Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

It's late Christmas Eve as I write.  In my family Christmas Eve has always been the main celebration, so I'm winding down from an exciting day.

This has been an extremely meaningful Christmas season for me.  For some reason I have heard more about Mary this year than I noticed in the past.  Thinking about Mary always reminds me of one of my last conversations with my Mom, when it was clear she would be going to heaven soon.  I asked her who she was most looking forward to seeing in heaven and, without hesitation,  she answered Mary.  It took me awhile to grasp the fact that she meant THE Mary and not some random friend.  I have to admit I didn't understand the interest in Mary.  In some ways I still don't.  I have reflected several times this season on why my Mom was most anxious to meet Mary.  I can think of several more adventurous types from the Bible that I would like to speak with.  Abraham, Moses and Jonah come to mind.  I believe the different interests are rooted in the ways my Mom and I are different.  Mom was content at home and loved having babies.  I doubt anyone would use the word content in a description of me.

Hearing so much of Mary this year and thinking about my Mom's desire to meet her caused me to ponder what types of questions Mom would ask Mary.  I am certain the questions would be along the lines of those in the song "Mary Did You Know?"  I had never before contemplated "did you know when you kissed your little baby, you kissed the face of God" or "did you know your baby boy would save our sons and daughters? ".

Today at the Christmas service we attended (which was, by the way, the most meaningful I've ever attended) the pastor quoted Max Lucado as he talked about Emmanuel meaning "God with us".  He talked about God coming into the muck and mire of our world and said we prefer to think of God only as divine because that keeps him at a distance.   That struck a chord in me.  I don't know if I've purposely wanted to keep God at a distance, but I certainly have never tried to contemplate his humanity.  I wonder how this new realization might affect me in the coming year?

I believe that in my head I know much of what there is to know about God, but I've experienced very little of him, because in my one dimensional view of him I've never considered how much he is able to understand of my weaknesses,  emotions and humanity.  My heart opened up to this possibility tonight because of the emphasis on Mary and My Mom's desire to meet her.

Mary is not and never has been worshipped in my family, but I  am grateful for this new awareness I've had of her, which has stirred new thoughts about Jesus  in my heart.

I hope any readers still with me are also experiencing Jesus in a fresh way this year.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

We begin again

We had a nice Thanksgiving. Eric suggested we go out to a restaurant for the big meal because we have had so much going on lately. I happily agreed. It was just Eric and I, the kids and my Dad. It was an enjoyable, relaxing time.

 Today I began packing for our move. It is 2 months away yet, but I work in fits and starts so thought I had better get started. The next 2 months will fly by. Of course Christmas will take up a good share of my time, plus Eric's birthday and a trip to Europe will be thrown in for good measure! I should be quite excited about the trip but I haven't had time to think much about it. Fun times ahead!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Snow day

Just another picture from my back yard; sorry!

We had a snow storm last Thursday and Friday which left us with 7.8 inches of snow.  That is the largest November snowfall recorded in Boise since they began keeping records in 1892!  It gave the kids a day off from school on Friday, and gave me a nice opportunity to rest.  I even got to take a nap in the afternoon, a rare treat.  

The picture was taken before the majority of the snow fell.  I have some from after which I'll try to share later.  Everything was fully blanketed in white.

I remain extremely busy, but it promises to slow down soon.  My friend has found an apartment which she will be moving into this weekend.  We are scheduled to complete the purchase of our new home next week.  We've decided to go to a restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner in order to alleviate the pressure of preparing the feast.  It will likely just be my immediate family.  My brother who lives in town recently became a grandfather and since 2 of his children are married it makes sense that they have their own expanding family to entertain. My Dad recently drove his friend to Arizona and it's unclear whether he'll be back in time for Thanksgiving. For his sake I hope he stays in the warmth of Arizona!

Stay warm!

Monday, November 10, 2014

1.  I was going to write every day, but have been absent for nearly a month.  Oops!

2.  My computer is set to "go to sleep" in 7 minutes.

So I give you this picture of a recent sunrise.  I heard that people get bored of sunrise/sunset pictures. I'm sorry, I never get tired of them!

Life is more hectic than ever.  Husband is traveling.  Friend who is getting divorced is living with us.  Thirteen year old is being... a thirteen year old.  (Grumpy face.)  Son likes homeschool but misses interaction with classmates.

Signing off before computer goes to sleep!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Big Day for Anna

Today was almost like Christmas for Anna.  It was a day she had been anticipating for quite some time.  Her braces came off!

Here is Anna before:

And here she is after:

Both of my kids were teased about their teeth.  I am thankful that we are able to afford braces for them.

Anna doesn't like to see pictures of herself "before".  All she can see is her teeth.  I think there are some painful memories tied up in that for her.  It's too bad, because I have so many adorable pictures of her.  I hope some day she will be able to look at the pictures of her young years and remember the happy times.  I am sure pictures going forward will be much happier for her.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Sea Glass

When we were in the Bahamas we enjoyed one day at a beautiful private beach.  While there, we  found several pieces of sea glass.  I prefer looking for the glass rather than for shells.  Usually it is more difficult to find and I enjoy the challenge of that.  This day, however, we found it in abundance.

There is one piece in the picture which I particularly prize: the light blue which is resting in a shell near the center of the picture.  I absolutely love that color.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


I just ran across this photo which I had wanted to share months ago. I managed to catch one hummingbird outside our window. There had been 2 fighting, but one flew off before I could get my camera (phone) ready.

Sunday, October 5, 2014


I am happy to share the news that we have purchased a home. This will be our back yard. The details worked out very well. We will close in two months and then the sellers will rent it back from us for two months. Since we still have 6 months until the end of our lease, this is perfect.

 The house has all of the space we wanted, including a small guest suite. My Dad spends Christmas Eve with us (he lives very close by, but since my Mom passed away he doesn't like to go to an empty house on Christmas.) My MIL stays occasionally; eventually she will stay with us for longer periods of time. We also have other visitors from time to time. They will now have a nice bedroom and full bath to use comfortably.

 We call the area the house is located in Yangmingshan. That is the name of the area where we lived in Taiwan and this vaguely reminds us of our Taiwan location. "Shan" means mountain; we lived on Yang Ming Mountain and the road to our house was steep and curvy. It is the same here. Though technically we are in the foothills rather than on a mountain, the drive is at least as steep as it was in Taiwan and the initial curves are very similar. So it feels familiar and good when we drive up the hill.

Soon I will need to begin preparing for another move. I am hoping the frequency of moves slows down now. We recently celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary. In those 17 years we have lived in 11 places. The new house will make it 12. So I think some settling might be in order. Unless, of course, the company wanted us to move to Italy...!

Saturday, September 27, 2014


Yesterday was only half as exciting as anticipated.

The exciting part was my husband got the promotion he was hoping for.  It's a very exciting position for him and it MIGHT mean less travel.  At least when he does travel it should be domestically most of the time.

The excitement that didn't happen involved buying a house.  We, or actually our realtor, had found a house that was not yet listed but which the owners were planning to list in a few months.  They let us look at it, gave the dollar figure they were planning to list at and indicated they would take less if they didn't have to do any updates.  We loved the house.  The kitchen had been modernized and, while it wasn't anything I would choose, it was very well done so I could appreciate it.  None of the bathrooms had been updated and the roof is nearing the end of its useful life.  We thought we could get the house at a good price and do the updates to our taste.  We planned to write up an offer yesterday.  However, before we could begin, the seller's realtor indicated that they were not willing to accept $x for the house.  Basically they were willing to give just the tiniest discount.  We decided not to bother making an offer.  A little disappointing because we really loved the house and it's location.  However, I know that God has something for me whether it's a different house or no house and I only want to be where God wants me.  So I'm not too disappointed.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


From all indications, tomorrow is going to be an exciting day in our house...

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

When we decided last week that we were going to homeschool Ethan, we didn't intend that I was going to start immediately,  But then...

On Thursday his teacher gathered some papers that had been turned in without names.  And she lit them on fire!  In the classroom!  Ethan was freaked out by that so he spoke with the vice-principal.  Later in the day the teacher apologized to Ethan.  No one called us to report anything.  Fire in the classroom?  No big deal.  Just another day in public school.

So that was it for us.  We went in the next day with a letter saying we would be teaching him at home.  We went to his classroom, collected his things and left.  Later that day we went to a local store that sells curriculum for homeschoolers and purchased everything in the photo plus more.

Homeschool began today.  I sure hope I can do this.  I must.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Full Day

Wow.  I almost cannot say anything else, but I'll try.  Among today's events:

- We found "the house" to purchase
- it was discovered that the house we are renting has a good deal of mold in the crawl space.
- Husband is 95% sure he's getting a fantastic promotion
- decided to homeschool son

Just, wow.

Sunday, September 14, 2014


There has been a great deal of bad news lately. Thankfully none of it has involved me directly, just people around me that I care about. I was wondering what I could write about that wouldn't be the "downer" stuff and I thought I must have some picture I could share. I realized I have lots and lots of pictures that I've never shared and I chose this one for today. In August we took a trip to the Bahamas. While there we indulged in a meal at Mesa Grill. If any of you are fans of Food Network you will know of Bobby Flay. (The kids and I have become fans in the past few months.). Bobby Flay owns Mesa Grill; that fact is what drew us to the restaurant. I don't think I can convey how much we enjoyed our meal. Each item we tried was unique from anything we've eaten anywhere else, and everything was perfect. Even a simple thing like corn was over the top delicious. It seemed to be seasoned - I'm guessing here - with lime and cayenne pepper, was blackened and had a sprinkling of goat cheese over it. I never dreamed something as simple as corn could be so delicious! We were dressed better than this at dinner. I didn't bring my camera to dinner so we went back the next day to take the picture.

Friday, September 12, 2014

A friend of ours has been deeply entrenched in sin for a long time.  He appears to be on the brink of  giving in fully to Satan.  I think this is the saddest thing I have ever witnessed because it has terrible, eternal consequences.  It is unfathomable to me that someone could choose to reject the gift of eternal life, especially so knowingly.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The kids are in their third week of school,  and the germs have begun to be passed around.  My daughter was home sick today.  A friend told me she and her husband were sick for 10 days, on and off.  I sure hope it doesn't last that long for my daughter as she cannot miss that much school!

We found a house we like today.  I don't know if we are still too early to work things out with our lease, but I'm going to talk with the realtor tomorrow about possibly making an offer.  As far as we can tell this house has no cats, mice or rabbits (all of which inhabit other homes we've liked.)  I don't relish the idea of moving again, but it must be done.  I am going to have to get rid of some things, a process which is very difficult for me.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Yesterday I cleaned up more mouse droppings, so Eric stopped at the store and picked up a bunch of mouse traps.  He set 4 traps last night.  We were surprised this morning to find not a single mouse.

This afternoon I left the pantry door open while working in the kitchen. Forrest (our dog) sprung a trap when he went to investigate the peanut butter on it!  He escaped unscathed but with a healthy respect for mouse traps!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Fish or cut bait

I think it's time I either write or quit blogging.  I'm going to try to write something every day.  If I cannot come up with anything to say I'll quit.

We are dealing with mice again.  The evidence tells us this house was infested before we moved in.  Therefore, when our lease is up we will be moving again.  That, unfortunately, is still 6-1/2 months away.  Nevertheless we have begun looking at houses, thinking we will buy again rather than rent.  We found a house that seemed perfect.  It had the exact number of rooms we want, a layout we liked and a nice swimming pool.  As we walked through the interior we were becoming more and more convinced that this was the house for us.  So we began carefully inspecting the back yard and pool.  Then, just as we were concluding that this house was darn near perfect, our realtor turned in the paperwork to the page titled "Seller's Disclosures" (or something to that effect.). There, in the seller's own handwriting, was the revelation that they "had" a mouse infestation. (Now resolved, they claim.) That was the end of that love affair!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Dear Shooter

Dear Shooter,

In the note you left you said you were sorry, you knew what you were about to do was selfish.  I wonder, were you apologizing only to the people you were about to kill?  Did you realize how wide a swath of pain you were going to leave in your wake?

Did you have any idea how completely you were going to devastate the family of the girl you thought you loved?  That her mother's heart would, in her own words, break into a million pieces?   That the loss of Daddy's little girl would extinguish the light from his eyes?  That you were taking her sister's best friend and room mate?  Did you think about the fact that these sisters planned to graduate together? That now the surviving sister will have to take that walk alone?  That someday when she gets married the girl who without a doubt would have been her maid of honor won't even be there?

Did you have any idea of the larger family that would be affected by the loss of this girl who was surely the bright light of the family?  The grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins who would be heartbroken both on their own and for the pain of the immediate family which they can do nothing to soothe?

Surely you did not think about the hundreds of friends who would also feel powerless to help the grieving family in any real way.  You probably did not realize how we will remember you in the future when our own children begin to date; how your memory will create a nagging fear inside of us as we wonder if the man our daughter is dating might turn on her, as you did on this beautiful girl.  Or if the girl our son is dating might need protection from someone like you, and if our son might be her protector as the young man you murdered was trying to be.

Did you think about that young man's family?  Did you think about how searing their loss would be when they learned that the reason their son and brother was killed was that he was good and honorable?  Did you think for a second about the fact that this young man was trying to protect the girl you claimed to love?  Did you think about the larger family and the circle of friends of this family?

Did you think about the other young man you intended to kill?  When you wrote the note you did not know that you would not find him.  You could not have imagined the hell this man is now living in. That he would attend the funerals of two friends in a week - friends who were killed by another man whom he considered a friend.  How he would overcome his fear to speak at their funerals.  These things you could not have known, but did you think about his family, since you intended also to rob them of a son and brother?

 Did you do the math and realize how many hundreds of people were going to be hurt by the actions you were about to take?

And what about your own family?  Did you give any thought to the fact that their grief is coupled with the horrific knowledge that their son is responsible for the grief of hundreds of others?

No shooter, you could not have thought about these things.  I have to believe that if you had thought about all of the people you were about to destroy you would have realized your intended actions went far beyond selfishness.  I have to believe this realization would have stopped you.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Adventures in Camping without a Man

Eric is away on business again so the kids and I ventured out on our own this week.  We went just a few hours north to Stanley Lake, Idaho.

Idaho is a much maligned state, which is easy to understand if you drive through on it's only freeway.  Interstate 84 stays in southern Idaho which is practically nothing but sagebrush and sand.  (Interestingly, despite the fact that my iPad auto corrects and auto capitalizes, it never auto capitalizes Idaho.  Apparently programmers don't even know Idaho is a proper noun!)   However, if you travel just a little bit north in Idaho you will find some of the most spectacular scenery in the U.S.

This is where we camped, on Stanley Lake with McGown peak as a backdrop.

A funny thing happened while we were camping. We had been at our campsite just a few hours, had roasted the obligatory hot dogs and then marshmallows and I was washing dishes while the kids played outside. Suddenly I heard a strange hissing sound coming from the engine compartment. I rushed out. The kids were looking frightened and there was steam coming from under the hood. I grabbed the fire extinguisher and the dog out of the RV and told the kids to run get the camp host. But within a minute or so the hissing and steaming stopped. I stood for a few minutes, completely befuddled. Turns out the host was gone and there seemed to be no one else around who could help me. I was at a loss to know what had just happened. The engine had been off for at least 3 hours so I couldn't imagine what happened. I did what I always do when I have a problem - I sent a text to Eric. In Singapore. Silly! But he responded and through multiple texts we tried to figure out what had just happened. His conclusion was a hose from the air conditioner must have broken. I settled down and prepared to enjoy the great outdoors.

The next morning, Ethan handed me a piece of paper and bolted out the door. The paper was folded twice and he had written "urgent" on the front. I unfolded it to find Ethan's mea culpa and a plea that I not kill him! Turns out the kids had been sword fighting with the roasting sticks and his stick had flown off the handle (literally!) and, as he put it, "into the RV." There was time separation here, so I thought he meant it had gone into the side of the RV. I took my time thinking about it but eventually called Ethan in with the reassurance that I would not kill him. I asked him to show me where the errant stick had struck and to my horror he led me to the front of the RV and pointed inside the grill. There it was, a fairly large hole in what I thought was the radiator! Now the pieces were coming together.  I was sick. A hole in the radiator meant I would not be able to drive. We would have to be towed from a campground far from civilization, and the radiator would have to be replaced. Dollar signs were spinning through my head and I was no longer a happy camper.

In a panic, I called my brother-in-law who, among other things, is a mechanic for a friends race cars. To make a long story short, he found a mechanic in the nearby town of Stanley (population 63!) who drove to the campground to help me. GOD BLESS THEM BOTH!! When he saw the hole he told me it was not, in fact, in the radiator but rather in the air conditioning something-or-other. Turns out Eric's diagnosis from Singapore was not too far off! I was safe to drive, just couldn't use the air conditioner. WHEW!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Rushing Through the Rest of Spring Break

I need to finish posting pictures from our Spring Break trip back in March, so I'm just going to put up a bunch of pictures and call it good.

This was the view from my chair at our campsite.

Eric encouraged me to take a photography class while we were in Yosemite.  I don't know how much I'll remember of what was taught, but it was a great experience.  The teacher was the official staff photographer for Yosemite National Park, so it's fair to say he knew a thing or two about the subject. Besides knowledge, he was very friendly so the class was quite enjoyable.  The "class" took place while on a 4 hour walk through part of the park.  Here are two of the pictures I took during the class:

The following day our family hiked through another part of the park.  I found this remnant of a tree which I thought was interesting.

While taking the above picture I thought that top hole would make an interesting frame for a photograph, so I recruited Ethan to be my subject.  Unfortunately, though I tried and tried, I couldn't get the camera to focus on Ethan.  It's possible, I just didn't have my manual with me and couldn't remember how to do it.  Sad face, that would have been a cool picture.

Moving on...

From Yosemite we went to Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.  Along the way we drove through a wind storm in the Mojave Desert.  The high winds tore the awning part way off of our motorhome.  We pulled off on the side of the highway and realized we were going to have to cut the awning off before it caused more damage to the RV.  So in high winds on the side of the highway, Eric had to crawl up on top of the RV with a scissors and cut the awning while I held on to part of it to prevent it knocking him off or... who knows!  It was extremely scary at the time.  

A few pictures of the canyon:

I love unique architecture, so was happy to see this Indian building called "Hopi House".  However, it was not anything historical or educational.  It was just a souvenir shop.  

We ate a very nice lunch at the El Tovar Hotel, the oldest hotel in the Grand Canyon.

I was shocked to find this plaque at the entrance to a shop within the canyon:

The Bible verse and the words of the poem are so fitting!  But as more and more Biblical references and Christian symbols are being removed from public places in our country, I wonder how long that will be allowed to remain.

A few more pictures of the canyon.

Now on to other adventures!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Just a peek

So many pictures to catch up on!  I didn't finish posting our Spring a Break trip yet, and I've travelled twice since then!  Here is a sneak peek at our last trip.  This was taken near Orofino, Idaho.  Hope to catch up some day!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Spring Break, Part 2 (Entering Yosemite)

I took a LOT of pictures in Yosemite.  Actually, I took a photography class while there so I took a lot of pictures of the same thing while I experimented with light and movement.  So of all the pictures, not many are actually very good or even very interesting.  But I will share some that might give you a sense of the journey. (Hopefully!)

Last year there was a wild fire around Yosemite.  Driving in was rather disheartening, as the forest was charred.

It was interesting to see how in some areas trees that were killed by the fire stood next to trees that appear untouched.  Perhaps the dead ones were killed by heat rather than actual fire?

At this point I was beginning to worry that all of Yosemite would be a wasteland.

Thankfully, the devastation ended before we arrived inside the park.  Along the side of the road there was something that looked like snow.  I believe it was actually remnants of the chemical retardant the Forest Service uses to help put out wild fires.

Finally we were arriving at the park.  It was an absolutely perfect day, weather wise.  Look at that blue sky!

Our first peak at the grandeur of Yosemite was Bridal Veil Falls cascading down from the sheer granite...mountain? cliff?  I don't know what you should properly call these massive granite rocks.

Yosemite is a huge national park.  761,268 acres to be exact.  (3,081 sq. km for my European readers.) Considering that we spent just 3 nights there (not to mention that I am extremely out-of-shape and getting old!) we did not see much.  We SHOULD have hiked in closer to Bridal Veil Falls. At this point I thought we would get back to it.  However, once we got to our campsite and started planning our days we realized we weren't going to get more than a cursory overview of this enormous park.

That's all I have time for today...

Friday, April 11, 2014

Spring Break, Part 1

Spring break happened a few weeks ago; finally a chance to take a planned trip in our "new" RV.  So anxious to get on the road were we that we picked Ethan up from school IN THE RV and hit the road.

The first night we drove to some little town in Nevada.  The second day we drove from Nevada to Yosemite National Park in California.  Today's pictures were taken along the way to Yosemite.

We stopped at a scenic pull off at what I thought was Lake Tahoe.  It was actually Donner Lake which is much smaller than Lake Tahoe.  Oh well, a very pretty spot nonetheless.

The kids took off up the hill where they found some pinecones.

Huge pine cones, actually.  We gathered up a bunch of them and brought them home with us.

Prior to this trip I had only been to the main tourist parts of California:  San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.  This trip took us through some beautiful agricultural areas.  We saw acres and acres of vineyards and orchards.  After driving by several produce stands we decided it would probably be wrong not to stop and sample some of the local produce, so we just stopped at the next one we came to.

Denise's Farmer's Market in Ripon, California was a great find.  We picked up strawberries, blackberries, apples, pears, almonds, flavored olive oil, homemade salsa and...firewood! The food was all great.  The firewood was awful.  I believe it was from almond trees and apparently almond trees don't burn well.  

I had never seen almond trees before, but the Farmer's Market was set in a grove of the trees.  Initially Eric went into the market while I wandered outside and took pictures.

Here is a close-up of the almonds:

And here is a picture of part of the grove:

I would enjoy spending more time in this part of California.  It was a different world from their famous cities and one that I found much more pleasant.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Boring routine

I was just reading a blog that I enjoy and thought I would leave a comment. But this particular blogger has a huge number of followers and there are always many, many comments. So I clicked the box to leave a comment but then decided against it. I would be lost in the sea of voices. I like leaving comments for bloggers who have a more modest audience, where I know they'll be appreciated.

I'm sorry I haven't posted any new pictures in awhile. Seems I'm in the boring routine of life again! Just to give you something visual, I'll post a picture of the valentine cards I made for my family, including a couple of little ones that my son gave to classmates (one of which is upside down. Oops!)

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Foggy Beauty

While much of the U.S. is suffering through bitter cold and snow and my friends in the U.K. are experiencing high winds and waves, here in Boise we have fog.  Weeks upon weeks of fog.  I'm not complaining.  I'll take fog over cold and snow any day.

One day, because I live on a cliff overlooking the valley, I was able to see blue sky above the fog.  I quickly took a few pictures.

And while the gray skies get tiring, the fog does often create some beautiful scenes if you just look close enough.

Enjoy your day!