Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Our First (and Last...For a While) RI Road Trip

     About two weeks before I left for Alaska, my family and I took a pre-planned trip to Delaware to take a road trip with my family up to Rhode Island to see family I haven't seen in years. Several things became apparent on that trip:
     1. My family is not as immune to "family drama" like I thought  it was
     2. It seems that only a certain combination of personalities = drama
     3. Some people are more easily manipulated than others
     4. I can't roll my eyes
     5. I can't cross my eyes.
     6. The NYC skyline looks magical bathed in a sunrise.
     7. There is a magical drink called "coffee milk" only native to RI.
        We were able to spend time with my dad's brother and his family. The kids loved their large dog and backyard with grass! (Although Amber seemed to have a problem staying vertical in the backyard) I also experienced a horizontal moment when I was "going for the win" in a badminton game & jumped up on a bench that wasn't a bench to swat the high-flying birdie. Despite my Uncle's mental note to tell us vanVeens about the notta-bench, he (a vanVeen himself) forgot. A sprained wrist and numb rear were my trophies (and yes, I missed the birdie).
           We took a trip to the shore, visited a mall that was notta-mall (it had closed 8 years ago and no one told us!, set my Uncle's street on fire, and visited the famous Newport. We saw an awesome lighthouse, a windmill and Jersey cows. We saw fireworks on the beach, my red-white-blue wig was passed around, fixed an "owie" with jut a cotton ball & tape, saw a stone wall & sucked up family time.  Some family drama unfolded, and let's just say that a vanVeen family roadtrip back to RI is out of the question for a while. (I guess we're reality-tv worthy now!) Here's a photo dump from our epic trip:

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Alaska Story, Part I

       Now we start our story. Our Journey. Christina, me, and two of our kiddos (we have 7 together. Yes, that means we left 5 with the Hubbies. Oops.) have been in Anchorage for almost a week now. One crazy, ran-together week. We started our journey by sleeping in the airport (on the cold, hard, floor. Apparently they haven't heard of carpeting airports here) because our flight arrived around 2am.
        This also led to Boo having a pottying accident (okay. he peed. there, ya happy? I said it!) on the floor next to the empty luggage carousels. When the world woke up, we dropped luggage at our hotel (we booked it for 3 days) then went walking (because they were sold out of rental cars & we hadn't learned the bus system yet) around town, applying for apartments & such. Christina already had an interview set up for the afternoon & 2 more the next day.
        We were "gettin' things done". Then Friday Boo got sick and puked while we were in a mall. Oops. After our stay in the "fancy hotel" we moved into a "European-style" hotel (I'd mention their name...but they wouldn't discount us for a review, so they shall remain nameless! {which works to their advantage in case anything negative slips}). This place offers hotel rooms with beds, a fridge, tv & storage space for clothes & whatnot, but the bathroom & showers are outside the rooms...and shared by other residents...and there's a shared kitchen for usage too which means we don't have to live off "microwave food".
         This week I should be able to meet a BlondieChell fan who lives here in Anchorage! (How cools is that!!! We already "know" someone!) She's offered to give us a tour. We've yet to see the shore, but we've seen plenty of sunlight! (this place doesn't have the room-darkening curtains like our "fancy motel" did) To clear up confusion, where we are in Alaska (Anchorage), the longest the sun is out is from 4am to 11pm. We've past the longest sunlight day of the year, so now the light is slowly dwindling, till the longest "darkest day" which will be in December, I think, but we'll still see about 4 hours of sunlight during those days. Bears don't frequent the city limits here, and there's no snow here right now. We're not freezing to death. And...unless something drastically crazy happens, we won't during the winter-time either. We are 4 hours behind East Coast time (write it down, You-Know-Who-You-Are) which means 2 hours behind CO time. It's definitely different when you're trying to call family & friends. (Whaddaya mean it's night-time over there?? The sun's still out!!!)
           So for now, I'm here. And this is my story...

Monday, July 15, 2013

Alaska Crazy Train Part IV (AKA The Rant)

      This is a semi-rant post. Why?? Because people aren't perfect, and they get on your nerves. People are different and believe different things and have different ideas. Try uprooting your family in less than a month and tell people you're moving far, far away, then you'll see what I'm talking about.
       One thing that bothers me about this Alaska Saga is people's skepticism. Like, really folks, God does call people to Alaska. He created it, and obviously people live there and He hasn't set the place on fire yet to chase people out, so yes, it is OKAY to live there. And survive. I am pretty sure we won't freeze to death there unless we go for a hike or something and don't make it home.
       In Christian culture, it's perfectly acceptable for folks to designate themselves as missionaries and announce that they are going to some random, foreign country, and that's okay. It's not questioned. "Oh, you're going to be a missionary in Who's-what-is-stan?? Sounds great! We'll pray for you!" but tell people that you're going to serve God in another U.S. State, and it's met with "What?!? Why would you move so far away??" "Well, God called us there." "Are you sure?? I mean, what could you possible do in Alaska??"
       Look folks, Alaska is not the end of the world (I know people who actually live in the arctic circle. I believe that is considered the "end of the world". And guess what?? They LIVE there. They survive and don't die each year. They have families.) Yes, parts of it get super-dark during the winter, but guess what?? People still live there! And survive. And it's  not terrible.
       We're going to Alaska to do what we do best. Help people. Our two families are a team. Team Forrosen. We balance each other out while keeping things in perspective. Sometimes I feel like we are part of Captain Planet ("By your powers combined..I am Captain Planet!). Yes, I know he's not real, but it's the sense of connection we have.....Well, I have a plane to catch today, so I must end this post now.
      So, we're going. Following God's call. And if we get eaten by bears, so be it.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Alaska Crazy Train Part III

        This is the 3rd segment in the fantastical series "The Alaska Crazy Train". You can find Part I here & Part II here.
          Soon after God told us to go to Alaska, we started asking "when??" Now, hubs had already felt that we'd be moving out of Poncha Springs by the end of summer, but none of us thought that we'd be travelling so far away. Or in such a short period of time. Yes, it would make more sense to stay for a little while more and save up some $$, but truth is, we've never had much $$ and somehow, God always provides. He hasn't left us yet, so we have no reason to not trust His plans for us.
       My friend and I are flying to Anchorage July 15th, each with one of our kids (she has 4, I have 3). The hubbies and rest of the crew will drive up the Alcan (super-crazy road through Canada to Alaska. It was built during WWII) in August.
       We are selling most of our belongings (furniture & whatnot) so we can share a U-Haul and travel with as little cost as possible (which is still a big cost).
       Scared? No. Nervous? A bit. We don't know what to expect there (except that Alaska's been having a super-warm summer & it's buggy right now. Ew. I do not do well with bugs). Well, we're better prepared than most of our friends who think we'll be experiencing 6 months of total darkness. Where we'll be, during the winter we'll see about 4-5 hours of sunlight during the day, and like most of the "lower 48", the daylight extends and then shrinks due to the rotation of the earth. Sure, right now parts of Alaska are experiencing days with 20 hours of sunlight, but the longest "day" of the year has past and the light will be slowly dwindling.
        Also, where we're headed, there will be an actual summer time-we will not be seeing snow on the roads 24/7. What's interesting about this move is that my friend has lived in Alaska twice. Not in Anchorage, but close to it. Right now, we're headed for Anchorage. Where we stay and how long will depend on where God wants us to go.
         Job prospects? Not yet. (I know, I know, we sound super-insane. We do. But this is what happens when you listen to God.) If you read in the Old Testament, God seemed to always be telling His people "Go here. Go there. Sure, you've never been there before, but I want you to go." And he always took care of them, just like He will always take care of us.
    Will there be a part IV to this saga?? Yes. Soon....

Monday, July 8, 2013

Alaska Crazy Train Part II

     This is Part II in the saga entitled the "Alaska Crazy Train" (Part I can be found here). Why? Because God has called us and our friends to Alaska. Why?? I've learned to not question God too much, and I don't believe we have a solid answer to that question yet, but He's calling us, so we're going.
     Part I of this story touches base on how we became intertwined with these friends. What's not covered is our faith in God. For those of you familiar with Christian terms and churches and denominations, you'll appreciate when I say that we did not attend the same church as our friends. In fact, we were on completely opposite ends of the denomination spectrum. We have different beliefs and understandings of certain scripture passages and theology, and yet, here we are, trusting the same God and going to the same place.
      God's shown us a lot these past few years and like the Bible says, "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind" (Romans 14:5). We judge not, because we don't want to be judge. We love because He loves us (that being said, love covers a multitude of sins). We have been through a lot with these friends of ours. They are our family here. They are as attached to our kids as we are to theirs.
       And yet, we did face the fact that God may separate us. (This made me question why God would have brought us so close together, just to rip us apart, but I had to accept that God works everything out for His own purpose).
      "How??" you may ask? Because God speaks to us in different ways. (I had someone ask me if God just "called you up on the telephone and said "Go to Alaska". I responded, "Well, it's kind of like that") For me, it's a deep feeling. A sense of "this is right. This is what's to be done". It's taken some time (and sometimes I still get it wrong) to distinguish that feeling from my own selfishness. Sometimes Bible verses pop out at me. For hubby, I think sometimes he hears a voice in his head (yes, just one. not many. that's me ;) . I can't speak for anyone else, but I've learned that if someone says "God told me -------" to believe them.
         And so it was, God spoke to our friends first. This allowed me to face that fact that we may be torn apart. Separated from our family. I believe this part was necessary, so that I could focus on what God was calling us to do, not what I wanted to do. Of course, I'd follow our friends in a heartbeat, but of course, I wanted to follow God's plan too (bad things happen when we don't do what God says). I had to come to accept that fact that separation was a possible future. Life without our friends would take some adjusting, some tears, some "why??"s. But I had to remember that I wanted God's plan, and He always worked everything out for us and hasn't forsaken us yet.
          After that wave of disappointment, sorrow and tears, I was super-excited when God told us that we were going to Alaska too.
     Stay tuned for Part III of the Alaska Crazy Train!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Alaska Crazy Train Part I

   God's given us tickets for the crazy train. (Not that it should surprise us-I'm a life-time member!) About two weeks ago, he told us and our friends that He wanted us to go to Alaska. Move there. Before summer was over.
    Now, I want you to understand the scope of the situation. Really appreciate what God has been doing in our lives since He called us to CO seven years ago (really?? Has it only been seven years??). Hubby and I came out to CO from DE on our honeymoon to discover where in Colorado God wanted us. We found it, and made plans to come back in June so that we could find a place to live, get a job and all that "fun" stuff. We planned to move out here in September.
    Meanwhile, down in the sunny, beachy state of FL, God was working on the hearts of our friends-calling them out here as well. They come out in July, got an apartment, jobs, land, and hurried back to FL to move their kids and belongings.
     Around October, I received a note on my door, stating that our landlord had told our next door neighbor that we were expecting a little boy and she was selling some baby boy items if we were interested. We sure were! Later, after the arrival of Screamy #1, she brought over her 9 month-old daughter for a visit. A few months later, we were invited to this same little girl's first birthday.
     We were the only ones who showed up. Since we really had no friends our age in the church we attended, (and new baby = no social life) we found ourselves spending time with our neighbors. A few months later, though, we found an apartment in Poncha Springs which is a small town right next to Salida, which is where we knew we were going to start a church.
     The day we were packing up to move, our neighbors helped me finish loading items into a truck and informed me that they were headed down to Poncha Springs to check out a house for rent in the same vicinity. A few days later, we found ourselves helping them move into their new place...on the street right behind our new apartment complex. (Turns out, we have the same landlord!)
     Life continued to move on, with God continuing to intertwine our lives to the point where it felt like we would grow old as friends here in this beautiful state of Colorado....
    Stay tuned for the Alaska Crazy Train Part II

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Tattler "Thursday" Blog Hop 7-4

     Thanks for joining me for this week's Tattler Thursday blog hop! This week's tale involves a bit of pain...in the butt.....
     Here I am, tattling on Malachi again. Why?? Because he's two and does alot of stuff that it tattle-worthy. Like what happened the other day...
     I was in the kitchen minding my own business (more like "cooking dinner") when I heard this not-so-ferocious growling. Out of the corner of the eye, I saw the little one sneaking up. (Okay, so "sneaking" is not the right word....it was more like "walking while tripping") I continued about my business (interactive-mother-of-the-year right here!) and the next thing I know, it hurt!

     Yes, it completely reminded me of this scene in Madagascar! He bit my butt! And I yelled, "You bit my butt!" The poor kid immediately looked remorseful with his big blue eyes (an act he's been working on for months!) and said "I sowwy". Then he hugged me around my leg. How could I not forgive the little kid?? So, though I may have a scar on my rump like Marty does, at least I'll have the memory of my little boy with me for a while (and know how tall he was when he was two).    So.....It's your turn!!! Link up & share your epic tattler story!!!
Hiya Snappers! Welcome back for week #8 of the Tattler Thursday Blog Hop! We're hopping early this week because this Thursday is July 4th! Happy Independence Day everybody!

It's time to tattle and hop! It's a share your crazy, gross, hilarious, in-the-trenches parenthood stories, kind of blog hop! I love funny kid stories and I want to hear yours! Just leave a comment with your story, post not required! So think of your funniest, wackiest or favorite kid stories, leave a comment  with your story/tattle, follow your Host and Co-Hostesses, visit and discover other blogs, and have fun!

Remember the easiest way to get a follow back is to like/follow other pages and leave a comment! So hop around, tell your friends and share, share, share! This is a hop designed for you to have fun and share! Happy Tattling!


 Please, Please, Please follow your host and co-hostesses! We do this for free, and fun, so don't be a bloghole and not follow! Also looking for future Co-Hosts(no cost associated and it's super easy just ask! Also a great way to gain new followers and make new bloggie friends)! Send me an email @ gingerssnaps32@gmail.com if your interested! Thanks guys and dolls! Muah! Wink!

The Wild and Wonderful World of Gingerssnaps

                                                     about the Blog Hop HERE!

                                                                 The Rules are:

                                          1- Follow Your Host and Co-Hostesses
                                          2- Grab the button and display it on your blog or hop page/section
                                          3- Leave a comment with a funny, wacky, or gross kid story/tattle
                             Be Sure to Hop over to other blogs and visit/network and share the Hop
                                         Have fun Hopping! (and come back next week!)
                                The Wild and Wonderful World of Gingerssnaps                                

            Thanks to this weeks co-hostesses,  Miss Cristyl, Miss Joy, Miss Michelle, and Miss Cathy ! Be sure to  hop by their pages and give them some lovin'! Love these little gals!


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Monday, July 1, 2013

Adventures With Salida's Coupon Queens

   Last week I embarked on an adventure with our local couponing FB group: Dumpster Diving! Well, really it was "recycle bin diving". We met at our local recycling area which hosts recycling bins (large dumpsters and some caged trailers) for different items, including newspaper.
   I showed up promptly at 6pm, waiting... hoping I wasn't the only crazy one in our little group.. praying that I hadn't been stood up... and watching for recyclers on cell phones to lip read if they're reporting me for being a "suspicious person parked across from the recycling bins... just staring...."
   Paranoia is one of my strong suits and my over-active imagination likes to take charge at the most inopportune moments. I saw a police car drive slowly by (okay, granted there's a stop sign near the parking lot, but still...). Finally, my crew showed. There were only a handful of us (which meant more coupons for us! Mwahahahaha!) and we got to work right away.
    Apparently I was the only one brave (and crazy) enough to actually climb into the recycling dumpster. (What? It's clean... it's only used for newspapers...and telephone books...and apparently personal mail....). We sorted, we sifted, newspapers were flying left and right! All for those precious coupons that help us save $$ on items we already buy.

      For those of you who have never had the pleasure to experience the interior of a newspaper recycling dumpster, let me describe it for you. It's kind of like being encased in a pile of newspaper inside a large metal bin. The openings are your only way out and source of light. They get closed, and it's time to panic. I think newspapers are kind of like sand-the more you move around, the more you get buried in it. The more buried you are, the warmer it is, and then your imagination take flight, feeling itches and scratches and imaginary (or invisible) bugs. This is when panic sets in.
      Now if you are considering climbing into a newspaper recycling in to leaf through the papers for the oh-so-precious coupons, here's a couple of tips: First of all, make sure that you have enough space/access to enter the container (this is crucial-no one wants to be half-stuck in a bin; the EMTs would have a hey-day). Be wary that newspaper, though sturdy, can also shift and be compressed by heavier weights (like a human). Also, have an escape plan. You don't want to just jump in and not have a plan to extricate yourself.  Check yourself for bugs (because really-you just never know). Also, you may want to wear dark clothes and go at dusk (then bring a flashlight) because we weren't too clear on whether or not this venture was actually legal.
      We were there for almost an hour, scooping up unused, uncut coupons that some folks didn't even glance at. Our efforts gleaned us a small pile of coupons (and magazines too!) that we immediate dove into, looking for specific ones for our next stop- Wal*Mart. What's wonderful about Wal*Mart (we only have Wal*Mart & a Safeway) is the comp-shopping. This program is where Wal*Mart will match any competitors price, so if you find a lower price for an item elsewhere (you have to be honest about it; sometimes the cashiers will ask you for the ad), you tell the cashier and they will give you that item for that lower price. That, combined with coupons, really helps us save $$ when it comes to shopping at Wal*Mart. Safeway's J4U program, combined with coupons is another (but less frequent) way for us to save $$ on groceries & household items.