Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice....That's What Little Girls Are Made of.....

But first, before I get to what the title eludes to, I'll do a last little follow-up of my time with Julie. After boating, we snagged some pizza, watched The Emmy's (I was super entertained with Jimmy Fallon....), and just hung out. It was very cozy. Yesterday, after getting going at a leisurely pace, Julie agreed to do Mikayla's "Upcoming Events" chalkboard one more time before she takes off. She has set the bar so high on that, I'm afraid to take it back over once the theme of "Fall Sports" expires.

We then dinked around a few stores in the area, trying to find her some random things for her trip. Julie's not much of a shopper, so I consider it a success that she actually purchased two things. Finally, Mikayla was asked to take a picture of us. This is the first one she took, which I liked best - but is funny because Julie is taller than I am, which doesn't appear to be the case in this shot. Oh well, it'll teach her for slouching! Love you Julie - and I am so proud of you for taking this big adventure, and undoubtedly impacting many, many lives for Christ along the way!

Alright - on to the title subjects.... Last week, while Erica and Christina were over, Mikayla begged to have them come again for a "Spa Night Slumber Party". Last night was the night - and they completely took over the living room with our bar chairs and my hair accessories to give their "American Girl" dolls and "Baby Annabelle's" makeovers (not to mention themselves). It ended up kicking John and I into the bonus room - which, in its own break of routine was fun for us.

The girls enthusiasm was contagious and non-stop throughout the evening. They were so imaginative.....in this picture I think they were all donning their (my) strap over bags to "go to the movies".....

And then on to the spa. Christina was the first client up....

Their faces are all smeared with lotion, but the pic is too cute too pass up. I love how these girls' friendships have survived the years and different schools they all attend during the year, but none of that matters when they all get back together in the summer.

A final glimpse of the hair products assembled for their evening...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Good-Bye Boat Trip with Julie

This Friday, our dear buddy, Julie, heads off on a mission adventure with "Surfing the Nations". She begins in Oahu, journeys to Maui, back to Oahu, then Israel, Egypt, and Jordan. Crazy, huh? She is beyond excited, and I know she'd covet any prayers anyone would be willing to send her direction. What a joy it is anytime you find someone serve within a ministry that it seems was "designed" just for who they were created by God to be. This seems to be the case with Julie and "Surfing the Nations". It will be a delight to follow her experiences over the next 3 and a half months, but we will all miss her tremendously!

Julie has been working VERY HARD all summer in Cannon Beach, so we consider it an honor that she would take today and tomorrow to hang out with us Rileys before venturing off to Hawaii. And, what better way to spend it than to take her and Travis (Steph has been prohibited from boat rides until her back fully heals....boooooo!) out on the boat. It's crazy that we haven't been to Cottage Grove Lake since June. When we first arrived, we were a little let down by our "ol' standby" with its total choppiness. But, after Julie took her first turn on the wakeboard, miraculously, the waters cleared up and smoothed out to nearly glass.

We were quite delighted that both kids wanted to give it a try again as well - Brayden, doing one of his "groove with the music" moves.....

Reunited at long last.....big smiles as Mikayla (aka "Koala") gets to crawl all over Julie again (aka (her) "Branch")

The hat she's sporting is Travis'.

These jump pics of Travis get kind of old after awhile. He needs to come up with something more impressive (ha ha!!!)

Ah, there we go, something a little more original - and with a smile! =)

Mikayla hasn't tried out the wakeboard since she "got up" momentarily last summer. We were thrilled she wanted to try again today - numerous times. She was uber-successful, she stayed up for quite a while!

I'm so glad Julie didn't completely wear herself out on that first run through the "ocean waters" - and saved some energy to play around in the "glassiness". It's so fun to watch her pull out her surfing talent out on the wakeboard.

Julie handled the camera while I was doing my run. She snapped oodles of pics, but I gave her NOTHING to work with, between my lack-of-smile expressions and "August indulging"......well, let's just say it's beyond time to get back into the gym again and rid the pantry of all of those camping treats.... (but I did have a lot of fun playing around on the lake!)

Now, this one had us puzzled - I'm pretty sure it was a group of guys doing their own version of the "Sasquatch vs. Jack Links Jerkey" commercial. If we'd had time to sit around and watch, I'm sure it would have been very entertaining.

A final parking lot shot of Brayden and Daddy - proving John was indeed there.

Congratulations Daniel and Genna!

Aren't they a BEAUTIFUL couple? About three months ago, John came home from work thrilled that they'd hired a guy named "Daniel". What a crazy coincidence that Daniel just happened to be engaged to a former "Trinity" girl (i.e. - attendee of CCF), so many of the folks I hang out with happened to know the two of them. This also meant that attending their wedding would be even that much more fun, because there would be several people that we knew there.

If you are going to get married outside in Oregon, for sure your best bets at success would be to plan the wedding in August (or maybe the first couple of weeks of September). Sure enough, Genna and Daniel got married on a sunny day, but I have to say, it was much "brisker" in the evening than we have been used to. (Especially way up in this "mountain sanctuary" where the wedding took place). Literally, my thumbs were going numb.....brrr!

After the ceremony, we each took our chairs over to the tables along this amazing deck where we had dinner. This picture is of Abby - giving me her "throw her hair back" pose. I love this gal and wish her tremendous fun and joy as she heads to Spain to study abroad this term.

Posing for Kaela's camera are: (left to right) Kaela, Abby, Caitlin, and Becca.

This picture gives just a glimpse of the expansive view this house has of the farming community below.

And, it wouldn't be a wedding if we didn't pose for our own "couples" shot.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Facing Reality

Since the weeks prior to Disneyworld, way back in April, Brayden has been in really one of his "happiest places" that I can recall him being since he was born. There was his birthday, Disneyworld, ending a "rockin' year" at Gilham with all the pomp and circumstance of being a fifth grader, and then, of course, all the freedom and fun that summer offers. Outside of the times that he is interacting (fighting) with his sister, life has been "good times" for our boy.

Today, however, revealed a kid I haven't seen in a while. Brayden was a "shell" all day long - a walking zombie, so tired, feeling a bit defeated, and I would dare to say, wondering if he'd made the right choice in regards to playing football.

I'm certainly not going to say "I told you so", but much of what we anticipated is coming to fruition. With any sort of "playing time favoritism" completely set aside (as we haven't even come close to playing games yet), Brayden has had the realization of 28 kids on the team and what that's really going to look like for playing time (it's the biggest team of all of them under the Sheldon Pop Warner umbrella). Tonight was his third consecutive 3 hour practice, and with temperatures in the nineties, it was a doozy for him. The coaches have really been emphasizing
"conditioning" this week, and despite my lofty hopes for Brayden to be self-disciplined enough to prepare in advance for this, he wasn't prepared - and he's exhausted.

John and I discussed all of this just now - and my discouragement about it all. I think he hears me and thinks I'm a "Told-You-S0-Debbie-Downer" about all of the football stuff. I don't think it has to do with my response after having just returned from witnessing practice, I think it's more my response to watching my son turn into someone I don't really recognize. When his "spark/smile" is gone, it makes me realize how much I take it for granted.

So, it all comes back to that age-old parenting dilemma of wanting to see your kids happy, but knowing that being perpetually "happy" isn't what develops them into responsible, compassionate, hard-working adults. The old adage of, "that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger" keeps coming back to me this week- as I fear it will over and over again in this upcoming new adventure of middle school for him this year.

Bye bye "happy times", we are entering into the days of "facing reality"........

Monday, August 23, 2010


That harmless sounding phrase was put in all caps, because that is what we were awoken to, from site 16, both Saturday and Sunday morning, around 6:30am - being bellowed by that camp's resident. We all felt like yelling back, "Well, if Jim's not awake, the rest of us are!"

Fortunately, that was probably the worst we dealt with during the time we camped from Thursday through Sunday. Which was a lot better than I thought it would be, because the day before leaving, on Wednesday, I was ready to scrap the whole adventure.

Dad had actually been the one to tip us off that we had a potential problem on our hands on Wednesday. He called to tell us that he'd gotten some "intel" that Hills Creek Reservoir - where we'd planned on going (and have gone for the last 4 or so years), had been drained to a VERY low level - eliminating the swimming area, and making the place pretty desolate. Hmmm, good news to have the day before going there. We debated driving up and checking it our for ourselves, but figured it would be more productive to actually do some scouting for a better location. Fortunately, Michele was down (I don't know what I would have done if she wasn't - so thankful for that) - so, we quickly loaded the girls in the car (left the boys behind) - and ventured off in the direction of Green Peter Reservoir.

The whole thing was a bit of a downer to me as I felt like what we were doing was trying to find a compromise to everyone's desires, that would result in "lukewarm satisfaction" for any one person at best. We needed to find a good place to ski/wakeboard to make John, Michele, and Travis happy; Dad would really enjoy a place with decent fishing; I wanted a place that felt like "real wilderness" where we went camping; and this year, especially, travel distance was an issue - as Brayden and I had to return to Eugene on Friday for his middle school orientation, Mom was hit and miss with a horse clinic, and Michael had to return on Friday for work. The internet showed promise with three different campgrounds along Green Peter Reservoir that was just as close to us as Hills Creek was. However, after winding all the way to the top with Michele (23 miles of winding, with a headache and no painkillers with me), we were sorely disappointed with the "just one" campground that was so tiny we'd never manage to get a boat or an RV into it, even if there was a spot available. Here's the girls posing while we took an "outhouse pit stop" at that tiny campground.

On the way back down, we stopped into the county campground we had passed - and were surprised that it actually held promise. (At that point, I was resigned to perhaps scratching the whole experience, and maybe breaking the weekend into day trips - designed to make each person happy for at least one day). We ended up reserving some ideal sites for us through the weekend, which was also a big relief as it took the pressure off of me on Thursday to determine which place would work best for everyone else. So, that's how we ended up at Whitcombe Creek Park at Green Peter Reservoir. Here's a pic of the spot we chose:

I have to say that it all turned out much better than I expected, maybe even enough to surpass Hills Creek and repeat again next year.

On to pictures - which, I have to admit, weren't a major priority for us to take this last weekend. Being lazy was kind of the operative goal.

This is a picture of Dad with the girls, who INSISTED that they wanted to go with him, versus on the boat with Michele, John, and Traig on Friday. (This was the day that many of us were gone). Dad was delighted with how great of helpers they were. They wished that they'd caught more fish, but settled on being pretty happy with catching (and releasing) plenty of salamanders.

By Friday evening, we had a full "site" of campers - as the Meyers had joined us and the rest of the crew (sans Mom) had returned. We announced that we would be leaving at 7 for an early morning boat run, and everyone opted to sleep in except Michele, myself, and Travis (who drove up Sat. morning for just the day). On Friday, the water had been "ocean-like" with its whitecaps and choppiness, so we were beyond thrilled to discover that that had been indeed a fluke, and generally (especially in the mornings), Green Peter is pretty smooth. This led to Travis and Michele partaking in both the wakeboard and the slalom. Despite the water temperature being warmer than any lake we've been to so far, the briskness of the morning had me believing there was "no way" I'd get in. However, it all looked just a bit too tempting, so even I took my turn on the wakeboard and was very glad I did. The water was indeed so smooth, and so warm, it was a blast and super fun run for me. (We actually all felt that way).

When we returned to camp, everyone seemed pretty content to sit around the fire. The kids had been so wound up playing "cops and robbers" and "capture the flag" that we were actually encouraging them to wind down a bit by watching a movie in the Schilling's trailer for a while. Notice the dirt all over their faces - and the food being consumed - that was a general theme of the weekend for everyone.

This location was a prime one for the kids - and the source of arguments for who got to claim it - just the roots of a huge tree, but somehow, in the kids' eyes, it was a world of so much more.

Just hangin' around the campfire.....

And, this was Brayden - for about 5 hours on Saturday. The poor guy accidentally poked a stick in his eye. No major harm done, but it hurt and he was majorly light-sensitive for the rest of the afternoon. Mikayla commented that it might have been the first time she ever witnessed him napping.

Later that afternoon, John and Mark were our heroes by taking the loud crew of kiddos to ride the innertube on the lake. I guess they all had a blast.......(despite the serious look on the boys' faces - that's just their pose these days!)

This seems to be a perfect pic to sum up the camping experience. That Saturday night offered plenty of s'mores, lots of laughter, and some fun "around the campfire" games. What a great crew to hang out with.........

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Elusive Swim Rings

This has been the week where both kids have been in their consecutive sports camps from 9-11:30. It sounds like a great deal, one at one place playing volleyball, one at an other playing football - both led by different high school players. Mikayla's volleyball camp (which ends today) is at Thurston High School - where I graduated. It's been fun dropping her off at my old stomping grounds.

However, it's clear across town - and I checked today - by the time I leave the house, drop one off, then the other, then return home - there goes 45 minutes of time. So, these camps that sound so good in opening up time for me, are actually costing me about an hour and a half (at least on the days I'm driving both ways) of time.

When this dawned on me on Monday, I decided to putt around town instead of heading home (or to the gym which is right next to home). In preparation for the four day camping trip this weekend where we'll be spending a lot of time in the water, I went looking for some swim rings - exactly the kind that were shown in the pictures of us at the pool (those were Amy's). You know, the $3 plastic, blow-up, adult size swim rings.

However, because it is August - no one sells these things now. And, I mean NO ONE! I know, because I went to ELEVEN stores on Monday looking for them (many in the same shopping areas....) and there were NONE to be found. Instead, there's Halloween stuff, because, hey, it's the middle of August - and it's important to start stocking up on Trick or Treat candy, and not to purchase items that would help you deal with the mid-90's temperatures!

I ended up settling on some other swim items (just a step up from the arm bands - which every store seemed to have an overstock of), some inflatable kick boards and a blow up whale that the kids will play (er, I mean fight) with.

On Tuesday, I decided to return that whale to Bi-Mart (the store I got it at across town)- but to the one closest to my house. And, there, lo and behold - were dozens upon dozens of those elusive swim rings - and 25% off! Oh happy day, store #12 brought success. Michele even went by while she was in town to purchase 3 more - as I had bought 5. The kids appreciated them at the pool yesterday, and I'm pleased they will be able to be used on Thursday when I take the kids up to set up camp before John comes up after work. Since we'll have some extra time on our hands - and no boat, we'll use them at the swimming area at Hills Creek.

Here's the rest of the story, though - when I came home yesterday to start clearing out the boat for our trip, what do I find? Oh, there you go, the FIVE SWIM RINGS I had left from last year - all deflated and put carefully in there own little bag.

Good grief.....it's been some great use of time this week, let me tell you!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Metolius Memories

Around mid-afternoon on Friday, John gave me a phone call and announced, "Let's go camping". Brayden had suggested it on Thursday night (well, kind of whined about why everyone else goes camping more often than our family....), but John had explained that he had to be at the church for a Mens' Round-Up table on Sunday so we wouldn't be able to go anywhere. Well, John had a change of heart, and decided someone else could run the table - as getting away with just our family was more important.

So, upon letting me know of these plans, Brayden and I started brainstorming on what would be the best thing to do for the weekend. (Mikayla was off on a playdate with Kenady, so Brayden and I were running errands together). We talked about trying to find a place to take the boat, but that would be a difficult endeavor, given we would be trying to find a coveted camping spot at "boat lake sites" on a Saturday - on a weekend predicted to hit the high 90's (thus everyone else and their dog would want to do the same thing). And, then, speaking of dogs - we wanted to take Sydney with us, and we agreed that if we took the boat, it would be too much time away from her. So, we considered camping sans the boat - and I thought the Metolius area might be just the trick.

It's located about 1 hour and 45 minutes away - about 10 miles from Sisters - and is an area I have not explored for over 15 years. John had never been there. We impressed ourselves as a family that we were able to leave the house by 10am on Saturday, without having had prepared anything until that morning. Clearly, we are learning to streamline the camping-packing process - and the kids are getting much better at learning to help.

John was super-impressed with the Metolius area. Our first stop was the tiny "town" of Camp Sherman. It has several upscale cottages and a cafe - as well as the greatest little general store ever. It's clear it is the "hub" of the Metolius River community as folks just love to hang out at the picnic tables out front or chat with the very friendly store owners. We found ourselves some yummy camping treats - got directions and the inside "411" about the best place to camp - and then we were on our way.

There are about 10 different campgrounds in this area, but knowing how busy the weekend was, and with the advice of the store owners, we headed to the furthest out of the campgrounds and landed an ideal little location at Candle Creek Campground. We felt very blessed.

After setting up camp (once again, in record time - love that new tent and helpful campers) - we played some volleyball (Mikayla and I) and football (Brayden and John) - and then decided to go for an adventure. The Metolius Recreation area has oodles of hiking trails and destinations. Since the kids wanted to go swimming with Sydney, we thought we'd follow the road that took us to the Jefferson Lake Trailhead. We drove there - and it was beautiful, but were thwarted by the trailhead sign that announced it was a 7 1/2 mile hike to get to the lake. Hmm, not where we were at as a family at 4pm to take that one on (maybe Michele and I will take that adventure next year). So, then we opted for another suggestion from the folks at the country store. We ventured off to the head of Jack Creek - where, upon hiking about a mile, you actually see this creek come bubbling forth right from the ground - actually it looks like it's coming straight from a tree trunk.

I'd LOVE to show you all the pictures of this, and of all of us on the hike - the joy of Sydney wading in the water, the fun smiley face someone left in the trail made from pinecones, or a great shot of John and I posing in a hollowed out tree. BUT.......my camera ate the pictures! UGHHHH - this is the second time that this has happened (the last time was the day we spent at MGM Studios in Orlando) - and this time it happened when the camera was in John's hands. Both times, neither one of us can understand why on earth it happened, so frustrating. That happened by the campfire on Saturday night - so we only have pictures from then on......

After a remarkable night's sleep (the other bummer of the trip was having to make a run for Sisters because one of our air mattresses had a hole in it - at least we figured it out before bedtime....) - we all arose in happy moods - made even happier by yummy cinnamon rolls and the night-before's berry cobbler.

Sydney had so much fun. She so desperately wanted to catch one of the dozens of chipmunks we saw (along with the 6 deer - and get this, NO MOSQUITOS!). Brayden had her smiling big-time in this pic.

This was the only other vacant campsite in our campground - right across from us. The campground is surrounded on both sides by creeks/rivers - so beautiful.

Us, posing with our sports-practicing kiddos.....

This is the view of Mt. Jefferson, right around the corner from our campground.

And, the view of the "Lower Bridge" of the Metolius - the point where you can start using regular rods to catch fish - as the upper area is strictly fly-fishing only.

One of the things that makes the Metolius River unique, is that it just "emerges" from the ground - here's the sign that describes this.

On our way out of the area this afternoon, we strolled the path down to check this "phenomenon" out. This is the view of the river as it emerges.

And this is what I refer to as a "Plymouth Rock picture". Way back when, when Brayden was just 6 months old, we took a family trip to Boston for the company that John was employed by at the time. On one of the days he was working, I took Brayden to visit "Plymouth Rock" with me. I took pictures of the replica ship - of Brayden, and the area, but never snapped a shot of the very tiny remnant which is all that is left of the great "Plymouth Rock" where the pilgrims landed. It seemed pointless because the picture would reveal nothing more than a small stone. But, John has never let me live it down, giving me such a hard time that I never took a picture of the "most important thing". So, as we laughed about that story with the kids today, I made sure to take this picture, even though it really looks like nothing (it is where the water is originating). Sadly, the pictures at Jack Creek were much more impressive......but they are gone.

Mikayla, getting a piggy-back ride on the way on out. I can almost guarantee we'll be back to this area for future camping adventures. We all had so much fun as a family, and it was really so easy to make happen. And, of course, John was salivating about all of the picture opportunities, so we'll make sure to bring his camera next time too.....