Monday, July 18, 2016

Tate turned 7!

Our Tate turned 7! 

We threw him an early birthday party back in June so that he could celebrate with his kindergarten friends. So fun! Dinosaur themed. A backyard of kids playing. My favorite part was when they sang "Happy Birthday" to him. I had them sing it my favorite loud and as off-key as possible. I thought a few of them were going to bust a vein in their heads. It was loud. And hilarious.

My handsome game leader.
Dino Bones, Cavemen, Dino Eggs, Dino Claws, Fossil Cookies, and Jurassic Juice. Oh, and cupcakes. 
They were making dinosaur faces/noises here.
And then on his actual birthday, we had fun opening gifts and cards from family.
And we went out as a family to Buffalo Wild Wings, his choice. He LOVES eating, they have tablets there that we let the kids play on.
All the way from Colorado!

Tate still loves chickens. Gma Vig crocheted this little guy for him.

Landon bought a digital camera at a garage sale awhile back.
Thanks to his Lego-loving Aunt and Uncle!
And Tate's one long lingering birthday request has been to go fishing. So, while we were in GR this past weekend doing a final cleaning of our house there, Adam arranged for him and Tate to go out on the boat with the semi-famous Stormin' Norman, fisherman extraordinaire. (Ok, he's not really semi-famous....but he's a fun guy we know).  They were picked up at 7 a.m and didn't return until 1 p.m.

Tate said it was the best day ever. 

At 7 this is what our Tate is like:
- He has a strong affinity for dinosaurs, sharks, sea creatures, Star Wars, Legos, and chickens. 
- He is doing great with reading and I think he's very ready for 1st grade. Because we had him do a Young 5's program, he feels like this preschool era of his life has lingered just a bit too long and he's really ready to go onto bigger things!
- He is showing to a be a bit sensitive at times.....focuses on hardships, a little bit of anxiety, life not being fair, and gets his feelings hurts. I pray a lot about knowing how to nurture him, make him feel safe, help him be tough, and for him to know his worth and how much he is loved. 
- He is such a hard worker! Especially when he is working with dad. But also does really well independently at times (mostly depends on the job and how motivated he is). He will pick up sticks and haul logs all day long. 
- Loves being outdoors and looking for frogs, turtles, lightning bugs, etc. 
- Still showing tendencies of being an introvert. He likes other kids and likes being in social settings, but a lot of times he will retreat and its clear he needs some time alone after busy days. 
- He is still the same heighth as his older brother, although his limbs are longer and I think he will end up being taller. He still needs to grow into his body and gain control over it. 
- He is adorably sweet, thoughtful......and a bit crazy. And we love him so very, very much and are grateful he's been given to us! 

Friday, July 08, 2016

We made the move!

I believe we are almost officially Hoosiers. 

Even though I grew up in Indiana, I'm still not completely sure what a Hoosier is and why people from Indiana are called Hoosiers. The Indiana Historical Bureau did not clear it up for me much either.  But anyhow, we have moved nearly all of our belongings to our new place and just have a few things to tie up in Michigan (Michigander is kinda of a weird term also....but at least it ties into the name of the state better and is more easily explained). The cats, lawnmower, and our cleaning supplies are all waiting to be relocated down here with us. We are still waiting to close on our MI house, but things are still progressing and we are praying that all goes through without any hitches. 

Moving Day was was really smooth and great. Mostly because even though it was a holiday weekend, we felt immensely blessed to have such great helping crews in both towns. We are leaving some really great people in Michigan. But, its becoming clear to us that we are being received by some really great people in Indiana. 

Likely the last family pic in front of our GR house.
And it actually was super helpful that Adam's mom came and stayed at our house the week leading up to the move. The day of her arrival, I was admittedly a bit nervous (and possibly had a few moments of being overwhelmed) as she was also bringing 3 children with her (I won't get into the details of "why" as my blog post will already have too words for some of my family members). But it ended up being a huge help. Our boys were entertained and happy. Grandma took them on outings and put them to bed. She did the cooking. The other 3 kids were very well-behaved and polite. I had more time to pack and focus on those details. She was such a great blessing to have around! 

On the day of the move, our rental truck started getting loaded in Michigan at 9 am. By 11, the truck was strategically jam-packed full and the crew had gone. We arrived in Indiana at 3....and those that showed up at 4 had nothing left to do! 

We have worked on getting settled. There are still boxes EVERYWHERE! I thought I had purged a lot of our "stuff." But its clear that I did not purge enough. Nothing makes you feel hideously materialistic until its time to move. Its a little tricky as well when we were moving from a 3800 sq. ft. home with ample storage space to a 1500 sq. ft. home with significantly less storage options. I am currently avoiding our bedroom, except for the need to sleep, because I simply do not know how to make it work. I am fully aware I have too many clothes, too many shoes, too much jewelry, too much, too much, too much. (In my defense, they are mostly thrift store, clearance racks, gifts, and garage sale items!). We are just used to being immensely blessed/spoiled by our previous house and the space and amenities it had to offer. 

I am trying not to be stressed about any of it. Contentment and gratefulness is my aim. Some moments I feel like I am hitting the bullseye. And some moments I am missing the target altogether. I'm trying though. I know my aim needs to be on Jesus and all of our blessings.....which we have a lot of. 

Plus, in light of all that is going on in the world around us, it seems awfully silly to let an issue of "space" bother or consume me. I mean, seriously. Shootings. Bombings. Innocent lives being taken. And I have friends who are dealing with actual difficult things in their lives. Health issues. Marital struggles. Loss of loved ones. 

Anyways. We have tried to jump into life here and fully embrace what we have going on. 

We have some little projects going on at the house. I had already done some patching and painting in a few rooms. And I've already had a few projects for Adam. Plus, Adam tilled up some space for me and I got a garden planted. 
Me: "Adam, I would like some bracketed shelves on this wall."
I have bracketed shelves on the wall.

I signed up the 2 older boys for swim lessons. 

We've explored our new city a little bit.  We've found time to check out the library, a splash pad, and have a few gatherings with new friends. And I even threw a ball at a broken branch that was lodged in a tree for 40 minutes trying to get it down. Once you start something like that, you CANNOT give up. The boys were impressed with my aim and fortitude to keep trying (it was really lodged up there). And it may have even entertained our new neighbors?
Walking the Mishawaka Riverwalk area.

Exploring a new playground.
Adam assured me this equipment was safe.
Surely, it was strategically engineered that if a kid fell from the highest point, the ropes would slow down his fall as he plummeted to the somewhat padded ground.
The broken branch that we victoriously got out of the tree (finally!).
Its a slower pace of life for now with a lot less commitments and connections. But that's OK. I love summertime with our boys. We never managed to put together a summer bucket list like we have shared the past few years. But there's some things we've talked about wanting to, tie-dying shirts, going to a movie theater, a 10-mile bike ride....most of our list involves having a good transition, enjoying life, and making new friends. So, that's what we're gonna do! 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Endings, Goodbyes, and Other Stuff

So many fun and momentous things have been going on around here!

BUT there have also been too many endings and goodbyes. Blech. 
Not as fun.

Here's a rundown of some things that have happened in the last month-ish or so:

School Field Day
All day. Classroom color-coordinated shirts. Activities.
Landon pretty much smiles through every activity. He is so fun to watch.
Nothing is quite as entertaining as a Kindergarten tug-of-war pile-up.
Last Day of Work at Kuyper College
I wrapped up 12.5 years of employment at Kuyper College. Even though the last 1/2 of that has been in a very part-time capacity, it still was a pretty significant thing for me to have come to a close.

 Last Days of School

 Kindergarten Graduation!

Oh man. Sometimes I can see a glimpse into the future. He seems so much older than 6 here.
But here, he's my sweet and darling little boy still.
 Girl's Weekend
Super thankful for these 2 high school pals coming to me in the midst of my crazy transition time for a girl's weekend. I treated them to a downtown hotel in GR and we enjoyed pedicures, shopping, food prepared by someone else, yoga, and lots of conversing and laughing. 

Saying Goodbye to our International Sons
Parker left mid-June for Korea. And Kenny leaves in a couple of days for Taiwan. 
Both will come back to GR for the 2016-17 school year and live with new families. :( 

Landon goes to camp!
Landon went to overnight camp for the 2nd year in a row. He LOVED it.
And this is what he was like later in the day after I picked him up from camp. He sat like this for 20 minutes after we reached our destination. Brothers were poking him and talking loudly. I unloaded the whole van and went to the garage sale across the street. I finally woke him up.
 Goodbyes with Friends
This is my friend Marilyn. I treasure her and our breakfast chats. She is irreplaceable. She has been very good to me and I consider myself immensely blessed that she showed an interest in connecting with me several years ago. 

And a group of girlfriends from Highland had a little farewell gathering for me as well. It was good to hang out and connect. Thankfully, we did nothing mushy or make too big of a deal of me. But when I got home late that night, I noticed they had secretly tucked in giftcards in my new city for a mani/pedi and a trip to the salon to treat myself. I will sorely miss these friends and was a weepy, puffy mess that next day. 

 We have a pool....for a little longer

 We will soon have to drive somewhere to go swimming. Sniff, sniff.
We have had some great pool weather lately though!

Walks through Blandford Nature Center
We have nature trails really close to us in GR and I LOVE walking on them. 
The boys and I headed out a couple of days ago for what was likely our last morning walk on them.

And maybe my next update will be about all of the new and exciting things we are venturing into! And I'll *try* not to let 6 weeks pass before my next post. 
But for now, I need to stop procrastinating and pack up the rest of our house!

Monday, May 16, 2016

What's going on....

Just a little update.......

Adam began his new position on May 1. He spends part of the week in Indiana, but most weeks he plans to come back to GR for a couple of days during this transition time. So far, he really likes it. Its a very different dynamic than what he had been doing. He has part-time personnel....which results in a much greater team effort and a lot more meetings. As his doting wife, I think he is going to do great and this will be a chance for him to really stretch and grow in his ministry experience and relational leading. 

I'm trying to hold down the fort while he's away. He was so integral and helpful in things running smoothly around here. I'm definitely having to pick up the slack while he's away. He did all of the morning stuff with kids and running them to school. (Yes, he is amazing! We're talking getting kids up, making breakfast, brushing teeth, packing lunch, etc.) And now I'm doing getting the 3 year year old up and carting him with us. I know many people have to do this already. I'm not complaining. I'm just saying....he does a lot around here and I had a pretty cushy existence prior to this transition. :) 

Our dearly loved house. Well, we finished up a few projects that made us wonder why we hadn't done them sooner. But as we made a list of all of the updates that we have done since we bought the house 7 years ago....well, we have pretty much been doing something since the day we bought it. Or waiting for the cash flow to replenish for the next project. 
And we are very excited to share that we have received an offer. And we've accepted it. (It is contingent upon their house sale....but their's should be on the market very soon. And the market is a seller's market and pretty crazy out there!) We are hopeful that it will all go through smoothly. Its a family of 7 that I think would really enjoy this place. 
And nope, we hadn't listed it. Or advertised it in any way. 
We are wanting possession until the end of June. We have a lot of back and forth things going on and will need a place to lay our heads here in GR.

As for a place to lay our head in IN. The church has a house that they have offered to us that we are slowly moving our belongings to. Such a blessing to not have to be frantic about selling/buying and how we would handle this in-between time. 

I have been purging and slowly packing. Selling some furniture on Craigslist. We'll have a garage sale this weekend. Crazy how much "stuff" accumulates. Every time I sit down to relax (or in this case, write a blog update), I feel a pang of guilt that I need to be going through a closet or putting something in a box. 

Our little boys. Kicking soccer balls. Field trips. Legos and Pokemon all over the place. They are troopers and awesome kids! Every once in awhile, I see a glimpse of them struggling with this transition time. This morning, I told Tate I couldn't go on his field trip because I would have to find a daytime babysitter for Heath (which isn't easy to find). He didn't throw a fit and whine like he usually does when he doesn't get his way (which does NOT sway me). He just sat real quietly and still and had huge tears rolling down his cheeks and off his chin. Do you think I'm heartless?!?!?!!!! Of course, I got out the permission slip and changed my answer saying I would be going. 

Our big boys. One of the things that was holding Adam and I back on considering a ministry outside of the GR area was that we wanted to see Kenny and Parker through high school. We have had to let go of that though. They both will return for their senior year next year. With new host families. Kenny wanted to go with us and it was possible, but we pursued all options through our organization and did a lot of advocating, but we received closed doors from the schools in our new area. We are disappointed and slowly realizing that our family will feel much, much smaller next year. 

Its kinda nice that this transition time is a bit "drug" out. But its also a little awkward. Just a feeling of not sure where we quite fit these days. Adam is making lots of connections in our new place.....but we aren't yet. But we are connecting with people here still. It is good to know that we have 2 places where we will come to love people. 

Since blogs are better with pictures, here's a few to make you happy:
Heath really likes dogs still.
(And yes, we are well aware of all of the Target controversy these days. This was taken two months ago. And we didn't use the bathroom.)
Side entry update. New flooring. Painted walls and closets. Little boys get a scolding if they are caught touching the walls or driving their vehicles on it. 
Master Bath update. Its crazy how different this one looks and feels. Sorry, no before shots. It had pink wallpaper with a flowered border. The most difficult wallpaper I have ever had to remove. The floor was gross. I painted the vanity a gray color. Adam had the mirror cut down and then did a pallet wall behind it.  I mixed several leftover paints to get the color on the wall....of which I really like. Very minimal cost, but SOOOO much better. As Adam and I ripped up the multiple layers of old flooring on a Saturday night.....I fell in love with him all over again. I love doing projects with him. 

Handsome soccer players.
Heath has discovered there is a candy bar in the checkout lane that has his name on it. He thinks we must buy one every time. Lucky for him, I really like Heath bars.
We have been introduced to the game of rugby. I still don't get it. A mix of football, soccer, wrestling....and even cheerleading. Yes, I said cheerleading.

Moral of this blog post: God is good. Very, very good. And we trust Him.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Spring Break with the Wolves

Apparently, we are extending our Spring Break a little bit and taking it easy. Fever has invaded our house and I had to stay home from church today with two boys. Thankfully, its just a mild fever and is seemingly remedied just fine with an occasional dosage of tylenol and lots of movie watching.

It is easier to prepare a nice Sunday lunch when you are home all morning though. 

And maybe allows a little time to write a blog update.....

Some pics from our trip to Great Wolf Lodge:

This cute fish had a good time.
Enjoying the Lazy River.
He's sitting on a little fountain. And he's super cute.

It was hard to get a picture of Landon. He was repeatedly doing one of the slides at the top of this jungle gym. He'd get done and immediately climb to the top to go again.
Adam enjoying a little time in the "adults-only" hot tub.
This giant bucket would tip over every 5 minutes or so, pouring lots of water out onto people. 

Our boys have only stayed in a hotel twice in their lives. They like laying on cozy beds and watching TV.

In front of the little Clock Tower.
We had bought our stay through a Groupon deal. And it included vouchers for breakfast.
All of the kids get free wolf ears when you check in. This kid has the cutest little howl.

A few thoughts on staying at Great Wolf Lodge:
- We purchased our 2-night stay in a Fireplace Loft Suite through Groupon. (This room could hold 8 people). It was nice we could let the older two boys have their own space and 1/2 bath upstairs. Staying in hotel rooms is rather annoying when you want your kids to go to bed at a decent hour....yet, you yourself are used to staying up until 11 or 12. I ended up reading a book in the hallway for awhile so that we could shut the lights all off and they would fall asleep. And we had to watch the NCAA basketball game with the sound off. Imagine my silent cheering as my Villanova pick won at the last second. 
- The room had a mini-fridge and a microwave. We knew we would get a big breakfast both days (included in the Groupon). I packed stuff for sandwiches for lunches. And then I brought fixings for dinner as well so that we didn't have to go off-site or spend a bunch of money to eat on-site. I had pre-made the meat and froze it (Tacos for the first night, Shredded BBQ Chicken sandwiches for the 2nd). 
- We went to the Sandusky, OH location. I read that this one was a little smaller than the one up in Traverse City, MI. But when I went to book, Traverse City did not have any of the large suites still available for our Spring Break week. 
- Staying at GWL is still pretty pricey. I had been eyeing the Groupon deal for awhile before I bought it. I compared it to what I saw directly on the GWL website. I even called their Customer Service to inquire if they could compete with the Groupon. The woman quickly said that they couldn't come close since the Groupon deal included breakfast and $10 credit in the gift shop for each night booked. And the breakfast was good, but very pricey if we would have paid for it out-of-pocket. We could have easily brought breakfast food to eat in our hotel room, but I liked the idea of starting off the day on a full stomach. 
- Everything was clean and well-kept at the facility. I didn't notice anything that needed attention. 
- We took our two high school international boys. The ideal age for Great Wolf is definitely younger than them. They were still pretty good sports about it though. Adam took them to a movie during one afternoon to help compensate their time. 
- I was not super impressed with their extra activities. The boys were very intrigued with this MagiQuest wand thing that you saw everywhere. It was quite expensive though. To get the boys to stop asking about it, I eventually told them how much our room cost.....and then they stopped asking if they could do it. We walked through the arcade a few times, but it was pretty pricey to play as well. They had a Clock Show and Storytime in the evenings. For the clock show, a bunch of animals and people came to "life" and did some songs and such. They were a bit creepy and the sound system was not very good and it was hard to understand what was even going on. The storytime wasn't all that great either. We attended them both the first night and then not again. We went to a free craft time as well and the boys were able to make a button at no charge, although they had much cooler things that involved a charge. 
- It was Spring Break, so it was busy, but I never felt like it was horribly crazy. None of the lines for water slides were that long. Frequently, there was hardly more than a minute or two wait. And sometimes, no wait at all.
- It almost felt like we travelled someplace warm as they say they keep it to 84 degrees in the water park area. You do end up walking around in a swimsuit most of the time, so you kinda have to be comfortable with that. 
- There are a generous amount of lifeguards and they were very engaged, attentive, and friendly. We let our L & T go around as they pleased, without us being with them. They often even separated and we were comfortable with that. One, and usually both, of us was always in the water park with them though and generally knew where they were at. 

Overall, we had a very good time.  The boys really had a blast. One night would have been too short, but two nights was a good fit. I am very glad that we went, although we aren't planning another trip there anytime soon. Too many other places to explore as well!