Family Vacation 2016

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Our big vacation as a family this summer was a trip to Minnesota, prompted by my cousin’s wedding. We headed to Duluth for the wedding and used the opportunity to stay with Hans’ cousin and family. They have four boys and our boys had a blast playing with their second cousins, which was wonderful since they stayed behind while we went to the wedding! The wedding was nice, other than the thunderstorm that cut power to the area for three hours during the reception… but the party continued and it was a nice wedding. Hans, my brother, and I even played a game by the light of the centerpiece during the reception, which was laughed at by my cousin and her new husband, who are big gamers.

Rocks in the lake

Lake Superior with our boys means we spend lots of time throwing rocks into the lake. It was fantastic.

After the wedding festivities were over, we took a few days to stay with our friends in Grand Marais, MN. We had a great time catching up with them and exploring the town. Then we made the two hour trip to Aurora and spent the rest of our trip at my parents’ house. My high school was having an all-class reunion, and we took advantage of the extra family-friendly events in town. Unfortunately the reunion part was disappointing, with really low attendance for the younger classes (I saw two others from my class of 68). But it was great being with family and playing lots and lots of board games.

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Yes, Elliot is riding a moose.

UntitledOne thing that is hard for me about living away from the hub of my extended family is being absent for big family get-togethers, so being able to be there for this one was refreshing. It was a little crazy with 10+ people in my parents’ house, but that made it fun, too.

Lion Caleb

Caleb showing off his lion face, from the family time in the park for the all class reunion. He was pretty excited about becoming a lion!

Staying Connected through (Un)ending Travel

Lately, it seems like there’s always a trip or two in the works, and another that I’ve just finished up. I recently counted up my travel with InterVarsity over the past year, and this is what I’ve come up with:

  1. July 1-14 – Chapter Planting Cohort training in Madison, followed up with visits to ministry partners and family in Iowa and Ohio.
  2. October 2-4 – Fall Conference #1 – Big Bay, MI
  3. October 19-20 – UP Team Spiritual Retreat – Little Lake, MI
  4. October 30-November 1 – Fall Conference #2 – Wisconsin Dells, WI
  5. December 7-10 – Regional Staff Conference – Green Lake, WI
  6. December 26-January 1 – Urbana – St. Louis, MO
  7. March 15-17 – Bible Speaker Training – Grand Rapids, MI
  8. March 20-22 – Campus Visits to LSSU and NMU – Sault Ste. Marie and Marquette, MI
  9. April 14-22 – Visiting ministry partners in the Twin Cities and the Chapter Planters Retreat – San Diego, CA
  10. April 30-May 13 – Chapter Focus Week – Cedarville, MI
  11. June 5-9 – Regional Staff Conference – River Falls, WI

Adding in a couple of trips visiting family, I’ve spent over two months away from home this year. Yikes! Read More…

One year as a family of four

Last month, our little guy turned one. It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year, but when I think back on the past year it’s easy to see that a lot happened.

Birthday pancakes!

One of my favorite parts about becoming a family of four is watching the bond develop between Caleb and Elliot. They laugh together (and at each other) a lot. Elliot smiles biggest and squeals loudest for Caleb – we don’t get such high approval ratings from him. And Caleb takes care of Elliot and watches out for him. It makes me happy to see how they interact, and to envision what their friendship will be like in 10, 20, 30 years.

I saw a glimpse of their bond this afternoon when we were out shopping. We’d spent the morning at the Treehouse (an indoor playground) and Elliot fell asleep in the minute it took to drive to the store. He stayed asleep as we walked inside, and Caleb requested to sit in one of the side-by-side child seat carts. Elliot stayed asleep the whole time we were in the store, and for half of it Caleb had his arm wrapped around Elliot’s shoulders. Before Elliot joined our family I had no idea how brotherly love would melt my heart.

It’s not likely we’ll stay a family of four for very much longer. Last week we submitted our application for foster care – starting the process to get a foster care license. We’ve been thinking about adopting for years, and until recently had planned to start seriously thinking about it in a few more years, when our boys were bigger. But when Hans was at Urbana last December (and I watched some of the conference online), God used Michelle Higgins’ talk to prod us to action. Her statement that there are 100,000 children in foster care available for adoption, and 300,000 (protestant) churches really hit home.

Although we do hope to adopt someday, our plan has now shifted from adoption to foster care, and the extra uncertainty that it brings is looming ahead. But I am excited to get started, and look forward to having more kids join our home. I hope and pray that we can form strong attachments with the kids that come to us, and with their parents. And even though it will be hard, I trust that God will work.

Fall is a busy time!

The last few months have gone the way they tend to in the fall… entirely too fast! It is hard to believe that November is here already (especially since the weather this week was in the mid-60s!) and that the fall semester is over half finished.

We’ve been keeping busy – enjoying the beautiful fall weather, spending time with new neighbors, making pear and apple sauce, filling our house with students, hosting Sarah (our planting coach with InterVarsity) for a visit, two fall conferences, garden and yard work, hosting our parents, and seeing our kids grow right in front of our eyes.

With all of the activity, I think a photo update will be more interesting than reading my account of these activities. Enjoy!

Happy 4th Birthday, Caleb!

Caleb turned four in August. He’s such a big boy and has embraced his role as a big brother!

Painting trim

Our old house has gotten more updates this fall – and the trim on this window now matches the rest of the house. We’ve removed more trees from the yard, painted a little more in the kitchen, and are halfway through adding more insulation in the attic. (Hopefully it will be done in a few days!)

Big boy!

These days Elliot is sitting up unsupported, cut his bottom two front teeth, is eating solid foods, and giggles (often with Caleb) all through the day.

Making pear sauce

Our pear tree gave us a ton of pears, and we made 20 quarts of pear sauce this fall!

Ridiculous-looking pear tree

The pear tree got a makeover when it was time to harvest the pears, since it had been allowed to grow waaaaay too tall. It looks ridiculous right now, but we’re hoping it will grow well so we can remove the really tall part next year.

Sunset

When Sarah, our planting coach, came to visit, she spent a lot of time on campus with Hans – meeting students, learning about Michigan Tech, and helping with an interactive gospel display. We also showed her the Keweenaw, and went up to Brockway to watch the sunset.

Merry-go-round!

October had wonderful weather, and one Sunday it was in the 70s. We enjoyed a picnic after church and spent time playing at the park.

Halloween - a mailman and a little envelope!

Halloween seemed to last forever this year – our little mailman dressed up four times for Halloween events. (Thankfully only one of those gave much candy.) Elliot went to Safehouse at Michigan Tech as an envelope. (pictured)

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