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! :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Sweet Home Alabama


Even though Alabama is not really home to either one of us, it's still good to be back here and with family!  We'll be in Alabama for the next two months!

Enjoying time with long lost cousins!
Also enjoying a football game in the fall!  I love how Kiryn looks like she's ready for snow, and Luke, for the beach! :) 



We're also enjoying bubbles bath tubs!!!  It's the little things about being home. :) 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Art!

I try to take pictures of most of the things the kids draw or create.  For Christmas last year we got them each an Ed Emberley drawing book.  They have created some of the cutest things with those!  I think these pieces might be frame-worthy! : )

Check our Ed Emberley's books here!