Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Taylor Swift's Gift Giving of 2014

This furthers my desire to have Taylor as a little sister.  I think we would have so much fun being Pollyannas together! :-)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Happy Holidays from Mongoose Manor!

I swear I meant to send out cards this year.  Since I hadn't had the time last year, I actually bought cards in October this year to ensure that I would get them out.  I even bought stamps!  Yet, life doesn't always play out the way you think it will. Anyway, on with the year end update!

The year started pretty slow.  Gage was plugging along through his first year of High School.  It was a big adjustment from a tiny K-8 to on of Oregon's largest high schools.  He was involved in stage craft class and got to assist in several school productions.   We also learned that Alan's job would be ending in June.  Knowledge Universe, the company he's spent almost 11 years working for, decided to outsource his department to the Philippines.  Alan seemed to take it all in stride and was looking forward to the change, and I'll admit, I spent the next 6 months worrying about what was going to happen!  I also took a part-time job at the National College of Natural Medicine working in the Student Counseling Center.  This was wonderful opportunity for me, personally and professionally.  I has given me the opportunity to use my skills in non-profit management as I get to participate as a part of the leadership team, I get to build solid clinic relationships with the student interns in the clinic and the students accessing services and do my best to assist in their growth and change and I get some of the best clinical supervision around through the Center Director, Dr. Wolmark.  This makes me a very lucky lady for sure!

February was an exciting month for me.  After deciding to go back to grad school in 2009 and getting my Masters in Social Work in 2011, I had finally completed all my clinical hours toward licensure and past the national exam.  I officially became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker!

In March we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to rent a beach house in Astoria for Spring Break.  Gage brought his friend William along and my parents came with us too.  It was a gorgeous couple of days exploring the NW part of the Oregon coast.  We had gorgeous weather the whole time.  We could not have asked for a better break!
Gage and Alan at the Tillamook Cheese Factory

Gorgeous spring sunset!

Can't beat view from the Oregon Coast!
Nena soaking up the sun at Cape Disappointment 

Gage and William riding the trolley through Astoria, Oregon

Alan, Gage and William at
The Shipwreck at Ft. Stevens State Park , Oregon

Nena and Pa at the Tillamook Cheese Factory

Alan and I at the Astoria Column 

Nena and Alan, great explorers!

Mom and I with the Astoria Bay in the background
The spring brought even more adventures.  In April, Alan found out that he was a finalist for The Ford Family Foundation Scholarship. This scholarship would allow him to attend college full-time and earn at least a Bachelors degree. In May he had his final interview and in June was awarded the scholarship.

Alan and I after accepting his scholarship award 
 He also found out that he would get the opportunity to travel internationally for the first time to the Philippines.  He spent most of the month of May living and working in Manila.  He had a great time, got to see some amazing sights, made some new friends - however ended up with food poisoning and spent multiple days in the hospital.  That being said, he says he would like to go back and do more exploring of the county.

Alan at the Taal Volcano.
A complex volcano located on the island of Luzon in the Philippines.
It is the second most active volcano in the Philippines with 33 historical eruptions. 
In July, we were able to take our first big family vacation.  We headed south to Arizona to see both Alan and my family.  We spent a week in Tucson.  While we were there we were able to meet Alan's Uncle Pat and Aunt Karena for lunch one day and were able to get up to Meza to see his Aunt Shelly and Grandma Jackie.  We were so happy to get to see his grandmother one more time as she passed later that month at an amazing 95 years old.  We also had the opportunity to spend time with my brother and his beautiful family.  We had lots of fun exploring Tucson, grilling out, swimming and just being in each others company.  After a great week in the sun, we flew home bringing 3 of our four nephews with us.  We all were able to attend my side of the family reunion together.

The Linhares Crew - Alan, Gage, Aunt Shelly and Grandma Jackie
Gage, me, Alan, Uncle Pat and Aunt Karena

The boys hanging out together!

Nena with her grandbabies - Camren, Skyler, Tristen and Jaden.  
In August we spent time working on projects around the house including Alan pulling up, patching and repairing part of our hardwood floors.  Alan was officially unemployed and adjusting to life before starting back to school for the first time in 15 years.  My hours at the college increased, which was exciting and allowed for more professional growth.  Alan and I got away to Redmond, Oregon for a weekend to attend my cousin's wedding and enjoyed the warmth of the high desert and spending time with family.  Mom and I traveled over to Fruitland, ID to check in on Grandma Thomas and spend a lovely weekend with Aunt Bette and Uncle Woz.  I always love the opportunity to travel with my mom.  We are best friends and don't often get time together, just the two of us.  It's always special.

Alan and his assistant Coco, patching the floor. 
Alan getting the last of the boards in. 
Alan and I in Redmond, OR
Mom and I road trippin!
Mom and I on the Columbia River Gorge.
September was back to school for both Gage and Alan.  Gage started his Sophomore year at David Douglas High School and Alan his freshman year at Portland Community College.  The fall continued to be filled with LOTS of studying, cheering our Ducks on to victory, more house projects and trying to squeeze in time with friends.  All this hard work paid off as Alan finished his first term in college with a 4.0.  We are all so proud of him and all his hard work.  He is such a great role model for Gage.  And it will be exciting to see where this wonderful opportunity will take him.
Alan's first day of school!
Gage, 10th grade
And for now, we will keep plugging along.  It is such a great privilege to watch Gage grow into a thoughtful and caring young man.  I have no doubt that he will grow into an even more wonderful person in the next few years.  He is slowly figuring out how he wants to fit into the world and like many other teens his age, starting to stretch those growth muscles even more.  As challenging as balancing our lives the way they currently our, between two jobs, two full-time students and normal daily life, I really do feel blessed and cannot imagine my life without these two wonderful men.  They do make my life much richer.

Lastly, before I close this update out, I am sad to report that we had to lay Marty, out 16 year old Japanese Chin to rest this month.  Many of you had the opportunity to meet this sweet little guy over the 12 years I had the honor of spending with him.  He was a lovely old man, right up til the end and this was one of the hardest things that Alan and I have had to do together.  I was so glad that Alan was with me for support.  Sweet Marty dog is missed daily and has left a big void in our family...

So from our little piece of the universe to yours, here's wishing you all the happiest of holidays and the best in 2015!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Cooler days call for cooler fatshion!

The weather has been so strange here in the NW.  We had the longest summer ever, then overnight it was freezing.  We had a patch of snow then ice and now we have mellowed back into our cool-ish rainy season.  All this to say dressing in layers is the way to go.  

I injured my back and was struggling to feel good and find clothes that I could wear comfortably all day.  Here are a few of my favorites of recent!
Skirt, Leggings & Scarf: Lane Bryant
Tank: Old Navy
Sweater: Kohls

Blue wrap, Leggings, Scarf & Boots: Lane Bryant
Skirt: The Avenue
Vest: Fred Meyer

Jeans & Boots: Lane Bryant
Sweater Hoodie: Torrid
Vest: Fred Meyer

Boots & Jeans: Lane Bryant
Love Shirt: Torrid
Vest: Fred Meyer