*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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Is July almost over?!

How can it be?  This year is flying by.  I feel like Justin and I were just on a date at TGIFridays talking about our goals for this month (which actually happened at the beginning of the month), and here we are…at the end nearly.  So, here are some highlights from our life this month…

  • If you didn’t read my last post, feel free to look back on it by clicking here.  While we’re still seeking answers to many of the things I wrote about, God has since blessed us in some specific financial ways for this next year, and we’ve had some hopeful conversations (or at least heard of some that went on) about our possible future partnership with a new supporting church.  Thanks to God for those small glimpses at how our next year will unfold!
  • I continue to be amazed at my mom’s reading suggestions!  I am LOVING the book One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp!  You MUST read it.  Basically it is teaching me that I’ve got to get a hold of myself when it comes to thanking God for every.little.thing in my life.  I have so much.

Things I’m thankful for…

  1. My kids playing together SWEETLY this evening outside in the dirt
  2. The hours that my husband plays with the kids in order to give me some moments alone
  3. The awesome salsa that our team’s intern, Brad, (who’s living with us) made tonight!
  4. Cailyn’s growing ability to think through what the consequences might be unless she obeys
  5. Corban’s new found desire to sit, rock, and read books with me (ahh! sweetness!)

My mom wrote a great blog post about her thoughts on the book, and I agree with everything she said.  It’s a great view into what the book is about.  Check it out!

  • We got a new desk…well, we bought it from our teammates.  I love it!  It’s {nearly} the last thing I wanted in order to sort of complete our Activity Room in our house.  This room is where my kids create, imagine, read, laugh, work, learn, and just have fun!  And…I do, too!  Now I have somewhere for our printer to go and a good spot for the computer and my cell phone that is up and out of the reach of our sneaky little Corban!
  • Peru’s Independence Day is coming up this week…July 28th.  It’s also the day the new president will be sworn in (if that’s even the right terminology…i know…you really don’t want to know how ignorant i am when it comes to politics…well…many things, really).  Cailyn’s school has been focusing a lot of their energies on teaching the kids about Peru, what it means to be Peruvian, etc.  They had a program recently that each class had a performance in.  A few days before the day of the performance, Cailyn’s teacher came to me and asked me to sort of encourage her at home to participate in the song and dance act that she and some of her classmates were in.  I was not surprised AT ALL that the teacher wanted help with that, because C is anything but a performer.  She even sometimes gets embarrassed when I ask her to sing or dance for ME!  So, I did the encouraging, and the day of the performance, Justin, Corban, and I showed up for what I thought would be her standing there on stage…not participating – EVEN THOUGH she had told me that morning that she would, in fact, “raticipate”.  “MMHMM…We’ll see”, I thought.  SO, you can imagine my surprise when she came out on stage for her dance, and we saw this…

Yes, that is her waving very excitedly that we have come to see her.  I did almost cry when she did this (and I might also have a knot in my throat now).  I cannot tell you how much it makes me proud that she is not only overcoming her inability to communicate in this culture (because she is speaking more and more spanish each day!!), but she is also embracing new things.  I love that she went from unsure to decidedly going to participate.  And…she apparently did it with JOY!  Here is proof that she did the actual dance, AND…I need to say that these are pictures from one of her sweet little friend’s mother.  All we had was Justin’s cell phone…terrible, I know!

  • The kids and I are pretty much always “doing stickers”.  When I say, “Do y’all wanna do stickers?!”, that means…I get out my great bin of stickers and they spend 30-45 minutes putting stickers on a piece of paper.  If you are a mom of young kids, and you don’t do this but need a good idea for a fun and fairly chill activity…try this!  My kids LOVE it!  I am always collecting stickers, and my dad has also gotten the sticker bug, because he has bought loads of stickers for the kids as well!  I have gotten so many that I just keep them all in a bin.  When we “do stickers”, I just sit next to the kids, go through our bin, and cut strips of stickers for them.  I never let them go through the bin alone, and I also never let them use a whole sheet of one type unless it’s a special sheet that I have just for that day.  So, I might give each of them 3-4 stickers each off of one sheet, and then they go to sticking!  Seriously, it’s great fun!

the sticker bin and my only supply…scissors

  • We have also continued with some of our letter learning from the ideas I’ve gotten from this awesome blog…No Time For Flashcards.  Even though I had to pay 13 soles (like nearly $5) for this small pack of Jelly Belly Jellybeans, I did it, because I thought the “J” activity was too cute and way fun!  The kids were super pumped about gluing eating the jelly beans, too!

Corban already not following the “glue them all, THEN you can eat the rest” rule…

His reaction to me reminding him of the rule…and enforcing it…

Finally choosing to do it mom’s way…

Oh, so happy when eating time came!

  • We’ve also made binoculars, because there are just so many cool things to see “up close” from the upstairs window into our backyard. 🙂

  • Justin & I surprised Cailyn with a mommy & Cailyn night out to see Disney on Ice that came here to Lima early on this month.  She was beyond thrilled, and it was really tons of fun for both of us.  Besides the fact that it was Disney Princesses and Heroes, it wasn’t cheesy at all…I mean, this show was the real deal!  Cailyn was beside herself with excitement!  It was definitely a fun experience.

  • Cailyn also recently had her first Ballet Performance.  She takes a ballet class through her school each Wednesday afternoon, and the girls in it all performed for the parents after school one day.  Nothing big and fancy, but super cute…and, once again…she made us proud!  She was not only right on with each move, but she even gave the teacher cues for the next moves in one part.  I was enjoying the performance, and the next thing I knew, my child was the voice of the “Uno, Dos, Tres, Cuatro” in order to lead the girls into the next position (which was clearly not her appointed role in the performance).  Who knew she could get so into it?!

I think that about covers our month.  BUT…I do have one last prayer request.  I know Hannah (my sister), might cringe when she reads this because of her tendency to be a bit less verbal about things like this, but I honestly want those of you who care about what’s on my heart to know that this is a big prayer for me this week and these next few weeks.  Hannah will be having surgery this Wednesday, July 27th.  She described it as minor in a blog post that she wrote recently, but it is not just a day surgery or anything.  It is full blown surgery.  While I won’t give more details than might make her comfortable, I do ask that you all be praying that she is protected and that God puts his angels around her body and her Surgeon during the surgery on Wednesday.  It will take about 2 hours, and she should have about a 2 week recovery after that.  My mom is going to Washington DC, where Han and Jason live, this Tuesday, so I pray that she gets there safely and that her flight is not delayed in any way seeing as they want her there for the surgery on Wednesday.  Praises to God for the flexibility that our mom has always had and made for Hannah and I in our lives.  I know Han and Jason will benefit greatly from her care!  Love you, Hannah!  Thank you all for your prayers!!

Semana Santa:Holy Week

We had a FANTASTIC Semana Santa, and mostly that was because HANNAH CAME TO VISIT!  We were super blessed to have some great time with our Aunt and Sister, Aunt Sister (yes, that’s what the kids call her).  Our week was full of good eats, fun times at the park, special activities for Cailyn and Aunt Sister, an easter egg hunt, a day at the beach, our church group coming over for a night focused on Christ (we watched the Passion of the Christ and had group discussion times…it was moving) and just some good old relaxation time!  She was here from a Saturday night to this past Saturday morning.  Then, we topped our Semana Santa week off by having a great time at church last Sunday…complete with the JOY of seeing our sweet sister, Roxanna, get baptized!!  I don’t have pictures from ALL of our fun times with Aunt Sister OR church yesterday, but I will share what I have.  I wish I had taken more pictures, but you all will probably think I have plenty after I post some on here.  Sidenote: Justin makes fun of me for how long my posts are.  I just ignore him (wink, wink), but I guess I should at least acknowledge to anyone reading my blog that I know I am long winded. 🙂

OUR DAY AT THE BEACH:

Hannah and I sat under the umbrella at got great sister talk time while Justin played in the sand with the kids.  We played, too, but Justin was so incredibly great to bless us with that!  This is what we were entertained by about every 5 minutes…Corban “cleaning” his tongue with salt water…

Aunt Sister suggested we feed the birds…Cailyn loved it!  There were really only 2 that were brave enough to venture toward C…it was hilarious watching them sneak up and JET off after they got the bread…

Hannah also helped C look for seashells.  Cailyn reminds me of Han a lot in this respect, because she is constantly finding feathers, flowers, and small things in nature that she just HAS to pick up as we’re walking by them.  I remember Hannah always finding feathers and bringing them inside our house when we were small.  Feathers sort of creep me out, and Cailyn knows that, but she had a kindred spirit to help her look for those special beach treasures this time!

MAKING BANANA POPS WITH AUNT SISTER:

One day after school, Hannah and I picked Cailyn up and she got to skip her nap to go to the store and buy ingredients to make Banana Pops with Aunt Sister.  She got to choose her “favorite” cereal to cover them with, and she chose Trix…which she’s never had before, so it didn’t really fall into the “favorite” category, unless she thought we meant “favorite looking” cereal.  We never just buy whatever cereal she thinks looks good, so this was HALF THE EXCITEMENT!  Don’t think Hannah and I didn’t finish off that box of cereal during the rest of the week.  hah!

EASTER EGG HUNT:

**this was the best “pre-hunt” picture I could get…and they hadn’t even had any chocolate yet!**

here’s Aunt Sister trying to explain the rules of the game, “hunt THEN eat”…

“thanks anyway, Aunt Sister!  I think I’ll go ahead and try this jellybean.” (meanwhile, Cailyn was finding all of the other eggs)

Cailyn was on a mission!

Very upset that his 2 “you can eat what’s inside of these” eggs had already been eaten. :)…(yes, we used our beach toy bucket as his easter basket)

Again, just trying to capture a sweet photo of Han and the kids…

thanks to 2 out of the 3 people being photographed, this was the only “close to decent” picture we got…

EASTER SUNDAY

(unfortunately, Hannah was gone by then, but she brought all of the easter basket treats!)

Another photo shoot starting off badly…

first treat they BOTH spotted…the chocolate bunny. 🙂  Or, as Corban says, “CHAW-KET BUH-NEE!!”

“Cailyn, can you put your arm around brother for a sweet picture?!  Oh, ok…that’s good.  Yeah, that’s too tight.  He’s squealing, do you hear him?  He’s saying, ‘that’s too tight , Sister!  Cailyn thank you for doing that, but please let go now.”  Sheesh.

“Ok, one last time!  SMILE!”

struttin’ his easter bunny stuff…

“WAAAAAAAA!!!  Why can’t I BLOW the bubbles???!!!”

Daddy demonstrating…

(which we all know is a fruitless effort when you have a 20m old wanting to take a go at blowing bubbles)

“Ok, Dad, I got this.”

and, finally…after some more coaching, we got it down.  for the moment at least.

Aunt Sister, great choice on the “Shoelace bracelets”!  She LOVED them!

Finall, I want to say that we also very much enjoyed several great books about Easter and what it means for Christians, and really our world even if the world doesn’t recognize it!  One of my absolute favorites is one called “What is Easter” (click on it to see it on Amazon.com).  I don’t have the author’s name in front of me, but it is great for small kids, because it rhymes, it’s got wonderful pictures, and it’s all about how easter eggs and candy, our Sunday dresses and suits, and the easter bunny are all fun, but the real reason we celebrate is because of Jesus, our Risen Lord!  I suggest you getting it if you have small kids!  Hoping everyone had a great time with family and celebrating Jesus during the week last week!


Checking in…

I think I’m just sitting down right now and posting because I feel full of thoughts that need an outlet.  This could be dangerous. 🙂

It’s been a hard week.  Not because any one thing has crumbled around us or because there’s been anything life changing happen, I’m just drained.  I do realize there are SO many life altering, mind blowing, difficult, unfair, unjust, (and so on, and so on) things going on in people’s lives that seriously are WAY more difficult than anything I’m experiencing here on Calle Colan (my street…haha…which is pronounced “COE-LAWN”…not like “colon” in english…just so you know…hah!) in Lima, Peru…but…I still feel in need of my God to sort of just carry me for a bit.  Through the tiredness, through the impatience with my kids, through the moments when Justin and I don’t see eye to eye, and through the day in and day out activity that we are living in.  I need God, and I love that I can say that and be aware of it even when I’m not experiencing great tragedy…but just a long week.

One thing that has made the week a bit more difficult has been that Cailyn has had about 4 days of really draining behavior that has in turn caused me to feel so much less patient.  It’s like it’s hit me like a ton of bricks.  I remember the days when e v e r y . s i n g l e . d a y was a battle.  A fit.  Full of screaming and an endless amount of calming down times in her bed.  Soap in her mouth for being outright disrespectul, and days on end of feeling like there was no breather from her insane strong-willed-ness.  God has most definitely brought us from the depths of that in the last 6-9 months, but I have seen that same “old” Cailyn in these last 3-4 days.  I am remembering tonight how absolutely drained I felt for months on end when we were in the middle of that valley.  I feel like that tonight on some level, and yet there is something different.  I feel like now I can put my finger on it, where as before I was too low emotionally to either figure it out or recognize it.  My reality now is that I am in the Word daily.  Even the days that I do not sit down to my personal Bible study that might be 30 minutes to an hour long, I at least am reminded of our weekly Scripture when I review and work on memorizing it with the kids in the morning at breakfast.  I am better equipped now.

Our past few days have been really busy.  I’ve had the pleasure of hosting the families of Taylor Green and Jenny Durham, 2 of our AFC interns, for dinner this week.  A HUGE blessing was that both families basically picked up and cleaned all of our dishes when we were done.  Both nights I came downstairs from laying the kids down to bed to find a clean kitchen.  They will never know how much that meant to me!  We also had the pleasure of eating dinner with our teammates and Kyle Glaeser’s family (another one of our great AFC interns) last night.  It was a great evening, and what made it even better is that nearly all of us got to drop our kids off at a “babysitting fundraiser night” at the International Christian School here in Lima!  Thanks to the Senior class there, we were kid free last night at dinner!

Come to think of it, we’ve had something to do every night this past week.  Monday night I hit up my fave Gold’s gym class at 5:30pm with Steph.  It’s intense folks.  The Fletcher kids had their combined 4th and 6th birthday party on Tuesday night, so that was fun.  We enjoyed dinner and a game night with some teammates Wednesday night, and then began the 3 nights of dinner with the Interns’ families.  To top it all off, I spent a couple of hours today preparing to teach our women’s Bible Study, and then I went straight from that into talking in spanish to all of them for 2 hours.  That’s a lot on the old brain.  It’s been a long week…like I said.  Sometimes it’s hard to go from the busy week into a busy weekend, because it all just starts up again on Sunday with ministry responsibilities.  So is our life, I guess.  Blessed, but busy.

To top it all off, our family is sort of still figuring out our groove now that Yenny doesn’t work for us anymore.  I will say that while I’ve been more tired and pretty much on my feet all day long making sure the house isn’t a wreck, I feel extremely secure in God’s leading to take on these responsibilities without Yenny (not that Yenny was my problem…we still love her!).  We’ve had a bit more of this going on…

and our living room has suffered a bit…(Yenny always folded clothes in the laundry room outside and took them straight to our drawers…but when you’re me and have like 5 loads to fold at once, things happen a bit differently…haha)

Anyway…God is blessing us as we follow his leading and desire for our family…even amidst a bit of chaos.

I just finished a Bible Studay called “Discerning the Voice of God” by Priscilla Shirer (well, technically I only finished the last 3 weeks due to coming in on the middle of the study when we returned here in Jan.).  But, I intend to do the first 3 weeks even still.  OH.MY.GOODNESS.  This study is absolutely amazing.  It has put my ability to recognize and obey God’s leading in my life in check, and I feel such a new and powerful presence of God’s voice in my life.  I am now focusing more on immediate obedience and confidence in the peace of God’s will for me than I have before.  This could not have been a better way to start my first couple of months back here in Peru.  GO AND BUY THIS STUDY!  I BEG you!  You will be changed!  Oh, and invite a friend to do it with you.

So, that sums it up I guess.  Justin might be going to the jungle for 4 (or so) days either tomorrow or Monday to visit Luis, our guard’s, family with him.  His grandfather is dying, and he doesn’t have enough money to buy a bus ticket back home.  Our team is hoping to help him get back in time to say goodbye.

OH…and I CANNOT forget to mention…HANNAH IS COMING TO VISIT!!!!!!!  I AM SUPER PUMPED!  There is just something about having your family here to visit that gives you a boost.  I would like to give a huge shout out to her amazing husband, Jason.  He suggested she come and visit over her spring break in April (he unfortunately cannot come due to school and work), and it is such a wonderful thing to me that he would honor us in that way.  Thanks, Jason!

Guess I’m done spilling my thoughts.

Poco a Poco

Little by little…that’s how life is with Cailyn.

Our sweet Cailyn started her first day of preschool this past Monday, and it has been a great experience so far.  Just to backtrack a bit…

For several months now we have really been praying about the decision to put her into a Nido (preschool) here in Peru.  I just adore having her at home and preparing things for us to do, and I have realized that God has really put it on my heart to be very intentional with our kids in this way.  I even bought a lesson planning book while we were in the States and wrote out what we would (*most likely) do each week for almost our first 2 full months that we would be back here in Peru.  It has served me extremely well, and I have LOVED having the work done ahead of time.  It makes things much less stressful!  In addition to that, Justin has built shelves in our guest bedroom closets that are full of craft supplies, activity books, educational books, games, etc. (mostly thanks to my mom!).  It is honestly my favorite room in the house now!  We’ve recently had a ton of work done to our house thanks to our landlord, and in addition to that work, we finally got the kids’ rooms and the guest room painted.  I’m very pleased with how they all turned out, and we have officially turned our guest room into an activity room/office (with a kid’s work table and small reading corner for the kids).  Corban’s room will now be for guests when they come.  ALL of that to say…I love being organized when it comes to doing things with the kids, and I’ve found that our best days happen when I have some sort of idea ahead of time as to what we might be doing that day.  So, why would I want to send Cailyn to preschool if I could do anything they are doing right here in my home?

Believe me, I truly wrestled with this, cried over the uncertainty of what we should do, wondered what was best, talked it out with Justin till we were blue in the face, prayed, and prayed, and then we finally decided…

Kid’s Place.  That’s where she would go.

I can honestly say that our life here is great in so many ways.  I love being a mom here for a lot of reasons.  But…that doesn’t mean it hasn’t also been hard.  God has brought me to a place where I am more open to see how he will lead us amidst a life where Cailyn has school each morning from 8:30-12:45pm.  I have realized that having our child in a setting in which she can be with fluent Spanish speakers is the way God has it for us now, and that is ok.

I know I’ve written a lot about Cailyn and her personality on this blog, so this might not be new for any of you…BUT…Cailyn is 100% timid here.  She rarely initiates conversation with anyone new here.  If they speak Spanish and she doesn’t know them well, it’s like pulling teeth to get her to even smile, much less extend an “hola” to them.  She watches other kids on the playground, but rarely does she interact with them much more than saying hi or following them around from a distance.  She is just very unsure, and it comes out through a lack of conversation, ignoring others when they speak to her, and sometimes just flat out being ugly to our spanish-speaking friends.

When we were in the States for those 4 months, we saw a very different child.  In fact, she made conversation with the American man who was sitting in front of us on our flight to Texas back in September nearly the entire trip back!  She made new friends fairly easily, she talked to complete strangers with ease, and she was much more open to the English-unknown than she has EVER been to the Spanish-unknown.  I began praying while in the States that she would take her newly found confidences back home to Peru with her.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Cailyn will always somewhat be like I am describing…slow to warm up, easy to misunderstand sometimes, and then sometimes just down right rude with her anti-meet-new-people attitude..no doubt this will always be something we work on with her.   But, we are looking forward to seeing how God will grow her as she experiences this new schedule.

With one week of school under her belt, she is still showing signs of her old self.  I mean…duh.  It’s been one week.  BUT, I am so excited to have also seen some huge strides in Cailyn’s willingness and ability to interact with Spanish-speakers here even within this first week.  Just to name a couple/few things:

  • She actually said “hola” to our friend from church when that friend came over this past Tuesday night (after day#2 of school) with great enthusiasm and with no pressure from me!
  • She willingly (which is absolutely amazing) gives “besos” (kisses to say hi or bye) on most occasions now at school and sometimes outside of school.  This is some serious “your in my personal space” action for her!
  • She actually told me what she would need to say IN SPANISH if she wanted to know someone’s name at school.  She has known for a couple of years what “Cómo te llamas?” means, but she has literally never asked someone that on her own initiative before.

Now, these things are ABSOLUTELY no big deal for almost all of our other team children.  In fact, nearly all of the older kids speak a ton more Spanish than Cailyn, and saying “hola” or “cómo te llamas?” would be something they would laugh at if someone were to ask if they really knew how to say those things…but…not for our Cailyn.  She is definitely taking things “poco a poco” (little by little), and we could not be more proud of her for not only enduring, but enjoying her first week of school.

Miss Rossana, her Spanish teacher, has been WAY patient with her!  She reports to me that Cailyn generally stays by her side much of the time, does not really speak to the other kids much, sort of turns her head when they try and speak to her, but does not cry at all.  I’ve not been surprised by all of this, really, although I can definitely say God is teaching me so much about how to be patient, compassionate, and encouraging.  You see, I could not be described as a “stick by the teacher and don’t talk to others” kind of person.  I have never been to preschool in Spanish, but I feel like it would have been true that I might have branched out a bit faster than Cailyn most likely will.  I have found myself wanting to talk her through how to make friends, how to remember to practice her Spanish, and how to be kind so that others will want to play with her…but God has truly put a muzzle on my heart and mouth this past week.  I have been reminded that she is shy even when speaking in English sometimes.  She is slow to warm up with new people, and she cannot be pushed to participate too quickly and not on her own accord.  She is her father’s child! 😉

I selfishly want her teachers and classmates to know the true Cailyn that I know…NOW!  I want them to see immediately how wonderful she is, how kind she is to others, how much she has matured in this past year, how wonderfully attentive to detail she is, how amazingly well she speaks, and so.much.more.  But, I am being called to wait.  I am being told to be patient.  And…if I can be completely honest…I am receiving a lesson on relinquishing control.  I have issues with that. 🙂

I told Justin yesterday that I have been impressed with her school so far.  I am also so very glad that God is allowing Cailyn to work through her language learning/confidence skills at an early age.  Thank you, God for caring for our family during this transition!

Cailyn outside of her school on her first morning.  She was SO EXCITED!!

C and her sweet, sweet teacher…Miss Rossana..

This & That

I have had lots of random “maybe I will blog about that” thoughts lately, but nothing really extremely important.  So, I thought I might just put them all together for a random update and view into my life these last weeks.

The kids swim/play with the water hose pretty much every day.  I love that our entire back wall of our living/dining area is a big huge sliding glass door…well, 2 of them.  They stay open almost all day long.  So, the kids sort of just roam in and out of the house constantly during the day.  I decided today that I have to start shutting the door on Corban when he is swimming or using the water hose, because otherwise, he would walk right into the house with the running water if I wasn’t watching.

Corban and Cailyn seem to be in a bittersweet stage when playing together.  They a.d.o.r.e. one another, yet in any given moment one is bothering the other one.  It’s either that “he is is hitting me”, “mines, mines, mines!”, “he thought this was his, but it’s mine!”, “back! back! back!”, etc…  In defense of Cailyn, Corban really does bug her quite a bit.  I think it’s that he just wants her attention, but he is constantly doing something to bug her.  We began sitting him in time out for hitting and throwing things at her when we were in Texas, and that seems to be a good option for us now.  He also gets swatted and a flick in the mouth for screaming.  He’s quite the little toot. 🙂  BUT…I must say, he is less of a strong will than Cailyn is.

We are in the midst of having our entire house painted.  Well, scraped is more like it.  I mentioned all of the terrible mess on the walls.  It’s been one week, and 3 men have gotten the entire front of our house/gate area done.  They have the whole rest of the house to go.  Oh, fun.  It hasn’t been that bad.  It just smells pretty potent 24/7.  They have done an amazing job so far, though!

I hosted my first Team Kid Saturday Morning Activity Time (it has no name, I just titled it that for your understanding) this morning.  Tara D. helped me, which was amazing!  I couldn’t have kept them all in line by myself. 🙂  We successfully had 7 of them participating in Crafts and Games at the same time, so that was fun.  I hope to host this once a month.  I just realized that I had so many resources (books/websites/craft supplies) that I wasn’t using, so I thought having a fun Saturday morning activity time once a month might be good.  God blessed it this morning for sure!

We’ve decided to let our house help go at the end of March.  Some of you might not even know we have house help.  Anyway…we do.  She (Yenny) comes 3 days a week and helps clean.  She cooks on occasion for lunch…maybe once every week and half or so.  She started work the day after Corban was born.  Don’t get me wrong…it’s nice to have.  I just felt really different about it once we got back to Peru.  I’ve always sort of liked my days that I have to myself…without her coming…and I think we just decided it was time to do something different.  Really, there were several emotions and thoughts that helped us come to this decision, but at any rate…Yenny won’t be working for us anymore after March.  We do plan to use her for babysitting now and then, though, because she LOVES our kids and we really trust her with them.  I don’t regret our decision, but I will miss her company and how the kids enjoy having her around.  Oh…and the help at times! (gotta be honest!)

Corban pretty much repeats any and all words he hears.  So, Spanish hasn’t been a barrier for him since we’ve been back.  It shouldn’t be.  He’s just nearly 18m.  Cailyn is very much accepting Spanish better since we’ve come back.  She is more open to answering people in Spanish, which she sort of avoided before.  She is starting a sort of pre-school March 7th.  It’s all in Spanish, so that should help her take off.

I am really looking forward to diving into some new Bible studies starting this past Thursday and in the following weeks.  I SO need some new direction!

Speaking of direction…I am way back on board with the whole exercise thing.  I cannot say how thankful I am to have girl teammates who desire to do this with me.  If you’re a young mother…or really any woman in any stage…I would 100% recommend finding yourself an exercise group/partner.  I absolutely love my girlfriends, and when we can stay healthy together, it’s the best.  6am is our hour of choice.  Well…mostly due to the fact that those munchkins start waking up not too much later than that. 🙂

Ok, I’m going to stop blabbing about all of the random thoughts I have.  OH…one more thing.

I kind of mentioned to Justin that I thought we should save the money we would normally be paying Yenny each month…for a few months…and then possibly purchase one of those iRobot Roomba (click on it to see the website) vacuum cleaners.  Does anyone out there have one of these??  I have all hard wood floors, tile in the kitchen, and a few rugs that aren’t hard to vacuum over.  We get dust/dirt that blows in CONSTANTLY, and sweeping is something we have to do here like 24/7 to try and keep the floor even halfway decent.  And…no…it’s not JUST because we leave the doors open in the day time.  There are no sealed doorways/windows in our house…so, I’m sure you can imagine.  If you do, please tell me if you like it, if it’s worth the price, which model you have/like, etc!  I would LOVE some feedback if anyone has any to give!

And…just some pictures of what the kids have been working on lately…

Playdoh…always fun.

Letter Learning Crafts

(most of which I get from this AMAZING website…www.notimeforflashcards.com)

Brother does stuff too…like play with pom poms…

(and, yes, you can totally see only ONE area of our walls in this picture)

or…put stickers on paper (which takes all of like 3 minutes of his attention)

For the letter “B”, I set up a baby “nursery” in our living room.  Cailyn L.O.V.E.D it!  She played forever!

We went out to a small pool/resort area with our team yesterday.  We all take Fridays off normally, so occasionally we all do something together.  It’s nice to take advantage of the swim time during our few short months of summer here.

Liam Fletcher & Corban

Maddox Fletcher & Jakob Yoakum

Parker Davidson & Cailyn

Guess I better end this.  Justin and Cailyn left the house at 4pm for a birthday party, and they just walked in…at 10:15pm.  Welcome back to Peru.