St. Helens Day Trip

As Papa Bruce drove us (me, the kids, and mom) up I5, passing into Washington, he debated changing the course of the day-trip he ‘d planned. Looking to the east, we saw a thick haze shrouding the mountains, from summer forest fires. There was no use in going to Mt. St.Helens if it was just going to be smoky and visibility dull. The coast sounded like a good alternative to me. So at our pit-stop, the Kalama River picnic area, he declared, “Ok, ok…I can be democratic. Let’s take a vote. Hands up for the beach. Now hands up for St.Helens.” St. Helens won by 1 pair of hands so after exploring, berry picking, monkey bar swinging and discovering thousands of strange spidery snail-like creatures in the river, we revved up the minivan and were off for Braylon and Angel’s very first adventure to an erupted volcano.

Papa has a knack for finding places to stop that have hidden treasures. One stop we made was a simple turn-out o viewpoint. But when we got out we could hear the sound of rushing water across the road. When we followed him over, and through an opening in a bush, we saw the gorgeous flow of a waterfall splashing into tons of loose, slippery rocks. It was hot by then, so I sure welcomed the fresh water spray and the sight of this lil oasis. The kids were quite brave navigators til Angel started screaming wildly … she saw a bee. We stayed long enough to chat with another visitor who was traveling from the east coast and must have needed a shower, cause he had his shirt off and gave himself one right there in the fall. Off we took, to the land of parched and blasted trees.

Another stop we made on our way, was the Forestry Visitors Center…a very nice building and gift shop, where Bray and Angel got to buy souvenirs (a sling shot & a lil frog with magnetic limbs).

When we got to our destinations off of Spirit Lake Rd, an amazing viewpoint and the Johnston Observatory, the kids were all over the dry land. Throwing rocks, feeding squirrels and having an adventurous time. And so was I. The volcano was spectacular. We were so close to what Papa called its “throat”! And we even got in on an official tour-guide’s speech. Bray got himself an adventure-scope and mood ring – more assurance that he will never forget this day.
I honestly don’t think any of us will. It was a blast.

















Angel’s Mother’s Day Gift



By, Angel Russ
Let me tell you about my mom.
She is 100 years old.
My mom is special because…
She is a mommy
My mom helps me…
Clean my closet
My mom makes the best…
My mom taught me how to…
I help my mom…
I help my mommy make
(“make” is our word for bake or cook in the kitchen).

I luv this!!

Here are a few more pics of her card she made for me and our fun time making pizza’s & giving gifts at the Stewart home today…








Today as I lobbied at the State Capitol in favor of two new bills that make Oregon’s s trafficking laws and penalties stronger, Angel spent the day with my mom who took her to get her something cute, as she usually does. This time it was a thrift store, where she found an authentic “Build a Bear”.  As I tucked her into our bed a little later, she asked me what I thought we should name her new purply fuzzy bear. I thought of Royalty…but didn’t tell her.  Instead, I let her come up with several of her own and wanted to choose my favorite from her kindergarten name-generator. One I liked was her idea of  “anything that rhymes with Pink”.

She digressed to asking me how my day was which paved the way to my story about how after leaving the Capitol, I dropped my keys, purse and phone in my LOCKED car (and the locksmith adventures that ensued). Then as she told me of her new desire to visit the Capitol, I replied,  “Oh, baby, you might be bored… but then again, you might think it’s awfully pretty. I sure did. It’s got cherry blossom trees with gray squirrels all around it,  it’s really tall, there’s lots of statues, and it’s walls and steps are made of pure white marble.”

Her eyes grew as if  intrigued by that last word.  I guess she didn’t know that one yet. “Narble.” she said. And grinned. Then a second later as I couldn’t help but let my giggle out, she held her purple bear up with both hands tightly around its arms and said to its furry face, “NARBLE!” This exclamation sent me into a laughing fit that made her laugh too, and then after about a minute or two, we settled down. And said it again and smiled.

C’mon… say it. It’s fun… NARBLE!

And she got up out of bed with her animal, explaining, “Oh, I’m so thirsty from laughing at Narble.”

So it is decided.

And so it shall be.

Watery Eyes

This morning, Angel and I did a little worship concert in our living room. We like to sing and dance, but even more so when we have the microphone hooked up to the amp & speakers. Kids jus love performing!
She’d copy my mouth as I sang, and my hands as I motioned.

When I put on Warr Acres’ song, “Hymn of Remembrance”, a song that really touches and ministers to me, about half way through, both of us experienced the same thing, at the same time. Our eyes started tearing up.
I asked if she was crying & she smiled and defiantly denied it, but said her eyes were watery.
I gave her a hug as she sat there on the amp, confused.

A few minutes later, I explained to her that God is spirit – and we have spirit too – our spirits are all invisible & live forever. God’s spirit was heavy in the room and that song made His heart happy …which made OUR spirits happy inside.
And that’s why we suddenly got teary-eyed.

I watched my 6-yr old’s smiley expression as I explained, and noticed she started to get teary again while she listened to me.
And then she was off to the next thing…a game of Temple Run 2.

It was there and then gone.

But what a special moment. What I like to call, a wink from God.


Sonic Slushes for the Hard Workers at the Wilsonville Exit

Sometimes when Angel and I have nothing in particular to do, we just do what seems right. We were driving around one afternoon a few days ago by these construction workers, and I thought, “man, if I worked that job on a hot day, I’d sure like a stranger to come up to me and give me a Sonic Slush.” It sounded good to me. So we wasted no time. Off to Sonic we went, photo’d the Slush flavor choices, and after several detours, walked up to this bunch of guys and said,

“Hi! Would you guys like to have something to drink… like maybe a Sonic Slush? I’m making a SLUSH-RUN.” They looked confused at first, but then smiled and said, “Uh, yeah sure! Who….do we have to thank?” Angel and I just smiled, “I guess just us. You’re welcome. Just mark what flavor you want and I’ll be back.”

What’d they order? Well, out of all those flavors, 5 chose Watermelon and 1 chose Blue Coconut!  We walked back to our car, got the awesome beverages from our carhop on rollerblades, and drove back, parked, walked up to them with their order and they were so grateful. One asked why I did it. I said simply because they work hard and it’s a hot day.

Angel was giddy with excitement the whole time. It was like a little adventure to her. I think that’s what life can be for anyone who takes a little time to seize every-day opportunities to do to other people what you’d like them to do to you. It brings so much joy.

It has the power to not only make someone’s day, but change a whole community.

I think I will make a habit out of it.

5 Years of Angel

Five years ago yesterday, we were living in Eagle Point, Oregon in a cute little 1700 sqr ft. home on Devonwood, Ct.  Braylon was all into Captain Jack Pirate gear at 5 yrs old, & we were attending Valley Christian Fellowship, gettin’ a room painted & decorated & gettin our brains & our home all ready for a new baby girl. After debating on the names “Lyrica” & “Angelina”, We’d decided on a name Ricky came up with, a simpler version… “Angel” (as long as I got to pick out her middle name, L’ryn).

L’ryn was a unique way to spell Lauryn – derived from a favorite singer of mine, Lauryn Hill. I think it sounds great with “Angel”, too…and maybe, just maybe Angel will become a singer like me & my Diva, Ms. Lauryn Hill. No pressure girl! Just a thought.

Here are some of my faves of Angel ~ beginning with the most recent. Let it be KNOWN that I really do believe her to be my favorite little girl in the whole wide world. And that she IS a princess. She is a child – a daughter – of the King of Kings. Royalty in in her blood & life is in her mossy-green eyes.

Summer '11 in Gigi's Backyard

A video of Angel’s “Best Frog Face” – taken on an autumn walk with her cousin, Gabby after finding – you guessed it, a frog. What a couple a goofs!

Spring of ’11 @ Bray’s Baseball game


FOUR years old, just after spending Christmas with the Reeves & Russ family

Here, is Angel getting her new Toddler Bed (while we lived on Altamont) age almost 3 (Sept. ’09). I think she liked it!

Angel (2 1/2 ?) and I – greeting Braylon at the bus stop – a typical windy afternoon on Orgain St. in TX. She always loved to give him hugs at the bus stop.

And one more – this is from the Daphne season – when we had a wiener dog for a year – the video Ricky made to document Angel’s Introduction to Pop Rocks! We absolutely LOVE this – and laugh every single time we watch it. Any video is instantly better when put to a G & R song.

Still going back in time… Here’s a lil clip of Angel that I LOVE, of her trying to learn a few words, like “Shoot“. And another one here – bein’ a lil copy cat of me. She was about 2, & we’d just moved to Orgain St in the fall of ’08.  Hutto, TX.  I think that there are FEW things as cute as a little person learnin’ how to talk!

  • Her 2nd birthday~ some favorite shots of the McAngel Party…w/the Todd’s, McConnells (Ava), and McIntiers – Sophie and Chaney were her closest friends.
A hot, fall day – great for a car washin’. She’s wearing my Gramma Carol’s pearls.
  • Tyler Texas Pics of Zoo time & the County Fair ~ Yee Haw, that was FUN!  Ms. Corndog Girl’s 1st carnival ride.

  • Angel, still in diapers (just 2 years old) tryin’ to poo. – Not fun. Then she totally denies it.
  • Angel has always been pretty eager to help! Even before she could talk, she was signing that she wanted to Sweep the Floor MORE.  Hope that lasts for… til she moves out! Here’s another one about a year earlier (at Kothman) – again, wiping up the floor for me…and lovin’ it.
  • Also taken at Kothman, the 9/’07-9/’08 year in Tx, here’s a great example of why we called her “Mophead” – as she slurps up her drink in a tired & sick stuper.
  • After watching this CLASSIC – “Toddler Tradition” you’ll never think of mini-marshmallows the same.
  • Just after moving to Texas, Angel turned ONE. Here’s a photo I love of her Daddy lovin’ on her.

~ We actually got her 1st steps on video! ~

  • As a baby, this girl made some of the weirdest noises.(taken 9 ’07, 1 mo. after moving to TX)  They were pretty entertaining. 😉
  • Before we moved to Tx, Daddy got his baby girl on video tryin to eat a mushy banana….Just PRECIOUS.

AngeLingo about Having a Cold

Angel woke up this morning with a yucky cold. I asked her to eat her cereal & she replied, “Wait. I have to go to the baffroom. If I go, I will feel better.” (Then pointing to her bladder), “I have a headache.”

A few minutes, coughs & sniffs later…

“Can I go to Gigi’s house, & lay on her couch & watch a movie?

I will not put snot on her.”

Below, I caught her as she was sniffing. Bein’ sick is jus’ no fun.