But the fire is so delightful
On our recent trip to Great Wolf Lodge near Centralia, WA, we had one of those “that was really good timing” experiences. When we first entered the lodge, there was a gigantic balloon spider on the main floor. (I never thought I would ever type the term “gigantic balloon spider” on this blog!) It was so cool! I’m not a big fan of spiders myself, but we couldn’t help but appreciate the creativity and organization that went into such a massive project. And when we learned that they would be hanging it from the ceiling later that evening at 10 p.m., we didn’t hesitate to put that event on our schedule, even though it wasn’t really an official event.
Maybe it’s because Brent’s job as a pastor and leader involves so much creativity, but we almost can’t help ourselves when it comes to big projects like this. Others might sit back a be amazed at the sight, but we always have a tendency to want to ask questions and get a look behind the scenes so we can see the “how” of this kind of stuff. For us, sometimes the process is just as impressive as the finished product. Who knew you could accomplish so much with just a whole bunch of balloons and some fishing wire?
We appreciated watching the teamwork involved with hanging the big spider, chatting with the balloon artist, and how creativity was being prioritized. I must admit that if it had been some kind of spider that was more scary and “Halloweeny”, I probably would have avoided the lobby at all costs, but fortunately that wasn’t the case. I just thought the whole this was pretty neat. We had fun brainstorming about different huge balloon sculptures that could be used at our church: Noah’s ark, a lion, the sun, an angel, almost anything! The possibilities are almost endless!
If we can’t figure out how to take an extended summer vacation, we do the next best thing: we just take it in the fall instead! Sounds like a great idea, right? So last week we opted out of all our weekly obligations (except Brent’s staff meeting) and took the kids up to Washington to spend a few days at Great Wolf Lodge near Centralia. We’ve been to indoor water parks before when we lived in Minnesota, but that’s been awhile. And our kids are much bigger now, which makes things easier. But it also makes me a little sad to think that we never once went to the kiddie pool area the whole time. My how time flies!
We made use of the water park, which has some pretty cool slides and stays at a temperature of about 84 degrees all the time, but we also splurged and bought passes to the ropes course so we weren’t just climbing stairs to the water slides all day long. And, of course, we took some time out to explore the antique district down the road in Centralia. We have a tendency to drag our kids into all kinds of crazy shops, and I have to say that they are very patient with us. Thank you kiddos! The other highlight of the trip is was that we took advantage of some of the restaurant opportunities that we don’t have in Bend. We’re still waiting for the day when a Chipotle or a Burgerville comes to our side of the mountains. But until that day comes, we’ll just keep visiting those places when we take trips like this one.
We had a great time just being together. When one of my friends asked me if we had fun, I told her that the best part was having uninterrupted time with the kids. I’m grateful that we had the chance to take the trip. We become more aware every day how short our time is with the kids. And that no stage that they’re in is going to last forever. So for now it’s back to the real world, with meetings and schoolwork and laundry and no secret sauce from Burgerville. Oh well. A girl can dream, right? Enjoy the pictures. There’s a lot them this time!
Now that school is underway, I’m looking back fondly at the last weeks of summer that we enjoyed. I guess the saying is true, “Time flies when you’re having fun.” In August, Emma went on a youth retreat to beautiful Crescent Lake. This was just one more of the many places is Oregon that we have not visited before. Sarah, our amazing youth pastor, let us tag along a little bit. We camped nearby but tried to give Emma as much space and freedom as possible. It’s always a fun balance between being the pastor of a church and a parent of a church member. But our rule of thumb is: if you’re going to disappoint someone, don’t let it be your kids. Anyway, we were around, but tried not to be in the way.
We were excited to see this National Forest area. The big lake is great for boating in the summer. But we also learned that it’s a popular location for snowmobilers in the winter. That would be a fun adventure! I wouldn’t be surprised if we come back here sometime in the future. Happy camping!
Confession: I have been a Pinterest stalker for quite some time.
I could tell you that I go to that site for research. Which might be true some of the time. But really I just think it’s cool to see what other people like and to get ideas about fun stuff like decorating and travel and parties. After months and months of exploring the site without actually signing up, I finally broke down and made my own account. I’m so weak!
Some of you probably have some extensive Pinterest experience. But I know that’s not true for some of my readers (I’m talking to you, Mom and Dad). For you non-Pinterest people, the site in an online bulletin board where you can “pin” things from the internet to your “board” so you won’t forget the great idea that you found on the internet. It’s sort of like an online idea book. And it really cuts down on the bookmarking of websites. Now, instead of adding a bookmark, I can just “pin” it to one of my “boards” on Pinterest. Warning: it can be a little addictive because you will never ever ever run out of things to research!
My new board is pretty little compared to most. Right now it’s got a few ideas for school next year and some plans for my upcoming Vacation Bible School class. These are all noble causes to be sure, but don’t be surprised when you start to see some boards dedicated to different rooms in the house, or holidays, or even traveling in the RV. If you’re curious, you can visit my profile. If you’re reading this in your email, you have to go the blogs website, then you can see the profile by clicking the little P over to the right, right next to the little envelope. The P, of course, stands for Pinterest.
Once you get there, just start clicking on whatever you want. Or start a new search. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Happy pinning!
I’ve been having fun watching some web series on Youtube. But these series aren’t just some random videos, they are actually based on classic literature. So that makes it almost educational, right? Sure it does! I like them because they are, obviously, working with some amazing material. But I also enjoy watching how the creators adapt the story to a 21st century setting with 21st century technology. I’m always interested to see how an old story will be told in a new way. Here are some of my top choices:
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: This is probably the gold standard of adapted web series so far. Based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, the format is set up as a video diary. If you know the story, it’s kind of fun to compare the novel to the TV miniseries to the movies to the Youtube episodes. This series is complete, so you can watch it from beginning to end if you want. But it will take a while, so don’t go on a Youtube-watching binge unless you have the time.
Emma Approved: Another Jane Austen adaptation, obviously based on the novel Emma, that is produced by the same people that brought us The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. This series is not complete. They’re right in the thick of the story and things are about the get very interesting!
The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy- based on J.M. Barrie’s Peter and Wendy. This takes place in Neverland, Ohio and explores the dilemma of growing up. This is also in the middle of the story right now, which makes it fun. Peter and Wendy might be considered a children’s book, but I would not call this a children’s web series. The characters act childish at times, but they aren’t children and are dealing with very grown up issues, at least most of the time.
Green Gables Fables: based on L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, this is the only one that’s more kid friendly. It’s made by some Canadian cuties. It’s not produced or budgeted quite the same as the other series on my list, so the rollout of videos isn’t as consistent. Yet I can’t help but admire these young people for taking on this kind of project.
All of these series have some kind of interactive component to them. In fact, some of them have MANY interactive elements. The shows have websites. The characters have their own Twitter or Facebook accounts. Sometimes they make comments on the videos. There is even an online newspaper for Neverland. For me, the best part is watching how these amazingly creative people take a classic piece of literature and make it new. I always feel kind of proud of myself when I recognize something in the videos that is based on the original story. You might even notice something that I’ve missed. But I must warn you: you might get hooked and then the next thing you know it’s one o’clock in the morning and you’re telling yourself, “Just one more episode!” Happy watching!
Now when I say “old friend”, I don’t really mean that he’s that old, it’s just that we’ve known him for a long time and we haven’t seen him for about 12 years. For about a week we had a visit from our friend Chris. He and Brent attended graduate school together in Ft. Worth back in our Dallas days. He knew us when Emma was born. And he’s now a middle school choir teacher in Ft. Worth. (My dad says that all middle school teachers are going straight to heaven!)
To celebrate a milestone birthday (he’s younger than I am) Chris has been on a 40 day road trip across parts of North America that he’s’ never seen before. We were glad that Bend, Oregon made it on his itinerary. He certainly made the most of his time here, seeing Multnomah Falls, the coast, Portland, MacKenzie Pass, and Crater Lake. Even though he has seen many beautiful places, I think that one of the best things about his trip is “the daily challenge”. Before leaving Texas, he had some friends write down forty daily challenges that are some kind of way to pay it forward, a random act of kindness. So every day, Chris opens up a new envelope to find out what his new challenge of the day is. On one of his days here, he had to serenade someone. So the staff at the Vietnamese restaurant got a serenade after lunch! That’s just not something you see everyday!
The best part of the visit for me was watching Brent and his friend from school quickly return to the friendly banter and joking that they had all those years ago. We all have friends that we don’t see for a long time that we don’t have to work hard at getting comfortable with again. The fun and games start up right away. For Brent, Chris is one of those friends.
So now he’s off to the next part of his adventure. Happy traveling!
Blake made two videos for me to describe his latest lego creation. What he made, what he said, and how he said it was all his own doing, especially the expression at the end of the videos. Brent told me I should leave it in, and not cut it out. Oh well, maybe it’s a guy thing. Anyway, it’s fun to see how a creative 10-year-old boy expresses himself. Enjoy!
After a good night’s sleep in the trailer, we needed to make a decision about what to do for the day. The weather was pretty rainy, so we decided not to do a lot of hiking. Instead, we drive back toward the Eugene area to do something that we practiced a lot during last summers travels: antiquing! Maybe not much of a compelling adventure for some people, but we
Iike it. Surprisingly, our kids have gotten pretty good and finding some treasures and picking out items that they know their mom and dad will probably like. They’re like our scouts who let us know where to look. Of course shopping is always better when you can finish it off with a meal at Five Guys Burgers and Fries.
Back at the campsite, we visited the hot springs pool and then completed the day with some s’mores and some frisbee. The next morning, it was time to leave and go back home. It was perfect timing for us because the camp was starting to overflow with Memorial Day crowds. We had officially started summer and it was time to go back home to Bend. This is turning out to be a busy summer, so we’ll see if we can figure out a way to take out the trailer again. Happy camping!
Just before Memorial Day we kicked off the summer with a road trip to the Eugene area. It’s a beautiful drive across the mountain pass with lots of gorgeous views of the forest and the McKenzie River. I hope that we never take this amazing scenery for granted.
On the first night we stopped at Belknap Springs campground to set up the trailer. Then it was on to Eugene meet up with some new friends. They have a great little farm with chickens, gardens, fields of hay, and lots of farm toys to ride around. Plus, their neighbors have a big field of Christmas trees. That’s Oregon for you. We enjoyed some delicious food and fun conversation. Of course, any meal that includes elk meatballs and homemade brownies is going to be a winner in my book!
After dinner, it was time to head back to the campsite. We hadn’t stayed in the trailer since last summer so we were enjoying getting to know all the nooks and crannies of the trailer again. We have certainly packed a lot of memories into that little space. This was definitely a great way to get the summer rolling!