Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Winter Wonderland

As I was driving to work one Friday morning I tuned my radio to 106.9, an all-Christmas radio station. It was still dark outside, the sky was clear, stars sparkling and it was so cold you could see your breath. While waiting for the traffic light to change the song "Winter Wonderland" came on and as I heard the lyrics, "Sleigh bells ring are you listening" ... in my mind I was right back on stage at Kennedy Grade School for the Christmas program ... probably in the 4th grade.
If you attended this school you are probably familiar with the math teacher who walked with a yardstick as a symbol of authority and threw chalk and erasers at students in his class. Most of us were terrified around him. He told us before the program started that ANYONE caught goofing off during the performance would be immediately removed from the stage.
Now ... if you attended Kennedy school or grew up in the neighborhood ... you'll recognize who I'm talking about in my flashback to the past. From kindergarten on this guy (I will not mention names!) was always in trouble and everyone was afraid of him as he got older. Several years ago we attended a church in a small community. One of my fellow grade school classmates was the pastor of one of the churches in town. His sermon was on David & Goliath and in his illustration he used this guy as an example of being afraid of someone bigger than you .... you see, he is a Legend in our school and in the NE community.
Well, as you can probably guess, this young student couldn't control himself during the program. He was on the back riser in the row behind me and all I remember is a hand coming through the back curtain pulling him by the neck off the stage. We knew the "math teacher" had him. We continued singing the rest of the song in perfect obedience ...
A beautiful sight, we're happy tonight. Walking in a winter wonderland ....
Hearing this song that morning brought a smile to my face as I continued my commute to work ... at an elementary school. How times have changed!

Monday, December 19, 2005

NaCl + H20 + Flour = Lasting Memories

This year we needed a "Christmas Decor" update that complemented our new furniture and wall color. I spent some time looking through catalogs, newspaper ads and various stores for a more sophisticated, uncluttered look. I am very pleased with the new look and simplicity. But ...
I have one priceless set that will always have a place in our home ... our Dough People Nativity. It didn't cost much ... some flour, water and wire brush rollers but it will always remind me of the fun and friendship that went into creating them.
In 1982 Nancy & I were both in our first trimester of our third pregnancies. With four preschool boys between us we spent a day in my kitchen molding and shaping each piece of our sets. It took a lot of creativity and problem-solving skills to get the set just right. Nancy developed a drinking straw-hinge for the camels legs and the palm tree had to be shaped over a foil base. Our "wooly" sheep looked like they had rolled in Cheerios and the kings were decked out in royal garb and jewels. The finishing touch was the "googley" eyes. I not only remember a lot of laughter that day but just the fun and fellowship of doing something together. And there was a bonus ... we actually sold a few sets which gave us some added Christmas funds in those lean years.
If you're ever cleaning out an old attic or see those old wire brush rollers at an estate sale, let me know. It would be fun to create another set for "old time sake."

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Sunriver Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving ... our first attempt at celebrating in Sunriver. What a wonderful time ... turkey and the works, making our traditional fudge, playing games, watching movies, putting puzzles together .... and the added bonus -- SNOW! I think it was the best family holiday I can remember -- our whole family together. Usually I am so busy on Thanksgiving and feel exhausted when it's over but this year we slept in and had homemade pumpkin waffles for breakfast. Since dinner wasn't until 4:00, I stayed in my pajamas most of the day ... very laid back. Most of our meal was "convenience" foods so we didn't have a lot of mess and preparation. We just enjoyed being together.
I'm so thankful for family & fun times at our favorite vacation destination.

P.S. It was very freeing to avoid all the Friday Holiday sales. I really didn't miss getting up in the pre-dawn hours to buy socks 1/2 price ... hahaha!

First Haircut

Grandma got to give Colin his first haircut last week ..... trimmed off those wispy baby hairs in the back and on the sides. He now looks so much older! We gave him a new Christmas book just before I started cutting. When you push a button "Jingle Bells" plays and this kept him distracted while Grandma snipped away. Several times he tried to look back to see what I was doing but all in all he did such a good job of sitting still. Of course, this event was a photo moment .... cameras flashing, film rolling!

Snowman Chair

Last Saturday we enjoyed a visit with Brian, Michelle, and Colin. It was fun showing Colin all the Christmas decorations and tree ornaments. One thing he especially enjoyed ... his own snowman chair ... a gift to us from Gearsdad and Gearsmom last Christmas. Thanks you guys ... Colin loves it!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Thanksgiving - Colin Turns One

Colin turned one on Thanksgiving Day. It's hard to think back to the previous Thanksgiving where we spent the 4-day weekend visiting at the hospital while Colin was in the NICU. Those were difficult days but what joy we have experienced as we've viewed life through Colin's eyes this year ... everything is new and exciting. I love being a grandma and spoiling this sweet baby boy!

25th Anniversary

While many are remembering the 25th anniversary of John Lennon's death my heart and mind have been on the life changing event that took place that same day in our lives ... Timmy was 3 weeks old and was taken by ambulance to Emanuel Hospital for Aspirated Pneumonia. For those who walked through that with us, you will remember what a difficult day that was -- to see such a tiny baby hooked up to so many machines, wires and tubes. I think I earned all my gray hair that day.
Last Christmas I typed a journal about the week we spent in the hospital and gave it to Tim as a gift .... so he'll always be reminded of the miracle. It was very difficult to go through the process of journeying through it again on paper but it was also very healing. I was reminded of the prayer, support and love of our friends and family. The one word that flows through the entire story ... MIRACLE ... Dr. Olsen said there was no medical explanation for why he was able to go home after one week. He should have been in the hospital for at least a month. BUT we know why!
Each December 8th I am a little sad as I mentally walk through that day so many years ago but one thing it does give me ... a thankful heart for Tim's healing.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

We finally went to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire tonight at Bridgeport Village. It was almost like a private showing … less than 20 in the audience in a huge auditorium … nearly like being in our own living room!
I was naughty and had popcorn for the first time in 8 months. It tasted soooooo good. There are so many foods I have missed while on this “eating plan” and every time I go to a theater the aroma calls to me. We’ll see how I do in the next few days!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

O Christmas Tree

Like many of you, we put up our Christmas tree this weekend. No designer tree for us … no special theme or color … it wouldn’t be allowed as an entry at the “Festival of Trees” … but this year I realized our tree is a travelogue of our lives.
As I hung each ornament in just the right spot I was reminded of those who have crossed my path on the journey. There were ornaments from: our moms, our children, our friends – the Petersons, Myers, Bisbees, Gearharts, Kusses, Dehazes, from the Bunco ladies, those I’ve worked with over the years – Rosetta at the D.O., co-workers in Food Service, Kitty & Michelle plus parents at Archer Glen, Nancy my Library co-worker and those in our church family.
Each ornament tells a story … a little about each of us … where we’ve traveled for vacation over the years, our interests and hobbies, a family celebration or accomplishment. But there are yearly traditions … Coca-Cola for Walt and Barbie for Karen. Gearsdad would be jealous because I have a Harley ornament hanging on our tree! I’ll have to remember to put that one up high and out of reach! And I definitely have to keep the snowmen away from Byron … just a warning to all you snowmen collectors!
A new change for our ornament placement this year was the addition of grandbaby Colin. We’ve left soft ornaments within his reach … our tree is “Colin-ized.” We want him to enjoy grandpa & grandma’s tree and the fun and beauty of the ornaments and lights.
I think I’ll sit back with a cup of tea and enjoy all the memories of those who have journeyed with us and the joy we’ve shared as a family represented by the ornaments on our Christmas tree.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Memories from Jergens

Have you ever thought about how scents can trigger a childhood memory?
Each time I pick my car up from an automotive shop I am reminded of my dad who worked as an auto mechanic for more than 35 years. The fumes and noises take me right back to when I would occasionally spend time with him at the shop on Saturdays as a child. I usually leave a little sad realizing how much I miss him.
On a recent trip to Target I stood in the cosmetic aisle trying to decide which brand of hand cream to buy ...
Will it make my skin feel smooth and silky? ...
Does it help with dry skin? ...
Which brand is the most economical? ...
Women have so many decisions to make!!
What did I end up purchasing?!?! ... Jergens Original Scent Cherry-Almond Moisturizer ... WHY? ... because it reminded me of my mom. It takes me back to a childhood memory of shopping downtown Portland with her on a sunny day, waiting for the bus in front of a jewelry store. There were amethyst-colored squares in the sidewalk that reminded me of jewels ... good memories.
The bottle advertises "This timeless formula leaves dry skin feeling touchable soft and smooth and wraps you in the cherished memories of our classic Cherry-Almond scent. Use it to provide your family with the same care and comfort your mother gave you."
Is this the best lotion on the market today?!?!? hmmmmmm .... I don't know .... but the Cherry-Almond scent fills my mind with good childhood memories!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

"Jewels" on the Journey

In the last week I feel like I’ve been living in a Carnival … one minute on the Scrambler getting bumped around, the next on a Roller Coaster with many twists and turns, and at other times like I’m on a Ferris Wheel with all ups and downs. I know – not many details – but trust me … the “Fun House” hasn’t been part of the midway attractions!
While the week has been stressful and draining I felt so uplifted by my Tuesday Bible Study group. I am so thankful for this group. I’ve learned so much from them as they each share their “walk” -- gives me the encouragement to get through my week. Yesterday they gave me a beautiful spoon wrapped with colorful “jewels” … if you read the “Spoon Theory” you’ll understand the meaning behind this. Of all the days – I really needed that yesterday. I am so thankful for how they have taken the time to read the story and understand the symbolism behind the spoons with my lifestyle and health. I have it on display in my home as a reminder to consider how I will “spend my spoons” each day. It is also a reminder of those who will hold me accountable, give support, love, and prayer. They are truly “jewels” in my life! Thank you ladies for lifting me up! My burden felt much lighter today.

3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us--they help us learn to endure. 4 And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. 5 And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:3-5 NLT

Friday, November 11, 2005

A Quarter-Century Memory ... Tim

Rewind back to November 14, 1980 ……
Our second baby was due on the 22nd but I had a feeling that day, maybe this little one would be coming early. After dinner we went to Fred Meyer to do a little shopping with Brian. I felt some cramping so we stopped by Walt’s parents’ house to warn them that “this may be the big night.” That’s where this picture was taken – 3 hours and 45 minutes before you were born. Shortly after arriving home my water broke and we made a frenzied trip to Woodland Park Hospital. I didn’t know our VW Bus was capable of moving so fast!
Just ahead of us a couple was walking in … her baby was already crowning and the emergency room Dr. had to deliver their baby. There was already excitement in the air when we checked in. Things were moving along but the nurses didn’t believe me when I told them I go from 5cm to 10cm in a matter of minutes. So, Tim, you added more excitement that night in the emergency room. Dr. Eigner came in to deliver his second baby in less than 2 ½ hours. I remember him commenting that it was a good thing he wasn’t an optometrist! He actually had been a missionary Dr. in Africa and had just returned to the States. He basically allowed us to participate in the birth …. it was amazing! At 1:19am, November 15th you were born weighing 6lbs, 7oz.
Dr. Neilsen arrived about 15 minutes later. What a surprise Dr.-- Eigner had been his college roommate and they hadn’t seen each other in years. They had a little “reunion” until 4am. Another unbelievable thing about Dr. Eigner …. In August my mom, Brian and I went to visit some of her former co-workers at a clinic downtown and one of the staff members I met that day was Dr. Eigner. Didn’t realize then that we would cross paths again in November for such a special occasion.
Tim, for our 30th anniversary you gave me a framed photo that listed several things I had taught you over the years. Now it’s my turn … Tim you have taught me to have a sense of humor, to laugh more often and lighten-up. When you were a little guy you had this twinkle in your blue eyes. Many times when I would try to discipline you I would have to turn my head away so you couldn’t see me laughing! You have brought us 25 years of love, joy and laughter ….Happy 25th Birthday, Timmy!

Healthy Holidays

Here I go again …. promoting something good for you. If you’re watching your cholesterol and/or waistline this holiday season you might want to give this a try. A ½ c. serving = 90 calories, total fat = 2g, cholesterol = 0mg. Walt has already been the taste tester for this product since he is an Egg Nog fan. He gives it two-thumbs up!
If you’re not into Egg Nog, we’ve also tried Silk Chai and Silk Mocha – both great products.
Here’s to healthier holidays …..

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Mission Impossible ... Mission Complete

I first learned to knit in elementary school through a 4-H group that met once a week at Ginger Navarro’s house. Her mother taught us a new way to cast-on and introduced us to several beginner projects.
It’s funny how my memory connects an event from my past to knitting. I remember when we got the call that my Grandpa Smith had died at age 54 from kidney disease. I was sitting in the dining area of our apartment knitting a project from our 4-H group using light blue yarn. I believe I was 9 years old. So many years ago …
During my teens and early twenties I picked up my knitting needles again and even learned to crochet. It wasn’t until I found out I was going to be a grandma that the desire to knit again came to mind. One of my co-workers, Pam helped refresh my skills and get me started again.
Since then I have completed several dishcloths, scarves, an afghan and a baby blanket. The baby blanket brought the most tears and grief but I struggled through it. September 2004 I bought some chenille cotton yarn with the intention of making a reverse-bloom flower washcloth. The humorous side to this story is that the pattern was from a knitting book titled, “Weekend Knitting “ … I laugh just thinking about it.
After failing to even get the project started Pam took the pattern to a knit shop in Lake Oswego and they told her it was an intermediate pattern (aha!) She knit one so she could help me get started – but it never happened.
During our annual Sunriver Memorial Day weekend getaway Heather decided we were going to conquer this project. She dictated the instructions and I knit. We even met at Starbucks after we got home when it was time to start the flower center – with Loree observing.
Well, as projects go … when it was time to transfer it to double-pointed needles and only 10 rows to go … it went back to the bottom of my knitting bag. I didn’t think I could finish it on my own. Then ever so often over the next several months Loree would bring it up … “have you finished the round thingy yet?” Finally last Thursday when I was home sick I made a decision to finish it. I’m glad there were no hidden cameras recording my first use of double-pointed needles. It was quite the comedy … stitches dropping off one end, trying to keep track of the beginning of a row. But much to my amazement I finished it and it turned out like it was supposed to! Yeah!
It’s always so rewarding to accomplish something we didn’t know we were capable of, to be stretched to learn a new skill. But the biggest lesson I learned in finishing this is how far we can go with the help and encouragement of others.
Thank you Pam, Heather and Loree for helping me finish this difficult project.
I still chuckle … Weekend Project ?!?!?! Maybe the next one won’t be so hard.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work.
Ecclesiastes 4:9

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Good Medicine = Good Movie

Since I’m home sick Walt bought me the DVD of “Father Goose” after I saw an advertisement for it at Fred Meyer in the Sunday Oregonian. If you grew up in the 60’s you may be familiar with it.
I remember seeing this in the theater with my friend Paula and her family. I loved it then and still enjoy it today. It’s right up there with “Parent Trap” and other comedies from that era. It’s one of those movies you can watch over and over and not tire of it.
The stars of this romantic comedy are Cary Grant and Leslie Caron and won a 1964 Academy Award for Best Story and Screenplay. During World War II South Sea beachcomber Walter Eckland is persuaded to spy on planes passing over his island. He gets more than he bargained for as schoolteacher Catherine Frenau arrives on the run from the Japanese with her pupils – all female -- in tow!

The next “oldie” I want to add to my collection is “Snowball Express” … a great Disney movie for all ages. Silly but fun!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Noritake Trilby

I was so excited to receive a long awaited package today. In 1973 I registered at Meier & Frank for our wedding. I picked out our china ... it seemed very expensive at the time and the pattern was discontinued soon after I picked it out but I loved it! Over the years I've had bits and pieces and nearly 6 place settings but no serving pieces or accessories. This summer as I was organizing the house I decided to start bidding on eBay to see if I could bring my collection up to 8 to 12 place settings.
Several weeks after winning the bid my package arrived today ... four 5-piece place settings and a large serving platter. It was so much fun to unwrap each piece... all in excellent condition. Makes me feel like having company!

Coming November 8th
Light From Heaven, by Jan Karon

If you're a Mitford fan, then this is exciting news. But on the other hand, the sad part is ..... it's the final book in the series. I love this town and all the characters ... I don't want it to end! If you haven't read this series I highly recommend it to you.

"All good things—even laughter and orange marmalade cake—must come to an end.
And in Light from Heaven, the long-anticipated final volume in the phenomenally successful Mitford Years series, Karon deftly ties up all the loose ends of Father Timothy Kavanagh’s deeply affecting life.

On a century-old valley farm where Father Tim and Cynthia are housesitting, there’s plenty to say grace over, from the havoc of a windstorm to a surprising new addition to the household and a mystery in the chicken house.

It’s life on the mountaintop, however, that promises to give Father Tim the definitive challenge of his long priesthood. Can he step up to the plate and revive a remote, long-empty mountain church, asap? Or has he been called to accomplish the impossible? Fortunately, he’s been given an angel—in the flesh, of course.

Light from Heaven is filled with characters old and new and with answers to all the questions that Karon fans have asked since the series began nearly a decade ago. To put it simply—it’s her best. And we believe millions will agree."

Maybe I’m Amazed …..

Last night we went to the McCartney Concert at the Rose Garden. We were able to buy tickets online in the spring …… thanks to Heather telling us about the presale. It sold out so quickly! We had enjoyed the 2002 concert so much that we wanted to go again.
It was fun to be a “people watcher” and take note of those who were attending. Many were my age or older … some with their adult children … some with their grandchildren … and a new generation of young fans. I only saw two people I recognized out of that huge crowd … both from the school district I work in. Our seats were great -- had a straight on view of the stage. We were the last row before the skybox seats so we didn’t have anyone behind us.
The concert started after 8 p.m. and began with the song, “The Magical Mystery Tour.” Paul played a mix of Beatle songs, those from the Wings years, and some from his new release. For a 63-year old he still has a great voice, youthful looks and enjoys what he is doing. Maybe next year he’ll have a “Will You Still Love Me When I’m 64?” tour!
One quote from Paul about aging -- "I think one of the things I like about getting older is you can free your emotions more." What kept coming to mind while I was sitting there listening to the music is that it has been 40 years since I went to my first Beatle concert at the Memorial Coliseum … wow we are getting older and we have journeyed through so many changes since then. Probably everyone has a Beatle/McCartney moment … a song lyric that takes you right back to where you were when you first heard it, or who you were with, etc. We “grew up” with these songs and performers. Later I will write more about that.
The concert didn’t end until nearly 11:30 including approximately 36 songs. You really feel you got your money’s worth going to this concert. I wonder how many more times he will tour.
On a humorous note …. It was amusing to see how many times someone got up to go to the restroom during the concert. I only made it until the 3rd song : ) One sign that we really ARE getting older …

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Spoon Theory

I'm home sick ... again ... the second time this week. I've had a sinus infection since last week and now I don't have much of a voice -- a requirement on my job!
Sunday I got an email from one of my Bunco friends and she forwarded a story to me titled, "The Spoon Theory." Since the website emphasized copyright issues I will only be able to share the URL address:

It's a great article about coping with Lupus but also gives insight into understanding those with chronic illness/disease. Even if you do not struggle with ongoing health issues It might help you consider how you spend your "spoons" each day.
On this windy, rainy day it's good to sleep, read, and enjoy a hot cup of tea!

Saturday, October 22, 2005


I have several knitting projects going on right now .... one a baby blanket and a scarf (not necessarily for anyone in particular) ... just for fun. I am trying bamboo circular knitting needles for the first time. They are awesome and I will have a hard time going back to plastic or metal needles. With Michael's and Joann's coupons it will make it more affordable to buy these. The advantages of using these include: uniform knitting gauge and a beautiful finish, gives smoother touch and smoother yarn feed. If you're a knitter, give these a try.


I have been involved with a women's Bible study since September. We have been using a study guide, "Becoming a Woman of Purpose" by Cynthia Heald. Last week our study was on God's Purpose: To Accomplish His Plan for Good. I loved the quote by Phillip Yancy ... "Faith means believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse." This helps me accept life from the perspective that ... no matter what I'm going through ... it all ultimately has meaning. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

Romans 8:28-29 NIV
28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

Creative Sketches

If you get a chance to buy Becky Higgin's new edition, Creative Sketches, it would be well worth the investment. It is packed with so many new and clever ideas plus layouts for as many as 15+ photos. I am so excited to get back on track with my scrapbooking ... this really got my creative juices going. I am stuck at Christmas 2003 and want to move forward. The 15+ photo layouts will help me pick up some speed. The next subject to work on will be the snow storm we had that December and January. I have enough papers and embellishments to do several blizzards!
I am hoping to work more scrapbooking time into my schedule before I get busy with the holidays.
Happy scrapbooking .....

Friday Fun in Sunriver

We just got back from El Burrito House in Bend. We had a wonderful dinner but feel like we ate too much. Walt ordered the tostada dinner and I ordered the enchiladas. We split them so we could try each plate. The food was so tasty! We highly recommend it if you are ever in this area.
What a gorgeous day we had today while staying at Sunriver. We’ve been sleeping in … reading and relaxing … going for long walks … sitting on the deck soaking up sunrays … enjoying the Jacuzzi. I could easily adapt to this lifestyle!
Today we walked over to the lot Sharon & Tim are building on. It took us about a half hour to get there. I brought my cell phone and called her at work as we took pictures of the construction to email to her. She was explaining the design and layout as we were walking through it. At this point it is only framed but it was pretty easy to identify the rooms and layout. It’s 3,000 square feet and includes 3 bedrooms w/bathrooms, a game room and a loft. Looks to be a good retirement home.
From there we walked to the Mall and my reward was to have an ice cream bar from Goody’s ….. Ol’ Nutty Marion ….. mmmmmmm! When we finished our return walk home I believe we had walked 5 + miles. This afternoon we spent some time sitting on the deck – it was almost too hot – can you believe that for this time of year.? I fixed a little “healthy” snack plate and we sat and read magazines while listening to Rod Stewart’s American Songbook #4 in the background. Walt bought it for me for our trip. It's very relaxing background music.
After relaxing in the Jacuzzi we got ready to head to Bend for a little shopping and dinner. We bought tennis rackets at Goodwill since we left ours at home … dang! That’s what our plan is for tomorrow … a beautiful day to play tennis and enjoy the sunshine!

Fall Fun With Colin

Grandchildren can make the holidays so much more fun. Earlier this month we went out with family and friends to the Lakeview Farm in North Plains. The weather was a bit cool but we hitched a ride on the farm train out to the patch, found just the right pumpkin, and rode their sternwheeler back to their country store. It has been ages since we’ve bought pumpkins. Without the kids around we had lost interest in some of our family traditions. My pumpkin is very small and I plan to carve it as a baby and put a pacifier in its mouth!
Last weekend we had a family “Harvest Lunch” with soup and cornbread. We spent the afternoon decorating our traditional pumpkin cookies and enjoying hot cider. This tradition started with a recipe my friend Barb gave me. Over the years our pumpkin faces have gotten quite silly but it gives us a creative outlet and they are quite yummy. Give this recipe a try and start your own tradition:

Pumpkin Cookies
4 c. flour
2. quick oats, uncooked
2 tsps. soda
2 tsps. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. soft margarine
2 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 16 oz solid pack pumpkin
1 c. chocolate chips or raisins
Assorted icings, peanut butter, candy corn, raisins, nuts etc. for decorating

Combine flour, oats, soda, cinnamon, salt; set aside. Cream butter; gradually add sugars; beat until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla. Mix well. Alternate additions of dry ingredients and pumpkin mixing well. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet and spread into circle shape. Bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 mins. After cool; decorate using icing or peanut butter to affix candies.

The Holidays are Coming ...

Even though I've seen Christmas decor in the stores for several weeks and have tried to avoid it, it is now officially noted when I found my favorite holiday tea on display at Fred Meyer: Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane Lane Decaf Green Tea. It is a blend of peppermint, vanilla and a touch of cinnamon and sweet blackberry leaves. Ahhhhhh .....
You have to buy it early and in bulk or you won't find it in any stores as the holidays approach. Sit back with a cup of tea and start making those holiday plans!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Feelings on Fall and Friendships

I love the colors of fall. The leaves change to the most vibrant shades of gold, rust, orange and yellow. Of course, they are falling and creating a lot of work but on a crisp fall, blue-sky day the picture is a beauty to behold.
I love the smells of fall. Spice, pumpkin and apple fill our home from the candles burning to cookies baking. The d├ęcor looks nice with our color scheme. Everything feels “homey” and relaxing.
I also love the smells as I shop for groceries …. dill fills the produce section and my memories of canning. My good friend and former neighbor, Barb taught me “Canning 101” in the late 70’s – early 80’s.
One August we drove out to Sauvie’s Island – both of us pregnant – Barb with two kids; I with one. We picked and picked and picked beautiful large peaches. When I carried my baskets up to be weighed and check out I found that I had spent our entire grocery budget for the week. Back then our budget was very tight. To justify this expense I remember thinking of all the creative meals I could put together with peaches as one of the ingredients….hahaha
For the next two days we canned at each of our houses giving the opportunity to “mess up” each kitchen and giving the kids new toys and yards to play in. We canned our peaches in syrup made from vetch honey. We would purchase it from a Bee Supply Co. over off 82nd & Halsey. The syrup was light allowing the fresh peach flavor to dominate. At the end of two days we had 80 quarts of peaches in our pantry. For the next few seasons we could enjoy the taste of summer.
It’s sad that after Costco opened in our area I quit canning. It seemed for all the work involved you could buy canned peaches in bulk for a fraction of the cost there. They don’t taste quite the same and also missing is the camaraderie of sharing time, skills and tasks with other women. It’s not so much about filling our pantries as filling our lives with rich relationships.
Today Barb & I have both moved to the Westside and still live relatively close by but our lives are filled with different schedules in this season of life. We both work full-time and are busy with our grown children etc. but we do keep in touch through email, at birthdays and Christmas. We may not have time to get together for canning and the other things we did when the kids were small but we can count on each other when in a crisis for prayer & support. Thank you, Barb for sharing not only your canning skills but for filling my “life pantry” with love, support and friendship.

Thursday, September 01, 2005


Labor Day Weekend 1977
September 1st … 28 years ago …. the day was much like today. It was a warm and sunny day. Walt and I were walking through Lloyd Center after leaving my OB-GYN office after a late afternoon appointment. Dr. Neilson decided that the next morning I would be induced at Emanuel Hospital due to symptoms of Toxemia. My due date was still two weeks away but my blood pressure was high and I was retaining a lot of water.
While we were both a little stunned with the news we went about the business of getting things in order for the big day. We had banking to do, checking our packing list for all those labor essentials, making sure the nursery was well stocked. We even took one last “sideways” picture of my rounded stomach!
As we left that Friday morning I remember thinking how our lives would never be the same when we returned home with our newborn in a few days. As any parent will tell you, our lives have never been the same since that day … sharing in your life has been an incredible journey, Brian. We are so thankful God blessed us with you in our lives.
Happy 28th Birthday, Brian!!

Monday, August 22, 2005


I'm at an age where yearly check ups with the Dr. become more and more important. I try to fit all of these appts. and tests in during the summer while I'm off work. Saturday I got my Lab test results back in the mail. I was so excited to discover that my Cholesterol is at 109 -- the goal being less than 200! It's good to know the gluten-free, dairy-free diet hasn't had an impact on my health in that area. When you're dealing with other health issues it's good to know there are other areas where you're doing well. I am so thankful for that!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

What We Cannot Lose

I have spent most of my summer break cleaning out cupboards, closets, drawers ... any place we have stored things in the home we have owned for more than 16 years. Over the past three summers I have spent most of my time recuperating from surgery or feeling drained from auto-immune disease. This was my summer of feeling great!
Some things have been hard to part with but, in most cases, it has been very freeing to "let go." The bonus came this weekend when we were able to fit our cousins' car in our garage while they were visiting from out of town. Anyone who knows us, knows this is quite an accomplishment!!! Being "Type A", I love seeing everything off the floor and organized on shelves.
A few weeks ago my devotion was on Psalm 92:12-15 .... about growing old. Growing old is about losses. We devote most of our early life to acquiring things ... things we will lose as we age. We lose our strength, our looks, our friends, our job. We may lose our wealth, our home, our health, our spouse, our independence ... but one thing we will never lose -- the love of God.
After I read this it made me realize that I am now in the season of life of letting go and I have never been good at "good-byes." It's comforting to know that "even to your old age, I am He and I will carry you!" .... this we cannot lose!
I haven't reached my goal of completing my entire house this summer but from all the trips I've made to Goodwill, the dump, and the hazardous waste dept. etc. it's made a difference and caused me to realize that I am now in a new season of life and reminded of what I cannot lose.
Only 3 more days remaining of my summer break and then back to work!

Monday, August 01, 2005

Gluten-Free Pizza

Finally.....gluten-free pizza....mmmmm! I remember whining about this in a previous post and then in July the Oregonian ran an article titled "Portland-area diners have gluten-free choices." Right on the list was Talarico's Mercato in Lake Oswego

We also specialize in creating DELICIOUS 100% Gluten Free pizzas!
ONE pizza: $17THREE pizzas*: $39(Save $5.00!)
All our Gluten-Free pizzas are 13 inches and can be frozen & shrink-wrapped to ship ANYwhere in the U.S.!*Half-baked pizzas available upon request.
* We can bake all the pizzas now and/or we can provide them to you so that you can freeze them for later...your choice!
We follow STRICT methods to insure that our pizzas are 100% gluten-free. If you have any special requests or questions, please don't hesitate to ask us.

I'm looking forward to checking out this restaurant soon. Guess who else was on the Oregonian list?!?!? Of course, WENDY'S ... wouldn't you know it! Wally's favorite place..... : )

Friday, July 29, 2005

Wallowa Lake

Today is Friday and we are nearly at the end of our Wallowa Lake camping trip. What fun to have hi-tech equipment to journal our week here as I sit under our dining fly with our laptop. We were able to get internet access at Embers Brew House in Joseph last night. We were their first internet customers. It was fun to check our email and look at some of our favorite blogs. It was hard to use the computer the entire hour because they brought us a delicious dinner while we were typing! We highly recommend the Veggie Calzone & Salad for two. It’s an annual tradition to eat there before the rodeo but with the internet access we will be spending more time there during our annual trip here.
We started camping here in 1980 as a family. Walt camped here in the late 60’s – early 70’s. Over the last 25 years we have had many different groups join us – friends, family, church family. We only missed a few years when Matt was born or we had soccer tournaments & family vacations to other destinations. But all in all – Wallowa is still on the top of our vacation list. We have had many disasters, car troubles, sickness etc but amidst all this – Wallowa is like coming home. I love rounding the bend to the lake and seeing the mountains, inhaling the smell of trees and campfire….. we have had so many wonderful memories & family bonding time here!
As last year, Tim and Matt were not able to join us. We miss having them here but our newest addition was having 8-month old Colin join us. He is a 4th generation camper in our family. He has been such a trooper! He has adapted well while not having his schedule or the conveniences of home. I believe I’ve even heard him say “Gma”…. but then Walt is convinced he can say “hot dog” hahaha!
The weather has been unbelievably hot. Tuesday was the only cool day that we did not go down to the lake. But it is always nice to have a day of rest! We did have a windblast hit our site at 6am Thursday. Walt ran out half dressed to save our dining fly from “lift off.” It was an extremely warm wind but caused some damage to our equipment. I don’t think we have ever escaped some kind of extreme weather situation during the week we are here. Last year we had a near “flash flood” during a thundershower. I have never seen it rain so hard. We couldn’t even see our neighbors through our dining fly. Well, it’s always good to have some good stories to hand down to the next generation.
Our newest campers to join us this year – the Fox family and Melissa. It has been fun to have them here. Bryce and Macy have filled the void of the past few years w/o kids here. We have had fun playing games and cards, go-cart rides etc. It has been a good trip for all of us to get better acquainted. It was very nice to have a hiking buddy. Lynn joined Walt & I on a short hike up to the waterfall on the Mt. Joseph trail. Maybe next time we’ll cross the “homemade” log bridge and continue on the trail. The bridge was washed out several years ago when a flash flood ripped through the Boy Scout camp and knocked the bridge out making it impossible to get across the trail. Someone put pieces of wood across to access the other side.
Our week has also included a “girls” shopping trip to Joseph, the rodeo, “guys” dam building, and floating on the lake on our “floaties.” So many great memories! It’s always fun to shop at Mad Mary’s” and “Simply Sandy’s.” I found the alarm clock I have been looking for in the last year for our guest bedroom. Yeah! I love the shopping up here. Good thing I can only shop once a year. Good thing I don’t work there – I would be broke!
I have had some great times of spiritual renewal. I can sit on my “floatie” and pray while looking at the beautiful scenery. So many things to pray about, especially for Bob as he faces many appts. for a lung tumor. Our biggest request right now is that it has not spread to the chest wall. I have also had some good devotional times. I read Psalm 103 and felt like I read it for the first time…even tho’ I have read it many times over the years.
“Praise the Lord, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all his benefits –
Who forgives all your sins
And heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from the pit
And crowns you with love and compassion,
Who satisfies your desires with good things
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

That was the theme for my week – to be reminded of how he has provided during unemployment, that he is continually working on areas of sin in my life, how he has healed me after surgery and during Lupus flares & anemia. Having spent time up here I feel renewed and even tho’ I celebrated a birthday here … I still feel young at heart – even physically, as I have kept up with the activities of this camping trip!
I am taking mental pictures of all that I love here. I have come to realize that I never know when my last trip here will be. I am thankful for another year to experience this!

A Praise!!!!! Walt found our AWOL digital camera....couldn't find it before we left for vacation. It was under the truck seat. Whew....we have been lost without it.

Friday, July 15, 2005


Now that we are empty-nesters things are a little more orderly, we're not as busy keeping up with schedules, appointments, sports events etc. but some days it's just a little too quiet around here. I remember listening to Chuck Swindoll on the radio each day when the kids were little and found this to be one of his most touching messages. I found this book out in the garage while we were going through storage boxes. I pass this on to new moms and dads as a reminder to savor each day. I know how there are crazy, frustrating days but looking back on this side of it....they were the best! As Chuck suggested at the end ... “Maybe we can baby-sit the grandkids and get some life back in this place for a change!” We finally did that and last weekend was our first babysitting experience with Colin. What sheer joy it was to have him here...definitely brought life to our place!

Copied from -- "Home: Where Life Makes Up It’s Mind" … by Charles R. Swindoll, 1979

SOMEDAY WHEN THE KIDS ARE GROWN, things are going to be a lot different. The garage won’t be full of bikes, electric train tracks on plywood, sawhorses surrounded by chunks of two-by-fours, nails, a hammer and saw, unfinished “experimental projects,” and the rabbit cage. I’ll be able to park both cars neatly in just the right places, and never again stumble over skateboards, a pile of papers (saved for the school fund drive), or the bag of rabbit food – now split and spilled. Ugh!

SOMEDAY WHEN THE KIDS ARE GROWN, the kitchen will be incredibly neat. The sink will stay free of sticky dishes, the garbage disposal won’t get choked on rubber bands or paper cups, the refrigerator won’t be clogged with nine bottles of milk, and we won’t lose the tops to jelly jars, catsup bottles, the peanut butter, the margarine, or the mustard. The water jar won’t be put back empty, the ice trays won’t be left out overnight, the blender won’t stand for six hours coated with the remains of a midnight malt, and the honey will stay inside the container.

SOMEDAY WHEN THE KIDS ARE GROWN, my lovely wife will actually have time to get dressed leisurely. A long hot bath (without three panic interruptions), time to do her nails (even toenails if she pleases!) without answering a dozen questions and reviewing spelling words, having had her hair done that afternoon without trying to squeeze it in between racing a sick dog to the vet and a trip to the orthodontist with a kid in a bad mood because she lost her headgear.

SOMEDAY WHEN THE KIDS ARE GROWN, the instrument called a “telephone” will actually be available. It won’t look like it’s growing from a teenager’s ear. It will simply hang there….silently and amazingly available! It will be free of lipstick, human saliva, mayonnaise, corn chip crumbs, and toothpicks stuck in those little holes.

SOMEDAY WHEN THE KIDS ARE GROWN, I’ll be able to see through the car windows. Fingerprints, tongue licks, sneaker footprints, and dog tracks (nobody knows how) will be conspicuous by their absence. The back seat won’t be a disaster area, we won’t sit on jacks or crayons any more, the tank will not always be somewhere between empty and fumes and (glory to God!) I won’t have to clean up dog messes another time.

SOMEDAY WHEN THE KIDS ARE GROWN, we will return to normal conversations. You know, just plain American talk. “Gross” won’t punctuate every sentence seven times. “Yuk!” will not be heard. “Hurry up, I gotta go!” will not accompany the banging of fists on the bathroom door. “It’s my turn” won’t call for a referee. And a magazine article will be read in full without interruption, then discussed at length without mom and dad having to hide in the attic to finish the conversation.

SOMEDAY WHEN THE KIDS ARE GROWN, we won’t run out of toilet tissue. My wife won’t lose her keys. We won’t forget to shut the refrigerator door. I won’t have to dream up new ways of diverting attention from the gumball machine…or have to answer “Daddy, is it a sin to kiss the rabbit goodnight? …or wait up forever until they get home from dates…or have to take a number to get a word in a the supper table…or endure the pious pounding of one Keith Green just below the level of acute pain.

YES, SOMEDAY WHEN THE KIDS ARE GROWN, things are going to be a lot different. One by one they’ll leave our nest, and the place will begin to resemble order and maybe even a touch of elegance. The clink of china and silver will be heard on occasion. The crackling of the fireplace will echo through the hallway. The phone will be strangely silent. The house will be
and calm…
and always clean…
and empty…
and filled with memories
and lonely…
and we won’t like that at all. And we’ll spend our time not looking forward to Someday but looking back to Yesterday. And thinking, “Maybe we can baby-sit the grandkids and get some life back in this place for a change!”
Could it be that the apostle Paul had some of this in mind when he wrote:
…I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am (Philippians 4:11).
Maybe so. But then again, chances are good Paul never had to clean up many dog messes.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Real Empty-Nesters

We are sitting at a coffee shop in Cannon Beach enjoying a delicious treat. What a wonderful anniversary getaway....reading, relaxing and enjoying each other's company. The weather has been overcast and a bit damp but this afternoon it cleared up and we sat on the beach enjoying the ocean view, good conversation and good books. Walked into the quaint town and spent some time in the shops.
We are officially empty-nesters. Matt moved to Seattle today and will start a new job and career with FedEx this week. While it was sad to see him go, we rejoice in his new adventure. Actually, as a parent we have been releasing him in small steps as he has matured/grown into a wonderful young man. But the mom-part of me is a bit melancholy.
The following reveals how my heart feels about my 3 boys and this new season of life:

Our Hands

May we tell you the intensity,
the excruciating joy of
participating in your life and watching you grow?

You are our favorite song.

On our life'’s list of accomplishments –
You are the finest.

Accompanying you to this place
has been our sweetest journey.

You have been the vast question
For which all our endeavors have been the answer.

As you travel to a place which
shall be your home our hands
meet in applause and clasp in prayer.
Our hands wave you on and remain
open -– an invitation to return
freely to this place where you
Learned to fly.

Mary Anne Radmacher

My boys will always be in my heart and prayers!

Monday, May 23, 2005

Personal Day Off

What a glorious day.....a day off....a three day weekend before the 3-day Memorial weekend. I used one of my personal days today and I still have one more before the end of the school year. I only have one more month of work until summer break.
It was nice to sleep in, read a book, read the Sunday paper....I usually don't get to do that until Tues. afternoon! I did a little coupon clipping. cleaned out my desk, and got caught up on my filing and paperwork.
While going through my desk I found a list for putting together an Emergency Preparedness kit. Several fiction books I've read, recent articles and conversations have prompted me to consider putting something together in case of an emergency. I will now need to do a little shopping and organizing to pull it all together. Another thought is that we need one for each car in the event anything happened while we were both at work. It wouldn't be a bad idea to make a list of instructions on how to turn off the gas etc. I don't know why this has suddenly become something I want to get in order! I have just been feeling the need to get organized!
And along that line....I spent most of the remainder of my day cleaning out closets, putting together piles of clothing for a donation, one for the storage unit, another for "trash." Since my surgery almost 2 years ago I have stayed down several pant sizes smaller. I continued to hang on to the larger sizes because I never thought the weight would continue to stay off after this much time. Now my closet is orderly making it easy to find something that is the right size etc. when I'm getting ready for work in those pre-dawn hours.
This evening we had to go to church and have directory pictures taken. I think this was the 4th time we've done this at TCC and usually we have other family members with wasn't good to just have the two of us. We looked old and tired! At least with the boys there were other faces to look at and we weren't as noticeable. Oh well, I guess it saved us some $$$$ because if they had turned out well we probably would have been tempted to buy them. They must have really been bad as the sales lady didn't even try to persuade us to buy any....we'll just take the free 8x10!
Last night we had a great evening service at church called "Praise-n-Pie." We sang old hymns, modern and new songs about Heaven. Walt gave a short talk on the subject as he has been reading Randy Alcorn's book entitled."Heaven." He did such a good job. It would be nice to do a study on the subject as I don't think many dwell on Heaven much. Of course, after the service it was time for pie......mmmmmmm......I had apple. Yes, it included gluten and i loved it!!!
Speaking of gluten....I baked my first batch of gluten-free chocolate chip cookies this evening. I'll have to see what my "taste testers" think. I'll keep you posted......

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Opening Night

So much has been going on this week that I think I will have to work backward to recall so many thoughts going through my mind….
Last night I got to go to the premier showing of the new Star Wars movie. Heather won a Star Wars package (grand prize) from KINK radio and I got to share in her bounty of prizes—free movie passes. After work we raced downtown to the Channel 8 building on Jefferson to pick up the free passes and then to the Lloyd Cinema to join other lucky winners in line for the 7:00 pm showing. The line next to ours was for the midnight show and people were “camped” out with tarps, grills, camp chairs etc. It was smart to arrive prepared as it rained quite hard and often during the long wait. It was fun to “people watch” and those around us became part of our “community” for several hours. We were a little concerned when we arrived about the number of people in line but the guy in front of us assured us that the theater has 750 seats and we would have no problem getting in. We saw a few people in costume, some light-sabers and Storm Troopers (employees) who were very helpful. We, like many in line, went as ourselves!
We were able to get good seats and Heather “held the fort down” while I raced to the restroom and then got in line for the concessions. Had just enough time to eat a hot dog (even the gluten bun…oh, no!) before the show started… previews…..just jumped right into the action. Boy, it was action-packed right from the start…..if you get motion sick, you may want to bring your Dramamine along!
The movie really brought the entire series together and explained a lot about Darth Vader, Luke & Leia, etc. Since I work in an elementary school I had a hard time thinking about some of the younger students going to this movie – a lot of violence to process in rapid succession. That’s my only soapbox but only because I’m more sensitive about it from my job. It did make me realize how the “deceiver” lures you away from your community by making you doubt your relationships, through self-pity, feeling lonely, angry etc. Reminded me of how THE “Deceiver” can really shake up a Christian’s life if you listen to those thoughts. We really need to stay connected and keep abiding.
What a fun adventure that was for the middle of the work week. One guy in front of us in line was going to watch the 7pm showing; friends were holding a place for him in line since he had tickets for the midnight show. He figured he would get out about 2:30am, walk a few blocks to work, sleep at his desk for 4 hours and then work his shift at work the remainder of the day. Yawwwwnnnnnn……makes me sleepy just thinking about it…..but then again, he's much younger!
There are many more thoughts from our “whirlwind” lifestyle this week but I will have to share more later…..

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Electric Blanket

I can't believe's nearly mid-May and I am still using my electric blanket. As I type away on my laptop surrounded by the warmth of the blanket, I can hear large raindrops spilling over the gutters and onto our deck. It feels more like February than May....and I'm ready for some "blue sky" days. I know we need the rain but I would love a few days of wearing flip-flops and capris!
For my devotion today I read Psalm 142 and it reminded me of our SS class discussion Sunday. It pointed out to me the steps of going through some difficult times -- feeling ready to give up; alone (self-pity) -- then going to our source of help (God) where we can bring all our complaints/hurts -- then sharing praise in the assembly of His people. Mentoring has been something I have been studying off and on since the beginning of the year through a book I have been reading. It is defined as "a deliberate transfer of wisdom from one person to another." I know that whenever I go through a difficult time in my life I am always encouraged by someone who has walked a similar path before me and can share encouragement through their life experience with me. I am so thankful for those who have walked through some of the bigger issues in my life during the past few years. I feel very blessed and need to be reminded to share that with others who may need encouragement or hope too.
I was able to go to the Scrapbooking night at church last night. It was fun to work on a few of my pages and chat with the other ladies. Always fun to hear others' stories and see their journey through the pages they are creating. I only completed 2 pages and I'm still on Wallowa 2003 but I am moving forward and enjoying the hobby instead of feeling it is a burden. I love the creative outlet this gives me plus recording family memories at the same time. My "Creative Keepsakes" magazine came in the mail today so I think I'll spend some time getting inspired for future pages......
I have been trying to follow a gluten-free/casein-free diet now for over 6 weeks. It has been hard to give up bread products -- the gluten-free breads I have tried have been very disappointing. I eat a lot of rice cakes as a substitute. I did "cheat" on Mother's Day and had French was wonderful!!!!! Now I am craving pizza -- people bring it for lunch at work and it smells so good. Wonder if any restaurants have tried to serve a gluten-free pizza? You name the place and I'm there!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

30th Anniversary

30th Anniversary
Originally uploaded by Karen Germer.

Outside Hall St. Grill.

Mother's Day

The guys made breakfast....nostalgia from the past. We had 5 entrees from the menus they had as children. Delicious!