Friday, August 31, 2007

Homeschool Stuff

I said a while back that I would post soon about some things that have been made clearer lately concerning the raising of our kids. Remember my questioning whether homeshooling would be the best thing for our kids here in a culture/country we are trying to fit into...where homeschooling is basically nonexistent? Well, that same week a couple of my friends just happened to mention a lady in their blog...a lady that they really look up to and have actually gone to see speak. I googled her and was led to a blog that she has. It was so awesome reading her stuff. It just really reminded me of why I wanted to homeschool in the first place, what my whole philosophy on that really is.

A few years ago, before I was married, I felt sorry for little homeschooled children. :) Isn't that funny? But, at that point, the only homeschooled kids I knew had been a little socially inept, just a little odd, the kind of people that drop their jaws in utter shock at anything said that is the least bit unholy...you know them, I know you do. I didn't want my kids to be like that. Plus, I honestly loved my public school experience, esp. the social aspects of it...the clubs, the sports, coming in contact with all kinds of people (students and teachers)...it was great. I wanted my kids to have that much fun. That is the up side of sending your children to school vs. homeschooling (although they can still have experiences like that, just in a different way if homeschooled).

But, right before we started having kids of our own...well, God just changed my heart about all that. And, of course it helped that I met some really great homeschool kids, young and old, still being homeschooled and those who had already gone to college.

I have come into contact with many misconceptions about homeschooling though that are very interesting. Here are some:
1. people homeschool when they are dissatisfied with the schools in their area...although this is sometimes true, it is not always the motivation (mostly it is not)...definitely not in my case
2. people homeschool when they want to shelter their children from ungodly influences...although, again, sometimes true, not always the motivation...definitely not in mine (I seriously can't stand when someone drops their jaw in shock if someone cusses or someting...so silly to me)...I want my kids to be exposed to all kinds of influences and circumstances, but don't feel like I have to send them off to school for that...they can get those kinds of exposures everywhere they go; and, for heaven's sake...if we train them in the way they should go and entrust them to God, we don't have to "shelter" them (we are their covering and protection, but I think you know what I mean)
3. people definitely homeschool when they go to a foreign country...although popular among some missionaries, this is not always the case; I think I've mentioned how I would be much more likely to send them to school here than in the states...just because of the "we want to be Brazilian as much as we can" thing

Those are the main ones I can think of. But, none of those apply to me. So why do I feel God has really placed this in my heart? What is my motivation?

Basically, here's the motivation for me to homeschool...I want to be with my kids. :) I feel like I had them, I want to raise them too. I want all that emcompasses...teaching them, playing with them, mentoring them, modeling for them how to do chores and work, training them up to love God and live for Him with all their little hearts, watching them to see what their gifts and talents are and encouraging them in those/facilitating growth in those areas, etc. We want to be the major influences in their lives, the ones they spend the most time with, etc. You know us...we are very social people. It's not like our kids will not have other influences and people they spend time with. But, my heart is to really raise my own children...in every area.

Will we always homeschool? Not sure. At this point, that is what I want to do, what I feel God has called us to. But, we are always open to God leading us a different way. I mean, we're talking about 13-15 years for each child...that'll be a long time, right? Who knows what God might lead us to do in that amount of time.

Am I of the philosophy that everyone should homeschool? I'm not. It is a very personal decision that each one has to pray about and come to a conclusion about on their own. There are definite advantages to each kind of educations available...public, private, or home.

Grady has been begging to "do school" for weeks now. So funny. So, every afternoon when the girls take a nap, we "do school" now. We read books, do Memory games, color, draw, do online computer educational games, count, sing, play together...just whatever. It's really fun, but of course this won't last forever, esp. with the resources we have right now. We don't have that much stuff to work with here at the house...and there are no libraries here. So, we've decided to get a pre-k curriculum for the kids. I had always planned to wait until later rather than sooner to school our children...I was thinking of even waiting until Grady was 6 to start any kind of schooling. But, the curriculum we are getting is basically just a bunch of great books that I will read aloud to the kiddos. They LOVE to be read to, so it won't be like traditional "school"...busy work at a desk...important esp. now while they are so young.

The Brazilian school shedule goes from Feb. - Nov., with July, December, and January off. So, we will start the curriculum in Feb. Grady will be 4 and we will probably let Hadley follow along. She will only be 3, but like I said...the curriculum we are getting is mostly books...reading books aloud to them. There are 4 workbooks...Grady will probably be able to start the workbooks this year, but Hadley will probably have to do them all next year. We plan to spread this curriculum out over 2 years. Then when Grady is 6 and Hadley is 5 we will start the K curriculum. We will be able to do lots of things for them together, some not. I'm excited about what we are doing though...it will be so fun and I know they will love it. They love to be read to. This particular curriculum will be great too because it comes with so many great books. With no access to a library, this is a great way to build our own library that can be used by all of our kids. Woohoo!

We are using the Sonlight curriculum. From what I've seen over the years, I love it already. We will also be getting a few great things from Timberdoodle. They are a great resource for even if you aren't homeschooling...they've got great games and such that you can play with your kids.

Anyhoo, that is what is going on here as far as that goes. Just wanted to share my thoughts and heart behind what we will be doing. We're really excited.

Oh, and the blog I read was the blog of Sally Clarkson...she has a ministry called Whole Heart Ministries if you want to google her and read some of her stuff yourself.

And now it's high time for some pictures...

Asa's first watermelon...can you tell she loved it? That's right, just like a good little Saline offspring.














Daddy's naked little helpers.











Look at those ringlets.
















The kids each had one of Asa's hands and were walking with her. They were all just belly laughing so hard they could barely stand up...so, so cute. Notice the super clean car in the background.
Grady putting Hadley's shoes on so they could go to the playground.
The kids with their presents we brought them from our little "vacation" in Brasilia...the comb and shower cap from the hotel. :) They loved their gifts.







"Helping." Joel had just put her hair in little pigtail balls. Really cute.















Asa loving playing in Grady's bedding. She loves to hide and play peek-a-boo with us.









Grady's special hat. Yep, a pull-up.
















I had just braided Hadley's hair for the first time. She makes a cute little Pippy Longstocking.















She's got the nose-scrunch down. :)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Eliane

That's eh-lee-ah-nee, with the accent on the 'ah.'

Before we moved down here, it was suggested to Joel by our pastoral care of CTEN (our sending agency...yeah, they provide pastoral care too along with our sending church...really cool) that he make sure we have some help around the house. This is very, very common with anyone who moves to another country, at least Latin American ones. Every missionary I've ever stayed with through the years has had house help.

Well, I'm not one to argue with that advice. :) Some people have a real difficulty letting go of doing their own cleaning and cooking. Yeah...not me. :) When that was suggested, I very humbly listened to my mentors...I am very teachable after all. :) No, seriously...it really does help to free up missionaries to do their jobs and also helps the local people of the community to have work when sometimes normally they wouldn't. Although only common among the elite in the states, it is common here...and I'm glad. :)

When we came down to visit Asas last year, we met Eliane. She works for many of the Asas families and she told us then that when we come down, she would work for us. She is so great. She is a very strong woman...very strong in her faith, but also very strong otherwise. She's probably the hardest working person I've ever met. She is such a self-motivator. She has to be here in this house since I can't tell her what I want her to do. We don't have to though...she just comes and gets right to work. :) She is raising 2 teenage daughters on her own now...their father passed away pretty recently. She is funny (can't wait to be able to really talk to her...I know she will be a fun friend too) and very, very sharp. I'm not sure if she is book smart because I haven't really been able to have a conversation with her. :) But, I'm sure she is. I do know that she has more common sense though than most people I know. She is just so bright and on top of things. For instance, she's given us several pieces of advice about things that we don't know about...the pots and pans here have what is called INOX on them. She warned us against storing food in them since it can be dangerous. She just knows her job very well and is very good at what she does. She has also worked for another English-speaking family for several years, so every now and then she'll surprise me with a little English phrase. :)

We are so very thankful for her help. It frees me up to work on Portuguese (Eliane is very ready for me to learn :)) or catch up on laundry or just play with my kids. She has been coming twice a week since we got here to Brasil. She comes on Tuesdays and Thursdays and today started staying with the kids while I go to Port. classes...that way Joel can go on to Asas and not miss 2 whole 1/2 days a week. And that just gives our kids another opportunity to hear only Portuguese and pick up on some stuff. Funny...our friend was watching Eliane hold and talk to Asa the other day and remarked that it will be interesting to see if Asa passes the other 2 kids up in speaking Portuguese since she is hearing it nonstop from such an early age.

Thank you Eliane!! We are so thankful for you and your help! And here is Eliane doing what she does...working hard, helping others.



Monday, August 27, 2007

Just Happenings

Haven't posted in a few days...just wanted to update a bit.

First of all, I started Portuguese classes last week. I go on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30-10:30 in the morning. I really like my teacher. She is actually an English and Spanish teacher (to Brazilians). She is a native though, super duper smart, and really knows her stuff as far as languages. I'm not allowed to speak English while there, so it gets a bit challenging, since I don't know Portuguese. :) But, it's good. It forces me to use what I do know (not that I don't get alot of that at the store or wherever, but that's the way a good foreign language class is done)...plus gives me plenty of good practice for the game of charades. :) As my teacher said, "Communication is much more than just talking and language." Case in point...when we first moved here, I went down to the store around the corner from our first little house. Magali's aunt owns it and so I had already met everyone that worked there. Tatiane was there that day and I had no idea what the word for onion was, but that's what I needed. I didn't think they had any, but wanted to ask. Tatiane had no idea what "onion" in English was, so I ended up acting out cutting an onion and crying. She got it immediately. Anyhoo, Portuguese classes are going just fine, although my mind is exhausted after just those 2 little hours from only speaking a language I don't really know and trying to understand everything she says to me.

The weekend was fun. We just ran errands on Sat. morning. We got invited to a little birthday party here on the seminary campus for a 4 yr. old girl. So, after lunch we went to the playground to the party. It was really fun...and there are some really fun people that live here. Me and Joel watched "Facing the Giants" for the first time that night...a cute movie, but an even greater story that is behind the making of it.

Sunday morning Joel went to a couple of different churches that we've already been to...just to check things out again. We were really ready to find a church...esp. Joel...I mean, I can't understand anything anyway, so it's not that crucial for me at this point. :) For lunch we went out to eat at this super great buffet where the kids eat free...nice. It is a Chinese-Arabian restaurant and it's really fun. Anyway, Marcelo and a friend of his, Cristiane, met us there and then came over for ice cream afterwards. Marcelo was one of Joel's friends growing up...it's really fun to get to hang out with him these days.

Sunday night we went to the church that just might be "the one." We really, really loved it. So, of course we don't want to jump the gun and say we found our church, but it is definitely a possibility, so we are really excited. We'll keep you posted.

Today a lady came to our house for lunch. Kristin asked her to speak at the weekly Asas devotional this morning. Steve and Kristin and their family, along with Gretchen, came over to visit with us and eat some yummo food. She was very interesting. She and her husband came here to Brasil in '58 with their 3 children under 3. They worked with Wycliffe, living with a tribe along the Amazon. She's got plenty of stories. She now teaches in nearby Brasilia. It was great meeting her.

That's about it. Me and the kids are about to go up to the playground. At the birthday party the other day, they (the moms) told me they all usually go to the playground everyday at 5:30. So, it's cool...me and the kids get 2 in 1...not only do we just get to hang out with people and make some friends, but we also get to practice our Portuguese.

Do you have any questions for me? Anything you are wondering about that I haven't covered? Just let me know.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Annoying People

Why do people have to be so irritating? Seriously.

Yesterday I called Texas to inquire about Asa’s name change and what that would entail should we choose to do that. I spoke to a lady who was helpful, but yes…she was also the annoying one.

Our conversation went something like this…
Me: "Hi, I was calling because we are thinking about changing the way we spell our daughter’s name and I was wondering what a change like that would entail…how we would go about doing that and such.”
Lady: "How are you thinking of changing her name?"
Me: "Well, we are just changing the spelling of her name actually."
Lady: "How were you thinking of doing that?"
Me: "How? (I was genuinely confused...that is actually what I called her for…to see how to go about doing that) I’m not sure what you mean How?"
Lady: "What changes were you thinking of making? Would it change the pronunciation of the name?"
Me: "No, it would be pronounced the same way. Her name right now is spelled A-S-A. We would be changing it to E-I-S-S-A."
Lady: "Well, Ma’am, that would change the pronunciation."
Me: "Um, no we would be pronouncing it the same way."
Lady: "Well, E-I-S-S-A is pronounced 'ee-suh', not 'ay-suh.'"

At that point I was a little taken aback. And I actually verbalized what I was really thinking, “How are you the person to decide how that is pronounced?” I wasn’t trying to be rude, but I was truly, truly curious.

I told her that E-I-S-S-A is actually pronounced 'ay-suh' too, esp. here in Brasil, which is the reason we are thinking about changing it. She proceeded to tell me that, “Well, your daughter wasn’t born in Brasil.” Um, o.k., thanks for that bit of information. I wasn’t aware, since I was the one who actually pushed her out of my body. I’m glad that is cleared up for me though, where she was born.

Anyhow, it was just very annoying. Apparently if the name/spelling change is going to change the pronunciation it makes a difference…but only if the person is over a year old. Since Asa is only 10 months old, that bit of information doesn’t even apply.

I was still appalled. I thought about it all night. Seriously, there are tons of different spellings for tons of very different names. I actually brought up that point and said that it is the parents who are the one who say how to pronounce it. I mean, hasn’t everyone heard the story of Pajama (paj-uh-maw, accent on the paj part)? :) I mean, I should probably change the pronunciation of my name, per the "super pronunciation lady" from Texas. From now on you should probably call me 'mich-on' instead of 'mish-on.' Of course, that means that all the Michelles of the world will need to be called 'mich-ell' instead of 'mish-ell,' right?

If it were an issue for Asa (if she were older than 1), I would have to call back and argue (I’m pretty good at arguing a point in customer issues…sometimes I think I would’ve made a good lawyer). I stay calm and nice, but firm. But, basically it is asinine to so matter-of-factly say that E-I-S-S-A is pronounced ee-suh. Does that mean that weigh is pronounced wee…I don’t think it is. Is reign pronounced reen? Um, no. What about vein? Veen? I don’t think so, Tim.

Needless to say, if you can’t tell, I was annoyed. Did I mention that? It even annoyed Joel, but we just had to laugh about it and move on. Joel actually made a really funny joke about it which made me really laugh and feel not so perturbed. I can't actually share the joke, but it was funny, trust me.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Secret Weight Loss Plan

I wrote this on August 2nd, about 5 days before I started feeling really bad and found out I was pregnant. So, I've slacked up alot lately...no running, etc. But, I'm feeling much, much better now, much to Joel's delight. I feel like I'm already in my nesting period this morning as opposed to the lifeless exhausted, nauseated blob of myself the past couple of weeks.

Anyhoo, so here is what I wrote about what I was doing at the time. Now that I am feeling better, I intend to go back to this...at least some of it. I really would like to try to stray away from the 45-50 lb. weight gain that I usually experience with a pregnancy. It is encouraging to me though that I do actually lose it between the pregnancies...however short that in-between period may be. :)

Alright, now for the post...

There’s nothing secret about it actually, but first a little Michawn weight history…not that you actually care, but I wanted to record it for myself and when I read things like this that other people have written, I enjoy details. So here goes…

After high school I always fluctuated between 120 and 130. I finally, after college, leveled out at 130 and pretty much stayed there.

When I got married, I actually started eating 3 meals a day for the first time in my life (1. Not my mother’s fault, I just always hated breakfast, 2. Who eats 3 meals a day in college?, 3. After college I worked nights, so my eating schedule was all whacked). It was a combination of that and probably just finally getting to the point in my life that I couldn’t eat whatever I wanted and not see some results of that behavior, but I began to fluctuate higher. I decided to do something about it when I hit my max. of 140. I started eating differently. Even though I had always exercised regularly, I also kicked that up a notch…began exercising more often and also more intensely (for instance, when running I started running 3 miles instead of 1). I got back down to the 130 mark.

I continued to fluctuate a bit, but stayed right around 130. My first weigh-in when pregnant with Grady was 134.

I gained 55 pounds with Grady. Yep, that put me at 189. Good thing I'm a decent height (5'8")...otherwise, it would've been really scary.

Four months after I had Grady, I was back down to 147 (just watching what I ate and running). That is when I found out I was expecting Hadley.

I gained about 45 pounds with Hadley, which put me around 192.

I did Weight Watchers (since I was still nursing and needed some guidelines) and lost back down to 138 after Hadley. I hit that weight right before the holidays. After the holidays I had gained a few pounds back. Then I found out I was expecting Asa (when Hadley was 11 months old) and I weighed in at 145 at my first pregnancy weigh-in.

I think my last weigh-in when pregnant with Asa showed me at 194. So, that means I gained about 49 pounds. Lovely. :)

After Asa (and with all my births) I immediately was about 20 pounds lighter. I leveled off at about 173. Then between Asa’s birth in October and February, I lost down to 168 without really trying, but just stayed there.

The month of February we fasted meats and sweets. I lost 13 pounds, which put me down to 155.

Then the travelling started…and the eating special foods and at special places that I wouldn’t get to have/do for the next 3 years. Believe me, I don’t regret this. I gained back up to about 163 though.

Right after we got here to Brasil, I decided that I was going to go without sweets again and really watch what I eat. That worked great for a week, but it just wasn’t practical at the time. We were still out shopping every day for the house which meant that we were grabbing a bite out. I knew as soon as I got settled into a house though that I wanted to get busy trying to lose the rest of the Asa weight. So, that's what I did. I started this July 15th.

Here it is…the way to ensure some fast weight loss:
1. Sweets – don’t have any…this includes sweetened cereals, juices, sodas, etc.
2. Slacking – don’t do that; I’ve exercised every day…I usually run about 2 miles a day, sometimes more; now you don't have to run 2 miles, or even run at all; a good brisk walk (30 minute 2 mile walk) is what is most recommended as good, efficient exercise.
3. Seven – I don’t eat after 7 o’clock. We usually try to have supper at 6 anyway, so even if I’m a little late and we don’t eat until 6:30, we’re still done by 7.
4. Seconds - Don't eat any; and it's also important to make sure you only have a serving fit for one person on your plate in the first place; exercising really helps me with this (1. tends to really curb my appetite, 2. I am more motivated to not pig out when I do all that work of exercise).
5. Water – I drink at least 64 oz. a day; also helps a ton with my appetite...when I'm not doing this and I truly feel hunger, it is lots of times because I haven't drank enough water.
6. Whole foods – This is just the way I think is best to eat, but esp. when I’m trying to lose some weight (after baby), it’s just better…no packaged foods, nothing with hydrogenated oil or high fructose corn syrup in the ingredients (this rules out many, many things).


So, I had lost down to 154.5 pounds when I found out I was preggers. So, only about 9 1/2 pounds over what I was when I became pregnant with Asa. Not horrible. I only had about 15 more pounds to go til I was happy, although about 20 would've made me really happy. :) But, well...we'll just postpone that until after April now I guess. :)

And just because visuals are so good...


Before kiddos. I know...I really regretted this perm the minute I left the salon. This was sometime in the fall of 2002 I think.


With my friends, Judy and Esther, on a visit back to Longview. Fun stuff. Again, always around 130 pounds. I think this was in the summer of 2002.







Now, if this doesn't get your attention, I don't know what will. Ha ha. Totally scary picture, huh? This was taken when I was in labor with Asa. Lovely angle. :)













A family picture taken for CTEN (our sending agency) when Asa was a couple of weeks old.
Taken 2 or 3 weeks ago. I had just reached 155 that morning. :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Mama Priscilla

Well, Priscilla has now left us. She boarded a plane last night on her way to Estados Unidos (that's the translation for United States here in these parts). She will be getting back to her house in Beverly, MA (Boston area) soon probably...not sure what time exactly she was arriving.

We were so blessed to have her. She was SUCH a help to us as we got all settled in here. She played with the kids, read books over and over to them (remember, we don't have our stuff yet...there's not a huge selection that we brought in our suitcases), swung in the hammock, took them to the playground, went for walks, made them food, and just basically loved on them. And, she taught Asa some great tricks. She worked with Asa alot, getting her to take her first few steps, getting her to wave, and she also taught her the "indian" thing where you hit your hand over your mouth while you yell (that's hard to explain typing it out). Not to mention doing a ton of dishes for us here. Mrs. Pam, she probably needs a break from the dish-doing for a while.

My kids have the same problem me and Joel do...they call the roll. So, lots of times Priscilla was called Mama. When Priscilla would make a fuss over it, the kids just loved it...and would then continue to call her Mama just to mess with her. :)

Anyhoo, a big, huge, gigantic thanks to Mama Priscilla for coming and staying with us and helping so much. Hopefully you had a great time (we did) and a great experience. We'll miss you. Go eat some Baskin Robbins in my honor. :)

In the airport about to board the plane in NYC.











The end of the 9 hour flight to Brasil.
















Priscilla had a few fun photoshoots with the kids. I have to say here though that although Grady is such a handsome little boy, he would've made a mighty pretty little girl too.















































The kids saying goodbye to Priscilla last night. Hadley wasn't up for getting in the picture at first.














And then she was all smiles again.
















About to board. Saying goodbye.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Shots and Sadness

Yesterday was a horrible day for me. Today I am feeling much better of course, but here is just a sample of my journal from yesterday. Also, please pray with me...you'll know what about after you read.

From journal:

Well, we've been here in Brasil for over 2 months now...seems like a lifetime though really. I still don't doubt at all that this is truly where God has us...not at all, not for a minute. But, at the same time, man, my flesh is hating it here. That's just butt-honesty.

It's not just one thing...it's everything...everything about everyday life. Today provided me with just one other thing, one more example (big one) to go along with many, many everyday examples of the same kind of thing...that makes my flesh scream, "Let's get the heck out of Dodge...and NOW!!"

A couple of weeks ago we all went to get shots. The kids all got, among other things, a TB shot. I was very unfamiliar with this type of TB shot. I've always gotten TB skin tests before, but this wasn't like that. First of all, I hated the place we went to get them done. They wouldn't let me hold the kids to give them their shots. We had to hold them down on a table...literally hold them down as they were tensing up every muscle in their bodies, screaming like mad, and looking up at us with a combination look of frantic fear and the questions, "What are you holding me down for? Why are you letting them do this to me?" Mind you, I'm not one of those moms that can't stand to see my children in any kind of pain. I mean, I don't like it, but if it's for the greater good, fine, let's do it. But, I am also all about doing it the best way, the hopefully least painful, most comforting way. This was not done here.

Anyway, of course I didn't understand any of what was being said about shots. I was obviously not in on the discussion of what they were getting and why, any side effects, or lasting results. Therefore they got this TB thing. It wasn't until we were leaving the shot place that it popped into my brain, "Gosh, I hope they didn't get any of the shots that causes that scar."

The scar I was talking about was the one that I used to see on Mama's (sorry Mama...I also saw it on other people, but you were the one I was always with, so your arm is the one I always think of) arm and think that it was so ugly and gross (not sure why I hated it so...on anybody I saw with it)...and be so thankful that they had developed something different for my generation. The same scar that I later saw on Joel's brothers and sisters (for some reason there isn't one on Joel's arm) and thought, "Gosh, I'm so glad I didn't grow up in Brasil and get that scar on my arm."

Well, today I did a little research and discovered that the BCG shot is what causes that scar. Our kids, all 3, got the BCG vaccine the other day.

I just got done bawling and bawling and bawling. For my kids to carry a scar (a very ugly one) on their arm for the rest of their lives becasue of a rash decision, because we weren't on guard and just went along with whatever someone told us to do...that just kills me. If there were no other way to guard against TB, that would be another story. But, I don't have that scar...there is another way, a better way. (end of journal sample)

It's not that I hate scars. I actually think that scars are quite cool, when they happen for a "good" reason...a fall, an accident of some sort, etc. But a vaccine? No. And I think the thing is that I just had a history with seeing this scar on people...and hating it. So, for my kids to have it...not good.

This all might seem silly to some. I mean, it is just cosmetic. But, to put it in other terms so that maybe some of you might understand my feelings, to all of you who hate tattoos or even might think they are wrong, maybe this will help. It would be like someone coming up and giving your kid a tattoo without you realizing what was going on. It's permanent, it's ugly and wrong (in your opinion), it's unnecessary, and it was done without your consent.

And, although this in and of itself is enough to make me completely crushed, there are tons of things that I hate about being here (again, just honesty). Of course, there are things that I love too, don't get me wrong. But, the things that I don't like are a little greater in importance at this point...like not being able to guard my children from things like this.

I start Portuguese classes tomorrow. That will help with things of course, but Portuguese isn't the answer to everything. There are so many things that don't involve my lack of being able to speak Portuguese. Things like decisions about just how to raise the kids, etc. (some of which I've talked about before). And, I will actually post more about that later in the week probably...some things have been made clearer lately. I think that it is severely different for people moving to another country without children. Not that it's any easier, but I do think that it is very, very different. For instance, do they have to worry about literally scarring their children with a vaccine...no.

Anyhoo, all of that to say, yesterday was a hard day. And PRAY PLEASE. God can keep that vaccine from leaving a scar. That would be no problem for Him. I mean, like I said, Joel doesn't have that scar. He may have had another kind of vaccine, but he may have had the same and for whatever reason it didn't scar. Please pray in agreement with me that my kids won't have that scar. That would mean so much to me. Thanks.

Just a couple of pictures from when the kids got their shots in Louisiana before we left. They really are troopers.



Saturday, August 18, 2007

Cutest Psalm 23 Ever

I have heard the 23rd Psalm how many times in my life? This has to be the cutest recitement of it I've ever seen.

My friend Meredith sent this link to me. Thanks Meredith. It really went along with what has been striking me this week...more on that though in a longer post later this week. :)

Enjoy this cute little girl named Abby.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Baby Got...What?

Since I'm a big fan of this original song (I know, so un-missionary of me, but I just think it's funny and I like the tune/beat...I don't know all the words, just the chorus...I'm sure it's not that nice), this makes me happy. So dang funny to me. So, to all of you in my generation...and my little brother (who also likes this song)...enjoy!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Hot Water At The Sink

I'm here in Brasilia, loving life right now. I know that this process of leaving behind the things of this world (i.e. the things of my world, the things of the U.S., like hot water from the faucet) is going to be just that...a process. But, little glimpses I get of American life is nice every now and then and I savor every moment these days. Ahh, such a nice thing...to be able to push the lever to the left and receive piping hot water to wash your hands and face with.


Joel had to come to Brasilia to get his medical evaluation done to be able to fly at the flight school. At the flight school he alternates between maintenance training and flight training, so last week he did maintenance and this week he went to the flight area. But, he's only been able to accompany students on their flights. He wanted to do that, just to observe, see how they teach, what they teach (it's done very differently here he says). But, he needed to get this medical eval. out of the way so that he can fly too. It is a very detailed medical eval. He has to have an ECG, EKG, EEG, blood tests galore, full body x-rays (dental too)...I mean everything. They want their pilots healthy here. :)

Priscilla will be leaving us on Monday to head back to the states. So, we decided to take advantage of her last few days here and Asa and I chose to tag along on this little Brasilia adventure. Oh, so nice. I am sitting in a nice cushiony bed with about 8 pillows and crisp white sheets. There is carpet on the floor, an air conditioner and heater in the room, the best shower head you ever wanted to use, and yes...hot water at the sink. :) Oh, and the TV has English channels...sing with me now...ha-le-lu-ya. :) We ate at Outback yesterday and will be eating at TGIFriday's before we head out today. We went to a bookstore yesterday where I also got a couple of books...English ones. Also, here at the hotel, the staff speaks English...mostly. :)

Like I said, we will be heading back this afternoon. Back to reality, back to Brasil (when I'm here, esp. in the hotel, I forget I'm in another country), and back to daily adjusting. It's good...I'm not complaining...it's just difficult at times of course. So I do thank God greatly for these "breaks" He provides me with. So very nice. I'm loving it.

I will leave you with a few pictures that were taken last time we were in Brasilia, for the 4th of July thing. Brasilia is the capitol of the nation remember, so all of these building in the first few pictures are all the government buildings and such. Enjoy a look at where we are.














A really cool bridge in Brasilia, over a really nice and pretty lake. I think it's called South Lake, which is Lago Sul (I think, although I really don't know...I didn't ask Joel to confirm...just saw signs).



After we'd crossed over...looking back.










And I had to include a couple of a kid you know. Here is Asa charming Steve. Steve is a friend from Asas that we've talked about before...Steve and Kristin. They were our main contacts when coming to visit last Sept. Steve is the first person Joel talked to on the phone about Asas...he's the chief flight instructor at the school. He was also a missionary kid...was born and raised here in Brasil. And...they are also Michael's and Maira's parents.








This is a friend of Steve's and Kristin's...we met he and his new wife at their apartment and they went with us on the picnic. He loves kids...Asa again putting on the charm.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

2 for 1

The 2 for 1 thing refers to this being my 2nd post for today. I don't really ever do that, but since I've received several questions about something, I thought I'd just go ahead and post about it.

Yes, my college roommate, nursing school classmate, friend, Stephanie Ann Stephens Verdoorn, IS with child. WOOHOO!!!!!!!!! After trying to conceive for 2 years, at least...and (as written on her blog) after one failed clomid cycle, one failed super ovulation, two failed IVF (in vitro fertilization) cycles, and a FET in July '07 (frozen embryo transfer)...PREGNANT!! She and her husband, Jim, just found out at the end of July. She is due March 30th.

She wrote this in a recent email: This little one is truly a
miracle (I think the fact that anyone can conceive is a miracle) since it
was actually conceived in January '07 and frozen for 6 months, defrosted and transferred with a 20% chance of implantation.


So very excited for her. After all that she's gone through to get all preggo, she definitely deserves it. I mean, giving yourself shots?...I don't think so. Right after I found out I was also pregnant, this is what she wrote on her blog.

I just found out that my good friend Michawn (who recently moved to Brazil) is pregnant with #4. She has got to be one of the most fertile people I know. I would hate her if I didn't love her so much. I am excited for her and to know that we will be going through our pregnancies together.

She's a funny girl. Love you Steph. Have a great pregnancy and I look forward to meeting your little one.

Word From The Lord

I am very honored and privileged to have been entrusted by God to deliver a word from Him. This word has been developed more and more over the past few weeks, and now it is time to give it. Here goes...

I feel very strongly in my spirit that one of you, although I'm not sure who, or maybe even several of you, should really heed these words. I feel very strongly that someone is supposed to follow these instructions very closely...come to Brasil and open up...drum roll please...a Chic-Fil-A and a Baskin Robbins. While you are at it, you might want to also open up an Olive Garden and a Macayo's.

Now obviously this could involve many of you. And, I'm feeling very strongly that you are to open these places specifically in the Anapolis region. That's what God has impressed upon me anyway.

Heed these words. Pray diligently. Obey.

Thank you, God, for using me.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Lazy Summer Days

http://www.slate.com/id/2171917/?gt1=10346

So Saturday I looked up on the web what the weather was like in Saline. The trusty web promptly told me the scoop. It was a blazing 102 degrees in Saline on Saturday. The heat index said it felt like 126 degrees, with a humidity of 51%. I know that some of my family was at the lake...smart, smart people. It was a great day for it...that or definitely staying in the air conditioned house. Anyway, that same day this (the link above) was on the MSN webpage. Funny. I was so craving some that day too, so I decided to read it. It's so true and gosh I love that stuff.

Funny the images stuck in the your mind and the feelings that get brought back to you with just a thought or the sound of a song. I used to LOVE the time of year came when the commercial advertising something called Summertime Lemonade (I think...commercials don't really work too good with me...I can never remember the product). Every year when that commercial started to circulate, I knew summer time was on the horizon. Ahhhh! My favorite time of year. The commercial had a nice little lazy tune and opened up with some kids in their cut-offs jumping off a dock into a nice steamy pond. It went on to show several glorious summer scenes. The peace and joy that commercial would bring me as school wrapped up and I knew that lake times were coming.

So, today here is to sweet tea, summer, and the lake. And hopefully you people in the south are getting some relief.

Friday, August 10, 2007

More On 4

Alright, so I told you all I would elaborate, so here goes.

On the 7th (was that Tuesday...my days of kids, laundry, cooking, and playing all run together), I woke up to take the ultimate test...oh yes, a pregnancy test. It was a leftover one, from my several mornings of those kinds of tests in the last few years. It was First Response, a good name brand. But, it was also expired...April I think. It came out positive and usually if a test is positive that means you are pregnant, regardless of expiration date. But, of course we had to make sure. Therefore, we went to the store that afternoon and came back to take another test...again positive.

It's very interesting...we have always wanted our kids very close in age. Grady was 4 months old when I became pregnant with Hadley. I wasn't able to nurse successfully with him, therefore we were "back in business" pretty early. I was able to nurse with Hadley and that worked well as birth control for me until we were actually ready to have another. Aunt Flo came when Hadley was 10 months old. I was pregnant the next month.

This time we were actually kind of thinking that we wanted to wait a little longer for the next one. Funny. I had always said that I wanted my kids to be 2 years or less apart. But, we had done 3 kids that way already and just felt like for the next one we would hold out a little longer...maybe let Asa be 2 1/2 or so before the next one was born. Ha ha ha. You just gotta chuckle, right? Anyway, we had always had the "warning" of Aunt Flo to, like I said, let us know we were back in business (I'm still nursing Asa). Well, Aunt Flo never came this time. Obviously I realized this could happen, but still...was hoping it would just happen the way it always has in the past. So, this is our first "surprise" (sort of...again, we can't really be surprised if we weren't preventing, right?).

Kind of cool though...if Aunt Flo would've come, we probably would've gotten on some form of birth control. Apparently God wanted us to have another baby at this point...and He knew that with the return of Aunt Flo, we would've done that. So, He just never let her come. That's the way we are looking at it anyhow. Makes it kind of exciting that God guarded the birth of this baby that way...His purposes prevail.

So, given all of that information (which you might not have cared to know, but remember...I'm known for giving too much information, so you always run a risk reading my blog :) ), I realy don't know when I'm due. The reason I suspected pregnancy though is because I just felt pregnant. I'm pretty in tune with my body. I had symptoms: bouts of nausea, constipation, no appetite, really tired (remember how I talked about how tired I was last weekend when Joel was gone?). I knew that was how I've felt before in the first stages of pregnancy. So, it was test time. Given how I have felt though, yeah...I'm sure I'm in the early stages...where I would be if I had just missed a period. So, I'm assuming this baby is due sometime in April. No actual date, but we all know those are just estimates anyhow.

Not sure what we are going to be doing about prenatal care, the birth of this baby, etc. Midwives are non-existent here, therefore home births are also not done. So, be praying for us in that regard.

We're excited to meet this new little one. Fun, fun stuff.

Don't remember if I've posted this on the blog before or not, but thought I'd do it again even if I have. With beautiful and fun kids like this though, man, who wouldn't be excited about another one?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

2 Things

2 very exciting things happened yesterday:


Asa started walking. She's been taking a few half steps for the past week, but yesterday she started taking about 5 or 6 steps at a time. She's all into it. It's really cute.













Yep, baby #4 is on the way. Notice the antiquated pregnancy test...it was very interesting (sorry about the visual of my pee). I'll share more about baby #4, due date, etc. later. What can I say...we're on a roll. :)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

And...He's Home

Well, Joel got back today around 1pm. He had a great trip and a great time. We haven't gotten to spend a whole lot of time together. He had to be back at the school (Asas' hangar) for a meeting at 3, didn't get home until around 6, and has to be back at the school to officially start his flight training tomorrow morning at 8. So, just wanted to give you an update. But, now I'm about to go hang with my honey.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Almost Home

I heard from Joel. They stopped for the night about 4 hours away. So, he will be home to us again around noon tomorrow...WOOHOO!! Thanks for your continued prayers in regards to that. He is having a blast and loving his job. :)

We had a great day today. For breakfast yesterday we went to the little bakery that we used to go to alot...the one close to our first house here where we met Magali. About a week or so ago Joel and I went with the kids and Magali told us her parents were selling the place to her cousin. Well, yesterday she told us that today was their last day before her cousin took over. So, of course we had to go back today for their last day. It was yummy of course and also great to see Magali and family.

We came back and I just played with the kids for a really long time. I hardly ever get to do that, or let me say that I hardly ever decide to just not cook or do laundry or whatever so that I can do that...since we moved here that is. But, today...that's what we did. We are going to do that more often now. Things have slowed a bit, thank goodness. We colored, played games, played with balloons, etc. It was a great time.

Alright, that's it for today's tales. But, just because I know you like them, here are some pictures for you. Also, remember that anytime you want to make a picture bigger, just click on it.


We are taking care of this house's owner's 2 cats. Most the time they just run in fright with our kids around (esp. Hadley...she gets a little too excited when she sees one and runs after it with all her might, screaming the whole time), but sometimes (very rarely) she is calm and actually gets to see the cat for more than a split second...and sometimes even gets to pet it. Here was one of those rare times.


Hadley telling the cat to look at the camera. :)










Grady giving the neighbors a little show. :)
















Asa's first goldfish.
















Asa getting some direction.
















Bathtime. Remember me saying there are no such things as bathtubs here? This is as close as we have right now and sometimes you just need a soak, although probably better one at a time given the circumstances. :) Such a great picture with Asa peeking in.











Eating breakfast.











Such a big girl these days. But, no...she didn't do that herself (I don't think)...we put her in from what I remember.














And this is the way I feel...I'm so glad Joel's coming home tomorrow. :)

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Single Parent Life

I hate it. :) Seriously, I hate it with a passion. Everytime Joel is gone for a few days, I realize just how blessed I am...and how hard single parents work (esp. when they have very small children). I mean, for instance, Joel does baths. He has his things that he always does and I have mine. It's incredible the amount of work it adds to your day when one of us is not here to do "our jobs." It is so dadgum exhausting. And, for heaven's sake, I have help (Priscilla). It just isn't the same though. "Help" and your actual spouse, the father of your children...not the same. Anyhoo, we are doing well though. I'm tired, but we've had a great couple of days.

Joel called tonight also and said they had reached their final destination for the night. They flew all day and despite headwinds, were able to make it to Para (the state...I think that's where he said they were...you can see it on the map from yesterday). They will probably battle headwinds the whole way, so it is definite now that they won't be here until Monday. But, they are having a good and safe trip. Joel is taking pictures, so we'll have some things to show you when he gets back.

Alrighty, it's 9:15 and I still haven't had supper...eeesh! So, over and out.

Day Delay

Joel and the pilot that will be with him, Marcos, were delayed today. First of all, they were missing a document that was needed that they could only get this morning. Secondly, it was raining there. So, they will be heading out tomorrow morning around 6am their time (7am my time, 5am Louisiana time, etc.). They are planning to fly all day tomorrow and all day Sunday. They will be landing before dark each day to rest and sleep for the night. They plan to do their last bit of flying on Monday morning, about 3 hours or so, and be back here by noon. If they have strong tailwinds, it is even a slight possibility they will make it back Sunday...but, we are just planning for Monday.

He has been having a great time there in Boa Vista. It's been a great learning experience for him for sure. He's really learned alot about how each Asas base works. It's been really, really good and he's met some great people.

Thanks for your continued prayers for him (them) as they fly back. We appreciate you and will keep you posted.

You can click on this map and make it bigger. On the map, you can see Boa Vista way up at the top of Brasil. We are in central Brasil, right between Brasilia and Goiania. You can also see the other 4 bases that Asas de Socorro run (Boa Vista is one of them)...Cruzeiro do Sul, Manaus, Santarem, and Belem (all of them in the Amazon region).

Thursday, August 02, 2007

First Flight

Tuesday one of the men from Asas called Joel and told him they needed him to go to Boa Vista and get a plane. Wow. That was unexpected. After the initial shock (we had a lot to do...appointments scheduled and such on Wednesday), we were very excited. His first flight as a missionary pilot!!

Apparently a plane was donated to Asas from someone in the states. So, since it is still registered as an American plane, it has to have an American pilot on board at all times (or something like that...I think that's the story). After many calls about logistically getting everything done that needed to be done for Joel to be able to go and fly the plane back, we ended up being able to do all that we needed to do yesterday. Joel left early this morning.

I hate staying by myself at night...always have, although I got a little more used to it the past few times in the states. But, Priscilla was supposed to stay in Goiania until Sunday, then we were going to go to church there on Sunday and bring her back (she went to Goiania on Tuesday). She's going to come back though so I won't have to stay by myself. Very thankful for that.

Joel is now en route to Manaus (commercial flight) and will then take another commercial flight from Manaus to Boa Vista. He will meet up with another Asas pilot (Brazilian) and they will start their flight back to Anapolis tomorrow morning. We're praying for great weather the whole time, a safe trip of course, and just a fun time on his first official flight. Exciting!