Phoenix Bound: Day 5

Santa Fe, NM to Phoenix, AZ

Our last day was pretty uneventful, which was probably for the best:

-In the morning, David gave us a nice brief tour of downtown Santa Fe. Only 2 building styles are allowed by city codes, one of which is the adobe style as above. The town is celebrating 400 years next year. Whoa.

-I-40 through western New Mexico continues to be an incredible landscape. Welcome to the great Southwest.

-We stopped to feed Maggie in the middle of nowhere: A souvenir shop, with adjacent gas and restaurant, both of which were not boarded up.

-I wonder how many m.p.g. we scored from Flagstaff to Phoenix, since we pretty much coasted as we dropped 5000 ft in altitude in less than 2 hours.

-Safe arrival in Scottsdale, and Maggie gets to see Grandma!


Gratuitous Maggie Photos

We do realize that a substantial portion of the readership of this blog cannot understand why we are posting anything besides photos of Maggie, and are constantly clamoring for more. And we want to pander to that - I mean, honor that.

Above, in the boppy. Below, in her swimsuit from her Grammy.

Phoenix Bound: Day 4

Denver, CO to Santa Fe, NM

-Said goodbye to the Zillingers as the kids headed off to the 1st day of school. Ah, memories.
-Very nice mountains all the way down.
-We stopped at a picturesque rest stop (below), after passing by one that literally had just a garbage can. No bathroom, benches, shade, nothing. Why bother?
-New Mexico signs read "Gusty Winds May Exist", which is about the most non-committal statement I could imagine.
-Had lunch in Las Vegas, NM, at a Mexican restaurant that advertised Happy Hour from 12pm-8pm. Well, it is "Vegas", after all...
-Arrived safely in the wonderful hospitality of Eric's cousin David Guck, and his awesome family: Eileen, and their two boys, Deklan and Austin. Maggie had lots of lovely toys to play with.
-Learned Santa Fe is actually a higher altitude (about 7500ft) than Tenwek hospital in Kenya, where we're headed.

North! Or Be Eaten

This may or may not allude to our future plans, but more on that later. What I'm actually referring to in this blog is Andrew Peterson's newest book. Some of you faithful blog followers may remember us reviewing his first book, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, which is how we got into blog reviewing in the first place. Now, 18 months later, part 2 of the planned trilogy is out. And can I say, it is a worthy sequel indeed.

Normally, I try my hardest not to start reading a series of books before the entire series has been released. Otherwise I run into major difficulties in the patience department while waiting for the story to continue....think Harry Potter (which I picked up when book 4 was released), Eragon (started reading when Eldest was released), or, the biggest mistake of all, the epic Wheel of Time series (I say mistake because I started reading it 6 years ago, and it's still not done, and I have since forgotten the entire complicated plot). Well, as referenced from this list, I guess I usually start reading a series before all the books are out. Anyway, this is also the case with the Andrew Peterson books. I only used this entire long introduction to say that book 2 was worth the wait, and I will now have to suffer another 1-2 years to wait for the conclusion of the engaging Wingfeather Saga.

Andrew is one of those rare individuals that is gifted in all areas of art: he sings and composes, he draws (many drawings featured in this new book), and he writes a mean fantasy story. It's hard to invent a new world that doesn't draw too heavily on Tolkien or Lewis, but he seems to have done it, mixing fantasy with a little bit of ridiculousness. Definitely a book that needs to be read in series after the first, Peterson picks up the story right where he left off. He tantalizes the reader with mysteries about his characters and world that he reveals just a little bit at a time, enough to keep the reader engaged and hoping for more, more to be revealed even in the last book (but lets hints slip out along the way)

Overall, a great read. Check it out here.


Phoenix Bound: Day 2

Des Moines, IA to Denver, CO

-Must have been good rains this year, since the western Iowa corn is a healthy green.
-Brief stop in Seward, NE with Rachel's cousin Nathan and wife Heather. Picture a classic urban starving artist studio apartment and place it above a hardware store on the square of a rural Nebraska county seat. Interesting juxtaposition.
-Yet they have 4 coffee makers (yes, a french press is a coffee maker.)

-Lunch in Kearney, NE, near a giant wooden archway over the highway.
-We hit the grassland, and Eric was impressed by the degree of desolation. No trees, homes, or crops anywhere.
-We made good time into Denver to stay with the Zillinger family (Rachel's cousin, husband, and 5 kids, 3 of which are pictured below).

-We spent Day 3 of the journey hanging out in Denver, giving Maggie a much-needed road respite. But she did really well, all things together. Hopefully she won't have too much trouble getting onto Pacific time.


Phoenix Bound: Day 1

Ann Arbor, MI to Des Moines, IA

A few months ago, we would have made this journey in two long days, but we're taking five days now. The advantage is that we get to see many more people, and enjoy more rest stops. Thanks Maggie!

Day 1:

-On-time departure from the Fader household.
-Only $0.40 in Chicago tolls!
-We remembered what the Quad Cities are.
-Eastern Iowa is much prettier than we remembered.
-Early dinner in Iowa City with Eric's old friend Jeremy Knapp and his wife Jin-ah. Totally awesome Korean food, including sesame leaves! We also learned that kimchi is apparently not just cabbage. Hopefully we can visit the Knapps in Syria in a couple years.

-We found a geocache with a travel bug that wants to go to the Indian Ocean, so we can take it to Kenya! (Disregard if this doesn't make sense) -We spent the night with Eric's cousin Heather in Des Moines. It was awesome, and we were enthralled by Heather's independent establishing of her home as a ministry house for single moms, despite staying busy as a high school teacher, who is about to be deployed again for a year to Iraq. Her hospitality is simply inspiring. Incredible...and she makes a mean blueberry pancake.


Duke Interlude

Having been chastened for belated blogging by my 3-month old, I resume...

After our weeklong Samaritan's Purse orientation in Boone, NC, we got to spend a great (albeit brief) day with our friends, Dan and Kelly Rocke, in Durham, where Dan is becoming a superhuman ENT Doctor-Lawyer-Professional Athlete, and Kelly is busy blogging about baby Calvin's antics. (see sidebar blog roll)

This was great, because in addition to seeing some really wonderful friends, and watching little babies interact, we got a personal tour of Duke, which neither of us had ever gotten to see. It's gorgeous. As in, it may be the prettiest college campus I've seen in the US. Dan tells me that all the matching stone buildings are finished, because they have run out of stone. Whoa. And the Duke gardens are easily one of the most impressive gardens I have had the chance to tour. Just so you know. If you're in the area. And Dan recommends the Q Shack for dinner.

Back to Michigania!

As you faithful readers have no doubt noticed, my mommy and daddy have been rather deliquent in their blogging as of late, and so I've decided to take up the task of web documentation. Again. Sheesh. With my increasing girth, you'd think that pulling my own weight would be a big enough job, but if you want something done, you should do it yourself, I guess.

We are currently in Denver, but we're not ready to talk about that yet. 2 weeks ago, we left Tennessee, and I made my way back to my birth state of Michigan. It was like seeing it with new eyes. Interesting culture. My daddy tells me that to understand Michiganders, you have to know 2 things: Hot dogs and Apples. See, everywhere else (in my vast experience), these are fairly generic items. But not in Michigan. A hot dog? What kind? Gourmet? Kosher? And apples... You may think there are about 5 varieties of apples, but don't get a Michigander started. They're probably grafting a new variety in their backyard right now.

We had a few quiet days in Ann Arbor and saw some good friends, then off to Holland on Lake Michigan to see the Dykstras. We got to take a walk along the lake, and enjoy the mixture of fresh water lakes and the scent of the Heinz pickle factory.

Then down to St. Joseph, Michigan, for my (first) cousin (once removed) 's wedding. Mommy tells me that Alex and Tabitha have been engaged for an awful long time, so it was great to see them tie the knot. And I got to meet so many new family members! I met Linda, John, Micheal, Becca, Stephanie, Tom, Bill, Nancy, Tyler, Britta, and Daniel! I also got to see my grandparents and aunts and uncles (and chunkles) again.

But best of all, I got to meet my Great Grammy and Great Papa! I've been waiting to meet them for so long, and finally the moment came. Daddy and Grammy didn't want to, but I forced them all to take a 4 generation picture with me. I looked bored, but trust me, I wasn't.

Did I mention they were a happy couple? Alex and Tabitha Blanski.


Despite our best efforts to instill only the most Victorian values into our daughter, she really did seem to be enjoying the company of little Calvin Rocke. Yikes.


Before We Have Given

Maggie has taught us many things. This has resulted in one song in addition to the little lullaby posted earlier. The seeds of this song came from the first night at home with Maggie, where she cried for five hours straight. Truth be told, she's been really great since then, but the lesson was learned nonetheless. It's a rough recording, but hopefully you can enjoy.

Before We Have Given

Little girl, your words come in torrents of battle cries
Swords through our hearts
You’ve marked us from the start
And Rich would sing about Wounds of Love
And I guess that’s what you’ve given out

Before even one syllable has crossed your lips
You’ve broken us apart
Marked us from the start
Exposing all our fears and doubts
All our fears and insufficiencies

And so it would seem, that it is given us…

To wound before we are wounded
To love only after we are loved
To gain before we have given anything

And so, I suppose, it was with me twenty-eight years ago
Now that they came and went
I see how these years were spent
So Frederich asks
“What is friendship but all of this anyways?”

So now we arrive in our infant size and throes of cries
Before even I can stand
I’ll call myself a self-made man
And all of the fathers and the mothers and the heavens laugh

Grace is no illusion
It’s no optimist dream
We breathe it in with our first breath
And it has since been in our bloodstream


Cultured, Tennessee Style

In addition to seeing lots of friends and family, our 3.5 weeks in Tennessee were also a chance to dive back into southern culture, after a longstanding sojourn in Yankee territory. Though we both sound like Upper Midwesterners through and through, we found tons of things to enjoy. One of those was taking Maggie on her first hike. We stopped by Sewanee, at the foot of the Appalachians, and decided to take a brief hike down to Bridal Veil Falls, which weren't much to see, but the whole scenery was wonderful, and Maggie loved (most of) it.

Last week, Grammy and Grandpa Tim volunteered to babysit, so just the two of us went out for a night on the town, but being in Nashville that meant whole hog BBQ with a side of auto repair. We had heard from our friend Nato that this hole-in-the-wall BBQ shack was getting rave reviews nationwide, and so we had to partake. It was Dixie-proud to the bone-with delicious meat and sauces. And yes, they share the building with an auto repair shop, and I'm sure wouldn't have it any other way.

One important local part of Tennessee life is Eric's home for four summers, Camp Widjiwagan, a YMCA day camp, now with overnight camp as well. We got to go out to dinner with the director, and Maggie got to pose in her "Future Widjiwagan Camper". She matched her dad, since he chose an old camp shirt for the occassion, but has so many of them, odds were high he would have one on anyways.

Fun with Family

Sami never could keep a straight face. But she married Jonathan, who casts a mean glare.
Maggie was excited to see them as well. Aunt Jena and Chunkle Brian!
But she saved her cutest face for Uncle Jonathan.

Tribute to Friends: Part Deux

We have officially departed Nashville, and are now back in Michigan for a bit. We'll try and relay some highlights, and here's a few pictures of some of the great friends we got to spend time with. Thanks to all for making room in your schedules. We really appreciate it. Though this is far from an exhaustive list, the absence of the Goggans and Ragan families, Ryan Pryor, and Amy Fogleman is conspicuous, and needs to be noted.
Above is a beer and cheese tasting at Whole Foods with Mariah and Jonathan, Sarah and Trevor Matheisen, and Beckie Stokes. Below is Eric and Chris Cropsey with Emma and Maggie.
Luke Tomycz, brain surgeon and natural baby-holder.
A long awaited reunion with Josh Deane.