Sunday, February 27, 2011


This afternoon, I took a little drive with Sydney to WinCo (grocery store). There's no getting around how much that dog loves me...though, when this picture was taken, my foot was falling asleep underneath her 85 pounds of weight. Yesterday, we both went for a much needed speed walk/occasional jog - and it dawned on me that that dog is now more out of shape than me. By the end, when I went for my block at a time pick-up of pace, Sydney would let the retractable leash go to full extension behind the point where I was dragging her. Oh honey, I know how you feel!

Alright, back to the original point of this post. On my little excursion, my mood went south in a hurry. The shopping had nothing to do with it, it was the time alone where all of a sudden my "funk" fully caught up with me. The stuff going through my head today is nothing original - it's the same old, same old - ways that the Enemy has found success in the past - so why not hit me with it again? On the way home, I succumbed to a full on pity party and even shed a tear or two. I wasn't really in the mood to have to explain it all when I got home, so I kept myself pretty composed.

Within five seconds of walking in the house (no tear stains or anything on my face), Brayden asked me, "Mommy are you alright, do you have a headache or something?". And, with that little statement, it further verified to me that I have no right EVER having a pity party. I am a blessed woman. And, that son of mine, that not only loves me so much, but cares enough to acknowledge how I might be feeling as soon as I walked in the! (For the record, I didn't whine, complain, or nag at him, I don't think I said anything, except "Hey Buddy" - and in response to his question - I told him I was just sad for no real good reason - ad he gave me a big hug). The other day, when he thought I was going to be subbing the next day, he asked if I'd wake him up early - because, "15 minutes just isn't enough time to spend with you first thing in the morning when you go off to work". The morning after our Superbowl Party, totally out of the blue, he said, "Mom, you are so good in how you can put together a party like yesterday".

If it sounds like I'm bragging on him, well maybe I am - because I don't ever want to take comments like these for granted. I never want to fail to recognize how extraordinary it is that I have a sixth grader - nearly a 12 year old - that still demonstrates in so many ways how much he appreciates his mom - and wants her company around.

Someday, this perceptiveness of Brayden's is going to make his future wife feel incredibly blessed, just as I do right now.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ho Hum

If you have followed my blog at all, it hasn't taken long to determine I'm not a big fan of this time of year. We are nearly out of February, which is a huge praise, but with the next week having a forecast of RAIN (highs in mid 40's, lows in mid 30's) - it doesn't seem like it's March....just feels like winter.

I just took a walk with Sydney through the neighborhood. I put on my gloves and stocking cap to brave the 34 degree temps (but clear skies) and it was a good thing. My body needed the fresh air and Vitamin D....I'm definitely in a funk. It's been many, many years since we've had such an "empty" season in our lives. It's been productive in terms of downtime and family bonding, but for a girl that likes to plan for the future and look ahead with excitement towards the next fun event - I'm running on empty right now.

During this last week, I had some really great girlfriend time. On Wednesday, Becky came over and we spent a couple hours either playing "Explorer Life" on the Wii and mat - or watching Mikayla play it. On Thursday, the day we had no school, I took the kids over to Amy's and never ended up leaving. We chatted for hours in her kitchen. As one of my dearest friends who I rarely get to catch up with beyond quick phone calls, texts, emails, or hugs at church - it was a hugely valued use of my time.

As for this upcoming week....well, the kids each have an orthodontist appointment.....and that's about it. Yes, there's Bible Study on Tuesday night and church on Wednesday, but my days could use some good structure. Hopefully, I'll be able to snag some sub assignments as my days off lately have been far too ho hum for my liking.

Friday, February 25, 2011

For the Record

Today was indeed a school day. As it should is very cold outside, but that's the extent of the "hazardous" conditions. No snow on the ground....this little storm system could aptly be titled, "Much Ado About Nothing". We did have some periods yesterday where we felt like we were in a snow globe with beautiful flakes blowing from every direction quickly turning the world white. But, all too suddenly, the sun would re-emerge and melt it all. Oh well.....

The kids are very bummed, but fortunately it is a Friday and they'll have the weekend very soon. I chose to cancel my assignment for today, last night. I suspected the kids' district might end up with a two hour delay, and if the district where I was set to work did not, it could get very complicated. While I ought to be out there making money, this morning I'm VERY THANKFUL I have the day off.

Now that we've danced around with some snow and have been enticed by the no school day hopefulness, I think it's time for spring to arrive. Oregon, you have my blessing now....bring on the sunshine!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

S'now Big Deal

So, today did indeed turn into a snow day - for both districts. HALLELUJAH! It was a long 45 minutes continuing to refresh the "FlashAlert" site to see if anything had been announced. I found out about the kids' district about 20 minutes before the district where I was supposed to work....plenty of tension during that time.

With all that said, I'm really not so sure the districts made the right decision as what is outside our house right now is quite pathetic in terms of amounts. It snowed for a couple of pivotal hours during that decision making period, so I have a feeling that's what made the cancellations happen - and for sure, I'm NOT complaining.

Here's a couple of pics I snapped out front - of the little crocus' trying to stay alive and the flowers on the plum trees emerging amidst the snow.

I have a strong suspicion tomorrow will be canceled just because more snow is coming in this afternoon/evening and then the temps will drop to the twenties....slush plus freezing temps usually equals closures. Let's hope that equation indeed works for tomorrow too!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dear God, Please Let It Snow (and Freeze!)

I know that not everyone is on the same page with me on my prayer request, but I am SO, SO, SO, SO hoping that both Springfield and Eugene's school districts cancel school tomorrow due to weather.

I'm scheduled to teach for the next two days - an assignment that I suspect might be quite tedious - so, to have it canceled....oh please, please, please.

And, my two kiddos are so hopeful as well.

Let's just say that if the snow does not come in like it is forecast to do - and does not cause the concern to promote canceling school....there will be three very unhappy members of the Riley family tomorrow.......

Monday, February 21, 2011

Surprise Visit

That couple that I just announced got engaged....well, they just stopped by my house for a surprise visit!!! Truly, I feel incredibly honored as I know they have so many folks to make their announcement to around Eugene en route back to Portland, so to know they stopped by to see me literally made my day.

I got some details - Brian did it right. He asked her parents, arranged for a special snowshoeing excursion (they are very outdoorsy and love the Oregon mountains), and then part of the way through their adventure he dropped down to one knee and asked her. Yes, she anticipated it, but with the fresh powder all over the majestic landscape and snow falling down, I'd say it was rather perfectly executed. To top it off, he arranged to have her best friend (along with his best friend) waiting at the restaurant (where they'd had their first date) that they went to eat at that night. Kelli was floored to see Heather and Steve sitting at the table awaiting them....I so appreciate that because when you are so's so hard to hold back telling all those closest to you, and yet, a phone call just won't do. Well played, Brian, well played.

What a treat to have them stop by, once again - so HAPPY for them!

Play Hard, Rest Hard

It's hard to believe there's snow in the forecast with days like today. As Michele and I took a walk together, I already saw a flower on one of the flowering plum trees and plenty of daffodils ready to bloom. Poor things, they'll be so confused come Wednesday when things shift dramatically weather-wise.

So here's a few pics of the girls playing on the trampoline - with a whole slew of balls and a sheet to do a kind of a modified parachute moms it makes us so content to see the three of them out there, getting fresh air and exercise - and actually, much of today that was spent inside was playing the Active Life game - which had their faces bright red and breathing hard as well.

I wish, however, that the kids could settle down as soundly and easily as Sydney in the evenings. If we were smart, we'd put Brayden and Mikayla to bed around 7 tonight, just to offset the lack of sleep they've gotten this weekend from playing so hard. Given tomorrow will be its own let down of having to return to school and not having their cousins around - added crankiness from sleep deprivation would not be good!

I know Sydney gets a lot of attention with this blog, but really, how could you resist snapping some photos of this? She looks like a little golden fox all curled up...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Lots O Fun

As a fun little sidenote - we just started a fire right now with the cedar planks that we purchased a HUGE bag of for $20 in the fall. It's leftovers from a lattice fence making company - and it would probably add up to be about six (or more) trashcans full of foot size or smaller planks. It doesn't exactly "stack" easy, but after using some of it before the garage was cleaned, we finally unloaded the bag into bins and lots of paper sacks filled with the scraps and newspaper to make for instant fire starters. The whole thing is ideal for us as the fires we make are generally more productive as ambiance vs. a real source of heat (not super efficient). And....oh, what a perfect fire it makes - dry cedar (it smelled SO GOOD when it was initially delivered) - and it makes all of those perfect crackling, poppy sounds....I think we'll be going this route every year - what a deal!

Okay, onto a recap of the weekend so far -

- The Civil War game. It was a total blow-out in favor of the Ducks. Good news for us, but it made for kind of a boring game. Michael actually took a nap. Irregardless, the boys all had fun and I'm so thankful for the excuse it provided to make for a fun weekend all together.

- "I Am Number Four". We ended up watching it last evening as Michael needed to head home today to complete some work in his "home" office today. It was great because he was finishing the novel en route to the theater - so that all six of us in attendance (Michael, Michele, Traig, Stephie, Brayden, and myself) had read the book. The critic I read in our newspaper pretty much hated it, so that was discouraging, however, it did not seem as though he'd read the book. He tried to make it sound as it was just another teen action movie that is a knock-off of the "Twilight" series. Huh?! We LOVED it. There was actually less language in the movie then there was the book - very few - and it really followed the plotline quite accurately with the changes that were made still in accordance with the end result (and probably an attempt to tell the story in two hours of film time). I'm not sure what you'd think if you hadn't read the book, but I can't imagine you'd be disappointed. On a personal note, the popcorn, soda, and snacks I had were especially noteworth-ily awesome. Nothing like the sweet taste of indulgence when you've been trying to be good for awhile. Sitting in there, watching the previews, soaking it seems insignificant, but it was definitely a happy moment. =)

- "Unstoppable". This was the movie choice to watch among us six adults when we got home. Denzel Washington and Chris Pine lead the cast of this story "influenced be true events" of a runaway train. The beginning is a little bit bogged down trying to give you enough set up of the details of the trainyard - but, it is necessary - and after that, the action is, well - "unstoppable"! Good movie, a tad more language (and gestures) than I would have preferred, but I'm guessing it was probably a realistic portrait of the real-life characters.

During this time, the girls transformed the kitchen and bonus room into an entire Playmobil city, making us happy that they are so happy.

As for this upcoming week, no school tomorrow - Michele and the kids will leave in the afternoon, some meetings and appts. Tuesday and Wednesday and then a two day assignment at the school I've been to most on Thursday and Friday. HOWEVER, there is SNOW in the forecast....particularly for Thursday and Friday - so we will just have to see. =) It's definitely OUR TURN, that's for sure.

P.S. - One of those engagements I thought might happen with the year....well, CONGRATULATIONS BRIAN AND KELLI! They were both at our Superbowl party (Kelli was sitting next to me on the couch and Brian was getting adorned by Mikayla and Erica with barrettes). I have yet to hear details, but I have no doubt the proposal was wonderful - and I'm very, very, very happy for them!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Worst. Third. Grade. Ever.

Yesterday I had an assignment that I was actually really looking forward to. It was to a school that I used to sub at frequently (as in "used to" - like twelve years ago). I was pleased when I walked into the office and the secretary actually recognized me, HOWEVER, that was quickly followed up with a "I'm so glad it's you...because that is a very difficult class". (That might not have been her wording, I'm "PC'ing" it a bit). Following that exchange, the principal walked by and quickly said nearly the same thing. Hmmmm, third grade, how bad can they be?

Well, I think it's telling when you walk into a classroom and see three rows of desks all set up nicely and then on the outskirts of the classroom you see 6 "island desks" each spaced apart from everyone else and each other. I'll label these "special students" (all boys) as D, S, M, H, Y, and R. Not a good sign.

The lesson plans were clear and easy to read, with lots of post it notes set aside for special scenarios - (If M causes any problems, send him to...., Y will be spending recess with you, R is on a special behavioral IEP so send him immediately to.... if there are any issues). This isn't a good sign either. As an added bonus, there was a major music production about to happen so there were notes on groups of kids that would be pulled to practice. OK, a little confusing, but no biggie.

I was ready to teach yesterday. Looking forward to it, in fact. I'd spent the week with too much time on my hands and I felt the need to feel productive. So, as the kids started entering the classroom I was on my game - making friends, rising to the challenge. Quickly, though, I was warned that I would have a hard time making it through the day and would NOT like the kids. Hmmm, definitely not a good sign.

Despite all this, I started off friendly and enthusiastic. I set up a deal where it was ME vs. CLASS in terms of points earned - if they had more than me by the end of the day then they got a treat (Smartie). I showed pics of Sydney being silly laying upside down and explained how I was a twin married to a twin to peak their interest. And, then we got down to far, so good. However, things begin to get a little messy in following the lesson plan when the music teacher arrived and monopolized half of my class at a time for the next 85 minutes. Kind of hard to give a spelling test to only a chunk of kids at a time (not knowing when the others would return). After recess, it became a battle with the health screener....(who did not really understand English) who told me she'd be taking half the class for maybe 10 minutes. That turned into an hour. If I knew it was going to be an hour, I could have adjusted, but at any moment thinking the kids would return, well, let's just say that a class that really demands structure had a lot of time to just "draw and silent read".

After lunch those "island kids" really began to show their true colors. "D" was always upset with someone, reporting who had said what mean thing to him about 6 times through the day, "S" was openly belligerent with me during the spelling test, mouthing off, "M" was a loose cannon - who fortunately seemed to have a decent enough connection with me that it was ok, but in reality he spent the first half of the day doing an elaborate comic strip involving tanks and gunfire. "H" spent more time out of his seat than in it - to which drove me CRAZY and had me raising my voice by the end of the day to have him glue his back end to his chair. "Y" was actually on very good behavior through the day - however he was the one kid who didn't have the packet he was supposed to work on and instead thought reading a noise making toddler book about "Aladdin" was a good substitute. And, finally, "R" was the behavioral IEP kiddo. He's the kind of kid that I could end up being fearful of as he gets older. We established a good connection because of the Duck gear we were both wearing, and I really only had him in my class for a couple of hours through the day, but he was incapable of sitting without making noise, and he seemed to delight in finding any fault in my speech pattern to fixate and making fun of. He also needed one on one help (demanding it) to get anything accomplished. I found myself catering to him in a way I would never dream of for other students....scary.

And, oh yeah, there were 22 other kids as well in the classroom. And, not to be gender biased, that also included two girls who would also not sit in their seat - who snuck around and drew pictures instead of taking tests....

I did identify the twelve or so kids in my note to the teacher that were helpful. I always feel sorry for those kids because they deserve credit in staying thoughtful when the kids around them are ruining things.

The really sad thing about the day occurred after they left, though. That was when I corrected their math tests and spelling tests - and discovered only about 4 of the kids of the entire class were able to pass either test. The average score on the spelling test (involving words such as: babies, cared, carried, hurried, wrapped....etc.) was 4 out of 12. Ouch. The classroom was filled with books on teaching, extra activities, supplemental stuff, and creative approaches. I can't imagine the teacher is lazy or does not know her stuff. But, I have to wonder how she feels each day, walking into that class wondering what she did wrong to end up with this group. It's clear the whole school knows that the group is challenging (the principal came in at the beginning of the day to give them a warning - fortunately that was during the more positive "honeymoon period" with them).

Soooo, what a day. Thank God, I didn't get a headache. I wasn't defeated by the end - so, technically, they didn't win. But, I'll have to think seriously before taking that assignment again (on the off chance I'm invited back). I may have won this battle, but I can't claim the confidence that they wouldn't take the win next time!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Proving that I'm Not Very Black and White...

Happy Thursday everyone - the three day weekend (at least for kiddos) is very close, woo hoo! The Schillings are coming down this weekend to attend the Civil War basketball game courtesy of Christmas present tickets given to all the "boys" from the Whites. And, then, on Sunday, we'll be going to see "I Am Number Four" in the movies. This is actually a good lead-in to some other stuff I was going to mention.

The movie is based on a young adult book that I read and then passed on to Brayden who passed it on to Steph who passed it on to Michele who passed it on to Traig and then to his dad. It looks like it was some pretty big guns (Spielberg) who put the movie together so I have high hopes. The book is not Christian, does have some language in it, (more than I would have preferred, but less than a kid is going to hear on any given day in a public high school). It's hard having a son who is VERY PICKY about what he reads - I find myself doing a lot of young adult reading just to find something that "clicks". This one did - and I'm thankful it's just the first of many promised in the series. Hopefully the movie will take the "higher road" and highlight the action vs. language or other "adult content".

Having said that, I find it amusing that I was also going to confess that my latest song download was Katy Perry's "Firework". When I first started hearing about that gal and the costumes she wore (including the low cut shirt on Sesame Street) I was appalled - and now, here I am, supporting her by purchasing one of her songs!'s a fun song! And, one that would help me pick up the pace in the gym for sure. It also brings back happy memories because the first time I ever heard it was when we were all loaded in the car returning from our sledding run in Sunriver - played on the Disney XM channel. The words are actually quite inspiring. All this just leads me to recognize that I'm not a "black and white" mom when it comes to rules for this home and what we watch, read, or listen to. Perhaps I should be more - but, I am pleased with the results we are actually seeing in our kiddos when it comes to discernment.

This "confession" may come back and bite me, but the other day I was upset with Mikayla for trying to control me and the decisions I make (it was concerning her saying "no, don't take it" to a job offer that day). I was already irked at her so she knew I was serious. She said, "I'm sorry Mom, I'm acting just like 'Michelle' from the "Bachelor"". So, yes, she has watched that show with us - and yes, her comparison in that moment was spot-on....but...... well, I think you know why I'd have mixed feelings about it all. Not the bast programming for her to view, however, to her credit, she seems to be absorbing a lot about human nature and character - and what is attractive in a person and what is not. Oh sigh....I'm opening myself to lots of character judgment simply by admitting all of this, but, for the sake of transparency, there you go.

On a final note - I received the most hilarious forwarded email from Michele pertaining to "creative responses" that a teacher might add to report cards for those "underachieving" children. I'm not going to throw myself under the bus even more by putting them up on this post as they are definitely not "PC", but if you are curious, feel free to let me know and I'll Facebook message them.... Our family laughter in the car about such "political incorrectness" on the way to church (after a delightful dinner with Leona!) just demonstrates one more way that our family is anything but the ideal role models for perfect living......

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Love Is in the Air

Or, at the very least, it's in my evidenced by all of these:

Given the age range of our chosen ministry, we knew this was bound to happen....but, for sure this year is when it is definitely coming in to play. At this point, we know of four weddings we'll be attending within the next six months - and I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn of about three more engagements happening within that time too. Fun stuff!

In the picture above, the two postcards are "Save the Date" cards, when did that start becoming the norm? I think it's a brilliant idea, unless you are paying for the wedding - and then it's just one more decision to make and pay for...but, oh the creativity I've seen and photography.... And, as for that actual invite, I'm so excited to see Brayden and Mikayla's names on the envelope too. (The way to my heart is often found by lovin' on my kids!). Not to mention the fact that this bride had these invites postmarked in Bridal Veil, Oregon - and had stamps especially made with her and her future groom's names on them.

I think we'd be smart to start saving all of these, for future reference. But, let me make this clear that would be a long, long, long, long time in the future!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentines Day

Ah, don't those look tasty? A little blueberry for my little girl Valentine, and a little chocolate chip for my little boy Valentine.

I hope you have a day full of love and blessings.......

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Ding Dong...

Just now, the doorbell rang and I uttered an "Oh no"... After having cleaned out and organized the garage today and deciding not to go anywhere tonight, I'm not in the best state of physical appearance. (But, emotionally, overjoyed that our disastrous garage is put in order and FINALLY all of the Christmas decor and wrapping supplies are put away - thank you so much honey for doing the bulk of the work!!).

So, John went to the door, opened it, and I heard...nothing. No greeting or anything. Instead, Mikayla who went to the door with him, bounded back into the living room with a little box of Valentines candy, tiny teddy bear, and a card that said Mikayla. Ahhh, I figured it was from Kenady or another good friend of her's. was from a boy in her grade, but in another class, named Luke. Well, now....

Mikayla went to town testing the chocolates, determining if any were just plain like her beloved Hershey's bar - and when John asked her if this was her first real valentine from a boy she said, "Nope, last year I got one from Max". I think I remember that and may have even mentioned it in a blog post then. Neither of these boys were even in her class at the time, and apparently both of them run away from her and Kenady at recess...but, when all is said and done, I guess she has had a few closet followers.

I hope this is all indicative of the perfect balance yet to come of enough attention to encourage her confidence a bit, but nothing so over the top that we have to purchase a shotgun....... =)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Slow Thaw

Last night was a battle. Not with John, Brayden, or Mikayla, but with was long, fierce, and I think I, just barely, scored the victory. But, it sure wasn't easily won.

I'm not sure what really started it. I had an excellent day teaching that same class I had right before Christmas break. There's a couple of kids that have more "energy" than the rest of the group - and they both just happened to be absent. What a shame.... =)

However, I had this attitude looming over me about what would be taking place in the evening hours. Instead of coming home, getting into pj's, and cozying up with my family to decompress in front of "American Idol Auditions", I'd be attending our church's new Wednesday night service. I WAS NOT HAPPY ABOUT THIS.

Matters were not helped when I got home and saw just one of the three "claims" notices we've already received regarding Brayden's hospital stay. I wonder if I'd gotten Brayden in to see the doctor the same day I took Mikayla if we could have avoided the $3000 we'll probably end up having to shell out.....AGHHHH! Throw in a previous bad night's sleep, complexion issues that remind me of Mt. Vesuvius, and a scale that's numbers are moving in the wrong direction and I had myself one raging pity party going on.

So, by the time John got home, all giddy about going to church and seeing people and making new friends (things I've felt like I've already been doing a whole lot of lately) - I was downright scary for him to be around.

When we arrived at church, there were some questions about what to do with the kids. Apparently, we should have known Brayden should have been dropped off at Harlow. And, even though Mikayla attends on Sunday, because Wednesday is AWANAS night, a whole new registration process was necessary. By the time I walked downstairs, I was irritable....(and yes, time of the month could have had something to do with it). I found my seat where John had put us, at a great table with the Meyers, Whites, and Kaela and Elaina - a huge positive, but that had little effect in beginning to thaw me out. Then, I looked down at the program and saw the Elder report in which the list of names on the Elder Search/Interview Committee were printed. Yes, my name is on that list of seven people, which convicted me all the more that I really had to shape up my bad attitude, because somebody had found me worthy of such an honor in the past (when the committee was decided), and I'd really like to not prove them wrong in the present.

So, I struggled. John would put his arm around me during prayer or worship and I felt like squirming out of it - I did NOT want to be touched. That would risk more thawing - and I was in the mood to be made of ice. It was at about the third song that was played that I started to "get it" - this was an act of "radical obedience" I was being asked to be a part of, and my response was anything but pleasing to the Lord. Interesting how I can spot a spiritual battle someone else might be facing a mile away, but when I'm in the midst of it, I'm much slower.

The book we are reading within our Tuesday night group is called WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WOMEN SAY YES TO GOD by Lysa TerKeurst. We are getting a lot out of it. This last chapter (#3) was especially challenging as it addressed following God even when it is something that you might not want to especially do - or give up. Early in the chapter, when she talked about something that was hard for her and her husband, she quoted her husband who said, "Sometimes we work so hard to make a heaven on earth that our hearts are pulled away from our real home with God". Oh man - that's ME. I am constantly in search of the euphoria moments when "all is well" and I, and my family are all happy, happy, happy. But, let me tell you, they don't last. And, sometimes, the effects are not pleasing. (i.e. - euphoria for me means eating yummy food and if that continues, I'm very unhappy with the consequences). Giving up Wednesday nights at home would take away my pursuit of cozyness and comfort.

I don't think it's a coincidence that this chapter - for this week - when I'm struggling with budgeting my calories, time, and spending that all bring me pleasure momentarily - would have this paragraph:

"God, I know You are more powerful than this pull I am feeling. I know this thing I think I want so much will only provide temporary pleasure. I know the consequences of making this choice will rob my joy and peace in the near future. Through Your power I am making the choice to walk away. I will find my delight in You and look forward to feeling Your fullness replace the emptiness this desire is creating."

So, very-long-story-short, I began to thaw out last night. I can't say I all of a sudden became warm and open to the thrill of the Wednesday night decision (John did - oh man, he loved it). But, I can see how it would be a very positive choice for our family - drawing Brayden into a smaller and more intimate group setting with the middle school group, and giving Mikayla even more opportunity to learn and play. And, for us, being part of a very relaxed and interactive community/congregation - and seeing how this new format unfolds (the style of Ben's teaching and worship music are spot on for us during this service). But, I anticipate, for a while, at least, every Wednesday evening will be a battle. At least, now, I know why.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Superbowl Sunday

On the first meeting of our Tuesday nights with the ladies, Heather turned to me and said, "Are you guys going to do another Superbowl party like you did last year - that was so much fun, I want to know that you are going to do it again!". Given it was the middle of September, it was definitely not on the forefront of my planning (there's a little thing like Christmas that had me distracted), but I promised her we would nonetheless.

So, here we are on Superbowl Sunday - and we completely gave the reigns to Heather and Kaela as to who would be coming - while we took care of the house to have people gather at and the food to consume. While we are technically in the collegiate ministry - it seems that this year our focus has become more "post-collegiate". That was certainly the case for today - Heather and Kaela made the guest list include a majority of folks who were no longer in college - which is just fine, as the FBC Guys' House (AO House) was hosting their own party, so hopefully everyone ended up being taken care of.

One of the first guests was Aaron - he's getting married this summer, we'll have to see if he decides to get a haircut before then....

Kaela used John's camera to take most all of these pictures - with the wide-angle lens - so some of the images are a little distorted (and wider than normal) on the edges....

This is a tribute to Aunt Laura as Brayden was one of the few rooting for the Steelers among the crowd.

Me, Heather, and Kelli. Kelli now lives in Portland, but was Julie and Heather's roommate last year. I so wish she still lived down here as she would be such a perfect part of our Tuesday night group of ladies too....(and I'd get to see her a lot more often as well!)

On the left is Amanda (one of Kaela's roommates) and Elisa

This is the "Prediction Board" for what every one thought the end score would turn out to be. What do you know, but Mikayla won. (There wasn't anything to actually win except bragging rights).

A rear view of the crowd....

A little overhead view of the condiments table - it was southwestern fare today - tacos and nachos, and burritos....

This was Will's reaction to Cyrus walking into the house. These two are literally the two tallest guys in attendance, so to see Cyrus take all of Will's weight, was kind of impressive.

I would say that less than half of the crowd actually cared about the game - in fact, many of them just hung out in the kitchen having their own kind of reunion.

The weather was mild enough for the girls to be able to play on the trampoline - its the first time its been used in 2011.

This is a picture of the "younger crowd" in attendance - it did not include the Quigleys or us Rileys...

At halftime, it was game time for us - a repeat of last year's adventure. I wasn't planning on playing (as evidenced by me not being in this pic), but when they broke into two teams, they were a player short, so I joined in.

I was a little late getting outside as I was busy setting this up...

I think my team might have actually been better off without me - notice how it looks like I had this reception totally in the bag....(and an impressive jump by Heather!)

...but then, there's Kimmie with the interception....darn it anyway!

Who knew that she was a Powderpuff player all through high school and college?!

Even though he was on the other team, I have to brag on my son that he took an interception and ran it all the way back - nearly making the score - but, on the next play getting the catch to make it happen.

Meanwhile, inside, things were a little more subdued. What a great pic of Lisa and Erica.

And another great shot of Adam and Erica...

The two tall guys - that were the two team captains for the outdoor halftime game. The other team won...... =(

Here's the second half crowd and look Kaela's actually in a crowd picture!

Elaina showed up in the second half too..... =)

Lisa looks super engrossed in the game, don't you think? That's her dad, Fred, on the beanbag - so great to have him here when, last fall, we were praying for him to undergo major bypass surgery for a heart attack.

A couple of our couples. This is Kelli and her boyfriend, Brian...he joined us in the second half.

And this is Daniel and Genna. We went to their wedding last summer and Daniel works with John. It's a very small world as Genna lived at the Trinity House and is friends with a lot of the ladies who were here. They made no apology that they were here just for the post-game "Glee" episode and could care less about the Superbowl. =)
Ah Will, I've missed seeing you around - (he was studying in Mexico fall term). John, Travis, Will, Walt, and Aaron (first picture) get together on Thursday nights, but they are now meeting at the guys' house, so I don't see them very often. Both Mikayla and Sydney made up for lost time giving him attention.

After the game, prior to the "Glee" episode, Mikayla and Erica had fun at Brian's expense doing his "hair" - he was a good sport about it. Kimmie ended up being their patients too (and I think Kaela, Heather, and Kelli....) as they decided to go from hairdressers to doctors.

About half the group left when "Glee" aired, which is good, because the crowd in attendance were much more attentive to the tv during that show vs. the Superbowl. I can't say that it was my favorite episode of all time, but the "Thriller" performance was certainly impressive.

What a great day - thanks Heather, for making sure that this happened!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

A Little Duck Basketball and a Lot of Catching Up

As Travis was in attendance watching Thursday's night's Duck basketball win over Washington State, he was full of enthusiasm Friday night to convince John and Brayden that they should all get tickets to go to the game today against Washington. The Duck basketball team is definitely a "work in progress", but it seems being in the brand new Matt Arena has brought some extra spark to their game.

So, that's where the boys spent their afternoon - and had a phenomenal time as the Ducks did indeed beat the Washington Huskies. They had the lead throughout the game, but it was a close enough score to keep everything very interesting and a little nerve-wracking in the final seconds.

Meanwhile, Stephie and I hung out with Mikayla at our house - and for a change, spent the entire time talking. I say "for a change" because, with Stephie, it's like being with Michele - a "sister" - in the sense that just being together is enough - and often we co-exist by doing our favorite cozy things together, reading, thumbing through magazines or watching tv, but that to often means we aren't actually hitting the deep subjects. Today, we made up for lost time, and it was totally rewarding.

When I went through my past blog posts, I looked for one that I could use to define in a general sense who Travis and Stephanie are. They are referred to in practically every other post as they are a constant in our lives, but I couldn't find a post that explained the relationship.

Long story short - they are our extended/adopted family. John and Travis met before I even knew John - he was a person who came to John when John owned his own stereo/alarm installation business to have a system put in his vehicle. I came into the picture and then when John began working for Rosen Products (the company that first created the tv screens that go in vehicles), Stephanie worked as a secretary there (Travis and Steph were already a couple at that point). Our paths started crossing over bit by bit, but it wasn't until Brayden was born that we really started hanging out. They fell in love with our little man - and their love and affection towards him had us loving their company and them that much more. Pretty soon, we were hanging out nearly every weekend, spending time on the boat that Travis (through his dad) had, and planning upcoming vacations together....including their honeymoon....

YES, you read that right, THEIR honeymoon. Travis and Steph had originally planned to do a destination wedding in Hawaii. However, that idea went a bit by the wayside, but they still wanted to go there for their honeymoon - and wanted us (as their best man and matron of honor) to go with them. Unfortunately, we were limited by Marriott and United as to where we could afford to go. At that point, John was traveling constantly, and had amassed a lot of points to stay and fly through those vendors. But.....United couldn't take us to Hawaii. Travis and Steph's response...."Well, where can you go through United?" Not only were we influencing their honeymoon destination location, but we ended up determining WHEN they got married based on when the points would work. Nutty, huh? That's the story of how they ended up with a St. Patrick's anniversary and we all ended up in Aruba for a week together ten years ago. (Our gift to them was to upgrade all of us to first class, and to give them certificates in order to stay for significantly less price at the Hyatt (we stayed in a nearby Marriott)).

As the years have gone on, they've become our brother and sister - and "second parents" to Brayden and Mikayla. They still have not chosen to have kids - so our kids get extra special attention and love as we share them with the Whites.

I think all of the posts referencing their names and pictures showing us together probably illustrate more than any definition I could give of just how important they are in our lives. Our vacations are made brighter by them, our marriages are all made stronger by each others' words of counsel and encouragement (not to mention correction!), and for sure, our kids are more spoiled, er, I mean loved on, because of them. I know this friendship and mutual appreciation of one another is rare indeed, so we don't take it for granted - especially when you throw the Schillings (my twin sis' family) into the mix and find that all three of our families coexist happily too.

So, while today, in itself, wasn't anything - above and beyond - memorable in comparison to all of the other memories we've shared, I figured I'd take the time to pay tribute to Travis and Steph - as they are indeed priceless in our lives.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Under Construction

Happy Thursday Everyone - for those of you on the eastern half of the United States - hang in there and stay warm....and for those of us in Oregon, enjoy the brisk sunshine......

I've been thinking that as I have been blogging for 5 years now (yippee...but, oh how I wish I'd started even earlier.....) - and am nearing on 1500 blog posts, it might be a good idea to create a sidebar list of some of my "Favorite Posts" so that those who visit me or stumble upon my blog, might get a better idea of who I am. I've already put some of them up, but let me just say that this is a bit of a challenge - I think I might spend some time looking through the books that I've already printed to make it easier (though, unfortunately, I'm only caught up with three books over the 6 calendar years I've been at this). (And, see, there's another idea, I ought to put up the post that describes why I blog and how I do eventually put all these posts into annual books).

So, bear with me, and know that there's more to come. My poor kids barely got mentioned in the posts I've already put up, so for sure, I'm not done yet!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

At Least I'm Consistent.....

All in all, yesterday was a very good day. I had my doubts, however, when I walked into the school where I was subbing only to be told that another substitute would be informing me of the lesson plans, as she is the one taking over the classroom for two weeks (bereavement leave), but on that day, had already been scheduled in another classroom. Between hearing that and seeing the one or two word "lesson plans" per subject in the lesson book, I figured I was set for another day of arduous employment.... However, the kids (who were actually 4th graders and not 3rd), were excellent, I found myself smiling a lot, and no headache came on.....! I also ended up having quite the chat at the end of the day with the other sub. Talk about a life derailing....but I was glad I could be there for her - a stranger in her life just to spill some secrets to - and help to process the changes in her life that were taking place even as we sat together, as evidenced by the texts she was getting on her phone.

When I got home, I hurried into Betty Crocker mode to prepare Dutch Babies for our Tuesday night group. I prepared the toppings, got the bacon ready - and then struggled with the Dutch Babies. This is something I know by heart - and make a ton, so why it chose not to work (didn't rise right) yesterday when I was ready to enchant the crowd with its "wow" factor is beyond me. I think it had something to do with the foil pans I had to use to fit in our oven simultaneously.... Oh well, I did plenty of disappointed whining last night with the girls - they liked them anyway - so maybe I'll just put a single batch together another night, made with the right pan - and let them see just what they were missing. One of those little lessons in life that screams, "Get over, yourself, Steph.....".

Following "breakfast-dinner" we were on our way to Strike City for some bowling. Right away, Heather and Courtney dazzled us - in fact we totally thought we were getting hustled by Courtney. It turns out, though, that she's not so consistent. The first three frames were "Strike", "Two Gutters", "Strike"....we had fun laughing with her. I, on the other hand, was quite consistent - hitting "9" on most of my frame totals. While that's a narrow miss from the goal on each frame, by never getting a spare or a strike, it does nothing for the grand total score. I ended up getting two spares by the end to have me narrowly take second place. I beat Stephie by 1....she wasn't too happy. =) (Especially since the "Spare" that gave me that 1 point lead only happened because the last pin dropped on accident...)

Courtney and Heather:

Heather has some "mad skills" and the kind of form that tells you she knows what she's doing...

Courney and Elaina - our b-day girls this weekend....but, at this point, they didn't know we knew that! =)

Me and Steph....

Heather and Kaela (who provided all these pics I'm using....)

The final scores of our group - these scores are so impressive, huh?!

Upon returning home, we surprised the b-day girls with a cake that Kaela had picked up....

...and flowers and cards provided by Heather.

Sadly, our group was reduced by two this week - Christi was "sick-sitting" her fiance who has the flu, and Kimmie was recuperating from her own emotionally taxing day. I guess that just means we'll have to schedule another "fun night" with our group soon so that we can make sure they don't miss out. =)