g-r-r-r-r-reat!

Eating Frosted Flakes took on new meaning when I saw the pictures Taylor shared of his and Beth’s adventures in Thailand.

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I guess living in Iraq wasn’t dangerous or exciting enough.

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T’s face tells me he’s trying to work up the nerve to reach in to touch.

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Beth appears fearless. Or crazy. One or the other.

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Wrong.

What’s really wrong are the snake pictures I won’t be sharing.

I guess this was on someone’s bucket list, so I won’t comment further. Except to say I think it’s time for them to come home.

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catching up

As I tested out my camera for an afternoon photo shoot, I snapped this:

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It’s what happened to be on my desk at the moment. The manuscript for a book about food. I’m also reading John Grisham’s new book about life in coal country. I will keep alternating them until I reach the end of both.

And because of this I have nothing to write about.

Yawn. Maybe you should take a turn here. What would you write about?

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halloween fun

While a couple of our grandkids have graduated from dressing up for Halloween to dressing up for prom, these six (plus two parents) still enjoy the costume fun.

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Way out in Philadelphia, Oscar dresses as a paleontologist. He “digs” dinosaurs!

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Paul is a viking from Arizona, not Minnesota.

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It’s no surprise that Cassidy and her joined-at-the-hip friend Maycee would want to be Thing 1 and Thing 2.

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And through no preplanning (that I know about), Cassidy’s cousins here in Oregon, Sage and Brynn, headed downtown to trick-or-treat as Thing 1 and Thing 2. The Seuss-y parents tagged along.

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And finally the caboose — No! he’s the conductor! I wish you could hear him shout (with his inside voice): “ALL ABOARD!”

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double or nothing

We wondered if Mauri’s need for back surgery might mean we’d have to miss out on what has become a Thanksgiving tradition—building a house for a family in Mexico. We hoped he could get by with the simpler stenosis surgery, but the doctor’s verdict landed on the more complicated surgery, the kind with hardware. So he will wait until after he has fulfilled several commitments through the end of February.

Now that we know we get to go back to Juarez, the planning wheels have begun spinning. Oh, how I love to plan! (Mauri would warn you to stand back.) This will be our fifth trip, and each one stands out for its unique qualities. My highlight from last year’s trip was handling the mountains of diapers and formula that folks had donated through a huge MOPS fundraiser, a parking-lot sale, birthday party “in-lieu-of” gifts, a Muslim woman Q met through Craig’s List, financial gifts—to name only a few. Here—let me show you.

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Loading the trailer to get the donations down to Juarez takes all hands on deck.

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Once there, all of the Babies of Juarez donations are “posed” for the picture to be shared with the donors. Then it all gets moved to the storage room.

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This is my best highlight—the camaraderie of fitting everything on the shelves. Quinn’s face should give you the idea.

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It takes many hands to get the job done. But isn’t that a beautiful sight?

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Oh the joy of knowing babies will thrive because of this effort! It’s true, my friends.

Quinn has a big heart for helping to feed and diaper the babies of Juarez. She’s rather shy about it, doesn’t toot her own horn, but her efforts and influence have brought about significant decrease in the mortality rate in the seven years since she learned about the need—and acted on it.

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This shows how much the mamas appreciate the help offered through Babies of Juarez.

You probably think I got sidetracked. Nah. I was just leading into the offer you can’t refuse. I’m hoping you can’t refuse.

You see, in Quinn’s letter to us about the Thanksgiving build, she wrote: “My daughters and I just returned from an especially wonderful trip to Juarez, so we’re all the more excited about this November trip. We took a supply of diapers and formula, but not enough to hold them through the winter. If you have any connections for supplies, such as hospitals or pediatrician offices, etc. please ask them for supplies. (They’ll usually give you their expired or expiring soon samples, which is a huge help.) We want to look after the babies well!”

Carrying big boxes of diapers and heavy cartons of formula on the airplane doesn’t make sense. But we can buy supplies with financial gifts once we’re down in El Paso.

Here’s our idea: a donor has offered to match our gifts up to a thousand dollars! I’m not sure if she’ll double your dollars or you’ll double hers—either way the babies get twice as many supplies. To make this “deal” even sweeter, Babies of Juarez promises that every single tax-deductible dollar donated is spent on diapers and formula; not a single cent goes toward administrative costs. Just think what Dorothy’s dollar added to your dollar will buy!

You want to help—I know it! Here’s what you do: Just click on this link and follow the simple instructions. However, to make it known this is a matching gift, indicate “Dorothy’s match” on the check. (If you follow the “Just Give” link, please know that Babies of Juarez is included under “The Shepherds Way” 501(c) (3) private non-operating foundation.)

Who’s gonna help us refill those shelves?

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orcas island

As a thank you to Mauri on his retirement, the NFC elders and pastoral team gifted him with two nights at The Salish Seaside Escapes on Orcas Island, one of the San Juan Islands in Puget Sound. It took him a while to decide who to invite to share it with him, then finally settled on me!

First we had to get there. It isn’t a terribly long drive up there, but we needed to time our arrival around the ferry schedule. There are no bridges to and between the islands, which means to get there you either fly or swim or boat it. We chose the latter.

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So we drove up to LaConner for the night, but arrived around 3 to enjoy the richness of the small town. That’s our hotel on the other side of the street—Hotel Planter.

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We schlepped our stuff up a long flight of stairs because who needs an elevator? That factored into the charm.

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We were assigned a room at the end of the hall—#13 of 13 rooms.

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It overlooked the patio.

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Rather than treat you to the traditional view-from-our-window shot, I thought I’d treat you to my view from the toilet. Ha! These rooms are built for very tall people.

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On our walk through town to our chosen restaurant we had to stop and admire this doggie in the window. You’re singing the song, aren’t you? Me too.

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I need to remember to go to Yelp and write a review on this restaurant. High marks!

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How often do we get to eat authentic Italian food?

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The next morning we were on our way in. . .rain! We’d expect nothing less.

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Plenty dry inside, a pleasant and peaceful ride through the sound.

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Off the ferry and now for a drive up to Eastsound.

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The Salish is on the topmost edge of the island.

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The Salish Seaside Escapes is owned and run by the Leonard Sweet family. Leonard Sweet is a prolific writer; you might have heard of him. You’ll see Leonard there greeting Mauri as he checked in.

We were cheerfully directed to Heron Cove—a remarkable cottage designed and built by California architect James Hubbell—and given a tour.

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My pictures can’t begin to do it justice.

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Up the spiral staircase.

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The upstairs bedroom suite.

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Yes, I took a picture from the toilet but decided not to include it. I wouldn’t want that to become my MO.

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Oh, OK. You talked me into it. But you also get the traditional . . .

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. . . view from the window.

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Right behind our hot tub* is this enchanted garden intended for all the guests to enjoy. I think ours was the only of the six cottages occupied. (*Yes, we actually took our suits and enjoyed some time in the hot tub. No chance for photos of that!)

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Our breathtaking surroundings.

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We settled into our comfortable and magical space.

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A rare treat (no bedroom TV at home).

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If not warm, at least it was cozy and artistic.

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Even did some cooking.

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We took a drive all the way to the top of Mt. Constitution, elevation 2,409 feet, but were underwhelmed by the view. No surprise, since we drove half way up through the clouds.

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Thanks to the Internet, I got to see what we missed.

And then it was time to head home.

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These fuzzy friends waited with us for the ferry.

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Proof that I was there too.

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Safe arrival in port.

Before heading down the road, we enjoyed some people watching at a nearby Starbucks while we waited for our friends Wally and Ridgely to drive down from Bellingham to eat lunch with us.

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Such a lovely bonus to get to see these dear friends, even if the time was short.

And a delightful end to our Orcas Island getaway, thanks to the good folks at Newberg Friends Church. For me, it was thanks for Mauri for choosing to invite me to go with him.

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oil pulling

Ever hear of it? Me neither.

That we learned about oil pulling from brother DK (Margaret-Rose’s brother) while he was staying with us over the weekend could indicate we’d already covered all the other topics known to man. He told a story of passing his wife, Stacey, at an intersection in their cars one day, and when he started to pull over so they could talk, she pointed to her puffed cheeks to indicate she couldn’t talk to him. Well, he got it right away; he knew that she was oil pulling as she drove. Yes, it’s perfectly legal.

What on earth is oil pulling? As DK started to explain, Mauri pulled out his nearest gadget to ask Google for more info. Before long I was pulling from the cabinet a jar of organic extra virgin coconut oil while Mauri doled out three tablespoons, one each. We were about to enjoy the fellowship of the oil pulling.

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DK had never tried it, so you get to witness a flinch/gag as the chunks of oil began to melt.

Why would anyone choose to swish a tablespoon of coconut (or sesame) oil around in their mouth for 15 minutes? Good question. We learned it is a natural way to achieve and maintain oral health. The bacteria in your mouth feeds on fat; therefore the fat in the oil cleans your mouth. After 15 minutes of swishing you spit it out in the wastebasket (not the drain).

A mouth full of grease feels exactly how you might guess. But we were all committed to finish our experiment and managed to keep most of it inside for a full 15 minutes (we timed it!)

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We also learned how l-o-n-g 15 minutes can last. So I pulled over my computer and in our required silence we read more about oil pulling.

Following the spittoon, water rinsing, and teeth brushing, we all agreed our mouths felt heavenly, better even than having just been to the dentist for a cleaning.

Will we do it again? Definitely!

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while i retreated

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It was a working retreat, if you can call sitting in a beautiful beachview home with some likable people talking about important matters work.

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The sun neglected its responsibilities the one afternoon I had freedom to walk the beach and take pictures, but I could hardly complain about it. There’s no such thing as a bad day at the beach. Everybody knows this.

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If you open your eyes really wide you’ll see the house provided for our use by a couple from our church.

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The Fawvers take good care of our nourishment needs—always with flavor and flair.

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Thanks, Gary and Susan!

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Here we are—Gregg, Michelle, Nolan, Denise, Elizabeth, Eric, yours truly, Cindy, Steve. Here are our roles at NFC. (I work with Denise for Elizabeth.)

The whole time I was retreating, Quinn and her October team were building a house in Mexico.

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Notice anything different about this team from the others you’ve seen on this site?

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Here they are with the freshly built and painted home. I can hardly stop grinning—my daughter and her daughters and their friends built a house (yes, with a lot of help, but still!) Quinn texted me when she got back to Gilbert: “An awesome trip, one end to the other.”

Now it’s our turn—November is just one page over.

And while Quinn and her team were building a house in Mexico . . .

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Mr. and Mrs. Carlson were vacationing in Italy! On Sunday they visited the Vatican in Rome and were blessed by the pope! They’re nearly finished with their contracts in Iraq and will be returning to U.S. soil next month, just one page over.

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Facebook has its down side, that’s for sure, but the good side allows me to be part of my kids’ adventures across the miles while I put my feet up at the beach.

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