Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter 2016

This Easter Sunday was full of surprises!

When we woke up in the morning (early, to get ready for a sunrise service with our house church), the ground was covered in SNOW!   This was the most snow we've had all winter (and winter is over!)   The kids were So excited, you would have thought it was Christmas morning!    It was Much too cold for the kids to wear their new Easter outfits though... boo.

The Longas opted to sleep in and go to church with a friend... =)

Cuh-razy!

Just as the pure white snow covers the dirt, so Christ's shed blood for us covers our sins

We were supposed to have an outdoor, fellowship around a fire sunrise service, but it got moved inside.   It was warm cozy and the fellowship was so sweet!    What a mighty God we serve!   He is Risen Indeed!   A delicious breakfast followed.

Ben and Kelly with one week old baby Elsie! =)

Caleb and Treyson with Dr. Todd, one of their favorite people

Melissa with the Alleman girls, Esther and Cora

Melissa, Malinda and Dawnita

Jessica, Sam and Elias

Lindsay and Drew

Nick and the (amazing) ham

Todd pointed out that the room had "segregated itself"....

All the women (and baby girls) were in the living room...

...and the men were in the kitchen!  So funny! =)

Dawnita and I (what a blessing she is to me)

Our first ever snowy Easter family picture! =)

When we got home, the kids and I headed to the front yard to make the most of the snow before it melted!

I figured this called for a "snow bunny!"

Fun!

Caleb filling his sled with snow

Building more snow men (and bunnies)

Snow angel!

I pulled Moriah and she pulled Caleb (all around the house)

A couple days ago two of our sweet neighbors came by with this giant Easter basket for the kids!  They love to watch them play outside and said this was a thank you for the Christmas cookies =)
(I knew that if I added just a few things from the package the kids had received from Grandma E, this would do for all six kids!)

By 3 pm, the front yard looked like this!

Philip and I went for a sunny, beautiful walk in the 53 degree weather - what a crazy day!

Yay!   After dinner it was nice enough out that I could get pictures of the kids in their Easter outfits!!

First I just did the girls...

We got Rachel this outfit for her birthday

Our three munchkins


Love them so much!

A big friend's picture!

I realized I hadn't taken any pictures with George in them, so I remedied that

Caleb on the one remaining snow boulder in the yard!

This one is a little out of focus, but here they all are with the basket, with the additions from Grandma Eberts and chocolate bunnies from me =)

What a fun Easter!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

New Friends/Housemates!

Early on Saturday, the 19th, I got a call from our friend, Ben.   (You may remember he and his wife and four young kids have stayed with us a couple times and Ben has stayed a few times on his own).
He asked if we would be willing to open our home to a family in need.   He told me about his friends, George and Amy, from Uganda (living in Garden City, KS).  Amy had gone into labor the night before, at only 29 weeks.  She'd been rushed to the hospital here in Wichita.  Her family (husband, her mom and their three kids) needed a place to stay for the weekend.    Part of the reason we bought this house, with the space it has downstairs, is so that we could have guests and use that area whenever possible, so we were thrilled to have them come!

They arrived on Saturday night at 9 pm.     As we saw the grandma get out of the car, with the aid of a step stool and a crutch, we knew we had to make some quick adjustments to sleeping quarters as she wouldn't be able to navigate the stairs!  (She had a knee replacement in January and is scheduled for another one in a week).   We moved Moriah to our room and quickly changed her bed and Angelina moved in there.  =)

I knew almost immediately that our kids (though ours were in bed already) were going to get along great!   Their boys, Thomas (9) and Jesse (7.5) are a combination of Keenan, and Rachel (who was almost 6) likes a lot of the things that Moriah does.

When they all met the next morning, it was super fun to see them so quickly and easily bridge the barriers of the unknown and just start being friends! =)

Moriah and Rachel making perler bead creations

Keenan and Thomas playing Sorry

Haha!

Jesse and Caleb building with lego

Caleb coloring with Rachel

I got to meet Amy in the hospital on Sunday afternoon.   She is incredibly sweet and was very grateful that her family was able to stay with us.   I was amazed at her peace and calm in the midst of everything - God is clearly carrying her. =)   She is doing well, they were able to stop her contractions and for now, she's on bed rest, trying to keep the baby in for a few more weeks.    I know it must be mind numbingly boring for her to be in a bed all day, in a strange city where she doesn't know anyone.   Several of my friends from house church have visited with her and that has been a huge blessing to her (and to me).

George spent a lot of time at the hospital with Amy and took the kids to visit her each day.    Mostly they hung out here with our kids.   There has been Much to learn!   They don't eat very much of the same food as we do and so I have quickly had to adjust to making Huge amounts of African rice and beans (and porridge for breakfast). =)    There were new things for them to learn too, like what Monopoly is!  =)

After the weekend, George needed to return home to work and the grandma needed to go to some doctor's appointments, so I offered to keep the kids here and have their school work sent for them to work on.    I didn't want Amy to have to miss out on her kids And her husband and I wanted Rachel to be able to celebrate her birthday here with her mom, on Tuesday.

George was able to secretively buy some gifts and leave them with me.   I snuck them to the hospital when I went to pick them up (after George left on Monday night), so Amy could see them, wrap them and surprise Rachel with them the next day.

The kids and I wanted to make the day really special for Rachel so we bought decorations, a cake and gifts and I had it all set up when Rachel came up in the morning...

I think the favorite thing was the mini gumball machines for each kid =)

We got her a Frozen cake

Happy Birthday, Rachel!

The My Little Pony card that Moriah made for her

After the birthday fun, we headed to the library and the park...

Caleb in one of those crazy spinny things that make my head hurt just to watch

Thomas and Jesse showing off their "barrel rolling" skills

The girls in a hippo's mouth

My crazy crew of six kids! =)

That afternoon, my friend, Angela came to stay with my kids, so I could take Thomas, Jesse and Rachel (and the cake) to have a little celebration with their mom.

Here they are with their (beautiful) mom and the candle lit (totally against hospital rules, but we only had it lit for less than a minute!)

Rachel and her Momma

We didn't end up getting school work for the kids until very late in the week, so it was a bit of a challenge to do school with my kids, without them being distracted by the other three, but we did our best! =)

(On Wednesday night, Philip did bedtime so I could go to Walmart and the Y by myself - what bliss!)  =)

I took all six of them with me to CC on Thursday.  Rachel was in Moriah's class, Jesse was with Keenan, and Thomas was in my class.    He was Not shy! =)   It went really well and after we took them to Chick Fil A for lunch - their very first time ever!   They loved it!

Helping fill Easter eggs for the big hunt our friends put on on Saturday

When we got home from CC, it was time to get the house ready for the Seder dinner that was happening in our basement that evening!    When they put their minds to it, six kids can be pretty helpful!

On Friday afternoon, my friend, Lindsay took the kids to the hospital to see their mom.    It was nice to just be able to hang with my kids for a few hours and reconnect and snuggle and read books and be just "us" for a bit.    That evening, my friend, Dawnita, took all six kids for dinner and a movie so Philip and I could have an evening to ourselves!    Do I have great friends or what?    We worked out, had dinner, and just hung out and chatted about our upcoming trip.    A great refresher. =)

George left Garden City after work on Friday and arrived here late (after we were in bed).   Saturday morning was spent trying to get their kids caught up with their school assignments that he brought.   After lunch, while George was at the hospital, Philip took the five oldest kids to a park to play baseball for a couple hours while Caleb and I took naps.   (Woop!)  In the afternoon the kids all had a blast at an easter egg hunt that our friend's hosted in Planeview.    Philip was at work for the latter part of the day and George and the kids spent the afternoon and evening at the hospital with Amy so the kids and I were able to tidy up a bit, chill out, and I got caught up on a bunch of emailing, etc.

At this point, George and the kids are planning to head home tomorrow (Monday), and if Amy is released from the hospital, she will stay with a couple who live closer to the hospital than we do, in the event that she needs to be rushed back.    She needs to stay in Wichita until she is at least 32 weeks along (she is 30 now).   George and the kids will probably return next weekend and stay here.

What a blessing it has been to get to know this family and share our home with them this past week!   We are grateful!

(Early) Seder Dinner 2016

Our new friends, Allison and Brett suggested we do a Seder dinner with our house church family.   I offered our basement for it, and she organized everything and made a sign up sheet so everyone could pitch in.   It was an amazing evening!

Google Seder dinner if you aren't familiar with this.   It's a beautiful experience, not just a meal, with readings, special foods and drinks and rituals that are loaded with meaning!

The set up (for about 25 people)
A few people brought glasses and Allison brought everything else and Moriah and Rachel helped set the tables - it was beautiful!

Getting started with appetizers

Reading through the script between the special drinks and foods (before the main meal of lamb and delicious sides!)

Kid's table (along with Philip and I)

The kids closing their eyes while the matzah bread is hidden (to be found later after dinner)

Allison, our amazing host and I

What a sweet evening with sweet friends!   I hope this becomes tradition!