Archive for July 2009

I'm Melting

Thursday, July 30, 2009

If you live in the Northwest then you KNOW how bloody hot it is. And if you're sitting at your computer reading this then you must have air conditioning. Please invite us over! If you don't live here, then you may not have heard that yesterday we broke a record from 1891 and hit 103 degrees!! (guess there was global warming back then too). It's not that I don't love hot weather but in this part of the country we're just not set up for these kinds of days that only happen ever 118 years.

All this to say that I can barely sit here for another minute to post about anything other than how hot I am. And you know how much I hate to be a complainer. So I'll just head down to the basement and try to conjure up some new ideas for how to beat the heat. I'm open to yours. Anyone??


Happy Campers: Days 4-6

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Day 4: We determined that, up to this point, we had spent all of our time in search of a campsite, setting up a campsite or taking down a campsite. It was quickly becoming a working vacation. We paid for a second night and enjoyed the morning on the creek. We packed up lunch and headed to a "day use" state park with enormous sand dunes and a lake. It was a sandboarder's dream. And a "former non-camping mom's" nightmare. Although the sun was shining, it was so windy that we just couldn't get warm. The wax was no longer doing its trick on the boys' boards and everyone was getting stuck. It looked like the Sahara Desert without the camels. The sand in every crack and crevace (literally) was starting to get old. We left there in desperate search of a laundromat. Found one with a handful of working machines (isn't that always the case?) in a dilapidated strip mall. A fellow laundromat patron told me that a few miles down the road we'd find a nicer, cleaner facility--with showers. What?? Take me to your leader! Those clothes were barely out of the dryer and we were our way to clean bodies. $2 for 8 minutes of hot water. Headed back to the campground and Quinn, Ben and I played on the beach while Ian & Trey prepared the campfire and dinner.

I would love this for my backyard.

This was where I spent my morning quiet time. So serene.

We didn't catch anything but it was sure fun trying.

The drive to Florence. Oregon that is.

Beach Boys.

Cute and cheesy. He's cute. I'm cheesy.

One of my favorite moments. My boys at sunset on the sea.

Day 5: Packed up and said good-bye to Rock Creek and headed south to the Sea Lion Caves. We drove by the neon sign at least 8 times and Ben begged to stop on our way out. Trey caved (no pun intended0 and we dropped $43 to take an elevator 200 ft. down to a stinky room with a chain link fence separating the ocean and 130 sea lions lying on the rocks. Hmmmm. Fifteen minutes later we were back in our car. Not particularly worth the price of admission. Especially when one can drive 500 yards down the road and look over the rock wall to see at least 4 or 5 frolicking in the water. "But Ben will remember it for the rest of his life." Doubtful.
Headed east to Eugene and connected with I-5 north in search of our next destination. Two hours later we pulled in to a KOA just outside of Salem. They happened to have a cabin available directly across from the pool and hot showers. Sold! A double bed, bunks, a loft, a kitchenette and a bathroom. Ahhhhhhh.

Today's highlight: Out-of-this-world fish and chips at a local dive.
Forgettable moment: Ben's bike breaking to a state of non-repair. Sigh.
Day 6: Had to be out of the cabin by 11:00 but the owner said we could stay at the pool all day. No problem, sir. We were the only ones there until almost 2:00. Everyone was in dry clothes and ready to go so I made my way to the showers. When I returned, all three boys had put their swim trunks back on and were doing every possible water acrobatic in front of two darling, and I mean darling, 12-year old girls who arrived in my absence. "C'mon, Mom get back in the pool" my oldest bellowed. I'm on to ya, son. We stayed another half hour while the two parties said nary a word to one another. But the mutual admiration was obvious.
We headed north and arrived for a yummy spaghetti dinner at Grandma's. Had a fun evening playing "I Spy" and watching "Cash Cab". I LOVE that show!
Today's highlight: Basking in 90 degrees instead of 64 degrees.
Forgettable moment: Knowing our vacation was over tomorrow.


"The family who camps together....

...stays together." This really is a quote coined by author Gary Smalley. I remember hearing these words back before four boys with a love for adventure and outdoors made their way into my life. We enjoyed a few one or two night trips here and there but two years ago I declared a hiatus from camping. The previous three campouts were under let's say "damp" conditions. The last one was a literal torrential downpour. As we got our soggy selves home, it took SIX hours to unload and clean up. This activity was just going to have to be "boys only" for a while. Maybe forever.
Never say "never". Our family was in desperate need of a break and the funds did not allow for my style of camping: a four star hotel with a soaking jacuzzi tub and room service. "Let's go camp on the Oregon Coast." Uh. OK. Sure. I gritted my teeth and agreed to the idea.

The planner in me wanted to break out the map, make some phone calls, secure reservations and create the spreadsheet. Getting the other party to succumb to this plan was a tall order. I was reminded that every time we lacked reservations, God had always come through in a big way. Besides, "what if we're having a great time somewhere and want to stay a little longer? It would be a bummer to have pressure to get to the next destination." So we went for it and God did not let us down.

Day 1: Made it to just past Astoria, Oregon at the beginning of Hwy. 101. We stopped at a burger place for dinner and asked the locals for their suggestions. It was unanimous: Fort Stevens State Park--6 miles away. We pulled in around 7:00 and got the last campsite right next to a huge grassy field. A paved trail took you straight to the Pacific Ocean a mile away. It was perfect.

Today's highlight: Passing by a roadside firewood stand, just outside the state park, done on the "honor system".
Forgettable moment: Seattle traffic, Tacoma traffic, Olympia traffic

Day 2: Everyone was up and biking around by 8:00. I took a walk to the beach and even thought it was foggy, just hearing the sound of the ocean was music to my ears. When I started walking back to the campsite I heard some kids screaming and laughing. I looked to my left and realized, " I know them. Those are my kids." Discontent to simply play in the sand, they were up on the sandhill doing front flips to the beach below. Of course they were. I got some great pictures until "Ranger Rick" stopped by and asked them stop.

Packed up after breakfast and headed south. We passed state park after state park and every one of their signs said: "campground full". Ok, maybe this "living by faith" thing was a bad idea. We came upon the town of Seal Rock and a private RV park. Their sign said "vacancy" and "hot showers". We pulled in and discovered they had three small tent site available. We scored one directly across from the ocean and set up camp. Ahhhh.

Today's highlight: A huge private cove all to ourselves for the boys to run to their heart's content.
Forgettable moment: The "West Coast Chopper Family" who pulled in across from us at 10:30. Apparently the only words their four kids understood were "shut up" and "butthead". They were definitely entertaining.

Day 3: Packed up around 11:00 and headed south again. Our destination was the Sand Dunes Recreational area near Reedsport. Again, we passed "campground full" signs constantly. Suddenly Trey felt led to return to a small park we had passed five miles ago. Rock Creek Park had one campsite left and it was HUGE. The shallow creek behind it led under the road and straight to the beach. Instead of spending any more time setting up, we set up the tent and jumped back in the car to Florence. You could see the dunes from the road and they were amazing. As quickly as they came into view, the kids also saw other kids "sandboarding". We rented them each a board at "Sandmaster Park" and off they went.

Went back to the campsite around dinnertime and we enjoyed the campfire while the boys biked to their heart's content.
Today's highlight: Watching the boys reconnect and play hard together.
Forgettable moment: Wind. Lots of wind.

Days 4-6 coming tomorrow...............


And away we go........

Wednesday, July 15, 2009 the great outdoors. After our big car has returned from a four week stint at the mechanic's, we are packing it to the gills and driving south. Since the theme of our life lately seems to be "living by faith" we thought it was natural to carry that over to our vacation plans. Which means there are no "plans". We hope to do some camping, hopefully crash at a hotel once or twice for a hot shower, and see the Oregon Dunes. Trey is threatening to not return. I better stop blogging and start packing.
Off to follow the "wild goose"!



Monday, July 13, 2009

This for sale sign has been in our non-front yard (we don't have one) for the past 120 days. The "sale pending" portion was slapped on there three weeks ago. That's how long it's taken me muster up the courage to post about it.
For the past four months it feels like I've been living in a fishbowl. Having your house on the market stirs something in people that makes them curious beyond belief. People stop you in the grocery store inquiring why you would ever want to leave. Neighbors who would barely wave before disappearing into their garage suddenly want all the details and extend invitations for dinner. Suddenly you're filled with regret over "what could have been". We think "they'll be plenty of time for that" and next thing you know five years have passed.
Since the offer arrived, I have vascilated between relief and sadness. Relief that it finally sold in this depressed real estate market. Sadness that we are leaving a house that I have poured my heart into making a home. Relief that we'll no longer be carrying a debt burden that is too great to bear. Sadness that my kids won't be able to jump on their bikes and ride to school. Relief that I won't have to worry about disgruntled neighbors calling the police over my kids playing in the woods and being boys. (that really happened and, no, I'm not bitter about it) Sadness that I probably won't be within walking distance to my walking partners.
So I know that all of this begs the natural question: "Where are they going?" That's always my first thought when I see a sign appear in someone's yard. And the people usually already know where their next destination is. We don't. We really don't. Nothing has been clear to us so far except that we need a big backyard.
Fortunately (and unfortunately) this is not unfamiliar territory to us. This will be our eighth move in seventeen years and we've never been in the military. It's exciting to see what lies ahead and nerve-wracking to really not know where we're headed. But I know God does. If I really believe that He orders our steps--and I do--then I can trust that He has it all worked out. I just need to trust Him. He's always taken care of us and I'm sure this time won't be any different. Sounds so simple, doesn't it?
I'll keep you posted.


iTouch: Don't say I didn't warn you

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Even though "everyone else has one", we've managed to be unwavering on the cell phone request(s!!) Although there are a million and one arguments from teens and parents alike why my child needs a phone, I'm just not buying it. Sure there have been a few random moments when I've thought "If he had a cell phone, I could just call." However, in those same moments, the common denominator has been that HE was supposed to check in with US. If he had possessed a cell phone then wouldn't the responsibility be off of HIM and instead on US?? Wouldn't I be calling him constantly asking "Where are you?" OK, off my soapbox. For now.

So about a month ago, Quinn had won a mountain bike in a raffle and sold it on Craigslist for $200. As soon as the cash was in his hot little hand, I fantasized a conversation in my head something like this: Mom, can you set aside this twenty bucks for my tithe and put the rest in my savings account? Ha! Instead I heard the words, "Can you take me to buy an iTouch?" Hmmmmmm. I knew it wasn't a phone. I knew he wouldn't have the ability to text on it. I thought it was just an oversized iPod with a touch screen. Little did I know.
Let's just say that upon our return trip from Target the boy didn't resurface for days. Apparently there are about a million and one "apps" to be downloaded from iTunes. Once we logged him on to our iTunes account we received emails with receipt after receipt itemizing every download whether purchased or free. The" 14 different sounds of farts is gross but understandable middle school boy humor. The "stealth grenade" sound that is supposedly not heard by old people's ear over the age of 30 is quite dumb. But then "text free" showed up on the screen. What?? He can text? Oh yes, right here in our own home from our WiFi. Can also hop on Gmail to check messages too. I had it in my head to track down Mr. Steve Jobs and give him a piece of my mind about his non parental control apps. But then again wasn't I the adult who drove the child to the store to make his purchase of this evil device that would obsess my child's world? Yes, that would be me. The mom who barks out orders about homework to her kids yet clearly neglects to take her own advice. Right here.
As I find him in his room frantically tapping on the keyboard playing games, listening to music and perfecting his body fluid sounds I have to remember: this is today's teen culture. The way they communicate is no different than all the hours we spent holed up in our rooms gabbing away on the telephone. You know, that contraption that had a cord and a dial that was (GASP!) attached to a wall????? And it drove our parents crazy. Mostly because they knew they needed to set some limits just as our kids do.
I am no longer ready to accuse Apple of all of their inventions causing more isolation. Because it's more about what we do with these electronics in our lives that determines whether they're a good or bad addition to your family. Still, I wish I would have been more prepared with my research before I had given in to this big purchase. Unlike a cell phone, there is no monthly cost to us and no contracts to sign. It truly belongs to him and was purchased with his own moolah. Now it's our job to encourage responsible use of it while in our presence.
I'm still praying it gets lost by summer's end.


Book Review, Part Two

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A while back I mentioned that I'd recently read three books that subsequently rocked my world. The first book I shared last month started me on this journey of questioning how my life was making a difference anywhere outside of my own family. My heart has been stirred over how I'm called to serve the rest of the world. These thoughts came out of nowhere. But I know it's no coincidence that these books have found their way to my nightstand. I'm still not sure where this is all leading but this next book sure gave me a lot to chew on.

Most of you are probably familiar with Rick Warren, author of the The Purpose Driven Life. But, like me, you might not be aware of the lovely woman he's married to. Kay Warren has rarely been in the limelight over the years but, if more people read her book, it won't be long before she's more recognizable than him.

Dangerous Surrender: What Happens When You Say Yes to God is a book that will leave you, as Kay puts it, "seriously disturbed" and "gloriously ruined." It all began with an magazine article about the world AIDS crisis that disturbed Kay to transform from "housewife to humanitarian" in the blink of an eye. She was so bothered by what she read that, next thing she knew, she was on a plane to Africa to see for herself the reality of this tragedy. The manner in which Kay writes makes you feel like you're sharing a cup of coffee at her kitchen table. She's real, honest, challenging, humorous and vulnerable. Yet she's not suggesting anyone do something she hasn't already tackled.

An excerpt from the first chapter:

The word disturbed is often associated with mental illness and instability. We say, "He's disturbed," when we describe someone who reacts in an overly emotional way or appears troubled emotionally. I want to redefine this word, because I believe that God is looking for some disturbed people. He is searching for men and women, students, and young adults who will allow him to disturb them by making them truly see the world in which we live— so disturbed that they will be compelled to do something about what they see. Most of us have grown up in a culture that promotes precisely the opposite approach. Parents tell their children, "Never talk about politics or religion; it makes people uncomfortable." And for the most part, we've obeyed this cultural edict. Instead of tackling uncomfortable topics, we talk about the latest TV reality show or the hot sports figure or the price of gasoline. Believers are just as guilty as nonbelievers! Even worse, we refuse to talk about the painful, disturbing subjects — child prostitution, child labor, rape, poverty, injustice, ethnic hatred, greed, materialism, environmental destruction, HIV/AIDS. These are disturbing topics. But if we're not disturbed by the world in which we live, we will be consumed with the trivial, the insignificant, and the temporary. We will spend our days pursuing all the wrong goals, living by the wrong measurement of success, evaluating our legacy by the wrong standard.
Jesus' words "Much is required from those to whom much is given" (Luke 12:48 NLT) began to reverberate inside my mind, taking their place alongside the disturbing images I had seen. I had been given so much—what was my responsibility in return? God clearly tells us that we are "to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with [our] God" (Micah 6:8). I began to wonder how to apply this truth to my life. How does becoming a seriously disturbed person affect the way I live?

At the end of each chapter, Mrs. Warren poses a question for the reader, another question to share with your reading partner and a website address to watch a podcast pertaining to the discussion. Each chapter is even more heart wrenching than the previous. She makes you want to DO something. Anything.

The pages are filled with anecdotes from her personal journey including two bouts with cancer, literally witnessing child prostitution take place and a woman dying of AIDS while laying on a piece of plastic. In spite of all the setbacks and real-life horror she experiences, she never loses her passion for the calling God has engraved on her heart.

An excerpt from the end:

"SOMEONE ONCE ASKED ME TO DEFINE CHRIS-TIAN-ITY IN ONE word, and after some reflection, I responded, "It all boils down to surrender." Everything I know about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ begins and ends with sur-render -- with saying yes to God. That tiny, simple word initiates an exhilarating, life-altering adventure that will take you places you never thought you'd go-- both literally and figuratively. "


Foodie Friday: Happy Independence Day

Friday, July 3, 2009

Hooray for the Red, White and Blue!! You know I had to do a recipe with these colors. I haven't tried this one but plan to whip it up tomorrow even though we're not going anywhere or having anyone over. I'm hoping that if I make it, an invitation may find its way to us. Wherever you're celebrating, have fun, be safe and God Bless America.

Strawberry-Blueberry Trifle


  • 12 large egg yolks

  • 1/2 c. sugar

  • 1/3 cup cornstarch

  • salt

  • 2 c. heavy cream

  • 1 c. whole milk

  • 3 tsp. vanilla


  • 2 1/2 lb. strawberries, hulled and cut into quarters

  • 3/4 c. sugar

  • 3 T. orange juice

  • salt

  • 3/4 c. heavy cream

  • 3 T. powdered sugar

  • 1 tsp. vanilla

  • 24-36 ladyfingers

  • 3 c. blueberries

  1. Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and have another large bowl filled with ice water near stove.

  2. Make custard; In a large saucepan, whisk yolks, sugar, cornstarch and a pinch of salt until blended.

  3. In a medium pan, heat cream and milk to a boil. Stirring constantly, add a few tablespoons of cream mixture; gradually add remaining cream, whisking.

  4. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking until hot and slightly thickened but not boiling, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, strain into bowl. Place bowl in ice bath; let cool, stirring occasionally, for 40 minutes. Stir in vanilla. Place plastic wrap directly on custard and refrigerate until cold.

  5. Make trifle: toss strawberries with sugar, orange juice and pinch of salt. Let stand while custard cools, stirring occasionally.

  6. Whip cream, powdered sugar and vanilla until firm peaks form. Fold one third into custard then remaining cream. Arrange half of ladyfingers in a 3-quart bowl. Top with half of strawberries, then half of custard and half of blueberries; repeat. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate for 3 hours.