Friday, September 27, 2013

Hello again!

Hello there!  I'm so happy - it's been less than a month since I've updated - we're making progress!!  =)

We’ve just finished our first week of school here, and are currently enjoying some (unexpected) cooler temperatures.  We had the a/c off until after 1pm today, and at not quite 6pm, we’re probably good to turn them off again.  Tim trimmed the grass today, and I raked, and although it was hot, it wasn’t overwhelming.

Jessica has been with us for a week and a half now.  We are really enjoying having her, and she has been a huge help.  I feel better now than I did before – at least a little more energy, so I’m sure thankful for that - but she is great in helping out where needed!  Jessica is outside right now playing freeze tag with the girls - they are having a blast!

Tim heads to Cancun tomorrow.  He’s going down for a little over a week to help out in a work there.  He leaves early in the morning, and we sure are going to miss him!   He’s going to find it mighty interesting, “bach”-ing it for the first time in a while.  He's got a full, busy week planned, though, so he won't be bored!

We’ve had lots of company the last bit, too, so we’ve been enjoying some extra people around.  We got in a quick visit with Shad, Debi and Joe K on their way up to Phoenix on Monday.  Emily and Sarah drove up from Obregón on Wednesday, which was also Eleo’s birthday, so they, plus the Cain’s came for lunch that day.

Here are some pics from the last bit:
Shaelyn learned how to braid
 We had our second Slumber Party (with just one friend over) for Shaelyn.  The problem was that there was a big storm that night, so Diana Paola didn't get here until late.  They still were able to watch a movie when she got here, but our girls had had a nap and she apparently didn't...

Tea parties are perfect activities for for sleepovers, especially for those who like to dress up like princesses!
Mika's special touches

The four lovely princesses, enjoying their tea (hot chocolate)!
We actually had another slumber party just last weekend with Eva and Jacquelín, but somehow I didn't get any pics of that party.

This was taken a couple of weeks ago.  It rained during the day, so I was actually able to get a picture of how much rain comes up.  If you look closely, you'll see that the road is completely flooded across to the other side of the street.  Thankfully, the water goes down fairly quickly.

Nata likes to play with Daddy's tools!

All the girls wanted to have two braids in their hair like Laura Ingalls.
 We got our jars of salsa ready to give away, cutting out a piece of fabric to make the lid pretty.  We've been able to give a few away already.  For some reason, I don't have a picture of the finished product except the one Kyla is holding.

Cutting out circles, with Nathaniel looking on

Then it was time for another tea party!
Vivian Estelle

Shaelyn Grace

Marika Ruth

Kyla Mae

My special tea cup with Trilliums, from my dear Aunt Stella.  I doubt she ever dreamed this pretty cup would have hot chocolate in it!! ;)

Our tea party from Kyla's view

Vivi enjoying dressing up with an apron on.
 The girls got a hold of the camera one evening (at least), and took great delight in taking lots of pictures, in out and around the house.  I only am posting a few of them.
Jessica wrapped the girls up, calling them burritos - it makes me hot looking at this picture!!  (Alisa calls them 'bweedos')

Love this one of Mika!

And this one of Kyla!

Another 'bweedo' in the background

This is one of many funny faces of Shaelynnie

Nico's cute little face close up.

Shaelyn took a tumble a week ago, and put her tooth all the way through her lip.  It was a toss up, wondering whether to take her to get stitches or not.  We decided not to, and thankfully it has healed up quite well.

Nathaniel sporting some pink, flowered glasses - his sisters love to dress him up!  =)

Alisa and Vivi (not sure what's up with Vivian's new camera 'pose')

Last Friday night, Tim came home from singing with a group from the hall, and Nata climbed up on the couch, took Tim's hymn book, and started 'singing'.  He sings a lot!  However, this time, he actually was humming the tune to the first line of Jesus Loves Me.  It was so cute!

Tim said, "First things first - get the camera, and then the towel!!"  ;)  This little rascal is getting into EVERYTHING!!!  Thankfully he still takes a long nap in the morning and in the afternoon!  He is also finally Walking!!  Now I need to find some shoes for those little piggies of his!
 When we picked up Jessica, she brought down the school books we ordered.  Since she arrived on a Tuesday, we had a few more days to go through things before starting this past Monday.  I got all the books organized, and the ones put away that needed to be.

Monday morning we took pictures outside of each of the children, plus took their weights, and started a new height chart in the linen closet!  =)
Marika - 10.5 years old, Grade 5
Shaelyn - 7.5 years old, Grade 2

Kyla - 6 years old, Grade 1

Vivian - 4.5 years old

Alisa - 2.5 years old

Nathaniel - almost 17 months old

All six, plus the puppy
 I found these clear containers at Walmart in the US, and they are Just the right size for the girls' school books - I was so pleased!

Nathaniel went directly to bed after the group picture, and Jessica got in on this one!

Hard at work!!
 After 1/2 a school day (we cleaned before and after), 18 of us were here for Eleo's birthday lunch.
The little girls' table

The big girls' table

One end of the adults' table

The other end

Eleo and her cake

Liz had been asking for me to post a picture of my big tummy.  Here I am (today) at 30 weeks.
I've just been reading through Isaiah again, and have been enjoying it immensely.  Two years ago, we were going through a spiritual upheaval, and the Lord gave me these verses:
 "Remember this and stand firm, ... for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, 
... 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,' 
... I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it."
Isaiah 46:8-11

It gives me great comfort to know that we serve the One and only God, that He is in control, and that His purposes always stand.  How great is our God!!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

It's been a while...

Time passes by so quickly - and then it's the wonder of 'where do I start??"  =)  We're so thankful to be home again in Mexico, and back to our 'family' here!  We had a wonderful month in Canada, visiting with family and friends, but with so many pictures to go through of the trip, I figured I may as well start from when we got back, and get around to trip pictures another time.

Today marks five years since that hot, muggy night we arrived in Mexico, moving from Canada.  We were 'warmly' welcomed by many of the believers, who helped us unpack all our earthly belongings off the two trailers, and from 3 mini-vans.  How the Lord has stretched us since coming here.  How thankful I am for His continued guidance, discipline and direction in my life.  I pray the Lord will make me more and more like Him each day. I've been enjoying reading the book of John the last couple of days: "He must increase, but I must decrease." John 3:30

It's been great getting back into the swing of the things here.  Having only been in our new house a few weeks before leaving for Canada, we have enjoyed getting used to the rhythm of living here, unpacking more boxes, finishing up some odds and ends, organizing, etc.  Tim has been doing lots of stuff outside.  Cutting some branches from the large tree outside, laying gravel in a path around the house, getting rid of the dirt and stones in the front of the house - it looks so much nicer!!  It's nice to not be living in a construction zone anymore!  It's also a wonderful thing to have such a hard-working husband - I'm so very thankful for my Tim!

The Cain family left the day after we arrived, and I actually never got to see them, as one of the girls was sick that Sunday morning, and we weren't able to get out.  They arrive home in a week or so from their visit to Canada, and we sure are looking forward to seeing them, again!

I am 6 months along with Baby #7.  I have a doctor's appointment this coming Friday, so it will be neat to see how much he/she has grown.  I have only had one other doctor's appointment, and that was in April!  Baby is growing and moving lots.  Of course, like every other pregnancy, everyone is convinced this one will be a boy!  I've been pretty tired the last while, and have been extra glad we haven't had many pressing things to do in the mornings, as well as being thankful that everyone 7 and under naps most days!  I'm glad we have three more months to wait, but I'm sure looking forward to meeting this dear little one!

Before we arrived, I was dreading coming back to the heat of summer here.  Thankfully, when we got home, although it was hot, it didn't seem unbearable, and we had a couple weeks to adjust until the Really hot weather set in.  Some mornings are still nice though, around 30 C, and the doors can be opened and let the breeze come through.  It's gotten to well above 40 C many days, though, and with the humidity, that makes it over 50 C!  Someone decided they needed our thermometer more than we did though, apparently, and it's disappeared.  We have had some major rain storms over the last few weeks, and even as I write this, the sky has gotten dark, the wind has picked up, and it is currently "raining" dust - which means pretty much for sure we're in for another big one.  One evening, Tim and Kyla had gone out to pay some bills and get groceries, when a storm blew in suddenly.  When they got home, Tim had to wade through mid shin-deep water to come into the house.  Our road in front of us turns into a river - it is incredible!  That particular night, the wind was so strong it knocked down several large limbs of trees, and they went floating down the road.  Thankfully the water goes down again pretty quick, but leaves the road in front pretty muddy.

We are looking forward to our school year starting in a couple of weeks.  Marika begins grade 5, Shaelyn grade 2 and Kyla grade 1.  Vivian could begin JK, but I don't have any official books for her, as she has little interest in sitting much.  I'm happy just having 3 to teach, and she can begin her kindergarten adventure next year!

We've had a few visitors since we've been home, and expect a few more over the next couple of weeks.  Mainly to do with traveling from south to north to renew visas, etc.  These ones are just over a night or two, but we do have a young lady, Jessica, coming down to spend a month with us, as of the middle of September.  She's arriving just in time for us to begin school, so I'm extra thankful that she's had homeschooling experience!

I thought I would do a little update on each of the children - it's so easy to forget the 'little' things that make up the big parts of their lives, and I like to have them written down, when I can.
~Marika - has been a huge helper since coming home.  She is generally dependable in finishing the task that needs to be done, and directing little ones if that is involved, too.  She will also sometimes do something special spontaneously around the house - either baking/cooking or cleaning.  Her latest project is called R.O.N., which stands for "Reaching Our Neighbours".  In our old neighbourhoods, we tried to get out to meet our neighbours, and share some goodies with them, and also left invitations or tracts at the door at times.  We have done some canning this year (finally), so we have a jar of salsa that we are hoping to give out to our neighbours, all decorated for Mexican Independence Day (Sept 16th).  I'm so thankful she wants to share the gospel with those around her!  She loves to read, and I often have to ban all books for her for 1/2 a day if I need to get something specific done! ;)  She is not really looking forward to starting school again, as she thinks grade 5 sounds hard, but I think she will do well.

~Shaelyn - oh, how this child makes us laugh.  With two separate conversations today, I headed off to find Tim to have a good chuckle about her.  This child also makes me cry.  A lot.  I'm sure part of it is pregnancy hormones, but I feel that most of the time I just do not understand Shaelynnie.  I have been praying more and more recently, that the Lord would help take the frustration I feel with her, and give me His peace and wisdom, instead.  I want to show her how much I love her, and I end up showing her my frustration when I really don't want to.  She has shown herself to be more responsible lately, both in caring for some of this little ones, as well as accomplishing certain tasks really well!!  Shaelyn is looking forward to starting school again, and I know it will be good for her to be on a proper routine again.  She also is stretching herself more and more in speaking Spanish.  I'm so proud of her when she makes the effort, even though she struggles with it!

~Kyla - has such a wide variety of interests, and being able to play with others.  She loves playing and working - with both littles, middles and bigs.  She seems to be quite content in almost any situation, and adapts very well to new surroundings and people.  She's been quite sick this year, off and on - more than any of the others.  Her skin is the fairest, and hair the lightest, so I don't know if that affects her health or not.  She still needs work on knowing when she should take the initiative or ask first.  Since she is such an observant person, she has a hard time not "helping" when she sees something that needs to be done.  She definitely likes to bug her sisters when she can get away with it, but most of the time she really gets along well with them.

~Vivian - has had a bit of a rough last month.  While she plays nicely with her sisters, and asks several times a day if she can help with something - for some reason, and so far we are still unaware why, she is having severe separation anxiety from me.  The crazy thing is, I'm almost never away from her!  When we first got home, it was just while she was waiting in the van with the others for me to unlock the gate (she could still see me), and she would scream almost hysterically.  At the same time, if she was in the house, and wonder where I was, instead of calling my name or come looking for me, she would scream and cry.  She's calmed down considerably in the last couple weeks, but when I go out the door to do something outside, she calls my name, and asks if I'm coming right back inside.  She also has become really upset about storms, almost hysterically again - telling me she wants to go to bed so she can wake up when it's done.  Poor pumpkin!  I've tried to be really patient with her, but sometimes it is extremely frustrating!  Her whole new asking if she can do something for me has been super, though!  She's become pretty dependable at cleaning one particular area, or even setting the whole table, which is so helpful!

~Alisa -  has gained weight!!!!!!  She has been 22 lbs for quite some time, and we've been noticing that her little tummy has expanded, and she is getting considerably taller.  The other day I weighed her, and she was 25 lbs - we are so thankful!  We have been trying to potty train her over the last 2-3 weeks, and it seems like she has got it!  Nice to have only one in diapers (until the next baby comes).  She loves to play with the older girls, often giving spontaneous hugs.  She loves to play with her babies, bottles and strollers, and is quite possessive of them.  She sings to them, holds and snuggles them - it's so sweet!  

~Nathaniel - is a rascal!  This age is hilariously frustrating, with no end to laughs and sighs!  =)  He has some serious temper tantrums, which seems a little funny to me, seeing as how he was Such an easy-going infant!  He loves to get outside in the rocks and dirt, which seems to be especially fun since you can put all those (disgusting) things in your mouth!  He loves Daddy and Mommy, enjoys Mika most of the time, and tolerates to different degrees the rest.  He still is pretty unsure about everyone at meeting.  He will occasionally go to some of the men, but rejects all women at this point!  He is still not walking, but taking a couple steps here and there.  He definitely appears to not want to walk.  I know it will come in its own time, but walking would definitely save some the cleanliness of his clothes at this point!

Okay, now to some pictures.  Our first visitors were from Santiago.  They came and stayed for a couple nights, while here to get their visas renewed.
Jesse, Emily and sweet little Anaya
Our next visitor is long-term.  His name is Nico, short for Nicodemus, who came to us by night! ;)  The girls adore him, although Alisa wouldn't go near him for about a week - now he runs from her!  Nathaniel and Nico act about the same age (although it's Nico we're potty training, not Nata) - Nico jumps on Nathaniel's back when he's crawling (another reason I wish he were walking!), but Nathaniel does a pretty good job of making sure the puppy stays away when necessary!  They're hilarious to watch together.  Nico is coming up to being 3 months old.  His mom is a poodle(ish) and dad is a dachshund(ish) - he won't be much of a guard dog, since he'll be so tiny, but we're enjoying having him, and hopefully he'll at least be a deterrent to would-be robbers.

Nathaniel was not pleased that he needed to be gentle.

Tim's birthday was August 13th.  I had his cake baked, and the house all clean the night before.  We woke up in the morning So Sick!  Mika was the only was of the children to be sick, but Tim and I spent a good part of the day taking turns sleeping.  Tim felt a little better on his feet than I did - if I was standing up for more than 10 minutes, I would start getting faint and throwing up.  It was a pretty crummy day!  I felt especially bad for Tim, being his birthday.  The other kiddos seemed to get along alright for most of the day.  I found out neither Shaelyn nor Kyla knew how to operate the washer/dryer on their own, so we've fixed that since!  ;)

We all felt better by the next morning, so we decided to celebrate then.  The cake needed to be decorated, and Shaelyn really wanted to do it on her own (Mika was 8 when she first decorated a cake).  So here are some pictures of the process.
The look on Alisa's face here is priceless!  She can't have cake, but every time I turned around, or went into another room to do something, I would come back to her with her finger in the icing bowl!

Nico thought he would help, and Shaelyn being the animal lover that she is, was quite delighted he wanted to join her!

The final product!  The Only thing I helped with, was scratch the letters into the icing with a tooth pick for her to copy.  I think she did an AMAZING job!

Tim with all his sweeties

Alisa, Kyla and Vivi reading on the couch.
The other thing Marika really wanted to do when we got home was have a pajama party with some of her friends.  Eva wasn't here, since she was in Canada, and one of the other girls we weren't able to get a hold of, but there were still 5 extra girls, ranging from 9 to 13, who came one Friday night to sleep over.

Watching "Facing the Giants"

Nathaniel spilled some chips, and wanted to get them cleaned up!
All the girls except Alisa slept in Mika and Shaelyn's room.  I don't think they had too much sleep, and they were all awake by 7am!  One of the girls had had a birthday the Monday before, and another one had her birthday on the Saturday of the sleepover, so we baked some cupcakes, and Tim suggested letting them decorate their own.  That was a Huge hit - they had so much fun!

First the visitors had their turn:
Figuring out what they wanted to do...

Final product:: Sarai




Then our girls did theirs.  Each person had two to decorate.



The candy and icing sampler herself


Then, at lunch, we put candles in the cupcakes for the two birthday girls.

It was a fun party, and I think everyone had a fun time.  Shaelyn is hoping to have a couple of her friends over in a week or so (2-3 maximum!).

These two are so funny.  I really should get a video of how they 'play" together!  It totally looks like Nico is ready to mow down on Nathaniel's bottle if he just gives him the chance!  The funniest thing so far (besides Nico jumping on Nata's back and licking his ear from behind), is that, one day I gave Nathaniel a rolled up tortilla to eat, and he was sitting on a stool eating it.  All of a sudden, one of the girls started shouting, and I turned around, and Nico was up with his paws on the stool, eating the other half of the tortilla that was in Nathaniel's mouth!  If I'd been on the ball, I would have taken a picture, because it looked so funny - but I missed it.  Don't worry, the tortilla was most definitely taken away, and another replaced it!  =)
Before we got home, I had some great plans for the girls and I to work and play together for several weeks, since I knew we wouldn't be starting school for at least a month.  I had been reading "Raising Godly Tomatoes" a little on-line, and I liked several of her ideas of doing things as a family, instead of "sending off" the children to play or do their chores - everyone does it together.  (Be warned if you check out the link, that there are a few things I consider totally weird on there - but a lot of it is really good!).  I had planned to do dishes, laundry, make meals, bake, clean, learn some new skills, read books, maybe do some canning, etc. - all together.  I don't know why, but the first 2-3 weeks home, I felt like another person.  I could see myself being this horrible tyrant, hating what was going on, and doing very little about it.  Needless to say, we did very little together the first while.  I finally got to the point before the Lord how sinful my attitude and behaviour toward my children was, repented, apologized, and we were able to get back on track!  Not that things have been rosy since, but definitely improved!  I'm very thankful for a forgiving God, husband and children!

Tim was out getting groceries, and saw that tomatoes were on a really good sale.  He knew I wanted to do some canning, so he got lots and brought them home.  Mika was my first helper in making salsa, and then the next two joined in when we made chili sauce and tomato (pasta) sauce.  I have been thinking how nice it is to actually have children old enough to be a help in a variety of things, and be able to trust them to get a job done and have done it well.

After our canning, we celebrated with the girls having a tea party!

Apples also were on sale, so the next day we made an apple crisp (gluten-free), and a few days later we made an apple pie - YUMMY!!!

What could be causing all this excitement?

Somebody got his first bath!

I'm not sure that he enjoyed it as much as the girls did watching it!  =)

I don't remember why these hilarious pictures were taken, but they were taken after breakfast one morning, and I didn't want to leave them out.

Alisa found a brush, and thought it would be really fun to brush Daddy's hair.

She had so much fun doing that, she decided to try Nathaniel as well!  Thankfully, he was preoccupied with the puppy and didn't really notice!

Of all the things I had tried to imagine before getting the puppy (chewing, potty training, etc), there were two things I didn't consider: One, that I would become his "mother" - in that, he follows me Everywhere, and wants to lie on/beside/behind my feet if I stop moving for a minute or so, and Two, that he would take toys out to make a mess, and not put them back!  

Just a funny picture of Alisa, enjoying spending some time in an insulated bag.

The girls found some stickers the other day, and put a bow-tie on Nathaniel - he went along for 1/2 the day looking this cute!! ;)
The children's meetings in Tirocapes (outreach) begin this Saturday, so there is a planned invitation distribution this Friday, and then Saturday mornings will be busy again!  We're looking forward to seeing our past students, as well as meet some new ones!  Your prayers for these meetings would be greatly appreciated!

Well, I think that's most of our news caught up for now!  Hopefully soon I'll be able to sit down and go through some of our trip pictures and so some posts with them.