Welcome to Our Blog

Our hope is that this gives you all a chance to see what we're up to these days.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The tradition continues: early morning snuggle time

The tradition continues: early morning snuggle time.
A typical morning at our house. Parents get up (and yes, you all now know I have a vice...my fuzzy zebra bathrobe...not sexy on me but oh so comfy), make my coffee...and while my coffee is percolating, two little fuzzy heads emerge from their room. I hear the door crack open and the shuffling of little feet. It's a dance we've perfected over time. They come in...say nothing...and I set my paper down while they quietly find their places on my lap. We lay there snuggling and not opening our eyes until we hear the coffee pot perk on the stove and then we open our eyes and let the day begin.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

An interesting conversation between kids

Sibling love. And looking at fish at the pet store.
Recently, our two children were sitting together at our dinning room table playing with Play-doh when we happened to overhear a conversation of theirs that caught our attention. Here's how it unfolded...

Finn: "Jeremiah, do you want to marry me?"
Jeremiah: "Yes sissy I do...I want to marry you."
Finn: "You can't marry me because we are brother and sister."
Jeremiah: "What?...Yes I will, I will marry you."
Finn: "No, you can't because brothers and sisters can't marry...if they do they will have weak babies."
Jeremiah: "Oh. Weak babies?"
Finn: "Yeah they won't be well...that's why if we marry I will have to get spayed."

Okay...that was an interesting conversation to have been privy to! And the conversations they have when they think no one is listening really crack us up! Just a normal afternoon at the Osborne-Gowey zoo.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Hooked on fishing and the great outdoors

On the mighty Willamette River!
Today, my daughter and I went on a date. Just to spend a little time together. Connect. Life's been a bit crazy for her since...well, since her brother was born, since mummy's business took off, since Papa went back to school, since she started at another school, since...you get the picture. When she was an infant/toddler, we used to get a lot of time just her and I. And we still get some time, but not enough to satiate either of our thirsts.

So we took half a day to just be together. And it rocked! Figuratively and literally.
Finding agates and quartz along the riverbanks.
After seeing me head out fishing several times in the recent weeks (early one morning here, late one afternoon there), she'd started asking me to take her steelhead fishing, too. And I had promised I'd find a time. Today was that time.

And let me tell you, she was excited!

Truth be told, so was I.

We packed her pole, my fly rod, some snacks, plenty of warm clothing and headed south along Highway 99 for places yet to be explored. We peered through the fog at geese hunkered down in foggy farmers' fields, played the animal guessing game, talked about school (and a bit of misbehaving in school last week), and just let the discussions ebb and flow as they may. After about twenty minutes, we found ourselves around Old River Road and decided to drive the back roads looking for a couple of County Parks that had thus far eluded us. In all the dense valley fog, they still eluded us. So we landed at one of our favorites, Irish Bend County Park.

We grabbed our gear and headed upriver toward a familiar gravel bar, wondering what adventure awaited us ahead. The water was running low for this time of year so we had our pick of spots along the bar. We found a spot that looked good and set down our gear. I asked Finn, "Are you ready?!" to which she replied, "Yep, but let's collect some agates first." So off we went in hot pursuit of semi-opaque rocks.
Oh the beautifully structured nonconformity of a gravel bar.
After a while of searching for and finding lots of various sized and colored agates and quartz crystals, we decided it was time to wet the lines. Finn set about her casting with aplomb, zinging her teardrop bobber and fly half way across the river with nearly every cast (she's been a pro caster since the age of 2!). Eventually she got her line a little fouled up and brought it to me to fix. I had her hold my fly rod while I untangled it. I could see her looking at my rod/reel with interest and she wondering aloud if she could fly fish sometime. I assured her she could and asked her when she'd like to try it to which she responded "Right now!" I asked her to wait for just a minute so I could finish untangling her line. I set about the task of releasing the knot in her line totally absorbed in my task only to be jolted back to reality with an incredibly piercing pain in my lip. I look down the bridge of my nose and am astonished to see a size 2X bullet head wooly bugger protruding from my lip, the recognition slowly dawning on me that this fly looks strikingly similar to one of the ones I have tied to my fly line. A fraction of a second later, the pain piercing my lip crescendos in rhythm as Finn continues whipping my fly rod around, wondering where the fly went.

It all happened so fast, I could hardly believe it. But there I was, attached to the end of my own fly rod at the hands of my beautiful daughter. I held the line firm, slowly tugged the hook to see how deeply it had set (it was fully through my lip) and hoped beyond hope that I had remembered to pinch the barb down. Luckily, I had so the extrication was without issue...except for the blood spurting from my lower lip. I looked up at Finn to see a look of shock, horror and mild bemusement on her face. I assured her that I was OK but it must have been met with disbelief as the look on her face wasn't one of comfort. We had a brief talk about listening to parents and unintended consequences, I washed my lip off and we both had a good laugh about it.

At this point, we decided to hang up the rods for the day, which was probably a good thing since it was so cold we'd had to keep breaking our lines free from our line guides as they would ice up every few casts. It was her first (but surely not last) experience with her line guides icing up. In her words, it was so cold, "It feels like my hands are dead! This is awesome!" But before we left, I wanted Finn and I sit down at the river's edge, in quiet, and just listen to the sounds for a few minutes...see where our minds wandered. I told her that this was one of my favorite things about being on the river, just letting my mind clear itself and wander. So we did. At one point, she asked me to close my eyes to listen. I obliged. Then we shared our thoughts. She was reminded of the sounds from a multi-day rafting trip down the John Day River a couple of years ago. I was washed over with emotion thinking about how much I love this wonderful creature that Cat and I brought into this world. She looked into my eyes, smiled, gave a muted giggle and hugged me.

Melt. My. Heart.
Listening to what the river has to say.
We beat feet back to Corvallis and I tried to convince her to have some spicy Mexican food with me but she had her heart set on a hand-spanked Painted Hills Natural Beef burger and fries from Block 15's menu. Reluctantly (riiiight!), I obliged. And was glad I did because the waitress captured a wonderful shot of Finn and me. We tweaked the image in Instagram because Finn wanted a "black and white, older look". We were both happy with the outcome. And I was pleased with the French Cognac barrel-aged Louis le Whopper craft beer I had with my spicy chicken grinder sammy and mushroom/sage soup of the day.

It was a winning day, all around. Gosh I love this girl...
Lunch date at Block 15
In answer to your question? No, this experience will not keep me from sticking more fish lips. But I AM glad that this little lesson for Finn seems to have stuck.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Homeless Christmas, the Art of Giving and the Biggest Little Heart

Finn and Aleita at the shelter
This last November, Finn came to Cat and I and asked if she could do something for the homeless during the cold snap and holiday season. We said "Sure!" and set to work figuring out how to help her accomplish her mission. But she'd already given it some serious thought. She wanted to have a booth set up downtown for all the homeless to come by and get free hot chocolate or coffee. And she wanted me to dress up like Santa Claus, have each and every homeless person that came by sit in my lap, she'd take pictures of them and print off the picture and give it to them so they could smile and feel warm, if not outside, at least inside in their hearts. Cat and I were stunned at her thought process but I felt somewhat uncomfortable with the thought of grown men and women with whom I was unacquainted sitting on my lap (although I do have a pretty close person space, but somewhere between that and lap-sitting, I draw the line).

Regardless, we set about contacting people that might be able to help us get Finn's idea off the ground. We unexpectedly, and to our disappointment, ran into road block after road block...which only made us want even more to figure out how to make it a reality. Finally, after being put in touch with Aleita Hass-Holcombe, a wonderful lady that runs both a homeless shelter in town and the Corvallis Homeless Shelter Coalition, the ideas started bubbling forth. We eventually settled on creating gift bags for each and every bed at Corvallis' largest homeless shelter, a men's shelter, and making extras for a local women's shelter.

Decorating gift bags

Finn and I went to numerous local businesses asking for help in donating items for her gift bags - socks, candy canes, fruit, cookies, etc. Given the rapidly approaching holiday, we weren't too surprised that most had already spent their December charity budget but the fine people at our local Fred Meyer asked us to come back in a day and they'd work something up for us. We returned the following day to find they'd donated a $50 gift card toward Finn's endeavor so we promptly purchased 56 pairs of socks - on sale, of course! - along with purchasing some paper lunch bags, candy canes, boxes of cookies and some fruit and giddily trolloped home with our loot. Upon arrival home, we learned from Cat that at least three generous people from our home church - Corvallis Mennonite Fellowship - had also come forth with small cash donations, fruit, cookies, socks and offers for help stuffing. Our cup runneth over!
"Lord wash over me" decorated bag

Finn, Cat and some other friends spent the better part of one evening artfully decorating each and every paper lunch bag, delighted with thoughts about how they would be received. At one point, I asked Finn what she was writing on a bag and she said, "Just a prayer". On the bag, she had written, "Lord Wosh Ovr Mey" (Lord, wash over me). I was astounded and so very proud of her. All I could do was get misty-eyed and give her the biggest hug. "Is that a tear of joy, Papa?" "It sure is, Finn. It sure is."

The Sunday before Christmas, we took all the goods with us to church to get an assembly line going for stuffing each bag. So many of our church family had donated socks, fruit, and some friends had even brought four dozen freshly baked cookies to stuff. Needless to say, with so many hands, the assembly line lasted all of ten minutes and everything was done, Finn watching over the whole process like a mini-general, happy as a peach blossom on a warm spring day.
Finn and some of her gift bag collection

The following day, Christmas Eve, we drove downtown and met Aleita at the men's shelter. We'd had discussions with Finn about homelessness before, explaining reasons why people might be without the loving home we have. She always drinks in these conversations, asking some questions but mostly processing them. Upon our arrival at the shelter, Aleita introduced herself to us and thanked Finn for thinking of the homeless and acting on her heart's desire.

She said she wanted Finn to know about each and every person and she showed us how they log in at night, where they put their stuff, and, as Finn or little Jeremiah placed a gift bag on each bed, shared something personal about each man (James likes artwork, Henry is a trumpet player, Will has three grown children, etc.). It was a very touching hour as we visited with her, learned a little something about each person and placed a lovingly-crafted gift bag on each bed.
Placing gift bags on the beds

Finn and LJ reading the sign-in sheet

As we were getting ready to leave, Finn and little Jeremiah noticed a new basketball near the front door and pointed it out. Aleita said she was glad Finn had reminded her about something. Someone had apparently let the men know that a six year old would be bringing a little gift by for each of them. One man, remembering that he'd liked basketball at that age, found a brand new basketball that had just been given to him, decided to gift the ball to Finn. She was beside herself! She couldn't believe someone who didn't know her would do something so loving. To which Cat and I looked at each other with a twinkle in our eyes, and said, "Why not? You just did something very loving for many people YOU didn't know?!"

Aleita giving them the basketball

What an amazing child. What a rich life.

"For when I was hungry, you gave me food; when I was thirsty, you gave me drink; when I was homeless, you gave me welcome." Matthew 25:35