Sunday, December 20, 2015

Countdown

It's almost here!
Christmas is just a few days away.
The question most people ask around this time of year: "Are you ready for Christmas?"
Oh boy, am I ever! I love Christmas!
But I don't think that is quite what the question is. I think what they mean is "Do you have everything you need to celebrate?"
And in some ways, the answer is still YES. I have my family. I have a home. Most importantly, I have Jesus.
But in the eyes of today's society I am not "ready" for Christmas. I have a couple of gifts hiding in the closet. The Boy and I went and cut a tree last week, with the help of the two youngest girls. All the girls decorated the tree. The lights are hanging on the fence and gutter, and they are on.
But I haven't done our baking.
I haven't cleaned the house for company.
I haven't written the Christmas letter or addresses the cards.
I haven't gotten all the gifts.
I haven't made the stocking for Little K that I wanted to make.

I am hoping I get that stuff done this week.
And I am hoping I am feeling well enough to do it.
We just finished 9 days straight of some event Every.Single.Night. So it's no wonder that my body shut down this weekend. We were fighting colds, some of us worse during the week than others. And this morning, I didn't wake up until it was the time that we are usually at church. And when I tried to get up I had such vertigo, that I stayed in bed until mid-afternoon. By then I was done napping and so bored. I made my way out to the couch and spent some time with my people.
Tonight I am feeling much better. It was either watching my girls make dinner, or the ice cream we had for dessert, but I think I am going to be able to cross at least one of the To-Do's off the list tomorrow.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Just Keep Swimming

This girl has been a swimmer since she had her first bath!
It's one of the few ways she is not like her mama.
Even a slip and fall into a river (and near drowning) at age 2 did not deter her from becoming a swimmer. Water is like a magnet pulling her in, whether it is cold or warm.
She has competed on swim teams during various summers, and loved most every moment of it. There were a few times when we got glares from her. She was being challenged by learning a certain stroke, and looked at her dad as if to let him know she Was.Not.Happy. Thankfully she is a determined girl and overcame that challenge and conquered the Butterfly.
This season is her first high school swim season. The middle school does not have a swim team, and so she was only able to swim/compete for a few weeks in the summer. But I think she was counting down the days until Swim team started in November. She found her happy place.
Because she is a freshman, and because their practice was right after school, she started swimming on the JV team. But only a week after starting the coach approached the Mr about having our girl move up to Varsity. We had to take time over the Thanksgiving break to discuss this, since it would mean a change in many things. Now the Girl who Swims has to get up really early in order to get to practice at 5:30 am. So far, after 2 days, she has done it, and done it happily. I have a feeling it isn't going to be a problem for her, even though she is not a morning person. It's going to be a great season!
 



Thursday, December 3, 2015

December

We are 3 days into the month of December and yet it feels like Christmas is coming in just a couple of days! Have I done anything to get ready for Christmas? We strung some lights - have yet to plug them in. We've gotten out the boxes. Maybe I will decorate today. I've thought about the cards and yearly letter. Still thinking.
I sure enjoyed having all my kids at home during the Thanksgiving break. Even though it was busy with school conferences and shopping for items we don't have time to shop for during 'normal' days, I still had fun with my minions, playing games, having dinner together (!) visiting family. And now, I am so ready for that Christmas break!
Between basketball, swimming and choir rehearsals, and everyday life, we've managed to celebrate another birthday. The Boy turned 17 this week. How is this possible? I ask myself nearly every day this week, And yet, the return image from the mirror of my white hairs threaded through my head shocks me into reality. The Boy has grown into a man. This past September when we experienced a trauma I never want to relive, my son showed us the man he is growing into. He stepped up and took care of us, wanting to fix the situation, but unable to, and still helping me and his sisters get through those painful scary hours.

My niece, my goddaughter, graduates from college this weekend. This little girl who now towers over me, physically, with her beautiful model looks and academically, with her super-smart brain, will be taking on the world. Watch out world!  I still remember the phone call when she was born, and when my brother and sister in law honored me by asking me to be her godmother. (Hopefully something good came out of that.) It has been a joy watching her grow-up, along with all my other nieces and nephews! and turn into lovely people that I really like to be around.

The Advent season is upon us, helping us prepare for Christmas. I am fortunate to be able to enjoy the pre-Christmas season through the eyes of a 5 year old. The different perspectives are so fascinating to watch. Last year ((I love post-Christmas sales!!)) I bought a countdown "calendar" for the two youngest, and I hid it in my closet for the entire year! That in itself is a major coup. I brought it out on Nov. 30 and gave it to them. Squeals of delight and excitement emanated at a high-pitch. I kind of wanted to dig into it myself. So the last 3 mornings, they have raced out to open the door of the day. What could be more fun than a Lego countdown to Christmas?!

22 days to go.








Friday, November 27, 2015

Give Thanks

Thanksgiving Day dawned with sunshine, and cold!! And I am so thankful for a heater and a woodstove.
Our family did not run a Turkey Trot this year. Although the Mr. is able to run again after his injuries, we didn't make it a priority to sign up to run. The Boy played in a Turkey Bowl football game the night before, and the Mr. was traveling all week up to the holiday. So, we have our excuses.
My two youngest girls went off with their aunt, so I had the morning to put some food together, along with the other girls' help. And then off we went to my brother's house.
So the 7 of us, along with 30 other relatives, gathered at my brother and sister-in-law's home for a lovely feast.
We started off with a wine tasting. I have family members who are convinced the shape of the glass influences the taste of the wine. The Mr. disagrees, but still had fun listening to my parents tease each other as they tasted different glasses.
 There was plenty of food. There is always plenty of food. This picture is only a sampling of the food - some of the appetizers, since dinner was late.
 I lvoe the holidays and getting to visit with family that I don't see much. Here are two of my nieces. Unfortunately not all of the nieces and nephews could make it this year (You know who you are! and we missed you!)
 They happened to be sitting right next to two of my girls. I was struck by the differences in the two pairs. I don't know why, but my kids hide when my camera comes out.
 As we waited for the turkey to finish cooking, and the sweet potatoes to finish warming, I came across the kid's tables. I thought it was pretty smart for my brother to put down a tarp this year! Maybe too many mashed potatoes on the rug last year?
 I wandered upstairs and found these cutie cousins playing with aunties dollhouse. Their sisters/cousins were coloring. These girls love being together. There's just something about cousins... no matter when or where - they are happy to be together.

 Downstairs it was Lego time! The little boys are brothers/cousins who don't see other too often either. So it was fun to watch them interact. And I just happen to really like Legos too!
 Here is a glimpse of the clean-up:
 They were not the only ones in the kitchen though. My daughter did a great job helping out her grandma as they cleaned the dishes. (and thanks to the sisters/aunts who put the food away!!)
After feasting there was a new activity this year. Pumpkin rolling.
No, it has nothing to do with Thanksgiving, but do any of our traditions?!
A number of our kids didn't make it to the annual pumpkin carving party at this house this year, and at that party we have the Annual Pumpkin roll. So instead of rolling in October, we decided to do it again at Thanksgiving this year. It was a lot of fun, and those little boys loved it!
Then it was time to come in out of the cold, and play games. Chutes and Ladders was my forte once upon a time, but these little guys skunked us.
 And then - my favorite time - Dessert! It was my sister-in-law's birthday and she brought The Chocolate Cake from Costco - yes the same chocolate cake that I always get for my birthday. The Once A Year Cake. The Cake from Heaven. The Cake we will eat IN heaven.
And my little nephew thoroughly enjoyed his dessert - which was not chocolate cake:
Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Thankful for...

November has been busy and fun! It's one of my favorite times of year. Not just because of the upcoming break from school or the feast we are planning, but because it is basketball season!
One of the girls and I spent a Sunday afternoon making Christmas cards at my sister's house. It's one of my rare crafty times.
The fall leaves are coming down in torrents, but they are so beautiful that I don't mind raking them up (or watching the kids rake them)
 
The girls and I made a little video for our Hawaiian friend, and for our Friends in Peru
 - this is the road we drove down towards the school. It is just gorgeous in the fall! The video doesn't do it justice though,
video

And our girl, the Chef, is playing basketball! The team has lost one game so far, out of 7. She has even scored a basket, and we have seen her skills improve in just the short time she has been playing. She played a couple of years on the Upward Basketball team, but the school team is a step above that, and a bit more challenging for her. We're thankful for the daily practices she is getting, and the chance to explore her own talents.

Oregon

It has been wet and windy here for the past few days. But we had to get out. We had some tickets to use up before they expired.
So we went to the zoo, umbrellas in hand. A little rain won't stop us!
It was a terrific zoo day. There was hardly anyone else there. We were able to see the animals for as long as we wanted without crowding, or having to maneuver around others.
The Bears were first on the agenda.
Then we saw some amazing birds - Eagles and condors. And the girls got to climb into a "nest"

The gazelles looked like they wanted to get out of the rain, so my girl helped out.
We had hoped to see real lions, and elephants, but they were missing that day.


But we did get to see the cheetahs up close! That was one of my favorite parts. It was almost like we could touch them!



Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Being 5

Adults might see something as routine, but a 5 year old considers it really exciting. Which in turn makes this adult remember the awe of being five and experiencing new things.
Yesterday was a gold-star day for Little K.

The rain stayed away, which was a nice reprieve from the wet and windy weekend. And it meant we could get some things done, like change the oil and go places without getting soaked.
First, Little K got her first-ever-at-the-salon-haircut in the morning. I could see the thrill on her face, as she sat in the grown up chair, and had the cape tied around her, and then the chair went up, up, up, and so did her grin. She only got a trim, a little cleaning up of her beautiful tresses, but it made her shine the rest of the day. At supper she asked her sister, the Chef, if she could tell what was different about her. (I had to give the older one a hint) And she beamed when big sister mentioned the haircut.

But it got even better for Little K as the day went on. After lunch we went out to the farm. It was a gorgeous fall day - sunny - and it smelled good out there. We loaded up the back of the pickup with pumpkins and then spent some time picking up walnuts. Finally we drove south to a friends house to drop off the pumpkins; they use them to feed their pigs. The girls got to watch the pigs feast on the pumpkins and make the awesome noises that pigs make. Interestingly enough, they sound just like our dog (the yellow Lab). And we got to meet the cows. And then ... Little K got to feed the chickens. It made her so happy! She was even sure to tell her big brother all about this part of it when he got home later that night. (So a big thank you to our friends with the pigs - you made a little girl's day wonderful.)

Five year old's have so much fun, learning new things - how to read, how to tie shoes, how to ride a bike, how to go to school. And showing their parents the joy of living.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

October

How can it already be November? Yesterday, the Mr heard Christmas music playing in one of the stores already! Wait! I am so not ready for that holiday yet!
Looking back at October - what a full, and fun month that was. We took some time to recover from the Mr's exciting scary adventure on the mountain. And then we jumped right back into the busy everyday life we have. The older kids ran their cross country meets, taking their times down at each meet. This girl placed 6th in pre-districts. I was so bursting proud of her. This is the girl who once told me, about 4 years ago, "I'm just not that athletic." I think the past few seasons of basketball, swimming, and now running, have proven that so wrong.
The Girl who Swims (and Runs) also had a birthday this month.
15.
How am I going to keep up?

The Boy also did super in cross country, placing 19th for his district, and also breaking his personal best. I love watching my kids do well each week, and push for more.
The Boy is also starting to check out colleges. Gulp,I'm so not ready for THAT season either! He went to a college fair, and now is getting all kinds of mail from various universities around the world. His sister liked the sound of Dublin college, but I doubt my boy is going to wander that far away from home the first year.
We harvested a truckload, or two, of pumpkins this month also; we were able to sell some, and my front porch area was a beautiful display or oranges, white, and yellows.
We carved our pumpkins at home this year. Usually we go to my brother's house for a great big carving party, but due to illness and homework and rain, we stayed home. And the younger two got their hands into it deeply.
Halloween was very wet. Extremely rainy. Surprise, it's Oregon. We were debating whether we would take the younger ones out to knock on doors and haul in candy. We decided to do it, with the understanding that the 'normal' costumes they wanted to wear would not be happening this time. They had to wear boots, rain pants and a jacket in order to go out. So they went as skiers. The older one decided to go as Where's Waldo; so it all worked nicely, and we hauled in some lovely chocolate for me to eat, us to share.
Basketball season has started for our 7th grader! The Girl Chef is now playing basketball for her school. So far she seems to like it. They had their first game last night, and won. The Chef even shot a basket. Although it did not go in, I was just super happy that she got the ball and, without hesitating, took the open shot.
And with that I am looking forward to the next months when there will be even more basketball - the Boy, and Little K will be starting up theirs soon; and there will be swimming meets, and 4-H; ah, yes, it's a crazy busy life, and I wouldn't have it otherwise.





Saturday, October 3, 2015

One more moment

I have a chalkboard in the hallway where I leave messages for our kids. 
A couple of weeks back some words from a Sunday sermon struck me and so I wrote on there, 
"every moment,
every life,
#cherish"

Over and over again this past week these words have run through my mind.
Many of you know what happened to my husband last Friday, the 25th. (If not message me, and I will send you the link to the newspaper story). It was a traumatic day for us, not knowing whether that rock he was standing on was going to hold him up or crumble down the mountain. He made it - obviously - or I wouldn't be here right now, writing this. He got his side of the story told in the paper and to others who have asked throughout the week. Meanwhile, I have been processing and thinking, because that's how I roll. It takes awhile sometimes for the words to make their way through my dense brain.
I don't believe in coincidences. And especially not after this day.
1. The Mr put his phone in his front pocket - something he never does. Which meant, he could get to it and get help.
2. He fell on his backside instead of falling forward and rolling - which would have ended up much differently and probably worse.
3. The only, ONLY, phone call that went out from his phone that day was his call to 911. Even though he had tried to call me at various times during his hike, and after his fall, this was the only one that went through.We were able to text, and he did text with the sheriff in charge also.
4. He had put his smaller ice ax on the right hand side of his pack, in an easier buckling system than his larger ice ax. Without that he couldn't have stopped his slide at all. If it had been on the left he wouldn't have been able to get it, since his left arm wasn't working at all.
5. People all over the world, literally, were praying for us.
6. And this is the one that gets me choked up the most. This is where I see God's fingerprints the most. The winds were blowing, something like 60 mph. The National Guard fought these winds, and rescued my husband, without a problem. Yes, these are very highly skilled, very highly trained pilots; but even they were ready to take the helicopter in.
7. Just as my son and I were getting ready to leave at 9:30 pm to drive 2+ hours to the hospital, my sister showed up at the door. I hadn't called her. She just showed up to see what could be done. She took one look at me and said, "You aren't driving." And without even her toothbrush she put us in her car and away we went into the night.

All these "little" things added up to a big thing for me. God had us in His hand the whole time.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

School weeks

The first few weeks of school are in the books.
On the first day of school I will admit I teared up a bit as I watched my 7th grader walk into the big ol' school without me. This is her first year at Away School, and just like with her older brother and sister, I have had to adjust my heart.
The 2 kids at home school this year are such a blessing. We are having quite a fun time, relaxing in pjs half the morning, and then getting some work done. We didn't really start school until the week after everyone else had gone back. And even then, I've been so busy with other stuff that the week was actually only a half week for them.
But this week we are more or less trying to stay on task and on schedule. Of course, then the kids get sick with back-to-school colds, and there goes that plan.
The Girl Who Swims is now the Girl Who Runs. She joined the cross country team, now that she is in high school. (And just saying that makes me pause and gulp at how time is flying.) Wow, she is fast! it is her first year of running. She's never been much of a runner, never really liked it, until this year. We've all been nicely surprised by how well she is doing too. She is running the Varsity team 5k's at each meet, and bringing her time down each week. This past week's meet saw her at 24 minutes, placing 15th out of 44. It was a PR of 2 minutes!
The Boy is running also. This will be his third season of cross country, and he's improving right along with the others. He runs between 19 and 21 minutes for a 5k. The sickness hit him this week, so he didn't get a chance to run the race yesterday.
The Girl Chef is adjusting well to school. One of her electives is a sort of Home Ec class. It has a different name, but I still haven't figured out what the acronym stand for. Anyway, she is cooking away in there, and learning some sewing skills alongside healthy menus, etc. She comes home and teases her dad with "Today we made ____" (usually something yummy!)
My now-10 year old (her birthday was this week) is liking the changes we made to homeschool too. Instead of the dry textbook approach I did for too many years with science and history, we tried a new curriculum this year. Sonlight Science has us looking at various cool books to learn about the body and how it works. The first day we opened an Usborne book and she said something like Wow, I like science! It was the first time I heard that from her.
We've got some work to do on spelling!
Little K started kindergarten this year. Now that is such a fun age! And thankfully pretty relaxed and easy. I let her go beyond what I require if she wants to - which she did the first week.
But it hasn't been all work and no play. Last weekend we made it out to the Mt. Angel Oktoberfest. I had promised the girls pony rides - since we didn't do them at the State Fair. I knew the children's garden was free at Oktoberfest, so I didn't mind waiting in line for them to ride around in a circle on a pony for 5 minutes. I was reminded of the days when I used to ride my cousin's horse, or my friends' horse; this is the closest my kids have gotten to equestrian.
 The weather is changing, and I am enjoying the cooler days, the time at home with school, the upcoming Bible study, football games, cross country meets; trying to cherish each moment.


Monday, September 14, 2015

Ups and Downs

What a weekend.
On one hand, I have gotten to spend some great time with my three younger girls, doing a lot of family stuff together. We stayed up really late one night watching Anne of Green Gables - we're now on the 2nd movie, of three. What is it about Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe? Even though I know the story, and the outcome, I swoon every time I read that story! And the language - so poetic and lovely and flowing. And we had a family picnic on Saturday, exploring a different part of Silver Falls, on our bicycles this time.
On the other hand, we went to my uncle's funeral Friday. This man, this family, was like my second home growing up. My cousin was my best friend when we were younger. But changes come, and death comes, and even though I know my uncle is at peace, there is still a sadness. During the service I glanced at my dad, whose brother was in that coffin. And it hit me pretty hard that in a few years - hopefully many years! - we will be doing this for him.
On then on the other hand, I got to see my cousins, many of whom I had not seen in eons; I got to visit a bit and that was wonderful! Even in the sad circumstances, it was good to be with family, and to reconnect even for a moment with them.
And then on the other hand again, it was 9/11, and the emotional memories of that day were present. This day is a tragic historical event to my kids. To me, it is very real in my memory. So when they asked questions, wanting to know and understand what happened, it was difficult for me to explain it all. I remember where I was, what we were doing, the aching in my heart that day, that week.
And so it was a bit of a see-saw weekend. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Time of change

Today was another milestone in our lives.
The Chef-girl went to Away School for the first time, leaving me home with just two of my babies.
She is in 7th grade now; it's like I blinked and 12 years flew past me. I know, it's cliche, but it really seems like a blink of an eye and they are grown.
 

Our oldest is now a licensed driver. He went and took the test last week and passed with flying colors. I have yet to get him on the insurance, and get the car he is going to take to school ... all in good time. Maybe it is my inner way of holding back the inevitable. He is a junior in high school, and living it up.
The Girl Who Swims,(on the right, below) is now a freshman in high school. I can actually remember back to my freshman year, and meeting my life-long friends then.
At least I still have the two at home. They continue to help me out during the day, and one of these days soon we will actually start school work with them! For now we are enjoying the weather and the fact that most everyone else is in school.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

State fair

We made it to the fair this year.
Not just once, but twice!!
Because of whatever reason, the powers that be offered admission for .25 on Thursday. How could be say no to that price? My sister and I loaded the kids and drove on over. (Cue Beverly Hillbillies music in my mind)
We got there soon after it opened, which was nice since there were less people to walk through. We enjoyed some shows, some animals, some exhibits. We were able to check on The Girl who Bakes' 4-H exhibit. As we wandered through the baked goods, we found her plate with the beautiful words "Reserve Champion" on the tag. Woohoo! My girl can cook!
We took in the dog show - a favorite every year. And we had to partake of the ice cream offered by the Dairy Women of Oregon.
It was enough for 25 cents.
But we had to go again. We had free tickets from the kids' library reading program, and two of the family members didn't get to go with us on Thursday. So we picked Monday as the day. Once again, we loaded up the pickups and found some free parking (wow!) We spent the afternoon walking through ALL the exhibits. The girls spent their money on the Ferris Wheel. We spent ours on ice cream.
We enjoyed the clown show.
The younger two wanted to stay at the Ag area for along time, "milking" cows, saddling the horse, cleaning the stalls,
There's hope for the future ...

We decided to ride the Fair Lift on Thursday - 3 of them enjoyed it so much, they took it back across the Fair again. The other 3 decided to stay on the ground.
 The petting zoo was a hit. The baby wallaby - you can't see it here, but it was poking its head out of momma's tummy - was extremely cute.
A lovely way to end summer vacation.