Thursday, October 23, 2008

Just to update ... found my cell phone

Or rather, Megan found my cell phone. She wants me to remember that. Of course she found it in her room. I didn't even think to look there (not sure why).

Not nearly as exciting as Shawn's recent post ... exciting news huh. :-) On a practical note, please send us any advice for releasing our possessions to the universe to downsize the household prior to moving.

Unforeseen Paths

I said good-bye to a good friend at work today. She and her husband are moving to California, to work out of the SAP Palo Alto office. I have known her since my very first day at Firstlogic, and we have worked on the same projects for much of my time here. Although I know this move is very good for them, I can’t help but be saddened that I will no longer see her every day.

I’ve said good-bye to several friends leaving SAP over the last few months. Some are still in the area, but the sad reality is that, since I don’t see them at work, I never see them. It’s on my mind a lot at the moment because, if all goes as planned, I can see my own good-bye coming down the line.

I have felt unfulfilled at work for a couple of years now. Although programming is still intellectually challenging and sometimes even fun, working for a large corporation, making money for people I’ll never meet, is empty and not good for the soul, or at least not good for mine. This really hit home when Tami and I were in Annapolis last May for my brother Kevin’s retirement from the Marine Corps. While ruminating on changes, transitions, and the old giving way to the new, I realized that I am not in the right place.

What is the right place? After months of soul-searching, prayer, talking to people, and other forms of discernment, I feel that God is calling me to become a pastor in our denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. I have officially started the process—candidacy--leading to attending seminary and eventual ordination. Tami and I have told our families, and I have made this public at our church, so it’s time to start telling everyone else.

Surprised? Believe me, it came as a surprise to me at first, too. But the more I explored the idea, the more right it has felt. It was cemented earlier this month when Tami and I spent a weekend at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, at an event for prospective seminary students. Tami summed up that weekend so well in an email to our families that I will just quote her:

“Our main concern going into the weekend was that Luther wasn't going to be a good fit as far as family life, but those worries have been erased from our minds.

“I [Tami] was likely the more skeptical one there of the two of us, and by Monday afternoon I was wishing we could move there sooner rather than later. I was also doing my best to figure out how we could BOTH be taking classes as Luther offers a number of M.A. programs, including more than one that interests me. So, while we're there we just may both figure out what we want to do when we grow up. :-)

“I don't know what I can briefly say about Luther other than it is a vibrant place totally alive with love of learning and love of God ... a community of faith and a community of life-long learning.

“Other points of note -- Shawn's fears of being the oldest were totally put to rest both in seeing the current students and in conversing with the other prospective students. It is a very diverse bunch there (and what a blessing that will be for our family as well!). I also think he/we are a little less scared of Greek now. :-)

“Now the scary part is getting our house ready to sell and our lives ready for transition. So keep us in your thoughts and prayers on that note!

“I also do not yet know what this will mean for Megan's schedule. Megan and I have begun talking about it, and I assured her there is time to decide and that we'll take her wishes into account. … Again, another area where we can use all the positive thoughts and prayers possible.”

I [Shawn] came home from Luther convinced that my call is real, and that seminary is the place for me. I submitted my name for the candidacy process the next day. To have Tami feel so strongly positive about it as well is a blessing of incalculable worth. While I would love to start next fall, we feel that the best time to make such a major transition is when Nessa starts kindergarten, so we are targeting summer of 2010 for our move. This gives us more time to get the house ready and to sell it as well.

We will be attending a similar event at Wartburg Seminary in Dubuque, IA, in a couple of weeks, but (to quote Tami again): “we would be surprised if we didn't still prefer Luther. Since Luther has a better geographic location going for it in terms of where we want to be located as well as proximity to resources in the Twin Cities, Wartburg would have to overcome all of that by its community and seminary offerings. Considering we fell in love with the Luther community, we're not sure that is possible, LOL.”

I have been feeling a great sense of peace since arriving at this decision. I feel even better now that we are beginning to share this with everyone. If you pray, please keep us in your prayers. If not, please wish us well and keep us in your thoughts. As Tami says, “Regardless of the challenges, we pray we are ready for them as we venture on a journey that we don't know where we'll end up.” I never expected to take this path, but now that I’m firmly on it I’m very excited to see where it leads. And I thank God every day that I will have my soulmate by my side as I go.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The rest of pictures and a few updates

If you likes the preview earlier this month, you'll enjoy seeing all the picts from the family fall photo shoot: Rachel did an awesome job! Now to pick a "Christmas photo."

A bit of this and that:
  • I don't want to make too big of an announcement only to find out it's a premature own, but we're pretty excited around here about Nessa not using a pull up on over a week! Yes, this means at night and during nap times too!!!! Of course this started right AFTER we ordered another case of pull ups (7th generation via Amazon).

  • Nessa is excited to be a pumpkin for Halloween. Please do not tell her that this isn't very creative. Not only is it what she wants, but I don't want her to learn that her mom isn't very creative when it comes to Halloween costumes either. She's dressing up at daycare, but we're not going to go trick-or-treating this year. (Megan will be with her Dad.) Nessa won't know what she's missing, and we decided that neither of us will miss it this year, and that way we don't deal with going through and figuring out what candy she can eat or not (what is gluten free in other words). I'm sure she'll go in the future, or we'll start hosting a fall party each year, but this year is going to be low key. We did find a costume at Goodwill last night that Nessa thinks is great, and that is all that matters to me. :-)

  • Megan has gone to a Halloween party already, but still doesn't know what to dress up as for trick-or-treating. She wore her Dad's old dress blues Navy uniform to the party. Aah, that brings back memories from a previous life.

  • I'm really settling into our fall schedule and really enjoying having more time with Megan this year. I don't even mind the car rides to La Crescent--not even the early morning ones when Megan has safety patrol in the morning. I've found some of our best mother-daughter conversations happen in the car/van! (And boy is it the age for that! For the record, being a big sister doesn't really prepare you for these talks.)

  • Megan and I have still been doing yoga most weeks, and the last two weeks we've been doing restorative yoga instead. Megan loves this so much I don't think she's going to let me go back to the regular hatha yoga sessions (with her). It seems to restore Megan right to sleep she gets so relaxed! I have to admit it is great stress relief, and I highly recommend it.

  • Megan is doing great with her trumpet, and I just found out she has her first band concert in December!!!! :-) And more importantly, she said she still loves playing it. Some of the songs are recognizable now.

  • Nessa discovered barbies. I'm not sure if she knows that is what they are or not because usually they are just called dolls, and that's fine with me. They are all Megan's old barbies, and I don't anticipate actually buying any more, but I may be on the look out for more barbie clothes because apparently barbie clothes disintegrate with age or something. Well, what's your explanation for all the naked barbies I found? If you have an answer to that one, maybe you can tell me why half off them also didn't have heads, or rather didn't have heads attached? I don't understand how this happens to dolls in storage for years. They came out of storage because Nessa discovered the Barbie van (I honestly don't remember where that came from because I certainly don't remember buying it.), and then Nessa wanted dolls that fit in the van. So, softie that I am, I dug out a couple of barbies, and then when she wanted to fill ALL of the seats, I dug out more.

  • Nessa has possibly learned to "play sick" in order to get to stay home and hopefully get to watch movies and do other things she normally doesn't get to do. :-( She was very convincing until she got what she wanted. OK, really I think Monday when I brought her home from daycare she was just a little under the weather, but Tuesday when she tried it again she couldn't keep from smiling so she wasn't able to fool anyone.

  • We have already gone through the stomach flu (Nessa then Megan at Applefest time, and then Shawn and I at Oktoberfest time -- one reason there are no Oktoberfest photos this year), and now we all kind of went through or are going through some other virus. I'm hoping we're getting things out of the way so that we can be all healthy for the holidays!

  • I also confirmed the over the last couple of weeks that gluten is total poison to my body. I am so used to feeling well now, and it feels SO GREAT, that when I feel ill, it feels REALLY bad. :-( Three times in two weeks I got gluten ... once by cross contamination of some sort when eating out, once because I plain wasn't careful enough when eating out, and once because I thought I would try "gluten free" oats and realized that even labeled gluten free I can NOT handle oats either. :-( So, to help heal and feel really good again the last few days I've gone to a 100% raw food diet, and I feel SO good again! What a difference from Monday night when I was sicker than I've been in a long, long time. I've gone 100% raw for days here and there, but generally it about 75 to 90% raw.

  • Speaking of food -- I've also been busy blogging on the Green Smoothie blog! Please check it out, and please comment on the posts, and if you don't want to comment then let me know directly what you would love to read about there (or elsewhere, lol). Right now it is taking a chunk of my time, but I'm hoping once I get going it won't be as long. However, the inspiration I get from doing interviews and talking to the other bloggers is SO worth it. My posts may sound like I don't need inspiration, but I do need it -- A LOT. I mean you would think that feeling normal again would be enough inspiration, but nope, I'm human. :-)

  • In other news, I've lost my cell phone. :-( I'm sure I'll find it right after I get a new one. I'm just trying to decide if I'm just replacing a phone or changing plans, etc. So, stay tuned for a possible new number, and in the meantime if you need to talk to me, ping me for an alternate number or call Shawn's phone on nights/weekends.

  • And in really BIG news, Shawn and I are finally reading the same book! The Bible. ;-) Okay, not that we each haven't read from Bibles over the last five years, but now we're really reading the same one (okay Shawn ended up buying his own). It's the "Bible in 90 Days" which lays it out in 12 pages a day reading and has larger text which is surprisingly important. I'm really loving it even when I realize why I never read the last several chapters of Exodus before. :-) I'm reading lots of other inspirational stuff too, but I'll save that for another post.

Well, I know there are some things I forgot ... and a few things I intentionally left out because this is already a book. Hey does anyone remember when I actually hand wrote letters this long back in my other life (pre-email and yet living away from family and friends)? Well, I did. So, if you made it this far count yourself lucky that you're not having to read this hand-written.

Much more soon ... maybe even photos ;-)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Pride Goeth In The Fall

Remember how proud I was a couple of weeks ago that Nessa picked her Vikings shirt to wear? Well, on Sunday I received my comeuppance.

For some time now Nessa has been saying that her favorite colors are green and yellow (which can make choosing clothes from her predominantly pink wardrobe a bit tricky, but that’s another story for a different day). This has filled me with foreboding, and now my worst fears have been realized.

Nessa (seeing football on TV): “Are the Packers playing?”

Daddy: “No, they played already and lost.”

Nessa: “Maybe they’ll win tomorrow!”

Daddy: “Well, they don’t play tomorrow, sweetie. But we don’t want the Packers to win, we want them to lose. We want the Vikings to win.”

Nessa: “No, I like the Packers!”

Sigh. Nessa has been known to say things just to push Daddy's buttons, so I'm hoping that was the case here. On the other hand, perhaps--like so many parents before me--I’m discovering that it’s difficult to keep your children adhering to traditional ways in a new land.

I told Tami I thought we needed to move to Rochester, into the Mayo High School district. At least there green and yellow are acceptable, as long as there isn’t a big white “G” in the middle.

Now I know how my father, a Bears fan, felt when I was growing up.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Family photos and family fun all in one day!

Is that a great picture of Nessa, or what?!? Anyone that has tried knows it isn't easy to get good natural pics of our sweet girl. ;-)

We met Rachel at Tweite's Pumpkin Patch near Byron, MN as we were spending the day there as part of my niece Rebecca's birthday party. The bright sunny fall day was great for fun, but a bit challenging for pictures. From the few preview pics, I think Rachel did a great job.

You can see the rest of the preview pics on her own blog:

After pictures we had lunch right at the pumpkin patch which is a nice treat for us. The Tweite's are familiar with celiac and were able to tell us what was safe for Nessa and I to eat. While picnics are great sometimes, it's also nice to just come and play and eat when we're hungry.

Then we went and played, and played, and played. There are many different playground areas, including slides and fun for the big kids. There are lots of fun make believe areas as well as a large corn maze too. And then there is the large sand
box that kept Nessa's attention for over a half an hour late in the afternoon. There are lots of amateur pics of the day too, but not on my camera which was left at home...when I get some from my family I'll post a link to them.

As the rain came throughout the day today (Sunday) Shawn, Nessa and I still had one reminder of our fun fall day that was filled with sun -- sun burned noses and cheeks! Apparently MN in October is still sunscreen weather when you're outside ALL day! :-( It's pretty mild, but still a good lesson. Hopefully we got a nice dose of vitamin D too. ;-)

And in other notes --
It was a nice break between hectic weeks. Last week we were recovering from Nessa and then Shawn being ill with a mild stomach flu when Wednesday evening I got sick as well. Of course I had to do it while trying to have a fun night out at Oktoberfest with Megan. Poor Megan didn't get to go on many rides this year.

This week is my work customer conference, so along with my normal deadlines I'll be making sure all my business clothes are ready to wear. Then Shawn and I will be preparing for a couple of nights away while Grandma and Grandpa Brooks stay with Nessa next weekend.

And Megan and Nessa just keep growing and learning each and every day. I sometimes wish I had a recorder going 24/7 just so I could remember and share all the wonderfully entertaining, and sometimes impressive, things they say. Nessa's not too entertaining new thing is to be a back seat driver. Megan did the same thing so I'm not surprised, but why it it that I have to teach my children the rules of the road when they're THREE or else they don't stop asking why we don't "get in front of that truck" or numerous other questions or demands concerning driving. Nessa also likes turtles lately and she said that yellow lights are like turtles because I told her yellow lights mean "caution / slow." (Why do we teach kids that anyway?) Oh, and Megan is learning just a bit about politics this fall although I wasn't actually able to take her to see Obama when he was in La Crosse this past Wednesday. Megan did however fall asleep while watching the VP debate. And that was the exciting debate. ;-)