Friday, December 14, 2007

School Play

All three of our kids were "stars" this week in their school play. Remember the classic, "Wizard of Oz"? Well, this was "Christmas in Oz" - the general storyline with a little twist. Munchkin Jonathan. Rebekah as the "Good Fairy - Glinda". Joseph as a tin man. Our friend created a little slide show with the pictures she took. I tried my hand at the scrapbook thing and posted it below this blog. Also, I captured some video of Rebekah's ballet dance - enjoy!
Click to play Christmas+in+Oz
Create your own scrapbook - Powered by Smilebox
Make a scrapbook - it's easy!

All the kids did an excellent job and put in a lot of hard work.

There is supposed to be a DVD of the show, so we'll have to see if that turned out . . .

Friday, December 07, 2007

Practice makes perfect


All three kids are working hard at school, not only in their studies, but also in practices each day for their Christmas play in the theater. They are so excited about it and have enjoyed everything from the costumes to the singing to the speaking role that Rebekah has. They're in a production of The Wizard of Oz with a little twist - Christmas in Oz. The directors of the school, knowing our thoughts concerning witches, changed the "good witch" into a fairy, which is Rebekah's role. I know, it's a well-known classic, but I still have a problem with the witch thing . . .. Joseph is in the group with the tin man. And Jonathan is a munchkin. The kids gave us the joy this week of hearing their Christmas song (in Spanish) and presented it to us with the hand movements and everything. If everything works correctly, it should show up below. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Turning 5

Happy Birthday Jonathan!

Our little guy is not so little anymore . . . he turned 5 on the 8th of this month. He enjoyed several days of celebrating which started on his actual birthday and lasted through Sunday. We have made the tradition of allowing the kids to pick a place to go and eat for their birthday dinner. So, on Thursday we went to a place called El Portón. You could probably liken it to Bob Evans in the sense that it is a "nicer" place to eat, but they have "packets" for the kids that include a drink, dessert and a prize when the meal is over.
Friday was his party at school. He was VIP all week and the parents of the VIP bring in lunch for the whole class. We also celebrated his birthday, of course, with singing and a cake.



On Saturday we celebrated with the kids from church. This party took place at our house where we rented an inflatable jumping thing - they're called brincolines here. From when we were kids, we remember one called the MoonWalk in Erie. Does that still exist? The kids had a blast although we did have a few collisions, including Jonathan who got bonked near his left eye . . . again. Nothing like a shiner on your birthday - poor thing!




On Sundays at our church they celebrate those who had a birthday the week before, so Jonathan along with another young person in the church went up to the front to be prayed for, sung to, and hugged by the rest of the congregation! Here he is getting a hug from his brother.


He actually still has a few presents that he has yet to open. Dave thought it would be a good idea to elongate the process so that he could enjoy each thing that he receives. He hasn't complained yet, so we may continue this idea for the other kids as well! ;-)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Enjoying the kids, missing Dave

Wow - what an interesting week. Dave left Monday to attend a conference in León, Mexico - a 26 hour bus ride away from Mérida. That same day I learned how to make (more or less) 2 new dishes from friends who are from Mexico City. One dish is very economical yet full of flavor and is made with chicken, eggs, rice and green sauce. The other is a little pricier but elegant in how it is made and served. It is called "cuete mechado." You need a pressure cooker, but maybe I can make it using some other means. You stuff a roast with carrots and raisins and almonds and cook it in a tomato based sauce with bacon. I know, your mouth is watering already. Anyway, when it is done, you slice it so that you can see the different things you've stuffed it with, pour some of the sauce over top and it looks very fancy and is delicious :-P

The next day I took Joseph to his sports class at a stadium and I walked for about an hour myself - felt very good. That afternoon the kids had homework and made flags from 3 different coutries because they're learning about the United Nations Organization. - Egypt, Portugal, and New Zealand.

Wednesday I was invited to watch the kids present their countries and the school had a moment of silence for peace in the world. I thought about missionaries being in all of those countries . . . Then everyone released a white balloon into the air. (There are no laws regarding this practice here in Mexico.) I hope no birds or airplanes were affected . . .
The day continued normally until I went to pick up Jonathan (1:30 pm)- I backed out of the driveway and realized that a tire was flat. After stopping the car 2 houses down, I got out to inspect the tires and noticed that, not one, but two tires were flat! One was down to the rim, so I thought I might put on the spare and drive to get the other pumped up at a gas station - easier said than done. We have a Speed The Light (STL) vehicle which is a Ford Expedition - in other words, a big truck! Come to find out there are special mechanisms underneath plugs just to let down the spare underneath the vehicle. Needless to say, I had NO idea! So, I decided that first of all, my kids needed picked up - so I called my trusted friend and missionary Sandy and she came to my rescue in not only picking up my kids from school, but also letting them hang out with her until I could get things under control. Thank you, Sandy! Then, I called my friend Liz to see what she would do in this situation. She also came to my rescue in knowing someone who works at a Firestone here in the city. Not only did she know someone, but she went and picked up an employee from the place, and took him to my house to fix my flat. Wow - and during her lunch break - thank, Liz! I'd love to make a long story short but there is more. Once he got the spare on, he tried to inflate the other one, but found a hole in the other one as well! What to do? I only had one spare . . . Ok, my dear friend takes the guy and the tire to the shop to repair it then her sister (also my friend) picks the guy up later and brings him again to my house to put the fixed tire on so that I can go this time to get everything looked over and fixed. So, we get to the shop, he fixes the 2nd tire, puts the spare back under the truck - whew! Then I get the bill . . . $148.72 mexican pesos, which is, roughly, at the current exchange rate, $13.72 American dollars! Does that even sound possible? Well, I was one very thankful individual and you know where I'm going for any more tire troubles!

This brings us to Thursday, when I had another opportunity to walk at the stadium while Bekah had her sports class. The kids were getting out early from school so I thought we'd do a picnic at the park and let them ride bikes. When I got home, I realized that one bike needed new pedals put on, another needed brakes fixed, and the 3rd needed a chain guard because it was getting grease on Jonathan's clothes when he rode it. (No, we hadn't had the bikes out for a little while.) Oh, and they all needed air in the tires. Hey, let's go the bike shop today! So, we hauled the 3 bikes to the shop and after purchasing the chain guard and getting the needed repairs, I spent another $5 - not bad. Off to the park! It was a beautiful day, sunny with a cool breeze, which is a welcome change around here. The kids enjoyed being outside. I did, too. We ate PB&J and baby carrots, drank sports' drink, and finished things off with a piece of candy. We looked up at the clouds and decided what they all looked like - horses and planes, dinosaurs and eagles. Bekah thought the sky was trying to celebrate Independence Day by making a Mexican flag but couldn't get the eagle holding the snake just right! I love the imagination of my kids! I was pretty tired by the end of the day, so we hit the sack early.
Oh, one of Jonathan's quotes this week was about pancakes that the kids had at school Thursday. They were trying to tell me that the pancakes were the kind you buy and not homemade. He said, "she got them at the 'already-made' store!" - I guess we have quite a few of those "already-made" stores these days, don't we?

I decided to make some "real" pancakes Friday morning for my kids - we tried some with local honey and others with real maple syrup - yum! Friday was a free day for us - no school! We had made plans to go to the zoo with another family, but it ended up just being us. We still had a super nice time :-) We saw a baby deer who looked like it had just been born that day. We ate corn dogs for under $1, rode the zoo train for a peso a piece (that's about $0.10), and 3 cotton candies for $1.50. The neat thing about the Mérida zoo and park is that you can also get things like mangos, other fresh fruits and Dominoe's pizza - quite a variety! That afternoon the kids watched School House Rock - America while I tried to sleep off a migraine headache. This long without Dave's yummy coffee can do weird things to one's body ;-) Well, the nap didn't do it, but I prayed and asked a friend to pray and by Saturday morning it was gone - yeah! Thank you, Lord!

So, Satuday morning we head out to the Mérida English Library to return our books and get some new ones. They're remodeling right now, so the kids' area was closed off. That just meant we didn't stay quite as long. No problem. We got a few books that were near the front desk and bought some Neem tree honey that they sell there as well. Next we headed to a local shop to buy some guayaberas for our boys. On Wednesday they are supposed to go to school dressed in mestizo/mestiza and we haven't really bought any typical clothing for the kids, except for Rebekah having a dress or huipil that is white with purple embroidery. We then went to Wal-mart to pick up some food before heading home, trying to get ready for Dave's return. I did a little house cleaning, the kids watched Peter Pan, then we headed to their Saturday class at church. While they were having their lesson I slipped out to a coffee shop to get myself a cappuccino so as not to have a replay of the night before . . ..
Here we are now, watching Game 3 of the World Series(Boston is crushing Colorado), waiting for a call that says that Dave is 1/2 hour away. Will he catch the end of the game?

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Independence Day

Here in Mexico, people celebrate Independence Day in September. This year, we had the opportunity to travel to a small town and celebrate not only Independence Day but a birthday, too. Some friends of ours from church have been asking us to visit Celestún with them for quite a while. Finally, we made plans to celebrate Henry's birthday with his family in this somewhat small fishing town. So, we packed up our hammocks and a few changes of clothes and headed out for the weekend following their little red voltswagon all the way.

When we got there, we settled in briefly then headed to the beach and let the kids play while we spent time talking with Henry's son, Alan, and his wife, Luisa, who are expecting their first baby soon. After working up an appetite, we joined their family for some fresh seafood - fried fish fillets and ceviche de pulpo (octopus) - YUM!


After filling up, we spent a relaxing afternoon just laying around, then walked to the park in the town square to eat ice cream. Since the sun was getting lower in the sky, we headed back to the beach to look at seashells and watch the sun set - Beautiful!


The evening event was Henry's birthday party. He had asked Dave to share from God's Word in a prayer/blessing to start the festivities. It was a neat opportunity as most of the exended family attending does not share the same relationship with Christ as Henry and his family do. His birthday falls on Independence Day and the traditional meal is pozole, so Henry's wife, Julia, cooked this incredibly delicious traditional dish made in this part of Mexico with turkey and hominy.



The tradition for Independence Day is to participate in "el grito" or shout at midnight in the center of town. In the town square, of course, there are also vendors, traditional dances, comedians, and patriotic traditions such as singing the national anthem. The kids had a blast staying up late and watching the fireworks display afterwards.
Click on the "play" button below to watch a short video of the Independence Day celebration.


Celestún is know for the flamingos that gather there, so although we missed out on the wildlife during this trip, it gives us another great reason to return soon!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Homework Happens

Well, it has been 3 full weeks since our elementary kids started school and 2 weeks for our preschooler. My, how time flies. You would think that I would have more time online or at least more free time, but I haven't felt that yet. My schedule has been turned upside-down and that takes some getting used to . . .


To start with, there had been several things left "undone" since moving into our new place in the middle of August - primarily financial matters.
And then, there's the ministry side of things - having days open has allowed me to take advantage of spending time with fellow missionaries as well as our Mexican friends.

But along with "Mom" working on her "homework" inside and away from the house, I still have a role as teacher when the kids come home from school. We've done everything from dication to math to English to Spanish to drawing picture of flags and coats of arms. Even Jonathan brings home something to do during his after school hours.
Take a look at how diligently our kids are working - well, at least 2 of them. Our little guy is working on getting some more sleep!

Tonight we are attending our 2nd of 3 parent/family get-togethers. Rebekah has already made a good friend at school and we get to meet her mom in a few hours. Ah, the weekend . . . time to play a little :-)

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Jonathan's Guitar and his God

Kids are great at making up songs and poems and coming up with great sayings, don't you think? Recently, Dave purchased some new strings for Jonathan's guitar (which is really just a toy and doesn't have a consistant sound or anything), and he has spent time every day since playing it. I had to record this song that was created and sung by Jonathan this afternoon while his brother and sister were working on homework. This one is entitled "God is always beside me."
> video



Just afterwards, I recorded what was actually his first song which was about his guitar. His brother gave him the idea of how to finish it off . . .. Aren't kids amazing?



Tuesday, August 28, 2007

First Day of School


Do you remember your first day of school? I'm having trouble remembering mine, but getting the opportunity to relive it through my kids (at least a little). Yesterday marked Day 1 for Bekah and Joseph and, oh, was it eventful! We drive our kids to school here, about a 5-10 minute drive, depending on traffic. Besides Joseph not really wanting to go or get ready the morning of, all arrived and entered without too much trouble. Now, Jonathan, on the other hand, was losing his siblings on this "horrible" day, so Dave made it extra special for him by making him some hot chocolate from his espresso maker (yes, I said hot, here in Mérida!). That seemed to make it all ok.

But the fun started after school when we were informed that Rebekah had fallen at recess and hurt her knee. So, as she came limping out of the school doorway, we were a little more than concerned. We had planned to eat out because it was the kids' first day of school, but we knew that immediately afterwards we would be heading to the hospital for a consultation. She was still hopping around. What we found out was that, basically, she sprained her ankle and would need to rest it for a few days . . . poor thing. We are thankful for medical insurance and the ease of getting care here. There was no waiting to speak of and we received the results very quickly. She is home now with her foot all bandaged up, working on her school assignment from yesterday. Not wanting Rebekah to get all the attention, the boys posed to show that they, too, needed to receive a medical opinion on their condition - little brother syndrome, I think that's what it's called. Well, today Joseph had to "go it alone", braving the new school on his own. It isn't easy for him anyway, so we'll see what the outcome is this afternoon. Maybe going solo was a good thing . . .

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Finally - Xcaret!


We did make it to Xcaret - we actually went the day before going to Isla Mujeres. It is an incredible place - lots to do and amazing stuff to see - animals, swimming, maya village, butterfly garden. We don't have pictures of this but we all snorkeled in an underground river. It was kind of cold and a little awkward for the boys, but Bekah did an incredible job with her snorkel gear. I was impressed. Another highlight is the show they put on in the evening - really a first class presentation of Maya culture, Mexican culture, and traditional dances. Sadly, our batteries died out during the performance, but we enjoyed a ball game - Maya style (you know with the hoop on the wall like you see in Chichen Itza), tradiational dances from different regions in Mexico (one called Viajitos or in other words, "senor citizens" where all the male dancers wear masks depicting old men - then at the end they reveal that they actually are in the elders category!), and men hanging from ropes at the top of a huge pole and spinning. Ok, I'm done, I'm not doing the show justice, but you can see some professional shots here.


There wasn't nearly enough time to see and do everything - going with a group kind of lent itself to that, but we really enjoyed what we were able to experience right down to the buffet dinner "included" in our ticket price ;-)
The place costs and arm and a leg, but if we ever save up to go there again . . . we'll get there when the doors open and stay til they kick us out. Enjoy the few shots we did manage to take on the slideshow or check out the photos on this website.

Back to work now . . .

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Isla de Mujeres

The Friday of our Cancun vacation, we "chose our own adventure." Heading out the door of our condo with a picnic lunch, we drove to Puerto Juarez, parked the car and hopped on a ferry traveling to "women island" (I like the name better in Spanish . . .). Once there, we rented a golf cart and explored the island on a gorgeous day - the last of May. As we explored, the kids fed sea turtles, touched a shark, picked up a starfish and shell souvenir, enjoyed a picnic lunch, and swam in the ocean. Later, we enjoyed seafood at a local restaurant and splurged afterwards on ice cream - yummy! The trip back on the ferry was incredible as we took in the beautiful colors of the sunset and felt the ocean breeze on our faces.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Yahoo Avatar




Yahoo! Avatars

Just a fun little thingy I did online - the kids had fun helping me pick out stuff that were similar to what mommy wears . . .
So, does it look like me???

Monday, June 18, 2007

Spanish Kids Praise Song

Click the play button below to view a movie I made of the kids singing a praise song at church - it's in Spanish, of course.
Enjoy!

Dengue

For anyone who has traveled to, lived in, or thought about living in a foreign country, you have probably heard about the risks of certain diseases associated with that country. Here in Mexico, there is a risk of contracting something called dengue.
Our first close encounter with this disease occured when the health department here in Merida came by our house with fumagation equipment, rang our doorbell, and cordially explained that after receiving word of a confirmed case of dengue in our neighborhood, they were sent out to fumagate the homes on our street (free of charge). We graciously let them in, they were here 5 minutes and gone. Ok, so the threat of dengue is clear as well as near to where we live.
A few weeks later the health department showed up again, this time with a solution to put in the drains of our showers (a place where mosquitos can breed) and did a quick check of our home and patio to see if there were any containers, etc. to hold water after it rained (another breeding opportunity for those buggers). Before leaving, the health lady advised us to seek medical attention if we or our children were to come down with a high fever - one symptom of dengue. Wow, they really take this thing seriously . . .
Now let's fast forward to two weeks ago, June 4th. Tuesday afternoon, Jonathan comes down with a fever - it's high. We call Sandy, our friend, fellow missionary, and nurse. What do you think? Well, not knowing details about the disease, she offers to come with me to see the Dr. at the hospital here (for support as well as to find out more about this fever.) While we're there, Jonathan decides his stomach doesn't agree with what he has eaten (lucky for me, in the hospital bathroom, not mine). In short, after this visit, we are told that it is mostly likely not Dengue but possibly rotovirus (although he had no symptom of diarrhea) and to simply follow steps for hydration (giving lots of fluids), fever control and rest. Ok, yeah.
Two days later Jonathan is still sick with fever and pain when he closes his eyes and now Rebekah has a fever and experiencing body pain, too. Hmmmm. We decide to go in to see the kids' pediatrician. Different from the US, many doctors keep evening hours. So, we went in around 7 and didn't get home until after 10! Our Dr. had a lot of information to give us, he was very thorough and gave us print outs with more info. Confirmed by our pediatrician, our kids did not have dengue. He is on a team that has done research in this area(and had just returned from some kind of meeting/conference), so he had a lot to share. I felt good, knowing that he was well informed and could outline the "whys" when it comes to our kids. Anyone who knows me, knows that I really need those "whys" in life.
So, we waited and prayed and hydrated and controlled the fevers and made them rest for 4 days each until the fever disappeared. Now you would never know they were sick - Praise the Lord!
Is dengue still a threat? yes. We have mosquitos and it is transmitted in that way. But now we can approach it with a knowledge of what to look for, what to expect. Thank you to those who read my post with the prayer requests - all the knowledge in the world is useless without the Lord and the healing and saving power of His Son, Jesus. I want to give Him the glory for the health of our kids.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

For your enjoyment - The forest in Quintana, Roo



Click the play button on the video below to see some footage of the forest and its creatures . . .

Rainy Day Forest Trek - Cancun Day 4

Wednesday of our vacation was sort of preplanned, but without knowing any details as to the "contents" of our day. We have made friends with a few families at the kids' track class and one of the dads works a few days a week in Cancun. He had some business there on Wednesday morning and wanted afterwards to show us around the area. So, we met at a local shopping mall, headed to Puerto Morelos, and the kids swam in a hotel pool there while we talked and ordered our lunch at the outdoor restaurant on the beach.

Afterwards, we headed to a rainforest and trekked along a gravel road (the entrance at the time was locked up, but was apparently open to those wanting to walk) on foot to see some spider monkeys that our friend, Gabriel, had seen on previous trips with his family. I stopped along the way to take photos of the plants and bugs.
Cancun4

Later we headed on to a nearby cenote which was also located at the end of a long path through the woods, so I took some more photos. This time I included the family :-)
Cancun4B
We then returned to the original forest to see some wood carvings a local artist does - amazing work! This time we drove the car in because the owner had come by with the key! Sometimes you just need to know the right people :-)

These are the experiences you just can't get from a travel magazine or agency.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

3rd Day Detour - Cancun

We had incredible plans for Tuesday during our vacation. We planned to go to an ecotourism Disneyland-type place called Xcaret - very expensive but "totally worth it!" However, our plans were turned on end when Joseph woke up with worse asthma symptoms -mainly a deep cough. Plus, he just "looked" sick for those of you who know the look of someone with allergies acting up. So, although we were all pumped up to spend this incredible day in the sun and water, we traded it in for a trip to the doctor and then a trip to Wal-mart to buy some medicine and a nebulizer.
We didn't want this bummer of a morning to spoil our whole day, so we made a point to enjoy the pool at the condominium and then splurge (and I mean Splurge!) on dinner at Bubba Gump's Shrimp - Cancun.

Jonathan increased his confidence in the water, showing us he could indeed hold his breath under water and also jump into the arms of his new friend, Brandon, in the deep end of the pool. Bekah strengthened her ablility to float on her back and played games with her new friend, Stefi. And, Joseph turned his sadness into smiles using his goggles to see and swim underwater like crazy.

Prayer Requests:

Jonathan right now is in his 3nd day of having a fever. Being in a tropical climate, we treat fevers with a little more diligence than if we were in Missouri. So, we went to the Dr. on Tuesday evening and were told that it is likely a virus (possibly Rotovirus - but no definites) and to treat it as such. He did lose his supper Tuesday night while at the Dr.'s but hasn't since. Please pray that whatever is attacking him would BE attacked and that he would experience a complete healing - thank you.
Rebekah, as of today, also has a fever and complains of a headache. I imagine that it is the same as what Jonathan is suffering from. She is always so active and positive and her mood has changed dramatically today.

Joseph deals with allergies/asthma - please pray that his reactions would weaken and that the climate/environment here in Mérida would not continue to hinder his well being or our ministry here in Mexico - thank you.
On top of all of this, Dave is currently taking graduate Bible classes in Spanish for the entire month of June - it is very time consuming for him yet very rewarding and beneficial. Could these events all be connected on a spiritual level?
Thanks for staying connected with us through this website and Dave's ministry website.
Blessings,
Kelly

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Cancun - Day 2

On Monday we found a nearby beach and, after some trouble finding a place to park, grabbed our beach stuff and headed for the sand. The name of the beach is Playa Langosta. We didn't see anything even resembling lobsters (langosta) - not even a shell, imagine that! But the sand was white and the water blue and, well, we really enjoyed ourselves!


Coming next: Cancun Day 3 - Detour!

Monday, June 04, 2007

First Full Day of Vacation

Hey everyone,
I know I haven't written in awhile - can you say b-u-s-y? Well, we needed to disconnect ourselves for a short while, about a week, in order to refresh our spirits. It is late right now since I've been gathering some photos for the web, so I won't write a lot. Just enjoy the pics of the scenery, the food, and our family, during our first full day of vacation in . . . Cancun!

You can view them here:

More to come - stay tuned.
Side note: When you click on the photo, you are taken to a Picasa Web Album. If you choose to view the group of photos using the "slideshow" option, choose 8 or 9 seconds to be able to read the captions.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Mérida English Library

One of the advantages of living here in Mérida, Yúcatan, México is having an English library at our fingertips. Here we can find several children's books, language books, novels, guide books, and so on, not to mention rent videos from a somewhat limited selection. Every Saturday at 10, there is a story hour for kids, much like you would find in public libraries in our home town of Erie, PA or in Springfield, MO. For quite awhile, one particular American lady would do the storytime, but for whatever reason has left Mérida or at least stopped volunteering her time there. She was great and always did activities with the kids be it an art project or making cookies or just about anything that went along with the theme. So, after arriving several Saturdays with no teacher, we were pleasantly surprised to see a new volunteer - Sangita, a lady from India. She is here for a few months teaching dance and misses being around kids, so she now spends an hour on Saturdays hanging out with ours. Sangita knows several languages and, even though didn't know Spanish before arriving in Mérida, is expected to teach in the language. She already reads it very well, probably for knowing both English and French, among other languages. So, here we are in Mexico, attending an English storytime which has an Indian teacher - go figure :-)
You can tell in the picture that our kids are totally enthralled with the new accent and hearing stories in general. No, Jonathan is not covering his ears but simply holding on to his right ear while he sucks his left thumb - content as ever. Amazingly, I haven't heard questions yet from the kids about her nose ring or the design that she draws/paints on her forehead. I'm sure it will come one of these days. Sorry you can't see her face very well in the picture! She is a very intelligent woman and I appreciate her interest in our kids!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Happy Birthday to my Honey!

We had fun this year planning surprises for Dave. I knew that something BIG needed to happen for Dave's birthday and I got some help with the planning from the pastor of our church. We had 30+ people at our home on Saturday celebrating with us as we ate "tacos al pastor" - it's actually seasoned pork meat put on soft taco shells with cilantro, onion, pineapple, and sauces like guacamole and cream and hot salsa. Delicous - and one of Dave's favorite meals! After dinner at around 8:30 or so, we enjoyed chocolate cake and later played some games outside while the kids enjoyed a movie. On Sunday we ordered a really large cake from a family in the church and had a chance to celebrate with everyone in the congregation. I had fun watching the surprise on Dave's face throughout it all - 33 years old - WOW! (I know, I know, my day is coming . . . )

Just wanted everyone to know how old you are, Babe! And that we love you very much!

Happy Birthday!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Shark!

Ok, things are getting kind of fishy down here in Mérida. Guess where we were able to travel last week??? The beach! A family from church was planning to visit the coast with relatives - minor problem, one car and 10 people. They would have sent their kids on with an aunt and uncle, but we thought, "hey, we have a car and a few days with no plans - how about going together?!"

I love when good ideas become a reality :-)

We traveled to San Felipe, a small fishing town - a 2 1/2 hour drive from Mérida. There we rented a newly built one bedroom house that we shared with our friends. Yup, shared a one bedroom house with no beds and no kitchen installed yet. We strung 5 hammocks up in the "bedroom" and they put 3 hammocks in the "living room" each of the 2 nights we were there. Their relatives, who live in the place next door, had had their home destroyed by hurricane Isadora and were in the process of reconstructing their own home. So, despite the fact that their living room was in the remains of their wooden home, and the kitchen in the new part of their home didn't have a roof - they welcomed us with open arms to share in their life on the coast. The dad, Chucho, caught fish as well as a "small" shark, with which they prepared meals for all of us while we were there. The food was delicious but very different from any type of seafood I have had in the past. The mom, Martina, made a salsa of chili jabanero and garlic - yum!

The beach itself is not right on the mainland. The family took us on their fishing boat to the beach which was a 5-10 minute ride out where the water was blue and there were grass huts on which to hang our hammocks (boy, those come in handy!). All of us experienced a lot of sun (can you say "peeling"?) and waves. While in the town the second day, we stopped to buy "bolis" which are homemade ice pops made with fruit/water or chocolate/milk - yum, yum!! We saw the carcass of a horseshoe crab in the water, much bigger than the one we saw in Progreso, but instead of calling it some type of crab in Spanish, they call it a "cucaracha del mar" - know what that is? A Sea Cockroach! What an "aha! moment" when I figured out that one :-)
The highlight of the trip (as much as I love the beach) was spending time with these families. Our kids played with theirs, we shared food together, played on the beach, relaxed together - it was just good to be there. They plan to visit Mérida in June, and I am looking forward to the chance to reciprocate the hospitality and genuine love we experienced during our brief vacation in San Felipe. I pray that our "adiós" (good-bye) is in reality an "hasta luego" (until later)!


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Fish!

Our family finally had a chance to go to the beach. This time it was to watch a baptismal service with the people at the church. 6 people were baptized in the ocean while the kids half played and half watched. Very neat experience! Later on, after being in the sun way too much (I'm really burnt), we enjoyed fresh fried fish. I've never tasted fish THAT good. Here's Rebekah with her fish - teeth and eyes and all!
To read more about what we've been doing lately, check out our ministry website where Dave has more pictures from the baptisms.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Bowling Date

Dave and I have started a tradition with our kids to take each one out weekly to have some one-on-one time with them. We do a rotation where he and I switch off every week and the kids each take a turn so that in 6 weeks time, each child has had a special day out with each parent. We don't typically spend very much money but we do make sure to choose something done "together." This past week it was my turn to go with Jonathan and he wanted to go bowling! I have bowled before, of course, but it's a whole new set of words in Spanish and it was a little out of my comfort zone - but, we went and had a super time! It was fun for him to see his score on the computer overhead. I did beat him - but barely!




I really enjoy the personal time with the kids - away from interruptions and things that distract. Afterwards, we had some ice cream sitting at a bench together. While eating, two men walked by and Jonathan said to me, "there go the bad guys" and from there we had fun with a make-believe story of where they came from and what they were going to do. In the end, we were going to share Jesus with them so that they wouldn't kill people anymore . . .. It's fun to see how our kids' minds work - they are so amazing. Who knows where our next adventure will take us . . .

Friday, March 09, 2007

Traditions

One thing that creates memories in a family is tradition. Since coming to to Mérida, we have formed some new traditions through our weekly routines. We learned that a common breakfast here consists of some things rather strange to most people living in the US - pork sandwiches! Yes, as a kid, I would have the occasional cold pizza from the night before or at times heated up spaghetti, but normally my breakfasts included cereal and/or fruit and on special days eggs or pancakes.
Here, every Sunday, one of the kids and I go to the "Cochinita Stand" (our name for it) which I found out has an official name - "El Tio" - which means simply, the uncle. Cochinita, however, is the name of the pork meat that we ask for in a sandwich with onions. The stand is outdoors, and located a mere 4 blocks from our house. They've come to expect me every Sunday and I'm addressed as "reyna" which means queen in Spanish. To be honest, it's nothing unique. It's a way to address most married female customers - but I like it, anyway. Last week I asked if I could take their picture and they happily obliged :-)
Click on the photo to see more pics . . .


"El Tio"

Here is Joseph near the "cashier" - he has a way of being close money - he also enjoys seeing how things are done. Just to the left of where Joseph is standing, a young guy is making guacamole - a dip made with avocados. I told Joseph to watch carefully so that we could make it at home ;-)
The kids take turns going with me to the stand - part of that one-on-one time that kids need. It's amazing the conversations that start and the doors that open when I have my kids with me - what a blessing they are!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Poolside




What a blessing! Our whole family enjoyed not only the beach but the pool as well this week. The Schwartz family from Michigan invited us to spend a day with them during their vacation here in the Yucatan. The kids had a blast with Zeke while we adults shared thoughts and experiences from our lives around the dinner table and poolside. They even surprised me by bringing me Reese's peanut butter cups all the way from Michigan! Now that's what I call "sweet" fellowship!



Here's a few shots from the pool and the beach.




Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Beach

Since we arrived in September of last year, we've only had about 3 or 4 beach days or afternoons. Now, growing up in Erie, PA, going to the beach was a "given." You go to swim, to have a birthday party, to watch the sunset, even to ice skate (in the right season, of course). Here in Mérida, the beach is about 20-25 minutes away. Yup, that's it. And we can count the number of times on one hand that we've actually taken the drive to enjoy it. I'm hoping that number increases dramatically come summertime ;-)

Here's a look at the beach close to where we are - the gulf side waters of the Yucatan Peninsula. Remind you of anything? Lake Erie maybe? Granted, you can't taste a photo - believe me, the flavor of the water is nothing like the lake, but I'm suprised with the resemblance in other aspects. Oh, and you won't see any sunsets over this body of water - we face the north. Ok, there may be a few more differences - for one, the wildlife. Can you name these creatures?
The Yucatan is known for the great flocks of flamingos that migrate on the gulf side. We look forward to seeing more of these pink feathers in the future - apparently they can be seen by the 100s in certain areas along the gulf side of the peninsula (where these photos were taken). We have plans to go to a new beach today - maybe that's why I'm thinking about it so much. There will be more photos to come, of course. I can't remember what the name of this sea creature is - if you know, please comment. This is only it's shell, but we found quite a few like this on the sand during our visit.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Homonyms and the like

Sitting at the dinner table today:


Rebekah: I see an ant that is 1 cm long . . . or maybe 1/2 cm. (yes, if you were wondering, on our table . . .)

Joseph: Hey, ant is a homonym! Aunt like "great aunt" and ant . . . (smile)

Rebekah (to Joseph): What's an antonym?

Kelly: It means "an opposite" (I thought she was just asking whoever)

Dave(to Rebekah): What's a synonym? (refereeing the "one-upping" that was apparent)

Rebekah: I don't know.

Dave: It's the antonym of antonym (twinkle in his eye . . .)

Rebekah: OH, it means the same. (how did she catch that??? I know many of you are lost at this point . . .)

Joseph: It's a two-headed eye . . . (thank you, Joseph, this dinner conversation was getting a little bit to serious ;-) )



We had fun with this one, of course :-) Hope you enjoyed a little glimpse of our life around the dinner table.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Day of Love and Friendship

The title is a rough translation from the Spanish. People here aren't big on the Day of a Saint named Valentino. It was fun to see the people on the sides of the streets today selling heart balloons and all different kinds of flowers. Dave brought home a rose for both Rebekah and me and got special keychains for the boys today. Me? Well, my mom was always big on leaving little notes on special days and my dad has a habit of finding lucious chocolate covered strawberries, so I decided to go that route (by the way, thanks Mom for the call today!). When the kids came down for breakfast they each had a few gold chocolate coins and a little homemade card from Mom and Dad with a coupon inside (so, tell me, is it coo-pon or cue-pon??? comments are welcome . . .). Rebekah and I get to have a girl's outing of shopping, Jonathan and I played baseball in the front yard, and Joseph got to get out his Bubble Blower (a birthday gift) and make giant bubbles - aren't they cool?

Yes. It's beautiful, sunny, and it hit 90 degrees today. I should have turned on the sprinkler :-)

I know the "gifts" weren't anything big, but I know the kids appreciate my time as a playmate as well as a mom and teacher. I need to do it more often. After saying that, I think I'll go hang out with my hubby - after all, it is Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The importance of age

Driving in the car yesterday, the kids noticed a daycare. Since we've been looking at schools recently in Mérida, the kids are now aware of schools when we pass by them. I told them that it was a daycare and probably not even for kindergarten age, but Joseph thought it could possibly be for Jonathan's age to which Joseph said "for kids who are 4 and down." Not liking that comment at all, Jonathan retorted,"I'm NOT 4 and down - I'm 4 and up!!!"

Sunday, February 11, 2007

What a Party!

Joseph is 6 years old - I can't believe it! We celebrated the day of his birth last night at our house. It was probably an early celebration compared to some parties that are done here. Ours started at 5:30, got rolling closer to 6 and ended just before 10 p.m. I've been told that there are parties that START at 10 p.m. But we had fun with our Pirate Theme. Joseph picked out a dragon for his piñata since dragons are known to hide treasure in their lairs. Here's Jonathan taking his turn at punching the piñata.


The kids ate hot dogs and spaghetti, sandwichón (a sandwich made and cut like a large one layer cake), black beans, baby carrots, chips and little pastries. I made horchata ( a rice milk drink that is sweet) for the first time and a friend made and brought jamaica (a red drink made from dried flowers and suger added) to enjoy. Ahead of time I made scarves for the girls to wear in their hair like a pirate bandana and patches for the boys to wear as they followed clues to search for a hidden treasure -jewelry and gold coins with chocolate inside. Later, we brought in the cake - a pirate ship complete with cannons made from tootsie rolls and little red candies. (I made this one but got the idea from a website!)



There were a bunch of people who celebrated with us - people from church, fellow missionaries, a family we met at the English Library, and 4 families from the sports activities that the kids attend. A full house for sure!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOSEPH!