An Ode to This Old House

This old house has seen me through more than half of my adult life.

We moved in when Shiloh was 4 years old and Huck was 4 months old (2008).

We have so many heartwarming memories in this house.

The kids and I sent Robert off on many travels and adventures from this house and joyfully welcomed him home when they were over.

I taught Shiloh to read in this living room. I think I also taught her to dislike math here too. Whoops!

The kids learned to ride bikes on these sidewalks, learned what being neighborly looks like from our kind neighbors, and developed life long friendships with some of the greatest people right here on this street.

They experienced the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus here. Built forts, obstacle courses, fairy houses and leprechaun traps in this yard. Had late night conversations and tenderhearted prayer times in their bedrooms.

Their dirty little fingerprints are on every doorknob, door, door frame, window, window pane, windowsill, wall, corner, baseboard, countertop, cabinet…you get the idea.

The hours of snow shoveling done here will not be missed, but jumping in the giant piles of snow will be.

This house is where I planted my first garden. I experienced life coming from my hands. I also experienced death coming from my hands as this is where I learned that I am not a good gardener.

We named our giant maple tree in this front yard Mr. Bark. He hosted many squirrels, birds, fairies and gnomes. He had canopies, tents, faces, and fairy doors hung from his trunk.

Mr. Bark was also the home to our joy-filled tire swing. Our kids and many neighbors spent hours swinging here. The swing became an airplane, a pirate ship, a boredom-buster, and a friend gatherer.

We brought Louis and Bowdrie home to this house. We will miss watching them view the outside world from our living room bay window, but we have fond memories of cuddle and play time with them here.

It was in this house that my marriage died and, by the grace of God, was resurrected. This is the house we separated in and the house where we reunited.

This house hosted many counseling sessions, crying sessions, yelling sessions, and making up sessions.

This is where I was when I received the news of my dad’s death. This is where my friends came around me and helped carry me through that loss.

I had a late term miscarriage in this home. We said goodbye to a little life in our upstairs bathroom.

Then I gave birth to Weslee in this home. We said hello to her in that same upstairs bathroom.

This house hosted birthday parties, halloween parties, dance parties, bonfires, christmas concerts, bible studies, and neighborhood soup nights.

It’s been the holder of happy times and sad times, and it has held my family well.

I’m so thankful God saw fit for this house to be a part of who we are.

722 Palace St, you are a wonderful piece in our story.

722Palace

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The Family Man

This is “rojo” here.

I just got out the calendar, sat down with my co-workers and planned out the most amazing opportunities that I dread every year.Travel used to be such a romantic idea. Airports meant adventure. Sitting in a plane was an enchanting opportunity. I would buzz with excitement each time a travel opportunity presented itself. Maybe it is still that way for you. I do still buzz with excitement, just not as loudly anymore.

Filling in some of the details, I work as a photographer and print designer for a not-for-profit organization, called TEAM, based in the Chicagoland area. We publish a magazine twice a year. (Is that semi-annually or bi-annually. If you can let me know which way is correct, please leave a comment.) This means that I have a wonderful opportunity to travel all over the world to photograph the stories for the magazine (TEAMHorizons). Tough, huh? I really do mean that it is a great opportunity, and my passport is an amazing journal of visas and stamps that I love to look at, reliving all of those experiences. But over the course of 7 years many changes have happened, making these trips harder.

Who knew that when I said “I do” this young love would grow to a point that I don’t enjoy extended periods of time away from Cheyenne? I wasn’t aware that over time we would develop such a connection with each other that the weeks apart drag on as if they are months. Time seems to grind to a halt.

Who knew that I would miss the hands smeared with spaghetti grabbing a hold of my pant legs, or the persistent request for just one more game of go-fish so much?

My stomach started to churn a little bit as we discussed the weeks of travel over the next few months that would work best for us and our respective families. I started feeling that sinking feeling of sitting in a room all by myself wishing that the silence would be broken with a cute little giggle and a set of arms wrapping around my neck. Or that suddenly out of nowhere a small-framed child would pounce up into my lap and mistake me for a jungle gym. I suddenly started thinking about soaking up every minute of the next few weeks, and bottling them up in my heart because I will be needing to open up those stored memories, hugs and laughs and living off of that joy while I am away.

Those first trips of being away from all that we call “our lovely mess” I began to realize that I was overlooking a lot of precious and valuable moments of every day life. I then made the choice to consciously live in those moments that strengthen the love within our family. I thrive on this love, this joy, and this laughter.

I used to think that I couldn’t slow down and still be the macho-manly provider of the household. I would work for 8 hours at TEAM, head home to basically go straight to my basement office and work for another 4-5 hours on some freelance work with a small break in there to put the kids in bed. But somewhere in all of my detached-dad work mode there was this crazy amount of love that was growing for my family. (I have to say “crazy” because me, 24-year-old standing at the alter looking down the aisle at my bride, would have never thought it would get like this.) All of that was unearthed being half of a world away from the most important people in my life. Wondering what they were doing at those moments. Wishing that we were all together.

I’ve started to learn to savor the moments that we share together. Laugh. Tickle. Wrestle. Just sit on the couch together because we can, and because we are together. I don’t always do so well. Projects slip up on me, I procrastinate until I have to pull all-nighters (which now means only about 1am or 2am…I can’t quite stay up like I used to), and I begin to live in a future mentality. Trying to get to the next deadline. Forgetting that the world around me, here and now, is so valuable.

So I had a reality check, literally a gut check. The dates of my summer started to fill up, meaning more time away. May 21-June 7…Czech Republic, Austria, and Sweden. A week in early August in Mexico. Two weeks in December in Nepal (most likely). Each of them an amazing opportunity! Now I just need to start stocking up on hugs, “I love yous” and lots of laughs. You know…some of life’s more understated moments.

I really have become a family man. [sigh] …and I love it.
_________

So while I am away, I do get to meet some great people and see some wonderful things. Here are just a few shots from around the world.

Peru – Kids in Cuidad de Dios, on the outskirts of Arequipa, play a game of tag before they enjoy a time of crafts and a Bible lesson.

Swaziland – Tracing their spiritual heritage back to Zion, IL, the amaZioni of Southern Africa number around 18 million people.

Here are four of the smiling faces that I have had a chance to meet:

 

You can subscribe to TEAMHorizons for free, if you would like. Click here

And The Winner is…me

I am so glad that Monday, February 8, is now in the past. It was a miserable day. My 19 month old son was hit with a terrible stomach flu. He couldn’t keep anything down. Not crackers, applesauce, water, ice. Nothing. It was such a pitiful sight. I am praying and crossing my fingers that no one else in the house catches it.

After such a terrible day yesterday, I was hoping for a normal day today. It has been more than normal. #1, Huck is back to his own rowdy self, and #2, I woke up this morning and saw that I had received a new blog comment. I love seeing that I have a new comment, so I quickly read it. I was SHOCKED to see that it was from Donni author of The Magic Onions blog. She told me that I won the SewnNatural giveaway. I was so excited. Not only because I won the giveaway and am getting three of the cutest little wool/felt hearts, but I was also ecstatic because she had actually commented on my humble little blog!!!

I have been reading her blog for almost a year, and it is amazing. I have gotten so many craft ideas from her. I started looking around the house, and I think we have done almost all of the crafts she has posted. And she introduced us to needle felting. (Robert and I are starting a fun needle felting project for our living room.) And through her Friday’s Nature Table, I have found many other fun blogs to read and learn from.

It’s funny (and I didn’t expect it), but I am finding that my online community really does offer me so much support and love. Reading blogs over the past 8 months has really been therapy for me…and I do have to admit that I sat on the sidelines for a long time. I was sneaking through your blogs, using your ideas, celebrating our similarities and not (gasp) leaving any comments.

These felt hearts will serve as a nice reminder of this wonderful community of moms that I have online – even though I only know about 10 of you.
But before I go, I thought I would actually start to post some pictures of some of the fun things we have created in our lovely mess (click on the names to view a tutorial on how to make these fun crafts).