10/31/09

Hold on Dorothy!!


Last Wednesday we had a crazy fierce dust storm. Even many Mexicans here have said they've never seen one that strong. The wind was intense! It felt like our poor trailer was going to pick up and blow away. The wind did pick up every bit of the fine, dry dirt that is notorious here and blew it around. The above picture was taken while I was desperately removing my clothes from the community clothes line. They came off dirtier than they went into the washing machine! A tree actually broke behind me almost giving me a heart attack. Fortunately I was about done and rushed back to the trailer away from the straining towering trees.


The kids were having too much fun with the family car! :)


I did in fact take a picture of dust. Is that strange? The dust/dirt blew into our trailer at an alarming rate all day. The above picture is about 10 minutes worth around where my coffee maker was sitting. I swept up dirt like a mad woman all afternoon as we huddled in a hot stuffy , dirty trailer. Four filthy kids piled onto my bed and watched movies most of the afternoon. Nathanael went out on a fire call for most of the afternoon (fire + fierce wind = not good). He came home looking like a coal miner. I should have got a picture of that! The kids had dirt in every orfice of their bodies by the end of the day. I even made them irrigate their sinuses with our neti pot (bought for our trip to dusty Baja).

The next day the wind was gone and the clean up began. Lots of shredded tarps, broken awnings and dirt drifts inside buildings....similar to snow drifts but , well, you know. I cleaned every inch of the inside of our trailer. One benefit of a small home is it doesn't take too long to clean.



This is a little glimpse of our neighborhood. A lot of the staff live in old donated permenantly parked trailers.

We are so happy here...despite our new intimate relationship with dirt.
Contentment and peace are two words I would use to describe how I feel about being here. Life isn't easy but it is good. I know this is where God wants us to be in this season of our lives. I am excited to see what He brings across our path this winter and how He uses this experience to mould and stretch us. Service and obebience to His call on our lives (whatever that may be) will always have some aspect of struggle and it will always cost us something. When we move past that struggle into true surrender and submission we consistently find it brings an indescribable peace and joy not found when we strive to build our own life and happiness. That is not saying even in the centre of God's will for you life you will not meet challenges and even heart ache occasionally, but you can feel that peace and joy in the middle of it all.

During this time our focus must continue to be on the One whom we love and serve or our actions are worthless. God has been reminding me of that this week. The last months have been so busy with preparations, travel, vacation and adjusting to life here that I have put my relationship with Christ at the end of the priority list. Like any relationship it must be nurtured, not because he will leave me, but because my heart will turn hard and cold very quickly. Anyone can be charitable but it takes the spirit of God in a man to make the outpouring of his life a blessing to others. In every mundane task, in every grubby job and unnoticed, ungamorous act of servanthood God is building in me the person he created me to be....and I have a long way to go. I will live in obedience and leave the outcome of that to God. We don't serve because we have to, we don't serve because it earns us favor with God...we serve because it is the outpouring of being filled with unfathamoble love and mercy.
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La Playa


It has been beautifully warm here since our arrival. It will get a lot cooler as winter approaches but we are soaking up the heat for now. The nights are starting to cool already though. North Baja has such drastic temperature changes from one hour to the next.
Check out that sand!
My boys were in exploring heaven.


Last Sunday was visitation day for the kids who have family members that come and visit them. For the kids who don't have visitors it can be a very sad day. I'm sure there are lots of broken little hearts. The staff are encouraged to take these kids out for some fun.
We went with a group of other staff ( and filled our car with extra kids) and went to the beach.
Its called sand dollar beach because it is filled with sand dollars. The kids had a blast collecting them and our yard is now full of these strange little creatures.


We all had a great time playing in the surf. There were permanent smiles stretched accross the faces of all the girls...including my own. It was a beautiful sight.


Nathanael is quickly becoming like an uncle to the kids. They love his playful childlike antics. They just soak it up!

He is working in the construction dept. Renovating and building at the mission will keep him busy. I am mostly "just" a mom and now a homeschool teacher while I'm here. It has been an adjustment since the kids formerly went to public school but we are all figuring it out together. Everything takes a little longer here, just keeping us all in clean clothes is a part time job! :) We help out where we can when needed. As time goes on I may find another niche here but I'm content being a mom to my own kids and a "tia" to the others.

The kids and I are spending our free time getting to know and build relationships with the kids here. Its not something you can measure at the end of the day but it is an important part of what our family does here. We come here to love on some kids who really need some loving.
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Life at the children's home


Here is our new home. After SO MANY days and miles of lugging this trailer around we were very relieved to finally park it for the winter. The plot was full of dried up thorny weeds when we pulled in so we spent the first afternoon landscaping. The kids took ownership right away and did a majority of the work.


So far Aili's favorite place to be is playing in the "cuna" (nursery) with the babies there. There are a lot of 2-3 year olds there for her to entertain. We can only go hang out there during certain hours of the day though. I had a good baby fix with a 3 month old there. I've been missing "my boys" lately. Maybe its the black hair and big brown eyes of the little ones here that remind me of my former foster babies. It felt good to feed and love up a little one again.


Adjusting to being here has been quicker and easier for Nathanael and I this time because we have been here before and we know a lot of the kids and staff already. It will be more difficult for our kids because they remember very little , if anything about living here. The language barrier will slowly but surely dissolve though ...at least I hope so. We are going to put Aili in the mission school here at the orphanage. She is willing to give it a try and I think immersing her completely will give her a headstart in learning language and building friendships. Roman will continue to school with me in the trailer. I will probably do some homeschooling with Aili still to make sure she is keeping up acedemically. We'll give it a try anyway.

The longer we are here the more accepting and less timid the children are with us. We are frequently bombarded with "abrazos" (hugs). :) Nathanael is poplular with the kids...I think its his playfulness. Male role models and attention is so good for the kids here.

Last night we all joined a bunch of the kids in a sponateous soccer game. It was SO much fun!! I haven't played in ages and it really
helped build comraderie with more of the kids.



This is Roman helping bag up dried peaches in the food distribution building. The ministry we are working with is a childrens home but it does a lot of outreach work in the surrounding community.
For more info on their ministries in Mexico go to
www.ffhm.org
I could describe it all ,but the time is ticking and costing me pesos. I am in town at an internet cafe right now.
Since I can't blog from our trailer I won't be blogging nearly as frequently as I would like. I will try to get to town every week or two though. I've been posting pictures on facebook though (which I can do from our trailer) so if you want to keep up with us that way come find me :)

Its just not the same though. I miss my blogging community! :(

Its probably for the best though since there are far more useful ways for me to spend my time than on the computer.
Hasta luego amigos.







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A visit with old friends.


This morning we left ventured to a nearby town to visit some friends of ours. We met and became good friends with this family 4 years ago when we were here last. This little girl was born while we were here last time. She is beautiful!


Silas entertained himself with some of their toys. They live in a modest but adequate home by Mexican standards. It is definately different than any homes north of the border but persective changes quickly here...afterall we're living in a camping trailer ...everything seems spacious. :) They live in both a truck camper (without the truck under it) and a separate wood room. They are hoping to get electricity to their place next year. We enjoyed a visit and even brought home some homemade tortillas!


Dispite the language barrier these boys (who were both 2 years old last time they met) became good buds. I guess, like love...goofiness knows no barriers. :)


After our visit we all went out to a local taco stand for some fish tacos. I am in Mexican food heaven here! I ate three of them...no joke. I'm going to have to pace myself. It was a nice change from orphanage cafeteria food (as much as we appreciate it).

After lunch my family dropped my off at a Mexican version of starbucks :) for some coffee and computer time. Ahhhh...tacos, latte and blogging utopia.
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Disneyland!


I'm back! Well sort of. We have been in Mexico for over a week now and although we do have highspeed internet here the access if very
limited. Everything Blogspot has been blocked (every unmonitered website). Rather frustrating but I understand the need to protect the kids and teens at the childrens home. If I want to blog I have to go into town to an "internet cafe" which is hard to find the time alone to do. I made it here though and after an initial half hour desperately trying to make my own computer work with their wireless I think I finally have a connection. My wonderful hubby dropped me off and took the kids back....hopefully he and Silas are catching a nap. My hubby went out on three fire calls last night. He is on the bomberos y rescate team here (fire and rescue). It will be another crazy night tonight since it is Dia de los Muertos here.

Anyhoo....going backwards...these are a few photos of our 2 days at Disney land. It was great.


Silas LOVES Mickey Mouse and has been waiting for months to see him!



It was a wonderfully exhausting 2 days!!
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10/19/09

Medieval dinner



We made it to Anaheim on Sunday afternoon and decided to surprise the kids by taking them to a Medieval Times dinner. We had seen a brochure for it and new that it would make an incredible memory for them. Roman has fancied himself a noble knight for years now and he and Silas regularly practice their fencing skills so I knew they would love it. Aili was so nervous when we went it...not knowing what to expect was hard for her. It was cute. I was a little worried about what our over tired, over travelled 2 year old would get out of the evening and I envisioned myself hanging out in the lobby with him while everyone else enjoyed the show. He was mesmerized for the whole 2 hours. He didn't move a muscle. He may not have even blinked.



Silas looking a little shell shocked.
They served us each half a roast chicken, a spare rib, half a potato and garlic bread in courses. The kids weren't sure what to make of the fact that we had no utensils. They caught on quick though.....I told them to just eat the way they like to at home (before I bark at them about their manners )and they'd fit right in. The food was amazing...and I'm not usually that big a carnivore. Even Silas ate an alarming amount of my chicken. It may have been because the serving wench said that it was dragon meat.



The show kept the kids on the edge of their seats. There was a plot, sword fighting, battle scenes (non gory), jousting tournament, and horse shows. The lighting and effects were great.






It was an amazing evening and one that will surely be a highlight of this trip!
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Baja Bound - day 2 and 3


Since I have fallen so out of date with my travel updates I will try to do a quick overview of Friday and Saturday.
Friday (day three) began at Nephi ,Utah where we had parked for the night at a truck stop. We were on the road bright and early and headed for Boulder City Nevada. This was significant since we had booked an actual rv spot for that night...showers!

We stopped for gas and what should have been a $50 fill up ended up costing us $750. We noticed that our trailer tires were cracking and bulging in weird places. It didn't look good at all. The cheap factory tires just weren't holding up after a couple years of use. We decided having our tires blow up on the middle of the freeway would be much more costly than getting new tires so we pulled out the old credit card and bought new tires. It could have been worse and we were glad to get on the road again. Entertaining 3 kids in a desert drainage ditch while tires were being put on was a feat of parenting endurance and creativity.

We drug our dirty,weary selves into an rv park around supper time and proceeded to scrub down the trailer and the car. We have left the last traces of winter and the road salt it comes with officially behind.
Next came washing clothes and washing kids.



The next day, Saturday, we took the day off of travelling to go tour Hoover Dam. It was something the hubby has always wanted to do so we can now add it to the list of "been there, done that". It was pretty impressive actually. I had a killer headache the whole time and later realized I had skipped my morning cup of coffee. By late morning all I could think about was getting myself to the cafe and gift shop for some overpriced coffee. Pathetic don't you think? I guess as far as addictions go coffee is something I can live with. :)


That afternoon, after an unsuccessful attempt at getting an overtired 2 year old to nap in a trailer , we went to Lake Mead.
It was gorgeous. The temperature was in the 90's Fahrenheit and the water wasn't too cold. I hate cold water! We The water was so clear and the rugged landscape around us was breathtaking.

We feel pretty blessed to be swimming outdoors in October!

Roman spent the whole time exploring and collecting shells on the hot beach practically oblivious to the lake. That is SO Roman ,the treasure hunter. Silas the fish just loved being wet and couldn't get enough of the water. Aili was back and forth between the lake and the shell hunt. At the end of the afternoon we had a big bag of shells to "bring home". Lovely.

I discovered at the end of our "rest day" that hanging out in an rv park (with nothing for kids to do) and vacationing with kids is a whole lot more exhausting than buckling them into the backseat and travelling. I think the fact that we are attempting to live in a trailer that is not yet unpacked or organized and is cluttered up with all sorts of donations and extra stuff made it a test of patience for me. We were all anxious to get back on the road the next day for some recovery time. The fact that we were heading toward Disneyland may have had something to do with it too. :)



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10/18/09

Baja Bound- day 2





I'm a little behind on my trip journaling. I finally have access to some really fast wireless. I am sitting in our trailer at a rv park in Anaheim California! I am surrounding by rv's, palm trees....and my sleeping family. I am going to stay up to make use of the internet and get some clothes washed for tomorrow. Disneyland!!

To back -track now....hopefully I remember the last few days its all a blur of bathroom breaks, bad coffee and road signs.

We got up bright and early Thursday morning. Our trailer was 5 degrees when we woke up. Good thing the kids slept in their clothes. As you can tell they are all wearing the same travelling clothes they left home in the day before.
Montana was amazingly beautiful. The kids were in awe as we drove past the Missouri river and the mountains. I heard Aili gasp as she was looking out the window and say quietly "Thankyou God for making all this....and thankyou that I can see it. " That made all the miles so worth it right there. They are going to remember this trip.
We passed into Idaho and made use of one of the many "Rest Stops"....something we very much appreciate about the United States. They know how to accommodate travellers......that and they have really cool paper toilet seat covers.




Since we did such a long day the first day we decided that we could afford a few sight seeing stops along the way. There is very geologically interesting area in Idaho. I can't even remember what the place is called but it is miles of lava rock that is heaved, cracked and creviced. At a rest stop we went on a 3/4 mile walk to get a better look and stretch our legs. The kids were like horses let out of a starting gate.






By afternoon we had passed into Utah. We had a funny moment when we turned off the freeway into a small city. This exit had all the amenities, gas, fast food, Walmart etc. We were travel weary and looking for some good coffee (you can only drink so much gas station coffee).
Nathanael asked the girls behind the counter if there was an espresso stand or a Starbucks nearby (He's a Seattle boy after all). The girls found him amusing apparently because they broke into giggles and told him no. It wasn't until later when we noticed a definite lack of coffee stops that we remembered we were in mormon country.


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We can't drive past Salt Lake city Utah without stopping at Cabela's. The outdoorsman's disneyland. The kids enjoyed the animal displays and looking at all the hunting, fishing and camping gear. Silas is fascinated by polar bears for some strange reason and spent a lot of time staring at the big one on display. We had a great meal there as well. It was a really nice deli style restaurant and it was super cheap. Allergy boy ate soda crackers that came with my tortilla soup.

That evening we pulled into a truck stop...a small step up from a Walmart parking lot. Still no heat, water, or power but the temperature was considerably warmer and the sound of diesel motors idling next to us was soothing.

The kids did great on day two. We logged in 12.5 hours of travel. No car sickness, no potty accidents (which if you aware of the challenge Silas was to potty train this summer you will fully appreciate this small victory), and only one brief crying jag. No , it wasn't me. Silas had about a five minute episode of crying "get me out of here...get me out of here...get me out of here!". Poor guy. Good thing mommy had a bag of tricks, a "fruit snack" was enough to reset the mood.

We did have an incident with the bike rack though. In the Cabela's parking lot Nathanael noticed that it was breaking....actually the trailer was breaking where it was attached. So off came the bikes. We had to do a lot of dis assembly, and rearranging but we managed to fit them in the back of the SUV...which is a miracle in itself! I'm so glad we noticed before we arrived at our destination for the night without our bikes.

Thankyou again for praying for our travels. We have made it to Southern California safe and sound. Wednesday we will be heading south down the Baja of Mexico. Please keep us in your prayers that day as I get nervous just thinking about that curvy, narrow mountain highway....our no car sickness stats might change that day.

10/17/09

Baja Bound - Day 1


This is what we left behind.
Actually the highway was pretty good until we were about an hour from home and turned south. Its was horrible! Nathanael said at one point "only an idiot would be out on this road"...I replied "it takes a special kind of idiot to attempt pulling a trailer out on it!" Self depricating humor helped lighten the tense atmosphere a little.
By the time we hit the snow we were in the middle of no where...literally. No towns for hours. We averaged about 40km/hr for the next 5 hours. We prayed and white knuckled our way through. We made to Medicine Hat Alberta ready to call it a day but the highway and weather cleared up from there. So on we went vowing to get as far away from winter as possible.


The kids doing their school work in the car. It worked great since there isn't a whole lot of distractions or other things to do.


Finally in a city after 5 hours of no mans land.
The trailer was a little worse for wear and so were our nerves.



Silas was a great traveller considering we drove for 14 hours the first day. I came stocked with lots of cheese sticks, raisins and crackers.
He was happy just playing with his toys. Around noon, once the kids school work was done I brought out a goodie bag for each of them. I made them up after a trip to the dollar store. The bags had a fruit snack or little treat, a few little dollar store toys, a comic book, maze or activity book etc. It gave them something to look forward to each day and offered hours of entertainment. We saved the dvd player for times when we really needed it....that way they didn't get bored of it.

We called it a day at about 10pm in a Wal-mart parking lot. We discovered shortly after arriving for the night in northern Montana that our propane furnace was only going to work while plugged in...for some reason we didn't have enough battery power to run the fan. At least thats our suspicion. Since we were just parked in a parking lot with no power, water etc. I turned on the stove for a few minutes to take the edge off, bundled the kids up and got a few hours sleep. The trailer was freezing in the morning!...literally.
Fortunately we got as far south as we could the next night and stayed much warmer. :)
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10/10/09

First ever product review!!


Welcome to my first ever product review! Actually I just really needed a break from ...well...everything else I should be doing right now.
While I was browsing through Costco a couple weeks ago I came across this box. My neck and shoulders were holding weeks worth of stress and tension and since personal massage therapists are hard to find in my house I couldn't resist doling out money for one of these. I have also discovered that too much time on the computer wreaks havoc on my neck. The thought of a thermotherapeutic bag nestled comfortingly around my tense shoulders sounded heavenly. I ripped open the box and tried it that very evening.
My first thought upon opening the box and pulling out my magic bag was that the term "natural" actually meant "bag of horse food". I think it would have been more accurately called"sack of oats" instead of "magic bag". I suppose it wouldn't have the same appeal though. I also realized that the only thing "magic" about this bag was that it somehow lured me into paying $20 for it.
As the instructions instructed I put the bag into the microwave for 4 - 30second intervals. It would be much more convenient to pop it in and set it for 2 minutes but I guess burnt oats don't have much relaxation value...aroma therapeutically speaking. The warm sack of oats smelled not completely unpleasant but somewhat familiar. It reminded me of porridge with a hint of barn and the musky after tone of the bottom of a grain bin.
As I nestled its welcoming warmth onto my aching neck I could feel my muscles starting to relax. The wonderfully relaxing feeling was slightly more pleasurable than the mild itching that ensued. Nothing an allergy pill didn't fix...then I was back to relaxation heaven.
As I contemplated the price I paid for my sack of oats and my mind drifted to the smells of harvest and bins full of grain I realized that I could have saved myself $20. All I would have needed to do was grab a pillow case and fill it with one of the many types of grains available to me. Considering oats are the cheapest grain on the market I also wondered at the price of the bag. For $20 they really should have filled it with wheat...or maybe flax. Someday maybe they will make a gourmet magic bag filled with lentils. Although I think I would feel a little guilty wearing a sack of lentils that could feed a few hungry families in India.
I do like the idea of a flexible bag that wraps muscle soothing heat around my neck and shoulders. Although, it would be easier to relax and imagine I was in a spa in some exotic location if it didn't remind me of feeding time on the farm. For some people feeding time on a farm is an exotic novelty though....so for you city types I totally recommend wrapping yourself in the Magic bags "natural" aroma. You could picture yourself feeding chickens, spreading straw and feeding horses. ahhhh.

10/8/09

first snow.


I realized after posting the last batch of pictures they were somewhat deceiving. Notice the tank tops and shorts. We had a record breaking HOT September! It was amazing weather for harvest. A blessing to all the farmers here...a cruel joke to all the kids who started back to school the week summer finally arrived. We finally were able to use our new air conditioner and pull out the shorts...after a summer of fleece sweaters.

A couple weeks ago the weather flipped like a switch. It's been COLD! Winter is officially here. Nasty wind, rain, sleet, and sub freezing temperatures have been our norm lately. Today we had our first dusting of snow. Its not very often that we get green grass and snow in the same picture.
The kids were thrilled that they didn't miss the snow....I was considerable less thrilled.

Here are a list of things I will not miss about winter:
Plugging in my car so it will start in the morning. (digging around in the snow trying to find the extension cord and then attempting to unravel the stiff frozen coils.)
Scraping car windows.
Soggy, snowy wet mittens piled up on the floor.
Toddlers who loose their mittens and freeze their hands.
Driving on snow and ice.
Blizzards...(not the DQ kind)
The kids taking more time to get dressed to play outside than they actually play outside.
That moment you become aware of those tiny hairs inside your nose because the humity in your breath freezes tiny icicles to each one of them. (you totally have them too, you have just never tried to breath in -40 degree air!)
Dry staticky air.
Being cold!


To be fair there are a few things I like about winter:
skiing (which I rarely have time and $ for anyway)
my fireplace
looking out my window at a winter wonderland.
.....hmmmmm....
I seem to have run out.
I guess I don't like that much about winter after all.

I'm outta here!
Headed for the cool windy dusty Baja...but at least there isn't any snow!


Its not everyday that you get to see a picture of someones bathroom.
This is the bathroom in our new "house".
The reason I'm sharing it is to show off my husbands handy work.
This rv bathroom came with a very rv-ish tiny mirror cabinet. As such the 'wood' paper was already peeling. The whole thing fell off the wall twice last camping season.

The sink cabinet is original but the upper is my new cabinet. No pealing and lots more space! To fully appreciate his skills you must know that the door/mirror is from the original cabinet (the only real wood involved). The stain matches perfectly.

I'm excited about the shelf space...every inch counts.
When your house is this big.


Here is a tour of my kitchen/ dining room/ living room/ Romans bedroom.
The door at the back is the bathroom and the little bits of brown curtain at the back left are two bunks.
Nathanael also built 8 shelves into existing cupboards making better use of every bit of space. I found woven cloth baskets that fit perfectly on top of the wardrobe. One is my "linen closet" and the other basket is for all Silas' clothes. Today we installed a privacy curtain (sewed by my mom) that goes across the wardrobe to the bunks. Rather important as the kids get older. One of my favorite features of our trailer is that it has a big wrap around dinette instead of the usual four seater bench style. It seats all five of us with room to spare.
If you are wondering where we sleep, I am sitting on my bed to take the picture. We have our own "bedroom" in this trailer! There is a little accordion door that shuts at the foot of our bed. Our last trailer had the kids bunk right above us....wise cracks are running through my head right now but I think I will leave them there.
The couch behind the dinette folds into Romans bed.
And the other two sleep here.



Daddy also made his girl a custom shelf at the foot of her bed to keep her treasures and toys on.
Our big house is getting close to ready for its new temporary inhabitants and our little house is packed and bursting at the seems waiting to hit the road. My husband is convinced that when we try to leave the driveway the hitch will pull right off. I guess we'll find out. :)
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