November 30, 2012

change is in the tickets

I woke up early this morning thinking about how our lives are about to change.

Wednesday afternoon we bought plane tickets, small pieces of paper that will change our lives forever. $804 each for 2 adults, $729 for a child ticket, and $136 for a baby ticket*. I promptly began to hyperventilate. What on earth were we doing?

Moving deep into the jungle of South America might sound like a crazy thing at first. Give it a minute. Still sound crazy? We had been talking about it for a year, we had been "going" to Guyana for what felt like forever. I had gotten used to the words. I'd tell people kind of nonchalantly and they would be all surprised and ask me if I was scared or excited. Excited? Not really. The words had lost their meaning. I'd said it so many times it just kind of became a fact of life. But then we bought tickets.

My dear friend Jenn was so soothing. "What are we thinking?" I asked her. I could hear the smile in her voice as she reassured me that we were following where God had clearly been leading. We had been preparing for this for years, and the next step is a leap of faith. Though Jenn's world calmed my outsides, my insides still were in knots. So many questions are still unanswered. I want to plan. I want to know details. All we need to do is remember that God has lead us to this place.

This morning, my thoughts were less wild and more down to business. Thinking about packing, travel, setting up my small "cabin" [read: hut in the jungle], and wondering what my first thoughts of the jungle will be. I'm can now honestly answer, "yes, I'm very excited" when people ask. Scared? A little - of the unknowns. But most of all I'm peaceful and ready to follow God. My insides still tense up and I'm sure I'll have the anxious thoughts until we arrive in our new home, but I'll also have peace and faith. And that's all I really need.

*Babies don't fly free internationally anymore - did you know that? I didn't!

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November 25, 2012

why we're celebrating Hanukkah

"So... are you Jewish now?" My sisters question, though somewhat expected, made me laugh.

We aren't converting. We are still Christian, still celebrating Christmas, and still going to drink lots of hot cocoa, though I'm not sure hot cocoa has a religious preference.

We are just learning more about our Jewish roots.

Yes, we have Jewish roots.

We are followers of Jesus - a Jew. And though Jewish traditions have evolved since Jesus was alive, we still think they are worth knowing about, learning about, and even practicing.

My knowledge of Hanukkah is very limited. VERY limited. What I know about Hanukkah can probably fit in a followed out dreidel. But I'm learning. Our whole family is learning.

Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the miracle of oil in the temple lamps. The English word Hanukkah means "rededication." The temple had just been taken back from the Syrians by the Hebrew army. They had cleaned out the temple and were in the process of rededicating it, when they discovered there was only enough oil to light the temple for one night. Eight days later the lights finally flickered out. Hanukkah celebrates this miracle with the 8 days of Hanukkah.

Read more about Hanukkah

The actual celebration part seems to vary, but there are some basics. We will have a menorah that we will light each day. There are 9 candles on a menorah, 8 represent each day of the miracle, and the 9th center candle is used to light the others. We will also play the dreidel game - each of the 4 sides of the dreidel - a square-ish wooden top - traditionally has one Hebrew letter from the Hebrew "A miracle happened here."

We will also be making traditional latkes - potato pancakes - and making homemade doughnuts.

We'll also be making some Hanukkah crafts throughout our 8-day celebration.

Make Hanukkah crafts

I have Millie's 8 presents wrapped, but I'm finding it harder to find small, inexpensive toys for an 18-month old. I have 4 so far. Our Hanukkah presents for the kids are small and inexpensive, kind of like stocking stuffer kind of presents. Doing Hanukkah AND Christmas can be pretty daunting, so we kept it simple and inexpensive - learning toys from the Dollar Tree and the dollar bins at Target, and other little craft items, books, etc.

Millie's Hanukkah presents: Nativity stickers, animal stickers, Melissa & Doug scissor set, Nativity coloring book, glitter crayons, play-dough shape cutters, and an ABC writing book.

Sam's Hanukkah presents are: a small dump truck, a ball, "The Bible Says..." book, and jungle bells. I need to get 4 more little things for him (any ideas???).  

The point in the 8 presents for us isn't to shower our children with gifts, it's to make Hanukkah a celebration and to learn new things. So if you're Jewish and reading this and shaking your head at how little I know, please feel free to tell me what I'm doing wrong. :)

Happy Hanukkah!!!
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November 24, 2012

Making the most out of the holiday season (with toddlers!)

This is the first year Millie will remember the holiday season. In the past we’ve always just kind of done holidays halfheartedly in the name of -it-doesn’t-matter-she-won’t-remember-it-anyway. Now that she’s at the ripe old age of 3 ¼, I want to make magical memories for her. She won’t remember every last detail, but now is the time to start traditions to build on in years to come. So if my list sounds like a lot, know that we’re trying a little bit of a lot of things this year, and next year we’ll expand on what we liked. Besides, this is also our last Christmas in the States, so it will help to have everything together and boxed up after the New Year to ship down for next year in the jungle.

So, here is our making-the-most-of-holiday-memories bucket list:

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September 19, 2012

meet sam!

I was recently asked about my little man, Sam. I go on and on and on about Millie, but apparently I don't talk as much as about Sam. My guess as to why this is because Millie can talk - and talk she does! She says and does the funniest things, so I tend to share these things.

Sam, on the other hand, though he is very vocal, isn't saying any words. At 15 months he's a total ham, and laughs at everything, and is always smiling at everyone. He is a total dear and he brings so much joy to our family. He is ALL boy - very rough and tumble, and as evident in this photo, always covered in dirt, grime, and scrapes.

Having a boy is everything I ever thought it would be - and more! I love watching him explore and have his adventures and move, move, move! Always on the move. Yet, he's still a super mellow guy. He still likes to have his mama snuggles. He can sit for longer than possibly any other 15-month old and try to figure out how something works and see what else he can make it do.

He loves to follow his big sister around and do everything that she does. She'd never admit it, but she loves having a little brother puppy dog following her around. They play very well together most of the time, until Millie starts in with the "mine" stuff or forgets that she's bigger than him and gets too rough. Sam thinks that Millie is just about the greatest person alive (other than mama, of course), rivaled only by Papa. Both these kids light up when their papa walks in the door.

Sam is very happy and outgoing, until a stranger talks to him. I need to get a photo of this - he does this little pose where he lifts his shoulder and puts his cheek on it, and stands and looks oh-so-shy. It's darling. He warms up to people quickly, but only on his own terms.

The other little quirk that makes Sam "Sam," is that this kid doesn't eat. Ever. He had some severe reflux and sensory issues, so he wasn't physically able eat solids until he was 11 1/2 months, and now he will take bites of some things, but has no interest in eating more than a taste or two most of the time. Every once in a while he'll forget his ban on food and enjoy something, but those times are few and far between. He is supposed to grow out of this and will eventually eat food. Or so I'm told.

I can go on and on and on about how special my babies are. And it's fun to sit and think about everything that makes someone so special. I recommend journaling about your own special in your life.
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September 14, 2012


I've been a little lost in the blogging world lately. Truth be told, I've been a little lost in real world lately as well... Since we're being honest - most things in my house have been a little lost lately too.

We are moving to Guyana in South America. The general response to that is, "Oh wow! When?!" And my general response is to smile blankly back. "When?" That certainly is the question of the day. The answer is a resounding "I don't know." Several factors have to be in place before we can go. First of all, we still need to eat. Second of all, eating takes money. Third of all, we don't have enough money to eat on. While we are getting closer to our roughly $4,000 goal, we aren't there yet. All in God's timing, right? (And God, just in case "at home with millie and sam" is on your blogroll and you happen to catch this post, my offer to help get all this on the calendar is still open.)

I used to be in college. I was quick and witty (well, in my own special way) and I remembered information long enough to get "A's" on tests. These days... well I don't know if it's the 2 kids or the lack of a collegiate environment or a zillion other factors (none of which include my age) but I have the hardest time remembering things! I have never had this problem... at least that I remember.

Anyway, what was I saying?

Oh yeah. The ol' memory. She's just not what she used to be. Does anyone know if there is an herb I can take? Some sort of dietary supplement?

This is part of that "lost" thing I mentioned in the beginning.

Millie is now 3. Sigh. And Samuel is 15 months. Double sigh. They are 32 and 22 pounds, respectively. That's over 50 lbs of kids. Good thing I've got a titanium reinforced hip... great, just one. Does that mean I'm going to be lopsided?

I really hope I don't lose my kids...

So anyhow. That's us. And I updated my blog template. That's about it. My computer had some problems and I reformatted it and lost my iphoto somehow. So I don't have a photo program. I guess I need to just buy it.. drat.

I also added a tab about our project, which is a letter from our family, and a tab for DIIC (Davis Indian Industrial College) which is a link to our new website. Not much on it yet, because we're not there yet. But soon and very soon it will be full of all the amazing testimonies God will give us to share.

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September 9, 2012

custom vanilla-chocolate covered pretzels

Having a party?!
I'm doing these as a fundraiser to raise money for our move to South America. 
$30 for 5-dozen in any 2 colors. $40 for 6-dozen with 3 colors. 

I will take better photos as I make more, I promise. :)

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July 19, 2012

july interview

Monthly interview with Millie:

• What is something mommy always says to you? I don't know. Nothing.
• What makes you happy? Jesus. Jesus!
• What makes you sad? My pac! It was broken like this (and shows me with her fingers)
• What makes you laugh? A book
• How old are you? 1. I'm 1. And Samuel's 2.
• How old is Mommy? 1
• How old is Daddy? 1
• What is your favorite thing to do? Rice.
• Who is your best friend? Brooklyn and Sydney and Izzy and Zander and Ariana.
• What do you want to be when you grow up? I still want to be Amelia, but now I'm big.
• What are you really good at? cleaning up
• What is your favorite food? rice
• What is your favorite song? Animals
• What do you want for your birthday this year? A birthday cake
• What is your favorite animal? A kitty cat and a doggie
• What is love? Love - you
• What does mommy/daddy do for work? He eats his lunch
• Where is your favorite place to go? Kid time!

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July 18, 2012

we're on our way

We did something we never do... we had family photos taken! A friend from church did them, and they turned out darling! Want a sneak peek?

I thought you might.

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goals: organizing

Goals. We all have them, right? Some people set goals to loose weight, others to save money. Some people set travel goals or budgeting goals. Me, I set goals like, participate in, and win pie eating contest. Which I did this weekend. And came in second. Another goal I often set is to write on my blog everyday. You can see I'm not very good at reaching this goal. My most recent goal though, is to get my life a little more organized. I'm reading this book, and because it's so great I've been telling everyone about it, called "Parenting by the Spirit." I'm actually reading the second one now on infants and toddlers. Best book I've ever read on parenting, spiritual growth, and spiritual living. She recommends (and other books I've read have agreed) to have 3 things to keep an organized home: meal planning, daily schedules, and a weekly cleaning list. So, I'm trying these ideas out:
 Sorry for all the white space. I just made this in Word. She (Sally Hohnberger, author of "Parenting by the Spirit") talks about how children need to have chores, and need to be allowed to work along side parents to cultivate a happy and willing work attitude. I just want to say here that I hear SO often from mothers of small children that it's hard to keep a clean house. The more small children, the harder it is, unless you just have the personality to stay on top of it all the time. In which case, kudos to you and place come hang out with me so it might rub off a bit. I enjoy housework, but find it next to impossible some days. Kids are really messy. Especially mine. They have this uncanny ability to eat one small thing and get it all over the house at the same time. And they tag-team it too, so if I'm following one around picking up crumbs, the other give the "I'm on it" wink" and before I know it, all efforts have failed to keep clean. This is why having a schedule helps. I know I'll be vacuuming 3 days a week, so I plan for it. If I'm going to mop, I give them something extra fun and messy, cause I'm already planning on cleaning it up. Again, this is my ideal. Somedays there are things that take over. Like lack of sleep. Some days I feel extra motivated and do extra chores. It's just a guide to help me try to get everything done in a week that I need to do.
About the schedule, she says start with the basics, then fill things in as you go. For our family, this isn't the rule, rather it's the ideal. But I have kids and things happen, I don't beat myself up if things get missed some days. Like a shower. As my kids grow, our schedule will grow. We just made something to have in place to work with.

Meal planning: I don't have a photo of this because I hand-wrote it on a printable I found online. There are oodles of them out there. I just started with breakfast, and wrote in things that I can make each morning (some mornings it's cold cereal). I started with things we have, then added more, keeping a shopping list of what I would need to fill in the blanks. Then I did supper, again plugging in first meals we already had on hand, then adding to that and writing down what I needed to buy to make certain meals. Then I did lunch, planning on leftovers for certain meals, quick lunches on busy days, and portable lunches on park days for a picnic. Again, if something goes awry and meals don't go according to plan, it's not a big deal! I can swap meals if I want, or decide I'm not cooking and order a pizza if I want. The whole idea is just to be planning ahead, have what you need in your pantry, and not have to worry about, "what am I going to make for supper tonight?" I might find a recipe online I want to try, if I have the ingredients I'll make it, if not, I'll add it to the next cycle of meal plans (we try to shop for 2 weeks at a time for everything but produce which we buy once a week). This just helps you know what to buy, how much to buy, and will help cut back on things you don't really need to buy. :) In theory, at least. I still ran to the store yesterday for bread and ice cream.

Happy organizing and
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July 13, 2012

no more paci day

It is a VERY big day in our house. So big, we've declared it a holiday. It's NO MORE PACI DAY!!!

The cake said, "Big Girl Amelia!" before some crazy mother got the bright idea to take a photo of a 2-year old holding a cake. 
I mean, really. 
What did you think would happen?

Yay!!! My baby is a big girl!
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July 11, 2012

toddler adventures: mud play

Today we played in the mud at Grammy Mo's house:

Millie got to make the mud pit. 

She asked if she could get in the mud. I said yes. "Can I get IN the mud?" She didn't believe I said yes! 

Sam mostly just played with the hose. 

That is Mama's leg. 

"Painting" my legs. 

Sam has mud on his feet because I put mud on his feet. He didn't touch the mud. 

Millie and her artwork. 

I'm not sure what was more fun, the med or the cleaning up.

Thanks Grammy Mo for letting us play in your mud!
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July 10, 2012

summer fun: june update

Yes it's technically July, but let's pretend it's the end of June still. Here is what we've crossed off our list so far:

  • Make homemade ice cream
  • Plant a garden
  • Quality time with Auntie Sissy
  • Portland Zoo
  • 7 Oaks Farm
  • Kid Time
  • Make and send cards
  • Picnics
  • Make cupcakes
  • CP water park
  • Jacksonville water park
  • Stewart water park
  • Paint outside
  • VBS
  • Pick flowers
  • Wildlife Safari Park
  • Grower's Market
  • Paint rocks
  • Visit the Humane Society
  • Make a wind chime
  • Have a yard sale
  • Fly kites
  • Pick berries
  • Watch fireworks
  • Go to the wave pool
  • Make giant bubbles
  • Go to the beach
  • Hunt for heart-shaped rocks
  • Oregon Caves
  • Eat sno-cones
  • Wash the car
  • Wash the Bikes
  • Make a fort
  • Camp in the front room
  • Get ice cream from an ice cream truck
  • Get lemonade from a stand
  • Hike up Table Rock
  • Explore the railroad park
  • Have a water balloon fight
  • Make our own fruit leather
  • Have rootbeer floats
  • Play frisbee
  • Go to story time at the library
  • Visit a fire station
  • Hike up Multnomah Falls
  • See a parade
  • Play at OMSI
  • Make Jello
  • Make individual pizzas
  • Feed ducks
  • Visit a retirement home
  • Go camping
  • Roast marshmallows
  • Ride the bus around town
  • Go to the fair
  • Make and take cookies to the neighbors
  • Ride in an airplane
  • Watermelon feed
  • Make cinnamon rolls
  • Get our faces painted
  • Set up a pretend restaurant
  • Paint with pudding
  • Make a pinata - have a party!
  • Make applesause
  • Ride in a boat
  • Go to an air show with papa
  • Run through a sprinkler
  • Science Works
  • Eat something we grew
  • Make homemade granola
  • Swim outside
  • Make play dough
Plans are in the works to cross many more things off this month!
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toddler adventures: zoo

On our way home from vacation with Auntie Sissy, the kids and I met up with the cousins at the Portland Zoo. Here are some photos:

Just my kid, climbing into the bear pen.  

The girl cousins minus one. 

See, we are meant to be farm people! 

Millie's first snow cone!

The photo before the epic snow cone mess. 

They have this area where you can brush the goats.

"Hey goat! You want a brushin?"

 Frafa, looking longingly at the giraffes and wishing he could roam free. Little does he realize, these are zoo giraffes, not free giraffes.

Wondering if she could get the fence down and feed Sam to the hippos before mama would notice...
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toddler adventures: camping

We went on our first camping trip with the kids! It was a total success!
Here are some photos, things I learned and advice for camping with babies and toddlers:

Millie ALWAYS wants to help. We try to let her  unless it's unsafe. 

Sam couldn't get enough nature. Especially in his mouth. 

Little helper! 

Advice: set up the tent first, then let the kids play in it while you set up the rest of the camp. Remember a small broom and dustpan or you will, like me, be sweeping the floor with wipes. 

I brought Milllie's kitchen toys so she could "cook" on her little "fire" also. Imagination is a beautiful thing.  

Meanwhile, Sam just runs around carting toys across camp and eating things. 

Pack and play for the baby to nap in. He did great! 

An already made fort was waiting for us on the beach. Win! 

First marshmallow roasting. I started that fire, by the way. ;)

It was a huge success!  

If you haven't noticed yet, yes, my kids are matching. Happy accident in the wardrobe department.

 Fog rolled through but didn't stay.

 Here I raise my Ebenezer...

This is morning. Millie is warming by the fire. That Fire Marshal Mama made. 

Our camp menu:
Lunch: PB&J sandwiches, chips, melon
Supper: veggie hot dogs, potatoes, chips, smores
Breakfast: instant organic oatmeal, fruit, hot chocolate, and we may or may not have had a marshmallow. Or two. 

We love taking corn, but it's not allowed over the California border. To cook corn and potatoes, prep them with butter and salt and wrap in tin foil. Throw over coals to cook. Amazing. 
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