more than a survivor

Happy October!

10 years ago my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer…during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

10 years ago.

10 years.

She’s a survivor.

Actually, she’s more than a survivor.

She is a loving, creative, beautiful woman who beat breast cancer.

She’ll be getting one of these beautiful Lisa Leonard Designs for hope necklaces.

You can order one, too…personalized just for you…or your mom…or sister…or mother-in-law…or friend.

home is…awareness, hope, and more than surviving.

life at the lake

the kids, my parents, my sister, my niece and i spent a week at lake pend oreille in beautiful northern idaho.

the first night, reece was throwing his hook into the water…

at the lake 1

by the next day, he was catching fish all by himself with one of topher’s mepps spinners!

at the lake 5

at the lake 6

at the lake 7

uncle buzz and aunt michele have tons of water toys at their lake house…

at the lake 29

at the lake 28

at the lake 27

at the lake 26

reece and sasha got out on the jet skis with topher and uncle buzz…

at the lake 25

while lorelai played on the beach with meme.

at the lake 24

at the lake 23

at the lake 22

reece also go out on one of the hobie cats with uncle buzz…

at the lake 21

and meme got some time on the water, too.

at the lake 19

my 95 year old grandfather was up there with us, too. he couldn’t make it down the stairs to the water, but enjoyed the view from the patio…

at the lake 18

at the lake 8

my parents rented a house for all of us about 6 miles away and we ate dinner there every other night…it was a way for all of us to have some quiet time, but we still had a beautiful view of garfield bay and the lake.

at the lake 9

i ran three times while on vacation…this was my halfway/turn around point on my first run.

at the lake 10

and, here is where it ended (near the house where we were staying).

at the lake 11

running errands by boat is awesome…

at the lake 12

at the lake 13

on sunday, topher took my sister and i into town by boat so we could do a little birthday shopping for sasha. the girls rode into town with us and back to my aunt and uncle’s house with topher.

at the lake 14

at the lake 16

at the lake 15

reece and sasha made the trip back to town with topher to pick us up.

at the lake 3

at the lake 2

returning to the lake house, we were greeted by these two little dock dogs…lily and elmo belong to my cousin and his wife…

at the lake 30

that’s my cousin, greg…

at the lake 36

and, this is his beautiful wife, natalie. our first visit to the lake was for their wedding last august. they just celebrated their first wedding anniversary! (you can see the posts from their wedding here, here, here, and here)

home si

at the lake 32

at the lake 33

we took the boat out to watch greg on the air chair…he makes it looks way easier than it is.

at the lake 34

you can see topher on a jet ski in the background…marley, who is the original dock dog, was sad that she couldn’t come on the boat, so he took her for a ride on the jet ski.

at the lake 35

at the lake 37

i can’t wait to see the go pro video of all my cousins giving it a try next week (we missed their visit by a week…maybe we can all be there again together next year)!

at the lake 38

we celebrated the kids birthdays…july 5th, august 1st, and september 8th.

at the lake 40

and, watched the baby bald eagle…

at the lake 39

watch us.

at the lake 41

at the lake 43

at the lake 42

the days of playing on the lake melded together…slow, relaxing, fun…i have more photos and video on my phone that i think i will need to add in another post.

at the lake 50

looking good for 95…

at the lake 52

we took the boat into town for dinner and were joined by my cousin and his wife.

at the lake 51

uncle buzz, topher, meme, and aunt michele…a good looking bunch that make this family fun possible.

at the lake 53

at the lake 55

at the lake 54

seriously, life is good at the lake.

at the lake 57

at the lake 58

saying goodbye is hard, so instead i say, “see you next time.”

home is…one of my happy places.

{through the rearview} old photos new life

throw back thursday


flash back friday.


either way…


either day…


people post older photographs on instagram.

it might be a year, or 10, or 30.

about a month ago, i was cleaning (on thursday, i clean), had to put something away in the attic, and pulled out two photo albums.

one my sister made for me.

the other was one i just put together with photos my mom passed along to me.

the kids loved looking at them.

and, to do anything to procrastinate (did i tell you i am a procrastinator?!), i posted a couple on instagram.

it’s fun.

and, you know what it reminds me of?

timber falls

that i had an awesome childhood.

car hood

that is why i do what i do for my children.

it is fun to have fun.

to go on adventures.

learn something new.

play with friends and family.

i’m going to use these photos, and many more, to write some posts about my childhood.


i think it will be fun.

and, it’s fun to have fun.

home is…being reminded of my childhood.

saying no

This morning we were supposed to board a plane and head to Colorado to visit my family.

Ryan suggested the idea and I came up with the plan.

He has a meeting in California over the weekend, so we figured that the kids and I could go to Denver and visit family.

We would go for a long weekend and attend the National Western Stock Show & Rodeo just like my sister and I used to when we were little.

We would visit with family and friends we haven’t seen in months.

I even printed out all the addresses for the Goodwill’s and other thrift stores in Denver.

It was all planned.

We were checked in for our flight.

And, it just didn’t feel right.

As much as I wanted to go all the signs were telling me that it just wasn’t right.

Lorelai has been sick, the weather was calling for freezing rain right when we were supposed to head to the airport, my body was losing the battle against the unending barrage of germs that it has been fighting off since the holidays, and I was not looking forward to flying through Seattle to get to Denver by myself with the two kiddos.

Yesterday afternoon I called my mom and let her know that we were planning to come, but would keep an eye on the weather…there might be flight delays.

Within minutes of getting off the phone Lorelai threw up in the kitchen. I’m pretty sure it was caused by a coughing fit, but that was the last sign I needed.

I cried, I thought, and I finally decided that we couldn’t go.

Ryan got on the phone with the airlines and canceled our tickets.

I called my mom and let her know we wouldn’t be coming.

The last two times I have visited Colorado I have been sick.

March 2010, we visited for Spring Break. While we had a wonderful time when we were there, I was fighting a cold the entire visit and ended up with walking pneumonia when we got back.

Thanksgiving 2011, I had Laryngitis the entire time. And, Lorelai was sick both times.

I decided to say no.

No to myself.

No to the plans I had made.

No to traveling alone with the kids while we are not feeling well.

I was afraid of disappointing everybody…my parents, my sister and brother-in-law, aunts and uncles, cousins, my niece, and Reece & Lorelai.

But, I had to say no.

home is…taking care of my family.


I’m not “beating myself up” for not getting this post up sooner, rather, I just would have liked to get it done the day my parents left.

The day I wrote it.

Just like I wish I had all the time {and energy} in the world to do everything I need AND everything I WANT to…everyday.

Life doesn’t work like that.

So, we make choices.

We make choices to let things that are important to us go so that we can do things to make other people happy.

We make choices to do things for ourselves and let other things go knowing that we might disappoint someone else. 



And, most important, forgiveness.

Moving on…better late than never.

the day before thanksgiving

Nine years ago, on the day before Thanksgiving, a very special dog came to live with us.

Oak was one of a kind.

She made everybody that she met feel like they were the most important person in the world, but I was her most important person.

She came to me at a very difficult time in my life.

After I had a miscarriage.

After I found out my mom had breast cancer.

After I walked in on a burglary in progress at our home.

We went everywhere together.

She even got to come to work with me when we moved to Oregon…sat right under my desk.

This year, on the day before Thanksgiving, I looked out the front window as I was talking to my mom.

I had spent the morning at the kids school and was trying to finish things up around the house before they came to visit. I had just gotten caught in a freak rain and hail storm while bringing wood into the garage for the fireplace. There was one clap of thunder and that was when I decided to head inside…I’m not a fan of thunderstorms.

As I looked out the window I saw a mud covered yellow lab running down the street. I told my mom I had to go get it and ran outside.

I called for the dog, but she didn’t hear me until I got right up behind her.

When she realized I was there she came running to me and just followed me home…running under the garage door as it opened.

She reminded me of Oak.

Sweet, happy, and older.


I dried her off, but she was too dirty to come inside. I took her water and gave her Odyssey’s dog bed.

She had a collar and tag, so I called and left a message.

Eventually, her owner called.

She asked if there had been thunder, and I said yes.

Kassi, as the dog was called, was afraid of thunder and would dig out of the yard to “get away from it”.

Oak was afraid of thunder, too. We would snuggle together during thunderstorms in Colorado.

In some way, Oak was giving me a little visit on the day before Thanksgiving.

It warmed my heart and made me smile.

and, finally, thanksgiving

{as written 10 days ago}

I dropped my parents off at the airport today.

The table that was filled for every meal the last 6 days is empty.

It’s quiet.

memories were made

As they are everyday, but there were special ones this week.

We celebrated our first Thanksgiving in our home.

We’ve been in this house for almost 5 years, but we’ve never celebrated Thanksgiving here. We were in Colorado last year and have been blessed enough to have wonderful friends and neighbors who have invited us to be a part of their family celebrations other years.

Each morning we woke up to a warm fire in the fireplace that Ryan had started before everybody woke up. Not sure if he just stayed up all night, or if he got up extra early. Either way, we all enjoyed waking up to the crackle and warmth it provided.

You see, we talked to my parents about converting our gas log kit back into a wood burning fireplace and thought it might be a project they could help us with.  Little did they know we had already hatched a plan with a neighbor who helped Ryan out in trade for our gas log set that he wanted to convert his wood burning fireplace to a gas fireplace. We had a chimney sweep come clean and check our fireplace and chimney, and the Friday before Thanksgiving week we had 3/4 cord of wood delivered. Lorelai and I spent most of the day filling our radio flyer wagon and stacking as many logs as we could before the downpour started here in Portland. I stacked almost 1/2 cord of wood to fill the log rack we bought, and left the rest for Ryan which he stacked in a steady rain on the Saturday before Thanksgiving in our unused dog run.

but i digress

We shared our own tree cutting tradition with my parents at Sleigh Bells in Sherwood.

oh christmas tree

The kids even got to “see” Santa, but were not yet ready to sit on his lap. We peeked around Christmas displays, but kept our distance from the man in red.

Our tree was up and decorated in record time with help from my parents and the kids. We actually put our “real” ornaments up this year…not the plastic and paper ones I used the last 4 years! Collected since we were married over 12 years ago…personalized…and, just like when I would decorate the tree with my mom, a story about where each one came from.

We made homemade pizza for dinner, drank wine, and enjoyed introducing my parents to Reece’s (and my) favorite, American Pickers.

Saturday morning, we took a trip to one of our favorite places for breakfast. Nothing fancy, but can you believe my parents have never eaten at Panera?! I know there is one within a couple blocks of my dad’s office because I used to go there when I worked in the same office 13 years ago! The kids love sitting by the big table next to the fireplace and for once I did not feel awkward taking up a large table for 8 because we actually had 6 to almost fill it! We split off into the “girl’s car” and the “boy’s car” to go the the craft store and the sporting goods store, respectively. That afternoon we got out of the house and caught another glimpse of Santa at Bridgeport Village. The kids, again, did not want to see him, but Ryan and Topher both made sure that they were not on Santa’s “naughty” list.


The unanimous decision was made to order takeout for dinner, so we had a cocktail at PF Changs while waiting for our lettuce wraps and lemon chicken to enjoy at home.

On Sunday, the boys went out to Sauvie Island and shared the Catlin family tradition of a Thanksgiving weekend duck hunt with Reece for the first time.


When they got home I asked Reece what he thought of going duck hunting with Poppa and Topher.


His reply was, “Best.”


I think he liked it.

Lorelai, Meme, and I spent the morning together creating gingerbread masterpieces, searching for the perfect princess nighties (for Lorelai), and trying a new recipe with some of the Thanksgiving leftovers.

post hunting nap

post hunting

The afternoon was spent relaxing by the fire, snuggled under quilts, watching football. Eventually we made a trip to Whole Foods to get more food and wine (like we needed it) and threw together another great meal of crab cakes, salmon, chicken satay, steak, and roasted vegetables.

Monday morning we raced to get the kids back into a regular routine. It is Reece’s turn to be Star of the Week, and although we had four days to prepare his Sharing Box and other information, we were pulling it all together before 8:30 on a Monday morning. The items were strongly focused on hunting, as the hunt from the day before was fresh in his mind.

While the kids were at school for a couple of hours, the adults ran some errands, got cleaned up, and turned the last of the leftovers into a delicious potato turkey soup that we all ate for lunch.

We had a great lunch together before Ryan had to leave to work in California for the week.

Tuesday was a very special day. We took lunch to Reece to be a part of his Star Week. We brought burgers from Burgerville and sat in the gym to eat with his class. He even saved a special scooter to ride around the gym with him. I could not keep up with those 5 years olds…they move fast!

sharing a shake

hoop walking




After lunch we were able to spend a few minutes in his class when I was able to read a letter that Ryan wrote about what we think is special about Reece, and Reece was able to introduce me, Lorelai, Meme, and Topher to the class.

red bike

After that excitement, we scooted to the car to drive Meme and Topher to the airport so they could get back to Colorado.

Hugs and kisses…and quiet.

Memories were made.

home is…thanksgiving with meme and topher.

{lake pend oreille} celebrating greg and natalie

It’s the Monday after returning from a week long vacation that was amazing.

We celebrated my cousin Greg and his beautiful new wife, Natalie.

We reunited with first and second cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents, parents, and siblings.

It was magical.

I won’t recap everything in words as I believe that the photos will speak for themselves.

The first night we arrived was the rehearsal dinner in downtown Sandpoint…



The following afternoon was the wedding on the shores of Lake Pend Oreille…

Cousins, aunts, uncles, siblings, grandparents.

More to come…

home is…celebrating family.

UPDATED: fires in colorado

Source: via stephany @ on Pinterest

Gosh, they scare me.

My parents, aunt and uncle, and many friends live in the foothills west of Denver.

I also have cousins and an aunt and uncle who live up in the Vail Valley.

Source: via stephany @ on Pinterest

As of right now, they are safe.

That could change in an instant.

Did you see that 32,000 people have been evacuated near Colorado Springs?!

The fire doubled in size OVERNIGHT!

Huge fires are burning west of Fort Collins, Boulder, and Colorado Springs.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of houses could be destroyed this summer.

If I could send the rain and cool temperatures that we have been “enjoying” here in the Pacific Northwest to Colorado I would in an instant.

Please pray for Colorado.

Please pray for rain.

Please pray for my family, friends, and their neighbors.

How can we help?

Please visit this website.

I will post more information about how we can help from out of state as I find it.

home is…praying for my native state.

spring break is here

And, so is Meme!

My mom is visiting for the week.


The weather is supposed to be rainy.

We’re going to do some crafting, some shopping {thrifting}, and some hanging.

So, I may, or may not, be blogging.

For now, I will leave you with some of my finds from recent thrifting adventures…

Yahtzee…from 1961.

A beautiful globe…

And, a metal toy top…

home is…a bright and happy spring break (even if it’s grey and rainy)!

making a list…

Checking it twice…

This morning I am making a list of all the things I need (want) to get done before Christmas!

We had a wonderful time in Colorado despite the fact that the majority of us were sick the entire time.

I lost my voice the day after we got there and didn’t get it back until the day after we left.

Oh well.

I wanted a “do 0ver”, but the most  important thing was spending time with family and that is what we did.

The kids played, we saw deer and elk, and there was even a 10 minute snowstorm the night before we left!

So, now we are moving on…

Our lights are up outside.

I just ordered our holiday cards.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

home is…going home and coming home.