Old Friends, Tulips, and A Good Fish Tale

What a random week…lots of different things…each day is definitely different than the one before…

On Wednesday we were off of work (yea!!)…I slept until 10:00!  We don’t have any windows in our bedroom so if you close the door, it’s really dark.  Without a clock, you could sleep all day and never know it was daylight (however, I did have to set an alarm to get up by 10).  We drove to Morton, IL (about 45 minutes away) and met Paul’s best friend, Jonathan (Noj) and his wife, Breeanne for lunch.  They actually live in Pennsylvania but were in Morton for a pastor’s conference, so we took the opportunity to see them.  It was good to catch up!

Thursday and Friday Paul and I facilitated on the ropes course.  I belayed several kids down the climbing wall and helped on the Leap of Faith.  Paul belayed on the wall and then helped on the actual course.  He did actually have to go out on the course twice to help two different kids…I was very proud of him for stepping out and doing that!  Maybe one day he’ll do the whole course…but until then he can stand at the entrance and help people on and off.

We have had lots and lots of rain since we’ve moved here.  I’ve loved it!  We had a good thunderstorm on Thursday night, along with rain this morning and more thunder tonight.  Because of all the rain, we now have tulips in our front yard (thanks to Ember’s mom who planted them).  They are really pretty…I think there are about 60 total, if they all bloom.

Tonight we went fishing in the pond.  I caught a catfish that was “this long” (I’m holding out my hands way far apart)!  🙂  It was really big, though, probably about 12 inches long!  I wouldn’t touch it so Jim had to take the hook out.


Believe it or not, we moved here exactly two months ago today…on February 25th we rolled into Illinois to begin our new life here…there have definitely up and down days, moments of frustration, lots of prayers lifted to our Lord, an occasional tear of homesickness, but we have also been making wonderful memories and developing lots of new relationships.  Thank you for journeying with us!

Paul, Noj, and Breeanne (and their 2nd little one due in July)

our front yard (that we share with Jim and Ember)


All ready to go fishin'!


with the fish (i didn't want to touch it)

My fish that was "this big" (my arms stretched out wide)!!


Random Observations

Another round of random observations from the week…and another round of pictures…

  • 22 Jimmy Dean breakfast crossiants in one week…thanks to feeding four hungry boys!
  • I’ve been around a lot of testerone this week…thanks to four boys!  Now I know how my sister feels being married and having two boys…sometimes you just need “alone time.”
  • Teenage boys are human disposals…I don’t think I ever saw them without food in their mouth or food in their hands.
  • One of the teenage boys puts sugar on everything…I mean EVERYTHING!!
  • Just because you say dinner is in 15 minutes doesn’t mean anything…they still ate two slices of pizza and marshmellows before dinner and then ate two or three helpings of lasagna, salad, and fruit salad.
  • When you don’t have the proper pie server slices of cherry pie become pieces of cherry cobbler (presentation isn’t always everything).
  • Even if you leave food for them to eat when you are gone during the lunch hour doesn’t mean they are going to eat what you left them.  I left everything to make their own sandwiches:  bread, meat, cheese, mayo, etc.  What do they eat?  Leftover pizza from a midnight snack the night before, baked beans, and hot dogs…
  • This week I remembered to tie myself to the tree when I was belaying people off the wall; my feet left the ground, but at least I didn’t crash into them.
  • I am grateful Jim allowed the boys to sleep upstairs; it gave me a little more privacy in the morning while getting ready.
  • Mr. Mike’s has really good cheeseburgers; they remind me of Capt. Billy Whizbang’s in Waco (is that place even there anymore)?
  • When Jim says something is going to take about 30 minutes…don’t believe him…it took 2 hours!
  • Is it sad that Paul has seen Twlight and I have not?
  • Seeing 3 dead mice and 1 live one in one week is enough for me
  • The true test of working with a teenage boy…can he get himself up at 5:45AM on Saturday morning to help cook breakfast?
  • Jim’s wife can’t say I didn’t feed him well this week.  We had:  2 lbs. of venison, 3 lbs. of chicken, 20 oz. angus steak, 6 lamb loin chops, 12 hot dogs, 8 hot dog buns, lots of macaroni, the forementioned Jimmy Dean crossiants…all courtesy of the food bank…I’m beginning to love the food bank!!
  • It brings me great joy to feed the boys…especially when they say, “I’ve never eaten so many times at a table before; I usually eat in my room.”  I told him it was just like a family, regardless of what color your skin is.

Below you will find random pictures from this week…

Paul and me in our Great Oaks shirt

Paul belaying

Me belaying

Paul and I belaying on the wall

the pond

the pond


***After previewing my post, I realized it was mostly about food…my week has been about food…I guess that’s what teenage boys lives revolve around…

Anchor Yourself In

Wednesday morning Paul and I went down to the ropes course with Jim and practiced tying knots and belaying off the climbing wall.  The knot tying got a little better…we still struggled a little bit.  It’s hard b/c you try it several times and don’t get it and then you get it once, but you don’t really remember how you tied it so when you try it again, you don’t get it…frustrating, huh?  Anyway, if we keep practicing I think we’ll get it.

Then we practiced belaying…let me tell you…make sure you’re anchored into the tree before you try to belay someone…I was belaying Paul down the wall and flew up crashing into Paul as he was coming in.  Then I tried to belay Jim…it was a little better because Paul stood behind me and held me down…my feet only came off the ground a little bit.

After we belayed for a little bit, I went over and did the ropes course.  Because we were short on time I only did part of it.  It was really fun!  Here are some pictures…

last element of course

swinging steps

swinging steps (probably my favorite part I did on Wednesday)

on 1st element

entrance to the course


Ropes Course and Chicago

Here at Great Oaks camp we have a Challenge Course (ropes course) with both high and low elements.  We spent 8 hours on Friday learning to facilitate on the ropes course.  The word “learning” is used loosely because it will take some time before I am comfortable leading on my own, but I think we’ll eventually get there.  We had to learn how to tie three knots, two of which I still can’t do.  I can talk through it but my hands don’t seem to do what my head is thinking when it comes to moving the rope.

On Saturday we went to Chicago with two of our friends, Brian and Julie.  We went to the Urban Reload Conference, a conference about working with urban youth.  It was a really good conference and I enjoyed it a lot.  After the conference was over we walked around “downtown” Chicago a little bit.  Brian went to Moody Bible Institute so he knew where to go.  I was thankful for our tour guide.  We ate at Girodano’s to eat Chicago style pizza (very yummy)!  We went to eat at 4:45PM and it was about a 45 minute wait…it was so crowded in there!  I’m sure if they had a fire code it was being violated big time…

Then Brian took us down Michigan Ave. which has very ritzy, expensive stores on it.  Macy’s, Tiffany’s, Saks Fifth Ave., Banana Republic, American Girl Place, Louis Vuttion, etc…a lot of stores that I couldn’t afford to even walk in.  Then we went down to the beach and saw Lake Michigan…we had a good time!


Paul crawling through the 3-D web

Brian "rescuing" Jim (just practicing)

Chicago Skyline

Giordano's Pizza--YUMMY!!

Paul and me

Lake Michigan

The Drake hotel, from the movie, My Best Friend's Wedding