Friday, December 28, 2007

San Diego

We've moved on to our next stop in Glendora at my sister Traci's family, but what a great week we had in San Diego with Alisha's brother's family and her parents at her brother's house. Her brother has 3 boys too (TJ 10, Tyler 8 & Jake 5) so there was much chaos with dirt bikes, trampoline wars and dart gun fights, but we all had just a great time visiting.
We went Sea World, walked the tidepools with the seals in La Jolla, had a great Christmas opening a house full of gifts and capped it off with a trip to Legoland on the last day. The boys were in 7th heaven - I think they'd live at Uncle Brian and Auntie Shannon's house if they had their choice - it is the perfect setup for boys.
We thought Graysen may have slightly fractured his lower left leg after a gnarly fall on the trampoline Christmas Eve, but he seems to be limping around on it ok now. Otherwise, we enjoyed the mid-60's weather - a far cry from the 20's and 30's and snow we see Medford had for Christmas! We went to Starbucks one day and I was wearing my North Face jacket. The girl behind the counter said, "Oh, your jacket reminds me of Oregon! I go to Portland State!" It was a nice moment to see someone from our homeland!
So here's a FUNNY STORY! Because Alisha and I both have terrible memories, we have a word document where we enter the funny or cute things the boys say...this entry is one of the best on that list! On Christmas morning, Alisha, her mom, Brodie and I had been searching for over 20 minutes for the instruction booklet for a lego set Brodie got from Santa and we were all getting frustrated and wondering if the set even came with a booklet. Brodie was walking around pouting about how sad he was that he couldn't find it, and we were all losing hope of finding it. So I said to Brodie, "Are you sure you've seen it before?" "Yes!" "Well when was the last time you saw it?" "I was looking at it over here and then it fell behind here (pointing to a basket) and I haven't seen it since!" "WHAT?!!" I said, "Do you think you could have mentioned that critical piece of information 30 minutes ago?!" As I was saying this, Brodie promptly walked over, reached behind the basket and pulled out the booklet, exclaiming with a completely innocent, surprised glee, "Hey, I found it!" We all hit the floor in laughter.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

New Banner!

Thanks to Alisha's brother Brian for laying out our new blog banner! He's the master at Photoshop.
This is a picture of Brian and Graysen at Legoland yesterday!
***1 month from today we fly out of SFO for Uganda!! Getting excited.***

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Last day of school

This is out of order, but we wanted to include some of the pictures from Brodie, Jonah & Graysen's last day of school. Graysen & Jonah's classes had a singing presentation up front in the main sanctuary at First Presbyterian in downtown Medford. For some reason, Graysen felt embarrassed to be up in front of 50 people even though he was anything but just 4 days earlier up in front of nearly 1000 people at church - 3 times! So he stood up there looking scared most of the time.
Jonah held true to form and belted out every last word during his performance, with a confidence that definitely exceeded his talent level! His showmanship was top notch though, and we were as proud as could be of our little wailer. We were sad to say goodbye to their teachers as well - Mrs. Mayfield and Mrs. Fort who hold a special place in the boys' hearts.
Brodie's last day was very special as well. In the morning, Mrs. Staff's class did a lesson on Christmas in Africa. In the afternoon, Mrs. Jenn's class played a slide show of Brodie and his class, and also presented Brodie with some gifts from the students and the teachers. We were all invited to watch the slide show and gift giving at the end of the day. It was such a nice way for Brodie to say goodbye, we were very taken back by the extra effort put in by his teachers to make his last day so special. Alisha and I were both fighting back the tears as we were sad to leave his awesome teachers and classes that he loved so much. Brodie went around and gave each kid a hug in his class before we left. The pictures are of: Brodie and Miss Jenn opening his gifts; Brodie and Miss Kim, his aide; Brodie and Lexy, Miss Kim's daughter and playground friend; Jonah and his class on stage; Graysen standing with his class, frozen with stage-fright (striped-shirt with hand in his mouth).

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Monday, December 17, 2007

The Sights & Sounds of moving...

Well, I suppose sounds doesn't really apply. But we're on the road finally after 6 weeks of moving out of our house, scarce sleep and dry and splitting hands. It was a very sad goodbye to Medford and our treasured friends there. Our last night was memorable as we stayed up until 2am hanging out with the Sampsons and playing Karaoke (yep, they actually got Alisha to sing!). We are really going to miss the people we've met and grown to love in our adopted hometown of Medford. God-willing, we'll be back someday!
We love Oregon and we love Medford. But for now, we've begun our trek into California to visit family and friends down here. We just finished 4 days in Davis staying at our longtime friends from college the DeJong's house and visiting with family as well. We went to basketball games - my brother Bret's KU Pelicans took 3rd place in the Dixon tournament, which pitted my dad's alma mater (Dixon, '57) vs. my mom's alma mater (KU, '57) in the semifinals. Like my dad said, he's been waiting 50 years to settle this argument once and for all, and now that's it's finally here, he has to root for KU!! (Dixon won 57-54 in a squeaker).
For now we've moved on to the bay area, where we've unloaded the U-Haul at Alisha's parent's house. All of our stuff for Africa (2 large suitcases each and a carryon) is now in the Berry's garage in Castro Valley, while we travel south for the next 3 weeks. We leave for San Diego early Thursday morning at 4am to spend a week at Alisha's brother Brian's house - our first visit to their place down there. We're excited to spend good time with family, but lingering in the back of our minds is that twinge of sadness as we know that the end of each stop along this trip means more goodbyes to loved ones. Looking forward we're excited for the adventure, but the sadness of goodbyes is inescapable.
In Africa, we're trying to rent a house that they found for us that is currently gutted but will be worked on once it's rented. The upside is it is huge and would be perfect for housing visitors, as is our hope! The walled-in yard is also quite large too, which would be so nice for the boys to have a place to play. But the best part is, it's within sight of the eMi office, so I would be in walking distance of home! They were asking an unusually high rent though, so we're trying to get them to accept about 30% less. We shall see...
The pictures: our U-haul train; moving takes its toll on, I mean, that's me in deep prayer; two heroes during moving - neighbor Joan who helped in every way possible, from painting to watching the kids to letting us pile trash in her bin, and our other neighbors and dear friends the Carroways, who also took the boys off our hands at some critical points (Amanda is our regular babysitter); we took a ride with the Dejong kids on '1014', the oldest double decker bus from London running in Davis on its last day of operation before it is retired due to failing emissions standards; and finally, the boys with the Darke kids at the park in Davis. Ryan and Kim and their 3 kids, and Phil and his 3 kids all drove out from Roseville and Folsom respectfully to hang out before we depart; the boys, after playing hard at the park with the Darkes, and after 4 days straight of going to bed after 11pm!

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Heading out...

Well, the house is down to about 99% packed up and we're preparing to head out of town on Thursday. My last day of work was on Nov. 30th, and since then it's been a mad rush to get the house packed and into storage in time, while trying to spend as much time with friends and family here as possible.
Thursday we said goodbye to our bible study ("link group"), then Friday night we had a going away dinner with Mark & Barbara from my office. Today was kind of a sad day, as in the morning we said goodbye to our wonderful church family. They brought us up in front of the congregation to officially 'send us off' and pray for us. The boys shared in all 3 services about what we will be doing in Africa. There is not a shy bone in any of their 3 little bodies. They raced to see who could get up on stage first, and then fought for "mic-time"! Both Pastor Ron and Pastor Tom prayed for us at the 3 main services. It was so nice and comforting for us to be sent out in this manner, with the prayers of nearly a couple thousand people, many of whom are dear friends.
Right after the last service, we packed up the car with our cat Kitty and her things and headed to Klamath Falls to drop her off at cousin Molly and husband Ryan's house. They have graciously agreed to keep Kitty for us while we are away. They have 3 young children close in age to our boys, so Kitty should feel at home. Kitty seemed to love their house, as there were lots of places to hide and window sills to look out from. But, saying goodbye was hard, since we've had her for 11 1/2 years. Alisha and I got her the first few months after we came to Medford in 1996, less than a year after we were married. The boys were pretty sad, and Alisha had a hard time saying goodbye too - but we couldn't have found a better place for her to be, (cousins Molly and Ryan were so kind to offer to keep her) so that's comforting.
This week will be pretty hectic - moving is always a big chore, but moving out of the country is on a whole other level - I've said it's almost like we're ceasing to exist in many ways, since we're not just forwarding everything to our next home.
One exciting thing to report is that we found out yesterday that we have renters! We are so thankful that God has taken care of this detail now too! We were really hoping to have it rented before we left town, so that was very exciting news to receive!
Ok, back to packing, or bed, or whatever else is on the schedule.
Our lives are in such dissarray at this point, we keep asking each another what we're doing at that moment and what we're supposed to do next! We're hanging in there, but the physical stretching is definitely making the emotional strecthing a little more tricky to contend with!
So thank you for all your prayers - we'll need them these next several weeks as we say more goodbyes to family and friends and transition from life in the U.S. to life overseas.
We fly out of SFO on Jan 27 and arrive in Entebbe, Uganda on the 29th.

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