Friday, January 27, 2012
Earlier this week, Mikayla began a new once-a-week class at a gynmastics/trampoline warehouse with Christina and Erica. The facility is called "Bounce" and Mikayla enjoyed the experience so much that she "jumped' (ha ha!) at the chance to participate in an open gym today. At first, I figured the boys would prefer to go to a movie while the girls went there, but as it turned out, they opted to go with the girls once they found out I wouldn't be attending the movie with them (sweet, huh?....not too grown up yet!). As it turned out, all five of the kids, plus Amy's three kiddos, had a blast at the two hour open gym.
I actually have to say, though, despite all the fun, I did breathe a sigh of relief when the two hours were up that no injuries resulted for any of the 8 of them. WHEW!!!
After those two hours of watching THEM exercise, I'd worked up an appetite so I coerced them all to join me in giving "Five Guys" a try at a franchise that just opened up around the corner. Pretty much made myself sick gorging on the fries....but it was so good....
Tonight through tomorrow, John is at a leadership retreat so I'll still be flying solo in terms of keeping the kids entertained. Fortunately, not a lot is required by me these days in keeping these five occupied. Such a different story from when they were little....
Thursday, January 26, 2012
It's been a while since I've updated on my neighbor, "Joy" - who lives across the street from us. When I wrote in this post, things were very dire for their family. It was questionable whether she would make it through Thanksgiving, with cancer rampant through her body, much less, Christmas.
Well, I'm thankful to report, she is still around!!! And....doing great! The other day, our doorbell rang, and it was her college-age daughter at the door, Shelby, who've we known exists, but have never really gotten to know. She came over to ask if, by chance, on Kenjon's next visit over, he might be willing to swing over to their house to give Joy a hug as she LOVES the Ducks. Done deal, he was supposed to stop by the next day and we'd make it happen. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to make a visit to us work, but it resulted in John stopping by and spending over an hour over there, sharing stories about his own sordid past, what Jesus has done through him, and hearing stories about what's going on in their lives.
In a nutshell, Joy is in the midst of chemotherapy, and by April could be done with her course. The doctors are BAFFLED by her recovery and improvements - it defies science why she is doing this well. However, the Groshongs (that's their last name) attribute her well-being to a visit by "Mrs. Claus" while Joy was in the hospital at the time around her first diagnosis. John asked about a particular picture of Joy dressed in a hospital gown next to a nurse, and they proceeded to explain why the picture is so important to them as it marked a turning point in Joy's life.
"Mrs. Claus" is a nurse in the oncology unit that came to get Joy out of bed one day. Joy was moving slowly, so this woman literally lifted Joy out of bed, and then held on to her in the fiercest hug Joy has ever experienced. She then whispered into Joy's ear, "God is going to heal you" - and what followed was 10 minutes of intercessory prayer by this woman....not just fluffy words, but prayer loaded with claimed scripture. It was unlike anything Joy or Butch had ever experienced.
And, the result - a miracle. John and I have been intentional as well in letting them know how we are praying for them, having our Bible Study, blog-friends, and church pray, and even giving them insight into scripture that would offer hope in such a frightening, bleak time. But, while praying for a miracle, sometimes you still find yourself shocked to see it transpire - yet, it has happened. And that family has no doubt as to Who is responsible.
The day after John stopped by, we got another ring on our doorbell, and Shelby, the daughter, showed up with these homemade cupcakes for John.....ahhhhh!
her, and not only that, but on Monday, Heather discovered she also knows the family as she played soccer with Shelby growing up.
Sometimes the prospect of death brings nothing but misery and hopelessness. But, sometimes, in situations like this, the prospect of death brings people together that would have never united otherwise and exposes miracles that change a person's whole perspective on what true "joy" really is, and how it can be eternally found. I'm honored to be able to witness such a miracle....
Sunday, January 22, 2012
In celebration of his 43rd birthday, it was decided to have a repeat outing with the folks that showed us so much fun in December. For them, not only was it an opportunity to honor John, but it truly was a GRUDGE MATCH, particularly between Heather, Michael, and Kenjon as to who truly is the better bowler. It was meant to be a guys vs. girls match-up too, but let's face it - particularly in the first game, Kaela and I sucked....and did nothing to help our team out. It was Heather's individual match-up we were most inclined to see success come out of.
The teams both started out strong, though - when the lead-off bowlers of each team, Mikayla and Brayden, both threw strikes....nice foreshadowing of the great fun that would come out of this evening.
Heather was ON FIRE - it was strike after strike after spare...
A little attitude from Mikayla
It's good that Heather still loves us despite the fact that we let her down so monumentally. =)
Mikayla, talking "smack" to Kenjon...
Yes, these guys were the winners...
Which made us the "losers"...
Kenjon is trying to make it clear that Heather really did come in in second place...yes, despite such extraordinary effort, Kenjon topped her score.
Love these guys so much!
The wager between the teams was the team that lost had to bake cookies for the other team. With Michael and John's favorites being chocolate chip, and Kenjon's favorites being oatmeal raisin, we GRACIOUSLY made batches of both =)
As for John, his birthday "cake" was Marionberry pie, so yummy!
I love how focused the rest of the crew was while "singing". =)
Meet the human jungle gym for our kids!
Still no idea...
Bring on Just Dance 3 - and with it - nonstop smiles and laughter. Unbelievable how entertaining and fun this activity is!!!!
We did prefer being spectators, but as you'll see below - we did get out on the "dance floor"
Clearly, whoever was dancing at this point, was very captivating to these guys...
At about 9pm, Mark McKay joined us - and jumped right into the mix.
This is what happens when Brayden talks "smack" to Kenjon... Mikayla may get away with it, but Brayden pushes it just a step too far - don't worry, he asked for it and was loving every minute of this wrestling match.
Truly an UNBELIEVABLE night of fun that lasted past midnight, thus honoring John's true birthday. I can't even express enough how much fun these guys are in our lives....all sorts of little details I can't even describe in the blog, but made for outrageous fun. Thank you, thank you, thank you - not only an honoring night for John, but the perfect remedy for January Blues!!!!!
Friday, January 20, 2012
"Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success." - Henry Ford
"Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward in the same direction." -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Paul and Sherry's friendship began in the hallways of Thurston High School. They were good, casual friends- nothing more, nothing less.
Then, one August evening following their graduation, Paul was supposed to take Sherry's roommate out for a date. However, Sherry's roommate was busy with someone else (oops!), so Sherry got to fill in. They took a drive to Oakridge - and halfway through, Sherry threw up. One heck of a first date.
Somehow, the sparks ignited anyway, and they proceeded to date until November when Paul felt the sudden urge to return to his former love. Gena had called and lured Paul away from Sherry for an evening, ready to remind him of the future they were destined to share together. Before the evening came to a close, Paul realized what a terrible mistake he had made. He left Gena behind and drove all over town to find Sherry and beg her to take him back. Fortunately, she's a forgiving person.
(This is a picture of Paul and Gena at their senior prom. In a "twilight zone" of foreshadowing - Sherry is seen in the background looking on. Paul and Sherry were only casual friends at this point in time.)
Paul, being the incredibly patient man he is, waited a whole month before asking her to marry him, and then, never to rush, they gave it another month before actually getting married (and, no, she was not pregnant!). He was 19, she was 18 - and that was 39 years ago; January 20, 1967.
One Vietnam war that kept them apart, two children that drew them together, three parents that have passed away, four combined careers, five grandchildren that have kept them young - 45 years of joy, sorrow, triumph, and pain - and a love for each other deeper than any obstacle they have ever, and will ever, face.
We're so proud of you, Mom and Dad - CONGRATULATIONS & HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Well, it is nothing new, but the sheer extent of it in the last 24 hours has been staggering. We're talking monsoon conditions, folks. And, wouldn't you know it, but I chose yesterday to do Christmas returns and run errands. The only bright aspect (besides a coffee date with a college friend, Lauren) was recognizing what a great choice it was six weeks ago to buy a really good rain jacket (the first I've had as an adult). Yup, put that baby to good use (especially when my umbrella flipped backwards and the wind put a tear in it).
We've had a very dry winter so far, so us Oregonians should be appreciating this. I'm very happy for the mountains to be piling up with snow - our snow pack is infinitesimal compared to normal at this point. The ski resorts need the business - and hey, selfishly, when we hit Central Oregon in early February, I'd really like to see snow there vs. our more recent visit's experience.
HOWEVER, this rain is forecast to be coming down for the next 5-7 days. And, being "day 2", we are already under major flood watches and alerts. This could be a problem. When I say "we" - I mean the state of Oregon - not necessarily where I live...we're in a safe spot. That is NOT the case for my parents, though. They live in an area that floods frequently when heavy rains come down. Every few years, we'll see the golf course that runs along the Mohawk River (about a half mile from their home), completely submerged in water - and running a current as its been consumed by the river. When we were little, we'd go out in the horse pasture during times such as these in a rubber raft and float in our own little lake.
In 1996, a couple of months before I got married, I literally got cut off from my parents house. I went to a school to take on a sub assignment and before the day was over, the water had cut off the route back home (I was living with Mom and Dad at the time). Fortunately, my grandparents lived in town, so it wasn't a huge deal - but that was the year that the rain was within a foot of invading their house, and the horses all had to be taken to higher ground. I googled pictures that would give you an idea....but I didn't find any good ones.
So, we'll have to see - the good news is that in contrast of years past, many of the major flooding happens when the snow pack melts in a hurry. Given we haven't had much of that and the rivers are only growing because of the rain, we might be physically okay. Emotionally, though - I'm not sure how my Seasonal Affective Disorder will emerge from 7 days in a row of this kind of gray deluge...
Monday, January 16, 2012
I love it when the flakes come down as big as cotton balls, and you feel like you are in a snow globe. I love watching the kids play in it - and Sydney DELIGHT in it. For me, the only problem with snow is the inevitable....watching it go away. Turning into slush, creating mud, snowflakes into rainfall...that is not fun.
In that same vein, the other issue I have is NOT getting the snow in the first place. If snow is in the forecast, more often that not, Portland, Dallas, or even my parent's house will get it, while our little ol' home in Eugene will NOT. GRRRR! Honestly, I work myself into the worst-est of moods over this little weather occurrence, it's downright embarrassing.
Therefore, it was a very good decision to have us spend the latter half of the three day weekend at Michele's - as sure enough, her little town of Dallas had some of the best snow in the whole Willamette valley. I was tickled that it stuck around until my kiddos arrived in the afternoon on Sunday - as it had accumulated quite a bit for Michele's kids in the morning (pics of her kids in the morning below mine).
Leaving Michele's winter wonderland and driving back to the rain 80 minutes to the south to our house was not pleasant, though. I was in the worst mood driving, watching the white evaporate and temperature increase with each mile we traveled.
Tonight, we are supposed to get more snow, though its highly unlikely it will amount to much. I think a school delay may happen given the temps are supposed to be below freezing in the morning which could make commuting a mess, but I can't imagine school being canceled. In Michele's town of Dallas, though - whatya bet they get the day off.
It just goes to show just how much out of whack my "happiness gauge" is at any given time. I'm so thankful that JOY THAT LASTS goes way beyond the lifespan of a snowflake.
Saturday, January 14, 2012
We are currently snuggled up in a Hilton Garden Inn in Beaverton, Oregon right now. We cashed in some Hilton Honors points (that we didn't even know we had) to get outta dodge and cash in some gift cards and do some Christmas exchanges at stores found up north near Portland.
It's been a cozy time up here. After dropping Sydney off with Michele, we got into the hotel at around 8pm Friday night. This morning, after some German Pancakes at Elmers, we were off early to do some shopping with the kids - and able to polish off our adventures to get back in here in our room to watch some NFL by about 1pm. NICE! Not so nice, though - the outcomes of both games. Tebow's game isn't over, but at this point, even his late game heroics are probably not going to turn the tide on this lopsided score.
Throw in some visits to the pool and hot tub, a lot of use of my Kindle, and every other form of technology available used by the kids - we've kept ourselves form boredom, that's for sure.
Tomorrow, John will drop us off at the Schillings, while he returns solo to head to work on Monday while the kids take their Martin Luther King holiday off with their cousins.
There's not a whole lot of excitement to this little weekend adventure - not much photo-worthy - but it's family bonding, that's for sure. There's something about being in the small confines of hotel room space that actually brings out some of the best in our family unity (and some of the worst....really, Brayden "STOP PESTERING!"....and Mikayla "STOP OVER-REACTING!"....as for me, what could be said is "STOP EATING!"....I guess since Monday's a holiday, maybe Tuesday will be the day to start fresh!)
I suppose there is one aspect of excitement...it's supposed to snow tonight. Not massive accumulations or anything, but there could be snow showers in the valley for the next two days. That would be such an improvement to the cold rain of today.
For many of you out there, it is a three day weekend - hope you all are enjoying it to its fullest!
Thursday, January 12, 2012
Monday, January 09, 2012
Well, just to lay it out there, I'm about as successful of a blogger right now as I am in every other area of life. It's not that I don't want to, or that there aren't things I could be saying, it's just that I'm not getting around to it.
Lethargy, apathy, laziness, introvert, sluggishness....these seem to be the key words of 2012 so far. I'm telling you, it's not pretty. But, it is my "norm" for this time of year, so I'm just not letting it stress me out.
I did manage to get dressed up and out of the house for an Alexander family adventure. Mom and Dad ended up with two additional seats to fill for the play, "My Fair Lady" and asked Michele and I if we'd like to accompany them. So, Michele and the girls came down Saturday and with the kindness of John keeping an eye on all that estrogen (Christina was over too) - we had an "original Alexander family outing" to PF Changs and then on to the Hult Center.
The performance was very good - it makes me want to watch the Audrey Hepburn movie to see how it differed. However, us gals all agreed that the male lead who played "Professor Higgins" wasn't attractive enough - or didn't possess enough "Alpha Chemistry" to make the storyline believable. (Not to say the plot is believable enough to begin with, but you know what I mean).
Thanks Mom and Dad - it was a very special night out with you!
As for yesterday - after taking WAY TOO LONG to get going, I FINALLY cleared out all evidence of Christmas in our home. Our garage....oh baby, that's a different story altogether. Mikayla's room has been in the process of updating from a room full of Polly Pockets and Littlest Pet Shop to a room with a desk and sewing machine....sigh - she's growing up. =( That occupied John all weekend while I did the decor rehaul. I've still get plenty to "spruce up", but at least the house looks like it is ready for 2012 instead of hanging on to the memories of 2011.
I'll close this off as I'm currently in the act of negotiation with my son as to whether or not he's sick enough to stay home today. The verdict is still undecided.
Wednesday, January 04, 2012
So, here's to little victories - and this week, those would include:
- Getting the "wrong" video game returned to Target this week, originally purchased on Black Friday. (However, I earned minus points by picking up clearance slippers for Brayden for next year, that are actually smaller than the ones he's currently wearing.....oops!)
- Sending back the two "return" orders to Overstock.com and Altrec.com that required a trip to the post office. Filling out the forms, finding the addresses and determining how to send it all is a bit overwhelming to me. But, I conquered....and in the nick of time as the line was into double digits by the time I left this morning.
- Having groceries in the house - with lunches prepared for kids and dinner prepared for the family....
- Getting the bonus room tree down, with all of the ornaments carefully stored and tree hoisted outside.
- Getting into the gym today. First Group Power workout of the year - and in the last several weeks. Boy oh boy am I going to be sore tomorrow. But, yes, that 8 pound weight gain needs to be addressed somehow....(don't gasp too much, I'm still quite a bit lower from where I was at in September which just goes to show how much damage ALL SUMMER did to me compared to a few weeks in December!)
- Our bedroom is (well, was this morning) clean - with all of our laundry done and put away...the kids' rooms - that's another story
- A leisurely trip to the mall to cash in some gift certificates Mikayla had for Justice and Claires (thanks Riley girls and Annabel!) - including the fine company of Kaela
- Reading my devotional each day
So- there you go. There's a good chance that the house will still be decorated for Christmas when the Thursday Night Ladies show up tomorrow night. There's a good chance the tree will still be lit and the kids' bedrooms not cleaned. But, if it means I'm still holding on to my sanity and not completely overwhelmed...then so be it. Because, that is the gift this time of year brings....time....quite a bit of it, at least in comparison to the wonderful craziness June through December is to our family. SO, I'm going to take that gift and treasure it.....
Monday, January 02, 2012
It's the third year in a row that the Ducks have gotten into a BCS Bowl Game. Two years ago, it was the Rose Bowl, last year it was the National Championship. Both ended in losses, quite the let-down after otherwise spectacular seasons.
This year, the hope was that the end result would be different. While some Duck fans were still pouting over not having our team make it to the National, our family was indeed proud of the Rose Bowl achievement. Moreover, because of our connection with Kenjon, we've been invested personally with how the team has done.
It was because of this that John asked my permission to take himself and Brayden to the Rose Bowl. Yes, it was coming right off of a previous week's vacation. Yes, it was expensive. Yes, they would fly down and fly back up all in the same day. But, YES, we all agreed it was worth it. Worth it for John and Brayden to experience together, and worth it for them to be down in Pasadena to root Kenjon on.
Any "vacation" linked to a game's outcome has always seemed like a risky adventure. Would it be remembered as "worth it" if the outcome was a loss? That's why John and I have never considered it for our family. But, I felt pretty good that in this case the whole "adventure" for my dynamic duo would outweigh any game outcome. I think that assumption would have been correct, but fortunately we have no need to know - because, as it turns out....
THE DUCKS WERE VICTORIOUS....2012 ROSE BOWL CHAMPIONS!!!
It was the icing on the cake for the guys. They started their journey by leaving our home last night at around 4:30 (we only got home from Sunriver at about 1:30) - and then drove up to spend the night in Portland. Since it was necessary that they be at the Portland Airport at 4am, they decided to cash in some Hilton points for a night's stay up north (and that also meant a trip to Buffalo Wildwings which Brayden very much wanted to eat at).
They arrived in Pasadena just as planned, got dropped off at the Rose Bowl, met up with Heather Spinney and her brother who were seated next to them - and the next four hours were history as the Ducks put on quite a show. They witnessed Kenjon making a spectacular catch and run into the endzone for one of the first half touchdowns. (He also contributed to significant rushing yards and first downs) It was 82 degrees at kick-off under a brilliant blue sky....quite the contrast to our 42 degrees here in Eugene.
They are probably already loaded in the plane to return north. John thinks the plane lands in Portland at 11:30 tonight - and then they'll still need to drive the two hours home. I told John to just "text me" as I don't intend to stay awake - and I also told Brayden that his very important job on the way home is to keep Daddy alert and talking....
Fortunately, the Eugene School District does not resume classes until Wednesday. Can I hear a Hallelujah? John will be headed to work bright and early tomorrow, but I'm hopeful Brayden sleeps in until noon.
Even if they are both groggy all day - or even for the rest of the week, I know they will have considered the experience SO WORTH IT! I joked with Brayden on the phone a few moments ago and asked him what it felt like to start the year on such a "high" - knowing there's no direction to go from here but down. He laughed, and we can all hope that this great beginning to 2012 is just the start of what joys the year has to offer!
Pictures courtesy of Associated Press and John's cell phone =)