Saturday, December 31, 2011

new year, new design

I've used the same blog template for 4 years.  It's hard to believe that 4 years have passed and I've used this blog to chronicle our family life.  With the approach of 2012 and our impending move across the pond, I thought it was time for a new look.  And perhaps a new name may be in order... more on that in the days ahead.  Anyway, I'll try out the rainy look for a while, then maybe switch it up.  Stay tuned...

Saturday, December 17, 2011

birth pains

No, I'm not pregnant.  As I look at the clear blue California sky, I'm thinking about storms and moving and birthdays.

There is a lot of stuff going on right now.  As we get ready for Christmas and our big move you could imagine our family being swept up in a storm, consumed by the chaos around us and unable to control our actions and emotions.  But the funny thing about being in the middle of something like a storm or even childbirth, is the clarity that comes when you least expect it.

They say all sorts of stuff about being in a storm... Like it's calm in the eye of the storm or there's a calm before the storm. I don't know much about true storms. In this part of California we don't have much crazy weather, our only natural disaster claim to fame is earthquakes and there's no warning, or calm before or calm in the eye of it. There's only aftermath. I think birth is like a storm, a coming experience that will change you, test you and prove you.

2000 years ago an entire nation was on the move, everyone heading to his hometown to be counted in a census. Sheesh, giving birth in the middle of that movement would put a girl on edge. But then the most peaceful, life-giving thing happened. The Savior was born.

3 years ago we had just moved. My body was a storm, a hostile environment for a baby. We were on edge, praying for calm, normal blood pressure and liver and kidneys that would hold on for 37 weeks. I remember being on bed rest, trying my best to pray for peace while my head buzzed with ache and I could feel my blood racing through my body. Our baby girl was delivered, she was the most peaceful, sweet presence, but I continued to expand into a puffy marshmallow. Medicine and the sweetness of Hayden eased me back to normal and we were finally able to go home.

Today, everyone asks us how things are going, I think they expect us to be drenched by a storm. We are happy to report that God is holding us in the calm eye of what could be a Category 5 hurricane. We are experiencing peace and joy as we prepare of Christmas and prepare for the birth of our new life in Scotland. Like any pregnant woman, we are both nesting and going through crazy de-cluttering streaks. We are filled with anticipation and hope. We are constantly reassuring the kids that we will love them through this transition, that the new arrival will not disrupt our family, but make us stronger and more united in love.

I'm excited about our new birth. Sure, it will disrupt life as we know it, it will be a BIG move, it will be a bit painful, and it will cause some tears. But our family will never be the same and for that I am grateful.

Friday, November 18, 2011


I'm still processing concepts from our time at SPLICE.  And I'm also doing that really lame thing where you think of what you should have said and it's always way better than what you actually said.  I'm specifically thinking of our survey/comment card thingies we filled out on the last day.  I wish I had recommended the word "bittersweet" to replace the concept of "paradox".

I like bittersweet.  I especially like it in regards to food.  Bittersweet chocolate, salted caramel, kettle corn, you know, all of those foods that taste good because they spark more than one taste on your tongue.  The Grahams had a bag of candy corn mixed with dry roasted peanuts.  Genius.

Paradox was ok.  And that "pair of ducks" was pretty cute too.  But just think about how great it would have been to discuss the concept while eating!

I must be really hungry right now.  Sorry about that.  But the point is, I appreciate the idea that you can't have one without the other.  And in fact, one is better because you had the other in your life and vice versa.  Let me unpack that:

When we drove away from MTI the kids were in the backseat, waving to everyone as we pulled out of the parking lot.  But as we drove further away, their joy turned to grief and they began to wail.  I don't remember a time when both of my kids were crying like that when it didn't involve injury or punishment.   Their mourning was deep and powerful, it broke me and I wanted to fling myself over the seat to wrap my arms around them and shield them from the pain.  In that moment as their hearts were breaking I realized that they felt this immense pain because they had opened up their hearts to love so deeply.  They could not have the great sorrow without the great love.

Do you ever think about where you were the first time you heard a song?  I do that a lot.  The first time I heard the song "Blessed be your Name" was at a memorial service.  For a baby.  Let that sink in as you scan through the lyrics.  I remember seeing the mother in the front row with her hands lifted up as she sang.  The lyrics HAD to be true, otherwise she had no hope.  We have to bless the name of the Lord when the sun is shining down on us and on the road marked with suffering.  He has to be the God of both, otherwise we have no hope.

I appreciate the SPLICE paradox as we move into this season of holidays.  We are doing our best to make this holiday season special for everyone because in a short time things will be different.  I'm afraid though, that many of or friends and family will dwell on the sadness side of our departure and I want to encourage everyone to live on both sides of the paradox.  Would you consider rejoicing with us?

We are rejoicing in the midst of leaving.  We are rejoicing because God has asked us to do something different and we have no greater joy than walking down the road that He has prepared for us.  We are rejoicing because we have the opportunity to fully appreciate the depth of our love for YOU as we experience the heartache of leaving YOU.

Sheesh, my keyboard is soggy.

It's the reason Darren needs a large cup of coffee to make it through a slice of cheesecake.  You need both tastes to fully appreciate the dessert.  This is our God.  He gives and takes away.  Blessed be His name.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

different is just different

(Jason and Cameron at the Denver Aquarium, near the tiger ?! exhibit)

Cameron is no longer allowed to use the word "weird".  At SPLICE we learned that "different is just different", it is not weird, bad, unusual, strange, awful or any other word with a negative connotation.  And so now, whenever our family encounters something that is different, we have a new mindset.

(Cam strikes a mermaid pose on one of the climbing rocks at the awesome MTI playground)

The problem is, WE are different.

(Jason soaked up every minute of the Air Force Academy tour)

I realized on the long drive home that we are now the ones who are different.  We are the ones who are leaving the comfort of the known for the discomfort of the unknown.  We are the ones whose hearts ache for new friends scattered across the globe.  We are the ones who have been changed by our time away.

(The kids riding a buffalo, as all Coloradans do, at the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center)

You at home are not weird, bad, unusual, strange or awful for not having this calling.  You are different from us.  We need you to be different.  We need you to love us, support us and pray for us.  We need you to be different.

(The girls were prepared for trick-or-treating and the SPLICE gang was ready and waiting at every door.  Jason was out with his friend's family for a birthday party.)

From now on we will be different.  We will be those strange missionaries who come "home" but feel awkward because this is no longer our home.  Our kids will have cute accents.  We will spell words incorrectly.

(Brian and Emily are Hayden's new best friends.  They are serving with Kids Alive in the Dominican Republic.)

So the question is: are you ready for this?  Are you ready for the difference?  Will it change our relationships?

(Cam and her new friend Emma.  Now when she says, "Mom, I wanna go to Uganda SO BAAAAAAD!" she has another very good reason.)

Or will you continue to check out this blog, send us emails, reply to our statuses on facebook, and love us from across the pond?

(We all froze at the Grand Canyon.  Here Hayden does her best to keep her hood on.)

We promise we'll write back.  We promise to love you back.

(The kids take a break from walking at the Hoover Dam.  Insert dam joke here.)

Because really, difference can be a good thing.  And different can just be different.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What about the kids?

Are you wondering what the kids are doing while we are in class? Well, so am I! At the end of the day we get mini reports from the kids about what they learned that day. They are having a great time here, so I thought I'd share just a bit of what I know.

Hayden is in a 2's and 3's class. In her words, "there's 5 kids in my class, but Sadie Fletcher is not in my class.". Poor baby, she misses her best friend! She has a lovely teacher named Michelle. During the mornings the kids have a lesson, do a craft, sing and have snacks. She is learning a "Hayden-sized" version of what we are discussing in our classes. For instance, when we were discussing transition or stress she is learning "God cares for me". She is getting a solid foundation in who loves her and how she can be confident in that no matter where we go. In the afternoons the kids have to lay down for a nap time and that is NOT going well for Hayden. She hasn't had an official nap in nearly a year and she cannot understand why she must start now. They have all kids rest here because the altitude affects everyone and requires more rest than usual.

Cameron is thriving here, well, in class anyway. In the cafeteria she is struggling. I think she ate Cinnamon Toast Crunch for every meal the first 2 days we were here. I went to the store and bought here some Cam food, so she should have some balanced meals from now on. Anyway, in class, she is thriving. Cam is in a class with 2 other girls and she is loving her time with them. She marches into class every morning with no looking back so I am confident that she is comfortable here. Cam's lessons go a little deeper and she is learning to express her feelings better. I am grateful for this new vocabulary and the help in understanding how she is processing our transition time. Today both Cam and Jason's classes went on a surprise field trip. The excitement of the unknown was building for two days until today they realized that the unknown can contain really great things. The kids were taken to Garden of the Gods, a natural wonder of Colorado and they were able to learn, explore and climb.

Jason's class has three kids in it, one other boy and a girl. The three kids get along very well and they spend all of their spare time together. In fact right now they are in a fierce air hockey battle. He is learning so much about cultural differences and how to express himself. He will also be learning conflict resolution, friendship skills and many other skills that he can carry over to his new life abroad. I think Jason is a learning sponge and this time is fun for him. The kids will have two more field trips and they are very excited for them.

This time for the kids is invaluable. As a home school mom I constantly worry about how they will adapt to group situations, classroom dynamics or other authority figures. So far, so good. I am daily encouraged that our decision to home school didn't mess them up! I am also encouraged that our call to the mission field won't mess them up either. My home schooled, PK turned MKs will be all right!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Splice @ MTI

Welcome to the wonderful world of missions acronyms! The title of my post is the name of the program we are attending (splice) and our location (Mission Training International). Most of you loyal readers know that we have gone to Colorado this month, but I'm sure not many of you could explain why! We are here for training on how to leave our home culture and enter a new one. It may seem excessive to do training when we are going to an English speaking, western culture, but already we can see that this time will be a great benefit to us and we are glad to be here.

We drove for three days to get here, and the kids have been great. Not every moment, but for the most part they have been good travelers. Our first leg of the journey was on Friday and we drove from home to Las Vegas. The kids loved the lights on the Strip. Cameron kept exclaiming,"I LOVE Las Vegas!". Hayden kept asking, "is this Disneyland?". Jason was impressed with the giant sphinx, the Eiffle Tower, and the Statue of Liberty.

The second day of our trip was from Vegas to Green River, Utah. The drive was beautiful at times and incredibly boring at other times. The kids were very disappointed because the town and hotel were not nearly as exciting as Vegas. The third day we drove to Denver. The drive over the Rocky Mountains was spectacular. We especially enjoyed the Eisenhower tunnel. We arrived at our hotel and were happy to celebrate our arrival with a dinner at Chili's. The next day we had some free time before our check in at MTI so we took the kids to the Denver Aquarium. We saw the Mermaid Show and I'm pretty sure that the girls are now aspiring to be mermaids when they grow up!

I am very sorry that I forgot to pack the cord that connects the camera to the computer. When we get home I'll do a post of all pictures from the trip. Until then Darren will have to post pictures to Facebook for all the grandparents to get their fixes :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

field trippin'

This week I declared a break from formal school work.  We have completed 9 weeks of curriculum (one quarter) and the kids and I are zombies.  I wanted to take some time to enjoy learning so this week we are taking a different approach.

Step one:  Hit the library.  No, not the San Miguel library, the one that's the size of my living room with all the same books that we have been reading for the past 3 years.  We went to the big city and checked out books and movies about things that interest the kids.  For Cameron, we found art, ballet and fashion design books.  For Jason, we found books about how stuff works and history.  Every morning this week we have spent a leisurely morning reading and enjoying our special interests.

Step two:  Get out of the house!  This is a big deal for me.  With the recent death and resurrection of our car I had spent WAY too much time cooped up in the house with my lovely children.  On Monday we went to Avila Valley Barn for some apple picking and today we strolled around the grounds of the San Miguel mission.

I think the kids and I need two kinds of field trips.  We need trips that are fun.  These trips like apple picking appear to be only for our enjoyment but they secretly open the kids eyes about where food comes from and how it takes a lot of work to get it from the orchard to their plate.  The second kind of trip we need is one that makes connections.  I need to express to my kids that the history in their books is real and actually happened.  We can walk the grounds of historic places and talk about so many things.  Today Jason and I discovered that the California mission system was developed during the late 1700's to early 1800's.  Our mission was founded in 1776, the same year that the boys back in Philadelphia were literally sweating out our country's founding documents.  We also made connections between the mission and the cathedral he had visited in Glasgow.  We call our mission a "poor man's cathedral".  It is the same design idea constructed with our local materials (clay and straw).

While Jason made a lot of connections today, I could see that Cameron was still in fact finding mode.  She was creeped out while we sat in the sanctuary and talked about the pictures on the walls.   She liked the idea of Bible stories in paintings so that illiterate people could understand, but she DID NOT like the all-seeing Eye of God staring down at her from the front of the sanctuary (picture a fluffy cloud with sunbeams bursting out from behind it--not bad, but then in the middle of the cloud is a gold triangle with a giant eyeball staring out into the room).  She also had a big problem with the musty smells of the buildings :)

Tomorrow and Friday we will have more adventures.  Until then we will enjoy our fresh homemade applesauce and plenty of good books!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

living in the in between...

Yesterday Darren texted me and suggested I put up a new blog post, it had been a month since the last one.  All I could think was, where did this month go?  And then I got to thinking...

1.  We had a major yard sale.  Well, not as major as I would have liked, but as I told people : "This time, I'm selling stuff I actually use!"  If you've ever been to a yard sale you know exactly what I mean.  The early birds swipe anything resembling a good deal and all that's left for the folks who enjoy sleeping in a bit  are the castoffs of your garage or attic.  As soon as I decided to let go of a lot of my extra serving dishes, storage containers and kitchen stuff that I only use once in a while, this happened:

2.  We've been hosting friends and get-togethers like crazy!  Yeah.  I'm not really an impromptu kind of girl, but this past month we've had a lot of unexpected drop-in moments that have been quite fun.  It's a good learning experience for me in creativity and scouring the pantry for ways to make food and drink stretch.  Also, it's been humbling to be satisfied with a half-decorated house and a limited kitchen.  As if that weren't humbling enough:

3.  Hayden is potty-training.  Yes, this is a humbling experience for me.  Have you ever chased a 2  1/2 year old around, trying to convince her that dancing will not make the pee-pee feeling go away?  Have you ever showed up to home group with a froggy potty seat?  Have you ever just barely put your slip-covers back on after a fresh wash before company shows up at the door?  Ha, ha!  Maybe I just eliminated point #2!

She's doing a great job and I think she's finally got the hang of it.  Although, I'm not sure we are ready to end the M&M rewards!

4.  The Kia died and came back to life.  I know, stop right there:  we bought a Kia, therefore we should have expected a major mishap.  But honestly,  I don't think this was a coincidence.  We have been experiencing lots of bumps along the road to Scotland.  We are extremely grateful to all who have surrounded us with support as we went through this ordeal.

5.   Despite the earlier remarks about the kitchen stuff, I am really enjoying giving stuff away.  I just recently gave my desk to a friend.  My dining table is promised to another friend, my couch is claimed and I'd really like to give my treadmill to another friend.  As I look around my house I realize that the stuff we own is trivial.  I have a husband who loves me, healthy children and most importantly a great God who has called us all to pick up and go.   I'm so excited about the call that I could care less about the stuff in my house!

So that's what's up at the Rusco House.  I've heard that it's fall, but nobody gave San Miguel the message, so we continue to bake in our 90 degree weather.   We are preparing to drive to Colorado next month for some training.  The kids will have a break from school, but I'll probably be a dorky home school mom and make the road trip a learning experience anyway!  Hopefully, I'll blog about that journey :)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

step by step...

Little things are happening here at the Rusco House.  This week, the kids received their passports in the mail.  Jason and Cameron had old passports from our trip to Uganda in 2007, but it was time to renew and get Hayden her first passport.  This process was not simple.  The first major hurdle was getting a picture of our girls.  Both girls have a crippling shyness issue when it comes to strangers taking their picture (I'm actually quite ok with that... there's a lot of creeps in the world!).  Darren found a passport photo app for his phone (insert Apple slogan here) and tried to get a good picture of the kids.  Jason agreed right away, look at the camera, don't smile, etc, but Hayden had a bit of difficulty.

 And then there was Cameron.  For a while now we had been impressed with Cameron's progress from turbulent toddler to fantastic five year old.  Unfortunatley, the girl hit a major setback.  This summer she has been in a phase where she refuses to have her picture taken, you may remember this:

Sweet, isn't it?  So we have a whole summer of shots like this and my stealth attempts to take pictures while the little darling is unaware of me.  And then it was time to take a passport photo.  She had a meltdown the magnitude of which we have not seen in these parts for nearly 2 years.
Because honestly, wouldn't you laugh if your kid refused to have a picture taken?  Finally, in an eleventh hour attempt, Darren snagged THIS photo:

My little Lindsey Lohan.  I am one proud mama.  When she got her passport in the mail, I think Cameron was a little embarrassed at what she had done.  So for the next 5 years Cam will travel the world with this little number, let's all pray that she is in a better phase the next time around!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

first day of school

I think many of you are expecting a glowing report of our first week of school.  Truth be told, it was tough.  We needed to get a jump on our school year because we will be gone for a month this fall and we'll be making a big move this winter.  We also finished our last school year 3 weeks ahead of the local schools so I figured it would be ok to start 3 weeks ahead again.  Our schooling only takes about 3 hours a day, from 9am to noon.  In that time we cover Bible, Math, Grammar, Reading, Science and History.  We do science experiments and also art projects, weekly.  The kids have lunch and then have a huge recess / P.E. time until dinner.  I think that the some of the best learning they can do is through imaginative play with their friends.
So why wasn't our week awesome?  I think that it is quite simply because no one likes to be told what to do.  I remember standing in front of 20 teenagers, trying to figure out why so many of them weren't interested in school.  I think the feeling is universal no matter what age or how you were brought up.  We all have this idea that our time is our own and we should not have to be somewhere we don't want to be.  We have this idea that we know what's best for ourselves and we could probably figure out how the world works if just left to our own devices.  Obviously we all struggle with selfishness, or more bluntly, sin.  And so, it must be acknowledged that my kids are selfish sinners, no different from any other kid.

But wait, there's hope!  I think one of the vital things that I often fail to put into my school year preparations is a lot of prayer.  I love to get the curriculum ready, to get binders and markers and pencils out, but I often forget to ask the Lord for help.  I think it's because I love school so much that I forget that my kids aren't exactly like me.  I forget that learning or rather, the love of learning is a quality gained over time.  And that is exactly why I home school.  I do it because I have the time and the love of learning, and most importantly I do it because I believe I am equipped to minister to their tender hearts.
I didn't mean for this blog post to turn into a confessional.  I guess it just needed to happen so that I could be held accountable for more than just the kids' proficiency in math.  I'm much better at waiting to start housework until after school and I've stopped running for a while until we get a good morning routine established (but I am craving a run right now!).   So here's to a better week, one with less tears and frustrations, and a week bathed in prayer.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


My home is currently run by a shipping container overlord. Let's just call him "Darren" for now. He roams the house looking for things to put in the next yard sale or sneak in the trash. Usually I am right by his side, suggesting things for him to sink his claws into. But one day I looked at my bookshelf. My stuffed to the gills, no room at the inn bookshelf... and also the underside of my bed, and perhaps a few corners of my closet. I saw my babies, er, I mean my books, and I had to start making some tough decisions.

It's easy to toss current trade paperbacks into the yard sale pile, they're quick money. But then you look at the stack of books from the Christian bookstore and you can trace the fads and feelings of the past 10 years in one glance. You sort the good from the bad and wonder if it's ethical to stick crummy books in a yard sale... buyer beware!

The hard part is deciding what to do with the classics. You sort the common from the obscure and wonder if anyone will pick up your copy of Confessions of an English Opium Eater (they make you read obscure stuff in college). Shakespeare, Austen, the Brontes, they're cheap, you can find plenty of copies of them in used bookstores everywhere. But what do you do with the books attached to memories? The good memories (our tattered copy of Seinlanguage, read and re-read until pages fell out) or the bad (I read Grapes of Wrath while nursing baby Jason. If I had read the last page first, I never would have picked up the book!).

I've bounced around the idea of going digital. Please let me know if you have a preference (Kindle, Nook, iPad). I'm not sure if I can give up the romance of the traditional book. I love to fold over corners to mark my spot, I write notes in the margins and I remember a summer read by the way water splashed from the kids in the pool crinkles the pages. A traditional book I can loan out to friends without worrying about getting it back (which I discovered has significantly reduced the number of books that I THOUGHT I had!).

While sorting through my stacks I picked up Hemingway's A Moveable Feast. Genius. The first line: "Then there was the bad weather." The whole book is a travelogue, biography of ex-pats, an ode to French food, and an instruction manual for aspiring writers. The Sun Also Rises springs from conversations with Gertrude Stein as described in A Moveable Feast. The Lost Generation, everything you ever wanted to know about bull-fighting and Spain, beautifully captured in over 200 pages of dialogue. I love this guy but most people only think of The Old Man and the Sea, a high school student's worst nightmare. I think it may be because we are so impatient for him to hurry up and catch the fish, that we don't appreciate the struggle. I really wanted to name one of our kids Hadley, the name of his first wife, but Hayden was a nice compromise.

Another love of mine is Steinbeck. He's gritty and real and a local guy. I think East of Eden is my favorite. Again, in school you have to read The Red Pony or Of Mice and Men, but going beyond the required reading can be so rewarding, it's worth the effort.

It's hard to think of these gems left out on a yard sale table for people to pick through, so maybe a few favorites will find their way into the nooks and crannies of boxes and suitcases. Just don't tell Darren ;)

Monday, July 18, 2011

the classics

I am a decluttering queen. I used to be a devoted follower of The Flylady but I have since graduated to my own system of household management. I like to think that my system could be called "the-distract-your-kids-with-friends-or-video-games-or-both-at-the-same-time-and-clear-out-their-rooms system". It really works!

I must admit, however that there are some toys that you just cannot get rid of, no matter what! Yes, throw out the happy meal toys, the broken toys and the never used toys, but by all means, do not toss the classics!

For example, Thomas the Tank Engine. Just when I thought our days of track building were over, Hayden discovered Jason's stash and this happened:

It was just too cute. Big brother built an awesome track and little sister played happily. (Middle sister was a pest, but that is becoming her specialty so we went with it).

Another classic that will not get tossed soon is Jason giant tub of Legos. It won't get tossed on purpose, but I often find myself reminding the boy that if a stray piece gets sucked up in the vacuum, I can't be held responsible.

One thing that has surprised me is the beginning of the end for Perry, Cameron's beloved bear. He was left yesterday at a friend's house and she went to bed without him, without a second thought. Poor guy. He was once a treasured member of the family, now he seems to be on the outs. Maybe it's because his tail is falling off, or he's getting too ratty for her sophisticated tastes.

Hang in there Perry, I won't give up on you just yet :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Ugh. The word "moving" strikes me with dread. I think it's because we've done a lot of moving over the past 15 years. Last night we were discussing one of our latest topics: "is our stuff worth the cost of a shipping container?" So as we debated I found myself cleaning out my kitchen drawers with ruthless determination (as if that would solve the problem!). We don't have an answer to that question yet, all I know is the 19 scrapbooks that I have made are coming with us-- no doubt about it!

I thought it would be fun to look back on our many residences and maybe you could pitch in a memory too.

1. Newhall Avenue: Our first apartment! Darren picked this place without me, as he had to do it in advance while he was at school and I was 3 hours away at home. He did a great job. The first time I saw the place was when we arrived there after our honeymoon. We got in around midnight and spent the next 2 hours ripping open wedding presents, trying to find a set of sheets! The apartment had teal green appliances from the sixties and an electric wall heater in the bathroom that was our only source of heat (because we were too cheap to turn on the gas-- we figured So. Cal wouldn't get THAT cold in winter, right?).

2. Palomar Avenue: Ugh. This was a converted garage apartment in Atascadero. We lasted through our 6 month lease then got the heck outta there due to the crazy amount of black widows in that place. You would move too if a black widow dropped down from the ceiling and landed in your bed!

3. Santa Lucia: This was a nice spot to live. Darren could walk from here to his teaching job at NCCS. I think the funniest memory I have is the move to this place: we used Food 4 Less grocery bags instead of boxes, I guess that's all we had on hand to get us out of the black widow house fast! We stayed here about 3 years.

4. The School House aka "the fishbowl": This place was a toss up between pros and cons. On
the pro side, it was cheap and the walk to school was quick (we literally lived in a house that was surrounded by the school). On the con side, the place was cheap because Darren had to do security for ABC at night to offset the rent, and we were constantly asked by people to open gates for them on the weekends. This was Jason's first home, and as a result, that boy can sleep through anything because he was trained to sleep through all the noise of recess right outside his bedroom window!

5. Multnomah married student apartments: Again, pros and cons. The pro side included great friendships and an incredible time of growth in our marriage. This definitely outweighs the cons of thin walls and scraping up quarters to do laundry.

6. Creston Road: What a nice house! This was Cameron's first home. I remember meeting our neighbor for the first time and she asked us if we had a cat. This was a duplex, so I realized that the poor woman had heard all of Cameron's late night wailing and thought we had an unruly cat! Darren and I spent many nights walking up and down the hall trying to pacify Cam, "the baby who wouldn't be satisfied". We also lived next to a field with sheep and as a result we became the winter home of a few field mice. Eeeek!

7. Vista del Rio (or, "the apartment behind Albertson's"): Now this place was a strange contradiction. On the outside it was a beautiful, new complex with lovely amenities, but on the inside it was filled with lots of lonely people. We discovered that many people landed here after a divorce or they were here looking for a mate. There were two playgrounds and a pool in the complex, but our kids never made friends because the other kids only showed up on the weekends to spend time with their parents. We had a good relationship with the manager and quickly discovered that we were a small minority that lived peaceably within the many rules that she had to enforce. It's a good thing that we had a good witness with her because when someone reported smelling marijuana coming from our building she came to us to ask for help figuring out the problem. When Hayden was on her way we had to find a bigger place to live so it was time to move on.

8. San Buena Ventura Way: When I was a kid we would play MASH and the shack was usually in a place like San Miguel. I never thought I'd live out here! But to be honest, this has been a GREAT spot for us. The kids have made so many friends in this neighborhood and we all love coming home to this place. Plus, we have the best landlords ever :)

9. Scotland! So far, I've only seen one episode of House Hunters International in Glasgow (admit it, you watch this too). Pretty soon we'll be living it and I can't wait!

Friday, July 8, 2011

beach day!

The cousins are in town! Yesterday we all escaped the North County heat and met up at Avila Beach.

The fun was doubled when our friends came along too. Jason braved the waters for his first boogieboarding adventure. Cameron dug the deepest hole ever and Hayden stayed on Pops' lap most of the day to avoid the pesky sand.

Cameron reminded me that sometimes you just have to put the camera
away and enjoy the moment!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

why Scotland?

If you know us well, you may suspect that this whole Scotland thing is a sneaky way for Darren to play golf on some amazing courses and for me and the kids to spend our days touring castles. But the truth is, we were willing to go a number of places and Scotland is where God landed us. Here are two reasons why Scotland is in our future:

1. Because God is leading us there. Sorry, not trying to be redundant, but in all honesty this is the truth. And to be sure, it is a big, crazy idea to pick up your comfortable, content family and move them across the world. This will be our 3rd "career" change and 2nd time moving away from family in our 15 year history together. But looking back on our life together we can clearly see that every time God has moved or changed us it has been to form us for this very task. We also are confident that He will carry us through the transition. So with this assurance we can't help but be excited for our next adventure.

2. Because Scotland needs help. We are joining an amazing team of people dedicated to the awakening of a nation. Here are a few snippets from Operation World to help you understand the need in Scotland:
"A national awakening is needed.... the steep decline of organized Christianity in the UK is almost unparalleled in Europe..."

"...(there is) widespread loss of confidence and certainty in the veracity of the gospel, in the uniqueness of Jesus.... (these are) simultaneous with increasingly assertive and confident atheism and Islam."

"Christian leadership is under intense pressure... from intense scrutiny by the public and from lack of effective Bible teachers and expositors."

You might read these quotes in disbelief. After all, Scotland was once a major force in sending the gospel out to the world. Only a few generations of apathy an indifference can change the state of a nation.

So those are just two of the reasons we are going. We would love to talk more with you about this big life change so feel free to leave a comment or get in touch with us by email : . (This blog is registered under an address I no longer use, sorry for the inconvenience. I'll try to change it soon!)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

the rusco house is on the move!

Ahem... please excuse my absence. I realize that my last post was in January, this is tad embarrassing! How about a cute picture to make up for it?
There, that's better. Am I forgiven now? Thanks!

So what do I mean by "on the move"? I mean that our family is moving across the Atlantic to the beautiful nation of Scotland, land of bagpipes, kilts and haggis... and more importantly a land that needs help in their churches.

Last summer, Darren caught the missions bug. As he thought about Paso Robles and the great churches we have in the North County, he began to feel a need to go to a place that had a greater need. When he studied the church all across the world he saw that many former Christian nations had lost their way and the church had faded into a sleeping institution. He felt a pull to go back to those people and bring the gospel of Jesus to light once more and help wake up the sleeping church.

We first looked into Ireland, France and Italy. We talked with missions organizations that had projects going in those countries but we never felt a connection with those teams. One day the Multnomah alumni magazine arrived and Darren read and article about a man who had gone to Glasgow, Scotland to start a church. The man's story resonnated with Darren because they had both been so committed to preaching the Word of God that they had neglected to develop a prayer life. Once the prayer life was explored and developed, both men began to see their ministries increase. Darren wrote to him to thank him for the article and to his surprise, the man responded with an invitation to visit Glasgow!

In November, Darren boarded a plane to Scotland. To be honest, I thought this was just a silly idea that he needed to get out of his system and I didn't expect much to come of it. You may have seen this on facebook around that time:

Although he was incredibly homesick, he was able to listen to God's direction as he traveled and met with the team in Glasgow. When he came home and told me all about his experience, I knew this was not just a whim, this was our family's new direction.

While in Glasgow, Darren learned a lot about prayer. When he came home, he began to implement these things into our services and home groups and we began to see God do mighty things. Over the past months we have both felt confirmation that although amazing things are happening at PRBC, it is ok that we move on, because we know our church is in good hands.

In March, Darren, Jason and I went to Glasgow for another visit. Darren was adamant that if I wasn't happy, we wouldn't go. We had a fabulous visit with the team and the Ingraham family. Here are a few pictures from that trip:
The gang in front of Edinburgh Castle.

Jason and his pal Emma run into a little trouble with the law...

Finally, justice is restored when Jason is rightfully returned to his throne.

As you can see, we had fun. While flying home Darren and I had a moment where we just looked at each other and knew that we were meant to move to Scotland. I think my exact words to him were, "I'm in!".

Our next step was to join the organization that supports the Scotland team. This is Church Resource Ministries or CRM. Please check out their website . We really like CRM. We just completed our orientation week in Anaheim this last week and we are very impressed with the way they care for their staff. They are an established organization with a rich history and an innovative ministry that is strategically looking to the future of world missions. We are very happy to be a part of this group.

I'm sure one of the main questions in your mind right now is, "so, when are you guys moving?". That's a good question! Our goal is January but there are a lot of factors necessary to make that happen. We are making our plans toward that end but we fully understand that God is ultimately in control of the timing.

Over the next few weeks I plan on blogging more about Scotland, why we're going and how a family of five picks up their lives and moves it across an ocean. Also, Darren will be sharing more details in church about our transition so be sure to show up on Sunday or "like" Paso Robles Bible Church on Facebook. Sermons are usually posted there for you to download. Until then, check out CRM's site and take a look at our team leader's blog for more info about the church in Scotland .

Thanks for making it to the end of this post. How about one last picture?
This was one of our many attempts at taking Hayden's passport photo:)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

3rd child

Sometimes I wonder what Hayden will remember when she looks back on her childhood. Does she care that mom was so burned out on preschool songs that she never sang to her? Or will she simply be grateful that mom never sang to her? The other night we were playing with a toy bus and I started to sing "The Wheels on the Bus". Hayden looked at me with wide-eyed amazement and announced "MO!" (more). 23 verses later I was able to put that song to rest.

Last week we did marble paintings. I needed a quick and easy art project for our Tuesday art lesson and I'd also been stockpiling cereal this month (crazy coupon deals-- I'm trying not to go overboard but...). So with a quick dig in the recycle box we had all our supplies.
I didn't realize what a great project this would be for Hayden until she grabbed a box of her own.
Silly me. I need to do my best to remember what the other kids were doing at 2 years old so that Hayden doesn't miss out. Look at this face:
Now she points out her painting with pride. What else am I forgetting? I should look back at my own blog to get ideas for Hayden.
Or I could just ask this girl. She loves to remember back to her days as a 2 year old. In fact, marble painting was her idea. I think by the time I finally put all the paints and paper away Cam had completed 7 paintings!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

library card

Today was a big deal. A milestone for Little Miss 5 Year Old. She signed her name on the very important form (and mom did too) and POOF! just like that, Cameron is SLO County's newest library patron. She feels like hot stuff.

I made a little pocket on her library bag for her new card. Hopefully, this will deter loss. Hopefully.

Little Miss 5 Year Old developed quite an unpleasant attitude toward school this year. She learned to read early on and now she can't understand why in the world she would need to continue doing school work. She can read, what else is there?

Perhaps being the ever-so-important reader of books for her little sister can satisfy Miss Cam.
It seems to make Little Miss 2 Year Old very happy.