Friday, July 31, 2009

Tomorrow We Surf, Tonight We Rest

I'm perched in the bed of the SpringHill Suites in Hillsboro. This is a new location for us, and based on the disappointment I had upon seeing the awkward room arrangement - I realized why the Rileys like to stick to the same brand - or even particular location. We get very attached to "familiar" - and a little irritable when things aren't like we expect them to be. But, if this is the biggest irritation of the day, I'm not complaining!

We chose this place because it's on the path further west towards Cannon Beach where we will end up tomorrow morning. For sure, the kids will get a chance to learn to surf there - and perhaps I will too (we'll see how the neck feels...). John will play the role of photographer as his back is a bit out of whack. Julie, my college bud, will play the role of enthusiastic surf coach - her excitement has been quite contagious throughout this week about our visit. It seems Cannon Beach is a very SPECIAL place according to Julie - and she can't wait to show us.....

So, we are set for a fun weekend - particularly the next 24 hours. More pictures and details to come!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Chillin' in Neskowin

As most of the nation knows if you've listened to national weather - the northwest is in the midst of some record-breaking high temperatures. Hitting the 100's in Eugene happens about as often as snow arrives for us - perhaps a couple days a year. When it settles in for a stay - it causes just about as much discussion.... we Oregonians are used to things being a little more many folks head west to escape the heat.

Not always, but quite often, if the valley is hot, the coast is often banked in with fog/clouds (and that happens in reverse as well). The forecast suggested the beach would make it to a cool 88 degrees, but as Michele, myself and the kids peeked over the top of the mountain - we saw the telltale signs of the gray fog - and sure enough - the temps barely reached the mid-70's.

The temperature was perfect for us though - and based on the crowds and intense line-up of vehicles to get into Lincoln City (which is why we detoured to Neskowin) it seemed many other Oregonians felt the same way. The kids had a blast digging holes, playing in the waves, and making sand creations. As for me, I got a much-needed nap, while Michele played with the kids and snapped some of these fun pics.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sons of Thunder

Another year of Sons of Thunder - this one definitely taking the cake for being the "best so far!" (Funny, that was the report we got last year!).

One of the reasons Brayden and John had such a great time this year is that they got an extra night on everyone else. John was able to pull some strings and spend the night early. It probably won't be a repeat event as it was a little "unfair", but they took advantage this year. Dave and Logan were also able to attend - and the group of four had a super time hanging together before the rest of the crowds arrived.

While many of the guys took their turn at paint ball, fishing, swimming in the lake, mud-bathing, or pistol shooting - John and Brayden spent a chunk of time in the trees - on the high ropes and on the giant swing. Within the last couple of months, Brayden has come a long way in overcoming an initial fear of heights - perhaps, based on these pictures, I should replace "long" with "high" when evaluating the distance he's overcome!

Michael and Traig enjoyed a little game time, and then, later (in place of listening to a speaker, tsk, tsk) the four of them took a hike to a waterfall together. Hooray for family bonding!

Obviously, my accounts of this incredible weekend were all second hand - but based on all of the beautiful pictures, I couldn't help but put up a descriptive post as all of this HAS to make the blog book at the end of the year. Way to go, guys!!!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Girls' Weekend at Black Butte

While our hubbies and sons were off galavanting at Camp Tadmor, Lisa S. invited those of us with daughters to come hang at her cabin at Black Butte. Jackson was the token male of the group - and the rest of us, well, there was a lot of estrogen with 5 moms and 6 girls. We went to the GORGEOUS pool, kicked it at the cabin, and went into dinner at Sisters.

I think we were pleasantly surprised with how well the girls all did together. There weren't any rope courses or paint gun wars, but we managed just fine!

While returning from Sisters - we stopped at the store - oh what fun these girls can have wherever they go!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

SO Funny!

Last week, I found myself in the card section of a store, looking for fun ones for our boys at camp, and one to give Michele for our b-day. I found this card and thought it was so funny, I immediately called Michele instead of waiting to give it to her. We both decided it was so fun, we had to give it to someone, so we handed it to Mom on our b-day as a "Thanks-for-Giving-Birth-to-Us" card....

I believe the inside said something to the effect of, "Thanks for always being there for me".

Hope you get as much as a laugh as we did!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Well, If the Boys Are Off Having Fun, Why Shouldn't We?

Yes, indeed, that's me and my seven year old in the middle of a trail ride together!

When I found out that it was going to be just Mikayla and I around the house after Michele went home to take Traig to his Dad - and Brayden got whisked away - directly from Camp Harlow, to go with Daddy directly to Camp Tadmor - I decided Mikayla and I needed to do something fun for ourselves.

Things got switched around a bit, though, as Michele waited until this morning to have Traig meet up with Michael*. Worked great for us as that was when Triangle 5 Ranch had availability for us.

I was a little surprised that the gal at Triangle 5 Ranch had said, "yes" to taking Mikayla when I called earlier in the week. Generally, age 8 is their cut-off, but after hearing that Mikayla has been comfortable around horses, not to mention the "lessons" she's had with Mom, they agreed. Mikayla was paired with a very old, very gentle guy named Starbuck - he was small and so agreeable - I can definitely see why he's paired with the little ones. As for me, I was with Bertie. The horses, Charlie and Bullet, that John and I had ridden 3 years ago, were members of our party as well.

Upon arriving at Triangle 5, we filled out paperwork and waited for "start-time". Bobbie, the super friendly kitty, kept us company.

Mikayla did great mounting her horse. However, she had to learn over the course of the ride how to be a little more assertive. I kept reminding her to issue her commands (when necessary) in the same way she addressed Sydney when it meant business!

As for me, I don't know if I have "great skills", but being on a horse is just so comfortable/happy for me. I believe the horses sense that as well - so I was pleased that Mikayla had no fear or nervousness about the ride so that both her and Starbuck could relax and bond together over the course of the two and a half hour trail ride.

This was taken near the end of the ride, where the horses lean down to get a drink of water from the creek. Starbuck was like a camel in that he just kept drinking and drinking!

For me, the experience was phenomenal. I think Mikayla agrees, but she's been a bit subdued (which might be a result of the Dramamine and amount of effort it took for her to concentrate as long as she did). She definitely wants to go again and tells me she had fun. I was proud of her not only for being brave, but for accepting the instruction necessary from the guide (owner of the ranch), who is wonderful, but not super soft-spoken, but rather direct and to the point. Knowing Mikayla (who is much like myself), I'm proud of her for not getting discouraged or upset from the correction, but rather taking it in stride and improving as we went. Mikayla's a pretty little person to be managing a horse along a mountain trail for the time we were out, but she really stepped up to the plate (or to the mounting platform, in this case!). Well-done, little one - I look forward to the day all four of us go out together - it is such a favorite experience for me to do, and to participate with you, certainly, I think we're giving those boys a run for their money in terms of having fun!

*(just so you know, everyone, Michael and Michele do live together and are happily married - I re-read this and it was sounding like they don't, Michele was just down here for the week because of camp - and is staying with me through Sunday because the guys are all at Sons of Thunder) =)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

To Everything There Is a Season

I've been doing a lot of "whooping it up" on my blog lately. I'm sorry to those who read it and roll your eyes that, "there she goes again, highlighting all of the fun things her family does". To those who feel that way I'm sorry, but this blog is my journal/scrapbook as it literally gets published each year as our family's record book.

These days of fun pull me through the drudgery of January through March, as I look through the previous years' books and tell myself to "hold on". These are my heydays.....I take the term summer "vacation" very seriously. (Which is why I'm carrying 10 extra pounds on my body as I just can't stop celebrating). But, even though our family is happy, it doesn't mean everyone else in my life is. This week has certainly been evidence of that.

Literally, each weekday of this week, (including today), has found me grieving over someone's loss. People I care about deeply, that are suffering. In fact, just this morning had me inviting yet another friend on to the edge of John and I's bed, (embarrassed yet again over the lack of cleanliness in the room) - to have someone I love in tears - sharing their hurts and fears.

Whether it be the pain of a relationship unraveling, the loss of a dream someone had held dear, or the reality of a situation that has all of a sudden gotten much more serious, life can really suck sometimes. It can hurt profoundly and my heart aches in sympathy for these scenarios. Through it all, the one thing I'm thankful for in all of these situations this week is that each of these people have a relationship with the only true Healer. The only One that can wipe away our tears forever. It is my prayer that each of them rest in His open arms as their heart breaks in this sad season of their lives.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wow, Where Do I Start?

It's funny how birthdays go, sometimes you feel especially showered upon with attention, and other birthdays kind of slip by with very little fanfare.

The thing about being a twin is that there's always someone else around to remind you and reinforce the reason to celebrate. So, the birthday rarely gets overlooked, but sometimes it's just lackluster. This was NOT one of those years.

The festivities began yesterday when Nancy arranged to have some of our same-age girlfriends meet us at the park so we could chat while the kiddos played. Kris, Lisa S., Lisa Q, Nancy, and Amy (and Michele) all hung out - it was a gorgeous, hot morning - and therefore a very nice way to start it.

Later, we ended up at the pool, and crazy, I know, but we actually got in the pool with the kiddos! Amy actually had someone take pictures to prove it!

Then......on to today. The actual anniversary of our birth. I'll tell you one thing about Facebook, it sure has a way of making you feel loved and the remarks already on there upon waking up were so sweet. Then, I click on to the blog - and woah.....I sure didn't see that one coming! Nice surprise John, well done, honey - so well done.

Michele and I snagged maple bars with the girls for the boys at camp - and got the opportunity to get some hugs from our long-lost little men. (And, oh BOY, they are having the time of their life!!!). From there, we did a little bit of shopping at Oakway. Michele took the kids into Old Navy while I cashed in my birthday coupon at White House Black Market. When I headed out to the car, Michele had Hannah Montana's "Hoedown Throwdown" blaring with the girls practicing their moves in the parking lot......

From there, we headed home to clean up ourselves as well as the house to get ready for the girls to stay home and us big girls hit Applebees and "The Proposal" at the theater.

Bless Kaela's heart, she agreed to take on our three girls as well as Amy's kids and niece who's down to visit. Apparently, they had a good time - we were just thankful for a little time without having to worry about the language in the movie or kids' menus.

Lunch, the movie and the company were all fantastic. Ryan Reynolds is one of my new favorite actors - he sure impressed me in this flick.
On the walk over from Applebees across the parking lot to the movie, we stumbled across this special parking spot sign. Michele had the bright idea to stand underneath it and take our annual pic there:

Finally, to conclude this perpetual post and indulgent activities, we met up with Mom (Dad is still down in San Diego), and the Whites - and Michael drove down to join us - at Red Robin. Since Travis' birthday is on Friday, three birthday sundaes were delivered to the table at the end.

What more could I ask for? Interspersed through the day were surprise texts, snail-mail cards, and voice messages. Kaela also gave me a photo album that I barely opened before getting misty-eyed. I had to wait until just a little ago to go through it - she put together hard copies of all of the pictures taken of all of the events we've participated in (or initiated) with the college group this year. So special.

I'm truly humbled by all of the incredible words, sentiments, and actions that have made me feel so blessed today. Thank you everyone!