NIENABERHOOD

Mike, Ashley, Will and Shepherd here, so glad to have you!

Given that we are a family whose heart is for intentional relationships yet live so far from a good deal of family and friends, we want to use this as a connecting point for all of you who are close to our hearts but miles from our home.

So let’s think of this as a sort of cyber-porch. Come and visit. Stay a while, hear what’s happening in our (growing) family, let us know what’s going on in yours. We may not be able to share a cup of coffee, but we can share encouragement, comfort and wisdom. Thank you for being in our lives, for being our friends. We are so grateful to be a part of this community.
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After a strange turn of events, we say so long to our beloved “urban tractor”. Thank you for introducing us to “clean driving”. You converted us to bio diesel junkies, and there’s no going back. Our perspective on stewarding this earth in all our decisions, great and small, is forever changed. You gave us 4 years strong and the roadtrip of our lives as we voyaged into a new season in the wild Wild West. You will be missed, but never forgotten. #itsjustacariknow #butisit? #urbantractorsrule #mycarslouderthanyourcar

I like to view the sabbath as a glimpse into the world as God intended it. It’s a day when I try to practice right relationship with God, with others, and with Creation.

We just got this new water table for the boys, and I came out to find this. I think he likes it.

This park is 8 minutes from our house. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?! (at Seward Park)

Ok, it’s time to spill the beans.  I apologize for all the hype, all the build up.  Actually, you know what, I don’t. Anticipation is fun and we all need a little more excitement in our lives.  So, you’re welcome :)

But the truth is, I’ve been a little afraid to tell the good news.  A tiny voice of fear has whispered in my heart that it’s too good to be true, something bad is going to happen and it’s all going to come crumbling to the ground and you’ll look like a fool for believing this is your story, your tale of redemption before it ever really happens. (Hmmm, this sounds slightly familiar….)  But after a couple weeks of getting beat up and robbed by that life-sucking lie, I’ve come to my senses.  I’m taking our story back and my joy with it!  Even though we’re officially a week away and there are still a few small things to work out, here is the happy ending to the last crazy year of our lives…..

One week from today, WE WILL OWN A HOME IN RAINIER VALLEY SEATTLE!!!  What WHATTTT!!!! And it’s beyond our wildest dreams…..

(This is the view of Lake Washington and Seward Park from the kitchen and dining room windows.) 

For those of you who know our story of leaving Atlanta, specifically leaving our home in Atlanta, you know the craziness we’ve been through.  The faith-building, heart-wrenching, soul-searching end to our time in Atlanta was a tough one.  But God has never EVER left us without his peace through it all. When we didn’t know what we’d do for work, where we’d live, who we’d call friends in a new city, God answered MIGHTILY.   

It was over a year and a half ago when we began asking ourselves if we’d move to Portland for a job.  During that process, Mike and I both felt God leading us to Seattle.  We had no idea what our lives here would look like, just a faint glimmer of a life based around community building in the South Seattle area.  But it has been the most joyful of journeys to watch it unfold, the pieces continue to fall in to place, one after the other.  Our church community at Emerald City Bible Fellowship, Mike’s amazing job at Rainier Health and Fitness, so many friends for me and the boys to easily connect in with, and now, this house. We are incredibly humbled.

We canNOT wait to move in.  We see ourselves there for a long time and get giddy thinking about all the ways we will make it our own.  A garden, some chickens, maybe even a solar powered hot tub filled with reclaimed rain water.  But one thing is for sure, we will do our best to remember that God has done all these amazing things for a reason, and we will continue to ask how we can offer back the gifts we’ve been given.

And that starts with you! There’s always room in our house for friends, so please, please COME VISIT US! 

Because I have a running list in my head of all the awesome things I’d love to share with you every day but have very VERY little time to sit down and punch it all out here at the computer…. (ok, let’s be real, I have time at night after the boys go to sleep, but Mike and I have a high standard on googley eyes and hand-holding time to keep our marriage rockin’ sooooo,)…..I’d like to take a quick minute to share some fun things I think are worth sharing while all 3 of my boys take a catnap today (YES, ALL THREE I SAID!!! HALLELUJAH!!!).

1. LIBRARY LOVE - Being a parent is such a fun way to unashamedly live your childhood all over again.  One of my favorites is heading to the library every week and picking out all the classic storybooks I grew up on.  Here’s a few old ones and a couple new that I *ahem* WE are digging these days as the seasons change….

For the love of SPRING and all you green-thumb friends…a classic!

To visually inspire your kids curiosity as we get back out there exploring the world in these warmer seasons

For all my Midwest/East Coast friends still ankle deep in the white stuff :)

A beautifully creative back-to-nature allegory inspiring freedom for all, written by a Polish expatriate couple during WWII 

2. FLAX SEEDS FOR BAKERS!-  I just got done baking my first batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies made with ground flax seed as a substitute for egg…..and they taste delicious! Who knew?! As a healthy option we’ve tried smashed bananas or applesauce to replace eggs but there’s always been an obvious difference in the taste or consistency.  Not so with our little flax seed mixture. Just mix 1 Tbsp ground flax seed with 3 Tbsp water and voila, egg substitute complete with Omega 3 up the wazoo! Now cookies can truly qualify as health food! (Ssh, don’t tell Will).

3. Community Development at it’s finestURBAN IMPACT - Urban Impact is the non-profit organization that is the umbrella collective over Rainier Health & Fitness where Mike works as a personal trainer.  Last night we attended a fundraising fondue event to benefit their work, and can I just say that these guys are legit. Like LEGIT legit.  I am blown away at the incredibly creative & restorative work they are doing in the Rainier Valley, and have been doing for the last couple decades.  If you are at all interested in Christian Community Development, check them out ASAP.

4. HEROS AMONG US - One of my best friends from college married a guy serving in the Army in a special forces unit.  When I first met him, I was wearing a shirt that said something along the lines of “Make love, not war”, so it’s safe to say I don’t think we see eye to eye on all things (he’s a great guy, we just don’t talk politics).  But if you’re a believer you know there is evil in the world, and when you know someone who is putting their life on the line to combat that evil in heroic ways, you need to celebrate it. My friend’s husband recently received honors for valor for putting himself in direct danger to protect civilians lives in Afghanistan, and he (and my friend Rachel and her two kids) deserve to be celebrated for all their sacrifices for freedom’s sake around the world. May God continue to protect their family. (Read the story here, about halfway down the page, his name is Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Drew.)

5. REDFIN - Probably most of you who have bought, sold, or rented a house have heard of Zillow, a website/app that allows you to place your property on the market and also view available properties without the involvement of a third party (ie realtor).  Redfin is basically the same thing, just better. It offers more accurate and up-to-date information all from your smartphone.  We’ve logged many hours on this app the last few months browsing hundreds of homes, all from the comforts of our couch/bed/car etc.  Check it out if you’re on the hunt!

Well, that’s it for now, I hear a babe crying so off I go.  But again, if you saw my recent facebook post, there’s some BIG NEWS we can’t wait to share with everyone, so keep an eye out!  (PS- There’s a hint somewhere here on the blog :).  Happy Saturday!  

Friends and family, I canNOT believe it’s almost March! I made a goal for myself that I would blog at least once a month in 2014.  Well, since we celebrated the new year in another state (with my family in Indiana) that equals roughly a month of recovering from the holidays and getting our heads in the game for 2014, so I get a pass for January.  Glad you understand.

February marks the onslaught of birthdays for our family, 3 in the course of 6 weeks!  We celebrated Will’s third birthday a couple weekends ago (his is February 11th), and it was such a blast! Mike’s boss let us use the fitness center for the party, so we let our inner child come out and decided to build a really bad A obstacle course for the kiddos.  It included balance beams, tunnel crawling, even a rope swing that ended with landing in a pit of stuffed animals. Seriously, it was so cool.  A bit chaotic trying to lead a dozen 3-6 yr olds through, imagine those little dollar store games where you try to get the tiny metal ball to go through the maze- only this game had 12 metal balls that didn’t understand the idea of “wait your turn” and only wanted to do the rope-swing part landing on top of each other…. you get the picture.  But not an injury to boot, so all in all it was an awesome day.  Oh and in following tradition, Mike made the cake himself with a Seahawks logo on it that looked awesome and Will loved!  (We won’t talk about the fact that we were up til midnight the night before using unimaginable amounts of icing to get various pieces of too-soft cake to stick together to resemble a two-layered cake.)  I wish we had a picture of before the icing overhaul, it would redeem our efforts even that much more…. anyways, GO HAWKS!

image (Now remember, imagine 2 inches of icing on this bad boy…) 

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(I think he liked it! The icing paid off.)

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(Part of the obstacle course before the madness.)

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(A big room full of balloons was a hit for the cruisers.)

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(A big, nearly IMPOSSIBLE foam puzzle was a hit for the grown-ups.)

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(We ended with Will distributing gold medals to all his little buddies.)

*****I would have liked to end this segment sharing an adorable video of the kids doing the obstacle course here, but somehow after viewing it 57 times Will deleted it off my phone, which the NEVER happens…..of course….******** 

My birthday month has never snuck up so quickly, and since I’m turning the big 3-0 I feel like I need to do something edgy.  I’m hoping to plan a big trip somewhere warm sans kids with some of my girl friends this summer, but in the meantime, maybe I’ll get my nose pierced again.  That should do it, right? Actually, Mike got a couple days off work so we’re trying for a weekend trip up to Vancouver! My first time across the northern border, that will definitely do!  This year I have Shepherd’s birthday to prepare for this month too!  He’ll turn one on the 14th and it’s just starting to hit me that I’m probably going to lose my baby to toddler-hood much sooner than I thought. He’s been walking since he was 9 months so it shouldn’t be a surprise to me, but now that he’s showing progress in the sleep department (just the past few days he’s finally slept through the night!) I’m letting myself mourn (just a little) the small days left behind.  If you’re a mom, you know what I mean…  Anyways, here’s some video of this kid in action…he’s got serious wheels….

Mike continues to love his work at Rainier Health & Fitness, leading spin and group strength classes, offering personal training and now he has a new found passion for working with seniors! Yes, it’s true!  Can you just imagine with me Mike sitting on a chair leading a dozen or so seniors through silver sneakers class?  Melts your heart doesn’t it? Well, it does mine.  He’s realized he really enjoys working with them, improving the golden years of their lives with increased mobility and energy. And the seniors receive him such warm rapport, I had one woman come up to me and say he’s just the most respectful young man she’s met! It is so awesome to see him shine in all his new roles.

As for me, I supported my first birth as a doula at the end of January and it confirmed for me that this is absolutely something I could see myself pursuing.  It was long, but it was electric and powerful and almost as transformative as my own births, if that’s even possible.  It was such an honor to walk alongside my sister and brother-in-law in this sacred time, and I am beyond grateful to them for the opportunity.  The timing of it all couldn’t have been more perfect, happening over the weekend so Mike could watch the boys and even drive Shep over so I sneak away to nurse him.  Their midwife was such a supportive person to both them and me in my first-time role as doula. I couldn’t have asked for a better first-time experience (not exactly sure my sister-in-law would say the same after 40+ hrs of labor….)

It’s a bit daunting to think about offering that kind of support to couples I’ve only just met, but knowing the powerful effects of having a doula at a birth are enough to push me through those doubts.  I am excited to start taking steps forward with this, but it will be a slow start as I still have little ones myself that require a good amount of hands-on momma love.  I mean who wouldn’t want as much time as possible with these snuggies?

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Thanks for taking the time to check in on us, we are currently in full-swing with house-hunting on the South side so hopefully you will see an update with positive news on that front soon. Be well!

Love slowing down and just watching this one explore his world.

So this has been going on for the last week. Shep is walking but I’m not sure his 9 month old balance is ready for it…

Ok so here’s a fun little montage of my little model boy. The last shot will be used for his “vote for Will for class president” campaign.

Another from the photo shoot we took a while back of Will in my Dad’s childhood suit. Melt. Me. This mothering thing is just TOO MUCH!

Shep’s new trick! **please excuse our post-Christmas toy explosion**

Our first Christmas morning as a family in our own house ( not at one of our parents homes). So special! We made cinnamon rolls, read the Christmas story, sang happy birthday to Jesus then opened presents. Love starting new traditions!!

Snowwwww! This makes my Midwest heart so happy!!!

One of my life goals accomplished this year- learn how to build a fire (that lasts more than a few minutes). Who knew it would take living in a house with no central heat and 30 degree weather to do the trick… And thanks to my lumberjack-hunk-of-a-teacher @nienaber80 !!!