God is always working to make His children aware of a dream
that remains alive beneath the rubble of every shattered dream,

a new dream that
when realized will release a new song, sung with tears,

till God wipes them away
and we sing with nothing but joy in our hearts

--Larry Crabb

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Dear Family and Dear Friends who have a little time to read a lengthy update and who are as annoyed as I that this for whatever reason appears as one ginormous paragraph but will read on anyway... Each year I have high expectations to get my Christmas cards printed and mailed promptly two weeks before Christmas. Unfortunately, this has not happened, ever. So here you have the first ever Riedel New Year’s update. Maybe it will even arrive in the New Year’s time frame. (not likely). 2016 has been an incredibly busy, crazy year full of changes. First though, let me back up to recap some of the recent years and happenings that you may have missed. In 2011, 2013, and 2015 we had babies. Girl-Boy-Girl. Lauren-Carson-Harper. Hence, no updates. Although we feel incredibly blessed and graced by their presence in their lives we were/are completely unprepared for the changes they would bring including but not limited to: constant messes, essential lack of silence (or concern in the rare instance that this occurs), expense, busy schedules, inability to arrive anywhere on time or with shoes on, and destruction of property. In 2013 we spent the year in Arlington, VA while Craig fellowed at the Pentagon. Living in the DC metro area was a fabulous experience that is full of warm memories. Madison (18 yrs old) graduated from Duncan Fletcher High School in Jacksonville, FL in June. Craig took the easy way out and flew while the kids and I drove down along with my mom. The drive was complicated by 2/3 of the kids having hand foot and mouth. (I refuse to capitalize this condition as a symbol of disrespect). We were able to stop and spend some good times with friends from Raleigh along the way and share the love of hfm with them. It was the longest drive ever and shall never be repeated. The graduation was nice and we enjoyed a week in the St. Augustine area along with my mom and Craig’s parents. Our whole family fell in love with the ocean. The kids had a great, great time running along the sand and into the waves and collecting seashells. It was so fun that when our plans to visit Disney for a day were disrupted by a tropical storm the kids cheered for another beach day. (by kids I guess I mean Craig, Lauren, my mom, and I.) Madison has now finished her first semester at Kettering University in Flint, MI, formerly GM Institute. We are delighted to have her living closer to us although we still don’t see her as often as we’d like. Kettering seems to be a great fit for her as they rotate 3 months of academic studies with three months of co-op experience. Her first academic term went very well and she landed an amazing opportunity to co-op at Chrysler Headquarters where she is doing some automotive safety engineering. Her major is Mechanical Engineering with a Biomedical focus. Craig and I joined her for Parent’s Day this fall and really enjoyed seeing her in her element. Lauren (5 yrs old) finished 4 year old preschool in the spring and started Kindergarten at Immanuel Lutheran School this fall. She loves her teachers and is learning to read. She is also involved in a weekly Math Club which Craig leads once per month. Lauren takes gymnastics with her best friend, Ella, and loves crafts, watching play doh videos (if you are unfamiliar imagine an annoying squeaky voice narrating the formation of various playsets that she will later beg us unsuccessfully to purchase), and most recently has been enjoying playing with her sister. Say what? Lauren is dramatic, creative, loves to help, talks incessantly, and loves to have people over. She recently came in from playing in the back yard and announced that she had invited our new neighbors over for dinner. “Don’t worry Mom, I told them that we’d probably have PB&J.” I sigh a lot and can’t disagree that she is my mini-me. Poor girl. Carson. (3 yrs old) This one keeps us on our toes. He is a busy, busy little guy. If you could see all of the things in our home that are utilizing locks right now you would be impressed (or maybe not at all). He is clever and finds a way to get what he wants. We had a sitter one morning this fall and he lured her into the backyard before running back inside and locking her out. She said that he sat directly inside the patio door playing with his toys and laughing as she attempted to get him to unlock the door. That.is.Carson. We thought that once the terrible twos were over things would improve, but nope, we just marched right on into terrible threes. Carson is in afternoon preschool 5 days per week to focus on his speech development. He has unfortunately really struggled and fallen behind in this area. Along with school he sees an additional speech therapist, Miss Katie, twice per week. Let me tell you this boy is crazy about her. He smiles and giggles and is always on his best behavior for her, except for the time when he sneaked away from her and hid in the elevator. Thankfully, he couldn’t resist the alarm button that gave away his location. He is also sweet and cuddly, and loves Thomas the Train, water, baths, and playing with cars. Harper (22 mos.) will be two in February which seems impossible. She put her babyhood behind her entirely too quickly. She loves Minnie Mouse, food, hats, books, and shoes. She is funny, lighthearted, content, has the cutest giggle you could ever hear, and gives “the look” when you annoy her in any way. This involves directing her face at you and rolling her eyes off to the side while pretending that you don’t exist. Harper is our third, so she is not currently in any activities except for serving as a taxi copilot. She and Carson are little buddies. She likes to be where he is and he likes it when she tags along. Craig (30 something but barely) has had a lot of change to his work profile in the last few years. He recently was promoted to Deputy Product Manager of the Robot Logistics Support Center, which oversees all aspects of robots used in combat. His office is now back at Selfridge Air National Guard base and this shaves over an hour off of his commute every day. Craig really enjoys serving the Army in this capacity. He still travels occasionally, but not nearly like what he used to. Outside of work, Craig likes to do projects around the house, ride his bike, and work some more! Missy, Melissa, Sweetheart-(age irrelevant)—whatever you call me keeps plenty busy on the home front. There is always something or someone around here that is needing attention or a clean up. I love being able to be home during this season of life to nurture our little ones and watch them grow. At the same time the struggle is real at times to find balance between being a mom, wife, and having my own identity. This spring I became a consultant for Norwex. I love the ease and efficiency of cleaning with these products, the no hazardous chemical clause, and being able to share them with others during an occasional party. (Yes, that is a slight sales pitch—let me know if you want to try it out!) We have play dates quite often that honestly are just as much for my sanity as they are for the kids socializing. Every now and then I get together with some other mom friends for a night out too, which has been refreshing! As a family, we have done a lot of traveling. My Grandma Goemaat passed away in January and we were blessed to spend a few days around that time with family celebrating her life. We returned to Iowa in February during the kids’ spring break. In June we had the Florida trip followed by three weeks in Iowa and a gathering with 120 of our Favorite Nieuwsmas for a reunion. In October Craig and I took a 6 day Caribbean Cruise, while my mom and a family friend, Miss Marilyn, took care of our kids. We ported in Jamaica, Mexico, and Grand Cayman Island and loved every minute of it and can’t wait to go again! Craig even led an effort to bring home four trophies for various trivia competitions on board the ship. We became somewhat of celebrities hearing “Hey Detroit!” at times as we walked around the boat. After much prayer and consideration, we made Immanuel Lutheran our new church home. Although we still miss aspects of our previous church, we love it being much closer to home and being involved in a Home group again, which has been a tremendous blessing already. Spending Christmas at home this year has given us more time to spend together as a family and reflect more on the great gift that God has given us through the birth of His Son. We hope that the Joy that Jesus brought into the world can be felt ever present in each of your lives in 2017. With Much Love, The Riedel’s PS. The basement finishing project is well underway if anyone wants to paint, make a donation ( ;) ), or be an honorary guest in our new space.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Pickled Videos

So let me just say that I am not a fan of kidney beans because they just aren't that good. I am less a fan of salt because too much of it (which really isn't that much to the ordinary Joe Schmoo) makes me sick. This week I opened up my Nieuwsma Family Cookbook. I figured I better brush up on some family favorites because we're having company in April and, well, they're Nieuwsmas. I thought that my great grandma's homemade bread might be a hit but wanted to practice. As I was waiting for the bread to rise and denying the fact that my son was littering our apartment with toys I didn't even know we had I started looking at some of the other recipes. One thing that jumped out at me was my grandma's three bean salad. Now, let me tell you that I am not a fan of just any three bean salad. At all. It is salty and not pretty, but that is three bean salad from a can. I had always heard that my grandma made the BEST three bean salad of anyone. Plus my aunt brought some to my mom's once for a potluck and I tasted it and it WAS pretty yummy. So I made a batch. And I ate the whole thing in less than 24 hours. With a fork right out of the container. By myself. Ironically, the best part was the kidney beans (and I found a no added salt variety at the grocery store. GO ME!) I dumped the remaining juice down the sink and since both littles were taking a rare synchronized nap I started cleaning the kitchen. Most kitchen counters accumulate a variety of things. Ours is no exception. Somehow our video camera had landed there so I tucked it into my arm along with a random sock, some water paint, and a Minnie Mouse light up microphone that plays the most annoying music ever. I take that back. We have a Caillou video where Caillou is singing about being a boat captain. That is more annoying. Anyway, somehow the camera slipped out of my arm and slid into the sink, but it didn't stop there. Oh no...it went straight down into the garbage disposal because some idiot (ok, it was me) removed the rubber seal in the sink drain because it was too stiff to let water through. For some reason the pickling juice from the beans hadn't drained, either and the cute little compact video camera that we bought just before Carson was born had taken a little swim in it. How exactly do you tell your husband that you pickled your newish video camera? Why does stuff like this happen to me? Urgh. As it turns out, my husband is awesome and just shook his head. P.S. I realize that this all looks like one big giant paragraph and I can't figure out what I can do to make that not happen. Blogger and iPad are having some little conflicts that they need to work out. People tell me I need to blog more, so I am and this is what you get. I did, however, get a keyboard for my iPad so one teeny tiny post is no longer an all night ordeal.

Monday, February 3, 2014

A Shoe Story

I do not really like to spend money. I agonize a lot at the stores because I see things I like but then don't want to spend the cash on them. Matter of fact, I still have some Christmas money from several years ago. I want each purchase to be something profound and useful. I am Dutch...thriftiness is in my bones. With that being said, a few months ago I bought Carson a new pair of shoes. The were cute--all brown leather with little blue airplanes on them. Before purchasing them I stared at them for a long time. Yes, they were only $15 and he is absolutely worth much more than that, but the fact is that a 6 month old really doesn't need shoes; they would only be for decoration. Yet I sighed and threw them in the cart. I even had a gift card and it was still a hard choice for me. Later that day we took a family trip to the mall, which is only about 3 blocks from our apartment. Craig wanted to spend some time looking at the iPad mini (which he ended up buying after thinking about it for a couple more weeks--he and I are alike that way--anyway, that is irrelevent to my very exciting story). I could no longer keep my girl entertained in that store, so we decided to head up one level to ride the mini carousel. I do mean MINI by the way. There are only three horses on the thing. On the way there we walked by Children's Place and they seemed to be having good sales so we jetted through there for a bit then Lauren led the way to the carousel. I decided to let Carson ride as well, but found when I sat him on the horse he was missing a shoe. We paused, checked the stroller, the hallway, everywhere, but the shoe was elusive. We went back to CP, back to Apple, still no shoe. I seriously felt anxiety. It HAD to be there. I could feel it in my gut. I want you to know that I have a crazy gut instinct. As a nurse, I could always just feel if a patient was in trouble. Many times I was able to identify a situation early on and take care of small issues before they became big problems. I could feel in my bones that sometihng wasn't right in my pregnancy with CJ. I knew Lauren was a girl and Carson was a boy long before any ultrasound confirmed. I knew that shoe was in that mall. I also knew how silly it was to dwell on such a trivial thing, but couldn't help it. Every time we went to the mall I made Craig check with Lost and Found, the Apple Store, and CP to see if it had turned up. It wasn't until the night when we went with him to purchase his iPad and the guy at the Apple store said "hey...aren't you the one that was looking for the baby shoe? Did you ever find it?" that I called off the search. Um, embarrassing! Just the other day I was cleaning and came across the lone shoe. I thought about throwing it away, but instead tossed it in the dresser with the intent of disposing of it when we move back home. Then tonight we went to the mall. We decided to take the kids on the carousel. Out of habit I glanced at all the nook and cranny crevices along the way. Craig busted me and we laughed. As we neared the carousel I noticed that the base of it waved in the breeze a bit as lightweight fabric does. "Hey Craig, wouldn't it be crazy if Carson's shoe was under that thing." "Enough about the shoe--it is gone. Forget it!" Whatever, I plopped down on my hands and knees and pulled the fabric back. I wish I would have had a camera when I pulled the long lost shoe out and showed it to Craig. Lauren, too, was as excited as she gets "That's Brother's lost shoe! Look Carson!" Three months had passed since we lost it and it was found in a mall that has literally thousands, if not millions of people walking past Carson's shoe each week. The other odd part is that Lauren had also asked multiple times to go back to the horses to get it. She was adamant and upset and would not forget about it. (Let me insert here that there is absolutely no denying that this is my daughter. We share issues.) When we got home I went to the drawer, pulled out the other shoe, placed them on his feet, and put him down to crawl. He looked at me, shood his head, cried "No no no no no" and took them off. Oh yeah...I forgot that he hates them. Sigh.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

What? February?

It looks as if I have a little catching up to do. I have good intentions to do a pits here and there, but good intentions do not keep respiratory infections away, chocolate milk off of the carpet, or babies from playing in toilets. Funny how priorities change when you become a mama twice over. We've been good. Still loving the urban ness of our locale, although this unusual cold spell has forced us to spend waaaay more time indoors than we'd like. I miss going to the park and out for walks. The kids miss their mommy being sane. We all miss Craig. He is at work an awful lot these days...something about earning a paycheck blah blah. The kiddos are getting so big. It makes me want to cry sometimes because they are not so babyish anymore. Lauren will be three in the end of March. She is getting tall and very princessy. She wants earrings (stick ons), tiaras, fancy clothes, and flip flops at all times. She is usually a very sweet and good girl. I feel fortunate that I can take her out and about places and she'll stay right with me and listen. She's got quite the vocabulary and imagination to go with it. I am amazed at some of the things that come out of her mouth. She is still not completely sure that she likes her brother, but is doing MUCH better at being nice. Probably because he has figured out that if he laughs, she can't help but laugh too. Lauren has recently discovered the exciting world of crafts. She is especially fond of glue, stickers, paint, and scissors. Sigh. Carson will be 10 months old soon. HOW?!?! He is 110% full speed ahead all day long. He is working on his 6th tooth and crawling everywhere. He loves anything that makes noise and lights up as well as toilets, shoes, and food. I wish I could post a clip of him laughing--it is the cutest sound ever. (I can't post hardly anything...matter of fact I am painstakingly writing this on my iPad...our laptop has ADD). Carson adores his sister and can't stand it if he is awake and she is not. He does his best to avoid baby foods. He wants to pick his food up and put it in his mouth himself and does a pretty decent job. Best of all, though, he loves to cuddle with his mama. I treasure those moments because I know that all too soon they'll be fewer and farther between. :'( I'd like to tell you about an exciting array of things I do in my downtime, but a) I don't have downtime,and b) I don't do anything exciting anymore. I will say that I have found that I rely love cooking more than ever before. Since restaurants here are not very kid oriented and expensive, we eat at home almost all of the time. I love the challenge of preparing my family a balanced meal that is mostly from scratch and low sodium. Tonight I concocted a chicken tortilla black bean dish that everyone ate well. Woot woot. I must have gone a little too heavy in the onion, though, because Lauren (in unrestrained 2 year old honesty) told me that I needed to take a shower and brush my teeth because I was kind of stinky. I'm assuming it was the onion. Ok folks, I should prob call it a night and try to catch some sleep before someone wakes up needing to potty or have a pacifier found and replaced. 'Nite all.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

One Hot Mess

Oh what a complicated mess surrounds us.  We are living day to day, minute to minute in wait.  In the last few days we have had travel orders to return home, had them revoked, Craig has received notice of exemption from the furlough and then had it rescinded.  It is a hot mess, I tell you.  I don't even know where to begin.

For now we are being told to stay put in DC while the lawyers for the Army scrutinize the law to see whether or not Craig should be working.  On Monday, when Craig was advised to travel home, we had to give a seven day notice to the leasing office, which means that next Monday we will have to do SOMETHING, but have no clue what.  We may have to vacate our apartment if they are not willing to extend a new short term lease.  We may have to return to Michigan.  We may have to find a new place to live here.  He may be exempted and allowed to return to work.  The powers that be may reach an agreement and this whole thing will allow us to return to our abnormally normal life.  In the meantime, we are flinching every time Craig's work phone makes a peep in hope of an update.  We are packing a few things that we can do without right now in anticipation of going somewhere.  We are praying for our elected leaders to reach a resolution.  We are keeping things normal for our kids.  We are dwindling down our supply of perishables. We are wondering when we will get paid again.  

On Tuesday, I watched as an elected official gloated about helping break down the barricades so that the veterans on Honor flights could get to the memorials in the National Mall.  While I in no way want to sound like I disagree with the veterans' stance, (personally, I am thrilled that they didn't let the barricades stand in their way) I am beyond irritated that someone who helped put those barricades in place by failing to help find a compromise to the whole situation parades around like they are doing such a great thing by breaking through them.  Furthermore, shouldn't he have been in the senate or house (I don't even know what party affiliation he held, or what branch of government--it's irrelevent) working together with the others to fix it?  I don't know why I was so bothered, but my blood still boils when I think about it.  Grrr.  I guess you could say I'm on edge.

OK.  So I'm going to Totally shift gears and talk about something that makes me happy.  My kids.  Oh how I love them.  I got to facetime with Maddie last night and we are making some plans for the upcoming holidays. I miss her so much and can't wait to see her again!  I wish we could have her all of the time.

 Lauren is a busy busy busy little thing.  She is quite dramatic at times and has been acting so grown-up lately.  "I can do that, Mommy!"  However, the can-do attitude is quite often paired with stubbornness.  If she gets an idea in her head, there is NO changing her mind!  And when Lauren is frustrated, we all tend to get frustrated.  :)  I think that my dad said one time that he had a daughter like that.  Lauren is almost completely potty trained.  She still despises any effort to try to get her to go potty anywhere but at home, though.  Today we were at the dentist and she told me she had to go, but then realized that she would have to use their potty.  I asked her to try, and I guess you could say that she showed me who was boss because I am the one that walked out of the bathroom with wet pants.  Yes, in an effort to get her to sit she somehow managed to pee on my pants in such a way that it totally looked like I wet myself.  Not really the way I wanted to meet the new dentist, but such is the life of a mom.  Sigh.

Carson.  I never knew how much a little boy could steal his mama's heart.  He is such a happy, sweet baby.  He definitely knows who his mommy is and looks for me constantly.  Today Craig was holding him in the chair and trying to talk to him while I was making dinner.  Carson completely ignored him, stared at me and flashed me a huge smile and giggle every time I looked at him.  He has two teeth already and a ferocious appetite.  I can't believe my baby boy is almost 6 months old!  He loves his bath, toys, and watching his sister.

In days like these when our country seems to be falling apart and life has thrown a curveball into our normal, I find myself drinking in each moment of innocence with my little ones.  It is refreshing to me that they don't have a care in the world beyond when Carson gets to eat next or Lauren gets to watch TV.  The fact that we temporarily have no income, that we are totally living in limbo has no effect.  They trust that we will provide, just as I trust that our heavenly Father will provide for us as parents and as a nation.  Once again I ask "where would I be without faith?" and glad I'll never find out.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

So Frustrated

So I haven't had much time to blog lately, but tonight I decided to stay up late and write. I had a post all set to go and then blogger did something crazy, and I only had the first little dinky paragraph of my post left. I've never had that happen before. Then again, I had not bleached a bathtub because of massive amounts of baby poo while watching my toddler pee on the floor while my husband did his best to keep from puking either--until last night. I guess it is a time of firsts. I'll try again another time!

Monday, June 3, 2013


I know, I know, it has been a while since I have written.  Who could predict that having a baby and a toddler and moving, albeit temporarily, would do that to you?  I love to write, I NEED to write, and I have so much I'd like to share, but the thing I am lacking most of the time is free hands, as well as a mind that isn't being pulled in many different directions.

Carson Daryl arrived on April 8.  He is such a good, sweet little guy.  Truly a perfect fit for our family.  As I type this, we are sharing a chair.  He is lying next to me and trying to decide whether he wants his paci or his mouth unobstructed to smile at his mama. My heart is melting.

Lauren is growing so fast.  I can't believe how tall she is getting.  At first, I didn't see much resemblance between her and I, but now she is strongly favoring some of my toddler pictures.  She is somewhat ambivalent about her little brother.  She is protective of him, but really doesn't like to touch him.  It is even worse if he touches her.  If you were to ask her what she thinks of her little brother, and she were to offer any words regularly to anyone but her mom, dad, or few select people, she would tell you that Carson is "yittle." (Little) and that he does the following:  "Kicks, pits (spits), hiccos (hiccups), burps, poops, pottys, eats, and sleeps.  Yep, that pretty much covers it.  Lauren is very helpful to fetch a paci, diaper, burp rag, or whatever but just won't get close enough to let Carson kick her, because he did that once and it was "owie."

This morning Lauren woke up when Craig was getting ready for work.  Since she is in a toddler bed now, she feels the need to exit her bed immediately after waking.  Craig brought her in to our bed to lay with me for a while.  I had just finished feeding and burping Carson and he was snuggling with me.  Lauren fell back to sleep and moved in closer to cuddle with me.  She had her arm over Carson and was stroking his hair.  He was wide awake and smiling like he was getting away with something when she woke up with a look of horror.  She quietly said "eew," rolled over and went back to sleep.  Crazy girl!

We have now been in DC for a week and are adjusting well. Our apartment is three bedrooms, but pretty tight. I love it that so many things are within walking distance.  Surprisingly, I am liking the smaller space.  It is easier to keep track of Lauren while being easier to clean.  The thing I don't like is cooking here.  I don't know what happened to me, but I have burnt everything and set off the smoke alarm 3 times.  The biggest problem with this is that I am too short to reset it and have had to start using a wooden spoon, which is just clumsy and awkward.  From the top of our building we can see the Pentagon, Air Force Memorial, and Jefferson Memorial.  We are on the dividing line between Pentagon City and Crystal City, so there are lots of shops and buildings and Craig can even walk to work!

Last Thursday there was some muffled voice echoing through a speaker in our ceiling.  I didn't think much of it until the smoke alarms started going off and I heard it again telling us that an emergency has been reported and to leave the building immediately via the closest stairway.  So as any good city girl would do, I promptly gathered up my children and the diaper bag and fled down four flights of stairs and asked at the front desk what was going on.  Fire drill.  I haven't participated in one of those since high school.  Well, we took the elevator back up and Lauren decided not to get off.  Actually, she did get off, she just ran back on as the doors were closing and away she went.  The other thing that girl loves to do on elevators is push buttons.  My heart was pounding as visions of her exiting her choice of 21 floors and running filled my mind.  I quickly called the elevator back and thankfully she was there.  Wide eyed.  Smiling.  And saying "wheee...fun!"  We now have a new family protocol for exiting elevators. 

We took the Metro on Saturday to see the White House.  I was pretty sure we were going to get invited in for lunch, but the prez must not have seen me in the crowd.  It was a fun little outing and awesome to take in some of our nation's history.  We're looking forward to seeing more sights soon.

That's it for now.  My kiddos are both napping and I need to get a few things done!