Monday, November 23, 2009

on the road again...

what on earth would possess us to make the loooonnnnnnngggg desert journey back to arizona with 3 little kids in the always luxurious mini-van that still doesn't have air conditioning?

these lovely people:
because not only do we have my wonderful family to greet us with open arms and plates full of wonderful thanksgiving delicacies, we get to celebrate with chad and sarah the next day. my brother and his lovely fiance are having their shower. and when you combine wonderful events such as the day of gluttony and celebrating a soon-to-be wedding... well, here we come!

after, of course, venturing to the library this morning to stock up on movies, movies, movies, and books and more books to keep my children's minds captivated the entire way so that i can totally engross myself in my current book that i am COMPLETELY obsessed with. its unnatural really. unhealthy even. and i'm loving every. minute. of. it.

and when the videos wear off, and the books have been thoroughly perused, there is always the bag full of sugar. just toss it over the seats at them and away we go.

happy trails to all.

(and if it doesn't go so smoothly, i'm packing my itty-bitty book light so that we can drive home in the middle of the night while they are sleeping and i can read non-stop so i can be completely crabby and sleep-deprived the next morning.)

its all going to be pretty awesome.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

getting settled

so people ask, "feeling settled?"

that all depends.

on whether or not we are counting the garage.

because as far as the house goes, its feeling rather home-y around here. and i love it. its cozy. we've unpacked and semi-organized the basics. minus ella's favorite white blanket but we'll find that "one of these days." (at least that's what i keep telling her.)

we are settling into a routine. we've found the nearby parks and nature walks.
we're in the process of finding a church.

ella's made friends.
bennett's found bugs.and dirt.
and mason?

well, he's just doing his thing...

(not to worry. that's just mud. not dog poop or anything crazy.)

life is good. but that doesn't mean we don't miss you dear arizona friends and family. come visit soon.

except, well... we may not exactly have a bed for you. i mean, we don't even have enough beds for us.

don't feel too bad for them. they actually fight over who gets to sleep on the floor.

they think its some sort of bunk bed or something. who am i to rob them of their fun by purchasing a mattress?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

its called fall

on our lovely walk through our tree filled neighborhood yesterday, ella very curiously asked, "what are all these leaves doing all over the ground? and why are they brown and yellow?"

yep, looks like we got out of phoenix in the nick of time.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

church (s)hopping

one of the lovely (or not so lovely) things about moving to a new area is finding a home church.

i don't particularly think church shopping is all that fun.

granted, there are fun things about it. like the privilege of parking in the front spot reserved for those special "first time visitors."

but we've also had to drag our children kicking and screaming down the sunday school hall and shove them in a classroom and run for it before they can latch back on to our legs and cry hysterically about how horrible it is going to be.

and that, my friends, is the main reason church shopping isn't so much fun. my children hate it. and no amount of "what a fun opportunity to learn about how much Jesus loves you!" is going to trick them into a good attitude.

however, donut bribery does work. sometimes.

fortunately, in this church searching adventure, we have actually had a bit of an advantage. we know precisely 3 families here that we love and respect. and knowing them helps with church shopping. because by their attending any particular church, they have already taken the hard part out of the process for us.

we know, since we respect each of them, that their churches each have a reverence for God, believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins, and they don't worship the devil.

ok... ok... but seriously, its nice to already have the churches narrowed down to good, solid choices.

so, once we determine that the teaching is sound and the key essentials that a church believes are in line with the Bible, what are the less important things that determine where our next church home will be? well, allow me to enlighten you.

(if you find yourself to maybe be, i don't know, a tad "legalistic" and not so, i don't know, "flexible" please consider applying your sense of humor here.)

1. worship style. (like you didn't see this one coming.) (it is important to note here, that the church we left in phoenix is pretty hard to top in the worship category. well, actually, in many categories. not saying it was perfect or anything, but we loved it and so did our kids.) first, i recognize, as all good Christians do that "its not about me." its not what i get out of worship, but my heart's condition before the Lord. that is why worship style is not a deal-breaker when choosing a church. however, lets just say that i prefer worship songs that are similar in style to the type of music i like and listen to on a daily basis. so, all other things being equal, i like modern, edgier music. old people may or may not refer to this as "loud." i wouldn't settle for compromised fundamentals of a church for it, but its my preference. there, i said it. so yes, it is all about me sometimes. (and be honest, its all about you too, so don't judge)

2. children's ministry. it's only fair to say that nothing will compare, in my children's eyes, to the church they came from. i mean, it was like a mini-amusement park. that's what you get with a mega-church budget. and yes, i'd like my children to learn that there is far more to church than a stage, and awesome props, and amazing music, and a semi-broadway production each weekend, but its going to take some time before they can get past all that. but a key element here: nice sunday school teachers. when i take my kids to a room and the teacher doesn't even look at them, and then i have to really make a point to introduce myself and pry her out of the corner to meet my kids, and then she doesn't even talk to them, and then when i pick them up and ask them what they learned and they say, "we just played" i can't say i'm totally sold. however, also not a deal-breaker. because i believe that if you see an area that might possibly benefit from "improvement" of some form or another, it just might mean YOU are the one God has brought to do something about it. so. we could still attend this particular church. and i could volunteer in the children's ministry and smile and greet everyone and sing Jesus Loves Me as they walk through the door and pass out candy and simply be the worlds greatest sunday school teacher ever. EVER.

3. cry-room. here's the thing. there absolutely needs to be a place where mothers can take children who are sick or impossible and still hear the message without compromising the reverence of sunday mornings. at one church, it was mentioned that i could just take my sick kid with me and sorta sit at the back and it will be ok. yeah, umm... allow me to introduce you to mason.(yeah, i see all you parents with your docile children who sit still all through church and never make a peep. you make me slightly bitter.) and i know churches say "there is a great children's ministry where your children will receive great care and supervision so you can get the most out of the adult worship." its just that sometimes, for certain periods of life, our high maintenance child just need to be with us so he won't throw up on the nursery worker again in his desperate, hysterical rage. that's just gonna be the way it is. so, cry-room/overflow-room/video feed is nice.

4. food. yeah, so non-essential. but when you have tables heaping with bagels and bags to be filled and taken home, its kinda nice. same with the donut table to make your kids happy about the borderline torture they had to endure in sunday school. coffee is nice too. creamer is essential.

5. people. i can say, that at each church, i fell in love before even setting foot in the service. because people were genuinely happy to see us there, help us find sunday school classes, ask us questions about our fascinating selves, and invite us to their Bible studies and what not. more than anything, the warmness of the people makes a difference. if you are still reading, take this to heart. you may be the reason someone wants to attend church. so smile. ask, "can i help you find the nursery... is this your first sunday... can i show you where we stash the free food?" and also, laugh when that obnoxious little one year old who should be in the nursery throws a ball at your head.
so, where will we land? not sure yet. but more than weighing options like food and such, we'll pray that God has us where we can serve him and our children can flourish and we can be a blessing to others. what it all comes down to is that we are truly grateful we live in a country where we have options. and we can worship freely. where the question of the morning is, will they have cream cheese today? not, will i be arrested and tortured for worshipping God in the underground church?

we don't take lightly the freedom we have to choose the building we can enter on sunday morning to learn about and worship our Creator and Lord. this is a big deal, people. i hope you take the opportunity to appreciate it too.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

water for christmas

allow me to direct you here.

and if you are like me and too lazy to check out random links you may know nothing about, please do it anyway.

its about what you can do to make a difference in someones world.

10 dollars is all it takes.

that's like giving up 2 starbucks drinks. all to provide one person in africa clean drinking water for 10 years. yeah, that's right. just let that thought haunt you while sipping your next perfectly frothed, completely overpriced mocha beverage.

this weighs pretty heavy on my heart. because they:

could be them:

and i simply cannot bear the thought of not being able to provide my children with something as "simple" as clean drinking water.

its all happening this friday. november 13th. (but you can start today) just $10. water for christmas.

spread the word and go make a difference.

Monday, November 9, 2009


mondays are very special around here.


because the gardener comes.

and that is exciting stuff, people.

when we were looking for a rental, almost all of the listings would say "gardener included."

this sounds rather luxurious to me, as though tucked away on our sprawling estate is a quaint little gardeners cottage or something.

but nope, its just pretty standard around here, i guess. maybe its because homeowners want to make sure that their home is taken care of and their plants don't die due to irresponsible renters. (personally, i was holding out for the "housekeeper included" but, no such luck.)

so today, when the familiar sound of the lawnmower interrupted our book reading adventure, the kids bolt up and sprint for the window and ella says, "mom, stories will have to wait. the gardeners are here!" and then they ran frantically from the front window to the patio door and back again so as to not miss a single grass cutting moment.i'm pretty sure these particular gardeners may think we are a bit nuts. partly because of my children's unnatural excitement over the lawn. and also, because last week, when they came, it was our first day in the house. the only box i had unpacked was ella's dresses. so at the sliding glass door stood ella, in her long sleeve, red velvet formal christmas dress... and bennett and mason in the dirty t-shirts they slept in and little else. (i would have taken a picture, but i couldn't even find pants for my kids, let alone the camera)

oh the excitement of monday.

Friday, November 6, 2009

i realize this is obnoxious...

but i just can't get over how beautiful my children are.

i mean, yes, there are far more important qualities i want them to be known for in life, like integrity, compassion, honesty, selflessness, passion for God, etc...

but seriously, the one thing they have zero control over... beauty.

maybe i'm just biased.
or, it could be my photographer. i hear you saying, "oh my goodness, those are the best pictures i have ever seen!" oh yeah, its all because of joanna. should you live in arizona, you better hurry and book your christmas photos with her. because she is simply amazing. and very, very reasonable. and pretty soon, hollywood is going to start calling her to shoot cover photos and what not, so you better get her while you can. (

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

moving day

well, we had to say goodbye to the beach. and the "rustic" house where we had the privilege of staying for a month.

and we said goodbye to our fun neighbors and new beach friends. they were sad to see us go... they cried and gave us all kinds of candy.

well, not so much crying, but lots of candy. it was halloween after all.

and shouldn't every child have the opportunity to trick or treat on the beach?

the next morning was moving day. it was the longest day of my life.

quite literally. because it was daylight savings time. and who actually came up with this crazy idea, i'd like to know? because where i come from (arizona) we don't participate in all this time changing silliness. we set our clocks and we stick with it. it certainly makes sense to me.

i did experience the actual changing of the time once before in my life. i was at school in massachusetts. it was far less significant back then. it was back before sleep schedules, little kids, naps, family meals... which are kinda out of sorts for a few days while we get adjusted. nope, back in the day, my biggest concern was whether or not i might actually go to class. most of the time, time was pretty much irrelevant.

also, i find it mildly depressing to be eating dinner at 5:30 and its dark outside.

however, i find it convenient that my kids are convinced its later than it actually is and they get pj's on at like 6:15.

so here we are, getting settled. i rather like our cute little house. "little" being relative, of course. its half the size of the one we came from (translation: where are we going to put all this stuff???) and yet larger than the dwelling places of the majority of the world. (translation: we are very blessed.) i try to refer to the second perspective when i open yet another box of kitchen-ware or toys or miscellaneous-who-knows-whats.

i know you are simply dying to see what it looks like. i am too. if i could just do something about all these boxes blocking my view.

so allow me to share with you through the eyes of a 5 year-old the best things about this house: "the beautiful pink rooms, the wonderful backyard and the fun toilet." yes, right here, in this very house we have what is referred to as a "public toilet." the flusher is a button on top. and if i need to bribe my kids to do something, i tell them they can flush the toilet in my bathroom. works every time.

oh, the simple things in life.