Sunday, December 30, 2012

december 1

Part of the gift giving of Christmas came a little early this year.  Since Grandma came and played Christmas delivery person for family back at home, we celebrated early.  The kids were pretty excited to see gifts under the tree so early.  They were even more excited when they found out that some of them were going to be opened early as well!

Cade received lego, nano hex (? - something like that) bugs; Lucy got a beautiful dress and a doll (who is now her constant companion); Mia received some Barbie stuff and paints and; Maddy got some clothes, iTunes gift cards and fun girl stuff.  They all got others things as well, but that is all my brain can remember right now.  There'll be more pictures below, so you can figure it out yourself!
Surprisingly, Eric was not quite as into the festivities as the kids were.....
Grandma also received several treasures.  The kids had made some jewelry for her before she came, so she was overwhelmed with earrings and a bracelet.  She also got a bird key chain and a little glass dish.

Mia's Apples to Apples game became the next big thing in the family.  For about two weeks we played the game everyday.  Several times during dinner.  It made for some very good times and good laughs.  And a little bitterness (who can blame me?  Seriously, my words were way better than everyone else's!   Why didn't they get picked ever?!).
Mom also received a very, very lightly used robe from me.  I think I used it twice - but it is the softest, coziest robe ever made so used or not, that there was a good gift.  I like it on my mom better, plus then she is cozy to snuggle up beside!

It was also time to start our advent devotions and start to decorate our Jesse tree.  The kids got excited about taking turns each night reading the bible verses and stories.  Cade got to start on the first night - November 29.

advent time again

I'd love to say we are on a roll with all of our daily activities.  But that would be a lie.  I kinda wonder every year why we keep doing it, but we still do.  The kids are often too spent to do them anyway.  Well, some are getting done, and usually the most important ones.
Dec. 3 was packing shoe boxes for the school's shoe box delivery to poor areas in Quito.  We did all of the shopping together the Saturday before and got the loot:  toiletries, school supplies, candy and a toy.  Eric and I had our annual Youth World Christmas party on the 3rd so thankfully Grandma was able to supervise this.
I wish we would be able to be part of the distribution, but that won't happen.  Some day I hope that it will.  It is great filling boxes with things and giving to others, but the impact seems fairly small on the part of the giver.  You pray that the impact is grand for the receiver, but there is little sacrifice, in reality, for the kids.  I pray we can have the kids connect more with these kinds of projects in the future.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

God's funny ways

As is the case for pretty much everyone right now (except maybe Eric.... he doesn't do "extra activity"!), life is super busy.  There are a million things to do at work and another million at home.  Simply put, I'm swamped.  So perhaps I should get my fanny off the couch and my fingers off the computer and get a move on.....  Yea, anyway.  
Last night I was a bit overwhelmed thinking about one project - editing some photos of a family - and how I could possibly get them done in time (deadline: 9:00 p.m. today).  At the same time I was longing for some time in the bible and had not had that yet.  Well, the bible won out and God reminded me that He would take care of the rest.
He did.  I am currently home with a sick Mia instead of at work.
Eric was sick last week, then I was, then Cade and now Mia.  She actually came home half way through Monday, was home yesterday and now today.  She did get up and get dressed this morning but it was obvious she wasn't fit for school still.  Eric and I thought she'd be better today - she was feeling better last night - so he took off and went fishing last night.  That means I am home from work.
It is kind of a bummer as we were having a special on-the-roof-of-the-dorm-roasting-marshmallow-Christmas-music chapel that I planed.  I have to miss it.  That isn't happy.  And people have to do some of my final work for it.  That isn't happy either.  However, God provided and in his provision He is also helping me to be more humble.  I was getting kind of proud of my plans.
He does have some funny ways.  But they are always, always good.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

take a cold shower

Have you ever not been able to take a shower because you are out of cold water?  
Yes, I said cold water.
Ya, so running out of hot water is pretty common.  In this country you sometimes have to find out if certain places even have hot water.  But yesterday, at our house, we didn't have cold water.
I was in the shower - the water was nice and hot.  Too hot.  I kept turning up the cold water but it wouldn't cool down.  Finally I turn the hot off (the cold is all the way on) and not a drop of water comes out.  Okay, well maybe a drop.
Check the sink faucet.  No cold water.  Check another bathroom. No cold water.
Thankfully we do have cold water in the other shower.  Of course, this shower has a terrible shower head and water pressure so in order to get clean you have to run around in a circle to get wet, hoping enough drops of water hit you.  By that time you are a sweaty mess from moving around so much that the point of showering is null and void.  Okay, that last part isn't true, but it is a lousy shower.
We are clueless (shall I stop there....) as to why this is our current situation, although we are now suspicious that our water for those bathrooms is connected to the apartment below us.  They have been known to repeatedly have their electricity turned off, have their rent not paid, etc.  Perhaps the water is turned off as well.
Does that mean they are paying for some of our water bill?   Hmmmm no wonder they might not be able to pay it.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

on santa's knee

I've gotten to know quite a few US embassy people in these past few months.  Several of the ladies are involved in an outreach called "Quito Cares".  They raise money to give to various charities.  One event that they have annually is photos with Santa.  This year they asked me to be the photographer.
Since I don't have approval to post photos of all the other people, I'm just posting some of my buddy!
There were about 35 families that showed up.  Several were with little children who went into frightened hysterics when they got near Santa.  It was a little comical.  Well, for me, not for their parents!
This is my little buddy whom I have photographed quite a bit already.  I love this little guy.  And apparently he loves Santa.  I don't think he was ever this silent or still so long when we were trying to do his photos.  Little stinker!
Maddy got to have a little time with him as well, and so did I.  Lots of cozy snuggling.  This was the highlight for both Maddy and I - for me because I just like snuggling with a cute little baby; for Maddy because she was bored out of her mind (she came to help me).  
Well, I was glad she was there.

technical difficulties

For some reason I decided to take a look at the blog and see that there are a bunch of photos that aren't showing up.  Have no clue as to why that is happening.
Please excuse our technical difficulties!

not so inspiring

The other day I asked Lucy if she would like to write a new verse on the chalkboard wall.  I suggested that she write something about the Christmas story and she could get Grandma to help her find a good verse.  I showed her where the story started in the book of Luke.  She decided to pick her own verse.
"In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman World"
Hmmm.  Wouldn't have been my choice for inspirational scripture, but I guess it is still biblical....

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

its baseball season again

Once again, Cade is playing machine pitch baseball.  We are missing the Bryans, whom we went with last year, but we thankful for the Beckers and the time we get hanging out with them at games.  The Beckers have three boys - two of whom are playing on the same team as Cade.
There is one other little rascal who sits around and watches.... or entertains us:
He is Maddy and Mia's little buddy.
At one of the more recent games, Lucy brought a book along so that she could read instead of watch that boring old baseball game...  She sat on the bench with the team for pretty well the entire game, engrossed in her "Geronimo Stilton" book.
Cade had one bad inning, so Mia was there to encourage him.  He wasn't too keen on the encouragement, however.
They won that game.

Pretty much love Saturday morning baseball.


While my mom was here (she left yesterday morning), Eric, her and I went down to Otavalo for the day.  Otavalo is known for their handicraft markets, among other things.  It is a great place to get Ecuadorian souvenirs and things like that.   While we were there shopping, I decided not to break out my camera (even though I finally brought it along - my mom was sick of me writing about how sad I was that I didn't bring my camera....) because I knew that as soon as any vendor saw it, our prices would be higher.  Who is going to sell things at a good price to someone who carries around a fancy camera.  I wouldn't if I were them!
Well, on our way back to Quito we encountered a bike race.  We had a bit of a hassle at the beginning as one police officer let us in after the lead cyclists - which he should not have done.  Then we got hassled and forced to get out.  We ended up following this bike race - up hill..... actually up mountain.... for I don't even know how long.
After a while, we finally got close to the riders.  Why?  Because they started letting traffic in with them!  It was crazy!  We couldn't believe that they didn't just section off a few feet on the side of the highway for the race and keep the riders there.  No! The car traffic and cyclists were all intermingled: bikes passing cars, cars passing bikes....
Everyone was weaving in and out of lanes.  Crazy.  I was sure that some racer was going to get killed or seriously injured.  It was absolute mayhem.
The one thing they did do to ensure "safety" was block off oncoming traffic.  This was the result:
Traffic was backed up for ever.  Once we saw that, we were ever so slightly less frustrated with the very slow pace at which we had to travel..... at least we got to move.
Ah.... only in Ecuador!

christmas bazaar #3

It happened again - the annual Christmas bazaar at the school - November 28th.  This year was simply a miracle that we made any money at all.  With working, photography and every day life, I had next to no time to make anything.  Thankfully I had some stuff left over from last year and held two craft nights where some wonderful friends came to help out and make stuff.  Forgetful me forgot to take pictures of this..... not real happy about that.... I love those women and we had a great time.  I wish I had photos to capture it.
Thankfully I also have a generous and flexible boss at the school so I was able to be at the table most of the day.  It was a Wednesday, which is normally a full day's work for me, but he allowed me to hang out there.  Surprisingly, it was actually a great time to connect with students so it actually aided in my job.  The teachers all love to let their students come in and shop so there are students in there all the time.
The list of items sold: dog walking bags (left over from last year)
embellished towels (left over)
snowman ornament kits (left over)
pad and pen sets (new)
The pad and pen sets were something we worked on at the first craft night.  We had about 10 ladies:  Sandi, Marlo, Mikala, Katie, Jenna, Ashley, Dana, Rachel, Debbie, Kristin... oh, I should never have started.... I'm probably forgetting someone.  It was so fun to see all of the different things everyone did. I loved the variety of styles and creativity.  We decorated the outside of the pad of paper, stuck a magnet on the back and used coordinating paper to decorate a pen as well.  They turned out very nice.
micro-slide ornaments - new
little bit of jewelry - new
crocheted headbands (donated by Kristin)
candy cane reindeer (same as the last two years but don't worry - definitely new!)
chocolate covered marshmallows 
gum advent count downs
These were the same as what I made for friends last year.  We made them on the second craft night.  We had fewer ladies but just as much fun.  And again it was fun to see all the different ideas and styles.
The big seller is always the cheap stuff and the food.  The marshmallows on a stick - dipped in chocolate or candy melts and sprinkles sold for $.25 each but they went like hot cakes.  So many kids come in and want to buy a quick snack.  And everyone loves the candy canes - and if they are reindeer, all the better.
The table next to me had a bunch of imported candy - the kinds of boxes of candy they sell at Walmart: Mike and Ikes, Sour Patch Kids, etc.  They sold them for $2.50 and they sold like hot cakes.  I think this summer I should buy enough to fill a 50 lb bag and call it good - that would probably make enough money for a great Casa G. Christmas!  In the end, $300 was made for Casa G.  Something we are very thankful for!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

off to arasha

The day after Thanksgiving we headed off to a resort-type place to that we went to once before - called Arasha.  It was a place that I have wanted to bring my mom to ever since we went.  There are little workshops there that I knew she would like (making chocolate and coffee) and it is warm without being hot.  We had another family join us for part of the time as well.  That made it extra fun for the kids.  They had a great time together the first day (we only overlapped with them part of the time).  Swimming was the main event.
Is it Trey (our friend) or is it an crocodile?

I had also wanted to have my mom try a Los Coquieros Coco ice cream (?) bar.  They are amazingly delicious and since my mom is a coconut kind of girl, I knew she would love them.  Plus it gave me an excuse to eat more myself.
In between swimming, we went off to make some chocolate.  First, roast the beans....

Then rub off the charred skins from the beans....
Then it is time to grind.
Grinding is no easy task.
Look at that effort.

Mom pounded it out.  There were a bunch of guys there that were very impressed with her strength!  Bien Fuerte!

Then we made hot chocolate - heat the water, add the ground chocolate and some sugar.

Then we cooked down the chocolate, added more milk and sugar and got to enjoy some chocolate on fresh apple and banana.

We also enjoyed a little mini golf.  Maddy wasn't into playing so she took some shots with her iPod.

 Eric the one-handed, cup of diet-pepsi (of course) in the other hand, show-off golfer won, but just barely.  I pushed him to excellence....
 You may notice that Lucy is markedly absent from these photos.  She was having a few issues.  Issues of a Lucy nature.  And even when she was welcomed back in to participate, she decided to keep her distance.  Don't worry, she ended the time with her usual bright smile.
The next morning we had a pool-side visitor.  He wasn't very chatty and was rather shy.  He pretty much kept to himself the whole time, but still stuck close to us in his solitude.
 We stayed in a great cabin with room for 9 and fans for one.  It was rather warm, but we managed to still get a bit of sleep.  The beds also doubled as dining room seating.
We brought breakfast and lunch food and ate dinners at the restaurant.  This particular lunch was sandwiches.  From the look of Lucy's lunch it looks more like torn up bread, but it was, at one time, an actual sandwich.
We also made coffee, swam a whole lot more, talked and laughed with our friends, laid poolside with Grandma and numerous other things.  It was a great time together and it feels like it is already time to go back.  Too bad we can't pack in another visit before Grandma heads back to Canada.