Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Journey Begins...

In just a few short hours, Sam and I will be on a plane crossing the ocean.  We have planned for this day for months, never imagining it would look like it does.  
In a matter of days, we have gone from this:
 and this:
 to this:
 His quote from this night he came home from the hospital as we had dinner at Cracker Barrel, "I feel like I am at a casino!  I have a beer(let me clarify that it was a root beer) and I am playing cards!"
and this:
Having a little 4th of July fun on the 5th of July since he missed out.
and this:
Finding out he was going to get to go to Africa after all!

I almost feel like this post will sound like an acceptance speech at the Academy Awards.  There are just so many people to thank.  So many people have come together to make this trip happen for us.  You have supported us financially.  You have donated supplies towards the trip.  You have prayed for us through all the unexpected twists and turns.  We will continue to share this journey with you whether it is as we go or when we return(all depending on our internet access along the way).  

I really believe this trip is about so much more than the actual trip.  We prayed about whether it was time for Sam to go.  We have seen God provide the means for him to go.  And then, BAM, appendicitis!  Never would I have dreamed that one up.  Heck, just a couple of days before I was worried about my infected toe.  Well, that became a non-issue really fast!  

God has His Hand on this little guy.  I pray that He uses all of these circumstances to shape and develop Sam and his faith even more.  He sure does have a story to tell when he gets back to school in August.  I really believe that story is going to be one he will look back on as he gets older.  This is one of those milestone moments in his life that he will never forget.  I am anxious to hear the lessons he feels like God it teaching him through all of this.  

As we head out today, we would appreciate your prayers for our journey.  Pray for his body to continue to heal.  He is doing great, by the way!  Pray for our travels.  There are lots of little details like short layovers and maneuvering in Africa that we need to go smoothly.  Pray for me.  I am a bit worn and weary.  I hope we can get some good rest on our long flight across the ocean.  Pray that this will be the adventure of a lifetime for Sam that God will use greatly in his walk with Him.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Laila's First Friend Party - "Frozen" Water Party

All of our other children had their first friend Birthday parties at the age of 3.  Laila was given that opportunity at age 3, age 4, and age 5 and she never wanted to.  Every time we would talk about it, the introverted side of her would get so overwhelmed about choosing a theme and who to invite that she would end up saying, "Can't I just celebrate with my family?"  Each Birthday ended up being a fun day at a water park for the family.  Earlier this year, she went to her friend Sarah's party.  It was at her house, not too overwhelming, and just the right number of people.  Laila left there inspired.  She was ready for her own friend party.  Since then, we have been planning this day.

Our next dilemma was how to have a Frozen themed Birthday party in summer.  I came up with the idea of making it an outdoor water party.  It turned out really fun!  We did the party a week before her bday because some of her friends were going to be out of town on her bday.  It also helped me to get that checked off the list with all the trip planning we had going on the week of her Birthday.  

Laila's 6th Birthday "Frozen" Water Party
Abby and Grammy were the masterminds behind most of the decorations
 Cody made this for our "Pin the Carrot Nose on Olaf" game
 Grammy made this banner and mailed it to us
 We were very excited when we found "Frozen" plates and napkins.  
It seems there is a shortage of "Frozen" themed products!

 We started the party with some "Frozen" music and dancing while the guests arrived.
Then, we had a lunch of pizza, blue koolaid drinks, and
Blue Jello Jigglers
 Then, we played "Pin the Carrot Nose on Olaf"

 Laila opened her gifts and then we headed outside for the water part of the party
 We started out with a few relays.  The girls chose team names.  
We had Team Elsa and Team Ice.
 They had to run down with a sponge, fill it with water, 
 run it back, and squeeze it out into a container.  
The team with the most water in their container at the end won!
 Next, we had a "Break the Ice" Relay.
I made frozen blocks of ice(enough for one per person) with gummy fish in them ahead of time.
 All ready to go
 The girls ran down, picked up a hammer and began breaking the ice to get the fish out
 Once they had all of their fish, they would take them back so the next person could go
 The team that finished first, won!

 Then, we sprayed their tummies with shaving cream, put goggles on them and did a relay with water sprayers to spray off the shaving cream

 The next activity was my favorite part of the party.  
We had a shaving cream fight!
 Each girl got her own bottle of shaving cream, and we just let them go wild!
 Goggles were also a good idea for this activity so that no one ended up with shaving cream in their eyes!
 When the moms picked up the kids, I told them,"Well, they either had a blast or were traumatized by this party!"  There were moments where I wasn't sure if they liked this part or didn't.  Some weren't too thrilled about being sprayed off with the hose afterwards!

 This is what they all looked like at the end.
 There are no pics of our next activity, but we had a "snowball fight" with blue water balloons.  
This also helped wash off some of the shaving cream.
We ended the part with ice cream cake

 Laila had a great time!  She was really glad she did a friend party.  I am so proud of her for branching out of her introvertedness so she could experience something new.  She needs to experience being celebrated and surrounded by her friends.

Since her bday was a week later, we did some celebrating on the actual day, too!
She opened the bedroom door to streamers the morning of her Birthday
 We had donuts for breakfast
 She spent the morning at VBS and came home to a gummy bear surprise from her daddy
 That night, we had a spaghetti dinner
 and spent some time telling her how great she is!
 Cotton Candy ice cream for dessert!
 Happy 6th Birthday, Sweet Girl!
Laila, you are such a joy to our family.  Your sweet spirit and loving heart always makes me smile.  You are so beautiful inside and out.  I love seeing you blossom into a confident little girl who is always encouraging and building others up.  You are so content to play on your own.  I will see you in the back yard with your iPod and headphones just singing and dancing your little heart out.  Your "power hugs and kisses" are the things that get me through some of my days.  The story that God is writing in your life is one that He has used and will continue to use in the lives of others.  Every day I thank Him for bringing you across the world to be in our family.  I will never forget the emotions of seeing you for the first time and finally holding you in my arms.  Our connection as mom and daughter was solidified in those first few days.  It is miraculous to me how God did that for both of us.  I cannot imagine my life without you.  I am so excited for you to start school at TCA with your brothers and sisters this year.  I am also excited for you to start pursuing some of your passions in sports.  I pray that you will see God in new and exciting ways over the next year.  Happy Birthday, my baby girl!!
Love,  Mom

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Father's Day 2014

We celebrated Father's Day this year with some gifts for Rick and grilled steaks for dinner

 Reading his Dad journal from the kids
 Rick's favorite verse
You truly are the best daddy I could ask for our children.  Your insight into who they are and how to lead them is unmatched.  I am so thankful, especially as they are getting older, to have you as a partner on this parenting mission.  Thank you for all you do to provide for and lead our family!!