Thursday, September 30, 2010

coo coo ca choo

I guess it is more like "coup coup ca choo"..... and no, I am not a walrus.
(if you are saying "huh?", with a look on your face like I am insane, it is a Beatles song)

Yes, life as of late:
bank robberies
presidents in hiding
presidents being overthrown
people driving in lanes going the wrong direction
helicopters everywhere
everything shut down.... stores, schools, and whatever else

Such is a day in the life of a Quito resident.
And I am so glad I'm here.

I say that in all seriousness!! Really!

From the moment we were told that we had to pick up our kids early from school (it was the first I heard of all this lunacy), I had a huge grin on my face. I love this! It is so cool to be experiencing this.... something so different from my cultural norm. I couldn't stop grinning (for real) all afternoon as the whole thing is just so entertaining.

Now if it goes on for quite a while, and if we can't get food and gas* like some people are predicting (are they realists or pessimists??), I might not be so happy. I'm sure you'll hear all about it if it comes to that!

The kids, however, aside from being happy that they have a 3.5 day long weekend (except for Cade - he cried tonight because he doesn't have school tomorrow! I love that!!), are having a bit of a hard time. There have been several tears for fears (sorry, I couldn't resist the 90s reference). Cade was crying quite a bit when we had to pick them up from school. While the school handled everything very well, there was a bit of chaos, lots of bells/sirens, and a lot of announcements. He was quite distressed. Poor guy.
Then there were more questions and tears from all of the kids at bed time. It is certainly a very upsetting thing for them to go through. I hardly understand what is going on and they understand even less. It is pretty frightening for them, having never gone through anything even remotely similar.

The good thing about today was that we had some of the Casa G. boys over for dinner. After dinner we watched a bunch of fun and funny videos on youtube. It provided a great distraction for the kids and was great to hang out with the guys. We love being part of this ministry. I think we benefit far more than the guys do!

Well, tomorrow, I'm just going to call the day off from school a "snow day".
In my mind there will be a blizzard howling outside and we will be staying inside, warm and cozy. Its a little early considering it will only be the first of October..... but if we can imagine that there is a blizzard, then we can most certainly imagine that it is January 16th or something like that!

*We have gas!! They came today. Soooooo thankful - especially because once we heard about this coup business, people told us we probably wouldn't be able to get any.... and then the gas shortage was making it even harder. But as we were heading home from school, I saw our gas truck/guys on the main street.... I flagged him down and asked if he was going to come to our house. He did! Of course, being that there is a shortage and they might not be able to deliver for a while, he charged about 40% more $ per tank.... but considering how cheap gas is, we really couldn't complain! It is a huge answer to prayer that we finally have full tanks, especially now. Thank you Lord!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

so you want more of the kids

I've had several requests for more pictures, particularly more pictures of the kids.
Well, that is all fine and dandy but what about Eric and I?
Doesn't anyone care to see us?
What is up with that?
Do we mean nothing to any of you?

Okay, I get it - we are not nearly so cute.
So you want cuteness?
Here is some cuteness....
Lucy are Mia are posing with their artwork. This is actually from a while ago - one of the projects to make our house a home, while at the same time keeping the kids busy and/or distracted in the long. lonely summer.
I bought each of them a canvas and a bunch of paint colors that matched our "aquarium" (um.... can't remember if I have mentioned the aquarium yet.... Essentially, it is our family room. A small cozy room that has one wall that is all windows and the opposing wall is almost all glass, including a sliding glass door. When we first moved in I said that it made me feel like a fish in a fish tank, so we started calling it the aquarium). The kids then painted fish-ish pictures (again - get the aquarium reference?).
Their pictures, clockwise from the top right:
Lucy, Mia, Cade and Maddy
Yes, Lucy did very well for a five year old..... although she did have a great deal of assistance!
This is Cade yesterday after school.
We walked home from school in a torrential downpour.

- Eric made me go and get the kids while he sat at home doing nothing. -

I brought their raincoats along but we were still extremely cold and got very very wet. There was an awful lot of rain - almost Costa Rican like.

- Eric said that it was my turn to go and get them while he stayed home all snuggled up in a cozy blanket. -

The kids were complaining a lot, their little teeth were chattering, their cute and precious lips were turning blue. My fingers, because you see, I have raynauds disease, were turning white and I could hardly move them. And yes, we were walking up hill, of course.

- Eric fell asleep on our soft sofa, cozied up with the kitty, snoring in blissful ignorance. -

When we finally managed to struggle home, fumbling with the keys with frozen fingers, pulling the cold steel gate open and falling, with utter exhaustion into our yard, Eric managed to rouse himself long enough to throw out a few towels to us so we could dry off.
So kind.

Okay, but seriously...
It was cold and we were soaked.
So we all pulled off our wet things (they are still in a pile by the kitchen door - still no gas, and it is raining, so we don't really have a way to dry things), got all cozy in our jammies, made some hot chocolate (heating water in the microwave - still no gas, so we couldn't heat it on the stove.... thank you Lord for electricity), quickly did homework and watched a movie.
The picture is of Cade after we got all cozied up.
The mouse ears must keep his head warm.
This is Lucy eating dinner last night.
She is very good at multitasking (albeit not so politely!).... she can eat spaghetti and talk on the "phone" at the same time. One of her favorite toys is an old cell phone.
She, unlike her mother, enjoys talking on the phone.
You may notice that she is wearing a sundress.
She also is barefoot.
That is her version of changing out of cold wet things and putting on something warm and cozy.
Those are the first words that come to my mind when I think of sundress: warm and cozy.
Okay, well she did snuggle up with me and a blanket during the movie.

And yes, we did have a homemade meal in spite of not having gas.
Fortunately we had frozen spaghetti and frozen sauce which we could defrost in the microwave. Otherwise it might have been another pizza night (we ordered in the night before).

And just so you know, with the gas, or lack-there-of, issue, we are still showering when necessary.
"Necessary" just has a bit of a different definition than it used to!
And okay, no, this isn't a picture of one of the kids, but it is a picture taken by one of the kids.
Mia, knowing my love for our beautiful Cotopaxi, took this picture from our window this morning (while I was still in blissful slumber).
Just the tail end of the sunrise.
A wonderful way to start the day.

Three words: dumb kitty

Before I explain why Nolly is a dumb kitty.... I know I actually said two words, but it is a partial quote from "Cheaper by the Dozen" - a family favorite movie. So don't ask, just watch the show....

Nolly, the kitty, is a tad bit of a lame-brain.
Don't tell Maddy about this, but seriously, she is.
The worst of it is that she seems to pride herself in being dumb.
For example:
One of the places she likes best is the computer keyboard.
I'm guessing that it is because it is warm.
But you'd think that when you continually removed her from her favorite location, she would get the picture.
No, she doesn't.... "And the cat came back the very next day (well, minute, actually)".
One of these days I might just hurl her across the room.
Okay, I won't, but I'll be tempted to....
Then last night, this:
The kids are in bed and Eric and I are sitting in the aquarium reading.
I hear kitty (Lucy hates it when I call her "kitty" instead of "Nolly") meowing.
I look up and see this - Nolly climbed to the top of the curtains.
She must have been scared because she was meowing a lot.
Then again, she usually meows a lot (also part of her dumbness).
Anyway, she sort of struggles with what to do;
looking down with fear and trembling, looking up with uncertainty...
Finally she decides that up is better than down.
And she actually seems to find a comfy spot.
So there she is, cuddled on the curtain rod, eight feet in the air, looking rather smug.

She wasn't very happy with me when I got a chair and took her down.
I sort of felt like the fireman, climbing the ladder to get the frightened kitten out of the tree.
I'm a hero, I thought.
Kitty thought otherwise.
While I am pretty sure she wouldn't have been able to get down on her own, she was not the least bit please with me removing her from her perch.

I think we need to get a spray bottle to instill a bit of wisdom in dumb kitty.
Nothing like a little spritz of water to teach a cat what is what.

Monday, September 27, 2010

family picture

Just had a little break from blogging.
Got a call from school. My poor little Lu-lu is sick.
I was about to leave when my neighbor got home from grocery shopping - so she took me to pick up my baby. That way we didn't have to walk home.
Thank you Lord, once again, for a wonderful neighbor.

Okay - and just one more thing that I have finally been able to do.
Another thing I have wanted to do for quite some time (this is what happens when you have a year or more to have your brain go crazy with ideas but not have the ability or opportunity to actually do them):
A family silhouette picture.
I love all the silhouette pictures that you see now - especially a lot of kids profiles.
I wanted to do something a little different.
I about drove my family batty with doing this, but I think it is worth it!
We took pictures in front of a window (three of us at a time, and then one of the middle two, Eric and Mia) to get as close to a silhouette as possible. Then I printed off the pictures in black and white, enlarged them, connected them, glued them to some contact paper (old and wrinkly, however - so it made the job a little tricky) and cut them out.
Then I stuck the contact paper cut outs onto a canvas, painted white, and painted over it with leftover paint from Maddy's room. Peeled off the contact paper cut outs and ta-da! Family silhouette picture! Because the contact paper was so old and wrinkly I had a bunch of touching up to do, but I was pretty thrilled that it worked anyway.
They have all these wonderful fancy tools nowadays to make something like this much easier, but I had to do it the old fashioned way.
I'm convincing myself that making stuff out of very little gives me a bigger sense of accomplishment.
I do love how it turned out though. Kind of a fun twist on the silhouette trend.

And Julie from Kitschy Chic on the Cheap featured it on her most fabulous blog - my favorite of several I visit...she is terribly, horribly (I mean, like really and those good kind of words...) creative but I love love love how she brings in history and education into it all. It is so much more than most crafty blogs.
She is brilliant - and I am her friend.
Does that make me brilliant?
See her post here.

you may notice...

You may notice two things:
Thing one:
I am posting a lot of stuff today.
Yes, I am trying to catch up. Haven't had much opportunity lately.
Thing two:
No, I have not been reading a lot of Dr. Suess lately....
I have posted very little about what we are actually doing here. As in - our ministry and all that.

There are two reasons for that:
Reason one:
I keep forgetting to take pictures of stuff we do and it isn't nearly so interesting to just describe it. But we are "missionarying" and we love the guys and are soooo thankful for the ministry that we are involved in.
Reason two:
There's some stuff going on that I am finding a little hard and am a little emotional about - nothing hugely major - but sad and hard. So I am waiting a little so that I don't start bawling while I am writing and ruining our computer with my flood of tears (yes, that is quite an extreme exaggeration). Seriously - not a big cause for concern, but I just don't feel like writing much about it right now.
Flighty, non-eternal, frivolity is much easier to talk about.

chalkboard wall!!

Thank you Glenda!!
She, my sister-in-law, bought chalkboard paint for me and sent it with a bag of stuff for us (I talked about it in another post some time ago...).
This is another thing I have wanted to do for a long long time (even longer than the chevron wall) and finally got to do. Its in the kitchen.
And it only took two coats!
The verse up top is "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6:33.
You may also notice in the top right corner a lovely new valance, made from the fabric I received in the same "shipment" - Thanks mom!!
One problem with the location of the chalkboard wall.
Notice the "snow" on the peppers and tomatoes?

I will now have to dust my produce with boring regularity.

painting craziness

I have been wanting to do this for a very long time:
Finally we are not moving or living somewhere temporarily.
And we are also in a rental where we can paint!
So I get to indulge my desire for a chevron wall (I think that is what it is called).
That is all blue painters tape - all measured out, applied and ready for painting (after I painted the wall white first - took three coats.... ask I have stated before, not the best quality paint available out here.....)
Then I painted grey/gray (depending on how you learned to spell it - I don't even remember which way I learned) on every other stripe. Yup - three coats again.
Then the kids helped me remove the tape - fun times!
Not only is the paint not the best quality, but the painters tape isn't either(notice the peeled paint?). Actually, you can get 3M brand, which is only 3x as much $, and being the cheap (I mean frugal) person that I am, I bought the local brand. Big mistake.
Fortunately, 1/3 of the wall was done with the 3M that the previous renters left here, so I did have a section that I didn't have to touch up.... nice, perfectly crisp lines.
I did have a lot of touch up to do - and it is times like this when being a perfectionist really is a pain in the behind.
But it all turned out in the end and I am thrilled.
You'll notice that my treasure is there too. I just took the wrecked legs off of it and it is pinned between the wall and the chest. And for now I have left it as-is.
Eventually I plan it mount it higher and have a bench with four drawers (one for each darling child to put their stuff into) instead of the chest.

pray for gas

These four blue gas tanks are empty.
We have one more that is on "yellow"..... almost at "red" - which means empty.
Normally these blue gas tanks are connected to the water heater, the dryer, the stove and the BBQ.
What that means, if you are good at deducing, is that we have one gas tank left, with only an itty-bitty bit of gas left in it, with which to heat water, dry clothes and cook food.
And each time we want to do one of these things, we have to disconnect this tank, carry its heaviness to the appropriate connection, reconnect it and pray that there is enough gas to get through the "job".
We would like God to do one of those widow with the oil and Elijah (or is it Elisha?) jobs and just keep that tank going.
Actually, we would rather have God do one of those "have the gas people be able to get gas somewhere and bring full gas tanks here" jobs. That would be even better.
So yes, for some reason, the people who sell gas don't have any. Its been several days now. And it just so happens that we were running low on several of our tanks.
Usually they come around several times a day, honking their horns, and you run out, flag them down and buy a full tank of gas from them (and give them the empty). Not sure what is happening or why, but apparently they are out of gas.
Now we can most certainly go without drying our clothes - we did that in Costa Rica anyway. And there is something quite fresh and lovely about hanging clothes out to dry.
And I suppose if worse comes to worse, we can cook our food on our little outdoor fire pit thing.
But the shower thing - that is a tough one.
The water is freezing!!!!! As in very very cold. Not sure if it snow melt from Cotopaxi or one of the other two volcanos we are surrounded by, but it is very chilly.
So not fun.

It would be nice if we could harness up the newest addition to our family:
She has plenty of gas to go around.
And it don't smell like flowers either!
How is it, exactly, that such a little, cute ball of fluff can put out so much nasty stench?

the walk to school and back

Oh, if only it wouldn't be rude to carry a camera with me and take pictures of all that I see. Maybe I should ask for a secret spy camera that looks like a button on my shirt. And I could wear it everyday and take pictures of all the funny things I see and laugh about them to myself and blog about them all and try desperately to describe how funny it really was even though the picture wouldn't do it justice and end up looking even more like a physco than I already seem .....
Okay, maybe not.

But I do wish I could take pictures of some things.
It would be rather entertaining.

First: The Rubber Necker
The whole family is walking to school together. We come up behind this lady. She turns around to look at us, probably because we are speaking in English. Then she turns around again. And again. And a third time. And yes, a fourth time as well. We overtake her (no, not like grab her and mug her, just pass her.... Using the word "overtake" just makes me sound smarterish). After we pass her, I hear her mutter to herself "Cuantos hijos?" in a "oh my goodness" fashion (that means "how many children?"). And then she keeps muttering other things but I couldn't really hear..... I'm sure it would have been interesting though!
Okay, so we only have four kids. Really not that crazy. And I guess, like in Costa Rica, not very many people have families that large. It must be the combination of the blondness with the number of children. We have definitely been a novelty in the last year.... four absolutely adorable blonde kids wandering around in Latin American countries.
But then again, people in California would comment to me sometimes too about all the kids.... like when I would go to Costco with all of them. People would ask if they were all mine (These kind of questions will probably slow down in the US soon - is seems to be rather trendy to have large families nowadays. Have you noticed? Lots of big families popping up...)

Okay, so anyway, back to the walk.

Second: The Primpers
On the way home, after dropping off the kids, I see four ladies, all wearing the same blue jackets (must be for their jobs or something), sitting on the curb - beside the lady who is there every day at this corner of the street selling "breakfast", of some variety, out of a big old pot - and all four of them are putting makeup on. Two, mascara; one, lipstick; one, powder. It really would have been a great picture. Sad about not capturing that one.

Third: The Horcker
Walking up the hill, getting closer to home, I come to this man who seems to be having serious sinus issues. Serious. And I'm glad I didn't have a camera for this one.
He made noises so that one would think he was trying to not only clear his sinuses but suck his entire brain through his nasal cavity. And then he would spit out what he had "collected". Repeatedly. And then he blew his nose a few times too. Not like take out his hanky and blew his nose - I mean blew his nose onto the street.
I walked on the "sidewalk" on the other side of the street.
I could hear him the rest of the way up the hill.

Cotopaxi was clear today.
That really was lovely.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Fruit #11: babaco

It has been a while since we did a new fruit.
Two reasons for that:
#1, There aren't a whole lot of new fruits that are in season right now. I guess a bunch will be available in a month or two.
#2, This here babaco we have had for over a month. Yes, a month. We got it when it was green and researched that it needed to be yellow to eat. So we waited, and waited and waited. It took a month to ripen.
Was it worth the wait?

Not that it is bad, it just isn't anything special.
After we let it ripen, I heard that you can use it green in stir-fries and such, more like a vegetable than a fruit.

Babaco is also known as champagne fruit. It grows on a tree that looks kind of like a palm but apparently it only grows to be 6 or 7 feet high, even though these fruit are slightly over a foot long. They also grow well in pots on patios so I am rather tempted to try to grow one just for fun.
The skin is soft and edible, but tastes not so great. It has a pretty flower shape when you cut through it - would be great for decorative fruit baskets.... Once you get more to the middle of it, however, there is a hollow section and mushy, stringy part - kind of like the inside of a cantaloupe but without the seeds. The flesh is juicy and soft with a mild tart/sweet flavor - sort of melon like. Again, I don't seem to be great at describing the taste but I read that has hints of all kinds of other fruits' flavors in it.
Personally, I just think it tastes like babaco.
Since it such a large fellow, I cut up a little and kept it for the family to try (no one was really that crazy about it - but didn't hate it either) and made fruit crisp with the rest.
The kids mostly just ate the crisp and left the fruit.

a package!!

Look what I got!!
My darling friend Julie sent a package to me with beautiful fabric!
I couldn't be more thrilled.
Now the big task....
figuring out what kind of wonderful things to make with it.
The possibilities are endless.

I'm so excited!!
Thank you Julie - you are wonderful.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

a good day

My headache is almost gone.... just random traces today.
And no dizziness.
Thank you Lord.

It was my first turn to cook Sunday lunch for everyone at Casa G.
I was a little nervous.
Actually, I was a lot nervous.
I know I am a pretty decent cook, but things haven't gone as well for me here in the food-prep department. Lacking certain ingredients, altitude effects, etc.
Plus, I don't cook food that is very common here.
So yah, I was nervous.

Last night I stuck a pork roast in the crock pot, Eric and I made the beginnings of a tomato and roasted red pepper salad, and I double checked my research on how to cook a good batch of rice up here (have had a few attempts - none of which resulted in a pleasant pot of the stuff).
This morning before church, Eric and I finished the salad, I checked the roast....looking and smelling good.... and set to cook the rice:
First sort of stir-fry the rice in butter or oil and a bit of seasoning, then add water - a little more than normal and cook it like usual but for a whole lot longer.
It turned out!!
That put a spring in my step and song of praise in my mouth!
The meal was turning out!!

After church, Eric and the kids headed to Casa G. and Maddy and I headed home - someone was going to pick us, and the food, up and bring us there.

At the gate of our house - before we even got to the front door -
we smelled something not so good.
We got to the door and smelled something kinda bad.
We got in the house and smelled something horrible.

I left the stove on for one of the two pots of rice.
We now had a pot of burned rice.
Very, very, very burned rice.


In spite of this where-is-my-brain....I-could-have-burned-down-the-house situation, the meal turned out fine. It was even good.... quite tasty. We still had plenty of rice and everyone enjoyed their lunch.
Everyone enjoyed it so much, in fact, that I had many, many compliments and thank yous.
So many compliments and thank yous, actually, that I am pretty sure that the guys were coached to show their appreciation to me.....
because I was so nervous about cooking for them all.
Not that they aren't very polite and grateful guys
but seriously, it wasn't that good.

After lunch and clean up we headed out to play soccer
(no, I did not participate.... yes, Eric did).
And a good time was had by all.

I was finishing up the day, after the kids were tucked in bed, with a shower. When I was almost done, someone opened the door (with quite some effort, I might add - the thing is fitted rather snug!) and walked up to the shower.
"Mommy..... Um.... Mommy.... (thinking, thinking thinking....)
Ah, um, (more thinking, thinking)......
Princess had a bad dream."
It was Lucy.
Lucy knows that we are not too fond of the "I had a bad dream" excuse for coming out of bed - that is, not when it is five minutes after they have been tucked in.
We have explained countless times that you can't have a bad dream when you haven't been asleep.
Apparently Princess can.....
Princess is a little bitty 1.5 inch white stuffed-animal dog.
Poor princess.
So, while I stood in the shower, with Lucy holding on to Princess in the bathroom, I prayed for Princess.
I felt a little stupid that I was praying for a itty-bitty stuffy....
until God reminded me that I was really praying for my baby girl in disguise.

It was a good day.

Friday, September 17, 2010


It has been a tough week.

I've had a migraine for four days in a row.... points where it hasn't been too bad, but then it hits hard again.
Really not fun.
WARNING: If you are a squeamish male about girl issues, or a female who doesn't like that people talk about girl issues, do not continue reading.
You see, the thing is that I am getting these headaches with my period. And out of the 12 weeks we have lived in this country, I have had my period for 4 of those weeks.
Either altitude effects hormones or I am in the beginning of those terrible years.....
Yipee for me.

It has also been a tough week with other stuff here.
Stuff to put my mind in worry mode and feeling pain for others mode. Stuff to get me thinking and snowballing and feeling anxious.
But you know, as always, God has been so faithful.
As of Wednesday, pretty well every time an anxious or painful thought enters my head, God has put the following on my mind:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding.
In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.
Proverbs 3:5,6

I have said and said and said those words a whole lot of times in the last three days.
And they have brought much comfort. Even if it brings pain, trusting Him is the best way.

I am so thankful that I learned these verses as a child.
I remember driving in the car and saying these verses together as a family.
They have brought comfort, guidance, peace and direction many times over.

Thank you mom.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Isaiah 2:22

Stop trusting in human beings,
who have but a breath in their nostrils.
Why hold them in esteem?


Monday, September 13, 2010

sleeping in (or not)

So, generally speaking, our kids are early risers.
Typically, they are up by 6:00 a.m., and often earlier. Mia, in particular, has been known to rise at the ungodly hour of 5:30.

- please keep in mind that both parents are night people -

Now this past week, the first full week of school, without fail, we have had to wake the kids up to get ready for school. We've woken them up at 6:45 and can barely haul their little fannies out of bed.
Moaning and groaning - sure that we are torturing them, we try to pull them out into a state of, at most, semiconsciousness.
They, especially the youngest two, have been completely and utterly exhausted.... And it shows in more than their sleep patterns, if you know what I'm saying!
Finally the weekend came.

Ah, weekends.
Weekends with opportunity to catch up on rest.

Saturday morning, 6:02 a.m.: Lucy comes bubbling into our bedroom needing breakfast. Cade and Mia follow shortly (6:15ish).

Sunday morning, 6:07 a.m.: Lucy and Cade are awake with Mia trailing behind them.
Are you freaking kidding me??? Church doesn't start until 10:45!!!

Monday morning (aka: today, back to school this morning....) 6:50 a.m.: Eric and Carla trying to haul tired bottoms out of bed.

Yes, I am serious.

I don't even have anything else that I can say.

Except maybe

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Back to School Party!

Lucy was invited to her first party from someone in her class.
It was a back to school party and the whole family was invited. We were all very excited, especially because it was a pool party! It had been a while since we were able to go swimming.
Today was a beautiful day, so we were even more thankful and excited.
After church we rushed home, all six of us got our suits on, packed our towels, extra clothes, lubed up with sunscreen, got all our sunglasses on and headed out - half way walking, half way taking a taxi - to get to the swim party.
We were late, but hey, we are on Ecuadorian time!
We had a great time, minus two issues:
#1 Apparently the adults here don't do the "swim" part of swim parties. Instead they, well, the ladies at least, still wear their stilettos and nice clothes. So Eric and I didn't swim either.
#2 It was an indoor pool. Not that big of a deal except for the fact that we spent 20 minutes and probably $7 applying sunscreen. The kids hate having to put sunscreen on, we hate having to put it on, and it is, as we call it "liquid gold"..... or at least it is priced as such.
But we did have a good time. It was nice to meet some of the other parents of the kids in Lucy's class, even if conversation was a little limited. They were all wonderful warm, friendly people. And there were a few who spoke English (although it probably would have been better to be the only ones - so we would have been forced to speak more Spanish). We were the only full "Gringos" there, which we quite enjoyed. We love that the kids are the only, or at least one of few, North Americans in their classes. What an incredible opportunity for them.
The three blondes close together (harder to tell with wet hair) are Lucy, Mia and Cade.
Mia the gringo ("gringa", technically)
Even Lucy's teacher, Miss Ortiz, came. Lucy felt a little too shy to do a picture with her teacher all by herself so I had to join..... (notice the dry bathing suit straps).
And yes, a fun time was had by all.

A "how to" for Official Ecuadorian Government Documents

  • Have a neighbor take all six of you to the official office, without a clear sign stating that it is the correct place, at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday.
  • Discover that they just recently (within the last two weeks) changed the hours to 9:00 - 12:00 instead of 8:00 - 12:00.
  • Drive home.
  • Return at 9:00 and wait to get your number. Have a lady cut in front of you to get her number first.
  • Wait....
  • Run to a store, buy a glue stick, because you need to glue all of your pictures on the outside of your envelopes.
  • Tell your kids to please be more quiet.
  • Wait....
  • Wait....
  • Beg your kids to keep it down and respect the people around you.
  • Have someone go sit themselves down in the chair to be served, as soon as the chair is empty, even though they came in after you. Have the guy serve them first even though it isn't their turn.
  • Wait....
  • Wait....
  • Have someone else cut in as in the aforementioned situation.
  • Wait....
  • Have your number called. The man will then tell you that each person in your family needs their own number, in order to be served.
  • Explain to the man, in your politest but quite broken Spanish, that you were only given one number, by his coworker, and would it really matter anyway - seeing as you would have all of the numbers in a row, so the wait time would be the same for the next person? (Hold your tongue, not saying what you want.... something to the effect of "Why in the world are you lecturing me about this when we are waiting here with our four kids, they are getting very hungry and impatient, and you just let two people cut in front of us when their numbers are after us??????")
  • Be told you need to go get photocopies of pages you thought you already had copies of.
  • Get photocopies made (next door, thank the Lord).
  • Have the guy discover that you did, after all, have those correct photocopies already, but you do have to go make copies of something else in each of your passports.
  • Bring the copies back and have the guy tell you that you need a copy of your electricity bill for each individual person, not just one for the family.
  • Go make five copies of the electricity bill.
  • Have everyone's picture taken. Have everyone sign names, check information, etc.
  • Receive your cards loosely in their little official plastic folders with numbers and what-not on them.
  • Have the guy tell you how to laminate your Official Ecuadorian Government Documents (Censos), because, of course, you always laminate Official Ecuadorian Government Documents at home..... It must not be official if they actually have a laminating machine there to do it.
  • Take a taxi home because your dear, sweet neighbors who took you couldn't wait any longer and had to leave a while ago.

  • Take out your Official Ecuadorian Government Iron, turn on to high heat and wait for it to warm.
  • Take out an older pillow case to be your Official Ecuadorian Pressing Sheet.
  • Press each card, in between the pillow case, to "laminate" your Official Ecuadorian Government Document.
  • Allow to cool.
  • Your Official Ecuadorian Government Documents are now completed.... and Official.
  • Admire the matching grumpy expressions on two of your delightful children's faces to serve as a reminder of all the good times in acquiring your Official Ecuadorian Government Documents.

Friday, September 10, 2010

more and more treasures

High speed internet?
Um, I don't think that word means what they think it means.
Maybe it got lost in the translation.
Molasses, turtle.... those seem more appropriate.

Okay, I'm done complaining.
On to the good stuff...

Look at this beautiful fabric!!
And it is mine, all mine!
(there was no wicked cackle at the end of that, I promise)
And speaking of molasses... I have some!!!!! And a can of pumpkin, and a big bag of chocolate chips, and two packages of chili powder, and a ginormous jar of peanut butter, and a crock pot, and another treasure that I can't talk about (it is a surprise for Christmas..... shhhhhh!), and chalkboard paint, and Maddy's bedding, and sunglasses to protect the eyes of my precious family (and absolute essential here - UV index is always, always, always in the way-danger zone), and some random other stuff.... and that fabric.
Ahhhh.... I feel spoiled.
Our boss-man was in Minnesota for a few weeks this summer (with his lovely family) so we asked him, if we would pay the extra baggage fee and could get the stuff down to him in MN, could he bring some stuff back here for us. The Gem said yes.
So my darling family, bless them, spent, I am sure, a ridiculous amount of time running around and gather this stuff up for us. My sister-in-law (my brother made a very good decision, by the way) and/or her parents (I love Bert and Mary... if I could have an additional set of parents, I'd choose them) picked up the stuff we ordered at their US address (just across the boarder - couldn't have it shipped to Canada), my mommy went and got the crock pot and dealt with the fabric fiasco, all of them - or some of them bought all the other stuff, plus book marks and fun pens for the kids, plus packed it all up. Then there was a lot of asking around by all of them to find someone to get the stuff down to MN (initially I had a "ride" for it, but that fell through) so finally my dear brother hopped in his Bug with a friend, after being Mr. Nasty Principal (pal, not ple - because the principal is your pal) on friday, drove down, dropped the stuff off, went to a Vikings pre-game on saturday and drove back on time to be Mr. Handy-Dandy Sound Man at church. It was a sacrifice for him, but one that he apparently enjoyed.

And speaking of family....
These are the books that I picked up from the school library this morning.
Beauties, all of them.

But I must admit....
That is what I am.
I admit it.
I didn't admit it when I cried at Kung Fu Panda (those of you who didn't have not a drop of tenderness in you...).
My children teased me mercilessly.... they love to look at me during any slightly emotional or touching scene in any movie to see if I am crying.
Inevitably I am.

But cry in the middle of a row of children's books in a school library?
(And, unfortunately I am not just talking about my eyes getting moist and my nose having that burning sensation. I'm talking about crying.)
Well, yes.

You see, Lucy said to me last night (I just about dropped my load when she said it) "I want to get books so I can practice reading."
Thrilled, I went to the library straight away after dropping the kids off.
I sat down in the easy-reader section and saw "Julius".

Julius! We had Julius!
And mom still has Danny and the Dinosaur and Sammy the Seal (I forgot to get Sammy out - next time). And Babar looses his Crown and Big Max, and Small Pig, and The Fire Cat.
And (please read with an outrageous french accent): the piece de resistance:
The Five Chinese Brothers.
I love that book.
A piece of Heaven.

Frog and Toad are a cross over from my childhood to books we had for the kids at home - but had to say goodbye to.
I Wish That I Had Duck Feet is not that common to my childhood or my children's, but it reminded me of my sister-in-law (that Brother's wife woman). She used to quote it with boring, but enjoyable regularity.
Mystical Bob the Rhino, more commonly known as "Curious George Flies a Kite", is a family favorite. It is a daddy thing.... don't ask.
And Pickles to Pittsburg?
Jungle pickle 'n' toe, of course.
Or, Jumbo pickle in tow.... it is about wrestling with your kids.
Another daddy thing.... don't ask.

So yes, I was in tears.
Tears of joy from good, good memories.
Tears of sadness because I really miss my family.
Tears of reunion because we get to relive some fun family memories with my wacky husband reading stories.

Next time it will be all books we had but had to leave behind.
Good stuff.

I love progress, I love the internet (albeit rather slow in our house), computers, iPads (do you have any idea how badly I want one?), Kindles, and all that good stuff, but you just can't get away from the wonder of
a book.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

I have a whole lot of things that I want to blog about - like my procrastinating finishing my daughter's soda bottle chandelier (it is a very tedious project - hopefully fun and cute and all, but very tedious), Sunday at Casa G., my starting Spanish lessons today (did I forget everything?), etc.
But once again, I am so loving Narnia. I've limited my rantings and delvings to once per book so far - not sure if I can keep it limited like that for the whole 7 book series, but I'll try to not go overboard.

So Mia and I are onto the Dawn Treader (very excited about the movie coming out - only hoping that it will be English with subtitles instead of dubbed in Spanish..... and I'm a little teeny bit nervous about what they will, inevitably, change from the book.).
In Chapter 6, Eustace (what a very unfortunate name!) turns into a dragon. He found a dragon's hoard, and being the selfish, down-right rotten boy he was, claimed it as his own. As a result of this, he turned into a dragon. Of course, this ends up being a good thing as he starts to turn from being a complete jerk to someone much more kind.... it is really too bad he didn't get a name change to better suit his nicer personality - kinda like Abram to Abraham, Saul to Paul, that kind of thing....
Okay, focus, Carla.
So he is a dragon.
In Chapter 7, Eustace has an encounter with Aslan and is changed back into a boy. Aslan told him to "undress"; to take off his dragon-self. It sounded like a fairly easy thing to do.
Well, Eustace does. Or, rather, he tries. He takes off his dragon skin, walks away from it, only to discover that he is still a dragon. He tries again, and again,... each attempt with no more progress than before.
Finally, Aslan tells him "You will have to let me undress you", so in fear of the pain but with desperation, Eustace lies down and lets him. This is what happens:
"The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off...... he peeled the beastly stuff right off - just as I thought I'd done it myself the other three times, only they hadn't hurt - and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there I was as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been." Eustace was a boy once again.

Isn't this just like Christ does with us?

I can make as many attempts as I want to change myself to be something better. I try to do all I can in my power to get rid of my ugliness, my ick, my dark, knobbly sin, but I can't get rid of it. I may feel slightly better initially after an attempt, but I just end up being the same old dragon. Alone, I simply can not get rid of my "old self".

But Christ can.

He can undress us out of our old, thick, dark, ugly sinful self and make us something new. It will/does hurt. He has to tear deep, dig into our hearts and it will hurt worse than anything. But then He will remove it and He will dress us in our "new self".
Now, just like Eustace wasn't instantly a perfect person, we won't be either. But because he knew where he had come from, he worked at his new self. And he hated being a dragon.
Again it is the same with us in Christ. Yes, He peels away all our crud and gives us newness, but we still have to work, with His strength, to stay away from our dragonish tendencies. It won't always be easy and sometimes it might be easier to be a dragon, but we are new and beautiful in Him.
One other thing.
Our sinfulness, our old self, our dragon that He gets rid of for us? If we turn around and look at it, will truly be thicker, darker, and more knobbly-looking than what we ever attempted to remove on our own. I think that is like my sin. I often don't think I really get how awful it is. Do I see it for what it is - a gross ugly mass that was weighing me down and making me a dragon?
If we don't let Christ dig away at our sin, I don't think we will ever realize how horrible our sin really is. And even though I am writing all of this and love this illustration that C. S. Lewis gives, I'm not sure that I really get how horrible my sin is - past and present.
I am much too cavalier when it come to sin.
I think if I really did get it, it would cause me to fall on my knees a whole lot more, surrender myself a whole lot more fully to the power and righteousness of Christ, and turn away.... no run away, from sin.
And I think that if we get it, if we let Him remove our yuck, we will see that we really are smaller than we were, or at least thought we were... just like Eustace. Humility, through seeing how wretched we are apart from Jesus, will do that to a person!
Good thing God is patient with me, and gives me the grace everyday to start over. And regardless of whether I am having a real dragonish day, He still sees me as a new person, through Christ, His righteousness and His work.
Thank you Lord!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Lucy, the fashion plate

And this, folks, is precisely why I wanted to work with her to pick out her clothes for the first day of school. Just wanted one day of her matching.

Although, quite honestly, I kind of like that she has a style all her own.

That's my girl.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

my treasures

God gave me some treasures!
If you've been readying this blog, you know I have been moping and doping about not having access to a whole lot of craft supplies or thrift stores or dollar stores (might not have mentioned that one) or almost any place that has materials with which to be creative. I'm not sure why God chose to reward my whining but He gave me some real treasures (okay, I don't really think He was rewarding my whining, but it was just a huge blessing to me to get these things...)!
The mirrored coat rack was on the side of the road - the road most frequently traveled. I was walking to the school one day to this orientation thingy for Lucy and I saw it - like a beam of light shining on it. I kept going, but literally started praying that if I could possibly have it, that it might still be there on the walk back.
It was.
I walked right on past it.
I was too chicken (aka, proud) to take it.
About 10 yards further, the desire and longing overtook me, I turned back around, stopped at the guard shack (I didn't want him to pull his gun on me for taking something I shouldn't), asked him if it was "available" (yes, in Spanish), he said yes, and I took it.
I walked about five blocks with it, all up hill, with several people staring at the stupid gringa, carrying this wrecked piece of junk.
It was quite a work out.
But it was even more of a work out that it appears because I also had a backpack on my back filled with the Childcraft books! Not light (physically) reading!
You see, when I was at the school, I noticed a table they had out in the atrium with these books, and a bunch of other "crap", as Eric would say..... with a beautiful sign that said "FREE". Almost anything that says "free" on it is beautiful to me!
We had Childcraft books growing up, and I have very fond memories of looking at these books, so I knew I had to have them. HAD to.
Risking possible divorce (only to increase the odds by picking up the mirror thing), I shoved them in my backpack and headed home. I should also say that I took three bibles, two maps of Quito and four other books with which to experiment upon. They are all sitting lovingly on our bookshelves.
My only sadness is someone beat me to getting the other volumes, especially the "arts and crafts" one. Oh well, one can't be greedy now, can one?

My biggest dilemma, however, is how to treat my treasures. The bottom legs of the mirror thingy have to come off (in fact they already have) because they are completely destroyed. I'm pretty sure that I won't be able to find good replacements, so I am just going to mount it on the wall. But other than that, not sure what to do....
One day my heart says to treasure them as they are, keep them in their original glory and appreciate them for what they are right now, as views yesteryear (sigh, sounds so romantic!). The next day (actually, it could very easily be a minute by minute thing with how my brain operates) I want to use all the book pages for various craft projects and paint the mirror coat stand thingy a high gloss turquoise.
I love to both create with these things but also appreciate what they are.

What to do, what to do.

What will probably happen is: One day I will be full boar with my creative side and paint the beautiful wood and tear our the wonderful pages. And then two hours later, even though I may love what I made, I'll well up with tears thinking "what have I done?".

Maybe we should have a vote?
What should I do?

By the way, there should be lots more "creating" going on soon. Pretty excited about it!

a bath!

We have a bath tub!!
I had to show you our "bathtub" and the sheer thrill on the face of Lucy to be the first to enjoy it.

- Of course, in order not to be indecent, I "gave" her a bubble-gum pink bikini for the picture. A more cautious mom would have given her a one-piece, but I guess I wasn't thinking.... -

I have been taking showers with Lucy for over a year now. We have not had a bath tub, save the two and a half weeks we house sat, for almost 13 months.
Thirteen months of showering Lucy. If you know my baby, you might realize what a chore this could be.
Especially when you consider that the shower is often my refuge. I have, in past, been known to take more than one shower per day - not because I'm particularly stinky, but because that is the one place, possibly the only place, where the kids will not join me.... and where Lucy will not attach her person to mine (Or if she is already attached, she will have to release! Think salt on a leech....). So my refuge has turned into a chore. Big time.
Well, a few days ago, we got out of the shower and I told Eric that I was done. Done with the showers. No more. And part of the reason is because Lucy, even though she has been doing it so long, still does not like showers. And again, if you know Lucy, and know how she reacts to things she doesn't like.... Well. You can imagine.
So - time to be inventive.
We bought a drain cover, covered the shower drain, filled up the "tub" (it is about a foot deep - maybe slightly more) and voilĂ , a bath! A slow draining bath, but a bath none-the-less.
And look at the delight on her face.

And look at the delight on mine!

my daughter's a mom!

No, that does not make me a grandma.
Okay, so she is not really a mom, but it certainly seems like it!!
She finally got her kitty - horrah!!
Little Nolly has finally arrived. I have no idea how much she weighs, or her length, but she is teeny tiny, cute as can be, and I'm sure her "apgar" was great. And the mother couldn't be more thrilled.
Actually, being the ridiculously frugal person that I am, I'm pretty thrilled too - because Nolly was free. Now that is a price I can afford.
One would think that Nolly is Maddy's child with how she is mothering her. It is pretty darn sweet. A tad bit excessive, to put it mildly, but very sweet.
I'm a little concerned for school tomorrow. Not sure if Maddy is going to be able to focus on classes.
Fortunately (?) she has entrusted, reluctantly, the care of kitty into my almost capable hands.
Even though I have raised (and of course, am currently raising) four children, I am not quite to be trusted in the area of kitty-sitting.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

more school and my "first day"

Eric helping Cade get his hood on.
Bit of a dreary walk to school.... What the day lacked in cheer we made up for with our rain coats!
The only child I could get a picture of in class. No Cade actually isn't hiding from me - he didn't know I was there taking the picture until after the flash!

God helped me empathize with my children today.
While initially I was a little bummed that we had meetings today, He used the meetings to teach me a lot about myself and helped me to remember that really, I'm not so different from my kids.
We attended our first Youth World (our mission organization) meeting today. The first half hour or so is sort of social time eating lunch and hanging out.
That whole time, and even during the more formal meeting part, I felt a lot, I think, like my kids did.
"I'm new"
"Will I fit in?"
"Will I make friends?"
"Will people like me?"
"Everyone already has their friends. Will they accept me in?"
....and on the questions and insecurities went in my head.

Even though we have been here two months, I realized that today really was our first day in many ways. Just like the kids were worried about finally and hopefully making friends, fitting in, getting their place here, so was I.
And, like the kids, I had a good day. I had a smile on my face at the end.
But it is still just the first day.

I know that I am going to struggle with the whole thing of friendships and fitting it. I just do. It is my constant insecurity.
I know that I will struggle with part of me wanting to reach out too much and suffocate potential friends; not reaching out at all because I want them to come to me and/or I feel really shy; being afraid of "breaking in" to already established relationships - not wanting to interfere with peoples friendships, but yet wanting my own.
Already I was disappointed because I really wanted to ask one girl (okay, can we still be called girls even though we are 40?) if she would like to meet weekly to pray together, but found out that she is already doing that with someone else.
Stupid, but I felt rejected.
She didn't reject me... she just was already committed. But inwardly I was so sad as this was/is a person I already knew I wanted/hoped to get to know. Get to know well.
And I have to stop myself from thinking that I can't now, just because she has another close or intimate friend.

Anyway, I could babble on about my insecurities for a whole long time. But all of this is to say that we, or at least I, never seem to shake the "First Day Jitters".
We all want to find our place.
We all want friends whom cherish us and whom we can cherish.
We all want to belong and be loved.

And naturally, the best place to find that.... the only place to truly, completely, once and for always, find that.... is in Christ.
Christ alone.

Constantly, constantly, constantly I need to remind myself that if I wrap myself up in Him, I'll be good. No, I'll be great.
I have my place in Him.
I cherish Him and He cherishes me - more than I can even imagine.
I belong to Him and am loved - completely, totally, unequivocally, by Him.

Forget the "First Day Jitters".....
I have Christ.

Well, I gotta go to bed.
I have my second day tomorrow.

real love

What is real love?

Real love is a husband who goes to the grocery store for you even though he really doesn't like to.... but he knows that you hate it even more.

first day of school

Maddy - Up, she is in middle school - 7th grade. YIKES!
I'm the mother of a middle schooler.
That officially makes me old.
She's got the goofy expression because she is making fun of me, making her show what grade she is in..... Yes, she is almost a teenager as well. Does it show? (Does anyone know how to insert an eye-rolling icon?)
Mia - 4th grade.
Ah, fourth grade. Believe it or not, I remember it well. One of my favorite years with one of the best teachers. We had to make up a cereal, make a box for it and do a commercial. Not sure what I learned from that but it sure was fun!
Cade - 1st grade.
So it is the second time around for first grade - our choice. He is a bit of a peanut still and just didn't feel like he was ready to make the move. Hoping this will be "the best decision we ever made". I have good memories of first grade, too (growing up in Canada, it was "grade one".... I still tend to say that... I always have to check myself and say 1st, 4th... etc.). I cried because I had to do a vision test and my teacher promised to take me to "Pete's" for a milkshake. She never followed through. But.... about 25 years later she gave me a card, in the shape of a milkshake and apologized (she and her husband are good friends with my dad).
Lucy - oh, oh...
Ah, that's better!
Lucy - Kindergarten.
Oh my goodness, my baby is in school.
That is just plain crazy.

Breakdown of the day.....
First I should say that yesterday I spent prepping Lucy for the fact that she could not wear her usual wardrobe to school, which daily consists of sundresses and flip-flops. Neither are permissible at school (so I have had to so some altering of her clothing - making sleeves on dresses, turning dresses into skirts and the like). I also wanted, just for one day - good first impression type stuff - for her to wear clothes that matched. She generally has a style all her own....
So we chose clothing. I succeeded in getting her to agree to wear the above pictured outfit, with the promise of making her a little hair clip to match. I kept my word (made it out of more scraps of her left-over bedding and another scrap of fabric.... should have taken a close-up of it... it's kinda cute) and she kept hers.
HOWEVER, I neglected to remind her of her limited footwear options. That is, no flip flops. Big mistake. Ensuing drama.
Plus it was raining and darn cold today. She refused to wear tights and her new shoes that our friends hauled up here for us.
Finally I said forget the cold (actually, in my head I said something other than the word "forget"), just wear your sandals.
Problem solved.

Then my poor, sweet Mia. She ended up in tears.
I asked her what was wrong.
She said she was sad because Lucy was no longer a baby and she was starting school. And she was worried for Lucy - that she would be okay.
So sweet.... I wonder who she has been listening too?
Sounds an awful lot like mommy's tears.
Of course, as sweet as this is, I think perhaps she was slightly (or very much more than slightly) nervous too.

Cade, whom we were most concerned about was a rock-star! He loves his classroom, he loved school, he loves his teacher and he said he made lots friends already (although he can't seem to remember any of their names).

Maddy, with little admission, was slightly nervous too, but was quite fabulous. I felt horrible because I kinda ditched her with needing to get the others going to their classes. Fortunately she knows one girl here already - BLESSING - and she and her mom took Maddy under their wings, so to speak. Maddy's biggest problem right now is trying to get her locker open. Darn thing.

Well, we walked to school in the rain (I forgot to put that picture up here.... I will yet), got there, all was good.
Lucy had quite a few tears but eventually allowed us to leave.

After seven and a half long hours (two meetings and half an hour to myself) we picked up four happy children!!!
Thank you God!

Everyone did great.
Everyone was happy (extremely tired, but happy).
And now we can stroke "start school" off the list.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

a new era

Tomorrow marks the dawning of a new era in my life.


Yes, my baby girl starts kindergarten tomorrow. So after almost 13 years of parenting, I will regularly have my daytimes sans kids (sans: French for "without"..... I know, I'm supposed to be speaking Spanish, but certain French words will never cease to be part of me. How could I possibly push out all Ms. Daque and Mr. Bostock taught me?).
Do a laugh or do I cry?

Most definitely a little of each.

I remember very clearly (which is pretty remarkable in itself - that I remember anything clearly) the first day my oldest started kindergarten. It was definitely a laugh and cry moment. Mostly cry - but because she was a bit of a challenging one (kind of like my current baby girl), there was a certain amount of laughter! The most vivid memory that I have, however, it that of my friend Cindy.
Cindy's daughter was a good friend of Maddy's and Cindy was a good friend of mine. Cindy's daughter is the youngest of her four kids. That day, when it was the first day of my first child's schooling - it was the first day of her last child's schooling.
And she was EXCITED!
She cracked me up - well, she always cracked me up, but especially on that day.
Cindy was dancing around
doing a little playful "rubbing it in my face"
- freedom was hers!
And like me, she loved her baby girl a whole lot. She also loved to be with her kids.
But she certainly knew how good it was to have time to herself.
And that will be mine....
Tomorrow I will dance around.
Tomorrow I will fine some innocent parent who is dropping off their first child at school and rub it in their face!! (okay, I probably won't, but it sure would be fun if there was someone I knew and I could do that too. Cindy seemed to enjoy it so much....)
Tomorrow is my new era:


Now all that being said, tomorrow will be a lousy way to celebrate my first day of freedom.
First I have a meeting at the school right after we drop off the kids.... probably will be a good hour and a half or so. Then we have a meeting with our mission organization for 2 1/2 hours.
So my day of freedom?
Not so free.

But there's always