Sunday, December 22, 2013

My Christmas Eve Eve Eve Prayer

Sometimes, you don't really want to write a blog post, but it's writing itself in your head and you have to. So. This is one of those.

It's three days before Christmas. We're watching Elf. I think I can honestly say we've done a fair job of focusing on Christ and giving to those around us this season. There's always more than can be done.... I've had a lot of travel, but we've kept up with the girls choosing an act of kindness to do almost every day, and we've been blessed yet again by our advent devotionals each night. This post may seem like I'm not focused on the real reason for this precious season. Or maybe it will seem like I am. You be the judge.

I can barely bring myself to even type "Duck Dynasty" because (and no offense is intended), I'm already sick to death of all of the blog posts related to this subject in my feed. And, to be clear, I've read some of them and they're really good. But still - the obsession with it in general seems so over the top. How is it that I find myself joining in? See the opening paragraph. That's how.

And I don't really even want to talk about that. However, if you're curious on my opinion it, not surprisingly, aligns very well with Jen Hatmaker's post on the topic which can be found right here

On one hand, I admire many of my Facebook friends (on both sides of the coin, mind you) for being bold and sharing their views. However, I also think we forget who all may be reading these posts. Could a teenager struggling with the rejection that comes from being gay be reading the post? Could it feel like even more rejection? Is that the message of Christ?

Our home is 2.9 miles from Arapahoe High School. 2.9 miles. I know no one involved, but I know people that know both the shooter's family as well as the family of the sweet girl that passed away this week. Heartbreaking. Also heartbreaking is what the mother of the shooter must be feeling. Could we cast blame? Assume she didn't parent him "well enough" if he was capable of such destruction? Start bringing up the gun control debate? We could. But come on.... Of course we shouldn't. Did one of us miss a chance to love on that young man? Maybe. Dear God, give us ears to hear.....

There's so much talk on these subjects, and I really do wonder if God is just shaking his head at us. I think we've forgotten when we talk about our ideals that we're talking about people. People that God loves violently, overwhelmingly, jealously, whole-heartedly. How can we forget that we're talking about people?

Let me at this point reference two of the other posts I've read that have aided in shaping my thinking. My ideas are building off of theirs, so I want to give them credit and encourage you to read them both. The first is this one written by a self-described celibate gay Christian. The other is this one written by a youth pastor whose claim is that what you believe about homosexuality is not the point. 

I think each of us has a responsibility, as Christians, to study the Bible and have opinions on what following Jesus looks like. We should all be striving to follow him to the best of our abilities. We're all free to decide whether we think homosexuality is wrong or not, whether we women need to cover our heads and whether violence is ever warranted or not. In almost no case, though, is it necessary or positive to be sharing those conclusions in broad public settings. So often, we're unintentionally letting the world see our ugliness when we forget about people. It seems to me that the main goal of following Jesus is loving others. Not discussing our theological differences on Facebook. Let's be about the things that unify us.

My prayer for us this Christmas Eve Eve Eve is this: Dear God, please oh please let us not hurt one of your precious creations by our beliefs but instead overwhelm them with your love. Let us leave any convicting that needs to be done in your powerfully capable hands. Most of all, teach us to love. Teach us to love well.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Christmas Letter 2013



WiebeHaus 2013
Here we are, just a few weeks before Christmas, and the snow is already flying. Today’s temperature is -8, but the great thing is that there’s a fire burning at my feet. And tonight, Amy and I head off to NYC for a long-awaited weekend together (sans children because of Pen and Bill – THANKS!)  The undeniable fact is that this year has been full of blessing. I started with our new church on January 1 of this year and it has been a great year of new things and people for every person in our family. We moved into our home in March, and God provided us with a street-full of children our kids’ ages. It is an amazing thing to be able to let our kids go outside and play and run and ride bikes for hours with a huge group of good children and helpful parents. Sadly, that’s something that doesn’t happen much these days. We love our new home, and though there were many projects to complete, we had and abundance of help from friends and family members. And the even better part is that though we enjoy the house (and basement play area and media room) a lot ourselves, we have also been able to open our house for WeBeGrillin about a dozen times. This is a regular event where we invite our church members and anyone from our neighborhood to come over and grill with us and share a dish while we hang out on the patio on a weekend evening. The kids play outside or in the basement, and the adults get to sit around and talk and laugh and eat and share stories for hours. This has given us an opportunity to get to know people in our neighborhood and from our church in ways we are all blessed by. 

In the long process of updating the older house we bought, Amy’s wedding ring was unfortunately stolen. We were blessed to be able to replace it with her work bonus, and were able to additionally get one other wish list item for her: a hot tub. We found a great deal on Craigslist for a used one, and I was able to do most of the installation work myself, and we’ve already gotten to sit out there talking and watching the snow fall. In the busyness of life right now, it has given us a chance to just sit and talk about what’s going on and what God has been doing. Our church here is a smaller one that the one we were part of in Texas, but it has given us opportunities to get involved in ways we couldn’t have in a larger church. My role as an associate pastor/church-planter-in-training has been a lot of work, but every challenge has brought with it blessing. Over the last year, I have gotten a number of opportunities to preach, which is something that I really enjoy. The preparation for a sermon is exhilarating and fun for me because I love to write and read and study, but also because God has opened his Word to me in ways I haven’t experienced before. We help co-lead a community group, which has been a great way to connect and grow with people in our church body. Amy and I both participate on the worship team. Amy learned how to play guitar this year and is a quick study. She has already led worship at a ladies retreat as well as in a number of Sunday morning services. I am now putting my habit of annoying Amy by constantly drumming to good use as I now play percussion on a Cajon during our worship time.  The kids find their ways of helping too, and we’ve gotten to give and serve alongside them in a number of really cool ways too this year. The church plant is still a ways out, and God only knows where and exactly when that will happen. In the meantime, our pastor is working with me in every area of ministry, and I’m getting a great education in what it takes to run a church, and really stay focused on the work of discipleship, which is really the point of why we “do church” in the first place. 

Amy’s job has been in transition as well. She wrapped up a 7 year stint working for PwC Dallas in October, but had already begun a new job working as a deployment director for the San Francisco office. While there have certainly been challenges in terms of travel and a heavier workload, she has gotten some great opportunities and has worked with some great new people who have shown great appreciation for the skills and talent she provides. (She will likely edit this section, but her track-record and feedback speak for itself at what a diligent and valuable employee and colleague she is for her organization.) The kids are doing very well in school. Ellie is in second grade and soaking up information like a sponge. She has developed a love of reading that is great to watch. Emma is in afternoon kindergarten and is learning to read, write, and do math. She still enjoys recess the most, though! Nathan is now 2, and like the boy he is, loves to run, wrestle, and play hard, but is also a sweet, little man who loves to cuddle with his momma and sisters. He is learning to talk and will soon transition to a regular bed. Hopefully, moving out of diapers will soon follow! Amy continues to sew and embroider various crafts, and keeps us all well-supplied in monogrammed apparel. She made all of our Halloween costumes and is presently in the process of making the girls’ Christmas dresses.

We tried to take advantage of our new state and did a lot of skiing last winter and a lot of hiking and exploring this summer. Thanks to the lovely weather, we were outside (either in our own back yard or in the mountains) often. We did take one trip to Dallas as a family in June. It was great to see all of our friends and family. Amy also took the kids to Detroit in August. This wouldn’t be all that remarkable, except she DROVE them. On her own. If you missed her escapades, I’d encourage you to check them out here. We also took a family weekend up in Winter Park which was nice.

Amy and I are continuing our family traditions of Christmas devotionals with the kids this season and are incorporating some new Advent traditions as well. The house is well and fully decorated, beautiful, and prepped for the upcoming winter. We have upcoming parties to plan, sermons to write and deliver, worship sets to practice, meals to prepare, crafts to finish, regular work to do, children to love and take care of, and the list goes on and on. However, in the midst of all of these things to do, it is easy to get distracted, to stay overly busy, to feel tired - to focus on things that are not the most important things. This is true all year long, but feels especially true during this season.  Last night I heard a beautiful version of “Gloria In Excelsis Deo” and was reminded that in celebrating Jesus’ birth – the arrival of the Messiah – that we direct all glory to God in the highest because he brought about his plan to save a lost world in ways only He could. His plan wasn’t splashy or loud or fancy. It was quiet, and miraculous, and humble. If the God who made everything and everyone displays his power and love in these ways, it is no surprise that he also calls us to love the world around us and shine the light of the hope of Jesus to those around us in those same ways. As you spend time with family, as you get through the bustle of December, remember that the bottom line of this season is the joy of the Savior, and that gift is one you can and should share not only with those closest to you, but especially with the stranger and the widow and the orphan.  We wish warmest Christmas blessings to you all, friends and family! 

-The WiebeHaus 
James, Amy, Ellie (7), Emma (5), and Nathan (2)


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Elf on the Shelf for Underachievers

I have been a blog slacker lately.

I know the next 6 weeks are going to be hectic, so I'm trying to figure out a way to plan ahead to make it better and easier. We do an Advent devotional called Meaningful Christmas. I highly recommend it - click the link to check them out (although I'm telling you too late for this year...sorry.) I'm also going to do 24 days of kindness. Add the Elf on the Shelf (a family favorite), and we could be going into the looney bin.

It's so important to me to keep Jesus at the center of all we do - all the time, but especially at this time of year. So, we manage to combine our Elf with Jesus. The sample hello and goodbye letters will show you how. I'm sure it can be done better, but this is our take.

Given that I want this to be do-able, I wanted something simpler than some of the other calendars I've seen going around. So, in my effort to get organized, I bring you the Elf on the Shelf for Underachievers Most of the weekdays are very simple - often just entailing our elf hiding somewhere new in the house. 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bz2-hgUnZcvbLXhaZ1FpUE5uRjg/edit?usp=sharing



I'm also including my first stab at 24 Simple-ish Acts of Kindness. We may not do these by the calendar but may put them in a jar. But I wanted to share the 24 acts in case they help spur someone else on. Some of them are a little more complicated on the weekdays, so feel free to move them around and adjust as you see fit.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bz2-hgUnZcvbWTZsc3Y2djc1ckE/edit?usp=sharing



Now. If my Christmas cards would just design, print and address themselves......

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Carmaggedon

I have 4 nephews that I love. I also love my sister and brother-in-law. I also put a lot of value on cousins getting to spend time together as I have such good memories as a kid of playing with mine. So, since we saw David and Jennie for a couple of days in November when they came to visit us here, it was our turn to go visit them in Detroit. James didn’t have enough vacation to join us, plus he was preaching this month, so I decided to drive my 3 children across the country on my own to go visit them. It’s 20 driving hours from Denver to Detroit.

For those of you who are friends with me on Facebook, I tried to have fun with the trip. I’m transferring all of my antics over here so that I remember the trip and can pass along the craziness to the kids when they’re older.

7/13: Carmaggedon Update 1: On the road by 7:15. Score: Me – 1; Kids – 0. But it’s still early, folks. Very very early.

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7/13: Carmaggedon Update 2: And just like that, we have a game, people! We started our first video, and Emma wasn’t wearing her headphones. I asked why.

Emma: One time, I put them on, and they didn’t work.

Me: Do they need batteries?

Emma: No.

Me: How do you know?

See photo. Tie score. Me – 1; Kids – 1

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FYI that Walmart does not sell wireless car headphones. I said to the lady in electronics: I’m in the first 10 minutes of a 20 hour drive with these kids. You and your company have failed me.

Actually, I didn’t say that to her, but I wanted to. After we got back to the car, only then did I remember that we had purchased a third set (for Nathan) that we weren’t using. I should have given the kids another point for that, but I wasn’t willing to give up so much ground so early. And it’s my game. So.

7/13: Camaggedon Update 3: Ellie lost her headphones. We’re in a car. Maybe 60 sf of space tops. Sigh. Me – 1; Kids – 2.

P.S. As soon as I got the car pulled over, she magically found them.

7/13: Carmaggedon Update 4: We had our first stop at 11, and it was successful. By that, I mean I got to pee and didn’t lose any children. Also, the kids opted for a “snack lunch” (stuff from a gas station instead of a restaurant). That saved us an hour. Me – 2; Kids – 3.

7/13: Carmaggedon Update 5 and 6: You know that snack lunch that I mentioned in update 4? Turns out it entailed a jalapeno corn dog for my son and a huge Hershey bar for my daughter.

Shoot.

Me – 2; Kids – 4 and 5

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  Also, I hate Nebraska. Sorry, but I do. Not only is the state boring, but apparently they don’t believe in their citizens needing cellular data unless they’re within 10 miles of a city. Which is just rude. Seriously. It’s like you cross the Iowa border, and it immediately gets beautiful again. It begs the question of whether God may have taken a quick snooze before day 7.

7/13: Carmaggedon Update 7: A) Giving him the entire bag of Bugles seemed like a good idea. Did I learn NOTHING from lunch? B) Nathan had his first dirty diaper of the day. He doesn’t get a point for that as it was inevitable, but he does get a point for the fact that I apparently left our only package of wipes in the last gas station. Me – 2; Kids – 5.

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7/13: Carmaggedon Update 8: The jalapeno corn dog came back to bit me in a most unpleasant way. As in, I went ahead and just threw his pants away. (When I thought of them sitting in the car for the next 2 days, the answer was obvious.) Then, I had planned on a McDonald’s dinner, but the girls said they wanted pizza. Dang. It’s like they’re onto this game. I have to give them a point for that, too. Me – 2; Kids – 7. (And seriously. How cute are they?)

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7/13: Carmaggedon Update 9 and Day 1 Summary: You know, it was a really great day. I’m really proud of my kids, and I’m a little proud of me, too. We did 12 of the 20 hours today with only 8 to go tomorrow, and we’re all tucked into our hotel. I’m giving myself 1 point for every nap a child takes (2). I get 5 bonus points for the fact that my son did not cry once. Not one time. So very blessed by all 3 of them but especially by his happy disposition. Kids get one more point for acting like crazy people when they got to the hotel. I get why and all, but it was a display worthy of a point. Final day 1 score: Me – 9; Kids – 6.

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7/14: Carmaggedon Update 1: All 3 kids slept all night long and didn’t wake up until I woke them up at 7:30. We’re on the road and breakfasted by 8:30. For those of you who haven’t parented young children in a while, I ought to get 20 points for that. But, I’ll just take 3. I have my Grande soy extra pump no water no foam chai (no, I’m not high maintenance), and ETA in Detroit (before stops) is 4:54pm. Bring it!

Me – 11; Kids – 8

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Sent from me to James on FB: I feel like if you were here, my windshield view would be a lot clearer. Guess I’d better break down and clean it at my next gas stop. I still view it as your responsibility, though.

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7/14: Carmaggedon Update 2: Learned my lesson both with giving Nathan a smaller portion of pretzels and no jalapeno corn dog today. First stop complete, windshield is clean, and I got to pee.

Me – 12; Kids – 8

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7/14: Camaggedon Update 3: We’ve hit that hyper part of the day. I’ll give the kids a courtesy point for the amusing display.

Me – 12; Kids – 9

P.S. I kept my eyes on the road during the duration of this video and am posting all of these updates either while stopped or with my voice to text program.

7/14: Carmaggedon Update 4: Well. It really can’t be a Carmaggedon without vomit, right? Nathan just choked on a piece of pretzel and threw up. I’ll spare you a photo on this one.

Me – 12; Kids – 10

And 5 hour energy drinks are fine for a 1 yo who just threw up, right? (J/K. It was empty when I gave it to him.

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7/14: Carmaggedon Update 5 and Day 2 Summary: We made it!!! I get 2 more points for naps, and then Nathan gets the kids one more well-deserved point. About 45 minutes before we got here, he pooped. I pulled over on the side of the highway to change him, and I’m so glad I did. We lost that pair of shorts, too. I literally threw them on the grass on the side of the road. I feel badly about that, but it had to be done.

Final score: Me – 14; Kids – 11. Woohoo! I beat them!

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For the 4 days we were in Detroit, I did some Cousin Quotables. Here they are:

Cousin Quotable 1: We just put the big kids to bed (Georgie, 7, Ellie, 7, James, 5 and Emma, 5) all in one room. After some talking, we gave strict orders for them to be quiet and go to sleep. Georgie just came down to report that James and Emma wouldn’t stop talking. We told him to pass along the message for them to stop. George says: But Mom. They need threats!

Then those same 4 cuties woke up at 6:45am the first day. Goodness!

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We took the kids to the zoo the first day in Toledo. It was HOT, but we had fun.

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We got them McDonald’s afterward. And I did this:

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Not my best idea.

Cousin Quotable 2, also credited to George (7): He and Ellie watched a show in the car on the way to Toledo. He asked Ellie for the DVD remote. She asked why he needed it as the show was already playing. In typical male form, he says: I just need to check the configurations.

And all the women rolled their eyes.

Cousin Quotable 3 goes to James, 5: Aunt Amy, will you please open this? It’s dark in the glow goo!

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Here’s the babies being cute on the way to Ikea while the big kids were at Sita Peg’s day care on day 2.

Cousin Quotable 4 goes to James, 5:

James: Aunt Amy, I fell in wove with Ewie.

Me: You did? Today at day care?

James: No. Wast night we were pwaying famiwy. Ewie was the mom, and George was the dad and I was the bwotha. And. I just fell in wove with her.

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Cousin Quotable 5 goes to George, 7, and is further evidence of how “all boy” he is. Ellie broke her pink water gun. George says: Aunt Amy, I can totally fix this with a few modifications.

Duct tape and a piece of plastic were then mentioned. Again, I say “And all the women rolled their eyes.”

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A couple of photos from the water park. Jen and I were pretty excited we kept all 7 kids safe for 4 hours. It wasn’t easy.

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Cousin Quotable 6 goes to Emma, 5 regarding Joey: I don’t mind fighting with that baby, but he’s got game. He has swowads and guns, and he knows how to use them.

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On day 4, we squeezed in a visit with Gunther and Jane Schlender. Their daughter, Nancy is married to Mike Winegeart who did our wedding. We’re good friends with the Winegeart family, and the Schlenders were in Oxford when I was there for my 6 weeks of study abroad. They’ve lived in Detroit for years and were only about 20 minutes away. It was so great to see them!

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I then introduced George and James to geocaching. There were some rough mosquitoes, but I think George in particular really enjoyed it.

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Later that afternoon, we took all 7 kids to see Turbo. We tried to get a sitter for the babies, but we weren’t successful. We just took them. They weren’t terrible, but there was a woman who got in a verbal argument with us after as she thought their noise was unfair to her kids. Oops! We went to a 4:30 matinee of a kids’ movie. Seems like it wasn’t completely out of line, but we did apologize. She just didn’t accept our apologies. :)

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Then on Friday, I started round 2 of Carmaggedon. I added a few hours to the trip to be able to go get in a quick visit with the Cornwells. On Friday, we drive the quick 5 hours to Indianapolis.

7/19: Carmaggedon Update 1: My goal was to be on the road by 9am. We pulled out of the driveway at 8:50. I think this is proof that it’s James that always makes us late. I get 2 points for that. Me – 2; Kids – 0.

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7/19: Carmaggedon Update 2: Kids gain 2 points. One for Nathan being a general crank. The other for Emma just being cute in the following exchange:

Me: Girls, look! We just crossed into Indiana! That’s where they live.

Emma: Awa we close?

Me: About 2 more hours.

Emma: WOW! That’s not long at all! I can’t wait to see my goylfwiends Weagan, Wiley and Weese!

(for Reagan, Riley and Reese)  

7/19: Carmaggedon Update 3: A well deserved point for the kids (and McDonald’s for that matter) for the Despicable Me toys that have me contemplating selling them. (The kids. Not the toys.)

Me – 2; Kids – 3

7/19: Carmaggedon Update 4: We made it!! A fairly uneventful 5 hour drive , so I’ll give myself one more point for that. Me – 3; Kids – 3.

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We swam, had pizza, had a wonderful dessert Reagan made, and then settled the kids down for a movie while Paul and Lori introduced me to Carcassonne.

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7/20: Carmaggedon Update 5: Day 2 of 3, and we’re on the road by 7. Mountain time, that is. :) 9 here. Here’s the silly face version of my crew and one more point for me for not choosing to leave them at the Cornwells and buy a plane ticket home.

Me – 4; Kids – 3.

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7/20: Carmaggedon Update 6: Kids get 2 points. One for Emma managing to not use the restroom AT ALL this morning before we left, and one for Ellie losing her headphones again. In a car.

Me – 4; Kids – 5.

7/20: Carmaggedon Update 7: 3 more points for me! One for the nap depicted below. (I could just eat him up.) One because the girls opted for another quick snack lunch. And 1 for the “foot high” pie I found at a roadside cafe. Chocolate. Yum. I’ll regret it later. But for now, I’m giving myself a point for it!

Me – 7; Kids – 5.

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7/20: Carmaggedon Update 8: Dang. Just like that, the kids get a point as the girls managed to wake Nathan up not 20 minutes into his nap. I am not a happy Momma. Praying he’ll go back to sleep. (And yes. Of course I’ll take another point if he does. Maybe 2!!)

Me – 7; Kids – 6.

(P.S. He didn’t.)

I then randomly passed the Wheel of Fortune truck! I posted: I’m pretty sure I need to follow them and demand to be a contestant at their next taping. I was hoping to catch a glimpse of Vanna in the passenger seat. But alas. She’s probably in the back napping.

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7/20: Carmaggedon Update 9: I think Nathan is playing his own game with a point system to see how many of his pants I’ll be forced to throw away. Score another one for him.

Me – 7; Kids – 8.

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7/20: Carmaggedon Update 10: I’m about 3 diapers short of what I’m going to need for this trip. It’s raining, so I went with what the gas station had. Apparently, they’re not familiar with my pants-ruining son. I think Julie is right that Nathan automatically wins, but I’ll keep up the ruse for a few more hours.

Me – 7; Kids – 9.

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7/20: Carmaggedon Update 11: I tried to think ahead and make things easier on myself for this trip, so I got one of those reusable bags and put one days' worth of clothes and our toiletries in it for our hotel night. The handle on the bag broke on the way to Detroit. So, I put the bag in an Olive Garden to go sack with handles for the way home. This just happened. So, this point is less for the kids and more against me.   

Me – 7; Kids – 10.

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7/21: Carmaggedon Update 12: Slept well and had a good breakfast. About to finish our last 5 hours. Dear God, I know what a miracle I’m asking for.. But Nathan’s shorts. I’m begging you. I don’t have any more that aren’t on the bottom. So. Please. Amen.

Me – 8; Kids – 10.

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7/21: Carmaggedon Update 13: I don’t even have any words.

Me – 0; Nathan – 1000.

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And just like that, Carmaggedon is over! We’re home, and James got home to greet us shortly after we arrived. Thanks for joining me on my crazy (and shall we say overly poop-filled) journey. I must say, it wasn’t that bad. I would do it again if I had to. But not until I’ve had my spa weekend.

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sunflower House – Before and After

As many of you know, we worked on our house for about 6 weeks solid to get it updated and ready for our family of 5. As with any house, there’s always more we’d like to do, but we got a lot done in a compressed amount of time, because….well….we’re crazy. We also had a lot of great help. Here’s the day we closed.

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Master Bedroom:

Here’s the before and after. As you can see, the carpet was particularly in need of replacement.

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And my closet and shoe rack:

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Master Bathroom:

We didn’t change much here other than the paint and the staining of the cabinet. We hope to maybe get to a remodel on this someday.

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Nathan’s Room:

I know, I know. We should have just left it like it was. We don’t have a complete photo of the new version, but it’s about the same as before other than a new valance and the gray wall color.

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Craft Room / Guest Room / Office:

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Girls’ Room:

In the after photo, the window is on the wall left of the camera.

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Stair Well:

This photo emphasizes all the trip painting I did. :)

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Front Room:

This is the room just to the left when you walk in the door. We’re not exactly sure what to do with it. It’s a good conversation room, and we also may put a small pool table in it. We’ll see. Our family computer is there to the right also.

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Dining Room:

I especially love the light fixture we replaced in here which we of course got from Craigslist.

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Kitchen:

We did a lot in here. We replaced all of the appliances, we gel stained the cabinets and replaced the hardware, and we of course painted. There’s also a big double bi-fold door to the left of the second before photo that had the washer/dryer before. We had it moved down into the basement (I would have preferred upstairs, but there was no space. We made a huge pantry out of the space instead, which I love.

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Hardwood Floors:

We worked really hard on these, too. They were in bad need of refinishing, and we were really happy with how they came out. We had to do each coat of stain and poly as we went to bed each night so that we wouldn’t walk on it. It’s in a main thoroughfare of the house.

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Living Room:

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Basement (Playroom and Media):

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Deck / Back Yard:

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We’re so grateful to be here and to be living in our lovely little piece of Colorado.