June 30, 2009

Home is Where Your Family is

Here's our home sweet home these days:

Very comfortable accomodations, dontcha think? Jason and I take the east wing for our private quarters; Caleb has the west wing. We have no carriage, no horses, hardly any servants, and keep no company. Only conceive how comfortable we can be! (name that movie) :) And don't forget: this lovely trailer comes fully equipped with a fenced-in yard and dirt pit:

See how happy this little boy is? He hasn't been clean since we arrived. We can't pull, yank, or beg him out of this pit. It's his pit. His domain. His kingdom. Heaven help the person who tries to bring him inside for lunch or naptime.

Who are these two wiley characters? Caleb's new best friends and partners in crime Willy and Buck. Aka, the dogs. :)

Today we made our first family trip. This is Joseph Whidbey State Park. (There are literally dozens of state parks around here. . . this is only the beginning). Jason and I took Caleb here this morning. No one else was around; we had the place to ourselves.

Isn't it beautiful? Peaceful, too.

My guys thought so, too. I've never seen Jason so happy (ok, well, maybe that's not entirely true, but lemme tell ya, my husband is thrilled to be here. It shows.)

Here we are. Washington. Our first day. The Lord gave me these verses last Thursday before we left on our three day haul north, and they have reverberated in my heart and mind ever since:
"The Lord has done this and it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."
Psalm 118:23-24
Blessings to you all this fine Tuesday evening. :)

June 29, 2009

In Which She Takes a Big, Deep Breath

Hey everyone! Sneaking a few minutes on the lap top while Caleb naps. . .

Gosh, where do I begin? My mind has not fully registered the fact that I live in Washington now. It feels like we've come up to spend the summer. A vacation. Not a life. A whole new life. So instead of trying to comprehend this amazing, enormous change, I'm taking it slow. Last night, I drove to Wal-Mart and back without getting lost. Today I'm doing laundry and putting our clothes away in the chest my mother-in-law has so graciously provided.

Slow changes. Slow days. Hopefully, my mind will catch up soon.

Our three day drive was long, but uneventful. We spent around 10 hours in the car each day (including stops), spent one night in northern California and one night in central Oregon. Caleb was a real trooper and I praise God my son behaved himself so well. He napped, played with his menagerie of plastic animals, watched movies on the laptop, and chattered away like a monkey when the mood for verbosity descended. My mom and Harry were a HUGE help. We all took turns driving, navigating, and babysitting. On our last day, Mom and I read from a tour guide book about all the state and national parks we passed. We saw Mt. Shasta, Mt. Hood, Mt. Saint Helens, and Mt. Reineer. We saw deer and bison, fields of rice and fields of sunflowers, trees and more trees. We drove through Los Angeles, Sacremento, Portland, Olympia, Tacoma, and Seattle. We saw no rain, but lots and lots of rivers.

Boy, we were glad to finally get here! :) Three days is a loooong time to spend in the car; I don't care WHAT kind of snacks you have. But we did enjoy seeing so much of the Pacific Northwest. Jason and I are working on a list of day and weekend trips we want to make; there's so much to see here! But more on that later.

Jason has a job interview!! Already!! He got the phone call this morning, and next Tuesday he goes in. It's an IT job here on the Island, working for a bank. Getting a job is the next step for us as a family. Once Jay has employment, we can find a place of our own. But employment is tricky; Jason could find work closer to Seattle, but we'd kinda like to stay on Whidbey, or close by. So we're praying, real hard, that God would make our path clear. Do we stay here, closer to his family and in an area we love, or do we go where jobs are more plentiful?

Mom and Harry left this morning. They were my last good-bye, my last piece of California. They might come back toward the end of the summer. Depends on when and where Jason finds work. And they are definitely coming for Christmas. :) :) I'm not thinking that far ahead right now, though. The immediate future has me organizing the trailer where we now live, helping prepare food for the family, getting Caleb back into a routine, and the like.

Pictures will come, I promise. I need to find my feet and that may take some time. There's no denying we live in one of the most beautiful places on earth. I've only ever read about places like this; I can't believe I actually live in one now. God is very good. All the time. :)

June 28, 2009


We're here!!!

We arrived last night, and as you may imagine, we're all pretty tired today. Mom and Harry fly back to Cali tomorrow, so my in-laws are busy showing them the island today. :) I sit outside writing this and it's probably not even 70 degrees. Caleb is busy making friends with Buck and Willie, the dogs, and digging around in the dirt pit Grandpa Neuhauser put in for him. :)

The yard is fenced. Completely enclosed. And I'm lovin' it. :) So is Caleb.

And there, my friends, I shall leave you. This is short, I know, and I have much more I want to say. But exhausted as I am, I fear I would make no sense and all you would hear would be a bunch of gibberish like:

"Ugly central California is" and "got many trees Oregon" and "huge Mt. Reineer" and "I'm glad my in-laws love me."

See? No sense whatsoever. :)

A longer posty-thing to come. Iz promise.

June 25, 2009

Washington, Here I Come!

Hey ya'll! Twelve days have flown by and I find myself sitting here, propped up against the wall with two pillows because we have no more chairs to sit in. We have no furniature at all, really. What a weird feeling, to feel homeless in your own home. ;)

This is my last post from California. We leave later this morning in a 16-foot truck and a Chevy Cavalier. Our whole life is packed up between the two, deconstructed and collapsed and stored away like a pop-up book. Everything bit of paper has a place and fits snuggly together as the book closes.

I don't know why I'm awake at 6am. We had such a loooooong day yesterday. Maybe I just don't like sleeping on floors. Haven't done that in a while.

I don't like good-byes, either. I have done a lot of those recently, and I've decided I'm allergic to them. They make my eyes tear up and my nose all swollen. They make my face red. Yuck!

So for the sake of my newly discovered allergen, I will not be saying good-bye (achoo!) here. That's the nice thing about the Blogosphere. There are no good-byes (sneeze!) here. And for that, I'm very thankful.

SO, I promise to post when we get to Washington, if not sooner. (Depends on the internet capability of the hotels we stay in along the way). I'm super-excited to make this drive, because it will be so so so beautiful. Don't worry, I'll be taking pictures along the way, too! :)

Well, the boys are stirring, so I best get going. Later, ya'll!!! See you in WA!

June 15, 2009

Now We Shall See What God Will Do, pt. 2

I sit here tonight utterly amazed by my Lord.

Most of you know by now, through Facebook and email, that Jason and I have decided to move to Washington. We decided this over the weekend, while we were busy anniversary-ing.

Our weekend away came at precisely the right moment. God knew. He knew we would need this last weekend to be away and be alone. To have uninterrupted time for talking. To have plenty of time to think. Time for quiet. Time for rest. Time for plenty of Law & Order reruns. ;)

Our weekend was pretty darn close to perfect. Exactly what we needed. God knew.

He knew, as we did, that when we came back home, we'd be entering the hurricane. There won't be much time for rest or quiet these next few weeks. Heck, I'm not even sure there'll be enough time to sleep.

I feel like I'm on a Star Trek episode. You know, where the Cardassian ship (or Romulan, or Klingon - choose your villain) destroys all the defenses of the Starfleet ship and then demands surrender. The Starfleet captain stalls by asking for 12 hours to evacuate the ship. Then the Cardassian captain says in a deadly serious tone, "You have one hour." I feel like that.

God told us to move to Washington. We said, "Ok God, we'll go! When should we leave? Maybe in a month? Maybe two?" And God says, in a serious tone that betrays a slight smile at the corner of His mouth, "You have twelve days."

Except of course that I don't see God as a villain. Forgive me for my poorly constructed metaphor. It made more sense in my brain than it does on paper. Ok, so maybe Law & Order wasn't the only TV show we watched this weekend.

Seriously friends, I'm taking deep breaths every five minutes or so. I must be insane. Who else tries to move across two states in less than two weeks? With a toddler? Without a husband home to help pack??? We must be insane, crazy, loco. Something this nuts couldn't possibly be from God.

Unless you consider that my Mom, instead of breaking down in tears and screaming at me "How could you?!" sat calmly when she heard our news and with eyes full of love and just a bit of dampness, asked "How can we help?"

That was God.

Unless you consider that we have just enough money in our bank account to pay for the move up to Washington, where Jason's parents have graciously allowed us to stay with them indefinitely and rent-free while Jay finds a job.

That was God, too.

Unless you consider that my husband was totally and completely against moving to Washington until Thursday night, when he stayed up till four in the morning, praying and contemplating and having his heart changed. When I woke up Friday morning, I found a different man waiting for me in the livingroom with the laptop on his knee and something he wanted to talk to me about.

That one was all God.

Unless you consider that, busy and crazed and chaotic as the last few days have been, I feel peace about our decision. That I've wondered a thousand times "Are we out of our minds???" but never once second-guessed our plans. We know, somehow, that we are doing the right thing. I couldn't prove it to you. Only time will do that. We just know. And that is God, too.

June 12, 2009

Do We Even Remember How to Be "Just the Two of Us"? (or Anniversary pt. 2)

"I now pronounce you man and wife!"
(five years ago today)

Funny how time slips away from you. Especially when you're in love.

This weekend we are going away to celebrate our anniversary. We haven't done that since our honeymoon. Well, we haven't stayed in a hotel room since our honeymoon. Unless you count the hostel in Peru, where we stayed with seven other people. Which I don't.


Just like our honeymoon, my mom is paying for this trip, too. One of God's many blessings to us in the midst of hard times. She and Harry are watching Caleb for us all. weekend. long. We've never left him overnight before. Another first.

Which seems to fit somehow.

Well, we're off to Hawaii! Catch ya'll later!

(Just kidding about the Hawaii part; I couldn't resist ;)

June 11, 2009

To the Ladies in Lavender (or Anniversary, pt.1)

Five years ago today, five girls got into some mischief. Some delightfully funny mischief.

Five years ago today, these five girls went to see Shrek 2 in theaters. They ate Mexican food and got pedicures. Fingers were french-tipped; toes were painted a lovely shade of lavender. Later, after toilet-papering the SUV, they gave each other facials. These were some very silly girls.
And the next day, which would be five years ago tomorrow, one of the girls got married.

Five years is a long time. I consider myself blessed to still be friends with all five of my bridesmaids. To still know them, call them, email them, and on rare but happy occasions, see them.
Here's the lovely lady who flew out from Wisconsin and wore a dress a shade darker than all the rest. Lindsay was my maid of honor five years ago; she remains, as she was then, my best friend and big sister. She was also there for my 21st birthday and college graduation in 2006. We met in New York on our way to Northern Ireland many eons ago, and while we barely saw each other during that trip, God started something special then that has lasted.

This lovely lady was my partner for Musical Theater class, my unofficial roommate at Point Loma, and the only other person with whom I speak binary. We've played WoW together, fought together, cried together. And dang, we take some good pictures together, too! Many people have commented that we look like sisters and that suits us just fine.

Melody was my first (and last, ha!) roommate at Point Loma. She was also the first to know when I got pregnant with Caleb (it's a long story). We kept fish in our dorm room, though we routinely killed them, and once in a while we did each other's dishes (assuming, of course, the mold hadn't completely taken over. In that case, we just threw the dishes away). She has the most beautiful smile and the most giving personality of anyone I know, and she loves being one of Caleb's honorary aunts.

Wendy has spent more time in Africa than the United States these past two years, so I don't get to see her much. She sends Caleb toys made by the Burundi people she works with. She was briefly my roommate at Point Loma (for a semester, until she ditched me for Thailand -- I'm still not over that). She gets real silly late at night, making up songs and weird names for people, like Nicachie Ha-Swanya Tunga. :)

This last lovely lady became my sister-in-law the day I married Jason. She was my friend before I even knew Jason existed, and was there to encourage us both as we developed our relationship. I believe she knew I'd be a Neuhauser before I did! I love her humor and admire her strength and wish dearly that we lived closer.

To these five amazing women, I just want to say thank-you. You've added many smiles and much laughter to my life. I'm so glad you all agreed to share that day with me, five years ago. It wouldn't have been the same without you.

June 9, 2009

Belgium Waffle Days

I originally wrote this for my church newsletter two years ago. I think it bears repeating, though, because I find myself with Belgium waffles often these days. And what I wrote then still challenges me today.

I have a culinary confession to make.

I hate Belgium waffles.

At least, I don’t like the kind they serve at restaurants. I ordered waffles on the menu once; out came the waitress ten minutes later with my breakfast, full of squares the size of asteroid craters. Another ten minutes passed before I could butter each individual hole. Then I spent an extra five minutes trying to pour an adequate amount of syrup over them. By then my waffle, all the way from Belgium, was cold. And soggy.

I never ordered them again.

Now I do like frozen waffles. The kind you put in the toaster. This particular variety has much smaller, more manageable holes. Butter spreads easily over the squares and I don’t have to worry about drowning them in syrup. Breakfast with frozen waffles is quick, easy, and satisfying. And if you can find them with chocolate chips already baked in, well! You can avoid the syrup nightmare entirely.

I wish God shared my views on breakfast. When He is serving up the circumstances of my life, I wish He would remember that I don’t like to work for my food. I want my patience to spread easily. I don’t want too much conflict poured over my life.

Wouldn’t it be great if every day could be a frozen waffle day?

But alas! Even when God is the Chef of your life, Belgium waffles happen.

A close friend betrays your trust. Your four-month-old spends the day inconsolable unless you’re holding him. Dinner burns on the stove. Unexpected insurance bills arrive in the mail. Your temper causes an unpleasant fight with your spouse.

Some Belgium waffles are our own making. Others are outside our control. But whether large or small, conflict is the price we pay for our mistake in Eden, so long ago. Jesus very wisely warned us “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). But thankfully the verse doesn’t end there. He completes this discouraging thought with hope: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Jesus also promises a way to stomach the Belgium waffles that come into our lives: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). When conflict is on the menu, Jesus promises us a side of Grace and an extra helping of Power to get us through the difficult situation.

Translation? We never eat alone.

Whatever waffles are on our menu for today, Christ is there, sitting across the table, helping us to accept them and digest them. He is, after all, the Master Chef and Master Physician. Nothing is put on our plate without His approval.

June 4, 2009

Good-Bye, Azeroth!

The Lord has been in the business of opening and shutting doors lately. He's quite the doorman, let me tell you. One of the doors recently closed was my portal to World of Warcraft, a game that I have been part of for over two years.

Yep, I've given up WoW.

Someone pinch me.

The decision to leave was bittersweet. I felt the Lord urging me to quit for months now, but how do you say good-bye to friends you've met, gotten to know, laughed with, and battled monsters with for two years?

Actually, deciding to cancel my account wasn't that hard. Logistically, anyway. Jason stopped playing in March, and somehow Azeroth wasn't as much fun without my gnome mage husband. I wanted to spend more time with Caleb, and maybe plan some fun art projects with him. I also wanted to pursue new hobbies, such as baking.

At the same time, over the last few months I've looked for full time work, been house-hunting, and taught Korean kids 8 hours a week. Life's been full. Busy. Not conducive to the playing of WoW.

The decision to leave the game behind seemed logical. Honestly, I haven't played much since April, only logging in now and then to check my mailbox. And with everything going on in our lives, I haven't missed it much.

Except that WoW isn't a game you play by yourself. It's a society, a culture all its own. It involves hundreds (millions, actually) of other people who you get to interact with in a fantasy world setting. And some of these people have become my friends.

This might sound funny, but I have lots and lots of memories attached to WoW. Inside jokes that only Legendary (our guild) players would understand. Late Friday nights spent in the haunted halls of Kharazan, battling the ever-infuriating Shade of Aran. Silly escapades into the obscure regions of Kalimdor in quest of a rare pet. Helping fellow guildies out with dailies and rejoicing with them as they reached level 70, then 80.

I introduced two of my best friends to WoW. They both still play.

Hopefully, you begin to see why this choice wasn't so easy.

I'm no good at good-byes.

But the Lord was in this; as He nudged the door closed, I gave Him permission to shut it and felt His peace that it was the right choice.

The door isn't locked, though. My toons still exist. If I wanted to, at some point in the future, I could reinstate my account. Imara, Ilyssa, and Ijandra would be waiting for me, right where I left them. So would my guild.

But honestly, I'm looking forward to life without WoW. To exploring the possibilities of RL (real life). There's a whole world out here, outside of Azeroth and Outlands. And I've only scratched the surface of what could be. :)

So good-bye, World of Warcraft! I bear you no ill will, and pray the rain falls in Duskwood, the snow in Icecrown, and that level 30s may always curse Stranglethorn Vale for the death trap that it is!

June 2, 2009

Good Friends Make the Heart Thankful

Today I'm thanking Jesus for friendship.

(And no, Ashleigh does not have purple hair . . . camera goof or something . . . this picture was taken in February, not yesterday).

Yesterday, I spent the day with Ashleigh and her boys; she had very hospitably offered to let me use their washer and dryer (since we have neither), so up the 5 I drove with two baskets of dirty clothes and one excited little boy.
'Course, laundry was just the cover. We really just wanted to hang out, eat ice cream, and read women's magazines from the 50s and 60s while our boys napped simultaneously. ;)
'Course, we talked a lot too. About life, and God, and the crazy fact that we've been married for almost five years. Cuh-ray-zee!
Somewhere on the drive home, I realized how blessed I am to have friendship in my life. It's not a right or a commodity; it's a gift. One you don't always deserve and one you sometimes take for granted. I'm thankful today for all the wonderful women I count as friends in my life. Some live close by, some live far away. Some I've never met in person. But each is priceless and precious.
Thank you, Jesus, for each and every one.