Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Funny Story...

I know I haven't blogged in forever, and I WILL catch up one day.  But I just had to sit down and write this before I forget it. Because I don't want to forget it. : )

Since we've been back in the US, Luke has enjoyed playing with big boys his age.  This has been great, but also a challenge as it has introduced a host of new things into our life, like armpit farts, certain vocabulary and themes of discussion that we are not used to. : )

So recently, Luke and Kiryn were working on a school project together.  Kiryn got the answer before he did, and he said a swear word I KNOW he's never heard in our house.  My eyes must have bugged, because he immediately started apologizing.  I asked him where he heard it. He was a little evasive, but finally named the person he'd heard say it.  We had a long talk about what kind of speech that is (UNWHOLESOME!) and why we don't use words like that.  And how now that he knows that, if he uses it again, it will bring on a punishment.

As the morning wore on, I probed a bit as to what circumstances this word was uttered in the first place.  It turns out they were playing a game to "say the baddest word they know."  This was the "baddest" word one particular boy knew.

Just out of curiosity, I said, "Luke, what was the baddest word you were going to say?"

Shifting his eyes, he said, "Well.... I don't think you're gonna like it."

"Please tell me anyway."

"Well, I was going to say....

stupid hot dog."

Let me remember for ever.  That when Luke was 7 years old, the "baddest" word he knew, was stupid hot dog.  

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Legendary 24 Hour Preedy-Roepnack Slumber Party

I first "met" Missy Roepnack in August of 2011.  She and her husband, also Paul, were in the process of adopting through the same agency as us.  We both got our referrals on the same day, and through the family Yahoo group, I found her blog, and saw some sweet pictures of them seeing their referrals for the first time.  I kind of liked her immediately.

Over the next six months, we found a friend in each other.  Things were not going well for either of us in the latter halves of our adoptions, and we bonded over woes with the agency.  I can't really explain it other than to say that God just blessed us with a deep friendship by constant email and Skype communication.  There's really no other explanation.

I was excited to get the chance to meet Missy. I'd never done anything like this before: made a friend on the internet, and gone to meet them in real life.  What is she was crazy? Well, she is.  And I love her! : )

Our family made the long drive up to their home, and spend the night at their house.  It was like we'd known each other our whole lives!  Our kids got along great, and we stayed up waaaay too late, talking in person, because WE COULD!!

The most hilarious thing that happened was Levi sleep walking in the middle of the night!  He apparently wandered upstairs into bed with Missy and Paul!  When they realized it was not one of their children, Missy snuck him back downstairs into our room onto his bed.  That kid is hilarious...

I'm so thankful for this time with Missy and Paul, and to get to know their sweet kids.  We'd seen so many pictures, and held each others children in our absences in the care center.  We'd shared so many words, but never face time.  These 24 hours were such a gift from a loving Father!

She really is super mom!  


I hope these two are friends as they grow!




This is "Why did we stay up until 1 a.m. when we have eight kids in the house?"

Getting a ride on George.  George is a good sport. :) 

Awesome grilled meat for dinner.  A real treat for us living in a mostly - vegetarian country!



Is it meant to be? :)


We flipped til I couldn't flip anymore!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween in America!

Since we've been overseas since our oldest children were small babies, none of our kids have gotten to participate in the American halloween.  I grew up going trick-or-treating in our neighborhood, I think I was even a witch one year.  I'm no worse for the wear.  I have such fond memories of dressing up and going and seeing all the neighbors that we knew, because back then we knew them all.  They were all eager to see what we were dressed as, and happy to give us candy, because they knew us.

There may be many valid reasons not to participate in Halloween, but as a mom who has fond memories of it as a child, and who's children have never gotten the opportunity to have a costume, we were really excited for our kids to go trick-or-treating this year, or at least once in their life.

We had so much fun planning and figuring out who would dress as what!  Levi is really into the Franklin cartoons, and so that was our biggest chore: putting together a homemade Franklin costume.  I love doing things like this as parents because it creates memories for us. "Remember when we glued that foam together and spray painted it and convinced him it was a turtle shell?? He loved it!" Such great memories!!!


Our first stop was at the local Publix. There were stations set up for fishing and cookie decorating.  All free! The kids loved this!


Levi as Franklin the Turtle

The back of the turtle shell.


Kiryn got a store bought Super Girl costume, and she loved it...


Luke wore his birthday present and went as the Hulk.  This was creepy. 

Oh, I looked so hard for a lamb suit for Meryn.  I just thought the white wool would be so adorable with her precious black face!  But I couldn't find one anywhere.  So she had to settle for skeleton pajamas...  an opportunity lost. :(

They got to go trick-or-treating with their cousin, Kaden, also known as the black ninja.  

We had a great time carving pumpkins too!


I don't know when we'll get to celebrate fall and all is fun in the US again, but it was a lot of fun this year to be here for this season!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Marense Reunion 2012

Once upon a time, there were a bunch of college grads who wanted to have an adventure.  None of them knew each other, and they were from all over the United States, but somehow, they all ended up living in Burkina Faso, West Africa for two years in the prime of their life.  It was hard.  It was good. They were stretched, and they grew, and they bonded like only sleeping under the stars and "going to the hill" to poo, and drinking ground water can bond people.

Thirteen years later, these young ones have gone forth and multiplied.  Many are married, and since most spouses had never been met, and eyes had never been laid on the plethora of children, it was time for a reunion.

A cabin in the hills of Tennessee was rented (well, two cabins to be precise).  We drove and flew, again, from all over the United States to spend a blissful 48 hours together.  It was loud, and crazy, and there was mini-golf in the basement.

There was African tea, stories of days long past, rice and sauce, homemade breakfasts, children laughing, meals shared, crafts, leaves thrown and long walks together, late nights talking until we were so tired... we're not as young as we used to be.  God is good and gave us the joy of being together, all of us, for the first time.  I'm thankful I was able to be a part of this, as one of the spouses who married into this awesome mess.

 A few of the first borns





*Some* of the children


African tea...

Togetherness...

New friends....

African food....


Memories made.

Some of the one year olds. 



How blessed we are to have been together!  

Wilson Fun


We have some good friends.  They are the Wilsons.  Our relationship has been through lots of difficult seasons in each of our lives, and through lots of joyous ones.  Paul met Cory and Jasmine when he was living in West Africa.  They met there too. : )  While we were talking and "dating" between Thailand and West Africa, they were doing the same there.  We all returned to the states within a year of each other.  Paul and I got married in November 2003, they got married two weeks after us.  We went to their wedding on our honeymoon. : )  Their first son was born the end of July, ours was born the beginning of September, just about 6 weeks apart.  Luke and Malachi spent a lot of time together their first year while their daddies were in graduate school together.  We lived in the same town and went through two pregnancies with each other: our daughters were born the same week!  Kiryn's first outing in a car was to go see Karis in the hospital, three days after Kiryn was born.  : )  

It's always such a joy and blessing to get to spend time with the Wilsons.  They are the kind of friends that are kindred spirits, hearts are joined, and you can just pick up where you left off.  Maybe it's common experiences of life overseas, parenting, faith... or maybe it's just a good gift from a loving Father.  Whatever it is, friends are good and good friends are great!  

We were so blessed that the Wilsons made the trek from Ohio to Alabama to see us (and attend a wedding). :)  They had another trip to the area just another week later for our Marense Team Reunion, which will be my next post! : )  So, we took advantage of the opportunity and began what I hope will be a tradition:  The Great Kid Swap of 2012.  Malachi stayed with us for a week, while we sent Kiryn to stay with Karis in Ohio for the week.  It was so exciting getting ready for it and planning everything. I admit though, I was a bit nervous to send my little Kiryn off on a cross-country road trip with me.  She did great, though, and really enjoyed her time with Karis.  All four kids bonded and made great memories, and we hope to foster their friendship from the other side of the world through Skype, and more kid swaps in the future. : )  

Four became eleven. : )  We didn't have enough swings. 

The boys got to go bowling together!


Chi got a turkey!

Silly boys!


Girls at the park!

Girls: after getting into my eyeliner and actually doing something cute and constructive with it. : ) 



One of my favorite pictures of Kiryn of all time. 


Tree house time...

Kissy love...

Ok, now where are moms and dads gonna sit???


Girls on a hot chocolate and cookie date. This looks like SO much fun....




They look so grown up....


Here's to friends for life! :)