Little Bit O’ Green

I didn’t want to miss out on a St. Patrick’s Day parade, so the weekend before the 17th, we took the kids to a small town parade in Hillsboro. We were the only people on our side of the street for about half a mile since it was a very wet Saturday. But, it was pretty cool that the police drove their motorcycles close enough to give the boys high fives! The parade lacked marching bands and the classic bagpipers for St. Patrick’s Day, but they threw candy, and that was all our kids cared about anyway.

On March 17th we hosted a couple friends for a play date. It was fun to put together some green and rainbow foods for a St. Paddy’s Day themed lunch. We ate green mac and cheese, rainbow peppers with white cheese for the clouds, green yogurt, grapes, and rainbow fruit. For dessert, I gave each kid a baggie with rainbow skittles and chocolate gold coins. It wasn’t Pinterest-worthy, but it was festive!

As soon as Silas got home from school, he built his very own leprechaun trap. Apparently, he had seen the first graders’ leprechaun traps and was inspired. I loved seeing his ingenuity and adorable “Get Gold” signs.

That night—to celebrate my birthday—we decided to take advantage of Portland’s Dining Month where upscale restaurants prepare special menus with three course meals for $29 per adult. We tried a new place called Besaws, and it was a fun night out with the family.

Stephen surprised me with a truly thoughtful gift this year. He bought me a beautiful upholstered headboard for our master bedroom. We’ve been married for a decade, and this is the first time we’ve had a headboard. It feels so luxurious! A few months ago, I sent Stephen a link to this exact one that I liked from Wayfair, and then I forgot all about it. Stephen, however, saved the link and kept checking the site to see when the headboard came back in stock. He surprised me for sure! That man is incredible.

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100 Days

Woohoo! We made it! Silas has completed 100 days of kindergarten (which is more than we can say for Daddy or Grampy).

Last Thursday, Bethany Elementary’s kindergarten classes celebrated their 100th day of school by making Froot Loop necklaces with 1oo pieces of cereal. They also made headbands, medals and several “100” craft and math projects. A few days prior, all the kids had their faces painted to make it look like they were one hundred years old.

When Silas got home he created this award poster for Cooper. It was entirely his own idea. Congrats, Coop, on managing to stay home for 100 days! What an amazing accomplishment!

Silas didn’t make a poster for Brynn since he didn’t think she’d been home for 100 days yet. Keep trying, Brynn!

We decided to make our own cereal necklaces for Cooper and Brynn. Silas is a sweetheart of a big brother to include his siblings in the special day.

Posted in brynn, cooper, education, grade school, silas | 2 Comments

The Stories Are True

There is more
More than all this pain
More than all the falling down
And the getting up again
There is more
More than we can see
From our tiny vantage point
In this vast eternity
There is more

Our hearts were awakened to music and emotion through the art of Andrew Peterson. We began to hear echoes of the gospel in ordinary life. The ordinary things of marriage, parenting, aging, feasting, children growing, dying, gardening. His lyrics are rich with Biblical allusion, literary references, imagination, surprise, and beauty.  Through his songs, he helped teach us to view all of life through a gospel lens.

As his song Windows in the World poetically explains, “It’s a window in the world, a little portal where you get a better view. And the wonder of it all is all you need to see the goodness getting through. And all along the way the days are made of little moments—all along the way the road is paved with little moments of truth.”

We found Peterson’s music during some dark years of our lives, and his music gave us hope and sang us through the troubled waters when we weren’t sure we would make it. His music was a gift because it pointed our hearts, our hopes, and our longings to a person—THE Person—Jesus Christ.

A thing resounds when it rings true
Ringing all the bells inside of you
Like a golden sky on a summer eve
Your heart is tugging at your sleeve
And you cannot say why
There must be more

Andrew Peterson sings as a storyteller reminding us that we live in a Far Country that is not our home. We are longing for our true home where our joy will finally be full.
There is more
More than we can stand
Standing in the glory
Of a love that never ends
There is more
More than we can guess
More and more, forever more
And not a second less

On the first Sunday in March, we drove three and a half hours north to hear Andrew Peterson perform live in concert. The energy of his music in a live setting brought us to tears as we sang along in the darkness. It was worth rearranging our schedules and making the effort to attend because we were able to talk with him afterwards. We shared how his music had intersected with our story and thanked him personally for his influence in our lives and our marriage.

He looked directly at me and said, “The stories are true.” The stories of the Bible are true. Now that I’ve walked through deep doubt and profound fear, and Christ has brought me safely to rest on Him, my heart sings when I’m told, “the stories are true.” Because they are.

Our favorite musician took the time to listen to us, empathize with us, comfort us with truth, and share a bit of his story as he autographed our copies of his CDs. We even got a picture with him to cap off the experience.

There is more than what the naked eye can see
Clothing all our days with mystery
Watching over everything
Wilder than our wildest dreams
Could ever dream to be
There is more

~”More” by Andrew Peterson and Pierce Pettis

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Posted in elisabeth, faith, marriage, music, quotes, stephen, thoughts | 4 Comments

A Pacific Northwest Outing

It was time. Time to explore again. With all the snow, sickness, busyness, birthday parties, baby showers, and work schedule this winter, it felt like forever since we explored this new state of ours.

After lunch we drove east to the Columbia River Gorge to visit the Bonneville Lock and Dam. The drive along the river was breathtaking as the fog hung low and greeted us with a vibrant rainbow kissing the mountains. Because of the melting winter snows in higher elevations, there were a dozen or so waterfalls cascading down to the river. I even spotted a bald eagle!

The Bonneville Dam has two powerhouses—one in Oregon and one in the Washington half of the river. A giant spillway spans the border between the two states. Water from upstream constantly flows to the ocean and allows baby salmon to pass through safely. Even if baby salmon happen to swim through the powerhouses, the dam’s newly installed turbines have been redesigned for a 95-98% survival rate for the fish.

The ranger took us to an observation deck inside the Oregon powerhouse where we could see the ten turbines and generators that power Portland. The dam was built back during the Great Depression, and is maintained today by the Army Corps of Engineers.

It was fascinating to learn about the fish ladder that allows adult salmon to safely swim upstream around the dams so they can spawn in the mountain streams. The salmon weren’t running during our visit this past Saturday, but the visitor center is equipped with observation windows so visitors can see the salmon underwater as they navigate the fish ladder. September is the best month, but April and May also have a lot of salmon running, so perhaps a second visit is in order.

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Sweet & Silly

Silas was reading to Brynn this morning, and Brynn decided to read along with him.

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Cooper, on the other hand, has decided to pursue his doctorate.


Posted in brynn, cooper, education, just life, silas, video | 2 Comments

St. Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is a holiday I like making a big deal about for the whole family. I want my family to know they are loved, and I seek to teach my children that loving others is a high priority for us since we are so well-loved by God. His love should motivate our love for one another.

I was on the hunt for a valentine banner for our fireplace, and came up with this one—part kit from Michael’s, part hand-made. Cooper and I made some penguins with heart-shaped bellies, beaks, and feet to send to family and friends.

I pulled out our over-sized felt envelopes and hung them on the bedroom doors again this year. It was fun to pick out a few treats for the kids and for the husband. On the cards, I wrote notes telling them things I love about each of them. First thing on the morning of the fourteenth, my four valentines opened their gifts and cards, and we started our day with donuts for breakfast.

I volunteered in Silas’s classroom on Monday when the class was decorating their valentine bags. It was adorable! Then, I also helped with their Valentine party on Tuesday. The best part was when Silas’s teacher had the class look through their bags and thank their friends for their valentines. Such a sweet class of little people!

Stephen knows how much I like chocolate, so he went out to our local cupcakery for some brownies, cake pops, and a cupcake after supper. We rented a movie after the kids were tucked in bed, and finished the day with some chocolate. Perfect ending!

These are some song lyrics we have hanging in our bedroom:

I believe that he brought us together,
and you are my one safe place

They’re from my favorite singer/songwriter, Andrew Peterson. While Stephen and I are both sinners who have wounded one another deeply, we’re also redeemed children of God who have forgiven each other lavishly. All because of the work of Christ in our hearts. Because of grace, Stephen has become my one safe place here on earth where I can be who I truly am, and he will still love me.

In the days and months and years that I struggled {and sometimes continue to struggle} with paralyzing anxiety, Stephen was faithful. When I decided to fight for joy and kill my sinful passions, Stephen was my biggest cheerleader and my devoted counselor. He is a safe place for me. He points me to Christ in this way.

Love my Valentine man more and more all the time…

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Posted in community, decor, education, family, grade school, holidays, marriage, music, stephen, thoughts | 2 Comments

Building Each Other Up

That’s what we do each Sunday. When we gather, when we sing our faith, when we listen to the Word, when we share the bread and cup. We strengthen one another.

That’s what we do each day of the week. When we pray for each other, when we confess our sins to one another, when we fight for joy together, when we meet each others’ needs, when we break bread in our homes. We persevere our faith together.

This is the church.

And this is the kind of church we’re finding Hinson to be.

When a fellow church member sings his heart out in the morning worship service, my faith is built up. When friends rearrange their schedules in order to babysit our kids all weekend, my heart is hugged. When a sister in Christ confesses her struggle to me, my care for her grows. When a friend comes to the ER to sit with me and my baby, my heart is supported (and baby Brynn is just fine, by the way). When I share my weaknesses and am embraced instead of rejected, my hope is brightened.

God is building His church, and we believers are the stones. As Peter explains in his first letter {1 Peter 2:5 ESV}

you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

We need each other, and when we live together as God intends, it’s a beautiful thing to behold!

Posted in faith, friends, hinson, oregon | 1 Comment

A Self-Motivating Savings Plan–That Works!

This is one of the best things I tried last year, and you should try it too! I didn’t want to blog about it until I had done it myself, and I’m definitely going for it again this year. I already have $202 saved in 2017.

Christmas is expensive. Add two birthdays in November onto that, and the end of the year gets pricey for us really fast. So…enter the Reverse 52 Week Savings Plan. It was actually fun!IMG_20170126_192622821_BURST000_COVER_TOP

Here’s the deal. The first week of the calendar year, set aside $52 (because there are 52 weeks in a year). The second week, save $51. Third week, $50. The fourth week, $49, and so on in descending order. Save one less dollar each week, and by the last week of the year, save just $1. In the end, your savings total $1,378!! {That’s worth two exclamation points at the very least.}

Let me tell you, that savings account made the end of the year a lot less stressful! We paid for birthday gifts and Christmas gifts for family and friends out of that account. And we even used the leftover money to cover some travel expenses.

Here’s how it played out throughout the year. I would transfer money from our checking account to an online savings account immediately after payday.

Since Stephen gets paid every two weeks, the first pay period of 2016, I saved $103 ($52 for the first week + $51 for the second week). The next pay period (two weeks later), I saved $99 ($50+$49), and so on.

Later in the year, I added a Christmas Transfer event to my Google financial calendar to remind me to transfer the money twice a month. Since the amount changed each pay period, I couldn’t set up a recurring transfer, so finding some way to remind myself was a must.

I say this plan is self-motivating because the amount you’re saving decreases each week. If you stick with the plan, $52 is the most you’ll have to save any week of the year. Just by starting the plan, the hardest step is done!

Save up for whatever you want. Start your fiscal year whenever you want. But in the end, if you keep at it, you’ll have $1,378 without feeling the strain for more than a few weeks at the beginning. You’ll be glad you tried the Reverse 52 Week Savings Plan.

Posted in birthday, elisabeth, finances, holidays, life hacks, shopping | 1 Comment

My Baby Bought Me a Swagger Wagon

That’s right! I’m a “mini-van mom.” I’m well aware that I’m a rolling stereotype, but this new ride is worth it.Jan9002

Our 2004 Buick Rendezvous had been slowly dying for a long while. It wasn’t in great shape when we bought it six years ago, but we certainly got our money’s worth out of it! We grew from a family of three to a family of five, and amazingly, we squeezed three car seats in the back seat. We even managed to move from Arizona to Oregon in that car. It wasn’t comfortable doing it, but since I didn’t know anything else, we were just fine.

But, now I know better. This van has features I didn’t know existed—like a second rear view mirror that’s designed for seeing your kids while driving and a foot rest for my left foot. And then there’s all the lovely comfort features that make mini-vans a mom’s favorite; like heated seats, 13 cup holders (that I know of so far), power sliding doors and rear hatch, rear seats that fold into the floor, built-in blinds for all the back windows, DVD system (with headphones!), and extra seating. As Stephen reminded me, minivans are stereotypes for moms for a reason—because they’re the best!Jan9001

On top of all the bells and whistles, I’m fully enjoying the ordinary features any car should have that were broken on our Rendezvous. Now I can see what gear I’m in and what our mileage is since the light behind the dash isn’t  burnt out. We have windshield wiper fluid that doesn’t leak, a glove box that’s functional, and the AC/heat actually changes the temperature inside the car. It’s incredible!

We chose the Toyota Sienna since it’s the only minivan that has all-wheel drive. After the snowpocalypse of this winter, all-wheel drive was a must-have on my wish list. Even if it doesn’t snow at all next year, I’m sure the four-wheel drive will come in handy on those rainy mountain roads we plan to explore on the weekends. Overall, we’re much safer in this van, and it handles more like a car than a truck.

I’m thrilled to finally have a comfortable vehicle that meets our needs—better yet, the kids are excited to go for a ride!

Posted in car, elisabeth, just life, parenting | 1 Comment


Well, I was hoping for winter, and Portland delivered. Jan8001Jan8010Jan8016It delivered a foot of snow two Wednesdays ago. And the kids loved their first blizzard!Jan8013Jan8012

When considering moving to Portland, we found that an average Portland winter has about one or two days of snow—and then, it’s usually only about an inch of snow accumulation, if that. This winter has been atypical, to say the least.Jan8008Jan8015Jan8006

In our second snowstorm mid-December, we saw firsthand how slippery roads can be that aren’t salted or plowed. Even less than an inch of snow caused such chaos since Portland doesn’t salt the roads for environmental reasons. Jan8035Jan8036Cars were abandoned all along the roads as people simply couldn’t drive in any amount of snow. Residents have to resort to buying chains for their vehicles in order to drive in just a couple inches of the white stuff.Jan8024

I had quickly learned my lesson and ran to the grocery store between snow storms to stock my pantry. Good thing I did! Tuesday night and Wednesday morning dumped a foot of snow, and it didn’t melt until the following Wednesday! Portland’s snow emergency plan is to wait until temps rise above freezing and the snow melts. They do eventually plow the main artery roads and put sand and gravel down for traction, but this unusual snowstorm finally forced the city to salt some roads so the city could function. Silas was out of school for over a week. It was like a reboot to 2017.

The kids had a blast playing in the snow the first couple of days. We went sledding with our neighbors since we could walk about half a mile to a good sledding hill. Both boys were very brave at this new sport.Jan8021Jan8023

Brynn loved the snow, and all three of them couldn’t eat enough of it. We attempted to build an igloo in the backyard by packing snow into our recycling bucket to make snow bricks. We managed to make a ceiling-less igloo at least.Jan8025Jan8026Jan8027Jan8028

During our time snowbound indoors, Silas made a rain forest diorama for his animal project at school. Stephen was able to navigate the slippery roads that Saturday to make it to the craft store for supplies.Jan8029Jan8030Jan8031Jan8032Jan8038

Silas had chosen to learn about the red-eyed tree frog, which was pretty cool. He and I made the diorama together and filled in his chart with frog facts. He memorized his speech about the tree frog and will present it to his class sometime next week. I’m impressed he’s learning all about mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and such in kindergarten.Jan8039Jan8040Jan8041Jan8042

We made this super quick video of his presentation Friday morning before he left for school.YouTube Preview Image

The snow was like a giant “pause” button for the entire city. Not only was school cancelled, but businesses were closed, people were out of work, and no one could go anywhere. Since I was unmotivated to start 2017 after returning from our two week trip, it was nice to have an extended time at home to regroup. But we’ve definitely been enjoying getting back to real life and our routine. (not to mention how much we’ve enjoyed having the garbage truck pick up our trash and the plumber fix our burst pipe!)Jan8044Jan8043

Happy 2017 from Portland!

Posted in just life, oregon | 3 Comments