Monday, September 21, 2015

Family Pictures

We've taken a new family picture and I'm super excited to send it out for Christmas.  There was a good deal on big canvases right when we took it so I ordered it and it's sitting in the dining room waiting to go on the wall right now.  I came into the room the other day and noticed that something was off about the picture.  Apparently not everyone loves it like I do...

For a while there was a concern that someone was putting a hit on Rachel.

Once Mahon saw the fun that the kids were having with the picture he had to get in on it.

Sigh...I don't think I'll ever be able to look at the picture the same!  ;)

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Sister Adventures

At our favorite place, the Best Western in Park City.
We've tried other paces but always come back here.
Side note, the Park City Walmart is also a regular stop.
Laila just sent me a couple of paragraphs from a biography she's reading about Harper Lee called "Mockingbird Next Door."  This part touched her heart and does mine too, especially since I just got back a few days ago from our annual sister's night.  (Which was supposed to be in Portland this year but had a quick change to Utah when Val's Kate announced a wedding reception there the same weekend.)  I feel like compared to many people we got the short end of the stick having to live so much of our lives without our mom.  At the same time, though, we were definetely blessed in the sisters department!
"That year also marked the beginning of a tradition, one that yielded an abundance of adventures, misadventures and always stories.  For the decade after their father died, the three Lee sisters took annual trips, seeing much of the country by car, train and even riverboat.  At this time in their lives the difference in their ages mattered less... So, Alice, Louise and Nell would talk and plan, correspond and anticipate and them meet up in the designated city.  They would look around if any museums or restaurants drew their interest, but then they would take to the open road or board a train.  One vacation would end and they would begin thinking about where to go next....
    As different as the three sisters were they all had their aunt Alice's sense of adventure.  They could squabble with the best of them, but their pleasure in one another's company, the way the made their own fun, was obvious.  On one such trip in 1965 the three sisters met up in Ohio to take a river boat down the Mississippi to New Orleans.  They boarded the Delta Queen on Saturday for the eight day trip to New Orleans.  That last day, as they waited for their luggage before getting off, the three women did what they had been doing all along.  The reclined in chairs on the deck, soaking in some sun, laughing, talking, finishing one another's stories.  A passenger they had not met approached the sisters. 
    She said "Do you mind if I speak to you?"  and we said "Certainly not."  She said, "I've been watching you all week.  You have never mixed with anybody.  You haven't participated in any of the entertainment, as most of the passengers have done.  And yet you seem like you've had the best time as anybody!"  And we just said "We are three sisters, and we live in different parts of the country, and when we get together this is what happens!"
That is certainly true of us--we have the best time, even if we're just sitting by the wall on a cruise ship!  I think I liked this excerpt best though because it reminded me that the best is yet to come--we have years ahead of us of having great times together, years to sit in the hot tub, get pedicures, spend too much time at Walmart, eat delicious food, talk for hours in the hotel room, and laugh like we do few other places.  Once again I have to say thank you to our mom, she really gave us the best gift possible.
We were laughing in this picture that it took us until
3pm to get dressed and out of the hotel room!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Welcome to the Pacific Northwet

It was during the summer that I first saw them.  Shiny marks on the floor, both the wood floor and the carpet.  Marks that almost looked like someone had swiped a narrow trail of glue that had dried; but of course that was not it.

Later I saw them again, behind the couch, near the trash can, in front of the sink.  This time I tried touching the place on the carpet to see if I could feel anything but whatever was there disappeared as if glittery gossamer.

I sprinkled around a bit of salt before we left town, hoping that this would stop my mysterious invader, but when Cindy Lynn came by she saw it was not enough.  She spread the contents of a box around the floor and we hoped it would ward off the slimy evil.  I left the salt on the floor for several weeks before I finally vacuumed it up, certain that enough time had passed.  

The first week went by and then the second and the floor remained clean.  And then it happened again.  Tracks by the trash can and tracks by the sink.  Once again I spread salt along the walls, hoping to see something dead and dreading seeing something dead at the same time.

And then last night I saw it.  There was no clue where it came from, but I can tell you it went to a watery grave.  Dare I hope this was the only one???

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Beach memories

Every year we come away from the beach with hearts and minds full of memories.  Some memories repeat themselves year after year.

Crossing the bridge to the island.

Our first glimpse of Big Bertha.

Crazy amounts of shopping and multiple trips to Food Lion.  A menu of our favorite foods.

Car treats.  Sand in my ears.  (Why does this surprise me every year??)

This year we played in the kayaks again,

the girls made sand sculptures,

and we celebrated the triplet's 15th birthday and Josh's 20th.

This year we filled the hot tub to capacity, and then some.

As always we watched the ocean and listened to the waves and rejoiced that we were able to be there again.


Then there are the memories that are specific to particular years.  The year of the dragonflies.  The year of the tidepools.  The year we weren't at Big Bertha and the year of mother styles.

One of the strongest memories of this year I'm sure will be the number of shark attacks in North Carolina at the beginning of the summer.  I think we were all at least a little freaked out about it.  Thankfully there wasn't another bite in the month before we went.

My other strongest memory will always be the massive sunburn I got from going out to swim in the rain.  The clouds were so heavy that I was sure I didn't need sunscreen...unfortunately when the clouds started clearing I ignored that niggling little thought and didn't go get sunscreen.  I was burned so badly that my forehead was swollen.  I regretted that decision for the rest of the week!

This year will always be remembered as the year that Russ tore a muscle goofing around in the Portland airport as we began our trip.  He couldn't even get in the water for the first few days.  This year will be remembered as the answer for every game was some variation on nipple hair, with the occasional exploding whale.  This year was the first year that all of the kids entered wholeheartedly into playing games.

This year was the year we did jigsaw puzzles to prevent Alzheimers.

This year we had crazy storms, and I loved it because we just don't get storms like that here in Oregon.  On Friday I woke up from my nap and looked outside and it was raining.  Then I noticed that Russ was down on the beach under the canopy reading.  Within a minute or two the rain intensified and it was POURING.  When I looked at the canopy I saw that Russ was moving from the middle to the side because the wind was blowing rain underneath.  He ended up having to take the canopy down because of the wind and rain.

Every year we try to plan to do family pictures on the day with the best weather possible.  This year was a total fail--the night we took them was incredibly windy.  And then Friday evening after the rainstorm was perfect!

This year Jared was acrobatic at the beach.  Since he wasn't willing to listen to my worries and not try to do flips, I figured I might as well take pictures.
This year we took a drive by our favorite little neighborhood on our way home from church,

and this year the air conditioning repairman had a great sense of humor!

Every year--such wonderful memories!!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


I've written before that I organize my life with post it notes, and I frequently write myself a note and leave it somewhere that I will see it and be reminded.  When we moved into this house there were a bunch of things we needed and other things that I wanted. I was trying to restrain myself and not spend any more money than I absolutely had to, so I made a list of things I still wanted to buy and put it up on an out of sight cabinet in the kitchen.  As I bought things I crossed them off of the list, but the note was still there a year and a half later when Jason got home from his mission.  (What can I say?  There were still things I was going to buy!)

One day after he'd been home for a while I happened to glance at my list while getting plates and noticed that there had been a small addition.

It made me laugh so hard!  Then I couldn't take the note down, because it made/makes me happy every time I look at it.

Then after Mahon and Cindy Lynn visited in February I noticed yet another addition.

I couldn't take that down either, could I??

Last note. I've been planning for a couple of months to go on a whale watching trip right before the kids went back to school but I kept forgetting to make the reservations.  So one night I wrote the word "whales" on a post it and put it on the bathroom mirror.  When I woke up the next morning this is what I saw.

Sometimes the small things sure bring big happiness!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Showing my love through cookie dough

Long ago (when I was a younger mom and still sure I knew almost everything) someone told me that they showed love for their child by buying them things.

I was appalled.  I'd known immediately when I first heard of the book "The Five Love Languages" that whatever my love language was, it wasn't gifts.  In my (young) wisdom I knew that there were better and healthier ways to show love than to buy things.


Years have passed since that time.  I can still remember an intermediate moment when I had the realization "I am buying my child's love with this purchase here and now."  And I still did it.  Because right then I wanted to show love and that seemed like a good way in that moment.

I've shown love to my kids many different ways since then.  I've given rides and massages and back scratches, I've had late night talks and long phone calls.  I've played board games and card games and done things I didn't want to do when I was too tired to do them.  All of it because I love these kids like crazy and want them to know it.

I was laughing this morning as I wondered how many batches of cookie dough I've made in the weeks that Josh has been home.  Three of them I can't blame on him--they were for the day I took snacks for 90 kids to band camp.  I could have gone to the store and bought something, of course, but once again I was showing my love for my 3 band kids by bringing the good stuff, real homemade chocolate chip cookies. 

Usually Josh wants regular cookies, but a few days ago I made chocolate chocolate cookies with both chocolate and mint chips.  I baked some cookies and put the rest of the dough in the fridge where Josh found it and declared it the best cookie dough ever.  Yesterday I made more, once again baking just one batch and putting the rest in the fridge. 

This morning I noticed that while no more cookies have been baked, the cookie dough is almost gone.  Guess it's time to make another batch.  Josh leaves for Rexburg in a couple of days and I have to show my love by making cookie dough while I can.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Life lessons learned at the beach: Walking in the Water

While we were at the beach this year the surf was rough.  Last year we had some days that were overly calm, but this year we had some days where the faint of heart (or the injured of leg) stayed in the shallows or on the sand.  The rougher waves also meant that the water was always brown and churned up, never clear.

Due the the rough surf and some other weather conditions we knew that there was a higher chance than normal of rip currents.  The first evening we experienced strong currents about 6 houses down from Big Bertha, and so we resolved to always get out before we had drifted down that far.  Some days the eastward pull wasn't that strong and we could play in the waves for a long time before we had to reposition ourselves.  But other days there was a strong pull to the east and in what seemed like no time at all we'd need to ride a wave in and walk back up the beach to the 3rd or 4th house past Big Bertha.

Sometimes I'd go all the way out of the water and walk, but sometimes I'd start walking up the beach while I was still in the shallow water.  Invariably I felt a little off balance when I walked in the water--not only is the sand not level there in the shallows, the level changes are frequent and significant.  One step goes down a foot and then the next only six inches.  Or you might take 3 steps in a deeper area and then be up almost a foot higher.

One day as I was lurching through the shallow water on my way back to the place that was the designated "go back into the waves" place I had the thought that this shallow area was a lot like life.  So many times I'm going along in life and all looks smooth ahead, and then wham, I hit a pothole that isn't visible and am in it up to my knees.  So many times things look even on the surface but underneath they're completely and rapidly uneven and I lurch back and forth.  Sometimes in life I get in a hurry and don't walk all of the way out of one situation (the water) before I start moving forward again, even though is so much more work that way. This summer I reminded myself over and over again that this part of the ocean floor is just that way, and I think I need to remember that sometimes life is just that way too...