Saturday, September 17, 2011

The End of Summer 2011 and the Beginning of School

On the last day of summer, we decided to copy Ramona and her dad in Ramona and Beezus and draw the longest picture in the world--for us. I say 'we', but honestly, it is I who did most of the drawing. That's why it's by no means beautiful artwork...because it looks like kids drew the pictures when in reality I did. Nevertheless, I say, it was a meaningful exercise as we reminisced about our wonderful summer together. I hope we'll do it again next year on the last day of summer. Maybe next year the kids will be more confident as artists and pitch in more? Maybe I'll be a better artist, too? We'll see.

On the first of day of school, I managed to take a few pictures of my first grader and my fourth grader in their new classrooms. Lots of emotions come into play when we're saying 'goodbye' to good times and 'hello' to new beginnings. But we all survived it and now all four of us are happy to be 'in school' these days.


Best Birthday Party Ever!!

Or so they kept sayin'.
For more than one reason, I too thought it was.

Here's one: this birthday raft trip down Clackamas River proved to be the easiest birthday to plan for me. Besides getting the food prepped, I didn't have much to do for it. With our friend and expert rafter Trev being mostly 'in charge', the whole party felt like a piece of cake. I got to ride and enjoy myself as much as Isaiah and his little buddies...and I'm pretty sure Andrew and Jason Chupp can say as much for themselves.

Oh, but wait. Before I misrepresent the whole thing, I must say that it was not a piece of cake to get on the river...or a piece of cake for Trev to give up most of a day and lend us most of his gear. For all that and all the other things you did to make it happen, Trev, we are ever so grateful! Thank you!!

So, with that said, I'm all set to share the pictures!

The day before, I made these personal raft zucchini cupcakes for the party.

When we got to the 'take in', the boys helped with inflating the raft.

Even the birthday boy had a turn.

Even the bug man took a break from bug hunting to do his share.

Here they are, ready to roll!

I got this shot using Trev's waterproof camera.

While they paddled back up this little rapid to do something they call 'surfing', I froze my
little toesies to take this poor shot. I don't care though, I am including it here anyway. 

Before stopping for lunch, we did a little bit of jumping off cliffs....

...and they all enjoyed the rush of jumping in the frigid water...

...mosquito-legged Isaiah included...

...and fancy-footed Mas too....

...but no one was game for the sort of thing 'Soaring Wes' was up to!
We got off the river at a halfway mark to have lunch and get rehydrated.
Mas also needed to dry off. The kid was cold!!!

These awesome candles withstood the wind so that the birthday was not absolutely ruined. ;)

They all got intensely involved in their cupcakes once the candles were blown.

Don't worry Cav, I'm not going to take any of your candy away. Promise.

What? You saved the best for last?
 This kid always is so appreciative of any food I make for him!

Isaiah opened presents and the boys "oohed" and "aahed". Really, the best birthday party ever!!

The day could not go by without Cavan finding a cool bug,
and so he made sure to find this thorn bug during our lunch break.
Good job, Cavan. I was counting on you for that.
Trevis ran into one of his buddies during one of the shuttles he and Andrew had to do up and down the river road and he happend to be taking pictures for a couple of groups going down the river. Trev asked him to take these next several shots at one of the major rapids. They sure turned out AWESOME!!

We stopped in an eddy shortly after that to jump off another outcropping of rocks. This time, some of the adults joined in.

We came to the end of our line a little past this outcropping, and to the chagrin of us all, it was time to get off the river. While the boys waited by the riverside for the dads to shuttle cars back and forth, they came across a "jackpot" of tadpoles. The tadpoles quickly became part of my party favors. I had hoped for something like that to turn up along the river and had put in little containers in their party bags for such an occasion. I wouldn't have expected anything as cool as tadpoles at this time of the year, but hey, it was the best birthday ever! That's just how best-birthday-party-evers come to be, I guess. The unexpected good that could happen does happen.

So now we, and three other families, have at least one pacific tree frog on our hands--souvenirs from our trip down the Clackamas River! 

Here's Mr. Froggy!!

Friday, September 9, 2011


9 years ago today, our dear Isaiah came into our lives and changed us forever.

Although we'd picked out his name way before he was born --a la Isaiah 49:1b, I would dare say--
we lovingly referred to him as 909 for the first few days after he was born because his birth date matched the number on my dad's steam train engine, the 909.

Now, in hindsight, it seems wrong to have given him a number like that. How impersonal, right? Yet, in many ways, it was fitting. Why? Well, for one...he turned out to be quite the number guy.

Okay, that was weak. True, yes, but weak. I promise I can do better than that.

I believe it was fitting to refer to him as 909 because there are probably 909 ways God has used Isaiah to sanctify us, to help us see how small we are and how big He is, to praise Him for the way He has helped us parent him, and to simply marvel at His handiwork--Psalm 139.

Yes,  I say it's fitting because there are at least 100 such lessons we've learned for every year of Isaiah's life...and now that he's 9, it's finally time for the 'reaping'.  909, the count is up, pretty to speak. You've been turned on the turntable, 909. Your fire's been stoked...and you're on your own track. Let it rip!

What am I saying? Basically, here's what I'm trying to say: the past 9 years have been mostly about what God is doing in us and through us as parents. But I'd say in the last month or so, the scale has tipped in a major way. God is most evidently at work in Isaiah's life, and though it is a huge encouragement to us, it really isn't about us. It's about Isaiah and his growth in the Lord.

Sure, he prayed 'the prayer' when he was 4, but the wheels are really turning now. God has been fanning the flame so that his faith is really taking off.

His recent peek into his own heart has made him realize his need for the cross.
He's no longer a Pharisee...but the publican beating his chest.

Like the psalmist, Isaiah now knows how it is to feel the weight of sin and to no longer want to hide it.
He now knows how freeing it is to confess and be cleansed --and so he does it regularly.
He now knows that the Lord looks at the heart more than the outward appearance.
He now knows he needs to set boundaries to avoid temptations.
He now knows he needs God's help to get through the day.

He gets it! Our do-gooder really gets it! As a parent, it's both painful and beautiful to watch. It's...a miracle, really. Like a new birth. And it's out of our hands...the real stuff that's happening. Oh, we can still influence his thinking and we can still teach him...but the real, I mean genuine heart change, that's God's territory.

909, we are overjoyed that you've entered God's territory.  We pray for at least 9 more years of entering deeper into that territory together and learning hundreds of lessons along the way.

We love you so much, it makes us ache!

Happy 9th Birthday to the most wonderful son we could ever hope for!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Hood to Coast 2011

It was another summer of training for the Hood to Coast relay race..and perhaps the last in a while for us...or so Andrew and I say. We'll see, though. I'm thinking the team will manage to reel us back in before next August...because our resolve not to participate next year is bound to weaken over time.

For me, my mental fortitude started breaking down during the months of training that led up to the race. I can't really explain why; I just wasn't 'into it' as much as before. The traffic during the actual race and the mess that it left in its wake is what was the clencher for me..and the main turnoff for Andrew. The fact that the race officials decided to add 250 teams this year--which equals 500 vans navigating the same roads--without consulting traffic engineers was one we had a hard time swallowing.  Andrew was not at all happy to find out that the volunteers--I repeat, the VOLUNTEERS---were feeling overwhelmed and underprepared for the task of directing a crazy amount of traffic. For the first time in 5 years of running HTC, we actually considered quitting after our second leg because we were so upset. Imagine! We didn't, of course.. and are oh-so glad we didn't...because, all that traffic and mess aside, we can genuinely say that we had a great time, thanks to our wonderful van 2 and the whole Slap Me Some Happy team!

Van 2 was a riot with the three amigos--Brett, Matt, and Andrew--bantering over just about anything! It was also great fun to be in the company of my two wonderful friends and favorite no-nonsense nurses, Becks and Michele. These ladies knew how to suck it up better than the men...and I loved being among their ranks (although I regret to say, I did complain about my problematic toes after leg 3)!!