KC Zoo Fun!

 Yes, it snowed in March this year. But it warmed up enough one day to go outside, so we used it for a zoo day with Jessica and cute Stevie!

Some days at the zoo I get overly task oriented and want to maximize our time/animal viewing ratio. But, shockingly, that’s not always what’s the most fun for the kids. Some times they just want to play. And even though I know we have a playground that has the same stuff on it a mile from our house, the kids don’t playground discriminate like I do and just want to be kids and play on that playground. Even though we came to the zoo.

So this day, Jessica and I let them be kids. And first up was the carousel. Twice.

Jessica and Stevie!

Beckham brought his money and bought feed for the deer. Good choice!

We really love these face photo ops!

More photo ops!

Crazy girl drivers!

Beckham and Stevie bonded. Becks found Stevie sticks. And every boy loves sticks!

And we managed to squeeze in seeing a few animals too!

God Willing…Manhattan, Kansas


In August of 2006 I received a phone call from a fast talking Yankee who claimed he was in Kansas and interested in Laura, Beckham and I moving out there to minister alongside him and another Yankee. After I hung up, I asked Laura where Kansas was. She thought it was right above Tennessee. Seemed right to me.

We never wanted to leave Texas, but we visited Redeemer and quite frankly it was love at first sight. We kept hearing the phrase, “covenant community.” And while we were pondering what this meant, they were showing us in the way the people loved each other and went out of their way to serve each other. I’ve seen community on paper listed in theory many times, but seeing it in person was an altogether different experience. On October 2nd, 2006, we arrived in this strange place excited to minister to the families and youth of Redeemer.

Over the past 6 1/2 years we’ve watched so many awkward junior high students grow into wonderful young men and women. We’ve walked alongside families assisting discipleship in whatever way we could. We’ve prayed for and with our brothers and sisters in Christ on this common journey of sanctification. We’ve experienced life with this local congregation of amazing people. Kansas became home.

Somewhere along the way, we realized that many of our students were leaving for college and not finding a local church body to be a part of. We’ve heard their stories and with so many students headed out to Kansas State University, we began praying for God to build up a church that would nurture them and give them a place to serve and grow to love the Church, both local and universal.

We’ve witness the Austins and Pattersons come out of RUF ministry and get involved in the local church and this gave us a vision for what could be for Harriet, Sam, Chris, Aaron, Morgan, Jonathan, Mich, Andria, Chris, Mark, Robbie, Katie, Sarah, Seth, David, Josh, Matt, Ben, Rudy and so many more who are now or could be spending their college years in Manhattan, Kansas.

So some time ago Laura and I began praying about this. We began to feel God’s call on our lives to be the means He used for what we had been praying for so many years. We learned more about this medium-sized city, 2 hours west from KC, in the middle of Kansas and started to love it. We talked about it with the Shanahans and Dunnings. Prayers continued, and in May of 2012, Laura and I traveled to Atlanta, Georgia to be assessed for Church Planting with our denomination. It was a great time of encouragement and things continued to slowly progress.

I’ll spare you all the details, and jump forward to today.

We believe God is calling our family to Manhattan, Kansas to plant a church and help begin an RUF campus ministry. We are excited about being a part of God’s mission of redemption in this college town and love seeing God’s grace, through the Gospel, transforming individuals and families. We are excited to see the body of Christ, His Church, engage a community that is growing quickly every year.

Bottom line is we want to pour out our life in Manhattan for something that matters, for something eternal, to share the gospel and build a Church that will be about the Kingdom of God, that will be a benefit to Manhattan and a place to further nurture college students who will grow as they learn to serve others and function as a part of the Church body.

It’s not easy to walk away from a place like Redeemer. Redeemer is a family to us. Our kids have grown up here and have so many who love them, they get to attend a fantastic Christian School, there is security in knowing a pay check is coming every two weeks, there is opportunity for real ministry, it’s just a great place.

But like I said, we want the risk because we see the goal is worthy.

So there it is. July 31st, 2013 will be our last day at Redeemer Presbyterian Church.

It makes me want to cry just writing that sentence. Now I am crying because we’ve been loved and loved Redeemer and yet we couldn’t be more excited about this gospel adventure. We have one life to live, one bucket of water to pour out on the land and we believe this is a worthwhile purpose to pour our lives into.

We are so thankful and excited that God is not sending us alone to do this work, but that others will be joining us for this project.

Travis & Amy Shanahan have been dreaming with us, and in many regards well before us. We thank God constantly for their fellowship and partnership in this. They have been the greatest friends we could ask for and can’t wait to minister along side them in a new city. Apart from the efforts of Travis and the grace of God this Church Plant would not be in motion. I’m so thankful for his efforts…and love he and Amy even more knowing this whole paragraph embarrasses them both.

That is more than we deserve and yet God is sending Jon & Tricia Dunning with us as well. Jon and I have worked together to establish two youth summer camps for the Presbytery over the years and have bonded as we dream about what God might do on the campus of K-State. Jon will be the RUF Campus Pastor. He is one of the most caring pastors I’ve ever met. He asks real questions and listens intently to students and others before pointing them ever back to the Gospel.

Beyond that, we’ve poured into the lives of so many students who are already there or headed there soon. We look forward to seeing them on a regular basis and introducing them to the permanent residents of Manhattan, who we hope will soon also be their covenant community.

This is such a strange time: to be broken-hearted leaving Redeemer, and at the same time so excited about, God willing, planting a church in the last place I ever imagined God would call us. (Kansas is right above Tennessee, remember?)

Please pray for us all.

Pray that our passion for Jesus Christ will continue to grow.

Pray for unity among the current group and the future gathering.

Pray for God to provide what is needed financially so that our efforts can be more focused on the work of the Gospel.

Pray for our children to make new friends, to grow more in love with God from this experience.

Pray for the Gospel to be spread like seed across the city and for God to grow His Church.

Please read about this venture, The Manhattan Project on the website at ManhattanPCA.com. Fill out the newsletter form so we can keep you up to date.

We couldn’t possibly name everyone and every way we have been blessed at Redeemer, but we have been and we are very aware and thankful for that.

Forever Grateful,

Brian & Laura

Snow days!

Our snow was late this year, but we still loved it! Apparently cul-de-sacs are the lowest  roads on the snow plow list, so we were literally snowed in for 48 hours!

Good thing we fought for the last loaf of bread at the grocery store the day before!

Brian just got in an fight with this lady at the grocery store over the last loaf of bread.


Bigs loved it. Boo, not as much. She preferred the window seat.

So Snow Day #1 her coat and hat stayed put:

I think they got confused (cause they are from Texas and all!) and buried Brian in the snow instead of the sand…

Then they spent the next hour completely burying Andria’s car.


This KC snow is legit, it buried Andria's car completely. The snow in Buffalo has never buried Andria's car.

 Then Brian got nervous that the snow plow would plow it and busted out the spray paint.

And since Brian used up all his good energy being productive and burying cars, he was moving kind of slow while shoveling the driveway afterwards, our neighbors (whom we consider family!) came to help! (I think it was so he didn’t bury their cars too…!)

 Remember when doing things like vacuuming and sweeping and cleaning off cars was fun? When does that change!? SP loved being in charge of cleaning the car!

I use this trick often. If you are a kid, everything is more fun on a toothpick. So it was toothpick lunch! And I recently discovered that Cheez-its fit through the toothpicks perfectly!!

Then there was the annual Backyard Barefoot Boy Run. Good times!

I mentioned we were stuck at home for 2 days, and even though the roads were still piled high the next day, it warmed a tad and Boo left her grumpies at home and came outside!

We ventured all the way across the street…cause the Young’s driveway snow piles were higher than ours!

Sadie Piper doing what we never got to experience as kids in Texas. So glad our kids know what snow is.

Mr Young then showed us THAT YOU CAN MAKE SNOW TUNNELS! Neither Brian nor I had ever seen this before! So thankful we have people in our lives that love our kids enough to show them this stuff!

Becks in a hole

I think SP looks like Winnie the Pooh stuck in Rabbits hole in this one:

Screen shot 2013-04-28 at 3.18.13 PM

Yay! Berkley is happy!!

Boo in the snow today, first time she didn't cry with snow

We also tried for making forts. Wrong type of snow though. Bummer.

Berkley made herself a snow man.

Kidding. She just tried to fix it. But at least she was outside!

#Astros Snowman, Snose Altuva, with Beckham, Sadie Piper and Gwen.

Another neighbor came by with a huge snow blower. Brian and the bigs started playing in the snow it was shooting out as he was plowing the road, and then he just made it snow for them! It was kind of the equivalent to playing in the sprinklers in the summer!

Day 2 Cabin Fever was setting in so Brian and Becks traveled across the street to Price Chopper. That’s a lot of snow.

Beckham & I went hunting, killed and field dressed 6 Chicken Pot Pies

We also learned this year that hats are as much about keeping your head warm as they are about keeping the snow off of your hair. Sadie’s hat fell off and she was like a popsicle by the end!

Once everyone was nice and frozen, and then bathed and unfrozen, I made Homemade Model Clay. It was like super soft play doh. Easy to make and a lot of fun! The recipe was a keeper.

Our last trip outside was to use a friend’s idea to make snow cones! Seriously wondering why I hadn’t thought of this sooner. Mixed up double strength Kool-Aid and used the snow, which is obviously the perfect snow cone consistency!

Goodnight tired kids!

Beckham went to bed with a snowball...in case he gets thirsty.


The “Opposites” game?

One of the teaching tools our awesome eye doctor told me to do when we were driving around was to play games with them to get them thinking critically. Things like “what do a flower and a tree have in common?” or “which is heavier: you or a truck?” or “what’s the opposite of white?” So I’ve started doing this with the bigs. But Berkley one day in the car alone asked if I would ask her “those same things you ask Sadie Piper? Can I play that game too?” so we play opposites. All. the. time. She doesn’t get tired of it. I’ve run out of opposites and had to google more ideas the other day.

That whole thing relates to this post in that when I think about “sushi,” I think the opposite very well may be “Kansas.” Middle America cow country. Nothing like the Nobu that Carolyn took me too on the ocean. But that won’t deter me (I just chose to not think about how many days old the “fresh” fish is!) from making it! Momo has a rep for making yummy sushi (courtesy of Tammy!), so while Brian was at Presbytery, we had a super fun girls night!

Momo is cool cause she knows the kids so well. She knows what they can and can’t do (as well as what they are allowed to do and not do), that means when she’s over, I don’t have to be 100% “on”…she picks up the slack! Boo wanted to help, so Momo gave Berkley butter knife, a little cutting board, a little bowl and some mango and let her go to town! Berkley thought she was the bee’s knees. Is that a saying?

Momo and her helper! @mallorythenurse

 Cute girls!

Making sushi really isn’t that hard. It was a lot of ingredients, but nothing hard to find. It was perfect for a girls night!!

Momo was a great teacher!!

I honestly did’t have an idea in my head about how it was made. This is just so you can see what it looks like coming together!

Momo and her other helper! So fun making sushi with this girl I love!! @mallorythenurse

Andria jumped in too!

And then decided eating the left over rice out of the hu-mongo bowl was a better gig.

Oh, and getting Berkley hugs!

Final product!

It was delish!! A night full of awesome food and even awesomer friends!

SP took this pic for us!



Class parties!

Her class does a prayer before snack sometimes called “the SuperMan prayer.” It’s stinking cute! It’s sung to the tune of the Superman theme and goes: “Thank you God for giving us food! Thank you God for giving us food! For the friends that we meet and the food that we eat, thank you God for giving us food.” And you have to put your hands up like you are flying! Cracks me up!

SP and her bestie, Ivy. Love them.

Beckham had a class party too, but I didn’t take a picture. Not one. Sorry BumBum.

While I was on “Valentine’s Class Party Duty” (I just said “dooty”) Brian and Boo had a “date day.”

Today that meant going to the new Mexican grocery store that Brian’s been wanting to check out!

As they were pulling out of the driveway, Berkley asked, “Daddy, can we go on another daddy and Boo date again?” (yes, they were pulling OUT. Hadn’t even gone anywhere yet and she was already wanting to do it again. True, she wasn’t wrong, Daddy dates are always the coolest, but still…she doesn’t ask that every Monday as we are pulling out to do grocery shopping…)


And at this grocery store they spotted HUGE donuts.

Seriously, huge.

They also went and checked out tea in Hen House. And played tag all around the store for half an hour.

No wonder they like Dad. I just shop at the grocery store.

Hippo Park

One day in January it warmed up and we went on a bike ride to what we call “hippo park”

Hippo Park on Brougham

Sadie Piper was doing gymnastics on the ropes and she was trying so hard to get herself back up that she toots. It gave us a good giggle!


Why does Boo at the end start saying “she’s naked”??

Hat. And Barbies. And cars. And Aaron.

 Hat came over for a visit from college…and brought gifts! She brought the girls princess Barbies. Their very first ones!! (She of course didn’t forget about Becks and brought him an RC car!)

And she told them they could play with them in the bathtub too! Score!


Speaking of Hat, we love Aaron too! (This is after all 5 went on a date!!)

Thanks Hat and Aaron! We miss you!!



Sadie’s class made snow man faces and when they came outside ALL of them were holding them up to their faces!! So cute!!


Lunch with friends! These girls love lunch with Emily!

Lunch date with Emily


Cold bike rides!

Banana Blue Bell popsicles at friends houses!

Carpet pizza picnics!

Beckham was sick and he was quarantined at meal time to the little table!

And since Becks got the couch, SP made herself a comfy little spot!

Brian’s working on making more players for his wiffleball games!

Boo hogs chips.

Check out this cool Ninja Turtle hat!!

Guinns brought purple donuts for Sunday School

Girls piling on couch for cuddles and for Berkley to announce how big Laura's head is.

SP’s birthday date with “B”

B takes the kids to lunch on their birthdays, so she picked Sadie up from school and they went to “MixDonalds.” She knows B will buy her a HappyMeal AND a milkshake. Cause B’s cool like that.

Oh yeah, Sades dances. Anywhere. Just give her some music. She was loving this big “stage” in the McDonald’s play place!

While driving B asked about the traffic lights, what does red mean…etc

B: why are you so smart? Cause your five?

SP: “No, because we do math!”

They had to go to WalMart to buy a booster cause I’m lame and forgot to leave it for her. SP asked if she could ride the horse.

B: sure!

SP: With money?!?!?

And check out that super cool crown B got her too? It was a highlight of her birthday. She didn’t take it off for a week, and still wears it often!

Then they went to the mall.

When they got there SP hopped out of the car and was ready to go it,  B said, “Wait, I have to lock the door.”

SP: Why?

(Let’s just say we feel very safe and may or may not lock our doors always.)

Then she got to ride the carousel too. WITH MONEY!!


Then if all this wasn’t enough, the main attraction was a visit (for her very first time!) to the American Girl store…


She got to pick out one of these super cute little dolls! It’s a mini doll with real hair and is the perfect size! It fits in her dollhouse and with all the barbie type stuff!

(I’m sure it’s a “gateway doll” for when she discovers the bigger ones! But for now she thinks this is the coolest doll ever made!)

And she got to ride the escalator too! 🙂

Thanks B for making her birthday so special!!




Sadie Piper is FIVE…

 Sadie Piper had a princess birthday party…for the third year in a row…

This girl knows how to party! She planned every last detail (down to the balloon party favors, her pink cake and necklace craft!). She was very specific! And VERY pleased!!

Girls parties are awe-some! Seriously, hanging with a bunch of pre-k little girls?? I’ll do that any day! These girls are precious!!

We did lots of crafts. Girls love crafts!

This is how girls play! They crack me up!

Her other birthday requests were to visit the pet store. Just to look around.

Birthday Princess and her bunny. We left the bunny at the store though.

Berkley got super excited and called Brian over to show him the “worms” (aka ferrets…)

Berkley told me she found big worms in the pet store. She found ferrets.

For birthday dinner she requested Chick-fil-a. Again, no surprise here.

Oh the joy Sadie Piper brings our lives!

At five, SP is

  • Very very very independent. This is both exciting and sad for us. 
  • Loves school. Loves learning. Loves the structure. Love love loves being social.
  • Is still extreme. Is either the most joyful girl in the world or grumps. Praise God she’s almost always joyful!
  • Asks questions. And more questions. And then a follow up one. She’s very curious and also has a wicked memory, so she’s learning and remembering all the answers. Uses the phrase “Well that’s an interesting question…” sometimes in response to a question she just asked!
  • Gives the best hugs you’ll ever get (when she’s joyful!)
  • Is very determined. Once she sets her mind that she wants to do something, she does it (like snapping. She wanted to snap her fingers and so she worked and worked and now she can. Also bike riding sans training wheels. She asked Brian to take off her training wheels and kept working until she could do it. Whistling is next on her bucket list!)
  • Wants to help with everything: cooking, setting up for youth things, serving food, cleaning, putting toothpaste on toothbrushes
  • She’s not a mix-it-up kinda girl. She knows what she likes and she sticks to it. I appreciate that about her! It’s alway vanilla ice cream. Every time. Nothing on it. Bedtime: she wants her monkey “Dudley” and her pink blanket, but it has to be soft side up. And the pillow needs to be propped up just perfectly.
  • She loves words of affirmation. Both getting and giving. She invented the “I love you game”- a dinner you spin the “lazy Brian” (you may know it has a lazy Susan) and whom ever the ketchup (she eats a lot of ketchup) lands on, you say, “I love you because….” and then they spin it.
  • Makes you feel special. She knows how to love people.
  • Is our “middle-ist” and embraces that.
  • Lights up our house with her oozing joy! If you want someone to get excited with you about something, tell SP.

Birthday Girl is 5 Today