…last week we went camping with our church family near Bend only to discover that the mosquitoes in this particular Federal Campground are much worse than anything I’ve experienced on the equator in Africa. I wore socks to dinner one night and forgot to spray them with DEET. Big mistake. My feet have 32 bites between the two of them. And I can’t fit my itching feet into my new tennis shoes! I will spare you pictures of this!
One VERY MINOR advantage to this whole exercise in patience is that we discovered that James now holds the title for ‘Mosquito Magnet’. He comes from a long line of ‘sweet ones’, which surely must date back further than my mother and I. From head to toe, James and I achieved well over 100 bites together. It’s a long and not-so-glorious tradition!
One second minor advantage, to play the Pollyanna here, is how much of an adventure Kent and I had trying to get them out of our tent by flashlight after a child (who shall remain nameless) left the door unzipped. With blood on our hands, we danced over our sleeping children for over an hour catching over 70 mosquitoes INSIDE our tent. We awoke to at least 30 more, packed up and went home! =) Really… I don’t have anything against camping.
I promised you the story, and even though it’s been nearly 3 weeks now, I will fill you in on how Joel’s 4th birthday went. He must have liked it because he continues to ask several times per day, “How many more days ’til my next birthday?”
We wanted to drive over to Eugene, so he could have a party with his friends and we chose Skinner Butte Park because it has some water games, grassy shade and the kids love it! I also love that it has something of a map of the area designed into the play structure itself. Cupcakes and swimming stuff in tow, Kent wanted to stop by REI first to see if we could buy a soccer ball ice cream maker. Kim & Dusty, friends in Africa, have used this in their rural location (welcome back guys!), and it looked practical for us to take along when we go, so we bought it!
James and Joel’s feet spent most of the time in the river/dam/sandpit area:
Until the Parks&Rec. Dept. showed up with crafts and water toys for everyone. What timing! We hardly needed our water balloons! They set up a cool rocket launched off a hose, so the kids could take turns launching and getting squirted (not to mention beads, face-painting, etc.):
Here Anna plays with her friend Molly: (Kate must’ve been building her necklace still)
Then Kent mixed up ice cream for all (though we forgot the spoons and it was a bit messy!) We expected that it could be kicked more easily. It has some hard plastic ridges on the outside that would hurt your feet. The kids had a great time rolling it down the hills though and that much activity is all that was needed to make (cream and sugar on one side and ice and salt on the other into) ice cream. YUM!
Four years ago today, in the twilight hours of the morning, God gave us Joel. Born in France, he spent the next two birthdays in Kenya, and these last two in the USA. We had a fun picnic party this morning at a park complete with cupcakes, friends and water balloons, but I’ll post that next. First, I want to copy the sister-in-law of a friend and praise God for the four years we’ve had Joel. (I will preface this by saying with all the moves, some of our pictures have been lost or stolen, so birthdays 1 and 2 below were taken within a month of his actual birthday – we really did celebrate, I just don’t have pictures of it here). Happy Birthday sweet Joel!
Believe it or not, this car was the only thing he wanted for his birthday. Thanks to Gma and Gpa he had two! At the end of the day, opening up that car was his favorite memory. For all those grandmas out there, don’t worry, I let him have lots of treats and goodies today, but I drew the line at gummi worms for breakfast!
When life gives you lemons, … you know how the saying goes. We had not planned to still be here in the US this summer. We tried to take in all of our favorite ‘summer’ things last year: the berries, the swimming lessons, picking more berries, going camping, eating more berries… Now our finances are not sufficient to leave yet, and we are still here.
At first I didn’t quite know what to do with a second Oregon summer, this time in a different town, but I think we got our bearings this week and can make figurative lemonade. We have new library cards, signed kids up for swimming lessons, and invested $10 in a tiny wading pool for the backyard. They make them now with these inflatable shade pieces, which I think is a great idea. Living near the equator we’re always looking for ways to get them out of the UV. I call it ‘Anna’s pool’. She loves it so much she throws a fit when it’s time to go inside. It’s two of her favorite things in life put together: bye-bye and bath!
I love the face she is making in this picture with her brothers! Like “who do you think you are to invade my bath?!” She laughs whenever they laugh, and copies almost every last word she hears. Aside from eating full-time, she’s very interested in water, horses, books, shoes, and babies.
Don’t get me wrong, we are not unhappy with these lemons. We do not feel we are just ‘getting by’, but rather that our steps have been planned for us. This figurative lemonade is a blessing we intend to enjoy, even as we continue to prepare for our move overseas.
We often pray for people to have ‘journey mercies’, that along their travels God would make things go unexpectedly well for them. Well, one of our hugest ‘journey mercies’ this year (+) in the US was undoubtedly having JimKrisJimmieKaitlynandCaleb for neighbors. We were neighbors 5 years ago in the same houses during the year James was born which is also fun to remember. This year, Kris and I walked most mornings before our families were up to try (however unsuccessfully) to avoid the traditional American waistline. Kaitlyn was babysitter extraordinaire with a ‘super sack’ of surprises for the kids every Thurs. night, and even set up a sticker reward chart for them getting to bed obediently. We all looked forward to Thursdays because of Kaitlyn.
Well there is a season… and a time to every purpose under heaven. So JKJKandC headed back to West Africa this weekend and we got to spend one last day together last Wednesday. Good times were had by all. First a PB&J picnic, complete with Kris’ cookies:
Here we take a self-portrait. Not a stupendous picture of either of us, so I’ll shrink it. =)
Anna tastes chocolate frozen yogurt for the first time. Anna: “Bite! Bite! Bite! Bis” (I would like another bite now please) The urgency of the ‘bite! bite!’ part reminds me of the seagulls in the Nemo movie saying ‘mine! mine! mine!’ =)
One last pose. Kaitlyn has a great future in elementary education I’m just sure of it! =) Thank you JKJKandC for being such open neighbors, such a huge encouragement to us, and for us you are some of God’s ‘journey mercies’ for us. We’ll always remember the super sack, the walks, the blackberries, the water fights, and maybe the pellet guns. =) We’ll miss you tons!
Also on this trip, we celebrated our ninth anniversary! Yeah for nine years! After working hard on our communication this year we can both say our marriage is doing better than ever before! We had a beautiful hike up most of a mountain, got to view a beautiful lake down below, and sang Come Thou Fount at the top of our lungs! We stayed at the hotel where our wedding reception was held on that day 9 years before. It held lots of happy memories. So a big thanks goes to those who pray for marriage, those who’ve supported us both in every way, my parents who gave us 24 hrs kid-free, and the restaurant for free dessert!
You can’t tell from these gorgeous blue eyes, but during our trip to Seattle we had our SECOND visit to the ER in one week! Joel was trying to ‘jump like a frog… backwards… off Gma’s coffee table’. Bad idea. It was around 7:30pm (bedtime). He was bored. His brother was busy drawing a StarWars picture book on said coffee table when ‘crash!’ Joel split the bottom of his chin open. Kent knew right away it needed stitching, and local urgent care places were full or closing up for the night.
We waited well over one hour to get a bracelet, another hour to get inside, and over another hour to get 7 stitches (around 11:30pm). Joel was a real trooper. He cried at the description of it, but not at all during the real procedure. My imagination always seems worse than the reality of the matter too. He was actually quite happy during the stitching. The young doctor said something like, “I would agree to have a kid tonight if I knew they would turn out this well-behaved!” Joel started humming him a song while he stitched.
While I have yet to see what this all will cost us, I was reminded a few times to be thankful. We had to wait so long because his injuries were so minor – that’s a good reason to wait! The doctor said he has a hard time getting impatient people to understand that someone else is having a heart attack next door. And someone else is having a stroke down the hall. In our case the kid who came in just before us was being transferred to a psychiatric unit for evaluation after breaking a window with his hands. I am thankful for our 7 stitches, and especially for the gift God gave us in such a happy boy: Joel.
P.S. We have since discussed that frogs DON’T jump backwards. =)