What’s Going On?

So, here we are — its fall now, right? Yes, it’s been a long time since I’ve written on the old blog. I really do want to get more consistent with the whole blogging thing! But then again, I have no apologies! So, what’s been happening since I last gave a good family update? Let me list a few things:

  • We took a little family trip to Washington DC in August. Did we see any of the typical attractions? Nope. It was just fun to get away! But then again, we did get to attend an awesome Romney 2012 rally in Springfield, VA. Yes, I got to shake Paul Ryan’s hand!
  • Summer was very hot. I see it on my electric bill. I don’t have too many complaints, though. It’s still not a whole lot more than we used to pay in our apartment, which was half the square-footage of our house.
  • Our church’s big events in the summer all went extremely well. I was able to spend the week at our camp in Hanover.
  • We have now been homeowners for a year now! We love it. And our yard is starting to really look nice, after a year of it looking like a football field after 4 hours of cleats.
  • I learned through multiple sources that, when typing, the thing is now that you’re only supposed to put one space after a period, not two. I have started doing that. Also, I heard that the Oxford comma is way out of style. But I still use it. It makes way more sense to me.
  • I have continued to gain a lot of software development knowledge through my employer. Actually, in about 10 days, I get to go to a training course put on by Oracle at my company’s headquarters in New Hampshire. My family gets to come with me for the week also.
  • God has blessed in so many ways. I could easily name a hundred things he’s done in our lives and others’ in the last several months.

And I think that’s it. Oh…wait, you all probably wanted to hear about ALLEN, not us. Oh, pictures! You want to see those too? Okay, if you want.

Staying in the family business…
Looking mischievous…yes, he can crawl now.
Being a ham for the camera…
Crazy sideways cap…
Definitely just smiling a fake smile for the camera…
I just think this picture is awesome…

Lately, Allen has learned to sit up, pull himself up to stand, crawl, and pick things up with his thumb and index finger. He’s definitely growing up quickly.

And, as a whole, we are doing great as a family. Allen is starting to understand what “yes” and “no” means, and that it’s not fun to disobey. It’s funny: if only the rest of us could understand when God says “yes” and “no”, and that’s it’s not fun when we disobey Him too.

So, that’s what’s going on right now in Windsor Twp, PA with the Speckhals’. You can follow Andrea or myself on Twitter if you aren’t already. If you don’t have an account, you can still see the things we post.

The Traveler

My apologies for the picture quality–these were all taken from my phone.  Everyone else has the good ones!
Green=car, Red=plane, Blue=bus

This past week, the baby got to travel all over the place.  Over the course of seven days, he was able to see four great-grandparents, five grandparents, seven aunts and uncles, eight second cousins, three great-uncles, three great-aunts, just to mention family members.

We flew out of Baltimore early Saturday morning, and Allen was great on the plane.  He either slept or played the whole trip.

Bound for St. Louis

After a short layover in Detroit, we arrived in St. Louis at about 9:30am local time.  My dad then picked us up at the airport, and we headed to Hermann, Missouri.  This area is where all of my dad’s side of the family came from, back five or six generations to our German ancestors who settled there in the early to mid 1800’s.  We were met by my Grandma and Grandpa Speckhals at their home.  They were thrilled to see the baby (and us too, of course!).  The next day, Andrea and Allen got to meet all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins–including my UNCLE Allen 🙂 .

With Great Grandma and Great Grandpa Speckhals

Late Monday, we were dropped off at the bus station in St. Louis for the five hour trip up to Chicago, to see the rest of the family and attend the Preaching Conference at Fairhaven.  Again, Allen was super on the bus trip.  The bus was well worth it.  It was very clean, spacious, convenient, and had free WiFi the whole trip.  It ended up being only $13.00 a piece.

From Tuesday to Saturday, we stayed in Chesterton, and were privileged to attend all of the Preaching Conference.  Andrea and I were able to go to the Alumni picnic, catch up with friends, and listen to some pointed and convicting messages from several different speakers.

And of course, this was the first time the Leslie side of the family was able to see Allen.  Lindsey was over-thrilled, and probably kissed the little guy about 100 times.  Aunt Sharon was able to fly in from Utah, and Uncle Jim and Aunt Bethany were already in the area, of course.  As an extra blessing, Andrea’s great-grandparents (the Campbells) from Macon, Georgia were able to fly in for the conference.

With Grandpa Leslie
With Grandma Leslie
With Auntie Lindsey
With Great Grandma Campbell

After the conference was over, we spent a day with the Leslies in Chicago while Grandma and Grandpa Campbell and Sharon were dropped off at the airport.  While we were in Chicago, of course we couldn’t pass up Al’s #1 Italian Beef and Garrett’s Popcorn.  Too bad the baby couldn’t be a part of it!

We arrived home at about 9:00pm last night, a little exhausted, but very thankful for the opportunity to travel, attend the Preaching Conference, and have a good amount of quality time with our families.  Now, back to the real world!

So Many Time Zones…

Well, we now span three different time zones with our immediate family alone!  I grew up on Central Standard Time, while Dustin was on Eastern Standard.  We married, and moved to Pennsylvania, so now we are definitely on Eastern Standard time.  My family still operates on Central time, and Dustin’s family are on Central Standard half of the week and Eastern Standard the other half.  That is a long story…feel free to read more about them here!  Dustin’s Dad is on Eastern Standard Time, although he is still in Michigan.  My wonderful sister and kindred spirit Sharon, who moved to Utah to teach in a Christian School there, is now on Mountain Standard Time!

That can make it a little difficult when I want to call family in the evenings…always have to think, “Now what time is it there?”  And not only that, but you have to think about everyone’s schedules, and if they are available at the times you are.

Sharon and I have found the perfect time to talk, however.  I call her between 8-8:30am Tuesdays or Wednesdays on my way to work.  She is beginning her day then (6-6:30am) delivering newspapers.  So it works out perfectly!

Lindsey, on the other hand, is VERY BUSY!  She takes out the school office trash each day, works in the kitchen, hangs out in the snack shop, goes to nursinghome to minister to the elderly, goes out to visit the bus kids, I mean, she is BUSY!  But when you do talk to her, she loves it, and does not want to hang up!  And every phone conversation ends with, “Tomorrow phone tomorrow” (i.e., CALL ME AGAIN TOMORROW!).

On the other hand, it is something to be thankful for.  “In every thing give thanks…” …right?  It is true.  I would never appreciate family the way I do being far away.  Perhaps our own relationship has grown stronger through only having God and each other and not lots of other family members to rely upon. Email conversations and phone calls are something to look forward to.  And going back is such fun…packing up and making the roadtrip together with Dustin.  All of this would not  be if we lived close.  And many things would be taken for granted.  Thank you, Lord even for taking us far away!

Mark 10:28-30

And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,

But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

We are blessed.

What I Learned This Christmas…

1. Husbands tend to overdo the gift-giving!

2. I can’t say I am unhappy about the overdoing…I kind of enjoyed it!

3. There is something special about having the family all together.

4. Getting and wrapping everyone’s gifts is nothing to be stressed out about.

5. Sisters who live in Utah ought to come visit more often!

6. Lindsey is the most enjoyable person to give to.  At nearly twenty years old, you can give her Play Dough, and make her extremely happy!  Then you get repaid in hugs and smiles and enthusiasm over the new gift!

7. Sandy has really good taste in picking out gifts.

8. Jim and his new wife are definitely in love, and apparently have a happy, albeit busy, home.

9. Christmas trips to downtown Chicago are just as fun as they always were.

10. It is good to see loved ones you haven’t seen in a very long time.

11. Daddies are pushovers for daughters!  (And I am not just talking about my Dad and I!)

12. There’s something special about Moms –all of them.

13. Jim is all grown up now…no longer a nerdy little brother!  Just teasing, Jim!

14. Adam and Catie are not grown up…still ner–…I mean,  –sorry about that Adam and Catie!

15. Mom Murdock really does make the best peanut butter balls.

16. Next time I go to Maggianos, I am going to order Chicken with Lemon Picatta!

17. Christmas Goodie trays will never go out of style…not as long as we’re all still munching!

18. Don’t plan to crochet too many scarfs for Christmas gifts…you may not have enough time!

19. It is fun to keep Christmas with friends…friends from around the world…Jamaica, Mongolia…

20. Christmas is all about Emmanuel – “God with us.”

21. We do not deserve a Saviour, but He still came.

And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people…

Luke 1:46,47,68