Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Shoebox Ministry Update

Back in February I shared with you about Samaritan's Purse and their Shoebox Ministry. I decided that for every pair of shoes I purchased, for the rest of the year, I was going to make a box for this ministry. I challenged you to do the same.

Our church decided not to participate in Operation Christmas Child this year, opting instead to make Joy Boxes that would be delivered to children in Mexico by one of our missionaries. I realized that it didn't matter which organization my shoe boxes went to as long as lives were touched.

I took my boxes to church last Sunday and I'm pleased to announce that there were eight! I kept my promise to the Lord and to myself. Because of my shoe-fetish eight children will receive something this Christmas. The added bonus is that they will also learn about the love of Jesus Christ. What an amazing Christmas gift!

Before you think that I have a true issue with purchasing shoes, let me put a disclaimer here. I even did this if I purchased flip flops. This included shoes for myself, hubby and even my grandson. I purchased things for the boxes all year long. After Easter when basket stuffers were deeply discounted, I stocked up. Back to school sales at Walmart for school supplies, I stocked up. The Dollar Tree. Anywhere I shopped, I thought about those boxes. It actually became very fulfilling as the contents piled up.

If you accepted my challenge, and made boxes this year, I thank you. If you didn't, maybe you would consider it for next year. If you attend my church, it's not too late to make a box for this year. They are due this Sunday.

Times are tough for everyone this year, but this really didn't feel like a hardship. It almost became a passion. I hope that even just a couple of you join me next year.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

August 1995 - The Redwoods

1995 was a strange year. In February, we took a day trip to Big Bear to go skiing. That day turned into one of Life's Most Embarrassing Moments for me. I fell and suffered a spiral fracture of my femur. NOT. FUN. NOT.FUN!!!! I couldn't stop my fall or my slide and ended up directly underneath the ski lift, unable to move my leg at all. This resulted in the ski patrol cutting my ski pants open and then my leggings that were underneath. I absolutely put my foot down (or I would have if I could have) and told them that under no circumstances were they cutting my underwear open. I was a passenger in the little orange basket, being carried off the mountain at lightening speed. Then I got to ride in an ambulance down to Fontana, which is where the nearest Kaiser was. I had major surgery to insert rods and pins into my leg in three places. I was laid up for 13 weeks. Needless to say, our vacation that year was very much needed by all.

We camped in the Redwoods, rode the Skunk train in Willits, visited Santa Cruz and Cayucos. Cayucos is a little town on the coast, near Morro Bay. I have a cousin who used to live there and we stopped on our way home for a visit.

The Redwoods are amazing. The sheer height of the trees and the colors of the foliage are beautiful.

The coastline is breathtaking.

The Skunk train took us through some incredible mountain gorges.

We enjoyed being together as a family and as always two weeks went way too fast.

While we were there, I purchased a refrigerator magnet that still hangs on my fridge to this day. The words definitely described our experience of the Redwoods. I thought I'd share it with you:

The Redwoods

Here, sown by the Creator's hand,
In serried ranks, the Redwoods stand;
No other clime is honored so,
No other lands their glory know.

The greatest of Earth's living forms,
Tall conquerors that laugh at storms;
Their challenge still unanswered rings,
Through fifty centuries of kings.

The nations that with them were young,
Rich empires, with their forts far-flung,
Lie buried now - their splendor gone;
But these proud monarchs still live on.

So shall they live, when ends our day.
When our crude citadels decay;
For brief the years allotted man,
But infinite perennials' span.

This is their temple, vaulted high,
And here we pause with reverent eye,
With silent tongue and awe-struck soul;
For here we sense life's proper goal.

To be like these, straight, true and fine,
To make our world, like theirs, a shrine.
Sink down, Oh, traveller, on your knees.
God stands before you in these trees.

Author: Joseph B. Strauss
Builder of the Golden Gate Bridge

Two weeks enjoying some of God's most beautiful creations....$ 1306.00

Next year, the kids take friends with us to Lake Tahoe.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace

It has been suggested to me that my blog posts, complete with pictures, might actually be embarrassing to my children. That they might not want their pictures from the 80's and the 90's shown for all those in cyberland to see. I've thought about this, and perhaps these people are right. So, my dear children, now is your chance to tell me, publicly, how you feel about this. I can certainly stop posting any pictures of you with glasses, short shorts, neon colors and goofy styles in general. I can refrain from showing you off when you were going through your 'awkward' stages with big huge teeth that didn't fit your faces yet or with braces. With bangs that stood up 3 inches, side pony tails, knobby knees and little boy haircuts. Yes, I can stop all of that.

Now, let me plead my case just a little and say that for every picture I embarrass you with, I embarrass your dad and I too. Dad has a huge caterpillar sitting on his upper lip, his shorts are too short by today's standards and his socks go half way up his legs. Then there's me. Good grief, could my hair get any bigger or my jeans any higher? What's with the shirts tucked into pants making my hips look even bigger than they already were?

Funny thing is, you guys were always dressed just like everyone else. EVERYBODY looked the same back then.....really they did. When I see those pictures, they make me smile and laugh. Not because we look goofy (which we do), but because they are a picture window to some of the best times of my life. I never realized how many amazing memories we created as a family on those vacations. I feel like God truly blessed us with time together and the opportunity to see some of his most beautiful creations.

So, I hope you understand that this never ending vacation series, wasn't started to embarrass you. I'm not trying to pay you guys back for anything that you may or may not have done while you were growing up to embarrass me. I would never use this blog to do that.......or would I?

Let it be noted that neither of my children has indicated, to me, that they are embarrassed by this blog. In fact, my daughter nominated me for the Uber Award. That being said, nothing is worse than being embarrassed by your parents. (That is definitely a blog all it's own....right sis?) So, to my daughter and my son.....speak now or FOREVER hold your tongues.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mrs. Doozleberry over at Livin' In a Fishbowl has bestowed this awesome Uber Amazing Blog award on me. While I really appreciate it, I suspect that the reason she gave it to me is not that she truly finds my blog to be funny, informative, informational, uplifting or any other adjective you might use to describe a blog, but simply the fact that before she became Mrs. Doozleberry she was Miss Pumpernickel. Whatever the reason, I thank her. For some truly FUNNY stuff that will make you laugh until your sides hurt, and for other posts that will make you cry, visit her. Thanks Mrs. Doozleberry.

*About the award:Uber (synonym to Super) Amazing Blog Award is a blog award given to sites who:~ inspire you~ make you smile and laugh~ give amazing information~ are a great read~ have an amazing design~ and any other reasons you can think of that makes them uber amazing!The rules of this award are:* Put the logo on your blog or post.* Nominate at least 5 blogs (can be more) that for you are Uber Amazing!* Let them know that they have received this Uber Amazing award by commenting on their blog.* Share the love and link to this post and to the person you received your award from.

Now it's my turn to nominate my favorites.

Even though my daughter already nominated her, I'm still going to nominate Dena at Happilyeverafter. I don't think she needs to name another 5 blogs and get lost in a never ending cycle. I think she just needs to sit back and bask in the glory of being named twice. I LOVE her blog. She is a home school mom who is madly in love with her family and funny while she's at it. She is also a So. Cal transplant living in the South who is even starting to talk funny, if y'all know what I mean.

Heidi at nothingbutbluesky is another of my favorites. She is the mother of a toddler with another one on the way. Her motherhood experiences are laugh-out-loud funny. Warning: Her cravings descriptions are so good that you will be craving them too.

Angie Smith at bringtherain tells the story of her daughter Audrey Caroline whom she had to give back to the Lord just 2 hours after her birth. I have never met Angie, but she is an amazingly godly woman. Her story is about trusting the Lord in ALL things. She shares the good days and the bad days and inspires me every time I read her blog.

Anissa at hope4peyton shares with us the story of Peyton and her fight with childhood cancer. Peyton just finished her last round of chemo. Anissa asks for prayers for Peyton to stay cancer free. Visit her site and see just how adorable Peyton is.

Amy at adamsfamily has a new baby and she is sooooo CUTE. I love reading about how blessed they feel to have a little girl. I look forward to each time she posts because I haven't gotten to see her in real life.

I think you will enjoy all of these blogs. Drop by and leave each of them a comment.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Far Westerns and Lake Tahoe 1994

By the summer of 1994, our then 12 year old daughter's life was consumed with competitive swimming. We planned all of our vacations around when she could take breaks and sometimes even tried to combine the two.

This year was no different. She had qualified for Far Westerns. She had already had an awesome summer competing at the local level and she had earned the privilege of competing in Northern California against the top kids from the western states. So, we started our vacation in Northern California and then made our way to Tahoe.

Here is a picture of our daughter looking ever so serious waiting for her turn to swim:

Here she is on the blocks, getting ready to start her swim. She is on the bottom closest to us:

When the meet was over we headed to Lake Tahoe for 2 weeks. The usual fun was had by all. Here are a couple of my favorite photos of my kids from that trip. I still don't know why they were trying to snorkel in the world's coldest lake, but whatever...

Two weeks, including a side trip to Northern California......$811.00

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Summer of 1993

I have finally realized that if I wasn't so old this series on vacations would be long over and done. LONG. OVER. AND. DONE. For some reason, if I quit now, I'll feel like I left a project uncompleted. Must be some weird disorder I suffer from. Kind of like my feeling sorry for the last piece of cereal in the box or the last little bean in the can. I have to get them out so that they can fulfill their destiny and purpose. I know....I am sooooooo weird. I think I get it from my sister. (Just checking to see if you are reading my blog.)

Anyway, August of 1993 finds us in Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona on a 2 week camping trip. At least that was what we were supposed to do when we planned the vacation. Shortly before we were to leave, my Hubby won a major aviation award and we had to add a side trip to St. Louis right in the middle of our trip. This was a semi-formal event and I had the honors of packing dress clothes mixed in with those bathing suits and hiking boots. Oh the fun.

We started out in Rocky Mountain National Park. When we arrived it was so windy that we could hardly set up the tent. I have video of my husband sitting in the tent trying to keep it from blowing into Kansas while we tried to hand him stuff to weight it down. Then we were finally able to put the tent stakes in. I am laughing so hard that the video camera is shaking. This is also where we invented a game that we played around the campfire. We would have someone sit a little away from the rest of us with a shoe near them. They would keep their eyes closed and then we would try and sneak up and grab the shoe. If they heard us they had to identify our location and we had to start over. At least that's how I think the game went. I'm sure the kids will correct me if I'm wrong. It was silly, but it was fun. Here we all are sitting around the campfire.

Scenery pictures from Rocky Mountain National Park:

A picture of us at 12,005 feet:

From there we headed to Denver and Colorado Springs to see the Garden of the Gods:

The Air force Academy:

And the U.S. Olympic Training Center:

From there, we left all of our camping gear in a campground, on the faith plan, and flew to St. Louis for my Hubby's Air Crew of the Year awards ceremony. While there we visited the arch:

I'm sure you can imagine the humidity in the dead of summer in the Midwest. As we were getting off of the airplane, my 11 year old daughter asked us why the heater was on.

After we flew back to Colorado, we visited Denver and then headed to New Mexico to Albuquerque and Santa Fe. After that we were in Williams, Arizona where we surprised the kids with a sleepover in a Tee Pee. It even rained that night and who knew that the rain doesn't come in the top of a tee pee? It simply runs down the sides.

From there, a stop in Laughlin to experience the 120 degree heat before heading home.

Two weeks camping with a side flight to St. Louis....$2311.00

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Odds and Ends

Yesterday was a weird day. In the morning, my sister, husband and I went with my dad to plan and pay for his funeral services. Before I tell you any more, let me assure you that my dad, at 81.5 years old, is in good health. Other than sore knees (which he tells EVERYBODY about) and an overactive imagination bordering on hypochondria (oh forget being PC, he is a hypochondriac), dad is pretty doggone healthy. When asked, he says that he wants to live to be 100. If that happens it would be awesome, but my sister and I would be official card carrying members of a 12 step program.

Anyway, dad decided that he wanted to have his funeral services planned and paid for so that sis and I won't have to worry about it in like 18.5 years. In all seriousness, we are very appreciative. It was kind of weird picking out the verse that would go onto his funeral cards and picking out his urn. My dad picked a nice (as far as urns go) grey urn with gold trim and a picture of an eagle and American Flag. Very representative of his years of service in the Navy. Because he is entitled to a Military burial complete with a flag and gun salute, he also purchased a case to hold the flag. When it was time to pay for everything the wonderful lady we were dealing with informed us that because my father's passing isn't imminent, one of his daughters would need to take the urn and flag holder with us to insure that it would still be available when the time comes. Horrified, I quickly replied that, no, neither of his daughters needed an empty urn hanging around the house for the next two decades and that dad himself could store it at his house. Dad agreed to take it and hide it somewhere and now we can all just forget about it. Later that evening my sister called me and asked me what in the world we would have done if dad had been shopping for a casket. Where would we have stored that? LOL

After leaving the funeral home my husband and I went directly to meet our son, his beautiful fiance and her parents to look at potential wedding sites. I enjoyed this part of the day a lot more than the first part. We looked at several places and have one strong possibility right on the water in Mission Bay. We all enjoyed lunch together at Miguel's, home of the amazing white cheese sauce and tortilla chips. (This is where my daughter, the pastor's wife, will have a nasty comment because she LOVES Miguel's and wasn't there to enjoy it.) We had a fun afternoon and appreciated them including us in the search even if they were less than impressed with their parents ideas of using Sea World animals as part of their ceremony. After all, they did meet while working at Sea World.

Today I went Christmas shopping. Now, before you all start commenting on the fact that we haven't had Thanksgiving yet, let me explain. I am going camping the day after Thanksgiving and the following week I am going to visit my daughter in that other state that she lives in. I won't be home until the 10th of December. I don't want to have to fight the crowds and do it all then. I am trying to get it all done before Thanksgiving so that I can relax and enjoy the holidays when I get back. Side note: I would be a whole lot more successful at this if my future daughter-in-law would tell me what she wants. No pressure or anything :0)

While I was out and about today I saw the strangest thing and I had a nice thing happen to me. First, while I was driving, I saw a man jogging. He had a belt around his waist with a chain attached to it. He was dragging a tire behind him on the chain. I have no idea if this was some kind of resistance training or what, but it was funny looking. Then I thought I lost my cell phone. I always put my cell phone in my pocket when I'm out so that I can feel it vibrate when someone calls me. I put it in the same pocket ALWAYS. I never, ever put it anywhere else. I parked to walk into Kohl's and realized that my cell phone wasn't in my pocket. I thought maybe I had put it in my purse during my last stop because my husband had called me. I sat back down in my car and searched my entire cell phone. Just about the time I thought I was going to have to go back to the last place I had been, I realized that I could feel my phone in my back pocket. Thankful that I hadn't lost it and bewildered as to why I had put it there, I started back toward the store again. Just then a woman asked me if I would like her discount coupon because she was done shopping. You received your coupon in the mail for either a 15, 20 or 30 percent discount. Mine was 20. Hers was 30. I appreciatively accepted her offer and then thanked God for having me put my cell phone in my back pocket. The time that I took to look for it ultimately put me in the right place at the right time. 10 percent is 10 percent after all.

That's it. That's my strange Tuesday and my Wacky Wednesday.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

More Vacations

In a effort to move this series along, because, quite frankly, I'm bored with it, I am going to cover a few of our vacations in one blog. Some of them I have no pictures of and they were uneventful in general.

In January of 1992 we took the kids out of school and went to Brianhead to ski again. This year, we only went with our little family. The most memorable thing about that trip was that we ran into some old neighbors of ours that were vacationing there too. Their daughter and our daughter had been playmates from the age of 3 months until they moved away when the girls were 5. It was nice for them to get to see each other again. They skied together one afternoon and enjoyed each other's company.

The total cost of that 5 day trip was $773.00. Skiing sure does add up quickly.

In August of that year we went back to the cabin at Tahoe. We spent two weeks. We did all of the usual things like rafting, playing at the lake and going on our pancake breakfast hayride. I'm sure we got together with family down in Reno too. Total cost for two weeks of fun....$490.00.

In January of 1993 we took a long weekend and went skiing up at Big Bear. We rented a friends cabin and let each of the kids take a friend. Six people and all of our luggage barely fit into the van. We rented skis, boots and poles for all of the kids when we got up there. Then we stopped at the local grocery store. This is a picture of the poor kids in the van after we rented gear and went grocery shopping. They had to ride like that for the last couple of miles before we got to the cabin:

You can barely see the boys in the backseat.

Here is a picture of Hubby and I. Man, I had some big

The kids enjoying the snow with their best friends:

This was only a three day trip and we spent $615.00. Like I said before....skiing is expensive.

Next blog....Colorado and Missouri.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

We're back!

We are back from our cruise and it was fabulous! That isn't a word that I typically use, so suffice it to say that it was beyond anything I had imagined. Since we had never been on a cruise before, I really didn't have any expectations. We sailed with Royal Caribbean and from the moment we walked on board that ship, the crew was amazing. I'll post pictures soon, but for now, I'm going back to my series on previous vacations. We are all the way up to July of 1991. Good grief......I need to hurry up and finish so that I can get back to living in the present!

We decided that since the kids were getting older, we would start to branch out and not just go to the cabin every summer. We decided that every other summer we would do something different. This year, we planned a three week National Park vacation that included Canada. We had purchased a van that year so we had plenty of room for camping gear.

We started our vacation at a family reunion in Reno, Nevada. After a long weekend with family, we headed toward Grand Teton National Park. It was beautiful. We camped in a nice campground, explored Jackson, Wyoming and swam in Lake Jackson.

After we left the Teton's we headed to Yellowstone National Park. We spent several days there exploring. We saw the Old Faithful Geyser. Which is amazing if you think about it. Approximately every 90 minutes Old Faithful erupts. Very few things in nature are as exact as Old Faithful.

We would get up early every morning and go for a drive because that was the best time to see the wildlife. The buffalo would stand in the middle of the road. They were so dirty and dusty that every time they moved their tails they created a dust ball.

The elk were beautiful. They would lay right alongside the road and let you take their picture.

Warm afternoons were spent playing or floating in the rivers.

From Yellowstone, we headed toward Glacier National Park in Montana. At some point we crossed the Continental Divide.

Glacier National Park was beautiful. We camped right among the trees and saw some beautiful scenery.
It was about this point in the trip that we began to think our children were possessed. They were just awful. Fighting with each other, arguing with us and just not being very nice in general. Then, suddenly, it hit me. They were exhausted. In Montana the sun stays up until between 10 and 11 pm. We were getting up in the morning with the sun, around 5 am, so that we could drive and see the animals. Then we were eating dinner around 9 pm because it was still light. They were staying up until after 10 pm. The poor things were operating on zero sleep. So, from that point on, we discontinued the daily animal searches and put them to bed at night with the sun still up. We had much happier campers after that.

From Glacier, we headed to Canada via the 'Going to the Sun Highway.' The Highway is 13 miles long and is one of the most beautiful drives I have ever been on. It literally took us 4 plus hours to drive because every quarter mile there is a turn out. The scenery is so gorgeous that you have to turn off at each one to take pictures. I had the video camera on the entire time. At one turn out we climbed a small glacier and we have hilarious video of my son and I taking one step forward just to slide backwards 5. I would love to take this drive again.

In the first picture you can see the type of road we were driving on. The next two are examples of the gorgeous scenery compete with waterfalls, glaciers and rivers.

We drove to Banff National Park in Canada that day. Arriving in the late evening on a Saturday. Most of the campgrounds were full and we ended up staying at a campground called Mosquito Creek. It was appropriately named. We had a huge tent with a dining fly and lots of room for four people. We had also taken a small dome tent for such a time as this. The mosquito's were so thick that we simply put that tent up and all four of us crammed in. No one left that tent until the next morning. We ate a quick bowl of cereal, broke up camp and headed to a nicer campground later that day when the weekenders checked out. We stayed in this campground for 5 days. The elk would wander right into your campsite. We explored the town of Banff and took a side trip to the Athabaska Glaciers near Jasper National Park. It was a beautiful drive. We saw many moose and elk and even saw a bald eagle. It was really cold. In fact, our tour guide told us that that part of Canada has 3 seasons: Winter, July and August.

Here are some pictures taken in and around Banff:

Here are pictures from our trip out on the Glacier. Notice how big the bus was, my kids were barely taller than the tire:

When my kids got back on the bus their ears were really cold so they were goofing off and putting their mittens on their ears.

After we left Banff, we drove all the way across Canada and into Washington to Seattle. It was a very long 13 hour drive. We spent 2 days in Seattle visiting the tower and an amusement park. I was born in Seattle and moved away when I was 4 month old. This was my first trip back to my birthplace and I enjoyed it a lot.

When we left Seattle we went to Crater Lake in Oregon. This was the last part of our trip spent camping. We watched some people in another campsite try to put their tent up. They had obviously never set up a tent before. They took it out of the box and argued about how to put it up. We think that parts of the tent might have been missing too, because they ended up never figuring it out and they simply tied it between two trees.....upside down. Even my 7 year old thought it was hysterical. In fact, there are very few things about that trip that he actually remembers, but he remembers that.

After Crater Lake we visited with my Aunt and Uncle for a weekend and then headed home to Southern California. It was a wonderful trip. One that I would like to take again sometime.

This trip was 21 days long. All total we spent $1300.00. Next trip is January 1992 to Brianhead.