Tuesday, August 30, 2011

a little beautification

Today was a really good day.
Really good.  I liked it.

It all started with a walk with a friend and a chance to catch up after both being away for the summer.  
It really is a great way to start a day.
Then I had a shower.
Yes, that too is always a positive piece to put in a day.
But the real kicker was what happened after the shower.
 Not an appealing picture, I realize.
Let's zoom out a little.
 You know where I'm headed?

The whole while in North America I knew it was time for a trim but I didn't want to spend the average $40 when I knew I could get a great cut here for less than $20.
Now that I'm here, I sigh and roll my eyes thinking about making an appointment, finding a way to the salon and getting it done.  Too much work.
So I took matters into my own scissors.
A little over an inch off in length, cut more layers (about 3 and a half inches off for the shortest layers) and cut bangs.
Scary, I know.
Probably not the most brainy move I've ever made, but remember, I said it was a good day.

Now, when I was in high school I would consistently start tearing up every single time I got my hair cut.  Yes, I would cry.  The hairdresser could have just given me a half inch trim, but I would always be devastated.  I knew I looked just horrible, my hair would never been the same and people would definitely laugh at me.  
My life, as I knew it, was over.
After a day or two of moping in the mirror, I would eventually get over myself until the next trim.

It's good to see I have grown up a little in some areas.
Now I just thought, well, if I mess it up, it'll be the same as it was in a few months - no big deal.... and I have several hats to choose from.  Plus I've already snagged the man of my dreams so I don't have to impress anyone.....  High school is a little different than that.

So anyway, here is the big reveal:
I am actually quite happy with it. 
When I went through they day and got no positive feedback, and then when the kids got home from school and Lucy looked at me and screamed "What did you do to your hair?", and Mia said sort of snidely "Why did you cut bangs?".... well, I got a little paranoid (Cade, surprisingly, had little to say).  Perhaps it really was a big mistake. 
But my darling husband reassured me that I looked as beautiful as I did on the day we married, so now I'm fine again.  
(Okay, he didn't really say that, but he did say he liked it - smart man.)

In the afternoon, I went to the nursery with two friends.
Pardon me, I went to about 8 nurseries with two friends.  As with pretty much anything that you want to buy in this country, you have to go to a certain town/vicinity to get a certain product.  We went to the nursery district.
I repeatedly lamented over not bringing my camera, as the whole event was rather fun and definitely blog-worthy.  Initially Marlo and Renae were probably glad that I had left it behind - it would have slowed us down and they may have gotten irritated with having their own personal paparazzi following them around.  After my constant moaning about it, however, they probably wished I had it just so I would shut my pie holder (as opposed to cake hole..... it's a college thing)
But don't you worry your pretty little heads, 'cause 1) next time I won't be so forgetful and 2) I took some pictures of what I bought!!!  I know you are super excited!!!

 Pretty, right?
I picked orangey/corals and yellows (they look more pink in the pictures) because I am starting to feel that urge for all things autumn.  Those colors go a little more that direction but will still be bright and pretty when the urge for spring hits (I have to go with the urges since we don't really get those wonderful, distinct seasons - really really miss that).
But the piéce de résistance?
 While not enticing photography, it is a lemon tree (with a cherry tomato and basil plant beside)!
Pretty excited about the smell of the blossoms and the yumminess of the produce!

 Finally, while I was making a tasty dinner of chicken and bacon pockets with a side of spinach strawberry salad (requested by Maddy, who ended up at a friend's for dinner), my children went outside to play!  That delighted my heart.
They don't do that very often, much to my chagrin.  
This summer was great as they were outside a lot with their cousins (evidenced by their very blonde hair and tanned skin) but normally they don't go out much on their own.  I long for them to get out, without me pushing them, and enjoy some fresh air.
They did it and had a great time.

It was a great way to start the close of a great day.  I'd like more of those.

Monday, August 29, 2011

out of thin air

Last night, when I couldn't fall asleep and I didn't want to drug myself with Nyquil, I thought of a name for a new blog I've been debating on starting:
"Out of thin air"
Sort of a play on my current blog title and relates to the concept of the blog - just all the creative stuff.  How a lot of what I do, and what I like to do most, is create something out of "nothing".  Of course, I have imported a great deal of materials from the good ol' US of A, but I still can't just head out to Michael's, Joann's or a thrift store for wonderful items to do exactly what I want.

I've been debating it for a long time.  I haven't gone ahead with it because I don't think my motivation is right.  Why would I do it?  Does it benefit anyone besides feeding my swollen enough head?
I've had moments of good intent, but they are a little too fleeting.
If I feel that it can serve a purpose in glorifying Christ (and more so - believe that is what I am called to do), I'm ready.   So far, as with most creative blogs, it seems to do much more in just glorifying the author (I am absolutely not saying that is what all of their personal purposes and goals are).  I don't need any more self-glorification!

I already struggle with posting what I do post at times.  So lets be clear:
Look at the little write-up thingy under the title of this blog.
While more often than not, I am ashamed to say, I do creative things just because I like it, I really want it to bring glory to God.  Thankfully, even when my motivation isn't pure, He still can turn it around and make it right.  As God made me a creative person in His image, I honestly do feel that God glorifies Himself as I use the creative abilities I have - and I have them ONLY because He gave them to me.  I breath more deeply of Him when I am exercising the gifts/abilities He has given me.
It's kind of like "Chariots of Fire" (que the music in your head) - Eric Liddell says "I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast.  And when I run I feel His pleasure."  
God made me, all of us, for a purpose.  He made me creative.  I can glorify Him that way.  And when I make things, when I create, I feel His pleasure.

So this is a confession and a declaration:  
I'm human and prideful.  
God is the giver of all good things and uses them to show snippets of who He is to all of us.

So now, the first creative endeavor of the new (school) year:
The first week we were back in California, Bath and Body works was having their big clearance sale.  Always looking for gifts (especially while at home - much more selection, much, much less money) I took advantage.  I bought a few bottles of hand soap, not sure what I would do with them.
We managed to get them here with only about 1/3 of a bottle full spilling all over the contents of the suitcase.  Did I mention I double bagged them?  Regardless of precautions, there was sticky pink soap over a number of items. 
Anywho, yesterday I thought that perhaps I could use the other bottles as gifts for the kids' teachers.  You know, to butter them up, get on their good sides, do a little brown-nosing and make the year a breeze for our children. 
 I jest.
So I made little labels on the computer that said "Hope we have a "soap-er" year.  "Pump-ed" to have you as my teacher."  I made the mistake of asking Maddy if it was too cheesy - which I already knew the answer too.  I knew I was going to do it anyway, so I'm not sure why I asked.  It wasn't in the plans anyway to give one to all her teachers, which was good, because she never would have done it.  But seriously, who doesn't like a little cheese every now and then?
I mod-podged (one of my imports.... regular white glue does not work as well, trust me) the labels over the originals, made tags for the kids to sign, and tied them on with lovely little pieces of twine I ordered when back in America Norte.
Very fast, very simple but hopefully just a little something to show the teachers that they are most definitely appreciated (and to subtly tell them that they better give my kids A+ or they've got another thing coming, and it ain't bubble bath!   Again, I jest....).

It felt good to create again.

she's better, she's off

Off she goes for her first day of school - two days too late.
Better late than never?

Of course, Eric and I are now both suffering from the germs she so unkindly passed on to us.  We're not too bad off though.  I'm hoping that the cold symptoms that the other three complained of before we left for Quito are the extent of what they will experience.  We're not fond of starting off a new term this way!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

hellos and goodbyes... or should I say goodbyes and hellos

I forgot to say goodbye.

A forgotten embrace.
A neglected and heartfelt "thank you for all you did for us this summer".

I realized it within minutes of arriving home in Quito.
I never said goodbye to the dishwasher... and oh, how I miss that dishwasher.

We arrived in Ecuador.
I took off my engagement ring (not at all safe to wear around here) and put it safely away, put on my rubber gloves and felt like I haven't taken them off for the last three days.
I know....."Waaaaa, waaaaa, keep your whining to yourself."

So we're back.
Saying hello again to 
... slow internet.
... washing/soaking produce.
 ... hard breathing.
... over-inflated packaging.
(featuring some of my precious imports)
... noisy days and nights.
... throwing toilet paper in the garbage instead of flushing it.
(no photo to illustrate for reasons I hope are obvious)

And while I am making it out to be all negative, it actually has been rather delightful.  
It was a fabulous summer.  Simply marvelous in fact (and I have a whole bunch of blogging to do about it, well, if I get to it, that is).
But there really is, just as Dorothy put it, no place like home.  It is good to be back.
Even Cade, yes Cade, our very own son said on the night we arrived that it was good to be home.
(This is the guy that insisted that this house would never be home.  He also fixed his slip-of-the-tongue last week, when he said that he wanted to go home, but quickly saying that it was because he wanted to see Nolly, the cat.  I'm pretty sure he hasn't spent more than 4 seconds with Nolly in the past three days.)

Poor kids, we got home at 9:00 p.m. after waking up at 2:30 in the morning and they had to start school at 8:00 the next morning (Thursday).  They handled it amazingly well.  They are quite the troopers. 

With everything going on, I almost forgot to take the first-day-of-school pictures.  And there was no first-day-of-school finery and celebration.
Anyway, the pictures were pretty rushed... we were running late.... but at least they got done.

Mia in her photo-shoot outfit.
 Not sure what is going on with Lucy's pose here....
 Cade was a little chilly, but insisted on wearing shorts.
 And something/someone is missing, you say?
Yes, Maddy has yet to have her first day of school.
She's been running a fever, sore throat (strep?), sore ears (ear infection?) and as of tonight, goopy eyes (pink eye?).  
Being that we are in Ecuador, we've just skipped the whole going to the doctor thing and gone straight to the pharmacy to get some antibiotics.  Now, we could have just gone and got something but fortunately Eric had the sense to check up a typical dosage on the internet.  And then, even more fortunately, the Tachney's (or doctor friends) flew in tonight and were able to take a look at her and give a better dosage.
The thing about the Tachney's?
Whenever we see them (not nearly often enough) one of us is sick.  Not sure what that means.  But I do know that we are glad that they always help us out.  Its awfully nice to have smart, professional, medical types as our friends.
So ya, back to Maddy.... hopefully she'll start on Monday.
Nothing like starting off the new year strong.

While the kids were off to school, I set about to unpack this:
Yes, we hauled all of that through the airport and customs in Quito... which fortunately was not a big deal either.  Seriously, everything went so well.  With a load like this

there could have been a lot to go wrong.  But it didn't - thank the Lord!

So while the kids did school, Eric did some house fixing stuff, I unpacked and did laundry.
Laundry, you question?  Why would I have laundry?  Please, let me tell you.
I had to wash all of my clothes that I left here for the summer.  Well, I washed all of the ones I didn't throw away, that is.
You see, before we left, I moved all of my clothes into one chest of drawers in my closet so that the guys staying at our place could use the other set.  I'd been having issues with those drawers before we left - very musty and retaining moisture.  I aired out everything before we left and figured it should be okay as summer is not rainy season, and really it is quite dry up here.
Problem is that they walls aren't dry.  Apparently it is something about how they build here - moisture gets trapped in the cinderblock walls and eventually comes out (I mentioned it before over here).  For some strange reason, that is happening a lot on my side of the closet.  It is a little excessive, so we are wondering if there is some pipe issues or something in there.
Well, all this to say that regardless of my airing and prepping, there was a whole lot of moisture in the closet and so a whole lot of mold started growing on my clothes.
Yup, about 75-80% of my clothes are moldy.
I had to throw a few things away - just way too much greenish fuzzy stuff to deal with.  
The rest?
Washed - laundry detergent, vinegar and the oxyclean I thankful brought back here.  
Dried - lots of bounce sheets and then several hours on the roof in the intense sun.... as in the picture.
Brought back in - started to fold and discovered that they still really were stinky and the stains didn't come out.
So now I am on round three of washing.  Yes, I have washed, dried and aired them out once, washed and dried again and then, uh-huh, a third time.
Good times.
I might just be minus a whole lot of clothes - the vast majority of my wardrobe. 

Fortunately I did buy a few things this summer, but not nearly enough if I end up having to throw this stuff out.  Oh well, it will all work out, as long as there are no consequences for being a wardrobe repeater over and over and over.

It's a good lesson for me in putting my "money where my mouth is".  The summer was yet again a struggle with and against materialism (possibly more ramblings on that later).... wanting it all and yet wanting to not want it.  So now, even after days and days of shopping, I will be reduced to much less and a stark reminder that it is, after all, just stuff.

One thing I do need that I just can't seem to buy?
So I am off to bed, even though there is just so much more to write about.
Sleep.... time to say hello.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Another title stolen and another blog averted.
Just go here and see them in all their glory.

cupcakes and giggles

That title is stolen from the photographer of this picture.
I would post a whole bunch about this photo shoot, but since Rachel said it best on her blog, I'll just let you go and check it out yourself!  Plus, then I don't have to go to all the work of posting all the pictures!
Yes, I've become rather lazy on my "summer vacation".
Look here.

rhinestone cowboy, Hume way

The last week in July (to beginning of August) we spent at Hume Lake Christian camp.  Maddy and Mia both went to camp while the remaining four of us rented a room and hung out with other family and friends were there.
Good times.
No sarcasm (its a rarity, I know).

Before hand, Rachel and I prepared the girls for the rhinestone cowboy type theme.  Rach bought some hats from the dollar store and put her lollipop skills (the business I used to be a part of) to good use by putting some rhinestones on them.
Then I went on to stitch some plastic silver stars on them.
Rachel also blinged out some initials on their bandanas.  Definitely the cutest rootin' tootin' very rhinestoned cowgirls at camp.
They close the younger kids' camp ("Wagon Train") so parents can't go and visit which is probably a good thing.  I missed that girl so darn much I would have hung on her the whole time.
But it was okay.  We had our own fun.
Uncle Chris took the kids surfing most days.

Our kids didn't like the surfing too much, which made me quite sad, but the others did.
Fishing was a daily activity.
Maybe I should say "casting" instead.....
Just generally hanging out by the water happened everyday - often at the pool as well.
One day they got really into an "Eye/I Spy" book.
We were kind of chuckling on how they wouldn't ever be that into it if it was a rainy day and we were trying to keep them from getting cabin fever.
One of the most fun things was watching Lucy and Hailey's friendship blossom.
They were pretty cute together.
Or at least they were cute together when they were getting along.
There are times when two strong personalities don't mix.  No, I don't have photographic evidence of this.... just trust me on that one.
We got to see Maddy and her friends occasionally.  They had a great time too.
One of the more challenging times I had was having a front row seat to watching some punk guy flirt with my daughter.
It took most everything in me not to jump in the water and yell "don't talk to my daughter - don't even look at her you good for nothing teenaged boy!!!!"
I tried very hard to just enjoy the fact that she has much more self confidence and comfort in her own skin than I did at her age.  It is a blessing.
Cade loved sitting on daddy's lap and driving the steep, curvy road up to Uncle Chris and Auntie Val's cabin.
But the real draw to Hume, besides the great people, incredible views and fun activities, are the milkshakes.
Cade usually just went for ice cream but their milkshakes are perfection.
It was a great, relaxing week.
And I threw in this pictures, just 'cause Lucy is cute.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

me, the guest speaker

My my, I am a slacker amn't I?
I know, amn't ain't a word.....

I have been having a difficult time getting it all done - blogging included.  Especially wanting to have a wee bit of time to hanging out in the evenings.

Anyway, back almost 2 weeks ago I was a guest speaker at a Ladies Tea.
Let me just say that again:  I was the guest speaker.
Never thought I'd see the day.

But seriously folks, this small church in a town 45 minutes away contacted me a little while ago as their missionary speaker was called quickly away to return to their mission field.  They found me through our organization, International Teams.
 It was a great opportunity to share what is going on with missions in Ecuador and more specifically, what is going on in our ministry with Casa Gabriel.
Initially I wanted to make a video but then remembered that we had one made for us, so I went to go that route.  Unfortunately, for various reasons, we were unable to use any computer media that I had planned (and not planned well, mind you).  So it was just me and mic.
It seemed to me, while preparing for this event and realizing that I probably wouldn't have anything to show.... and then showing up and finding out for sure that I didn't have anything to show, that God was taking this opportunity to teach me about depending on Him a little bit more.
It would have been much more "grabbing", in my opinion, to have something visual.  In the end, however, I had to just rely on God and His work to hopefully speak through me and engage the people through my mere words.
 All in all, the event went well.
Yes, I was nervous.
Yes, it was just me talking away.
But all in all, I just pray that one or two might become interested in oversees missions and one or two or twenty would desire to pray for us and God's activity out there.

It was quite amazing really, this little church.
There were about 35+ women there on this Saturday afternoon in summer.  35 women out of a church of about 75-80 people!!  Now that is an impressive percentage.
Maddy came with me for moral support.
After a lady spoke about teas around the world, it was my turn.  And after me was the actual tea - or lunch.  Maddy and I sat with another mother and her 13-year-old daughter which was great.

I'm pretty sure that I won't ever become a "real" guest speaker - although stranger things have happened. In the meantime, however, this was a great experience with a great group of Christ-loving women.