Monday, April 7, 2014

There is a Season

Today was the first day of Spring Break.  Noah did not come into the house for eight straight hours, which of course begs the questions:  What did he eat all day? and Did he not have to use the restroom? During the last week, the snow has finally melted from the ground, save a few spots close to the house. Spring is finally here in Grand Rapids and I am finally understanding a few things that I always heard other people talk about, but never fully understood the metaphors.

First, "seasons" as they pertain to seasons of life.  Bright, fun, summery seasons full of joy.  Blustery autumnal days with chilly change. Dark wintery seasons heavy with sadness and heartache.  And finally days of Spring bringing new life, hope, and anticipation of things to come.  We have seasons here in Michigan, unlike what I grew up knowing in Phoenix.  My concept of seasonal changes growing up was of the cartoonish calendar in my classroom depicting fall leaves, snowflakes, umbrellas, flowers, and sandcastles.  My teacher read books to our class about mythical snow days and fall apple picking.  Outside in real life, Phoenix looks pretty much the same twelve months a year. Then, we moved here.  We arrived in summer when days were long, our hope was strong, and our bank account was full.  The leaves slowly changed color and began to fall.  We marveled at the beauty of it all, the sun set earlier, and we began to feel lots of feelings.  The whole spectrum of feelings, really.  Then, winter came.  I learned a new phrase, "winter vortex", and we had a lot of frigid days because of that stupid vortex.  We don't have TV, so I don't really know what the national and local weathermen and weatherladies had to say about it, but I do know that our weather set some records around these parts.  We have had a nearly six month winter with obscene amounts of snow and record low temperatures.  The chill to my bones did not leave for months.  Our family was in a season of winter too.  I don't really feel sharing the nitty gritty on the internet is right because it is so personal, but I can say that just as it was perhaps the hardest winter in Grand Rapids history, it was the most difficult season in the record of our lives too.  It seemed like we were hit from so many angles... financially, spiritually, relationally, emotionally.  It was really lonely.  Just as the snow is melting and green is starting to reappear, hope is returning to our family as well. We are thankful for employment.  The kind of thankfulness that only comes after a long bout with unemployment.  We have hope about the purpose of why we moved to Grand Rapids in the first place, the non-profit we wish to get up and running to serve others.  Happiness is returning to our kids, as 1/3 of the Crazies has had an extremely tough time with this transition.  Our hearts are changing and we are taking steps to stay emotionally healthy.  Spring has sprung in more ways than one.

Related, I finally get what spring cleaning is all about.  When the snow melts, there is a lot of garbage underneath.  We discovered that there are a whole lot of people tossing vodka bottles out of their car windows.  Under the snow there is roadkill that has been frozen for months, but now they are not frozen and there are a lot of carcasses.  There were hubcaps, random shoes, a bumper, fast food trash, cigarette butts, evidence of unsavory shenanigans, and all those liquor bottles strewn up and down our road.  Mylie and I put on some gloves and filled multiple trash bags just cleaning the area in front of our house and up the road a bit.  Then inside the house, there are snow boots, snow bibs, hats, gloves, mittens, and scarves that I was very eager to put away and not see again until next winter.  There are shorts and tank tops and my beloved flip flops that I was pleased to return to my closet from the basement.  Opening windows to let in fresh air and let the stagnant air out has been glorious.  We are taking heavy quilts off beds.  We are cleaning long neglected crevices.  We are throwing out accumulated junk.  Spring cleaning our home feels good.  We are praying more as a family.  We are focusing on good and healthy habits.  We are reading our Bibles more.  We are finding ways to serve others more.  Spring cleaning our souls feels even better.

I really hope to return to blogging more regularly.  I love to write, and I love sharing the antics of our Crazies.  

Monday, March 31, 2014

Heard Around the House: March 2014

Mylie and Gary have a standing date on Thursdays when they go and volunteer together at the Humane Society... this conversation transpired on the way home one Thursday.

Mylie:  Dad, how long can we do this for?
Gary:  For as long as you want to.
Mylie:  Like, even when I'm old.
Gary:  Yes.
Mylie:  Well, I was planning on getting married on a Thursday. 
Gary:  Can you get married on a Friday instead?
Mylie:  Well, Friday is usually my planning day, but maybe a Saturday.

Presley, in the car on the way to church:  
"Second of all, I like this song. And second of all, why does it snow so much?"

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Moving On

I've thought a lot about writing this for a while now, even composing sentences in my head when I was supposed to be sleeping.  In short, Gary and I feel like we've turned a corner, in a good direction, from where we were as a family when we arrived in Michigan almost six months ago.

Perhaps surprising to some, although not those closest to us, coming "home" from Haiti was a really hard transition.  For our kids, Haiti held many things of a child's dream come true.  They had adventures, played a lot outside with many friends both at Good Neighbor and other American friends.  We were always together, which for our kids, they loved.  We schooled at our own pace, in our own style, in our own home.  For us adults, we had jobs that felt very purposeful.  Although the actual "living" part of living in Haiti was mostly difficult, it felt rewarding and fulfilling.  If you are truly interested (like for instance, if you know us in real life), I encourage you to read {THIS} article, because it explains many of our emotions and conflicts more accurately than I have the brain cells to process on this early morning.  Besides, why reinvent the wheel, you know?  Seriously though, please read this article for a better understanding of our transition as well as for someone you may know and love who has or will be returning from the mission field.  We had a lot of support returning, and I am so thankful for family, old friends and new friends, for providing so many tangible and material things for our family as we restarted life here.  Also, I'm very thankful for those in our life who, although they couldn't know first hand what we were feeling, they gave us the safe space to feel sad and discouraged, and prayed for and listened to me cry.    The most amazing gift was from those who acknowledged that this was hard for us and stepped in to whatever role, no matter how small, to help lighten our load.

So here we are, six months later, finally able to say, "the fog has lifted" in our hearts and minds.  We still wrestle with how to do life within the American church and American culture even though we no longer conform to many of the values within these institutions.  

To sum it up, thank you for sticking with us and supporting us in our journey.  We know it doesn't just belong to us, but also to the countless people who supported us financially when we were in Haiti, prayed and continue to pray for us, and who sent us notes and pictures of encouragement.  We are in this life together.  Thank you.

It's time for us to move on the next phase of God's plan.  Krulls in Haiti, no more.

Monday, February 3, 2014

On Getting Old and Flirted with by an Abercrombie Model

I am willing to bet that this is a common tale.  One morning, about five months ago, I discovered my first grey hair.  Up until this point, I'm sure they were there, but I was living in total denial.  Also significant to note; my bathroom for the last year had been lit by one lonesome bare lightbulb, so the lighting situation was totally an accomplice to my lack of personal inventory.  I wore no make-up, did little more than comb my wet hair straight from the shower and put it in a braid.  I wore workout clothes during the day, and to sleep in at night.  My outward appearance was of little concern to me.

Then I moved back to the U.S. and suddenly the last year of physical appearance neglect was glaringly obvious.  Turns out, that one grey hair was actually about about 15 grey hairs.  My clothes were all outdated, stained, and ridden with holes.  I have split ends, sunspots, dry skin, crows feet, and a good bit of stubborn baby weight.  Aging, you are a jerk.

I'm working on it.  My physical appearance ranks about 11th on my priority list, but I'm working on it.

So this morning, Mylie and I made a Starbucks run.  Our barista was "Evan".  He had shoulder length hair, a requisite slouchy beanie, and a dimple.  It was like a professional snowboarder and abercrombie model mated and had an even more attractive love child.  The problem with my encounter was the fact that he flirted with me in the same manner that a college kid might flirt with an eighty year old lady.  I know what that looks like because my brother Michael is a master at it, and was always a favorite with my grandma and all her friends at the old folks home.  After I purchased my non-fat hot chocolate and new mug, he asked if I wanted a receipt in case something happened and I needed to return the mug.  I told him no thanks, and then he said, "Oh, living on the edge, I like it."  The pity flirt.  Trying to make the old gal feel cool.  I get it.  It would have been sweet, had I not realized what he was doing and actually felt insulted.  Seriously.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Heard Around the House: December 2013

Mom, can you say poor girl to me?  I still have a runny nose, poor girl.

Presley, on cold weather: 
It feels like a smoovie (smoothie) outside!

Mylie, in regards to the cover of my Jillian Michaels workout DVD:  
Why does it look like she wants to hurt you?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Handmade Gifts on the Cheap

Happy Monday!  Just a quick note to let everyone know that I'm offering 40% off at my etsy shop, today only.  Use coupon code "MONDAY13"  during checkout and the discount will be taken off automatically.  Go {HERE} to visit.  

Thanks friends!
 Ornaments, great for teacher gifts, present toppers, stocking stuffers, or for the newlyweds or baby's first Christmas! Available in gold or silver, any letter!

 Do you have a custom logo or specific font that you love?  I can do custom orders specific to the size, color, and font that you want!

 This ampersand and "EAT" set are my two top sellers and a customer favorite!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Observations from The Mitten

So.  I've been living in The Mitten State for two months now and I have some observations.  First off, I have spent the last 35 years living in only hot places.  However, I have always reveled in what can only be described as "Sweater Weather", of which I had very little experience in.  Many times I attempted Sweater Weather in Arizona if the high for the day was in the 60's.  I wanted crunchy fall leaves, like real real bad.  I would get white hot jealous of people posting pictures of themselves in a sweater, sipping their pumpkin spice latte with falling leaves in the background.  In the city mouse versus country mouse division, I would classify myself squarely in the city mouse category.  In our neck of western Michigan, although we're not in the country, it has a very small town feel.  These are some neighborly folks, ya'll.

When we moved into our house, on day one, our new mailman stopped by just to say hi and introduce himself.  He literally said to us, "welcome aboard the neighborhood", and then waved goodbye as he walked to the next house.  I swear he was whistling and practically skipping as he went next door to deliver mail.  Oh, and that's another cultural difference.  Our mailbox is on our front porch, not a communal lockbox at the end of the street.  If our mailman sees me through the large picture window in the front room, he won't just drop the mail in the box, but actually knocks and hand delivers it.  Small town America, I tell you. 

We have three squirrels living in our backyard.  Presley is obsessed and has named them all, and convincingly calls them by name when she sees one.  We have Lucy, Miss Gingerbread, and Chet.  Interesting to note:  did you know that there is a squirrel hunting season in Michigan.  What the what?!?!  People here actually eat squirrel.  And when I say "people", really I mean some people.  I'm going to go on record as a firm believer that squirrels are close relatives to rodents, and although they are quite adorable, should not be consumed as sustenance in the day and age we live in where eating squirrel does not equate to staying alive.  Gary, a native Michigander (that's what they call themselves!), tells me I'm wrong and that they are delicious, but I just can't get on board with this.

We went to buy our pumpkins... from a pumpkin farmer.  There was no one there attending the pumpkin stand, just a bucket to put the money, on the honor system.  I love this.  PLUS... it was legitimately sweater AND jacket weather.

 This is Noah and Mylie's school.  It is a really old building with so much character.  As I have gotten to know the school secretary, I learned that she went to this school as a little girl.  Students back then walked home for lunch everyday.  Her parents, who are now in their 90's, still live in the same house just down the road.

I'm really doing my best to be positive, because living here is going to be so great.  Truth is, we're struggling.  Lots of emotions of loss, grief, anger, resentment, sadness.  So, in the midst of this difficult time, I'm going to focus on what is GOOD in our lives right now, today.  There is so much good, life can just be messy sometimes!