Saturday, November 30, 2013

Black Friday...Well, Now It's Black Thursday....

I try to stay away from making highly opinionated statements on my blog, but sometimes after I feel like one side has been picked on enough, I feel the need to state my piece of mind.

Here's the deal.  I'm not thrilled that storekeepers have chosen to open their stores on the actual day of Thanksgiving.  I think 5am on Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) is early enough.  That way, you still have a chance to (maybe) go to sleep, and get to see the sun rise not too long after your adventures out shopping.  And, of course, I'm not a fan of cutting in to the time doing the post-meal lounging of Thanskgiving. 

That being said, though - for those that want to tell me that folks who choose to go shopping on Thanksgiving are forgoing their "family time" - I want to tell you that, when it comes to time with my mom and sister, there is no greater time spent together than when this shopping adventure happens together.  So maybe our family time isn't spent watching football together, or a Hallmark movie, or playing a game, but it is special, priceless family time nonetheless.

As for the argument regarding employees being forced to work on Thanksgiving, Michele and I have done a little personal research at our local Target and Walmart and have found the widespread opinion to be largely very positive in regards to giving up that holiday in order to earn "time and a half" and be able to afford a more pleasant "holiday experience" for their own family whenever they decide to honor that holiday/family time.  The extra perks (ipods given to Target employees who chose to work that day) and often-times jovial spirit of the experience also encouraged folks who chose to work that night.

So, there's my two sense.  Am I fan of the current shopping scenario?  Nah, I'd rather it go back to the way it was before.  Am I going to boycott it though?  No, I'm not sure if I believe there's a reason to.  Certainly not for me, my mom, sisters, and....this year, our daughters.

(Sadly, John was VERY SAD that he had to miss his annual "favorite overnighter" with Brayden and Travis.  They were sad too, as they avoided the sales in solidarity with his absence.  I think it will just make next year all the more of an adventure....)

Here's a few pics of our adventures.  It started out with Mikayla and Nati joining Michele and I in Walmart.  From there, we dropped the girls off, picked up Mom and headed to Target.  On to the mall next....and then we swapped out Mom for the girls again to return to Target (part of their promotions required a Friday expenditure).  We stopped by Kohls before heading home at 3:30am.  We got a few hours of sleep before going out again with just Mom (who slept over on our couch) to Costco and Bi-Mart.  What a hoot!  For our family, it really is a very, very special part of our holiday.

With the change of the timing of the sales, our looking over the ads has had to "jump the gun" as well...meaning checking out the "leaked" ads online...."Oh, say it aint so!"  So, by the time the paper arrived on Thanksgiving morning, we had a pretty good idea what we'd be seeing...

But, there was still some research to be done "pre-event"....(Obviously, Michele got no help from Brayden!)

A picture taken right before we left for Walmart at about 5:45pm.

And, a pic with Mom at Macy's - and a shot of the line at Target (longest I've ever seen). 

At Macy's, we found Tanner (in the "Womens' PJ" section....clearly he was very lost!) and he led us over to his mom (Nancy), sister, and Grandma who were checking out in line (and later took the above pic of us).  Apparently, Tanner really didn't want to miss out on their family's adventure, but quickly realized it was not the fun he expected.  Therefore, he found other ways to occupy his time.  =)

 This was taken at about 2am...Michele and Nat are looking pretty good.

I was beginning to get a headache and reaching the tired/sleepy state of "This is NOT fun anymore!" (Which can sometimes be turned around with caffeine and lots of punch-drunk laughter, but not in this case with a headache bearing down).  A good indicator it was time to hit the sack for a while.

I should add a postscript that the afternoon of Black Friday was spent watching the Civil War football game between OSU and UO.  After our team's recent performance, I really was rooting for the team that "showed up" on the field and played the hardest....  As it turned out, both teams did, but the Ducks edged out just enough for the win.  We're hoping the Beavers will pick up a bowl game too - they deserve it with how hard they fought in Autzen.

Friday, November 29, 2013

So Much to Be Thankful For


We started out the morning thankful to have a couple hours before heading out to Mom and Dad's to just relax, go over the ads, and watch the "Thanksgiving Day Parade".  Traig woke up way late, hence his absence from these pics.

Doesn't Baxter look thrilled?

After dressing up a bit, we took a few pics.  Such gorgeous girls!

And check out the driver in this pic....YIKES!!!  It's Traig!!!!  Now that he has his permit, he's working on getting as much practice as he can.

It wasn't easy for John to take this pic - even with the fog - way too bright - but I'm glad we could prove he was up and able to participate in the festivities!!

Mom had the table ready to go for us -

And, we promptly assumed our kitchen rolls upon arrival.  

While Mackie just beamed with delight over all of the family in his home!

John took a pic like this of me a couple of years ago and wanted a repeat.  =)

Ellie went to work keeping the gravy stirred while heating it up.

The boys do nothing but mess around...

Michele is the one who always prepares the mashed potatoes.

Nati and Mikayla get the drink orders and prepare them.

Dad carves the turkey.

Too bad John was the one taking the picture (and not in it) because it actually turned out pretty decent for a group shot!

After the dishes and table were cleaned and food put away, we hit the "arena" for some "Flag Football".  At this point, I need to confess just how un-excited I am for participating in such an event.  It's one of those things that I know will be fun and memorable and oh-so worth it, but all I really want to do is lay on the floor in the living room, watch tv, (maybe fall asleep), and plan the Black Friday shopping strategy.

Mom, Michele, and I all felt that did Michael....but, we rose above our self-centeredness and joined the kiddos out on the field.  (Literally, a field - the horses had to be put in their stalls so we could play in their field).

And, yes....we had fun.  A lot of memorable fun.  

Uh oh!  Man down!  We deliberated taking a knee at this point.  Michael pulled his hamstring when trying to chase down Brayden.  Note that he does have the ball though!  Poor guy - he and John made quite a pair "recovering" for the rest of the weekend!

The more priceless moments of the game came when Mom made a reception and score, and when Brayden purposely fumbled a ball (it took skill to fumble like he did...) so that Ellie could catch it and run it in for a touchdown.  So sweet. What a good cousin!  (And what a fantastic football player - sheesh, that kid smoked us!  And, woah, was I horrendous....I didn't make one catch, so pathetic!)

The winning team is seated - Nati is demonstrating they were "#1" while Traig was pointing out it was the second time in the row the kids took the win.  Whatever.  Special thanks to Dad who manned the camera while we were playing.

Another VERY thankful Thanksgiving!!!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Anticipating Elsie!

The week of Thanksgiving was insanely busy!  Mikayla had her Webfoot Try-outs on the previous week and the "signing night" happened to land at the same time as Christi's baby shower.  Mikayla and I were determined to make both happen, and we did.  Mission accomplished.

(FYI - Mikayla made the team she was hoping for, with the three other girls she most wanted to have on her team....I think it will be a very fun season and I'm proud of her for giving it her all at try-outs!)

The shower for baby Elsie was held at Christi's parents' house out in Lowell.  It was kind of an adventure getting there with her, and some of the abstract conversations we shared will probably be imprinted in my mind forever.  The older that girl gets, the closer we get - so blessed.

Understandably, we were one of the last to arrive, but didn't miss out on too much.


These pics are mixed in from my phone and Kaela's camera - I like the one of the two of us better from my phone than the one taken from her camera.

Our "Thursday Night Life Group" contingency who were able to make it.

And, this is Christi's family (minus her "next in line" sister, who wasn't able to make the trip up from California...her daughter was born in the summer, so they'll have very close cousins!)  This family is so beautiful inside and out.

Christi's oldest sister's son was a key part of the entertainment.  He seemed to have a bit of a crush on Mikayla.  

Love this shot - all so ready to meet Baby Elsie!

One more good-bye to Mikayla by her littlest boyfriend!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Operation Christmas Child Birthday Party

A few weeks ago, I received a Facebook invite to attend my friend, Dawn's, birthday party.   It was totally out of character, but she asked for lots of presents.  However, in this case, the presents were of the Dollar Tree variety, in an effort to fill loads of shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child.  THAT is totally Dawn - using her birthday to give to others.  She's such an amazing person.

Unfortunately, my attitude arriving to the party was pretty horrid.  Our Ducks were losing miserably against Arizona.  At first, I was really struggling that I'd have to leave our Riley-White's viewing party before the game was over, but as we were down 5 scores going into the fourth quarter...I knew it was better that I go "to a better place" (literally).  There were about four of us that were all grieving, this gal, Sherri, was the first I chatted with.  I suggested we do the "sad face" pic....apparently she didn't get the memo...

We were challenged to bring enough to accommodate 15 boxes - we had enough to fill 22 - and sent home sacks worth of stuff in addition to make additional boxes or give to other charities.  I did my shopping Friday afternoon with Whitley - it was fun looking for things to fill for the various age/gender ranges.

I worked on boxes for the 14-16 year old girls.  We stuffed those boxes with journals, clothing accessories, journals, earrings, gum, jump ropes, and loads of other stuff.  It was so great thinking of these kids having their own special box of treasured items.  

Dawn had enticed us with chocolate and wine/sparkling cider - it was quite the beautiful spread in her cozy home.

Love this gal!

All these great!!!

Sitting here is Kallahan - she's the reason Dawn and I connected in the first place.  I fell in LOVE with her when she showed up with her mom at a Bible Study I attended when she was a little baby.  We bonded then, all three of us - and the rest is history.  

Such a special group of women, though I only know about half of them.  But, if they are dear friends that Dawn would invite to such an event, I know they have amazing hearts.

I wish this pic that included Dawn's daughters on the right was less blurry.  Morgan is the oldest, then Killian, than Kallahan.   Such treasures in Dawn's life (along with her other kids that weren't there) - and huge helps in making this event happen (particularly sweet Morgan).  As soon as I snapped the pic, Dawn asked me to pray over the presents and it rattled me a bit so I wasn't careful in checking that the pic turned out okay.  Times like these take me back to the days in college when I was asked to be in charge of the prayer nights for Campus Crusade - a position I felt so inadequate for.  At some point during the course of that year, I found myself doing less "pre-planning" as to what I'd say (in prayer) to the GROUP - and more just speaking aloud to GOD.  It's still not easy and a 100% accomplishment, but I've come a long way!

It was ABSOLUTELY what my heart needed to align my attitude to things less of this earth (and collegiate football/BCS rankings) and more of what's eternal.