Ja’Ana’s Graduation

IMG_7178

We finally found a dress yesterday.  Whew!

IMG_7179

At first, I wondered if it was too fancy, but she really wanted this one.  She looked so nice, and it fit in perfectly.  She was just right.  There were other girls with super fancy dresses, along with some who chose more casual attire.  She also got high heeled black shoes, but wore the white ones in the car and to the rehearsal.  Once she put those babies on, I felt even shorter than usual:)

IMG_0296

And, then……She graduated!

IMG_7188

IMG_7223  It’s nice to have another milestone achieved.  Tonight, I’m going to chill for a while, then up and at ’em bright and early in the morning to cook, clean, shop and decorate for the big party on Saturday to celebrate with family and friends.

Advertisements

Memorial Day Rock Throwing and Fishing Trip, 2018

IMG_7120

Memorial Day dawned sunny and bright, and our troops were up early so we could be on our way.  REALLY EARLY!  On Sunday afternoon, Jake came home with us so he could spend the night, and go with us today on our outing.  I woke up in the night for a while, as I often do, and had just settled down to sleep when I heard a big thump.  I asked Rob what that was, and he replied in his sleepy voice that he had not heard anything.  I went to check on Jake, and sure enough, he was clambering back onto the couch where he sleeps, after falling out of bed.  I tucked him back in, and told him good night, none of which he remembered in the morning.  At 6 a.m., he was up and raring to go, so therefore, so was I:). We did the morning things….reading out loud, getting him rice milk, finding clothes, etc.  I wanted to make him bagels, but I had none.  I wanted to make him toast, but the bread was moldy.  I finally settled on a stale hot dog bun, which I toasted, and he ate.  I grabbed some food and threw it in a cooler, Rob gathered chairs and fishing supplies and drinks, all the while being asked if we could leave yet.  Jake rousted both Patsy and Ja’Ana out of bed and harassed them until they got into the car, then fussed because he didn’t have as much room as he wanted in the back seat.  Finally, we were on our way.

We stopped in a small town on the way up Hwy 22, to buy Ja’Ana a fishing license, and to grab hash browns at McDonald’s, which Jake gratefully ate as well. The juvenile fishing license is a great deal–only $10, because she is not quite 18.

IMG_7101

When we got to Detroit Dam, I asked Rob to stop.  We did not know you could drive over it, so Jake, Patsy and I jumped out and started walking across, admiring all of the people fishing along the edge and the spectacular view. Rob quickly figured out that you could drive across and began following us.

IMG_7104

An extremely kind young man noticed Jake’s interest, and  called him over.  He had a fish on, and let Jake reel it in!  That was so nice of him.  Jake loved it!

IMG_7105

The rock and pine cone collecting and throwing commenced immediately on the other side of the dam:)

We drove up past the little town of Detroit, and went to the other side of the lake.  We did not understand the the federal campsites over there were being run by another organization, and they wanted to charge us an additional fee, besides the one we had already paid for our federal forest pass.  So, we decided to just drive around the lake, find our own spot, and settle down there.  Sounds easy, doesn’t it?   It wasn’t quite that simple:)

IMG_7109

We saw lots and lots of trees.  We saw beautiful wildflowers.  We saw rocks, bushes, and miles and miles of gravel road.  We saw many, many little forest service road numbers, but only 1 sign that actually told us where to go.  We turned around and backtracked when our road ran out.  In the middle of it all, there was pavement, and we were excited, until it suddenly turned back to gravel.  We saw many people camping, several vehicles, including pickups pulling trailers (not me on that road!!!!), and a sheriff, so we knew the road went somewhere.  I had cell service for part of the time, so could check our location from time to time.  IF I had trusted myself, we would have ended up back at the lake.  I chose to follow the sign instead.  After all, it was a sign.  The only sign.

13 miles later, we had climbed up and over a ridge, and emerged at what could only be called a convergence of roads, all with signs stating road numbers, declaring that we were to “SHARE THE ROAD” and that it was a scenic hi way.  But, no direction at all as to which direction we should go, where we were heading, or anything else useful.  We chose to turn left because it felt right to both of us, but truthfully, we were not sure.  The road was paved, it went downhill, and we did emerge again at HWY 22.  19 miles east of Detroit Lake.  Really.  19 miles and a couple of hours later, we were right back where we had turned off in the first place.   Exactly. The. Same. Spot.  But, we really experienced the wilderness, and I truly thank the Lord that the kids all fell asleep in the back seat after the first little bit of those bumpy, winding, skinny, cliff-skirting, roads.

IMG_7115

After stopping at the Oregon State Park, and being directed by an extremely helpful ranger, we went to this spot.  Jake woke up, and the throwing and fishing commenced again.  He threw in everything he could find, then settled down to “catch a fish,”

15 minutes later, he had one.  He caught it all by himself, but would not touch it, or pose with it for a picture.  He did, however, take it home to his mother, which really threw her for loop, not wanting to clean it at all.  Being the good mother that she is, she accepted it, and the one J caught, and will cook them up.

IMG_7112

Ja’Ana caught one, too, and we were fortunate to have them, according to both the ranger, and the young men who were at the little park we were at.  I guess fishing hasn’t been very good this weekend.  We were delighted.

IMG_0290

He was done fishing after catching that fish, and spent the afternoon wading with Patsy, having me read “Laura and Mary” and digging in the snack bags, and lunch pail for drinks and chips mostly.

IMG_7130

Sometimes it took 2 hands to get all those chips in!

fullsizeoutput_2d44

We saw many black swallow tail butterflies flittering around.  The ducks were constantly landing on the water, sometimes right in front of us.  The sun was shining, the wind was blowing, and people were happy.  It was a great day, and we took a dirty, tired, but not very hungry boy back home, and handed him over to his mom!  Chips are very filling;)  Of course, we included the most special rock, 2 large walking sticks, and the fish.  We wouldn’t want him to leave his treasures in the car.IMG_0285

He already spent the day talking about when we can go camping again.  I’ll bet he’ll be asking to go fishing again before long.  I know we want to!

 

 

Happy 4th of July

IMG_4823

I started the day with a red, white and blueberry muffin (gluten-free muffins made with blueberries and raspberries) and put on my blue denim skirt, red shirt, and red, white and blue sweater vest and necklace.  I then proceeded to have a wonderful 4th of July, doing things I liked and wanted to do–a perfect holiday.

IMG_4829

IMG_4842

We drove up to Portland to have breakfast with some of Lovana and Ja’Ana’s birth siblings/family members.  We went to a restaurant named the Gateway Breakfast House. I had never been there before, but I guess President Obama ate there when he visited Portland.  We waited quite a while, which was fine because it gave the kids a chance to visit.  It was a beautiful, sunny day–perfect for hanging around outside and taking pictures.  When we got in, it was quite small inside, and not fancy at all.  They had both breakfast and lunch items and, because we were with such a large group, I was able to see quite a few menu items.  The omelets and hamburgers were enormous!  We had a great time, both with the company we were with, and the chance to try a new restaurant.  We had the pleasure to sit near the little guy, and boy was he entertaining:)  And super cute:)

IMG_4853

Then, we drove home.  We are listening to an audio book named “Hattie Big Sky” and are enjoying it very much.  We got to hear a lot of it today, since we were in the car so long.  On the way home, we stopped at Home Depot and ordered a new vertical blind for the front window.  It’s been broken for some time now, and won’t shut all the way anymore.  We’ve been putting up with it, but the straw that broke the camel’s back was the other night when a salesman came up to the door when I was in my bathrobe, sitting on the couch, and PEERED into the crack left by the broken blind (about 6 inches) and then rang the doorbell.  I politely, but firmly told him to go away, and told Rob that we were getting a new blind ASAP!  It’s on order, but it will come soon, and Rob plans to install it.

 

When I got home, I indulged myself in some sewing, purely for fun.  I don’t get to sew much anymore, due to my busy schedule, but still love to sew.  So, I finished a sundress I had been working on for a while, for Patsy, and then made this little summer dress for a little friend.  I had worked on Patsy’s dress on our camping trip, but forgot to bring an iron, so had a little to finish up here at home.   I was able to use fabric I had on hand for both dresses, and lots of rick rack from my stash for the little one.   img_4867.jpg

During the evening, I went out and picked a few flowers and messed around in the garden for a little bit.  I will do a garden update soon, since it’s growing so well now.  Rob took Lovana back to her job.  It’s official now, Saturday is her last day.  As is is, the job lasted almost 6 weeks past when she thought it was going to, so she’s great with that.

Then, the neighborhood exploded into a loud and smoky display as we saw many, many fireworks exploding all around us.  I was surprised to see lots of the big, blooming, ariel (illegal) ones exploding in the sky all around us.  Beautiful. I just wasn’t expecting it in the city of Salem.  Clearly, there is no need to drive to any display when we’ve got all that from our back yard:)   Rob and Patsy did their little pile, and then Patsy sat on the deck and enjoyed the show for at least an hour.  Judging from all the bangs and pops still emitting from the neighborhood outside, I doubt I’ll be sleeping any time soon, but I had a great day.  I have another fun day to look forward to tomorrow, starting with a birthday breakfast with my mom, so I think it’s my lucky week:)  (Last night we had a bbq for my niece who is back from Ireland for only 1 week). Although I miss Jake since he’s on vacation with his mom and dad, I’ve welcomed the time to spend time with other family members this week.

 

 

 

Double Birthday at the Zoo

 

IMG_4643

Today, there were 2 birthday girls celebrating at the Oregon Zoo in Portland,Oregon.  Both Ja’Ana and our little friend, Danait had their birthdays today.  J is 17, and Danait is 3.  We decided to have a celebration together and chose the zoo for the big day.  My sister, Rosalie, Danait’s mother, Harnet, Alissa and myself all went along.

IMG_4646

After several great sunshiny days, the weather man began to predict that today would include heavy rain, up to 45 mile per hour winds gusts, and cool temperatures.  Rosalie and I debated the issue and decided that we needed to go anyway, even if we didn’t stay too long.  When a little 3 year-old is promised animals, she needs to have animals.  The big girls would have done something else without blinking an eye, but cheerfully agreed to give it a try.  Our plan was to dart from covered area to covered area, dodging the raindrops in-between and holding big umbrellas over our heads when needed.  We did decide not to pack a picnic as planned, but instead to buy lunch at the little cafe, where we would be assured of a roof over our heads while we ate.

IMG_4651

We had a blast!  The rain held off until we were eating, praise the Lord!  We chased after a very excited little girl, who was enthusiastic, to put it mildly, to see all of the animals, but especially the monkeys.

IMG_4649

She loved climbing on this toy, as long as Alissa helped her stay on.

IMG_4671

Harnet sure appreciated how much the big girls helped chase little Danait around.  That child is quick.  She reminds me so much of Ja’Ana when she was little.  Harnet is so kind to the girls, always telling them how much she appreciates them playing with Danait, and how she wants Danait to grow up just like them.  What an encourager!

IMG_4668

They enjoyed the African exhibit a lot.  The giraffes reminded Harnet of her home in Africa, as they had them there.  The elephants and lions were also a hit, but little Danait wanted to see the monkeys the most, and watched them for a long time.  They obliged by throwing their food (some kind of leaves and fruit) around after taking a bite or two, and jumping around a bit.  So exciting!

IMG_4641

It was a great day and both girls had a great birthday.   It was so special that they could spend it with each other.  Little Danait loves Alissa and Ja’Ana and often says “they coming’ mama, they coming’.”  Even when they aren’t.  Then she will pout because they aren’t.  Of course, the big girls think she is adorable, and who doesn’t love to be looked up to and adored right back!  We 3 ladies had a great time visiting, laughing and watching the girls have fun.    Once it started pouring rain and the wind picked up, as the weatherman had promised, we finished our lunch and headed for our respective homes.  Both Ja’Ana and Alissa had driver’s ed drives this afternoon and evening.  Ja’Ana drove all the way there in the rain, on 2 freeways, and home again through rain, a huge traffic jam, and windy conditions.  I was so proud of how she is doing with her driving.

Rosalie went back with Harnet to her house so they could work on making appointments, and other things that needed to be done.  Sometimes Harnet has Rosalie make phone calls for her, to make sure the person on the other end understands exactly what is needed.  Her English just keeps getting better and better–I can really tell a big difference in the few months I have known her, but sometimes, she just wants a little help.   Rosalie is really good at that kind of thing.   We are already making some plans for summer.  Once we get Harnet’s school schedule, we will made another date to do something together.  It will be fun.

I’m glad we had such a fun time, because Rob and I are taking Jake, Michaela (niece and nephew), and Patsy (daughter) on Monday.  We have a zoo pass, so want to use it as much as possible.  We are planning the trips so that everyone we take will get in on the pass, so we have to take a few at a time.  The other 3 were all in school today, so were feeling left out until I explained that we would go Monday and NOT take Ja’Ana and Alissa.  Just them.  The big girls are going to the beach with the youth group on Monday anyway.  So, it’s all good.  Tomorrow is Rob’s last day of school and then he’s out for the summer!  Yea, and double yea!!!  Let summer begin!

Busy Kids=Happy Kids-Christmas Break 2016–part 4

img_3856

The fun continues around here!  This week is focused on my immediate family, so on Tuesday, we took the 3 girls to the beach.  The weather was extremely rainy, cold, and raw, so we didn’t go play in the sand, although Lovana had expressed an interest in doing that since it’s been a while since she has done that.  Instead, we took them to the Outlet Mall, and let them shop to their heart’s content.

On Monday, my 2 older girls went to the mall with the older cousins–it was quite a trip with Rachel, Caitlyn, Lovana, Ja’Ana, Alissa and my oldest daughter, Abbie (who is a great sport and actually loved being asked to join with the other cousins–she loves the younger girls and loves shopping…)  It sounds like they had a blast, although no one bought a whole lot but, instead, had fun being together.  Since Caitlyn will be returning to college in a few days, and Rachel will be heading off for a 6-month adventure soon, I was happy they could spend the time together.  Rob and I took Patsy to the YMCA to swim and I cleaned up a little from the Christmas mess.  I’m still not done, but it was a good day.

img_3855

The girls had all received some money for Christmas.  One gift promised them a trip to the outlet mall in Lincoln City (on the Pacific Ocean).  I got some, too.  We walked around the small mall, hunting for bargains.  Last year, we found incredible deals, like jeans for Ja’Ana for $1.  There were no deals that good this year, but we did find some things we liked for a price we liked.  I found 2 things I liked, a sweater for spring in a lavender color, and a sweater vest in patriotic colors.  I think they will brighten up some other clothes I already own.  I’m being very careful to not buy just for the sake of getting a good deal, since space is at a premium here.  I will be doing some more shopping later, as many of my clothes are showing the wear and tear that comes with wearing them so often.

The big girls found things they liked, also, in their 2 days of shopping.  Patsy dug out some long-hoarded birthday money and added it to her Christmas money and had a spending spree in her one-day extravaganza.  She enjoyed getting to buy what she wanted at the mall (clothes and jewelry and headbands), and spending a large chunk of her gift card at McDonald’s for fries, soda and a McFlurry.  Hmmmm.  Well, it’s Christmas, right?

We also enjoyed going out to eat at Mo’s, a favorite restaurant of ours that is found up and down the coast here in Oregon.  Throughout the day, the rain poured, with a ferocity that always amazes us, even though it is typical for this season at the beach.  Thankfully, it came in showers, and we were able to dodge the worst of them.  After a drive back home in the pounding rain, we were thankful to tuck ourselves away in front of our fire and enjoy the evening watching tv in our cozy living room, drinking tea and munching snacks we had been given for Christmas.  It was a good family day, and  we all enjoyed it.

Busy Kids=Happy Kids, Christmas Break 2016, Part 2

img_3800

Want to keep them busy and interested?  Sign them up for a squid dissection class!  That’s just what we did today.  We spent the day at OMSI (the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry).  My sister, Gail (Alissa’s mom) is the field trip guru.  She put together a day for all of our kids, plus some friends.  Some of the kids are homeschooled and some go to various schools, but they all had the day off because of Christmas break.

img_3794

We had no idea that our little friend would enjoy dissecting, but she had a blast and held her own!

img_3792

The boys had a great time, too (I promise–he just looks a little sober in this picture)

img_3801

After the kids finished their class, we had some time to wander around OMSI and eat our lunches.  I was so glad to have a knowledgable person in charge of the dissection, and that that is checked off the Biology list!  Then, we watched 2 movies, D-Day and Jerusalem, on the OMNI Max Screen.  After that, we wandered around the museum for a while, enjoying exhibits, then headed home.  It was a great day, and the movies fitted in so well with what we’ve been studying in history.  We are just finishing World War II, and the movie brought it to life.

img_3804

Happy kids = happy moms!  I was so glad to see some of my friends that I hadn’t seen for a while, spend time with family, and give the kids such a great learning experience.  It was a great day.

Busy Kids = Happy Kids: Christmas Break 2016, Part 1

img_3785

I am going to be spending a lot of time with the cousins this week.  I am planning on some super fun activities.

Yesterday, Michaela was telling us how much she wanted to decorate sugar cookies for Christmas.  So, last night, I made 2 batches of gluten-free dough.  I wanted to chill them all night.  Because I am so sensitive to wheat, I don’t even keep regular all-purpose flour in my house, so everyone will enjoy gluten-free cookies this year.

Lovana came to the rescue and went with me, bringing her expertise and creativity.  We made royal icing and buttercream.  She tinted the frosting several colors and we pulled sprinkles out of our cupboard and my sister’s cupboard.  We had tons!  She decided to bake the cookies first, then ice and decorate.  We often decorate first, then bake, but Michaela wanted to do it this way this time, so we did.

img_3786

They made lots of pretty cookies.  We froze some for Sunday.

img_3787

Here’s the recipe.  I got it from a little magazine I bought years ago at the check-out counter called “Gluten-Free Recipes.”  I tweaked it a bit.

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup softened butter

1 egg

2 cups Bob’s Red Mill One-to-One gluten-free flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon xanthum gum

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 Tablespoons milk, more if necessary

Cream butter and sugar.  Beat in egg.  Add salt, baking powder, xanthum gun, cinnamon, vanilla and flour.  Add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired consistancy is reached.  Add more if dough is too dry.  Chill for at least 15 minutes.  Roll, cut out, and bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until brown.  Makes about 2 dozen cookies, depending on size.

I was a bit baffled by the instructions about the milk.  I made 2 batches.  The first time, I put in the 2 tablespoons.  It was really stiff.  I put in a little extra the 2nd time.  It was almost too much.  Lovana rolled and cut out the cookies and she had trouble working with the 2nd batch.  On the other hand, the cookies themselves were much more tender with the softer consistency.  The first batch was super crisp, then second was softer.  Both had excellent flavor.  Everyone loved them, whether or not they needed to eat gluten-free.

The rest of the day was filled with kids playing with toys, lunch, tons of dishes and cleaning from the cookies and playing (I also had Jake do his regular chores such as “pick up 8 things”) and then we had a huge game of Apples to Apples with Lovana, Alissa, her friend Kim, Michaela and myself. Earlier,  Jake and I had played a version of Life which sort of resembled what the directions said, so he played other things during this game.  Ja’Ana and Patsy were off to the doctor and errands with Rob, who is off work for 2 weeks now. (He works at a school.)

img_3788

We took a few home for Patsy to do, since she didn’t want to be left out of the fun!  It was a great day, and we have a great one planned for tomorrow.