Saturday, July 31, 2010

Reunion Conclusion

Hmmm, nothing like "Coors Light" sponsoring the class banner in front of the location where we had our concluding reunion dinner. Michele and I had to pose next to it, just for the fun of it.

The location just happened to be about a mile from Mom and Dad's house - which NEVER happens, because we grew up living a good 10 miles from anyWHERE. Anywhere except the Springfield Country Club (golf course) the venue where the reunion was located. So, shortly before showing up for the dinner, we dropped off all five kiddos for some quality time with their grandparents, took a few "prom-like" pictures out front (with the men that will be our dates for life!) then took off to gather with some fellow alums.

As I'd hoped, I was able to connect right away with some folks missing from the picnic, which was fantastic until everyone kind of scrambled to table locations while John and I were stuck in line for beverages. That didn't work out quite like I'd hoped as far as seating goes, but the dinner was excellent and we managed to find enough small talk to cover over the fact that our table mates were people that, while very nice, were folks I may never have had a real conversation with in high school.

Post dinner, things started to pick up. Some deeper conversations from some unlikely sources unfolded, that literally gave me goosebumps. The way God moves is just so amazing, and finding Him in action in people you wouldn't expect, just SO COOL, and so worth any effort made in attending the reunion.

Before we left, we managed to get that original elementary class together for a group shot. Getting hugs from everyone in that group - particularly from many of the guys who I rarely crossed paths with in the halls of Thurston, was a sweet time indeed. We were proud to represent the Mohawk Mustangs, and began a trend of other elementary schools snapping shots as well.

I have to end this whole reunion banter with just how affirming this experience was for me and Michele. I painted a picture of how great our class of '90 was, but it didn't mean that high school was all roses all the time for either of us. Michele and I (along with another friend, who we would have LOVED to have seen at the reunion) were co-valedictorians. It was a goal we worked very hard to achieve, so we were mighty thankful when it did end up happening for us both, but it didn't come without a cost. Toss two girls who look alike, weren't entirely hip on fashion, were VERY late in the whole physical maturity thing, were constantly in over our head with homework and studying, and didn't have the self-confidence to see anything but the list I just recited......well, you end up with a couple of sisters who have a great time laughing it up about our mishaps in high school, but deep down really wonder if anyone thought anything about us except that we had a tendency to annoyingly pull A's in all our classes.

Tonight put an end, once and for all, to those feelings. It kind of felt like everybody took off their "this is who you were in high school" glasses, and looked instead to who we all are today. And today, I'm a VERY different person than I was in high school. I think most of all us are. There's something to be said about walking in knowing that your life is right where it's supposed to be, and no one can discount the abundance God has provided. And, I think that's why it felt so different tonight - knowing that in the end, God has had it all worked out in His perfect timing and plan, even if I didn't believe enough all along to recognize it.

THS Class of 1990

We were the class of '90 - proud that we had earned that cool number to chant in pep rallies, and proud of ourselves as a class. We endured a tragic death of the brother of one of our own classmates, the brother that died being just a year behind us - and stood strong leading the high school through that tragedy during our senior year.

In the class of '90, the "cool kids" were nice to most everyone - with "popular" being a loose term and "respected" being something more people actually cared about. Teachers through the years would tell us again and again how much they loved our class, and I guess we might have taken it for granted if not for the fact that we felt it, and we appreciated it.

At the ten year reunion, I watched the "top jock" - the "Zac Efron" of our high school heartily embrace the guy more known for being the "kid in the band" - and I recognized, yes, nothing has changed.

Many of the folks returning today for the reunion, all actually hale from the same elementary school (notably, the two I referred to in the above paragraph, hence the common bond). If you were to actually base it off of percentages, our little 30-count class from Mohawk Elementary probably has the most returnees to this reunion (compared to the other elementary schools that fed into our high school). Yes, I know I am biased, but I think there was a huge bond with all of us. And, of course, as we converged with other schools, it seemed apparent that the other kids felt that same caring towards their classmates too.

With all of that said, though - I did find myself dreading today. Not so much to "look or act right" - (after the 10 year reunion, you kind of get that all out of your system), but dreading the inevitable "small talk" with so many people. I am person who wants to dive deep, so talking about the weather is a bit of stretcher if it goes on too long. However, after having just returned from the family picnic, I'm in a stellar mood, and quite looking forward to the more formal dinner and dance tonight. I feel like I just scratched the service with some of these buddies, and look forward to longer conversations and lots more laughter - not to mention meeting up with some of the folks who didn't make it to this afternoon's event, but plan on coming tonight.

Of course, more pictures to come after the dinner/dance - but here's some that John snapped, just to scratch the surface.

This picture marks a group with a special bond - we all started out as Camp Fire comment on how long some of us continued on that path..... =)

The gentleman next to Michele is Shane - who's now my buddy on Facebook and has actually linked to this blog, so I ought to be careful what I say about him. =) Nah, actually, he was Michele's first boyfriend, back in 6th grade. Michele had us all laughing as she retold the story to him that she now tells to all of her middle school students about how he broke up with her on Valentine's Day. The gentleman standing next to me is Loren. He was actually my date for prom my junior year. It's good to know we had such outstanding taste back then, because these guys have grown up to be total class acts.....

Standing next to me is Katrina, who was our A-Number 1 best friend through elementary school. We have many memories of many adventures and overnighters together. Standing next to Michele is Robyn - who we were friends with once we converged in middle school - all the way though our years at Western Oregon University. In fact, Michele "set her up" with her husband who was, at one time, the high school pastor at their church. Robyn and I shared the distinction of "making the dance team" our senior year, so that was a very bonding experience for us, as I think both of us thought it was a bit of an unattainable dream (at least I did). I suspect the four of us will be doing a lot of laughing tonight......

The last picture of this post shows us with our fellow twin-buddies - Kari and Kristi. They are supposedly fraternal like we are, but look and act so much alike. On one crazy evening, we went to the movies together, to watch a movie starring Danny Devito and Arnold Shwarzenagger in which they were two sets of twins supposedly mismatched at birth. Following that same silly thread, we walked into the theater pretending we were twins with each other, and then upon spotting the "other set of look-alikes" made a big production of finding each other..... Super silly, I know - but we had fun!

Alright, off to get ready for tonight.......!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Pool Time at Osborne

It seems like the drive-in and the next day stop off at Corvallis' Osborne Pool have traditionally gone hand in hand over the summer. So, of course, we couldn't break tradition.

As you can tell by their expressions, the boys were a little un-enthused. They've kind of enjoyed being left to "chill" after all their many adventures - so being drug to the pool was kind of testing their limits. But, surprise, surprise, once they arrived they somehow found a way to have fun.....

The girls, on the other hand, just LOVE this place.

Particularly the "Lazy River" which is anything but lazy with all sorts of kids knocking into you as they play chase with their buddies. It can test my "mommy patience" in a hurry - but I have to remember what it felt like to be kids that age and just what a fun venue this place is.

I got Michele to take a shot right before we left just to prove I was there - and yes, did get in the water with the kiddos too. =)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

"Despicable Me" at the Drive In

Summer's just not summer without a trip to the Dallas Motor Vu Drive In. Given it's only one of two (I think) drive-in's open in the state, I think it's mighty convenient that it happens to be about a mile from Michele's house.

This was our smoothest round yet. I figured out how to adjust all the settings in my vehicle to have the rear sound on without the overhead lights on. We piled on the blankets and pillows to give our rear ends plenty of padding. And, we kicked the boys outside with the lounge chairs.

Everyone but Mikayla stayed awake for it (go figure). We might have considered staying for "Inception" if the kids were all old enough to be into it, but as it was, we called it a night at a little past 11pm. Summer fun!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hangin' with Kaela

Without actually planning it, my summer has kind of boiled down into an every-other-week pattern. It seems like I will have at least the start of a normal-ish week (where I'm in town without houseguests), and then the following week I'll be somewhat MIA - generally because I'm with Michele while some of the kids are off together doing camp or Seatlle, or whatever.

Next week will be one of those weeks with Michele as it will be the boys' turn to hit their week of Camp Harlow....mid school camp. I have a feeling it will be HUGE FUN for them. We already have some ideas up our sleeves for huge fun for us too....hopefully it will all pan out.

Anyhow....that makes this week the normal-ish week - which means it's Kaela time. We've tried to make it a point to hang out during these every other weeks and Monday was no exception.

I took her to ESTC again, it's hard to pass up a pool and a lounge chair in high 80's temps. Whereas last time we went, it was Jack and Brayden who accompanied us (Mikayla was at soccer camp), this time it was Mikayla, Christina, and Jackson who came along.

I was in the pool twice, purely for the sake of not overheating (which I still managed to do, love those overheat-headaches.....), but Kaela never once jumped in, much to the dismay of the kids who begged and begged for her to join them. Finally, they gave in on that pursuit and decided another tactic was in order - spraying her with their water guns. While Kaela did later admit it was refreshing, sometimes these kiddos have a hard time knowing when enough is enough. That seems to be the common thread every time Kaela comes to visit and any kids are around......I guess it should flatter Kaela..... =)

She did manage to take three adorable of the trio, after they had finally settled down just a bit! Great day, Kaela, see you the week of the 9th! =)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bullwinkles Round Two

On Sunday night, the Schillings, Meyers, and our family did our second (and hopefully annual) summer Sunday night outing to Bullwinkle's Family Fun Center in Wilsonville. All of us had had so much fun there last year that the boys in our families all agreed to forgo birthday parties and instead repeat the fun there instead.

It was a bit busier than last year, so as soon as we arrived, we hurried up to stand in line for the Laser Tag activity. Last year, no matter how we divided the groups, (mostly guys vs. girls), I ended up on the losing team. This year, I was on the winning (girls) team all three times. In fact, on the first game, I was the player with the highest score. (Red #13) Michele took that honor in the second game, and Amy on the third. I don't know what happened when the guys were the ones that spent the weekends shooting guns....., but hey, we'll take it (and we were thrilled)!

These three pictures are kind of overkill, but I couldn't help putting all three up, since I LOVE Andrew's expressions - as well as Ellie's sitting right next to him. The boys got some very funny cards, that Ellie had helped pick out. Since she knew what was coming, her expressions are priceless along with Andrew's.

Since we did a birthday deal - we got a pizza buffet in the middle of our adventures. Following that filling-ourselves-up, we went back for some more fun. Next up, go-carts. On both occasions, John and Brayden ended up right in front of Mikayla and I's vehicle. Also on both runs, our vehicle was faster than theirs......but John was able to edge me out because of all the curves and because the establishment has a strict no-bumping policy. (Mikayla kept me constantly aware of that). John was sweet enough to FINALLY let us pass on the first go-round, but never gave up, despite all our efforts, on the second round. =) More pics hopefully to come from Amy's camera - this one of Michele and Nati was the only one John got on his. (He was too busy driving to take pics!)

Here's Ellie and Jackson, flirting away, killing time in the arcade while we waited for another round of Laser Tag.

A few family and couples shots.....

The final (and wettest) activity was Bumper Boats. Knowing what we knew from last year, we specifically scheduled this year's adventure to a similar mid-summer time, as Bumper Boats can cause you to get quite wet....which would leave you quite chilled if it weren't a 90 degree day. Lucky for us, Sunday's temps, once again, reached the 90's. =)

John was sweet enough to sit out (there were only 13 boats and 14 of us) - the advantage to that was that he was able to take some fantastically fun photos of us "at war" with each other. I couldn't resist posting several of these images, as all of the expressions are so priceless.

And, a final parting pic demonstrating just how wet we all got. What a wonderful way to end the birthday weekend for Michele and I.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sons of Thunder 2010

It's something we don't really want to talk about, but Brayden only has two more summers left before he is too old to be at Sons of Thunder - the father-son retreat hosted by Camp Tadmor. It is such a highlight of his entire year. While John has done a lot to make "Mens' Round-Up" more youth-friendly, I can guarantee his graduation into that kind of program will be a let-down. Sigh... - at least they are making the best of the three years they have left (including this last weekend). Word is, they all had a blast......

A sunrise shot of John and Brayden.....

This year, the boys played paintball for the first time. Because of Michael's expert strategic advice, they really kicked some butt and had a phenomenal time. This is good, because John's previous experience at paintball when it was his bachelor party had him TOTALLY beat up on, and it wasn't a whole lot of fun. Glad he was able to overcome that!

While the mornings were drizzly and chilly, the afternoons got into the 90's there - which made playing on the "blob" that much more fun. This is Brayden trying his "Wipeout" skills attempting to balance as he ran across this arm.

The center of the "blob" where apparently many of the "dads" took it easy.

One of the "bonding activities" of the weekend was to get in groups of 4-6 and build a raft for your son to paddle across the pond/lake with. John and Brayden paired with Dave and Logan. It was actually quite a difficult project, John was really proud of Brayden for being a trooper to get himself all the way across.

John liked this picture because it is a classic "like father-like son" mirroring of the two of them.

I'm not sure if this was taken after they did the "raft-making activity" or just swimming....

A nice shot of Andrew and Mark.

These next pictures were taken during the low ropes course group-building adventures.

On to the shooting range. John and Dave had a little target-shooting competition - I think John won. =)

Brayden had a lot of fun too - apparently his gun/bullet were so powerful that it went straight through the pop can without even knocking it down.

This picture cracks me up - as it is obviously showing John cracking up. Dave was trying to capture a sweet moment of John and Brayden walking off in the distance together, but Brayden was being a goofball and wouldn't cooperate..... John's giving Dave that look of "see what I get to put up with?" =) We love our Brayden......

Obviously, Dave and Logan know how to pull off the poses......

One of Brayden's favorite things to do is look for salamanders. While everyone else is happy fishing, he's looking for amphibian friends......

Mission accomplished!

Some final contrasting shots - Brayden "seizing the morning" (despite the cold foggy chill)

And a cool shot at nighttime of the lake and lights around Tadmor. What a great place for extraordinary memories.