Monday, August 2, 2010

July 2010

It's been a whole year since I last posted, and so much has happened. I'll spare you the details, but suffice it to say...I went to Australia, Germany, and places all over the US, from Tampa FL to Chicago IL, from LA to Dallas, Grand Rapids MI to Seattle WA. My stamp company is doing well, and I have some big projects coming up at work that will also make lots of people happy with their coloring.

Last month we bought a house. It's an older home in Springfield, which means it has repairs yet to do, but it has a yard! I love my yard and I love that my family has space to run and play. We got a good deal on the home and the repairs are all do-able, even if Brian and I are not the kind of people to do-it-yourself.

If the kids run out of places to play outside, they can always play inside, like in the kitchen sink for an impromptu bath...(we won't go into the things that went into her stomach to warrant needing this bath). I like having a separate living room that I can keep nice and clean for guests, while the kids have a playroom to watch movies and destroy without me worrying so much.

I love all the little things this home can see the stamped concrete driveway and porch in this photo, as well as the solar panel on the roof for the hot water heater. It has 3 garages, 3 bedrooms, a living room and a family room, as well as two full bathrooms. I have skylights, a security system, energy efficient appliances, and raised garden beds. I feel truly blessed!

Technically, we live in the county, so our taxes are less as well as our other utilities. But we're close to everything, and only a few minutes farther from work than before.

The kids love the house. AnnaMae has fun vacuuming. She enjoys cleaning the carpets as much as she loves messing up the carpets. It's a lot of fun to clean in your underwear :)

My annoyance is with the yard. There is so much to do to the yard! The previous owners neglected it quite a bit, so I have a lot of work to do to bring it back up to speed. All the other homes in my neighborhood have really nice yards, so I want to clean up my yard to match. At least repairs on the yard are inexpensive.

Here are the kids enjoying the back porch...I love my giant porch! AnnaMae and her cousin Juliet have so much fun together, and who can blame them? Two little girls, close to the same age, and having a blast all summer long. Thank you uncle Dan and uncle Larry for all the help you've given us with fixing the new place.

Luke just wants to get into water fights with dad every night. As long as it waters the lawn I really don't mind what they do! Strangely, they never seem to water the spots in the lawn that really need it, they prefer watering the weeds and the porch. The blackberries are getting ripe, and we had a few raspberries this year. I have a giant grapevine, so we shall see this fall what kind of grapes it produces. I also have a huge walnut tree and a large, annoying evergreen. However, the trees keep my house well shaded, such that I've only had to use the A/C a couple times this summer.

Summertime means a chance to take photos of the kids in their natural habitat- playgrounds. This summer we've had a chance to get some good shots. Here are a few cute ones to leave you with before I head back to bed...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Great 6th Birthday Party!

Luke and Alona had one of the best birthday parties any 6 year old could hope for. There were so many friends and family there it was great! What better way to enjoy the end of a long summer than with a big party down at the best playground in town, with all your favorite friends from church coming to hang out. Loads of fun! Here I am cutting the cake with Laura and Luke eagerly waiting to get his grubby little fingers into it. Sticky boy...

Wednesday evening I got back in town from a long trip to Southern California. All I can say is that I am so thankful for GPS. There is one point on I-5 near San Diego where there are 10 lanes of traffic in each direction! Overall it was a good trip, and very nice to see all my friends and family again at the wedding of my niece. Here's a photo of Larry and his evil twin look-alike, Ethan. The two were so similar looking they could have been related...oh, wait, they are. It was also a business trip for me, so I visited 5 different stores, 3 different classes at an art school, and taught one all-day workshop. Quick, packed trip.

One thing I picked up from So Cal was a nice little cold. It was small until I had it compounded by 3 flights home. On the last leg of the journey home, San Fran to Eugene I remember sitting in my seat and closing my eyes. I opened them again and wondered why we hadn't left the gate yet, as the engines were on. I looked out the window and there was Mt. Shasta. I was so disoriented that it took me about 5 min. to convince my body that I really was up in the air.

So you can imagine how much I wanted to prepare for a big party. Luckily Laura and I were both super busy this past week, so neither of us had any time to plan. As it was, I did all the prep for my portion of the party this afternoon- grocery shopping, gift baggies, Luke's haircut, etc. Then we zipped on down to the park. (check out Luke's new do - it makes up for a summer of shaggy hair, though he kept begging the barber for a mohawk - fat chance with mom paying for the cut).

Larry and Joshua showed up, as Diana was still feeling a bit sick from their trip to So Cal with us. Grandma Hallock was there, and later that evening Grandma and Grandpa Walker showed up as well.

We were so excited to see all our friends from church. The Ravens, the Daltons, the Ogans, the Roberts, the Nguyens... and so many more! I think there were at least 25 kids there, and just about that many adults.

It was a potluck, so it was all pretty relaxed, and cleanup was easy. people showed up, ate, talked, kids ran around, and then Luke, Alona, and Michelle Roberts had Happy Birthday sung to them. We cut the cake and then the kids opened presents. Then havoc and fun reined until everyone headed home at dark. We're pretty sure that each family made it home with the same kids they came with, but there may be a few strays still lurking at the's hard to tell there were so many kids there.

Overall, we claim success! Easy party, lots of fun, lots of friends, and the kids had a great birthday. We sure will miss Alona and her family when they move to Las Vagas! Here are a few more pics to leave you with...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Come to Our Party

Luke and Alona Hojnacke were born one day apart at the same hospital 6 years ago. This gives us a reason to celebrate. We are also sad to see Alona's family move, so before they go we want them to know how much we'll miss them. This also gives us a good excuse to party.

If you want to come you're invited! Bring your whole family. Bring friends, bring neighbors, bring the garbage man or the cable guy - it's all good. We're going to have a big potluck picnic next to the playground, or you can come just for the cake at 7pm. Either way, leave a note on my blog or Laura's blog to let us know what you're bringing or how many people will want cake. This is not a stressful party! This is a chance to hang out with friends at the end of a great summer. Don't feel like you HAVE to bring presents either. Kids these days are spoiled and have way too many clothes or toys anyways, so just bring yourself and come have fun and visit.

Monday, August 10, 2009

July Catch-up

Whew! Time sure flies when there is so much going on. To catch you up on the month of July:

4th of July weekend I was down in Los Angeles for Anime Expo like I am each year. It was a long trip, and our convention was right next door to where Michael Jackson's funeral was to be held just a few days later, so the media hounds were staking out the place all weekend. I flew home just fine on sunday the 5th, but my co-workers flew home the next day and they had a couple of hour delay just because there were so many people coming in for the funeral.

Then, I was home for a few weeks. We tried to make the most of it, and sure enough, the garden and children are both thriving. Its been a lot of fun haning out with Grandma and Grandpa Walker, going for walks with Grandma Hallock, and meeting new friends from across the country. Here are the kids on a sunday afternoon visiting with Grandpa and grandma in our driveway. We are truly blessed to have grandparents in town for the kids to enjoy.

Otherwise, we recently had our Ward activity up at Leaburg park. I forgot to take the camera, sorry, so I don't have pictures of Luke doing the kids races or Anna Mae dripping watermelon. Luke is becoming a little mischevious ringleader, leading his little friends into variouse nefarious activities and pretend games.

Luke has had a great summer. His play group just ended, it met every morning from 9 to 12 over at the local park. Luke's supervisor was his old (and favorite) pre-school teacher from Willamalane a few years ago.

Now we get to watch Maple school as it is torn down and the new school is being rebuilt in it's place. This photo is of the old library. I have so many memories of this place... checking out books, watching videos, and practicing for school plays. Now it's nothing more than dirt waiting for final landscaping (I did snag a brick before it got completely demolished). The new Maple school looks so nice! What a great way to start 1st grade, in a brand-new school.

Then, the last week of July I was off to Orlando for a trade show. It was a long trip. While I was enjoying 90 degrees and 99% humidity, the valley here was suffering through 105 degrees, no humidity. I really don't know which is worse. My show and workshops went great, and I had a chance to visit with many of my online stamping friends. Brian puts up with so much while I'm gone, but the kids truly adore him.

Church is going well. AnnaMae always seems to do well in Nursery and Luke gave a talk in primary about his 7th great grandpa, Jon Telford. It was so cute! He can't read well, so he memorized the story and looked at the little pictures I drew for him next to each paragraph. Then he tried to show the kids in primary the pictures, but they had no clue what he was talking about. I think the adults had more fun with it than he did.

The garden is thriving, though it seems like for everything I plant, the only thing I reallyg et are tomatoes, potatoes, and sunflowers. we'll see how everything else does as the sumemr progresses and how many neighbor kids I can scare away from my plants.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A day of Vacation...

After I got back from Orlando at the end of July, I took one day off for vacation. I know, it's rare that I actually take a day off, but family is much more important than answering e-mails at work. Monday, the 3rd we decided to head over to Florence for some fun.

Monday morning I went over to Laura's to help her plant some things in her yard so it doesn't look so bare. She's trying to get her house on the market to sell, so I became her self-appointed landscaper. I spent a couple hours sweating and digging, with one planter bed looking much nicer, then Luke and I headed home to zip on over to the coast.

This time we went to Honeyman park just north of Florence. The weather was perfect! Not too hot, not too windy, and the sun came out every now and then... enough to give me a slight sunburn on my face and ears and Brian go a slight burn on his knees. The kids were slathered in sunscreen so they were OK.

We rented a pedal-boat for an hour and went around the lake. I love Honeyman lake. It is so warm, peaceful, and quiet. The bottom of it is covered in weeds, so I've never enjoyed swimming in it (just thinking of all the odd things living or dropped into that water makes me shudder) so we just pedaled around, taking lots of great photos. AnnaMae was so excited to be on a boat. She couldn't stop talking about getting on the boat, and was giggling the whole time we were on the lake.

Luke kept trying to fall over. No matter how many times we told him to stay put, he just couldn't keep his feet in the boat. Then, he noticed that he had splashed a bunch of water into the boat so he grabbed our DRY towel and began sopping up the water. Aaggh! We tried to explain to him that it was OK for there to be water in the bottom of the boat. I should have just thrown him overboard...

We haven't gone to Honeyman in years. i think the last time we went was on a campout with the single's Ward before we got married. That was the night that Brian and his buddies got lost on the dunes with only an LED light to lead them back to HWY 101 while I sat back at the campground wondering where the heck they could have gone.

This time we didn't get lost, we just palyed and laughed. Here I am with AM and her big, happy smile. She really didn't stop giggling until we went back to the beach. Luke just wanted to talk to the nice park workers at the dock, and kept trying to run onto other boats while we were getting our stuff off our boat. Brian was pretty sore after pedalling for an hour - I wasn't too bad, as I do that regularly on my way to work (though with all my trips I really need to get back into the habit of riding again.

After boating we headed back to the lodge to gather our plans and figure out what we wanted to do next. AnnaMae just wanted to play in the old stone drinking fountain - check out that tongue! We got a ton of photos of her with the fountain becuase she liked it so much. Too bad she's too small to turn it on AND drink from it at the same time.

Then we drove around to the dune-side of the park to play. here's AM next to the sand castle I built. It doesn't take me much to have fun at the beach, just a quiet spot to build my castles and a little helper to try and knock them down (this time it wasn't my own kids knocking it down but some other little boy).

Luke followed daddy wherever Brian went. There really is no seperating those two. It's great when your best friend is your dad. here they are attacking each other with noodles they borrowed from some kids. I think Luke ended up the winner, as he had snagged a sliding disk and was using it as a sheild. Way to go Luke! After a few hours of intense playing we were getting tired and hungry so we decided to head home.

We couldn't think of anywhere in Florence we wanted to eat, and it was still a little early for dinner, so we headed for home. We picked up a pizza then went to have a small picnic at the Rose Garden.

Here I am trying to catch a bit of a nap. I was worn out even if the kids had plenty of energy. I think I needed a vaction from my vacation! The roses were beautiful, and all the floweres were so pretty around teh gazebo and walk area. It was a perfect time of day too, as the heat had already left the valley as well. We even bumped into one of my co-workers as she biked home from an appointment (I know I had more fun than she did that day!)

The maze of roses are a great place for kids to run and hide. Anna Mae had so much fun darting between the plants. Luke was tired and he kept doing little things to get him in trouble, so he was kept on a tight leash, so to speak. Then we walked over to Skinner Butte Park for some final water and sand play time before we finished off a very long vacation day.

I don't know if I have the energy to do too many more vacation days like that, but that was the perfect summer day with family!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Where have I been? - June

Whew! Summer is a busy time for me. Let me see if I can sum up where I have been since I last wrote (let me also find where I put all my photos).

After my trip to Utah I was home for a few days, then we went to Newport to celebrate my in-law's 50th Anniversary. Most of Brian's siblings were there - Susan, Larry, Lori, and most exciting was Richard who came over from Germany. He doesn't have a chance to visit very often, as tickets are very expensive, but we sure love it when he does get a chance to come.

We stayed in a lovely cabin near the beach there in Newport. I always love going to Newport, as they have tidepools and the Hatfield Marine Center, and Brian and I celebrated our honeymoon there in Newport. We played on the beach, flew kites, and sat around the cabin enjoying each other's company. Anna Mae had a slight cold or viral infection so she was out of sorts for a couple days, but otherwise we had a blast.

Then, on our way home we took Richard up to Tillamook to visit the cheese factory. This is Luke's favorite place to go. We stayed there a couple hours and of course, we got ice cream and squeaky cheese. Daddy also bought Luke his first little wooden-handled pocket knife with his name on it. Now Luke won't go anywhere without his pocket-knife. Great. Just what a 5-year-old REALLY needs, a knife.

Richard stayed for another week before he had to head back to Germany. He likes the nonstop Portland-Frankfurt flight that you can catch, as he lives near Frankfurt. Luke and Richard really hit it off while he was here. Someday it would be neat if Luke could stay with Richard in Germany, as I believe that traveling expands a child's view on the world better than books ever can.

Both kids loved playing with their big, new friend from Europe. Luke liked learning German words from Richard, though we'd need to practice with him if he was to rememebr anything he learned. Anna Mae was just being a cute charmer to everyone, and it's hard to resist her sweet looks. Here they are playing on Grandma's couch. We sure miss Richard!

Here's Richard and Luke pouring over the change purse that Richard carries with him. Richard travels for the church setting up Geneaology research all across Europe, so he carries a pocket full of random coinage from assorted countries. Luke was getting excited, as we've been working with him for the last few months on counting with coins (mostly nickels), so Richard's collection was captivating.

We noticed this sign in Newport. Which direction are you heading? Forward or backwards? Just ponder if you are going contrary to the truth and see where you are headed.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

AnnaMae and Mom in Utah

Whew! What a week! We're exhausted, but had a great time.

Friday morning I had a little spare time, so we headed down to the conference center. It was really neat to see, since the last time I was there was for my brother's wedding, and we didn't have time to wander around. Before that, Brian and I had visited while it was still under construction. It was hard to keep AM from climbing into the fountains on the roof.

Right now they are having an art show in the lobby of artwork made by members of the church. It was pretty neat to see the collection. Mom was getting re-inspired to paint, while I tried to keep AnnaMae from touching anything.

While I was busy teaching and demoing all week, my Mom took AnnaMae down to see her relatives. First they went and visited an aquarium. Ever since then AM has been obsessed with fishies. She already loves my mom's big fish tank at home, but these tanks were huge!

Then, Saturday they stayed down in Mapleton with my mom's brother. Mom's family threw her a mini family reunion because we were coming in town. Here's AM with her second cousin and my aunt that I adore.

I missed most of the fun, since I was still up in Salt Lake working, but I was able to drive down and get the last little bit of the action. AM had a chance to visit cousins and see lots of neat animals, like this horse, and the baby chicks that my aunt was raising in her bathtub.

Driving was a nightmare- they had thunderstorms the whole time we were in Utah. What should have been a quick drive was slowed down greatly by blinding rain, lightning, and water-logged roads. Luckily the roads were clearer when we drove back to the airport on Sunday.

It was nice to see my cousins and other relatives again, but it's also great to be home. Traveling with a baby and my Mom is definitely not as easy as traveling by myself.