Tuesday, June 23, 2015

branding 2015

While Terry was gone on his two week mission trip, the kids and I tried to stay busy in order to more quickly pass the time.

On the tenth day of Terry's trip, the kids and I went out to the ranch to "help" brand the calves. We usually do it a few weeks earlier when Terry can help (like during Memorial Day weekend like in 2013 and 2014), but have had so much rain that Terry's folks kept having to move it back. Therefore, Terry wasn't able to help this year! Jerry's renters, Harry and Shari stepped in so everything went just fine without Terry. Actually, it went great! 
Shari, Noah, Jerry, Jessica, Alice and Sydney.

This was the first year Ezra didn't have a morning nap and was therefore present for branding. He was very freaked out by the generator noise, not to mention the bellering calves. They used to make me feel bad too. But I didn't want to hold Ezra for two hours, so after a while I set him down on a four wheeler far enough away that he was safe and I could keep an eye on him. He didn't appreciate it but it was good for him. He got used to it.

The smell of burning hair is just the worst. Yummy. 

The calves were huge! Three weeks time certainly and definitely made a big difference in size. They were more like young adults than babies. 

Noah's job in the beginning was to the hold the branding iron while Jerry was spraying the calves down with anti-bug spray. 

He doesn't appreciate the noise either. 

Shari brought their dog Sugar out. She's just Snap's size except shorter because although she is part miniature Schnauzer like Snap, she's also half Dachshund. She's so short! She's a little better than Snap about staying away from the cows (he's locked up), but not good enough that we could let her be. She was confined with Ezra to begin with. 

When she jumped down from the four-wheeler, Shari put her in this bucket! Ha! That only worked for a while, because although her legs are short, she can still jump. 

So after she jumped out, she was stuck with the girls who looked after her.

When Noah got bored of holding the iron, I took over for him and he helped Carson herd the calves down the shoot. 

I like this view and I took the same shot last year, though it was a nicer day. We were thankful the rain held off all day.  


Nice big old trees. 

Last calf! 

When we were done, I herded my own kids to a more suitable location for some cute pictures. 

I wanted a shot of all the kids kind of like this one from 2013.

I think it worked pretty well!

Cute kids. They look so nice in pictures. 

Silly faces.  

Friday, June 19, 2015

cooling off in the pool

While Terry was gone on his two week mission trip, the kids and I tried to stay busy in order to more quickly pass the time. 

The first weekend while Terry was away was spent mostly at home. Noah mowed the lawn, I worked again, sold our old dressers, went to church and played at the Beckloff's house. I got a bit depressed that weekend but was cured by hanging out with my friends! Monday, a week into the two week trip, Noah spent the day swimming with Jack and some new friends. I worked out (T25) and thought I had enough energy to take the kids on a short run. The short run evolved into a long, grueling walk/jog/mostly walk. I pushed the littles (who are getting really big) in our long double stroller. They are just too big for that thing; I could hardly push and steer it at all, much less run. I got in one heck of a workout even though I mostly walked.

So when we got home we all plopped into the pool. The water was icy cold but felt so good. The kids blew the new bubbles daddy had left for them as a surprise, through their foam books.

I thought it would be funny to take a photo of my feet. Nope. I have weird feet and ankles.

Thankfully, Evie interrupted my weird photos... 

I got a kick looking through all of her expressions so I included nearly all of the pictures. Of course Samuel wanted to join her. He wants to do everything she does. She makes everything more fun! 

I mean, just look at her face!  

Ha ha! 

Ezzie even got to have some fun with the hose.  

a lost tooth, softball mess

While Terry was gone on his two week mission trip, the kids and I tried to stay busy in order to more quickly pass the time. 

On the third day of Terry's trip, while Evie was at Rainbow, Noah lost a tooth. It was pretty curious that he lost it while Terry was gone on this particular trip. The last time Terry did this trip in 2011, Noah also lost a tooth - his very first tooth! I never did find it and assumed he swallowed the thing. Ha! He held onto this one and even though the usual tooth fairy had a substitute, she managed to find the tooth and give him a prize.

That afternoon we had another play date here at the house. Shari and her girls came over, as well as  Samuel's friend from preschool - Harper (and his mom Sarah, of course)! I didn't take any photos, but it was his very first play date specific to him. It all went well, but I don't think he understood the significance ;)

That evening we stayed out late at the softball fields. Our church team played at 7pm and there was a BBQ afterwards. Because it had been so rainy that week (and the month before), the grass surrounding the fields was like a marsh. There were puddles everywhere! At first I thought it would be okay because it gave Ezra and Samuel something to do - throw rocks into puddles. But it soon dissolved into Ezra sitting, and then laying in the water. I tried and tried to keep him out of that water. But each time he got a little more wet and finally I just gave in and let him go for it. Our team in the dugout kept looking at me, trying to clue me in to what was going on. Oh, I knew. 

He would climb up the sand pile next to the dugout, run down and plop himself into this little puddle. 

I guess I should be thankful it was a small one. But perhaps if it had been bigger he wouldn't have gotten so sandy. Good Lord! The littles had to have a late bath that night. 

Evie to Rainbow

While Terry was gone on his two week mission trip, the kids and I tried to stay busy in order to more quickly pass the time. 

Wednesday, the third day of his trip, was spent with friends over at our house. The Oaks came to play and even Debbie and her girls stopped by. They were all so helpful and encouraging to me. That night we had another crazy big storm in the middle of the night. I was surprised none of the kids ran into my room. That's what all my friend's kids did!

Thursday June 4th we took Evie out to Rainbow Bible Ranch. This was her second trip. The drive out there was scary because the road was very muddy as a result of all the huge amounts of rain we'd been having. I followed Suzie home so if anything happened to either of us, at least we'd have each other on the road. She took this photo for me :)

A highlight of the trip are the kittens. They all love those babies. I do too! Look how happy Noah is :)

I want one so bad! Stinking Snap dog. He hunts them.

Cowgirls all ready to go!

We went back the following evening to watch their small program. I was late so we missed the beginning. But at least it didn't rain again. The roads were better.

Afterward they showed us their skills on a horse. There were about 60 kids so it took a while to get a turn!

She was happy to see us again and liked getting her picture taken.

Getting on the horse.

She can't ride by herself. Perhaps that's why the lines move slow. The kids have to be led around. What good helpers they have there.

puddle walk

 While Terry was gone on his two week mission trip, the kids and I tried to stay busy in order to more quickly pass the time. The first night we were at my folks for pizza and that was super helpful. Home was depressing so it was good to get out of the house. It was always good to get out of the house! There were big thunderstorms dumping rain just north of us that evening. The tornado sirens went off, apparently, for flood warnings. Yeah, the kids freaked out but we were all fine. 

The second day I filled in at work (thankful I had that to do!) and that evening we had another big storm!

I like thunderstorms, but when they knock the power out while my husband is gone, it makes me feel a little vulnerable. Hoping it wouldn't last long, I let the kids play on some mini-screens. Haha, a phone, an ipod and a Nook. 

After an hour we got our power back and then it went right out again until 1030 that night. We decided to go for a walk. I talked to Terry on the phone that night and the kids waded through the deep puddle up the road from us. The neighbor kids had been swimming in that!

And then Evie fell in! It was quite funny. It wasn't so funny for her to shower in the dark or for me to get all four ready for bed by myself (Terry is so incredibly helpful at bedtime. He does takes care of the older three and I do just Ezra. Usually by that time of the day I've just had it). I was so thankful when that power came back on.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Terry's Mexico/L.A. mission trip

Terry has been back from his two week mission trip for four days and I am a happy woman. And my kids are happy. We are happy together! The night he got home he shared some of the many stories from his trip and made me a little happier about having lent him out for a while. They experienced some amazing things, answered prayers being foremost in my mind. 

So, to go back to the beginning, Terry and his team of 25 students and parents had been preparing for this trip pretty much all of last school year, and especially since the new year. They'd sent out support letters, raised money at the church through a brown bag fundraiser, a chili cook-off and finally, a super fun dinner theater. There was a lot of prep that went into this trip! But though it was hard work, it was beneficial to them individually and corporately. It prepared the team to work together for two solid weeks. It made them into a very united team. 

I had been dreading that day but of course it did finally come. I am quite selfish. I am no where near as selfless as my husband. I have lots to learn there and this trip was one thing that helped me along that path of growth (i hope anyway). 

So the day of departure came - Monday, June 1. Here the group and their families preparing to leave by going over some ground rules and praying together. 

It was super windy and bright. They all look so happy to be starting off!

The bus company put vinyl stickers on the bus with our church's name as well as Terry's. You can see Noah didn't want to let go of his daddy any more than I did. 

One more picture before he got on the bus.

Noah bawled his little heart out as we drove home. Poor kid. Perhaps we shouldn't have gone straight home because the house seemed empty, but that's what we did. Terry had left us these little foam books though, as I mentioned in my last post. He made one for each of us and they had a short note for us to read every day of his trip. They also included clues to small surprises he had hidden around the house. The first being a sheet of stickers, then bubbles, Hotwheels cars/rubber bands, and more stickers. I got something bigger, something I could Facetime him with - a new used Ipod. 

Here is a map of their route to Tijuana, Mexico. It took them three days to get there. Hence their need of the bus.

Their first stop was Table in the Wilderness in Centennial, WY. That's where we've taken our DisConnect trips and they (Dan) were the ones who led the mission trip for Terry. I don't have a good photos from that night, though I know they're out there to be found. I am just making due with what I have though. 

The second night was a hotel in Cedar City, UT. Here's their nightly devotion time, by the pool this evening.  

 Poolside again.

Day three brought more driving, but the end was in sight. Here they are at a rest stop in Nevada. 

Terry's appears none to pleased with Natasha's Flat Stanley... No idea...

Late in the day they switched out the bus for two rented vans in San Diego and they proceeded across the boarder with no issues. Then, apparently, they went straight to eat tacos. That's what I would've done. 

Day four was spent starting work on the house building by Terry's half of the group; the other half was at The City of Angels orphanage. Part of the team's fundraising efforts went towards all the materials for constructing a house for a new Christian family that Table in the Wilderness had chosen. We had their picture and were praying for them. The husband previously had a successful taco stand but sold everything except this garage to pay for his daughter's eye condition. 

They got a lot done in one day! 

Terry spent day five at the orphanage putting together a gaga ball pit for the kids. 

Here is he posting against the wall that his 2011 Gburg group painted the last time he was there.  

On Day six, they worked hard to complete the house.

They didn't quite finish. They had those gables left to do and some other small things but the leader, Sergio, assured them that he would get them done.

 Here's Terry with the hard working husband and father of the family.  

And here's the family. The most touching story of the entire trip (that I've heard so far) was concerning this family. That evening, Israel (the man) wanted to thank the group for building them a house so he made them tacos at their home base, Rancho Solo. Members of Israel's church also came to say thank you. One of them spoke very good English and was able to tell Terry and the team how they, as a church, had been praying for someone to come and take care of Israel's family. The church was doing what they could but they needed more. Terry's and his team were a direct answer to prayer. God took care of this little family through my husband and those he led! Amazing.

Day seven began at a large church in Tijuana called The Arena.  

The group then went to Sam's club and used more of their funds to buy supplies for some nursing homes and hospices. 

This was one of the old folks home. Terry said this day was "emotionally overwhelming seeing two hospices, an old folks home and a halfway house for men who were saved out of deep dark sexual sin." Those men had some incredible testimonies. God does miracles in each transformation.

That evening the team had a fiesta at the orphanage and said goodbye. 

On day eight, they drove south to Ensenada to have a fun day at the beach. There were horse rentals! 

Terry got sunburned. 

Yummy coconut milk. 

On day nine the group drove to L.A. to get ready for the next phase of their trip. They camped out at Azuza Pacific University, did laundry and relaxed at Dan's wife's brother's house. 

Day ten the team was split between serving at two homeless shelters, the Union Rescue Mission and the LA City Mission. The group is listening to Dan before they get started on their day.

Here are some of the make-shift tents they saw downtown. Terry said it was difficult to go from seeing the poverty in Mexico to seeing the poverty in the United States. There was a stark contrast. The people in Mexico were working hard and getting no where. The people in the US seemed to be in their situation by choice. Both shelters offered programs to get people on their feet.

Here's Terry's group in the elevator during a tour of their shelter.

On day eleven they switched shelters and completed their work in the kitchen where they prepared and served foot, talked with people and wrote some encouraging note. Then they took the subway downtown for some sightseeing.

Day 10 hands!

The following day, day eleven, was spent on the beach. They went to Santa Monica Pier and had lots of fun. 

The lifeguards wouldn't let them use their floaties. I got a kick out of Terry's tube name.  

On day twelve they started the long trek home. Whereas on the way down they took three days time to drive, now they took only two days.  

Terry was their worship leader, even on the bus.  

And finally, after 14 long days, he came home!  

My bubbles, erm, husband! 

He brought a sense of humor back to my life. How I missed him. I am thankful for how God was at work but am pumped he is home!