Thursday, August 6, 2015

Blogging from the waiting room

This is the 2nd time this summer I have blogged from a waiting room...both literally and metaphorically!  We are still waiting to be matched up for an adoption - seeing a few more profiles of sibling sets and going through the process but not being matched.  We've had lots of appointments for Colleen at the children's hospital recently, which means some long days again.  No complaints - I'm just remembering some of the 'tricks' to staying busy/awake while waiting.
We really haven't traveled much this summer, which one might think would be boring for us.  Actually, this summer has been filled w/'excitement' - and yes, I put quotes around it b/c some of the things are not the good kind of excitement!  As much as we want to do a bunch of traveling, it has become clear that it was not meant to be this summer.  All these appointments have sort of muddied the waters when it come to trying to schedule stuff.  This summer the kids were able to participate in a few camps, which was really fun!  Colleen LOVED the fishing class, while Moses did soccer and soccer and more soccer!  We've met some of the neighbors now and that is pretty cool.
Some recent happenings involve a raccoon family...for those of you not 'friends' w/me on Facebook, we had a mom and 3 young getting into the chicken coop.   Annoying!!  One night they didn't bother the chickens, the next night they killed Brownie and the next night Dave rescued poor Jessie Hen in the middle of the fray.  She has still yet to open/use her eye much...we were worried she lost it!  She's sort of a pirate chicken now...so!  Our chicken coop was an amalgamation of things - a drafting table, a picnic table and benches, a rabbit hutch, etc....too many 'connections' that were not strong against predators.  As I type this, my sweet hubby is building a one piece coop.  W/all the lumber he has purchased, it looks to be a mini-house!  I was really proud of him for designing the last coop from what we had and I know this one is going to be even better!
The kids will no longer be going to the same school next year.  Long story short, Colleen will be in the local school and Moses will be finishing elementary in the bilingual program.  It will be nice b/c I think us girls can bike 'into town' to drop her off at school!  The kids got new-to-us bikes that better fit them now that they have grown and she's finding it easier to go on long rides.  It's 3 miles, so not far at all, but there's a hill or 2 on the way.  We are looking forward to learning about her new school!
In other news...it looks like we'll be vehicle shopping soon.  =(  We were planning to drive one of our vehicles into the ground and it seems like that time is here.  BLARGH!  W/kids in 2 different schools, not to mention living farther out of town, being a one car family doesn't seem possible.  Part of me likes the hunt but the other part of me wishes the vehicle fairy could just deliver our fave kind to the doorstep!  First world problems...
The other day when we rode our bikes to town, the local HS football team was practicing.  FOOTBALL SEASON IS COMING!!  The Packers have their first pre-season game next week...our family is ready!  We are trying to get up to GB for one of their practices, but we'll see.  It's a busy summer, despite not doing much traveling!  Who knew?!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Adoption update . . .

Last post left some people hanging and it's time to tell 'the rest of the story'....
We finally heard back from the case worker and they chose the other family for the sibling set of 3.  Cue sound of deflating balloons and horns trailing off...As Colleen says, BUMMER!!!  Well, we have had a lot of other things going on to distract us.  So in true ME fashion, I'm going to rattle off a random list...
- We got kayaks!  We tested them out and so far so good.  We were out in the Great Lake Michigan the other day - it was a beautiful day!!  Mo paddled his own and Colleen sat in mine.  When we were almost all the way back, Colleen elected to switch to Mo's kayak.  It was so much fun hearing them laugh and Mo tried to get her to harmonize w/him, singing Beatles' tunes.  They crack me up!  She was imitating his diction and such, not his tone, b/c she didn't get what he meant.  He kept trying, and laughing, and trying again to explain tone.  Finally they got it and they didn't sound bad at all!  Mo is a pretty good singer since he has an exceptional ear for pitch/tone whatever you call it...I do not, hence the fact that I don't even know what to call it!
- The house is slowly getting into shape.  I am almost ready to put up pictures and decorate!  I have a vision for at least one room and I'm working on it for a few others.
- We got 3 new chickens.  Daisy, Sugar and Cinnamon!  We've been letting the 8 hens free range a bit in the afternoons.  Mostly they come back to the coop at night.  But - it seems they need a little assistance at times.  A few nights in a row, the feed bucket was getting dumped over by some scoundrels - we were guessing it was a raccoon but it could have been a deer.  (They have been really aggressive - eating TONS of my hostas, even the ones by the windows!!)  Then one night we couldn't find Daisy.  We hoped she would come back, but it's been a few nights and there's no sign of her.  The same night the whole entire 3 gal bucket went missing.  GONE.  No sight of it either.  We blame raccoons....Or something else big enough to haul a pail far enough into the woods that we can't find it!!  Ah well, country living, I guess.  So now we have 7 chickens total and I am sure to put them to bed a little earlier.  We've also heard a barn owl at 4 in the afternoon and seen hawks and such.  There are tons of toads, frogs, salamanders, hummingbirds, dragonflies, butterflies, etc...Colleen is in heaven catching things every day, sometimes multiples times a day!
- We spent some great days w/friends, celebrated a birthday, put up a screen house (twice!), camped a bit and Moses did a Dirty Ninja Mud Run!  All good things.  We've biked to town a few times and started attending a church closer to home.  We've toured the local school and there are a few doctor appointments and summer camps on the calendar.  We are praying for many friends and family members as they deal w/their own health issues and changes in their own lives.  There's always room for more on our prayer list, so let us know if you want to be added =)
- Our adoption case worker came out to the house to update our file.  Walked through the house, checked off a few things from the list of necessary papers she needed and we are about to be re-licensed.  We're ready for whatever God has planned for us next!  Thanks for praying for us and continually encouraging us...there are many emotions on this road and we lean on our family and friends often.  We appreciate you!  Thank you and if we hear anything else, we'll be sure to update again!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Nibbles

We are due for a foster care/adoption update!  If you recall, after our last foster placement we decided to go straight to adoption.  We'd really like to focus on permanently growing our family for a season.  A bunch of time has gone by since we made that decision (2 years?!) and the first adoption nibble was around last Thanksgiving.  I have mentioned it in an earlier post, but just to recap - the little guy that was 'presented' to us at the time became unavailable for adoption.  Fast forward 6 months and for reasons vaguely tossed our way, he became available again.  We didn't feel too strongly about adopting him the first time and this time we definitely felt unsettled about it...it's sort of a long story and if you know us in person, feel free to ask.  We'll share what we can!  Of course, it stinks that us saying 'no' to receiving him as a placement means that he is still in need of one...I hate that a child is waiting - but at the same time, if we are not a good fit for him, it would be in everyone's best interests not to bring him here...are you sensing my mommy guilt?  Adoption is such a clump of emotions!!  Guarding our hearts but yet trying to leave them open at the same time!!  Anyway - fast forward a few weeks and our state social worker called and left a message.  It sort of went something like this...

I know you said no to the last placement and I haven't heard much from you (we'd been playing phone tag!) but I wanted to see if you are still interested in adoption.  Your license is up for renewal so I was just checking if you'd still like to be in the program...

I nearly dropped the phone!  Yes of course we still want to be in the program!  You can bet I called her back faster than you can say pizza!  When I spoke to her in person, she said that the last time we talked she had profiles of a lot of teen boys but that wasn't the case at the moment...she had some profiles of sibling sets (that's just what I/we wanted to hear!) and she was hoping we would consider looking at them since we were one of the few families she knew of that were able and willing to take multiple children.  I made sure not to drop the phone that time and did my best to keep my voice from squeaking!  Send me the profiles!  All the sibling sets!!  I'm ready!  She said she'd make sure to get them out today and after that I just stopped listening.  Bye, I have to go call my husband and tell him we need to get this place in shape if a bunch of small kids are going to be joining us soon!  I smell a trip to the big box store!!  Somebody tell me to take a deep breath - even in telling/writing this story I get a little over dramatic and excited =)  Of course, I reminded myself that just b/c we would see the profiles, it didn't necessarily mean we would be picked as a match or that we would even say yes to be 'in the running' for the kids anyway.  Step one: Read the profiles.  Step two: Tell the social worker if you want to be considered.  Step three: Wait to see if they choose you....
Well, that timeline is all fine and dandy if there are no other outside influences or variables...!!  I incessantly checked my email every 10 minutes, no lie.  Nothing came.  It was a Weds.  Went to bed.  Woke up checking my email at 6am like the social worker was burning the midnight oil to send that email to me.  (All the foster/adoptive parents can stop laughing now!)  Thurs came and went.  Fri came and went.  Tossed and turned at night, went from mentally preparing to trying desperately not to think about it...God's plan is best.  So is His timing even if I am still learning that lesson!  Monday I got a little worried.  We were still finishing up the re-licensing stuff and needed a few things from the SW.  Dave called and asked (as politely as possible) if she had been on vacation or something...she was out of the office for a few days!  PHEW - I thought it was some sort of test!  Anyway - I'm not sure if I would have passed or not...Tues we got 2 emails!!!  After talking and praying about it, we decided to say yes to one of the sibling sets on Weds.  And began to wait...One week later and we got notice that the case workers for the kids wants to meet with us!!  They will 'present' the case file to us!  It basically means we can ask a bunch of questions and hopefully get lots more info...
AGAIN -
this is super exciting and awesome and nerve-wracking and special and emotional and all of that and more!!  But in the adoption world?  It doesn't mean much.  We are one teeny tiny baby step closer to having more kids in the house...it's still a long way to an actual adoption.  We know that, we get that, we've done the dance, been there, seen the sights, got the T-shirt, sent our moms a postcard...I wouldn't say we are super experienced at this but we do know a few things.  The 'step one step two' list up there?  I re-wrote it.  It should look a little bit more like this..
Step one: Pray
Step two: Ask everyone you know to pray.
Step three: Pray some more.
Step four: Pray as you clean your house!
Step five: Begin thinking about what you may (or may not) need if more people start living in your house...basically re-evaluate the space and stuff you have.
Step six: Wait.  You can pray while you are doing Step 5 too =)
So now you are one of the awesome people who are privy to this information and you are wondering what you should do about it?  Yes - if you said PRAY, you are correct!!  What can you pray for?  First and foremost, pray for the 3 kids.  There is a reason they are in foster care, waiting to be adopted.  Pray for their emotions and how they will handle a possible move.  Pray for their protection and well-being, pray for their hearts, pray for their family - I don't begin to think I know what is happening there.  Please pray for us as we mentally, emotionally and physically prepare for something that may or may not happen.  Pray for unity and the bonds that are existing here, for the bonds that may or may not be formed in the future.  I'm sure there are a ton of other ways you can think of as you pray for us!  We are grateful that many of you have already been praying for us!!  Thank you - of course we look forward to updating everyone as we can...please keep in mind that many of the details are not able to be shared yet- in time, we pray that if it is God's will, we will be able to share much more =)
(By the time I hit publish on this, we have a Tues June 23 appt w/case workers and the state permanency worker...baby steps...)

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Signs you had a great weekend...

- The temps outside may or may not have been over 80*!  We sat on the deck yesterday, actually complaining about how hot it was!  One weather app said it was 83* while the other said 79*.  Yes, we have turned into those people who sit and check our apps, comparing temps and arguing about which one is more accurate...either way - it was probably the hottest day of the season.  We are looking forward to many more!!
- It was so hot you went to the beach.  =)  The beach that is now less than a mile from your house!
- You bought potted flowers and hung them around your yard.
- The $3 metal slinky you bought seems to be working to confuse/deter/scare the squirrels and chipmunks from climbing the pole and eating all the bird seed you put in the feeder!
- You didn't have to get up the next day for one of your jobs, b/c you were finally able to quit for the summer, which means that over the past 5 days off your eczema has healed considerably.
- You were able to enjoy a holiday parade (two actually) in small town Americana!  The best part was not knowing when OTown's parade started...so we guessed 9am.  We rolled up to Center St (that's really the name of it!), which is the largest street in the maybe 4 street town and ARGH!  It was the end of the parade!  Apparently it had started at 8:45...but someone told us it ends at the school (2 maybe 3 blocks away) and if we hurried we might catch the beginning.  Sure enough - we made it!  So we got to see the end and then the whole thing all over again!  10 minutes later, we were off to the school gym for the Memorial Day program.  It was pretty special - this WWII vet had the parachute (thin, hardly looked like it could have held up 100 pounds!) from when he bailed out over Germany...he then used it to wrap up, stay warm and avoided lice.  "That parachute saved my life twice!"  He explained there was a panel missing from it b/c his mother used it to make a baptismal gown for his daughter.  Pretty amazing...glad we were able to hear that and that the kids were too.
- The garden boxes are almost all set up.  I'm sure the deer have already walked through them since I put at least one of them right on one of the trails they use.  This is going to be an interesting year for gardening!
- You taught your kids some fun games and you had a lot of laughs as you played...
- You got to hear your daughter read, sing and talk her way through a robot build.  She's been on this robot kick...she is always telling me about how she would design one, what it would do and then where can we get plans for that?  All the robot books in the library system are not good enough!  It is so special to see her mind work...forget handwriting and anything hand strength, forget the IEP, let's just skip ahead to robot building!  Forget types of soil, forget comparing and contrasting stuff, let's just get to mechanics and physics and circuitry...(goodness, I guessed and spelled that word right!  Does that mean I'm qualified to teach my kid this stuff?!)
- Your son played hours of music, all by ear, banging out some of your favorites.  He even figured out songs he's never played before, chords and all...he's my own personal playlist.
- A really great group of friends helped you move the chicken coop!!  The girls are home!  Eggs out the back door again, finally!  So far no predators have gotten in, and I've seen no evidence that they have tried.  I did see the hawk circling but he's done that before.  I forgot how loud they can be - it makes me feel like I'm in a movie, somewhere in the desert, about to be attacked...but I don't panic in real life b/c I live in the woods and I want that hawk to keep the chipmunk population down!
- You attended a surprise birthday party for a close friend - it was so much fun chatting w/friends while we waited for the guest of honor!  It was fun seeing the surprises play out...
- Quite possibly best of all - very little to no worries all weekend.  It was so relaxing - got a few chores done, got to have fun and enjoy the sun too...just got to be w/family and friends...I'm sure I'm leaving something out but honestly, these things alone made it a great weekend!  Here's to many more!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

New - new - new - news!

(I wrote this post in Feb, but just edited a few things...)
I just finished the Christmas post for 2014 (yes it's already Feb of 2015) and I have an avalanche of news to share...I always do, yes, it's ok, you don't have to mutter that under your breath -  you can say it out loud!
So here we are in our new house...been here for 2.5 months now.  No pictures on the walls yet and still a bunch of boxes to unpack, but it's home.  We are *this close* to having the other house empty and soon it will get a fresh interior paint job and a good scrubbing.  Then - it will be for sale.  If you should have any interest in the house or know of anyone looking for a wonderful 4 BR, please let me know!!  We have begun the slow adjustment to being a 'country' family.  I packed an extra change of clothes for each of the kids' cubbies at school.  Right before we moved, Mo 'fell in a puddle' on the school playground and I was all "Note to self..."  Luckily, living in town, less than 5 minutes from the school, I was able to run over there w/a fresh change of clothes.  Now?  Not so much, for more than one reason!  We are only about 18 minutes from the school now, but still.  That and...since we don't have kids at home and we currently have 2 mortgages draining the vacation funds, I have begun working again.  Long story short...I am working in the deli of a nearby grocery store and I am an Educational Asst. at the kids' school.  Each for about 4 hrs of the day.  On a good week I am working close to 40 hours, but it's been busy due to social engagements and doctors appointments, etc, so I usually am scheduled for about 25-30.  All of that (minor stress, harsh chemicals when doing dishes at work, etc...) means my eczema broke out again - it started back in October but really flared up...it was the worst I have had in a long time.  I felt like a leper!  It left and it's back again, ARG, but I am treating it and moving on.  Just be gentle if you shake my hand please!  There's some cool things about working though - and some odd things.  For starters, I used to work in the same grocery chain's deli in high school.  Twenty years ago.  So oddly, my first day it was like riding a bike.  I have to laugh though at finding myself standing at a meat slicer or scale and singing along to the same songs I did 20 years ago!!  Only this time, I won't be going out w/my boyfriend when I get off my shift.  HA!  Seriously, it's a messed up time warp feeling to be in an almost 40 year old body, doing the same stuff I did at 17...
Right before we moved, we were about to meet a little guy who might have been placed w/us for adoption.  Then his current foster mom changed her mind about keeping him...which turned out to be for the best, we think, since we ended up moving and that wouldn't have been too great for a little guy to move in w/us and then move again.  (You really do know what You're doing, don't You, God...?!)  It was sort of bittersweet, of course...it hurt like nobody's business to be closer to adopting than we had in years and for it to not work out.  However, we were cautious about it all and again, we can see how it was for the best.   Now we're here and the adoption worker has come to give the house a once over and adjust our file to reflect all the new changes.  I hate that I am working right now (being honest!) for many reasons, but all this reminds me that I don't want it to hurt our chances of adopting.  And then I have to tell myself to back up a few lines in this paragraph and read the part about God knowing what He's doing =)
In other news, Mo recently had minor surgery but recovered extremely well.  Kids seem to just bounce back from stuff like that!!  He was out of gymnastics team practice for a while and we worried about his progress for an upcoming meet.  It turns out we shouldn't have been...he did the best he's done yet!  He actually earned his first medals!  He was so proud - and actually, right after he finished his floor routine, he let out a big "YES!" b/c he knew how much he had improved!  That feeling alone would have been worth it, but to see him beaming on the podium when he got a medal was one of the best moments of my life.  I had to swipe some tears from my face and Dave just looked at me....we both had those lumps in our throats and were blinking a lot...when my former 4 pound preemie sat back down, this momma bent low and waded through the crowd of limber boys to tackle her kid w/a giant bear hug!!!  He later said, "All my practicing paid off!"  Yes, yes it did babe...we cannot wait for the next one.  Last year he qualified for state but it took place during spring break so we opted out.   This year?  Done and done!
We recently had a 'weight check' at Children's for Colleen - she GRADUATED from the program due to her sustained almost average BMI!!!!  We were overjoyed and again, Dave and I just locked watery eyes and shared a silent moment remembering how far we've come w/our girl and her eating issues.  She is by no means 'cured' or completely over the issues - we still do 3-4 bottles of high calorie drink a day, she still only eats mini- meals, she rarely if ever says she is hungry, etc...but she is at a weight that is acceptable.  We will continue to be vigilant in her care and such but it's such a freeing feeling to know that she did it!!  She has what it takes to hang in there (even now taking an appetite suppressant type of med) and fuel her body w/enough calories to help her grow.  We also recently finished her IEP for school so we are learning a lot about her status there.  We are grateful for the teachers at her school and their willingness to work with us and support her.  She's getting more snacks at school, which helps keep the calorie count up!  They are also still working w/her on her hand strength, among other things.  I could go on about a bunch of things there, but the bottom line is that there are services available to her and it is clear she needs them.  Not sure what it means for her educational future, but for now, we continue to learn and figure out ways to help.  Colleen has a big ballet/dance recital coming up!  She is excited to wear a costume but at the same time she has been asking a lot about other sports too.  She misses gym/swim, I think!  Our Y has classes where they do a half hour of sports and then go to swim class.  She's too old for them now!  She asked about basketball, hockey (??) and football.  Maybe some of her momma's hockey love is rubbing off on her...I looked into the mighty mite sports or whatever but none of them fit our schedule.  Maybe this summer?
Well, there's a hundred other new things but at the moment I'm tuckered out.  If there's something you really want to hear more about, leave a comment and I'll try to find time to write about it.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Merry Christmas 2014 aka Merry Valentines-mas 2015

(Once again, we are not sending Christmas cards out in the traditional way - see the end of this post for more on that...We hope you enjoy this online version! If you regularly read my blog, some of these stories will sound familiar...)
AWAY.  That word can have a lot of connotations in English!  There's gone away, put away, laid away, away game, far away, carried away, do away with something, get away, eating away at something, pass away, run away, right away...you see what I mean?  I bet you can think of a few more!  The theme of our past year was AWAY...keep reading to see if you can spot the various versions of AWAY in all our activities!
January - we wanted to GET AWAY from the bitter bitter cold!!  There were record low temps coupled with record wind chills...We found it ironic that the movie Frozen came out during this time!  On the coldest day of the year we bundled up, covered up and manned up to get to the theater to see the movie!  And of course, like many of your kids, we still get CARRIED AWAY and cannot stop singing the songs =)
February - we didn't do much, it was still so cold! - so maybe we were HIDING AWAY?
March - Momma and Colleen's hair was SWEPT AWAY!  Short haircuts for everyone!  We are so much happier in the mornings these days - no more snarls, Charles!  Also some of our savings DRAINED AWAY as we purchased a new camper.  We had been saving for a long time to make that big of a purchase and it felt so good to reach that goal!  We took the new camper on an inaugural journey over spring break to KY and TN, our first of many times AWAY FROM HOME during 2014.  The weather SCARED OTHERS AWAY from camping but not us!  It was almost 60* most days but since we were in the mountains there were flurries one day!  There are so many cool things out there, we hope to get back.  Upon returning from break, the theater group I was a part of had a number of performances.  Some special memories were made those nights!
April - We ROLLED AWAY - we had the opportunity to go to a roller rink and go skating!  Each year the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation's local chapter hosts some fundraisers...this was the kids' first time roller skating (they've had rollerblading units at school) and it had been a long time for Dave and me!
May - All 4 of us RAN AWAY from the starting line in a family fun run to raise money for Bookworm Gardens, a really special place that combines books and plants - 2 of our family's favorite things!  If you ever get the chance, I strongly encourage you to go check it out.  You don't have to be a kid to enjoy it and if you'd like company, please call us!  We love to go!  May was an eventful month - we were WHISKED AWAY to a medical room when Moses needed his first stitches on his hand.
June - Dave and Mo shouted "BOMBS AWAY" as they did cannonballs off the board at a pool party celebrating the baptism of some dear friends' daughters.
July - July - August - This family was AWAY FROM HOME many more days than they were actually at home!!  The end of June was filled with things like football camp, camping and boating and eating ice cream every day in Waupaca, camping at Plymouth Rock with some of the best friends who have MOVED AWAY and then at Kohler Andrae State Park with some friends who don't live FAR AWAY at all!  In July we headed to Door County and Harrington Beach.  Somewhere in there we squeezed in a 15 year anniversary celebration...I am so glad that tall skinny curly haired boy I had a crush on did not SHY AWAY from this talkative goofy nerdy girl...!  And as if that wasn't enough to pack into a summer vacation, on one of the last days of July we shoved off for what was FAR AND AWAY one of the best parts of 2014!  For 24 days, we were AWAY FROM HOME again...we headed west to see Dave's brother and family in WA, stopping along the way to see Sioux Falls, ND (again!), Yellowstone National Park and Seattle, just to mention a few.  We camped in our HOME AWAY FROM HOME and praised God for each and every blessing- the camper, the family who let us steal their daughter for a beach GET-AWAY and for many traveling mercies along the way.  It was so hard to leave and DRIVING AWAY I cried.   I/We miss them a lot and I hope we can repeat the trip again soon.  But first we have to go visit the CA branch of the family!!  We miss them a ton too!!
September - I SNUCK AWAY for a girls' weekend in Door County!  Much fun was had - friendships were strengthened and laughter/tears shared.  Moses practiced his FADE AWAY jumper at his first basketball camp.  It was really cool to find out his gym teacher was one of the camp coaches!
October - Fall camping in the Kettle Moraine Forest TOOK OUR BREATH AWAY...it brought up a lot of memories for me since that's where my grandparents and my family did a lot of camping as I was growing up.  We really have a lot of treasures here in WI in our parks, forests and recreational areas!  By the end of the month we were BLOWN AWAY by a house/property we visited...it was BY FAR AND AWAY one of the best we have seen over the years.  We began to crunch numbers, determined to keep the house from being THE (other) ONE THAT GOT AWAY...
November - We watched some of our money get CARTED AWAY as we bought the house!!  We HAMMERED AWAY at the packing and paperwork, set aside some things to GIVE AWAY and had some work done on the new house.  We were sort of in the clouds that month - not sure if it was a dream or reality that one of our (ok, mostly my!) goals was getting crossed off the list!
December - Where did December go?  I know we didn't WASTE THE DAYS AWAY...we were so busy running loads between the two houses and such that I didn't even get a Christmas 'letter'/blog post up!  Among other things!  However, we did get the new house in shape and unpacked a few boxes.  It is beginning to feel like home and we are realizing truly how blessed we are that the Lord kept this house TUCKED AWAY in the woods for us.  For so long I had been searching for houses/acreage using the map search feature.  I was mostly looking west of the city in which we had been living, not finding much.  There were a lot of old farmhouses in disrepair we had visited, or nicer houses but w/smaller properties or locations not suitable for what we dreamed of doing.  Our poor realtor had been dragged out to some remote locations while we scoped out woods, drafty houses and farmland...!  When talking to one of her co-workers about our quest, our realtor was surprised to hear that there was a property just south of us that might be suitable!  The funny thing was that it did not show up on map search due to an address change 7 years ago.  (Google is a bit behind, I guess!)  It's like this house was on hold, SQUIRRELED AWAY, just waiting for us...the house hunt taught me patience, that's for sure.  Is this place perfect?  Of course not.  But there are so many things about it that I could not have planned!  We are less than a mile from the lake, which I said I could never leave, we are in the midst of our own 10 acres, there is a fireplace and some special nooks and unique features, the long driveway is rustic - not even paved!  I could go on...=) but I won't.
Now you know I couldn't write this whole post w/o adding some photos...since it's been such a full year, it was so hard to choose just a few to include!  So I made a huge slideshow!!  It's just under 11 minutes long, so please get comfortable =)  And the song that is below (just hit play) is sort of our end of 2014/beginning of 2015 theme song!  We are trying new things and entering new territory, literally and figuratively!...more on all of that in the next post, which I promise is not months away but should be posted soon!  Finally, it seems weird saying it in February, but MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!  We hope and pray you enjoyed the holiday season and were able to spend Valentine's Day w/some loved ones!  Remember, God loves you and so do we!


We hope you enjoyed this green version of our Christmas card!  There are lots of reasons we decided to do things differently a couple of years ago...here's a few:
1) Save postage. We love you, but we're cheap!
2) Save paper. You just recycle those cards after you read them...you do recycle them eventually, don't you??
3) Save printing costs. See reason #1!
4) Save stress. Nothing to print, sign, stuff, address...
5) Expand our options! Now you can see a practically limitless amount of photos.
6) Our greeting to you is saved in cyber-space for posterity! Yes, we can be that vain sometimes!
7) It went so well the past years...we heard a lot of positive responses, and even some people who said they'd try it themselves. Welcome to the dark (green) side! (Sorry that was a goofy Star Wars joke...)


Monday, September 22, 2014

July, August and September 2014 so far..

There's so much I want to write!  And of course very little time...
You'll never guess what we did in July!  We camped =)  We went up to Door County and tested out the new Harrington Beach campground.  And celebrated Colleen's birthday too!  It was another month where we were pretty much gone more than home.  It was really good though, for more than one reason.  For one, it was good practice for the long August road trip.  We were constantly thinking about what we would need, how we could improve on the storage, finding a system that would work while we were gone for 3 weeks, sometimes w/o getting to big cities w/a box store.  Also, we did some really awesome stuff!  Normally, I am not comfortable enough in the boat to go out into Lake Michigan much.  I get panic attacks, mostly when I can't see the shore or there are waves bigger than, oh say, 6".  Which, on Lake Michigan, is a lot of the time!  However, I love Rock Island and Dave was trying to convince me to take the boat from a launch in Door Co all the way to the island.  I wanted to do it...but I also didn't want to puke, pass out, or hyperventilate in the middle of the bay.  I finally decided the big adventure would be memorable enough and the bay isn't nearly as choppy as the big lake.  On a scale of 1-5, the only time I got to a 3 or 4 was when we chose to stop for gas.  We didn't HAVE to, but we thought it would be better to play it safe than get caught out of gas in the twilight.  We had to cross between the islands and the big lake water was tossing us around!!  I survived though...and it was so worth it!!  How many people can say they did that?  Again, we learned a lot for the next time we do it.  B/c yeah, I'm ready to do it again next summer!  
On to August.  We left the homestead in late July for a 24 day road trip - all the way to WA State to see Dave's brother and family!  Again, we camped along the way =)  We were able to go back to the Badlands, the Black Hills, Custer State Park, Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone.  I could talk for hours about what we saw and did!  There were animals of all kinds spotted by all 4 of us...we cooked some yummy meals over the campfire and hiked and hiked!  We got to see some beautiful country and it was a huge blessing that we could 'camp' right outside our family's house.  The cousins wasted no time running off and playing and it was almost like we were still in WI.  By that I mean that the WA house was sort of similar to the WI house they had and since it was all their same furniture and stuff in it, well...we felt like we were in our home away from home!  They fed us, took us to church, showed us around and stayed up late talking.  It was like the old days.  Dave and I used to go to their house a lot when we first started dating and...ARG no crying while typing a blog post!!!  After a few days, we took the oldest niece still living at home and headed to the coast to camp.  We hiked to the northernmost/westernmost corner of the US!  The beach was beautiful...so many memories made there too!  Then it was back to home base and well, it was really hard to leave.  Let's just leave it at that.  =)  The trip back home was fun too - well, ok, I won't lie, I was complaining a lot more about a sore behind from sitting in the truck!  We had fun but pushed it a little more to get home faster.  And then - we had a mountain of laundry, a 4lb pack of mail, lots of political robo-calls and almost 2000 pics to go through!  It wasn't long and we celebrated Mo's birthday and then we were at school for the open house, meeting teachers and finding cubbies.  Dave went back to meetings and paperwork while I figured out how to calm the voices in my head that were trying to fill the silence here at home.  Last year I was home all year w/no extra kids, but phew!  It was a tough transition this year.  It was a rapid one, an abrupt one...I went from living w/3 other people in close proximity (less than 200 sq ft maybe?) to rambling around an empty casa more than 5 times that size!  It was hard.  I kept grumbling about everyone else getting to do something new and exciting while I went back to packing lunches and cleaning.  Ok, that's a lie, I rarely clean.  I'll say running errands...anyway - I'm over it now but I had a whiny re-entry into regular life!  I really want to have more adventures.  It doesn't help that one of my best friends and her family drove off in their motorhome/house for a life of travel and adventure.  I keep reading their stories and daydreaming about driving my camper over to wherever they are!  Again, I'm over it now, but yeah.  I had to go through an attitude adjustment...
September is not quite over yet but it's had adventure of it's own!  I was able to get away for the weekend to Door Co w/some good girlfriends from church.  We laughed, talked, wine tasted and hiked...another weekend found us at the Y for the first gymnastics meet of the year!  For the boys, no other teams accepted the invite to compete, so the judge scored and provided notes for them to learn from.  It was great to see the improvements in Mo's strength and endurance from last year!  He was a lot more focused this year I think.  It's going to be a fun season!  This year Colleen is taking ballet instead of gymnastics.  We get to go to a dance recital!  Looking forward to that too...Sorry there's no pictures in this post.  I was going to find some, but I'm distracted today.  I can only do one thing at a time!  I'll come back, hopefully later in the week, w/some pictures and other updates.  I'm so glad I got to write and I'm not even behind on the housework - take that, laziness and clutter collection!