Sunday, June 23, 2013

Home again, home again,

We're baaack!

We arrived back in Dayton Saturday night.  After a long and nearly perfect travel day (we had one barfer.  Quinn got airsick on our decent into Denver at the end of our first leg.  Poor guy, he may never eat another Cheez-it again in his life.  Which, if you know him, would be tragic.)  We were happy to sleep in our own beds last night.

It was a bittersweet leaving of LA.  The kids had grown attached to friends, we had grown attached to the kids we worked with at our ministry sight.  Our family had grown attached to the others we shared our unique experience with over the past three weeks.  The FIJI house had also grown attached to the bottom of Turner's feet (which were permanently and disgustingly black over the last three weeks.)  This leads me to assume that the FIJI's do NOT regularly clean their house.  Which also leads me to want to vomit if I think too long on that.  Therefore, my own home has never looked, smelled or been cleaner to me in my life.  I am thankful!

There are more pictures, stories and reflections to come.  Our schedule (which most days began at 6 am and ended at 10 pm) ended up being much more grueling than I had anticipated.  I hoped to have more frequent updates here, but I was literally burning the candle at both ends.  We now have about 2 and a half weeks before we load up the van and head back out west. This time to Colorado for about 2 weeks of training for work.  It's just *one of those summers.*  I know, poor us, right?!

But for the next 2 weeks we are going to squeeze some good 'ole summer fun out of life!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day

Sweet Steve began his Father's Day with a 7:00 wake up call.  When you are all five on air mattresses in a dorm room, the wake up calls come fast and furious.  

We had a fun evening out last night.  We had our first evening off in a few days.  So we loaded up in our van and headed to the Universal Studio City Walk.  We enjoyed some shopping, street entertainment and a delicious meal.  It was nice to be with just the five of us.

Although life at the Fiji house is a ton of fun.  The kids are having a blast with the college students.  

 During our days we join the college students at their ministry sites.  Our family spent the day at three different locations around the city, trying to find the best fit for us.  One day we were at a church that serves the homeless on Skid Row.  We spent several hours sorting a donations closet.  Olivia had tons of fun, but it was a bit *challenging* to focus the boys.  So we thought we would try our hand at a different site.

The next day we ended up at a community center for a housing project called Ramona Gardens.  It is largely an Hispanic population.  There we spent time in a gym that was populated mostly by young adults and some teens.  It still didn't feel like a perfect fit.  However, we did visit this ice cream truck on steroids!!!  It was Quinn's dream come true.  I'm thinking he now has vision for his future.

The third day we found a place that was *just right*.  We will be spending this week in Pasadena at a community center for a housing project called Community Arms.  It is one of the most beautiful housing projects I've ever seen.  We will be running some day camps where there will be crafts, games and even swimming.  Our kids will be able to hop in with the other kids.  I am truly thankful that our kids are so adaptable.  They were able to make some friends with the kids on the playground and are looking forward to going back tomorrow.

I am thankful for the school experience they have back in Dayton.  I feel like my kids are able to hop into friendships and play well with kids from all different kinds of back grounds because that is what they do on a daily basis at River's Edge Montessori.  

And this is what it looks like at the end of the day around here.  We have been going long and hard!  

I have to say, these are not the first people to pass out in the Fiji house, and the probably won't be the last!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Post cards from LA

 The other day our group split up into teams and we had a scavenger hunt around LA.  Olivia and I, along with a few others in our group, raced against Steve and the boys.  There were about 10 places on the list to hit and the team with the most amount of places visited won.

Well, our group didn't quite win.  We got a bit hung up on Rodeo Drive.  (Olivia decided she would like to have this as her wedding dress.  Duh.  Vera Wang!)

What was really crazy was the fact that 5 hours earlier we were at church on Skid Row.  And by Skid Row, I mean actual Skid Row.  (Grandparents, Aunts/Uncles and all concerned family and friends... we were PERFECTLY safe.)  

Our family was also able to head to Chinatown for a few hours the other day.  It was a good time.  The kids were thrilled to have a chance to spend their cash.  The boys bought Num Chucks.  Awesome.  That was a daddy-approved decision.

The weather has been picture perfect.  The kids are having a blast.  I'm exhausted.  Pretty much, our family is having the time of our lives!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Which came first... the chicken or the ...waffle??

My morning began at 5:50.  I hit the shower by 6:00 and Quinn and I were out the door at 6:35 for a Starbucks run.  When we are at home Quinn is an early riser.  But the rule at our house is that you're not allowed out of bed until the clock reads seven zero zero.  Well... when you're all crammed in a room together - it does NOT matter what time the clock says!  This mama is getting up.  The other three managed to sleep a touch longer.

We had meetings again today while the kids (all 10 of them) played well together.  I took the kids out to play around 3:00 and there was not a cloud in the sky.  The weather was a perfect 72 degrees.  And I may have wondered out loud why the heck I live in Ohio!

Our group piled into some vans this evening and headed to a place called Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles.  Apparently the thing to do out here is eat your waffle with a big 'ole piece of fried chicken on top.  Honestly, that just didn't sound too appealing to me.  However, the rice and beans with a half a bottle of hot sauce sure did.  And that's what I ate.  I tried a taste of the waffle with chicken.  Meh.  I'll stick with my super spicy rice and beans.

We have one more day until nearly 30 college athletes from all over the country arrive.  Many preparations are going into their arrival.  I am so excited for them.

It was 19 years ago almost to the day that I was a fresh college graduate heading into New York City for a very similar experience.  It changed my life.  And I'm not even being dramatic.  It is fun to imagine which students' lives are about to be changed forever.  They have no idea!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Totally awesome, dude

 I think it is fair to say that our family is having an AMAZING time so far.  This week is a time for the people staffing this missions trip to get things ready.  It is super busy and there is a lot of work to do, but there has also been a good deal of family time too. (The kids look super busy, don't they?)

Our family had a few hours of free time this afternoon so we hopped in the van and headed over to the Santa Monica Pier.  The kids had a super fun time running around and playing.  It was rather quiet on the beach, but we were able to do some fun people watching.

After studying the older guys very carefully, Turner figured out how to do some amazing stunts on the rings at the beach.  
 He was actually quite impressive.  I could people watch all day over there.

Life at the frat house is a zoo.  Once all of the college students arrive on Saturday there will be over 50 people living here.  This is a picture of the kids table at lunch.  My kids are in heaven.  The three other families here with us are great.  They play hide and seek, have dance parties and play a few video games.  I know it's only been two days and there is serious potential for some historic meltdowns; but there are some glorious memories being made as well.

One of my favorite parts of life so far have been some cut throat UNO games between Quinn and a few of the 20 something staff guys.  One of his favorite challenge lines has been, "I'm gonna take you down.  Down to losing town!  Population... ONE."

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Flying the friendly skies

Here I am. Laying on an air mattress in the Fiji house.  My kids are 2 feet away from me.  Good times.

The trip went well.  Except when Olivia spilled ketchup all over her dress.  Before we even reached our gate.  In Dayton.  And except when we didn't have seats next to each other on the big flight from Chicago to L.A.  And no one wanted to switch with us.  Except one nice guy.

Which is okay, since the other guy who didn't want to switch seats had to endure 40 minutes of Turner explaining every in and out of Temple Run.  And Temple Run 2.  And Temple Run Brave.  And a game of Uno.  And when Turner spilled his Sprite on the guys lap.  Oops.  Sorry sir.  guess you should have given your seat to one of his parents.

Served him right.

But all is well.  We are trying to adjust to the time change.  Pictures and stories to come.  I just wanted to check in and report in that we are safe and sound.

I'm off to enjoy a *hopefully* better rest than last nights.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

t-minus 13 hours

Here we are, L.A. eve.  This should definitely be a declared holiday.  Our bags are packed.  My house is *clean*.  (Clean enough for the dog sitter to live in.  Which is actually cleaner than what we live in.) My kids are bonkers.  It must be time to go.

Our flight leaves at 1:00 pm, Ohio time.  I'm still debating whether or not I should try to squeak in a Pilates class in morning.  That would be really stupid, wouldn't it?!

In the scheme of life, 20 nights in a fraternity house bedroom is not that big of a deal.  But for our family, it could be life changing.  And not just because Quinn snores.  But more because this is the first time our family is going, all together, on a missions trip.  It's gonna be life changing.

We are very excited about what God is going to do in us, in our family and through us.  I love cities.  I don't love L.A. YET.  Only because I have not lived there.  I can't wait to experience it.  Especially though the eyes of my kids.

I hope you'll join us though though this experience.

Here we go!