Sunday, November 30, 2008

Tchau Gente Boa!

In nine short hours my alarm is going to sound and I'll have an hour to pack all of those last minute items, wake up Karis (and let her pull the last link off of her chain) and load up into the truck! I am going to feel absolutely miserable and sleepy until about an hour before we land in Orland0 when the adrenaline will starta pumpin' (about 4pm tomorrow Orlando time and 7pm our time). But we're excited!

Not a single item has been packed yet but I'm not stressed at all. Oh yeah, that's because I let the hubby do that. Which really is a good thing. He sees packing a suitcase as a puzzle where every item has a perfect niche and it is up to him to find it. And me? I feel challenged to see how fast I can get all of it in there and closed without breaking the zipper. His way is the better way and because I can go do something else while he's packing (that won't bore me to tears) it works out quite well.

I have a feeling I won't be too much a part of the bloggy world these next 3 weeks! Please don't forget about me though, my 8 faithful followers. If something amazing or really embarrassing happens I'll be SURE to find a computer, and quick. Promise.

For now I'll leave you with this farewell dance. She felt inspired this morning and yes, she does her own choregraphy.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Within me lies a spirit of non self-discipline...

I have to admit that self discipline is a mystery to me. I'm obsessed with the idea of self control and self discipline, yet when it comes to living my life in such a way....well, I'm certainly lacking.

Like, when I read about the 5:00 club. Oh, awesome (thought I). That is JUST what I need! However I haven't rolled out of bed before 7am these past few mornings. Partly because my self discipline really needs to take place the night before (go to bed before midnight) so that I can get up early the next morning.

I'm always inspired and challenged by 1 Cor. 9 when Paul talks about making his body his slave, for the sake of the gospel! Unfortunately the catalyst for my self discipline is usually rooted in selfishness (you think I nixed sugar out of my diet for the sake of self control?). It is interesting though, that I am more content with my life when I am practicing self discipline! Even though 2 months of hard work have only taken 4 lbs off this body I think I've been able to stay away from sugar (for the most part) because I feel better when I recognize that I am, in fact, able to deny myself in this one area. I feel somewhat in control. Hmmmm....go figure...self control makes me feel in control.

And that, my friends, is the end of my self discipline shpeal. If anyone has some suggestions or encouragement that could help one-not-so-disciplined (such as myself) please feel free to leave a comment (or two)...

This makes no sense to me but when I am getting close to traveling, and I'm really excited about traveling I tend to start procrastinating to keep myself from getting too excited. If you're totally confused, let me explain. Instead of working on tasks 2 weeks in advance in preparation for my trip (like I should) I put them off so as not to think about the trip and get too excited, which would leave me feeling disappointed since I still have to wait two whole weeks. Today was the day that I finally allowed myself to start thinking seriously about the trip and begin to plan. However, just like every other time I've done this to myself I realize there is too much to do and not enough time to do it! I'm leaving in 4 days for crying out loud!

One area I should have been working on is meals for my hubby. Now, he was a bachelor for 10 years prior to our wedding day so really he can take care of himself. He makes a mean omelet as well as stir-fry and a fancy version of ramen noodles. He will not lose weight while I'm gone, that's for sure. But it did dawn on me today that "gee, it sure would be halfway thoughtful to leave the man something to eat while I'm in the U.S. partying."

So today Karis and I made some tortillas for him (nothing to go with them yet, but this is a start).

As I watched Karis help me today I felt so much gratefulness for this indescribable blessing in my life. She brings so much joy to our lives!

She is always so excited to help (I must admit that part of my motivation for accepting her help is in the hopes that she will still want to help 10 years down the road when she really IS a help:-)

And can you tell which tortillas were rolled by her?

Even though the seasons are different down here and I miss certain aspects about the States (like fall!) I realized today that there is something very unique about the weather here. We get to experience spring, summer and winter all in the same day! This morning it was fresh and cool, this afternoon the sun was blazing and we were sweating and now we have a freezing wind from the south coming through. I am cold....I love being cold for short amounts of time! We sat on the porch and watched the wind all snuggled up in our blankets tonight.

I guess I better go to bed in order to get up early tomorrow in the hopes of getting a lot of things done that should have been done a long time ago....

Monday, November 24, 2008

Vanity, vanity...all is vanity...

Has anybody noticed that my profile picture has changed 5 times in the past 2 weeks? I decided I really needed to take off my pre-child picture that I had up there for so long. Even though it was a picture from my skinnier days, appeared as if I had a tan (as well as a good hair day) it just didn't seem right. "I need to go authentic" I thought.

Now I realize that I really don't want to go too authentic. My friend Kelli snapped a few shots after I got my hair chopped off (anybody notice that?) but because I was trying so hard to stretch my double chin out they looked a bit goofy. I mustered up enough courage to ask Jonathan to take a few (I felt really strange asking him to do this) but ended up with the same results. A strained looking face.

I've never done this before in my life but I finally decided to sit there with a camera and take pictures of myself. I was so nervous that Jonathan would walk in and inquire what in the world I was doing. I can't imagine anything more embarrassing. At first I was feeling a bit camera shy and then I thought "shy because of what? It's just me and an electronic device!" so after about 30 pictures I was getting the hang of it and feeling very free. Why am I telling you this? I have no idea. I can't believe I'm not hitting the backspace key as fast as I can.

My new profile picture is a bit quirky but I would much prefer to have a quirky picture than a chubby looking picture. What can I say, I'm vain. And somehow admitting that on my blog makes me feel a little less vain. I mean, if I were really, really vain then I wouldn't admit it, right? So I must not be THAT vain.

Today I realized that a good cure for vanity is riding my bike down to the grocery store. Even though my newly acquired exercise habits have helped firm up my bod a bit, there is this one stretch of cobblestone that reminds me all too well how much isn't so firm. My goodness I can only imagine what I must look like bumping down that road on my bike.

I am now done talking about my vain life. Although this portion of my post does remind me of this poster I saw on another blog...

Ok, that's worth a good laugh.

As I was returning home from the grocery store today I was thinking of all the different things I wanted to post about (and 2 out of the three were spiritual!). Now that it is 5 hours later and the effect of the caffeine has worn off I'm afraid I'm going to have to stick to the one nonspiritual topic (my vanity).

Here is clue as to what is to come...I want to join a club! I heard about this club on Mamahen's blog today. I've never been a part of a club before (except 4H but that so doesn't count). This one is free and I'm fairly certain will even improve my, my husband's and my daughter's life! Yay for free, life-improving clubs!

Just a few more nonspiritual glimpses into our lives here...

Karis loves to help me pick basil (tucked in between the elephant ear plants!). Since she discovered that this plant is ok to eat she will pick and eat the leaves raw. I am not sure if she enjoys them or just eats them because she can.

Father and daughter enjoying their healthy drinks together. How sweet.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A titleless post.

10 days 'til the big day! Karis and I made another chain of paper links for her to take one off every morning when she wakes up. She loves this and hasn't stopped talking about the "jumbo jet" that we'll be stepping onto a week from Monday. I can't wait either but there's a lot going on that is preoccupying my thoughts!

I keep thinking about how I'm going to step on to the plane wearing jeans, a short-sleeve shirt and flip flops but will step off into really, really cold weather (like, below 70 degrees!)

Anywho, here are some highlights of our week...

1. Terantulla #3 was retrieved from the pool.

2. Moof is a rat-killer. Anybody forget who Moof is? Check out this fearsome canine below...

So here's the rat story. I was watching my friend's girls and had just taken them home to give them showers to go to bed when Jonathan called. He said that Moof found a rat which ran under the washing machine. Mike goes to get Moof while Jonathan lifts up the washing machine. Rat runs out, rat runs up Jonathan's leg. Jonathan screams. Jonathan shakes rat off of leg. Rat runs, rat jumps. Moof runs. Moof catches rat in mid air. Moof gives the rat the shake of death. It's all over, rat is dead. I am thankfully not traumatized since I wasn' there and now Jonathan thinks we have the awesomest dog in the world (yes, judging by the red squiggle underneath it I take it that awesomest is not a word).

3. I had minor oral surgery on Tuesday. That front tooth that got knocked out playing basketball over 10 years ago had to come out for good! Everything went really well and afterwards the dentist was very, very glad we went ahead and had it taken out now. So much of the bone structure has degenerated that I only have a 50/50 chance of being able to have an implant without a bone graft! Yikes, we're praying. It wasn't painful but I can't describe how horrific it was to hear and feel (without pain) the dentist drilling/scraping out the tooth cavity. I couldn't stop thinking about how painful it was going to be afterward! Thankfully I only took pain meds that same night! They were even able to use my old tooth by grinding it down, whitening it and then bonding it to the two side teeth. My mouth will need at least 5 months to heal! It's actually kind of nice because as long as my top lip doesn't raise up too much I went from having crooked, semi-white teeth with one gray tooth to crooked, semi-white teeth. How's that for looking at the positive side of things? :-) No picture for this portion of the post...sorry folks.

To be honest I've been battling with some internal struggles the past few weeks. It has been a real challenge to try and choose joy. Doesn't joy come so much more naturally when everything is wonderful? I've had a few highlights that have encouraged my heart...

1. My friend Angie sent me a nice email with some great quotes knowing that I was feeling rather discouraged (praise the Lord for thoughtful friends!). Here are the two quotes she sent me!

"The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one's 'own,' or 'real' life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life - the life God is sending one day by day; what one calls one's 'real life' is a phantom of one's own imagination. This at least is what I see at moments of insight: but it's hard to remember it all the time." -C.S. Lewis

"What I do you cannot do; But what you do, I cannot do. The needs are great, and none of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful."
-Mother Teresa

2. Although we don't always make it we were able to go to prayer meeting on Wednesday night. It was such a special time! What made it special (for me) is that when the man who was leading prayer meeting asked for song requests he then looked at Karis and asked if she knew Jesus Loves Me. She said yes so everybody sang it for her! Well that got her really excited so she began giving out her own requests...including Zacchaeus Was a Wee Little Man & Read Your Bible, Pray Every Day. She really enjoyed participating and everybody was so gracious to go along with her requests and even seemed to enjoy songs they hadn't sung in years. I was so thankful at that moment for the family that we do have here among our fellow missionaries, even though our immediate families are not nearby.

Ok, this has turned into a lengthy post! Here's a random picture of my silly girl in one of her birthday outfits...

Signing off for now...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Present Day Holocaust

Holocaust - "Any mass slaughter or reckless destruction of life."

Let's face it, all of us have become desensitized to some extent when it comes to abortion. We hear words like "pro-life" "pro-choice" "partial birth abortion" and although we may be dismayed when the subject arises we learn to block out the feelings deep down inside of us that grip our hearts; the part of us that recognizes how truly horrific abortion is.

I remember when I was a child and learned what an abortion was. I spent nights crying for the unfortunate babies labeled as "tissue" and honestly couldn't grasp how any human, let alone friends and family that I knew, believed there was nothing wrong with terminating a helpless life. My mind couldn't fathom it. There were some individuals who were a part of my life that I wanted to avoid because I didn't know how to relate to them anymore. As a child it didn't make sense to me that they proclaimed to love me (see value in my life) and at the same time believe that if my mom had terminated her pregnancy before I was born then that would have been ok. Hypocrisy is what I was witnessing but couldn't define in my own mind. Either human life has value, or it doesn't. Age, size, social status or the ability to defend one's own life doesn't change that value. All human life is valuable or no human life holds value. Who is willing to define human value? Who wants to be the one to say you have to be smarter than"this" or contribute at least "this much" to society before your life has any value? Who is willing to look a mother with a special needs child in the eye and tell her that her child is worthless because he/she hasn't earned value in society's eyes? We are a hypocritical nation.

I wasn't planning on posting about abortion but I had a link sent to me of a short video regarding abortion and Obama's stance on the issue. It is a reminder that my home country has become a slaughter house to millions of babies. Please take the time to watch the video below. It has very graphic images so I would advise any of you mothers to watch it before you let your children!

It is our duty to fight for the life of the unborn. We can't sit by and live life in our comfy homes forgetting what is happening outside our front door. Let's not deceive ourselves into thinking there is nothing we can do about it!

The rest of this post is going to seem rather paltry in comparison to the beginning! Ah well, here we go anyway...

I am ecstatic to report that all of those mangoes that fell during the storm are ripening! As they ripen I am cutting and is what's left of them.

I am probably sucking the life out of my already-20-year-old dehydrator! I LOVE dried mango. Part of the reason I begged my husband not to cut down the mango tree right away was so I could attempt to make a year's supply of dried mango! He is letting me have it for one season (what a cupcake)...

My decoupage has hardly been touched in weeks. I thought for sure it'd be finished by the time I left for good ol' Tally town. Not going to happen, folks! Every day has felt like a whirlwind for the past several weeks and there is no sign it is going to let up before December 1st. This is how it will sit 'til the new year arrives...

A few recent Karis funnies...

I told Karis to clean up her toys in the living room so that I could sweep and mop. She obeyed immediately and did a great job! I said "Thanks Karis. You did great!" she replied "you're welcome, sweetie" in the most grown up, motherly voice she could muster.

A few days ago Karis decided she would fix her hair by herself. She got out the squirt bottle, her brush and went to work. Usually her hair is already fixed (to keep it out of her eyes) so she doesn't get too many opportunities to play this way. The end result was very wet hair with a crooked part. You also need to know that there is a cafeteria at the school here that we've been eating lunches at rather frequently. When Karis was done she said "I'm going to go to lunch and everybody will say 'awe, how cute'!" I'm sure I've done nothing to contribute to her self-admiration.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Filhos e Bichos.

I think I'm going to get just a bit personal in my post tonight (or at least in this first section...if you're not into personal issues just skip right past:-)

We went back to the Dr. yesterday to go over the results of our tests (testing fertility). The good news is everything looks great and normal! The not-so-encouraging news is that even though I am going to start taking something that the Dr. thinks may help me get pregnant there wasn't an obvious problem that we can focus on fixin'. Anyway, after the new year I'll start taking this medication and wait a few months to see if anything changes. I won't go into the details of what the medication does since, well, that's kind of weird to write on a blog (if you're interested send me an email and I'll share all the not-so-interesting details!).

The main reason I'm sharing that is because I want you to listen to a song that has been an enormous amount of encouragement to me these past few months! I put it at the top of the list on my music player (on the side of my blog). It's called "Voice of Truth" by Casting Crowns. I've always liked this song but for some reason when we were on the way to the Dr.'s the first time a few months ago I really listened to the verses. Go listen to it real quick if you have a chance...

I am so challenged by the words of this song! I have realized that my attitude in life (presently in my desire to have more children) there are voices that would love to discourage and defeat me yet I have the choice to choose to listen to the Voice of truth. Truth. I love that truth exists! And I love that my Savior speaks words of truth that bring life and hope. I hope this song encourages you in the same way it has encouraged me.

Now onto less serious personal things...

We had our first fire in the fireplace a few nights ago!

Yes, it got down to 68 degrees outside and 72 inside...the fire brought the temperature up to the high 70's. Mike and Kelli live in a very hot city so they were walking around all bundled up! I was teasing them that most people in the States keep their a/c thermostat set between 70-75. And they're about to spend the winter months in Michigan! ha! I think after living here 4 months we've acclimated to the cold.

Thankfully beetle season appears to be over. Unfortunately the flying termite season is in full swing. Honestly, I can't tell you what it is like once the sun goes down! I rode my bike home today at dusk time and they were hitting my face/hair, etc. I passed by a friend who yelled "whatever you do don't open your mouth!". Good idea...I hadn't thought of that. Anyway, even with the doors and windows closed they still manage to find their way into the house.

Here's my makeshift flying termite trap

And here's one of those fancy sticky fly traps that Mike and Kelli gave us!

I do feel kind of sad for the little boogers but the alternative is too miserable (termites EVERYWHERE...on me, on my counters, in my sink....I really don't like them getting stuck in my kitchen sink!).

If we leave a light on outside then this is what it looks like in the morning underneath that light.

And this is poor Moof's waterdish each morning (located INSIDE my KITCHEN!)


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Beetle: It's what's for dinner.

No, not really. Actually it was a roach and we all partook together, being the sharing family that we are. Ok, ok...not a living, crawling, eeeeeeeeeeewy roach but a chocolaty gooey roach. It was Karis' 3rd birthday yesterday so her loving mother made her a roach cake. Between her fascination with the nasty insects and my twisted sense of humor (and lack of skill when it comes to baking cakes) I was left without any other good options! Now, if you are impressed (and I know you are) that I accomplished such a task just wait 'til you see this baby! Not only did I make a cake resembling a roach but I made a cake that in reality resembles a roach that has been stepped on a time or two! Can anybody else out there beat that? I didn't think so. Take a look at this gem... (Sidenote: do not, I repeat do NOT zoom in on this one!)

Isn't she a beauty? And I know several of you are dying to ask the question "did Karis even know what it was?" and I am proud to tell you that she did! Without any help or hints from us. But I must confess that the reason she knew had more to do with her interest in the 6-legged creature than it did my cake making skills. Yes, I will admit that much.

Can't you just feel the excitement?

Pure pleasure.

Those were actually pre-birthday party pictures. We began celebrating by having a mac-n-cheese supper. This was the first answer I received when I asked Karis what she wanted me to make. Her second answer was "eggs", her third answer was "rice and beans" and her fourth answer was "cake". I chose to go with the first answer since it was easy to make and the most appealing of the 4.

It was fun to have Mike, Kelli and baby Emily with us to celebrate! Mike and Kelli were with us for Karis' 1st birthday too!

Now onto the cake (she preferred eating the legs which were miniature chocolate bars)...

We had to get a picture (or 2 or 3 or 6) of the bib twins...

Yes, they love eachother.

Next came presents! Finally my child enjoys the actual present more than the wrapping paper! We have 21 pictures of opening presents but I'll spare you and only put one here.

Those were some Polly Pocket dolls that my mom sent her (and that she LOVES!) She calls them her Wolly Pocket toys.

She received two backpacks last night and they are both so cute! The first is one from her Aunt Cristy...

and the 2nd from Aunt Kimbosha (who picked it up for her in Guatamaula!)...

I love her backpacks! She enjoyed everything she was given. Well, she showed no excitement over the clothes 'til she got to wear her new ducky pj's and then play dress-up with her new play dress (each one given by a different grandma).

And since we all happened to be semi-dressed up (that's Jonathan's dressy t-shirt) we took a few family pictures...

My little girl isn't so little anymore (*snif snif*).

But she still lets me give her 34+ kisses per day! Hope that lasts a few more years :-)

Party over.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Girl's Week

It's been a girl's week here for Karis and me! I thought I'd be able to post about all of the relaxing and fun things we did yet it ended up being a busy week...but busy in a good way. I've tried to keep in touch with those of you who are in my bloggy-world life yet didn't actually get around to posting. Ah well, such is life. At least it hasn't taken me 2 months to write another post and then refrained from writing a post due to embarrassment (you know who you are yet you probably aren't even reading this so I'm actually wasting the time of other readers who this doesn't apply to).

Here's a glimpse into our girly week....

Oh wait, here is what happened pre-girly-week-weekend...

Churrasco! Our friends Mike and Kelli (with their "baby Emily" as Karis calls her) came to stay with us for a few nights before heading to close up their house before furlough (Jonathan went with them to help with that task). Of course for the guys this means an occasion to eat meat!

Since we had a break from the beetles and flying turmites we were able to eat outside. I love eating outside!

Ok, now onto our girl's week!

Sunday - First day without hubby and papai. Church and Sunday School which means mom tries to do something fancy with Karis' hair. She sat really still and all I had to do was turn a cartoon on and bribe her with potato chips!

Fancy shmancy hair

We were also invited to eat lunch at some friends that day. How nice! Hmmm...don't remember what else happened that day but it was pretty full as I didn't get around to working on my decoupage!

Monday - Post fancy shmancy hair day...

Lots of cleaning and laundry took place that day (which is our normal Monday). I can't remember everything else that happened but it was a pretty full day as well because I didn't get around to working on my decoupage. I did spend some time worrying about my upcoming root canal on Thursday. Oh wait, I'm coming back...I did go walking with my friend Angie for an hour and then she came over so that we could pray together. I am so thankful to have this time with her once a week!

Tuesday - A Brazilian friend came over to discuss options for us in ministry with orphans. There is an orphanage about an hour away that we're going to go visit sometime soon!

Other stuff happened that I can't remember (however I did manage to find an hour to work on my decoupage). I worried about my root canal a little more...

Wednesday - Had Portuguese practice/lesson with a Brazilian friend. This is really helping me in my Portuguese!

Made tons of Jabuticaba jelly that didn't turn out (actually I did this on Sunday but needed some pictures to show in the middle of this post). Hours of picking fruit, cleaning it off and then cooking it. I followed a recipe (I know you're asking that in your mind, my hubby!) but it still didn't turn out. And I think it cooked too long because it tastes like it has mint in it. Strange...sheesh, what a waste of time! Karis and I also went to some friend's house for supper which limited my time worrying about Thursday's root canal!

Thursday - Root canal. Besides having to have my mouth open and head tilted back for 2 hours it wasn't that bad! I only had a little bit of sensitivity in one of the roots so he didn't use any kind of anaesthesia.

Thursday night (ok, I can't remember which night) I told Karis to go wait for me in my bathroom to get ready for bed. One of our nightly rituals is to wash her feet, even if she just had a bath an hour ago (if you haven't lived in a region that has a dry season than it is difficult to imagine how much dirt and dust can affect your life! oh how I miss clean streets and carpet!). Somehow this little monkey managed to climb up into the sink herself. When I walked in she said "mommy, I'm washin' my feets!"

Friday - We awakened early to get a ride at 7am to go to a town an hour away (where our mission has an office). We're trying to get a guest house set up in the back of some of the missionaries home so I've been going over there to paint when I can! I like being able to help out in this way. Because we have a deadline now I painted from 8am to 5pm (without stopping for lunch but having a small coffee break in the afternoon). Whoever decided to originally paint those two rooms neon green wasn't thinking of me, that's for sure! One room has a coat of sealer and three coats of paint and still needs another coat of paint! The other room only has 2 coats of paint on it. Anywho, it was fun to paint all day but by the end of the day every muscle in my body was aching...which wasn't very good since Saturday held some unexpected activities...

Saturday - Apparently there was a horrific storm where we live on Friday while Karis and I were away (we only had some sprinkling where we were). We came home to this...

That is a huge branch off of our mango tree. Thankfully it only knocked tiles off of the guest house and didn't actually damage the roof structure! But did you notice all of the mangoes on the ground? Zoom in on the next picture (if you have time)...

If you've ever lived in a region that has mango trees than you already know that you can't just leave them there and let them rot. The stench, the fruit flies and the squish beneath your feet when you walk prevents one from being lazy. Hency, every sore muscle in my body was reawakened for a good ol' Saturday Mango Pick-up! I had Karis pose for this next picture but if the truth be told she picked up about 4 mangoes the whole day. That's ok, she's a better subject to have in my pictures :-)

Now it is Sunday and we're about to get ready for church. I just got a text message from Jonathan that they'll be back late tonight instead of tomorrow! I'm excited! Tomorrow is Karis' thirday birthday so it will be great to have Jonathan here the whole day. My mother in law had a great idea to make a paper chain with the number of rings signifying the number of days left 'til Karis' birthday. So she's been taking off one ring a day and loves it!