Travels East

Our blogging has been pretty sporadic this month, due in large part to our transient life style.  Last week we headed east from Nashville to make some visits to friends on our way to a speaking engagement in Asheville.  Our first stop was in Chattanooga for a few days.  We stayed with Eric's sister Jena and her husband Brian, and spent the day relaxing, wandering around downtown Chattanooga (which has some awesome water play areas that Maggie enjoyed), and trying some pumpkin pie Italian ice with vanilla custard, an awesome taste experience.  Maggie particularly enjoyed Blue's Clues on Netflix and chasing/torturing the 2 cats.

We also visited Curt and Chris Chaffin, friends we met in Ann Arbor who have now lived in Chattanooga for a number of years, and Eric's friends from college, John and Lindsay Bamber.  Both families have kids Maggie's age, which was great for us.  The Bambers are photographers and took us to the Tennessee Aquarium for the morning.  The kids had a great time looking at the fish, turtles, otters, etc.

Then it was on to the Prescription for Renewal conference in Asheville, NC for 4 days.  We both were able to present some medical lectures to the group, and a "friend of a friend" provided a cabin for our entire family to stay in (so much nicer than a small hotel room).  It was a great chance to see the McCropders again and meet up with old friends from Tenwek.

We wrapped up our time by continuing east to Durham, where more Ann Arbor friends Dan and Kelly Rocke are living (Dan's an ENT resident at Duke).  Maggie and Calvin have been friends since before they were born (we decided) and they have not seen each other for a few years, so it was fun watching them get reacquainted.  Our younger two, Ben and Jack, will be fast friends as soon as they get a bit older.  And while we were in Durham, we hooked up with some great medical folks we got to know during our two years at Tenwek.

 A whirlwind trip, but a great one!  More McLaughlin travel adventures to come, I'm sure.


These Places are not Imaginary

In attempt to distract Maggie this morning, I scrolled through the "Sample Pictures" that every PC comes with in your "Pictures" folder.  This picture struck me as oddly familiar.

So, we looked through our old photos from our honeymoon to Costa Rica.  In addition to this being an incredibly awesome picture of me, it looks a lot like the above.  The bridge and the flowers are different, but the pattern of the rocks clinches it.  It was at these manicured hot springs near the Arenal Volcano.  I've sometimes wondered whether or not these pictures were all from real places.  Apparently this one is.



Something we never truly appreciated until our return to the US.  Maggie was too young to play on them before we left, and Kenya doesn't really have any.  But here in America, awesome playgrounds are everywhere!  Free entertainment!  Mags and Ben have both enjoyed a variety of play areas, from fast food restaurants to outdoor areas in a variety of states.



One of our favorite parts about being home, obviously, is a chance for the kids to spend some quality time with their grandparents.  We have been staying mostly in Nashville with Eric's family, but Rachel's mom came out to visit for a few days as well, and we'll head to Phoenix by mid-December.  Here are some cute pics of the kiddos with their grandparents:

 Bapa with Ben and Liam
 Bapa with 3/4 of his grandkids!
 What a fun jungle gym!
 Sporting a new hat with Grandma
Maggie and Mimi at the pumpkin patch


Happy Birthday Mariah - From Maggie and Ben

Happy Birthday to a sister and aunt that we love very much.  Sending birthday wishes from our home for 3 days in Durham, NC.

M:  "Hey Ben!  No!"

Let's try standing behind Ben.

A little lower down, Maggie!

M: "Daddy!"
E:  "Maggie, not quite that low!"

 M:  "Cheese!"

Everyone:  "Happy Birthday (Aunt) Mariah!  We love you!"


Random Pictures from Tenwek

As I was going through the pictures of our last days at Tenwek, I found some snapshots of life that I thought you might like to see.  Here they are:

We took a trip to the coast for a few days and Ben got to experience his first dip in the pool.  Not sure quite what he's looking at...
 He also got his first taste of solid foods.  He eats about 6 different kinds of food now, but we're still trying to find one he's excited about!
 I finally got a few new pictures of me operating.  Nothing gross here. :)
 And the last baby I delivered in Kenya, via a normal repeat Cesarean section.
 Maggie and Abi enjoying some last moments together, inside and outside.  (Mags was reading her the Cat in the Hat--we have a French/English version that maybe someday we'll be able to read in both languages!)

 Eric leading worship one last time at Bethesda church
And also playing some music just for Ben