Just Over that Hill

June 5th, 2018

I have lived in this safe spot for a really long time. When I’m not here, I miss it. Not this house specifically, but this valley, nearly my whole life.
Here is the view off my back porch, one step outside the door, pretty much my view year around. I think of my nature as a home body especially has I’m preparing to leave for our annual trip to North Dakota. This time of year fills me with just a bit of anxiety leaving my familiar little basin where I’m hedged in by mountain ranges, that for me feel safe and comforting. The two hour drive we’re about to set out on brings us to my husband’s childhood landscape which is a wide open landscape for some reason called the Bad Lands. One of the states we’ll stop in is Montana, appropriately known as The Big Sky state. It’s quite beautiful, seeing the sky in a way that we never do here–the land and sky really appear to meet, no trees or mountain ranges obscuring the meeting of land and heaven.

I’d like to have a bit more property to ourselves, but neighborhood living is good for the kids, socially at this point in time. We’ll see how things go in the future, if they do need a bit more space, we’ll find a way to make that happen.
Every year, I enjoy listening to Darren talk about how he’d like to move back to North Dakota and become a farmer again. Just for the twinkle of adventure in his eyes. But then reality sinks in and he says without even my prompting, “We really do have it pretty good where we live. I do like my job, could hardly beat that job.” And home we are.

Sometimes in life, home isn’t where you came from, it’s where you came together.

The true truth behind everything, and above where I’m most comfortable by nature, is that anywhere where Darren is is home for me. If we mutually decided to move to another climate I’d be OK as long as we were together. Apart I just wouldn’t be complete.

Photo A Day Plan

June 4th, 2018

I keep emailing myself a photo with the subject line of whatever I’d like the blog post to be about. Because, reality is that I cannot sit down and write a post in the moment I’m thinking of. Even more reality, sometimes I never reach my desk top computer at all in the space of that 24 hrs that I was thinking of the body of the entry that I intended to go between the photo and subject line. SO!! I believe what I’ll do in order to keep consistent posts rolling in is to put directly in here the photo and subject line, with the intent to fill in the rest under my edit option, that way the glass is more half full than half empty. Perhaps that euphemism doesn’t work for you, but it does for me and I really think that’ll be the plan from here.
Remember the Wordless Wednesday thing that was popular like a decade or so ago? No? Well, consider this a spin off.

I will add the category “Photo A Day 2018”
There are tons of excuses for why I might not have an hour to write down words and edit. Honestly, I hate my excuses, and seriously…there are what, two readers out there?! Maybe. And, you may just scroll for pictures anyway!

Again, if you’re here, THANK YOU!!! I’m leaving like the 20th or so, and will actually pop in some prescheduled photos to appear, in order to keep up with my personal challenge to write daily. For my time away I’ll be able to use the old North Dakota Tales category that I formed many years back. Hurray.

May: When everything got rolling

May 30th, 2018

May 2005. The day my dress arrived.

Matthew 6:32 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.

As I age some memories get fuzzy. My timeline becomes bemuddled, marking time based on around the relative time frame of important events in my life such as the births of my kids, the year I graduated, and of course when I got married. I think to a degree everyone does this, but knowing my tendency to drop memories or accidentally falsify them is what drives me to come here regularly, which brings me to today’s post. I want to remember May 2005.

So quickly Darren and I have aged together, just as we planned. Perhaps it was him reaching 50 that really struck me with the sentiments of “Wow!! Look at us now!!” He’s always saying, “God brought us together.” I don’t know why I don’t think this is the most romantic thing ever, I should, but I feel that it strips us of all conscious choice or attraction, much like when someone runs a marathon or beats cancer and gives no credit to the intense training or experience of the physicians. Yes, a million times yes, God orchestrated our union. He also knows the day of our death, and even goes so far as to say that the wicked are created for the day of judgement (Proverbs 16:4). He knows the choices you will make, reader, and the choices I will make, but still we have to answer for those decisions one day at the judgement seat (John 12:38).

Sorry but not sorry that I’m so full of scripture proofs, I do know that people don’t talk this way in reality…but then again, you’ve chosen to step into my mind and these are the thoughts in my head today.

May 2018


It was the last week of April that I said yes to the man that I plan on seeing every day of my life. I struggled a little bit over if I was in love with being loved or if my heart was really ready to lock the rest of my earthly life to this man for the best reasons of heart and mind equally. It’s a moment of confusion that I even now can’t write out in a way that flows nicely.

After I said yes, church leadership told me that if I broke off the agreement I’d be as bad as someone who is divorced, and that was worthy of being thrown out of the church which was everything to me. While that’s not based on scripture whatsoever and we did get excommunicated anyway, it was a misconstrusion of biblical principles that at the time worked to our benefit. We are still the same people, just with less superstition. Frankly, I’m glad we have the shared experiences that we did in that church.

May 2005 I ordered and received my wedding dress. I lined up a photographer, ordered my flowers and cake, we bought the rings and recruited my sisters to stand as bridesmaids, ordered invitations, booked the small chapel and invited the handful of guests we could imagine and set the date. By September we were married. The weather was perfect, everyone was smiling and the simplicity of the entire day was so us. May was all a blur and I’m so happy to have recorded the details here. Simply scroll way down in my archives if you’d like to look through that. It’s cataloged away, ready for me to revisit anytime I like. The entire thing was so simple that I can pull it up in my mind, despite my patchy memory and have a pretty good sketch.

2005

Another day ever fixed in my mind was the day that I met Darren. I cringe a little in embarrassment over what a hot mess I was, another story for another day. Headline: we had to be introduced. Subtitle: I walked right past him. Body of the writing: I knew him by his voice. My hair was really curly then and required at least 30 minutes of attention in the morning to look decent, time that I hadn’t had that morning. Maybe it was important that Darren saw me looking my messiest and still liked me. I remember he was wearing a leather jacket and had white sneakers and the biggest smile.

wedding day!

These years later we’re still the same people we were that day. We’ve grown together and developed connections beyond religion. We were in the right place at the right time. That first night in a yahoo chat room, and the conference room in an apartment complex where our church used to meet.

My heart is at peace when I get even a fragment of the smile he had for me then. I feel eternally blessed that I’m still here with the daily opportunity to say or do something to bring out happiness in him.

We don’t live each day as our last. We live for the day, and know that God will take care of the rest. We try to teach our kids the same thing–take responsibility, accept consequences and learn from your successes and faults to be a better person for tomorrow and for the people you’ll meet. Love others, but first love the Lord and respect yourself. These are the messages to live by, that I hope will stay with us for generations to come.

Carly Annalise Taryn: 10 Years Old

May 29th, 2018

My daughter is 120 months old today.

I truly can hardly express what a delight she is and how blessed I feel to be her mother.

A close attempt is to show Then and Now photos, mainly pulling of course from old blog posts!

Diederick and Carly. Rarely in photos present day, because in part because they’re not in school together. Koen and Diederick play together more so than Carly and Diederick, perhaps due to varied interests. While that’s true, the two of them have gone through similar experiences as they’re growing up, for example, Carly homeschooled last year and Deeder’s doing it this year. Although both of them appear to have become better students through being at home, neither will remain in the situation of home based learning because the element of social isolation is very real and just not beneficiary to either one of them. Siblings and friends are good but not enterchangable, so while we are in a good school district we plan to have the kids pursue education with their peers.

Carly can most often be found either reading in her room, playing on her phone or outdoors with the neighbor girl exploring in the woods. In fair weather, she’s to be found outdoors coloring with sidewalk chalk or cruising the neighborhood on scooters with friends.
Carly also adores her little hamster Oreo. He joined our family last summer and under Carly’s attentive eye is doing quite well.

The little girl sleeping so peacefully in this swing just hasn’t stopped telling me exactly what she thinks about everything, even before she could speak actually–pushing away what she didn’t want and grabbing for items that captured her fancy even before offered. She gives me more than honest answers to what she thinks of my outfits and haircuts. Everyone needs a child like her–outspoken, opinionated and enthusiastic. She’s asked if she may do some guest posts here on Oraeley.com to which I’ve agreed, so that may be an upcoming event. Of course if she does get in some writing, younger brother Koen will want to follow in her footsteps as he is determined to try and exceed whatever she puts her hand to.

Happy birthday, Carly Annalise Taryn. Mommy and Daddy love you! We’ll always be here when you need us, to talk at any time or to pray with you if that’s what you’d like to do. Continue relying on God and following in His example. Make good choices in your friendships and come to us any time for guidance. We’ll do our best to help you along your path as you grow and learn more about what you want to do. Be happy and healthy, always smile and let your spirit shine. Love you forever and always, sweet girl!

2016. Our family!

Seasons Come Seasons Go

May 28th, 2018

Here’s my house, at least the front steps into it, and the big front window where I take pictures of the sunset through, capture images of the weather when it’s too windy or rainy to stand outdoors–or even just to grab a quick picture of the kids playing basketball without their noticing. Often when I look through these windows I remember how small the children were when we brought them here. Deeder was a toddler, and Carly was so young that she stood for the very first time in the front room just beyond those windows. Koen and AJ came home to this house directly from the hospital after their births in 2009 and 2012. It was Valentines day that we spent our first night here with nothing but sleeping bags and pillows in the living room and used an ice chest as our breakfast table that first morning.

Now of course the kids are older. Still young enough to enjoy playing in the snow that builds up around the house in winter and help me break down the soil in Spring for a fresh garden. For today’s writing I’d like to show my pictures of the last week of snow, and two weeks in for my small back yard garden.

Darren bought these hedge bushes maybe five years ago. They’re perfect. There are 41 in total, expected to reach 4ft which is close to where they are. The goal is to bring privacy to the yard and give it more of a rustic feel. In Autumn the foliage turns a flaming red if the summer has been the right balance of dry spells to rainy. by late October the leaves blow away revealing small berries which are enjoyed by the finches and chickadee that come to our world with the cooler months.


Snow man to winter squash. This is the end and beginning of my yards winter transformation. It is the winter’s last snowman, and the young garden of 2018. The snowman melted within a day of the photo being taken, all that was left of him was two soggy mittens and a soaked hat which are now washed and folded in anticipation of next year’s replacement as I’m sure there will be another snowman occupying my back yard in only a matter of months. I planted three varieties of winter squash this year, celery, a pepper plant, and three stalks of corn. It isn’t much to look at yet, but each plant has at least doubled in size since I planted them. The pepper plant has two blossoms on it already which thrills Koen since he was the one to pick it out. Squash is what always grows best for me. Of everything celery has the lowest survival rate since the cats love to eat it, the sun loves to burn it, and then of course is the present threat of bugs enjoying the soft greenery of it’s delicate leaves.

I am thinking of adding a tomato plant yet. I could since we’re still in planting season. I think there’s room across from the pepper plant. I always have a tomato plant and name it Thomas. I’m sort of missing him, which is foolishness and I really believe I may find myself at the garden store this afternoon finding my perfect Thomas for 2018.

Besides having children and plants in my yard, a constant fixture is the animals. Presently we have one dog, two cats, and two rabbits. Indoors we have one hamster, Oreo, and the dog and cats whenever they please to come inside. The rabbits however live outdoors in their hutch unless in the instance of really cold weather.

Waldo is my oldest rabbit. We brought him home as a young buck when Carly was still a baby, which means he’s 10 years old at least. We can tell he’s slowing down significantly, even looking smaller than his usual 17lb body that he’s been rocking for numerous years now. “You know, he’ll probably die this summer” are Darren’s words of caution to me as he sees me in the back yard dutifully watering the rabbits yard and providing them with all their favorite treats. I know my husband’s right. It’s been true since the age 8 which is the full life expectancy of rabbits. My other rabbit’s name is Jezebel. She’s 6 years old and so tame that my kids bring her indoors, even taking her to bed with them on occasion.

The other picture I’m posting today of a pet is our sweet Norman. She’s the youngest of our two cats, born on Father’s Day 2014. Norman has picked a favorite of my kids very carefully as the others hold her too tightly, that child remains unnamed under the presupposition that my descendants may read this! She’s wary of Darren and I as if she feels she’ll be reproved for something, such as clawing the furniture or jumping on the table. She’s shy, always worried about bodily harm coming upon her from the children. One of her top favorite activity is lounging about, either in the house or out, in any sunbeam she can find. Another favorite past time, enjoyed year round, is watching birds flit about outside either through the window or invading her backyard. She imagines herself as a proud and brave hunter stalking her prey which is far from her reality as the birds spy her and fly away before she can reach them.

The bible talks a lot about seasons throughout all parts of scripture. It’s quite a romantic notion I’ve always thought. God gives prosperity to his people, “for a season” and persecution for a season. He sends famine and times of plenty. In fact, across all faiths cultures and creeds we hear the story of perfection of humanity falling by the single bite of a bite of a particular forbidden fruit. In Biblical tradition there is the belief that as part of the consequence of this fall was the introduction of harsh weather that limit the season of growth of our agricultural crops. It was sin that introduced invasive plant species which constantly threaten the ability for our needed crops to thrive.

One time when Jesus was mad he took the time to curse an olive tree that was nearby. The prophet Jonah wanted God to take his life when an olive tree that he was taking refuge from the sun withered. It was an olive branch that the dove brought back to the ark as a sign to Noah that it was time to let the people and animals off the Ark. The scripture I wanted to use today links up with my writing from yesterday.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;”

Ecclesiastes is a bit of a depressing book, but I like it. It’s one of those bleak doom and gloom pieces of scripture. I’ve always felt there’s a bit of irony in the fact that Solomon wrote this book since God gifted him with wisdom. Perhaps knowing so much could be pretty depressing, but with that long life and riches he also had one could think he had a pretty comfortable life. Maybe comfort can’t be assumed equal happiness? Maybe a measure of truth to ignorance is bliss.

At any rate, I plan to be here for a very long time. Taking the same photos, watching the kids grow, and the seasons pass and come again. It’s a blessed life, and I’m happy to be here to see it make the rounds that it does.