Friday, May 30, 2008

My Dearest Siblings

The thermometer in my house says it's 64 degrees inside! It is a glorious day (I get to wear socks!). I think I appreciate it all the more since it felt like it was 100 degrees yesterday and very humid. If one gets the impression that I'm obsessed with the weather, one would be correct.

A question for the veteran bloggers: Is my web address supposed to be the same as my blog title?

We had another missionary family over for supper last night (they are in town for just a few days). Besides the fact that they are a neat family altogether it was really fun to watch the siblings interact and laugh together (4 out of their 5 children are still at home and in their teenage years). It brought back so many memories of "the good ol' days" at home when we would really drive mom crazy with our daily shenanigan's. There is just something about tormenting mom together that makes siblings grow closer:-) I have to say that those who are critical of my family and my parent's decision to have lots of kiddos obviously have no idea what they missed by not being in a large family.* There is not much I enjoy more than sitting around with my brothers and sisters to talk, goof off and reminisce of how life was 15 years ago. They love making fun of me, and honestly, I love being made fun of by them (is that warped or what?). Being made fun of is such a huge part of me that since they're not here I have a tendency to make fun of myself but I think it's giving others the impression that I have self-esteem issues (except for Kim of course, who will gladly join in and even find new things about me to make fun of. What would I do without her?) But honestly, I am extremely grateful that my folks did the unpopular thing and were willing to sacrifice in some areas so that we could welcome more children than America's average 1.8 into our home. My siblings are my dearest friends...they understand me (and understand why I am the way I am) in ways that others can't. They teach me and challenge me in ways that many others do not. We can spend two years apart and yet catch right back up to where we left off. When I still lived at home there was always somebody to play with (or make fun of). If somebody outside of the family hurt me, I had several younger siblings on my side. Now that my sister Stacey and I are married and having children there is nothing that compares with learning motherhood together (I love watching Stacey with her little boy or with my other nephew or with reminds me so much of how she was with the little ones in our home when they were...well, little!) And of course this is one of the hardest things about living overseas, being far away from family. But I have so much that I am thankful for. Only 30 years ago it was practically impossible to talk with loved ones over the telephone! Letters took weeks to arrive, if they arrived at all. Visiting home more than once every 5 or 6 years was out of the question. Today we have so much technology that makes keeping in touch easy. Not to mention we have eternity to spend together, as this life will pass away before we know it. Thanks mom/dad for giving me 8 wonderful friends for life!

The girls catching butterflies last night.

*I realize that not everyone who grew up in a large family has had a great experience but I think for those individuals it wasn't the size of the family so much as it was issues in the home that needed to be addressed and were not. For example, the older children were overworked because parents didn't take the time to train the younger ones, who were allowed to get away with murder while the older siblings were forced to carry a majority of the responsibility.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Foot in My Mouth

I realized as I went to bed last night that my post (remember how LATE it was?) made it sound like my three faithful readers (I actually have 4, but #4 is mystery-woman at this point) wouldn't have many ideas for activities with Karis, which is far from the truth! I DO expect lots of ingenious ideas:-) I was always impressed with the moms (Karis' grandmas) and how they came up with fun things to do with her (I think I'm missing that creative gene, or maybe I just get too focused on house stuff?) Anyway, I shouldn't have worded it in such a way to make it sound like I could get more ideas by surfing the net...I've tried that with other things and come up empty (and I know y'all have ideas!).

Since we're talking (or since I'm writing) along the lines of advice I think I'll go ahead and ask for some more! Anybody out there have potty-training motivation ideas? I'm totally stumped. I thought this would be so easy because while we were in the States Karis caught on quickly once we introduced the idea of m&m's (if anybody is reading and doesn't know me well, I have been very good at imposing health restrictions on my daughter that I don't follow myself, so chocolate was a new and very exciting thing for her! Although I do plan on changing my eating habits as well...starting today. ha!) When we got here and I realized that I was being almost completely drained from potty-training (mostly from laundry and cleaning puddles on the floor, as my days were being consumed with those two activities) I decided to surf the net. The only thing I came up with was several lists that had "indications" your child is ready for potty-training. Karis hasn't shown a single sign that she's ready! (as a side note, if that does happen to be you reading this Kanani, I have to, give an excuse for why I didn't follow your advice for infant potty training. I was totally motivated to infant potty train 'til it got closer to Karis' due-date and then my uncertainty with everything finally won out with her being my first and knowing that we'd be traveling a lot her first year. It seemed so I do recognize that the problem is I trained her to go in her diaper and now I'm trying to re-train her). So anyway, looking back I realize that Karis caught on to using the potty quickly because she was highly motivated but she never recognized the feeling of needing to go and then acted upon it. She was coming to me all day long saying "pee pee potty" and she would always manage to squeeze a bit out, but only because she had her precious m&m's in mind. Now chocolate is a thing of the past (she has even had her first popsicle!) and she never comes to me. She doesn't even mind sitting in a wet (or dirty) diaper for extended amounts of time. Because we're so swamped with "the big move" here I have only been able to use cloth diapers for small amounts of time (I don't have a dryer and we aren't into the full swing of dry season so it takes a while for them to dry) and we're losing major $ on disposable. aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! Why didn't I listen to Kanani?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

An Extra Dose of Patience

How funny that after waiting over a month we'd receive an email from the third "potential donor" the same day I decide to vent/complain on my blog! And what was the answer? "We can't answer 'til the end of June". Yes, I have patience issues to work out in my life and the Lord is deciding to work them out in me now (I just hope they get worked out quickly so that I don't have to wait for extended amounts of time in other areas in my life).

And now for some more two-year old talk....

After reading to Karis "If you give a pig a pancake" tonight, she decided to try out some new vocabulary. It went like this...

Me: "and if you give her some syrup...chances are she'll want a pancake to go with it".
Karis: "aw, how terrible" (I have no idea what she meant by that...I don't think she does either.)

Another random thought...are there any moms out there reading this who have some good ideas on activities with toddlers? I do the same ol' same ol' (tea parties, coloring, puzzles, books) but I'm anxious for something new and exciting. What is a fun activity you can do with a 2 1/2 yr. old? (who doesn't stop talking). I could probably get more ideas by surfing the net since I don't know if anybody is reading this besides mom, mary and my dear mother-in-law (and two out of the three are biased since they want to hear about their wonderful granddaughter. I guess that shouldn't matter...thanks for the comments, guys!)

Ok, last thing for the night (is it really 11pm? what am I thinking?). Karis has been watching her new favorite dvd once a day (maybe twice a day here and there:-) and as it is beginning she always runs up to me and says "It's going to be silly mommy!" How cute is that? How did I end up with such a cute kid? (as I've heard from other moms and find it to be true, feelings toward my child are overwhelmingly positive when she's sleeping.) She's such an adorable sleeping child...

A beautiful day!

I woke up this morning to a cloudy's dark in the house without sun shining through the windows. Ah yes, these are the beautiful days we look forward to down here! I even hear that a cold spell is heading up this way from the south, maybe it will be cool this weekend...

I really shouldn't be writing on here right now, especially since Karis and I are supposed to be helping with part of the "the move" today (a few moving trucks are coming to take a few offices and individual's housing) but here are one of those urges-to-share I get on a regular basis without anyone to listen (unless I pick up the phone, and I'm just not a phone person). Ok, I'm going nuts! There is this house that we really, really want to buy in the town we're moving to but we can't get funding except through individuals (since we're overseas interest rates are sky high). We have 2 individuals on board and are waiting word from the third (individual who we thought would be in a position to help us out with a loan). What I thought would be waiting 2 weeks max has now been over a month. I know I'm not a patient person and I am sure God is probably using this to make me a patient person, but can't He wait for another opportunity down the road? As all of the other families around here find housing I'm beginning to feel left behind. And because this is in so many ways my dream house (for here in Brazil) I can't stop dreaming about it! It isn't fancy, but it has a nice yard (hard to find here) and lots of space for visitors (or future children?) and also a great porch...which I was day-dreaming about this morning and how nice it would be to eat breakfast as a family each morning on it (the porch). I really better go now but I'll include a picture of my hope-to-be-future-home.

Well, I can be encouraged because at least today will be a cloudy day of waiting vs. a sunny day of waiting.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Another Sunny Day

Today is a pretty laid back day for us (and a sunny one, as usual! I think I'll keep my new blog title for a while). Nothing too pressing that needs to get done. Jonathan is busy as usual, so we'll just try to have a good support system going for him! So far today Karis and I have...

1. Had our morning devotions (a short time we spent together singing a few songs, praying and reading out of her Bible story book).
2. Played Hid-n-go-seek (a favorite).
3. Tidied the house up a bit (not quite enough laundry for a load!)
4. Sang and danced to a few songs.
5. Wrote a thank-you note.
6. Watched an episode of "The Pond" (very cute Christian video for children).
7. Fixed some lunch for papai.
8. Talked with Aunt Stacey on the phone.

She's down for a nap now so I guess there are no more excuses for putting off other work that needs to be done!

Karis' new favorite hiding spot.

Is that cute or what? She's such a funny girl:-)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

28 and feelin' great! (I am very aware at how cheesy that sounds, yet for lack of a better idea).

Today has been a wonderful birthday! I made the observation this month (I'm sure most people make it earlier in life) that as I get older my mind stays the same but my body changes in ways I'm not too excited about. I will save my energy and your time by not continuing down this path, as it is a path that leads to nowhere and because anybody over the age of 25 already knows what I'm talking about (I'm sure those over 40 are rather flabbergasted that I even think I know what I'm talking about, still being under the age of the big 30! Believe me, I understand more than you think:-)

Anyway, my birthday celebration actually began last night as we hit the town and had espetinhos at a park down the road (a plate full of rice, forafa, vinagrete, manioc and meat for a whoppin' $2!) We were a small group (my preference) and after we ate we headed home to put the kiddos down and play an aggressive round of Settlers of Catan!

To my surprise my wonderful sister-in-law, Cristy, had made time in her very full schedule yesterday to bake me a carrot cake and sneak it over to the Kimball's house (our great friends who ate supper with us and hosted our game of Settlers). This post for today at some point will seem like a tribute to Cristy who I am not ashamed to say is absolutely fabulous! Everybody should have a sister-in-law like her. She is definitely one of my best friends! So, the cake was thoughtful gesture #1 on her part.
Karis should have been in bed at this point but since she was watching "The Donut Man" on the couch and couldn't help but observe our activities she helped with the candles.

Our game ended just after midnight (at this age I can only afford to stay up that late every once in a while. ha!) And yes, they did let me win since I was only 5 minutes short of my birthday. Thanks guys!

After being lazy a bit this morning my DH made a great omelet for us to partake in as a family. Normally he enjoys making omelets filled with sausage, hot dogs & ham yet kept the meat to a minimum today and even added yellow pepper for my sake! (what a sweet man I have.) I will try not to be too wordy with the rest of this post but I have a few more events to include.

After breakfast I took Karis swimming (we didn't have to forbid Jonathan coming with us since he was already busy). It was good to wear her out a bit and get some sun. The reason I even mention this is because on the walk home I was thinking "It sure would be nice if the birthday lunch I had in mind would somehow fix itself...I'm feeling a bit hungry". I don't recommend entertaining thoughts such as these since it's a good way to set yourself up for disappointment, yet thanks to my fabulous sister-in-law I walked inside to a house filled with the fantastic aroma of beans cooking!
What a sister-in-law, huh? Thoughtful gesture #2 on her part. It was an amazing meal, exactly what I wanted....File mignon*, rice, beans, forafa de banana** and vinagrette***.

I put the munchkin down for a nap and savored every bite. I left some food out on the counter since I plan to pick here and there for the rest of the day! We had some more carrot cake, opened some presents and got dishes done in a hurry (thanks to Cristy...thoughtful gesture #3).

It doesn't even matter how the rest of the day goes...

*You have to understand that even though we don't buy it often, the price of file mignon here is only $3.50 lb when it's on sale...and of course it was this week (I'm sure the grocery store knew it was my birthday).
** ground and toasted yucca root with plantains (much better than it sounds!)
***kind of like salsa...has tomatoes, onions, oil, vinegar and lots of cilantro, my favorite!

PS. I did change the heading of my blog from "Doninha no Brasil" (doninha means "Weasel" which is the nickname my fabulous sister-in-law gave me) to Land of Sunny Days. I'm so new to this whole blog thing that I didn't know what to put at first. Then today I thought of this change since almost every day here is a sunny day (something I didn't used to appreciate but now after spending a winter in the States I definitely do!). I may change it again in the near future as I become more accustomed to blogging....or if something else just hits me. Who knows...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Cracker Barrel Breakfast in Brazil

A dear friend of ours had a birthday today which we celebrated this morning by having a huge breakfast! (I'm not sure why we didn't start this as a monthly tradition several years ago?) I'm not much of a breakfast person (the only meal of the day I'm not overly excited about) but this was fantastic. Karis and I made O.J. for the occasion. Notice how our oranges down here are actually green on the outside? It took me months to realize that the oranges that are slightly orange usually aren't as sweet or tasty as the greener ones! (no wonder all of the Brazilians stared at me as I dug around and hunted for the bitter ones to purchase!). The kiddos had a chance to swim in our friend's pool which was a thrill for Karis. When she puts on this ridiculous looking swim-suit (thanks for the great garage-sale treasure, mom!) we call her our little "bujao" which means "gas bottle" (and that is exactly what she looks like when she puts it of the small gas bottles we use for our stove). She has no fear of the water so Jonathan has a chance to lose some weight by keeping his heart-rate up as he watches her swim (and that in turn gives me a chance to shed some pounds too because every time he screams "Kell!" I make a mad dash to the pool, only to realize she's happily swallowing vast amounts of chlorinated water. What's the big deal?) We don't let him come swimming with us on a regular basis...

Friday, May 23, 2008

I love me?

As we were driving home from a dinner last night (all of us who live on the base were treated to one last supper together before we move and spread out!) Karis began singing what she remembered of the Barney song (she really only saw it a few times, so I'm not surprised that she made so many mistakes). Here is how she was singing it...

"I love me, you love me, we're best friends, friends should be, with a great big hug and kiss to me, won't you say love me too."

Cristy and I found it quite humorous although I wondered if she were a bit older would she even sing it differently? (seeing as how she does have a great love for herself :-)

It may not make sense just yet, but let me share a quote with you from Elizabeth Elliot, who wrote a biography on Amy Carmichael...

"If there were less of what seems like ease in our lives they would tell more for Christ and souls...We profess to be strangers and pilgrims, seeking after a country of our own, yet we settle down in the most un-stranger-like fashion, exactly as if we were quite at home and meant to stay as long as we could. I don't wonder apostolic miracles have died. Apostolic living certainly has."

The reason this quote jumped out at me is because the main message that seems to be ringing in my ears this year is to live a simpler life so that Christ's message may be furthered (if you haven't already, read some of K.P. Yohannan's books...they're fabulous!) But my self-love (hence the reason I included Karis' version of the Barney song) really fights against this desire to lay down my other desire to live a life of comfort and ease. This has become a daily struggle for me, yet as I make baby steps in this area I am experiencing a new-found freedom like never before (even though I do take two steps backwards at times).

Now this may seem like a rabbit trail as well, but after pondering about the above I also realized that I can use this blog to try and convince readers of my blog to read certain books. Ha! And I just read a great one recently that continues to challenge me in living simpler so that I can support financially a wonderful ministry. The books is called "Children of Hope" by Vernon Brewer (hence the picture up top that I couldn't figure out how to put down here). The main theme of the book is to awaken the Christian community of the Aids epidemic in Africa, how it is affecting so many lives (especially children) and the call to do something about it. In one survey they did, only 3% of professing believers said they would be willing to help out with the Aid's crisis in Africa (many with the attitude that "They deserve the disease by their lifestyle"). What many don't realize is that the main victims are faithful wives to their husbands, and then the orphaned children left behind. It is heartbreaking, yet also hopeful as the Lord uses their ministry in a mighty way! I would encourage anyone to read this book and share parts of it with your children, so that they can understand how much in the minority they really are, growing up in a country where poverty and suffering are almost non-existent (compared to the third world) and also expand their world-view. It will change your life!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Two-year old talk

Living with a two-year old is much more fun than I had ever imagined (I guess I've always been a bit fearful of facing the "terrible twos"??) Even though I do feel challenged and humbled in new ways with Karis' confident attitude that life revolves around her, I really, really enjoy the entertainment she brings to our lives (how can some people choose not to have children?). Here are a few short conversations that took place this week...

Karis: "What you doing, mommy?" (both sitting on the bed while she does a puzzle)
Me: "I'm just sitting here watching my little girl. What are you doing?"
Karis: "I'm just sitting here watching mommy".

Karis: "What's this?" (holding up a number 6)
Me: "it's a 6" (keep in mind that Karis does not know her numbers yet)
Karis: "what's this?" (holding up a 9)
Me: "It's a nine".
Karis. "Good job!"

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

From Facebook to Blogging

Well here I am...just joined Facebook a little over a month ago and now I'm trying out this whole blogging thing. I seriously have no idea who would take the time to read whatever it is I end up writing about but as a stay-at-home mom I've realize that sometimes I just feel the urge to share an idea/thought and there isn't always somebody there to listen! (except for a two-year old who gives me this look like "what in the world is wrong with you?" when I talk about anything other than two-year-old things). Anyway, I've always wanted to journal but haven't made much progress since it takes so long to write and my hand cramps up after only a few minutes. Perhaps I'll be more consistent with this since I can type faster and I won't end up making my journal a book of complaints, knowing that the world will be reading (ok, so maybe my mom will be the only one reading but the knowledge that somebody could read it is a great motivator not to use it as a tool for venting, like I have in the past:-)

Well, it's time for some much needed exercise...