Saturday, March 29, 2008

Meeting the Family

My parents took us around and made sure that we met a lot of the investigators and new church members that they’ve been working with. I felt like we already knew so many of them through reading my parents’ letters and talking to them on the phone but meeting them in person was so much better! Here are just a couple of people we got to meet:
This little boy James and Keely hit it right off and had so much fun running around the church while we all enjoyed a pizza party. We also had so much fun getting to know Yvonne (James’ mom) and really hope to get to see her again while we’re here. She’s a really incredible person.
Mark and Karen have been a very special couple in my mom’s and dad’s lives. Karen is a member of the church and Mark was just baptized about a week before we got here. His story is so incredible, the changes he’s made and the things he has given up to become a member is truly touching, I’m sorry I really couldn’t do it justice on the blog but it was such a pleasure to meet them.
Last but not least I have to mention the 4 missionaries that my parents work with (from left to right Elder Brons, Elder McKnight, Elder Vander Does and Elder Collett). They have really come to be like family to my parents and I can see why. They are such great guys and not only were they helpful and spiritual, but they were so much fun. Keely exclaimed several times that these 4 are her favorite Elders she’s ever met and I have to say that saying goodbye to them at the airport when we were heading back to Adelaide was the toughest thing we’ve done since we got here. I really felt like crying knowing that this would probably be the last time we’d see them. Elder Collett also really gained favor with Keely by buying her a little stuffed kangaroo as a souvenir. We will always be grateful that, even though it was a short amount of time, we got to know these 4 great missionaries.

3 Alice Places

Dinner and a Show : This was fun. We enjoyed dinner while learning more about aboriginal culture and then enjoyed some aboriginal dances before dessert. Delsa even talked me into trying kangaroo, which really just takes like steak but made me feel bad because I think kangaroos are so cute.
Desert Park: This is really just a “walkabout” in different desert habitats. Again we saw some great wildlife but the highlight was a great bird show.

Reptile Center: Brave Keely held all the lizards and wanted to even hold the snake but unfortunately the snake was bigger than her. She still got to pet it though!

My Very Own Kangaroo!

One of Keely’s true highlights on this trip so far was a little joey that Grandma and Grandpa brought over to their flat for her to play with. One of the aboriginal families that my mom and dad work with brought the baby kangaroo home after it lost its mom and the cute little thing is pretty sure it’s a dog. The only problem was that Ben really wanted to wrestle with the poor thing and at one point had it in a pretty good headlock. After that we had to have him keep his distance!

Alice Springs

Now up to Alice Springs to see Grandma and Grandpa Shumway! Elder Jackson, who is an Area Seventy spent the night at the Quinns and planned on joining us for our trip to Alice Springs. I was in my room getting all packed and ready in the morning when Keely popped in and excitedly said, “Mom, you’ll want to see the man taking us to the airport, he is so handsome!” I was cracking up because I knew that she was talking about Elder Jackson who she apparently thought was just our driver. Fortunately, he also got a good laugh about it.

It was wonderful to get off the plane, round the corner and see their faces. Keely ran into Grandma Lynda’s arms and poor Grandma just lost it, she burst into tears, which of course made Grandma Delsa and me tear up also. Ben was sound asleep meanwhile and Grandpa Jim was more than pleased to take him off my hands! Traveling with missionaries is a whole new experience, President Quinn was holding a Zone conference in Alice and we brought 5 bikes, our luggage, their luggage, and the 2 Assistants’ luggage. We were quite the sight!


Easter in Australia is interesting. All the Easter candy is chocolate, they don’t have baskets or Easter grass, and they don’t color eggs, probably because all the eggs are brown. We managed to improvise by boiling eggs and then using magic marker to draw on them, and we borrowed one of Grandma Delsa’s baskets that she had lying around her house. The highlight of Keely’s day had to be her Easter present from Grandma Delsa and Grandpa Bob, a Spiderman costume!

Wildlife Park

Grandma and Grandpa Quinn took us to visit Adelaide’s Wildlife Park where you can feed the kangaroos and hold the koalas. Keely had so much fun trying to persuade the kangaroos to come eat from her hand and I loved getting to hold a koala. The koala actually smelled really great and the staff told me that the eucalyptus oils actually seep through their skin giving them a really nice smell. We had such a great time!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

To Grandma and Grandpa’s House We Go!

Were we happy to get here! Seeing Grandma and Grandpa for the first time in a year and a half was so surreal and we have been having such a great time. The first day we just kind of relaxed so that we could get the kids (especially Ben) back on schedule. Keely was pretty entertained by the missionary office staff. All you have to do is walk right out grandma and grandpa’s front door to the office and Keely went to introduce herself early in the day. She was more than happy to help grandma make cookies and take them over to the Elders and to the missionary couple in the office and asked if she could go over to the office about 20 times that day. One time when we were heading to the park she said, “I should really go tell the people in the office where we are going, but I’ll let them know that they probably can’t come because they have too much work to do!” Sister Kirk, who also works in the office very quickly became Ben’s favorite by feeding him chocolate and carrying him around for about an hour pointing at birds and plants. We could use that kind of babysitting all the time!

The kids have both warmed up to grandma and grandpa quickly and in fact Keely paid grandma the ultimate compliment. If you know Keely well you know she’s got a very exclusive circle and about half the time I’m the only one in it. Well, after the first day when I went to put Keely to bed she said, “Mom, tell grandma that if she wants to put me to bed one night that would be all right.” If you don’t know Keely this may not seem like a big deal, if you do know Keely you know how special this makes grandma feel; I was actually shocked that she’d make such an allowance – that’s true love!

Any child who’s met Grandpa Bob has heard his famous “giant jelly bean” stories. Well, this was another highlight of Keely’s day. She and Shawn went outside and drew giant jelly beans all over grandma and grandpa’s driveway and then came in and listened to the giant jelly bean creator himself fill her with all kinds of new GJB tales. It’s so good to be here!


Sydney is a beautiful city with a ton to do and we only had 2 days to do it! The first day we took a ferry to Circular Quay which had absolutely gorgeous views of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

We then took a ferry to Taranga Zoo which takes you on kind of a ski lift up to the top of the park and the ride is beautiful, you can see so much of the city.

The second day we went to the Aquarium at Darling Harbour and then it was off to Adelaide to see Grandma and Grandpa Quinn!

We Made It!

And I am happy to report that there is very little to report about the plane trips. The kids were absolute angels (I don’t like saying that out loud because I feel like I’m going to jinx our return)! On our longest flight, the one from LA to Sydney, the plane sat on the tarmac for 2 hours while they fixed some problem with the satellite. They made everyone de-board because the temperature was getting too high in the cabin but our kids had already fallen asleep and it was 2:00 AM Michigan time. When the stewardess approached Shawn about getting off he was like “we’re not getting off this plane.” She actually went and got permission for us to stay on which was very nice considering the fact that they made every other person on the whole plane return to the terminal. I tried really hard to not let the fact that this turned our 14 hour flight into a 16 hour flight bug me; in the end things could have really been far worse. Ben only had screaming fits a couple times but the great thing is that he had kind of lost his voice due to a cold/cough which he had recovered from right before the trip so his scream was little more than hollow air. Who knew that Ben losing his voice would be such a blessing?

The only other memorable moment related to the flight was when we finally got to Sydney. The first thing I was ready for was a shower! As soon as we got to our hotel I hopped in and that’s when I saw my ankles; actually I didn’t see my ankles at all which completely freaked me out! I guess I didn’t walk enough or drink enough water but my ankles were seriously swollen. I’m happy to report that my ankles returned after a good nights’ sleep…phew!

Friday, March 14, 2008

On a Journey to the Outback

All right, maybe not on a journey, I just thought that sounded adventurous! We are leaving in the morning for a 3 1/2 week vacation in Australia where both Shawn's parents and my parents are serving missions. We are super excited, but a little nervous for the 20 + hours of plane time as well as the 13 1/2 hour time difference with 2 small kids. I'm going to try to post at least once a week so I have a good record of our trip. Wish us luck!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Happy Birthday Ben!

It is hard to believe that 1 year ago today Ben was born. That day we experienced an incredible range of emotions as a family and I love this picture because it was taken about 2 seconds after we first laid eyes on him and you can see so many of those things. Great happiness, tears of joy, emotional exhaustion...

Ben has been such an incredible blessing in our lives. He has brought so much joy into our home with his easy going personality, as well as his easy smile. I always call Ben my little puppy because when someone he loves walks into a room he gets soooo excited! He breaks into a big grin and if he's REAL happy to see you his whole body will shake. Whenever I walk into his room to get him in the morning or after his nap I know he's going to be sitting up waiting with a BIG smile for me under the little binkie that very seldom leaves his mouth.

Here are a few things I want to remember:
  • Right now Ben's favorite things are toilets, faucets, lights, clocks and candlesticks
  • One of his favorite things to do is get me or dad to pick him up and then direct us through the house by pointing his finger at different objects and saying "dis" or "dat" which we're pretty sure means "what's this?" and "what's that?"
  • When Ben gets tired he says "nigh, nigh, nigh, nigh!" which means "night, night!"
  • He says "dada" way more than "mama" but says mama when he's upset.
  • When he's feeling well there's nothing in the world that excites him more than food and fortunately he's not a picky eater.
  • Ben follows Keely around and wants to do everything she's doing but doesn't quite get that what he's really doing is just messing her stuff up. Fortunately Keely's pretty patient with Ben!
  • He has the best smile and the best laugh in the world!

Happy Birthday baby, we love you and can't imagine this world without you!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Michigan Spring

For those of you that are enjoying 70 degree weather this is what Keely and I did yesterday. Oh yeah, and the fun's not over yet; there's more snow on the way tomorrow! Makes you want to move here doesn't it?? Spring in Michigan usually starts mid-April if we're lucky but on good years it will snow then too.