Monday, September 27, 2010

Cheering for the Bolts

Ok, so I can't avoid it. I'm a Chargers fan by marriage. Rich is die-hard and I love that about him. It's fun to care about something your spouse cares about! The Chargers finally came to Seattle during the regular season and it was on the perfect weekend - two days after Rich's birthday. We asked our good friends, Tracy and Deanna Jones to join us. Of course they are Seahawks fans, but we haven't let that hurt our friendship :)
As we had parked and were walking to the game, Rich saw a Chargers foam finger propped up against a light pole. He said something about wishing he could have it. The homeless lady sitting nearby said someone left it there hours ago and she was sure we could just have it! So we took it!
This just made me laugh. This is the line to get into the building next to the game (they had games and promotional give-aways for fans). They searched each person, so they had separate lines for men and women. This was the one time the men's line was MUCH longer!

These are the women waiting for their men in the other line :)
Deanna and I waiting for the boys. What a good friend!!

These were not our seats, but we walked down and enjoyed the view for a while.

Beautiful Seattle! The Space Needle is in the left side of the picture.

Chargers taking the field.

Seahawks taking the field. It was fun when they called out the starting lineup and each player came out alone. The crowd was crazy!!! My ears were ringing the whole time. I've got to give credit to the Seahawks fans - they love their team!

It didn't take long for the guys sitting next to me to move over! Maybe there weren't willing to sit next to Chargers fans.

Tracy and Deanna cheering for their team.

Look at those pretty blue eyes on my handsome guy!
Qwest Field is just really pretty. I love that we still had a view of the city.
Sooo.... sadly the Chargers lost. We were quite surprised since they were expected by most to win. It was a close game, though, and we were on the edge of our seats. I was reminded that I really enjoy watching football. Sunday afternoons are good for so many other things and I seldom make the time to sit down and watch a game with Rich. It was just a blast to watch in person, though. This is the last Bolts touchdown that didn't actually count, since Rivers unfortunately didn't get the play off in time.
Exciting for Seahawks/Annoying for Chargers: 2 kick-off returns in one game - both by Leon Washington for the Seahawks. This is what the crowd looked like after the second one. Crazy!

I would have loved to have seen the Chargers win in person. However, the loss had very little affect on my enjoyment of the whole experience. I got away with my husband and some really good friends. We had great conversation, lots of laughs, and made some wonderful memories. Rich and I got up early Sunday morning and had coffee at Starbucks while Tracy and Deanna slept in a bit. This weekend was really about getting a bit of a break and remembering that we're a couple. Children are blessing - time away from them is a blessing, too! :) And what's this? I'm holding my husband's hand? Oh yeah, baby!

Monday, September 20, 2010


We recently watched "Ramona and Beezus", which is SUCH a good movie. We don't buy a lot of movies, but this will be one we definitely try to own soon. I highly recommend it to any of you families who, like us, are touched by healthy, loving, family relationships being portrayed in clean and entertaining movies that the parents can actually sit through without wanting to jump out the window. Anyways, the whole movie, I just kept thinking, "this is soooooooo Allie". I've begun calling Allie "Ramona" at times, usually as I clean up another mess or watch her do something crazy like Ramona would do. You see, like Ramona, most of Allie's scrapes do not originate from a decision to be naughty, it just ends up looking that way. For example, she and I are eating our lunch and I just looked over at her and all 10 of her fingers are dipped in her chili bowl and she's lifting them to her mouth. That girl!

She started her second year of preschool today. We changed schools and she is in a preschool that is part of the Salem-Keizer Public Schools. Her teacher seems excellent and we picked this one on recommendation from a good friend, whose son is in class with Allie. I was a bit sad to be dropping her off this morning, but come on. It's 2 1/2 hours 3 days a week. I think I'm still going to have plenty of time with "Ramona". She has become my buddy, though. She's my shopping buddy, cuddle buddy, shower buddy (TMI?), baking buddy, and probably a few more.

I don't really have an explanation, other than... Ramona!!!

I think this is going to be a good year for us. She and I will still get two days a week to spend home together. I'm missing Avery quite a bit at this point. I keep wishing I could go see her at lunch, but I did that last week on my birthday and she had a hard time when I left. We both are struggling a bit with the adjustment. God has great things in mind, though, and I want to be a part of it! Anyway, Allie is such a blessing and I'm excited for all she's going to get to experience this year in preschool.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ready for the bar exam

I really hope I'm not breaking some sort of oath by making it known to the general public that I have recently served on a grand jury. Today was my last day. Last week I showed up on Tuesday and the clerk asked me if I was here for grand jury. In my ignorance, I didn't even know. Then I glanced at my jury summons and noticed that, in giant bold print, it said GRAND JURY. hmmm... Maybe I'm not the person they want on their jury if I can't even pay attention to something that obvious. I didn't even know there was a difference. As we finished our last case today, I reflected back to what seems like months ago (which was only a week and a half) and was amazed at how much I've learned about law, law enforcement, and crime in my own community.

So, since I imagine many of my readers are as clueless as I was, I'll explain what a grand jury does. We were picked by a judge last week and were told we would serve every other day for two weeks. Half of us would be on Tuesday/Thursday and the other half would be Mon/Wed/Friday. The Tuesday/Thursday group would have an additional service requirement of touring a prison facility. That's right. I went to prison. Anyway, we got about a 2 hour crash course in law and crime and learned everything from the difference between theft, robbery, and burglary, to what kinds of questions we're allowed to ask witnesses, to what amount of money stolen turns a theft into a felony ($1,000 in case you were interested). Then we were "ready". Basically, the District Attorney's office brings cases before us, almost always including at least one witness, presents any other evidence that is available, and we vote and decide if there is enough evidence to send the case on to trial (an indictment). We don't hear from a defendant and usually there is a lot more evidence yet to be uncovered.

What more can I say? I was not prepared for the severity of some of the cases. I am not fearful of my community now, but I am shocked at the nature of the lives that other people lead within blocks from my home. I cannot summarize this experience without giving my hearfelt gratitude and expressing how deeply I am impressed by the law enforcement officers in Salem and the surrounding areas. I have no idea how many patrolmen, detectives, sheriff's deputies, and drug officers I met. Every one of them was incredibly professional, extremely courteous, and it was apparent they took their job very seriously and were giving their absolute best effort every day to protect our community. I just can't say enough how impacted I was by my contact with them.

I must say, I had more than one person ask why didn't I just try to get out of it. First of all, if I believe God to be sovereign, then I have to believe He had this in mind for me. I have enough support that I was able to find childcare. I am not a breastfeeding mother. I possibly could have claimed that I was the sole caregiver of my children, but I'm not sure the judge would have excused me. More importantly, I felt pretty strongly that I needed to serve. I figure that if I was accused of something, I would want someone like me on their jury! I'm thinking that the person that has no life, for whom it is no inconvenience to be on a jury, one who is making minimal contributions to society - this person I'm not too excited to have on my jury.

On top of all the experiences concerning our cases, God had other things in mind. I began a conversation on our second day of service with the man who sat next to me. He was a retiree and was reading a book that I had noticed was about the apostle Paul. Well, we proceeded to "discuss" Christianity for the next 45 minutes. He disagreed with just about everything I had to say and was quite patronizing of my faith. His final request was that I admit that others could be right. I apologetically said I just couldn't agree with something that contradicted the Bible. During this whole conversation, only one person had left the room. I was in a room with 5 other people, very plainly claiming my faith in Christ for my salvation and my belief that the entire Bible is inspired by God. It doesn't get any better than that for growing your faith!

The other thing I would expand on was something I mentioned earlier: I went to jail. Yes, I spent time in the slammer. Every prison is legally supposed to be toured by a grand jury every year. We toured the Oregon State Correctional Institution yesterday. We saw many inmates. We talked with two men serving time for murder. We saw their cells. It was quite a sobering experience. I'm not sure why we have to tour the prison, but one of my thoughts is that because of that, there are people in our community who have seen inside prisons and are telling others of what they witnessed.

This whole experience, in fact, was just so eye-opening. Of course I was not naive enough to think bad things weren't happening around me. However, as a result of this experience, I have a broader understanding of pain and struggles that are happening literally down the street. Also, I have had direct contact with the real-life faces of "law" and "order". Those DAs are working so hard to get and keep criminals off the streets. I really have a renewed faith in our legal system. Even my fellow jurors took their job very seriously. Boy, these last 2 weeks will not be quickly forgotten.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A First for Avery

Well, I did it. I dropped my firstborn child off for an entire day of school. I won't see her again until 3:15. For a mom who has been home with her children since their birth, this is a big deal. I can't begin to explain the pride I have in this sweet girl. When I think back to our struggles when she was 2,3, and 4, I can hardly believe the moment we're in now.
The other day I was reminded of the first time I tried to take Avery on a bike ride. She screamed her head off the entire 5 minutes from the back of my bike. She was 2 years old. I attempted a time or two more, but she hated it every time. Now she rides her 2-wheeler with confidence and begs me to let her ride her bike.
Allowing and encouraging your kids to grow up can be a scary thing. But that's what my job is all about - giving her wings, teaching her to fly, and then letting her do it.
So here she is: my first grader!!!

We went on a search for the perfect backpack for Avery. She's not your typical 6 year old American girl - Barbie and Tinkerbell are fine and all, but MARIO takes the cake! So when we found a pink one, we knew it was the one!

Walking into her classroom.

I sure wish I could be a fly on the wall today! I wrote her a note, sent her favorite (bite-size) candy bar in her lunch, and left her to her day. Her teacher is the age of my parents and I hear she is a neat Christian woman. She is a seasoned teacher with her "ducks in a row", so to speak. I was thinking about why I feel so peaceful this morning, and I know a lot of it is because I'm so glad about who her teacher is. However, I'd like to think God has been growing and preparing me in all my anxiety about letting her go. I feel so blessed with where He brought me and has placed Avery! It is going to be a wonderful year!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Pepper Jack Meatloaf

I tried a new recipe tonight that I thought I'd share with you.  First of all, it's from "Taste of Home 5-10-20" cookbook.  All recipes either take 5 ingredients, 10 minute prep, or 20 minutes to the table.  My mom got it for me for Mother's Day and I've got a ton of recipes flagged to try.  There are a lot of pictures and the whole idea of the cookbook is right up my alley - good, homemade food that doesn't take all day to prepare.

Pepper Jack Meatloaf
1 egg
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1-1/2 lbs ground beef
1 cup grated pepper jack cheese

-Combine egg, bread crumbs, onion, salt and pepper.  Add beef and mix well. 
-Press half of the beef mixture in a greased 8x4x2 inch loaf pan on the bottom and sides.
-Sprinkle 3/4 cups cheese over the meat.
-Pat remaining beef mixture over cheese.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes until beef is no longer pink and meat is 160 degrees.  Sprinkle remaining cheese and bake 5 minutes more.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.  Serve with salsa if desired.

Here's my in-process pic, before I added the top layer of beef.

All done!

Here's my plate before I devoured it.  It was so good!

So, Erin's review is that it was a delicious and simple recipe that took minimal work on my part and my family LOVED it!

Sunrise moment

I can probably count on two hands how many times Allie has slept past 7 in the past year, maybe two years. She is my early riser and I can't fault her for it, since she gets it from me. She just always tells me, "I'm not tired!" I've tried many things to get her to sleep later and now I'm constantly telling her to go to the playroom and be quiet until someone else wakes up. That doesn't work, either. Anyway, I wasn't surprised when she was up at 6:20. I was awake, too, so we went downstairs to start our day.

We decided to wrap up in a blanket and sit on the porch to admire the sunrise. As we snuggled outside, enjoying the beauty of a quiet morning, Allie asked me, "Mommy, how did God make outsides?" That kid just melts my heart! It was not only an adorable question, but it was yet another opportunity to share with my sweet daughter about God's greatness. His incredible power to create from nothing by simply speaking is just mind-boggling. Then I said a simple prayer aloud, thanking God for His power and creativity.

Do you take those opportunities with your children? When they ask a simple question, do you take to time to once again share God's truth? Those quiet moments can be so influential to their hearts. It's not a sunday school lesson, just a quick moment when we get to tell our impressionable children of God's goodness.

And even I've been guilty of thinking my job as "Mom" can be a bit boring or just simply made up of being everyone's personal servant, merely filling everyone's physical needs. That's only my masquerade - it's what gets me in the door. My REAL job is pointing my children (and anyone else who will hear me) to our Savior. Pretty good gig, I'd say!