Sunday, November 30, 2008

Colin & Connor's Friends

Any time you move to a new neighborhood and new school, there are lots of questions you ask yourself:

-how will the kids adjust?
-will the new teachers be a fit?
-will they make friends quickly?
-will there be kids in the neighborhood to play with?
and on and on....

I wanted to post an update about how pleased we are with our move to Fairfax.
God has certainly been faithful, in His timing, to provide for us.

Many of you know that the move to Vienna, VA was a good one for us and for the kids schooling and sports in particular. They both flourished in school and with their teachers in particular. That made me even more nervous though about whether the move to Fairfax could measure up, and how the kids would fare with 2 school changes back-to-back.

Wow, we have been blessed. The kids LOVE school. Their teachers are an awesome match. Colin is doing better in school than ever and his teacher is not only pleased but is his 3rd biggest fan (behind mom and dad). Connor loves school in his typical sanguine response but is maturing as a student with a creative and inventive teacher.

As for the neighborhood, there are over 30 kids in our immediate area and it is routine for the kids to be hanging out with their friends as soon as homework is done. One of their good friends also has a younger sister that is 3-yrs-old so about 2 times a week, all the boys will play outside with their little sisters!

I couldn't ask for more.

New Bed

Sybella is turning 2-years-old tomorrow and to celebrate early, she got her "Big Girl" bed on Friday evening. (we love Ikea!) She has now spent 2 nights and 2 naps in her new bed without any issues; she is not looking back---If you ask her, the crib is for "babies," which clearly, she is not.
Now, I just have to get myself (and Sybella) excited about potty-training.
***If you click on the mosaic above, you can enlarge the pictures for a better view.
Also, for those of you who have asked me about mosaics, thanks to Shauna, I use Big Labs Mosaic Maker.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Operation Christmas Child

Sharon and I met the staff of Samaritan's Purse and had the opportunity to hear from Franklin Graham while in Atlanta. We took time pack some boxes and check out the temporary facility they had set up in Atlanta for Operation Christmas Child (OCC). We both though the idea was a great way to help our family engage in making a difference this holiday season. We also thought it would be great way to set the stage for giving and understanding that there are so many in the world today that are without. 

SO...last weekend we turned part of our basement into a packing center. First we took the boys to the local Wal-Mart and had them spend their money to purchase gifts to pack in the boxes. We took everything home and took time to stuff boxes full of calculators, balls, cars, personal notes, toothpaste, snacks, crayons, pencils, name it and we were filling them up. 

We had a blast, it did not take a lot of time and it was an exciting way to start the holiday season by driving home a message that we are called to give to the poor, the widow, and the orphan. 

I encourage to check out more about Operation Christmas Child (OCC) and consider taking an hour out of your day to impact lives across the globe. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bell Ringers

Many people are spending less this holiday season due to economy worries. Last week at Bible Study our opening speaker (Karen) laid a challenge before us to remember that "scaling back" this holiday season does not have to and probably should not include cutting down on charitable giving. I know you are saying, "Whoa Sharon, don't blog a lecture; the economy is tough enough." Don't stop reading yet, I promise, No Lectures (just food for thought)!
So anyway, the speaker read off about 50 things that people could do this holiday season to serve and help others. I was moved by the suggestions she came up with. Some of the things were traditional and others were absolutely unique (at least to me). I am writing this post to remind you as I have been reminded, that it is vital to help others with both our checkbooks and our service.
Each of us can give to a charity in some way; we can buy a goat for a family in Africa, buy a toy for Toys for Tots, make a Shoe Box, or sponsor a child among many other things. But on a whole different plain, we can serve each other and the community around us too:
1. invite a family over for a meal
2. take food to a shut-in
3. rake leaves or shovel snow for someone who can't
4. play with the kids of a single parent to give them a break
5. work in a soup kitchen
6. deliver meals for a local organization
7. bake cookies for a widow or widower
8. sing carols at a nursing home
9. volunteer at the Humane Society
10. visit a site to find a volunteer opportunity that specifically suits you (ex: )
The challenge our family is embracing has 2 parts:
a. to do something over the holidays with BOTH our checkbook and our service
b. to find a way to make service more frequent

In addition to our choice for charity giving this holiday season, one of the things suggested at Bible Study that struck me as "do-able" is to stop every time we pass a Salvation Army Bell Ringer and empty our spare change into the bucket. I have never really given to the Bell Ringers so this is a new (and easy) way to show the kids that a little can go a long way and that no gift is too small. It really is a lot of fun to give and I want the kids to develop a habit of giving. What a way to do giving a little almost every day.
May your holiday season be blessed as you bless others!Comment on the blog to let us know what other ideas you have for serving your community.

Monday, November 17, 2008


I have witnessed a lot of incredible basketball slam dunk contests but this beats them all. While I am not advocating destruction of property...I do love to see people show off the skills they have been blessed with.

Are you showing off the skills you have been blessed with?


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Raising Support!

As David posted in an earlier blog, we are officially heading to the Dominican Republic (DR) as part of the A1:8 Project ( In partnership with NCC and Salt & Light Ministries...David and I will be leading a team to the DR January 17-24, 2009! David and I have decided to take Colin with us on the trip as well. He is 10-years-old now and continues to learn the importance of living out his faith with action; we would like to broaden his perspective to the needs of people internationally who are often not blessed with the comforts of life in the United States.
We would like you to partner with us to make this mission trip possible.
Yes, we need your prayers but we also need your financial support. The cost of the trip is $1500 per person. Those costs break down as follows (approximately): 1/3 travel, 1/3 room, board, & transportation in the DR, and 1/3 directly to Projects and Needs in the DR.
I am sure that you can do the math. We need to raise $4500 to make this mission trip a reality. (see the bottom of this post for how to make a Tax-Deductible donation.)

Our mission in the DR will involve education, hygiene/health teaching, and sharing the love of Jesus. Part of our work will be in the community of El Valle. El Valle is a town in the mountains NE of Santo Domingo. We will be working with several missionaries at the "Center for Aid to Children". The goal of the center is to meet the spiritual and physical needs of children.
Many of the community children are 'orphaned' by the economics of the country. In the DR, schooling is expensive and not run by the government; many parents can not afford to send their kids to school. Parents often leave early in the morning and travel to a larger town to find work or food. They don't return until late at night. Their children would otherwise be roaming the streets, but the center takes them in and provides for them. The center provides these kids with a school, meals, medical aid, and a safe, supervised environment with hope in Jesus Christ. The center is currently serving 42 children. The Center for Aid to Children along with the community hospital (also run by these missionaries) has the desire and ability to win an entire community for Christ. We are blessed to unite with them to bring the love of Jesus to this area.

Make checks payable to National Community Church. In the Memo line, please write "Simon-DR Trip." A Tax Receipt will be mailed out in January to all whose checks are received by Dec 27th.
Mail checks to:
3873 Chain Bridge Rd.
Fairfax, VA 22030

*If your employer provides for matching donations, the EIN number for NCC is 52-2016840, please make sure to notify us about the matching donation so that we can link it to the DR Trip.
**Any funds raised beyond the required $4500 will go directly to projects and needs in the DR.
We appreciate both your financial and prayer support!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Update for "50 in 52"

Having followed the updates here on the blog and on Shelfari, several people have inquired recently as to how my reading was going. I usually do an update about every three months based on my progress checkpoints. The next "checkpoint" for my quest to read 50 books in 52 weeks was on Sept 30th. I am just late on posting a blog update. I had set the goal to have read 40 of the books by Sept 30. I did in fact have 40 books finished by that date; I finished number 40 on 9-29-08 in fact, just in time.

The next checkpoint is December 14, one month away. I am scheduled to have all 50 books done by then. Unfortunately, I have done almost no reading since we moved. I will have #42 finished today or tomorrow and I am reading 3 others right now as well. But, that still means I need to start and finish 5 more books before Dec month from now. I can do it! I know I can, but it is going to take some planning and prioritizing!

I'll let you know how it goes.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Book Review - Me Myself, and I AM

I am not really into the whole journal craze, but I found this book to be easy to pick up and leverage it to ask some very introspective questions. It took little effort to open and dive in. It gave me things to reflect on and meditate on during quiet time in the morning and late at night. 

The book was also a great resource for finding questions to ask of friends around me and create new conversation about life journeys. The fact that I read this close to Thanksgiving also drove home how thankful I am in so many different arenas of life. 

I think the material in here would be great to use if you have a small group and you are trying to generate more conversation and discussion. 

This one is a fun and challenging book to pick up at your local bookstore or order on line and just go for it. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Standing in Line

Yes, again this year, David and I got up at 4am and drove in to DC last Saturday to stand in line for about 3 hours on The Ellipse. "Why?" You ask.

We wanted tickets to the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. It is held the first Thursday in December every year. There is entertainment and the tree is lit by the President. Last year, our first year back in DC, we got tickets and enjoyed attending the lighting. I am not gonna lie, It was cold; I mean REALLY cold on the day of the lighting. We weren't sure that we would attend again this year. But after 11 months, we are refreshed and ready to do it again (kinda like pregnancy....oh wait, we are already doing that again). Anyway, we are looking forward to attending with the kids again. We want to fully engage in LIVING in DC. Every opportunity we get, we hope to take advantage of what the city and the region have to offer. Here is a picture of our "line numbers."

Note: Tickets are passed out on the First Saturday in Nov. This year that happened to be the day after Halloween, so, even though we arrived about 20 minutes later than we did last year, our numbers (221 & 222) were over 100 spots lower than last year (356 & 361). I think people were out too late trick or treating. Approximately 680 line numbers are passed out each year and each person gets 4 tickets, hence why David and I both stand in line since we are a family of five.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Vote Early and Often...Political Junkies

Hey it’s DC and one thing I have learned since moving here a year ago is…politics is the rule.

People today are obsessing and clicking around wasting time this Tuesday November 4th. A lot of people made it out early (most of my friends have been texting me or letting me know via twitter) but no one will see exit-poll results until early evening.  A friend of mine reminded that there are mash-up maps of results from sites like this one at SetFive, or this one mapping general Twitter election buzz, are self select reporting and wildly inaccurate as election tracks.


I am a simple guy and will be watching CNN and Fox News…


If you’d like to get the actual numbers tonight as quickly as the talking heads are getting them, here are links to several battleground-state official sites for results in real time, along with poll-closing times. All times are Eastern Standard Time.

6:00 / 7:00 pm: Indiana
7:00 pm:
7:00 pm:
7:00 / 8:00 pm:
 Florida (watch out for hanging chads…I want a re-count!)
7:30 pm:
 North Carolina
7:30 pm:
 Ohio (sure cast your ballot…what address is your park bench? No no…we don’t need your ID just a piece of paper with your name on it
8:00 pm:
8:00 pm:
8:00 pm:
9:00 pm:
9:00 pm:
9:00 pm:
 New Mexico
10:00 pm:
10:00 pm:
11:00 pm: 
11:00 pm:
 Washington (Ohhh…my buds – Chris & Dino going at it in the big gubernatorial race)
1:00 am:
 Alaska (You know you’ll still be up!!!)


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloween '08

For the sake of saving an extra post, I am combining both of our Halloween events into the same post.

Our mom's group had a Halloween Party for the kids on Wednesday and Sybella got a chance to hang out with her friends and get an "extra" wear out of her Halloween Costume. Just love the picture of her licking the spoon, I know it's the wrong end, but every good chef tastes their food! :) (Right Denise??)

Indiana Jones, an Army Officer and a Fabulous Chef had a great time trick or treating on Friday night. This is the first time that Sybella has actually received treats. (Note, in the picture of her coming in the front door, she already has a candy in the mouth.) The kids had fun and the costumes in the neighborhood were cute. I love the new neighborhood, there are lots of friendly people and TONS of kids. Did I mention that I LOVE our boys? Despite their enthusiasm to get the candy, they were very good to their sister and she and I were able to keep up them the whole time. Dad stayed at home and passed out candy at our front door.
Following a trip through our neighborhood, we drove to Granda's house to get an "extra-big, grandma-size serving" of candy for the Treat Bags. Granda knows that Connor DOES NOT eat chocolate so she had ALL non-chocolate candy for him!!

Connor's Last Soccer Game

Here are some pictures of Connor's Last Soccer Game yesterday. There is also a picture of our awesome Coach, Damon, giving Connor his trophy and then of course, Connor "displaying" his trophy. The Green Strykers had a great season and had lots of fun. It's a good group of kids and parents and we will missing seeing them every week! Most of us will back together for spring season in March or April.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Colin's Football Playoff Game

I posted last week about Colin's team making it to the Football Playoffs. The guys played hard and played well. Colin was able to make several great tackles and was part of a forced fumble and subsequent fumble recovery (center picture in top row--is the sideline return after the fumble recovery). Unfortunately, the Warhawks didn't win but we are so proud that they made it to playoffs AND 9 of the 14 players were first year players. WOW!! Great Job Warhawks!


David and I, along with our kids, love to play a game called Bongoball (aka Ladder Golf or Bolo Toss). So, when David had the chance at the Catalyst Conference to play Cornhole (a similar game) with some of the NCC staff, he jumped right in!

I just happened to have my camera and snapped a few shots.

Some September Sybella Stuff

There are 2 pictures of Sybella from September '08 that I just couldn't pass up for a posting. I know that they are late but they are cute.

Three or four days after we moved into the new house, I heard Sybella call out "Mommy" from the other room. She normally calls me "Mom" so I knew something was a little different. I said, "Yes Sybella, what do you need?" (I was putting something away in my closet and she was about 25 feet away in her room or so I thought.)
The next thing I heard was "Mommmmy................... Mommmmy............. Mommmmy......Mommmmy...Mommmmy" is an increasing speed and increasing whine. I, of course, went running. Sybella stopped calling (I think because she knew I was coming.) Sybella was not in her room, she was not in Connor's room, she was not in the bathroom. So, at this point, I am calling for Sybella! I then hear a whimper from the hall closet. Opening the door, I find a young lady who has shut herself in the closet and now in the dark, can't figure out how to get herself out.
The quality isn't great but this is the picture I manged to capture:

And this is a picture of Sybella in Dad's arms. How Cute!!