Family Vacations

For as long as I can remember our family had a thing about vacations. They were always educational and always dealt with a long car ride! Every other year (sometimes every two) my parents would take me and my sister to places like; Crater lake, Montana, Old ghost Towns, Mining towns, Yellowstone National Park, and even a couple times Mount Rushmore with a stop at an old West Town here and there.

One of our vacations when I was 6 years old. Believe this was at Virginia City, Montana.

One of our vacations when I was 6 years old. Believe this was at Virginia City, Montana.

 

As years past and we got older, my sister moved out and I was left alone with my parents to vacation. One year we did the normal vacation and the next we did something a little outside of my Dad’s comfort zone. We took a trip to the Rouge River in California and got a jet boat ride. It was such an awesome ride and my dad finally got to experience something that was a more “touristy” thing to do.

Many years later, when my husband and I lived in Florida, my parents flew down and visited us for Christmas. While they were there we took them to Disney World. My dad never wanted to go to Disney World. He was just not that time of vacationer, but we demanded it. So we went and he had the blast of his life! He may talk as if he had no fun at all, but he’s a sarcastic ol’ man. The photo is us all in our ponchos!! Yes Ponchos. Dad didn’t want to get wet and we didn’t either. Just cause Florida is warm doesn’t mean it can’t be chilly every now and then.

Crazy fun on Splash Mountain!

Crazy fun on Splash Mountain

 

Now, in 12 days to be exact, Jon and I will be leaving for California to meet up with my parents, Sister, Brother-in-law, Nephew, and our kids at DISNEYLAND!!  We are so excited!  This will be one huge family vacation and I can’t wait!

-Jay

Frozen Heart

Today’s “Throw Back Thursday” is courtesy of the Disney movie “Frozen.” My husband and I watched it for the first time last night. I thought it was ‘cute’ which is code for ‘it was okay’. I gave it 3 of 5 stars. It’s just my personal opinion, people, no need to try and tell me how wrong I am… It’s MY opinion.frozen

Anywho, moving on. If my memory serves me correct, it was Veteran’s day, and we had the day off of school and it was 1992. My mom had my brother and I for the day and she decided to take us out to the movies.

Ben (said brother) and I were super excited to go see Home Alone. It looked hilarious and it is what I wanted to see without question. There were other new movies out at the time, but that is the only one that interested me. There were cartoons, but I was ‘too old’ for them and then most of the others I was too young for.home alone

My mom drove us from the mountain (Mt. Hood) into Gresham, which was about 40 miles. It felt longer. We get to the theater and to my complete and utter disappointment we were in fact NOT going to see Home Alone, but she was taking us to see Aladdin.

Needless to say I pitched a hissy fit because cartoons were beyond me. I was a grown up in my eyes. Even at the age of 11. I refused snacks in protest (which I’m sure my mom was fine with– saved her some money) and we went to the movie. We had already drive all that way. We might as well go see it.aladdin

With arms crossed and what seemed like a permanent pouty face, we sat down. It took less than ten minutes for me to get into the movie and to this day it is my favorite Disney film. I loved the music, the story, the humor, and the everything.

It’s been years since I have seen it, but wouldn’t mind checking it out again for old times sake. Another amazing Disney flick to me is The Lion King. Nothing beats these two in my eyes, and that it what I judge all Disney movies on.lion king

I liked Frozen. The first half of the movie was boring to me. The songs were mediocre. I much prefer the music and singing from Tangled. ‘Frozen’s’ saving grace to me was Sven and Olaf. I did like the originality of the movie though. One star for originality, one for Olaf, and one for Sven!

~Kaysven

Dreams and Wishes

Growing up I think it is safe to say that the majority of us are dreamers. When we are young we think about all the different careers we could have or who we want to be. Tell me, out of all those dreams, which ones have you achieved?

I remember gowing through grade school being interested in so many different things; Horses, cats, Panda Bears, Killer Whales, singing, acting… the list goes on. The older I got, the more detailed these interests became.

I believe it was around middle school that I wanted to be a marine biologist. It could’ve been that I watched Free Willy one too many times, but I had a genuine interest in that career. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t completely genuine. There were parts of that job that I really wasn’t wanting to deal with. For example, gutting fish. I have been fishing many times, however gutting a fish was my dad’s job. It took me a few years of fishing to just get used to baiting smelt to fish for sturgeon on the Columbia River. Also, the smell really bugged me. The main thing was that I wanted to work with Killer Whales. Because that entailed the above duties, I quickly grew out of that phase.

It wasn’t long after that I thought about another line of work. “What about astronomy?” Well… what about it? I enjoy looking at the stars and glimpse the vast expanse of our universe. There wasn’t much about this job that I would dislike, although the college career path did seem a bit daunting. Although I never became an astronomer, it his a hobby and on clear nights I will set out my telescope and gaze at the great beyond. Too cheesy right?

Next came being a storm chaser. Oh the thrill of danger awaiting the next on coming storm, hoping to release Dorothy into the sky to collect data… oh wait, that’s Twister. It is what got me interested in it. In fact, during High School there was a time where we had to job shadow someone in the career we were wanting to go into. I chose to job shadow Katy Brown – Meteorologist of NW Channel 2 news KATU. I don’t remember much about the shadow, aside from getting to tour the studio and see where the “magic” happened.

This dream did not last for long. It wasn’t until my Sophomore year in High School with my Creative Writing teacher Mr. Mendenhall, that I even thought about writing. I mean I wrote small stories before this, but didn’t have a true connection with it. When I took that class and submitted my first story (a horror story about a young girl who sees herself after she dies), Mr. Mendenhall told me I had potential. I kept writing, but never thought about it as a career.

From the beginning of my grade school years I loved to sing and act. I was in many church and school productions, and sang a solo almost every year. This is what I wanted to do the rest of my life. I’m not sure exactly how old I was (i’d have to ask my parents again) but there was a time where my family and I would go eat at Calamity Janes. Every Wednesday and Friday they would have someone come and perform. It was all country music and I had memorized almost every country song on the station at that time. One day we were there and the guy sang “The Auctioneer” while I sang along at my table. He walked by, hearing me, and so did the owner of the restaurant. During the break they asked me if I would like to sing with them or on my own for a little on one of those days. I really wanted to do it, but my Dad thought it would be best for me to turn it down. Was that the best move? I don’t know and I’m not going to live a life full of regrets because of it. However I never stopped dreaming of that. Still haven’t. I don’t want to be famous. I just want to share it with others.

I now write. Yep… I am writing right now. This is what I ended up doing and I could not be happier. I love it. It frees me! Good or not, I enjoy doing it and I’m not going to stop. So what if I didn’t become a Marine Biologist, Astronomer, Meteorologist, Actress or Singer!  That didn’t stop me from enjoying bits and pieces of each of those. I love Killer Whales, looking at the stars, watching storms roll in, act and sing.

Here’s the thing, just because the dreams you once had are not what you have today, does not mean that they did not make you who you are today. Remember… whatever you do, don’t stop dreaming or wishing!

-Jay

 

Tattooed Memories

There are many people who have left a huge mark on my life. Quite a few of them are my best friends that I wouldn’t trade for the world. Then there are those who I only knew for a day or two yet the memory of them lingers on.

Back in 2001 I had enlisted into the US Navy. The process was quick. Before I knew it, they had put me up in a hotel the day before I was to head to basic. Those that were heading out from Portland, OR spent their day at M.E.P.S (Military Entrance Processing Command) being sworn in and getting the last of the paper work done before leaving.  There were four of us that were leaving from Portland. Me and three guys. The Officer in charge of our cases handed me a manila envelope that held our plane tickets and pertinent information for when we arrived in Chicago, Illinois. He put me in charge of the documents and I wasn’t complaining. The four of us were going to spend the next day and a half with each other, maybe even longer if we were placed in the same division.

Although the four of us were stuck together, only one of the guys and I actually become friends. He had a slightly darker complexion then me (really isn’t that hard to do  since I am quite pale), dark brown hair, and a scar on his chin (if I’m correct). We spent the entire night before leaving, talking about what we were expecting, when we decided to join, and just getting to know one another. We walked along the river side in the back of the hotel on Jantzen Beach and ate dinner together.I don’t remember when we went our separate ways to our rooms to sleep, but I do remember not getting a whole lot of sleep that night.

When we woke up the next morning we found each other and sat on the bus together. We arrived at the airport and my parents, brother-in-law, sister, and 3 year old nephew were at the gate. This was before the attack on the Two Towers, so security was a bit more lenient. The four of us sat together at the gate waiting to board. My heart was pounding and I was tired from the night before. I wasn’t sure if I was scared about my future or the flight there. It was my first time on a plane. The flight was non-stop and 5 hours long. When we boarded, my friend and I got to sit together on the plane while the other two sat across the aisle from us. I was sitting at the window seat looking out, my hands gripping the arm of the seat. He looked over at me as I was almost in tears. He told me that I could lean on his shoulder if I wanted to. I remember smiling and agreeing to that offer. When the plane was finally in the air I leaned my head on his shoulder and fell asleep.

We stayed together the entire time from the landing in Chicago, the waiting for our bus, the bus ride over to ROTC, and even when we were standing in the line in front of the Officers. We didn’t talk much during this time but we would continually glance at each other. It was as if we were speaking without speaking. We had been placed in different divisions which meant separate rooms for the first 24 hours of Basic. The room he was in was right next to mine with a glass wall in between us. Every now and then I would look over to see him. He’d looked at me and give me a small smile. That was the last time I ever saw him

I owe him so much. I don’t doubt that God placed him there with me to help get me through some of my roughest moments of my life.

I may not remember his name, but his face is forever tattooed into my memories.

I will never forget him.

-Jay

My First Pen Pal

I was either fourteen or fifteen years old, so we’re looking back at around late 1996 or early 1997. I was utterly smitten with the entire concept of boy bands. It did not matter much who they were. I loved them. I did tend to stick with the classics… New Kids on the Block, Backstreet Boys, and NSync were definitely at the top of my list. For this story, though, it was mostly about the Backstreet Boys.

I can still remember the first time Jen and I saw the music video for “Quit Playin’ Games with My Heart.” As I was writing this, I couldn’t help but YouTube the video. I needed a good laugh this afternoon! Because I enjoyed it so much, I wanted to share it with you as well.

 

Anyway, let us stay on track. So I started searching the internet (which was VERY new to me at the time) looking for a pen pal with similar interests as me–mainly including the BSB. Over the next several months I received dozens of letters from across the globe from fellow fans. There was one that stood out to me. Her name was Helena. She was from Norway and she took the time to write me a six page letter. I was impressed. She was a couple of years younger than me, but that didn’t matter. Not really.

We started writing each other and it was as if I found a long lost friend or sibling. We clicked instantly and we never ran out of things to say. We received letters from each other about once a month. It probably could have been more than that; however, when we wrote, we wrote short novels to each other.

At minimum our letters were 10 pages (front and back) long. I think the longest was close to 30. Several years after we started talking we somehow lost contact, or our interests changed. I don’t actually remember the exact reason. I don’t have any of her letters anymore nor do I remember her last name. Helena would either be somewhere between the ages of 28 and 30. I have no idea if she is still in Norway or is traveling the world.

I don’t think there is even a way to track her down with that little bit of information, which leaves me a bit sad. For many years, she was my best friend and I told her absolutely everything. It is a very fond memory. My letter writing with her also helped me to realize that I wanted to write.

Maybe someday our paths will cross again.

~Kay

For the Love of Animals

It saddens me to say that at this moment in time I do not have any pets. However, even though i do not have pets at this time, I am always reminded of the many pets I have had in my life time. Call me a sort of foster home for animals if you will. They usually never stay with me long, due to certain circumstances, but they have always had a good home to go to later.

When I was young we had a black cat named Kittyrow. She had 6 toes on her right front paw. My family found her as we were driving up the mountain one day. We brought her home and nursed her back to health. Unfortunately our landlord would not allow us to have a pet so we gave her to our cousins who lived out in the country side. It was not until years later that I was able to have another animal.

During my first marriage I ended up with a calico kitten. I named her Reeces. She reminded me a lot of the coloring from Reeces’s Pieces candy. She disliked my husband. Anytime he would sit near me and she was around, she would hiss and try to scratch at him. There was even a night where he woke up to her clawing at his back because he got to close to me. At one point we moved in with my parents and she came with us. My first husband was a truck driver, so I went on the road with him for two weeks or so. My parents then took her to the Washington State Humane Society. I was very upset that this happened, but I also understood that they were not wanting to be responsible for her.

After my divorce, I wound up with another kitty. This one was one of my favorites. I know I have some photos of him somewhere, just not sure where. Anyway, this one came from Kay. She had found him at a farm store that had not been taken very good care of their animals. If I remember correctly, she was not allowed to have an animal at her place of residence so I agreed to take him. We named him Capt’n Jack. He walked very wobbly, like he had too much rum. My dad even grew accustomed to Jack. So much so, he didn’t want me to give him up. There was an older lady at my church who lost her husband a year prior. She was looking for a pet and so I offered her Jack. She took him with open arms and a loving heart.

When I met my husband now, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into. He had 3 cats and one Chocolate lab. There was Zipper (the oldest and stripped kitty), Bob and buttons (brother and sister), and then Hershey (the lab). Half way through Jon and I’s first meeting Bob and Buttons had a “bit of fun” together and ended up having kittens. There were three but the youngest passed on just after birth. The two buttons had we named Jasper and Alice. When I moved to my husbands place there were 5 cats in total. Zipper never got along with Bob or Buttons and it got worse when the little ones came along. We gave the kittens to a friend of mine from Portland and Bob and buttons went to a farm :). They were originally farm cats anyway.  When we got married we had Zipper and Hershey.

Sadly, when the time came to move to Florida we were not able to bring Zipper with us. She was old and probably would not have made the trip. Instead we gave her to an older couple who kitty sat for us at one point. She is still there living happily with them.

When we bought our house in Florida we decided it was time to get another kitty. We picked up a kitty from the humane society. The first cat that made an impression was a calico kitty named Tally. She was about 6 months old. Our biggest fear was how she would get along with our puppy. Turns out, she was quite comfortable with him. Even trying to get him to play at times. Tally stayed with us even during our trip to Massachusetts.

Since I have been married and have had to move so many times, we had to make an extremely hard decision. In order to save money to get our kids out every summer we needed to lower our rent, this meant moving to an apartment. The apartment we moved to was not allowing pets. A sweet family came for Tally who is now happy and having fun with their little girl. Hershey, our puppy, went to a family in Wisconsin. He is doing so much better than what he was with us. He now has other Lab buddies and gets a lot more attention then we were ever able to give him.

As much as we wished to have kept them, we knew it was for the best, but I will never forget them. Any of them!

Tally!

Tally

HERSHEY!

Hershey

Tally And Hershey!

Tally And Hershey

Bob, Buttons, Jasper, and Alice

Bob, Buttons, Jasper, and Alice

The Other Side (of the family)

My Throw Back Thursday post is not directly about me, but about the patriarchal side of my family. I was recently shown this picture via Facebook of my father’s side of the family. I only have one picture of my Grandpop and maybe one picture of my father. This is the first time I have ever seen him as a teenager. In a lot of ways, he is exactly how I pictured him. Long hair and all.

nana and grandpop

In the back row from left to right is my Dad (Mark), Nana, Grandpop, and Aunt Barbie. The front row was Aunt Linda, Aunt Karen and Aunt Donna.

Mark and Karen are biological siblings and my Grandpop Charles was their father. Nana brought her children (Linda, Donna, and Barbie) into the marriage. I was really young when this happened and they have always been real aunts to me instead of step aunts. It saddens me a bit because over the years we have pretty much lost all contact (aside from a like or two on Facebook) after my parents moved my brother and I from Jersey to Oregon.

I would love to connect with all of them again in the future. I have many cousins that I have yet to meet and they are fully grown.

Here’s to the future!

~Kay

Dumbo, Disney, Daddy

In the winter of 2011, while my husband and I still lived in Kissimmee, FL, we flew my parents out to spend a week with us and Christmas in the sun! It was my moms first time flying on a plane so it was quite the adventure for her. I was very thankful they decided to come out and see us. Usually they are quite stubborn and don’t really like to travel like they did. Their travel consists of a car and Yellowstone National Park.

Since we lived so close to Disney World, we thought it would be a great chance to make Dad go to a place he had never been. He tends to stay away from huge touristy attractions like that. We told dad about a week or so before they left that he would be going to Disney World while visiting. He didn’t have a say in it cause we had already purchased the tickets. Needless to say he went. It was like watching a little kid go to Disney for the first time. His eyes were as wide as golf balls while his mouth seemed to never close with all the ooo’s and aaahh’s that escaped. My mom had been to Disneyland so there was not as much that was new to her, however she acted the same way. Dad rolled around in one of the electrics scooter’s almost running people over in the process.

One of my favorite times with him was at the Magic Kingdom. Since I never got to go to Disney as a kid, I wanted to experience a ride that I could do with just my dad. As we walked into Fantasy Land, there stood the flying dumbo ride. That was it!  That was the one we had to ride. So we did. I wished I could’ve taken more photos of this, but the ones we have are absolutely priceless.  No matter what, I will cherish that moment. It still brings tears to my eyes!

Jay and Jay's Daddy on Dumbo!

Jay and Jay’s Daddy on Dumbo!

 

Mom and my husband were in a different elephant taking the picture. My dad’s face was just hilarious!

Come the end of June we will be going to Disneyland in California with my parents, Sister, Brother-in-law, Nephew, and my two kids. One big family vacation. I can’t wait to take pictures there of all of us!

Hollywood Studios with Jay and Jay's Parents!

Hollywood Studios with Jay and Jay’s Parents!

 

-Jay

This Time, Last Year

This time last  year I had hit one of my biggest life milestones. After working on and off (more off than on) for nearly 14 years, I finally completed my Bachelor of Arts degree focusing on English and Creative Writing through Southern New Hampshire University.

To put the 14 years into perspective, by the time I started SNHU in 2011, I was going in as a Junior which meant I had two full years to go. This was the first time I was in school full time, and I thrived on it. It was also timed well that I didn’t have to work at the same time as focusing on my school, which allowed for more time to study.

It was a beautiful program. I had my favorite teachers and my challenging ones; however, but the end of the experience, I felt like a better person because of it. My degree did not come until the beginning of June. It was worth the wait.

Why was it so important to me? It’s because I did something (even though it took me a long time) that SO many people told me that I could not do. I’m glad I was faced with the adversity. It made me a stronger person.

Kay graduating Summa Cum Laude, 2013.

Kay graduating Summa Cum Laude, 2013.

And this next picture is how my heart feels today, even amid waves of pain.

heart flowers

Visit from a Friend

In 3 days (more like 2 since this day is almost over) I will be flying to Tennessee to visit with Kay!!  I’m so very excited about this trip and so thankful that her husband and her have done this for me. This visit makes me think back upon a trip I made to Michigan to see her. We had an awesome time that week. We got to go to a living museum (I believe that is what it is called) where there are houses from back during the civil war era and actors dressed up in costume walking around and even went to Hell! Hell, Michigan that is! She even took me to this huge Christmas place and this German village. We stayed in a hotel for a couple nights and had such a great time!  One thing that sticks out is this pond area in this small town. It was so quaint and beautiful, all I wanted to do was just sit on a bench and write. We should have!

I know this TBT is a bit on the short side, and I do apologize for that. Unfortunately my mind is so focused on this future trip I can’t seem to think about anything else!  So excited to see KAY!!

-Jay