Sunday, September 27, 2009

In Memory of Carol Zulu

I was first introduced to this sweet girl 4 years ago when Heather first went to Africa. She wrote home about a young girl, maybe 8 or 9 who had been sexually abused, had contracted aids because of this, and who had been found on her death bed. Mothers Without Borders took her in, got her the medical attention she needed at the time, and adopted her into their family. For the past 4 years she has been touching the hearts of all who come into contact with her, including mine.

Once she was brought to the orphanage, her health improved and she was able to live a decent life. She was well cared for, received an education and was no longer abused. Of course, this didn't eliminate all sorrow. She could not be healed from AIDS and continued to have the side effects. When I met her last summer, her energy level was low and she had lost eyesight in one of her eyes which effected her study. Heather was her roommate for the summer and would tell of Carol's struggles, her moaning and her throwing up.

When I asked Carol how she dealt with all of this, she gave me that huge, beautiful smile of hers, and let me know that God loved her and helped her find joy. Over and over she would share her testimony of God and His hand in her life. He sustained her in those difficult times.

A few weeks ago she contracted meningitis and because of her weak immune system, was unable to recover from it. She died in her sleep. The fight had finally ended.

What a blessing it was for me to have met and loved this child. Her testimony was more vibrant than anyone I have met and she helped me know what I need to do when my own trials come. Just smile, and praise God.

This first video is of Carol singing a song her mother used to sing to her.

In this video she shares what the song is about.

And in this one she sings one of her favorite songs. Carol, you fought a good fight, stayed true to your testimony and now your Savior has delivered you.

Heather told a beautiful story of Carol on her blog last year.

Monday, September 14, 2009

First Day of School

Despite months of sleeping in, Abbie and Connor woke right up when the first day of school finally came. They were ready to go and have loved every minute of it.
The day was a first for Holly and Emily as well. Holly had her first playgroup.
And Emily had her first day of Kindergarten. She has been counting down for years.

The next day she even had her first bus ride.
They are all so grown up. I love it!!

Finishing Strong

I wasn't ever too anxious for school to start again. Of course, there were many moments when I wished to send the kids away for the day, but for the most part we enjoyed sleeping in and spending the day playing. With an occasional work day thrown in. This was one of them. Going through everyones clothes. Blah. I hate that job. But I was thrilled to get rid of the piles and piles of baby girls clothes. After three girls, many hand-me-downs from friends and the addition of Sage's baby clothes, we ended up with 12 bags of girls 0-2 year clothes. Ridiculous!! My baby boy won't need any of them so Steph got what she wanted from the piles and the rest were given away. Good riddance.
Other fun summer activities:

Hiking at Sliver Creek Falls with Heather, Dad and the kids. Holly was our fearless leader with map in hand.
A very magical few days with Rick on the coast to celebrate our 11 year anniversary. Thanks to Heather for watching the kids-how will I survive without that for the next year? I'm not going to lie, the pictures are a bit difficult for me to look at. Makes me want to go back!! It was a very happy few days. What a blessing to be so in love.
Hike to Hart's Cove.
View from our hotel deck. Every time we looked out we could see whales in the water. Does it get any better?
The next weekend we went camping with friends and family at Trillium Lake.
And a few days after that we celebrated my 34th B-day. My #1 goal was to bask in the sun. The clouds and rain in the morning didn't keep me from wishing and by the afternoon I was basking.
We ended up at beautiful Battleground Lake where we ate chicken,

basked, of course,

and played in the water. This look is very staged. She busted up laughing as soon as I took the picture.
Family birthday picture.
Thanks to everyone who made my special day so great. I loved every minute of it.

Abbie and I spent our last day of freedom hiking in the gorge with Steph and Heather. We decided that since we lived in Oregon, we were going to embrace the rain and not let it deter us from our hike. So glad we did. It ended up being a gorgeous day and the hike was wonderful. Heather, with her wounded knees, and myself with my extra large belly, were a bit slow hiking down, but it was still the perfect end to a perfect summer.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sommer Time

After our trip to Idaho, we had a day to do laundry and go grocery shopping before our next adventure began-a trip from the Sommers! We were so glad they were able to make it this year. I still can't believe how much we crammed into the few days they were here. Enjoy the many, many pictures. There were so many great moments!

We took them to Steph's pool the first day they got there. It was really the only way to survive the 100+ weather. Kara and kids were used to it, but the rest of us were in survival mode. The kids talked us into setting up a tent in the backyard for them to sleep in. Half of them made it through the night, the rest came in and found a softer place to sleep.

The next day we loaded everyone into cars and headed for the Gorge, once again excited to escape the heat. It ended up being the best thing we could do. After a 2 1/2 mile hike up Eagle Creek we made it to Punchbowl Falls. The cold water felt great and everyone was happy. Swimming up to the waterfall is one of my happiest memories from the summer.

It was fun to see how quickly the kids were best friends again.
We even did a little cliff jumping. The kids couldn't be talked into, which was probably for the better, but Heather, Steph, Kara and I all took our turns. Watching a pregnant woman jump was enough to get a teenage girl who had been trying to decide, to take the jump as well.
The older kids hiked much faster than the younger kids and adults and we were glad they all made it safely back to the cars. There were some pretty steep cliffs along the way.

We survived the traffic on the way home and made it back with just enough time to eat some delicious salmon lingune and head off to the Beavers game. The kids didn't mind that we were losing 20 to 0 (maybe it wasn't that bad but it sure felt like it).

Kara was trying to steel my husband from me. Don't worry, she didn't even come close.
And don't be fooled by Heather's super cute smile. She barely survived the hours of sitting in beer and germs. She must have used at least 20 wipees as she tried to keep herself clean as well as anyone who came near her. We were glad to have Dad join us as well.
The next day we loaded up once again and headed for the beach. We were still trying to escape the heat and we did more than accomplish that goal. The beach was freezing! We kept reminding ourselves over and over that it was 100 degrees at home. Somehow that helped just a bit. As always, the kids weren't phased by the cold and were in the water in no time. I don't know how they do it.

On Sunday we slowed down a bit and made a cake for the goddess-you know who you are.
On our last day we played at the park,
went to the Children's Museum,

and had a super yummy night out with the girls at Marakesh-I forgot my camera for that one!

Is there such a thing as too much fun? I don't think so, but if there is we might have reached the limit. Between the family reunion and playing with the Sommers we were all wiped out. The kids crashed that night.
And poor Connor and Holly ended up with fevers. Rick went to Scout Camp the next day and the rest of us spent the week trying to recover. Poor Holly stayed sick the whole week until I finally figured out that she had a bladder infection.
And once Rick got home, we crashed on the couch before making it to bed. We were a tired group but our dreams and memories were of spending time doing really fun things with people we love!

Family Reunion

After a very busy, fun summer I am currently sitting in a silent house. Abbie, Connor and Emily are all at their first day of school and Holly is asleep. Pictures to come. But FIRST, I might actually find time to recapture all of our wonderful summer memories (instead of cleaning the house or taking a nap to make up for waking up before 9:00 this morning!). It might have been one of the best summers ever.

In the middle of July we loaded everyone and lots of stuff into the van to make the 12 hour drive to Island Park ID. We had a new camera for the trip so we had to play with it in the car.
Don't they just looked thrilled to be driving for hours and hours?
Emily cheered up when we let her have a binki. She thought that was pretty fun.
And eventually they resorted to plastering their faces with fake cheese. You have to do something when you're stuck in a car for so many hours.

Half of us arrived at the beautiful lodge we had rented and Rick set out to find the other half. They were all hanging out at the cabin, instead of the lodge. I'm hoping Bud has forgiven me for ever considering renting the cabin. How dare I!? Holly had managed to completely soil her clothes and we were left with a pair of PJ bottoms. Rick was gone with the rest of our stuff. Sage didn't think it was fair that Holly got to go topless so she joined in the fun. They spent hours running around the cabin this way.
We finally all ended up in the same place and were so happy to be together. We were sad Mike, Stacie, Mia, Luke, Julia and Mikalann had to miss out on the gathering but are excited for next time!

We ate LOTS of yummy food,

snuck in naps when we could-at least my dad did,
played in the hot tub,
and spent many, many hours around the pool table. I couldn't keep the late hours that the boys did but from what I heard, Jake was the overall pool champ.
We also spent many happy hours around the campfire. Were we ever not laughing? Just glad Dad didn't kill over during farkle. We almost lost him to a laughing fit.When we weren't taking advantage of the lodge (not the cabin-heaven forbid), we explored the amazing nature that surrounded us. Yellowstone was less than an hour away. It continues to amaze me. I loved seeing my kids take it all in as well. Such a magical place! We were glad to have Josh join us in our family picture of one of the many geysers.
My Dad made us all hike down a long road and up a steep hill so that we could have this view. It was well worth all the grumbles from the kids. Once they got to the top they thought so too.
And here we are anxiously waiting for Old Faithful. It didn't let us down.
LOVE this picture!
Dad won the best dinner award with corn on the cob and beef, chicken and salmon skewers.
Thanks to Rick for cooking up over 50 skewers (all of which were devoured). His reward was first pick on the best skewers. Yummy!
Saying our goodbyes.
Dad having a moment.
Our sad farewell. John, Mirm and kids had to leave a day early. It was sad to see them go but we were SO glad they made the sacrifice to join us. Can't wait until we do it again. Thanks family for being so wonderful. I love you!!
Some of the many flowers that surrounded the cabin. Dad did an awesome job capturing their beauty.