(click on any photo to see them larger)

Sunday, December 28, 2014

I know it seems crazy to some, but that tree was up for almost a whole month!  I thought that it was going to be a little extra busy this year with the new baby coming, so I started getting ready for the holiday earlier than usual.  By the time Christmas rolled around, the tree was so dry.  It had a funky smell and the branches broke off just by touching them.  The once perky branches were hanging as low as they could go, ornaments were falling, it was a mess.  It had to go.  Soon.  So the morning of the 26th, we tore it down.  It was trash day.  The recycling said they would pick them up, up to 8 ft, so John had to cut off the top for them to accept it. Kind of sad, but it had to be.  Goodbye tree.  
 Christmas Day
John, Rachel, Emily and Joshua spent the night on Christmas Eve.  Jessi, Ariel, Josiah, Arianna and Lina (still in their pjs) came back the next morning for breakfast.  Of course we had the traditional oatmeal pancakes along with hashbrowns and pepper bacon.
Emily and Joshua all ready for the day.

We headed over to Great Grandma's place for the big family dinner.  
  The table now goes all the way into the next room, but we still all sat down to eat at one table, which makes Great Grandma pretty proud.   Lindy's son David and his wife Beth and their kids, Meri, Luke, Nate, Ellie and Sam came from Colorado this year.  Matt and Karely and Bane were there too, so Lindy was a pretty happy Mom.  We had a fun time together, eating, playing, opening gifts, hot tubing and all the things that make our holiday.  

 Christmas Eve. 
 It is so nice to have the house full of kids again.  It seems like that is how it always was and then suddenly they grew up and were gone.  Of course Christmas is always nice, but that spark was lacking.  But now, they have returned with their arms full of kids!!  It is fun to shop for toys again, even though the toys are different from the ones my kids had when they were growing up.  Sometimes, I have no idea what it is that I am looking for when they tell me something they want.  
We started out the evening with a steak and salmon dinner. Afterwards, Josiah and Arianna passed out the gifts to everyone from them.  Then Joshua and Emily passed out what they brought.  It is really amazing to have your grandkids hand them something they have just for you.  
Then it was time for the grandkids to open what we gave them.  Those crazy little ones had to be talked into setting aside what they had just opened in order to get on with the unwrapping of the other gifts that were there for them.  They loved everything!  Little Lina didn't get what all the fuss was about.  

This coming year is a special birthday for Emily, her Sweet 16.   We have been asking her for a long time where her dream place would be to travel to.  She said Hawaii.  So this year for Christmas we announced to them that we will be taking both of them.  In order to get their gift, they had to open up the gifts that led to it...starting with a bucket and shovel, sunscreen, flipflops, beach towell, beach ball, a lei, and a tiki glass...by the time they got to the final paper, they had pretty much figured out they were going somewhere beachy.  But they were pretty shocked to find out it was Hawaii.  It is going to be so much fun, probably more fun for me than them.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

I just love it that John and Rachel were married in December because that means every year I get to have a whole weekend with Emily and Joshua while they celebrate their anniversary.  This year was their 18th anniversary.  Even though Emily and Joshua are getting older, there are a few things that stay on the schedule of things to do while they are here.  One is to have them help me make popcorn balls.

 The next is to take a drive to see Christmas lights.
And we just have to get to Lloyd Center and go ice skating.
This year it was also the same weekend that Josiah and Arianna had their Christmas at their church.  Lina slept through it all.

Josiah decided he didn't want to sing the song. Instead he just stood there.  Arianna went through all the motions.

 Here he is checking out what she is doing.
 So, he didn't want to do it, but he had to show her how to do it right.
 I could not believe it...it was just too much for him to stand through the whole song...it had me cracking up.  (not his mom)  well, at least he didn't just walk off.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Introducing Lina Louisa!
She was scheduled to be delivered by cesarean on 12/13/14, but God had another plan and Jessi went in to labor on 12/11/14.  Actually she had been having labor pains off and on for a few days.  Finally she was convinced that this was the real thing and we all headed into the hospital.  Sure enough the doctor decided that Lina was going to make an early appearance.  It all happened so fast!  I was pretty excited that once again, I was able to put on scrubs and go into the delivery room to photograph the arrival.  What an awesome experience it was once again.  At times, I got so caught up in things that I had to remind myself to shoot!  The doctor cut Jessi open, and there were a few whispers about the fluid, etc...but it was pretty much quiet as the doctor announced it was a girl as expected and she was really big and healthy.   And then...the cry...it was as if everyone had been holding their breath to hear it.  I looked over at Jessi, tears were dripping down her face.  Ariel was beaming.  It just never gets old.  Every birth is a wonder.  Lina weighed in at 9 pounds 12 ounces!  Just a little shy of being a 10 pounder.  I can't believe it, she sure looks tiny to me.  Josiah, Arianna and Grandpa waited for us in the labor room and both kids were beaming and jumping up and down as they wheeled Jessi and baby back into the room.  Both kids just adore her.  
We were able to keep them overnight for the two nights Jessi and Ariel were at the hospital with Lina.  That was so fun for us to have them for so long all to ourselves.  Each day we would take them up to see Mommy, Poppy and Lina and then it was so fun to bring them back with us again.  Saturday night they were picked up by their parents on their way home from the hospital.  The house was so quiet.  We started putting things back in place.  I just loved what I found on one of the Nativity sets.  I have three of them and the kids love to play with them.  Arianna especially likes to feed the animals and have everyone, including the animals lay down to nap.  Anyway, I am not sure who did it, maybe it was both of them, but I just had to smile when I found one of the Nativities  looking like this...
...even had a toy airplane as a gift.  so sweet.

We have been busy going back and forth to see if there is anything we can do to help them all adjust and get in a few cuddles with the new little girl.  Today, we took them to the mall to visit Santa.  Jessi had them wear the little Christmas outfits I bought them a few weeks back.  They were a hit as we paraded into see Santa.
The girls dresses don't quite show up in this photo, but they have the cutest little red fluffy skirts.  I hope Josiah will not take it out on me too hard someday when he looks back at this outfit.  



Sunday, November 30, 2014

 So fall turns to winter.  Not a whole lot of photos being taken this month, but I did manage to get in a few from the back window as I was recuperating.  
 The squirrels didn't know how to use the feeder at first and gnawed a little on the plastic before they figured out how to lift the lid.  It makes a perfect place to sit and look around according to this little guy.  He does this all the time.  Eats a bit, then rests.
 So when the feeder is being used as a home, the bird feeders are taken over but not by birds. 
Another Happy Thanksgiving 
 and a Happy Birthday to Mom and Matthew!!!

We had a little dusting of snow...  and then it slid right off the slide.

 Snow is exciting, but sometimes it is not such a pretty thing to have around.  The freezing rain and wind in Salem caused the oak tree to fall on John and Rachel's house.  Emily and Joshua were at home when it happened, but thankfully they were on the opposite side of the house when it crashed down.  Glass flew clear across the room from the crushing window.  They were overwhelmed by the overflow of help and offers of anything needed from their neighbors.  Insurance is on the job and it will be better than new in a few months.  
 When we first heard the news, we headed to Salem to help them out.  The biggest conflict for them was that John had been nominated for the Crystal Apple award by the parents, students and staff in his school.  It is a district wide award.  He was one of 56 nominees out of over 4,000 school employees who are eligible.  A few years ago he was also nominated.  Well, the award ceremony was just hours after the tree fell.  He was torn, should he go or not?  Rachel had a pretty dress all ready for the televised red carpet.  She decided she had to stay home, but pushed for him to go ahead and go.  It is a big honor to be nominated and those doing the nominating go to a lot of work to get their candidate nominated.  He could not let them down.  One of the neighbors opened up their home for us to warm up while the tree company was taking the tree off the roof.  We could not help out there until the tree was off the house, so we watched the ceremony on TV.  The above photo shows the TV screen and his two proud kids and wife recording him when he is being interviewed on the Red Carpet.  Well, we were so happy he went!  He was one of 10 to win the Crystal Apple!  Such a day of twists...from a falling tree to a crystal apple.


Josiah turned 4 on November 12th.  No longer a toddler, he is turning into a little boy now.  He still loves his garbage trucks and drums. I have not seen a little kid play drums the way he does. I know I am sounding like a Grandma, but it will not surprise me to do something in the music field someday.
November 6 was Joshua's 13th birthday!  He is becoming a pretty awesome young man.  I know this is not the best photo of him, but it is the most recent shot of how much his little cousins adore him, Josiah especially is his shadow.  Joshua is definitely a terrific role model for his little cousins and is so worthy of being imitated.  
November began with a big surprise.  My yearly exam showed that I had endometrial cancer.  Had.  I went in for a complete hysterectomy and was so happy to hear the results that nothing had spread out of the uterus.  I will need a couple of radiation treatments in a few weeks just as a precaution. I am thanking God for a doctor that was persistent in getting me tested, even though I was thinking it was all a little over board for her to test when my symptoms seemed so harmless.  Thanking God for her referral to an amazing oncologist who is top notch in robotic assisted surgery,   It is pretty amazing to live in an age where cancer is not a death warrant as it was just a few years ago.  I also am so full of praise for the family and friends who began praying for me from the first day they heard the news.  I can truly say that I was never in a horrible panic over it.  I felt a peace and confidence right from the start.  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

 Emily and Joshua both had their big meets of the season last week.  Both of them did fantastic!  
Josh came in first place in his division and is the All City Champ.  Not only that, he beat his own best time. He is 7th grade and ran in the 7-8 graders division.  Pretty awesome to see him beat those bigger guys.
Emily came in second place for her school  She ran with the varsity team, even tho she is a sophomore.  It was the rainiest day!  Which made for the muddiest meet ever!  Those runners were covered in mud.  Part way through the race, she lost a shoe, but she continued on without it.  Her sock is forever brown now, I am sure.  It reminded me of when her Dad was a little runner and did the same...as he ran into the woods and out of our sight, they hit a mud hole and he lost his shoe, when he came back out of the woods at another point, he yelled "I lost my shoe in the mud!"  He was running along with only one shoe on.  It was hilarious. He just kept on going to the end.  Afterwards, we had to go and search the mud for his sunken shoe.  This time, it was her Dad going back to where Emily had lost it to retrieve it for her.  How time repeats itself.   

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Home again!

5 loads of laundry!  and we even had it done once while we were gone.
My sister Lindy had taken good care of my cat and he was alive and well. 
Jessi and Ariel had been here and delivered milk for my morning latte and Arianna and Josiah left me some pumpkins and flowers as a welcome.  


Santorini

The reason this whole trip began...to shoot Santorini.  I finally was here!  First thing after getting our bags to our room we headed for the bus stop to get to Oia to get the shots of sunset that I had been dreaming about.
I found a spot that I thought would be good and got my tripod and camera all set up. Then waited.  While waiting, I turned around to see the town behind me...turns out...everyone else was there for the same reason.  This shot really makes me laugh.

Once I was set up, I took my camera off the tripod and walked around.  John was happy to just sit by the tripod and wait for me to return.  
And then it began. I was elated!  Especially when the sailboats came into view.




The next day we rented a car and drove the island as we had on the other two islands.  This time it was a little more scary as the roads are narrow and full of traffic, especially huge tour buses.  

We stopped at a port town for lunch and enjoyed the view of the fishing boats.  They were all busy cleaning their nets and unloading fish.


This is called Red Beach.  There is also a Black Beach and White Beach but I couldn't see anything different about them from any other beach to shoot.
Here is how the grapes are grown there!  Seriously, this is a vineyard!
Do you see the two hearts on this dog?
The next night we went back to Oia for sunset.  It was cloudy and the sun set high in the sky.  I only took one photo and we walked away.  Everyone kept rushing past us towards the water.  I kept thinking that they were nuts to be in such a hurry for a sunset that was way done with.  Then a woman bumped me hard in her rush past me.  I turned to watch her and was stunned with what I saw!  How did that happen and I didn't even notice?




The next day we walked to Firostefani and Fira, two other popular towns there.  This is where the donkeys are for the cruise ships to bring up the tourists.  




We walked down the donkey stairs and by then it was pouring rain.  We found a place to sit inside and have a cappuccino while we waited it out.  we had one, then another, then John ordered a beer while I went into some gift shops.  When I got back, we ordered lunch.  Finally we made a break for it and got on the funicular to the top.


And then we did as true Oregonians...we walked back to our hotel.  In the rain.  Without umbrellas.  Sure we could have hopped on the bus or taken a taxi, but by then we were already wet.  It was a fun day!


Our last day.
sunset from our deck.
I have never been able to take a decent shot of a crescent moon.  Pretty happy with how this one turned out.
Oia at night from our deck.