Archive for November, 2012

It took a good 24 hours, but I think I’m finally fully thawed – Seattle is by no means hot and toasty, but 5 degrees plus a serious wind chill?  Brrrrrrr….  Freezing temps aside, our last couple of days in Minnesota were full of more warm moments with the family, more relaxing, and plenty more eating.

Once I’d recovered from Thursday’s midnight mall madness (Shane’s mom and I are self-declared suckers for a good deal), Shane and I headed out for a drive on Friday afternoon to enjoy the snow-dusted countryside.  We have a few special spots that we visit each time we’re back – a quiet little stretch of shore at Lake Bergen, the Minnewaska lookout, the Schnell plot at Hudson Cemetery.  And there’s always a stroll down Shane’s memory lane.  We cruise past the field where the neighbor kid took him out for a joy ride in his dad’s car (and then rolled and totaled the car – bussssted!).  I know the 3-mile stretch of road that Shane once rode on his bike without once touching his handlebars.  I know where he used to catch turtles in the summers, the ditch where he would practice snowboarding in the winter.  I like reliving these memories with him, revisiting these places time and again – kind of makes me feel like I’m coming “home” as well.

We rolled out of bed late on Saturday, caught a matinee at the local theater, and then convened with the whole family back at the house for an early Christmas celebration.  There was more turkey, more ham, and a pile of gifts to be opened.

Avery is 8 years old and loves Legos and tractors more than anything in the world.  But check out the grin on this guy’s face when he opened a box full of socks!  What a sport.

For the record, he did also receive toys in abundance – much of the evening was spent assembling this Lego helicopter.

We capped off the evening with a glass of scotch (for the boys), a slice of pumpkin pie, and a rousing round of Catch Phrase, during which Shane’s dad brought me to tears (of laughter) with his impression of Tiny Tim.

We ate our traditional breakfast in Nelson on Sunday morning, and then it was time to hit the road toward Minneapolis to catch our flight.  Much thanks to Shane’s mom and dad for always making us feel so welcome – I know that each of our visits are preceded by a cleaning, cooking, and shopping frenzy.  Shane’s mom had stocked the cupboards with four kinds of homemade cookies and my favorite caramels and chocolate peanut butter balls.  How’s that for speaking my love language? Thanks again, Schnell clan.  We already miss you.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Schnells! We landed in Minnesota yesterday afternoon and quickly settled into the warmth and comfort of Shane’s parents’ house. The livin’ was eeeeeasy today – a turkey and ham dinner at a nearby resort (we’re saving the home-cooked shebang for Saturday), visiting for awhile with Shane’s aunt and uncle, and an afternoon full of football, naps, knitting, and more eating. It was a day packed with reasons for gratitude – for family near and far, for fresh snow (God heard me on that one!), for an abundance of good food and quality rest. Tonight I’m setting aside our own “please, please, please” prayers and lifting up those who are lonely or hungry or cold on this chilly November evening – Shane and I are already brimming with blessings beyond measure.

This past Spring was the first time that I made a Lenten resolution. I grew up thinking Lent was only for Catholics or for people seeking motivation to lose a few pounds by giving up soda or chocolate or fast food. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I really began to absorb the significance of the season, the fact that it’s a chance for all followers of Christ to reflect more deeply on His sacrifice. And so in February I started searching for some sort of appropriate 40-day fast. What I settled upon, after wading through several not-quite-meaningful-enough ideas, was actually additive rather than subtractive: I committed to 40 days of prayer journaling, spending 10 or 15 minutes a day putting pen to paper in a series of “letters” to God.  My prayer life often takes a nose dive when I get busy or tired or swept up in the daily grind – I caught myself forgetting to turn to God when things were going too well (no thanks, God, I got this!), and then resisting Him when things felt utterly crappy (c’mon, God, do you even hear me?). Days (weeks, even?) would go by without a peep from me to Him.  This disciplined Lenton practice of giving Him my full attention, putting written words to my heart’s praises/longings/fears/questions proved to be the kick in the pants I needed to get us back on track.  One week into my resolution, I was already seeing His work more clearly in my life and in the lives of my friends and family.  I was turning to Him first, rather than last, when I needed comfort or encouragement.  And then Easter rolled around and Lent was over… But surely, surely, I would keep up this practice that had brought such richness to my life – I was hitting some serious high spots on that spiritual roller-coaster I’ve ridden for the last 20 years.  This had the makings of a permanent resolution.

At least, that’s what I told myself as I watched my neglected Moleskine collect dust on my bedside table – I would pick it up again tomorrow. Tomorrow, I would make the effort.  After five months of tomorrow’s, I recently started cracking open that little black journal and rediscovering the goodness of writing to God.  Somehow my prayers feel more real when I see them on paper, as opposed to that 30-second jumble of requests that drifts through my head as I’m falling asleep each night.  I think God values the intentionality of written words.  And I like having a record of what’s been on my heart.  The names of our friends and family are in there, as we’ve walked alongside them through ups and downs.  There are a handful of gushy praises, and there are countless pages of “please, please, please”.  There are a few tear-smudged entries.  There are bits of songs or Bible verses that have struck me at my core.  I look back and I see that some of these prayers have so clearly been answered with a resounding “yes”.  Others have drawn forth a “no”, or “wait”, or “how about we do it My way instead?”.  And then there are those prayers that seem to have been met with silence.  These are the ones where hurt and doubt and anxiety creep in.  But after each spiral of feeling lost and forlorn, I circle back to the belief that I follow a God that cares enough to read every last word, and that is wise enough to answer according to his perfect timing.  And so I will keep on writing.

This project has been 8 months in the making – I got about 12 inches into it, then stuffed it in a box and lost my knitting mojo (this seems to happen every Spring/Summer).  Then the Giants made the play-offs and we were spending loads of time in front of the TV, and I needed something to keep my hands busy while I fretted over whether or not Zito truly was going to come through in a clutch.  I finished my last row a week ago and am glad to have another neck cozy, as the weather in Seattle has officially turned terrible.  The scarf is a little more drapy than I imagined (I may try it again with bulkier yarn), but it’s super-comfy and I’m loving the color.  Ta and da:

Pattern is Northern Loop, found on Ravelry.  Yarn is Lion Brand Nature’s Choice Organic Cotton.

Shane boarded a plane bound for Minnesota yesterday to attend his grandfather’s funeral, so it’s been a pretty quiet weekend at Chez Schnell. And I’ve been a bit down – missing my husband, grieving for his family’s loss, battling that monthly funk…  But I’m finding comfort in the smallest of pleasures.  Like gingerbread pancakes.  And brownies.  And an afternoon spent knitting and watching Serendipity with Nance.  Coffee and a soul-baring catch-up with La Verne.  A couple of head-clearing runs on the treadmill with Shakira and Sia.  Copious amounts of mint tea and far too many episodes of Dawson’s Creek.  Yep, home alone and I’m livin’ large.


Sometimes a girl, even a girl in her thirties, just needs her mom.  I’ve been longing for that special kind of comfort and encouragement that only my mom can offer, so I was thrilled when she rolled into town on the Thursday afternoon train.  The weekend was full of so much quality mother-daughter time – we made the grand tour de Southcenter and shopped till we dropped, we cooked dinner together, we curled up on the couch to read or watch chick flicks.  She hugged me tight when I poured out my heart, and made chicken soup when Shane and I craved a good rainy-evening meal.  We spent yesterday afternoon strolling through Kubota Gardens, wanting to soak up those last bits of Fall color clinging to the trees (and also walk off our earlier visit to the Theo chocolate factory…).

I said a teary good-bye to her this morning as she boarded her train to Portland – there was no chicken soup for dinner tonight, no one to share my pot of peppermint tea.  At least I can count on Shane to take in a good chick flick with me (he’s sensitive like that).  I miss you already, Mom – thanks for the home-cooked meals, the words of wisdom, and most of all, the hugs.