(click on any photo to see them larger)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Emily and Joshua came to our place while John and Rachel went away to celebrate their 16th anniversary.  Having them here is always a fun way to kick off the holidays.  We went ice skating and spent time with Josiah and Arianna.  On Friday, we were sent a couple of updated photos of Hannah in the Christmas outfit that Dennis and Abby sent to Korea for her.  It was a nice pre Christmas gift!  Then we got on Skype and had our gift unwrapping time with Gabe.  I have said it before, but again, it is so nice to live in the era of Skype since my kids don't all live nearby.  Of course it would have been best to have had them right in the same room, but it was pretty amazing to watch him open his gifts and play with them right there in front of me!  

Saturday, December 15, 2012

‎'Tis the Reason!
Jesus birth is only the beginning of the story, it is the reason for His birth that we celebrate God's love, forgiveness and salvation.

Monday, December 10, 2012


WOW!  Time is just flying by!  Here it is almost Christmas and I have not even posted about Thanksgiving.  And it was way too good of a Thanksgiving to not mention it here.  I had one of those rare holidays when I had all of my kids together.  It is just something Mothers love to have that can not be explained at having her little chicks all back under her wing.  Strange how those wings can hold so many now and not even feel stretched.  Of course we had to have a family shot of  us.  I hope that you are all having a blessed holiday season!  and now back to the Christmas preparations...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Josiah Turns 2!
Yep!  We bought him a drum set!  But it was with permission from his parents.  Actually at first it was his mother who suggested it.  But then she decided it might not be a good idea after all, so I was coming up with a new idea, we would just take him shopping to pick out something else.  Well, at the last minute, we were given permission to go ahead and get the drums.  I assured her that if they became a problem, then we would just bring them to our house and put them in the basement for him when he comes to visit.  So far no problem.  It is so fun to watch him play.  Really!  I know, I am his grandmother, but he really seems to have some talent with them.  He does not just pound on them, he has a beat.  First off, he taps those sticks together a few times to get going and then he just drums away.  He hits the different drums at the same time and every so often reaches up to tap on the cymbal.  He can even use his hands independently to tap out different beats at the same time.  He has to use both feet at the moment to beat the bottom drum, he does not have enough strength to do it with just one foot, most the time I think he just forgets it is there.  
We were with them at their church for their family dedication and even without seeing the drummer, he was pretending he was playing just from listening, his little hands were going just as if he had his sticks with him. Jessi sometimes will put on a u-tube video of some drummers and he gives them his full attention for a long time, then runs for his playroom to practice what he saw.  Watch out world, we have a new drummer!!!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Introducing Hannah Ye-won!
We have received news that grandbaby #6 is a GIRL! As many of you already know, my daughter-in-law was adopted from Korea as a baby and so my son and his wife have decided as a first choice that they are going to adopt their children. Natuarally they decided on Korean children. Gabriel Do-Hun was their first, and will turn 3 in February. Hannah is the name they have given her. Her middle name,Ye-won is the name that she is being called by the foster family who has cared for her since her birth. She is now 8 months old. Because of Korean laws, she will most likely not be in their arms until after she is a year old. We are hoping that by the summer we can travel to Korea with them and help them with Gabriel while they meet their new daughter. (this is not my photo, but the one that has been sent to them by the Holt agency) This gives each of my 3 children one boy and one girl. PERFECT!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Happy Birthday to Joshua. I can't believe how fast the years are rolling along!  Our birthday season has officially begun.  Starting with Rachel's birthday at the end of October, then Joshua, Josiah, Meri, my Mom and nephew Matt, Abby, Ellie, Johnjr, Johnsr, my Dad, Emily Ariel, David, Alan, Gabriel, Hannah, ending with Jessi at the end of Feb.  It seems we have one continual birthday cake going!  
My nephew Matthew married Karely last Saturday.  They had the wedding at the little chapel in Boring. Here are some photos from the day.



 Following tradition, my Mom did the cake and flowers as she has done for all of her grandkids.  




They asked me to take the wedding photos, but I didn't feel qualified to do them.  Just way to stressful to be in charge of that important aspect of their wedding memories.  So I referred them to a person I have never met, but feel like I have known for years.  His name is Erick Claytor.  So strange how our paths have crossed so many times but we never officially met.  When I first joined a photography site called Flickr, he became one of my contacts.  It was so strange because he would post a photo right before or after I did and they were almost identical to ones I was posting.  You can take a look at the photo 'information' called EXIF and I could see that he would be at a place I had been, sometimes withing the hour of when I had been there! It got really weird when he posted some photos of horses from down my road!  My Mom was SURE he was stalking me!   One day, I was going through his old postings and saw the exact wall hanging in his living room as mine! It was just too crazy.  We would make comments on each other's photos and we realized that he even goes to the same church as I do!   It is a big church with 3 services so we have not managed to meet there.   He has continued to work on his photography, taking courses and is now doing weddings and other professional photos.  Finally, for the first time in all these years, we met at the wedding!  To make matters even more coincidental, he brought along a back up photographer and in chatting with him, we realized that his friend Brian Pasko is one of my contacts on another photo site called Project 365!   

Monday, November 5, 2012

R.E.T.I.R.E.D.
John went to work for the last time October 30!  He is officially done working.  Well, punching in and out working that is.  I have a 'I'm Bored' list ready for him.  Two years ago, he let go of his position as meat department manager and became the store secretary.  It was a good pre-retirement job for him.  He worked  10 years at Dick Wolfe Meat Company, then for 28 years at WINCO, which first was called Waremart and  then they bought out Cub Foods and changed their name to WINCO.  He says he will never wear black pants and a white shirt again and has also thrown out his long underwear.  

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Our community was shocked last week as news of Whitney Heichel went from missing to murdered.  She was only 21, a newlywed.
This does not happen here…maybe across town, but not right next door!  When the news first came out, my prayers were that they would find her quickly.  Then as the days slipped by and it started looking more and more like things were not going to turn out positive, I began praying that if they didn't find her alive, that it would not be her husband who had done it.  He had been the last person to see her early that morning as she left for work at a nearby Starbucks.  Too often, that is the case, they just seemed like such a wholesome young couple.  I didn't want that image shattered. But then I realized, if not the husband…then who?  Was there a murderer walking around in our community?  Would there be more victims?  Sadly, the news came that her body was found, and thankfully, her murderer was not the husband, but a man named Jonathan Holt, from her apartment complex.  It is all such a tragedy!    I continue praying for her husband, her parents, brothers and sisters, her other family members, her friends, her church, for what they have to live with, the images, the regrets, the ‘if onlys’, for healing.
I also pray for the family of Jonathan Holt. He is 24, has a wife and parents and family and neighbors too. They also have lost a family member.  They will need much love and care through this time too.  They will have to not only live with the grief and shock, they will also have to cope with the shame and guilt of it forever.
 They are victims of this too.
A memorial site is located at the Starbucks where she worked.  I stopped past today and took a photo. I can’t stop thinking about it.  Maybe it is the mother in me. I remember watching her Mother plead for help on the news when they first began searching for her.  Her tears were heart wrenching. Her grief laid out in public as she wrapped her arms around her son-in-law and sobbed with him.  She was so brave to speak, when he could not, she continued on as any mother would do to protect and fight for her child.
Once again, we are reminded that life is so precious and that we need to be careful to make the most of what we have now, to love those around us while we have them.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Fall has arrived! 

  Sunrise comes later, which for me is a great thing because I am now up early enough to take photos of them.  I love the mornings, sitting on my deck as the sun rises and listening to the birds is a piece of heaven.  
I just love the little smiles on the frog and grasshopper...could not resist posting their photos.
The grapes are ripening, but so much different from usual...the bunches of them are in all colors and stages...some are ripe and some are still green.  Normally they all ripen at once.
All summer long I have been keeping my eyes open for a praying mantis.  They are such interesting little critters and I really wanted to get some photos of one.  I pretty much had given up, when one found ME!  Inside the house! I saw his silhouette sitting there on the railing and ran for my camera.  When I had gotten enough shots, I took the little guy outside and let him free.  The next morning, I went outside to see if he was still there.  Of course he was gone.  But!!!  a while later, I opened the front door to let in some fresh air...and there he was! This time he was waiting for me on the porch railing.  I ran for the camera and got some more shots of him outside.  Then he flew away. I have not seen him since.

I have had fun with shooting the stars and moon too.
 
I had a goal to shoot some long exposure star trails...this was my first real attempt.  I had the camera on for 30 minutes to get this.  I didn't sit there and wait and when I went out to turn off the camera, I realized the moon had risen and so it is overexposed, but it has a good amount of trailing and so for my first try, I am pretty excited how it turned out.  It even has kind of a rainbow along the line where the moon interfered.  Do you think it will pass for the Aurora Borealis?  
The Blue Moon...which of course is not blue.
The Big Dipper, just over the house.  
Arianna is growing fast!  Finally we get to see her eyes open more and more, but she still loves her naps.
Josiah is wearing a little suit that my Dad wore when he was this age.  My Grandmother carefully saved it and passed it on to my Mom.  It was fun to put him in it for some photos and now it is safely packed away again.
Yesterday, I went with Bonnie to the St. John's Bridge to take some photos.  The shot on the top right  is a shot that I have noticed some other photographers taking and posting.  I really wanted a chance to shoot it too.  I ended up liking the shot, but the one that really made me happy was the one I processed in Black and White at the top left.  When we arrived they were blocking off an area for filming of the series Grimm.  I have never seen it, but if you watch it, watch for the bridge.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Arianna Sofia
August 27 8:12am
7lbs 9 oz
20 ins
I was blessed once again to be able to go into the delivery room with Jessi and Ariel to photograph the birth of our newest little grandbaby.  So thankful that this time Ariel was here to be at Jessi's side where he belongs.  I was ready to step aside, knowing that my being able to be there to hold her hand and wipe her tears when Josiah was born was a privilege that most likely was not going to be repeated.  But working in the hospital where you are going to deliver your baby has many privileges.  She personally picked out her complete delivery crew!  She had a cesarean because the last one was and she knows from experience that the reason you have to have the first one, most likely will cause you to have the second one as well, so she took the advice of her doctor and planned out the date.  The nurses she works with were all around her, they decorated her recovery room and tended to her every need.  She was given the royal treatment!
So there Ariel and I were at her side, behind the drape...one last look at the belly, Ariel gave the doctor a thumbs up and at the first whimper from our new baby girl, we shed tears of joy. It is pretty hard to focus a camera when you can't see!
As soon as they pulled her out, they dropped the drape and held her up for photos and inspection.
A quick wipe down and into their arms she went.
As soon as they wheeled her into recovery, Grandpa and Josiah were ready to meet her.  I expected Josiah not to even take much notice of her.  But he shocked me!  He is so fascinated, he stares and stares at her, wants to touch her and hold her and smothers her with kisses and hugs.  How he knew to hug and kiss her, I have no idea, he just did it on his own...over and over and over!
Still in my scrubs, I finally put the camera down and took a chance to cuddle her...and reluctantly, I passed her on to John.
Later on, Great Grandpa and Grandma McCool came to visit and got to watch her first bath.  John and Rachel and Emily and Joshua came by.  Emily is so happy that she finally has a girl cousin!  Uncle Dan and Aunt Cyndi and Aunt Lindy and Karely stopped in too!  A few days later, Great Grandpa and Grandma Dixon stopped over for a visit.
I made this little hat for her and was pretty proud that she has already wowed everyone with her pretty pink daintiness in it.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

One more week until our newest grandbaby makes her appearance! 
Anticipation!!!
I remember hearing older people talk about how time goes so fast.  I heard them say that the older you get, the faster it goes.  I thought that was ridiculous. I remember thinking that time went too slow! It took forever to get to a birthday, Christmas, first day of school, get my license, the prom, get married, have my babies. And now, suddenly, here I am saying "How did I get here this quickly?"  Where has the time gone?  How can my babies be having babies?  I still feel like they are the babies!  
Cleaning and scrubbing can wait 'till tomorrow,
for babies grow up, we've learned to our sorrow,
so quiet down cobwebs and dust go to sleep,
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep!

I had these words embroidered and framed and hanging on my kitchen wall all the years the kids were growing up.  I tried to keep that in mind as life got busy and there was so much to do.  I was reminded of those words again this past week as the grandkids were here and we spent most of our time playing.  I would get home and look around and think, "so much is needing done", but off we would go on the next day's adventure.  Well, they went home and 'tomorrow' came!  I spent most of last week, cleaning and scrubbing, sorting and tossing, pulling weeds, mowing, and even shined up the windows.  So glad that I didn't waste a minute of the time when they were here doing those things...it would have just needed redone anyway.  

The Perseid meteor showers were something I was looking forward to shooting.  It was perfect night sky for it right from my deck, so I had high hopes of capturing some.  I was surprised to see so many of them, but was not shooting in the right direction each time I saw one.  I would be all focused and ready in one direction and to the right one would fall, turn the camera, get ready, wait...and to the left, there one would go.  It was a good practice and I know I will be more successful next time.  When I saw the preview of one shot in my camera, I was pretty excited to see there was a line going through half of the frame.  I was anxious to get it on the computer to see it up close...turns out it was a plane.  But I was also able to witness a beautiful moonrise (3:00am!) Oh well, another night.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

THEIR VERSION
18 months before the Olympics began, they had to request tickets.  They mapped out the events and sent in their request for tickets.  A few months later, the reply came that they had each been granted 3 of the 11!  They were really discouraged, but after thinking it over, they decided that they would still go.  The Women's and Men's Marathons were viewable all along the course and they would be able to see other events that were going on in the stadium while they were there to see the one they had a ticket for.  
They also were able to see the women's bike race as it went right past Buckingham Palace.  They were right on a curve and saw so many crashes.  Then came their first event.  They arrived early to an almost empty stadium.  But the torch was flaming and ready...soon the stadium filled and their event began.  They saw Galen Rupp win a silver for the USA.  They have followed him for years when he first began running at Central Catholic in Portland, even way back then, they talked about how someday he would win at the Olympics, so it was pretty awesome for them to see it happen.

After the first two days of running events that they went to see, plus all the added in events, they had a 4 day gap that they were not given tickets for, so they filled it in with a trip to Ireland.  They had to take a train up north, then a ferry over to Dublin.  It was a pretty fancy ferry compared to any  that I have been on.
While there they visited Trinity College, St. Patrick's Well, St Stephens Green, Guinness, and some castles.  
Then they rented a car and drove to Glendelough-Wicklow and took a hike for the day.  

Then it was a flight back to Cardiff, England for a Bronze Soccer match between Japan and Korea.  Then back to London for the Men's Marathon.
The next day they took the long flight home.  

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Let the games begin!
After months of planning and waiting, John and John headed out for the Olympics.
And then OUR games began!  Emily and Joshua came up and had a staycation with me.  I had something fun planned to do every day they were here.  We included Josiah as much as possible.

First day was a trip to the zoo.

The animals were too busy eating to face us.

We all rode the zoo train.  I liked this shot of Joshua watching the oncoming train, but then I looked over and there sat my youngest and my oldest grandkids, I thought that was pretty special too.

We had an activity or two every day, but there was plenty of home time too.  We built a fire and had s'mores, played in the fort, went on walks and went to Great Grandma and Grandpa's to hot tub.

Saturday, Rachel came up and we drove up to Centralia, Washington to Great Wolf Lodge for two days.  It is a hotel with water-slides.  It was a riot.  The place was totally designed with kids in mind.  It reminded me of a kid version of Las Vegas and Disneyland and Chuck E Cheese's all rolled into one. (I refuse to to go Chuck E Cheese's, but this place really was fun)

Joshua was a bit excited...these shots are a blur, but that is pretty much how he was when we first got there...he just buzzed from one place to another.
We arrived before check-in, but they let you go on the slides early, so the kids didn't waste a minute and they were sliding down them all.  As soon as the room was ready, Rachel and I joined them.  The first slide they wanted us to go down, of course, was the scariest!  I could not believe it as we dropped of the edge and slid up and down the sides...but since they promised it was the scariest, then it was easy to get up the nerve to try the rest of them.  It was so much fun!
When we were not sliding down the slides, there was a thing called a MAGI QUEST.  We had to buy a little wand and then there were places all over the hotel that Johsua had to wave the wand and he was given clues to complete his quest.  It ended with him in the dragon cave and he had to slay the dragon.  It reminded us of a video game that you act out instead of sitting in your chair at a computer.  They told us that if you went directly from one clue to another, you would cover 10 miles!  I am sure he did more than that,along with us, by the time he finished his quest.  

The next day back, we went and did ceramics and finished off the day bowling.  Joshua has his own style of bowling...he finishes each throw on the ground.  Emily and I forgot about needing bowling shoes and wore our sandals.  We could not believe it when the man in charge said "No problem, there are some in the vending machine."  We have never seen anything in vending machines but snacks.  The socks even came complete with little bowling balls on them. Can you believe that Emily and I wear the same size shoe?

Next day, roller skating.  The place was practically deserted.  I told them I had rented the whole place out just for them.  

We were supposed to go Rock Hounding in Madras.  Joshua was pretty excited about that.  But I suddenly thought about rattle snakes!  It is August, it is Central Oregon...snakes hide by rocks...I finally could not allow myself to take them over there and risk that one of us would be bitten.  I hated to cancel that on Joshua, but I was just too afraid.  I tried to make up for it by taking him to a local rock shop and letting him pick out a few rocks.  One of the treasures he found was an arrow head, I put it on a string for him and he was satisfied, as long as I promised that as soon as the weather was cold and snakes are hibernating, we would go and give it a try later on.  And maybe Grandpa would bring his pistol.
We finished off the day with school clothes shopping and a manicure for Emily. 
Another thing that I had for them while they were here, was craft time.  I set up my craft room with all the supplies out and ready for them to  make whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted.  Wood burning, painting, beads, you name it...one night we made soap.
A repeat activity that we did two years ago was a trip to Mt. Hood for the Alpine Slide.  Even though they had done it before, it was still just as fun as the first time, maybe even better.

Great Grandpa and Grandma joined us.  There were a couple of new activities up there this time, Hamster Balls (the photo will explain it) and a 32' rock wall.  Joshua made it all the way to the top.  There is trampolining, tube slides, mini golf, all kinds of activities. 
Last time we went up, Emily really wanted to drive the cars.  She was not old enough, so this time around she made sure that Great Grandpa was there to go with her since they didn't get to do it last time.  Joshua rode along with Grandpa.  I think that was the highlight for her.  She is already counting down the days until she gets her driver's license!
Rachel came back again on Saturday and we took MAX (light rail) into Portland Saturday Market. Then we came home and had a BBQ.  Jessi and Josiah joined us for that.  

Sunday, we went to Lloyd Center for ice skating.  It was the first time Rachel has ever gone! It seemed pretty funny to have her kids being the teacher.  


The whole time, Joshua collected and wore his event bracelets.  He finally cut them all off the last day.  I also added in a photo of his row of shoes.  How many kids need 5 pairs of shoes to visit Grandma?  At least he kept them all nice and tidy.
And then before we knew it, the guys were back home again!  They had a blast, but nothing as good as all the fun times I had with the kids.  
One day as we were busy with a craft, Joshua said "Grandma, we are making memories this week that will last us forever."  Isn't that what it is all about?