It's also been hard making this day a "surprise" in the Countdown Calendar. It's okay - I kind of like them being in on the planning, a bit like the Santa revelation. A good thing as well, is that we get to know they really still want to make it happen - I am in awe that we have these two kiddos that are just as enthusiastic about all things Christmas, tradition, and anticipation as John and I are. It's so much fun!
This year...things were falling in to place, but one little interesting glitch was the possible arrival of a dusting of snow. Best case scenario, I believed, would be that it could possibly cancel Marist so Brayden wouldn't miss out on anything. There really was no worst case scenario...any snow is a happy thing for me. That being said, I went to bed Thursday night a little bummed out because the forecasts had tweeked a bit and predicted 0% precipitation over night. Wah wah....
But, then, at 3:30am, I awoke - and glanced at my phone - "When, what to my wondering eyes should appear" but "snow mist"... This is precipitation! I tried to go back to sleep, but I couldn't. I have determined I will just never grow up from my childhood fascination and excitement over the white stuff. During the time I took a bath, the mist turned to snow, and by 4:45am, schools were already reporting closures. The first was Junction City....which made my heart soar as that meant Stephie got to stay home with Whitley (who otherwise would have been with Grandma as she is not yet an ice skating prodigy...). The snow kept coming, as did the closures - eventually, we got an automated call from Marist...Yup, everyone else would be playing hookey that day too. Praise God! (Dallas eventually turned their 2 hour delays in to closures too...yeah for the Schilling kids!)
But, now we were looking at a bit of a conundrum. Snow still falling, snow accumulating, temps not expected to rise above freezing for at least three days....and I was supposed to get my kids to Michele's house (a half hour each way off the main northbound interstate) - pick up her and the kids - stop by the Nike Outlet because of a killer sale, head to Portland to ice skate, and then return in time to get the cheesecakes for the Harlow Auction set up and prepare my own self for the four hour semi-formal event. Really, what was I thinking? I wasn't. I just wanted fun and adventure - and of course, the kids were absolutely on board. (As for John, well he had his worst night yet. He was coming off of the narcotics he's had to use and it made for a torturous night of nervous system twitching....I felt horrible, but suspected he'd sleep through a lot of the day in my absence. Had he been at full capacity, I think we might have been stopped in our tracks....)
So, off we went. Our Yukon Denali performed exceptionally in the snow - it was happy to be in an element it was made for. The roads were dicey and drivers crazy. While we weren't sliding (much), they were - at one point in Coburg, the little town just a couple miles north, we watched as the sedan in front of us turned right at the main stoplight and then circled around in a slow 180 to completely face us. Glad I gave him some room..... We got stopped up at one of the exits, and after "playing it safe" in line for 15 minutes, I navigated the 1/8th of a mile to the exit along the shoulder and took off on the back roads to Michele's house. It was definitely the way to go with minimal traffic and winter scapes that will forever be etched in my memory. GORGEOUS!
It took an extra hour to make it to Michele's. (A few pics of their interior and some fun outside)
By Dallas, the snow was half of what it was at home, and just 20 miles north, practically non-existent. A rare event indeed in which we got the storm but not Portland. So, we did our business at the outlets, made it to Lloyd Center, ice skated and savored the wonder of the (short) experience and let the kids do some shopping.
About a half hour before we planned on leaving, I called Travis to get the weather update and best routes (he's the driving guru....figured I could call him for the best 411). Yup, it was bad. Expect 15-120 minute delays on 1-5 headed south past Salem. Uh oh. I quickly called cell phones..."KIDS!!!! MEET UP NOW, WE HAVE TO GET GOING!!!!" They were great, and very patient through our navigating efforts to hit back roads from Salem on. Which we did. Michele was awesome in her roll as co-pilot (she never freaked out, and put up with my tension with patience), and I was really getting a handle on just what I could do in the snow (and what was unadvisable - don't take turns too fast!). We drove through our winter wonderlands in awe - and of course, with some white knuckling - not only for the drive, but for our time which was passing way too fast. I had an obligation to get those desserts there for the "Dessert Dash" - and felt horrible that I'd be leaving folks hanging. When we were about 10 minutes from our house, and had done our share of "barking at the kids" for pestering one another, we did ask if all of it was worth it. There was a unanimous chorus of "Yes" from all 5 of them - sometimes the joy really is in the journey along with the destination!
We pulled in at 5:00 (the time when the silent auction began...dinner didn't even begin until well over and hour later) - and were at the church displaying our cheesecakes at 5:30. My poor family barely had a chance with my uptight, witchy display of behavior. I really needed to chill, and finally did....after about 90 minutes of being there.
Our group changed up this year. Jonna had called me a couple of weeks prior so sad to report she'd have to be in North Dakota visiting family as her uncle was not in good health. They'd have to pass this year (but, definitely wanted to be included in following years). So, we invited Christi and Tyler Harris - knowing Christi was near her due date, but figuring, "what are the odds?". Um, very good, when Christi ended up showing preclampsyia symptoms and was admitted to the hospital that day to be induced!!!!! EEEEK!!!! How exciting!!!!! So Heather filled in for them. And Michele filled in for John. It was a crazy evening all over the place!
Once I did settle in, it was a great evening. I got a few silent auction items, my "Pick a Topping Vanilla Bean Cheesecake" got picked first in the "Dessert Dash" - third year in a row that my dessert offering has been chosen first. I have really tried hard to produce an item that would appeal to a whole table group, but this year, especially, the offerings were off the chart, so I was confident I would be conceding my first place pick to someone else. I couldn't stop grinning when the top bidding table ran to my dessert and claimed it. Such a silly thing to be proud about, but I am....it makes me feel like I've contributed.
By 10:30pm, the adventures were over and we were back home after having ended the event with a very special conversation with Dave Mertz (despite the many doubts over whether the event should have been canceled along with everything else - it made more than ever before in donations....God's hand was upon it!). The evening was full of encouraging conversations - and quality fellowship. So worth it to return home for.
The fun was far from ending though - the eight inches of snow that fell wouldn't be going anywhere, and by 10:30pm, the whole Schilling clan was down - ready to enjoy a weekend of an unprecedented winter wonderland here in Eugene!