Sunday, January 31, 2010
Rewinding a bit, Friday was a fantastic day with Michele - nothing over the top, but just super relaxing. We hit the 30% off the entire store sale at Old Navy and were able to score some "Orlando Bound" items. Patrons there nearly witnessed a catfight between the two of us over what appeared to be the last Mickey Mouse t-shirt (a size that would have fit Mikayla or Ellie) - but thankfully, an employee was able to unearth just two more t-shirts - exactly the sizes needed for Michele's two girls. (Note, I said Michele's two girls, as I had won and taken custody of the one we first found).
It was bittersweet as 5pm rolled around and everyone was whining that Michele and the kids had to go home (Michael wanted their company, afterall). It just goes to show how much we all treasure being together. Fortunately, for me and my kids, Travis and Stephanie had agreed to give me a pity invite to their house for the viewing of a Blazer Game with Julie and Will. I was kind of pleased when I wasn't the only party crasher when Aaron showed up too. (John was gone from Friday through Saturday late afternoon for a leadership retreat). I spent my time trying to shush my kids to shutting them in the other part of the house with the dogs - they were so wound up!!! Throw in their maddening pleas and requests to Aaron and Will for wrestling, and its downright embarrassing. Are they happy children? oh yes! Are they quiet children? Oh no!
The next morning brought another fine basketball game from Brayden and his team - and while watching, Mom brought up the movie, "Avatar". Her and Dad LOVED it - so she's been itching to have me see it. Only problem with that is my husband is anti-sci-fi - so he was not at all willing to go with me. Hmmmmmm, day to kill with the kids. Coupons about to expire for up to $12 in theater costs. John gone for the day. Travis and Stephanie game to go with...... Deal sealed. We didn't check the movie times until about 11:30 - both of the major cinemas in town showed the 3D version at noon, so the five of us literally raced to get to the theater ASAP. Unbelievably, after, what, 6 weeks? - at the box office - the lines for the tickets, concessions - and unavailability of seats in the auditorium shocked me. Fortunately, the Whites, kids, and I worked well as a team, and I was able to walk in with all snacks in hand just as the previews started - a real MUST for my movie going experience.
Regarding the movie- Well, for sure, I can see what the hype was about. I do think it deserves Oscar's Movie of the Year. I always think that ought to happen when the crowds and critics actually agree on a movie. If you are able to go in and put aside any stereotypes, religion, politics, or propaganda that you think the movie is trying to sell - I think it would be hard not to be "wow'd". I enjoyed it a lot. So did the kids, although Stephie got some rare cuddle time with Mikayla over some of the scary parts. I talked to the kids about some of the issues that might be of concern before we walked in, and they accepted the movie for the entertainment it was, rather than being "taken" by some subliminal message. I think I'll let it go at that - I sure don't want to spark an "Avatar" debate on my blog.
Needless to say, the timing was perfect - as John came home just about a half hour (of major cleaning time) after we did. The Whites joined us last night for some X Games and about 4 DVR'd episodes of "Flash Forward". I hope ABC continues that program - as the four of us are all very sucked in. This week, "Lost" - I'm so excited......
This morning brought church - and a visit from Will and Andrew - and later this evening, I will actually attend CCF for the first time this year......
So, that's about it. Now you can see why I usually just eliminate these kind of posts, it's all a bit boring - but at least now it's down in the memory books......
Thursday, January 28, 2010
First up, a picture of Red (sorry Steph) with John - his second birthday sundae (which he didn't even eat) that was brought to him with folks merrily singing. This dinner was hosted by John's mom - thanks for a great time, Leona!!!
All these pics were taken from my cell phone, so the quality is sketchy - but I thought this one to be post-worthy - what a couple of cutie-girls - zipping around the neighborhood on Christina's scooter....... =)
Then, this picture just reminded me of that greeting card line with the close-ups of dog's noses..... I love my Sydney.......
Finally, here's another shot of Mikayla, Mom, and Pansy. This time Mikayla is atop an English (Dressage) saddle - one of mom's. It seems to fit her style and size much better. Pansy and Mikayla are making strides (literally), however, Mikayla still needs to teach Pansy that the instructions should be coming from her and not Mom or I as we walk around the arena with her. No complaints, though - it is such a treasured time for all 4 of us (Pansy included, I think!)......
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
In fact, on the contrary, sometimes circumstances that are so difficult for someone like myself to deal with, can turn into the most glorifying thing for the Lord. Because, any good that results has to be from HIM! And, yesterday, I can testify that on at least four different occasions, I truly felt the guidance, peace, and protection that only He can provide. For my part, this time I listened. And, I surrendered. And, I found myself taking paths I wouldn't have come up with on my own, and as a result - great things came about.
Not everything is happy-happy-big-smiles now.....but, some great things have come about and there is no longer stress in my life. Ah, the joy found in surrender.....
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Why do I get so worked up about certain things? In my effort to prove another's point of view is wrong, I puff up my own righteousness (at least in my mind), and of course, disqualify the other person's righteousness - thus eliminating their claim to the "right answer". The good news is, NOW, this whole scene just plays out in my mind - and I'm able to recognize it is wrong - very wrong. But, it nags, it aches - and it reminds me when I wake up in the morning that something is still off.
So, now, how to proceed? Do I share my opinions directly (knowing they won't be received - as I've gone down that path before), or do I share my concerns with someone who might have the opportunity to make change happen. Do I defend my position strongly, daring to potentially offend, or do I encourage grace and restoration?
Ultimately, this morning, it hit me that I've been in these positions before. (Thankfully, not for a while). And, while Christians may find lots of things to argue about - those who claim they are following the Lord, are unable to argue with the clear commands God has given us. So, if I make sure that's what my heart and mind are dwelling upon - then, if or when a time comes to communicate, the words should be communicated from a basis of love. There's not a lot of gray area in the Bible about choosing NOT to love one another...pretty much, it's not a choice. So, I need to work on my own heart before I start fighting any other battles.
Monday, January 25, 2010
The receptionist was surprised as well. Apparently, a first-timer doesn't usually walk out so quickly with contacts already placed correctly in ones' eyes. But, in many ways, I'm not such a first-timer, as I've been the one placing contacts in Brayden's eyes since the summer after his kindergarten year. That had to prepare me a little.
I can't say these contacts are "love at first sight" (ha ha, couldn't help the pun).... I suspect I'll request a pair even more breath-able when I meet with the eye doctor in our follow-up appt. next week. He gave me the sample pair, and I don't even know what they were.... I do appreciate being able to see well long-distance, but my eyes aren't as used to wearing corrective vision for things up close (i.e. - doing this typing).
But, all in all - a very good thing. I'm so tired of wondering where my corrective vision sunglasses are - and being totally limited to just wearing them when I want to see outside in the summer. And, gosh, it's nice to sit down on my couch and be able to read the DirecTV guide on the television without squinting - or trying to track down my regular glasses.
How many of the rest of you readers where contacts? If so, when did you start wearing them, and what kind do you wear?
Sunday, January 24, 2010
- friends willing to take our kids giving us a great Saturday date-day
- "carnita" tacos from Mucho Gusto
- 75% off clearance sales from Macy's
- hilarious birthday cards
- Wii Carnival Games
- Red Robin birthday dinners
- hitting a strike bowling (though it was a terrible game for me.....)
- Bello's couples massage =)
- "Meet the Parents" and "Meet the Fockers" (the third sequel comes out in July!)
- watching an honor student high school senior from Colorado realize she is Olympics-bound in figure skating.....
- Brayden scoring 8 more points in Saturday's basketball game... I really hate to admit this, but we are all super surprised by his talent this year!
Friday, January 22, 2010
Yeah, yeah, yeah - it's not all about me. So the fact that today is my half birthday is absolutely inconsequential given today is John's real birthday. (But, that's a pretty cool fact, huh - when I realized that when we were friends, I thought - this is meant to be.....)
Happy Birthday LOVER!!!! (And Happy Birthday to twin brother Jeff too......)
Tonight we plan to do a little Red Robin, a little Southtowne Lanes (bowling) - and tomorrow, John and I get to indulge in a couples massage. (I hate it when his present just happens to benefit me as well).
Sweetheart - I hope today is a day in which you feel truly honored - as you so deserve it. As each year goes on, I find more and more reasons to be thankful you are mine, and to be so proud that you are my husband. You are amazing........and I love you SO MUCH!!!!!!
On to some pictures of his birthday evening:
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
On Sunday, I took the kids and I to Dallas to hang with Michele and the cousins. John couldn't go with us as he did work yesterday, but we felt it was worth the drive to give the kids some time to just hang together. Of course, my ulterior motive was to be out of my own dirty house and guiltlessly hanging out in Michele's where I could spend virtually the entire time reading a very engrossing book or planning our Orlando vacation. To that end, I did get a lot accomplished.
Onto other subjects:
- This has been one of the bleakest January's in my memory. If it's not been raining, the clouds look like it's going to. The days where we've seen the sun in 2010 can practically be counted on one hand. I'm so very thankful for fun events to keep my sights on in the horizon and a little blue light that, come to think of, I should turn on right now.
- For the sake of family history, I'm going to paste a compliment we got from Brayden's teacher. I'm changing the student in mention's name, for obvious reasons, but it was a huge blessing to receive:
Also, I meant to tell you this today but I didn't get a chance. Your boy is so sweet! This week we had a whole class discussion about Ed* and what we can do to get along with him better (long story, but many students think that it is ok to bully him since he has been a bully to them before). Anyway, many kids pointed out that Brayden is really good at being nice to him, and they should all try to be more like Brayden! :) Their words, but I couldn't agree more! What a sweetheart!
(I replied to her that I appreciated her words....and "if only he could apply this to his sister"!, but really, what an affirmation that he is on the right path being in the school he is, etc....)
- On to Mikayla, she's really practicing her mothering/future classroom skills by taking care of all of her stuffed animals. There are about 28 of them, I have no idea of their names - but she knows each one - and when she hauls them all to Michele's in a garbage bag, can determine that she's remembered each one when we set off to leave. She also lays them all out in bed with her, alternating who gets the spots closest to her. It's a little over the top, but very, very precious....
- The situation in Haiti - oh how heartbreaking. If you could please consider praying for our Compassion boy, Jhonny Bab Coup. He is a year older than Brayden - and he's been part of our life for about 6 years or so. A friend did some research and it appears that he lives in an area lesser effected by the earthquake, but still no word as to his welfare.
Wishing you a good week ahead, already shortened as today is now Tuesday!
Saturday, January 16, 2010
The "rear end fun" began at Hamlin Middle School where Brayden's basketball team won another game and Brayden contributed another swisher. =)
I left ten minutes before that game concluded to catch Ali's cheerleading competition, about 4 blocks away, at Springfield High School. Her team performed within about 20 minutes of my arrival, so I was super glad I got there when I did.
After some quick pictures with the cousins, Mikayla and I took off for our third event of the day. We joined Mom at the Thurston Dance Competition. As both Mom and I are alumni of the Thurston dance team, we thought it would be worth attending. We made it to this last year, but went to the earlier performance, hence missing the co-ed exhibition performance from the Cabaret team, the alumni dance, and the advanced drill-off- all high points in tonight's event. In addition, members of the UO Dance team also did an exhibition.....wow, they can move. (By the way, Michele - that last picture is of the Dallas dance team - that did a really sweet little Aladdin performance - I can just see Ellie and Nati out there in way too short of time......)
All in all, a great day. But I gotta say, I'm happy to finally be sitting on a comfy couch vs. a plastic bleacher........
Friday, January 15, 2010
The owner proceeded to say that she had actually allowed Camp Harlow to have Pansy for the summer so she could be surrounded by lots and lots of little kiddos who were overjoyed to sit atop a horse. And, what do you know, but one of those little kiddos was Miss Mikayla. And what do you know, but she just happens to be the granddaughter or the person working on this little pony - and hence, an idea was born to bring the two of these eager partners together.
Today was the day. Mom came with us, as she will do from time to time - especially these initial visits. Tamara, the owner, offered to let us ride Pansy free if we were willing to groom and tack her. Well, of course! We taught Mikayla how to brush her, how to pick out her hooves, how to brush her mane and tail. And, then we had a little lesson with Mikayla.
It cracked me up because the whole time I walked around the arena with the two of them, holding a lead line close, (just in case) - I felt like Pansy was exasperated with me. Truly, her body language communicated, "Just let me be with the little girl - I'll take care of her, I promise...." Eventually we did let them both go on their own, and they did great. However, Mikayla (just like soccer), does need to work on just a tad more assertiveness.
I think the two of them definitely bonded. We're hoping to make this an (at least) twice a month activity. It's a considerable drive out there, otherwise I'd aim for once a week. But, what a treasure and a blessing to get this opportunity!
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Anyway, Amy is doing excellent. She returned from the two weeks or so around Christmas that I didn't see her as a brand new woman. She reported being amazed what life could be like without the ever-present pain.
However, life has certainly NOT returned to normal. Through this journey of recovery that Amy was on, her mother-in-law - Mark's mom, Dianne - was on her own journey towards Heaven.
Yesterday, she went home. It was a long struggle with leukemia and the pre-cursor disease that led to it. It became clear that the only thing that would cure her was a stem-cell transplant that she didn't qualify for because of a pre-existing lung condition. Ultimately, they decided that continued chemotherapy was not worth dragging her body through. On Monday, it was determined to stop the platelet transfusions which were keeping her alive. On Tuesday afternoon, she went home.
I'd like to post parts of Stan's (Mark's dad, Dianne's husband) words here that he put up on her Caringbridge site. I think it needs to be noted that Stan is not a "writer", but truly felt the Holy Spirit dictating to him. (This passage is from the days prior to her death)
Throughout this journey, Dianne’s attitude could be well described by words written long ago by the Apostle Paul: “My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all boldness, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or death. For me, living is Christ and dying is gain” (Philippians 1:20-21).
Many of you have told me of the tears you have shed for Dianne. Let me share a few insights from the Pastor Robin visit. This present pain is real, not trivial, and we cannot make light of it. Grief is real. The tears are real. Tears are one of God’s gifts. We cry because we love someone. The shortest verse in the Bible is “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). Read on friends ---- “So the Jews said, “See how He loved him” (John 11:36). It is Jesus who has shown us that grief and tears are part of how God has made us. We are in good company when we cry for those we love.
Here’s more from my good friend. Dying is a lot like being born. Picture yourself as a fetus in the womb. You are warm, comfortable
Dying for the believer in Jesus Christ is very much the same. Only we look forward to a Heaven that is beautiful beyond our imagination.
I pray that what I have written today makes sense. Dianne has prayed for years for her relatives and friends that have not made Jesus Christ their Lord and Savior. Her prayer through this journey has been, and continues to be, that something in her journey will open hearts to the message of the Bible, and that those she has prayed for these many years will ask Jesus Christ to be their Lord and Savior.
Clumsy as it may be, it has been my privilege to use this Caring Bridge sight to make this message from her loud and clear. I pray that I have been faithful in that regard and something in these many postings will touch your heart and bring you to Faith in Jesus Christ.
Dianne has had a couple of dreams, I believe they are visions of what is to come, over the past several weeks. One is a picture of a regal King in the foreground, Jesus just behind him, and a large group of God’s children standing with Jesus. She is in the crowd standing with Jesus. (typical of Dianne she is surprised she “made the cut”.)
The other is swimming in a beautiful, natural pool of shimmering water, her figure restored to a better than ever condition, breaking the surface with complete joy in the moment. Dianne describes it as a beautiful pool that she would envision in Hawaii. Heaven’s pools are better.
One last thought on the analogy to child birth. It was uncomfortab
Finally, I want to post a little portion of an email that Amy sent to all of us from her sister. It just demonstrates the "ripple effect" (that I'm hoping to continue) that occurs when we seek to glorify the Lord - how He will use tragedy to bring joy.....
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
They explained that it was because they wanted to say "thank you" for allowing them to feel like "part of our family" - and for the cookies and such that had been sent home with them (in my cookie-baking season, which sadly for the mouth, but gladly for the waistline - is not now).
Well, whatever the motivation behind the evening, if the end result was to leave me feeling very honored and appreciated - it so worked. Just knowing that they'd even put a plan in action made me feel very unworthy, but kind of giddy they would care so much to go to such lengths. No surprise, though, as Kaela and Julie are amazing.
The evening was great. I went for John's recommendation of the "best burger in all of Eugene" - I think I'd rank it at second place, but it was outstanding - and the fries.....oh yeah! I think both the girls were quite pleased with their Margharita Pizzas. Kaela said she'd never been treated finer at a restaurant which made me happy that she felt the honor she deserved to feel too.
Conversation was laced with laughs and deep thoughts too. All punctuated by a return to our house and the highlight reel of the "The Bachelor" to watch with them and John.
While it may have begun as "ministry" - Kaela and Julie are way beyond that in our family fondness towards them. They are truly very special friends, and I hope they both know how honored we all feel to have them in our lives - and truly how much they've both ended up ministering to all four of us.
THANK YOU KAELA AND JULIE!
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
We have made a point of trying to let Mikayla celebrate with her school friends at some point in January, given she has a birthday so close to Christmas. When we started to figure out that this last Sunday Michele's family would be down because Travis got all five of the boys/guys tickets for the basketball Civil War game, we thought Sunday would be the ideal day for a party. The fact that the Gymnastics NW location where Mikayla wanted to have it was available during this time was a major blessing.
So, we mailed and emailed out some invites, baked some pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, and picked up some stuffed animal "Lil'Kinz" for party favors - and there you go. The least amount of pre-planning yet for one of the kiddo's parties.
The beauty of this party was that the majority of it was run by one of the coaches at the gymnastics center. He had them running an obstacle course, doing some super-fun parachute games, and then ended the group activities with putting Mikayla in a harness and letting her get shot across the room - up high, whizzing forward - crazy fun.
She has such sweet little friends....and Sunday night was a great testimony of the fun they all have together.
Monday, January 11, 2010
Sunday, January 10, 2010
1. You get to understanding how your body works so much more. Things that used to cause me anxiety that my body does, is now something I'm used to, and therefore immune to worry. While it may be falling apart more, at least I'm used to the routine of it all.
2. Life is viewed as much less black and white. Yes, I have my values. Yes, I believe there are absolutes. But, yes, I think there is a whole lot more to any one perspective than often meets the eye. I just finished a book (fiction, of course) called FIRSTBORN. Essentially, the message behind the book is that we need people in our life that we disagree with - it keeps us humbled, constantly thinking, and aware that our point of view isn't the only point of view. I appreciate the developing of more perspective - and know I still have a long way to go in creating more.
3. This might sound weird, but there is more to feel satisfied about. I remember thinking about the "worst case scenarios" when my children were really little about "what if I died". How they may be left with not even a memory of me. But, the older I get, the more I know I've contributed - hopefully in the right way, and hopefully I'm leaving a legacy.
4. Relationships just get better and better- as they get deeper and deeper. (Especially with my kiddos- as the older they get, the more relate-able we can become).
5. The more you appreciate the people older than you - as you start to appreciate the road they've traveled a bit more.
6. For me - the confidence. No one knows my marriage, my children, my home, better than me (except John, and of course, God). In my 20's - oh, the insecurities. And not that they don't flare up here and there now, but such a different story. I am super thankful for this.
7. The wisdom gained. I can't say that it's all that intentional, but sermons, messages, and simply the stories of the inspirational people surrounding my life do start to pile up in this little brain of mine - and become more and more accessible as time goes on.
I think that's enough for now. What have you found to appreciate regarding getting older?
Friday, January 08, 2010
However, the interior of the house has returned to its pre-Harvest decor, and that is a big accomplishment towards embracing January vs. living in the glory days of Christmas past!
Last night was a festive time with the Whites, watching the BCS Championship game (poor Colt McCoy, but the testimony of his post-game interview, wow! What an impact he made for Christ!). It also involved some lively discussion regarding each person's expectations for Orlando - which of course, are all different. (We're already in agreement to pray for family harmony for this vacation!) In the midst of all this, I spent a lot of time on the computer, and reading - all with my neck not in its prime position. Not good.
I woke up feeling like the bridge of my nose had been punched hard. Not good. That meant canceling my volunteer time at the school and sleeping instead. For a long time, actually. Some how after about two hours of being awake, the pain morphed into a different location. By the time I'd finished some bare minimum grocery shopping, I was nauseous, my knees were shaking, and I was thankful I was able to pick up the kids at just the right time on the way home. They were troopers, unpacking the groceries, while I hightailed it to the couch. I ended up with three blankets and an icepack on my neck - and my hands were still chilled. I love the temperature fluctuations when this sort of thing hits. Clearly, the body doesn't really enjoy the strain of these sorts of events, so it does it's own special little thing. (On the way home from the grocery store, I'd stripped out of my jacket with cold air on full blast). So, now, a semi-nap and a bath later, I'm feeling semi-normal - however still quite concerned with doing anything stupid with my neck.
However, through all of this, I find myself still thankful for the life I have. I read Heather's post today - wow, so well written. Very impactful. Then, reading that Sara is having to say good-bye to her daughter leaving for college again, oh yeah, that's not an easy way to spend the day. I also received a phone call today detailing some reconciliation taking place to folks that I care a lot about that has been fervently prayed for. What a praise.
So, just as Colt McCoy praised the Lord despite the fact that he was taken out just five plays into the biggest collegiate game there is, I praise God for the way he works. Even when it involves a little pain.
So, that was my Friday. How was yours?
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
While she was over visiting and catching up with us, we coerced her to redo Mikayla's "Upcoming Events" Chalkboard. Christmas and Sunriver are over, afterall.....=(
So, because nothing is really set to happen worth getting super excited about in the next couple of months - we asked Julie to design the board with our Orlando vacation in mind. I don't even bother to suggest ideas, as I know what Julie will come up with on her own will exceed anything I'd imagine.
Isn't this amazing?! It's so fun that Mikayla's room decor now celebrates something we have planned and anticipated for over 3 years. Julie, your artistic skills are so impressive!
It's also pretty clear just how comfortable Sydney feels with Julie.......
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
This will get easier again, right?
And, getting the paper outside, oh, it was so dark. We've had the Christmas lights on up until now, so I hadn't been aware of just how dark.
It's gonna get better, right?
I'm typing with the "Go-Lite" on though, (SADD artificial light) - just in case!
Good luck this week!
Sunday, January 03, 2010
Another fun adventure with the Riley side of the family! This year, we all traveled down to Medford to Mary Beth, Ali, and Andie's new home to celebrate Christmas. Her home is very cozy, the big fireplace and double set of Christmas trees - along with the delicious chili made for a fabulously festive time. While I think our "Smiles" picture turned out quite nice this year, I think the Riley family actually appreciates group photos more like this one more:
Andie is so sweet (she is just two months younger than Mikayla) - and she loves to cuddle.
And, for anyone who asks where Mikayla gets her blond hair - this is the man - John's twin brother, Jeff. His hair was exactly the same color as hers growing up.
It is way too far and in between that Laura (Jeff's wife) and I get to hang out.
Ali, Mikayla, and Andie - Mary Beth and I got cut out of this picture because eyes were closed....
The proud men representing the Riley family (John's oldest brother, Tom, wasn't here).
With Brayden wearing his glasses on this day, he and Grandma Leona matched.....
This hat was given to Mikayla by Uncle Jeff and Aunt Laura - even though it's a fuzzy picture, I just love the look!
All three of the girls got hats (though I have to say, I totally love Mikayla's the best!)
Following our festivities at the house, our little family of four headed to the local Fairfield Inn to spend the night (we decided there's been just way too much coming and going, and thought we'd give ourselves a good "family time" - and opportunity to really sleep in). The cousins and Mary Beth ended up joining us at the hotel's pool to swim and play for about an hour last night. Great for lots of smiles from the kids - and some great conversation time among the adults.
Thank you Mary Beth for hosting such a fun and much-needed family day!