"Sometimes I'd like to ask God why He allows poverty, famine, and injustice in the world when He could do something about it...but I'm afraid God might ask me the same question."
-Anonymous

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Something Fun To Try Tonight...Go Get Your Glow Sticks!

Alyssa and I have recently discovered Pinterest. If you haven't already visited Pinterest, consider yourself warned. It is addictive. Be very careful before you visit....

We did, however, find this super cute, easy and cool idea yesterday and decided to give it a try. Simply take a jar and empty the contents of a glow stick into it (we just snipped off the end of the glow stick with a scissors), cover and shake. So much fun!!!
I picked up jars and glow sticks at the dollar store. Cheap, easy and cool. Bryce decided to sleep with the jar in his room last night...fun times...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Happy Birthday Drew!

I love this picture of Drew.
He looks tough and vulnerable at the same time.
He looks like he is getting older, but also looks like a little boy.
I am so lucky to be Drew's mom.
He is a great boy who is always willing to try new things, play hard, and take risks. He has a tender heart and is compassionate. He possesses so many qualities that will serve him well in the future.
Happy Birthday Drew!
Below is a picture of Drew that I NEVER thought I would condone.
I was the mom who didn't want her son to play with toy guns.
I waited as long as I possibly could to allow Nerf guns in our home.
I would even judge other families who let their kids play with toy guns and run around all "wild."
Then, I had a little boy. And he grew. And his personality was different than my daughter's (and mine). The game changed a bit.
So...here is Drew yesterday. He turned 12 and was very excited to have a paintball adventure birthday party. We have never been to a paintball place. We drove about 20 miles out of town and arrived at a boy's paradise - fields with obstacles, a giant castle with a roof to perch yourself on to act as a sniper and protect your "flag," and of course, lots of woods to hide in while shooting.
Please don't judge me...like I said, I was originally horrified by the idea, but I have to tell you, while I watched the boys (and the sheer joy on their little faces) it looked like a lot of fun (and I imagine that if I was a 12 year old boy it would have looked even more fun).

I was so happy to be able to throw this party for Drew. He was super excited. I can also tell you that his six friends that came to the party were also VERY excited. It is not every day that you are allowed to wear old clothes, carry a weapon and shoot your friends for fun.
Here the boys are loading up their guns for the first time.
The boys trying to look "tough."
The boys looking "tough." - sort of reminds me of Star Wars or something.
The party involved a private "guide" that took the boys to various courses to play all sorts of action/adventure games. Drew's first "hit" came from his dad. When the weapons fire, they really make noise and I have to admit that watching the boys get pelted was sort of strange. I knew getting hit hurt by the reactions of the boys...they always acted tough, but the instant the were shot, bruising and red marks appeared (proving the weapons really did deliver some force). Drew got a pretty good bruise from his dad's shot during the first game.
There were all sorts of obstacles for the boys to hide behind.
Bryce and Grace were obviously not allowed to play (the place has really strict age limits and does a good job of making it a safe activity). They spent the whole time gathering paint balls off the ground. The paint balls were like little treasures to them. Did you know that they come in all sorts of colors and designs? Neither did I.

Reloading. Still smiling even though some have been "hit."

Here are the boys after they survived two hours of shooting. Notice the paint on their clothes. Notice the sweat on their brows. A good time was had by all. I think Doug had just as much (if not more) fun than the boys. I could definitely see a father/son follow up adventure with some of his friends in the future.
Drew and Sam showing off a couple of their injuries. This sport is not for the moms who are worried about a few marks and bruises...Drew's leg looks terrible today, but he is wearing it like a badge of courage.
Happy Birthday Drew!
What a great party!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Famine


I am sure that most of you are aware that the UN has declared a famine in south Somalia.
Ethiopia is also effected by the famine. It is heartbreaking to think of those suffering...so many children will die from something so basic- a lack of water and food.

More than 11 million people in the Horn of Africa are desperately in need of food, clean water and basic sanitation. Although there are many people on the ground working to make sure that immediate aid gets to the people who need it most, we can’t forget about the big picture.


Can you join me in telling Congress not to cut programs that fight the root causes of world hunger and keep families healthy for the long-term? Please go to ONE and act now.
It only takes a minute to share your voice.

http://act.one.org/sign/protect_fy2012/?source=protectfy2012tafem&referring_akid=2302.1382008.6wyXGD

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Family Vacation Part Three...The End...

So...we made it to Branson, and the goofy tourist stuff continued for three days before we even needed to head to the big dance competition. That left time for shopping at super cool stores like the old-time five and dime store. I think we spent about an hour looking at silly stuff.
Bryce and I really cracked up when we found the "squirrel underpants." For some reason, this just struck a cord with me and made me laugh. Probably because we convinced Grace that it was a real thing and when she spotted a real-live squirrel outside the next day, she was concerned that it did not have underpants on...
This hat seemed like a good idea for the Green Bay Packer fans in our house, so we bought it.
One of the coolest things that happened in Branson, was that we got to meet the Gibson family (from the My Crazy Adoption blog)!!! I have been following their blog for a long time, have been in contact with them to buy their cool "simply love" shirts, and have sent Kari some headbands that she handed out on her last mission trip to Ethiopia. Anyway...I realized that she was having a garage sale to help raise funds for their next mission trip (leaving next week!). I also remembered that her when I mailed her headbands, her address was in Branson! Long story short, we got to visit with Kari, Roger and Zoe! Grace and Zoe hit if off and played together like they were best buds. Of course they were adorable together. Roger told us all about his upcoming mission trip. The "Man Up" trip includes a bunch of guys traveling together to Ethiopia...so cool. Kari was sick and not feeling too well, but she was still a super sweet blog buddy and didn't think we were just blog stalkers...It was a lot of fun to meet the Gibsons in "real life." It was also fun to meet their friend Julie who is doing amazing work to bring clean water to the parts of Ethiopia where her boys were adopted from. So cool to meet fellow adoptive moms who are so invested in Ethiopia. I can't wait to follow their footsteps and dig in to a few projects that will impact the beautiful people of Ethiopia who we have grown to love.
After spending some time meeting our blog buddies, we headed out to do some more wacky stuff...like riding segways. What was I thinking? It turned out to be a ton of fun.
Why do I look so much more nervous than Alyssa? She can't even drive a car yet...
She's just chillin' like it's no big deal.
And, what's a vacation without a lot of swimming?
Here WE are swimming...this is how much I participate in family swim time.

Grace and Bryce didn't get enough of the pool, so they had to continue the fun in our condo's tub. They can be such good buddies one minute, and get on each other's nerves the next.
It was finally time to watch some dance! Alyssa and her friends did such a great job dancing! Their trio was a huge success. They got the highest score they could get, got a special judge's award, AND took first (at a national competition) in their category!!!! We were so proud of them!!!

(The trio is a character routine...the panicked look on the dancer's face is part of her character...not just nervous dancer face ;))

Alyssa had six routines compete in Branson and they were all super.
GREAT JOB ALYSSA!!!!
The dancing was much more successful than the fishing. Branson has beautiful lakes and we heard that the fishing was wonderful. We did not have the best luck, but the kids had fun throwing in a few lines.


Turns out Grace had beginner's luck and caught the biggest fish!


As the week came to an end, it was clearly time to head home...we had resorted to eating donuts for lunch and were running out of miniature golf places to visit.


Branson will always hold a special place in our hearts...after all, where else could we shop for squirrel underpants, pose for pictures with Johnny Depp AND watch a great dance competition?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Family Vacation Part Two...Branson, MO

So, we arrived in Branson, MO and immediately decided to ride "the ducks." The kids had a blast and it as fun to be on a vehicle that could drive around town AND into the water. Grace was especially excited because she didn't have to be in a car seat OR use a seat belt! She even got to drive the "duck" when it was in the lake...

I never really anticipated vacationing in Branson, but it turned out to be a really nice place to visit. The scenery was beautiful. The lakes were really nice and it was fun to hang out at the lakes between the other cheesy touristy things we did.


Come on, how often do you get to hang out in a giant rocking chair?
...or sit on Santa's lap in the middle of July????
And here is Grace with her "boyfriend's" picture. We went to a really cool restaurant called Mel's Hard Luck Diner. The wait staff are all incredibly talented singers, and between delivering your food, they belt out amazing songs. I was excited because they sang two Journey songs while we were there!!! It was so much fun. Well, one of the waiters, John, was smitten with Grace. They had an instant bond and he serenaded her more than once. It turns out the John is adopted too. Grace asked if he was adopted from Ethiopia (he thought that was pretty cute).
Here we are at Mel's. Please check it out if you are ever in Branson. Be sure to tell John that Grace sent you!
The next night we decided to have ice cream for dinner at a 50's soda shop type restaurant. Drew and Bryce thought it was cool to put money in the jukebox at our table...it amazed them that the music they selected started playing throughout the restaurant.

The next day it was time to head to the tourist spot I had been waiting for...the wax museum. I had never been to a wax museum, so I was excited to check it out. These are just a few of the famous people we "met."



Grace was really into posing with the wax guys...she would walk right up to one and ask me to take her picture...hmmm...
She seems to really LOVE Bob Hope...
...and the Godfather...
...AND she insisted that I capture this moment of her and Willie Nelson together...





SO...the wax museum was a hit...now, check out these pics and tell me...what is more disturbing...

Grace marrying Johnny Depp,
Doug hanging out with Angelina Jolie (and her very impressive wax self),
or, me with Hef? I would have to say the me and Hef is the most disturbing!!! Yuck!!!
Stay tuned for the rest of our crazy Branson vacation pics...
I need to wash my eyeballs out now...I can't stand looking at Hugh Hefner and me together...yuck...