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 (www.christianrenewalcenter.org) 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.

Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks . . . .

For those of you who don't know, I have the honor of working for a wonderful lady named Kay Green. Kay owns a business called My Precious Kid (www.mypreciouskid.com) which she started 7 years ago, in her home. Until June, she was almost exclusively an online merchant selling child safety and baby gear products. But business was picking up and we were significantly outgrowing our space in her home's basement so she decided to take the leap into renting an office space. We now have a storefront in downtown Hillsboro where we see multiple customer's a week face-to-face while still shipping out 30+ orders a day.
The perks of my job go far beyond the normal employee benefits package. I work with all Christian women. All of them mom's. I get to have the fellowship and support at work that I've always longed for but never been able to have. It has been a joy to watch this wise woman at work, making decisions that benefit her family, her employees, her business AND the Kingdom of God. I am learning so much from watching the other mom's as well. It has been a great time of healing and growth for me in so many ways.
Anyways, my whole point in writing this post is not only to introduce you to this great business that strives to protect our kids, but also to share with you some pictures from our most recent employee outting. Miss Kay, as we call her, was kind enough to purchase tickets for all of the employees and their families to take in a Portland Beaver's baseball game together, she even treated us to dinner. So, here are some pictures of my work, my co-workers and our fun night out at the Beaver's game. Enjoy!!

Got this idea from Roo. It looked like fun.
I DO have a bunch of stuff that I need to update with but that all takes thought and this didn't so, I'll do this first and hopefully tonight I can get the other stuff taken care of.

The Questions:
1. What is your first name? Mandy
2. What is your favorite food? Marshmallows
3. What high school did you go to? Olympia High School
4. What is your favorite color? Purple
5. Who is your celebrity crush? New Kids on the Block
6. Favorite drink? Grape Kool-aid
7. Dream vacation? Fiji (my love to Pookie)
8. Favorite dessert? Grasshopper Pie
9. What you want to be when you grow up? Business Owner
10. What do you love most in life? My Family
11. One Word to describe you? Waiting
12. Your flickr name? moogymouse (nothing came up so I chose white space)
13. What do you want most out of life? Peace (of Mind)

1. In Memory Of Mandy..., 2. marshmallow, 3. High School Girls Room - 2/22/08, 4. Purple fingers, 5. new kids on the block, 6. Invisible Grape Kool Aid, 7. Fiji, 8. grasshopper pie, 9. 365 Answers About Human Resources for the Small Business Owner, 10. My family, 11. Waiting for the Sun, 12. White silence ..., 13. Peace of mind...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Let's Hear it for the Boys . . .

The five hardest working 'kids' in show business are back! And life is good!!