(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!

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

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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.”

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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Maybe the uncles helped.

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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.)

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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.

 

Our Little Graduate

8 Jun

Caleb graduated from preschool! If all graduations were as adorable as this one, I’d be way more into them. They all marched in to a dinosaur marching song that Caleb has been singing since the first week of school. (Way better than Pomp & Circumstance)

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Then they sang some songs and recited some Bible verses. It moved along nice and quickly, which is another quality that more graduations should adopt.

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After he got his diploma, he came down to sit with us and we watched a slideshow from the year.

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These were available for sale–sucked me right in.

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Then I took my own (free) ones.

To wrap up the night, they had tables full of wonderful cupcakes. I grabbed this one just because of its cuteness.

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I’m so thankful that Caleb got to go to this preschool this year. He had a great time, made a best friend (that he’ll have to say goodbye to in a month), and learned all the things that he needs to be a rock-star-kindergarten-er!

The Best Day of Caleb’s Life

1 Jun

So many great and bloggable things have been going on around here, but the most exciting news of all is that our sweet Caleb got saved on May 10!

He’s heard about salvation many times and in a number of different ways, but every time that I asked him if he would like to be saved, he would say “no.”

Then one day, his friend from preschool gave him an Evangicube. It is a fun, simple, and super-creative way to completely explain God’s gift of salvation to us.

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When Caleb showed it to me, I sat down on the couch with him and we talked about each picture. I didn’t know the exact script that goes along with the Evangicube, but having understood salvation since I was Caleb’s age, I was able to explain the pictures and share different Scriptures that clarified the message.

When we were done walking through it, I asked Caleb if he wanted to pray and ask Jesus to live in his heart and he said, “yes!”

We prayed and he thanked Jesus for dying on the cross for his sins, asked Him to forgive him for his sins, and asked Him to live in his heart and bring him to Heaven when he dies. After he said “amen,” he turned to me and said, “Am I saved?” I had a huge smile on my face as I said, “YES!” He just started giggling and giggling. It was a most delightful parenting moment to see him overflowing with joy!

He was so excited to tell everyone that he’s saved! As his parents, Josh and I couldn’t be more thrilled that he’s secured an eternity in heaven with the Lord and with us!

It’s the truest “happily ever after” story!

Just like that…

24 May

…our school year in the US is over! The kids had a terrific year, but they are excited to get back to the Philippines. I think that’s the healthiest sign of a successful furlough, so we’re very thankful for that huge blessing!

Mackenzie and Bella both finished the year with straight A’s! Deacon’s grade doesn’t have letter grades, so we’re cool with straight “+”. There were lots of end-of-school activities, programs, and parties, so we were busy running around, baking (more like, buying the yummy cookies from the bakery department at the grocery store), and tying up loose ends.

Mackenzie’s school had a Fine Arts festival, so she performed with her mixed choir and the show choir. Her teacher picked such fun songs for their performances this year! Earlier in the year, the show choir performed one of my favorites, “Pompeii,” with great choreography. At this festival, all of the choir did different Disney songs, including the new one from Moana, which is a car-karaoke family favorite!

She also had a bunch of artwork displayed in the hallway.

While we were at the performance, across the hall in the gym, Bella was attending an open gym for any little girls interested in Mackenzie’s volleyball club, NE MAVS. Even though we aren’t going to be here, we jumped on an opportunity for extra volleyball! Bella had a lot of fun and I think she likes it more and more every time she plays.

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Josh and I missed their actual last day of school because we were away for the weekend with some extra special friends. We spent the weekend in Omaha and then met up with all of our Kansas City-Philippine friends. It was so great to reminisce about the old country with them!

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This was the gorgeous view from our hotel room. Well done, KC!

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When we got home, we all headed out to the fort for a fire and s’mores!

Caleb still has preschool for another couple of days, but M, B, and D are embracing summer with sleeping in, TV, baseball and softball, and Mackenzie has cooked dinner for two nights in a row. That deserves a huge fist-pump!

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She Kisses My Boo-boos, She Braids My Hair

17 May

Mother’s Day was so spectacular for me!

  1. Josh returned from a 10-day trip to the Philippines, so my 5-on-1 power play was over!
  2. Jet-lagged-Josh wakes up really early, so for a few days, I get to sleep in and he takes care of ALL morning parenting duties!
  3. A few days before Mother’s Day, Deacon’s class hosted a Mother’s Day Tea. They all read poems that they had memorized, and then they served us all kinds of yummy snacks and presented us with gifts. I really love getting Mother’s Day crafts and projects from my kids. IMG_5136

IMG_5138Here are some highlights of Deacon’s gift.

6’5″ and 96 lbs. boom.

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I’ll try to focus on all the good qualities that Deacon thinks I have. It’s ok that I’m not brave or energetic.

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Phew. He thinks “She barely gets mad at me.”

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Caleb also filled out a little questionnaire at his preschool. “My mom is happiest when I love her.” (I didn’t realize we were working with conditional feelings here!)

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He also made these coasters.

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Bella brought home this little arty craft for me. I have just the spot back in the PI to hang it!

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Mackenzie, my tech-savvy 12-year-old, made me a short movie of my days as a mom! It was precious and I love it and if I could handle a computer as well as she can, I’d post it!

On Saturday, us mom’s and daughters headed to church for a Mother’s Day luncheon. It was a really wonderful time of yummy food, sweet mothering stories, and fun conversations.

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Afterwards, we went and put some flowers on Aunt Kris’ and Grammy & Papa’s graves.

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On Mother’s Day, I got to sleep in, enjoyed my traditional french toast in bed, and didn’t have to lift one finger to help anyone get ready for church! Afterwards, Josh treated us to Longhorn Steakhouse. I had told him that I didn’t want any gifts, just a fat steak and baked sweet potato!

After a sweet afternoon nap, I got to sit in the gorgeous weather and read on the deck.

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I wish every day was Mother’s Day…

 

 

 

 

 

Time-Out

12 May

Last weekend, I got to go to my first coaching clinic and I loved every moment of it! It was presented by The Art of Coaching Volleyball and featured so many great coaches. In addition to overflowing my coaching cup, I got a day and a half all to myself! Josh was in the Philippines, so Nana and Grandpa were in charge of the Fab 5 for the weekend.

John Dunning, 2016 AVCA Coach of the Year from the NCAA Div 1 champs, Stanford, was easily my favorite. In addition to such a high volleyball IQ, he was funny, approachable and so down to the earth. It was hard not to be awestruck when he and the other coaches would tell funny little anecdotes about some of the best players in the world.

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Coach Dunning is one of the founders of AOC volleyball, along with Terry Liskevych, who coached the women’s US National team back when I was in high school. He did a great job leading the clinic – keeping things running on time, fielding questions very well, and passing on expertise about things like team culture, coaching philosophy, and leadership.

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It was fun to hear from Mike Sealy, the head coach of the women’s UCLA team because he was the setter for Dan Landry’s (from FA in the Philippines) team back when they won the NCAA D1 championship. It took me a day and a half to muster the courage to go talk to him, but I did it!

They provided lunch on the first day and it was a beautiful 70* day out, so we all ate outside.

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I came away with an invaluable notebook full of great info, drills, and tips. (And a t-shirt! I’m still a sucker for a free t-shirt.) I came home fired up and psyched to get back to coaching in the Philippines! My personal caveat: there’s no way the girls are going to be as pumped as I am, so I have to make sure I’m not disappointed if they don’t always have World’s Best Volleyball Team title at the top of their goal list!

**On a related vb note: Mackenzie’s team got a reallocated bid to Nationals! It is a first for her club, so we’re all super excited. I’m mostly excited because she gets an extra 6 weeks of practice.