Finally taking a breath…

I’m totally overwhelmed by how much I’ve neglected to post about on our blog!  Pretty sure the last time I posted was…I don’t remember right now.  Ok, I just looked.  Easter.  As in…April.  I can’t play catch up with all of the small things, but here are a couple of the very big things that happened since then…

We took an amazing trip to Washington DC in May.  It was just a family vacation, and it lasted just a week.  Justin and I both came back feeling horrible about being in Peru…how’s that for honesty?  Not horrible in the sense that we hate it here, or horrible in the sense that we don’t like our work here, but a week in DC was like a teaser.  It was wonderful, and everything we wanted it to be…just not long enough.  We saw my sister, her husband, and my parents.  We tried to do a ton and see a lot (which we did, and it was fun!), but we also tried to do some (ok, i tried to do a lot) shopping for things we wanted and needed for life here in Peru, so that took up some of our time as well.  If mom and dad had not been there a few days, we would never have accomplished everything on my to do list.  Justin is always so wonderful about going along with the things I really want to “get done” while in the States.  Seriously.  Best husband award there!  I think we probably did a good job of splitting time between shopping trips and sightseeing, but it was still hard to have just those few days.  I was hoping to link my facebook photo album of DC here, but I can’t figure it out.  Sorry.  You can got to my facebook page to see it them.  In addition to what you see in the photos, we had a blast just hanging out as a family, talking, eating together, touring my sister’s workplace, praying, and laughing a ton!  As of now, Justin and I are certainly feeling more settled into Peru again, and we’re feeling like life is smoothing over a bit since having moved…and that brings me to our next venture…

We moved.  After returning from DC we were in full swing with looking for a new home.  We knew that God was just calling us to make a change, and we felt that there was a specific neighborhood He was calling us to look in.  So, we had told our landlords of 3 years before we left for DC that we would not be renewing our contract on the house come June 5th this year, and we had also packed about 60% of our house up before our trip as well.  We had looked a few times in this neighborhood (that we now live in!) for places, but we’d only seen “duds” and things that were just not workable for our family up until then.  So, when we got back from our trip we began to look again.  I guess it was about 2 weeks before we had to be out of our house that we finally found a place to move into in this very neighborhood that we felt was right.  It had begun to feel a bit stressful toward the end of our time in our contract with our previous home before we found this place that we live in now, but honestly it was nothing compared to the stress we were about to feel during our moving process.

A few facts about our new place in comparison to our old home:

  • We used to have a huge yard, and now we live on the 2nd floor of an apartment building
  • We used to have an entire roof with a large room on it that we could store things in, and now our storage space is about an 1/8 of that size.
  • The kids’ old rooms were huge and had plenty of room for each of them, and now, while Cailyn’s room is big enough (mostly), Corban’s room is what took the biggest hit (haha).  It’s literally about the size of a small walk-in closet.  Like…small.
  • We used to have a very large activity/school room that was very convenient and easy to use.  Now our activity/school room is about the size of Corban’s room.  I’ve had to be creative to say the least.
  • Our old kitchen was way larger than we needed, and now I can literally stand in the middle of the kitchen and touch nearly everything around me.

Sounds insane, right?!  Well, having said all of that, I do need to add that we actually do love our new place.  Yes, we saw it before we signed a contract (haha), and we were definitely in the market for something smaller than what we previously had.  BUT…I cannot lie and say that it’s been all easy as far as transitioning to this new place has gone.

We got keys to our apartment probably about a week before our other contract was out, and a couple of nights later we were sleeping here.  Unfortunately, Justin had to make sure our entire other home was freshly painted, inside and out as well as clean, not to mention do MULTIPLE things in order to make sure that our new apartment could hold all of our things!  He spent the next week or so going back and forth between our old house and this apartment (about a 15-30 min. drive depending on what time of day and traffic) doing projects.  The kids and I did our best to begin to move in, but being nearly 30 weeks pregnant made things a bit tough.  We also had to install shelving to make our activity room even have a prayer of working out storage wise as well as transform the small bathroom connected to it into a storage closet for all that we’re blessed to have in the way of activity/school resources.  Justin enlisted help from our male teammates to do things like install light fixtures and do electrical work in each room, install kitchen cabinets up top in our kitchen (since it had only lower cabinets), get our storage space door fixed so it would lock (as in…take it off it’s hinges, have some old man solder (yes, i just looked that word up and it’s spelled correctly…who knew?!) a new piece on, and bring it back home), organize everything we eventually needed to store downstairs, decide what we didn’t have room for and shove it all into our guest shower for a garage sale we’ve yet to have (it’s PACKED!), and just generally do a ton of random stuff to make this place work.  Our to-do list is smaller now, but still fairly long.  Now the things we’ve got left are more like “we still need to do this, but we can function without it being done” types of things.  It was all very overwhelming.  We argued a lot, I have to say.  Mostly because he was working his tail off and exhausted and I was sort of having breakdowns about every couple of hours days.  Believe me, I wasn’t having some of my proudest moments.  Despite this, Justin was very gracious, understanding, and he continued to work hard and as fast as he could to make our maze of a walk-way in our new home more of a bare floor.

Now that it’s all happened, I think I’ve come to realize that while we knew the small (very small) space was going to be a big change, we were ready for it.  But, I was not personally ready for the craziness that came once we realized we had WAAAAAYYY more stuff in our other house than would easily fit into our new place.  We had to be creative as well as purchase stand alone storage for areas of our new apartment that were “built-in” in our prior home.  It just took time…well, and a few emotional moments of realizing we had to sell more stuff than we originally thought we would.

So, here is a list of the things that I love about our new place:

  • I don’t have to call from one floor to another floor of the house to get anyone’s attention.
  • When I’m cooking and the kids are watching TV or a movie, I can hear everything that they’re talking (sometimes arguing) about.
  • My kitchen takes me like 15 mintues to completely clean/wipe down after any given meal…as opposed to the sometimes 30 min. or more it would take to clean my other one.
  • I am 10 steps away from the kids in their activity room while cooking dinner (as opposed to a floor away like our house).
  • Our rooms now have short carpet, and vacuuming them is much faster than sweeping the endless amount of floor space we had in our house.
  • I can sweep the entire house, vacuum, dust, and start a load of laundry in probably a 1/4 of the amount of time it took me to do that before (I nearly never attempted to do all of that in one day in our other house…it was just too big).
  • I feel a bit more intimate with my family here…we’re all very close in proximity. 😉
  • I must keep my tone and voice volume in check a little more now with my kids since we’re in an apartment complex and I know our neighbors can hear us at some level.  Is that way too much of a confession?
  • Our rent is cheaper!

I still have emotional moments as we continue to get used to living here.  We are driving way longer and in a lot more traffic to get the kids to school than we did before, so I’m working through some raised driving stress.  Like, I honk my horn and make comments out loud to other drivers a lot more.  I’m working through that…hehe.  I also realized just today that the minute I drive back into our old neighborhood I immediately feel like I’m more “at home” than I do where I’m at now.  This morning I did more in 2 hours over there (near my old house) than I could EVER have done now in our new neighborhood due to traffic and availability of the stores I need.  But, after talking to my mom on skype tonight, I was reminded that I cannot compare the two areas, and with time I know I will find my new niche over here.  I am also learning the ins and outs of having a kitchen with only cold water.  It’s something my teammates lived with for 3 years nearly until they recently moved, and I can say I admire them even more now!

So, in these last couple of months we have definitely been tested in ways that we’ve never experienced before, and I think I can officially say that I had my first significant (like, more than a few moments or days long) bout of culture shock.  Coming back from DC and “secretly” wishing I could have stayed a while longer (or like moved back for a few months even…haha) didn’t make our move and transition to our new home any easier.  But, we have grown in our marriage in ways that have been encouraging, and we are seeing that God continues to sustain us and carry us even when we’re being impatient and probably flat out disobedient with our (I should probably just say “my” instead of lumping my husband in that…haha) attitudes.

In the middle of all of that, our team hosted a medical campaign!  Random info, I know, but ministry life of course never stops.  So, here is a link to our video about it.  Our teammate John Mark has a great gift when it comes to making memories for us all through video! MED CAMPAIGN VIDEO.

If you’re still reading this, bless you.  Just a couple more things.

I am now 34 weeks pregnant.  Here’s proof.

And, finally…We made some new team photos (last month maybe??) recently, and there were some cute ones I thought I’d share:

The next picture is our kids in age order:

(L to R) Sofia F. (7),  Kellan D. (6), Jakob Y. (6), Maddox F. (5), Cailyn T. (5), Parker D. (5 next month), Derek Y. (4), Corban T. (3 next month), Liam F. (2), Kase D. (2), Mack D. (3m), Baby Thompson (due Aug. 20th)


Easter and 21 weeks

There is so much that life brings that we would love to be sharing with others that aren’t here in Peru, and keeping up with the blog is such a great way to communicate for us…… long as I actually write things on it. 🙂

Seriously, though.  When I’m not busy with whatever we keep busy with, I mostly feel like sitting down and catching my breath.  The pregnancy has kept me tired pretty much every day.  None of this 2nd trimester energy going on here.  I mean, I feel great physically (great for being pregnant that is), but I could crawl in a hole and take a 3 hour nap nearly every day if I didn’t have 2 other kids.  Or, maybe that’s actually why I’m so tired.  God and my husband have been so gracious to me, because I not only have a great gym membership, but I have time to use it!  So, in between waking up by 6:30am every day for our morning routine before leaving for school and exercising most days, my energy level sinks each afternoon!  Right now, both of the kids go to school all morning long.  Awesome, right?!  Yes, it is in many respects, but my idea of having lots of time in the mornings for doing “stuff” has been more like a couple of days a week…if that.  I am certainly not complaining, because I know any mom who has a young child (or several) would nearly sell her left arm for even 1 morning a week to gather her emotions, thoughts, and groceries, I’m just saying my time has filled up fast!  Between weekly team meetings in the mornings, team discussion days on the Holy Spirit and it’s role in our life, a women’s Bible Study I’m in, and grocery shopping, I am home to get other things done occasionally 2 mornings a week.  It’s fast and furious, folks!  Just like anyone else’s life, I guess.

I don’t think I’ve announced it on here, but we’ve actually decided to homeschool the kids starting in Kindergarten for Cailyn.  Right now she’s at an amazing school here in Lima for PreK, and she loves it.  I know that a small part of me will be a bit sad that she won’t be there enjoying that experience next year, but I have no regrets about our decision to bring her home for school after this year is over.  I’ve personally been on a journey of God preparing me for homeschooling and these decisions we’ve made for about 2 years now, and it’s not all been pretty or peaceful, but it’s been wonderful nonetheless because of the things I’ve learned about life, myself, my love for our kids, some fears I have, and how to get past those fears.  Justin’s journey was probably more peaceful than mine, but I know for a fact that it wasn’t all peaches and cream, because he’s had to listen to me and hear me cry over my heart’s journey for the past two years…haha.  I will plan to write more specifically about our decisions and how we came to make them in another post some day.

Anyway, that is why Corban is in school already.  Our main concern for the past couple of years (and the thing that kept making us question if homeschooling the kids was the right thing or not here in Peru) was that Justin and I just do not have the same ability to teach our kids Spanish like they would learn in a Peruvian school here.  Cailyn’s spanish skyrocketed last year in her preschool (Nido is what they call it), and we can see that it’s only getting better this year.  When we felt God was really telling us to finalize our decision to homeschool while here in Peru, we then had a more peaceful feeling that He would provide a way for us to continue the kids’ Spanish education even while homeschooling.  When we began to think about things, though, it just made sense for us to give Corban 2 years of Nido before keeping him home.  We feel like this will give him a great foundation to start with, and honestly, he’ll probably be farther along in his Spanish abilities than Cailyn will be once he starts homeschooling.  He’s just a bit more outgoing, and he repeats anything he hears.  It certainly keeps us adults in the house in line!  So, he is going to the same Nido that Cailyn did, and he is doing well there.

I don’t want to bore you all with more writing, so here are a few Easter pictures and a 21 week photo of the baby and me from nearly a week ago.  Time is flying!

We made a Resurrection garden a week before Easter.  I found it here on a blog I read.  Please do not compare ours to the one we copied.  We are seriously lacking in prettiness in comparison, and the worst of it is that it never grew grass.  It still got the point across. 🙂

Our Easter outfits were normal clothes, which I know is completely fine and even probably less stressful to get together for the day (no shopping, etc), but I can’t lie and say I didn’t have a small twinge in me that wished we were in the States to have a fun reason to wear Easter outfits to church.  We certainly could have done that here at our church service, but the Peruvians don’t dress up for Easter any different than any other day.  I’ve realized about myself that I love little details around holidays and birthdays like shirts that have easter bunnies on them or phrases like “I’m wickedly cute” for Halloween for instance.  I also love having small things to make those days a little more fun – like a new Valentine’s plate from Target or a fun $1 store treat on the 4th of July.  Nothing big, but something fun.  The thing is that Peru doesn’t have stuff for all of our American holidays (duh, right?), and even on the holidays that we share, the fun stuff you can buy is limited in cuteness and costs way more than I would want to spend.  There are no Dollar Bins here much less Dollar Stores.  Our families have done a fantastic job of treating us to special little things for holidays that we wouldn’t have had otherwise by way of sending packages, but sometimes there’s a part of me that wishes I could just run down to Wal-Mart or Target for the little extras in life.  Not necessary, just fun.  I miss some of the “not necessary” things the most around the holidays…in case you were interested in hearing about my very worldly desires, I guess I’m in a confessing mood. 😉

He really only cared about digging into his chocolate…

Our Easter baskets were filled by our grandparents!

The kids had already gotten to eat the contents of 3 of their aster eggs, so when they got their baskets, we were clear that they would not get to eat much out of it.  Corban didn’t quite read his memo correctly, and he thought we said they WOULD get to eat a lot of it.

We really do work so hard to try and teach our kids about the wonderful, spiritual realities of many of our holidays like Christmas and Easter, and this year I really felt like we’d just total driven home the wonderfulness of the fact that we serve a Risen Savior and that THAT is what Easter is all about!  I was feeling very proud of our hard work as parents…….until…on the morning before Easter, Justin asked the kids in the car as we were on our way to have a small breakfast in the park and read the resurrection story of Jesus,

“So, guys, I want to ask you again if you remember what tomorrow is!”

they both yelled, “EASTER!”

J: “And do you remember what we’re celebrating and what Easter is really all about?”

and Cailyn very loudly yells, “YEAH!  We get EASTER EGGS and lots of TREATS!!!” (**enter excited whooping and hollering from Corban at this point)

We were glad we were at least on the way to the park for a spiritual lesson.

We had a wonderful Easter this year for sure.  Thanks again to all of our grandparents who made the day a little more “treat filled”!

Grandpa Luke & Grandma Shannon…


We had a blast with Justin’s family the first week of March when they came to visit!  We were super excited, because neither his dad or step mom had been here to Peru yet, so we had a lot to fit into the few days they came.  We had a late Christmas with them, saw the sights, relaxed on our patio most afternoons and evenings, hit the beach, ate some great food, and celebrated Shannon’s birthday.  It was a whirlwind of a trip for them, I’m sure, but we loved having them!  Here are some of our pictures…

We didn’t wrap any of our gifts…it was just as much fun pulling things out of Wal-mart sacks!

a bit fuzzy, but I thought his face was too cute…he was PUMPED about his puzzle!

Cailyn had asked Santa (yes, we do Santa in our family, just not all crazy like…if that makes sense) for a Sleeping Beauty Barbie, and he had not given her one (a good lesson on how we don’t necessarily get what we want always), so she was STOKED that Gpa Luke and Gma Shannon had brought her one…OH.MY.GOODNESS!!!

We took a bus tour of Lima, and in the middle of the tour we got to see a Catholic Church where  some catacombs are…the kids were very intrigued…(ps-we couldn’t take pics of the bones…no worries)

We also toured by a parade that happened to be going on that same day…made for some extra excitement on the bus!

The kids showed off swam in front of the grandparents…it was a blast!

most precious little face…

sporting his new school backpack and Gpa’s sandals…

The beach…

Shannon’s birthday was 2 days after they left, so we celebrated with some cake the day they were leaving…

The kids had a great time seeing grandparents, and we were very glad to have some actual face time with family we haven’t seen in forever!  Thanks Luke and Shannon for all you spoiled us with…including your trip down here!  We love you both!

August will be a busy month…

Well, we are very excited to announce that, Lord willing, this little cutie will be joining our family in August!

Here he/she is at 12 weeks…

oh, sorry…that’s just me. 😉

and now for a bit of a closer look…


About an hour before heading out to celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary on December 17th, we were very happy to find out that we were in fact, pregnant!  This could not have been a better evening for God to have revealed this news to us, because we already had plans to enjoy one another’s company over a great AMERICAN steak dinner.  Unfortunately, I actually took a pregnancy test because I had felt fairly sick that afternoon, so I’ve decided I might need a do-over on the great dinner!

We had gone to Cailyn’s end of the year school program that morning, and afterward we had brunch with our teammates at a favorite restaurant of ours.  Nearly immediately I realized my stomach wasn’t feeling the best, and I thought it was from what I’d eaten.  I had planned on making a huge batch of tuna fish (like 4 cans of it) for us to have for lunches for the next couple of days that afternoon, so I went ahead and did that while the kids were napping.  Because we were headed out for a bit of a late dinner date, I asked Justin around 5pm if he wanted a small tuna sandwich to tide him over.  He said yes, so I went to open the container full of one of my favorite lunches, and it hit me…I had to immediately close it up, and he never got his sandwich – mostly because I went straight upstairs to take a pregnancy test that we happened to have at the house.  When I was a few weeks pregnant with Cailyn, I took a tuna sandwich to work one day for lunch and nearly got sick all over my desk.  I couldn’t even think about tuna until literally when I was pregnant again WITH CORBAN…like, what…2 1/2 years later?!  Then, I ADORED tuna and literally made it every week when I was first pregnant with Corban.  I certainly craved it.  So, the minute I smelled the tuna this time, I knew.  I’ve never felt so happy to feel like vomit in my life! 😉

Considering my easy breezy pregnancies with both C and C, we’ve sort of been a little caught off guard so far during this one.  We’ve already had a few things come up that haven’t been horrible, but not necessarily ideal.  I had low HCG levels in the beginning when I did my initial blood work, so on Christmas Eve I had to do that test again.  Thanks be to God we got news that my levels had doubled since the couple of days before, so we felt good after that.  Then, we found out that my placenta is about as low as it can get, so we’ve been praying for God to correct that.  As of about a week ago, it is still very low.  My Dr. seems hopeful that it will change, so we feel ok about it all.  I also had to go in this last week due to some signs that I might be losing blood.  After my ultrasound (the picture you see above), my Dr. said we should not worry about it.  There wasn’t anything to suggest things were not going well.  Praise God we’ve only heard wonderful heart beats from the baby, so that is always a wonderfully welcome sound!  We are now just praying for smooth sailing from here on out!  I will have another ultrasound just before 20 weeks probably that will hopefully let us know if I should still be diagnosed with Complete Placenta Previa.  For those who didn’t know, we were surprised by the gender of both Cailyn and Corban on the day of their birth, and it looks like that’s the plan again this time!

All in all, even though it sounds like several things as I write it all out, I really cannot complain about this pregnancy.  I have not actually gotten sick once, as it was with C & C’s pregnancies as well, and I have actually lost weight with each appointment I’ve been to.  What girl doesn’t want that, right?  Even though the scale says that, I do know for sure that my stomach has grown some.  I am still wearing my normal clothes, but unbuttoning my pants after a meal is not something I’m afraid to do. 🙂

I’m technically due 3 days before Corban’s birthday, so that makes me due August 20th.  Justin and I are very excited, and we’ve definitely learned a bit more about what it means to trust God as we’ve had a few uncertain moments in the past 6 weeks.  I guess at this point I wouldn’t trade the experience I’ve had so far.  I’m glad God is allowing me to have some growth, although that doesn’t mean I’ve not asked him to allow it to stop.  I’m certainly still learning how to release all of my worries and fears into his hands.  It’s such a process!

Just to touch on Sister and Brother…they are very excited!  Well, Cailyn is ecstatic.  Corban enjoys talking about the baby, but I don’t know that he fully gets it yet.  It blows my mind that he is already older than Cailyn was when he was born.  We actually asked God to bless us with a 3rd baby closer to the time when Corban was 3 (looks like God might even make that happen to the day!), so I continue to be very amazed at the peace I feel as we look forward to the stages of our first 2 kids when this baby is born…not that it will be easy, but I do feel like God has given us just what he wants and that feels right.

Baby Thompson #3, we could not be any more excited to welcome you into our family!  What a special place you’ve already taken up in our hearts!

Our Holidays…

Christmas came a bit early for us this year since my parents were here during the Thanksgiving holiday.  We had our Christmas day with them the day after Thanksgiving.  Instead of wrapping gifts, my parents had “Door #1” and “Door #2”.  I think the kids loved that even more!

Yes, we did add some more to our tree, in case you’re wondering as you watch this video. 🙂

Untitled from Justin Thompson on Vimeo.

It was a blast to see the kids have so much fun.  It’s such a blessing that our kids have such great grandparents!  If any of you reading ever knew my mom’s mom…this “Door #1/#2” is SO something she would have done.  Mom, you’re for sure your mother’s daughter!  I’m also going to direct you to my mom’s post about our “Christmas Day” because I think my dad might have deleted our pictures (dad??) after he put them on his computer. 😉


**you’ll have to scroll through a few pics of Thanksgiving that she put up, but the Christmas ones are at the end.  Mostly they are of Corban dancing…hah.  He’s such a hoot!

Cailyn finished her year at the Nido (school) she attended this past year in the middle of December, and they had an end of the year show.  Please do not think “kids standing on bleachers singing cute Christmas songs”.  The show was FOR REAL.  On the one hand, it was a bit funny to see how insane they treated the show, but of course we had a blast watching our girl do her dance!  We did pay $42 for her costume to be CUSTOM made JUST for HER.  What?!  We also showed up on time, but apparently the Peruvian parents know to get there an hour early and begin the line to head into the auditorium.  We sat in the next to last row.  Don’t think I didn’t stand up on my chair at one point. hehe.  The teacher (once again) had to have our help in getting C to even participate at school in order to learn the show moves, but I have to say that she was the best little “Libélula” (dragonfly) on stage!  I mean, she knew her moves, and she executed!  No nerves with her!  Corban had a great time clapping for her the entire time.  I wish I had video of him clapping and yelling “YAY DISTER!”(sister).  It nearly made me cry…hah!  The first pics are of C, but I’ll add a couple of some of the other “ACTS”…because you just HAVE to see these costumes!  We WILL be a dragonfly for Halloween next year.  Cailyn doesn’t know that just yet. 🙂

C is the 2nd from the Right…

Now on to showing off the costumes and props…

After their show, the oldest classes graduated.  Cailyn just sat there mostly while the rest of the kids sang what we think was the Peruvian national anthem…haha.  She didn’t even try to learn that. 🙂  C is the 2nd from the Left side…

We had Christmas day just as a family of 4.  It was the first time we weren’t with family…ever…for me or Justin.  It wasn’t a bad day, but it did feel a bit odd.  The kids woke up and opened a few presents, we totally went out to eat for lunch (NOT our norm), and then we just relaxed the rest of the day.  Here are the kids on Christmas Eve.  Thanks to a sweet Christmas gift bag full of goodies from Kelly and Sara Davidson, our kids had a Gingerbread cookie mix and icing tubes for some cookie decorating.  These ended up being Santa’s cookies…

For the New Year, Justin and I rang it in by playing Peru Monopoly together (all of the properties are places in Peru, and the board/cards/money is all in spanish).  We had never played, but the kids and I gave it to him for Father’s Day this past year.  We had fun, and even though we didn’t finish, I’m pretty sure I would’ve won. 😉  Then, around 11:30pm the fireworks started, so we headed up to the roof to watch them.  Yes, you can shoot legit fireworks from your roof here in Peru.  We might do that next year…haha.  We did some sparklers with the kids before they went to bed around 10pm, then we (me and j) ate our dinner together.  Peruvians eat a meal at midnight usually and then spend the entire night up with family and friends, so we were technically still too early even though we finished dinner at like 10:30pm.  It was a relaxing night to say the least.  Now, it’s on to 2012!

This is a catch up post if you haven’t noticed!  I’m hoping to keep up some more on our blog.  I’ve found myself completely wrapped up in just preparing for my day with the kids, especially since Cailyn is now home for summer break.  We’ve gone to the pool and the beach several times each, and the kids swim nearly every other day in our pool in the back yard (just a large blowup one).  We’re excited for this new year for many reasons.  God definitely just walked us through one of the hardest years we’ve had as of yet, but we see him providing for us in numerous ways and we know that we grew so much this past year.  We’re anticipating this next year to be the start of a new beginning in many ways here in Peru, and we’re super excited about it!  I hope to be sharing with you all more specifically as these next few months unfold and God is more clear with us where he is leading our family.  Thanks for all of the support you’ve all given this past year.  We certainly felt positively overwhelmed with love from each of you!


How has it been that I’ve been married to this wonderful man for 7 years now?!  It seems like the time has gone by so fast sometimes, while also feeling like we’ve been together for an eternity at others (a good eternity!).  I could not say enough good about my husband.  He truly loves me and our family with all of his being, and we will forever be blessed by that.  He took me out on Saturday night (the 17th) for a bit of an early celebration…today, the 18th, is really our anniversary.  We had an amazing steak dinner, we had some really great conversations, we laughed, we dreamed, and we made goals for our next year.  I love that our anniversary falls at the end of each year, because as we look forward to another calendar year, it’s easy to also be inspired to make new goals for our marriage.  Justin, thank you for always being eager to work with me at making each year of our marriage better.  I love you!



Mom and Dad got to spend Thanksgiving with us, and it was such a huge blessing to have them.  Not only was it just wonderful to celebrate with them, but we had 2 extra sets of hands to help us prepare!  Preparing the food was really the least of our preparations, because we hosted Thanksgiving this year, and our total number was 22 adults and 18 kids.  It was crazy, but tons of fun!  We had our team there, our 4 amazing interns, and 3 other families (2 that live here, and 1 that happened to be visiting one of those first 2 families).  We all decided to pitch in for a jump castle, because…well, let’s face it…we had 18 kids here.

Not only were we literally finding spots for all of our food to sit in places like…oh…our laundry room (we had TONS of food), but we had some amazing time of fellowship as well as a washers tournament.  The kids brought in the Christmas spirit with a viewing of the movie, The Polar Express, as well.  We could not have had a better time!  Here are all of the pictures!  Oh…and one last thing.  I can’t take all of the credit for the kids tables.  Just because we hosted, does not mean I did it all myself!  It was a group effort to say the least!

Prep work…making the kids’ mayflower candy boats…

the finished products…

daddyO and Cailyn making lemonade…

roasted veggies and homemade peanut butter cups

Kid table…I found this adorable turkey idea, and Wes Y. took it on for me!  Thanks, Wes!  I think his looked better than the original. 🙂

THE entertainment…(with only 7 of the 18 kids pictured…i mean, duh…can you see why we got this thing!)

kitchen madness!

trampoline complimentary with the rental of the jump castle…thank God!! (and here’s 6 more of the little kiddies…)

our sweet pea girls at their table…

the rowdy boy table…

the AMAZING salad bar our 4 intern gals made…SOO good!

the turkey carver…

dessert table.  yes, my napkins were on top of the dessert plates due to having NO other spot for ANYTHING!

at the last minute we had to go and walk the intern’s dining table over to our house because we had no more kitchen counter space for food!

our little cutie, corbs…

what a blessing to have such wonderful food!!

Blake Goodfellow making the bracket for our washers tourney…he did all the prep work for it…including making our trophy (pictured below with the winners).  this is our TV room, and yes, it was looking like this within minutes of the start of our night…hah!

washers in action…

and the winners are…THE YOAKUMS!! (notice the awesome wolf trophy)

We could not have asked for a better day for our Thanksgiving Day of 2011.  We were truly blessed!  If any of you who were here read this…we want you all to know how blessed we feel by you and your families!