Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Today, Ollie is 3. This little guy...
has now turned into a thoughtful, curious, funny little boy.

In honor of his 3rd birthday, I asked him some interview questions this morning during breakfast. Here are his responses:

Favorite Food: Blueberry Muffins

Favorite Drink: Blueberry Muffins out of a cup...(not sure where that came from)

Favorite Color: Blue and Yellow

Favorite Song: "Ice, Ice Baby"

Favorite Outdoor Activity: Playing basketball

What do you think of Lily? "She's my tickling tackle buddy!"

What do you think of Daddy? "He's my jumping boy!"

I love watching him learn, play, imagine, and create. Although we NEVER know what he'll say or do next, we're often surprised at what he knows and remembers. And how thoughtful he is. I really hope that's something that characterizes him more and more as he grows.

The other day when we went to Walmart (a day before his birthday party, mind you...) he said, "We should get Lily a toy to play with."

This morning, he hopped into bed with me and asked where Daddy was. When I said that Daddy was at work, he said, "Is he feeling better?" I said, "yeah, I think so." Ollie said, "Yay!"

I'm so thankful for 3 wonderful years with this kid.
And I'm so thankful that God uses these ornery, stubborn, irrational, challenging little people as reminders that He loves ornery, stubborn, irrational, challenging BIG people, too. A whole lot.

Happy Birthday, Ollie!!!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Rockin' It--Worship Style

Ollie has been showing us how to play guitar today. He told us that this is how Adam does it at church. (Ollie's actually only been coming to the singing part at church for a couple months!) Notice the guitar skills, the nod of his head, the bending-of-the-knee...oh, and he says to 'stand up to sing', too! Then he mentioned that this is how Mark does it, too. (from J's church)

He's pretty observant, isn't he!?!? (Well, except for the nose-picking thing...I've never seen Mark do that, and I've only noticed Adam doing it once...)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Our 'Boys'

Remember our trip to Africa? Well, we got home and HAD TO DO something...we couldn't just keep going on as usual. Luckily, we were able to sponsor the two little babies, Newton and North, who had been brought to Eric's House while we were there. When babies there reach the age of 2 1/2 though, they are given back to their families (or whoever is considered a family member--aunts, uncles, etc.). So after a couple years, we were given new babies to sponsor.

We regularly receive emails updating us on Eric's House and the boys we sponsor--this particular email we received was addressed to us, regarding information and pictures of "our kids". If ONLY they really were!!!

Meet Dennis:
Dennis is little--only 5 months old. He is HIV-negative, but apparently being treated for TB. He is a sweet little thing. Ollie prays for him often before a meal, that "we'll get to ride in a plane way up high and go see Dennis." I would love that.

And here's Jonathon.
Jonathon is actually 3 (almost 4) but has a few physical handicaps which at this point don't allow him to walk. Here is what Roy (their 'dad' at the orphanage) wrote:

Jonathan will be four years old in May. He is by far the happiest child we have. He is now able to get around REALLY fast—crawling, and will walk when assisted. So there is some chance of him being able to walk on his own some day. His father took Victoria, his twin, but wants nothing to do with Jonathan. So Jonathan is one of our ‘keepers’.

We sponsored Victoria (his sister) for a couple years, but she was healthy and able to go home. A 'keeper' means that Jonathon will live at Eric's House until he is 18 (or able to live independently).

Zambia really has no active adoption program right now--and yet it has one of, if not THE highest orphan rates in the world. So it's up to orphanages to find and keep these kids. We found out recently that Eric's House has many babies that don't have sponsors--so if you and your family are looking for a way to really make a difference in the life of a little one--we can pass on that information!

For now, we just love to hear more about these guys--don't you just want to hold and cuddle them???

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hay-Rack Ride

What a fun way to spend a cold, dreary Spring Break--having hayrack rides!!! This was all Ollie's idea:
The Driver

The passengers

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Couple's Retreat

The weekend of March 5-6th, several of us married couples spent time in Hesston at the Crosswinds Conference Center. We focused on the study "Sacred Marriage" by Gary Thomas. It was EXCELLENT.

It wasn't your normal marriage retreat. (At least, that's what I heard. I've never actually been to one...) But instead of focusing on the normal things: communication, conflict, in-laws, money, etc.--it focused on God's purpose for marriage. How marriage, if we allow, can transform us to be more like Christ through selflessly loving and serving our spouse. The book and DVDs are such a breath of fresh air from the 'marriage advice' we receive through TV and movies.

Grabers and Webers were our speakers--and they did such a great job helping us discuss and apply the information, as well as providing stories and wisdom from their years of marriage. It is so good to get that bigger picture.


We also happened to have FOUR pregnant ladies there--and three of them are due in the same month and are ALL from the same small group!!!

This is Amanda and Dave. Amanda was a SUPER retreat planner. She is amazing with organizing and detail and just figuring all that stuff out. Without her and Cheri's work--the retreat wouldn't have been NEAR as good!!!

We had a super time getting to know the other 11 couples better, ate way too much delicious food, and had a great, relaxing weekend. We are looking forward to the next one!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Weekend with Nee-Nee

My sister, Courtney, offered to take Ollie for two days this weekend. She LOVES to spend time with him, and he loves her, too. They're tight. So he left Saturday evening and we picked him up yesterday morning.

As I was driving him there Saturday, I mentioned that he'd need to take a bath that night. He loves baths! I also told him that 'Grandma and Grandpa J' have a giant bathtub that he might be able to use--he then responded, "Maybe we can ALL take a bath!" Hmmm...mom and dad weren't too keen on that idea...

Anyway--he has SUCH fun with 'NeeNee' and we are SO thankful that she loves to take him and spend extra time with him every once in a while!!!

Here are a few random pics from the weekend--but you can see the full story at NeeNee's blog.
Webcam-ing cousin Addilyn in Chicago...

Playing with marble/blocks

Shopping at Dillons...

Watching a movie with fruit snacks...

Monday, March 15, 2010

An Only Child (for a day!)

Lily is missing her brother! Ollie got to spend the weekend with Aunt NeeNee (my sister), and Lily gets to practice being an only child for a day. We have to admit--things are a *bit* calmer around here...but we would NEVER trade having two crazy kids for ANYTHING.
We are CRAZY about these two kids.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

making forts

One of the things Ollie enjoys this winter is making forts. On this particular day, he used it to curl up and 'take a nap' in.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


I knew that second children tended to be a bit different from first children. And having a girl, I fully expected that. But wow. Lily is something else!!! We LOVE having her around, and getting to know more and more of her personality. She makes us laugh so much...and also can have us more frustrated than Ollie EVER did.
She has the goofiest faces, a wild, contagious laugh, and the sweetest sucking-her-thumb-when-she's-tired look....we are totally smitten. :-)

She also has quite a temper and more than a little bit of a stubborn streak. How can such a little girl be so strong-willed? Amazingly, we are having to hide and put away things we never had to deal with when Ollie was little...she digs in the recycling bins, trash, tries to eat her wipes, and scavenges through my purse ANY chance she gets.

Even though she wakes up a bit moody (at least for a few minutes) in the morning, I usually can't WAIT to get her up--she is so sweet and we just NEVER know what she'll do next!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I (heart) Hummus

I had never even heard of the stuff until I came to Bethel. And I didn't even try it there! My first taste was at a wedding this fall...and I craved it for months!

Finally, I bought some at Walmart. Joel and the kids really liked it...but it was a bit pricey. I found out that it is EASY to make, and quite cheap that way. Then, I learned from a friend that pita chips are super-easy to make, too! So yesterday I tried to make the chips...and they were a success!!!!!

So, if you're looking for a yummy, healthier option for lunch, try this:


1 can garbanzo beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in saucepan, add minced garlic. Cook a couple minutes until tender. Pour half the can of beans and 1-2 T. bean 'juice' into a food processor. Blend until smooth. Repeat. *I have to do this because my food processor is little! Then, add the garlic/oil. Finally, add salt and pepper to taste. If it's too thick, you can always add a bit more of the bean juice.

Pita Chips

1 package pita bread
olive oil
salt, pepper, garlic powder

With a basting brush, brush olive oil on one side of pita bread. Add pepper, salt, and garlic powder to taste. Then, with a pizza cutter, cut pita bread apart into smaller pieces. Cook at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes, until light brown and crisp.

Not only do Joel and I LOVE this stuff, my kids do, too. And I can make it all for about $4--as opposed to buying it for $6-7! (Plus, it makes more when you do it yourself--and there are lots of yummy recipes online to jazz it up a bit!)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ice Dancing

This was NOT my favorite Olympic event by any means. In fact, I can't believe they actually aired it on TV for a whole evening!

But we've always said that we'd support Ollie in whatever he wanted to do, and yesterday morning he announced to me that he "wanted to go Ice Dancing". So, I captured it all on camera.

We're holding our breath that this is as far as it goes. But if he ends up wearing a leopard-print leotard in front of millions on TV someday...we'll still love him.