Monday, June 27, 2016

A week at home

Fred and Renee take the boys out on a "date" for their birthday.  Jack decided to go to Cheesecake Factory, Best Buy, and Academy Sports.  He had a great time.  

Sunday was Father's day.  Fred hung out with his parents and I drove to Jackson to spend time with my dad.  Then we all met up at our house to celebrate our Fred.  Sadly, I have no pictures.  I do have a picture of Fred's card from Dash.  Please excuse one word.  The card was just too perfect.  

We actually have a week at home and it's all things wonderful!  Well, a week at home is a loose term, but we'll take it by any definition.
Andrew had little kids camp at church Monday and Monday night.  Zachary went with him.  If you told him he was going to Disney World he could not have been more excited!

Before I took Andrew to Little Kids Camp I met Janice at exit 42 to drop Jack off.  He spent a couple of days at Mimi's house, because his best friend from Paris, Bennett, was in Jackson with his grandmother.  Those two sure do love each other.  They are birds of a feather. Spending time with your best friend at your grandmother's house has to be the very definition of perfection.  Look at these smiles...
If you're doing the math you have realized that we only have one kiddo at home at this point.  He had to do all sorts of extra things around the house since he was by himself.  We mowed the yard together.  Dash gets very stressed when we mow.  Clayton sneezes every time he gets in the sun.  It is so delightful.

Since Clayton was such a good help at home and an only child we told him we could go out to eat.  Guess what he chose?  Yep, Cheesecake Factory.  Now, I don't normally enjoy a chain restaurant, but yum.  Seriously, I ate a bacon, date and goat cheese pizza and it was the best pizza I've ever eaten.  Seriously.

This was my motto with the pizza that I ate...

Tuesday night some of my sweet friends came into town.  I showed  Chick Fil A.  Ha!  And then we went to La Michoacana for ice cream.  I think they were fans. I loved hanging out with them!  
 Meanwhile...Jack and Bennett ate McDonald's in Jackson.  Jack had a Big Mac.  He said he had never had one before.  Of course, Aunt Janice took care of that!
Katie, if you still read this blog, I knew this would make you smile!
 Friday was our anniversary and we grabbed lunch out and then we had a wedding that evening.  I decided about 3 hours before the wedding to find a new dress.  I'm happy to report that I was successful...and I'm officially crazy.  What was I thinking?!?

Early Sunday morning I headed out with a few friends for Beach Blast (our church youth camp) in Panama City.  We were in two cars.  I had just commented to my friend riding with me that I thought we were making great time.  All of a sudden our friends driving in front of us had a flat tire.  I'm here to tell you, there is nothing you can not learn on You Tube.  About 30 minutes later, we had the spare tire on the car, we rolled into Walmart and had it fixed.  All in all it was a good trip.  It took us about 14 hours (should have been 8), but who's counting?!?

 Monday I rolled to Sam's to get ready for youth camp.  Because, going to Sam's seems like the logical thing to do when you are at the beach, right?!?
 I did not even mess around with a cart.  I just went for this big guy.  Please note the water in my cart.  One must hydrate when pushing this think through the grocery.
 An hour later, it was full.  Whew.
 Andrew and Jack stayed in Jackson.  Andrew is getting to attend art camp.  He is so excited!
 Jack is getting to go to basketball camp at Union.  He could not be more excited either.  He goes from 8 am to 5 pm.  That's one happy camper.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Honduras: Clayton's view

Clayton and Fred took a trip to Honduras at the end of May.  When Clayton returned I asked him to describe and write about his trip.  Below is a view of Honduras through the eyes of a 12 year old young man.  The photos were also all taken by him.  Enjoy.  

       Every year at our church, they have many different mission trips that you can participate in. This year, I partook in a mission trip to Honduras.   While we were there, we helped out with an organization of missionaries, El Ayudante, and their activities that they usually request for the villages.  Such examples are: installing water filters in houses, launching a VBS at a local school, and teaching the Hondurans how to play baseball, all while ministering to them.
         El Ayudante is a campaign founded about ten years ago by missionaries from America who saw the need for the gospel in Honduras.  They are based in Comayagua, and have many of the local Hondurans working with them.  In exchange for protection, cooked meals, and service at the clinic, the Hondurans working at El Ayudante receive pay, food, and in the future, shelter.  As mentioned earlier, El Ayudante is a relatively new campaign, therefore they are still in the process of constructing and planning several buildings for the staff.  Their newest building is a place for people visiting the clinic to rest and buy food that has been cheaply priced for their sake.

El Ayudante's newest building with the mountains in the background

        In the local villages, many people work with El Ayudante in order to receive their own water filter.  Many of the recipients are high up in the mountains depicted above.  Our plan was to go up there in a bus,  with the supplies in the truck, and install water filters while ministering to the families.  On the day when we installed water filters, we had to get out of the bus because of narrow roads, and hike up the remaining portion of the mountain, seeing as the truck was filled with supplies.  While it was hard work, the ministry from the installation of water filters allowed a personal aspect of our lives into theirs.
        At the mission house, my favorite thing to do was to grab a book and sit outside in the hammock, like the one I am sitting in right now (since I bought one home and had it installed in my room).  During our first few days there, it was very dusty and smoky, as the people were burning their crops during a drought.  This meant that most of the time the mountains were not visible from the mission house, and looked blurry like in the picture above.  During our last few days, there were very strong thunderstorms that knocked out our electricity.  Many people woke up because of the heat, but I was so tired from the previous day that while everyone in our bunk house was talking, I was asleep on the top bunk.
        One of the translators there, Jose, bunked with me.  I decided to clear all of my stuff off of the bottom bunk, and from there we basically hung out with each other for the rest of the week.  He told me about the scorpions and snakes that came out at night, and almost got me to believe that we were going to hunt for them (almost).  He also helped build the Adobe House, a house made out of brick and mud.  He plans to travel to America to become a doctor, and has already met people that live where he wants to go.

           On the final day of the trip, we went into the the town square to look around and possibly buy a souvenir (which is how I ended up with this hammock I am sitting in).  It was a beautiful place with many vendors selling food and little trinkets of all kinds.  While we were there, we visited a beautiful, old church, that contained the world's second oldest clock.  That is just about all we did on this trip (except for work) that I can discuss with just a piece of virtual paper.  It was extremely fun, and an adventure few words could describe.

Things I learned in Honduras: 
1.  People are people. 
In Honduras, people are living in poverty with very little, if any, food to eat.  They still act like we do though: love their family, love to be together, work together, etc. 
2.  No matter your circumstances, you can always be content. 
They were living in houses made of mud, eating one or two meals a day, and yet, they always seemed to be content.  There is an indescribable joy on their faces. 
3.  It is hot in Honduras. 
4.  Education is a privilege.  
People in Honduras WANT to go to school and I take it for granted.  Because of my trip, I will no longer take the opportunity to be educated for granted.  I will do my best at school so that I can be the best version of who God has called me to be. 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Playing Catch Up

After Memorial day Fred and Clayton were gone all week to Honduras.  Jack, Andrew and I were here to hold down the fort.  We had a relatively lazy week.

One morning we were having breakfast of lemon cake and bacon and eggs.  Jack asked for peanut butter.  When I told him that was gross to put peanut butter on lemon cake he told me the peanut butter wasn't for his cake.  It was for his bacon.  Still gross.  But that sweet smile gets me every morning.
 Since Fred and Renee were in Honduras as well we went to their house for Jack to work in the yard for Mr. Fred.  He knocked down a brick wall and Andrew and Zachary played in the pool.  Those two are good friends.

We also had to mow the yard while Fred and Clayton were gone.  So, Jack had me as a yard mowing partner.  Some of our sweet friends came over to help me weed eat.  For the life of me, I can't work a weed eater.
We had a week of VBS at EBC, but sadly, I don't have any pictures.  It was a good week though.

On Friday of that week a sweet young couple from our church got married.  The bride's sister is in my Sunday school class and she is just precious.  Fred preformed the wedding and then we grabbed a picture with the bride's sister at the reception.

While we were at the wedding, my brother's crew was in Jackson for a baseball tournament with my parents and my boys. There was swimming, sleeping in, eating whatever they wanted, and baseball. Since Fred had a wedding and a funeral and church, he was not able to join us, but I drove back and forth on Saturday and Sunday.  Since my brother and I are both in a busy season of family life we don't get to see each other too much.  We really treasure the times we get to spend together.

Meanwhile back at home, Dash was so distressed about the boys being gone he ate half a package of rolls...plastic included.  Yikes.  I'm pretty sure the only reason he didn't eat the entire package was because I came in the house.  When I came in the door he greeted me and then put himself in the kennel.  Since he was self punishing himself I figured he had done something naughty.  I quickly assessed the house and found the package of rolls.  When I took his picture, he wouldn't even look at the camera.  I only wish this feeling of shame would fall over him before he does something naughty.
Sunday afternoon I drove back to Jackson to watch a game.  The game was at 2:00 pm and it was incredibly hot...and that's putting it mildly. They won the 2:00 game so they played again at 4:00.  They won that game so they played again at 6:00.  My plan was to take them home after the 2:00 game, but the boys were having so much fun they didn't want to leave.  Aunt Janice graciously offered to meet us on the road Monday morning on our way to St. Louis for Southern Baptist Convention.

We met her in Hayti and then stopped for lunch at Lambert's.  If you find yourself in Sikeston, Missouri you must eat at Lambert's.  Just don't find yourself in Sikeston more than once every couple of years.  Lambert's is home of the throwed rolls and my boys eat it up...the rolls and the throwing of the rolls.

After getting to STL for convention we settled into the hotel and Fred went to some meetings.  The boys and I just hung out at the hotel.  Tuesday we went to convention with Fred all day. It's the boys favorite.  Okay, not really, but that's part of our deal.  If they go to convention with us we will do a couple of fun things with our family.  While we were at convention they did get to see Buster the Bulldog. (The mascot of our alma mater, Union University.)

I even ran into a sweet friend from college.  We got to catch up throughout the day.  It was a sweet surprise. 
Wednesday we dropped Fred at convention and then the boys and I headed to the City Museum. I was not properly dressed for this museum.  The City Museum is like a giant playground.  I wore sandals.  At one point I was dangling by one arm with little to no footing and hoisting Andrew up with my free arm.  Needless to say, I was covered in sweat.  Covered. Which was really them theme of our trip to STL...covered in sweat.
This little climbing adventure was a hike up to the 10 story slide.  Boy was I not prepared for that either.  Goodness. I wish there was a video of me climbing/crawling/scooting in my sandals with my purse.  I'm sure it was quite entertaining.
 I did get in a little reading/sitting while the boys played in the skateboard park area.   That was fun...for them and for me.
Tuesday night we attended a Cardinals baseball game.  Once again with the theme of the trip, it was hot and I was covered in sweat.  Some of us deal with the heat better than others.  Andrew was miserable.

 Andrew was a little better after receiving some refreshment.
 While I left an arm and a leg at the ballpark to provide a refreshing treat for my crew, I did enjoy this popcorn.  It was gourmet caramel and cheddar popcorn and it was delightful.  I, along with my family, enjoyed all $5.25 of that bag.
 This guy was in his happy place.  He loved every single, solitary minute.  Because of him we stayed until the bitter end to watch the Cardinals lose.  Boo.  Did I mention at game time it was 99 degrees and I chose to wear black?!?

The next day was spent at Six Flags.  We had a blast together!  Going to a theme park has become somewhat of a family tradition when we go to convention. Six Flags has a water park as well as an amusement park.

 This is the only time anyone will think we are twins.  Ha!
 This photo was taken on a roller coaster.  I love the look on everyone's faces.  When the big boys rode it with Fred they were holding hands.  Bless my soul it was the cutest things ever.
 We went to the water park in the morning and then did the amusement park after lunch.  We told Andrew we would go back to the water park later in the day.  Well, what I didn't realize was that the water park closed at 6:00 pm.  We got to the gates at 6:01pm...whoops.  Andrew said through tears, "I don't want anyone at Six Flags to hear me, but I am very disappointed in them."  Bless him.  He was very disappointed.

After Six Flags we went to the Mexican Restaurant to celebrate Jack's birthday.  Because after you've been covered in sweat all day and riding roller coaster, Mexican food seems like the logical choice.  

Turning 10 will wear a fella out.

We drove home Friday and then I decided it would be a good idea to invite 7 boys over for Jack's birthday party to a Redbirds game.  What was I thinking?!?  Jack took his first selfie since I was driving. Fred brought everyone else in his car, since we couldn't fit everyone in one car.
 We met a few friends there and sat in the outfield.  It was a beautiful evening to celebrate our sweet guys birthday.