Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Let it Snow! Let is Snow! Let it Snow!

In an effort to keep my spirits up after I helped my husband, unsuccessfully, get our van out of the driveway this morning at 5:30 so he could get to work 4 hours earlier than he was scheduled, I decided to share some winter joy with you.
As most of you know, and some have experienced first hand, we in the Portland metro area have seen our fair share of snow this week. Yesterday was by far THE BEST snowfall and we took full advantage of the cold white stuff. Since Jilly refused to wear the new snow pants that daddy insisted she have, we bundled her the best we could and headed outside. The following slideshow is the result of the weeks snowy adventures.
I am intersted to see what today brings as right now, my car is burried under about 10 inches of snow and does not appear to be going anywhere any time soon. Eeek!!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Succesful Hunt

This past weekend we embarked on another Mat/Rat tradition, our annual Christmas Tree Hunt. The girls were much more mobile this year so it took some extra energy to keep them close and safe while we maneuvered the hills in search a our perfect tree. But in the end, a great time was had by all and we did not leave empty handed.
Here are some pictures from start to finish.

And for Miss Em'y, please pay special attention to the last picture, notice anything familiar? She lacking in starch but hasn't stopped gracing the top of my tree since 1997. :)

Happy Holidays everyone!! May your Christmas celebrations be truly blessed by the reason we celebrate this magnificent season!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Pt. Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

So the weekend of the New Kids on the Block concert was a busy one. We headed up to Washington Friday afternoon with virtually no plans except where we were going to stay and that I was going to the concert. Saturday morning, we woke up, had a leisurely breakfast with my Dad and his girlfriend, Jodi and they suggested that we make use of their new zoo membership and take a trip to the zoo. That sounded like great fun and as it had been over a year since Jillian had been to any zoo, we thought a trip to the zoo would be a great idea. Despite the chilly weather and no one in our family being prepared enough to bring a coat, it turned out to be a beautiful day and we got some great pictures. Enjoy!

After the concert that night, I crashed around 1am, only to wake up at 7 the next morning because I had made plans to get together with my girls and scrapbook. Unfortunately, I still had quite a drive ahead of me, so the girls got a much earlier start than I was able to. But I joined them around 1 for some pizza and other goodies. And got a few good hours of scrapping in before we had decided to call it a night. I don't think any pictures were taken of our time together but here's a couple from our last scrapbooking extravaganza!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Last night, I gratefully left my husband in charge of my daughter, and joined thousands of other 30-something women reliving their girlhood dreams! Last night, the world outside of the walls of the Tacoma Dome did not exist. Last night, I was part of a sisterhood. Last night, is a night I will NEVER forget!!!

Photo courtesy of NKOTB

I arrived a little after 6pm, bought my ticket and stood in line, in the cold night air with hundreds of other grown women waiting for the doors to open to a night we've hoped would happen for years! I had floor seats, 25th row from the stage, 8th row from the platform . . . AMAZING!!

I can't even begin to describe how unbelievable the concert was! The guys were in rare form. Despite being in their late 30's, they performed like no time has passed since the last time they visited the Pacific Northwest. In fact, I would venture to say they were even better than they were the first time I saw them 18 long years ago.

The highlight of the evening, was when during a memorial number honoring people who have been lost, the guys unknowingly moved to a small revolving stage in the middle of the stadium. I turned around and they were not more then 10-15 feet away from me. Wow!!!

The concert was a perfect mix of new hits and old favorites. There were lots of lights, screen shows and even fireworks! The evening ended with a sensational encore, including a reminiscent rendition of Hangin' Tough in which the entire crowd joined in. Let me hear you now . . . Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh . . . Hangin' Tough!!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Pumpkin Progression

We took our annual trip to the Pumpkin Patch this morning. Like our trip to Seattle, this marks year number 4. This year, though, the Wells' were FINALLY able to join us. Because there were four couples and four cameras . . . there are A LOT of pictures to weed through so, for now, I thought you might enjoy a look at our little pumpkins through the years!! Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Seattle or Bust!

I learned from experience many years ago not to write a phrase like the one I've used to title my blog on a vehicle in which you are traveling. But I figured it was safe to use it here. As promised, here is the play-by-play and pictures chronicling our annual Mat/Rat Seattle road trip.

Really, it wasn't an extremely eventful weekend. We got a pretty late start out of town on Friday, en route to Gig Harbor to stay with my Dad. Saturday morning we were all treated to a delicious breakfast of Portugese sausage (imported from Hawaii by Jodi's parents), french toast and watermelon. We all got ready and headed into the Emerald City. After driving around in circles for about 20 minutes, we finally decided we'd risk parking next to a makeshift shack (complete with cardboard roof) in order to secure a free and relatively close parking spot under the viaduct. We got into Safeco just in time and were treated to six runs scored by the Mariner's in the FIRST inning alone. Much to our joy we prooved to be good luck charms this year and we watched the Mariner's beat the Oakland Athletics, 7-3. We made a stop at Pike's Place market after the game to take in some of the local scene, including flying fish. After grabbing a quick coffee treat, and manuvering my way out of a well earned, backed-in on a very steep hill in a minivan parking space (see picture), we headed back to Dad's place for dinner. All of us girls crashed early while the boys (Dad included) enjoyed their tradition of scotch, cigars and meaningful conversation on the back porch. Sunday was a lazy day. Another delicious breakfast and some football on tv and we were on the road again headed home. The girls were crashed out in the back seat within 1/2 an hour and slept until we stopped for a potty break and to switch drivers. By the time we made it back to Hillsboro, we were all noticeably exhausted. But! The trip was a great success and gave us all the chance at a little R & R that we wouldn't have gotten at home. Tammi and I agree, breakfast is much more pleasant when you are not the one planning, preparing and cleaning!! :)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Joy of Traditions Shared

When I was a kid, I remember one tradition very distinctly, each year at New Year's my parents and I would drive to the Oregon Coast (Lincoln City to be exact) from Eastern Washington and ring in the New Year overlooking the beach. Some years I'd stay awake, most years I couldn't keep my eyes open and then there was the last year, I spent the entire holiday weekend listening to Casey's top 40 review of the closing year and for some unknown reason, writing down every song in the order they had placed. That being said, I'm sure there were other traditions we had that I just can't remember but now that I am a parent, I've been fortunate enough to make some traditions of my own. This weekend celebrated one such tradition. . .
Growing up in WA, I was born and raised a Mariners fan. I started cheering them on in the Kingdome before my first birthday and have returned every season since. It was very important to me that this tradition continue with my daughter and thus, the annual Seattle trip with the Rats was born. This year was year number 4. The girls have been around for 3. Here's a look back through the last three years and how the girls have grown.

Stay tuned for scenes from the entire trip, including Pike's Place Market, Piko the wonder dog, story telling and backseat buddies.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Birthday Celebrations

My husband is notorious for throwing the most thoughtful (often secretive) parties for me for my birthday. Over the year's he's gathered my friends at the beach without my knowledge, at a friend's house and last year, he arranged an entire weekend of surprises in Seattle for me and my best friend (whose birthday just happens to be two days after mine). This year I told him I didn't want any fanfare so do you know what he did???? Absolutely nothing! Well, not nothing, he did send me roses at work (which scored major "gold stars" with all 4 of my co-workers) and accompanied me to dinner at Red Lobster! And do you know what . . . it was one of the best birthdays ever! Now don't get me wrong, the fanfare is great and I do LOVE to be surrounded by friends but this year, there were NO expectations, NO anxiety and NO big surprises (well except for the Fed Ex guy (who delivered my flowers) telling me Happy Birthday when I came out of the bathroom at work).

The birthday festivities started on Monday when we had a simple dinner of nachos with the Rats and small heart shaped cakes Kenton & Jillian had made. Three of which were adorned with lit candles for EJ, Tammi & I to blow out since we all have September birthdays.

The girls helped us to blow out our candles.

EJ reading to the girls.

On Tuesday, we had a small celebration at work. Sommer brought me sunflowers, Mona brought me coffee and Melissa made me special cupcakes. She's been taking a cake decorating class so my cupcakes were professionally decorated. And they were delicious to boot!!!

I was SO blessed by my very thoughtful co-workers who showered me with love all day!

Then Tuesday night, The Rats were gracious enough to watch Jillian so Kenton and I could go out to a nice quiet dinner. Thank you, Rats!!!

Thank you also, to all who sent cards and well wishes via MySpace and Facebook. It was a truly wonderful birthday this year!!!

Our Growing Girl

For those of you who only follow this blog for the pictures of Jillian . . . here is a post especially for you. Because a.) I like to show her off and b.) there's really not much to say about the circumstances. Here's some recent pictures of our 2+ year old treasure.

Jilly is fascinated with whatever is happening in the field next to our house. Usually it's a soccer game being played. She will sit contentedly and watch whatever is taking place. Every once in a while she will cheer. This particular night it was three teenage girls hitting a volleyball around. Watching the girls reminded me of when I was their age and my best friend Nicole and I would hit the volleyball of the roof of my house.

"Where'd it go???"

Some fountain fun from one of our family trips to the farmer's market.

She looks so grown-up to me in this picture with her buddy bear, Pooh.

We did pigtails this past week. I can't believe how long her hair is, I have yet to cut it.

CRC or bust

As I mentioned in my last post, we spent the weekend after Labor Day with my in-laws at CRC ( in the Silver Falls area. I highly recommend to anyone wanting to get away from the world and reconnect with Our Creator that you make a trip to visit Allan and Eunice amongst the trees. I can not even begin to tell you how filled with God this place is. Given first its secluded nature, then the hearts of its' leaders you can not deny that God is there as soon as you step foot on the grounds. All stays are suggested donation based and are customizeable based on your own desires for your time away. They have a wonderful kitchen staff that prepares three meals a day, you can partake in all three, only one or none at all. So, there is my 'plug' for CRC . . . but I digress.

My mother-in-law started planning last year for a getaway for her and her kids (and grandkids) and after looking at many different options, she decided that CRC would best meet our needs so to the mountains we went. I must say, the drive was longer than I had rememberd (but I had my newly purchased NKOTB cd to help pass the time (and a husband that agreed to listen to it. How's that for preparing for a weekend in serenity. Hee hee.). Anyway, the drive was worth it and we arrived as the sun was setting on Friday. We spent some time together with the family, Jillian was eccstatic to see her "COUSIN!!!!!" and the two of them had a great time getting reacquainted.

Saturday we had breakfast, the kids played a TON outside on the toys that were there and tackling each other (with Daddy/Uncle Kenton's help) betweent naps and meals. We played games, the kids watched movies and I got to do some reading & resting too.

On Saturday afternoon, we took the kids to Silver Falls with the intention of doing some swimming. The weather had been very nice but the water turned out to be ICE cold. So, we took Joel and Jillian to see the waterfalls instead. As a mother, I was terrified that somehow my daughter was going to manuever herself around or through the cautiously placed fences and barriers and plummet to the tidepool below. She, on the other hand, could not figure out why she couldn't touch the cascade of water from above despite the fact that it was oh 10, 15, 20 feet in front of us with nothing to venture out on between us and the water. I swear sometimes the child thinks we have go-go-gadget arms hidden in our sleeves or something. :) Either way, it was a great day for a small hike and we got some pretty good photo ops. Unfortunately, Aunt Tia wasn't feeling well so she stayed in the van and grandma missed out too, napping back at the cabin.

On Sunday I was reminded of one of God's greatest gifts . . . maple butter!!! I had forgotten this CRC treasure. If I had to make a guess, I would say it's a combination of butter, maple and brown sugar and it is to die for. This particular day, it was served to us with our french toast and it was melt in your mouth heaven!! Delicious!!! After breakfast and packing up on Sunday, we all headed into Woodburn together and had lunch before parting ways and getting Kenton back to work. It was a wonderful weekend with family and we are already looking forward to next years' Mattos family getaway.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Nemo, Boat Coats, Jilly Driving, Oh My!

A few years ago, my mom and step dad purchased some property on an island in Puget Sound. It is a beautiful place with a small store, one restaurant, a golf course and three lakes. It's completely secluded and the people are very friendly. About a year ago, the "parentals" as my sister and I call them, purchased a two bedroom "cabin" on the island.

A couple weeks ago. I told my mom all I wanted for my upcoming birthday was to spend time with her and my step dad, at "the island" and go out in the boat. So she invited us to come that weekend to celebrate my birthday. So Jillian and I headed up to WA (Kenton had to work) and spent Labor Day weekend with my mom and David.

While waiting to board the (very crowded) ferry over to the island, Jillian decided that every person she came in contact with was her cousin. Because I had told her that we would be seeing her cousin, Joel, the NEXT weekend. To our great surprise as we were walking back to the car from using the potty, Jillian stopped next to an unknown vehicle where a young boy was standing. She excitedly approached the boy, arms outstretched and yelled "Cousin!" with immense joy. It was absolutely hysterical. I had to remind her all night long that everyone she saw was NOT her cousin. :-D

The weekend started with a parade on the island where Jilly collected a ton of candy. A small carnival followed at the community center where Jilly got to jump in a bounce house, got a tattoo (temporary, of course) and got to sit in a real fire truck (unfortunately the cameraman was getting a soda when this happened so we don't have any pictures of it).

The above picture was taken because I (Mandy) made the mistake of telling Jillian that we were going to ride on a boat like the one Nemo touched (Nemo's a pretty big thing in our house). So Jillian spent the ENTIRE weekend looking for Nemo. While we were on the ferry, out the back sliding glass door of the cabin, while we went on a walk, out on the boat. Everywhere, all we heard was "Nemo." "Nemo" "Nemo" The picture above was the closest Jillian got to anything even remotely Nemo like.

Back at the cabin, we enjoyed grandma's delicious cooking, played tackle with grandpa, saw two families of deer crossing the back yard and celebrated my birthday with a delicious birthday cake.

The weather was beautiful all weekend and we were able to go out on the boat both days. While we were out on the boat Saturday and Sunday, we saw seals, seagulls and even an otter. Jillian got to wear her brand new "boat coat" in the boat. She didn't like it so much at first but she got used to it and even now after being home for two weeks, when she sees pictures of her self wearing her life jacket she will still say "Jilly Boat Coat."

Grandpa let Jillian help him drive the boat.

She did great. She loved sticking her hands in the water over the back of the boat and she especially liked the "up and down" when we ended up going over other boats' wakes.