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MORE SNOW???????????

I feel like we should play that old Sesame Street game:  Which of these things doesn’t belong??

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The answer in ALL of the pictures is of course the SNOW!!!!! DUH!!!! Here it is almost April and this is what it’s looked like around here this last week.  Ughhh.  That POOR robin!

It’s been a fast week since my last post — we’ve had a lot going on here.  We finally got the results of Henry’s MRI’s a couple days ago.  We need to wait until our appointment with the pediatric neurologist (in two weeks) before we can share specifics, but there is definitely a lot going on inside his brain and spine and it is not anything that we have suspected.  I am reeling a little from some of the terms used — it will be very good to sit down and speak with the neurologist to figure out where we go from here and what it really means.  Thank you all for the encouragement and for riding along with us on this diagnostic roller-coaster.  I will be able to share more later.

Peter and I have been looking at house plans again this week and walking the land for building sites.  It’s been in the back of our minds that we would like to begin building soon, but I haven’t really expected that things would fall into place this year.  I am excited about the possibility — yet I know that once we start we will be very, very busy and very, very focused for a season like we were on this house.

So, between this, that and the usual spring projects (like getting the garden ready and planting peas and spinach! Yay!)  I’ve been neglecting the blogging world a bit.  We’ve been enjoying the usual spring weather around here: warm and sunny one day and then blizzarding the next!  I don’t have any pictures from last weekend because even though my kids looked adorable in their Easter get-up, it snowed and slushed the entire day and was just too yucky and dreary to take any happy spring pictures!  🙂 

…more later!

…I bought some polka-dot material and a dress pattern at the store last week — and then I borrowed my mum’s sewing machine and seam ripper to attempt making a dress for my daughter.

I’m baffled by the end result… somehow it turned out wearable!  I haven’t made a dress since I was a student in High School.  I had to google every other term on the instructions.  Seriously.  I couldn’t even remember what “cut on the fold” meant!  Ha!  And there were some major mishaps that had to be torn out and re-stitched… And don’t look too closely because there was another mishap involving the scissors and the wrong end of the fabric — so I actually had to mend the dress before it was ever even worn by the child. 

As to how long it took… well, that is between me and me.  🙂

But she was SOOOO thrilled that I made it for her.  The whole process fascinated her.  I hope it’s a special memory that lasts forever, because it’s certainly the last sewing whim I’m going to be following for a looooonng time!!!

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Nothing shouts “spring” as loudly as a wild buttercup!

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SYNERGY: (sĭn’ər-jē) n.  “The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects.”

I love this word — and this concept.  I have always loved this concept.  The combined efforts of two or more people can result in a far greater outcome than the sum of what they could each do on their own.  Wow — this really encourages me.  For one, I am a very relational person and the idea that I can make a bigger impact on the world by joining with like-minded people is motivating.  But it also helps when I feel overwhelmed by the great needs that I see worldwide.  It helps when I feel small and insignificant — like a drop in the ocean.  I am grateful that our collective efforts can be greater and more effective than what we could acheive alone.  This is a relief!  We can make a huge difference in the world by being willing to live beyond ourselves and partner with others who are in the arena of our passion, working toward a common goal.

So with that as an intro, I want to share an awesome opportunity with you.  One of my blogging friends, Brandi, has been working really hard to raise money for clean water (by drilling wells) in Liberia.  She’s raised most of the money for the first well and has extended the opportunity to get involved with raising the rest of the funds through our blogging network.  This is a REALLY important project.  Clean drinking water (or the widespread lack thereof) is one of the leading causes of disease and death in many African countries.  It’s something that we take for granted every day, but it is one of the vital elements needed for survival in this world.  

This first well is going to be drilled in an area that desperately needs it.  The first time I read about Rock Hill, it hit me so hard.  It hits home even harder now, because many of the people that labor day in and day out are people with handicaps — like Henry. 15,000 people live in the area known as Rock Hill in Monrovia, Liberia.  Men, women and children pound (by hand) large rocks into smaller pieces that they sell for construction projects and roads.  They make on average roughly 40 cents a day.  They labor day in and day out (I read somewhere that many work twelve hour days) — most without hope that life will ever change.  They live in abject poverty, facing countless diseases and horrible conditions every day — all without clean water to drink.  The water that is available to buy is filthy and may give them a disease that will kill them.  It’s hard to even imagine being in that situation. 

So obviously this is a great opportunity to get involved and give toward a very good cause!  It’s pretty easy to sacrifice the money we would use to buy a soda or a latte when we stop to think about how different our lives are from the hundreds of people — children included — that will benefit from the clean water this project will provide.

That’s all — please consider donating a few dollars!  Five or ten dollars is a relatively small amount — but as we synergise, it CAN make a huge difference in thousands of people’s lives through this project.  I cannot for the life of me figure out how to paste the donate button here — so please visit Brandi’s post and use the link on her page. 

Just call this a completely random post!  It should be separated into two or three individual posts, but I’ve not had the time to write them separately, so united they shall be. 

First of all, please continue to pray for Henry’s sweet Liberian “foster sister” Ellie.  She is still in ICU from major surgery last Wednesday and her body needs to heal up to prepare for more surgery next week.  It has been heart-wrenching to read her mom’s account of this difficult process.  I can hardly imagine how difficult it must be for them.  They so appreciate all the prayer being offered up on their daughter’s behalf  — please continue to pray, and if you don’t know her, please take a moment to jump over to her mom’s blog

As far as our week has been… (oh, wait, is it already the start of another one???  Where DID the last one go??)  Henry went in for his MRIs on Thursday morning.  It took a lot longer than we thought it would and he ended up being “under” for almost four hours — but supposedly they got all four scans and hopefully we’ll hear very soon about what’s really going on inside that brain of his.  He was so confused and disoriented when he woke up in the recovery room.  He didn’t seem to recognize me at first and was crying such a sad little cry — it was hard not being able to comfort him and I was relieved when he was finally aware enough to know me and be comforted.  Thankfully he had no negative side effects from the anesthetic and he was back to his usual LOUD jovial self just hours later!  🙂

The MRI’s were done in Spokane and we were there several days; but we’re back home now, and hopefully will be able to stay home for a while!  I can tell that all the traveling we’ve been doing lately for Henry’s appointments is starting to catch up with the kids.  We need a little down time to re-establish some rhythm and routine. 

Last week we had the privilege of meeting an awesome woman and I wanted to share a link to her website.  She started a small orphanage in Mozambique a few years ago and currently takes care of forty kids.  She takes in older children, and they have become like a large family.  We were invited to listen to her share at a local church and I am SO very glad we went.  She has such an amazing heart for Africa and she is so humble and real and strong all at the same time.  It was a huge blessing listening to her share stories about the kids in her orphanage and the ways God has provided miraculously for them.  She went over to Africa with a strong call and vision to start an orphanage, but without really knowing how things were going to unfold.  The story of how the orphanage came to be is so inspiring.  We were able to spend some time talking with her afterward and it was one of those connections that we knew immediately God had orchestrated.  She told us to come on over to Mozambique and spend some time at the orphanage and we told her we’ll see!  We are still just seeking God about the next season of our lives.  We feel like we’ll end up in Africa for part of it… but we really want to be sensitive and walk through the right open doors.  Anyway, here’s the link to her web-page. http://houseofblessingmoz.com/index.html

Peter and I are still researching and writing plans for the non-profit business (Liberia-related) that we’ve spoken to several of you about.  We are getting pretty excited about it and are trying to finish all the paperwork soon so we can share more.  Check back for an update next week!  (How’s that for a shameless plug? 🙂 )

(Wow — this IS a random post!  I warned you!)

I loved the feedback on my last post — I was surprised by all the enthusiasm toward green smoothies and rawness.  Yay!  We decided to start our raw week today, so we are officially on day one of 100% raw and we’re feeling great (other than typical bizarre cravings…)  I will try to post recipes soon — on-line accountability always helps with dedication and enthusiasm! 🙂 — but I won’t complicate this random post further by sharing now. 

And finally, I’ve been wanting to share this little video clip from our day up at Red last Saturday for all you boarders that didn’t make it to a mountain this season (especially you, sis — I’ve missed you this year!)  We took the camera to shoot some video for Jo to show her where mommy and daddy go all day with our funny boards (she’s fascinated by them.)  She loved it!  The video is really bumpy and the quality is not-so-great, but oh well — we’re total amateurs at filming.  You get the point.  This is a chunk from the middle… heading out toward Roots and Cambodia for those that know the mountain (the names of back-country runs crack me up… “needles” “shoots” “beer belly” “cambodia” “ledges” — who names them anyway?)

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We’ve been making green smoothies every day lately.  Yummmm!  We alternate ingredients — but this cantaloupe, strawberry and spinach recipe is one of our current favorites!  Just add a little water, blend away and enjoy!!  I am so blessed that both kids have adventurous taste-buds…  They slurp down almost every combination of fresh veggie juice and green smoothie and usually ask for more!

Peter and I have decided to jump in with both feet and go 100% raw for a week (starting next week sometime.)  We have been “dabbling” with some great raw recipes since the beginning of the year, but we haven’t gone 100% yet.  I am really excited about it and will post the meals that we especially enjoy.  I know what you’re thinking — but there are actually a HUGE variety of fantastic recipes out there.  Really.  I am excited about attempting to make healthy pizza, brownies, and more out of 100% raw ingredients. 

I realized the other day that I don’t post very much about our quest to be healthier and embrace a natural lifestyle.  I have been really enjoying a lot of great health blogs lately — everything from hard-core Raw Foodies to Vegans to Naturopathic Gurus.  I thought about starting a separate blog to chronicle our favorite recipes and forays into the raw food scene, but then I realized how hard it is to just post on here once or twice a week — if I had another blog, you might never hear from me again!  Plus, I figure that this is a multi-faceted personal blog — so really, I can talk about whatever interests me, right?? And who knows?  Maybe I can inspire a few stalkers to do a little blending and un-cooking, too!  😉 

I am going to start adding links to some of my favorite nutrition and health blogs… just as soon as I get some time to organize my sidebar.  Bet ya can’t wait!  Ha!

I don’t know about the rest of the country, but we have an unofficial fifth season that slips in between winter and spring — the not-so-creatively dubbed “Mud Season”.  It comes every year without fail…  This year it is promising to be extra-yucky and extra-long since we got a lot more snow than usual over the winter.  We have a good three weeks of mud left — if not more!   Yeecchhh!  It wouldn’t be so bad if the mud would stay outside, but of course it doesn’t.  It also means that we inevitably have to deal with people getting stuck in our driveway.  We’ve already had a couple casualties so far this season.  And if you have never had to push someone out of being stuck in the mud, take a moment to imagine how messy that could be for the ones behind the car pushing (as the spinning tires are throwing mud back behind the vehicle.  Got a visual??  🙂 )

It’s definitely NOT my favorite season — but the kids sure love it!  Actually, I remember loving it as a kid, too.  The snow was disappearing and there were oodles of puddles to play in and no shortage of perfect mud to “cook” with.  It was also the first time in months that we were finally turned loose outside without having to be bundled up!

I guess there are a few aspects of this season that I still like.  There is that sweet promise of spring in the air… and the birds are back, singing and chirping in full chorus.  The crocuses will be poking through the remaining snow soon — and I think we could find the first of the buttercups if we went out in search of them.  I love opening up the door to the south and letting the sun and fresh air stream it.  I also love standing out on the deck facing the wind.  There is nothing like strong gusts of warm spring wind against my face and in my hair to make me feel wild and free.  I also like donning a pair of rubber boots to tromp out for a walk… although I will be glad when the boots are no longer necessary!

I’m glad my kids have so much fun in it, but I am quickly running out of fresh “mud clothes” for them and it’s not quite warm enough yet to turn them out in the buff.  I guess I’ll have to do some laundry — seems a shame though, to wash clothes just so they can end up looking like THIS in a matter of minutes!!  🙂

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Oh, and speaking of getting things clean after mud-play, you should see the bath water after these two are finally clean!! 

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Well, I guess I didn’t do a very good job communicating earlier about Henry’s appointment.  I had several people ask for clarification.  I’ve talked to so many friends and family in person about it that I forgot to be really specific for those that just pop in here every now and then…

So here goes:

The bottom line is that it looks to the specialist that Henry’s non-functioning arm is the result of nerve damage in the shoulder.  He is not a candidate for nerve surgery; so unless a miracle occurs, he will never regain the use of his arm.  The damage is permanent.  We are getting the MRIs this week to find out “officially” whether there is any brain damage causing additional issues in his body (resulting in Cerebral Palsy.) 

Hopefully that is more clear.  When I said I was processing, I meant I was having to deal with the reality that it’s a permanent condition.  We’ve been trying to hold on to hope and stay optimistic that therapy and/or surgery would help him regain even just a little use of it.  Like I said, I have thoughts that I will share later…

Right now though, I’m going to follow up on a fun tag!  Brandi tagged me to share ten random things — and I probably would have passed if it had been about me (since I am sure you have had all you can take of random Amberness between my 100 things and the weird tag!)  but I couldn’t pass on this one since she said to include Peter.   I don’t write enough about my husband on here… so in no particular order, here are ten random things about him:

1.) Peter twirls his hair when it’s long enough.  Drives me nuts, so I always bug him to get it cut and keep it short.  I have come to realize after five years of marriage that it is a completely unconscious habit — he really can’t help himself! 🙂

2.)  He was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona.  I think this contributed to his ability to thrive in really hot weather and his love of Mexican food. 

3.) I always tease him that he must have been born with a phone on his ear!  Seriously, the guy is a communicator and is on the phone a LOT (most of it is work-related, although sometimes he talks to MY friends for a while before handing the phone to me!)  It actually works out pretty well for us, because I am not much of a phone talker — so it balances out in the end.  At least I always know I can get in contact with him if I need to! 

4.)  He is a chronic sleep-walker and sleep-talker.  At least once or twice a month I wake to him saying something totally off the wall in his sleep — or else getting dressed because he thinks someone is in our house at three in the morning!  I have had some FUNNY conversations with him that he totally does not remember! 

5.) Peter loves people and is one of those kind of guys that makes friends instantly.  He just knows what to say to put people at ease and he genuinely enjoys meeting new people and developing new relationships.  He is really great with kids too — they instantly warm up to him.  I think part of it is because he is definitely still a kid at heart. 

6.) He has a great sense of humor and has such a contagious laugh when something strikes him funny.  I crack up just listening to him. 

7.)  Peter plays the keyboard off and on with one of our worship teams at church.  He also heads up the sound team.  I think it’s great that he knows what all those knobs and switches control on the board and that he can mix sound… it seems really complicated to me.

8.) He’s pretty opinionated and if you get him started you’d better be ready for a lively discussion! (very different from my peace-maker personality…)  He loves listening to talk radio and calls in!  Yes — he is that crazy Peter from WA state that you may have heard on the air… Ha! :0)

9.) He has blown out both knees on separate occasions (one while playing soccer, one while snowboarding.)  After a couple surgeries, he’s back to both sports — albeit carefully!   He also has two herniated discs in his lower back from an injury in high school.  I am amazed by how much he does with chronic low back pain.  You really wouldn’t know it by how active he is. 

10.) He’s very optimistic and willing to takes risks.  I love that he thinks outside the box and is adventurous enough to approach things from an unconventional standpoint.

So there ya go… a little randomness about my hubby. 

We had such a great trip, even though we came home to a foot of snow STILL!!  The weather was so mild and warm and springish in Seattle and Oregon…  I sorta forgot that it was still winter back home.  Ugh.  I feel like I’ve gone back in time. C’mon spring!!!!

The kids were so good on the road and we enjoyed the time together while driving.  We sang silly songs and told stories… and then while the kids slept, Peter and I were able to talk about some directional issues that we have been praying about — we didn’t make any major decisions, but we certainly had some great discussion!

Here are a few of my favorite shots:

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This was literally five minutes down I-5 after leaving my parent’s house on Thursday.  And she said she wasn’t tired!  🙂

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Henry discovered lollies on this trip!  They kept him entertained for miles! (Yes, I know… what am I doing feeding candy to my kids??  I actually found these organic all-natural lollipops at Traders Joes — so they aren’t ALL bad!  🙂 )

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This one was a little too sour for his taste, I guess!

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We had the BEST time staying at the Z-treehouse for the weekend.  These guys rock.  Seriously, we love them so much and feel like we have been friends forever.  Our kids loved their kids and they played together so well.  It was just an awesome, memorable visit all around.  We were able to go to their adoption group meeting on Friday night — it was a treat to meet everyone there and gave me some good ideas for starting a group up here.  We also really enjoyed going to church on Sunday and getting to see Corey in his element.  He’s a fantastic speaker and pastor. 

Of course, Jamie and I had so much fun taking pictures of our kids together!  We were often passing our cameras back and forth — and just had a blast laughing and snapping away!  🙂  She ended up with some really great photos of the kiddos — check out her post to see those…  She inspires me to keep practicing!

That’s their house in the picture above.  The picture does not do it justice.  It’s gorgeous and they built it themselves. (Like actually built it with hammers and saws! 😉 ) We literally built our house ourselves, too — so it was fun swapping building stories.  🙂  Their hospitality was amazing — I only wish we’d been able to stay longer!  It’s nice that we don’t live too far apart.  We already have plans for a visit from them in the spring. 

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Such a beautiful family — we love you guys!!!

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Kendra and Jo hit it off so well — they raced around the house and “cooked” things in Kendra’s play kitchen and had spontaneous giggle fits about the silliest things — in true three-year-old fashion!  Joanna is really excited about having a pen-pal. (Yep — real, old-fashioned lettersl! 🙂 )

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There’s Jamie leaning over the railing, trying to get a good shot of the kids… she put it well when she said that they didn’t stand a chance.  Poor kids, between the two of us — it was absolutely true! 

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The boys took turns pushing each other around on the fire truck.  Henry made fire truck noises and Micah smiled the whole time.  He is the smiliest little kid!!  They are both so mild-tempered; they just sort of loved on each other the whole time… MUCH more laid-back than our girls!

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We went out for a walk after dinner — I wish I had been able to take some video of Henry in the wagon with Micah!  He was laughing soooo hard!  Cracked us up!

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And, yes, we did manage to get a couple pictures on the other side of the lens.  We told Peter that he had better make us look gorgeous.  Ha!  🙂

Fast-forward a bit… We stayed at my sister and brother-in-law’s place in Portland on our way home.  It was so good to see them again.  We’ve really missed them since they moved.  They are such cool people.  I love that my sister has always been and still is one of my best friends…

The good news is that they are going to be moving back to Spokane later this summer!  Hallelujah!

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I love this picture because of the little munchkin at the top of the slide in the background!  What a smile!

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We took the kids to a playground near my sister’s house.  Henry was so tired, he fell asleep on the short drive there and slept in his car seat at the park until I finally woke him up.  It was just too much fun for him to miss!  All the playgrounds around our place are still covered in snow…

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Yeah, he had so much fun.  I’m glad I woke him up — even though he was crabby later…

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They loved seeing their Aunt Sissy and Uncle J.  Peter’s brother also showed up for a few minutes at the park, so they got to see Uncle Drew as well.  It was just a great afternoon.  🙂

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A couple shots from the drive home.  It was a gorgeous day and that drive along the Columbia River is always stunning.  Peter and I just kept saying “wow!”…

So now we are home; unpacking and re-acclimating to the snow!

A little about me…

Wife. Mother. Friend. Daughter. Sister. Aunt. Student. Adventure-lover. Photo-taker. Book-reader. Organic gardener. Granola-maker. Green smoothie drinker. Snowboarder. Soccer-player. Aspiring rock-climber. Sometime health nut. Passionate about justice and mercy. Adoption advocate. Business owner and jewelry designer. Wild at heart. Crazy-blessed to live out in the country with my awesome family.

Photography Website:

Contact Me:

sunfreckled@gmail.com
"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something I can do." {Helen Keller}

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