Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas 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 or see my Facebook posts, some of these stories will sound familiar...)

I thought I was busy this year, but when I went back to see previous Christmas posts, I don't think I wrote one in 2014!!  Now I feel pretty smug about getting this one done, even if it is later than I would like.  Normally, I would come up with some sort of special theme for our Christmas letter, but this year my brain feels too old and tired to think of something unique!  So this is an ordinary top ten list, which doesn't mean there were the only 10 important things that happened, just 10 that I'd like to highlight here...remember that you can click on any of the photos to see them larger =)
TOP TEN of 2015
(in chronological order)
1) Team Chran wedding - 
In February, I was a bridesmaid in the wedding of a good friend.  It was a beautiful day and the wedding was so much fun!  More importantly, two God loving people were united in marriage and they began a journey together that will never end.

2) Moses' gymnastics season - 
This year Moses was able to participate in the State Gymnastics meet for boys!  It was held in Sheboygan and it was a great way to end the season.  Since then, a new season has begun and Mo was very excited in February when he won his first medal!  Slowly his strength and flexibility are improving and he is beginning to make the connection between all the practices and the results at the meets.  We are looking forward to his first boys only meet in January of 2016!

3) Spring Break in TN w/good friends - 
There is absolutely nothing like going to see some of your best friends and using their location as a vacation destination!  In fact, we've done it for quite a few spring breaks in the past!  This time we parked our camper close to our friends' home and shared conversations, meals and even tears.  We miss them so much!!  (Side note - we need to take more pics when we get together!)

4) Colleen's dance recital - 
This past year Colleen chose to try dance instead of gymnastics.  She was very excited to get a new leo and some ballet shoes =)  Her recital was a new experience for all of us!  How my tiny ballerina shined!  The focus it took to complete the dance steps was a challenge and she rose to it.  Afterwards she was adorned with a medal and the hugest smile appeared on her face.  She smiled for pictures with us and didn't shy away from being the star of the show.  If you know her (or any child who suffers from attachment issues), you know that this is RARE.  I just kept hugging her but I made sure to take thousands of photos too!!  I want that moment to live in my brain, front and center, so I can just bask in it when there are difficult days.

5) We CLOSED on the sale of our previous home - 
In 2014 we packed up our lives and in the first week of Dec we moved into a new home.  In spring of 2015, we were finally ready to put our previous home up for sale.  We started the process with prayer - we were warned that a 4 bedroom house could be either a blessing or a curse - many people desire it but cannot afford it...we felt some pressure to lower the price we wanted but in the end, I think the realtor helped us choose just the right asking price.  Within the first week, there were many showings and much interest!  In a short time, an offer was made and accepted.  And just like that - the SOLD sign was up and we were free of the 2nd mortgage!  We truly believe this is a miracle - God did this, not us.  The 'stats' and 'trends' predicted we would be sitting on the house for a while...but when God shows up, the stats and trends are thrown to the wind!  It was a bittersweet time for us, one we will never forget.

6) Ninja mud run - 
In July, Moses participated in a Dirty Ninja Mud Run!  It was right up his alley - obstacles, mud and showing off his skills!  I was that crazed parent trying to keep up and run alongside the course, getting photos and videos but trying to stay dry and clean =)  It was so much fun to watch and Moses had a blast!  It's on our calendar for next year - if you know of a kid who likes that kind of stuff and wants to join - let us know!

7) Building a chicken coop - 
One of the biggest summer projects we decided to undertake was to build a predator proof chicken coop.  We lost a chicken to a raccoon in our old coop, but that was definitely not predator proof.  Then a friend loaned us some live traps and we caught many (over 10!) over the course of a month or 2.  It was clear that it was time to build a serious structure.  My handy husband made a plan and we looked at the materials we had available in our collection.  Together we worked (but mostly he did) in the backyard and driveway.  There was nail gun use, hammer use, ladder use and even painting!  I am very proud of Dave for designing and building a structure that is predator proof and will withstand time and elements of nature!

8) Losing Pippa -
One of the first chickens Dave ever hatched (back when he was a 4K teacher and hatched eggs in his classroom), was Pippa.  She was so unique!  She had a mohawk, was more than one color and was amazingly friendly.  She was the tiniest chicken we have had to date, but she was always the #1 in the pecking order.  Her tiny self kept all the others in line!  This December, we put a light in the new coop to see if we could get the new chickens back on track, laying eggs again.  Within days, Pippa started to look not well.  She hasn't laid eggs in a while and we don't expect her to since she is of 'advanced age'.  However, the light seemed to trigger something in her body and she began to stand like a penguin.  Her head was back, her tail was pointed down and she often stood in the middle of the fray, looking asleep.  She moved slow and appeared to be in pain.  After reading about her penguin stance, we decided she was probably egg bound (not with a real egg, but a liquid one or maybe elements of a shell had broken inside...).  Either way, we gave her a nice warm bath to make her feel more comfortable and then Dave ended her misery.  We sent her to chicken heaven....I feel like I am writing more about this than any other part of our year!!
But you have to understand two things...1) Pippa grew up alongside Moses and Colleen, almost literally since as a chick she was in a box inside our house.  Then she often was at our sides outside in the yard and became like any other pet - much loved.  That being said...2) In our family, we love our pets but they are still pets.  Not people.  We would rather spend time, money and energy on nursing sick or hurt people than on pets.  We loved Pippa but not enough to take her to a vet.  Our love for our animals has limits and boundaries.  We consider the chickens friends, but they are still farm animals.  The whole situation was a wonderful opportunity for our kids to express their emotion and yet learn about the difference between caring for people and caring for animals.  We have since decided to name the new chicken coop after our sweet Pippa - we're planning to make a sign!

9) Meeting one of Colleen's birth sisters - 
We added a special chapter to our personal 'book of adoption' this year.  We have never kept the fact that she has a birth family from Colleen - we've told her their names, their approximate ages and what they look like (to the best of our knowledge).  Colleen is the 7th born to her birth mother (all girls!).  When we were going through the adoption process, we found out that the 5th born was also adopted.  The interesting part (to us!) was the fact that her birth sister's adopted family was a friend of one of our we agreed to exchange info, make contact and maybe meet.  It's been 5 years and for various reasons we have only sent messages but never met.  This December, Colleen's birth sister and her (adoptive) mom were in a nearby town and we took the opportunity to get together.  It was new and maybe awkward at first, but I think it went well!  We hope to stay in contact of course and maybe meet again sooner rather than later.  

10) Adoption profiles - 
Can I pack a little more adoption news in this post?  YES I can!  So in case you didn't already know, we are on the adoption wait list.  We receive child(ren) descriptions, decide if we want to send our home study and be considered for a match.  If the child(ren)'s case worker thinks we are a match, she/he would then 'present' the child(ren) to us and at that point, we would officially say yes or no.  Over time we have seen a number of profiles, sent our home study in to a bunch and had 4-5 child presentations.  The latest one was last week.  When we started this chapter of our adoption journey, we said we are interested in both siblings and 'singletons'.  The latest child presentation was for 2 brothers =)  Please pray for us as we go forward in the process and meet the boys!  More importantly, pray for the children, regardless of what the outcome is.  It's no secret that children waiting in the state adoption system have most likely lived through their fair share of grief and pain.  Recently I saw a graphic called the trauma tree - I think it accurately shows how children like Colleen and those who are adopted can be affected by trauma at any age, even in the womb.  We are grateful for the struggles we have experienced because it means we are a unique family, bonded through love and grace even if we don't share DNA.  The joy we have overflows and that is part of the reason we'd love to adopt again!

As this year comes to a close, we've been enjoying looking at photos and talking about our plans for 2016.  In this past year, we have settled into a new community, a new church, and for Colleen a new school...we've had some highs and some lows adjusting.  In almost everything though, we are reminded that we are blessed.  Just today some new friends and neighbors came by with some Christmas cookies!  So many people have stepped up and made us feel welcome and loved.  It's our prayer for you, dear reader, that those feelings are present in your life too!  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from our family to yours!

We hope you enjoyed this green version of our Christmas card! (If you still wish to receive a paper copy, leave a comment.) There are lots of reasons we decided to do things differently this year (again!)'s a few:
1) Save postage. We love you, but we're cheap!
2) Save paper. You just recycle those cards after you read 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, December 7, 2015

Being myself

Now that we live 15-20 minutes out of the center of the city we used to live in, I do a fair share of driving back and forth.  Most times I have kids in the truck w/me, but sometimes I don't.  Over the past couple of years I have learned a lot more about ADD and I have pretty much decided I am a candidate.  I am 'flaky' and distracted mind wanders quickly.  Now that I'm getting older, if you tell me something and you don't see me write it down, I guarantee you I will forget it.  Left on my own, I swear I would not survive - I don't cook, I'd forget to take my meds, I'd get's sort of a joke but there's some truth to it too!  I can take care of others just fine, it's myself I manage to confuse at times...anyway - I'm getting off track here, see what I mean?  In the past, there have been some significant and obvious differences between me and my family members and some of the other people around me.  I used to get so mad at myself a lot - WHY WHY WHY am I not like them??  They are awesome and color coordinated and organized and so 'put together'!!  I would try to force myself to be like that and it would last a few hours.  Seriously.  I'd make myself focus and try to really listen when people talked and keep my mind on the task at hand.  And then one day I just realized that God did not make me that way and THAT IS OK.  If you need someone to shout out 47 ideas of a theme for your kids' birthday party - I'm your girl.  If you need a choreographed routine for some random song you love - call me.  If you want to collaborate on a love story between a star quarterback and some nerdy girl who keeps track of random stats and is able to both fall down and up the steps - yep, I can spin that yarn too.  I feel like I have many talents, maybe not the ones that are wanted 'in real life', but having many of them is good right?  I always picture myself as this rock star mom who can run errands, shuttle kids to all their activities, do the housework (ok maybe not that so much) and maintain friendships w/ease.  "Hey everyone, look at me over here spinning multiple plates in the air!"  Reality check - things are missing b/c I haven't had time to run those errands, I've taken way too many trips back and forth not maximizing my time, housework is half done, I miss my friends and now there are broken plates all over the floor!!


It's the Christmas season and in true Mel fashion, shortcuts have been taken.  Many, almost all, presents were ordered online.  Every one of them has already arrived.  I am ready.  Rock star!  Kids like pancakes for dinner.  ME TOO!!!  We saw a fox on the bridge by our house today.  A FOX!!!  I don't care how many trips I take back and forth - if I see a fox, a deer, a turkey or even a farm cat or a dairy cow, I love seeing God's creation along the way.  And another thing - if I ever need a roller skating routine to the song "Nothing But A Good Time" by Poison, I won't need to do a thing b/c I already have one!

You know, I secretly hope that everyone else around me is feeling the same way - trying to be something they are not - just so that I feel normal.  But then, I don't wish this on anyone.  Don't torture yourself trying to be something you are not.  Find out who/what you are.  Then just be that.  If you don't know how to find that out, talk to people around you.  Read Personality Plus.  Learn about the Myers Briggs test.  Find your weaknesses, don't apologize for them but decide what your game plan is to keep them from being exploited.  If you are different, be different.  You can share DNA w/people and not be exact matches of them.  This has been a hard lesson for me, and maybe you already have this secure in your heart, but thank you Lord for reminding me of it again!  I think one of the best things I have done was to make a 'mission map' for myself.  The shortest way to explain that is to say that I sifted down all the roles I play in life, all the things I want to do and the whys behind them and then took a realistic look at how they all fit together.  I wrote stuff down.  =)  I won't say I have arrived on this journey but I think I'm getting there!!!  I encourage everyone to press on and continue their own journey - if I can help in any way - email me!  I'll be over here trying to be myself, looking out the window, day dreaming about seeing a moose in our woods or something...

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Write it down!

This is my place to write about significant things that happen in life...sometimes I don't get here often enough!!  A quick update on the myriad of things happening around here...
- The last possible adoption was not meant to be.  The current caregiver for the girls has decided to adopt them, which for the girls, means they will not have to move again.  Which is good =)  But it also stinks!  So our SW sent over a few more child descriptions and we said yes to a few, so we'll see if we get matched w/any of them.  And so it goes...again...
- My sub gig may be ending soon!  If it gets approved, the teacher will be returning this week - at first it will just be half days, if I understand correctly.  I'm ready to be home.  I've got so much to do!!  I have been very overwhelmed and TIRED.  I really want to get back to 'normal' and hopefully my eczema will go away too.
- We chose to put Pippa the chicken down...she became egg bound in her old age and was quite sick.  She wasn't was the first time we took care of things like that on our own.  Listen to me - 'we'!!  No, I should say Dave made it so that Pippa is no longer in pain.  We all had a few tears but it was a good choice.
- In other adoption news, we had the opportunity to meet w/Colleen's bio sister today.  Colleen and Shane are the only 2 sisters out of 7 who have been adopted.  It was so nice to get together and see the girls' smiles =)  As w/almost everything w/Colleen in the relationship department, we spent time talking about if it would be a good idea or if it would send her into a tailspin.  The visit went well and we hope to do it again some time.  We never intended for Colleen's adoption or the info about her bio family to be like some big secret, we just realized that a lot of the info wouldn't be healthy to share.  As for this sister, we have talked about her in the past and when asked if she wanted to meet her, Colleen said yes.  I have no idea if it will change or affect her/her behaviors in the future...this is all new territory for us here, people!!  But at this time we thought the good outweighed the possibility of any negative implications.  The girls had a few special moments taking selfies together and sharing Starburst =)
- I'm looking forward to making a Christmas post w/photos here!!  It may be late (again!) but I always enjoy that...

Monday, November 23, 2015

What a difference a Dave makes!

Have you heard the song "What a Difference a Day Makes?"  If not, please click to listen here...

The lyrics are as follows:

What a difference a day makes
Twenty-four little hours
Brought the sun and the flowers
Where there used to be rain
My yesterday was blue, dear
Today I'm a part of you, dear
My lonely nights are through, dear
Since you said you were mine
What a difference a day makes
There's a rainbow before me
Skies above can't be stormy
Since that moment of bliss, that thrilling kiss
It's heaven when you find romance on your menu
What a difference a day made
And the difference is you
What a difference a day makes
There's a rainbow before me
Skies above can't be stormy
Since that moment of bliss, that thrilling kiss
It's heaven when you find romance on your menu
What a difference a day made
And the difference is you

When I heard that song, my brain didn't hear the word DAY but automatically subbed in the word DAVE =)  He probably won't believe me, but that man is on my brain a lot of the time!  I thought about the words to this song and decided that if I wrote about my Dave, it wouldn't even fit into a song.  But...knowing that I have a blog...and I can put up a post as rambling, unorganized and long as I want...

What a Difference a DAVE Makes
Before I met Dave, my theory on men was simple.  If they were interested in me, I was interested in them.  I was quite the band geek, the studious type w/many books for friends.   Nothing wrong w/that, but it didn't make for good dating decisions on my part.  I think I've said it before, but Dave was the first man to ask permission to hold my hand.  He made a huge impact b/c he had more respect for my hand than many others had for the rest of my body!  When I told him I wanted 12 kids, he didn't bat an eye.  What a difference a DAVE makes, indeed!

We got married and it became obvious that he was the calm to my storm.  A lot of family and friends had seen me through some tough times, but this man prayed me through panic attacks and rough nights.  He prayed out loud and he talked to the Lord like He was in the room!  He sang to me, danced w/me and helped me take each day at a time as we started in our attempts to build a family of our own.

He cried w/me when we had no success and researched adoption and foster care w/me.  He rejoiced w/me when we found out we were expecting our own baby but didn't forget the 'babies' that needed a family, even if it was just for a short time.

We stepped into the foster care world together...What difference a DAVE made to some kids who had never known a father figure, or a quality one at that!  I am so moved and blessed by the way he treated the kids as his own and still has not stopped loving and praying for them, even though they are gone from our house.  Together we tackled the adoption process....

What a difference a DAVE makes to this family, as he goes to work every day to earn the financial means for the rest of us to continue in the comfortable life we live w/o anyone else working outside the home.  Over time, I have had the opportunity and turned it down, but recently I started working outside the house again.  Like most changes, it has brought on some stress and on my part - whining!  What a difference a DAVE makes - he has not only continued and carried on in his responsibilities but he has absorbed some of mine!  He's washed dishes when my eczema got to the point where it hurt my hands to do so, he's prepped and cooked many meals when I didn't have the energy, direction or skill to do so, he's gone out of his way to bring me items that were left behind and overall made sacrifices for me and the others around him.  I LOVE YOU DAVE WILKE and I SEE YOU - I see what you are doing for me, for us and even when I don't say it, I see you.  Thank you...thank you for all of those things I said above and MORE!  What a difference a DAVE makes and the difference is YOU!!!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Alphabet soup!

If you are involved in foster care or adoption, you know that many of the kids' diagnoses are made up of letters.  ADD, RAD, PTSD, can get dizzying to read all the letters.  One thing I always try to remember is that these are people we are talking about here.  The kids have been through trauma but they are NOT their diagnoses.  There is so much more to a kid than you will ever read in a child description or hear from a social worker.  On one hand, it's a big deal to learn about the diagnoses and be prepared for them.  On the other hand, get ready to expect the unexpected and just be ready to learn about the child when they arrive!!  Forget all the letters/alphabet soup and just open your eyes to the wonderful creation the Lord has placed in your life!
     I have been thinking a lot about this lately and chewing on it since we got a call for a 'child presentation'.  That means we had agreed to be considered as a match for a child/ren (this time for 2 sisters).  The state permanency consultant and kids' social worker got together and picked us or us and a few others to be a match.  We saw the child description when we were asked if we wanted to be considered but in a 'presentation' they are supposed to give us more info and both 'sides' get to ask questions.  The girls 'presented' to us have various letters as diagnoses and it didn't initially scare us off.  One phone interview w/the social worker and state consultant behind us, we are prayerfully considering moving forward.  We will keep you posted!!
     And now I'm going to steer this blog post in another direction...weird story about me - I used to hate hate hate soup.  I never ate it, really, until I started dating my husband.  He took me to his older brother's house on one of our first dates and my (now) SIL had made soup for dinner.  I tried to be polite!  I ate the chunks and stirred the the heck do you eat a liquid?!  I felt bad but I couldn't choke down what I considered to be colored water in a spoon!  Now I eat soup, but when I make it I spoon myself mostly chunks and a few spoonfuls of liquid!  We make alphabet soup b/c the kids like it =)  I have been wanting to post a lot lately b/c so many things are happening...our 'soup cup' runneth over w/letters and chunky good stuff!
     I have been subbing (see last post) and I was just asked to continue doing so until after Christmas.  I said yes...but now I'm wondering how to pull this off?!  I'm hard on myself and the places where I let people down, where I don't feel like I can do a good enough job.  I really just want to go to Target, go for hikes in the woods and see if I can find time to visit some of my besties in the Madison area and in TN.  It's all good though, I'm buckling down and finding joy in the small things.  I've got a student who loves sharks and the other day we talked sharks for a good 10 minutes!  He brings me bouquets of fallen leaves that I tape together and keep on the desk.  There are students who are dramatic like me and next door is a teacher so selfless, I have already cried for joy over her example of serving others.  All of this makes me feel so blessed!!
     Friday I had off and a flock of over 20 turkeys showed up in the yard.  They were on the fence, ambling their way into the woods.  They spent the day slowly pecking around on the edge of the woods...they would go south for a bit, come back to the side of the house, and then work their way back just south of our property again.  The next day there were there again...and today I found them in one of the chicken's favorite spots!  Good stuff.  Can't wait 'til we have some hunters in this house!
     Lately Colleen has been having a few rough days.  Of course I try not to blame myself and the fact that I am working, but I know that any change in our house can set off, well, just about anything.  A month or so ago, I started singing her to sleep at night.  (Can't believe she asks me to do that - I can't carry a tune in a bucket!  Paint runs off the wall when I sing!!)  At first I was resistant - hurry up and get to bed! - but then I remembered that for 2 minutes, I am bonding w/my baby and maybe no one ever sang to her when she was tiny.  I praise God for the opportunity to sing to her now.  Two minutes or 5 - who cares?  She needs me.  W/all of our trips to the children's hospital lately, I think her anxiety might be kicking in too.  Either way, it's a blessing to be her mom and I pray I get the opportunity to be the mom to more kids who have alphabet soup needs!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Exploding snakes

Sometimes life is boring.  And then other times, one or more chain of events are set off and it's like those fireworks that look like an exploding snake!  Always, always, I feel like I am adapting and changing my 'shape' to do what is necessary.  Summer is over.  School has started.  At first I was thinking we would just slide into a new normal, but!  It wasn't meant to be.
     As the last days of summer wore down, it was clear one of Dave's co-workers (also one of my former co-workers since he now works at the school at which I used to work) wasn't going to be there the first day.  It made sense for me to jump in and take her classes - which meant I had to get a sub license.  (That is territory I didn't want to get into.  I don't want to sub.  If you know me, you know I say I am retired.  I don't want to work outside the house!!  The feelings I feel when I do make it not worth it...)  I really wanted to do it though, b/c it would give me a chance to see the best husband in the world during the day =) and to meet some of his students.  Things went well!  After the 2 days, I went back to 'my normal' of doing chores and running errands during the day.  I even unpacked a few boxes!  (Yes, they linger…no, please don't remind me that it's been more than 6 months in the new house!)  Anyway - we were finding our rhythm of having 3 people in 3 different schools…it was a nice quiet Friday, and then I saw the phone # of Mo's school pop up on my phone.  Most mommas and even some daddies who are home during the day know that feeling.  You automatically ask yourself if someone could be sick or what could be wrong…I answered it.  I was sitting in my jammies, eating breakfast, thinking whatever it was, Mo would have to wait until I could at least finish the cereal.  It turned out to be the principal, asking if I wanted to sub…(see?!  This is why!  I don't want 'them' to find me!)  I said yes - but I'd be late.  I scrambled to get ready!  I ran to let the chickens out!  I flew into town!  As I burst in the door, the principal caught up to me to ask about subbing for a 3 week stretch...I always said the only way I would sub was if it was like for someone's maternity leave or something where I could be in one spot, not bouncing around to a new school or room each day.  So yeah, since life is 'boring' and $ is always nice...she got me.  I said yes.
But back to the rest of the day...what a sweet sweet day it was!  I was in the 1st grade class.  Last year I spent most of my time as an EA w/the kindergardeners, who are now those 1st graders.  At the end of the year, I was always telling them, "Soon you will be in 1st grade and they won't give warnings about talking in the hall!  Soon you will be in 1st grade and you will do tricky math!  Soon you will be in 1st grade and..."  I was able to tell them how excited I was to see them in 1st grade, following the rules of the school and doing tricky math!!  Halfway through the day, life got more interesting.  I normally don't make it a practice to answer my cell phone when 'on the job', but I do admit to glancing at the screen to see who is calling.  (Side note - the week before we had seen an adoption profile of 4 siblings from our own county!  We considered their behavioral description and ages and asked to be considered.  We felt excited that IF IF IF it was meant to be, the transition might be made easier since they reside in the same county as we do.)  On this particular day, the caller ID was that of our adoption case worker.  Feeling a twinge of guilt (but thinking it was about the kids in our county and feeling some excitement too), I answered it, vowing to play to anyone's emotions if I needed to later issue a mea culpa.  As it turns out, the CW was calling about a different profile, one we had seen way back in Aug.  Two sisters from another county - their CWs wanted to do an interview w/us!  W/a confused look on my face, I set up the interview and hung up.  That boring life I was referring to earlier was getting a lot less boring!!
     Fast forward to Monday.  Colleen and I took off for an appt at the children's hospital for her heart.  Another follow up...this time about high blood pressure.  That's a story for another time, but the point being that we are going back again in a month.  The mystery hasn't ended and we may be in for more complicated measures.  This Monday was not boring since the last time we were there, we were in a car accident.  Understandably so, Colleen wanted to be sure we would not drive on the same road, lest we encounter problems like last time.  We talked about doing hard things - and then we did the hard thing of going to the same intersection and praying and praise God we did not get in another accident.  Both of us breathed a sigh of relief =)
     Tuesday I started my 3 week time in 2nd grade.  I forgot how much energy the little people can suck out of you!!  But my day didn't end there!!  I came home and changed like superwoman to head out to the banquet for the crisis pregnancy center.  As I sat in my chair, listening to the speaker, it was hard not to get choked up.  Almost 4 years ago I went to an informational meeting about a possible crisis pregnancy center in my town.  I knew I wanted to be involved.  I had to be.  I felt so timid - I am not generally one to speak out about politics, my faith, etc.  I just wanted to be someone who would support and cheer them on, spread the word and maybe offer a few ideas...but I have since gotten more involved than that and I don't regret that for a minute.  I am being stretched, yes, but in a good way.  This is so important to me!!  I don't want my whole life to go by and say I did nothing to show for that.  As I sat at the banquet, it was hard to believe that the ideas that were presented at the first meeting were a reality.  The center has been operational for almost 2 months.  It's a real building, a real place, there have been clients already and God has done some amazing work already.  I blinked back tears as I realized that one of my big life goals (to be a part of a crisis pregnancy center) had come to fruition!  As you can tell, I could probably talk about it all day.  But that's just part of what's going on...
     Wednesday started out and I patted myself on the back for actually not repeating some of Tuesday's silly mistakes.  My personality is such that I am flaky, head in the clouds, the 'old dog' who is not easily taught new tricks, so I'm proud of myself when I get even the small things right!  After lunch is prep, and the principal came to check on me.  Remember what I said about 'them' finding me?  I'm teasing of course, but I didn't expect what came next, although I should have.  She asked me to sub for another long stretch in the spring!  Now that I think about it, I hope my face was know what I mean?  When someone asks you something and your brain is off and running and thinking all these thoughts...hopefully all the emotions and feelings weren't showing up on my face!  I said yes.  Obviously I told her that we'd have to re-visit this decision as it got closer, but I'm not against it.  Again, I'd rather be subbing in the same place, with the same class, every day than bouncing around between schools.  If you know me well, you know I'd rather stay 'retired' and just work at home - for various reasons, some emotional, some practical...
     Life is moving fast these days, to say the least.  Last week Friday was the all school field trip.  Luckily it was to a museum I know well and I was pretty successful navigating the crowds.  I only 'lost' 2 kids for a very short time!  We were about 15 steps away but I still beat myself up for 'losing' them.  Overall though, it was so much fun!  We took a group picture before we left in the morning with a shot of the museum on the smart board.  (Yeah, this 'old dog' is learning some new tricks after all!)  I told the students we would send it to their teacher - a 'wish you were here and we miss you' sort of postcard =)  We took selfies at lunch and talked robots when we returned.  It was a good way to end the week!
     Not to be outdone by the week, our weekend was busy - in all I think we were home about 6 hours, awake time.  We still managed to do a few chores and get ready for this week.  I might need to hire a maid before these 3 weeks are over though...not sure how anyone can work, sleep and still get the house work done!!  I'm not good at it when I have 8 hours free during the day, let me tell you how much of a failure I am when I am gone all day...oh well.  I am learning to not be hard on myself.   This is a learning curve.  I am adapting and changing...a work in progress...thanks for reading this far.  I have wanted to do a 'day in the life' type of post and when I sat down and thought about it, I couldn't just stick to one day.  So much has been happening and this is just the short version!  New chickens, new to us vehicles, gymnastics meets, appointments at the children's hospital, getting involved in our new church, and so on...!  I'm so grateful to see changes and growth in life and I've very thankful for the supportive family and friends who are cheering us on from the sidelines and helping out when they can.  Thank you all for your prayers and for your patience when I am not responsive to calls or texts!  I'll be back to 'regular scheduled programming' soon!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Other things as old as me...

Star Wars.
Space Mountain.
Apple II computers.
The Seattle Mariners.
Focus on the Family.
Fleetwood Mac's Rumours album.
The Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.
The US Dept of Energy.
The Panama Canal Treaty.
The Atari game system.
The Porsche 928.
My birthday twin Jeremy K!

Today I raked a million pounds of leaves.  (No I don't like exaggerations, not one teeny tiny bit...!)  Probably not the best way to ward off old age aches and pains, but it was so good to be outside on a glorious fall day!!  I had to quit b/c a blister started to bleed.  Mo had so much fun driving the tractor w/a trailer full of leaves back and forth to the back 40!  My girl Colleen was awesome at filling the trailer and boxes or buckets full of leaves, then packing them down.  She's such a hard worker and the heavy work activities are good for someone w/her particular needs.

It's been a good year...a lot of weird stuff happened, which keeps life interesting!  I worked outside the house, we moved, I drive this big truck now, we burn trash, we're back in the town where I began teaching, we didn't travel as much...all things I wasn't sure were ever going to happen.  I let go of some things that were really important b/c I realized they just can't be.  Some of the coolest things happened/are happening this year...I'm involved at the crisis pregnancy center, even if I'm not doing much, I'm 'in'.  I get to go for walks in the woods, I see animals everywhere, my kid speaks Spanish almost more fluently than me, I got to see some of my best friends a bunch and my hot hubby changed his eating habits to lose some weight!  There have been some hard things this year and some things that were so good for my soul.

On another light hearted note - just in time for my begin my next year of life on this planet, McDonald's will be serving breakfast all day.  If you know me, you know I HATE McDonald's.  What you don't know, is that I secretly LOVE their Sausage Egg McMuffins!!!  And God only knows why I had to wait this many years of my life to eat one whenever I want...but I shall wait no more!  (Yes, I love food and I don't care if it's not healthy.  One Mother's Day Dave asked me what I wanted for a gift and I requested a road trip centered around 3 food establishments.  We ate local farm breakfast, local ice cream and then local fresh Widmer brick cheese curds.  My love language is FOOD!!!)

And on that note...=)  I promise to write a proper update and not this fluff stuff soon!

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!  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 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


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'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...
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'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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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's a few:
1) Save postage. We love you, but we're cheap!
2) Save paper. You just recycle those cards after you read 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...)