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One Month and a Little More

September 27, 2018

I had big plans to write a one-month update to celebrate a month with Freya.  But, she turned a month old a week ago, and that’s how it goes.  For the first time, I have felt like I’ve lost count and track of how many children we have and where they all are at any given moment.  So, only a week late to write a blog post?  Not too shabby.

Freya has, thankfully, been an easy baby.  Our last baby, sweet Piper, was not an easy baby.  She liked attention and nursing as much as possible.  She still needs attention and constantly asks for food.  She has been our first to have a more demanding attitude upon adding a baby to the family.  She adores her little sister, though, so it’s not personal when she screams at me to “STOP FEEDING FREYA!!!”  And goodness, her giant eyes and huge vocabulary keep us laughing.

Anyway, back to the point, Freya is an easy baby overall.  Our only difficult issue so far has been her eating.  She began nursing her first week and it seemed normal, but then decreased and was painful.  We quickly diagnosed a tongue and lip tie and had that repaired.  The pain was instantly gone, but it affected my supply for her and her own ability and interest in eating a full meal in one sitting.  Her weight was still low at three weeks old, so we upped nursing and stopped using the bottle (which we had been using after pumping) and the pacifier (which she only wanted to go to sleep) just to rule out nipple confusion.  It did help quite a bit, but she still wasn’t getting full after nursing.  Plus, constantly nursing wasn’t exactly a long term solution with four other kids whose needs need met and a house to run.  So, once Freya began to put on weight again at the three week mark (though still not back up to birth weight), we resumed using a bottle and began supplementing with formula to fill her up.  I still pump when I can, and she still nurses for every feed, but she always also has a bottle.  Some days it works well, some days she seems lazy to nurse.  But, she’s growing and gaining weight, and otherwise completely content, so I’m not complaining.  She’s not my first to grow on formula or a mix of both, so I don’t mind one bit.

Mostly I don’t mind because she is a champion sleeper.  I hesitated a long while before saying anything, but at over five weeks old, I think it’s a trait that will stick around.  Freya is literally the best sleeper we’ve had.  She typically sleeps six hours through the night, only waking once in 10-12 hours.  She takes three solid naps during the day.  And, best of all, she doesn’t need anything except a good swaddle to fall asleep.  So, once she’s slightly tired, I just put her in her little cradle, swaddle her up, offer her a pacifier (which now she only takes sometimes), and walk away.  She’s quiet and just drifts off on her own.  After the three middle kids having normal sleeping challenges (aka, not sleeping well for at least a year), this is truly an answered prayer.  She literally just sleeps…in her bed…whenever she’s tired.  It’s awesome.  And so appreciated.  We’ve been awakened by Piper more often than Freya this week, because Piper is having nightmares, so for comparison, having a sleep-loving baby, is realllllly nice.

So, we are resuming much of our normal, which is quite boring at home during the day, still slowly making progress on some of our house projects.  Matthew just tonight uninstalled our entire basement bathroom, which was a first class disaster anyway, and is making ready to install our in-floor, radiant heating system soon.  Woo hoo!  But it’s moved a bit slower because work has been busy.  But, busy in a good way as word has spread and games are now consistently being booked and people are loving the escape games offered.  Homeschooling is going well and we are nearing the end of our school year.  In November we will jump right into the next school year, adding Axel in Kindergarten, so that might add to the challenge, but hopefully by then we’ll be ready for it.

So, that’s it for a general update.  Freya is a sweet addition and we are so happy she is our little family’s caboose.

Freya’s Birth Story

August 23, 2018

I do love birth stories, because each one is different and yet so many parts are relatable to many others.  Freya’s birth story isn’t terribly unique, but has some fun surprises.  Well, they’re fun now.  They were decidedly NOT fun at the moment.  I digress…

Sunday was a full day – church in the morning, a big dinner at my parents’ house with Matthew’s dad and his wife, and his brother, who were all in town visiting (hoping to time it with baby, but so far it was not working out), then we middle generation left the older and younger (grandparents and grandkids) to go play some virtual reality at the work site, because the crazy sensations may have started false labor a week prior.  I was five days overdue and many many weeks over being pregnant.  I had been in maternity clothes since 11 weeks along, experiencing more discomfort and pain than in any of my previous pregnancies, and fairly desperate since all usual tricks had, so far, not started any labor.

After the VR game, which was AWESOME and if you’re local to the Boise area, please go play it – you will not regret it.  It was time to head back for our evening church service, followed by a late night in the driveway around a fire with all the Linds in town.  We crashed into bed around midnight, tired but content with a fun day behind us.

At 4:15am a strong contraction woke me.  I didn’t really think much of it, since that had been happening on and off all week.  But another one came along about eight minutes later and I had a sneaking suspicion that it might be real labor starting.  I laid there and waited and sure enough, another came along.  So, I got up and went downstairs to have a bowl of cereal.  I knew eating while I could would be critical to the energy I would need later, when eating wouldn’t be possible.  I then headed into the shower, since I could still smell the smoke of the fire from the previous night in my hair.  Then, contractions still coming every eight or so minutes, strong enough to make me pause whatever I was doing and focus on them, I decided to follow the advice about taking a bath.  I’d been told, and experienced, that if you have some regular contractions and take a warm bath, they’ll either stop, or become more regular.  Just a few minutes into my bath, a contraction came on so strong that I had to make some noise just to get through it.  So, it was time to get into action and wake Matthew.  I hadn’t awakened him yet because 1) there wasn’t really anything I needed him to do and 2) I knew the more sleep he got, the better help he’d be when I needed it.

By now it was 6am.  He showered (because, smoke) and grabbed some food while I crawled back into bed.  I was tired from so little sleep and dozed between contractions.  Matthew called his dad about coming from the hotel to the house to watch the kids and called the midwives about what they would prefer – my contractions weren’t super close together yet, but we were reaching the point in the day of Monday morning traffic between us and the birth center.

We left the house at 7am as my contractions were fairly strong and about five minutes apart.  I couldn’t talk or do anything while I was having them, but between them all was chill and we enjoyed a smokey drive, mostly ahead of the rush hour traffic into Boise.

We arrived just I had a the strongest contraction yet, finished it in the car, and got inside.  A midwife I had really enjoyed getting to know during my appointments would be the lead for the birth, and an intern and a student that had been at several of my appointments would there as well (or maybe they are both students? Or interns? Libby and Camille – I apologize at how uninformed I am).  They got me and the baby all checked in – vitals taken, needs met, supplies out, and then left us to labor along.

One challenge presented itself: baby was facing the wrong way.  While head down, the baby was facing toward my front, instead of my back.  This doesn’t make labor impossible, just much, much more difficult.  Babies’ heads are designed to fit one way, and pushing it out “backwards” would be difficult.  However, there were some positioning exercises we could do during the contractions that may help turn baby around the right way.

So, we did those, ate some food, took some walks outside, and generally the contractions got stronger, but were consistently 3-4 minutes apart.  I was starting to get a bit fatigued and a little worried that I didn’t seem to be making progress with the timing between my contractions – they didn’t seem to be getting closer together, like I hoped.  I got in the big birthing tub, and it helped relax me.  I felt the contractions getting stronger and stronger, but they weren’t coming closer together.  I was tiring quickly and stressing a bit that, through it all, they still weren’t closer than 3 minutes and that baby was still facing the wrong way.

I opted to get out of the tub because I felt too hot and because I wasn’t 100% sure I was ready to push.  My body wanted me to push through the contractions, it suddenly seemed easier than powering through them, but I was really hoping to get the all clear that I was 10cm dilated and I was REALLLLLLY hoping to have the “normal” rolling contractions, that just don’t seem to have a break between them, that makes pushing go so efficiently.

I got almost none of that.  When one of the midwives went to check dilation, I felt my water break, and they were fairly certain that I and baby were ready to push.  And I felt better pushing through the contractions than anything else, but man, I was tired and didn’t feel like I was pushing efficiently.  I have birthed all of my babies on my back.  Yes, I know that this isn’t the most natural position and I could do a lot by having gravity work for me, but I just don’t like it.  And with being tired and feeling like there was more work ahead than I had energy to handle, I especially didn’t want to have the additional task of holding myself up on my hands and knees or any other position.

I did try it for a while, though, at the advice of the midwives.  But, I just didn’t feel like it was helping.  This part of the birth story is difficult to write, because it was simply a lot of effort that can’t be put into words, and slow results.  The pushing seemed to be helping, and at one point a head was announced – but it wasn’t the head!  It was the baby’s sac!  The sac was coming out, like a balloon.  I realize this is a bit of a crazy mental picture, but from a birth standpoint, it is quite interesting.  The sac, seemed to be intact, despite feeling my water break earlier.  This was likely making for even more resistance, combined with baby facing the wrong way, in getting baby down and out of the birth canal.

Eventually, after about an hour (!!!), there was a small amount of progress.  I was losing steam quickly, but knew I needed to literally push through.  Someone told me to lean in, with my chin to my chest, and curl around the baby to push.  And guess what – that worked!  And not only that, but by some miracle, the baby TURNED into the proper position as she came out.  The head came out within two pushes, then my whole body paused.  I’m told her eyes were opened and she was looking around (and her heart rate stayed totally normal – she was so chill with what was happening).  Finally, still waiting nearly two minutes between contractions, I had another one and pushed her out.

Of course, this was the first we learned that she was, indeed, a SHE.  I was so incredibly shocked.  I was also so much more relieved at being done than I have been with previous labors.  I would probably say that this was my most difficult with around an hour and a half of very difficult pushing.  Previously, I had pushed out babies within a few minutes and a few easy pushes.  So, to be done, was such a greater felt relief.

There was a bit more blood than they liked, so they gave me a shot of pitocin to stop it just in case it wasn’t going to stop (it did, whether due to the pitocin or just stopping, I’m not sure).  The placenta took it’s time to come out and required more pushing, which was not pleasant.

Matthew was the most amazing birth coach and he delivered Freya once her head was out.  Of course, he cut the cord once it stopped pulsing, but that allowed him to finally hold her.  My favorite news of the day, besides a healthy baby, was that I didn’t need stitches for the first time ever.  Woo hoo!  I’m also pleased, and even proud, at having a successful VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarian).  C-sections have their place and I’m grateful for mine, but recovery is often so much simpler without surgery.

And so, we finished all the final checks and headed out about two hours after the birth.  Once it was over, I’m glad to say that it was over.  Freya is doing wonderfully.  She’s eating and sleeping like a champ and seems just as chill as ever.

Thank you for your many prayers during my pregnancy and her birth.  We are so excited to be able to call our family complete with her arrival and so excited she has joined us.

It’s a Girl!

August 22, 2018

Freya Helena Lind made her grand entrance on Monday, August 20 at 2:57pm.  She was our biggest, at 8lb 11oz, and 20.5″ long, but it makes sense after being five days late, our only baby to arrive after their due date.  We had been certain (without finding out the gender via ultrasound) of her being a boy, and after being correct the first four times, I was especially shocked to finally be wrong (but knew I was due to be wrong, so I’m not terribly offended).  So, it took 24 hours to come up with a middle name, since we hadn’t bothered to finalize a pick.  Like all of our kids, Freya’s first name is simply a name we love and her middle name is a family name – Helena is my maternal great-grandmother’s name (and great-aunt’s as well).  If it’s helpful, it is pronounced FRAY-yah Hell-LAY-nah.

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She is already a very chill, easy going baby, just doing all of the baby things right on track.  I will be writing up her birth story soon and I am happy to say it is no where near as exciting as the last one.

A Whole Year Stateside

July 26, 2018

A year ago today we got on an airplane in Kinshasa to head back to the US. Since it takes two days, technically our anniversary of being in the US is tomorrow, but regardless, happy one year back!

In some respects, the last year has gone by so quickly, I’m still in a bit of denial. Our transition was nearly seamless and we feel quite at home here in Idaho, but there are still moments that I don’t feel fully grounded or like I know what I’m doing, culturally. However, for the most part, our life in Congo was a literal lifetime ago – different job, different home life, and, in just a few days or weeks, even a different number of children! It feels far away, but I still get warm, fuzzy memories of our life there and miss several aspects of it: our team, our Congolese friends, the chicken restaurant around the corner from our house…

At the moment, our focus is all about baby. More specifically, for me, it’s all about not being pregnant anymore. I’ve not had this level of discomfort (which, by evening, turns to outright pain) in my previous pregnancies. This, combined with the hot weather (hitting 100F/38C), makes me look forward to the combination of not being pregnant AND snuggling a new little person. Prayers for a boring and conventional delivery appreciated.

We’ve also been quite focused on the opening of the new business in Nampa, the escape room(s) and loving the community response. It’s been such a fun thing, even if I’m only able to participate from the sidelines. If you’re local, please go check it out!

And, Matthew and I still love keeping our proverbial foot in the door at MAF. Matthew was recently able to attend chapel after a few months of putting in every available hour at the job site. He enjoyed updates from regional directors and a retirement celebration of a good friend. The kids and I recently got the privilege and fun of helping out with a training exercise for the newest MAF families – and it was an excellent reunion with friends and brought back memories of our own training seven years ago!

Hopefully my next post will be a new baby announcement…soooooon!

The Chaos Before the Baby

May 28, 2018

So, we have been back in the US for ten months now, and I would say mostly settled into our house and lives here in Idaho.  Matthew is all in to his new job, which is a great fit for him, and the kids and I are swinging into our roles at home and in the community.  We love where we live and are excited to be here.

Last week we began Phase 2 of a sort of remodel of our house.  Phase 1 was when we purchased the home five years ago next month – it had been a shabby rental with a lot of potential.  Our eleven months in Idaho for training in 2013-2014 before heading off to France and Congo were spent getting it up to speed to be a nice rental.  We succeeded and were pleased with the results, both when we left and how well everything held up when we returned.  Our last set of renters were not exactly ideal, but after hearing everyone’s horror stories, we certainly weren’t going to despair.

Our basement isn’t pretty and the heating system was never perfect (be we survived last winter without freezing).  Our goal is to hit both at the same time: remodel the basement and remove the old heating system while giving the house an efficient and modern upgrade: radiant floor heating.

The beginning steps of this monumental task was to, essentially, play musical bedrooms.  The three older kids have had reign of the top floor – a giant space that makes a perfect master suite, with its own bathroom and open space.  It has also made for a great playroom and bedroom for the kids.  However, Matthew and I were just counting down the time until it was ours.  Piper has been in one of the basement bedrooms.  Her sleeping schedule is an epic 6:30pm – 10am, plus a nap, and she’s not the soundest sleeper, so having her own space is essential both for her and for our sanity (we get all of our homeschooling done during her sleeping times – it works well).  Matthew and I, then, have been crammed into the tiny bedroom on the main floor, in a full size bed, which was fine at first, but as this baby has been filling out more and more space, it is less fine to be in a full-sized bed.  Plus, the whole room was just tiny and cramped and overall not going to be a good fit much longer.

So, how do we still get all of our sleep and, yet, clear out the basement?  Musical spaces!  We moved the kids into our tiny room, in a bunk bed, with the boys on a full-sized bottom and Millie on the top.  It’s not ideal, but it will work during the construction phase.  We moved to our glorious amount of space upstairs (and one of the queen sized beds from one of the two basement bedrooms moved with us) and will slowly make that space our little escape.  The dormer in the upstairs master suite was large enough before for Amelia’s bed and a dresser.  We decided to make that a future walk in closet (it even has a window), but for the next few years, it will serve as a nursery.  First, for Piper, who will get her space away from the bustle of the main floor, and we will all still get our sanity of knowing that girl is getting the rest she needs.  Then, when she moves out, the new baby will have his or her own space to learn to sleep on their own once they’re old enough.

Overall, it will be a win.  The major downside is that the kids don’t have a dedicated play space at the moment and we had to pack up most of their toys, but since it’s summer, I get to kick them outside guilt-free (I mean, it’s not raining).  This also makes it hard to have guests, especially families, over because life is now lived in just 1000 square feet on the main floor, but it is only temporary.

This clears out the basement in order to install the radiant floor heating in the floor and the ceiling, and remodel the space.  Since the giant furnace and hot water tank both get to be evicted, we will recapture a lot of square footage, both on the ground and by taking down the ducts in the ceiling.  Then, the two bedrooms will become a boys’ room and a girls’ room, there will be a large dedicated play/school space, we will remodel the bathroom down there that I think is particularly sketchy, and I may even get a Pinterest-worthy laundry room.  Not that I mind that my current laundry room is brick cement walls and floor, but…I can dream, right?

Matthew will be doing much of the work himself, minus a few details and permit-worthy requirements.  The materials are already on site and ready to begin.  And, after last week’s back-breaking moving around of bedrooms, packing boxes of unneeded items for the next few months, I have felt like we are moving…again.

You see, we have moved not only every calendar year since 2011, but for the last three pregnancies, we have moved in the last trimester!  Levi was born into stability in Alaska, but his siblings didn’t get such humble beginnings.

Amelia was born into the chaos of us leaving Alaska, and moving temporarily into my parents’ as we raised support for our first year in Congo.  Matthew (and his brother and now-boss, Andrew) had literally driven the truck with all of our earthly possessions down the Alaska-Canada highway, ten days before she was born – giving us ten whole days to dig through boxes, find baby supplies, and fit them into my parents’ house in Washington before she arrived!

Axel was born right here in this house, in that glorious upstairs master suite, only six weeks after moving in, in the middle of the house’s required renovations.  The day of his birth?  I had a functional toilet on one floor, a functional shower on another, and no bathtub!

Piper was born in Congo, which is note-worthy enough, but it was only two months after moving from one house around the corner to a new one (that was only recently renovated on the inside and bits and pieces were still being finished – meaning, I had workers I didn’t know all over the property at any given moment).

So, with less than 12 weeks remaining until my due date, I realize this is just the way Lind babies arrive into the world – and I am very grateful for that classic nesting instinct that gives me the energy I need to get the bare necessities ready.

Speaking of necessities, I did make a short registry list, almost entirely of large baby things we had to leave behind in Congo…because heaven knows I am swimming in clothes and blankets and baby things.  Is it weird to post it?  Maybe so…doing it anyway.

So, I will probably reenergize the blog with construction updates because I am so excited to make this house even more delightful.  The 1940’s construction and charm are still my favorite, but it is time for these upgrades.

Finding What’s Useful

April 12, 2018

Do you remember that I used to write a lot?  I haven’t been writing in many months, mostly deliberately, as I navigated this strange new living and working situation, known as my passport and birth country.

Getting back from Congo at the end of July last year, then [Matthew] changing jobs over the holidays, left me busy with juggling all of the changes that go along with that.  During that time, I didn’t have energy to write anything out.  But, as we got more into a groove, I realized that I had nothing worth sharing.

Our lives went from sharing the interesting and ministry aspects of living in Congo, a unique and unfamiliar place to many of you, to living in the US, working a new job outside of ministry, that led to a life that is almost boring in its normalcy (minus Matthew’s awesome job, but most of the coolest parts I can’t share myself).

I, of course, don’t mind that we’ve stepped back into something that is more familiar with the people we’re closest to, but it doesn’t exactly make for compelling blog writing.

However, I do want to pop in and say that rediscovering life in the US has been rather fun for us.  We really haven’t lived, with permanency in mind, in the contiguous 48 states in our entire marriage.  Twelve years of our hearts and minds, and often our bodies, living in strange, foreign lands, like Alaska and Congo, mean that we are putting down roots in a new way, with new technology at our fingertips that, so far, we’ve only been able to read about…very slowly…because of a slow internet connection.

So, what have we discovered with our fast internet, quick shipping, affordable appliances, and addictive smart phones?  Well, we spent the first six months overwhelmed by options.  Nothing was simple, nothing was “this is just how to do it” – everything came with a plethora of choices to make about who and how and why.  Here is brief list of the things I’ve discovered and made part of our lifestyle, because it’s right for us.

Coffee.  Life’s most essential liquid.  In the morning, anyway…  We realized before we’d even left Congo that we needed to decide how we would make our coffee.  In Alaska, we had a regular drip pot.  In France, we fell in love with our Senseo.  In Congo, we had a few methods, changing depending on the power situation, but ultimately decided there was something about espresso and steamed milk that started our day well.  But we didn’t like committing to pods and couldn’t afford the fancier models.  Enter our perfect little machine.  It makes espresso using grounds, no pods!, and it steams and adds the milk automatically and it didn’t break the bank.  It was fun research to find what coffee method would be best for us, and we are very happy with our choice.

Groceries.  For sure the biggest thing for me was how to grocery shop.  In Congo, grocery shopping was my groove and I loved the challenge of it.  Here in the US, the challenge is not being overwhelmed by choices of stores, open at all hours, offering great deals, always in stock, and that doesn’t even count the moment you walk down the aisles and need to make choices on individual products.  So, at first, I found a store I loved – a warehouse style box, but no membership, that was open 24 hours and had a huge bulk section.  I would go after the kids were in bed, shop for the month, and be done.  It was great.  Then I got pregnant and didn’t have the energy for that.  I knew about ordering groceries online, but delivery fees were high and the closest pick up location was nearly 30 minutes from my house!  Until February…then the Walmart just six minutes from driveway to parking lot, began grocery pick up and my life hasn’t been the same since.  I just order groceries online, add stuff I inevitably forget until the day of pick up, then drive down, pull up, and they load them in – no extra cost and only a $30 minimum order required (uhhh, easy).  I don’t even get out of the car?!  With four and a half kids this is amazing…life changing.  Also, the grocers are beginning to know me (is that a good thing?) because I go weekly, always at the same time.  And, think about the workload it saves…before I was loading each item into my cart, onto the belt, back into my cart (bagged myself at my previous favorite store), into my car, finally, into my house and put it away.  That’s FIVE times I needed to move each item!  Now, I only get it into the house (and with the kids, I don’t even do that myself, except the eggs and wine) and put it away.  That, alone, is worth it to me.

My weakness for my entire adult life has been meal planning.  It just isn’t something I’ve been able to conquer.  I have a variety of breakfasts that we do, lunches with the kids are easy, but dinners that aren’t repeats (I married a guy who HATES repeats, and now I’ve become like him) is really hard for me.  In Congo, I had limited options, so I didn’t feel like I could entirely control my meal planning, but here?  Oh my stars, too many choices. Instant Pot, Crock pot, freezer meals, combination of all of the above – it could go on and on…and I just can’t.  I had used a service when we were raising support four years ago called eMeals and my mom reminded me how handy it is.  And cheap.  $5 a month for someone to make up for my weakness and now it has a handy app?  Yes, please.  Most of the meals we enjoy, we end up eating more balanced, trying new things, and it makes my grocery list for me.  So, yeah, it’s also been a huge stress-saver!

And, my last little discovery for today, is renting clothes.  This one is definitely not in the necessity realm.  Further more, it makes me seem spoiled.  I am spoiled.  This is a treat and nothing less.  With pregnancy number 5 (well, number 6, but I didn’t wear maternity clothes for one), I started to outgrow my regular clothes at 12 weeks.  And as I unpacked my maternity clothes, I despaired.  They were out of season (it was still cold), as much as nine years old, very worn, and most of them too big as I was heavier in previous pregnancies.  Basically, I had unsightly clothes to wear and was going to be stuck in them for six months.  First world problem?  Yes.  Depressing anyway?  Yep.  This is our last baby, so there was no need to invest in a new wardrobe.  I got a few new summer dresses still on clearance and a much-needed new pair of maternity jeans and decided to be content.  I mean, I tried.  But then an ad popped up for a box of rented maternity clothes. Higher end, lovely pieces that I’d never actually buy but I could go through as many boxes as I could ship back and forth for a monthly fee.  I mentioned it to Matthew, just conversing, not actually thinking it was for me, and he told me I should get it, or at least try it out.  I’m now on my 5th Le Tote box and still loving it.  It’s been so nice to wear fun maternity clothes and accessories that aren’t mine and always feeling like my closet is fresh.  I am bothered that this sounds more like an ad than I would prefer, but then again, I don’t really care because I LOVE IT THAT MUCH.  I got one other pregnant friend to use it, too, and she’s very happy her last month of pregnancy was outfitted by things she didn’t have to buy as the season changed.  If you’d like to try the service (they have non-maternity, too), let me know for a free box!

Are we finding our new life easy?  Yes and no.  There are things about life here that are so easy it’s scary and I’m waiting for the hammer to drop.  But there are other things that are challenging as we still adjust or as we mourn the loss of the type of community and bonding we had with our missionary family in Kinshasa.  This lifestyle definitely suits us and we are content to be where we feel we are supposed to stay…for now…for a while…I think…for sure?

Note: The links and products are just me talking about stuff I like…with the exception of a free Le Tote box to anyone interested, I’m not being reimbursed or anything.  I wish someone would pay me, but for now I’m just gushing.

Coming in August

December 18, 2017


New [Job] Adventure

December 1, 2017

In my last post, I announced that we would be stepping away from the work with MAF at the end of this year.  I mentioned that Matthew has a new job and that we wouldn’t be moving (yay!).  I am so very tired of moving.  But so many of you, far more than I anticipated, seem truly enthusiastic about what we will be doing next – so I didn’t want to keep you waiting!

So, truth be told, as sad as we are about leaving our MAF family, we are very very excited about Matthew’s new role and challenge.  And, even better, it is with actual family!

A little over two years ago, Matthew’s brother started a business in Portland creating adventurous room escape games – the perfect team building, fun night experience.  They launched into the escape room business head on.  A year ago they began selling their rooms to other escape room companies around the country, traveling to build the rooms, often specially designed for the other company’s theme – a historical reenactment museum has a fur trapping-themed game, Philadelphia has a Revolution-era game, etc.  They have over 20 rooms around the country, their Portland storefront is going well, and it was time to branch out, continue to do good business, and continue creating awesome rooms.  What they really needed was someone to come along and take care of the corporate business that was building up as their popularity and expertise grew.

Enter: Matthew.  As things at MAF began to take shape this fall, the projects were nearing their end, and us just feeling like the fit wasn’t what we were hoping it would be, Matthew’s brother was catching us up on his business and the needs he had for someone who knew a little this and that (or a lot) about managing a business – finances, HR, strategy, ideas, etc.  Matthew weighed this option for a long time.  Going into a new business with many little people to house and feed, working with your brother knowing that puts a different spin on the relationship, going from missionary to the entertainment industry?  Huge leaps, big considerations, and lots and lots of prayer and discussion.

However, we are really really excited.  His brother (and Dad and other brother and one significant other) all spent the week of Thanksgiving at our house and we talked of little else but the business and strategy and past experiences.  We played a few local escape rooms to get a feel for the business and the local scene.  I got to play one and had a great time and a new appreciation for the work that has been done.

So, what’s next?  Matthew will first start out by immersing himself in the existing business.  He will travel to do their upcoming builds and see this side of it, he will spend some time in Portland to get to know the staff and location, then he will get to work sorting out the complexities of the future of the company from a business standpoint.  We have a lot to look forward to and it will certainly be an adventure!

For me, it’s a new era where I’m not officially involved.  With MAF, I was a staff spouse and had active, official involvement constantly, volunteered for a lot both in Kinshasa and in the states, and kept up contact with supporters, got our prayer letters out, wrote thank you notes (not as often as I wished), and still held that official connection.  This new job won’t have me very involved, but at the same time, because it’s a family affair (Dad and other brother are both also quite involved in different ways), I’m part of the whole experience.  Mostly, I will hold down the fort here in Idaho and continue home schooling and getting better acquainted with the complexities of American life.

So, please do pray for us – and thank you for so many of you offered to pray for us through this transition.  Traveling and being apart will be new, though the hope is that it will only be a lot at first, then occasionally.  I so appreciate Matthew’s brother being amazingly attentive to our family and needs/desires/concerns as he gets Matthew up to speed on what this new role will be.  Starting out so well gives me a lot of encouragement for the future.

And, if you haven’t played an escape room game yet, gather a few friends and go do it.  I promise it will be an experience you won’t soon forget.  (Caution: these can be addicting!)

On Saying Goodbye

November 25, 2017

This is an excerpt from our current prayer letter, out this week:

In January of 2011, we interviewed at Mission Aviation Fellowship HQ for a short-term position. That short-term position has changed into a lifestyle and career choice. We have enjoyed this career – this work of raising a support team, learning a new language and culture, moving (a lot), finding a new definition of family, and meeting tremendous people all over the globe. This calling has been an amazing challenge and blessing.

However, at the end of this year, we will step away from MAF and the work. This was a difficult decision that required a lot of prayer and critical discussion with people both inside and outside the organization. The reasons are complicated, but essentially, we feel that our work with MAF has come to an end, and we are ready to move on to a new adventure.

Matthew will be wrapping up the two main projects he has been working on this fall. He was able to see through the implementation and training (and bug fixing) of a new budgeting software that went to all of the MAF programs around the world. This included training at odd hours of the day, to accommodate different time zones in Africa, Central Asia, and Indonesia, and a few proverbial fires to extinguish. His final project is to assist Mobilization (formerly known as Recruiting) with a new workflow and accompanying documentation. It has been a challenge, but hopefully a help to the worldwide ministry of MAF.

We’ve truly appreciated the years of support many of you have given toward this ministry. We know that our time was not wasted, nor was its timing accidental. We were in Kinshasa at just the times we needed to be to utilize our talents just right. God used our time in language school and on the road raising support better than we could have imagined. Meeting so many, and being part of this global ministry together, has been a fantastic experience. Thank you for choosing to be part of it and for following along.

I truly apologize if this comes as a shock – there was no way to give a sort of warning.  However, this was not a snap decision.  This whole change was the result of careful processing, thinking, weighing, discussing, and being quite open with the people around us.  It’s not exactly something to decide in asking the Internet.  However, we want to expressly thank each of you for your support, following, encouragement, and contribution.  We are so pleased with our seven years with MAF and the work we’ve done with this organization.  We’ve met hundreds of amazing people as a result of this opportunity and we look forward to seeing the work of MAF continue and staying connected with that community.

We are open to questions and comments, if you have them.  Our last official day with MAF is December 22.  This change will be big and we fully plan to keep right on updating you with what is new in our lives.  Matthew’s new job is totally different than what he has done before (and, yet, he will be using nearly all of his previous experiences to do it well) and we are super excited about it.  It certainly deserves its own separate post, so look for that soon.  We are NOT moving, and for that, I am supremely grateful!


November 6, 2017

The number one question we’ve been asked so far since returning from Congo is, “So, are you going to continue to home school?”  It’s a fair question.  Many missionaries don’t choose to homeschool, it is simply the only option (or only good option).  However, for us, we love homeschooling.  It’s an idyllic reality of learning together, and patient children, and reading, and no arguing ever.

Wait, no, that’s not it.  It’s messy and doesn’t always happen the way it should and there is DEFINITELY arguing.  However, we have two kids who can read and do math and think, so I think so far, so good.

Joking aside, we love the freedom of homeschooling.  We really like being able to adjust our schedules.  We like being able to travel at the least conventional (thus, the cheapest) times of year.  We really enjoy adjusting the schooling level to our kids’ needs.

So far, only two of our kids are doing school, Levi (8) and Amelia (6).  They both did their own levels of kindergarten the year we lived in France, where children usually start school at 3.  With Amelia getting a heavy dose of pre-kindergarten at 3 there, she began American kindergarten with me after we arrived in Congo and she had just turned four.  Levi did the equivalent of American kindergarten at 5 in France, and then we began him in 1st grade after he turned 6 the day we arrived in Congo.

We began school that September 2015 in Congo, after unpacking just enough.  But between a Christmas in the village, moving to a new house in Kinshasa in January 2016, Piper being born and staying in the village for almost three weeks in March, and then having a new baby (post c-section), we didn’t finish the school year until the end of August.  By then, we were just two weeks out from our rest furlough last fall, so we decided to make that our “summer” break and start school again when we arrived home in Kin in December.

After Christmas last year, we began school right away, this past January.  But when we needed to begin packing, the books were the first to go in June.  Since we brought all of our possessions back to the US on the airplane, each bin was packed according to weight, so the books were all spread out to the different bags, of which we had 30!  So, unpacking for school has taken a while and we finally resumed the school year, with Amelia in 1st and Levi in 2nd, just after Labor Day.  During these “lulls,” Amelia began to read with more enthusiasm than anticipated.  She inhaled all of her readers, Levi’s readers, some of the kindergarten read-clouds, and other books we had around the house, all before leaving Congo!

I have always had both Levi and Amelia (and often Axel) sit around when we do Bible, history, science, or any other subject that wasn’t specifically on paper.  They’ve basically learned each other’s lessons, and we’ve nearly done first grade twice.

So, with all of that considered, we are finishing up this school year just before Christmas and will be able to start our next school year in January.  I will only do one curriculum level this year, putting Levi and Amelia in 3rd grade together, though still on different levels in spelling/writing and math, because Amelia is just barely six!  However, she is a very advanced reader and I’m positive she will be able to keep up and even excel if we can figure out a good balance between her six-year-old attention span and incredible intelligence.

My hope is to just chug along without a long break, finish this next school year early next fall and move right into the next level so that our schedule more closely resembles the American fall to spring school calendar.  Though many of our friends homeschool, it will be nice to be following a similar pattern.

But, then again, that’s the joy of homeschooling – the freedom of changing plans, intentional or not.