Saturday, January 31, 2009

Perfect Picnic

In true Texas fashion, the ice of a few days ago has given way to almost Spring-like warmness. The last couple of days have really been beautiful, and we have taken advantage. We went over to Inks Lake State Park today for a little picnic. The day was gorgeous, and we all had a wonderful time. In fact, Ruth proclaimed it "the best picnic ever!" And she later said, in all seriousness, "I'm going to tell my children about this picnic." Now that's a seriously good picnic!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hot Time on the Old Town

We don't get to town much these days, but today we took a little road trip over to Austin. The original purpose of our trip was for Jeff to have a business meeting and for me to have lunch with my good friend. Both of those events were cancelled at the last minute, but that didn't keep us from really living it up in the big city. Jeff had a health check-up for insurance purposes, we went to the library, the kids got haircuts, we had some lunch and some fancy hot beverages and did some grocery shopping in the local mega-mart. And a good time was had by all.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wish I was here

Three weeks ago we were living in the Land of (Almost) Perpetual Summer. We were soaking up the sun, living right on the beach, and going to the pool everyday. This morning we woke up to ice covering every outdoor surface. I'm better at summer.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Messes I Have Known

*My in-laws will kindly refrain from reading this post and will think happy thoughts about their once beautiful home*

Here are some of the interesting things I did today:
  • Cleaned tee-tee off the floor. Twice.
  • Changed the culprit's clothes. Twice.
  • Caught my youngest splish-splashing in the toilet after he had clearly gotten bored with unrolling the toilet paper.
  • (Tried not to puke).
  • Changed the culprit's clothes.
  • Caught my youngest emptying the trash can while simultaneously enjoying a snack.
  • (Tried not to puke).
  • Cleaned trash up off the entire kitchen floor.
  • Swept and re-swept the area under the baby chair, and even got down on my hands and knees a couple of times for the really juicy morsels that the broom could do nothing with.
  • Attempted to sweep up about a thousand square foot of spilled glitter, creating at least another thousand square foot of the sparkly mess and spreading it to the far reaches of the entire house.
  • Used dozens of towels to clean up gallons and gallons of spilled water in various rooms around the house.
  • Attempted to keep the toys from completely taking over.
  • Mopped up spilled milk like it was going out of style. But didn't cry.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Stinky week behind us

For the last five days we have been plagued around here by a vile little tummy bug, which has wreaked havoc on us but has finally decided to leave us alone. We are all pretty much back to normal now, thank goodness.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Jeff and I received news today that a friend of ours passed away this morning. She had been ill for many years, so we weren't surprised by the news, but still saddened. This was a wonderful lady, who I wish everyone would have had the privilege to meet. She loved life. She loved people. And most importantly, she loved the Lord. I never once heard her utter a word of complaint, though certainly with her medical problems she was entitled to that as much or more than anyone. I did hear her laugh. A lot. She was a beautiful person and she appreciated beautiful things. And she was very sensitive to the Lord. She once told me that as she was praying one morning, she very distinctly heard the Lord speak to her and tell her to change the light bulb in her closet. She said she kind of laughed to herself and wondered why this could possibly matter to the Lord, but she went and got a step stool in order to take care of this business as soon as possible. When she reached for the globe of the light fixture, she realized it was full of water. Upon further inspection, it was discovered that the cause of the light being out wasn't a burned out bulb, but a water leak that, if left unchecked, could have flooded that entire floor of their house. Her sensitivity and obedience to the Lord saved she and her family a ton of heartache. And this was just one occasion. She understood well that the Lord cares about the details of our lives. So, I do not grieve for her, because I know she is now with the Lord, with a brand-new, illness-free body. But I do grieve for her family, because human attachments are so very hard to sever. Unfortunately, we haven't had an opportunity to see this friend in some years, but the memories we have of her are all beautiful, wonderful memories, and we are thankful for the opportunity we had to know her. And, frankly, I am challenged, as I write these words, to live a life like this. A life full of love. Full of joy. Full of peace. Full of the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

He's not picky; he just knows what he likes

I spent a good portion of my day trying to stuff food into my youngest child, of which he was not the least bit interested. Pretty much the only thing I got for my efforts was a huge pile of food on the floor to sweep up after every attempted feeding. (He is not exactly the eater his big brother was/is--or his big sister, for that matter). But, that's just because I was serving the wrong foods. Turns out what the boy really wanted (and you'll be surprised I didn't think of this sooner) was cold canned green beans and spicy pickled garlic. I'm not kidding. Those two things are the only foods he took more than two bites of all day. And he went after those with gusto. I'm telling you, this kid is a surprise a minute.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Three kids in a tub.
And who do you think they be?
The baby, the big boy, and one little lady.
Look at them now, squeaky clean!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Flickr has (finally) been updated and organized. In my opinion, the best way to view the photos (to get them in chronological order) is to click on the set you want to see, rather than just viewing the photostream. But, that's just me. You can do it however you want. Happy photo viewing.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Teacher's Pets

What a difference it makes to have access to a library and a printer/copier when preparing for school! It was only our first day back to class, but I can see already that these are some things that this teacher won't be able to live without! Stay tuned for more on our homeschool adventure as the semester unfolds.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

First Steps, Second Birthday Party

It was a big day around here. Max took his first steps* and had his second first birthday party. I couldn't capture the steps on camera, but I did get some shots of the party. Enjoy. Max certainly did.

*This was yet another way in which Max surprised us. We were certain he would be our earliest walker, and he has turned out to be our latest. I'm pretty sure he didn't even know that he took a few steps. He was quite surprised when the room erupted in applause and Max-directed praise. But he seemed pretty pleased that something he had done had produced such a response.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Other Education

Even though we are taking a break from school, we are certainly not taking a break from our brains. On Wednesday we took a field trip to Dallas, where we visited the King Tut exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art. Ruth was fascinated, having just studied King Tut this last semester in her history class. Then today, Ruth had an opportunity to interview an author of a couple of books that she recently read (over and over) and absolutely loved. She wrote her own interview questions and did a fabulous job conducting the interview. This author happens to be a friend of my mom's and lives in the same town, so we took advantage of the opportunity while we are here visiting. It's neat to have these opportunities and a student who is so interested in these kinds of things--even when she's on vacation!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ode to the Massage Chair

Family and friends I have missed,
Even appliances and laundry bliss.
But there is one that is dearer still,
One of which I can't get my fill.

The one who greets me with open arms,
The one who heals and never harms,
The one who gives my feet a rest,
And makes my back feel its very best.

O, Massage Chair, how I love you,
And the way you do that thing you do.
You make me sigh, you make me smile,
You always go the extra mile.

Here with you I feel at ease.
You work so hard and always please.
Our time, for now, may end as it starts,
But some day soon we will never part.

Monday, January 12, 2009

To My Little F.T. Baby:

I can't believe you are already one! What a fast and fun year this has been! You entered the world 10 days earlier than expected, and you have been surprising us and keeping us on our toes ever since. Since day one, you have marched to the beat of your own drum, refusing to fit into any pattern set by your older siblings. You have despised pacifiers. You decided to stand long before you even thought about trying to sit. When you finally got your first teeth, they were on top rather than on bottom. You do things your own way, and we think that's great. You spent exactly half of your life living in Brazil, which is not something every one-year-old can say. You are smart and serious, sweet and silly. We call you F.T. because you are certainly a full-time baby. You are always exploring the world around you, and you never seem to find an obstacle too challenging. You love pillows. And doors. And any surface you can beat on. You are one of the strongest babies I have ever known and an excellent climber. You have given us so much joy in the past year, and we praise the Lord for the blessing you are in our lives. We love you so much, Sweet Boy. Happy First Birthday!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Friday, January 09, 2009

And now back to your regularly scheduled program

We arrived back in the U.S. safe and sound, though a little tired, on Tuesday. We went straight from the airport to Chuy's. From there we made our way to Jeff's parents' house at Lake Buchanan. The first order of business was to dig around in our boxes in their barn for some winter clothes. The second order of business was a trip to the grocery store for a few necessities. On Wednesday morning Jeff and I made our way to Kingwood--leaving an extremely large mess and our children behind--to look at houses. On our way, Jeff was pulled over for an out-of-date inspection sticker but managed, as usual, to drive away with only a warning. We saw nine houses on Wednesday afternoon, but none that we just loved. (At least no one that we both loved). We spent Wednesday evening having dinner with our good friends and discussing the houses we had seen. On Thursday, we had lunch with Jeff's brother and then saw four more houses in the afternoon. We were more pleased with those choices, and even found one we wanted to make an offer on. We spent the evening--and into the early morning hours--with our friends. This morning we bought birthday presents for Max and then met with the realtor, only to find out that we have to wait to make our offer until our tax return can be filed, which can't be done until we receive the paperwork from Jeff's last place of employment, which the company doesn't have to send out until the end of January. On our way home, we received one of those phone calls. It was Jeff's parents calling from the clinic to report a traumatic event involving a swing and our middle child. Apparently, the swing decided to let go of the tree to which it was affixed just as Weston reached the apex of his swing. Weston held on for a while but was unable to stop himself from doing a face plant on the gravel driveway, where he seems to have left half of his face. His lip was cut wide open and required three stiches. In fact, his entire face--especially the right side--is in pretty bad shape, and he (along with his grandparents and mother) was understandably traumatized by the whole event, though he still manages to be as cute as can be. So, our return has not been uneventful, for sure. But I'm sure none of you thought even for a moment that it would be. All in all we are glad to be back. We are just hoping things settle down a bit here in the next few days, so we can get all our bags unpacked.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Headed Home

Well, the bags are packed and everything is in order for us to depart tomorrow (except for all those little last-minute things, of course). What an amazing adventure this has been!! Thanks so much for coming along with us, in spirit if not in person. The blog will likely be silent the next few days, as we travel back to the U.S. and as we spend some time visiting with family and house hunting. But don't worry; there are lots more adventures to be had, and I'll be back to report on them when we've had a chance to get somewhat settled. Until then: "May the Lord watch between you and me when we are absent one from another" (Gen. 31:49).

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Going Away Party

Some of our friends hosted a going away party for us this afternoon. The kids played in the pool. The adults sat around visiting in English and Portuguese. And, generally, we all had a wonderful time. We have made so many good friends since we've been here, and we are going to miss them all dearly.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Ringing in the New Year

I wish I could describe for you what New Year's Eve was like here. I will try, but I know already that I will fall woefully short and you will leave still not being able to comprehend what a spectacle it was. The day before yesterday, the city (I suppose) came around and set up tents all along the beach at regular intervals. When yesterday dawned bright and beautiful, people began flocking to the beach in their usual summertime fashion and nothing seemed remotely odd. At 5:00 pm I began to notice cotton candy vendors cruising up and down the beach, which I have never seen before. And before long they were joined by many other vendors of every kind. By 7:00, I could visibly tell the beach was filling up. By 8:30, people were shooting off fireworks and firing up their grills. By 9:00, I knew that this was going to be a party of epic proportions. Ruth and I left the apartment at that time to attend a dinner party, while the boys settled in for a little nap to ensure a peaceful ringing in of the New Year at the New Year's service at the church. We arrived at the church at 10:30 for the 10:45 service, and found the place packed. People continued to flock into the service even long after it had begun, and I think there ended up being about 750 people there, where there are usually about half that many in a really large service. The women were all dressed in fancy after-five attire, the men had on suits and the children were done up just the same, only in miniature. The entire sanctuary was packed and extra seating was set up in a Sunday school room with a video feed. That room was also filled to overflowing, and there was literally standing room only. It was a beautiful service and, as always, a blessing to begin the New Year in the presence of the Lord. The service ended just after midnight, but after many hugs and well-wishes we didn't make it home until about 12:30 or 12:40. On our way home, we ran into a sea of humanity streaming away from the beach and thought the party was probably wrapping up. WRONG! From our eighth-floor perch we could see (and hear) that the party was still very much in full-swing. Honestly, I have never seen anything like what we had going on here. I took some video (around 1:00 am), but still I don't think I captured the true essence of the scene. There was barely a square foot of beach, sidewalk or one lane of the street free. There was dancing, drinking, singing, laughing, screaming and who knows what all else. There were whole families (including very small children) and large groups of friends celebrating with all they had. Once again, I found myself gawking and thoroughly engaged in the people-watching. At 2:00, I thought I noticed a slight decrease in the number of people on the beach, but certainly not in the noise level. At 3:00, I decided to call it a night, though surely I must have been one of the few in all of Praia da Costa to do so, and without a doubt the only mother to have put her children to bed at the very sensible hour of 1:00. At 7:00 this morning, most of the crowd was gone--though certainly there were still a few stragglers--and the the city clean-up crew was out in force. And now, at a quarter to 10:00, the beach is eerily quiet and still, though there are a few out and about. It was a New Year's Eve to remember, for sure. I wish you all could have been here. Happy New Year to all of you. May this year be full of peace, joy and blessings for you all.