Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Two Very Different Cabins

J and the kids and I got away for this past weekend to J's parents' cabin in Vernon, AZ (a very small town outside of Show Low.) We had a great time in the cooler temperatures, where we went on lots of nature walks looking for animals and muddy footprints. The kids' highlights were our walk at night with flashlights, petting their great-grandmother's lawn gnomes, the sprinkle donuts they got for breakfast, and getting to see the neighbor's horses. J's and my highlights were all of their cute comments on our walks, needing jackets and hot drinks from Starbuck's, and extended nap times. We also got to visit with great-grandma Noni which was also very special for all of us!

Nature Walk (yes, B is wearing her baby in her jacket like it's a Baby Bjorn)

Checking out/Riding Lawn Gnomes :)

Interestingly enough I had also just finished the book, Uncle Tom's Cabin, which was not at all like our experience this weekend, but happens to be one of the best books I have ever read so I had to mention it. It is a brilliant portrayal of the horrifying nature of slavery, the redemptive side of humanity, and a beautiful challenge to Christians to be what the church was intended to be. I can't believe I haven't read it until now (when my friend, Anna, recommended it), however I don't know if I had read it at an earlier age if it would have meant as much. Nevertheless, I highly recommend it! Here is a glimpse of it...

Upon arriving to a Quaker home where they sheltered fleeing slaves like George, "This indeed was a home - home - a word that George had never yet known a meaning for; and a belief in God and trust in His Providence, began to encircle his heart, as, with a golden cloud of protection and confidence, dark misanthropic, pining, atheistic doubts, and fierce despair, melted away before the light of a living Gospel, breathed in living faces, preached by a thousand unconscious acts of love and good will, which like the cup of cold water given in the name of a disciple, shall never lose their reward." p. 141.

Ah, the beauty of time with family and a good book!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Princess and the Lion

It has been awhile since I have done a straight toddler update, so I thought I would do just that. These kids are sweet, hilarious, adorable, and extremely two (read: whiny!) They have us exhausted and so full of joy and frustration and adoration all at once.

Recently we asked them what they would like to be when they grew up.
B quickly responded, "A Princess!"
T also responded, "No! Nufing! (nothing!)" so we would leave him alone and let him go down his slide in peace.
We were happy to see such lofty goals. When asked again, T said, "Ummm... a big one lion!" Very cute!

B is quite enchanted by princesses right now. Here, you see her as a princess...
in the bathroom...

and going to her first movie.

She talks like an adult, but has such a joyfulness in everything everyday. Nothing can light up a room like her giggles or her dancing! She is incredibly dramatic, observant, and she asks great questions. She is extremely maternal and takes great care of her baby dolls, calico critters, and especially her brother. She is also being sure to teach him good manners. When he excitedly ran up to her to to tell her something, she looked up from her coloring and said, "T can you please say excuse me?" She will never pass up ice cream with sprinkles or snuggling and reading a good book with mommy. She says that daddy is her prince!
T is a bundle of energy and trying to corral him in places like the library is like trying to corral an energetic, curious, and happily loud tornado. In the common area of his great-grandmother's retirement home, I cringe to see him stealthily run past the almost finished 1000 piece puzzle sitting unsuspectingly on the table. People adore him everywhere he goes! His smiling eyes are charming and he is talking so much. In fact, he will often tell B or I to "Stop talking, B/mama!" He is always on the lookout to defend his sister from anyone who may try to take one of her things or get in her way, and he is happy to assist her in breaking into bags of candy behind the couch.
Here he is gardening with Dad...
They seem so old these days (and who wouldn't...three is sneaking up on them.) But, then they do something sweet like get very scared of "monsters" and we get to play hero. This is something we are trying to savor...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Life In Abundance Banquet

photo-1"Characterized by vast slums and an impossible job market, LIA is empowering the youth on the street by providing them with a place to live, food to eat, education and training and start up funds for a small business allowing them to create a sustainable livelihood for themselves upon completion of the program.  At the same time, we are working to prevent future generations of street children by identifying and serving female headed households with micro-loans, tutoring for their children, school supplies/fees and much more." - blog.liaint.org

J's organization, Life in Abundance International created their first documentary this past year. They hosted three banquets to premiere it at, with the second one held in Phoenix this past weekend. We had an amazing time with over 200 people who share in caring about some of the most vulnerable people in the world. The benefit dinner was held at the Phoenix Zoo and featured the documentary on street children in Ethiopia and a talk by the organization's president, Dr. Florence Muindi (who was the first person to actually let J and I come visit her in Africa almost 4 years ago when all of this began!) It was a special night and J, his parents, and his aunt did an awesome job of creating it! I also need to give a little shout out to my brother and brother-in-law who came over and watched the toddlers for 5 hours straight while I went to the event. When we returned home we were happy to find them in one piece (the babysitters, I mean!) :) 

Friday, October 9, 2009

Doing the Desert...

We have been keeping ourselves very busy exploring the valley! Here are some of the things we have been up to:

The PHX Zoo, followed by our own homemade zoo :)

Artville and the AZ Youth Museum

AZ Historical Museum

Phoenix Children's Museum (Our Favorite!)

Desert Breeze Park (Twice!)

Tumbleweed Park (Twice as well - it's our new favorite park)

Making Pizza

AZ Puppet Theater (Surprisingly really fun!) followed by the park

We have friends in CA who we are trying to convince to move here. I hope this is convincing that there is stuff to do! Especially now that the weather is GORGEOUS! 

Monday, October 5, 2009

Thank Goodness for Good Parents!

          I am not sure how I survived in CA with a traveling husband and no grandparents within 350 miles. J was out of town this weekend again (only three nights this time! Yay!), and so the kids and I showed up on my parents' doorstep at 8 am on both Saturday and Sunday. They were unbelievably sweet to us the entire weekend (and I do mean the entire weekend - I really only took the kids home to sleep!) 

They fed us, laughed with us, played with us, took us on train and carousel rides at the park, and took us swimming (Grandpa was the only one brave enough to get in the cold water with them!) They even let me escape to the gym for an hour and a half (it's amazing how when I was working I used to drag myself to the gym, but now working out on my own sounds incredibly relaxing :) 

         The kids had a ball, and I did, too. It was so much fun for us to have time to just hang out together without one of us "visiting" from out of state. And, it was just such a great reminder of what wonderful and selfless parents I have. You couldn't find someone who loves their kids or grandkids more than they do. I don't know what I'd do without them!   
        Sleeping Side Note: My kids' sleeping is still pretty terrible. I was reassured of that this morning when I went back and forth between the two of them from 3:00-4:30 a.m. Yesterday in a magazine, I saw that 2-3 year olds should be sleeping 13-14 hours per day. Ha! My kids sleep between 8 and 9 hours per night with plenty of wake-ups in between. Then I get a 45 min. to 1.5 hour nap during the day if I'm lucky. B didn't nap at all this weekend. That brings them to a grand total that doesn't even laugh at the minimum. Hmmm....