Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Rest of the Story...

behind Coralynn's picture gives me confidence that this child is going to be a handful!

Coralynn had a sippy cup of water, but decided she wanted my cup instead.  She does really well with cups, but mine was filled to the top so she would have drowned herself.  I told her no.  She cried and reached for the cup again.  No from me, again.

At this point the child decided she was going to throw a full-out 2yo tantrum (at 14 months- an overachiever!).  She began to slowly lower herself onto the floor to be able to have the full arms and legs fit.  Knowing that tile floors are hard, she was very careful about getting into the fit position.  Unfortunately, the momentum of her fit was ruined by the gingerness of the lowering.

The kids and I were highly amused at her antics. Yes, we were laughing at her.  What resulted was the picture- a Coralynn Mae sobbing because she didn't get my water AND she didn't get to throw a proper fit.  Poor Bits!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Favorite Things

~Rain.  I love rain.  I love a humid Midwestern afternoon, and the ozone smell that comes over the land before the storm hits.  I love thunder and lightening.  I no longer consider myself an Illinois girl, but I will always love a Midwestern thunderstorm. 

~Friendship.  I have some fabulous friends.  People that make me better.  Encourage me to keep the faith.   Ladies, and guys, who put me on the right path when I mess up (and who are loving enough to point out when I'm on the wrong path).  People who spur me to believe in myself.  Those who invest themselves in you so that you will forever take a piece of them with you.

~Moving boxes and empty houses.  Another great pairing.  I love the feeling of excitement at the next step.  The feeling of fear of what's to come.  The feeling of sadness at what is left behind.  The feeling of accompishment at what was done and is to be still.

~Feelings.  I love to feel.  Happiness.  Excitement.  Fear.  Sadness.  Calm.  I love the range of feelings that the Lord created within us.

~Labor and Delivery.  If I could give birth professionally, I would.  Besides the depth of feelings it creates, I love how the world stops in those moments.  The physical pain allows your mind and body to completely focus on the miraculous task of bringing life into the world.

~Autumn.  The crisp morning air.  The dampness of the weather changing.  Soccer afternoons and football Saturdays.  Wearing jeans after months of shorts.  I love how the whole earth seems to enjoy the freedom of cooler weather as it prepares for the stillness of winter.

~Vacation Days.  I love being together.  And I like it better during the middle of a normal work week.  Life is right when Tony and the kids and I are all together.  Grocery shopping.  Beach.  Airplane.  Mall.  The where doesn't matter.  It's all about the whom.

What about you?  What touches deeply within your soul?  What brings you happiness?  What allows your spirit to breathe more easily?  What feels like a smile from heaven?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wednesday's 7!

A few apologies before we start praising this Wednesday afternoon!
~I'm sorry this is getting up so late in the day.  We had some service outages today.
~My blogger spellcheck is back to being in Spanish.  Sorry for spelling oops!!  (and if anyone knows how to fix this, let me know!)

With that done, let's get started on praising!!

~My internet and TV service are back!!

~I got a great email from a dear friend in Georgia who shared that some fences are being mended in an important relationship!  I was thrilled for her!

~While checking my email this morning, there was a note from a lady I only know online.  She shared some sweet encouraging words that really got my day started on the right path!!

~We had a fabulous dinner out for Chloe's 9th birthday.  She picked the very Panamanian restaurant, Bennigan's- note sarcasm- for her birthday meal.  It was surprisingly okay.  In lieu of presents, I let her pick everyone's clothing for dinner.  Forcing Camilla in blue and green was a great present for Chloe.  (and I can guarantee Camilla will have Chloe in all pink in a few weeks!)

~Sunday's message at church.  I'm so thankful for it!  You should feel free to listen to it   Crossroads Bible Church- Panama City  (Sunday the 24th's message was not up at the time I posted this, but this will be the link when it is posted.  Any of them are worth hearing.)

~The kids have been playing "school" nonstop for the past few days.  I'm choosing to believe this is because they are so excited to start next week!

~The transition back to Panama has gone quite smoothly.  We had a day of mental fog and a day of emotion, but other than that, all is going well!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Ends.

In 9 days, life as I've known it for 9 years is going to come to an end.  (How's that for overly dramatic??)  Chloe is going to go to school.  Carson and Camilla are going to go with her.  Only Coralynn Mae and I will be left at home.  It's the end of an era.  The Chloe Era.

And I'm not taking it well.  But that's nothing compared to how the Bits is going to handle it.

I was very concerned that Coralynn and Chloe were going to be too far apart in age to have a very good relationship.  8 years is a significant amount of age difference especially with other siblings in the mix.  I was concerned that Chloe would be busy doing big kid stuff and not be interested in her littlest sis.  And, to be honest, Chloe is not one of those girls who just loves babies.  So, I was worried.

And for a few months, my fears seemed justified.  She wanted very little to do with the Bits.  Coralynn was more of an annoyance than an novelty.  Or a sister.  I watched Chloe's friends flock to the new baby.  And Chloe look at them like they needed to grow up and get a real hobby.  There was never any jealousy- just total apathy.

Then Coralynn got a personality.  A real personality.  Not just the feed me change me put me to bed personality.  Now my biggest and my youngest- my ends- are the closest.  As you could see in the video of Coralynn walking, Coralynn went to Chloe.  I was right there videotaping, but she went to Chloe.

The part that makes me the happiest about that?  She went to Chloe, her sister.  Not Chloe, her second mommy.  When she needs a mommy, she still wants me.  Dirty diapers.  Skinned knees.  Hurt feelings.  Those are my territory.  But lots of times, she doesn't need a mommy.  She needs a Chloe.  Only your sister can teach you VBS dances.  And silly rhymes.  And funny faces.    And for her part, Coralynn has taught Chloe the joy of simplicity:  first laughs, first words, first steps.

The End of An Era.  Homeschooling is over.  The kids are headed to school.  The Bits and I will be just a twosome.  But the end of my Ends.  I don't think so.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Money Monday!

(You already know I love alliteration, and I love talking about money.  It was another great pairing.) 

First up, with the sale of our house on June 20th, we are now officially 100% debt free!!  (Feel free to join me in the Happy Dance.  Since it is our family's Happy Dance it requires no rhythm to participate.)  Let me tell you, debt free feels fabulous.  We have never had much, if any,consumer debt, and that was nice, but 100% debt free is amazing!!

In honor of being completely debt free for the first time since January 2002, we decided to set a new financial goal: to save in order to buy our next house completely with cash.  No mortgage.  No loans.   We are slotted to remain in Panama for three years.  That would put our return date sometime in March 2014, but because life is a bit unpredictable with company moves, I've decided to use June 2014 as our return to the States date.   We started the plan in April of this year.

39 months.  39 months to save for a house is not very much time.  We did have equity in the house and some savings to begin with so we aren't starting at zero.  Not knowing where our next location is makes it tricky to compute what our final amount should be.  Instead, we sat down with the budget and cut out every extra anything to save as much as possible. 

Now, in the name of full disclosure, we cut out everything we wanted to or felt like we could.  The household helpers are still in the budget.  We still have a smaller dining budget.  We are still saving for vacations.  And, of course, there is tithing.

The tithe has always and will always come out first.  And for a while, I was satisfied with that.  And the savings was buzzing right along.  Then, a sermon threw me off my game.  Pastor Steve preached on a few verses in Proverbs that I've been skimming over for years.  Proverbs 30:7-9, The Message. (click to view other translations)

 And then he prayed, "God, I'm asking for two things
   before I die; don't refuse me—
Banish lies from my lips
   and liars from my presence.
Give me enough food to live on,
   neither too much nor too little.
If I'm too full, I might get independent,
   saying, 'God? Who needs him?'
If I'm poor, I might steal
   and dishonor the name of my God."

Now, I'm sure that lots of us have read this before, but assuming we aren't Oprah or Bill Gates (if either of whom are reading the blog, please email me!), we glossed over it.  How could we ever have enough to not need God?  Not likely.  Even if we save enough to have no mortgage, we would still need God.  That isn't what struck me.  What struck me is what I was keeping from God by saving for my goals.  Ouch. 

A new goal has taken shape.  We are saving as much as we can for our new mortgage-free house.  Except that which the Lord calls on for His purposes.  Now some people might be saying, "uh, Lis, does God email you the numbers?"  No.  But He isn't always very subtle. 

This past month we'd been able to save an extra 30% toward our housing goal.  And to be perfectly honest, I was quite pleased with our hardwork and ability to save that much more.  Told my Hearts ladies.  Told my bff.  Told Tony- several times.  I was tickled.  Then, yesterday's church service happened.  Tony asked me how much we could give to the missionaries.  I was good with whatever number.  He gave me the monthly number.  I said that was fine, but I prefer giving a onetime gift.  Fine.  Didn't think about it again.   Until it hit me.

That gift, in a single lump sum, is exactly the extra 30% we'd saved this month.  Good thing God knows I need obvious!

Money Mondays will be our weekly tracking of our financial goals in the light of His eternal goals.  (and I can't wait to see exactly the house He has for us in 39 months!- or if He has that goal for us!)

We're Walking!!


...And it Shows

Coralynn clearly loves to fly...

(you see her wings, right?)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Great Pairings

I love a good pairing:

Chocolate and peanut butter.  French fries and tarter sauce.

Thunderstorms and summer nights.  Damp October afternoons and soccer games.

Sleepy babies and soft blankies.  Little girls and white sundresses.

But my favorite pairing has nothing to do with food, or nature, or family.  My favorite pairing?  Words and music.

I really enjoy music.  Would give anything to be talented in music, but it doesn't begin to compare with my love of words.  I love words.  Spoken or read.  Calm or passionate.  I love words.  But like all great pairings, the whole is so much greater than the individual pieces.  And so it is for me with words and music.

Nothing touches my soul like song lyrics.  If you want my attention, send me a song that speaks your mind.  It will reach my heart.  Much to my family's dismay, I can listen to the same song for hours, days, however long it takes for it to reach the depths it needs to.  And it isn't just Christian music that reaches deep within me.  When we moved to Panama, a song by Michael Buble moved me.  It helped me see I wasn't alone in my loneliness. 

(Quick side note: the BEST advice I ever got was from my Big Bro.  I was going through a rough patch over 14 years ago and he said, "You need to feel what you feel when you feel it."  I later added, "And don't apologize for it."  That right to emotional integrity was a life changer for me.) 

The song? Home from Michael buble's album It's Time. In the first stanza he sings,

Another summer day
has come and gone away
In Paris or Rome...
but I wanna go home
...uhm Home
may be surrounded by
a million people I
still feel all alone
just wanna go home

I miss you, you know

The emphasis is mine.  Those 16 words rang in my head for weeks.  Yes!  That was what I was feeling.  How could there be so many people everywhere, and I still feel so alone?  Months later, that song still holds a special place in my memory, but no longer affects me like it once did.  I've moved to a new place mentally.  And a new song.

For the past 4 weeks or so, this song- a Christian song- plays in my psyche.

I hope you listened to the song.  Didn't just wait for what I was going to say about it.  It's worth 4:46 of your time.

 (I have listened to it about 16 times in a row.  This post is taking me much longer to write than I originally planned.  My girls are sitting on the floor playing dominoes and singing those words at the top of their lungs.  I am exactly where I want to be.)

The whole song is amazing, but one section challenges me.  Kicks me.  Makes my soul toss and turn.

Fearless warriors in a picket fence,
 reckless abandon wrapped in common sense
Deep water faith in the shallow end
and we are caught in the middle
With eyes wide open to the differences,
the God we want and the God who is
But will we trade our dreams for His or are we caught in the middle
Are we caught in the middle
--from Somewhere in the Middle, Casting Crowns, the Altar and the Door

Again and again, I play the song hoping that this time I hear it I will know what it means.  I'm not talking about dictionary definitions or theological discourse.  I want to know what it means about me.  For me.  To me.

This morning at church a family traded in their dreams for His.  We sent a family to the mission field in Guinea, West Africa.  They are originally from Columbia and moved to Panama with work.  They are now heading to Africa to teach English to the Jahonga people. 

And I complain because learning Spanish is too hard.

You think I'm stuck in the shallow end?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I promise..

The review posts are going to be coming to an end soon.  The fluff factor on the blog is getting to me a little bit, and I've been pondering a few things that will hit the blog soon.  BUT in the name of "weekend." I'll share a little more funsy from our trip.

The main reason we went to Georgia, beyond the obvious reason of seeing friends, was because Chloe was dying to have a part in the Music Week performance, and this is the first year she was eligible.  (For the record, I didn't tell anyone that was why we were coming, and I didn't pay Mrs. Speri off to guarantee Chloe had some role in the musical.)  Much to her deep pleasure, she got to be part of the choreography of one of the songs.  She was one of 10 or 12 kids, and was beyond thrilled to be selected.  (I love this about her.  Lots of kids would have complained because they didn't get a "cooler" role.  A more starring role.  She was simply delighted to have the opportunity.)  So here she is doing her part... 

(For those who don't know her, she is the "Dog and Cat" girl.)

I thought I would also share the video of Chloe's bestie singing her solo in the musical.  You know a kid is talented when you ask them, "Do you prefer playing the cello, playing the piano, or singing better?"  To which she replies, "I like them all.   Everyone thinks cello is the coolest, but singing is much easier."  (I love this child.  She is my non-C-name daughter!)

(Libby's the second soloist- the green shirt.)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Funsy Friday- Picture Day!!

Time to play- Where in the World is Camilla Rose???

Maybe in her Kindergarten classroom?  No.  Maybe in a locker room?  Closer.  In the ER getting X-rays?  Yes!  You are correct!  If you look closely at the picture, you can see her nose and eyes are black and blue.  Miss Skippy Sue was cheerfully singing and skipping her way up the front steps in the church sanctuary on Friday evening.  Next thing I hear is screaming.  Lots of screaming.  From the child that hates being noticed in public.  Apparently, Miss Skippy Sue became Miss Trippy Dippy as she fell up the stairs.  Unfortunately for her sweet face, she couldn't get her hands down in time to catch herself and fell directly on her nose.  (I heard those "ouches" coming from cyberville!)

We put ice on it and tried to calm her down.  Eventually the Camilla Whisperer- AKA Mrs. Jennifer- brought her gummy bears and life returned to a swollen normal.  She even went and had a sleepover that night.  By the time I picked her up, she was bruised, but nothing terrible.  Unfortunately, Saturday night brought some weird shifts to the bruising and her nose so we called in the professionals.

Dr. Lisa took a look at her after Sunday school.  I knew it wasn't good when she said, "Y'all aren't flying home soon are you?"  Umm.  In two days.  Is that soon?  That answered landed us in the ER getting x-rays.  Fortunately, the diagnosis was a compression fracture and the ENT agreed it was fine for her to fly.  Big relief!  1 week later, the child's nose looks much better.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Worn Out!

When our host family was struck with a stomach virus, we decided to take their need for downtime as a great opportunity to visit some other friends.  On Tuesday, July 12, we headed over to the Daniels for some swimming and spaghetti.  The kids love going to the Daniels because they have big girls, a big boy, and a little girl- the perfect match up for my crew!  And Mandy and I always share fabulous conversation so I'm was as excited as they were!  We had a super time and the kids ended up needing a sleepover to get all their time together satisfied.

After 3 hours of VBS, 2 hours of Music Week, and 2 hours of swimming pool, Coralynn Mae had hit her fun limit.  You know you're tired when you fall asleep in your carseat, and then happily sleep in the "taco" position for 90 minutes until your mom wakes you up.

The Trip in Review:

Friday, July 8:  Cow Appreciation Day

For my non American Southeast following, Cow Appreciation Day is Chick-Fil-A's way of proving to the rest of the country what a cult following looks like.  Okay, that's not the official explanation.  The party line is that CAD is when Chick-Fil-A fans dress like cows for free food.  If you dress like a cow from head to hoof (yes, that's really the line), you get free food.  Partial cowness gets you only an entree.

Last year, we dressed in our full cow regalia and got nothing free.  Nada.  Other than feeling like a moooron (couldn't resist), the trip was unsuccessful.  One of our fellow cow folk did talk to a manager who reimbursed us some of our money because she agreed that the cashier was being a little too herd core.  (Okay, I'll stop now.)

I had told people that we were not going back, but a friend asked if we would participate if we checked with the manager beforehand to get the acceptable attire rules.  I agreed.  Barely.   I did ask that we go at dinner when the crowds are less severe.  Deal.

The 8 of us got dressed- Chloe went with a friend- and headed to Chick-Fil-A.  Fortunately, all went well.  It was great to get a free dinner and we left moocho gusto!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Happy Birthday to Chloe Marie!! 
 (cake credits to AOE)

Chloe and Libby!
(It was beyond a blessing to watch them together again- a truly comfortable friendship.)

We're Home!

After 2 wonderful weeks in Georgia, we are back in Panama!!  I had intended to update regularly, but life, the stomach flu, and a broken nose got in the way. 

Our flight back to Panama was great- with the exception of the hour we sat on the tarmac.  No one got sick on the return flight, so that was a blessing!!  Coralynn did not do nearly as well on the return flight.  I was very thankful Tony was with us.

Let's hit our weekly 7!

~The kids and I had a great time at VBS at the Big Apple Adventure.  It was great to see them really enjoying themselves.

~All the kids did great at their doctor's appointments.  Coralynn is happily on the correct portion of the growth chart so I'm super relieved!  I cannot say enough fabulous things about Dr. Lisa's office.  This move to Panama was made so much smoother by their help!

~Somehow we managed, while we were in the States, to miss the stomach flu that was going around town.  I have no idea how that is even possible since we were in close proximity with some of the victims.

~The flight to GA went relatively smoothly.  With the exception of the need of a few air sickness bags for one of the kids, all went great.  The people in customs were downright pleasant.  It was wonderful.

~Big praise for the generosity of Bruce and Elizabeth letting us borrow their van.  It saved huge headaches and money.  Thank you!!

~Shout out to the various families who allowed the kids to spend the night.  At one point, I thought that Chloe had been kidnapped my her bff, and I was thrilled!  I loved seeing the kids just pick up where they left off with their friends.

~Huge praise for Shawn and Amelia opening their home to the six of us for 10 nights.  That's a whole lot of people for a long time.  And it went great.  Really great.  Tony and Shawn are already making plans for our future compound.  (umm- this city girl isn't moving to rural Alabama!)  

Friday, July 8, 2011

Funsy Friday

The kids and I made it safely to Georgia.  We've been enjoying life in the South- and in the English-speaking world.   (ahhh- big exhale of easy living!)  Stay tuned for updates about our travel from Panama- taking three kids, 2 checked bags, 3 carry-ons, and a carseat through customs is going to create blog entries!

I thought I would share with you some "views" of Panama today.  Each video is right around 1 minute.  They were each taken on the way to the airport Wednesday morning. 

Downtown Panama City, Panama

The Pacific Ocean

Traffic coming into the City

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Every morning, I weigh myself.  I like to have a clear picture of what my weight is doing.  Otherwise, I have no idea if I should be obsessing because it is too low or too high.  It's important to have accurate information when obsessing!  Saturday morning was no different until it was.

I reached under the bathroom sink and grabbed the scale.  As I was pulling it out, I noticed a little black thing underneath it.  Oh no- cockroach!   Um, not exactly.  (Carson is taking the video- until he panics.)


No.  A cockroach would have been entirely too mundane for our Panamanian adventure.  We needed to go bigger.  And better.  And harder to step on.  We had to go- scorpion!

I have no idea how large residential scorpions in Panama can be, but this guy seemed awfully large to me.  In the name of research and science, we decided to get a measurement on him.  (Not that I have any idea if it was a him.  I just figured women generally go to the restroom in packs, and this was alone.  Must be a guy.)  With consideration to the scientific skills we have developed from years of homeschooling, we decided to use the AMM, accountant measurement method.  We threw a quarter on the ground to get some perspective on his size.

I've decided that's a big scorpion.  After Chloe and I took all the necessary pictures, we needed a plan of attack on removing Mr. Claws and Stinger.  As mentioned previously on this blog, I'm a big softie when it comes to critters.  (And Tony is no better.)  We are both willing to stomp a cockroach, but other than that, we feel guilty killing something unnecessarily.   This guy needed to be removed, but no one wanted him dead.  And it's not like we could have just sucked him up with the Dyson.

The decision was made to relocate him outside.  The only issue- do these things scurry?  Was it going to sit nicely, understanding we were saving its creepy life?  Or was it going to attack?  We hedged our bets and decided to sweep it up and throw it outside.  (I'm now videotaping and holding Coralynn.  She was way more into close up views of Mr. C&S  than Tony felt safe.)


Overall, the process went well.  With the exception of him puffing himself him, Mr. C&S was rather cooperative.  He nicely flew over the front balcony after we made sure no one was below.  At one point in the video, you can hear the Bits cry.  She didn't much care for the scorpion's claw display.

The good news of the morning?  My weight was exactly where I wanted it.  No obsessing necessary!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Fruity Friday!

Another expensive trip to the grocery store!

$5.95 for 1/2 pound!  Good thing they don't celebrate the 4th of July!