A beautiful day to get outside!

Hey y’all.

Thanks for the wonderful response to the post the other day. Knowing that people are reading and care, certainly does make a person happy to put their thoughts out there. I’ve got a recipe coming up here one of these days, but for now, I figured we’d just keep sharing life.

We’ve got a good old four day weekend going. I needed the break and so far it’s been really nice and relaxing. The day started off with a nice fun run with Jackie and Kaitlin. I had a great time with Mike and Eddy for our church Executive Leadership Team (ELT) meeting. And then the bulk of our day was spent with our friend Connor who just got back from Peru. He was part of a team of 13 that went with Leadership Excursions/Endurance Leadership. We were very excited to get to hear all about how God was working down there. Both on the team that went as well as with the orphanage there.

We made some sandwiches featuring Herbivorous Butcher “meats”. Oh my delicious. Jackie’s favorite is the “turkey” slices, I personally like the “pastrami” the best. Whatever way you slice it, it’s all good. Connor was a fan, which is always a plus, when your omnivorous friend, digs the food.

We had planned to drive to Maryland to check out the Red Shedman Farm Brewery.  We’ve picked up some of their raspberry cider in the past and it’s super good.  We thought it would be fun to put the dog in the car and head out there to hang out and try some beverages while playing some games and catching up.  It was perfect for all of that. First off the Farm has beer, cider and wine.  We didn’t check out the wine today but we sampled everything else.  Its set in such a beautiful location, there are rolling hills and trees everywhere.  You’ve got the vines for the winery surrounding all the sides of a nice little grove with picnic tables set up.  (In retrospect, I really should have taken some pictures of the property… gotta get back in the habit.)

We tried a flight.  I personally thought the best beer was the Lunatic Fringe.  A Belgian IPA that was infused with habanero.  Jackie was a fan of the Raspberry Cider, and Connor’s favorite was the Farmers Daughter, a wheat beer.
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Here’s Connor and I just enjoying a moment there on the picnic table.  The beard is so much bigger isn’t it!
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Connor fell asleep with Olive in the car on the way back.  But he woke up in time to show us a rocking backflip off a tree.  After we got a good video we wanted to try to do a boomerang video…Well it didn’t work quite as well, but it’s super funny to watch.  🙂

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The real highlight though was hearing the stories, and challenging each other on what’s going on in our lives.  Connor asked the question as to what our greatest fear is.  I’ll tell you what, it takes a good friendship to get vulnerable and really share that.  It’s been a blessing to have him here as an intern and getting to know him.  Between him and Bethany we’re going to be really sad when this season of life is over and we have to go to remote relationships.

We’re going to end off the night by going to see Despicable Me 3.  I’m excited, Jacks is super excited.  It should be a whole lot of fun.  We’re going to sneak in some Earth Balance White Cheddar Popcorn.  😉

Uruguay 2016

Earlier this month Nick and I had the opportunity to go to Uruguay for about week with Leadership Excursions. We took a team of 10 people from the U.S., and we were there to lead a leadership retreat for missionary women in Uruguay. The property that we staying at is owned by our leader’s family. Her grandparents wanted the property to be used for ministry, and this is the second year that they’ve done the retreat for the missionary women. The first part of the week was freshening up the property, and getting things ready for when the ladies arrived. The second part of the week was serving them; allowing them to relax, rejuvenate, and connect with God on a deeper level, as well as connect with other missionary women in same country they serve in. It was really amazing to see them connect with one another, and forge new friendships with other women who understand the things they face on a daily basis. Uruguay is a very literate country, and it’s not very open to the gospel, so these women face a lot of hardships on a daily basis.

We had 3 flights to Uruguay, and we landed in Montevideo at about 4:00am. We had a lot of things to bring with us – supplies for the week, and special gifts for the women – and so every team member on our flights (there were 7 of us) had two, fifty pound bags. So it was quite an adventure getting those 14 pieces to where they needed to be! We had to take a city bus to the bus station, and then a bus to Colonia Valdense, and then a car ride to the property. When we arrived in Colonia Valdense, there were two cars waiting for us, and it was quite a feat to get all of our luggage packed up to the property. This was one of the cars – the trunk, and roof were packed, and we also managed to fit 5 people in the car!

Uruguay 2016

The property is gorgeous, and backs up right along beach. They call it a river, but it’s really more like the gulf of Mexico. It was massive, and you couldn’t see to the other side! The water looks muddy, but it’s actually quite clean. There is just a lot of sand and rock at the bottom.

Headed out to the beach:
Uruguay 2016

Looking down the beach:
Uruguay 2016

Uruguay 2016

We had a few hours one day (a couple of days before the ladies arrived) to go into the city of Colonia to explore, and have lunch as a team. We walked around Old Town, and it was so beautiful and amazing! It’s right along the ocean, and you could see Buenos Aires on the other side.

Uruguay 2016

Uruguay 2016

Last year only women went as a part of the U.S. team. This year men were invited so they could do some construction jobs around the property. They did so much, and we couldn’t have done it without them! Because of them, the rest of team was able to focus on getting things ready for women. Making beds, getting welcome bags together, planning meals, and organizing a “free store” for them.

This was the building that we used for session times, as well as meal times before:
Uruguay 2016

And after:
Uruguay 2016

The guys also built this cross that we hung inside as a focal point in our worship times.
Uruguay 2016

There are so many pictures that I’d love to share with you, but I want to respect the privacy of my team members, and the missionary women. There are loads of pictures of me in the kitchen because that’s where I spent the majority of the week. I did so many dishes, that I’m afraid that if I had counted them, it would have shocked me! But it was such a blessing to be able to allow the ladies to not have to do anything, and both Nick and I were more than happy to pitch in anywhere we were needed. We both grew in many ways – not only in our own personal relationships with God – but with our team members. We were a great group, with lots of different personalities, and gifts that all worked so well together. Neither Nick or myself had ever been a part of a mission trip before, but I know that this one will not be our last.

(In case you were wondering, Uruguay is NOT a vegan’s best friend. There are more cows in Uruguay than people, and they eat A LOT of beef. But God is so good, and our chef for the week always made sure that we had something to eat. We ate loads of bread, potatoes, and rice, but it was a good reminder that it wasn’t about us. That being said, Uruguay is a beautiful, beautiful country, but be sure to pack lots of snacks. 😉 )

Christmas Break

So I realize I’m a little late in posting this, but whatever. Life happens, blizzards happen. You just never know. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to share a few highlights of our Christmas break with you! Nick was able to take the week of Christmas off as my best friend and her family were coming to stay for the week. That meant that Nick had two and a half weeks off! It was awesome. Definitely no complaints from me!

The week before Christmas we were given a really great opportunity to do a tour of the White House with Nick’s alumni association. We had to be into the city about 8:30, but we hopped on the metro, and got there with time to spare. I didn’t really know what to expect, but you get to see some pretty cool things! It was definitely an experience I’ll remember.

These snowmen were out on the lawn How fun are they?!
White House Tour

Lincoln! I loved this portrait.
White House Tour

How many times will you get the opportunity to get your photo taken under the REAL presidential seal??
White House Tour

Our framily (friends that are family) arrived on Sunday afternoon, just in time to relax a bit before heading to church (I love 5:00 service!) The kids had never been to DC, so we headed out on Monday to see ALL THE THINGS. We walked almost 12 miles that day! Needless to say, by the end of the day, we were beat! The weather was great, so we were able to get some great shots at the city’s most iconic spots.

This was taken outside the Lincoln Memorial.
Christmas Break 2015

I had purchased tickets for us ahead of time to go up into the Washington Monument. You can save yourself a couple dollars a person, and wait in line first thing in the morning on the day you want to go, but we didn’t want the hassle of getting 7 people ready, and making it into the city on time to do that. So I sucked it up and paid for the tickets. No biggie. It was actually pretty cool! You take an elevator up to the observatory, and then on the way down, you can see some really intricate stones that were gifted from various states in the U.S.

Here was a great view of the Jefferson Memorial:
Christmas Break 2015

And the back of the White House:
Christmas Break 2015

We were also able to see the National Christmas Tree at night. It was so beautiful!
Christmas Break 2015

Christmas Break 2015<

After Christmas breakfast, gifts, and some full-on lounging about, we all piled in the car to head to Harpers Ferry for a Christmas hike. It was foggy and overcast, but we were able to enjoy a nice, easy hike before the rain hit.
Christmas Break 2015

We had such a fun time with friends, and it was so sad to see them leave. But we definitely made loads of memories together. We also had a family poker tournament on Christmas night, and we all lost to the 17 year old. He was really motivated to win the $20!

What fun things did you do for Christmas?

Weekend Fun

After having various members of our family here to visit over the past month, Nick and I are finally back into a regular routine. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun to have people stay with us, but it’s also nice when it goes back to normal life, too! (as boring as that may be 😉 ) This past weekend, Nick and I didn’t have a single thing on the calendar, so the weekend was free to explore and have fun!

Saturday morning we left shortly before 9, and headed off towards Rockville, MD. I had done a search online to find the elusive pumpkin Dandies, and my search showed that Dawson’s Market in Rockville had them in stock. (the finder also said that a store in Leesburg had them, but they didn’t, so I wasn’t holding out much hope) While they didn’t have pumpkin Dandies (sob!), they did have a bunch of other great things, so I grabbed a couple of the Enjoy Life mixes that I’ve seen floating around on social media, and online. I snagged the pizza crust, brownie mix, and muffin mix. Those were the 3 that they had, and I’m excited to try them all! Since we were so close, we decided to swing by Roots Market in Olney, MD because that place is a vegan heaven! They have sooooo many great vegan options! And! THEY HAD PUMPKIN DANDIES! And gluten free earth balance mac & cheese! Woo hoo! We had just been there a couple of weeks previous (while on our way to BWI to pick up my bro-in-law from the airport) and they hadn’t had either item. So, of course, we had to stop by a new Whole Foods on our way home! They didn’t have anything we can’t get here at home, save for a bag of vegan, locally made, dog treats! It was a day to get a treat for everyone!

Here a just a few of the goodies we scored!
Haul of goodies!

Yesterday ended up being a beautiful day and so we took off to Alexandria for Doggy Trick or Treating! I know, I know. We totally THOSE people. But you know what? We don’t care! It was so much fun! We stopped at The Dog Park for our goodie bag and map of stores that were giving out treats for Halloween. While we didn’t have a costume for Olive, she did wear a festive space bandana (from her BarkBox) that got a lot of positive comments.
Space Pup

We walked around for over 2 hours gathering treats from over 25 businesses in Alexandria. Olive met tons of dog friends, got loads of pets, and came home with a bag chock full of treats! Oh, and Nick and I had a lot of fun, too. Before heading back to the car we stopped for a family picture. I’m pretty sure Olive’s face says it all. She was worn out!
Awkward Family Photo

It didn’t take long for her to relax in the car on the way home, either. Isn’t she the cutest?! Oh, and if you notice that funny scar on her leg, that’s from her stitches she had to get a few weeks ago. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time with a playful pup at the dog park. She’s all healed up now, though, and even when she had the stitches, she didn’t let anything stop her from having fun!
Worn out pup

It was a fun weekend! We ended last night with a great night at church, homemade mac & cheese, and “Homeland”. Couldn’t ask for better!

How was your weekend?