Monday, August 30, 2010

Run, Swim, Cheer... SWEET!

Goodness gracious, what a weekend!  I am stumped for any fun way to present this, so I'll stick with just the facts.

Alex has joined his high school cross country team.  He never has been a runner, but decided to try it.  He's now starting his fourth week of running, and doing very well.  Better than I thought he would, better than he thought he would.  This weekend was the annual "Hood to Coast" running relay, a 197-ish relay that goes 'round the clock.  A team of 12 runs, through the night even, 36 legs from Mt. Hood to Seaside, Oregon.  They have a high school cross country category which goes "only" from Portland to Seaside for a grand total of 127 miles in 24 legs.  Alex had a 5-mile leg at about 1:30 in the morning.  Along a highway.  With a reflective vest and headlamp.  By himself.  I had to keep all my thoughts captive or I would have been a wreck.  I told him to text me as soon as he was back in the van, but they had no cell service until just after 3:00 in the morning.  He "slept" for about an hour and a half on the ground in a sleeping bag next to speakers that were continually calling out the numbers of teams that were approaching the exchange, which would then be followed by either shrieks of women or grunts of men, depending on the team.

His next leg was the last of the relay, 5 miles ending in Seaside on the beach!  We couldn't not be there for that, so we got up and hit the road just after 5 a.m. Saturday to be there for the finish.  They were a bit later coming in than they estimated, so we were there with plenty of time to people watch and wait for the big announcement that "Team 3002 Olympia Slackers, your runner is on the promenade!" 

With that, the rest of the team loads into a cattle shoot-type lane and waits for the runner so they can cross the finish together.  Alex came lumbering in looking absolutely beat.  Then to have to run in fluffy sand to the finish line?  Ugh.  As he got closer to his team, a different team came up on his heels. 

realizing he'd been passed...

He later said that he had fought that whole 5 miles to stay ahead of this girl.  He was determined to not let her pass him.  When he got to his team, he slowed, thinking that was the finish.  When he did that, the girl passed him...and Alex took off. 

...and then overtaking her at the finish!

He sprinted the final distance to re-pass her and his team took 4th place (out of 45 finishing high school cross country teams) by one second! 

I don't know how we managed to overlook the fact that we took the picture in front of the banner that said "Portland to Coast Walk".  These kids did not walk!

It was a fabulous, team-building time, and quite an accomplishment.  And quite exhausting.  I don't know how those 2 van drivers did it...up all night driving from exchange point to exchange point and circling back to encourage runners and having 6 sweaty teenagers crammed into your vehicle throughout it all...God bless 'em.

Finally back home, I set out to make and decorate enough football-shaped cookies for my squad to hand out to each of the players on the three teams we cheer for.  Crazy to undertake that when I was so tired, but they turned out great.  I'm disappointed that I did not get any pictures.  One mom asked me if they were from Wagners!  Bless her. 

Sunday morning...Brad popped out of bed (okay, maybe crawled out) at 4:30 to head to Seattle for his annual swim across Lake Washington.  I hated to miss it, but knew I couldn't possibly be home in time for the football Jamboree.  So Alex went with him to be his rooting section and photographer.

this is proof that you have to be careful who your event photographer is...

"The sea was angry that day, my friends...Like an old man trying to return soup to the deli."  (Just a little Seinfeld quote that I will try desperately to tie-in to Brad's swim, because he loves this "Marine Biologist" episode so much.)

Yeah, he was in a lake and not a sea.  But it was a blustery, choppy, angry lake.  The waves were rocking and rolling.  Brad even got dizzy while he swam, trying to negotiate up and over the choppiness.  In fact, the swim lane is lined with boats and kayaks so the swimmers stay on course, and one kayaker flipped from the choppy water.  It was rough.  The swim, as a straight-shot, is 1.5 miles.  Brad is guessing he swam farther than that just going up and over so much, and it certainly was a swim that took a lot more effort.  He finished a bit slower than last year, understandably, but he made it!


still suh-weet!

My day was all cheer.  The big football Jamboree went on all day, and I am so proud of my squad!  They have worked so hard, and they are really coming together.  We had a fun time, and they were a delight.

16 of my 18 in all their cuteness!

And then it was Brenna's turn to take the track with her squad!  A whole lotta more cuteness there...

End of the day, I come home to my filthy house.  I had not cleaned the kitchen since making the cookies the night before.  I can't stand to go to bed with a dirty kitchen or cluttered house.  But exhaustion won that night, so I did.  As soon as I came in, I started cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.  I finally noticed that Brad and Alex were standing near by watching me, even though I thought they'd already left...they said they were waiting for me to notice something.  After finally having it pointed out, I noticed a beautiful, glorious, "I think the trumpet is sounding" sight: 

They went to Trophy Cupcakes while up in Seattle, and brought home dessert!!  My very favorite cupcakes, right there in my kitchen!  I do love that man.  It's the little things, you know.

What a perfect way to end a crazy-busy weekend!  Too bad they didn't get any for themselves. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Edge of A Cliff = The Sprouting of Grey Hairs

A couple weeks ago, Brad and Alex went on their annual father/son camping trip.  Much to Beth's disenchantment, no girls are allowed on this trip.  Boys only.  They always have a great 2 nights away together.  I've heard many stories about this trip, and have seen a few pictures.  The pictures they were eager to show me included the mountain goats they came upon, the chipmunks that would calmly take food right out of your hand, and the beautiful views they took in while climbing Mt. Ellinor.

The pictures that I didn't see right away were the shots that could easily cause an immediate surge in the growth of my grey hairs.  I thought I'd share a few of these bonding moments these boys experienced:

Oh.  My.  And then on the way home they stopped and played in the middle of the freeway.  I'm kidding, of course.  I think.  Anything is possible with these two.

I think I should end with a picture of something much calmer.  For my sake, because my insides are not calm right now. 

that's good

that's better

that's the best

Monday, August 23, 2010

Monday Menu ~ Breakfast Wraps

Here's a yummy meal to throw together.  Works great for an on-the-go breakfast...or dinner.  Or just a dinner at home when you feel like having breakfast for dinner.  Or a breakfast at home when you feel like having breakfast for breakfast!

here she is in the assembling stage, another unflattering picture, another yummy taste

Breakfast Wraps

*burrito-sized tortillas (I like the Smart & Delicious Tortillas: 12 grams of fiber (!) per tortilla!)
*scrambled eggs (about 8 eggs for 4 servings, put a little cream cheese in the eggs as they are cooking.  extra yum.)
*sausage (either ground sausage, cooked and drained, or sausage links, cooked and cut into rounds.  I use the turkey sausage links to save a little fat. gotta save the fat for the good real butter in my chocolate chips cookies.)
*grated cheese (cheddar, Colby-jack, jack, or whatever you like)
*diced onions (I have nothing to say in the parenthesis, just a need to be consistent and have them.)
*tator tots (cooked according to package directions.  cook 'em till they're crispy.)
*anything else you like:  diced tomatoes, avocados, jalapenos, hot sauce...

~heat burritos in microwave until warmed through.  on each tortilla, spread a line of scrambled eggs down the middle.  Top with some grated cheese, sausage, onions, and tator tots.  Wrap up tightly.  Garnish with any of your extras, or stuff those inside with the rest of the stuff.

~If you are taking these to go, lay them on a foil sheet square and wrap tightly.

~If you are going to the trouble pleasure of making these, make a few extra and wrap in foil.  That way when your ravenous child is looking for his 6th meal of the day, you can heat this up and give him something truly filling.  Something that will last more than 20 minutes before he opens the refrigerator and stares at the food.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Thinking About the Lord...

I woke up with this song stuck in my head this there much better to have stuck in your head?  I'm thinking of a couple of you specifically who have had heavy, heavy needs lately.  A little thank you in advance to the One who is answering!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Doing It Again

Thoughts, thoughts, thoughts.  My head is so full of them.

I have been slowly burning out these last couple weeks.  Just getting a bit worn out from "doing it again".  Shuttling kids, hosting kids, coaching kids, cooking for kids, shopping for kids (well, things for kids, not buying kids), staying up late for kids, waking up early because of kids, and another day starts and I'm doing it again.  And the thing is, I love all the things I'm doing.  I love being a mom.  I love my kids' friends.  I love cooking.  But the monotony of "doing it again" was wearing me thin.  I wish that were literally true...let's be clear:  it was wearing my energy thin.  My waist size remains painfully the same.

Then Brad and I entered the discussion of what we were going to do for our anniversary.  And, oh, how I would love to get away with him and just be a couple.  But we looked at another child heading into braces, back-to-school expenses, life, and realized we would have to do something very simple.  That's fine.  But then we looked at the calendar, and began to realize that time is working against us.  The most precious products of our marriage are the very thing that is standing in the way of us going away and celebrating a lot of years of marriage.  And I love their busyness.  I love their full lives and the joy they have in it.  Our weekends are filled to the brim until November.  So we'll probably take a late get-away, and that's okay.  But between the time of talking about it and me being okay with it, I found my mind wandering to all the things I wish we could do.  I day dreamed about being on a quiet beach far, far away.  About sleeping until I felt rested.  About eating food that other people prepared.  About not doing laundry.  About not cleaning the kitchen 43 times a day.  And the more I day-dreamed, the more disgruntled I became about the busyness of this season.  I just let my attitude wear me out even more than my physical schedule.  And then Brad's work schedule kicked into ultra-craziness.  With the one act of a server going out, his week turned into demanding more of him than one person should give.  He worked a 26-hour day...straight through, slept a couple hours and got up and did it again.  So then that added to my bad attitude, because I just missed my man.

Then a simple question from a friend:  "Have you and Brad decided on a get-away?"

And with that simple question, the floodgate of my frustration was opened.  I told her exactly how I was feeling about that.  About how frustrated I was with the lack of time, the "too busy".  I can't stand the "busy" that people find themselves in.  And now I'm one of them.

She was sweetly encouraging, and asked if I had read this post by the beautiful Melissa Moore-Fitzpatrick. 

I had seen it, scanned it, and had not read it.  Why?  Because I was "too busy" and it looked like something that required close reading.  So I went back and read it.  And I had tears flowing.  It is right where I've been.  It so sweetly, so articulately describes the "doing it again" in a way I will never forget.  Being present.  Doing it again.  You need to read it.  Even if this isn't right where you are, I'm sure there are words in there that will touch you.

Now I'm saying that to myself many times throughout the day.  "Thank you, Lord, that I get to do this again."

And my attitude?  It's much better.  Still too busy.  Still would love to get away with Brad.  But knowing that time will come.  And for now, I'm just going to do it again.  And be thankful that I can.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday Menu ~ S'Mores Variations!

I have been a very absent blogger this week!  I have just kind of lost my bloggin' mojo.  Actually, it's not very's just buried under piles of pom poms and uniforms and cheer lists and taxi driving and orthodontic appointments and back-to-school shopping (sweet mercy, that's worthy of a post all its own).  How can I get this mojo back??

And menus?  I don't even want to think about cooking these days.  It's too hot, I'm too busy...just like most people.  So when another Monday came and I thought about putting something on here, it was just too much.  I have trouble enough deciding what I'm having for dinner tonight.  But when I saw this beautiful article in my new Food Network magazine, my heart did a leap, and I just had to share this.

The traditional S'More is so good.  Years ago, while camping, a friend added peanut butter to her graham cracker, which opened a whole new world of S'More-ness to me.  Over the years, I have progressed to just putting a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup on my graham cracker, saving the step of spreading sticky peanut butter.  Recently, someone mentioned to me that they like to put a square of a Caramello candy bar on their S'More.  Genius!!  And then I see this beautiful spread:

Oh, I wish you could enjoy it in all its splendor.  These are some beautiful pictures.  Why didn't I think of these???  In case you can't read it, here are the variations:

"Elvis S'Mores":  graham cracker, toasted marshmallow, banana slices and peanut butter.

"Cinnamon Toast S'More":  cinnamon graham cracker, toasted marshmallow, butterscotch chips and white chocolate.

"Mint Chocolate Chip S'More":  chocolate graham cracker, toasted marshmallow, mini chocolate chips and a peppermint patty.  (YES, PLEASE!!!)

"Caramel Apple S'More":  cinnamon graham cracker, toasted marshmallow, apple slices, and a Rolo candy.  (GENIUS!!)

I think there needs to be a S'More buffet in your near future, and you need to invite me.  A beautiful spread of all these wacky ingredients, and people can create their own perfect S'More ~ much like a chocolate fountain station, or a fondue station...oh, I'm all these words further in the post, and I'm still salivating for that Chocolate Mint S'More.

I may have to experiment with that very, very soon.  Hope you all can too!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Running Through Puddles

Yesterday Brenna and I ran another 5K together.  It was a perfect collision of running one step at a time, cool, damp weather, and happy luck!  We set out just to do a gentle, easy run together and not worry at all about where we came in, and I purposed not to chase anybody.  This same run last year was smack in the middle of our crazy heat, and I believe it was 97 degrees at the start!  This year?  A glorious 67 degrees!  Perfect.  It had rained a throughout the day, so the ground was all nicely wet, providing some great puddles to run through.  I love, love, love running in the rain.  So although it didn't rain on us while we were running, it was still the perfect weather day for me.

Brenna is such a trooper.  She hadn't really been preparing much for this, other than a 4-mile run she did with me last weekend.  She made it the entire way without stopping, surprising even herself.  At one point she said, "When we get to that corner up there, can we slow down??"  I told her we'd figure that out when we got to the corner, and sure enough by that point she had decided to just keep going.  I say this often, but I love that girl's ability to just work harder when something gets hard!

So here we are at the start:

And here we are coming into the finish:

And here we are right after:

Notice that I am sweat-drenched and looking rough and Brenna looks very much like her "before" shot.  Youth!

And when all was said and done, I took first in my age group and Brenna took first in her age group, even with a mediocre time.  What do you know!  And, knowing how wacky I am for numbers, this is pretty cool:  I am 40 years old, and my favorite number is 3.  My race number was 340.  I was the 40th runner to finish the 5K.  And our time was 26:27, which delights me in the sense that I love sequential numbers, too.  Do I think it "means" something?  Absolutely not.  Just kinda cool for the OCD piece of my brain.  AND!!  They did a drawing at the end, and drew my number for a free pair of Asics!  Woo-Hoo!  Of course, I just bought my new running shoes last week...but I'm thrilled that my next pair is free!

While Brenna and I ran, Brad and Beth hung out waiting at the finish line.  Beth decided to take some pictures of some pretty flowers she found:

And, of course she found a little creature to befriend:

It was a busy 26 minutes for this beauty:  cheering at the send-off, photographing flowers, befriending snails, cheering at the finish...

Alex, meanwhile, was about ready to descend into the orchestra pit for his last performance with The Pirates of Penzance.  And he has now joined the family running...he, to my great surprise and delight, is doing cross country!  He has ran himself silly this last week and has loved it.  I am excited to see him loving it so much!

My brain just completely decided, all on its own, to just stop thinking.  I guess that means I should also stop typing.  All done.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

My Mom ~ The Original "Benjamin Button"

Last weekend my brother and I were going through a bunch of old family pictures...and laughing until our sides hurt!  We can laugh at my mom, because if she was here she would be joining right in with the laughter.  For sure.  I mean, how could you not??!!  And as we looked through all the high school pictures and wedding pictures, my brother made the startling discovery that our mother was the original Benjamin Button.  You know, the guy who aged backwards...started as an old man and grew more youthful?  Yep...the pictures speak for themselves:  here's the proof:

approximately age 17.  bless her heart.

I'm guessing this is about 1974 ~ a couple years after surgery??

her early 40's, in Hawaii ~ rocking a pink gingham bikini under that mu mu!

Yep, moving in the youthful direction!

But then...

Back to the glory years.  This is exactly what my brother would look like if he dressed in drag.

Now, Brenna was born 2 1/2 years after my mom died.  After they took her from me and laid her in the little baby warmer, she was turned with her profile to me.  My friend, Debbie, said to me, "Oh, Leanne, look at her!  Look who she looks like!"  I was stunned to see how much this little baby girl looked just like my mother.  Most of my mom's last year we watched her lying in a bed, and much of that was her sleeping.  I spent countless hours just watching my mom's profile as she slept.  As you can gather from these pictures, my mom held a pretty strong profile!  Brad and I both stared at this brand new baby girl, and then I had to look was just so overwhelming to see my mom's face in my newborn daughter.  Emotions were running thick and heavy in that room.  And that was the same reaction from everyone that knew my mom.  A sweet gift in so many ways.

As Brenna has grown (Brenna Kay, appropriately), she has held that name and likeness well.  She has so many endearing characteristics of my mom.  She has her sweetness, her gentleness, her...slowness to get a joke, she even throws a ball just like my mom did.

And if you know my Brenna, you will recognize the likeness in these pictures of my mom:

If I could stage a picture like this with Brenna, I bet you would see the twin-ness of these two!

the long, lanky legs with a bony knee?  check.

and, strangely enough...there is a striking amount of Beth in this picture.  I guess those Bryan genes run strong.

So there you have it.  She went from a beautiful child, to an...interesting stage, and back to beautiful again.  I'm going to keep these pictures in my mind during these next few years.  As we pay for orthodontic treatment, teach the use of contact lenses (if that becomes necessary),and keep in close touch with a great hair stylist, it will all be done in the hopes that Brenna never has a picture like the one at the top for her children to discover.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

How Old IS She??

The time has come, and I will keep this mercifully short.  I have so much I want to say, but this is the end of a long couple days, complete with the first cheer practice in the books tonight!  Oh, I do love these girls.  And I'm so glad the first practice is over.

I will save the whole research part of it for another time, but I do have so much more to say on the topic.  Right now all I can incoherently utter is some form of "Bears" and "High V" and counting to 8 and...that's all.  Sweet mercy, those are two paragraphs that are as scattered as my brain.  Enough!

This handsome woman is my great grandmother, Eva May Bryan.  She is 40 years old in this picture.  MY AGE!!!  I struck the same pose and tried to find a family resemblance...I'm sure it's there somewhere.  Please don't respond unkindly to that.  I just lobbed a sweet pitch to hit right there.  Would you look at the forearms on that gal?  That is someone who you address as "Yes, ma'am" or "Whatever you say, ma'am."

Anyway, thanks for participating.  And I will be back soon with a more detailed discussion on where my brain is.  As soon as I find it.  My brain that is.

And, for whatever it's worth, I had the thought of teaching Grandma Eva one of these cheers and waving those pom poms.  I imagine she would not take to it too naturally.  But I bet I could get her to have a good time trying.  Then again, that doesn't look like a woman you get to do anything she doesn't want to do.

So, good night.  More to come, so much more...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Monday Menu ~ With A Special Guest Blogger!

Today I have the delight of presenting you with a guest blogger for my Monday Menu!  Be gentle with's his first blog post.  Although he does have a very interesting story, and I think he should start his own blog....hmm, my wheels are turning on that.

Anyway, Saturday night we had a great time having dinner at my brother and sis-in-law's house.  I ran there, literally, and the following food made it so worth that run.  I will run for these anytime.  They are sooooo good.  Almost as good as my brother.

SO, I would like to introduce you to my brother, Rick.  Among many fabulous attributes, he is a fabulous cook.  The only heartbreaking disappointment I can think of about him is that he doesn't like peaches.  I'm sure you know why that breaks my heart.  So, be assured this recipe does not contain peaches.  But it still stole my heart in all the right ways.  Without further ado, here is my brother's first blog post, which he titled "Pressure":

I haven't felt pressure like this is a long time. The kind of pressure that robs you of sleep. The kind of pressure that makes you put all your plans aside until the task is completed. So here we go. I am very proud to have been offered a guest post on my sisters Blog. It all started with a long over due invite to dinner to Brad and Leanne. I thought I would serve one of my new favorites as an appetizer. I call them Jalapeno Boats. Some people call them poppers but I call them boats due their shape. This is one of those dishes that lies to you. It lies to your taste buds. It lies to your stomach. It even lies to your brain. People who don't like the hot burn of the jalapeno pepper always find themselves enjoying them one after another. Always just a hint of hot, but never enough to make you put down the fork. So, don't be afraid of this one. for those who love hot and for those who do not, this is one that will make everyone happy. Promise.

One pound Hot Sausage. (Jimmy Dean works well.)
8 oz Cream Cheese
1 Cup grated Parmesan Cheese
20 Jalapeno peppers
Ranch dressing
Cook sausage and let cool. Make sure you break up into small pieces.

Mix sausage, Cream Cheese, Parmesan in bowl.

Cut peppers in half length wise. Scrape out seeds and membrane. ( this is where the heat is so leave some if you want it to be hotter).

Fill peppers with sausage and cheese mixture.

Bake at 425 for 15 to 20 minutes. I use a BBQ sometimes and this works well also.


(Back to Leanne:  I will add in that the Ranch is for dipping.  Rookie mistake, Rick.)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I Need Your Help

I need your help with some research I am doing.  Can you take a minute to answer the following question?

How old do you think the woman in the picture is?  I promise you, she is a woman.

I'll get to the "research" part in a future post.  For now, I just need some input.

Thank you!