Wednesday, April 29, 2009

off to London

It's nearly midnight on Wednesday night.

Our days and nights have been so full, so I haven't had time to keep up with the blogging. Our group is leaving the hotel at 6 a.m. tomorrow for our flight to London. I have so much to say and pictures to show, but seeing that I have to get up in five hours, I can't do it tonight.

Don't give up on me yet. If anything, I'll try to find a McDonald's with free wi-fi in London so that I can get a few pictures up.

We're having a great time, although it is exhausting and I'll need a vacation after our vacation!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

my boys

I'm sure you're wondering, like we were, how the boys are doing back home just halfway through our trip. Hunter is with my friend Ashley and her family of eight children on lots of land out in the country. He's having a grand time and probably won't want to come home with us when we go to pick him up.

I thought I would share some parts of the emails I'm getting from home (plus I'm too tired to do justice to our BEST DAY YET today, so that will have to happen tomorrow). And you can see a glimpse of what great friends I have:

Your one boy is fitting in perfectly. No trouble!!

He is in charge of feeding and watering the chickens. (doing a great job) And he and Weston bottle the baby goats. Fun!

Hunter has also taken on the "egg collecting" each day. We have showed him where to put them in the fridge. He lets me know each night how many he gathered. Very proudly. The first day he gathered 3 at one time. Weston put 2 of them in the fridge and Hunter kept one in his shirt. He came to me and asked if he could keep this one egg. I asked him what he wanted to do with it. His reply, " I would like to hatch it into a baby chick!"

Of course, what was I thinking?!

Thursday, it was nice enough to go Eagle's landing and they all decided to take a dip in the very cold water - melted snow.

He loves wrestling Caleb. It is hilarious. He thinks he is all tough and courageous to go after Caleb. He yells to everyone else, "I caught him!!" And then Caleb carries him off and the wrestling begins. Lots of laughter.

There is no sadness. I know he misses you and the brothers but so far he has stayed pretty busy and has not had time to think about it. He has been a real joy and goes with our family's flow. So glad we were able to keep him with us.

Here's portions of emails from my friend Christa who has Sauce, Rufus, and Squirt. I was particularly anxious to see how she was getting along since her husband happens to be in Taiwan all week:

Your boys are awesome. They miss you (they mention you more than Kenyon)! Squirt has been so stinking sweet. He has been a trooper and has rarely fussed at all. He is definitely attached to me, but I like it! He loves playing with balls and seems to have a ball in his hand more than anything else. He has been taking extremely long naps - I think he is dreaming of mommy and daddy and doesn't want to wake.

And, he eats a ton! So far, Sawyer and Squirt are out-eating Sauce and Rufus. It has been snowing - I hate it! But, the boys seem to like it because that means they get to play the Wii. They told me to try to talk you guys into getting one. I am pretty sure Sauce will play college golf. He is amazing at the golf game. Just so you know, I am limiting the time spent on the Wii because I think Sauce could play all day - just switching from baseball to golf.

Rufus is missing you guys the most. He had a meltdown yesterday evening and asked for mom. He got over it pretty fast, but I think he was just tired. He's excited about school tomorrow and really excited about the fact that he remembered his lunch box and gets to take it to school. All the boys went to MOPS with me on Friday and Rufus was in a class with his friend, Colin, from school. His mom Paige sits at my MOPS table and says she knows you from their school. Rufus thought that was cool.

To end, here is a conversation we had over lunch.
Rufus: "Do high school kids do stuff?"
Sauce: "Yes, Rufus. They skateboard and snowboard."
Rufus: "Do they eat food?"
Me: "They pretty much do what all of us do. Some things are different. They have more freedom but they still have to do what their parents say."
Sauce: "I thought high school kids could do whatever they want."

I think I ended with something about kids around here thinking that is the case but that the Sweeney and Anderson kids will have to listen to their parents. Your boys are fun and full of life!

And, the conversation of the next day:
Me: "What is your most favorite fruit?"
Sauce: "I like Cantelope."

Me: "I think my favorite is watermelon."
Rufus: "My favorite is fruit snacks."

I thought you all would appreciate these email snippets almost as much as we did here in Ireland. We had a day and a half of free time today and rented a car with four other friends on the trip and went up to Northern Ireland, Belfast and the North Atlantic coast.

So many pictures and so much to say, but it's 1:15 a.m. here and I must force myself to close the laptop and go to sleep. I'll post tomorrow.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

cliffs, trains, and beaches

Today seemed like two days in one. We started this day with the shores of Howth, which is about 45 minutes north of Dublin by bus. Although still cloudy, rainy, and cold, it was still a highlight of the day. The steep cliffs are stunning and we had to climb down quite a way to get to the edge. Sidenote: it is cold and rainy here all the time, so you'll never see us without our coats on, but these pictures really were today, not yesterday! I actually wish I brought a hat and gloves.


This is the view from the top of the trail when we first arrived. We walked all the way down to the edge for the picture above.



We then went to a little farmers' market that was an unusual find on a Sunday morning. They mostly had food, but a couple of jewelry and clothing vendors were there too. We also had the best latte ever from one of the tents here.


We then went to our first Irish castle and I'm too tired to look up the exact name of this one. We all agreed that this was prettier from the outside than from the inside. It was not very impressive inside and was used as more of a museum for furniture and art.


That was it for the scheduled events for the day. We then decided to take our free afternoon and go on the electric train with a group of other students and head down to the coast less than an hour south of Dublin.

We went to a little town caled Greystones and walked down to the beach. There were some unique rocks on this beach so we collected a few to take home. Kenyon decided to rinse a couple of rocks off in the Irish Sea, but a wave caught him and soaked his feet and lower legs.
Two minutes later our friend Dylan did the exact same thing. It was hilarious. Here they are with their wet feet and jeans.
Next we took the train to another town called Bray. It reminded me a tiny bit of the Jersey shore because it had a little bit of a boardwalk feel to it - yet it was freezing, and the boardwalk was actually pavement - but it was a beach town and had ice cream stands. Dylan and Kenyon climbed to the top of the hill in the picture below. There was a path and a monument at the top. They made it up and back down in 45 minutes. I waited with Dylan's wife Natallee at the bottom.


We took the train back into Dublin, got an overpriced dinner that wasn't really that good, and again as I type this tonight Kenyon is snoring on the bed in our room. Long day, fun day, and we get to sleep in a couple hours later tomorrow. Yay!

Hoping for some sun sometime soon. But we'll keep having fun regardless. We're working on renting a car and going up to Belfast and Northern Ireland to explore a little on our free day on Tuesday. Driving on the left.... please say a prayer!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

the countryside

Another cold and cloudy day here in Dublin. On our way down to the hotel breakfast this morning, we noticed the contents of the vending machine in the hallway... how do you think this would go over in the states?


Lastnight we went out to dinner with some new friends on the trip. I had my first Irish Beef Guinness stew with steamed potatoes - YUM! On the way out of the restaurant, this is what we watched on the street for a little bit.


Today we took a bus tour around the countryside of Dublin. We visited monastery ruins and burial grounds, as well as a quaint little Irish town. Here are some highlights:




This is our tour guide Liam Sinnot (he gave us the lowdown on "not sinning"). He's a very nice and humorous man.


We visited the Hills of Tara this afternoon. There are layers of history regarding this area of land, but this stone started as a pagan fertility symbol and later (when Christianity came to Ireland) was a spot for inaugurations of royalty.

Kenyon initially said he wasn't getting out of the bus for fear of what the stone might do to us.

But, after a few laughs, we decided to dare the stone:



We took some nodding dozes on our way back into town (jetlag is brutal) and finished the day off dodging traffic and touring Christ Church Cathedral, which we mistakenly thought was a Catholic church - nope, Protestant. It was beautiful and we got to hear a children's choir practicing while we walked through.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Dublin baby!

Well, after a LONG day and night of traveling, we have made it to our destination! I am sitting in my hotel room in Dublin and am posting BEFORE bathing (which really shows my priorities).

Boys - we miss you!!! Someday we hope to come back to this side of the Atlantic Ocean with you!
Here's a brief view of our trip so far...
We started off with the world's worst pizza. After scrambling around Thursday morning packing last minute things and dropping off children to their temporary homes, we realized that we had not eaten yet that day.
Hence, a stop in the Salt Lake Airport to grab a slice of cardboard disguised as pizza. After a couple of bites, I wasn't that hungry anymore.
We then got on the plane destined for Atlanta. There are about 40 people traveling in our group, however, not one of them are experienced travelers like my beloved. He called the airlines shortly after the group tickets were booked and swooned his way into the heart of the agent to move us to what we lovingly refer to as "elite coach" seats.
Exit row baby! Exit row. Yes, we look tired already. This photo is on our second flight, leaving for Dublin. We had over two hours of delays sitting in Atlanta due to major thunder and lightning storms.
After a movie, a glass of wine, an Ambien, and five hours of sleep, this is what I woke up to.


Then we boarded a bus in Dublin. Off for a wet, rainy, city tour.


Here's a view of the Georgian architecture of Dublin. And the rain...

We also visited Trinity College and Kenyon already started his plans to send one of the boys to study here. The library there has the original copy of the Book of Kells, which my Hunter and I studied this year in our homeschool curriculum. In the eighth and ninth century monks were hand copying the gospels onto animal skin and today we got to see one of those original copies. They are held in this enormous library full of historical books, and unfortunately, there is no photography allowed - except when you "accidentally" click a photo or two without anyone noticing. Here is the best one. You can't tell, but it was jaw-dropping gorgeous.


My beloved is sacked out on the bed and I need to get in a hot bath before we brave the rainy streets again to find some dinner.

I'll post more tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

all my bags are packed, I'm ready to go...

Well, in slightly more than 12 hours we will be saying goodbye to the boys and heading to the airport for our long awaited trip to Dublin and London.

I've taken the advice of well seasoned travelers and packed pretty light.

Another great tip is that we scanned in all of the contents of our wallets and our passports, then emailed them to ourselves so we can access them from any computer if they are ruthlessly stolen we somehow lose them.  Pretty good tip, don't you think?

The boys are excited, a little nervous, but still excited.

Squirt is oblivious, and because he is such a mommy's boy, I'm a little nervous for him.  And Christa.

I'll be in touch from Dublin!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

a little cabin fever

Yes, I haven't been out of the house since we went to church on Sunday.

It's Thursday, people.

It just might be a little ugly inside these walls.

OK, it might be a little cute too:

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I am the mother of five boys this week.  My youngest two are being affectionately referred to as "the twins."

Our little friend "Bean" is staying the week with us and he is just shy of three months older than Squirt, so it is really like having twins.

Bean's mom and dad are in Mexico getting some time away before their sweet baby girl arrives in July.  Coincidentally, they will be the ones caring for three-fourths of our brood while we are kissing the Blarney Stone NEXT WEEK!!!

Holy Crow.  I need to get packin'.

Another reason I haven't been out of the house (enter exhibit B):

radar

I made it nice and large so you can see how ridiculously wet and SNOWY it has been here.  Between one and two FEET fell yesterday in my yard.  And this morning I woke up to record low temperatures, so the icicles are back.

I don't have the heart or energy to take another snow picture.

I'm the mother of twins, you know.  I'm busy!

On a side note, after day number one of twin duty, my beloved came in the door from work and asked how it was going with two - two year-olds.

"I could totally do twins!" I replied.

After a defeated breath he said, "Man, I was hoping this week would
overwhelm you."

I then asked him if he had forgotten that he's married to Superwoman.

Apparently, he had.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

He makes all things new

This fall will mark 20 years since the day I asked God into my life and since then, Easter seasons have passed with different meanings to my heart.

When I was first getting to know God, I celebrated Easter with a thankfulness to Him for revealing to me that I didn't have to depend on human beings in my life to fill that hole in my heart.

There were other seasons that I mourned with gratefulness the sacrifice He made for me.  What a gift to be so easily received... the gift of grace.  I don't need to DO anything or NOT DO anything once I have accepted the gift; I don't need a pastor or a church leader to intervene for me.

I just need Jesus.  He loves me as I am, and He paid the ransom.

And there have been other years when I've been blown away by the abounding LOVE He has for me.

A lot has happened since we last celebrated Easter to set the tone for this year's Easter season.  Three events stand out.

First there was Jeremiah.

Then there was Olivia Kate.

Then there was Major.

These three have left me battered and bruised and I don't know whether I will ever completely heal.  Here on earth, it is very sad.  I see these three families with a missing piece to their puzzle.  And I've asked, "why?" a lot.

Within the last couple of weeks, the word "eternal" has slowly been impressed upon my heart.

It is something I have known throughout these 20 years, but I have not had to live through events that really allowed this truth to sink in.  Going to heaven when we die to spend eternity with our holy God... yes that is the promise that Christ's unjust punishment and resurrection brings me.

But it has suddenly dawned on me....

We are created for eternity.

We are not created for this world. 

These babies who have left us too soon by our human standards have been translated from death to life because of Christ.   Jesus has destroyed death and has brought us forgiveness of sins and life everlasting.

Hebrews 2:14
"Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death - that is, the devil."

If death is the last enemy, then the last enemy has been destroyed!  I need to change in order to accommodate this line of thinking, and this change can only come through His grace in His great love for me.  Thus, a very rich meaning is given to my life as I approach God continuously, and ever more intimately.

And I will remember - in the end what I should live for is not for just another day here, but for that very day there.

Life eternal.

Isaiah 53:5-8
     "But he was wounded and crushed for our sins.  He was beaten that we might have peace.  He was whipped and we were healed!  All of us have strayed away like sheep.  We have left God's paths to follow our own.  Yet the Lord laid on him the guilt and sins of us all.
     He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word.  He was led as a lamb to the slaughter.  And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth.  From prison and trial they led him away to his death.  But who among the people realized that he was dying for their sins - that he was suffering their punishment?"

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

(not completely) wordless wednesday

Our house is at nearly 7000 feet above sea level.  That means that we are generally about ten degrees cooler than our neighboring city in the valley (about 3000 feet lower in elevation).

We had temperatures in the mid fifties yesterday up here at our house.  So, after a family snow ball war (didn't get any pictures of that, but trust me, Mom and Dad won), we packed into the car and went down to our favorite park in the valley to enjoy truly warm weather.

Baseball season is coming...  so we had some of this...

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Unfortunately, we also had some of this...

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But this made up for it...

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P.S.  It's snowing again today.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

when Irish eyes are smiling they're usually up to something

Have you noticed the countdown going on in the sidebar on the right?

Today it says 18 days... yikes!

Lest you think we are filthy rich completely insane, we are not taking a family vacation to Ireland.

It's better than that.

My beloved and I are venturing overseas alone.

What?  How?  Why?  Or most importantly, who will be with the boy brood?

Well, hubby is finally finishing his MBA after a long two years and a lot of hard work and dedication on his part (and a lot of cheerleading and proofreading on my part).  One of the requirements of his program is to go on one of the international business trips offered by the college.

And they graciously leave a few spots for spouses to come along.

Guess who got a spot?  Yup.  Me.

We have some great friends here in our little ski town who are going to love on our boys while we are exploring Dublin for seven days and London for three.

Ashley will bring our Hunter into her fold of eight kids.  He will be milking goats and building igloos and identifying animal scat and forget we ever left.

Christa will go from her single sweet little two year old son to a full house with our Sauce, Rufus and Squirt.

Kate and Todd will be spoiling our dog Jack for the time, as well.

Our accommodations will be nicer hotels than we have ever stayed in together.  I wasn't expecting youth hostels or city missions, but I was very surprised to see the high end hotels where we will be staying.

This is a business school trip, so there will be work to do - like visiting Guinness and Mini Cooper (ho hum), but there will also be a tremendous amount of free time and plenty of tours of museums and cathedrals and "touristy sites."

Lots of dinners on our own, nights at the pubs and did I mention no kids?

Hubby suggested that we might want to spend some of our free time just catching up on lost sleep from the last eight years.

I'm up for that!

Friday, April 3, 2009

the time of year I could skip

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Ten months out of the year I love where we live.  I would be very sad if we had to move from our town, our neighborhood, or our house.

March and April are the outlaws.  I am done with winter.  I'm done with snow.   I'm even done with skiing (the men in this house are not, however).

I'm done with snow tires and using the snow blower.  I'm done with icicles and I'm done with high heating bills.  I'm done with snow boots and winter coats.

As a result, I have gone into survival mode.  Hubby is out of town from Monday through Friday this week and I am anxious for some time out of the house...

by myself....

with my winter coat on, of course.

As I'm sure all ten of you have noticed, I've been ignoring the dishes the laundry the vacuuming the children my blog.  Night time comes and you'll find me in the fetal position zoned out on the couch (with blankets over me, of course, because it is still WINTER!!!).

There have been plenty of bloggable moments going on around here, but I just have not mustered the energy to write about them.

Like just this morning when I accidentally swung a gallon of apple juice off a lower shelf of the fridge and smacked Squirt square in the face with it... yes, his mom gave him his very first bloody nose.

Mother of the year, I tell ya!

There have been birthdays and ski races and did I mention snow?

I'm turning the corner though.  So expect my next post to be a bunch of random bloggy thoughts.

You missed me, didn' cha?

About Me

My photo
Messy and wonderful perfectly describes my life as a wife and mom of five. I'm passionate about advocating for orphans by telling their stories and encouraging adoption and orphan care. My schedule is messy and wonderful as I am charged with four sons and one daughter. We love living in our little mountain ski town. We do a little camping, a little skiing, a little hunting, and a lot of laughing and loving. Life is dirty and loud around here but we wouldn't want it any other way. Okay, maybe a little less dirty!

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