Saturday, May 31, 2008


Whew! What a week it's been. It feels so nice to actually sit down and chill for a bit. We are officially moved in! The main living areas are pretty well set-up, but several of the rooms have a long ways to go! One day at a time . . .

This week has been very physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding. Though we didn't move far, we have said many goodbyes in the past two weeks, as my husband's job at the college is officially over, and then we cleared everything out of the house where I first learned to be a wife and a mom. Also this week, some dear friends of ours moved across the country, and their moving day was the same as ours. Saying goodbye was even more difficult when we were all tired and overwhelmed! In addition, we said tearful farewells to family members who made the long drive to help us make this new house a home. (Love you, Mom, Dad and Ryan!)

My thoughts, just like my personal belongings, are pretty scattered tonight. I just wanted to check in, and let you know I'll be around soon, leaving comments, responding to e-mails and getting to my growing list of topics to write about!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The dust is settling

You guys are the BEST! I really appreciate everyone who left encouraging comments, and let me know I'm not alone in feeling overwhelmed. Things have definitely gotten better. I think my expectations were definitely too high for that first walk-through, and everything has improved since then. What some of you have dealt with is way worse than the little things we dealt with, so thanks for offering some perspective!

Our new home is beautiful. It's a hundred years old and has gorgeous woodwork and a fabulous front porch. The main floor was move-in ready, which was a huge plus. Our two biggest projects (other than the obvious moving of stuff) have been painting the basement (previously dark wood paneling), which has now been transformed into a cheery blue playroom; and working on Nathan's room. His room previously had 5 layers of wallpaper, with the bottom layer being a musty mauve-colored plaster. Lovely! Extra thanks to Eric and crew for scraping for hours on that yukky stuff!

Today (Wednesday) will be our main re-location day, so it will be awhile now before I'll be able to write an update. We've actually used Nathan's wagon to do some of the moving, just as I joked about earlier, so I'll have to post a picture of that next week. Plus there will of course be some pix of the inside of the house. Thanks for sharing in our journey!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Nothin' but the truth

Note: this post was written over the weekend. We're in the thick of moving and appreciate your th0ughts and prayers! I'll check in when I can.

Friday evening was the last night in our house for just Eric, Nathan and me, since my parents arrived Saturday night. I made one of our favorite meals for dinner, calzones, and it was cold enough outside that Eric built a fire so we could enjoy that once more. We reminisced about the house (Eric lived here for several years as a bachelor and had a smattering of roommates during that time) and prayed for the family who will move in soon. As someone who needs and appreciates closure, I really appreciated this special time.

I was really antsy Saturday. The owners of our new house had until 7 p.m. to be moved out, and they said they'd call when they were done. (An unusual set-up, I know, but it's a small town and we were OK with it.) I left plenty of projects for Saturday, so that I couldn't be too restless.

Shortly after returning from the grocery store that morning, there was a knock at our door. It was the owner, saying they were done moving out--and it was just 10:00! I was so excited. Eric and Nathan were out on a walk at the time, so I kept looking out the window as I worked in the kitchen. Naturally, I had just put bread in the oven, so we had to wait until that was done before we could head over. (Remember, we're just moving a block away!)

I was full of anticipation as we walked to our new home. But it was not quite the homecoming I imagined. For starters, the previous owners had left a fair amount of rotten wood and various debris in the garage, attic and basement. Then, seeing the house empty for the first time made me feel overwhelmed, rather than the excitement I had expected. Nathan fussed the whole time we were at the house, getting into things he shouldn't and then throwing fits when he was directed elsewhere. To top it off, Eric and I were not on the same page about where a certain project should fall on the priority list.

Sigh. Perhaps none of this sounds like a big deal, or maybe I'm coming across overly dramatic. But as I promised in the post title, I'm telling nothin' but the truth. It was not a fun visit. I left the (new) house in tears and bee-lined it back to my safe haven, the home which is familiar to me.

Eric assured me we'll take things one step at a time. When it comes to moving and home ownership, I admit I feel in over my head (makes me think of that song by The Fray--love it!) Can anyone else relate? How did you feel when you saw your house for the first time as an owner?

Friday, May 23, 2008

When you pass through the waters

I will always remember Memorial Day weekend, 2001, which was just two weeks after I graduated from college. I was out on a boat with my friends Erin and Loren, and despite it being late May, it was cold and gloomy. The crisp wind sprayed water drops across our faces, and I closed my eyes as we sped across the wide lake, one of Iowa's largest. It was exhilirating. The line of water and sky seemed to fade so that we were completely enveloped by gray.

Few boats were on the lake that day because of the chilly temperature, and after an hour, we decided to head back to Loren's truck. As we cruised back toward shore, I started noticing that my tennis shoes were getting wet. Suddenly there seemed to be a lot of water spilling into the boat. Not being an experienced boater, I assumed our speed was causing big splashes. I quickly realized this was not the case.

Loren, who was steering, looked at me in the back of the boat. "Where's that water coming from?" he yelled.

Waves started pouring over the sides, and I stumbled to the front where my friends were. We tried frantically to bail water from the sinking boat, which suddenly lurched forward, killing the engine upon submersion.

Realizing we were going down with the boat, we began screaming for help. We grabbed life jackets (we had been foolishly sailing without them on), and in less than a minute, we were in the freezing water. I have never been so petrified.

My purple wool sweater was completely soaked and the heavy fabric weighed me down. I grabbed ahold of Loren's arm. "Don't let go of me no matter what," I pleaded. Loren's black Adidas sandal floated a few feet away, but I refused to let him retrieve it. We bobbed helplessly in the water, frozen by fear and cold.

"HELP!" we screamed into the wind. "God," I gasped, "please don't let me die like this!" I still get chills thinking about it, but God brought this verse to my mind at that time: "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you." (Isaiah 43:2)

I have no idea how long we were out there, but finally, finally, we heard the roar of a jet ski. We flailed wildly, splashing and yelling. The rider was a teenage boy, who looked terrified when he saw us in the water. He took Erin into shore first, and then alerted a rescue boat to come for Loren and me.

I struggled to climb the ladder of the large boat, fumbling my way up the steel rungs. My clothes clung to my skin, and my teeth chattered relentlessly. The chilled wind whipped my face as I huddled on the plastic seat. The officer checked us over, and I remember being told I was in the beginning stages of hypothermia.

Several people were waiting for us when we reached the shore, and someone put a coat around my shoulders. I was numb with shock and cold.

After Loren reported details of the accident to the lake patrol, a man offered to drive us to Erin's grandma's house so we could shower and get warmed up. How good it felt to let the hot water soothe my aching, trembling body. Having brought no extra clothing, we had to borrow a change of clothes.

After grabbing a bite to eat, Erin, Loren, and I got in the car for the hour's drive home. We were mostly silent on the way back, and I know we were all mentally re-playing what had just happened.

I sometimes wonder why God saved our lives that day. I remember being in the water and thinking, "I'm only 22, and I don't want my life to end this way!" I am so thankful God showed us His mercy by not letting the rivers sweep over us.

Side note and epilogue: It took rescue divers two days to find the boat, which was completely submerged at the bottom of the lake. Apparently, there had been a small hole in the fiberglass on the underside of the boat, which filled with water as we sped back across the lake.

I am still nervous around the water, and it's interesting that I married someone who practically grew up on a lake in Michigan and who learned to water ski at the age of 3!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

More random things

Frances tagged me to list 7 random things about myself:

*I am very good at remembering people's names, even if I've only met them once and haven't seen them for a long time. One exception is that I often get mixed up with Rob/Bob/Ron and Shelly/Stacy. Not sure why that is--some kind of mental name dyslexia?

*I am procrastinating on packing as I write this. I'm having a hard time taking things off the walls in our living room and kitchen, because I don't want to see them empty. (Speaking of packing, my favorite boxes are the ones that held copy paper because they are sturdy and a versatile size. Anyone else have a "favorite box"? Yikes!)

*I just love quiet summer mornings. It's my favorite time to take a walk and watch our small town wake up.

*Smoothies are a summer lunchtime staple at our house. Here's how I make them: 1/2 a ripe banana, 2 heaping spoonfuls of yogurt (our fave is Yoplait Berries & Cream), 2 ice cubes, and a handful of frozen fruit (strawberries, pineapple, tropical fruit blend) Yum!

*I avoid elevators like the plague. They totally freak me out! I don't need to use them very often, thankfully. We have only a handful of elevators in our entire town. (Unless you count grain elevators, ha ha!)

*I keep antibacterial lotion (mmm, coconut lime verbena) in my purse and use it (discreetly!) every Sunday morning after we shake hands during the greeting time at church.

*A silly confession: I often click over to this blog just to listen to the music. =)

Wow, that was definitely a random list!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The queen of misc.

When Eric and I got married, and I moved into this house, he told me I had a lot of misc., which is so true.

I've been labeling quite a few boxes lately, trying to communicate some semblance of what each one contains and where it should go. I'm finding as I go along that some items are harder to consolidate than others because I have a lot of random pieces that make categorizing difficult. I even labeled one box "Carrie's Cache of Chaos" and have been filling it with items that I just can't generalize elsewhere. What, for example, should I do with my U.S. quarter map? I've also kept the canning jars filled with dried lavendar that we used in our wedding--what to do with those?! Those two examples are just the beginning!

I am parting with a lot of items as we move, but if I continue in my misc.-y ways, I'm sure I'll be writing "Carrie's Cache of Chaos Part 2" on a box very soon . . .

Monday, May 19, 2008

Closing time

Well, the day has come--we close on our house later this morning! We're very excited, and can't wait to make this house our new home.

Thank you so much for your wallpaper and paint tips awhile back. I printed off your comments, which have been so helpful as we do all these projects for the first time! We're on hold with re-doing the bedrooms for now, but I chose a lovely blue* for our basement playroom. (*Enter 7410 to see it, which looks a little brighter on-line than on the swatch)

My parents arrive this weekend, followed by Eric's brother. We'll be straddling both houses for a week or so as we get things set up--such a funny way to move, but nice to have all that space as we figure things out. Needless to say, my on-line time will be difficult to predict these next two weeks, so I'll see ya when I see ya!

Friday, May 16, 2008


  • In the middle of a home improvement project? Get a $10 coupon from Lowe's--hat tip to Money Saving Mom. Also from MSM, I've been using this site for inspiration to help use up ingredients before we move.

  • Loved this post about baby steps towards more natural, healthy living!

  • I have many granola recipes, but had never heard of making it in a crockpot! Hat tip to Linds.

  • You've probably seen these popular Mom/Baby fitness DVDs at Target. They always make me smile in the store, because that's the sister-in-law and nephew of a close friend of ours. Anyway, Jillian, the instructor, just started a fun new website called Happily Ever Active. Go check it out!

  • My blogging buddy, Tina, just started a blog dedicated to recipes for light summer recipes.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Out of sorts

I have only one project left on this list! I am really proud of myself for completing 26 of the 27 tasks in just two months. However, I've been realizing there is much more to go! It's amazing how moving forces you to really re-evaluate why you're keeping something. Some examples of what I've been sorting:

Even in creating a master list of organizing projects, I overlooked several areas. One spot I hadn't considered was my stash of gift wrapping supplies. I was shocked to discover that I had over 100 gift bags! I haven't purchased any of them, I just save them from holidays and had no idea there were so many. I sorted through each one, and am parting with half of them. It felt great to clear some out, remind myself of what I have, and categorize the remaining ones by size/occasion.

Another collection I hadn't dealt with: my tapes--as in audio cassettes. Remember those?! Although I had already pared them down at other points, I was once again surprised to learn the current quantity: 50! This time around, I kept only my true favorites--with no tape player in my car anymore, I really have little opportunity to listen to them. I gave several tapes one final play before pitching. One of the tapes I ran across was a mixed tape (oh, yeah!) that my friend Allison made me when we graduated from high school ELEVEN years ago. I couldn't bring myself to throw it away, so I mailed it off to her with a little note thanking her for all the memories!

The biggest on-going task is one I'm sure many of you can relate to: PAPER! My husband and I had sorted all of our files a couple years ago, and he recently went through our shared folders to clear out unneeded papers. I thought that whole project could be checked off the list, until I was faced with a file bin with my name on it. Inside the folders were tons of resources for teaching and for working with college students, two of the fields I worked in before becoming a stay-at-home mom. I felt a strange tug going through all these papers, trying once again to decide what to keep, and feeling that stage of my life slipping through my hands with each page placed in the recycle bin.

Those are just a few examples of everything I've been sorting--it seems like I'll never run out of things that need organizing. I do enjoy these kinds of projects, and I am so grateful for all God's blessed me with, but I can't ignore that there's a part of me that finds it somewhat sad that I have so much *stuff* that it can sometimes be a burden to me, and yet others have so little. Hard to know what to do with that, isn't it? It leaves me feeling a little out of sorts.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Thursday morning

I wanted to share with you something my pastor told us on Sunday--I'll tell it from his point of view to maintain meaning. (This is paraphrased and I changed my pastor's name.)

"When we were in my hometown a few weeks ago, a long-time friend of my mother's pulled me aside and said, 'You know, Jim, your mother and I used to pray together for our kids every Thursday morning.'

'I know,' I said. 'That was really nice of you.'

My mother's friend continued, 'We still do, Jim. We pray for our kids and grandkids every Thursday morning.'


I have to tell you that my favorite time of the week is Thursday morning--and it's when I write my best sermons. How amazing to know that time is being covered in prayer by two women who love the Lord."

This was my feeble attempt at portraying the power this story held for me. I got chills when my pastor told us this wonderful testimony. And it made me wonder, what is my Thursday morning? Am I committed to intentionally praying for my son? I was very convicted that this is an area in which I desire major improvement.

Monday, May 12, 2008


This was the view outside our house Saturday evening after the last student had departed for the summer. If you think this is a lot, multiply it by 3 for the number of times the garbage truck had already made pickups that day. And that's just one dorm on one college campus.

I hate to see so much going to waste! Thankfully, by this morning's garbage truck run, almost all of the big items that were laying on the ground have been taken.

Rummaging across campus this weekend earned us the following discards:

*two dozen plastic hangers
*a narrow cabinet (needs some work but we hope to turn it into a phone stand for our kitchen)
*two boxes of colored markers
*2 new, sealed bottles of natural shampoo
*a woven basket that will make a great trash receptacle for our new 2nd bathroom
*a metal stepladder
*2 paperbacks
*an unopened package of IKEA napkins
*several pieces of plywood that Eric will use to build shelves for our garage
*a pair of scissors
*a cordless phone!
*3 VHS tapes still in the package

Can you believe it?! I know there are many things wrong with this picture. I felt kinda guilty taking stuff, but otherwise it would go to the dump!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Class of 2008

I just wanted to give a shout-out to the graduates of 2008, and in particular:

Ryan, my wonderful brother-in-law (congrats on your new job!)

Kelsey, our fabulous babysitter (we will really miss you!)

and my dear friend Mandi (in red, who's receiving her master's degree later this week--way to go!)

I'm proud of you all! Anyone else have someone special graduating this year?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Finals week

Well, final exams have just wrapped up here on our campus, which means we have somehow arrived at the end of the school year. This week has been full of "finals" for us:

*Eric's last official meetings with his colleagues

*Our last meal at the cafeteria

*Wrapping up discipline situations for the last time (he's thrilled about this one!)

*One final late night phone call regarding a student crisis

*An open house to celebrate Eric's work before he leaves

*Our last official time to host students for a picnic

I've gotten a little teary-eyed writing this post. (Can you tell I'm sentimental?!) Our lives here have been unconventional, yet so rich, and I am thankful for the time we've been directly part of this special place. I know we won't be far away, but it of course won't be the same. The time has come to move on . . . (It feels like being a senior all over again!)

Bumps in the road

Well, this week has had quite a few challenges--not big obstacles, but bumps in the road nonetheless:
  • I went downstairs to switch the laundry yesterday and there was more than an inch of standing water in one corner of the basement. The laundry room was even worse--parts of the floor were covered in black gunk! Those of you who've dealt with this before know I'm referring to SEWER problems. Yuk! (The good news is maintenance came over right away and was able to fix the issue, which was cause by expanding tree roots and exacerbated by my laundry day!)

  • We received a troubling offer from our new health insurance company. My husband, who hasn't missed work due to illness in over a decade and is the healthiest person I know was given the lowest possible rating. Why? Because he had a knee injury in December. Thus, they decided to write a clause into the offer stating that any future joint injury would not be covered. What?! Being the determined person he is, Eric called the company right away and explained how ludicrous this was. The helpful staff member suggested he write a letter, which he did, along with signed statements from his boss and doctor. (The good news is that they called to say they reviewed our application and the letters and changed Eric's rating. Sometimes it does pay to complain!)

  • I've never had any problems with my 2002 Saturn. But the other day when my husband drove in to the garage, a suspicious trail of liquid followed behind. We have a leak in the transmission and can't drive the car until it's been looked at. (Still waiting on the update with this one . . .)

  • I've been having a hard time picking out paint colors until Wednesday. I showed the colors I was considering to several people to let them weigh in and then made my decisions. That same evening, Eric came home to say paint may not be necessary anymore. He just found out that the upstairs bedroom walls are all made of plaster, not drywall. Apparently, the surface is quite tricky. They even had a hard time laying wallpaper! So we're kind of on hold with all that until we can get a professional to come look at it. (Also waiting to see what happens with this!)
  • And as I mentioned before, we had a computer virus earlier this week that required our entire hard drive to be re-loaded. (The good news is that a friend was able to fix everything, and fairly quickly at that!)

I don't mean for this post to come across as negative or complaining. I'm just often surprised that when it rains, it pours!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


This statement really stood out to me when I was reading last week, especially during this time of praying for a house and all the details related to moving:

"Too often we pray for things rather than union with Christ. In our prayers, we often ask God for what we want or want done. It must break the heart of God . . . that we are so busy seeking answers that we almost never seek Him."

--Calvin Miller, The Unchained Soul

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Garden "co-op"

As several of you have posted about planting your gardens this spring, I've left comments expressing my disappointment that with the timing of the move, a garden didn't make much sense for us this year. Well, as I mentioned recently, our new home is just a block away from our current house. The family of my husband's successor was really excited about having a garden for the first time, but they won't arrive until mid-June and even then will have much work to get settled. Eric had a brilliant idea: why don't we plant and tend the garden, using "their" yard, and then we could split the harvest?

All parties were agreeable to this plan, so Eric planted the past two weekends. Here's what we're hoping for in a few weeks and beyond: onions, potatoes, tomatoes, green and red peppers, squash and lettuce. I'm excited for this year's creative co-op arrangement, though we will of course plant in our own yard next spring. Hooray for garden produce!

By the way, please head over and wish Monica a happy birthday!

Monday, May 5, 2008


Updated: I'm back on-line, thanks to a friend who spent a few hours over here yesterday!

Blah. Our computer has been attacked by a virus--not sure when it will be up and running again. I'm checking e-mail and blogs quick on my husband's office computer, and hope to return soon to "regularly scheduled programming."

By the way, why does anyone waste time and energy creating these nasty computer diseases?!


Have you ever seen the show Clean Sweep? If so, you know that at the end of the show, the clients host a garage sale with all their cast-offs. The organizer has the wife select one possession from the husband's keep pile that she would love to get rid of, and vice versa. These become the "bait" for encouraging the couple to compete for the most sales. I always find that aspect of the show both amusing and sad. Sometimes a spouse chooses something that is really sentimental for the other and I feel badly watching it be whisked away!

When my husband and I combined our stuff upon marriage, he made it clear that there were two particular items of mine that he did not like. I've kept them anyway, and actually in fairly prominent places. Until now. Over the weekend, as I was packing, I decided of my own accord to add both of these items to the donate/sell pile. To be honest, it's really less because my husband doesn't like these things, and more because I don't think there will be a conducive place for them in our new home.

So what are these items?

#1 This is a beautiful painted fabric print from Mozambique. I tease Eric that he doesn't like it because it's from a former boyfriend, which is true. But he assures me it's just not his style. I've appreciated its exoticness and the fact that it was brought from such a far corner of the world, but it's not really my style, either, and the colors won't coordinate with our new digs.
#2 Monica gave me this suitcase, which I have referred to as a satchel because I like the sound of that word. It's a fun piece, but once again, I feel the time has come to let someone else enjoy it.

Oh, and by the way, I haven't told Eric yet that I'm getting rid of these things. I think it will be fun that he'll discover it by reading my blog sometime today. And when he does, I hope that he will be grateful for my sacrificial decision. =)

Now it's your turn to share: Is there a particular item of your husband's that are you not fond of? Has he declared his dislike for something of yours?

Bloggy stuff

  • Thanks to all who left comments on Friday's post. The winner of the book is Frances!

  • Taking Thursday off from blogging was a great decision time-wise. That was an especially busy day for us, and I was very resolved to not check my blog or anyone else's. I felt really motivated to use the time I would normally spend on blogs to get caught up on other things.

  • I recently checked out this site. If you log in periodically, it's a great way to find out who's linking to your blog. I've met some new people this way who don't usually leave comments. (You know who you are!) =)

Friday, May 2, 2008


Tomorrow marks one year since my very first post, when I shared 100 random things about myself. I am grateful to my sister for inspiring me to blog in the first place, to my husband for encouraging me to write and reflect, and to all of you for being part of this wonderful community. Thanks for being along for the ride--I appreciate your encouragement and insight!

In honor of my blogiversary, I'd like to host a book giveaway as promised. I have a brand new copy of The Power of an Ordinary Life, courtesy of Tyndale House Publishers, to send to one of you. I confess I've never read it, but it's a compelling topic! Just leave a comment to enter. Contest open until Sunday night at 11 pm CST.