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.