Thursday, September 30, 2010

Way to Go, First B!

I wouldn't have even known this happened, if it weren't for Kaela mentioning it and later on showing me pictures of it. On Wednesday, Brayden's middle school did a school-wide walk to a park nearly 3 miles away. It was a fundraiser.....don't get me started on why a "walk" is worthy of making money (between two schools, several sports, etc, etc...I have a bit of an attitude about envelopes for pledges being thrust into my face expecting a check....), but that's fodder for another post - or maybe not, I think I'd end up being way too negative!

Anyway, when our new church building was constructed a new road was made too, which ended up serving as a safer shortcut for the destination that the mid-schoolers were headed to. I'm sure our mid-school youth pastor was the one that tipped off our church's staff, but prior to the kids' arrival, our head pastor instructed the entire staff (even the nursery workers) to join him outside so that they could be on hand to pass out water bottles to the mid school kids walking by. They played some rockin' Christian music on the loudspeakers, and greeted the kids with smiles and handshakes.

Way to go, First B! I'm glad the kids in our community got an opportunity to see just how great our church can be.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Waiting for the "Giddy"

When's the last time you've been outright "giddy" over something? I think, for me, it was anticipating Disneyworld (or while actually on vacation there). Usually, this time of year begins to evoke those feelings - culminating as Christmas comes closer and closer until they rise in a crescendo and then plummet once I hit January. =(

While I've had little moments here and there (like smelling the Yankee Autumn Leaves car freshener, or seeing the house decorated for "harvest", or even walking in to Autzen Stadium for a home football game....), I feel like those moments have been all too brief, and not quite the sort of "euphoria" I've had in the past. I usually LOVE this time of year, what's my problem?

Today, I took some time to analyze myself and try to figure out what indeed is my problem....(Lisa Q. was on hand during some of the self-questioning as well). Here's some of what might be holding me back:

1. My disappointment in myself for allowing myself to gain as much weight as I did during August. After having been following all of the "rules" to appropriate weight-loss eating for the last several weeks, and exercising a lot, I haven't seen the scale drop the numbers near as fast I'd hoped. I recognize that having fun in life for me involves eating fun food, so there has to be a time and a place for that, even if it is just at certain special times. But, I need to also recognize that once I allow for that "no holding back" occasion, I don't need to go quite as "hog wild" as I tend to do. "Seriously, Steph, you will see chocolate chip mint ice cream again in your lifetime, you don't need to have it for lunch AND dinner!"

2. In correlation to #1, now is not the time that I'm having fun indulging (but that is pretty normal, so I can't see that being a major culprit in keeping me from being happy this time of year).

3. Unease about the economy - and my own efforts to try to contribute.....which haven't been all too successful.

4. The ever-present realization that I'm getting older. The three dominate "pain wrinkles" between my eyebrows (I call them this, because they are most obvious in the morning, after nights in which - out of my control - I tend to tense my face in response to sleeping with a bit of not fair, I can't prevent myself from doing that while I'm sleeping!). Or, the body that isn't as responsive as it used to be.

5. And, along with #4, the fact that my kids are getting older. And, along with that, the heightened worries on their behalf - and even wondering if some of the holiday "magic" and "traditions" are no longer as special to them. They would vehemently tell me otherwise at this point (Brayden, in response to asking if he's too old for the Christmas Countdown Calendar told me, "Never, not even when I'm 85 years old and in a grave!"). It just feels like everything is so much more "serious" with the kids these days - school, sports, etc..... Fortunately, when the kids are removed from all of this, they still are just as enthusiastic as ever.....but, maybe it's my concern that it's only a matter of time....

So, really, if it is just a matter of time, why am I wasting "right now"? The Bible Study book we are using seems as if it was written for me right now, emphasizing God confidence, vs. self-confidence. While what I'm describing isn't necessarily a lack of "confidence" (nor is it anxiety or depression, for the record) - I think the truths of relying on the Lord through all of this apply nonetheless. And, ultimately, if I weren't so caught up in my own disappointments or concerns, I think God would love to bless me with moments where I see his splendor in the crisp autumn mornings, or the kaleidoscope of reds, oranges, and yellows in the falling leaves, and yes, even the excitement in the kids as they anticipate what they want to wear for Halloween. Get over it, Steph.....choose contentment, and then, as you do, expect the moments of "giddy" to follow.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Oops, I'm Behind!

I've been using images stored on John's camera as my excuse, but the reality is, in the few moments of spare time I've had, I haven't really been in the mood to update my blog. But, I am behind, and there's been some fun things we've experienced this weekend that I want to make sure to preserve in "Blog History". So, if you are interested, the updated posts will be put up according to the day they occurred.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Soccer Season!

This weekend marked the beginning of the games for Mikayla's soccer team. The coach that Mikayla has had in the past wasn't able to coach this year due to some health issues with his wife (though his daughter is on our team, so we still get to see him....) - but the silver lining to that was that it opened the door for Laurel to be our coach. She is so fantastic, she played soccer in college and has such a way with kids. She's been put in a bit of a rough situation as the teams were divided a bit unequally, so we are the more "unexperienced" of the two teams. It means less pressure, but more losses, so hopefully the girls won't feel too defeated if the losses continue. At this point, though, I think they are all having a lot of fun, and know wholeheartedly how much Laurel is there, invested in them, and not in any way there just to coach a "winning" team. (The parents see that too, which has been huge for Laurel to feel their support).

To some extent, I can see this turn of events this season as being a real positive for Mikayla, as it forces her to "rise to the challenge" and be a little more assertive. She's getting much speedier, handling the ball well, and just plain ol' "getting tough". It's really great to see her will be fun to compare even how she plays at the end of the season to now. Way to go, Mikayla!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Stephie's Nieces

On Friday night, along with the company of Travis and Stephie came Miss Abby and Miss Hannah - Stephie's ADORABLE nieces.

Not only are these two girls so extraordinarily beautiful and sweet, but they absolutely brought out the best in our kids. Mikayla was a sure-bet.....she'd been asking for them to come over for a while. However, Mikayla wasn't home when these girls arrived (she was at a playdate), so Brayden took on the task of entertaining them (all on his own). It was so precious watching him in action with these two, we were so proud - and it gave us just a tiny glimpse of what the future might hold for him as perhaps a camp counselor - or even, as a father someday.

I think it should be an annual tradition that we get these little gals over, as it was such a delightful evening!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

"Fall"ing Back Into the Groove

I had certain expectations for what I thought this fall would look like. How the "groove" would be set - how our family would adjust to some of the "newness" happening in our life. So far, Mikayla's experience has been an easy transition. Her teacher is nice, she misses having Kenady in her class, but they still have plenty of playdates, and she's enjoying soccer. I worry so little about this year in regards to Mikayla....hopefully I won't regret saying that.

As for Brayden, well, he's doing it. Middle school is happening and he's a part of it. I feel better after having met the teachers at curriculum night and hearing about their plans for the year. It's a hard thing letting go of so much control of Brayden's school experience, not knowing for sure if he's bringing everything home, etc. But, it's also a good thing. It's teaching me to trust him, and it's making Brayden grow and be challenged. So far, so good. As for football, at last Tuesday's game he played for much of the game in offense. So proud of him....

And, as for me (I'm not addressing John as his schedule doesn't change much when the school year begins...) - well, I've found myself just waiting for "purpose" to happen. In an effort to contribute to the family financially (hoping to help cover all of those Christmas and other "extras") - I was really hoping to begin subbing a few days a week. I also applied to be a building sub at a Christian K-8 private school across town. No word back from them, and not one job offer to sub....until today. My first "day back" is tomorrow - with 5th graders! What a perfect age group to kick it off with, and at a really neat school too. I'm nervous, but excited, it feels good to be contributing.

This sub offer came on the perfect day too, as I spent four hours doing the other thing I was wanting to see happen this fall - hanging out with college women. Today, I got to be with this gal:
(this was taken at last spring's Trinity Formal)

This is Katy - and I think she is just amazing. As usual, I did more silly rambling than I needed to with her, but by the end, she asked if we could make meeting happen on a consistent basis - asking if I'd be her "mentor". Oh, man, it makes me so happy (and humbled) to feel "wanted" in that way. Last night was the first kick-off of CCF, and John had a similar experience being asked to be a mentor with a guy that our family just treasures - and it had him feeling the same way. So, praise the Lord that I get to hang out with her more often....and hopefully some other great women here and there too.

So, welcome "fall".....the house has been prepared for it for a couple of weeks, the weather is here, the football games are here, and finally, it seems like the "groove" is happening for our family.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

God Is Good

I know y'all didn't need my post title to remind you of that, but that's just what came to mind when I think of the women that showed up at my house last night, meeting for our first Bible Study.

To back up a little bit, this year I knew I wanted to participate in a Women's Study. I figured I'd just choose one from the Womens' Ministry booklet, and show up once a week - holding myself accountable for really getting into and studying God's word.

However, just over a month ago, when Kaela was over - my thoughts on all of that began to change. Given the fact that Kaela works at the church, and is officially no longer a college student, I thought I'd see if I could rope her into joining one with me. Her first response was, "Will there be people my age - or even your age there?". Ummmmm, probably not. Our current Womens' Ministry is largely composed of women over the age of 50. While there's nothing wrong with that, we are finding it difficult to attract the "younger women" (hence the football clinic last year). Unfortunately, the Bible Studies, at least in years past, have definitely been evidence of that lack of younger women.

Two days later, the Womens' Ministry booklet became available, and after perusing it, I realized there was nothing drawing me. When Kaela had been over, I kind of hinted at maybe making something happen with a group of women more her (and my) age....and after looking at the booklet, it seemed that was just more confirmation.

Between Kaela and I, we began targeting women that are in the working world, or no longer in college - and kind of "lost" in between ministries. I recruited Stephie - and she said, "yes" (yeah!!!) - and that made for one more "30 Something" in the group along with me. Last night, there were a group of 8 of us - the perfect size - with each of these gals being so impressive and enjoyable that I found myself humbled that they would choose to spend an evening with me, much less impart their wisdom on God's Word - as well as pray - together.

I'll get a good picture next week......last night was pretty much introductions and the passing out of the books. As a little sidenote, we have "fellowship" following our study with a convenient Tuesday night showing of the new "Glee" episode each week. Yes, a little unconventional....but also bonding.....=) (No, we don't watch the show while we do our study - God definitely comes first!).

This is the first time I've agreed to sacrifice an evening for the sake of a Bible Study- but it was the only time these ladies could come together- and after just last night - the sacrifice is so worth it. I can honestly say, in this case, I have very high expectations - and am most excited.....I think God is going to do great things with these women, and how blessed am I to be a part of it all.

(This is a picture Kaela took of the goodies - and yes, it was a new batch of fruit salsa and chips, not leftovers..... Mikayla made tie-dye bookmarks for each of the gals, and this also gives you a look at the book we're starting out with....)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Another Shut-Out

Our poor little Duck mascot, he was featured on today's ESPN's Game Day for the crazy amount of push-ups he had to do at our last home football game. He does the total score of push ups after every score we make, so with a score of 72 points against New Mexico, he ended up doing 504 total push ups. Whew, that's a workout!

Today, was just a smidge easier on him, the score was only 69-0. Go ahead and say it, we're just a bunch of bullies..... For the record, though, we are ranked #5 in the nation, and Portland State isn't in our, we all saw it coming. The big tests will begin next week when we face off against our own Pac 10. Next week is away against Arizona State, who just barely lost this week, so they'll be seeking vengeance......

I remember commenting one time to Sara that rain + warm temperatures is a totally foreign concept to us Oregonians. Today was one of those very rare days. We were drenched, but the temps were in the high 60's, so it wasn't like we were freezing or anything. At any rate, we decided to leave in the 3rd quarter, because we were pretty secure with what the outcome was going to be. =) And, now that I'm sitting cozy on the couch, with the Schillings and Whites here....I gotta say it's much more preferable than the rowdier-than-usual crowd at Autzen.

Thanks to some of our buddies who sit near us, we were able to bring the kids and sit together today. (Due to the rain, there were a lot of empty seats). I think the kids actually had more fun jumping in the puddles on the way to and from the game.....

On a completely different topic, today, for the first time, I discovered Blogger now has at "Stats" category to review for your blog. It didn't give me a ton of specifics, but I found that one particular post had generated a huge amount of page views, and more comments than I ever remembered receiving. Well, it turns out that without my being aware, a certain post from over a year ago, was, more or less, hacked by a bunch of nasty people that put a bunch of links/comments that were not good on it. I went through and permanently deleted each of them, but my apologies to Linda and Julie who also added a comment on that day and may have ended up with my nasty traffic as a result. I think I'll start to to do that thing with my comments where you have to type in the letters. Please don't let that keep you from posting comments on my blog, though - it makes me so happy to see any number besides 0 below my posts!

Friday, September 17, 2010

While the Kids Are at School....the Stay at Home Moms Gather

Finally, a post with pictures! (Though I do have some great fb pics of Brayden coming from the game). Today, using Lisa Q.'s b-day as an excuse, a group of us moms got together to chat, hang out on the bean bags, and eat some "harvesty treats". I was thrilled with everyone that had the chance to make it, not only for the company, but for the opportunity to get rid of the food!

Here's what I prepared: Apple Brie Toasts, Molasses Cookies, and Cinnamon Chips with Fruit Salsa. I'm going to give you the recipe on that one, because today was the first time I tried it and it was sooooo good!

Susan, Christy, and Nancy:

Steph, Lisa S., and Lisa Q.

and myself and Liz... (Marjie was there earlier, but left before we got the camera out)

And, finally, the most active of the guests, Christy's son, Carter - and Liz's son, Cooper, aka "Batman". A dynamic duo of fun, that's for sure.......

I really love these gals - and given that our kids spread over about 7 different schools at this point (at least), it seems I see them all less and less. It makes me happy to get together with them and have some "Mom time". Combine that with my two hour chat-time with Jodi yesterday and I'm feeling much more "filled-up" in the friendship tank.....

Now, on to that recipe......
"Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips"
(I've seen variations of this recipe in other places, but decided to give it a try after seeing it mentioned at "Our Best Bites". The recipe is very flexible, you can use any set of fruits (they suggest a colorful variation) - and any special juice or sweetener....but I liked my version so much, I'm going to try to stick to it specifically in the future)

Fruit Salsa
3 cups blackberries (thanks Mom - fresh from her house!)
1 cup raspberries (these had been frozen, so I let them thaw out, and the extra juice came in handy)
5 kiwis peeled and diced
2 nectarines diced
1/4 cup of the cinnamon-sugar combo I used for cinnamon toast....
Lightly toss to mix

Cinnamon Chips
Cut up four flour tortillas into "chip-size" pieces. Coat with butter - or I used the "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Spray" then sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar combo.
Put on cookie sheets (ungreased) and bake in a 375 degree oven for about 12 minutes. Watch for edges to start curling up. Take out and let cool - and there you go!


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

First Game, First Win =)

Tonight was Brayden's first Pop Warner football game of the year. I want to remind you how low my expectations were going into this year. Let me just say that, as far as this game goes, my expectations were far exceeded.

The team we played were lacking some of their stronger players, so they were already short-changed. It ended up being pretty much a blow-out....and Brayden played a LOT. Much more than I was thinking would be the case. He did a lot of blocking, had a couple of good tackles, and made a significant run. He didn't play a perfect game, but it was by far the most exciting game he's ever had, and it sure was fun to watch.

A lot of parents felt that way - watching their kids get the opportunity to play positions they might not normally play - or get a touch on the ball that rarely ever happens. And, I found myself super impressed with the coaches, who kept kids in past the minimum play requirements and kept the team morale high by letting all the kids be stars. He made it clear that not every game would allow for everyone to play this much - in the future it will be much more competitive, but hey, way to start the season off.......

Way to go Sheldon Pop Warner Pee-Wee's - heckuva start!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"I Get By with a Little Help from My Friends"

I just want to say a thank-you to the women who were majorly encouraging to me yesterday and helped me snap my little pity party. There were a number of you that, in your own unique ways, listened and imparted wisdom and inspiration - or even, a "I've been there". Thanks - and hey, we are already past Monday this week.....we're crusin' now!

P.S. - An ironic little postscript here, Brayden came home announcing he's now playing on the "A" Team offense.....I have to just laugh about the timing of that announcement. I'm really not sure what that really means for his playing time, but I'm happy he's feeling the hard work pay off. =)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The "B" Team

(I really hesitated in posting this because I'm concerned that the message would be misinterpreted....I really want the emphasis to be on the last paragraph, because it just proves how there are always going to be things in life that will tear us down - no matter how great life seems to be going. As well as that age-old struggle in how hard it is to be a parent, especially when you can relate to your kids' struggles so well - and wish somehow you could prevent them, even though you know, it's all part of the big life lessons we all need to grow up)

From the time I began playing sports in middle school, I got really used to the expression: "The B Team". It's where my name (and Michele's) got put (with the exception of our junior year in volleyball - in which she went further than me -way to go Michele!).

I excelled in the "B" Team. Often there was a "C" team, and not only could I be proud that I was "better than that" - I could also believe that I was one of the best on "my team". In high school softball that "B" Team was playing JV as a Junior (vs. being on varsity). In the same way, that year, I was one of the best on the team. I was captain, I had confidence - and in almost all of these situations, I had FUN. I excelled where I was at. And, I believe, because I was proud of myself, I encouraged others - and therefore, often tied with Michele for most inspirational.

But, I have to say, I always would have wished to have been picked to be on the "A" team. Bummer that I had to be part of the class of '90 that had to be super-heavy on the athletically gifted realm - because, in a different group I might have made it. I know that I never would have had as much fun, and based on the horrific feelings of inadequacy and physical misery I felt upon making the varsity softball team as a senior, it would have probably never led me to feel good about myself if I had made those teams. But, it's what I wanted. I wanted to be "chosen", to feel "accepted" - and "prized". It doesn't matter that volleyball, basketball, and softball are three VERY NARROW ways to determine a person's self-worth, never being "good enough" in those sports really has left a mark on me.

And, I'm realizing that just now as I watch my kiddos deal with the same sort of stuff. Let's face it, I didn't reach my full height of 5'6 until I was a senior in high school. I was probably about 4 years behind the "average" of physical maturing....which meant I was a very little kid, with not a ton of coordination. But, I sure TRIED. I tried super-hard. If effort and attitude could make a child sports-talented, I think I might have made varsity as a freshman. But, it didn't. And, it still doesn't.

Today, I watched Brayden do "his job" during the three "mini-games" of the football jamboree. He was thrown into the "B Group Offense" (sound familiar?) as wide receiver, and out of about 18 plays, touched the ball once. That run wasn't too successful, so it makes me doubt if we'll see action again this season. Do I sound like "Debbie Downer"? I hope not. I want to believe that great things will happen, and the lightest kid on the team will somehow become the star. But, I'm pretty much a realist. Despite all this I'm SO proud of him, just as my parents were so proud of me. (And, yes, I'm proud to say "that's my boy" when, upon being tackled for negative yardage, his first words to the opponent who tackled him were: "nice hit" - and he said it genuinely.)

While at the football jamboree, I accessed my email and found that the 20 girls going out for soccer were divided into two teams. Mikayla isn't with her best friend, and just happens to be with the three girls new to the game of soccer. I know that the coach who divided the teams tried very hard to make everyone happy. But, part of the driving forces were not wanting to divide bf's, and somehow, I feel like Mikayla got left out. Now, on the flip side - her coach was recruited by me (last year's coach wasn't able to do it this year and they were desperate for another)....and is one of my dear college friends, Laurel. (You can see pics of her and her wedding if you go back to my July 3rd post). Will Mikayla have a blast with Laurel? ABSOLUTELY! Does she already feel like she "didn't make the stronger team", though? Yes. Sigh......and here we go again.

Brayden left the jamboree with his head down. I kept asking him if he was okay and he said he was. He felt like the team played well and the coach was fair and the day was "good". But, he still hung his head. I knew what he was thinking....I remember all too well. Even Mikayla made the comment, "this just might not be the best year" when she saw the team names listed. But, once again, she'd rather have it this way and be with Laurel, than thank God for Laurel.

I don't think it's a coincidence that the Bible Study I will be beginning in a week is "Six Secrets of the Confident Woman" - which will teach us what God would want us to base our confidence and self worth on vs. what the world tells us. I think I need a refresher course on all of that. Because, right now, the world is reminding me of all of those old feelings of inadequacy....

Saturday, September 11, 2010


I'm finding myself uber-stressed right now during halftime of the tied-up UO vs. Tennessee game. Sheesh! I'd forgotten this part of college football. So, as a stress relief, I'll vent about the most frustrating assignment we saw from school this week.

On the second day of school, Brayden brought home some homework for me. I've come to expect that; usually there are plenty of "signatures required" mixed with the occasional "Tell Me About Your Child" questionnaires. This one was different, though. This particular "assignment" followed a two page syllabus describing Brayden's social studies teacher's expectations. Just so you know, those two pages of information were typed in about a size 6 font. Then, came my assignment, which I will share with you as was presented on the sheet:

"Parents/guardians: Please read and complete the reverse after reviewing the syllabus. Thanks most kindly for taking the time to review the course syllabus. Your attention to your student's education is very much appreciated." [On that side of the sheet we, along with our student, were supposed to sign and date that we'd read the information]

-Ok, I get it so far - and applaud the nice phrasing and request we review everything together. As a former 6th grade teacher, nothing irritated me more than parents trying to enable their children by not letting them "grow up" and face head-on the choices they made. Giving everyone clear parameters, and making sure both parents and students understand them is certainly a very good prevention of this.......

HOWEVER, it was the "reverse" part of this page that I found......well, that's where the phrase, SERIOUSLY?????!!!!! comes in!

On the reverse side, here's what we found:

"Please ask a parent or guardian to answer the following questions - with your help, of course [reference to student]

1. Write down the four things every assignment should have to receive credit.

2. What happens if your friend copies one or two answers on a small, pointless assignment, because she spent the entire night baking cookies for sick children?

3. If you have a 75% average, and you do like a million extra credit things, what could your grade go up to?

4. Can you have healthy snacks- well, pretty healthy snacks, anyway - in class if you don't make a mess?

5. Could being shy negatively affect your grade? How?

6. According to they syllabus, do you need to bring your textbook to every class?

7. When shouldn't you ask Mr. "X" a grade question?

8. If you are absent, who could you talk to before Mr. "X"?

9. Is it possible to be marked tardy even if you're in the classroom?

10. How long is a late assignment still worth something?

11. List up to three facts about an ancient civilization that you already know?"

CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT? These were questions that the parent/guardian was expected to answer? What business does this teacher have in knowing what I already know about ancient civilizations? And to top that off - many of these questions were "trick questions" - (i.e. there's no reference to a textbook in the syllabus, but all necessary materials are supposed to be brought to class).

If the directions at the top had been worded even slightly different - such as: "Students, please answer the following questions - I encourage you to ask your parents for help as needed....." But, no, that's not how it was phrased. I couldn't believe the audacity - and for the record, it took me about 20 minutes to fill it all out (though I have to blame part of that time lapse for just being plain ol' mad) ....And let me tell you, it took every bit of self control in me to not give some very colorful answers in response - however, I'm not quite ready to sabotage my son's start to middle school). I did answer the last question a little pointedly in reference to our basis of ancient civilization education coming from the Bible....but besides that, I think I nailed his answers.

I hope I did anyway. Because, I'll tell you what, if we get that assignment back with anything less than a 100%....well, it's not gonna be pretty.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Things "I" Learned the First Week of School

We're to Friday already! YIPPEE! That's something the school year definitely does for us again, makes us appreciate the weekends......

OK, here were MY learning experiences this week:

1. Having kids leave and come home from school an hour apart from each other is actually a blessing. It eliminates the fighting which drives me INSANE, and gives me some one on one time with each kiddo. Yeah for that.

2. Buckle up before you leave your driveway. Yes, that was me, who, just after waving my son good-bye as he went one direction on his bike to school - and I went another direction to the gym (a half mile away) that got pulled over by a police officer for not having my seat belt on. Yes, I deserved the ticket - there have been plenty of times I have not been caught (I'm usually a "within a couple of blocks from my home" seat belter) - but I was hoping the officer would have shed this mom sending her firstborn off to big-bad middle school a little grace. No such luck.

3. Before returning to the gym to get back into the swing of things - make sure the ipod is charged. Enough said on that.

4. When departing the check-out line at Walmart - make sure ALL of your bags make it to your cart. Because, by the time driving distance was included, it took me about an hour the next day to drive, stand in line, re-walk the store to get those missing 7 items, stand in line again, and return home. GRRR.

5. My kids really are capable of adapting to change. I worry, and stress, and find myself frustrated that the teachers might not be a perfect fit, or there's not enough friends in their classes. But, they adjust, and deal - just as they are supposed to when life throws them a few curveballs. They are growing up - that's for sure. I really am so proud of both of them!

I think that'll do for this Friday's post. I hope all of you have had an outstanding, let's bring on the weekend!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Off They Go.....

This was the "display" Daddy left for the kids in the kitchen, as he was at work by the time they woke up - so sweet!

Mikayla's school starts over an hour earlier than Brayden's - so we won't even wake him up until after she's gone. It will be strange, but a lot more peaceful!

And, here's my "not-so-big" middle schooler. Sigh, I can't believe this day has come.

Love you kiddos!! Hope this day is the start of a phenomenal year!!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Bye Bye "Boardwalk".....

I'm not above admitting that I was nearly in tears on the drive home from Michele's last night. I had told myself we wouldn't be leaving until after the Boise State-Virginia Tech game (Beavers, it's up to you now....!) so up until that point, everything was held at bay. All of the reality check, all of the worries, all of the sadness of leaving behind the goodness that was this summer. On the drive home, all of that putting-off finally caught up with me, and I felt, for lack of a better word, "desolate".

This morning, I read one of my favorite local writers, Bob Welch, as he described in his tri-weekly Register Guard column about his feeling of losing summer. It affirmed why I love this guys so much, I could COMPLETELY relate:

"I understand the pull of autumn. I heard a couple of young mothers the other night all but counting down the days until the kids are back in school. I'm all for leaf-covered paths and dried cornstalks and Autzen ablaze in green and yellow.

But, I'm like my 5-year old grandson, who, told by his folks that it's time to go, will say: 'Just a few more minutes, just a few more minutes.....'"

He goes on to describe what made this summer so special for him then says this:

"If I'm an equal-opportunity seasons guy and love a good three-day rain, nevertheless I am, at my core, a summer guy. In the Monopoly game of life, summer is the Park Place/Boardwalk side of the board: the same size and structure of the the other three sides, just a touch more valuable."

OK, I SO RELATE TO THAT! Yes, summer is my Park Place/Boarkwalk time of year - the time of most value, most memories (and hence, the most blog posts!). Of course, Christmastime, and autumn are amazing, but it's that drop off at the end (almost like the JAIL on Monopoly) that I always find myself aware of, lurking right around the corner of those magnificent festivities. Come Memorial Day weekend in late May - well, the sky is the limit for all of the fun yet to be had......

So, in that same Monopoly analogy, I guess it's time to pass "GO" again, (wish we could collect $200!) and start the school-year annual routines again. Tomorrow that begins; clothes set out, backpacks packed, lunches planned......bye-bye "Boardwalk"!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Life is Rough

I think I wrote nearly an identical post about this weekend last year. We are here at the Schillings, doing nothing but watching football, reading books and magazines and keeping updated with emails, Facebook, and i-chat. (Love that social networking, but there are times when it all needs to be turned off!).

Five kids, four adults, 2 dogs - life is pretty darn cozy here at the Schilling Lodge.....Currently, we are all gathered around watching "Phineas and Ferb" finding it is a show that really does cross every age range (one of my absolute favorites...). It's a tough life, but I think I'm up for the challenge.

(Tomorrow, though - it's back to the gym and the calorie counting.....I've been a very bad girl.....)

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Way to Go, Traig!!

(Mom: There will be a hunting picture at the end of this post - just want to warn you.....)

Thursday night was a very tense night around our house. I got overheated earlier in the day and had an icepack on my neck to try to fight off the ensuing headache, I was dealing with good-byes to Julie over i-chat (which are never fun) - but, the most agonizing, was waiting for the phone to ring.

I think we've all had those moments - waiting for a phone call, the kind that can change everything. Maybe it's from a doctor, about test results. Or, from a paramedic, calling to tell you about a loved one being in trouble. Or, waiting to hear that somebody, long overdue, is finally safe. I've dealt with all three, and thankfully, on each of the three scenarios I'm considering here, the end result has turned out okay. But, you know that can't always be the case, and as time drags and drags, and your mind and heart go crazy with terrible conclusions, it doesn't matter that logic tells you "this time" it will turn out okay, instead, you wonder if your time of "beating the odds" has finally come up.

In this circumstance, I was waiting to hear from Michele, who, in turn was waiting to hear from Michael and Traig. They had left early in the morning, on their seventh day of hunting for an elk. Michael and Traig had habitually come home for lunch, so when they didn't show up at lunch time, Michele assumed they had found some elk and were tracking/hunting them. She told herself not to worry, but as 3pm turned into 5pm - and then 7pm.....well, by the time it was dark, she was near panic (but, trying not to show it as she had Ellie and Nati with her back at their trailer at camp). It's not like she even had the power to go look for them, they were in the middle of no where, and Michael and Traig had taken their only form of transportation. Michael had a working cell phone with him - as well as a charger, but all Michele got was immediate voicemail, so she assumed it was left in the truck or they were out of range.

Of course, the most logical conclusion to this whole thing was that they were successful in their hunt - and as a result, it took a whole lot more time to find the elk, time to make the shot, time to find the elk after it may or may not have run after the shot, and then, of course, to prepare the elk and carry it all out to the truck. Depending on when they found the herd, this could have all taken place quite late in the afternoon, so it was absolutely justifiable that they might have returned quite late (as they were running out of days to hunt). However, like I said before - that's not what a person tends to dwell on (logical conclusions), once worry creeps in.

At 9:15, after Michele had called over and over and over again.....she actually got ringing, instead of immediate voicemail. And, then Michael's voice. They were "both okay". A few moments later, they were walking in the trailer, with Traig absolutely exuberant, as he had got an elk. This was his first year hunting and he was successful - and so thrilled. What he didn't expect was to walk in and see his mom's face covered in tears....... Poor Michele, she did a good job pulling a 180 on her emotions. And, what do you know, but that logical conclusion story, was pretty much exactly how it played out. Michael didn't realize that Michele didn't know that they had never intended to return for lunch, or just how long it takes to "handle" an elk after it's been shot. (I'm trying to use generic terms here for anyone offended with the whole idea of hunting....and just so it's made clear, their family intends to use every bit of meat from this deer, so it is not simply an act of sport....)

So, in the end, it all turned out not only okay, but victorious. I'm very proud of Traig, not only for being successful in his first hunt, but for having the determination to keep at it, despite days of discouragement. Michele told me that Traig was exceptional last week, such a good big brother and loving member to the family. In fact, despite what you might think about camping in the middle of no where, and spending up to 9 hours in a truck with 3 kids in tow, searching for elk sightings, and for Michele, spending 7 days in the trailer with the girls - it was an extraordinarily bonding time for their entire family. So much so, that even a televised OSU game was nearly not enough to bring them home early (not to mention our planned visit!).

So, congrats to Traig- well done, nephew! And, I'm happy for the whole Schilling family, that shared in the victories as well.....

It's GAME DAY, Baby!

The crisp, morning sunshine is drifting through the blinds, the Russian Tea is in the mug, and ESPN's College Game Day is on tv. Most importantly, it's the first home game of the DUCKS! We are favored by 33 & 1/2 points (it's important to not forget that half point to those odds-makers!), so it might not be a nail-biter, but I'm ok with that.... =) Just being there, in Autzen, checking out our new quarterback (and by that, I mean, seeing how he plays, not "checking him out" - I'm a monogamous "Duck" not a "cougar" afterall....).

Alright, I'll end this post for now, as it's obvious I'm in a giddy, silly mood......more to come with pics!


I'm back - the game is over. It WAS definitely a nail-biter, we narrowly defeated New Mexico with a score of 72-0. (And, yes, our coach does have class, he had our guys (who, at that point were 3rd and 4th string) take a knee just 5 yards from the goal line with 37 seconds left....).

So, onto some pictures of the many people we saw at the game......

First off, a picture of "our family" taken with the timer, hence the poor centering of the image. Sorry, Travis, at least your face made it into this shot....

The Williams family came down to visit from Washington. Hollie is one of the most effervescent people I know - so much fun - and I LOVE her used to be blond and I'm loving this return to her "natural color".......

After leaving the Williams and Lisa Q. at the front gate, we ran into Steph H. as we walked in. We just can't resist doing the "Stephie x3" picture.....

The clouds literally cleared when we got into the stadium. The temps were so bi-polar, we all left with some color (burn or tan yet to be determined) - but began the day zipping up our jackets. The kids got the opportunity to come with us today thanks to Stephie White's parents so very kindly giving us their tickets. (THANK YOU SOOOOOO MUCH!). Brayden and John were the ones that took those tickets, so I snapped this before they were on their way.

A couple pics of Mikayla and I - the second with a different top on Mikayla as she pulled a "Houdini" in changing without anyone seeing....

This is the view from our seats (without a zoom....)

At halftime, the guys returned and we posed for the family pic....

And we were able to visit with some of very UO students/alum......Kelli, Abby (who's headed to Spain for a term this month), and Kaela. We all might actually end up on Portland's NBC affiliate station who used us to be part of a Hawaii Five-O promo. The girls hummed the theme song - and I think they may have panned to include Mikayla and I - cuz Mikayla is pretty cute....

Currently, we are reunited with the Schillings who just returned yesterday from their hunting trip. Description of that will be my next blog post... We are watching Oregon State take on TCU - and hoping for an upset..........GO BEAVERS!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Little Victories

Today was WONDERFUL! I'm so thankful to Amy and Kristin for taking my kids today to give me EXACTLY the day I needed and wanted.....I feel so much more energized now!

So, I am wanting to post this now, because come game time, we might not have as much to report - and it's the little victories we need to recognize whenever they are achieved.

Brayden has been pressing on with football. Now that we've gotten past that initial week of 3+ hours of practice - largely conditioning, it has become much more routine and manageable. Brayden consistently shows up 10 minutes early to the "30 minutes early" option given by the coach to have some "extra time to throw with the coaches". (The reality is, most of the team shows up early, so there really isn't any "extra" attention from the coaches - I guess it proves we have a dedicated team though!) However, there still hasn't been much of a spark from Brayden about it all - and John, who is the one picking up Brayden in the evenings, has really tried to address that - and challenge him to step it up just that much more to prove what he's really capable of.

Last night, while watching the team run at the end of practice, John noticed that Brayden tended to lag a bit behind, but by the time it came to the third (and final) leg of the runs, Brayden was very close to the first kid across the line. John challenged him today to give just "that much more" to see if tonight he could be first on that final leg....... (trust us, we are not "those parents" who ask the world from our kids when it comes to sports, for Brayden, sometimes he just needs a bit of a goal to keep his focus going).

Well, as it turned out, they didn't do the running tonight. Instead they did some scrimmaging. And, what did our boy do, but march right up to the coach (well, probably not march, but walk sounded kind of wimpy!) - and ask if he could play on offense (very uncharacteristic of Brayden, we are super impressed he took the initiative). The coach responded something to the effect "that that was probably not going to happen today, but perhaps tomorrow - but if you want that position, you are going to have to prove yourself and bring it". So, Brayden played defense (as corner....his desired position would be wide receiver) - and what do you know, but that little dude intercepted two passes and swatted another two down. That's our boy!!!

It caught the attention of another one of the defensive coaches, who told John upon picking up Brayden, "your boy has a ton of heart, most of the boys are bigger and stronger than he is, but that doesn't matter to him, he plays with heart".

We'd call that "a victory" - and maybe not such a little one after all.

Happy September!

Woohoo! Time to put up the blog design with the autumn leaves....I've been waiting for that one.

We've had some days of lower temps here, with a bit of cloudiness (and even some major rain on Monday) and I think it's had everyone thinking of the fall. (Not to mention our first Duck home football game is on Saturday). Time for tailgaters and chili and apple pie and....oh yeah, didn't I mention it was also time to start shedding those summer indulgence pounds too? Sigh....always a battle!

The kids return to school on Wednesday (one week!). I truly love the freedom of summer and all of the super fun it provides, but I'm getting a little geared up to having some space of my own, and being able to actually get a house clean for more than 20 minutes. This morning, Mikayla wanted to play catch with a big squishy ball with me, and I wanted to eat breakfast and browse Facebook. She threw the ball when I wasn't ready, spilling milk all over me, the chair, the floor, and nearly my computer. It's moments like those when you think, "yeah, it's time....." =) Also, it's very good that the kids have been separated for most of the summer, as they just can't get through five minutes without being "at" each other. I gave them the big, "Do you really think people can see Jesus in you when you act like that?" talk - and had them periodically (as the argument merited), head to a bedroom together to talk "strategy" as to how to interact in such a way that God would be glorified through the attitudes towards each other. I'd like to say it worked like a charm, but at least it broke up my usual "knock it off" yells at them......

Fortunately, today Brayden is off to Wildlife Safari with Jack (bless you Kristin for taking him!) - and Mikayla will spend a good chunk of the day with Christina. On the docket for me is a little peace and quiet and about 10 loads of laundry to sort and put away while catching up on some of my DVR'd shows......Sounds heavenly about now!