Monthly Archives: February 2011

When did it happen?

February

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March
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April
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May
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June

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July
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August
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September
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October

November
December
January
Febuary

Seriously? When did it all happen? She’s a year old. The baby that came as a big surprise, that taught me I could have unmedicated posterior labor, the one who loves me and clings to me more than any other baby I’ve ever had.
When did she get so…so…big?
Today we celebrate her first birthday. She is one year old and we love the girl to pieces. I’m thankful for her health and her life with us…here’s to many more years with our Alexandra Joy!
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Simplifying the toy situation

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Princess Cinderella in her shoe box house, sitting on her duct tape couch. The serving fork? That’s Prince Charming!
We have three sets of toys here:
1. Fisher Price Little People figurines and houses
2. Baby dolls and clothes (this includes their American Girl dolls as well)
3. Dress up clothes and shoes
With a few odds and ends here and there (such as two princess dolls, and maybe some puzzles…) that’s pretty much it.
I have found that the less my girls have to play with, the more they play with what they do have. Such as boxes, duct and tape, and forks. 🙂
I have a few specifications for the toys I buy our girls as well. All flexible of course, but over all it would seem that the toys that adhere to these following points are the ones that stick around and get played with the most.
1. No batteries required.
2.No flashing lights, annoying songs, or repetitive sounds. (This rule founded by Daddy and strictly enforced by him as well. He doesn’t like annoying sounds! Ha ha!)
3. No small pieces. (Huge piles of Polly Pocket shoes, dresses and accessories are sure to make me break out in hives.)
How do you handle toys in your home?

Our Routines

God has given us the wonderful opportunity of living in a country where flexibility is key. There are not many rigid schedules here, everything is “tranquilo”, and I really do like this. The culture I grew up in is very similar, it is not an unfamiliar concept.

Small children however, do need some sort of structure. At least mine do! We have found that routines work way better than schedules in our household. Schedules require hour by hour commitments… for example, at 3 p.m we will have reading time! But what if at 3 pm the fruit vendor knocks on the door? Or your neighbor wants to know if you can drink terere with him?
We find that routines work best for us, they allow us to be more flexible and fit others into our lifestyle. So we don’t know when exactly reading will happen…but we know it will be after naps.

Our bedtime routine really works for us. I have three great sleepers, and they have been since they were 6 months. Training babies to sleep through the night definitely works for me (I. Need. Sleep. Period.)
We send them to the potty.
They get a drink of water.
Jammies get put on.
A Bible story is read.
We ask them to tell us one thing they are thankful for.
We pray.
Nightlight is turned on along with some soft classical music.
They are tucked in, each with her own special blankie….
and that’s that.
Bedtime usually happens around 7 p.m…but on really long days it could even be as early as 6. Weekends are much later.
So, no matter what time the clock says, the routine is the same, and this really works for us. We are not tied to the hands on the clock, in keeping the with our flexible routines we are more open and available to adapt to the needs of others.

His gifts are good!

Oh my, but I am a baby in February. A whiny, ungrateful baby. I can handle the heat of Paraguay in December (Christmas distracts me!), I gather up strength for January and make it through okay…but February? The shortest month of the year? I use it as an excuse to avoid all sorts of things. Laundry, cooking, and playing outside with the girls…those things I know are okay to cut back on. But grace? Kind words? Loving my neighbor? Is high heat and high humidity (day after day after day) a reasonable excuse to put those aside?

No.
And so every day for the past week I have been preaching short sermons to myself about praising God, giving thanks, and showing patience to my girls. Since I am a sinner I fail miserably…but I try again and again. To put aside love of self and replace it with love for others. To put aside complaints and replace with praise and gratitude.
I will be thankful because I am blessed.
Yes, there is culture shock and yes it’s hot and yes I’m tired.
I have culture shock because God has graciously allowed me to live my life in many countries. It’s hot because it’s summer. The season of popsicles, pools, and cook-outs. All gifts from God.
I’m tired because I am the mother of three small girls who are healthy and energetic and constantly learning.
So today I am thankful because God has filled my life with His blessings.
It’s messy, it’s hectic ,and yes, hot, but it’s beautiful and God will be glorified through it.
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Watercolor heart doilies

I realize it has come and gone…Valentines Day was nice around here. Our wedding anniversary, (7 years, wow!), I made a few heart things with the girls to hang around the house.

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How was your Valentine’s Day?
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Grandma Bodin’s Coffeecake

I don’t know who Grandma Bodin is, but I’ve been using her coffeecake recipe for years.

Quick, easy, lots of cinnamon, streusel topping. Perfect for a brunch with friends, or quick grab and go breakfast on a weekday.

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2 C. flour
1 1/2 C. sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 C. butter
2 eggs
3/4 C. milk
1 tsp. cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a cake pan with butter.
In large bowl mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon. Reserve 1 cup of this mixture for topping.
Add eggs and milk to remaining mixture. Mix well.
Pour in pan and sprinkle with reserved topping and bake.
This recipe is from the New Tribes Missionary Ladies of Venezuela. It’s one of my favorite cookbooks because it has recipes for mapuey, and lapa meat. The cookbook has been around the world, Venezuela, Costa Rica, the United States, and now Paraguay. The recipes seem to work everywhere, and why wouldn’t they? They were created or tweaked by ladies who were used to traveling all over the world. There are no recipes in here calling for “a box” of this or a “package” of that. They all use ingredients that can be found (or flown into) the deepest jungle or bustling city. Perfect for my life.
What is your favorite, have to have it, cookbook?

Shortbread Cookies

Recipe adapted from Apples for Jam
7 tbsp. butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
A few drops of vanilla extract
About 2/3 cup of your favorite jam (we used strawberry)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Have a large sheet cake pan ready, I lined mine with wax paper.
Put the butter and sugar in bowl and mix together till well blended. Add the flour and baking powder and mix them in. Add the egg and vanilla. Mix until compact and smooth. Place in zip top baggie in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, or until dough is firm enough to roll out.
Divide your dough in half. Roll out one half on floured surface, gently place in your baking pan. (Drape it over your rolling pin to carry it over to the pan)
Spread jam on that half.
Roll out other half of dough, and place on top of jam. Pinch the edges closed.
Bake for about 15 minutes, or until it begins to brown in areas.
Let cool in pan for about 5 minutes then cut out shapes with a cookie cutter.
We started with a snowflake shape since that is the only cookie cutter that got left out of the Christmas box. Oops.
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But then I got impatient so I just cut it all out into squares.
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They still tasted good that way. Perfect with a cup of tea.
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I’ve been asked.

I’m asked often how I get my kids to eat their vegetables.
They love vegetables.
So, here’s my big secret.
I get my kids to eat their vegetables by giving my kids vegetables to eat.

I don’t know if that is why they eat their veggies or not. Maybe I’ve just been blessed with three non-picky eaters?
But in case I’ve done something right, here goes:
  • Offer veggies all the time. For snacks, for meals, for teethers…
  • They must have at least one bite of everything.
  • They are never, ever, ever allowed to spit something out of their mouth. Unless of course the food is rotten and I didn’t realize it. Obviously, that hasn’t happened yet.
  • If they spit something out, I pick it up again and put it back in their mouth. Yes, I am a mean mother…but one, maybe two times of having to swallow “spit up” food and they never do it again. (Children who spit out perfectly good food…well, that’s a pet peeve of mine. Don’t get me started.)
  • Fresh, crunchy veggies are yummy. Soggy, gooey over-cooked ones are not. Offer the healthy variety.
  • Be gracious. Abbie only has to eat a small spoonful of beans when we have them. Elena does not need to eat a heaping pile of spicy food, but they should eat some.
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How do you get your kids to eat their food?
(Brocoli is probably a choking hazard or something…I don’t know. Rest assured that I was watching her closely while she teethed on her broccoli.)

Crazy Lady

Growing up on the mission field I knew many first year missionaries. One in particular that I remember meeting when I was really young. I remember that she cried about ants. There were ants in the kitchen and this made her cry. I thought this odd. Ants are everywhere. Every kitchen is crawling with ants. Since I only knew Venezuela that was a fact for me. My young mind didn’t comprehend that where she came from, kitchens didn’t have ants.

I thought she was crazy. Who cries about ants?
Now I realize she wasn’t crying about ants. Not really. She was going through culture shock and it just so happened that on that particular day the ants were getting on her last nerve.
No, she wasn’t crying about ants. She was crying because she was lonely, homesick, confused, scared. Maybe she was crying because she was convinced that under all the intense heat her brain had actually turned to mush. She may have been crying because some days breathing felt like a chore and that’s a scary feeling. She wasn’t crying about ants. I’m sorry I assumed she was crazy, I didn’t know any better, but looking back I wish I had helped her kill some of those ants.
I am now the “crazy lady.” Just yesterday I cried….about ants. It was one of those Bad Days where this new city and I were not getting along very well. It has nothing to do with city and everything to do with me. I’ve gone through it before and I’ll do it again. It passes, things become normal and everyone survives.
My first and worst to date experience with culture shock was living in the USA while going to college. It was horrible and I’m surprised I have any friends left from that year.
In order to deal with this culture shock I’ve adjusted a few things, simplified and made changes.
1. I will take a nap every day. I call them my “anti-meltdown naps” This means no exercising for the time being.
2. I will hire someone to clean my kitchen every day of the week. It’s not very expensive here and worth every single penny.
3. I will go to bed early.
All you ex-pats out there that read my blog, I’m curious, what have you done in the past that has helped with your transition into a new culture?
(Because this city we are in is not very Paraguayan…it’s like a hybrid culture. A mixture of everything. Kind of like an MK. I think I’m going to like it here.)