Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Finding Christmas

I'm having a mid-life Christmas crisis. It started about four years ago and has left me searching for something that's missing.

At first, I blamed economics. I was worried that I couldn't afford enough presents for Marc and Nate.

Then I blamed time. I didn't have enough hours in a day to bake all the cookies I needed to bake, wrap all the presents in a glorious creative way, build gingerbread houses, watch plays, see the Christmas movies, look at Christmas lights, decorate the house, and on and on and on...

Then I blamed the retailers. They start putting Christmas stuff out in September ...what the heck! And it's so buy buy.

Then I blamed the weather. It hasn't snowed enough. It's too warm. It's too rainy.

Monday, December 17, 2012

38 Things to Do Before 38

For the past three years, I've created a list of things to do before my next birthday. It's a fun way to set some goals and add a little focus to what's most life to the fullest. I spent my birthday weekend putting together my list of 38 things to do before I'm 38. Without further adieu, here's my list:

Friday, December 14, 2012

Happy 37th Birthday to Me!

Today I turn 37. Happy birthday to me! As has become my tradition, I'm working on my list for the upcoming year. Last year was 37 before 37 and this year....well 38 before 38 of course. It'll take me a few days to perfect my list but today's a great day to review last year's list and check my progress:

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Making It Pretty

Did you know I love Christmas? If you read my blog, then you probably answered YES!

I've been struggling with the issue of time and all the things I want to do, feel I need to do, and have to do. Take that normal feeling and throw in the part where I share custody of Marcus and Nate and it tends to feel like everything is jumbling together and there's no time for anything. 

Rewind to last night. I've been wanting to make Salt Dough Ornaments since I saw them on Pinterest. I wasn't sure how they'd turn out....half expecting this to be a pin-fail. I had three million things to do last night so almost put it off. But after running around and getting home around 7, I decided I could either A) make the ornaments or B) watch TV. (note: TV nearly won out)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

My sister has a theory that a person's favorite season is the one they were born in. She's a September baby and fall is her favorite. I'm a December baby and winter is my favorite. So maybe there's something to it. 

One of the floats at our annual Snowflake Parade.
My holiday season always seems to start with the Snowflake Parade, a tradition for 28 years in Klamath Falls. You can call me Master Parade Planner - okay not really. It's the floats that make it awesome but I take a small amount of credit.

While most folks are watching the pretty floats go by, I'm down at lineup keeping everyone in ...well, line. For the days leading up to the parade, I'm stressing over the lineup - is it interesting, does it flow, did I keep the horses away from sirens and bands away from eachother, and and and.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

My Incredibly Good Looking Family

I've had family photos taken three times in my life - once when Marcus was 5 (he's 16 now), once when Nate was 4 (he's 8 now), and this past weekend.

I love photos so you'd think I'd do it more often. I'm probably not alone in admitting it's because I hate photos of myself.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Sew-Sew Adventure

Stockings could very well be one of the best parts of the Christmas present experience (at least if you grew up in my household and had a mom that went all kinds of stocking-stuffer-crazy). My stocking would be filled with lip gloss, nail polish, bath stuff, travel size samples of random things, oddball toys, weird candy, and whatever other trinkets she had picked up throughout the year. I always felt sorry for those poor children who received a stocking full of oranges and nuts! LOL

I've carried on my mom's tradition to my boys. For about ten years now, I've wanted to make my own stockings for the family. I don't knit, I don't crochet, I don't cross-stitch, and I don't sew. 

I remember one time, I bought a pattern at the fabric store, got home, opened it, and quickly got discouraged when I realized it was written in a foreign language - or atleast it should have been. Cut along the bias? Back stitch? I sent that pattern and the bits of fabric I'd picked up to Craft-Siberia, where all well-intentioned but unfinished crafts go to die. 

But this year, my good friend Stacy decided to make her own as well. She found a Fabricworm blog that swore it was easy so we decided to give it a try. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fun, food, and family

Oscar Wilde wrote, "After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations."

For the first time in many years, I spent Thanksgiving with my mom's family. Twenty-seven of us gathered to eat delicious food, tell stories we've heard millions of times, and express our thankfulness for an amazing family!

Thanksgiving at Grandma and Grandpa's House 

From left to right (standing):
  • Grandpa - I don't know if there's a more perfect man than my grandpa. Honest, hard working, and loving. One of my favorite things about him is that he's a wonderful story-teller, something I think our world is lacking. I think it comes from before there were televisions and the internet. Love to sit and listen to his stories and marvel all the things he's seen. Grandpa is almost 85 and in wonderful health. 
  • Mom - What can I say? I get my awesomeness from this woman. Funny, loving, and loyal. The best grandma I could ask for for my kids. And she taught me how to cook so I guess I owe my big butt to her. And this white hair I've been growing since I was in my 20's. 
  • Kim - Stepdad extraordinaire. Spunky, awnry, and playfully grumpy. 
  • Me! I get at least 50% of my awesomeness from this group right here.
  • Rob - We've been dating a while
  • Zach  - Rob's middle son . Good kid! 
  • Nate - well, of course you know Nate. I talk about him often. I could talk for days on his awesomeness but let me just say he's my favorite youngest son!
  • Marcus - My favorite oldest son! Nuff said!
  • Uncle Joe and Gaye (in front of him) - He get his story telling skills from my grandpa. He was the uncle who always had the silly stories. You can count on him to tell some off-color, un-politically-correct joke or story in any setting. You can count on Aunt Gaye to always have the yummiest alcoholic beverages to drink. 
  • Danny - My cousin Corrie's husband. Don't know him well but always gives a great big hug when I see him. 
  • Uncle Jim and Aunt Darlene (in front of him) - He's my mom's middle brother and just an all around great guy. An awesome hunter and while he's not a teacher, he has taught Marcus a lot about taking care of animals. Aunt Darlene is a goof and an airhead, except she's not. She's just always laughing and it easy to pull pranks on!
  • Corrie - She's my closest (in age) cousin. Only 17 hours older than me and we share a middle name. She's a fun girl, a great hunter, and has some real style sense. 
  • Grandma - I don't know if there's words to tell you what a wonderful woman she is. Caring, kind, giving, generous, full of energy even at 80 years old. She used to drive to Colorado to pick us up every year, bring us to Oregon for a few weeks, and spoil us rotten. 
  • Tara - My sister. We fought like crazy when younger but I now count her as one of my best friends. 
  • Luke - my brother-in-law. Fair, honest, and quiet. Law enforcement is a perfect fit for him. A wonderful uncle to my kids, husband to my sister, and I'm proud to have him in the family. 
  • Liam - my favorite nephew. This kid is quirky, goofy, and intelligent. He knows random facts about random things and can remember things better than an elephant. 
  • Moving to those seated (left to right): Owen, Bobbi Jo, and Brian - Bobbi is my cousin and this is her family. Bobbi Jo was always the "cool" older cousin. Beautiful, thin, and I wanted to be just like her!
  • Ty - In a family full of girl cousins, Ty was the only boy. What a goof! Nuff said!
  • Max, Josie, and Sam - Corrie's kids. Max has to rank up there as one of the best big brothers ever. Josie and Sam are the cutest twins I've ever seen!
  • Paige - my favorite niece! Awnry, competitive, and tough but completely awesome! 
And now you know what I'm thankful for. 

Here are a few more photos from our trip:

Much to Tara and I's surprise, Grandma left all the cooking to us while she went elk hunting. We arrived at her house in the morning to get started and she'd left us a nice little note. She indicated where the pots and pans were, what temperature to cook her stuffing, etc. As we read on, we noticed Grandma had also included some funnies:
  • vaccuum?
  • Dust??
  • Clean Toilets?
  • Have a hot toddy ready when I get home??
Funny Grandma!

Mom with her brothers. Joe on the right is the oldest,
 Jim on the left is the middle kid, and mom is the youngest.

Four generations in this photo and a whole lotta awesome!

As you leave Grandma and Grandpa's house, you pass Turtle Rock.
We stopped so Liam, Nate, and Paige could pose for a photo!
Hines Park has the best playground ever. The weather was gorgeous so
we stopped to play. Here Marc and Zach teeter-totter (after promising not to
jump off and hurt eachother lol)

The Park boasts an awesome really tall slide that every kid wants to slide on.
Here goes Nate. 

All three boys pose for a photo
 Ok, now I have to brag a little. My mom and Kim live in a very small community. Last year, they identified a need in the community to provide meals to the needy. Being a small community, there isn't a mission or a food bank per se. So they applied for a grant and began cooking meals once a month for between 100 and 200 people. This year, they were awarded a grant that will enable them to feed people twice a month. Sunday after Thanksgiving was their day. On Saturday, they asked Marc and Rob to help out prepping the food.

Marc and Rob cut up enough meat to serve stroganoff to 150 people. I made brownies. Mom and Kim did everything else. Marcus actually enjoyed it.

Marcus helps with the HC Chuckwagon, feeding those in need. 
I'm proud of mom and Kim for taking this on. 

Hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving, surrounded by friends and family!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Powered by Orange

Marcus loves Oregon State University Beavers football so imagine my excitement when a friend offered me her two VIP tickets to Saturday's game! The Beavers were playing the Utah Utes and it was the Beavs' homecoming. 

Marcus has been to one game - two years ago, I scored tickets from a friend who holds season tickets but I haven't had a chance to take him back. 

My friend told me these were VIP tickets....this would be a different experience! 

It's a 4 hour drive to Corvallis so with tickets in hand Marcus and I left around noon for the 7:30 game.

We arrived at Reser Stadium around 4:30. Fans were gathering outside and there were many activities to keep you from getting bored until the "gates" opened. This was a "black-out game" so rather than a sea of orange, it was a sea of black with spots of orange.

We made it in time for part of the Beaver walk. We got to watch the band up close. They were really good!

We also saw the cheerleaders. Marcus was pretty thrilled to see them "up close" but then he asked me why they looked so scary. I laughed when I realized they had on more makeup than a drag queen. I explained when you're out there performing and the cameras are on you, you have to put more on than usual.

Our seats were in an upper level on the 10 yard line. They were covered (which was a good thing because it rained like crazy in the second half!)

Our tickets gave us entrance into the "Club Lounge" where we were treated to free food, drinks, arcade games, etc. There were big screen tvs everywhere. You could watch the game from in here or outside - there was no way Marcus was letting me sit in here.

Inside the lounge, it was like a big cocktail/football party.

Below Marcus stands outside watching the players warm up. I didn't get a picture but our photo would be shown later on that screen behind him while we were screaming O - S - U and acting like crazy fans with the rest of the folks in our row. 

We had perfect seats and a perfect view of the Beavs first touchdown! As you can see, the guy in front of us was waving his hand (or his finger) in excitement. It was a great game and the Beavs won 21 to 7!
It was a great time and I'm thankful to be able to take Marcus. It was awesome to have some quality alone time with him and be able to visit all the way there (he slept on the way back). 

When he gets older, I hope these are the things he'll remember!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Makeup Junkie

I come from a long line of natural beauties - women who look great with little to no makeup on. Women who embrace the simplicity of a coat of mascara, a swipe of chapstick, and out the door they go.

That is definitely not me! Early on, I fell in love with makeup and beauty products - attracted to all the colors and dazzled by all the promises (look younger, look like a bombshell, achieve that sexy look, blah blah blah).  It's not unusual for me to have at least a dozen eyeshadow quads to choose from (although really I only use one), two dozen or more lip glosses (lip stuff is my weakness), and tons of nail polishes. I collect lotions the way some collect knick-knacks and collectibles.

So when I learned of a "of-the-month" club that gives you beauty samples, it seemed a perfect match. I signed up for Ipsy's Glam Bag. Once a month, they promise to send me a bag full of deluxe sized samples (and some full-size products) of  higher-end products. It's only $10 a month and my rationalization is that I'll quit drinking $4 coffees 2-3 times a week.

I've waited rather impatiently for my first Glam Bag and it finally arrived. In a bright pink, foily shiny package!

Here's what it looked like:

Each bag has the same products but the colors may change. I ended up with:

  • Coastal Scents Eyeshadow Quad - I had hoped for the "browns" but I ended up with yellow (WTH??), teal, dark gold, and golden olive. It's a nice sized sample. If I used it every day I bet it'd last about a month or two. Perfect for a season. 
I tried it this morning, not really sure if yellow and green were my color. And honestly, I found myself feeling happy I didn't have lunch plans with my good friend Stacy. Nothing against Stacy but I think the only times I've attempted a color other than brown (like say blue), I've gone to lunch with her and she's asked me incredulously whether or not I'm actually wearing blue eyeshadow. ha!! So here it is:

I have no idea why it looks like my eyes don't match...we'll call it lighting. And I discovered that while I love makeup, I don't want to look like I'm wearing a TON of it so not sure you can even tell I have it on. I'll have to try it again and go for a more "makeupy look." That said, my review of this shadow is that it went on really really nicely and the colors were true (except I barely put any one). I'd consider buying this product in a different color). 
  • Be A Bombshell Eyeliner in Onyx - this liquid eyeliner is a pretty big sample. My review? The tip looked like one of my son's Crayola markers but I loved it. I'm definitely going to use it for a date night or something when I want more dramatic look. I was very happy that it went on thinner for my daytime look. It went on smoothly. I think I'd buy it. 
  • theBalm "Body Builder" mascara -My review? I wasn't impressed. I'll stick with my drugstore brand. I didn't like the brush and I think it made my eyelashes look weird. 
The bag also included:
  • Mirenesse Lip Bomb Glossy Lacquer Stain - Oh be still my heart. Lip stuff! I ended up with a "brighter-than-I'd-normally-wear-pink-color." This was a full size product. My review? I'm not sure yet. It's not a lipstick or a gloss, it's more like a stain. The color is true and it goes on nicely. It's hard because I really don't think I care for the color and that's my hangup. I don't think I'd spend $28 for this.

  • Pequi Oil Treatment - this product says it'll make my hair 6x stronger. My review? It smells WONDERFUL and made my hair super soft. It's an oil but doesn't make my hair feel oily at all. I'd probably buy this. This was a good size sample. I think it'd last a few weeks if you use it every time you fix your hair. 
My review of my first bag overall - a really fun treat to myself for $10. I think I'll stay subscribed a bit longer and see how it goes. It might be a great way to try out some things I wouldn't normally try for little cost. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Oh Skid Row...I Remember You

Last night, I tortured my oldest son with Rock of Ages. You know...the musical featuring all that great music from the 80s. Back when rock was rock and hair was big and the boys wore more eyeliner than I did.

"Was it a good movie," you ask?

"Well no," I'd say, "but I did know the words to every single song." I could even tell you the name of most of the songs in 4 notes or less and who sang them.

It was easily 30 seconds into the movie the first time I caught Marcus rolling his eyes as I sang along to Sister Christian. Where you goin' what you lookin' for......motorin' what's your price for flight....

Unfortunately, it only took 30 seconds for me to realize the movie folks had done a horrible job casting for the movie. Julianne Hough was the most un-rock-n-roll-like person and her voice was all wrong. I thought by the end maybe she'd be a little more Joan Jett, Lita Ford, Pat Benatar or Patty Smyth but nope, she was still too country/choir girl (and might I add a horrible actress).

Never the less, the music was good and I wanna rock

So despite the awful acting, the bad character casting, and a few factual errors (like the movie is set in 1987 but at least two of the songs I know weren't released till later (I Remember You was 1989 and More than Words was 1990), it was an enjoyable movie that led me down good ole' Memory Lane so without further I go again on my own.

The Hair
I embraced the big beautiful hair of the 80s and held onto it for dear life until about 1993. Here I am in 88 (the closest picture I could find to the movie which was set in 1987).
My hair doesn't perm well but curls weren't the objective...damage was. Damage was the only way I could get my hair to go as big as I wanted. Big bangs and "wings" - holding the sides of my hair away from my head, spraying with good ole' AquaNet then blowdrying it to crispy goodness.

The Music.
Where do I start? Well at the beginning...the first song I remember rocking out to was Talk Dirty to Me...Poison of course! It was rebellious (dad forbid me to listen to it). Everyone else in my family loved country but I wanted more! You know you never act the way you should but I like it...

It's really really hard to just focus on one or two songs but bear with me.

I can't fight this feeling any longer and yet, I'm still afraid to let it flow. Not one of my favorite songs but considering it was my first "song" with my first "boyfriend" - it deserves a little recognition. Ben and I met at hunting camp right before the start of school my freshman year. I was moving from 8th grade to freshman and I was growing up. Ben was a senior. We shared our first kiss under the stars on a four-wheeler, worrying that when we got back our parents would know we'd been "making out." Our relationship lasted an entire year and marked a couple of milestones. For example, the first time I snuck out. Or the first time I told my parents I was staying at a friends house (I got busted before I even made it to Ben's house, no worries, I'd try it again my junior year). Ben broke my heart right before prom when he left me for what's-her-name. I  avoided school for days - heartbroke and lovesick.

Well you're a real tough cookie with the long history of breaking little hearts...I can't be the only girl who danced around her bedroom singing this anthem. No boy was going to break my heart. I was tough. Hit me with your best away!!

Man, I could list all the songs but I'll stop with a trip to Paradise City. Take me down to the Paradise City where the grass is green and the girls are pretty. ...Gotta love me some Guns N Roses.

The Boys
Here's where my real obsession lies...with the boys. Who didn't have posters of their favorite rockers wallpapered across their walls!

Bon Jovi - Slippery when wet! I have to admit he's even yummier now!!!! Still a crush!

Bret Michaels - please talk dirty to me! Ok, actually don't. When I see you now, I just think STD.

David Coverdale - please don't go on your own - take me with you! Looking at him now though I think maybe he only made the list because he was rich and famous and I really liked his song!

Vince Neil - he's my Dr. Feelgood. Of course to look at him now I think he made one too many visits to Dr. Feelgood but damn, back when he looked good!

Sebastian Bach - He was one of my favorites. I had the most photos of this gorgeous guy...yummy. - I remember you....back when you looked good. Instead of washed up.

You know, looking at this list, I have to wonder what I was thinking. And I'm sure glad that all those daydreams didn't work out or right now I'd be married to a washed-up rocker. 

Unless you mean Bon Jovi...please God, there's still time.......

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Little Spookiness

With Halloween just around the corner, I thought I'd share a little spookiness with you. 

A couple of weekends ago, I "stumbled upon" a cemetery outside of Lakeview. We had traveled to Lakeview for a football game (we won!!!). Normally we drive from Klamath Falls to Bonanza then Bly then Lakeview. On the way home we decided to add an extra 30 miles and travel through Alturas, California. I was excited to see some new country. Not far from Lakeview, I spotted an old cemetery up in the trees. It was the New Pine Creek Cemetery so I pulled the car around and decided to check it out. 

The villige of New Pine Creek was established before 1876 and is the oldest community in Lake County. I'd never even heard of it. There's a stream named Pine Creek but according to historians, postal authorities required the town be named New Pine Creek. On this day, nothing in town was open so when I got home I logged on to see what I could learn online. . . not much. 

However, I did learn that the Church was built in 1886 by John Sutherlin, a gospel preacher from Missouri. His daughter, Martha Alice, married wagon driver Johnny Henderson and is buried at this cemetery. Had I known this before my trip, I would have looked for her marker. 

Also, somewhat interesting, is the fact that because of a survey mistake, the California/Oregon border goes right through town. As a result, there's some peculiar things. The 250 residents are split between Californians and Oregonians. California side residents carry drivers' licenses with Oregon addresses because the town's post office boxes are on the Oregon side. It's said a preacher overseeing a wedding once moved the ceremony to the middle of the street because his license was only good in Oregon. You can read more here

Back to the cemetery. I sometimes worry that I'm a freak - I love an old cemetery. I like to walk around and find the oldest tombstones - dating back to the 1800s. I usually walk around wondering what life was like back then. Sometimes a marker will give me pause - like an infant or a child. And sometimes markers just make you think. 

When I first entered the cemetery, I noticed this marker:
Mr. Coring lived from 1871 to 1957. I thought his marker looked a little sad. I hoped to find information on him but internet searches resulted in no information. 

Then I found this one. I'm not sure what the name is. The name and date are scratched into a rock. It says Died October 1, 1889. According to the information online, the last name is Olahil. I cannot find any information whatsoever. Frustrating. But it makes you wonder. When was this person born? Did they have any family? 

The marker above is primitive, likely homemade and there were several to be found in this cemetery. Some were just plain rocks with no dates or names whatsoever. Then of course, there are the ones that were big and demanded attention. The one below is an example. It was white, large, and said, "Someone important is buried here." The little fence around it made me wonder what they were trying to keep out. Critters? Unwanted buried neighbors? 
Of course, me being me, I had to do a little research. I learned that before WWII, ornate iron fences around gravestones (usually family plots not just individual) were common. They helped keep the critters out. During and after WWII, as iron was used for war purposes, these fences became less common. 

The other thing I noticed was that on many of the older markers, they put the person's age at death exactly. For example in this one above it says he was 59 years, 10 mos, and 22 days. There were some that even had the hour. I also noticed this one because of the mason symbol at the top. Rob is addicted to history/mystery shows and in my opinion, they can all be summed up by one thing...if it's a mystery that involves history, the masons are involved. It's a conspiracy....shhhhh! 

David H. Hartzog lived from 1847 to 1907. Finally, someone I could google. According to this genealogy page, Mr. Hartzog is a prominent figure in Lake County. He was a native of Tennesee. His father was a soldier during the Civil War. During the last part of the Civil War, David fought for the Union Army. He was a private with the 43rd Regiment E.M.M. Interesting note about the regiments, each regiment was on its own. It received no support from the feds, no rations or even weapons. In Missouri, the E.M.M. was self-sustaining. Total time in service was 6 months to a year. 

He was the judge of election when it was voted to establish Lakeview as the county seat. He served four years as deputy sheriff. He was a member of the Masonic fraternity of Lakeview and a devout Baptist. 

Pretty interesting! I wish there'd been a neat old picture of him somewhere out in cyberspace but no luck!

All this research and talk of cemeteries has prepared me for our community's annual Night at the Cemetery - a tour of the Linkville Cemetery which was started in 1885. I've not spent any time at this cemetery but I can't wait to learn some about the early pioneers!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

ABCs and 123s

There's nothing like new clothes, a crisp September morning, and yellow school buses to bring back memories.

As a kid, I loved school and the first day was no exception. It was a day to be celebrated, honored, and cherished. I'd wake up early to the smell of bacon, eggs, and pancakes - knowing my mom was in the kitchen making our favorite breakfast. I'd spend the morning making sure my hair was fixed just right and that my clothes were the perfect fit. My friends and I would meet up in front of my house and walk to school - full of energy, excitement, and looking pretty in our new clothes. Animatedly, we'd discuss very important things...who had moved away? Who had moved in? Was that annoying boy in our class? What would the lunch lady be serving? Would our teacher be nice? The night before, I'd have tossed and turned - mulling these same questions over and over in my mind.

I chuckle each year as I watch my boys go through the same things.

Nate with his 3rd grade teacher. 
This year, Nate is a third grader. Nate loves school. He does his homework right when he gets home. He takes pride in getting A's. He loves to write stories, do math, and read books. He's a social butterfly who loves to play with friends at recess and has waited anxiously all summer to be able to spend lunch with a buddy.

His biggest worry was his teacher. For 1st and 2nd grade, Nate had an amazing teacher - Ms. Campbell. Ms. Campbell was every parent's dream. She made learning fun and I firmly believe she is the reason Nate loves school and succeeds. Ms. Campbell was perfect for this kid - she knew how to take control of her classroom (and my little goofball) while encouraging silly senses of humor and curiosity. She helped us with the divorce - encouraging Nate's dad to become involved in the classroom, emailing me when Nate was having a rough day, and making sure both me and my ex were aware of what was happening. To say Nate and I would miss Ms. Campbell is an understatement. Needless to say, our fingers were crossed we'd have another amazing teacher.

The year is off to a great start. We walked into Nate's new classroom to a smiling, energetic woman who quickly introduced herself. When Nate shook her hand and introduced himself, she mentioned many great things she'd heard about him. They visited a minute and as I walked out, Nate whispered in my ear "It's going to be a really great year mom, I just know it!" Aww, my heart melted!

Marcus and Martin, sophomores!
Now Marcus is a sophomore. Wow, how that time flew! It's hard to believe that in no time, he'll be out on his own. While I usually try to focus on the present, I can't face sophomore without acknowledging that time has gone by faster than I wanted and his senior year will be here before I know it. Listening to his plans for the future take on new meaning. Instead of dreams, they start to take on shape - forming into a possibility that may become a reality.

Marcus has never really cared for school, other than the social aspect of it. He's one of the smartest kids I know. . . able to figure things out, memorize facts, and accomplish nearly anything. He just doesn't care for schoolwork, books, or paperwork.

He did tell me he was excited for school this year. I'm hoping he has some teachers that are able to engage and motivate him. Since he was 8 years old, Marcus has dreamed of joining the military and becoming a police officer. I was surprised this summer when he began considering other options. He's now wanting to become a wildland firefighter. His dad is a firefighter. My mom has been involved with wildland firefighting through helitack crews. He loves the outdoors and wildlife. He's athletic and strong - it could be a wonderful fit for him.

In the photo above, he poses with his good friend Martin. Martin also dreams of being a wildland firefighter and it's not hard to imagine both boys making that dream a reality. Martin's a good kid and that means a lot. He's respectful, motivated, and just an all around good guy. When your kid is a teenager, you worry about peer pressure and I believe having friends who are good is important - the kind that encourage the right decisions. Sending your kid into a high school is some scary business!!

My kids are both at school right now and I can't wait to get home and hear about their day. Listen to them tell me the highlights while we enjoy warm chocolate chip cookies and a glasses of cold milk (a family tradition). And I'll try not to think about how fast life travels as your kids grow up!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Oceanside Memories

Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city," said George Burns

 and I couldn't agree more! I say I agree with ole' George but it's not because I don't love them. I think living away makes me appreciate them more. I cherish the time we get together. Plus I'm close enough to visit but far enough away to (usually) not get pulled into any drama. 

Last spring, my sister, my dad, and I all made plans to take a vacation to the beach together. 

My dad is a workaholic. He lives in New Mexico with Katie and literally a year or two will go by before I see him sometimes. However, I talk to my dad 3-4 times a week. We discuss books, movies, traffic, or whatever else is on our minds. I love my dad and have mostly considered myself daddy's girl. As an adult, it has been difficult to accept that I don't see him more. I used to take it personally that he couldn't find time to vacation in Oregon. I've learned that my dad just rarely vacations so this trip and commitment from him was a big deal!

My sister lives just four hours away in a small Oregon town. I see her fairly often - probably 5-6 times a year. We were NOT close growing up. As a matter of fact, I'm often amazed that I consider her one of my best friends now. And I adore my niece and nephew. We try and "trade" kids during the summer. This is the first year my boys haven't gone on a camping trip with her. 

The boys and I haven't had a vacation together in the past year. Divorce made my finances tight and it's been difficult so I was excited to have a few days with them away from home. We loaded our suitcases into the car, turned on the tunes, and headed out for the Oregon coast. 

It was during the journey I quickly realized what a beautiful state we live in. We started in the southern part - good ole' Klamath Falls. Our area is high desert - it's not as green as most expect Oregon to be. We have mountains and pine trees and 363 days of sunshine a year. We're surrounded by lakes and rivers. 
You leave the high desert and Hwy 97 to head towards the valley. The drive over Hwy 58 is gorgeous. Lots of green trees and waterfalls. 
You arrive in the Willamette Valley and marvel at the open-ness of the farmland, lush and green. Plus this is where our state begins to become populated. Large urban areas - Eugene, Salem, Portland. This part of the state is home to many vineyards. 
And then of course, we got to Hwy 101. A windy road with the most gorgeous views you'll ever see!
The kids and I decided we wouldn't hurry. We'd stop wherever our hearts desired. Our first stop? Five Guys Burgers and Fries (I have boys, what can I say?). We'd heard people rave about this burger joint. When you walk in your treated to some peanuts. The kids thought this was cool and it helped keep the little one busy while the line was long. 

Their menu isn't extensive - burgers, fries, and hot dogs. But their lineup of toppings was a mile long. It was easier to tell them what you didn't want than what you did. I liked that they had a sign telling you where your potatoes for the french fries were grown. It was yummy. 
After stopping for lunch, the boys opted out of any adventure. Their bellies were full and they were ready for a nap. I asked where they wanted to stop next and their answer was - Rockaway Beach - our destination. 

We arrived at roughly the same time as my sis and dad did and the fun began. The car doors hadn't opened when the kids were begging to walk the beach. We all spent a few minutes hugging before heading out. Last time Katie had seen the kids Nate was in diapers. Marcus was shorter than my dad (by alot). 

We spent three days on the beach. Building sandcastles. 


Flying kites

And just hanging out enjoying time with eachother.

The beach is one of my favorite places on earth and I love all the sights that go with it. Beautiful blown glass artwork, flowers in bloom, funky painted birdhourses and gadgets that grab your attention.

We ate well. Crepes made at the Creperie.

Taffy pulled at the local candy store.

Blackberries picked from overgrown vines.

We attended a very "un-bonfire" hosted by the local chamber of commerce and "enjoyed" local musicians:

We visited tide pools and learned about the animals we saw there:

We watched glass blowers create works of art
 We posed for photos on the beach
 And built campfires in the sand
 Roasted marshmallows on the beach
 Stumbled across wildlife in unexpected places

But best of all and most of all, we created memories.