Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sweet Sixteen!!!

This last August Makenzie turned 16. Yep, it's true. 16.

It is hard to believe that the shy girl that would crawl under the table and flat out refuse to have her photo taken, is in the picture below.

Makenzie has become this beautiful, amazingly talented, young woman. She has found her intrests and develops them to her best each year.

Love you Makenzie!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Emma Lou

This past summer I tried to spend a day with each of my nieces. I only got the opportunity with Emma and Heidi, but what a great time I had. Here is my ode to Emma.

Emma Lou May:

Emma was a trooper as I had to do laundry while we were together. She even entertained herself with her love of reading, and arranging my quarters by state.

Coburg Cafe was the place for breakfast. Check out her waffles- Yummy!

The Lane County Fair was the adventure for the day. Hooray for sheep... and ice cream!

This girl loves to dance. Not just any dance though, Irish dance.

She has Hazel eyes. This I did not know until I got the opportunity to really look into them.

Emma is quiet, until she is comfortable with you. Then she talks and talks and talks.... (this is a good thing)

I love that Emma loves. She is a kind and very caring person.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Yee- Haw!

One word... R-O-D-E-O !!!

I was able in the last few months to attend not one, but two amazing and historic rodeos.

The first one was the St. Paul Rodeo in , St. Paul Oregon.

This Rodeo celebrated it's 75th anniversary on July 4th with some of America's best bronk and bull riders. The town of St. Paul has a population of 400 and something that swells till people are parking miles down the road.

One super feature is a BBQ Cook-off. Talk about tasty! For a small fee you can sample and then get a nice sized serving of one of many folks BBQs that say - they are the best. I am still dreaming about the sauce.....

The second Rodeo I attended was the Pendleton Round-up.

Now this is not just a Rodeo. This is a Rodeo beyond all other Rodeos. When we asked a former Pendleton local what is a so significant he stated, "everything!". There was shopping, eating, entertainment, a carnival, parade, Native American beauty pageant. Even during the Rodeo there were new things for me to watch, such as Indian bareback horse races.

There were some of the best riders in the world present, with scores higher than I have seen before. Granted I would have given them all a perfect score, but who am I to judge.

This was one you should not miss. If it's not a goal for you to attend, make it one!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A day with Heidi

I love that being back in Oregon allows me to spend more time with my family. What I don't get very often is one on one time with my nieces. Do to good timing I got Heidi for one whole day here at my place. It was spontaneous and absolutely fun!

After a breakfast of Raspberry Pancakes with powdered sugar we headed out for the day.

First stop: Eugene Saturday market
We perused all the fun stands of homemade items and enjoyed the locals making a little cash with their instruments. We hit the farmers market on our way out and picket up the best assortment of snackable items.

Second stop: The Blacksheep Gathering and Alpaca Festival
It was so much fun to teach Heidi a little about sheep and share stories about her mom and I when we were her age.

Third stop: Coburg Cafe
The only reason: some of the best burgers and shakes around!

Fourth stop: Strawberry Picking
Fifth Stop: A little antiquing - we were getting pretty tired at this point... sooo

The Sixth Stop: A little resting!

After a good rest we hit the Valley River Center for a little retail therapy and then headed back home to watch The Princess Bride and have a good nights sleep!

Such a fun time!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Memorial Weekend 2010

During Memorial weekend we took the time to visit the grave sites of three generations of family. It was not only beautiful to see each place where family is buried, but it was also great to take the time to reflect on how each person effected our lives.

Bertha Ellen Winn Johns & Arthur Bailey Johns
My great Grandparents, as well as two great, great Uncles are buried in the Coburg Oregon Pioneer Cemetery. This cemetery is only a mile or so from where I currently live. I asked my mom what one of her favorite memories were of her grandparents. She stated that she loved her grandmothers button box, and that she would spend hour after hour sorting those buttons.

Betty Lou Phillips Johns & Dewain Winn Johns
My grandparents are buried in Coos Bay Oregon. One of Darilyn's favorite memories of our grandmother is of her driving around in her Pacer. This was a nice bright yellow one. My favorite memory of Grandpa Johns was of him sitting me on his knee and repeating over and over again in a sing songy voice, "there was a little girl who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead, and when she was good she was very , very good, but when she was bad, she was horrid!"

Benedict Pavlovich Eremenko
My dad is buried in a little cemetery on the top of a hill up Allegany. Surrounded by Pine and Myrtlewood trees it is hard to imagine a more beautiful place to be laid to rest. If I asked any one of my nieces what memory they have of their Grandpa each one would say how he called them his "little turkey". Heidi also threw in the memory of when her grandpa first introduced her to Coal and Sue - the Llamas.

Even though our Memorial weekend was filled with fixing fence lines, picnics, and lots of laughs. It was nice to spend time remembering those that we have loved and have already left us.

Friday, April 23, 2010


Today is the day that we celebrate the birth of my Papa. During my recent trip to Ukraine I was able to go to the village that he grew up in. Zelenyy Kut. It is a small village 10-15 minutes from Kotovsk. The village still has the dirt roads that he must have traveled. I used to joke as I grew up that when he told the stories about having to walk up hill to school freezing in the snow- he was actually serious. In visiting there I was able to see the house where he spent his years till joining the Soviet Navy. The structures were still there, though only echos of what they used to be. I could still imagine him and his sisters working the fields. Growing their crops and tending their animals that would sustain them through winter.

Walking the dirt roads

Papa and his sister

Papa's childhood home

Not far from down the road is the village graveyard. Here is where his parents, cousins, and two sisters are buried.

Anya and her Great Grandpa

Through a trying experience he came to the U.S. in the early 50's. Later he became a U.S. citizen and continued working hard in his profession as a mill worker. After joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints he met my mom, they were married and would spend the next 33 years working hard on his land in Coos Bay.

Papa and his Naturalization papers

An instant family.

I never understood until later in my life how much he instilled from his upbringing into mine. I am grateful for learning of his love of the land and what it could provide. I love that in meeting his sister in Ukraine that I could see attributes and skills that they shared. Things that must have been taught in youth and passed on to other generations. I know he was happy that we went to visit his homeland. I felt him there. I also know he is bringing happiness to his family were he is now.

This is one of my favorites!

Happy Birthday Papa!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

That Easter Morn

This Easter provided a once in a lifetime experience. We woke up at 4:40 am so we could get ready to leave the house by 5 am. The walk was short, and surprisingly not cold. The first thing I noticed was that the road was blocked off to the church. As I got closer to the church I started to see all the people lined up facing each other, creating a wide path. It seemed that all the town of Kotovsk was there. Each person, or small group of people had a basket with eggs, Paska bread, and anything else they wanted to bring to be blessed for Easter. It was explained that the priest or "Batushka" was inside and one could go in and be blessed. The other option, which I noticed many chose, was to stay outside and wait for the priest to come out and bless all that stood in line, and their baskets. As the sun rose for the day it outlined the church beautifully, creating an almost glow. Finally, when the sun had risen the bells started to ring and the Batushka came out to bless everyone. How this was done was by him placing a small broom-like brush into a bucket of water, and then spraying all who wanted. He also blessed the baskets in the process. As he passed by he was followed by people holding a large basket that people could fill for the poor. After our turn we headed back to the house. We were at the front of the procession. As we walked there were so many others waiting. It really was a beautiful experience.

You can see in the basket the Paas died eggs mixed with the Ukrainian egg wrappers.

Later in the day we introduced Elya and Anya to an American Easter egg hunt, complete with Reeses, Peeps, Easter grass, and baskets. It was so rewarding to watch them hunt for the eggs hidden throughout the house. Then they treated us to a hunt for some Ukrainian presents for us.

The day was complete with wonderful food, family, and great memories none of us will soon forget.

Friday, April 9, 2010

My Ukrainian Family

With the passing of my father this past year I was really worried about how I would keep in touch with the extended family in Ukraine. Not speaking the language myself kind of created a huge barrier. I really relied on him being able to contact them and then update me on how they were doing. Now that I was able to actually meet them my worries are now gone. I am so happy and grateful for the opportunity to spend time with them and get to know them in their home environment. I love them.

Lena (My Cousin) lives out in the village of Zelenyy Kut. She seemed to be more reserved, but that could be due to the language barrier. She makes sour cream and sells it in Odessa which is 4 hours away by train. I only got to spend a few hours with her but she did say I could come and stay forever if I wanted to.

Vetaly (Lena's husband) and Ruslan (Lena's son). Vetalty is so darn cute and charming. I loved to watch him move about the kitchen area preparing things. He always had a huge smile on his face. Ruslan works in the police at the train station in Kotovsk. He is not far from his father in personality.

Oksana (my cousin) and Anya (Oksana's daughter). Oksana is very polished and poised. She works long hours as a teacher in a private school. She is so good at her job. Actually she is good at everything she does. Oksana has a gift for making things beautiful. She redecorated her apartment in such a lovely way, paying attention to even the smallest details. She is very good at cooking and never ceased to surprise us with a new creation. I also loved watching her interaction with her family. I love how you could see how much she cared for each one of them.

Anya I already told you about in another post. I am sure I could write more though.

Oksana and Vova

Anya and her grandmother (Vova's mother). I loved Vova's mother. I was only with her a short time, and could not even speak with her. She had such a kind and gentle look about her. She radiated love and happiness. I just wanted to be near her.

Elya (Oksana's son). His other name was the little monkey. Elya is everything a little boy is supposed to be. Loud, funny, and mischievous. He had a cold while we were there so we did not see him as much as Anya. But he made up for it when we did get to see him. He loves to sing, especially American Christmas songs.

Aunt Lida. She is constantly making sure everyone is OK and has everything they need. She would not let us go out the door without all the proper footwear, layers of clothing, or an escort. Darilyn and I wanted to go out for a walk one morning and she just pleaded with us (of course in Russian so we had no idea what she was actually saying), not to go. She is a fantastic cook. I don't think I could even try to recreate some of them. She has some amazing stories. Some of my most memorable moments were when Aunt Lida would tell stories and Anya would translate.