I have tried to take pictures of the park during every season. We have some in winter with snow, but none of just the naked trees. So bleak and spindly, but still somehow pretty.

Deep breath

Here is our peek at warm weather. 60 today and tomorrow, but potential for snow over the weekend. We took our lunch to the park - Joseph walked the dog, Olivia walked the wagon, and I took as many deep breaths as I could. I can't wait until one of them is old enough to pick up the poop.

Out Takes

It is amazing how many pictures you have to take to get everyone looking in the same direction with their eyes open and without a stupid look on their face. My brother and sister-in-law and my niece were supposed to be in these, but Madeleine got sick and they couldn't come. Here are my parents and my sister and her husband and their kids.

All in a week's work

These pictures didn't download in quite the order I wanted, but I think you'll get the idea. These were actually taken back in December. My parents came up for the week that Mike went to Israel and it was a big week for projects. Mom's project: the kids (and a little grouting and sanity keeping)

The black and white check tile was actually the first project Dad and I did - you see it finished here. In this picture we are painting, obviously.

Joseph was on the clean up crew.

Mom and Olivia on their painting project.

Here we are hanging the tile. It was pretty fun. I was the grouter and hanger and Dad cut. He tried to talk me into cutting, but I don't do so well with numbers and measurements...and sharp tile cutters. The first time I used a glue gun I burned my finger...I don't need to be using the more dangerous equipment.

This project was actually completed long before my parents arrived. My parents built this great kitchen set for Olivia for Christmas. Dad was the builder and Mom did the aesthetics. It weighs about 500 pounds, but it is worth its weight in gold. We love it.


Here's a quick video from lunch today. I am a poor, poor parent. Instead of putting the exhausted kid to bed, I set up the camera and gave him another piece of quesadilla. Poor, sleepy boy.

Been and Going

We've been absent in long stretches from our updates, so I thought I would bring everyone up to speed on where we've been and where we are going - as much as we know it. I think everyone is pretty well caught up on all our travelling through the holidays. I can't remember if I mentioned we went up to Chicago a few weeks ago to visit with some churches up there. If the kids stay asleep, I will post a couple of pictures from that trip. It was a rich time for a couple of reasons. First, we got to spend some time with some of Mike's family. I have always been encouraged by the generosity of Mike's family. Not necessarily monetarily, though that is certainly true and I am pretty sure any one of them would give you his shirt if you asked him. They are just generous - in how they treat you, accomodate you, talk to you, etc. It is always good to spend time with them.

Second, it was a profitable trip in that we were able to interact with a couple of church plants. It is encouraging to see the larger work the Lord is doing through small works of faithfulness to bring the gospel to the cities of our country. We are excited to be a part of one of those works (somewhere) come graduation.

That being said, we still do not know for sure where we are going after graduation. This past week we spent four long days at a church planter assessment in Georgia. Mike and I have decided it was the richest week of our marraige so far. Invaluable. I realize the thought may have crossed some of your minds over the past few years, "They sure are spending a lot of time getting educated, being assessed, getting ready...why not just get to serving the Lord." Honestly, I have felt that way myself at times. But last week I was reminded of the importance of this season. I'll explain a little:

The reason Mike and I are interested in church planting (versus going to an older, established church) is because we feel a call and have a desire to be in the city. We love the city - the history, the cultures, the opportunity, the noises, the excitement, the variety, the character (and the characters). By and large, the good news of Jesus is absent from most cities. It left when churches followed people to the suburbs. The churches that are left are dying or extrememly liberal. As most of you might be noticing if you have visited your downtowns, people are moving back into the cities but the churches are not. Who is there now? The poor people who never had the option to move out to the suburbs and the wealthy young professionals who are buying up the lofts and shortening their commute. The poor people who feel abandoned and the wealthy who feel confident and proud - both in need, but not for what they think they need. That is who we feel called to minister to.

Church planting is hard. It is hard financially because you pretty much have to raise your own salary plus functioning money for a church that won't be able to fully support itself for maybe three years - sometimes more depending on the cost of living in the particular city and how fast the church grows. It is hard on your family because it takes A LOT of work to start, nurture, and grow a church. It is potentially discouraging at times. As a planter family you are it...maybe for a good while before things start moving. There have been a good number of family casualties from crash and burn plants...which is exactly why we went to the church planter assessment last week. It is the equivilant of seeking godly counsel. It is a strengths and needs assessment. It is an assessment of what you feel like your call to ministry is and whether or not you have the gifts to do it. It is people who only have your best interest and the interest of the Gospel in mind as they tell you the hard things you need to hear and encourage you in the Lord's call. Like I said, invaluable.

So, we have about two and a half months left of school - party at our house on May 15th!. We have a house to get on the market and sell. We have some big decisions to make about what comes next. Please pray for us if you are so inclined. We will keep you posted.

Buns in the oven

Recently we had a diaper shower for the Pollacks - the twins are set to be here two weeks from tomorrow provided there is no early labor. Two bakers: Sage bakes the cake and Karen bakes the babies!
All Sage's friends once she starts cutting the cake.

Likeness? A little scarey how much.

Anybody heard of the Herdmans?

A lesson on emotions

Any good therapist parent teaches their kid about emotions, right? We did some expressions and took pictures. Can you guess which emotions she is trying to portray?

Of course, she begged to take some of me as well. I am not excited that you can see up my nose, but she will want to see these up here too. Please, just don't blow these pictures up. You know, this blog would be a big fat false representation of reality if I only posted the attractive pictures, right?
Yes, I am wearing a scarf indoors. We are cheap and keep our house cold.

In the meantime...

This is what you do while you are waiting for eagles to fly over...look for dropped chocolate chips. I may be stingy with the junk food around here, but chocolate is one thing we eat plenty of and will drop everything to find. Look cute.
Make peace! This is Pere Marquette and his peace pipe. I remember the odd animal facts better than the history...sorry, Mike. He can add an adendum to this post and remind me of who Pere (which means father - I do remember my French) Marquette was. He settled part of this area I think.
Roll around in the sunshine.

I Spy

I don't know that they were ever actually looking through the right end of the binoculars, but that didn't seem to bother them.
The largest one of these ever found was 9 feet deep and 20 feet wide...but the eaglets weren't nearly as cute as this one.

They're Back!

At least they were a few weeks ago - the beagles! We got to see them a lot closer this year, so Olivia now knows they aren't small brown and white dogs. If you have never driven up to Alton (and surroundings) in the winter to see the migrating eagles, you need to. It never gets old. I get excited every time I see one - even if it is 70 yards away as a spot on a piece of ice in the river. I don't think they are from here.

None of 'em.
So, here are some interesting facts to distract you from the pictures that only family wants to see. Did you know that the eagle's entire foot is called a talon? The talon is made up of the yellow fingers and the stilettos, or claws that can be up to two inches long!

For your educational pleasure

An essay Anthony Bradley posted at the Acton Institue - for those of you interested in being good stewards, confused why only the "liberals" are vocal about it, and moderately annoyed when you are teased for being trendy when you try to "be green." The article isn't really about all those things - just educational about the topic in general.