Monday, December 28, 2009

Make a Bubble

Certain relatives have tsk-tsked at me for letting the kids use the family point-n-shoot, since they managed to break it the day before Christmas, thereby depriving us of filming the frenzy of Christmas morning. But I repudiate their reproach with the proof that sometimes you have to take a risk with your stuff to encourage imaginations to blossom, brains to flourish and hearts to become confident and alive! After watching this video (and the dozen or so takes that preceded it) I conclude that it was worth the risk.

The Bubble-Pop Kids written, choreographed and performed by Addy, Korah and Taylor, with special (bubble) effects by Morgen and Micah

I am so proud of these kids!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Theme Park Answers

When I think of roller coasters, this is the first one that comes to mind. And looking at that picture, I can even hear it; feel it vibrating through my body. Being raise in California, I've been to Disneyland more times than I can count on 2 hands, and the excitement of finally unloading from the car and being greeted by the roar of the Colossus is fused into my DNA (except that I know that it's not because none of my kids are diggin' the 'coasters so far! I blame the horrid carnie coasters for that atrocity. Hopefully a good dose of Disney or Six Flags will someday remedy that). When I googled roller coaster images, I almost had an anxiety attack looking at all the amazing, twisty rides I've never tried! I must find a way to ride again!!

Anyway, CONGRATULATIONS MEANBEAN for putting forth the effort and getting a whopping TWO correct! Hooray! You win!

Now for the CONTEST answers:
  1. Anaheim : Disneyland, where my favorite ride has always been Space Mountain...until 1996 when they started blasting music into the back of your head, which covered up the scary roar of the roller coaster, the screams of the person sitting next to you, and the distant sound of another train whose path you might collide with in the dark since you couldn't see where you were going! I miss that.
  2. Blackpool : Blackpool Pleasure Beach, England. Shout-out to my friend Nigel Fletcher who hitch-hiked there with me from Capernwray. I'm proud to have some international rails under my belt in the wooden Big Dipper and the sketchy-looking bobsled ride Avalanche!
  3. Buena Park : Knotts Berry Farm. One of my favorite things about Knotts as a kid was the Berry Bear ride, which was a slow cart through animatronic Bear Country (including Brer Fox and Rabbit!), and the whole ride smelled like JAM. Ahhhhh.... As I kid I would've loved for my whole world to smell like that. Later they replaced it with some Dinosaur thing that didn't smell like anything. Knott's has the best water rides though, and we loved to ride the Timber Mountain Log Ride as a family.
  4. Denver : Six Flags Elitch Gardens. When Korah was still an only child, our friend Tom flew us out to Denver for some hiking across tundra, croquet in fancy hats, and an awesome day of riding the rails at Elitch Gardens. This still goes down in our books as one of the biggest and most-needed blessings of our married life. Thanks, Tommy!
  5. Portland : Oaks Park. It's not Six Flags, but it has it's charm. A word to the wise at night: you will fly through a large cloud of gnats that are swarming around the spotlights at the bottom of the loopty-loop, so better to close your eyes and mouth for the picture they take and get your protein from a corndog. If you stay late at the adjoining roller rink (hullo--yes, please!), it's fun to tell your kids the park is haunted at night as you walk back to your car-- (it certainly looks creepy when it's all closed down!)
  6. Santa Clara : Paramount's Great America. I think I only went on one ride here because we were there for a Spin Doctor's concert, and when it was over the park was closed! Rip off!! But I can't complain-- I had a friend who worked there and got us in for free :)
  7. Santa Cruz : Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. I worked there for a summer and had a full-access pass. Although it's kinda sad to be standing in line for a roller coaster by yourself, it wasn't something I could pass up! California’s oldest amusement park and a State Historic Landmark, the Boardwalk is also home of the 1911 Looff Carousel and one of the only brass-ring dispensers in the country. Check it out!
  8. Valencia : Six Flags Magic Mountain. So many memories, so little time! I always preferred this to Disneyland: it was cheaper, you didn't have to wade through all the souvenier shops and drama to get to the thrill rides, and of course, the Hallelujah Jubilee (where I first saw Russ Taff and The Choir in nineteen-eighty-something). It's just pure, unadulterated roller-coastering.

Alright, now say I'm planning my next roller coaster adventure... What's your favorite roller coaster or theme park experience?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Cards for Teachers

For the Teacher's Aids, may your days be...

If you didn't get one, I'm sorry. You'll have to send some more peer pressure my way.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Give Me a Sign

I'm going to start off this post with a tangent.
I love roller coasters. LOVE them. I've been on roller coasters in...

Wait... let's play a game! I will name the city, and you tell me the name of the theme park. Now don't get all serious and google's not like I'm The Pioneer Woman, giving out cool prizes. Although, if I were to give out a prize, it would be a photo of me: 7 years old, wearing a high-necked, short-sleeved, striped shirt and army green Toughskins, standing next to Goofy, in one of those neato little slide viewer key chains:

I spent about an hour looking for these and this is about all I could find! Unbelievable! Are these awesome little things just not on the planet anymore? And someday, that link is going to be useless because somebody's going to snatch those suckers up!

Anyhoo, I digress.

Guess what Theme Parks I've ridden roller coasters in, based on these cities:
  1. Anaheim
  2. Blackpool
  3. Buena Park
  4. Denver
  5. Portland
  6. Santa Clara
  7. Santa Cruz
  8. Valencia
Basically, I've ridden a lot of roller coasters, for an average Joe. They come in all different flavors: scary-fun, scary-unsafe, boring, fast, loopty-loop, free-fall, smooth and modern, old and rickety and what I like to call Neck-n-Back: the ones that give you a migraine and send you straight to the chiropractor. Then there's the ridiculous, portable Carnie Coasters, but I'm not even counting those.

And here ends the campy tangent.

By far, the most unpredictable ride I've been on yet, encompassing all of the above listed flavors, is the Vondercoaster. Being married, having children and becoming an adult (in that order, I'm sure) has been loopy, rickety, fun, unsafe, thrilling, noisy and suspenseful. My stomach has dropped to my toes on numerous occasions and I have consumed more soda and corndogs than I ever would have otherwise. Some people are on wilder rides than the Vondercoaster, I know. But sometimes the dips and turns seem really deep and sharp, and it's all I can do to keep from loosing my cookies.

The other day David came home between jobs (that's right: "jobs" --there's a sign of the times for ya), and we were discussing why the thermostat is set to, oh, 90 degrees or so and yet the house won't get above 56? Sure it's an old house and it's below freezing, but this isn't normal. We later learned that we just needed to clean out the filters. But that day I was so discouraged. After picking up the kids I was driving to the grocery store, allowing my thoughts to spiral down, down... I mulled over how hard things are, how just when we can't afford it both our cars are having problems, the roof is leaky, outlets keep failing and my mom is afraid we're going to have an electrical fire and the house will burn down. The furnace needs work, our poor little children are freezing to death...I'm thinking about the Hispanic family I delivered a meal to one Christmas, 15 people huddled under blankets without heat. They probably had food stamps...but no heat...was our food patronizing to them? I started to think (like I sometimes do) that things were getting too hard for us to handle.

And usually, when I get like this and things seems too dark and too desperate, I can manage to push and lift and heave-ho this heavy burden into the Lord's open, waiting hands, because for all our human efforts, it would take a miracle to keep us from unraveling completely. But today I doubted. I wondered if it was all too much, too fast. Too much unraveling to keep up restoration. Too many miracles to ask for... is that possible? Where does God draw the line at grace and provision and pull out the tough-love? (I'm sure there's a good lesson we need to learn somewhere here.) Have we already received too much?

And then at the intersection of a neighborhood full of construction, I look over at the stop sign-- the temporary kind on the ground in the middle of the street.

Do you see that? It has been graffitied with "everything will be okay". Of course, I started bawling right then and there in that intersection! "Okay, God. Okay," I said out loud. And that was all I could say as I spiraled back up in a fog of humility and relief.

That day, I got home to this email from David:
"I know it's very cold (26.2 F in Portland) right now, but please be thankful for that God is faithful. He is with us, and providing for our needs. Praise Him!... in a sweatshirt and jacket, as we figure out how we can make it warmer in the house."
Sometimes God speaks through my husband at just the right time, confirming...confirming.


I just got off the phone with David as I write this, discussing our van's leaky transmission and the Christmas tree on our front porch (as in, not in the house, decorated) and he reminded me that we are moving forward. It may be slow, but we are making progress.
And that is the definition of success to us.

"Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail."
Lamentations 3.21-22

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Box From Dad

Oooo, a surprise box from Dad in Santa Barbara!



These are from my parents' backyard. The backyard where I grew up, pretty much taking for granted the Eden of fruit at my disposal. And these can't get them in Oregon. These aren't the same hard, tasteless, crap-shoot in the grocery store produce section. These-- ohh-- the meat is soft and juicy and sweet and tangy! It's almost like you are the lucky destination of the sun's long journey, which began with the sweetening of the tiny blossoms, exciting bees and filling the air with its perfume. Then burgeoning forth into a vessel of juicy sunshine and now those warm rays are gushing out of all that pulp and pith, down your chin, down your arm, dousing your tastebuds with childhood memories!!

My sweet and funny daddy sent a note,
"NO MORE SCURVY!" He doesn't like to hear that we get colds every winter here, and wants us to power up. And as David said between mmmmm's, "it tastes like there's more Vitamin C in these oranges!"

What a blessing for us. Thank you, Dad! And for my hometown local peeps, these are just a small sampling; my parents would probably love to give you some oranges...and peaches...and apples; they can't keep up with all the fruit!

**Just a side-note: notice how the oranges are packaged so perfectly in that bubble wrap. My dad did that. That's just how he is. And I'd be willing to bet he even found satisfaction in knowing all that bubble wrap would be just as thrilling (to some of us) as those tasty oranges!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Big Deal About Hair

The other afternoon the principal emailed all the parents to inform them that a large number of students in the school have been diagnosed with lice, and in order to prevent the further spread of lice --in addition to the normal precautions of staying home if you have the little buggers-- she's "requesting that all children come to school with a fitted head covering that remains on their head all day." Sounds reasonable, although I have to admit that, being the Baptist-bred girl that I am I had a little giggle at the term "head covering" and wondered if it was in fact April 1st. No, it is not, so stop giggling.

The quibble began that night, as soon as I told my very long-haired daughter of the orders from the higher-ups. Without a pause she proclaimed, "everybody's going to be wearing their hair down, mama!" Oh. So apparently that email from the principal was a joke? Dubious.
The next morning I proposed a cute idea for putting her hair up, and if she didn't like it she could change it, as long as it was ok'd by the teacher. But she still had to have her hair up. Up is the point. No dangling hair swishing around, picking up lice. So I do her hair in the cutest little low-pigtail-braids-looped-under thing and send her off to school.
She looked worried.
She nervously fondled her braids.
She schemed.
I took Morgen into her class, and then out of curiosity, went to Korah's classroom to check out how other kids were creatively carrying out the principal's orders. These were the teacher's words: "I saw Korah come in with the super-cute braids, then she ran to the bathroom and came back with her hair down."
My heart sunk. There she was, long hair swishing around, with a brown knit beenie, rockin' the "hipster or homeless" fad. Gone were her American Girl looped braids I'd worked so hard on, as if they'd never existed, her hair still damp from her morning shower.

I am angry. I can't believe she just wasted my time, totally went behind my back, purposefully waited until I wasn't looking to take those braids out...!
Now, something that I'm discovering about myself is that anger is my go-to cover-up for pain. Anger comes easy for me as a learned and rehearsed response. Anger makes me scary and then I can control people, muahahaha! It works great with kids. Of course, the problem with anger is that it sabotages every other parenting goal I have, like communicating unconditional love to my kids. So now the question is, what hurts? Is it that she didn't like my hair-do? That she is risking putting us through Lice, a.k.a. Hell On Earth? That she didn't ask the teacher like I'd suggested, she just changed? That she was kinda sneaky about it? And then I realize what is hurting me the most.

I am a control freak. For 10 years give or take I have been in control --and rightly so-- of what my kids eat, drink, watch, wear, who they hang out with, where they play, what they play with... it's my job. And I love how being responsible for these little lives has caused me to think twice about everything I do, why I should make certain choices and how I need to grow as a person. My own faith has been strengthened as I am challenged to figure out what I believe and to live out the Gospel in front of my kids so that it's not just a fairytale cliche to them. But kids grow up and become adults, obviously. Adults who need to decide for themselves what to wear, how to do their hair, who to play with and what to eat! I have had this goal in mind for my children all along, but if I am really honest about myself I would have to admit...(gulp)...that I am hurt that I have to let up some control over Korah's life. If she gets lice, she will have some consequences to be sure (we all will). But if I make her hair into a big, huge My-Way-Or-The-Highway deal, of course she's not going to trust me with her opinion, her heart. She'll just wait until I'm not looking and change it.

I'm stepping into a new role. Well, not new entirely. I believe that if you're paying attention, God eases you into these new stages. But in this new era of fighting over stupid things like hair-do's, skinny jeans and attempts to consume candy en mass, the bottom line for me is to love my kids no matter what. If you haven't yet walked through puberty with your kids, you will think that is a no-brainer. Of course I'm going to love my kids no matter what! But this particular morning I struggled with that. I struggled with forgiving my kid for having her own opinion about hair for Pete's sake, and for not needing or wanting my help.

And this is where I deepen my understanding of...
a whole lotta things. If I love my daughter, I will let her make choices and take appropriate risks. I will leave room for failure or disappointing consequences. I will be prepared to be on her team, win or lose, cheering her on, being her biggest fan. I always used to think that would be easy for me, seeing as how I intensely want that same respect from my parents. Well, that and how I love my kids so much and they are so amazing and how could our family not be that anomaly of perfect relationships? But in real life, your kids grow up faster than you ever expected, and your role warps and changes before your very eyes and is quite a malleable thing (you are now realizing), and no matter who you are, this is largely a train-on-the-job experience. But that's where unconditional love can be learned. Right now, marriage is teaching me the same thing: how to love like Jesus. And every time I take a step toward giving up the idea that my relationships aren't solely about me and my own happiness, my heart opens up and I see how deeply God loves me, giving His Son to live, struggle and then die selflessly on my behalf. And geez...that Love is so huge, it's way bigger than any hurt I could ever receive from my husband or my kids.

I want to end with a little excerpt from Sacred Parenting (Gary L. Thomas). I haven't read the whole thing, but I'm glad to know that this book is based on an idea that God is already in the process of teaching me: that marriage and parenting can change my character, make me more human, more dependent on and like Him if I let it...
"When a child disobeys, God calls us to respond in love. Anger may become a servant of love, but it must never define it. Children need to see our total commitment to them, so they realize that our angry response does not reflect self-seeking (as though the greatest offense is the embarrassment brought on us) but rather shows a fierce and passionate concern for their well-being. Anger that mirrors God's own anger is thus a selfless anger. One element of self-interest remains -- grief that a relationship has been betrayed and that trust has been broken -- but the grief tilts toward what the offender has lost and toward our hope for their welfare." Sacred Parenting, Gary L. Thomas; chapter 7: Burning Love

That is what I hope to look like as a mom...

**PS- do you like my Donald Miller-esque bold paragraph headings? For some reason I hated that he was doing that and now, for some reason, I'm feeling compelled to try it out! What is that all about?!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Micah's 5th

More pictures, stories and, as can be expected with all things Micah, silliness and laughter to come. For now, this:

Monday, November 2, 2009

Field Trips

After scurrying around dropping kids off for school, I hopped the MAX just in time to join Taylor's 3rd grade class on their field trip downtown to the PSU farmer's market.

Abe was there.

My favorite thing on field trips is to take pictures of the class as they're listening to the host or a tour guide, and later checking out their expressions. I'll take several pictures and it's amusing to see who is consistantly not paying attention at all, who is nerdily answering all the "who knows..." questions, who is completely bored, distracted, surprised, contemplative. Kids just let it all hang out; I love it.

This was the Chinook dude who had been fishing in Hood River since the wee hours of the morning until it was time to drive up here to sell his catch. They were unloading his van as we arrived.

Lord have mercy, cut me a piece of that and I'll eat it right here and now. Mmmmm...

Taylor brought a few dollars of his own that he carefully spent on: this delicious white peach...

...and the ever-coveted honey stick.

What is it with the honey sticks? They are crazy about them. Crazy, I tell you. As if eight-year-old boys aren't crazy enough.

And then there was this chubby ball of fleece, my little tag-a-long.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Carving Out Some Time..... make some cards. Or a card. My aspirations are still far higher than I can breathe without an oxygen tank...

The metal part of the knife is aluminum foil! Tee-hee...dangerous!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Birthday Cards

Some more spontaneous card love for some lovely ladies that I love. Birthday love.

...and another one, which I did while babysitting and couldn't photograph, is given a very sweet review here. I might just branch out from the Chinese Lantern thing soon, I can feel it...


Sunday, October 11, 2009

How to Relax Like a Vonderhizzle 101

So, Morgen turns six, sprouts fairy wings and has some of her little pixie friends over for tea. Then later that day, we high-tail it outta town for a much-needed over-nighter in the woods. A great community dinner with friends, s'mores, guitar and wine by the campfire late into the night and we were right where we needed to be. Breathing deep...

Except that I feel like I should clarify what I mean by "guitar" and you'll understand (especially if you knew us as Californians) what I mean by "relaxed". See, I told Dave to bring his guitar, and he mumbled something about not wanting to play in front of everyone... yeah, whatever. So much to my disappointment he left his trusty Taylor behind. Well, someone brought a guitar, and inevitably it found its way into Dave's hands, which led to the inevitable medly of TV theme songs. Which, of course, for us late-Gen Xers, led to the inevitable fireside sing-along. It was awesome!

And this, of course, led to two things:
1. "Big Red" was stuck in everyone's head for at least a week, and...
2. A new band was formed.

So we'll see what comes of that! Nevertheless it was a riot. SO GOOD for the Vonderhizzles to get away and laugh and not think about laundry or work or a decrepit Vonderhaus. This is how to relax like a Vonderhizzle:

Let us pause for a moment to appreciate the rock that David found (see all the gray rocks in the background?) that is Carhartt Brown! Very cool!

This is how I know I am relaxed: when this is all I bring with me.

It was C-C-C-COLD in the night (and in the morning) and Micah was wearing all the clothes he'd brought. He finally stripped off a layer and kicked back in his 'jams. Relaxin', Micah-style.

Morgen has a made a great friend in the little sister of one of Korah's perfect!

They are a cute couple of girls, but... let's just say I keep my eye on them. They are just full of spunk and "good ideas"....

This is how Morgen relaxes... they made a little "bed" of the rocks, pillows and all, and settled in for a little "nap". I'm really glad these two have each other :)

Taylor has lots of open space to explore and discover, without anyone breathing down his neck. This is good for him. And he was finding all kinds of neat stuff.

He even brought home some Minnows, which he was pretty excited about (how he got them home, I'm not sure). He watched them for a few days before they became a can of stink on the front porch. Then he fertilized the garden. I love that kid!

This kid's got like twelve layers on. He's feelin' pretty chill.

So tiny! So cute! Amazingly, he slept great in the pack-n-play in the tent, all bundled up in those layers.

Noble L-O-V-E-S all these rocks. He would pick them up and throw them until he'd cleared a spot and then he'd crawl to a new spot and throw rocks until he'd cleared that one, and so on, tasting a few along the way. One thing about this kid: there is no terrain that is intimidating to him. Grass, gravel, concrete, carpet, water... he'll eagerly explore them all!

(What's this kid thinkin'?)

Mmmm...all cozy in the sun, snugglin' with my boy.
Good times. Good, good times.

Friday, October 9, 2009

On Fairies and Camping

Seis de Morgen! Morgen begged and begged for this candle. Oh jeez, it's the least I can do for that sweet little sweetheart sweetykins.

All the kids helped make our birthday banner. (Ignore the mossy basketball net on our front porch.)

A happy girl blowing out her birthday candle.

What beautiful girls! They don't sit side-by-side like this often, so it's amazing to see how alike they look. Hmmm...I look at these two pretty fairy girls and what I see is a ying and yang of joy. They are both so different, and give me a giddy feeling of joy in such different ways. It's inexplicable, but together, it feels like wholeness. I hope they are always friends, the years only drawing them closer.

Present time! Fairies get really cool a wooden star wand and felted art and other neat things I couldn't see because the whole event looked like this:

A whirling dervish of fluttering fairy wings! A blurry blizzard of magicalness!
If it weren't for her brother, who gave her a nickle wrapped in half a roll of tape, the whole thing would've lasted a mere 2.5 minutes.

Our campy indoor banner; should be good for the whole birthday season...


One of the traditions at the kids' school is to have the parent come in and tell a story about their child or about their birth. It seemed mortifying at first, but I really quite like it. It's fun to brag on your child in front of her class. And because it's expected and anticipated, they are not dying of embarassment. All the kids love it! So anyway, I got to go in and tell a little story I wrote in the hospital when Morgen was born about the day she was born and why she was given her name. In this story there is a castle on a hill overlooking a lush kingdom of forests and streams, and a king and a queen who are much in love, and a duty to war and a duty to labor... But I shall save that story for another birthday.

Because.... also this day we had the epic event of a VACATION! Or something close to it. After vacuuming up the last of the cupcake crumbs and putting away the last teacup (ha--if you know us at all, you know we left it all there), we threw all our tents and sleeping bags and hotdogs and marshmallows and...well, what else do you need?....into the car and took off for Oxbow Park for a weekend of camping with some of the families from Korah's class. Taylor and I had done a Mother-Son campout there a few weeks prior and I fell in love! There were deer everywhere, a beautiful river and forests to explore...mere minutes from civilization! It's killing me that we've never in our 12 years here, taken advantage of this oasis. We even used to live a scant 15 minutes away! So we came, we relaxed... we didn't see Korah the entire time because she was off exploring the forest with her classmates sans grown-ups (creating some important milestones for sure!). It was fantastic! But frick, was it ever COLD! I was NOT prepared for that, and after the first night we went home for a long, hot shower and then snuggling under many covers in a soft, soft bed!! I have never loved my bed so much!

Because of the amount of pictures I have, I'm going to start a new post. Read on or click here.