Sunday, April 30, 2006

A Milestone

Today was a milestone for Kev. After crossing the North Dakota state line, he has now officially been to all states in the continental U.S. Yay!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Eastward Ho

Well, I didn’t get the request for more “action shots” until tonight so … sorry!

This trip has really been amazing, if you can’t tell from the pictures themselves. Every day has been so different – the scenery has been very diverse and we’ve enjoyed everything from the big city to no-man’s-land.

We stayed in Coeur d’Alene on Thursday evening at the Turneys' lovely home. They have awesome views of the lake from their house.

Then, we spent all of Friday driving through western Montana. We are pleased to report that the Big Sky state truly does live up to its name. The panoramic views were incredible.

On Saturday (today) we toured Yellowstone National Park. I think my favorite part was all the wildlife. Bison and elk were all over the place. The bald eagles were also amazing.

Meredith has been such a trooper! She pretty much hates her car seat by now but who blames her for that? She’s been so good to take all her naps in her car seat, stroller, or daddy’s backpack depending on what we’re doing. The pics below are of her at a restaurant and then with daddy looking at chipmunks at a rest stop.

Tomorrow we’re headed to North Dakota. Yahoo!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Evergreen Travels

The Reitzes in Olympia (capitol in the background). We had a great visit with friends!

The whole Olympia gang.

Kevin and Meredith on the ferry to Seattle. I told Kevin that he should handcuff me to our car and then I would feel like Ashley Judd in “Double Jeopardy.”

Amy, on the ferry, with the Seattle skyline in the background.

Pike Place Market. I didn’t realize how cool this would be. I think it ultimately came down to the fact that there was so much wonderful FOOD. Have I mentioned that I love food?! We bought handmade cheese, sausage, fresh bread, and an orange that tasted like candy!

Amy enjoying a mocha at the original Starbucks. This is where it all started, folks.

Meredith on top of Seattle. We enjoyed a great view from the tallest building in Seattle, where we looked down on the space needle and the rest of the city. It was a good way to end a perfect gray day in Seattle.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Up the coast ...

We now have a new definition of what constitutions a decent hotel room. Let me give you a piece of friendly advice – NEVER STAY AT THE ECONO LODGE IN CRESCENT CITY, CALIFORNIA.

Although we usually have good luck, you just never know with those online “deals.”

This place was a total dump. We were tempted to take a loss and find a hotel elsewhere but I convinced Kevin that, in the end, it would still be better than camping.

Kevin’s first words once we decided to go ahead and stay at the hotel in Crescent City: “Let’s hurry and go to sleep so we can wake up and go somewhere else!”

The funny thing is, tonight we’re staying at an awesome place across from the beach in Lincoln City, OR – and it’s cheaper than last night’s lodging. (I just don’t get it, do you?) When we first walked into our room, Kevin kept exclaiming how great everything is! “Look at this Amy, it looks like the carpet is CLEAN!”

Anyway, we are really enjoying ourselves. We had a great time hiking in the Redwoods, discovering the Oregon sand dunes, taking a long walk on the beach in Lincoln City, and exploring the tide pools here. We even spotted a few star fish.

Here are some pictures of our journey thus far. We are very glad that we’ve been able to take this fabulous vacation. It is a much-needed break for us!

“That’s OK, Dad, you sit in the back now … I’ll take the wheel for a while.”

Can you find Kevin and Meredith in this picture?

This is when I was reenacting a fall I had – I slipped in the mud when trying to climb inside a hollow tree and fell square on my backside.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Living High in Redding

All of our earthly possessions are now on a moving van headed to Indiana, or with us at a motel in Redding, California. While Redding is not exactly a world class city, our “vacation” is starting off on a very good foot. I just had a luxuriously long bath, cookies and milk (compliments of our hotel), and free internet in our room. Could it get any better?

At the moment, I don’t think it could.

There were 22 volunteers to help us move, plus three babies and one toddler. We got everything packed and into the van in just under three hours.

Now we’re off on our grand adventure. If we have free internet at other locations along the way, I just might be stopping in again.

I’m sure you’re all very eager for me to describe the beauty and wonders of North Dakota.

Easter Baby

Friday, April 14, 2006

Spring Has Sprung

Today I bought strawberries, asparagus, and tulips. The sun is shining brightly and red breasted robins have been scurrying about our backyard all morning. It must truly be spring now.

While in the checkout line at the grocery store, Meredith threw her doll into the path of an elderly gentleman. He kindly picked it up and handed it back to her. We soon struck up a friendly conversation.

“My wife and I always wanted girls,” he said. “But we had boys.”

“Do you have grandchildren?” I asked.

“Oh yes, four grandsons and a granddaughter.”

“Well then,” I replied. “You finally got your girl!”

“I think it’s harder to raise girls than boys in this day and age,” he continued. “If I had a sixteen year old daughter, I think I would keep her locked in her room!”

With that happy comment, he smiled and walked away.

In the back of my mind, I probably realized that it’s likely become more difficult to raise daughters now than in previous generations (probably, I guess, because modern culture is so image-driven, teens are constantly inundated with sexual images and messages, and because of the overall breakdown of the family unit).

Until today, however, I had never really ruminated on that concept. Although Meredith will be raised in a Christian home and we plan to guide her as best we can, I know it will be impossible to completely insulate her from detrimental worldly influences.

But I suppose that’s where our strength ends and God’s grace begins.

Anyway, happy Easter and happy spring!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

How could this have happened?

How sad would this be that no one would notice you're missing for three years!

"A woman's skeleton was discovered in her flat three years after she is believed to have died, it emerged today. Joyce Vincent was surrounded by Christmas presents and the television and heating in her bedsit were still on."

Click here to read more.


Meredith's new word, since saying "nigh-nigh" when she's tired, is "dog." She's suddenly become very verbal and is trying harder to communicate with us. Kevin has a Butler University t-shirt he got from his sister Shannon, who is a student at Butler. On the t-shirt is their mascot, a mean looking bulldog. Every time Kevin wears this shirt, Meredith points to it and says "DOG." We love it!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Next Three Weeks

Unfortunately my blogging activity is gonna have to be scarce in the next few weeks. [Now that I’ve told you that, I’ll probably write four posts tomorrow.]

I’ve got company coming for Easter, my lovely family. It’ll be my first time to host a holiday at my house. Yay! I just wish there was more time to embellish all the details and make it as special as possible.

And then there’s the dreaded packing. I have an entire house to pack up in the next – oh my gosh, can it be that soon? – nine days. I’ve been consoling myself that at least there are about ten boxes already packed and sitting in our garage. That’s a start, right?

And then, last night, Kevin and I figured out that every single evening until we move is accounted for. No more restful evenings at the Koons’ house until our departure.

And then there’s the two week trip back east. We’re going to go back to Indiana, taking the most indirect route possible – up the coast to Seattle and then across the top of the country. Kevin has only three states left to visit in the continental United States – Washington, Montana, and North Dakota. And, by George, we’re going to hit them all! I’ve already told him that, no matter what time of day it is, we’re going to stop at the “Welcome to North Dakota” sign – which I’m sure is in the middle of nowhere – and take his picture. Maybe we’ll even pull out some goblets and sparkling cider too. I think it’s quite a feat to be only 28 and have gone to all those states. We’re also going to hit up a couple of the national parks, which will be fun.

Some of you have asked if we’ve sold our house yet. I regret to inform you that, no, we have not sold our house yet. Are we crazy to leave without selling our house? Yes, but we have been known to do other crazy things in the past, living life on the edge, so this is no different. In our optimistic minds, we’re telling ourselves that the market will pick up as summer approaches. We would appreciate your prayers that our house sells … and soon would be nice! Thank you!

Lastly, I would like to wish you all a very happy Easter! He is Risen. Christ has conquered death. This is truly something to celebrate.

Dr. Jekyll, Miss Hyde

Today my little baby girl turned into the devil incarnate before my very eyes. And it happened at a public place – one of my favorite restaurants!

Normally when we eat out, Meredith sits in her high chair and happily snacks on Cheerios, or whatever else we feed her. Today she simply wouldn’t sit still. She threw all her food on the floor – Cheerios, mashed carrots, and fried rice. When I handed her a toy, it promptly went to the floor as well. Then she started this screaming fit – a shrill, piercing scream that caused all heads in the restaurant to turn in our direction.

Out of desperation, I gave her what I thought was a thick-papered packet of sugar to shut her up. After one bite, the packet broke in two and Meredith quickly ate all the sugar and half the paper.

By the time we left the restaurant, our table, the surrounding floor area, Meredith’s shirt, and my [previously white] pants, looked like a tornado had swept through.

I’m fairly convinced that the restaurant owner took our picture and has posted it in their kitchen to warn employees about is if we attempt a future visit: “If these people are spotted within a mile of our restaurant or parking lot, please promptly bolt all doors.”

Now, as I type, my little devil is smiling like an angel, cooing, and quietly playing with her toys on the floor.

You know … since becoming a parent, I’ve learned to be a lot less judgmental.

Before, when seeing a kid act up in public, I would think, “What a bratty kid. Those parents should do something to stop that kid.”

Now that, today, I was the one with the bratty kid, I understand that it’s a lot easier said than done.

Okay, I’ve gotta go. I’m bracing myself for when the contents of that sugar packet get to her bloodstream. I’m really going to be in for it then.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Kevin would rather DIE

I think Kevin would rather die than go to a neighbor’s house and ask if he could take a picture of their flowers.

Kevin is civil. He’s polite. He’s a gentleman. And, although I strive to be a lady deserving of a man like him, I tend to be a little more edgy with the things I say and do in public.

So, I went to our neighbor’s house (someone who lives on the cul-de-sac around the corner whom I had never met before) and asked if I could take a picture of their calla lilies, my favorite flower (although I alternate between these, blue hydrangeas, and roses).

Turns out that our neighbor is an older, deaf man. My grandmother is deaf and so I know some basic, rudimentary sign language.

So, I was able to communicate to him: “Flowers … picture … me take.” He got my point. Then I told him: “They are beautiful” (sans the dead ones, but I didn't tell him that). He smiled at me. I think he was happy that someone made the effort to sign to him.

The reason I wanted to take this picture is so I could use it to tell you all the things I will miss about California. And, I will also mention the things I’m looking forward to about Indiana. Note: These are THINGS I’m talking about, not people.

Things I will miss about California:

- The early spring – the fact that calla lilies begin to bloom in January and roses begin to bloom in April.
- The dry, cool evening breezes in the summertime.
- The snow-capped mountains in the horizon.
- The open-space near our house where we ride bikes and take walks.
- The peaceful parkways in our community (Roseville really does have nice infrastructure).

Things I’m looking forward to in Indiana:

- The four seasons – I’m a romantic vs. a utilitarian, what can I say?
- Summer thunderstorms. So excited about this!
- Fire flies.
- Living where the color “green” takes on a new meaning.
- Vibrant fall colors.
- Sledding in the winter (even though you may have to drive to find a hill in Indiana).
- The prospect of having a backyard that’s bigger than a matchbox.
- The family-friendly cost of living!

I’m sure there are more in each category, but these are just some of the things I can think of.

Friendship is Learned

As we prepare to head east, we are saying our sad goodbyes. On Saturday our bible study friends gave us a sweet farewell dinner – and a scrapbook of the fun times we’ve had.

Although I still have a lot to learn about being a good friend, I know my experiences here in Sacramento have taught me how to be a better friend. And this is primarily due to our bible study friends.

Never before have I observed a more tight-knit group of people who, at the same time, are so welcoming of new people. It blows me away! How is this possible? How is it possible for a group of friends to be so loyal to each other, so caring and generous to each other, yet, at the same time, to be so open to giving the same love and devotion to whomever walks through the door?

Kevin and I are very different from many of the couples in our bible study. We don’t go to the same church as the rest of them. We were homeschooled and most of them are public school teachers. We have very different backgrounds and, for the most part, different ideas of how we want to raise our children (e.g., daycare, education, etc.). And we differ on some theological concepts too.

For many Christians, one or two of these differences alone would prohibit a loving and dedicated friendship. Judgments would take place – or at least thoughts of “we can never be close because we are too different.”

Our bible study friends never focused on the differences. They simply focused on loving us and welcoming us to a strange new city.

They called us when they hadn’t heard from us. They invited us into their homes. They offered to share their worldly possessions, even when we knew they didn’t have much to give. They helped us commemorate and celebrate momentous occasions in life. They rejoiced with us and they empathized with us. They loved us unconditionally, as Christ would love.

I learned a lot from them. I learned to be more understanding and loving myself. I learned how rewarding and fulfilling true, unselfish friendship can be.

If there was only one reason God brought us to Sacramento for the past three years – for us to learn how to be better friends to the people in our lives, regardless of how different we are from them – it was one of the most valuable lessons I could have ever learned.

One last thing I want to say …

For some of you it might be easy to say, “Oh, I wish I had I group of friends like that.” If I were reading this post, and didn’t have friends like that, I would say that too.

One thing I’ve learned is that when you don’t have good friends, you can be the person to cultivate friendships like this. Rather than sitting back and thinking “I wish I had friends,” I learned to look for new friends in “unlikely places.” Maybe they’ll be older than you, or younger than you. Maybe they’ll go to a different church. Maybe they’ll travel in different circles than you’re used to traveling in. I’ve learned that it’s worth it to go out of your comfort zone. Looking for friends in unlikely places can result in deep, rewarding friendships that you never expected.

Okay, I’ve promised Meredith I would take her for a walk! Gotta go!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

I've come to terms with mushrooms. Almost.

Uh oh, I must be growing up because I’m learning to appreciate, or at least tolerate, more vegetables. I came to terms with broccoli and squash several years ago. Lately I’ve been working on mushrooms.

I’ve never been able to figure out why people like mushrooms. They’re too reminiscent of toad stools that grow in the backyard.

Last week, as I planned the family menu and made my grocery list, I decided I was going to make chicken tetrazzini. Problem is, chicken tetrazzini has mushrooms in it.

Before I gave in, I looked online to see if I could find something good to substitute for mushrooms. I learned that there really aren’t any good alternatives.

So, last night, as my chicken tetrazzini baked in the oven, I wondered if I could really do it.

I’m happy to report that I did! I’m SO grown up.

Sick Baby 101

Well, this past week I’ve taken a hands-on course in Sick Baby 101. It’s amazing how many things I never realized about sick babies. For instance, I didn’t really even know how high of a temperature is too high (i.e., when should I freak-out and call the doctor). Now I know.

I also didn’t know that three days of fever is common before a baby shows symptoms of being sick. Now I know.

Lastly, I didn’t know that it’s “normal” for a baby to break out in a scary looking rash after her fever goes away. Now I know that too.

All these things I’m learning.

And, because of dealing with all of this, have I even started packing? No. Are we moving in two weeks? Yes. Am I a nervous wreck? I probably should be.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

S.F. Chronicle gets it right for once.

Thanks to Tuckster for this "tip." I was amazed when I read Leno's quote last week. I'm glad he's retracted, although I think that a person's initial reaction to a thing typically shows their true feelings (vs. "oops I was caught and now I have to save face").

I'm glad to see that the Chronicle had the courage to point out what is obvious - "tolerance" is supposed to be a TWO WAY street.

San Francisco Chronicle Editorial

Intolerant City

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

THE IRONY was obviously lost on the clueless San Francisco supervisors when they passed a resolution warning that a Christian youth gathering could "negatively influence the politics of America's most tolerant and progressive city."

Spare us the doomsday hyperbole, supervisors.

We can safely report that the politics of San Francisco suffered no discernible shift in ideological alignment from the convergence of 25,000 Christian teenagers listening to rock 'n' roll music and words of inspiration. There was no evidence of any surge in support for the Iraq war, affection for President Bush or oil drilling off the California coast. The medical-marijuana clubs were still doing business as usual, public dancing was still legal, the petition gatherers were still working Market Street for the latest save-the-planet cause.

The supervisors' reaction to the evangelical Christians was so boorishly over the top that only one word could describe it:


Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, was quoted telling counterprotesters Friday that the gathering Christians were "loud, they're obnoxious, they're disgusting and they should get out of San Francisco." On Monday, however, Leno struck a more reasoned tone, acknowledging that his rally cry was "not one of my prouder moments." He said the youth group was "welcome in San Francisco," even though he does worry that its religious rhetoric could "under a cloak of love" feed a "fearful world's appetite for hate."

In fact, concern about heterosexual sex by unmarried youth gets equal treatment from the Battle Cry campaign. Its goal is to spread Christianity and to help young people recognize and resist the cultural influences of a "stealthy enemy" that includes "corporations, media conglomerates and purveyors of popular culture." Its Web site ( speaks of "casualties of war" that include drinking, drug use, teen sex, pornography, abortion, suicide and violence.

We may disagree with certain aspects of the Battle Cry agenda -- on issues such as abortion rights, religion in schools or acceptance of an individual's sexual orientation -- but the attempt by counterprotesters and some of the city's elected officials to call them "fascist" and "hateful" was totally at odds with the tone of the ballpark event and the approach of the Web site.

The gathering was not an "act of provocation," as the supervisors claimed. It was a get-together of young evangelicals whose lifestyles and religious views just happen to be in the minority here -- apparently making them open season for politicians to chastise.

The young people who came to San Francisco to affirm their faith and enjoy a day of rock music deserved better. They deserved to be welcomed by a city that was as tolerant and progressive as its sanctimonious supervisors like to profess.

Monday, April 03, 2006

But men aren't mice ...

Last night we watched Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. I realize it’s a classic but I’d never read the book and wasn’t familiar with the story line.

It left me feeling deeply disturbed. Kevin had warned me of where the story was going but I didn’t believe him. He hadn’t seen (or read) it either so I figured he was guessing the ending incorrectly. But, alas, he was right.

I didn’t like the analogy between killing Candy’s dog and killing Lennie – i.e., when something is no good to society it should be exterminated.

There is a big difference between animals (e.g., mice and dogs) and human beings. Humans are made in the image of God and have a soul. Humans are given dominion over animals and have a higher purpose.

I realize that Lennie had become a threat to other human life, so the taking of his life could ultimately be justified. (And George did it out of “compassion” to avoid a more brutal killing.) But that wasn’t the point of the story. That’s not where the author was taking us.

Although I was disturbed by the ending, and the implied worldview, I did appreciate the food for thought. And the acting was magnificent. I would recommend you see it for that alone.