Category Archives: Friends & Family


For those who have been keeping up with us, you’ll remember that my goal for 2018 was to keep going.


One of my biggest efforts in the new year was to keep getting out of bed before the kids, to sit in my blue chair to think and pray. This didn’t happen every day in 2018, but it happened more consistently than it has in years.


In those times I saw many beautiful sunrises. Some days I saw darkness and just the faint hint of the lines of the mountains in the distance. Sometimes the sunrises reflected my mood or circumstances. Sometimes it provided hope in sadness or a reminder of the darkness that is still with us even when we feel light and free. I did meet the Lord in my blue chair times, and for that I am so grateful.

In 2018, I also wanted to keep going in my effort to build more empathy into our family interactions. Although we are far from perfect, I do think my own self-awareness and attempts at acknowledgement and compassion, are creating a ripple effect among these people I love so much. I look forward to seeing this continue in 2019.

On a practical level, my role in the last year has mainly been a supportive one–to help Jason and the kids keep going as they go out into the world. I’ve planned and packed for trips, thought ahead for activities in the afternoons and on weekends, organized play dates, and made many meals. I’ve organized for holidays and celebrations. And I’ve tried to make our home a warm place to come home to.

One of the very best parts of all this busy work is the fact that I felt more healthy and energized in 2018 than I have in years. I could not only keep up with our goings on, but be intentional about what we are doing and why we’re doing it. This profound change is thanks to my sleep apnea diagnosis and CPAP therapy. At first I felt a bit sheepish about being in my 30s going to bed with a mask and tubing on my face every night. That embarrassment went away pretty fast when I felt ten years younger!

For the kids, keeping going has meant Ian continued on at Ridgecrest Elementary this year. Imogen joined him as a first grader and Beatrice started Pre-K at Westgate Chapel. Ian was not excited about the lack of change, Imogen was excitedly curious, and Bebo just sucked her thumb a lot which kept her from telling us how she felt about preschool. Just as you would with the last born, we are assuming she’s fine with it.




Many of you know it has been hard for me to see my people head out the door, and all at once. I do miss homeschooling, and the kids being around more. I have cried many tears this year about the change, and wondered if we made the “right” choice. Jason has had to tell me “Let’s just keep going with this and see where it leads.” This has been difficult and comforting to hear, all at the same time.

Jason kept going on his journey through a Masters in Finance at Seattle University. Wait, what am I saying, we kept going, because getting a graduate degree is truly a family affair! He has been gone many evenings and sometimes I forget that the kids haven’t seen him for two or three days straight. They have all been troopers, and all things considered, the program has actually turned out to be less rigorous than we expected.

Jason continued his job at McMillen-Jacobs, moving from a contract to full-time position in May. The job is a great fit, a mix of building massive spreadsheets while managing and working with great people. He feels valued and valuable to the company. If you have known Jason and our family for any length of time, right now your heart is burning with an enthusiastic AMEN to all of this. It has been a long, difficult (and sometimes dramatic) journey to this point in Jason’s career. We all want it to keep going!


All set up to commute to work in Seattle rain

Of course we kept our epic summer vacation adventures going this year. Jason and Ian did a road trip that included Crater Lake, horseback riding in southern Idaho, and visiting the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. At the same time Imogen and I went to Minnesota again, Beatrice went to Grandma T’s, and we all met up near Glacier for a Kiemele family reunion.




I’m so glad Jason didn’t get mauled by a bear, despite his efforts to get as close as possible to one.


Immy and I’s Minnesota adventures





Reunited as a fam in Whitefish and Glacier National Park





Summer 2018 also included some glorious bike rides. Jason and I both got new bikes in the spring and by July I found myself riding the Grand Rounds in Minneapolis, country roads around Whitefish Lake, and of course the Centennial Trail in Coeur d’Alene. In those moments keeping going literally meant keeping the wheels turning over the next hill or on to the next viewpoint.




Jason kept up his culinary adventures this year, focusing mainly on cooking meat and making cocktails (I haven’t minded either endeavor!). He added a sous vide, a smoker, and a sizeable bar setup to his collection of cooking paraphernalia. By the end of the year I was getting kind of tired of perfectly cooked ribs, which goes to show how much of a luxurious culinary lifestyle I live.

I think both Jason and I would agree we worked at keeping going together in 2018. We spent some lovely Sunday afternoons at Ridgecrest Pub, planning our budget, dreaming about future travels, catching each other up on our internal worlds. We rode our new bikes together and went on weekend walks with and without the kids.

Together we made some big, important decisions for our family in 2018, and I couldn’t be prouder of how we have worked as a team–with prayer and intention. It has been a hard road for us the last few years, but I can see how God has used our individual strengths and our uniqueness as a couple. It makes me want to keep going.


We ended our year with an exciting addition to our family–an Australian Shepherd/Border Collie named Ruby.


If you’ve never surprised children with a puppy, you really should.



Keeping going with Ruby has meant taking her out to go potty again and again, even if it’s dark and rainy, it’s 7am, and I’m in my bathrobe. But she’s so stinkin’ cute the inconvenience is worth it.

As for 2019, the theme for this year is this:


As we walked through Advent in December the word “waiting” came up again and again. Initially I was hesitant to put the words “Just Wait” on my wall, where I walk by it again and again every day. Patience–ugh!

But I am trying to remember it is a hopeful cause, filled with expectation. It is an invitation to trust God in the places that feel unfinished and unknown. It is a reminder to be patient with others and with myself, knowing that God is up to something in our hearts, and we will see glimpses of His orchestration and movement as time goes on.

On a practical level, I am waiting for graduate school to be complete (March 2020!) and for more family time together. Every day I’m preparing for Jason and the kids to come home. I’m waiting to see what we decide about the kids’ education next year, and wondering what my role will look like in our home and in the world. We are waiting to see if maybe this is the year we move on remodeling our house.

God’s gentle whisper says, “Just Wait.” I think it is coupled with a playful wink.

Here’s to waiting–and a whole lot of keeping going while we wait–in 2019!

*Beautiful handwritten lettering by my dear friend Lauren, of Ink and Eben.


All I’ve got (new pics)

I’ve been working on some writing projects off and on for the last month or two but everything is disjointed and muddled. I don’t have much of anything pressing to say about life, which bothers me. Even with prompts, I’m coming up almost empty.

The best I’ve got are little snippets of words and pictures from our days that I post on Facebook. What started out as an outlet to practice being succinct (and honestly, get some instant gratification with all your liberal “like”s) has turned itself into a whole lot of nothing else.

It feels like I’m living in the shallow end of the pool. I’m not sure what to do about that.

Haven’t I said this all before? Oh yes, that’s right; I say it about every other post on this blog, going back for a couple years. Oy.

I have made a little progress recently by bringing all our photos up to date on our Flickr account.  Now you can find new photos all the way back to December 2015. (Disclaimer: It’s almost all kid pics.)

Until I write again . . .



Photos from 2015

After several recent posts I’m realizing my theme, at least for now, is 2015. I guess I’ve gotta catch up.

I had so much fun taking photos in 2015, so here are my most favorite. I will say that for me, in my novice photography skills, the best photos are mostly ones of luck. Very few include the right lighting, depth of field, or focus. But I hope that I’ve caught the moment or the person, and the skills will hopefully sharpen as I practice.

Jason has been the encourager of my interest in photography, but he’s also been the technical man; educating me (and reminding me again and again) what aperture, shutter speed, etc., mean. He has helped me take the image I can see with my eye and use the tools in my hands to try and make that picture happen.

Jason even took a few of these photos, which makes me excited because it means I’m actually in some of them!

Enjoy–though I guarantee you won’t have as much fun looking at them as I did being in the moment and capturing them.


































These photos were taken with a Nikon D60, mostly with a 50mm lens.

Heartfelt thanks

During this pregnancy my psychiatrist told me I needed to find a significant amount of help for the first 12 weeks postpartum.

12 weeks is a long time.  That’s 2,016 hours that could potentially be filled with tearful meltdowns, bored children up to no good, sleeplessness, a colicky baby, piles of dirty laundry and dishes, hungry stomachs, poopy diapers, and other variations on the definition of chaos.

In the months we took to thoughtfully prepare for our new addition, I continued to get the impression from the Lord that this prescribed help would come from a lot of different people.  And that a good portion of that help would come from people I didn’t know all that well.

This made me uncomfortable.

But, as we drew closer to Beatrice’s arrival, God sent people who committed to help. Sometimes it was because we asked; other times people knew to ask.  That 12-week period ended a few weeks ago, but we didn’t even have to contact all the people on our help list.  That’s a blessing I did not anticipate!

I want to publicly thank those that have supported us in the last few months, and that’s what the rest of this post is for.  I also wanted to write this all down so I can come back and remember.  This is how Jesus came to us in this season and got us through.

*These thanks are not in any particular order and if I’ve forgotten anyone please, please forgive me and know that I appreciate you.

Jason – you are still married to me because 1) you are extremely loyal 2) God has given you incredible strength and 3) He holds all things together.  Thank you for not only wanting me and us to get through this, but for wanting us to thrive and for doing so, so much to see that happen.  You are also amazing for doing night duty for three months.

Mom – you’ve done pretty much everything for us around the house.  And you never cease to entertain us either! You’ve also listened to me when I’m crazy and empathized when I’m in tears.  You’ve just generally been motherly and I have needed that.  And you’ve been there for Ian and Imogen during a time when they need extra love and attention.

Sarah T – you have kept our household from falling apart!  I can’t say thank you enough for your care of the kids, your hard work, your flexibility, and your asking how I am.  You and your family are a Godsend.

Cindie – thank you for being there, once again, for the birth of a Haggard baby.  You have given me such thoughtful and personal care and counsel with each pregnancy, but especially this one.  And you are always so good to remind me that you are thinking about me and praying for me.  You pray harder than anyone else I know.

Sherri – for giving breastfeeding expertise and encouragement in the first days and weeks as Beatrice and I tried to figure things out.  It was so nice to have you come over or to know that I could call if I had questions or didn’t know what to do.  Nursing has continued to go smoothly.

Jessica – for being my dear friend and now I can also say, my doula.   I am really glad you were able to be such an integral part of this pregnancy, labor and birth.  One more drama we’ve walked through together!

Jane – you just kept bringing food.  And more food.  And more.  It was wonderful.

Ben & Allison – thank you so much for taking care of our kids on the spur of the moment, on several instances.  They had a lot of fun and just today they asked if they could go over to Isaac’s house again 🙂

Sara B – for seeing me at preschool in the months while I was pregnant and getting the sense that I needed some help (which I did!).  Thank you for giving Ian rides home from preschool.  I’m glad Ian and Ellie have become buddies and I really hope to get to know you more in the future.

Alicia – for donating breast milk I could use in the early days after birth.  It really took the pressure off of me and aided my ability to sleep at night.  And thank you for offering to continue to pump if needed.

Amanda R – for being so excited for us when my water broke that you stayed up the rest of the night and then still took our kids for the rest of the day so I could go about the business of having a baby.  Also, for dealing with my inconsolable child who didn’t want to sleep at your house.

Lynette – for bringing us your amazing pot roast plus other food, as well as handmade baby gifts and a big tub of clothes to go through.  And that day you took my kids for like five hours–that was amazing, too.

Emily N – for coming over, taking care of your kids and mine while also somehow managing to clean parts of my kitchen that had been neglected for months.  I don’t really know how you did that!

Amanda D – for your life coaching and for offering to be my birth assistant.  I really felt honored that you would ask and want to be there.  Also, for the great foot rub.  I look forward to pow-wowing with you soon and setting personal goals for the future.

Michelle – thank you for supporting me through prayer and emails as well as the specially made Chinese postpartum food.  Also, when you nod your head when I share parts of my story at BSF it makes me feel like I’m not so crazy after all.

Brenna – for knowing I could call you if I needed to talk and for calling at the right times to check in.  I really appreciate it.

Kathy – thank you for offering your postpartum doula services to us at just the right time. You’ve helped me gain confidence as a mom and it has been so nice to know I can ask an expert questions when I have no idea what to do with my baby (which is more than you would expect with a third child).  If anyone needs postpartum help, connect with Kathy!

Brittany – for coming over and doing night duty (and doing it so well), even though you have a little one at home to care for.  We got some great sleep that night.

Lisa – thank you for giving us your Sunday afternoons so many times and finding creative ways to entertain the kids.  I know Jason especially appreciated that he could nap during that time since he was so dead tired there for a while.

Monica – for being so excited to see me back at BSF and for praying for us.

Nathan and Natalie – for coming over and cleaning all the floors in our house (they were nasty!), and with smiles on your faces.  They looked so shiny and pristine, which is a treat for me, and so I am thankful for your elbow grease.

Sarah L – thank you for being so available to come over and help and for being so persistent in getting here even though Jason gave you the wrong address!

Linda – for spending the good part of two days of your visit here cooking in my kitchen so I could have delicious freezer meals to get us through the last few weeks.

Alyssa – for the absolute perfect voice mail you left me.  I still have it on my phone to listen to on particularly crappy days.  It makes me miss you, too.

Ashley – for holding my baby so I could take a shower, even though your baby was screaming on the floor.  I found it amusing, I’m not sure if you did at the time!

To everyone who prayed for us.  We really needed it and God was faithful through your intercession.

To everyone who responded to my requests on our church’s website for baby supplies – absolutely everything you’ve donated or lent has come in incredibly handy.  Julie – I especially appreciated all those newborn diapers!

To everyone who made food for us.  It was delicious and we had plenty extra to carry us through.  Also, thank you, Blythe, for organizing meals for us and for everyone else in need at our church.

To friends and family who sent cards, money, gifts, and congratulations.  It feels really good to know that those who are far away are thinking of us and celebrating with us.  It’s also nice to get a fun treat in the mail or put cash towards diapers or medical bills 🙂

After this experience I can say that it has become a lot easier to ask for help (and that’s saying a lot).  It also makes me look forward to the day when I am more fully able to help others – hopefully that day won’t be in too long.

Many, many blessings,


(and Jason, Ian, Imogen & Beatrice)

30th birthday celebration

June has been the month of parties.  And of course we have good reason to celebrate with two Haggard birthdays five days apart in the first part of June.

The party for Imogen was sort of inevitable, but even I was surprised I was thinking about having a party for my birthday, being the introvert I am and how the last year has gone.  The thought of organizing anything seemed a bit daunting back in April when I was thinking about it.  But it’s the big 3-0; I felt like I had to do something memorable.

Around that time I was talking with some friends about all this and my hostess-with-the-mostess friend, Blythe, piped right up and said “I’ll throw a party for you!”

I thought about it for a while and then settled on it.  I will admit, Pinterest had something to do with it.  Yes, it can take over your life, but dang it has good ideas. It just makes you want to have a party (or two, in my case).

I will say that Blythe is really good at throwing parties.  She talked with me about the party beforehand and we landed on a small evening event, just ladies, with mango mojitos and Mexican appetizers.

Once that was settled I went to, you guessed it, Pinterest for some ideas to throw Jason’s way, since without his consent I had volunteered him to do some of the cooking (he did happily accept the challenge when notified).

The menu included chicken flautas with avocado cream sauce, shrimp ceviche, a smorgasboard of chips and various dips, and dessert (I’ll get to that later).  And of course, the mango mojitos.

As the date of the party approached, I was really looking forward to seeing how Blythe was going to set-up and decorate.  Her hospitality seems fancy and luxurious to me, without feeling stuffy at all.

But I really wasn’t expecting the surprise in store for me at this party–there was a theme and it was called “30 Things We Love About Elisabeth at 30.”

Blythe had collected feedback from ladies at our church on what they appreciated about me and had a graphic designer put together a beautiful collage.  She had it printed on large pieces of paper which served as the tablecloths and gave me a smaller framed version of it to have as a keepsake.

I was a bit overwhelmed when Blythe explained the whole theme to me.  Kind of like I was overwhelmed when she volunteered to throw me a party in the first place.  I am in shock that God has given me such thoughtful, talented, caring, sacrificial friends.  People that love me – many people of whom I didn’t even know just a few short years ago.

The rest of the night entailed chatting, eating, drinking, opening presents, a few rounds of catchphrase, some prayer and more chatting.  It was a great night.  Sometimes I get stressed during parties, wanting to make sure that everyone is mingling and feeling included.  I really didn’t worry at all during this party, it all flowed so smoothly.

And of course there was the birthday dessert – chocolate flourless cake a la Jason, with whip cream and raspberries (pictured on the back of the table below).  Because nothing Jason makes can be simple or unsophisticated, this dessert was made with Belgian chocolate and French butter (yes, I also didn’t know French butter existed, but I suppose if anybody should have a butter named after them it should be the French).

I will say there was one really sad moment to the night (besides my pre-party meltdown, but that is typical for me and was alleviated by an SOS phone call to my good friend, Jessica (who reminded me of reality) and of course some food).

Anyway, my other sad moment was when I got out my camera to take pictures of all the beautiful-ness at the party and the battery was dead!  I am still greatly annoyed about that.  Thankfully, Blythe also served as an impromptu photographer so you can get a good sense of the whole affair.  I just wish I would’ve thought to have a group photo taken.

Thanks again to Blythe who blessed my socks off with all her party-throwing skills, and my friends and of course my husband the chef.  You all made this so fun and meaningful for me.

And I thank God for 30 years of life.  I wish I had something profound to say about my past or my future at this particular juncture, but I don’t.

On a more superficial note I will say that I hope the next 30 include more fun parties likes this and more of Jason’s desserts.

Next up, Imogen’s 1st birthday. 🙂

What we did in April

February and March were pretty dreary for us (me), as you know, but in April things started to improve.

First, I went in for a check-up with our midwife and when I told her about how tired I was feeling, she suggested I try to eat more consistently, specifically more protein.  When I measured small at the end of the appointment, she was even more sure this was why I was feeling so tired.

She was right.  It’s amazing what keeping fuel in a pregnant woman on a regular basis will do for the energy levels (and mood)!  Although I cringed in the Costco line when the total came up, it was worth it.  And I was thankful that it was not my thyroid that was giving me troubles; my labs came back looking great.

With my improving energy levels, I felt like what we had on the calendar for the month (and even some spontaneous things that came up) were much more doable.

You already know about our yard drama, so I won’t go into that further.  Except I will say that some teeny little seedlings are coming up now.  I was getting worried, but my hopes are up again.

The first weekend in April we headed to Whidbey Island so I could take a little photography class from Kim Nelson.  I was her only student, which was very nice.  She gave me some helpful tips, and I spent some time messing around with the camera on the beaches of Langley (and everywhere else I’ve been this month).

As a result, I have taken a TON of photos lately (not many of which I am all that impressed with).  But, the grandparents will eat it up, right?  In the hopes this doesn’t deter you from the rest of this post, here are the April photos.

In other news, Jason did the Bellevue 10k and Ian did his first kid’s dash on April 17th.  I mentioned this previously, as we were all excited about it, especially Ian’s race.  Jason was feeling lackluster about his upcoming performance, but Ian was getting more and more pumped.

Jason ended up having a great race.  He felt better than he expected–less out of shape than he thought he would.

Sadly, the kid’s dash was a disappointment.  The warm-up activities were a bit too long for Ian. When we were just about to leave, a race official showed up and they decided to get the race going, so we stuck around. Ian got back into it at that point and was excited as he got with the other kids at the starting line.

Ian is in the red shirt on the left.

The race began and Ian was off with the rest of the kids but he only got about 100 feet down the course and the Seahawks marching band started up.  It was meant to be a morale booster for the kids, but Ian burst into tears because he hates loud noises.  When we reached the finish line Ian got his ribbon, but as you can see, he was not all that excited about it.

On a hopeful note, he still talks about racing, so I think there are more running events in his future 🙂

What has been way more fun for Ian has been the numerous visits to the Museum of Flight that we’ve taken this month.  Our membership was soon to expire so we took advantage.

None other than Chuck Yaeger himself

We celebrated Easter with Mom again this year.  Of course it is an exciting time because it means the resurrection of Jesus, which we’ve been talking to Ian about. He now enthusiastically says “He’s risen indeed!”

But it was also exciting because Grandma T brought Ian his very own Lightning McQueen swim outfit.  For the last couple months every time we go to Costco he asks us to go straight to the kid’s clothing so he can look at these beauties.  He hasn’t asked to buy them, he just wants to look.

And now he has his very own, modeled for you below.

Included in Mom’s visit was a shopping trip to IKEA and TJ Maxx and a sunny Saturday spent at Discovery Park (Ian can fly a kite all by himself!). We also made Easter cupcakes (which turned out to be a bomb, except for the delicious marshmallow frosting, which I would’ve eaten all by itself).  And, we had a nice Easter brunch out.

One of the great blessings of having Mom here was that Jason and I did a little getaway that Sunday afternoon and stayed downtown for the night.  After the pregnant lady had a bawlfest because she was tired from an already-packed weekend and was predicting what she thought would end up being a disastrous attempt at romance, we headed to the Westin and had a wonderful time.

We spontaneously stopped in at a Sushi restaurant (totally not like us), then hung out in the hot tub, and enjoyed the drama of Will & Kate’s romance on an in-room flat-screen TV (I wasn’t the only one enthralled).  We slept in and got up in the morning to head to the Dahlia Bakery for overpriced hot donuts with rhubarb jam & mascarpone (I will definitely try this combo at home!).  AND, I didn’t hyperventilate–not even once–at the amount of money we spent.  For that reason alone it was a total success!

After we came back to reality and Mom left for home there was a flurry of housecleaning.  Then Grandpa Brad & Linda came for a visit.  We did another trip to the Museum of Flight and a nice walk around the Arboretum.

And, we finally made it to Delancey (Jason’s been waiting so long).  It ended as all good things should–with Molly Moon’s.  I thought I would regret passing up the salted caramel for salt licorice, but let me tell you,  it was ohh soo worth it.

Sitting here thinking about it all, it’s no reason my belly has grown 5 cms in the last month.  I’m reminded that I ate a lot of good food.  (Thank you to the family members who funded much of our eating out.)  I’m also exhausted thinking about all the things we did in between that eating.

May looks to be as much, if not more busy, what with an upcoming baby shower and college reunions for both Jason & I.  I’m excited for it all, but am also looking forward to a few weeks of solitude and nesting in June before Baby Girl arrives.

Christmas traditions

I remember in 2007, our first Christmas together, the discussion around traditions began.  It was very interesting to compare our experiences growing up.

I assumed we would have a fancy Christmas Eve dinner followed by a fancy Christmas Day breakfast followed by a fancy Christmas Day dinner.  We would go to a Christmas Eve candlelight service.  And of course we would open the majority of the presents on Christmas Eve over dessert (after all the fine china was hand washed, of course) and then open the “Santa” presents (the big ones, either in size or price) on Christmas morning, along with the stocking stuffers.

Jason’s Christmases of past were a little different.  And when I say different I mean toned down.  His family made pizzas on Christmas Eve and had a more relaxed, family style meal.  I don’t remember if they went to church on Christmas Eve or Christmas.  Most of the gifts were opened on Christmas Day.  A reading of Luke 2 took place as well as a special book called The Littlest Angel.  Sometimes they reenacted the nativity with costumes.  Santa was fictional and presents were not a huge focus.

There are things I like about both of our childhood experiences.  When my mom pulled out the boxes and boxes of decorations it was a big deal to me.  I especially loved taking each ornament out of the box one by one as we put them on the tree.  We had boughs along all the banisters.  The Snow Villages came out and I would pretend they were little doll houses.   There was a sense of routine around the season which I found comforting and an appreciation of beauty that I carry with me today.

Jason’s experience also sticks with him.  He is adamant that we read Luke 2 during this season, as he did growing up, and I really love that.  I also love the sense of togetherness that the Haggard’s relaxed traditions brought about in their family.  I want the presents to be sacrificial and special, but I want them to be minimal, as it was for Jason. I don’t care when they’re opened.

Obviously you can tell that I’ve been thinking about this topic, or I wouldn’t be writing about it.  Back in October when I started thinking about Christmas, the first things that came to my mind were what kind of cookies, cards, and decorations I wanted to do.  Sadly, it was not how I wanted to use these or other things to cultivate a sense of wonder in my home about the birth of Jesus.

But, the Lord has been moving me along.  First it came with Amy’s post on her blog about the nativity and then a book she recommended entitled Treasuring God in our Traditions.  I found it very intriguing, ordered it, and have just started looking through.  The author shares some great ideas for kid-friendly activities that I’d like to incorporate or alter in the coming years.

Second, is Advent.  Neither Jason nor I celebrated this growing up, but I have always had a vague understanding of it and have become more interested in the last few years.  It is perfect for children (and adults) because 1) it’s a daily reminder of the meaning of Christmas and 2) it’s all about anticipation.   Amy also posted about some of the things her family is doing for Advent, which was very helpful, since I really didn’t know where to start.

So what are we doing this year?  A little of Krohn, a little of Haggard, a little of our own special twist.  That last part is important; Jason reminds me that it doesn’t matter so much what we used to do or what other people are doing (I compare), but that we make sure we’re sensitive to what God wants for our own little family.

My hope is that there will be lots of excitement and thankfulness about Jesus’ birth, in whatever we do.

Here are some of our activities (the *ed ones are new for us):

  • *Our own version of Advent: we’re reenacting Luke 2 every day with Ian’s Fisher-Price nativity set
  • Singing a Christmas song before bed
  • Christmas music at home and in the car
  • Handmade cards to a few people with Ian’s 2-year photo
  • Eating TJ’s Peppermint Joe Joe’s and some sparkly drinks
  • Having a baking day so we can deliver cookies to Jason’s co-workers
  • *Learning a few Christmas songs on the piano
  • *Cutting down our own tree
  • Making pizza for our early Christmas celebration with the Haggards and probably a reading of The Littlest Angel (but this time without Bill falling asleep, as Jason fondly remembers him doing growing up 🙂 )
  • Christmas Eve service
  • Fondue and another reading of The Littlest Angel on Christmas Eve, probably along with Luke 2
  • Top Pot doughnuts on Christmas morning
  • Something fancy to eat on our fine china on Christmas

I love traditions.  I love that God gave us a salvation story to celebrate and that the celebrating of it every year is in itself a tradition.

Bye Bye Vikeslands

Ian’s been saying “bye bye” to a lot of things lately–the park, meal time, Lizzie, Daddy.  Anything that he’s leaving, or is leaving him, or is just ending for the time being.

Little did he know he’s been practicing for a very big bye bye.  The Vikeslands are moving to St. Louis.  They leave tomorrow.

I am really excited for them because I know St. Louis will be a great adventure.  Alyssa says it’s the first big thing her and Kabyn have done together as a couple (besides having a kid).  I know it’s going to be a time of growth, of new relationships, of learning things about themselves and each other that they didn’t know before.

But, I am also really sad.  For me, for Ian, for Jason.  The Vikeslands have been really good friends to us.

I first met Alyssa probably three or four years ago.  I was living with Sally and she had mentioned this friend she’d been hanging out with.  I eventually met her on our front steps after she and Sally had gone running one afternoon.  And we became friends.  Because if you know Alyssa, you know that all she has to do is meet you and you are automatically her friend.  That’s just how it goes.

Sally told Alyssa about the Story Group we were forming that fall and she wanted to join.  And so for the next few months seven or eight of us got together and talked about God and shared stories from our lives.  A lot of them were hard stories.  So Alyssa knows a good portion of my junk and I know hers.

Then she introduced me to Jason.  She had been triathlon training with him through the summer.  This inevitably leads to talking about all kinds of things and getting to know your training buddies quite well.  And then one day she had the revelation that Jason and I should know each other.  This was, of course, after having sworn she would never set anyone up ever again.

This time it worked.  When I say that I don’t mean that we immediately clicked, began a whirlwind romance, and thanked our lucky stars that we both knew Alyssa.  I wasn’t sure–for what seemed like forever.

Alyssa and I spent a lot of time over IM talking about it, about fear and risk and “how do you know?”.  She had started dating Kabyn at the time. Despite her own distractions, she talked me down off the ledge of relationship-related despair on several occasions.

Then we got married . . . and then we got pregnant two months later.  I vividly remember the day I went over to Alyssa’s house and was going to tell her the news.  I walked in and she held up a pink onesie that said “Daddy’s Little Girl”.  I was confused.  How did she know?

She didn’t.  She was just unexpectedly pregnant, too.

I had a miscarriage and Alyssa kept going.  In that time I realized that having a baby now (which was then) wasn’t so bad of an idea after all.  And then I was pregnant again, before we could even make a decision.  And Alyssa and I were back in the same stage of life.

Almost two years later and we’ve spent a lot of time together.  Kabyn & Jason have been fiances, then husbands, and now dads together.  They’ve drank beers, watched games, talked theology, told stories.

And Alyssa and I have have spent a lot of time together at our house, at least a day a week if not more.  She sitting on the couch working and me folding laundry, doing dishes, picking up, cooking, playing with the kids.

I’ve made her lunch and she’s listened to me as I struggled through the thought of leaving Mars Hill.  We have talked about our marriages, and of course, our kids.  A lot of time on the kids topic–sleeping, breastfeeding, solids, discipline, weight, height, the list goes on.

And our kids have spent a lot of time together.  It’s one of the hardest things to think about it in their moving away.

Alaythia really truly loves Ian.  She talks about him all the time.  If Ian talked more he would probably talk about her,  but Alaythia has a particularly special affection for him. The other day Ian  gave her a big hug and the weight of his body toppled her dainty little self over and she hit her head on the leg of the desk.

She cried.  But it didn’t keep her from being thrilled the next time he wanted to touch her face or pet her or just get uncomfortably close.

And Alyssa really truly loves Ian, too.  In all the time she’s spent with him playing games, eating cheerios, crawling around, and being silly, I can tell she thinks he’s so great.  And on a deeper level than most other people.  That has made me feel so good as his mom.

Alyssa has really loved me, too.  She’s always generous, giving me her time, her stuff, her food, her prayers, her insight, whatever.  I really appreciate that about her.  She’s even given me her friends.  She introduced me to the moms I spend time with every Thursday at our play group and see at church on Sunday.  She just loves to include people.

Today Ian said bye bye to Alyssa and Alaythia.  Alaythia said bye bye back to him.  Then we went to our big window and waved goodbye and said bye bye a bunch of times more. Well, he said bye bye and I cried and he was kind enough to give me hugs.

I know I will see our friends again.  They will be back to visit.  But we won’t go through life stages together like we have, in the same way.  Our kids will grow up and change.  Even our marriages, our circumstances, our struggles, our joys will change.  And we won’t get to be there, up close.

Despite the sadness, God has done something great in giving us our friends that I have been so very blessed by.  I know there are other people out there who are going to be blessed by the Vikeslands, too.

Haggard hospitality

This has been the month of visitors.  First it was Mother T, then the Franci popped in between Australia and Sweden, then Corrigan from Haiti for a night, then Dad & Linda for a long weekend and now a good portion of the Haggard clan.

Three out of four weeks.  Whew.

For this reason I have barely kept up on email or returning phone calls or anything really, that pertains to the outside world.  If you’re one of those people, I’m sorry, you will see my face one day, some day, soon.

We’ve had quite a good time with everyone, but I have not the energy to report on it all.  So, I’ll stick with last week and all the Haggards–the Jared Haggards, Jason Haggards, and grandparents all together.

We went to the zoo, Pike Place, downtown, the park.  We ate Korean short ribs and Thai chicken soup.  And a lot of desserts. We played Spoons and Game of the States. And we frequented our local Redbox often.

Jared, Rosheila & Aidan left on Tuesday and since then we’ve slowed down a bit.  More movies, a trip to the Museum of Flight, Costco, Value Village & Goodwill.  We ate at The Counter last night (it was great) and strolled through the samples at Theo today.

Actually, that doesn’t sound like we’ve slowed down at all.  But we really have.  I even got nine hours of sleep last night.  I’m still giddy about it.

I wondered how Ian would do with having so many people around, but he’s absolutely loving it.  He crawls into Grandpa‘s lap without thinking.  He plays hike & seek with Grandma.  He greets everyone with “Bbbbphhhhhhh!” (a cross between blowing air out his mouth and spitting everywhere). I guess introvert x introvert = extrovert.

Today we registered for the Cd’A Tri and have plans to register Jason for the Seafair and Black Diamond olympic, too.  My training officially starts tomorrow (it’s a rest day :). I’ve been preparing for actually beginning the training, in more ways than one.  But more on that later . . .

Here’s photos.

Snow adventures

It’s a bit odd to say that last weekend was all about snowbumming seeing as how there is no snow to be found here in Seattle.  In fact, it was about two weeks ago that I started feeling a bit silly wearing my furry boots out and about.  And I just noticed this morning that the trees down our street are blooming a vibrant shade of pink.  That’s supposed to happen the end of March.

We went to North Idaho because surely we would find snow there.  Nope.  No snow.  No flowers blooming, mind you, but still much warmer than usual and definitely no winter white.

As you can see we eventually found it.  But we had to drive several thousand feet up two different mountains to get to it.

The first trek was to Mt. Spokane for some skiing & snowboarding.  Shell is offering B1G1 lift tickets at select ski resorts and Mt. Spokane was one of them.  Cheap is very motivating, so away we went.

I was the lone skier, everyone else snowboarded. I was very impressed by Jason’s skills, seeing as how he said he wasn’t very good at all.  We cruised along at the same speed, which was very nice.

Then my hands turned to stinging burning blocks of ice.  That wasn’t so fun.  To me cold = misery.  But that was toward the end and as you can see, I recovered in time for this photo.

Our second adventure was snowshoeing at Lookout Pass. I love snowshoeing because it doesn’t require much skill and you can make it as easy or as rigorous as you want to.  Plus, Ian can go along now that we have a kid pack (thanks Tiff & Ash).

This was both Ian and Mother T’s first time snowshoeing and I think they were in agreement that it was a good experience.  Mom even said she wanted to go again sometime.  That means it was a major success.

We started out on the Hiawatha trail, which is the location of an old rail line, so it’s wide and flat.  As you’ll see, Jason is sharing with Ian everything he needs to know about snowshoeing.

You can surmise from the video that we ended up in the woods.  The Hiawatha got a bit boring so Jason took us off and uphill where we traipsed around for about an hour with a stop for snacks.  By the time we made it back to the trail the sun was shining and we were very pleased with our adventure.

Jordan brought his sled and after we got back to the car he and Jason wanted to take Ian for a little ride so they headed for the lodge and the bunny hill.  I don’t need to say much more than that, since the video captures it well.

Moments of elation very soon followed by the depths of despair.  Such is the life of a toddler.

When we weren’t out in the snow we were mainly sitting around eating and watching the Olympics.  We also got a chance to visit Chad & Keisha in their new home in Spokane which was so nice.

The combination of all these things made for a great mini-vacation.

See more photos here.