Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Israel Study Abroad Reunion :)

Needless to say we had a blast.  I find myself thinking of all of them randomly throughout my week.  I even laugh out loud at some memories that will forever go down in history.
"That guy right there? That guy right there in that picture is actually me."

We never went to bed before 4 or 5 am.  We would finish breakfast around 3.  We laughed till it hurt and ate yummy food, made jewelry, went on a Rhino ride, never stopped talking catching up on the last 15 years.

It was a little piece of heaven and it was like no time had passed at all.  I loved these women 15 years ago for their complete goodness, goofy sense of humor, advice, examples, and non-judgemental hearts.   I couldn't ask for better friends.  It actually has been harder to be away from them now because it just renewed and increased our friendships.

We had a lot of girls that we missed as well-don't worry though ladies these reunions aren't going anywhere :)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Life- Happy and Humerous or Heavy and Hard?

I just got home from a trip to CA to be a part of the Heritage Music Festival.  My daughter's choir competed in it and it was so wonderful to be a part of.  When they sang we all got goosebumps and tears in our eyes.  What is it with me and hearing children sing? I could listen all day long.  They were fantastic.

The other bonus of the trip were the ladies I was able to be with.  We had so much fun together.  I love learning from them and picking their brains.  But, what I appreciated so much on this trip was the amount of laughter we shared.  It was like I was suddenly 14 again and laughed until tears were streaming down my face.  So, this post is a tribute to my friend Michelle who is now the person I am paying to accompany me on every trip to ensure I get tighter abs through incessant laughter. 

Those of you who know me know I love to laugh, tease, and play practical jokes on people.  I have mellowed out as I have gotten older, but after being around Michelle for 4 days straight I realized I have really let my game go.  I think it is mostly because I know that a majority of adults don't appreciate my jokes and I am worried that somehow it will go south and I will wish I would have thought through it more carefully... and, I don't ever want to hurt someone's feelings.  I really do worry about that.

So, do you know how great it was to be with someone who I could just let loose on?  Because she can really dish it.   I got her so good.  The whole trip we were all doing things back and forth--they were just dumb little things that made us laugh.  After watching Michelle with all the different people on our trip from the guy she was winking at in the Hillbilly show, to the man at the check out desk at our hotel, to the flight attendant, to all the little girls, the bus driver, the tram driver, etc. she made everyone laugh.  Just a little giggle, but still, she made them forget their boring jobs for minute and smile.  She even went up to this boy who had just ordered a huge ice cream sundae and asked if she could just have a bite to see if she liked it.  The boy just stared at her and then pushed it toward her.  Hysterical.

Anyway, she is not acting or showing off. She just finds the humor in things. She can take a heavy moment and make it light-- a not so ideal situation and make fun of it.  It really reset me this weekend.

Do you know why? Because we think too much.  We as adults analyze too much. We worry too much.  We google too much.  We make such a big deal out of little things.  We read every parenting book on the planet.  We think our life is so hard.  We don't think we get enough time to ourselves.  We don't get enough sleep. Our house is always messy.  The laundry is never done.  There are extended family problems. The carpools never stop.  The baby never stops crying.  We get offended.  We take too long to forgive.  We think it is so hard to be a mom.  We think we are sacrificing so much.

Believe me, these are things that go through my mind.  These are things I hear from others.
BUT, and those are capital letters for a reason, are we acting like the teenagers we are all so worried about?  The ones who feel "entitled" to things?

Do we feel "entitled" to a life with spare time, relationships without issues, clothes that never have to be washed, a baby that sleeps 12 hours every day and never cries, kids who don't fight, 8 hours of sleep no matter what, time to read, time to work -out, time to fulfill our own dreams, kids who are good at sports or music but never need to be driven to their practices, straight A students who never need us to stay up late with them helping with homework?

Are we different from any other generation in time?  Every generation has had their issues.  Pioneer women didn't have to race their kids around all over town but do you think they had spare time?  I'm not thinking there was much time left after washing clothes in a river and hanging them to dry, making all their food from scratch, feeding animals, gardening,  and curling little Emma's hair with pieces of fabric. 

Sometimes I think we all need to just buck up.  Life is work.  We are going to be tired.  We are going to feel spent and out of enthusiasm sometimes.  But, when we are expecting too many rosy days without some thorns here and there-when we imagine in our mind all these things that we want in our family but forget about the 5,000 hours it takes to get there, when we want to have even just one day a certain way and it doesn't happen, then guess what?  We need to just buck up and change our thinking. I think sometimes we feel "entitled" to an easier life than what we have. 

We are all worried about our teenagers, but I think we also need to worry about ourselves becoming too soft as well.

Michelle reminded me that adding that laughter, that silliness, that fun back into every day life really does make you forget about all the stuff that can drive you nuts.

When was the last time you had a really good belly laugh?  I mean a laugh where afterward you had to sit back, stretch your stomach, wipe the tears away and catch your breath.  It is so good for the soul.

So, my new goal is to buck up and add more humor and fun into my everyday life.  I didn't realize how much I thrive on that.  I have always known this, but application is that hardest part sometimes-- we need to stop feeling "entitled" to an easier life and just accept that there are hard and tiring things.  Accept all the different phases of life. Accept that we are all given a certain deck of cards to play with and move on from there.

There are very few people who naturally will never complain, who always look on the bright side, and don't let things get to them.  For the rest of us, we have to train ourselves.  Everyday.  Every situation we have to talk ourselves into ignoring what really doesn't matter and lighten things up.  Please don't think I am not being compassionate-- there are  things that can not be ignored and need to be addressed.  There are terrible tragedies and really, really hard trials, but that is not what I am talking about.  I am talking about the daily life.  The ordinary life.

I am talking about living an everyday life-happy and humor filled instead of hard and heavy.

I would love to hear your thoughts...do parents feel entitled too?  Is it harder in our time to make things light and be happy?


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Eagle Boys Service Group --First Service Project!

 Service Activity number one down!  The boys helped the Treasure Valley Down Syndrome organization with an Easter Egg hunt for the children.  There were over 500 eggs to hide-the kids LOVED it!  They helped hide the eggs and do some setting up for the event.

 It made my heart so happy to see these boys so at ease with these precious children.

 We also brought a couple of different activities to do with the children-there was a bean bag toss, bubbles, balloons, and a great game of kickball.

 The 4H group brought chicks and bunnies for the children to play with.

 This sweet Bailey struck the cutest pose when I took this picture! 

It was a great day.  I was crossing my fingers that everything would work out and it did.  What a great group of boys!!  The parents were all asking who these boys were.  They commented on how good they were with the children and how helpful and polite they were.  You go boys :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"Serve Now, Play Later"

Well, with life as busy as it is, it leaves no time for blogging :)  We find ourselves thinking of our experience hourly.  It really is so hard to get those sweet children out of my mind.  I am constantly thinking about them and missing them.  It is so wonderful to know however, that they are all happy and in good hands.  They could not have better people to love and take care of them.
We have really tried to keep up with our family theme of service this year.  I am realizing more and more that you have to plan for it and schedule it in your week.  Even if you don't know what service you are going to do yet, it is important to block out the time because the service will open up.  There are opportunities literally EVERYWHERE.
We had a young man speak in church a few weeks ago before leaving on his mission.  This young man is one of those kids you can't help but fall in love with.  So naturally happy and good.  Matt hired him and his brother to work  at our house last summer on little projects he needed done.  Matt could have done them himself, but he really wanted these amazing brothers to rub off on our boys.  Sam was to work with one, and Brandon with the other. My kids had to report to them and turn in their hours to them.  I love that Matt thinks outside the box.  I of course was wondering why we were going to spend the money on that when Matt could just do it.  But, Matt with that cute little look he has, said, "Having our boys be around these young men is priceless."  Good role models are so important in life.  Our kids will learn from us, but they need others to mentor them as well.
Anyway, in his farewell speech he said, "I don't know that I would have been able to stay so true to my faith, had the happiness I enjoyed, or made it on my mission unless I had done as much service as I did."
When he said that sirens went off in my mind.  Something just clicked.  That was it.  Service. Service. Service.  That is what made him this incredible kid--happy, selfless, fun, energetic, positive, optimistic, friendly, and faithful.  I immediately knew what I was going to do.
I needed to help Samuel start a service club with his buddies.  I came home and emailed all his friends' mothers to see if this is something they wanted to be a part of.  Every single one of them (except one) not only said yes, but were super excited about it.
Needless to say, the boys grumbled and grumbled about it.  Sam did get some flack at school for my brilliant idea.  We were going to have a kick off party to discuss names and come up with a motto. 14 Boys and their mothers.  I told Sam, "Just give me until friday night.  Let me introduce what we are doing and then you can decide if you want to do this or not."  He just grunted and walked away.
I thought I would not make it until Friday and almost decided to forget it on Thurs. night because of the torment I was receiving from my son which was coming from the kids at school.  Bottom line--moms ecstatic, boys not so excited.
My sweet husband gave me a pep talk, told me to ignore the "background noise" as he calls it, and reminded me that there is always opposition when you are trying to do something good. So I took his advice and prepared for Friday night.
I went online and found some stories on you tube about youth that had made a difference.  We showed them on a projector and talked a little bit about what and why we wanted to do this.  They saw that they could really make a difference in somebody's life.  I asked who was in--I explained very carefully that if they wanted to do this, there would be no more complaining.  They were in or they were out. I told them that this would be something that would bond them together for a very long time.  (I also as a mother knew that if these boys were regularly doing good things together, they were less likely to compromise their standards together.) We also talked about how this was something for THEM to plan.  The moms were not going to plan it and have the boys just show up. They needed to take ownership of it.  They needed to come up with the ideas and make the phone calls, set up appointments, figure out rides etc.  They all said they wanted to do it --it was half hearted, so I made them give me a real shout, full of conviction one more time.  It was great.
After brain storming the boys decided on Sons of Service for the name so they could use the acronym S.O.S. and the motto is "SERVE NOW, PLAY LATER."--which I just LOVE.  We are getting T-shirts made for the boys and little necklaces for the moms.  The idea is that 2 boys and their mothers will take a month and be in charge of the service activity for that month.  That way, most everyone could have a chance twice a year to plan it.
I am so excited.  I also feel SO incredibly blessed to be surrounded by other mothers with such great vision.
I found this great quote "By the time a person has achieved years adequate for choosing a direction, the die is cast and the moment has long since passed which determined the future." -Zelda Fitzgerald

Love that.  So, that is why I am starting now.  Sam called a local group here that is involved with Down Syndrome children.  He wanted to do an activity with them.  They told him they had an Easter Egg Hunt coming up that they needed help with.  BAM!  It was that easy.  So, all the boys are going to fill 500 Easter Eggs, hide them, and help the kids find them.  They are also going to have bunnies there for the kids to play with and we are going to plan a little activity.  They boys were all excited about helping with this event.

I know this group of amazing kids, all from different faiths and backgrounds, will look back at these experiences with a happy heart.  It will mold them into people who are outward looking.  Can hardly wait to check in in four and a half years and see if they were glad we ignored all the grumbling....

Friday, February 11, 2011

Elle's Bunny

My very best friend since I can remember emailed me the sweetest story while we were in Thailand about her daughter Elle.  Amy had been showing Elle and Gwen the pictures of the orphans.  Elle said, "Mom, we need to send them some of our old clothes that we don't wear anymore.  That would really help them."  An hour later Amy heard crying from Elle and Gwen in their room.  She went in there and they were crying because they felt so sad for them.  She told her mom that she wanted to send them her bunny.  This is a bunny that she has had since she was tiny, sleeps with, and is basically her little bit of comfort that she carries with her.  Amy said that somewhere in Elle's little heart she knew that sending them "her old clothes that she didn't wear anymore" was not enough.  She wanted to give something more.  She wanted to give something to them that would give them as much joy as bunny had brought to her.  www.mcgeelife.blogspot.com (you can see the pictures of Elle before she sent it off)
That is the reason right there we are supposed to "become as a little child."  Their hearts are so sincere and giving.  Life has not made them sarcastic, sceptical, judgemental, or selfish yet.  With a few exceptions, children have happy, carefree spirits--love anyone and will forgive a tired mom in an instant.
Just before we left "bunny" arrived.  I was so happy when it arrived!  I wanted so badly for Elle to have a picture with Beam holding her bunny.  I am going to frame the picture and send it to her as a keepsake of her giving heart.

My heart was so heavy as I knew the time was approaching to say goodbye to these children that I wanted so desperately to bring home with me.  Liv and I walked over to Beam and gave her the bunny.  Beam had pure delight in her eyes.  Something just for her.  I know that the love that was behind that bunny landing in her arms was felt by Beam.

Whenever the children get anything they, without even thinking, put their hands together like this and courtsey while they say "sawadeekah" (absolutely not how they spell it, this is just what it sounds like.)  It is my very favorite thing about their culture.

Sweet Elle, thank you for sharing something so dear to you to make someone else happy :)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Returning Home

Do you like how I have not blogged once since I have been home?  My friend nicely pointed that out to me...
But, I do have valid excuses.  We left a week ago and I have not slept more than 2 hours at a time dealing with the children's jet lag.  When you add 4 of the kids having high fevers, croup, and vomiting it is a perfect situation for complete insomnia and not one extra minute for anything-including the 142 loads of laundry waiting for me.  I'm not complaining, just filling you in :) 
I do have so much more to write about Thailand that I did not have time to do there, so keep checking when you get a minute. 
We are all missing the children so much.  We get emails, pictures, and notes on FB from them and it makes me want to hop on a plane immediately!  The whole experience was like a dream. 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Our Goodbye...

Yesterday we had our goodbye dinner with the Home and Life Orphanage.  We drove up to this 
beautiful sight.  How cute is that?  They are seriously THE greatest people I have ever met.  
We went to work finishing painting the toilet area for them.  They were now able to start adding their own personal touches to the walls!

A few spills...

That little Charlotte could never be sidetracked for more than 10 sec.  She was always right back where everybody was wanting to help.  Notice she is painting on the back wall--I covered her drawings with some very large hearts!

After we got cleaned up the face painting began.  This was so fun to watch!

The kids loved it.  We then ate another delicious dinner by Kate.  She is amazing how she cooks for that many people every day.  I wish I could bring home some recipies!

I am going to miss these outdoor dinners so much.  There is something about sharing a meal together.

After dinner we went in for a little party.  We laughed so hard.  Boy had everyone act out this funny little song about bats and chickens and how we were going to get them with something hot.  It was hilarious.

Go Sammy, go Sammy! These 3 are all Sam's!  The one on the left is a volunteer from England.   
(I wanted to add some of the video of this, but the video after my video was not appropriate.  Does anyone know how to download from youtube and not have a video follow it?)

It then turned into a fun dance where everyone broke loose...

They then put a video on.  I thought we were going to watch a little movie, but  Bay had made a video from pictures throughout the last couple of weeks and put it to music.  That is when it all hit me and boy did the tears start rolling.  It is so hard to leave a place with people that you have grown to love so much not knowing when you will ever get to see them again.  I think I am so endeared to them because I want so much to become more like them.  Selfless, happy, content, giving, and full of peace and gratitude.  They all have what is best for the other person at the top of their minds.  This home has the most special feeling to it.

After seeing all of our memories put to music, they then brought this out.
I LOVE THIS!!  It is going to be hung right where we can see it all day long.  It will be a constant reminder of all that we felt and learned here in Thailand. 

It was time to say our goodbyes.  Nobody was looking forward to it. 

Love that Brandon is getting kissed here-so incredibly priceless

Goodbye for now, but I have no doubt we will be back someday.  They will be remembered by us as those who taught us how to really live.  We love you Home and Life!