Monday, April 29, 2013

Gather 'Round the Campfire

Fishing opened at Topsy Reservoir this weekend and after spending the winter bundled up and cooped up, we were all ready for some outdoor fun. We packed up our fishing poles, some wood for a fire, our camp chairs, and headed out Saturday evening for a little cat-fishin'.

Let me share my weekend with you in highlights:

On Friday, Nate's school hosted a free movie night in the gym. To celebrate his new bunkbeds, he had a sleepover with two good friends. We went to the movie then came back to play legos, bey blades, and army guys.
The boys wait for the movie
On Saturday, the boys woke up early and the weather outside was beautiful. I took a bunch of old blankets that were headed to the Goodwill and fashioned a "fort" in the backyard. It was the perfect place to "hide from the Zombies" or so I'm told....

Hiding from Zombies

We have a new addition to our family right now. Marc found this cute stray dog in the woods. We've had the dog listed on craiglist, facebook and several other places but so far no owner. For now "Drake" is with us.

Drake - the newest addition to our house

Nate and I headed out to pick up snacks for our fishing trip and we were surprised to see the Oscar Mayer wienermobile in the parking lot!

Nate and I pose in front of the weinermobile
 We headed to Topsy on Saturday evening and it didn't take long for Marc to catch a catfish.

Marc's catfish
 Nate tried but without luck:
Patience Nate Patience;) 
 Our family friends joined us.

Mike and Morgan
 The reservoir was beautiful and peaceful (till our crew arrived lol)
 To help celebrate Marc's birthday, several of his friends joined us. These boys love fishing!

From left: Marc, Joe, Donnor, Philip, and Cody
 Of course, it gets better when the sun goes down. It's time for smores!!

Nate gets ready to roast a marshmallow

It was a great weekend! Now it's back to the grind!

As I head into this week, I'd ask for your prayers. My family could really use a few. He'll know what for:)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Pretty Freaking Amazing

Last night, my cell phone rang with an unidentified number. My heart fell as the caller on the other end identified himself as Officer Mayes with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and asked me if I was Marc's mother. My heart pounding, I managed to squeak out a yes while I quickly and silently prayed that everything was okay. 

You see, yesterday afternoon, Marcus had asked to go turkey hunting with a friend and the friend's family. I reluctantly agreed. Coming from a hunting family, I know without a doubt that Marcus has been raised with safety first and understands the laws. But I'm momma first and my boys are my world so even with training and preparation, I say a little prayer of protection as he walks out the door. 
Marcus several years ago with his first antelope

I was in the kitchen preparing his birthday dessert (today Marc turns 17) when the call came in. After identifying himself, I ask the most important question....Is Marc okay? Officer Mayes tells me that he has Marc and his friend are in custody and my mind tries to register what he's saying to me. He tells me that Marc and his friend are accused of poaching. My mind races from "he's safe" to "he's in the biggest trouble he's ever been in, he knows better." I ask Officer Mayes what happened and he tells me that the boys have said they "found" the animals but the officer doesn't believe them. 

And that's when I hear it. Something in Officer Mayes' voice isn't quite right. I can't put my finger on it but there's something off. I suddenly feel as if I'm on candid camera as I tentatively ask, "Are you serious right now?" To which the "Officer" replies, "yes ma'am, I am." 

It's at that point I realize that Officer Mayes sounds remarkably like Marcus. The voice is a little deeper but there it is....the monkey lips....I hear them through the phone. 

As the reader, I'm sure you're asking what the heck are monkey lips and what exactly are you getting at? Well, Marcus is a lousy liar. Thankfully! When you're looking at him as he's telling a fib, his lips stretch over his teeth as he tries to hide his smile. His eyes open wide as he tries to make you believe what he's saying. 

And that's what I heard....Marcus playing a joke on his mom, I could see his monkey lips as he tried to keep a straight face. 

"Marcus," I said, "not funny!" even as I grinned, thankful he's okay. He started laughing as I told him he's lucky because he was about to be grounded for the rest of his life. 

(in case you haven't caught on yet, my son follows the laws, he was pranking his momma)

So today, Marcus turns 17. 

Me and Marc (on the right)
I woke this morning feeling a little saddened and maybe mourning that my 'baby' has grown up. I stayed in bed a few extra minutes remembering his sweet, chubby little smile. Thinking of the times he used to crawl up on my lap for a little extra cuddle time. Wistfully dreaming of the ages when all I had to worry about was whether or not he was sharing his toys. 

But my sadness quickly lifted as I took a moment to celebrate the young man he is. It's an amazing thing watching your children grow and we celebrate each and every milestone. I wrote down his first step, his first word, his first bite of food, his first haircut, his first day of school. As a parent, I see all the posts about babies, babies, babies.

Marcus in the middle with his cousins

But there's something entirely different about celebrating your children as they near adulthood. Instead of celebrating the "typical" - you start to celebrate the person, their being, who they are.

I recognize the things that make Marcus uniquely Marcus. His strength, the way he's dealt with some adversity, his generous spirit, his sense of humor, the way his mind works through things, and his quiet confidence. His ability to bring joy to the people around him. The way no matter what he'll work to make you smile. 
Marcus just a few months ago

The past 17 years have flown by and I'm often left wondering where time went. I admit sometimes I wish it would slow down, and that I could tell Marcus to proceed with caution. And that I could share with him all the things I've learned since I was 17. That he could learn from my mistakes and save himself any trouble or heartbreak. I've wished often that I could protect him from any adversity, any struggles, and any falls. But I also know he'll stumble and may even fall but all those times (good and bad) will make up who he is. And quite frankly, he's pretty freaking amazing!

Love you Marc! You're my favorite oldest son!

Monday, April 15, 2013

38 x 38 - Killed It!

Nearly 1,900 of us stood in the street waiting for the green light to begin the annual Pear Blossom 5k Run/Walk. The skies were a little gray and it felt like it might rain. It was a little chilly - 42 degrees. The crowd seemed to be buzzing with energy and anticipation. 
Do you see me there? In the front looking goofy. Look at all these people!

As I surveyed the crowd, I was surprised to see the mix of people - young, old, seemingly athletic, people like me (ahem, unathletic), big, small, short, tall. The one thing we all had in common though was a smile on our face and goals in our soles (haha, aren't I witty). 
It was early and the crowd hadn't arrived yet. 

Being a newbie to the walk/run thing, I was fascinated by the number of people. My first two (and only) 5ks had maybe 150 participants. This walk was a different animal and I was loving the energy. 

The signal came and this giant mass of people began to move slowly across the start line. I thought it would take forever for our turn to cross the mark as this cumbersome group attempted to make its way. Once our feet crossed the little rubber mat though it was time to work. 

I had three goals in mind:
  1. Beat my time from a month ago (1 hour 2 minutes and some seconds)
  2. Do NOT be last
  3. Make it in under an hour
Crossing the finish line, I thought of pacing myself. I think I tried. My legs were pumping and it really felt like I was flying. But then I'd see someone walking really fast and I'd start to get a bit discouraged. I just tried to focus on me and not worry about comparing myself to others but man, it's hard sometimes. I'd get passed by someone bigger than me and would think WTF! But I carried on. . . 

I quit worrying about everyone else and started to enjoy everyone's accomplishment. I watched old people who were set to complete it at least 15 minutes ahead of me. I watched little kids running with their parents. I watched moms pushing strollers visiting with their friends. I watched people bigger than me out there walking. And it was just inspiring!

As we came to the finish line, I knew I wasn't last but I didn't know my time. As soon as I stopped, my legs quickly let me know that I had pushed them a little harder than normal. They felt like jello! Stacy, Erin, and I posed for a couple of pictures:

So, now the important'd I do?

  • I definitely wasn't last. I came in number 1805 out of 1870. I'll ignore the fact that there were 1804 people faster than me and focus on the fact I was faster than 65 people. 
  • In my age group, I was number 144 out of 150. I'll pretend it's because I'm at the "upper end" of our age range...when the heck did that happen??? 
  • I came in under an hour! 
  • I KILLED my last time. Or at least that's how it feels to me. I was a full 5 minutes faster! I came in at 57.41 minutes. 
  • I averaged 18.34 minutes per mile. 
Cross that baby off my list....I killed it! :) 

Friday, April 5, 2013

A New 'Do!

It's amazing what a good haircut can do for your attitude!

I could bore you with some little "hairstory" but I won't. I'll just show you before and afters....

Before (obviously! LOL) - This was in January the day after a haircut.

I had asked for something with body, something fun, something youthful.

I got a mullet. I hid it as well as I could. It wasn't quite a mullet but I had wierd uneven bizarre layers at the top and then the bottom and back was long and thick and blunt cut.

I had decided to try and embrace my gray so the hairdresser put bleach in it.

Another before photo - same hair cut like the next day (after above) when I tried to curl it and make it lok better. Maybe slightly better. Sort of. I hated it.'s hard to tell in the above pictures but we cut about 6 inches off the length and added in layers. Yesterday, I wore it straight (the only thing I did to it was blow dry it, not too bad!)

Today I wore it a little curlier (my hair is stick straight so doesn't really ever curl")
Fun thing. . . two weeks ago, I decided to try and color it myself. I figured it couldn't be any worse than it was. So I had the lady at Sally help me pick a color that was close to my hair color just to blend the white/gray that's growing in front. That's shown in the after pictures as well.....not too bad huh? And it cost me $8 vs. $75.

With those kind of savings, I can buy some shoes! Do you love getting your hair cut?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Easter Blessings

Nearly my whole extended family lives about four hours from me. This means that for any given holiday, I'm expected to go there. I don't begrudge's the way it is. So imagine my excitement when my sister decided to come with the kids. Then my parents said they'd come to. And before I knew it my own grandparents were coming as well!

I waited all week for them to arrive and cleaned the house like crazy! They arrived in a whirlwind and seemed to be gone before I could blink but not before I could get some great memories made:

My beautiful niece coloring Easter eggs

Aunt Tara and Nate decorate the cake


Sprinkles on marshmallows....what could be better?

And of course sprinkles on cake

The kids decorated the Easter egg cake

Finding eggs!

Liam was upset the others found more than him so he wouldn't smile

After the kids found the eggs, they hid them for the adults:

Great Grandpa finds an egg

Great Grandma finds an egg

Grandpa finds an egg

I'm so lucky to still have my grandparents. They're in their 80s and still pretty active. Our family is what it is because of him and grandma!
Just a beautiful picture of my grandpa
 My mom is pretty amazing too and I'm so glad my kids are close to her.
Grandma, Marc, and Paige (Paige loves Marc)

Goofy kids!
 Oh, we have to talk food! I made Paula Deen's Asparagus quiche and it was AMAZING!!!!

Tara made colorful veggie salad....again, amazing!

Oh, and it was gone before I could take a picture but we made this orange croissant egg bake that was seriously one of the best things I've ever had for brunch . . . EVER! No photo but easy and you MUST try it!

Marc and Great Grandpa

The gang...

Monday, April 1, 2013

38 x 38 - Take the Kids to the Oregon Caves

Imagine for a moment the world has been invaded by aliens. Right now, somewhere in the world, there are thousands of alien pods waiting to wake up and take over the world. Think of what those pods look like. I bet they're dark and cavernous. Barely any light breaks through but there is just enough to "showcase" dark, menacing, slimy-looking pods. I'm guessing the pods are hanging from above and there's water dripping somewhere in the background and there's some standing water on the floor. You probably imagine holding your breath so you don't disturb those aliens. It might look something like this:

or this....

And as you get up close, the pod itself might look something like this...

It's probably dark, cold, and moist, with a terrifying echo.

I'm here to tell you there's a place just like that (minus the creepy aliens).....welcome to the  Oregon Caves National Monument! Friday, my sis and I took the kids to the monument and had a great time! Let me share with you a few of the most interesting things about our tour:

The road to the monument is full of twists and turns and switchbacks. . . just look at the map of the last 3 miles of the trip! Not good if one of your kids is prone to car-sickness AND your sister drives like a racecar driver.

The scenery up to the monument is beautiful. Lots of green moss, big beautiful trees, and a few waterfalls. 

When you plan your trip, the National Park Service warns you that the tour is moderately strenuous. I wasn't 100% sure what that meant but in laymen's (aka chubby person's) terms it means that if you want to see the caves, you'll need to be able to climb over 20 flights of stairs, walk up a hill (and back down), and stoop and twist while walking. I can tell you I was breathing hard at times but there wasn't a time I thought I couldn't do it. 

You will climb up stairs that look like this:

And go back down (you could also wait for everyone else to come down but if you've made it this far, just go up the darn steps!):

And before you even get to the caves, you'll have to climb a trail that looks like this:

Walk on stairs that look like this:

and this:

and then you'll come to the entrance of the caves:

Now, another thing to MUST go on a tour with a guide if you enter the cave. It's the rules. I hate this rule. Tour guides are boring. UNLESS! you get this guy:

This guy (above) is Chas Davis and he's made me reconsider my 20-year boycott on the tour guide. Entertaining, funny, and educational. He's a master of tour guidery! I think he's a mind-reader - he knew I loved history, he knew great kids stories for the little ones, and knew exactly the most interesting scientific things. I walked away thinking I was glad I took a tour! He's been there since 1981 so chances are if you go, you could get him to (I wonder if you can request a tour guide??) As a matter of fact, he was so entertaining the kids stayed up right next to him the whole way (or maybe they were afraid they'd get lost - at any rate, they liked him). 

Here's a few things I learned from Chas - 

The Caves were declared a monument in 1909 by President Taft, who by the way was so large that he wouldn't have been able to tour the caves.

The difference between a national monument and a national park?? A national monument can be declared by a president, while a national park must be declared by congress. Who knew??

The caves were "discovered" by Elijah Davidson who was bear hunting in 1874. His dog ran off into the caves. Being a great dog-owner, he went into find him and returned 2 hours later (with his dog, yay)!
No dog here but can you imagine going in here without a way!

Some of the work done in and around the caves were done by the Civilian Conservation Corps from 1934 to 1941. The CCC was a work relief program for young men that Franklin Delano Roosevelt established in 1933. It was a time when people desperatly needed jobs to feed their families.  Of the CCC, FDR once said, "We are clearly enhancing the value of our natural resources and second, we are relieving an appreciable amount of actual distress."

The concrete walkway we are standing on could have been built by the CCC.
Back before we knew better, cave-goers would take souveniers. Look at this picture, see where one is broke off on the upper left....that's where someone broke off a piece to keep. 

Looks like a picture of the inside of something disgusting! 
Early cave-goers would also leave their mark. Look at this photo closely and you can see the writing. This was a class of geology students from University of Oregon in 1884 who signed their names. 
Eventually you will not be able to see these signatures as they're slowly being covered up by the formation

Chas told us stories that enthralled the kids. Like the story of how this "Skier" found himself upside down in a snowbank....(you'll just have to use your imagination). 

 Anyway, I really do suggest watching for Chas and hoping you get on his tour!

Oh, another random as I wrote this blog, I wanted to "link" to the official website so I went to google to search and found something creepy....this article about the velociraptor spider that was discovered at the Oregon Caves.

Now, I can honestly say, we didn't see any critters and no spiders. However! I took hundreds of pictures in the caves and hoped they would turn out. It's dark and you can't see what your taking a picture of. Today, when I went through my pictures I found this:

There's a big gnarly spider!!

Ok enough's a few more photos from our trip:

If you go, let me know how your trip was!