Tuesday, October 31, 2006

(Practically) November

We did it. We went out on a date. After buying pizza for the kids, our dinner out, the movie (& required snacks) and paying the babysitter, we remembered why we don't go out often! Boy, it adds up, but was worth it. We saw The Prestige, which was dark, but thought it was pretty good.

Today is Halloween, which our family doesn't celebrate. We don't ban our kids from all things Halloween, that's pretty much impossible. Claire had her "fall party" at school, but truly it was a Halloween party, complete with spider hats, bat-shaped cookies and pumpkin face painting. Claire understands that we don't celebrate it, and basically we've told her that some people make Halloween very scary and God doesn't give us a spirit of fear. We definitely don't want to be a 'We don't celebrate Halloween - it's evil and you are too' kind of family (which we totally don't agree with). If you're wondering why we don't celebrate, here's a link to an article that I found which is a pretty good explanation.

One thing we will celebrate today is my mom's birthday, she's flying in and staying a few days with us. We're all looking forward to her visit, especially the kids, as we haven't seen her in nearly a year! It makes me sad that so much time goes by between visits, but we're grateful to see her today. Happy Birthday Mom!

So we still have no news on our house. We've accepted the very real fact that it may not sell until next year. Now that it's (practically) November and the holidays are nearing, our chances of getting an offer are rapidly declining. This fact makes us so grateful for having housing in Rochester provided to us. Were we having to pay rent in addition to our mortgage, it would be impossible. God is good.

And I'm sad to report that we've lost a loved one... Stars the fish has "passed on" (to the toilet bowl). Stars belonged to Nolan and he took it very well, actually, he didn't really care. Claire sobbed huge tears as she cried "I'll miss him!". We're blessed that this is the only tragedy our kids have had to face. Stars was quickly replaced, by a goldfish named Stink. Ah kids, ya gotta love 'em!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Date Night

As you can probably tell by now, I'm all over the map with this blog. What can I say? I'm a Sanguine! No, not a penguin, a Sanguine. Or at least that's what Hippocrates would say. I've taken many personality tests over the years and am visiting the subject yet again. I'm reading A Woman's Guide to the Temperaments: How Understanding Your Personality Type Can Enrich Your Relationship With Your Husband And Your Kids. It lays out the positives and negatives of different personality types and I immediately thought of several friends and family members as I read the descriptions. There are many books on the subject, and many different types of tests. Very interesting...

It's Friday night and DATE NIGHT! Kelly and I are going on an actual, bonafide DATE! Dinner, movie, babysitter, the works. It's been months since we've hired a sitter (not since we said goodbye to our beloved Ruthie). Kelly & I are looking forward to seeing a movie that's not animated and the kids are excited about Abbie coming over to play.

Wednesday was Parent's Night at Awana. I attended with Claire, and Kelly joined Nolan's class. It was so fun to watch Claire as she ran relays with a team and cheered "Let's Go Blue, Let's Go!" (It's a new cheer, mom!). And her scripture memorization is fantastic. I was hesitant when we first signed up, as we're an early-bedtime family, but the later evening once a week is worth it. I highly recommend it!

Kelly has 2 playoff football games tomorrow, let's hope the sun stays out. He heads to Lakeville in the afternoon and Jordan tomorrow night. Tuesday he found himself in Duluth - his crew chief loves those games!!

Fall remains beautiful, as we're able to shed our winter coats for a few days. (Isn't funny when we think 45 degrees is warm??) Sunshine definitely brings an improvement in overall attitude.

May your weekend be filled with warmth & sunshine!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I Want to Be Transformed

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God -- which is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2

If you are Christian, have spent time in church or reading the Bible, the above passage is probably familiar. I read it again while hastily doing my bible study "homework" this week. The study is called Real Faith and it's a back-to-basic study, a fantastic reminder of what studying the Bible and being a Christian is all about. The passage wasn't for study however, but used as an example of how to break down scripture for interpretation and application.

I couldn't help but be confronted by the words.

Most of my adult life, I've always said that I've longed to give more of myself to the Lord. That if only I had a little more time in my day, I'd spend it with Him. Well, since we've moved, I find myself with more time than I know what to do with. Our life has been pared down to the essential. Housecleaning doesn't fill my time, the apartment is small and easy to maintain. Laundry is done just 1 or 2 days a week, due to the facilities. I am not working outside of the home, a luxury I hope to maintain, but one I take for granted, I'm sure. One of my children is in school for half of each day, the other is growing more independent. My excuses have disappeared.

And yet, what have I done with this time? I've mentioned TV shows and silly websites, shopping and eating out. All things which aren't necessarily bad, but too many of these consume my time.

I don't bring this up because I want to change you, but because I want to be transformed. I seem to have a long list of prayer requests, but my time spent in prayer is minimal. I want to be transformed. When I think of this word, I can't help but think of the toy. I never played with Transformers myself, but the image of changing into something or someone totally new and fresh comes to mind, with new perspective and ability.

God's will is good, pleasing and perfect. I want to be in agreement with Him, to know that our needs are and will be met, perfectly. To erase the doubt, the questions I have about the way things sometimes happen. I can't do this without offering God all that I have, all that I am.

I know of many people, friends and family, who are experiencing a time of transition. Hard times right now. We are waiting to hear what the next step is going to be. I don't know what will happen from here, but I do know my next step: one that is humbly closer to my God. I am so thankful He allows me to come.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A Day On The Train

The passengers have returned! After a quick change of plans, we made the voyage to Wisconsin (we stayed overnight in Red Wing, Minn., before heading to LaCrosse to spend the day on Friday and returned that evening). Here are a few of the highlights...

Waiting for the train to arrive in Red Wing

On board Empire Builder No. 8

At the Station

Playing at the Children's Museum of LaCrosse

Trains & Bridges at the Children's Museum

Firefighter at Work

Beloved Prizes at Chuck E Cheese

Engineer in the Making

I am officially a fan of Amtrak! The ride was smooth, stops were short, and a fun experience overall (though I didn't envy those passengers riding from Chicago to Seattle, especially those sitting in coach!)

We enjoyed swimming in the indoor-outdoor pool at our hotel, though no one got any sleep... And our day in LaCrosse included lunch at Chuck E Cheese, a movie, the Children's Museum and dinner at The Train Station BBQ. It was quick and fun and we made
memories to last a lifetime.

Amtrak's Empire Builder

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Why I Love Wednesdays

Wednesdays are great days. To some, they're "blah" days - the middle of the week, busy, and not close enough to the weekends. I used to work every Wednesday evening. I had 2 Wednesdays off in 2 years (really). But now...

I LOVE WEDNESDAYS. It's Awana night! I love that the kids are going to church, memorizing Bible verses and learning truths about Jesus. They're running around, making friends, being loud and eating cookies. They wear their vests, earn patches and are part of a team. Everything kids should do. And Kelly & I get date night! We have an hour and a half of uninterrupted shopping, talking, sitting, teasing, laughing, playing, out-and-about time. Tonight, however, Kelly had a football game in Mankato so I had a date with myself, which was also very nice (though I did miss my guy). I forgot what a treat it was to sit alone in a restaurant and read a book.

I love my children. They are really good kids. They are funny and smart and challenging. And I realize that I only have 2... I often think of friends who have much larger families, or infant twins (and a toddler!), and am fully aware that I have it pretty easy. And I have a wonderful husband who is a full partner in parenting and in our household. Yes, I have it better than easy. But, to have a break from the "MOMOMOMOMOMOMOMOMOM" which resonates in our home, Yogos in the nose (a yogo is a small round yogurt covered
fruit snack and the nose was Nolan's), the dishes, the driving and the countless other things that come with parenthood, I'm grateful for a bit of me time.

And another reason I favor Wednesdays is Project Runway. Tonight was the finale. It's been my guilty (very guilty, really) pleasure, thanks to Bravo - courtesy of Crossroads College! Who would have thought! For any other watchers out there... what do you think of Jeffrey as the winner??

May we all see the beauty and opportunity in every day!
Here's to Wednesday!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Tropical Delusions

It's a rainy Monday. A perfect day to daydream of a tropical vacation. Warm sand, blue ocean, fruity drinks, the smell of suntan lotion and days spent lounging in the sun. Sigh...

It's MEA weekend coming up, which means no school Thurs and Friday. We do have a trip planned, but it's not quite as described above. The Spann Fam is headed to the station - the railroad station. We're taking the Amtrak Empire Builder #8 to La Crosse, Wisconsin for an overnight trip. We'll stay at a hotel with a small tropical-themed waterpark (Kelly & I can pretend we're somewhere exotic). We plan to hit a children's museum and possibly take in a movie. The kids (especially Nolan, who is our own little engineer) are very excited. We're looking forward to a great weekend.

Since I won't be burying my feet in the sand today, maybe I'll bury my nose in a good book - while sipping something warm and steamy... sounds almost as good!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Fred, OJ & Little House

Just another sign that I've been spending too much time on the internet...

Celebrity Face Recognition
While browsing the 'net, I came across myheritage.com, a website where you download a picture of yourself, and using 'Face Detection Technology', they tell you which celebs you resemble (or vice versa). The website says it's "taken the internet by storm" so maybe it's old news, just new to me.

Anyway, apparently, Melissa Gilbert (of Little House on the Prairie) and Mare Winningham (of... other things, but I don't know what) are who I look like most. (I was waiting for Molly Ringwald to come up, because once upon a time many people told me I resembled her, but that was also when I had thinner cheeks and redder hair...)

One of Kelly's top matches was OJ Simpson! I can totally see it! (And think it's absolutely hilarious!)

I ran both Claire & Nolan's photos and Fred Savage came up for both of them.

This is particularly comical because when I was in those ever-so-painfully-akward middle school years, I was given the nickname "Kevin" (Fred Savage's character on the Wonder Years). Yeah, I loved that. I've since shared that memory with friends who think it's funny and even like to bring it up occasionally. Good times.

So, that brings me to you... when you have several minutes to waste and nothing better to do, find your celebrity match! The site also looks like it offers other cool features, too, like creating a family website and genealogy info. FYI: You do have to register, but it's minimal and free.

Have Fun!

ps - do I need a job or what?!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

La La How The Life Goes On

Last night we attended a Crown volleyball game. Seems it would be simple to understand, but not so much for our family. After speaking to April Fisk (and buying 3 pounds of cookie dough from Micah!) we decided to drive an hour over to Owatonna, Minn. to watch the Storm take on the Pillsbury Comets. When we told the kids what we had planned, they were ready to cheer on the girls! You see, in the six-or-so weeks we've been in Rochester, we've spent much time reminding the kids that we were now cheering for the Knights, instead of the Storm. Nolan still says CROWN COLLEGE as we drive into Crossroads about 30% of the time.

So at the Crown game, we cheered for them all - the Storm, the Knights, Crown and Crossroads. We're a multi-college loving family! We convinced the rest of the Fisk family to make the trek to Owatonna, and a great time was had by all. The Storm won in 3 games, the kids played with their much-missed friends and feasted on candy (the official snack of college athletic events) and Kelly & I caught up with the Fisks, be it ever so briefly. I was warmly greeted by many of the girls I had in a small group bible study I hosted last season. It was so nice to see familiar faces.

Seeing friends is always bitter-sweet: It's fun, and gives us a deeper appreciation for our friendships, but also makes us realize just how much we miss everyone.

Life continues for us here. The volleyball and soccer seasons are winding down, basketball will begin soon. (Oh the athletic life - we're defined by the seasons!) Kelly is doing an excellent job of reshaping the athletic department here at Crossroads. He's still officiating varsity football on Friday nights and this week should be a doozy (see next paragraph). And sadly, he sorely watched his Cowboys hand Sunday's game to the Eagles... his new hat didn't do any good.

Brrrr... It's cold - flurries and all. We're thinking of hibernating until spring, although Claire is praying for snow to play in. She loves it - she declared that winter was her favorite season. Kelly & Nolan, on the other hand, want nothing of it. Getting a coat on Nolan takes much pursuading (some call it bribing, I call it incentive). I, personally, am desperately trying to hold on to fall. Weather.com gave this forecast at 8am: 36 degrees. Feels like 20. Yikes.

Any baseball positions open in Miami?

Friday, October 06, 2006


I do love to blog.

I like to think that there are people (namely our friends and family) who are reading this, keeping up with the adventure that is the Spanns. Whether there are readers or not, I still enjoy the "creative release" it brings. I know I'm not a phenomenal writer, but I like to put my thoughts to paper, er, keyboard. If there are those who check in on us once in awhile, leave a comment or email us to let us know you're reading. Even if I'm writing to myself, I'll continue, if only because I enjoy it so much!

One particular part of our life that I've failed to mention is our goals for weight-loss and general improved health. I've left out this detail on purpose. Kelly has no problem sharing, but I'm the one who is self-conscious. So here it is: We're trying to lose weight and get in shape. Whew - that wasn't so bad.

We've joined the YMCA here in Rochester, and while it isn't a new, state-of-the-art fitness facility, it's a great place for us. There are people of all shapes and sizes, all of the machines and classes we need, friendly staff, and probably most important - a great kids-care program included in our membership.

Kelly has already begun losing weight, I'm not seeing such results. My endurance has increased, however, as I now can do hills for 30 minutes on the elliptical machine without feeling like I'm on death's door. Today I started a food and exercise journal, as I already know that it's the food part of the equation that's stalling my efforts. I will not give up, however. Just promise that the next time you see me you'll wait until I'm not looking to see if I've had any success!

So now that I've heaved that load off my chest (and soon to be my backside!), I wish you and yours a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Field Trip

On Wednesday, Claire and her fellow kindergarteners went on a field trip to Northwoods Apple Orchard. Mom went along too, a great time was had by all. Here's a few of the highlights...

Mrs. Stekel's AM Kindergarten Class

Claire & Freddie making their way through the corn maze

Top Hat - (apparently) the funniest rooster in Minnesota

We saw goats, chickens, pigs & bunnies... we picked apples... we sang songs... and made our way through the corn maze, finding clues along the way.

We plan to return to the orchard as a family, and highly recommend the experience to others! Big kids, little kids, everyone can enjoy the smell of sweet apples and crisp fall air! (Even if it was 85 degrees on Monday. That's Minnesota for ya!)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Sports Sports Sports

It was a rather busy weekend for the Athletic Director at Crossroads College. As I've mentioned before, Kelly IS the entire athletic department. He does have one work-study student help him out a few hours each week, but the budget is very tight and Kelly actually had to "let go" a second student he had hired due to budget restraints.

Friday night consisted of a volleyball tri-match (3 matches in one evening) and a soccer match. Saturday was Parent's Day, which saw another volleyball tri-match and a second soccer match as well as a presentation by Kelly to the parents in the morning and a picnic in the afternoon. The difficult part was that the sporting events were taking place at the same time in different locations, about 15 minutes away. The same line judges worked both games, so it was a little tricky, but Kelly pulled it off. He had rave reviews for his "speech", filled with humor and sincerity, of course, and earned bonus points for acknowledging the parents with flowers, photos & thanks at each of the games (something which hadn't been done before).

Today brings 2 more home sporting events, we haven't seen all that many this year. Soccer and volleyball both play Pillsbury, to which Crossroads is pretty evenly matched. Men's soccer has previously tied with the Comets and volleyball lost in 5 close games when they last met. Hopefully the Knights can pull it off.

All this means I'm put to work too! My duty is to create the Game Day sheets for each game (a stat sheet - with rosters, school info, etc). Kelly considered listing me under my maiden name as the SID - just to make it look like Crossroads has an athletic staff - but we decided against it!

On another (sporting) note: Kelly is going to the Twins playoff game tomorrow with a friend and former assistant coach, John Cerney. This he needs to do. We're so grateful to be making friends - and to have Jeff & Ang Morgan as "built-ins" (easy, wonderful friends we can relax and have a great time with!) but Kelly is still lacking relationships in his day-to-day life. And he doesn't get out much - living & working on campus can take it's toll.
Let's hope the Twins call pull off a victory, too!