Friday, February 27, 2015

Share the Love!

The girls had an idea about how they could serve others for Valentine's Day that was inspired by the event they went to a few weeks back. Their plan developed over the course of an hour car ride and involved making valentines with friends for refugees and elderly folks and at first my inclination was to tell them all the reasons why we did not have enough time to pull it off, or why it might not work out, or worry it was more trouble than it was worth.  But the more we talked the more I realized this was a kid sized idea that I needed to fully back. I needed to show my girls I believed in them and their ideas and in using their gifts to make the world a better place.  We prayed about it, made plans to stop by a rehabilitation center near us, and I promised to call World Relief to ask what we could do to help.  Within 24 hours we had plans to have a party to make valentines for the 85 cards we would need and World Relief let us know the current needs for winter coats and gear.  It all came together  and I was so proud of the girls and how excited they were. They decided where to shop, what to get (with a little input bc I had to nix a few requests like giant heart blow up thingys), and who to invite.  Even on short notice over 20 kids and many parents joined us to make cards and bring donations of winter gear and money for World Relief Dupage.  It was a really small thing but it was an opportunity for my girls to see that when God speaks to them about loving others He will make a way!! It was awesome to see everyone come together to Share the Love.

Thanks to Jamie at Engelhardt photography for making some images of the festivities because I had a baby on my hip and one hand in glue most of the night.

A few friends came late but I had to capture their sweet valentines

The kids who shared the love!!
share the love team at WR (2)
The Share the Love crew dropping off the winter gear donations and check at World Relief Dupage the next day.
share the love team at WR (5)
We are never too young to serve- this was the girl's guiding verse for their Share the Love Party!
share the love team at WR (3)
We made little goodie bags for kids in an afterschool program run by volunteers from World Relief at a school not far from us.  Kids loving on kids. It was pretty awesome and we had a blast on our adventure!
share the love team at WR (13)
Then a few days later we headed to Bria Center to hand out hugs and cards to some of the residents.
Annikah took these 2 images during our adventure:
This woman was so touched by her card that she got teary and it really impacted Annikah. She is learning that love changes things.  This was such a small thing but we decided we will do it again next year and see what God does! We are learning together that because God has first shown us love we have a responsibility to show love an concern for others. I hope and pray for my kids that as they grow they see and recognize Jesus in everyone they meet.
"You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving." -Robert Louis Stevenson

Thursday, February 26, 2015

some sun and dolphins

The girls and I escaped Chiberia for just a few days thanks to my mom's (AKA Super Bibi's) airline miles and generosity!  We headed to Florida to see Winter and Hope. In case you are over 11 and do not know about these dolphins let me share.... they are from the Dolphin Tale books and movies and Annikah can give you their life story next time you stop by. She can tell you everything about them and loves to read anything about dolphins. Anni even prays for them at night! All year she has wished and wished that someday she would get to see them and when Bibi suggested a quick getaway I knew where we had to go. Just us ladies packed up and headed to Tampa!!

Our trip even began with the girls first time in a "long car"

She was a little excited!!

We spent a lot of time in the airport on the way there after getting stuck in Philly because of winter storms. We played cards, we ate junk, we (ok the girls) did cartwheels, and got to knwo new friends.  "The difference between an inconvenience and an adventure is a matter of attitude." We repeated that often and thankfully our adventure ended with us eventually getting to Tampa! We also met some really awesome folks with the extra 5 hours at the airport.  I love airports because you get to hear so many stories of people.

We made it to Clear Water Marine Aquarium and spent the day learning everything you ever would want to know about their mission.

Our host John (my Godfather) was amazing and consistently spoiled us the entire time we were there.


We took a boat ride and explored a sand bank.

we had a blast exploring!!

This is how Evy felt about leaving the little island. Seriously.

Annikah with Hope

the stingray pool was one of our favorites

We closed down the aquarium and had to say good bye to Winter before we headed out.

We made it to Clear Water Beach in time for a fantastic sunset. And naked toes!!!

The next day was well spent at the beach getting sand in our hair and between our toes.  The water was pretty cold but for us just the chance to enjoy being outside was life giving.


The fog was pretty intense and so were the crazy birds!!

We caught some street performers at the pier too and the girls were enthralled.

Annikah even got to be in the show when acrobats jumped over her.

We ended vacation right: with too much ice cream and extra sprinkles. We had salt water and sand in our hair and sunburns on our shoulders and shells in our pockets and flip flops on our feet.  It was pretty awesome.  And it was such a blessing to get away and be with my mom and girls for a few days.  Watching them experience something they dreamed about yet never thought they would get to do was the best Mama stuff of all. Yeah for girl's trips!

Monday, February 9, 2015

American Girls serve the world

We joined cousins and friends for an American Girls Serve the World event this weekend. I had no idea what to expect but it was a great day that was fun, encouraging, and inspiring.
The speaker was a young woman who was awarded the American Girl award for her leadership in serving, volunteering, and raising funds for  homeless shelter.  She spoke about how young people can lead and serve and shared about her story. It was so perfect for these young girls!! She shared about standing up to bullying, being kind to others, making hard choices, and asking God to give you courage for all of it.

prayer time

learning a dance together

making cards for residents at a nursing home

the tea with their dolls

mini-cup cakes for their dolls

that is Annikah's "awwww! so cute" face

being ladies

A great afternoon with our girls focusing on who they are and what they can do to change the world!
Don't let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. 1 Timothy 4:12
God can bless others through these empowered and amazing girls! I'm excited to see all that is next for them,

Sunday, February 8, 2015

sledding superstars

J was busy Saturday morning so the kids and I invited some friends to hit the sledding hill. We went with 3 families from India and two had never tried sledding before so we had a blast!!  Of course in full disclosure Anni flipped 5 minutes in and face planted and spent the rest of the hour we spent sledding whining.  And on Abishai's first trip down the hill we hit a bump, flew off, and both face planted! Despite this rather rough intro to the world of sledding he kept pointing and begging to go down again. He did this big hill 4 times! It was a beautiful winter day with lots of sunshine and friends.

snack break...and notice the waterproofing of his shoes. Totally how we roll.

a few iphone pics that must be included to tell the full story.

the reality of sledding with kids. Oh the drama.

Mama selfie shot

My babe and I on his first time sledding. Ok, Winter you can depart now...we have had our fun,