Thursday, May 10, 2018

It Happened in Hockinson...

Hockinson News

Austin reached the big 14 on Tuesday, May 1st. It's amazing to watch how he has grown over the course of the last few months into a full grown man, taking on a man's responsibilities. Since Austin is already two years ahead in school and projected to graduate at 16, Mom and I thought we might be lenient teachers and give him the day off of school.

The morning of his birthday, he went out for breakfast (as is the tradition in the Spafford household) with his two teachers at Hudson's Bar and Grill. Mom and I were convinced that this growing fourteen-year-old boy had a bottomless pit for a stomach as he consumed every bite of the salmon skillet before him... including part of mom's corn beef hash.

After we got back from breakfast, I got to work preparing quiches, chocolate souffle, and orange slices for his afternoon lunch party...though mom and I weren't quite sure where we'd get the appetites to eat this feast after such a gourmet breakfast. :)

Later that day Austin challenged Ania to a game of battleship. It took an interesting turn when Ania realized that each battleship she struck was located in the exact position as where she had placed her battleships. When the game was complete, they realized that every single one of their battleships had been placed in the same strategic position as the others. Strange indeed. :)

Birthdays are always automatically a day off from household chores, but for Austin, making 12 loaves of oatmeal molasses bread was the one exception. Mom would have had a hard time kneading dough for a quintupled recipe of bread, and Austin's big, strong arms were exactly what she needed for the job.  

Three days later, we celebrated Leisel's birthday. She is now officially a quarter of a century. :) Mom and I thought that it was too big of a milestone not to plan something extra special. But I was in a dilemma because Leisel had threatened me with a terrible vengeance if I planned any surprise party behind her back. We figured a way to surprise her anyway planning four separate trips to her office that day. 

The first visit was from Mom that morning. She paid a visit to the office with a delivery of her favorite coffee and a bundle of balloons. Kayleen came just around lunchtime with a burger and waffle cut fries for her lunch. I came with her third delivery that day bearing a gift from Cosette, the three littles, and myself.

The grand finale was when Dillon, a friend of hers, walked into her office dressed in a poncho and sombrero delivering a plate full of chocolate frosted muffins. 
Leisel's reaction to it all made our planning well worth the effort :D

With all of the sunny weather we have been having, we decided to start up ultimate frisbee again with a small group of friends. The warm Monday evenings have been perfect for getting outside and running around. It has also hasprovided us with the perfect excuse to add some exercise to our weekly routines.

A group of friends came over to our place after a day of working out in the yard. We had shaped up the garden, power washed the porch and Austin had built a nice little fire pit in our backyard with some cement bricks and gravel. We were continuing our tradition of Saturday hymn singing with friends and a time of prayer, only this time, it was around a warm crackling fire. Dillon had brought along his guitar, and we sang hymns together for an hour, enjoying the smell of smoke permeating the air, but escaping from the trail of smoke that seemed to follow everyone every time they changed seats. Since we didn't have any marshmallows on hand for roasting, we got creative... roasting string cheese, carrot sticks, bananas, and toast over the fire. 

We wound down that night with a walk around the neighborhood. Perhaps, midnight was a bit of a late time to start a walk. Dillon insisted that everyone keep their pace to a slow southern saunter, turning what should have been a half hour walk into a two-hour stroll.
There is no feeling quite like that of standing outside your own house, a turn of the key away from entering the front door, but with that sinking realization in the pit of your stomach that you don't have a key to your home, it's almost two in the morning and everybody in the household is now fast asleep. There was only one thing to do...and that was to waken Kayleen. We stood outside her window for half an hour making multiple calls to her cellphone, shining flashlights at her room, and throwing bark chips at the window. Finally, she arose and unlocked the door for our group.

All pictures of the victim have been banned from this blog on pain of death :)
Cosette has four fewer teeth than she did a month ago, and perhaps a little less wisdom as a result. The dreaded day had come for her to get her wisdom teeth removed. She angsted about it for days, anticipating the horrible effects of laughing gas, the helpless feeling of being put under, the ghastly sight of rubber gloves and needles; preparing for that wonderful feeling of foggy unawareness worrying about what she was going to say; fearing that the surgery would result in dry sockets and anticipating her cheeks blowing up to double their size. She wisely remained mute for the first few hours after her surgery although it was quite obvious that she was very much out of it all. After a few days of soft food and Mother's care, she was up and around again.

Dad recently contracted what has universally been known as the "man cold". The Urban dictionary well defines it as..."The name 'man cold' disguises the true terrible, debilitating disease that is the man cold. Nearly all men will die from man colds unless they are administered immediately with large amounts of mindless TV. It is essential that they not move from bed or a comfy sofa to allow for rehabilitation, and must have tissues and man cold medicine (such as chocolate biscuits, or a nice cup of tea) brought to them constantly by a nearby female. No one has ever been as sick or tired as one who catches the man cold."

Austin caught this untimely virus a few days after Daddy had and took leave of his homework for three full days, bemoaning his condition from the comforts of a plush couch. He did use his time though in a very educational manner, pouring over government history books and John MacArthur's book on Systematic Theology. 

Jonathon left on his fourth trip to Malaysia for a three week period of time.  A highlight for him over the weekends was rock climbing. He made a total of 15 trips scaling a 40-foot wall. He did find some time to pick up scuba diving again as well. 

A few of us Spafford girls and some friends from church took a day trip up to Seattle to support a friend who was singing with her old school choir. We decided to head up early that day so we could have a little bit of time to tour Seattle.

The space needle was closed that day and it was a two-hour wait for the Ferris wheel, so we opted to do a lot of walking around and seeing the "free" sights of Seattle.

After stopping in at the Rocket Fizz Candy store, Dillon discovered that a good majority of the group had never tried warheads before. He righted this by purchasing a bag of these sour candies and passing them out to the group.

After we had viewed the overwhelming variety of food available at Pike's Place Market, we settled on a place to eat and took our lunches to the waterfront to enjoy them. 

We headed back to the cathedral in time for a lovely concert with a selection of familiar tunes. The choir did an amazing job singing a song in Latin, a Venezuelan folk tune, and some sort of mouth music. 

Our two drivers taxied our group back to where everybody had parked their vehicles earlier that morning, while their five passengers konked out in the backseats of their cars. At 3 AM in the morning, we concluded a long, fun-filled day with friends :)

Besides all of these eventful episodes in the Spafford family, Kayleen is now dating. Besides being absent for a majority of the time nowadays, even when she is "present", she is never really mentally present. Her car has suffered a great deal as a result as well... driving into a ditch, backing up into our van, and getting a flat tire all because of one man and in the name of love :) 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Spring Break Getaway

It was supposed to be just another ordinary day in the Spafford household. Annalise, Austin and Ania were on spring break, but they were planning on going to Wednesday swim class, carrying on business as usual.  They were completely unaware that behind the scenes, secret plans were brewing; plans that had to do with a weekend at their favorite place on earth: Manzanita Beach. 

Dad had booked the B's Nest cabin months in advance for spring break weekend (April 4th-8th). It was up to Mom and I to plan the finer details of the trip, though... What the menu was to be, packing for three little people (behind their backs), and what the schedule would look like over those four days. 

The weatherman was predicting 100% chance of rain for every day that week, so we decided to play it kind of low key and not plan on doing much of anything while we were there. After all, Manzanita beach is the only place that Dad is ever able to completely unplug and relax.

Wednesday morning, Mom and I went into the little's bedroom to wake them up for their "swim lessons". It must have looked a little suspicious to them with Dad standing in their bedroom doorway holding his video camera. Annie, who is always on high alert, never missing a single beat, had caught on earlier to what was going on, but for Austin and Ania, the trip was a complete surprise. 
We gave the kiddos an hour to pack any little necessities that they would like to bring on the trip and we were out of the house by 10:30

Our first day in Manzanita, we stuck around the cabin, only strolling into town for a coffee. Hamburgers and waffle cut fries were on the menu for dinner. While Jonathon fired up the grill outside, Austin prepared the fire in the hearth. 
That night, we watched an episode of North and South...because there's nothing quite like those BBC dramas. :)

Of course we had to start the next morning at the Bread and Ocean Bakery! (...the highlight of every single beach trip ever. :) Dad and the Littles slept in, only rising when we came home to prepare the breakfast. The weather forecast was correct and it rained steadily all day. It provided a wonderful opportunity to play some games with the kiddos, though...something they have been wanting to do with their older siblings for quite some time. 
Jonathon treated the family to Marzano's pizza that night! ( tradition that we had to keep, even on as short a trip as this one.)

It should have been no surprise to me when I woke up on Friday morning to clear skies and sunshine... It was an answer to the prayer that I had prayed the night before, asking the Lord for one sunny day at the beach. He had faithfully answered it, even though I had been praying with little expectation that we would get anything other than what the weatherman had forecasted for that week. 

It was an "official pig in mud day", Dad declared, as he always does when he's out with his family enjoying the sunshine. Austin even got a chance to play in the tennis court across the street, convincing a few of his sisters to join him.

We headed back to the cabin to round everybody up for a family walk through town and on the beach. Unfortunately, trying to get eleven people out the door is always a complicated matter. There's a big flurry of people running about trying to grab last minute sweatshirts and hats, debating on whether flip flops or tennis shoes would be more conducive for a walk on the beach, or whether a wallet would be necessary later for buying a milkshake in town. And just when you think you have everybody gathered and ready to head out the door, somebody rushes back upstairs to grab "just one more thing". Of course, Dad's on the porch napping, taking in the sun, because he has seen this whole scene before, and he knows it will be quite sometime before everybody's ready for a walk. Welcome to what every outing with the Spafford family looks like... :)

We decided we would try and take a family pyramid picture for Charae, since it is one of her least favorite family traditions! :D Dad got a few pictures with everyone smiling...before the pyramid crumbled onto the sandy beach.:)

Dad decided that it was too lovely a day not to get a milkshake. Unfortunately, Cones and Coffee was only accepting cash that day and we only had enough for one milkshake. Dad got his Tillamook Mudslide milkshake, and the rest of us were content to go home and grab a slice of mocha cheesecake and a scoop of homemade ice cream and eat it out on the porch. 

The next day, Manzanita was predicted to get 75 mph winds, and Mom was anticipating a big storm. That night I could hear through the open window by my bed that the storm had already begun. I think Mom was hoping that it would amount to a little more the next day than a single clap of thunder, and a momentary downpour of hail...though we did get some pretty crazy winds. It was the perfect day to be curled up in the cabin!

The storm made for a relatively quiet morning at Bread and Ocean. That was fine as far as Mom was concerned, since she got to stock up on an abundance of "day old" bread. When we returned to the cabin, we could smell the smoke from the wood burning fireplace and upon nearing the door, the sound of Kevin Kern could be heard playing from the stereo. 
Austin took very seriously his job of keeping a roaring fire going throughout the entire day. He burned through all four stacks of wood that Dad had purchased earlier that day.

We gathered around the kitchen table for a game of Settlers of Catan that afternoon. Mom popped some popcorn, someone put on coffee, and with such good food and company, what more did we need :D

I think part of what makes these get-away trips so special, is because that time away with family draws such a stark contrast, when compared to the busyness of everyday life...
We don't see each other as often as we used to, and with everybody running here and there, family dinners have become a rarer treat. It's really unbelievable that we've been able to hang on to these times as long as we have, but it doesn't make it any the less difficult when things start to change. 
During our time at the beach we all agreed, though, that something was missing...Charae's place in the cabin was empty.
We had an opportunity to video Skype her during one of our dinners.... For a short time, it felt like we were all back together again. 

We were at the cabin only four days, and yet it felt like we had spent a long restful week there. As we drove home, I recounted on paper each of the blessings that the Lord had blessed us with over the course of our trip...

~Dad and Jonathon were able to take the time off of work 
~We were able to leave earlier than expected on Wednesday
~We were able to surprise two of the "Littles" with this trip
~We enjoyed an unexpected sunny day on Friday
~We have been able to build numerous precious family traditions at the B's Nest Cabin since 2002
~The dear people that we rent the cabin from have been so generous in allowing us to continue staying at their little cabin over the past 16 years 
~And lastly, Mom and Dad make these trips all possible, creating the close family that we have and making each vacation trip so very memorable

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Happenings in March

It seems like so much time has gone by since we were driving to the airport in the 15 passenger van to see Charae off on her flight to Korea....and yet, it has only been four weeks now. It's hard to believe we still have 48 weeks ahead of us till she's home!
We are all slowly adjusting to being a family of just ten, now. 
There are still times when I count Charae's name, when I'm serving everyone dinner, or I'll hear the clank of a coffee cup on the counter and picture Charae standing downstairs in the kitchen. 
But as much as Charae's presence is greatly missed in the Spafford household, we are all so excited at how the Lord has led her, and are reveling in how He has worked out every detail so perfectly.
She is settling in very well and thoroughly enjoying her work there at the preschool. For those of you who are interested in keeping up with her, she started a blog to keep everybody up-to-date on what she is doing over there.

Dad was in Minnesota with Grandpa over his birthday so we didn't get a chance to give him a proper celebration. When he came back, Mom and I planned a surprise party for the following Monday
Monday night, Dad walked in the door thinking he was coming home early to spend time with the three littles for their "Monday Night Memories", but to his surprise he was seated down to one of his favorite meals: pork roast, twice-baked potatoes, green beans and corn on the cob, with strawberry shortcake as the finishing touch. 

We had also been waiting to see the film "The Man Who Invented Christmas" for quite some time. Mom and I went around that day looking for a place that carried it. We put the DVD at Dad's dinner place that night :) 

Mom had been working on a scrapbook for Dad's birthday for the past several weeks, documenting their trip to Alaska. Trying to do anything behind someone's back can be pretty much impossible in this household... But each day Mom would lay out her scrapbook pages, pictures and craft supplies, to work on the book, and each day before Dad came home, she would tuck them away somewhere. When it came time to open up gifts, Dad was completely surprised by the special book that Mom had created for him. 

The winter retreat brought together a group of special friends that have become almost inseparable since those days together at Government Camp. We have continued with our theme of spontaneity and had many impromptu get-togethers over the past few weeks.
Directly after the winter retreat, a group of friends gathered together to read through two books of the Bible during an event called "The Bible Marathon". After a time of study and fruitful fellowship, we decided that instead of heading back to our individual homes, we would drive to the Columbia River and take a walk before heading to McMenamins for dinner. 

Another time, one of our group planned a last minute trip to Salt and Straw after the evening church service, and a walk through Portland followed directly after that. We recently got together for a Mexican dinner celebrated on St Patrick's day (in style), followed by a high school performance of Les Miserable. And since 10:30 is too early an hour to call it a night, we all gathered at one of our friend's houses for ice-cream and games. 

As has been tradition these three years now, the Spafford family set aside a date on the calendar to help the Lockwoods trim the fruit trees in their orchard. In years past, we have plodded our way through the day-long process in the rain, usually ending around 6 o'clock in the evening. This year, however, we enjoyed a perfectly sunny day with enough vitamin D and energy for us to finish around 4 o'clock

Jonathon continued with his annual tradition of slicing his hand with a Japanese saw as he attempted to trim a tree limb. He thought he could get away with wrapping the injury up in a  towel and continuing on with his work, but with a doctor present and enough worried sisters there, he was ushered into the house for a thorough cleaning and bandaging. 

Dr. Lockwood and Austin brought the last load of tree branches to the dump while the ladies heated up the soup for dinner. The guys calculated that they had dumped a total of 610 pounds of branches and twigs that day...quite a good days work :)