Friday, November 30, 2012

dance party

Anni & Evy's cousin Miss Claire turned 4 and had a dance party complete with disco ball cake, rockin' playlists, and tickets! There were wardrobe selection decisions to be made in anticipation of this big event and as you can see we had a blast...
"So call me maybe"

and while the kids were dancing...
don't worry we made them shake what their mama's gave them untitled-112
a cool down break (How did people parent without Ipads?)
dancing with Bibi
Evy's signature move
Yep, Clare's Bday bash will the talk of the watoto set for a while!

DollyWood Day

The day after Thanksgiving the whole Engstrom clan packed into assorted minivans and took our brood of watoto to DollyWood (which I continued to called DollyWorld all day because; apparently, I am that quick).  The day started out warm and sunny but soon became rainy and cold-ish (for TN) but we braved the conditions for some good family fun! The rides were fun but I must say my favorite part was people watching and "overhearing" listening in on people's convos.
The gems of the day (imagine with a Southern twang, go ahead say it aloud (you know you want to)):
"you better hurry up cuz we gotta go meet Pop-Pop."

Random girl: "that (roller coaster) was so fast!"
Random Grandpa dude: "Darn tootin' it was!"

Random guy sitting behind us at 'Christmas in the Snowy Mountains' show (hey, it was raining and we were cold!): "I don't mean to be ugly but...(insert talking bad about someone in his family)" then to his kid who was jumping around in his seat "You better quit 'er I will slap you!" followed by many loud "Amens" during Christmas show

and the piece de resistance.... Annie and I were riding one of the big coasters (the boys were kid wrangling so we could get in a few big coasters) and sat in the 2nd to last row.  Behind us was a super cute couple and as we were buckling in to the seats she said "I done ride this before and it made my hair like 10 feet tall!!" then right before the ride started she told us "y'all better hold on cuz this thang is fast as she-it!" How she managed to make a four letter word have 3 syllables is a feat only Southerners can accomplish. Those quotes alone were worth the entrance fee.  I miss the South, y'all!
our big girl braved the high ropes course with Papa and was sooo proud of herself (I was cheering her on from below with the zoom lens and yes, I am that Mama)
riding the piggies with Emma
this photo taken right before some out of control body tackling and giggling

There you have it; a day spent livin' it up at DollyWorld Wood.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

fresh air & smoky mountains

On Thanksgiving morning we took a family hike to Clingman's Dome. It was breathtaking and before we headed up to the lookout we said a prayer thanking God for His creation, His faithfulness, His provision. With these views how could you not be humbled and in awe?
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these girlies held hands the entire hike. Yeah, it was scrumptious. untitled-205
Anni decided we needed feathers in our hair because that is what cool hiking people do. Obviously.
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The entire crew
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doing Gangnam Style to keep the bears away. Yep, we are weird. And hilarious.
You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds,
    God our Savior,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
    and of the farthest seas,
who formed the mountains by your power,
    having armed yourself with strength,
who stilled the roaring of the seas,
    the roaring of their waves,
    and the turmoil of the nations.
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
    where morning dawns, where evening fades,
    you call forth songs of joy. Psalm 65:5-8

Being thankful to the Creator while enjoying His creation. Perfect Thanksgiving morning,

a darn tootin' time in TN

Ah, the South. The land of Waffle Houses and slow moving customer service workers. It was a good time y'all! After a couple days in the South there was a rumor (um, it was true) that I started talkin' with a twang.  Jason's parents treated us all to a stay at a huge log cabin (a house made of sticks as Anni calls it) called the Party Hut.  And it was people. Hot tubs, a movie theater room, a sauna, and eating Thanksgiving out at Mama's kitchen so no cooking or clean-up: can I get an Amen!?! Jason saw the buffet and his only comment "I'm gonna eat until I hate myself." So yeah Thanksgiving stateside was filled with the need for comfy pants and family just the way it is supposed to be.  We also got to do some hiking and go to DollyWood (pics soon).
cousin movie night
the last night in the Party Hut was spent playing a game that involved eating Jelly Bellies.  Flavours included: barf, baby wipes, pencil shavings, dog food, moldy cheese, skunk spray, centipede, rotten egg, and booger! And Yeah, we did that for fun.
touring Gatlinburg with Babu
there was even a Bluegrass band...
and YES we danced (really, did you even have to ask?)
Plus, there was moonshine tastin'
and free fudge sample for the watoto set
Bibi & Babu with their grand-kids.  Pretty adorable right?
I love these girls.
It was a Happy Thanksgiving Y'all.  (ok, I will stop now soon).

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

arms wide open

Last night I got a call from a dear friend who is in a difficult, challenging, pressing situation and feeling exhausted and emotionally shot. I have so been there and, guaranteed, will be there again. Being invited into a sister's struggle is a chance to live what I believe.  I listened and offered some meager thoughts and prayed for her.  We talked about how we always see a "better" phase that where we are right now.  We laughed.  That always helps.  I got off the phone and prayed some more.  I thought about how our situations are so different but that we are both longing for something different. Struggling in the immediate.

It was a good reminder for me to live with my arms wide open right now even if I might chose something different.   I want to live embracing my right now because truthfully my right now is pretty amazing.  I am called to home school my daughter and spend a lot more time than I am used to at home.  Some days we do not leave the house and the daily life stuff is kicking my butt.  It might not be super exciting or adventurous to some but it requires all of me and a lot of grace from God. And it is a precious time I want to soak in and be present for.  I want to chose joy.  I have recently realized that I need to fully invest here in the U.S.  I have resisted this until now because it seems temporary and I know how difficult it is to say goodbye and leave.  But God blessed our family by allowing the growth of meaningful roots that burrowed deep into the red African soil and He will be faithful to uproot and replant those roots in Chicago; even if it means He has to go through frozen concrete.  I will focus on trying to make myself available for that in my here and now.  And I am called to do it for Him; to not wish I was there or doing that or more like her.  Ladies, can we all invest more fully where we are right now?  No matter what that right now looks like.
And we need each other to do it,

these ladies

I made my way to the far (it was almost Indiana people!) South side for a baby shower for a dear friend and former teaching colleague and it was a blast.  She has been on bed rest for months keeping little Karter safely inside until he will make his appearance in December so girlfriend deserved a PAR-TAY! Which is just what she got!
 It is such a blessing to be able to be here for these events since I spent so many years looking and the pictures on FB and sniffling that I missed the chance to join in and celebrate!  I realized just how much I have missed these ladies as we reminisced about the crazy, chaotic and eventful days of teaching together at Canter and shared the latest of our lives now. And I was some how roped into making some African grub soon (I'm pretty sure I volunteered).  And I laughed so hard and was reminded of the amazing women I am privileged to count as friends.
The shower was a great time to celebrate and look expectantly to all the change that is soon to come.  Congrats Akisha! You are gonna rock this Mama gig!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

it begins...

So this just happened at our house.

We are back after an awesome week in Tennessee with Jason's family and a harrowing car ride back to Chicago all in one day (hey, harrowing is the only word for full blast heat necessitating driving in your skimpies and windows down every few minutes). We made it back and are ankle deep in Christmas decorations that have not been dusted off for 5 years!
Annikah's quote while putting so many ornaments on our tree you can hardly see any green "This is the best Christmas party night EVER?" Well, then. And Evy loves to help (if you can call fighting with her sister and breaking stuff helping).
Hope your day is festive and bright,