It’s Been A While

Okay, it’s been way too long since I have written a blog post here. I’m actually kind of ashamed. And the more time that went by, the more resistant I was to actually posting something, because I started to feel like it was pointless to try to keep updated on here. But I miss writing. Writing helps me breathe and think a little easier. So, here I am.

Not much has really changed since the last time I wrote, other than the fact that two of the kids have turned a year older, we’ve moved to a new town and a new house, Rick got ordained as a pastor and has a new job, and I’ve started a new business.

Yeah, that’s all.

I guess we’ll start with Epiphany’s birthday. We got to travel to Spokane for Easter, and Epiphany’s birthday was just a few days before that, so we were already up there. We got to celebrate with my whole family, which was great! My little girl is a 2-year-old now (she actually has been for a while now, but just play along). Isn’t she beautiful?

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Easter in Spokane was great. The weather was just gorgeous, and I’m always thrilled to have good weather on Easter, since it’s really not reliable, especially when it falls in March. We had a lot of fun with the family and took lots of walks. The kids were super excited about all the antlers they found up on the hill.

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In May, our family was going through a big transition. Rick’s year long residency at St. Luke’s was coming to a close, and though he had a few leads on jobs, nothing was nailed down yet. Our one year lease at our apartment was also almost done, and we had decided that we didn’t want to renew it; we wanted a bigger place with a little more privacy and freedom for the kids to make noise and run around. But this was all a little difficult when we didn’t know where we were going to end up. Amazingly, though, God worked everything out for us with perfect timing. Rick got a job with a hospice in Fruitland, Idaho, about an hour away from Boise. We started searching for homes in Nampa, about half an hour from Fruitland (and still only half an hour from Boise), and had a really difficult time finding just the right place without it being snatched away. Apparently, there is a high demand for rental homes here! Yet again, though, God provided, and we found a wonderful, spacious home that fit all of our criteria.

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We moved in the beginning of June, with some help from a neighbor from the apartment complex and some of his friends. We were so grateful for the extra hands that made our work so much easier! Even with all the help we received, I was so tired and sore by the end of this move. As often as we’ve moved in the last several years, it’s always exhausting. Maybe we’ll stay put for a little while this time.

In August, I decided to start a new venture: a photography business. I’ve loved photography for so long but I just didn’t ever feel like I could devote my time to running a business. Now that the kids are getting a little older and more self-sufficient, I decided to plunge into this new adventure. It’s definitely been a lot of work in the beginning, but I’ve loved being able to capture great photos for families, and hearing their positive feedback really keeps me going. For being a new business, I’ve had more success than I ever would have anticipated, and I’m excited to see how things continue down the road. I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that it can be overwhelming and stressful at times, but I feel like I get a lot out of it, too, so I think it’s all worth it. My photography website is here.

Last, but not least, my oldest daughter recently turned eight. Eight! I can hardly believe it. She’s just as full of personality and ideas as she ever was, and is growing into a beautiful young lady. I just hope she doesn’t grow up too quickly, because it’s actually becoming a little alarming. I need the pause button.

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Okay, I think I’ve got you all caught up on most of the interesting and important stuff. Maybe now I can keep up without writing one long, crammed post.

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Adventure to California, Part 2

It was sunny and relatively warm as we headed from Sacramento to Santa Rosa. Rick and I both felt giddy from seeing all the green, the palm trees, and the sunshine. We made a quick stop at the Jelly Belly Factory, but opted to just buy some jelly beans instead of waiting over an hour in line for the tour. As Rick said, “What are we really here for, anyway?” So we filled up a few bags with the gourmet jelly beans, and we got back into the car, with only about an hour left to our trip.

We arrived in Santa Rosa and waited where my parents were staying until they got back from tux fittings. After they came back, everyone except for Epiphany, Rick, and I took a dip in the outdoor, heated pool. It was a lot warmer than what we were used to in Idaho, but I wasn’t quite warm enough to commit to swimming. Everyone else had a blast, though.

Soon, it was time to get ready for Isaiah & Amy’s dress rehearsal. We arrived a little early and hung around outside until the doors to the church were opened. The Tuckers were there, too, and the cousins played together while waiting.

I did some test shots during the rehearsal, since I would be taking pictures of the wedding the following day.

Then it was off to In-N-Out Burger, then back to our resort in Windsor, which is just a few minutes past Santa Rosa. It isn’t really OUR resort. Rick’s mom has WorldMark points and let us use some in order to stay there. It was really nice!

The morning of the wedding, there was a beautiful sunrise. I snuck out while everyone else was still sleeping and snapped a couple shots.

We spent most of our day with the Tuckers and my family. We had lunch together, then headed to the pool and hot tub. This time, I braved the waters because Epiphany really wanted to go in. It was actually not as bad as I thought, and everyone had a lot of fun. We swam until it was time to go back and get ready for the wedding.

I got there early to take some pictures of Amy getting ready.

And then, my brother got married! I am so happy for him.

I’ve learned a few things after taking pictures at a wedding. 1. Don’t wear high heels. 2. Don’t wear a dress that constricts your ability to get from place to place quickly. 3. Don’t take your kids with you. Of course, this was my brother’s wedding, so I wanted to be all dressed up, and of course my kids were going to be there. But if I ever photograph a wedding again, at least I will have an idea as to what to wear. No heels. I was pretty tired by the end of the evening, but it was well worth it.

The next day, we headed towards the California coast. We’re a bit landlocked here in Idaho, so I was craving the sight of the ocean. It was pretty beautiful. The kids loved playing in the sand and exploring for hours.

On Sunday, we headed back home. Thankfully, our trip back was much smoother than our trip there. All the roads were clear, and there was no requirement for chains on the pass. We made it as far as Winnemucca on Sunday night. Isaiah and Amy were driving back in the same direction, and they stopped in Winnemucca as well. We were able to have breakfast with them on Monday morning before heading back home. This was the view from our motel door on Monday morning.

We got back in Boise by mid-afternoon on New Year’s Eve. It was a tiring, but good trip. I wish it could have been a little longer! I hope to go back to California again someday. It is beautiful there.

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Our Adventure to California, Part 1

Last month, we drove down to Santa Rosa, California, for my brother’s wedding. We started our trip the morning after Christmas, at 6:00 am. If that wasn’t already early enough, Rick was called into work at 3:45 am, and got back just in time to wake the rest of the family up to get ready and head out the door. It had snowed on Christmas day (yay for a white Christmas!), so the roads were slick and snowy (not so much yay). It was still dark when we headed out. In fact, it was dark for about the first 2 hours of our driving, which was slow and windy.

At first, Rick was doing fine, probably fueled from adrenaline. Eventually, he became almost too tired to keep his eyes open, but we planned to switch places in McDermitt, NV where I would take over with the driving. We laughed like maniacs, both sleep-deprived, and finally pulled into the little store where we’d take bathroom breaks and switch off on driving. The roads weren’t getting any better, so as painful as it was, I had to drive around 40 miles an hour on a 70 mph highway. I saw other people putting chains on, but chains are stupid and dumb and I hate them (except when I absolutely need them), so with gritted teeth, I kept driving through the slushy and slippery roads until we finally made it to Winnemucca, where we’d get onto Interstate 80.

At that point, Rick had gotten enough rest to take over again, so he drove the rest of the way. I-80 was pretty smooth, and the speed limit was 75, so we were finally really getting somewhere. We stopped just outside of Reno for another break and to get gas before heading up the Donner Pass. While Rick was filling up the tank, someone pointed out that our rear passenger tire was low. We went to put some air in it, but as we did, we just heard the air hissing right back out of the tire. Greeeat. Time to go to a tire shop.

We found a tire shop that was able to get it patched up and get us on our way before sunset. We spent about an hour waiting in the lobby before everything was done, and were happy that the damage was only $15. With sighs of relief, we started heading toward the pass. Unfortunately, chains were required for vehicles without 4WD, and yay for us, our car isn’t 4WD. So, about 30 minutes of struggling to get those dang chains on, we were finally on our way. The chains made it almost unbearably loud to drive. We both felt like we were going crazy. Chains are NOT supposed to drive on clear roads, but we would not have been allowed to pass without them (and they had a checkpoint), so we had no way out of it. When we reached Donner Summit, there was only a small amount of snow on the road. It was so much less than what we’d already driven in—we would have been fine without the chains. But, rules are rules. We eagerly looked for where we could take the chains off, and were happy that not long past the summit, we were allowed to. So, we quickly took them off (so much easier to take off than put on) and were on our way. I was so happy and relieved! But only five minutes later, traffic came to a complete standstill.

We weren’t sure what was up, but seeing as how traffic had been severely backed up at the beginning of the pass, we thought that maybe things would start moving soon. But over an hour passed with absolutely NO movement. The kids, who had done exceedingly well thus far (especially Epiphany, who had not fussed ONCE in the 12+ hour journey) were starting to get antsy, so we went outside and let them play in the dark, along the highway, in the snow. Lots of other people were out walking around, walking their dogs, or just pacing back and forth. Some ran up ahead to see if they could figure out what was causing the delay. (We heard that it was a pileup, but nobody we talked to saw any evidence of it). Finally, 1 hour and 15 minutes after waiting, the cars began to move. We quickly and excitedly buckled the kids back in their seats, started the car, and started moving. Within seconds, we realized something was terribly wrong. It was the tire. No, not the one that had been patched up in Reno. It was another one. The front driver’s side tire. It was completely flat.

I am surprised that instead of crying, or yelling, or just sitting silently, numb with frustration, I ran to the back of the car, grabbed the jack, a spare tire, and started pumping the car up. Rick was on the phone with AAA, thinking that we wouldn’t be able to change the tire ourselves, but I was not willing to sit and wait any longer than we already had. So, he started helping me. Within 20 minutes, the tire was changed, and we were on our way again.

It took probably another hour to reach Sacramento, which was our intended stop for the night. A hotel bed never felt so good. We all got to sleep fairly early (for us).

The next morning, we had a nice continental breakfast at the hotel, then headed to our next stop at a friend’s house. This is a friend I’ve known for several years, but had never met in person before. We all had a great visit together, and our kids had lots of fun playing with each other.

At around noon, we headed from their house to our final destination: Santa Rosa.

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Another Autumn

I knew that Kathryn Albertson Park would be a good location to capture some pictures with the fall colors. Apparently, so did a lot of other photographers! I don’t think I’ve seen so many photographers all doing sessions at the same time as I did yesterday at the park. I can’t blame them for wanting to take advantage of the beautiful weather and brilliant colors. I love taking pictures in the fall.

Happy Fall!

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Seven Years Old

Happy birthday to my sweet, wonderful, beautiful, smart, funny, and tender-hearted daughter, Kyrie. I love you so very much and am so thankful to have you in my life. You truly are a blessing, and your presence in the world brings so much more brightness to it.

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Goodbye For Now

On Tuesday morning, August 14th, we heard some devastating news: Forrest (my brother-in-law)’s younger brother, Ford, was killed on impact in an auto accident. I remember the feeling of blood draining out of me, then a dull heaviness in my heart. Memories I had with him, though few, rushed back to me all at once. He was only 18. The tears I shed for him were nothing compared to the huge wave of grief felt by all those who love him that he left behind.

The comfort, however, is that Ford knows his Savior, and His Savior knows him. We cling to the hope of eternal life through Jesus and that final day when we will all be reunited with each other and with Jesus, face-to-face. We know that Ford doesn’t feel pain or anguish. He has no fear or anxiety. I’m thankful that even though I know his family’s hearts are aching, his heart is filled with joy. He is truly resting in peace, and I believe that with all my heart.

Obviously, even if I didn’t know Ford well, I was connected to him via several of his family members; most notably, Forrest, my brother-in-law, who is an extremely important person in my life (seeing as how he married my older sister, and has proven himself to be a faithful and loving husband to her, for which I am very grateful). I’ve also formed relationships with many of his sisters—Heather, Heidi, and Holly, and perhaps more intimately, Hilary and Hannah—two of the sweetest girls I know.

This entire family has been a wonderful example to me even in the midst of one of the most difficult tragedies imaginable. Even in their grief, they find a way to continue loving, giving, praising. God’s love and grace shines in such an undeniable way through this family. We traveled to Nevada to attend Ford’s funeral and demonstrate our care for them during this time in their lives, and to honor the memory of Ford, and I pray that my presence somehow did minister to them—but I know without a doubt that they actually ministered to me. Thanks be to God. I am truly amazed.

My heart is still aching for them through their pain. And I am, like them, holding fast to the hope of God’s promise that we will meet Ford again.

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell;
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.
-John Donne

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My Baby

I have to say, the age that Epiphany is at right now has got to be one of my favorites. She is learning so much every day, she is bundles of fun, and she’s really beginning to show off her little personality. Epiphany is a very physical toddler, which means we deal with some hitting, kicking, and biting. But she is also extremely affectionate, giving multiple kisses to all of her family members every day, running into our arms, and snuggling up close to us. She is such a sweet joy to us and I could not imagine my life without her now that she is in our family. She brings so much fun and brightness to our lives.

She has been learning some new words lately. Most of her words just sound like the beginning of the words, like “nuh” for nurse or “haw” for hot. She loves to tap me and say “Mama! Mama!” and then when I acknowledge her, she points to whatever it is that she wants to tell me about, and starts saying gibberish. Her newest word is “shoes,” which took me a bit by surprise since she definitely does not have the shoe obsession that Kyrie did at her age. In fact, she doesn’t really like wearing shoes most of the time, and even if she asks me to put them on her, she will usually take them back off.

She still nurses a lot. When she wants to nurse, she will start to smack her lips, which always cracks me up. Just tonight, she found something else worthy to smack her lips to: a brownie and ice cream.

She is starting to sprout a little more hair. She usually won’t let me touch it, but I put some ponytails in it while she was sleeping last night, just for fun. I also took the opportunity to paint her toenails with sparkly polish. She was pleasantly surprised with the toes when she woke up, but not so thrilled with the hairdo. That was undone in about five seconds.

I hope she doesn’t grow up too fast! I cherish the days that I will still be able to call her my baby.

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Life in Boise, Part 2: Visitors

Not even a month after we moved here, we were happy to have some family come to visit us! The first ones to come were Rick’s parents. The kids had not seen them in two years, but it didn’t take long before they warmed up and picked up where they’d left off. Epiphany hadn’t met them before, so I think they enjoyed meeting their third grandkid.

They were all spoiled all week long, with kite-flying, bubble-blowing, fishing, getting new bikes, doing a new craft each day, and getting lots and lots of attention. Antonio particularly loved playing with Grandpa Kenny, and Kyrie and Grandma Debbie liked to sit and crochet together.

We also went cherry picking with them! I have to admit, the cherries aren’t quite as good down here as they are in Spokane, but that didn’t stop us from stuffing our mouths with them. They were still pretty tasty.

The same day that Rick’s parents left, mine came! Well, technically they came very early the next morning, at about 2:00 am. They were only able to stay for the weekend, but we got in lots of swimming (our temperatures were hitting triple digits while they were here), went out to the Cracker Barrel (Daddy’s treat) and played games inside. It was a blast! I don’t really have a lot of pictures from their visit because it was short and we were busy having fun most of the time. I’m hoping they can come again in September, when I expect the weather to be cooler. We might even be able to take a trip to the zoo.

Okay, here’s one goofy picture from my family’s visit.

I miss them, but I’m so glad they were able to come and see us in our new home!

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Life in Boise, Part 1

Yes, I am alive. I should hang my head in shame for how long it’s taken me to write a new post, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll just write one now.

We’re settled in Boise now, enjoying the sun, heat, and new things to explore. I love summer, and Boise has pretty awesome summers. Yes, they get hot, but we have a swimming pool. And that makes summer all the better.

So far, we are really loving our apartment. We are so thankful to have found such a good fit for our family. I really like everything about it. Well, I could stand to not have to walk three flights of stairs to get inside, but I also tell myself that a little exercise is good for me (even when lugging a sleeping child and a bag of groceries inside). Hey, we all have to make sacrifices. The benefits greatly outweigh the inconveniences.

Our TV broke when we tried to move it, but that’s okay. Rick and I still like to watch shows on the computer. Our living room now just has bookshelves and a couch, and I don’t mind admitting that I really like it better than I ever liked having a big screen TV. Maybe someday when we can afford another big TV, we could have a theater room. Hahaha. Okay, that was fun to fantasize about. But really. That would be cool.

This is our living room.

We love going to the parks here. There is such a variety of beauty here that is wonderful to behold.

Rick’s work as a chaplain resident keeps him very busy, but we are all thankful for where God has placed him right now. It’s neat to see the way that God continues to use him and reveal the spiritual gifts that Rick has.

As for me, I love life here. But, it’s not without struggle. There’s still a lot that I need to do in order to plug myself into the community and find a good support system of local friends. Being a stay at home mom can be a lonely and isolating job. I love my kids; but these days, as joyous as they are, are not without hardships. Pray for me, that I will love my children as fully as I can, and that we can all live our lives abundantly in this new place that God has brought us.

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Our Weekend in Boise

I’ve been meaning to blog about our little trip to Boise last week. We had to drive down so that we could find a place to live, since we are moving there in only a couple weeks, so we loaded up the van with our suitcases, kids, plenty of snacks & drinks, and a full tank of gas. We headed out on Thursday afternoon right after Kyrie’s dance class got out. It got dark long before we got there.

It was way past midnight when we finally trudged up the stairs to our hotel room (a fancy Super 8—this was a budget trip), and we were relieved to fall into bed. The next morning, the house hunting began. It was nice to be in Boise, and everything was lovely, but the first full day there was kind of…miserable. Mostly because we’d spent seven hours the previous night driving there, and now we were spending several more hours driving around town, looking for “For Rent” signs, and finding very few. The prices of many of the homes were beginning to discourage us, as well as the condition of the homes that were within our price range. We finally stopped by an apartment complex which had looked nice online, and it looked equally nice in person. It was our glimmer of hope in the middle of a lot of discouragement.

The next day was Saturday, which we decided to mostly spend enjoying the town. Downtown Boise is a very walkable area—they even have a market every Saturday, but it had already packed up and closed by the time we got there, so we didn’t get to experience it this time (though I can attest that it’s pretty cool, since we did walk through it last August when we were there).

People seem to LOVE their bikes in Boise. It almost made me wish I had one, along with a trailer for Epiphany, and a couple little bikes for Antonio and Kyrie, but realistically, I’d probably have a heart attack trying to keep track of all my kids while riding a bike myself. Oh well, it sounds fun in theory.

We also explored the Capitol and St. John’s Catholic Cathedral downtown. The former had beautiful acoustics. How I would have loved to play violin alongside Keisha on her harp in the middle of that building. We did sing.

The stained glass inside St. John’s was gorgeous. I wish that pictures could have done it true justice, but I tried my best.

I forgot to mention that earlier in the day, we stopped by the Boise Co-op, which is a really neat store, especially if you are really into natural and eco-friendly products (including groceries, cleaning products, etc.—I even saw some cloth diapers for sale there). We got some delicious gelato there.

Meanwhile, we hadn’t found any new prospects for a new home. So we decided to put in an application at Fairview Crossing, the apartment complex mentioned above. We both felt like it was our best and most affordable option based on our family’s needs. We knew that our credit history and rental history would help us out, but since a Chaplain Residency doesn’t pay oodles of money, we weren’t sure if they’d approve us based on our income.

On Sunday evening, the kids and I enjoyed a lovely walk along the Greenbelt, a long path that follows alongside the river, while Rick had drinks with his friend, Dr. Jutzy. It was a perfectly warm, sunny Sunday evening. We followed the path all the way to a great park with a huge playground and sandbox that the kids loved.

On Monday morning, we got a call from Fairview Crossing saying that our application had been accepted! They still needed to write up our lease, so we spent some time at the Boise Aquarium with the kids before heading over to the apartment office to sign the lease.

On Tuesday morning, we drove back home to Spokane. Home for now, at least. In a couple weeks, Boise will be our new home. I feel mixed emotions about it. I am thankful that Rick will have a job in a field that he feels he is called to. I am thankful that Boise is a beautiful city. I am thankful for the time our family has been able to spend here in Spokane. It has been full of ups and downs, but they have made us wiser, stronger, and better. God has been with us through it all, and He’ll continue to be with us, wherever we go, and wherever He leads.

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