Friday, August 29, 2008

Stephens Family Vacation

I've been putting off writing this post for two reasons: 1) I had about a bazillion pictures to look through, and 2) I knew that looking through them all would make me miss my family. The last time we were all together was three years ago, in 2005. My brother was graduating from high school, and Josh, Julie, and tiny 6-week old Michaela were getting ready to move to Texas. Now, three years later, the Marcums live in Bolivia and have three precious girls, we went to Japan and back and had a baby of our own, and my brother Matt is starting his senior year at ACU. A lot has happened in just three years. A lot more will probably happen in the next three or four years, or however long it is until we are all together again. It is painful to think of all that we are "missing out on" by not living closer to each other. Honestly, this is one of the things that grieves me most about the missionary life.

Alright, enough of that! We had a wonderful week at a totally awesome lake house in Port Sanilac, Michigan, right on the shores of Lake Huron. The weather was absolutely gorgeous the entire week, with the exception of one rainy day. Here's some of what we did:

We played at the park...

Alex and Uncle Josh

Michaela and Alex

Laura and Eliana (Isn't she the cutest?)

We played games...

Scotland Yard is a favorite!

So is Risk.

We swam in the lake, played in the sand, and threw rocks in the lake...

Uncle Matt, Alex, and Rusty

We swang (okay, I know swang is a word, but that just looks weird)...

We blew bubbles with Nyanya...

We read stories...

Reading in the pea-pod was a favorite activity!

Story-time with Nyanya

We helped Nyanya in the kitchen...

As you can see, Alex is not afraid of exploring his feminine side!

Of course, we had lots of yummy food...

Rusty and I made a Japanese meal one night.

And we roasted marshmallows and made s'mores out on the patio.

We celebrated Matt's 22nd birthday...

We snuggled with Baby Jana...

Some other favorite shots:

The cousins, all together for the first time!

Alex and Michaela

Uncle Rusty loves his nieces!

Auntie Laura and sweet Jana

Sisters, friends

For lots more pictures (as if you haven't seen enough!), see Julie's post at the Marcum blog.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Catching Up (Part 2)

Our friends the Gearson's have a family membership to the Children's Museum of Memphis, a truly amazing place. They have taken Alex with them a couple of times this summer, and Rusty and I even got to tag along once! We had so much fun -- there is so much to see and do! An added bonus -- it's a great way to escape the summer heat and humidity.

Curious George putt-putt

Riding a police motorcycle

In the cock-pit of the Fed-Ex plane

Fireman Alex

This was one of his favorite things -- a pretend river with plastic boats and fish magnets that you could "fish" for. He would have played here all day!

In July, Alex got to go to Esther's birthday party at the Little Gym. He had so much fun climbing, running, jumping, bouncing, playing games with the other kids, and of course, eating cake and ice-cream!

Playing with a parachute

He absolutely loved bouncing on this thing!

"Wookit me, Mommy!"

Sugar rush!

And finally, just because I think they are cute, here are some pictures of Alex in one of Rusty's old T-shirts. KPRB is the name of the radio station Rusty's dad worked for when Rusty was Alex's age.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Catching Up (Part 1)

Well, after the frenzy of posts (35!) last month, you may be wondering if we have fallen off the face of the earth. Rest assured, we are still here; we have just been really busy. It feels like we have been on the go all summer. Probably because, well, we have! So, bear with me as I try to catch you up on all our (non-survey trip related) goings-on. Lots of pics to follow!

This first set of pics is from July 4th, which we spent in Thyatira, Mississippi with our friends Jeff and Angie. We had a barbeque and swam in the pool. Pretty low-key, but we enjoyed our visit with them.

Alex and Jesse had a great time swimming in the pool together!

Taking a break with Daddy

Alex and Mackenzie were so happy to be reunited after five whole weeks apart! Mackenzie didn't hardly want to let Alex out of her sight the first few days. I think she thought we might whisk him off to the other side of the world again while her back was turned!

Two all-American kiddos!

Bath-time fun

I love this picture!

Life at Harding Grad is super exciting!

Park Avenue (our church) hosted a community ice-cream social with a petting zoo for the kiddos. We invited the Gearsons to come with us, and everyone had a great time.

Petting the goat with Mackenzie

Feeding the sheep (I think it's a sheep!) Instead of taking a handfull of the pellets, he kept trying to shove the whole bucket in their faces!

Alex and Mommy

The next week, we went to Chuck E Cheese with the Gearsons. It was Alex's first time to go. He was a little bit overwhelmed at first, but he had a great time. He keeps asking when we can go again! Unfortunately, not anytime soon, since it was rather an expensive outing!

A game of air hockey

I love the look of intense concentration (on both their faces!)

Posing for a picture with Chuck himself

He was so excited when he realized he got to turn in his tickets at the end of the night and get a prize -- a new Hot Wheels car!

Special thanks to Laurel for letting me bum a bunch of the above pictures from her Facebook albums!