Monday, May 30, 2011

A River Runs Through It...

We just returned from spending the Memorial Day weekend down at the family hay farm on about 40 acres along the edge of the Cowlitz River in Randle, WA. It was nice to spend the holiday weekend together. Grandpa Britt, Grandma Helen, and Uncle Mike were all there but unfortunately the weather did not come through for us. 

After planning the trip for a few weeks after our Cabela's shopping spree, Scott and I checked the weather forecast almost daily hoping for some sunny, "warmish" weather. And, this past week it looked like Sunday and Monday would deliver! yea! We were especially hoping for good weather because we are officially "tent campers" as of a few weeks ago after selling our pop-camper with all the bells and whistles including a shower and potty! I'm starting to think that we bring the rain with us because every time we go the farm the weather there is rainy and gloom and it is usually nice and sunny back at home.
We did see the sun on Saturday intermittently as we set up camp, but we also experienced down pours, drizzle, and rain clouds. We made the best of it as we had planned to have several covered/indoor areas where we could all get out of the elements especially the boys. We even set up a tent specifically for the boys' toys so they could get out of the rain and play, and the toys would be out of our main sleeping tent. It was a lot of fun to set up "the compound" around the campfire with our two tents, our canopy, and the RV that Britt & Helen borrowed for the weekend. 

Our tent was great, not a drop of rain inside all weekend but I have to say the cots and captain chair loungers were the best investment of all the gear we purchased. The cots were amazing! When we picked them out, I was skeptical but Scott assured me that we would be so comfortable and we were -- they were even better than the mattress we had in our pop-up! Although despite the comfortable cots our nights were rather rough. I haven't slept in a sleeping bag in awhile and found it a bit claustrophobic. Also, the boys did get up quite a bit both nights for bottles, potty, etc... And, we did have an extremely cold first night even though we came prepared with our oil heater from home. We actually ended up with two oil heaters on the second night and were warm and toasty!

Colby did really well despite still having a little cold/cough. This was his first official camping trip and he went with the flow as usual;  although he was eager to scoot around on his own. We held him a lot, pushed him in the Bob for his naps and had him in his portable high-chair or walker that we used as a activity chair. He loved watching Chase goof around most of the time. He had so much fun giggling at him blowing the dandelions. Chase had never done this before and Colby just thought it was hysterical and Chase loved blowing on them and making Colby laugh!

Chase loves the farm! He loves to go down to the river and throw rocks, and is now starting to love "fishing" or rather reeling in the bait. He had fun this trip helping Grandpa Britt pick out the bait (real worms!!!!) and reel it in. Although several times the fish stole the bait and they didn't catch anything! Chase also loved riding in the Mule/Cat ATV that our friend Roy brought over to ride all over the property. I think he will be our little explorer!

Scott and Mike had fun fishing, too. Scott brought his Dad's old fly-fishing rod and waded into the river to practice casting. He had fun although I think I saw him get caught in the line a time or two. 

On Sunday, Grandpa Britt brought Great-Grandma Nederhood all the way from Sunnyside. She spent a few hours with us sitting by the campfire eating hotdogs and banana boats (a new camping dessert similar to S'mores I just learned about from Helen -- these will become a tradition at McDaniel family camping trips from now on!) despite the drizzle. She's such a trooper. It was wonderful for her to visit and see everyone at the farm. She enjoyed sitting in our Captain's chairs, too, and said it felt just like home! 

We also got to do a little work for Grandpa Britt, too. It is a rare occasion where they do not work when we are altogether. It was fun to see Chase wanting to watch their every move and try and "help" them with their work. The job on this day was to lay pipe for irrigation to the top of the property. 

Towards the end of the day it was evident due to their cranky/fussiness that the boys needed a little road trip away from camp to help them fall asleep for their afternoon nap. We ventured up to White Pass, approx. 25 min. from the farm. I was amazed, there is still so much snow on the ground their and the temp was about 40 degrees. Brrrr!!! They fell asleep just as we reached the top of the pass so Scott and I had a nice relaxing drive back to camp in peace. :) After returning to camp, we had a fun visit with Uncle Mike by the campfire while the boys slept then we're off to Packwood to Cruisers for Pizza.

We did make it to the annual Memorial Day flea market/garage sell/auction event that Packwood is known for during this weekend. We toured the various booths but the only one to find a treasure this trip was Uncle Mike who purchased an African drum. We then ended our camping adventure with lunch on our way home in Elbe on an old train which was a lot fun and they had one of the best mushroom/swiss burgers I've ever had!

For me, the fun I had this weekend was hanging out with my boys, all three of them. :-) Although the weekend was a bit of downer due to the weather, I think we made it through okay and had fun with our family. I'm hoping for better weather our next trip. My dream is to sit on the river reading a book (in my captain's chair lounger :) in the sun while watching my boys fish with their daddy. Maybe one day, if we're lucky we'll finally get some sunshine during one of our trips to the farm! I certainly hope so because Chase LOVES the farm especially the river so I bet we will be there often this summer and for years to come!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Five years ago today...

... Scott and I were together in the church I grew up in getting hitched with many of our family and friends there to share our special day. It was a magical day, a little stressful too, as all wedding days are for the bride and groom but very wonderful. I was marrying my best friend and we were on a special journey together. I knew that I would never be alone that I would always have him to depend on, lean on, talk to, laugh with, and cry with through the good times and the bad times. I knew he would take care of me and I would take care of him, for the rest of our lives. On that day, I wasn't nervous at all walking down the aisle with my Dad or when I said my vows. I think I was more nervous about our official first dance together as husband and wife and whether or not I could dance the fox trot. :)

It's hard to believe that five years has already passed and at the same time it feels like 50--just kidding! :-) I've known Scott for eleven years, and we've had some crazy/fun times together, and hit some pretty big milestones. I'm grateful and amazed to say that for the most part they have all been wonderful albeit challenging at times, too. But that's the way it's supposed to be, that's life, and I wouldn't want to share my journey through life with anyone else. 

Thank you for this beautiful life! You're an amazing husband, friend, and father. 
Happy Anniversary, honey! You're my guy! I love you! 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Something's gotta give...

Lots of balls in the air and I just can't seem to keep them up anymore... lots of red flags going up that something has to change in order for me to reclaim some sort of realistic balance and peace in my life. I've got to get priorities in order and make some decisions. The last couple weeks have been extremely stressful and really a test at how well I can manage it all. I haven't done so bad, I never do when in the moment or under pressure I can usually accomplish what needs to be done when it needs to be done but I end up paying the consequences later when I'm completely exhausted and things start to settle in or issues resurface that I didn't focus on when I should have...  Or, I let little things that really don't matter become a big deal. Why do I do that?

I just don't like my stressed, unbalanced self. It really isn't me and the longer I continue on the path I am on, the worse I feel. It begins to effect the most important people and things in my life, my husband, my boys... I don't know the answers yet, and maybe it will take some time to figure out but I do know that I need some time to regroup and do some soul searching... 

So, on this sunny morning as Scott and I prepare to say goodbye to a friend, I'm focusing on what truly matters in life. Life is to be cherished and enjoyed, it is a blessing every second, every minute, every hour, every day. I do not want to waste any of the time I have on this earth. I want to focus on being happy and fulfilled rather than juggling all the things I do that are insignificant to just keep going. Doing things I don't enjoy or have to do because for some reason I think I have to do them, really doesn't make any sense, does it? 

If I were to die tomorrow, would my boys remember me smiling and happy, focused on them and their Daddy, and our family. Or, would they remember that I was always in a rush, trying to get them dressed and fed and in the car going somewhere? Would they remember that I didn't have the time or energy to read to them, play with them like I should? I know I do, I make time for these things, and I probably have more time than most mom's do that are managing everything really well, but is what I'm doing enough for me and my family? Would they remember the tender moments, the happy moments or the ones where I'm stressed and struggling at times to keep things together and moving forward?  This is my dilemma and one that I need to resolve before I lose myself and the moments with my boys, my family that I will never get back again. I'm sort of sad to be in this place but grateful to be fully aware of how I'm feeling and have the opportunity to make some changes...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Message to My Mom

Mom, you are my angel. A blessing in my life that I cherish and appreciate every day. Despite the distance and whether we miss a day or a week of being in touch, I know you are there thinking of me, and loving me no matter what. How lucky and grateful I am to have you in my life for so many reasons...
Mom and me days before Colby was born

Thank you for teaching me all you have and still continue to about life, love and most importantly about being a mom. I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have you to call on for advice and support when I hit those bumps in the road and need a shoulder to cry on...

Thank you for giving me the kind of childhood I can look back on fondly with wonderful memories of "Kite Day," picnics at the play park, bike rides around the lake, sparklers on the Fourth of July, camping at Ft.Wilderness and Ft. Summit, trips to Vero Beach, road trips to softball games, vacations to Illinois, and many visits to Wet 'N Wild during the summer. 

Thank you for not only teaching me to enjoy life and have fun but to be responsible and to work hard. I admire your strength and independance and try my best to model that in my life everyday.

Thank you for loving my Dad and taking care of him. Your marriage of 35 years (and counting) is the example of how compromise, communication, friendship, commitment, love and support through the good times and bad is truly what makes a marriage last. 

Thank you for volunteering at school, having dinner on the table every night for family dinners, making me play outside, for coaching my softball team, long talks during Monday Night movies during high school, haircuts and highlights, your visits to Daytona Beach and Tallahassee during college, for warning me to "watch my backside," your support while I moved out West even though that was really hard for you, your love of Scott and our children. It means the world to me that you love them so much and were here with me when they were born. 
Gram with Chase a week after he was born

Gram with Colby days after he was born
As a mom, I now understand more than ever all you have done for me, all you have sacrificed, and the unconditional love you have for me, Matt and Jeanette as your children. 

Thank you, mom, for all of this and more. You are a wise, courageous, caring woman in so many ways. A loving wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. I love you, Ma. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Life is too short...

Two days ago we lost a close friend, Bryan Beale. We are still in shock as he was just at our home spending the day with us... one week later to the very day and almost hour, he was taken.

This tragedy is especially hard on Scott, they have been friends for years. They taught together when Scott was a new teacher and became fast friends. I grew to know him as a force of nature with a personality that drew people in. He was never lacking for words or conversation and he had a wonderful sense of humor. He was so talented, an amazing teacher, artist, and athlete... Scott treasured their friendship and recently within the last few months they reconnected and began spending time together again... as principals they had much in common but they also shared a bond because of their days together at CKJH and all the fun they had there...

Yesterday as we both tried to get through the day on auto pilot, still reeling from the shock of this tragedy. Scott recalled a conversation they had recently over coffee where they were chatting about how important friendship is and that they were so glad they were hanging out again. Life is too short, Bryan's life was too short.

My heart aches for his parents, Bryan was their only child. They are in my thoughts and prayers as are his family, friends, his school community, and all the students whose lives he has touched throughout his career. I am grateful for the chance to have known him and for the friendship he shared with Scott. He will forever be in our hearts, we will cherish our memories with him and carry them with us always.