main route to reach Florence? Or, do I take the "Route 24" single lane road - just a mile from the trailhead and get to Florence in only 19 miles? Well, as we all know, the shorter distance is not necessarily the best indicator for the fastest route - but I took a chance anyway, knowing that we were guaranteed 10 miles of curves - so 9 more wouldn't kill us. As luck would have it, we passed a family-loaded vehicle (the only car we saw) about a mile in that reassured me that it was a nice trip - and the road was passable. Sure enough, we drove high up into the coast range and saw the most amazing views. It was windy, but Mikayla had fallen asleep, so we were all okay. The road plopped us out south of Florence - on the road where Camp Baker (smiles to Melanie and Angie!) is - and across the highway from Honeyman. Crazy, as I knew we'd end up close to Florence, but no idea how we'd actually get to there.

Next up, Mo's - with root beer floats for all - and then to the beach. Mikayla spent her time collecting seashells while Brayden chased after Sydney - or the other way around. When they say dogs must be on leashes, is it necessary for the leash to be attached to the dog owner's hands?

Finally, we ended up at BJ's for some ice cream cones to satisfy us on the way home. (Yeah, yeah, I know - we already got ice cream at lunch, the "positive eating" begins tomorrow....)

Whether it was the first day back for you, or last day of break - hope it was a good one....

Friday, March 27, 2009

Kids, It's 63 Degrees, Not 83 Degrees!

Yes, that's a sprinkler turned on underneath the trampoline. They started begging to turn the water on around 2pm. Michele and I did NOT want to deal with the cold water mess (and three dogs potentially getting filthy too), so we told them that we'd only say, "Yes" if it got to seventy degrees. No chance, but that didn't stop them from coming in every two minutes to check to see if the temperature had increased from 63 degrees.

We tried to placate them by telling them we'd go out and jump with them, and that did make them happy. It also made us realize just how warm it did feel, especially with all of the jumping exertion. So, we buckled.

It's 6:30 and after getting menus we designed for them to choose from for dinner (times are tough - would like to treat you guys to a restaurant experience, but this will have to do - they really got a kick out of it and their opportunities for custom milkshakes), they are back on that trampoline. Making the most of this one gorgeous, rain-free day of the week.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom!

Mom's birthday just always seems to land right in the middle of spring break. In the last couple of years, it's given Michele a great excuse to return back down to my house for the rest of the vacation so we can celebrate Mom together. Today was no exception, we all met up at Original Pancake House to feast on amazing breakfast foods and center our attention on Mom (the kids only partially got that memo - mine were a bit busy arguing amongst themselves). We did take a pretty good group picture though:

Here's Mom reading her card. It was a funny card - suggesting something to the effect that the big obstacle on a birthday is not blowing out the candles, but rather not leaving boop prints on the cake when you lean over. It's something the three of us moms can relate to...
I do feel bad that Mom's next stop after breakfast was Urgent Care to get a prescription for a sinus infection, poor thing. However, since she just returned from Maui, my sympathy only runs so deep....


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The End of Sports Camp

We're in the group's final hours. It's AMAZINGLY quiet in this house, I think the kids are officially worn out. Last night, Brayden came downstairs at nearly midnight telling me, "I don't think we did a very good job winding down". Apparently the three older boys all slumbering in Traig's room had stayed up watching a movie after we all went to bed. He wanted to cuddle next to me in order to fall asleep. Move over, Baxter, we got another boy wanting some attention....

We did manage to have some quiet time last night when we played "Bolt". We demanded "theater behavior" and gave each child a labeled bowl with snacks - it worked out very well and gave us a taste of a relaxing evening.

Finally, on to some pictures of the finale of Sports Camp. They do a really neat job of summing up the three days in a slide show - and allow those that participated in the Cheer group to do their routine (all of the girls). Sometimes they pull some kids up to recite the verse of the week, or to prove a ministry point that was emphasized during the week. Last year, Brayden was brought up to reinforce the benefits of selflessly giving to others. This year, he volunteered with three others to recite his verse (Jeremiah 29:11-12). One thing you can say, he's not a very shy boy.

I'd hope that all the kids would say they've had a lot of fun these last three days. I know that us moms appreciated the 3 hour reprieve each morning, knowing our kids were getting exercise and encouragement about walking their lives with the Lord.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Should We Start Our Own TLC Show?

I've read that TLC is about to launch another show - a family of ten, I think - sextuplets and two sets of twins. They've apparently found success with shows demonstrating the oddities of raising large amounts of kids at once. While our group wouldn't qualify because we really don't live like this on a normal basis, it is kind of a wonder how 4 moms make it work with 10 children for 3 days. It's group feedings, group discipline, group rules.....but, somehow, at least in the short term, it works.

We snapped a picture of all of them (sans Adam- who was eating at the counter) eating their spaghetti last night. Guess who has to be constantly reminded to sit down and stop playing (yup my son!)

Yesterday, the whole lot of them spent most of the afternoon putting together a 5 act play centering around the marriage of Jackson to Ellie. Act 1: The Wedding, Act 2: The First Night (yes, we were nervous about this, but pretty much, it was just them checking in to the hotel and snuggling with blankets), Act 3: Dinner and Dessert, Act 4: The Pool, and Act 5: The Dance Party. Ellie and Jackson are both 5, and as I have mentioned before, both have quite a thing for each other which has obviously been encouraged by the other kids. While we weren't thrilled with the concept of so much attention given to their relationship, it was pretty impressive that 10 kids kept themselves so busy with creating a play that involved such creativity, different parts for everyone, and an actual storyline. (Previous "plays" that they've put on for us at these group events have been nearly excruciating to sit through).

Here's a group shot of the kiddos prior to attending camp this morning - Amy's camera was being a little difficult, so it's a touch blurry - but you get the gist.

And, finally, as Baxter has become such a point of interest to many of you (I get it, he's irresistable) - Here's some pics of him enjoying being the center of attention while the kids are at camp. I'm having a bit of a jealousy issue as he's taken quite a liking to Lisa and Amy, and I thought I was his favorite....but, I'm coping.

Finally, here's a P.S. addition, a picture of all of the kids prior to going to the indoor Aquatic Center across the street from Michele's house. I bonded with Mikayla around and around the "lazy river" and impressed Brayden by being willing to give a try on the rope swing. (I held on, unlike my attempts 8 years ago while vacationing in Aruba - what an embarrassing display....)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Spring Break Has Arrived

I'm sitting in Michele's living room with Lisa, Amy, Michele and myself - and all ten kids are engaged in activities in the MegaSports camp sponsored by a nearby church and taking place at the elementary school right around the corner from Michele's house. The older boys are in basketball, the girls are in cheer/dance, and Jackson is in soccer. The camp runs Monday through Wednesday, from 8:30-12:00, and offers quite a break for us moms.

So, I feel like we've arrived. We still woke up to frost - and had rain mixed with snow yesterday, but that's pretty typical for Oregon.

Brayden is as giddy as Brayden gets - lots of time with his best friends right now, without any expectations placed upon him. Good times - too bad it can't last.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Five Kids and Three Dogs

I can definitely empathize with Linda's post in which she described being a little bummed out about "being left behind" to dogsit and, in my case, kid-sit. As of yesterday, at about 1, John and I were given the responsibility of the Schilling kiddos - as Michele and Michael are at a high school church retreat at the coast. Along with the kids came Baxter the puggle - and earlier this week, Koda the lab arrived - the same dog Linda will have for four days while we are gone to Michele's.

The dogs get along quite well. However, Sydney is obviously exasperated with all the attention being diverted away from her. She reminds me of myself sometimes; she's taken to crawling under the side coffee table just to "get away from it all". I relate, honey...

Things were getting a little stir-crazy by mid-day today. Yesterday, the rain had stayed away enough for them to spend a fair amount of time outside, but today, it's been pretty wet. Finally, the clouds broke just long enough for me to walk the whole lot of them down to the school. (John was at a lunch meeting).

This is crazy Koda in her classic happy pose - awaiting (not so patiently) for somebody to chuck the ball. She is relentless in this activity. I can't believe the energy this dog has.

The three girls looking quite innocent. Yesterday, they got quite a tongue-lashing from me discovering them making "cupcakes" with whip cream, food coloring, sprinkles - and yes, lighting birthday candles to go on top - all by theirselves in the kitchen. Not good.

And, our lovable dog. Not too interested in the ball, semi-interested in chasing Koda, but not having nearly the stamina as her. Instead, she seeks out the dirtiest place in the playground and rolls....

Sydney got in the way of this cute shot of Brayden and Baxter. Baxter is such an adorable dog - John and I have certainly fallen for him.

Finally, Traig, supervising.....shortly before we decided to leave as I feared the clouds would start dumping again. At least we all got some fresh air in this Oregon version of spring break.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Last night, we attended the culminating event celebrating the end of the Oregon Trail unit. The kids sang trail songs with silly lyrics, did dances for us, demonstrated jump roping (along with the chants that go with it - Mikayla is longing for the day!) and had an open house showing off of their hard work for the last couple of months.

The pictures below show a pretty blurry group shot (sorry, forgot our good camera), Tanner and Brayden paired in a "Johnny Two-Step" exhibition as well as the wagon that each child made along with all of the miniatures each child contributed. Pretty impressive!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Braces Off!



Brayden with all of his goodies:
Yeah for that new and improved smile! Can't get enough of it!

What a welcome change from last night today was for me. I knew I would have an hour and a half wait for Brayden to get his braces off and I contemplated trying to hit part of my Bible Study or running errands during that time. But, the reception staff never suggested I take off - and after seeing the cozy fireplace and adjacent deep leather chair, I never asked to. Instead, I retrieved the novel I'd started this weekend and soaked in the solitude. Who would have thought and orthodontist's office could offer such luxury for me.

Brayden and I ended up taking our time getting him back to the school. We got him his favorite lunch, visited Daddy at work, and cashed in the Fred Meyer gift cards he had earned from earning "Cool Cash" the incentive program offered through this orthodontist to brush well, arrive on time, and take care of equipment.

It was a special day spent with Brayden and I'm thrilled for those happy teeth. Three more days and counting!

Monday, March 16, 2009

We Are SOOOO in Need of Spring Break

I type this as I sit next to Brayden who has just spent the last hour working with me on these blasted Oregon Trail journal entries. Once again, I say: neat idea for kids who love to write and can think things through abstractly, but for kiddos like my boy - AHHHHHHHHHH!

Perhaps I might not be feeling this way if it weren't 8pm by the time we started this - or if Brayden weren't two entries behind - or if tears weren't part of the equation (on his part). But, here we are, and I feel like the least I can do while he copies in his own handwriting what I typed and printed out from the computer, is sit beside him.

The weekend really was wonderful, but we got home too late last night and we are all out of the groove today. I had a lot on my plate scheduled for the day - meeting with another college student (wonderful), making 13 dozen cookies for the collegians for finals week and distributing them with the family, and then Brayden's end-of-season basketball party. I didn't count on my dad stopping by (but I'm very glad he dad), Lisa and the kids visiting (but the company was outstanding) - or getting such a late start to the cookie making and therefore not having any chance to help Brayden with homework. We were able to drop off the cookies immediately after John came home, but I'll admit, my expectations were a little dashed when he came home later than I thought and not able to hit the houses' dinner times right on the money. Was it really that big of a deal? Of course not - but, by then, my attitude was toast and poor John and the kids had to suffer.

Once again, I can look at what hasn't been part of the equation - some good quiet time, some good time devoted to Who's most important - and I'm not talking about me, though that's what is generally my first inclination (I just need some time to read a book, or take a bath, or..... and then I think - wait, didn't I just do that over the weekend?).

So, here's to spring break, 4 sweet days away. For my son's sake, for my daughter's sake, and for my sake. For John, there is no spring break, but I think he'll feel the difference as we all tone it down a notch without all of the hurried expectations of the school-time routine. I just can't wait.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Date in Portland

Our "Portland Experience" began around 10am Saturday morning after we left the kids with Michael and Michele. We stopped off at the Woodburn Outlets, keeping our shopping to a "recession-minimum" - and then headed up to Portland to check-in at the City Center Marriott Hotel.

Soon after, we ran through the rain about a block to the "Spa Sasse" for a couples massage. Can I just say that our first impressions of this place were very, very strange. The thirty minute wait for our service was a little nerve-wracking as I pondered every other way we could have possibly applied our additional gift certificates towards something else the hotel packages offered. However, the actual massage was AMAZING. John has never got to experience a professional massage and unfortunately for our budget, he's hooked. My masseuse did a fantastic job on my neck and shoulders - the wait and quirkiness were definitely worth it.

At 5, we headed to the restaurant on the second floor of the hotel - The Shula Steak House. We had money left over from our certificates that we thought we could easily keep our dinner check within. The steaks, beverages, and sides were amazing - we were so stuffed we didn't even bother with the dessert menu. Good thing as the check delivered to our table proved we had just spent more on a dinner for the two of us than we'd ever even spent for our family of four! Uh huh, definitely exceeded that little "extra" on our room account. (The prices on the steaks were NOT listed on the menu - that's always a bad sign....)

This has certainly been a phenomenal weekend. I wish the sun was still shining, as it was so brilliantly on Friday. Instead, the drapes are securely shut in our room to keep the grey gloom from being so obvious. I also find myself wondering what the appeal to these full-service hotels really are. Compared to the Fairfield Inn, where we usually stay - this room is twice as expensive, considerably smaller, and not as new. In addition, we are handing out a five dollar bill right and left as we have to tip the bell-hop, tip the valet (valet parking was included in our package), and tip the waiter who pointed us to where the buffet was for the breakfast (also included our package). We have to spend $10 for me to access the internet - free at the Fairfield. Oh yeah, that place has a pool - and this one, nope, but it does have a large jacuzzi, that fortunately just opened from being repaired so we could check it out last night.

But, once again - I'm so thankful for this special time with just John - man, we needed it. All of the quirkiness just adds to the special memories the two of us alone share, that certainly bond us even more. I think it will be a while before we head to a city for our get-away (I devoted a whole post to our big-city aversion in 2007.....), but I'm happy indeed for this weekend.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

When We Said, "Let's Go Bowling"......

This wasn't what we had in mind. Didn't know that League Night completely took over the local bowling alley on every night except for Saturday..... Oh well, the Wii was probably more fun anyway - and cheaper too!

These guys (Andrew and Kara) were supposed to be our bowling buddies, instead they became our Wii competitors.

In this picture we were playing "Carnival Games". Brayden enjoyed clicking past the directions so we would have no clue what we were doing, and then, consequently, he would win.

Mikayla with one of her favorite new friends....

John, sharing stories with Kara (that I probably didn't want him to) and Andrew, working at a top score on the soccer-heading game.

Why I'm Glad We Glad We Chose Not to Go to the Beach This Weekend!

So, this unfortunate guy washed up onto the beach this last weekend. The very same beach we had originally planned to "get away" to - and go horseback riding on this weekend. After further discussion, though, we opted for a more "pampered" get-away, using certificates we already have up in Portland (this time, I do not intend to leave them behind - they are already packed)! Man, am I glad we chose option "B" because a stroll along this beach doesn't appear to be a "whale of a good time" (Ha-ha - couldn't resist). Actually, I think the big guy has been buried already, but still......

Monday, March 09, 2009


Last night we attended the college group class as we typically do on Sunday evenings. I have to admit, I was a little reluctant to attend as I knew some of the girls I've gotten close to were not be going to be there. On the other hand, because I had spoke to a bunch of the ladies in attendance just a week prior, I figured I couldn't let the opportunity pass me by to touch base with them while my story was fresh in their minds.

If you are intuitive, you might be reading into this - "Of course she doesn't want to miss this CCF meeting, by going she might get more compliments and accolades and she wouldn't want to miss that!" Well, I'm human, and it did cross my mind. But, God has such a wonderful way of keeping us humble.....

Just as Corey (the college pastor - also the same person who was our college pastor) stood up to begin his talk, everyone in the room could hear a loud rumbling coming from underneath the legs of our son....... Yes, horror of horrors - that was Brayden clearly "cutting one" - and quite loud. We were seated towards the front - sitting on the floor (why couldn't it have been in a deep seated couch, with lots of sound-insulating cushions?!), so, while the entire congregation of CCF would not have been able to hear, I'm positive Corey and the front row of girls surely did. I gave the "I can't believe that just happened look to John", just as Brayden did it AGAIN!!! No, my boy was not out to get us, he was just gassy. John admonished him (a bit too loud, but surely that was not what would cause distraction) to close his legs, and by the third "peal of thunder", Mommy Dearest gave him a little backhanded smack on the leg, which went to prove that 1.) I have no control over my son and 2.) I enjoy hitting him in public! Actually, the swat did not hurt and was aimed more at the goofy grin on his face that any punishment over what came out of his rear end. Fortunately, Mikayla was laying down on my lap and was able to keep her laughter in (good girl!) because if he had gotten her to start down that path, it would have been BAD, BAD, BAD! As it was, I think even Corey took a longer pause than normal in between sentences.

After a while, things seemed all clear, and I was able to focus a bit more on Corey's talk. I was thankful at least that Brayden had done his unfortunate sound effects at the beginning so hopefully everyone would forget. But, about a half hour later, Brayden lost control again and this time, John and I jointly opted to demonstrate the "if we don't acknowledge it, it didn't happen" mentality. But, I could tell others acknowledged it, in fact, I thought one of the sound guys was going to lose it.....

Ah kids.....What can I say? They love to keep us human. But, I think the timing of John and I's get-away on our own overnight to Portland this weekend is divine. If nothing else, it gives a good excuse to avoid CCF this week.....because last night was just plain mortifying!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Just Call Us the Gideons

I mentioned in an earlier post that Brayden's class is studying the Oregon Trail. It's pretty much a 4th grade subject statewide. The three 4th grade teachers at Brayden's school have adopted a curriculum that includes taking on the role of an imaginary character that could have made the journey, writing journal entries for this person and making decisions with other members of your wagon party that could make or break the success of your trip.

In addition, each student has been asked to bring a shoebox in that will be transformed into what will look like a covered wagon (I'm supposed to help with that on Monday), as well as creating 35 miniatures of an item that could have been included within the wagon. The students will then pass an item out to everyone else in class so each student will end up with a miniature wagon full of miniature items that could have taken the journey out west. (They also get to write an essay about these items and give a speech about them).

Needless to say, when we received all of the information about this project, I felt quite overwhelmed. It was made clear that the majority of this project would be done at home and making miniature shovels or oxen-yokes seemed just a little daunting. I read through some of the examples, zeroed in on "Bibles" being among the list and immediately made the decision for Brayden. I signed the sheet, shoved it in Brayden's backpack and told him to give it to his teacher FIRST THING, so he would be able to have that item and not opt for a second choice. It worked. I had some ideas on how we might put them together, but then, after helping in the classroom and having the opportunity to see some of the efforts from classes of the past, I realized they could be made even easier.

So, here are our final products (or almost, many still needed the stickers) . It was very much a family affair. Brayden and I shopped for the materials, Daddy cut the foam board and black paper in the right size strips, Brayden painted the edges gold on the styrofoam, Mikayla laid out the materials for me to use the glue gun to compile the pieces together, and then Brayden applied the stickers. I'm pleased with the results, and even more pleased that it's done. All that's left is the speech portion...