Monday, August 24, 2015

Summer Fun

the nerdy bunch
This has been one incredible summer! 
Suddenly it feels like it's over, but it's still August.
It's really not over, but the busy part at our house is. All our relatives and friends have gone home and the house seems a little empty.  We didn't stick around to feel it empty after everybody left, we all scattered and went camping. Steve and I took the tent trailer and headed out to the ocean. 
 We took our bikes and rode the ferry and toured an island that we had not seen before. We just rested and were just together. We didn't do anything super fancy, just enjoyed the sea breeze and the walking trails and rode our bikes. On our way home it struck me ~ it was the first time in 5 years that we could just be the two of us and the conversation did NOT center around the twins. That is progress. :-)
Vanessa took the twins on the Pathfinder Campout. It was my job to organize their menu... That was a big task, but I have three menus now for three different weekends. The kids really enjoyed this campout and they worked on their birding honor and a Bible honor.

Brianna and Christina talked some friends into climbing Mount Stuart. 
It was quite a hike... 
The elevation is 9,415 feet, and it is the second highest non-volcanic peak in the state. Christina had some trouble with fear of heights near the top... 
It took Brianna's step by step encouragement 
and the help of a stranger with her backpack for her to make it.  
BUT she conquered. 
And more importantly they were all safe.
The only regret was that Caleb was not there to do it with them.



check out the smoke in our valley.



Mount Stuart
The next adventure on Christina's bucket list is Glacier Peak.
The date is set and there are men who know the mountain going, so I am confident all will go well.

Speaking of smoke...
The whole state is on fire with little to no relief in sight.


My greenhouse is finished!!
I am thankful for so much help. My brother, Jason did a lot to help Steve get things done. The electrical wiring and thermostats, fans, doors, plastic, and even the dirt got done in record time with Jason and my mom and dad's help. So thankful. So glad to be planting seeds in it now.
We so enjoyed having all the family here this summer.
My brother and his wife from Africa with their three girls
my mom and dad from Tennessee
and my sister and her kids from the Yukon
plus friends from Vermont and North Carolina joined us.
It was busy and crowded
and we swam a lot
and ate a lot of garden melons and in-season fruit and 
worked and played together. 
Good memories.





cousins


big crowd, big food! Homemade vegan macaroni and cheese.

I have some fun pictures that were taken on Brianna's camera, but I'll have to save it for next time.

Steve's mom died last week.
She was a sweet lady all the way to the end.
We head to Canada for the memorial service soon.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

She PASSED!


I got a little message asking if Vanessa had passed the NCLEX.... and I realized I left some of you hanging.  She did! That girl was so incredibly sure that she had failed that she was pretty much trying to plan when she would have the time to re-study and take the test again. She was so relieved she cried every time the thought crossed her mind that she was indeed a full fledged R.N. all day!

Christina gets a bee in her bonnet every now and again to do something new, something big, something she has never attempted to do before. So, for the last 7 months she has trained and worked out and rallied friends and sisters to train and work out with her. The goal was the Chelanman, a sprint triathlon. Of all the friends and sisters who trained and worked out with her, only two were able to actually run the race for a lot of different reasons. Brianna and Anthony and Christina didn't just do it, they did it well! Brianna came in 4th in the 20-24 yr old women's category. She was actually 8 minutes ahead of Christina. She really swam fast - faster than she realized. Christina placed 3rd in the 17-19 women's category. Biking is not her thing. BUT she she can RUN. Anthony placed 3rd in the youth division. It was a really fun day. Very inspiring.  It was a revelation to me to see 70 year old grandmas out there, a man missing a leg, people who are heavy, a lady in the last stages of cancer... What is your excuse to not accomplishing your dreams? Cause really, there are no excuses.

A huge opportunity has opened up for Christina. She is 17. She is pretty close to being done her AS degree at the college and she wants to go to pre-med. The universities that she has looked at were not too excited about accepting her yet, at her age. They want them older, more mature in pre-med school. She thought to take a year out and go to a mission somewhere in Africa and get a feel for medical work in some hospital or clinic. Again, age was a factor in the rejection letters... She tried to get a shadowing opportunity at the hospital her dad works at and it was again a no-go. She was offered a job at the hospital that would have been a great fit until they learned her age and once again that was a road block. But this girl never gives up on her dreams. She heard of a doctor and family in Idaho that trains medical missionaries... She contacted them and to make a long story short, after we visited with the family and learned all that the opportunity entailed she was given a week to think about whether she could handle the responsibilities that come with the position. She didn't need any time to think, really. It is a little overwhelming, but she takes that as a challenge. She was accepted and will begin September 7.  Her duties include homeschooling the doctor's children. The youngest ones, anyway... for the mornings and working in the clinic in the afternoons. She has a place to stay with a kind elderly lady and is getting paid to work. She will be trained in all areas of the clinic and the free clinic that is run for financially hard up families and learning to educate people in healthful lifestyle. She will learn everything from drawing blood to giving health lectures. We are thrilled. This year will be the year she decides if she is cut out to be a doctor or not. She already has an acceptance letter from the Southern University in Tennessee for next year, but we won't put the cart before the horse. This year will be a learning opportunity like none she would find at a university. We are thankful. And thankful that she will only be 4 hours from here and can come home often. There is a stretch of foggy, icy road in the winter between here and there, though, so we won't bank on certain weekends, for sure.






Vanessa is at Young Disciple Camp. She is a counselor loving all her little campers (10 girls age 9-11!) and a young assistant that she is mentoring. She's a great big sister and she knows how to handle children well, but 10 is a lot. :-) She is also teaching first aid with a lot of help from her friends. She is a bit stressed and lacks appetite completely, but texted me this morning that she was able to eat a breakfast burrito today.



Brianna is off to cart veggies fro the garden to Youth For Jesus. She loves showing up and seeing her friends from last year when she was a speaker for the Michigan YFJ.

I've had a rough migraine...  BUT my brother and family from Africa, that we have not seen in a few years is arriving this evening so I need to stop laying around and get busy! We are so very excited.


I'll just leave you with this thought:


~"More than enough GRACE" ~
I loved that the moment I read it. It was paired with the incredibly too familiar, disparaging little phrase, "Not enough" - (You know that insidious little line that endeavors to invade and suck the life dry? ~ “Not enough strength, not enough talent, not good enough, not thin enough, not beautiful enough, not enough brains, not enough money, not enough energy, not enough….” And here was the antidote.

~The disease of not enough
is CURED when you give THANKS
for more than enough GRACE.
~Ann Vonskamp

Grace is a daughter cleaning an elderly church couple’s house when I should have been.
Grace is the other daughter standing by to comfort as I hunched over the bowl on the bathroom floor when I was suppose to be digging leeks and packaging herbs for her produce order.
Grace is my husband’s hand reaching for mine after he is utterly exhausted and spent from caring for patient after patient all day.
Grace is the boy learning empathy and asking, “Is your migraine better yet, mom?”
Grace is the cool breeze fluttering the sheets in the night after a stifling hot day.
Our God is good. How grateful are we for the grace extended us Through HIM day after day? . . . because HIS grace is the only thing that is ever enough.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Are We Having Fun Yet?


This summer is hot. Hot as blazes. It started early and June was a record breaker. There's no hope of a break either. We are on high alert for fire and already our town has lost 28 homes and 4 businesses in a fast and furious wildfire. Things are tinder dry. Gardening is a challenge as nothing is on schedule. We rotor-tilled a good portion of the main garden this morning as we've already harvested most of it and it is time to replant. We do everything early in the morning or late at night. The middle of the day is a bust.
the cabbage patch kid, Isaac.

Today Vanessa took her NCLEX exam, which is the State nursing exam. We'll know the results in a day or two. The test cut off at exactly 75 questions which made her feel better than if it had gone all the way to 265, but there is no way to actually know how she did because it felt hard, hard, hard! But she studied hard and trusted the Lord to bring to her memory all that she had learned.
Vanessa's Nursing Pinning ceremony

Today I found out on facebook that Oscar and Pieter's mom is pregnant. No, nothing has changed. The boys were adopted by their great-grandparents.... She's still doing drugs. She is still going from man to man. That poor baby!!

Lake Wenatchee

Things are good with the other four kiddos and we still have them over every weekend. They like church and they enjoy our Sabbath afternoon adventures.  Their dad now has full custody and there is a certain amount of security for the oldest kids to know there's no going back to chaos. Mom is in jail. She still calls me.

Ancient Lakes

We had a lovely trip to Mt. Rainier. We camped in a forest and enjoyed the mountain both in fog and mists and on a clear and stellar day!


Mt Rainier is gorgeous and the flowers are amazing!!

 Caleb is trying to organize a trip to the peak next summer. We shall see what comes of that.

After we left Rainer and headed for Oregon, though we began to have car trouble. The car stalled in Portland in the middle of the interstate in the middle of rush hour! It would not start until it had cooled for a half hour... We got to the side and it stalled again and again and again ... all evening long as we sought help. It looked very much like we would be sleeping in the camper in the middle of the city as we could not get much help and we could not go anywhere. We actually had permission from Fred Meyer to let us camp in their parking lot. We prayed and the Lord answered in very clear ways. It was quite obvious even to the kids as the events unfolded. Finally, we just prayed that the Lord would start our car and keep us going all the next 90 miles to our destination. We needed to be at the campground for Light Bearer's campmeeting and we were wasting time in Portland. It was a miracle. The car did not stall again that night! We arrived at midnight and set up as quietly as we could and were in bed by at least 1AM.  The meetings were wonderful. We were so blessed by the study of the entire book of Hebrews.


We did get some help with the car and changed some parts and we thought our car was fixed. However, on our trip home we started stalling all over the place again..... And we did what we do and ate.  The first breakdown we ate watermelon. The next breakdown we set up our camp stove and made hotdogs. Each stall took an hour or more to cool the car... We stalled over and over and over as we crept home. It took hours!! The higher the temperature rose the more the suburban stalled. The further North we drove the hotter it got.

It was starting to feel a little rough by midnight....  it was SO HOT!!  and we were making advance by 20 miles at a time. We dragged ourselves into the parking lot of a rest area just before the mountain pass and let the engine cool for a couple hours. Finally, the temps started dropping and the cool mountain air assisted us. We finally rolled into our driveway at 2 am. Little did we know we had started a trend that was getting us to bed later and later....

BUT our troubles seemed to be miniscule in compared to what was happening at home.
not my photo... taken from facebook.





The kids wasted no time getting to work making a fire  buffer around the house as best as they could.

carting off the dry grass.




Our valley is grey with smoke but it does not smell strong and it doesn't bother the lungs. We are at risk all summer long.

Last Friday Steve decided to take Caleb and some of our other young people hiking in  the Enchantments. I decided to join the crew. I shouldn't have. I totally slowed them down. It's quite a hike and it is a good thing we did not take James.

Here's what I wrote directly after.

So stiff and sore! But we saw thirty of these mountain goats on our unbelievable, sort of disastrous, journey. Probably half of them were kids! Number thirty was an old goat asleep on our trail and we had to rudely awaken him to get him to move a couple feet off the path so we could pass. I would not want to come in contact with his horns for sure.



He wasn't the only one we rudely awakened. Some guys sleeping in hammocks had to guide us out of their campsite and back to the trail after we became disoriented.  They were kind fellows, but certainly they were glad to be done with our wanderings around their hammocks. 



Some lessons learned on this hike? Don't take your old mom (me) hiking on hikes longer than 10 miles when there is a LOT of extreme knee exertion. My nephew Isaac at 12 years old is an amazing trooper! Hiked at the front of the pack all day and second on the trail all night without one single word of complaint! When I complimented him on that fact at the end of it all he said, "well, I did complain a couple times!" I had to explain that saying you are tired is not complaining! This kid is incredibly strong and resilient. 

We learned that Brianna can sing All night! She was chipper and never let on that her knees were done many hours ago. Nephew Caleb is as patient and caring as he is strong. He showed unselfishness in giving away his first aid supplies to a woman who sprained her knee terribly, but more than that he stuck by his old aunt through that long dreadful night down the mountain when I could barely move my knees and and my feet were on fire barely crawling along. He even gave me his light. He and I sort of got lost at the end but we made it! Alyssa, bless her heart, was strong and courageous though her knees were so pained she wanted to just crawl off the trail and sleep till morning...she is so sore this today and she might reconsider going any Ford excursions from here on out! Steve and I are proud of these kids. We'll try not to put them in such trying circumstances again.?  We got home at 5:30 AM after collecting the other car and driving home with toothpicks to prop our eyelids open. 

As we crawled in the car at the trail's end and turned on the ignition, the clock said: 3:41 AM. Alyssa said, "HEY!! Do you know what number that is in the hymnal? That is To God Be The Glory!" We sang it with as much enthusiasm as our exhausted bodies could muster. God knows we are grateful!



Are we having fun yet?


(For specs on this loop trail check out : https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Enchantments and look under hiking. We hiked up to 7,800 feet .)