Thursday, January 22, 2009

Oooh, This Is Fun!

Matt and I have decided that this is the way to work on support! We have made a few one-week trips, but they have not been very fruitful in general. Time is so limited, which also limits people's availability. Five weeks is another story altogether. Our kids adjusted to the time change pretty quickly. We have had enough down time for naps, and good visits with family and friends. And because we're here for so long, we are able to work with other people's busy schedules.

In the last 2 weeks we have :

1. Had lunch with my grandparents
2. Spent a day with my Auntie Maggie and Uncle Dave
3. Spent lots of quality time with my dad and step-mom (who are thoroughly enjoying their grandkids)
4. Cleaned out our family's storage unit with my dad and sister. Lots of good memories...and even more trash!
5. Had 2 Sundays at our home church, Santa Cruz Bible Church. Wonderful!
6. Had dinner with old friends Rachel (Witmer) and Kelly (Stanford), and dessert with old friend Jill (Altknecht)
7. Observed SCBC's Awana program after sharing dinner with the children's director, Ani
8. Drove to Los Angeles, via Fresno
9. Had lunch with my childhood piano teacher, Mrs. MacIntyre, who I had not seen in 13 years!
10. Had dinner with supporters Dave and Amanda. Go Claimjumper! Yum!
11. Spent two nights with my Uncle Jack and Aunt Marianne, and one night with my cousin Katie and her family
12. Had an awesome day at Disneyland!
13. Had lunch with Matt's sister Julie, her husband, and her husband's sister
14. Drove back to Santa Cruz
15. Enjoyed a day at the beach and lunch on the Santa Cruz Wharf
16. Spent a whole day with our very best friends, Stan and Noel
17. Scrapbooked with Noel and my cousin Missy
18. Spent three nights with Missy and her family
19. Visited the school we used to teach at, and had lunch with dear friend Julie
20. Spoke at a marriage class at SCBC
21. Had coffee with old friend Robin Patrick and lunch with new friends Tom and Rachel.

Tonight we are going to dinner with old friend Rebecca!!! I can hardly wait to see her! It has been at least 9 years since I last saw her. This weekend will be party weekend, as we spend it with my sis and her husband. We'll be celebrating all our family's January birthdays (there are 5 of them). Sunday Matt is preaching at a church in King City. He has done a great job preparing her sermon. I love seeing him use his communication gifts!

Alrighty, the time has come to depart for dinner. More from me another day.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Childhood Magic

Right before we moved to Arkansas, we took 3-year-old Snapper to Disneyland. We had a great time riding the carousel and teacups and seeing the princesses. But Snapper, being a complete wimpy chicken, would not ride anything without a fuss. Her courage has not improved much since then. She still won't even ride her bike with training wheels on it. So when we planned a day at Disneyland into our trip, I didn't have much hope that we would do much more than ride the carousel and the teacups and stand in line for hours to get princess autographs.

We arrived at Disneyland at 11:30 yesterday morning (confounded So. Cal traffic!). Snapper was literally jumping up and down with excitement. Pepper was completely clueless. We walked into the park just in time to see Mickey Mouse walking down the street. We quickly purchased hats for the kids, and then went to see Mickey. Pepper was beside himself with excitement! He jabbered on a mile a minute to Mickey, hugged him, kissed his leg, it was so cute!

Then we headed for the rides. Snapper saw Star Tours, and insisted she wanted to go on the Star Wars ride. I knew how intense that ride is, but decided to take her on it anyway. I figured it would be a good predictor for the rest of our day. To my surprise, she loved it. Then she saw the Matterhorn and wanted to ride it, too. Again, I was skeptical, but decided to give it a try. She surprised me again by squealing and laughing her way through it. We kept building up, and by the end of the day we were able to ride everything in the park. The capstone of the day was Space Mountain, which neither one of us loved. She decided that Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was her very favorite ride. We went on it 3 times, and she would have ridden it all day if I had let her. When we get back to Santa Cruz, I'm going to take her to the Boardwalk for one ride on the Giant Dipper, a wonderful old wodden roller coaster. I think she will love it.

Pepper enjoyed a lot of the rides, too. He has a cold, so he wasn't feeling 100%. But even so, nothing bothered him in the least. He loved the new Buzz Lightyear ride, Dumbo, and driving his own car in Autopia. He even went on Pirates of the Caribbean! Poor little Pepper, though. He just ran out of steam at dinner time. We watched the Star Wars stage show, and he melted down when it was over. I think he would have watched it happily for the rest of the night. He cried and cried while we waited for our pizza to cook. He was too tired to feed himself, so Matt held the pizza for him. Pepper's eyes kept closing as he ate, and he could hardly sit up. After he finished his pizza, I wrapped him up in Matt's sweatshirt and he was gone. He slept in the stroller until we left the park at 7:30. He slept all the way home. He never woke up when we put him in his jammies. And he slept straight through the night until 8:00 this morning. Never in his life has Pepper slept more than 12 hours! Last night he slept for 14 hours!

The best part of the day for me was seeing Pepper delight in the characters, and watching Snapper make a huge step against her fears. Disneyland may not be full of magic for me anymore, but I get to relive the old magic through my kids. I think it is even more to go to Disneyland as a parent than it is to go as a child! The conclusion of the night was kissing my prince in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. After all, Disneyland is where our relationship began. But that's a whole 'nother story for another day.

Visit to make your own!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Home Sweet Confusion

Well, well, well! I write this from the couch in my daddy's living room in Scotts Valley, CA. We had an uneventful travel day (always the best kind of travel day) on Thursday. Since arriving, we have enjoyed time with my dad and step-mom, my grandparents, my Auntie Maggie and Uncle Dave, my sister, my cousin Missy and her girls, and our BFFs, Stan and Noel. Sunday was a great church and family day. Yesterday we spent a few hours at the beach. I'm loving being home again.

Home. Or is it? Coming back to where I spent the first 26 years of my life has been different this time. As soon as we pulled out of the airport, I felt like I had never left. The highway over to my dad's house has not changed. The city of Scotts Valley is mostly unchanged. The road up to my dad's is the same. His property has lost a few oak trees, but is essentially the same. It wasn't until the next day that reality sunk in. We were headed over to San Jose to see my Granny and run some errands, and I totally drew a blank on how to get where we were going. Streets and stores I've known my whole life, missing from my memory. I was thinking of Walgreens and could not picture where any Walgreens locations were. All I could think of were the 2 Walgreens in our Arkansas town. It was the eeriest sensation.

In the past 3 years since we moved to Arkansas, life has continued to happen in my hometown. It's kind of like when a child sees his teacher in the grocery store on a Saturday and can't figure out why that teacher isn't at school. For whatever reason, I guess it never registered with me that a lot changes in a place in 3 years. Kids grow up. People pass away. Businesses close and are replaced by other businesses. Homes are remodeled. New roads are built. As we drove around on Friday, I realized just how much HAS changed here, and it threw me for a loop. I was not expecting the changes, and I was definitely not expecting to have lost a lot of my familiarity with this area. All day on Friday and Saturday, I was totally weirded out. I found myself homesick for this area--not for how it is now, but for the way it was when I left. Is it weird to be homesick for the place where you are? Yeah. I'm totally confused.

I also have done a lot of thinking about Arkansas. Our town in Arkansas is my home, my present, my reality. I have a great life there. I know where the stores are, the great restaurants, my friends' homes. I have learned the shortcuts, the back roads, a lot of the insider spots. I have established lots of nice friendships, and a few close friendships. My kids don't really know any other place. Arkansas is my home. California is not anymore.

I'm not sure how to feel about all this, so I'm focusing on everything that is ahead of us these next 4 weeks. Our schedule is filling remarkably fast, and I'm so excited for all the people we get to see and the great things we get to do. I love how bright the sky is, how much richer the colors are. I'm CRAZY about 75 degrees with low humidity in the middle of JANUARY! This is a great place to visit, and I'm going to enjoy it.

I'm feeling kind of weepy, probably because I'm tired. So I'm going to go ahead and sign off here. I have to post a couple of my favorite beach photos for you before I go, though.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Do You Know the Way to San Jose?

I do! It's on the 8:30 American Airlines flight out of Little Rock tomorrow! Actually, that one goes to Dallas. We'll pick up the flight to San Jose from Dallas, and we land in the good ol' 408 at 1:05 p.m. I'm so excited...

It promises to be a great trip. We'll be spending some good time with my family. No one besides my dad has seen Pepper since Pepper was 10 months old. This is so overdue!

The main focus of our trip is to raise some new support. The economy has been tough on our support, so we need to rebuild our team. This task will take us all over the state--as far north as Redding, and as far south as Disneyland, where we'll spend a day with my cousin Katie and her family. Matt will be preaching at a church in Monterey on the 25th, and speaking at a men's breakfast in Redding on the 31st. We get to see old friends, meet new people, and eat good Asian and Mexican food. Yup, should be a great trip!

I'm very proud of myself. Because American Airlines now charges $15 EACH WAY for EACH PERSON'S first checked bag, and $25 EACh WAY for EACH PERSON'S second checked bag, I had to get creative. I can't afford to spend $120 to ship my clothes to California! I considered UPS or mailing them through the post office. But I don't have enough clothes to get by without the ones I would send. Since we will be traveling a fair amount again this summer, Matt and I invested $120 in carry-on suitcases that meet the airlines' size requirements. I spent another $20 on vacuum pack bags. We chose our clothing carefully. And I packed. Here's why I'm proud of myself...I was able to get 5 weeks' worth of clothing and necessities for 4 people into 4 suitcases measuring 20"x14"9" each! Each bag is at least 5 pounds under the weight limit, too! I'll be able to do this again this summer. The best part of this is that we won't have to worry about losing our luggage, and we won't have to wait in the baggage claim! Woo hoo!

The only part that concerns me about this trip is that we're leaving our pregnant kitty behind. Did we want kittens? No. We were told when we got Zoe that she was fixed. She is an indoor cat, so even if she was not fixed, it wouldn't matter. But then she developed lightning paws and escaped out the door one day in December. About 2 weeks later, Zoe's personality changed. She started sleeping a whole lot, seemed lethargic and queasy, had bad breath, and got ultra-cuddly. I would have gotten very worried, except that her weird behavior was only in the afternoon and evening. So I got online and did some research. Sweet Zoe exhibits all the symptoms of pregnancy, including morning sickness (in the evening). It has been fun to watch her little body change over the past few weeks. The morning sickness is gone now, and her belly has firmed up quite a bit. She still sleeps a lot, is much more mellow, and very cuddly. She purrs all the time and follows me everywhere. I've also found her in some very strange places. I figure she's scoping out delivery rooms...Anyhoo, by my calculations, Zoe is due a week before we get home from CA. I'm so glad Debbie will be here. Debbie has lots of experience with mommy cats and kittens.

Okay, I need to get back to work. I still have kiddo backpacks to pack, and a house to tidy up before I leave to pick up Matt in 2 hours. It's pretty clean already, just needs a few things put away and the vacuum run. I am so excited for tomorrow! It can't come fast enough for me.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Ice, Ice, Baby!

2 days ago it was humid and 75 degrees in our town.
Today it is 29 degrees with freezing rain, sleet, and ice.
Come on, weather! Make up your mind already!
Hey, at least the ice is pretty...
These pics were taken in my front yard this afternoon.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2008 Top 12

Happy 2009, my friends! I love New Years Day. I don't make resolutions, because it seems making a resolutions dooms my venture. Instead, I evaluate life and set goals for the year. On New Years Day, though, I also like to look back at the year prior. As I have thought about 2008 today, I have realized just how eventful it was. Here's a recap, inspired by my friend Lori: The Top 12 Photos of 2008. Each photo is a favorite of mine, depicting something special or unique that happened in 2008. I'll put an explanation of my photo choice under each picture.

This one had to come first because it is my favorite Snapper and Pepper photo from 2008. They didn't know I was taking their picture, and it perfectly expresses their love for each other. They fight, yes, but they love each other with a fierceness that amazes me.

Lots of things quicken my heartbeat, stir my emotions, but none more than watching my sweet husband interact with our children. Snapper and Pepper adore their daddy, and he is a fantastic dad. Whether they're sharing tender moments (see next photo), or wrestling together, their moments are sweet and I LOVE that!

This year Pepper's personality has emerged in full, and his focus has switched from Mommy to Daddy. Daddy is Pepper's hero (as it should be), and watching the father-son relationship blossom has been a high point of the year for me.

Each year I make a photo calendar for the dear ones who support our ministry. Throughout the year I constantly watch for those picture-perfect moments in nature to capture for the calendar. This is my favorite nature photo of the year, which is featured in September of my 2009 calendar. Why September? Because September (my birthday month) never has the prettiest picture! Hee hee!

Much of our character development focus with Snapper this year was on developing a heart of unselfishness. We watched her make great strides in this area as she is learning to put the needs of other before her own needs. This is the "after" photo...after she donated her hair to Locks of Love in May. What a neat opportunity to be unselfish! I'm so proud of my girl.

My boy is every inch a boy! What picture personifies my all-American son than this one?

He cleans up really nicely, too, though. This is Pepper's 2-year-old birthday portrait. It captures him completely.

For 3 years now we have lived 2400 miles away from our closest family member. Because of this I have come to the following conclusion: FAMILY is the best vacation destination. We enjoyed some time with my crazy-fun cousins in Oregon this spring. This picture is a reminder of the good times and great memories I share with my family.

Since we're away from family, we have chosen to make family here in Arkansas. This picture is Snapper with her best friend/adopted cousin V. It is my favorite because it captures the whole essence of 6-year-old BFF's.

Quite possibly the highlight of the entire year was Snapper's baptism. What greater joy have I than to see my children walk in the truth! Frosting on the cake: Matt got to baptize her. Snapper's heart belongs to Jesus!

After 10 years of sleep problems (horrible, regular nightmares, insomnia, frequent waking), 6 years of unexplained weight struggles, 3 years of abdominal issues, increasing extreme mood swings, and seasonal emotional slumps, I finally have answers. For all these years, no doctor has been able to get to the bottom of my health struggles. I've taken many different medications with no success, only acceleration of my symptoms. Until the end of August. When I went to see a new doctor recommended by several friends, I was at an all-time weight high. After 2 appointments, this wondeful doctor diagnosed me with Atypical Depression. For information look up Atypical Depression at He put me on a low dosage of an antidepressant, and my life has turned around. Every symptom that has baffled me for so long is explained by this condition, and one simple medication has solved the problems. As the chemicals in my brain have balanced out, my body has followed suit. My metabolism has increased, my appetite has decreased, weight has fallen off. I sleep through the night most nights and rarely have nightmares. All the other issues have resolved as well, and I feel better than I have since before Matt and I got married. The top picture of me was taken in July. The bottom picture was taken last week. I am 30 pounds lighter, and loving life again. The change in me rounds out (or rather, thins out) my Top 12 of 2008. I wonder what next year's Top 12 will look like...