August 24, 2012


Ah, Vacation Bible School.  One of the highlights of my summer every year from the time I was old enough to attend, until I left for college (and spent a few years not helping with any VBS).  It still is a highlight.  I'm the director for our church, and I so enjoy the planning and putting together of the before, the enjoying of the during, and the satisfying exhaustion of the after.  This year, an added bonus was that Ryan and Allie were old enough to attend!
The water balloon slingshot.  A final night favorite.

 It ended up that this year was the most difficult year of any I've ever experienced.  I lost several volunteers (including a Bible teacher) the day before it started.  I lost volunteers during the week (including a last night fiasco where my Bible teacher got stuck 2 hours away in stand-still traffic, and I and my WONDERFUL song leader tag-teamed the Bible story until she got there...while also dealing with the 2 potty accidents and bloody nose that happened in other places in the meantime...).
 As the director, I only schedule myself to participate in the opening and closing skit - leaving the rest of my time open to walk around, be available to trouble-shoot any problems, and take pictures that we send to parents.  This year, my shy little guy and my overtired (and maybe a wee bit homesick) niece made that difficult.  Did I fail to mention H spent part of the week with us so she could attend too?  They loved being the "Big Kid Cousins" for the week, but when the time came for VBS, they demanded to have me by their side.  So I didn't float, like in previous years.  Instead, I learned to relax and be present where I was needed most - with 2 of the most adorable preschoolers that I dearly love!
Lucas and I never did a skit without at least one of our crew with us...we pretended that our characters were babysitting!
 Game time (led by Lucas) was one of the few places they would happily leave my arms to get in on the fun!

 Swimming around the island (until the "shark" would come and they would all have to crowd on the tarp)!

The balloon game.  Ryan and Allie were the first to pop theirs.  But the leftover balloons came home with us and they are still playing with them (Allie named hers "Box" and Ryan named his "Booty.")

Water and sponges...always a hit!
 Crafts!  This one was making their own hot/cold pack caterpillars out of socks, rice, and rubber bands.  Being huge caterpillar fans (remember beloved Bumble?) these are a hit here.  They've slept with them the last 2 nights...

 Not being able to roam around, as in past years, I worried that I might not have a good handle on how well VBS was really going.  Were kids having fun?  What about the leaders?  Were things going smoothly?  The last night I watched as kids - familiar with all the leaders and volunteers - laughed and ran and gave hugs and high fives.  I even had 2 that gave me hugs and thanked me for a wonderful week.  And my kids?  Ryan told me VBS wasn't was AWESOME!  Success!
With their group
(note: H missed group picture night - the last night - and I blurred the faces of the other kids for privacy)
With VBS over last night, I will confess we are completely exhausted and attempting to regroup and recover before a busy weekend.  But it was all worth it.  I'm already starting to look forward to and think about next year!!!

August 19, 2012

Meeting Lightning McQueen

As you may remember from Ryan's potty party, he is a fan of Lightning McQueen and anything Cars related.  Except the movie.  We actually tried, but Lightning got lost and tangled up in the fence and he was done.  Even in his (many) Cars books, whenever he sees a picture of Lightning tangled up he covers his eyes and turns the page.  But he knows every character (even the new characters of Cars 2), and has many Cars books that he loves to read, and has several Lightning McQueen toy cars that he sleeps with every night.  Well, we live not too far away from the Michigan International Speedway, and every time we drive by he yells, "There is where Lightning McQueen races!  My car races there!"  So, Lucas and I have been planning for a while to head over there one of the days during a race weekend this summer.

We finally made it.  As you will see in the pictures, it was a challenging environment for my noise-sensitive little man (and to think he had to go for special testing after he was released from the hospital because they were worried about his hearing...).  But we went prepared (earplugs and pair...but we figured Ryan was the only one who would need the extra layer).
For the first little while we were there we just walked around and got the lay of the land.
 We discovered that Allie will kiss any fish - not just the ones she catches...
 They had a kids' zone where you paid for a wrist band and they could come and go and bounce on the many bounce houses all day.  We were totally in - which was great because it was the biggest hit of the day.

 They both got some pretty good air...

 ...and Allie consistently amazed her brother with her acrobatics!

 They were doing practice laps, so we headed into the Grand Stand to watch.  We discovered, on the way in, that Allie needed something around her head to help hold her earplugs (designed for much bigger ears) in. I improvised with what I could find in the bag.  We went in, found seats, and watched the trucks do laps (the cars were practicing later).
 He hated the noise, but didn't want to look away.
 I tried to get a picture of the cars as they went by, but they were too fast for my camera.  The pictures below were taken in sequence...and cars passed by in each of the spaces...
 I had to get the pictures from far off to make sure I actually caught them.
 Success!  Sort of...
We didn't stay in the Grand Stand for long.  First they had to go to the bathroom.  Then Ryan begged to go back, but Allie didn't like it and left to bounce.  Ryan was determined to stay - especially until he saw Lightning McQueen - but the siren call of the bounce houses drew him away.  He told me that he had so much fun, but he was sad that he didn't get to see Lightning McQueen or bring any of the race cars home.  I think he was planning on inviting them to live with us...

Next year, little guy.  We'll take better, noise-cancelling headphones, and stay to see Lightning.

August 18, 2012

A Look at Lucas' Trip

I asked Lucas if he would write a post about his trip, but he felt like he didn't really have the time to sit and think (like he would want).  So, I stole some pictures from his slideshow to give you a peek at his trip (I mean, we don't feature the grownups often anymore, but an international missions trip should at least get a few pictures).
A view of Haiti (I'm not exactly sure where)
 A tent village - there are still many from the earthquake.
 Henry (the youth that went from our current church - they met up with the youth from our church in MA!) having fun :)
 The kids playing a favorite - Simon Says!
 Lucas helping give some of the kids a swing.
 Where this blue and yellow tent stands there used to be an orphanage.  It was almost right on the epicenter of the earthquake.  The building, obviously, collapsed.  15 minutes before the earthquake they sent all of the kids outside to play - and none of them were killed.  In fact, I think a few staff members were trapped and injured, but none seriously.  It made international news and a group from Canada came and built them new dorms.
The bunk beds in the dorm.
 Citi Solei - it was actually like this before the earthquake.
 A river in Citi Solei
 A clinic where they brought supplies that had been donated.
 Lucas with some of our former youth.
 The whole team.
 Before the trip, the twins took $20 and picked out toy cars to send to kids in Haiti.  I told them that these kids don't have mommies and daddies to give them special surprises, so Ryan and Allie would send them some so they would feel loved and special.  Lucas snapped this picture, with his phone, of the boys playing with the cars!  Ryan and Allie especially love the one wearing his car as a hat.
I know Lucas would have a lot more info, personal experiences, and stories.  Maybe I can get him to write a post once things settle down (like October...maybe...).  If not, at least you got a little glimpse of his trip to a country that is very much in our hearts. 

Coming Home

And the race catch up the blog before VBS...when I will disappear for another week...or two...
My parents drove us home - along with the VBS decorations their church loans to ours each year (our church couldn't financially support VBS without this help), 7 boxes of yard sale donations, the bookshelves my dad built for the twins as part of their beds (which will travel here at a later date), and our luggage.  You can't see it very well here, but we were pretty squished.
 Disappointed that they didn't get go on any fun adventures with their grandkids in Nebraska, my parents decided to work an adventure into our trip home - a stay at a hotel with a pool.  My kids are at the age where they think hotels are amazing - elevators, different beds, and pools.  Dad and I took them swimming.

 Once home, we immediately got to work transferring our yard sale to a storage facility (a couple miles away) where an aunt of a friend generously donated space for us to set up for a big highway specific yard sale...the day after Lucas got home.  So it went like this: get home Thursday, immediately start pricing new donations, spend most of Friday transferring the many boxes and tables for the yard sale, pick up Lucas at 11:59 pm Friday night, get home at roughly 2am Saturday morning, get to the yard sale by 7:30 am to finish setting up, spend the whole day Saturday trying to sell stuff to raise money for our adoption, collapse that night.

We summoned enough energy to squeeze in another adventure before my parents left (they drove home Tuesday).  We hit up one of our favorite zoos!
My mom hates pictures of herself, but I like this one - taken because Beulah Miller (which just happens to be on the sign) was her grandma's name!
 Riding with Papa
 The Gibbon
My camera battery died about 15  minutes after we got there though...figures.  Oh, well, we had a fun adventure (seeing the animals, riding the carousel, and feeding giraffe's) even if I have no pictures to prove it!

It was wonderful to have my parents for the 2 weeks during, and a little after, Lucas' Haiti trip.  I was sad to see them leave.  Sigh.  Nebraska and Michigan just need to be closer...