Monday, September 28, 2009

Soccer...and true love

Jonah had his first soccer game last week! He has been wanting to play soccer for two years now and even practiced with Henry's team the last two seasons, but he wasn't old enough to officially play until this season. In the picture below, Jonah is the blonde in the red shirt with the look of pure joy spread across his face. :) Jonah did great. It was everything he hoped it would be...well, except for the fact that everyone didn't get to have their own ball in the game (you know, like in practice!).
There was one little mix-up. Jonah's team was scheduled for pictures at 8:00a.m. Saturday morning, an hour before his game was to start. Who wants to get their whole family up and to the park by 8 o'clock in the morning?!?!?!? Not me. Sam was working, so it was up to me to get all three kids up, fed, dressed and to the park on time.

We made it.
The photographer didn't.
They cancelled, but didn't bother telling anyone. They left a note at the park which we found once we got there. The entire team was there...all nine kids, parents and siblings...and we all were a little unhappy about the situation. After listening to the griping a bit, I suggested, "Hey guys, why don't we just take our own team pictures and cancel the photographer when they try to re-schedule?" There was a little laughter at first, but then one of the other moms pulled out a know, a REAL camera, and the laughter stopped.
So we had our own photo shoot. It was pretty fun and it was a great way to fill the hour we had to kill before the other team showed up to play! :)
This is my best shot, but the photographer/mom who took all the pics for us got some great ones and she even took the time to do individual portraits. Saved us all a lot of money too!
Here are the boys in their uniforms after the game. Bridget wanted to be in the picture too....she definitely doesn't understand why she can't play yet!

Here's Henry throwing the ball in. It was the best shot I could get! :)

Henry moved up to an older league this year and it is so fun to watch. They are learning a lot more about the game and they actually play positions now instead of just following the ball around in a herd. In the younger league the coaches stand on the field and direct the kids all the time, but in this league the coaches aren't allowed on the field. So the kids really are figuring out what they need to do. Henry's team is the youngest in his league, but they are all pretty athletic little kids so I think they'll hold their own this year.

I couldn't post about soccer without one last picture....of Henry and his one true love, Isabella.
Those who know Henry know that his infatuation love for Bella started waaaaaay back in pre-school. As you can see, it hasn't diminished any in two years. He just adores her. :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Don't we look better now? Vacation helped! :)

Aruba was a wonderful vacation. It was so nice to get away without our kids. We missed them, of course, but it really helped to know that they were having so much fun at home with Ingrid!

I suppose to start at the beginning, I should say that Sam and I celebrated our ten year anniversary back in July. Last year we decided that we would do something big this year. Sam has done a lot of traveling with work over the last three years and has accumulated a HUGE amount of frequent flyer miles with American Airlines. So Sam told me we could take a trip ANYWHERE in the world--we had enough miles to cover round trip tickets wherever I chose.

The pressure was on...this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! I looked into a number of different locations...high on my list were Australia/New Zealand, Italy (and the rest of Europe!), and Zambia. I finally settled on Fiji, as it seemed like a beautiful and relaxing sort of place. Then I found out that not only does American Airlines not fly there, we could not afford the hotel prices there! A lot of the locations I looked into were going to be fairly expensive once we arrived. So we prayed about it a bit more and just decided to wait until the right thing came along.

Earlier this year Sam and I were at the mall together. This was unique in itself, since we very rarely go to the mall at all and even more rarely do we go together. A man running a booth stopped us and asked if we'd like to earn some free waterpark tickets. Sam kept walking, but I stopped to listen. I had been wanting to take the kids to this fun new indoor waterpark, but the tickets are $19.95 each--WAY out of my price range! It turned out to be a time-share presentation. They offered us a $40 american express card, six free waterpark tickets, and I don't even remember what else, so I signed us up.

The next week we sat through the (tortuously loooooong) time-share presentation and had no problem saying 'no' at the end. When we went in to receive our prizes, the woman handed over the things we knew we were getting and also a scratch-off game card. We weren't instant winners, but we still were given a certificate for a free hotel stay in our choice of locations (Aruba, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, or Jamaica).
So that is how the trip to Aruba started in the first place. I had to look it up on a map since I didn't really know where it was (to save you the trouble, it's in the Caribbean just off the coast of Venezuela!) but it sounded great...a mostly free vacation! Of course we still had to pay for food and some other travel expenses, but overall it was a very inexpensive trip.
In some ways Aruba is a really beautiful island (the beaches are amazing!) and in some ways it isn't very pretty at all. When you get away from the beach it is a really barren, desert landscape (cactus and lizards everywhere!).

We did a lot of different things while we were there. We spent time at the beach and the pool, just reading books and soaking up the sunshine. I had the genious idea to wear a two-piece swimsuit after a few years hiatus. Also forgot sunscreen one day. That resulted in my tummy looking like this: (and it is STILL peeling!)

One day we rented a jeep to go and discover the treasures on the uninhabited side of the island. We found the rocky shore and the natural bridge, which was very beautiful but full of trash. On the other side of the bridge water pools up and there is a little canyon dug out of the rocks. It was completely full of garbage that washes up out of the ocean. Kind of strange in such a pretty place.

The driving was rocky and bumpy but not really too bad until we got to the trailhead for the natural pool. At that point there is a sign that says 4 x 4 is REQUIRED and not to venture on without it. We soon found out why! The roads were steep and full of huge rocks that Sam had to manuver over or around. There were also cactus everywhere and we ended up with a flat tire before we were done. :)

It was so worth it to make the drive though. The natural pool was our favorite place on the island. It is right on the shore and there are great big rocks that form a circle. Waves crash up over them and then the water trickles down into the pool. The pool itself is perfectly calm and about 50-60 feet deep. We snorkled around and saw some beautiful fish in there and then climbed up on the big rocks and did some cliff diving. We had the pool to ourselves a while and then there were other groups there with us. Everyone was incredibly friendly. There were even two Aruban men 'working' there to make sure nobody gets hurt in that area. One of them told me that they sometimes have to call in helicopters to air-lift out people who get stupid on those rocks!

We took the bus into town a few times and walked around. The downtown area is very touristy and set up mainly for the cruise ships which port there. Lots of jewelry stores and souvenir shops. One night we went on a sunset cruise and got to see Aruba from the water. It was beautiful and we enjoyed being out on the ocean. We saw FOUR weddings taking place on different spots along the shore! The sunset wasn't spectacular as it was fairly cloudy that night, but it was still very pretty.

Our last full day on the island we took a trip to de Palm island. It's owned by one of the tourism companies on the island and it's just a tiny little island five minutes off the coast of Aruba. (The picture below was taken from the dock looking out toward de Palm.) Once you are on the island, everything is included. They have a restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch, a 'snack bar' that serves hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken nuggets and fries whenever you want 'em, an open bar, snorkeling equipment, a waterpark that our kids would have loved (and we made sure to use, just for them!), beach volleyball, soccer and all sorts of empty white-sand beaches. That was a pretty fun day. Very relaxing and fun. The snorkeling off the island was beautiful. We saw these huge blue parrot fish and lots of others. It was an amazing vacation. We haven't had any time away from our kids (besides date nights) in over three years, so it gave us a chance to talk and just enjoy each other's company. My favorite part may have been the airplane rides. I have flown quite a bit with my kids, but haven't flown without them in over six years. It was pretty fun to just nap when I felt like it, read my own books, and not have to carry anyone. :)

Now that I'm all refreshed and relaxed, it's back to reality! Sam was home from Aruba for just a few days before he had to leave to help with a retreat at work. He was gone from Wednesday to Sunday, so it's been just me and the kids getting back into a routine around here.

It's good to be home! :)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

We're Home!

Sam and I are back from Aruba and we had a wonderful and relaxing time. Our kids had a great time with their substitute-stay-at-home-mom but were also very glad to see us. I'll try to post some more pictures and stories soon, but this is going to be a busy week and I make no promises! There are some on facebook for anyone who knows me there. :)

Saturday, September 05, 2009 we come!!!

Does it look like we need a vacation?

We think so too.

Sam and I are headed to our 10 year anniversary Aruba! Our great friend Ingrid is staying with the kids while we play in the ocean and catch some sun by the pool. We're hoping the kids have so much fun that they won't even miss us...but we would still appreciate your prayers on their behalf. :)

See y'all in a week!