Saturday, June 15, 2019

The Bathroom Remodel (or: Home Improvement Never Again)

We're not big on home improvements. It's odd, because we really like projects and are reasonably handy people. But when it comes to our home, well, we tend to be pretty content with what we've got.

Take, for example the kids' bathroom. We "updated" it approximately 15 years ago, which honestly only meant painting it and removing the linoleum and re-tiling. And so it stayed for the next decade and a half!

[pause for adorable photo of Ben simultaneously washing his feet and double-fisted toothbrushing. I found this photo when searching for "before" photos. Note that this is the last time he's been spotted multitasking]

This is the bathroom we've been living with. Honestly, it's been more than serviceable. But then we got it into our big dumb heads that we should redo the bathroom. Because we're idiots and we hate money, free time, and marital harmony.

So we went to Ikea. And we bought all. the. things.

We thought that if we hired somebody to do the tiling it would make the experience less terrible. It didn't.

All joking aside, I'm super happy with the results. The pegboards and double sink were my brilliant husband's idea. Since we have a hundred children, it's really nice to have two places to brush teeth and wash hands. And the pegboards are awesome for reconfigurable storage to hold all the paraphernalia of self-care.

Now to take on swapping the kids' rooms. Which means... more flooring, organization, dust, arguments, late nights, painting...

Pray for us.

And, why do people take on these home improvement projects more frequently than once a decade? Those people have deep, deep issues.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Mexico Memories


Our friends at the Hogar de Amor orphanage in Colima, Mexico have become a part of the fabric of our family; our annual trip to Colima an expectation and requirement on the family calendar. Over the past seven years, our brothers and sisters in Colima have truly become family.

And many of our friends, neighbors, coworkers, and community here in the U.S. have been a part of God's work in Colima by supporting us and this trip. We wanted to take a minute to report back to you the impact that you're having on the kids and caregivers of Hogar de Amor.

I know that describing our trip is destined to fall short - the only way to get it is to go (for sure, come with us!)! But photos are probably the next best thing, so here's a quick video summary of our 2019 visit to Colima. You can also read all about our adventures and see a day-by-day photo summary in our team blog at http://centerpointmexico.blogspot.com


In May we had the honor and pleasure of giving an extended presentation about the trip and its deeper meaning and impact at CenterPoint Church (our home church). This video includes an interview with my co-leaders about the trip and also about 15 minutes of me sharing the impact of our time at Hogar de Amor:

This year, we fundraised hard for Hogar de Amor to raise money to build a new home for the adolescent boys. The current teen boys' home is a rental and is poor repair. This winter, a plot of land was gifted to Hogar de Amor to build a new boys' home, and we've been working hard to make sure they can build a home the boys will be proud to live in.

Thanks to your gifts, the new adolescent boys' home is now fully funded! Here's a photo of the construction that we took in early April:

And here it is in mid-May!

We can't wait to see this home completed for the boys. Here's a photo of the boys who will move into the new Adolescent Home just as soon as it's ready for them. Your gifts, prayers, and support are making a difference to these kids and to over a hundred more just like them at Hogar de Amor.

Thank you for your support for Hogar de Amor. The outpouring of love from our community to theirs has been such an encouragement to our family and is impacting these kids for a lifetime and beyond.

If you'd like to stay even more connected to Hogar de Amor year-round, they have an excellent sponsorship program. The kids write frequently, you're encouraged to write back, and you get to stay really connected to their lives. If you're interested, just fill out the form at http://www.hogardeamor.org/en/sponsor-a-child and the staff will contact you with next steps.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

When Commuting Goes Wrong: Concussion Confessions

If you know me at all, you know a few key facts: Raw tomatoes are gross, I almost always wear Birkenstocks, and I love to ride my bike. Yes, there are more datapoints available about my life, but I think those three cover the essentials.

I cycle commute year-round and I love it. My current commute is a quick 2.5 miles and rain, snow, or shine you’ll usually find me on the saddle with a smile. Cycling to work has many advantages: no parking hassles, cheap(er) transportation, fresh air, low carbon footprint, a little extra exercise, looking like a badass (especially on bad-weather days). My favorite benefit is having quieting centering me-time at the start and end of each workday - cycling truly is therapeutic for my body and soul.

My husband gave me a bike for my birthday seven years ago, and shortly thereafter I started to cycle commute whenever I could. It was love at first ride.

Over the years I’ve ridden to and from work over 800 times. That means I’ve cycle commuted about every other day since I started. Not bad, considering vacations, sick days, travel, and the occasional day when I have to drive in (sigh) because of off-site meetings or appointments. I’ve racked up a total of over 8,500 miles in commute distances alone. At this rate, it will take me another thirteen years to cycle commute the equivalent of the circumference of the earth. I’m up for the challenge.

So, yeah, cycle commuting (and riding in general) is a big deal to me and something I’m super grateful for. And after those hundreds of rides and thousands of miles, I had never experienced a serious issue while riding. Sure, I blew out a few tubes and got a couple of scrapes, but nothing big. Until the end of March.

I was riding home at my normal time, on my normal route, on my normal bike, and I got unlucky and biffed a few blocks from work. I have only spotty memories from the incident...

I remember somebody asking if I was ok, so I guess a driver saw me go down and stopped to check on me. I’m sure I said I was fine (clearly I was not).

I remember being on the bike path I take home every day and feeling a little scared because I didn’t know where I was… but I knew I knew where I was. And I remember not knowing how to get home… but knowing that I knew how to get home.

Good thing my body knew the route even if my brain was at far less than peak performance, because the next thing I remember is stopping in my driveway, putting the kickstand down on my bike, walking into the house, and telling Steve that I had fallen on my bike and needed to go to Instacare.

Wise man that he is, he took me immediately to the Emergency Room. By then I was almost ok - I think I knew the answer to every question except for the year. That was frustrating. I knew I knew what year it was, it just took me 20 minutes to figure out the answer :)

CT scans and X-rays and a few checkups later, everything was ok, I just was very banged up and bruised - body and brain both.

Recovery has been slow and laborious. I love my brain, and the awareness that my brain is not performing at full capacity has been deeply challenging for me. My mental processing is still a little slow, especially at the end of the day or when I’m tired. I still get queasy if I spend too much time looking at a computer screen (I work in software, so that’s a bit of a challenge). I’ve given up TV and movies almost entirely because they just don’t feel good.

But you know what still feels great? Riding my bike.

People have asked if I wanted to give up riding after my accident, and my answer is a resounding no. I got unlucky. Accidents happen in lots of different ways and staying home on the couch (or deciding to drive instead of ride) in order to avoid an accident seems like an unhealthy response. Besides, plenty of people get hurt in car accidents, too!

I did get a new helmet. And I watch corners with curbs more closely now. I’m still taking things slow; there’s a lot of healing still to do. I get frustrated on the slow days and the headache days.

And when I get frustrated, my very best therapy - body and mind - is still a to hop on my bike and take a spin.

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