Saturday, September 13, 2014

If you give Becca a paintbrush....

Once again, I started a project and didn't take a BEFORE picture. Whoopsy-daisy.

Our guestroom has housed numerous people in the past 5 years that we have lived here. More than what I want to try to list. We highly value having a room in which we can easily extend an invitation for people to stay with us. 

And I believe I usually apologized for it. It wasn't messy or unkept. It was just a bit.....ugly. 

Two teenage girls had shared the room prior to us buying the house. Each wall was a different color - bright pastels. And the carpet was pink. We have re-done many parts of our house, but there are a few pockets of space left that we haven't touched. And up until now, I just didn't want to make the effort to paint it. It was just the spare room.

Well, I got the itch to paint it a few weeks ago. 

Although, I didn't want to spend money on replacing the pink carpet, so I had to think about what color scheme would look good with pink carpet - and I didn't want it to look feminine (more on that in a bit). Or moreso, IS there a color scheme that would look good with pink carpet without it looking feminine? 

I decided on a gray color. Actually, it was called "Coastal Pleasure". And well, once Becca paints a wall, it ends up being kinda like those "When You Give a Mouse a Cookie" books. 

If you aren't an avid reader of children's books like we are and you find yourself unfamiliar with these stories, it all starts out with a mouse who wants a cookie and so you give him one. Well, then he wants a glass of milk. Then he spills the milk. Then he gets out a mop to clean it up. Then he notices that the window is dirty. Then he opens the window and sees his friends playing outside. And so he joins them. Then a cat chases them all........And the story continues to build all the way back around until the mouse wants a cookie again. (The book doesn't go quite like that......but it's something like that). My point is that once I did one thing, then I wanted to do something else, and something else, etc., etc. 

I'm not sure if its possible for me to just paint a wall. 

So, after I painted the walls. I thought the room would look so much better if I painted the bedroom set that we had in there - a passed along used gift from some family a few years ago. This included a headboard, a nightstand, a large dresser, a desk/vanity, and a benchseat. It was stained a dark wood. I wanted it black.

And after I painted the furniture, then I wanted to freshen up all of the hardware on them as they would look much better in a silver.

Then I wanted to get a new bedding/comforter set.

Then I wanted to re-cover the benchseat cushion.

Then I wanted to paint the doorknobs on the closet doors. 

Then I thought the outlets and covers should be replaced.

Then I wanted a ceiling fan in place of the light fixture.

And I'm still looking for some artwork that I would like on the wall.

But I'm happy to report that my ambitious exploits that I don't really have time for have brought me great temporal satisfaction.

And the reason why I didn't want it to look too feminine......we offered ourselves up to host a male exchange student from Taiwan for the school year.  Adam is picking him up from the airport as I type this. Another ambitious exploit that we might not really have time for? Possibly. :) But hosting someone in our home and opening up our hearts and lives to them - that could potentially have great eternal impact. We have a big house, let's use it and share it. 

Do not worry, out-of-town friends and family - we plan to get to work ASAP on framing and finishing off a bedroom in our basement. Hope to have it done by Christmas time. In the meantime, if you should visit, we are more than happy to sleep on couches while you get the luxurious master suite. Luxurious might be too strong of a word for that. After all, the master bathroom is one more area we haven't redone and the walls in there are covered in old pink wallpaper. Maybe I should do something about that? ;) 

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Goodbye Summer/Hello School!

The first day of the 2014-15 school year is in the books!

Landon is ready for 1st grade! Conquered tying shoes a few weeks ago. 
He loves school and was raring to go this morning.

Man, these 2 guys are handsome!
There is no bussing options for us this year, although we have planned some carpooling with friends to help lighten the load for everyone. 

We are at a new school this year.  A local charter school.
The main reason for the switch is that I wanted Tate to do a Young 5's program and most of our regular public schools have phased this program out.  He's a smart kid and I wasn't worried about him academically. He could just use a little more time to be more sure of himself and more confident in trying new things and being in social settings.  He'll now always be one of the oldest kids in his class, but I think we have gained a great deal in giving him a little more time to develop before he jumps into the more rigorous academic demands of school.  He'll go to school 5 days a week in the afternoon.

And once he got accepted into the school, they have policies to bump siblings up on the priority list.  So, Landon was first on the waiting list for a spot in 1st grade and, thankfully, a spot opened up for him so that they could be at the same school. 
(This was the school that we applied for Kindergarten for Landon last year and he was #93 on the wait list.)

 Tate looks so sweet here. 
This photo was taken in much haste and frustration though.
Previous to this, as I was loading Heath in the car, Tate came bounding out the door and locked it.
My purse and keys were sitting just inside the house door still. 

We were doing so well on time.

So, yes, we were the last ones to arrive for Tate's class.
Someone has to be, I guess.
Tried really hard to not take it out on him and let it ruin the excitement of the first day of school.

I did learn the house is more difficult to break into than I thought.
Which is good. 
Adam answered on my 3rd call to him and was able to come home quickly and let us in.
(Note to Adam: You might want to fix the screen on the family room slider that I ripped partially off).

Happy to be reunited after the 1st day of school.
This is what 2 brothers do when you ask them to get together for a picture.
Apparently, it translates to "try to squeeze your brother as hard as you can."

And with the start of school means the end of summer.
Pretty sad about it. 
It goes too quickly and I love having my boys home.
We had a full and busy summer. No lazy, hazy days for us.

Here's our bucket list. 
The only thing not crossed off was "Pick Blueberries."
(Although I decided awhile ago to let this one go when we were super busy during blueberry season and someone who "picks blueberries like a migrant worker" (her words, not mine) needed to share an overabundance with us.

We crossed off the following: *Go to 15 different parks *Play with water balloons *Pick Strawberries *Go bowling *Play in the rain *See a movie in the theater *Get a donut at Sandy's *Mail a letter to someone special *Jump off the diving board *Go on a picnic *Host a neighborhood ice cream social *Camp in the backyard *Have RootBeer Floats *Make recycled crayons *Go fishing with dad *Read a chapter book together *Memorize Ephesians 2:4-5 *Go to a splash pad *Catch lightening bugs *Go to the beach *Play tennis *Have a scavenger hunt 

Plus, throw in a week at Grandma & Grandpa Vig's while mom and dad are on a missions trip. And a week at Lake Ann Camp. And a week with Grandma & Grandpa Strahm at Prairie Camp. And a busy week of VBS. And multiple youth hangouts, pool parties, and other shenanigans. And a Spanish teenager living with us for most of the summer.

It was a good summer, but we must say goodbye to it!
Praying to have an open heart and willing attitude for all that God has in store for us this school year!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

11 Years Ago We Made a Choice

August 23 marks our 11th wedding anniversary.
To the teens that we work with that sounds like a long time to be together. 
To my grandparents, who just celebrated their 66th (or was it 67th? I'm guessing they may lose track after that long as well) wedding anniversary this summer, we have hardly begun to fill the bucket.

To those who haven't crossed the marriage line yet:
Choose wisely.
Yes, it is a choice.

Know what is most important to you in a life partner. Yes, marriage should be for LIFE. That's how it was designed and intended - not by man, but by God. I actually made a list of items that were important to me when I was 18. Some were on the silly side and I knew were not essential. But I knew which ones were essential to what I should commit my life to.  He had to love Jesus more than he could ever love me. He had to pursue me. He had to have a heart to serve. He had to be an honest man. He couldn't be caught up in money and material things. He had to make me feel beautiful and make my heart race. Non-negotiables for me.  Some pursuing guys did not make the cut.

Adam did.

He wasn't shy about his relationship with Jesus. It was clearly important to him. It was a matter of easy conversation for us. He initiated praying with me before I went on my Spring Break missions trip when we were still just friends. He was eager to serve others and help them, often sacrificing his time to do so. And I loved that he drove a very rough-looking little Corsica and didn't seem to be bothered by it one bit.

And man, that guy pursued me and made me feel special. Notes. And lots of them! Good old-fashioned calling a girl up and asking her to hang out or go on a date. Sweet guestures. Flowers. Did I ever tell you about the time he sorted through a box of Lucky Charms and gave me a box of just marshmallows because he knew how much I liked them? That boy covered many miles to see me throughout our summer breaks. And he embraced my decision not to kiss until there was a ring on my finger (a decision I made after kissing a few, but before he came along) (Honestly, one of the best decisions I ever made.....probably material for another blog post).  And did I ever mention how he proposed? (definitely material for a blog post)

I chose Adam. And he chose me.
And every day, we need to be reminded of that choice.
And that commitment we made to one another 11 years ago.

Some days it is easy to love one another. Very easy.
And other days, it's hard. Very hard.

Many of our days we get along great and we are in sync with one another and laughter comes easily and he is still the most attractive person I have ever laid my eyes upon.  He is thoughtful and kind. I am considerate and pleasant. So easy to love one another on those days.  Blissful even.

And other days. Oy. Its like we are two hangry (hungry + angry) bears that have awoken from winter hibernation and we walk around cranky and taking swipes at each other. Our sinful human nature pokes through and is ready to be selfish and hurtful. Or life circumstances simply happens. And its hard and difficult and messy and we just keep getting knocked down.

That's when our choice is put to the test. That's when the opportunity to love really happens. That's when we have to stop and be reminded of what is required in the covenant of marriage that we vowed before God and 300 of our friends and family. We have to think about the sacrificial love of Jesus that we both have experienced and come to know.  He shows us how to love.

Some say that love is a choice. And yes, it is. We have to choose whether or not to express or extend love in many circumstances throughout our day.

But I have already made the commitment and choice to love Adam.
I need to see it through to completion.

11 wonderful years down.
Excited for the years to come.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Bucket Day

Well, Becca is away so the boys will play and I will post.  I normally don't post on the blog as Becca is a much better writer than I am and knows how to use grammar and punctuation properly.  But every so often I get adventurous and desire to do something postworthy. (this is different than when i am adventurous and then Becca posts about me  :) )

So back to the title of this post. Becca and the boys created a summer bucket list

So with 3 boys and no Becca I dubbed today as "Bucket Day" and took on the task to cross off as many of the items on the list as we could in one day.  The boys all got onboard with my idea so away we went. 
 Here is a timeline and list of our day with some pictures and comments:

Start time: 10am
Park #1 - Alpine sports complex

park #2 - Alpine E/lementary

Park #3 - Wahlfield park

Park #4 - English Hills

Park #5 - Orchard Hills

Noon - Lunch time. We stopped at McDonalds and I treated the boys to a happy meal and we were surprised to find that the 3 best Mcd's employees were all working at the same time so we got a photo  to document it.  Thanks Lydia, Christi, and Grace!

Splash Pad at Millennium Park - check off go to a splash pad :)

Park #6 - Millennium Park

Park #7 - Sunset Hills

Park #8 - Community Park

2:30pm - Home 
Swim time - Task: get older 2 boys to jump off the diving board. Success! I have a video I will post on Facebook.  This was no small feat as our boys don't like getting their heads wet or going under the water but with the excitement of "bucket day" and the bribery of going to a movie,we made it happen.  Now the real question is - will it ever happen again???  Only time will tell.

3:00pm - Heath - nap time
3:30pm - the Amazing Lydia who got off work at 2 came over to hang at the house while I took L & T to go see a movie in the movie theater. Check off another bucket list task.  We went to see "How to train your dragon 2."  Pretty good movie we all enjoyed it. I think i liked it better than the first one as it had strong themes of sacrifice and servant leadership.  I am sure there are other themes in it as well both good and bad but the boys and i were entertained and we used the refillable popcorn bucket i got for Becca for mother's day - and brought home a full bucket, so score!

6:45pm - return home and release Lydia, feed older two boys dinner (Lydia fed heath and herself before we got home. She is so great)
7:00pm - give all 3 boys showers/ baths
8:00pm - boys to bed
8:15pm - Dathan & Emily stopped for a quick visit.  They were the program directors for jump start program at lake ann camp this summer.  So i got to know them when i spoke at camp this summer and i recently helped Dathan get a new bow so we did a few tweaks, caught up, and then they headed on their way.  Very nice couple that Dathan and Emily. 
9:30pm - start working on the bucket day blog post.

All in all I would say it was a very fun and busy day and would rule it a success.  My highs from the day were watching Heath conquer the tallest slide on every playground - that kid is a thrill seeker we better watch out.  Out of the 3 boys he would always protest the most when we would leave a park but was also very excited when he saw the new slide at the next park.  I also enjoyed motivating the boys to jump off the diving board and going out to a movie with them. It was a great father son day that is for sure.  I hope this is a day the boys will remember for awhile. 


Saturday, July 26, 2014

10-Month Anniversary

We still get asked frequently by people we don't see regularly on how Adam is doing, so I figured we were due for a blog update. We have passed the 10-month anniversary of Adam’s accident.  The one that resulted in trauma to his spinal cord and broke his neck in the C4/C5 area. Oh yeah, that accident. 

Sometimes my mind and heart still go back to the early moments and days. The shock of it all and the emotions can still seem very fresh. The needing to be present enough in mind to make decisions about how to proceed and having to choose whether or not to move forward with surgery not knowing how much it would help - and risking that it could cause more damage to his spinal cord.  The pressure I put on myself to be put together and presentable for those stopping by to lend their support and prayers – and the feelings of desperately wanting to have them there so I didn’t feel alone.  The moment of looking at my boys in a quick trip home and not knowing how to parent them and just simply feeling like I had nothing, NOTHING, left to offer to them.  Having to watch my life partner needing aid for simple, everyday tasks as well as needing to have others care for him in personal ways in which no one wants to have someone else do.  Conversations with God, not out of anger, but with desperation and human certainty that I could not handle being the caregiver for a husband that could not function from the neck down – and if that was the case, the guilt of my admission that life would be easier if he had instead died. 
(Gulp. Yes, I thought that.)

But, here we are.  God saw it necessary to allow Adam a level of healing that most professionals would say was not possible.  We’re humbled, but also incredibly grateful. Strangers would have no idea there was anything different about him.  He is doing so much.
                In late June, he led a missions trip to New York. He drove the church bus for long hours. He participated in construction projects (not to the same level he used to be able to, but his skills and knowledge still lend him as more capable than most).

                He’s riding his bike. He’s never rode for more than 6.5 miles, but he says he thinks he could and he’s noticing its getting easier. He’s started wearing his bike shoes again – the kind that clip into his bike pedals.

                He mows our lawn on our stand-up riding lawnmower that requires a decent amount of hand/grip strength.

                He carries Heath, our 25-lb toddler, when needed to.

                He does all of the old stuff around the house that he used to. I honestly cannot think of anything that I need to pick up the slack on these days.

                He no longer takes any medication.

So, is he completely back to his old self? Well, no.

Here’s where we still notice some differences:
                He doesn’t have some of his fine motor ability/feeling back. Recently, he had some french fries in a bag from a fast food restaurant. He was trying to reach his hand in and be able to distinguish in being able to feel and pick out just one french fry. He couldn’t do it.  If you watch him do anything with fine requirements, it might look a little awkward.

                He made the comment last week that he doesn’t like going to bed. Its at the end of the day when he finally feels like his body has loosened up and able to function a little smoother. He wakes up in the mornings with everything feeling like it has curled up and gotten tight and sore. 

                He still can’t do anything that requires quick, graceful, or of anything with decently athletic movements.  He got a bit lazy with working out for a bit, but he’s back at it again. He’s noticed that it takes a lot longer for his body to recover from a workout where he has pushed himself. He says it is different than how it used to feel and the soreness sticks around longer than it used to.

We are still just blown away and thankful for how we are really back to a pretty close resemblance of how life was before the accident.  We won’t forget what we’ve learned and what we’ve gone through. And we still hope to use this to point others to Jesus.  Human support was beautiful, abundant, helpful and so appreciated.  We still run into people that we don’t know….but are friends of friends – or heard about Adam from someone that they knew – who say they were following his story and recovery and had been praying for Him.  Um, WOW. Always makes me feel that the world isn’t so big after all. 

But it was the hope we have through Jesus that made all of the difference for us. Despair never stuck around for very long – even in the early days. God granted us peace in most of our moments – even when there was so much uncertainty and unknown. We would come to Him and He would comfort and deliver.  I knew in my heart that no matter the outcome, He was going to supply what we needed and get us through – in His power, not our own.  And even if things were overwhelming and difficult, I knew that this frail life was just temporary and if we could just make it through our numbered days here on earth, we would have an eternal, perfect, heavenly dwelling with no more suffering and hardship.  We would be face-to-face with the Savior who loves us beyond what we can imagine.  There’s nothing that can compare with that. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tate turns 5!

Our Tate turned 5 earlier this week!

His birthday was on Monday. We somewhat quietly celebrated at home. We let him choose what we had for breakfast (Lucky Charms) and dinner (Stromboli). We went to the zoo. We opened some presents and cards from far away family and from us. We let him stay up late and catch lightening bugs. A good day. Here's a few pics:
Tate loves the Schleich brand dinosaurs - especially the ones that have mouths that open and close.
And Grandma Vig loves to indulge his little heart.
Tate, and his birthday buddy, Lydia, at the zoo. Same birthday....just 12 years apart.
Great-Grandma Willis and Heath watching the gift opening.
Tate LOVES bubble gum! 

But then, what he had been waiting his whole life for up to this point:

His 5-year old Birthday PARTY! 

Theme: Sharks! 

Tried to keep it simple. But I like order (as opposed to chaos). And I'm a planner. And well, it's F.U.N. to throw a birthday party! I still felt like I kept things pretty simple, but we kept the 2 hours hopping with activities and food and attempting to reign in the energy of 10 young boys! I'm pretty sure the boys would have been happy with just running around our yard, kicking balls around, and yelling. But again, I like order. And I was in charge. :) I was also the only girl that was allowed at the party. Tate said this was to a be a party with "only boys." 

Here's what Tate is like at 5 years old:
- He's showing to be a bit of an introvert much of the time. Still gaining confidence in who he is and figuring out how he feels about being in groups. (2 years ago I would not have predicted this!)
- He loves ferocious things with sharp teeth! (Dinosaurs, Sharks, Dragons)
- He has a GREAT memory and will recall details that I often struggle to remember.
- He's very observant at times and just likes to sit back and watch what is going on.
-Yet, he also has a great deal of energy and at times, it is like it is bursting out of him and he cannot contain crazy body movements and even crazier noises. 
- He loves to eat! He is often thinking about the next meal or asking for a snack.
- He still takes a 2-hour nap almost every day. 
- He can throw some HUGE fits when he doesn't get that nap. 
- He is almost as tall as Landon. 
- He can be a big sweetheart! 
We love him very much and cherish these 5 years we have got with him so far! 

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Youth Missions Trip

We just returned from a trip with the youth from our church (well, 5 days ago now, but it takes me awhile to catch up with the every day stuff in order to be able to sit down and blog.....who am I kidding? I'm not caught up?! I'm running around feeling crazy and stretched too thin!) Anyways. I don’t write about our work in youth ministry a ton, but it does make up a very, very large part of our lives. We still feel very drawn to work alongside youth, love on them, hear their stories, guide them to Jesus, and help them to grow in their faith. Some days it is easier than others. But this trip was really enjoyable on multiple levels. 

We went with GROUP mission trips.  Basically, GROUP puts on these trips all over and churches can sign up to participate one. They handle many of the logistics regarding securing work, feeding us, lodging, putting on programs, providing devotional material, etc.  (I must admit there are aspects of the trip that we (Adam and I) were not big fans of, but this trip was great to try and due to Adam being out of the office for several months, it was great in having many of the logistics covered and handled by someone else.  We mostly had to get a handful of paperwork completed and get ourselves there). We travelled to the small community of Newark, NY. We served alongside 6 other churches from various denominations.  Our youth were all split up amongst these other churches and went out to various work sites to serve.  Some served alongside organizations that provide services to the community. Some served in residential locations. Some served in nursing homes. We worked hard. We painted. We weeded. We built. We cleaned. We planted. We talked with.

The nature of the trip was great for getting to help a community with their needs and having the opportunity to serve in tangible ways.  It was also great at getting us out of our comfort zones and forcing us to work alongside others that we had just met.  Working alongside someone nearly always begins a relationship and allows you to hear one another’s story. 

Some of the stories I heard broke my heart.  Youth from inner city Philadelphia who appear vibrant and happy – but only to hear that they have wretchedly awful home lives that they will be returning to (emphasis on wretchedly and awful). Or talking with a pleasant young man in my serving group who has grown up in a church, yet it has clearly failed him as he has no working knowledge of what the Gospel is about, he is not aware of what John 3:16 says, and he did not seem concerned or bothered by any of that at all.  My attempts at sharing with him felt kindly brushed off and unnecessary to him.

There’s a great big world of people. People that need love. Sometimes the task to love on them and share with them the saving grace of Jesus just seems overwhelming. 

But we keep in mind that its one person at a time. And its our job to be faithful in the small things.  Our job is to love God and to love people. Sometimes we forget that. Trips like this remind us and force us to extend ourselves for others.

One of my favorite aspects of the trip is that due to most of our group being separated during the day at various different sites, we were brought back together in the evenings and eager to share our varied experiences with one another.  A trip like this brings your group closer.  We lived in close quarters. We ate together. We shared showers that had limited availability and warm water. We rode a bus for long hours.  All of those have the opportunity to instill in you patience, looking out for one another, being flexible and content, and of course, loving each other and having lots of fun. J

Here’s a few snapshots from our trip:
Team-building games prior to leaving.
Visited the restaurant where "Buffalo Wings" originally began.

Adam using a gas auger to dig holes.  He questioned whether or not it was a good idea for him to try to use this.
Of course, that didn't stop him.
Someday I will learn to not let teenagers look at my phone.
Although, it is fun to post the pictures they take of themselves. ;) 
Pretty sure arm-wrestling happens on all of our youth trips.
Out for pizza on our night off.  
Cut through Canada and checked out the beauty of Niagara Falls.
Dutch Blitz made the hours go by a little bit faster on the bus.
Trust me, we worked. We were just working so hard we didn't stop to take pictures of that much. 

So thankful for these great youth that we get to work with!