Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Boy or Girl - a Gender Reveal Party

We hosted a gender reveal party on Sunday.

I saw the idea on a friend's blog and thought "what a cute way to find out!" I mentioned it to Joel and he agreed. We have never known the gender of our babies until birth. We always liked the surprise (yes, even with twins!).

There were several reasons I thought I'd like to know this time. But, I was still hung up on a few things. First, I didn't want it to be anti-climatic. I love the excitement of everyone when they first hear "It's a ___!" Second, I didn't want to be told one thing and find out later that it was wrong. (That's happened to 2 people I know within the last few months, so it was a fresh reality.)

This whole gender reveal party seemed to be a good answer to that first question. And, well, the second one was something that I'll talk about later.*

After much research, I made a few discoveries and a few decisions. First, I discovered this is the new trendy way to find out your baby's gender. Ha! I'm actually in on a trend. That's kind of funny. Second, I decided to go with a few ideas I saw on other blogs/websites. (So, if you like any ideas, just know that they were mostly borrowed from others.) Click a picture to enlarge it.
We went with a pink/blue theme as much as we could. I even tried to do pink/blue foods. There's not much variety if you go that route though! Guests wrote their guess on a poster as they entered the party. They could also suggest names for us. Our older three kids made posters that said "Boy or Girl". My favorite decoration was the pink/blue onesies I strung over our fireplace. (They're still hanging there!)

I decided we would do some foods that centered around my pregnancy cravings. We served quesadillas (I love any kind of Mexican food!) with chips and salsa, lemon bars (LOVE lemon and lime!!!), and mini pigs-in-a-blanket (they're one of my fav breakfast things). My friend Kristin came up with the idea to do "mini" or "baby" items. I don't know that anyone caught on except those of us doing the food! It was fun to plan, though.
My sweet friends from church came to help set-up and take care of the food. These girls are great!
As friends replied to confirm their participation, I realized I was going to have a slew of kids in my backyard (or house if it was not nice weather!). So, we asked to borrow a bounce house and were so blessed to have it be a part of our celebration! We set out some big sheets of art paper with washable markers and a bean bag game (also borrowed). The older boys just ran around our yard climbing on our fort and swinging. And, it was an amazingly beautiful day!
Everyone wore their team color: pink if they thought it was a girl, blue for boy. Team pink was sorely outnumbered! (Joel, Jenna, and Asa were on team pink, though Asa wore blue, while Rylee and I were on team blue.)
We got my parents and my close friends, Heather and Paul, on video chat for the big reveal. My friend Janet wrote a song for the occasion and sang it just before we each got a cupcake. Joel and I did not know the secret yet. Our ultrasound technician printed a "revealing" picture of the baby and placed it in a sealed envelope. I took it to my friend Pam, who made the cupcakes for us. So, she was the only one who knew the secret until we all took a bite!
We were very excited to see the blue icing!
Pam did an amazing job on the cupcakes. Then, she gave me the revealing picture in a sweet frame that reads: "Memories. We don't remember days, we remember moments." Yep, it's certainly a boy! (I scanned the picture and included it below. *It answers my second reservation quite clearly.)
Asa wanted to know why the picture was so special. So, I explained it to him. He wasn't so keen on me talking about, or having a picture of, boy private parts!

It was a really fun way for us to find out that we're having another little boy. I thought the idea sounded fun, but in reality the party was way more of a blessing than I could have anticipated. I was absolutely overwhelmed that so many of our friends came to celebrate with us and were so excited. Finding out by biting into that cupcake was simply thrilling to me. Trend or no trend, I'm very glad we decided to find out now and I'm even more glad we decided to find out this way!


For those who care to know, the menu included: a relish tray with baby carrots, baby cucumbers, baby tomatoes, and baby gherkins; mini pretzels with lots of dips (ranch, garlic, spinach & herb, and fiesta party, the last 2 are Tastefully Simple mixes); mini bagel sandwiches with ham and chive cream cheese or cucumber and chive cream cheese; baby brownie bites; mini lemon bars; mini quesadillas (salsa and sour cream); blue corn chips; tortilla chips; mini pigs-in-a-blanket (with the crescent rolls shaped as diapers!); pink wafer cookies; blue and white jordan almonds; pink and blue suckers; blue salt water taffy; pink lemonade; blue(ish) sherbert punch; and mini cupcakes in chocolate and strawberry!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Saturday morning hair appointments

So funny...
this is what my kids wanted to do at 8am on Saturday
styling Daddy's hair.
what a great sport he is.
Asa got his hair styled too. (notice the girls put on aprons...and wrapped towels around the boys' shoulders!)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Oh Baby!


Are we having a girl or boy? We are finding out very soon!
Cast your vote and tell us what you think about names, too!
Take our quick and easy quiz.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Belly Shot

Oh, I'll have to write an update on how I ended up organizing the girls clothes. Best part was that 2 sets of friends were stopping by Saturday evening so I HAD to get it all picked up and put away. Nothing like company to motivate me to clean up my act!

Now...on to bellies.
I'm 21 weeks. Picture taken last night--after all my make-up was probably gone, but I was still wearing a pretty cute outfit.
Joel was being silly, so I went along with him.
Like the sucked in cheeks? I only wish!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Organizing and a Quick Photo

I'm trying to organize the girls' closet today. Yuck! It's already pretty organized, but it's had some things added over the last few months that are making it full. Thus far, I've already found a small stack of things that need to be put in a "to go" pile.

My greatest frustration with closets is the clothing. Duh! But, how in the world do you keep track of it all?

We've been so blessed to receive lots of hand-me-down clothing for both my girls and my son. I don't think I've really bought Asa clothes in the entire 3 years we've lived here!

But, here is the problem...clothes all fit differently and you have to store the clothing that doesn't yet fit.

So, I have a box for each size of clothing and manage to keep that sorted pretty well. But, it's the "in between" stuff that gets annoying and scattered. For example, Rylee can wear some size 6 shirts or shorts, but most pants are too short. Or, something is labeled wrong or she doesn't like the way it fits (though it would fit her). What do you do with those clothes? Then, there are the ones that need a repair or don't have anything to match it.

So, that's what I started. We'll see if it gets finished!

In the meantime, this is what's on my mind...Kicking, flipping, and making it harder for me to bend over.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Significance of One

I first heard the story of Sister Kanga during a prayer meeting this summer. Our photo journalist was fresh from the field and retold her story. I wept. The faith and dedication of Sister Kanga challenged me.

I am honored to be working on a new project that will share stories like Sister Kanga's with more women here in the West, asking them to link their lives with our precious women missionaries on the field. Many of these women have experienced a miracle and have a passionate love for the Lord. Their deepest desire is that others would experience His amazing love and give their lives to Him.

We just added Sister Kanga's story to our website. The first video tells of her salvation while the second video explains her incredible ministry.


Will you consider linking your life with a woman missionary on the field? Click here to go to the GFA website and scroll through until you find a female missionary. You can change hundreds of lives by sponsoring one missionary for just $30/month. That's one meal at a restaurant for our family. The sacrifice is more than worth it!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Random Sunday Night Thoughts

I get to see my baby on Tuesday. We're having an ultrasound. I'm 20 weeks today. I'm very excited to see the baby moving around, his/her heart beating, see how s/he is growing.

I have to admit I wasn't sure I'd be as excited with pregnancy #3 as I was with #s 1 and 2. I am.

I absolutely LOVE feeling the baby move. It is my hands-down favorite part of being pregnant. Last night I was working on getting our latest newsletter into envelopes and the baby decided to turn a complete somersault in my belly. I actually shouted a little. It was the most awkward and strange feeling. And then, I could totally feel his/her body bulging on the right side below my ribs. How absolutely amazing is it that there is a little life living inside of me?

I will never cease to marvel at God allowing us to be part of His marvelous creation!

~~

Today's message at church was a continuation of teaching through the Book of Matthew, but our pastor focused on Psalm 73 to help us better understand what "the pure in heart" means in the beatitudes. It was one of his best teachings ever, I think.

The psalm, penned by Asaph, begins with a declaration of God's goodness. Then, he spends the first half of the verses talking about what he sees around him. He says he almost slipped. Then, he explains it. He basically says 'I look around and see all these people who don't love God but who have all this good stuff. They spend lots of effort on what they wear and they look good! They have abundance and just keep getting more. They aren't plagued with the typical strife of man.'

I completely understood Asaph. Yep, I've looked around and envied those who seemed to be fine not living for God but having all the worldly pleasures you can imagine...even the simple ones, like a nice minivan! Who really envies that? Well, this mom of little ones does! or has!

In verse 13 he even goes so far as to say that he has kept his heart pure in vain! Boy, I can totally relate. In fact, one big major horrible blot in my past can be traced to me saying words very similar to those uttered by Asaph right here. Unlike Asaph, I didn't regain my focus before it was too late.

But, then Asaph regains his focus. (And, eventually I did too.) In verses 16 and 17 he says he tried to understand it but couldn't until he came back face-to-Face with the Lord.

All things come back into perspective once we humble ourselves and move back into a right place with Jesus on the throne and our eyes trained on Him!

Throughout the second half of the psalm Asaph sees things as they really are. He sees that those shiny things that were so tempting will be gone one day. He sees that those who seem to prosper are really miserable deep inside. He sees that while they appear to have peace in death, they will have no peace eternally. Then he says:
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

27 Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.

28 But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.

This teaching reminds me of a psalm the Lord led me to when I was preparing to share with the ladies of my church in May. Psalm 27 talks about fear. While the "topic" is different, the turning point is exactly the same. The psalmist David is proclaiming that he shall not fear because the Lord is for him. In verse 4 he explains why he has this confidence--seeking God. When our eyes are trained on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, we cannot get distracted by anything else--not wealth and the seeming prosperity around us and not fear!

I just absolutely love when God gives me a specific word. This theme of keeping my eyes on Jesus has been echoed many times in the last week.

~~

We're gradually putting the house back in order after having our floors redone. Joel finished painting baseboards this weekend and hung all of the trim in the living room today. We might get shelves back in place by next weekend.

Considering all the Lord is teaching me, it feels kinda trite to be talking about floors and housing projects. But, all things in perspective. And, I'm asking God to continue to guide us in what these verses should look like fleshed out in our lives.

~~

Oh, and that reminds me, I'm almost finished with the book Death by Suburb by Goetz. Challenging. It's been a part of all that God's teaching me. Sometimes I'm not very good at putting it all into words, so you may or may not read more about it soon.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Commitment and Courage

With school starting this week for the twins, I have been able to go into the office for my normal Tu/Thu hours. Thanks to my friend Kristin, I also get to stay a little longer than I did last year.

The timing couldn't be more perfect!

This week I've been busy working on a new project and also continuing to serve in our Missions department (that sounds weird considering our whole organization is a missions ministry, but the Missions Dept deals with assigning missionaries to sponsors, handling correspondence between sponsors and children in our Bridge of Hope program, preparing missionary and children profiles for upcoming events, updating sponsors, and a few other tasks).

I'm so excited about what we are working on with this new project--looking for ways to share with women's groups about women in Asia. We aren't really doing anything all that "new". It's still all about people here in the West supporting national missionaries in Asia.

Some people know GFA for different things we do: drilling Jesus Wells for clean water, our Bridge of Hope children's program, the radio broadcasts that can be heard throughout the U.S., radio programs we have in Asia, our Christmas Gift catalog, etc. But, all these programs are like spokes of a wheel; the hub is a missionary who is committed to sharing the Gospel with the lost. All the 'other' things we do enable the missionary to reach the lost.
For this 'new' campaign, we are focusing on women. Our women missionaries are amazing! I cry almost every time I hear an account of their lives and commitment. They often endure incredible hardships to proclaim the love of Jesus to those who have never before heard His name.
Right now, we have a little bit of information on the web explaining what some women do . We're working to improve what we can give to women here to explain what women there are doing. I would love your prayers for wisdom and guidance as we seek to share the ministry with more people--specifically women--here in the West.

Specifically, here are some things we are hoping to have:
--direct link to available women missionaries (right now, you click that link "sponsor now" and you would have to search to find a woman missionary)
--we would also like to have more stories that explain what women missionaries do
--we would like to provide updated statistics on the plight of women in Asia

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Camping We Will Go...

We enjoyed hanging out at home for most of the weekend, but decided that after we served in the Preschool area on Sunday we would head out to go camping.
There's a state park not too far away on Lake Texoma that was highly recommended. Joel went online Friday afternoon and rented a shelter for our family.
We packed up our gear (more stuff than we take on a cross-country trip, it seemed!) and headed out after lunch. The kids were very excited!
Upon arrival, we set up our tent (inside the shelter) to give us the official feel of camping. We made the beds for the kids, arranged all our food items, and set out our camping chairs. Then, we all changed into swimsuits and headed to the beach area of the park.
We splashed around for about two hours and then headed back to our campsite after the sun began to set. We took showers to rinse off at the nearby bathrooms and then Joel started the fire for dinner.We had incredibly simple meals for our first camping experience: hotdogs, chips, and fruit for dinner; cereal, muffins, and fruit for breakfast; and sandwiches, chips, and fruit for lunch. We took more fruit, crackers, and banana bread for snacks.
We made sure to include marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers for making S'mores, though! The kids enjoyed toasting the mallows over the flame. They quickly proclaimed the burnt spots as "gross" for sure. That didn't stop them from asking for more.
Aside from the neighboring party's loud music, it was quite peaceful and the kids went to bed just after 8. We joined them since we knew the sunrise would wake them early and we were pooped as well. Next time, we'll make sure to plan ahead enough to bring an air mattress for us! The girls had inflatable toddler beds and Asa seemed fine on his pallet of fluff. Thankfully Joel packed the body pillow for me. But, the poor guy definitely roughed it more than any of the rest of us.
After a quick breakfast, we were off to play at the park (swings and a slide near our site). We met our neighboring campers on our way back (not the ones with the loud music). They were a sweet family and offered us some of the bread they had made. It was similar to the chipate we ate in India, which makes sense because they are from the Middle East. After a nice chat, we headed out to explore around the park.
We walked out onto one of the fishing piers, then climbed down some rocks to be near the water. The kids took turns throwing rocks into the water, trying to make a big splash.
Joel caught a crawfish, much to the delight of all three kids!
We drove to see the other camping areas of the park and then stopped in at the little store on the water. We saw huge fish and some turtles swimming in the water.
Often times we would find Asa off by himself playing with sticks or rocks (or, in this case, a little Lego man he found).
After eating lunch, we packed up our things and spent another few minutes talking to our neighbors. The daughter of their family (in her 20's) was especially taken with our kids and sat playing with them for a while, taking their picture and asking about their sillybands.
During one of our walks, we caught sight of this beauty. The kids were incredibly curious to know what kind of spider it was, so we snapped a picture and looked it up once we returned home. It's a garden spider, harmless to humans. Whew! Trust me: they were thrilled, not me.
It was a fun excursion that we will certainly repeat in the months ahead, I'm sure. Now that we've taken the first plunge, we won't be so hesitant the next time an opportunity arises for us to take a day or two and explore some nature nearby.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My friend Beth is doing a giveaway

C. Beth Blog: Giveaways and reviews: Quick breakfast (is there any other kind?)

Beth blogged about their quick breakfasts. I enjoyed the post and then entered to win a $100 Visa card. Go check it out and enter to win! How cool is a gift card?