Friday, December 25, 2009

Home for Christmas

For the first time in 35 Christmases together, we spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day on our own. It wasn't what we had planned - certainly we missed being with family in Michigan - but with a winter snow storm across much of the Midwest and very rainy weather in St. Louis we stayed home to keep the basement dry. No, the leak hasn't been fixed yet.

Our wonderful neighbors sent over Christmas Eve dinner and a Christmas Day snack, and friends and family called to talk and let us join in on some of the festivities. We watched several movies, cleaned out a few years worth of papers, magazines, clothes, and other stuff, kept up with the water leak, and watched the light snow that gave us a white Christmas by the end of the day. And we just enjoyed being together and keeping in mind that whatever the circumstances we had each other and the love of God in the gift of Jesus Christ. What else did we really need to enjoy a blessed and merry Christmas?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Change of Plans

Well, we didn't make it to Florida for Thanksgiving after all. As it turned out, none of the family was able to make it due to illnesses, leaky basements, busy moving, and other unexpected interruptions. So, we'll have to make new plans to go see Kristy, Cam, Ruth and Joseph - hopefully before the next baby arrives.

Kim, Doug, and the kids came to our house for a couple of days to share Thanksgiving dinner, make a gingerbread house, see some Christmas lights, and just enjoy a little time together for the holiday. William said an amazing and very thoughtful prayer before dinner that had us all smiling and in tears. And of course we had a lot of fun playing with him and Ella and Emily.
Sadly, we didn't get to take our annual Thanksgiving family photograph. Maybe we'll have to piece one together with Photoshop this time ... or get together after the two babies are born in the Spring so they can be in the picture as well.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Wet Basement Aftermath

While Greg was in Mexico, all the rain in St. Louis left Kitty and our housemates dealing with water seeping through the foundation and into our lower-level family room. The furniture was moved, the carpet came up, the paneling came down, and dirt and plastic were put in place outside to redirect the rain water. A small shop vac and a constant swap of dry towels for wet ones barely kept up with the 20-some gallons of water coming in every hour.

Greg got home the second evening and bought a large shop vac that was able to keep up with the leak and quickly pump the water out of the house. Still, that setup had to be left running non-stop for another 72 hours until the water finally stopped coming in (for now). More rain is forecast for next week.

Here are some photographs of the aftermath. It's not looking quite as bad now as it did when we were in the middle of it. And we're starting to get estimates for various suggested repairs - from $350 for epoxy injection in the spot that's leaking to $6800 for a drain tile and sump system that would protect the whole house. We haven't had any leaks in the 22 years we've lived in this house, so this won't be an easy decision.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mexico Mission 2009

For the fifth year, Greg joined 36 people from churches across Missouri, Illinois, and Kansas to travel to Phoenix and then to Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point), Mexico, to build homes for families in need. The two teams spent the better part of 3 days in the desert building two homes, camping, and worshiping together. We look forward to this God-given opportunity every year and to how He will bless the team and the family we get to serve. It's hard to explain how amazing and humbling this experience is each year; to share a few days with a family and learn something about who they are and how they live, to work alongside them and watch them get so excited over a simple two-room stucco house that is smaller then most of our garages, and then to come home and be thankful for the comfort and safety we live in - and realize how much "stuff" we have that we really don't need to be happy and content.

This video captures just some of the experiences, work, memories, and fun from this year's trip.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

On the Road Again

Kitty's just back from Tampa after watching two of the grandkids for a week. Now she's already in KC helping the kids there get ready to move, while Greg's in Virginia Beach on business. He'll help out In KC this weekend and then he's off to Phoenix and Mexico as part of a team building a house for a needy family. Then it's back to Florida for a Thanksgiving with family. Life on the run … it's good.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Tykes on Trikes

The weather turned cool (alright, it was cold) while we were in KC last weekend, so we spent a morning with the 3 grandkids at one of their favorite places near their home - a church gym and coffee house. They all ended up riding tricycles and having such a blast chasing each other and being chased by us.

Will is fast, of course, but Ella may be more of a daredevil. And Emma is just so darn cute - and not afraid to mix it up with her older siblings! All smiles and laughter, can't think of a better way to stay warm and get some exercise.

Of course, we did spend a little time out in the crisp, fresh air!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

October Sunday

The weather's turning a bit cooler and the trees are starting to change color, so after church this morning we decided to enjoy a stroll hand-in-hand along Main Street in Old Town St. Charles. We watched a wedding in the central gazebo, did some window-shopping in the quaint stores, read some of the historical markers, and ate lunch on the third-floor balcony of Lewis & Clark's where we could take in the whole wonderful panorama of the afternoon. Then it was home for a nap ...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

School's Out

After some recent soul-searching, it became quite clear that Greg's continued studies were getting in the way of other life priorities like family, church, work, house, ministry, rest, play, and more. So as of last week, Greg officially disconnected from grad studies towards a Masters in Management.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Pinecrest Weekend

Each year over the Labor Day weekend our church family enjoys a retreat at Pinecrest Camp near Fredericktown, Missouri. Well, it's actually just outside the town of Cherokee Pass, but you may not find that on most maps. After 21 years straight of taking part in this wonderful weekend, we missed it last year ... and were glad to enjoy it once again this past weekend.

In addition to the lake, the pool, the gym, the food, the canoes and paddle boats, the games, the blob (you'll have to ask), the volleyball and mini-golf, the crafts, and the wonderful time of fellowship with young and older ... its all about the time with God in worship, prayer, study, the celebration of Baptism, the serenity of Communion, and the quiet and beauty of being in the midst of His creation. This year the biblical teaching came from the book of 1 John and understanding what it means to be one born of God, one of His family. How do we describe a weekend that included difficult - even brutal - confrontation and conviction, but also one that brought such a sense of joy and freedom to our spirits as we talked and prayed (and played) together or spent some time in solitude and meditation? What a blessing!

God is so good ...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Smooth Sailin'

In between weekends with Joseph, Ruth, Kristy, and Cameron, the Carnival Inspiration took us on a 5-night cruise from Tampa to Grand Cayman island and Cozumel, Mexico. The blue sky was sunny and clear, the indigo water smooth and warm, the sunrises and sunsets beautiful, and the ports quite enjoyable. We were a little apprehensive about taking a Carnival cruise, but our time on the Inspiration surprised us and we were able to have some fun and get some rest and relaxation. The ship, the food, the entertainment, and our stateroom all exceeded our expectations.

The highlight of this trip had to be the time at Stingray City in Grand Cayman. To be surrounded by these large, strong, and graceful creatures was a bit intimidating at first, but as you can see we quickly got used to them. Kitty even gave one a kiss! At Cozumel we again took the ferry to the Mexican mainland and spent the day at Xcaret eco-park. It was as much fun as last year!

Where we went ... sail-away celebration ... under the Skyway Bridge
Interesting decor ... tender at Grand Cayman ... Turtle Farm
Fresh coconut ... the scenery at "Hell" ... approaching Stingray City
Enjoying Stingray City
Dinner companions ... nighttime atrium neon ... the Cozumel pier
Xcaret eco-park ... Kitty relaxing ... sunset on the Gulf