The 9th Move: Empty Houses, “Bees”, and Good-byes


Sweet Home Alabama

I know you are probably expecting an update on the cross-country move. Well, all I can tell you is that:

my pretty new kitchen

my pretty new kitchen

1.) We are still negotiating repairs on our new house, which may end up delaying our move-in date. So so sad!! I’m choosing to hope for the best. Moving in July 1st or bust!!!

2.) JD and Dan are having trouble adjusting to the “bees”, and by bees, they mean GNATS.


He’s happy for a few moments, until the gnats start in on his sweaty face again.

and 3.) The big boys spent their last day in California playing with neighborhood friends and skateboarding while the movers are loading our truck. Caleb even got to go on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Monterey Aquarium with one of his best buds. (Thank you, Joy!!!)


Caleb and our sweet friends


Each time I looked down this street of mostly empty houses, the homes of my friends who all moved out a week before I did, I would feel that sad longing to live a regular life, where people only move occasionally, where you grow old with the same group of people.

Wouldn’t it be nice to say good-bye less often?

But that’s not our life. In our world, you don’t watch your kids grow up together. You spend a few years with each new friend, and then it’s on to the next town. And who knows what awaits us all there? We have only to trust God with our future because most of it is out of our control anyway.

Move-out week was hectic, but it ends suddenly, and before you know it, you are on new ground.

As I entered the health clinic of our new duty station, I found my way to the Tricare office. And I couldn’t help but think about how time has changed us. When we started this journey of military service, we were in our early 20s. Alan had finished his training and was ready to take on his first true duty assignment.

9th move

a very young us

At each new post, you have to go enroll in Tricare and have them assign you a doctor. Way back when we began, in a Texas installation, we stumbled in with clueless bravery and happiness. We were both timid and excited. It was all such an adventure. Well, Alan was the brave hard-charger. I was the timid one, probably asking to wait in the car.

But on this Tuesday, many moons later, I no longer feel timid. I called first. Why bother walking in there if the clinic doesn’t even have a Tricare office, I figured. I went without my husband, because I no longer need him to accompany me. Each post does things slightly differently though, so I had to figure this new one out. And when you do that, you have to inevitably provide a little background. Who are you? What do you need? Where are you coming from?

As it turns out, you now enroll on the phone, so that’s what I did. That’s new. But in the meantime, I asked the girl in the insurance office about the local system for health care. How are the doctors? Where’s the family clinic? Do you outsource for cardiology and pediatric neurology? I got my questions answered, and somehow it came up that I’ve moved 9 times already.


the 9th move

9 times. And suddenly I felt a bit like Tom Hanks in Castaway. You remember when he finally returns to civilization, after being stranded on that island for so many years? And they ask him questions, and it’s just like….where do you even begin to explain?

How do I explain? And people have begun to ask me how close we are to retiring from the military. Huh. How can this be? Where did the time go?

I can’t say that I do still feel like that 22-year-old girl, standing by the bus, hugging my soldier as he shipped out to Iraq because I don’t feel at all the same. I’m not the same. Alan is not the same. We are older, wiser, loaded down with children, far less emotional, and less extreme on all accounts. We are both hardened and softened, and we are nowhere near finished.


the first time I welcomed Alan home, 12 years ago

However, I am still just as ready to meet whatever comes our way as I was fourteen years ago.

Here’s to all the adventurers, the nomads, and the wanderers. May we always be learning, always seeking, and never shy away from the call of the ocean, or the Lord, or whatever calling it is that we follow on our path.

As for me and my house, we will follow the Lord. The government only thinks they call the shots. But it was never so plain who truly directs our steps as it was the day that I sat in a doctor’s office, anxiously awaiting a doctor who had just explained to me that I needed medicine for my high blood pressure and racing heart. Stress was killing me. Right then, while the PA got my prescriptions signed off on by the doctor, I got a text from Alan.

That text said that Alan’s next job was taking us home!!!  Just when I needed that news most! I could see God’s fingerprints so clearly. We had not even asked for a respite from our wandering, and yet we’ve been given two years at home. This happened once before. I never dreamed it would happen again. That morning, I felt the essence of soaring on the wings of eagles.

…30Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, 31Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not grow tired, They will walk and not become weary.   Isaiah 40:31

9th move

Daniel’s tee-ball team, coached by Alan, taking it in for one last huddle

Today Alan, Joshua, and Caleb say their good-byes. Dan, JD, and I await them down South. Good-bye sweet California friends. Thank you for being there for us through the hardest job I’ve ever had. Thank you for loving us when we needed it so badly.



Bring on the next adventure!


Let the Summer Shenanigans Begin! (With a Sneak Peek at Our New House)

Let the Shenanigans begin

Dan and his best friend, Carter

There’s a word we hear a lot around here: “best friend.”

JD says that Daniel is his best friend. That is mostly because I drill that into all of my children’s heads from the moment they are born.

“Oh, look, he is being so sweet to you. He is your best friend.”

“Your brother will always be your best friend.”

Positive reinforcement style of brain washing is a good thing to do. Trust me.

JD often asks, “Where my best fwiend?”

And now that Daniel has been gone for over a week, poor little JD has started to look elsewhere for a new “best friend.” There aren’t many other small folk around lately. The person he sees most is me, but I’m his mom, so I don’t count. So he has found our neighbor Mr. Tom. After all, Mr. Tom always talks to him and jokes with him. He’s the natural choice.

We were headed out to dinner the other night, and JD asked, “Is Mr. Tom going to be there? He’s my other best fwiend.”

Not to worry. Mr. Tom was there. You know we are too lazy to make friends with people who do not live next door to us. Hanging out with neighbors just makes good sense. Thankfully, our neighbors happen to be awesome people.

moving shenanigans

Remember Emma?

Since Emma’s husband is out of state for military training, I got to go up and stand with Emma and Matthias for the baby dedication. Don’t you think I look a lot like Richard?? Okay, well, maybe not, but I was there for support anyway.

We got to see Emma this past weekend. That’s right. She is back from Malaysia. Her parents are traveling with her now, and they are all doing just swell. It was so fun to visit with them again!

Moving Shenanigans

This is our current Chief of Shenanigans

Sometimes, when I go to bed, I find surprises on my pillow. I don’t know why he doesn’t call me his best friend. Clearly, I am it. But he has informed me that Daddy is my best friend, and that sounds correct.

Moving Shenanigans

Daniel, at his class bike-a-thon

Moving Shenanigans

He likes to make faces for the photos.

He’s been at camp for a week, and the camp is always posting photos of the kids at camp, and they never ever never never post more than the back of Caleb’s head. Maybe this is why.

moving shenanigans

Daniel and his “favyite giryull in my cwass.”

Moving Shenanigans

Joshua’s team’s last huddle. Caleb occasionally got to play with this older league as well, as sometimes they were short players.


Joshua and his coach

Okay now this next one truly is shenanigans. There’s really no other word for it. We put the little kids in our pitiful little backyard while the adults stood around and talked outside the fence. When Alan went in to check on the kids. He found this:

Moving Shenanigans

Yes, that’s JD. Those are his shorts on his head.

Moving Shenanigans


Moving Shenanigans

Alan took Joshua and Caleb to work with him one day to tour the robotics department.

Moving Shenanigans

Aqua robots

Moving Shenanigans

My boys actually went to a graduate course with Alan and sat and listened to Alan’s classmates make their thesis presentations.

Believe it or not, Alan said they were perfect gentlemen.

Summer Shenanigans

Caleb enjoyed going to class with his dad so much, he asked to go again the next week. Joshua looked a little…..less…interested.

I know. Alan is the man. He also took ALL FOUR boys on a bike ride by the bay:

Summer Shenanigans Summer Shenanigans


And another week he took the oldest three to a minor league baseball game, the San Jose Giants.


IMG_4023 IMG_4026


Then Alan and Daniel headed down South for the funeral.

Summer Shenanigans

I think he was pretty happy to take a trip with Dad.

Summer Shenanigans

Super excited about all the ice cream

Summer Shenanigans

But eventually even Daniel hit his limit.

And now I’ve saved my favorite part for last. Here’s a little preview of the new house I’m so excited about! We are downsizing by around 300 square feet, which also means going from 5 bedrooms to 3, buuuuuuuuuuut that’s okay because everything else about this place is fabulousness! Hard floors! Big backyard! Closer to family! Big living room! Nice kitchen! And the outside is pretty too. Okay. Remember our old backyard looked like this:

Summer Shenanigans

See how tiny?

And this is our new backyard:

Summer Shenanigans

just a little peek into the backyard

Summer Shenanigans

More backyard! Covered patio! Nice slip and slide hill…Just so long as they don’t um…slide right into the house…

And the front!!!

Summer Shenanigans

Ah. So pretty. And notice the front yard crepe myrtle tree by the driveway. Love those.  OH!!  And look. Green grass.

So we have the ball rolling on buying this new house. Meanwhile, we’re cleaning up and packing out of this beloved old house. It’s just been the three of us this week, Alan, JD, and me. The other night we ate out on the wharf, and there was an otter that hung out by our window, eating and diving, and eating and diving. It was heavenly.

Alan has let JD tag along with him on his many, many errands:

Summer Shenanigans

Is that JD playing with some sort of missile??? i have no idea, really.

Summer Shenanigans

Bye-bye, big California trees! (That was a Band-aid on his chin.There was a nasty fall on some concrete steps.)

And Friday, Alan graduated. He now officially has a master’s degree in Systems Engineering. We’re proud of you, honey. Now, let the shenanigans begin. Well, as you can see, they sort of already have.

summer shenanigans

JD said, “I was sad in that picture. I wanted to go eat cake.”

12 I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; 13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.  Ecclesiastes 3:12-13



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Darling Photos of Seal Moms and Babies


Happy Mother’s Day! What better to share on this treasured day than some adorable seal mom and pup pairs from my favorite spot in the world, Point Lobos State Park.

This particular beach is not a seal hang-out for most of the year. However, when it comes time to birth babies, late winter/early spring, this tiny beach, completely surrounded by rock cliffs, becomes a true seal nursery. This is NOT a zoo. This is the real world, animal style.

ALL of these photos were taken by Aunt Janet, photographer extraordinaire.

This first mom and pup pair are the funniest. This little fella’ was rambunctious, robust, and ready to do some more swimmin’. Mama was trying to take a nap, and he kept sneaking off to the ocean.


She’s trying to rest, but off he goes…


Still going….Even for animals, some little ones are just tougher to raise than others.


Bet you’ve never seen a seal run, but this Momma did. She cut him off at the pass, barking up a storm at the little rascal.      “Nope! We are NOT going back out to the ocean. You don’t know what you’re doing. You are shark food. Now get back up on that beach, lay down, drink your milk, and take a nap. Don’t you go sneakin’ out to this water again without me, you hear. Bark bark bark bark bark!!”


Here she is, at the top of the photo, leading that baby back on shore. She had to keep holding him down with her little flipper.


This momma had a younger, smaller pup to bring in, and she just didn’t have her job figured out yet. Poor little pup was trying so hard to beach herself, but the waves kept washing her back out to sea.


Oops. There goes baby again. Mom needs to learn to get behind her.

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nursing seal baby


Every few minutes, you see another momma and baby seal coming in or going out. I could have watched all day, but I had taken a few elementary school boys with me who could only enjoy it in 5 or 10 minute increments.


If I were a seal, I’d hang out here too. Actually, I’m not a seal, and I still like hanging out here.


Look closely to see the baby seal on the momma seal’s back.

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This Mother’s Day is coming at perfect timing for me. I have felt a little down lately, mostly due to my mystery low-grade fevers. They zap my energy, and leave me feeling confused and a little hopeless.

But Mother’s Day reminds me of my most basic and happiest job. I am first and foremost a mom, and I am tickled pink to be Mom to our four precious sons. I always considered myself a “girly-girl”, so it’s ironic to me that I am now the mom with the baseball nails, trying to learn basketball lingo, and passing rules about not bringing slugs into the house. When I brush everything else aside, every other worry, every other commitment or hobby, this is the job that I most cherish: being wife and mom. I was never so happy as I am when I’m being mom.

-Wiping noses

-Trying to convince JD to poop on the potty.

-Reading These First Four Years to Joshua and Caleb

-Reading Green Eggs and Ham to Daniel and Caleb

-rocking JD in the rocking chair

-pushing them in the swings

-cooking their dinner

-buying their clothes

-hugs and kisses

-talking through their problems

-teaching them about Jesus and praying with them

-watching them play baseball

Oh, I love it all so much. What a wonderful gift to be entrusted with. I hope I can walk worthy of this calling.


And I’m thankful I don’t have to go it alone, like the seal mommas.


This guy makes being a mom more doable and more fun. I could not do this without Alan.

Mother’s Day is a reminder for me this year. It’s a reminder of how blessed I am. Healthy or not, I have a glorious life, full of purpose and every good thing. I must remember to be thankful and always share with others what I have. I am renewed with joy. What a blessing.


I better get to sleep. Alan and Caleb are making me french toast in the morning, and I’m super excited. I say Alan and Caleb, but they will probably all insist on helping.

Happy Mother’s Day, y’all!

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