Wednesday, March 30, 2011

New pIctures

You can head over to our new Picasa site (the link is in the post below) and see pictures of all we've been up to this month. I will admit that most of the pictures have already been posted on our blog, but there might be a few new ones!

I can't believe that we are wrapping up 2 months in this apartment already! The kids have been missing our house a lot, especially our nice street and the path where they could ride their bikes for hours and hours. There really isn't a great place for them to play out here unless we are with them, and until the thermometer starts inching closer to 60, I really don't have much desire to be out there with them! Thankfully their daddy doesn't mind the cold. Darin and I really haven't talked about our house at all. The other night I did have myself a little cry while I laid in bed, just thinking about different things in our house and how it was our HOME. This is just a temporary resting place until we get on a big plane and head overseas. Then we will be in another temporary home, albeit a much bigger and awesomer resting place than this, but are we ever going to feel at home again? (and yes, I know that this world is not our home, and while I do need to be keeping that at the forefront of my mind more often, there are many other people who have written much more eloquent posts about this very topic. I should know. I read a lot of blogs.)

We will be heading for Minnesota on Friday and spending just over a week there. We'll be getting back home on the 10th. The next day will be April 11, exactly 2 months before we leave. Wow! In some way these last 2 months have gone by so slowly and in other ways they have just flown. I am guessing that our last 2 months in the states are going to go by a lot faster as we have already been putting lots of get togethers on the calendar, as well as a few good-bye parties : ( That's the part I'm not really ready to think about, but soon enough I'll have to. I can't stay in denial forever, and if I did, I know I'd miss out on some really beautiful moments.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Videos and Pictures

Oops, I need to add some links for where you can find out pictures and videos. We started a new Picasa account (to go along with a new blog!), so you can see the pictures of Jori's field trip here and check out some recent videos here. I will have links to both of these on our new blog. I am just not quite ready to make the switch!

Jori's 3rd field trip-Pell's Greenhouse!

On Wednesday, Grandma Karen took Jori on her 3rd class field trip. I went with her to an apple orchard this fall and Darin took her to the fire station. It was a cold day for a field trip, but thankfully it was nice and warm in the greenhouse. I won't be able to give you too much information on the pictures because I wasn't there, and when I ask Jori she says "It's a flower" or some other vague statement : )

I will put up the rest of the pictures in Picasa. Thankfully Grandma Karen took a lot! Jori got to plant a flower all by herself and take it home. She is so proud of it and likes to talk to it and wants to water it all the time. We shall see how long this flower survives...

Jori did say that they saw lots of flowers, and that there were big hoses that almost sprayed the kids! She loves going on field trips and it was extra special that Grandma was here to go on this one with her!

Grandma Karen's visit

We just had a wonderful visit with Grandma Karen. She and her friend Heidi came up from Edgerton on Saturday and left again on Wednesday evening. Grandma Van drove up with them, but she stayed in Kalamazoo with Darin's aunt and uncle. Thankfully we'll get to see her in less than 2 weeks when we head to Edgerton ourselves.

We packed a lot of fun into a few days, and of course, I did not take very many pictures! I'll have my camera charged and ready to go when we are in Edgerton. Right after they arrived on Saturday we headed out to Tyson's Bible Club carnival. Our family had already been to his school carnival that morning, so it was special that Grandma could come along for carnival #2. The kids got to play a lot of games and we all had some yummy snacks. We headed home around 4, stopped for some groceries, had pizza, then the adults headed to our church to watch a performance of the musical, "The Boyfriend". It was fun seeing so many familiar faces from church up on stage strutting their stuff. Heidi's brother in law was in the play and his hair was hilarious. Wish I had a picture, but just imagine a crazy conductor with hair sticking out all over his head. Good times.

Sunday we headed to church, then the kids both enjoyed a day of playing with Grandma Karen. I think I read most of the day and I don't know what Darin did : ) Jori loved having Grandma color with her and read books and Tyson and Grandma had lots of fun with Legos! I think they went outside for a while too. Sunday night we headed back to church, then it was bed time for the kids and time for the rest of us to watch The Amazing Race and Undercover Boss. On Monday Grandma took the kids to school, which is always so special for them. Then we headed to the mall until it was time to get Jori from school, then it was off to Rachel's for lunch. I know that Rachel is already sad knowing that Karen won't be heading to Michigan to visit with us as they have also become friends. There is just something really special about that! After lunch and getting little Reid down for a nap, Rachel and I left the kids with Grandma and headed out to get me some new glasses! I had tried (unsuccessfully) to pick out new frames on my own, but this time Rachel was along to tell me what looked good. I quickly found out she was no help : ) I am only half kidding, and she knows it. We tried to pick something out at Goodwill Optical, but we were both clueless, so we headed to WalMart. The lady who helped us was great. She was quick to say "No" when she didn't like how something looked on me. Finally we figured out that due to my small head size I needed to be looking in the "youth" section. It was fun to be out without any kids and actually accomplish something that I needed to get done! We headed back to Rachel's and hung out til Tyson walked over there from school, then we headed back home for French Toast. I think Heidi and Karen were both happy to be introduced to our fancy dinner!

Tuesday morning we went to Signatures for coffee. Always a nice treat. Then Karen took lunch over to Tyson at school. He convinced Grandma that he not only needed the McDonald's she brought, but also needed to have hot lunch : ) He took Grandma back to his classroom and she was able to sit in on a discussion about tornadoes and even told the kids about a tornado that hit close to Edgerton several years ago. So fun for Tyson to have those special memories. He was very proud to have a guest at lunch and kept poking kids to get their attention then pointing at his Grandma as if to say "check out who's sitting with me!". Love it. After Karen got back from that, we headed out to the mall again and found some cute outfits for all the girls to wear for some pictures that will be taken when we are in Edgerton. We headed back in time to get Tyson off the bus, then hung out til dinner time. Once the kids were in bed, Rachel came over and hung out while we watched "The Biggest Loser" and ate ice cream. A perfect combination!

On Wednesday morning, I had Bible Study. Grandma walked Tyson to the bus stop, then dropped me off at church and headed off with Jori for a field trip! They went to a greenhouse. I will do a separate post with pictures about that fun adventure. Wednesday afternoon we went out to Jimmy John's for lunch (yum!), then came back home and had Jori try on a bunch of clothes. Once Tyson was home, I finally took a few pictures and some videos. I know, total slacker.
The kids chose the stuff they wanted to have in this picture.
3 elephants in a row-Jori, Grandma and Tyson

Then we headed to Holland to have dinner at Crazy Horse for Grandma's birthday. It was special to be able to celebrate her day with her. After dinner, she and Heidi took off to pick up Grandma Van and we headed home. Right when we got in the van the kids both said "I miss Grandma already". It was wonderful to remind them that we will get to see Grandma again in 10 days, but also bittersweet knowing that we have lots of goodbyes coming up! Can't dwell on the sad part of it.

We had a wonderful time together. Thank you, Grandma, for making the trip out to see us. We love you and are excited to see you in less than 2 weeks!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cheddar Chicken Bites

Last night I tried out a new recipe. This was the first time in a long time that Darin said "You could make that again sometime". Based on those words from my husband,Tyson giving it two thumbs up and Jori actually finishing the serving we put on her plate with minimal complaints, I declare this recipe a keeper.

Cheddar Chicken Bites

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups (3 oz) Cheez-It cheddar crackers
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/4 pound chicken tenders
1/2 cup Dijon mustard

1. Put rack in lower 1/3 of oven; preheat to 475. Brush a baking pan with olive oil.
2. Pulse crackers in a food processor. Transfer to a bowl and stir in pepper.
3. Toss tenders in mustard then dredge it in crumbs.
4. Arrange on oiled pan. Bake, turning once, until golden brown, 15 minutes.

As always, I made a few changes. I used Meijer brand crackers, and we all know Cheez-Its are better. They just are. These were ok for baking, but plain-yuck! I didn't measure the crackers or the mustard or the chicken for that matter and it all turned out just fine. Just make what you need for your family. We ended up baking these for closer to 20 minutes. Flip them over carefully so the coating doesn't come off the chicken. We had these with salad and Darin and I both added some of the chicken to our salad and it was pretty good. The kids liked dipping them in ranch dressing. The Dijon mustard is a little spicy, but I think plain mustard would taste gross. Maybe you could make them with honey mustard.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Up and Down, Up and Down

I feel like I am on a roller coaster these days. Life is good, even great for a while. I feel happy, at peace, ready for what the future holds and then BAM! Just like that I am down again. For the past couple days I've felt things shifting and sensed that the downward spiral was about to begin. Today I am feeling it in full. I have a pretty good hunch that my mood swings are tied to the calendar, and not for the reason you are probably thinking. This has less to do with my cycle and more to do with the dates on the calendar. Today is March 9. In two days it will be the 11th, which means that we will have exactly 3 months left here in the states. My mind has latched on to that fact and can't seem to let go of it.

It probably doesn't help that I decided to sort through our spare room today. Darin's mom is coming in a couple weeks and then the week after that we are heading out to Minnesota to spend time with the whole family, so I really need to make some final decisions about what we want to store and what we'll be getting rid of. This afternoon I was sorting through a box of stuff I've been saving for the kids-pictures, baby books, progress reports from school, papers and projects, special toys... It just made me sad. So I moved on to another box of stuff and that made me sad too.

I feel like I am on this tightrope, trying to balance the excitement of going with the heartache of leaving. It is exciting to be moving to South Africa (just ask anyone!). Yesterday Jori and I looked through pictures from 2008 and I felt myself wanting to be back there, with the people we met and the new things we saw and did. I remembered why Darin and I wanted to go back in the first place. Then Jori says "I miss our old house. I miss how it smells and I miss my room" and my heart aches and I want to have our old life back. I don't want to be that person that is moving in three months. I want to be signing Jori up for kindergarten and figuring out which Vacation Bible Schools the kids can go to, and volunteering to help at Arts Camp with my friends.

I am hoping that once the 11th comes and goes, things will be on the upswing and these sad feelings will go away for a few weeks. I guess I'll soon find out!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

All is well here in Hudsonville. March 1 has rolled around, which means I need to start working in our spare room. That is probably why I am sitting here at the computer instead. Procrastination is the name of the game. I did just have to share a few pictures from last week and then I promise to go in the spare room and at least move a few piles around.

Lately the kids have been getting up earlier than usual, like right around 6 in the morning. Little bodies can only handle so many early mornings before they crash. And when their bodies decide to crash, it can happen anywhere.
Sleeping Beauty
Sweet Jori was playing in her room and I realized I hadn't heard her in a while. I went to check on her and found her sleeping on our full length mirror. We still haven't been able to figure out why she was on the mirror in the first place, but whatever she was doing ended up in a little nap!

On Saturday, Darin headed outside with the kids to play in the snow. I am so thankful that he is enjoys being with the kids and doing fun things with them. I was enjoying some quiet time inside until I was called out to look at what had kept them all so busy.
Hiding out in their snow tunnels
Darin was very sore after digging a tunnel for each kid. He even put in a little passageway so they could pass things back and forth. Sadly it snowed more during the night and when we headed to church Sunday morning, we could no longer see the holes as the snow plows had come through and piled more snow on top of them. It was fun while it lasted and I am pretty sure Tyson and Jori could encourage their daddy to go out and build them each a new tunnel this weekend : )

Guess I'd better get to work, although the package of Double Stuf Oreos in the kitchen is calling my name...