Home at Last

A full tank of gas $120

Over 1000 miles of driving

Everything from the house BUT the kitchen sink

A little one teething and with an ear infection

Making family memories...PRICELESS

Yes, I took all three kids with me on our annual trip to Oregon. Lets be reminded I have been doing this since Reilly was 3 weeks old. Yes, I am crazy! But I love every minute of it.

This year we headed out on Tuesday, September 4th. Our first stop my great grandmothers, Mrama who is 97 years old. The kids got a chance to see her and she really enjoyed the visit. Liam wants to know why she is so old. Natalie was very curious about Mrama. While her health may be failing and it is hard to see why she is still living. I am very thankful that my children have had the opportunity to see her and be around her. She is an amazingly strong and might I say stubborn woman (that must be where I get it). We try and visit whenever we can. It is often short as she can not hear and has a hard time reading lips anymore. I will never forget this visit - it meant so much to me.

Curious or Scared?

This warms my heart!

Me & Mrama

Next we met up with Uncle Mike at Caboose Pizza in Tigard and we stayed the night at his apartment in Lake Oswego. Liam prayed about this place the day before. "Mom in all of these days will we go to the Caboose Pizza place" Liam said "Yes Liam we are going tomorrow" I said. "I prayed about that...(a few minutes of silence) God answered my prayer". I chuckled as I thought how funny that he would get that concept. I guess they know more then we think. Liam thought he wanted to go for a swim until he dipped a foot in. We tried the hot tub but 104 degrees was to hot so we settled for Uncle Mike's bath tub. We stayed up watching the Singing Bee and left early the next morning.

My "Creative Illusion"

"Okay so I look good anyway"

Wednesday, September 5th we packed up from Uncle Mikes and headed out. Our first stop - Starbucks of course...mommy needs her coffee! Then we were on the road again. I could not believe it but we actually go on the road by 8:53am. I decided to drive as far as I could before the kids asked to stop. Everyone fell asleep (but Liam of course) only to be awakened by Liam yawning with his high pitched yawn that he feels is necessary to do when everyone is sleeping. Might I add that I had all the kids in the middle seat so that I had more room for all our stuff.

At 11:45am everyone was done in the car, so we took Exit 119 towards the Wildlife Safari. This turned out to be a fun adventure. We ate our lunch in the car and then $14.00 later headed in to see the wildlife. I was a bit scared by the fluorescent Orange piece of paper that warned "we are not responsible for punctured tires or dents from Rhino attacks". Needless to say I was overjoyed when we did not see the Rhino's anywhere.

Liam's favorite part...getting to sit on moms lap and steer the car and navigate us with the map. Reilly's favorite party...getting to buckle the seat belt in the front seat and seeing a giraffe and monkeys. Natalie's favorite part...not having her brothers bug her while she rested. Moms favorite part...watching the boys and just enjoying the moment.

Lunch Break

Me & My Boys

Once we arrived we had so much fun. The first day we spent with Grandma Great. We went to the Science Works Center in Ashland with the kids. It was so much fun and geared towards younger kids. I loved the bubbles! We then had lunch at grandmas and back to Jan's for naps.

Grandma Great & The Kids

Bubble Boy

That night we had dinner at grandma and grandpas house. Chucker and the boys were having a good time while Natalie just kept looking at herself in the mirror (the same mirror I used to look at when I was a little girl). We also measured ourselves on the closet door. Liam has grown 2 1/2 in since we went last year. I guess I have shrunk since 1992 by 1 in according to the closet...hmmmm. If it is true I am in trouble.

The next day (Friday) we headed to Beer Creek Park to play in the morning and did a bit of shopping. Then lunch and naps. It was beautiful out and the kids loved the park!

We always enjoy our trip to Medford. The best part is the great park behind my aunts house. We go on long walks at night (I just love it) and in the morning. The sidewalks are big and the kids can ride their bikes. It is just great..I would love to move there.

Natalie & Her new friend

We spent Saturday evening in Grants Pass, OR visiting a good friend of mine from High school at Brookings-Harbor. It was so great to catch up and meet his wife and kids. It was so fun...we meet for pizza and then we headed to their house and the kids played on the trampoline and had a blast. It was great to catch up! Here is a picture of Josh and I and all our kids. We look like the Brady Bunch! WOW how life changes after 15 years.

Besides long walks, lots of food and beautiful weather. We acted like tourists. We spent the day at the Family Fun Center. The kids loved this and so did the adults. What a perfect time to go as the kids are in school and we had the place to ourselves. The boys loved Captain Jack's Playhouse and jumping in the balls. The best part was Jan and I could go with them because they were to young - we were supposed to be watching them, but I could not resist jumping myself. Jan got stuck up top! We raced go carts, got soaking wet in the bumper boats and Liam even got to drive his own go cart. It was to slow for him and he was more then disappointed. Natalie loved running around and touching everything. She was not feeling very good this day, but as always still wants to play.

The highlight of our trip each year is the day we get to go to the Train Park. This is a volunteer organization that runs a train park with miniature ride on trains for the kids and adults. It features a 3mi ride over bridges, through tunnels, crossings, bends and then back to the station. Did I mention it was FREE! It runs the 2nd and 4th Sunday of each month until Oct. It is really the neatest thing I have ever seen. They even had snow cones this year. The boys just loved it!!!

Okay so on the days we did not go out and about we hung out at aunt Jan's or and G & G's. We really had so much fun and I cried when we left. It did not sink in until the morning we left, but I really miss being near my family. It is such a great joy to have the relationships I do with my entire extended family. It is a true blessing and I hope that will pass down to our children. The value of family is indescribable.

We headed home on Wednesday, September 12th. I wanted to try and drive the entire way, but we were tired. Natalie had me up late the two nights before with her ears and up early. We made it all the way to Albany before we stopped. We hit McDonald's playland for some food and to let loose some energy. The kids had fun and met a new friend.

We then headed to spend the night with Uncle Phil & Aunt Kim. The kids loved their place. We even got pumpkins out of Aunt Kim's garden. Natalie loved Bailey and Sadie. It was a nice break in the trip home. We also got a hold of Jamie & Jodi (Jason's cousin and his wife) and went to visit them. It was so much fun for the kids to play and hang out. Everytime we get together with them we have fun...to bad we do not live closer.

We got up early on Thursday morning loaded up and headed home. We were home by 10:30am and the kids were immediatley playing with all their toys. Natalie even was over joyed by being in her home and with all her things. Daddie came home and got BIG HUGS from us all. We had so much fun, but we missed him.

BTW...daddie went hunting while we were gone and got his first deer. Yahoo! No pictures to show yet.

Labor Day Weekend

We spent Labor Day Weekend at our friends Kevin & Michele Hill's enjoying the weather, playing, games, laughing and eating a lot of food. The Weavers came and we had so much fun 8 kids and all. I will post pictures when the blog wants to work.

Here is an e-mail from a dear friend (not a hoax) a real friend...worth the read.

Dearest Family and friends,

Today I attended the first military funeral that I pray I will never have to go to again but I know that it may not be. I escorted my friend Sarah, whose husband Jarod is currently serving in Iraq.

You may have heard of the accident. 14 soldiers died in a helicopter crash that was due to mechanical failure. 4 of these men were stationed at Fort Lewis here in Washington.

As I entered the auditorium there were four helmuts with night vision goggles staring at me, with pictures of the soldiers. Beneath that was their boots. That was all that was there to represent these men who were husbands, sons, fathers and brothers. I sat for a while, and while people got seated, I was able to watch a slide show of the lives of these four men. Sarah then brought it to my attention that the auditorium was mainly filled with women and that during the funeral that they had in December there were more people able to attend because the troop was able to be there. Many of the friends of these four men are still serving faithfully in Iraq, putting off their mourning until they are able to do so in a place where that kind of distraction will not cost them their life. When the ceremony began we sang the National Anthem, heard men choke back their cries as they remembered their friends through old stories, and heard Amazing Grace played on the bagpipes. (I will never be able to hear that again without crying). After the remarkable ceremony that was filled with tradition and honor, I sat and watched as one by one soldiers went before each set of flight gear and picture and saluted their fallen brother.

After the ceremony we went into a reception hall and had cookies and punch. Sitting I watched a beautiful little boy who had to be the same age as my Eli (1 1/2) run around completely oblivious to why he was there and if he was anything like my little man maybe wondering why everyone was crying and hugging his mama. Then two soldiers approached the widow of one of the soldiers and handed her a framed flag with her husband's picture and his rank. As she sat down almost taken aback by the gift, this same little man with his blond hair, button down shirt, khaki pants, and the chubbiest little hands and fingers came running up to his mom took one look at the framed picture and yelled "Dada". That was it. My heart was broken in two. Knowing that this little precious man would never know his father. Knowing that this family made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Knowing that although they would heal and move on, that their lives would never be the same again. This precious family paid it all for MY freedom.

Why am I writing this you may ask? Because I want us normal civilian people to remember what is being played out while we continue with our normal lives. I want, regardless of your political stance, for us to pray for the wisdom of our leaders and the direction of our country. I want the people I love and care about to thank our military and their families for the incredible sacrifice that they make for us to be able to live in a free country. I want people to quit complaining about what is going on and start voting differently if they don't like what is going on. I want these soldiers to be remembered as the individuals that they are instead of being faced with the fact that we have suffered greater losses in the past. Every soldier that has made the ultimate sacrifice deserves to be remebered that way. Whether you are a Democrat or Republican I believe that you can appreciate the fact that our military serve in their jobs wholeheartedly, with courage and bravery.

I can't help but think of the people I have worked with in the past that were horrible workers. They had no work ethic. They wouldn't do what they were asked to do. They were disrespectful to our boss and those around them. They were incredibly frustrating people to work with. What kind of country would we live in if our military acted this way? Instead of protesting what the military is being asked to do maybe we should thank them for, if nothing else, having an incredible work ethic and doing exactly what is being asked of them. Maybe we can all see beyond that and thank them for their incredible service instead.

Yes, I am an emotional person and maybe most of you won't even read all of this but I just felt that it needed to be said. I love this country that I live in. I am grateful for every freedom that is given me. Even freedom of speech for without that I wouldn't be able to write this to you today.

Please, I ask that all of you remember daily our men and women who are serving in our military. Do not become hardened to the news that you hear of another death. Please know and remember that there is a family behind that death or injury. Please do not let your political standing remove you from being respectful to our men and women in the military. Pray that those who survive physically will be able to survive emotionally and spiritually as well.

Thank you for reading this. Please send on to others who may need to remember what a blessing it is to live in America. I promise that if you forward this to ten people in the next 30 minutes you won't find true love, get a good job, or make a lot of money, but maybe like me you will have a moment of resurging patriotism that I have not felt for a long time. I pray that I never forget. May we never forget.


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