Saturday, July 25, 2009

Lookee Who's Here

There are so many posts I want to do about so many things. But, I don't know...I'm thinking from now until all my children leave home, I probably won't ever have time to do daily posts again. ;) That daily post thing ended about a year ago. It ain't coming back.

So, since there's so much to say, I'm just going to do some bullets here...all random and not really relating to each other...but all important.

**We found out a couple of weeks or so ago that we are going to be staying in this city in Brazil at least until December 2011. WOOHOO!! We really feel settled here and are excited about the things that are going on here.

**We went the other day to talk to the appropriate peeps about adoption. So, we got the list of documentation that they need and will be starting the process as soon as we get all of that together. Of course, with our furlough (again, because someone always asks...yes, we just went to the states this past winter, but it was only for 2 months and was only to see my mom because we were on break from Asas anyway...she even paid our way...so it was by no means a furlough in which we go around visiting all of our family, friends, and supporters and such...just to clear it up for you) coming up this winter and visitors here at our house on and off until we leave, I'm not sure of the timing of everything. But, we'll keep you posted.

**Speaking of furlough, we will be there Thanksgiving - the end of July...8 months. We will be in Arizona, all throughout Texas, Louisiana, Virginia (where Joel has some training), Pennsylvania, and Boston...and all the places in between since we will most likely need to drive instead of fly.

**I love how it's so evident that God and the stories of the Bible are real to my kids. Anytime 'bad guys' are talked about, they are always called "soldiers." ;) Death is most often associated with a cross (anytime it comes up that death is a part of life, Hadley still reminds me that I told her she wouldn't have to die on a cross...we have to go over again that just because you die doesn't mean it will be on a cross...;) ). Anytime the kids have to think long-term...for instance, when Grady was trying to sort out how long it was going to be until we got back to the United States (and to his Granny) the other day...it's just kind of difficult for him to grasp. I tried it in months...then 'a really, really long time'...then, just 'lots and lots of days.' And then it clicked for him...he said, "is it gonna be 40 days and 40 nights?!?" To him, that is like the ultimate of a long time. Cute. I was glad he had something to relate it to...and he fully understood after that. Cool.

**Names: I'll have to do a whole post on this sometime soon, but Miranda (nice to meet you), yes..."field of heather" is all we ever saw for Hadley too. ;) But, while we were pregnant the first time (or before probably actually), we were shopping in Costco and saw a box of dates. The company's name? Hadley. Their slogan? Sweetness is our nature. So, we decided we'd use that. ;) Her names mean "sweet joy." I'll explain in more detail another time. But, all our kids' names' meanings are...Grady - Noble Knight, Hadley - Sweet Joy, Eissa - Peaceful Helper, and Cass - Wise Helper.

**Also, another question from the comments of the last post...I actually think it's just as easy to use the bumGenius diapers for newborns. I did and there was hardly any mess to clean up. I would think that if you use the liners too (we never did...just started this week...am loving them by the way), it would catch any of the bulk (you know how sometimes their breast milk poo is a bit seedy or there is just more poo at times than usual) and whatever is left gets easily cleaned. But, you don't have to use liners at all for breastmilk poo...it's just so minimal usually and hardly anything to scrap out (we'd just take a paper towel and scrape the excess off). I just visited this site for more opinions and there are tons others elsewhere on the web. But, as I said, I used them with Cass from the beginning and we had zero problems. Hope that helps.

**I have a new clock. It is a pretty cool wall clock that we really like alot. Someone brought it to us from the states even. Who? I'll get to that. And why did someone have to bring a 2 ft. wall clock from the states?!? Because I am finally decorating a house...finally staying in a certain place for more than just a few months and in that certain place we can do things like drill holes in the wall and hang things. Anyhoo, the clocks here in Brazil are all institution clocks. Think school room or hospital room...then you can picture the clocks here...ALL of them, I'm not kidding. Um, I don't think so. So, yeah...they brought it and we are so pleased. Amazing the things that make a house a home in your mind. An institution clock wasn't cutting it...and I'm so glad we had the option of having something different.

**Cass is such a big girl. She is now sleeping in the room with the big kids. We moved her crib in last Monday night and she does just fine. She is the BEST sleeper ever. If she gets woken up, she just goes right back to sleep...without any fussing. I'm telling you...so easy, that one. Not perfect, mind you...she definitely lets her opinions be known these days and REALLY definitely lets you know if she doesn't like something. ;) But, she's awesome. She is now repeating lots that we say and also knows what we are saying most of the time. For instance, if I tell her to go get her shoes, she does. ;)

**O.K., so why did Cass move? Who brought our clock?
DANNY AND JOEL!!!! That's who. (yes, they have sites and on Joel's site you can read all about their adventures here and see even more pics) Fun stuff. They got here Tuesday night. Danny was born here, but they moved when he was 5 and this is his first time back. He's really taking it all in. Danny is Joel's (my Joel) youngest brother and also the baby of the family (he has 2 brothers and 2 sisters). Joel (we tried to start calling him Fabio for ease...that's the name he chose...but it just didn't stick...ha ha ha) is from the Boston area, born and raised. We are having so much fun with these 2. They crazy.

And, the bonus? They are both photographers. How much do I love that? So, here are a few of the pics they've taken so far. There are tons more where these came from (and they've only been here 4 days!...they are here at our house for another 2 weeks)...I'm sure I will be utilizing their pictures a lot in the next couple of weeks, so get ready. ;)

Just hanging around the house their first morning here.
I now have an operator for all things (almost) TV related. They are just really growing up. ;)
Notice the fabulous wall clock in the background. ;) Love (the clock and the girl).
My girl flying a kite...with her shorts on backwards. ;) Danny, Joel, and I had gone to a Wycliffe lecture on culture (in English) that afternoon and this is what we came home to. So much fun.
Then we headed out for the kids to show Danny and Joel their fort and big swing.









Now that's a cute boy! ;) Danny and Joel went with Joel (yes, 2 Joels in the house gets a bit confusing sometimes) to Asas Thursday afternoon to get the tour and check it all out. Grady took his camera along for the afternoon too...he has to take advantage of the expertise all around him these next 2 weeks. ;)
Brothers.
Grady and Uncle Danny.

Yesterday, Joel took part of the afternoon off and we took Danny and Joel to experience downtown.

Churros!!
Goodbye, downtown. Our car, straight ahead, in the parking area. Me with all the kiddos in tow.

Monday, July 20, 2009

bumGenius and More


O.K., so I have been asked by a couple of people recently to share about our cloth diaper experience. So...here goes.

First, I want to take you back to this post (#2)...when I was still knee-deep in research about the subject. We did end up going with the one size fits all pocket diaper that I discussed in that post, as told in this post (#5...and scroll down for more pics). Be sure to visit these links...you'll need the info. discussed there to add to the info. within this post.

Let me just tell you that I LOVE OUR CLOTH DIAPERS!! LOVE them. There was a HUGE (GIGANTIC) learning curve and only now do I think that I've got it figured out how to take care of them...but, that's only because of our situation here (much different than yours in the states). You can read about some of my woes here (be sure to read the comments in all of these links...great information there too).

Alright, so let me tell you my situation/routine now.

I have a total of 33 diapers. Eissa and Cass are both in the diapers (although Eissa will be potty-trained soon). I do a load of the day's diapers every night. I'm sure I could probably go every other day, but I think that in my situation, it's better to do it daily. It's not a huge deal really...I just have to really plan ahead, esp. if we are going somewhere at night. You'll see why in a minute.

If you get cloth diapers (these particular kind that is), you'll need to use some kind of detergent that has no perfumes, no dyes, no whiteners, no brighteners, no enzymes, no soap. ;) Yeah, kind of finicky diapers, but if you just get a detergent like Charlie's Soap like we got (we got this and we are only on our 3rd bag after about a year of usage), that takes care of that. I personally use one tablespoon of Charlie's each night. It lasts forever (even longer if you don't do a load every day). ;) In fact, I might even try less than that tonight...see, I'm still tweaking my method even now. You will also need some Dawn Original (as pictured here) for "stripping" the diapers (you "strip" the diapers of any detergent build-up which causes smell/stink issues or absorption issues...that's what that means). Also, you can't use any of the normal diaper rash ointment...they contain oils (cod liver oil for example) that stains your diapers, stinks to high heaven (think fish), and also can cause the pee to just slide right out of your diaper (makes your diapers completely non-absorbent). We have used the Aveeno diaper ointment and it seems to be just fine...but I just found this and we might try out another one of these next time we need to buy.

O.K., so here's my routine...

Every night after the little girls have showered, I immediately start a cold cycle, just to get all the nasty stuff rinsed out. We remove all poop before we put it in the dry pail (wet pails are no longer recommended), where we keep all dirty diapers...peed on and pooped on. But, we don't spray it out (like some do using a handy little diaper sprayer like this one...there are many on the market), so this cold cycle just rinses everything out. Unfortunately, that takes about an hour and a half (that's on rapid cycle...includes filling the washer with water, some agitation, emptying the water, then rinsing and spinning) as you read on the link about how everything here takes so much longer as related to the washer. I don't add detergent on this cycle.

Immediately after that, I start the actual wash cycle. This is the doozy. :) Since we don't have warm/hot water that is automatically an option for our washers, Joel rigged up a small water heater (like we have on our showers to allow us a warm shower) for the washer. So, I hook up a hose to the faucet next to our washer and manually fill the washer (the water runs through the heater on its way to the washer). You don't know how many times we have gotten busy with the kids and forgotten about the water filling and flooded the floor...not pleasant!! We got wise (and moved into a smaller house so now we can actually hear it) and started setting a timer. It takes about 25 minutes to fill the washer with hot water. With this cycle I don't hold anything back. ;) I do a regular cycle (not rapid), a soak, and an extra rinse. So, that means the washer fills with water, agitates a bit, soaks, agitates some more, empties, rinses, empties, rinses again, spins. This cycle starts at some point before I go to bed and goes through the night (lasts about 2 1/2 - 3 hours). This is also, incidentally, the cycle that I add the detergent to...as the washer is filling with the hot water.

When I get up in the morning I do another cold cycle with an extra rinse just to make sure all the detergent is out (you end up with bad stink if it's not)...another couple of hours. Then I hang them outside to dry (then the washer is free for other laundry...my washer goes non-stop). By the end of the afternoon, they are dry and I assemble them and put them away.

Now, for you in the states (or anywhere with better washer technology), that wash routine wouldn't be such a big deal. Most people there in the states do the same routine...3 cycles...cold, warm, cold again. But, it just takes me WAY longer. And, most people there use their dryers to dry the diapers. Since I don't have a dryer, even more time.

So, my point is that if I can do it, you can certainly do it. It's really not a huge undertaking...even here, so don't be overwhelmed by it, missionary folks. Once you have your routine set and figure out what works best for your situation, it really just becomes second nature.

You can add a bit of bleach once a month to your diapers to combat lingering odors. And you can strip them every 6 weeks or so (that's the minimum time...it is best to go as long as possible between strippings). For stripping and other care instructions for bumGenius, go here.

As you saw in the previous links, it really does save money...even if you only use your diapers with one baby. Here's a fun link that talks more about that (and more)...this chic is crazy green, but I love her ideas. Cloth diapers are also so soft and feel so good to baby. And, it's just good stewardship of resources (I'm not saying it's for everyone...it's not...but, that is a plus).

We still use disposables if we are traveling or occasionally if we are going to be out and about all day or something (although, we usually still use cloth even then).

For night-time use, I use one of the regular inserts and 2 of the doublers. We NEVER have leaks. We have occasionally had stink problems, but with the stripping every now and then (and just figuring out the system that works best for you), those problems will be cured too.

There is also another great product that you can use in order to help eliminate some of your workload. They are called rice paper liners. You line the diaper with one of these and then can just plop the liner and poop into the toilet and flush (you can...we can't flush that here, but we'll just plop it in a baggie and then in the trash). We just recently got these and are looking forward to not always having to scrape the poop out of the diapers. ;) We'll be getting them tomorrow actually. The three big names I saw for these are Imse Vimse, Kushies, and Bummis Bio-Soft. There are others available...you'll just have to research. And, I'll try to give you a review of our purchases too.

I know it might seem a little overwhelming to make the switch, but let me just recap how simple it really is for you:
--select and buy diapers
--get the right kind of detergent
--get the right kind of diaper rash cream
--get some Dawn dishwashing liquid
--get some liners if you want
--get a dry pail (we just use a regular small plastic trash can with lid)
--experiment to find the exact routine for you

And that's it!!

If you are interested in getting the bumGenius cloth diapers (or so many other products), I highly recommend Cotton Babies, a great company with great prices, great customer service, and also very missions-minded (a great thing in my mind of course). They offer a grant for missionary families for a cloth diaper package. We were recipients of that grant last year. LOVE them!

Another great product that I don't think I've ever talked about for those of you 'in the family way' (ha) is the washable nursing pad. Oh my gosh...how I wish I'd known about this when Grady was born. These are so very awesome! Love them!! If you are going to need nursing pads anytime soon, GET THEM!! I mean it!

Also, while I'm plugging products, these are great too if you have a bedwetter and/or are pottytraining and don't want to use pull-ups (or can't...they don't have them here). They are a bit bulky, but less bulky than others available from what I hear. They work very well, that's for sure. And anything is better than having to wash sheets every day, right?

O.K., I think that about covers it. Obviously there are many other cloth diapers on the market, from the regular old-fashioned prefolds with covers to the fancy shmancy high-tech diapers. There are even variety packs available from certain websites (like this one at Cotton Babies) so that you can use several different kinds to figure out what you prefer. So, there is really something for everybody.

Happy researching and shopping! And feel free to ask any questions you may have. I'll leave you with a couple of the cutest little bumGenius bums you ever did see! ;)












What my line looks like right now.

You can see the regular inserts and the doublers. And the kids in the background playing with a lizard. ;)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Hopeless Emptiness

Have you seen it? Revolutionary Road? If not, you may not want to.

I went to the movie rental place down the road looking for a good movie. I actually wanted a comedy, but I'm always a bit iffy about comedies. Unless it is a surefire winner that I've heard about, I usually just don't go there. Most comedies, if not very good (and many aren't), just leave me feeling like I totally wasted 2 hours of my time (I'm talking comedy comedy here, not romantic comedy). But, even the dramas that I find not good I can almost always pull some kind of insight out of.

Enter Revolutionary Road.

This movie was horrible as far as being just entertaining and heartwarming. If you are looking for that, go elsewhere for sure. There were a few parts that we just had to fast-forward through (ugh...I get so tired of that). It was just, in general, a horrible movie...especially regarding the feeling that it left you with.

But, then, that's what I wanted to talk about.

There is a part in the movie where the characters acknowledge something...hopeless emptiness. Hopeless. Emptiness. They talk of it as if everyone walks around in this state.

The Special Features (the making of the movie documentary) was also very telling. They talked about just how realistic it was, how the dialogue was so realistic, how the relationships were so realistic...how this is real life. "Nothing is clear" they kept saying.

A-mazing. It tears at me. Of course, so many of us know the Truth. That you don't have to live in this "hopeless emptiness" state. That things have been made perfectly clear.

I made the comment to Joel about how it was appalling to me that they really think that that is reality...for everyone. I said, "Who are these people hanging out with?" Joel just said that that is indeed reality for those who don't know Jesus...REALLY know Him. Those who don't really know Him don't have that clarity. They don't have that peace. They can't possibly live without hopelessness or emptiness or despair. They don't have freedom.

It's always a bit startling to be jolted back to the reality that most people live in such despair and discontent. Even the really 'happy' ones. No, to be clear, the thing that is startling is that they realize it, acknowledge it, and see no other way...that it is normal and universal. They made the statement that you have to be really brave to change those circumstances. You have just one chance to break out of that hopelessness. Surprising how incredibly dead on they are...and so sad how completely blinded they are to the One Way that can truly change it for them.

Oh God, open their eyes!

I pray that we will all be the kind of people that are attractive. That we are real, honest, genuine, normal, caring, non-freaky, relate-able little Jesuses running around on the earth. That when we run into those people caught in their hopeless emptiness, they will be attracted to the light and peace and clarity within us. Nothing phony, nothing fake, nothing cheeseball (!). Nothing rigid, nothing pious, nothing stuffy, nothing put-off-at-the-least-little-world-like-behavior (cussing, etc....we all know the sweet little innocent, drop-their-jaw types that couldn't relate to a non-Christian if their life depended on it). None of that. Just love. Just REAL reality. Just Jesus.

Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. --John 13:35

But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? --Romans 10:14

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Saline Watermelon Festival 2009


It's that time of year again. I've been 'tracking' the festivities of the week on the beloved Facebook. ;) The kids' night, the treasure hunt, the pageants, etc. Been lots of fun already, looks like...and today will be awesome (hot, but so fun). ;) We haven't been able to be there since 2006 (I was preggers with Eissa at the time). Y'all have a great time for me there, ya hear (and eat a chicken on a stick too)? And guess what...WE'LL SEE YOU THERE NEXT YEAR!! Woohoo!!

Can you believe these awesome pictures?!? Love them. I stole them off Facebook...thanks Donnie C. and James David. ;) This is from the festival in 1931.
1933 Queen's Float
These girls were gorgeous. I don't recognize any of the names though...who are they...does anyone know? 1933 Queen and court...L to R: Virginia Taylor, Camille Hailey, Doris McCain (queen), Mary Evelyn Frey, Eleanor Stinson

1933. Love these pics. I can just feel the air of Saline right now. ;)

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Looks Like Someone's Been To New England

We saw this going up not long after we moved to Brazil, but it is on the other side of town. I just happened to drive by there the other day and also just so happened to have my camera. So...

In hopes of thwarting any fears that Danny and Joel might have...any apprehension. If the homesickness starts to loom over you like a black cloud, never fear. We have a cure. Don't fret. ;)

For those of you in other parts of the country/world, this is a common grocery store in New England.



Monday, July 06, 2009

Adventures With Daddy


O.K., so when I say that Joel is the best husband ever, I'm not just blowing here. I mean, for real. I'm not just saying it because it's the nice wifey poo thing to say. I live with him. I'm with this boy 24 hours a day. I'm not just focusing on the good things. The truth is that there really aren't any bad things...not anything that ranks in anything important...no major character issues for instance.

I'm laughing right now because that is the truth as unbelievable as that may seem. Are there things that he does that drive me up the wall? Yeah. But, if I'm being honest, most of the time the fact that those things drive me up the wall is a reflection on me...and my impatience or irritability (don't tell him I said that...ha ha). :) And even in those times, he graciously just says he's sorry after we've discussed it, whatever it is, and we forgive each other. Another awesome example for me...the example of quick forgiveness and quick repentance. Even when it really isn't something that he needs to be apologizing for, oftentimes he humbles himself and does it anyway. The cool thing is that since I'm growing in the way I need to be, it happens less and less that he does this. I'm way more aware of when I'm in the wrong and way more able to just recognize it and apologize and get it over with/move forward. Thank God for growth!

It's so funny. Since I do have a somewhat strong personality, I always kind of imagined that I'd have a husband who had an even stronger personality. But, God had other plans. Not that Joel isn't strong...it's just not in the same way that I imagined it would be for my husband. God wanted to grow me...make me more humble, make me more patient, make me more like Him. He knew I needed Joel to be the real life example of Himself in my life daily. It's so contradictory to what the world thinks...because Joel humbles himself, even sometimes when he's not wrong, that then makes me want to really examine myself and not be selfish and not 'demand my rights.' Which in turn, makes me more humble and selfless. Joel's way demonstrates strength at its finest...not the turn tale and run kind of humility, but the kind that Jesus showed as he died for us. He, like Joel, could have demanded his rights. Jesus was the one in the right, was He not? But he laid down His life. Joel does the same when dealing with others...never demanding his rights, always being a peacemaker. I'm learning that from him. Slowly but surely, I'm becoming more like Joel...and more like Jesus.

Ha ha ha...I just read back over that and it totally does sound like I'm completely kissing hiney-bo here or something. But, I promise...it is the honest to God truth. Yeah, he's annoyingly perfect, but thankfully, that turns out to be such an awesome thing for me...and my kiddos. What the perfect role model he is for us...just like Jesus, I tell you. Incredible.

Not only is he just the best at modeling the super important things like character traits and values, but he's just stinkin' dang fun. Love love love that. Perfect, I say!! Here are a few pictures/videos from June showing what I mean.

The kids LOVE to go on "adventures" with Daddy. Here they all go one Saturday morning.
This is what they made that day during their adventure in "the forest" behind our house.
This is Joel showing it...until the camera died.
Later that afternoon, Joel was playing volleyball here on campus and I went to check on the kids. Joel had set them all up with their snacks in their new fort. Fun times!!
The next day we took the kids to a park here in town. It's pretty cool...LOTS of different things there...and even some waterfalls/ponds. This was all Joel's idea of course.





Daddy's always up for some acrobatics.
Just last weekend, he built a big swing for the kids...well, actually it's HUGE and it's for ALL of us...everyone in the neighborhood. ;) It's a big hit with the neighbors.

The kids LOVE it to say the least.


Later that same day, as the sun was setting, it was time for a bike ride...for everyone. ;) That Daddy is very resourceful. We LOVE our hiking backpack!

Daddy is tons of fun!! He's the best!