(click on any photo to see them larger)

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Here is my favorite Christmas photo for this year. Christmas night, over at my parent's place, Jessi wanted us to get on Skype for a little chat. We have done Skype before, but never in a group on a holiday before. From now on, whenever one of my kids is unable to make it home when all the rest are there, we are going to do this again. It was second best to actually having her home, she and Ariel got to talk with everyone there and we all got to see each other. It is the closest my boys have come to meeting their new brother-in-law. I can't believe such an amazing program is free and we were able to talk endlessly and do silly things, like take a family photo, hold up the gifts we sent each other and all kinds of things to make it seem like we were really all together for Christmas. Hopefully NEXT year we really will be!!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Emily and Joshua are here! I get to have them for three days while John and Rachel are at the beach to celebrate their anniversary.

Last night we went to see Christmas lights. Emily has her own camera and so she and I were taking pictures of everything, then Joshua wanted to try taking a few. I thought it was more fun watching him take pictures than it was to take them myself. It was even MORE fun when I got home and put them on the computer to see what they ended up with. This way I got to see it through their eyes. I love those blurry pictures too!


Emily has been giving us all daily email updates on how many days left until Christmas. So she was pretty excited to get the picture of the snowman with the countdown going.


It was such a fun night driving around, singing all the Christmas songs we knew, walking around and taking pictures. We came home and warmed up with hot chocolate.


Joshua's pictures are the top collage, the bottom one are Emily's.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Last week, we had a really cold spell. Because there was no snow or ice to deal with, it was the prefect chance for me to go to Multnomah Falls to get some pictures of the frozen water. I have always wanted to do that, but usually the road conditions make it impossible to get up there. I called Mom and Dad to go along with me and we took the old hwy up there, stopping along the way to get some shots of the other falls too. It was so worth the drive up there, I could not believe how beautiful they were in real life. And of course, we had to take time for lunch while we were there. It was a great day!
This one was taken at the bridge, looking straight down as the water fell over. From the bottom, it looked like a volcano crater, from the top, the color of the water was so blue.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

BRRRRR!!!! It's been cold here! Wood stoves are going and everyone is doing all they can to stay warm. The other morning, it was only 7 degrees when we woke up. It has been sunny and clear skies. This morning we woke up to a thin layer of ice over everything. My sister was trying to get to work this morning, and rolled her truck, totalling it out. We are very thankful that she was given an 'all's well' when she was checked at the hospital. Two days after Thanksgiving, I woke up to phone call at 3 am, from the Red Cross. I headed out and was shocked to discover upon arrival to the scene, that it was one of my good friends! None of the classes I have taken or teach say anything about how to handle things when that happens. Normally we get the client into a hotel and help with some temporary food and clothing. Well, there was no way I was going to send her all alone to a hotel in the middle of the night. I told her that if she wanted, I would prefer to take her home with me. We gave her the Red Cross options and the neighbors were all inviting her to stay with them. I was soooo happy when she took me up on the offer. She is thankful that her house and keepsakes were saved, even though she will have to live elsewhere for a few months while the insurance repairs the damages.

In case you are wondering, I have had a ton of trouble getting onto Blogger to post anything, so that is why I have not updated much in the past couple of weeks. I am trying to work it out, right now it is just a bandaid to get on, gotta figure out what is really wrong.



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Thursday, November 26, 2009


HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Psalm for Thanksgiving.

Psalm 100
Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness, come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the Lord Himself is God, it is He who has made us and not we ourselves. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with Thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and bless His name. For the Lord is good, His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.



Friday, November 20, 2009


John, Dennis and Jessi will be happy to know that I have found an outlet for my love of taping packages. My job. One of my jobs is to package orders we get. That means I get to use tape...lots of tape. Over the years, they have all made comments on the amount of tape I use to package something. I come by it naturally, my Grandma McCool was famous for it. She would not even send a card without taping every possible opening. You would have to go get scissors to even open it.
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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Joshua is 8!!!!



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Saturday, October 31, 2009


I am so proud! I have been officially published! My very own first calendar of my photos. My sister asked me if she could have a copy of my favorite photos from last year. I didn't know what she was going to do with them all, she said that she might use a few of them on the print shop calendar that they make and give out to clients every year. I had no idea that the whole calendar would be my pictures!!!


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FALL...yes, they are falling...the leaves this year are spectacular!The colors are so amazing! I thought I had enough pictures from last year, so I really didn't plan on taking many fall shots this year. But I could not resist. Somebody told me they are prettier this year because we had such a dry summer...I have no idea, but they are excellent. I think I said that last year too!
This is a pond closeby, I just like how the picture turned out, kinda fall, but a really nice reflection of the colors.
So today is Halloween. Last week, I stopped off at a local pumpkin patch to take a few pumpkin pictures. I know that all these pumpkins were not chosen in time to go home with some little kids to be carved out and lighted up...isn't it sad that they will not have a home?
I guess there is hope that somebody will still take one home and make pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving...
HAPPY FALLTIME!!!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Yesterday Emily and Joshua were in a cross country meet. They run a 1.8 mile course. They are both in different divisions, separated by age and sex, but they ran their race at the same time. Emily was ahead of Joshua while they were in our sight, then they headed into the woods, when they came out, Joshua was right behind her. He kept getting closer and closer to her and as they rounded the field for the final stretch, he kicked in and passed her. It looked like she was just going to let him beat her until they hit the track. Then she kicked it in and it was if they were the only two racing...they were in a sprint for the finish. It ended up he beat her by 1/10th of a second. To anybody else watching it must have seemed no big deal, but for us who were family watching it was pretty hilarious. We didn't know who to hope would win. They both had their best times ever.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

When I was in the third grade, my family moved from Portland out to the Sandy area. We went from being city girls to farm girls. We had acres of property to play on, with forts and horses and a raspberry field. We moved in the fall. One of my first memories of our new place was all of the caterpillars crawling around. I don’t remember if it was the first time I had seen one or not, but I remember suddenly we had all these orange and black fuzzy critters crawling everywhere. We used to put them in jars along with leaves and grass and wait and wait to see them become a butterfly. All they became was dead. A couple of weeks ago, Emily and Joshua were here and sure enough, they found the caterpillars and the first thing they wanted to do is put them in a container and add some leaves and grass. Some things never change.






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Thursday, October 8, 2009

3 years ago, for my 50th birthday, John sent me to Antigua, Guatemala to work on my Spanish. I stayed with the same host family and attended the same school that Jessi had when she studied there a few years earlier. I was gone for 6 weeks. It was an amazing trip. My host mother is the same age as me and we got along so perfect and have so much in common. She would sit with me for hours talking in Spanish. I went to class in the morning and then spent my afternoons volunteering at a hospital for children with severe disabilities. I got way more out of my time spent at that hospital that I gave. While at the school, I met a woman from Sweden. Her name is Kajsa (pronounced k eye sa). We traveled around together when we had some free time and spent a long weekend at Lake Atitlan. We decided it would be perfect to meet up on the east coast sometime, so that neither of us travels so far. That is what happened last week. We met up and spent a great time together, eating in fancy restaurants, visiting art museums, going for walks, laughing and talking and talking. It was a great get away and time for relaxing. We can't wait for the next time!


Monday, September 21, 2009

Last week, Bonnie and I went out to the Swan Island Dahlia fields. I was afraid that it might be too late in the season to get good pictures, but it was still really pretty. As far as your eye could see there was color, so much color that you could not take it all in. My eyes were on color overload.











I didn't realize how attracted to dahlias the bees are, until I was out there. Maybe because the flower season is almost over and there are not many choices for the bees to choose from. Anyway, it seems I took more bee photos than just flower photos.














I also was pretty proud to get the ladybug on the purple salvia.





Saturday, September 12, 2009

I have a confession to make. A few months ago, I moved my herb pot on the back deck and in the process, I saw a tiny little frog hopping away. Well, that is not so bad, what was bad was that he had one of his back legs dangling. I had crushed it when I moved the pot. I didn't know what to do. I felt so bad for maiming him. I thought maybe I should catch him and end his suffering, but didn't really think I could do that (catch him OR finish him off), but before I could really figure out a plan, he had hopped right off my upper deck and was gone. It has bothered me ever since, whenever I water the plants out there, I think of him. Well, the good news is...HE IS ALIVE! Last week, I was just below the deck caning out my berries and saw something hopping around. It was my maimed little frog! I watched him for a while and then ran in to get my camera. He actually seems to be just fine in spite of missing a back leg. He hopped right over to safety from me and hid in the blueberry bush next to where I was working. He hops so fast that it was really hard to get a picture. This is the best one I got. I don't blame him at all, after our last encounter, he probably thought he was a goner for sure.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Catching up on Summer before it is gone

Before the summer is over, I need to go back and catch up on what else happened. First off, the 35th class reunion that I was working on. It was so much fun! I really didn't want to work on it, let alone go and it ended up being a really good time. That is how I felt five years ago, when we had our 30th. I had heard rumors there would be one. I got an email from a few classmates about going, I said I was not sure and then one thing led to another and I had the checkbook with my name on it, and "since my sister owns a print shop" (do you think that is why they got me involved?), I did the invitations, reminders, name tags and update book. We ended up with an amazing turnout...which did not happen this time around. I guess the curiosity factor was gone from 5 years ago and it was just too soon for everyone to go through it again already. But it was a good time to chat and catch up for those who did go. It was so sad to know of a few classmates who died...two of them within the month before the reunion. I know that there are going to be more who can't make it to the future reunions, so actually, even though I was reluctant to be working on it, I came away glad that I did. I was afraid that those who made it would be disappointed that there were not more there and leave as soon as we ate, but everyone stayed and stayed. Everyone left saying they for sure want to have a 40th and promised to help get the word out and round up the missing ones. I sure hope they do!
Here is the group shot of the classmates who showed up. The top is the classmates from Sandy High school. The bottom one is the 5 who made it from grade school. We only had 20 in our 8th grade class. 14 boys and 6 girls. Last time around we had a Cottrell reunion the night before, all but two girls and 6 boys showed up. We will make sure they ALL make it for the 40th.
A few years ago, my sisters and I decided that it would be fun, instead of shopping around for a gift for each other, that we would pick a restaurant that we would like to go to with each other and then get a $25 gift card for each other to that restaurant. We each pick a restaurant and buy 4 cards, one for each sister and of course we include one for Mom and Dad and ourselves. But the rule is we keep the name of the restaurant a secret until we all open the card, and we go together to use it and the person who bought the card picks the night we go and makes the reservations. When the bill comes, we all toss in our gift cards and then split the remainder of the bill between us. It does not have to be an expensive place, just one we think would be fun for us all to go to. It has turned out to be a fun gift that we enjoy all year long and it gives us a chance to try places we might not have gone to before. My parents take part also, but they kick it up a notch. Last year it was a trip to Seattle for dinner (including train fare and hotel), this year we had a dinner cruise up the Columbia on the Sternwheeler. It was really nice. A perfect day for it, sunny and warm and we could not even feel a breeze while we were out on the deck. The food was fantastic too! The summer always ends with Emily and Joshua getting to spend a few days here at my place because John has to go back to teacher's inservice days at school. This year was no different. We made churros, hunted caterpillars, bought school clothes, went ice skating and had one last time in the pool. And I do mean the LAST...Great Grandma and Grandpa have decided that they have to remove the pool. It is due for too many repairs and with the few weeks of use it gets, it is just not worth the work to get it all up to par again. We have had so many good times there and made a lot of memories, but it is time to move on. Mom reminded me that it was my kids who were the first to get to swim in it 20 years ago and thought it coincidental that it would my grandkids who were the last. They will begin tearing it out this week and will do some sort of landscaping in its place. Maybe leaving it sunken in places with a fountain. Joshua suggested maybe a huge bridge over the hole. They will have to get back to him on that.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

She left!

I know the whole purpose of her being here was to get well so she could go back home, but maybe somehow I was hoping that she would just stay and stay. It was so good to have her here...well, once she got mostly well, which she still in not 100%, but well enough that she had to get back to her life in the Dominican Republic. OK, OK, I will stop my whining...I REALLY am glad she is better and back to her life...we took her out to dinner on our way to the airport on Friday night. She is now safely back with Ariel, who waited for her about as patiently as I do.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

SOMETHING HAD TO GO!

I can't believe that so much time has gone by without being able to post anything here. But my usual schedule...which most people who know me, know is packed as full as you can get it, has been topped off to overflowing. Having Jessi home to mend has been such a blessing to me. Except for the hours I am at work, I don't think we have been apart at all. I don't want to waste a minute of her being here. When she was feeling so sick, I was close to see what I could do, now FINALLY she is feeling better and we have so much we want to do before she goes back to Ariel. On top of the usual summer things that keep me busy, I have been busy with my 35th class reunion. Now don't ask me HOW that happened. I didn't even want to go! And now here I am as deep as you can get trying to put it on. It is today, so that will be one less thing in the pile of have to do things. But the biggest thing that has kept me away from here is that a couple of weeks ago, our house was broken into. A lot of the homes in this area have been. Jessi and I were at my parent's pool and came home to a broken back door window. They were not here long I don't think because they didn't take too much, John's rifles from his grandfather, they picked through my jewelry and only took the good stuff, Jessi's laptop, a wallet she uses for travel with some cash and her emergency credit card. They even had the nerve to use one of my suitcases to haul it out of here! Anyway, the good news is that it looks like they know who did it and are about to make an arrest! They used her credit cards and have them on video. But in the meantime, I have been swamped working on insurance forms and out trying to get estimates and re-buy everything. I hope to be back on track soon. The reunion is today and the insurance is coming together...so life will regain it's normalcy soon. I was driving the other day and came upon this sunflower patch and just had to stop to take pictures. (see, I DO take time to smell the flowers!)...it was so beautiful...all those bees out there buzzing around just made me think of me...so many flowers...so little time...bzzzzz

Monday, July 20, 2009



To most people, she looks just fine...when they see her, she up and walking around, eating, drinking and talking and laughing, but they don't see what a Mom sees. They don't notice that she is lacking her normal energy, that her smile is weaker, her laugh is less often and that her eyes are not twinkling, they aren't there when the pain hits and she can't do anything but wait it out. She even talks quieter and has me asking "What?" most of the time. When people see her who know her, but don't know that she has been sick, they look at her and say, "Wow, you lost some weight, good job! What is your secret?" To most people losing weight is a good thing, but when you lose weight because you could not even hold down water for weeks and weeks and now you are eating and eating and still not gaining, that is NOT good. The last time she was home for a long visit, she was in training for a triathlon...this time, it is a feat to slowly walk to the 1/2 mile to the corner and back, which she has only managed once. It is scary to see your kid in this condition. I think we have run the course with the gastroenterologists. They have tested her for all they can think of and most of the tests have come back negative. They have sent the last biopsy results in for a third opinion. Their final suggestion was another round of penicillin or steroids. We said no way to the steroids. They keep telling her they have never seen anything like it and don't really know why she is still in so much pain. Her stomach is a mess, the worst case of gastritis they have seen and they don't know why it won't clear up. They asked if they could take her case before the board of doctors at Providence Hospital and do a case study on her. She said yes, but now, in the meantime, she decided to try a naturopathic doctor. We made our first trip in to see him on Monday and from what I saw in the first visit, I feel like he is on the right track. He really seemed to understand the symptoms and has a course of action in mind. He talked to her, had her fill out some forms and requested all of her files from the other doctors, both in the Dominican Republic and here and will meet with her again today to begin treatment. She was supposed to fly back to Ariel next week, but the new doctor said that she should NOT return until she is well and he feels like he will need a few weeks to get her that way. That was pretty rough for her to agree to another month away from him, but she knows that she has to do it or she is just not going to get well, maybe even get worse. She knows that she came here to get well and getting part way well is not enough. She knows she can not go on with middle of the night wake up calls of pain in her stomach. Pain that keeps her awake for hours until the vicodin kicks in. So final decision, made mostly by Ariel, is to stay here, keep working at getting well and go back to the Dominican Republic at the end of August. I will send her back to Ariel when she is my normal Jessi once again.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009



We spent the day of the 4th at Mom and Dad's pool. Emily and Joshua are such good swimmers now. It is nice to not have to keep your eyes on them every minute and they don't even need the life vests on. Jessi is feeling a bit better, she still has rough times, but more good times than bad. She will be going in for another test this Friday because the doctor feels she is not getting well as soon as expected.I took the kids to get some fireworks and everyone came back here for dinner. I made my BBQ ribs, sausage dogs, salads, corn on the cob, and a recipe I used to make called Hobo Potatoes, only now I use sweet potatoes instead of white ones. Of course we had Smores for dessert. We had a fire in the fire pit and sat around and waited for dark to light the fireworks. For cheapie little fireworks, we had some pretty good ones. My favorite are always the sparklers.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

Sunday, June 28, 2009


So on the drive home from Seattle, we stopped into the Portland airport and picked up Jessi! I'll try to make a long story short...Friday night, she called us after our dinner with Dennis and said that she had reached her limit there and felt like it was time to come here and try to get well. After a few phone calls back and forth, she insisted that we continue with our plans, she would have a couple days to get packed up and say goodbye to Ariel for a while and then on Monday, she would fly in. John and Rachel and the kids were to pick her up that night and then take her to the doctor on Tue morning. We were due back in on Tue night. All was figured out. But when her plane was about to land in Atlanta, it circled for 1 1/2 hours and she missed her connecting flight! She had to get a hotel for the night and the soonest flight they could get her on the next day was at 5 pm!!! Poor girl was so sick. Throwing up and so weak she could not walk. She even had to have a wheelchair escort her around through customs! It was a pretty rough night for her, but she made it through and we picked her up from the airport on our way home from Seattle on Tuesday. John had rescheduled her doctor visit from Tue to Wed morn. We had her in there by 7 am. The doctor listened to her heart, asked about her symptoms and said the only place she belonged was in a hospital. By 8 am we had her admitted. She spent 3 days there and is finally back here at home with me. She has an inflamed stomach caused by the H.pylori bacteria. The specialist she has said it is the worst case he has ever seen. She has lost 13 pounds from not being able to eat or keep anything down. The medicine she needs has to be directly in the stomach to work, so they had to make up a special concoction that made her throat and stomach numb in order to keep her from throwing it back up. She had a pretty rough time getting it down. She is now able to eat bird sized meals and is not throwing up. The pain is subsiding, but she still has some pretty rough times. Hopefully, it will all be over and she will be back to normal soon. I've got pretty mixed feelings about her coming back...of course I wanted her here, but sure wish it was under better circumstances to have her here.