Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sad news today.

Rick received a call from his parents today that his Grandma Raveling had passed away during her sleep. She has been in poor health for quite some time. It wasn't unexpected news. But we are of course still very sad.

We aren't sure if she really knew or remembered us on our most recent attempts to visit her, but she still had a presence to her. We were talking about her yesterday as we hung felt Snoopy Christmas ornaments on the tree that had been made by her. I haven't been a good historian of all the facts of her life. I gather that is what this coming week will entail. Hearing the stories and memories of her past by those that knew her and loved her. I hope to be able to share some of these. I will leave you with these, the first is a pictue of Grandpa Harold and Grandma Ethelyn sitting on the couch with either their son Don or Dale sitting with them. Oops, I knew I'd get something mixed up but Rick really wanted these posted right away. The first pictures are of Rick's GREAT Grandma and Grandpa, Minnie and John. Thank you for setting me straight! Notice the sock monkey sitting on the back of the sofa!

This next photo is of Grandpa Harold on a tractor on the farm in Valley City. Rick spent summers on the farm in North Dakota and has so many fond memories of his time there.

There are a few more that I will get some more info for and post later. This last one must have been on one of their trips. Thank you, Dale, for providing us with these photos. Rick's mom and dad are returning from a trip to visit Rick's brother and family in their new home in South Carolina. More later.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Our "turkey" day

The question of the day was really, just who was the bigger "turkey?" Its hard to believe a few short hours before this is what the scene looked like. Nolan was helping me Wednesday night, peeling potatoes. What a big help he was. And Colton did his part as well. Yes. A nap counts as help. And then they left for hockey practice. This is fantastic I thought to myself.

Two hours later they returned. Nolan had thrown up on the way home. He walked in the door and threw up. He went to lay down and well you get the idea. I went to bed too, my stomach itself churning at the thought of all the food to prepare in a few short hours.

I awoke to an excited voice. "Mom, get up, is the turkey done yet? I am starving." I looked at the clock. "Nolan, its 6 am, the turkey is NOT done. Let me sleep." "But mom, can I at turn on the tv and watch the parade?" "Nolan, its 6 am, the parade has not started yet. Sleep, please." Two minutes pass. I hear rustling and a crash in the kitchen. "Mom, I'll just paint the craft project while you sleep." "Nolan", now I am UP, "wait." As I enter the kitchen I see I am too late. Everything is indeed set up for the craft. The paint is not only open but spilled. And Nolan is on the floor in a heap bawling. "Mom, why does Thanksgiving have to take so long to start?" And so our day went.

My first official full Thanksgiving meal by all accounts was a success. The brined turkey in the roaster was the way to go. Mom's sweet potatoes and scalloped corn were tasty as always. The pioneer woman did not let me down!

But while there was no open alcohol bottles on our table, there was plenty of "whine" throughout the day. We still counted the kids as one of our blessings. We just waited til after they were in bed.

But the coup de grace of our Thanksgiving was Robin's advent treat kid's craft. Robin those last few photos are for you! It is our interpretation of your very clever and fun project. Mom and I each made one for my nieces and the boys each made their own. They worked so diligently on it. It really relaxed us all. And they were so proud when they were done. I have no doubt they will remember this Thanksgiving because of this very project. Thank-you Robin!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Odds and Ends.

I am a bit scattered this week. So is our internet service, as in one minute we have it and the next we don't. So we are waiting for the cableone guy to come to our house this afternoon. Rick only managed to download one photo for me to share because the internet kept timing out before it would download. So I have been frustrated and limited in my normal blog routines and yet somehow it has sorta worked in my favor. I have needed the time to get ready to put some fresh ideas into our Thanksgiving tradition this year.

Thanks to the recipes of The Pioneer Woman I am excited to try a few new dishes. Thanks to the extreme craftiness of my friend Robin we are going to attempt this cute advent craft for an activity on Turkey day. Thanks to my sweet friend Gitz who has shown me just how much I have to be thankful for every day, not just this week of Thanksgiving. She could also use a few extra prayers this week if you are so inclined.

And I found this little gem that I thought was truly the way I would sum up my thoughts this Thanksgiving. "If you don't get everything you want, think of the things you don't get that you don't want." I've never really thought of it this way... illness, tragedy, relationship woes, etc. What would you include on your list? Roxanne Henke shared this quote with her readers on her site. She is a christian fiction writer from the great state of North Dakota and if you have never read her books I would HIGHLY recommend them.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Just for fun

If you've ever noticed the sidebar button I have over there to the right you probably realize I have been following MckMomma's blog for some time now. For fun, she is doing a little contest to drive some more people over to her blog and all you have to do is post about her Small Fryday contest and link back to her. Please go here and consider joining the fun! (I'm not sure why its not appearing highlighted or underlined to me, but if you click the word "here" the link does work!)

In other news, Rick made it home safely last night!!! We've been catching him up to speed on all the big and little things that have taken place while he was gone. He got a big kick out of seeing images of his "safe" in custody at the Moorhead Police Department. Although the safe is at least hanging out in the open. The "suspects" are already behind bars! We'll update with details when we know anything further. And Rick got some more really great photos I'll have to share. In the meantime, we of course got home from the rink last night in time to go to bed so we could get up and go skate first thing this morning! Such is the life of a good hockey family. So good at living-the-hockey-lifestyle in fact, we may have some exciting news for next week!

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I haven't quite figured it out, but for some reason, I am "tested" whenever Rick is gone. Usually someone becomes sick. It shouldn't have come as a big surprise when the doorbell rang Monday night. But, it was 12:47 am, technically already Tuesday, I guess. And when I hesitated trying to stir myself from grogginess, it rang again. And then the pounding on the front door started and so did the pounding in my heart. I quickly reassured Nolan who had crawled in bed with me earlier and went to the front door. I saw the flashing lights as I flipped on the outside light which instantly illuminated a police officer. He asked if this was the residence of Robert Westra and was he my husband. No, I responded, with a quick sigh of relief. They must have the wrong house. But the officer wasn't turning to leave. He asked again. I shook my head no, that is not his name. He did take a small step back, and then asked, but is he a photographer? Oh shoot, I thought... my thoughts now beginning to race.

Yes I answered. His name is Rick, and I just talked to him and he is FINE. He is away on business. Yes, the officer replied. But his office has been broken into. OHHHHHHHHH.... crap. Not again.

Now this I understood. It was just weeks before that someone had broken in and taken a couple thousand dollars and an ipod from his office. I always thought the combination of those two items was telling of the robber. The officer asked if I could come with him. The place was a mess and what they needed to know was, what was missing. I quickly told him I was alone with the kids and that both Rick and his parents were traveling, no I couldn't leave. So we did the next best thing. He put me on his cell phone and I talked to the one of the officers there on the "scene." The robbers had apparently not only pried open one lock, but all three of the new locks installed on the doors. There were pictures taken off the walls, paper strewn everywhere, wires everywhere. But as the officer walked from room to room describing what he saw, the seemingly valuable things, were still there. We talked by phone several times that early morning. I called and woke Rick and in between talking to the officers, Rick and I talked.

Our conclusion? Really, the only thing missing? Was the SAFE. The now famous safe, I might add, made famous by the robbers who in their haste to get it out of the building, put it on an office chair and wheeled it out until they hit the slant in the sidewalk outside. It then hit the curb and flipped off the chair and crashed spilling the contents out into the street!!!

And here is where our luck began to change. Rick has gotten more savvy. While the safe did contain some memorabilia and family heirlooms, there was NO MONEY in the safe. In fact there was no money in the office. The next lucky part was all of the commotion that was created by the two men was heard by neighbors who then called into the police. And lastly, in an odd way, it is lucky that Rick was gone. Because he took all of his camera gear with him and didn't leave it behind in the office.

I had originally planned to keep this story to myself. But, to the delight of our children, the local news channel ran a story on the event. The boys in their excitement tried to call their father who was already being inundated with phone calls. Word has spread quickly.

The news reported that the burglary was "interrupted" by the fast thinking of "neighbors" who called police and reported they saw two men attempting to wheel the safe down the sidewalk. The pictures in the story, are of Rick's business, Remember When Printing and Publishing, and THE SAFE. This safe has been in Rick's family for many years. It has followed us as we've moved from house to house and office to office. Its a backbreaker of a safe and yet because Rick has such an attachment to it, it has always had a place in our home. Its actually pretty fitting that the safe was the feature of the story on the news. It has always been a "pain" for us to move and it turns out that was its saving grace in stopping the thieves!

Now when the officers relayed the sequence of events to me they had told me there was nobody at the scene when they arrived. They did however have suspects. There have been many other break-ins reported in the area of the office.

Late yesterday afternoon, Rick called with THE BIG NEWS! The police had brought the suspects in based on the fact there were now witnesses. And the young men had CONFESSED to the crime!!! They even admitted taking the money the first time. They also admitted to other crimes in the area!

Yea for the Moorhead Police Department! Yea for the tennants of our office building! Yea for the neighbors that called the police! And yes, yea for the safe!

Rick is on his way back from his business trip now. He will probably have to appear in court. We're anxious to see the details. The newspaper ran a short story today, but didn't yet have news of the arrests. I am sure there will be more to the story. But for now we've actually gotten a lot of closure. I hope this all made sense. I'm a little short on sleep, but I am breathing a big sigh of relief.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Idaho photos

Rick is traveling to Idaho to work with a couple of his schools this week. He emailed these to me last night. I just have to say the pictures don't even begin to capture the beauty of where we used to live. Breathtaking. As much as aspects of living in Idaho were hard to overcome, I never grew tired of the beauty of it all. My favorite wintertime activity was to go with Rick up into the mountains, snowshoeing with Dakota when she was just a pup. In traveling to Idaho from Minnesota you have to go through at least a portion of Yellowstone National Park on two of the routes you can take. The Big Sky, Montana route that Rick took is probably the trickiest driving by far but takes you past the ski resort and through the park and follows along the Gallatin River in Montana. We've seen buffalo, moose, elk, coyotes, and Rick one time saw a grizzly bear. Yesterday, I see it was geese on Henry's Fork which is a big fly-fishing haven not too far from Island Park and Ashton, Idaho.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Update to seeking input

**Update** The two emails I received were on completely the opposite ends of the spectrum! Ha, I should have known better. But I had a great talk with a friend tonight that gave me a fresh perspective and the possibility of some new ideas. I have to marinate in these thoughts and chew on them for awhile... we'll see how it plays out.

When I first started this blog, I thought it would just be a fun way to chronicle some of the things in our life as they happened. Over the course of the last 6 months or so a series of "firsts" have evolved. I grew comfortable sharing snippets of life with the family members I had shared a link with until one day I was left comments by two people who lived in my hometown and happened to stumble across our blog. I was so pleasantly surprised. I began to realize that while you wouldn't necessarily call some random person on the phone and ask how their day was going, it is perfectly acceptable to "click" on a link to someone else's blog and read. And if you are brave enough, or compelled to do so, leave a comment on something they have written. It was really nice to have that happen. In fact, not only is it okay in the blog world, it is rather ENCOURAGED. And I got to thinking, who might be reading my blog that I don't even know about? Turns out, with the help of a basic counter, more people than I imagined. Now I've also encountered the superbloggers, that have reached over a million hits and I assure you I am nowhere near that, nor do I desire to be.

But here is what I've been wondering. When you as a reader, go to someone's blog, what do you want to read? What do you want to know or learn? Or do you want to be entertained? Or inspired? What draws you to someone's writing/posting that keeps you wanting to go back over and over again? I would truly like to know your thoughts. Would you share your ideas with me?

I'll tell you why I ask. More and more I find myself asking is that post worthy? Does anyone really care if I post about that? Will anybody else see the humor in that? I admit I don't always post with "an audience" in mind. But for the last couple of days I have really struggled with being compelled to write anything at all. Please chime in! Whether I personally know you or not, everyone's thoughts matter to me.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Hockey Jamboree

It was our hockey jamboree this weekend. The boys are in two different levels. Colton, pictured here with his friend Sam, is a second year Rookie. He will skate with the canadians this year. The commitment of a parent with a rookie is really pretty basic. One hour of practice on Wednesdays and one game on the weekend, november through the end of March. For the jamboree this weekend they got to skate in two games.

It starts to get a little trickier the higher up in levels you go. Nolan is a second year Mite. He will skate with the blackhawks this year. He practices two days a week, Tuesdays, and Fridays. His games are on Saturdays and Sundays. For his jamboree he had three games this weekend. Next year they say is when we will get the true test of a hockey family, traveling, when Nolan moves up to squirts.

Every year the players and their coaches go through a "draft" to pick teams. There are about 8 teams of 12-14 kids per team at each level through squirts. The draft is used to ensure that the teams are pretty evenly divided. Then each team is assigned a color for their jersey. We won't even have their jerseys for another week. But Nolan was a little bummed that he was assigned to the white team again this year. What he really wanted was to be on the "black" team which has had a reputation for being really good each year for some odd reason. Well guess who got drafted to be on the black team? Colton. And Nolan's response? "Oh Colton, you're going to be REALLY good this year." The power of the black jersey I guess.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Birthday Duo.

You can't think of one and not think of the other. And while we have yet to fully acknowledge it, Rick's mom, Carole had her birthday yesterday. And after her 3 day stint of taking care of not only our house, but our spoiled dog and 2 children as well last week, we thought what she might really enjoy was a day to herself! HA HA! As well as I know her however, I am certain she was hard at work yesterday. And for some reason I am sorely lacking in any pictures of her. That seems to be part of the role she plays in our lives. Behind the scenes, supporting, encouraging, not drawing attention to herself, and yet her wonderful presence is strongly felt by us all.

As for the other half of the duo... it's Rick's birthday today. He as well will be hard at work today. I had previously decided that we would replace the ipod that was stolen from the office last month for his birthday. But when he saw one in Chicago last week at a significantly lower price, we got it on the spot. And I am always in awe of how he chooses to use it... not in the way you would perhaps think. He actually watches podcasts about a variety of technical tools and tips that he in turn teaches to his yearbook schools. He is a living example of being so passionate about his work that work is life and life is work, except that family is always first.

So Happy Birthday to my husband and our boy's father. To our hockey coach, baseball coach, golf coach and football coach. To our chief breadwinner, sports photographer, dog lover, shirt-off-your-back-giver, yearbook producer, "tech" mentor and business owner. To our "cheese man" and "rah rah" guy!

They say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. So, really to both of you, mother and son, we love you and all you do for us. The world is a better place because of the both of you! Happy Birthday!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My little slice of Oprah.

Its no secret. I abandoned soap operas just after college. But me and Oprah? We go way back. And I'm still devoted. Hopelessly. I used to dream about what earthshattering thing was going to happen in my life, you know, so I would be worthy of being on the show. And by earthshattering I don't mean tragic. I didn't want to cry... just you know, make her want to be my friend back! I even thought long and hard about what I would say to her. Think about it. If you were to meet your favorite "celebrity" on the street and had a chance to say something, what would you say? And as the words eluded me time and time again, my perspective began to shift. If you were to ask me today, I'd just as soon light my hair on fire than be asked to be on stage, in the spotlight or be the center of attention.

So I was oddly content to visit the outside of the studio last week. The audience had just been let out of an afternoon show. Will Smith had been her guest and by all accounts has an amazing movie due out soon. The atmosphere was joyful, energized, and fun to be around. I'll admit that my heart was pounding a bit at the mere thought that only a concrete wall separated ME from HER. And I would certainly not be against tickets to the show to be part of the audience, just so we're clear.

I also think I may have figured out what I would say to her. For the longest time there have been some MAJOR differences in our past. Her history was not my history, we were on opposite sides. But what I have come to realize, with the election of Obama as our President elect, MY future is HER future. In major ways, all the important ways, Oprah and I are closer together than ever! Now, if only she knew!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mr. Chen.

In a sports column from this summer, Mike McFeely, a sports columnist with the Fargo Forum newspaper, reported being somewhat skeptical that the elusive Mr. Chen even exists. Rick and I got a big laugh out of this. Indulge me another long story.

Mr. Chen is a sports enthusiast, financier/entrepreneur, that at one time owned a CBA basketball team called "The Fever", here in neighboring Fargo, ND. But he was a quiet man. A smart and humble man that didn't like the spotlight. He'd quietly fly in, make arrangements, and leave. He was as behind the scenes as you can get. And yet he was passionate about the sports world. And for some reason, Rick, being all of 21 years old, heard that Mr. Chen was also a baseball guy, and one day Rick, came in contact with Mr. Chen and shared with him an idea he had for bringing minor league baseball to the FM area. It turned out to be not the right time, and Moorhead wasn't the place. (Years later, with a whole different cast of people, we now have the FM Redhawks).

But a conversation had been started. To this day, we don't know what the spark of interest was. Yes, Rick and I both worked for Mr. Chen's team, the Fargo Fever which made a go of it for a few years. But basketball wasn't the main connection. Rick and Mr. Chen talked on the phone many times sharing ideas and stories and memories of baseball. And again, on a whim, Mr. Chen extended an invitation to Rick and I to come and "visit Chicago." We were young, eager, hungry for adventure, and in conversation one day Rick told him we would take him up on his offer and we would come to Chicago.

Did I mention we were Naive? We arrived in Chicago and called Mr. Chen at dinner time. He invited us to meet him at his house before dinner. I recall there was a huge amount of some kind of construction going on at one end of the road that he lived on and he warned us about. We made our way around and found the correct address. The houses were somewhat secluded from the road and set way back on the property. We found his house and were welcomed inside. As he was on the phone we chatted with his wife and were ushered into the family room. I noticed the slot machine collection at about the same time Mrs. Chen asked if the Jordan's construction site had posed a problem for us. We said no without reading much into it.

As Mr. Chen got off the phone he grinned when he saw us admiring the slot machines. Apparently he was a Las Vegas fan as well. The machines were real. And they were dripping with quarters. He urged us to play... but I was too busy trying to compose the thoughts of my whirling brain. Dinner plans were made and he offered to drive. We were ushered into his SAAB and off we went. His wife reminded him to avoid the construction, and Mr. Chen laughed. He shared with us that Mrs. Jordan was adding on to the house and it was a good thing that Michael had purchased the lot on the end with enough room. (Did you catch that? Yes, as in Michael Jordan. As in Air Jordan. ) My whirling brain was in high gear by now. But it paused long enough for him to share with us that he lived in the "perfect" area. "To the right his neighbor was Phil Jackson, coach of the Chicago Bulls, and to the left of him was Mike Ditka, coach of the Chicago Bears." Now he said this, not to impress, really, but truly, wasn't it the perfect place for a sports enthusiast to live, sandwiched in between these iconic sports figures?

The rest of the weekend unfolded in a blur of activity and a complete unveiling of just who this mysterious, humble, quiet man was. He seemed to take great delight in showing us around. There was pride in everything, but he was not boastful in any way. For the unimaginable wealth he possessed, he was a really down to earth warm person. The next day we toured one of his bars, Sluggers. He was having so much fun, he insisted we try the new thing they were all doing at the bar... I kid you not. There we were, at 11:00 in the morning doing Jello shots with Mr. Chen! Speaking of whirling. Anyhow, next on the agenda was the creme De la creme of our plans... tickets to watch the Cubs play at Wrigley Field. Mr. Chen was a season ticket holder, 7Th row up from the dugout. (He even gave us the tickets for the next game and said we could scalp them and pay for our trip, but we were hooked on the Cubbies.)

After the game, two tall beers and a hot dog later, he took us for, what else? Chinese food! As he is generously ordering the food and plate upon plate begins to arrive, he excuses himself to the restroom. The waiter comes to us to ask if everything is to our liking. Yes we respond. Good he says, he wouldn't want to disappoint the restaurant owner's guests. I think its safe to say I was officially spinning by now. On our way back from the restaurant Mr. Chen shows us the last little part of his Chicago. Driving along the "Magnificent Mile" he points out skyscraper after skyscraper that he has "collected" over the years.

This is what I make of the whole surreal experience. Mr. Chen was a generous man. He came from humble beginnings. He saw something in a young man he connected with. He took a chance too, in extending himself. He asked for nothing in return. He just seem to delight in showing two young and impressionable kids that dreams can become reality. Even big ones.

I process things slowly sometimes. It hit me the other day. Perhaps, giving to Lake View Academy the other day, was really a full circle moment. We were simply given an opportunity to pay back an old debt to a guy who had at one time taken a chance on us when we were young and impressionable. What comes around, goes around. Sometimes its years in the making. But you really never know how what you do today will affect someones life in the future.

One last thing, Mr. McFeely, have I got a story for you!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Yearbook lessons

Day two in Chicago. Long post but here goes... I just feel they deserve for you to know about them.

I've travelled with Rick for business many times. We never know for certain just who or what we are going to discover when we walk through the door of a new "school." When Lakeview Academy first contacted Rick and said they were in Chicago, we had conjured up images of metal detectors and crime-ridden streets. When we arrived I would say the area was not overtly an unsafe area and yet it was run-down and spoke to the harsh reality of urban city life. Lake View Academy is housed on the top floor of an older Presbyterian Church. Its an alternative school. There are 16 students and we met 3 of the staff. Did I mention its old? The wooden stairs and floors creaked as we walked. The furniture was mismatched and looked like cast-off remnants from a previous life. We sat in nervous anticipation taking it all in and secretly questioning how a school such as this was going to publish a yearbook. The numbers were not encouraging already.

But I think its safe to say we were smitten right off the bat. We sat down in a roundtable format and they shared with us what they saw in Rick's website and what they wanted for their book. And they wanted a lot. But here is what I was struck by. First of all, they researched all by themselves to find a company that fit what they wanted. Then one of the girls boldly called and talked with Rick. They would have been fine not even meeting with us when they realized how far away we were. They could have shopped around, I mean its CHICAGO afterall. But they persisted and Rick seemed curious and willing to see.

Now in most schools the Yearbook advisor is in charge and dictates quite a bit. Not here. The girls were given the latitude to decide. They were passionate, decisive, smart, organized and appreciative. They were taking charge of their education. They were fundraising to build their meager budget. And they were humble. They thanked us over and over again. They were "wowed" with the yearbook samples we had brought with us. And we were being "wowed" right back. Now, in the business world, numbers and dollars are at the core of every transaction. I could tell as they made their wish list, the numbers were not adding up in our favor but I didn't see Rick flinch or back down or even try to dissuade them, he just kept giving. Then we discovered they had used an antiquated publishing program to complete their first book the year before. They wanted more options, they wanted to learn more and see more in their book. They were hungry to learn. To do all of this new stuff the software they would need would cost around $600.00. Instead, I heard Rick offer a solution. They could purchase a modified version for less dollars. The girls thought they could raise that. As they sat pondering the extra work they would do to raise enough money I witnessed something change in Rick. I knew he knew. The only answer. We would buy the software and donate it to them.

The numbers are now so not in our favor we will lose money on this account. And its the first time I think, it put smiles on our faces knowing this. It just didn't matter. It wasn't about the numbers afterall. When we were leaving the girls were beaming. When they presented our agreement to their principal we overheard them say, "we knew they were the right ones for us, we just knew in our hearts." It turns out they were exactly right for us to.

Can I just say when you give it away it always comes back to you in another way. You have to watch for it. But if you pay attention it will sneak up on you.

We had difficulty figuring out the parking at the hotel... it required several steps we weren't used to. We were joking with the front desk people about it when we checked out. They comped our parking, on the spot as we were protesting they didn't have to. On our way home we stopped for food. It was late but we found a KFC that was open... I really just wanted a snack, something sweet maybe, but chicken would do. As we sat waiting , the drive-thru window opened and the gal asked "we were just going to throw these oatmeal cookies away, would you like to have them?" I just have to say they were some of the best oatmeal raisin cookies I've eaten in awhile.

So, I've been thinking, what do you have to put out there, to give, to share? What might be waiting for you when you do?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Glimpse of Chicago

Part of the reason our time in Chicago was so limited was because of the distractions we indulged in along the way! While we have visited the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN, many times, we have always had kids in tow. And its a great place to spend time with the kids, but I assure you very little shopping occurs. So we managed to spend a few hours just looking at all the fun stores we so often have to walk right past. (Just a side note here, I may not be getting a kitchen remodel, but Rick did finally show me how to post a link!!) So please check this out if you'd like to know more about the Mall:
Mall of America Fun Facts

We finally arrived at the new Intercontinental Hotel just off O'Hare airport at 10:30 pm. Thank you hotwire for finding this ultra modern brand new 4 1/2 star hotel for the mere price of $99. We've paid more for a Super Eight in the past! Add in the fact that we only spent 38 dollars in gas because we drove the Prius you will understand why we decided we could afford to go. The hotel in keeping with its modern "theme" had all kinds of artwork displayed all over the lobby and the convention center. It had a museum quality feel to it and we spent a lot of time just going through it all.

We awoke day two to rain, lots of it! It somewhat altered the course of our plans hence the lack of pictures. But I think I'll jump ahead to day three in order to share with you what we awoke to.

Its a little misleading as the sun was actually streaming through the window. However, Rick ( the professional photog) adjusted his settings on his camera to make the skyline go black as well as the plane coming in. He was so excited he continued to shoot for a long time as plane after plane descended upon us. However, the clouds were rolling in already as you can see here in the two photos I took.

So we quickly packed up the car and headed for Lake Michigan and the beach. Chicago definitely lived up to its billing of the windy city and gosh was it cold as you can see in these next photos.

On our way out of town from here we passed by Grant Park where Obama gave his acceptance speech. We also drove past Hyde Park and discovered that is where Obama resides with his family. I only wish we could have taken a little more time to stop in a few of these places and take more photos. But sometimes its enough to just be in the environment and take it all in. More to come...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Show and Tell Preview

We arrived home from Chicago a little after 1 am. The last hour and a half was nothing short of "white knuckle" driving through the wind, blinding snow, and ICY roads. We saw our share of accidents yesterday. Can I just say how extremely thankful I am for Rick's amazing driving ability? No matter which way we were skidding he managed to steer us back into our lane without getting too rattled. We even saw an ambulance that had rolled over into the ditch and was a mass of shattered glass, bent and twisted metal surrounded by "liquid" I am assuming was medicinal in nature and flashing twirling lights eerily enough coming from the now empty ambulance.

I also awoke with a sore shoulder/neck from sitting and bracing myself so much last night every time the car would skid and slide. And along with that is an odd vibrational hum I feel within myself. It could be remnants left over from the frenetic energy of Chicago. The people of Chicago are riding an especially high wave of enthusiasm and pride expressed in banners and signs and billboards with the proclamation "Chicago's own Obama." Or it could just be how "alive" I begin to feel when my senses have been flooded and overwhelmed with new sights, lights, smells, tastes, sounds and new experiences coming at me in a non-stop stream like a dream-sequence, only it was real.

It'll take a little while for me to decompress and sort out all that I have to share. For once I have to admit I am short on pictures. In hindsight between the rain and the sheer amount of walking we did my point and shoot camera may have been a better choice of camera although I was hoping for more practice in shooting the Nikon.

So look forward to these future posts... the whole reason we even took this trip was to sign a new school yearbook account. We went to sign a contract and left with melted hearts and more. And the walk down memory lane when we visited Wrigley Field for the second time. Its the first time we went that is a BIG story. Can't wait to share about the newly discovered artist that we were so inspired by... his work is a real hoot while really having a great message as well! And lastly, my little slice of Oprah... nope didn't see or meet her, but we did go to Harpo, you know, just because. Stay tuned... And by the way, I missed you all! The joy of coming home was to see my kids, my dog, our family, and then to get caught up on everything in your world! I am finding I am attached to my blog friends and somehow coming home includes coming back to all of you!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What's on your agenda?

I thought I would just post something quick on this frenetic day. I was delighted to see such a good turnout at the church our neighborhood votes at. Even our kids are well aware of how historic this day will be. Its one I hope they will remember. They each told us who they would vote for and its obvious to me their daddy has done a better job discussing the issues with them than I have! But I told them I'll get better at it before they get to voting age!

I've been taking pictures again. I was playing with the camera as Colton sat doing his "homework." But he is so well trained as hard as I tried I could not get a profile shot. So I gave up and engaged in his game of turning to smile whenever he sensed the lens in his direction. I'd point and he'd pivot and laugh... and then I got him! It wasn't my purpose, but it turned into a memorable moment because I let go of my agenda and had fun in the moment and was rewarded with this photo of him. It leads me to the question "how much do we miss when we are too focused on our own agenda?" I will let you ponder this thought and leave you with this image as I head off to Chicago with Rick.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


You may notice a new button in my sidebar. I have followed the story of MckMama for a long time now. Wednesday, October 29th, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy named Stellan who at one time they were told may never survive outside the womb. She has shared the pain and sorrow as well as the joy of this journey with an unwavering courage and deeply abiding faith. When she posted a picture asking for a caption my heart answered even before my head... the caption I offered was this... Mckmiracle. However, I wasn't the first to suggest it, or the last... several more followed and Mckmama agreed it was one of her favorites. I think it is one of those stories that will stay with me for a long time.

And here is another story that will stay with me for a long time, especially after today. After church today we decided to go out to eat. The boys were so well-behaved at church and we were just enjoying being with them. After we ate Nolan discovered a dollar he had in his pocket and had to stick it in a vending machine in the entrance. His selection? Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies. Rick and I groaned almost simultaneously. When we had first moved back to Minnesota from Idaho, Nolan came home from Preschool one day with some of these cookies. I helped myself having never tried them before. Within about 20 minutes of eating them I noticed big red splotches appearing on my arm, and then my neck, my stomach, me back... etc. I called ask-a-nurse who recommended benadryl since hives were the only symptom I had. However as we were talking the strangest thing happened, my lips started to tingle. She quickly went on to say that in bold face on her instruction card it said I was to go immediately to the ER. Rick quickly summoned our neighbors whom we had only met the week before and handed the kids over to them and rushed me away. By the time I got to the ER they took my pulse and listened to my heart in the reception area and instantly the tech yelled "She's tachy, get her back their STAT. The doors flew open and let me tell you the next few minutes were a blur. Needles got shoved in, I was given oxygen. They warned me they may have to intubate. For some reason I was relatively calm. I ended up in Intensive care on the cardiac floor of the hospital. They simply could not get the reaction to quit. Every time they stopped the eppy and the benadryl, my throat began to swell. I spent two days in ICU and after being given mega doses of a variety of drugs, I finally came around.

So after we were finished telling the boys about mommy having to be in the hospital and being very sick from the cookies, Nolan looks at me in all seriousness and says "But, mommy, just tell me... DID YOU LIVE?????" You could have scraped me up off the floor!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween script

After 8 years of Halloweens with Nolan, we've finally figured out he has a "script" for it. Ironically, his first Halloween was probably the smoothest although we as young parents just didn't know it yet. He was a pumpkin his first Halloween and due to the time change by the time it got dark outside and trick-or-treaters started coming to our door, he fell ASLEEP and promptly missed the whole thing. We were so disappointed. By the next Halloween I was newly pregnant with Colton and in the throes of "morning" sickness which came and didn't leave until I went to bed and promptly became known as all-day sickness in my world. We decide on an impromptu visit to Minnesota and my sister-in-law, Missy loaned us a fuzzy lion costume for Nolan. And act like a lion he did! He clawed at it trying to get it off. He howled and whimpered and finally roared until we took it off. I recall the pathetic looking picture we managed to get of one worn out nauseous mom struggling to hold her little lion cub and in the meantime throwing up prayers for the next baby to be a girl! Princesses don't roar, do they?

And so the saga began. The next year Nolan decided on a buzz light year costume and Missy came to the rescue again providing a tricked out buzz costume. And although we practiced every day for a week trying it on and getting used to it come Halloween night our little buzz never saw the light of day let alone the outside of our house.

I stopped being able to remember exactly which year we finally made it at least around the block once but not without at least one complete meltdown before we got outside of the house. And so each year there has been progress. When Colton came along he may not have been the "girl" that I had hoped for, but he was the sweet, flexible, easier temperament that has been a breath of fresh air for us all. And he helped smooth the way. He was the one not afraid to go up and ring the doorbell as Nolan cowered behind him. Little brother led the way and slowly big brother gained in courage.

And as for mom and dad? Well we have grown some very thick skin and a sense of humor which was needed last night...again. Nolan was in perfect form. He was ready in his costume by 5:05 pm and couldn't understand why we declined to take him just yet. We finally told him he had to wait for the universal signal, the outside lights on the house had to come on... and he just couldn't take it any more. He went in the house and took off his costume and proclaimed Halloween OVER. But much to his dismay, mom and dad have now been around the block a time or two and only stood outside laughing in an all knowing fashion.

The few photos I snapped say it all. We knew better than to try and force too much. So I snapped a couple of Nolan in an appropriate Darth Vader costume, taking some of his aggression out with a ball and his hockey stick. And Colton, completely oblivious to the shenanigans of his brother, was gleefully happy in his green power ranger costume and without any prompting leapt for joy when the camera was pointed his way. They have such different ways of being in this world. I would say one is a little bit more of a "trick" and the other is a little bit more of a "treat" and it takes the two of them to make our Westra World complete.

When you get lucky

When you get lucky

Popular Posts - MN Weather, Map, Businesses and Blogs
Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape