Thursday, December 02, 2010

A fun irony

Boat races where there are lakes . . . ice hockey in Canada . . . flying kites in large wide-open spaces . . . rock climbing in the mountains . . . these are all things that are normal, expected even.  But what about ice skating on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico?  Yes, where the climate is hot or hotter, all year round.  And yet, that is exactly what our kids did last week with their missionary friend who was visiting.  They also ran into (not literally) a few classmates on the rink.

A few stopped long enough for me to capture a photo:

And one just kept on moving:

This was an excellent break for all of us after our first few busy weeks here.  Kids with school stuff.  Us with trying to settle on/in a house and all that goes with that.  Plus, the meetings and services associated with the national convention for the AG in Mexico took place in our city. Just a few things going on . . .

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Learning the City

Right now the music from the school behind our apartments is blaring through our open windows as they ensayar (practice) for some kind of presentation tomorrow. And although our kids don't attend this school, they are also working on their own presentation for this Friday. We have returned to the city where we spent our first term as missionaries. It is the same city, but it is a very different experience. The first time, Dave arrived in our STL (Speed the Light) vehicle, crossing the border and making the 4-5 day trip with my Dad while the kids and I flew straight in by plane, greeted by our fellow missionaries. This time, the family flew in together, arriving at the airport to be greeted by friends that we had made during those first few years here. Last time, the kids and I stayed with our missionary friends and used their car to make purchases for the home we had already contracted while we waited for Dave to arrive.  This time we rented a furnished apartment until we find a house, all the stuff that goes with that, and a car.
However, while we are here without a car, we have relied on the bus system, taxis, and gracious offers to be picked up or dropped off somewhere by those same friends. Oh, and we walk. A lot. Places that take 5 minutes in a car can take 25 minutes or more. That means more time alloted to do basic things. You have to wait for buses and taxis, too. So, here is a snapshot of the family who walked to where we catch the bus, who waited and took the correct bus to get to a church service, but were let out several blocks away because the bus took a right turn a few streets early and didn't have a functioning buzzer to alert the driver that we would like to be let off. So this family then walked several more blocks to arrive at the church where we enjoyed a great service with friends. This is a small look at life in the city. So thankful for friends. But, ready for a car!
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Some Costa Rican Memories

This past weekend we were expecting some pretty stormy weather, so we stayed in most of the time. Friday evening we got together with some other missionaries for a game night - but we were enjoying the conversation so much that we never got to the game part - we just left that for the kids! On Saturday morning for breakfast I made a traditional meal of gallo pinto - Costa Rican rice and beans. The dish is made different ways and in several countries, but here it has a secret ingredient (that isn't so secret) called Salsa Lizano. Its closest substitute would be Worcestershire Sauce or Salsa Inglesa, but any Tico would tell you that it could not, would not taste the same without this key ingredient. I complimented the meal with some real bacon (we had been getting turkey bacon as of late), a slice of tomato, eggs, and some clementines (which were amazingly sweet!). Dave made us some Americanos to complete this Tico breakfast.

We also made plans to visit our friend, Mayra. We first met 5 years ago because she worked for us, coming to our house twice a week to help clean and occasionally make a meal for us. However, Dave put it well when he expressed to her how she became so much more, she was our teacher and our friend. She listened when we were just starting to speak the language, pushed our boys around the house in laundry baskets, and introduced us to the culture here in her country. On Sunday when we visited her at her house, she made us a simple traditional meal of pastel de yucca - a type of casserole dish that was filling and yummy. It was topped off with some baked plantain with a mozzarella-type cheese. It was a suprisingly tasty treat. What a pleasure it was to spend the afternoon with her and her friend visiting from Columbia, soaking in the beauty of different cultures.
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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Revisiting the Sites

When the kids are not in class, and we are not in class . . . we like to explore and visit new places. But revisiting old places can be fun as well, especially if it has been 4 or 5 years since being there! Walking down the main corridor of the Museo de Los NiƱos (literally "kid's museum") that had been converted from an old prison, Jonathan exclaimed, "I remember this place!" - he was 3 when he had last been there. I made sure to take lots of pictures. I imagine I will be able to find some more pictures to compare how some places DO NOT CHANGE much over the years.

Here we are enjoying the many exhibits, too many to include in photos. Some shown are images of a coffee plantation where Dave is standing, the inside of an old train on the right, some "old" clothing styles and instruments, an older plane (inside and out), what the kids would look like as an adult professional, and some art. The kids also felt what it was like to be in an earthquake (it was just a demonstration!), left their shadows on the wall like Peter Pan, got "shocked" by some electricity displays, wrote with Egyptian hieroglyphics, and walked through a tilted house of optical illusions . . . just to name a few.
Oh, did I mention that we did lots of walking to get here and also took the public bus? They do have taxis, but for a family of five, you're supposed to take two! That could get costly to always choose the taxi option.
Stay tuned for our next outing - it may include a volcano!
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Monday, June 28, 2010

Rain Out Rainbow

Stormy night, right before leaving for the baseball game. Bummer. Explanation to the kids about the possibility of the game being rained out. The tickets that we paid for, the dance routine Rebekah had practiced for, trying to 'prepare' for the worst case scenario (not just the kids, but Mom, too). But, we'll go, we'll take rain gear, and, yes, you have to WEAR the ponchos if it is raining when we get there!

When will the game start, Jonathan? Well, I can't say. They need to decide when it would be safe for the players. Thunderstorms can be dangerous and they're taking precautions. Yes, I'm thirsty, too, Joseph. Let's find a water fountain. Sure, Rebekah. We can walk around the stadium and check things out. Ok, go ahead and play on the playground equipment for a few minutes. Oh, come on! You're not supposed to cause your brother to sit in the water on the slide! Let's head back to where the others are.

What? they won't start until 30 minutes AFTER the last lightening strike they see? It's going to be a late night. Oop, there's another one. Wow, that one went all the way across the sky . . . hmm, 8 o'clock, so that means at least an 8:30 PM start . . .

Announcement: fireworks at 8:20, canceled game, stadium will close at 10 PM. Sure, go ahead and get some concessions - you brought your spending money. Look they're starting. MOM - there's a rainbow! And it's a full one! Have you ever seen that? A rainbow during a fireworks display? Amazing. Just gorgeous!

Pictures . . . sunset . . . more pictures . . . what a great night for a baseball game!

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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Summer "Make a Splash" Library Reading Program

School is coming to a close and summer is quickly approaching.  Most equate those two events, not even waiting for the official start on the 21st of June. We seem to be overlapping them!  Since our home school schedule is flexible, we didn't get started until September of last year, taking one week off during Thanksgiving, several weeks off at Christmastime, one at Easter and another at the end of April. This brings us to June with another week of school to go.  But the library doesn't know our schedule and their summer reading incentives began about 1 1/2 weeks ago!  So, I guess it is kind of like mixing business with pleasure - the kids get to count their "school reading" for the hours and activities that the library requires in order to get some cool treats this summer - coupons for free stuff, basically.

Here we are at Andy's where the kids enjoyed a small concrete.  Dave and I were content to have a few bites of theirs.  Well, at least I was . . ..  
On the way home we saw the sun setting and parked the car so we could run up the bridge that spans the train tracks and buildings and capture the sunset on camera (right before my battery ran out!!!).
What about your family? Do you have any fun activities, free or otherwise, on your list of "things to do" this summer?
Check out the library if you're looking for some new, low-cost ideas!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Castle ruins in the state of Missouri

In all the years we've lived here, not once have we traveled about 2 hours north to explore the castle ruins in Ha Ha Tonka State Park. It's fun to say! We only scratched the surface during our mere hour visit, but it was well worth the stop. We had a chance to see the Castle ruins, the dream of a man wanting a little European experience in America, purchasing 5,000 acres of land and building a mansion, his castle, overlooking the beautiful landscape. Sadly, he died before it barely began, and the enormous structure, completed by his sons, was destroyed by fire after only about 20 years standing. Now it's ruins stand vacant on the state park of Ha Ha Tonka overlooking the amazing natural land formations that exist because of the karst topography there. I hope we go back to take a trek over the natural bridge, or on a hike to see the spring that is the 12th largest in Missouri - supplying 48,000,000 gallons of water DAILY! You might want to include it in your Summer plans this year. Maybe we'll see you there!

Monday, April 05, 2010

New Traditions


What goes well with an Easter egg hunt? Why, scripture, of course!

When I was a kid the Easter bunny hid a basket for me to find, filled with yummy goodness, be it an enormous orange or a chocolate cross. I think my Mom had as much fun watching me hunt as I did searching through the house for my big basket treat. Not suprisingly, my kids enjoy the same kind of stuff. So, this year I looked for the message in the fun and found some great ideas for Resurrection eggs. I may be late in finding this gem, but better late than never. After specializing 12 of the many eggs that were hidden in the backyard, I labeled them carefully to distinguish them from the others. The kids found all the plastic eggs with goodies inside and rushed back into the house to check things out. We sat down together at the kitchen table with the eggs and our Bibles as they opened each egg from 1 to 12, discovering a tiny item representing some part of the final week of the life of our Lord with a verse to read along with it. From a miniature sponge to a die to spices from a tea bag, we recapped Jesus' amazing sacrifice on our behalf and His awesome resurrection from the grave as each, in turn, read aloud. It was fulfilling to watch their anticipation, from the oldest to the youngest, as each got their chance to link the pieces of the story together.
Jesus is alive! He arose - hallelujah!
Did you celebrate, too? What traditions does your family have? I'm always on the lookout for new ways to share God's truths from Scripture.
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Sunday, March 07, 2010

The Irish Wilderness of the Ozarks

Whenever we get the chance, the family stops at historical sites and parks. This past Monday, we were driving through the Mark Twain National Forest and saw a sign for the Irish Wilderness. My first name has Irish roots and my hair is auburn, but apparently I do not have a drop of Irish blood in my veins. However, I've always had an attraction to that country, possibly for the above reasons. Imagine my surprise when I saw something with Irish connections in the middle of the state of Missouri! Since I was behind the wheel at the time, I determined to stop and discover what this place was and why it existed. Everyone got out of the car as I pulled into the parking area - nobody else was there at the time. The kids had a chance to run down the trail a bit, and I took a few photos. There was no history or explanation to the name on site, so I had to do a bit of research. Thanks to the internet, research doesn't take quite as long as it did years ago. The site dates back to before the Civil War. The hope had been a new beginning for Irish immigrants, thanks to a Catholic priest by the name of Father Hogan. It didn't last long, however, and much about it still remains a mystery. But what has been discovered is documented in a book that recently won the Gold Medal Award for non-fiction.
Although our visit lasted all of 10 minutes, the kids were able to let out some energy and I was able to satisfy my curiousity. Sometimes we just need to stop to taste some history even when there aren't any roses to smell.
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