Jack and I will be working at the fireworks stand tonight in Washougal at The Crossing Shopping Center (291 C Street). Please buy fireworks from us! You’ll be supporting Sissa and her cheer team! Plus we have cool fireworks and a HUGE assortment. We aren’t one of those small stands. We have giant tents so you’ll be in out of the sun, or rain… depending on the time of day. 🙂

We’ve been working that fireworks stand or our other one at QFC Shopping Center (3505 SE 192nd) for the past week. It’s hard work but it’s worth it to support our cheerleaders! Melissa has worked hard too so if you’re buying fireworks this year, it’d be so awesome if you could make the trek out to one of these stands!

Here’s a picture (sorry for the bad quality, it was dusk and I only had my iPhone) of Melissa holding a sign out on the street to direct people to our stand. (They usually use their homemade ones with the school colors). It’s harder than you’d think doing that for HOURS at a time! 🙂

I know I'm slackin'…

We’ve just been crazy busy!

School is ending… and with that many milestones are being accomplished. I promise a real update later detailing all that’s happened, but here’s a hint: Kevin has graduated from high school! (I can still barely type those words … much less think about it, without welling up in tears..)

Here’s another tidbit: a clip from Kevin’s farewell choir concert… the last time he’ll ever get to perform with his high school choir.

I kinda hate the month of April

It’s been one of the busiest beginnings of spring for us ever. Every weekend something major has been going on. We’ve had tons of people (adults, teens, babies) coming and going for various reasons. There’s been so much going on I’ve lost track of some of it, but I’ll try to summarize:

  1. We spring cleaned our house top to bottom (you can’t tell now though..) 😦 and caught up on most of the laundry.
  2. We drove to Cascade Locks for Sarah’s baby shower/meet ‘n greet (she makes adorable babies!).
  3. Kevin and a bunch of his friends tried to go camping at the beginning of spring break, for the first time on their own. They got rained out and we had to rescue them.
  4. The weather has sucked. Rain, wind, hail, wind, rain, more rain, more wind, hail… and more wind. With a few brief sun breaks thrown into the mix. It’s just sucked. I just wanted to rant about that. 😀
  5. Jason visited from Japan and brought along his wife and new baby. They stayed at our house for a few days before flying back to Japan.
    Jason and Mayumi
  6. Cody celebrated his 9th birthday.
    Cody's Birthday 011
  7. We celebrated Easter.
  8. Melissa’s cheerleading practices have started. We’ve also enrolled her in a separate cheer tumbling class once a week to hone her skills. By the 18th, she’ll be practicing 3 days a week, plus the tumbling class. (Lil Miss H. will start gymnastics tomorrow, fortunately at the same place and time Sissa has cheer tumbling.)
  9. Casey has been busy too! He made the honor roll again. His first year of junior high and he’s made the honor roll every semester so far. We couldn’t be prouder.
  10. Kevin’s about to graduate high school!!! His senior prom is coming up, his choir tour is coming up, and his choir state competition is coming up.
  11. Jack and I have been chauffeur to most of these events, including whatever store trips, rental shops, etc. was needed to prepare for these events.

There’s a few more photos here.

This is the FIRST weekend in many weeks that we have nothing on our plate. Nada. I’m going to sit home and do nothing and enjoy the heck out of it. Because it’s going to get busy again soon.

Next on the plate is figuring out to do with another THING. This time it’s not in my boobs though. This one is on my ovary. I didn’t post here (because it was on Facebook) but one morning in mid-January I woke up in some of the worst pain ever. Jack forced me to go to the hospital and I talked him into taking me to the clinic instead. They refused to see me though because I was too distressed. They offered to take me by ambulance across the street to the ER (haha — no.. we drove).

Long story short, after a bunch of tests were done (and wonderful pain killers were administered) they found a 3.5 cm cyst on my ovary and determined this to be the cause of the pain. I was sent home that afternoon on bed rest until I wasn’t feeling pain anymore, and instructions to come back for an ultrasound six weeks later to see if the cyst dissolved. Well, it didn’t. And it’s not a “simple cyst” or “functional cyst” either. They don’t know what it is. It hasn’t gotten any bigger, but it’s not smaller either. Why it caused pain that one day and not much since? Who knows. I know it’s there. I do have pain from it from time to time but it’s mild.. not like the OMG I’M DYING pain that day in January. So it’s probably going to have to come out. I’m really not looking forward to it.

Why do these things always happen to me in the spring?? Gall bladder surgery? April of 2003. Boob issues? April of last year. Even my mom’s horrible car accident was in the spring (April). I’m beginning to hate the month of April. Or maybe the month of April hates me?

2009 Recap

I really can’t believe what a blur 2009 was. Every year I think, ‘this is the year things will slow down’ and all it does is speed up. I guess the older you get the faster time flies. I wish I had known this when I was younger and quit being in such a dang hurry to get older! 😉

Here’s a 2009 recap with some Christmas, Birthday, and Mia (who’s doing great, btw and did NOT come down with Parvo!!!) pictures thrown in for fun.

Way too cute!

January: We purchased a new camera and I’ve bombarded this site with photos since. I’d like to think I’m getting better at taking good photos at least. 🙂 This was the month I also revealed how obsessed my kids have become with nerf dart guns. Kayla finished and came home from her internship at Disneyland.

FebruaryMarch: I (Tracie) turned 29 AGAIN. For the 11th time. Imagine that? We spent a beautiful weekend at Lincoln City, OR for my birthday. Cody turned 8 in March. I didn’t report much else in February or March and now it seems to be a blur. I really must post more often! If for nothing else, so I can remember what the heck happened throughout the blur of each passing year.

Um.. is it REALLY for ME?

April: I remember April without even having to look at the archives. April was the month that I discovered Thing #1. While having Thing #1 investigated, the docs found Thing #2. April was the month my poor poked, prodded, dyed, cut open, accessorized, and even burned boobies will never forget! April was pretty much all about my boobs. How fun! Except, not. April was also intense for other reasons (court hearings related to Lil Miss H’s adoption) that was supposed to but didn’t happen and a crap load of phone calls and drama related to that.

May: This was the month we bought our Suburban and spent the first of THREE weekends at Cathy’s house. How cool is it that we got to go to Trout Lake three times this year? And technically we went for a few hours one other time and to BZ on Christmas Eve too. That’s five trips east of Hood River this year to see Cathy and family. Maybe we can shoot for even more in 2010?? My mom also took me to see the American Idols live in concert which was pretty fun. I also remember complaining a lot about medical bills this month.

Ooooh. Aaaaah.

June: Ahhh June. How could I forget E. Coli June? June was the month I gorged myself on ate a little too much cookie dough and will never forget it. (Remember the whole cookie dough recall thing?) Technically I don’t know for sure that I got E. Coli but I know I got damn sick and that’s just too much coincidence. I rarely even eat cookie dough. Kat turned 18 and got her GED. I went with Lil Miss’ kindergarten class to the Oregon Zoo and I got a lot of laundry done.

July: was memorable for the record breaking heat. 108 degrees was just way too freakin’ hot! It was the month we camped downstairs by air conditioners, and spent money we didn’t have to buy more air conditioners. Oi. We had our annual Fourth of July party and had a blast! Casey turned 11. I also did a lot of laundry.

It was like a snuggie party!

August: Jack and I celebrated our 15th year together and our 10th wedding anniversary in gorgeous Seaside, Oregon; the same place we honeymooned. Someone ran over our mailbox kiosk, we spend insane amounts of money we didn’t have on school supplies and clothes for the kids, and I did a lot of laundry. I’m sensing a theme here.

September: was all about Pearl Jam! Well, not JUST about Pearl Jam but it was definitely one of the highlights of our year (along with our anniversary). Jack turned almost 40 (muhahahaha) and we spent Labor Day weekend at Cathy’s in Trout Lake and had a blast. The kids started back to school.

Thumbs up!

October: Miss H’s adoption was finally finalized! Jack’s Godzilla got an upgrade, and of course there was Halloween.

November: Kayla turned 20 (*gulp*), Jackie turned 15, and Kevin performed a solo in choir. We spent Thanksgiving weekend with almost all the family at Jack’s grandmother’s.

Another thumbs up!

December: Much holiday and birthday madness ensued. Kevin turned 18, Melissa turned 14, and Lil Miss turned 7. We adopted Mia, our little Rat Terrier from the Oregon Humane society who rescued her from an overwhelmed breeder in Tillamook, Oregon. She was quite sick and the first week with her was a blur of sickness, vets, and crap loads of money we did not have flying out our window to get her better (in addition to all the Christmas and Birthday shopping…) Hopefully the insurance she came with will come through and cover most of it! We spent Christmas eve at Jack’s Grandma’s and paid Sarah and her family a visit. The day after Christmas we drove up to Cathy’s and spent the night so we could visit and fix her door. New Year’s eve was spent quietly at home with family. It was a good end to a great year.

What IS it?

2009 had its ups and downs for certain. I look back on the year and feel lucky and very thankful that mostly there were ups. We are certainly blessed.

Happy New Year!

Kevin singing, this time with honors

Friday night Kevin got to be a part of something really special. After “participated in a rigorous audition process” Kevin was chosen by the school district to be part of the ‘best of the best’ from all four high schools to perform at the First Annual
All-District High School Honor Band, Choir and Orchestra Concert
. Their performance was last Friday night and it was SOLD OUT within minutes! It was an amazing concert. I was completely blown away by the talent these kids had. And it was really an awesome idea because part of the reasoning behind this program was to create more awareness of just how important it is to have the arts in our schools. Especially music! And to show off our kids, of course. 🙂

The sold out part was scary though. Due to prior commitments, my mother barely made it to this special show. She had been driving for hours so by the time she got there, she just wanted to get her ticket and sit. Well, tickets went on sale at 6:30. We arrived at 6:40 and they were already sold out. They put her name on a list to see if there were any more seats after ticket holders were seated. Jack and I got our tickets for free (each kid received two free tickets to give away) and we were about to flip coins to see which one would sit out to allow my mom to see her grandson perform. Fortunately she got a seat!

I’m in the process of uploading videos of Kevin singing during the choir portion of the performance now. I was going to wait to post this until after they were done uploading, but they were shot in HD and are huge and I’m not savvy enough to figure out how to compress/optimize them before uploading and I have six thousand more loads of laundry to fold.

(I know. It’s always about the laundry.)

One is done now though. See it below, then check my YouTube channel for the other four. Oh and sorry about the jittery hands in a couple sections. I kept getting bumped!

Now excuse me while I go get some tissues. I can’t seem to watch my child sing without sniffling.

Halloween photos from the past

I know Halloween was over a few weeks ago, but I was going through old photos and came across some from the past 5 years. Every parent says this, but damn time flies! Just a few short years ago Sissa and I couldn’t wait to coordinate our costumes… And now she’s all about spending it with her friends (as was I when I was almost 14…) Just a few short years ago my boys were babies with chubby, pinch-able cheeks. Not so much anymore. Holy moley earlier this month the oldest graduated from being a teen to being in her 20’s. Yikes. And today Jackie turns 15! Where’s the pause button??

Pearl Jam

Over fifteen years ago I met the man who would become my my husband and the father of children to come. As I was becoming friends, then close friends, and eventually falling in love with this man, a certain relatively new band was all over the radio and charts singing songs that seemed to be pulled straight out of my soul. That time wasn’t an easy time for Jack and I and there were many nights where music was the only thing that got us through those difficult moments. Pearl Jam played a pretty big role in that. For me specifically: Black.

When a friend gave me Eddie Vedder’s “Into the Wild” it only renewed my love for Eddie’s voice, and Pearl Jam in general. In all these years, I’ve never once gotten tired of Pearl Jam. I can’t say that about many bands. They just seem timeless to me.

Music has always had been a big deal for Jack and I. In our early years we attended concerts such as Lollapalooza ’96 in George, WA where we got to see Devo, Ramones, Soundgarden, and Metallica. That same year we went to Rockfest in Estacada, OR where I got knocked out cold in the mosh pit and carried off by security, thankfully to recover in time to enjoy Candlebox from our blanket far far away from the mosh pit… (Jack’s not let me within 50 feet of a mosh pit since…..). I stood in line when I was pregnant out to ———–> here to get us Metallica tickets for their 1998 concert at Portland Meadows. The last concert was Rockfest 2005 where we took the oldest kids and one of their friends to see Mudvayne and Disturbed. This was Kevin’s first concert and watching through his eyes and seeing the unadulterated joy in them was an awesome moment. All of these concerts were amazing moments for Jack and I. Yet somehow we’d never got around to seeing Pearl Jam.

In mid August I read in our local paper that Pearl Jam added a tour stop in Ridgefield, WA. This was their “Portland, OR” stop (which is silly since Portland is 15 miles south in a different state, but I guess no one’s heard of Ridgefield, or Vancouver, WA…) at the Clark County Amphitheater. This wasn’t on their original tour list so I was completely stoked that we might have the chance to see them. I checked it out the price on the ticketmaster website and it said $25.00. We could totally do that!

I marked the date tickets went on sale on my calendar and at the very moment they opened the site up to buy tickets, I was there, poised and ready. I got decent seats and on the last page the price was listed… I was about to complete the sale… and lets just say that it was nowhere NEAR the $25.00 per ticket I thought it was going to be. I was instantly devastated. The number staring back at me was NOT something we could afford. I showed it to Jack and he was like, “oh well”. I wasn’t “oh well” about it at all. I was crushed.

The page I was on said I had 3 minutes to complete the sale. I abandoned it and started over thinking I might have done something wrong. I know I had gone to the ticketmaster site 5-6 times before that day and checked for updated information and the only price ever up until that day was $25.00. (It turns out that’s how much the parking pass was…) I tried to start the purchase over but then the site wouldn’t load. I was stuck “waiting in line”. Ten minutes passed and I still couldn’t get it. Before I knew it tears were falling down my face. I don’t know why I got so upset. I wasn’t sobbing or even bawling, but I couldn’t fight back tears. I really had my heart set on seeing them.

Jack saw my tears and asked me how bad I wanted to see them. Uh.. I’m crying here.. so.. HELLO? I actually don’t remember what my answer was. I felt kinda stupid for crying over a silly concert. Then he said he had the ticketmaster site up on his computer and only had a minute or so to complete HIS purchase of two Pearl Jam tickets. Since the concert was only a couple weeks after his birthday, he said he’d like the tickets for his birthday and I better hurry up and answer. Naturally I said HELL YEAH!

Jack still got a small celebration and a few small items for his birthday, but in reality, he donated whatever he might have gotten for his birthday because *I* wanted to see Pearl Jam so bad. Sure he did too but he wasn’t the one shedding tears over it. See why I married him? 🙂

Pearl Jam September 26, 1009 Ridgefield, WA

Pearl Jam September 26, 2009 Ridgefield, WA

Pearl Jam did not disappoint. Neither did their opening act, Ben Harper & Relentless 7. The concert was Saturday night and the weather was perfect, the crowd was awesome, the singing, the music, all of it was everything I thought it would be. When they played Black I got misty-eyed.

Pearl Jam, September 26, 2009 Ridgefield, WA

Pearl Jam, September 26, 2009 Ridgefield, WA

Eddie’s voice is amazing even live. A lot of bands have a hard time sounding as good as their studio albums when they play live. Few bands make the songs sound BETTER, but Pearl Jam can do the latter. I knew this already as I’ve wasted spent countless hours on YouTube in my lifetime watching live Pearl Jam performances. This is one of the reasons I wanted to see them so bad. I also had heard that Eddie Vedder was awesome at engaging and connecting with the crowd. The rumors were NOT unfounded. As an added bonus, Pearl Jam just released Backspacer a week ago and it’s amazing too.

Here’s one of my favorite YouTube videos, Pearl Jam Black:

End of Summer

Today is the official first day of fall, and it’s going to be 90 degrees. *melt* But the end of summer for us was the first day of school:

Sissa and Mo, first day of school, September 2, 2009.

Sissa and Mo, first day of school, September 2, 2009.

Lil Miss & Cody on the first day of school, September 2, 2009.

Lil Miss & Cody on the first day of school, September 2, 2009.

For Kevin, you’ll have to use your imagination. I had to drive him to school the first day at the butt-crack of dawn and in my sleepy stupor I totally forgot to snap a picture. I suggested to him in the car on the way there that we could take one when he got home and he said “nah, that’s OK”. Then didn’t come home till 8:30 PM. Stinker.

The weekend after school started was Labor Day weekend. We had plans to go camping. Unfortunately we didn’t make those plans till about two weeks prior and every campground in the known world was booked solid. Then the weather forecast was looking pretty grim, so we decided to go Camping at Cathy’s. She lives in the wilderness and we could totally ignore her house and camp in her yard and it’s be like real camping. If the weather turned bad, we could camp on her living room floor. It was win-win.

Then Jack’s work decided to mess with us and declared everyone had to work through the holiday weekend and any scheduled paid time off between then and October 1st was canceled. I was spazzin’. (You may have noticed if you follow me on twitter or facebook.) There were tears, angry words, and disappointed children. Then… they said “oops, we lied, that’s next weekend”. Well, DUH. We all knew they’d be working the weekend AFTER Labor Day. That’s been planned for a long time. So the tears were for nothing…

Unfortunately the weather forecast just kept getting worse and by the day before we were to leave, the weather gurus said there would be lots of rain, high winds, and thunderstorms at Cathy’s house. We left the tents at home.

We drove up there in a rain storm, but even in the rain, the Columbia Gorge is beautiful. By the time we got to Cathy’s the rain had dissipated and the kids got to play with the cows.

Cathys House, Labor Day, 2009 030

Cathy's House, Labor Day, 2009 030

They had more fun feeding those cows. The cows weren’t complaining either. Every time they saw the kids come outside they’d saunter on over to the fence.

The weather was nowhere near as bad as the weather gurus said it’d be. There was no wind, no thunderstorms, and only occasional rain showers with sun breaks in between.

Rainbow at Cathys

Rainbow at Cathy's

We had a blast! We were lazy, watched movies, hung out on Cathy’s back deck looking at the incredible landscape, and visited my best friend in the world. A perfect ending to our summer. View the rest of the pictures here.

More photos from our Anniversary Getaway

Whenever we travel to the Oregon coast, I’m always in awe of just how much there is to see and how gorgeous it is. Saturday and Sunday nights of our trip we were treated to a breathtaking sunset. Unfortunately I took about 50 pictures of it before I realized the lens on my camera was dirty so only a few turned out. The rest had spots on them. 😦

Here’s a couple that did turn out:

Anniversary, Getaway, Seaside, 2009 052
So bright and orange it almost hurts the eyes!

Anniversary, Getaway, Seaside, Sunset
On this one I love how the sun looks more like the planet Jupiter than a sun.

Anniversary, Getaway, Seaside, 2009 114
This is where we stayed. Our room was the top far right room with the triangle windows above the three rectangle ones. We had a loft with a hot tub where we could look out those upper windows and view the ocean.

Here are more photos from our Anniversary Getaway.