Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Comfort of a Baby

In times of distress, although a baby complicates things, she sure is great for comfort. You can kiss her and hug her and she can't tell you to stop. And now that we're refugees with not many clothes, we get to dress her up in mama's baby clothes.

And now I can prove that she really is my daughter too. (Amber at 10 months in the very same dress.)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Cook With Compassion: Tres Leches Cake

I made this tasty cake from Nicaragua for Compassion a couple weeks ago. I know, I know. Sufferin' for Jesus.

Read more here!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

June 26th

I will never forget June 26th. It was the day 1 year ago that I got appendicitis while 6 months pregnant in a foreign country. It was the scariest day of my life. Then yesterday on June 26th, 2012, I had the second scariest day of my life.

We'd been watching the smoke and the news for days, waiting to find out if our neighborhood would be evacuated due to the Waldo Canyon Fire that erupted west of town. On Tuesday afternoon, I started feeling really antsy and just wanted to get out. We started packing and arranged a place to stay. Then a friend called me and asked if I'd seen the fire. I stepped out of my front door and, instead of just the huge black cloud that had been hovering over our home all day, I saw fire creeping down the mountain - our mountain - down toward our house.

I did what any good woman would do and panicked. We got out of the house within 10 minutes to safety and missed the traffic jam that trapped many later while trying to get away from the fire. Here's what we saw a block from our home as we drove away.

As we got farther and farther away from our home, you could see an orange line climbing down the mountain about a mile long. It looked apocalyptic. We got out and are staying with my parents in Denver.

It was chilling to watch national news coverage and see this:

Which just so happens to be the neighborhood directly south of my own; the church at the bottom right is 1 mile from our house.

Then we saw this:

And realized this is the fire slowly creeping down to our neighborhood, which is in the bottom middle of this photograph. 

As far as we can tell, our neighborhood didn't burn, but we won't know for several days. This is the map of the fire perimeter as of Tuesday night. Red is where fire burned. The yellow dot is where our home is (on the righthand middle side).

So we don't know what happened today, but are hoping our neighborhood is staying out of the flames. Now I go between wanting to obsessively watch the news and wanting to be completely ignorant of what is happening. For instance, I just saw someone post that Mt. Blodgett looks like a volcano, which breaks my heart. Each morning, it's the first thing I look at. Whatever happens, nothing will ever be the same. Instead of looking out upon grand forests, we will see black and bare hillsides.

Perhaps the wildflowers will be divine, but for now, I am in mourning.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Our View Today

I was chatting to my sister on the phone today, saying that there really didn't seem to be much going on with the fire today when I peeked out of the window for the first time in an hour or so. I noticed the light seemed orange, and within 15 minutes, it looked like this.

The good news is that this is the fire blowing northwest - away from the heavily populated areas. But it's still a wee bit creepy to look out your kitchen window to this view!

And to end on an up note, baby is doing swimmingly with her standing lessons.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Waldo Canyon Fire

This weekend has been full of action, namely the fire that has started not far from our home. We went to a birthday party shortly after the fire started, and by the time we left, it looked like this:

By the time we got home it looked like this:

It was eery driving home, as all other cars were driving in the opposite direction. The light was yellow and orange. Our neighborhood was under "voluntary evacuation," and although several of our neighbors decided to pack up and leave, we decided to stay. Here's what the fire looked like at night - 3 miles from our house!

But in the morning, the fire started moving south, and the voluntary evacuation was lifted from our neighborhood.

We went to a church picnic today and ate burgers and hot dogs with a view of the fire to the west. I took a walk this afternoon at Blodgett Peak and this is what I saw:

Allie was just not concerned at all about it all, though.

Now we're just sitting at home hearing the planes responding to the fire go over every few minutes. We're all packed if we have to go, but at this point it's looking like we're going to be OK.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Mental Hospital Escapee

Yesterday Alexandra had her 9 month doctor appointment. The doctor told us she was the most sublimely perfect baby that has ever been born on the planet and requested a DNA sample for the government's secret "Uber-Madschen" program.

But our uber-madschen was a bit behind in her gross motor skills, so now we're having fun helping her learn to stand.

I can't help but think my baby seems a bit like a mental hospital escapee: The hospital gown-esque dress with stains down the front. The crazy person hair. And, of course, the conspiratorial laugh. But she is the funnest little mental patient I ever did see.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My Baby Laughs Like a Pirate

Watching herself only reinforces her pirate essence.

We could have taken a video of her watching her video of her watching her video, but we didn't want your brains to explode. Let's just say, it was quite loud in the house.

Kiddy Pool Time!

One of the perks of kids is having excuses to do things like having a kiddy pool in summer. We broke one out yesterday with Alexandra and she loved it!

Monday, June 18, 2012

9 Months and Counting

This photo's a little blurry, but she moves so fast, I don't know how to get one without blur.

Mike and I were feeling sentimental for Father's Day and looked back at old photos of Alexandra. We can't believe how much she has grown in 9 months. As a comparison, here is what Allie looked like in a crock pot at one week. (We were thinking of cooking her for dinner.) 

And here is what she looks like now.

She's gotten enough meat on those bones, that we might just have her for dinner tonight.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Hey, remember how I'm going to walk 15 miles to raise money for highly vulnerable children? Well, it has been postponed until August. My co-walkers are these super smart types who are getting masters in international development or something intelligent sounding like that. They have lots of classwork, so we are going to delay our walk until the end of the summer, probably August 25th, so they'll be a little less busy at school. The upside is that this means one more fine lady will be joining us, Lilian from Kenya who is in charge of child protection for Compassion. How appropriate!

Thank you to my loyal fans who donated to my cause already. As a thank you, I got you your favorite thing: Videos of your favorite girl. Enjoy!

P.S. The second one is a long video. Don't worry, nothing interesting happens at the end. If you're not a grandparent or an aunt or uncle, you may not find it very interesting. :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Bathroom Years in the Making

Our master bathroom redo technically started in November 2010 with redoing the French doors that lead into the bathroom. It started in earnest in August 2011, when we ripped out the floors and toilet. And now, one and a half years later, I finally have a functioning, completed bathroom. Hurrah!

It wasn't so bad to start with, just not really "us." (Note the preggo belly in photo to show time progression.)

Mike-o has been hard at work, including; painting the bathroom, ripping out the old mirror and putting up a new one, replacing the lighting, adding trim to the cabinets, refinishing the cabinets, replacing and tiling the countertop, installing heated floors, tiling the floor, installing wainscotting in the toilet room, and installing new trim and baseboards. Whew! Can you believe he did all that (all while being a new dad and running a small business and being a fantabulous husband)?

I wish I were a better photographer to show you the glories of his handiwork, but here it is. You open the French doors...

And voila!

Here's the floor up close.  In case you don't know, that's a really hard pattern to tile. (And first, he had to create the pattern all by hisself.)

Not bad for a saxophone playin', Socrates readin', WoW playin' drama nerd, mais non? We still haven't tried the heated floors, now that it's 80 degrees outside but I eagerly anticipate those chilly October mornings when I can turn it on.

And now, the toilet room. Mike went whole-hog on the floor and did a diamond pattern in here too. And then as if that weren't enough, when I was in Canada, he decided to surprise me with wainscotting on the walls.

I still have to figure out how to decorate the walls, but the wainscotting really brightened up a boring room and made it look a lot bigger. 

Then here is the schmancy light fixture Mike-ola picked up on Craigslist for $30. Score!

We even got a Hawaiian model to model our Hawaiian decor. (Both Hawaiian shirt on baby and Hawaiian decor items courtesy of our friend Marla in Hawaii.)

And in case you forgot what the incredible tile work Mike did on the countertops looked like (or what our baby looked like), here's one more pic of it.

We have some finishing touches to do - artwork for the walls perhaps? Maybe a splash of color here or there? But now I feel like the biggest spoiled Hawaiian princess on the planet! Thank you, Michael Jonathan Van Schooneveld! I love you, and so does she:

Monday, June 11, 2012

Let's Play Ball!

Alexandra learned the fine art of tossing a ball back and forth with her dad.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


P.S. Allie took a walk in the woods with her friend Hadassah today. It was also pretty cute.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled

When I got back from Canada, Alexandra looked two years older than when I left. Or at least two weeks older. In the five days I was gone, she got so much stronger. She can now hold herself up on her legs! She stood by herself, holding onto the bed earlier today, and now likes to stand on her legs whenever she can.

This is her after landing a Triple Front Roundhouse. Perfect 10! As always, she's pretty pleased with herself.

Being gone from her was so hard for the first day, primarily because I knew she wouldn't take her bottle. I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach for the first day and a half I was gone. Then I read these words and I felt so much better. Alexandra gave in to the bottle after a couple of hours and was fine the rest of the time I was gone, if a little more needy than usual. Now I'm home and she's back to nursing just fine, and it's as if I was never gone. What a reminder of what a waste worrying is. I spent so much energy worrying about leaving my baby. Now that everything was fine, I know it was a waste, but even had it gone poorly, it still wouldn't have helped a bit. I still have a lot to learn in making these words stick in my heart:

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you...Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Trip to Niagara Falls

Have you been wondering, "Where's Amber? How can I go on living in the doldrums of life without a video of Allie laughing?" The answer to question one is: Canada. The answer to number two is: Bacon.

I've been in the lovely Niagara region of Ontario attending a conference with my team. It was the first time in a year I'd seen most of them after the Canada-Appendix-Debacle of 2011. It was so nice to have the camaraderie of a team for a few days, something you miss while laying on the couch eating bon-bons and watching Days of Our Lives...I mean, "working from home." 

At the end of the trip, we had a chance to go to Niagara-on-the-Lake and Niagara Falls, and I finally got to be a tourist in Canada. Niagara-on-the-Lake is a pretty little town rebuilt after the Americans razed it in the War of 1812, damn them! It was funny to see forts and memorial plaques and murals of Canadian redcoats and think, "Hmm, they're shooting at Americans," but I digress.

On Tuesday night we went to a restaurant in N-o-t-L called "Grill on King." The front was lined with flower-boxes spilling over in blazing color and the thought I had over and over while seeing their flower-lined streets and canopies of green was, "Oh yeah, they have water here. How novel." At Grill on King, I had a scrumptious lamb shank and we enjoyed a sunny late afternoon on the patio. (I didn't have a camera, so my photos are limited to iPhone shots my coworkers have sent me. Hopefully I'll get some more Niagara Falls shots to post.) 

The next morning, we had breakfast at The Little Red Rooster, then headed to one of the many wineries in the region, Konzelmann's. The building was gorgeous.

On the winery tour, we got to see Mr. Konzelmann himself, an 80-year-old man who nearly ran over my toe driving a forklift through our tour group. They offered the non-wine drinkers some of their personal grape juice which was delicious! Why do people let such happy grapes rot into nasty wine when they're so delectable as juice?

After the tour, we strolled about Niagara-on-the-Lake and I kept thinking that I should convince my mom to visit. Such pretty old architecture and fun shops and approximately 72 ice cream shops in two blocks. We had lunch at the Angel Inn, a haunted pub built after those damn Americans burned the town, circa 1814. It was low and dank and the perfect spot to eat fish and chips and Yorkshire pudding. 

And then it was on to Niagara Falls! I love natural beauty but have a distaste for man-made things, so it was hard to fully soak in the wonder of the falls, so surrounded by high rises and tourists. But it was magnificent all the same. We took the Maid of the Mist, a boat that takes you to the base of the falls. 

We strapped on our blue ponchos as it is wet. As we drew nearer to the falls, it got wetter and wetter and windier and windier until our blue ponchos flapped like mad seagulls and the angry mist blinded us and Sara (right) shouted, "WHAT IS THIS? THIS ISN'T EVEN FUN!" But it was amazing to feel the falls' power and size up close, even if we were wet and blind.

After the falls, they took me up Clifton Hill, a circus of over-the-top, gaudy shops for tourists, a street, as they said, "to make Americans feel at home." Then we ate dinner where Canadians go when they aren't sure where to eat, Kelsey's, and enjoyed one last evening out on the sunny patio.

Now I'm just waiting to fly home. I've already pictured the reunion with my daughter at the airport: I run and embrace her and she squeals with delight and snuggles into my neck, finally at home. More likely, I'll run to her and cry like a nincompoop, and she'll give me that "What's your problem?" look and elbow me in the neck while trying to climb out of my arms and pull out my hair. But I'll take it. See you soon!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Mr. Giraffe Tries to Eat Alexandra

Alexandra is continuing her meaningful relationship with Mr. Giraffe.


It's Almost Here!

Guess what...I'm going to be walking 15 miles to raise help for children in Thailand really soon!

On June 30th, me and two of my friends are going to walk from Palmer Lake, Colorado, to Ice Lake on the Air Force Academy - that's more than a half marathon!

View Larger Map

I'm walking with two friends from Compassion, Heidi of Courage Classic Fame and Jen of Pikes Peak fame.

We're raising funds for HVC - the fund that supports Highly Vulnerable Children. I'm hard-pressed to pick what my favorite thing Compassion does is, but this is definitely one of my top two.

Check out my nifty Team Page to learn more about it!

And if you like, give to help Thai children in need of some help (read my page to learn more). You'll not only get to watch the thermometer rise, you can also see your name scroll in the honor roll with mine. Doesn't it look lonely there? :)