Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Moving Day

Even though I'm sore in places that don't make sense, and my toe is the color of a ripe plum, I feel compelled to document the beginning of the end of this journey.
For even on it's first day it was FULL!

Timing:
I find it ironic that we assumed our escrow would close on November 15th.
This was an unconfirmed assumption as our renter's signed a lease on April 13th and we had to wait for them to be in our old house for 6 months.  That put our START of escrow at October 13th....with a 30 day close.
Blah, blah, real estate details.
As our timeline drew to a close we (er....I) pushed for a 15 day escrow hoping to close on November 5th.
As usual there were MORE than enough hiccups to get us to where we were this week....closing on November 16th.  Amazing:  

No matter how HARD I tried to 'make it happen' faster.....
Those keys did not get into my hands until the appointed time.
So yesterday, November 16, 2010- 
The Weiners went home.

hee hee.
Prep:
 Natalia and I picked up our keys, garage door openers and a little box from Tiffany & Co., from the nice salesperson.  I was surprised by the pretty blue and white bundle, but I reminded myself that we DID make quite a big purchase here.  So thank you very much Standard Pacific!   That little candy dish may be the only thing I ever get from Tiffany's!   Ha.

Then I spent the next 3 hours on my knees wiping Tile Sealer onto every eligible surface in our new home.
Let's just say that the little bottle I purchased was supposed to cover 1,000 square feet.  And I wouldn't have complained a bit about the entire process....except that I backed into the corner of a wall and jammed the second toe on my left foot.  Sprained or broken, I was not about to let it hamper this moving process!
So puffy and bruised we finished the job and settled back at my parents while those fumes aired out.
The deliveries begin:
 Today we headed back to the house to welcome our belongings.  With Jarrod still out of town for work it was just myself and one dear set of friends.  Little did I know how hard the three of us were about to work.
Our first POD finally arrived at the very last minutes of their 3 hour delivery window.   Apparently our new development is hard to find.  We spent about an hour unloading the first quarter....maybe even half of that POD when our second POD showed up.  It was about that time that we were told both PODS weren't going to fit in our driveway and that our city has an ordinance where they cannot be stored in the street.
The blessings abound:
Thankfully the driver gave us a little leeway and we kicked it in high gear.  Can I tell you that we unloaded the rest of that POD in less than 20 minutes?  I felt like we were being filmed for a reality show.  It was totally a race against time to undo this 8ft square of boxes row after jam packed row!  We didn't bring it into the house, but everything made it into the garage.  And as long as I wasn't running things up and down the stairs......my little blue toe didn't throb as much!   I am just so thankful to my dear friend Cheri who was there today and who convinced her hubby that this would be a good idea ;)  I tear up thinking about how much they helped today.  Amazing!

She even stuck around and unloaded my entire kitchen!  Another friend, Barb showed up for the evening round and helped me sort through a few boxes and wrap my head around all the decor.  On an earlier note, my mom took Merrick to his dentist appointment and then spent the rest of the day nursing my ailing daughter with chicken soup and vicks.

As you can see, I don't do anything alone.  And what a gift that has been.  Jarrod will be home tomorrow and I can't wait to see his face when he gets to the new house.  Tomorrow we'll unpack more boxes.  And I don't doubt that there will be more help to back me up!  What gifts!
stay tuned.....and until them sit back and enjoy the view.....

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The clock is ticking

It's about that time.  It's November after all.....and we're smack dab in the middle of escrow.
What an unnerving and wonderful place to be!

I've been so full of thoughts and unable to organize them enough to put them down here, but just know that the gratitude is flowing over here....BIG time.

Did I ever mention the 'discussion' that started off this journey back in March.....when Jarrod and I had a nice  hash-it-all-out fight.....and we both realized we weren't fighting each other, we were actually fighting for the SAME thing......we were just sick and tired of sitting stagnant...waiting.

We weren't even sure what we were waiting for anymore.  We just tend to take a LONG time making decisions! (Insert Barb's full agreement here)  And sometimes that's due to fear, and other times is just a lack of us making the effort to get on the same page.  Life has a funny way of getting REALLY busy.  Then one day you wake up and realize you're just going through the motions rather than asking God, "What's up?  Where are we headed?"  So we finally did, and the rest is looking kinda history-like.

But the goal was never to buy a brand stinking new house.  The goal was a change.  And an effort to put our heart's desire out there.  We hoped for a little more space in the kitchen.  I longed for a schoolroom.  But is any of that crucial for a faithful walk?   Nah.  But taking that step toward a goal and really relying on the Lord to provide each step along the way.....that was important.  And call it happenstance, but He has provided.  And how.

We can't wait to be settled.    And to pray about our NEXT leap of faith. 
But this week my ponderings are much more organizational.  

I stand and look at this kitchen and for the life of me, I can't figure out where to put the dishes, or the plates, or the coffee station.  Feel free to chime in here.  Near the dishwasher I suppose....
But do I want the dishes down low enough for the kids to help me unload them?
This is where my brain is lacking.....the Martha Stewart functionality is lost on me.

I remember moving into our first home and with all the renovation we needed to make, this was the one wall I painted that stayed the same for the remainder of our time in that house.
These were my squares.  It took us atleast 4 days to tape off and paint this one wall.
I absolutely loved it.  It was serene and it also represented one of our first married couple projects together.
I can't even fathom painting in the new house.  This time I'm more concerned with the functionality of the place.  Where to hang laundry.....how to set up the kid's rooms, if I have enough bath mats for all that tile.
Oh, don't get me wrong.  There will be paint, and LOTS of it!.......but I'm pacing myself.  I'd like to get in there and watch where the light falls during the day.  It all seems so non-urgent.  Well that and the paint is all fresh and new.  God knew what I could handle this time around.  How little I could devote to the BIG projects.  And how even though I asked for this much house.......I can picture Him smiling and saying, "Open up your arms wider dear one.  You have NO idea what's in store for you."

What more could a girl ask for?
(oh that's right, I'm still asking for your help in the kitchen....thanks ;)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Don't look down....

I'm gonna let you in on a little neurosis of mine...
well if you've been in a car with me for any length of time...then you already know what I'm talking about...especially if I was driving through a hilly stretch of road.
I have a fear of losing control.
ha ha.
No joke you say....
But this fear translates itself in SO many debilitating ways.
The one that has reared it's head in my life concerns my fear of speed and steep windy roads.

Going back to my childhood, I've never liked to go fast.  From the time I tried my hand at anything on wheels (a bike, roller skates, etc) I DID NOT enjoy the feel of going too quickly....I only wanted to know how to slow down.  Where is the brake?  How do I snowplow?  On skates I wore out the stopper in the front.  I did NOT like to feel out of control. It's a safety mechanism in all of us, but mine seemed to be on hyperdrive!

The other day I was driving with a friend to a field trip that involved  a HUGE hilly stretch.  We laughed as my grip tightened on the wheel and I asked her to turn up the hair blowing on my face.  I can't help that my palms get sweaty on that road.  It's just automatic.  And the entire time I try to talk myself down internally....."Get a grip"....."Loosen up"......."Shake it off"
Usually I can pray my way through it or concentrate on a song to make the time fly by....but this time everything seemed amplified as I was talking with my friend.  Don't get me wrong, this is usually all in my head.  On a bad day, if you were outside observing you might see me slow down and go all "Granny's driving" on you.  But for the most part this is an internal monologue that I just happened to bring my friend into.

The greatest thing was that instead of humoring me, she decided to talk me through it, and we actually got down to the heart of the problem.  She asked me, "What is it about these long curves that frightens you?"
"I just feel out of control, unless I slow down to like 40 miles an hour........I feel like the centrifugal force swings me out too far and I'm afraid of overcorrecting."  (No joke, these are my thoughts)
And the best part was she completely understood. 

Being an avid dirt bike rider she went on to explain how it's easy to feel out of control if you look at the road just in front of you.  "You need to look way ahead of you, keeping your eyes focused on your destination.  Your immediate path will remain in your peripheral, but you won't faulter on the little curves."  I tried to shift my focus and, what do you know?  It worked.  She said, "It's the funniest thing.  If I see a huge rock in the road when I'm on my bike, the worst thing I can do is concentrate on NOT hitting that rock.  If I don't focus on the bump in the road then I automatically go around it.  It's like your brain knows its there, and will compensate for that.  But if you stare at it, then you're trying to figure out how to handle it.  Our minds are much more powerful than we give them credit."

Since then I've had a MUCH easier time going down LONG stretches of hilly roads.  It feels like I've overcome a HUGE mental roadblock.  And the more I ruminated on this newfound skill, the more I've applied it to other parts of my life.

It's so easy to trip up on the rocks in the road if I keep staring at my feet.   But if I extend my gaze upwards, I take my trust off my own understanding and things fall in line naturally.  Does this mean I'll never trip and fall?  Nah, but in the absence of my fears the road is much smoother. Taking fear out of the equation levels the playing field a bit. 
I just have to let go and stop looking down.

What immediate situation do you need to stop concentrating on today?
Just look up.  Stop worrying about HOW you'll get there, and focus on the end game.  You will never have control over how the road bends, but you CAN control how you respond to the curves.

Just don't look down.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Don't Stop Believing....

For those of you keeping track, it's October....
and if you're reading this then you may know how significant that is in the Weiner family.....

October 15th is official GO-time for our escrow!
I'm so grateful for your faithful prayers and love (hosting us over for dinner/lending us your house, etc)
I love that so many of you sent me excited messages once the calendar turned to October 1st !!  Woo hoo!  We're getting close, and I'm all about having a great cheer squad behind us...especially as we're in fan mode rooting for the SF Giants in the playoffs!  But that's a WHOLE other post!!

That being said I have a confession (don't I always?)
My faith has been waivering.
Not in a bad way, but I just really haven't FELT like we're going to get this house.
Now I know that the Lord just wanted me to buck it up and get praying.
(I'm sure those weren't His exact words.... ;)
You see here I am trying to plan a baby shower for the day after Thanksgiving, and the ideal location of the shower is our new home...naturally.  I don't expect to have it decorated or be anything more than living out of boxes in it by then....but I'd just like to be able to decorate for the shower and prep casually the week before...rather than be crunched transporting everything to another location the day of...
That being said I have been all Eeyore-ish about our house...and the likely hood of the deal falling through.
To the point that I've kept a steady search of current rentals nearby.  If I've said it once, it bears repeating:
Oh ME of LITTLE FAITH!!!

That brings us to Sunday when our favorite person from the Sales office called to check in.  She congratulated me on the great news...(?) To which I told her I knew nothing.
She went on to explain that our loan was approved last week....even though my favorite (ahem) financial guy hadn't yet informed us!  So woo hoo and what the heck all ran through my mind at once.
But ultimately this was GREAT news!  (Could this really be happening?)

Then today- Confirmation.
My God sign.
It's totally in Hands bigger than mine.

The loan processor finally sent an email to Jarrod filled with extra information that we'll need upon closing the deal.One of the 10 bullet points casually mentions that they want to see a certain sum of money in our bank 'reserves.'  We're not talking hundreds but thousands of dollars that we just don't have, nor do we have access to....but Jarrod didn't stress, he just shook off all the questions and kept working until he got a call from me.

Here is where things get interesting. 
The reason for my call came with his paycheck.  I had opened the envelope to find two checks.  I was thrown off by the second check and called to ask if he was expecting it.  He laughed and asked how much it was for.....and wouldn't you know, the amount of the check covers 90% of what we need to have in reserves.  He was expecting a quarterly bonus, but this one is over double what he received last quarter-we're talking over a month's salary....completely unexpected.  But obviously not to God.

Apparently we're getting a new house folks.
And I better get on the ball and start believing it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

September Ends with Random thoughts

Sometimes I just think I need to post a couple thoughts...
be they coherent or not.
So here goes.

Random thought #1
I found this picture of a wallhanging we own.  I miss it.
Missing it made me realize that our November is going to feel like Christmas....because I get to unwrap things I haven't seen in over 6 months!
Double Christmas Bonus!!
How exciting is THAT?!?!
Random thought #2
Tonight I cooked up over 4 dozen sausages to take camping on a trip we won't be staying overnight....I'm bummed....but the REASON we can't stay the night is this:
We have GIANTS tickets!!!
So we'll be headed off to watch the Giants who will have by then either clenched the Western Division OR
will be very close.
We bought these tickets back at the beginning of summer having NO idea what a great year the Giants would have.
It's all very exciting.
I think we'll need to pick up a SF Giants cheerleader this time ;) 
Random Thought #3
While I was helping my sister shop for her baby registry it struck me that if I was a character in a
Disney cartoon, then I'd probably be shaped like this:
Ala, the wardrobe in Beauty in the Beast.  Gotta love those curves baby ;)
But really, I think it's a fantastically funky dresser though I'd NEVER buy it full price.
Random Thought #4
I need to catch myself on camera a bit more often. 
Not for the sake of narcissism....but because it might matter to someone one day.
That thought struck me during a convo with a friend.
As she is planning her mom's memorial, she realized that between nine siblings, they have less than a dozen pictures.
For Good or Bad mommas, we need to get in those shots.
We have a legacy we're leaving.  The unseen influences are obviously most important.....but a written/visual record can be just an meaningful.
And I don't care how old you are when your momma passes, you're always going to feel like an orphan.
So let's leave lots of amazing memories to help our own babies through it.
Sometimes I think my kids could pick out my grouchy/stern face in a lineup MUCH easier than they could my happy face.  Sigh**

And with that I wave goodbye to another month, and wake up another day closer to the rest of our lives.
Happy October ya'll!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Reservoir Reservations....

Today we had a moment where I doubted myself.
How much can you ask of your child when you're not able to do the same thing?
It was time for our Monday hike and off we drove to Lafayette Reservoir.
We met up with our hiking crew, chock full of experienced hikers all decked out with hydration packs and outdoorsy clothes. (Don't feel bad if you're lost, I had never even heard of
a hydration pack until last week ;)
Normally our group breaks into two hiking crews.....The Littles and the Bigs.
The Littles generally consist of the kids who are 4 and under, accompanied by their respective mommas.
The Big kid hike includes the rest of the group...those adults with the most hiking experience, as well as atleast 23 kids, ages 5 & up.  The group mostly consists of boys ages 6-12 who explore nature with gusto...as well as cheer each other on.

This marked the occasion of our second hike for the year. 
Last week, we lucked out and Jarrod was able to come along as he was working from home.
I was so thankful that he could 'break in' the boys and accompany them on the Big hike.
They ended up taking a 4 mile hike with about a 100 hundred foot climb.
That week the Littles took a perfectly leisurely 2 mile hike closer to the ground level.  Just my style...and perfect for breaking in Natalia (and me of course!)
This week we had the option to stay on a paved course that followed the edge of the Reservoir.
It's a path I'm very familiar with as I used to walk it a lot when the kids were small.  I haven't attempted it since Natalia has been able to walk.  It was great to go with a baby in a stroller, but not so much with an active toddler.  The paved path has a few big hills, but it's a steady, predictable walk. 
The Bigs were going off the pavement and up onto 'The Rim.'
I had no idea what to expect on their hike, but I knew that Natalia wouldn't last on a 5 mile trek.
She was however, having a terrible time splitting from 2 of her friends who are older than she is.....perfect motivation to try out the Big hike.
I say try out because I wasn't sure I could even do the 5 mile hike!
The 74 degree weather we were expecting was much closer to the low 80s...and I had foolishly only packed one water bottle for each of us.
A dear friend of mine and I decided it was worth the shot to set out with the Big hike and to plan on turning back if it got too hard.
Um, can I say that it started OUT hard?
Uphill from the beginning and completely exposed, much like the path here.....with a few more trees off to the side.  Natalia was a mess....crying about 15 minutes in....
and MAN, it is quite hard to motivate a little person when you're not feeling motivated yourself. 
I think I asked my friend if we could turn back atleast 3 times.......she kept telling me how funny I was.....I kept trying to stress that I was dying, NOT a laughing matter in my book!
We ended up finding a turn off that would lead down to the original paved road....after our 1 mile uphill detour....we were now set to finish our 2 mile walk around the reservoir.

My boys however were in for more adventure.
They were headed for the top of the rim...in the next photo, picture us down by the water....and they would be on the trail hidden way up in the top of the hills.....and it went UP and down, and UP and down for the entire time.
I will say that the boys seemed to do much better without me there, since Jarrod said they NEVER complained on the last hike, and this time they were all over me asking me to stop, or turn back, etc.  (and I was only with them for the FIRST mile!) 
The momma bear in me wondered if I had sent my baby boy to be tortured, not by the hiking leads, but by the terrible hills.  Since I knew I didn't have the endurance to climb more than a mile of those hills, how did I expect my 6 year old, only 9 months after his surgery to do so??
I prayed, and wondered, and prayed some more....hoping Merrick wasn't up there dragging or complaining, or just plain needing me.  Sweet Ian is a firstborn, I don't worry about him as much, I know he'll muddle through and complain later ;)

Eventually, I called one of the leaders to see how they were doing and they ended up meeting up with us at the park only an hour and a half or so after our own hike ended.
They made great time. 
And the leaders didn't hear a peep out of my boys. 
I was SO grateful, and I couldn't wait to see them.
Ian approached me first and told me about the shortcut that tacked on an additional mile to their trek. 
Merrick stopped off at a bathroom so I waited a bit longer to see him.
Even from 50 yards away I could see him trying to compose himself, his face twisting up as he bit his lip.
I thought, "Oh man, all did not go as easily as he had lead on." 
He burst into tears when he saw me.
It broke my heart.  He sobbed about how much he was hurting and how hard the hike had been, etc, etc.
I rubbed his fuzzy head and told him how proud I was....all the while fighting back my own tears.
I hadn't mentioned his ordeal to anyone yet because I didn't want him to have to 'wear' that as a sign, or to feel like he had an out to give up too easy.
But as tough as I may seem I melted with him as he let loose in my arms.  He was a bone-weary, boy with an achy leg.  Even after so many months he has so much more to go through to fully recover. 
Please pray with me that we know how hard to push him.  
We've talked so much about needing to 'break down' muscle in order to build them back stronger.  But it's not an easy process. 
And the Mommy Factor (you know the thing that made him burst into tears on seeing me...) gets in the way.
I have to be tough enough to help him, yet gentle enough to be able to comfort him when he needs it.
Today I let him cry and I told him we'll take each hike as it comes.
Most of them won't have those kinds of hills.
I don't want him to think it's ok to go on the Little's hike because he's scared.   
Isn't that a lesson for us all?
I may have reservations about my own abilities, but with someone who believes in me.......anything can be possible.
God heal us all from our disbelief!
and
may I be a backbone for them when they need to see Your strength, Lord.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Before the Morning

The other day, I met with a sweet, sweet momma of two boys.  Her oldest son was just diagnosed with an Osteoid Osteoma in his left femur.  I still can't believe the similarities between our stories.   Her son is 5, just going to turn 6 yrs old, as was Merrick at the time of his surgery.  His tumor is also in his leg...though the opposite leg than Merrick.  The Dr. guiding their recovery is the same Orthopaedic Specialist.  She is as worried about the MRI as I was.  Watching her hurt, broke my heart.  Talking to her brought back so much of the pain and uncertainty that we went through during the diagnosis process.

Thankfully, her son's tumor is also benign.....and it is also not constantly painful as Merrick's had become.  The location is different, being on the outside of his bone rather than directly inside as Merrick's was....
I really just can't understand why two boys in the same geographical area would have the same type of tumor, at the same age.  Of course it makes you think the problem could be environmental....and then I stop and go....Oh yeah, all of that aside, it points me back to God.

His plans are unfathomable and purposeful.  Even the ones that are meant for evil.  The plans that the enemy thinks will cause us to doubt and to falter.  Those are the plans that are meant for HIS glory.
I hold onto that.  Some would say that this is a crutch.  But if you know Sacrifice.  If you've SEEN firsthand, the daily mercy that is poured over a sorrowful, overwhelmed heart.  
Then you can't deny Love.

We were saved to nurture this baby back to health and to be there through his pain.  We were never meant to be able to take it away from him, as much as we might have prayed that.  The plan for Merrick's life was set out before time began.  And it is a glorious plan.  I rest in that.   I know the same is true for this little boy and his family.

You know how I am about song lyrics.
This one reminded me of this dear friend.
My heart aches with her. 
And while I tear us, I hold out for the Glory of it all.

God has never stopped working in her son's life.
Will you pray with me for little Ryan?  He has a tough road ahead of him.  If his parents choose surgery, it will mean the same bodycast/recovery period as we've gone through.  It's not something that can be rushed.  But as we all know, it IS a process with hope.
I finally think we can see the 'other side' of Merrick's ordeal.  He was still raring to go after a two days in a row of hiking. 

God please give this dear friend a glimpse of that horizon to get her through today:

Before the Morning
by Josh WilsonDo you wonder why you have to
Feel the things that hurt you
If there’s a God who loves you where is He now

Maybe there are things you can’t see
And all those things are happening
To bring a better ending

Someday somehow you’ll see you’ll see
Would you dare would you dare to believe
That you still have a reason to sing

Cause the pain that you’ve been feeling
It can’t compare to the joy that’s coming

So hold on you gotta wait for the light
Press on and just fight the good fight

Cause the pain that you’ve been feeling
It’s just the dark before the morning


My friend you know how this all ends
You know where you’re going
You just don’t know how you’ll get there
So say a prayer

And hold on cause there’s good for those who love God
But life is not a snapshot
It might take a little time but you’ll see the bigger picture

Once you feel the weight of glory
All your pain will fade to memory

It’s just the hurt before the healing
Oh the pain that you’ve been feeling
It’s just the dark before the morning


BTW- the story behind this song is amazing:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1ZQKzzyaJI

Friday, September 10, 2010

Patriot Day

This Saturday is Patriot Day....a National day of Remembrance for those killed on September 11th, 2001 as well as for those who have fought in the War against Terror ever since.
President Bush signed the bill into law asking for all flags to fly at half staff, and for everyone to observe a moment of silence at 8:46 A.M.

I remember that morning I was working for Heald, canvassing high school campuses and making contacts with faculty.  I was on my way to Freedom High School when I first heard the news.  At the time we only knew that there had been a terrible plane crash into one of the Twin Towers in NY.
The librarian I was meeting with had turned on the television and we both gasped in horror as we watched the second tower get hit and the towers eventually crumbled. 
It was as if time stood still and none of us really knew what to do or say next.
Scheduling a presentation at that moment seemed disrespectful to say the least.
I drove back to Heald in a fog....trying to process the magnitude of the current events, and wondering how anyone could be productive for the rest of the day.
Is that how you felt?  Did the explosions rock your world?
It was strange to be 'at work' and to watch the events unfold.

Now as I contemplate how to pass this information on to my children...I wonder.
What events will rock their world?  When will they reach a place that lacks security?
Jarrod and I had only been married for a year when America was attacked.  We had just purchased our first home.
In the next month, we had evidence that our solace was with each other.
We conceived Ian-Jacob during this turbulent time of not knowing WHAT the world was coming to....travel had stopped or was limited, somber stories of survivors were everywhere, everyone felt unsafe.
But in that time of uncertainty.....there was a baby boom.  I saw it with my own eyes.
At Heald, five families in our department alone ended up expecting kids, and our due dates were within weeks of each other.

I find such beauty in that fact.
That when we're scared we reach for each other. 
That God has not left us without companionship and hope.
Because without hope, how could we bring more people into an already crowded world that seems to be going mad?
Our God knows our hearts and what we need most.  What greater hope is there than in a child's eyes?
We were scared but never alone.
And that is what I hope to convey to our kids this weekend.  That once upon a time a very scary thing happened.  Yes, there is hate in this world because humans make very wrong choices.
We must strive toward our commonalities, not emphasize our differences.
And love, to always love, because Love covers over a multitude of sins.

And we'll celebrate the solidarity of our Freedom. 
The freedom that has come as such a great price, and that should NEVER be take for granted.

How will you remember?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Schools in!

Did you hear the bell?
Not that they ring at home ;)
We're also lacking lunchroom benches, hall passes, and desks to say the least....
But what we do have in abundance is a love for learning.
And for that I'm truly grateful!
We've been homeschooling since the 'beginning'....so this is our 4th school year...and I have to say, it just gets better and better.
We do have a few traditions that we like to keep...
A happy breakfast (we tried out peanut butter pancakes), new school supplies and outfits, etc.
Marmar even chimed in with special cookies as a First day of School treat:
But mainly this year is different because I now have 3
pupils in my charge.  With Natalia starting 'Kindergarten,' all three of our kiddos are official.
I may not be able to relate to having to drop off my kids into another's care, but I, like every other momma out there...feel the tick of the clock as each year passes. 

*For more details on our first week, check in with our family blog at ourmagnificentobsession.blogspot.com

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It makes me giggle....

....when I have to bob and weave to navigate around our current bedroom/living room/office.
....that all 3 of my children are sharing one half of a closet, yet no one is running around naked.
.....when I reach back to stretch and accidently bump my hubby's foot while he's asleep.
.....that I haven't missed the rest of my shoe collection, or really anything we've had packed away for the last 4 months.
.....when I hear our kids ask Marmar to play poker, or chess, or rummy for the 5th time today. 
....when the kids roll out a homemade tortilla, and they are better at it than I have EVER been.
...that I've only made dinner half a dozen times during our stay with Papi and Marmar.
....that I keep collecting books for school when I haven't a square foot to spare.
...as I think of all the fab people who have helped us along this journey.
.....that our wait could culminate in claiming this little slice of roominess:
I think that makes all the giggling worth it ;)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Feels like the home stretch...

It's after midnight on Wednesday morning, August 18th....so I guess it's fitting to say good morning.
Though I'm body weary from a long, full day....I'm also excited in so many ways.

So much has happened and so much is resting on the horizon, ready to peak around the corner at us.  It's a tad mindboggling, really.
I don't mean to be cryptic, but I almost don't know where to start.
I'll just reiterate what you already know, this has been a long journey...though not as long as some have taken.....and it seems we may be nearing the finish line.
To that I say Woo Hoo!

We started off this journey 4 months ago, not knowing WHERE the Lord wanted to take us, only that He was ready to 'move' us.  So we obeyed, and soon we had wonderful tenants living in our very first home, and we were moving our things into my parent's home.  We went on to view dozens of homes, make numerous offers and be turned down more times than we could imagine.  Now, mind you...we are still NOT SURE where exactly the Lord was calling us....either in location or in service.  We just knew we needed to press on.  If the doors continued to open up for us to buy a second home, then so be it...otherwise, maybe we were meant to rent another home and pay off debt before we entered the market again.  Our second step was a bit hazy......and at times the road has caused us to wonder WHERE to go next.

But we never doubted there would be somewhere else to go.  It was just not time for us see HOW to get there.  In the meantime, we met with wise counselors, financial gurus, and other trusted advisors, all seemingly heaven sent to give us wisdom.
We've never felt unprepared for the 'next' step. 
So when we walked into the sales office and toured a newly constructed home, I wasn't totally surprised at how perfect the situation was for us.
The size of the home, the design and upgrades on this finished house, the lot, everything seemed just right.
So we jumped on board and waited to see if we qualified.
If we could get a brand new house for the same mortgage as buying an existing home that was NOT move-in ready....well why wouldn't we?
That was almost a month ago now and we've been in constant communication with the sales office and financial gurus for this company. 
We've been told 'maybe' more times than we can count.
Jumped through paperwork hoops like some eager gymnasts.
Our hardest thing to accept was the lack of a solid answer....yes or no.
So we waited, and explored all our options, and waited some more.
The entire time being told that this one home, which had already been built, was still being held for us.
Still, we lacked confirmation whether this deal was even possible.

In the meantime, we took a quick roadtrip to Oregon, and didn't talk about this house for over 5 days.
We came back with a solid peace and a few final decisions to make before we gave up altogether and started exploring nearby rental properties.

In the back of my head I wondered where and if I should begin school with the kids if we might be moving in a matter of weeks.
Still we pressed on.
Then yesterday we were given the call we had been waiting for....The hundred-thousand dollar question...
would you accept this rate....you have 4 hours to decide.

We fell on our faces praying for wisdom.  
Actually, we were on the phone with each other praying....me while pounding a flank steak into submission, and he while driving home from work.
We were confident that this was the deal with which we should move forward.
Then today we signed the contracts to get the ball rolling.
We are now looking at a mid-fall, move-in date.
It all seems surreal.....practically anti-climactic.
But the finish line is in sight.....and THEN the real fun begins, right?
Setting up house just before the holidays, and mid-school year.
Sigh*  I never was one for a slow paced life!

Thank you for following alongside us....and for the prayers which have sustained our family.
I owe my sanity to our God who knew how long this would take....f.rom the beginning.....and He still loves us so...no matter how hard we fumble around along the way.
Amen

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Over and over, You Prove....You're so Faithful!

Our beloved Auntie Joan let us adopt her worship cd the other day...and two songs have really stood out....but this one is a favorite for even the kids....which leads us each to request it every time we get into the van.

Tonight it's my battle cry:

The darker the night the brighter the day
the fiercer the fight the stronger the faith
so i place my hope in You

the deeper the sin the stronger the blood
the more to forgive, the more reason to love
so i place my trust in You

in Your ways oh God
redemption is so much better than perfection
in Your ways oh God

over and over
You prove You're so faithful
over and over
You prove Yourself a redeemer

so i place all my hope in You

The artist is Kristene Mueller and this song, Redemption rocks like a SixPence None the Richer song.

More importantly it stirred up the promises of God deep down in my heart.
I love the second line....."The Fiercer the Fight...the Stronger the Faith"
What's truer than that?
The harder we need to fight....the more our faith is challenged, and proven to be failing or better yet, proven to be strong!  God let my faith be proven true!  I DO believe you have spoken into our lives and we LONG to follow Your voice.  Let that be able to be said of us...that we followed you, we believed and didn't give up...not for the prize of another house....but for You Lord.  For our faith challenge. 

I really could write a novel about the ups and downs of our househunt......but most of it seems so inconsequential.
Not to discount the daily miracles....but I just don't have time to write ALL of them down!
 
Truly God is in the details, and those are exciting....the glimpses of Him that we see throughout this process....the lessons I'm learning in patience, in submission, in obedience, in humility, all that 'good stuff' ;)
We seem to have found favor in so many avenues.....and yet, physically, we have not 'moved' in the past 4 months.
So in the end my heart quickens at the thought of the finish line.
Yet, even when it seems to be peeking around the corner.......and then the next day another detour is introduced.....I hear this song...

Over and over....You've proved You're so Faithful.
Over and over.....You've proved Yourself a Redeemer.

Amen and Amen...
not only has He redeemed my fallen soul, my imperfect natural, sinful ways.....but He promises to redeem the time.  This time of dryness, of what sometimes feels like 'wandering' through the wilderness.
It's all redeemable.
Because He is true, and these things are NOT happening without reason.

So we sit back and agree.....

Yes, Lord
We place our hope in You.
We place our Trust in You.
Thank you for being trustworthy......and so much more.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Tale of one Weiner House

Once upon a time there was a family on a househunt.
They searched far and wide for a new place to live.
Along their way they looked for signs and direction, wondering whether each listing could be 'The One."
Then one day their Fairy God-Realtor found a house in hiding.
This humble abode seemed to be waiting just for this weary family.
The photos showed a model home with many upgrades and just enough bedrooms.
The size of the yard was a bit small in square footage, but the family was willing to take a closer look.
Upon their arrival they noted many pleasing attributes.
There were two extra dens that were not originally listed.  The yard was situated as such that it was much more open and spacious than they could have imagined.
The family ooed and ahhhed as they entered the beautiful foyer.
Then gasp!  Could their eyes be deceiving them?  Scoundrels!
Intruders had broken in and defaced many of the grand walls....
Holes were punched and tags were made....it was a sad sight.
But their galant knight was not afraid of a little sheetrock work!
And humorously the tagging had been done in water based paint!
All was NOT lost...they WOULD persevere!
Still they looked for confirmation. 
And the icing on the 'offer' cake was the one picture drawn amongst all the writing.
This picture lay hidden in a dark downstairs closet.
And this was no ordinary picture.  The details were vivid, the color was a vibrant magenta.....and the symbol seemed to speak directly to this family.
Could it be a sign?
This was the clencher.....the family wrote out their offer as quick as possible and laughed at the irony of it all.
For in that closet as crude as could be was a foot high phallic symbol.
:D
And though their offer would eventually be turned down. 
The Weiner Family would laugh for many days to come at the sign that only they could find so perfect.
They would carry on the search, for now.
As their spirits had been renewed with hilarity.
For yes, their High King does show his sense of humor quite often.
After all, He is the one who named us, right?

Until the next chapter....we continue to live Happily....

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Staycation

Ah, most of you know that we're on a bit of a  hiatus from life :)
But then again, isn't most of the world in the summertime?

I'm talking more about the 'planned' side of our life.
For the most part this summer has been one big long party....full of busyness...and lots of friend time.  Not living in our 'home' has given us a lot of perspective on the 'needed' things in life.
I'm NOT missing the upkeep of our house, the weeds that beckon, the closets that need clearing out, the pile of projects that call to me from the craft room.  All those things are well and good, and have their time and purpose, but as we've been house hunting, and living with family....most of them are happily on the backburner.  Even grocery shopping has lessened as I have less storage room to stock up.  Good times folks!
Instead I'm looking around examining relationships that need some work, as well as pure playtime that needs to happen.  It's a whole new ballgame when you don't have a house full of  'responsibilites' weighing you down.  Still, our situation creates Other issues as well.

For instance, it has been very difficult NOT planning a big vacation for summer 2010!
We certaily can't spend BIG while we gather capital to buy a house.  And we alos, don't want to make plans not knowing if we'll end up in escrow in a month or two.  So it's a very Limbo-like state we're in.....

But wouldn't you know, God had a remedy for our situation.  Something we NEVER would have dreamed up.  It came in the form of a group brainstorm.  And ended as we jumped at the chance to housesit for some friends!  Most of you know both the location of the town AND the friends, but I'd rather not divulge any further details on our public blog...you understand ;)
Suffice it to say it could have been ANYWHERE and we'd have jumped at the chance to live alone as a 5 person family unit again.  Not that our current arrangements aren't desireable and wonderful in their own right, but we missed having breakfast to ourselves, on our schedule, with the worship music blasting, etc.  It's also nice to holler at the kids to put on their shoes and go potty (before we leave the house) without feeling like I'm disturbing the peace.

The thing is, this 3 week staycation isn't just 'anywhere'....it's at one of my favorite homes of all time, loaned to us by one of the most generous couples we know.  What a blessing it has been to get up and swim in the pool before we get ready for the day, or to cook each meal with ingredients we like to use.
Talia lingers quietly in the little girl's room...relishing the abundance of pink and girly toys.  Most of the kid's toys have been out of sight for over 3 months now, so the familiarity of their friend's room is very comforting.
It's the little things that are making this experience above and beyond what seems necessary.
Thanks God, you knew we'd need a staycation before we ever did!

We are overwhelmed by the gift of friendship that has brought us to this mini-vacation away from our substitute house.  Jarrod even asked me to post a day by day blog of our experience to document how amazing each day has been.  It's turning out to be a little too busy to do that, but I'm keeping our hosts informed on Facebook.  We're praying they are equally overwhelmed by their time away from home.
Our God is so generous like that. 
He does give his children good gifts.  Amen.

What is God doing through YOUR summer plans?

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Backup Plan

As most of you know, we had an offer 'accepted' on a house in Oakley....WAAAAY down past Knightsen.  It was a short sale with TWO loans out on it.  The realtor took our offer, as the only one they would consider and told us to settle in for a long wait while the two banks duked it out for their share of the price. 
Fine.
We've waited for the better part of 3 months and then received a message from the realtor.
He had been in constant contact with the bank holding the second loan and after many documented calls and messages he found out that loan had been sold to a collection agency. 
Meanwhile the first bank decided to offer the second bank only $3,000. 
Um, I'm not sure how much the loan was for, but that sure doesn't sound like much!
The collection agency regretted to inform us that they would take no less than $16,300.
Let's see, if my math skills are sharp that means we need to come up with $13,300 and pronto.

The selling realtor told us we could take this deal or he would be forced to put the house back on the market.  There wasn't anything anyone, including our realtor could do.
Did I mention we don't HAVE $13,300 just sitting around here?
Way to shut THAT door!
Now lest you feel sorry for us, I must mention that we kept looking at other houses in the past 3 months.  It's not that we weren't totally content with that house, we just knew we had to keep our options open.

The amazing part is that as we looked, it became clear how much that house had become our 'backup plan.' We were 'willing' to go there, and saw many great things the Lord could do with us in that neighborhood.....but in some ways we would be settling.  Because it was 'so' far out of town, it was A LOT of house for a great deal....newer and more of a clean palette for us....more so than any other house we've seen.   But try as we might....it wasn't rightHee hee that rhymes.

Now I started this post over a week or two ago...and I just couldn't gather my thoughts enough to finish it. 
Basically, this whole time of transition has been such a whirlwind that it's tough to be coherent!

In the end we are SO thankful to have a door closed.  Notice I say 'a' door....any door at this point will do!  We were craving a definite answer on SOMETHING in our life ;}

So I wanted to update you if you hadn't heard just yet about that offer.  Mentally we 'had' a house for a time....the ball was in OUR court...and we just had to wait it out.  Now that option is gone.

By now we've seen a dozen or so more house, and placed three other offers on houses in locations much closer to the freeway (something I've finally reconciled as a 'need'......the ease of freeway access dawned on me as I was shuttling the kids to classes in Oakland.....I LOVE the offerings of events and courses across the Bay Area and don't want to add to the madness of homeschooling when we've 'got to get up and GO!')

As I was saying...we've placed several offers, and are the 'backup offer' on one house....and we'll turn in one of our favorite offers in the morning.
Summer is flying by, and our quest continues...not just for a new home...but for a direction.

I feel like we're playing a treasure hunt and we need to be very still to here God whisper....'you're getting warmer.....warmer still.......nope, not that way, now you're getting cold!'

So no more back up plan.  It was an easy place to rest mentally, but now we're depending MORE on our Daddy's faint calling.
I'm SO excited to see where it leads!
In the meantime, we DO miss the gloriousness of our 'old' mess......
but in a nostalgic way.  It will be nice to be a family in our 'own' spot again one day. 
Until then, we're listening God.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Art Projects for Kids is Awesome!

I couldn't have survived this year prepping projects for 4 active boys without this website:
Art Projects for Kids 

One of our favorite projects used sharpies on tinfoil ....whowouldathunk?
The whole process was modeled after the work of Jim Dine.  Check it out here if you'd like to give it a try...we used these as large Valentines!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

That's a wrap folks!

2010 is halfway over! Can you believe it?
Friday night was our Open House/Graduation for our Science/History/Art Co-op.
The kids had such an amazing time showing off their work and performing for their family. 
As their teacher, and mostly as their momma it was wonderful to see at a glance just how much they really learned during this hectic year!
I'll feature much more about that evening on our family blog, but here is one of my favorite pieces.
A lapbook about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
Merrick and Ian made their 'Washington French'...see the mustache.  "Wee wee,"  they'll say if you ask them about it.  It's hilarious!
As I was saying though....
We've wrapped up the school year and have begun planning for next year.
This week is also the last week of baseball for the boys.
I snapped this shot at today's game.
I love the angle of Merrick tapping the base as he readies to hit Ian home (from 3rd base.)
There he goes! What great teamwork! 
And just think, this moment was NOT doctor recommended!

Remember this guy....we signed him up for baseball against the orders of his doctor ....well atleast with the knowledge that he may not be able to run just 6 weeks after surgery. 
Well this was him at one of his first baseball practices.  He hobbled with the aid of a walker, and he tired very easily.  He didn't even bother trying to hit the ball since he didn't have the balance to stand unassissted.
And just look at him now....
That's the way you score a run baby!
And that would be the game ball!
Those events were spread out over this season.
A successful season if you ask me!
So I sit here tonight So grateful for our kid's health.
For Merrick's recovery, and for the grace of God that allowed our kids to learn SO much even as we worked our way through a tumor diagnosis, major surgery, recovery, and then moving out of our house.
It's been quite a ride to say the least!
And like I said, 2010 is only HALF way done ;)
To the other half I say....bring it!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lost in Translation

Lately the kids have been in love with a certain Christian song. It gets a LOT of air time on the radio....so we hear it quite a bit, yet we've each had our opinion of what the lyrics actually say.
The lead singer has a unique tenor and his phrasing makes the words hard to decipher.  Being a vocalist I 'pride' myself on being able to figure out what people are saying in a song.....but even I had this one wrong in several places.  (Judge for yourself in the live version ;)

This is not a subject to be taken lightly either....not in our car!
Talia is at that stage where she wants the radio turned up loud and she wants to be singing along...and with Gusto!  Her passion is there but she often has NO idea what the song is saying.  So she asks me about every single line. She doesn't want to just make up the words, she wants to belt them out CORRECTLY.....God Bless our budding worship leader!

Unfortunately, I've had her singing a line from this song ALL WRONG. My bad. The song mentions NOTHING about a blessed union. It's about being in reach of God, waiting for His miraculous assistance.

Armed with her mix-matched song, she's moved on from performing in the car. Tonight she had to show anyone who would listen, this wonderful song she's been singing.

At dinner she asked Papi to listen to her sing. Oh, my goodness did she look proud as she sang to my dad, who is VERY unfamiliar with Christian music or 'phrases' for that matter. Here is what she sang:
"..um, consume me like a fire.
I just want something beautiful to touch me,
I know that I'm married, ....something beautiful!"

He smiled and said, "That must be one of those Madonna songs, huh?"

Sigh, I didn't even try to explain.
If you'd like to enjoy the original here it is:


In your ocean, I'm ankle deep
I feel the waves crashin' on my feet
It's like I know where I need to be
But I can't figure out, yeah I can't figure out


Just how much air I will need to breathe
When your tide rushes over me
There's only one way to figure out
Will you let me drown, will you let me drown?

Hey now, this is my desire
Consume me like a fire, 'cause I just want something beautiful
To touch me, I know that I'm in reach
'Cause I am down on my knees.
I'm waiting for something beautiful
Oh, something beautiful

And the water is rising quick
And for years I was scared of it
We can't be sure when it will subside
So I won't leave your side, no I can't leave your side.


In a daydream, I couldn't live like this.
I wouldn't stop until I found something beautiful.
When I wake up, I know I will have
No, I still won't have what I need.