Sunday, July 1, 2018

One Year Ago Today

On this day, one year ago, we completely changed our lives. We drove away from jobs and home and loved ones to a new adventure of the very much unknown. At 8 months pregnant it was terrifying. But God had us. And has us. And this past year has been full of Him.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

So What Now? Home Life Edition

Do you find the day to day mundanes of other people's lives fascinating? I do. Well, depends on the person of course. But in general, the different ways that people tackle the world. The things that they view as so normal. The habits they've chosen to incorporate into the world. What they must have. What they avoid at all costs. Such a snapshot of the uniqueness of our world.

So what does our little world look like now? I've already shared with you about our physical home and the current kitchen adventures.

But who is actually living and breathing in this home and snarfing down these kitchen goodies? What do we do with our days? All those little things that make up this "grand thing we call life."

My days are made up of the following:

1. Caring for baby
2. Caring for the other two children.
3. Caring for/supervising care for a dog.
4. Maintaining my home including cleaning, cooking, shopping, bill paying, etc, etc. You know--that stuff!
5. Teaching
6. Editing
7. Living

1. Baby girl is a joy and honestly such a calm little girl (knock on wood, praying hard this continues, go ahead and throw that salt over your left shoulder!). She is now 9 months old and growing fast. We're already transitioning into 12 month clothes. She crawls lightening fast, climbs stairs, and explores and is ready to start walking any time--she just needs to forget what she's doing and do it! She is signing more and more (literally--she's signing "more") and babbles away when the mood strikes (in a rather loud, assertive voice--apparently being the youngest she feels the need to make sure we're hearing her).

She is still somewhat hesitant with most other people except our immediate family--even those she sees regularly. But she's screaming less and just studying them more.

Her thumb is still her best friend. And, with some exceptions, she is still my least-stressful sleep baby. And I love it!

2. Bluberry and Zander-Man have both grown (physically and emotionally and mentally) so much this last year. They are settling into our world here well. Zander is at the age where his memories of NC and house-parenting are rapidly disappearing. Blueberry still struggles with missing our "Big Girls" and some of her friends from NC, but as time goes on and we settle more firmly into our lives here, she is happier.

They absolutely love the weather and probably spend between two to three hours outdoors most days. There is a strip of yard behind our house that they have taken over (trying to not terrorize/annoy the neighbors). They play around the front. We are in walking distance of parks. They love it.

3. Kip Guile is the latest addition to our family. Obtained in January of this year, he is a toy fox terrier of a grand total of about 8 pounds--full grown as he is 2 years old. He thinks he's more like 60 pounds and is determined to take on every dog/person/strange thing that he sees and protect us all. It's taken some work as we've decided he either wasn't well socialized as a puppy or is just a neurotic little mess. However, he's becoming steadily better behaved and minding his manners better. Which is good as for awhile there we did have some concerns about if we needed to try again with a different dog--which was not a happy idea for anyone, least of all Blueberry who is most definitely mistress of Kip and the love of his life. He has, in time, warmed to all of us, generally speaking. But she's the one he runs to check on the most and whines to go see if he isn't with.

4. Home life and maintenance. Ah, where to begin. Well, I shan't go into much here, at least not for now. It's all been an adjustment going from working as a houseparent to just being a regular parent with a different focus. And not having Chris around during the day to help with the constant interactions with the kids does wear down my introverted soul sometimes. I'm learning to manage myself better and maintain my needed boundaries and ways of breathing. Fortunately, the beautiful thing of having a husband who has "been there/done that" in a way (in terms of working at home) is that he understands the big picture of all I do, and is willing to help out however he can. We're finding a nice rhythm to our lives--changing and adjusting as baby grows and activities grow and family needs morph.

5. Teaching. I am continuing to homeschool Blueberry and Zander. I honestly love it, and the thought of sending them away to school (while appealing occasionally when they're being difficult) really isn't one I entertain. I will explore this topic in more detail (possible too much detail!) at a later point. But homeschool life, curriculum, learning, and all related are a huge part of our existence.

6. Editing. This has proven to be one of the more surprising aspects of my life the past 10 months. I've always continued to edit for seminary/masters students even while we were house-parenting. The extra income is always helpful, and I enjoy it. However, I haven't done a lot the last few years as I simply didn't have the time.

In December, I was contacted by a minister/executive for the Pacific Northwest Assemblies of God needing an edit on a book he was publishing. Thanks to our thoughtful pastor, he had suggested my name, and I spent much of late December/early January working at that. The money was perfect as it allowed us to purchase Kip, and I definitely enjoyed getting my fingers back into editing.

Then in January I was contacted by another gentleman for a different ministry who was looking for a regular editor for their organization. Long story short, I agreed to take that on part-time, and have been enjoying that since. The hours are decent, I get to work from home, and the pay is definitely a bonus right now as, while God is taking care of us and we're living comfortable, we have absolutely no wiggle room in our budget. This is creating a way for us to handle some other financial matters with less stress, and that makes me happy.

I've also had a few more other small jobs pop up the last few months, and another lady needing a book editing that she is self-publishing. So all in all, my editing continues to flow well and I'm thankful (for I have no doubt of how this all came about) for the Lord's looking out for us in all ways and times.

7. Living. The things that make this existence worthwhile and memorable. We're enjoying exploring the area. I absolutely adore living in a valley with both mountains (and volcanoes . . . ) and the ocean just short drives away. Of course Seattle and Portland are both great cities to explore and be close to as well. This will continue to be a factor as the kids grow and interests abound.

The church we're attending just kind of landed in our lap and has been a huge blessing since the first day we arrived. I'm enjoying getting to know some of the ladies from there; and we're slowly getting more involved ministry-wise. Not taking on anything too quickly though. They have a fabulous kids program, and that's been amazing for Blueberry and Zander.

Reality check in our lives the past ten months--particularly the first six--is that in addition to having a newborn, we really had a lot of stress and processing to deal with and work through. Both Chris and I feel like we're just now coming out of all that, and the evidence is being seen in small ways. Both of us exploring writing again for a start.

Friends are coming. Some through the church. Some through the neighborhood (because it is such a new neighborhood, it seems a little easier to meet other people as they move in than can sometimes be the case. Although even now I'm beginning to lose track of who all lives down here). Others we've met through the homeschool co-op we joined in the spring. Each one a little root shooting into the ground as we become more planted in our new home and find ourselves growing strong.

All in all, life is beginning to flourish here. Are all things perfect--nope. Are all things settled--nope. Are we always open to the move of God and His direction--I sure hope so. He's not led us wrong yet.

But as I said to Blueberry the other night when she was having a rough night . . . God moved heaven and earth to get us here. It literally took miracles to make this happen. I don't believe for a second that there is a not a reason for that. And our job now is to live our lives the best we can and seek after what the purpose is--whether it is simply breathing into other people's lives or taking on a whole new ministry. Who knows. He will show us, and in the meantime, we ontologize.

Monday, May 21, 2018

So What Now? In My Kitchen

As the kitchen is, at least so I've been told, the heart of a home, let's have a peek into my kitchen and see what stories the activity there can tell of what our life is at this time.

With a dairy free husband (who also tends to avoid cashew and almond milk) and daughter and myself being gluten free and soy free, cooking is always interesting. I do tend to cook from scratch primarily as I find it cheaper and actually less complicated than trying to find various versions of "free-from."

My first challenge since we moved was getting used to feeding 12--8 of whom being extremely active, growing girls--to only feeding 4 (well, now 5 as Ell is starting to eat). Fortunately we like leftovers as my proportions were way off! And actually, leftovers are frequently how I plan our weeks. Cook for a day or two or three--eat leftovers for a day or two. It's so nice to not have to think about dinner every single day. I always feel sorry for people who don't like leftovers (or who have family members who don't like leftovers). I Love being able to plan for non-cooking days!

I've also been having fun finding some new recipes.

We've been trying to incorporate fish into our weekly fare with more consistency, so I've found an awesome Fish Taco recipe and a few other fish recipes as well we've been enjoying.

I've also found a good recipe for non-complicated Pho. We love Kwitdeow (Thai Chicken Noodle Soup), but having the Vietnamese alternative has been fun. And my kids seem to be completely satisfied with either option.

What else is going on in my kitchen?

Well, I've started making yoghurt again (yum!). I've attempted coconut yoghurt, but I haven't been super pleased with the results. This is frustrating both as it's annoying to not have it work and also it's a bit expensive for a lot of mess-ups. I need to try to find an alternative dairy-free yoghurt recipe that Blueberry likes (and Chris can handle). She likes my coconut yoghurt that has come out correctly, and actually prefers it to the store bought versions. I just need to get some consistency there. Maybe with the weather being a little warmer . . .

I've also been learning the fine art of water kefir. Oh my goodness. Seriously. LOVE this stuff. No idea what I'm talking about? Start reading here to get a glimpse of this deliciousness.

Now, I have had one jar that may have exploded (we're thinking a crack in the jar as the cause of that), but otherwise it's been an easy process to learn. And if you've ever tried to make Kombucha--thinking way, way easier. And faster. And just as delicious (or more so depending on your taste buds).

Kombucha--I have a scoby sitting in my fridge as I speak--waiting for me to get a handle on it.

I've also been playing around with some lower-sugar options in my own diet. Nothing to extreme, but experiments that I'm enjoying.

The ultimate pattern in all of this, which you may or may not see, is that of time and experimentation. Two things I've simply not had much of in my life the last few years. To make homemade yoghurt and mess around with kefir grains and even enjoy baking/making treats that my whole family can enjoy is something that just was difficult to do with everything else going on. And this, I'm loving.

Except for the days when I don't want to cook. But really, who doesn't have those occasionally?

One Year Ago Today

On this day, one year ago, we completely changed our lives. We drove away from jobs and home and loved ones to a new adventure of the very m...