Thursday, January 22, 2009

Can't believe we're more than halfway through!

Feb. 1 Spring, Texas 
Feb. 4 Kilgore, Texas
Feb. 6 Conway, Arkansas
Feb. 8 Searcy, Arkansas
Feb. 8  Cave City, Arkansas
Feb. 11 Neosho, Missouri
Feb. 15 Sioux City, Iowa
Feb. 18 Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Feb. 19 Marshalltown, Iowa
Feb. 22 Kansas City, Missouri (love this city!)
Still more cities to come in February...

March 6 Rogers, Arkansas
March 8 Lavaca, Arkansas
March 11 Ferguson, Missouri
March 15 Bentonville, Arkansas
March 15 Prairie Grove, Arkansas
March 22 Owasso, Oklahoma
March 22 Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
March 29 Rio Rancho, New Mexico (the farthest west we will get!)
Still more to come in March, as well...

Maybe it's time for some of you to take a road trip to places like Lavaca, AR and Neosho, MO.  I know all of you out there are dying to visit us in these thriving metropolises in the Land of the Free!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Holiday in Kentucky

There isn't much news except to say that we are in Texas...again (our 3rd trip!).  Other than that, the kids are doing well, and the "routine" (if there is such a thing) is back to normal for the time being.

After our Christmas in Texas, we went to Kentucky for the week of New Year's to stay with my family.  My brother Tripp had never met the kids up to that point and was really looking forward to putting some faces with the names he had been hearing!  We got to stay at my parents' house for a week with the kids.  In typical mother fashion, my mom had planned out our days full of activities for everyone!  It's hard to say who had more fun- my mom or the kids!  

My dad, who is used to cooking amazing meals for our massive family, was amazed by how much food the kids could put away.  I had warned him and tried to help him out with the grocery shopping when we got there, saying, "Dad, I promise that's not going to be enough."  To which he would respond, "Taylor, that's ridiculous.  There's no way they could consume that much."  After the first night (when the kids had licked the pots clean), he understood exactly what I was talking about, and immediately began to scramble around to get more food for the rest of the meals he had planned!

The biggest highlight of the week was taking the kids to the Newport Aquarium outside Cincinnati.  They have been to zoos before with their host families, but none of them had visited an aquarium!  They loved every minute of it...every couple of seconds I would be beckoned again, "Auntie!  Auntie!  Come look at this one!"  "Auntie!  Auntie!  Take my picture with the shark!"  Their delight and wonder was apparant.  There was also a tropical bird exhibit, where Jay proceeded to lure a few of the birds onto his arm.  The kids got as close as they could and then Suresh was able to hold one himself!  The kids also got to pet sharks in a shallow tank.  I'd say "fascination" is the right word in describing their reaction to the jelly fish tanks.  Zurufah called them "Umbrellums," which was her way of saying "umbrellas" even after practicing the correct pronunciation over and over again.  They were very thorough as they looked into all the tanks, making sure they spotted each and every specimen before they moved on to the next display.  My parents' church choir helped us to be able to have that wonderful day, so thank you to the CBC choir!

After that week, Nikki and Stephen (former COTW team leaders and now our supervisor) came to take the team to Missouri while Jay and I got a week off.  We slept until at least 11:00 every day, spent a lot of time laying on couches, and generally relaxing and catching up with family.  It was heaven on earth for us!

My mom with some of the kiddos:
Playing their favorite sport at an indoor soccer field:
Our chaperones, Ashley and Prava
Our other favorite thing to do- swimming at the YMCA:
My love and me on our week off...looking very relaxed, huh?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Build-a-Bear, Build-a-Best Friend

If you've never been to this store, it is a real experience.  It is a seven-step process before the completion of the bear!  When it was our turn, each child would stand at this stuffing machine and watch their animal come to life.  Then the Build-a Bear helper would say to kiss a little red satin heart, make a wish, and then put the heart in the bear.  As you can imagine, my kids ate this up.  They would hold that heart tight to their chest, close their little eyes, and pray for a good twenty seconds before giving up that heart.  Everyone was so deliberate about making sure they did it right (except Isaac, who looked at the woman like she had just lost all her marbles).

After the bears were all sewn up and ready to go, the kids get to go "clean" them under a shower station where they can wash them off underneath a stream of cold air.  Let me tell you, our bears are the cleanest ones around.  The kids "washed" them everywhere and then brushed them down.  After they were thoroughly cleaned, we moved on to the final touch...choosing the perfect outfit!  The girls, of course, gravitated toward anything pink and sequined, while the boys chose military men and soccer players.  Like typical girls, they thought they needed their bears to try on every outfit to see what was the most flattering (which I don't think we were supposed to do...oops!).  I thought we were going to be in there for days.  When their animals were primped, Jay helped the kids print out the birth certificates (after another thorough washing of course...the clothes needed to be clean too!) to make it official.  

I have never seen anything like it.  They were so enthralled with the whole process, and are still completely in love with their animals even weeks afterward.  As I type this, there is a bear in a sailor suit buckled into one of the front seats of the bus (safety first!).  If we have to leave the animals in the bus, the kids say goodnight to them and put them down for a nap.  I will never forget that trip to the mall.  It was the best money we've ever spent!

Isaac getting his bear stuffed:

With our new best friends:

Did you spot the moose in the wedding dress???