Life is a journey. Here is ours captured in words and pictures.


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catching up on some photographic gem moments

002From felt fish, sneaking bites of cookie dough, highlights of AZ, and every day moments treasured, this is our life. 003 023 041 044 051 086 092 095 101 124 136 153 155 159 166 172 173 182 197 205 206 214 216 221 225 228 230 233 234 280 281 315 319 320 325

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A season of Rest & La Petite Chef

Anyone who knows me well would probably be willing to testify that I am more of a “do-er” than a “be-er.”  I don’t know if I should be proud of that, (probably not), but I’ve entered into a season of life I’ve not known for a long time………a season of rest. Pretty much I’m kind of forced into it by virtue of a sore and stiff back post car accident, but actually it is turning out to be kind of a blessing.

I found out that my back issues (according to x-rays) started long before the accident, but the stress of the body’s reaction can oftentimes catapult something unbeknownst, or minor, into something very now well-known and major.  The kids and I have pretty much set up camp at the Chiropractor’s office, where, fortunately for all of us, they are very kid-friendly. Abrielle likes to sit and color, while Sawyer has lately been following me into the exam area for “quality control.”  He doesn’t mind sitting and watching Dr. P twist, contort, measure, poke, and do all of the things that he does. Who knows, future Dr. material in our midst? Hmmm. Anyhow, in addition to adjustments, I also qualify for massage therapy (which shucky darn, is part of the healing process as well and importantly aligns with the adjustments happening)

So where am I going with all of this? I’ve just found that this season of healing and rest is surprisingly easy and challenging at the same time. I’ve had to turn down opportunities I’d normally push for, and really take time to listen to my body. Not only listen, actually, but respect it. I’ve surprised myself lately, that I am capable of putting my body first and choosing to prioritize the healing process over most other things.  This is not my norm. But, when I really think about it, this is the only earthly body I’ve got; I want to take care of it.

Dealing with the challenges of a not-so-willing-back are well, just that, challenging.  Especially hard on the kids I think. Sawyer is having to walk more instead of being carried, which he often tries to flash a picket sign at, and Abrielle asked me the other day when my back is going to get better and they can be picked up and carried again. My babies.  Of course I want to pick them up, swing them around, and I do, on occasion, but minimally and totally not like before.  I imagine myself in a field of wildflowers, dancing, swinging my kids around until I’m dizzy and they fall down laughing hysterically.

On the driving end of things, I’d say that being in the car is still nerve-wracking. I still have a fear of being hit by someone. Today during an attempt at kickboxing (low-impact version, self-prescribed), I had a terrifying vision of being hit broadside and my entire left side being crushed. I wasn’t even in the car. It totally made me shudder. Yesterday I took the kids to the museum of flight and totally dreaded the long drive….there were a few points where I felt anxiety heighten and panic coming on-I just tried to breathe, pray, turn on the hazards, slow down, and stay calm. We got there and back okay, but I’m certainly not eager to drive many distances these days. I pause long and hard and look all around me at intersections, almost expecting someone to come plowing through.

Totally off the topic (thankfully, because it goes get old talking about this sometimes), Abrielle has taken up a new hobby of wanting to be my sous chef! She’s been showing more interest in cooking; perhaps due to my energy of inviting her into participation more often. I’ve taught her how to go one step ahead of a butter knife and chop fruits and vegetables. She stirs stuff by the stove, adds ingredients (does a lot of quality control), and just seems to enjoy being my helper. I try and think that she’ll be more motivated to eat what she has helped prepare-sometimes yes, sometimes no, and I’m trying not to have too many expectations. 235007 006 005 004 002 001


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coming home

There’s nothing quite like a life-altering event to get me back from my blogging hiatus. Where to begin? My mind is racing more quickly then my fingers can type, there is too much to say.

I guess I will begin by telling you that Dorothy was not making an understatement when she clicked her glittery shoes and proclaimed over and over again that there’s “no place like home.” It’s funny, though, because now that we are home from our vacation to Arizona, home isn’t quite what I was expecting, not quite the place of safety and comfort that I was greatly anticipating when we were dropped off at the Phoenix airport Tuesday morning. But it really has more to do with what is happening inside of me rather than home itself and what it may or may not represent.

You see it was just over a week ago, one week go and 22 hours to be exact, when our family was hit broadside in a head-on collision driving through Casa Grande, on the way back to Allen’s parents house.  We’d already had a long day, driving to Tucson to visit the Desert Museum, and we were pretty much all about as spent as 4 spent people can be.  We’d picked up some Papa Murphy’s and were traveling eastbound going through a green light, when a truck turned left and Allen slowed down as he went by……little did we know that a red prius driven by a 70 year old woman right behind that truck was about to collide with us.

I closed my eyes as I felt our car swerve and I braced myself for whatever was coming as I heard Allen reference the fact that we were about to get hit. I cannot remember his exact words………doesn’t matter now, but time stood still as the crunch, the hiss, the explosion of airbags, the punch, my legs, my arms, my head, my very core, shaken. Then silence, then smoke, then get out, get out, get out, the kids, my God, the kids………..we opened our doors, amazed to be alive in that moment, but what about the kids? we each rushed to the back, the smoke, the glass, the crunch, the fear, they, where are they, oh God get them out.

Open doors, crying kids, pulling them out, where do we go? Cars rushing all around us, total chaos, Allen running with Sawyer to the car that hit us, screaming, yelling, why, why why? Pandamonium?!? Touching and feeling and holding every part of my baby girl’s body, seeing red in her mouth, oh my God you’re bleeding……….wait, it’s just a red vine, still chewing a red vine. What? You’re safe, I need to hold you, I need to be held. What just happened?

The darkest day. Ever. But wait, we’re alive. how are we alive? how did we survive this? I am shaking, cannot stop shaking. Some ladies in a truck ask if we are okay? I yelled “call 9-1-1!!! Someone was already on it. Time stood still, but at the same time everything happened so quickly. It was completely like watching something happen to someone else, stepping outside of myself. Allen handed me Sawyer. He tried to move the car, wouldn’t budge.

Suddenly we heard sirens, lots of them. It grew darker. Aid car, police officers, EMT’s, they all came over, flashing lights, blankets, huddling together on the side of the road. Freezing. Cool, dark Arizona night sky. What is happening? How are we alive? Is this for real? A blur, a mighty, stormy, incredible, unbeliveable blur.

My legs hurt, my arms hurt, my kids were so tired, I think that we all just wanted to melt into a puddle and dissapear, make it all stop, go to sleep. I couldn’t believe my kids were okay, I watched the lady in the prius get on a stretcher. We had our blankets. All the attention on her. Fighting jealousy, why not attention on us too? Wait, we’re okay, we’re okay. A rush of emotions, relief, shock, anger, relief, shock anger. A police officer asks me if I have a child with me, and I motion 2 children-he quickly invites us to sit in the back of his unit, lights fashing, dispatch/police radio blaring about our accident (totally weird to be hearing my husband’s name on a dispatch radio), heat blasting. It takes forever, all the papers, the questions, the cleaning up of glass. Sawyer saying he’s scared, Abrielle saying she wants to sleep here.  Waiting for Allen’s parents to arrive, seemed like an eternity.

When I closed my eyes I longed for home, my mom, my dad, just get me and my family the h***out of this state. Get me on the 1st plane home, please please someone just hear the cries that my lips aren’t uttering but my heart is yearning for.  The next few days were probably the hardest I’ve faced, wanting so desperately to get out of Arizona, away from the desert, now no car, stuck…….stuck. On edge, sore, exhausted, hurting, mind won’t stop whirling.  Whirling around the what if’s and the why’s and the how come’s and the just imagines. Remembering how scared my little boy was and how my daughter was dissapointed because she couldn’t finish watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Priorities. I wish I was 4 again.

I thought that clicking my heels and dreaming of home and actually coming home would be so much different. I cannot move past that night. Shouldn’t I just be relieved to be alive and move forward? Never in a million years could I have anticipated the impact that something like this can have on the human psyche. At least not on my psyche. Insurance, new car seats, don’t tell them too much, you’re not telling them enough. Be careful what you say, don’t sign this, take the kids in to the doctor, have them checked out. The left side of my knee, abrasion, reminder. Two red marks on my arm-reminder. Abrielle’s neck, now bare, but I still see a mark that no longer exists, yes, a reminder. My scared little Sawyer, no longer scared, a reminder. Perpetual reminders, perpetual thoughts about that night……….needing to talk about it to find relief, wanting to not rehash it all in fear of traumatizing and retraumatizing the kids.  Stuck between a rock and a hard place. I’m always with them and the season of “how was your Christmas” has not yet ended.

It’s been just over a week, as I said, and I’m learning about a word, that word is trauma. Instead of letting me eat it alive I am trying to understand it, learn about it, what does it mean for me? What happened is traumatic, and this is normal. Trauma takes us places that are strange and uninviting. Understanding that the time between exiting my door and opening up the kids’ doors, was a dark, so dark, down the rabbit hole, kind of place.  I had no control over what happened, and we could have done nothing to prevent it. In an instant your life can just change. Just because you walk away from something and you weren’t seriously injured or you didn’t have to go to the hospital, doesn’t make something less crazy or scary or any number of descriptive labels.

We learned we had to get new car seats and so dealing with the details of that and insurance and researching new seats was maddening becasue I felt this sense of urgency that I felt like no one else understood. I may not have control over other drivers and their actions, or the weather, or really much of anything when it comes to sharing the road, but I at least can make my car as safe as possible for my kids. The people that I love most in this world and those car seats were amazing in that they did their job.  Now they were questionable…………and seeing as that insurance stuff is slower than molasses on a cold day, I at least had this, something I could take into my own hands and do something about. But, as it turned out, installing those suckers was a headache like no other and to be completely honest, so raw-honest, I was so angry with that woman. Feelings that had kind of been shifting into empathy and what she must be going through, burned alive with evil thoughts of how this wouldn’t be such a struggle if didn’t need new carseats and we wouldn’t need new carseats if we hadn’t gotten hit, and we wouldn’t have gotten hit if……………..and then I have to stop. I have to fight with my flesh, and duke it out with God and ask for forgiveness, ask for power to find grace and mercy for this woman, who I don’t even know the first thing about.

So here I am, in a place of at least accepting that what happened is in fact traumatic, and the feelings and thoughts are normal. fearing that this is my new normal, though, doesn’t give me a lot of hope. What does give me hope is that the Lord and time will heal my hurts, my heavy heart, my cluttered and chaotic mind. Maybe I’ll be given grace in the moment to remember that God works things out for the greater good. I can celebrate being a more aware and vigilant and defensive driver. At least I have that going for me. Abrielle loves her new carseat with the cupholder. Good for her. Oh, to be 4 again.

Now I haven’t just driven by accident scenes, now I have truly lived it myself, which is totally surreal and unbelievable and so many other things that I can’t give names to at the moment. Writing about it definately helps……..clarity, purpose in what I feel and why I feel it. Signs of healing………..oh, but also grace, because it HAS only been a week and well, these things don’t heal overnight. Thanks to any and all who share in my written journey and send prayers for those who are hurting or who have been hurt by trauma and are so amazingly fortunate to be able to talk about it.


Allen summits Rainier in July (4 attempts, 2 summits in the last 4 years)

Allen summits Rainier in July (4 attempts, 2 summits in the last 4 years)

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in the throes of planet mommahood

ImageOkay, so it looks like it’s been just a few months since I’ve posted anything on here. It is now mid-August, for crying out loud. Yikes. Better late than never.

Life has been in full swing as it usually is with 2 kiddos in tow. We recently had Abrielle evaluated via bloodtest for food intolerances/sensitivities, which revealed gluten, dairy and eggs needed to be eliminated from her diet for a while. This was super challenging at first for obvious reasons. However, thanks to a small handful of very helpful personal resources along with the world wide web, we’ve been going strong and following a pretty good diet. We just reintroduced eggs for the first time about a week and 1/2 ago. There was some excema flare-up so I’m hanging back on the eggs again.

Abrielle has been incredible through this whole process and willing to try new things. there’s really only been a couple of times where she communicated missing things like cheese and milk, and wheat bread, and we’ve had to skirt around a few things,but she’s totally blown my expectations and fears.

Even though we’ve been spending more money on gluten, dairy and egg free foods, we also haven’t been eating out at all (with the exception of treats that match the diet), and that always helps in the budget area of food. I don’t know about Sawyer because we didn’t get him tested yet-he has similar symptoms as Abrielle in the skin department, so for the most part I’ve had them on the same diet (that makes it easier, too). Our daughter is FINALLY willingly pooping on the potty-mostly in part to the promise of wrapped up poopy prizes from the Goodwill, but I think also in part due to the fact that her #2s with this diet are consistently making it easier for her to have success on the potty. And that’s all I’ll really say about that. 🙂

We’ve had quite a summer-done a few things on thh bucket list:

Bainbridge Island ferry ride with visit to kids museum-also did a ferry ride to Kingston and played on the beach in Edmonds

Vacation Bible school at church

eating berries and veggies from the backyard

hitting up wading pools & spray parks in the local vicinity

making homemade (coconut milk) ice cream

lots of trips to the zoo

hosting 3 students from China & Japan for 4 weeks

camping at Lake Kachess and looking forward to family camp at Fort Casey in a couple of weeks

Seeing the Blue Angels practice their air show

celebrating Abrielle’s 4th birthday complete with a Bambi cake and explosive playdoh volcanoes

making a trip to Birch Bay and seeing my bff Lisa and her family which is always a rarity

hitting up new parks like O.O. Denny, a few playdates, birthday parties and a concert @ Richmond beach featuring our favorite Caspar Babypants.

Sawyer is now almost 2 yrs old. He is always on the move, now loves to read books, and just got his first haircut from daddy. He is really into trains and jets. Abrielle of course is, as always, very creative and has a wild imagination-still loves princesses and says she is going to marry Sawyer-after all he is her Prince Charming. 🙂

As for me, I developed a nasty case of Carpal Tunnel but thankfully after backing off a few activities and wearing wrist guards at night, I’m doing much better. Been slowly shleffing off the Sawyer sack with running at the gym and doing Hot Yoga (so addictive) 2-3x week. Weight lifting has not been completely banned but I do have to be more cautious.

While I know I should be just focused on living in the moment, I can’t help but confess that I’m looking forward to autumn. We have a family vacation planned for Allen’s birthday in October in Westport, Abrielle starts preschool again with a brand new teacher, I get to start CBS (community Bible Study) and things get back into a more steady routine. We’ll have 2 new students, 1 from Hong Kong and the other from Japan. They arrive mid-September. It’s always challenging at first but I’ve gotten used to that as part of our lives. We’ve hosted 13 students since I was pregnant with Sawyer, and Akane and Athena will make 15. that is a lot of people in and out of this house. I love when we hear from our students about the impact our family and home have made upon them-it’s sooooooo incredibly encouraging to hear that we’ve made someone’s experience abroad a good one filled with positive memories.

I’ve gotta jet for some Hot Yoga-ooh la la sweat city here I come, but I will post more pics soon!

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…and next week they’ll be off to college

Wow, this has been a very emotional week or two for me when planning for next fall…preschool, namely.  I’ve been chewing on this decision, well, more like obsessing if I’m really honest. And if I’m really super honest, I’ll admit that it’s keep keeping me up at night, been the point of many dicussions with other moms and Allen, possibly even in the cat in some subconscience way.

You see, Abrielle loves her current teachers, and I think they are pretty great too. I really have nothing to complain about-that’s why I wish there weren’t so many great options such as the one I have been lamenting over. There is a class which incorporates a lot of art work (right up my baby girl’s alley), is Reggio-inspired (meaning it’s child-inspired/directed, instead of traditionally solely teacher-driven) and it just sounds great. Other parents have communicated a lot of excitement over it, even those who’ve transferred from our teacher’s class (with much sadness). The dilemma lies in not being able to take Abrielle to Community Bible study, like I’ve been planning for a year now. Apparently from what I’ve been told by other mom friends, they have an amazing children’s program during the Bible study and their kids are just thriving in getting to know who Jesus is. I want that for Abrielle too-I want that for both my kids. yet I know that Abrielle loves preschool, she thrives there, she’s made friends, she loves the enviornment and I know will love Room 13 with Teacher Cody.

I finally decided to stop obsessing and just make a decision-that I would register her for this very popular arts-focused class and spend more time at home doing what I am called to do, show my daughter who the Lord is. I know that no matter how emotional I have been over the decision, and man have I ever been an emotional wreck, she’s gonna do great and have fun either way. Having that one-on-one time with Sawyer as he enters the older toddler years will be great as well.  he can accompany me to CBS and teach his sister all he is learning about God, and she in turn can teach her younger brother the abc’s and 123’s.

Why do I then still feel guilty, like she’ll be missing out on so much by not coming to CBS, but the truth is that she also has so much to gain……..this is my last year with my baby girl before she heads off to Kindergarten, and truth be told, I don’t want to have to rush out the door every morning of the week, because that in and of itself is a job and can be stressful…we’ll have Tuesdays & Fridays to do fun stuff the three of us, hitting up the children’s museums, zoo, library, parks, etc….and then when Sawyer naps Abrielle & I will have mommy-daughter time which both of us need. Okay, so I won’t have as much me-time, but from what I hear that doesn’t really happen for like 15 years anyway, who am I kidding? My “me-time” when Sawyer naps and Abrielle’s at school usually consists of cleaning the floor, putting away laundry and finding sneaky, creative ways to minimize the toy clutter.

I have to ask myself why this has been such a tough decision, why so much emotional energy…it’s like she’s heading off to college. Why are preschool choices so difficult…..some kids don’t even go to preschool and I’m pretty sure they do just fine in Kindergarten and beyond. Is it because we want the best and because of all the opportunities available it just becomes overwhelming?

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When the [crab on the] wall comes crashing down

Being in a hurry never leads to anything good. In fact, rushing to do anything slows me down even more and almost always leads to disaster. Today was no exception. In an effort to get Allen out the door for his first day of set-up crew at church, I groggily ran downstairs to make coffee and get breakfast going. I noticed that Abrielle hadn’t touched the snack Allen got for her at dawn (her 5:30 wake up time) so she was probably ravished. The minutes ticked by and Allen still wasn’t out of bed. I still wasn’t awake, but of course was embroiled in the many demands of getting food, vitamins, movies, toys, etc.

 I began to grow more and more annoyed that my husband was not yet down the stairs….I marched into the bedroom and gave him something just a little “more firm” than a love pat (to say the very least )and a very vocal reminder that he was running late-“is there coffee?” was all he could muster, and after I responded yes I ran back downstairs, yelling up that I had made breakfast. I am sure that there was steam coming out of my ears at this point-I really hate being late, and it wasn’t even me that had to be anywhere, but I was living vicariously through my husband or something.

He asked for pair of jeans laying on the stairs and without really looking hard I hastily tossed them up (we toss stuff to each other all the time, so it wasn’t a big deal). However, on this day, in a moment of panic and stress, I missed Allen by a longshot and instead hit king crab shell mounted on the wall. “Oh great” was all I could muster. I felt my heart sink to the bottom of my feet and couldn’t even look anyone in the eye. All I could see was the puddle of crushed crab shell at the bottom of the stairs. My control-freak-have-to-rush-cause-we-gotta-be-on-time-no-matter-who-or-what-I-have-to-power-through bit me in the butt once again.

Why, oh why does this happen? Was it worth the 10 minutes that Allen would be late? Was it worth the marital discord for who knows how long? (fortunately the anger burned off more quickly than I anticipated and before he left he said it was okay; he knew it was an accident.). Bless that man. Still, I spent the entire morning sorting through waves of guilt-this could never be replaced. I went over and over in my mind all the reasons I was angry, like I was almost justfiying what happened. A slish-sloshy sea of both agony on one side and contempt on the other. I foolishly went online in a panic at one point, looking up king crab taxidermists to see if I could find another-but what could replace something he hand-picked? Probably more of an insult than anything. I was grateful for getting the kids out the door and to the park just to get away from the house and reminders of the disaster that was my morning.

I started to think about all the times that I’ve messed up because of being in a hurry, because I’m worried about what others will think, whether it’s because I’m late or my husband’s late. I put more weight on assumed reactions than the grace that so abundantly flows in others. There’s the time I backed out of the driveway too quickly and hit the mailbox with the truck. The many times (too many to count) that I don’t hear instructions because I’m too consumed with my own rushed agenda and end up frustrating my husband and kids. I have trouble, admittedly, allowing others to be on their own timeline and being okay with that. I’ve gotta realize and own up to the fact that my husband, while we are a team, is responsible for himself and it isn’t a reflection on me if he’s a few minutes behind. What is the big deal in the end? I’m so great at building up catastrophies in my mind and 9 times out of 10 there’s no reason to worry and I want to kick myself in the long run. It’s kind of a vicious cycle.

S-L-O-W and steady, I’m gonna try and make that my new motto this week. Life will probably be more enjoyable and my relationships more satisfying. God please give me eyes to see that when I feel flustered or pressed for time, show me my heart, highlight my intentions, do away with my chaotic response and open the door for a better way of handling things not in my control. Amen.


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A New Year, a New Blog!


Welcome to my new blog, www.wonderwahls.wordpress.com I was having far too many technical difficulties with the last one-my mommy brain just couldn’t get past the mass confusion, and so I decided to throw in the towel and start fresh.  I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to be [when I grow up] when the kids are in school. Allen is always going back to that age-old question of, what are you passionate about, what do you love to do? Besides being a mom, of course, I LOVE to write. I love to write mostly about motherhood and my adventures with 2 kids, 5 chickens, the world’s laziest cat and our oft forgotten fish. A blog is a great place to vent frustrations, ask great questions and get some perspective on life. So, here I am, after a couple months’ hiatus. 

I feel like I’m in a really great place right now in life. Things seem fairly stable, and of course experience has proven to show that when life gets too comfortable, the unexpected comes along to re-awaken my ability to be flexible and trust God in His plans.

I’m super excited that we are soon going to be heading on a plane to San Diego. Okay, so actually it isn’t for another 2 months, which is kind of dreadfully far away (especially for Abrielle who insists TODAY must be the day we’re going to meet the princesses at Disneyland and swim with the dolphins @ Seaworld). I know that I have tended, in the past, to, like Chevy Chase in “National Lampoon’s Christmas vacation” really build things up in my head and get easily dissapointed if they don’t go according to ‘my plan.’ Hey, another opportunity to trust God with the details! Ye-ah. Mostly easier said than done. The fact of the matter is, I’m already scared about the 2-hr plane ride with my kids and the fact that Sawyer has NEVER done well sleeping away from his crib, and we’re talking about a whole week away from home.  In fact, when we tried to put him down in the pack n’play for the overnight Thanksgiving trip at my mom’s, he cried so hard he puked, all over e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.  I guess a week with 2 kids in between us won’t necessarily kill me, or…..perhaps we can get a room with 2 beds?

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