Saturday, August 30, 2014

Happy 7th Birthday!!

Happiest of Birthdays to our sweet Kate!! 

And of course, I have to post another 7th birthday for a birthday girl oh-so-long ago. What a great cake, huh? Thanks, Mom!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Movin' in!

I realize it's been a while, but we've been swamped! Unpacking boxes and locating items needed has taken most of our free (and not-free) time these last few weeks. And we're still not totally moved in yet, as we're still waiting on our minivan and non-temp storage (sigh!!) but we'll focus on the good points instead of the frustrating ones! :)

We love our house. It is comfortable and clean, and the neighborhood is awesome. We have several wonderful families who live very close by, and look forward to meeting others when school starts at the end of August. The girls are outside as often as they can, playing with neighbors, riding their scooters. We're all right on top of each other here in our beach city, but it's quiet (at night) and very safe. Also, Albertsons (a grocery store), Taco, Bell, Papa John's (pizza), and a frozen yogurt place (not as good as gelato, but similar) are all within walking distance. Oh, so are the library and post office. Score!! Jon's work is only three miles (5 km) away, and his commute can take him anywhere from 15 to 30 min. We are SOOO thankful we decided to live closer to his work rather than take base housing further south. Every day we are thankful!!

Here are some pictures from before our stuff came. (You really don't want to see all the mess, I know!) Here's the front: lots of lots in our town are two-on-a-lot. One house in front, one house in back. Sometimes they share a wall, sometimes not. We share a garage and patio wall with our neighbors (and landlords) which is no problem. But it takes some getting used to see a car (that's not ours) driving up our driveway.
Here's the foyer, just inside the front door. 1/2 bath on the right, living room on left, and dining room towards the door and on the right. 
Dining room

Living room
 Turn around from the foyer and you're in the:
Family room
Turn around from the picture above and you're in the kitchen eating area. 

More kitchen, taken from the bar

The above picture is more recent, as I realized I didn't have a picture of the main part of the kitchen. Isn't it gorgeous and so big!!?? I love it!! Look at that American-sized fridge!! :)
Now we'll head upstairs to the bedrooms: K and E's room is at the top of the stairs. It's nice and big, and has a huge walk-in closet. They love the window seat.
Here's the guest room, next to the kids' room. Actually, it's between the kids' rooms. Miranda's room (which I now realize I don't have a picture of!) is the same as size as the guest room (below) but has the door and closet on the opposite side of the room below.  All rooms (except the master) have ceiling fans, which are invaluable in the humidity!! (of course, no A/C!)
Guest room. (It has a bed now, and is ready for visitors!! :)

About 1/2 of the master

About the other half--with two side-by-side closets complete with mirrored doors and walk-out patio
Here are some more fun shots of our getting used to life in CA: 
At the beach! (Photo courtesy of Gram!)

All the empty boxes driving me crazy, piled up in our garage. :)

The newest member of our family: a Mazda 3

 And Jon has earned his "furniture assembly" merit badge TIME and TIME again. He's done such a great job researching our needed appliances and organizing the purchase and delivery. Here he's getting a little help from K. Oh, and check out the size of our trash cans-- Hallelujah!!! :)

M with hat

Having fun in the paper of the dining room

Fun neighbors enjoying a rare thunderstorm

The girls in front of their school (starting in August)

Our plumeria tree (It's between our garage and our neighbor's)
And here's one for the record books: our first meal in our new house. It powerfully reminds me of God's faithfulness when I think about the first meal we had in our house in Germany--the day before 22 month-old Ellie was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. The same God who was with us in Germany and saw us through that rough transition is with us now--ready and waiting for us to trust Him. Through good times and bad, we always know He is present and loves us! And as we enter this new phase of life, we are thankful to Him for His many, many blessings. I hope you can see His blessings in your life today as well!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Hanging Out

Life in transition here in CA is moving along well! We are so excited to live near some family for the first time in almost 7 years. Here is a picture of the girls with Jon's cousin's sons. (Of course, his cousin is named Jen!) It's great to reconnect with Jen, Gabe, and the boys. Both boys were so sweet with the girls--especially Kate, who kept talking their ears off. :)

We spent one night at Jon's aunt and uncle's hose (Sorry, I didn't get a picture of you guys!! That will have to change!), then we drove down to San Pedro, where the military temp housing is located. What an amazingly beautiful place! It's right on the water, and you can see the piers of the Port of Los Angeles just over the fence. How fun to think that's the exact place our stuff was off-loaded when the container ship arrived! Our temp housing had plenty of room to spread out, but their availability lasted only five nights.  
The port where our stuff came in

Jon and I spent those five days house-hunting like crazy. Thanks a million to JoAnn, who came and spent two days with us while Jon and I scoured the city for places to live. After she went home, we ended up taking the kids with us, which was nice because they could give a little input on what we were seeing. Also, it gave the landlords a chance to meet the whole family, which turned out to be good for us b/c we found a house while the kids were with us. We get to move in next week, and are so excited! The girls will be so close to their school, and Jon will be only 3 miles from work. We're just a few miles to the beach, and we hope to have some great neighbors. Our landlords have two homes on one lot (common for this area of LA) and we have the front home while they live in the back. We hope to have a good relationship with them like we did with our wonderful landlords from Germany (miss you guys!!). We are so grateful that both shipments of our stuff will be delivered on the same day next week, and if we could just get some info on our minivan (still in transit) we'd be all set. But things will come, and are trying to be patient and deal with things as they come.
So now we wait and are living in a hotel that's walking distance from Jon's work. The girls and I are enjoying swimming at the pool each afternoon (their tan lines are already setting in) and we're trying not to go stir crazy sometimes in the mornings. But there are items we need (like a fridge, washer/dryer, beds for the girls, etc) and we're working on getting those items as well. It's slowly coming together and it will be an interesting few days when we're in our house with nothing but what we brought on the plane! But we're borrowing linens and towels and hopefully an air mattress or two, and I'm sure the girls will love "camping" in our house.

The girls, hanging out in the hotel room.

reading with Daddy

LOVING the dresses hand-made by Nana!

 While it's really fun to have a pool here at he hotel, it's also sometimes a logistical nightmare trying to get everyone dressed appropriately, with the correct eyewear, carrying a towel, etc. But we're getting faster at it--practice makes perfect--and I hope to make a similar plan when we start going to the beach. We attempted the beach only one time so far which was a lot of fun, but takes quite a bit of forethought with all three girls, one of whom has no fear of the ocean or understanding of the danger of the water. And if you've ever been to the beach, you know how much stuff you have to cart with you! But still, an adventure we're willing to take on. So plan to come visit us! We'll have plenty of room when we get moved in. Stay tuned!
Ready for the pool


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Friends and family

What a blessing it is to be with family again! We are soaking up every minute. In just two weeks we'll be in southern CA house-hunting, so we'll enjoy all the free time we can get. 
Ellie and Grandpa enjoying some ice cream

Nana, Kate, and Miranda on the other side of the table

Reading a book with Uncle Evan

My dear friend, sweet sister, and their kids--what a group!

Gram and the girls

My sweet niece

Oojaboojy chubbers nephew with his Uncle Jon

Pedicures for my sister's special birthday!!

Wearing aprons from two jobs I used to have

Even Uncle Dave got in on the fun

Sonic!! Thanks, Allison! :)

Making new friends with some of my old friends' kids

Special time with our sweet great Gramie

Chik-Fil-A playdate with new friends (my long-time friend's daughters)
And our time in Colorado isn't finished yet! We miss our time in Germany, but are grateful for this respite before the next duty station.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Saying Auf Wiedersehen

This last week we left the land of delicious bretzels, beer, gummis, cheese, wurst and baked goods in general, and arrived back in the good ol' US of A. Of course, our departure from Germany was so bittersweet! We have been so blessed by all the wonderful people we've met over the last 3 1/2 years. I won't begin to name them all because I would definitely forget some! But we are so grateful for the opportunity to live in such an amazing place and meet so many unforgettable people.

Great American neighbors

Sweet long-time friends and now our kids are friends!

Dear German neighbors

Almost a member of the family!

Sweet friends

Friends for the whole family

Our wonderful landlords and more adoptive family members

Our diminished yet still awesome small group

See you in the States!!
Kate's teacher

More wonderful German neighbors

All the incredible MOPS moms! You all rock.

Mr. and Mrs. Wolf who always know what time it is.

Classmates and friends
New neighbors we had to leave too soon
Gotta love a lot of Jens. :)

The incredible ladies at the girls' German kindergarten who loved ours as their own

Two peas in a pod, albeit two continents apart

We love and miss you all already! And there are so many more I don't have pictures of, but again, we are profoundly grateful to you all for being our family overseas. Know you are all welcome to visit in CA...once we get there!
The girls did a great job on the plane rides, watching tv and enduring the long flight from Frankfurt to Denver (9 1/2 hrs!!). Ugh.
How they looked during most of the long flight.
She was a champ--slept only about 1 hr but did great walking around and making friends.

At last, after 45 min waiting in the customs line with our eight checked bags and five carry ons, we got to see the wonderful family who endured our 3 1/2 year absence and welcomed us with excited and open arms.


Sacked out at 6pm (2 am Germany time)
 Auf Weidersehen, liebe Deutschland!! Vielen Dank!!