Friday, April 30, 2010

You Have A Special Place In My Heart...

Don't you just love it when you learn something new about a friend? 

This is a friend I adore.  I cherish any time I get with her, I respect her, I look up to her, she makes me laugh, she encourages me, she laughs at me, she tells me when I'm wrong.  I think she would probably not think twice about bringing harm to anyone who brought harm to me, and I'm pretty sure she knows I would seriously injure anybody who slightly injured her.  You are a very blessed person if you can call her your friend.  She is my friend, and I am blessed by it.

And just when you think you really know someone well, some juicy little tid-bit comes bubbling to the surface and makes you say, "WHAT???!!!"  Today I had that happen, and it makes me grin every time it comes to my mind.  If I didn't already love her enough, I now love her even more.  She has wiggled her way into a deeper pocket of my heart.

Today I learned that she starts everyday with a half a cup of chocolate milk.  It's what she uses to wash down her vitamins. 

And knowing this has officially cemented her as one of my favorite people.  And given me new gift-giving ideas.  And brought me utter irrational joy this afternoon.

You know who you are, and I love you very much.  Cheers to you, friend!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Random Running, Climbing, and Stickiness

Random, random ramblings...

I'm sitting here when I should be doing so much else.  I have 3 loads of laundry to fold.  I could get a jump-start on dinner, I need to do so much, but have chosen instead to take these few moments and just sit.  I am waiting on a load of clothes, containing some necessary articles of clothing, to dry so I can go for a run.  I have about 15 minutes before kids start trickling in from school.  So a few moments of quiet feels so good.

I am migraine-free today for the first time since Saturday night.  Ahhhh....feels so good.  I don't struggle much with those pesky headaches anymore, but for whatever reason I had one that decided to come for a visit and stay awhile.  I worked in a very noisy pre-school classroom yesterday, which was a very uncomfortable partner for my throbbing head.  It finally gave up and went away about 6:00 yesterday evening, so I quickly hopped on the treadmill and went for a run.  I took it a bit easy, not wanting to shake up anything that might be lingering, but it felt so good.  I was only going to run 2 miles, but 2 felt so good I ran for 3.  Then waked for another mile and a half.  Today I'm back up to my full 4-mile run. 

And I am so glad I got that in before I watched The Biggest Loser last night.  I cannot watch that show without crying, and I had to work hard last night to not get too carried away.  Oh, my.  Those people that walked a woman's line made me chuckle:  she said, with sincere emotion, "I cannot even walk through Wal-Mart, I have to ride in a cart, and now I just walked 3.1 miles!"  It took her over 2 hours to walk that, but she finished.  Very inspiring...and then that sweet O'Neal, he's something else.  I love him like I love Jet and Cord on The Amazing Race.

Beth recently won a speed climbing competition at school!  She was the fastest 3rd grade girl to climb across the horizontal climbing wall.  This picture was almost 3 years ago, climbing a bit higher than I was comfortable with and loving every minute of it.

My kitchen survived an assault by my oldest, who made "Buche de Noel" for a French project.  He made one last week as a practice, and 2 this week for his actual presentation.  At one point Monday evening, he had to invert the pan onto a powdered sugar-lined towel.  He let the cake plop out from quite a height, causing a cloud of powdered sugar to fall upon my entire kitchen.  There was quite the white haze in the air, and a fine powder coating all the counters.  And stove.  And floor.  He tried to take a damp paper towel and wipe up some of the floor, which then turned the floor into a very sticky mess.  We did a "good enough" clean up, knowing more mess was coming.  After he finished the whole fill-n-frost portion last night, he cleaned up...then I went in and cleaned up his clean up.  I scrubbed counters and mopped the floor and I'm happy to say our feet are no longer sticking to the floor.  And the cakes were a huge success.  I think we may have a new Christmas Eve cake tradition...and maybe that tradition can include being prepared by the French-inspired chef himself.

I went to Costco today to pick up my $5 prescription refill, and left 45 minutes later having spent just under $100.  (On food, not my prescription.)  How does that happen?? 

And, I'm creeping upon a giveaway!  Can you guess why?

Ah...the dryer just finished it's job.  Now it's time to be done with the non-productive ramblings and get myself on the treadmill!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

My Favorite State Soloist!

Yesterday was finally the State Solo competition for Alex! He did a great job...played with confidence and he was very poised. As we were walking to the room after he changed, he was saying, "I'm-so-surprised-I'm-not-nervous-I-expected-to-be-much-more-nervous-than-I-am-and-I'm-really-not-but-I'm-wondering-if-I-should-be-and-I'm-a-little-nervous-that-I'm-not-nervous...." This all came out without one breath between words. We assured him he was nervous.

It was such a nice day to be with just Alex. Knowing it would be a day full of sitting still and listening to bassoons and more sitting - quietly - and listening to more bassoons, we decided it would be better if the girls didn't come. It's always so nice to have one-on-one time with any of them, and this day was no different.

Before we hit the road for Ellensburg, we made a quick stop for "breakfast". Nothing like a little caffeine to calm the nerves!

We left town in the rain, went over the pass in the falling snow, and arrived in Ellensburg to sunny skies and wind.  Oh, the wind.  I could never get along with that kind of wind.  On the upside, all Alex had to do was step outside and open his mouth and the wind blew in and oxygenated his tense lungs.

We listened to a few oboe performances so Alex could get a sense of how his 10 minutes would flow, then he changed and went to warm up.  His bassoon teacher made the trip over to hear him play, so Alex was able to go through some warm-ups with him.

There was only one bassoon before Alex, and listening to that solo gave Alex full assurance that he deserved to be there.  We knew with the first note of this other kid that Alex would not be 22nd out of 22.  Bless his heart.  And how did he get there? 

Then it was Alex's turn, and this young man held his own just great.  I think I say this a lot, but I really am so proud of him.  He played great.  Not perfect, but great.  And to go there as a rookie and control your nerves in that environment is a great growing experience!

Here's the video of the performance.  This video took a sweet forever to load, so please just click on it and listen to a note or two.

Such relief when it was over.  This was the culmination of some very disciplined, hard work.  We stayed and listened to a few more, and in my totally level-headed opinion, Alex really did great.  Some of the people there left us scratching our heads at how they qualified to be there.  I guess bassoon judging at the regional level is subject to great interpretation.

We finally saw the much-anticipated scores, and Alex got a "2" from all three judges, with a "1" being the highest possible score.  A "2" is defined as "Excellent: An outstanding performance lacking only minimal artistic and technical characteristics.  This would certainly be a "1" at the regional contest level."  Agreed!  The individual comments were very encouraging, very complimentary...and critical of the flat notes, which Alex completely agreed with.  He was still disappointed that it wasn't a 1, mostly because that is the only score he's ever received.

THEN, we heard what a performance deserving a "1" at the state level sounds like.  We heard a kid play the bassoon in a way we didn't even know a bassoon could be played.  It was so phenomenal, and I wish we had recorded it.  We were blown away.  He's only a junior, and took 1st in the state last year.  I'm sure he did again this year, although we didn't stay for the results.  But Alex learned some things by watching, things he will tweak for when he performs a solo next time. 

And here's a sweet picture of Alex listening to a message from Brenna.  She had called to tell him she was proud of him and glad everything went well.  I think this picture shows the love.

So, Alex, on behalf of the WMEA, the WIAA, The Dairy Farmers of Washington, Les Shwab Tires, AND YOUR PROUD PARENTS, I'd like to present you with this blog post in recognition of your participation in this year's State Solo Competition.  Congratulations. 

And on a serious note...congratulations, sweetheart.  We are proud of you!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A New Little Buck-A-Roo!!

Happy Birthday, Kaden James!

grainy cell phone picture, but you get the idea:  he's gorgeous!
I think he looks like he's saying, "What the heck just happened??"

This little man's arrival last night was like a warm, fuzzy hug to my heart.  I needed that hug.

I spent the afternoon watching a family say a gut-wrenching goodbye that came way too soon in a young man's life.  The pain on a wife's and little girl's face is burned into my heart.  It was a tough afternoon.  So to end my day with this picture of pure, complete sweetness just blessed my heart. 

A lot of people have been impatiently tapping their foot waiting on this baby's arrival!  So thanks for showing up, Kade!  And thank you, Kourtney, for all your hard work bringing such joy to so many people.  Wish I was there to kiss those sweet cheeks!

You are a beautiful lady, Kourt...inside and out.  Kade is one blessed little boy to have you in his life! 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Stubborn Roots

Today was the day to put an end to a couple stubborn roots for Brenna!  Tooth roots, that is.  These poor molars were just not gonna budge on their own.  One root: completely gone.  The other root: as firmly "rooted" as it could be.  Same thing, both sides.  So today she had her very first experience with nitrous oxide and shots in her mouth!  She wanted me to come back with her, which I happily did, but she did great.  Once they started the strawberry-scented "happy air", she just laid there with a silly grin on her face.  They finished the shot on one side, telling her just one more, to which she replied, "It's out already??"  No, honey.  Just getting started.

First tooth was very cooperative.  Second tooth, not so much.  That stubborn root remained stubborn and broke off, which made for a bit more "rooting" around.  She was a trooper, though.  Handled it like the tender/tough girl she is.

She had intended to go back to school, but with some extra bleeding going on and a bit of an upset tummy, she decided to just come home for the day.

such puffy, numbed-up sweet cheeks!

It was a peaceful afternoon to hang out with just my Brenna.  I don't get that nearly enough.  And what makes things just so much better??

A frosty, of course!

a couple hours later, beginning to feel so much better. notice the chocolate dribbles down her shirt.  a hazard of numbness!

the objects which enabled her to have a frosty on a Monday afternoon!

So, I guess that makes up my Monday Menu for today:  go enjoy a frosty on this beautiful day!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

He Tri'd It!

My man tri'd it in his first sprint triathlon!  I am so proud of him ~ he worked so hard to get ready for this.

He had no qualms about the swim portion.  It was just a short 1/4 mile swim for this, but in a very cold lake.  He started towards the front and was shocked at the cut-throat approach some of these dudes had.  Someone actually grabbed his shoulder and pulled him back at the start.  So he just did what he does and plowed his way through, 4th man coming out of the water!

hard to see him, but he's in the bright blue cap, bare shoulders

The bike leg was tough ~ 13 miles on a bike that's meant for more leisurely strolls.  He lost quite a bit of time on that, was passed by lots of tough bike jocks, taking 43 minutes for that leg.

leaving on the bike leg

meanwhile, the girls and I soaked up the sun, had lunch and read!

and Brenna made a sign to cheer on her daddy

coming back on the bike.  okay, truth be told, I took pictures of the wrong man.  he was dressed just like Brad, so we cheered for him and I took a bunch of pictures, and when he passed by us, we realized it wasn't Brad.  then the real Brad zoomed by us before I could get my camera on, so this will have to do.

The run he was so curious about, not knowing what his legs would feel like getting off a bike.  But he ran the 3 miles in a very respectable 27 minutes!  I had to flag him down and grab his bike helmet from him that he forgot to take off, so I was a tri-supporter:  cheering, photographing, and wardrobe consulting.

leaving on the run!

on the way back in!

final stretch!  and I missed him coming across the finish line.  good thing he can't fire me as his photographer!

home and relaxing...I love his race number!

He's thinking of tri-ing a few more times, and even considering a more suitable bike.  I will happily cheer him on as many times as he does this, hoping that the weather is a glorious as it was today so I can sit in the grass and read my book between photographing this man I love so much.

Great job, Brad!!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Baseball ~ In the Most Delightful Way

The Spring began with me feeling a little bit of sadness that after eleven years, this would be our first Spring with no baseball.  After countless hours spent at itty-bitty t-ball through the little league games of young men, Alex is done playing baseball.  There are parts of it I was glad to be done with, but of course I was going to miss parts of it too.

Then came the decision from Beth that she would play baseball on a co-ed Y team with her friend, Maddy.  We have only had two practices, one in down pouring rain, and these two are the only girls on the team.  They stick together.  And the team name?  The Mariners!  (Which you know thrills me to no end...and it makes the cheering so much more simplistic for my brain.  If in doubt, yell out "Go, M's!" and you are saying the right thing.)  Maddy tried hard to get the team name to be the Pugs, after her beloved dog, but alas the Mariners won out.

So today was the first game of the season.  It did not disappoint.  It was everything a co-ed Y baseball game should be!  Lots and lots of cheering from both sides, regardless of which team did something cheer-worthy:  like run to the right base or run off the field with great enthusiasm.  Everyone hits each inning, so there were opportunities aplenty for running the bases, which seems to be what baseball is all about to these kids. 

Maddy was a hitting machine, swinging at the first pitch and sending the ball blazing into the infield.  Apparently "keeping your eyes on the ball" is overrated.  Beth followed Maddy, of course...these girls have to stick together.

The hitting was equally impressive from Beth.  But her forte proved to be speeding around those bases, ponytail flapping in the breeze behind her.  Never mind the fact that Maddy was already on a base that Beth was speeding to.  No problem.  Maddy just politely moved to third base.  And when Beth showed up there a few seconds later?  Maddy just sprinted for home, Beth again right on her heels.  They crossed home plate seconds apart, to the sound of as much laughter as applause.  Yep, these two sweet friends stick together.  When I asked Beth after the game why she kept running, she said, "Well, I noticed they just kept throwing the ball around to different places, so I kept running where they weren't throwing the ball."  There's some great baseball philosophy for you.  Brad happened to be video taping that whole scene, so it is now preserved forever.

Another highlight of the game was watching Maddy do a stellar job of playing catcher.  She rocked that spot...especially when she found her groove: propped against the backstop.

Another highlight of the game?  The much-loved base race.  The kids never tire of the base race!

And perhaps the biggest highlight of the game?  SNACK TIME!! 

Welcome back, baseball.  Just when I thought I was going to miss you, you burst back into my life in the most delightful way.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Lucky Ducky & A Good Life

Yesterday brought a few moments of totally unexpected, simple, ordinary joy that I really needed.  I went through much of the day with a heavy heart.  And then in walked my Joy.  As in Elizabeth Joy.  As in Beth.  She came bursting into the house (really, the only way she ever enters the house), saying, "Mommy!!!  Come here quick!  You've got to see this!!!"  Her backpack thudded to the ground and she was right back out the door.  I followed her outside, to find this:

These 2 little ducks, waddling around in our grass!  How cute are they?!  She said that when she was walking in from the bus, there were "two boys fighting over this one girl...see the feathers here?  That's where they were fighting.  This one that's left is the one that won."

So I went in and grabbed the camera, and she went in and grabbed a piece of bread.  They had no idea what she was doing flinging little white things at them.  Maybe they prefer whole grain.  Or maybe these are just true country ducks and have never had the joy of an easy meal.  Once they figured out what it was, the "boy duck" started gobbling it down.   He had just won a battle in the name of love, after all, and needed to refuel.

Just when he had the whole free meal thing figured out, along came this:

And frightened those duckies away.  They flew off with a loud honk, leaving Edgar to slink about, sniffing in vain.

Then, later in the evening, while Brad and the girls were playing some baseball, they found a little bird's nest.  It was built into a branch laying on the ground, with two little perfect eggs in it.  I need to add a picture of that later. 

Love the signs of LIFE all around me.  Life is good.  Even when circumstances are hard, life is still good.  God is still good.  Life is truly a gift...and it was a gift today to see the life in these little creatures and the joy it brought my little girl.  That is a good life.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday Menu ~ BBQ Chicken Spaghetti

I know, I know...the title of this recipe makes you want to run in a zig-zag line while ducking and covering your head, huh?  But, let me just say that this is a scrump-dilly-icious dinner!  I think it's worth standing still and taking it straight in the choppers.

I saw this recipe on another blog last week and have been wondering about it ever since.  Tonight was the night to eat it, and it was so good that I'm already wondering if Brad might forget the left-overs for his lunch tomorrow, leaving them for me.  If you like a BBQ Chicken pizza, you will love this pasta.  Make sure and bake up some cheesy-garlic bread to go with it.  I'm envisioning a big green salad with this, but for tonight we just called the cilantro and onions our vegetable and dove in.  Hope you can do the same soon!

a cute polka dot Spring plate is optional, but recommended

BBQ Chicken Spaghetti

1 lb. thin spaghetti
4 TBSP olive oil
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 TBSP Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix (the powder)
3/4 cup chopped cilantro
a bunch of shredded BBQ chicken

(I just bought a Costco rotisserie chicken, pulled all the meat off, and tossed it with my Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce.  You can do the same thing with all chicken breasts, or whatever you want.)

Cook pasta according to package.  While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a medium saucepan.  Add chopped onion and garlic, cook for several minutes until soft and slightly caramelizing.

When pasta is done, drain well and return to pot.  Add cooked onions, garlic, scraping the saucepan to make sure you add any olive oil remaining.  Stir well.  Add ranch dressing mix and toss well.  Add in cilantro.

Put a good-sized pile of pasta on a plate and add a big scoop of heated BBQ chicken.  Get yourself a big hunk of cheesy garlic bread and dig in!!  Make sure you have your beverage ready to go, because you won't want to be interrupted for anything, like thirst, while you are enjoying this.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Lovin' Where You're At

I have some thoughts rattling around in my head, and just wanted to get them out. 

We are in the midst of a fabulous Spring break.  It's been such a relaxing week so far.  Time with friends, time with each other...time feels to have sloooowed down this week, and that's just what I was needing.

Alex has been spending the week with a group from his high school youth group.  They are working around our own town, serving the homeless.  They've painted rooms at the Union Gospel Mission and worked at the Salvation Army and the local food bank.  He had lunch yesterday with a couple homeless men, heard some stories of lives changed and changing.  His eyes are opening to some great things.  His mind is expanding in some wonderful ways.  He's growing up.

And the girls have been soaking up some friend time and time with each other.  We've been shopping, swimming, movie-watching, hospital-visiting, and just hanging out together without having to do "something".  I love it.  We all are feeling refreshed.

Everywhere we've gone, I've heard grumbling about our weather.  And it's getting on my nerves.  Our joy, our contentment, our fun, does not have to depend on the sky outside!  There's plenty of fun to be had, even in the rain!  And, you know, that's true both physically and in our life's circumstances.  If we only allow ourselves joy, contentment and fun when everything is "sunny" in our lives, we are going to miss out on so much.  And be so shallow.

A couple years ago, I heard a gal say, speaking of her young children, "I feel so bad for them.  They stand at the door and cry because they want to go outside and play, but it's raining.  They are driving me crazy and I need the sun so they can go outside!!"  I couldn't resist suggesting to her that she put a coat on them and send them out in the rain!  How can you learn to jump in mud puddles without the rain?  How can you learn to build mud creations if you are not out in the mud?  Kids and their clothes come clean with a little washing.  And you don't get a cold from playing in the rain.  You get a cold from a virus.  Right?  Same with us.  Learn to love where you are at.  Even if it's in the rain...or in this case, in the hail!!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Very Special Happy Birthday

Today is the special birthday of one of our kids.  Even though she is 9 years old today, this is the first birthday we've helped her celebrate.  Even though she's been ours for almost a year, we've never met her in person.  I consider her my daughter in my heart and in my prayers, but I've never had the privilege to hug her.  Even though I buy her little gifts when I see something that she might like, I've never been able to see her face as she receives them.

isn't she pretty?  she reminds me of someone I know well...

I get to read her sweet little letters, written through a translator.  And she sends pictures that she draws...she loves art.  And she loves dolls.  She goes to school, and to church activities and programs like our VBS, provided through Compassion.  In every letter she writes, she tells us that she's praying for us!  Sweetness.

I think about her so much, but on this day she will be on my mind continually.  I expect, in my home, that birthdays are days when you just feel the love.  At the end of the day, when you lay your head on your pillow, you know without a doubt that you are loved in this house.  And on this day, in India, I hope this sweet girl lays her head down knowing she is loved.  And I hope she knows that her life has promise and potential.  She has a "real" mom and dad in India.  And I'm praying for them today, too. 

So even though she will never read this, I still wanted to send out a very special Happy Birthday to the very special Niveditha!!!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Recap and An Altered Monday Menu

I cannot get into all the Easter goodness without first saying:


Oh, I love this day.  Here is one thing that is a must:  on the regular season opening day, we always have hot dogs for dinner.  We just gotta have hot dogs to celebrate those guys being back on the field, Dave being back in the broadcast booth, that beautiful intro music that I so miss in the off's a good day!  And, they finally have a season opener in the many times it's an afternoon game, and I'm without my fellow groupies when the game begins.  Not tonight.  We'll be chompin' on hot dogs and cheering on the M's together.  All is right in the world tonight!

So there is my altered Monday Menu:  eat a hotdog tonight.  Solidarity.

And the Easter weekend was a great time.  (I have not eaten one complete Reese's Egg.  Just a couple bites while I was making those pathetic cookies.)

Saturday night we had a blast at a 70's Skate Party with Brad's office.  They used it as a fundraiser for the upcoming Relay for Life cancer walk.  So we had the rink all to ourselves, filled with the beat of 70's music.  Unfortunately, I did not bring my camera, so I missed getting shots of Brad in his tie-dyed shirt and sunglasses, doing the Hokey-Pokey.  Alex was hysterical on skates.  He kept shooting his arms out in what became known as a "personal space alert" every time he came around a corner...a picture I so wish I had captured on my camera, but is forever burned into my mind. 

On Sunday, Alex played with the Grace worship band, so we had the treat of being able to see our kid do his thing in a way he craves to do it.  It did make for a longer day for him, but he loved it.  We then had the pleasure of sharing a big 'ole Easter lunch with the dear Shipleys.  It was so nice, as always, to be with them.

The weekend was full of all the traditional fun:  coloring eggs, hunting eggs, eating candy, beautiful church service, and thankful, humble hearts...  


note that the girls are still opening while the boy gets straight to the eating!

I have nothing to say about this...

This was my Easter treat!

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Good Friday

Here is a great way to spend about 3 minutes reflecting on why today is such a GOOD Friday!  And Sunday's coming...

Happy Easter weekend!!