This past weekend, we took a little road trip to Chicago for Campus Catalyst, a training conference for public campus ministry sponsored by the NAD and hosted by North Shore Seventh-day Adventist Church. It was great to spend time with old friends and to make new ones too. It is such a blessing to be involved in ministry.
During most of the meetings, I hung out with the kids and Bentley. It was Bentley’s first time in Chicago. He loved the squirrels the best. We walked to a park nearby to help the kids release some energy. On Saturday, we wanted to do something special for the kids so we ordered Chicago pizza from Pequods while they swam in the hotel pool. No joke people – it was the most disgusting pizza I’ve ever had in my life. The crust was thick, dry, crumbly, and stale. There was hardly any cheese. The tomato sauce was watery and bland. And the edges of the crust were burned black. It made Pizza Hut taste like a Michelin 3 starred restaurant. Worse yet, each pie cost over $20! We each managed to scrap off the top layer of one piece, but we couldn’t do much more than that. We called to get our money back. We’re going to have to give Chicago pizza another go next time…definitely at a different pizza place. Pequods, you let us down!
We were able to spend time with Jukes & Aileen and the kids while we were there. It was nice that they were only a few miles away from the conference! We enjoyed talking and catching up. On Sunday, we ate at Native Foods, an amazing vegan restaurant. Here, Chicago redeemed itself after our Pequods incident. I had the best vegan sandwich I’ve ever eaten. It was the crispy chicken, bacon and avocado sandwich. Amazing! Then we spent our final hours there at the Shedd Aquarium.
Making fishy faces with cousins in front of the fishes!
We had a great weekend and hope we can come back again soon!
I don’t do as much as I should for Judy. She never misses an important day, anniversary, special moment. She plans ahead with incredible detail for weeks and months in advance when people are coming over or when we are hosting a special event.
When it comes to family, she’s even more meticulous in her preparation.
I knew that when our tenth-year anniversary rolled around, I wanted to do something special. It had to be more meaningful than spending a lot of money to show how much I appreciate her and all that she’s done for our relationship.
At first, the plan I had was to take a trip to Tahiti–where we had our honeymoon and fell in love all over again. I saved up years of air miles to ensure free tickets. However, in the fall of last year, we were surprised to find out that another baby boy was joining the Ramos Family! Unfortunately, to our dismay, we lost him.
We were devastated and this proved to be one of the most difficult journeys we’ve traveled together. But God is faithful.
Already committed to staying in the US during our anniversary, I had to plan something different for the girl who has been the biggest blessing in my life. Since we’d been married for 10 years, I decided on preparing 10 meaningful moments together. Here are a few of them (the rest are none of your business):
Torino was voted as the 2014 Detroit restaurant of the year by the Detroit Free Press. Calling them ahead of time, they agreed to prepare a nine-course vegetarian meal for me and my special date while Auntie Kimmy took care of the boys for the evening.
The meal included a non-alcoholic beverage service. The whole experience was great and the food bordered between delicious and sometimes, incredible.
The staff made the night extra special by providing a menu for us that wished us a happy anniversary. Their customer service was very good!
After enjoying a great meal, we drove to Judy’s old stomping grounds — the home where she grew up. We drove through her neighborhood and checked out places where she played and made a lot of childhood memories.
The next day was the day of our actual anniversary — 7/11. Since we’ve been married for 10 years, I thought it’d be great to renew our vows. What better place to recommit our lives to each other than Grace Orchard — our home.
In our backyard, we have a lovely little gazebo that I thought was perfect for this kind of event. So the boys and I planned out a service together. Manu was my best man and Micah and Ty walked their mom down the aisle.
For the ceremony, the boys got new dress gear from Gap.
They were able to serve as witnesses to their parents’ commitment to each other. Following the wedding ceremony, we all participated in a wedding reception. The highlights of our reception included a wedding cake from Meijer, fruit-by-the-foot favors from Judy, chocolate, and old pictures and items from our wedding ten years back.
We looked at old pictures and letters and told the boys stories of way back. Their constant giggles were a strong indication of how much they enjoyed listening to them.
They came prepared to be guests of honor, bringing loads of gifts. Each gift was more valuable. First they gave us an envelop full of pennies. By the end, they gave us their treasured 2-dollar bills!
The last ten years have brought many experiences. To have a partner that genuinely loves and accepts me for who I am even though they are thoroughly aware of my weaknesses and insufficiencies is as incredible as grace itself. The one person who has every reason not to love me is also my best friend — what a thought. It reminds me of Someone else — a Person she points me to and teaches me about every day of our lives together. Thanks, Judy!
A few months ago, we were blessed to be able to sing a song together for special music at church. We hadn’t thought anyone recorded it, but someone did! Thank you, James, for the video!
We practiced a song that was particularly meaningful for us and we sang it together as a prayer. As you will see, we don’t have much talent (or ability to sing in tune ), but we just hoped the words would be a blessing to someone out there who needed to hear them!
Here are the lyrics:
Less of Me
Let me be a little kinder, let me be a little blinder,
to the faults of those around, let me praise a little more…
Let me dream when I am weary, just a little bit more cheery,
Think a little more of others, and a little less of me.
Let me be a little braver, when temptation bids me waver,
Let me strive a little harder, to be all that I should be…
Let me be a little meeker, with a brother that is weaker,
Let me think more of my neighbor, and a little less of me.
Let me dream when I am weary, just a little bit more cheery,
Let me serve a little better, those that I am striving for…
Let me be a little meeker, with a brother that is weaker,
Think a little more of others, and a little less of me.
Think a little more of others, and a little less of me.
May the words of this song be the prayer of your heart also!
The crazy thing about my family is that all of our birthdays fall in consecutive months:
October – Me (Judy) November – Micah December – Ty January – Bentley February – Israel March – Manu (The cats were adopted and we’re unsure of their exact birthdays.)
We got this pin a few years ago and we use it for all the boys’ birthdays. They get to wear it all day. Best investment ever.
The crazier thing is that EVERYONE in the entire Namm family was also born within these months! For almost 6 months, it seems like we have a birthday every week! There is a lot to celebrate. Now, we are nearing the end of the birthday blitz and I finally have time write about our latest birthdays.
December 12, 2012: Ty turned 3. Ty had a quiet birthday right before all of the Christmas festivities. We took him to Chuck E. Cheese for games and cake. I can’t believe his is already 3 years old. He is such a happy and sweet boy. He is getting sillier each day and loves to make us laugh. He’s at the age where I wish he would never grow up. We’re trying to make sure we take videos of how he talks and the songs he likes to sing. He is a total mama’s boy and yes, he still totes around my shirt everywhere he goes. My favorite line that he always says is, “That’s the biggest ________ that ever I seen!” On Ty’s birthday, we also took our family Christmas pictures, wearing the matching love shirts that Justin & Rachel gave us (as seen on our new profile pic).
February 26, 2013: Israel turned 33. We celebrated with our family, which is what Israel likes best. The boys and I made him breakfast in the bedroom. After he came home from work, we surprised him with another little party for dinner. We ended the fun day with a family movie night.
March 4, 2013: Imanuel turned 7. I can’t believe I have a 7 year old child. And I can’t believe how blessed I am to have him. Imanuel has been one of the greatest motivation factors for me to be a better person. His sweet and sensitive disposition forces me to be more gentle and patient. He is such a caring brother and will often plead on behalf of his brother’s mistakes. It is my sincere prayer that he will continue to grow to be more like Christ and that I will never get in the way of that.
Manu’s birthday was exactly how a teacher’s kid would celebrate his birthday. On Sunday, we went to Impression 5 with some friends. Then on his actual birthday, we did some experiments from a kitchen science kit that John bought them. It was a fun & educational birthday.
Now we have a 7 month gap to recover from all of the extra calories! 🙂
We’ve been surviving this winter. It’s been much more severe than last year and we’ve been utilizing our new fireplace blower and the wood that we made. As usual, we had an awesome time with our family over the Christmas holidays. Most of the highlights are shown in this slideshow. We have so much fun together! My sister was able to spend a month with us and as usual, we were super-productive. We cleaned out, organized, and rearranged our parents’ house and eliminated literally heaps of boxes/bags of trash and truckloads of stuff to donate. It was so awesome! We had such a fun time together and we were so sad to see her go. Since she left, Ty has been mentioning her everyday at worship during prayer request time. His request is that “Imo can come here safely”.
Israel took the boys to the Father/Son Retreat at Camp Au Sable the weekend of January 25-27. It was their first time going and they loved it! My brother Jukes also came with Ian. I enjoyed a restful and quiet weekend with the pets.
In early February, my parents participated in the Michigan Senior Olympics for pickleball. We were able to watch some of their games and we are happy to report that Mom won gold medals in singles and women’s doubles, and a silver in mixed doubles. Dad won silver medals in singles and men’s doubles. I am so proud of them! I’m also so thankful that they are in good health and staying active. I hope to be as active as them if I become their age!
We had a nice Valentine’s Day. The boys made Valentines and mailed them to some of their favorite people. I really want to instill in them that it is better to give than to receive. I am always so humbled by how much love our boys receive from their uncles, aunties, grandparents, and friends. It was a good opportunity to express how much the boys love them back.
The snow has been on and off throughout the winter. It has been quite chilly lately, but we are keeping warm. Bentley has been sleeping underneath our covers at night and sometimes even during the day! Chance’s winter coat is very thick so he has been fine, but Aroe doesn’t grow a winter coat, so he has been spending a lot of time in our room that is kept extra warm with a space heater. But overall, we are all doing well. We are thankful for God’s watch care over us and we trust that He will continue to lead us closer to Him!
Through a series of unfortunate events, our plans for March 4th changed. In the place of a wedding weekend, our home was filled with visiting friends from across the country, lots of games, exercise, and ended with a last minute birthday party for our birthday boy. It was definitely what I would call a fun and exciting weekend. Maybe, at times, too exciting. 🙂
We called a few of Manu’s best buddies to see if they were free to come over on Sunday. We were so glad that they could make it because it was so much fun! Manu was also blessed to receive many generous gifts from his family, friends, uncles, and aunties. Thank you to all those who thought of him on this special day. He told me it was his best birthday ever!
Here are a few shots from Manu’s 6th birthday. The awesome photos courtesy of the Mendezes.
The sign for his name was made by Harabuhgee when Manu turned 1 year old!
Harabuhgee treated the boys to fries and Shamrock shakes for lunch – something only a grandpa could pull off. Micah felt that THIS was the best party ever. 🙂
Playing some air hockey before heading to the Y
Went skating & swimming at the Y
Korean BBQ tacos for dinner at our place
In the basement for piñata time! Youngest to oldest…
Manu’s turn! Time to spin 10 times!
Daddy controlling the piñata. Watch out or the piñata will come after you!
Finally, Auntie Tammy saved the day and was able to bust open that toucan! There was a mad dash to the goodies!
Manu and the treats he collected.
I feel so blessed and humbled that despite myself, Manu is growing to be such a sweet, caring, and intelligent child. It is even more wonderful that he loves Jesus with all of his heart. It is our perpetual prayer that he continues to grow in God’s grace and that God uses him for a special purpose to further the kingdom of Heaven.
Thank you, Manu, for being the best firstborn son we could have ever asked for! Your brothers are so blessed to have you to look up to. We are so proud of you. May you always shine for Jesus!
From the time we moved down until now, everything has been such a blur. I guess that’s because the first couple of weeks were spent unpacking and settling in, then came the holidays and my whole family was able to spend time together, and then just until last Sunday, my sister has been here with us during her 5 week vacation. But now that she is gone and I realize that 2 months have gone by without much warning, I’m feeling the pressure to get back into the swing of real life. The challenge is that I’m still trying to figure out what that looks like.
This past Monday, I “officially” started school with the two older boys. During Ty’s nap, we spend one structured hour together. The boys have been begging me to make school longer, but I think one hour is all I can handle. It is also really all they need. I’m really enjoying getting back into the swing of structured teaching. I may write more about that later.
I’m currently at a place where I am highly motivated to restructure everything in my life. I want to get back into triathlon training so modified meal plans are in the works. This ties in with our new goals for budgeting and adjusting to our new daily schedules. While my sister was here, I experienced something similar to when I spent that time with her in Guam. I can’t really place my finger on what it is, but being with her is so refreshing. It was like finding myself again.
This past Christmas when my whole family was together, I realized something I never thought about before. It was like rediscovering roots I had forgotten I had – like remembering who I am. I think time apart, living separate lives is essential to personal growth and development. However, coming back together was like a breath of fresh air. It helped to give me a sense of personal identity once again. After all, deep down, I still am a proud Namm. I don’t think anything can take that away from me and it is something I could never deny.
The Namm in me pushes me upwards to new heights and lofty goals. The Ramos in me causes me to think outside the box and to remember to value what truly matters. Both of those combined teaches me to live a meaningful life filled with faith, hope, and love. It is a perfect combination that only God could have orchestrated.
I know I need God’s help most of all. I need His undying love to keep me humble and fervent. I need His strength to give me perseverance and discipline. And I need His wisdom to keep me on the right track. I want to do great things for Him.
So, here’s to an amazing new year in a new city and home! Here’s to a new chapter in our lives.
Me and the boys in our new home in DeWitt, MI. January 2012.
Up until recently, Micah had been riding the trike, since the tiny white bike broke. After Manu learned to ride on a two-wheeler, we decided to buy Micah a real bike with training wheels. We also bought the boys new bike helmets since Micah’s cracked and we decided to give Manu’s helmet to Ty. (Ty refuses to ride his colorful plastic truck without his helmet.) And that’s when we realized just how large Micah’s head is. At first the issue was what type of design they wanted to choose. After trying a few on, it came down to which one would actually fit Micah’s head! We ended up buying a size 5yr+ for Manu and we had to buy Micah a 8yr+ helmet! His shoe size has officially surpassed Manu’s as well. I am deviating. Anyhow, since we bought the new bike/helmets, the boys just love going outside together to ride on our long driveway.
Yesterday after church and potluck, and after the boys took their nap, and after Israel came back from prison, we loaded their bikes into the car and drove to the canal. We had a great time enjoying nature and spending time together as a family. It was one of those afternoons where I found myself overwhelmingly thankful for the many undeserved blessings He has given me. In recent times, I have often felt overcome with bouts of anxiety and bitterness…as if a great injustice has been done to me. But I have been reminded that those few french fries are His. How selfish of me to have taken so many things for granted! And to doubt His infinite wisdom and love! Seriously, why would He turn on me now? The serene lake, the magnificent setting sun, and the crisp clean air all pointed to the One who wants to lift my burdens and free my mind from worry and fear – to allow Him to be responsible for the outcomes. To simply trust Him…
It wouldn’t have been a perfect ride were it not for the fact that Israel experienced bike drama…again. His left pedal broke off. Yes, it busted off with no hope of repair. (Kimmy/John, remember our conversation about bad luck? His story continues…) But that’s okay. The boys were able to ride the full two miles with ease and we enjoyed the view at a slower (walking) pace together. That’s yet another reason why I love him. He’s so consistent and predictable. So, it was a perfect outing.
I’ve decided to live a renewed life of faith. No matter what God takes away from me, I feel blessed He gave it to me in the first place. Even if it was just for a moment. He is always taking us steps forward, never back. And I like to remind myself that if we could only see the end from the beginning, everything would make perfect sense.
The summers up here are amazing. Save maybe a week or two of extreme heat (- where it may reach 90 degree weather), the U.P. really comes alive. We survive, like many other yoopers, without AC, so the outdoors easily becomes an enormous playground. The temperatures inside and out are often comparable.
The other day I was trying to think about why in all of the previous summers we didn’t spend as much time outside. For the past couple of months, I can’t think of a day where we didn’t go outside to play or a week where we didn’t go swimming at the lake. Then I calculated that for 2 of the 5 summers I was uncomfortably pregnant and the other 2 summers I was nursing an infant. This was my first summer where I could be out and play. The baby, Ty, is now running around and wreaking havoc so it is actually quite efficient to have the boys playing outdoors while the house gets a break and remains (somewhat) clean.
Manu and Micah have nearly completed their two weeks of swimming lessons over at Michigan Tech. Tomorrow is their last day. Manu has learned how to swim and can go quite a ways all by himself. Today, Manu jumped off the diving board in the deep end without a life jacket and was able to then swim over to Israel. Micah can also swim a few strokes on his own. He is more dense than Manu so he can only swim underwater. He can swim for as long as he can hold one breath. Israel plays a game with Micah where he pushes him gently underwater and Micah touches the bottom of the pool and comes back up. They have improved so much in such little time! They are both well on their way to becoming triathletes…which is their ultimate motivation to learn how to swim. In true yooper form, the boys (including Ty) enjoy going to the beach and swimming in the lake (Superior), even though the general population would consider it to be too cold.
The other day we headed over to Prince’s Point which is a beach area by Tech where Israel does his open water swims. Chris came with us and the both of them suited up and swam the 1.2 mi swim to the flag pole and back while I played with the boys at the beach. Chris made it back before Israel and we were watching Israel swim when we noticed that he stopped swimming for a while. At that moment, we saw a fairly large bald eagle soaring over the lake. It was so beautiful and we could clearly see the white on his head and tail. It started circling around the lake and I was thinking to myself how neat it would be if we could watch it swoop down and catch a fish. Israel by this time was kind of flailing his arms and really appeared to be struggling with something. Come to find out, he was suffering from a bad cramp in his leg. We immediately connected the two and realized that the bald eagle was actually circling Israel! We found that quite humorous until Israel started calling for help and Chris had to go back in and swim to his rescue.
My “garden”, if you can even call it that, has really been a sore matter from the very first year I planted. That first year, I had tomato plants, lettuce, green onions, Korean sesame plants (“keh-neep”), leeks (“boo-choo”), and roots (“doh-rah-gee”). It wasn’t that bad. The sesame plants took over, which is normally what happens – I equate them to weeds, but everything grew well. But that was also the year where the self-same day we had planned to pick all of the tomatoes, the deer came over while we made a trip to town and ate them ALL. You can imagine my shock when, after coming back from Walmart, I headed to the backyard with my basket to harvest all of the tomatoes and I found nothing but stubs. They even ate the tomato leaves. The year after that, I never planted anything. I just let the garden go wild. I ended up with green onions, “keh-neep”, and “boo-choo”. The following year, I transported a few wild strawberry plants and raspberry plants into my garden. The next year we were able to eat a handful of berries, mainly strawberries. But this year the raspberry plants decided it was their turn to take over the garden. They were able to withstand all of the weeds (-I had stopped weeding after the first year), and much to my surprise, they flourished! I consider it quite a miracle that my sorry garden was able to produce anything.
And finally, last but not least, we have spent many hours outdoors training for the Kuparisaari Triathlon that is coming up in less than two weeks. The boys enjoy riding their bikes and running on our long driveway for their “workouts”. Israel has been training to do the half-iron by himself and I have been doing mainly bike rides since I’m just doing the bike leg of the race. Despite putting on ample sunblock, we are getting quite dark from long rides and runs.
We also enjoyed a special visit from the Shins last weekend as they were passing through! We had such a great time catching up and training together. Tennille is doing the swim leg of our half-iron relay team and David is training for the Detroit marathon in October. On Sunday, between the four of us, we biked 56.2 miles, ran 26 miles, and swam 2.4 miles! This was the day after we stayed up until 3am talking. Tennille and I then topped that off by doing a trail run the next morning (on Monday) through Hungarian Falls. Good times! True friends never let friends miss an important training workout…even on vacation.
From all this working out, my thighs are getting ridiculously large. But then again, I knew this is what I agreed to when I accepted this challenge. So far I’ve done two 56 mile rides and I was able to do them sub-3:30 which was my race goal. I’m hoping I’ll be able to go even faster on race day. I’m not about to let my thighs get huge for nothing! Totally looking forward for our friends to come up for race weekend!!
Post-camp meeting began by discovering Aroe’s baby cousin was being held hostage at Petland at Twelve Oaks Mall. We considered breaking him out but security was pretty tight. So adorable!
Harabuhgee took the two older boys to one evening of VBS at the Metro Church before we headed back up. They had a great time there and met new friends including Harabuhgee’s best friend from church, Elana.
We bought the whole Kids’ Time series from camp meeting and Miss Brenda was there to meet the boys and sign the DVDs. They were quite enthusiastic to watch it…really. These came in handy for the long drive back. At this point, they were also in dire need of haircuts.
Daddy did the honors of buzzing their hair off one evening. Here is a shot of the boys before church. They were discussing serious matters over crackers & soymilk. Ty has decided he’s a big boy and prefers sitting on a real chair.
Grandma Karen let us pick strawberries from her patch. We’ve already consumed nearly 12 quarts! This summer we made our first strawberry-rhubarb pies. A church member from Marquette had given us several stalks of rhubarb from their garden. “R” is for Ramoses.
As the heat wave struck last week, suit coats became inappropriate. The boys pared down to vests to help keep cool at church. No pun intended.
We signed the boys up for the Summer Reading Program at our public library. Every 12 books they read, they receive a prize. We’ve been checking out books from the library like nobody’s business. They already received a free book of their choice and today we went to redeem another prize which was a free ice cream cone from The Lunch Bag.
To celebrate the fact that Micah attentively sat through 24 entire books and that Ty sat for 12, I treated myself to some pizza. I decided to share with the boys. I am on my way to becoming a professional book reader. Manu could be a professional listener. Micah will have to choose another profession.
Then we walked over to The Lunch Bag to get their free ice cream cone. Ty and I shared a smoothie. In this pic, Ty is mad dogging me because he wants more smoothie.
Now, he is content.
On the agenda for the coming weeks:
– Israel is currently at Camp Sagola for Teen Camp this week – Wisconsin this weekend to watch Chris’s race! – swimming classes for the older boys at Tech next week (Micah’s first time!) – U.P. campmeeting – Ministerial Retreat at Camp Au Sable – the Koop – Israel will race his first half-iron distance triathlon! So proud of him!
God has been so good to us and we are so thankful for His watch care and providence. Looking forward to the rest of the summer with great anticipation…