Dull moments? What are those?

Last week we drove down to The Dalles to celebrate Thanksgiving with a LOT of Jack’s family. Try… 40 of us. In one house. It was a little bit loud, a little bit chaotic, and a whole lot of AMAZING.

Thanksgiving 2009

We left Grandma’s house around noon on Friday to head to Cathy’s house. Everyone kept asking me if there would be snow at Cathy’s house and foolishly I told them all no. But as we got closer and closer to Cathy’s it became apparent I was wrong.

The road to Cathy's house

Not only was there a couple inches of snow but a fresh blanket had fallen on Cathy’s mountain (AKA Mt Adams) and treated us to this:

Cathy's Mountain (aka Mt. Adams)

And this:

Cathy's Mountain (aka Mt. Adams)

For Troutlake, there really wasn’t that much snow, but it was enough to make the kids squeal with delight and disappear into it for an hour or so despite not really being dressed for it.

Snow - Nov 27 - Cathy's House

We got home late Friday night then spent the weekend pretending we were the Griswold’s as we cut down our tree then put lights on the house.

Here’s a tip for you: Never EVER say “lets not go all out this year“. What undoubtedly happens is you put even MORE lights on the house and go more “all out” than the year before. Trust me on this one.

Christmas Lights and Tree

Christmas Lights and Tree

See?

And see the tree to the right there? That took Jack two hours. He actually climbed the tree, trimmed it, climbed it some more, had a ladder IN the tree and came out sweaty and covered in spiders and pine needles. If I weren’t fearing for his life I would have found it comical.

This tree was much easier to decorate:

Christmas Lights and Tree

This past week was a whirlwind of work … and stress from work … for both of us. This weekend we’re taking it easy and the only thing planned is Kevin’s school’s musical production of Fiddler on the Roof. Kevin is playing the part of Tevye and if you’ve seen Fiddler on the Roof you’d know what a huge part that is. It’s so huge that all the rehearsing (plus the choir rehearsals) caused him to lose his voice last night. It’s better today, but he wasn’t too happy.

This may be the last weekend we relax until next year … considering THREE of our kids celebrate birthdays this month, plus all the Christmas festivities.

At least there’s never a dull moment around here.

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??

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.

2009 Fourth of July Fireworks

We had an awesome time yesterday celebrating Independence Day with family and friends. This has become and annual event with us and I look forward to it all year. This year was our seventh year in a row hosting a party and fireworks show!

Today we’re dealing with the aftermath: lots of cleanup. 🙂 We’ll be finding firework debris in our yard for another year or so. (Thanks to those who helped last night!) I uploaded a photo and video sampling of our two-hour show. Here’s a slideshow:

To those that weren’t able to make it this year: You were missed and we hope you had a wonderful holiday!

The Elves were Slackin'

Cody thinks Santa’s elves were slackin’ this year. First, when they packaged his new Star Wars Legos the Complete Saga game for the PS3, they didn’t ensure the disk was properly secured so it was free-floating in the box. He was so NOT OK with this even though the game was fine and him and I have played countless hours together since Christmas morning.) 🙂

The really cool remote control fighter helicopters he and Casey got from Santa Christmas morning lasted all of maybe 1 hour tops. For Cody, his lasted all of one take-off before it crashed and broke. We were so NOT OK with this. (We paid Santa’s elves $70.00 for the helicopter set).

THEN, the lamp/organizer/ipod speakers Sissa got for her birthday flat out didn’t work at all. No light. No music. Nada. WE were so NOT OK with that either.

All of the above did make for a fun day shopping yesterday though. We gave ‘the elves’ back the helicopters and let the boys pick out something else entirely. They ended up with nerf dart guns (Casey got two different dart guns, Cody got one gun, two dragon figurines, and one Star Wars figurine) and have had more enjoyment out of those dart guns in the last 12 hours than those stupid helicopters ever would have. (The helicopters sure were a neat idea though.) We also exchanged Sissa’s lamp/organizer/iPod speakers with one that worked.

MP3/iPod Lamp Organizer

MP3/iPod Lamp Organizer

During the exchange of her lamp, (at Burlington Coat Factory) we met the biggest slacker elf of all. Well at least the strangest ‘elf’. Possibly even a bi-polar elf. She was the oddest mixture of friendly and rude at the same time I think I’ve ever encountered.

She started off cheerful and greeted me kindly, asked how she could help, etc. But when she found out I wanted to exchange the lamp she frowned and examined the box and asked me accusingly,

“What happened to the box?”

There was nothing wrong with the box other than Sissa opened it on the seam instead of at the top. There were no dents, holes, etc. Nothing to indicate it had been dropped or damaged in any way. I shrugged and told her nothing was wrong with it and I have no idea why it was opened on the seam. I jokingly added that my kids always seem to open boxes in the most difficult way instead of the obvious/easier way. (You should see how they open cereal boxes… it’s baffling.) Checkout girl… er ‘efl’ just gave me blank stare. She didn’t think it was one bit funny. After she was done staring me down, she gave me a fake/sarcastic smile and another accusation:

AND, I see you didn’t leave the UPC on the box.”

To which I explained, “Nope. It was a gift”. (I blinked back at her.)

She gave me a condescending look, rolled her eyes, and said in the snarkiest way possible,

“You could have scratched off the price instead while leaving the UPC intact.”

I just gaped at her and did not reward her with an answer. I’m the one who should be frustrated here, not her. AND. Once I purchase an item, I OWN it. If I want to take off the UPC and open the box in a strange way, that’s my prerogative. Where’s the apology about the broken item? Where’s the cheerful, kind person who greeted me not two minutes ago?

Did I mention I had the receipt? The receipt that was bar-coded? All she had to do was scan the receipt and item came up. Having the UPC wasn’t even needed to exchange the item. I kept my mouth shut not allowing her to ruin my good mood.

Once the exchange was complete she handed me the new lamp in a new bag, smiled genuinely and kindly wished us a very happy New Year. Not one hint of the snarky bitch she was being 2 minutes ago.

White Christmas 2008

patio table with a few more inches of snow

patio table with a few more inches of snow

Barring a dramatic – and highly unlikely – overnight melt-off, there will be more snow on the ground in Vancouver tomorrow than on any Christmas on record.

Jack and I were mulling over the last time we can remember a truly white Christmas in our home town. Jack says he remembers one as a small child. I only remember an icy Christmas one year when I was in my early 20’s. (So only a few years ago.) 😉

The Columbian released this article with data on when we’ve had a White Christmas in the past: Christmas snowpack will break record ~Interesting stuff!

We woke up this morning to several inches of new snow on top of the 13 inches we already had from this past week’s snow storm. Supposedly it’s going to warm up and turn to rain at some point today, but even if it does, this isn’t melting overnight and I think it’s safe to say we’re having a white Christmas! We’re pretty OK with that. The sight of all this snow in our neighborhood is breathtakingly beautiful and our kids (and ourselves) are enjoying every single moment of it.

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!