Saturday, October 27, 2007

Ghostly Gala

A little cutting and shredding did the trick. Add a little make-up and the disliked sheets that I had been suckered into buying at the fair last month became the perfect ghostly costumes for our annual Halloween party.

When I asked Jon for suggestions as to what treat we should take, he had a sudden recollection and longing for cupcakes his mom used to make with some sort of creamy filling. I tried to recreate the cupcakes of his memory by making mini devil's food cakes injected with a creamy center and frosted with a cream cheese frosting.

It's always fun to see our friends in costume. The Roenfeldts, our hosts, always come up with something perfectly suited for the occasion. They create a true haunted house with fog machines, strobe lights, flying ghosts and even a crazed chain-saw man to jump out of the bushes just as you're approaching the door.

Our hosts, Mr. and Mrs. Grim Reaper

The Summers won the costume prize with their cute Potato Head creations.

Jackie wore her Smarty pants and brought her Dum Dum along. Jon thought she should've won the contest. Her's was his favorite...

...he couldn't stop eating it!

Several couples went with the Asian theme, (we were even treated to a short Sumo match) there was Wolf Man and his lady vampire and the McInelly's came as a pair of blue jeans.

The power tool pumpkin carving contest was lots of noisy, messy fun. Jon used a jig saw but others used drills and chainsaws. Jon even remembered to bring safety goggles. Good job, Honey!

We played games and ate lots of great goodies. It was a good time for all!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Sail Away!

Last Friday, Jon rode the train into Seattle just as he does on every work day. He put in a few solid hours at the office but instead of riding the train home, he met me on the waterfront. More specifically, the cruise ship terminal. We boarded the Mercury under clear blue skies with the sun in our eyes. We booked this cruise almost a year ago and were anxious to sail away!

After seeing our stateroom, we went directly to the buffet for a late lunch. We ate on the deck while gazing at the skyline. As we looked to Jon's building, right in the middle of the skyline, we already felt worlds away from the day-to-day grind.

We participated in a mandatory emergency drill before setting sail for Vancouver, B.C. Good thing we didn't have to wear those lifejackets the entire time!

The Bon Voyage Sail-Away Party was the first scheduled event. We were ready to get the party started so we hopped on the dance floor to do a little Electric Slide and Hot, Hot, Hot dance. I thought the entertainment on this boat was great. There were many live bands including everything from the party band to the string quartet and jazz band. There was live music all throughout the boat.

We enjoyed a new show each night in the theater. We saw a comedian, Celebrity singers and dancers show and a juggler. After each nightly show, we made our way to the Manhattan Restaurant, the ship's dining room. I never used every piece of silverware but I certainly made use of many plates! What a treat for a food-lover like me.

The dances were a lot of fun. We got pretty involved at the Sock Hop, winning a drink for our side of the room with our crazy antics. How ironic that we, the only non-drinkers in the room, won the contest and that the prize was an alcoholic drink! We didn't partake, of course, but we just had to get a picture with it.

We were awakened very early Saturday morning as the Mercury docked in Vancouver. Apparently our stateroom was located right next to the engines and docking a vessel of such size is not a smooth process. Jon likened it to our bed being placed on a giant, out-of-balance washing machine. We were shaken and tossed while the thunderous roar rang in our ears. We were privelged to experience this every time the boat docked, which happened to be every morning around 6 am. Thankfully, that was the only negative of the trip and the fun far outweighed the annoyance of the daily "earthquake."

Tickets on the Big Bus proved the perfect way to see Vancouver. We rode around town and were able to get on and off at various places of interest. One stop was to visit the Roots store. As we got closer, I expressed a sudden craving for a caramel apple, the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory covered-in-nuts-and-chocolate kind. It was my subconcious memory talking to me. Stephanie reminded me that when we had visited that very Roots store five years ago, we shared such an apple. I didn't remember that until she reminded me but you better believe I indulged my craving when we arrived at Roots and indeed found the apple right next door. There was no sharing this time, I gobbled every last slice!

Our next stop was Nanaimo, B.C. It was a quaint town which the men didn't find too entertaining. They decided to go back to the boat to go to the cinema and play shuffleboard. We girls did some shopping and then opted for high tea (hot chocolate) to enjoy a scone and Nanaimo bar.

The ship's library was the perfect place for us to play cards. Ping pong was also a fun pastime.

The daily "earthquake" roused us Monday morning and we made our way to the dining room for breakfast. We again looked toward Jon's building in the skyline, only this time with dread. The drizzle from thick dark clouds perfectly matched our moods. It was time to head back to reality.

Within a couple of hours, Jon was back to work at the office and I was making my way home. I suddenly felt like the preschooler who goes for a playdate, has a splendid time and throws a tantrum when Mom comes to pick him up. I understand now why he yells and cries and refuses to get his shoes in protest of his impending departure. I resisted the idea of reentering reality and couldn't get excited about doing laundry and making dinner.

I did come home to a pleasant scene. My mom had the house clean and was busy creating Caleb's halloween costume. There were pumpkins on the porch from their trip to the pumpkin patch and there were many ribbons and a medal from Alyssa's gymnastics meet (she placed fourth again)that Mom and my sister, Erin, had driven two hours each way for. I am grateful for a sister and mom who took wonderful care of my children while I was sailing away from reality.

Monday, October 1, 2007

One For Team Caleb

I remember hearing a presentation about the WASL in a PTA meeting a few years ago. I recall the feelings of worry and dread even though it would still be a couple of years before Caleb would have to take the test. It was obvious to me that this assessment would be very challenging for my boy. He has language processing disabilities and struggles with making inferences or drawing conclusions. This is not a standard multiple choice test.

The success of Caleb's education is dependent upon a team of people working together in his behalf. The team consists of Caleb, his classroom teacher, his speech therapist and me. We were blessed last year with an amazing, young teacher who worked beautifully with Caleb and all the other team members. Together, we did all we could to prepare him to be successful on the WASL, which he took last spring.

His scores arrived by mail last Friday. My hands shook and my hearted pounded as I tore into the envelope.

"He passed," I mumbled to myself. "He passed," I said a little louder. "Jon, he passed!" I couldn't stop the tears. "He passed. He passed!"

Here's the proof. He had to take the reading and math in third grade. He'll have to add the writing section this year.

I needed a celebration and I needed to celebrate with the only person who truly understood the magnitude of the victory, one who could fully understand my joy and relief. So, I put together a little "Tickled Pink" treat and Caleb and I went in this morning to pay a visit to his one-of-a-kind third grade teacher.

Mrs. Knapp already knew that Caleb had passed and expressed to me that she had been dying to call me, had begged for permission, but was told she had to wait until October 1st. She told me that if I had not come in this morning, she would've called. We shared our mutual feelings of accomplishment and pride and again my eyes were teary. We presented her with her well-deserved, though inadequate, token of gratitude and that small moment of celebration made my day.

This is Caleb holding his congratulatory letter from the governor.

I'm so proud of Caleb. He worked hard and though we have to face this beast again this year and many more years to come, he has one win under his belt. I feel that his success is an answer to our endless prayers. We are so grateful for the outstanding professionals who have assisted us in our journey.

Thank you, to any of you who have offered prayers for our dear son, you're part of our team, too. And it just feels so good when your team wins!