Thursday, September 29, 2011

Funnies from Facebook

There must have been some pronouncement that today was funny picture day on Facebook that apparently I missed - as several of my friends put up stuff that just made me laugh out loud. In the spirit of open sharing - as well as an effort to clear the gruesome spider pictures from being what you first see when you access my blog, I thought I'd pass them along:

(Yes, my daughter is a blonde....but she laughed right along with Brayden and I)

No explanation needed...

The real explanation:

Happy Thursday everyone - I'm so ready to get to Friday!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Caution: Disturbing Images Ahead

I know I'm taking the risk of losing a few followers/blog readers here, but I have to admit the images below actually delighted me. I know there are a lot of folks out there that are scared of spiders. I don't happen to be one of them, unless they are bigger than a that point, I don't need to be any where around them. But, these guys - these garden spiders that seem to explode all over come September, they actually bring me delight. Because, they eat flies. And, I HATE FLIES. I inherited this from my mom, I know it. She shares in this loathing. Nothing can drive me crazy faster than to have flies buzzing around my head while I'm trying to make dinner or relax in the living room. AHHHHH!

So, to see this guy wrapping up his dinner which happens to be my archenemy....power to him!!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

CCF: Back in Action

Just got a give a shout-out to our Ducks. Another great win over Arizona, our players really dazzled during this game, and we felt super excited for our buddy, Kenjon Barner who had quite the come-back game and scored a couple of touchdowns. It's a bye week for us this weekend - with a Thursday night game next week.

On Sunday, Mikayla had the first of her pre-season volleyball clinics and Brayden had football practice. Eventually, they both headed over to hang with Andrew and Christina while John and I flew solo (without the kids) to the first CCF of the year.

As evidenced by these pictures, it was VERY well attended. Corey gave an outstanding "Come to Me (Jesus speaking)" message, just the perfect kind of message to encourage those attending for the first time that we are all real people, with real struggles and worries - and oh so much hope can be found in Jesus. John and I are trying to be more intentional in "starting over" with the younger set - many of our "originals" have "flown the nest", and while those relationships are also important for us (in many cases) to maintain, it's time to step out and try to re-introduce ourselves to the new folks. It's never easy, but I feel like I'm better equipped with the right people to strategically "link me" with other gals.

This morning, I find myself with a nice little cold (thanks, Brayden, for passing that one on) - given the gray rain outside right now, it sounds like the perfect day to snuggle up with a blanket, book, Russian tea, and the full DVR of new season shows. Too bad errands and laundry are a higher priority!

Saturday, September 24, 2011


I took a walk this morning with Sydney. At around 9:30, it was probably about 65 degrees - not a cloud in the sky, and just the glorious embodiment of what the end of September should look like. Along the walk, I crunched on golden leaves, I ducked beneath the perfectly circular webs stretching along the tree branches, with their designers sitting straight in the middle, and I smelled the fragrance of wild blackberries still ripe, thanks to summer starting so late around here. Rain is expected to come with a vengeance tomorrow, so I really tried to soak it all in....BEE-EAUT-I-FULL!!

As for last night, we took a trip to the movies with the kids to see "A Dolphin's Tale". Pretty much the perfect family movie to go to, I can't recommend it high enough as far as the sweet message and endearment. It's exactly what our family needed, as it had been a week of some pent up tension, particularly for Brayden, who isn't exactly the kind of kid who enjoys every moment being taken up by school and practices. Thank God for a day like today, with nothing on the docket but hanging with friends and watching football on tv....
Last night I also finished Lauren Oliver's book, "Delirium". The premise of the plot had intrigued me, but it wasn't until Jenny B. Jones suggested it on her blog that I finally purchased it myself and gave it a read. It's set in an unknown-as-to-exactly-when future United States of America in which the government has enclosed itself to create a "safe" place where all citizens are "cured" of love. Love has been determined to be the root of all chaos and ultimately evil - so to rid its existence is the only way to guarantee order. I've read better written books, I am not thrilled that the handful of expletives were necessary for the author to include, and it took a while for the action to kick in...HOWEVER, the concept of such a mandatory "cure" is very, very intriguing. Before each chapter, the author adds fictional excerpts from government resources and propaganda that gives reasoning as to why living in a world muted from any extremes of emotion would be so much better than living with the "disease" of love. It is not a Christian novel, but as a Christian, I felt like there was quite a prevailing theme that one could come away with as to what God truly feels for us, and how powerful the depth of that is.
A final recommendation that fits right with the season. I know I've been talking about the Yankee Harvest Candle...oh so good. But, Walmart now carries some jar candles by Better Homes and Gardens. They are less than $5, and the Country Kettle Corn scent, my goodness, so yummy! The smell carries through the house too, as it currently is right now.

So that's my two cents - happy weekend everyone!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Happy Autumn!

First day of Fall....ahhhhhhhh!

We still have temps in the 80's here, but that's set to change next week. I see rain on the horizon, and we Oregonians are almost yearning for it. (But don't remind us of that next May when it's been going on straight for 5 months!).

So, pic of the day - a burning Yankee Harvest favorite - and sunflowers straight from my mom's garden:

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thoughts for Thursday

It's at about this point in the week that I realize what poor blogger I've been, but can't seem to muster the energy to put up a post on any single event that's happened. So, that leaves me with another bullet point post:
  • On Sunday morning, one of the moms of the girls in Mikayla's class passed away. She'd been fighting a rare form of lung cancer and had put up a valiant fight for the last couple of years. I never actually met her. Her husband, Jack, is the "stay at home dad" and was actually Mikayla's first soccer coach. He's an amazing guy, so I have to believe the same about his wife. They have two daughters; one who's friends with Mikayla - and another who's in Brayden's class. They'll be having a celebration of life I'll attend next week. Oh how my heart pours out for that family...
  • I had my first "start of the new school year" meeting with a post-college gal yesterday. Oh, the beauty of life experience to be able to share with those going through similar trials.
  • Brayden had his second "real game" yesterday. They beat this team 30-0, the game prior was 32-0. When the scores are this lopsided, the "Mercy Rule" comes into play in which our coach will lose the ability to coach for the next game if we score again. Direct quote from Brayden to the coach, "So, if I catch an interception, what do you want me to do?" His answer, "Run it down to the one and take a knee". It didn't happen, but I love that kid's optimism.
  • However - and it took me through this morning to sort through my "unsettled-ness" about the whole thing - I find myself struggling with "heightened expectation" for his performance on each game. Yesterday, there was a lofty pass that it looked like it was Brayden who caught it, only to discover it was #3 and not #8 - and I'd celebrated my son's stellar reception in error. I think with John's mom, my mom and dad, and the Whites there for the game - I'm in this position of feeling like the coach needs to play him more, he needs to do more, or maybe he just needs to be one of the other kids who are faster, flashier, and bigger. It's totally my own issue, I'm just 'fessin' up - (and, for the record, I love my son for exactly the kid that he's just that sports can sometimes be a hard thing for parents)
  • Tonight is the first night back with our "Tuesday Night Ladies" who have now become the "Thursday Night Ladies" due to schedule changes. I think I'll start referring to them as my TNL's - that way it can apply to both groups, including Courtney who's at med school, Christi, who's married up in Portland, and Amanda - who's new to join us this year. It feels like so long since we've all gotten together, I'm so happy to be able to be together again.
  • And, speaking of Christi - I for sure get to see her again today too. She may or may not be able to join us on select Thursday evenings as she's taken one day a week to return to Bello to hold on to some of her favorite clients (or clients, like me and John, who are unwilling to let her go). I'm finally getting my hair done and returning to a little more auburn - so excited!
  • Did I mention how much fun last week's sub assignment was? I get to return there again on Friday afternoon.....hopefully it will be another great way to end the week.
  • And, finally, and for the record - after feeling very loopy all Monday, I've felt great for the rest of the week. Thank God I've felt such a full recovery from Sunday's horrid-ness.
  • Alrighty, I've been ignoring pleas for help in blow-drying hair and making lunches for too get going!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Great Weekend Until...

...after church on Sunday. But, I'll get to that chronologically - and start with Friday.

FRIDAY: Excellent day - and even better afternoon as I tackled my first day back subbing. The class was so sweet, engaging, and ready to listen to my stories....I see the start of something very good. I'm already scheduled to return this Friday afternoon and needless to say, I have no concerns on how that will go - or dread for showing up. This teacher is new for me to sub for, so it was good to already have a positive email exchange about how pleased she was with the sub report - as well as a positive conversation with one of the other new-to-the-bldg 5th grade teachers who has my "business card" as well. I'd love to be able to make the majority of my assignments happen for this school as well as Walterville which I also adore...

FRIDAY EVENING: We had the first football hang-out over at the Whites. These times with them, with football on tv, magazines and books in hand are part of what makes this season so great. =)

SATURDAY: We were at Autzen Stadium for the first time this year....oh, so good to be back, and fun to bring the kids along on this game. We were playing Missouri State and the teams were grossly mismatched. The final score was 56-7, which could have looked a whole lot different had we not played so many reserves. I will gave Missouri State credit, though, their first possession of the ball led them down the field to a touchdown which left the stadium a little speechless. We didn't let that happen again, but they had to feel good for the first five minutes!

We really enjoy most of our seatmate neighbors. However, the folks that sit to the left of me ended up selling their tickets to friends of the folks sitting above us. They have an almost four year old named Cade that they were trying to bribe to make it through the whole game. Given the lack of suspense of the game, I found myself very distracted by sweet little Cade - trying to pull him out of his shyness. Mikayla and Brayden also took to him. I made "Facebook friends" with Mom so I could get these pics to her....she said that Cade is already asking when is the next "Go Ducks game he can go to with his new friends.....". Looks like we might be investing in some more tickets for the game just to keep the friendship going.... =)

Pizza and more football viewing/lounging after the game polished off our Saturday night.

SUNDAY: With many of Brayden's football games now on Wednesday night, we are temporarily returning to our Sunday church timeslot. It's good for the kids to get in to their real Sunday school classes for a while rather than the "looser" curriculum (more games) on Wednesdays. In a "pure genius" move, our collegiates organized a pre-church tailgater for folks to show up to as early as two hours prior to church. They had outdoor games set out and a whole slough of food, including a camp stove to make pancakes with. It was well attended and super great to encourage these UO students to not only attend the Sunday evening CCF on campus, but to also make church a priority too. (Pictures courtesy of Kaela)

(The house managers for the AO House and Trinity House praying...Sunday was move-in day)

(If it's not obvious, Heather and Emily are lamenting their loss to the boys)

The service was great - Pastor Ben re-emphasized our church's vision for "Homothumadon" a Greek word used a lot in Acts pertaining to the urge to create family/community. Loved it.

After church, though - leading back to the title....was spent entirely in bed, with ice packs - and throwing up. Not sure what inspired the migraine, other than maybe bad posture while reading/lounging, but it was a doozy and lasted through the evening. Fortunately, I did eventually get a good night's sleep and feel drastically better today, but still a little "hung-over" and always fearful of the return of symptoms. My week really picks up on Wednesday, so thank God these next two days are dedicated primarily to house-cleaning, laundry and errands.

Oh well, it's been a while since such an episode has hit me, got to be thankful for that - and, as always, for my Mom that helps keep it all in check. I'm trying to keep a positive spin on it all, can you tell?

So, with all that shared, how was your weekend?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Relieved to Wake Up

In the last week, I've had two distinct dreams about my children. Let me begin by saying I do NOT have the gift of prophetic dreams, if that were the case the world would have been overrun by technologically-advanced aliens long ago, or I would have come in "fourth" on American Idol. ("Fourth" seems to be the common denominator on that sort of dream....hmmmm.....)

That being said, these dreams did kind of disturb me.

The first one was regarding Mikayla. For whatever reason, I let her go to the mall with some unknown "friend" and they did a makeover on her - chopping off her golden locks and covering them with jet black, piercing her, and giving her a look that epitomized rebellious "teen". When I saw her I was irate and crushed, and thought (if not said aloud in the dream), this is the moment when "I lost her" - she became someone different. If only I'd been more careful.

I told the dream to Mikayla and she scowled at me about the absurdity of ever changing her appearance, but did kind of get distracted with the idea of "going to the mall".... =)

The second dream was about Brayden. It was much more obscure, but for whatever reason, he had had a series of conversations through social media that led to a horrible conclusion of him getting caught up in the wrong crowd and, following the same theme, becoming "lost to us". In this dream I found myself thinking, "I blew it", I was too self-centered on my own activities to keep careful track of his and if only that hadn't been the case, this never would have happened.

In the light of day, these are not pressing concerns in my mind. I know the triggers for these two dreams, and while they are "little" obstacles for us to sort through (i.e. - interest from the opposite sex for both kids...(with no feelings reciprocated, fyi) and conversations with friends about social media) they are not issues I grapple with worry over. It IS a hard balance to determine if you are giving too much space and too little grace or vice versa at this age - but, we're still a pretty united front as a family as evidenced by this conversation with Brayden about the dream last night.

Me: Description of both dreams to the kids as we were sharing a special "cozy moment" last night.

Brayden: After gasping at the description of what he was like in my dream, Brayden said, "Oh Mom, that's like a parent's worst nightmare!"

Somehow, even in his realization and thoughtfulness over what that would be like for us, it proved that, at least for now, these nightmares are just that - and not even approaching reality.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Just Pluggin' Along

Happy Wednesday Everyone....

Onto randomness about how life is going around here:
  • Oregon has really blessed us in the last couple of days with the kind of weather that's just ideal for this time of year....the forecast appears to give us more of the same....kind of a cozy fog in the morning with temps reaching low 70's and sunshine in the afternoon. Couldn't ask for better...
  • The family across the backyard fence from us (that is most affected by our antics when we jump on the trampoline) took in three full grown ducks this summer. Apparently they rescued them from a family that was abusing them. Since that time, Sydney has been obsessed with watching them, laying on our side of the fence, digging a hole to see them better. One of the ducks likes to fly just high enough to perch on the top of the fence. He hangs out there, just watching. Syd has given up trying to catch him, but that fence line is precarious....and one of these days..... In the meantime, I enjoy looking out our patio door and staring back at the duck. (Pics to come, though I've got to say, I don't think I've ever seen uglier coloring on a duck....)
  • I've got my first two sub assignments coming up. They are on the next two Fridays, from 12-4:00, which means I'll only have about 2 and a 1/2 hours of class time with the kids. Both assignments are for the same fifth grade teacher/class that replaced the teacher I subbed for all the time last year that retired. Hopefully, I'll make a good impression and adore the kiddos and it will be the start of more request-backs to come.
  • Brayden's first real football game is tonight. The Jamboree went well, though the first team we played against were giants. I'm pretty sure if you had two Braydens and had one stand on the shoulders of the other, it might just meet the height of one of their linemen...
  • The Football 101 Event that we put on last Friday was very successful, one of these days I'll get a post up about it and tuck it in chronologically to where it's supposed to go in my blog.
  • School is going just fine for both kids...the waking up, however, is still a bear for all of us!
  • Finally, my mom and dad are headed east this morning to Jackson Hole and Yellowstone to celebrate the wedding of my dad's cousin's son, Jason. He's the closest thing I've ever had to a real cousin (my parents are both only children), so in more ways than one, it's a bummer we aren't making the trip to see him marry his long-time girlfriend in the gorgeous scenery of the Grand Tetons. Happy traveling, Mom and Dad - and give them both a huge hug from us!

Monday, September 12, 2011

More Wedding Pics Courtesy of Kaela Mey Photography

I'm putting these additional pictures up to give you more of a sense of how beautiful the wedding on Saturday night was, as my little "point and shoot" did not give it justice. Not to mention, they are prime "Pinterest" fodder, especially if you are putting together a "wedding" board (as I may or may not be doing for my kids to someday use.....) =)

Ah, Sarah. Her new sister-in-law (Ryan's sister) is looking at her in the reflection.

Where we dined....

The appetizer area, right near the "Photo Booth" - a clever combo for guests to pass the time while the bride and groom take the post-wedding photos.

The cupcakes, in lieu of wedding cake.

And, my favorite idea, by far - the Candy Bar, with containers marked with the bride and groom's name to fill the candy in.

In place of a guest book, each person put a "thumb print" leaf onto this canvas and put their family initials or name on it. So beautiful and creative...

Love this picture of the gals all taking a Starbucks break on such a hot afternoon...

Mikayla and I posing. Noticeably obvious are my dark roots, I can't wait for Christy to get back from her honeymoon so I can have her return my hair color to a more auburn hue. Next Thursday can't come fast enough....(and in the meantime, I utilized Clairol's Root-Touch-Up this that stuff!)

Cute seat sign for the bride and groom.

Finally, as we were all finishing our meals, they had Ryan and Sarah sit back to back. They each removed their shoes and gave one to the other. They were then asked a series of questions of who "did first", or "would be more likely to", etc....for them to answer. I think they were almost 100% accurate in the their like answers - which doesn't surprise me at all. =)

Thanks, Kaela, for these much-improved pictures compared to mine!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Our 9/11 Story

This week, John was contacted by a reporter for the Springfield Times, the paper for our neighboring city. As per our sister-in-law, Laura's, suggestion, the reporter had contacted John to hear his story regarding our family's experience on 9/11. While I hardly find our story worthy of a front-page story, it ended up appearing that way in Friday's paper. Here's the story:
by Craig Murphy
Springfield Times Editor

That Tuesday morning seemed to be yet another routine travel day for John Riley.

It turned out to be anything but.

John, a Springfield resident at the time, didn't get to leave the Newark Marriott Hotel in New Jersey that day and catch a flight to Atlanta.

Across the river from John on September 11, 2001, the World Trade Center was hit by two airplanes in a terrorist attack that killed thousands.

John was on what ended up being his final business trip for Rosen Products in Eugene, a company that integrated flat panel TV's into vehicles.

"I'm getting ready to leave," John recalled this week, the 10th anniversary of the attacks. "I don't watch TV much in hotels. It was a pretty routine trip. I was across the street from the airport. My wife calls me and says, 'I'm so glad to hear your voice.' I asked her, 'What is going on?' She said, 'You don't know?' I said no. She said, 'Look out the window.'"

Unable to see anything out his room window, John went down the hallway to a concierge room.

"There were about 15 people in there," John said. "They were all quiet, staring at the TVs. I could see a bank of windows. It was a very quiet and somber mood. I looked to the TV and saw a building smoking. I looked outside and saw the exact same image."

John admits things seemed to be moving in slow motion.

"I couldn't comprehend what I was looking at," John said. "I'm trying to get my bearings. What was going on? Nobody was speaking. By the time the second tower came down, a person said 'Look!' When the second tower started to go, we were all looking at it with our own eyes. We're trying to figure out if this is real, what we're watching. The towers went down in a cloud of smoke. It was just somber."

John took some pictures out of the hotel window with a disposable camera.

"When the second tower went down I said, "Lord, I'm looking at death here,'" John said. "My next thought was, 'What do you want me to do with this information?' I didn't know why I was seeing that. Why me? Why was I supposed to be there? How can I use this to benefit others? My goal then was to share the love of Christ with anybody around me. Everybody was lacking hope at that point, no knowing what happens after death. I had opportunities to share Christ's story with others."

John's wife Stephanie was back home, six months pregnant and trying to get some sleep when her sister Michele called.

"She asked if I had spoken to John, " Stephanie said. "I said no. She said I needed to call him."*

Stephanie called and got through on the first try, which "was a miracle" due to phone lines being jammed.

"I felt terror," said Stephanie, who had to wait longer to reach her husband a second time. "I have to give my sister credit. She had both more fear and more knowledge of what was going on. She'd had longer to think about it. I had a five minute span to think about it. Nobody in America knew what to expect next. All the contingencies shattered normalcy for us. We were supposed to be in Disneyland that Friday. That was off the plate right away. Every bit of normalcy was gone."

Across the country, reality was slowly sinking in for John.

"I think it was after the tower had settled a bit that it started to become real," he said. "(The tower) was in the dust and couldn't come back. I realized it had really happened. The dust could was so massive, it covered the whole downtown area. You could barely see anything. It was so surreal."

With federal authorities suspecting John's hotel may have been used by at least one of the terrorists responsible for 9/11, the facility was closed. Those inside stayed locked up inside for three days. One person John never saw during that time span was a Middle Eastern man he saw in an elevator the night of the 10th.

Since the air traffic was closed, John began to thing about how to get home. Normally not much of a long-distance driver, John rented a Volvo and started looking for someone to share at least part of his 2000 mile trip with.

"I found a sweet lady who was 55, worked for United and didn't have any money in her pocket," John said. "I said, 'I'm a Godly Christian man. Just talk to me while I'm driving and I'll pay for everything. I can't drive cross-country on my own.' She was the best fit."

John and his companion talked for 14 straight hours, ending when John dropped her off at her home in Chicago. The next day John drove another 1,000 miles. While driving through Nebraska, John looked up through his Volvo's sunroof and saw a plane flying.

"That was the first plane I'd seen," John said. "I thought only in America that we would be bold enough and strong enough to fly so soon after what happened."

Stephanie didn't - and still doesn't - know why her spouse was spared when so many others lost their spouses on 9/11.

"It's not for me to know why," she said. "But I can tell you I spent a lot of time on my knees."

John, who took a desk job with his non-defunct company upon getting back home, said the experience reminded him of an important lesson.

"One of the things I got out of it was life is about relationships," John said, "It was not a new revelation to me, but it really hit home to me. Everything else is, in a sense, meaningless. When this happened, that really showed through. It definitely impacted me. It's all about relationships."

* What the article didn't mention was that when Michele called me that morning, she already knew that a United flight originating out of Newark had been hi-jacked. Knowing that John always flew United and was supposed to fly out of that airport sometime that day, she feared that John was on that fated flight. She implored me to contact him immediately, without giving me more details than I needed at that point, only asking that once I heard from him, I call her back immediately. It was during that second phone call with her (after I had heard John's voice) that she elaborated on all that she feared was the case for John.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ryan and Sarah Get Married!

I'm telling you, by the time Mikayla ties the knot, she will have file folders full of ideas for what her idea wedding will look like. Such creativity and beauty, my Pinterest board will be overflowing in no time.

This wedding was held at Deepwood Estate in Salem, a garden area offering a whimsical fairy tale setting. Candles in glass jars hanging from trees, flowers hung in mason jars along the ceremony chairs, a photo booth, and candy station - ready to fill pre-made wedding favor boxes. (Our favorite spot).

Ryan and Sarah met through CCF and they are both such upstanding, amazing people, that truly make each other better by being together. Ryan's dad is a pastor, so to see his love for the two of them and pride and confidence in their union was special indeed. Sarah is Elaina's sister (on of my Tuesday Night Ladies), so it was a delight to see her looking stunningly gorgeous as maid of honor.

As John is still at Mens' Round-Up, so it was just Mikayla and I enjoying the romance of it all. Brayden opted to stay back with Traig, and given the mid-90's temperatures and their inability to get along 100% of the time during these events - I was fine with that decision. =)

So, congratulations Ryan and Sarah - you two are a "Modern Day Fairy Tale"!