Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cousins!


This is one of the hardest parts about living a life overseas.  Coming home to the United States and meeting two nieces you'd never seen.  Having kids who can't remember all their cousins names, no matter how much you try.  But, those names come quickly with time spent together.  I'm so thankful we got to spend quite a bit of time with my brother, his wife, and their five awesome kids.  This month, we go to go up to Omaha, where they live, for a whole weekend and do life with them! Nine kids under one roof was pretty crazy! But lots of fun memories were made.  The highlight of the weekend was a visit to the Omaha Zoo, and celebrating Emma's second birthday!


Little Miss Emma!  I made her the crown for her birthday!





Almost all the kids inside this bubble.  What a cool feature!

Grace, Aubrey, and Kiryn


All the oldest kids: Aubrey, Caleb, Luke, Grace, and Kiryn (and a stranger on the bottom right?)

A very rare occurrence:  8 of the 9 kids (little Lillian was too small to climb on the backs of the gorillas). Aubrey, Grace, Emma, Caleb, meryn Kiryn, Levi, Luke.

Digging for Fossils!

Meryn loved this.  And we found these bits of rubber in *every* crevice imaginable later.

Kiryn, my animal lover, was in love with this goat. In love. 

Levin, on the other hand, was afraid for his life.  

We are so thankful to Ryan and Ashley for hosting us and putting up with all the kids under one roof!  It was a time our kids will cherish for a long time!  Being home is gooood. : )

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Life in Kansas

I've been dabbling with crocheting for the last few months, and I've been anxious to get back to the US to have access to more supplies! I've pinned tons of little patterns I wanted to try! This was the first one I attempted, and I'm so pleased with how it turned out!  I'll be making more of these in the coming months as gifts for friends and family!


The house we're staying in is really nice, and we've been enjoying it's huge back yard and swing set.  We have bunnies living in the backyard that the kids love watching.  There is no cable in the house, so we've been taking advantage of a new thing called Red Box. : ) There's a shopping area not far from our house, so occasionally, one of us will go out for an evening run after we get the kids in bed and come home with a red box movie.  We're trying to get caught up on things like that that we've missed over the last two years!  This hat was whipped up during a few nights of moving watching with my man.  I love it! :)  

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

State Fair!

One of the great things about being back in the US is getting to experience all the cultural things we did while we were growing up.  We didn't go to the state fair every year, but I do remember going several times when I was a kid.  We just happened to be in Kansas the week that the Kansas State Fair was happening!  So we were so excited to take the kids to see what it was all about.

We didn't get too many pictures, because it was raining most of the day.  But we started out at the livestock halls.  We saw all varieties of pigs, goats, sheep, and watched a few of the judging rounds where groups were inspected and competed.  We got up close and personal with some of the goats, and one of the owners allowed Luke to try and milk a goat. : )  He sure did get some milk to squirt out strongly, but his aim was off... he missed the bucket and shot his sister!  We all had a great laugh about that for awhile!  : )

We also got to see all kinds of chickens, hens, roosters, and rabbits.  I think the rabbits were our favorite part.  We saw all varieties of turkeys, and we saw a pig race!  There was arts and crafts room set up, and the kids spent a good chunk of time in there building rocket ships from all kinds of materials they had available.

And, of course, one of the best things about the state fair is.... the food.  We all enjoyed things like corn dogs, frito chili pie, and burgers, as well as fried pickles!  It was a great day!  Especially since we stopped in Yoder and got some famous Yoder cinnamon rolls for breakfast on the way! : )

Lots of fun memories being made! : )

Meryn's first corn dog! Big hit....


Luke and Kiryn's first sack cloth slide.  Whoa.  They loved this.  We would have loved to let them go down again and again, but it was $3 per slide per person.  WHAT in the WORLD?!?! 

Levi got to go down on Dad's lap, and Luke and Kiryn excitedly greet him at the bottom to share in the awesomeness of the slide. : ) 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Luke Turns Seven!

We are so excited to be in America for the celebration of Luke's birthday this year! I don't think he's had a birthday in the US since he turned one.  Let's see...

1st Birthday: Mesa, AZ
2nd Birthday: Ajmer, India
3rd Birthday: Delhi, India
4th-5th-6th: Jaipur, India

Yep, not since he was one.  : )  So, we wanted to do it up right.

In the past year, Luke has really gotten into Legos.  But he only has one or two sets.  So we thought it would be fun to travel to Kansas City and go to Legoland!  Both sets of grandparents joined us too, which made it even more fun!

My big seven year old!  He was up and at 'em early on his birthday!  He opened his gifts from us before we piled in the car and hit the road for Kansas City.  He got all things baseball!



When we got to Kansas City and checked into the hotel, he opened gifts from grandparents!  He got an Incredible Hulk suit.  It was ridiculously realistic, and scared the tar out of all of us. 


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We decided to have lunch at the Crayola Cafe in Crowne Plaza, right across from Legoland.  Big ice cream sundae for the birthday boy! 


The whole crew at Crayola Cafe!

Upon arrival at Legoland, Meryn headed for the brick play area, and pretty much stayed there. : ) 

Papa and Levi spent a lot of time racing cars they built on this ramp.

Kiryn was happy to find some pink and purple legos. 

One of the staff helped her build this awesome car!

They had this area where teams could compete to build the tallest, strongest sky scrapers from Legos.  When everyone was finished, they made the table vibrate to see which tower would stand the test.  

The staff here was incredible! They were so friendly, and helpful, and genuinely wanted to make sure all the kids had a great time!

Here's Luke getting a little extra help to make his sky scraper the tallest...

Almost done, and getting ready for the shaking!  All the four towers crumbled, but our boys was the tallest after all the shaking was done! It lost the fewest pieces!

A motorcycle built of Legos.

 
They had this huge softplay area!  It was great to let the kids go run around in there and burn some energy, and give us a break! It's a bit grainy, but that's Kiryn swinging on rope!

I found this shirt at a garage sale when Kiryn was a baby.  Love it when my girls wear their "itty bitty baptist" shirt. : ) 

We had such a great day at Legoland!  Luke was able to convince his Grandma to buy him two Lego sets at the obligatory tour through the store after the museum.  He got a Creator set of a beach house, and a City set of a spaceship.  Lots of hours of fun ahead. 

Since we were in Kansas City, we couldn't leave without going to.....

Worlds of FUN!!!

I grew up going to this amusement park nearly every summer!  I was so excited to take the kids there.  We had a great time!
First up, the Carousel!


Meryn with her Grandma!  Love their smiles!

Luke and Kiryn on the kid roller coaster. I think Levi's there too, in the front of car number 5.

At Snoopyland!

Levi wanted to do this ride over and over and over....

The kids had such a great time!  We didn't get very many pictures, we were too busy riding rides!  Luke got to ride his first ever big roller coaster with us! That was awesome to experience with him!  The thrill of the ride the first time was just so much fun!  Kiryn, unfortunately, was not quite tall enough to go on the big rides.  Next time, baby girl! : )




Saturday, September 8, 2012

Meryn is Officially Adopted!


Our first order of business on arriving in the US is to get all of Meryn's paperwork in order.  Our end goal is a US passport, US Certificate of Citizenship, and a visa to India in that US passport.  The first step to getting those things is to register her adoption with our home state, Kansas.  We also want to legally change her name from what it is on her Ethiopian passport and current paperwork.  Currently, her legal name is Helen Paul Preedy.  When Meryn was found outside the orphanage in the small town in Ethiopia, someone decided to call her Helen for paperwork purposes.  We're not sure who that was.  Since there is nothing known of her family, and we're pretty confidence this is a randomly chosen name by someone who did not know her, we've decided to change her name to Meryn.  "Meron" is an Ethiopian name which means various things.  It can mean crimson.  It can mean "a gift from God." It can also refer to a name of an oil used in Ethiopian Orthodox worship services.  We especially love the "gift from God" connotation.  We have always wanted a name that is Ethiopian for her, but many of them are long and very difficul tot pronounce.  So we loved Meron when we read it.  We simply changed the spelling to make it a bit more feminine.  We will also keep a variation of Helen as her middle name, and call her Helena.  It is now all finished, and we are happy to present: 

Meryn Helena Preedy!



The judge we had was simply awesome.  He was so kind and lively, full of personality.  He asked the kids to come into the courtroom, let them sit in his chair, pound the gavel, and told them official sounding things to say into the microphone. They had a great time, and he made the whole experience lighthearted and fun.  He's a granddad, and just seemed like he loved being around kids.  As we were leaving, others were coming into the courtroom, arms full of documents and files, looking professional in suits and ties.  We thanked him profusely for giving us so much of his time, and allowing the kids to experience a real court room.  He whispered back, "Hey, this is a whole lot more fun than what I'm about to do!" nodding his head in the direction of the others entering the room.  We're glad we could brighten up his day too! : ) 


Saturday, September 1, 2012

London!

We had the BEST day in London!  We were pretty tired, but the kids did great, and we got to see just as much as we wanted to see...  London is a great city and easy to get around, even with four kids!

2 a.m. in the Delhi airport.

6 a.m. in the London airport.  Delirious silliness.

Working activity books I printed before we left about all the sights of London


Of course, it was raining.

At least for a few minutes.  Long enough to buy ponchos and get them on, and then not need them again. : ) 

Exploring with the kids guide book provided by the Tower of London

Our Practicing Princess

Our Apprentice Knight

William the Conquerors bedroom (I think!)

The throne room!





The toilet. : ) 

A dragon made from items in the armory=awesome

The Tower was really interactive for the kids and we had a great time. 


They had a fun time watching this guard march up and down with his straight legs. 

It felt so good to finally sit down... we'd been walking all. day. long. 

And, you have to have a picture of them at a tube stop. : ) 

So thankful we got to have this day and experience for the kids.  It was such a fun time, though exhausting.  One of the highlights came when we were trying to leave our luggage at the airport so we didn't have to tote it around all day.  It was a bit expensive, so I was talking to the employee, trying to figure out a way to attach the car seats to the suitcases and only be charged for one piece, etc.  They said they could not do that.  But a few seconds later, he offered to wrap the kids three small suitcases to the two car seats stacked together, reducing five piece into one.  Major savings!  The best part was, the employees both spoke Hindi, and the one who helped us, said to the other (in Hindi), "I don't feel right in my spirit charging them for all these."  We are always blown away by the Lord and how he is the God of the details. : )