Sunday, November 30, 2014

Day 29: Gorgeous Weather

It got to like 70 degrees today! We were so stoked and thankful to have gorgeous weather, after having lots of  below freezing nights and days...

So today,we are thankful for gorgeous weather, and we did not waste it! 
Here is Skye, honing her rock-climbing skills...
And, some hill scrambling.
Skye did an awesome job hiking today...she kept up the whole way, and her tiny legs did awfully well on the steep hill.
The whole crew, sans daddy the photographer....that's Grampy leading the way. It was so nice to be out in the woods again....cold weather and hunting season kept us from hiking for quite a while...super thankful to be back.
It' (almost) all downhill from here!
My little survivor-boy....stopping for a moment by the trail.

We all love the woods, and we all loved the weather! 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Day 28: Bikes!

For today, we are thankful for....Bikes! 
One thing we started praying about with our kids while we were in the Philippines, was that they could have bikes to ride while we were on furlough.
And, all the kids got a!!
There was even one for the nearly-weds to ride...
Bikes are cool. And so are the people who ride them.
and some are just SUPER cool....

So today, we are super thankful for the bikes we have received this furlough....our kids have had a blast and have learned how to ride pretty well!!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Day 27: Thanksgiving!

Turkey day! Family, food and fun----It's been a good Thanksgiving.

We are super thankful to be in the states for our first Thanksgiving since 2008!
Thankful for family...

Soon-to-be family!

Lots to eat...
lots of fun...
lots of leaves....
And good weather for walking off the feast, and playing by the creek.

And, the kids got in some good shelter-building practice with Uncle Mikey...all-in-all a great Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Day 26: Siblings

This is one of those happy/sad posts...We're thankful cuz Brandon is driving home for Thanksgiving right now, and we just found out (surprise!) that Micah was able to get off work and is coming home for Thanksgiving too! So, we are pretty stoked about that....

So, we're thankful for Siblings being home for the holidays right now....

But we still have other siblings, and plenty of other family that won't be here....We are thankful for what we have, and who will be here, but we are still missing those will be in other locations.

Kevin and Renee and Brian's parents will be in California for Turkey day, and Dan and Holly will be in Minnesota with Dan's family. 

As we get ready to head back to the Philippines for (Lord-willing) another four years, it's sometimes hard to think of being away from family for all that time. 

All those holidays. 

All those birthdays. 

But is it worth it? Yeah.

We love our siblings, we love our family....But following God with our family across the ocean is worth the goodbyes, and makes the hello's even sweeter.

Today, we are thankful for our siblings....and our siblings-in-law....When we think of what we are thankful for-- family comes in right at the top of the list---- even before coffee...

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Day 25: Kombucha!

Thankful for Kombucha!
It looks weird...but it tastes oh, sooo delish!
Love me some Kombucha!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Day 24: Sleep!

Today, or rather tonight...I am sooo very thankful for sleep.
A busy day of homeschooling and caring for the Fantastic4...
and then, packing and sorting...for our return to the Philippines...
It's late...and I'm tired.  So, I'm so thankful for my bed and sleep!
Praying the kids are kind and sleep in...even for an extra 15 minutes.... hahaha

Monday, November 24, 2014

Day 23: New Missionaries

Today, we are thankful for: New Missionaries!

When we get back to the Philippines, there will be several new missionaries already there, ready to start Culture and Language study.

We know what it's like to head off to a foreign country for the first time...or the first time with kids, and we know it's not easy.

So, as we look forward to working with our new folks, we are excited and thankful that they are willing to say goodbye to family and friends for the sake of the Gospel.

Learning a new language and culture is exciting, excruciating, and as it slowly happens, exhilarating.

We are thankful for those who are coming to be a part, and we are praying that through the excruciating times of foreign ministry, the exhilaration won't be far behind.

There's nothing easy about this job they are taking on...and there is nothing more worthwhile!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Day 22: Dates! (With Children)

So, yesterday we were thankful for the times when we actually get to go on dates...sans kids.

Today, we are thankful for the dates we get to have...WITH our kids.
When we were in the Philippines, we had a date date per week...which meant that each kid got a date with mommy or daddy once a month. 

This was a super special thing for us, and we all really enjoyed it.
But, with all of our traveling and the craziness of furlough, we have missed a LOT of dates with our kids.
So, today we tried to make up a bit...the girls went out with mommy and grammy, and the boys went out with daddy and grampy.

The girls were out shopping and ate together, and the boys went on two hikes and went to Sonic for lunch....pretty sweet!

Today, we are thankful for the chance to take our kiddos on dates!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Day 21: Dates!

Sometimes when you're married with seems like the dates just never happen anymore.

So today, we are just thankful for the times they do.

While in the Philippines, we had about 3 dates or so in 4.5 years. Not a very impressive record.

While in the States, we've done considerably better....It helps to have built-in babyitters at the house (aka grampy and grammy) But we have still not exactly been on multiple dreamy dates...

So, today we headed out together  to eat food and watch the new Hunger Games....Kind of ironic in a way...but we had fun.

After being married 11.5 years, we are thankful for anytime we can sneak away and have some semblance of a date! Thanks to the babysitters and to the thoughtful people who gave us a Chili's gift card and a Starbucks card...we redeemed them well!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Day 20: Fire

So, this afternoon, Asia said, "Let's be thankful for FIRE on the blog today!"
This is why: after a LOT of fruitless sparks, our boys have created FIRE.

They received flints for their birthday, and they have been trying to recreate the maddeningly simple-looking success Bear Grylls always has with his flint. 

Today, they succeeded. With no parental help.

I stood by with a mixture of equal parts parental pride and fiery fear. 

They are gaining survival skills...the kind of skills that can save your life, or, as Smoky Bear reminds us, start a big ol' forest fire.

Here's a short video of the Fantastic Four Firemaking Phenomes...Houston, we have ignition.
So, today, as per Asia's suggestion, we are thankful for fire... And if we are ever lost in the wilderness as a family, at least we won't have to eat our food raw.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Day 19: Cheese

Today, I'm thankful for CHEESE!  
This may sound totally lame to some of you...  But cheese is one of the things that I miss most while living in the Philippines.  

It's not that we can't get's just that we hardly ever did.  They rarely had it in the town we were living in...and we normally had to hand carry it...
on a bus.
in a cooler.
from a town.
about 3 hours away. 
And it's really EXPENSIVE!  

 Cheese is most definitely a special occasion thing. 
Tonight, I made grilled cheese sandwiches for the fam...and didn't feel guilty at all.  
We will be cheese-deprived again soon enough...bring on the gouda and brie!! ha 
I've been enjoying a variety of cheeses while we've been here in the USA...
Anyway...  Yay for Cheese!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Day 18: Wendel

Who is tri-lingual and can explain the grammar of the two most important trade languages in the Philippines?
That would be our friend and Christian brother, Wendel. And we are super thankful for him.

Wendel is one of the first people we met in the Philippines, and we have worked with him almost our entire time in the Philippines.

Not only does he know three languages, he is excellent at helping stretch people just beyond their language level, so that they can continue to improve.

He has worked on two islands in two different languages for our language program, and is moving with us as we prepare to move to a third location!

We have worked many hours together, first as a teacher-student, then as co-workers in the language program.

We are SUPER THANKFUL that Wendel is coming with us as we move once again!!

Thanks Wendel, for your willingness to be flexible and move wherever God has for you....we are so thankful for you!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Day 17: Sending Churches & Supporters

We love what we do. 
But we couldn't do it without people like you!

Living and ministering in the Philippines is a job we love. 

One of the most awesome parts about it is, we get to be part of a huge team that is sending its support, prayers, encouragement and sometimes packages with cool stuff from the States our way.

We know we are not doing this alone....we just get to be the part of the team that lives in a tropical location!

There is nothing easy about overseas ministry....but without our Sending Churches and wouldn't even be possible. 

So, today (and actually every day) we are super thankful for the churches and individuals from around the world, who have decided to help make our ministry in the Philippines a reality.
VBS in Minnesota at Brian's home church
This last year, we have had the chance to visit many churches and individual supporters, and it was awesome to be reminded of the MANY people who are behind us.

Group photo at Brooke's home church in Virginia!
Traveling 20,000 miles was crazy...but we still didn't get to see everybody...

Thank you so much to all of you who make what we do possible!!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Day 16: SNOW!

We had our snowstorm! 

We were hoping for one more good snowfall before we head back to the tropics, and we got it!

So, today we are thankful for about 4" of the white fluffy stuff. The kids have had a blast.
Asia....working on a snow fort.
Skye, making yet another snow angel...we are sure thankful for our little angles....
The boys...eating snow and having fun.
And, we managed to put a small snow fort together....a bit small but hey...there wasn't that much snow.
Slater...getting ready to shovel something.
And, we had to get at least one shot of the fam in the snow....our next family pic in the snow might look CONSIDERABLY different....
And, to top it all off, we had snow cream....pure deliciousness, and a great end to a great snow day. 

We are super thankful that we got to have a good snowstorm to finish out our time here in the US. We still have 1.5 months before we leave....and if this was our last snow day...that's ok with us!

We are also thankful that we are soon heading back to the latitudes where snow does not exist except in our dreams and memories... ha!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Day 15: Homeschool

One of the greatest parts of parenting our four little fireballs has been (drum roll) Homeschool!
We are SOO thankful for the opportunity we have to homeschool our kids...It is a lot of work, but super rewarding!
Our four little scholars...getting ready to take on the world.
We started homeschooling Asia during our full-time culture and language study in the Philippines...and trying to get all our own study in while getting her school done and still taking care of three other little pre-schoolers was more than a little crazy.

But, we all survived and we are now in a pretty good homeschool routine. As I (Principal Daddy) write this, Skye is sitting next to me, coloring her "A is for apple" worksheet--complete with apple tree and apples. Thanks to Pinterest, for the free printable worksheets!!

Brooke has taken sort of a Classical/Charlotte Mason approach-- with her own unique twists.

Since it is Principal Daddy writing this...I can say that what I am super thankful for as I write this is Brooke's willingness and ability to make our homeschool into a multi-sensory gateway to learning...not just a classroom. She has taken the time to look way outside the box when it comes to what school has to look like, and has put together a carefully designed program that is really working for our kids.

One of the most fascinating parts of homeschooling from the beginning has been observing our young scholars as their unique personalities and learning styles develop. It has been crazy to see how four kids, raised in the same home by the same parents can have such DIVERSE personalities and learning styles.

It has been a huge learning experience for us, and has really made us look at different methods of culture and language acquisition in new ways as well-- If our kids learn so differently, we realize that the new missionaries we work with probably will as can we set them up best to succeed?

Teaching and observing our own kids has really helped us in this-- we don't know all the answers, but perhaps we are at least starting to ask the right questions....

Homeschooling also set us up to have a super-profitable educational time during our travels--- we...

Took our COOL kids  to the Badlands....

Saw a super cool air & space museum...

Visited some well-known busts....

 read about Lewis & Clark at the End of the Trail, 

read about the Grand Canyon while looking out at the Grand Canyon...
walked through Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown....went to Washington D.C., and did many other awesome field trips with our young Roads Scholars!

It has been such a blessing to be able to homeschool our kids--As I write this...Asia just came and high-fived me because she just accomplished another daunting educational task...And my kindergarten boys regularly walk around singing their Latin songs and then ask to listen to their Ancient History CD's during rest time....We wouldn't trade it!!

So today...we are thankful for our sweet Phronesis Academy Homeschool.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Twins Interview - 6 Years Old

It's that time again...  You can check out last year's interview here.
How does it feel to be 6 years old?
Leif: Gooder than Better
Slater: Fun

What is your favorite color?
Leif: Black, my second favorite color is Orange
Slater: Black

What are you scared of?
Leif: I’m not scared of a wolf…I’m only scared of Lions
Slater: Nothing

If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?
Leif: Greenland
Slater: Anywhere that does not have houses…like Bear Grylls does

What is your favorite sport?
Leif: Wakeboarding
Slater: Baseball

What is your favorite toy?
Leif: playing in the tent we gotted
Slater: playing Science & looking at books that are Science Books

What is your favorite fruit?
Leif: Mandarin Oranges
Slater: Remember...I don’t like Fruits

What is your favorite TV show?
Leif: Bear Grylls
Slater: Bear Grylls

What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch?
Leif: Mac & Cheese with Pepperoni…what’s pepperoni?!?
Slater: Mac & Cheese

What is your favorite outfit?
Leif: Long pants with Khaki pants and jeans…and I like wear an airplane shirt with Matteroni(???I have no idea what that is???) on it
Slater: Bear Grylls shirt and jeans

What is your favorite game?
Leif: Hide in the tent
Slater: Hide and go find presents

What is your favorite snack?
Leif: chocolate bars
Slater: cake

What is your favorite song?
Leif: Leif’s pancakes…Jack Johnson (Jack Johnson's: Banana Pancakes)
Slater: woof…woof…woof… doggy songs

What is your favorite animal?
Leif: a wolf
Slater: Birds and ducks and parrots, eagles…those things that have long necks…Great Blue Herons

What is your favorite book?
Leif: the Everything is Awesome Book(Lego)
Slater: Science Books

What is your favorite thing to do?
Leif: play in the snow and make a snow castle
Slater: go outside with my brother and camp in the night and have a fire and cut down trees for the fire.

Who is your best friend?
Leif: my dog in the Philippines
Slater: Cousin Megan

What do you think about before you fall asleep?
Leif: think about Bear(our dog) and Kuya Wendel and getting a new dog
Slater: I think about sleeping

What is your favorite Cereal?
Leif: I don’t know what kind of cereal
Slater: Lucky Charms that are chocolate Lucky Charms

What is your favorite thing to do outside?
Leif: play in my tent
Slater: Camping in the night with my brother Leif and daddy

What is your favorite drink?
Leif: Orange Juice
Slater: Water

If you could meet someone famous who would you like to meet?
Leif: Bear Grylls!!!
Slater: Julius Caesar

What is your favorite thing to do with your family?
Leif: play with my dog
Slater: go outside in the tent with daddy and Leif

What makes you happy?
Leif: holding on to Bear and laying on him
Slater: my brother

What makes you sad?
Leif: no dogs
Slater: if I don’t see my brother

What is your favorite thing to learn about?
Leif: learning about dogs’ bones
Slater: Julius Caesar on the Story of the World

What is your favorite treat?
Leif: ice pops
Slater: things from the Mitten State(Michigan)

What is your favorite holiday?
Leif: Halloween
Slater: July and Fall and Christmas

What is your favorite thing to take to bed at night?
Leif: my dog…my pretend puppy
Slater: my brother’s dog that is named Black Jack

What is your favorite breakfast?
Leif: crepes
Slater: Lucky Charms cereal

Where do you like to go?
Leif: Greenland
Slater: Italy

What did you want to eat on your birthday?
Leif: crepe pancakes
Slater: Bear Grylls cake

What do you want to be when you grow up?
Leif: a pilot
Slater: a skydiver or a politican

What was the best part of your birthday?
Leif: doing the obstacle course and opening presents
Slater: Opening Presents

What was your favorite birthday present?
Leif: the Viking toy
Slater: Legos and the tent and the compass