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23 October 2011

Neglectful blogging

Yep, it happened again...we stopped blogging for a while. Good news is - the apartment is ALMOST finished. So we are ALMOST ready to posts pics of our new place. Just have to nail in some trim, paint a little, and get some pictures on the walls. We are having a housewarming party this weekend, so it has to get done by then!

Tirzah is mobile and still as cute as ever. She loves to clap and wave. There are plenty of videos to upload, but those will have to wait for another posting.

Micah is busy with school, work, and all his (many, many) extra-curricular activities.

Lauren is busy as a stay at home mama and is enjoying her classes (but not the homework).

These are long overdue, but here is a slideshow video from Tirzah's 6 month photoshoot.



13 September 2011

New News

So, while Tirzah and Mommy wait for a phone to charge before running errands - there's a little time to update this blog.

We have been busier than ever!

Biggest news - Micah got a job at our church.

Also big news - we are moving into a bigger apartment next door RENT FREE!!!

Micah is doing facilities work for the church and his first task on the job is to renovate our future apartment. The place needed to be gutted in a few rooms and there was no kitchen - lots of work to be done! You can see it here (the living room is missing from the video - the ceiling needs to be re-plastered and the walls need some repair):


We are on a time crunch to get this place finished by the end of this month. Why the time crunch? First, the church has planned for the apartment to have been finished already and really want to see it completed ASAP. Also, our friends Kelly and Nicolas have been wanting to move back to Chicago, but have been waiting for the right opportunity. With us moving out, our current apartment needs new tenants. Kelly and Nicolas already know what our place looks like and know that the church rents this place for a low price. So, they were really excited when they heard our place was available. They had a small window of time when they could move soon or it'd be a long wait before they move. So, Micah thought he could finish everything in time for them to move here quickly.

So, we'll have our friends as next door neighbors - along with a playmate for Tirzah, their new baby girl Clara.

This past week Micah's dad and his friend Scott came down to Chicago to help with the renovations. They were such a big help and did a lot of great work. So, the kitchen is done! (Pictures soon!)

In other news, Lauren and Micah will continue their graduate studies this semester. Lauren will begin nannying for a baby boy in December. He'll be coming to our place, which makes caring for Tirzah while nannying so much easier. Lauren knows the family from caring for their daughter at her previous job. She still babysits for her from time to time. The parents are such a nice, down to earth couple and will be a pleasure to work for.

Tirzah is growing right along and is quite the talker. She can make most consonant sounds and loves to point at things with her little index fingers. She still loves music and is very smiley. We think she's adorable.

She did great on our lastest trip to MN on the Greyhound (we went to see her new cousin, Ethan) she was quite enamored with the handicap sign on the bus as you can see here:

<3 MLT

07 July 2011

Tirzah in the SAM Octagonian

I just received the quarterly copy of my fraternity's publication, SAM's "Octagonian."
See below!


“Beast” Day 11 – West Point

Today was a bit of decompression for some of us. It was a busy day yesterday with Chaplain's Time. After Chaplain's Time, we had to break down, transport stuff for storage, then some of us stopped by the barracks in-between to drop off snacks for the cadre would couldn't attend.

This morning though, some of us still went out to do PT, or to march with our company to some field training. This afternoon we transported more stuff back to the Chaplain's Office, had a debriefing, and planned ahead a little bit.

I was given some NCs to look up in my company for various reasons. Please keep praying for these New Cadets. We now have 3x the number out-processing total since last night's number. The good news is, the out-processing procedure is slow, in order to give these NCs time to think about their decisions. Three of us visited their barracks today (and brought them snacks from last night's Chaplain's Time since they couldn't be there). It was a blessing to pray with them and encourage them as they make new plans for their future.

Thanks again for your prayers.
- Micah
the videos below are pretty good - if you have a few more minutes, you should check them out.



06 July 2011

“Beast” Day 10 – West Point

Chaplain's Time today!
Our uniform on Wednesdays consists of a West Point polo and khakis - a great change-up from the rest of the week. We spent a good portion of the day getting ready for Chaplain's time. We moved equipment into Robinson Auditorium, picked up thousands of cookies and drinks from the commissary, and ran little errands that needed to be run.

We knew the NCs were anticipating tonight's time with us. This is the one day a week where the cadre do not interfere (and does not participate much), and where the NCs can talk to each other and decompress for a couple of hours. Of course, this is our favorite time of the week as well - when we can pray with the NCs, worship God, and share our testimonies. Tonight was amazing!
Many church members brought hundreds of baked goods for the NCs, and we had an excellent turn-out as well. One of the professors at West Point shared a short testimony and encouragement, which I thought was absolutely wonderful. What a better example than a professor (and Major) to encourage these young men and women through the love of Christ Jesus!


SEND ME MAIL!

I like mail! Especially goodies and treats (power bars, beef jerky, anything yummy)!
So...if you feel led to send me anything (letters, etc.), the best address is as follows:

Micah McLellan
C/O United States Military Academy
Cadet Chaplain's Office
Bldg. 745-C, Washington Hall
Brewerton Road
West Point, NY 10996

Much Love!
- Micah

05 July 2011

“Beast” Day 9 – West Point

Had PT w/ my company today - fun run up and down hills - and also MSE.
0900 - had our regular team meeting. We discussed chapel from last Sunday, and also had an AAR on our in-processing and this last week of training.
We also took a tour of Camp Buckner, as well as the various courses that the cadets train on. Our NCs will be over here in the next couple weeks as well, rappelling, climbing, and having fun!

We went to the transient barracks again (and also Keller hospital) to check in on the cadets there as well. Good day - though busy!
Hooah,
Micah

04 July 2011

“Beast” Day 8 – West Point

Happy Fourth of July!
Thank you so much for your continued prayers for the New Cadets, as well as the Chaplains and Candidates here at Beast. We have been asking God for continued ministry opportunities, and He has surely given them to us. This morning, CH (CC) Hurst and I went to Keller Hospital on post to visit the two injured New Cadets. It felt a little like a ghost town at the hospital, because there are only a few people there today. It was a blessing to minister and pray with these two NCs. It was also encouraging to us to see their high spirits and motivation to get back on their feet. As we were leaving, the nurse directed us to two other Cadets from Camp Buckner. One is an ROTC Cadet, while the other is a West Point Yearling. Both of these Cadets were also in high spirits – one is involved with OCF (Officer Christian Fellowship). It was a privilege to pray with these young Cadets as they continue in their education and careers as future Officers.
Next, we picked up CH (CC) Mortensen (Ryan), and drove over to the transient barracks, where three NCs are in the process of being out-processed for various reasons. Please pray for these NCs as well, as they possibly pursue other avenues for their education and leadership development.
As we were heading back to our POV, CH Hurst initiated a conversation with some civilians that were heading over to Trophy Point to set up their spot for the evening celebration. We helped them transport their items, and made several fun connections. One couple has connections with Saipan, where Ryan has been living. Another couple has roots near CH Hurst, while all of them seem to be some wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ! What a wonderful connection we made this afternoon! We were also invited to come back later this week to their place for dinner! God is good! He certainly had our day planned out for us!
As of now, I am trying to catch up on this blog, before heading back out to the transient barracks with Ryan. After that the CCs will be fellowshipping with the Mooney’s off post at their hotel (swimming and pizza), then attending a special celebration for the Chaplains at the Cadet Chapel for dessert. Our sheet cake is still holding up and looks great! Can’t wait to taste it! Check out pics and videos below!






03 July 2011

“Beast” Day 7 – West Point

It was a cloudy morning. We (the CCs) arrived to Trophy Point to begin set-up, only to realize that the bleachers that we had previously separated had been put back together! So we had a little bit of extra work to do (and in our Class Bs at that)! This ended up as a futile endeavor (though we completed our task), as the Lord decided to send rain this morning. This meant that we had to move our equipment to the Robinson Auditorium at Thayer Hall instead. This wasn’t a big issue, but we had to ensure that our companies were aware of the location change asap.
The service went very well. CH (COL ) Durham gave the message, and many of us were able to participate in some way during the service. Towards the end, the New Cadets (and Cadre) were given the option to come forward for communion and prayer. It was an overwhelming blessing to pray individually for each NC who came forward. This was certainly the highlight of my week. Please remember to keep these young men and women in your prayers as well. This is a very big transition and culture shock to these NCs – as different as day is to night.
After service, we went up to the Cadet Chapel to prepare for the next service. The service at Cadet Chapel is a little more formal and liturgical, and is usually attended by regular West Point residents and family members of Soldiers. I was blessed to participate in the benediction of this service, which required me to sit up front for the duration of the service. The cadet chapel is absolutely stunning. The organ is the LARGEST organ in the world in a church setting (I think I mentioned that before). But the most beautiful part of this chapel is the people within its walls. It was a joy and privilege to speak with one of the women of the church about her memories from years past. I learned that the writers of “Jesus Loves Me” had a ministry presence here as well, and were buried at West Point (as I mentioned in a previous post).
After chapel came a short break back to our quarters, as we regrouped our thoughts. I swung by the commissary to pick up a large sheet cake I had ordered for the Fourth of July celebration tomorrow. The bakery chef had fun with the cake, since I told her to use her creative freedom when making it! (Check out the pictures below!) The cake is so big it wouldn’t even fit in my fridge! So I currently have the A/C on a higher setting in my room, in order to keep it stable for tomorrow’s celebration.
Early this evening, I went out to find my company and to check in on them. They are staying up all night in the field! I wanted to stay with them tonight, but I won’t get any gear issued to me until after the 4th. I used this time though to meet the three Orthodox Christians in my company, who didn’t get the chance to worship today. After several phone calls, it sounds like there was a communication disconnect as to which chapel they were to attend this morning. So I promised our New Cadets that I would ensure they would be taken to the appropriate chapel next week. We prayed together, and I was able to give them some words of encouragement. One of these NCs was sick, so I’m praying that he’ll feel better by tomorrow morning.
After this, I met up w/ Ryan (CC of Bravo company), and took him to meet up w/ his company up at the ski slope. It was getting dark now, and we saw deer while driving (almost within petting distance)! We were able to spend some time with the NCs of his company, spending a majority of our time with a NC who was suffering from a broken foot. We prayed with her, and stayed with her until the cadre was able to help her find a place to stay in the field for the night. God is GOOD! He certainly gave us many opportunities to be with our companies today, and to pray with our New Cadets and Cadre. I am certainly looking forward to another full day tomorrow! Keep bringing it!
- Micah

First time in my Class Bs
 


our bakery chef!
 


Fridge Door Fit?! Really?!
 


Deer!
 
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Clapping those feet!

02 July 2011

“Beast” Day 6 – West Point

Today is Saturday! But...that doesn't mean we get a day off :)
I spent some more time integrating with my company, and preparing for chapel the next day. I also went back to the tailor to pick up my dress blues (ASUs). Guess what?! It was CLOSED! Despite being told to pick up my stuff between 4pm and 6pm, the gate was down at 4pm! So I had to find the general manager of the PX, and she made some phone calls. She ended up "breaking in" to the alterations (didn't have a key), but she couldn't find my uniform! So I went in the back (heart pounding) and FOUND it! Praise God it was completed! I was so thankful that I was able to get my uniform before chapel! I know other Soldiers were ticked too, because they needed to pick up stuff as well! I've had nothing but complications with this alterations place. But - in all fairness, I know they're busy, and it's a lot of work to keep the place going. So - bless God that it all worked out eh?! I haven't even paid yet for the alterations (I should go back soon and try to see what the deal is). That would be sweet if it ended up being free because of the trouble.

I also ordered a HUGE sheet cake for tomorrow's 4th of July party at CH (COL) Durham's house (attached to the Cadet Chapel). The CCs were told to bring dessert, so I thought it best to streamline that into one big cake.

Check out the picture of Tirzah with Auntie Danielle :) Super cute!
Blessings,
Micah

01 July 2011

“Beast” Day 5 – West Point

It's already Friday...wow!
We met w/ the civilian and installation chaplain - Chaplain Wood. He has been here 19 years! I should clarify (if I haven't already) that "The Beast" is officially known as CBT (Cadet Basic Training). So if you see that acronym, you know what it means :) Another point to make is that the TAC (leadership) switches out about halfway though. The Second Detail will arrive in just a couple weeks. This second half of beast is usually focused more on land-nav, leadership courses, and spending more time living in the field while training (from what I understand). It will be interesting to see how the transition goes. I guess it sounds like there are about 250 cadre members, split into 8 companies, with about 150 cadets to each company. If I did my math right, that's about 1 Cadre per 5 New Cadets (but probably more like 1 Cadre per 8-10 NCs based on structure).
Our job as CCs is to be "married" to our company - to be the shoulder on which to cry, and to lend an ear to the weary at heart. So far, it has become a pretty good routine to do early PT with our guys, to pop in and our throughout the afternoon, and then to spend time with them in the evening at their barracks.

Camp Bucknor is not far from West Point, and is the training that first-year cadets (known as Yearlings) for about 4 weeks. There is also an Air Assault school that lasts about 10-12 days as well. So we have our work cut out for us!
Apparently, a "Firsty" (4th-year cadet) will be shadowing some of us at times to see how we function.

Let's see - what else...
Chaplain Davis is another supervisory chaplain! He has a promotion ceremony coming up (to Major). Great guy, very avid sports player (AVID!), and conducts chapel on post as well.

We were given a book called "Engage Your Strengths" by Gallop and the American Bible Society - similar to a Meir-Briggs test I suppose. I'm curious to see what I'll learn about myself through this. After completing it, I'll meet w/ Chaplain Berghaus to discuss the results.

I have learned the importance of meeting and staying in touch with the cadet counselor. Mine is great - she's a great listener, and fills me in with anything I should know (out-processing cadets to talk to, injured cadets, etc.). Great teamwork.

Oh I almost forgot! All week I've been trying to get my ASU's tailored here on post. The tailor has either been away, at home, or on break, and I kept missing him. I need everything ready to go for church, so I was told to come in anytime today to have it taken care of. FINALLY, I was able to get marked up! I have to come back tomorrow after 4pm to pick it up. Wow - almost 100 bucks to tailor this thing! :(

We went to Trophy Point today to prepare for chapel on Sunday. Trophy Point is outdoors, and one of the most beautiful locations at WP (see pics below)! I hope the weather stays like it is for Sunday!
For lunch, we all went out as a group off-post to a Mexican joint - excellent food! Highly recommended!

This afternoon we FINALLY finished our in-processing - this time with the finance guy! He was great! Very personable, and took good care of us. I also dropped off my car today to get a check-up (since everything on post is so cheap)!

We spent the evening in the barracks again, getting to know our TAC and NCs on a more personal level. A day well spent.

Sorry for the ramblings today! My mind has been all over the place as I process a lot of info.

Fun with bunny

30 June 2011

“Beast” Day 4 – West Point

I was formally introduced to the TAC in my company today. They're a great group of cadets - mostly third-year Cadets leading the NCs (we call the 3rd year cadets "cows").
I also met w/ CH Kumai, got some great pointers on where and how to minister at West Point, and set up a meeting time twice a week (Tue/Thur) to keep him updated on how things are going.

The CC team took a tour of the Cadet Chapel, and then the West Point cemetery in the late morning. See the photos I took - one of Anna Warner's marker, as well as GEN Custer's.
Some history about the Cadet Chapel:
It was completed in 1910, but beginning of 1910(through 1976), each graduating class would donated a pane of stained glass for the windows. The price ($300 for the pane) never changed from the distributor as the years went on (which was a ministry in itself on their behalf). Can you imagine the cost of those windows now?! This church boasts the largest church pipe organ in the WORLD as well!

Visiting the barracks in the evening will become a routine for some of us I think. There is a small slot of white space before taps, where we can talk to the NCs before they go to bed. We have also been using this time to check in with the cadet counselor, and the rest of the TAC as well.

So the CCs here will be functioning like a BN CH during this practicum. I learned today that there are 10 Chaplains on post. We also have a civilian brigade/installation chaplain as well (Father Wood). Each has a specific role and duty on post.




29 June 2011

“Beast” Day 3 – West Point

The morning couldn’t come soon enough! I was stoked to continue my in-processing, to get to know my fellow CCs better, and to get out there and meet the New Cadets (NCs). We met in the morning, and took an informal tour of parts of West Point. We started at the Cadet Chapel (see video and pictures below).
We toured some of the campus, including the newer West Point library (my favorite building on campus besides the Cadet Chapel).
We also were able to eat inside the mess hall for lunch. You wouldn't normally think much of a mess hall, but this one was full of history, rich in stories, and absolutely beautiful. Each mural, stained glass window, and flag has a story to tell.
Because there are nine CCs and 8 companies of New Cadets, each one of us was assigned a company, with on CC acting as a floater between the New Cadets, Camp Buckner (with the Yearlings), and Air Assault School possibly. I was assigned to the Alpha Company. We're the 1st Cavalry (First Team!). I don't want to be biased here...but we are definitely high speed! We were also all assigned a supervisory chaplain. I report to CH Kumai, one of the Catholic chaplains on post. CH Berghaus remains our overarching supervisory chaplain for all meetings, events, and services however.

In the evening, some of us attending a suicide briefing, given by CH Bergaus to the NCs. We passed out information, and was able to witness another tool/presentation that chaplains use for this awareness briefing. This was one of the better suicide prevention briefings that I've seen so far IMHO. I'll have to add this to my collection.
Looking forward to another big day tomorrow!




28 June 2011

“Beast” Day 2 – West Point

It was another day of in-processing. We met up at the Chaplain's Office, met some of the staff and other chaplains, and had a long meeting as to what our roles will look like here at West Point. We will finalize all details tomorrow.

In the evening, CH (COL) Durham (our USMA Chaplain) gave a religious accommodation briefing to the NCs in Robinson Auditorium. We passed out religious preference cards, in order to better facilitate the needs of our 1,200 NCs. The NCs were able to see the CCs there (us), so this was our first real interaction with them. I can't wait to be formally introduced to my company.
I'm really enjoying my time here, though I do miss my family. All of the Chaplain Candidates here are married, and all but one of us have kids as well, so it's great that we can all relate to each other when it comes to family life.
Hooah!
Micah

Trying to roll

27 June 2011

R-Day

Here are a few videos to help you better understand what these New Cadets (NCs) will be doing here.









“Beast” Day 1 – West Point

Morning arrived! I was eager to report for duty. My orders stated to report at 1300 (1pm), so I had the morning to relax, find breakfast, and get situated. I didn’t take any pictures today because I was so busy getting acquainted here, and totally forgot to take my camera with. I was told that West Point was a small campus. That may be compared to JBLM or Ft. Jackson, but this campus is big enough IMHO. It’s easy to get turned around on the roads here. The PX was recently moved quite a distance (about 2 miles) from quarters, so it took some orienteering to locate that as well. Fortunately, fuel here is cheaper than most of NY. I think it’s at 3.81, and 5 cents off that with the military credit card.
Well, 1300 rolled around, and I made my way to the Chaplain’s office. Before driving over, I met LT Scott Hurst, another CC assigned here for 30 days (there will be nine of us total). I remembered him from CH-BOLC last summer, so it was great to see him again. He was one of two CCs who flew here, so since he didn’t have a car, I took him over to the office as well.
We arrived, only to discover that the office was LOCKED! Fortunately, we met up with more of our CH-BOLC friends, LTs Don and Kyndalin Mooney (married couple). They both have over 20 years of prior service, so it was an honor to be teamed up with them this summer as well. The rest of the CCs began trickling in as we waited there…wondering what to do next! We discovered that there was another Chaplain office a couple blocks away, but two of the other CCs (Matt and C.J.) said no one was there either. (We discovered later that there is yet another Chaplain office in addition to these two – a Catholic office, but that’s beside the point!)
We stood around, saluting many Cadets in the process, until we decided to report back the following day in the morning. We weren’t able to reach any of our POCs by phone either. We exchanged numbers and went our separate ways, exploring the West Point campus and its beauty and history.
Some of us grabbed lunch at Grant Hall, while CJ and I went back to check the 2nd Chaplain office that he had visited before. We ended up running into a Chaplain’s Assistant, who told us that our POC Chaplain was conducting services at the Cadet Chapel, and that we should report there. This Monday turned out to be a busy/hectic day for most of the staff on post. This is the first day of "Beast" (or CBT - Cadet Basic Training), the first day being known as “R” day. Today is when the New Cadets arrive and report in the AM, while many of their parents wait until evening, when the New Cadets march on the field (known as the “Plain”) and take their oath to begin their process as New Cadets. It’s amazing to see what the Cadre can do with these young men and women in one day!
So, the CCs regrouped, ate some free food (subs in the Chaplain fridge), and headed over to the Cadet Chapel via the Chaplain van! We were introduced to the USMA (United States Military Academy) Chaplain’s wife (Mrs. Durham), and were invited in to their house. Their home is actually attached to the old Cadet Chapel! Many buildings here are made from granite here btw! It’s beautiful!
The time finally came when we were introduced to our Chaplain Supervisor, CH (MAJ) Berghaus. We had introductions, some casual small talk, a brief outline of the week, and then decided to report back tomorrow morning, where we would begin the in-processing. Five of us CCs are stationed here on post, one CC stationed at the West Point quarters just off post, another CC at a Holiday Inn a few miles off post, while the Mooney’s have a (very nice) hotel about 30 minutes from post! I for one am currently glad I’m on post, and easily accessible to any needs that may arise. On the other hand, going from the breakfast this morning, I’m pretty sure the CCs off post will have a better free meal every AM! I guess there’s always a give and take! I’m sure looking forward to tomorrow!

26 June 2011

Driving to West Point (part 2)

Today, I attended Mass with the Hocevar’s in downtown Cleveland. It was a treat to be introduced to a very historical and godly church in the heart of the city. After Mass, the Hocevar’s took me to lunch at Frank Sterle’s (my great-grandmother’s Slovenian maiden name)! The food was FANTASTIC!

If that wasn’t good enough, I had LEFTOVERS to take with me on the second leg of the road trip to West Point! I was so blessed to have this opportunity to spend with my friends on my journey to West Point! This brings me back on track: after lunch, I had to say goodbye to my dear friends.
To my delightful surprise, Barb packed me dinner in my portable cooler. Included inside was fruit, leftovers from lunch, and…wait for it…a LOAF of POTICA! I <3 you guys! I will be cherishing this loaf (for as long as I can make it last)! The drive to West Point, NY was smooth, with no problems. The A/C in my car is broken…but that’s no problem for me. It’s more of an issue for Lauren and Tirzah on long car rides. I arrived to West Point around 10:30pm. The post was incredibly dark and lacking street illumination. I couldn't see much at all while driving around. I finally found an entrance to Post, asked for directions to my quarters, and proceeded with caution, since my headlights were the only source of light. After driving for what seemed like forever, I found an MP (military police) officer and asked for further directions. He escorted me to my quarters (thank God), but then realized that I had to check-in to my quarters in a building OFF-POST first! So he gladly escorted me there as well. Praise God for a friendly escort! It was pretty easy after that. I was able to plug everything into my GPS so I wouldn’t get lost again. I’m looking forward to my first day on duty in the morning! Oh…I was warned about bears on post. Apparently a bear cub or two was spotted just the day before near my quarters! Sweet! I wonder what other wildlife I’ll see here?!

Meet Mr. Mushroom

Swinging at the park

25 June 2011

Driving to West Point (part 1)

The time has come for me to journey to West Point, NY to assist in a program called “The Beast.” This program is designed for New Cadets at West Point. The goal is at least two-fold: to filter out the uncommitted students, and to also develop and train our young men and women into professional and capable leaders of the United States Army. My job as a Chaplain Candidate is to provide spiritual support where possible, and to develop my own skills as a shepherd and guide. My orders are for 30 days, beginning this coming Monday. Oh yes – and I’ll be driving there – 14 hours one way!
Because of the long drive, I decided to take my time getting there, using the weekend as my buffer. I have some friends in Cleveland who was part of the RVL Israel team in the fall of 2009. The Hocevar family was extremely kind and generous to offer me a place to stay on my way to NY.
I left at 5:30am today, hoping to arrive around the lunch hour in Cleveland, OH, where my friends live. The traffic was extremely light at this time of day (being a Saturday morning), so I had no problems getting there. The tolls were insane however! I think I paid over $25! Praise God that the Army reimburses me at the end.
I arrived to the Hocevar’s just around lunch time. It was SO great to see my friends again! It was about 18 months since I had last seen them (on our Israel trip). David is around my age, and he works for his parents (John and Barb) at their insurance company. I guess technically he works for his dad, but Barb definitely plays a major role in the business as well :)

So I arrived to their beautiful home, and was greeted with the smell of steaks and chicken on the grill! David was the chef today, and boy was that a tasty dinner!
Next up for the day was a short drive over to a Slovenian celebration, to celebrate 20 years of Slovenian Statehood (independence from Yugoslavia) and 50 years of the Slovenska Pristava here in Cleveland. Little did I realize how much Slovenian blood I myself carry! It was truly an honor to witness this historic occasion of my cultural background. The Pristava here is beautiful! Click here for a link to their website! Some of the visitors to this party included:
the minister for Slovenes Abroad, Slovenian Ambassador to the United States, Slovenian Consul General, and the United States Ambassador to Slovenia! Click here for a PDF with my photo in it, as well as a better description of the event that took place!! I’m sitting next to my buddy David on the third page (look for the yellow arrow pointing).



So that was a wonderful afternoon/evening spent with my fellow Slovenian friends and family :)
After mingling for a while and attending the festivities, we went back home for the evening. Barb and David took me to the office, where we watched RVL’s latest DVDs on Israel! It sure brought make memories and brought everything back to life again! It was like having a mini-Bible study/Faith Lesson again together! I should also mention that the office is amazing! The landscaping and exterior/interior was all designed by John himself! Great work!

Feeding my Slovenian Hunger

For sure watch this first video! Amazing huh?!






13 June 2011

More MN

Tirzah did well on her third roundtrip travel to MN on the greyhound. We spent Friday evening with Lauren's family and her grandparents who are visiting from Georgia. On Saturday, Tirzah got to meet a baby boy her age. Jack and Tirzah sure were interested in one another. They held hands while staring into each other's eyes. We had a great time at Zeb and Sam's wedding Saturday evening. The lovely ceremony and reception were held on a little farm in Stillwater. The wedding pie was amazing! Late into the night, we hung out with Jon and Katie Brown and Lydia and Charles in Andover. Tirzah enjoyed attending college sunday school at Meadow Creek where she was, literally, passed around and took a good nap with Grandma. We went out to lunch and then shared pictures/videos with the McLellan family before going back home. Another wonderful trip to MN!

03 June 2011

Skydiving

Micah went skydiving yesterday at Skydive Midwest. No pictures (sorry), but it was a beautiful day to jump! He went with his buddy (and also co-worker) Tyrome ("The Falcon").

Yep - it was pretty amazing! The weather was warm, we ate at Chick-Fil-A, and the jump was a breeze! Thank you Groupon for the great deal! Can't wait to do that again!
- M+L

"Gonna Take a Walk Outside Today.

Gonna see what we can find today"

30 May 2011

Memorial Day

All our neighbors that go to First Free got together for a Memorial Day barbeque. Was a great day of sunshine and fellowship! Oh, and tasty food!

29 May 2011

Grilling and Chilling!

Though it was a little rainy, we spent the day grilling outside with our friends Nick and Lindsey. We set up a tent and threw some dogs on the grill. We played some games inside and enjoyed Lindsey's amazing cherry pie! Was a fun time!

Jumpin Jumpin Jumpin

Tirzah loves to hang out here!

25 May 2011

Drive-Ins & Hot Dogs

It's an hour drive out to the Cascade Drive-in Theater, but it's also $14 per carload for a double feature on Tuesdays! So we went! There's also a 50's style burger/hot dog joint next to the drive-in where you can get free refills for life after buying a big cup. The food is delicious and the shakes are yummy!

24 May 2011

Back we go!

Micah's brother Jacob was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army after 4 years of dedication in the ROTC program. So, we traveled to MN to be there for it. It was great to have lots of family in one place so we could see everyone. We also spent a day in Hudson seeing Lauren's family and friends. We also enjoyed an evening at Jon and Katie Brown's home. With Lydia, Charles, Danielle and Tirzah. We checked out the new Five Guy's in Dinkytown too – goooood stuff! Tirzah also attended her first wedding along with all of Micah's family.

16 May 2011

CAST

Micah was away for a week in Seattle, WA for Chaplain training with the Army. He came home with a big box of books and some great experiences.

08 May 2011

She'll fight for her rights!

Learning about the declaration of independence. Watch that fist!

04 May 2011

Baby Dedication

In a baby dedication, parents present their child before God, asking for grace and wisdom as they raise their child. Parents also pray for the ability to raise their child in the knowledge of God and that their child would come to know Jesus. Today we dedicated ourselves to this purpose by having Tirzah dedicated at First Free. Lauren's Aunt Tammy, Uncle Mark, cousin Austyn, and grandparents all traveled to be there for the dedication. We all went out for awesome bbq at Smoque BBQ after church.

02 May 2011

RVL

Almost a year ago we got tickets to see Ray Vander Laan speak out in Morris, IL. The conference was pushed back almost 6 months from the original date. So, we, unexpectedly had to bring Tirzah along. But, she did great. It was amazing how many people would come up to us to say hi to the baby and comment on how cute she is. Micah had enough points for a free stay at a Holiday Inn, so we were able to stay overnight in Morris. They serve a good breakfast!

27 April 2011

Baby Visits Minnesota

Tirzah went to MN for the first time. We took the Greyhound to Minneapolis (Tirzah was a trooper on the bus). We spent Saturday in Hudson and many of Lauren's family came over to meet Tirzah. For Easter, we went over to the Nystrom's house for some (seriously!) good eats. Besides the tasty treats, we enjoyed hanging out with family and passing Tirzah around. On Monday, we crazily drove around the Twin Cities meeting up with people: Micah's high school friend Ashley, Evelyn Gullickson (107 years old and she's still as sharp and witty as ever!), Micah's grandparents, Lauren's Aunt Brenda, Lydia, Micah's Aunt Pam, Camden, Tyler, Grandpa McLellan, Lauren's friend Natalie, and then for dinner at Old Chicago we ate with Jon and Katie Brown, Micah's family, Larysa, Luke and Ashton....and I think that's all...whew! Oh, wait, that evening some of us went over to Jacob and Kristen's place for dessert. It was a busy, but fun day! Tirzah had some ups and downs, but did well considering how crazy our schedule was! We left Tuesday morning on the bus to go home. Tirzah was great on the bus again (she sure proved the driver wrong – the grumpy driver made a mean comment about having a baby on board).












05 April 2011

Videos of Tirzah

Tirzah had quite a conversation with her lion toy


Tirzah is so tech savy - she loves using Skype to talk with Grandma

30 March 2011

Grandma's coming on the greyhound!

Micah's Grandma Sonia just couldn't wait to meet Tirzah. No, really, she couldn't wait for us to travel to MN to meet Tirzah. So, she bravely took the Greyhound bus to Chicago. We had a lot of fun eating out at yummy restaurants, visiting, and holding the baby. Tirzah liked great grandma singing hymns to put her to sleep. We even had a little date to go out for ice cream while grandma babysat.

19 March 2011

Kuehls Visit

Micah's Aunt Ranelle, Uncle Bruce, and cousins Moriah and Crosby were in the Chicago area checking out colleges. Micah spent the day with them touring the Moody and North Park campuses. We all went out for Deep Dish pizza for dinner. It was fun to introduce Tirzah and spend some quality time together.

16 March 2011

McLellan Family Visits

Micah's Mom, Jake and Kristen were on Spring Break, so they, Lydia, Charles and Micah's dad were able to come visit with us. The siblings couldn't stay long, but we had fun exploring downtown on Saturday - eating at Portillo's (it was crazy there because of St. Patrick's Day approaching) the Hershey store, American Girl store, and the old water tower. That night we all went swing dancing at our church. After the siblings left Sunday morning, we all went to church. We enjoyed eating out, watching movies, talking, adoring the baby, and just enjoying each other's company. On Monday, it was free to go to the Field Museum, so we went! Tirzah was great and slept most of the time. We got there just before it got really busy and enjoyed checking out the geological exhibit and discussing the evolution exhibit. And, of course, it was fun to see all the dinosaurs! Lauren and Dee really liked the gem/jewelry exhibit :) There was also a McDonald's on the bottom floor of the museum which was themed after an archeological dig. Cool!



11 March 2011

Photo Shoot

A few weeks ago we had a professional photographer come to our home to take some pictures of Tirzah and our family. Enjoy!!!

CSA

A few times over the winter season, our church hosts the community farmer's market. Last time our church hosted, Micah and I spent some time at a booth offering a CSA share. We hemmed and hawed about whether to join - we decided to wait. CSA stands for community supported agriculture. A CSA works like this - "a farmer offers a certain number of "shares" to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a "membership" or a "subscription") and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season." This is a great way to get local, organic, fresh produce every week. There are some down sides to partaking in a CSA share. The produce tends to be a little expensive and when invested in a CSA you're taking a risk that the produce your farm makes doesn't turn out.

After researching all the CSA's available in the Chicago area, we decided on Farmer Tom's CSA (http://www.farmertomscsa.com/). Unlike most CSA's, Tom's requires only a small membership fee and then weekly payments when you pick up your produce. It's offered year round (organic goodies are brought in during the winter months). And the pick-up location is only a 5 minute drive from our home.

Last week was our first week getting produce from Tom's. We got quite a variety of produce:
Broccoli
Bok Choy
Gator Skin Russet Potatoes
Lemons
Yellow Onions
Carrots
Sage
Green Leaf Lettuce
Beauregard Sweet Potatoes
Watercress*
Purple Top Turnips
Collards
Tomatoes
English Peas
Bosc Pears
Pink Lady Apples
Bananas



It was all perfectly ripe and fresh. Lauren wasn't sure what to do with a few of the ingredients (collard greens?!?). This week, however, we ate a lot more vegetables in our diet than normal.

Out of curiosity, Lauren took a pen and pad to the local Jewel-Osco (equivalent to a CUB Foods for your Minnesotans) and wrote down all the non-organic prices of the same produce we got from Farmer Tom. Jewel actually turned out to be a few dollars more expensive than what we got from the CSA!!! So, since the food we're getting is organic we are getting quite a (yummy) deal!

09 March 2011

Johnson Grandparents Visit

On Saturday, Lauren's parents took the megabus to come visit us. On Sunday we went to church and then headed to Tammy and Mark's house in Wisconsin for lunch. We stayed until late in the evening and had fun chatting, playing with the dogs, and watching Youtube videos. On Monday we went to the Icosium Cafe for Algerian crepes. They were delicious! We went on a few errands and then hung out at home watching a movie and visiting. It was also bath night for Tirzah. On Tuesday we went to Ann Sather's for breakfast (can you tell we go there a lot? :) ) and checked out the Swedish History Museum right by our apartment. We walked in and it happened to be the one free day per month that the museum offers. We looked at an art exhibit and then an exhibit all about the immigration of Swedes to Chicago and the history of Swedes within Chicago. It was pretty interesting. That night we all made dinner together and watched a mini-series about Shackelton's adventures in Antarctica. This morning we Skyped with Lauren's grandma and then it was time to say farewell. We really enjoyed our time with our visitors and love watching them adore our daughter.

Here is a slideshow of our weekend (mostly shots of Tirzah) :)

06 March 2011

03 March 2011

Tirzah's First Smile

Tirzah smiled for the first time today!
Caught her 2nd smile on video! :)

01 March 2011

1 Month Appointment

Tirzah went to see the doctor for her 1 month appointment today. She has gained another pound and has grown an inch longer since birth. She had her biliruben levels tested since she's still looking a little yellow and her Hep B booster shot. Her biliruben levels are safe and it's just something she'll have to grow out of in the next few weeks. She barely even cried during the heel prick and shot - she was such a good little patient!

28 February 2011

2nd Anniversary

While Lauren's friends were in town, they volunteered to babysit Tirzah so we could go out for our 2nd anniversary/Lauren's birthday. After getting home from downtown Chicago, Lauren got a text from Micah to feed the cat. In the cat's food bin was a clue that began a fun scavenger hunt throughout the apartment. Attached to each clue was a puzzle piece and something to bring along for the date (movie candy, gift certificates, clothes to wear, etc.) The puzzle pieces came together to form a romantic letter. After getting dressed up, Micah took Lauren to Quince Restaurant. He had booked a table in the kitchen for a 5 course meal - but because of a pipe leak from the complex above the restaurant, we had to eat in the main dining area. As a consolation, we got a table right next to a great big fireplace, special flowers on our table, and our meal was bumped up to 8 courses (1. carrot ravioli topped with a beet reduction, parsnip cream sauce, and lambic foam and carrot cake over roasted hazelnuts on the side. (it was 1 ravioli with a piece of carrot cake that was half an inch cubed in size) 2. Oyster Au Gratin (with a bunch of sauces on top that I can't remember) 3. Lobster over a yukon gold potato blini, topped with salmon and sturgeon caviar, herb cake, crab, and Kaffir lime. 4. Seabass topped with caesar salad with sides of garlic gnocchi, mushroom topped with quail egg, and anchovy wrapped lemon wedge. 5. Pouissin topped with fennnel, meyer lemon, sides of squash, mushroom and artichoke. 6. Short rib over orzo, topped with sunchoke, salsify, beet, spinach, pine nuts, shallot, and garlic. 7. Peppercorn ice cream cone plated with grahams over vanilla custard and lemon curd. 8. Chocolate Crêpes filled with dark chocolate, plated with white chocolate, toffee, and raspberry preserve.) Everything was in tiny portions but was delicious! It's a good thing we didn't have to pay the normal price for this meal ($110 per person!!!)
After our lovely dinner, we went to the movies and saw "Unknown." It was a decent flick with lots of action and mystery. We mostly just enjoyed the time together. It was a lovely evening to celebrate our 2nd year of marriage.


Lauren doing the scavenger hunt


All dressed up! We're a family :)


Quince Restaurant

27 February 2011

Small Group Service & Girls Weekend

On Friday, Micah helped with our small group to serve dinner to the church youth group. They made sloppy joes and had fun hanging out with the kids.





Lauren stayed home with the baby and waited for Danielle and her friends, Alisha, Emma and Lorna to arrive. Her girlfriends all came for the weekend to see the baby. That evening they walked around the neighborhood and had some good Italian food.

On Saturday, Micah had to drill so the girls all went downtown. They took the "el" train (Tirzah's first train ride!) downtown to Millenium park and then walked up the Magnificent Mile. They stopped at Portillo's for a traditional Chicago hot dog before heading home.

19 February 2011

Jonelle and Rick Visit

Jonelle and Rick came to visit! Lauren's cousin Pete graduated from Navy boot camp less than an hour from where we live. So his parents were in the area for his graduation. We had lunch together (Ann Sathers - yum!) and enjoyed catching up. Thanks for stopping by guys!

15 February 2011

Dr. Appointment

Today was Tirzah's two week doctor appointment. Little miss piggy has gained another pound and got a clean bill of health!

13 February 2011

McLellans Visit

While the Johnson folks were still visiting, our guests multiplied and Micah's parents, friend Anya, and sister Ariel came from MN to visit. We did more hanging out, eating, and adoring the baby. Micah's dad did a great job fixing our bedroom door as well - thanks!!! On Saturday night, we got a cake and celebrated Lauren's birthday early. They had to leave early Sunday morning, but it was a short, sweet visit.




11 February 2011

Johnson (Grand)parents Visit

Lauren's parents flew in to Chicago to visit us (mostly Tirzah :). We all spent most of our time relaxing, enjoying each others' company, and admiring the little one. The parents cooked some great meals for us too!

Lauren's Aunt Tammy and Uncle Mark came down from Wisconsin for dinner one night too. They brought dinner and cute clothes/gifts for Tirzah. It was great to see them!


07 February 2011

Superbowl!

This Sunday we enjoyed hanging out with our small group to watch the Superbowl. There was lots of great food and conversation. Everyone enjoyed meeting Tirzah and she got passed around and cuddled by almost everyone. Most of the crew was rooting for the Steelers though Lauren and one other gal hoped for a Packer win. Most everyone was more interested in the commercials however :)

04 February 2011

Chicago Blizzard, Penny meets Tirzah, and Friends Visit!

Here is a video of Tirzah meeting Penny (our cat), a trip to Target, and a look at the Chicago blizzard!


Tirzah's umbilical cord came off tonight after putting some rubbing alcohol on it (that was quick)!


Our friends Nic and Lindsey came over to visit and to meet Tirzah! They also brought us dinner! It was amazing! Quiche, some French apple, carrot dish (very tasty), and fruit!


We played Mad Gab (Bible edition) and Farkle - both very fun! Lauren and Lindsey won the Mad Gab (by one point)!


Love,
M&L

NEW videos and slideshow of Tirzah Eve!

Greetings!
I created two more videos: the "final" versions of our hospital visit and delivery of Tirzah. The first video is a very quick summary/highlight of this wonderful experience.
The second video is the "full-length" video, with all kosher clips compiled into about 25 minutes.
Also included on this post is a slideshow, beginning at our arrival to Evanston Hospital, to a few days after being home. Enjoy!!
- M&L

1. Highlight video:


2. Full-length video:


3. Slideshow:

30 January 2011

Tirzah Eve

I updated this video! Make sure to raise the resolution on the lower right hand corner before viewing :)

29 January 2011

The Arrival of Tirzah Eve (condensed)

Enjoy!

Welcome to the world!

Our beautiful daughter, Tirzah Eve, was born today at 2:23am! Weighing at 7lb, 4oz, she is just a bundle of joy! In case you don't know, Tirzah is the name found in Numbers 27, and is also the name of a beautiful city in Israel (Song of Songs 6:4)! Her name means "delightful" and Eve means "life" :)
Click Here for a link to a video compilation I put together! More stuff to come!

Lauren's family arrived early this morning, and was able to meet our dear Tirzah just a few hours after being born! Just a few hours later my brother Jacob and his dear wife Kristen arrived to greet our daughter as well!

Evanston Hospital has been just wonderful. The doctors and nurses have been very caring, supportive, and helpful. The food is really good here too! Lauren is recovering very well after labor, and was quite a trooper through the whole process. The nurses and doctors were impressed with her great attitude :)

Michael and Brittany came by later on to meet our dear one, and they brought COLDSTONE CUPCAKES! This means ice cream/cake-type/cookie-like cupcakes! Pretty much the best things ever! So we all hung out and caught up for a while! Thanks guys for coming!

My good friend Tyrome (from Moody) came to visit as well! Lauren's folks took us all out (except for Lauren of course) for dinner at a tasty Middle-Eastern place on Devon!

It was a long day and I'm ready to crash. Enjoy the videos I posted! Thanks to Doc Fuder and all of our friends and family who called us to check in! We are so blessed to be supported and encouraged by you!

Love,
M&L

27 January 2011

Fall Semester 2010 Slideshow!!!!

Our Family and Friends,
If you have about 6.5 minutes, check out our fall semester slideshow from 2010. Hopefully this will fill in what we've been up to this past semester (and lax on blogging)!
Included are some of these events:
Eating some MN apples, volunteering at a conference at Moody church, visiting MN for a few days, hanging out with friends, getting ready to move, games at work, Thanksgiving lunch with Student Council at Moody, our fathers coming down to help us with projects in our new apartment, and going home for Christmas!!
Enjoy!
- M&L

woah...

Apparently Lauren and I were blogging at the SAME TIME! (Yes, she beat me by about 5 seconds)! How weird!

Love,
M&L

Warm again!

The heat FINALLY came back on today! 3 days of on-off heat! But our faithful church took care of us! Lauren was having minor contractions all last night, but nothing developed yet! We went for a drive and a long walk later in the afternoon (Ikea!), so that was good for Lauren to walk around a bit!
Dr. appointment tomorrow! We'll keep you posted!

Heat!

This afternoon our heat finally got fixed - it looks like it's gonna stay working this time too! While the heat was being worked on, we drove over to Ikea to walk around. Walking is supposed to help get labor going, and Lauren didn't want to be walking down the icy Chicago sidewalks. We had fun strolling through Ikea and didn't even buy a thing. We are just hanging out enjoying the evening together. Hope this baby makes its appearance soon!

26 January 2011

Cookies yay!

I went to Moody today. I worked, and also had a meeting with the admissions crew. I'm now a "Student Ambassador" which basically means that I hang out with prospective students, answer questions, and take them to lunch!
Work was pretty chill today. I made a bunch of phone calls to my Army unit to learn about the details for this weekend's Yellow Ribbon event for the families of our deployed Soldiers. I might even be leading one of the sessions!

Lauren made Snickerdoodle cookies this evening! She's the greatest!

Off to more thank you card writing!

Love,
M&L

25 January 2011

Heat...is out again...

Yep…the heat went out again! Hopefully we can get this back on soon (for Lauren’s sake)! Of course, being native Minnesotans, we can handle the low temperature, but our child, not being a Minnesotan per-say, might not like this cold weather as much!

24 January 2011

"By Grapthar's hammer... what a savings"

January 24, 2011
Lauren and I were finally able to sleep in for the first time since school started! It was great! The furnace repair guy was also able to fix the heat so we were able to wake up to a semi-warm apartment. By the middle of the day we had to shut off another radiator valve because it was too warm! I spent a good portion of the day replying to emails (I still have about 100 left), calling my unit to wrap up some unfinished business, and doing homework. Later that evening I took Lauren out to see a triple feature for only $1! That’s right! The “Brew and View” at the Vic is a “bar”/theater where current movies are shown and people order in food from nearby community eateries! Lauren and I scored it big when we discovered we basically were the only people there for the first movie (Megamind)! Also showing was the Social Network and a third movie that we didn’t stay for! We ordered a pizza and got one free (go Monday night specials!) and paid almost nothing for a fantastic night at the movies!
I still feel WAY behind on correspondence (thank you letters, emails, etc) and homework, but I know that God will give me the time to do what I need to, as long as I look to Him first. As I write this I realize just how much time I’m not giving Him. Maybe I should stop now and make that effort eh? :)
(Later today…) – Lauren and I sold a dresser we had on CraigsList! The person who bought it was extremely excited to get it! We were blessed to bless someone else!
Still no heat in our apt….lol
We also uploaded our first test from our Flip online! Looks sweet!
Love,
M & L

18 January 2011

MN Visitors!

This past weekend, Micah's parents drove down to spend some time with us. We had a great time hanging out watching movies, chatting, visiting the Alder Planetarium, and checking out some great restaurants. We got to go to church together too!

Micah has had a good start to his semester and Lauren has been able to go to class with him, which has been great. Lauren has doctor appointments on a weekly basis now and everything looks right on schedule with the baby.

That's all folks!

11 January 2011

Baby Pool

Some of Micah's family have done "baby pools" for friends and family to guess their baby's name, birth date, etc. and we thought it would be fun to do the same. If you want to play along (which you should since there are prizes involved), here's the dealio:


Part 1: Guess the birthday! When do you think Baby Mc is coming? Give a date and time.
Hint: The baby's "official" due date is January 28th.

Part 2: Guess the size! Will Baby Mc be a porker? Guess the baby's weight (in lbs and ounces).

Part 3: Guess the gender! Do you think Baby Mc is a boy or a girl (yes, those are your only options :) )


Prizes:
Whoever has the best birth date and/or weight guess will receive a gift card towards lunch at their favorite eatery.
For those who guess the gender correctly- well you win the satisfaction of knowing you were right!

Guesses must be in by January 17th!

Comment on this posting to place your guesses!
(Remember to include your name with your post)

08 January 2011

Visit to MN!

Our generous parents pooled their cash together and bought us plane tickets to come visit the first week in January. We got out of Chicago the evening of Lauren's last day of work and spent New Year's Eve hanging out with Micah's family eating lots of goodies.

The Sunday after New Year's, Danielle (Lauren's sis) threw her a baby shower. It was book themed, so guests brought a children's book in lieu of a card, we ate book and owl cupcakes, and played some games about children's books. It was a fun day! Lauren got lots of wonderful gifts - including homemade hoodie towels from Emma and an entire croqueted outfit from Grandma Johnson. Micah was allowed to join the women for opening gifts :)

We spent the next few days visiting friends and lounging around the Johnson house with Danielle. We went out for appetizers at Green Mill with some of Micah's family, Jon & Katie, and Jamey.

On Wednesday night, Micah and his dad had a bunch of guys over to watch Band of Brothers outside in the snow (they watched the winter episodes). The ladies stayed inside, wrapped in blankets, sipping hot chocolate, and watching a Jane Austen movie. Both sexes think they had the better time. :)

Lydia and Ariel put together a great shower on Thursday night - it had quite the turn out - more than 20 people! We played a few games, gabbed, and ate tasty food. Again, we were blessed by the generosity of friends and family. Ariel and Katie Brown made beautiful baby blankets and the Camplin clan pitched in to buy the baby a crib!

On Friday and Saturday all the McLellans got together to have a second (Russian) Christmas and exchange more gifts and good times. We ate well and enjoyed hanging out.

We were ready to go home on Saturday, but had a great time relaxing and hanging out with family and friends.