Sunday, September 23, 2007

Turning Two!

My baby boy is growing up fast! I really can't believe two years have past since that wonderful day Owen joined our family. As a mommy, I can't help but think about the night I gave birth to him, and how he entered the world immediately surrounded by the family who loves him. Wes, his mom, and sister were in the hospital room helping me through labor- an awesome substitute for our scary nurse. Wes' dad looked after Kylee outside, while my parents raced in from the Bay Area just in time to hear Owen's first cries. This supportive family is such a blessing, and I know Owen feels the love everyday. We love you, Owen- and hope you had a wonderful 2nd Birthday.
For mom, it was EXTRA special... as we decided to skip the crazy, huge Birthday Extravaganza, and just had such a nice, relaxing day. We woke up on Saturday, and Kylee remebered his b-day right away and constantly referred to him as "Birthday Boy" rather than "Owen." The kids helped me bake the cake before they even had breakfast, we did a little housework, and Kylee helped me decorate the cake in the afternoon. We tried to be creative bakers, and attempted our own street bike design- and, let's just say I wasn't TOO disappointed that none of our pictures of it came out very clearly. Saturday evening we had a nice family outing at Weaverville's Round Table Pizza (yes, we do have an actual pizza chain in the 'ville.) Wes' parents, his sister, and our nephew, Taylor joined us for dinner, followed by cake, ice cream, and PRESENTS at our house. Owen loves his gifts, and even stayed up later than his big sis because he couldn't stop playing with his new toys especially his backhoe and street bike. He finally wore his little self out, and went to sleep one happy little 2 year-old!
Owen hangs with Grandma & Grandpa at the head of the table
The cousins strategize ways to leave the table and get to the video game room
Hurry up and sing the song- that kid is ready to blow out a candle!
Grandpa has no problem eating cake at the kids table.
Owen is IN LOVE with his very own street bike
The birthday boy sneaks in for one last ride before bedtime.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Update on Tyson

I posted our Bye-Bye to Ty-ty awhile back, and just wanted to update on the latest breaking news. Well, he ran away from his most recent owner- and found himself back in the pound. We decided it was best for him to find a family that could fence him in and give him the care he needs. So, the animal shelter is trying to find him a home. We opened our newspaper this week to find goofy Tyson's mug smiling at us! If anyone wants to help give him a new family, let me know.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Sweet Baby James

You can almost see the different feet sizes of all three kids- so cute!
I have to post this adorable picture of Owen and Kylee with my best friend Jen's, baby Jimmy. Last week, Jen drove all the way up to Weaverville from Sacramento with her seven week old baby. He was an angel and slept the whole way, but it's not easy packing up all the gear for an overnight stay, and driving alone with an infant and no cell phone service at times. It was an awesome visit, the kids and I could not get enough of this cute little guy! And Kylee even became an expert baby soother- she could calm Jimmy all by herself by helping him with his pacifier and rubbing his belly. This gave Jen and I plenty of time to catch up and talk about all sorts of mommy stuff! Thanks for the great visit, Jen and Jimmy, we miss you already - come back soon! :)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Relay for Life

Wes and I have been involved with Relay for Life in Weaverville for the past 5 years. For those who don't know, Relay for Life is a 24 hour fundraising event- where groups of teams get together in one community, and each team must have a member walking on the track at all times for the duration of the event. We are all there for one cause- were doing what we can to help find a cure for cancer. Here's our summary of Relay for Life 2007:

Relay was a huge success this weekend! We had a large turn out, and as a team, we did great on so many levels! Every year, Wes' dad gets the whole construction crew to "set the stage" for Relay for Life. Our team is out there the day before the event, as the guys build the stage, and set up all the large tents. We had the family over for dinner afterwards, since we live 900 yards from the Elementary school where it would be held. The next morning, we got out there early to set up our own team site, where our theme this year was "Racing for a Cure." We had a fun "racing" theme, and brought out all the little toy 4 wheelers and big wheels we could find for the kids to ride on. It turned out to be a hit with ALL the kids at Relay, who could entertain themselves for hours by racing around the basketball courts with their friends! The event started at 10 am Saturday, as the Survivors took the first lap, wearing their "Relay" purple shirts and medals. The emotion of the event really begins at this point, and carries on throughout the day. My sister in law, Bridget, was able to have her family join us this year. It was so wonderful to have them on our team, especially to have her mom, Tina, step father, Steve, and step brother, Cody, walk with us- as Steve is currently battling brain cancer. He was set to begin another Chemo treatment on Relay weekend, but that didn't stop him. He took his Chemo pill friday night when he arrived in Weaverville, and for me, he put a face on what it means to battle this disease. He is a fighter, and watching him walk many legs of our Relay reminded us all of why we do this every year.
Around 7 pm, we began to light our luminarias. "Every candle has a name" is what echoes in your heart as you walk around the track reading the names of those who are fighting cancer, have won the fight, or have lost... and there are so many candles. These luminarias guide us as the moon comes up, and we prepared for a long, chilly night of walking for those brave ones who have fought the fight.

At around 11 pm, out comes Cecile. For those who have been at our Relay the past few years, Cecile is a very familiar, friendly, spirited voice who guides us through the late hours of Relay. She has the daunting task of keeping tired, FREEZING cold walkers, awake and enthusiastic all night long. It's very tempting to sneak off to your cozy little tent where the kids are all snuggled up in their piles of warm blankets, but she gives us motivation to keep on walking. The main inspiration is COMPETITION, and at Relay, this competition is called Midnight Madness! Every hour there is a team event, a "creative" competion to win- each team has a chance to win $50 for 1st place, $25 for 2nd, all towards your team fundraising efforts. This year our team did wonderfully! Many of us gathered every hour between taking turns walking and staying warm by the fire, to cheer- or compete for a win- for our team. I succumbed to the cold around 3 am, and huddled in my sleeping bag in the tent for a bit, got up around 4:30 to cheer, and went back to sleep for a solid 1 hour until I began walking again at 6 am. Wes' sister, Amy, his Mom, and Bridget were part of the "up late crew", as well, and all were part of our spirited group battling for wins during Midnight Maddness. Wes and Bridget's brother, Cody, were our two shining stars- as they never lay down for a rest, not even for a second. Wes was truley in his element- he took 1st at 12 am (wheelbarrow race around track/ find hidden objects, wheel them back to the finish), 4 am- he and Cody took 2nd in a Wheel barrow obstacle course, and at 6 am he took first in a eating competion... chocolate covered boiled eggs, whipped cream, and bagels... mmmm!

As the sun FINALLY came up, we thawed out and continued to circle the track until 10 am. We had are awards ceremony, and found our team raised over $9,000 and were in the Top 5 overall fundraisers overall. Little Trinity County raised over $85,000 as a community. I finished in the Top 5 as an overall individual fundraiser, and was honored as the Top fundraiser online! We are already looking ahead to next year, as I tested out a potential fundraising endeavor for Relay 2008 by making shirts to wear while we walk. I wore one this year that displayed the names of all of my donor's loved ones who have battled cancer. I also made a special one for Wes' mom, Linda, to wear that memorialized her dad. My unforgettable Relay moment was a special talk with Linda's mom, Grandma Joy, as she came out with more family members to walk in memory of Grandpa Lawrence. She spoke with tears in her eyes, proud to see the shirt dedicated to his memory. I just let her know I treasure the wonderful memories I have of Grandpa. I told her he is my main reason for being so dedicated to Relay, year after year. I get so frustrated knowing that had their been a cure for cancer 4 years ago, Grandpa would've lived to meet Kylee, and his namesake, Owen Lawrence.

Grandma Joy and Owen

After all the hours of set up, clean up, and walking... we were a very tired family! Wes was named my hero of the weekend...after dominating the Maddness events, being one of the few to stay up all 24, choosing to RUN many of his walking laps, volunteered to be Chairperson of Logistics for Relay 2008, he then drove to Redding with his dad after Relay on Sunday to return all the equipment to the Relay supplier... NOT TO MENTION he wanted to take Owen so Mommy and Kylee could get some rest. I love my hubby.
Here are a few more pictures from this unforgettable weekend
Adam and Bridget try to instill nap time via wagon at Relay Brynn, Kylee and Taylor hang out in the tent

Wes and Owen walk at Luminaria ceremonyMidnight Maddness begins Adam, Cody and Wes get fired up for some crazy wheelbarrow racing!

Monday, September 10, 2007

So much to celebrate...

New houses, birthdays, going-away parties, and anniversaries... oh my! We had another fantastic weekend- this time we took an awesome trip to be with my Franco-side family and friends in and around the bay area. We started it by staying in a new town near Tracy, called Mountain House. My brother and his wife just moved into a GORGEOUS house there and hosted us Friday night. It was such a great stay, and the kids LOVED every second playing with their Auntie and Uncle both at their house and their super-cool community park. (OK- the grown-ups had a great time, too, with the yummy cocktails, delicious dinner and breakfast, and the neat spinning stand-up toy at the park!)

Next, we went to Alameda Beach with Pete and Sunita and got to enjoy some play time in the sand, and dipped our toes in to the water. We had a busy night planned with Wes and I slipping away for an Anniversary dinner, while the kids got to go to a dinner party with my family at the Wharton's house (this is one of the very awesome families I grew up next door to my whole life in Oakland.) The kids were lucky to not only have their Auntie, Uncles, and grandparents to hang out with there- they also got to play with my old neighborhood friends and a couple of adorable little children. Meanwhile- Wes and I had an awesome "First Date" (as Kylee kept calling it)... and figured out it was our first night out together since April, it was a much needed and greatly appreciated dinner together! We still got to enjoy the Wharton's party, too, and made it back in plenty of time for a few beers and roasting marshmellows.

And finally, Sunday was SO much fun! My parents had a great tailgate party planned, and were up at the crack of dawn (mostly because Owen woke up very early crying for Grandma!) But, my mom decided this was Owen's way of saying, "You must get the chicken ready for the Raiders game!" We were at the game around 9:30 am, and were all able to really soak in the cultural experience that is a part of being a crazy Raiders fan! We had a good size group, that included my family, some of the neighbors, friends of my brothers, and my good friend Jessica who flew up from LA with her fiance for a special Raiders Game birthday surprise. It was a long time for the kids to endure the wild tailgating- and aside from Owen taking a "walk" on his own for a few minutes, that ended with him being brought back to us safely by a neighboring tailgater- they had a pretty fun time. Even after Owen was on "house arrest" inside the car- he and Kylee really enjoyed watching a little Thomas the Train together as a nice break from the constant booming chants of "RAIDERS" that echoed through this packed parking lot. Although the Raiders didn't win, we were happy to see them score a few touchdowns and were just excited to leave all in one piece, and just as proud as always to be a RAIDER fan!

Eating tacos in the Pete and Sunita's backyard
The GirlsHaving a fun night!
Pete and Sunita at their new houseThe boys doing some spinningA birthday party at the beach!Collecting seashells with AuntieGetting set for a dinner out for our 7th Anniversary

A family trip to the Raiders Season opener Grandpa's birthday tailgate partyKylee and Owen love eating chips at the tailgate party

Jess and Mike fly in for Mike's Raiders game birthday celebration!
What's a Raiders Game without some drinking games?

Kylee and Owen hitch ride Paul is happy that the Raiders ALMOST came close to winning the first game of the year!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Bye Bye, Ty-Ty

Many of you know that for some time we have been trying to find a home for our first dog, Tyson. Tyson had trouble adjusting to our Weaverville house, and after futile attempts to keep him on our property with electric collars and what-not; we have lately been keeping him penned up in the garage or tied on a rope. While, Bo does great hanging out with us at the house, Tyson spent a lot more time getting bailed out of the kennels at animal control and the elementary school. So, this weekend- we found him the perfect home! Our sister in law's father was looking for a companion as he starts a new job cutting logging roads out in the woods. This is the perfect match, as Tyson loves the freedom to explore, and will also be great company and protection at night from wildlife. He's not the toughest guy, but loves to bark and will alert if other animals are near the camp. After 7 years, it was a little sad to say good-bye, but mostly it felt good knowing Tyson can start to enjoy life again, and, since he's in the family- we'll still see him from time to time. Bo is adjusting well and seems to like being the dog of the house!

Great Weekend

This weekend was awesome. My parents came for a visit, and they surprised us by bringing my brother, John, too! We met at a Luau BBQ on Saturday in Lewiston, at Wes' brother's house. It is always SO fun for the kids to be able to have a party with the cousins, and they had a blast. I was the DD so I spent a lot of time supervising the late night kid crew (which included snuggling with baby Lexi- my sister-in-law's sister's baby!) But I got to get in on the grown-up fun, too, and participated in the pool tournament. (Unfortunately, I remembered that I did not receive my dad or my brother's pool playing skills- and I was eliminated early on.) We got the family home late, and were up early for church. Then, Kylee got a special treat- she and Uncle Johnny walked to the park (with my parent's new BIG puppy, Beau) and they had a ton of fun. We all had lunch, then headed out to Wes' parent's house for some river rafting. It was a great float- we saw a family of river otters, watched a few groups catch some big fish, and mostly just loved drinking beers (Sunday, Wes was DD- yay, Wes!!) and spinning wildly through the not-so-huge rapids on this stretch of the trinity river. Wes' parents house is on the river, so we pulled our rafts out and had a great time BBQing and having cocktails with them last light. This morning, Wes went back to work and my family had to head back to Oakland. But, before they left- we had some coffee and Kylee showed them her preschool, and was a little sad that her teachers and friends weren't there to meet the family because of Labor Day. It is always hard to say goodbye, especially to get back into the routine after such a great time this weekend! Luckily, we are heading down to Oakland next weekend for some more good times and for the Raider's season opener- Go Raiders!

Owen loves the attention from the ladies after playing in the jump house

Uncle Johnny and Owen play at the Luau BBQ

Playing beauty shop in Brynn's Beauty Parlor

All the girls pile on Anne Marie for a group photo

The Luau pool tourney
The Francos raft the Trinity River

Grandpa and Owen are happy to have shade on the float

Daddy and Kylee