Wednesday, October 27, 2010

what we do

You might have noticed I haven't been blogging much lately.  I have been busy.  Summer was frenetic, now we're trying to get into a Fall routine.

Here's what busy looks like to us:
  • Learning Spanish at weekly classes and embarrassing weekly get-togethers with a sweet Guatemalan lady who speaks no English.  We spent three hours together today, challenging but our best day yet!!!
  • Learning about Indonesia every day! A few words here and there too, like "Silakan Makan!"  Please eat! (FYI, Marcella's family was unaffected by the tsunami over the weekend and is safe.)
  • Mommy and Me every Tuesday - going very well!!
  • Preparing for the College and Career class I teach at the homeschool co-op every Thursday - love this class and my gym class of high schoolers (not much prep for that though).
  • Changing diapers and picking up toys (thinking I should be making my children do this!)
  • Making everyday life an education for two little ones (we recently poo pooed the structured school time for fear our four year old would develop an aversion to school forever, we'll try again when he's older).
  • Cooking and baking like it's nobody's business!  Every other day I try to make either bread or cookies.  We're trying to eat local and healthy too, which means homemade soup or beans and rice most meals, much to the kids' chagrin. 
  • Praying and fasting, not reading as much of God's Word as I'd like...
  • Leading worship at church on Sundays, something we love to do.  We just learned a new song we can sing easily in any language.  We introduced it last week in Indonesian and English, and this week we're adding Spanish.  
  • Letting my eyebrows grow out, it's not as easy as you would think. They're almost back to their splendid bushy selves (circa 1989!).  I don't know, I'm just trying to be more natural, but I guess I shouldn't have to try, should I?  
  • Doing more and more virtual tours lately, like this one:
Play VisualTour
  • Laughing with Ben  every time we hear Juju cry then hear Z say, "Sorry Juju." and she says, "It's ok." then hear the whole scenario again three more times in a row.  Or when Juju says, "I tooted!"
  • Trying to be in the moment with my children, present, listening, positive....
  • Putting little hair "pretties" into a little girl's hair every morning
  • Keeping a list of a four year old boy's dreams of fun ideas like making a treasure chest (a big one!), making our own "Ring the Gack" game inspired by Dr. Suess and lots more as he thinks of 2-3 a day.
  • Dreaming about having the time or motivation to exercise or get back into martial arts.
  • Dreaming about having an amazing flower, herb and vegetable garden in the back yard. 
  • Ushering the chickens out of the neighbor's yard, naughty chickens!   
  • And taking lots of pictures and videos of our crazy children, chickens and dogs.  Here's a few:

So, the camera story got really painful and I've been dreading having to tell you, but long story short, I had to send back the used one I got from the UK and bought a new one from this store.  The price was definitely the best on the web, HOWEVER, a creepy guy from Brooklyn called me and tried to upgrade my camera battery.  He told me the one I was getting only lasted for a half hour and he could get me a four hour one for $72, no make that $50.  I didn't feel good about it and told him I would not be giving him any personal information over the phone, he said he already had all my information and he was the sales rep for bpelectronics' olympus department.  I told him no thank you.  He said, "What are you thanking me for?!"  I had no idea what to say.  Afterwards I looked up batteries on-line and couldn't find any battery options for my camera and when it arrived, whaddaya know?  It lasted at least four hours.  What a con!  I read some reviews of this store (since) and several people have gotten yelled at by a man with a Brooklyn accent.  I don't recommend the store, but am very thankful I got the camera I paid for and at a very good price.  I used a safe credit card for my purchase so I should be ok if they try anything fishy later on.  Let's hope!

After living with Debbi right after she spent five months in Uganda and now with Marcella, I've been given a two excellent live-in examples of how not to be rushed or too busy.  You'd think I'd learn, but I'm very slow at slowing down, you see.

Here's a quick update on Stumpy:  
She's finally growing feathers, and just in time for Winter!  What a good girl!!
peace to you.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My Great Grandma G

Here's a couple of Five Generation pictures taken with each of my little ones.  I have only taken the kids to Iowa one at a time as lap children, so they each have their own picture.

I don't mean to brag, but I have a VERY cool Great Grandma.  She's feisty and witty, she's tough as nails and she loves all of her family unconditionally.  She is so much fun to be around.  She's also very talented.  She worked well into her eighties on gorgeous quilts for each of her grandchildren.  You see the sewing kit beside her chair in the above picture?  Well, she taught me how to sew a button hole (with a tiny needle and thread) while I was there visiting last month.  I messed up and she finished the whole thing for me, because she can.  She broke her neck last year (she's all better now), and the first time my grandparents had to leave her alone after the accident they left all their numbers of where they'd be and how to contact them and Great Grandma said, "What do you think I'm gonna do?  Burn the house down?"  You can't spend too long around my Great Grandma without laughing, she really brings out the fun in life. I love that she wears Sketchers!    
I'm sorry, I'm boasting, I just think she's great (to Juju and Z she's great great!!). 
While I was there, I took lots of pictures and videos, trying to soak up every minute and make it last for forever. Here's one of the videos I took:

I also have a video of her telling the story of how her great great great grandma killed four Indians who tried to break into her house through the doggie door (turns out early settlers had doggie doors!), unfortunately it doesn't want to upload right now.  I've mentioned before about her Grandma who was royalty from Sweden who smoked a pipe and her Grandpa from Sweden who owned a fleet of ships.  She has wonderful stories I could listen to all day every day.

What I haven't told you is that today my Great Grandma turns 98 years old.  I don't think she minds me sharing...  

Here are some fun links to look at: 
A couple of my favorites: In 1912 the Republic of China was established, New Mexico became the 47th state and the Titanic set sail.  Oh, and Woodrow Wilson beat President Taft and Theodore Roosevelt in the general Presidential Election.  

 I hope you have a Happy Birthday Grandma!  
I know I speak for the whole family when I say, 
"We love you the mostest!

Monday, October 18, 2010

My Grandma J

Well, things are back to working again so I can finally give a proper birthday wish to my Grandma in Tennessee.  She thanked me for not posting any pictures of her, saying, "Perfect! You know me so well!".  So, out of respect for her wishes, I won't post any photos like the ones of her on this post or this one.

However, I will post some pictures she drew.  You see, my Grandma is an artist.  She can paint or draw just about anything.  She likes to look at a picture for inspiration, but the skills are all hers.  Her Daddy (my Great Grandpa Miles, who Z was middle named after) was an artist as well, just like my Daddy is.  

When I was a little girl, she'd send me large envelopes filled with pretty leaves, stickers and silly face drawings.  Now she sends recipes for me, stickers for the kids and drawings for them to color.  What she doesn't know is I keep them in a file with plans to take them all to the printers to make copies of them for coloring books for the kids (hence sparing the originals).  I love getting her drawings.  
(Sorry this one is a pencil sketch and hard to see.)
Aren't they precious?  I am so thankful for my Grandma who always gets excited and squeals when I call her. I used to spend a few weeks every Summer in Tennessee for the six years I lived in Maryland.  While there, she taught me how to make amazing pie crust, set the table (thumb joint from the edge of the table), label an envelope properly (you slide lined paper inside to get your lines straight) and iron clothes among other things.  She's the genetic root of my children's (and my) cute little snort when laughing.  She makes the world's best fudge and chicken madras.   She can sing harmony to any hymn in church, which I try to copy, but I don't read music and so just make it up.  She keeps her house immaculate, which I can't even begin to aspire to with two little ones right now, but she gives me inspiration and tells me, "Bless your home every day."  

She's told me a million times that she prayed for a good husband for me since before I was born and another million times told me how God answered that prayer through Ben...and she's right.  She's the first person I call when I need prayed for and the person I thank for teaching me to believe in the power of prayer.  

Thank you for loving me,  praying for my husband and soaking up our children as much as you can from far away.  We're looking forward to visiting you this Winter!  Happy Birthday again, we love you!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

May the festivities begin...and go on and on and on

This year, you might have noticed that I've featured a few family members on their birthdays, like my my Grandpa in IowaGrandpa in Tennessee, my mom (who I did not do justice to), and my Dad.  I only have three more biological relatives left that aren't cousins, aunts or uncles*.  All three are Grandmas and all three have a birthday in the next three weeks!  How fun is that!?

Well, our first celebrant is.......Grandma J in Tennessee!!!  Happy Birthday Grandma!  
I'm so sorry, I am having some technical problems and I can't access any of my pictures right now.  I've been trying all day.  Sorry, Grandma!!

I'm very thankful for you and hope your day was super special!  love you...

*My in-laws have adopted me and made me family in so many ways that I hesitate to say this sentence.  I do hope to acknowledge them next year as their many birthdays roll around so watch out family!!!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Anybody make underwear?

Right now I'm holding a sleeping Juju who is donning two little pigtails in back for the first time and my heart is melting.  She's like concentrated cuteness.  I'd take a picture but alas, the camera story.

I decided to go as cheap as possible and it backfired.  After spending weeks searching for a used camera that would work, I settled on a decent one, I thought, and took it to do a virtual tour and it ran out of memory half way through the house AND in reviewing the pics many of them had lines going through them.  So, I spent all last week searching for something that would do what I want and meet my affordability criteria.  I really want to get a used one.  Without any oaths or promises, I've been trying to only  buy used or homemade this year, I did search for underwear on, but they were $35 a pair!  Hence, I've had to make some compromises. I found the camera I wanted on e-bay, it's used, but has a guarantee, so if I have problems (within the first week) I can return it.  It's being shipped from the UK and I'm counting down the days till it arrives on Friday.  It's an Olympus Pen (e-p/1).  My Dad really encouraged me to get a DSLR for quicker picture taking.  I'm so tired of missing the best shots of the kids because my point and shoot cameras have taken so long to respond.  So, there you go, the camera story.  I will take a picture of Juju's cuteness on Friday.   For now you can enjoy one of my recent virtual tours...the million dollar house!  

Play VisualTour

He likes hunting, can you tell? It's a good house for a hunter.  Anyways, I don't do a ton of virtual tours, like 2-3 a month lately.  I had hoped that the income from that job would at least pay my school loan payment (our last debt, may it go away and soon!!), but since that's not always happening, I was excited when I was asked to do another job!  It fits me well and gets me back into the world of psychology.  There's a brand new girl's group home starting in Gnadenhutten, Ohio (20 min. away) that needed a contract licensed counselor to sign their paperwork, like intake, treatment plans, reviews, discharge paperwork and so on.  Thanks to a connection from my old Kung Fu class I got the job!  I helped write my own job description as Clinical Supervisor of the home and go out this week to help in the creation of the documents that I will at some point sign.  Others complete the paperwork, I sign it.  We're in the process of recruiting girls for the home still, so I'm really getting involved from the ground up.  It won't be a lot of hours either, but it'll be a good way to keep my resume up to date and not get too far out of the loop while I'm busy homeschooling the kids.

Speaking of which, I should really get up and do some school with Buddy.  Later!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Weekend of Squeezes

A couple of weekends ago Juju and I got on a little plane and flew out West to see my grandparents in Iowa.  My middle name is the same as my grandma's there (Irene) and Juju's middle name is the same as her great great grandma (Eleanor) who was also there for us to soak up. All the greats can get confusing, so for the sake of this article, I'm going to reference them as from Juju's perspective.


Can you tell that we soaked each other up?  We did and how.  I got videos of  Great Great Grandma telling stories about her Great Grandma (to be shared soon!) and pictures galore as you can see.  I think we all hugged as much as physically possible in a three day period.  Juju ran around like an only child and danced and sang and strutted her stuff because she had the perfect audience who clapped when she paused.  She took to her Great Grandpa quickly and led him around by the finger wherever she willed.  She had a special game she would play with Great Great Grandma at the dinner table where their pointy fingers would run along the table edge until they would meet then they'd bounce up into the air, then they'd laugh.  Great Grandpa and Grandma would play peek-a-boo with a toy froggy at the table too.  Dinners were my favorite part for lots of reasons, the food was so good!!  
We decided to celebrate Juju's birthday a week early together and Great Grandma made a perfect angel food cake with pink icing.  Juju eyed it all day and was SO excited about her party.  After we sang to her and she blew out her candles (which, of course caused us to applaud wildly), I began to cut the cake.  Juju had a look of horror on her face and shouted, "Don't cut the cake!!!" She reached for the candles (which she had already licked) and stuffed them back into the cake and with her hands tried to push the cake back together to fix what Mommy had done.  Under some pressure from soft hearted grandmas I agreed to relight the candles and let her have another go.  We repeated the previously stated lighting and clapping and this time I insisted on cutting the cake afterwards.  Juju, ever stubborn, protested, calmed down to open presents, but did not eat the cut cake.  She did partake of some ice cream however.  

We had a wonderful visit and can't wait to go back!