Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mia's birthday

Saturday was Mia's 10th birthday.
Just another crazy thing to make me have to give my head a shake....
"Could she really be 10 already?"

But yes, my cute little curly-haired girl is in fact

The only real festivities involved going out for dinner.
(birthday party to come....)
Naturally the selection was the token "American" restaurant - TGIFridays.
No one was complaining about the choice!

Now, I like to take pictures.
But I especially like to take pictures of the kids on their actual birthday.
So I brought our little snap-n-shoot along, hoping to get a nice snapshot of Mia.
Mia does not like having her picture taken - especially by me.
So, I got this...
Align Center
And this... trying to hide under the table.
And this.
And "MOM, stop!"
(that one is the most flattering!)
and this
and... oh! Almost got one...
Even Cade tried to help get her to smile.
And finally - a smile.
Little bit cheesy, but I'll take what I can get!
Then she got the serenade from the lovely singing waitresses.
She wasn't thrilled about that either.
But she did get a delicious piece of chocolate cake.
At least I heard over and over and over and over and over about how delicious it was.
(40 days is a long time, especially when there are a lot of birthdays and everyone has chocolate cake..... Sigh.)

While we were having dinner, a girl, probably close to the same age as Mia, came into the restaurant begging. She was overweight, dirty and quite pushy, but obviously in need.
Now, I don't know if she really needed money or not, but she definitely needed love, attention and help.
And Christ.
But don't we all.

The waitresses were trying to get her to leave the restaurant but were having a very hard time of it. The girl was not cooperative at all.
She came up to our table and held out her hand.
We felt quite unsure of what to do.
On the one hand, we definitely wanted to help her.
On the other, we wanted to respect the wishes of the restaurant and not encourage her to stay where she shouldn't be.
Eric told her to wait outside and when we were finished, we would help her.
They finally got her out of the restaurant, but as we were sitting right next to the window, she simply parked herself right there and stared at us eating.
Again Eric gestured to her to wait but the restaurant staff saw what she was doing and removed her further.
When we were finished our meal, she was no where in sight.

It was quite a dilemma.
Did we do the right thing?
Was it best to make her wait?
It was most certainly an awkward situation - the kids were notably uncomfortable and I certainly couldn't blame them.

Even now, a few days later, I don't know what the best thing to do would be.
And I'm sure everyone has their own ideas.
But as of right now, the best thing to do is pray for her.
To some, prayer may seem like a cop-out. But the reality is, short of God calling you directly to do something, prayer is the furthest thing from a cop-out.
Prayer is powerful.
Not because prayer itself is powerful but because of the Person to whom you are praying.

At times we can do something directly for a person.
Other times we cannot.
But God can do anything and at any time.

Sunday we also celebrated Mia's birthday, along with two others, at Casa G.
It was Mia
along with Shawn, whose family hangs out on Sundays, and Juan Miguel, whose face should be somewhat familiar by now.
I've probably been through this before, but typically birthdays at Casa G. consist of the birthday person(s) sitting in the middle of everyone, while others share what they appreciate about them.
Aside from the great things said, it thrilled my and Eric's heart to see how Mia understood everything that was said to her in Spanish. That was pretty cool.
Then everyone gathers around the birthday peoples and we pray for them.
And of course, there has to be cake time.
Mia was a little apprehensive about the lighting of the candles....
this had to be done in several stages using several methods.
(Notice there is a chocolate cake AND a lemon pound cake.... those are two of Mia's favorites, but I kind of made the second one with somewhat selfish motives.)
And we sing Cumpleaños Feliz (Happy Birthday) to the birthday peoples.
Most of the boys said that they were thankful for having a wonderful little sister like Mia.
She is pretty wonderful.

But I do have one issue with this whole birthday thing.
After cake was present time.
And you know what Mia got?
Um, isn't that supposed to be for me?
Sure, it isn't diet, but its pretty close!
It's a rare thing that I get jealous of my children's birthday gifts, but this time, I most certainly did.

And she is gloating.

Just like a ten-year-old....


My husband is finally old.
He turned 40 today.

It is nice to not be the only old one in the house.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mia's cupcakes

Tomorrow is Mia's 10th birthday.
ACK! That means I have two kids in double digits!
Didn't I just graduate from college a few years ago?

I am slowly learning to face the fact that I am now one of those "ladies" that I knew when I was in my 20s.
"She's really nice and fun, for a 40-year-old...."

Moving on.

So, of course birthdays for your children mean cupcakes for the class at school.
Mia really wanted to decorate them herself, but they just didn't get done on time, so I had to take over.
It was Thursday night, and we had the guys over, but it just had to get done.
Well, low and behold, it turned into a rather fun and entertaining event for the evening.
Some of the guys saw what I was doing and wanted to join in.
So I gave them a few piping lessons.
(I have about my "middle school graduation" in piping, but seeing as they were at a pre-school level, it all worked out.)
William with the rosette tip.
Maddy got pretty into it too.
Gotta love the look of concentration from Miguel.
Tongue sticking out and everything.
The proud decorators with their final products.
And the decorators with a little too much sugar in their systems.

And after all that time together decorating with turquoise colored icing, I still don't know what the Spanish name for turquoise is....
They kept saying it way "celeste".
Bah! That's not celeste!

Don't worry, I looked it up:

happy and sad

This makes me sad.

A sick little Lucy with fever rash all over her.

This makes me happy.
Beautiful artwork by my children
amazing words by God.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

rumpled, deflated, squashed

That is how I feel.
Kind of like these pillows.
All the fluff is out of me.

Situations have been such that this feeling has come over and over again in the last two weeks.

You see people you care about being hurt.
You find out you defended a lie and inadvertently caused more pain because of it.
You want to bring peace and unity and people interpret it wrongly; your words start to divide when that is exactly what you want to stop.
You see painful wounds in a friend but feel helpless to help them; you can't seem to communicate with them how much you care.
You feel like no matter what you try to do or not do, it ends up being worse than before.

But then you stop and pray.
You realize that God is in control.
You trust that He will comfort the wounded and somehow, someway let them know, on your behalf, how much you care about them.
You know that God works everything for good, if you love and trust in Him, and you must simply have faith in that truth.

Because God is Good.
He is in control.
He isn't capable of doing anything but what is BEST.

being single

Attention Chuck Woolery!
We need your help.

Yes, 18 are single.
I know for a family of 6 there are bound to be a lot of singles.
Whether widowed or abandoned, I don't know.
But 18 is a ludicrous number.

They are all waiting for a new "love connection" while sitting in the single sock drawer.
No, they don't have a space all their own.
They are living with my unmentionables.
Hope that is not making things worse.

Don't let anyone tell you any different....
It is tough being single.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

creating catch-up

There are a few little creative projects that I haven't put on here.....
I figure I may as well post them.

Lucy had a plain navy blue long sleeve shirt that there is no way in the world she was going to wear.
Too plain. Nothing cute about it.
She always tells me, with anything that she doesn't wear, that if I put flowers on it, she'll wear it.
So flowers it was.
little bit closer....
I made some rolled fabric flowers and stitched those on.
Then did some free-motion sewing of some stems and leaves.
It actually turned out really cute.
And now, Lucy wears that navy blue shirt....
Yup, she still doesn't wear it.
I like to think it is because it is so special to her that she doesn't want to risk wrecking it.


I get pretty sick of the question "Mom, what are we having for dinner?"
It comes with boring regularity.
It is a constant, inevitable question.
Why in the world can't they just have a surprise?

Okay, well, I guess they can't.
So I made a little menu board.
and a little bit closer.....
Painted a cheap frame to match the kitchen cupboards.
Made a blank background with the words (Spanish, of course) and the little pear pictures.
Each week I write, with white board marker, what we are going to have for dinner.
And now, the kids ask that same question....
Yup, they still ask it.
At least I can answer "go check the board".

Lucy wanted a canopy over her bed.
Okay, that's not true.
Mia actually wanted one about 5 years ago so I thought I would fulfill her dreams through the pleasure and delight of her baby sister.

Mom of the year..... that's me.

So I made a canopy thingy.
Yes, her mattress still is on the floor.
So is Eric's and mine, okay?
I took an extra panel of sheer curtains that are all over this rental house, sewed a pocket close to the top, inserted the outer part of an embroidery hoop through the pocket, stitched on some ribbon to hang it (and embellish it) and stuck it on a hook that was already in the ceiling.
And now, Mia's desires are....
not satisfied.
Yup, 'cause she doesn't desire it anymore.
But Lucy is quite thrilled.

Thanks Mia for the good idea....

And a little sneak peek of what I am working on now.
(its really not that thrilling, but I'm doing what I can to make it sound exciting)

done with diapers

It was 13 years, 2 months and 8 days with diapers (and/or "night-time protection").
Not one day without.
But as of 9 days ago we are officially

No more pampers, huggies, "pull-ups", "goodnites".

I feel like we should have a party or something.
Maybe we can with the money we'll save.
(especially here - those things are not cheap, let me tell you)

And, of course, being the sap that I am, I am doing just as much weeping (figurative only) as I am rejoicing.
I have rejoiced/weeped over having my baby start school.
I now rejoice/weep over my baby being dry 24/7.
(don't worry, she was day-time toilet trained a long time ago)
I am truly in a new era of life.

Last night, Lucy once again connived her way into our bed to sleep.
When I crawled in beside her, later that evening, I lay there, looking at my sweet angel.
(ah, how deceiving they look when they are asleep)
Naturally, as any mother with a heart (okay, okay, any mother as sappy as I am), I starting tearing up, seeing how big my baby is.

I think of all those ladies at Target who come up to you
when your baby is screaming,
or your toddler is throwing a tantrum,
or your 4-year-old is whining and begging for everything in sight,
and they say to you
"Treasure these moments.
They grow up so fast.
How I wish my kids were young again."
And you want to punch them in the nose.
But of course, they were right.

I leaned over, gently put my arm around her and pulled her close.
I wanted to snuggle with my growing-up baby.

"MOM! What are you doing?" she says, quite annoyed.
(insert sound of the record scratching, cars screeching, or whatever your fancy....
just something to imply the moment-ruining-back-to-reality situation)

So, no snuggling with my baby.
Fine, I can't sleep like that anyway.

So I just gaze at her and think that I have entered the golden years of parenting.

My kids are all old enough to be mostly independent.
They can, for the most part, get their own breakfast, snacks, etc.
They can brush their own hair.
They can go to the bathroom independently.
(uh, yah. Note that I said they "can" do all of these things.
I'm refusing to address "willingness" right now because I am being sappy and sentimental.)
They can read.
They can be reasoned with (yes, I'm pushing it with this one....)
Yet, they are not old enough to be completely annoyed with me.
They still like being around me.
They don't swear at me and only roll their eyes occasionally.
They aren't so caught up in their own lives, friends, activities that they don't have time for me.
(not that I think any of my children will ever, ever be this way..... definitely not)

I am happily stuck in the blessed years of "just enough" and "not too much" independence.
I lay there, so thankful.
Slowly I drift into grateful, peaceful slumber.

Three hours later I am rudely awakened by
"Mom, I had an accident".

Okay, so maybe I'm in the tarnished silver years instead.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

palm nut rings

Another thing we were able to do at Arashá was make rings.
First the instructor took a palm nut and cut it into pieces/slices.
The core - the actual "nut" part, popped out to leave a ring of "shell".
We simply had to sand the ring.
First the inside
and then the outside.
Lots of sanding.
Lots and lots and lots.
(as evidenced by all the sawdust on my lap)
For the outside, we started with 100 grit paper, moved to 150 and then 300.
Finally, we polished the rings with the opposite side of the sandpaper.
Starting from the back:
The palm nut whole.
A cross section.
A slice with the center out.
Maddy's finished ring.

fears realized

I just finished posting about making chocolate.
About 5 minutes prior to that, we had the loudest and closest clap of thunder and flash of lightning any of had ever experienced.
It shock us to our core and was rather frightening.

When we got back to our cabaña after making chocolate, this is what we saw.
Smoke from one of the other cabañas.
And workers climbing all over and around it.

That lightning stuck a cabaña only 50 yards away from ours.
By the time we saw it, about an hour later, the fire was out and there was just smoldering left while the workers pull out smoking sheaves of the roof.

Our darling daughter's worst fear is that of fire.
She started crying and shaking.

Eric used this as an opportunity to show her that God is in control.
That God had the lightning strike a cabaña that didn't have anyone in it.
That He chose to protect us.
That the fire was put out before anything serious happened.
Not that God may always choose to do this, but He did.
And He is in control.
And He wants the best for us.

At first, when it happened and I saw her reaction, I thought we were in for trouble.
But as with everything, we pray that God uses these things to teach us the truth of His power, love and care.


Tuesday through Thursday we went to Arashá with another family.
We had a great time - nice place, good company, fun stuff to do.

One thing we did was make chocolate!

While we didn't start with the cacao, he did slice it open to show it to us.
Unfortunately, it was rotten.
I had hoped the family with us could try it because the goop around the seeds is delicious.
Once you cut it open, it is full of the large seeds and each seed is surrounded by white flesh which is really sweet.

Our teacher told us that they dry the seed for 5 days out in the sun.
Then, they roast the seeds - which is what he did just before we arrived.
These are the seeds right after they were roasted.
We rubbed the charred skins off.
Lucy was not too interested in participating.
She was kind of like the other animals in the story of the little red hen who made bread.
Didn't want to help make, but definitely wanted to help eat!
Here are the roasted, shelled seeds.
I think they are quite beautiful.
Very shiny.
Then the kids all took turns grinding up the seeds.
Not an easy job.
Maddy didn't participate in this step, as she found a new best friend.
A pretty cute one, too.
The ground cacao seeds.
The teacher let everyone try the ground seeds, if they wanted.

Not so yummy.

He put the ground seeds in a pan with water and began to cook.
The kids all stirred.
Added sugar.
Mixed powdered milk with water.....
...and added that.
The whole mixture cooked at a low boil for about 10 minutes and then, ta-da!
Scrumpdilicious cholocate.
Everyone got to enjoy some.
I really wanted to enjoy more.
I get a little greedy when it comes to chocolate.

I especially get a little greedy with chocolate when it is the last I will taste of it for 40 days.

Yup, I am giving up chocolate for Lent.

I have never "done" Lent before, but have often thought about it.
I know many people who give up something for Lent in order to identify with the suffering of Christ, for the 40 days before His Ultimate Sacrifice.
So, for the 40 days of Lent, the 40 days before Easter, I'm doing just that.
However, I'm not pretending that it is a sacrifice.

Giving up chocolate for 40 days can, in absolutely no way, be compared to any sacrifice that Christ made on our behalf..... and I am not just talking about dying on the cross here.
Although that was more than plenty.
There was so very much more sacrificed than that.
More that we can ever even dream.

But the giving up of chocolate is about discipline and is a type of fast, I suppose.
Every time I desire chocolate, see chocolate or think of chocolate, I want to use that as a reminder to think of Christ.
Who He is.
What He did.

To pray.
To thank Him.
To ask Him to make me more like Him.

And to not just think about my desires and wants first.
So ya, I'm giving it up, but really
it is not a sacrifice.

I am also giving up blogs.

Lately I've spent more than my fair share of time reading decorating and crafting blogs.
I definitely enjoy them.
But they can be a big time waster for me.
So, for 40 days - no blogs (other than this one, of course!).
My desire is to use that time that I usually spend on blogs and spend it with Him instead.

Why am I telling you this?
I am not doing it to suggest that you do the same -
unless you think that God is calling you to that.
I'm not trying to make myself look like some big spiritual giant -
although I would love for some growth in that area to be the result!
(and any time with me or with my blog would tell you that spiritual giant I am not!)

I need accountability.
That's why.
No, you don't need to call or email to check up on me (although you can if you want).
But I might write about it on occasion.
And knowing that you know helps me stick to it.

And I pray that God would bless our 40 leading up to celebrating His Salvation.

His love and sacrifice is more than we can imagine.