Fall 2015

I feel like it was only a few months ago I put a toddler, preschooler, and first grader to bed.  Then I woke up in the morning and I have a fifth grader, second grader, and kindergartener.  I think it has hit me harder this fall because we turned a page and transitioned into a new era.  With any change, you look back and mourn the past a bit.  While at the same time you embrace the future and the new opportunities it brings.

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Even though fifth grade is not junior high, the oldest child gets to do more with the 6th, 7th, and 8th graders since it is a small private school.  She can play on the school sports teams (and it is incredibly awesome they are free!)  and has multiple teachers for classes.  But she is still a kid in many ways.  I am glad she does not feel the pressure to grow up too quickly.  It is strange to come home from Bible Study or youth group and she is still awake.  We extended her bedtime to 9 PM.  Back in the day I would come home from things and the kids had been asleep for two hours already.

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No one told me how different blogging with older kids is completely different versus having little ones.  Sharing about the perils of potty training, toddlers temper tantrums, and sleeping through the night is acceptable and therapeutic.  But blogging about older kid issues like bullying or being bullied, bad report cards, girl drama, puberty issues, or child anxiety/depression is harder.  Not that I have any major secrets to hide, but my kids ask for privacy.  I want it for them as well.

IMG_3752So this child hit double digits this fall…technically still summer.  Her birthday is a few days before the actual beginning of the fall…though often it still feels like summer here.  We celebrated by going roller skating with a few of her friends.  I can still skate pretty well though playing Shoot the Duck is a stretch.  I think “Couple’s Skates” are a thing of the past and I am perfectly OK with that.

IMG_3789At the end of September we went camping with friends from church at the coast.  The weather looked questionable after a rainy couple of days.  Weather.com was accurate and the rain held off the entire weekend.  It was beautiful!

We barely got up the eight person tent and the poles on their last leg.  I did have some anxiety the tent would collapse in the middle of the night and then what?  This lovely tent was our wedding present from back in 2001 and it has served us well–maybe time to replace it?

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The second night was colder than the first, but it was not unbearable.  We spent the majority of the time hanging out with our friends, learning to skate, sitting on the beach, drinking coffee, sitting by the fire etc.

I love to camp and being outside in general.  It is more my thing than the husband’s but he is a good sport about it.

IMG_3874A few weeks later I chaperoned the kid’s trip to the pumpkin patch.  It was third time doing it in the six years we have had kids in their school. It is one of my favorite field trips.  Thankfully the weather cooperated again.

IMG_3892It was my only trip to the pumpkin patch this year with my kids.  My oldest was too old to go with the school, but she got to go with her girl’s group from church.

This fall season was a bit unique because one week later I headed by myself to Chicago.  I was home 36 hours and the husband left for Kiev, Ukraine for a week-long ministry trip.

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I cannot remember the last time I saw the Midwest in October…probably since our last fall in Michigan in 2005.  I loved seeing all the deciduous trees in full color.

IMG_3933My main purpose for the trip was to see my 90 year old grandma who recently moved to assisted living.  I was grateful I could help my mom with the move as it was quite a bit of work.  It was a treat seeing my siblings, their kids, cousins, and my aunt and uncle.

I took the Red Eye out there. I have had bad experiences flying Red Eyes such as not sleeping at all, muscle cramps in my legs (especially if I have been running long distances), and general fatigue which triggers out of control emotions.  I was quite surprised I slept almost the whole entire flight from Seattle to Chicago.  I woke up a few times, but I have never slept that much on a flight.  I still felt messed up sleeping wise, but it did not affect the trip too terribly.

I thought I would come home and be overly exhausted and I have been known to not adjust well after trips.  But I was fine.  Even the week the husband was away, I did great taking care of the day care kids, keeping the house running, getting my kids to where they needed to be etc.  You get on an autopilot mode and go.

We probably ate too much pizza, hot dogs, and ice cream among Halloween candy.  It was a little weird celebrating Halloween without the husband.  On Sunday we were all cranky and tired (some decided to nix the extra hour to sleep in courtesy of Daylights Savings and get up super early) and ready for the husband to come home.

Now we are all together again and it’s November.  We have two birthdays to celebrate, a home bazaar to run, Thanksgiving, girl’s basketball games, and much more.  There is always something to look forward to.

I have to remind myself that because November is typically when the rain, dark afternoons, wetness, etc hits Oregon.  We do have pockets of sun and sometimes a few dry days in a row.  For the most part it can be a hard time of year for those who crave outside air and sunny days.  I try to get outside anyway even if it means running in the dark or worse getting drenched in the rain.

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Week #5: Water and Lemonade Stands

Can I just say how much I love summer?  I love swimming with my kids.

IMG_1144Last week Monday my friend invited us over to swim in their lake.  Because we all love the water, we cannot turn that kind of invitation down.  This is the same lake I trained for my triathlon on.

IMG_1150The water and warm temperatures were perfect.  We had hot dogs over the fire afterwards and smores.

On Tuesday my husband had to do a visit in Silverton so we came along.  We swam at the Silverton Reservoir where I also did a few training swims for my triathlon.

IMG_1154Because it is mostly a fishing area, we had to be very careful about fish hooks and glass.  The kids had to swim in their shoes.

IMG_1160There was a little place to jump off the bank into the water.

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I get a little more concerned with swimming with my kids in the open water.  Even thought my oldest is an excellent swimmer for an eight year old, I still have her wear a life jacket.  We’ve had a large number of drownings in the area the past couple weeks.  Many of our lakes and rivers have not warmed up yet and people don’t expect the cold temperatures.  Our swim areas tend to be more rustic and not as user friendly as the Midwest beaches I grew up going to.  You have to be cautious about drop-offs, rocks, and currents.

On Wednesday we met friends at a local park and on Thursday we relaxed at home.  I did not take any pictures those two days.

On Friday the kids had their annual lemonade stand for the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

IMG_1181They had it from 4 PM to just after 5 and got lots of customers.  Everyone was coming home from work.  We also made M & M cookies.

IMG_1179I race for Prostate Cancer awareness because my grandpa passed away from it in 1989 when I was in junior high.  My dad is a survivor.

IMG_1183 Friday night we saw the most beautiful sunset.

Saturday was my triathlon. Sunday we had thunderstorms all day.  For us thunderstorms are somewhat of a treat because we rarely get them.  We have had abnormal humidity this summer and high temperatures.  Some complain about the heat, but I kind of like it.  It makes it feel more like summer.

 

 

Second week of summer

Week #2 of summer.  The unfortunate thing about this week was my seasonal allergies got so bad that I had a pulsing sinus headache that knocked me out most of Tuesday.  The fortunate thing was the kids are old enough that I could sleep while they played on their own. Especially because I took a Sudafed PM on accident instead of AM…so that pretty knocked me out all afternoon. The kids can work the TV (and they know only 1 hour in the morning), make their own snacks, get their bikes out of the shed, etc.  The husband works next door to our house so he could check in on them every hour and was home for a full hour during lunch. The oldest knows how to use the phone. It was a little anxiety ridden for me at first–“They’re unattended!”  Yet they are 8,6, and 4 now…it’s not like the days of laying on the couch sick letting toddlers run around and hoping nothing gets destroyed.

But that was only one day…one day of an overall pretty good week.

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It is the week before VBS and I am directing again this year.  What seems to be a daunting stressful job for many has become doable…and even fun…for myself.  It took many years of trial and error to get to this point.  While I know I won’t direct forever (I already warned my church this is not a permanent thing!) it has been a great volunteer position for me this year.  Lots of people stepped up.  Because my oldest is doing odd jobs to earn money for her mission trip to Philadelphia this month, she helped me sort volunteer t-shirts, name tags, and helped my friend set up decorations.

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After being sick on Tuesday, I was itching to get out of the house.  The weather was beautiful!  My head still was not quite right in the morning.  By 3 PM I decided to bite the bullet and take the kids biking.  I knew they would go slow and we could take breaks as needed.  It was our first bike ride together on a trail.  My youngest’s bike is not in the greatest condition and the training wheels don’t stay in place so that created a few falls…and stops.  But overall everyone had a great time.

ImageIt is difficult for me to bike with all three of them because I have a racing road bike.  I bike in clips (though I am still a rookie and learning how to do this).  I am too nervous about biking slowly behind them especially when they stop suddenly…not sure I could clip out that fast.  So I wear my 90’s style roller blades…and I still get a good workout too.

ImageBecause I was feeling so much better, I decided to play street hockey Wednesday night.  Some guys from our church started a Wednesday night hockey night in our church parking lot.  I don’t like to play volleyball or basketball–but I won’t turn down a game of hockey…even I have not played since junior high intramurals…and we’re talking over 20 years ago!

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I took the kids to the Public Works Day at the local park.  It is when the Public Works department comes with all their big trucks and educate the children about what they do.  There is also some bike safety education, games, face painting, and free lunch.  My kids went last year and loved it…so we had to go again.

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We have been trying to teach the children about other cultures.  One of the best ways to do that is with food.  The husband made a Korean barbecue and then we had the kids read a website about the country.  We quizzed them about what they learned.

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I am not sure what country we will do next.  Ethiopia?  Indonesia?  Greece?  The kids want to do Mexico, but I would rather do one that is going to be more of a challenge…and different.

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We ended the week by going to Eugene for part of the day.  My friend Linda who was in the youth group I lead back in Michigan was playing in an ultimate frisbee tournament there.  I visited her over Spring Break in May in LA where she currently lives.  This time she got to see the husband again and meet the kids.  We were able to watch her game and go out for pizza…this is a picture from when were in LA together.  I was a dork and left the camera memory card pack home in the PC yet again.

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Now on to VBS week–where our week will be pretty much be VBS and not much more!

Spring Break Plus A Bonus Week

So we had Spring Break plus “a bonus Spring Break” because my sister and her family ventured out to Oregon the week after our break. Since I had to dig my flip flops and shorts out of the attic for my trip to California and I am not about to put everything back, I feel like summer is on its way.  Especially with the warm sunny weather we are soaking up.  Yet I know well enough about the rain that sometimes invades in May and the June gloom here in Oregon so I am leaving a couple long sleeves and hoodies in the closet.

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So back in March we told the kids we were going to Washington because my husband had an all day meeting at a church. This was all made up.  There was no meeting. We told them they had to spend a full day entertaining themselves in the church nursery.  I hate holding the truth from my kids so I told them we’d stay in a motel with a pool.  Our plan was to surprise them and take them to Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, Washington.  And yes, they were surprised.

ImageOne of the best things about Great Wolf Lodge with a 8,6, & 4 year old (we have gone when they were younger) is we could do almost everything including all ride on a tube slide together.  There was just one slide my younger two did not meet the height requirement on.  It was refreshing and fun to not have to spend the whole time in the little kid’s area. However, it was nice they still wanted to play there at times giving us a little break too.

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It was a great time for our family.  I am in this new phase of parenting where I am doing more with the kids versus for them.  It really makes events like this enjoyable.

ImageAfter Great Wolf, my family dropped me off at PDX where I flew to LA to visit my friend Linda.  Linda was in the youth group I lead back in Michigan, and somehow she got all grown up on me and is now a graduate student at USC.  I love seeing my youth group “kids” all grown up finding their place in the world.

My first full day in LA I drove in my rental car braving the crazy six lane highways I am not used to.  I headed to Santa Monica where I enjoyed the festivities on the pier and a run along the beach.

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And an amazing sunset!

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 Linda gave me an “inside” view of LA.  We ate at several ethnic restaurants, drove to the Hollywood sign, I went to her Ultimate Frisbee tournament, and we even got to visit the LA opera.

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I could not get enough of the warm, sunny, LA weather.  I am not sure I could live the pace of LA, but the weather and the beaches are pretty amazing.

After four days of being home and trying to revert back into some kind of routine, we were thrilled to have my sister, her husband, and kids come visit us in Oregon.  They live back in Michigan where we used to live so we don’t get to see one another often.

While they were here, my brother-in-law did the Beaver Freezer Triathlon on the campus of Oregon State.  It was my second sprint triathlon.  He has done more and even completed an Ironman Triathlon.  It was fun to do one with a family member.

Amy runningMy time was very similar (only a thirty second difference) from my first triathlon last spring in Stayton, Oregon.  But the swimming went so much better.  Last spring I felt nauseous swimming and could not get into a good swimming pattern.  I felt like I could have increased my speed on the bike, but I am still not totally comfortable “bike racing.”  This is something I hope to work on this summer.  The run for me was by far the best and my run time was only about 1 minute and half more than my normal 5K time.

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My brother-in-law is the guy in the back with the blue shirt and sunglasses.  I thought this picture was funny with the “happy runner” in the front.

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One of the greatest things about having my sister and her family here is seeing all the cousins playing together.  They are ages 12,10,8.6,4–there was a baby every two years.  My brother continued that pattern with an almost two year old and a baby due next month.

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The weather cooperated and we were able to spend most of Monday at Silver Falls State Park.  We have been there many times.  We appreciate it more going with people who have never gone before.

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My sister, her husband, my niece, my nephew, and my oldest two hiked to Double Falls which was about a four mile hike round trip.  My youngest and I made it just past the lower South Falls and took a breather while the rest went on.  We were able to hike back together.

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And then return home to a wonderful dinner cooked by my husband.

After my sister’s family left I cannot believe how tired everyone was.  It has taken us a few days to get our energy back.  My sister made the comment that there is something relaxing about getting back into your normal routine.  I have found that to be true.  The house is slowly getting put back together and everyone is returning back to work, school & regular activities.

Running In Eugene and Portland and back to Salem

I am still recovering from a fast paced (but fun!) weekend.  On Friday morning after I was complaining about rising early and how cluttery the house felt, I was thankful to see the beautiful sun.  Despite a full day I did get to sneak a run in the late afternoon.  Then in the evening I got to take all three kids with me to the gym for a time to swim.  My oldest swims on a non-competitive swim team and needs no assistance in the water.  She’s learning breaststroke, pre-butterfly, and flip turns–things I don’t know how to do but wish I did.  My middle son wants to ditch his water wings and is close to being “water safe.”  My youngest is a fish in the water like her sister.

Then on Saturday morning I had the honor of celebrating life at my friend’s baby shower.  During my busy week, I feared I would not get the shower games and prizes together in time or the food planned in time.  However it all came together beautifully.

Saturday afternoon my friend and I drove south to Eugene  to visit one of our other friends who moved there.  I have only been to Eugene one other time last spring for a conference.  I wanted to go there my birthday weekend and run on Pre’s trail in memory of the track star of the 1970’s Steve Prefontaine and see Pre’s rock where he tragically died in a car crash.  My friend had plans on my birthday.  I am so glad I waited because the 60’s sunny weather was perfect running unlike the rainy windy cold on my birthday.  IMG_0253

Any running geek needs to visit Eugene aka Tracktown USA.  Steve Prefontaine wanted a trail similar to the style and terrain  of European trails to run through Alton Baker Park near the university campus.

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And it was a perfect day for a run.  The park was very busy with runners, walkers, bikers, dog walkers, and people sitting by the ponds relaxing.

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Steve Prefontaine died on May 30, 1975 when he swerved into a rock on Skyline Boulevard and flipped trapping him underneath his car.  I could see how the accident could happen as the hill going up to Skyline was extremely steep, there is little shoulder, and few street lights.  Runners come to this rock and leave running shoes and medals.  Or they touch the wall and run back down the hills (which I saw a nearby runner do).

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My most favorite part of the day was spending time with quality time with friends.  It is nice to have little to no agenda or schedule and simply get caught up on life.

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I am grateful for the friends God has blessed my family with here in Oregon that sometimes have had to serve as “our surrogate family.”

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Our running weekend continued.  The alarm went off super early Sunday morning and I had to nudge my oldest out to bed.  We were headed north this time to Portland to run in the  Shamrock race.  Did you know St. Patty’s weekend has the most running races of any holiday?  I actually heard the same thing about Thanksgiving so I am not sure which is correct.

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I am so thankful we could hitch a ride with another friend and I did not have to deal with big city driving in Portland. My big city driving days like navigating through Chicago are over.  My friends were all doing the 15K while my oldest and I were doing the 5K.  Our race was about 1 1/2 hours after theirs.  My youngest was content to hang out in Starbucks and get breakfast.  There are Starbucks cafes pretty much everywhere in Portland.

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The weather thankfully cooperated.  It was not nearly as cold as last year, but with a slight misty rain off and on.  Our race started about 15 minutes late (which is a long 15 minutes when you’re waiting at the starting line).  All the races were delayed because of an Amtrak train.

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Since I’m so paranoid about missing races since I nearly missed the start to the Portland Marathon in 2006 due to getting lost (which is another story in itself), we did wait at the starting line a long time.  We could have stayed in Starbucks longer.  My oldest had a great attitude despite my needing to be at everything early.

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It was the third 5K I have run with my oldest and so far the best.  She ran really well and only took a few short walk breaks.  Her time was 40:11.  She sprinted at the very end.  It was the first 5K I have ever run where I had to wait a minute or so for a streetcar to pass, where I dropped my cell phone and camera simultaneously (which is why I took an old camera), and where I ran carrying two hats, a coat, and water bottle.  It was still was fantastic!

People ask me why I like to run so much (or declare how much they dislike running).  And I don’t have a good answer except that running is me.  It’s who I am and it’s what I do. It’s my work of art.  The fact I can share it with my kids brings even more meaning.  This is how Pre said it:

“Some people create with words or with music or with a brush and paints. I like to make something beautiful when I run. I like to make people stop and say, ‘I’ve never seen anyone run like that before.’ It’s more than just a race, it’s a style. It’s doing something better than anyone else. It’s being creative.”

My trip to the Midwest by myself

I’ve been home from Indiana and Chicago three weeks.  And I have not posted about my trip yet…so here I go…

I flew into Chicago and the next day we drove to our old hometown of Lafayette, Indiana.02-IMG_9198

This was the first time ever that my parents and siblings were together without our spouses and our kids. It made me realize how much I miss my brother and sister (and thankfully and hopefully have plans to see them again in 2014–don’t have to wait another year!).  We all drove in one car to Lafayette.  The joke was that Mom would bring her candy bag (a small Zip Loc bag with Brach’s candies she always took on trips) and we would fight in the backseat.  We had lunch at Triple X restaurant which was featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-In, and Dives.  It’s on the outskirts of the Purdue University Campus.

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We had the honor of eating lunch with some of my parent’s friends–one couple who was our next door neighbors.  I remember them as forty something parents juggling their three kids, carpooling to sport activities, and volunteering at our school.  Now that’s my phase of life!  My parents friends are all grandparents and it’s a little weird.

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But some things change, others stay the same.  My dad is still goofy and the life of the party.

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We visited our old church, Lafayette Christian Reformed Church.  I am somewhat in a state of awe when I am in the church sanctuary where I grew up.  The first row on the right hand side of the balcony was our family pew.  Almost every seat was filled right to the very back of the balcony.  The church has changed greatly since the 1980’s, but I will have always have a special place in my heart for it.  Sunday School, VBS, racing under the pews after evening service, pot lucks–all part of my childhood.

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The church put “a wall of pastors” in the basement.  This is the younger 1980’s version of my dad who served from March 1982 until August of 1989.

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The church I grew up in was an amazing beautiful building constructed in 1929.  I always remember the huge stain glass windows.

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I attended Lafayette Christian School from kindergarten until sixth grade.  I lived next door to the school so the playground was my prime hangouts before and after school and during the hot sticky summer months.

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It was a tremendous blessing to see Mrs. Buchman.  She was my first grade teacher for the last quarter of the year and my sixth grade teacher.  She is still teaching!  Obviously you have teachers that are memorable and that touch your life a little more than others.  She was one of them.  I always felt safe and cared for in her classroom.  She threw a surprise going away party for me right before I moved to Michigan and I’ll never forget how much that meant to me.

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This was our house.  The current pastors (husband and wife couple) live here.  We felt a little intrusive going in their house while they were on vacation.  They have fixed it up nice.

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I felt a little guilty taking this photo because it’s not my house, but this is my former bedroom.  It didn’t look anything like this.  I had greenish yellow walls, yellow curtains, and yellow shag carpeting left over from the 1970’s.  The closet door, however, was the exact same.

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For some reason when I think of our old house, I always remember this banister.  I think I used to sit on the stairs and stick my head through the posts.

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Then back to Chicago.  My uncle came and visited us.  We have a picture of us three kids approximately ages 3,7, and 11 wearing Chicago Cub baseball caps sitting with our uncle.  My dad tried to reinvent the photo to 2014.  The only problem is he doesn’t own Cubs hats–since when did my family all become White Sox fans?

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Our real reason for all meeting together was to celebrate my grandma turning 89.  I have fond memories of visiting Grandma in Chicago as a child.  I remember her serving large scoops of chocolate ice cream, playing Ker Plunk in the basement, riding the “horsie swings” at the park and listening to the trains come through on the tracks behind her house. When I was in college she had a heart attack and I really thought the Lord was going to take her home.  It’s hard to believe that was sixteen years ago.  It was a blessing to celebrate her birthday with her!

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While I was in the Midwest, Oregon got hit with a major snow blast–the most snow we have seen in years.  The whole city pretty much shut down.  At one point you could not leave your house unless you had chains on your tires.  My kids had two snow days in a row, church was cancelled, and my husband could not even order a pizza.  Meanwhile I had left the van parked in a car pool lot and this is what it looked like when I got back into Oregon.  I don’t own a snow brush so I had to put a plastic bag over my hand.  I was grateful the day after I came home was another “snow day” (although now we don’t get Good Friday off and go an extra day in June) so I could get some cleaning and organizing done before the child care kids return.

What a blessed trip!  I’m grateful I got to be a part of it.  I even got to go running (on treadmills) with my dad and sister.

December 15 and beyond

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I missed posting December 15 – 25.  Life got full, busy, and chaotic as it usually does.  Blogging got put on hold.  But paper ginger bread men were decorated.

 

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Reindeer were made with hand prints.

 

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And snowmen made with footprints.

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And beautiful Christmas designs made with marbles dipped in paint and swished around in a pie plate.

 

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The Christmas story was shared by the cutest preschoolers and kindergarten kids.

 

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And the 1st – 8th grade members did an amazing job sharing about the real meaning of Christmas.

 

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We purchased a “new to us” van two days before Christmas.  We’ve gone 9 years and 6 months as a one car family and grateful for all the money saved. A second vehicle is now going to make driving kids places just a bit easier.

 

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Chocolate fondue was shared on Christmas Eve.

 

 

 

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Christmas Day included stocking and presents.

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And later on a relaxing trip to the coast–one of our favorite places.

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And a day trip to the Tillamook Cheese factory for some cheese sampling.

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A great last two weeks even if it wore some us out.  Looking forward to New Years Eve and a second week of Christmas Break.