come find me...

come find me at www.alsberries.com

(the posts on this blog will end up there eventually anyway.)


so far, seattle...

so far, seattle is pretty great. the other morning i got to look at a beautiful mountain range on my way to work. i don't expect to get tired of that view.

we were smart to move here on the dawn of spring, because we've actually had quite a few sunny days. the rain hasn't bothered me at all, but i already love the sun more as i see it less often. 

i've been honked at several times. boo. it's only annoying because i can't change the fact that the cars in front of me are turning very slowly, so honking at me is pointless. city problems i guess. 

on a related note, i officially got stuck in traffic yesterday. it was probably the first time in my life that i've ever actually been stuck in traffic since i'm a born and raised iowa girl and all. this wasn't horrible seattle traffic, this was just downtown renton traffic. but still, we weren't moving for a good ten minutes.

i noticed the other day that i have not seen a single walmart. anywhere. it's awesome. only target. i thought about doing a google map search to show you how scarce the walmarts are here, but then i decided that they are probably lurking out there somewhere and i'm choosing ignorance. i'm choosing to live in a world with no walmart. 

at bryan's parents house we have three city issued trash/recycling receptacles. one for trash, one for recycling and one for yard/food waste. the recycling and yard/food waste bins are literally TWICE as big as the trash bin and the trash only gets picked up once every two weeks. crazy hippies. [i secretly love this about seattle and want to be a crazy hippie]

so that's seattle so far!


random thoughts on a sunday

i really thought i would have tons of time on my hands...time to blog and craft in particular. but there are a few things that are keeping me quite busy:

  1. we live with two other people now (bryan's parents) so, we automatically have people to hang out with when we're not busy.
  2. because we had to leave iowa city so quickly, i've been working from seattle to pass all my veritas responsibilities to different people. i've been working on that quite a few evenings after i get home from work.
  3. WE LIVE IN SEATTLE. this place is seriously so cool. and WE LIVE HERE. we have so many adventures to go on, so many things we can do. it's crazy. i love iowa with my whole heart, but it's really cool to live in such a sweet place. 

we've also been visiting churches which has been weird. i'm not used to being a visitor in a church. i feel horrible about attending a church one week and not coming back. during announcements, i mentally comb through our calendar to make sure i can make it to "salad night" for the women or the tuesday night prayer function. 

it's definitely a strange feeling. 

veritas launched their service in cedar rapids today. bryan and i prayed for them this morning, and i was brought to tears by how wonderfully God has blessed that church. it was SUCH A HUGE BLESSING to be apart of God's work in little 'ol iowa. that's what i've been praying for here. we want a family like we had at veritas (and cornerstone before that). we want to be apart of bringing God's glory to this area through a church we love and loves us. we'd love for you to join us in that prayer.

blog 'ya later. happy palm sunday! 


how to move across the country in 3 weeks

as many of you know, we had basically three weeks to move across the country. i found out that i got a job in the seattle area on thursday, february 7th and we went straight to texas that night to meet our newly born nephew (aka: the most adorable, dimpled, half-indian baby in the world!). we got back from texas on tuesday, february 12th and figured we needed to leave on tuesday, march 5th to get to seattle with enough time to rest before my first day of work on march 11th...

...anyway, three weeks. here's how we did it:

#1: we started packing immediately. as in, we rolled in from a 13 hour drive from texas and we started packing.

#2: we looked into the cost of moving expenses and found out that it is dang expensive to move your crap across the country. we decided instead to sell everything we own and try to fit everything we wanted to keep into 10 boxes to ship over to seattle.

#3: we started to sell everything we owned. literally every piece of furniture we had was free, thrifted or from ikea. aaaaaaand since my new office is literally in walking distance from the ikea in the seattle area, we figured we'd survive. if i really, really missed our wonderful dark gray couch, i could buy an identical one if i wanted. :)

#4: by the end of the second week, with a little over a week to move, we had pretty much sold everything between our indoor garage sale, giving things away, putting things on craigslist and bringing the rest to a consignment shop. woohoo!

#5: we started actually packing the boxes as this point, as space-efficiently as possible with lots of bubble wrap for the dishes and such. we ended up with 13 boxes including our giant tv and kitchenaid...so really only 11, i would say that we were pretty successful!

#6: the sunday before we left, our friend's ben and jamie came over and helped us fix our trailer. ben put in a new back door (and custom fit the door frame!) and jamie painted our bathroom while we finished packing and throwing everything away.

#7: after several people from craigslist looked at our santa fe and no one wanted to buy it, we decided to just take the things to seattle...it was a win because between the two cars we fit 8 boxes plus our kitchenaid and our giant tv (which we found out we couldn't ship anyway), as well as our suitcases, my wedding dress and all the other last minute stuff we packed away. it was a lose because we had to drive separately the whole way there and although we were ignorant to this fact, it was a miracle that car even made it to seattle (more on this later!)

#8: we had lots of going away parties. the bodin's hosted one for us in iowa city, the meyer's had one last friendship gathering for us and my parents hosted one for us in ames. we have such great people in our lives in iowa.

#9: on monday night, we found out there was a big storm coming into iowa city, so our actual exit was pretty anti-climactic. we hurried up to tidy the now empty mobile home, returned everything we borrowed and shoved the last few things into our cars. we left our pink flamingos in safe hands and left the city before the storm hit (good thing too, because they got over a foot of snow!)

whew! we did it! we get everything done in iowa city, now for the 28 hour road trip to seattle....


completely expected emotion.

WARNING: this post is not for the faint of heart...i cried pretty much the whole time i wrote this. 

at this particular moment, i'm feeling pretty sad about the friends we've left behind in iowa. seriously, can't you all move here please? like right now?

i had a moment today where i just needed to cry. and those of you who know me well know that i'm a community cryer. and i had a thought that only made me more sad: i have no one to cry with here! 

i better find some friends who i can dump on soon...(my apologies to my future friends in the seattle area) 

friends, if you doubted it for a second, I REALLY MISS YOU. 

i stayed very busy this week with my new job (as well as corresponding with everyone at Veritas to make sure everything is still running smoothly there...) but after the work week was over, i finally had time to think about our HUGE loss. man, we had it good in iowa. so many wonderful people, so many best of the best friends. i logged on to facebook to take my mind off of the sadness i'm finally feeling only to see the wonderful veritas community reaching out and helping each other (it was you, mikki, offering to help watch karlee's three kids while she's at the hospital with little garrison, just in case you're wondering). STOP IT, YOU WONDERFUL PEOPLE, YOU'RE MAKING CRY! 

i desperately miss our my little veritas staff family, and even more so my connection group family, and even more so my sweet, sweet little group of friends. not to mention my actual family...they are the best. 

yes, we really had it good.

still, we're really happy to be here, you should know that. God has really been so good to us, and we continue to see that in our lives, even in our short time here. so it's not all sad. 

okay. i'm feeling better now, looks like i just needed to cry with you, readers. there will definitely be more tears to come. 

BUT, until then, i have lots of other happy, fluffy and silly things i want to write about, so look forward to hearing from me soon!


so, we're moving to seattle...

i thought it wise to update you on our imminent move across the country. this will very likely be my last post before the move but don't worry, after we get to seattle, i'll have no friends and plenty of time to blog. and, this is going to be a long one, but there are some pictures at the end to reward you.

so, we're moving to seattle. it's been a very crazy 2 weeks, and we have a very crazy 2 weeks ahead of us. 

going all the way back to july of 2012, we found out we were staying in iowa city. honestly, northwestern mutual wasn't ever our first choice for bryan's career, but it was the best option at the time and bryan doesn't shy away from hard work. and we were excited to stay in iowa city with all of our dear friends and near my family in ames. 

northwestern mutual proved to be exactly what we thought it would be. it's a fantastic company with fantastic products (really, i have nothing bad to say about northwestern mutual as a whole). however, bryan was starting from the bottom and responsible for finding 100% of his own clients. as i said before, bryan doesn't shy away from hard work, but this obstacle was exactly why the company wasn't ever our first choice for bryan's career. 

i will also say that bryan has done a great job! he's met most of his personal goals, helped a lot of people and passed his series 6 license exam all within 6 months of his start date, he'll take (and most definitely pass!) his series 63 license exam next tuesday as well. being a financial advisor excites him, he's great at it and truly cares about people and their needs. 

as 2012 went on, we continued to discuss and keep an open mind about bryan's career. there aren't a lot of other options in iowa city. we were content in iowa city and content with our jobs, but we really felt the need to be forward and that was not happening. frankly, we were surviving, nothing more. 

in the beginning of december, we were talking to bryan's parents on the phone, and his mom mentioned a possible job opportunity in seattle...for me. a lady in her office was retiring in march of 2013 and as my mother-in-law described it, her job was "tailor-made" for me.

while this was exciting, it was an unexpected opportunity so i didn't quite know what to do. we struggled and prayed throughout the whole month of december, asking God to show us what He thought of this. namely, i struggled between my strong to desire to have children and my strong desire to see my husband find a job he's great at and he loves. taking a job in seattle would mean more waiting to have kids, but there was a good chance that bryan would be able to find a job he loves. 

at the end of december, i felt that i should at least submit my resume and see what they think of me. so on december 31st, i called the owner of the company, mentioned that my mother-in-law referred me to the job, and told him i was interested. he was kind and took down my information and told me to send him my resume. 

[side-note: i've never actually had to put together a resume before and i've actually really never had to interview for a job. people just walk up to me and offer me jobs-ha!]

i worked hard on my resume that week and after my in-laws gave me a lot of feedback and edits, i sent it on january 4th. every time i looked at the "education" section of my resume, i grimaced...no college degree=no chance at a job like this. we decided to keep my application under wraps until i heard something more hopeful, because it was very likely that i wasn't going to get the job and nothing was going to change.

and i didn't hear anything at all until february 1st! 

january was a very painful month, but i think it was for the best. i died to myself several different times. i died to my desire to be a mother, i died to my desire to go a new adventure to seattle, i died to my desire to control everything. meanwhile, bryan and i decided that if i didn't get the job, bryan would start to look for other options for his career anyway. 

i also discovered that i really wanted to move to seattle (as did bryan). i was determined to be content either way and to stay present and productive in my current job and life. but as each day of january passed without hearing anything from seattle, i was more and more disappointed at the thought of not getting this job. 

finally, in late january, bryan's mom called me to tell me that they were going to call me soon to set up an interview. an interview, an interview, an interview! that's at least something, at least i have a chance!

on february 1st, they finally did call and we set up my interview for the following wednesday, february 6. 
we cancelled our internet back in january (see above, "surviving"),
so layla and jeremiah let me steal their apartment and internet
for my interview over webex. i found this note, layla is the best!
layla also texted me this picture right before my interview. ha!

the interview went so great that i was pretty sure they were going to offer me the job, they promised to call to let me know the next day. 

they called as promised and all within 2 hours on thursday, i got the job in seattle, bryan passed his series 6 exam, and our first nephew was born! 

bryan with baby jonah!
i'll end with a small FAQ section:

  • my start date in seattle is march 11th, my last day at veritas will be march 4th
  • we are in the process of selling everything we own. my goal is to fit everything into 10 boxes to UPS over to seattle. 
  • we will be living with bryan's parents for a little while until bryan finds a job
  • the job hunt for bryan is officially on, with a lot of promising options
  • we're really excited! so excited that we haven't really even felt super sad about it yet. i'm sure it will hit us eventually, we have some of the best people in our lives here in iowa.

whew! there you go. everything you wanted to know about our move across the country!


throw back thursday [happy valentines day]

let's skate away together.
happy valentines day.


a favorite

One of the best things about my family, is that even though there are already biologically 8 of us, we keep "adopting" people into our family. If you need a surrogate family in Ames, feel free to stop on by my parents house. :)

My sweet friend and "sister," Eve is one of the first and certainly the longest lasting Duvick adoptee. Eve's been around forever. The woman taught me how to drive (which was not an easy feat). She's seen us all through our ups and downs and she still loves us. The feelings are mutual.

So when Eve was back in Ames for the weekend and participating in Family Fun Night with the rest of my family, I couldn't resist. I had to see her!

I think it was fate that Eve was sandwiched in between Alyssa & I during the game. 

Obviously, it was worth it. I just love this lady. Then, a week later, I received the most encouraging note in the mail. Not only was it from one of my favorite people, but it was a handwritten letter, which is one of the best things in the world to receive. It uplifted me on a day I really needed it.

 So thanks Eve, you're a favorite. So glad you're in my family.


30 Before 30

i wrote this about 7 months ago and found it in my drafts. here you go!

my blogger friend, mrs. dexter, inspired me. i call her my blogger friend because i really don't know her other than her totally rad blog. which i think is kind-of cool. 

anyway, she inspired me to write a list of things i'd like to do before i'm thirty. i'm 23 (shocking, i know) shoot, i'm 24 now, is that still shocking? and i have approximately 6 5.5 years left to accomplish these things. so, because i've been dreaming and scheming about a lot of these things anyway, here you go. 

in no particular order...
  1. ride in a hot air balloon
  2. travel overseas to another country CHINA 2012 BABY!
  3. develop my (limited) graphic design skills and design a website/blog
  4. create my own craft blog/shop
  5. become proficient at five new craft skills (such as quilting, needle-point, crochet, etc.)
  6. design and develop at least one unique, from-my-own-brain craft
  7. pay off all debt
  8. pay off our mortgage for our mobile home
  9. pay cash for a second car DONESKIES
  10. save 6 months of expenses
  11. buy a house (one that has a foundation and everything!)
  12. run a 5K
  13. meet my goal weight and maintain
  14. become a mother (Lord-willing)
  15. develop a home management system that works for me
  16. plant a garden
  17. eat more food it it's most natural form
  18. study the entire bible in depth
  19. research and form my own opinions about birth, vaccinations, child-rearing
  20. learn how to french braid my hair
  21. become more hilarious (while trying to curb any offending sarcasm at the same time)
  22. buy my husband a new musical instrument
  23. read 60 books (approx. one per month)
  24. attend a birth
  25. buy a cow or a half cow (not alive, to eat, from a real farm)
  26. learn how to play an instrument (even if it's the kazoo)
  27. share the gospel with someone
  28. work up to giving 20% of our income away
  29. make my children their own clothes
  30. plant a tree


Our Christmas Letter & Picture

For those of you that didn't get our christmas letter in the mail, I thought I'd post this for you to enjoy. I try really, really hard to write a witty, clever and often sarcastic letter every year so that our friends and family have something to look forward to. This one is my favorite so far. While it is heavily cloaked in a narrative about Bryan and I evidentially becoming hipsters, it actually tells the reader quite a bit about our daily life. 

If you click on this picture, I believe you should be able to read the full-size version. 

With the letter, I included one of two pictures. The first of the two pictures below is for the people in our life who may have appreciated a silly letter, but a silly picture on top of that? Well, that may have been too much to handle. This group is mostly make up of extended family, the ones who may be able to endure my sillyness in the letter, but they still wanted to have a normal picture of us to hang on their fridge.

This is Bryan and I at Jeremiah and Layla's wedding in September. This is the dress that I referenced in the letter. Aren't we the cutest?!

The following picture is the one we sent to most of our special friends who we thought could handle a little extra dose of over-the-top comedy.

This is Bryan and I next to my tree sweater in downtown Iowa City. We're wearing oversized plastic rimmed glasses (not the ones we normally wear), skinny jeans and ugly christmas sweaters. Also, the picture was instagrammed before final production.  

So, which picture did you get?



Do you want to know something about my sister-in-law, Valerie? She's a nester. Ah, I'm so jealous of her nesting skills. Just look at her apartment!

totally stole this from you sis. stop being so awesome and it won't happen again.  

Yes, that's right, apartment. And their last apartment was just as adorable. Oh my goodness, I've owned and lived in our trailer for almost 3 years and I'm still not nested in yet.

I have other friends that are nesters too-like Lauren, just look at her apartment via her blog. SO CUTE. And of you other nesters out there, you know who you are. And I am not one of you.

I've deduced a few of reasons why I'm not a nester.

I don't know what I want or what my style is and I'm scared to make a decision in that regard. I'm a trend follower, I don't have very many original ideas yet and I simply don't know what I want. So my home is basically ikea-clad with a few touches of my own that I've been slow to add. It's cool, I'm okay with it. Kind-of.

I get distracted from my own home and own style. I see something on someone else or in someone else's home and then I make something or buy something that reminds me of them. I'm all, Ooooo, I should totally make so-and-so this because that would fit perfectly in their house/with their baby! What can I say, I'm a giver. And I don't know what I want to make myself or buy myself because I'm still working on number one.

Probably the most dominant of the three, I'm a purger and I hate moving our stuff around and I'm sure were going to move out of this trailer eventually and WHY DO WE EVEN NEED ALL THESE BLANKETS AND BOOKS AND COFFEE TABLES AND RECORDS AND INSTRUMENTS?!?!? I seriously don't know how to properly value the things we do own. I'm trying to work on it but I can't say I'm doing very well. [Anyone else catch that gem of a quote on Downton tonight?]

Anyway, if you're a nester, I applaud you and I'm jealous of you. And that's really all I have to say about that.


pandora knows me so well.

this song played on my pandora today. it made me smile. 


Stewardship | My word for 2013

In case you were a little concerned about my well-being after yesterday's post, rest assured, I'm going to be okay.

Because of my unfavorable 2012, the ringing in of the new year was more refreshing then it ever has been for me. I was so ready for the new year, that by the middle of December I had completely given up on 2012. I needed that new year. When it finally came, it was truly a joyous moment. A new year, a fresh start, a new perspective.

It was so good and necessary for me to put into words how awful last year actually was, and it was equally good and necessary to resolve to leave it as it is, in the past. Onto a new year.

Yesterday, as I was writing, praying and considering the new year, I feel like God gave me a word. I've done this for several years now, that is, picked a word to define my new year. One word to describe what I want to see in my life after a year. God gave me the word, "Stewardship."


Definition: The responsible overseeing and protection of something considered worth caring for and preserving.

What are the things in my life that are worth caring for? In no particular order:

My work
My time
My home
My husband
My friends
My family
My money
My hobbies

Frankly, I think last year could be summed up by a lack of stewardship in many of these areas. So happily take on this word for this new year. It couldn't be more perfect.

As I journey through this year, armed with my word, I hope to share with you how God is transforming me in stewardship and anything else along the way.

Happy New Year!


A Reflection on 2012

I think a lot of people are with me when I say that 2012 just wasn't my year. I don't want to appear ungrateful for the blessing of another year of life and truly, I'm not ungrateful. It's just that, it wasn't my year.

As we passed into 2013, a little less than a week ago, I honestly felt relieved to finally wash my hands of 2012. And of course, here I am, ironically rehashing my 2012 for all to read. I suppose I just can't deny that all of last year is going to dramatically affect this year. Therefore, I'm brought to reflection, so I go into 2013 equipped with the lessons of the past (more on that tomorrow).

I'm only 24 years old, so I know I'm being dramatic, but last year may have been the worst year of my life to date. As the year went on, it seriously just kept getting worse. By that I mean, the external pieces of my life continued to crumble one by one. I hated it. I could spend many sentences inducing your pity by over-sharing about all of the "bad things" that I encountered. But as I consider it more, I believe the internal struggles in my life to be the true disappointments. These are things that beat me down over and over again this year.

Unhappy, Discontent, Restless, Depressed, whatever you want to call it. 
My general mood in 2012 was...something...this year. I apologize to all of my friends who had to put up with me. At one point I might have said that "I wasn't myself", but the horrifying thing is that I started to believe that this was who I truly was. A depressed, unhappy person who just wasn't content with her life.
I kept hoping for some big change to sweep my off my feet. Something to excite me again, to stir my heart toward all of things I was made to do. And when things didn't change, I spiraled further down into my unhappiness. I've never been more guarded, stoic, and grumpy then I was last year. Again, my apologies to those who are my friends.

Seeking distraction
In the open and vulnerable moments of the year, I was a mess. Tears filled my eyes at the drop of a pin, and I emoted over every one and everything. (Should I throw in another apology here?) But most of the time, I sought distraction. I attempted (and often succeeded) to bury my fears, my sadness, and my discontentment. I watched a lot of tv.
Slowly but surely, laziness crept into my life. I wasn't dealing with my own sadness and that turned into not dealing with a lot of things. Things like cooking and cleaning. I avoided these simple chores at all cost, only acting when absolutely necessary. My poor husband, we actually started to get sick of eating out because because we relied on it so often. And then, of course, this led to the guilt of shirking my responsibilities as a wife and homemaker.

So I had this cloud over me for most of the year. One of sadness, guilt, laziness. One of waiting for something. I don't know what it was, or what it is, but it was keeping me from living my life as I was created to.

To sum it up, I suppose 2012 was one of those years of my life that I just barely skated through. I managed to keep up with everything just enough. I managed to keep my head above water-sort of. I managed to survive. Sorry, I must repeat myself, I managed to survive. I guess I'm a little amazed that I made it to this fresh start of a new year.

I'm washing my hands of 2012. I'm giving it to the Lord, asking Him to take it and make something beautiful of it in this new year. Because I couldn't do anything beautiful with 2012. 2012 was a dark cloud in my life, but God doesn't see the dark clouds. He sees all of eternity. In His sovereignty and His greatness, He sees not only my whole life, past, present and future, but also all of eternity in one glance. He sees His glory over it all. And eventually, I pray, He will give me the eyes to see not a dark cloud of a past year but His glory.


i've accomplished some things.

as a follow up to this post, here's where i'm at with life.


speaking of unfinished things...

you want to know something? i'm a flip-flopper. i think it's who i was created to be. if you need proof and believe in those meyers-briggs personality descriptions, you'll be interested to know that i test nearly dead center on three out of the four letters. i'm only slightly more extroverted than introverted, i'm definitely sensing (the only strong letter i have), i'm a feeler that was raised by a thinker of a mother, and i toggle between judging and perceiving based on the day.

i've loosely been an esfj for the last five or six years, but i think i'm entering the next season of my life as an esfp. my mom has recently taken to calling me her "p" girl. which basically means that while i'm creative, i'm also scatterbrained and have a tendency to move on before whatever project i'm working on is finished. 

this blog is a great example. it's been a while. hey friends. thanks for reading again. 

and here is a little something to prove my "p" tendencies. i took these pictures last may:

any guesses at how many of these things i've actually finished? 

until next time...