Monday, December 29, 2008

Vive les Gaggles!.......

Next week the girls will be back in school and I will be able to get back into a blogger routine. It will be so nice. I do miss the visiting.

For now though, we are getting ready to leave town for a few days to attend the second annual Gaggle Conference. Ah....good times.

Happy New Year to you!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Belated Merry Christmas To You!.....

The snow kept on coming and coming. I know if I was living in a place like Michigan, North Dakota, or Alaska then the snow we had in Portland would be nothing to speak of. But for our area....2 feet was a lot to deal with. It basically shut down the city right before Christmas. Hubby and I ventured out a couple of times in the thick of it to get groceries and fresh air. Silly I know but for some reason being couped up made me really want to have Chinese food. It was so hard to find a place open with all of this snow.

By Christmas Eve the city had gotten control of things enough that we decided that nothing would stop us from being with my folks for Christmas. Our home is at an elevation of something like 400 feet while they are at 1100 feet on the top of one of the larger buttes in the countryside. The snow that we had in the city was nothing compared to what they had. We loaded up the car with presents, groceries, and overnight clothing and our faithful 4x4 got us most of the way there. Putting our belongings on the sled and hiking the rest was easy enough since my dad had shoveled a path for us.

Most of our extended family was unable to get out there but my brother and his wife were able to trek out for a few hours before another layer of snow hit. We had a wonderful evening together making memories, playing cards, and sharing stories. Christmas day began with our traditional Portuguese breakfast of vingadalsh, rice, and eggs and became a snuggle day for the rest of the time we were there.

Here are just a couple of highlights of Christmas for us.
One of the large trees in my parents yard fell under the weight of snow and ice. It landed on the roof over my Nana's bedroom. Praise God that no one was hurt and from what we can tell around all the snow there is no real structural damage aside from one limb poking through the porch eave.

News of all news!
My sister-in-law is going to have a baby!
I am going to be an auntie!

There is much more to tell but for now I must go.
Blessings to you and I hope you had a wonderful and joyous filled Christmas.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Snow and Uganda But Not Together.......

What was the last thing I wrote about?
Oh yes......Pippin is back now and it is like she never left. She only spent 24 hours in Amsterdam. They didn't do any sight seeing because they were dressed for Africa and not upper hemisphere weather. It ended up that the airlines put them all up in a fancy hotel. By the sound of things, with heated floors and automatic everything, it must have been some kind of super deal between the airlines and the hotel industry with a fancy 5 star atmosphere. It was such a blessing for the whole team. Though they wanted to be home, the comforts of the hotel gave them time to begin the unwinding process after their non-stop schedule.

Once here, our schedule was merciless but joyful. Our oldest daughter and her beau came into town the same evening to spend a few days with us. And surprise! Our oldest boy snuck in the house a day later for some unplanned fun. We spent those days celebrating together, shopping together, going to Christmas parties, and doing a bit of ice skating. With the big storm front that has moved into the NW, it ended up that our girls only had one day of school before their Christmas break began.

For the last week we have had snow and ice blow in and around our area in a display that has been beautiful but quite unusual for our neck of the woods. It has come and gone a bit so that errands can be run and the Portland people can get over their initial shock on actually seeing snow on the valley floor. I personally don't remember seeing weather like this since the winter of 1995 when we first moved back here. Then we were staying at my parents house which is another 500 feet up in elevation. I don't think that the city saw this much then either.

The weather has been so crazy that I had to postpone my coveted birthday time with my mom for a later date. We so look forward to spending our day together and it was a bummer to have to hold off. I will share the details that I have planned .....AFTER......we have our date for who knows when she will pop over here for a quick read. (wink wink Mom I love you)

It is currently a nippy 17 degrees outside, 8 o'clock in the evening, and the snow has been coming in force all day long. My poor hubby, who drives an 18 wheel semi-truck, has been working in it all day long and is trying to make his way home now. We are hoping he is able to get all the way here to the comforts of home before too much longer.
Here is a quick snap shot in my driveway from this evening.

Okay, it is a little after 10pm now. Hubby made it home safe and everyone had some tasty soup for dinner to take away the chills.
In between all of the baking and fun of the holiday season, I have grabbed a few frames from Pippin's videos to share with you. I think technology is so cool that I can take a single frame from a digital video stream and make it into a picture.
I am hoping that in this next week I can coax her away from the snow long enough to create a video journal of her time in Uganda.

While in Uganda, Pippin and her team visited 5 different school villages before the conference began. Here you can see the conditions of the school buildings and surrounding area. They administered medication and food, shared the love of God and made many friends. So many amazing things happened.

Unbeknown to them at the time, one of the villages had a grudge against white people. They had said that God did not love them enough to ever have white people bless them with a visit and bring much needed supplies. Our team showed up with supplies and love for the day and shared over and over again that God thinks of them more times than the stars are in the sky. By the end of their visit, 7 of the villagers asked God to live in their hearts and one man whose hand was severely crippled was completely healed in front of every ones eyes.

Here is Pippin with a group of children that followed her around in another village. They mimicked everything she did. They petted her, took turns holding her hands, pointed out her freckles with amazement, and openly shared their hearts and possessions with her. One little girl got down on her knees in honor to give Pippin an ear of corn. A set of twins chattered eagerly with sparkling eyes and sang songs to her as they picked grass seeds off her skirt to keep her clean. In this picture, the little girl to Pippin's left in the white dress was a tearful joy. She was so determined that Pippin was taken care of that she dragged her finger thru her bowl of rice, dividing it in half and making Pippin eat her share. Pippin tried to pretend to eat and not take her food but the little girl was wise to her and would have none of it. In the little that she had, she felt it an honor to be able to bless Pippin. Even now it brings tears to my eyes.

This little girl has a tourniquet on her right leg. As our team had entered the school compound, this girl had just been found wandering in the bush and had gotten a snake bit on her foot. Though the children are told over and over again to stay close, sometimes it is too hard to keep track of everyone. This little girl was trying so hard to be brave and fight back tears. She has seen too much tragedy in her young life to know the consequences. With Africa having the most venomous snakes in the world she knew that bite victims either die or lose the extremity that was bitten because of fast setting gangrene.
Pastor Moses quickly handed money to the school dean and they whisked her away on a moped to the nearest hospital. Praise God for later the team heard that she was in stable condition.

Here Pippin is helping to pass out lunches to the village school children. It typical fashion, this little girl curtsied as she was given her treats. Usually meals consist of ground corn mixed with water to make a paste. But in honor of the team visiting, each child was able to have fried rice with pieces of meat mixed in. They were thrilled.

I found it interesting to learn that each child carries around some sort of back pack. In each back pack they carry a plastic bowl to eat their meals in. They also carry empty containers. The reason for this is because the village water pump is located at the school. At the end of the school day, the children fill the containers that they have and carry water home to their families. They were thrilled when our team would empty a simple water bottle and give it away for that meant something else that they could carry water in.

Over the past few days I have been looking through the video footage in awe. I find myself crying over everything in front of my eyes. We live in such plenty and yet still complain about so much. The people that Pippin met have so little and yet they are filled with joy and happiness.

I find myself hoping that in a few years maybe I can make a trip like this. I want to love on the children, the people, give much needed supplies, ................and learn from them.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Punchline Failed......

I received a text message from Pippin during the night. Their plane is currently broke down in Amsterdam. The airlines gave them food and hotel vouchers and told them to try again tomorrow. While I am bummed not to be on my way to the airport in a couple of hours to pick her up, I am trying to see things a bit more positive.

*They found a problem with the plane BEFORE it was in the sky.
*She gets another stamp in her passport.
*Maybe the team will use the opportunity to tour a bit of the amazing city and culture.

So, while I can't give you any great details about Uganda yet, I can share on life here.
I haven't done a "Out of the corner of my eye" piece in quite a while and I was encouraged to write about this recent episode that happened. Hopefully you will enjoy.

I love to watch people. It is amazing the things you can see when the time is taken to watch. At times it is inspiring and at other times....humorous beyond belief. Sunday evening was one of those times.

I was at the crowded grocery store picking up a few items for school lunches. In front of me I saw a family of 5 picking out apples to enjoy. There was the mom who was doing the picking, 2 young boys trying to help with the task, and the dad standing behind her with his preschool daughter sitting on the top of his shaved head. This dad had a boisterous voice and a sparkle in his eye. Holding his daughter's hands so she wouldn't fall while balancing her little tush on the top of his head, he laughed and loudly said, "Hey Honey. Look at me. I am a butt-head." Then he made upward eye motions pointing to the fact of his daughter's seat position.

The young brothers giggled and pushed one another around while the mom looked at her husband with disdain. Everyone in the produce department had heard his loud proclamation and had turned to view the spectacle.

Now, I don't know about you, but there have been times in my life when I have tried to deliver a punchline joke and people haven't laughed. During those times, I have been slow to get the concept that it was not funny. Instead I will repeat the punchline thinking that if it is heard again then people will get it.

Apparently that is what the dad experienced because he didn't let go of the joke. Instead his voice became more loud as he jumped and danced down the isle holding his daughter in place. He said, "Her butt is sitting on my head. Get it? Butt-head! I am a butt-head...... I am a butt-head....."

Oh my goodness. The onlookers just looked.....not knowing how to respond. The wife quickly drove her cart down a different isle wanting to put distance between herself and the situation. I personally felt embarrassed for him....and his wife. But at the same time I wanted to laugh at the irony of the whole picture. I could just imagine the thoughts of the onlookers while on the other hand the dad was happy with himself, his joke, and spending time with his daughter.

What do you see out of the corner of your eye?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I've been strong. I've been brave. I've been sure.
I haven't worried and I have done all I could to be supportive as my "Pippin" travels across the world to Uganda. I shed a few tears watching her leave that morning and then have spent the rest of the time truly happy for her new experience.

Now she is boarding a plane to begin her journey home.
She just sent me a text message saying, "Momy could u make it so that no one comes 2 the airport when u get us? I have decided that all I want it my momy."

Now I am crying.

The Saga of Snow Globes...

The first Christmas that we had here in Portland after retiring from the Air Force was in 1995. Unknown to me at the time, amongst the many memories of family visits, fun dinners, celebrations, gift exchanges, and weather watching......a new collection was to be birthed in our home.
My brother-in-law had given us a snow globe. It was a sweet and thoughtful gift. It held a simple nativity scene and when shaken, large snowflakes danced around much to the delight of our young girls.
It was the first snow globe we ever owned.

In 1997, my mom and Nana dropped by for a surprise visit after conquering some serious store shopping. Excitedly they showed us 2 large snow globes that they had purchased for us. One was an intricate nativity scene and the other was a joyous Santa. Fanciful glitter floated around the 2 scenes while Christmas music played from secret compartments underneath and a carousel of detail spun around the outside bottom stands. They had purchased both because they couldn't decide which would bring more delight to our girls.
I thought it was a nice gesture and absently wondered, "wow what am I going to do with 3 snow globes?"

The following year it started getting interesting. Our oldest boy decided we would appreciate his collection of 6 little trinket snow globes....since we already had 3. Then my mother-in-law stopped by with yet another little globe that plays music and holds a picture frame inside. She said that since she noticed we COLLECTED globes, she was sure that this one would make a happy addition.
Then we acquired another from a gift exchange.

Last year, as we unpacked the Christmas decorations, I realized just how many snow globes were in the box. Eleven orbs of sparkling glass looked up at me seeking to be shaken and admired. From big to small, fancy to simple...there they were all saying, "We are your collection!"
I started laughing, for while I had always thought snow globes were an interesting craft and certainly pretty.......I had never felt the need to own any.

Last Christmas, our oldest daughter and her beau were here for a few days to celebrate. As I unwrapped a gift from them........I found..........a silver angelic snow globe looking up at me from the box. Our daughter exclaimed, "Do you like it? I told him we couldn't go wrong with a snow globe because I know you collect them."
I smiled and gave them both a hug of appreciation. It was a pretty globe and a thoughtful gift.

I must admit that last year I made comments and jokes to my husband about the irony of collections and the idea that globes were something I never thought much about or wanted to collect and now everyone has decided that we collect them.

This year though,as I look around at our Christmas decorations, I have found myself shaking the globes.....admiring the globes......enjoying the globes......and wondering if we will have an addition to our collection this year.
Boy am I goofy and fickle.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The World Isn't So Big With Text Messaging......

You are all so good and faithful to me....even when I don't get on the computer all week long. Thank you so much for your prayers, your e-notes, your willingness to 'wear my shoes', and your cheers. Some of you have even added Pippin to your prayer group lists. Wow! Thank you.

You have been wondering how Pippin is doing.
I have received some text messages from her that give me a glimpse of her new world. There is a bit of "boy I could use a mom hug" in between the lines. But mostly there is the incredible-ness of a new world being opened.
She has said things like........
"The children call me 'Madame'"
"I have made so many new friends."
"All the children crowd around and try to hold my hands at the same time."
"We had pizza today but it didn't really taste like pizza."

During the first few days of their tour, they visited a couple of villages, including Hope Village. I was really excited to find that website and informational video. As I watched it, I felt closer and gained understanding. I thought things like, "In a few hours she will be walking on that street or maybe talking with that child." I can't wait to sit with her and hear all the stories and adventures, see the growth and maturity in her eyes that only experience can give.

I have been keeping busy. Aside from one mega headache that made me useless for a couple of days, I have been Christmas shopping and doing all the regular house wife/mom kinds of things. As soon as Pippin gets back from Uganda, our oldest daughter comes into town for a week with her beau and we will be celebrating Christmas early. That means things have to be ready early.

My sweet "Rosie-girl" was so wonderful today. We put up our tree tonight and after I strung the lights she and her girlfriend did all the decorating. I am so grateful.

How is it that at 37 years old I can't balance and multi-task like I did just one year ago? I look back at that ME standing in my kitchen with 4 teens at home, a hubby, 2 dogs, the door, cell phone, and land line all vying for my attention at the same time while bread bakes in the oven and dinner cooks on the stove.......nothing burns....everyone is satisfied, and I wasn't overwhelmed......and I think "Who in the world was THAT woman?"

It makes me laugh. For now the smallest of things jumbles up my brain while days can go by and I cannot account for anything worthwhile being accomplished. I take great joy in the truth of knowing....."and this too shall pass".

(David at Authorblog gave this post an honorable mention in his Post of the Day spot. Thank you David for being so supportive and riding this ride along with me.)

Monday, December 1, 2008


The last few days have been such a whirlwind of things to do. Along with all of Pippin's packing and preparations we had the fun of a few days worth of celebrations. Thursday was Thanksgiving. After jumping up early in the morning to make a double batch of dinner rolls, we headed up to my mom's house for fun with 24 members of the family. There was so much food and we enjoyed every ounce of it. Oh my, even thinking about it now makes my tummy hurt.

How is this for before and after?

Here is hubby and I enjoying our share of turkey and stuffing.

The next evening we spent across town with some 35 members of Hubby's family that were in town for the holiday. Nephews and nieces, aunties and uncles, young and was so good to see everyone and share updates, encouragements, and love.
(sadly I do not have a picture of that evening.)

Saturday evening was spent at a friend's house for the Oregon Civil War Game. It was a hoot to watch the gang yell it out for each tackle and tease one another. Maybe you can see a small bit of the rivalry in the photo below. One of the Beaver fans nabbed the Ducks little stuffed mascot and hung him in a noose around the projector platform. As the winning score proved, it wa a futile attempt at proclaiming victory.

Sunday was church service, family visiting, and then THE PACKING.
It took us a few hours to sort items, roll clothes, and write out directions for the different vitamins and such I wanted her to take along. One 30 lb. suitcase and 2 carry-on bags later she was ready to go.

We had been buzzing for so long with check lists, fundraisers, shopping, and meetings. It felt strange to have it all done and not think of anything else that needed attention. As I tucked Pippin into bed last night we both were thinking that same unspoken thought......"This is the last time for two weeks".

Are you wondering why a 17 year old is getting tucked into bed? It is okay. Really I don't baby my girls. At least I don't THINK I baby them. Pippin has just always reveled in that quiet snuggle time. No matter what the day has been like, even if we have been at whits end with one another......she will jump under the covers and give me that sparkly eyed look while peeking out from her blankets and looking just like she did as a giggly toddler.

As the clocks stopped keeping their time and the earth froze in rotation, we snuggled and didn't say a word as we both thought of the new world door that was opening before her in just a few hours.

Watching her go through the security gate and walking down the airport breezeway for as long as I could this morning, I felt proud. She had a big smile on her face as she took care of her teammates and stepped forward. Yes I had tears rolling down my cheeks and moments when I wanted to yell "Wait! One more hug!" But I know she is entering into an amazing destiny and purpose right now that I can only begin to wrap my brain around.

I know she will be fine. I know she is safe. I am sure the time will go by quickly.
As I write this, she is flying somewhere close to Amsterdam right now and still has another 8 hours of flying to go. It is such an adventure. Oh the stories we will hear when she comes back.