Sunday, November 29

One flew the cuckoo's nest.......

It was just yesterday that Landon was born.....

And then he graduated.....

And we left him at college.......

And we miss him, by golly, so we made a trip up to the great white north to visit....

It was kind of a long drive up there.......but we did have some good music and had a dancing finger contest (ask Leanne) to pass the time.

Landon gave us a short tour, short because there are only a few buildings, about 500 students.  We got to meet some of his friends and he showed us his "spot" in the library where he studies.....

The three amigos.........this is my new favorite photo!

He misses having a car so we took a drive to a grocery store to get him a supply of snacks......

He's keeping his room pretty tidy, the whole floor was visible and the hamper actually had dirty clothes IN it and not AROUND it....
I was impressed.

It was really good to see him, R.J. thought so too!  It is nice to know he is happy, healthy, studying hard, doing well in his classes and having a good time!  So good day, eh!

Wednesday, November 25

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Thanks to God for my Redeemer, thanks for all thou dost provide!  Thanks for times now but a memory, thanks for Jesus by my side!
Thanks for pleasant, balmy springtime,
thanks for dark and dreary fall. 
Thanks for tears by now forgotten, thanks for peace within my soul!
Thanks for prayers that thou hast answered,
thanks for what thou dost deny.
Thanks for storms that I have weathered,
thanks for all thou dost supply! 
Thanks for pain and thanks for pleasure, thanks for comfort in despair. Thanks for grace that none can measure,
thanks for love beyond compare!
Thanks for roses by the wayside, thanks for thorns their stems contain.  Thanks for homes and thanks for fireside,
thanks for hope, that sweet refrain!
Thanks for joy and thanks for sorrow, thanks for heavenly peace with thee!  Thanks for hope in the tomorrow,
thanks through all eternity.

That about sums it up for me!

Sunday, November 22

Boston in the Fall!!

Bill and I have been married for 20 years now- Woo Hoo- and we celebrated our anniversary by taking a trip to Boston in October with some friends of ours, Derrick and Rachelle.  They are also celebrating 20 years!  It was a VERY fun trip filled with lots of walking, food, history, shopping, Vikings football, some good laughs and even a toast out on the balcony of our guest house on Beacon Street under a full moon.  I would like to share our trip with you but I am not going to blog about it since Rachelle already has and she has given me permission to give you her blog address to see the photos if you are interested.  You might want to get a cup of tea and a snack because there are several posts.  She did an awesome job of documenting our trip, even the food we ate!  If you have never been to Boston, it is definitely a great place to visit!  Allow at least four days and wear good walking shoes!

Friday, November 20

Whitewater Kayaking for Dummies...

Every summer around Labor Day for the past several years we have shared an adventure with our friends, the Norvolds. Usually camping, but we have tried a few other things too.  These are some of our most fond memories as a family.  Since our kids have all become teenagers and are starting to fly the coop we wanted to do something really fun and memorable this year.  We decided on a trip to Duluth, MN and Brule, WI for whitewater kayaking on the Brule River.  A few of us had tried the kayaking last summer in Idaho and discovered it was a blast.  Since I have tried it twice now I am an expert and thought I would share a few helpful hints in case you might want to try this most exhilarating activity!
  • First of all, make sure you know where the outfitter is so you don't drive past it and waste precious time.  You don't want to get on the river too late in the day or you could end up paddling in the dark and miss your landing and end up in Lake Superior!  (not good)  Fortunately, this didn't happen to us but it was a four-hour trip and the sun was going down behind the trees and it was getting quite chilly at the end.
  • ALWAYS wear life jackets and helmets (duh)!
  • On your way to the drop off point, Do NOT listen to the shuttle bus driver as he goes on and on about all the twists and turns in the river and describes each ledge (I call them waterfalls) in detail, the landmarks, what side to be on, what to avoid, and which way to hit each of the rapids.  AS IF you are going to remember a single word of it!  Disregard his comment about how people either love this trip or say it is the worst they have ever done and how many people quit after the first set of rapids.  WHY would he tell us this???  The knot in our stomach is big enough.
  • Make sure you ask your shuttle bus driver to take a photo of your group before you embark on the waves, you never know.....
  • Do NOT let your oldest son, fearless (clueless) as he is, take off ahead of the group.  He acts pretty cocky but will swallow that around the very first bend when he gets caught in a tangle of trees in the middle of the river and is hanging on for dear life.  Sorry, but we couldn't help but chuckle.   He finally had to get out of the kayak, drag it to shore and empty it.  He still managed to get in front and was the first off the river at the end.
  • Try to enjoy the scenery along the way instead of always wondering "Is this the big one?  Is there where I die?  Is this where people quit?"  Actually, you really do need to focus on what is ahead at ALL times and the two most important things to remember are to steer clear of rocks (yeah, right, AS IF you can even see most of them) because rocks are what tip you over and the other is to always hit the rapid straight on, facing forward (!), which is much easier said than done when you feel like you don't have much control of the situation!
  • Wear shoes that tie or strap on because if you don't you will likely lose one.  The muddy banks are like quick sand and suck them in very quickly along with your feet and ankles! 
  • Make sure you bring along lots of water and high energy snacks in a waterproof container because you will become ravishingly hungry and thirsty within the first ten minutes and completely out of energy the last hour. We will be smarter next time!  Did I say next time?
  • Do NOT scream (it may startle the other paddlers and make them think you are dying) when you feel something crawl across your legs. After all, with the skirt tight around your waist and snug on the kayak there is absolutely nothing you can do about it!  :-{
  • DO hoot and holler when you realize you have made it through the first ledge (2-3 foot drop) and are still upright!  BTW, I believe I was the only one in our group to stay upright the whole time and didn't even get my hair wet!  I was praying hard.  If I had tipped and gone under my story would probably be a little different.
  • NEVER let go of your paddle, you don't want to be up a creek without a paddle!
  • Do NOT panic when you see your daughter's kayak get stuck on a log and then turned and sucked completely under the log as she stands by helplessly and you can't get back to her because of the current.  Instead of crying (AS IF you can help it) and thinking "this is it-- we're done for, we'll have to somehow get off the river and start walking", start praying fervently as you cling to your own tree.  The kayak will eventually dislodge and start floating down the river!  And then once you have the kayak corraled (uff dah) and your daughter on the bank just wait patiently until your knight in shining white helmet comes to rescue his damsels in distress.  He will single-handedly get the submerged kayak out of the water (NOT easy) and emptied and you will all be on your way once again!  Bill performed several of these rescues that day- he is my hero!!
  • RESIST the urge to pee in your kayak, even though you can hardly stand it, and the warmth would feel nice in the 2-3 inches of cold water you are sitting in.  Wait until you can find a spot to get up to shore and empty both.  I resisted in case you are wondering.  Leanne might have been emptying her bladder in this photo and Landon his kayak.  That's me facing the camera and Brian facing shore.
  • Celebrate wildly when you finally see the bridge that marks the landing where you get off!  Oh and VERY important, have a set of dry clothes in your vehicle to put on- warm clothes never felt SO good.  Here's some shots of us getting off the water at the end- it was so shallow there we had to drag the kayaks.
  • Make sure there is a good restaurant near by where you can stuff yourselves and recount all the thrilling and terrifying moments of the trip. 
  • Have a full-body massage scheduled for when you return because every muscle in your body will be sore (my toes were even sore!)
  • Brag to all your friends about how you shot class III rapids and survived to tell about it!
Unfortunately, we didn't get any action shots of us going over the ledges because you can't take your camera out when you have both hands white-knuckled on the paddle.  So, I hope I haven't discouraged you from the idea of trying it yourself if you haven't before, it really is fun.  The place we went is called Brule River Canoe Rental, just 20 miles or so east of Duluth and they offer many different trips from leisurely tours to the one we did.  So put it on your bucket list! 

Now....on to sky diving!!

Saturday, November 14

Cool Runnings

Blogs are for bragging, right?  Leanne's long and lean legs ran on the Cross Country team again this year.  The team just finished the season last week with the Awards Banquet where Leanne won the award for Most Improved!!  She really made great strides (pun!) this year, considering she hadn't trained during the summer and started after the first day of school when most of the team had already been practicing since August.  She PR'd at almost every meet.  That means she beat her own Personal Record .  She worked very hard during the season with a lot of early mornings, late nights and not much sleep or free time.   And she still kept up with homework, show choir practice, and youth group, etc.

She got new pink spikes this year and some painful blisters along with them!  Ouch.

These next three were taken during last year's Cross Country season by a friend of ours.

Pushing herself at the end of a race!

This was at the home meet in Bemidji, coming up to the finish line.  She came up from behind and beat the girl in red by a foot!!
It was close!!

Going over the finish line (to the left of the burgundy sweatshirt) and getting one of her best times of the season in the 2 1/2 mile race (18:41).  She improved her time by 1:18 overall during the season in the 2 1/2 mile race.

This was taken during warm-ups at the Sections meet in Little Falls, MN, and Leanne was one of the seven girls who qualified to go.  It was really rainy and cold. She also PR'd at this race (18:40)!!!
She is in the middle.   

Here she is with some fellow 9th-grade teammates after her race in Bagley, MN, where she placed 12th and got a medal!!

With some of the other girls on the team...
they had a great time together.

We are very proud of you, Leanne, and enjoyed watching you run! 
The verse she has posted in her room: 
"So Spirit come, put strength in every stride,
give me grace for every hurdle;
that we may run with faith,
to win the prize of a servant good and faithful."

Thursday, November 12

Move It or Lose It!!

I learned a really important lesson a couple months ago, the hard way, which is usually the way we learn things of real importance it seems!?!  We brought our computer in to the computer clinic to get rid of a nasty virus.  Maybe it was H1N1!  I think they had to re-install Windows or something and unfortunately, the technician inadvertently deleted all of our documents and photos.  Like permanently.  I couldn't believe it.  How could that happen?  I was very angry and wanted to punch someone.

Anger soon gave way to tears.  We didn't have the photos saved anywhere else.  I felt like I was the one who had been punched in the stomach.  Like I imagine it would feel to lose your most valuable possessions in a house fire or flood.  All your memories from the last 10 years just gone.  The pit of despair.  I'm exagerating a little, but not a lot.  Ask Bill- I was in a terrible funk for a couple of days.

I began searching anywhere I could think of.  I had printed a few photos here and there, whew, and I had saved a few to CD's, whew.  I found a few I had saved on the Walmart site thinking I would make prints but never did, whew.  I called the web site (PhotoMax) where I had stored photos for a few years but had ended my subscription over 8 months ago.  The man on the phone heard desperation in my voice and said "Let me see if I can find them."  He did!  They were still on a server somewhere and he graciously re-opened my account so I could get them back.  I was very happy!!!

I think I have recovered about 70-75% of our photos, but there are still some gaps.  If you have some photos of our family that you wouldn't mind sending us that would be awesome!

Well, the moral of this story is simple:  Computers crash, stuff is lost, emotions are extreme. 

SAVE YOUR PHOTOS in other places besides just your computer hard drive!!  We finally bought an external hard drive and I think it will be worth every penny in peace of mind alone. 

Tuesday, November 10

Being Satisfied.......

I have been challenged this week to think about what truly satisfies.  What is the only thing that can satisfy that deep thirst inside me, the longing for love, acceptance, peace, joy, contentment?  What IS it that will make me happy??  The answer is this:
"My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."    Phil. 4:19. 
I struggle with being content and quite often find myself thinking "if only" this, or that, or the other thing.  This is one of the thistles in my life!  But nothing and no one, not my husband, my kids, my friends or more money, a nicer kitchen, a different vehicle, a new haircut or anything else, can totally satisfy.  Only Christ is the drink of soul satisfaction that will quench the thirst.
 "Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4 
I want to seek Him first, above all things, and trust Him to be my supply.  I invite you to ask me sometime, "In who/what/where are you finding your satisfaction these days, Laurie?"

Friday, November 6

A surprise along the trail....

Thursday was a beautiful, brisk day, and Bill and I, and R.J., our dog, AND Isabelle, the cat, went for one last walk in the woods before the guns come out.  We stopped to talk with our neighbor who was out on his four-wheeler in the corn field next to us.  The ground is still too wet for them to cut the corn (come on sunshine!).  He was telling us how the deer numbers are way down this fall and went on to say it is because so many have been eaten by wolves (wolves??).  Apparently, there has been a pack of 6-7 wolves around for a while (umm...really?)  He said they have seen the remains of a handful of deer in the woods that were meals for the pack (gulp).  We both looked at R.J. and thought he would probably be a tasty appetizer for a wolf.  There have been a few times we heard howling some nights when we were outside by the sauna but I thought it was coyotes.  Anyway, he said he thought the pack had moved on now (whew!).  So we said good bye to our neighbor and after walking a few feet what did we stumble upon?  Wolf scat.  Notice the deer hair in it.  This is within 150 yards of our house! (yikes). 

Before Landon grew up and went to college (last summer) he would go for long walks back behind our house and said one day he saw a bear cross the trail ahead of him.  I don't have much of a desire to go walking back there by myself anymore!  I'll take my hubby fer sure, and my dog, and the cat too, I guess.  Better they get eaten than me.  JK

Sitting on a stump and pondering ...

It sort of looks like it but Bill is NOT taking a leak in this photo.

Happy Fall!!  Enjoy it while you can!