Thursday, June 30, 2011

Canadian cousins!

Everyone has been so happy to be with the cousins.
Good times are being had by all.....  Especially when Auntie Glenda (my brother's wife) spoils them all (girls, that is) by taking them for pedicures the first day!
It's a difficult decision choosing colors....
 Colors chosen (glad no one went for the color of the walls in this place!).

 And time for the beautification process to begin.
Lucy looks comfy and right at home (or not).
The older girls do seem to be rather comfortable with their environment.   Perhaps they were born for this life. 

 And they are all done.
 Later Auntie Jann (my sister) and her husband Chris took us all out for ice cream.
 No, we didn't have two each - she was holding Chris'!
 Alex and Maddy looking rather cool.
And enjoying being exceptional goofy together.
 My mama and Mia.
(yes, you have permission to burst into song - I do.)
Brooklyn and Mia look like twins from a ways away with their long curly blonde hair.

 The next day (Sunday) we got to have a wiener roast at my cousin and uncle's land.  It is the kids' favorite place to go when we are here. More pictures to come from this great place.
Mia, Brooklyn and Timaya reunited.
 Eric, my brother and Lauren.
 Sister Kim in the background, John (brother-in-law), Glenda, mommy, Chris.
 Jann and my Auntie Irm (my mom's sister).  I am SO thankful that my aunt is here right now.  They actually live in Texas and it is a huge blessing that she is here at the same time as we are.  I love my Auntie Irm!!!
 And the three boy cousins are also reunited:  Jesse, Cole and Cade.

One of the best ways to spend an afternoon - with the exclusion of Manitoba's provincial "bird" - the mosquito.  They are in great abundance this year.  They really seem to like the fresh blood of the visiting family - namely the Ackermanns.
The Ackermanns really are not liking the mosquitos.

Good thing the Ackermanns love their family!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Cali to Man - day four We're here!!

neglected to mention that Eric has a mistress.
Her name is Harriet.  She is much like Harriet Olsen from Little House on the Prairie.
Annoying, thinks she’s always right and she somehow has captured the heart of my husband.
I am a GPS widow.
At least I got to name her.
(I didn’t exactly get to - I just did.)
He bought one at Costco before we left.  I’m not sure exactly why as we have done this trip many a time.  Apparently it is extremely useful in Ecuador, so says a friend.
I wanted to get one of those little thingies that you can plug into your lap top and have internet wherever you are.  Then I could be blogging live!  Just think!
But no, we don’t have the money for that - but we do have the money for the new lady in his life.  Bitter.
Actually both are a bit of a waste (not completely, by any means), as far as I am concerned unless you are loaded with cash.  We are not loaded with cash.
About two hours into our trip, we made a new declaration:
Today was “Have Two Handfuls of M&Ms Before Lunch Day”.
Since Eric and I were sneaking M&Ms while driving (at 11:30 a.m.) and got caught, we let the kids have some too.  After Lucy devoured her two handfuls, she asked what time it was and then asked why they got treats before lunch - something that pretty much never, ever happens at our house.
I told her, looking at her like she was a little ignorant, “Well, because it is June 24th, sweetheart.” oh so matter-of-factly, “June 24th is M&Ms Before Lunch Day.”
She promptly asked if she then could have more.  So I rephrased:
“Actually, it is “Have Two Handfuls of M&Ms Before Lunch Day”.
So there you have it - an Ackermann family holiday.
Sure hope I remember for next year..... 

We have seen a lot of water in North Dakota.  There are a few areas like this where they have dammed up the water off the freeway.  You can tell that several farms have not been able to be planted yet because of the water.
We saw these guys and I love how it represents where I am from.
And we saw another crop duster.  Remember my thing for them?  Loved watching that.

We got stopped at the Canadian boarder - car inspection and everything.  Maybe they don’t like missionaries from Ecuador.  Or maybe they thought we were smuggling baking soda into the country.  Oh, I guess that would be the other way around.....  The lady officer reminded me that I really should get the kids’ Canadian citizenship stuff taken care of.  She’s right.  I’ve actually made two attempts at doing just that and I never quite get it finished.  
I suggested that she email me once a week to get on me about it.
She just laughed.
I was serious.
As I write this, we are only about 20 minutes from my home.  Pretty darn excited.  Part of the reason I am so excited is that Eric is doing a kilometer count-down along with Harriet (although currently she is not as vocal as he is). He was counting down each tenth of a kilo. to our next highway turn.  Cade asked why he was so excited about turning.  My question exactly.  He’s getting a little weird.   It will be nice when he stops doing that.....arrival might be my only hope.  
Can I just tell you how very much I love where I am from?
I do.  Even though I really haven’t lived here since I was 17 (except for one year), my heart is here.  Something changes in me when I see the endless fields and know I am almost in Steinbach “The Automobile City” (every po-dunk town needs a claim to fame).
(We are about 7 minutes away and the smell of pig manure is scenting the air.
That part I don’t miss so much.)
Now, as I am finishing this up, we are here!
It is so good to be with my family.  In spite of how I mock them and harass them (it is my job as the "baby of the family" isn't it?), I sure do love them a lot.

And the final license plate tally.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

C to the M - day three

Eric declared today Good Attitude Day.
It was needed.
The kids have done remarkably well, but today they are starting to have a few issues.  It’s still not too bad, but obviously the traveling is starting to take it’s toll.
Eric and I had a great time in spite of it all, however.  We found a great radio station playing “Hot Child in the City”, “Big Shot” by Billy Joel, “Dude looks like a Lady” by Aerosmith (I think Steven Tyler was singing about himself....), “One Way or Another” by Blondie, and all kinds of dandies like that.
Eric was a little mean to me, though.  He made me drive for a full half hour today.  What’s up with that?  How am I supposed to fulfill my own agenda if I have to do his job?
And to top it all off, I missed taking a picture of a bearded house because I was driving (I won’t mention to him that I probably wouldn’t have been able to pull out my camera, turn it on, take out the battery, put it back in, removed the lens cap, focus and shoot all in the seconds it took to drive by it.)  But I really do wish I had a picture of it.  It was hilarious.  I think should draw it for you, but it is late.
It was a two story house.  The bottom floor came out further than the top and it was completely covered in thick, dark vines.  You could hardly see the door.... kind of like a man who has a really thick beard and you can hardly see his mouth.  Then they also had the vines continue up the sides of the house in two thin strips, looking like sideburns.  
Describing it?  Not funny.  Seeing it?  Very funny.

There is so much to see as you drive.  It absolutely amazes me.
The beauty of the world, that it.
When we drive in Ecuador, I am overwhelmed by how beautiful it is there.  And now, driving across the states, I am reminded about the beauty here.  It is incredible - the variety of landscapes and how wonderful each is.
Even Nevada....

We were driving through the eastern part of Montana when Maddy commented about how flat it was.  

“Honey,” I said, “You ain’t seen flat yet.”  Actually, she has but I guess she just doesn’t remember.  Manitoba is a whole lot flatter... this land has ripples and hills on the horizon.   
To me, the flat prairies are as inspiring as the mountains.... the crops with their varying textures and shades of green.  I love it.  And the huge sky - seeing horizon to horizon.
All this beauty reminds me that this earth, however, is nothing more than a shadow.  Even the most gorgeous, stunning sunset is only dull compared to what heaven will be like.  Isn’t it crazy to think that even with how incredibly amazing it all is, it is nothing compared to heaven.
I know some people think this is ridiculous.  How can it be so much better?  
We just don’t have any frame of reference for anything more amazing.  I suppose it is kind of like talking to someone born blind and trying to describe their child’s face to them.  They have no frame of reference.  It, or nothing like it, has ever been an image in their brain, so they can’t possibly manufacture a picture in their head.  But if that same person had some incredibly surgery that would give them sight?  Can you imagine how much in awe they would be of their sweet baby’s face?  They would never want to stop drinking it in, marveling at how amazing she is.
I think that is how heaven will be.  And we will be overwhelmed so greatly we will be dumbfounded as to how we could have thought this world was so incredible.
I can’t wait.

I also can't wait because you won't have to pay a small fortune to see the beauty in heaven.
And I am sure there won't be any mosquitos.

If you look at the far left of the side view mirror, near the top, there is a squashed mosquito on the inside of the window.  I killed him and left him there as a warning to any other mosquito that might think he is smart and try to bite me.

We lunched at Subway again and Lucy again commented on the cleanliness of the bathroom.  
I quote: "It's so sparkly in here!"

It took a while for the kids to get into the good attitude day, but once they did, they were great.
As per normal, Lucy took it to a whole new level.
Since she could talk, she could sing and make up all kinds of crazy songs with crazier lyrics.
Her singing to her new elephant lasted a good 15 - 20 minutes.  (I accidently didn't pack "Sparkle" the dog, so she was stuffy-less.  Falling asleep wasn't going so well, so I dodged into Walmart once again and picked up "Gordo").  Maddy, Eric and I had some good laughs and her and her song.
Cade and Mia have an uncanny knack of tuning her out when they want to.

Cade found all of the objects in the treasure jar.
Actually, he even found one extra....  I put a button in there but forgot to put it on the list.  Oops.

Since the kids heartily adopted the good attitude day, they were rewarded with ring pops.

Looks like Cade and Maddy have reverted to their soother (binky, pacifier....) days.
We are currently snuggled up in La Quinta hotel in Bismarck, ND.  I'm sure Eric choose it because it would give us a little taste of home.  You know, Spanish - "La Quinta".
Since I am so not fluent I had to look up what quinta is.  Turns out you not only would have to be fluent but also so a botanist to know that word.  
It's definition?  "A dyewood (yielding black) of the Napo region in South America".  
So it really should make us feel at home - the Napo is in Ecuador, in fact!   

La Quinta does not disappoint.
We knew there was a pool but the pool area had a mini slide and some fountain features and a basketball hoop.  The kids were quite delighted - as was I.

They all were quick to figure out that if you sat on the fountain a certain way it looks like....
Maddy also discovered her inner mermaid with the fountain.
Lucy was the first one down the slide.  I don't think she, or any of us, realized how fast it was.
She flew through the air with the greatest of ease.
Once they got used to the speed at which they descended, they figured out how they could come near to killing each other like Maddy and Mia here:
Cade Launcher!  Oh ya!

Cade and daddy shot some hoops.
And I managed to pry them all away from their play for a brief (excessively brief) photo shoot.
Those are some seriously cute kids.

And of course, the license plates for today:
One more day to go.