Sunday, November 30, 2008

Our Boost to the Economy and Other Black Friday Adventures

We actually did it and lived to tell the tale.  As I previously reported, Travis talked us into getting up before dawn on the day after Thanksgiving  and heading out to the stores to check out the shopping frenzy that is Black Friday.  Here is an abbreviated play-by-play:

We left Bob and Debbie's house at 3:30 a.m.  Our first stop was an absolutely necessary one: Starbucks.  From there we watched the lines grow and snake around Best Buy.  Some crazy shoppers had actually been camping in tents outside the building since TUESDAY!!!!  Forget Thanksgiving, it was ALL about the deals.  No need to comment - I'm sure we're all on the same page about that.  We drove around checking out the lines at the other stores in the area.  The one that made us laugh was the three Asian people standing outside Staples.  Looking for doorbuster office supplies - ha, ha!!  From there we ventured to Target.  The line was just beginning to form at 4:45 for the 6:00 a.m. opening.  At this point Travis bolted and we were helpless to stop him.  He was getting in line.  He started interviewing people as to what it was they were standing in line to get, and decided he would do the mad dash for Guitar Hero for Wii.  There was no talking him back into the car, so one by one, we joined him in line.  I was totally impressed with the organizational team for Target.  There were plenty of security folks to keep order and the store was reorganized to prevent any stampedes (sounds like WalMart could have taken lessons.)  Travis was second to obtain his acquisition and we were out quickly.  From there we were off to J.C. Penney as I had my eye on a doorbuster leather jacket.  Mission accomplished.  By that time we needed sustenance, so grabbed a quick breakfast.  Brief stops at Kohl's and Sears (one Christmas gift checked off).  Overall, most everyone was good natured, the store employees very helpful, and supplies were plenty.  There was one rude honking incident when someone couldn't get to Kohl's as quickly as they wanted (which also incited my husband to drive VERY slowly through the parking lot while Whitney and I shouted, "Get out of his way before he jumps out of his car with a gun or something."  Keith assures me he had an escape plan if that had actually happened - yeah, right!).  

The moral of the story:  we actually had fun watching the people and even doing our part to boost the economy.  I might even be convinced to do it again - at least if we are in a place where there is tax free shopping.  There's something extra enticing about saving that extra 8%!!!

Schmonlin Thanksgiving

We had a joyous Thanksgiving with the Schmid and Franklin families.  Bob is Keith's "other brother" and he, Debbie and the kids are just like family, so it was great fun to spend the holiday with them.  We were also joined by another family who are friends of the Schmids - 14 in all.  As predicted in a previous post, there was a LOT of cooking, clean up, football and napping, but it was all great fun and we were very THANKFUL to be able to share it with great friends and family.  Bob had to go back to work (he's a pilot for Horizon Air) on Friday, but we had fun with Debbie, Landon, Kaylin and Kyra.  It was extra fun to be around the kids as they decorated the house for Christmas.  

Our weekend also included a quick visit with our niece, Rachel, her husband Mike and their girls.  We hadn't seen them in a long time and it was great to visit with them, catch up with their family, see their lovely home, and even have some fun with all the crazy dachshunds who are also members of the Salter family.  We would have loved to have had more time to spend with them.  

As the saying goes, "Time flies when you're having fun."  The weekend went WAY too fast.  There's just never enough time to do everything and see everyone we would like to.  We missed having Alex with us - just didn't seem right without him there, but road trips with Whit and Trav are always great fun for us.  

And now we look forward to Christmas.  While we were gone Alex set up the tree and brought in the boxes of decorations.  So many good times to anticipate and more holiday stories to blog......

Monday, November 24, 2008

I Can't Believe What I Can Be Talked Into...

Those of you who read regularly know that my son-in-law is one of my favorite people and because I have such a soft spot for him, I have a very hard time telling him "no" to anything he asks of me.  Thanks to Trav I now know more about football than anyone needs to because I watch practically ALL the games while running Stat-tracker, keeping track of not only MY Fantasy points, but everyone in my league's Fantasy points.  It's a crazy obsession (don't say I didn't warn all of you about my latent competativity).

So his latest request challenges all my rules of ideal shopping.  While in Portland, he wants us to get up pre-dawn to hit the stores on Black Friday and people watch.  Not necessarily intending to purchase anything, but just to watch the people go nuts over what they perceive to be unresistable deals.  First of all, I am not a morning person.  I generally am not fully awake till sometime around 9:00a.m. and only after at least two cups of coffee.  Let's just say I'm a slow starter.  And my perfect shopping experience involves going to the stores when they are LEAST busy.  I pretty much refuse to go to Walmart, but if and when I do, I like to go late at night or in the middle of the day on a Monday when I think the fewest amount of crazy Walmart shoppers will be there and the lines will be reasonable in length.  But Trav tells me this will be FUN!  I'm not too sure about that part, but I am game to give it a try this once. Because he asked me.

Report to follow.....

Attitude of Gratitude

We're looking forward to sharing a Schmonlin Thanksgiving in Portland with The Schmid and Franklin families.  Bob and Debbie and their kids are like family to us.  We can't wait to spend some time with them and the fact that the Franklins will be with us will make it even more fun.  We also hope to see Keith's niece and her family while we are in town.  Our plans also include some crazy early morning tax-free shopping on Black Friday, a trip to Ikea, heading to Newberg to see a couple of Whit's college roommates and who knows what other adventures we might undertake.  It will be a fun family getaway.  

Thanksgiving to me is more a daily mindset than a holiday.  Sure, it's nice to take a day to be especially thankful to God for His love and care for us, but it often ends up being a lot of work for the cook and cleanup crew, overeating till we can barely move, watching football, and taking a nap.  Somehow that picture doesn't necessarily reflect the attitude of gratitude that I want to portray.  Since I am a firm believer in making celebrations last as long as possible, maybe we could all think about having WAY more "thanksgiving" days throughout the year.  If not that, maybe we could just be better at openly expressing our thankfulness every day.  I think that would bring more glory to God than one holiday.  I'm going to work on that - how about you?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Granddog Sleepover

The Cones and Franklins are looking forward to a Thanksgiving weekend getaway to Portland (except Alex who may be abandoning us because he can work all weekend here in town  :( ).  One of the downsides (and there are more than one, mind you) to being dog owners is that you have to figure out what to do with the dogs when you leave town.  Our dogs are adults now and can be left with minimal supervision in our back yard.  However, Whitney and Travis's dogs are basically still youngsters and tend to get into mischief when left alone.  What one doesn't think of to get into, the other one does.  And without mom and dad at home, they tend to bark (doing the watchdog thing), which makes the neighbors less than happy.  

It would not be a problem for them to stay in our backyard with our dogs except that we leave access to our garage for our dogs and if Chloe and Ali had the same access, the entire contents of the garage within reach would probably end up in the backyard.  Keith suggested we put them in what used to be our pygmy goat pen and barn.  In order to make sure that this situation will work, we're doing a test run.  Chloe and Ali are coming to spend the night.  This is not exactly the kind of grandchild sleepover I had pictured when Whit and Trav got married, but I do greatly enjoy time with the granddogs.  If this works, it could be the answer to the doggie dilemna.  

I'll keep you posted.  

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Those Wise Guys Had it Figured Out

Every evening the news seems more dismal in regards to the current U.S. economy.  Dropping stocks, unemployment, mortgage foreclosures, bankruptcies.  And to top it all off?!  Consumers are actually planning to spend LESS for Christmas this year.  Can you believe it?!  People are out of work and they are cutting back?  Who would have thought?!   Imagine not being able to purchase new game systems for every child.  How can people live without all the latest electronic gadgets?  How shocking to think that some won't be able to purchase that GIANT hi-def flat screen complete with blue ray dvd and 842 channels!

Okay, I confess to sarcasm in case you didn't recognize it.  I know the recession is hurting a lot of people.  I know some have lost their jobs or are losing their homes not because of bad choices, but because of someone else's bad choices.  I have the greatest sympathy for those folks.  I've even BEEN those folks.  But in my humble opinion, a lot of what is going on is a correction that needed to happen.  Granted, this is a hard way to do it.  I'm concerned for the average American family who is taking the brunt of the mess.  But maybe, just maybe, if we had cut back a few years ago, it wouldn't be so traumatic now.  Maybe if we had been better stewards of God's provision along the way and not succumbed to the materialistic bent of our nation, it wouldn't be so scary right now.  I am not, of course, referring to any individuals, but to our nation as a whole.  We blew it and now we are paying for it.  Now it has snowballed to the place where modest spending for Christmas is resulting in store closures, job losses, bankrupt malls, and on, and on, and on.....

I like Christmas gifts as much as anyone.  And I'm sorry if my cutting back affects the economy negatively, but getting back to the basics where joy came from the simple things and it was about more than the gifts doesn't seem so bad to me.  And if I have to buy less stuff so that I can give more to others, I can live with that.  I'll be praying for those of you who are struggling financially and are trying to figure out how to eat, let alone shop this Christmas.  May it be the richest Christmas you have ever known.  Remember the fact that though the kings brought gifts, it wasn't at all about the gifts, but about the worship.  And that doesn't cost a thing.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Christmas Anticipation

I am totally already in the mood for Christmas. It is my favorite holiday hands down and I embrace so many aspects of it. I love that it is all about that one special life - a baby like no other. But I also enjoy everything else that comes with the celebration of the birth of Christ. I love the music, the decorating, the card exchanging, the gift giving, the gatherings, the Christmas sweaters, the cookies, the church services, the family times.

I think part of the reason I am already jumping to Christmas even though Thanksgiving hasn't come and gone yet is that at Timberview where I work, we start making plans for Christmas in early November. Another reason is that I see it in all the stores and I have already done a good chunk of the shopping. I start making my Christmas cards in November so I have time to get them all done. My first official Christmas gathering will be at Kim's house on Saturday.

Some of you may think it is WAY to early to get enthused, but I say, "Let's make the best celebration of the year last as long as possible." Some may have the opinion that we should avoid all the secular so that we don't lose focus of the meaning behind the season. I say, "It's one of the most important times of the year, let's embrace ALL of it while keeping Christ at the center." Some would say that it's just another day. And I would say, "It's just the most important day (along with Resurrection Day of course)."

And so for me, it begins. I can't wait to put up the tree, bake the cookies, wrap the gifts, sing the carols..... It's all a big ol' party for a most amazing Child.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Very Full Social Calendar

This was a week all about spending time with people. I am not generally a social butterfly and though I have lots of meaningful relationships, I'm not necessarily one who socializes every night of the week. This last week included a visit from my sis and bro-in-law, a bunko night, "tea" with Kathryn, a card-making party at my house, Christmas shopping with Whitney and Kathryn, dinner at Olive Garden with Whit and Trav, and small group. PHEW! Definitely great times all around, but now I am ready for a down day. I read a book once that suggested that introverts get their energy from having solitary time while extroverts get their energy from being with people. I am definitely more the former than the latter. Tomorrow I intend to sleep in, drink coffee in my p.j.s till I feel like showering, finish a book I started on the plane to Baltimore, do a little laundry, and reorganize my craft room while listening to Christmas music. My idea of a nearly perfect day.

I can't resist reporting that I had an outstanding Fantasy Football week, finishing first for the week and moving up three spots in the league. This is due in part to the fact that Whitney took pity and gave me her number two quarterback, Kurt Warner. I feel a teeny bit guilty that she had a lousy week, but not too guilty as she is still at the top (though being challenged by Keith who has been in hot pursuit for several weeks now). My success was not solely based on that great trade since most of my players finally all had good weeks at once. I probably can't expect it to happen consistently since, after all, it is a game that is predictably unpredictable. But for this week, I am doing the happy endzone dance.

We're looking forward to spending Thanksgiving in Portland. It will be a Schmonlin (Schmid, Cone, Franklin) holiday with side visits to family, friends, and Ikea. Hoping the nasty Gorge weather holds off till we get back as we have had some pretty interesting trips through there this time of year.

Next will be all the prep for the Christmas season. I'm already in the mood and have over half of my shopping done. I can't wait!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sunshine on My Shoulders Makes Me Happy

Isn't that a song title? Yes, I can hear it going through my head right this minute. "Sunshine almost always makes me high..." Okay, well it is a 70's song. Anyway, today is warm and sunny with a light breeze. It doesn't feel like fall! There's just something about a sunny day that makes EVERYTHING better. I feel positively giddy!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Predictably Unpredictable

So Fantasy Football has become my new fall distraction. As I have previously mentioned, I knew it would become practically an obsession for me as I have difficulty with failure and I am fairly highly competitive when it comes to games of any kind. I don't mind losing occasionally, but I don't like getting demolished so to speak. I have been known to quit a game in the middle if there is no hope of being at least to some degree "in the game". But though I've been in the cellar virtually from day one, I have hung in. Allowing the computer to pick my players was my first big mistake, and despite my valiant efforts, I have been unable to snag any of the "big guns". Mediocre players seldom become great overnight, though there have been some bright moments between injuries that continue to give me enough hope to keep playing.

So, what have I learned? I have learned that Fantasy Football is a game that is predictably unpredictable. Just when you line your players up just so, someone falls down and hurts themselves, or has a bad day against the defense, or winds up in court for a drug charge, or as soon as I drop them they start scoring like crazy. Like this week, for instance. Bernard Berrian, who scored over 30 points last week, just didn't show up in the game this week. Not one single catch - therefore not one single point. Jake Delhomme, my QB who has been at least consistently mediocre, scored 2.94 points. How do you strategize THAT?!

However, there is something to be said for being a part of the game. Hope springs eternal for some unknown reason. Maybe next week I can move up a place. Maybe next week, ALL my players will have a good week. Maybe my daughter who is WAY in first place, will take pity and trade me her back up QB who is second in the league in scoring behind her starting QB (and she did!). I'm shooting high - 5th place (okay maybe that's shooting TOO high....)

And so all of this rambling to say WHAT, you ask. It's just that I have noticed that Fantasy football is much like the rest of life. We never know what's happening next, what's coming down the pike, what next week might bring. There are injuries, bad days, tough defenses, dropped passes, penalties..... But there are also the touchdowns. And those make it worth playing the game. Not too profound, I know. But sometimes the simple analogies are the easiest to grasp. Jesus told the Church at Philadelphia to "hold fast", keep playing, don't let the injuries get you down because the touchdowns are coming. Okay, so He didn't say it just like that, but I think that's what He meant. That I can do.....

And I can live with the fact that life and fantasy football are predictably unpredictable because eventually there are the touchdowns and even the Superbowl.....

Monday, November 10, 2008


I can't believe we're headed into mid-November. Thanksgiving is just around the corner and Christmas after that. My calendar is already starting to fill with holiday happenings.

This fall has been one of mixed feelings. Some of my friends have gone through life's toughest moments. Being friends with them means experiencing the great sadness and struggle. And on the flip side, there have been some really great times this fall. The fact that we haven't had snow yet (knock on wood or whatever you do to prevent it happening after you mention it) helps my spirits immensely. I always struggle with the days being so short and having to bundle in winter gear. This fall has been mild. I have spent some quality time with friends and family. I had a delightful day yesterday cooking with Whitney as Keith, Travis and all of our dogs (there are five when the granddogs come to visit) hung out. It wasn't anything particularly special or unusual, it was just satisfying. I feel blessed and thankful for much. I am content.

Christmas is one of my very favorite times of the year and I'm already looking forward to the decorating, gatherings, church events, time with family. Yet I am very aware that Christmas will be hard for those who are missing someone special. I remember very clearly the first Christmas after we lost Brandon. Painful more than anything. I am thankful that those are memories now and Christmas brings so much joy and contentment.

About mid-January I will need to be reminded about contentment. By then I will likely be tired of the snow and cold. By February I will need to start noticing that the days will be getting longer. By March I will be able to see spring on the horizon and count the days till that first 60 degree day. In the midst of winter, I will look for those satisfying days like yesterday.

Contentment - that will be my goal in the months ahead.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

History in the Making

Having just returned from visiting Washington DC and being effected by the profound history of the things that I saw there, the election scene tonight seemed more important somehow. I remember passing by the Whitehouse just a week ago and thinking, "Get ready - the new folks are on their way." I was so struck by Lincoln's words at his memorial and how what he did during his presidency eventually allowed for an African American to go all the way to the top.

Whether or not we agree with the outcome of the election, we can't deny the remarkable juncture in history that has taken place tonight. And whether or not we agree with the views of our new president, we can't deny that it is an important moment in time for a country that has been racially divided virtually it's entire existence. Unlike many voters, I don't believe President Obama will be the answer to all of our country's woes. But I am grateful that a great barrier was broken and we never again have to question whether the color of someone's skin sets limits on what they are capable of doing in this great and free nation of ours. And because I believe what I believe, I will respect the office of the presidency and the person of the president for the next four or more years. I will pray for his leadership and the decisions he will make. And I will always remember this night as one that made a significant impact on history.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Answer to The Ailing Economy

I think mostly I am in denial about the economic state of things. I refuse to even look at our 401K statements. Often it's a challenge to pay our usual bills while paying college tuition at the same time. Seems like everytime we get a little ahead, something breaks. Keith's medical bills this year have been a burden - even the 20% copays add up.
But I refuse to worry about money. I refuse to let what I think I need rule my thoughts and actions. I have determined that everything we own is really God's and it will all burn one day anyway. Pastor Glenn gave a great sermon this morning about putting our trust in the One who owns it all. He doesn't let the birds starve, nor will he let us starve. Sometimes there is the temptation to skip our tithe check and "give it later". Later never happens.
So while the bills keep coming, the cars and appliances continue to break, the medical bills show up in the mailbox, I refuse to worry. I can do what I can do and let God do the rest. Scripture tells us not to worry about tomorrow as each day has enough trouble of it's own. Amen to that. Denial is sometimes not a bad thing.....
I love these words that Pastor Glenn used to close out his sermon today:
The Ticker on Wall Street isn't looking so great these days.
But here’s how the ticker on God's economy reads today.
God’s character today: Perfect and Unchanged.
God’s patience today: Endless and Unchanged.
God’s heart for a hurting world: Enormous and Unchanged.
God’s moral compass: Steadfast and Unchanged.
God’s love for you: Amazing and yes -- Unchanged.
The market may have dropped, but nothing in Heaven has changed today. God is still sovereign. Jesus still sits on the throne at the right hand of His Father. He is our solid rock – our unwavering anchor and our only true hope in a worrisome world. Now more than ever I challenge you to Trust in Him.