Friday, October 21, 2016

Cross country

We only have 1 meet left in the season! I can't believe it has gone by so fast. The kids started running in August, just come-if-you-can practices, and ice-cream runs. And now as their times are inching down, as their muscles are stronger and their strides are faster. .. it will be coming to an end.
The Boy's senior season has been good. No injuries, a little sickness, but nothing bad; he is running well, and taking off time at each meet. I know it isn't his favorite sport. It's more of a stay-in-shape kind of sport. But that's ok. It is a lifetime sport, so we're good with that.
The Girl Who Swims, is also quite a runner. She continues to amaze us, just as her brother did as he grew through high school. Her times continue to shrink; her placing in races continues to get better. And she is good. I try not to get my hopes up, but a part of me wants her to make it to the state meet this year. If not, that's ok too, she's only a sophomore, she likes running, so I know we'll have 2 more years to obtain that goal.
At least we have basketball next season - woot woot!

Of Books and things

Going to the library is a big deal in our house. The kids beg me to take them more often than whenever the books are due. So last weekend I took the older girls so they could have some fun reading material outside of schoolwork. Which meant I also got to spend almost an hour looking at books.
I'm on a cookbook fixation this month. (Swim season is rapidly approaching and rumor has it that my swimmer girl isn't supposed to eat sweets or sugars during the season. It's going to be a challenge to feed this girl. She loves her cookies and ice cream. So do I!) So I am looking at various cookbooks to get some new ideas. Hmm, this sounds a lot like a post I wrote a couple of months ago ... needing new dinner ideas. Anyway, there is a cookbook for just about anything! I came across the Polish cookbooks, and being half Polish, decided to look into them. Just to be fair to my husband's side, I did glance at the Irish ones... but didn't find much in the one I looked at. Head cheese, liver, and various other dishes that I am sure my stomach and my children, wouldn't handle too well.
So the Polish cookbook I brought home also has history and traditions interwoven in the recipes. And some of those recipes look goooood. I am hoping to attempt pierogi. My grandma made it - I have heard; I didn't get to taste hers. I did get to taste her doughnuts however. Oh my, those and her cinnamon rolls. I haven't had either as good as hers since she made them. I think it's about time I try to make them though, or else convince my mom to make them for her grandchildren and carry on that tradition!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Looking back

Sometimes it's good to look back on things and see how far we have come. 
A year ago today I had a gut-wrenching day. 
Gut-wrenching in the literal term. I had no idea if I would be a widow by morning or not. Oh, I had hope. And I had prayer, fervent prayer that it would be "not" for the answer. 
Never have I prayed so hard, or felt so connected to God. 
I had no way to help, except though prayer. 
I had no one to turn to who could actually comfort me, except God.
Oh, I had friends and family praying and surrounding me with love. But none of them could say 100% that he would come home. Only going to God would give me hope. 

For years I have struggled with prayer. I didn't believe that God would actually listen to me. I hoped He would; I hoped Jesus would want to intercede for me. But I think deep down I doubted my petty prayers would be heard among the masses God must hear daily.
But on 9/25 last year, I had no doubt. I knew He heard me. I knew in my inmost heart that He was with me. I held on to my Bible and read and reread Psalm 121:
I lift my eyes up to the hills, 
where does my help come from? 
My help comes from the Lord, 
the maker of heaven and earth. 
He will not let your foot slip - 
He who watches over you will not slumber; 
indeed He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 
The Lord is your shade at your right hand; 
the sun will not harm you by day, 
nor the moon by night.
 He will watch over your life; 
the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. 
The Lord watches over you, 
the Lord will keep you from all harm—I am thankful now a year later, that the answer and the outcome was the one I wanted. It isn't always so with prayer. God isn't a Santa Claus granting our every wish or desire. 

I have come at prayer differently these days. I know God loves me and wants to hear from me, and wants to bless me; and yet also wants to help me grow, which often means difficult things may come my way. I'm okay with that. I know He will be with me no matter what. I knew last year that He would be with me if the outcome would have been different. I knew I would give Him glory no matter what. 
Sometimes it's good to look back and see what has changed and where we've been.
Sometimes it's better to look ahead and hope for what is yet to come.

Birthday girl

Once upon a time we had three children. And then number four arrived, on September 21 of 2005. Our third girl baby. Her oldest sibling, our only boy, shed a few tears when he heard the news. He has since gotten over that.
We celebrated this girl's birthday in a strange succession of events this week. On her birthday we had a cross country meet to go to, and then rushed off to church for Awana. So we weren't going to be able to have our family celebration until the late evening. However, plans had to change when we got home and discovered our dog had escaped again. With thunder and lightning overhead our dog got scared and ran. So we spent a lot of time tracking her down -- the Internet was a wonderful tool that night, connecting us with a mutual friend of the family who found our dog. By the time we were settled back at the house we only had time for presents. So we had cake and ice cream the following night.

And then yesterday she got to have a birthday party with friends. This isn't a yearly occurrence for our kids. With five of them, if we had parties every year for each of them, well ... I might be a little crazier than I am now.
She wanted a Hawaiian theme party. So we got out the decor, made up some games, and bought some leis. We had the girls play a getting-to-know-you game by throwing around a beach ball that had questions on it. Since some friends were from church, some were neighbors, and a cousin was here, they all got to meet new friends.

We also played a Fishy game ... I strung gummi fish and dangled them from the ceiling in a line. They girls formed teams and had to eat the fish off the the string, no hands allowed. It was pretty funny.
And then there was place the coconut on the palm tree game. Lots of laughs with that one!
Cake and presents took up the next hour and after a relay race outside, using extra large shoes, it ws just about time for parents to pick up their kids.
16 young ladies at our house, along with a couple of younger cousins. We had a lot of fun!

Another beginning

(Note: I wrote this awhile back, but forgot to publish, oops)
One week of school done. And there has already been drama in the middle-schooler's life. Ugh, drama, drama. Immaturity and insecurity bring about a lot of pain and drama. I think the girls have it worse than the boys. My son had some at that age and learned quickly who was his friend and who had integrity versus who was still learning. It's a good thing those piercing words were not aimed at my daughter last week. My mama bear claws might have come out. As it was, I was angry at first with the girls who were laughing at another child. And then I was just really saddened to think they might know better but chose to act that way.

I gotta admit, I cried a little last Wednesday as we prayed over the kids and sent them off to the first day at school this year. I have two younger ones at home that will keep me company and keep me hopping; but I really enjoyed having all my minions with us for the past three months.
Our son is a senior now, which means college is looming. We don't know where he will be next year at this time, but it will all work out.

My girls were definitely excited to get out and see their friends. And yes, they like school and the teachers and learning.

Our homeschool starts this week. It is still summer weather here in Oregon, so we can take advantage of the glorious days before we stick our noses in books. This week we went bike riding, and spent a lot of time outside playing. And even though we are officially starting our studies, I am pretty sure we will be outside a lot more until the rains come.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Tri again

A few years ago, like maybe five or so, the Girl Who Swims did some kids triathlons. And she loved it.
Fast forward-- now in high school, she runs, she swims, she runs some more. This weekend she and the Mr. did a sprint triathlon together with a number of guys from the church.
It was a beautiful day although it started a little early for a Saturday! We were up at the crack of sunlight to get to the lake in time. Thankfully we could go in two shifts so the non-participants slept in a few minutes more and didn't rush quite as much.
The Mr has been training for this for just over a month. He runs regularly, and has been swimming ever since he started rehab on his shoulder. But putting the bicycling part into the rotation made the difference. The pants that were getting tight are now loose! And he had a great time just doing the course. He was pretty nervous about the swim section, since he isn't a swimmer. He did just fine, staying at the back of the men's heat, and getting through the water with his long arms doing the backstroke. It helped us on the shore see where he was too - those long arms coming out of the water - so we were able to track his progress.

The Girl who Swims (and runs!) has been swimming and running all year, but only a tiny bit of cycling. So we were a little concerned with how it would go for her on the bike. But she blew us all away. She placed 2nd in her age division, and did each leg with a smile.

 That night when we got home, the Mr was already looking up the next triathlon that they could do, and trying to get me to do one also. I don't swim at all. "I only dog-padddle," as a famous movie character once said.

Sunday, September 4, 2016


August 2016-- family campout.
We made it to Diamond Lake this year for our camping experience. It has now become one of our favorites. Even though it was quite a long drive, with many "how much farther?" questions from the 6 year old, there was plenty to see, and plenty of time to talk. We did see a car accident that must have happened within the half hour; that was pretty sobering.
We got there in time for the kids to set up the tent with Dad while I got dinner together with some helpers. The yellow jackets decided they liked our taco salad, so we had to move our supper time inside the tent. Once we were done the visitors left and we came out in time to go down to the lake for a beautiful sunset. A campfire, with s'mores and a game helped end the day.

  Brrr - the nighttime is cold there! Even though we weren't all feeling rested the next morning we went on bike rides. Little K. is now pretty much a pro on her bike without training wheels. That was an exciting moment for me - now we can go on rides as a family!
We explored the campground to find that we were maybe one of five campers there. It was so quiet and peaceful. In the afternoon we headed over to Crater Lake; we hadn't been there since we had our exchange student way back in 2004. What a beautiful creation! God is quite the artist.

I have a terrible fear of heights. It affects my stomach, my knees .... They literally do go weak. Well, looking down at Crater Lake was great, for a little bit. But I can only handle so much. Driving around the rim of the lake was ok, I closed my eyes as the Mr. handled the road. But by the time we went to see the Pinnacles, I was at the end of my tolerance level.
The others wanted to get out and walk the trail to look down in the canyon there. Yes, the pinnacles are very cool to see, but I had a bit of a meltdown. Embarrassing for me to have my kids see this, but I've come to finally realize I won't be able to go on the Amazing Race after all. My sweetie took good care of me, and had me down to the flatlands on the way back to camp in no time. This was an "Oh Lord, Thank you Jesus" drive. I was glad to be coming down from the heights, but then a kind park ranger pulled over our truck. Seems that the Mr was going too fast for the speed limit there. But thankfully he just gave us a warning, not a ticket. Amen!

There were no bees that evening, so we enjoyed supper around the campfire with the final round of s'mores. And since we knew it was going to be cold, we were better prepared with our blankets!
Day three and it was almost time to go home. I forgot about this third day feeling from last year, the one where we all say, I wish we had another full day here! But we had time for more bike rides before we cleaned up and had lunch, then broke camp. We decided to visit the resort nearby and rent paddle boats. The Girl Who Swims was thrilled to be out on the water. Even though the wind was picking up and making it pretty choppy, they had a great time!
Another long drive home (with a necessary stop at Dairy Queen ) and another car crash on the opposite side of the freeway, but we made it home, happy, dirty, and thankful for hot water, warm house, and no bee visitors for supper.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

New Friends

I met a lady recently whom I have come to admire. I don't know her well yet, but what I do know I like. Let me tell you how it happened.
 Our older kids go to school with her kids, so I have seen her around but had never talked to her. Then she and her family showed up at our church. So I went over to talk with her. As we exchanged who are you's, I mentioned that we homeschool, and she said, "Oh, I'm jealous!"
What? Shake my brain, rattle it around, did I hear you right?
I have never had that response to my homeschooling admission. Usually I hear things like, "I could never do that" or perhaps an inference to my state of mind and sanity. To actually have someone jealous of what I was doing ... I knew right then I liked this lady.
But it gets better.
We continued our conversation, and got around to the fact that I have 5 children. And she once again got me. She said something to the effect of how wonderful that is.
People, that is not the normal response I get. It's usually more along the lines of  "Do you know what causes that?" Or, "You sure have your hands full!" (and yes, I do, to both comments. My little secret is that I wish I had more kids.) The stares, the people visibly counting us as we go by ... it isn't new to me. I grew up the youngest of ten, so yeah, I have heard a number of comments. But this woman said something unlike all of that. She thought 5 children would be wonderful. She has 3 children, so she knows what it takes to be a mom, and she holds a job besides that.
I'm looking forward to getting to know her more!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

What's to eat?

Every few months I get tired of cooking supper. My inspiration is gone, my zeal and any interest in  meals is zapped. If I can swing it in the budget, we usually end up getting pizza or takeout on those nights. This month I did it a little differently. I told the kids to get in the car, and bring a sweatshirt, because we were going out for dinner. The Mr had to work late in the field, so he didn't come along. We headed west while the kids kept guessing. Eventually they figured out that we were heading to the beach.

 We stopped at a favorite park in Lincoln City, to stretch our legs.
 Then it was off to Mos for some clam chowder. Yum.
We even head enough time to walk on the beach and, as usual happens, throw, er, skip rocks in the water. It was a lovely night.

The next night I still hadn't recovered from my lack of cooking syndrome. So we grabbed some takeout and went out to the farm. It was so quiet and peaceful there.  We ate our food, sitting in the back of the pickup, listening to the birds call each other.

 After we were done, the kids got out their BB guns and did some target practice. The Mr got out his shotgun and the kids had a turn learning about big guns. I took one turn too, and once was enough. It hurt my shoulder and I totally missed what I was aiming at. And it's so loud!
I went and pulled weeds instead because strangely enough that was relaxing to me. Cleaning the rows of weeds and seeing my work brought a good feeling of accomplishment.
The kids made supper on the next night! And we had a potluck on the following night. So four days of not cooking helped me get back into the groove. Since my cooking lapse, I've made calzone, grilled chicken, and chili. I've got my hundred or so cookbooks out of the cupboard, and I am looking up some new ideas for meals. I think I am going to make it, at least for a month or so.

Independence Weekend

The annual family camp-out happened this past holiday weekend. We hadn't been camping with the extended family in a few years. But I braved the elements and took the 5 kids camping without the Mr's help. He had to stay home and work, (and recover from a bad cough.)

We had a beautiful weekend on the coast. You know it's the Oregon coast because of the coats being worn. But this time the beach was warm, although it wasn't really sunny.

The kids had a great time playing in the sand, playing in the water, playing with cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents.

We took a hike out to Cape Lookout but only made it halfway. The hike was a bit more than we had anticipated with the young ones in tow.
The drop offs were pretty steep. And although it wasn't too taxing of a hike, it was too much for the little guys this time. The Boy was able to finish the hike later with other relatives.

 My youngest was really enthralled by the one park ranger's talk that we got to hear. It was all about owls and the sounds they make. After we went on a nature walk, we passed the presentation area at just the right time. Even though it was kind of cold, Little K wanted to stay and listen, and she paid close attention to everything the ranger said, even going so far to raise her hand and answer a question (which surprised me!)

We spent a lot of time on the sand - of course it's never enough for the kids. They made sandcastles and dug with their cousins. The Boy had his uncle's help on the wall he was making.

And you just can't keep The Girl Who Swims out of the water.

The campsite had enough bushes and tree growth around it so we didn't feel like we were in someone else's business.

Another great family camping trip - blessed to have such a great large group!