Sunday, March 1, 2015

keeping busy

We had a special treat a week ago!  Some friends from home were at Disneyland, and they came by for a day.  We explored the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach together, then came home and enjoyed dinner.  Two of their girls spent the night here, then they all came back the next morning to see ‘our’ beach and enjoy the surf.  It was sure hard to say goodbye when they left! 

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Shortly after our friends left, I decided it was time to pick up some body boards.  Oh. My.  The boys LOVE them!  They do require the ability to time the waves, and Ryan got the hang of it right away.  They are now wishing the weather would warm back up so they can hit the beach again.
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They also LOVED the minus tide we had one day…

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And over the weekend, we went exploring.  My parents were supposed to come visit, but my dad got sick so they couldn’t make it.  We packed up Saturday morning and headed for the hills.  Literally!  We ended up at the San Gabriel Dam, where the water level is INCREDIBLY low.

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We stopped for lunch, then headed into LA for one more adventure:  a visit to the La Brea Tar Pits.  One of the advantages to a Pacific Science Center membership?  Reciprocity agreements!  We had a wonderful time exploring the George Page Museum and the tar pits.  We’ll be back there, for sure!

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More adventures to come, I’m sure.  Stay tuned…  Smile

Thursday, February 12, 2015

sand in the shorts

Yesterday, we went to the beach.  Nothing unusual in that.  Logan wore swim trunks; Ryan wore a pair of reversible Adidas shorts.  This pair, in fact:   

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Again, nothing unusual.  Ry doesn’t love wearing swim trunks.  After yesterday, though, he may change his tune.

As is their pattern, when we got to the beach, the boys immediately grabbed up their football and headed for the water and a game of catch.  They love trying to time it with the incoming waves.  After playing catch for a bit, they tried some bodysurfing.  It was fun, so they did it for a bit.  Ryan’s reversible shorts have a mesh side…and the waves forced sand between the layers!   We all laughed at the sand, and they settled back into playing on the shore.  This time, it included digging holes at the water’s edge, so every time a wave came in, it spread their piles of sand everywhere.  By the time they were ready to call it a day, it was apparent we had a minor problem: how to keep skinny Ryan IN his shorts for the walk home!

We managed.  Barely.  His normally confident stride was reduced to a step-step-hitch walk.  And, sand kept running down his legs, spreading lovely brownish colored streaks down the backs of both legs.  I’m sure we were quite a sight to behold.  Once we got into our neighborhood and into the alley behind the garage (I don’t let them come in the front door after the beach), he quit hitching up his shorts.  It’s probably a block from the end of the alley to our garage door, so by the time we got there he looked like one of those high school kids with shorts hanging down.  His shorts were barely hanging on, tucked neatly under his little butt cheeks. 

We left the shorts on the patio to dry, hoping than when they were dry we’d be able to get the sand out.  This morning I went out to see what we could do, but not before I put those suckers on my kitchen scale!    Weighed them, shook them out, then weighed them again.  There was ONE POUND of sand in between the layers of his shorts!  And that’s DRY sand.  Wet?  I can’t even begin to guess how much it weighed.  The pile is pretty good sized:

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His comment this morning? “ I think I’ll wear my swim trunks from now on, Mom.” 

Good plan, little man.  Good plan.

Monday, February 9, 2015

“Not wrong, just different”

Before we headed to China to adopt Ryan, one of us was required to attend a travel workshop put on by our agency.  (This was in place of the ‘parenting babies’ class they typically required of adoptive parents—with 4 biological children, we had pretty much mastered the parenting babies thing.)  The day was pretty much a waste, except one small nugget:  it’s ‘not wrong, just different.’  That phrase was well used while we were in China the first time, since there are many cultural differences that felt ‘wrong.’  Recognizing them as simply ‘different’ made the trip much smoother.  Since then, it has become a common refrain in our home.

That mantra is oft-repeated these days.  Taking reusable bags to the grocery store? Not wrong, just different.  Choosing the 2 loaves of bread for the double loaf pack at Costco? Not wrong, just different. Paying to put at book on ‘hold’ at the library?  Not wrong, just different.  Finding that many churches here start their Sunday morning service far later than we’re used to?  Not wrong, just different.  Iced drink stands on the patio instead of coffee carts in the lobby at church?  Not wrong, just different.  Small groups that meet on campus and all study the same thing?  Again, not wrong, just different.  No AWANA or Upward (sports for children) but mid-week Bible study for grads 3-6?  Not wrong, just different!   The ‘California culture’ is not what we’re used to.  It would be easy to focus on all that is ‘wrong’'’ but instead, I want to see them as opportunity for refinement.  For growth.  For maturity.  I want to be mold-able.  I want to go back home in 2 years changed on the inside.  I want to trust God more fully, seek Him more faithfully.  It won’t be easy.  It hasn’t been so far.  But He promises to never leave me nor forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; Joshua 1:9).   He promises new mercies every morning (Lamentations 3:22-24).  So…I will trust.  I will not be terrified or discouraged.  (HA!  Easier sad than done.)  And He’ll do the rest.

The only thing I can think of down here that is simply WRONG, not just different?  This:

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In my world, you’re not supposed to be able to play on the beach in February!!  This is what I’m used to:

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And I miss it already. 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

getting there

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This was Tuesday.  The sun was shining and the beach beckoned.  Never underestimate the value of time to play on homeschoolers finishing schoolwork in record time!  After spending time playing in the waves studying wave action, the dynamic duo moved inland a bit to see the effects of sand on throwing, running, and catching skills.  See? 

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The rest of the week was cloudy and/or drizzly so we focused more on schoolwork and tying up the loose ends around here—things like parking passes for our cars (so we don’t get tickets in the neighborhood!) and kitchen tables.  Today the sun is out again, and Daddy is home.  How to spend a glorious Saturday?  How about at the beach?  Digging holes and playing football took up most of their morning; I enjoyed sitting in the sun and reading a book.  Ahhh…the good life.

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We had talked about taking a road trip this weekend to the Bay area to watch our sweet friend Katie play basketball at UC Berkeley.  Because it’s been a challenging week, we opted to stay here instead.  It would have been wonderful to spend time with Katie’s parents and some other friends who live up there.  I would have cried for sure.  Surprisingly, there have been almost no tears since we left. I anticipate they’ll come.  Maybe in another week, when Jim heads to Wichita for a few days and I’m completely on my own.   Another adventure!  Fortunately, Jim’s travel has never bothered me, so I don’t expect too much trouble.  Smile

Days like today I love almost everything about being here.  I still miss home terribly.  I know church tomorrow will not be what I’m familiar with or even necessarily what I’d like.  But that’s okay.  God is stretching me.  Growth is good.  Hard sometimes, but good.  The things I have learned, even after only 1 week at a new church, will be useful when we go back home.  

In the meantime, I have sights like this to enjoy:

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And a boy with a bloody gash after a tumble at the park!  Gotta run…

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Settled. But it wasn’t easy!

No pictures.  Sorry.  After the weekend we’ve had, I hope you’ll forgive me…

We arrived safely in Huntington Beach Wednesday evening.  Checking in to our hotel brought some ‘interesting’ news—the garage at the hotel was too small to fit the Suburban/U-Haul combination so we’d have to leave it parked on Pacific Coast Highway.  Umm…okay.  Sort of.  But, we survived, and headed over to the condo Thursday morning to meet with the agent and do the pre-move walk through and condition report.  Done.  Then the fun began.  Nothing like trying to unload a 12’ trailer with 2 adults (one with a seriously bruised hand) and two 10 year olds.  We managed quite nicely.  The boys were excellent help!  After finishing the unload, we made a Costco run while we still had the trailer, since we didn’t move a bed here for Jim and me.  Lunch at Costco?  Check.  Shopping?  Check.  (Too much money?  Double check!)  Home Depot stop?  Check.  Run back to the condo, unload the new bed and the other stuff, then head out to a) return the U-Haul; b) pick up Jim's rental car (provided by Boeing until his car arrives here); and c) visit the Time Warner Cable store to pick up the cable box and modem.  Such fun.  :\ 

What we didn’t know is that those were the easy things.  Jim headed to work on Friday, and the boys and I set to work to finish the unpacking.  We also ran a few errands—to Target and Costco (again).  Came back with no problem and put a pot on the stove to simmer.  That’s when the fun REALLY began.

The cooktop circuit popped.  No big deal—I knew where the circuit breaker was.  Went in and switched it back, then headed back to the kitchen to turn the stove back on.  Bad idea.  That choice resulted in blown circuits throughout the house.  After a couple phone calls and some texts back and forth with Jim, we loaded up to run a couple more errands and charge my cell phone.  When we got home, the power was still out.  The property manager wasn’t any help.  I finally asked Jim to come home.  (Nice.  First day on the new job, and he has to leave early to ‘rescue’ his wife.)  He figured out how to reset the house, which was great.  Only problem came when he switched the circuit for the cooktop.  A loud boom, some orange sparks, and a bunch of smoke confirmed a serious issue.  Another call to the property manager yielded a promise to send an electrician on Saturday.  After a dinner of oven-or-microwave only food, we prepped for both a handyman (to install a new smoke alarm) and an electrician to stop by this morning.

The handyman arrived first.  He needed to do some work on the hot water heater and the gas fireplace, and needed to install a carbon monoxide detector and a new smoke detector.  No problem.  He got started.  Then the electrician arrived.  He looked over the cooktop and pronounced it completely dead.  Duh.  Knew that.  The orange sparks and the smoke pretty much convinced me.  He collected all the necessary information and said he’d have the property manager process an order for replacement on Monday.  Who knows how long I”ll be without a cooktop??  Oh well.  Life’s an adventure, right?  Yup.  Today proved that.  The electrician left, and the handyman returned with some supplies he’d had to go pick up.  Lucky guy—I greeted him with a new problem.  The garbage disposal had turned into a geyser.  In the midst of all this, Jim is climbing the walls.  He has the skill to fix all the issues but doesn’t have the right tools with him.

Eventually things settled down.  The sink and garbage disposal work.  The cooktop is no longer dangerous (the breaker is switched off).   The boxes are all emptied and everything is put away.  The desks are assembled.  We enjoyed a walk to the beach, and discovered that it takes all of 5 minutes to walk there!  We watched some surfers enjoy the big swells.  We picked up tonight’s oven-baked dinner.  We finally got the cable and internet working!!  (4 calls to the provider later…)  Tomorrow is Sunday, so we have another new adventure before us…visiting a new church.  That should be interesting.  We shall see…

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Go!

With move in scheduled for January 23 (now January 22!), some things had to change.  I cancelled the movers when we got back and we made shifted how things were being packed.  After talking with our relocation coordinator, she gave us the go-ahead to do a ‘self move.’  Yep.  We’re nuts.  We picked up the U-Haul Friday afternoon and packed it up Saturday.  But…it’s not a truck.  We are moving for 2 years, and packed up nearly everything we need into a 6’ x 12’ trailer.  Hitched to the back of the Suburban, we’re quite the sight rolling down the road!  Fortunately, most of our stuff is easily manageable and moveable by just Jim and I, or Jim and the boys and I.  Everything fit neatly and was packed in without major incident.  I’m sporting a pretty significant bruise on one hand but we’re looking at the bright side:  no bones are broken.  THAT would make things much more difficult.

After an incredible Seahawks game Sunday afternoon (GO HAWKS!!), we finished packing the last minute stuff and locked up the trailer.  Monday after breakfast we hit the road.  Medford was the goal.  Easily doable, right?  Traffic wasn’t great.  We stopped in Eugene to see my nephew at the University of Oregon.  And we finally arrived in Medford about 7.  Up early this morning and back on the road for another day.  Tonight, we’re in Lathrop, where we found a fantastic little Italian restaurant where we celebrated Ryan’s 10th birthday. 

One more day on the road, but tomorrow night we’ll be in a hotel about a mile from our new place.  Thursday brings the walk-through to do a condition report, then we’ll move in.  Friday Jim starts at his new office!  What a whirlwind.  I’m happy with the schedule, though, as it gives the boys and I an opportunity to settle in some on Friday.  We can finish up anything needing Jim's help over the weekend, then we’ll start back to school and a new routine on Monday.

As we take this step, I’ve been hanging on to Psalm 37, especially verses 3-5:

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.                 Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.

So the adventure continues!  Stay tuned…

Sunday, January 11, 2015

get set…

Well, the trip to California was a success!  We have a place to live.  The experience was not without its challenges, and I know for sure that life in California will be different.  Guys on Segways towing surfboards on trailers?  Um…okay.  84* in January?  At the beach?  Not in my world!  Or…more accurately, not in my current world.  When we move?  It’s a definite possibility.  Matter of fact, we saw 80*+  on 2 of the 4 days we were in southern California.  THAT I could learn to love.  Quickly.

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It was difficult to deal with the lack of commitment from leasing agents as we looked for a place to live  We contacted(via email AND phone) at least 8 different people, hoping to see 8 places while we were there.  Of the 8, only 3 replied, and only 1 actually followed through to the point of showing us a place.  The others just blew us off.  That was hard.  But God had bigger plans for us.  We just had to wait to see it unfold.  And unfold it did!

Monday night I was discouraged.  We’d seen a couple options and 1 seemed reasonable.  We were willing to live there and decided we’d fill out the application on Tuesday.  It weighed heavily on my mind Monday night, and Tuesday morning I turned on my computer for one last check to see if anything new had come up.  One.  Just 1 new option.  No pictures--just a description. I called the phone number and set up a meeting for the afternoon.  Oh. My. Word..  EVERYTHING we had hoped for, and then some.  God provided in a big way!  We filled out the application on the spot and handed it to the agent.  She processed it that afternoon and let us know the next morning that it was ours.  We are SO set!  The place is amazing.  3 bedrooms.  2 1/2 bathrooms.  Big windows with lots of light.  A big screen TV with surround sound.  Patio furniture.  Community pool.  Close to the beach (2 of the bedrooms have a peek-a-boo view even).  Gorgeous kitchen.  2 car garage.  Even a boat dock!   See?

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We will spend this week packing, then head out next week.  Move in is scheduled for January 23.  While it will be HARD to leave our girls here, we know our house is in great hands.  The opportunities for growth (for all of us!) abound, so we’re ready.  Sort of.  If we have to be.

Stay tuned…

Saturday, January 3, 2015

On your mark…

Tomorrow starts the first chapter of the new adventure, as Jim and I board a plane and head south to Los Angeles and sunshine.  Why?  Well…to go house-hunting, of course!  Yes, you read that right.  The ultra risk-averse, stable engineer is taking his family (okay, PART of his family) on something completely out of character.  Jim has accepted a temporary assignment with Boeing in southern California.  He starts soon.  We leave sooner.  And I’m NOT ready.

Leaving some (most!) of the crew behind isn’t appealing.  Leaving my parents behind isn’t appealing.  Leaving family and friends, church and co-op behind isn’t appealing. Leaving babysitters behind isn’t appealing!   But I agreed to go.  It is an honor and privilege that Jim was asked to consider the assignment.  There are things that will be such fun in this adventure.  The little boys cannot wait to go to Disneyland! Jim loves the beach.  And I love the sunshine.  But my heart is torn. 

People ask when we’ll be back.  (December 2016 at the latest.  And no, we’re NOT staying permanently!  My farm-boy husband thinks there are too many people here.  Can’t imagine he’ll love LA for any length of time.)  People ask about our house.  (Emily is living here while we’re gone, and she has a friend or 2 living with her.)  People ask if we’ll be back to visit any time.  (Yes.  Logan is having surgery here in April.  That stay will be about 3 weeks.  The boys want to come home to go to church camp in July.  And we’re taking a cruise from Seattle in August, so the boys and I might just combine that into 1 longer visit.)

Even though I’m not ready to go, I know it’s the right thing to do.  We are excited to see what God has for us in this new adventure.  What new things can we learn?  What is God going to teach us that we can apply when we are back home?  Who is God going to bring into our lives in this new experience?  It’s been a LONG time since we’ve lived in an apartment/condo/townhouse.  Where will we see God’s hand as He directs this next chapter? 

Stay tuned.  Smile  And pray for us in the first step of the adventure, that we would be wise and discerning (and successful!) as we look for a place to live. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

popping in…

Yes, I know.  It’s been FOREVER.  Lots has happened in the last 6 months.  In the last year!  And there are lots of changes ahead. One of the cool changes this year?  Emily graduated from Washington State University in May!  See?

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The biggest change so far?  This:

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(l-r, back:  Tori, Jim, Jennifer, Hailey, Alec, Brent, Carol, Rod, Emily; front:  Ryan, Logan)

On what felt like the wettest June 28 ever, Hailey got married in a beautiful outdoor ceremony not far from here.  Alec, her husband, is an incredible young man, and we’re thrilled to have him as part of the family.    Some more pictures of the day

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The whole extended family:  Alec’s siblings +spouses, his dad, his granddad, and Hailey’s whole family.  What a crew!) 

It was an incredible, amazing day. It POURED…starting right after we decided to go ahead with the outdoor ceremony.  It rained all through the processional.  And the ceremony.  The sun came out when the pastor pronounced them husband and wife and gave Alec permission to kiss his bride.  A bonus?  There was a rainbow at that time.  SO cool—nothing quite like seeing God’s blessing right there. Also, it needs to be said that the day would simply not have come off without the outstanding help of my sister in law Cathy.  She was more than my right hand, and she was indispensable!  It is so cool to see your children take such a big step!  Hailey and Alec live about 5 or 6 miles from us.  Ironically, they live in an apartment right next door to the apartment Jim and I lived in when we were newlyweds. 

There are other big changes afoot in the Kassebaum house.  (No, not a grandbaby!)  We’re taking another journey, embarking on a new adventure.  This one doesn’t involve adoption, though.  Stay tuned for more details! 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

It’s been forever

Yes, I know.  It’s been a long time since anything’s been posted.  And this will be short.  It’s just that this is far too good to pass up. 

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It’s an apt description of what’s going on in the lives of 2 little boys.  God is good.  He is repairing little hearts, slowly but surely.  This gives me hope to be patient while He works.