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

Friday, August 27, 2010

Gardenburger Bliss

When we were living in the Quad Cities one of my very favorite places to eat was Arthur's Garden Deli in Rock Island. They have very good deli sandwiches, Quiche, and baked potatoes (seriously, tell me how you can screw up a baked potato, though!), but my very favorite was the Gardenburger. Oh the Gardenburger. It was a warm patty of rolled oats and rice with many unidentifiable vegetables smothered in provolone cheese with finely shredded iceberg lettuce, onion, tomato, Hellman's Mayo, and, of course, their signature seasonings on a fresh wheat bun. I am not a vegetarian, but do happen to really like vegetables. Add in the fact that lunch meats only work for me in small portions due to excessive sodium content and the Gardenburger is an awesome, yummy low sodium AND low fat--(bonus!) alternative. Don't be mistaken, though, it is nothing like a boca burger or other meatless "burgers."

The problem with this love affair was my moving to Michigan. I mentioned to Craig just yesterday that I was considering calling Arthur's to see if this was something that they made themselves or if it was a product that could be purchased in bulk, but was not supported in my efforts by my veggie hating hubby. Actually, he laughed at me and said "whatever." It no longer seemed like a good idea.

All things changed tonight when we went to National Coney for dinner. Craig had a hankering for a coney dog and as I perused the menu I discovered that they offered a Gardenburger. I tried not to get my hopes up but when my food arrived I nearly kissed the waitress. It was the same patty, but was clearly prepared differently. Grilled, no cheese, and sesame seed bun. Coney also served it with a side of horseradish-like junk that was certain to spoil the treat and a big hunk of lettuce and not-so-fresh tomatoes. It was so D-Lish. Yes that is a capital D. So exciting. Not quite as good as Arthur's, but I suspect that if I got a Gardenburger at Coney to go, took it home, and doctored it a little I could get pretty close. Can't wait to try.

Now, if only I could find a suitable substitute for AE Skim Chocolate Milk, Kitchen Cooked Cheese Kurls, Caffeine Free Diet Mountain Dew, Los Agaves, Pizza and Subs, Osaka, and Grinders this place might just be OK.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Another awkward moment in my life. I find myself as a recluse in a dark corner of the laundry mat curiously scanning the room for quarters that have tucked under the corner of a machine somewhere. There are none. Laundry became #1 priority this morning as I realized that my last clean outfit was worn two days ago. You can rationalize a lot at the fair. I can always find someone smellier, dirtier, and sweatier then me--making it OK to wait just one more day for laundry. Then the unthinkable happens. I stop at the restroom to--well--what else do you stop at the restroom for? I carefully set my shower bag on the back of the toilet because there is no way I'm putting it on the floor and there are no hooks. I finish emptying my bladder for the 3rd time already this morning and flush. Then out of nowhere, my last pair of clean underwear makes an appearance in the toilet. I am thrown into an instant dilemma. To retrieve or not to retrieve? Time is of the essence. I will not get my fingers wet because I do have standards, you know. I must act quickly. Turning my head to the side I make a dive for it. Success. Now what? I stand there holding my dripping item in my hand contemplating my next move. The trash or the towel? Towel wins and I'm off to the laundry mat. It is not easy being me.

It has been a week since I have seen my Craig. 11 nights since I have slept in my own bed. If I weren't scheduled to work in Iowa a few days this week I'd leave right now. It is not that I am not having a good time with my family or at the fair, but more that I just feel so unsettled. 5 consecutive nights is as long as I have spent at home since we moved. I know that I will return to a house decorated with packing paper, cardboard boxes, and miscellaneous household items strewn about. I know that it will be in desperate need of a good cleaning. Yet, I long for the rhythm of daily life that I have only truly felt when at home.

More than anything, I feel thankful. How many people wander through life never feeling a rhythm? Just living day to day and having a constant feeling of unsettledness (if that is even a word). At least I know that the day will come soon when I can quit living out of the trunk of my car and be home with my husband and that peace within will find me once again.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Dixie Bunny

Oops. I didn't mean to forget this on my last post. It was an honest mistake. One other significant thing that has happened in our lives is the loss of our sweet pet rabbit, Dixie. We knew that the day was coming because there is nothing too promising about a 9 year old rabbit with a 6 year life span, but it is sad to see her go none the less. The timing of it all is still a bit crazy to me. In anticipation of our move we spent a lot of time trying to decide what the most humane thing to do with her was with our options being 1. move her with us, 2. Give her to a rabbit santuary (there is such a place, I checked). 3. Have her humanely put down, 4. Leave her in our Davenport house as a gift to the new homeowners, and 5. Try to find her a new home.

As time marched on, no suitible adoptors applied, and our move date rapidly approached we began to feel more and more convicted that we had chosen her as our pet (along with her sister who we had to put down after an encounter with a puppy that was a little too playful), and we needed to be with her until her time was up. So, we carefully considered how to best transport her so she'd have to spend the least amount of time possible cooped up in the pet taxi.

At the new house, Craig dutifully spent an evening building a rabbit run in the garage to be moved to the basement and upon completion learned that a 4x8 sheet of plywood will NOT fit down our basement stairs, which incidentally led to our first disagreement in our new home. Dixie ended up living in the garage, but the weather had been mild and she seemed to like it there....until the day I came home on an already bad day and found her with her head on crooked and breathing funny. No lie. It was crooked and I knew that she was near the end. Although I thought she looked rather comfortable Craig and Maddie thought we should take her to the vet so I started making phone calls.

The first conversation went something like this:

"Yes, um, Hello. I have an elderly rabbit that doesn't seem to be doing too well. We just moved and she was fine but now is not moving much and her head is on crooked."
"Ok, what is her name?"
"My name?"
"No, the pet's name"
"Thank you. Now what doesn't seem right about her?"
"Um, she's not moving much and her head is on crooked."
"Hmmm. What time can you bring your dog in?"
"I don't have a dog. This is a rabbit."
"Oh, I'm sorry, we don't have a rabbit vet available until Friday (2 days away), would you like to make an appointment?"
"No thanks, I don't think that she will make it that long."

Vet's office #2 answered the phone as the something to the tune of "Exotic Pet Specialists." I knew that they were going to be pricy, but what do you do, so I made an appointment for 45 minutes later then returned to the garage and found my little punkin seizing. Seriously? Have you ever seen a rabbit seize? Let me just say that it is an experience. Sigh. Within a very short time she was gone. It was a very sad afternoon at our house. We buried her in the back yard when Craig got home. Unfortunately, this was one of the first times our neighbors observed us outside as a family. Now they think we're strange I'm sure.

While being pet-less was kind of strange at first, we have decided that it is kind of nice. We can plan to be gone from home without concerns of how she'll get fed or how bad she'll smell when we get home. No plans for any new pets anytime soon.

No Masterpiece today

I really really really need to blog. There is so much I want to write about. So many thoughts swirling around in my head that I want to put into words...or try to anyway. I have sat down with my laptop and started so many entries that it is ridiculous. Often I feel that for something to be published it has to be some sort of masterpiece. It doesn't, I know--and often isn't for that matter--but I still feel like nothing is worth publishing. Therefore, I am just going to do a brief synopsis of the last few weeks.

  • Internet. We finally have internet again. For the last few weeks in the QCA our internet was very sporadic and often inaccessible. I realized just how much I use online services for everything from checking movie listings to news to weather, but most of all social networking. How I missed my e-mail, facebook, and blogging.
  • Moving. Sigh. I never want to move again. Most of the boxes are unpacked, but we moved into a much larger house, so there is so much that still needs to be done. We have a mismatched recliner, loveseat, and beanbag chair functioning as our living room furniture at the moment. Our only hooked up tv is an old 19 incher as we try to decide whether to go with a wall mount above the fireplace or one on an entertainment center in the corner. Both have their advantages, disadvantages, and price tags. My goal for each day is to keep the kitchen clean. It is the only room that is completely done, but a constant struggle to keep from becoming a junk heap for other works in progress.
  • Kids. Madison has been with us most of the summer and my niece, Brooke, came back with us last week after a quick trip to Iowa. It is wonderful to spend time with them, but also makes me feel very guilty. I want to just play, go for walks, and do fun things with them, but there is so much that needs to be done around the house that I can't devote all of my attention to them. That is hard and they've been quite the troopers, but I still feel bad for not being much fun. Last night we did take them to a Detroit Tigers game, though, which they both seemed to really enjoy, and tonight we're staying in a hotel with a pool on our way back to Iowa once again.
  • Traveling. Oh my. I am so sick of being in the car it is not funny. Last week I spent 40 hours in the car in 4 days. I was so glad to be at each destination and was glad to go to all of the places that I went, but am really not looking forward to another drive back to Iowa.
  • Family time. Yeah. Last week I was able to have some really nice family time together with my Dad's side of the family. The occasion was tragic--the funeral of my 21 year old cousin, Brandon, who was fatally injured in a hiking accident in the Grand Tetons--but it was so good to all be together. My heart is so broken for my aunt, uncle, and cousins who lost their son and brother so young and suddenly, but was also so refreshed by their faith that God is walking along side of them in the valley that they have found themselves in. Once again, God is good to us even when life hurts--which it has certainly done its share of lately. The sense of loss is overwhelming again as I consider all that has happened in the last year. Unbelievable.
  • More family time. This weekend is the once-every-three-years reunion for the Nieuwsmas. I am sure that there is a word for that, but I don't know it. I am so looking forward to reconnecting with aunts, uncles, and cousins that I haven't seen for a while. There is nothing that compares to our family time of sharing and Sunday morning worship together. I can't wait.
  • Missing my peeps. Since I have kept so busy in the house since the move I really haven't taken the opportunity to meet the neighbors too much or connect with the community. This makes me really yearn to just have lunch with a good friend. It has been so hard being away from our church family in the QCA as well as my close friends. I did have a treat last Sunday, though, and got to spend a little time with my friend Mary, when we both happened to be out of town in the same town. That was a blessing to me.
  • Work. I really need to get started on my job hunt here. I did get my Michigan nursing license and just need to get back to a few contacts, but honestly don't feel ready to start back into career mode yet. Hopefully soon. In the meantime, I am still picking up hours in Iowa when I am there.

That's enough for now. I'm thinking it would be best to fix some lunch and get on the road. Have a great day and safe travels to all.

Thanks for listening,