Wednesday, September 14, 2011

a blink...

Today a good friend died suddenly of a heart attack.

Not only was he a good friend to me, but he was intricately involved in the company I work for and mixed in the life of my boss and his family. The loss of Steve will be profoundly felt all around Clackamas County.

The one thing on my mind as I attempted to absorb the news was how quickly... how quickly...

Life passes in a blink. One moment you can be chatting and going about your business, very busy and focused, very determined and project oriented. The next could find your tires squealing as you race to the scene... paramedics and hospitals and ... gone.

Who to trust? Where to lean? Where is your hope?

Steve is in heaven, thrilled and fully content. All thanks to a moment in which he stopped to consider the future. All thanks to walking every day following that moment fully convinced that the redemptive God who had saved him had put him on earth for the purpose of His glory, and while flawed and still living on earth, still passionately served and loved that God who was Just and Right and True.

In my heart and mind I struggle with grief, but in my soul I believe, and rest.
So, hey there God, enjoy Steve, he was a faithful husband, father and friend, and he is surely missed. I can't wait to see him again, someday. Thanks for the special gift you gave Amanda, by allowing her father to walk her down the aisle last Friday night. Thanks also for being the rock which Chris can cling to as she walks through the next days and weeks with Hannah still home and still in need of a daddy... I know you will take good care of them, that is one of your specialties...

Monday, September 12, 2011

small spaces - lesson two

In This Episode...

You will find out, when you attempt to purge and rearrange, that it is exhausting and time consuming work. However, the thrill of the finish (or the semi finished state, as we will talk about in a moment) is quite rejuvenating.

We were able to essentially flip our house over the course of two weekends and the week in the middle; moving all of the furniture in three complete rooms to allow everything to fit and be more usefully arranged. Boy, was it a lot of work! And of course, it was was extra work due to the stuff we had allowed to accumulate in every corner and cranny. Of the three rooms, only one is considered "done" - the one belonging to our youngest daughter - and really that is only due to the tiny size of the space!

My room is about 80% complete. There was an 8' long existing bookcase on the wall of the "room" which contained a plethora of books and also housed our liquor cabinet.  I haven't even attempted to touch the bookcase or any of its contents yet - but I am thrilled with the new room! I think the most fantastic thing about it is the absolute lack of space for clutter. I have a single bench which I throw magazines on and a chair which also has magazines (strange, eh?) but all of them are from the library and other than that, the room is very simple and clean. I will try to take some pictures but the lighting is very low and they aren't easy to take.

The "girl room" is about 80% complete as well. There is an entire closet of "we once were little girls" which I have to pile through and dispose of, and I suppose that is hard for me to do as I haven't even started it yet. How strange it is when your children move from childhood to being teenagers - how quickly they stop playing with their awesome toys and start just piling up the clothes and other "girly stuff"

You could say that our living room is complete - we didn't set out to work on it but I don't believe it will change until something wild and crazy happens... therefore, its probably our finest work and done!

Just to show that we aren't all spartan and clutter free, I have some photos of our "office" which is the final room in the house for this project, and it is a veritable disaster!

All photos tomorrow -

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Replacing dishes, One Plate at a Time - Chicken Enchiladas

Tonight I was the dish queen; and I wish I had a tiara or a crown, as I've been dish queen so many times as an adult I couldn't even begin to count. We lost another plate today, though, and it reminded me of how little I've been cooking and how much I miss it. I am reminded of how much more I enjoy the cooking side of a meal than the cleanup, and I would gladly pass the tiara to a lass in my footsteps... volunteers greatly appreciated!

Seeing as fall is on its way in a hurry, I am planning my fall cooking routine... I am going to cook a hearty, home cooked meal each week. Maybe even two. First up, chicken enchiladas. I have a delicious recipe from my friend Colleen, whom I haven't spent time with in eternity, but with whom I used to make large batches of cookies and brownies and enchiladas right in her amazing kitchen. Memories will live on as I bake!!

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas (ala Colleen Schweitzer)
1 7oz can diced green chilis
2 whole chicken breasts, chopped
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup chopped onion
16oz sour cream
1 cup grated cheese
1 pkg fajita size tortillas

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large frying pan saute the onion; add chicken and cook thoroughly. Add soup, sour cream, and chilis and cook through. Fill tortillas and place in a greased baking dish. Top with remaining sauce and cheese,  cover with foil, and bake for 25-30 minutes at 350.


Sunday, August 28, 2011


So, we have jumped headlong into our small spaces transition ...  You know how this goes, right?

In case you've forgotten it goes a little something like:

"I'm thinking we will have to arrange things this way..." And we agree... mostly...

And then "Oh, while I'm at the salon, can you do that for us?" (note that this was really a joke, but...)

Upon arriving home from the salon, I found two rooms of my house in the backyard or generally piled in the living room. So.. We have actually gotten a whole room, done, my bedroom! All things that don't belong are not going in, and its a lot freer feeling, although just a touch smaller. Without a closet or a window that opens at all. Time to accentuate the good things!

* we can fit a queen size bed!
* I have a chair in there for reading now, and an eight foot long bookcase to fill with treasures.
* It is the coolest room in the house, even without a window (thank you concrete flooring!)
* While there is no window, you actually access the laundry and the backyard through my room, so I can just open the doors!
* It is located far away from the television so the family can stay up watching movies and I can go to sleep -- no more bass reverberations! Also, since it is in the garage, I won't feel the movement of the dogs or kids as they walk through the house! Double bonus!
* I will have continued access to my former closet, in what will be the office / homework room. Never fear, I will still have my not so ironed clothing at my fingertips!

And lastly, this move will force me to ditch stuff I don't need and keep what I do need in a more creative way!

Next stop, the office. That might take a while!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

small spaces - lesson one

The journey from renter to home owner has not always been sweet. Living against the typical American grain will likely prove to be a challenge for me as long as I live...

Our most recent rental (prior to purchasing this home in 2005) was what I considered at the time, my dream home. It had three bedrooms, a very wonderful open kitchen & dining area, and a predefined landscape that took no thought at all. At the time, our girls shared a room, we had our lovely Joy in another, and I was able to fit my glorious king size bed and a couple pieces of furniture into mine. Bliss. Even with one bathroom, it was a perfect fit for us.

We had all sorts of visitors, as it was a city house, and it was perfect.

Through a series of interesting twists, God placed us here. He didn't leave us here, but I know that He had many lessons in store for me, and perhaps, all of us.

Here... We live on a couple acres in a very, very small house. We do have a large blue "shop", which is completely full of other peoples treasures, and we have our lovely Joy with us again, this time in an apartment tucked into another shop. Joy brought her husband and kids along for the ride, and it has been a blessing to have them all here...

Here... located outside of town, beyond sidewalks, up a hill and on a virtual highway which impedes cycling, here...

The first thing I noticed was the isolation. Strange, to think that a mere handful of miles out of town would be so incredibly isolating, but it is, for a city girl like me.

After a couple years and a full time job, the most common thing I struggle with is space:

Where to put the family that lives in the house?
Where to put the stuff that lives with the family in the house?
Where to keep the dogs that have their stuff and live with the family in the house?

I'm constantly intrigued by our culture and the idea to just get a storage unit or just buy a bigger house. Images from India will forever live in my mind, of a two room apartment with a tiny freestanding kitchen - no cabinets at all - and a shared bathroom down the hall. I'm pretty sure there were no Store-All locations nearby. And quite frankly, the opportunity to get a larger apartment only presented itself upon getting a new job. Not something that most of us see as a promising prospect.

Our house can't grow and we can't move. Making the most of this space has taken some creativity, and occasionally, some raw honesty. Our dining room table, for example, took over our entire dining space. There was always space at our table for guests, and there was plenty of room there for homework and mealtime. Guests, however, are few and far between... and as the years wore on, I noticed that homework stayed on as piles rather than moving back to school. So this summer I made a radical transition and replaced our dining room table with what could be called a dinette. There is cozy seating for the five of us, when you pull up the chair from the desk. The space, however, has been transformed. Its perfect. For this space...

Looking out at my 2.5 bedroom house with a single bathroom... I know we can make the best of this space and with the potential challenge of adding to the mix, I'm thinking creative. This will require a serious purging, but I feel up for it. First room, my bedroom. Stay tuned!

Monday, August 22, 2011

New Seasons

Summer took an incredibly long time to arrive this year - and as a result, each morning we have a summer/fall mashup. It FEELS like fall at 6:30 in the morning -- Except for the swirling currents of warm air that indicate another hot day.

I've just about completed my first gig at Linfield college, and I'm really enjoying everything. Okay, except the fact that to find employment they say I need a Masters degree. bosh. Exploring cultural and societal adaptations is very cool, learning more about the history of our region was beneficial, and I can't wait for another course!

I think the concept that will last with me forever is the juxtaposition between hinterland and trendsetter found in the Pacific Northwest - especially in the 21st century.

So - how else is this a new season?
I'm exploring couponing as a way to save a bit more money and use our limited cash appropriately. Thanks to for the helpful instructions (and my dear friend Rachel who pointed me there!)

I'm ditching the smartphone and going back to basic. I can't cut our contracts with Verizon, so I did the next cheapest thing, and I'm excited to go back to "normal." The one and probably only thing I will miss? The ability to stream Pandora as I drive on trips! But I'll save $35 a month on the phone bill... Worth it!

I've fallen head over heals in love with the Simple Mom network of websites. Today, for example, the most yummy recipe for fall breakfasts is to be found on

I'm using Google Reader to keep up with my blogs

I've subscribed to Relevant and Neue magazines - and really should subscribe to Real Simple but instead I'm going to try VERY HARD to check it out at the library. Glossy images of yummy food, you slay me!

I've come to love my kindle for all kinds of specialty reads - like the book I had to review for my PNW class.

I've got a lovely daughter landing in High School. I'm so incredibly proud of her - and she seems to want to survive her teen years. The middle is off to junior high, and periodically I see a maturing version pop out of her - and the youngest, ah, she cannot wait for school - as living in the country brings her as much frustration as it does me. Poor girl, I wish I could place a sidewalk for you. This will bring you good things, at some point in your life you will be thankful!

It brings me great joy to have daughters who live a common life - a life that allows them to be children, to get to know Christ and see faith in action, to have great friends in and out of the church, to be exposed to reality but not completely immersed in pain...  They have spent the summer learning various household management skills - with limited success as mom is off to work each morning - but it has been good for us all.

Books and things -- The Collector and The Good Rain - both books for class but I'm glad I bought them!

Deep Church & A Kingdom Called Desire -- I'm going to read these books over my summer break from classes

I found an interesting book from the 70's titled the anti-american generation, and I'm reading it too - mostly in little bits, but it has some fascinating insights that I see even today as I talk to people and meet them. Surprise, there isn't anything new under the sun...

Adele, The Airborne Toxic Event, and Mumford and Sons,music to my ears. Don't forget David Crowder, Reliant K, Rootdown, and Switchfoot :)

Diet Dr Pepper with a slight touch of vanilla vodka. Put your feet up and listen to the relaxing sounds of a pool filter and a splashing 11 year old. ahh.

Last -- but never least -- cookbooks. Added to my collection this summer, The Clinton St Baking Company cookbook and Ruhlmans Twenty. I believe they will both end up as staples in my house, just like the Family Baker has.

Facebook has not come back, and I no longer miss it at all. My thoughts are turning toward Pinterist however, and so I'm just staying away!

have a marvelous summer!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Summer is here!

Believe it or not, on August 1, 2011, summer arrived in the Pacific Northwest. It has been all gorgeous from then... Oh, yes, it is only the 4th. We take what we can get!

This weekend our family is heading out for a much needed camping trip. By a river. In the woods. Very close to the wilderness... perhaps I'll get some writing in this weekend... it has been too long.

Welcome, summer!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Summer Reading

Summer in the pacific northwest... It is wet today; a damp, drizzly sort of rain is falling which will keep us from drying out too early - and keep us from preparing for August...the dry, windy month that helps us completely forget (albeit, only briefly) that winter is real.

I am considering my summer reading "plan", having just finished Atlas Shrugged, and in so doing decided to take a walk through the past to see where some of my former favorite authors are hiding...

Anne Lamott, Ruskin Bond, Donald Miller, Anne Jackson, Shauna Niequist... countless other authors have made my lists throughout the years. I am going to revisit some of these good friends - and pick up some new ones along the way during the summer of 2011, if I am may be so inclined:

Anne Lamott: Bird by Bird
Ruskin Bond: Rain in the Mountains
Donald Miller: A million miles
Anne Jackson: Permission to Speak Freely
Shauna Niequist: Bittersweet
Kathleen Norris: Acedia and Me
Lynne Hybels: Nice Girls don't Change the World

I am also going to read The Life of Pi, and the curious incident of the dog in the night-time...


I am a mom. This means I usually end up talking about my kids a great deal. I decided perhaps I should get that out of the way now, so as to discuss some of my other favorite things...

First things first. There have been days along this parenting journey that I wanted to get in my car and drive as fast as I could in the opposite direction and never look back. I have come to see this is normal, so if you ever feel that way, you aren't alone!

Second, I truly love my girls. The older they get, the more interesting life gets! I never fully planned the notion of motherhood, so when it happened, I found myself in a brand new adventure. I read, and read, and read some more. I found some styles of parenting which fit my grid, and I practiced them at a level comfy for all of us. I stayed at home until I felt like I could do something part time, and I did something part time until full time work became a reality. My number one parenting belief is, "get to know your kids as individuals." I think that a lot of people try one size fits all approaches to their kids (like many other things) and I discovered that wasn't our reality!

To weave our Oregonian address into this, I will just give a shout out to God for creating such an amazing place to live and raise a family. One hour to the beach. One hour to the mountains. Fair enough shelter from the wind and harsh weather. An excellent valley climate for yards and gardens. Occasional snow. Quirky people that live in the Metro area so my girls exposure to the world isn't quite so narrow. My favorite thing? Not having to teach the girls to pump their own gas, thanks to the law of the land! Jake can teach them if they drive to Washington, ha!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


I was thinking along today, and decided to deactivate. There is a rhyme and a reason for this, but I won't get into it here... Here, I will discuss the concept of deactivation -

I found this definition online: deactivate [diːˈæktɪˌveɪt] vb
  • 1. (tr) to make (a bomb, etc.) harmless or inoperative
  • 2. (Physics / Atomic Physics) (intr) to become less radioactive
  • 3. (Military) (tr) US to end the active status of (a military unit)
  • 4. (Chemistry) Chem to return or cause to return from an activated state to a normal or ground state
To make harmless or inoperative - this would imply that the object which you are deactivating is dangerous. To become less radioactive - to me, this suggests poison.. interesting... To end the active status of a military unit - suggesting a purposeful season. To cause to return from an activated state to a normal state.

This last one is the one that symbolizes best my decision to deactivate.

You see, there is this element that I realized is rather potentially harmful. A bit radioactive, if you will... and I find it fitting that the term used to end your friendship with this element is to deactivate... Hmm...

"He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity." Proverbs 21:23
Or my paraphrase "He who guards his keyboard and the send key keeps himself from calamity"

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Vision

Our kids look out and see potential - things to dream for, hidden valleys to explore

Our teens walk with energy and passion into their maturity, knowing they are supported in prayer and love by a unique, God crafted family

Our newlyweds feel secure in their union; upheld by community, gifted by the wisdom of their elders, unified in faith.

Our families are surrounded by prayer and support, knowing they aren't alone on their adventure, but a friend is just a phone call away.

Our empties walk with fresh energy and vision into the next season of their life, not done, but just beginning!

Our elders are discerning and bold, walking with faith each step of the way as they guide the people of the church

Our seniors look back over their seasons with pride and thanks, knowing as they depart this earth they are leaving a legacy of grace and truth in the generations they have impacted.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Past the Ides of March

I can't believe I am back at this, but after a year and losing my blogger address, I'm back to blogging. My friend Emily both inspired and encouraged me to do this.

We are past the ides and heading into spring. I couldn't sleep last night as I contemplated the bright sky of summer and the desires I have to somehow some-day live in such a way that I can get my daily dose of vitamin d. Such is life north of the 45th parallel.

A little about me. My previous blog was titled "Rambling Through" and I considered naming this one the same, but changing the address (as previously noted, my old one was consumed by someone else. Sad but true) Rambling Through was a concept I conceived as I muddled my way through early marriage, elementary school age children, and college (for myself.) I "think" I see a little more clearly now, although I know that could just be my glasses... Our current sermon series at church is titled "One Life" -- and that seems to me a much better approach to my daily.

I am 33 years old and have been married for 14 years (tomorrow) to Jake. We together have three daughters, presently 10, 12, and 13... I currently work full time at a metal fab shop in our small town, which is an amazingly convenient position for a mom to have. I have been there for over two years now, and I am the "Executive Assistant" which usually feels like a fancy way to describe secretary and assistant, but someone once decided everyone needed a title, so there you go. I even have business cards. I graduated three years ago from a local community college with a degree in Computer Applications, which, believe it or not, is a fancy way for me to say I know how to use software. Most people use this education in a much more career oriented way.

We live on 5.5 acres of grass, with a couple buildings scattered about and (I think) eight old oak trees. I was born and raised in the city of Portland (save a handful of years in Seattle, but I have to admit I was pretty tiny. I still claim it!) I am, all the way to my core, a city person. Except the minor detail of living in the country.

This winter I started making official decisions to head into the city with the girls at least a couple times a month. I have many reasons for doing this. Our family is a bit sheltered out here, and I want to expose them to exciting adventures in a safe way. We visit different churches while there, and I don't think I have offended too many people, especially our pastor, by doing this. We also visit malls and bookstores - and I hope during this summer to add parks and museums. We'll see.

I am a Christian, not quite one that has a radical definition, though. I prefer Christ Follower over "Baptist, Calvinist, Pentecostal, Lutheran, etc." Not really liberal or conservative - it depends on the issue. I'm not interested in working for a corporate entity as long as I live... I suppose I am a bit socialist. (is this legal to say in America?)

Oh, the daughters.

So, the oldest is ART + softball. The middle is socially awkward NERD + running. The youngest is DRAMA + soccer. This makes for an amazing blend of fun in our household. It also makes for very trying moments for mom. I will admit I have concocted my own cocktails for such evenings.

I have the best dog ever, her name is Asia. We tried to help Jake by getting him a dog, which backfired. So we have Copper, the basset hound, who mostly just drives us all crazy. Some family brought an indoor cat to our house and we just "had to keep him." So we also have Kitty/Spud (depending upon who you ask.) Just don't forget I live on acreage... I have four cats that live on my porch... three of whom are female.

The husband. Jake puts up with a ton. Imagine being the guy in a house full of estrogen. I don't know how he does it most of the time. He spent almost the entire year of 2010 unemployed, the recession hit our family hard. At the eleventh hour God provided him with the best job that there could be. He works for a corporate entity in the city. The only downside that I can see at present is his commute; public transit is free....

There you have US, in no particular order. Look for something new in a couple days, L.