Friday, November 9, 2012

Post-Election Post 2012

With the election over (finally!) things seem relatively quiet around here.  We spent so much time talking about everything related to the presidential vote, as well as state and local elections and measures.  When the big night arrived, I traced a map of the U.S. from one of those educational placemats we have (those are such terrific reference tools) and gave it to Carmen.  While I cooked dinner, everyone sat in the kitchen by the radio and, from 4:30 on, we listened to the election coverage.  When the polls finally began closing and each state's results were announced by NPR (National Public Radio), we wrote it down and Carmen colored each state the appropriate color (blue for Obama, red for Romney).  It was a loud, tiring, exciting and, finally, melancholy evening.  By 9:30, we were done and turned off the radio.  We missed Mr. Romney's speech but that's o.k.  I heard some of it the next day.  Anyway, we learned a lot and had a great time.  Todd was done by 7:00 and went off to watch Star Trek.  The kids and I stuck it out and I think Carmen wanted to stay at it until the Florida polls closed, bless her heart.  We used the Internet to find out what the radio didn't provide.  All in all, it was a good evening, another historical event and a great way to get the kids interested in politics.

We have a child in our family with political aspirations and I want to do all we can to encourage it.  I don't care if they ever actually run for a position (although that would be cool!) but we need our young people to care about these things.  They are, after all, our future, however repetitive that may sound.  And when I get excited about something, they are more likely to join in.  What a blessing.  I just found out that two teenagers in my husband's extended family are doing drugs, with all the family problems that causes.  That makes me all the more thankful for the relationships I have with my kids.  And thankful for the kids I have.

So, now, as we heard on the radio yesterday, we look forward to the 2016 election.  Who might run?  Chad and I had just talked about the head of the CIA this morning.  He had looked promising, we both surmised, but hearing tonight that he resigned has changed that (we won't go there in this post right now!)

Like Mr. Romney said he would do, we will (continue to) pray for our country and our leadership.  They need it.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Change of Seasons (Reluctantly)

We spent two weeks getting Chad situated at the local college.  Two classes this time but it seemed to take forever before we were done.  And then, for the icing on the cake, we received a bill in the mail, saying we owed the tuition on one of the classes with a $50 late fee slapped on to boot!  It seems that when we registered for that class, the clerk forgot to run our credit card.  Fortunately, the staff I spoke to about it straightened everything out and waived the late fee.  We began our first day of school the last week of September and that has been going well, slow to start as I am still figuring out where we need to fill in gaps and order some new things.  But, really, right now I want to remember what my kids did this summer.

Chad and Alec each entered something at our county fair this year.  Chad entered a Lego creation and won first place in his age group.  I was very proud of him as he is not usually interested in this kind of thing and winning was icing on the cake.  Alec's creation was made out of recycled materials (which was the category he entered) and he won first place in his age group, then went on to win Reserve Champion.  He was beaten out of Grand Champion by a cookie jar-type object made completely our of deer bones (ugh!)  It was, um, interesting and the guy who won was nice and very happy to win.  Alec's creation was a diorama of the Titanic ship, showing it in its glory days on the water on one side and how it looks now, under water and covered in algae, including a mini sub floating nearby.  His diorama showed the ice berg with the damage it did just before the Titanic started to sink.  Creating miniatures is a hobby of Alec's and he's really very good.  His current interest in the Titanic has lasted all year and winning with this art project was really special.  I am proud of both boys.

Carmen sent in a caption for an elephant to say, as it was leaning on its hind legs against a tree.  The magazine, Nature Friend, was holding this contest and when Carmen came up with her caption, I told her to go ahead and send it in.  Weren't we all surprised when she was one of the five winners!  There it was, on the back cover of the magazine.  She was very, very happy and I, of course, was very proud and pleased for her.  Alec entered a drawing of his "Dream House" to a contest that Highlights magazine was having and we were all amazed that his was one of twelve chosen!  When I encourage my kids to enter contests, it's with the expectation that there are a lot of entries so winning is not probably, just possible.  What fun to see them both have something published!  I know how fun that is to see my words in print (however small an item!!) and I'm so thankful and pleased that they have had that opportunity (and, o.k., proud!)  What I take from this is that I need to encourage them in their writing/drawing skills, to continue to improve both for the fun and pleasure it brings but also perhaps to make a living at someday.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Helpful News Indeed

My Mom's condition continues to be foremost on my mind.  My sister, Connie, and I talk at least twice a week, and when she visits my Mom at the care center, she calls me so I can talk with Mom.  My mother is not herself and it's been very difficult to speak with her.  I had been under the impression that she was, well, basically losing her mind as she was totally confused and speaking nonsense.  Since then, I have been told it is mostly the medication she is on that is making her so loony.  With that hope in mind, it was so wonderful to talk to her yesterday.  She was pretty much herself again, oriented to time and place, talking and asking about my kids, a lot like normal.  What a relief that was!  Apparently, it was nearly time for her pain medication which is the main culprit for her confusion.  I was fortunate to catch her at the right time.  She is also making progress as far as walking some and sitting up more often.  Her pain is also less.  I know there will be good and bad days ahead but every good day will definitely give us hope for her complete recovery.  And thank you for the kind comments, my friends!

We spent last Friday at the annual kite festival in Long Beach, Washington.  We look forward to it every year, especially when it happens to be warm and not too windy, like it was Friday (not our usual beach weather, for sure!)  The beach is full of colorful kites with competitions for stunt kite flying and things like that.  We took some photos (see below).  After walking the boardwalk, we went through the small town, visiting a local coin dealer (a hobby of ours) and ending up at a place to ride go-carts.  Chad took a spin around the track and looked quite pleased with himself.  We have attended this festival every year since we moved here, except when Chad was just 3 weeks old (I wasn't up to it!) and it has always been a fun family time.  Except for that one year when Alec was just a toddler.  We were out in the sand, among the kites, with Alec a few feet ahead of me.  Suddenly, a kite bigger than Alec came crashing down a few feet ahead of him!  It stuck into the sand like a huge sword.  I grabbed Alec lightening-quick - everyone around was so startled and glad he wasn't hurt.  I think I spent the rest of the day thanking God for sparing my small son.  Since then, we mostly stick to the boardwalk, sometimes flying our own kites along the edge.  But never again will I venture out where the big kites are - we learned our lesson that day.

It may be the longest beach in world (that's what the sign says) and it's awesome to see it covered in kites.  This is just a slice of beach.  It was voted America's Best Boardwalk more than once.

I loved these rows of frogs, can you see the blue crab in the lower right corner?  We also saw caterpillar balloons the size of diesel trucks.

Carmen and I swam with an orca ...

Alec shows just how much he's grown this summer.  Carmen didn't like the sun in her face.  The orcas were good about posing for us, though.

Chad, taking the lead.  Didn't crash once (unlike his mom when she was a kid!)

Friday, August 17, 2012

And So To August

O.k., let's recap ... Chad is now 17.  He had a nice birthday, getting a trip to the Oregon Zoo out of the deal, as well as a battery for his car (courtesy of his father).  His car, a 1966 Volvo Amazon, is sitting quietly in our driveway, awaiting the day when it can roar to life.  It needs some work and Chad needs his driver's license so the Amazon will have to be patient.

Todd turned 1/2 century.  We all spent the day in Portland, where Todd bought clothes for me at Nordstrom.  It's what he likes to do. We had a good time together, Portland was warm so we enjoyed some summer there.  We had dinner at the Nordstrom cafe, which we love, and had Sees' candy for dessert.  Todd got a box of his favorite candy to go.  And he doesn't look a day over 49!

Todd and I have now been married 24 years (and 11 days).  We had a nice anniversary, lunch at a favorite restaurant overlooking the Columbia river and went for a drive afterward.  Surviving this kitchen remodel has definitely been a marriage challenge.  It's a good thing I'm so flexible.  Don't tell him I said that.

The bad news is that my Mom's situation has definitely changed, for the better and for the worse.  For the better in that my sister and my Mom are now over the problem that I mentioned in my last post.  But my Mom spent several days in the hospital last week, and is now in a nursing home, with no real certainty that she'll ever go home again.  Big sigh.  My sister, Connie, has gone above and beyond what any of us could have done to take care of my Mom.  This is the first time in her life that I've seen her be there for my Mom (and Connie is 63!)  In some ways, you could say it's Connie's turn, as my other two sisters and myself have each had our time of caring for Mom at different times in her life.  I'm just so thankful she is able to do all that she's done for Mom and I tell her so every time we talk.  In fact, I've never, ever talked to Connie as much as I have in the last month.  My Mom fell and fractured two ribs as well as L6 in her spine.  She's been in a lot of pain but seems to be doing better this week.  It will take a long time for her to heal.  There are a few other health issues as well.  We pray for her every night.  A long road ahead.

Todd is working on the pantry ... well, actually he removed the pantry and it's just an empty space at the moment.  I still haven't posted any photos.  This summer turned out to be busier than I expected.  It's hard to find time to blog.  But I have found time to bake with Carmen - she's fearless in the kitchen.  I love it!  She gives me courage, actually, as I have little confidence in the kitchen.  We made apple pockets (like turnovers) and she was so proud.  She's bookmarked several recipes in some of our cookbooks that she wants to try in the future.   It's so fun to have a partner to cook with!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

July Birthdays, Etc.

I certainly had no idea that this summer would involve so much phone time with my family in California.  It's absurd.  But necessary.  Sigh.  I am so, so very thankful that we moved up here so many years ago.  I am glad to be miles away from the nonsense but I wish I could help more.  My sister and my mom are at an impasse and I don't believe things will change soon.  I have taken on the role as mediator, but for me, the worst is over.  I refuse to spend any more time worrying ... I'll just pray and listen and offer anything useful the Lord gives me to say.  It's a very silly situation but, to them, it's a very emotional one.  Ugh.

On to other things ... like my son turning 17 later this month!  In some ways, it's no surprise but in other ways, I wonder where the years have gone.  I suppose because I'm so proud of the young man that he has become, it just seems logical that he'll be 17 soon.  

Todd will have a birthday a few days after Chad's.  It's a big one, too.  I'm not entirely sure how he feels about it but he's pretty rational.  We age, big deal.  Still don't know what we'll do for his birthday but I did buy him a piece of artwork he admired last week when we were in Cannon Beach (an artsy community 25 miles south of here.)

While the rest of the nation continues to have its summer, it's 80 degrees in Portland and eastern Oregon is in the 90's with flash-flood warnings, we on the coast are "enjoying" temps in the 60's and clouds.  I'm really not complaining except I had hoped to wear my summer clothes - more than once.  I'm currently re-reading my Frances Mayes books, dreaming of spending my summers in Italy.  Ciao!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Start of Summer

I've been having difficulty loading my "new post" page, hence, no new posts.  With the stupid drama happening back home (in So. Cal), I've had plenty to keep me busy and fretting a bit.  What does one do when one's own parent acts in an immature way that is totally baffling?  It's true what they say about older parents regressing back to the teenage level.  I guess I'm at that "sandwich" time of life, parenting my kids and parenting my parent.  I'm not trying to be disrespectful, I love my Mom.  But ...,

Oh, anyway, the kitchen remodel is going very well.  I really haven't been inconvenienced that much which is amazing.  Todd is wonderful.  Hoping to post a photo in near future.  Todd and the boys hauled a van load of construction debris to the dump in the drizzle.  I am SO thankful I don't have to do that anymore!  I used to be Todd's "helper" and, praise the Lord, now I have two very able teen boys to do the work.  

We officially finished school last week which I know was a welcome break for us all.  I always think that the kids will be bored once they finish school but that only lasts a few days, perhaps a week.  I am enjoying having my mornings free even though I was a little sad to finish yet another year.  Each year finished is one less I get to have my kids home.  

Chad got to attend two classical music concerts last weekend, part of a three weekend music festival our town holds every June.  I remember the first year they were putting this event together and it is really nice to see how, 10 years later, it has grown and really become a success.  Most events are sold out and they aren't cheap, which is why we send Chad instead of the whole family attending.  He really enjoyed the concerts and got several autographs (which I think is pretty neat!)

It has been rainy and cool in the Northwest, while I keep hearing of very high temps all around the U.S.  Summer is here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Shakespeare, Finally

When we moved to OR 20 years ago, some dear neighbors up the street became good friends and we spent a great deal of time with them.  They taught us a game called Mah Jong which I never really got the hang of but we had fun anyway.  They had property across the street from our house on which they had planned to build a home on someday but they changed their minds, sold the property and moved to eastern OR.  My in-laws bought that property and built their own home on it (that's another story!)  Anyway, we have kept in touch with these neighbors all these years.  Before they moved, they gave us quite a few books and magazines that they no longer needed.  One of these books was Shakespeare: 23 plays and the Sonnets.

This book has been kept in a prominent place for 20 years, being referred to when needed (Shakespeare comes up more often than one would imagine).  I had always hoped at least one of my kids would want to read it someday but I never pushed.  And then one day, four months ago, Chad announced he was going to read it.  It took him four months to finish (as he said, "Shakespeare is not easy reading") but I was so proud of him for never giving up.  I think he was proud of himself as well.  The great thing about Chad is that whatever he is reading, I get to "read" it, too.  I got to learn all about the plays as he was reading them.  I did the same thing for him when I was reading "War and Peace".  It's fun to have someone to share with when one is reading a great peace of work.  We discussed each play, Chad giving his opinion for each one.  Learning the background was interesting as well.  We both got a terrific education on Shakespeare, simply because he wanted to read it. And that is exactly what I had hoped would happen.  I could have made it an assignment but I chose not to and I think he learned more because it was his idea.  I wish I could do all our learning that way.

It was interesting to see just how many phrases have passed into modern life that have their origins in Shakespeare.  I think a lot of people would be surprised to learn that.  We also enjoyed reading Verla's notes (our neighbor that gave us the book).  I think this was college reading for her, probably dating back into the late 1950's and her sense of humor shows through in her comments.  She was a teacher for many years and I think she would love to know that Chad enjoyed this book.  That's a letter I need to write, and soon.

We have other books Verla gave us that turned out to be very important to our children.  She will enjoy knowing what an influence these books have had on our lives.  I've never thought to mention this to her in our yearly letters to each other.  But this year, I definitely will.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day 2012

Today is Memorial Day, the day when we are to remember all those who have served and died for our country and beyond.  When the kids were little, we spent a great deal of this day learning, doing crafts, putting out the flag and saying the Pledge of Allegiance.  And we nearly always go to one of the cemeteries in our area, particularly the one where a lot of soldiers are buried.  There used to be ceremonies including fly-bys of fighter jets, sometimes we could see them from our living room window.  But, since those jets are usually being used elsewhere, we haven't seen them in several years.  This year, we are planning to attend a ceremony in town and then go to the cemetery we usually go to.  Chad put our flag out.  We talked about the origin and whys of Memorial Day (it used to be called Decoration Day) and I prayed with my kids, thanking God for all the brave people who served and died, including the families left behind.  In particular on my mind is a family here in Oregon who lost their only child, a son, just last week.  He was supposed to be married in the next few weeks.  He was on his second tour of duty and he didn't come home.  Not alive, anyway.  My heart goes out to that family.  I always cry when I read about those we have lost in these recent wars, especially when it hits in our state.  Oh, it doesn't matter where they live, I cry anyway.

There was a good article in our local paper about the shift of focus for Memorial Day, how for most people it's about getting away and having fun.  But there was also an article about several families who convene every year at a cemetery where their loved ones are buried.  They use this time to not only see family but to clean up the grave sites and bring flowers.  I thought that was a lovely tradition to have.  The children in those families hopefully will continue the tradition, making sure their kids honor their loved ones.  Important stuff.  I want my kids to have these values, always showing respect for those we have lost, for those in the service, keeping traditions.  Today, Todd and I both told the kids about our family members who served our country.  I have a lot of military in my family, including the Civil War, and I hope to keep telling these stories so my kids will remember.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Progress, progress ...

Hey ... the saw is gone!  It's really gone!  We are adjusting to not having to squeeze past it and the dishwasher to enter the kitchen.  So much space!  All of the lower cabinets are in place (no doors or counter top yet), except for the island which isn't built yet.  It's looking terrific!  We purchased an island hood and a cooktop at amazing prices, what a blessing.  Todd had to go through Longview, Washington, on his way to Portland and stopped at a Lowe's (they are like a Home Depot) where they had a clearance section.  He found the island hood and cooktop which happened to be styles/models he was pleased with.  He came home and talked to me about them, and then I called to see if we could purchase them over the phone.  The appliance manager I talked to offered me the hood for $300 less than the price Todd saw on it (I almost cried).  Seems that she's been wanting to sell this for some time and there wasn't a demand for island hoods in that community.  It's not been out of the box, in perfect condition.  The cooktop is gas which means we'll have an extra monthly bill but fortunately there is a gas line already run to our house in the finished basement, we've just never needed to use it.  I'm sure there's a fee to hook it up again, there's always a fee, right?  Anyway, these purchases take care of a couple of big ticket items we were going to need to buy.  I believe we saved more than half of what we expected to pay if we had bought these items elsewhere.  And Lowe's kindly allowed us to open an account online and gave us 6 months interest free.  I feel so special.

I honestly have trouble remembering life before this remodel began ... and it hasn't been all that long!  It's funny how something can take over your life so quickly and easily.  I'm so thankful for how God has blessed us in different ways through this.  

My husband and our sons took a road trip last Sunday to see the annular eclipse.  Since it was cloudy here on the coast, they drove until they found sun, which turned out to be about a 4-5 hour drive one way.  They didn't get home until nearly midnight but they had fun and took some great photos with their cameras and sun filter.  Carmen and I spent the day talking and playing games.  We made a simple dessert also.  It's fun to see her so interested in cooking.  We made dinner together, a new recipe that we modified to suit our tastes.  It was a great day for our whole family, and I got to see some photos of the eclipse as it was happening, via computer.  

Todd has time off through Memorial Day (the doctor is gone as well).  Hopefully, he can move forward with the kitchen, despite the torrential rain and wind we have been having since yesterday.  And the weather is looking just as foul for the rest of the week.  Springtime on the coast, you know! 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

49 And Thankful

We've gotten our routine down now:  Monday through Thursday, life as usual.  Homeschooling, driving Chad to college and his volunteer job, etc.  On Friday, everything gets covered, the plastic comes down all around the kitchen and we look for things to do that keep us out of the way.  When the saw is running, we look for ways to be out of the house.  Lots of cleanup each day of the weekend, then Monday, everything gets uncovered and shaken out.  Life as usual.  Sort of.

Todd has built the upper cabinets on the back wall of the kitchen.  The refrigerator cabinet and the shelves above.  Installed a vegetable sink with a disposal and water filter, for which I am thankful since my other sink has been disconnected.  Amazing how grateful one can be for water when it's turned off for any length of time.  Last weekend, the kids and I went for a long drive, since I knew if I was in the house without water it would drive me nuts.  On our drive, we happened upon a herd of goats, including a pair of newborn kids.  From the appearance of their mother, we supposed that the kids were less than 20 minutes old.  The mother was trying to get her twins to stand up.  It was very cool to witness.  When we returned to our house, Todd was still working on the plumbing (it NEVER goes as quickly as one would like!)  but eventually everything came together, the leaks repaired and all was well.  Little by little, the kitchen is taking shape.

Oh, yes, there was that small event a few days ago.  I turned 49 last Tuesday, and since this kitchen remodel is not cheap, I chose a very small celebration.  Chad put a candle in a chocolate donut and brought it out to me after lunch.  Alec picked a daffodil for me (something he doesn't usually do).  We ordered Chinese take out for dinner which Todd picked up on his way home from work.  He brought in dinner, along with a dozen red roses.  Very sweet!  It was a nice, quiet birthday and I am very glad we didn't go to Leavenworth, WA, this time.  As much as I like going there, it is very spendy.  Actually, having a quiet birthday seemed just right this year.  My daughter baked a chocolate cake today, and said it was a late birthday cake.  She has been choosing recipes out of a terrific cookbook for young people and this was the first time she's ever made anything like this, especially with very little assistance.  She is so proud of herself and so am I.  It was very good, by the way.

I was thinking about my birthday last week, how I love my family and my life.  I used to get so worked up about my birthday, wondering if anyone close to me would remember and do anything for me.  I really didn't feel that way this year - what a relief.  I remember when I was about 11 or 12, my mother told everyone not to worry about her birthday and so nobody did anything for her.  I believe she spent most of the day on the couch, something she absolutely never did.  She was depressed that we listened to her and didn't do anything!  That afternoon, I found a cake mix that you mixed up right in the included disposable box and it was either microwaved or baked (I don't remember).  I brought it out to her and I know she really appreciated my small gesture.  I learned from that experience that you must be careful what you say - people will believe you!  She never again said not to worry about her birthday.  I think she learned a lesson, too!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

There's a table saw in my kitchen ...

Oh, not JUST a table saw, but the whole "table" part surrounding it, which makes the whole thing about 10' x 8'.  Makes a nice island.  All it needs is a granite countertop to complete the look.

Filling the rest of the kitchen and into the living room are all the cabinet parts.  Getting to the garage is a challenge.  If you suck in your breath, you can just squeeze between the saw and the dishwasher to exit the kitchen near the front door.  Plastic sheeting hangs decoratively around the perimeter.

The dining room has become a storeroom.  Boxes holding my kitchen things make accessing homeschool books difficult (voiced not-so-kindly by my 11 year old!)

And Todd's three weeks are over.  He's happily back at work in a new, open office with elbow room.  Actually, I know better.  Todd would much rather be here, assembling cabinets and finishing this project.  But life doesn't always go as planned.  Fortunately, my darling has left the kitchen functioning well enough that it's not that bad.  As long as I move slowly, I don't run into anything.

The ceiling is done for the most part.  Love the skylight!  There is still one wall of cabinets attached.  Sink, stove and dishwasher are still there.  Toaster oven and microwave still usable (the microwave is living on a old cabinet on wheels rolled into the living room.)  I threw a tablecloth over the table part of the table saw for an additional work surface.  Lots of sweeping.

It's funny how certain things can get on one's nerves, silly things like everyone in the house asking (for the 100th time) "Where are the clips or where are the twisty-ties?"  For the 100th time, I answer "In the box with the white lid in the pantry!"  Somehow, they can't get used to this as these particular items have always been in a drawer that is no longer there.  Carmen blows hot and cold, even on a good day and if she's in a bad mood, her tolerance level for living in a construction zone plummets.  The boys don't seem to care which, of course, they wouldn't.  As long as they can eat, life is good.

Oh, do you want to see some photos?  Here goes ...

Before the ceiling went in (after the skylight was installed) This is the view from the sink, looking out toward the dining room.  The pendant light is new and will
have a banquette beneath it:

My skylight on a rare sunny day:

Showing the versatility of the in-kitchen table saw (It slices, it dices!!)  Don't try this at home:

Breakfast prep on my temporary (I hope) island.  That stack of material behind me has now been cut up into parts that will become our cabinets:

This view shows the new archway out into the living room, which created a view out toward the bay from the kitchen.  I used to have to go around the wall there to see out that window.  The baby grand piano usually sits just behind me (it's been pushed further into the living room and is trying to eat the sofa):

I'll end this post with this wonderful piece of news:  Todd now will only work four days a week, 10 hour days, which will give him a three day weekend - all the time!  He works 10 hour days now anyway but the week will be shorter and, in theory, he'll be able to spend more time on the kitchen!  God is good.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Out With the Old!

The kitchen now has no upper cabinets and no ceiling. It does, however, have a new skylight! Imagine ... LIGHT in my dark kitchen! With temperatures in the low 40's this week with rain, we were wondering how things would go when actual demolition began. No worries! On Wednesday, when the weather man was calling for snow, bad enough to hamper travel, our part of the coast cleared up and got sunny! Todd got up on the roof and installed the skylight in 4 hours and only got rained on for about an hour of that time! Thursday was nice enough for us to walk and then he started tearing out upper cabinets. Today was sunny all day, the kids and I sat on the deck while Todd made a nightmare out of the kitchen, tearing out the ceiling. I still got to cook in the remains of my old kitchen tonight and perhaps tomorrow night, but I am thrilled that the weather made today much more tolerable. The kitchen will be colder tomorrow morning but that's part of remodeling.

We are getting the travel trailer ready for cooking dinners. I think we can still do breakfast and lunch in the house. Who wants to stumble out to the trailer in the a.m?! This is all so surreal. It feels like a dream. The cleaning up part doesn't, though! Pink fluffy fiberglass is a pain to clean up - who invented this stuff, anyway?

We still have decisions to make regarding the cabinets, counter tops, etc. The floor has been decided. The pantry will have to wait a bit. I am praying for God's guidance and for Him to give Todd strength and wisdom through all this. I am so thankful how God answered my prayers for the weather. I mean, He moved a snowstorm further into Portland! It missed us completely! Now, I know He didn't do it just for my husband but I am so happy that we were blessed by this. The boys have been working when needed. Good experience for them.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

It's Looking Different Around Here

My husband has been wanting to build a new kitchen in this house since we moved here, about 14 years ago. To make a long story short - he began the process last weekend. He knocked out the wall dividing the kitchen from the living room and suddenly I have a view of the bay from my kitchen (through the living room windows). Wow! The view today was of rain, high winds and then snow falling (and sticking) but who cares! It has been fun getting used to that wall being gone. We do not miss it except when my daughter turned to look at the calendar that used to hang there and had a good laugh at herself. Todd came home tonight and said he is taking not two weeks (which he had already scheduled) but THREE weeks! In fact, his boss suggested he take the extra time since the doctor will be gone as well. Todd has never had that much time off, ever, since our marriage. I hope everything goes well and I am giving this remodel to God, asking for wisdom and guidance. We will need it.

When he gets to the part where I can't cook in the kitchen, the plan is for me to cook in our travel trailer which is fine except for the times it will be raining and, possibly, snowing. The weather report didn't call for snow today so it came as a complete surprise. Todd didn't get home tonight until 8:30, driving up and down the hill from town in snow! Sometimes I wish we still had our 4-wheel truck that we foolishly traded in for a vehicle that would hold a growing family. Anyway, I am optimistic and will do my best to be a good sport. I want this remodel to go well for Todd - I'm just along for the ride.

Really, I'm serious. He keeps asking my opinion about things and when I don't have one, we tend to, ahem, debate a bit. I finally told him I just trust him to built a terrific kitchen, like I used to see him do when he had his own cabinet shop. I'll try to give my input when needed but, really, I'll just be so happy with whatever he does.

He built an archway in the area between the kitchen and living room which looks lovely (will look even better when it's dry-walled and painted.) I guess this will call for some pictures which I'm sure Chad will be happy to provide. He's better than I am at taking photos and posting them. Alec and I held up one end of the huge beam that had to go in place to hold up the ceiling where the weight-bearing wall had been. My shoulders are still recovering. He'll also put an arch between the kitchen and dining room.

Definitely looking forward to the new kitchen. Not looking forward to paying the necessary bills! But it will be worth it. I'm very excited!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

My Mom's Life

I've started a new project that I am fairly excited about. For years, I have wanted my Mom to record her life somehow. After several attempts, I've finally hit on a solution that works for both of us. Awhile back, my kids and I came up with several questions for my Mom to answer and I sent them to her. Now that she's had time to come up with answers, my plan is to call her on my land line and take dictation, typing her answers on my computer as she speaks. This is not new to me, as I was a transcriber in a medical office before my first baby was born. I don't know why I didn't think of it before!

I assured my Mom that we didn't have to spend a long time on the phone, just take a few questions at a time. We started last Tuesday and in just 20 minutes, I got a page and a third. Tonight, I went over what she said and edited it. I'm writing it from her point of view which can be confusing but I think it will sound best that way. If we can do this once a week, it won't take too long. It was fun and interesting to hear her talk about her family and my Dad. Some things I knew about and others I didn't.

Mom turned 82 today, bless her heart. She was a farm girl in Arkansas until her family moved to California when she was 11. If she had stayed in Arkansas, she never would have met my Dad and, therefore, I wouldn't be here. Interesting.

I'm looking forward to our phone interviews.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Birthdays in Winter

Middle son, Alec, turned 14 last week. The kid is taller than me, taller than his older brother - and he's not done yet! He's at that in-between age, part boy, part young man. We got Alec a new guitar for his birthday and he was really thrilled, having outgrown his beginner guitar. I love it when Todd gives Alec a guitar lesson. A nice time for them both, I think. Alec has a lot of great qualities about him, but he's a hard kid to encourage without spoiling. I'm afraid I haven't done a good enough job in that area. Sigh. Got to work on that.

Carmen will be 11 this Monday. We bought her a pink ukulele and I can't wait for her to unwrap it! I just couldn't resist when I saw it at the music shop in town. They had about 10 ukuleles hanging on the wall, each a different bright and beautiful color. I think they're made in Hawaii. I want one for myself, in fact. Mother's Day gift, anyone? Hope she's not afraid to try playing it. I have been teaching her piano, using the same books that Chad's instructor used with him. She definitely has the talent and rhythm, I feel, and she has developed much greater patience in the past few months. I hope she stays with it.

Having two birthdays so close after Christmas is kind of a bummer but it is what it is. It's gotten easier now that the kids are older. Todd will actually get Carmen's birthday off this year which will make it even better!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Very Late Birth Notice

I'm used to watching a rush of rain water flowing down the street. It's quite another thing to watch rain water flowing UP the street - courtesy of the heavy winds we are getting today. Rain blows east and then west all within a few seconds. It doesn't know which way to go. I know the feeling.

I can't help but write about yet another coincidence I encountered last weekend. Alec had ordered an item online and had been waiting for it for several weeks. A box arrived last Friday and I put it aside, thinking it was one of the items that I had ordered, with Alec's birthday approaching. At the time, I remember thinking it was a bit big for anything I had ordered but then I forgot about it. Anyway, on Saturday, Alec tracked his package online and found that it would be delivered at 3:30 on Saturday. We all picked times that we guessed it would REALLY be delivered and when those times came and went, he was a bit disappointed. And then, I remembered that package delivery from the day before (duh!) Yes, it was his package, after all! What joy was felt in the household!

So, I was going through the newspaper that was used as packing material since I find newspapers from other places interesting. This was a newspaper from a tiny town in Minnesota, filled with Norwegian names, very much like our town (lots of Scandinavian influence here). My eyes happened to fall on a section of the paper devoted to happenings 70 years ago. And there it was ... an article saying, "Mr. & Mrs. D. Cheney were blessed with a baby boy, as reported in 'The Astorian Budget', in Astoria. Mr. Cheney is well known in our town."

I got so excited! What are the odds of this newspaper with this article being sent to someone in Astoria? Someone who actually finds these coincidences interesting? I have read a good book about the newspapers of our town's past, including "The Astorian Budget", so I know of the now-defunct paper. I got out the phone book to see if there were any Cheneys still in Astoria. There are two couples living in Tillamook, about 75 miles south of us. Tillamook is famous for the cheese produced there, lots and lots of cows, and I recommend Tillamook Swiss, it's the best! Anyway, I haven't contacted them though I'd really like to. Imagine, it could be a brother or uncle or something. If it were me, I'd want to have the article, just for historical significance. Should I call them? What would YOU do?

Thursday, January 19, 2012


There are many times I am thankful to live on a hill. This is one of those times. Apparently, in counties all around us, the rain has wreaked havoc on the landscape, causing flooding severe enough for governments to declare that overused phrase "state of emergency" wherever necessary. We are fortunate not to have all the ice and snow that our northern friends in Washington are having. I guess it's really bad up there right now. We had our snow over the weekend and, boy, did our kids have fun! Chad built a 7-foot snowman with Carmen and Alec assisting. It loomed large in our front yard and we were all sad to see the rain reduce it to a basketball-sized lump of snow. The kids' muscles were sore for several days - playing in snow is hard work, after all!

It was wonderful to watch the blizzard-like snow fall for a few days. But then the rains came, warming things up a bit. Two nights ago, it rained so hard that it flooded the rain gutter just outside my window. Sounded like the kitchen faucet running at full blast - all night long. It's amazing to watch the rain flow down the street in great sheets. We are not in danger of any mudslides, either. No, our hill is pretty well situated for this weather, as far as I know, and I am thankful.

All this cold weather has made it nice to stay in and read or play games. Our newest game was sent as a gift from Todd's sister - Apples To Apples. I have heard of this game through homeschool channels for years but never thought to buy it. We have played it a lot since Christmas. All five of us played for several hours straight on New Year's Eve. While I do get tired after awhile, I am impressed at how much our kids have learned from this game. It's all about adjectives. Some of the subjects in this mod version of the game are things I'd rather not know more about (man cave, anyone?) but even these subjects launch us into discussions about the world that we might not otherwise have.

The adjective thing, however, is what is so great (to me, anyway). Every time a child has to think of an adjective, it's a mini-grammar lesson. Painless learning. I love Mad Libs for the same reason. Carmen knows a lot more about grammar than I do, just from doing Mad Libs. She'll correct me if I give her the wrong word (an adjective instead of an adverb, for example). How cool to have your 10 year old know more grammar than you!!

On a completely different note, my extended family grew by two these past few months. A close cousin of my husband's had her first baby, Adell Rae. I love this cousin and her husband and I'm so happy for them. Adell will need heart surgery to repair a hole in her heart but it sounds like the doctors are confident the surgery will be routine. I'll be praying anyway! My oldest sister's daughter (Zana) had her second child, a boy named Thomas Marshall. What's cool about Zana's son is that his middle name is my step-dad's last name. Grandpa Marshall was the only grandpa Zana knew, since my dad died when Zana was a toddler. She was very close to my Mom and step-dad when he was alive and has honored him with this baby's name. She also named her first child Isabella Daphne, after my Mom (Daphne). I am so thrilled and proud of Zana for her decision to carry on these family names. Zana and her husband are a great couple and very much into caring for their family. It is wonderful to know these babies have been born into wonderful families that will love and care for them!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Something Funny's Going On

The day after Christmas, I heard my 13 yr old son giggling in the living room. No, actually he was guffawing. I'd never really heard anyone guffawing so I was curious as to the cause. He was reading Cristina's book "No School Today". After that, the thing snowballed. When Alec wasn't reading it, I spied Carmen curled up in the corner of the sofa, intently reading and giggling herself silly, the way 10 yr old girls do. And then Chad could be heard, laughing hysterically now and then, eventually bringing the book into the kitchen to share with me, a habit he started years ago with anything he is reading. The book stayed on the kitchen table just long enough for Todd to read a bit. Then it disappeared. I've actually been able to hold it twice, once in the photo on my last blog and two days ago, I picked it up long enough to read 3 strips but got called away to another distraction. Sigh. But that's o.k.

Because I think everyone in this family has shared nearly every comic strip with me at some point in the the last few weeks. It has been so fun, hearing my kids laughing at what they see as themselves sometimes. They are fascinated with these mini stories about homeschool kids, living a lot like we do here. And they absolutely love the cat references, perhaps because we don't have any animals outside of fish tanks. Lines from Toby and his dinosaur are also a favorite, being recited over and over, and laughed at.

Cristina's book has definitely been a highlight with our kids (thanks, Cristina AND Todd!) I'm sure I'll get to read it all someday soon ... when I can find it.

Just wait. When she comes out with Volume 2, I won't let anyone else touch it until I'm done reading it! (There's incentive for you, Cristina!)

I did, however, get to start one of Paula's books and immediately got wrapped up in the story line. Again, I didn't want to put it down but had to (chores were waiting). It's too bad life gets in the way of good reading!