2017 Girl Junior Nationals

14 Aug

A major highlight for our furlough was Mackenzie’s club team qualifying for Nationals! The main reason that I was excited about it was because it meant that we got to practice for a few more months. God completely paved the way for us to be able to go and that made it such a fun experience for us.

The four other kiddos stayed with their Kansas grandparents, so just Josh, Mackenzie, and I hit the road for the 6.5 hour drive to Minneapolis.



The very best part of the long weekend was that my parents flew in to watch Mackenzie’s tournament! We met up with them as soon as we rolled into town and went to an Indian restaurant and grocery store for tournament snacks.

Then Kenzie and I headed to the team hotel on the other side of the city. We roomed with her best friend on the team and her mom. They went swimming while I poured over the tournament info, brackets, and pools.

IMG_5768We had all afternoon waves of games, so that meant we had easy and slow mornings. It was really nice! On one of the mornings, we took the girls to Mall of America (to get their bodies nice and tired for their afternoon games-?!?!)

(I love how Maddie is on her tip-toes.)


Then it was tournament time!


It was an amazing experience. It felt so prestigious to be at a tournament where everyone had to qualify. Our 8-team pool had teams from MN, IN, GA, D.C., OH, CA and Hawaii.


I don’t know about everyone else on our team, but I was in the “it’s an honor just to be nominated” frame of mind. Just being there was a privilege and I wasn’t expecting even one win. So we were pleasantly surprised and ecstatic that we won our first match! I think the girls felt great just playing games again. (Our first day’s games were in the convention center ballroom! The lighting was…er…romantic.)IMG_5776

#1 Fans! (We also discovered that Kenzie is taller than me!!!! I’m not used to being the shrimp.)


A fun tradition at Nationals is that all the teams exchange gifts at the start of each game. Mackenzie came home with lots of fun gifts from all over the country! (This was all that was leftover after she ate the snacky gifts – the Hawaiian team brought chocolate covered macadamia nuts!)


We had a lot of goof off time in between games. We walked around Minneapolis, played Rook, and ate food, of course.

Kenzie wasn’t so lucky. She and her teammates had to officiate games.


We finished pool play 3-4, but probably could’ve nabbed a 4-3. Three of the teams were spectacular!

We wanted to eat something local to MN, and we had heard wonderful things about a Juicy Lucy, so we were thrilled to see that the Home of the Juicy Lucy was just a few miles from our hotel!



Our challenge game was against a team from our Region! They were ranked higher than us, but having played them before, we knew better what to expect. We went to three exciting sets with them, but lost, and then lost our final game as well, for a final finish of 39th out of 64 teams. We were pretty excited about our finish, as we went into the tournament with a ranking in the high 50’s!

I’m so grateful that Kenz and I got to be part of this club! It was such a rewarding, valuable, and fun time for both of us, and even more special that we got to do it together!




It Doesn’t Look Like Summer Softball!

10 Aug

It took longer than usual to get sweltering hot in KS this last summer. At one of Bella’s games, we brought fleece blankets to snuggle under while we cheered her on. It was glorious!

For some weird and fortunate reason, we had a sleeping bag in our van, so Deacon and Sim took turns camping out in the stands.

I loved watching Bella pitch this season! This night especially endeared her to me because she threw a strike, then she looked over to me, pointed at the sky and mouthed, “Mom, look, a rainbow!” Then the catcher threw her the ball and she pitched another strike. (To be totally honest, it was definitely a ball, but the batter swung, so…)


I’m not sure if our kids will every get that summer ball experience again, so we’re extra thankful for our summer nights at the ballpark!

Bella’s Baptism

7 Aug

The last Sunday before we left KS, Bella wanted to get baptized! We’re so proud of her for taking this step of obedience on her own!

She was pretty thrilled too.




Her first words when she came up? “It’s so cold!”


…and I just thought this was cute!


Raised Royal for 37 years!

5 Aug

Since we were in the US for Josh’s birthday, I wanted to do something that we can’t do in the PI. Of course, there isn’t anything that screams red, white, and blue like baseball! Even better, the Royals were playing the Red Sox on Josh’s birthday!

We hadn’t been on a date in too long, so it was so fun to just get away on our own for the evening. I, of course, wanted to wear Red Sox gear, but I didn’t have any in KS. So we went to a local sports store that was filled, FILLED, with all things Jayhawk, KState, Royals, and Chiefs. I immediately asked the clerk if he had any Red Sox stuff, and he said, “Ooooh, there MIGHT be a few pieces in that dark, cobwebby, corner.” (I embellished.) When we wandered over there, not only did I find a cute top, but it was 50% off!


We passed the K and headed to get something to eat. We had driven past this Thai restaurant during many of our road trips during the year and always wanted to try it, so we stopped for some Pad Thai and curry.



We got back to the stadium and walked past all of the riffraff who teased us about being a “divided house.” It was all fun and funny. I never did come up with a witty response though.

We got amazing seats! Josh had never been so close to the field and I was so excited to get him there!


Unfortunately for the birthday boy, the Red Sox smoked the Royals. He was kind of mopey. The Red Sox Nation around me were all having a great night together! On the flip side, a lot of the Royals fans called it a night early, so we ducked down a few rows and finished the game from the front row! We even made it on TV when we reached over the wall to try and grab a foul ball!


It was a super night and I’m always thankful for special memories with my favorite guy!


BFF Visit!

5 Aug

Wow, I think this has been my longest hiatus from my blog! The weight of pictures and thoughts is heavier than the 14 check-ins, 7 carryons, and 7 backpacks that we traipsed across the world one week ago!

Now that jet lag is settling to a dull annoyance and the computer is unpacked, I think I’ll just pick up where I left off…and try to catch up! What a mistake that is, as the internet here is SO spotty and SO slow. I’ve been spoiled.

Over the summer, our best friends in the PI came to visit us in KS! They were in between visiting churches in the area, so the settled in for the week and we all had a blast together. We surprised them (and our own kids) by showing up at the church that they were visiting. It was such a great reunion! So great, in fact, that we spent the entire time just catching up in the lobby instead of actually going into church!

We, of course, were busy with baseball/softball/t-ball, so they came out to our area for part of the time. We took the kids to the little waterfall in our area. These city kids didn’t quite know what to do in “nature.” Bella goes, “What are we supposed to do here?” They eventually figured it out and created their own fun.


It’s crazy to think that Mackenzie and Abby are old enough for a throw-back photo, but they are! So we did!



Our last day together was Flag Day, so….yeah.


(Almost) last road trip!

10 Jun

We’re going to be road-tripping right up until our PI departure, but we’re almost finished! We don’t love the time on the road, but we love the destinations!

We started with an overnight to Hot Springs for one more family visit while we’re in the US. It was a relaxing and fun night with Josh’s bro and his wife. We took them out for Greek food and, because it was National Donut Day, Dunky’s!


We barely saw the boys the entire time because of this…


The next day, we drove 2 and 1/2 hours over to Mena, where my sister-in-law’s parents live. We always love visiting with them because 1) they’re such fun and great people and 2) their house is magazine-pictorial-worthy. The boys immediately bonded with their cousins’ grandparents and were calling them “Grandpa Steve and Grandma Kathy” right away.

The next day, we had a wonderful visit with their church and got lots of people excited about what God is doing in the Philippines. Then we drove another 4 hours over to Dallas to visit with more friends.

We had a great time with them. They have a annual pass to the Arboretum in Dallas, so the mom’s and kids spent the day there. This place….it’s amazing! There was stuff for the kids, stuff for the mom’s, stuff for all of us, lots of Fitbit steps, and a picnic! If it weren’t for thunder and lightning later on in the day, we might still be there today!

This was Deacon’s favorite spot.

(If you’re wondering about the little boy in his tux at the splash pad, he was taking pics for his sister’s quincenera.)

We’re all loving Sim’s word for “swimming” right now. He calls it, “mooting.”



That night, Josh surprised me by bring home something I’ve been wanting to try for about 6 months now! Nothing Bundt CakesĀ  is located in lots of areas around the country, but I’ve never been in the right place at the right time! Thankfully, this branch was right down the road from where we were. I got to try it, I loved it, I licked everyone’s plates, and ate leftovers later on in the car. (It’s important to note that I didn’t actually lick the plates.)


That night, we drove back home and finally made it into our beds by 3:30am! I think Simmy was talking to my mom in this pic, only it wasn’t Facetime. He’s going to think its weird when he realizes that we used to hold phones up to our ears to talk to people.


That weekend was a whirlwind and totally worth the miles!

We Heart Family

9 Jun

For Memorial Day weekend, all of the family rolled into town for a wonderful, fun-filled weekend together.

Before everyone arrived, our little crew went ice skating nearby. I had bought a Groupon around wintertime, and we had let it expire, but thankfully they honored the amount that we paid and let us skate! We had so much fun. Of course, I don’t dare bring my phone onto the ice as there is no telling which direction I’ll fall. (My muscles, joints, and bones were all very thankful that I didn’t fall at all!)

I did grab one on our way out.


Once everyone arrived, the cousins were so thrilled to be together!




On Saturday morning, we all got beautified and headed out to get family pictures taken. It went wonderfully! All 31 of us happy and looking good. I haven’t seen the photographers pics yet, but my sister-in-law has become quite the amazing photographer, so I asked her to sneak some pics of my kids.

I can’t wait to see the other family pics. My mother-in-law sewed different dresses and outfits for all of the grandkids! It was spectacular!

An activity that needs mentioning, but doesn’t include pics, is our kickball games! Most of us are in the age window where we’re old enough to run around and play organized kickball, but not too old that we’re risking our wellness! It was so fun and full of laughter, even though every play was contested.

One activity I planned for the kids while they were all together was making stepping stones for Nana’s garden.

First we put the 6-year-old to work mixing the cement.


Maybe the uncles helped.


Then we filled the plastic molds and smoothed them out. Yay for Grandpa having every tool we needed!

After an hour or so, we let the kids come and put their handprint in the cement and decorate it with jewels.

I didn’t pay enough attention to the jewel-placement, and most of the kids didn’t push them in far enough. Once the cement hardened completely, the jewels were just falling right off, so I went to work with Gorilla Glue, and hopefully they’ll adhere for at least a season out in the garden!

On Sunday, we all got to enjoy the brothers singing together at church. They did a fantastic job (especially because I thought that the pre-recorded background vocals were their own.)


The kids also sang together in their matching outfits that evening, but I had to miss it for volleyball practice. I got to see some video, though, and they were awesome. And way cuter than their uncles.

We had a blast that weekend, and we’re so thankful for any time that we get to have with our family. It’s good for the soul.