Our View From Up Here

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

2015 in Review

I'm not much of a blogger any more, but a year-end note is always good :)

2015 was a fairly exciting year for us (well, for me at least!)....
This spring, while Kyla was finishing a great year of Kindergarten, I graduated with my Bachelor's degree in nursing. I didn't change job positions, but it's something I've always wanted to do, and it feels good to be finished. It might open opportunities in the future, but for now, I am still an RN for the Sanford Cardiologists in Sioux Falls and I can say that I truly enjoy my position.

At the beginning of the summer, we were able to upgrade our camper to a 28-foot travel trailer. Nothing huge or fancy, but an awesome upgrade from our little pop-up camper! We enjoyed camping to the max this summer- I believe we were gone at least 10 weekends. The kids had a blast with every adventure to State and County parks in the area. We were able to do lots of hiking, rock collecting, fishing, sandcastle building, and fire roasting. I am already home sick for the camper and cannot wait for summer to come again.

We had a few other little trips this summer- to Omaha and Billings for weddings with Greg's families. I believe Greg and I went to six weddings this summer (one of which I was a bridesmaid!) I also got to take two little weekend trips with friends to Des Moines and Omaha. Busy, busy, but so much fun!
Kyla also played softball this summer with the Sioux Empire Fast Pitch association. She was a good little hitter and had fun, but says she might try soccer next summer.
Nolan spent the entire summer outside (at least as much as we'd let him!) We spent our days off work at parks, swimming pools, the zoo, or just in our own backyard. He cannot wait to join any type of sports team in the future!

Greg and I celebrated our 10-year anniversary on June 24 in Vegas. We simply wanted to go somewhere we'd never been, so Vegas it was! We walked around, saw the sites, ate delicious food, rode rides, roasted in the heat, saw a show and sat by the pool. We always love getting away together and it was a perfect way to celebrate. Hard to believe that we've been married this long already, but I truly wouldn't have it any other way (sorry to get all mushy, but I love my husband... a lot, a lot!! :)

Kyla (6 years old) started first grade at Christian Center Elementary and Nolan (4 years old) attends the daycare there. We are grateful for this small school and the kids love it.
In October, I was able to celebrate my big 3-0 birthday with family and friends. I've promised myself not to be ashamed of my age, but to celebrate and bring it on! So we did- supper and a limo with my favorite people. We had fun!

Winter has definitely arrived here in Sioux Falls as we approach the end of the year. We do have plans to go to Montana before Christmas and spend some time with Greg's parents and grandparents. (Hopefully the snow allows us to travel!) Greg continues to work for the flight team at Sanford, so he has some shifts to work over the holidays when we get back.

So... there's our year in short. From our family to yours- we wish you a very merry Christmas and a blessed year to come. Keep in touch, we love you all!

Saturday, December 13, 2014


I definitely have a little seasonal depression.  It might be the colder weather, it might be the impending holidays...  I haven't exercised in a month, my house is messy, and my motivation is limited. 
I am a people-pleaser, and I can't help but wonder if that is why I struggle a little.  If someone else is stressed, it stresses me.  I want everything to be perfect for everyone at Christmas.  Unfortunately, life isn't perfect, but yet, I've always been a "cup half-full" person.  So, let's look at the positives!

Today, my cup feels quite full.  Greg and I were able to serve at the Banquet this morning (a local food-kitchen-type ministry).  I left feeling blessed, and my heart was a little lighter.  Afterwards, I did some Christmas shopping at locally-owned businesses.  It felt good to buy for others while supporting others.  I also visited my mom today, helping her with some minor things, and I talked to my dad on the phone.  Lastly, I spent the evening with my kiddos.

I don't list all these things looking for a pat on the back, but rather a reminder that "giving" can come in many different forms: service, support, time, caring.  And the true blessing of giving is the feeling you are left with: a mixture of satisfaction, happiness and humbleness.  As the chaos of Christmas parties, programs, and presents begin, I am so grateful to be able to do just this: Give.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014

I could probably copy our Christmas letters from the last few years, and only note minimum changes, but no news is good news, right?


Our kids are still cute, smart, and wildly entertaining!  Kyla is 5 and she started Kindergarten at Christian Center Elementary.  She goes all day, every day, and is doing well.  When Nolan is not home with Greg or myself, he goes to "big boy daycare" at Christian Center (2-3 days a week).  He's 3 years old and mastered potty training this summer, so that's exciting.  :)
Of course, the kids are naughty sometimes, and fight like siblings, but they do play well, and love each other too.
Greg is still working night shifts for Sanford Flight Team.  I am still working for Sanford Cardiologists.  I am still working on my BSN degree online.  We still live in SW Sioux Falls.  (Nothing exciting there, but that's ok!)
The little Mason Dog is 7 years old now.  He is lazy as ever, but we love that cute bug-eyed face!!
We've had a couple road trips this year- to Montana, Pella, and Minneapolis, and enjoyed a few camping trips in our old little pop-up trailer.  We honestly spend a lot of time at home, or checking out the different activities that Sioux Falls has to offer, and we have a lot of fun!  We've been blessed with so many wonderful things in life and are so grateful.
We wish everyone a very Merry Christmas with lots of love!
Greg, Melissa, Kyla & Nolan VanDenBerg

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

From death to Life

I went to a funeral today. My lovely sister in law, Roxy, lost her grandpa this week. They have a very sweet family and oh, how hard it is to say goodbye!
But, in a way, I love funerals. I love burials and cemetaries. I do not enjoy death, but I can appreciate it. And it's rewarding to hear how a person is honored after life is gone. 
Funerals are a promising reminder that we are sent to this earth, for just a short time. We are sent here by God to do his work, and when the time comes, he takes us to be with him forever. 
I hate that death is so hard and feels so permanent. I miss the people I once had the honor of knowing and speaking with but I love the promise of what they are experiencing now!
From Ephesians 2-
God raised us from death to life with Christ Jesus, and he has given us a place beside Christ in heaven. God did this so that in the future world he could show how truly good and kind he is to us because of what Christ Jesus has done. You were saved by faith in God, who treats us much better than we deserve. This is God’s gift to you, and not anything you have done on your own. It isn’t something you have earned, so there is nothing you can brag about. 10 God planned for us to do good things and to live as he has always wanted us to live. That’s why he sent Christ to make us what we are.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Health and Happiness

One year ago, a weight loss challenge got presented to me at work. I knew I had some pounds to lose and I wasn't feeling to great about myself. I weighed 191 pounds. By watching my calories, I lost 6 pounds the first month. At the beginning of February, my sister-in-law convinced me to join Beachbody. By doing one of their workout videos and enjoying a Shakeology drink everyday, I quickly lost 6 more pounds.
Twelve pounds down in 12 weeks, and I didn't win the work challenge, but I continued my journey anyway...
Summertime came and my swimsuit was too big!! I had to buy new clothes. I started feeling so much better about myself- less depressed, more energy, more confidence. I was becoming a better person for my husband, my kids, and ultimately- myself. We did a lot of walking, biking and hiking over the summer.
Within 7-8 months, I had lost 30 pounds (16% of my body weight!).
I continue to workout a few times per week and drink Shakeology nearly everyday. I LOVE what Beachbody has to offer and have found my soul mate workout (TurboFire!) It's been a true lifestyle change for me. Greg and I enjoy healthy cooking. We avoid most processed junk. We definitely eat our veggies and lean meat. Now, don't get me wrong... sometimes I eat too many cookies and I love some fried onion rings every once in awhile, but ultimately we are teaching our kids how to live healthy lives: both through food and exercise. It's been a great journey.
I've gained 3-4 pounds back over the last few months (darn holidays) and now have a Carnival Caribbean Cruise to look forward to in February. My hope is to be under 160lb by then and perhaps break out an old bikini!!

Monday, December 16, 2013

The elf is still on the move!

Mark's got a hot date tonight! 
Last night he snuck into the cookie jar and snatched an oreo!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


I thought I should do a year-end Christmas-type letter...

Me... I am going on 4 years as an RN at Sanford Cardiovascular Institute. I work about 36 hours per week and love my patients! I have a lot of independence and like what I do. Some other highlights of the year include getting the braces off my teeth and losing weight. I joined the Beachbody company and through exercise and a protein shake, I've lost 30 pounds and kept it off :)  I also have been going to an on-line school pursuing my Bachelor's degree in nursing. I live a crazy life, and I'm always running behind, but it is what it is.
Greg... He has been with the flight team at Sanford for over two years now, working as a paramedic on both the helicopter and airplane. He's very humble, but I think he's pretty awesome and I am proud of him every day. With our crazy family life, he decided to take on all night shifts, so he can pick up Kyla from school every day. He works 3 twelve hour shifts per week. He has been able to pick up a lot of my slack since I've started school- housework and cooking. He's great! I also got him sucked into Beachbody and he's lost some weight through exercise and through us cooking more healthy as a family.
Kyla... She started Pre-K this year at Christian Center Elementary and she participates in their before-school daycare a couple days per week. She is really smart and has enjoyed the challenges. She went through a shy phase this year, but is starting to become more social lately. Either way, she has always made friends easily with kids her age and is a pretty well-behaved 4-year-old. At home, she enjoys doing crafts, playing outside, and going for bike rides to the park. I almost forgot!!-- she learned to ride bike without training wheels this summer- right before she turned 4.
Nolan... He's two. Need I say more? ;) I worried about his speech earlier this year, as he hardly spoke any words. But, this summer those worries came to an end. He is a chatter box speaking in full sentences now. I think he's a typical little boy... likes to play rough and doesn't like to sleep in his own bed... He goes to an in-home daycare three days per week and has started to participate in the preschool curriculum and projects (he's so proud of his projects!). He also loves the outdoors, even when it's freezing cold.
Mason... The Mason Dog turned 6 this year. His days consist of being tortured by Nolan and sleeping. He's such a good little dog. He misses going for walks since it has been so blasted cold lately. His nights consist of cuddling in Kyla's bed.

We enjoyed a few camping trips this summer in our little pop-up. We really enjoy going to Lake Pahoja and Newton Hills. Also, we took a family vacation to Des Moines, Pella and Omaha this summer. We went to the Iowa State Fair (which me and Greg have always enjoyed), we spent some time in Pella and then went to the Omaha Zoo too.
We made a couple more trips to Pella unexpectedly. We were able to say our "good-byes" to our dear friend Nick as he lay in the hospital, then we went back a few days later for his funeral. What a blessing it was that we were able to have dinner with him just a few weeks earlier during our vacation. And what a blessing to have great friends surrounding us!
For Christmas this year, we're excited to drive to Montana to spend a week with all of Greg's family. Hoping the kids behave for the long car ride, but it will be so great to spend time there.
Greg and I are also excited for our cruise coming up in late February. We're going with our good friends, Paul and Emily. With the frigid cold temps outside, it can't come soon enough!

That pretty much sums up our year. We are hoping everyone has a wonderful and blessed Christmas and New Year!