Miss Ella’s First Day



On Tuesday this week, our big girl made the journey by bus for her first day as a kindergartener. I was thankful to have Pete by my side as she walked up those bus steps like she had done it a hundred times before. What was I expecting? A hesitant, questioning glance back over her shoulder as she climbed slowly up the steps? Not Ella. The girl who approaches new experiences with more confidence than her mama possesses on any given day. The girl who makes friends at every turn and who proudly introduces every member of the family to anyone who has an ear to listen. She was more than ready for this next big adventure. She marched right up those bus stairs and into the world of formal education.

That’s partly true. Miss Ella began her ‘formal education’ two years ago as a three-year-old at a local Montessori school. The fact she’s been going to school every week day since then made today a world easier for me. I remember sitting alone, folding clothes in a very quiet house while tiny baby Sammy slept. And I cried. Entering kindergarten for Ella isn’t a whole lot different from what she’s already been doing. She’s with the same teacher and most of the same students, ages three to five. She started eating a cold lunch at school last year, so that part was routine. The two big changes now – she rides the bus and she stays two hours longer in the day.

We’re all getting used to the new routine. School begins mercifully late compared to most at a beautiful 9am. That means we don’t need alarm clocks to wake up with plenty of time to get ready. She steps on the bus at 8:50 and steps off at 3:12. My favorite part about the bus and the longer day is that I no longer have to wake Sam from his morning nap to pick up Ella. We can be out in the mornings, visitng friends and running errands, and he can still get in a full nap. We’re only on day three of this schedule, but we’re fairly in love with it. While Sam naps, I work out, clean up, prep meals, and get ready for our move. Ella hasn’t taken an actual afternoon nap in about a year, but she is used to having quiet time to rest. Now she really needs it after her long day. Yesterday, she actually fell asleep sitting up while trying to play with Sam. Overall, we’re all enjoying the new, fall schedule. And since it’s even feeling a lot like fall here in the north, it all seems like the natural progression.


Sadly, friends, we won’t be making our much anticipated move to the shore tomorrow. We received a call yesterday informing us that our lender needs a bit more time to process everything. We’re trying not to get too down about it, but we had our hearts set on being in our new space this weekend and settling in while Pete works on Sunday. Ella was a little confused since her paper chain tells her we have just one day left, but I was very proud of how well she took the news. The estate sale company will still begin their work in the house on Monday, so we’re considering our options. We don’t know when the new closing date will be set, but when it is, Ella will be making a new paper chain and we’ll all count the days!

As we prepare to move, will you please be praying over our family? It seems that in the last week many things have been coming against us, and I don’t question that it’s Satan trying to kick us down. Last week our bank account was compromised in a very unsettling way. We had to close all of our accounts and switch to another bank. That’s no small task. Then Ella was sick with a stomach bug all weekend while Pete was working. Tuesday night, when I finally had an opportunity to leave the house for the first time in three days, I discovered that my Jeep wouldn’t start. We had her towed, got a new alternator, and she returned to us today. And now Sam is uncomfortably sick with a slight fever. He has needed constant cuddles (which I don’t mind!), but it’s hard to see him feeling so awful. Even with all this going on, I feel like we’re staying positive and moving forward. It’s all just a touch slower than we had hoped with messed up accounts, sick kids, no car, and unsure housing.

One way I’m staying positive is by gathering things for the kids’ room. I love love love to decorate, but most of the condo is already decorated, so I’m grabbing on to this little project. I have just about everything other than a few prints for small frames. Nothing too fancy, but good heavens am I excited!




Take Me to the Water

When we began to prepare for our estate sale in July, we didn’t know where it would lead us. All we knew was that we felt we were supposed to go through all of our possessions and pray about the next step. Pete and I laughed together at the freedom we were feeling as we picked out the few things we wanted to keep. It was so far from how I usually feel about my possessions! Family asked what we would do without any of our furniture and most of the kids’ toys and and so many other things. The simple answer was that we had no idea. But we did know we needed to keep praying about it.

About a week after we went through the entire house, we felt like we needed to look into other housing options. We love our home, and we thought we would have it for many more years. However, there are issues with renting it while we’re in Kenya. One, we’re not technically in a renting zone. Two, it’s 90 years old and requires ongoing upkeep. And three, if a family moves in and we come home from Kenya, are we going to kick them out for the few months we’ll be in Duluth? Probably not. We would have to find another place to live. Why have the house if we can’t stay in it? So the search began.

Sam rocks

Sammy loves the lake!

We started, as we often do, by dreaming and praying. (We’re big dreamers!) I’ve been interested in the tiny house movement, though there aren’t many options for that in the Duluth area. We looked for small cabins, and then came across ESCAPE cabins made in Wisconsin, 400 square-foot portable homes that completely appealed to both of us. The idea of being that small and simple sounded magical. The issue was where to put it while still staying close enough to Pete’s hospital. We began looking at pieces of land on the edge of town, but then we would have to deal with water and sewage hook-up, clearing a space for the cabin, and creating a driveway. Land around here is not cheap. And then what would we do with it while in Kenya? So we continued looking and praying.

At that point, we felt that our move was supposed to be a way for us to simplify, so we counted out houses and stuck only to condos and apartments. I did, however, want to have a space for the kids to play outside, whether in the grass or at a nearby playground. We chose to look at renting or buying and, on a date night in late July, we drove around town looking at possibilities. We checked out multiple nice apartments, even though they are primarily for college students. Then we looked at a nice condo building, though there was no space for the kids to play. Then we drove through an area with fairly new rentals, but I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the kids’ safety in the neighborhood. It was 11pm by that time, and we weren’t feeling entirely encouraged. We jumped on the Interstate to head home, but as we drove by one more condo building, one that was far nicer than what we’d been imagining for our family, we decided to swing in and take a look. Really, it was just to lift our spirits.

Remember I said this was at 11pm? Some of the condos in this area are used as vacation rentals, so we thought there might be someone at the front desk. Indeed, there was a gentleman who told us all about the condos and then let us walk through a few of the empty rentals on our own. They were beautiful, and so very cozy, and perfectly situated right on the shore of Lake Superior. We left that night, feeling a little more encouraged, and sent an email to our real estate agent, the same one we’ve been working with for ten years, to let him know some of our thoughts on moving forward with a move.

We soon discovered that there were two units for sale in the complex. Upon visiting them, we immediately ruled out one and fell in love with the other. All this time we continued to pray. We wanted to make sure we weren’t getting ahead of God’s plan for our family. As we prayed, we felt He was telling us it was okay to move ahead, so we took it step by step, continuing to make sure this was the right thing. As we quietly started to share the news with close friends and family, it seemed that the move and purchase of this condo was the right thing for our family and our plans for the future. With that confirmation, we submitted an offer, which was accepted, and a closing date was set. Friends, we will be closing and moving on September 5, less than one week from today!

Ella rock

we’ll be doing a whole lot more of this!

With the purchase of this condo, it seems that God is aligning his plans for our future. The condo will serve as a furnished vacation rental while we’re in Kenya, managed by a company that takes care of many of the units in the three buildings that make up the association. That way, it will be available whenever we’re back from Africa. Our minimal personal belongings will be stored securely in a room down the hall from our unit. No kicking out a family or finding a short-term place to live! And the whole selling everything in our estate sale thing? Well, that’s been taken care of. When we submitted our offer, we also asked if the owners would be willing to sell it furnished. Amazingly, they agreed, so all the furniture that was selected for that particular space is already in place. What an answer to our prayers! Because it’s a part of an association, we don’t have to do any yard work or snow clearing in the winter. And remember what I said about needing a place for the kids to play? There is a stretch of green grass directly out our patio. It is only that stretch of grass that separates our new home from the lake that we so dearly love. It also happens to be right on the Lakewalk, a beautifully paved trail that runs more than three miles along the shore between our place and Canal Park, lined with coffee shops, restaurants, the iconic lift bridge, and ends at a beautiful playground. We plan to walk, bike, and run the trail regularly, something we already love doing. Now it will be right out our front door.

There’s one more thing. We learned after our first walk-through of the condo that the owners have another one-bedroom unit right next to ours. They aren’t ready to sell it at this point, but when they are, we’ve expressed that we would be interested in purchasing it. Can you guess why? Someday, a ways down the road, we want to have the option of providing Sam with his own apartment, if that is what he wants. He could live right next to us, yet have his own place. That makes our hearts very happy. Honestly, I get a bit teary whenever I think about the possibility. Of course, we don’t know just what it is that God has planned for Sam, but we love having the option!

So, we’re moving! We had no idea this was a part of the plan at the beginning of the summer. We couldn’t be more excited about all that is to come. We’ll move next weekend, and then the estate company will come in to prepare for the sale. At the moment, the sale is set for September 19-20, which I’ll confirm on a future post. We’ve been doing projects inside and outside our house to prepare it for market, so we hope to list it very shortly after the sale.

We’re exciting to share pictures of the new place once we make the move! We continue to be amazed and incredibly grateful of the  path God has set before our family!




Photo Friday


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Ice Cream, Coloring & Cuddles

In two weeks – yes TWO – Miss Ella will be starting kindergarten. We’re mostly excited about that in our house. I think it’s safe to say that Ella is completely excited while I, like so many parents, am a little more hesitant. It has always felt like we have all the time in the world before this milestone, and now it’s a mere 14 days away. It’s not that we’re jumping into something brand new. Ella started Montesorri school two years ago, just after turning three. That year she went every morning from 8:30-11:30. Last year we extended her stay to include lunch. When she starts kindergarten at the Montessori school, she will be in school from 9-3 every day. Of course the most exciting part is that she will be riding the bus. I’m so glad she gets the opportunity to ride. It may be the only time she can, since it’s hard to know what school will look like on visits back from Kenya after we move.
Before school begins, we wanted to make one more trip to visit Grandma & Grandpa in Wisconsin. The kids were rock stars on the five-hour drive. Big sister told me Sam was scared after we passed a semi so she wanted to hold is hand. I just adore her protective heart.
Once we arrived, there was plenty of time for long chats and cuddles for these two.
And walks around the lake with Grandma. (Thank you, Kristin, for the photo!)
And yummy treats, because such things are inevitable at Grandma’s house.
We love when Auntie Kristin visits, too!
We all go to the park…
And get into all kinds of mischief.
And we definitely get in a healthy amount of coloring.
We had a wonderful visit! Thank you, Grandma, Grandpa, and Auntie Kristin for watching the kids so this mama could rest and for always sending us home feeling completely loved.



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