The ramblings of a woman,
wife, & mother, who loves:
Jesus / my man / the three,
learning about parenting /
mamahood / childbirth,
cooking foods healthy /
international / yummy,
pretending to garden /
write / design,
attempting to run /
exercise / lift weights,
enjoying traveling /
camping / adventures,
finding ways to love /
serve / sacrifice for others.

It is not to say she does these things
with style or grace, or even skill.


Reflections on Our First Big Adventure

August 31, 2014 - 10:24 AM

We made it. Late on a Saturday night, we made it home. Tears of joy upon seeing our home. Tears of joy from the surprise sweet signs of "Welcome Home!" and food for dinner and breakfast in our fridge brought by dear friends. Lots of tears.

I never thought we'd see this home again. I mentally prepared to either die or end up settling down in a new home along our journey. But we returned. Almost 11 months to the day I got the bright idea to leave town and my husband said, "Yes." After almost 1.5 years of insanity, I had been pulled out of the seemingly never-ending funnel.  


Our time in CA was far from perfect, there were ridiculous things that happened I can't even write about, but thanks to it all I could talk to God again. I know that may sound weird to some but when I think about where my life was headed before Jesus entered my life and how it was forever changed by the love of God... goodness, I am forever, deeply thankful for His never stopping love while I was spinning out of control.

Our time in CA helped me to see clearly through the bad advice I had been given, both past and present, and it also helped me see all the bad advice I had given over the years. Since our CA return, I have been on a quest to individually apologize to dear, old friends that I know I hurt, judged, mislead, etc, because I was/am an idiot, ignorant, and misguided. It has been a painful process and I am so thankful for the grace and forgiveness they have shown me so far. 

I am three years into doing this and I still need to come face to face with a few more people. I am reminded of the Seinfeld when a guy is doing his 12 step AA program and didn't apologize to George, though George thought he was owed an apology. If I owe you an apology and I don't do it, please tell me. I take full responsibility. I am certain I hurt more people than I realize. I would love to make things right.

Our time in CA was genuinely a time for our family to heal. Kids can tell when their parents are going through struggles and it impacts them emotionally, too. Because we spend so much time together, our kids are scarily perceptive of my emotions specifically. They usually join forces and take great pains to ease my load and encourage me. It is truly humbling yet a blessing to have your children minister to your soul. Thanks to our bonding time out west and back, we were once again closer in our relationships to one another, especially for Josh and the kids spending extended time together. And Josh and I were able to were able to think and talk through things as "just us." We were now ready to begin the process of finding a place for our family to fit in, helping our children find kids to grow with, helping us meet new people, and figuring out how we can be a part of our community.

Our time in CA left me my heaviest I've ever been. That was unfortunate. It wouldn't be until after Thanksgiving that I finally started back at the gym doing fitness classes, attempting to run, and getting my 30 Day Shred on. Carving out time to get back in shape was restorative thanks to the beauty of the positive influence of exercise induced endorphins, as well as, that I was able to listen to my favorite podcast, where, it seemed at the time, each one was catered to build upon things I had been learning throughout the previous months.

We had made it. We were all prepared to tackle the new challenges life would throw at us with renewed hearts and minds. We were all excited to see where our next big adventure would take us. We were not dead, yet. 


The Days All Blend Together Now

August 28, 2014 - 6:11 AM

Our return trip was a no-frills-push-for-home built around my husband's work schedule. The first day was a Wednesday so we didn't start driving until after 3pm PST. He took phone calls off on Thursday since we would be in no man's land, but still worked while I drove. Friday, he made calls and worked in the morning while I drove and then we scheduled an early stop so he could work from the hotel for the rest of the day. Saturday, we made the long stretch for home.

Travel Log: 10 November 2011

Second Stop: Grand Junction, CO

Total driving time: 12 hours, 751 miles (Plus, add an hour for time zone.)

When we were first laying out our return trip I proposed to Josh several options, all of which DID NOT include driving on the lonliest highway, Highway 50. Subconsciously, I was trying to avoid it and Josh was quick to point that out. He convinced me I would enjoy it the second time and wo/man, was he right! Maybe it was the intense traffic I drove through to get from Reno to SF, but once we got onto Highway 50, I immediately felt relaxed and fell in love. It was a complete 180 for me, going from depressed to utter joy. The road I loathed was now my most favorite road in the world. I couldn't stop exclaiming, "You were right! I love this road!"

highway 50


At one point a cop car came barreling down the highway, sirens blarring, and told us to pull as far over to the right, off the road, as we could because there was a WIDE load coming. We did so and within 15 minutes, well exceeding the 85mph speed limit mind you, were two more cop cars, a pickup truck, and a flat bed truck hauling a massive mining dump truck that was as wide as both lanes of the highway, followed by two more cop cars. What a sight! Aside from the freshly fallen snow on the 17 mountain passes in Nevada and thin scattering of snow across the red sandstone buttes and mesas of Utah, our drive was completely uneventful.


Once to Grand Junction we stayed at the biggest dive of a hotel. A place that, I am sure, in its hey-day was a fine establishment. Now after 50 years, the majority of which allowed smoking and pets without care, time had taken its toll. We've stayed in many a choice hotels and this one ranked up there, but as long as there are no bugs, I will sleep anywhere. In CJ we also learned that one city's 4.5-star establishment on Yelp is another city's 2-star establishment. Our only guess was that the hundred people who commented on this place had no tastebuds. However, it did have a nice and cheap wine selection and I can completely understand if that pulled them to the top.  

Travel Log: 11 November 2011

Third Stop: Denver, CO

Total Driving Time: 4 hours, 243 miles

While we still were in love with the beauty that is driving on the west side of the Rockies, we were on a mission (from God, ha!) to get my husband to an office space and get these wiggly kids to a hotel pool, where they would play, for the next 6 hours straight. Whoa. 


Travel Log: 12 November 2011

Fourth Stop: Home

Total Driving Time: 12 hours, 748 miles (Plus, add an hour for time zone.)

In all the years I have driven this drive, I have never been as happy to see our home state. Crossing the border brought tears to 8/10 of our eyes. We were home. We did not die. 

Complete drive: 34 hours, 2000 miles

By the time I did the final math, we had driven 5,900 miles over the course of our first big adventure. :)!


The Worst Birthday Ever / Driving Home

August 27, 2014 - 9:27 AM

Our time in California was over. It was time to hit the road and return home.

Travel Log: 9 November 2011

First Stop: Reno, Nevada

This day, her 7th birthday, has continued to be our daughter's deemed, "Worst Birthday Ever." She calls it the worst because family and friends weren't with her on this day. Truth be told, we made it as fun as possible! She got a delicious chocolate cake with a requested purple butterfly on top, she got a cute new outfit and Lalaloopsy, she got to go roller skating, eat pizza for lunch, and ended it by swimming at a hotel pool. 





But it didn't have family, oh!, how she missed them like crazy. What she would've given to have her grandparents and cousins there! Poor girl! And it just so happened that our first day of driving back to home was this day, there was no getting out of that one. Stuck in a massive rush hour traffic jam on your birthday? Poor girl! Thankfully, even for all the negative, she still went to bed with a smile on her face. I consider that a win! :)!

First Day of Driving: 6 hours, 250 miles (Yep, should have been 4 hours without traffic.) 


Taking Kids to Wine Country

August 26, 2014 - 1:06 PM

The French Laundry is a world renowned restaurant, ranked one of the top 50 restaurants in the world, and is located in Napa Valley in the city of Yontville. The last day Josh was attending the Web 2.0 Conference in downtown San Francisco, one of our employees had mentioned the French Laundry. Having previously worked as a chef before working for us, he told a story of how his friend worked as a newbie chef at the French Laundry for a period of time. (I also heard that the newbie chefs who work at the French Laundry don't get paid. The experience is their payment. Crazy!)

Shortly after having this conversation with our employee, Josh walked out onto the city streets of downtown SF. As he walked down the sidewalk, a large piece of worn paper caught his eye, he picked it up and read, "The French Laundry... October... 2009." And of all things, when Josh talked to our employee again he learned that was the time his friend worked there. The crazy coincidence of having a conversation about the French Laundry, finding a two year old restaurant menu on a city street, and knowing a person who worked there during that time frame baffled us. But, it also made a trip to Napa imminent.  


For our last weekend in the bay area we decided that taking our kids to Napa was a perfect idea. Napa isn't necessarily a kid friendly place, but our kids are great about going along for the ride and we tried to make it enjoyable for them and us. We found an amazing restaurant for lunch (best salad ever!), a fun park to get some wiggles out at, a castle vineyard (complete with portcullis, sheep, chickens, and draw bridge), a 125 year old winery (and learned about old winemaking techniques), and ended the day at a delicious tasting room that gave huge pours (that even offered grape juice, crackers, and chocolate for the kids).





The above photo I found online, but imagine this space PACKED with people, Josh and I standing to the far left with our children huddled/hidden between us eating mounds of crackers and chocolate. 

By the time we left Napa, me having a hilarious tipsy text conversation with my friend, driving through an insane traffic jam, and crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, it was late and we were starving. We ended up visiting a hip and modern Thai place in downtown SF that, with its 9pm on a Friday night dining crowd, felt like a discoteche restaurant. Once again, the kids loved it and it was the perfect cap to a very posh day in our normally low maintenance lives.

To contrast, the next day my sister, sister-in-law, and I went to a massive flea market in Alameda (on the same location Mythbusters does their car experiments!). From antiques to handmade tables to curious characters wearing full fur suits with top hats and canes, this place was a stark opposite from Napa. For all my talk of being alone, we truly weren't. Having my sister and family nearby was so much fun, and we did meet genuine people at church, and we had a family of old friends that lived nearby and our boys loved swimming with, etc. This wonderful day; however, closed out our last weekend in the area.


Our time in California was over. We had been away from our home for over 5 weeks. We were packing and mentally psyching ourselves for getting back to "normal" but with a twist. Our adventure out west taught us that we could create a "new normal," a new reality for our family. We had successfully taught our children on the road, my husband could work remotely like our employees did, our business was successful while my husband was physically out of town, we could manage bills and logistics, and we could find communities of people to interact with.

We were going home to a place of normal, a city we loved, a community of people we loved, but we now had the entire country as our playground, no longer confined to city limits or state lines.


Ocean Obsessed Weekenders

August 26, 2014 - 3:04 AM

Even though I had unknowingly confined us to the house throughout the week, our weekends were something else. 

beach day

father son

As I mentioned, our Sundays were usually biking, church, beach days. But what I failed to mention was the traffic. Copious amounts of traffic. Specifically, pumpkin-crazed traffic.

What you may not know is that Californians are crazy about their pumpkins.* We don't know what caused their pumpkin craze but what we did know is that the best road for us to access our beach/church was also the only road to access the pumpkin insanity. The highway from the interstate up and over the mountain to Half Moon Bay was only 7 miles long but the pumpkin traffic would stretch the entire distance, in both directions. 

"What pumpkins? Where?" you ask. Just east of the town of Half Moon Bay, on one side of the highway, is a skinny stretch of flat land made skinny by a steep hill on its far side. It may be only a half mile along this highway, but this stretch of land was filled with millions of pumpkins.* Not pumpkin patches, just pumpkins sitting on a grassy field. And it is also filled with blow-up houses and blow-up races and Santa Clause, and apples and apple pies, and tractors and photo ops and horses, and more pumpkins, and more blow -up items, and people, and their cars. We have no idea where all these people came from or why they loved coming to this amusement park of an area, but the entire spectacle disappeared the weekend after Halloween. Vanished. Everything was gone, most importantly the traffic, leaving the barren, trampled on earth was able to breathe again. 

What's odd is just south of Half Moon Bay there was an actual pumpkin patch, where people could cut their own pumpkins, and do you think that place garnered the same insanity? Nope.

But our Saturdays, oh, our Saturdays, were amazing field trips. The first weekend we visited the zoo in Oakland with some friends of ours from Sedona. Taking our kids to the zoo is like having your own audio tour. (That is, if you can keep up with them running excitedly from one exhibit to the next!) Even without reading the descriptions of animals, they can immediately identify the animals and tell a fun fact or two about each. While the zoo itself was nothing to blog about, it was a great place to spend the day with friends. The second weekend was going to the before mentioned tidal pool, seriously, a m a z i n g. Trying to spy as many different species as they could, trying to find a rare fish, it was amazing. Amazing. Best word to describe it.

The third weekend we would venture down the coast to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Here again, we were so envious of the opportunities available to those who live near by, middle school and high school students were able to volunteer at the aquarium for an unmatched experience. Because the aquarium is as much a research facility as an educational facility, there are countless hands on exhibits.

hands on

Hands on exhibit led by a high school student. 

Two of our favorite exhibits were the "Open Sea" and "The Jellies Experience." The Open Sea is a 1.2 million gallon tank that boasts the world's largest single paned windows and reaches 90 feet tall. Inside the tank are ocean sunfish, hammerhead sharks, blue fin tuna, a school of anchovies, and sea turtles. The ocean sunfish were the most spectacular to see in real life because this is the first captive group and because you simply could not get over their scale (even knowing the water makes them seem larger). 

mola mola

(Unfortunately, I can't access all my photos of this trip. Thanks, Fred, for uploading this!)

The Jellies Experience was partially finished upon our visit. It was mesmerizing to view these curious creatures with no bones, brains, blood, teeth, or fins and, at the same time, who are one of the most feared of sea creatures. The only decoration in the tanks are the jellies themselves. The solid color backdrops highlight their shapes, tentacles, colors, or lack of colors. 

sea nettle

(Thanks again, Fred!

From the zoo to tide pool to aquarium, our kids' science world was bursting from the seams. I did end up changing the focus of areas of study for our science lessons because the ocean was calling our names once again. We were hooked and new documentaries and books were to be experienced! I only wish we could have easily returned to these places to soak up more hands on knowledge.     

*Gross exaggerations, but close. :)!

OH! And speaking of Halloween! For the first time ever, I bought the kids costumes at Target because I was without sewing machine. They went as Cleopatra and her mummy guards. Pretty cute for cruddy pictures! :)!



Dream Makers

August 25, 2014 - 2:15 PM

Holy smokes. I tell you what. Best part of our entire trip, right here...


I love making our kids' dreams come true and this took the cake. He had been to the Gulf of Mexico, he got to touch a sea star at the aquarium, he found one along the bay, but this... seeing countless sea stars, in an active tide pool, in the ocean, was what dreams are made of! 


It may have been a typical foggy day, but during every single moment of it, our son's face was brighter than the sun. He was beside himself. Everywhere we looked was teeming with sea life: sea stars, hermit crabs, chitons, rare fish, sea kelp, anemones, urchins, etc. He ran from one place to the next, not wanting to miss anything but wanting to see everything.


These starburst anemones were our daughter's least favorite. She called them squishies. If they were exposed by the tide going out, they would squirt water if accidentally disturbed. 


We didn't go crazy touching all the sea stars, but I did let the kids each gently touch one once. (It was only later that we found out we were not supposed to touch them at all. Whoops! So sorry, we didn't know!)

sea star

As the tide went out, the sea stars that were sticking around fought to stay as submerged as their space allowed. This guy filled his crevice and had just enough water to survive until the tide came back.

It's a funny thing watching a child and their passions, you never know what is going to stick and how it will look later in life. Maybe they will be the next Yo-Yo Ma or maybe they will be like me and play cello for fourth grade only and call it good. Or maybe they are good at something but don't enjoy it. We had one child exceed at swimming but he simply did not enjoy it at all. Or maybe their passion for car engines could make them a mechanic, or a car collector, or just the person you call when you need help with an oil change. Or maybe their passion for art could make them an artist, or (as my older sister) a missionary, or simply an outlet they use to release stress. To have a child passionate about sea life, for over half of his short life, is one of those things that makes me wonder how it will play out.

Helping our children in their individual pursuits, from mountain biking to cooking to language learning to medium techniques to sewing to baking, etc, I am constantly watching and waiting at the ready. I don't want to stifle them by making them choose one thing. I want to give them the freedom to explore their entire world but I don't want to miss out on digging deeper into a subject that ignites them. Maybe it will be one of their hobbies in life or maybe they will discover a new prehistoric sea creature. Whatever path they choose, I couldn't be more proud of all of them and the inquisitive people they are while continuing to pray for where their lives are leading.


Rocking the Suburbs

August 19, 2014 - 4:33 AM

Do not get me wrong, our suburb's home was great! Just look at this perfect photo! We loved the huge spaces and rooms in the house. We loved how clean the house was. We were definitely spoiled living in this home, beyond measure or necessity. 


On the flip side, the neighbors did not care that we were a nice family and were taking good care to respect them. They did not want anyone renting the house, they were annoyed. If we were talking on our back deck, they were annoyed. If the kids were playing in the pool, they were annoyed. If my son drove his RC car on the driveway, they were annoyed. They were quick to make certain I knew it, too, even if it meant the 65 year old woman approaching me in her incredibly short, silk, leopard print robe at 2 in the afternoon to tell me what for. We had sadly found ourselves in a lose/lose situation and no matter of love or Iowa-nice could help us. They had nothing but contempt for us. 

"Normal" school was going great! Just look at this perfect photo! We were being faithful at doing everything I had reported we would do. We were going through all our required subjects. We were taking amazing Saturday trips to zoos and aquariums. Not to mention, we found a great church in a surf town where we would spend our Sundays.


On the flip side, it didn't dawn on me until we were there that the nearest park was a half hour drive away - and that's without traffic. We couldn't walk to anywhere or anything. If we left home after school we never returned until way past bedtime due to the insane traffic both ways. It sadly became that I inadvertently confined us to the house grounds throughout the week.

In addition, even though I was getting better, I was still trying to figure out how to buy foods without dairy. Most of the food I bought was from Trader Joe's and everything says "May contain milk." It was definitely a hit or miss. This made school more difficult and overall life more difficult.

But isn't this pool great! Just look at this perfect photo! Seriously, the heated pool was the greatest gift of this entire house. It was simply wonderful. The kids played in it every day after school and could even practice their swimming strokes. We are talking October and November, swimming in an outdoor HEATED pool - amazing!


On the flip side, you would think with a heated pool at my disposal, I, too, would have attempted to learn to swim or get in the water even, but I didn't. (I am simply not a fan of being in water.) As I mentioned before with all our changes, I had kept myself active with fitness classes, running, and spin classses for most of the year and, except for driving time, I had been keeping the kids and I walking everywhere on our trip. But living here was a challenge for me physically. Josh was doing great, as he was able to bike to amazing places from this location. But for me, running from our location was such that you couldn't run on the roads safely due to the one lane/two way roads, no sidewalk, continual tight curves and hidden intersections/driveways, and a guarantee that you will get lost. It also didn't help that I was actually alone a lot and then it causes me to become even more recluse and lack a desire to leave the house. After a month, I would only get "exercise" on weekend adventures and that wasn't much. Thanks to some poor eating choices and a lack of real exercise, I gained more weight than I wish to admit. 

But on that flip side, as I've said before, being "alone" while living in California, with only my best friend to talk to, and now without the bustle of a city and a lot of quiet, it was incredibly freeing. I am not saying this is a healthy way to sustain life, but because I had this feeling like I had lived for so many years under the watchful eye of others, I now had no one to report to, no one to judge me, and knew that all my decisions, good or bad, were mine to own. I love living in community with people but because I had been so entrenched in something, to finally be alone and breathe... *sigh*... that was a relaxing moment.

But on that flip side, when we finally returned to home, I cried tears of joy. I embraced my friendships and community so much more. I was able to appreciate everything and everyone with new life and love. What an important gift community is and I valued it so much more now because of my alone time! 

But isn't that simply life? Many sides to every situation. These fancy facades, those perfect photos, the Facebook posts - they all have something behind them, sometimes it is perfect and sometimes it is ugly. I could share more of those stories, you could share those stories. But when I remember that, "God works all things for good for those who love God and are called according to His good purpose," I have hope. I may not always know the exact "good" things will turn into but I trust that it is there, somewhere, because I do know who I have hope in.

OH! I almost forgot! So remember my story about ending up at a first state park and how "the aura felt like melancholy and infinite sadness and I could not shake a sense of weirdness?" Later, retelling the story to Josh, we found out that the state park beach was actually next to a private beach that allows nudity. And that said nudity is known to spill out onto the state park beach, in addition to some nude, not-meant-for-primetime PDA. Not that I'm against nude beaches, it's just not something I was prepared to expose my children to at that moment and I was so thankful we had left when we did. Phew! :)!



Welcome! I am glad you're here! If you are new and would like to get caught up on what's going on, check out these quick links to get you started:

About Me and This Blog...

Begin Our Adventures of Fall/Winter 2012 to CA, MN, CO
   Ladies Trip to Napa Valley
   My Parents Rode in a Plane!

Begin Our Adventures of Summer 2012 to MN and CO
   Vacation to the North Shore and Cabin
   Boulder for the Summer
   Life in Boulder

Begin Our Adventures of Winter/Spring 2012 to UT
   The Drive to CO/UT Begins
   Vacation in Moab
   Living in Moab / Denver

Begin Our Adventures of Fall/Winter 2011 to CA
   The Drive to CA Begins
   Living in the SF
   Living in the Suburbs
   Coming Home to IC

Begin Our Adventures of Summer 2010 to Eastern Europe
   Life at Czech English Camp
   Travels in Germany & Austria
   Travels in Czech & Poland


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