Sunday, July 25, 2010

Strange Toy Sightings??

It's a good thing I have a camera handy. When I walk into the playroom some times, I'll see things the boys did with their toys, and I will just marvel.

I'm not sure, but I think
Batman is having a sleepover??
(This is a toy egg carton
with Aunt Meghan's hand sewn bean bags.)

And the blue power ranger gets a home built by master architect, Micah. You have to appreciate that this house has interior design, as it comes with flowers and flames at each entrance of the main door. There's a car parked outside for an easy getaway.

Maybe the power ranger got naughty and was about be drawn and quartered by our beloved nay horsie. He's neatly suffering.

I ask Caelan one morning where his "blank" (blanket) was and here's what I find. He took my hand and led me to his prized blankie, and all his animals are tucked cozily underneath it. "Nap", he says. How sweet!

One day Micah's red elephant had its trunk in the hose of our vaccuum cleaner. I asked Micah what red elephant was doing and he said that he was visiting family. Hmh, not sure....I love their creativity, and their tender hearts. Their toys either feel love or torture, but it's very imaginative, either way.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Welcome Home!!!

After seven months away, my brother's family has come home! Yay!! A rather long story, but they left in January to live in Oxford, England to be closer to Halys's ailing father. During that time, my brother lost his job in the U.S. (the one he could work internationally) and then got even a better job, with the prerequisite that he relocate home. So, they are back in their house!

Grandma couldn't wait to get
her hands on her only grand daughter, Lily.
It was a very sweet reunion.

The cousins were together again.
My nephews and niece all
came back with a Brit'ish accent!

And they immediately joined forces
to battle their Uncle Sonny!

Wow, did they miss him.
It's crazy how much they've grown
in seven months.

They've got a lot of unpacking to do, and just settling back into the swing of things. Luca will be starting school with all his old friends in the fall. He's excited about that. For Micah and Caelan, they could not contain their excitement, we're all so glad they're home again!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Reston Petting Zoo

The perfect little zoo about 15 minutes away down Route 7 is the Reston Petting Zoo. Filled with animals that you wouldn't think a tiny local petting zoo would have. Exciting animals like....



Even Kangaroos!

All these unique animals, and my kids would rather climb the wired fence. I'm learning one thing - boys will be boys. They like to monkey around.

The zoo allows you to get up close and personal with a lot of the animals. There's milk bottles to feed the lamb and goats, as well as animal feed. Not sure if it's the age, but Caelan definitely seemed much more curious and interested in seeing the animals.

Micah would rather drive the animals
in his new convertible
with Karis, his friend from church.

The park is about 30 acres, a good size zoo, for a lot of hands-on interaction with exotic animals. There's also a free tractor ride through their mini-safari which also holds ostrich, zebra, and antelope. Pony rides are extra cash. There's a picnic area by a lake, too, if you wanted to bring lunch as well. The cost is $12 for adults, $9 for ages 2 and above, and Caelan was free. For what it offers and how close it is -- it's a good deal!

This baby llama is like, "Dude, you're PAYING to see me. Act like I'm worth the money!"

Thursday, July 15, 2010


At the last minute, several of her sneaky friends and I got together last night to throw Jessel a surprise baby shower at my home, on a weeknight! Here's a blurry picture, but it definitely shows how shocked she was!

It was pure joy for us to be so sneaky and plan this rather last-minute shower. Jessel is at 37 weeks! It was also easy to plan this event because all of her wonderful friends helped me make the dinner and dessert!

The theme of the shower was Asian-Inspired. So, the appetizers were sushi, egg rolls, and thai steamed dumplings. The main course was Thai Basil Chicken and the dessert was Mango with Sticky Rice. I had a lot of help in the kitchen! Also, I found cheap, creative, ways to decorate!

I call this: My Zen.
Picture frame (gift from sister-in-law)
with rocks ($1 bag at Michaels) and votive candle.

Free branches outside with silk flower petals ($0.99) that I cut off the flower tips and glue-gunned to the real branches. Add a green bird ($1.99, both from Michaels.) I call this Cambodian Cherry Blossom.

Floating Zen.

One thing I love about Jessel is that she's always introducing her favorite people to her favorite people. She is about connecting people. So, short of one person invited to this event, I already knew everyone. And the one new friend? Well, after meeting Andrean for 30 seconds, I already knew we would be gal pals.

We had fun together on a Girls Night Out, playing games and being quite competitive. Tanya and Silke were neck-in-neck, and here Tanya is calculating exact measurements to the "Guess how big my belly is?" game.

Jessel got the best prize---all her gifts, which were mostly practical. We thought with baby #3, that she would more likely need all the essentials like diaper rash cream and baby tylenol, since she already has a lot of Joey's boy clothing and toys.

So, my gift was all the practical stuff---but travel-size. Since Jessel is the world traveler, I figure it'll be no time at all before she takes baby #3 to a third world country. A creative idea is to find a $1 basket and pack it with wonderful travel sized baby items: Burts Bees travel items, wipes, saline, shampoos, and some diapers to go! Put a bow and a handmade stamped card (save yourself $4 at the store) and they will appreciate it more because it was especially made.

Jessel actually declined my earlier offer to give her a shower, (I felt that way too with my second boy) but as she was getting closer to her due date, Amy and I thought every baby needs to be celebrated so we secretly plotted with Sheli, her sister & Rob, the husband, to make it all come together. Praise God we were able to celebrate the newest miracle to the Newton family, and it also gave Jessel a chance to see everyone before the craziness of the newborn. She really felt blessed, and so did we!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Being with Family - Part Troix

So, no speech -- Micah did not give a patriotic address to all preschoolers, he was just at this awesome park that Brad took us to. They had a lot of cool things that our neighborhood parks don't have like a climbing wall, a roundabout thing, and also this cool digger-thing---can you tell I don't know what they're called?

Brad and Micah were like two peas in a pod. So, for the fourth -- All-American barbecue? Check. Great Fireworks? Check. The third thing was Family. Micah was counting off the days to see Mr. Brad. At home, he would sigh often to himself and blurt out "I miss Mr. Brad..."

Brad played Superheros,
and he got to be Wonder Woman.
Oh, the sacrifices....

Here they are at our nature walk at Chattahoochie River, sort of like our Great Falls. Everywhere that Mr. Brad went, Micah was sure to go.

Brad also took us to the Historical town of Marietta. It was a very quaint town square with little specialty shops all around. In the center, was a beautiful landscaped area that had a gazebo, a miniature train park, a large fountain and a big liberty bell. It's hip to be square.

Marietta offers history, including the Civil War, slaves, and the railroad station that started the town booming.

Later that night, we had dinner at a yummy Mexican Restaurant. It was outdoor seating so the boys ran around, which was so great for us to have meaningful conversations.

Actually, the boys did great in general. They slept through the night every night, napped every day and with no toys in sight, they were so well-behaved at the Bendeck home. The car ride both to and from (a total of 25 hours) was pleasant---and it even included a stopover to my Alma Mater, Virginia Tech. On our way home, I showed Patrick and the boys where I lived on campus and all the great memories I had of this place. It's been 15 years since I was here on graduation day. Geez, am I old.

It was a great highlight of the trip: to be taking a photo with my children here. Behind us is the Drill field, where I used to walk to classes with a "skip to my step" because it was here at this school that I met my Savior, Jesus Christ. A joy like I've never known filled me to overflowing ...still to this day.

God is good. What a blessing it was to go to Atanta - wonderful friends and wonderful time with family. I don't want to go for one second without recognizing that all of our good gifts are from above. We live a very charmed, abundant life. We are so grateful to God not so much because of His blessings, but because we have Him. Strip away everything else, and none of it matters but Him. Our joy is complete.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

First Fireworks - Part Deux of Trois in Atlanta

I know you stayed up all night wondering whose cannonball (Matt, Patrick, or Brad's) produced the biggest splash:

It was Matt's - only by a hair, though. We enjoyed the Fourth, spending it at Matt's brother's pool. Matt, who was also best man at our wedding, has been in the small group with Patrick, over a decade ago. Matt married Mellie (short for Melanie) and they live in Roswell, about 10 minutes away.

Someone stayed in the pool until their fingers got pruny.

So, I was looking for the All-American Barbecue. Check! With it, came the best peach and blueberry pie, made by Mellie.

Matt made steaks and cocktails, Brad grilled burgers and hot dogs, and Lindsay made this yummy coleslaw with a spicy kick and some glazed, strawberry- filled cupcakes. Deelish! Anyone who knows that we were going to start our Makers Diet July 1st, started today instead! :) Also, the ideal 4th includes great fireworks. Check, check!

The boys stayed up until 9:30 p.m. and saw their very first fireworks fanfare. Man, are we nice parents or what? Their reactions were priceless. much more to tell you. It looks like I'll have to finish this blog with a third entry. I always like to write a lot, but I realize it can be too much (yes, sorry, I know...can't help it). I'll save it for my last post. Here's a little preview of more to come:

Does Micah give an inspiring, patriotic
speech to the children of Alpharetta?

Are Micah's injuries in Historic Marietta---fatal?
Were there other injuries to the townspeople?

More to come in Part Troix....

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fourth of July in Atlanta -- Part I

I always felt let down as a child on the Fourth of July. Like New Years and Valentines, this holiday had a lot of pressure to have the perfect All-American barbecue with family and fireworks, but ends up being consistently anti-climatic. Not this year. We decided to use our four day weekend +1 day off, to see our friends, Brad and Lindsay Bendeck, who recently moved a year ago to Atlanta.

It took us 12 hours including stops to get there, but with some portable DVD players (thank you friends) and mainly some of THIS, we survived:

Honestly, it wasn't that bad. Only the last hour hurt, when everyone wanted OUT---even mommy. But it was worth the ride when we finally got out.

The Bendecks have an amazing house in Alpharetta, Georgia. Six bedrooms on almost an acre and all for the cost of what we paid for in Lansdowne. Geesh. Caelan and Micah made themselves right at home.

They found places to hide with Sophie, their dog. Tucker, their other dog, stayed downstairs because he didn't take too well to kids.

It was a very American Celebration, as we went to downtown Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park (you remember the bomber dude several years back? It was right here...) Patrick had never been to Atlanta, so we got to see some of the city.

On Sunday, one of the highlights of the trip for me, was that we got to visit Andy Stanley's church, North Point. All I have to say is, WOW. Average weekly attendance: 23,000. It didn't feel that large to me. It was amazing worship, and amazing teaching. Andy Stanley, who was preaching in jeans, was not afraid to teach on controversial topics. He did it with wisdom, grace and truth. I was so impressed!

Double wow for the nursery. They called it Waumba Land and it had theatres, live singers for um...3 year olds. One hall you walked down was this come-to-life Acquarium. It was unreal! I didn't take pictures, but here's one more of how they they kicked off their worship time, in one of their two main auditoriums.

There was a 60-year-old man who was worshiping unashamed and undignified, exactly the way God wants us. It was awesome to watch. I'll tell you more about our Independence Day Celebration in Part II when we get back to Virginia, but here's a little preview:

And the winner of the cannonball (Matt, Patrick or Brad) is....stay tuned to find out!