Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Last Days of Summer

Since Ella still has not started school, I have been trying to do things with the kids that we will not be able to do once Ella starts going to school every day (crazy!).  Today we packed a picnic lunch and headed to Tuscaloosa to spend the morning with Chloe and Fitz (and of course Aunt Wellon).  And what a fun day we had!  It is so fun now that they are older and Sara Wells is older and they can all actually play together.  

Ella bee-lined straight to Chloe the minute we arrived.
I know that Ella is still a little young, but she is an awesome babysitter!
No child is getting into trouble with her around.
Getting 5 children to look and smile is no easy task.  Especially when the older ones 
think it is funny to watch Mommy and Aunt Wellon make fools of themselves
 Ella to the rescue.
Not one baby got away.
By the time we left the park, Chloe and Fitz were covered in dirt (these were early pictures)
 "Aunt Kim, will you please stop taking my picture!"
 And the little princess stayed did not let a spec of dirt grace her face!
(I felt horrible letting my 20 month old play in the 90 degree heat with polyester dress-up on, but if you would have seen the scene in the car when I tried to take it off, you would have agreed with me that the best option was to leave on the dress-up!!!)








Sunday, August 28, 2011

Without Further Ado...

Ireland Part 1:
Our time in Ireland had three different aspects.  Since I have too many pictures for one blog post, I thought it would be much more manageable and enjoyable (for you) to have three separate posts.  

Murray and I left for Ireland a few days before the rest of the team to spend time with missionaries who just arrived in Greystones a couple of months ago.  In our denomination, the missions organization places a pastor and his wife over the pastoral care for all of the missionaries in a particular country.  Murray and I are the Pastoral Associates for the missionaries in Ireland.  When we were given this role 3 years ago, there was not a team there yet, but there were three families raising support.  Everyone expected to go within the year.  Because Ireland is so expensive and the dollar is weak, it has taken the team much longer to get to Ireland than expected.  The team leader and his wife finally arrived in May!  I cannot tell you how exciting it was for Murray and me to be staying with Kathy and Andy at their house in Ireland.  We have been talking about and praying about this day for a very long time!!!

The second day, after we had slept off a little bit of our jet lag (Murray more than me, I feel asleep every time we got in the car) Andy drove us around the coast of Southern Ireland to show us the towns where they were hoping to start church plants within the next 5 years.  Driving for 2 hours, stopping in cities along the way where there is very little going on for the kingdom and hearing the vision of where they feel God is leading and directing is very exciting!  What a privilege to be a part of spreading God's kingdom from the ground up!  We not only stopped in cities, we also made several scenic stops along the way.  The hardest part was deciding where to stop because, as you might imagine, it was all sooooo beautiful.  

Who would have thought this tiny wooded path
would open up to this!
And why wouldn't there be a beautiful old church in the middle of the field? 
The saying is true, "if you don't like the weather,  wait 20 minutes and it will be different."  We went from hot to cold, beautifully and sunny to dark and cloudy, dry to wet several times during every day.  One of the days I walked into my second story bedroom to change after getting soaked from walking in from town and was blown away by this beautiful rainbow.  It is hard to tell, but if you look very closely you will see that it is a triple rainbow.  The first rainbow is very, very faint about two inches to the left of the bright rainbow.  The other two are right on top of each other.  I have never seen a triple rainbow, nor have I ever seen a rainbow so brilliant.  Every time I see a rainbow I feel such a sense of security knowing that this is God's promise just as much today as it was after the flood.  And he is just as active and present in our world today as he was to Noah and his family in the days of the flood.  
I was going to say, "one of the most fun nights we had..." but we had so many fun nights it is hard to give it that title.  Just know it was a very fun night!  Over the past 3 years we have developed a very close relationship with the pastor of Greystones Presbyterian and his wife.  Gwen and Monty took us to the best pub!  It was literally in the middle of the mountains (for those of you familiar with Ireland, it was somewhere in Sally's Gap).  We drove for 20 minutes on tiny, tiny roads, twisting and turning.  And then out of nowhere pops this very famous, very old pub.
The music was great, which was expected.  
The biggest surprise was how fantastic the food was.  
I took this next picture for Miller.  He is obsessed with snails and I knew 
he would just love the fact that we ate snails for dinner.
Murray's favorite thing to do and what he always dreams about is sailing.  Every year we always talk about how much fun it would be to sail in the Irish sea, but we never have a minute to spare.  I thought Saturday morning would be the perfect time to try to plan a trip if we were ever going to do it because the team would be arriving a little before noon, so we would have some free time.  Monty pulled some strings for me and got a sailing trip lined up for us for Saturday morning.  Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate and we did not get to go sailing :(.  However, since we stayed in town we did get to see the Greystones Triathlon.  Murray and I would normally enjoy watching a random triathlon, but this race was very exciting because we actually knew one of the triathletes!  And he was a top ten finisher this year.
Being at that race was one (of many) of the highlights for the trip for both of us because we were in this small costal town in Ireland and we actually knew people at the race!  Not only did we know them, we knew the stories of how God has been working in their lives over the past three years.   

We turned around, and there was our friend Mandy 
making the most amazing crepes!  
So often you go on mission trips and you don't get to know the impact that you have and how God is going to grow those seeds that you have planted.  So, to be a part of a team that continues to go back and continues to be a part of the work that God is doing is a blessing beyond measure.  God does not have to use me to accomplishes His purposes, but I am so blessed that He does!



Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lake Trip

Murray and I got back from Ireland Monday night and early Wednesday morning I headed to Tennessee to see my brother, sister-in-law and nephew.  I got a call from my brother about two days before we left for Ireland saying they just found out they were able to stay at his friend's lake house for the Mon-Fri after we got back.  If you remember over the last 6 months, we have had to cancel two trips to visit them in Iowa at the last minute.  There was no way I was going to miss this opportunity.  Surprisingly, the jet lag was not that bad.  One afternoon I actually managed to get all three kids to take a nap with me - small miracle - and that really helped.  

One thing I discovered on this trip is that our girls love adventure.  Sara Wells has been on the SeaDo before, but she REALLY loved it this trip.  My brother was shocked to see her temper flare up when he tried to end her turn.

And they're off...
And, Sara Wells would have nothing to do with going slow.
She had Uncle Rich zooming her around the lake.
Ella was not about to be outdone by her sister!
Look at those waves she is making!
 The kayak was another big source of entertainment for the kids.
 Parker chauffeured us around for the week.  
Another thing we could not get Sara Wells off of.
 The  cousins.  Can you tell they are related?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

New Stages

We are finally back!   We got back late Monday evening and then Wednesday morning the kids and I headed to Tennessee to visit my brother and family who were visiting from Iowa.  The Ireland trip was great!  Again this year we were amazed at how the Lord continues to bring more and more families to the VBS.  This year we had over 100 kids!  And no rain.  No rain in Ireland!  It was very clear to everyone that the Lord had his hand over our week.  I am just beginning to go through all of our pictures, I will have more on our trip over the next few days.  

Tuesday night we entered into a new stage of life.  Ella lost her first tooth!  I really cannot believe that she is already loosing teeth!  It was pretty loose before we left, but stayed in until we got home (I really don't know if I could have handled her loosing her first tooth while we were gone!).  It was extremely loose all day, to the point that I was a little nervous she would swallow it.  But Ella did not really like wiggling it.  When Murray got home, he got Ella very excited about how loose her tooth was.  I think mainly because he could not bear the thought of not being with Ella when she lost her first tooth.  He not only got her excited about how close she was to loosing her tooth, he helped her out a little bit and tugged just a little bit.  From that moment on Ella did not leave her tooth alone.  
It took about three or four minutes until Ella tugged her tooth out.
 To say that she was excited is an understatement!
Look at that cute little smile.
Ella ran straight to her bed so she could go to sleep and the Tooth Fairy could come.  
 Ella put her tooth in a bag, making sure it would not get lost during the night,
then placed it perfectly under her pillow
 and waited eagerly for the Tooth Fairy.

I know that it does not seem out of the ordinary that Ella is wearing a leotard, Ella takes every opportunity to dress up.  But Tuesday Ella started gymnastics again.  We took a year off because it got too crazy trying to keep a two and a half year old and an eight month old contained during Ella's gymnastics class.  Murray and I agreed that if Ella really wanted to start back we would, but if it was something she did not miss, it was easier to do without.  About a month ago out of the blue Ella said, "Mommy, I really want to take gymnastics again."  Since that day, we have been all about gymnastics.  I have never seen Ella light up about something like she does with gymnastics.  The day we went to the gym to sign up, we watched the team practice for about 20 minutes.  Ella cried (I mean brokenhearted, really cried) for 30 minutes after we left because she did not get to stay and do gymnastics with the big girls.  I don't know how long it will last, but I think gymnastics is Ella's love.  It has been a long month waiting for gymnastics to start, but the day finally came!
And Ella is on cloud nine!  This is how we will be spending our Tuesday afternoons for the next year.  And then every free moment at home :)  It is so fun to watch your child discover what she really loves and put her whole heart into it.  We are in full gymnastics mode at the Lee House!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Soap

Just as I was trying to think of something that the kids could make for Granna for her birthday, I saw instructions on how to make soap.  The directions looked surprisingly easy and very manageable, even  with 3 small kids.  And believe it or not, it was actually just as easy as the directions made it look.
What you need:  
Soap block (Michael's)
Microwave safe bowl
Molds (I bought a few and then dug through my recycle bin.  
My favorites were actually from the yogurt cup)
Scents (I used citrus and vanilla.  They are in the same isle as the soap)
Pretty things to "float" in your soap

Ella and Miller each came up with what they wanted to put in their soap.  Ella decided on pretty flowers from around our yard to remind Granna of us at our house.  Miller decide a roach and his dinosaur would be perfect for reminding Granna of him.
Melt 4 oz of soap per bar.  I would suggest only doing one bar at a time.  

Put in microwave for 40 sec.  Stir.  Then microwave at 10 second intervals, stirring in between, until soap is completely melted.  

Add a scent (you may need a few more drops than you think, it is not quite as strong once the soap hardens).   

Pour the melted soap in mold.  

Put your choice objects in the soap (have to work kind of fast, soap starts to solidify faster than you would think).  

I wish we would have added some color to the soap, but when your work environment is this
 
you do the least amount of steps to accomplish the end goal!  Next time we will add color to our soap and wait until SW is taking a nap:)  Although she did have fun watching the flowers change colors and seeing mom very delicately deal with the roach with out gaging.

Miller's Soap
Ella's Soap
Very well received gift!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Black Eyed Pea Humus

This recipe is straight from Southern Living and is always a big hit.  Just adds a little variety from normal humus.  Here is what you need:
1 can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained 
2 tablespoons tahini (tahini is ground sesame seeds, you can either find it with peanut butter or with the asian food)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper (I used red pepper flakes)
3 tablespoons water
Paprika

Process first 9 ingredients in a food processor until blended, stopping to scrape down sides.  Gradually add 3 tablespoons of water for desired consistency.  Cover and chill at least an hour.  Drizzle with olive oil and paprika before serving.
I figure if the black eyed pea humus passes this picky taste tester, it is worth passing on.  It is great with pita chips, tortilla chips and vegetables.
Gotta love this cute little girl.  This is why in so many of our pictures Sara Wells hair is in her face.  I do try to keep it out of her eyes.  I fix her hair every morning.  But it is inevitable that she always reaches up and pulls it out.  Even rubber bands do not deter her.  Oh my, what are we going to do with this little mess?