Monday, November 26, 2012

Happy 1st Birthday Charlie!

Today our little guy turned 1 year old.
It doesn't seem possible that he could be 1 already. The days sure do go by quickly and we have enjoyed our days to the fullest with him.

He is a perfect fit to our family and we love him dearly. Charlie is an easy going little guy that enjoys keeping up with his brother and sister. He hasn't started walking yet, but I am sure he will be soon. He walks around when holding onto things and stands on his own in the middle of the room. I can see him processing the thoughts about walking, he just hasn't managed it yet.
He moves at a quick pace in crawling and covers all the territory he desires. Since being back in the States, he has become a champion going up the stairs.

Our family 1 year ago today

He is loved by all, including the children at The Village.

Charlie is great fun, full of smiles, giggles and keeps us running. We are looking forward to another fun year of watching him grow-up. We love you Charlie! 

Birthday Cake Fun

Charlie has his first celebration on Thanksgiving day
with grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles

This was his practice cake for getting messy
Thanks Grandma Susie for the cake!

Today, I made Charlie his 1st Birthday cake 

Charlie dove right for the frosting

you can see that he had both hands in the cake and feeding his face

 We had a fun afternoon watching him eat his cake

Sunday, November 25, 2012



We are so blessed to be back with our family during this special time of year. Our time back has been filled with so many great events, funny comments from the kids, beautiful memories made with our family and so much more.

This time last year I was very pregnant with our little Charlie boy and we were fixing a Thanksgiving supper with our South African friends. We gathered in our house for a great night of food, laughs and light hearted comments about having the British sitting around our table sharing a Thanksgiving meal with us. We have been blessed that our dear South African friends have embraced some of our American holidays with us. There are many traditions we have given up, created many new traditions with our growing family but have also kept some of those important traditions that we grew up with. Thanksgiving has always been one of those special holidays we have continued to celebrate and have always shared this day of Thankfulness with those that are around us.

But this time, this year, we are here to enjoy our mom's cooking, to sit around the table with our families, to eat a lot together, to enjoy the crazy family days, lots of loud cousins playing together and to embrace our new memories. This year we are Thankful to be celebrating Thanksgiving Day in Iowa.

Lindie making pie with grandma

Indian Hats for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving lunch with my parents and sister's family

Liam playing with a few cousins

The late afternoon was spent at Brian's sister's house and we enjoyed Thanksgiving
Supper with Brian's parents, Amy's family and Stephanie's family

Charlie had an early birthday celebration

Lindie and Jael coloring together

Friday, November 2, 2012


We have been back in the States for 6 weeks now. At times it seems like we've been here a lot longer than 6 weeks because we have already traveled more than 6 thousands miles and have been in 10 States along the way.

Counting our blessings.
1. Safety as we have been traveling many miles and for my parents who graciously have given us their van to use while we are back in the States.

2. For the encouraging church meetings we have already had. It is so heart warming to return to a church and hear that so many people have been praying for us and that people really do read our updates we email out.

3. For our family and friends. We have been blessed by all our friends and family. The wonderful get togethers, conversations and reminiscing over old times.

4. Liam and Lindie have LOVED getting to play with cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles-it is such a treat to all of us.

5. We spent almost 2 weeks out East in Ohio and New Jersey area because we had 2 church meetings on consecutive Sundays. Our dear friends in New Jersey graciously blessed us with a week at their home on the Jersey shore. What a wonderful week our family had together. We did nothing but relax for the most part. We were blessed with nice weather allowing us to brave the chilly ocean water and play in the sand.
We also thank the Lord that he guided us to go to New Jersey early in our visit. If we would have been much later the most recent hurricane could have interfered. Now we ask you to keep those along the Jersey shore who are facing great devastation in your prayers. Our dearest friends are praising the Lord as their house was spared from any major damage.

Picking pumpkins at Grandpa's farm

Fun with cousins

Lindie and her cousin Jael

Papa with Charlie-lots of fun for both of them

We stopped in Ohio to visit family on our way to New Jersey. 
Aunt Mary took us on a walk to this water fall. 

Uncle Ed with Lindie and her favorite animal-a donkey

Uncle Ed on the Jersey shore with us at Sea Isle
Thank you Ed and Sue for a wonderful week at the shore.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Birthdays and More Birthdays

We don't just celebrate our birthdays but we celebrate everyones birthday at The Village and we have fun doing it. Once a month we have a birthday celebration to celebrate those that had a birthday that month. We have found that individual parties for each child is a bit overwhelming and have decided that one celebration a month with cake, candy, popcorn, games and gifts is the best for everyone. We try to make it a special day where we all gather together to sing to each child and/or adult and have an organized game time included. When a child is new to The Village this will often be their very first time to celebrate their birthday and we try to make it special.

We want each child to feel loved, secure and special within our big family and we also want them to come to understand that they are special in God's family. Our most important responsibility at The Village is sharing God's love with each child and that includes teaching and showing them what it means to be part of a family. We aren't their biological family but we pray that they will come to know that we will always be here for them as their Heavenly Father is always here for them.

In June we celebrated Allison's 21st birthday. Allison is a very dear friend who has become part of our family. She has spent her last 5 summers with us and pours out her life to each child. She has become part of everyones family when she is with us at The Village. We are excited to see where the Lord leads her in the future and as she finishes her last year in college.

Ma Paddy, a dear lady who has become part of our family and blesses us with her talents and love. Paddy spends much of her time with us, the O'Tool family and the kids at The Village. Paddy always has sweets in her pocket for Liam and Lindie. She graciously gives of her time and resources by teaching our oldest girls how to make jewelry. We celebrated her birthday by surprising her with a cake on the 4th of July. (Her birthday is the 5th)

In August we were blessed to celebrate a very special birthday-Pops turned 76 years old. Pops and Nana are so very precious to our family and especially our children. Pops and Nana are our South African grandparents and they pour every ounce of love and energy they have into them. They give of their time by babysitting when I need to grocery shop, run errands, when we have teams or if I just need to get out. Our kids love being with them-actually they prefer them over us.

It is the people like Ma Paddy, Pop and Nana, and other local friends that help us carry-on our daily tasks and makes it feel like we belong in Welkom. In that last few years, we have really felt the love and connection of those around us locally that have given us the extra encouragement to keep going when the times get tough. God has given us these special friendships and it is so important and needed. We love you and Thank You. 

We also celebrated three special girls in August. Paulina, Lerato and Modiehi all had birthdays and they were celebrated in barbie fashion. We had a team from New Jersey with us to help us with the party and Mallory and Lauire planned the games. This was Modiehi's first time to have her birthday celebrated and to receive gifts. It was heart warming to see her face and to feel her appreciation. 

Mal and Laurie planned a little pin the tail on the donkey, musical chairs and an egg toss game.

As you can see, we have a lot of fun amongst our daily tasks in keeping everything organized at The Village. 

A barbie birthday cake for
Paulina, Lerato and Modiehi

Modiehi, Lerato and Paulina unwrapping their presents

Paulina and her new dress

Modiehi and her present

Papa Revival playing Pin the tail on the donkey

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Donkey Cake for Lindie

I am very behind on keeping things current on our blog for the past few months. We have had a lot of great times and a few things that I must share, even if they are very late.

Lindie turned 3 in August and we had a great time celebrating her day. She started asking me for a donkey cake when Liam had his birthday in May. I thought she would change her mind and I wasn't sure how to make a donkey cake. Well her day came and she still wanted a donkey cake, so I did my best. We don't know how or why she is in love with donkeys but she is and she loved her cake. I also enjoyed making it for her. Making grey cake icing was interesting but it can be done.

We had a small party for her with Nana, Pops and Ma Paddy.
We had a super fun day being with her and giving her extra love.

Pops and Nana gave her 2 gold fish for her birthday

She loves to pretend cook and now she can with lots of play food

Charlie enjoyed her cake also

Happy Birthday Lindie

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

We Are Back in The States

We have been back in The States for 3 weeks already. Our time has already been filled with so many great memories, good family time and a lot of traveling.

The kids did great flying and we were so thankful for that blessing. Even with them sleeping, coloring and being great travelers both of us were exhausted by the time we arrived. Brian and I both really don't remember our last flight from Chicago to Des Moines, but we must have taken it since we did arrive.

At the Joburg airport getting checked-in

Laurie flew out the same day and helped us get through security. 
That is no small task with 3 kids, stroller and bags

Enjoying the first of three flights

Our first five days back we just spent time with our families, letting our kids meet their cousins and get spoiled by the grandparents. We also needed those 5 days to work on getting over the jet lag that our kids seem to struggle with so much when we make these trips. We continued with our family tradition that started when it was just Brian and me by making our first return Wal-Mart trip at an extremely early hour of the morning. This time we didn't get there until 5AM, so not that bad. Still received those strange looks of "why do you have kids here so early". We just ignore those looks and comments and enjoy browsing the isles of cereal, crackers and picking out a new scent of deodorant. When re-entering the Wal-Mart society you need to go when it isn't crowded so you can shop at your leisure and not be pressured to hurry up when you are in someones way. It is a great family tradition. We also go to IHop afterwards and then usually a early morning nap after that.

We have been able to see so many wonderful friends already and have been blessed with two great church meetings. We have already traveled to South Dakota, Ohio and now we are in New Jersey.

A few great lines from our kids that let us know they are more African than American.

From Liam~ In August we had a team from New Jersey at The Village. Eddy is Liam and Lindie's best buddy. He plays with them every spare minute he has and they spend all their time together. Liam wanted to know when we were going to see Eddy when we went back to America. I was trying to explain to Liam that when we go back to America we will go see grandpa and grandma first in Iowa and then later we will go see Eddy in New Jersey. Liam very seriously looked at me and said " I don't need a new jersey, I just want to see Eddy". For our non-South African friends, we call sweatshirts Jerseys in South Africa.

From Lindie ~ She saw a deer outside and asked me if it was a giraffe. She thought peaches were mangos until she tasted it.

From Liam~ Liam thought a squirrel was a meerkat.

I am sure they will provide us with more great laughs and memories.

Enjoying the Fall, picking pumpkins at Grandma and Grandpa's Farm

A little bit of fun with the family at the zoo

Fall fun picking up BIG leaves with Aunt Mary in Ohio