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