Friday, May 31, 2013

Amazing Views and Awesome Women

The weather is just now starting to return to that amazing stretch we had at the beginning of May.  Last week was definitely a "transition period" where the rain was still present.  But that didn't stop Darcy and I from embarking on an adventure on Wednesday at Shotgun Creek Park.

Shotgun is a location about 10 miles from where I grew up, and I wanted to share the kid-friendly place with Darcy who nannies for two little ones during the week.  As expected, the place was soggy and wet, but thankfully, we weren't hit with any downpours.  We not only had some great conversation, but we got to meet a cute little salamander (and some very ugly slugs) along the way.  Darcy is such a sweet spirit for the Lord and certainly an incredibly uplifting person for me to spend a morning with.

On Thursday, I got to meet up with Becky.  It's been FOREVER since I've seen her, in fact, in the meantime, she's taken a mission trip to Australia.  That gave us a lot to catch up on.  Since her apartment is on the far west side of Eugene, I thought we'd try out the Fern Ridge Bike Path.  I know I've been on parts of it back inn my days working with the Eugene Parks and Recreation kids program, but probably not on this stretch.   It has more of a marsh-like scenery, pretty in its own right compared to the more forest-like areas I usually pick.  With Whitley in her stroller, it worked perfect for us.  So great to spend time with Becky - hoping it doesn't take us this long until next time!

Finally, on Thursday, I got together with these gals for a very-low-key TNL.  This time of year is a mess for our group as we are often missing half the gang to various commitments.  We are hoping to have one final finale this week before going our own ways this summer (though, it's likely we'll still see who might want to hang out on any given Thursday summer evening).   

It turned out that the four of us were available and we met at our head pastor's house (Ben and Mary Cross).  Kaela is the one they usually ask to house sit when they are on vacation (and, yes, the do give her permission to host low-key events)- so she asked us to join her there.  They literally live across the street from the Meyers, but I will give them the extra point for the amazing sunset/golf course/fountain view they have from their back yard.  Oh my.  It is a gorgeous home that I'm so glad they have been blessed with.  The four of us had a fun evening chatting about all sorts of girly topics (from "Bachelorette" to pregnancy*) - and savoring in the sunset.

* Have I made it public yet that Christi is pregnant?  If not, SHE IS!!!  (Second one over in picture).   Her and Tyler are about 11 weeks along and ecstatic that Baby Harris is growing bigger and stronger every day.  She's due in mid-December.  YEAH!!!!!!!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Our Family's Last Gilham Triathalon

By now, I've probably written 6 different posts on Gilham's annual Triathalon.  They ride their bikes to Eugene Swim and Tennis Club, swim 4 laps, ride their bikes back to the school, and run 6 laps.  

This, obviously, is the last Triathalon my kids will participate in, as our days at Gilham our soon coming to a close.  Which made Mikayla's anxiety over it not happening due to "rain out" that much more intense.  The night prior, the forecast for rain was 100% during the hours that the event was supposed to take place.  However, the morning came with a stretch of dry - and in fact, because of the cloud cover, much more mild temps than what the kids usually have to endure with our crisp mornings when the sun does end up coming out.  All in all, ideal.  Thank you God!

I dropped Mikayla off at the school with a parting picture - and then went on my way to meet for a hike with Darcy.  The rest of the pictures were supplied by Jonna or Kristen - or other parents who helped.  Well done Gilham 3rd-5th graders, and Mikayla - way to finish your last Gilham Triathalon experience strong!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Catching Up...

It was kind of wearisome week for John and I.  I felt like I was fighting something all tired and worn out each morning, the weather matched the way I felt, and John's been fighting a tough month at work.  In addition, we've been working on remodeling our main bathroom for the last couple of months.  It was supposed to be done by Mother's Day, but things just keep dragging on with issue after issue arising.  Not seeing eye to eye with the general contractor hasn't helped things either.

But, there were some memorable moments of the week.  I thought I'd do a day by day run-down.

The weather was still nice that day, so it was a "hunker down" and get chores done kind of day.  The kids are really motivated to do work projects right now as they are trying to earn money for an ipad mini to use on our upcoming road trip vacation.   Mikayla learned how to spackle and paint, while Brayden took care of about 10 gallons worth of gunk in our gutters.  Bushes were also trimmed, new paint applied to baseboards and doors in the kitchen, "cutting in" of the ceiling/wall paint in bathroom and lots of bathroom projects John was able to accomplish helping to save us money.  Good job family!

Whitley and I had a great visit out to Mom and Dad's - for a "maintenance check" with Mom.   All in all, it's been an incredible run in terms of neck issues in April and May.  We were able to put Whitley in her high chair so she was at eye level with me on the table - and that kept her very happy.  In the past, she's been a little "needy", thus she'll end up straddling my waist while Mom works on my head.  It might inhibit the healing process just a little bit when I'm working so hard in keeping her happy.  So, yeah for finding a happy place for all of us!

Another Whitley first - getting her to sleep in her play pen at our house.  Based on space, I've been reluctant to set it up, but the half hour naps as a result have not been beneficial for anyone.  Steph told me that her REM cycle will have her partly wake up every half hour or so, but if she's in her "comfy/safe" place, she'll fall back asleep.  That was proven to very much be the case as she slept for nearly three hours.  Cozy!

Mikayla had her pre-6th grade doctor appt.  She passed the physical with flying colors, but was not thrilled with the meningitis and tetanus shots that she had to get.  I will say, she took them like a champ and was very brave about it while in the office.  However, one of Mikayla's weaknesses is her reaction to pain.  Chalk it up to a low pain threshold, or just being the age that she is, but she tends to find some injury to be in pain over almost every day (usually at night, right before bed when she is at her most stressed out point).  It's become a point of aggravation for me lately, so I had to work hard on my methods of compassion for her for the rest of the day when she was "in so much pain".  Poor thing.  At least while we were at the office, Whitley was a great distraction for her and a good moral support.

No pics today.  One of those kind of boring but productive days largely spent at home.

On Thursday, we got to be the "first official visitors" to Elaina's new home, within about a half mile from where we live.  I'm so excited she's so close - and she's so happy to be on this side of town, nearer to her work at the hospital as a nurse as well as right next to our church.  

Kaela stopped by as we were leaving...such a blessing to see Elaina so content and happy.

Later that evening, we had the joy of welcoming this little guy into our home through Memorial Day Weekend.  The Meyers family asked us a long time ago if we'd be willing to watch their 4 month old puppy while they spent the weekend in Reno at a basketball tournament for Jackson.  Um, absolutely!
His name is Brody - and he is a sweetheart!!!

Friday was a day in which Whitley got to spend time with her Auntie Kristen (Travis' sister) - who, by the way, is getting bigger and bigger with her baby Malia by the day.  (Though, in her case, she still barely looks pregnant even though she's due in mid August).  So excited for her and her hubby, Brian.

So, I had made plans with Alysha a long time ago to spend the morning hiking with her - exploring terrain that might not be so easy with Whitley on my back.  However, with the weather being forecast as nothing but rain, and me not feeling so great, I was really ready to take a literal rain check.  Alysha was still gung ho, though, so we went for it, and blessedly, were not rained upon.

We did end up spending more time driving than hiking, though - so many, many gorgeous hikes that all happen to be just a little too far away for a typical couple hour outing with friends.  This was one of them.

We ended up at Fall Creek - originating at Dolly Varden Campground.  Beautiful area that I hadn't hiked in probably 16 years.  Like I said, we didn't get very far - but, it's a place I'll be happy to return to.

Then, a moment I'd been anticipating for months....well, really for much longer than that in terms of "longing".  When John put forward the plans for this bathroom remodel - necessitated because of leakage by the toilet into the linoleum making a rapid black spread through the flooring - he persuaded me that we ought to change it into the bathroom we'd want "forever" - as in the quality that would match the eventual home remodel we'd someday like to do with the rest of the house.  I agreed, it was a good idea...but, unfortunately, pricey.  Despite that, he chose to surprise me by having a jet tub installed, something I've always wanted.  What a hubby, right?!  However, that's been one of the ongoing sources of frustration, with issues right and left with the faucet, drain, and electrical.  Finally, on Friday, it was declared, "good to go" - and I indulged.  Ahhhhh!

But, and this is said with a huge sad face....I learned an important lesson.  The tub jets kick in a heating system for the tub and without knowing the extent of how hot it would stay - I totally did myself in.  I overheated.  By Friday evening, I knew the resulting headache was kicking in, but I didn't expect for it to only get worse all the way through Saturday - where I spent the whole day in bed, and then even to "whimpering mode" by 5am Sunday morning.  How pathetic, right?!  Thank God for Mom, she saw me at about 8am on Sunday and I emerged among the land of the living after that.  Lesson learned....keep that bathroom very cool and adjust the temperature of the tub accordingly!

Later Friday evening, Steph came over with Whitley (Travis was at an annual Memorial Day Weekend car sale that his bank puts on), at about the same time as Michele showing up with Ellie and Nati.  Michael and Traig were off on a bear hunt, so they planned on staying with us.

As mentioned earlier, I stayed in bed.  Michele and John hung out while the kids enjoyed the break from the rain and return of sunshine and played with water on the trampolines, all over the court, etc., etc.  If I had to be sulking in bed, it was nice to know they were happy (and actually, good timing in knowing that I wasn't missing out on grandiose plans).

And, this also happened:

I'm telling you, that nephew of mine is one successful hunter. (With, obviously, a very good teacher at his side). A buck, a 5 point bull elk, and now a male black bear (I know, the coat doesn't look black...but, yes, that's what it is).  He's not even 15 yet!  He'll be hosting his own outdoor show in no time!

After feeling as horrible as I did the beginning of the weekend, I can't even tell you what a comfort to my soul this little experience was.  Brody snuggling up and falling asleep on me.  Ahhhhhhh!  The day was spent totally being lazy with the two closest people in my life - John and Michele, watching UO Softball (sadly lose in their bid for the Super Regionals), reading, and relaxing.  Just what I needed.

MONDAY:  No picture yet - but Happy Memorial Day - and my deepest gratitude to all those who have served and fought for our freedom.  May I never take it for granted.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Ahoy "Pirates"!

For the fifth grade classes that go through Gilham, one of the highlights of the year is the musical performance they get to put on.  This year, "Pirates" was the name of the production they put on.  I have to admit, I kind of listened with only one ear as Mikayla described what it was about, who was cast in what part, and what the songs were.  

So, it was with delightful surprise to show up on Friday night to watch the whole show without a lot of expectation.  It was super entertaining!

First a shot of Mikayla with her buddies - these are friends that all had rolls on stage.

The basic plotline of this musical is that a stowaway (impressively played by Piper) is discovered by pirates on the ship and desperately, desperately wants to become a pirate herself.

She's not accepted and instead laughed at - ridiculed for not being prepared to be a pirate.

The "King of the High C's" is brought out to determine the stowaway's fate - and along the way we find out why she (supposed to be a he) is King of the "High C's"....she can sing the best.

Hadley - who had the role of the king, was phenomenal as well.  Piper and Hadley have both participated in theatrical programs in the past, and could tell.  So good!  (And, despite this picture, they are actually best friends!)

The king decided the stowaway should be sent to the brig with the other prisoners. 

Later, we find out a musical competition is coming up and they expect to win - except, the king discovers she has laryngitis so she can't carry the win.

At that time, they hear the stowaway singing her sad song from the brig and realize she has just the voice they need to win.  They decide to huddle together to determine if they will accept her as a pirate.  I think it's so cute how anxious Piper is acting. 

Finally, they make her an honorary pirate and the show is over with all of them happy.

Now, on to some photos of my own daughter...who was cast in one of the acting/singing/solo parts as one of the "unbearded" pirates.

Here's the mommy confession I feel bad about.  We have these expectations of our kids based on the personalities that emerge.  In general, Brayden is the entertainer of the family with all of his "Otter Personality" and extrovert nature.  He's funny and gets people to laugh even when they try not to (like me when trying not to encourage semi-inappropriate behavior).  On the other hand, Mikayla is our more responsible one.  She is funny too - and enjoys laughing with friends and getting them to laugh whenever she can, but she's not nearly as gregarious as Brayden.

With all that said, it would be naturally guessed that Brayden would be more of a natural theatrical performer, while Mikayla might be more reserved and self-conscious on stage.  Not that there's ever a need to compare the kids, but it really was a surprise to see Mikayla take her roll and run with it.  (The post about Brayden's fifth grade musical is actually still waiting to be put up.  It occurred right before we left for Disneyworld in 2010 and got lost in the shuffle.  Brayden had one of the key rolls in that performance which was a lot of fun to watch, but we were surprised that he actually seemed a little nervous and reserved on stage....)

Check out that attitude...

One of my new favorite pics of Mikayla.  Singing a solo - confident, having fun....way to crack the mold I'd already imagined for you, girl!!!

Among her friends...

Everybody's spirits were super high after the play was over.

This is Mrs. Baechtel - Mikayla's fifth grade teacher that assumed the class in November.  She's been the favorite among the original teacher they had, the student teacher, and then finally her, after the original teacher returned to the school she had taught at previously.  As soon as I met her, I immediately sensed a sweet spirit that would be perfect for Mikayla.  I'm so thankful Mikayla's been able to end her years at Gilham with such a great person.

Finally, the pic of Mikayla and Kenady that just about put me over the edge.  Because we've "been down this road before" I didn't really think it would be that hard to go through the motions of all of the hoopla of leaving elementary school and entering middle school.  But, somehow, seeing these two best friends wearing full make-up (worn for the role and not on a normal basis for either of them), it gave me a glimpse of what will be all too soon.  It scares the snot out of me and puts me in awe simultaneously when I look at Mikayla right now.  She attracts attention already with that blonde hair and dimply smile - throw in some make-up to make those blue eyes pop...and oh my goodness.  Not to mention all the sentimentality of seeing her with the first person she came home talking about on her first day of being at Gilham...."I think I've found a new friend, her name is Kenady"...and they've only grown stronger since that day (yo the absolute delight of all of us), despite being in different sports, classrooms, and churches.

Mikayla has it SO GOOD right now with these sweet (for the most part) and innocent (for the most part) friends that surround her - it's scary anticipating the changes coming up.

Gotta stop it now...we're still three weeks out from the promotion ceremony and if I'm already fighting tears and fears, it's gonna get ugly!