Thursday, March 26, 2020

The Hardest Working Member of our Household

Heaven knows we're all working harder these days in a lot of ways. We're working hard to share space, stay motivated, get healthy, eat well, adapt to change, care for each other, and not throttle the other members of our families while cooped up for waaaaaaaay longer than we ever thought possible.

Like so many other folks, there's a lot of good stuff happening around my home:
After school gets done, a healthy combination of cord-sorting and Animal Crossing
When you don't have enough desks for everybody, you get to share!
Board games!
Ben organized his unicycles
Staying healthy exercising at home (thanks to our local yoga studio streaming classes!)
Doing lots of errands by bike

But hands down, there's one member of our family whose efforts far outstrip the rest of us, working tirelessly to keep us healthy and clean...
Thank you, trusty dishwasher! It is UNREAL how many dishes we go through with everybody home, eating at home, all the time. Seriously, we run a full load of dishes at least once a day. We are actually occasionally running out of forks in just one day's usage. It's astounding.

I have never been so grateful for my dishwasher.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Mourning Mexico

Over the past 8 years, the Hogar de Amor orphanage in Colima, Mexico has become a huge part of our lives and has captured our hearts. Every year, we lead a group of folks from our CenterPoint Church family down to Colima to encourage, support, and be loved on by the kids and caregivers of Hogar de Amor. Our brothers and sisters in Colima truly are our family.

This year, we are unable to take our scheduled trip in April because of the border closings - and we are gutted. It's incomprehensible to us that we won't be spending April in Mexico, and we are mourning missing this trip as a family.

But regardless of whether we can travel to Mexico, the need at Hogar de Amor continues! Will you join us in supporting the orphanage's needs? You can donate online at (select Mexico Mission Trip as the fund) or make checks out to CenterPoint Church with a memo of "Mexico trip" and mail them to us. Or if Venmo or Paypal are easier for you, just email or text us and we're happy to send your donation down to Mexico.

And above all, please pray for Hogar de Amor. Pray for the kids' health and safety and continued emotional growth even in a tough time. Pray for the caregivers and volunteers at Hogar de Amor as they now need to provide schooling on-site in addition to all of their other responsibilities. Pray that each person at Hogar de Amor would feel God's love, every day.

Every year, we put together a letter as a family explaining how much Hogar de Amor means to us and sharing our heart for Colima with family and friends.

This year, we asked the girls if they wanted to share a little about their experiences in Mexico and I was blown away by what they shared:

My name is Sasha. I have gone to Hogar de Amor about three years. This will be my fourth. I enjoy it all because I learn some really important lessons about poverty and what it means to “Help”. When I go there I feel like I'm doing something really great and important in my life and make a big change in the world. I feel like when I grow up that I will lead a mission trip to make orphanages and kids a great place to be. This is very important to me in my life and I feel like we should all put some kind of help into this mission trip for the children and their families, caregivers, friends, and everyone in this world.

 The Hogar De Amor orphanage is full of kids with either family problems or have no relatives. We go there to help the kids go through some hard times and help the orphanage. We like to go there to have fun with the kids and to have a great time with them. We go there every year to have fun. Some great things about this trip is that we get to make great relationships with the kids. We go there to make a difference in the world and help people in need. If you can’t go with us and you still want to be part of our team we would love donations for the trip. All of the donations will go to fund activities and supplies for the trip and for the orphanage. Last year we were able to save enough money to help build the new adolescent’s boy home which is so beautiful and they love it. The donations each year make a great impact and the orphanage gets better every year.

My name is WanYing, I have been going on the Mexico Mission trip for a few years and it’s so cool to see all the kids and how happy they are to see us when we come. It’s a nice little break for the caregivers, too, because when we go down we hang out and do crafts and activities with the kids and that means the caregivers can take a rest when we’re doing those things.

One of the things that’s cool about going is you can make some friends or buddies and if you go again they’ll remember you and want to hang out again.

Truly, Hogar de Amor has become part of our family’s identity and mission over the past 8 years as we have traveled annually to Colima, Mexico. As a family, we are proud and grateful to support Hogar de Amor Orphanage with our time, prayer, and finances year-round.

We invite you to join us in support of the orphanage financially. If you choose to donate, your entire donation will go to Hogar de Amor. Thanks for being an important part of our support team.  We are grateful for your prayers and enthusiasm for our family, and for the kids and caregivers of Hogar de Amor!

Monday, March 23, 2020

Sh*t Gets Real

Sorry if the post title offends, but it's just so perfect for today's adventures!

Today after dinner some of us went out on a romp to get our wiggles out. As we were on our walk, Chorney stopped to poo and, for reasons none of us will ever understand, ChenXing stopped to sniff at Chorney and Chorney pooed on her head!

ChenXing has never been the sharpest crayon in the box, but - really?!? All I could think was, "Yep, of course the dog got poo on her head. That's just par for the course today."

Y'all, this is a heavy time! And it's ok that it feels a hard. Today in Utah the Governor extended the school-from-home period until May 1st. Friday the border between Mexico and the US closed and we cancelled our annual Mexico trip. Thursday Steve was furloughed from his job. We have 6 people working/schooling-from-home in 1700 square feet. I'm desk sharing with my son who is also doing remote school! And I am keenly aware that as rough as all of this is on us, we have it easy compared to many!

There's a lot to be grateful for, and more than anything we have confidence because we serve a God who is bigger than every virus, every hardship. It's ok to simultaneously feel blessed and grateful and also the sinking punch-in-the-stomach of shit getting real. I know I've felt a big ol' mix of both these past couple of weeks.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

The Wave

Welcome back to our blog! Like everybody else, in this time of school-from-home, work-from-home, everything-from-home, we've been looking for constructive outlets for our energy and yesterday Sasha latched on to catching us up on our family scrapbooks! A couple of years ago, I finally caught up on our multi-year scrapbook backlog (link to that celebration here) and now Sasha is carrying that torch!

It's been so cool seeing how much my kids love looking through our scrapbooks, connecting to treasured memories, and reading the corresponding blog posts that describe our adventures. This is such an important time for our whole family to feel that connection to our past and to our stories. So, in honor of Sasha picking up our scrapbooking, I'm going to try and come back to blogging!

There's so. much. to. say. So let's start with beautiful photos of our amazing state!

The Wave is part of the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument and I have wanted to visit for years (and years and years). The landscape is fragile, and the BLM limits entry to The Wave to 20 people per day - 10 from an online lottery and 10 from an in-person lottery. The online lottery takes place each month, three months in advance of the month they're issuing passes for, and I've been applying for years. In December, our number came up and we got to purchase passes! For March 18th. You know, the first week when Coronavirus rewrote our reality for Utah residents.

Steve and I went back and forth (and back and forth) on whether or not to go, but finally decided that any location that only issues 20 entries per day was as isolated as we could ask for.

I am so grateful that we decided to go. Spending a day in the sunshine and rain and sand and rock and fresh air was an amazing boost to our spirits. And marveling at God's creation anchored our souls in a profound way. Truly, what seemed like the worst time imaginable for a trip to the desert ended up being a complete godsend. And there's nothing like a 7-mile hike to ensure you sleep well at night, regardless of the anxiety of the present time!

Here are some highlights from the hike:
The diagonal sections of sandstone layers were so cool!
A dinosaur track
I'm such a sucker for the wavy lines in the sandstone!

And, finally, we made it! Entering The Wave is an amazing experience. The folded lines of sandstone, the colors, it truly is awe-inspiring. Plus, there's lots of space to climb, and you know my kids love to climb!

Our entry into The Wave did begin with a bit of a mishap. See that giant pool of water and the fairly steep rock sides surrounding it? Well... WanYing went first and successfully navigated the pool. And then I went next and ended up soaked to the knees with very squishy hiking boots. At this point, the others found an alternate path. Ah, well, at least I was wearing quick-dry pants.

WanYing shakes the sand out of her boots
Sasha in The Wave entrance that didn't threaten wet feet

There's a reason that everybody's reviews of The Wave include ten million photos and continually-effusive language - it's simply an amazing experience. Throughout the day, it was so cool to see how the rocks changed color when the sun peaked in and out of the clouds, and how the entire landscape turned maroon when the clouds did finally open into rain and sleet.

We also hiked above The Wave to get another view and do some more scrambling, jumping, and climbing. WanYing is really missing her time at the climbing gym since they closed (groan), so at least she was able to get a little bouldering in!

Finally, the rain that had been threatening all day did come and we got to see the beauty of the wet desert. We got showers and sleet, but it wasn't too cold and it certainly didn't interrupt the fun of our hike. It was especially cool to see The Wave turn into a series of cascades as the water tumbled down the sandstone. The desert in the rain is every bit as pretty as the bright-and-sunny desert!

It took years to happen, but I think our trip to The Wave ended up coming at exactly the right time.


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