February 4, 2012

My Favorite Vacation Story



Kelsie (5), Lani (7), Josh (2 and a half), and me at Disneyland in November 1989

While putting together a scrapbook of a vacation we took when the kids were little, I came across one of my favorite vacation stories. It’s too good not to share!

Back in our early days of home schooling, ARCO asked Joe to go to Long Beach, California on business. Lani was 7 at the time, Kelsie was 5, and Josh was 2 ½. We decided it would be great fun, and educational, too, to make it into a 3-week family road trip. We would first drive to Arizona to visit Joe’s parents, who were doing volunteer work that winter on the Papago Indian Reservation. We’d take about a week getting there, stopping at points of interest along the way. Once on the reservation, we’d spend a week or so exploring the sights and culture of the area. Next, we would drive to California, visiting Sea World and Disneyland, before settling into the Sheraton Hotel in Long Beach for the business leg of the trip. Finally, we would enjoy the sights as we drove up the coast toward home.

We drove thousands of miles in a beat-up old Suburban stocked with cardboard boxes full of toys and workbooks to keep the kids occupied and learning. We also had an ice chest filled with milk and juice so we could eat cold cereal breakfasts in our Motel 6’s each morning, as well as other food items we’d need for putting picnic lunches together along the way. We had a box of dishes and non-perishable food items, too.

We’d taken the advice of Joe’s parents and packed our clothes in paper bags, each labeled with a specific day of the week. That way, as we entered a new motel room each night, all we had to bring in was one sack of clothes for the family and a shared bag of toiletries. This worked really well, until the night we got to Long Beach, ready for the business, ARCO-sponsored part of our trip, that is...

We pulled up at the luxurious Long Beach Sheraton Hotel around 8:30 PM. By that point in our trip, our car was covered with 2 ½ weeks of road dirt. We were exhausted and grimy from a long day at Disneyland, and the kids were all sleeping.

We were greeted at the car by a tuxedo-clad bellhop named Jimmy, who was pushing a luggage cart. Up until this point in our trip, we hadn’t realized that the way we’d packed would be a problem. But when Joe opened the back of the car and started unloading cardboard boxes, paper bags, and cloth bags instead of suitcases, poor Jimmy just didn’t know quite what to do. He struggled until he finally found a way to balance them all on his cart. Then, he quietly pulled me aside and told me about an inexpensive restaurant down the block where we could go for breakfast. And…he shared with me that we didn’t really have to stay in a $125 room...there were $70 rooms available!

Thoroughly embarrassed, Joe refused to get the ice chest out of the car. (We’d get it later if we needed it…) He led us into the lobby to get us checked in. The girls were awake by this time, but Kelsie had wet her pants. And Josh was still sound asleep. Carrying Josh in my arms while also juggling Jessie Bear (his over-sized teddy bear), the kids’ cups, and the treats the bellhop had given the kids, I tried to keep Kelsie from sitting on any of the hotel furniture. (Assuming we’d be in our room soon, and unwilling to set Josh down alone in the lobby of a strange hotel in a strange city to find a restroom, I elected to wait to get Kelsie into dry pants.)

The car had started having mechanical problems toward the beginning of our trip, but Joe and his dad had supposedly fixed it while we were in Arizona. However, while Joe was in the process of checking into the hotel, he was interrupted by the valet. The guy had tried to park our car but couldn’t get it started. Joe had to leave the front desk to help several hotel employees, in their tuxes, push our grime-covered Suburban out of the way to make room for a limo that was arriving.

Meanwhile, Lani and Kelsie had discovered the escalators. For two little girls from the town of Bellingham, this was an exciting find. They rode them up and down, up and down while I watched, still holding a sleeping 2 ½-year old, who was getting heavier by the minute. But, at least Kelsie was on her feet, and the furniture in the hotel lobby was safe.

It was at least another twenty minutes before the Suburban was tucked away in the bowels of the hotel somewhere and we were checked into our plush hotel room, with Kelsie in dry pajamas and Josh (who never woke up) tucked snugly in bed. But the ordeal was finally over!

Or was it?

After all, we had pass Jimmy every day whenever we walked into or out of the hotel!

September 19, 2011


I’ve never been one to welcome change. I get a sense of comfort and security from having sameness and stability in my life. When things are going great, why rock the boat? Unfortunately, God (and others) don’t always agree with me.

I’m experiencing some significant changes in my life right now. Some of them are hard for me but good for others. Although these changes have not been easy, I can accept them as necessary and right.

But there’s one major change that has been particularly painful. For months I fought hard against it. This change felt wrong and destructive, foolish and senseless and unnecessary. But, in the end I had no power to stop it.

In time, I may be able to see some good come of it. Although I can’t see it yet, I’m hopeful. So, as I wait, and as I search to find some firm footing again, I’m trying to cooperate with God and learn some important lessons.

Here are some things I’m trying to learn:

That no matter how hard I try to control my life, ultimately, it’s God who’s in control. When I try to control outcomes or other people, I just become frustrated.

That I have a choice: I can either choose to complain and whine and feel sorry for myself, or I can choose to have a good attitude and let my struggles change me for the better.

That the wisest thing I can do is surrender my dreams to God and then wait to see what better things He has for me.

Easier said than done! 

June 19, 2011

Grandpa Young

Pages from a scrapbook put together a few years ago for Ben, who never had the privilege of meeting his grandpa:



June 14, 2011

On the Beach at Larrabee State Park

(June 13, 2005)

Isla’s first impressions:


Discovering the rocks!


Enjoying the view:


Being the view:







And just hanging out…


May 8, 2011

A Portrait of Grandma Young: A Mother’s Day tribute for my kids, siblings, nieces and nephews to enjoy

My mom passed away when Ben was less than two years old, so I knew that he’d be left with few memories of her. Yet, I wanted him to know her. This is something I put together for him a few years ago. I thought I would share it with all of you today. I hope you enjoy the memories!



April 24, 2011

Walking With Isla

Friday Joe and I were babysitting Isla. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and we thought that a walk along the Bellingham waterfront would be lovely. So, we loaded Isla’s stroller into the car and headed to Fairhaven and the trail that leads to Boulevard Park. Ready for some brisk exercise, we got the stroller out of the car and attempted to strap Isla in. it. But we soon realized that she had a different plan. She wanted to walk. And, not only did she want to walk, she also wanted to carry her stuff. At first that just included her ducky and her water bottle.


But then, she decided she needed to carry a package of wipes, too.



Of course, the water bottle was heavy, and the wipes were both heavy and slippery, and they needed repositioning every 3 or 4 steps.


Our brisk walk had turned into a very, very slow stroll, 3 or 4 steps at a time. Grandpa finally lifted Isla onto his shoulders.


Must have been too scary. Because at that point, she chose the stroller.

April 11, 2011

My Trellis Wears a Jacket

My trellis wears a jacket. This year it’s green.


Why does my trellis wear a jacket? Because of the squirrels.

I used to think they were adorable, those furry little creatures with the bushy tails. And so I giggled when my sister lamented over the third garbage can lid they’d destroyed. I even laughed when she told the story of how they had gnawed through her window screens and scattered Oreo cookie crumbs all over her kitchen.

And then…they moved into my neighborhood, and into my yard. I never saw it coming. The trouble, that is. It crept into my life so slowly. At first, the squirrels appeared at the bird feeder. It was fun to watch them up close through the window. That the faces of people and cats through the glass a mere 12” away didn’t scare them in the least should have alerted me that there’d be trouble. Perhaps the critters knew that we couldn’t harm them through the glass. Or maybe they just thrive on danger. Either way, their boldness should have prepared me for the elaborate and malicious scheme they would soon devise in order to frustrate and annoy me.

It’s an annual event for me, the stringing of my trellis. It’s time consuming, but I do a great job of it, if I do say so myself. The strings are tight, neatly wrapped, and evenly spaced. The finished product is a thing of beauty.

Until the spring the squirrels invaded my yard, that is. It happened one night while I was sleeping. The afternoon before, I had strung the trellis. The next morning the strings were lying on the ground. Upon closer examination, I discovered that they had been severed near the top. So, I re-strung the trellis. But, to my dismay, the strings were back on the ground the next day. This time, out of string, I tied the pieces back together as best I could and just hoped for the best. But the trellis was a real mess.

At first I blamed this strange phenomenon on the birds. After all, they do need nesting materials in the spring. So, I tried scattering little pieces of twine on the ground, hoping they’d accept my offering and leave the trellis alone. But, the birds didn’t take the scraps. That’s when it hit me: whatever was cutting my trellis strings was not taking them away, only severing them.

As time went by I discovered that the villains weren’t birds, after all. They were squirrels! I witnessed those clever little mischief-makers running along the top of the trellis. And although I never actually saw them do it, I’m convinced they were cutting my strings just for the fun of it!

Once I had identified my enemies, I was able to devise a tactic to outwit them. I began covering the top of my trellis with a wide strip of cloth, just long enough and wide enough to keep the squirrels from reaching the tops of the strings. It’s worked so well that the animals have had to move on…to my corn patch. Those malicious beasts! It’s been several years now since I’ve managed to harvest a ripe ear of corn before the squirrels devour it.

My beans and peas now grow tall and strong again because my trellis wears a jacket. But what can I do to save my ears of corn? Maybe I can dress them in socks?