Monday, December 20, 2010

Do Not Open Until Christmas

Siennalee has asked Santa for one thing.  
And since I'm fairly certain she's on the Nice List,
it's looking like 
her Christmas wish may come true


Meet Gunther.  All he needs is his big red bow
(part of Siennalee's request) 
and he's ready for Christmas morning!  
(I wonder who will be more excited?  The Sweetheart... or the mommy?)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Decorating the (Gingerbread) Townhouse

Although we began the holiday season with a big household move, I had previously decided to make it a priority to not let said move interfere too much with Christmas and our celebration of the season.  

One of the things we wanted to do this year was decorate our first-ever family gingerbread house!  We got a pre-made kit from Costco (ingenious AND a great price!) and settled in one chilly evening with hot cocoa, complete with marshmallow creme and a candy cane, and we decorated this humble gingerbread house from top to bottom!

(Photographer disclaimer: pictures were taken in super low light and so are a bit yellower and LOT grainy-er than I would prefer. Okay, 'nuf said.)

(Homemaker disclaimer: I do realize I am putting up pictures of a GINGERBREAD house before pictures of our ACTUAL house.  And really, I am on this.)

Siennalee was enthralled with her hot cocoa - complete with marshmallowy creme - and candy cane.

What a treat!  She now asks for this for breakfast.  Sorry kiddo, but nice try.

  Jason broke open the kit (see above) and got the 2 minutes worth of prep done.  (Told you it was easy.)  And we got our decorating ON!  It was good, clean, MESSY fun.  Definitely something we'll love to do every year! 
The house came pre-assembled and with a ton of different types of candies for decoration!

The house also came with its own Christmas tree and gingerbread men.  Curiously, the gingerbread men did not make it, but the tree seems to be doing quite well.  (You can just see a glimpse of my Sweetpea in the back, she's talking to Daddy and I just love her little looks.)

House, pre-decorated and in the buff.

I'm proud to unveil
our very first
Kantola Family Gingerbread house!
*applause*  *accolades*
(Note the picture on the kit box behind us.  We got a pretty good laugh out of the comparison.)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Klamath Falls: Mission Accomplished

Well, we did it.  We moved.  As of November 29th, nearly all of our worldly goods as well as Jason, Jessica, and Siennalee have been living in Klamath Falls, Oregon.  

Left behind in Albany is our house (as of yet un-sold), a small contingent of storage, and our sweet doggy who, alas, is not welcome in our new townhouse.  (Thank you Mom for being such a good doggy grandma and taking care of him until he can come home to us!)  My mom is also keeping the house for us until we all make further plans.  Doggy and house sitter - Mom is good people.  :)

But now, we are - finally, gratefully, blissfully - a family living together under one roof.  One roof with boxes stacked nearly to the popcorned ceilings (um, it's not a contemporary place, our new townhouse), one roof with nearly 600 square feet less than we are used to (and one less garage - as in no garage),  but - one roof with all the novel happiness of seeing each other every day and basking in the coziness of this sweet new place.  We are happy.  We are blessed.  We are together.  

This was the view from our master bedroom window as snowed and snowed and snowed the first several days we were here.  In the distance you can just see snowy Hog's Back Mountain.  And in the lower right-hand corner you can see my new Acadia (hi sweetie!) shivering under the carport.

Monday, September 20, 2010

When Things Come Together

These days I get ridiculously excited about anything I am able to complete.  I am, of course, using "anything" sorta liberally - I'm not suddenly jumping up and down, squealing with excitement when I drain the last of my water bottle.  No, I'm talking about completing something that I have hoped for, undertaken, put together, worked on, dreamed about and finally am able to see finished.  I step back, breathe it all in, and work to let it fill up some of the large space inside me that still is aching to be filled by bigger things that aren't yet happening.

One of these things I've just finished is the bedding set for the king size bed Jason and I purchased several years ago.  We bought the bed when Jason was mobilized overseas so - although he saw pictures and approved the choice -  it was really me who hunted it, bought it, and got to be the first to settle into the vast reaches of comfy mattress space that is a king size bed (after one is used to a queen/full).

Following the purchase of our new king size bed, I began to haunt websites for cute and well priced bedding.  Then - success! - Pottery Barn had a close-out on some duvet covers and I zeroed in on a blue one along with four matching shams.  Alas, it was not to be and if you missed it you can read the whole sad tale of this unfortunate duvet and our misadventures on craigslist in this previous post (um, click here).

Amazingly, after "feeling, owning and letting go" (mantra swiped from my Auntie Ellen, thanks Auntie Ellen!) of the disappointing duvet, everything worked out as planned.  I did indeed sell the lackluster duvet (and four matching shams) to a very nice and remarkably un-psycho-like craigslist buyer and THEN: I found - while shopping for something entirely different, yes *quite* by accident - the One, the Exactly-What-I-Always-Wanted king size bedding set at Kohl's.  I quickly ran it past Jason and gained his approval and through the following months I stalked the Kohl's website and when sales occurred (or Kohl's cash) I leaped to action and slowly pieced together a spanking new bed set.

And I'm ridiculously pleased to say I now have the entire (and when I say "entire" what I *really* mean is totally open to adding additional cute, matching pillows) bedding set covering my fabulous king size bed.  I tell you, it's a treat to walk into my bedroom and see my beautiful bed.  I step back, breathe it in, and nod slowly.  There's no better feeling that that feeling you get when things just come together.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Inevitable Evolution

My little girl is starting to say her l's.

Of course, when I say "say" what I really mean is that she's beginning to correctly pronounce the letter "l" with the "l-l-l" sound rather than the "w" sound.  She's actually beginning to sound exactly like her cousin Isabella, whose unique way of saying the "l" sound has delighted me since Bella began using it.

While do I of course enjoy hearing Siennalee's speech maturing, in quiet moments I find myself fondly reminiscing of the days of "I Siennawee" and "Oh wook at his wittle wegs!"  Don't get me wrong - I don't wish for my child to spend years in speech therapy (I myself had at least one year devoted to re-learning to say my s's; "My name ith Jethica.") or having fun poked at her by other kids boasting better pronunciation skills (thankfully my daughter is bigger than most of her peers, not that I advocate violence - really just the possibility of it often does the trick).

But moments like these, such as listening to a newly acquired skill being employed and practiced at every turn, moments like these do give a mama cause to smile, step back and wipe surreptitiously at suspiciously moist eyes while savoring yet another of the wonders of this most precious and holy calling: Mommyhood.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Summer Days Driftin' Away

Somehow, I’m just realizing, the summer has passed by in a whirl of packing, unpacking, traveling hither and thither, and cleaning cleaning cleaning.  I feel a pause in the frenetic activity that has swallowed me up these past months.  And I glimpse fall waiting quietly in the wings.

I’m glad for it.  Fall is my very favorite season, so rich in color and spicy smells and good hearty recipes and family get-togethers.  I also rejoice in the tangible proof that seasons do change – especially when one has felt caught in a souped-up version of the movie Groundhog Day.

Yes, many things – blogging included – drifted to the wayside during my summer months of packing, travel, and cleaning.  Oh sure, I began several blog posts, but somehow pushing the “publish” button was simply beyond me.  Heck, at one point, I even re-designed my blog layout for the summer months, but alas, nary a post.  Ah well.

The seasons are changing, and though change brings both loss and gain, I believe my family is ready for them.  There are new plans in the works, new ideas being discussed, and an anticipation we haven’t felt for quite some time.  Sometimes in order to gain the new things, the old things – the comfortable, safe, known things – must be put aside.

So welcome, fall.  I can’t wait to see the changes you bring.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Sweet Moments: Mommie/Daughter Talks

Siennalee:  Mommie, when I grow up I can have a computer?

Mommie:  Yes, Sweetie.

Siennalee, eyeing my San Pellegrino Aranciata :  And I can drink Mommie Drinks?

Mommie, glancing away from the computer to her nearby beverage:  Yes, that's right.

Siennalee, musing, eyes roaming the living room:  And I can put on music when I grow up? 

Mommie, chuckling:  Yes you can!

Siennalee, getting excited:  And I can drive when I grow up!

Mommie, unsure as to how we got to driving, but going with it anyway:  Yes, you can drive when you grow up.

Siennalee, decisively:  But not when I'm small.

Mommie, heartened that (against all odds) somehow some limits are being understood:  Good idea, sweetie.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Daddy's Home

He's tired.  He's dragging.  He's slept all day.  He's been living in a tent camp in Virginia with his US Navy Reserve Unit for the past 2 weeks. 

But he's home.  Sleepy.  But home

Luckily his girls aren't too high maintenance.

Thank you, Jason, for working so very hard for us - your family and your country.  You help make so many blessings and dreams possible, not only for me, but for our great country.  I love you so.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tests, Blood, and Vampire Eyes

My quickly-numbing eyeballs were growing blurry.  I knew my niece Isabella watched me with her somber, perceptive gaze, so I did my best to grin and bear it, even cracking the occasional joke.  She didn't laugh. She doesn't find me funny.

We - me, my sis-in-law Anne, niece Isabella and nephew Lincoln - were sitting in the optometrist's office waiting for my pupils to dilate to that weird, unnatural state that seems to get eye doctors all so giddy.  Tests from my previous eye appointment had dictated this one; pressure in my eyes was showing too high, a possible forerunner of glaucoma.  So I was ushered in for another round of tests.  Not something I'd really ever WANT to do, but especially now.  House on the market.  Husband away for two weeks.  Difficult past year under our belts.  Yada yada yada.

So I sat and laughed with Anne as we rounded all the topics two women touch on when they're parked in a doctor's office waiting room and working hard to distract each other.

Finally, when I could no longer focus (literally) on the book Isabella was holding or on my drooly 9-month-old nephew lolling on the floor, the nurse called me back.  I underwent the tests with what I hoped was saint-like joy and endurance so my niece would be inspired ("I remember waaay back when Auntie Jessica was in that eye doctor's office...").

And then we were done.  Of course, I'm skipping over all the really fun details - like the gallons of extra drops (of whatever they happened to find lying around in random droppers) into my poor eyes, like the things I had to squint at and look past and NOT BLINK, NOT EVEN ONCE for.  Yeah, after all that -we were done.  And the doctor came in.  

Dr. Jonathan Berry is one of those really great doctors who comes in, exchanges the necessary pleasantries quickly, and then gets right down to business.  So, y'know, you're not left waiting.  Wondering.  Guessing at the rate his eyebrows are moving and trying to work that rate into some kind of mathematical equation which tells you how bad the news really is since evidently he isn't going to tell you for another hour, give or take another round of eye drops.

"Everything looks good, real good," Dr. Berry said right away.  And I relaxed.  My lungs gave up that extra quarter of space they'd been hoarding for the past few weeks - or longer.  Things were finally turning.  Even just a little bit.  Good news was here.

Long, detailed, and medically brain-numbing story short - my tests showed that my optic nerve (the part of the eye which deteriorates during glaucoma and eventually causes blindness) is just fine.  The pressure in my eyes was still measuring high, but they'd watch that and if things began to go south, they'd give me eyedrops to combat it.  Almost as an afterthought, Dr. Berry had me undergo a cornea test - yup, more drops.  Later he called me at home with the results.  

Turns out, I have extra-thick corneas.  This means two things: 1., People with extra-thick corneas always test out at a false higher pressure in their eyes and 2., People with extra-thick corneas are less likely to get glaucoma than those with thinner corneas.  Go figure.  Finally there's an extra-thick part of me that I can be proud of.  They'll still be keeping an eye on me - standard procedure when things aren't textbook, but all in all, it was a good report.  I'm glad.  I needed one.

A second good report came when we were leaving the optometrist's office.  The nurse from my OBGYN office called my cell with the results from a follow-up blood test I'd taken.

Brief history: after the second miscarriage last September, my doctor had had me take a rather extensive series of blood tests to rule out any cause for miscarriage.  

Now, understand that most miscarriages, even subsequent ones, are just due to sad chance.  Not coffee drinking.  Not heredity.  Not God wanting the baby to be in a better place (even though they certainly are).  We are imperfect bodies, living in an imperfect world.  I understand that it's easier for a lot of us to have things like this buoyed up by a deeper meaning behind it all, but sometimes things just aren't.

But I, wanting to do all I could to keep from losing any of our next babies, I took the test.  And in the first round, something was testing out a little higher than it should have been.  It ended up being one of those somethings which was just high enough to make it not quite a negative, but not so high as to be a clear positive.  So my doctor decided to err on the safe side and had me take a mild medication (Baby Aspirin) to offset the potential condition.  He also requested that I retake the test later.

And here we were.  I had retaken the test.  And now I sat, just outside the optometrist's office where I had been given a much-needed good report, cradling the phone to hear the confirmation of the blood test results.  

Negative.  My results were negative for the condition that could have caused the miscarriages and could affect any future pregnancies.  I did not have the condition.  My blood tests were perfect.  It was a good report.

We got home and all the girls ran to play; the drooly crawler rolled around on my floor, looking for unsuspecting objects to stuff in his mouth.  I went to the bathroom to check out my still-numbed and blurry eyes.  Staring into the mirror, I had to chuckle a bit as the blue of my irises were only barely visible behind the ominously large, black, dilated pupils.  I looked like a hungry vampire.  But my heart was more satisfied than it had been in a very long time.  Sure, the events of the past year were not undone.  The things my family waits on and prays for are still yet to arrive.  But, as I looked back into my black eyes, I knew two very big things had been brought to a very good close.  All the worry, all the tears shed over them were now dried up and left behind.  I was free to move forward, unencumbered.  Without fear.

The turning of the tide: sometimes it comes slowly, but still it comes.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Some Thoughts on Craigslist (And No, They're Not for Sale)

Society is pretty much divided up into two people groups: those who do Craigslist, and those who don’t.

Now, I have friends who buy, sell, and surf Craigslist as often as I check Facebook – which is far too often, but don’t tell my husband… he won’t approve… for whatever reason.

For too long I’ve flitted around the borders of Craigslist no-man’s land, never a poster nor a buyer, but not a true abstainer either.  Finally, my time came.

It was my duvet cover that did it.  I had bought it from Pottery Barn during the long months when Jason was stationed in Kuwait.  It was a great buy and what I’d hoped was a step toward something new, but unfortunately, it would be a step in the wrong direction.  The duvet cover is a blue background with flowers and paisleys (my brother Paul is a big paisley fan – ask him about it sometime) spread liberally across the foreground.  I enjoy flowers and tolerate paisleys, but the blue I’d envisioned (this was an online purchase) was more of a blue steel (more Martha, less Zoolander) and what arrived via UPS was a stubborn country blue circa late 1980's.  Okay, not that bad.  (If you're a fan of blue and looking for a king-size duvet cover - with four matching shams - call me!)  I was displeased, but remained confident it would look good on our new king-sized bed.  Maybe it would grow on me.  We could work it out.  Long story short, here we are, nearly three years later, and the blue has not grown on me.  We can't work it out.  In fact, it became one of those things where I would be busily doing something else, something innocent and non-duvet related, and I would find my eyes unwillingly, inexorably pulled back to my bed.  And to the blue.  Dear God, the blue.  Finally, three years later, unable, unwilling to take it any longer - I burst out in dramatic confessional fashion to Jason (or was it more of a sleepily whiny confession?), “I don’t like it!  I just don’t like it!”

So here we are.  Hello Craigslist.  I took some good pics, if I do say so myself, and wrote what I’d hoped would be an attention grabbing, witty little title and post for my duvet cover (and four pillow shams – yep, sorry guys, you’re out, too).  I posted it late Friday night after creating my VERY FIRST Craigslist account.  Actually, I think you only ever get to create one anyway, but I digress…

That night I was plagued with dreams of psychopathic Craigslist stalkers emailing inquiries on any duvet cover listings throughout the Corvallis/Albany area…

And the next morning – surprise! – an inquiry.  I was excited.  I was scared.  The emailer, with an odd name but nothing sounding Nigerian-email-scammer-ish, wanted to know if “it was still available?”  Odd, but whatever.  Not everybody sits and stares at the emails they’ve just taken 20 minutes to compose, recompose, and recompose again before they finally hit send.  After 20 minutes I sent her back a very brief, “yes, it’s still available.”

Later in the day, I checked my spam folder – I hadn’t heard back from her and thought, maybe, just in case… and there was her return email.  Odd.  I checked it.  And shuddered.

An “auto response” from her yahoo account (what the hey is that anyway?) didn’t even mention my duvet cover (and four matching shams) – I tried not to be hurt – but gave some very odd invitation to a “midnight meet-up” for those who were too shy to put in their own personal ads.

I read it once, read it again, and spammed her.  I might've even spammed her twice.  I don’t think she was ever even interested in buying my duvet cover (and four matching shams).

Alas, I’ve had no more inquiries.  Disappointment is setting in.

But I’m also encouraged for those out there – and apparently you are out there – who are too shy to put in a personals ad, but might be looking for love through a well-worded, witty household goods post on Craigslist: Avelina Cornett is on your side.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Visions of the Future: iMac

The month of April found brought us to a long awaited milestone: an iMac.

Apparently - according to the little book that came with our iMac - we were made for each other.  I certainly have been enjoying getting acquainted with Mac.  He's done well keeping me company during these long weeks with Jason away on Navy duties in Virginia.

Mac is fulfilling two purposes for our family: 1., we needed a new desktop computer and 2., I needed something that  could assist me in my new and upcoming roles for Anne Nunn Photographers as well my fledgling design business.

So the month of April brought us the iMac and the month of May (and likely June, too) will be spent getting to know and developing a good working relationship and workflow with him.

Overall, we're very pleased with the transition from PC to Mac.  It's been easy, fun, and heck - like we were made for each other.

The future looks very very good.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Letters to my Father-in-law

Dear Gary,

This time of year usually has us scrambling for good ideas for your birthday present.  I think you always knew this, on some level, and probably enjoyed it.  I'll be honest - you were a hard man to buy for.  I think we usually ended up giving you one of three things: a book, a movie (usually war or history), or camping gear.  I think we generally did a pretty good job, but it was always hard to say since you weren't a gusher.

Toward the end of your life, and then afterward, I wrote you letters.  Sent to you, posted online, and some waited.  But you and I had that in common - writing.  You encouraged me in it.  I know you planned on writing a book once you kicked the cancer.  I wish I could have known what you were writing.  I wish I could have read it in print.

I'm writing you now as sort of a last present.  I suppose, true to our tradition, I am scrambling a bit; it's near 11 pm the night before your birthday (and your granddaughter is faithful to get me up around 6 am these days).

I wish many things had been different.  I wish you'd have been healed from the cancer - for the second and last time.  I wish we could have spent more time together, somehow.  I wish I'd have asked you more questions when we were together.  I wish you'd have taken the trail out of Cly lakes instead of having us go off those wretched topo maps, clinging to the sides of shale-covered cliffs.  (I know you'll be laughing at that last one, even if my blog readers are scratching their heads a bit.)

I want to tell you how well your family is doing.  Not to say there aren't days where the loss of you is overwhelming, but they are steadily moving from surviving toward thriving.  When you passed away, I began to look at your family - my family - with different eyes.  I still love them the same, but I'm more aware of them now, with you gone.  My disappointment in losing you and the pain I feel when I see those who love you hurting makes me want to go above and beyond in reaching out to them, in loving them, caring for them and praying for them.  I can now understand why people continue to do things for people they love who have long passed away.  It's because my loving those who you love is another way of continuing to love you, though you're no longer with us.  And I now understand more of how that works into the Kingdom of God.  I want to love God's people because He loves them, and I love Him so dearly.  I want to be an extension of His love back to His people.  Your life - and your death - is teaching me that.  Another thing for which I'll love you forever.

Your son is doing well.  He misses you greatly.  I am so grateful you and Tricia raised such a fine man and that God brought us together.  He's busy planning camping trips through the coming year, and I know you are never far from his thoughts.  You left him a good heritage; we are blessed to pass that on.  Know that we will pass that on.  Siennalee is growing like a wildflower.  She talks about you often.  She knows you are in heaven with Jesus and remembers you gave her that Jack Russell terrier from Build-a-Bear (oh that she had been more temperate for you that day!).  She remembers your face and can pick you out of a line-up (picture).  :)  One of my biggest blessings is that you are in the presence of those beloved souls who couldn't stay with us: your parents, Uncle Mel, my sweet nephews, and my two babies lost last year.  I am comforted that you have two grandchildren to dote on and I am comforted that they have you.  Having you in Heaven, in the presence of God makes it all more real for us still here.  "Treasures in heaven" has new meaning.

I have not forgotten what you told me in what would be our final conversation.  You were so near to seeing the face of God; I've held tightly onto the word you gave me.  You had more to say, I remember, but were going to send it on later.  I suppose I'll just have to wait to hear what that was; it's something I look forward to.

So this is the first of the "Year of Firsts" of having you gone.  Next will be Father's Day.  And so on.  Life will go on, but you will always be missed.  I understand I don't have to wish you a happy birthday; you know nothing but joy where you are now, but it is a happy birthday.  I, as your daughter-in-law, married to your wonderful son, mother to your precious granddaughter, am so grateful there was a birth-day for Gary Kantola.  It made possible my life today and made my joy complete.

Happy Birthday, Gary.

All my heart,
your daughter-in-law Jessica

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Post-It Note Tuesday!

Post-It Notes - brilliant!  Want to play along?  Do!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Post-It Note Tuesday!

Post-It Notes - brilliant!  Want to play along?  Do!

The Long Road Home: Part 2

After an hour of no movement in our line of cars on HWY 58, and the only cars coming back our way were either giving up or willing to chance a back road, we too turned and headed back to Oakridge.  Siennalee and I needed to visit a ladies' room, Jason was making calls to family with knowledge of Oakridge back roads, and I wanted ice cream for me.  In short, we had become those willing to chance the back roads.  We had also called our sister-in-law Anne who had checked and saw HWY 58's status had gone from "Expect a 20 minute to 2 hour delay" to "CLOSED."

Anne then put us in touch with her aunt and uncle who have a cabin up around Oakridge.  They told us of a back road that would lead us back down into the valley.  We were losing daylight and decided to chance it.  After a brief visit to the DQ restrooms and a fresh Goodnight pull-up on Siennalee (no way was I putting my kiddo in a way to have to sit in a urine soaked carseat for the next several hours - and we have yet to master the "pee-on-the-side-of-the-road" skill), we drove off to locate the road.

Turns out, that back road?  It's a local secret.  After searching turned to doubting, we turned around to head back to the city when an older gentleman - okay, he was a typical 50-something Oregonian male with a long white beard, an old Subaru AWD wagon (that had most definitely seen some action) and all the assuredness of guy who's lived and driven through those mountains his whole life. 

"Ya lookin' fer the road t' head back t' Eugene?"  he hollered at us.  At our assent that yes, we were indeed looking for that road, he grinned, gave us a funny look and yelled, "Follow me!" 

And we did.  I realize that usually at this point in the movie the audience is up out of their seats screaming, "Don't follow him!  DON'T FOLLOW HIM!"

The aging neighborhood road gradually diminished into a tightly winding, uneven little lane heading up into the pine forest.  At first we were uneasy at following a stranger into unknown woods.  We are informed movie watchers, and we well know the perils that can follow along story lines such as these.  We grew chagrined at how often our leader pulled over to the side of the road to let oncoming cars (and there were plenty - either word about the secret road had gotten out, or people were desperate enough to follow anybody not sitting in a line of cars lit up with brake lights). 

"Be patient," I encouraged Jason, soothingly. 

"Jessica, I don't like heading up into the woods with some guy who for-all-we-know could be a serial killer," He replied, edging our car up closer behind our leader who was once again pulled half off the road so another line of cars could pass.

"Or," he conceded once the serial killer's car started moving again, "he could be our guardian angel."

It was like that for some time: the road grew narrower, the stops more frequent, cars with lights on kept coming.  And daylight faded into the shadows of the trees. 

But then we began to recognize that our serial killer/guardian angel was actually just biding his time - once the line of oncoming cars had passed, he'd hit the gas and take off to gain as much distance as possible before the next line of cars snaked up to us.  The road disintegrated into some of the deepest potholes I've ever seen.  Our over-packed car groaned and shook and muttered motorized-curses. 

We squeezed by a tow truck and then his quarry: a commercial van which had slid off the road and was resting with two wheels on the sloping river bank and the other two wheels in the air, pointing back at the road as if to will themselves back down.

The road narrowed to barely a lane's width.  We stuck close behind Mr. Serial-Killer-Slash-Guardian-Angel and followed him to hidden turnouts and unseen shoulders.  Potholes haunted us and struck at unguarded moments.  Siennalee rode happily through the whole thing, contentedly watching a princess video on our portable DVD player (BTW, the portable DVD player: a must-have for traveling with small children.  They should make them a mandatory purchase for anyone having kids).

And so we continued for a white-knuckled, stomach-dropping, stop-and-go hour along the road which was at most times little more than a muddy, graveled, hugely potholed, one laner twisting and turning through back-wood hills and along a river ravine and then reservoir.  Mr. Serial-Killer-Slash-Guardian-Angel actually eluded us for a time, going so fast we could hardly catch him until he had pulled off once again to let another car or two pass.

The evening got darker and the road grew worse.  Then suddenly, asphalt!  Ahh, asphalt.  You could almost hear our car go, "Ahhhhh, that's the stuff."  More twisties and turnies, and then we began to see signs of civilization again.  Then we were in the town of Lowell. 

We pulled up beside Mr. Serial-Killer-Now-Guardian-Angel and rolled down our window.  "Wuddn't thata ride?" He crowed out to us.

Indeed it was, Mr. Guardian Angel, indeed it was.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Images from The Long Road Home: Klamath to Albany

Oh yeah, she's packed in there
(Time for a bigger vehicle, Mommie and Daddy?)

But seems to be okay with it all.

Everybody deserves face time with the camera.
(I love Siennalee in the background - pure joy. Behind her is a stack of migrating household goods.)

The picture is a bit dark, but you can still see how undaunted she is by the winter weather lurking just outside our car.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Long Road Home: Part 1

Friday before last, we packed up two weeks of living in our rustic little Klamath Falls apartment and headed back up to Albany.  

The usual drive of 3 hours, 40 minutes through high mountains, a mountain pass, one mountain tunnel, several bridges spanning rivers, and intermittent seasonal weather (snow and rain) surprised us by adding another 2 hours and change. 

We left K Falls late.  We hate doing that, especially when we're due to meet weather through the pass.  Snow and ice over roads that climb and dip with sudden stomach dropping turns are not fun outside of Disney Land.  So we grumbled as we began the trek back.  And we were on empty.  Not just empty, but that lit-up-gas-tank-icon was flaring at us like it was on fire.  And we had no idea of any gas stations in the proximity that we needed one.  So we did the typical "Oh please Jesus let us find a gas station before the fumes run out" prayer and drove on with eyebrows knotted and fake laughter to keep Siennalee at ease.  Although I doubt she'd have worried.  She's pretty sure we're super heroes.  Gotta love toddlers.

Anywhoo, we finally discovered a gas station hidden away in a teeny-weeny town called Chiloquin and paid $3.30 per gallon (a feat which had us fondly reminiscing of the Summer of 3's when gas suddenly became like gold, or at least espresso) to reach a whopping $50 full tank.  And you're quite welcome, Chiloquin local economy.  It was either that or a nice little chunk of cash to your local towing company.

We hit the road again and were pleasantly surprised to find the weather not at all what we'd expected.  The roads around Crescent Lake are always a little hairy during the winter, but we made it past that, up over the Willamette Pass (hi skiers!) and down to Oakridge where we stopped for dinner at Dairy Queen.

Ah Dairy Queen.  How we love you.  However, we don't sense much reciprocated love when you hand us our meals, complete with a kid's meal, and overlook giving us any napkins.  To be clear: NO NAPKINS. 

But no worries, we were over half-way home.  We tucked into our burgers and fries (I did my very best to ignore the steady transfer of ketchup from my child's kid burger to my child's face) and happily drove on.  We came around one of Highway 58's infamous hairpin turns and saw break lights.  A line of break lights.  We slowed and stopped - something that feels so odd and so wrong after tooling along at 55 mph. 

Time went by.

Jason and I quickly ran out of guesses for what was the cause of the stop.  We knew directly ahead lay one of the worst turns on HWY 58, right under a train trestle.  It was evident by the immobile traffic that whatever was ahead was bad.  Very bad. 

So we sat in our over-packed car and waited.  Siennalee and Daddy enjoyed melty DQ ice cream sandwiches - did I mention we had no napkins?  Yes, and since Siennalee is nearly potty trained, baby wipes have fallen lower down the travel priority list.  So no baby wipes either.  No napkins tucked away in the glove box.  No box of tissues.  Nada.  We watched our child turning into a small ice cream sandwich with pigtails and Jason crunched his ice chips from his drained DQ soda.  She soon finished and then held out stickily shining hands in growing concern.  She looked at me, little ice-cream-sandwiched face wrinkling in sticky angst.

"Don't touch anything!"  I instructed while desperately scouring the car for something.  Anything.  Well, not anything...

Crunch crunch crunch.  Pause.  "You could use a sock," Jason said finally, indicating a random small pink sock by my feet.  I looked at him, not wanting to understand.  He crunched his ice and looked back at me.  "You could use some ice chips and that sock and clean her up."  Erg.  Yes I could.  I closed my eyes and breathed deep.  Crunch crunch crunch.

"Alright!  Give it to me."  I turned in my seat and got on my knees, reached over and grabbed an ice chip from Jason's empty cup, got the pink sock, and reached back toward my incredulous toddler who kept looking from the dripping ice chip hand to the random and questionably clean pink sock hand.  "Be still," I advised her, darkly.  Yes, it worked.  In the end, she was clean.  Albeit questionably.

You never know what drama is going on in the cars around you.  Especially at those endless traffic stops.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Post-It Note Tuesday!

Post-It Notes - brilliant!  Want to play along?  Do!

Monday, April 5, 2010

And Then God Sends a Boat

Sometimes when the floods of life take over, God makes the rain stop.

Other times, He sends you a boat.  

This is, of course, metaphorical writing since my house was not actually flooded to the point of needing a rowboat - although the panic I felt at times could have been akin to a huge disaster like that. 

The boat God sent me was in the form of Hayden Homes (who had built our house and neighborhood) and more specifically, in the form of Heather, who quickly answered my emailed Hail Mary plea for assistance with my leaking house.  Even though Hayden Homes technically did not have to assist with my plight, Heather recognized that the shabby workmanship on my house was something that absolutely must be addressed.  She immediately sprang to action and had a crew here by the next business day.

The leaks have stopped!  And all that is left is clean-up and painting, which should take place later this week.  

I must admit, I truly did not see this provision coming.  It is marvelous and humbling to be reminded that, beyond whatever our circumstances seem to be telling us, God remembers us.