Thursday, May 19, 2011

Kyle's Belated Birthday

Kyle had a birthday while Mark and I were trekking across the other side of the world...the first of my children's birthdays I have ever missed.  It killed me that I couldn't be there.  I was able to make a quick phone call so I could hear his excited little voice on his special day.

The only thing that made it okay with him to have his mommy not be there to make a big deal about his special day was the promise that he could have two parties - one with his siblings and Aunt Jamie on his actual birthday, and one with us when we returned from our trip.

We didn't waste any time getting down to business upon our return...

Kyle picked out his cake/frosting flavors and then insisted on sprinkles, gummy bears, and red hots as decorations for the cake...

This was a "family birthday" year for Kyle.  In our family we do big "friend parties" when our kids are one, five, eight, twelve, and sixteen (with an exception here and there).  The other years are celebrated with mostly just our family.  We will usually allow them to have a friend or two over for our family dinner, cake & ice cream, and the opening of presents.  Regardless of what year it is, the birthday child gets to choose what they want for all their meals for the day.

This year Kyle asked for his friend, Desmond, to join us.

They had so much fun together!

Kyle's big gift from us this year was something he had been asking about for quite some time...


He asked Bryan to help him learn how to use them.  He was a little apprehensive.  Actually they are harder than they look!
 What do I love about my birthday boy?

1) Nonstop energy!

2) Persistance.  Kyle will keep trying and trying until he learns something.  If his big brothers or sister can do something, be believes he can too (and USUALLY he can!).

3) "I love you mommy!" (Kyle is really great at reminding me of this all the time).

4) Wonderful helper.  Kyle loves to help me - especially secretively.

5) So appreciative of my cooking.  This kid never tires of asking "What's for dinner?"  He always tells me how much he loves what I cook (unless it has beans - that's the one thing he doesn't like).


Monday, May 16, 2011

Kyle's 7th Birthday!

Thank goodness for my sister Jamie!  Kyle turned seven while Mark and I were on our trip to Israel.  I felt so bad that I wouldn't be able to be there, but she assured me she would make sure Kyle felt special on his special day.  I assured Kyle we would do another celebration when I returned.  Jamie took pictures for me so I could see how things went...

(please excuse the red eyes - not my normal camera)

I'm so glad my family was there to make sure Kyle's birthday was fabulous!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Trip of a Lifetime! (Days 16 & 17)

Saturday, May 14th

The next day we said goodbye to the Red Sea Resort and got on the bus one final time to travel out of Egypt and back to Israel to the Tel Aviv Airport - a trip that took around six hours.

A view of the Red Sea as we drove out of Taba, Egypt.  The water was so beautiful...

Here you can see the coral reef that winds around the shores of the Red Sea...

One last view of the Castle of Saladin...

We had another red-eye flight going home that left around midnight.  I think everyone slept quite a bit on that flight - we were all VERY tired.  We were also SUPER excited to get home to our four kids.  We missed them like crazy!!

Here are some of the fun things we picked up on our trip to remember where we had been:

We bought this from one of the Bedouin men selling souvenirs by the Royal Tombs in Petra.

This was the necklace and bracelet I bought from the bedouin lady for Morgan...

This flute was made out of a reed of some kind.  When we were walking through the Roman ruins at Jerash, Jordan we bought one for each of our kids from a man walking around selling them.

We brought home money for our kids from each of the three countries we visited - Jordan, Israel, and Egypt...

I got this outside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.  I thought it would be fun to use around Christmas time.

A lady in Bethlehem makes these Bethlehem Baby Blankets.  We got one for each of our children to save and use for blessing their babies when they have children of their own...

I got this beautiful handmade leather bag in a shop in old town Jerusalem.  I thought it would be fun to use for church.

This is an actual ancient coin we bought that is from the time of Christ called a mite.  This is actually about 2,000 years old.  It was worth the least amount at that time of any coin.  This is the type of coin talked about in the New Testament in the story of "the widow's mite" (Mark 12:41-44)

I wanted to bring something back for my children, family members, and the kids in my Primary.  We have 160 kids in Primary so it had to be small, lightweight, and inexpensive.  I had the idea of bringing them back an olive leaf from the olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane.  I attached it to a bookmark I made and laminated them.  The words on the bookmark are to a song our family loves called "Gethsemane".

We were also able to buy olive oil in Jerusalem and then have Mark consecrate it in the Garden of Gethsemane.  We used it as a special gift to some of our friends and family.  The tag we attached is a picture I took in a grove of 2,000 year old olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane.

So many of the locals wore these scarf looking things over their heads, styled either like Kyle and Colton (loosely draped over their head with the black thing to hold it in place), or like Bryan (wrapped around the head with the edges tucked in and the rest draping down their back).  Kyle and Colton are also holding their slingshots made like the one David would have used to fight Goliath.

We brought each of our boys a slingshot styled after the kind David used to fight Goliath... 

The bright green little scarf tied around Morgan's waist we bought on the streets in Bethlehem.  The pink scarf around her head, the blue skirt, and the earrings were bought at a little shop in old town Jerusalem.

The shopkeeper said the earrings are made from actual Arabic coins and are meant to attract men.  We don't want those earrings to do their job for quite a few more years!

Mark had this ring made while we were in Israel.  On the outside he had it say "Return With Honor".  For those who might be unfamiliar with this saying, it refers to returning to our Heavenly Father with honor - not doing anything that would make him not be proud of us.  On the inside it says "Jerusalem 2011".

I got this necklace at a shop in Israel that caters to a lot of BYU Jerusalem Center students.  It is a Liahona - the ball that directed Nephi and his family when they left Jerusalem in 600 BC to journey to the Promised Land here in the Americas.  (1 Nephi)

These are recreations of the ancient oil lamps used at the time of Christ.  We brought back one for each of our kids and talked about letting their light shine and setting a good example.  We also talked about the story of the 10 virgins and its significance about being prepared.

This is probably the purchase we were the most excited about.  This is an actual ancient oil lamp and a cruse that would have been used to fill it.  They are actually 2,000 years old!  We got them in Jerusalem.  John Lund has a lot of experience with antiquities and helped anyone who wanted them to get the real deal.  We were really worried about getting them home in one piece - but we did.

This is an alabaster vase containing Spikenard that we purchased in Israel.  The significance of this is found in the New Testament (Mark 14:3) where it talks about an alabaster box with the spikenard.  The spikenard smells really good!  These are the types of things that were being made in places like the alabaster factory we visited in Luxor, Egypt.

This is a pottery shard we found while walking around the archaeological dig in Beit Lehi (in Israel).  There were lots of them scattered all over the hillsides.

We purchased the next four pieces at a shop in Old Town Jerusalem.  There are several that cater to BYU students with pieces of significance to members of our church.  We loved these pieces because they were all made of olive wood from the area.  This statue of Christ was special to us because it portrays him smiling.

This eagle was significant to Mark because he is an Eagle Scout.  As each of our boys gets their Eagle he plans to add their name to a plaque at the bottom of the eagle.

This is a carving of the Liahona talked about in 1 Nephi of the Book of Mormon (1 Nephi 16).

We bought these because of the significance of the story of the "Loaves and the Fishes" (Matthew 14).

This lamp didn't have any biblical significance, but I just loved it!

I had this Egyptian cartouche necklace and bracelet made while we were in Egypt.  The necklace has my name in hieroglyphics.  Here are the meanings of each:

D - helping hand
A - eagle of courage
N - waters of life
E - feather of truth and justice
T - loaf of bread
T - (above)
E - (above)

The bracelet has the first initial of each of my children in hieroglyphics.

B - leg (likes walking/wandering/activities)
M - owl of wisdom
C - stick (dependent)
K - basket (likes collecting anything)

We haggled with a shopkeeper for the two headpieces pictured below outside the Muhammad Ali Mosque in Cairo, Egypt...

As I sit here after our trip writing about what we saw and felt, I have had opportunity to relive it.  What I appreciate most about this trip are the feelings I experienced as I stood on sacred ground - sacred because our Savior was there.  Those feelings come from my testimony of my Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ.  I am so grateful for the life of my Savior, Jesus Christ.  I am so thankful for my family.  I am so thankful for my membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  It is so nice to know where I came from, why I am here, and where I am going.  I know my Heavenly Father loves me and is aware of me each and every day.  This trip allowed us to be in the places Christ lived and walked 2,000 years ago, but we are also blessed to be able to talk to a loving Father in Heaven every single day.  He is always there for us and am eternally grateful to Him and to his Son. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Trip of a Lifetime! (Day 15)

Friday, May 13th

Our time of touring was at an end.  This last entire day was spent relaxing at our five-star Marriott Red Sea Beach Resort.  We were all EXHAUSTED - but in a good way.  We were able to see SO much on this trip.  I will remember it forever.
We started the day with some volleyball on the beach.  Then Mark and I went snorkeling with Jace and Zac in some of the prettiest coral reefs in the world.  I always thought the beautiful colors you see in the ocean in the Disney movie "Finding Nemo" were exaggerated - they weren't!  It was absolutely gorgeous down there - bright and colorful!  We saw so many huge beautiful schools of fish that were so close you could reach out and touch them.  We also saw eels.  There were so many beautiful corals to see.  We swam about 1/2 mile in about an hour.  I was pretty tired when we got out, but it was so worth it!

We swam in the huge beautiful pool below that wraps around through the resort with beautiful caves and waterfalls.  And we treated ourselves to yummy ice cream cones.