Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The last full day

Well, it's the last full day of the Gathering. I can hardly believe it! We've been working so hard for so long -- three years of planning and two years of meetings ... four and a half days of intense coverage -- our team works from about 7:30 a.m. till about 2 a.m. So really, there's only about five hours where our cozy little media office of 25 iMacs is deserted. It's been quite an event! The first photo shows the Mass Event stage during a light/sound check. The theme of the Gathering this year, is CHOSEN. The photo of us is for Gabriel and Asher, who have "requested" it. This is mommy and daddy in the office where we've been working/living the past few days! We love you guys!! The photo of the crowds shows just one of the many entrances where the youth wait to get into the nightly Mass Event space. The other photos are of the "Jesus Painter," an amazing guy who performed at the Mass Event last night. While the music is playing, he takes about 5-10 minutes and completely creates an AMAZING work of art on canvas -- last night he started with a crucifixion scene, which, within moments, was transformed into a picture of Christ's face. The crowd went CRAZY for him. He's had about 2,000 people showing up for his sectional, which is held twice every day here in the convention center. Tomorrow morning is the last Mass Event and then we're done!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Gathering is Here!

Yesterday was the first day of the Gathering. I wish I could put into words how thrilling it is to see 30,000 teens flood into the mass event space. The picture of the crowd here, is one that you have to multiply by about 30, to get an idea of the sheer size of the audience. Let's just put it this way .... the mass event floor is half-a-million square feet large, and it's filled with screaming, yelling, energized teenagers. In other words ... it's OVERWHELMING. My brother-in-law, Leon, is one of the three emcee's for the event. Here are some shots of him on stage at the first Mass Event last night. He ROCKED! He did such a great job! We're all really proud of him! Check out the live Gathering website. My team of four writers are reponsible for putting copy on the web all day, as well as meeting a daily publication deadline for "The Peel" which is a Gathering newsletter that goes out to a couple thousand adult leaders. My personal favorite story online right now, is the one on the flying, screaming monkeys, a great item they're selling here at the gift stores. If you look at the story, our photography/visuals team put togther a fun little stop-motion video that shows the monkey flying. And yes, that's Nate in the "video." Check it out here.

Friday, July 27, 2007

In Orlando

Well, I'm here! We've arrived in Orlando Florida for the 2007 National Youth Gathering -- all day today and tomorrow, 35,000 excited, energized, hormonal teenagers will descend upon the city ready to have fun and celebrate their Christianity. It's gonna be an amazing time!
Our trip was okay -- although I cried like crazy saying goodbye to my boys! It was REALLY hard! I'm not sure why it was so rough on me! Asher didn't really understand. He kept lookng at my tear-streaked face and saying "Cry??" over and over. Other than that, the trip was mostly uneventful. My lovely pinched nerve made a terrific appearance for most of the day, so sitting on an airplane was pure torture. By the time we touched down in Atlanta for a layover, I was in tears. Pretty rough.
But today I'm feeling much better! We're all set up in our fancy MAC computer lab here in the convention center, ready to create newsletters, videos, photographs, DVD's, booklets and everything else that all these amazing volunteer professionals are capable of doing. It should be incredible!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Asher & the yellow "bang-kek"

In the last week or so, Asher has developed an attachment to his "bang-kek!" (Blanket) Every morning when he wakes up, he does not allow me to get him out of the crib without it. He will put up quite a fit if he is without it. Then, as I'm changing his diaper, he lays on his changing table, sucking his thumb and clutching his "bang-kek" and tells me, quite happily, "Nonny!" (which is his way of saying night-night or good-night...we shout "Nonny!" back and forth to each other as I walk downstairs every night at bed time, whenever I'm home, it's too cute!) So we have something of a Linus on our hands now, and I'm not sure where or how it started. He even tries to take it with us whenever we leave the house to get in the car ... which I don't allow, since I don't want this to become an unstoppable obsession... but whenever we're indoors, Asher and bang-kek are firmly connected at the chest!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Swimming lessons

Gabe just finished his first session of swimming lessons! He had SUCH a great time! We went to the Plymouth Aquatic Center, which was a lot of fun! We probably should have started Gabe off in Group 1, but we started him in Group 2 instead. He did great, expect for back floating/back stroking, which he needs to work on. So we're hoping Grandma and Grandpa Staude can help him out with that in their pool next week!!?? But he had a marvelous time, which is what really matters. His teacher, Dana, taught the kids how to bob up and down underwater, fetch rings, float on their bellies and backs and jump off the diving board. Gabe even got a cool new set of Ninja Turtle goggles (courtesy of mom) that he LOVES! Now he's like a little fish underwater!! It won't be long before we can't keep up with him, I'm sure!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The world's most perfect sandwich

Okay. I don't know if it's because I'm pregnant and always hungry -- or else I'm just lucky -- because today, at lunch, I created the world's most perfect sandwich. It was so good, I told my husband, that I would BLOG about it later. And here I am, blogging about my masterpiece. Ohhhhhh it was good -- the kind of sandwich you dream about!
I'll tell ya how I did it... I toasted some corned beef and pastrami on rye with some swiss cheese on the stovetop ... then completed my creation by adding warm, Bavarian (sweet) sauerkraut, spicy brown mustard, red onions and pickles. YUMMMM!
I ate it so fast, there wasn't time to take a picture to post along with this odd BLOG entry!
Anyway, it appears that my taste buds are in high gear in my third trimester! Yowza!! :)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Park Pals

These are just some fun photos from the playground this week. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Future photographer???

Isn't this a great photo of Nathan? GABRIEL took it! Yes, that's right! My little 5-year-old sweetheart! When Nate showed me this, he was rather proud of Gabriel, and I must say ... so am I! It seems we'll have another little photographer on our hands soon!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sacked out!

Ohhhh....I'm tired today. But it's worth it!!
Nate took me to see Harry Potter last night at midnight, and I must say -- it was awesome!!! Despite the fact that we were surrounded by teenage girls who were, quite literally, drooling over Daniel Radcliff (Nate said he heard the girl next to him say she wanted to have Radcliff's children). It was too fun! The best of the Potter movies yet! Actress Imelda Staunton (who also had small roles in Much Adu About Nothing, Sense and Sensibility, 12th Night, Shakespeare in Love... and even voiced a chicken in the animated film Chicken Run) did a phenomenal job as the irritatingly evil professor Dolores Umbridge.... the villain you love to hate! Helen Bonham Carter even had a small role as the witch Bellatrix Lestrange... a role she pulled off with a disturbing mixture of madness and pure evil .... her part eventually grows larger in future movies, or so I hear. (the one thing I really love about these movies, beside the fact that they're just FUN, is the fact that they get these major stars to stick with the whole series, even if they are reduced to only one or two scenes in a particular film....such as Emma Thompson in this one...) This movie was amazing -- and moved quickly, which was a nice change from some previous Potter films...with a very cool flying scene done over the city of London and the Thames River, and of course, the epic showdown (finally!!) between Lord Voldemort and Dumbledoor. (tantamount to the Star Wars flik where Yoda FINALLY takes up a light saber and kicks ass against the baddies) What a film!!
The photos of Ash, are just cute ones I took yesterday while he was sleeping. He sleeps with all his might, truly. It's too cute. And ever since he's gone down to one nap a day, that nap is a HARD nap, lasting several hours after lunchtime.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Me versus Three

Nathan had to work this morning, so I took the boys to church by myself today. And my baby girl (who, if anyone is interested, is about 3 lbs now, and would survive if born, huzzah!). So it was the three of them, versus me.
And I lost.
Let me give you a little rundown of what my morning in the back pew was like.
-- Asher sits content for a few minutes on mommy's lap, making everyone beleive he's a cherub. (when in Rome...) Gabriel unzips mom's purse and then asks loudly for a green crayon, getting a nasty look from mommy and a "shushhhh!"
Mommy, still in her grrrl-power moment of zen, thinks things aren't going too badly. Ohhhh ... mommy has so much to learn. Asher starts calling for cookies like a haggler at an outdoor fish market. Mommy shush's him.... he calls louder ... mommy gives him a granola bar, which he licks, begins to wave wildly about, and then regurgitates onto mommy's chest. Asher spots mommy's necklace. Shouts "PRETTIES!" and begins to eat the necklace with enthusiastic exclamations of "Mmmmmm!" Mommy begins to get frazzled as we are nowhere even near the sermon. The praise band takes their places and Asher starts calling out "Daddy!" and then looks confused because this is NOT daddy's praise band. He stubbornly refuses to dance or clap to the music. Asher climbs on mommy, and knees her in the tummy, to which the baby kicks back fiercly. Mommy hands Asher a toy airplace which he throws under the pew, making Gabriel manuever on his belly under the pew to find the plane. Mommy starts sweating and wondering how tacky it would be to leave this early in the service. Gabriel starts asking for fruit snacks in his outdoor voice and poking mom with a pen. Mom gets out goldfish crackers. Gabe tells Ash loudly to "Share!!" The snacks and the juice begin to run out. Mommy sees that the end is near....mommy senses panic and impending doom...the final song starts to play...Asher starts to scream uncontrollably....mommy makes a fast grab for cups, books, toys, diaper bag and purse and makes a frantic beeline for the back door -- kids hanging off each arm, her big belly bowling aside anyone who would be stupid enough to get in the way.
And that, folks, was my wonderful morning. Now here's the question ... how will I handle it with three????

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Fun Fourth of July

We had a fantastic Fourth of July! We started the day by waking up, eating breakfast and saying bye to dad (who played in a volleyball tourney all day down on the beach, eventually winning third place! Yay honey!). Then the boys and I got on our bikes and headed downtown to check out the parade. You can see the boys in the photo, waiting for the parade. I tried to get them to look at me, but Asher was more concerned about the slowly approaching bands and fire trucks. It was a new experience for him! Then, afterwards, we visited Nathan down on the beach. The boys had fun playing in the shallow water at the beach, jumping in the waves. Neither of them had really experienced real "waves" before and they had a blast -- especially Asher, who would shriek and giggle everytime a wave would wash against his chest as he stood in knee-deep water. Then we had hotdogs on the beach for lunch. (thanks to all the food vedors which were already set up on the beach for the fireworks) Afterwards, it was home again, and a long nap for all three of us (yay!!!) and then we were up, prepping hamburgers, corn on the cob, and a patriotic berry trifle for dessert. (which tasted much better than it looked...thanks to Martha Stewart!) The photo of Asher is his first encounter with corn on the cob, which we discovered he loves as much as Gabriel. He ate an entire ear all by himself! Gabe had about 2!) Nate's dad, Bruce, joined us for dinner and afterwards, for fireworks, which we enjoyed on the rooftop of my work building -- at Gabe's insistence. It's perfect because there are no crowds, plenty of parking and a PRIME view of the fireworks. What a wonderful day! Happy 4th everyone!