Friday, December 20, 2013

To Jeremy On Graduation Day

Sixteen years ago, I met you and was attracted to you for your kindness, handsomeness, gentleness, conviction, and love for God. You were a young man who was going places...but not the usual places of wealth, power, and career. You were going to Turkey, then to Mongolia. You were going out on campus at NAU to share your faith with others. You were driving an old beige truck and washing dishes with your socks. And I liked it. I committed my life to going with you, even though it scared me a little bit. But you helped me catch a glimpse of what a life lived for something greater could look like and it made me feel alive.

On our first anniversary, I had “And I will go with you” engraved on your wedding band...a remembrance of the song our friends sang at our wedding and a commitment to not waiver on all that I had promised you and God.

We Carlsbad, Kazakhstan, to Oceanside, to Phoenix, to Tucson, then Flagstaff (with a little Mexico, Inner City LA and Europe mixed in between).

4 years ago, you felt God's call on your heart over and over, against your best plans for your life, that you would go on to get a idea that seemed strange to us and out of our league. Remember, when I met you, I thought you were cute, but I also thought you were a dumb jock? Yeah, so it seemed out of our league. But you prayed and waited and sought wise counsel from your professors and trusted friends.

So we moved here, with so many ideas of our own of what would happen and how we would build a life for ourselves in Southern CA while you pursued a Masters of Theology—a stepping stone to a PhD program. 18 months later, here we are today. So many of our dreams and desires have died painful deaths over the last year and a half, and yet you have persevered to finish your degree with excellence and integrity...often forging ahead on your own when the way seemed too hard and the path was lined with doubt. I am so proud of you and how hard you have worked and how you have not once lost your temper with us or taken your stress out on me, like I probably would have if I were carrying your load. You are still the kind, gentle, principled man I fell in love with 15 years ago...and your love for God has grown and caused me to grow with you.

Now I stand here with you in this moment and look around and see the fruit of the last year and half—the accomplishment of your degree and our personal growth and the sweetness of the relationships represented in this room and I feel deeply thankful.

I'm glad that I made that commitment to go with you so many years ago, and even though going with you has not been the easy road, it has been blessed and I know I can laugh at the days to come and the roads we have yet to travel because God will be with us and will lead you as you lead our family in ways we both have never dreamed of.

Monday, December 9, 2013

This Was Fall

(This post has a lot of pictures.  Feel free to skip it but if you look at all of them, we'll know you love us.  Either that or you're avoiding housework.)

Much Ado About Autumn (I didn't make up the name) at Talbot School of Theology, where Jeremy is a student (for a few more weeks).
I am a sucker for glowy lights at outdoor venues.  Bales of hay take it to the next level.

Balloon Raccoon=Happy now, heartbreak later.  Life lessons, I guess.

My Australian friend, Tash.  (I confessed that I called her my "Australian friend" and she laughed and confessed that she calls me her "American friend".  We are so clever.)  Tash's husband is also a Master's student at Talbot.

Proudly showing off his arm-paint (that's his "Australian friend", Ben, dutifully admiring.)

This kid.

My goodness I should have tipped the poor face painter!  (That's Sam with Australian Josh)

Annie was bouncing most of the time the carnival games were open and didn't get much candy. I told her that she could go get some from the tub sitting on the table and she methodically played the games over and over by herself, rewarding herself with one candy each time.

There always seem to be electronics that make their appearance with these boys.

But they bond over their video games the way girls bond over...talking to each other's faces.

Annie adopted a small baby who had hijacked a coffee cup.  I should have jumped in to help, but I didn't.  I was too busy talking to my Australian friend's face.

Conversations you might overhear at a graduate school of theology function:  "You wrote your paper on Molinism?  At least you had research you could do.  I wrote my paper on vagueness." 
Birthday party in THE Coolest-Backyard-That-Doesn't-Have-a-Swimming-Pool in the world.
Super awesome can't really see how far back and up it goes but it's rad.  Our Romanian friend who is a genius built it for his girls in his spare time.

He also built this multi-level treehouse complete with electricity, a reading loft, a couch, a telescope, and a basket to haul up snacks.  I was ready to move in!

You know it's sturdy if it can hold the weight of my burly husband and numerous children at the same time.
First Annie Goes to San Diego, Then the Boys Go to San Diego (We had to get the most out of kids-free-admission-to-zoos-and-museums-in-October+cool-aunt-with-free-military-admission.  That's how we roll.)

Annie's favorite animal is a porcupine, and this one just happened to be out taking a stroll on a leash!
Annie is experimenting with a new smile, it seems.

Red panda...related to a raccoon or something.  I forget.  But Evan loved it.
Sam!  There's a shark about to eat your head!!!
A lot of pre-Halloween costume wearing happened.  I shamelessly encouraged it.  It gives me a vicarious feeling of joy.

Sam's costumes are getting too small...sniff sniff.

I let her wear my wedding tiara to the park.
Pre-Halloween Trick-or-Treating with Lacey.
More cuteness.

Pumpkin Patches.  They're all the rage these days.
Here's Annie's reaction to hearing not that she could drive a tractor, not that she could have unlimited bounces, not that she got a "free" pumpkin (I paid for it, oh I paid for it)...but that she got to pet a bunny!  (I know what you are thinking--I have to get her one for Christmas.  Sorry, not going to happen.)

Oh, I held a pig in a blanket.  Get it? A pig in a blanket!
Exciting Friday Nights:  Watching MasterChef Junior  (it was a show on FOX that we loved!  But even more fun was that the kids and my mom got pretty into making dinner on Friday nights before we watched it.)

One night, each kid planned and executed a course for our dinner.  Annie did fruit dip for an appetizer, Sam made a potato/beef casserole and roasted veggies for the main course, and Evan wanted specifically to make a 2-layer cake with Oreos in the middle and the MasterChef logo on top.


Another costume for Annie.

This is the part where the grown-ups I mean the kids carve the pumpkins.

Alice in Wonderland (until she peed in it and had to change)

Sorcerer's apprentice Mickey.  (I encouraged this because it helped me justify the splurge on the hat last spring at CA Adventure.  My friend found gloves for him in the lost-and-found at her school and I found a robe for him at a thrift store for under two dollars. Sweet!)
What else could he possibly have been?  He was so happy.  I think he really is part raccoon.

Don't let the cuteness and fuzziness fool you...he can sneak into anything when you are not looking!

Class party=Sugar overload

We spent the afternoon taking the junk I had been collecting for weeks and making it into a homemade carnival on the driveway.  It was for the kids but it was for me but it was for the kids.  I am kind of the Clark Griswold of cardboard carnivals.  I'll admit it.

Annie had a fishing booth inspired by Pollyanna.  Evan had a raccoon toss but he and I could never quite agree on what the object of his game was.  My way was right but I let him do it his way because I love him so much.

We set up a random leaky fishing pond using the rest of the pool noodles we had gotten this summer for Sam's Backyard Game.  
Everyone got into it.
Even Ranger.  (Is he snarling in this picture?  I'm not sure he liked the costume we got for him.)

The neighbor kids came over and helped a lot...which is really the funnest part--having fun with the neighbors.  The other funnest part is bossing people around.  See me there with my bossy arm out?
Guess whose pumpkin this one is?

And I'm sure you'll never guess whose this is?  (Aunt Kendra did this one...with Annie)

Which leaves this one as Sam's and I'm still not sure what it is, but the important thing is that he liked it (and that he didn't want any moving parts like he did last year).

In a random and shocking turn of events, my dad put on a costume!  He even put on Sam's mickey gloves and goofed around!  So all my friends in high school who thought he didn't move or speak except through his computer, here's proof that he's a funny guy!

My mom dressed up as well and made us laugh just as much.  The outfits were from one of my sister's trips around the world.

Sorry, it was just so random to have our neighbor kid stand with them in his costume or whatever he was wearing.
This is the end of the Halloween part.  There's not too much more, you're almost there.  The laundry can wait another minute, I promise!

This was when Jeremy showed an inappropriate video to the kids we were babysitting.
(I didn't know it was going to be inappropriate (neither did he) or I wouldn't have taken a picture)
This was when Annie did her own hair and looked really cute in a skirt my mom made for her and a jean jacket that I bought for her because I want one but can't find one that fits so again with the vicariousness.

Annie is really interested in gymnastics.  We have made it a goal over the last month or so to take advantage of every "Free Trial Class" at the local gyms.  Maybe we'll commit to one someday.  Or maybe I'll dye Annie's hair brown and we'll make the rounds again.

She rocked the rope climb while the coach took a nap.

Annie had a rare play date with some little girls.  The first thing they played?  Dinosaurs.  Yep.
Outing to Oak Glen (you have to say those two words really far apart or else it sounds like you are saying "Oakland" and people are confused about why you would want to drive all the way to Raider country for the day.  Then it's sort of exhausting getting everyone back on track.  I'm speaking from personal experience.)  Oak Glen is where you can do all things apple in the fall.  We went a lot when I was a kid, so it was fun to go back with my kids and my mom.  (Well, minus Sam who opted to go watch a Biola soccer game with Jeremy instead).
It was cold!  Yay!


My clearest memory was of these exact footprints.  I loved them.  So did Evan.

Free Samples i.e. Apple 'Staches

The old school house.  Very cozy, but I missed the big swing that used to be outside of it.
After Oak Glen, we visited my cousin, Jenny, for her daughter Mikaela's birthday party.  Annie loves that she has a little girl cousin!

And Last But Not Least, Wheel....Of....For-tune!!!!!
Sam was excited, I promise!

Yes, I was trying to be Vanna White.  And here's a tidbit--she wore PANTS during one of the episodes we watched!  She said it had been years since she had worn pants on the show.  So that almost makes us famous or something.

Walking on what used to be the yellow brick road.

Deliciousness and very expensive parking made the night complete!
The shows we watched being taped will air on Dec. 26th, 27th and January 10th.  But we won't tell you who won, you'll have to watch to find out!