*ahem* Anyone still out there?

Yes, I know.  The last time I posted about our family on this blog was about 3.5 months ago.  There have been numerous times when I’ve thought about sitting down to write, but it just hasn’t happened.  It’s not like I haven’t had a moment, but honestly it’s felt like it would take more energy than what I wanted to give each time I thought of it.  Newborns are great and all, but they sort of zap your energy. 🙂

I have no specific plan for this post (scary thought, I know), so I guess I will begin with this.  Justin got me a Kindle this past Mother’s Day.  Because I’m just so sweet and sensitive, I gave him a bit of a hard time about it (wink, wink).  See…we’re not really big gift givers on days like Mother’s Day.  In fact, if I’m completely honest, we sometimes do a horrible job (both of us) of planning ahead for things like Christmas.  I know.  That’s horrible.  Not every Christmas…or every birthday…or every *insert big deal day of your choice* do we drop the ball, but there have been years that have come and gone when we’ve just given a card or maybe gone out on a date (which is obviously better than nothing!) for some of those bigger special occasions.  When it comes right down to it, neither of us is overly bothered by this, but I do think both of us would like to be a bit more consistent with our gift giving for those special days.  Just so I won’t totally embarrass myself, I feel the need to say that we DO give each other gifts…don’t get me wrong.  AND…I think we’re both actually pretty good gift givers (if I do say so myself).  If I think about it some more, I feel like living here in Peru has sort of taken us down this road.  Half the time, the gift that we both might want isn’t even available here.  The other half of the time, the gift we might want/want to give costs literally double the price due to it being an imported item or something like that.  So there…it’s not ALL our fault. (haha).  ANYWHOOOO…(just so you all know, none of that has anything to do with what I was intending to write).  Needless to say, I sort of made fun of Justin for getting me a Kindle (which I considered a big deal) for Mother’s Day when we had sort of not even given each other much last Christmas.  There.  I said it.

Don’t worry folks.  I’ve repented for the fact that I kind of thought a Kindle was a bad gift.  That Kindle (you know, the one I didn’t even think I needed) has become my best friend.  OH.MY.WORD.  So…EASY!  I have probably read like 6 or 7 books since this past Mother’s Day, which is equal to the amount of books I’ve probably read in the whole time I’ve been a mother.  That would be 5+ years.  I LOVE my Kindle!

My point: I have recently been reading a short book called “Hope for the Weary Mom: Where God Meets You in Your Mess” by Brooke McGlothlin and Stacey Thacker.  Yes, friends, I have certainly found myself in moments/days/weeks of weariness.  Even before Carter was ever born.  Parenting is just a challenge, right?!  It is fun and rewarding, but to be honest, it’s also plain old tiring.  To top it off, I’m not perfect at, and sometimes I find myself REALLY messing things up.  And that’s hard to swallow in those times when I reflect on how a day has gone or how any one given moment of our day unfolded and it’s obvious that it didn’t play out well.  I am just so thankful that I know and have the support of a loving God.  I would be a complete mess with no hope if God wasn’t on my side.  Seriously, people.

In this book, one of the things one of the authors writes about is her experience with the hymn, “I Need Thee Every Hour”.  It touched me, because one of my favorite songs is “Lord I Need You” by Chris Tomlin.  You can listen to it here if you’ve never heard it before: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESWGYf–tMw.  Obviously it’s a bit different than the hymn, but the idea is much the same.  In the book it mentions the history of this hymn and that it was written by a housewife, Annie Hawks, in 1872.  I looked it up some more, and I came across something that Annie Hawks wrote about the song:

“For myself, the hymn, at its writing, was prophetic rather than expressive of my own experiences, for it was

wafted out to the world on the wings of love and joy, instead of under the stress of great personal sorrow,
with which it has often been associated.At first I did not understand why the hymn so greatly touched the throbbing heart of humanity. Years later,
however, under the shadow of a great loss, I came to understand something of the comforting power of the
words I had been permitted to give out to others in my hours of sweet serenity and peace.”
Like Annie Hawks, I deeply desire to have this mindset about Christ in my life – even every hour of my life.  I don’t just want to be singing this song because I’m weary.  I want to be acknowledging my need for Him even when my cup is overflowing!  Another verse the authors point out is 2 Chronicles 16:9a, NASB:
“For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth
that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”
Sign.Me.Up!
I guess what I’m trying to say is just that I deeply desire the support from the Lord that 2 Chronicles talks about, but it is painfully obvious to me that if I’m not living to the tune of the song “I Need Thee Every Hour”, my heart cannot be completely His.  I’ve tried.  It’s impossible, and the mess isn’t just mine.  It affects my entire family.
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On a completely new note.  I am LOVING having a newborn in the house!  Carter is just literally precious, and he couldn’t be a better baby except for when we’re in the car (haha).  He pretty much doesn’t like his carseat unless he’s sleeping, and those days when he sleeps all the time are fading fast!  Here’s the little cutie at just about 4 months old (in his 9m old outfit…what?!)
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Here are a few things we’ve had happen since Carter’s birth (about the last time I posted)…
Both Cailyn and Corban fell on the same day a couple of months ago and both had to get stitches.  Cailyn fell from a hammock at a friend’s house and once Justin was back from the ER with her, Corban fell that late afternoon when Justin took him to ride his scooter outside.  It was a great day.
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We had a little Halloween shindig with our teammates, and I thought you all might get a kick out of a couple of pictures we got.
Our crazy crew…
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One of the first houses we went by for candy had this sign.  It basically says, “Don’t bother us.  Electric fence.”  Geez.
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For the last few years we’ve really gotten a kick out of how careful the people here are when they hand out candy.  Many people just crack their doors, hand candy out of the corner of their window, or put up signs like the one above.  It really is fairly funny, although we probably shouldn’t laugh too hard seeing as last year there really was an incident in front of our home that involved a guy with a gun on Halloween night.  Still, this next picture just makes me laugh.  The kids were too short to reach this tiny window (and what is this hole for normally anyway?!), and the lady inside just stuck her hand out and dropped candy on to them.  We adults were literally laughing our heads off.  It’s things like this that make great memories, right?
IMG_0398When it was all said and done, we probably found about 5 houses in numerous blocks walked that were even handing out candy, and we all agreed that it’s a good thing our kids have no clue what snickers, skittles, butterfingers, laffy taffy, etc. are, or they would be SORELY disappointed in Halloween here. 🙂  It’s things like this that make you aware again that much of what you feel your kids are “missing out on” occasionally by living in another country is really only about what you were used to as a child as opposed to them actually knowing they have “missed out” on anything.  For all of these kids, their reality is Peru, and that includes all of the 80 different types of hard candy that get passed out at Halloween or put in party goodie bags.  They’re probably healthier for it anyway, right?
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We had a great Thanksgiving with our team and some new friends as well.  I have no pictures of that day.  Our camera has sort of gone nuts on us, and I’ve not been great at taking pictures – something I hope to change soon!  We had a ton of food, and we enjoyed spending nearly our entire day together being thankful for a lot!
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Another sweet photo of the tiny one in the house…
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This next picture cracks me up, because despite the attempts Corban makes to be really sweet, Carter is learning already that he needs to be on the watch for his busy, energetic big brother!  He’s showing his uncertainty well in this picture. 🙂
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I had some good helpers at Thanksgiving to make all of our food…
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You can find pumpkins here, but they are not really common.  We chose to just paint ours this year since we don’t really have a great space to carve them now in our apartment.  The kids thought this was super fun, and it was certainly less messy!
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My other helper who was really more of a mess-maker.  But he’s cute, so I let it slide this year …
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We put up our Christmas decorations a couple of days after Thanksgiving, and with that comes all of our Christmas books!  My parents had Christmas books under our tree each year when I was growing up, so it’s fun to keep that tradition with our kids.  
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We stopped our decorating for a bit and dressed the kids up to get a quick festive photo…of course Carter smiled in between each flash.  I was a bit sad we didn’t grab one with his cute little grin, but I was happy with this one just the same…
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We took our first beach trip of the “summer” a couple of weeks ago, and we actually just went again today.  It’s beginning (NOT to look a lot like Christmas around these parts) to get really hot, and we wanted to get the kids to the beach at least once before we leave (THIS TUESDAY!!) for our furlough in the States.  They have been asking about the beach pretty much since last summer, and we’ll unfortunately be gone for most of beach season here while in the States.  It’s a little bittersweet.  Anyway, Carter really loved it, as you can tell. 🙂
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Actually, it was a bit windy and slightly chilly that day unfortunately, so Carter  didn’t like the wind.  The kids had a blast despite it not being super sunny.  We were glad to get a day in at the beach nonetheless.
Carter is really into Praise Baby DVDs, which is huge for me since Cailyn officially started Kindergarten with me in our homeschooling venture back in October.  He enjoys sitting at the table with us, but  after a while there’s just so much I can do with him in my lap.  Anyway, he’s an angel baby, really, and he is very content to sit and watch/listen to the great praise songs they have on those DVDs.  It saves me on some days!
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Cailyn has done really well with homeschooling so far.  I know the year technically starts in August or so, but I was 10 days from having a baby when August hit.  So, I preplanned several weeks of lessons and activities that coincided with a K4 curriculum that I am sort of loosely using with Cailyn, and I made a goal of starting October 1st with her K year.  She actually just finished her PreK year at the school we had her enrolled in this year on Friday the 14th, and it could not have been a better experience.  There is a small part of my heart that is sad that she will no longer have the opportunity to be in a Spanish speaking environment in that capacity, but Justin and I agreed the other night that we do not regret in any way our decision to homeschool the kids. So, there is also an excitement that comes with knowing that from here on out, or at least until God changes our schooling path, we have adventures waiting for us with her (and the boys as well) as a homeschooling family.  Here is a picture of her with her 3 teachers on the last day along with the kids that had made it to school by the time we dropped her off.  Somehow when I said, “Una foto Cailyn!”, the other kids thought that meant all of them, too. 🙂
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Santa came to the class Christmas party Cailyn’s class had.  I thought these pictures were hilarious.  The party was at a club near the beach, and the reflection of the sun off the ocean was SO BRIGHT!  So, Cailyn naturally needed her sunglasses.  Makes you really feel like Christmas.  Justin and I decided Santa was probably going to lose a few lbs. by the time the evening was over since it was so hot in his suit!
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Little brothers and sisters got presents, too (you know, if mom and dad brought them something), so Corban got his picture as well.  He wasn’t too sure about wanting to get too close. 🙂
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Corban has his last day of classes at his Nido (preschool) on Monday, and we let him ride his scooter a few blocks to school as a “last week of school” treat.  Since we moved, it’s hard to do things like this (being so far now and all), and one of his classmates gets to ride his scooter every day.  After Corban asking and begging to do this for days, we thought we had a great opportunity to make a treat out of it as well as learn a little bit about not being jealous of our friends who “ALLLLLways get to ride their scooter to school EEEEEvery day!” (according to Corbs).
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Today we had a super time at the beach one last time before we head out.  Our teammates, Lee and Stephanie Fletcher, have a 7 year old daughter, Sofia, who has taken up surfing this year, and she is great at it!  She goes each Saturday for her lesson, and today many of our team joined her in the water.  Of course, we’re big enough in numbers that it also meant that many were on the shore enjoying watching them and playing in the sand!  Below is a picture of Derek Yoakum (4 years old – the blonde duh, right?) and Corban (3) playing together.  It is honestly one of the biggest blessings to see our kids growing together and developing relationships with one another as they get older.  Derek and Corban are becoming close, and I think it mostly has to do with the fact that they can both hold their own in a wrestling match as well as enjoy being a bit more rough and tumble than some of the others do.  They make a good pair. 🙂  This little pool of ocean water on the rocks was their paradise for a while this morning.  It is certainly fun to live just 15 min. from this!
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The Fletcher family is contagiously fun, and Cailyn’s Tío Lee  (“uncle”) was awesome enough to take her out into the water on his surf board.  Cailyn has been saying she wants to learn how to surf, but this child typically is way not into the ocean water.  She is fine building sand castles BEHIND where we set up our chairs (hah!).  But, at the end of last summer and as this summer is approaching, she has shown some more nerve when it comes to getting wet!  Today it BLEW.MY.MIND that she let Lee take her out.  I saw him motion to her, and she jumped all over the opportunity to go.  It is fun to see your kids grow out of fears and learn and experience new things.  It was yet again a moment when I praised God for having other family-like adults in her life that will take moments to have fun with her and teach her something new.  Here’s a picture Justin got…a little hard to see, but she’s out there!  Looks like Parker D., her sweet friend, is either cheering her on or yelling that she wants to join them!  Parker’s another influence in Cailyn’s life when it comes to breaking out of her shy or timid shell. 🙂
Well, I think I about covered the main events since about the time Carter was born (haha).  I know I’ve already said it, but we couldn’t be any more excited to be seeing family in a few days as well as getting to meet many of the new friends and supporters we have at the Littleton Church of Christ in Colorado who have begun to support our family just this year!  Leaving your home for a couple of months can be a little crazy, and there’s a part of me that fears I might come back to a few things having molded while I’m gone (haha…i’m not kidding), but there’s just something about our life as missionaries that allows for so much reflection and renewal when you leave and then come back again.  Leaving for 2 months and returning kind of gives you an opportunity to regroup, reprioritize, start new, make new goals, etc.  It is a fresh start in some ways, and I don’t know about the rest of you, but I need that sometimes!  So, the next time I post something, I plan for it to be accompanied by some pictures of us with friends and family in Texas!!  Thanks again to all of you who keep up with us here on the blog!
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3 responses to “*ahem* Anyone still out there?

  1. I loved every word, picture, and story in this post! I miss you, friend. Your kids are absolutely adorable, and I am so glad you are doing well. I want to hear more about your homeschooling. We might have to make a Skype date when you are back. We have decided to supplement Ana’s schooling for next year. I would love to hear what you are using. Have a GREAT furlough!

  2. man oh man – what a post. thank you for being so honest about your journey. God lavishes His grace on all of us. Love seeing the expressions on the kids faces. I think our favorite is Carter’s wide eyes when Corban is hugging him. HaHaHa!! love you!! mom

  3. Alison, I love your post(s)!! Also love all the wonderful pictures!! Danny and I really enjoyed meeting little Carter–he is precious! as are Cailyn and Corban. It was great to be with all of you~~hope you all are having a wonderful time with family and friends–and safe travels. We love you all~~~

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