First week of summer

First week of Summer 2014 is in the books.  I think it could be called the “Woa–we have all this extra time on our hands, what do we with ourselves?!” week.

ImageWe enjoyed an early Father’s Day dinner at Sonic.  We only go here about once a year (though their milkshake menu tempts me to go more).  There is something fun about eating in the back of the van.  We had just come from Costco hence the giant bottles of detergent.

ImageGot to love the grilled cheese sandwiches.


And the hot dogs too!


On Saturday we had a small army of men from our church in our house.  Since we moved into our house I have despised the carpet in the eating area.  It seemed to get more disgusting with time.  The red velvet cake stain would not come out, the cat peed in the corner, the kids tracked mud in this winter–I hate the carpet.  If I were to give any advice to pastor wives out there living in parsonages I would say the following 1) Show love to your Building & Grounds 2)  Advocate for your families’ needs in a kind and gracious way.  Gentle reminders are good, but don’t be pushy.  3)  Be patient.

ImageAnd hooray–hardwood floor.  Someone asked, “Did you cry when they ripped out the carpet?”  I said, “No I cried when we had the carpet.”  The guys did an amazing job and we felt incredibly cared for as friends and a pastor’s family.


We celebrated the start of summer by going to the drive-in with friends.  I LOVE drive-ins.  I have always had a thing for them.


The kids love them too!

ImageYesterday we celebrated Father’s Day…


I have to say that we are loving the down time.  I still cannot gauge if this one needs a nap or not.  I don’t think she can either.  I, myself, don’t take naps anymore except on Sundays…I can’t during the school year as I am working.  I think I took two naps last week mostly because I could.  My rule for when I take a nap–“Don’t wake me up unless–” The kids: “Someone is bleeding.”  The kids have been keeping busy playing baseball in the backyard, picking raspberries, playing Lego Friends and regular legos, coloring, and riding bikes.  We went to the library and the mall last week, but mostly we have enjoyed being home.



Start of summer…


Summer is officially here.  On Monday the kids woke up at 6 AM…exactly 1 hour EARLIER (not later) than when they wake up during the school year.  By 8:30 AM they were asking, “What are we doing today?”  I said, “This is summer.  I don’t plan everything.  You need to find your own things to do.”  After a little bit of anxious thinking that went something like this: “I craved summer.  I wanted a low key schedule.  I wanted time off.  Now I am getting stressed already,”  I realized the kids would settle into a summer routine…and they have.

They have been playing school, riding bikes, climbing trees, coloring, reading books, making up their own games, and more.

I made delicious strawberry milkshakes for them on Monday.  I just threw strawberries, vanilla ice cream, a splash of milk, and a few drops of vanilla in the blender…and they tasted amazing…and I don’t really care for strawberries.

Yesterday we signed up for summer reading and the husband took them for Slurpies in the afternoon.

Last night my oldest informed she has no summer pajamas.  And she said, “When can we go shopping?”  I said, “Tomorrow.”  And we can!  Because we don’t have much an agenda right now and it’s wonderful.


Kindergarten graduation

Today my little guy graduated from kindergarten.  The older I get the more emotional I get in public sentimental settings.  Don’t get me wrong–I am a VERY feelings oriented emotional person.  But I don’t cry at movies or church services or anything in a large public setting…rarely.  I did get very choked up when I heard all the little voices singing “In Christ Alone.”  Truly amazing.  The joy of the Lord in each of their little hearts is beautiful.

My son was one of six kindergarten graduates.  He learned and grew a significant amount in only one year.  He had perfect attendance which is amazing for kindergarten…and our first year doing in home child care.  We had several bugs and colds go through this house, but he steered clear.  He made new friends.  I can tell that his buddies will always be important to him.  He is my extroverted talkative little guy whose smile is contagious.  



My husband had to be in St. Louis last week and this week to work on his doctoral studies.  Originally I was very bummed he would miss my son’s special day.  I asked Derek if there was another adult he wanted to invite to his graduation.  Both our parents live quite a ways away and we have no siblings close by either.  “Our second family” that goes to our church also happened to be away this week on vacation.  He asked our church secretary to come.  He often goes over there on Thursdays to get candy and sometimes deliver mail or pick up copies.  She has been like an adopted grandma to my kids.  So of course she came bearing gifts.  


My son has been asking lately about my kindergarten graduation and when I was his age.  He even wanted me to pull out some of my elementary school yearbooks.  They are somewhere buried in the attic, but I told him I would look for them this weekend.  This is a picture of my kindergarten graduation in 1983.  I look quite similar to him!


We celebrated the start of summer by picking strawberries.  For some reason that I don’t understand I don’t like strawberries and I never have…even as a child.  I love picking them.  I enjoy making things for the kids with them.  They were so sweet and juicy and I did eat a couple.  So maybe I finally breaking away from my strawberry distaste.



It is an awesome feeling to know our schedule is SO much lighter now with no school or child care (I opted not to do summer child care).  It’s a little overwhelming.  I want to use our time wisely and ENJOY our summer together.  My kids are growing so fast before my eyes and we’re living in the times when we are all together–no one is running off to part time jobs, sports practices, or out with girlfriends or boyfriends on a Friday night yet.  


Ten years ago…

I think it happens to me late May/early June every year.  I get a little sad.


Ten years ago,  2004 we were loaded up a U Haul barely fitting everything in (we joked it was like playing Tetris) and left our home in Fruitport, Michigan.  I had a job as a youth director there from May of 2000 until June of 2004.  My husband and I lived in a house next door to the church from May 2001 until we left.  In some ways this move was harder than our move to Oregon in August of 2006. (We lived in Gary, Indiana from June of 2004 until June of 2005, Muskegon, Michigan the summer of 2005, and Grand Rapids, Michigan September 2005 until August of 2006.)

I felt like God was calling me into youth ministry when I was in my teens–“a kid in youth ministry myself.”  Although I went through some difficult years as a pastor’s kid that made me question actually working for a church, God blessed me that first year with an amazing group of kids I loved.  As I went through my first year of ministry, I kept feeling God’s peace.  I expected chaos and conflict, but I was blessed with the opposite.  I am not saying everything that first year or the next three were easy.  There were difficult times, heartbreaking moments, times I made mistakes, and days I questioned my calling.  There were times I was exhausted and felt inadequate.  Yet I cried almost every single night our last week in Fruitport and it was like mourning the death of a friend.

I did not talk it very much until later…it seems like it came out at all the wrong times…but I was not just mourning our church, but youth ministry in general.  I knew it was very unlikely I would do youth ministry as a job for a very long time…if ever…and I would do some new thing for work.  So I searched for that thing.

When we left in 2004 and the years that followed, I quickly tried to fill that hole of missing youth ministry with something else.  I thought I would go into early childhood education. After a brief stint of working in a day care, I felt like a door was closing.  I thought about becoming a veterinary technician because I love animals.  After a couple classes, it just wasn’t me.  I had to move on.  When a friend of mine asked me a couple weeks ago, “If you could do anything for a job, what would you want you to do?”  I honestly don’t know.  I don’t have an answer right now.  In some ways not much has changed in ten years.

Don’t get me wrong–I’ve had some good jobs.  Jobs I love.  I love my news writing job.  I love interviewing people.  I love writing.  My world has opened as I see God working in places like inner city Seattle, rural Minnesota and the suburbs in between.  I do enjoy child care.  It has worked absolutely perfect with our schedule, the kids are sweet, I can stay home with my own kids, and I think I need a house with more chaos than serene.  There are always kids here, art projects on the table, toys in the backyard, and laughter–I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I have done youth ministry as a volunteer for many years.  I do enjoy it.  I love the kids as much as I loved my Fruitport kids.  But it’s different.  And it was an adjustment to be on staff versus a volunteer.  For one youth ministry is a small compartment of my life and I cannot give it the attention to the degree I wish I could.  I have very little time to read youth ministry books, go to conferences, meet with other youth leaders, visit schools, go to sports games, and take kids out for ice cream.  Those are some of the things I enjoyed  in Fruitport and I can’t do those things here because of my demands as a stay-at-home mom, my kid’s schedules, child care, writing, and other responsibilities.

When the kids are in school all day and a few years has passed–I have a feeling our lives will be different.  I may be doing “that new thing”  even though I have no clue right now what it is.  Maybe it’s paid youth ministry.  Maybe it isn’t  Maybe it’s not much different than what I am doing now.  Maybe it’s something I never dreamed of doing.

But whatever it is, I am grateful for the four years of youth ministry I had.  And I am grateful for the ten years of doing odd jobs, writing, child care and being a stay-at-home mom.  I don’t know tomorrow will bring, but I can know God has a plan for me.

Garden Update: Failures and Successes Thus Far

Cauliflower = Fail!  I tried to grow it in little containers in the house.  Due to not filling up the containers the whole way with soil, not enough light, or just plain inexperience–they sprouted a little and then died a short fast death.  I am out of cauliflower seeds so no cauliflower for us this season.

Pepper = Second try.  I tried to grow it in little containers and again did not fill it up the whole way.  I don’t think it got enough light.  I thought I would try once more.Image

Corn = Planted on Memorial Day.  We’ve always had success with it except last year when the husband put me in charge of planting it and I completely forgot.


Beets = Planted on Memorial Day.  I don’t even know if I like beets and not sure who will even eat them if they actually grow. Do you eat them raw? 

Zucchini = Pretty easy to grow and coming in already. I still do have last year’s in my freezer.  Should probably make some muffins or bread sometime soon.


Snow Peas = Also easy to grow.  You just need a fence for them to wrap around.  Not sure I put the fence in correctly.


Lettuce = I think it’s sprouted but it good be weeds.  Pulled a pesty blackberry root out of the lettuce patch.

Cucumber = Pretty sure it’s sprouted.  We grew them a couple summers ago and they are fairly easy.  But unfortunately no one was quite as excited about cucumber sandwiches as I was.


Carrots =  Planted and no sign of them yet.  They are a root and take a bit of a time.  We’ve always successfully grown lots of carrots.

Broccoli = Somehow lots of weeds grew in the broccoli patch at the time of planting.  I don’t know what is broccoli and what is weeds.  I google imaged it and think I figured it out and I hope I am correct.


Tomatoes = We’ve always purchased tomato plants.  This year I am trying to grow my own.  So far they are coming in fine.  Maybe when they are transferred to the garden, it will be another story.  I am hopeful.


The husband is also growing herbs and I have no idea which herbs are what.  


The middle child is growing a sunflower out of a can with a face on it he named “Harry Harry.”  Harry Harry used to have grass growing out of it for a kindergarten project and unfortunately we forgot to water it and Harry Harry lost all his hair.  Now he will have a sunflower growing out of his head instead.  


The youngest child helped plant a fairy garden which is similar to last year’s–although we won’t forget to water it this time.  


This beautiful flower was a gift from one of my child care kids.  Her mom took her shopping and asked what kinds of plants I like.  I had to laugh when she said, “Amy likes vegetables.”


Gardening has been a lot of fun so far this spring.


Garden makeover

ImageThis is what my garden looked like last week.  Notice the two shrubs in the back and the blackberry patch on the right.  And after some major work this past weekend this is my garden now…

ImageI ripped out the shrubs and all the blackberry bushes. It was hours of work and I got so incredibly dirty.  And my arms have battle marks from the blackberry thorns.  But our garden looks so much like a spring garden should. So far I’ve planted zucchini, snow peas, broccoli, carrots, cucumber, lettuce, and my husband planted “onion starters” we got from a friend.


I filled the yard waste container several times.


I am growing tomato plants, cauliflower, and peppers in the house. This is my little greenhouse corner.


The cauliflower has already sprouted…


The kids painted rocks to make a garden path…we painted some of the stakes too.

ImageI’m officially addicted to gardening…and I love it!





My garden 2014

When we  first moved to Oregon we agreed we wanted a garden.  The previous pastor had one so there was space already that could be cultivated into a vegetable garden.  We knew very little about growing anything.  The husband was eager to learn and did the majority if not all of the work for the first few years.  It’s safe to say I did very little, if any.


Our garden 2008

I would pick tomatoes once they grew and dig up carrots.  But weeding, watering, planting–I did not do any of it.  I was often pregnant in the summers, in school, or chasing toddlers.  It was hard to sit and weed–sometimes hard to sit and do anything for any prolonged period of time.


Our garden 2009

So two years ago the husband contemplated having a garden.  The kids and I begged him to plant one.  He emphasized about six times as we were buying seeds, “This is not MY garden.  It’s OUR garden.  We’re ALL doing the work.”


Our garden 2011

We agreed we would not let the garden fall on him.  He would plant.  But we would weed and water.  And for the most part we did.


Our garden 2012

And I discovered how much I like gardening.  It is relaxing to pull weeds.  It is refreshing to clear out a space of brush and see dark brown soil ready to plant.  I love checking the progress of our vegetables.  I would come home from a morning run and stare at my garden for a few minutes like a farmer stares at his fields.  


Our garden 2013 with the funny looking sunflower we never planted that grew on the edge of the flowerbox

So this year the husband is busily working on his doctorate.  He doesn’t have a lot of time.  So now I am the head gardener.  I still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing.  Yesterday I planted zucchini, snow peas, sunflowers, and broccoli–all which we have grown before without assistance from the husband.  I have cauliflower and sweet peppers growing in the house in little planter pots (which I’ve never done before) to be planted in 7-8 weeks in the garden.  I am planting carrots soon.  Corn and tomato plants will be planted Memorial Day Weekend.  I really hope there’s room for everything.  Maybe I really should get rid of the blackberry bushes?  The husband’s response: “Hmmm this is going to be an interesting garden this year.”

My garden 2014And all I can say is I’m so glad I planted yesterday.  Because today has been non-stop rain with zero sun.  I don’t think it is going to change much until Sunday.  I’m excited to see how my garden does this summer.