Friday, April 18, 2014

Heard Around the House #12

Silas - "Dada, you're the best ever!"
Dada - "Why ya think that?"
Silas - "Because you're smart!"
Dada - "Well why do you think I'm smart?"
Silas - "Because you eat asparagus."
Whenever Eden is coloring at home she holds her paper up and yells, "Shelley!" I think she thinks that is Spanish for "look here". She hears the kids at church say it when they finish their papers. She doesn't know it's my name.

 Eden is so loving. Out of nowhere she regularly looks at one of us and says, "Love you, Dada!" or Love you, Mama!"
Jimmy picked me up a small shopvac. My kids haven't been around vacuum cleaners. They keep asking me if they can play with my "orange thingy". It is blowing their minds! That thing is pretty handy. I am loving shopvacing all the bugs out of all of my screens!
We have been working on our grocery store behavior. These 3 hooligans have come a LONG way! I am so proud of them! They are big helpers now.
Our grocery store in Santa Elena is in a mall that was built a couple years ago. It is really struggling to get going. Most of it is still empty and the little stores come and go on a monthly basis. I really like going there though because the grocery store is super clean and the people are really polite. They also usually don't have loud music blaring… now I sound old. I was surprised to walk out when we were finished shopping and see something new! It took me a second.  
I told the boys to go look close at that new statue. They saw the cool tool belt, so they went right up. Just when they got close he moved to shake their hand. They jumped back! Their mama laughed and laughed! Eden was NOT amused. She didn't cry, but this silver mime might be just a half a step above a Chic-fil-a mascot in her book. Once Silas figured out what was going on, he went right up to shake his hand! 
Jonah finally went too. This "statue" was epic! They are still talking about it. It was so hot, the poor guys paint was dripping off onto the floor. My boys had silver hands.
Jonah and Silas are still at the age where bandaids are as cool as your boo boo. Jonah was showing his daddy his band aid.
Dada - "That's gross!"
Jonah - (mischievously) "I know, it has boo boo on it!"

The other day my kids helped tell the story about the Good Shepherd in my Sunday School class.
{The sheep, the thief, and the Good Shepherd}
We rehearsed a bit beforehand. It's a good thing because Eden was not happy when the thief tried to steel the sheep:
I was making biscuits the other morning and must have added too much milk because the dough was a lot runnier than normal. All the kiddos were sitting at the counter coloring.
Mama - (Scrapping the sticky dough off the counter) "This is a mess!"
Silas - "Mama, you just need a little more practice making biscuits!"

It has been crazy hot here lately. We may are or may not all cram into the blow up kiddy pool when we get desperate.
Here is an afternoon when the kiddos were swimming. It is one of our more sophisticated conversations!
I regularly catch the boys helping their sister. It is SUUUUUPER sweet. 
Eden on the other hand thinks irritating her brothers is a sport. She OWNS those boys. 
Jonah is very artistic. He is kind of inside the box, and that box is going to be extremely tidy and there are going to be guidelines that all are expected to follow. Silas is very creative… no where close to the box. He has a huge imagination and an outfit to go with every new idea:
Their two personality kind of balance each other out in a beautiful way.
We have lots of conversations about them being twins and about when they were inside my tummy at the same time. We looked at photos the other day from when they were born and in the NICU. 
Jonah - "What was on us when we were born?"
Mama - "Goop."
Jonah - "Why did you eat goop?!"

Here is one last video of the frog that has adopted us:

Kids are always messing with my guitar pick at church. The other Sunday mine was missing and I had no spare. Jimmy immediately pulled an old card from his wallet and cut me a temporary one. I thought it was super sweet! Jonah and Silas thought it was cool too. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Light in the Darkness

Saturday last week was our church's activity to some caves in Santa Elena. The Actun Kan caves are behind the house we lived in, our first year in Petén. I like going over there, it feels all nostalgic and familiar. 
We've been a little concerned that we kind of spoil our church people and make things kind of too easy. There needs to be some sacrifice and commitment on their part. I probably didn't explain that very well, but anyway moving on. We advertised this activity for a month and told them that it would cost $2 per person for anyone 8 and older. In order to go you had to sign up and pay ahead of time… possibly a mind blowing concept for Baptists in any culture. No one signed up until the last service before this activity! 
And on the way to the caves someone called Jimmy and asked if we were still going to the caves that day, haha! Needless to say Jimmy did not turn around and go back and get them! 
We have been to these caves with a couple of teams. You can explore the large part without getting really messy. They used to have lights, but not anymore. You have to bring your own flashlight. It is pitch dark with lots of bats. You can also walk/crawl all the way through to another entrance. That takes about an hour and a half and you get FILTHY. It is a real team building exercise because you have to lead, follow, and trust each other to stay together and get through it.  Our people were pretty nervous, just in this part of the cave. They kept commenting about how they were concerned someone was going to get lost and left inside the cave! They still really wanted to go though. The darkness is pretty unnerving at first. 
At the entrance is a list of shapes to look for. I thought it was a lot of fun. I could totally see how the formations got their names. You can see how extensive this cave is from that map too. 
Once we were inside Jimmy had us all turn off our flashlights and cell phone lights. He shared a devotional from the Psalms (57 & 142) from when David was hiding out in the cave. Then we sang several songs together. Those are some beautiful acoustics in there!
The dampness of the cave made it refreshing compared to outside, but it also made it pretty slippery. There was a lot of helping each other going on. It ended up being a really great activity for some of the people from our core group! 
{Silas and Juan}
 I think everyone was happy they came. No one had ever been before. 
{Silas, H, & Jonah}
 They ended up giving us a group discount for the entrance fee, so Jimmy used the extra money to buy pizza for everyone afterwards. 
 It was a nice time of fellowship. 

This big guy was waiting at our door Sunday night. Eden went out with the boys to feed the dogs and started crying when she tried to get back into the house and it was standing in the doorway. She let out a big squeal and ran pasted it to safety as fast as she could. Last night I went to fill up the dogs' water bowls and found him swimming in one. I let out a very similar squeal. Jimmy and the boys of course think it's funny to scare the girls!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Women With Purpose

I haven't posted about our ladies ministry in several months. I'm permanently behind. Every 7 days everything stops though and we have a day of rest/family day. That day is tomorrow! So yippie!

We needed a name… anything that can bring more identity and belonging. Our women's ministry needed all that, so this is the name we chose:
{Women with Purpose}
We have been studying the purpose of God's design when he created men, women, and marriage. Here it is up on the wall in our ladies room. It is made out of foam paper and hot glued on the wall. Jimmy bought me one of those fancy digital paper cutters for Christmas, so I waited till I had that thing to cut those letters. This logo has been up since December and I still only have a photo of it taken with my phone… permanently behind.
We meet the third Sunday night of each month. Each month we switch back and forth. One month we have a recipe that ties into the lesson somehow and the next we have a craft.
{Eden's favorite months are the craft ones!}
I thought it might be difficult to come up with recipes because everything has to be made on a stovetop since most people here don't have an oven. Also, the recipes have to be reproducible, so all the ingredients need to be things that they would normally buy or have available in their local tiendas. 
Soups are popular here. Honestly most meals are a whatever you got all thrown into a large pot together with a little chicken bullion. Around November there were a lot of gourds being sold around here, called Ayotes. 
 I always thought they were pretty, but I never cooked anything with them before. Once I cut one open and pureed it, it turned out to be pretty similar to pumpkin (only the ayotes shaped like the one below), so that's what we did. We made pumpkin soup.
This tied in pretty good with the lesson when we were celebrating God's purpose for men. We made a whole bunch, tried it ourselves and then served some to the men's class next-door. They were happy!

Each month I feel a little more comfortable teaching these ladies. I really am praying that God would use these times to knit us all together so that we could encourage each other in our walk in a non-judgmental way. 
Over half of the ladies can't read. That is something I want to find more resources on, teaching people who grew up illiterate. I think their mind receives and organizes information differently and I really want to get better at presenting truths in a way that would be more helpful to them. For now I try to use a lot of wordless visuals. I want to do better at reciting verses together too. If you can't read, how would you ever memorize scripture on your own. With the kids on Thursday nights (half of whom can't read yet) we memorize a verse a week, during class, so I think I want to start doing that with the ladies. That would be part of God's Word that they could always have with them. 
Here is a before picture of our ladies room, when we first found this property:
 You can see it keeps getting better and better. My mom made curtains for our ladies room when she was down here. That helped a lot.
 Once we all get in the room together I usually get in a hurry and forget to take photos… I'm going to blame that on Jimmy because he is constantly making jokes about my class going too long! Here are a couple photos I did take of our class in February:
That month we were celebrating God's beautiful purpose for women, so we made flowers. Some chose pins and some chose hair barrettes. 
 I've seen several of these flowers worn since then! 
 When you think of it, please pray for our ladies ministry. I want to use my time with them wisely. Please pray that God will bless our moments together and do a work in all of our lives. Thanks!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Family Traditions #24: Eden's 2nd Birthday

"Family traditions give identity and belonging to each member." - James Dobson

Everyone around here has been really sick except for Silas. We have had all kinds of stuff… messy stuff! It just keeps coming. Poor Eden was sick the entire week of her birthday. She couldn't keep anything down for days. We were really worried about her. Here she is right before she got sick: 
We had already been talking about her birthday, trying to get her excited. She had told me that she wanted a "baby cake". The girl is never without an opinion. I love that about her! We were going to have a big "baby doll" themed party, but she wasn't really up to it. She hadn't had any energy. So we decided to have something a little smaller and postpone it for a couple days. 

The actual day of her birthday she was still pretty sick, but Jimmy really wanter her day to be special. Jimmy and the boys get their haircut at a new little salon in Santa Elena. Eden happened to go one time and the ladies there fussed and fussed over her. 
They braided her hair and she loved it! (She hardly ever sits still for her mommy to do her hair, but I guess that's usually the way it is.) So that is what they did, the boys went for haircuts and Eden to get her hair done! 
 Happy little E telling me about her hairdo:
 Even after postponing her party, the day before she still didn't have an appetite… until she saw pink cookie dough batter!
Probably not the best thing to throw into an empty stomach, but IT'S HER BIRTHDAY!

The morning of her party, on her own, she asked for pancakes. That's a good sign! Since she is 2, this is the closest thing we could get to a birthday video interview.
I had found her birthday present a couple months before in a paca (thrift store stuff from the States). It was $7 and it looked just like mine when I was little that a friend of my parents had made for me (minus the bears). 
 Jimmy spent a lot of time refinishing the wood and I made her a mattress and bedding. 
I also made her a blanket to match her baby doll's. It's silk jersey and that super soft lamb-like fabric, so she loves snuggling with it. 
I found all kinds of bright florals in that silk jersey in a fabric store in Guate. Her room when we finally finish that part of our house, it is going to be bright! 

Here is what happened to that pink cookie dough:
I had made pacifier cookies and left them on the counter overnight for the royal icing to dry. Well… I didn't realize it, but evidently we have a mouse hiding out somewhere in our house. (Better than the usual rat, but still annoying.) I woke up and found all of them nibbled on and trampled. Eden saw them on the counter that morning and asked me for one. She did NOT understand when I said no since she knew I had made them for her and she cried and cried. All of those went into the garbage. 

Here's Eden's baby cake:
They don't sell Rice Krispies here, so I used Cheerios. And it turns out my kids really like Cherrio/Marshmallow treats. We are going to have to make more!

I ran out of patience icing to coat the cheerios to make them extra smooth before I wrapped them in fondant, but it was almost midnight by that point. Anyway this "baby cake" served it's purpose. Eden was very happy. Of course Eden asked to eat the bow… and the boys, the eyeballs! 
I love this picture, because you see happy E the afternoon of her party and then her daddy in the kitchen helping me. He always is right there with me, doing whatever crazy thing I ask him to on birthdays. I love him! 
And this was my favorite thing, possibly Eden's too:
Jonah and Silas kept giggling, "There's a baby in that watermelon!" 
 I showed Jimmy a picture and he carved it up for us. (He hates Pinterest, haha!)
Here's the rest:
{Diaper party mix and the plan B last minute pacifier cookies}
{baby doll size pizzas}
{Marshmallow rattles, Eden loved these too!}
The lilies in our yard flowered on Eden's birthday!
{Grapefruit punch}
The dolls on the counter were the
party favors for the girls that came. Pattern found here.

We invited a family from our church that have 2 little girls that have been over at our house before and I knew Eden really enjoys them. The mom made Eden that adorable basket that she has in her hand! Little girls love little things to put all of their treasures in. I thought it was so sweet!
Eden loved her baby doll bed. It took her all of 2 minutes for her to decided to get in it herself! 
I think she had a good time at her party!
I'm really thankful for the sweet family that shared that time with us. 
Later we skyped with the grandparents while Eden opened up her presents from them.

We are so thankful for this little girl! Whenever I think about her I praise God for giving us such a wonderful gift. We love having her in our family. She is a complete delight! She is sweet and loving with just the right amount of spunk! She is super girly and still loves wrestling with her brothers. She holds her own too. She loves it when we paint our toenails together and she always wants to sit on the  counter and help me make supper. I enjoy all of the moments we share together. I have no idea why God chose to bless our family with her, but I am extremely grateful!
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