Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Graeson's 8th Birthday

Well, I'm only a year behind on family videos.....but this is actually progress!  Here's a video of Graeson's 8th birthday.....Nerf gun wars and donuts on a string.  Tons of fun!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Maezie Singing

This video is from over a year ago (I'm behind on usual) but it's so stinking cute, it just had to be posted!  Enjoy!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Williams Changes

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. "  Ecclesiastes 3:1

The Williams family has some changes ahead!  I (Jill) have accepted a new job at a brand new start-up hospice.  The good news:  this is a fabulous opportunity and will really utilize the experience, skills, and talents I have as a hospice leader.  This hospice will be under the umbrella of Providence Health System, which is a large health care company, and one of the few remaining non-profit systems.  This particular branch already has its own home health, nursing home, assisted living.....and now they want a hospice too.  So they need someone like me to get it started!  The bad news:  it's in Mount Angel, just northeast of Salem.  Since this new location is just under three hours away, daily commuting isn't means moving again.  (Click here to recap when we did this same thing two and a half years ago.)

This is a bittersweet decision for us.  Some of you may know, my current job has been two and a half long years of difficulties and frustrations.  I won't go into detail, and I'm sure some of my co-workers might be reading this, but we've prayed A LOT over which decisions to make, and God has opened the door to this new opportunity.  We are sad to be moving, but excited about this job opportunity.  Bryan and I feel it would be best for me to move first, get an apartment, and come home on the weekends.  Then we'll move the rest of the family next spring after school is out.  This will give us/me a chance to get the lay of the land, schools, housing, churches, etc, so we can make decisions gradually instead of in a hurry.  Of course, a temporarily separated family is not ideal, but we feel moving in a mad rush, in the middle of the school year, is even less ideal.

So we have some prayer needs!
  • Tangible needs:  full or queen bed, bunk beds, couch or futon, table and chairs, and miscellaneous kitchen items.
  • Financial needs:  pray that we will be wise stewards as we pay for an apartment as well as gas every weekend, and just the multiple unexpected costs that come with moving.
  • Moving needs:  all the various coordination--both now and in six months--and being frugal with what we actually need vs what we think we need.
  • Safety needs:  we will likely alternate weekends--Jill comes home one weekend, Bryan and kids come to visit the next weekend--and that means traveling over a mountain pass during the winter months.
  • Emotional needs:  Bryan as a single-parent at home with the kids, and Jill by herself away from the family.  We plan to Skype a lot!
  • Adjustment needs:  We just did this whole moving-job-change thing two and a half years ago, and no matter how exciting the occasion, it's still hard to uproot the family and start new again.  We love Bend, and we know we will love our new town too, but change is still hard.
I officially start December 3 but we know from experience it will be a whirlwind over the next month.  We are looking forward to a long-ago-planned vacation over Thanksgiving week, before our lives enter a chaotic six months.  I pray for those military families whose family separations are WAY WORSE than ours.  God bless you for your sacrifice.

"There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work."  1 Corinthians 12:6

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Raising A Boy-Jock

Over the past couple of years, Graeson--age 8--is becoming more involved in "boy-ness" especially athletics.  He and Daddy watch the high school football games together, they practice taekwondo together, and Daddy is coaching Graeson's flag football team.  Graeson has his life all planned out:  he's going to play high school football for Mountain View Cougars, then he's going to play college football for Oregon State Beavers, then he's going to play NFL football for the New York Giants.

While his sisters spend time deciding what to wear and how to do their hair, Graeson is a get-up-and-go kind of guy.  If his mother would allow it, he'd wear the same Beaver jersey and shorts to school every day.  (And why not?  That's what Dad wears everyday!)  He has several different Beaver shirts--enough for several days of the week.  In fact, when he draws pictures of his family or of himself doing something--he draws himself in the Beaver shirt.

Here's a snapshot of recent conversations......

Sorting clothes in his closet
Mom:  You have all these nice collar shirts in the back of your closet, why don't you wear them?
Graeson:  I do wear them!
Mom:  Oh really?  When was the last time?
Graeson:  Duh, EASTER!

First day of school
Mom:  What are you planning to wear for the first day of school?
Graeson:  (blank look of I-don't-get-what-you're-asking)
Mom:  I want you to look nice on the first day of school, after that you can wear your Beaver jersey.
Graeson:  But.....why?!
Mom:  So I can get mom-points with your teacher and she'll know your mom made you dress up on the first day.
Graeson:  But I won't be able to play football at recess.
Mom:  You can still play football in a nice shirt, and besides, all your friends' moms will make them dress up too.
Graeson:  (suspicious look of are-you-trying-to-trick me)
*After we got his stuff put away in his new class, he spotted his buddies in the hall--he literally raced out the door and they all piled on top of each other like puppies!*

Another day at school
*Girls keep walking by saying Hiiiiiii Graaaaaaaaeeeson!*
Mom:  You sure have a lot of girls who say hi to you.
Graeson:  (matter-of-fact voice) Oh yeah, lots of girls have a crush on me.
Mom:  Oh really?!  Why do you think they like you?  It must be your blue eyes and cute freckles.
Graeson: (totally serious voice) Oh no, I'm sure it's because I'm really good at football.  That's why the girls like me so much.

Picture day at school
Mom:  I don't want you to wear your Beaver shirt for picture day, you have to wear a collar know, the Easter shirts.
Graeson:  But I like my Beaver shirt!
Mom:  I already look at that shirt every day, I don't need to look at it in your picture too.
Graeson:  (picks out a nice plaid shirt)  Can I wear shorts?
Mom:  No, it's 40 degrees outside, you have to wear pants.  What about all those jeans?  You like jeans.
Graeson:  They're all too small.  All of them.
Mom:  (retrieving the too-big-clothes from the box in the closet.....but those pants literally fall right off.  Um, still too big.)
Graeson:  I'll just wear my football pants. (warm-up type exercise pants)
Mom:  No, you can't wear football pants with a collar shirt, it doesn't go together.
Graeson:  The plaid shirt is green, and I can wear the red football pants with the white stripe--that matches!
Mom:  Um, never mind.  Wear the black football pants--I guess the picture will only show your top half anyway!

Then I asked him to practice his picture day smile.....this is what I got:

Sunday, September 15, 2013

I Survived.....The First Week of School

My last blog post drew a wild and crazy picture of how much zig-zagging will be happening in the Williams house, just to get everyone where they need to go.  I'm happy to say, God provided a fabulous car, perfect for our family, which met all of our requirements including budget!  And on the first day of car shopping!  Bryan calls it his "company car" as a bonus from his boss. (wink!)  I, on the other hand, now have to drive myself to work, which means no more handsome chauffeur with curbside service straight to the front door. (Insert pitiful violin music....)

oops--this car came with an extra kid in the back!

So now that that's off the checklist, the first week of school should be smooth sailing, right?  Um, I think our sailboat has some kind of hole in the sail.....

Chaos of Conflicting Schedules day one:  Bryan-Graeson go to football practice, Kaela-Maezie stay home until I get off work.  Bryan had dinner in the oven, which Kaela successfully took out, but for some reason it didn't occur to her nor Maezie to EAT dinner.  I ended up working late, so by the time I got home, dinner was cold, we all ate late, and went to bed late too.

Chaos of Conflicting Schedules day two:  taekwondo-gymnastics-play practice ALL at the same time, followed by Mom-Graeson-Maezie then head to elementary open house, Dad picks up Kaela from play practice but they don't make it to open house.  We all eat late (leftovers it is!), we all go to bed late.  (Future blog:  pondering whether open house is worth it and pondering not going next year....)

Chaos of Conflicting Schedules day three:  Kaela goes to play practice, which means Maezie goes with Bryan-Graeson to football practice.  I get off work and pick Maezie up (while football practice continues) then to the theater to pick Kaela up.  But...Bryan forgot that was part of the plan and when practice was over and she was GONE, he panicked.  I didn't answer my phone in another room across the house (panic increases), he finally reached Kaela on her phone to find out we were all safely at home.  Oops--mom and dad will learn to communicate better which-kid-is-where.

Chaos of Conflicting Schedules day four:  Kaela leaves for school at 7:20am, gets home at 7:20pm...dinner is sandwich in the car between play practice and middle school open house, homework late, shower late (um, has anyone in this house showered at all this week??), an entire hour late for bed.  More pondering as to whether open house serves any purpose....

Chaos of Conflicting Schedules day five:  Graeson wakes up on the WRONG side of the bed, Maezie is freaking out because we haven't been able to get her required reading minutes in, and Kaela is coming down with a head cold and cough.  Mom and Dad have a weekly date at Starbucks (trust me, it's necessary for marriage survival!) and this mama is going to need a triple shot to make it through the day.  Only one kid has to be at after-school activity, so Friday Family Night is movies at home with popcorn in pajamas.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

I Love/Hate Fall

Normally, I love Fall!  It's really my favorite time of year.  (See past blog posts:  October Fun 2012, Fall is the Best Time of Year 2009)  I love the crisp air, the leaves turning colors, kids back in school......and my favorite thing:  pumpkin spice lattes!  And even though I detest football, Bryan is a very happy boy during Fall football season, especially when the Beavers are on. 

And normally one of the things that's attractive about Fall is getting back into a normal routine and a regular family schedule.

Oh but not this year.

This year we are making the leap to middle school (gasp), which means a whole different schedule.  In our school district, middle school starts/ends a full hour and fifteen minutes before elementary school.  This is not fun for parents of multiple ages.  So we're dealing with the dilemma of do we have Kaela ride the bus (less driving for us, but a full 30 minutes earlier for her) or do we drive her (doesn't have to get up at the crack of dawn, but that makes FOUR trips to the school every day.)  We only live 2.5 miles from the school, so it's not actually a big deal--but it's just the zig zag factor of driving back and forth.  Four times.  And the interrupted/staggered will that work exactly?

Then there's the after-school activities:  Kaela has play practice four days a week.  Graeson has taekwondo twice a week, plus football practice twice a week, and football games once a week.  Maezie has gymnastics once a week.  Bryan and Kaela have youth group once a week.  Graeson and Maezie have swim lessons once a week.  (My head is swimming, that's for sure....)

So the morning routine will look something like this:  Bryan takes Kaela to school, Jill gets Graeson and Maezie out of bed and five minutes of morning cuddles, Bryan-Graeson-Maezie take Jill to work, go back home and get ready for school, Bryan takes Graeson-Maezie to school. 

Trip count:  3 trips, 13 miles, 45 total minutes driving.

Then there's mid-day:  Bryan picks up Jill for lunch at home, back to work an hour later.  Consideration has gone into is it necessary to come home for lunch, but--it's only 1.5 miles so why not?  Besides, who wants to eat lunch at work?!

Trip count:  2 trips, 6 miles, 15 total minutes driving.

And then (deep breath) there's the afternoons.  Get your roller skates on.  Mondays:  Pick up Kaela from school, pick up Graeson-Maezie from school, football practice....but at the same time Jill needs to get off work (which I might add, is highly unpredictable)--uh oh, schedule conflict number one.  So I either have to get off work an hour early (not something that can be counted on) or I have to stay two hours late until 7pm (not fond of that idea.)

Trip count:  4 trips, 15 miles, not sure how this is going to work....

Tuesdays:  Maezie gymnastics, Graeson taekwondo (mercifully they are both at the same place AND the same time), Kaela play practice (a different location), back to pick up Maezie, pick up Jill from work, Jill-Maezie eat dinner, Bryan goes back to pick up Kaela then Graeson, Bryan-Kaela-Graeson eat dinner.  This we can actually manage without a schedule conflict!

Trip count: 6 trips, 20 miles, 70 total minutes driving.

Wednesdays:  Kaela play practice, Graeson football practice.....uh oh, again at the same time Jill is getting off work--another schedule conflict, what to do?  Kaela gets done with play practice, but Bryan-Graeson are still at football practice and no one has come to pick up Jill.....Kaela is stranded, Jill is stranded, who knows where Maezie is.....  Even if the magic genie got us all where we needed to be, as soon as we get home Bryan-Kaela leave for youth group.  Dinner?  What dinner?

Trip count:  does anyone have a calculator?

Let's not EVEN go there for the remainder of the week.....I assure you it's more of the same!  But just for fun, let's fast-forward to Sundays.  We had (had!) a nice little plan of attending church as a family, then helping in kids ministry second service, then having a lunch-time Bible study at our house after church.  Bend Parks and Rec apparently did not get this memo:  all football games are scheduled on Sundays, ranging in schedules from 10:30 to 3:00.  So this means either Kaela-Maezie-Mom have to stay at church, stranded, long after everyone else has left.....or some of us don't go....or none of us go.....and did I mention the football games are CLEAR ACROSS TOWN!?  And this really messes up our lunch group plans too......

For 7 years now, we have been a one-car-family, and we have intentionally made sacrifices and inconveniences to maintain this commitment.  We've always known this day will come when kid schedules collide with the overall family schedule.....but honestly I didn't really think that time would come until high school.  But--WHAM! that time is now:  we have come to the reality that it is physically impossible to continue the one-car-family plan.  We've looked at the schedule ain't. gonna. happen.

We'll be car shopping in a hurry.  And we're praying we find a good one (translation: cheap, reliable, gas-saver) in the next 11 days before the Chaos of Conflicting Schedules begins. 

Ready, set, go.....!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Blog? What blog?

So it's been a while since the last blog post.....personally, I blame Facebook, since I can post short updates/photos without much energy at all.  But alas, here's the catch-up on the Williams family this summer.

The beginning of summer means the end of school, and this year was particularly end-ful as Kaela is officially leaving elementary school!  She's on to middle school next year, and this brings a little sniffle to mama.  Kaela's 5th grade class went on an overnight field trip to the Evergreen Air & Space Museum in McMinnville, which included a stop in Salem at the state capitol building.  Mom was a chaperone, which meant sleeping overnight on the museum floor.  The following week we attended an informal graduation ceremony in the gym, and the 1st graders made special hats for each of the graduating 5th graders.  Later on in June, we celebrated Kaela's half-birthday which makes her 11 and a half now!

3D IMAX movie at the overnight field trip
Dad, Kaela, & Mom at 5th grade graduation
Half-birthday slumber party

4th of July is always fun, and especially in Bend where they have a big festival with tons of fun for kids.  Then we got to stay up late and watch the fireworks.  5 year old Maezie HATES FIREWORKS!  She has fears and anxieties with loud noises and fires, so she watched from inside the living room window.  Graeson played summer baseball which was great for him and no cold weather for parents to sit through!  Graeson also continues to excel in taekwondo, and is on the Demo Team for performances.  Kaela enjoyed acting in another play, this time a summer workshop where they focused on several one-act plays.  One character she played was Thisbe (from Shakespeare) where she even got to stab herself in full dramatic flare! The end of July brought us to the Sharp family reunion (Jill's side of the family) where we had tons of fun with cousins, aunts/uncles, grandparents, and our favorite GG.
Maezie the flag girl

Batter up!

Graeson is a High Red belt in taekwondo

Kaela in her most dramatic moment

Jill's mom (Nana), Jill's grandma (GG), and the Williams women

August is just beginning, but already we've had some fun times! This past weekend, Graeson and Bryan went camping for Taekwondo Camp, and we girls stayed home and had our own fun.  We stayed up late watching movies and eating caramel corn; the next day we went to the park and had free lunch for kids then crafts in the park.  We met a friend at a big water park--swimming in the pools, floating the "lazy river", and careening down water slides.  We also did some school clothes shopping (which is way more fun with no boys!)  Meanwhile, Graeson was learning how to use nun-chucks, swords, and other martial arts; he also was taking late night canoe rides, and playing and playing and playing with the other boys!  We girls were SURE we were having more fun than the boys......and the boys were SURE they were having more fun than the girls.

Movies and caramel corn

Trying on school clothes

Can you find Graeson?


Monday, April 29, 2013

Maezie's Farm Program

Kindergarten is such a fun age!  Here's Maezie in her spring program at school.  (You'll need to pause the blog music player to the right of this post.)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Backstage Mom

This past year, Kaela decided to leave the world of gymnastics and enter the world of theater.  We weren't sure how our "quiet Kaela" would do on stage, but we soon found out she transformed into a confident actress who can actually speak loudly!  Her first play was "Honk!" a musical which included speaking, singing, dancing, costume changes, and a lot of coordination.  Kaela's main part was Penny the Swan who helps Ugly (the ugly duckling) to realize he is indeed a swan.  She also played multiple other parts throughout the production.  The first time we saw her in action I almost didn't recognize her--she was totally confident, no stage fright whatsoever....and she was clearly in love with acting.  I had a lump in my throat at how much older she looked in stage makeup and grown-up costumes--and how she just oozed confidence. 

Various moms had been helping during dress rehearsals, and I was signed up for the actual performances.  But the first night I was backstage, Kaela kept trying to usher me out--she wanted another mom to do her hair, and one of the older girls to do her makeup, and she kept asking when I was going to go sit in the audience.  I finally asked her "Don't you need me to help you?"  Guess what the answer was?  "No mom, I'm fine. I know just what to do."  So I focused on one of the younger actresses while still using my mother-one-eye-technique to watch her in secret and observe her being independent, and confident, and mature, and.....grown-up. 

Sigh. My little girl doesn't need me. Make that a sniff, not just a sigh.

The dressing room lights went down, the stage lights went up, the music came on.....and out she went, smiling with that oozing confidence again.  As the performance went on--and she finally realized I wasn't going to do anything to screw up her routine!--she would sit on my lap backstage, and whisper to me which scene was coming next, and ask me if her hair looked alright before she went on.  Then the next night, she wanted me to do her hair and help with her costume and do her makeup.  And she asked if I could work backstage for the next performance also, and all of the upcoming performances too.

Little did Kaela know, I signed up for backstage help so I could directly observe--and shield from, if necessary--what my daughter was being exposed to in this new theatrical world.  Oftentimes, the green room games amongst the older teenagers would be "Truth or Dare" or "Would You Rather".  There were also pre-performance "Energy Circle" activities intended to get all the actors and actresses focused for the performance. There was one teenager who repeatedly made sure everyone knew he was an atheist.  As parents, we try to protect our children from unwanted influences--but at the same time we recognize that we can't be with them every minute.  So I used these encounters as conversation-starters and asked Kaela what she thought of the things some of the others participated in.  For the most part, she was completely naive and honestly had no idea of some of the intentions.  She also simply chose not to participate in most of them, and played card games or drawing games with some of the others. 

Also.....this was a co-ed dressing room--and there were a high amount of costume changes.  The girls had been asked to wear camisole undershirts and white leggings under their costumes, which remained in place during all their costume changes.  But I noticed two of the older teenage boys did not--and were often seen strutting in front of the mirrors in only their boxers, with no apparent reason in my opinion.  So I was faced with a moral decision as a parent--I could simply accept it as "part of the world of theater" or I could not.  Sure, it was harmless--they weren't trying to come on to any of the girls, and if anything they were trying to impress each other.  But I saw no reason for my 10 year old to be exposed to 17 year old boys in their underwear.  So I talked to the assistant director and asked if the boys could please do their full-costume changes in the bathroom, or in one of the nooks in the dark dressing room.  Thankfully, the director respected my request and changes were made the very next performance.  Some of the teenagers inadvertently commented backstage that they didn't see why everyone couldn't just dress in front of each's just theater after all.  But despite the murmuring and complaining, I felt convicted it was my job as a parent to manipulate my child's environment whenever it was possible.  To my knowledge, none of the kids--not even Kaela--knew I was the one who instigated the change.  For the rest of the performances, I made sure I was quietly steer her toward card games, to ensure appropriate costume changes, and I even taught the older kids new green room games that didn't involve Truth or Dare. 

Turned one liked Truth or Dare anyway.

Proverbs 4:20 & 23
My child, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

New Year, New Blog

I don't know what this whole "Spring Fever" concept is about, because I always get "January Fever" every year.  After all the crazy December schedules, junk-food indulging, feasting on big meals, and vacationing, I am always ready to start cleaning out closets in January.  So Blog got a clean-out, start-over, makeover too!  Check out the left side where we have family bios and pictures. On the right side, Blog now shows a few family videos from You Tube (sadly I'm WAY behind), and some nice music while you read.  Of course you'll have to pause the music if you want to watch a video at the same time!  There's also an archive of all past blogs. (Yes--when I first started, I was much more faithful at writing posts more often!)  My grandma keeps a binder of all the blog entries printed out from the very beginning--this helps remind me to keep the blog updated since she loves to read them and she's not exactly a computer-kind-of-grandma.  It's so full we're going to have to start a new binder makeover too! 

So in the spirit of clean-up, here's a wrap up of our favorite 2012 moments:

Bryan's birthday
Family game night (watch the video here)
School trivia night
Graeson taekwondo yellow belt
Home Depot and Lowe's kid workshops

Kaela cheerleading
High Desert Museum
Kids cooking (click here for more cooking stories)
Bryan San Francisco youth group trip
Indoor swim lessons

Bryan and Jill retreat in Sunriver
Riding the public buses (click here for that funny story)
Peterson Rock Garden
Graeson soccer
Visit from Laurel and Keira

Easter in Klamath Falls
Maezie's preschool princess party
Kaela gymnastics performance
Graeson taekwondo green belt
School carnival
(more on April catch-up click here)

Sunriver Nature Center
Mother's Day
Heart Focus camping (video from the year prior....2011)
Maezie's preschool graduation
Hiking at Smith Rock
Kaela's wax museum
Graeson's Miss Rumphius

Maezie's early birthday party
Kaela outdoor school
Erin's college graduation
Klamath Falls Gems baseball game
Father's Day (click here for what we love about Daddy)
$1 movies at the theater
Kaela's half birthday
Tumalo Falls

4th of July pet parade and festival
Kaela's first play "Honk!" (for the storyline of Honk! click here)
Family camping at Beverly Beach
Balloons Over Bend
Graeson taekwondo Demo Team
Floating the Deschutes River
Kaela and Graeson get baptized in the river

Jill and friends walk Haulin Aspen half-marathon
Lunch, books, and crafts in the park
Compass Church Adventure Days
High school camping
Maezie's 5th birthday (click here for Five Year Old Logic)
Munch and Movies in the park
Dee Wright Observatory and Skylight cave
Bend Elks baseball game
Obsidian hunting

First day of school (three kids at same school!)
Graeson flag football
Mountain View High football games
Drake Duck Race
Bend Day of Play
Jill's birthday
Graeson taekwondo high green belt
Kaela making a commercial (watch the funny video here)

First Friday art walk
Fall Festival
Bryan and Jill weekend in Portland
DD pumpkin ranch
Graeson taekwondo tournament
Trunk or Treat
Financial Fasting (click here to jump over to our other blog)

Graeson's 8th birthday
Family weekend at Eagle Crest
Thanksgiving in Bend (click here for 100 Thankfuls.....or just scroll down)
Bryan runs I Love Pie 10k race
Graeson taekwondo blue belt

Kaela's second play "It's A Wonderful Life"
Kaela's school Christmas program
Graeson's taekwondo & Maezie's gymnastics holiday show
Maezie's school Christmas program
Kaela's 11th birthday (click here for last year's 9.99)
Christmas in Bend
After-Christmas in Klamath Falls at Running Y