Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Levels and Travels and Bursitis, oh my!

It's been a whirlwind of a fall and winter so far. When we turned the calendar to October, we were looking forward to pretty average fall and winter. The biggest "stuff" on our radar was all the "lasts" of life with Jacob still living under our roof full time. But shortly thereafter, things got crazy.

We took on this major addition/remodel/house project. It will be so, so wonderful once it is finished, but it most certainly throws a wrench into regular family life!

Then a couple weeks later the two older girls and I were offered the opportunity to spend Christmas in Cebu at CSC. We gave it only a few minutes of thought before we were in. So there were passports to get. And tickets. And plans to be made. And packing to do.

Then in November I was diagnosed with bursitis in both my hips. It was good to have a diagnosis and to know what was going on to cause all my hip pain. So that started a journey of PT to work on healing and diminished pain.

What was looking like a calm season took a turn. A crazy turn, but a turn that would lead to lots of fabulous destinations. Life is nothing if not a crazy ride!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Heavy-hearted . . . but hopeful

I feel like 2016 has been a rough year. It has been a rough year for me, personally. It has been a rough year for my family. It has been a rough year for my immediate community. It has been a rough year for our state. It has been a rough year for our nation. And, it has been a rough year for the world. Hurts. Struggles. Violence. Protests. Elections. Refugees. Wars. There is lots of bad stuff going on out there.

This week, especially, there are many hurting people around me. And, I would guess, around you as well. No matter what your political leanings or what candidate you voted for, I would hope that each of us in this nation (and many people around the world as well) have dealt with the goings on of the world with sobriety this week (figuratively, if not literally!). I would hope that, no matter what side of the line you find yourself on, you would be a bit heavy-hearted with me this week. There are many people in our nation who are hurting. People who are scared. People who are in mourning and are deeply wounded. Many of them are people that I love and care about deeply. And that fact hurts my heart!

There are many things that have made this year memorably rough a variety of levels. A major one that comes to mind for me, as far as my immediate community goes, is the shooting of Philando Castile. On July 6th of this year, Philando Castile was shot and killed by a police officer less than 2 miles from our home. This happened in my immediate neighborhood. Our community was thrust into the national spotlight overnight. Many people, even Twin Cities residents, had no idea where Falcon Heights was before this summer. Now people all over the country recognize the name of my community. My dad, one of our daughters and I took a bike ride the day after the shooting to join the gathering of people who were mourning, protesting, remembering and holding vigil at the location where Philando (Mr. Phil as he was known at the elementary school where he worked) was killed. It was an emotional and meaningful thing to be a part of. Many tears. Hugs between strangers. A heartfelt word to my young daughter from a black woman thanking her for coming to share in the "hard" of the moment. There was less anger than I expected; more deep sorrow.

The following week, the elementary school that our kids attend organized a gathering and peaceful walk to the memorial to show our concern over the violence happening in so many different communities in our nation, but specifically the violence that happened right outside our doors. It was a beautiful gathering of caring, concerned community members and I'm so thankful that we were able to be a part of it. It fells good and right to do something when you feel so overwhelmed and helpless. The three teachers from our school who organized the gathering are amazing people. Amazing leaders. Amazing teachers. I am very thankful to know them and have them influencing my kids! My talented friend Shaina (who has a fabulous name . . . even though it is spelled "wrong") took some very moving pictures of the event, which you can see here (see if you can spot any of our family members in the photos).

Although I live very close close to the location where the shooting took place, it is not a part of my normal, daily driving route. Because of that, it becomes easier to forget with time. More than 4 months have passed now and many people have moved on and forgotten at this point. However, one of our kids has a weekly appointment that brings us down the road where the memorial is, and so, on our drive home from our appointment every Thursday we drive by that spot. We remember. There is still a very large memorial on the side of the road. There still are people who remember and have not forgotten. People who are still hurting.

This week there are many people that I know personally and care about deeply who are very sad and hurt and disappointed in our nation. They are mourning and they are scared. Scared for themselves. Scared for their children. Scared for people that they love. This makes my heart feel heavy! I am a highly sensitive, deeply feeling person, so I realize I am in tune to the pain of others in a different way than people of a different personality type are, but I would hope that the deep sorrow of many in our nation would bring sorrow, in some degree, to each of us. Regardless of who I voted for, regardless of who you voted for, there are people around you who are hurting and I would hope that that fact would make your heart heavy too. I also realized that there are many people who are very happy about the outcome of the election (obviously, since Trump won), but I would hope that even those who are celebrating the victory of their candidate could be sympathetic and, hopefully even, empathetic to those around them who aren't feeling celebratory right now. It is a hard time for our nation. I realize I haven't been alive for all that many presidential elections relative to people that I know with many more years of life and wisdom, but I feel like this one is unprecedented in the level of angst and division that the outcome of the election has brought to the people of America. It feels different to me this time around. More divisive. Heavier. I, for one, hope to act in ways that bring peace and healing and a feeling of being loved to those who are hurting. Smile at a stranger. Be civil to those who you come in contact with who hold political views that differ from yours. Love your kids. Hug your friends. Make strides for peace in ways that you are able.

I want to be a safe place for both those who are happy with the state of our country as well as those who are hurting. I am very aware that I have friends and family members in both camps. People that I love and respect fall on both sides of this struggle and that makes things tricky, but not impossible.

But through all of the hard and the sad and the horrible, there are also many, many glimmers of good in the world. The world holds much hope! On Wednesday morning, after the election results were tallied and in, I went to school with my elementary kids to volunteer, as I do each Wednesday. The chatter of elementary school kids this particular morning was more interesting and insightful than it is most "normal" Wednesday mornings. The toast with cookie butter (yum!) and coffee and the amazingly beautiful sunrise that I witnessed that morning paired with the laughter of kids and seeing a student that was pretty discouraged a couple weeks ago flash me a smile (rare for this particular kid -- at least in my experience) and volunteering in a kindergarten classroom (gotta love kindergarteners!) were all good for my heavy heart! So while there is hard in the world and sad in the world and sorrow in the hearts of many of us, there is also so very much wonderful! The warmth of the sun on your back in November, the crunch of leaves underfoot, snuggling, health, newborn babies, meaningful work, laughter with friends, coffee, hugs, a beautiful sunset, people who love you through your yuck, naps, catching up on laundry, online shopping, a good book, music that moves you . . . be on the lookout for the good things in life. There are so very many. The seemingly little, insignificant ones are my favorite! Enjoy them. It's ok to be sad and it's ok to mourn and it's ok to hurt, but try not to forget about all the good that is still in the world. As Glennon Doyle Melton likes to say, "Life is brutiful!" Simultaneously brutal and beautiful. Intertwined. That's how it has always been and I imagine that is how it always will be! I'm going to try my hardest to focus on the beautiful and the good. It's easier sometimes than others, but it's always a good goal.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Blessings abound

Here are some of the many blessings I have made note of in my gratitude journal lately. A gratitude journal is something that I had heard of for years and years, but finally started doing after reading Ann Voskamp's powerful, amazing book One Thousand Gifts. If you haven't read it, you should! And also, she has a new book out called The Broken Way. I have a copy of it on my nightstand, but life has been crazy and I haven't had a chance to read it yet. I am looking forward to it though, and know it will be wonderful. So, here go a few of my recent blessings (complete with photographic evidence of some of them). Enjoy!

5912. baby snuggles with Clay
5915. our pediatrician -- I love her!
5918. family trip to the apple orchard
5920. a complete God thing. an answer to a prayer we hadn't even thought to pray :: a tutor for one of our kids who is struggling in school
5922. glorious weather
5925. clothes on the line
5933. volunteering at school
5937. bonfire and dessert with friends
5944. friends who are like family
5950. a supportive, encouraging husband
5951. a girls weekend
5955. sunrise over the lake
5956. loon calls on the lake in the morning
5959. singing words of truth ::
Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me.
On and on and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
I never ever have to be afraid
This one thing remains!
5960. deep, hard laughter with friends (I nearly needed my inhaler!)
5961. yard work done and ready for winter
5963. knowing friends are praying for me
5964. a bright moon in a dark sky
5965. family walk to the park in the dark -- looking at the moon and the stars and swinging and playing catch and climbing and enjoying time together
5972. walking the kids to school each morning
5975. an eagle overhead -- the majesty!

amazing for a November in MN

walking to school with these 3 is my favorite

sunrises are my favorite

amazing friends on an amazing fall day

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

In case there wasn't already enough going on

Life has been a bit of a whirlwind the past month or so. Lots of things (very good things!) coming at us that weren't exactly in the immediate plan, but nonetheless we have found ourself in the middle of them. Major life things. Time consuming things. Thought consuming things. Good things, but things that demand a lot out of you!

We are on the brink of a MAJOR house project around here. An addition and remodel. Big stuff! We have lived in our 1920's house for nearly 20 years now and we LOVE it, but there are lots of things that could stand to have a bit of money thrown at them (and that's an understatement), if you know what I mean. So, we are diving in! All the years we've lived here, we have dreamed of a bigger kitchen. Our kitchen is small and the space is also the main entry into our house. And since 8 people live here (five of whom are full-sized people), the space is pretty tight, to say the least. And when you add in the fact that all the shoes/coats/sweatshirts/backpacks/etc for 8 people get tossed on the floor in the kitchen, it's nearly enough to make you lose your everloving mind! So, our yard will soon be sporting a big hole and life will get messy for a while . . . well, life is always messy, but it's about to get a lot more messy, in the literal sense, for the foreseeable future.

Also, I will be going on a MAJOR, life-changing trip with our two older girls in just over a month. Passports have been applied for. Plane tickets have been purchased. Planning is well underway! My mom, my dearest girlfriend since childhood (my "sister"), my two older girls and my brother's wife will all be traveling to Cebu, Philippines to work at a shelter for orphaned and abandoned children. We will have the opportunity to serve them by helping the staff there prepare for Christmas. How fun is that? Shopping, wrapping, baking, planning, prepping . . . doing what we can to help make Christmas special for the 80+ kids who call CSC home.

I'm quite sure there will be plenty to share on both of these fronts in the near future, so stay tuned.

Life is quite a ride these days. (And always!) I'm hanging on tight.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Teachers are my heroes!

Despite having children in the public school system for more than a decade, I have never volunteered in the classroom on a regular basis until this year. I always had a little person at home with me that made regular volunteering challenging. Sure, I went along on some field trips and helped with stuff from home and worked the book fair and open houses and the school carnival. But regular, weekly, in-the-classroom volunteering is new territory for me.

Each Wednesday morning I walk my kids to school like usual (except for today, when we drove, since it was rainy!), but instead of kissing them goodbye and turning around to walk back home, I go to the office, sign in on the iPad, don my volunteer badge and head off down the hall to spend the morning with some great kiddos!

Until now, I've mostly had the opportunity to maintain my ignorance about what kids -- little kids! -- have to deal with in their lives. I know, intellectually, and on a general level, that there are kids in my kid's school (and in pretty much every school in our country) who have yucky home situations. Who don't eat breakfast in the morning. Or dinner at night. Who struggle with academic stuff that their peers mastered long ago. Who don't have appropriate clothes (coats, hats, boots) to wear to school. Who don't have supportive parents. Who don't have a home, or a bed of their own. I know these facts intellectually, but to know these things more intimately, in my heart, by working each week with kids who struggle in these areas, is heartbreaking! If I knew the specifics of each of the 20 or 30-some kids in the classroom, I think it might do me in! I don't think I could take it. Even the kids who seem to have things going for them (kids like the ones that live at my house), have struggles. Real struggles. Some not as "big" as being homeless, for example, but just as real. No one is exempt. And to know those struggles for dozens of kids is so weighty! I told one teacher this morning, "I really don't know how you do it. It's heartbreaking!". She agreed and said she doesn't sleep too great many nights. These men and women are heroes! Their love and concern for kids that aren't their own blows my mind. The hours they spend working with, thinking about, worrying about these kids is WAY more than the hours written in their contracts. I am so very thankful for them!

This morning, one of the kiddos I work with one-on-one wasn't at school. That allowed me to spend a little more time helping out another teacher, but I couldn't help but worry about why this kiddo wasn't at school today. I was looking forward to our game of "war", where we sneak in work on some math facts under the guise of just playing a card game. I want to be a bright spot in the lives of the kids I come in contact with. I don't want to just help them make academic strides (although that will, hopefully, be an outcome as well), I want to build them up. Make them feel seen and cared about and noticed. I want them to know that they matter and are important and can do it . . . even when they think they can't. I want to give them big huge hugs and tell them that I pray for them and buy them a nice, new winter coat. But some things aren't appropriate to do and I just need to keep pouring into them and praying for them and loving them in the ways that I can. I only know the specifics of a very small number of kids (and even then, there is lots of stuff I don't know about them) and it is hard. I know I am more sensitive than some, but I don't know how pouring in to the life of a kid who is struggling in life couldn't get to you, no matter who you are. They are kids, for crying out loud! Life should be (mostly) carefree and fun. And for many it isn't. That is hard for me to know. To really know. Not just to be aware of, and know in my head, but to know in my heart too.

I could not handle being a classroom teacher. For way more reasons than I could begin to list. But I am so very thankful for teachers! They are my heroes! Thank you, teachers!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Senior Night

It was senior night for football this week. At the game on Wednesday night, they honored the seniors on the football team and their parents (as well as the senior team managers and cheerleaders). Jacob is healed up enough to be able to suit up and play again -- which we are thankful for. He's not 100% yet, I don't think, but he is certainly better than he has been for the past month.

at home, before school in the morning
The football team dressed up for school on game day and Jacob looked fabulous! (although I might, possibly, be a little biased) Tradition says that the mom of each senior is supposed to wear their son's jersey to the game that night. Let me tell you, those things are NOT comfortable! First of all, Jacob and I are not the same size! Also, since I wasn't wearing football pads, there was lots of excess fabric in the shoulder area that was crazy-making! I won't get in to the rest of my complaints about the jersey. At the first possible moment, I took that thing right off!

on the field, before the game
Each of the seniors was announced, along with their parents, before the start of the game. They mispronounced my name . . . but I guess it's not about me, right!? Ha! (I'm sure no one even noticed other than me.) After all the seniors and their parents were announced, we stayed on the field with the players for the national anthem. In addition to it being senior night, it was also "pink out". The ENTIRE student section was dressed all in pink to support those fighting cancer. More specifically, breast cancer. I was not unaware of the fact that my mom was in the stands watching her oldest grandchild play in his senior night football game on "pink out" night, almost 4 years after her own breast cancer diagnosis. If you know anything about me, you might not be surprised by the fact that all those things added together had me a bit verklempt!

Go Raiders!
In the end, the team pulled off a 41-20 win. I can't believe we are so close to the end of Jacob's high school football career. The days are long, but the years are short . . . so very true! We adore our #19 and are so very proud of him and the man he is becoming!

Monday, October 10, 2016


It was a big weekend at our house. We celebrated some birthdays. We had a lovely, very fun birthday dinner at my parent's house to celebrate Kirby's birthday, Sara's birthday and Allie's birthday. I won't give away everyone's ages, but combined they turned 92 . . . which is OLD!

Happy, happy birthday to 3 of my favorite people on the planet. My amazing husband, my sweet baby girl and my what-would-I-do-without-her best friend/sister. I am so very thankful for each of them. They are such blessings in my life, and the lives of so many others as well.

sister love
We don't get to all spend enough time together, so we enjoyed every minute of our Saturday together celebrating!
the birthday "kids"

Thursday, October 6, 2016

A journey of a thousand miles (or maybe just one). On running and life.

I wrote this a couple months back. I wrote it mainly as a way to process my thoughts and feelings and life (because writing helps me do that). I wrote it mainly for myself. I shared it with my husband after I wrote it, but other than that it has just been for me . . . until now. Lately I have felt that I should share it, even though it is vulnerable and hard and I don't really want to do it.

It may be what someone else needs. It may be what the Lord uses to encourage someone else during a tough time. It may be what makes someone feel a little less alone or sad or isolated, or a timely reminder that they are not the only one who is struggling. For me, personally, things have turned around a bit now that the seasons have shifted from summer to fall (summer is always, always hard for me). I still have some stuff to work through and to work on, but I'm in a better place than I was when this was written.

So here you go. My heart ::

5 years ago I couldn't run for more than 30 seconds at a time without thinking I might die. Little by little by little that changed. In 2013 I ran a half marathon. I was a "Runner". It took me a long time to embrace that I was legit and could own my title of "Runner", but I finally got there. These days I'm much closer to the person I was in 2011 than the person I was in 2013, as far as running goes.

Probably a little more than a year ago now, something shifted in me. I started becoming more anxious than I had ever been before. I started feeling "off", not like myself and struggled to do normal, everyday things that I had never even given a second thought to before. I had a few hard life and relationship situations that took a significant toll on me. A couple times I tried being brave and authentic about one particular struggle and the authenticity backfired on me and seemed to make things worse. Since it was a pretty big deal for me to work up the courage to do that in the first place, that set me back. I didn't feel alive inside at all. At some point in there I'm pretty certain I crossed the line into depression. One Sunday, earlier this summer, I couldn't even go to church with my family because I, literally, could not stop crying (and church is one of my very favorite things!). A few months before all this, I had stopped running. I would try, sometimes, but I couldn't do it. Mentally. Physically. It just didn't work any more! I have some pretty significant physical pain (hip, knee, foot, hand, wrist -- not all at the same time, thankfully, but it was always something . . . or a few somethings). I don't know if the pain brought on the depression or if the depression lead to physical pain. I went to PT for a while, but it wasn't helping and was costing a lot, so I quit. I have also had a few panic attacks over the past year or so. If you haven't ever experienced one, those things are horrible! So painful and scary. I really think that it is one of those things that you can't understand without having experienced it for yourself. All of that weighed on me and sucked the life out of me.

If someone were to ask me today if I was a runner, I wouldn't know how to answer them. I own running shoes and technical running clothes, and running-related gadgets, but that is not what makes someone a runner. It's been hard to adjust to this stage: something that had, at one point, been a big part of who I was no longer fit. I can't agree to a group run with friends because I would never be able to keep up with them anymore (even thought I know they would never leave me behind). Since I also struggle to admit all of this to anyone, my running friends probably just thought I was blowing them off or didn't want to run with them. But I don't know any of that for sure, since I never opened up to tell them what was really going on.

The other day I ran a solid mile without stopping. That was huge! Even though not that long ago I could run 10, even 15 miles, this one solid mile seemed even more significant somehow. It was a solid 3+ minutes per miles slower than I used to run, but I ran the whole time without stopping. I still have a long way to go and I don't love (or even like) running like I used to, but I think that getting back "in the saddle" is something that I need to do if I want to get better. Both as a runner and as a person that I would actually like to be.

Things that make me feel alive are being outside, my family, creating things, meaningful music, good books, making note of the (seemingly) small blessings in each day, authentic relationships, writing, encouraging others, hanging my clothes out to dry, reading a good book -- and I wasn't doing enough of any of those things. Often, I couldn't muster up what it took to get off the couch, which makes it hard to create much or spend time outdoors or be with others or do any of those things.

I think legitimately admitting to the struggles is a good place to start to get better. I have been reading things lately that have been helpful with different aspects of my struggles. I know that I am not alone in this. I should get off the couch more often. I should go outside more. I should make more stuff. I should probably get on some drugs.

Writing helps me to process my thoughts. But getting things out on paper (even if only for myself) takes vulnerability that is scary. Until you say it out loud or write it down, it is easier to pretend that it's not real. Or that it's just a "rough patch" or a "tough season", rather than an actual ongoing problem that needs addressing. Here's to the first step of putting it out there!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


I haven't done a gratitude journal update for a while. Here are a few of the blessings that I've noted lately as I go about my days, which turn into weeks and months and years and make up a life. There are so many and I like to write them down so I can remember how blessed I am when I need such a reminder.

5825. Joe back on the swim team
5826. 9 pm family meetings with the "bigs" (oldest 3 kids). Prayer and sharing time.
5829. thunderstorms
5832. the honor of being asked to be godparents for the son of our dear friends
5838. perfect fall weather
5842. leaves crunching underfoot
5849. turning in early
5867. 20 years of marriage to my best friend
5872. the smell of autumn
5874. understanding, empathetic friends
5876. a better-than-expected WRTC 10K race
5879. the generosity of my parents
5880. the power of music
5881. productive crafting
5882. my huge mum from Costco
5889. Lexington open again heading north, after being closed for over 4 months
5895. clothes on the line
5896. morning walks to school with the Falcon kids
5898. great homecoming at UNW for Kirb
5900. finding Joe some pants that actually fit
5908. sunshine
5910. shadow pictures

raining morning pre-race friends photo

and we're done!

sunny afternoon coffee date

sunshine is the best!

walks in the woods

sisters in the morning sunshine

Saturday, October 1, 2016


While we were away on our anniversary trip, Jacob had a football game. We were in the air heading east and he was playing football. While we were flying and he was playing, he got hit hard in the rib cage. It hurt, but he didn't think too much about it. He didn't really mention it to my mom and, since we were on the other side of country, no one said anything to us either.

The last game he played in pre-injury
After we'd been home 4 or 5 days, Jacob got up one morning and said, "Can you make me a doctor's appointment?" I replied, "For what?". "My ribs.", he answered. "What is wrong with your ribs?" I countered. That's when I heard, for the first time, about the injury that had happened about 10 days prior. All the while, stubborn #19 had continued to practice and play in games. So I took him in to get him looked at. The doctor that we saw figured that he had some deep bruising and said that he should take Advil regularly to manage the pain and listen to his body as far as what his limits should be. So for another week or so he went on pretty much the same as before, although with significantly more ibuprofen in his system. Then he woke up one morning later that same week in significant pain and not being able to breathe comfortably. So we went back in and saw a different doc (since we were a walk-in appointment). This second doc examined him and pushed and poked, eliciting quite a bit of pain from her patient. They got an x-ray, and though his ribs didn't appear to be broken (though ribs aren't the easiest bones to x-ray), she decided this was his body's signal that he needed to stop everything. Heartbreakingly, this was the day before the Homecoming football game of his senior year! To say he was pretty bummed when she told him to completely stop doing anything that required him to take a deep breath or caused him to breath heavily or exert himself, for at least a month, would be a major understatement. It's hard to watch your kid be in physical pain, but it might be worse to see them in emotional pain. In one moment he lost the rest of his senior football season, pep band, band class, weight lifting class . . . all the things he loves most and is most passionate about in life right now.

He he has done pretty well. He still goes to practice and stands on the sidelines of the games in his jersey (sporting jeans, rather than pads and a helmet), but it's not the same.

"Togo Tuesday" when all the seniors wear a toga to school

He is feeling better all the time these days and is hopeful that he might be able to play again before the season is done. But it was a tough blow.

I'm crazy about that kid and can't believe in less than a year he will be taking off to spread his wings and won't live in our house with us anymore. I just sent in a baby picture and special message for him to be put in the yearbook. As I looked through the pictures in attempt to choose one and wrote the note, it seemed surreal. How can he be this old? What on earth happened to my precocious preschooler who knew every make and model of car and talked "car talk" with anyone who would listen? And, at the same time, he is ready to take this next step and we know it. We are so proud of him and the man that God is molding him into. I can't wait to see what God has in store for him in the future! What a blessing he is to our family.

Senior football guys dancing at the homecoming pep fest

Jacob and his team after their homecoming WIN!
Jacob is the one in the jeans.
Praying he can suit up for a game again before the season is over!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

two whole decades

2 decades. 20 years. 7,305 days. 175,320 hours. 6 kids. 2 addresses. 8 or 9 vehicles . . . 10 even, maybe. I've lost count. A lot of life has happened since the day we got married. It hasn't all been fun or easy or something we would have chosen, but it has all worked together to bring us to where we are today! Life is hard. Marriage is hard. Parenting is hard. But I don't think it's supposed to be easy! Good, but not easy! To celebrate our 20 years of marriage, we returned to Cape Cod, where we spent our honeymoon 20 years ago, when we were just "kids".

I still do 1996-2016

I'm not a big fan of travel, so it took me a few days to really feel settled and enjoy myself being away from home (and by then it was nearly time to head back), but we did have a wonderful trip and enjoyed our unhurried, calm, quiet time together. I have tagged along for a day or two of a work trip that Kirby was on, and we have "house-swapped" with my parents to celebrate an anniversary or gone away to a nearby town for one night, but this was our first real TRIP together (out of state, kid-free, no work commitments at all) since our honeymoon. It was just what we needed.

Our plane landed in Hartford (after an early-morning red-eye flight and a layover) in the early afternoon. We picked up our rental car and grabbed some lunch. Then we headed to the cemetery where my grandparents headstone is located. It was a beautiful day and I LOVE cemeteries and I hadn't seen the marker for my grandparents since it had been placed in the ground, so that was a great way to start our trip. Then we drove to Boston and walked around downtown for a few hours. We went in the Boston public library, walked through the public gardens, went by Cheers and saw the Boston Marathon finish line. After our quick self-guided tour, we hopped back in our car and headed to the hotel we were staying at that evening. Travel had worn us out, so we had pizza delivered to our room and turned in early.

State Veterans Cemetery, Middletown, Connecticut

Boston Marathon Finish Line

Super cool book art at the Boston Public Library

cool church window in Boston
 The next morning we got up, checked out of our hotel and went to church. We had hunted on the internet for a church in the area that we could go to that morning and ended up at one whose service started about 20 minutes after the scheduled time (the first service ran long -- they had a guest speaker . . . this maybe should have been a clue for us!). We finally headed in to the sanctuary and the service got started. It was significantly more charismatic than we are used to, and it made for an interesting morning. We snuck out a bit before the service was done, since we'd already been there nearly two hours, we were hungry and we wanted to get to the ocean! Driving to Cape Cod on a Sunday afternoon is much like driving north in Minnesota on a Sunday afternoon in the summer! You quickly realize that you are going the opposite direction of EVERYONE ELSE and for that you are so very grateful! We had lunch at a hole in the wall local place and then headed to the place we would call home for the next couple days. Ships Knees Inn. My dad's sister and her husband own and run the Inn, so we got a little family time in, too, visiting with them while we were away. We were go grateful for their hospitality and loved seeing how fabulous they are at their jobs! Best innkeepers ever!
Ships Knees Inn (we highly recommend you visit!)
Our shadows on the morning of our 20th anniversary
We took long, slow walks on the beach (it's hard to walk through beach sand any way other than slow!) and around town. We went to a movie (it was a rainy day!). We ate. We walked on the beach some more. We ate some more. We browsed in a quaint little shops. We toured an amazingly beautiful church with stunning architectural detail (again with the rain!). We want to another cemetery. We found a labyrinth a walked through that. (I LOVE labyrinths. Kirby didn't quite see why I love them so much). We saw seals (hundreds of them!). We listened to waves. We ran away laughing as waves crashed against our legs. We watched sunsets and sunrises. We enjoyed our time together and rested and relaxed and then were ready to head back to our state. Our house. Our kiddos.

A pair of seals in the water (hundreds more on a sandbar in the distance)

glorious sunset on Skaket Beach 9.20.16

my love
It was a great trip and one we hope to repeat again. Maybe we won't wait 20 more years next time! I am so thankful for twenty years of faithful, supportive love and encouragement mixed with lots of fun, laughter and heartache. Neither of us are perfect, but we are a pretty darn good pair!

amazing sunrise on our final morning

the "old" married couple who need major work on their selfie skills!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

That's a wrap!

Well, another summer is in the books and another school year is up and running. This is a significant school year for our family as it marks some major milestones. Our baby is in full-day kindergarten. She is in heaven and LOVES every minute of it so far. Our other "baby" (who is not AT ALL a baby!), our very first baby, is a senior in high school. A SENIOR! On the one hand, I saw it coming -- he has lived more than 17 years. He has progressed, one year at a time, from kindergarten to first grade, to second grade and so on. From elementary school to middle school and then to high school. I'm not a complete idiot and I get how time works! But, on other hand it has caught me completely off guard. How can it be true? I don't think I have fully internalized the reality of it yet. All my people go to school all day, 5 days a week. 3 of them to high school and 3 of them to elementary school (praise the Lord for a year of respite from having a middle schooler!) I have a decent amount of time where I am not responsible for any short people and can pee and go to Costco without a sidekick! This day has been nearly 18 years in the making. I still am not sure what I think about it, though. I could become completely giddy and overwhelmed with excitement or burst into tears at any moment. It's a bit of a crap shoot. Consider yourself warned!

A few weeks back we were having some car trouble, so, if I wanted a vehicle to drive during the day (which, with 6 kids who needed to get shuttled to various activities, I did!), I had to drive Kirbs to (and from) work. So, I'd drop him off in the morning and drive the 3 or so miles back home to get on with my day. Well, one afternoon I drove on campus (in case you didn't know, he works at a local university) to pick him up after work and as I entered campus, I looked left. On the left, when you enter the campus, the first thing you see is the (beautiful!, new) athletic complex. On the football field that afternoon were lots of (big!) men in purple uniforms. At that moment it hit me (HARD!) that one year from that very moment, my "baby" would be out there with them. Donning a UNW uniform and practicing football. Living, not at our house with us, but on his own in a dorm! That wasn't an easy moment.

Summer is hard. This summer was hard! I don't know if summer is hard for me because it is hard for our family, or if summer is hard for our family because summer is hard for me. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Even with the hard of summer, it went by shockingly fast. I think there were a few backpacks that never even got unpacked before being packed back up again for the next school year. Before I knew it we were at the fair eating too many fried foods and trying to get to bed earlier, so that our return to the school year routine would be slightly less brutal. There were certainly some great things about this summer :: Rebekah had the time of her life working at camp all summer. There were walks in the woods and backyard bonfires and bike rides. We had a wonderful, just-what-we-needed time at family camp (although we missed Jacob who couldn't go with us due to football practice, but was well taken care of by his grandma)! We did some swimming and played at the park. We celebrated birthdays (my grandma's 90th, most notably!). We spent time with friends and grilled lots of stuff . . . but it was still a hard summer!

This summer wasn't only hard on our family. It was hard on our world. Locally. Nationally. Internationally. There is lots of crap going on in the world. And also lots and lots of good and beauty. That is how life is! (More on that in another blog post, possibly.)

We undertook some major house/property stuff this summer . . . . and into the fall. We removed 4 trees from our lot (a couple diseased, one old and decaying, and one that was just a nuisance and was in the way of some changes we want to make with our driveway). Tree removal is a spendy and loud endeavor! We got a new roof (unfortunately we had some shoddy workmanship when we replaced the roof a few years after moving in to the house, following some hail damage, and it was in BAD shape and also causing some leaking in our living room). Sara was disappointed that the house didn't really look any different once the new roof was on. I don't know what she expected, but clearly the new roof was not living up to her expectations. Also, when your very efficient roofing crew of 8 or so guys shows up at 7am and all get up on the roof to start ripping off old shingles, your kids will be a bit upset that their summer sleep schedule has been disturbed by quite a bit of noise that cannot be ignored! It seriously sounded like they were going to come right through the roof and join us inside the house! Roofing is a spendy and loud endeavor! We have a couple more projects coming yet this fall. Replacing/repairing the living room ceiling, which has nasty water damage, and replacing our old, rotting porch windows. Once the budget recovers from those blows, we will take on the driveway project (hopefully sometime in 2017). There's always something to do when you live in a 90-year old house!