Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Vancouver, CANADA

June 10, 2010

We woke up early and packed up the camp gear. For breakfast we ate Tim Horton’s Donuts which are suppose to be famous throughout Canada. We were not disappointed. They were yummy. We caught a 11:00 ferry from Victoria to Vancouver. Then we drove through Vancouver to Ellensburg, Washington for another night’s stay with our friends, the Mongrains.

Victoria Island, CANADA

June 9-10, 2010

At 12:00 we caught a ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria Island, B.C. Once in Canada we met up with one of our former TIME interns. She took us to Butchardt Garden (where she works). That evening we ate dinner at her house and met her parents and sisters. After dinner we set up out tent at Goldstream Campground in a beautiful wooded area. It was a record camp set up – just 30 minutes! We were all ready for bed at 10:00, just after the sun went down (isn’t that so late!).

Monday, June 28, 2010

Bainbridge Island, WASHINGTON

June 7-9, 2010

We drove to Seattle (where I was born) Monday and picked up a dear friend, Donna. Donna was our neighbor and her daughter, Marit, who was 12 at the time, became my first babysitter. When I was 2 years old my family moved to Hawaii, but still kept up a relationship with Marit and Donna. We travelled often to visit them and they came to Hawaii many times to see us. After years of friendship evangelism, Donna had the privilege of seeing my mother accept Christ.

The last time we had visited was December 1994. Donna and Marit came to my wedding in 1998, but of course we didn’t have a chance to really talk. It is always special for me to be around those who knew my mother and especially wonderful to be around those who had such a special place in my mother’s heart. Donna and Marit had put together some pictures of me, my mom and dad and Donna even gave me a cassette tape of my mother’s testimony from 1980 that I will treasure.

We spent that evening and the following day visiting about Seattle, Hawaii, Paraguay, Texas and Kenya (where Marit and her family recently lived for three years). We did take the kids to a wonderful park with wild bunny rabbits and ducks.

Donna (who led my mom to the Lord) and Marit (my first baby sitter)

Micah and Tyler cooking with new friends

Ellensburg, WASHINGTON

June 4 – 7, 2010

We left James’ house Saturday morning at 9:00 and began our 8 hour journey to Ellensburg, Washington where we have been the past three days. We are staying with a family met in residency. In addition, two other families from residency days (who now live within a 4 hour radius) came in for these days too. The weather was beautiful which meant all 13 kids could play outside (our friends bowered a bouncy castle which was a HUGE hit). The day we went swimming (indoors) was also a big hit with the kids.

The adults had a wonderful time of fellowship over the three days. We spent time in worship and prayer together which made the time ever sweeter. We praise God for the way he has blessed us with such encouraging friends.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Ashland, OREGON

Thursday, June 4, 2010

We left our friend’s house after lunch and arrived in Ashland, Oregon dinner time. James spent a year in Harlingen while we lived there on a medical rotation. We got to know him pretty well. We attended the same church and helped with the youth group together. Plus, Jeff and I always joked that James had the uncanny timing of always visiting us around the dinner hour. We hadn’t seen him in 6 years and it was nice to catch up.

Rancho Cordova, CALIFORNIA

Wednesday, June 3, 2010

We must have been tired because we slept till 9:00! After taking down the tent and packing the car back up, we headed to our friend’s house about 3 hours away. We went to college with Michael and Jill, but we really got to know them in Lubbock where Jeff and Michael were in medical school together and Jill and I were in nursing school together. We hadn’t seen them since 2000, so we had a lot to catch up on. Our kids and their three kids had fun together.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Tuesday, June 2, 2010

This morning we left San Francisco and arrived mid-afternoon in Yosemite. We hiked the Lower Falls Trail. Yosemite Falls is the tallest falls in the US and the 5th in the world. It was quite spectacular. I’m not sure I have seen anything quite so beautiful. The rivers and forests, huge rock formations and waterfalls were breathtaking! The kids loved climbing fallen trees e kids loved seeing the snow/ice and insisted on having and ice ball fight.

We arrived at Dry Gulch Campground (just outside of Yosemite) and set up the tent just before nightfall. We ate hot dogs and drank hot chocolate and then went to bed. Earlier in the day as we were following the river, Ginny said that she hoped our camp site was right by the water…and her desire came true. We were just 20 feet from the water. It was such a peaceful sound as we drifted to sleep. This campsite was a bit more Little House on the Prairie-ish. It was more secluded. We washed our dishes in the river.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

San Francisco, CALIFORNIA

Alcatraz Island

We loved the sea lions

Looking out over the SF bay

The Golden Gate Bridge

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Today we drove 9 hours from Vegas to San Francisco. We arrived at 7:30, checked into our hotel and walked a block to yummy Chinese food.

Monday, June 1, 2010

Today we caught a 10:00 ferry to Alcatraz Island. What an incredible tour! First, a very animated told us stories of those who tried to escape while inmates at the prison and then we did an audio tour of the prison which was so informative (try keeping up with 5 kids who all have headphones on in a big crowd).
Next, we spent time on Pier 39…marveling at the many shops, seeing the sea lions lounging on the bay, and eating lunch. We walked quite a ways down the bay front and then took a trolley (Ginny calls it a Charlie) back to our car. San Francisco was such an interesting place; everything seemed so picturesque and full of life.
After driving across the Golden Gate Bridge, we got back to our hotel at 6:30. Even though it was 60 degrees outside, the kids desperately wanted to swim in the outdoor (thankfully heated) pool.

PS Ginny lost her 6th tooth in SF!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Las Vegas, NEVEDA

May 28-29, 2010

FRIDAY - After 6 hours in the car we finally arrived in Las Vegas. We would have arrived sooner but we spent 1 ½ hours in near standstill traffic at the Arizona/Nevada border. We did enjoy seeing the Hoover Dam.

Our hotel is called the Golden Nugget (the kids call it the Golden Chicken Nugget). It is, like everything else in Las Vegas, huge, elaborate and gaudy. We felt out of place and a bit like the Griswalds in Vegas Vacation as we walked through the lobby with jaws wide open. Remember, we came straight from camping and hadn’t had a shower in 4 days. Ginny’s hair stuck up like Pippi Longstockings, Micah had no shoes, Joshua’s feet were black, Ryan had smudges on his face and Tyler’s shirt was torn and filthy (Jeff and I didn’t look so fresh either).

It was 7:00 by the time we checked in and we immediately headed to the pool (it closed at 8:00). The pool is awesome and the very reason Jeff chose this particular hotel. The final part of the three water story slide allows you to travel in a clear tube through a shark infested aquarium. The aquarium sits in the center of the pool so you feel as if you are swimming with these killers.

After we showed (the simple pleasures in life), we went to find food. As we stepped out of the hotel, we were immediately met with a million lights and people. Ryan said, “I don’t think I could ever get use to this.” Ginny commented, “I have never seen anything like this before!” We found a seafood buffet and discovered another benefit to Ginny being short. The waitress told us that 4 years and under were free. We told her that just one of our kids qualified. She looked at Ginny and said, “She looks 4.” We replied, “She’s 8.” The waitress said, “I’ll give her a free buffet since she looks 4 years old.” So we all ate fried shrimp, fresh shrimp, crab legs, sushi, etc till we were stuffed. My husband ate his weight in crab legs!
When I told the kids that there are 10 times as many weddings here in Nevada than any other state Ryan said, “Why would anyone want to get married in a place called Sin City?” Joshua said, “Now I know why they call this place Sin City….because everyone is smoking.” While out, Micah pointed to a man and laughed, saying, “Look! That guy has a candle in his mouth!” (It was a cigarette.)
We got back to the hotel at 11:00 and everyone crashed. It was good to be in a bed.

SATURDAY – We started our morning with donuts. When Micah saw the Dunkin Donuts sign he got real excited and exclaimed, “Hey! It’s like Donut Day!” (We do donuts once a week as a family). The rest of the morning we went swimming in the Shark Tank and then in the afternoon we walked (and walked…and walked….and walked) the Las Vegas strip. We went in New York New York, Excalibur, MGM (kids loved the mechanical animals in the Rain Forest CafĂ©), the Luxor, and Circus Circus. We spent the most time in Circus Circus watching the various shows (we all agreed that the juggler on stilts was the best), playing carnival games, and at Adventure Land. In Adventure Land, Ryan and Jeff rode a big roller coaster, Tyler and Micah soared on an airplane ride and Ginny and Joshua spun forwards and backwards on a disc ride.
By 7:00 we were exhausted and hungry so we headed back to the same buffet as the night before. It turned out to be another late night for us all and another night where we fell into bed exhausted.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Grand Canyon, ARIZONA

May 25-28, 2010

Day #2 (Tuesday, May 25) we drove another 10 hours through New Mexico to Grand Canyon, Arizona. The kids did pretty well in the car. We brought along homeschooling books which fills time. Music and books on CD also help the hours pass quicker.

We arrived at our camp ground mid-afternoon and were reunited with the Elliott Family. The Elliott’s served with us in Paraguay for 2 years and are now serving in Mexico. What a blessing it was to be able to see them again and get to know their teammates (the Neufelds) who also came along. We absolutely loved hearing about their new ministry and catch up on life.

Jeff camped a lot as a kid with his family and through Boy Scouts, but I never did. When Ryan was 18 months we went camping (my very first time) in West Texas. Can’t say that we had a great time. It was hotter than hot, the Lake was dried up, Ryan was on the go the entire time and wouldn’t nap…and then….it rained that first night and we discovered our tent was no longer water proof. Drenched, we took shelter and semi-slept the rest of the night in the car. In the morning, we threw the tent in the trash and drove home exhausted.

When we realized that we’d be able to ship our car to Paraguay and fill it with whatever we want, we decided to invest in camping equipment (including a 10 man tent, chairs, sleeping bags and a camp stove) in order to be able to take more affordable vacation in Paraguay. Our West Coast trip provided a great opportunity to begin. So, this is our first time to camp as a family and we all were all pretty excited.

We all had so much fun. Ryan’s favorite part about camping was eating s’mores and making new friends, Ginny loved the hammock and roasting hot dogs, Joshua loved being by the fire and Tyler and Micah loved playing in the dirt the most. As we sat down to eat our first camp meal, Joshua said, “Let’s pretend we’re living in the 1820’s.” Ginny said, “This is just like Little House on the Prairie”.
Over the three days, the kids played so hard and stayed busy exploring, riding bikes, playing games and just being kids that by 9:30 each night they were exhausted. Never have I seen so many kids (11 in all) begging to go to bed! It was great!

It got pretty cold at night. We had to bundle up in jackets, gloves and hats to sleep comfortably. I, being 7 ½ months pregnant, slept surprisingly well on the air mattress. It was a very dirty camp spot and we all got filthy…kind of reminded me of life in Paraguay (except the dirt wasn’t red). After 4 days of dirt, I was ready to get my family clean and take a shower.

Wednesday, May 26th we went to 2 scenic spots at the Grand Canyon (Joshua kept calling it the Great Canyon). Wow! How wonderful to marvel at creation that points to a marvelous Creator! Thursday, May 27th we saw the Grand Canyon from an air-conditioned IMAX theater and that evening we went back to the Canyon to see the sunset.

click on the photos and they will enlarge for you to see better.

El Paso, TEXAS

Monday, May 24, 2010

Day #1 of our travels was spent in El Paso, Texas after being on the road 10 hours (not too many states can boast a sign saying El Paso 436 miles). We were all glad to get out of the car, check into the hotel, swim and eat pizza pool side during the remaining daylight hours. after showers, we all relaxed while watching a movie together.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Happy 12 years!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday Jeff and I celebrated 12 years as husband and wife! My husband is a blessing to me in more ways than I could ever could have imagined or put into words. How sis we celebrate? Well, we spent the day packing (our 5 week West Coast trip starts tomorrow) and we took the family out for Mexican food that night.


Sunday, May 22, 2010

Ginny had her recital and she did a wonderful job. She tapped to Can’t Buy Me Love and did a ballet routine to Fly Me to the Moon.


While Tyler’ class was singing and dancing during Sunday school, Tyler stood still. His teacher went up to him and said, “Can you wiggle like this?” Tyler replied, “No. If I do that my pants will fall down!” Oh, the joys of hand-me-downs…..