2012: A Year in Review

I refuse to begin this post by saying "It's been awhile", so I'm just going to dive in and post 1-2 pictures from each month of 2012.

 Philip & I took the ferry to Friday Harbor to relax after a crazy few months.

 Hiking the Fragrance Lake trail

Seattle Aquarium with friends Nick & Larissa 

 We left our beautiful waterview apartment to rent a house with Nate & Kendra

Ophy loves her freedom at our new house!

        Philip prepares our garden


 A typical weekend night at our house...

 Annual roadtrip to California

Trip to Iowa to say goodbye to our amazing childhood home...

   Al & I made the quick trip together...


 Picnic at Lake Padden with friends Conor & Laura

 Philip's cousin's wedding in Seattle


 The whole De Jong clan came to Washington for a week!


     First day of school             


        Artist Point, Mount Baker


We hosted a Harvest/Halloween party at our place

 Seed catalogue model, Bellatrix Lestrange, farmer, guy from Memento


 Philip and I hosted Thanksgiving for dear friends


Birthday dinner in California

Well, there it is: 2012 in a nutshell. I am looking forward to all that next year will bring! Happy New Year!



two things have always been certain when i've returned to sioux center for a visit. first, that i'd be staying with mom and dad. second, that i'd go to covenant and get some sort of welcoming side comment from pastor herm.

tomorrow i leave for iowa. this trip will be different than any other. i'm helping mom and dad pack up for their move. and pastor herm won't be at the pulpit on sunday.

wow. i've said that so many times, but in the past 3 days, it's really begun to hit me. how could two foundations of my life be changing at the same time?

one realization i've come to is that i need to mourn. i've been pretending like all is fine; this is part of life; change needs to happen. but to mourn is to say that my childhood home, that my pastor, has been a significant part of my life. to mourn is to say that these are special. that they have helped shape and refine this jumbled-up mess that is me.

on this early morning in june, i'm trying to pin my thoughts down about my home.

tonight i dreamed i was saying goodbye to the house. walking from room to room, reliving memories. but the dream's edges were softened. it didn't hurt. so when i woke up, it all was really sinking in, my chest squeezed tight, the lump that's been hanging out in my throat for the last week ready to choke me.

after this week, i'll never drive south on highway 75 and turn left on 4th street. i won't go all the way down to the end and turn into the driveway we built when i was nine. i won't climb the steps and go through the back door and then the other back door (all good midwest homes need a heat-trapping back entry...) i won't walk on the beautiful hardwood floors that squeak, climb the creaking stairs, or sleep in my old yellow bedroom with the white wall-to-wall-cupboards-instead-of-a-closet that Dad built for me when i was young. and the kids that take over my room will never know the pain and torture of removing multiple layers of wallpaper. they'll never see the orange flowers that were covered up by my lavendar bows.

even though my playdays are long over, i won't go up into trav's-old-room-turned-playroom-turned-guest-room and pull out the dress up clothes and bepa's old costume jewelry. i won't tear down the spiral staircase, skipping the last few stairs and swinging between the bars to crash on the dining room floor. i won't run away from Al or Trav by taking the main staircase instead of the spiral staircase. i won't play catch with Dad in the backyard or make a fort under the old pine tree. 

i won't pull the christmas candles out of the china closet drawer or help Mom set up the nativity scene in the built-in shelf on the china closet. i won't peek out my bedroom window and see the Dordt sign or see my neighbors i know well walking down the wide streets. i won't check the orange glow of the streetlight to see for the hundredth time if it's snowing yet. i won't ever rake the leaves of the dozen or so trees our family planted in the yard over the last 26 1/2 years (i remember them being tiny--when did they get so tall?)

i won't play with the ringer on the door of the front porch or open the laundry chute that's been closed off that used to house our upstairs phone with the long, twisting cord. i won't get to see our house hit 100 years old in 2014 (at least not from the inside). i won't open the attic door with fear that a bat will come flying out. and i won't ever walk in the living room and see Dad and Mom sitting in their recliners, watching the 10:00 news.

Mom and Dad's new house will never be home to me. i can say, "home is wherever they are" (and there's truth to that, too)...but yet, it's not. i've realized in the past few years how shaping place really is. 

last night, philip and i talked about the new creation. will place matter then? or will the new creation be a wonderful combination of every place we loved here? someday, i will have a Home that is much more home than 351 4th Ave in Sioux Center. until then, i'll be missing this one.

Edit: I've now returned from Iowa, from saying goodbye to my childhood home. It was good and sad all at the same time. I'm sure it won't be real until my next visit.

Also, I noticed that I can no longer see the Dordt sign from my bedroom window. We planted pine trees 20ish years ago, and they've grown so tall as to hide the sign from view.
 My bedroom
 Living room with beautiful built-ins
 Built-in china closet
 The best pine-tree fort ever (50+ year old tree)
 Spiral staircase
 Traditional pose
Goodbye, old girl.


one month

 Our bedroom
 Family room
The small part of our backyard

We have now lived in our new place for a month...and it's never a dull moment around here. In fact, Philip just dashed past me to see the raccoon that was chilling by our compost!  We've settled in well, had a couple of "family meetings," and have worked out lots of details. We enjoy 4-5 dinners together per week (taking turns cooking, which means we can put more effort into the nights we cook!) and watch TV and play games together. We have our separate private time, of course, but the co-housing situation has been going really well. I'm enjoying living with Nate & Kendra. In my opinion, it's been the best of both worlds: marriage and roommates.



movin' on

it's official. we're moving. in three weeks. across town to a rented house with another couple. after several months of discussing co-housing and the savings it will afford and good challenges it will present, the four of us have decided to move in together. our house sits on a triple lot with plenty of room for a garden. there are four bedrooms (two for each of us), two bathrooms (one for each), and two living rooms (both of which we'll share).

things i will miss:
  • our apartment. we love it. it's in a great neighborhood with great views and a wonderful set-up. i love the huge windows, the light, the white walls and light carpet, even the silly appliances that make lots of noise. 
  • our neighborhood. we're right on a walking trail, two blocks from two different parks, two blocks from the church where my choir practices, two blocks from the neighborhood coffee shop, a ten-minute walk to great restaurants, 15-minute walk to the marina...
  • the level of privacy we have now.
things i look forward to:
  • meals around the table together!
  • not having to worry about driving home after hanging out together
  • being able to live in a house with a yard and garage
  • saving money!
  • learning to maintain relationships on different levels (marriage and friendships)
  • growing in those relationships!
  • a slightly shorter commute
  • getting rid of stuff we've never used in our 2 1/2 years here (moving is great for purging...)
so, during my spring break this week, i will likely be packing some things up. i've already gone through some cupboards and thrown away stuff and put things in a box for goodwill. 

not only are we moving, but my parents called yesterday to say that they sold their house after having it on and off the market for about 4 years. i'm excited for them, since this has been on their hearts and minds for awhile, but i'm also sad. this is the only house i remember living in--the house i grew up in. it's nearly 100 years old, it has a lot of quirks and character, and my parents (and we kids, on occasion) have put lots of work into making it beautiful. i most likely will not see it again before dad and mom move, so i'm glad we got out to iowa for christmas. i'm also grateful that i've made a home here in bellingham and don't feel that iowa is my only home.

my grandparents will also be moving. they've both had many health issues in the past few years and especially the last month (grandma has diabetes and recently had a stroke; grandpa has parkinson's and recently broke his hip). they're both doing relatively well, but are in different care facilities in different towns. soon they'll move into a care facility together. today they were able to see each other and celebrate grandpa's 85th birthday--a huge blessing.

things are changing.


the ides of march (well, almost)

sick again. not so fun. i feel like i should be getting to work on the end-of-the-year planning (since we're dangerously close to the fourth quarter. where did this year go??)

it looks like we're moving, possibly at the end of this month. more on that when the official word comes. i'm excited about the future, but very sad to be leaving our fantastic apartment. i can't imagine loving another place more (but Lord, i'm prepared to be wrong...hint, hint.)

flying to california next week with 40ish 8th grade students. hopefully my need to be responsible will override my anxiety about flying. i've been reminded recently that we are to come before the Lord boldly with our requests. my most recent bold request is that i love flying rather than dread it.

also, i've become very dependent on my husband. what a great thing! except when i leave for four days and miss him terribly (never mind that we spent months and months apart when we were first dating. i cannot imagine doing that now.)

ophy is a lazy cat. we're good company today.


a smattering

a few things on my mind:

1. money (always.) today i paid off all my student loans (yayyyy!!), and now i'm thinking of the next step. philip's loans. he has a lot more that we need to pay off, and i'm itchy to just pay them all off in big lump sums. i keep reading about others' successes with becoming debt-free, but it's going to be a journey for us. i wish i could just accept this. he's still in school and we're living on one income and another occasional part-time income. i don't understand how others are able to pay off $30K+ in one year. i don't think it will happen for us.

anyway, my loans are paid. that's one thing to be grateful for!

2. lent and cheese. i've been thinking lately that i eat way too much cheese, especially considering my doctor wasn't too excited about my cholesterol levels last august. sigh. so, for lent, i will be giving up cheese during the week. i'm allowing myself to eat some cheese on the weekend (on saturday night pizza for sure). i'm not sure i can go cold turkey. but hopefully this will lead to better health.

3. exercise. my school is doing a staff fitness challenge through the end of the year. we're on teams and racing to new york. i'm on a pretty incredible team. i can't say i'm contributing my "fair share" of miles (considering i have marathon runners on my team), but i'm certainly out and about more than usual this nasty time of year.

4. february. it's kind of a nasty month. several people i love have birthdays this month (dad, sarah, jordan, abigail...), but otherwise, it kinda stinks. i think the word "doldrums" describes it well. motivation is low (students' and teachers'), and so is patience. the sky is dreary and rainy, with spring feeling far away. (spring here in western washington just means lots of rain, so i'm not really looking forward to it anyway).

5. meetings and obligations. i do like singing in chorale and being on the board, but man, it takes up a lot of time (except tonight. i'm skipping since i'm feeling under the weather. yet another delightful treat from the month of february). i also have school meetings this week and a conference on saturday and worship team on sunday and an oil change and...anyway. it's all hitting at once.

all right. signing off to return to my book. trackers by patrick carman (he's speaking at the children's lit conference i'm attending this weekend). i'm learning a lot about computers (or skimming...)


snow days

we are on snow day #4 here in whatcom county. my three-day weekend (thanks to mlk, jr. day) turned into a nine-day weekend.

i'm not really complaining, except that this was supposed to be exam week, we were supposed to have a nice workday today to grade exams and projects and prepare report cards...and now we're pushing exams to next week.

and i also have a terrible time being motivated when i have "endless" hours to complete my tasks. tuesday was ok. i was semi-productive and enjoyed reading and watching a movie. wednesday was great: philip was home most of the day and we attacked the spare room and other projects with a vengeance. (too bad we didn't quite there are piles of stuff everywhere.)

but yesterday. ach, yesterday. it was horrible. i had things i could have done: cleaned bathrooms, scrubbed floors, organized cupboards, made a menu plan, planned for next quarter, finished the Old Testament, removed my nail polish from the october wedding, hung photographs, blogged...well, the list goes on. did i do any of these things? no. i sat in the chair almost all day, reading, napping, watching movies, and eating unhealthy foods. not that there's anything inherently evil about any of that stuff, but i certainly wasn't doing it out of enjoyment. i did it because it required very little of me and was the easiest thing to do. by the end of the day, i was super crabby and tired and annoyed with myself. knowing philip was coming home, i made a nice dinner for him and lit candles and cleaned up the apartment a bit. that's motivation right there--someone to interact with. it was a much better end to an annoyingly long and depressing day.

anyway, today has been much better. i cleaned, actually left the apartment (i did some school planning at the neighborhood coffee house), ate a healthy lunch, and did some laundry. i feel MUCH better. i'm rereading little women right now, and there's a chapter devoted to the girls' laziness and how it makes them crabby, restless, and irritable. lesson learned, little women. lesson learned.

in spite the excitement of having a few unexpected days off school, i'm ready to go back to work. i'm grateful to have a job and purpose and motivation to fulfill my tasks.


a little bit of peace

many changes since the last post. my new attitude toward the situation made the time with rod and vonnie and other family special and memorable. we said goodbye to grandpa on january 3, and commemorated his life on january 7. grandma moved down to california on january 9. and now we've had a week of a "new normal." the week was tiring and busy--we forgot what normal felt like. once or twice i thought we haven't seen grandpa and grandma in awhile--we really should stop by. and then i'd remember that that time has passed now. it's sad. but also a relief that what we'd been waiting for for several weeks happened. we're grateful for the time spent with grandpa and grandma.

grandpa & grandma at our wedding. special.

philip and i needed some together time after the last few months. the thing about living far from family is that every time we travel, it's to visit family. and we've had a year (6 months!) FULL of family. it's awesome. but a definite downside is that we don't often take time for just the two of us. we've gone away once since our honeymoon, and it's been close to a year since then. so this weekend, we planned to go away. 

well, we intended to stay overnight somewhere, and then decided to take the money we'd spend on accommodations and spend it on something else. we decided to take the ferry to friday harbor--we took the ferry that stopped at all the other major san juan islands (lopez, shaw, & orcas) so that the ride would be longer and we could see other ports. we didn't really want to stay in friday harbor for 3 1/2 hours, so we turned right back around and headed back to anacortes. on the ferry, we read, took pictures, and just relaxed. we left a cloudy mainland for a sunny friday harbor, and found sunshine when we returned to the mainland. after relaxing at home, we ate out at the big fat fish co. in fairhaven. never been there before, but it was yummy! 

a few pictures from our trip:

 stormy weather
 so peaceful (except that i was reading about war...)
 silly birds at the orcas island port
 clouds breaking
 sunny friday harbor
 sadly, we have very few pictures together. we're not really poser types, i guess.

also, i've been reading books like a fiend. i've finished 5 since january 1 (four of them have been finished in the last 72 hours--this tells you how great i am at starting books...)


new year.

much has happened since my last post. thanksgiving, christmas, and a pile of visitors and stress.

let me say first that christmas was excellent. we flew to a snow-less iowa and spent 8 days immersed in family, friends, and games. it was difficult to leave again--i thought it would be easier this year, but after getting used to being back in iowa, it took a mental adjustment to be ready to come home. and home is wonderful, too. we missed ophy and our bed and our space. but being with my family was spectacular.

this break was much needed, since grandpa haveman's health has been plummeting the last two months or so. hospital stays, a move to the care center, dealing with grandma and her's been a rollercoaster. time and time again we've heard "hours to days." each time this occurs, philip's parents fly in, prepared to say goodbye again (three times since i last posted). having guests in our home is wonderful, but this kind of visit is stressful. it involves frequent trips to the hospital and/or healthcare center, and planning for meals and guests all while remaining flexible in case something happens. i really feel for my mother-in-law. i'm continually amazed at her patience and steadiness throughout this difficult time (and for my father-in-law and his support of her!)

just before leaving for iowa, philip and i stopped by to see grandpa and grandma in the care center. it was december 20: my 28th birthday and their 61st anniversary (great coincidence?) we assumed this would be our last visit with grandpa, and it was pretty special. philip had written a letter to them thanking them for being an example to us and encouraging them with scripture. i read it out loud to them, choking up a bit and feeling thankful for the time we've been able to spend with them these last three years.

i have to admit, i've been pretty stressed out about this situation which is completely out of my control. i haven't always been so hospitable or generous--i mostly feel that i want everything to be back to normal. i like my space and my routines, and having them disrupted definitely affects me and the way i act toward others. but this weekend (with my in-laws here again), i've heard a good sermon reminding me of God's forgiveness of my actions, inactions, and general sinfulness, and remembering that God has a purpose for this time. i know he's preparing me for other things in my future, and this is a time i can either use to be frustrated and selfish, or it's a time to give generously even when i feel i can't. ultimately, i am remembering that i can do nothing on my own, but only through Christ's strength.

it's a new year. i'm praying for God to transform me (again). i like january. fresh start. simplifying. low-key? i can hope. i'm grateful to take this life day by day.

also, an excellent book: sitting at the feet of rabbi jesus by ann spangler and lois tverberg. it's changing my perspective of the old testament, which hasn't always been so positive. looking forward to gleaning more from it.