Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The YC Christmas Party

We just had The YC Christmas party last night, sadly not all of our kids could show up because of the horrible weather we've been having lately. So far they say this is the worst winter storm to hit our area in 30 years, currently we have a few feet of snow on the ground.

The Christmas party was great, we played games, had hot-cocoa, ate cookies and brownies and best of all we were able to give a gift to every single kid that showed up. Earlier this month each student from The YC filled out a Christmas wish list and a local youth pastor named Binky and his wife Liz found families to sponsor each and every single card! It was incredible. The women's ministry department of another church brought us twenty or so generic presents that we could hand out to kids that hadn't filled out a list. Thanks to both of these churches every student went away with a present. For some of these students they would not have recieved any present at all this Christmas if it weren't for these two churches. It was incredible to see our kids faces as they opened their gifts around the Christmas tree, they couldn't believe some of the eloborate gifts they recieved.

Thank you to everyone who worked to make Christmas special to so many youth! We are so blessed to be surrounded by such generous hearts.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Go With the Off Brand

Did you ever wonder about the origin of the brand Scotch Tape? Well I did. I always assumed that it was in reference to the hardworking Scots, or an accolade to the strength and durability of my Scottish heritage. Sadly I was very wrong. Apparently it was nothing more than a racial slur that has stuck through the decades.

Here is how history writes it.

The brandname Scotch came about while Richard Drew was testing his first masking tape to determine how much adhesive he needed to add. The bodyshop painter became frustrated with the sample masking tape and exclaimed, "Take this tape back to those Scotch bosses of yours and tell them to put more adhesive on it!" The name was soon applied to the entire line of 3M tapes. Read the full article here.

So there you have it. Not a monument to our Scottish strength, but an insult to our Scottish sense of frugality. I'm thinking of finding a new brand of tape, the off brands work just as well and are much more reasonable in price.

Advent...the Conspiracy

Friday, December 19, 2008

"I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas"

So, the weather forecast is calling for a snowy Christmas in Olympia this year. We have had several days of snow storms so far, the latest dropped around 8 inches at our place in less than a day. They say that this is the worst storm that has been seen here in years, and the coldest weather in almost 20 years! What a welcome to Washington. Gramma called yesterday to apologize for the weather, she said she has never seen it like this since she and Grampa have lived here. The storm is supposed to clear up a while after Christmas, hopefully we can drive up and see them after its all over with. It does make for beautiful scenery, but unfortunately the city isn't used to these kinds of storms and doesn't have the equipment necessary to clear the roads. So, lately driving has been next to impossible and the town is shutting down around us. Even the mall has been closing early - I can't imagine how much money they are losing shutting down right before Christmas!

Vince and I have been going on adventures in the snow looking for good pictures and enjoying the snow fall. One day Vince and the kids from The YC created a 10 foot tall snow man in Sylvester Park. Unfortunately he was decapitated and deabdomened by the time we came by with a camera the next day....it was a pretty amazing sight when they first made him though. I think that Vince likes the snow even more than I do...it must be those trips to Wyoming that did it for him.

Friday, December 5, 2008

"It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas"

So, I'm liking the Christmas Carol titles for posts...I wonder what song to use next? Hmmm, maybe I will just have to leave you all in suspense - check back later and see if your guess was right.

After bringing the tree home, Vince and I started the fun decorating process. We started a fun tradition when we got married that any time we visit a new place we will buy a Christmas ornament for our tree, that way our tree will be filled with memories and not just random decorations.

So far we have collected quite a few. Jamaica, Cancun, Santa Barbara, Solvang, Jackson Hole, Yellowstone, Idaho, and most recently Seaside and Astoria, Oregon. We still need to pick up some from San Francisco, LA, San Diego, Seattle and Ohio (we hare a little behind on the shopping...).

I think everyone needs to have traditions for Christmas - otherwise it's just another day. Traditions like listening to Christmas music and eating cookies while you decorate the tree. Drawing names after Thanksgiving and trying to keep it a secret until Christmas morning. Grandma's clam chowder for Christmas Eve, and cinnamon rolls for Christmas breakfast. Or staying up all night Christmas Eve to help Mom wrap all the presents that are hidden in her closet. Hopefully this year no one will have to wrap their own present....Lyndsie is still upset about that one!

I tried to start a tradition last year - Christmas pajamas and slippers to open on Christmas Eve...I thought it would be cute, who doesn't like a new pair of pajamas? Well, apparently Vince thought the pajamas I picked out for him were hideous...and he only just got up the nerve to tell me this year. Oh well, I guess I've got to come up with a new idea real quick! I'll let you know how it goes in about a month.

"O Christmas Tree"

The first Saturday after Thanksgiving is always the best day to get yourself a Christmas tree. It is like getting a jolt of Christmas right off the bat to get you into the holidays. Vince and had seen a little Christmas tree farm on one of our drives, so we retraced our steps last weekend and braved the drizzling rain to hunt for the perfect tree - not too skinny, not too tall, not too bare and it had to have a nice looking top. After awhile they all started looking the same...but we passed up several good options until we found THE best option. The only thing left was to chop her down and bring her home. Another Medrano first. They don't have any Christmas tree farms in LA, in fact - I think they ship them all in from the Pacific Northwest. There is no better way to get your tree than to hunt for it on a farm and cut it down yourself - another reason I'm loving Washington!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Free Christmas Music

who doesnt like free music? this family certainly does... thats why i posted this link for free christmas music

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Weekend Getaway

The cute little town of Astoria, Oregon.

There was an amazing view of the Oregon valley from a hill in Astoria.

Vince on a Coast Guard ship...no, he was not supposed to be there - he thought it was part of the Maritime Museum display!

One of the many amazing houses in this little town on the Colombia river.

Vince and I at the beach, a real-live-ocean beach in Seaside, Oregon.

Vince and I had the chance to go to a marriage conference a couple of weekends ago. We have been told by wise people that you should invest in your marriage at least once a year, whether that is taking a class together, going to a conference, attending a retreat, or reading a book together on marriage. I think it is great advice, probably something you think about more in the beginning stages of the marriage, so we want to be sure make it a practice now that we keep for another 60 years or so.

The conference was being held in a tiny town called Seaside, OR, whose claim to fame is that they are the end of the Louis and Clark trail - there are even plenty of plaques and statues to prove it! It was a beautiful town on the intersection of the Pacific Ocean and the Colombia River. The town is adorable, with tons of little beach cottages for vacation rentals, little shops, an very old indoor carousel and a beautiful beach full of sand dunes and tall grass - I loved it.

Just up the river from Seaside was the town of Astoria, population 2,000....for the past century or so. We visited a Maritime Museum, where Vince was kicked off of a Coast Guard ship, a museum on the history of the town, were we had our own personal tour (because we were probably the only guests that came all day, maybe all weekend!) and a look-out hill were you could see the most incredible views of the town, river and pristine valley.

It was an amazing weekend, we definitely want to go back again sometime when we can rent out a little beach cottage for a weekend. We are so grateful for the opportunity we were given to be there.

Thanksgiving Firsts

We have now had our first official Washington Thanksgiving, the day was full of first's actually! This was Vince's first Thanksgiving away from family, the first time Vince has cooked a turkey and I think the first time he was forced to watch the Macy Thanksgiving Day Parade (at least until the football games started), and my first time baking pumpkin pies.

The turkey turned out wonderfully. Vince and I spent the day with the Cobler family, and Jon took on the duty of teaching Vince how to cook. It was really fun to watch as Vince tried to retrieve all of the hidden surprises in the turkey carcass! A new tradition in the Medrano family is definitely going to be Vince preparing the turkey EVERY Thanksgiving...I can't quite handle touching the raw bird.

The day ended with us iChatting with both sides of the family, which made it feel like we got to spend at least part of the holiday with them. Technology is a wonderful thing!

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Few Of My Favorite Things

  • Listening to the rain fall on my roof while I sleep.
  • My husband, who finds new ways every day to show me he loves me.
  • Ella Fitzgerald while I clean (its not the cleaning I love, but the music makes it bearable).
  • My polka-dot umbrella...and the rain that lets me use it.
  • The ground under a tree in the Autumn when the fallen leaves look like a colorfully painted shadow on the grass.
  • White Peppermint Mochas....delicious.
  • The french press I just discovered in my kitchen, where has it been hiding all these months.
  • Discovering new favorite places in my new favorite city of Olympia.
  • My family spread across the country. NC, LA, San Francisco, WA, Idaho. There is nothing better than the amazing times we get to all be together in the same place.
  • My mailbox, it is like Christmas morning 6 days out of the week. I turn my key in the lock while I anticipate the surprises that might be inside - some days the surprise turns out to be bills, which ruins the fun for a moment until I discover a note from home or a Newsweek magazine.
  • Nature. I feel like I am discovering it all over again now that I've left the concrete jungle of LA after 5 years.
  • The library. Have you ever realized just how many books are out there? I could find a new favorite book every week for the rest of my life and never run out of options.
  • The students God lets me minister to at work. My heart breaks over their stories on a daily basis. I have never more fully realized the extent of God's love for the world than when I get to know his children at The YC.

Seattle in the Rain

We had friends come to town to visit this past weekend...and out of town guests mean an excuse to drive into Seattle, even if it is raining. All in all it was a beautiful day, you feel like you are experiencing the real Seattle when you view it from under an umbrella.

We hadn't been downtown at night either, and discovered that it makes for beautiful pictures. Pikes Place, the Space Needle, all the little shops, what isn't to love? We even made a stop at the local cheese shop to watch cheese being made while we ate grilled cheese sandwiches and mac and cheese....mmm mmm mmm, nothing better to warm you up on a cold wet day.

Our trip made me think of the move Sleepless in Seattle - which I discovered Vince had never seen (I guess with 2 brothers and no sisters I should have guessed he never had the chance to see this amazing movie!) So, we put it on our Net-Flix and had a Sleepless in Seattle date night. I am beginning to love the rain. It gives you the excuse to curl up indoors with a good book and a cup of tea, or to stay home for a movie night and popcorn. We will see if I'm still feeling this way after another 6 month or so of rain! I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

My Grandma

This last weekend we went back to LA so that we could attend my grandma's funeral. I knew that I would have the opportunity to catch up with a lot of family but I didn't realize that so many people would show up for grandma's funeral. It turned out that she had a great impact on a lot of lives. There were easily 250, if not 300 people that showed up to say their good-byes to my grandma.
What I loved about my grandma was how she would light up any time I visited. There was no doubt that my grandma loved her grandchildren. When I would call or visit she would always say with huge smile on her face, "mijo, you made my day to see you." What was even greater to hear was when that same greeting was extended to Lorissa, minus the mijo part of course. My grandma leaves a legacy of what it means to sacrifice for, and find joy in her children.
Thank you again for your prayers for my family and me during this time. Please continue to pray for my grandpa, Valente Sr. I couldn't imagine the feeling of losing your bride of 54 years.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Walk in the Woods

Vince and I found a great trail through the woods not far from our home, and we thought we would share the view with those of you who haven't seen Washington yet.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Happy Birthday to My Beautiful Mother

Happy Birthday to an amazing woman. My mother is not only incredible because she has a dozen children, she is amazing because she has loved and sacrificed for each one of us untiringly. The example she has given of strength in the midst of heartache, trust in the face of uncertainty, courage to take on battles bigger than her, and a constant love for the broken are lessons that have not only shaped her children, but everyone who has the blessing of being a part of her life.

We love you, Mom.

Miracle Backpacks

Last week The YC we were visited by a miracle! Our miracle was delivered by a group of men from Reality, a local Olympia church. We were getting ready for closing time when the group of men showed up to our building each carrying several heavily filled backpacks. The men just kept coming through our door, one after the other, each with several bags, each bag a different color and style. When the delivery was done the final count on backpacks was 44! Now, these bags were not just backpacks, no, that would have been amazing enough, but each bag was STUFFED full of school supplies to be given to 44 of our students at The YC.

One of our staff members, Drew, had stopped by an evening service at Reality church and spoke about the work we were doing at The YC and talked about the need for backpacks and school supplies for some of our students from low-income families. Families at Reality promised to bring us 15 bags, but in the end the loving families gave us the gift of 44 bags.

That evening the staff was able to pray over each bag and the student that would receive it, a student who now will walk with a little more confidence at school. We were also overwhelmed to see that several families had even written cards or letters to our students, sharing encouraging words and some even included a family picture!

Watching students receive backpacks throughout the week has been the best part of the miracle. It is amazing to see the excitement on their faces as they pick out their favorite bag and then begin to explore the supplies within. It has been Christmas all week long. Thank you, Reality for showing the love of God to our students in such a real way.

God is good, and He provides for His children!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Trip to the DMV - I need to rant

I've decided that what the government needs is just a couple of logical people to run things. I'm not even asking for everyone in office to have logical skills - just a few would be fine. This point was proven in excess today while Vince and I tried (unsuccessfully) to become proper Washington state residents. The trouble all started when we pulled up to the State Licensing Office where the visitor parking was closed of for remodeling. A logical person would think that because you have closed off all visitor parking you should provide a temporary lot and signs to direct people to this proposed lot - no, not in Washington. In Washington the government employees decide to mark every parking spot, and several parking garages as "employee only" and proceed to let all non-government employees to fend for themselves when visiting their public offices! Well, being resourceful Californians we finally found a non designated parking spot and proceeded to walk to the state building complex where the DMV is located.

Due to the aforementioned lack of logic in the government we soon discovered that there were no maps of the grounds on the whole capitol building complex, and no signs identify which building held what department. Frustration added to frustration as we wandered the capitol complex for a good 10 minutes in the rain.

Finally, we found the DMV, and discovered that in order to get a state ID or drivers license you must first have 2 documents that prove residency - sounds reasonable. Until you realize that all the documents require that you have either: a home that you own (and proof of insurance), a job that has already given you a pay stub, a utility bill, or to top it all off, a cable bill. Well, Vince has been given a pay stub, that's one document for him, none for me. We don't own a home and so we don't have homeowners insurance, we don't have cable, and our electrical bill hasn't come because we just switched it into our name a few weeks ago! . We do have a renters lease for our apartment, that seems pretty concrete evidence that we actually live here, but not to the government, no - they would rather see that I waste my money on cable every month! What does a cable bill prove that an apartment lease doesn't? Logic people, logic! So, we are now in the dilemma of having no acceptable proof of living in WA state and yet we are required by law to get a license with them because we established residency when we signed a leas (the lease that doesn't count as a proof of residency, yet it establishes residency - make any sense?)

So, I guess we are waiting for an electric bill to come in the mail before we can be legal here. I've honestly never been so eager to get a bill in the mail.

Thanks for listening to my ranting,

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The YC

I thought I would introduce you all to The Youth Connection, better known just as The YC. This is what brought Vince and I up to Olympia, WA earlier this month. The YC is a local nonprofit in downtown Olympia that works with at-risk teens, providing a safe place for youth from the city to hang out, find food and clothing, get connected with resources and have positive role models. The ultimate goal is to help these kids develop the confidence and skills they need for a productive future. The YC has been open just under a year now and part of Vince's role here is to start up support groups for the youth, make connections with the local high schools, and start new programs for the constant needs that are uncovered every week. At the moment, I have the privilege of offering some administrative support to The YC while I am looking for a job. After I find a job I'm excited about continue to volunteer time in the evenings working with the youth.

The staff, volunteers and youth at The YC are an amazing group and we are so excited at the opportunity that was given us to work with them. Vince and I have been praying and dreaming about a position like this and at just the right moment God opened the doors, we couldn't have planned this better ourselves.

Here is the link the The YC website so you can learn more about what we are up to.

The Family Visit!

There is nothing quite so nice as moving to a new state and having the chance for your family to come out to visit (it also helps motivate you to finish unpacking all your boxes and get the house set up). The Quiz family had already planned a visit to the Seattle area to visit my grandparents but since we had just moved into town we got to see them too.

On Thursday Vince and I drove up to Bainbridge Island and met up with our family before taking the ferry across to Seattle. Once we made it across the Puget Sound we visited to the Seattle Aquarium, Pike Place Market and the Space Needle. The best part of the day had to be Anna realizing that her ice cream cone from Pike Place had been melting all over her clothes for the past couple of blocks on our way to the Space Needle.

All in all it was a nice couple of days, after the Seattle visit we all drove up to have dinner with Gramma and Grampa Quisenberry and then on Saturday the family drove down and stayed in Olympia for the night and we got to show them around our new neighborhood. Let's just say that the tour of Olympia was considerably quicker than the tour of Seattle a few days before.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Welcome to Washington

Vince and I made it safely to Washington and to our new home. This is the view I had all the way through California, Oregon and on into the beautiful (and rainy) state of Washington. Needless to say, I am glad to be out of the car!

We moved up earlier this month and right now are working on getting out new apartment set up and unpacked. For those of you who haven't heard, Vince took a job working at The Youth Connection in downtown Olympia. The YC is a new non-profit that works with at risk teens. We couldn't be more excited about the work we get to do here, but more about that later.