Thursday, October 30, 2008

California Vacation

This past Thursday, Pete and I had the unique pleasure of waking up in time to see the sunrise here in North Carolina, and then watching the sunset that evening over the Pacific Ocean.
And in between we had very fun, sight-full day! We arrived in San Francisco and spent several hours meandering around the city, seeing some of the touristy things. Then we drove down to Half Moon Bay, enjoying the coast, and the beautiful town there once we arrived. We stayed at a great Bed-and-Breakfast there (with some awesome ameneties!) and loved walking around and exploring.

For the rest of our stay in sometimes-sunny CA, we went to the best bed-and-breakfast we've ever been to: Chez Wray (aka John and Keiko's house). The Monterey/Pacific Grove area is beautiful this time of year (don't I sound like an expert from all of my many trips out there? No.... but all the locals were saying this was the best time to be there) and we saw plenty of sun and warm weather. But we also got a kick out of how fast the temperature can swing wildly -- just by driving 5 minutes in a particular direction! For instance, we drove down to Point Lobos State Park, and for the whole drive, and even as we went in through the entrance of the park, it was very warm and sunny. But then, suddenly, about 100 yards into the park, it got very foggy and chilly! (This happened BOTH times we went to this park) And by the time we were hiking out on the top of some of the cliffs by the water, it was downright freezing. As John says, you have to employ "modular dressing" out there - for the rest of us, this means "layering" your clothing.

John and Keiko graciously took us around to all their local sights: the Monterey aquarium, Cannery Row, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Pebble Beach, 17 Mile Drive, the Monarch Sanctuary, etc. And we ate quite well -- Keiko's homecooked meals, John's waffle specialty, and several yummy restaurants, including Dad's favorite place in the whole world: Stix, the bar/restaurant overlooking Pebble Beach golf course and the ocean. It was a delightful experience to have a whole weekend to be with just adults, having long conversations without interruptions, feeling free to make decisions without the pressure of a bedtime schedule, etc. I felt very free the whole time! Thanks to Mom and Dad, the kids at home were well cared-for and having a great time, so we just enjoyed ourselves -- and were very thankful.

Thanks, John and Keiko (and Mom and Dad), for a fantastic trip!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

How Pete spent last weekend

lAs mentioned before, Pete joined a bunch of his friends for their semi-annual "ATF" gathering last weekend. By some rough calculations, I think we have determined that this was approximately the 26th such gathering! There is a group of 10 of them who attend regularly -- 9 former Grove City students, and one former Grove City professor.

Thanks to Trey Miller (owner of Pascal Agency -- how's that for a plug?), I got to see some pictures of this auspicious event. The guys usually stay in cabins that are part of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, and this time they picked one they had not tried before. It required them to park and then hike in for about 2 miles, reportedly on a narrow and harrowing trail with multiple switchbacks, the threat of killer bears and an uphill incline in both directions. But they were MEN about the whole thing, hauling in whole cases of beer, several pounds of meat, etc. It looks like it was in a beautiful location once they got there!

They got to spend some time hiking on the Appalachian Trail on Saturday, and by the looks of things, also got to spend a lot of time talking and talking and talking...

The name for these ATF weekends was originally meant to be "alcohol, tobacco and firearms" but from these pictures it looks as if it's become more like "alcohol, talking and food." To be fair, I think the "F" has actually been usurped by Football usually... although I did not hear about this this time. Maybe something about the average age of attendees precariously tipping over the far edge of 35 has now brought this activity to an end as well?

They DID try and revive the original "F" intention last winter, though.... Here's a picture from that event.

In all seriousness, I am very thankful for this group of men. Even though I don't get to actually go on these trips (thankfully), I do benefit greatly, having a husband who comes home refreshed, newly challenged, and encouraged by these life-long friends. I admire their commitment to the group and to one another, and the accountability they provide for each other is amazing to see. I won't get all sentimental and weepy, since this is supposed to be a manly post, but I'll just say that Pete and I are both very thankful for these friends!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fun Friday Frolicking with Friends

My favorite quotes from the last 24 hours

Colsen: [Pretending he was driving away in his car to go to work] Bye guys! Goin' to work. Bye Sweetheart! Driving. Actually, can't drive.... Too high.

Strider: [After watching Colsen refer to Rayna as Ava] Colsen is never going to be able to get married if he doesn't pay better attention to girls than THAT!

Rayna: [Singing] Broccoli, Ba-roccoli, Barack Obama! (It's her favorite jingle these days... one that she made up. I don't think it's a candidiate endorsement, though)

Pete: [After trying to convince me that "Miles" is a good baby name for a boy, and I suggested we might as well name the baby "Kilometers...] Baby, baby, baby. We are just NOT a metric system family.

Colsen: [After I found his cup that I had been looking for] Find it, Mommy? Good boy!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Another Fun Fall Festival

Our neighborhood had their annual Fall Festival this weekend, so while Pete was off for the weekend with his "ATF" friends and feeling very manly doing an hour-long-hike-in-carrying-all-the-supplies-for-the-weekend-including-lots-of-water-and-beer-on-their-backs-to-a-very-rustic-cabin, the Drescher's and Aunt Katie came over for the day. We all had fun perusing the various offerings of the Festival...

Then, that evening we had a table set up to sell some cocoa and cookies as a fundraiser for some friends who are adopting 2 boys from Peru. A lot of friends turned out to help, listen to a loud band, and even do some dancing.

A very fun Fall day!

Almonds: God's idea of an effective surprise? My idea of a baby name?

I recently read a Bible trivia question -- in an ad in the local newspaper, of all places -- that asked, "What sprouted from Aaron's staff in Numbers 17?" I had no idea, and decided I really didn't care enough to go look up the answer. But then later that week when I happened to see mention of this "Aaron's staff that had budded" in Hebrews, I decided the coincidence had gotten my attention enough, and finally looked it up.

I don't know why I had never really seen/noticed this before, but it's kind of a funny story! Well, maybe not necessarily funny, since it's God's response (again) to a large group of complaining, grumbling, challenging-all-authority Israelites, but it's interesting anyway. Apparently some of the people were questioning Aaron's right to be a priest (from what I can understand), so God told them He would answer that question once and for all. Each of the 12 tribes of Israelites were to bring one staff, and write the name of their tribe on it. Then he told them to put them in a specific place and "...the staff belonging to the man I choose will sprout..."
So that was the test -- to see which staff sprouted overnight. Gotta hand it to God for his creativity. But then He gets even more creative...

"The next day Moses entered the Tent of the Testimony and saw that Aaron's staff... had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds."!! Isn't that pretty funny? Why almonds?? Of all things to choose, I just think that's creative. (There's probably some theological significance and symbolism to it all that I am missing, but I'm ok with that.) To me, it looks like He's saying, "you guys need an answer here, but I'm going to go over the top and have some fun with it all -- and show you more of my character by even giving you almonds!"
It made me think about how He does stuff like that in my life, too. Some little things, some big things that are just "over the top" unexpected blessings or signs that He's in charge, working and active. And that got me to thinking about this baby I'm currently carrying. This one is definitely another sign that God is active and in charge here... and maybe that He has a sense of humor in it all as well.

So I looked up "almonds" as a word in a few different languages, looking for a potential baby name, but the research didn't bear much fruit, if you will. Unless Shaqed is a good baby name? Or Cagla perhaps?

So, then I thought maybe just "Almond" would work. In this day and age with babies being born with names like Apple and Coco, why not Almond? Plus, I've always liked the name "Joy" for a middle name...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

"Actually" I don't know why this is so funny to me...

From the perspective of some people, this may just serve to underscore a new level of banality in my life, but I have been getting a kick out of watching my kids try out grown-up words. It cracks me up when I hear Strider discussing politics or the economy with our adult neighbors, or when I hear Rayna referring to her art project as "fabulous." And Colsen is of course at the stage in which he is trying to sound more and more grown up all the time. I loved hearing him say goodnight to Rayna last night as we left her room and he added, "Sleep well, Rayna." I also like it when he adds "or somethin'" or "and stuff" to the end of his sentences, like when he handed me his pacifier the other day and said, "Put in crib or somethin." And I like it when I hand him something and he says, "Fanks, Mommy" then pauses and says, "You're welcome, Mommy!"

But my favorite word that kids learn is "actually." I don't know why it always strikes me -- I remember remarking about it when both Strider and Rayna started saying it -- but it just does. It just takes them to a new level of big-kid, I think. This past week Colsen has been trying it out... I'm still not sure he knows exactly what it means, but he tries. Several times I've heard him say something like "Going upstairs, Mommy. Be right back. Actually....can't," and then he keeps going.

And speaking of things that make me smile, I've been meaning to capture this on film for about 9 months now... finally did. When our other kids learned to come down the stairs, they were always very careful and would methodically come down one step at a time -- foot, knee, hand, hand. But Colsen, almost from the first time he tried it, just shoots down them lickety-split like this. It always sounds like he's falling when I hear him coming, but he loves it!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I guess we're letting him hang out with the older neighborhood kids a bit too much...

Rayna came downstairs yesterday dressed like this:

(she's still in her monochromatic dressing phase), and Strider looked up, saw her, and announced, "Rayna, you're the opposite of Gothic today."