2006-12-31

See you next year!

We're ringing in 2007 watching ALL the LotR movies and eating all sorts of goodies. It's just us and our girls (Kelly & Amy) but it suits me perfectly! It's a cool foggy day; we've been lounging, and the kids have been out to ride bikes twice. Nic can start himself on his bike now. We'll have to put up a video.

Anyway, Happy New Year to all of you!

2006-12-30

Crazy World

This morning I got up (late) to the news that Saddam Hussein had been hanged, and that a car bomb had exploded in the parking garage of our new terminal 4 of Barajas airport. First of all just wanted to let everyone know that we're safe and sound. So far there have only been injuries from the bomb blast (the authorities received a phone calling with a warning). It appears that ETA, the Basque separatist group is responsible, although they have had a ceasefire in place lately.

It's just senseless, because it's such a cowardly way to cause fear, panic, and material damage. For almost 40 years this group has been resorting to violence. So far it has not earned them any sympathy or many results.

I wonder where these people are today. I would imagine they are hiding, completely on edge in case they are discovered. I can't imagine that this feels like a very honorable way to be living life. It makes me sad for them.

Thankfully, we live life with the Peace of Christ in our hearts. Despite the violence in the world, I do not have to worry about my safety. Instead, I could chuckle with my kids as they watched Road Runner cartoons for probably the first time this morning. I can start the dough for cinnamon rolls in the bread maker. I can revel in Meg's enthusiasm for being able to ride her bike and her plans to play more with the other kids in the building this summer ("Now I can play with them in the pool AND on bikes!")

May God bring His peace.

2006-12-29

More Vacation Bliss

This morning I had to be at the dentist with Meg at 9 for her to have her "study" done (X-rays, impressions etc.) It took longer than I thought and it was pretty chilly while we were waiting for the bus. Of course since it was one of the mornings I had to be out and about, Nic slept until 9:30!!!!

The kids are doing great on their bikes. Meg looks like she's been riding for years. Nic just needs to learn now how to start himself and they'll both be good to go! Nic is tickled pink to be able to ride. I think it has given his confidence a real boost. He is my snuggle bug so I've been enjoying lots of cuddle time with him this week.

Made pizza for dinner. A great way to get rid of turkey leftovers is to make BBQ turkey pizza. I make the dough in my bread maker, use BBQ sauce instead of tomato sauce, and load it up with cheese, onion, a little bacon and loads of turkey. Yummy! Meg had it tonight and loved it.

We've been doing more reading, puzzle-making and just lolling around. I am less hoarse today and feeling like I'm on the mend.

Instead of a big party for New Year's, which is not our style, we're going to have a Lord of the Rings marathon and watch all three movies. Not sure if many people are even in town, but it sounds like a nice plan to me; stay in and away from the craziness!

I can feel the stirrings of the great 2007 clean-up/organize/purge but that will be next week :)

2006-12-27

Vacationing at home

We're on vacation this week, at home. It's the kind of vacation that means you don't have to pack anything, that you can stay in your jammies all day (unless it's your turn to walk the dog, then you must put on real clothes. There is no walking the dog in Spain in your jammies.) I love vacations like this, and I'm so thankful that I'm married to a man who does too. When we vacation at home there are lots of naps on the couch, batches of popcorn popped, movies watched, board games played, etc.

It means you can sit on the couch with your laptop and read blogs/websites, rip Cd's onto your computer to put on an SD card to use your PDA for an MP3 player, chat with a good friend in California and watch 24 all at the same time.

This morning I had to get up and get out of the house to go meet with the woman who will be doing Nic's assessment on January 10. I really liked her, and it set my mind at ease that he will be getting good help. She seemed to think that his class is working on material that is quite difficult for his age. Anyway, we'll see what happens.




2006-12-25

Sigh of Blissful Contentment

We had a a great day. It's 7:05 and I feel like it's midnight I'm so tired :) But it's a good tired. I didn't really feel it until I sat down to watch Cars with the kids. I was up until 11:30 finishing the wrapping and got up at 6 to put in turkey #1. Went back to sleep for a little while, but not long enough! My cold and I will be sleeping in tomorrow! I have hardly had a voice today, so I guess we can all be thankful for that :)

There were 17 of us for Christmas lunch (we missed you Miriami and Heini!). The only sad part was that they confiscated the cranberries from Amy's friends Ian and Kristy in England! Apparently cranberries are a very dangerous weapon. Very very sad. What will I have on my leftover sandwiches?

More later, but Merry Christmas everyone!

2006-12-23

The Cold Part II

The kids must have brought me the gift of germs this Christmas from school. Meg has been sneezy and runny-nosed, Nic has been coughing at night and just came to complain of a headache. Yesterday while on the way home from a monster grocery shop (thank-you Amy for pushing a second cart for me!) I felt a cold coming on with the urgency of a train-wreck. It's a doozy. I have a sore throat, stuffed up nose and feel generally horrible. Joy!

I got all the gifts wrapped today; just have to do stockings. Then tomorrow night after kids are in bed we have to get their bikes out of the car and put the kick-stands on. And I have to come up with clues for scavenger hunts as bikes don't really fit under the tree :)

Tomorrow our church community will gather for lunch and a small program together. Then at 5 we'll start our traditional Christmas Eve bingo (long tradition in Troy's family) and then we'll watch Polar Express (yeah, yeah, I know, get behind me Santa.)

Sometime tomorrow I have to roast one of the turkeys I got since they weren't very big, and we all know Troy will be wondering if we are going to have enough food!

2006-12-22

Merry Christmas

From our house to yours
Merry Christmas!

2006-12-21

A long winter's nap

It feels like it's really getting to be Christmas now. The kids got out at 1 today, and as promised, we took them to a Chinese restaurant a block away that has an aquarium in the floor under part of it. Then we came home and I had a wonderful long nap.

Tomorrow I have to finish up stocking shopping, wrap stuff, and do my big grocery shopping. In the evening we're going out with friends for dinner.

I am feeling very protective of this beautiful little boy. Not too unexpectedly, Nic's report card was not very positive. Then on Wednesday morning, the woman who will be doing Nic's assessment called to make an appointment for next week for us to meet with her before she sees Nic. I just want to say that we really do want to get this done; if Nic really has learning issues then we want to deal with them. But my heart is not thrilled at having to deal with this at Christmas-time. I know he has issues. But my mother's heart balks at having a stranger who knows nothing about him spend a tiny amount of time with him and then summarizing my son. I'd like to wrap him in a cozy blanket and sit with him on the couch in the dark and look at the tree lights together for at least a month, and then maybe I'll be willing to face this.

Nic with Alleke Grace

On a happier note, my package from Lucy just arrived, so I have my roasting bags for my turkey on Monday. Yay! Lisa, our prayers were answered :) At last count it seems we will be having at least 20 people around our table for Christmas dinner, which is just the way I like it. We're excited that a family we know from school from India who live only a block away will be joining us.

I did not get all my Christmas letters ready to send to the US for cheaper postage, so now I have to decide what to do with the rest! I can't face paying $1.00 per envelope from here! It may be that the rest have to be electronic!

Anyway, time to get the kids some dinner.


2006-12-19

A jump on the new year

I always get a little bit reflective this time of year. I get all kinds of organizing urges, sort of spring-cleaning in every area of my life. In my house, but also in my heart and my soul.

I don't make new year's resolutions, because they just set me up for failure. But I do hope to grow and change.

One of the things I have felt deeply lately is the power of words, my words. During this time of year it's easy to spend money on my family and friends. But presents don't matter much if I am crabby, if I am harsh, or unkind. The most beautifully wrapped present does nothing to take away the sting of harsh words or a thoughtless comment. My children would much rather have a snuggle on the couch with a calm and present Mom than barked orders from a Mom on a mission to buy more stuff. My husband would treasure tenderness more than bounty. My friends will be more blessed by a gentle spirit than even the most thoughtful gift.

So this Christmas, and in the new year, I will seek to give the gift of a tongue that is under control.

2006-12-18

It's time for some fun

I looked around for a more serious template that I liked and really couldn't find one that wasn't boatloads of work and I couldn't be bothered to go through and re-do all the changes I had made before.

I love this Pixar short, so when I found this I decided it would be fun for awhile. So there you have it!

2006-12-15

"Fighting" for Advent

I haven't posted in so long that I'm not even sure where to start or what to say! Getting the most out of the Advent season has definitely been a struggle for me this year! I STILL have not gotten our photos printed, even though we have had it ready for more than a week. I'm hoping to power out on Christmas letters this weekend, but we have a service tomorrow night and then a dinner party on Sunday night. I'm trying to take the time to pause and reflect as much as I can, but it has definitely only come in snatches. I finally was able to start my Christmas shopping today, which helped get me in the spirit because I LOVE buying people presents :)


On Thursday, "my girls" (amy, kelly & victoria) planned an amazing day to celebrate my birthday. First we met for breakfast, then we went here!

























WOW! The package they got us included 90 minutes in the baths, a 15-minute massage, and lunch in the restaurant afterwards. Floating in these baths was probably the best advent reflection time I have had!


There is a hot pool, one that is warm, and an ice-cold one, as well as the steam room, not to mention the spigot in the wall where you could get amazing cool tea. All I have to say is, if you live in Madrid, go NOW! :)

If I ramble any more this post will become a mile long, so I will leave you with my idea of what Burger King's new slogan should be: "Have it your way....the second time."

Enough said.

2006-12-03

Sigh of Relief

I was awake at 4 this morning, but I was not too unhappy about it because for the first time in probably four days I didn't have a headache. I think this cold is finally starting to loosen its grip on me. Anyway, I felt so much better that as I drank my fruit tea to ease the tickly cough in my throat I planned a hundred productive projects for today.

Yeah, so now it's 6:34 and the only real productive thing I did was give 3 haircuts. Troy did get our monthly newsletter done too. But I had some ambitious plans that don't look like they are going to happen today. Honestly though, that's OK. I needed a day like today to just recover from the last 10 days! I am really looking forward to this week because the madness of Thanksgiving and our housewarming are past, and the kids only have school on Monday and Tuesday. So the rest of the week will be forcibly less busy, and we have some fun plans like going downtown to the Christmas market, etc.

I really need to do something about Christmas letters and a photo, but not today. I also need to finish decorating the house for Christmas.

And you'll be happy to note I figured out a solution to my spell-check issues that began when I downloaded Mozzila 2.0 (which I love in every other way, especially the handy-dandy weather bar that I added to the bottom of my screen. It is now mostly cloudy and 46 degrees in Madrid. Yes, I'm a wimp and kept it in F. I just don't do well with C. I can do kilos but temps still befuddle me. All I know is that when it's over 40 it's hot.

Church last night was cool. We had people there that have probably never been in church. That always makes me so excited! Especially when they seemed to really engage, and one Spanish guy even stuck around to help us clean up. That's something some of the regulars don't even always do.

Troy and Nic are in Nic's room playing "crashing cars". All I can say is that it's a good thing the bedrooms have indestructible laminate on the floors and that Nic is blessed to have a Daddy who knows it's important for little boys to crash cars (even though it makes Mommy crazy), important enough to set aside the text-twist game on the computer when he JUST got Mommy to share her laptop.



2006-11-30

I have a code in my head

Yeah, the cold caught me. My head feels like a bowing ball. I'm going to drink a ton of liquids today and hope that helps. Also eating crackers with slightly spicy sauce to clear the sinus blockage :) Oh well. I'm sitting here waiting for my fellow Canuckies the Ginters to come for lunch, so I have a few minutes to kill. I have a long list of things I should be doing instead, like....
...figuring out what I am going to serve at our open house housewarming tomorrow night (from 5-10, come on over)
...finish decorating the house for Christmas (I haven't gotten farther than the tree)
...shorten the red curtain panel since my deliberate effort to shrink the other curtains to make them shorter was widly successful
...helping my husband put away the 3 tons of clean laundry that he just folded (by the way, if you don't read him, check out the amazing poem he wrote me for my birthday...)
...going out to buy those cheezy advent calendars with chocolate for my kids because Meg has had to remind me REPEATEDLY that TOMORROW IS DECEMBER MOM! Honestly, it has so snuck up on me this year.
...trying to figure out something to stop the dog from having nuclear powered gas. I don't know how germs can even survive in this house.

I feel like I have written nothing but fluff here lately, and I do want to get back into some more valuable writing. Anybody have any burning topics they think I should write about? Leave me a comment :) I have definitely been pondering a lot about raising a daughter (only because she's older) in today's world and trying to find a balance between innocence and awareness of the world. Whew!

Well, P31 (Troy) is making me look bad because he is getting cracking. Later!

2006-11-29

For some stuff about the kids, click here.

Is it December yet?

I'm actually looking forward to December because it's going to be calmer than November has been!

We had around 40 people in our house on Sunday for Oasis Madrid's Thanksgiving. The last people didn't leave until 9, so the day was definitely full. Many of the people there were new to us, so it was great to have a chance to hang out with some new friends.

On Friday Troy and I repainted the red wall in the living room with "good" paint, instead of the chalky cheap stuff. It looks so much better! On Monday we put up the Christmas tree. Doesn't it look purty?














On Saturday I turned 38, so in the evening Troy & I, and Amy and Kelly went to TGI Fridays for dinner and then went to see Casino Royale. I have to say I was annoyed they had gotten a new James Bond, but after seeing the film, I approve :)

I am still fighting off the cold but it hasn't hit me too hard.

This Friday evening we are finally having our house-warming, so come on over!

2006-11-24

Thankful

OK, you don't have to worry, my crabbiness of yesterday is gone :) It turned out to be a good day. After I resolved to be in a better mood, Troy and I went out to run some errands. Happily, I found a whole case of turkeys at the Carrefour in our old burb, so was able to buy good-sized birds for Sunday, something that made my day since the pressure of turkey hunting was off.

The prep for the rest of the day went well, even had time for a quick nap. There's nothing like opening the bedroom door and smelling roasting turkey! Yum.

Everything turned out well, and we there were 13 of us. Warren was like "If this is the more intimate, sit-down family dinner, what is Sunday going to be like?" Chaos, that's what!

Anyway, all the things I am thankful about are too many to list, but I am thankful that this boy of ours is still in one piece and that his brains are still in his head. This is how he looked when he came home from school yesterday.

He and Meg were playing tag after school when he did a face plant. That boy!



































So now are we recovering (so we can do it all over again on Sunday on a much larger scale.) We're enjoying leftovers. Yummy! And I'm trying not to get Amy's cold.

Tomorrow I turn 38.

2006-11-23

All I want for Thankgiving is a good night's sleep

I promise I will be more thankful later in the day, but Thanksgiving morning did not start out in a holiday sort of way. For one thing, in Spain it's just another day, so kids have to go to school and all that.

I have not had a really good night's sleep for the past week, for any variety of reasons (waking up in the night to realize I didn't have turkey roasting bags, a daughter who has not been sleeping well and thus has come into our room--to my side of the bed--eleventy-billion times, late nights etc.) I do not function well when I don't get enough sleep.

So I didn't start my day in the best of moods. My son woke up at 6:30, probably because he didn't eat well enough last night so he was hungry. During breakfast prep I dropped the milk frother on the tile floor, shattering it in a million pieces. Usually I have a spare (these things do not have a long life!) but I didn't this time. Meg spilled her word master-mindish game all over the floor of her room. The floor that had still had her school clothes on it from the day before.
Sigh. I'm about to go on a chart binge again. Every so often when my kids seem to not listen to a single thing I have told them a million times I get frustrated and make up charts for the things they are expected to do. I feel a chart coming on. I'm thinking that this time they are old enough that I can start using allowance and what-not for additional motivation.

Anyway, I decided that I've had enough crankiness for Thanksgiving. And even though Thanksgiving is not over, I pulled out some Christmas music :)

I AM thankful for my many blessings. And I will write a proper Thanksgiving post later on!

2006-11-22

More Thanksgiving Blessings

Yesterday I was in Carrefour doing the big-we-just-got-paid-again grocery shop, but especially everything we needed for Thanksgiving Dinner tomorrow.

I went to the poultry counter where in recent years I have managed to get a turkey without ordering. Actually, last Christmas I almost had a heart attack when I saw this beast sitting in the display case. Usually turkeys here run between 12 and 15 pounds. I was so excited I asked them to wrap it up for me before I even had time to wonder if it would fit in my oven. It did, barely. But I was not leaving that turkey there!

Anyway, the poultry case yesterday was full of chicken, chicken and more chicken. Oh, and some rabbits too I think. I asked the lady "You don't have any turkey?"

"No, not until the 25th."

"And there is no way to order one?"

"No."

So now I was resigned to a turkey hunt. I could most likely order one from my tiny local grocery store, but they would run pretty high. I remembered that Troy was out in Las Rozas, home of the Carrefour with the turkeys, so I called him and asked him if he could run by there and see if they had any turkey.

"Ramona has one," he said.

"What?"

"She just called me; she has an extra turkey. Call her."

So yeah, Ramona (Mom of wonder-boy Jonathan) has an extra turkey that she ordered and I can pick it up today.

Now I have to go order turkeys for the Oasis Madrid Thanksgiving at our house on Sunday. There are going to be about 38 of us!

2006-11-20

God of Reynolds Turkey Roasting Bags

Thanksgiving has REALLY snuck up on me this year. I love this time of year! I have been enjoying it so much, and November has been SUCH a crazy month. On Saturday night, I woke up the middle of the night for some reason or other, and realized, to my complete horror, that I did not have any Reynolds Oven Roasting bags, turkey size. You cannot cook a better turkey than in these bags! You don't have to baste, they make the best gravy, and better yet, you don't have to scrub the pan! Every year I get somebody to send me some of these for Thanksgiving and Christmas turkeys.

This year, I asked Amy's Mom to bring me cranberries. And I completely forgot about the roasting bags. Until the middle of the night on Saturday.

I went a little nuts trying to figure out how to get bags! I asked my friend Mary if they sold them in France. I asked my friend Jenn if they sell them in Canada because my other friend Karen is still there and coming back this week. Jenn said to me "you really want those bags don't you?" And I said "You have no idea."

Anyway, she was going to check for me today, once it was actually daylight in Toronto :)

A little while ago, I went out to give Amy & her parents directions to the gas station and then to Barcelona. Amy's Mom pointed me to a small paper gift bag on the sidewalk and said "There are your cranberries, and some napkins. And oh, you don't have to use them if you don't want, but I PUT SOME ROASTING BAGS IN THERE TOO!"

I almost fell flat on my butt on the bridge over the M-30. Then I hugged Amy's Mom. I think I did a little shrieking. Then I hugged her again.

And on the way home with my bag of goodies, I thanked God that He is a God of roasting bags. I know He was having a good smile at me while I went through the "find-roasting-bags-at-all-costs-gymnastics". I love how He gives good gifts; not just big ones, but little ones that make a special holiday even better.


2006-11-16

Proof of the Redemption

Awhile back I posted about pumpkin soup that was my redemption for the nasty looking spinach soup I made for Kelly & April.

"Even though my soup yesterday tasted fine, today I am redeeming myself. There is a wonderful pumpkiny smell in the air. I'm making pumpkin soup, which April actually taught me how to make. But she has not made it for awhile so I thought I would make it for her. It has become a favorite in our house.

One of the things I love about making pumpkin (or squash) soup is the long process. First I cut it into chunks and throw it in the oven with some water at the bottom of the pan so it won't burn. For a couple of hours it fills the house with a wonderful harvesty smell. When it's all soft and fragrant, I throw it in my big blue pot with a handful of potatoes & carrots, an onion, and some chicken bullion. After that the smell gets even better.

At the end, when everything is cooked through, I blend it all up, add a little milk, some salt & pepper and lately a dash of cloves. A little nutmeg is good too."

So here is the photographic proof!!

2006-11-14

It's been a crazy kind of day, a roller-coaster of emotions (yes, vastly helped by hormones.) This morning we went to the bank to try and return excess money that got wired here from Holland by mistake. You would have thought by the way the man there carried on that I was asking him to commit murder or perjury, or both. The way the banks work here is that you have to pretty much do everything at your own branch office. So tomorrow Troy and I have to drive all the way out to the suburbs to try and get this resolved. If anyone makes faces at me they might regret it!

Then I was supposed to meet Kelly to start (for the second time) going through Waking the Dead together. Only I could not find my book or workbook ANYWHERE! (If you read my blog and I lent these books to you -- yes, we are bad about writing down what people borrow-- can you let me know? :) ) I searched the house from stem to stern and this got on my nerves in a ridiculous way.

I talked to a friend who is having a hard time, I thought about someone who won't return my emails, I got myself worked up over all sorts of things.

As I felt myself winding up into a tight rubber band ball, I had the sense to finally sit down and spend some time with God. That, and hanging out with Kelly for a few minutes, and having lunch with Amy helped a lot.

As I made a salad for Troy's community group tonight I found myself on the other end of the emotions (I know, hormones, leave me alone.) I was deeply grateful for a lasting and deepening love that Troy and I share, for the fact that we live in a city where we can do quite a bit to treat God's creation with respect by living in an apartment that we love, taking public transportation most everywhere, recycling paper, plastic, metal, "bricks" (containers that milk & juice come in) glass etc. It felt good to be able to step back from the irritations and emotions of the day and feel a sense of satisfaction and gratitude.

On a lighter note, when I picked Nic up at school yesterday, he was telling me an animated story about a new girl in his class named Emma and how the others girls were pushing him because they didn't want him to be close to Emma. I said to him, "Well, don't worry about it buddy, sometimes girls are just silly." He looked at me with big eyes and replied very seriously, "Yeah, and ANGRY!" I got a laugh out of that one.

2006-11-11

Important Life Lessons

1. If your computer says "Inconceivable!" (a la Princess Bride) every time you get an email, it's probably not a good idea to leave the computer in the bedroom with you, unmuted, when your husband is not at home to protect you. Hearts can stop you know.

2. Just because the bank ATM says you can withdraw 1,000 euro daily(to give to the landlord because he forgot to tell you there was an EXTRA 425 euro charge coming out this month so the bank bounced the rent charge and threw his finances into huge disarray and it's BOTH his fault (because he didn't TELL me) and my fault because I forgot about what he didn't tell me, uh huh, doesn't mean you actually can. You can only take out 600. What was I thinking?


3. For the eleventy-billionth time, PREVIEW movies (even children's movies like The New Adventures of Heidi) because sad endings will reduce my daughter to a puddle of tears.


4. I TOTALLY cleaned the office today, re-arranged and organized my part of the space (I did not however, do my filing) and it looks amazing and I can see the top of my desk now. But the rest of my house doesn't look as good, sad to say!


5. 6-year-old boys do not like to spend much time browsing in the euro store. They're happy to spend 2.80 of the 3 euro you gave them on a notepad of paper to draw pictures and a plastic dinosaur, but once he has them picked out "Can we go now Mom?" Hunting and conquering indeed.

6. If you want a different color text in your blog post, choose the color BEFORE you type anything, or before you spell-check because you will end up with one big run-on paragraph. And WHY does blogger spell-check still say BLOG is a mistake????

2006-11-10

A mega post

I often write blog posts in my head. So often and so completely that sometimes I am surprised when I don't find them on my blog! Go figure.

Anyway, it has been a busy week, it's barely 10 pm on Friday and I am fading quickly. The dog is already snoring beside me on the couch. I'm going to buzz through the blog posts I have written this week in my head.

~~~





Oh how I love it! There are still mornings when I have to drag my butt out the door, but once I am on my way it's great. It's hard and some days it kills me, but it's GREAT. After a month I have lost at least 1 cm all over (2 in my bust, the one place I might like to keep a couple of cms!) except for my now bulging muscular thigh muscles where I have gained a cm :) I feel healthy, so much more energetic and strong. I have a poem in my head about this, but it's not quite formed enough to come out yet.

~~~
I haven't been lonely at all this week. Being part of Oasis Madrid is like having the softest imaginable fleece blanket to snuggle in.

We have this boy in our church, who is honestly, the kind of boy I hope Meaghan will find one day. He is almost too good to be true. On Wednesday night he came to babysit for me because I had to teach and lead my group at Cross Currents. He arrived right on time, and during dinner gave Meg one of his pieces of French toast because apparently 2 is not enough. When I got home, he had emptied the dishwasher and cleaned up the kitchen. The dog whined, and he took her out for me. He refused payment of any kind. I mean, really, where did this kid come from?

So yesterday I was thrilled to hang out with Victoria, because she is a very busy student and I just don't get to see her enough. We are the queens of buses, and we rode 2 buses from downtown back to my house, where we hung out on the couches (my day off). She walked to school with me to pick up the kids, which they were thrilled about. Later on I took the dog out again, and when I came in she was cleaning up dishes. I told her she didn't have to do that and she said "I'm trying to make Jonathan look less perfect!"

Yeah, so does anyone else want to come over and join this little competition?

~~~

So I am pretty sure there were a couple more blog posts I wrote in my head. But guess what, it takes a lot more effort to write them here than it does to write them in my head. Since I started this I have had 2 chat conversations on skype with friends far away, and now it's 10:34. My eyes are closing involuntarily, so I think it's time to roll the dog off the couch, check on my babies and crawl into my cold, bed-heaterless bed.

2006-11-08

Even the dog is dejected

Troy left early this morning to help lead an Oasis Madrid ministry team to Morocco. He won't be back until late Monday night. Nothing is quite right in our house when he's not here.

Meg woke early, at 6:30. I think she had set her mind that she would wake up before Daddy left. But he was already gone, and she sadly crawled into bed with me.

I forgot I was only making one cup of coffee and almost boiled my milk to death.

The dog hasn't even eaten her breakfast; she is cuddled up under a blanket next to me.

Nothing is quite the same without Daddy in the house.

2006-11-05

Life is Revving Up

It's a cold rainy Sunday morning. Life is gearing up for busyness, I can feel it. Sunday is always like that a bit because of getting ready for Monday morning. In our house that means making sure the school uniforms are clean, that there is something for snacks, etc.

This week we have added craziness because I have to give the teaching for the Cross Currents course on Monday and Wednesday both. And on Wednesday morning, Troy is taking our Morocco ministry team down to Morocco. He gets back next Monday. So I'm on deck. Meg has a dentist appointment on Friday, we have a service day for "our" homeless on Sunday...and so it goes.

Today the kids and I are driving out to the "country" :) to see our friends Sarah, Ivan and Sam. We were hoping to go for a ramble but I think it's going to be too wet.

I think the dog needs a play-date too! When we were trying to train Lexi, we read a book called
Surviving Your Dog's Adolescence (we did survive, barely). In it, the author talks about the play-times she has with her dog, as well as play-dates. I think Lexi would totally love that :) This morning I was walking her and we met a frisky year-old Cocker Spaniel (which was off the leash and still obeying its owner; something we were promised in several books we would never be able to do since we bought a Beagle!) and Lexi had a riot running around playing with it for a bit. Sorry Lexi, I don't see any arranged play-time in your future any time soon!

I certainly haven't been writing anything too deep lately, but oh well!

2006-11-02

A nice day

Yesterday was a great day. In the morning I got some work done, then my friend Lisa came over and she and Meg and I did some scrapbooking. (The kids are off school this whole week for mid-term.) After Lisa left to go teach some English lessons, I took a little snooze, then got up and cleaned my huge mess off the table and then cleaned the living room. We didn't have home groups this week due to the Nov. 1 holiday, but I invited the Wednesday group over for dinner. I started the pasta sauce, and then went for a walk to buy bread with one of the gals in my group and we had a chat. There were 7 of us for dinner and then afterwards we watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I hadn't watched it in quite awhile.

Today is our day off. Troy has a cold, and the kids are home so I have a feeling it's going to be a cozy inside day today. Works for me!

By the way, to read the story of God's amazing provision for us (if you don't get our email newsletter), click here.

2006-10-26

Conquering the Gadget Genes

A Tale of a Small Red Phone

On Saturday night, in the midst of a very strange weekend, my mobile phone died. I have only had it for a year and a half, but I think they make them to break so you have to replace/upgrade often. It would turn on, but the screen was completely black and it would not reset, even when I turned it off, took out the battery etc. I don't talk on my phone a lot, but I do use it a lot, and it's important to me that I am always reachable by school and family especially.

I was annoyed, but I ordered the second cheapest phone I could get through my mobile phone points through Vodafone. (The first phone I tried to get was apparently not available, so I wasted considerable time trying to chase that down.) In the meantime, Troy and I shared his phone depending on who needed to be more reachable. His phone is way older and shabbier than mine but still works well.

This morning I decided to try one last time to see if my phone would work. I put the SIM card in, put the battery back in, and turned it on. It worked!!!! Sigh. I went online to try and cancel the order for the other phone. Approximately 1 hour before the door buzzer rang.

It was the courier, with the new phone I no longer needed.
A fun little red flip phone. My little gadget heart beat quickly.

I looked at my perfectly good Nokia phone. I looked at my hubby's shabby old Motorola, with the black and white screen.

I gave my hubby the new phone. I wanted it, but I gave it to him. Hurray! At least once, I conquered my greedy gadget genes.

*I think I may have plugged my phone into my PDA charger instead of my phone charger, which may have freaked it out into not working for a few days. But it's working fine now. See where having too many gadgets gets you?

Conversations

Normal pre-dinner conversations...

"What are we having for dinner?"

"I don't know. What do you want?"

"I don't know What do we have?"...

Pre-dinner conversations when I actually HAVE a plan

"What's the package of chicken for?"

"Dinner."

"What are we having?"

"Curry."

Insert unhappy face.

"Can we have fajitas?"

"See, this is why I never come up with a plan! We can, but we don't have any peppers, and I am not going to the store."

Thoughtful pause. "I LIKE curry. I just don't want it TONIGHT."

"OK, we can have fajitas but they won't have peppers in them."

"Maybe when you take the dog out"....

"NO!"

2006-10-24

The tender side of Madrid

Last night on my way to community group, God showed me the generosity and beauty of the people of Madrid.

While I was on the metro, a woman got on who was trying to earn some money by serenading people (this happens quite often). Usually people look away and ignore these people (sometimes me included) but this time I saw many many people hand her coins. A young cool guy standing near me dug in his pocket AND his wallet to give her something. Wow.

Then, when I was about to turn onto Holy Spirit Street, an elderly woman fell in the entry-way of a building. People came RUNNING from several directions to help her up, dust her off and ensure that she was OK.

My heart swelled.

2006-10-23

Ohana

Troy and I are feeling much more encouraged today after a VERY hard day on Friday. We have gotten SO much affirmation and encouragement, and the Lord has begun to answer our financial need as well.

On Saturday night we had a church service, and after the service the congregation gathered around us and prayed for us. As I sat there with tears pouring down my face, strangely, I thought of the ending in the movie Lilo & Stitch. When Stitch is about to be taken away, he asks to say goodbye. He then goes on to say "This is my family. It is little, and it is broken, but still good; yeah, still good." Even though there were only 24 or so people at church, they are our family, and they poured out their love on us. And the beauty of being part of the family of God is that we are ALL broken.

We still don't know for sure what our future holds, but we DO know that we are loved and appreciated and cared for.

Thank you!

2006-10-21

Day of Prayer, Sunday October 22


We want to ask you to pray urgently with us. Our financial crisis has deepened due to the fact that we MUST get our account out of the red by the end of the year. This has forced us to take a hard look at our future here in Spain if the funds do not come in.

We've had a discouraging week, and just yesterday we met with Nic's teacher and a woman who provides assistance to kids in his class. At this point they feel Nic has some sort of learning delay or comprehension problem. While we feel that he only just started school and has a lot to catch up on, it still makes us feel like we have put him in this position with the educational choices we have made so far.

We have set aside tomorrow, Sunday 22 October, to pray and seek God. We need His provision financially as well as clear guidance. Would you pray with us? We would really appreciate it!

Blessings,

Troy & Heather

2006-10-19

Wind and Oil

After I finished my lament yesterday I thought I would have the women in our Wednesday night group do one for our worship time. While they were working on theirs, I wrote this, since I had already done my lamenting for the day!

I walked out wrapped in somber spirit
hope not dead
but surely subdued
braced against expected cold

instead I found
a sweet wind sending clouds on their way
unveiling clear rain washed blue
this wind
it carried the warm autumn

scent of fallen leaves

it lifted the corners of my shroud of sorrow
the edges fluttering in defiance of my grief.

Further

I was held captive and warm

in the sweetness of shared
spirit and the relief of lifted prayers

oil blazed the shape of hope
the cross
anointing me


Wind and oil

blowing, soothing my lament away

2006-10-18

A lament

One of the things I have really valued about my spiritual journey in the past few years is learning to worship God through many ways, and thinking outside the box with how I can express myself to God.

Today I have felt the weight of grief and stress from our financial situation weighing heavily on me. I decided to take some time talking to God about it, following the Biblical model of lament. (Good guidelines and examples of this can be found at this website as well as how to write your own lament, and express it with artwork)

My favorite lament in Psalms sounds like this (from the Message)

Psalm 6
A David Psalm
1-2 Please, God, no more yelling, no more trips to the woodshed.
Treat me nice for a change;
I'm so starved for affection.

2-3 Can't you see I'm black-and-blue,
beat up badly in bones and soul?
God, how long will it take
for you to let up?

4-5 Break in, God, and break up this fight;
if you love me at all, get me out of here.
I'm no good to you dead, am I?
I can't sing in your choir if I'm buried in some tomb!

6-7 I'm tired of all this—so tired. My bed
has been floating forty days and nights
On the flood of my tears.
My mattress is soaked, soggy with tears.
The sockets of my eyes are black holes;
nearly blind, I squint and grope.

8-9 Get out of here, you Devil's crew:
at last God has heard my sobs.
My requests have all been granted,
my prayers are answered.

10 Cowards, my enemies disappear.
Disgraced, they turn tail and run.

This is the lament I wrote this afternoon:

Oh God, I feel like my life is on hold,
like I have been waiting for your answer for years.

I look at these boxes still to unpack
Piles of papers to organize, things to put away
things that have no place
I long to settle but I feel like the ground
is only shifting sand
where my roots can't take hold

I know you have the money, God
I know there is boat-loads out there
Can't you spare us a few nickels and dimes?
A drop in the bucket in your economy
Please God, open your cash-box
Give us not too much, but just enough to keep us here

I will trust in You, I will cling to You
and wait for abundance to fall like bounty from your table.

Picture of my lament card

The photo is kind of weird, but there you have it.

2006-10-17

A yo-yo kind of day

Today we've kind of felt like yo-yo's going up and down, up and down, swinging around crazily on a string. We heard from CAI, our mission organization, that our account MUST be back in the black by the end of December. Even though we have been working on raising the needed funds, it has now become much more urgent. We aren't exactly sure, but it seems like we need to raise at least $8,000 by the end of the year. And that's just to get back in the black, not even to go towards expenses. It has made us take a hard look at what we'll do if the money does not come in.

Anyway, Troy started a new community group in our house tonight, and the living room looked so pretty tonight with the candles lit, so I thought I would show you...


2006-10-16

Note to Self

It is preferable, when walking down a dark hallway, not quite awake, for the brain to send the signal "Hey, this hallway is really dark, darker than normal" BEFORE one slams into the closed door at the end of the hall so hard tears spontaneously errupt as one's nose connects with said door and door handles impales delicate parts of one's chest.

I am probably going to have bruises...

Grandma's Casserole Carrier















In theory, I am a girl who is big on heirlooms, tradition and all that jazz. But in truth, my Grandmother's china, and the beautiful china teacups don't come out of the cupboard very often. I have (gasp) gotten rid of most of the doilies (sorry April!) and dresser scarves and that sort of thing I got from her.


But there is one heirloom, if you will, that gets regular use. Especially because we are church folk, and you know how much those type of folk love to eat. Yep, it's the padded casserole cover/carrier with the handles and drawstrings. I have carried many a dish in it, all over Madrid. This past Sunday it cradled a brimming casserole dish full of fettucini alfredo with regular and spinach egg noodles. Yummy!

And also, it has the benefit of being useful as a hat...My Grandma gets no respect!

2006-10-13

Hooray for Daughters!


More than a year ago I got my husband to scrapbook with me. It lasted once. That was it. Good thing I took photos to prove it happened!

This summer, Meg expressed interest, so I bought her a small scrapbook. This week we got some photos from Disney of our summer visit. Friday mornings I scrapbook with my friend Lisa (I am hoping to get to know some other women who do it as well) so today Meg joined us for her first scrapbooking experience.

Little Miss Meaghan, who chipped her OTHER front tooth recently! Oy vey!

Meg's very first scrapbook page

Her second page

Creative genius at work

Page three

Home

I was really glad to spend a few days with Kelly & April & Ali, helping with their adjustment to being a family. I may still have "the knack" with babies, but I have to say I am too old for a newborn :)

Here are a few thoughts on home...

~Home is throwing my kids on my bed and tickling them to death
~Home is 1 Mom, 2 kids, 1 dog, 1 feather duvet piled on the couch watching Narnia
~Home is poetry my husband wrote in anticipation
~Home is my own pillow and the chill of early autumn against my nose in contrast to the toastiness of the feather duvet and my personal bed-heater
~Home is flirting with my husband in the kitchen over dinner prep
~Home is a naughty Beagle who sits practically on top of me on the couch
~Home is frothy-milked-cinnamon-topped coffee in the orange/blue/yellow mugs
~Home is my daughter coming to find me for hugs throughout the day with a "I'm so glad you are home" or an "I really missed you, Mom"
~Home is giving the boys haircuts
~Home is a little boy who seems to grow by the minute with mis-matched pajamas, one sock and one slipper


2006-10-10

Redemption

Even though my soup yesterday tasted fine, today I am redeeming myself. There is a wonderful pumpkiny smell in the air. I'm making pumpkin soup, which April actually taught me how to make. But she has not made it for awhile so I thought I would make it for her. It has become a favorite in our house.

One of the things I love about making pumpkin (or squash) soup is the long process. First I cut it into chunks and throw it in the oven with some water at the bottom of the pan so it won't burn. For a couple of hours it fills the house with a wonderful harvesty smell. When it's all soft and fragrant, I throw it in my big blue pot with a handful of potatoes & carrots, an onion, and some chicken bullion. After that the smell gets even better.

At the end, when everything is cooked through, I blend it all up, add a little milk, some salt & pepper and lately a dash of cloves. A little nutmeg is good too.

Yummy.

2006-10-09

I get no respect!

Before I begin, a disclaimer (the art of which I learned from Kelly.) Actually, two disclaimers.

Disclaimer #1: April really loves soup. Since she just worked hard at giving birth, I figure she is entitled to having her whims and desires catered to a little.

Disclaimer #2: April is also a little anemic, so she needs to get as much iron in her diet as possible.

This morning I decided to make April (and Kelly & I) soup. I found potatoes and carrots, and didn't look for onions so Ali wouldn't be affected. I peeled 'em up and threw them in the pot with some veggie buillion. Near the end of the cooking, I had the brilliant idea to throw in some frozen spinach too. Spinach is a great source of iron.

Um, yeah, so maybe NEXT time, one block of frozen spinach would be enough. So that the soup does not end up looking like this...

This is the thanks I got....

EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW


In my defense, it tasted good!

2006-10-07

All Kinds of Crazy

It has been quite a week!

Tuesday
Mr. Cady turned 37. While I was out running some errands I had a little adventure with the car not starting, but our car insurance (which has amazing service, I have to say) came and we figured out the battery wire was just loose. We had tacos for dinner at Troy's request, then he had presents complete with Meaghan's scavenger hunt. That night after we were in bed, Kelly and April called to say that Troy was going to have to share his birthday with their new baby daughter. Needless to say it took a long time for us to get back to sleep after that!

Thursday
Troy always tells me that I make things too complicated when I am ready to go on a trip. It's true; I do! So on Thursday evening Troy was out at a concert. But first, you have to know two of my pet peeves:

1) I HATE it when technology that I know I can master does not work. Hate it.
2) I hate being bored on journeys. Once I ran out of reading material half-way between Amsterdam and Minneapolis and I about went nuts.

So I decided that I should put some e-books on my PDA because I only had 2 1/2 actual books to read. I downloaded the books. They would not open on my PDA. I stayed up way too late trying to figure it out, even though I knew I had to get up early to catch the 8:00 am bus to Castellon to be with the Crulls. But I did it, I conquered technology.

On Friday morning I went into the office to grab my mobile phone, my phone charger and the cord to charge my PDA (so I could also use it on the way back) I had the phone and 2 cords, and I looked at the PDA and thought "Should I try and grab this now, or come back?" I decided to come back. Uh huh.

I kissed my three bed-bugs, all cozy in our bed and headed out the door. I was about to walk down into the metro and I remembered my little PDA, sitting on my desk still, neatly cradled. I did not go back. I had to be content that I had indeed conquered technology. Even though I was too much of a doofus to actually BRING the technology with.

So now I'm in Castellon with Kelly & April and little Ali, who is adorable in her blondeness. I get to be auntie or something or other.

Troy is holding down the fort beautifully in Madrid. Having church, doing homework, keeping up with everything. Like I said to the girls the other day, "my husband is a woman of Proverbs" :)

Later!

2006-10-02

A good day

I went to Curves this morning for the first time and I am so glad I went. It was a bit chaotic because there were loads of new women signing up and the two instructors were having a hard time figuring out how to deal with everyone. But I talked to a couple of women after who said that if I go earlier, like at 9:15, there are far less people. So that's what I will do on Wednesday. I really like the fact that the workout alternates aerobic activity with machine work, because I just like using the machines.

Yipppeeee.

2006-09-30

Brown cheese

In September of 1987 I went to England to attend Capernwray Bible School for winter school. I have to say this was one of the best experiences of my life.

One of my 7 roomies was a boisterous young Amazon-ish woman from Norway. She was great. And she got me hooked on Norwegian brown cheese. The few times she went back home while we were in school she always brought a block back for us all to share.

Today I was transported back 19 years. My friend Karen and I helped our friend Shani and her roomie Chaz move this morning, and to thank us, they handed us a block of brown cheese. I came home, made two pieces of toast, spread them with jam and added a thick piece of brown cheese. This is the correct way to eat it. And it's spectacular! Funny how a taste can take you back in time instantly.


This has been kind of a reminiscent week. My high school class is starting to plan our 20th reunion for next summer so I have gotten emails from people I have not seen or talked to in 20 years. Kind of crazy.

2006-09-29

Wishing on Dandelions Blog Tour

It's a huge privilege for me to know Mary DeMuth. She is a great friend, church-planting with her husband Patrick and family in the south of France. It has been a joy to get to know her over the past few years. Mary is the perfect friend because not only is she cool and fun, she provides me with great stuff to read! For this little book-worm, that is spectacular!!

I devoured Mary's first novel last spring, and immediately asked her when the next one was coming out :) Not only is it a great read (one I found hard to put down) but it deals with hard issues in life with beauty and grace and redemption.














And here it is! I am anxiously awaiting for the Spanish postal system to bring me my copy of Mary's new book.

Below is an interview with Mary about her new book:

This book deals with difficult subject matter: childhood sexual abuse and its residual affects. How did this book emerge?

My passion is to write about redemption through the avenue of story. I started the first book, Watching the Tree Limbs, in a flurry. In my mind I saw the streets of Burl and a girl who didn’t know where she came from. Because my personal story involves different instances of sexual abuse, I wanted to write a story that showed the reader how God could intersect an abuse-victim’s life and make a difference.

So, are you Maranatha?

In some ways yes, some no. Like Maranatha, I felt like God had transformed my life in such a radical way (like her name change from Mara—bitter—to Maranatha—Come Lord Jesus). Like Maranatha, I endured sexual abuse, but I was much younger when it happened. Like Maranatha, I wondered if I had been marked, that every sexual predator could “tell” I was a ready victim. I wrestled through relationships in my teens with Maranatha’s twin feelings of revulsion and attraction. But, she is not me in many other ways. She is more independent. She has no parents. She lives in an entirely different culture. She is less ambitious. She has the privilege of many wiser people to mentor her through life.

What made you decide to write a love story?

The book didn’t start out in my mind as a love story, but it evolved into it as I continued writing. Characters have that uncanny way of taking your prose and running in all sorts of directions with it. Charlie just kept being faithful. In a sense, I fell in love with him!

What made you choose East Texas as the setting for both novels?

The South fascinates me. I grew up in the Northwest. When my last child was born, my husband was transferred to East Texas to start a department in a hospital. Because I was a stay-at-home mom and home schooling, I didn’t have much else to do there except to observe small town southern culture. Because I didn’t grow up in that culture, my senses were heightened and I eventually began to really appreciate the differences.

Childhood sexual abuse is not talked about very often, and seldom covered in novels. What made you decide to write about it?

For that very reason. The more victims are quiet, the less healing they will receive. The more we talk about it, bringing heinous acts to the light, the better able we are to know we are not alone. I wrote this book so other abuse victims would feel validated and heard. And to offer hope.

Why do you end your books with hope?

Because hope is essential to Jesus’ Gospel. Even when things are bleak, there is always hope—if not in this life, then in the next. I’m not interested, however, in presenting hope in a superfluous way. I don’t want to tie up every story thread neatly. The truth is, life is tragic and difficult and bewildering, but God intersects that life and brings hope.

Have you always wanted to write?

Yes. Since my second grade teacher told my mother that she thought I was a creative writer, I’ve wanted to write. I kept a diary since the sixth grade. Though I was an English major, I didn’t start writing seriously until my first daughter was born. I wrote for ten years in obscurity before my writing career took a turn for the better.

Who are your literary heroes?

I love Harper Lee. I only wish she’d written more. Leif Enger, who wrote Peace Like a River, greatly inspired me to write visually and artistically. I love Sue Monk Kidd’s Secret Life of Bees, how you could almost taste her characters. I’m fascinated and intimidated by J.R.R. Tolkein—how he managed to create an entire world with several languages is way beyond my literary prowess.

What do you want your reader to take away from Wishing on Dandelions?

That redemption of a broken life takes time. We’re all on a journey of healing. Sometimes it’s slow going, but if we can endure through the dark times, God will bring us to new places of growth. I want the images and characters to stay with a reader for a long time.

To find out more about Mary, visit her website or her blog
And while you are at it, say a prayer for her today.

2006-09-27

My Worst Mothering

I admit it, school work and homework bring out the worst in me as a mother. It makes me irritable and impatient with my children. It makes me too hard on them. It makes me want to wail and gnash my teeth. Ugh. I get frustrated and impatient and feel like I have passed on bad brain cells to my children.

~~~

Now that I got that rant out of the way, we are real Madrid citizens as of today. I got our monthly transportation abonos so as of October 1 we can use public transportation as much as we want. I can't wait for that! It means I can take the bus 2 stops if I want :)

I also stopped in at the Curves gym nearby and will be going on Monday to get my profile done so I can start going there. I am grateful there is one close to the house and that it's an affordable way for me to start being healthier.


2006-09-22

A little braggin'

I just have to brag for a minute about one of "our" girls. The first time I met Victoria, she was standing in the doorway of our service sniveling like a baby. This is a girl who does not normally cry...but that is another story.

Last year, Victoria and a friend starting buying supplies with their own money to make sandwiches to give to homeless people in Madrid. This was going on for quite awhile before anyone knew about it. We all thought it was way cool.

Now, it's becoming a regular part of our church. Victoria has a regular route that she takes on a Friday afternoon, right now with Kelly. We're hoping that we can get a lot more people involved. Since I'm committed to being at home when the kids get home from school, I can't go out with them, but today I helped the girls do the shopping and then we made the sandwiches. Each person gets a tuna, tomato and cheese sandwich, a piece of fruit and a little cake thingy.

I tease Victoria a lot, but I just wanted to say that I'm dang proud of her!

2006-09-20

Convicted

For the past few months, I have begun to feel the nudging of the Holy Spirit about "gossip". Not just the talking-about-other people kind, but the kind that you find in the Entertainment section of MSN, or People magazine, or whatever. It was easy to tell myself that reading that stuff was just part of being "aware" of the world I live in. But it's appalling how easy it is to waste time reading about things that have no impact on me...nor should they.

Yesterday in staff meeting, Amy and Kelly were "de-briefing" us about staff conference, sharing things they learned. One of the points that one of the speakers made is that while society can be condemning of pornography, they are much more accepting of "gossip" which can be as damaging to women as porn is to men.

That was the clincher for me. I am making a conscious decision to stay away both from gossip and "social porn". The Bible is clear that we are to fill our minds with the good stuff.
Philippians 4:9 (from, surprise, surprise, The Message)

Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious-the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.

So I changed my home page from msn.com to cnn.com, where I see what is going on in the world, but am not tempted to scroll down and click on entertainment. When I took Meg to the dentist last night, I ignored the "Prensa Rosa" magazines (Spanish equivalent of People type magazines) even though I have looked at them before to clue me in to Spanish culture.

Anyway, it feels good.

Since coming home, I have been using the Celtic Daily Prayer book again and I am enjoying it so much. It has been great.





2006-09-14

Happy Update

I have been meaning to post for a couple of days since my woes earlier in the week so say things are much better. On Tuesday we had an informational meeting in Nic's classroom, and on Wednesday we had an appointment with his teacher. We all agreed that although Nic is behind, he is eager to learn and should be able to catch up with some extra effort. It helped for his teacher to know his "school history" which eased some of her concerns. Already Nic has been working his little heart out, and is consistently recognizing 12 word that he did not know at the beginning of the week. We have been practicing copying things down from the board etc. He seems to be happy and settled, although has noted several times that "When I'm a Dad I won't have to go to big school." There seems to be a family theme....when my brother Scott had to get up early for his first day of kindergarten, he rolled over and groaned "I wish I was married or in Heaven!" Anyway, I'm feeling much more positive about it.

Yesterday we had the informational meeting for Meg, and saw her classroom and met her teacher. Her teacher is (I believe) Scottish and has a wicked cool accent. Wonder how long it will be before Meg is talking like her! Meg also seems to be very happy and settled in her class, and the parents were welcoming yesterday.

In other news, we attended a birthday party for a little girl in our building (actually on our floor) whose mother is Spanish and father French, and met a few other neighbors. Meg is invited to a birthday party from her class on Sunday, so our social calendar is filling up!

The Cady Hotel has already re-opened despite the fact that not everything is put away yet. Meg very graciously gave up her room to our friends Warren & Karen who recently moved back to Spain after two years in Costa Rica. They are busy looking for a flat and jobs.

Anyway, thanks for your prayers and encouragement!

2006-09-11

And so it begins....

At this moment I feel a deep parental weariness. They started school last week, but Thursday & Friday were not really heavy work days. Today they both came home with homework, so we sat down to do it right away.

Nic's teacher wrote me a note about Nic's struggle to read (he's just learning) and asked to see me as soon as possible.

Meaghan did not understand her Spanish teacher's instructions for homework and did not ask for clarification. She also was not sure about what her reading homework was. She said that she asked her teacher but that her teacher was busy and she did not want to keep asking. So that was two subjects we could do complete her homework in.

Both of these things make me want to sit down in a heap and cry. I am weary of reminding Meg that she needs to ask for help when she needs it. I was really hoping that a re-set provided by a new school would go a long way towards fixing this issue. But I guess old habits really do die hard.

And Nic, well, I knew that he was going to be behind. I am hoping his teacher will be understanding. I worked with Nic for more than an hour. He's only 6.

I guess I also feel guilty, because the British school system is much more demanding than the American. I wonder if my kids would struggle so much if we lived in America and they were in the American school system. We don't have many options for school here. I know that neither of them could hack the Spanish school system, and I am not cut out for home-schooling (which I don't even think is permitted in Spain.)

I love living in Madrid, and doing what we do. It's a privilege to pastor Oasis Madrid with Troy. But sometimes, on days like this, it feels like such an uphill climb.

Will you pray with me that
Meg will learn new and better work habits
Nic will come along quickly
I will have wisdom in dealing with their teachers
I will be conscious of God's grace in my life

2006-09-08

The balance of the universe has been restored

My hubby is home from Holland. Earlier we all went out, I stopped in at the little market to pick up a few things, Troy took the kids and dog down to the playground. Troy made the bacon, I sliced the tomatoes, the kids giggled hysterically at their Daddy's antics, the dog got into mischief just to make sure her alpha was still king (he is!) and now Troy is emptying the dishwasher while the ice cream softens enough to dip.

Whew!

2006-09-05

A few random thoughts

~ I inherited my Mom's dry heels. I also inherited her bad habit of picking at them. I tend to do this especially in summer when I walk around in bare feet all the time. Especially when I am sitting watching TV. Troy smacks my hands and tells me to stop. I usually keep doing it.

Earlier this summer my friend paid for me to have my first pedicure. My feet have been much better this summer. So last evening, when I was tempted to start picking at the flaky bits, I filled up a paint bucket with warm soapy water instead. I have decided to turn over a new leaf and instead of picking, I will soak and scrub with the pumice stone. I realize this is too much information for some of you. Oh well. I have my feet soaking while I type this!

~ Jet lag is bad, because even if you do manage to wake up at 7:30 am by yourself, you feel drugged and lethargic all day, when the kids need you to be the most patient etc. Then at night, when you should be winding down, you get all wired. While this is helpful for getting suitcases upnacked and feet soaked, it's not so good for a general lifestyle.

~ Earlier this evening I told Amy the dog was being pretty good. A few minutes later she was chewing on a tuna can lid that she stole from the recyling. Apparently she thinks she's a cat now.
~ Maybe that's because there actually WAS a cat on our balcony when we got home. It hung around for 24 hours, then disappeared. Go figure.

~ Since being home I have had several ideas for blog posts already. I want to write. Being home agrees with me!

Back to The Message

I didn't take my copy of the Message back to the US with me on furlough (yes, I did take a Bible, my small NIV :) ) Anyway, this morning before I woke the kids, I sat on my own couch with a cup of frothy coffee and read in James. My soul breathed an ahhhhhhhhhhhhh. Here are some highlights....

From James 1:
5-8 If you don't know what you're doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You'll get his help, and won't be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who "worry their prayers" are like wind-whipped waves. Don't think you're going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.

19-21 Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God's righteousness doesn't grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.

22-24 Don't fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don't act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.

25 But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.

2006-09-04

Madrid!

Just to let you know, we arrived safe and sound in Madrid on Saturday morning. Our flight was an hour late due to a late start from Miami, so by the time we got home we only had time for a couple hours of sleep before we headed to church. It was SO good to be back home with our church family. We went to bed on Saturday night and didn't get up until noon on Sunday!

This morning we dropped Troy at the airport; he will be in Amsterdam for some training this week. Then we went to pick up the dog. She was thrilled to see us, and after a bath to get rid of at least the first layer of dirt, she is sacked out in her bed. I can tell she is happy to be home too.

The rest of the week will involved getting Nic's stitches out, buying school uniforms and supplies and the kids' first day on Thursday. In between I will try and tackle unpacking and organizing what didn't get done before we left. Frankly, a nap is much more appealing. But I'm trying to resist and stake awake drinking iced coffee. It's ridiculously hot here...91 right now. Hope that changes soon!

If you are interested in praying for us in September but don't get our email updates, the prayer list is here.

2006-08-30

And then...

they actually made it onto the Channel 7 10:00 news! Thankfully they edited out the part where Troy was doing armpit farts!

2006-08-29

Troy & Phil

So tropical storm Ernesto is headed our way. There are red flags waving on the beaches. And where are Phil and Troy? Headed to the beach to go body surfing.

Ernesto














When we arrived in Florida earlier this summer, our friend Phil enthused about how much fun it would be if we got to experience a hurricane. Yeah, we all know he's a little weird. Anyway, his wish might be coming true. Tropical Storm Ernesto is expected to strengthen to a hurricane again and hit southern Florida in the next couple of days. I talked to Phil this afternoon and he said "We'll probably spend Wednesday hunkered down at my house hoping the power doesn't go off." There you have it.

2006-08-27

Update on Nic




















My Dad took Troy & Nic to a Mount Sinai medical center nearby. Not only did they take care of him quickly, our Spanish insurance company sent an immediate fax guaranteeing payment so we didn't have to pay a dime of the almost $500 bill. Nic was a brave boy for the 5 stitches and is sporting a band-aid goatee.

Thanks for praying


Please pray for Nic

Just after we went down to the pool this morning, Nic sliced his chin open on the side of the pool. Troy took him in, we assume he will need stitches. Will keep you posted.

Down Time

We are currently at Miami Beach with my Dad, and my brother Scott and his wife Ana Lia and Emiliano. We are staying at SeaCoast Suites. Let me tell you, if you are ever tempted to stay here, don't! :) It looks great on the website but it's become a family joke at how scary the place is. But we are all together in a suite, and we have a kitchen so it's cool. The pool is decent and we are right on the beach.

I'm finding it a little hard to completely relax and disconnect. I'm so anxious to get back home. I'm still vaguely stressed about money...we still have a deficit and we did not raise very much monthly support. Raising support feels weird sometimes; it's hard not to tie your self-worth to it too much. You start feeling like you have to sell yourself to people, and when the money doesn't come in it feels like people aren't interested in buying.

On the 18th when we arrived back in Miami, both Troy and I were feeling really discouraged. Our flight was late, so it messed up our schedule for the home meeting we were having in Orlando later that day. The rental car ended up costing us more than $400 more than we thought because we don't have US insurance. We were both feeling so deflated. On our way on to the highway to drive north to Orlando, Troy and I had a quiet conversation about how we had always told God that when the funds dried up, we would take that as a sign that He wanted us to move onto something else. Maybe it's that time. But neither of us feels like it should be that time; we really don't want it to be that time.

So we drove north, fairly deflated, Meg piped up from one seat back. I can't remember exactly how she brought it up, but she basically quoted this to us out of the blue:

Joshua 1:9 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

Troy and I looked at each other, a little flabbergasted. Sure, we were the ones that had her memorize that verse, but her little voice was God's whisper to our weary hearts.

So we long to be back in Spain. It's so ironic to me, because it took me a long time to love Spain and "be there 100%." During that time, we always had enough support. And now that I have a deep love for Spain and Madrid, the money is slim. To be honest, I don't know where the money will come from to take care of our deficit. I don't know how we are going to pay for school. I don't know how we will make it through the next year financially, let alone the whole 2 year term. And it's hard for me to really rest and trust.

But I will keep clinging to my Father's hand. And look forward to Spain with gladness.