The ramblings of a woman,
wife, & mother, who loves:
Jesus / my man / the three,
learning about parenting /
mamahood / childbirth,
cooking foods healthy /
international / yummy,
pretending to garden /
write / design,
attempting to run /
exercise / lift weights,
enjoying traveling /
camping / adventures,
finding ways to love /
serve / sacrifice for others.

It is not to say she does these things
with style or grace, or even skill.


How did God protect us?

February 24, 2010 - 10:00 PM

While I would love our kids to take everything I say as their own, it is exciting to watch them learn to form their own opinions and come to their own conclusions from the stories they hear, their own circumstances and the surroundings around them.  One of the topics they have been mulling over lately is coincidences, especially as we read various missionary stories during our days, and tonight spoke directly to coincidence.

The three were being babysat at a friend's house until before/near 6.  At 6:02* and running late, Josh and I walked into the house to find the mom holding her sweet little guy of 10 months old, asking me if my kids had ever had a seizure before, taking his temperature, the dad on the phone, our three and their other two trying to tell us what is going on.  "This happened like two minutes ago!" Max exclaimed.  The paramedics were on their way, the police had just shown up, and Josh I and took the 5 kids downstairs. 

We gathered our three and their two and we all kneeled and prayed for the little guy, his mom and dad, and the EMT's.  After a while, word came our way that the little guy was ok and didn't need to go to in the ambulance.  We again all kneeled and this time, thanked and praised God for protecting little guy and keeping him safe.  Little guy looked much better now and the doctor said they could wait until morning to go in.  Again, praise God!

So tonight, before bed, as we were talking about what to pray for, one of which being sweet little guy of course, I also added thanking God for protecting all of us tonight.  "How did God protect us?" 

"Don't you think it is interesting it happened only two* minutes before we got there?  And the dad had gotten home from work just before it happened?" 

"Yeah... little guy was fine the whole time we were there." (Since 3:30 mind you.)

"What do you think it would have been like if it had happened earlier?" 

"That would have been CRAZY with us 5 kids running around and all those officers and the EMT's!... ... ... Huh?..."

I could honestly hear the gears turning... he was processing all the events he had bore witness to, how they all happened in a specific way, and how if they had happened differently it would've been "crazy." 



*2 minutes is just the number Max gave us.  This is the same guy who thinks 10 minutes feels like 2 minutes.  And in all the excitement there and coming home, I still don't really know how all the events transpired before we showed up, but it was enough to make my guy go, "Huh."  Coincidence?

Delicious Chicken Salad!

February 22, 2010 - 10:00 AM

This is a recipe I found on  The first time I made it was when we were on vacation; I used pouchs of cooked chicken and I served it on buns.  It was very flavorful and surprisingly easy for vacation.  The second time I made it I grilled fresh organic chicken breasts seasoned with s & p & garlic & oregano, then diced it up.  While it took a little longer to prep, it was incredibly juicy and well worth the extra time.  Also, this last time I used GF ingredients for the sauce, all natural ingredients or organic.  I substituted agave for all the sugars mentioned and I used a GF Szechwan sauce instead of the garlic/red chile paste.

Now, I know some who don't eat soy because either you don't like soy or are allergic to soy.  For those who don't like soy, thankfully the chicken itself is stir fryed in only 2T of soy sauce & there is only 2T of soy sauce in the special sauce, so it is limited you could remove it.  (Though sadly it'd be missing out since the sauce is delicious with the soy sauce.)  But, if you are allergic to soy, or really don't want to cook with soy, you can talk with our friend Leslie who knows how to make soy sauce without soy; she is amazing!

I hope you enjoy it!

P.F. Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps!

Peeling Back the Scales

February 21, 2010 - 6:00 AM

When we were kids, my dad worked late and my mom would make dinner for us early (I assume because we were like my kids are now and STARVING by 5) but she'd then wait to eat her dinner with my dad when he came home.  So while we were eating, she would read us short stories, novels, or daily devotionals for kids.  It was during these times that my mom introduced us kids to The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis.

The most vivid images I had during those stories were when she read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and the story of Eustace, him being turned into a dragon and then the process of him shedding his dragon scales.  Of all the stories in all the Chronicles, that story has stuck with me the most over the years.

This image popped back into my head recently as I have been thinking about where I am at right now in a specific area.  I feel like Eustace and "I" have just begun to peel off the layers myself but it isn't working, so I'm about to lie down...


"'So I started scratching myself and my scales began coming off all over the place.  And then I scratched a little deeper and, instead of just scales coming off here and there, my whole skin started peeling off beautifully, like it does after an illness, or as if I was a banana.  In a minute or two I just steeped out of it. I could see it lying there beside me, looking rather nasty.  It was a most lovely feeling.  So I started to go down into the well for my bathe.

'But just as I was going to put my feet into the water I looked down and saw that they were all hard and rough and wrinkled and scaly just as they had been before.  Oh, that's all right, said I, it only means I had another smaller suit on underneath the first one, and I'll have to get out of it too.  So I scratched and tore again and this under skin peeled off beautifully and out I stepped and left it lying beside the other one and went down to the well for my bathe.

'Well, exactly the same things happened again.  And I thought to myself, oh dear, how ever many skins have I got to take off? For I was longing to bathe my leg. So I scratched away for the third time and got off a third skin, just like the two others, and stepped out of it.  But as soon as I looked at myself in the water I knew it had been no good.

'Then the lion said - but I don't know if it spoke - 'You will have to let me undress you.' I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now.  So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

'The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart.  And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt.  The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off.  You know - if you've ever picked the scab of a sore place.  It hurts like billy - oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.'

'I know exactly what you mean,' said Edmund.

'Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off - just as I thought I'd done it myself the other three times, only they hadn't hurt - and there it was lying on the grass; only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been.  And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been.  Then he caught hold of me - I didn't like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I'd no skin on - and threw me into the water.  It smarted like anything but only for a moment, After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that the pain had gone from my arm.  And then I saw why. I'd turned into a boy again. You'd think me simply phony if I told you how I felt about my own arms.  I know they've no muscle and are pretty mouldy compared with Caspian's, but I was so glad to see them.'"

pg. 108-110, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C.S. Lewis, Harper Collins Publishers 1952

Rules of Order - Applied to the

February 20, 2010 - 6:00 AM

If only two things are certain in life, death and taxes, then I think I need to apply my same rules of order to taxes as I did flying/death.  Only taxes can send me into as big a tizzy that is comparable to flying/death.


It will start simply once again - God is good and He works all things for good, even if Josh and I have the unthinkable happen.  God would still work it for best.  And while I would be crushed to have something bad happen, I am trusting that God will work even that painful idea for good.  God works all things for good for those who love God and are called according to His good purpose. Romans 8:28

Then I'll jump to prayer for our two preparers - their skill and wisdom, their honesty and integrity, too.  I will pray for alertness, decision making, whatever I can think of for them (they are a he and a she).  Our preparers will be totally covered in prayer.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests to God. Phil 4:6

I will meditate on our own destiny if the unthinkable happened, did we do everything right?  And no joke, I will go through it all, at least back the 7 or so years one says is typical - yes, we did it right.  But, but... in would come the thoughts as I would look back over the years, the distant past as well as the nearest.  I am certain we have made the honest and right choices... Thankfully, God knows I can't be perfect since the laws are always changing, that is why I need helpers.  Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:25*

Then I would pray some more and thank God for the safety thus far, and His goodness over our whole lives.  More prayer for Josh and the kids, for family and friends, and then back to our preparers again as we are now nearing April 15th.  Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thes 5:16-18

With a very thankful heart, I am hopeful to survive.  And there will be much rejoicing. Yeah.

Granted, each year is a risk.  There are always freak filings, unplanned disasters and random happening every day and each year requires a certain amount of faith to look forward to the next.  While yes, taxes do still cause my heart to beat faster, it also strengthens my faith and trust in God.  It is amazing that my faith in One that I cannot see strengthens me for the things I can see on paper.  And my faith in One that I know strengthens me for the things that are sometimes dreaded worse than death.

Drat!  Once again, I forgot about the singing and communion!

*Yeah, I totally took that out of context.

Church in the Sky

February 19, 2010 - 6:00 AM

When I was in college, we flew once a year, and even after the plane incident on our way to New Orleans, we still flew, across states and across oceans for fun and for school.

Somewhere after being married and after having kids, something happened - maybe it was having kids, maybe it was 9/11, maybe it was simply anxiety, maybe it was the fear of physical pain, whatever it was - I do NOT like flying anymore.  When Josh and I went to New York a year ago, I had the hardest time flying.  I was anxious the entire time, my heart was racing, I was a mess, I was in tears... it. was. ridiculous.

However, I was excited for our trip alone to San Francisco two weekends ago as a test flight for me. 

See, we are planning on taking our whole family overseas this summer - in a plane.  I don't want to be all freaked out on the plane because: 1. If I freak out, the kids'll freak out and 2. If I freak out, Josh will freak out. 3. The kids just may be freaking out, in which case I definitely can't freak out.  My test flights (the 4 take offs and landing to and from San Francisco) were, as Josh coined, like having my own personal church services in the sky.

sky church

Mind you, this was all in my thoughts but still they each started out simply and the same - God is good and He works all things for good, even if Josh and I died on the plane.  God would still work it for best for our kids.  He knows what they need, even without us, they would be fully protected and loved by God himself.  He would meet their needs through just the right people, He would have a plan for them.  And while I would be crushed to have our kids grow up without us, I was trusting that God would work even that painful idea for good.  God works all things for good for those who love God and are called according to His good purpose. Romans 8:28

Then I jumped to prayer for the pilots - taking off and landing the most, though definitely did it throughout the flight, too.  I prayed for his alertness, his skill, his decision making, his timing with other planes, whatever I could think of (yes, they were all he's).  Each pilot and his co-pilot were totally covered in prayer.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests to God. Phil 4:6

I would then meditate on my own destiny if I died today, did I know for certain?  And no joke, I went through it all.  Is there a God, yes.  Is the Bible true, yes.  If the Bible is true then, yes I am a sinner separated from God. If I am separated from God then somehow I need to be restored to God.  Was Jesus God's Son, yes.  Was Jesus the perfect sacrifice for my sins, yes.  Jesus died and was buried but on the third day, He rose!  If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead - you will be saved. Romans 10:8-10

But, but... in would come the doubts as I would look back over my life, the distant past as well as the nearest and know that I failed so much and so often along the way.  Even now I don't always make the right choices, I keep screwing up, I'm not always the best example for Christ and I'm not always the best at being in a relationship with Christ... But, but... God knows I can't be perfect, no one can, that is why I need Jesus.  There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  Romans 3:23-24  The wages of sin is death BUT the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus.  Romans 6:23

Then I would pray some more and thank God for the safe flight thus far, and His goodness over our whole lives.  More prayer for Josh and the kids, for family and friends, and then back to the pilots again as we were now nearing another landing.  Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thes 5:16-18

With a very thankful heart, we landed safely everytime.  And there was much rejoicing. Yeah.

Granted, each day is a risk.  There are always freak accidents, natural disasters and pain happening every day and each day requires a certain amount of faith to look forward to the next.  While yes, flying does still cause my heart to beat faster, it also strengthens my faith and trust in God.  It is amazing that my faith in One that I cannot see strengthens me for the things I can see.  And my faith in One that I know strengthens me for the things that are unknown.

However next time, as Josh says, I need to not forget about the singing and communion.

Hiking Straight Up in a Jewelry Box

February 18, 2010 - 6:14 AM

One of the amazing jewels in the San Francisco / Bay Area is the Muir Woods National Monument located incredibly close to the city, just across the Golden Gate Bridge, and only a (beautiful) 15-30 min drive north.  Hosting an "old-growth coastal redwood forest," I had read with Muir Woods it is best to go in the off-season & go after it had been raining; we nailed it on both accounts!



Trying to photograph the brilliance of the colors on the trees was impossible (though one with more skill than I could do it) and would prove the theme for the remainder of our time in Muir Woods - there are some things a basic camera with basic skills cannot do justice.  We simply could not capture on film how amazing and dense and imposing and colorful the Muir Woods are. You have to see it for yourself.

The redwoods were everywhere and they were amazing.  They grow in what are called "family circles," a series of 4, 5, 8, etc, trees all in a circle, and all towering high in the sky.  While these redwoods are not as wide as the giant sequoias found in Yellowstone, fitting cars through, they are an impressive 6-8 (maybe 10) feet in diameter.  Averaging 500 to 800 years old (the current oldest is 1200 yrs old), towering 200+ feet (the current tallest is 258'), some having half of their base missing due to wildfires - they are a sight to behold.



Thanks to a website, Trails, and talking with the ranger we found a good and short 4 mile hike that would allow us to see the ocean, too.  However, what both the ranger and Trails failed to mention was that the hike would be straight UP for the first 2.5/3 miles, like walking up 3 miles worth of stairs with 6 to 12 inch rises (I know that is cake for some, but with my foot, it was a workout!)! However, to make up for it, the entire journey up was in a beautifully dense, towering forest.

along trail

top of the mountain

The other side of the mountain was a clearing, with rolling hills and pines, on down to the coast and then the ocean... breathtaking.  The entire hike, the surroundings, the company, were refreshing to our bodies and souls.

Now originally when we were dreaming of where to go to celebrate our anniversary, we were planning on a hiking vacation to Costa Rica, Utah, or New Mexico/Arizona, somewhere warm.  (Part of our rationale was my entire spring and summer from last year was not "normal.")  However, due to this-that-and-the-other, we changed our plans to go on a whim wherever the cheapest plane fare would take us and San Francisco won.  Before leaving I didn't know how the San Francisco area would meet our hiking/nature expectations, but the Muir Woods (and the whole bay / coast area) made an amazing impression on me, it truly went above and beyond my expectations.

Cable Cars - The only way to ride!

February 17, 2010 - 6:50 AM

What famous icon do you think of when you think San Francisco?  Cable Cars!  The only moving National Treasure!

wikicommons cable car

Even though our hotel was right on the cable car line, we decided to walk the however many blocks to the start of the cable car system.  A cable car 1-way ride was $5 or a $13 1-day MUNI pass allowed unlimited rides on the cable cars, the street cars and the underground subway.  Since we had planned to use public transport the entire day, it was the 1-day pass for us and it was an amazing bang for our buck! 

We didn't know what to expect when we started at the beginning of the cable car line, but what we found was this:

This was our first glimpse at the cable cars up close; they are an amazing work of art and require a lot of skill to drive.  The drivers of a cable car are called a gripman.  (Due to the intense upper body strength needed to run the cable cars. And I should note, there has only been 1 female gripman in their history.)  The gripmen work incredibly hard to get the cars up and down the many, many hills, using a series of levers and brakes to make the car run smoothly.  There is a constantly moving cable running underground and the gripmen are using the levers and brakes and hanging on tight.  Each one of the gripmen we had was a character, too.  They had their own quirks of shouting or whistling or hooting along the route.  You could really tell they all took pride in their work, loved their job itself and their enjoyed working with their coworkers.

I was near the front when we began our first journey and, due to the temporary downpour, the roof leaked on my leg every time we went up a hill, which was A LOT (and I never realized that it's not just that one place is hilly in the city, but THE WHOLE city is hilly, all over and every which way, up and down, up and down!).  I did NOT care; I was having an amazing time!  This was by far the best way for anyone (tourist or native) to view the city of San Francisco!

We planned on jumping off at the end of the line at the bay but a couple blocks before the end our gripman shouted, "Lombard!" and we quickly jumped off and took a detour walking down famous Lombard Street. 

(Here you can enjoy our detour, too!)

(At Lombard we met a nice Scottish couple traveling on a cruise ship for 4 weeks en route to Australia.  :)!  Later that night we did end up driving down Lombard, you have no choice but to drive wicked slow.)

Even with the short detour, thanks the cable cars we were right down at the bay and got to see the water, Golden Gate and Alcatraz.  When the sun started shining and things started picking up at the piers we were easily able to find a cable car and jump back on to make our way back to downtown.  Once again, the cable cars were the perfect way to travel and see so many San Francisco sights!

It was during this time, going down a hill and around a corner, that our cable car got stuck.  The gripman may have ridden the brakes too much and it did not have enough momentum to round the corner.  The gripman got off the car and said to the men, "Gotta get off and push."  To which someone must have replied, "Really?"  To which our gripman replied, "You think I'm playin'? Put your ass into it!"  Josh did just that.

Throughout the rest of that day thanks to our day pass, we hopped on and off the cable car, jumped on and off street cars and had grand adventures on the underground.  We got to see a lot of the city from downtown to the piers to Chinatown to Castro to Haight-Ashbury to downtown and back and forth and back and forth.  Since San Francisco is also known for its atrocious parking issues, traveling the city via municipal transit is the only way to go!

cable car riding

Talar Neck Fracture - A Patient's Story

February 17, 2010 - 6:00 AM

So, you have an incomplete fracture in your talus bone.

Treatment of a talar fracture is incredibly important and should not be taken lightly.  If you have fallen, been in a car accident, had a sports injury, etc that has even the slightest possibility of involving the talus bone - take it incredibly seriously.  I would even go as far to say, if you have any injury with any part of your foot, from any accident - do not mess around.

The first thing I'd do is see an orthopedic surgeon.  If possible, and time allows, do research and find one that focuses on foot injuries or one that specializes in sports injuries (even if yours is not sports related).  Even if neither of those is available, still go to an orthopedic surgeon.

The second thing I'd do is to get a MRI.  They are more expensive than an x-ray, but severe fractures can be missed on an x-ray based on the complicated shapes and close proximity of the foot bones.  Getting a MRI from the start will show the entire foot from all angles and expose any hidden fractures.

The third thing I'd do is to get a plaster cast, not a removable cast.  While a plaster cast is not as nice as a removable one, it is crucial for healing of a talar fracture to not move, even the slightest.  Since this bone is the hinge of your foot, it is a tricky task to hold still.

The fourth thing I'd do is NOT walk on it.  Just don't do it.  Wait a minimum of 6 weeks, if not a full 8.  Whatever you do, don't rush it.  Foot fractures are not simple to heal.  In the event of any fracture, blood is key in the healing process.  In a perfect body the amount of blood flowing to the foot is actually minor.  With one fracture in a foot bone it is going to take time due to normal limited blood.  In the event of multiple fractures, the healing process is even longer due to the limited about of blood available for healing.  Be patient.

Breaking one's foot is not fun but hopefully by taking the right steps (ha!), it will heal and never again will you take walking for granted.

Now, my friends are probably wondering why I wrote all this out.  OY!  Josh asked me to write this a long time ago as something that someone (specifically a patient) could find on the internet if they typed these issues (talar neck fracture, talar fracture, talus bone fractures) into a search engine: Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.  I had been putting it off for so long, it seemed fitting to write it on the 1-year anniversary of when I broke my talus bone.

His/our reason for writing this is so we can give direction (via the internet) to patients just starting their own broken foot adventure.  That way, whomever they are can learn from what I went through:

broken foot feb 2009

For those who don't know - I broke my foot falling onto concrete one year ago today. I went to the podiatrist first and got x-rays.  He saw 2 incomplete fractures to my talus bone, one on the right side and one on the left, with a tiny bit of bone holding it together.  After 2.5 weeks in a removable cast, the podiatrist let me walk on it, even though it hurt.  After 8 weeks and me still in intense pain, he said he thought I had a talar dome lesion, but to keep an eye on it.  After 12 weeks and me literally crying while walking, he had me get a MRI.  The MRI showed a 3rd fracture to the neck my talus bone that got missed on the x-rays.  The podiatrist sent me to non-load bearing PT, prescribed inflammatory medicine and put me back in the removable cast. 

Thankfully/Finally, after all we had been through up until this point, this wasn't good enough for my husband.  He had my MRI results sent to an orthopedic surgeon for a second opinion.  The orthopedic surgeon he found, who specialized in foot and sports medicine, said if I had gone to him when this first happened he would have immediately put me in a plaster cast and had me not walk on it for a minimum of 8 weeks.  He then prescribed me to immediately stop PT because due to my fracture being on the neck of the talus, any movement at all was re-breaking the bone, causing continual micro-fractures.  He also had me stop all inflammatory medicines.  Since the foot already has a limited blood supply, I needed all the extra swelling and blood I could get down there to help heal the fracture.  He would have put me in a plaster cast right then but since I had already been in this ordeal for 3.5 months, he took pity on me and let me remain in the removable cast if I made sure to not bend my foot or walk on it for (another) 8 weeks.  After that, it was finally deemed "healed" (with the promise of pain for up to a year.  And yes, it still hurts, 1 year later.  It is my "new normal.") and I was able to go to PT and learn how to walk all over again.  The whole ordeal (only) took 6 months.

Again, the first three months of this injury we had researched every possible which way on the internet, trying to find answers or direction for fractures in the talus bone, then for talar dome lesions, etc.  Hard to believe, but nothing on the internet was giving us any real information or helping my pain.  It wasn't until we met with the orthopedic surgeon and were given more direction that we were able to know what was really going on. 

I know, I know, this is old news to my friends, so sorry. I'll go back to something completely differenter soon.

Ginormous... Really?

February 16, 2010 - 6:00 AM

A little while ago I told of Miriam and her blood covered alligator's mouth.  When I was typing her quote, I honestly did a double take at the word "ginormous."  I mean, it was actually the word she said, but I stopped because I was thinking, "What a silly word combo Miriam made up!"  Because believe-you-me, she has created some masterful name/word combinations in her little life.

Then a few days ago, Josh had written the word "ginormous" on something. I giggled and said, "You learned that from Miriam!  She totally made up that word."  To which he says, "No, it's a real word."


One entry found.


Main Entry: gi·nor·mous

Pronunciation: \ji-'n?r-m?s\

Function: adjective

Etymology: gigantic + enormous

Date: circa 1948

: extremely large : humongous"

From Merriam-Webster

Who would have guessed!  Turns out the word actually landed itself in the dictionary back in 2007.  According to this article from THE USA Today, it started showing up in print in 2000, even though it originates back to 1948.  

The first question in my mind is, "How did she know this was a real word and I didn't?"

My second question is, "How many more of what I think are Miriamisms, are truly words?"

pretty in pink

Indeed, I will think differenter about the words she uses next time.

Iowa folk in Chinatown

February 15, 2010 - 6:00 AM

One of the sights I have always really, really (and I mean, really!) wanted to see while in San Francisco was Chinatown.  Our first morning in the city we accidentally woke up at 5AM (7AM IA time), it was wet, it had been raining all night and was still lightly misting.  We grabbed 2 HUGE drinks from Starbucks and right across the street was the "main entrance" to Chinatown.

cheese and Chinatown

Maybe it was because I woke up at 5AM, maybe it was because it was now only 7AM, maybe it was because of the misting rain, maybe I was just undecided about everything, but standing there Josh asked me if I wanted to go in and I said, "Eh, no biggie either way."  Josh said, "We'll come back, you'll see."

After a round on the cable cars to the bay and back, it was now late morning and we jumped off near Chinatown.  This time we went in and I am SO, SO glad we did!  Everything about our visit there was PERFECT!  While I knew Chinese New Year was on the 14th, it turned out they started their celebrating this weekend.  The place was already hopping with stores busting out their front doors from the Saturday morning shoppers and now roads were being blocked off from traffic, and extra vendors were lining the narrow streets.

busy saturday

People, mostly elderly, were waiting in line for free containers of salt and boxes of pasta and coins.  Oranges, large and small, orchids, long leafy vegetables everywhere.  Smells of dried seafood, fresh seafood, even live seafood being sold from dripping suitcases on a street corner.  Delicious cooked food wafting out of every store we passed, not to forget the two huge, delicious smelling pigs walking down the street.  It was awesome! 

pigs a plenty

While in Chinatown we heard no English except when we happened into a non-Chinese place, this fancy, yet odd, little home decorations store.  We were wooed in by a huge, intricate carving out of an ivory tusk.  Two greasy looking guys sitting on a store couch greeted us, one in a suit and one with his hands in his pants.  They seemed annoyed that we were there but said we could go upstairs, after they said we couldn't.  Upstairs we found more carved ivory and mammoth tusks, ranging in price from $25K to $125K+.  We were heading down when a 3rd greasy guy approached us and aggressively said, "I'll give you a crazy deal on anything you like."  We're certain it was all a trick. ;)!

After that we wandered in and out of "grocery stores," the entrances to which were narrow, but they kept going back farther and farther.  One started off with an assortment of whole fish alive but out of water, chopped up bloody fish, intestines and the like.  A little further back there were frogs and large live fish swimming in tanks.  Further back, larger tanks with larger fish. Then a little stall that sold door locks.  Further still, live brown and white chickens  & quail in cages.  And then random storage, at which point we figured we should turn around.

fish a plenty

One of the things I really wanted to do was eat something, anything, in Chinatown.  We passed countless places with whole roasted chickens and ducks hanging in windows, dim sum, and again, grocery stores filled with food, though nothing was written in English.  I finally opted for an incredibly crowded place selling dim sum.  People were crammed into this small space, everyone was shouting at everyone else in Mandarin/Cantonese, food was going this way and that.  Josh wanted to leave but I was determined.  While I wanted to try a Chinese tamale, I couldn't see them and I didn't want to lose my place by dilly-dallying, something I felt just wouldn't bode well there.  I opted for dumplings because they were closest to me behind the glass.  I made it out with 3 dumplings for $1.40 and I was mighty proud of myself.  They were amazing! 


I am so glad I didn't opt out of going to Chinatown!  I only wished I would've braved going back to the dim sum joint for seconds, or tried something else.  *Sigh*  I will have to save that for next time.

Have to admit, it's getting better. Getting better all the time.

February 14, 2010 - 7:00 AM

10 years

Can you think back where you were 10 years ago and at the same time imagine where you'd be 10 years from then?

Back on November 27th, 2009, Josh and I celebrated 10 years of married life.  While this is peanuts compared to G-Bob & G-Elaine's 60+, it is definitely a lot of years in our short lives.  Every anniversary I reflect on something(s) that for one reason or another has stood out during the last year of our married life.  A couple years ago I said I wouldn't barf on you regarding our marriage.  With this year's "things" I may barf, but I'll try not to.

Every day this last year, I have looked at my husband in awe of how much my life is blessed through him and his life.  Seriously, wow!

I have been truly struck by how everything keeps getting better.  And I mean everything.  This simply blows my mind, but it is entirely true.  I am not saying we or our marriage is perfect, things are definitely screwed up in our world, but our relating to each other and everything else involved keeps getting better.

I am in awe of how much now, more than ever, I pray for my husband.  Prayer for him as a person, as a husband, as a dad, in ministry, in work... I mean, I thought I used to pray for him a lot, but this last year, whoa-dawg!  I am so thankful to have the Creator of the universe to talk to for and on my husband's behalf.

I am amazed how intricately we understand each other in ways we didn't when we were first married.  From the little things of me understanding that Josh never packs his luggage until moments before leaving town to Josh knowing exactly how to respond to me when I am crying.  It is more than those examples, of course, it is a deep oneness, being in sync in so many areas, and it is a beautiful thing.

I have also been so thankful for our honesty and openness over the years.  While hanging at the bar in the O'hare airport, we met two retired (and drunk) Canadian men (they were starting pint #7).  One gent, a retired correctional officer, was in the "I love you, man" phase, not about us, but about his wife of 25 years.  She was his third wife and the one he "got it right" with.  He said he did one thing different with this wife, his soul mate, he didn't do with the others, he was be totally honest about everything, from his hopes and dreams to the nitty gritty.  I am so thankful that: 1 - We did get it right the first time (Thank you, God!) and 2 - We have been honest and open since the start.

Last weekend, we happily told whomever we met, that our cause for celebrating was our 10 year 2 month 9 days of married life.  Every time we were met with a "Wow! Really?" (Though my favorite was, "You look too young to be married 10 years." Aw schucks!)  But I can't stress enough that this is a drop in the bucket.  We are incredibly thankful we have so, SO many awesome examples of our family members and friends who have gone before us, breaking 10, 16, 20, 30, 35, 44, 60+ years.  (Not to forget all the great examples coming behind us, too!)  True, we are not rare compared to those close to us, but that won't stop us from celebrating!

We are looking forward to the exciting adventure that the next 10+ years hold, the joys and the sorrows, the exciting and the mundane.  Marriage is a roller coaster because life is a roller coaster but it is totally worth it hanging on for the bumpy ride firmly committed to the one you love.


And the earth stood still.

February 13, 2010 - 6:00 AM

I was blog-hopping on random strangers' blogs, jumping blogs and links faster than their blog trackers could catch me, when I was stopped by a sadly familiar photo. It wasn't that I recognized anyone, it was more that I knew what had happened in the photo I was looking at - a dear mother's newborn who was still born.

It was almost 3 years ago that a dear friend of ours lost her baby girl in the final week of her pregnancy and had to deliver her as a still born.  I remember getting the call and everything about that day.  I immediately grabbed our three and squeezed them tight, refusing to let go. I continued to weep and wail for days as I ached for her and her family. 

Upon seeing this dear mother's photo on her blog my heart broke again... memories of our friend going through the same thing, memories of dear mothers I know who lost their babies due to genetic complications, memories of so many, so many, dear mothers I have known over the years who have miscarried, some of them multiple times.  My first wave of emotion was a broken heart for this dear mother I don't know and all the dear mothers I do know.

My second wave of emotion was remembering the feeling I had when I held our three close in my arms that day as I was in awe of what an absolute miracle birth is - the most absolute, purest sense of thankfulness that I have been given three precious, living children to hold in my arms. 

My third wave of emotion was sadness.  Sadness that I had lost sight recently of that second wave of emotion - the most absolute, purest sense of thankfulness that I have been given three precious, living children to hold in my arms.

Don't misread my words, I love our three and treasure them deeply, more than words can express, but as a stay-at-home mom it seems like our world never stops spinning, it slows down or speeds up, but never stops.  My sadness was God holding the earth still, just for me, to remind what I had recently lost sight of during the hardness in our daily normal grind. 

Just as Jesus always had to explain His parables to His disciples, God had been giving me hints but I totally missed the punchline. For example, watching my husband play basketball at the gym with the boys, I was struck by how much they love each other and what an amazing team they are.  Or as Miriam was bouncing around her gymnastics class, she caught my eyes for a split second, stopped, smiled, waved, and then continued bouncing.  I was struck by how perfect she is for our family and what absolute joy she brings to our lives.  As everything was slowing down, I was struck by how thankful I am for the blessings they are in my life.

But the earth didn't stop then.

The earth stopped after a normal day, a tough day, where the world was spinning fast, things were flying out of orbit, we were wobbling off axis... everything stood still.  The earth stopped as God reminded me that even in the hard, sometimes daunting, daily task of raising our kids to be influential in their generations, I should not get blinded or discouraged by the "hardness" but be reminded that in raising children, the joys and the hardness are both part of the blessings of having children.  When Paul called us to "Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say Rejoice," it includes times like these.  With a renewed sense of joy and peace, I have been finding myself rejoicing more than ever, as well as more thankful than ever that God has given us three amazing little people to love completely.  My soul as a mama is truly refreshed.  Praise God!!  :)!

For me, raising kids has always been as much about striving to shape and mold their characters, as it is God using them to shape and mold mine.  God knows we are all exactly what the other ones need. 

my cuties three

Thank you God, for stopping my world, to remind me once again to rejoice in all things and be encouraged for the new days ahead.  Thank you for these three amazing children, they are truly gifts from You, they are perfect for us, as we are perfect for them!

Iowa folk in Little Italy

February 12, 2010 - 6:00 AM

I mean, we're in San Francisco, surrounded by a bay and the big blue ocean - there HAS to be a good seafood joint.  We didn't want just any seafood joint, we wanted something offering a fresh catch, had some character, and we, once again, wanted to find a gem. 

Enter Yelp and Sotto Mare.

We were in Chinatown, enjoying appetizers, when we searched on Yelp for a seafood joint nearby.  It sent us to Little Italy/North Beach, just next door, and a place called Sotto Mare. 


It is a long and narrow restaurant with the kitchen filling one half and the seating the other.  There was a huge party taking up the back half of the seating when we first entered.  We were the only ones there who were not invited.  No worries, they were serving others, they just love hosting parties/gatherings every. single. day.  We happily sat at the bar where we were given a background story to Gigi, the owner.  We also were told the party taking up space today was being hosted by Gigi & friends, as they were planning a trip to Italy together.  (They took one last year to Greece.)

On Yelp, most of the comments were raving about the "cioppino."  Cioppino is a seafood dish native to the Bay Area, not Italy.  Never having had it or heard the story of it before, our waiter/host/great guy proceeded to tell us (one of) the tale(s) of how the original Italian fishermen who settled in the Bay Area had huge families and at the end of the day would go from boat to boat shouting, "Chip in!"  Each boat caught different fish and shellfish and they would contribute their leftovers into a huge vat that they would then use to serve all their families.  Hearing the story and after ordering some West Coast Oysters, we happily ordered the Cioppino.


While waiting for our food, the party people had brought out a map of Italy and laid it on a table.  They each took turns looking at it with a magnifying glass, pointing, laughing, planning.  At one point, Josh and I went over to the map, me showing him where I had lived and traveled while there.  Then we were joined by one of the party hosts and he filled us in on their exciting adventure they were planning.


Then our food came.  Seriously... It. Was. Amazing.  Filled with mussels, clams, crab, squid, maybe octopus and scallops, random fish, etc.  The sauce that it was cooked in was the most amazing sauce I have ever had.  It wasn't heavy or thick and it held each individual flavor perfectly, from the tomatoes to spices to a mild seafood stock.  If we could have just ordered bowls of the sauce on the side, or to go, we would have.  Wow.


Before leaving we were offered more food, sides of meat, cheese & bread, even though Gigi himself scolded us for eating too much and not bussing our own table.  But we didn't mind.  Eating out for us is as much about the experience as it is the food. 

Sotto Mare had it all!

The town that didn't want to be found.

February 11, 2010 - 12:00 PM

cali coast

One of our favorite pastimes as a couple is finding gem, hole-in-the-wall places, off the beaten track.  This is especially true when we are on vacation. And this is something I was really hoping for when we were driving along the California coast, (though at the same time figuring how heavily traveled the drive, it would be near impossible).

Enter the town that didn't want to be found.

Late afternoon we realized we had yet to eat lunch.  The towns located directly on the highway were busy and hopping with tourists.  I was using our handy-dandy iPhone map to locate other towns along our drive when I spied this little town buried on the end of a peninsula.  It was a little out of our way but figured we could give it a shot.  We didn't see any signs for it but thanks to the beeping blue dot and a quick, "Turn here!" we were going down a little road next to a nasty lagoon.  We came to a random assortment of handwritten signs, one of which telling us we were entering a "socially acknowledged, nature-loving" town.


The town itself was as wonderful as the handwritten sign.  The people were just living life as usual.  There were only 2 restaurants in town, an organic/locavore restaurant that was closed and the saloon, which was open.  The saloon was hopping with locals getting ready to watch the Superbowl.  They only served frozen then microwaved food, so we opted for some High-Life and french fries and settled in to watch the kick off of the game.  Within moments a guy walked in carrying a vat of stew and set it down on the table we were sitting at, "You should have waited to order those french fries," he says as he leaves to get his second round.  Within moments, everyone was coming up to get the stew and rice, of which we were invited to partake.  (It was delicious!)


Before leaving the town, and of course after watching an open exchange of doubie on the main street, we headed to the beach to touch the Pacific Ocean.  The beach entrance was covered in more handwritten signs, in essence, reminding people to be nice and to tell you that the toilets were by the tennis courts.  The beach was filled with determined wetsuit clad surfers enjoying high tide and the watchers buried in blankets on the shore.


The entire town was simply wonderful.  Outside of the 2 of us, there were only 2 other people in the whole town that were definitely not from those parts.  When we got home we researched the town, which was hard as well, and they definitely are the town that doesn't want to be found.  Within 24 hours of a new highway sign pointing to their town, the residents have it cut down.

However, if someone does happen to find their town, I don't think they mind the outsiders as long as they respect the environment, the atmosphere and aren't a jerk.*

*"Jerk" actually does refer to the one guy who was a jerk in their town and ended up in a reportedly bad situation.


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About Me and This Blog...

Begin Our Adventures of Fall/Winter 2012 to CA, MN, CO
   Ladies Trip to Napa Valley
   My Parents Rode in a Plane!

Begin Our Adventures of Summer 2012 to MN and CO
   Vacation to the North Shore and Cabin
   Boulder for the Summer
   Life in Boulder

Begin Our Adventures of Winter/Spring 2012 to UT
   The Drive to CO/UT Begins
   Vacation in Moab
   Living in Moab / Denver

Begin Our Adventures of Fall/Winter 2011 to CA
   The Drive to CA Begins
   Living in the SF
   Living in the Suburbs
   Coming Home to IC

Begin Our Adventures of Summer 2010 to Eastern Europe
   Life at Czech English Camp
   Travels in Germany & Austria
   Travels in Czech & Poland


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