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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

AHHHH!!!!  It has been over a month since I have put anything on my blog!  I have thought about it a few times...I have even actually come to my blog to try to post something...but that is as far as I would get.  Sometimes, figuring out which pictures to use and what to say just takes up way to much time.  And these days, time is a precious thing. The way I see it...better to be busy making memories and catch up later...who wants to miss out on the fun?  Below are some photos of what has kept me busy. 

Christmas baking...didn't want to disappoint anyone, so made way more than we should have eaten...cookies, peanut brittle, almond roca, pound cake, peppermint cake, cheesecake...and a few others I know I forgot to list.  A few things got the ax this year due to lack of time...peanut butter balls & popcorn balls ...sad, but true...and guess what, nobody seemed to notice.  
 John and Rachel celebrated their 15th anniversary in Seattle, they saw 'Messiah', and Emily and Joshua got to spend 4 days with us.  Jessi and Ariel bought a house, so we were busy for a while helping them pack up and move at the first of the month.  It is just a few miles away, so we were able to have Josiah over, too, while the kids were here.
 It was Ariel's first Christmas in Oregon, so Jessi made sure he got to see all that was possible for her to show him.  One of the places she wanted him to see was The Grotto.  
 The next week, we all packed into the car and headed to the Portland Zoo for the Zoo Lights.  Great Grandma & Grandpa McCool went with us.  As it turned out, that was the record day for attendance since the Zoo Lights first began!  It was not all that crowded once we got inside, but driving there and parking and shuttle bus???  Not to mention the HUGE line to buy tickets...believe me, we thought more than once about just packing back into the car...but it was all worth it once we got inside...the lights were spectacular!!!  If you click on the photos you can see them better...that is Emily's silhouette in the butterfly photo.  
 Finally, Christmas Eve...John's parents came out for a few hours in the afternoon, then when the kids arrived with their families, we made a Skype call to watch Gabe open his gifts while we chatted with Dennis and Abby.  After that we had our Christmas dinner.  We finished off with the annual 'Birthday Cake for Jesus'.
 Christmas Day.  
Since we opened up gifts the night before, we were able to sleep in and have a leisurely brunch.  Then everyone headed over to Grandpa and Grandma McCool's place in time for the Laker game (Joshua, son John and Ariel are the big fans).  We had the usual McCool feast with the aunts, uncles and cousins. We used to all fit into the dining room, but the past few years, the table has stretched across the whole living room to fit us all around it.  

This is a house just down the road from here.  One of the nights Emily and Joshua were here, I took them to look at lights.  They think that I need to light up MY house like this next busy as I was this year...I think NOT!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

This is Joshua.  He is the Oregon State Cross Country Champion! He runs the 3K.  That is about 2 miles!  I can't remember his exact time, but I remember it was just over 6 minutes per mile!  
We are so proud of him!  Not because he is the champion, but because of the determination it took to achieve that.  It isn't easy to go out in the cold weather and workout.  But he decided he wanted to be a good runner and he worked hard to get the prize.  When most other guys his age are at home playing video games or watching TV in a nice warm house or whatever guys his age do, he gets out and gets it done and then he gets to do those other things too.  Good job, Joshua!!!   

This is him at the finish...the other runners were not even in sight!  He had a strategy and it paid off!  

Monday, November 14, 2011


On the 6th we celebrated Joshua's 10th birthday.  Great Grandma made him a water dragon cake. Normally, he picks out what he wants her to put on his cake, but this year he said for her to surprise him.  She picked the water dragon because that is his newest pet.

We celebrated Josiah's 1st birthday, a week later, on the 12th. Great Grandma made him a monkey cake. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

We ended up our trip with a stop in Santiago, Chile to visit the Valencias, Alfredo, Alexandra, Angella, Ashley and Allison. I first met Alfredo and Alexandra when I was in charge of the conversation partner program at Mt. Hood College for the international students. As I called around seeking people who were interested in practicing their language with somebody trying to learn a different one, I called Pastor Alfredo at Iglesia Vida Nueva to see if anyone in his Spanish speaking church would be interested. He immediately said, "YES, MY WIFE, ALEXANDRA" I set up an interview with her and decided right then that SHE would be MY partner, since I too was trying to learn a language. We met up once a week, first we would talk in English only for a half hour, then Spanish only for a half hour. We hit it off and pretty soon, our hour started turning into longer and more often. One day she suggested that I come to Iglesia Vida Nueva and have practice with church in Spanish. That was ages ago...about 16 years actually and I still attend there, even though a few years ago, they left the states and moved to Chile as head of missions in South America. They originally are from Colombia, but have made Chile their home for the past 10 years. I felt like we were in California. Santiago was like Los Angeles  and the drive to the ocean was through vineyards that made me feel like we were in Nappa Valley, ending at the ocean. From the vineyards we drove to the Pacific Ocean to Vina del Mar. We saw the ocean, sand dunes, seals and pelicans and beautiful tropical colored ocean, finishing off the day with a gorgeous sunset and drive through an old old town called Valparaiso and a view of the harbor. The next day, they took us on a city tour, beginning with a drive up the highest point to see the whole city. You could see how the city is built right up against the Andes. We drove through downtown and then walked around the Capital building, shown here with the mounted guards in front of it. The last place they showed us was a monastery/nunnery that has been restored and is now a little village for visitors. It is full of shops with typical crafts along with other things to look at. Lunch was really different for us and really good...translation was 'corn pie'. It was very similar to Tamale Pie, but different. It had a beef and chicken base and was topped with corn cake...that had a ton of corn in it. It was a special kind of corn that they use for it. Afterwards we went back to the Valencia's place and had coffee and Coffee Kuchen before they took us to the airport for our flight back to the states. It was so good to spend time with them and they did an awesome job of packing so much into such a short time!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

"Oh, Lord, My God, When I in awesome wonder, consider all the world Thy hands has made, I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder and there proclaim, My God How Great Thou Art!" The words to this old hymn have gone through my head over and over the past weeks as I traveled around Argentina. One beautiful sight after another, it was endless. The world is full of His beauty and I was so thankful to have this chance to see so much of it!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dear Mt. Hood,
I have to confess, I spent the day admiring another mountain. Its beauty was amazing, the power, the awesomeness of it, I could not help but be amazed at all it had to offer. I took so many photos of it. I oooohhhed and awed. Please do not be jealous, you will always be my first love, you were there for me since my youth. I will always adore you most of all. You, my dear Mt. Hood are the one I have always woke up to and the one I fall asleep with. I am only looking. I promise you, I will be back. 
Yours, Vickixo

Saturday, October 29, 2011

From the jungle to glaciers! Wow! What a change! And what beautiful sights down here too. We left for Patagonia on Wed. It has been non stop since we arrived. Thursday we went to the glacier park and got our first look at the biggest one. Then we strapped on the crampons and trekked over the glacier. It was amazing!

While we were there we got to see a piece fall off into the water. The sound was incredible. All through the day we could hear it, louder than thunder.

Then on Friday we took a boat to see three glaciers. It was a long day, but worth it to get to see them up so close and all those beautiful blue icebergs. Of course I took way too many photos.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Falls revisted. It was a much more laid back day today. We went first to the trail that we didn't do yesterday and saw all the falls from the bottom. Then we went back and saw the other views that we saw yesterday, all the while, I kept looking for those monkies, but still no monkies. Oh well, it was a good day anyway, at one point we stopped for something to drink and while there enjoyed a harpist, just sitting there in the park playing. It was so nice. You would have thought the monkies would have come on up to enjoy it too. The weather today was beginning to become overcast, so the pictures are not as nice, I don't think, but I took plenty anyway. By tonight, it has become really stormy, I mean all out thunder and lightning, so I am really glad of the timing of our days at the falls, first the perfect weather, then today, which would have been nice if I had not had yesterday to compare it to and now, if we were going to go, which we aren't, it would have been rainy tomorrow and made the river flowing into the falls all muddy. Not sure what is on the agenda for tomorrow.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I felt like I was in a Disney movie today! Really! First off, we arrived to the falls park and I noticed there are butterflies everywhere...I don't mean just one or two, I mean hundreds! Everywhere, all kinds, all colors, some even would land on you. We needed to take this little train up to the falls, it is like the train you take at the zoo and those butterflies even followed along beside the train! I just knew at any minute Snow White was going to appear and they would trail along behind her as she headed for home. But it even got better, once we got off the train at the start of the trail, there were even more of them and I saw down this one little pathway a little group of people and so I went on to see what was there...and there they were, more than I could was like you could not step anywhere because you didn't want to step on them, I almost wanted to stop breathing because I didn't want to breathe one in. They were feeding on some big mud puddle. Anyway, you can bet I took about as many pictures as there were butterflies out there! When John finally pulled me away to see the falls, the reason we REALLY came there, I told him that if we didn't see anything else I would be happy. That was spectacular!

But then I was blown away even more when we reached the first falls...the Devils Throat...I could not believe it, it was AWESOME! and I mean AWESOME like you have never seen before. HUGE and LOUD and undescribable. A picture does it no justice, even though I tried my hardest, I can see now that the 450 pictures I took did not capture the true essence of what it was like to see it for yourself. While we were there, the water would spray up and we ended up pretty wet. John's hat was blown off and we watched it get sucked to the bottom of the throat. From there we went to another trail that took us to see the Circuit Superior...The upper trail...and EVERY photo seemed to have a rainbow included. I mean it a RAINBOW in all my shots!!! A photographers dream.

All of the information about this park says there are all kinds of animals, MONKIES, snakes, tigers, tucans, etc, etc....well, we saw one tucan fly by, and there were tons of turtles sunning on the rocks in the river, we saw a bird nest with two eggs in it under the bridge/walkway as we walked along, we saw two pretty big lizard things, and a couple of things that looked like beavers without tails, and one coati, (that is the animal running over the pavement there in the picture) but we didn't see a single monkey!!! The top left photo shows how the trail out to the falls was. It seemed like a bridge, but even when it was over land it was like that. We are headed back to see the rest tomorrow, so maybe the monkies will make my day. But after today, it is going to have to be pretty special.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

OK, so the photos loaded backwards. I don't have time to reload them, so I will just report yesterday from the end to the beginning. Here is the newest part of town, the bridge is called the Women's Bridge and all the streets are named after women in this part. New, high rise and expensive here.

This is La Boca, a part of town that is painted in really bright colors and full of party atmosphere.

This is San Telmo, it used to be a place to live, but is now anitque shops and a place for tourists. We stopped in the main square and had something to drink while we watched a tango demonstration.

We started the day in the center of town. The pink house is the eqaul to our White House and it is actually called the Pink House. The balcony is where Eva Peron made her famous speech. And Madonna made it even more famous.

This is how big our cute little balcony funny huh? Andrea did such a fantastic job of showing us around her city. I told her a few things I had hoped to see and she topped it showing me things I had not even heard of but was so happy that we had the chance to see them. We never would have been able to do it all without her. THANKS ANDREA!!!!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

We made it! A LONG flight, at the moment it seemed longer than I now remember it to be. Here is a picture of our hotel. Our room is the second from the end just below the black railing at the top. The cute little balcony holds two people standing, side by side.

The book I read said that it would be hard to find coffee except for instant my relief they were wrong! There are places everywhere that serve cappucino and espresso. I was surprised to have them serve it with a little shot glass of soda water...I even had to ask the waitress what it was for. She said it always comes with espressos. Also, the book said that they didn't have much in the way of beer, well, to John's relief, they have plenty of selections of beer. At least that is what we have found so far in the city, maybe tomorrow when we head out of here we will find it a different story when we arrive at the falls. This is why we decided to spend a couple of days here in Buenos Aries. Here is a photo of Andrea Cifarelli and her boyfriend Julian Yrrazabal. As you may already know, she and I met via this blog. They met up with us yesterday afternoon and showed us so many things that we may not have seen if we had been here on our own.This is a giant sculpture near a univeristy. It is broken at the moment, but normally it opens at dawn and closes at sunset. I actually was happy that it was broken, because we were there at sunset and it made for really great photos when it was opened up. It has lights in it that change colors and the reflection on the water is so pretty.Some of the other things we saw on our walking tour. The Recoleta, a cemetary for weathy and famous people, like past presidents. Eva Peron is probably the most famous person buried here. Well, buried is not tru, they are interned above ground in huge marble sculptures. It is such a huge cemetary it takes up a whole city block. We also sae the oblisco which is in the middle of the widest hwy in the world....something like 10 or 12 lanes of traffic...I will count the lanes today to make sure.