Wednesday, December 31, 2008


This past year has been filled with an abundance of change. Hard change. Challenging change. Sad change. Excited change. So many different levels of change.

The first three months of the year were spent celebrating our entire families birthdays and finishing up house renovations in preparation of the house going up for sale.

March brought the house going up for sale and me being let go from my job in the span of 3 days. That was a rough week full of pools of tears.

The next months were a whirlwind of keeping the house spotlessly clean as people trickled through to look at it and slowly start packing as we made the decision to move across the country even if the house wasn't sold by August.

Packing a semi to take our stuff to an unknown place. Taking our first family plane ride that wouldn't be coming back to the only lives we knew. New schools for Sam and Ed. No church. No sense of being grounded somewhere. So many unknowns.

Leaving friends was one of the hardest things. I cried for weeks. I lost my joy. My smile. I look at pictures of when we first moved here and see a shell of someone that I don't recognize.

November brought a surprise that brought my smile back thanks to my amazing husband. A visit from one of my dearest friends and her baby girl. I didn't want that time to end. I didn't want my smile to disappear again. I wanted to keep feeling and not go back to being numb. I wanted to continue living as long as possible on the vapors of happiness long after my friend left. Healthy? Not so much. And I knew it too. I enjoyed every moment with the two of them and I sure do miss them. My friends are still and always will be there, no matter how close or far away we are from each other. It was a good kick in the pants, though, to see how much I had already missed by moping around. I knew I needed to keep living despite the distance between me and my peeps. :)

Thanksgiving with the parents flying here. Christmas with Ed's mom flying here. Snow (yay!) that I didn't think I would see for years. The first time we haven't traveled anywhere for the holidays.

As the year closes, now looking back, I can very easily say that every change, even hard ones, have been growing experiences. I'm learning so much about myself, my faith. Our marriage has been put to the test numerous times in the past months and will continue to be put to the test, but we've come out on the other end of the tests stronger. My faith has been stretched. Things didn't and aren't happening like I thought they would, but I'm starting to see glimpses of why we were led to come here. And I'm sure glad we obeyed.

Ed and Sam have jumped into the routine of school. Ed has been stretched, pulled, stretched, pulled and stretched more. He's still able to walk though. Sam has made fast friends, loves P.E. and recess, has a love/hate relationship with reading, loves math and science, and dislikes homework. He's all about sports and has broken in his boxing gloves and football helmet he received for Christmas already.

I never thought I would start to feel settled, but it's slowly coming. I still really don't know a whole lot of people, and I still really miss my friends, but we've found a church that's exactly what we were looking for (different from the one I talked about back in September). The kids love it. We love it. We are looking forward to getting involved. Slowly. There are kids choirs, adult choir (which isn't the typical "choir" but a choral's Chorale with Dr. Stewart all over again and I'm very excited about that!), a wilderness group, Pioneer club, etc. But we're taking it slow this time. The college and career pastor spoke this past Sunday. And SHE (gasp!) was good. :). I actually look forward to going to church again. It's been a very long time since I've felt that way.

Who knows what 2009 is going to bring. Four months ago, I was dreading it to the point of tears as it seemed to loom ahead like a road with no end in sight. Now I'm ok with not seeing an end. I know I've changed already. I'm still me, but the me at the beginning of 2008 is already different than the me that will be starting 2009. I'm learning to enjoy the time here. To love on my kids even more. To deepen my marriage with my best friend. It's a season I want to learn from. To grow in. Not to wish away.

And how does one end the year of 2008? By signing papers and closing on our house in MI. As of today, it is no longer ours.

Monday, December 29, 2008


This is the 2nd book I've read for Thomas Nelson Publishers. The description of this book sounded very intriguing and I thought it would be a great book to read to my son. Filled with tall tales, adventure, and lots of exploding scenarios, this book had serious potential. To sum it up, it is about a pastor who moves to Boomtown, WA which is named after a man who started a fireworks factory there. The people are not what the man, or his family expected, nor was the town normal by any means. A sense of community that was not typical was found by the pastor and the issue of trust was raised throughout the story. Trust between the father and his son, between the father and the community, between the father and his past.

Sadly to say, it wasn't a booming experience to read. I struggled through it and forced myself even to finish it. It had such potential, but it wasn't there. There was really no depth to the plot, it seemed to weigh heavily on the past history of the town rather than on the current situations and even though the father (which the story was narrated by) learned a great deal about himself (or so he said), it was a let down by the end. I actually was a bit perturbed and saddened by the father at the end as he only thought of himself and uprooted his entire family after only a year because he was afraid. So he went to pastor somewhere "safe".

Even though I didn't enjoy the end, I kept my mind open and there was still no thrill or anticipation picking this book up. Great imagination by the author, but lack there of in other departments.

Friday, December 26, 2008

memories already taking place

We have made amazing memories of our first Christmas in Seattle. They started with getting stuck to the garage wall while trying to get into the van. Nail heads must really like leather as it latched onto my back while I was trying to avoid the massive snow puddle in my dress shoes. So there I stood nailed to the wall. I will be honest that I'm glad the words I was saying in my head did not make it out into the innocent air I was breathing. I was finally able to unhitch myself and jump (literally over the puddle) into the van. We got out of the driveway on the 3rd try.

So off we went to church. To celebrate Jesus' birthday. The church that we're going to is halfway between our house and downtown, so it's about a 20 minute drive. Highway was clear. Main roads were semi-clear. Side roads were neither of these. They had not been plowed in over a week and a half of snow. And they will probably not ever be plowed either. (Since they hardly have any plows here and don't use salt! I still can not fathom this!). Over a foot of snow on these gems. We took one to get to church. It sucked us in the moment we turned onto it and decided we needed to have some more fun as it took us right into a car, one of the entire neighborhoods cars parked on the street (that have also not moved since the snow started and have over a foot of snow on the roofs). Yes. Words were spoken as we saw ourselves slide right into the side of a newer hybrid, taking the mirror off. Ed "pulled over", got out (decked in church attire), checked the damage, came back, wrote a note with phone number and put it in the car door handle. Who knows when/if the owner will call. It could be another week, two weeks, a month (if the weather continues the way it has been). After we got the van sucked out (thankfully Ed didn't have to push it out), we headed down the street to worship Jesus.

It was a lovely service. Beautiful trumpet music, choral music, singing, message and candle lighting.

We took the main roads home, turned onto our ice rink street and Ed pulled over so I could get the mail (the mailman has avoided our street for three days, and we're really hoping the garbage man decides to come down next week as our wee little trash bin is already full of garbage not being picked up last week. Grrrr). Our house was 15 feet away. And it took 20 minutes to get there. Ed ended up with mud splattered down his coat from me flooring the gas while he was pushing the van out. I just have to say that he's amazing. Two kids in a stuck car asking, "why are we stuck? when can we go home? how much longer? are we almost out yet?" and he kept his patience in check. I was standing out on the side of the road, which was probably best for all involved.

The kids opened one present. And this is them in it. We've wanted to do this for a couple years and finally did it this year. Everyone was all comfy cozy as we sat down to watch the Polar Express, eating our smorgasbord dinner (which I think will become another tradition). The evening of woes melted away and to be able to spend time with family was beautiful.

For another rendition of this evening, check out Ed's blog.

We have so much to be thankful for and are so blessed to be here to experience life and each other though we are missing friends right now during this season. So Merry Christmas and New Year's to all.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

1st snow

This past weekend the most popular news story was the snow storm we were going to get. Snow around here is not a common occurance, so for there to be a significant amount of snow is huge. Along with the snow, freezing temperatures were going to be hanging around for awhile. The longest below freezing cold snap they have had here was back in 1990 and it stayed below freezing for 6 days. This time it is supposed to last for two weeks. The average temperature for this time of year is 45. It has been hovering around 20 this week. While this is normal in Michigan and houses are built to withstand these kinds of temperatures, houses here are not. The big thing is bursting pipes. A lot of the houses here are not built on basements, so the pipes are exposed. Like the house that we're living in. So far, so good here, but man is it cold inside! The dishes in the dishwasher are almost too cold to touch after a load is run.

So Sunday morning after seeing this stuff fall the night before, this is what it looked like when we woke up. And I had forgotten that before all the snow started, it had been raining all day Saturday, so all the wet had froze before the snow started. Making ice. We did venture out Sunday morning and did see cars not being able to make it up the ice covered hills. I only witnessed on the news cars sliding backwards down the hills while trying to go up them. That couldn't have been very fun.

The moment we got home, the kids got their snow stuff on and went out to play in it. The were SO excited.

We were supposed to get 3-6 inches of snow last night, but only a dusting happened, and it almost looks like it has frozen to the ground. So school was canceled.

And what does one wear on a cold, snow day? Why an Irish handmade sweater!

Now it feels more like Christmas.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Saturday we ventured downtown to the seminary for the Kids Christmas Party for all kids of students. I decided (at 3 in the morning) that it would be a good way to get the kids out of the house so Ed could write his papers and study, and good for me to be around adults. I was a bit hesitant as the student of the family wasn't with us, but the minute I opened the door and walked in, I knew it didn't matter. The kids and I were enveloped into a small community that was so warm and caring and it felt so good and so right to be there. Everyone completely understood what was happening in our family with the end of the semester approaching as they had all been there too.

There were stations set up around the room that we could go to for crafts and food in the middle. It all took place in the large classroom where Ed has all his classes. The kids thought this was really cool that we were doing things in Daddy's classroom.

We started out at the table where you could make a snowflake or star out of popsicle sticks and paint the sticks too. My kids L.O.V.E. paint. We stayed at that table for a good 1/2 hour to 45 minutes and they were in their glory. Next we went over to make a bag for all their crafts then went and made a refrigerator picture frame magnet. From there we went over to the ornament table and Alina made a candy cane out of stringing jewels onto a pipe cleaner and did an amazing job with the three colors and keeping the pattern going all by herself. Sam decorated an ornament ball with paint pens and was ready for another project.

Then Santa came in to read all the kids the Charlie Brown Christmas Story (in his southern accent) and then read each kids name on the presents he handed out. One Mercer Mayer book and one Charlie Brown Christmas book.

Then the cookie decorating table was found. Sam started there while Alina finished her candy cane ornament. I turn my back for 2 seconds and he and the guy who was in charge or the table are slathering frosting on the cookie. Every color went on that sugar cookie. I think the frosting was a good inch thick. Then Sam was challenged. And he excels at challenges. His challenge by his new friend Jeremy? To see how many M&M's he could fit onto his cookie. This was not a large cookie by any means. He got them all on there and then I heard Jeremy ask him to see if he could count them. I didn't think there were that many, but little did I know Sam had used every centimeter of that frosting and ended up putting on 57 M&M's. And then he ate it. And boy was he one proud 7 year old. I had him stop about 3/4 of the way through as he was given another challenge, and this one I knew he would jump at.

Jeremy asked him how fast he thought he could run around the room. I knew all other crafts would be left by the wayside when this question was taken in by Sam's ears. He loves to run. We used to time him at our old house on how fast he could run around the outside. The challenge was issued and off he went running around the outside of the classroom (big classroom in the middle of the 3rd floor with hallway all around it. Perfect for a big loop to run). Alina got in on the action and one of the other guys came over and asked if he could race Sam (a grown man mind you).

So off the kids went and I helped clean up. I ceased the racing after about 1/2 and hour as I didn't want either of my kids throwing up pink/blue/white/green frosting on the floor. So we helped set up all the tables and chairs and Sam helped vacuum.

It was a really fun morning/afternoon. Having my kids being taken under the wings and thoroughly enjoyed by others was so amazing. The adults loved on them which warmed my heart so much.

And Ed was able to get so much done too in preparation for a big 3 days.

Friday, December 05, 2008

This year our household is approaching Christmas a bit different. Priorities have shifted. In years past Christmas was a huge deal. Present wise that is. The kids (and us too) received so much stuff. From each other. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. We bought things just to have presents under the tree. Not this year. Not only is our budget different than years past, our mind-set is different.

Instead of buying gifts for each other, my brothers and their families, all agreed to pool our money to give to an organization. We haven't exactly decided who we're going to give to, but the money will be much more useful for someone else who needs it than stuff for ourselves. Yes, the kids will get some presents, but it'll be waaaaay scaled back, more practical and meaningful. Less stuff. More meaning.

I explained this to the kids, and I know it will be revisited again some more before Christmas. We have SO much. SO MUCH! We don't NEED anything. I know I said this in the Thanksgiving post, but it has become so apparent I think it's worth repeating. With purging throughout the last year, it has become so very clear that we can live without so much. And not miss any of it. I think they are starting to understand that there are so many kids that don't have anything and we can help them! Not just with buying them toys, but food and shelter and clothes! And isn't that what Christ followers are supposed to do?

So we're switching consumerism gears around our house this year. More focus on Christ, Advent, others rather than stuff and our wants. It has actually been freeing and humbling and what a great example to our kids to be able to live out Christ to others.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A different thankful outlook

This year Thanksgiving is a bit more heightened for me. With being away from all my friends and family I realized how before I was "thankful". I was comfortable where we were in life. We always had Thanksgiving with my parents, Ed's mom, one or another brother and his family and our great friends Anne and Andy. Every year. This year however, it hasn't taken too much effort to really see how thankful I am. This year my parents are here, but no close friends, no mother-in-law, no brothers, no "comforts". With all the comforts of the past 13 years in Grand Rapids now memories, the things I am thankful for are so much more apparent.

Ed. The past weeks of being deconstructed, disturbed, being taken apart piece by piece and learning how to put everything back together, he has so many times put himself aside and taken care of me. To make sure my heart is still beating. Living. Learning.

Sam and Alina. These two have gone with the flow so well and so easily. They are such huge examples of living life to the fullest and loving God with no strings attached. Child like faith? Yeah....they have it and it's such a huge blessing to see it grow in them and such a huge example to me.

Friends. I miss them. A lot. My heart doesn't ache to the point I can't catch my breath any longer, but now it's more of a dull ache. The long lasting kind. I have amazing friends and I'm so glad distance doesn't lessen a friendship.

Creator. This morning Ed and I were able to watch a beautiful sunrise over the mountains from the coziness under the hide-a-bed covers. Deep hues of pink, turn to orange, to yellow to sunshine. To have such a huge, imaginative, awe-ing God take the time for me. To die for me. To love me. To offer a life changing relationship. To be patient with my wandering heart. To listen to my questions and thoughts even when they're laced with frustration. To create me.

Really, nothing else matters. I am thankful for the things I have, but they are just things. We have SO much. So much!! Shelter. Food. Beds. Clothes. Heat. Running water. Toys (for big and small). So much more than so many people. Could I live without them? Sure. I am grateful for these things and know I have taken them for granted every single day. But to have a family who loves, to have friends who come along side in life's journey to cheer, cry and encourage, to have a God who loves unconditionally. To be living. Period. These are worth living for. Worthy of deep thankfulness. For these four things, I am thankful and believe I have a very blessed life.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Book Review

I just finished the book Holding Fast: The Untold Story of the Mount Hood Tragedy by Karen James for Thomas Nelson Publishers.

This was a heart wrenching, but amazing book. The author is the wife of a mountaineer who lost his life two years ago on Mount Hood along with his closest friends, which is part of the Cascade Mountain Range. I chose this book as I can see the Cascade Mountain Range from our back deck. The book is the journey of a woman who was so deeply in love with her best friend, the tragedy of his death and how her life changed because of it. Her faith in God was transformed because of the circumstances that she dealt with. Seeing how her friends surrounded her, how her step-kids stuck by her, and how she was not afraid to question God was so real.

The book itself went very quickly. You almost feel like you are right there beside her, grieving with her, but I can not begin to imagine the depths of grief she went through.

All around, a good book. Not one that I usually would choose, and I was skeptical going into it, but the first page grabbed me and took me for quite the ride.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Here are some pics from Anne's visit. Can't believe it went so fast, but I am SO, SO thankful as my heart was not doing well what so ever. Thank you Anne for coming. Thank you my sweet husband for bringing her and filling my heart.

The surprise:


Thanksgiving spread and dessert with Hillary, Tim and Aryn. Since we didn't make it to Canada for Canadian Thanksgiving with Hillary and we always spend Thanksgiving with Anne and Andy, we thought having a T-dinner was the way to go. And Anne's old roommate from college and her husband live 10 minutes away so Ed invited them too (back when plans were in the works). :)

Anne's amazing chocolate cheesecake topped with fresh whipped cream. was even better than it looks.

What do friends who met on the computer do at midnight? Why be on the computer together!

Ferry to Kingston Island:


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Happy Anniversary!

Thanks to Hillary, I didn't even realize that today is the three year anniversary of my blog. Who knew! So much has happened since the beginning. Growing, learning, milestones, sacrifices, hardships, highs, contentedness.
Lots of memories.
With many more to come.

I could write about them all, but my brain is tired, my kids are tired which means early bedtime = getting dinner ready early and I have yet to figure out what to make.

So, happy anniversary blog. It's been a fun three years.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

shock and awe

As most of you know already (or already knew before I knew), there are guests staying at our house. Last night I had dinner on the table, waiting for Ed to come home from school and had the kids washing their hands. I was standing at the door when Ed pulled in, holding it open for him to come inside. I had my back to the opening, talking to Alina when I felt a pair of arms go around me in a big squeeze. I smiled and was about to say something to Ed when I turned around and it wasn't Ed at all. It was a dream! A dream I never, ever thought would be a reality. My dearest, closest person. I started shrieking and kept hugging her and shrieking and more hugging (and Ed was taking pictures). I couldn't believe she was here. In the flesh! It took a good two hours to stop shaking. I know I went to sleep smiling last night.

We chat over video on the computer, but there is something about being close to someone in the flesh. The touch. The hugs. This has been planned for weeks. Not a peep out of either Ed or Anne. I thanked Ed countless times last night for bringing her here. I'm savoring every single moment.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


My friend Amy tagged me, so here it goes...

1. What is your husband's name? Edward George Ballance Jr.
2. Who eats more? I would say him, but I can pack a lot in too.
3. Who said, "I love you" first? He did. We were standing in the basement of his house.
4. Who is taller? He is by about 4 inches
5. Who is smarter? I would say him as his brain is being used to the maximum capacity with school and my brain is being used at the 4 and 7 year old level these days.
6. Who is more sensitive? Definitely me. By leaps and bounds.
7. Who does the laundry? We both do.
8. Who sleeps on the right side of the bed? I did for the past 13 years and for the past two months he does.
9. Who pays the bills? He does (I'm horrible at math).
10. Who cooks more? I do.
11. Who is more stubborn? Definitely him.
12. Who is the first to admit they are wrong? We're pretty equal on this one.
13. Who has more siblings? I do. He has a half sister and I have four brothers.
14. Who wears the pants in the relationship? We each wear one pant leg, but he's been given charge (by God) of the belt that holds the pants up.
15. What do you like to do together? Watch movies, do puzzles, camping, hiking, cooking, ride bikes.
16. Who eats more sweets? Depends what's available in the house.
17. Guilty Pleasures? Ice cream!
18. How did you meet? He was a custodian at our church and I was new there. I was 15 and he was 20.
19. Who asked whom out first? He asked me out (after asking my dad's permission).
20. Who kissed who first? He kissed me first (and was quite the gentleman by asking if he could).
21. Who proposed? He did. On bended knee in front of Beaumont Tower at Michigan State.
22. His best features and qualities? The crinkles around his eyes when he smiles, his amazing heart, his dadding skilz and love for our kids, his laugh, his sense of humor and quick wit, his relationship with Christ, his listening ear, his encouraging words, his thinking brain, his strength in so many areas, his friendship.

here you go Anne!! Your turn. :)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

There's a battle waging inside of me. A mom battle. Last night Sam was telling me about one of his friends who's parents fight and yell at each other and slam doors. How his friend is so sad because of what is happening with his mom and dad and that they don't live together any more. It broke my heart in pieces. For this little boy. For his parents. Sam knows about divorce and separation. About so many things I never knew until I was older. I told Ed I don't want him to have to know these things! That he's only 7! I want to shelter him from the real world. I don't want him to even have to worry that what several of his friends go through and have gone through with their parents is going to happen to his mom and dad.

Then there's the other side of me that doesn't want him going into the world so naive that he won't know how to thrive or be able to care for others' hearts or how to make good choices.

It was an eye opening experience last night. I found out that he doesn't worry that Ed and I will get divorced. I explained to Sam that mom and dad do have disagreements but we always talk through things and figure it out. That we love each other very much.

I want this house and our marriage to be a sanctuary for our kids. A safe haven full of trust, joy, laughter. That here we can work through things and be respectful of each other no matter the age or difference. That we can always speak our minds without question. That Christ is evident in our actions and words. That when our kids are grown they will thrive in a world that will be so different than the world Ed and I grew up in. That they won't be scared of it but will go into it with confidence because of all they experienced and learned growing up in this family.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Last night was a page (or chapter) that will be put in history books that my kids will read in school. I enjoyed watching both speeches, am glad all the negative ads are done and am ready to move on in this country. I hope all the bitter and hateful words stop. I'm thankful we live in a country where we can worship Christ openly. Where we have the freedom to vote. Where we live in a melting pot of amazing people. I'm glad that Prop 1 here passed so the light rail transit will expand into the suburbs from downtown as I know it will help so many. The governor race is still going with only 55% of the precincts reporting due to mail in ballot and it could be weeks before we know who wins (and that it doesn't take 3 recounts like it did last time). Here they had a proposal on the ballot about assisted suicide and it's passing. I never thought I'd see the day where I was going to be making a choice if it is ok for those who medically have 3-6 months left to live to go ahead and be able to take their life early. I've never been put in that situation and hope I never will. What a sticky line to walk on.

I'm thankful for life and for living in this country. I'm thankful we have a president. A government. Freedom. Choice.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

all treats

Sam the football player and Alina the princess. They had a fun time trick or treating at all the shops around the town center down the street. We then went over to one of their friends' house (but she wasn't home) so we went up (literally) and down her street. I think the whole street could hear my two yelling "TRICK OR TREAT!!!!" at each door. I enjoyed seeing them get into it. :)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

debate results

Last night before the kids were headed to bed we had the end of the presidential debate on. This was a bit of the conversation during it.

Alina: Who are those people?
Me: Those men want to become the next president. It's like a competition.
Alina: Will the president stay the president until he dies?
Me: No.
Sam: I want that guy to win (pointing to the tv screen).
Ed: Why's that?
Sam: I like his tie better.
Ed: That's a good reason. Does a good tie make a good leader?
Sam: Yup. What's his name?
Ed: Barack Obama.
Sam: I'm going to vote for him.
Ed and I: (at the exact same time): Don't say anything about voting for him at school tomorrow. :)
Alina: I like the other guy.
Me: Why?
Alina: I like his white hair.
Sam: I like him too. He smiles a lot.
Ed: I'm not sure that's a smile.
Me: chuckling.

If only politics were so easy. I'm not a big fan of them what so ever and I don't like listening to people try to dig at each other and argue. Tell me what YOU are going to do, not what the other person has done wrong. But last night did make me lean more towards one side than the other as going in I had no clue as to who to vote for.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

no holes and holes

After mixing and rising and punching and cutting and rising and baking and dipping and coating and frosting and sprinkling, here are the baked doughnuts. Not just the doughnuts, but their holes too. Can't just throw those out!! They didn't come out like Heidi's, but the recipe was so simple and so easy. And I think just as yummy. :) And to be a tad more healthy, I used Nutella to top off some of these yummy, goodnessy treats.

before the oven

after the oven, sugar coating, frosting and decorating by Alina.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

connecting the dots

This afternoon on the way to a birthday party, we were stopped at a light and one of the many homeless people around town was standing at the corner with a sign. Sam had asked what the sign said and I responded by saying that the man was willing to work if someone had a job for him to do. Sam then asked if we could give him a job. Ed responded by saying that we don't have jobs ourselves and aren't able to give him a job. Sam then said, "Maybe mom should stand on a corner with a sign since she doesn't have a job." I know he didn't say it to be funny but both Ed and I both chuckled at this.

It fascinates me how his mind connects things. :)

Friday, October 03, 2008

I came to a realization last night. Ed and I were sitting on the couch chatting and I was finally able to put into words how anxiety hits me. With getting a "no, sorry, we picked someone else" phone call about another job yesterday, I started to once again worry. It's interesting though, that I don't become anxious when I worry. It's an after affect. I worried throughout the afternoon and into the evening. Pray. Worry. Give it back to God in prayer. Take the worry back. I know the verses to say, but letting them penetrate my heart is another thing.

My heart and mind finally rested after the kids went to bed. That's when the anxiety hit. Not being able to catch my breath to the point I think my lungs are going to explode from the pressure if I don't. That's when I realized the anxiety hits when I relax. So then I can't relax and end up part of the night wide awake thinking through all sorts of scenarios that don't even make one iota of sense.

Funny how God works, though. He placed us in a church where I am attending a women's bible study of which I knew no one the 1st night and will be doing a study called Calm My Anxious Heart. How fitting.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Saturday Fun

This past Saturday we ventured downtown to try out a place that we came across while flipping through channels one night.

Top Pot

It was actually going to be called Top Spot, but the owner said they were driving down the highway and the "S" fell off the sign (it was given to them for free), so it became Top Pot. The interior was very open and airy, but yet homey and library-ish feeling. It looked more like a coffee shop, but had the distinct smell of a doughnut shop.

These were the most amazing doughnuts I have ever had. Home made. On the box it says "Hand Forged Doughnuts". Coupled with a cup of warm apple cider, it made a great start for a chilly Saturday.

Alina had the pink frosted/pink sprinkled.

Ed and I had the Bavarian Creme filled.

Sam had a regular chocolate colored (and picked out a Husky one too).

We brought extra home to munch on throughout the next few days.

After doughnuts, we went down to the sculpture park which is along the sound. It's part of S.A.M. Seattle Art Museum. We didn't make it very far as the train track runs along the other side of the park and trains were leaving, so we stopped to watch those (mainly Sam wanted to watch them). Our hour went by really quick (the meter for the van was ticking) but it was well spent watching trains, rolling down hills and lots of running.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

music picks of a 4 year old

Yesterday on the way home from dropping Sam off at school, Alina made some music requests as we had Ed's ipod in the van with us. Her requests:

Veritgo by U2
Beautiful Day by U2
We Will Rock You by Queen (she likes the stomping and clapping)
Domino by Van Morrison
Real Gone by Sheryl Crow
Got To Be True by Steven Curtis Chapman

I forgot one on the list: Pon De Replay by Rihanna

It was quite the eclectic mix she had going.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

One thing the state of Washington does not have is a Secretary of State Office. I never thought I'd see the day that I would miss these one-stop-shopping places.

It took us over six hours to renew our licenses and get new license plates for our vehicle.

Let me take you on our Friday trip.

We had received our van as a gift from my parents and on the title it said we paid $1 for it. Little did we know that this would be a huge problem.

We went to one place over a week ago to get our license plates changed. I wouldn't even call it an "office". The guy and his dog greeted us from behind the counter and informed us that we had to have the "gift-ers" fill out a piece of paper that said the van was gifted to us. Thank goodness for technology as the gift-ers are over 2000 miles away. One scan, one e-mail and in less than one minute it was sitting at their house. Two days later we received it back from them in the mail.

So Friday was our day to change our legal stuff over to be residents of the state of WA.

We went to the licensing place first. You can only get your license here. Nothing else. We had to wait through about 20 people. Both Ed and I were afraid we were going to miss our turn. You see, there were three sets of numbers going and an automated voice would call out which counter was helping which set of numbers. And it would go quick, so we had to be on our toes. We finally get up to the counter and were told that we needed proof of residency and that our car insurance slip would not constitute as a legal form of residency. Of course, that's all we had with us, as in MI, that's all you needed. So we decided to stop and get our plates and then run home to get proof of residency and then head back there.

So off we went to get our plates and found out that we needed to have proof that tax was paid on the van by the sellers before she would issue the plates. Ed had that in the van, so that wasn't a huge problem, but then she said that we also needed an emissions test on the van before she could give us anything.

So off we went to find the emissions place. By now, three hours had gone by and we didn't have a single thing. Thankfully though, we had what they requested and got the check done and paperwork signed so we could get the plates.

A stop for lunch (and gas) and back to the license plate office (of which you could also buy a cell phone in the same room, but we passed on that). Ed waited in line another 1/2 hour, showed all the paperwork and then was asked to see his Washington drivers license. Of course, we didn't have those yet, but the guy was nice enough to let it slide and we got plates. Yay for plates!

A quick drive back home to gather the right documents for the licensing place, off to get Sam from school and then to get our licenses. Who knew that the population in that office would quadruple when we walked in. There was not a seat to be seen, so we sat on the floor and had to wait through 50 people (that were in the same number sequence as us) plus those who were a part of a different group of numbers. We finally had paper licenses in hand and could now say we are residents of the state of WA.

We got back home and realized we completely forgot to register to vote. I think that we just might have to go to a different office for that.

And when all is said and done and we move from this lovely state, I think I will have one of these made out of my license plate. Just as a memento.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


1. A conversation that took place last week after I picked Sam up from school:

Me: How was school today Sam?
Sam: It was great!
Me: What is one thing you learned today?
Sam: We talked about earthquakes!
Me: That sounds cool! What did you learn?
Sam: I had gym today.
Me (to myself): Ok...he just switched the subject.
Me: What did you do in gym?
Sam: We have to stand in the closest corner.
Me: (going with the flow) Ummm...why do you have to stand in the corner?
Sam: In case there's an earthquake. That's where we're supposed to go. We practiced disaster drills.

My Michigan brain is accustomed to tornado drills. Not earthquake drills.

2. My mother-in-law noticed something I may never have. No cars around here have rust. No matter the age of them, I have literally not seen one car with any spot of rust. No snow means no salt means no rust.

3. Last night before going to bed, I did my customary check on the kids. I noticed Alina's pillow was damp either from her crying in her sleep or sweating, so I had her sit up so I could flip it over. And when I moved the pillow, a dark shadow moved. And it moved really fast across her bed. I used one of her stuffed animals to squish it and then removed it. I took it to show Ed (in a kleenex mind you) and it was the biggest spider I have seen inside a house. Scratch that. It's the biggest spider I have seen period. Bleh!! It took awhile to get to sleep last night as I couldn't stop thinking of all the spiders lurking out there (I even checked under the covers before getting into bed). So I go to get up this morning and low and behold right when I step out of bed, there's another spider. I squash that one, make my way down the hallway and there's another one! YUCK! I really dislike spiders. I hopped on the internet wondering if there are any poisonous spiders here in this beautiful state. Reading...reading...reading...all these wonderful facts about this disliked insect and that there is only one poisonous spider in WA, but it's rarely seen. The Western Black Widow. Whew! Rarely seen means hardly ever, so we should be good. Then I read that it's only found in one county. Which one would it be? The one we live in of course.
I'm feeling all crawly like now.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

So let the sunshine in....

I told Ed on the way to dropping him off at school, that I have been very surprised by the weather here. 99% of me was expecting it to be raining. Every day. Because that's what we were told by everyone when we said we were moving to Seattle. "Hope you like the rain!" or " rains A LOT there." So I started to think that it rains here a lot. I really didn't know any different. So waking up to cloudless blue skies and 70 degree weather the past week and a half has been quite a shock to my system. And I guess it has been a bit more rainy this summer than normal. It can go two months here during the summer before any rain falls. I know its coming though. Those rainy, cloudy days are coming. Just like in Michigan, I don't expect to see the sun for weeks at a time. I wish I could pack up a day like today to put away on a shelf for one of those rainy, dreary days when I was thirsting for some sunshine. Since I can't, I'll bask in the rays while I can and get outside as much as possible before the gloomy weather sets in.

In other news, we've landed at a church. It's actually the one we visited last week (with the smoke machine...though no smoke machine this past Sunday). It's a bit different than what we're used to, but it's going to be a good experience. We're both excited to find a place to land, get involved in and the kids love it (which is such a hugely important aspect).

Now if only I could find a job as easily! Not much of a market for a 7 year stay at home mom who's degree doesn't mean much now that it's almost 10 years old. But the search continues and I know there is something right up my alley out there. Just have to find the right alley. :)

Friday, September 05, 2008

Sam started 2nd grade on Wednesday. He looked so small getting out of the van and walking towards his room. It's still hard to wrap my brain around having a 2nd grader. He made fast friends and seems to really love it at this new school. We're so excited for this year and how much he is going to learn and grow. It is so different than the past two schools he has been at. Everyone is so friendly and the principal even knows Sam, Alina, Ed and I by name and people even greet us that we don't even know. This is a small balm with not knowing anyone here and helps to start making this feel like home.

Ed and I attended Vespers last night at his school. I was able to meet students that Ed attends classes with and some of their wives. It was a time of hearing from some staff and the president as to why they continue to come back every year. We also met in small groups and talked about our journeys of how we came to the school and what brought us here. There was also a time of singing and listening to 2nd and 3rd year students read of how their lives have changed in the short time they have been here. Last was prayer for the students in each program. MDIV students and spouses, Counseling students and spouses and Christian Studies students and spouses. It was a tremendously moving evening despite being very tired.

Tonight is the neighborhood dinner at a students house where we will meet others that live in our area. Looking forward to meeting more people.

Tomorrow is convocation with a worship time and communion, then a picnic for all students and staff.

The parents head home tomorrow night. Their help the past two weeks has been tremendous and we will miss them.

Ed started working Wednesday, doing inspections for the company he worked for back in Michigan. He has two more inspections to do today, so they are keeping him busy!

Job front on my end is still slow. Lots of jobs out there, but not many for a stay at home mom for the past 7 years. Still looking daily though and continuing to pray for patience and guidance.

That's all from this side of the country!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Our house

So we found a house after crashing at Jason and Mandy's (thanks again...a ton you two) with a day to spare before the big 'ole semi came. I don't really have any pictures of moving in day b/c:

1. It was Ed and I who moved everything off the semi, with the help of our amazing mover Dennis and his wife. He pulled up and said, "Where's all your help?" Our reply, "You're looking at it." It went really smooth and only took 4 1/2 hours to unload everything.

2. All our things had to go into the garage rather than the house as the carpets were going to be cleaned the next day. So moving went in stages. Truck to garage. Garage to house. Contents to cupboards, crevices, shelves. Any place that was open, something went in it.

Here is one picture of our kitchen/eating area before it started being unpacked.

We're more settled now than we were a week ago thanks to Hillary, my parents and Ed's mom. It's been quite the two weeks!

The kitchen/dining area. Ed bought a wire rack and a microwave stand (and a microwave) as I ran out of cupboard space fast. I do miss my other kitchen, but am settling in well here.

The green room. This is off the kitchen/eating area and warms up pretty good from the eastern sunrise (and brightens up really early in the morning too).

A picture from the green room one of our first mornings here.

The living room is where Ed's office is, the piano and the couches. It's a nice cozy place with lots of books to be read. It has two pocket doors, so the room is able to be closed off when necessary.

Our bedroom. I thought our bedroom at the other house was huge. We rattle around in this one. I told the kids when company comes, they can come sleep in our closet. Or any of you with babies that come and visit us, your child will be sleeping in the closet.'s big enough for a pack and play (which I brought with) and room to walk around it. Not because your child deserves to be sent to the closet. :)

Our very green bathroom attached to our room. Glad I don't dislike green. The kids have been in the tub more than I have.

Exterior of the house. Front and back. I took the mountain pictures today as I wanted to preserve them for all the cloudy days that we will have coming up. Either the clouds or the townhouses being built behind will come first. I think if I owned this house and lived here, I would be sick to my stomach losing this view to a two story row house that will be four feet from the back fence. So sad.

So there you have it. Our casa for the next few years. So come whenever you like. You will have a place to lay your head, a table to eat some food and some company that would love to see you.