Thursday, August 28, 2008

Our a nutshell

We have had a busy but fun summer. It feels like we've been all over the globe! (And we kind of have.)

First, we spent a week with Ryan's family, who live in Pocatello, ID. We took a trip up to their cabin in Sun Valley and spent several days biking, boating, eating way too much ice cream, and hanging out together. I was the first Nielson woman to mountain bike down "Baldy Mountain" with the boys! (I felt quite proud.) We had a great trip. I have the funnest in-laws!

Then, we journeyed down to El Salvador for a few weeks. As most of you know, Ry and I lived down there for three months right after we got married, volunteering in an orphanage for persons with disabilities. We have been lucky enough to return to see the kids every summer since, and we plan to keep returning for the rest of our lives. My little sister and her husband were living there for the summer, so it was a great experience to collaborate with them in planning activities, games, and projects for the kids. Some highlights included:

A "pirate scavenger hunt" around the orphanage, searching for buried treasure.

Super Hero Day!

Hunting for Big Foot...can you guess who that is?? Ryan "Sasquatch" Nielson!

We captured him!
Dental Hygiene Day--Ryan used some ideas from his dental school class on community outreach to come up with games to teach the kids how to care for their teeth. The dental school also donated a bunch of toothbrushes, which we gave out to the kids.

Aerobics Class--Don't be jealous of Ryan's sexy orange shorts! (Not to mention my sister's spandex!!)

At the end of our visit, my dad and my other sister and her husband joined us at the orphanage. They got to meet the kids for the first time, after hearing stories about them for years. As a family, we put on some fun events, such as a Trash Bag Fashion Show!
Then, as a family we spent just over a week touring El Salvador and Guatemala, spending time in some breathtakingly beautiful places, including the most heavenly hotel on earth, La Casa del Mundo on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. Isn't it gorgeous??

After returning from our Central American adventure, I spent a week at a church camp for teenage girls. In spite of an epidemic of lice, girls sneaking out of the cabins in the middle of the night, and listening to dramatic sobbing over being hit in the head with a beach ball...I had a great time.
Needless to say, I was ready for some alone time with Ryan when I returned from camp! I had missed his birthday while I was at I surprised him and took him on a romantic, birthday get-a-way to a charming town in Canada called Niagara-on-the-Lake. We rode bikes, had a picnic, shopped, found a deserted beach at sunset, and stayed overnight at a cute B&B. It was a perfect birthday gift, if I do say so myself. :)

The fun's not over yet! This past week, my dad has been in town--visiting Buffalo for the first time! It was great to have him here, getting a "taste" of our new life. In addition to visiting the typical sites like Niagara Falls and Palmyra, he made his famous Cowboy Cookies with the Cookie Club. (He even got the boys to all wear aprons!)

Phew!! I'm exhausted just writing about all the excitement we've had this summer! As you can see, I've had more than my fair share of fun this summer, and I'm afraid I've gotten out of the habit of getting up at 5:30 a.m. and working 14 hour days. Next week is going to be a shock! I go back to school on Tuesday. :(


  1. I just wanted to say that you have the cutest curly-Q's when you were a little girl... and both of you have adorable kid-cheeks! You're kids will be totally adorable!

  2. Just have to say... HOW COOL ARE YOU GUYS?!?! I think you win the humanitarian-altruistic-selfless and cutest-nicest-astonishingly amazing awards, from me. And the most awesome thing is that you do that stuff our of pure love for the kids and each other. Which makes me love you two EVEN MORE (if that were possible!). I feel so lucky to have friends like you! Tortilla soup night, anyone???

  3. I'm so glad that your family all got to go this year with you. It really is the best to share something you love with someone else. It adds to the excitment to see it through their eys. Trav and I are going to stay at the hotel sometime we are in the area, lol.

  4. Ditto on what Beth said. I am glad you joined the blog community!

  5. You guys inspire me! I'm so glad you have a blog and I get to peak in on your great adventures.

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  7. La Casa del Mundo! Truly the "most magical" hotel in Guatemala. I won't forget that place and think it is great the two of you went back. The two of you are great. I want Adam to meet you sometime soon!

  8. Rach & Ry! Yep, I'm glad you are in the blogging world. Othewise, I would never have gotten such a great update on your summer and a shot in the arm by your examples. Yes..."I'm too blessed to be stressed" is a good mantra! And...I too have a blog... go way back to the beginning and there is even a post about YOU! Much love to you both....

  9. Rachel - I'm so glad you started a blog and it is NOT boring. I loved reading about your summer adventures - and why you decided to start a blog. :) Good legit reasons. And don't worry, I'm right there with you in not-so-frequent updates :)

  10. Rachel and Ryan, getting invited to your blog makes my day. I love reading the news and seeing updated photos of the adventures. Keep up the great work in Dental School and High School. You are making this world better and better.
    Love, Annabelle's Grampster

  11. Wow Rachel- I can't believe you guys go back to El Sal every summer!! Thats like the coolest thing I've ever heard- what a difference you guys have made there! Its so great to see how those kids have grown! Hope everything is going well- its great to hear an update

  12. Hey Rachy! I am thrilled that you guys are starting a blog! They are the greatest way to keep in touch with people! It is fun to read about your lives and see pictures too. We have one-I think you probably already knew that? But if not, my name on this post should link you to it.

  13. Hey Rach! I am excited you two have a blog and promise not to complain if you don't update it all the time b/c I am the same way sometimes. But I am excited to read whatever you have to say! I am so devastated about this weekend, I was really looking forward to hanging out with you guys. Things just don't seem to be going smoothly! Hope school got off to a good start.


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