Christmas Letter 2018

I’m actually getting a slight head start on writing our Christmas Letter this year. Instead of writing on the a plane, I’m writing as we drive to Harrison for our Thanksgiving meal.

This year has been a whirlwind to say it lightly. All good, but lots of change. We started out the year under contract to buy a house that had a crazy lawsuit & contingency on it. A previous interested buyer was suing the homeowner. We tried to wait it out because for some reason we felt really strongly about living there and the opportunity it had for our family and ministry. But often when God stirs your heart, it isn’t necessarily the first thing that you see is the next step. That door was closed and thankfully another door was opened.

One afternoon when we were out and about looking at houses during the Open Houses on the weekends, we stumbled into a brand new model home. We got talking with the sales representative about our situation and he said that we could build on a desirable lot right down the street. There were a couple homes already completed in the neighborhood for sale, but both two stories backed up to each other and the empty lot had wooded trees behind it which we prefer. We have been spoiled with no close back neighbors before. The lot is also a walk-out lot!

Dustin says the best thing he told us all day was that because of the other models in the neighborhood and the size of the lot, there was only one model we could put there. So it made the choices easy! Luckily we liked that model and they had a completed home of that model in West Chester for us to view. It’s been a much slower process than anticipated, but it will be done in mid-December! Almost 1 year from the point where we felt that moving closer to Centerville was what we were supposed to do. You can follow the progress at Dustin.blog. We are excited to have many of you visit in the New Year.

In March we did celebrate all the birthdays for Dustin, Princess K, and Prince K! But up until May, we didn’t have much action in the traveling category, other than me traveling a few weekends for work. Dustin went to Montreal in May for a team meet-up and returned at midnight the day before we moved out of the house we’ve lived in for almost 8 years. We could have timed that a little better! 😜 Thankfully Dustin’s parents came and we did it! We are also thankful that our friend Kyle, who we sold our home to was ok with us storing our big furniture in a few rooms of his home until ours is ready.

Some tears were shed by this momma as we packed up the rooms where we brought our babies home and were Dustin and I have lived the longest in our marriage.  I also shed a few tears at losing our stellar interest rate 😂 , and I wish we could have locked something in early in the year when we decided to build! But oh well.. we think more space and closer to the school for the kids will be worth it.

The summer was somewhat low-key, we rented a house from June to mid October from a sweet military family that was stationed in Florida during that time. Princess K did swim lessons and we spent time at the pool when we could. We also spent a few weekends at Grandma and Grandpa Hartzlers.

In August, Dustin and I took a quick anniversary trip to Cancun. This was 11 years in July but we were calling it our 10 year trip since baby boy was only 4 months old for the 10 year leaving the country wasn’t an  option.

Some how summer weather extended into October here in Ohio, and then we had about 2 weeks of fall weather before it felt like January outside. Makes us even more thankful for the trips we have coming up in December to warmer places.  
In mid-October since our house was not completed in the time frame we anticipated, we moved in with our amazing neighbors from our old house. They have really lived out Christ like hospitality and we are so thankful for them. It’s been so much less stressful despite the fact we have our “things” in about 4 different places right now.

If the year hasn’t been a whirlwind, December sure will be. I am heading to Anaheim to speak at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Meeting on my birthday! Since I have never been to Disneyland, I really wanted to bring the family. Dustin obliged and we are all headed to CA! We told the kids 1 week prior to us leaving and let’s just say our Princess is SO excited!

As soon as we get back (literally), Dustin is heading to WordCamp US in Nashville, and then we have one week to do our final walk-through, work a few days, and move! Then the following weekend we are heading to Key Largo with my family for our yearly beach trip with the kids! We are excited that our kids will be able to spend time with my family and the boys (ours and my nephew) will have lots of play time. We’ll return just before Christmas and hopefully will spend that week getting somewhat settled.

We are so thankful for all the people God has put in our life, if you are reading this, know that you are loved and God has plans and a purpose for your life. Merry Christmas!

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

*Special Thanks to Tara Lewis Photography for our awesome Fall photos! And for letting me borrow her studio to snag some Christmas shots! 🙂

Happy Easter & Birthday Pictures!

Today we are thankful for our Risen Savior, that he concurred death and gives us new life! We also got back our family photos from a few weeks ago and they turned out so good. Thanks Tara Lewis Photography for capturing our family so well!

“Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:8-11 

Next Adventure..Building a Home!

Short Story… We are building a new house in Washington Township (about 20 min from our current home)!

Long Story… Last fall the Lord was moving us to try to live closer to most of the places we do life, closer to our church, closer to Dayton International School, etc. We looked at a lot of properties and found one we fell in LOVE with. We saw every aspect of our ministry and our jobs fit perfectly in that space. Unfortunately there was a crazy situation and lawsuit pending on the property where we waited 3 months to see if there would be resolution. During this time we learned so much about prayer and spent more time praying together and with our children than ever before. We really began to understand what it means to pray without ceasing. Dustin drove to the property every day for 3 months except for a few days we weren’t in town. He walked the property and prayed, and sat in the drive and prayed over the home. Kenley would pray at the dinner table, “Jesus…don’t let the bully goat get our house.”
As we continued to wait and pray, we started to look at other options too.  Dustin has always wanted to build and we thought it was out of reach, but we found a place that is a great neighborhood that will be a good investment.  Also instead of remodeling an older home over the next 4-5 years we will have a low maintenance property and can spend more time with our children and our ministry. We started realizing the unknowns about the other property, and things that could be issues with an almost 40 year old home. God is good even though his answer wasn’t what we thought we were praying for. Thankful that He cares about the small things in life. 🙂
Today when we visited the neighborhood to look at some already completed homes to take a closer look at the kitchens and bathroom selections, we met 3 different families, all of which had children near ours in age. Our neighbors across the pond have a girl and boy about the same ages as ours. They were all so nice..Again God is good and we are excited for this new adventure!

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.” 2 Corintians 9:8-11

PS: Next step.. we have to pick out all the interior finishes.. ekk! If you have an eye for design and want to send us links to your favorite kitchen and bathrooms feel free!

Christmas Letter 2017

It can’t be December again right? Somehow we now have an 8 month old boy who is on the move and a 3.5 year old princess. This year has been full of blessings. January and February were pretty quiet as we prepared to transition to a family of four. In March we celebrated Princess K’s birthday and awaited baby brother’s arrival. We are so very thankful that he arrived in his own timing with no induction necessary and no epidural needed for momma. I know some of you think I’m crazy but the recovery was so much easier! If we want to do it again is still to be determined. 🙂

I was able to be off from work for 8 weeks, and Dustin’s company has amazing benefits and he was able to be home with the kids for 12 weeks before returning to work. All completely paid for him. I seriously need to figure out how I can be a pharmacist/wellness coach or something for Automattic. 🙂 During this time I was able to launch my new blog PharmToTable. If you haven’t followed me over there please go check it out and share it with your friends and family. You can also find me on facebook and instagram.

June and July were also pretty low key, but I didn’t get much sleep because buddy boy liked to eat all night.  We did get to head to Nashville in early July to visit our good friends Bethany and Josh. Bethany and I went to pharmacy school together. Princess K and their daughter had a blast together. Wish we could see them more.

Late July we had a bridal shower for my youngest sister Ashley in preparation for the big day in September. We also spent a weekend in early August at Grandma and Grandpa Hartzler enjoying the pool and catching up with Dustin’s cousin and friends from high school that he has stayed in touch with. It was a lot of fun and the kids enjoyed playing together. Hopefully we can make it an annual event.

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September is sort of a blur, we headed to Daytona Beach for a week of vacation the week of Labor day. We took Dustin’s parents with us as they enjoy Florida and enjoy being with us and the kiddos for a week. Unfortunately despite us traveling to Florida the last several years in September, this year hurricane season was in full force and we had to evacuate due to Hurricane Irma. It was a little bit of a stressful end to our trip but we made the trek to Atlanta and took a flight back to Cincinnati. Daytona ended up not  really getting hit much but they didn’t really know which way Irma was going.

After we got home, Dustin turned around and headed to Whistler, Canada for the Automattic Grand Meetup. He really enjoys this week of learning and engaging with his colleagues that he typically only chats with text based. I held down the fort for 8 days and went to work (let’s just say i’m not doing that again… if I can help it!).  Then the last week of September we celebrated my youngest sister’s wedding to Ryan our new brother- in-law. Our kids have two Aunt Ashley’s, and now one is married to a Ryan and one to a Brian. Not confusing at all. 🙂 We love them all. Check out our post and some of the wedding photos here. I’m a little biased but my nephew and my kids were so cute all dressed up.

October also went quickly. Dustin had a WordCamp in Michigan, and we also took a weekend to travel to DC to visit our good friends Rebecca and Glen who were living there while Glen was teaching in the Cedarville DC semester. Dustin hadn’t been to DC and I haven’t been since the 8th grade trip. It was fun to go and stay with them and see real DC living. Princess K and their little boy have literally been buds since they were born.

November was a bit more low key, Dustin attended WordCamp Cincinnati where he was the Keynote speaker!  And I went to Charlotte, NC for a few days to speak. We enjoyed Thanksgiving at the Hartzler’s this year and got to see Brian and Ashley’s brand new beautiful home they built down the street from Dustin’s parents.

December is off to a great start. Princess K had her first dance holiday show and both sets of grandparents were able to attend. And we celebrated my nephew’s (Jaclyn’s little one) 1st birthday a little bit early.  As in the past, I’m writing this letter on my flight to the American Society of Health System Pharmacists Meeting. This year it’s in sunny Orlando. Excited for a possible dip in the pool tomorrow morning for my exercise. It’s supposed to be 80 and and sunny tomorrow. It’s a quick trip this time since baby boy is at home with Daddy.

We are looking forward to our first Christmas as a family of four and are excited to spend time with our family and friends this holiday season. We hope our home can reflect the true meaning of Christmas and celebrate our Savior’s birth.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” ~Luke 2:11-14

Washington, DC

Our friends Glen and Rebecca had the opportunity to spend a semester teaching in Washington DC this year. I haven’t been there since my 8th grade trip, and Dustin had never been there, so it was a perfect time not only to visit them but also for us to visit the city.

We were going to drive, but we got a great deal on tickets. We got the flights there for $97 round trip each! Travel deal of the century that saved us so much time in the car. They already had an extra double stroller so we didn’t need to bring that, and public transit allowed us to travel as light as we could with the two kiddos in tow (ie no car seats). We arrived late afternoon on Wednesday and Glen met us at the airport and we made our way via the metro to Union Station and picked up dinner. We enjoyed great conversation and dinner together.

Glen prepared to start teaching that evening in the basement of the home, but prior to that we had a slight “emergency.” Kenley and Declan locked Reese (Kenley’s favorite doll)  in the master bedroom of the house. Kenley was hysterical, students were arriving. This house was built in the 70’s and the safety unlock screw was stripped. So after about 30 minutes of attempting to get in the room, Dustin got lucky with a combination of a hammer and screwdriver and got the door open. Reese was saved and Glen was able to start teaching downstairs while most of us went to bed early after the trek with the kiddos. Dustin and Glen took a walk after class was over to see the Capitol at night.

On Thursday one of Glen’s students took us on a tour of the Capitol Building. The kids loved the “subway” that the congressman use to get from their offices to the Capital building. We had yummy burgers for lunch at a place called Good Eats. Super good, but they need gluten free buns in the future. The rosemary fries were AMAZING. That afternoon I think we actually got all five kids to take a nap! (win!) During this time Glen and Dustin checked out the Library of Congress. We cooked dinner that night at home, and we had fun taking the kids pictures on the Capitol lawn that night. Afterward Dustin and I splurged on a little walk to get gelato!

On Friday we had planned on going to the National Museum of American history, but when we got there it was closed for a big event. So we came up with plan B and headed to the white house next just to see it since Dustin hadn’t been there before, unfortunately all the tickets we could request in advance for the tours weren’t available for that day from our congressman’s office.

We had lunch and unfortunately I wasn’t clear enough with instructions on Princess K’s smoothie and I think she got a vegan protein powder with lentil and pea (which are the only two things she’s allergic to now) so we had to make a CVS run (thankfully it was around the corner) for some benadryl. Thankful as well it didn’t knock her out and she was still able to enjoy the rest of our day.

We headed to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. They had the actual Wright brothers first plane. That was really cool and Dustin wishes we could have spent some kid free time there to enjoy the place :). And the most random crazy part of the trip was that Princess K had told us on the way to the airport that two of her friends from school were coming to Washington DC that weekend, we thought no way, she probably just said she was going and they said oh me too. But we turned around and K was shouting look mom there is M! We were all shocked out of all the places in DC and the limited number of people K knows at 3.5 years old that we were in the same place at the same time. Fun memories.

We stopped at the Native American History Museum which had a great kids area. They got to stamp their “passports” at all the stations. We ended the night trying out &Pizza, the gluten free pizza was great. The next day Rebecca and I enjoyed a latte and everyone headed to the park while Prince K napped and I packed up. We headed out late Saturday morning. Since the traffic wasn’t bad Glen was able to drive us to the airport which was a bit easier than the public transit with both kids in tow.  Crazy small world as someone Dustin knew from the WordPress community was in line right behind us at security.

Such a fun trip with great friends and wonderful memories with the kiddos.

Ashley and Ryan’s Wedding

This is just a quick blog post to highlight Ashley and Ryan’s special day. They got married at Evans Orchard on September 29th. They had BEAUTIFUL weather. Thursday night was the rehearsal and dinner. Dustin’s parents were able to tag along and help with the kids since I was in the wedding, Dustin was an usher, and Princess K was the flower girl.

Friday we got all dolled up early and took lots of pictures. The ceremony was beautiful and we all got to enjoy the reception. The yummy food included apple cake and apple cider doughnuts! Princess K loved the dance floor, and was exhausted the next day. She normally goes to bed at 7 pm and that night the party was just getting started at that time.

Ashley looked gorgeous and so did the rest of the crew. It was a beautiful setting. I am so glad I splurged on getting the babies (Prince K and my nephew) matching outfits because I will forever cherish the photos of them together with our family, especially the one with my dad holding them. They are 3 months apart but about the same size. Prince K is a bit of a chunker like his daddy was as a baby. Seriously the thighs on this baby!

Such a great weekend, I’ll leave you with an excerpt of my speech at the reception…

My advice was a “prescription” for a successful marriage.

  1. Pray without ceasing..(pray to start your day, pray throughout your day, and spend time in prayer together each day.)
  2. Grow in God, Study the word, together and separately.
  3.  Know each others needs/expectations, keep open communication. Over communicate at first if needed.
  4. Seek mentors that are in a different generation who have rich wisdom from God to share.
  5. Invest.. invest in one another, invest in people and your community, invest in God’s kingdom, and someday in your children
  6. Ryan keep tabs on Ashley’s shopping budget. 🙂

I’m going to close with the scripture verse that we had read at our wedding just over a decade ago (I know I can’t be that old right?) Ephesians 3:14-21. Paul was writing to the church at Epasehus to encourage them, so I pray that it is encouraging to you and one that you book mark and underline significant portions as you journey with God.

A Prayer for the Ephesians

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us (and now with you as a couple), to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

*Professional Photo Credit Katelyn V Photography, the rest are mostly Dustin Hartzler. 🙂

Daytona Beach, FL

No summer is complete without sinking our toes into the sand somewhere! In September we headed to Daytona Beach, FL. My parents have timeshares and we found a good deal on an exchange in Daytona at a place with lots of pools and right on the beach.

Dustin’s parents joined us. We flew down on a Sunday. As soon as we got there, we needed to find lunch. We stopped for Thai food on our way in…no vacation is complete without Thai food.

Monday through Thursday was really just lots of beach and pool time with the adults taking turns for Prince K’s naps. One afternoon, Dustin took Princess K for her first theatre experience and saw Cars 3. We also had a round of putt-putt

We took our fancy camera out for the “golden hour” to take some family pictures because our kids were a mess by the time the lighting was good at night.

We were supposed to stay until the following Sunday with plans Saturday to head  to Orlando and go to Downtown Disney, as well as take Princess K to Disney on Ice. But Hurricane Irma was approaching. Despite the fact that it wasn’t supposed to even hit the Florida Keys and Miami until Sunday night, everyone was was in ultra panic mode so our resort ended up closing Friday afternoon.

On Thursday we thought we had a plan we were going to go to Hilton Head for a few days, Dustin’s parents have always wanted to go there and I figured its far enough north that we would be fine there until Sunday. We got our Delta tickets rerouted to fly home from Savanah and thought we had it figured out. Thankfully one of the people I was communicating with on accommodations informed me HHI was going to evaluate on Saturday morning (seemed a little premature) but thankful we didn’t drive there and then figure that out.

So we decided we should just figure out the best way to get home, we called Delta back again and got flights home on Saturday from Atlanta. Unfortunately we had to drive to ATL because the Friday flights from Daytona Beach they only had 3 tickets left and we needed 5. So a normally ~6 hour drive turned into 11 hours. But the kiddos were so good. And we got to enjoy dinner with our friend Vinus who leads the Jamaica mission trip that Dustin and I have been on before. It was fun she got to meet the kiddos since we haven’t been on the trip since we became parents.

We got home a day early, which actually turned out to be a good thing, we enjoyed lunch at Liberty Center with the family, and then also checked out the Popcorn festival that afternoon (Princess K picture below enjoying her Apple Cider Sushi and new purse). And Dustin had time to get some things done around the house prior to heading to Whistler, Canada for his company’s grand meetup. Overall great time, although Grandma Hartzler says she’s not going back to FL in September again. 🙂

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