Saturday, September 24, 2011

welcome fall

Technically, fall is here.
As Cade reminded me while I was making this, there is no fall here.  I told him that is why I made this sign - to invite it.  He didn't believe me.
 Well, since fall is my favorite season and I don't get to enjoy it here, I thought I'd do what I can to manufacture as much fall as I can.  Don't worry, I won't go so far as to paint leaves and/or pull them off the trees.
Even though I love fall, I'm not crazy about fall decor.  I like the pumpkins and stuff, but it isn't my favorite.  And even most of things I've thought of making to bring more fall here I haven't been terribly thrilled about.  I'm not sure what it is, but it just isn't my thing.
 Well, I made this anyway.  It's sort of cute although it is a little busy or fancy or something for my taste. One too many ruffles or something.
The good thing is that it cost virtually nothing.  The frame is more cardboard, the fabric is all scraps except for the orange, which was a 99 cent per yard purchase at Ikea this summer. 
(Have I ever told you how much I love Ikea?  I do, I love it.  I'm anticipating Ikea coming to Quito the same year as Trader Joes.  By the way, why is it that they have Ikea in the Middle East of all places but don't have any in South America.  It's just not right.)
Moving on, the "welcome" was stamped with stuff I have and the "fall" was embroidered with floss scraps.  That was the goal (and is the goal for many up and coming projects) - use what I have instead of moaning about the fact that I don't have access to Michaels and JoAnns (also coming to Quito in 2051).
It ain't the cutest thing I ever made, but it still makes me happy.
So fall, you are very very welcome to come to our house.
I miss you.

I linked up to Southern Hospitality.

Friday, September 23, 2011


sick.....again.  A cold and throat that doesn't want to cooperate.
I want hummus and pita chips.
When will Quito get a Trader Joes?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

a new face for you

Is this a new face for you?
 Thankfully for me, it is quite familiar.
Let me introduce to you Alaina.  Alaina and her husband Loren worked with Youth World (same mission as us) in the Chaplains' office at the school the kids go to - Alliance Academy.  This year Loren is working as the youth pastor (essentially) at English Fellowship church here in Quito.  They have a passion for reaching third culture kids - missionary kids, embassy kids, etc.  And they are perfect for it - they both grew up in Latin America themselves.
Last spring, before we left on furlough, I asked Alaina if I could take some pregnancy photos of her in the fall.  I wanted to experiment, hone some skills and try out my new camera, purchased for FotografĂ­a Pescador.  Well, I don't have the new camera yet, but I still got to play around with photos and have a great time with a great friend for an hour.
 We had made several attempts to do this here little photo shoot, but between my headaches and bright sun-shiny days, we kept postponing.
It was another bright sun-shiny day when we took them but Alaina wisely figured that we better take them or she might not be pregnant much longer!  So we dealt with what we had.
The background for these three shots was tarping set up to block off a construction site.  I saw it and loved the glow that it gave off with the sun shining on it.  So we took advantage of the positive parts of the sunny day and took a few photos there.
 It was kind of limiting as there were a lot of piles of dirt around, also in the background (we were on a slop) and there were a lot of nasty wood pieces holding the whole thing together, but we managed to get a few with a nice blue glow behind her.

Then we found a nice shady spot.
 Alaina was so great - the perfect model.  Tried whatever I suggested, even in her uncomfortable 9-month state.  And if I said "look mischievous" - she could (like in the second picture from the top).  She should be on the cover of some maternity magazine.
 I asked Alaina what type of photos she wanted - more on the soft, tender usually black and white type or something more playful and fun.  She said playful.
I asked her to bring a few props - a coffee mug, as I knew she loved coffee (and they were helping her to get through the pregnancy!), a book or two that she had been reading about pregnancy and childbirth, and then I made a little prop myself (seen in the picture following this one).  She seemed pretty excited about the whole idea.
 She not only had the things that I requested, but also had about 10 extra books (all given to her!) and chalkboard markers to write on the mug!  Nicely done!
 Needless to say, we had a great time setting up and taking some fun pictures using these things!
(The sign?  It turned out cute, I thought, but our printer was running out of black ink.  Grey letters are not nearly as nice as black!  Oh well.)

Obviously, however, Alaina doesn't need props to make a great picture.  
 She is such a beautiful person - and no, not just on the outside.
 Already I know that this little boy is one blessed child.... how could he not be with a momma like her?
 And Loren?  He's pretty great too.  Definitely great father material there.
 He stopped by just as we were finishing up, so we thought it might be nice to include him just a little.
He also had the brilliant idea for the next shot.
 I love it.
(although I wasn't quite as brilliant as him - I forgot to change my aperture settings for these shots, so they aren't quite what I wanted... oh well)

Needless to say, it was a very fun morning.
Thanks Alaina!

little old ladies


This is something God keeps hammering in me over and over and over.
It is something I have prayed for over and over and over.

For years I've asked the Lord to grow me into one of these women who is constantly praying.  
I want to be one of those little old women (not that I've prayed for the little and old parts....) in the church who is in their house praying like crazy for everything and everyone.  

A prayer warrior.
Lots of work - no glory.  
Not something I normally seek, but something I want to seek.

Over the many years, I have known that prayer is an absolute cornerstone of my faith and growth in Christ.  People say prayer is powerful.  I'm not a big fan of that.  Prayer isn't - God is.  But He chooses to release His power based on our faith and dedication as seen in our prayers.  Our prayers are just words, but when they are coupled with the Holy Spirit's direction and God's will - amazing things happen.
It is overwhelming to think that the All Powerful God allows us to come directly to Him, talk to Him with boldness and make requests.  We are not even worth coming directly to Him to praise Him but yet He not only allows it - He relishes it.
If an ant started singing my praises, I wouldn't think much of it, yet the vastness between an ant and myself is nothing compared to the vastness between me and God.
And He loves it, desires it - my talking to Him.

So why is it such a struggle?

Again, God is at me about prayer.  And I am so thankful.  From the new ever-present reminder painted 
 on the wall,

to a new reminder chalked up on the board,
 conversations with my mom and with my wonderful walking-and-praying-Tuesday-mornings-partner, Katie, books He has drawn me to read (such as "When Mothers Pray" - which makes me chuckle since I know that my mother prays for me soooo much and this whole thing I'm sure is an answer to her prayers for me!  Thanks mom!) I am overwhelmed with God's persistence to get me to pray.  
Throughout doing regular-day stuff.
During set-aside for prayer times.

It makes me thankful, in a weird and twistedish sort of way, for the yuckiness that we are going through in ministry (sorry, can't go into it....just pray for us and the situation, please)  and the frustration and pain I am having personal with the return of my migraines and headaches.
With having little that I am able to do - even though my list is very, very long - I am left with laying on the couch.  I can do light reading and light work on the computer, but I can do heavy praying.

So I am, as of today, thankful for my pain and frustration 
(not that I am particularly fond of being in pain but I am thankful that in it God is teaching me and drawing me to Himself).  Instead of moping around feeling sorry for myself (which I was starting to do, and I know I will keep struggling with as long as this persists), I am choosing to allow God to build in me during this time the answer to my own prayers.

If I look significantly more wrinkled and short the next time you see me, now you'll know why.

"The prayer of the feeblest saint on earth
who lives in the spirit and keeps right with God
is a terror to Satan.
The very powers of darkness are paralyzed by prayer...
No wonder Satan tries to keep our minds fussy in active work
till we cannot think in prayer."
- Oswald Chambers -

Thursday, September 15, 2011

we got to pray just to make it today

Thank you MC Hammer (Oh yes, it is Hammer time).
Never thought I'd take life lessons from an MC Hammer song, but I gotta give it to him.
I really do have to pray every day in order to make it.
And so I wanted a reminder in sort of a fun graphic way.

I started by painting a thick white stripe up in the aquarium and then began painting the word "pray" in sort of a stencil style.
 Once I got it started, I realized that the lettering wasn't quite as bold as it needed to be - I wanted to chunk it up a bit.  Then I thought that I might like it better blue with white letters, so I basically started over.  Good thing it wasn't a labor-intensive project!
 I like it - but am not crazy about it.  I still like the stenciled letter look better and haven't made up my mind whether blue on white or white on blue is better.
 Regardless, I love it in terms of message, positioning and idea.
Now whenever we sit in the room - which is an awful lot - we are all reminded of a revolutionary idea - pray.
About everything.
All the time.

As a side note, it is also apparently our family's "lost and found" area, as designated by Lucy.
She found a piece of homework and decided she should make a lost and found area.  
Since both Cade and Mia have already stated that it is not their paper, their names got stroked off the list. I guess Maddy, Eric and I still are not sure.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Okay, last time

I really do think it will be the last time.  You are probably quite sick of the wall.
I just wanted to show the latest addition.
I added some letters - one for each of us.  I've had a bunch of them for a while and just never got around to using them.  Eric has had his big E for a long long time, and I loved it from the first time we laid eyes on each other (the letter and I, that is), many many years ago.  He said that this is the first time it has ever actually been hung up!
 Lucy's is attached to a small canvas that she painted a while back.
Yes, the picture is on its side.  I selfishly was more concerned about the orientation I wanted, not what she made!

I think I might just be done with this wall, finally.  It makes me happy - happy colors, happy artwork by the kids, and something that represents all of us.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

domingo fabuloso

Translation: Fabulous Sunday

It was a tough week.
Really tough - and personally very frustrating.
But boy was it a good Sunday.

I started having migraines again this week.  It was very aggravating.  All I can conclude is that my body seems to do okay with the initial transition to the altitude but in the long run, it rebels.  I finally did some research on it (isn't it incredible what resources we have with the internet - still blows me away) and I guess it isn't very common, but does happen to a rare breed.
That's me, a rare breed.
Most people have migraines for the first few days when coming up to this "thin air", few do okay at first but then have trouble later..... and for a while.  Apparently I fall under the latter category.  Yippee for me.  I'm sure you are jealous and want to be like me.  
Kind of makes me never want to leave Quito for very long.

Anyway - I'll quit my whining.

Today was almost entirely headache free and was completely migraine free.
Church was good - I'll be much happier next week once children's church starts again, as I started to get a little irritated having my two youngest clamoring and clawing all over me for a good hour and a half.  But seriously, who can blame them?
(No, not because they had to be quiet, still and were pretty bored for an hour and a half.  I mean because who wouldn't want to clamor and claw for my attention..... I'm surprised it doesn't happen a whole lot more by a whole lot more people!
I'm a sarcastic person, please remember......)

My I am taking a lot of rabbit trails this evening.

After church we had Casa G. family, as per usual.
As not per usual, we had it at our house (ain't I got me some good grammar?).

The boys, 11 out of 13 of them (yes, we grew over the summer.... lost one, gained 3), and a family who loves these boys as much as we do (plus we just love this family.... so it was mostly selfish that we invited them!) all came over.
Before dinner, the boys discovered the dart board, with very few darts.
 The board is on a section of wall that connects the dinning room to the living room.
Now, I must tell you that we hung the board there because we hadn't really decided were it should be.  Eric had already told the kids that we couldn't play with it there.
Fools that we are, we left the board there.
Not so surprisingly, the boys found it and starting playing.
Our wall will never be the same.
 And since the walls are cinderblock and concrete, the darts won't ever been the same either!

We barbecued hamburgers and had other simple fare (like pasta salad that our friends made - of which Lucy, literally, had handful after handful.... it was a proud mama moment) and ate outside, enjoying incredible weather.

 It was a meal of Ecuadorian teenagers and blonde gringo children (and their parents).
 Love that.

After lunch, everyone (other than Renae, Cade - not feeling well - and myself) headed out to the park to play soccer.  Cade slept while Renae and I cleaned up.  And talked.
Side note: Can I just say how blessed I am with friends here?
Other than Renae helping Maddy (she came in a little later) feed her lust for internet shopping, it was such a good afternoon (I'd put a little happy face there with a tongue sticking out or something to show that I jest over the first part of that statement, but I have no idea how to do that, plus I'm not that big on emoticons - or whatever they are called - anyway).

We ended the day with showers - gotta love clean kids, 
leftovers - gotta love not cooking and,
an old movie - gotta love the classics.
Maybe not really a classic, but it was the 1994 version of "Little Rascals".  The first time we watched it, I pretty much insisted.  The kids were rolling their eyes, assuming it was a lame movie because I liked it and because it was made before the invention of the TV, or so they acted.  But they LOVED it.
And seriously, how cute are Buckwheat and Porky?

Maybe mom ain't so lame after all.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

fun, friend-filled weekend

Lots of good times this past weekend (thought I should get on this since the new weekend has started!)
Lucy had been bugging and bugging about having her friend Molly over.
Bugging and bugging (and bugging).
So we finally called.
Before that I asked Cade if he wanted to have Jorden, Molly's brother and Cade's friend, over as well.
The answer:  a resounding "YES"!

So friends got to come over and play.  Since everyone was having such a dandy time, we thought we'd just turn it into a sleepover extravaganza.  Kinda cool, because it was the first sleepover for a couple of the kids.  Now Lucy thinks she's an old pro.....

Of course, movies in bed and lots of snacks are part of an Ackermann sleepover.
Sometimes I am afraid that my kids might go to someone else's house for the night and they'll get mad at the other family for not following THE sleepover agenda.
Even the "big" girls joined in the fun.
I'm pretty sure they wanted the snacks and weren't too interested in "Barbie Fashion Fairytale".  Or maybe secretly they were??

After church on Sunday, we went to Casa G as usual.
For the first 15 or 20 minutes there, I was pretty frustrated with the kids.  They were their normal shy selves, just sitting there, not even talking or greeting the boys (it was our first time with them since summer).  Quite honestly, I wanted to slap them upside their heads.
Then I realized..... pretty sure it was God saying "And what would you have done when you were their age, hmmmm missy?"
I know I would have done the same thing.
I so much want the kids to be more outgoing, more interactive, less to themselves, less timid and all of that.  I see other children who are more this way and honestly, I get jealous.  But the reality is that it is not bad or wrong, nor should it be frustrating to me.  I need to pray that they reach out beyond themselves, that they appropriately grow in this area, but I need to not try to make them change their personalities.
It still is hard.  It still can be frustrating.  But God can use their little personalities in a different way, as He sees fit and as He made them.
And I need to step aside.

After my little life lesson and a relatively relaxed time at Casa G., we headed home to get ready for a back-to-school party.
I have a wonderful friend who is the party queen.  She loves to throw a good party - and good they always are.  We have the blessing of having kids in the same class two years in a row.  Its a blessing because I love her sweet son, I love her and I get to enjoy all her party planning goodness and just help, if needed!  I am very happy to be the help and not the master.  Been there, done that.  With the last of four children, its great to take on a little more of a relaxed role, especially when she's so good and doing it all!
I did offer to help (and was sincere!!) so she asked me to make cupcakes.  
It was a Dr. Suess party, so she sent me a link to how she wanted the cupcakes to look.  So I replicated them as best I could.... although that picture had red cupcake liners, of which I did not have, and blue icing, of which I did not have enough food coloring.  
Well, they still were pretty cute, I thought and look rather suessy.

She had a few games - Thing One and Thing Two tag.
One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish version of duck, duck, goose.
A little photo-op place of Thing One and Thing Two.

And then lots of yummy treats.
When our kids were nice and full of sugar, they started trying to juggle.
Little bit of skill.
Then Eric started to juggle.
A fair amount of skill.
He had the attention of a few of the kids.
Stick a red nose on that guys and you'd be good to go.... although I know a few people who are not fans of clowns (my darling cousin more than any one I know!!).  Maybe he could have just got some of that red icing on his nose from eating those cupcakes.....

Maddy didn't have any desire to go the party - can't imagine why - so she had a friend over instead.  I adore this particular friend of hers and want her to come over so I can play with her too.
Okay, I only play with them a little.
They like to make movies - rather um, interesting movies - and they decided to make a pirate one.  Mia, as is often the case, was the videographer.
I still haven't seen the end product, but I'm sure it was a smashing success.
One of these days I'll have to post one on here.....  Although Maddy has threatened to "kill me" if I ever do (I'm shaking in my boots....).  
We'll see.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

part 1, volume 16

Okay - Volume 16 is a grandiose exaggeration.  I haven't attempted that many times....
But I am, once again, working on getting my drivers license for this fine, fine country.
And look what I now have in my possession.
You will be happy and very relieved, I am sure, to know that I do not, in fact, have a police record in Ecuador.
Good news.
Even more remarkable than that, is the time it took to get this puppy.
We were shocked at how quickly, efficiently and effectively the whole thing went.
Surely this can not be the Ecuador we have come to know and love?
The whole thing, from entering to exiting the building, only took 25 minutes.

When we walked in there, I was quite pessimistic.  There were hoards of people.  But then Eric noticed something.... the numbers (you know, you get your ticket with a number and they have the digital numbers up front as to which number they are now serving...) were moving pretty fast.  It was at 40-something when we arrived, and we had number 21.

By the time we figured out that we had to go to a different area to get my passport number changed in their system (the glitch all along), got it changed (only one person in front of us) and went back, they were already in the 80s!
No seriously, this is true.

Our number was called, we went up there, I gave them my stuff, they took my picture (you know the kind that makes your face look like it is two feet long), printed out my report and scabam!, Done.
We walked out of there like two people in a daze.
Did that really just happen?
Was something quick and efficient here?  Here.  As in Ecuador?

But alas, it is true.  There is the proof sitting on my table and a photo of it on this blog.

Oh, and no one cut in front of us!
Not one person!

Monday, September 5, 2011

small accomplishments

It may be no big deal to you, but to me it is peace, completion and victory.
Remember this?
It is finally this.
Complete with a few new year of school artwork additions.
It was no small task getting that bulletin board up with these cinder-block, metal strip-ladened walls, but with the combination of our brains (and various products), Eric and I got it up.
It is a happy place.