Friday, September 30, 2011

Funsy Friday!!

In honor of my upcoming birthday (and birthday shopping!), I decided to purge my closets of all the extra stuff.  I just did this 6 months ago, but now I know what I want to wear.  Being in summer clothes for the next 3 years changes my perspective.  I am not a big fan of summer clothes, so I got rid of everything I didn't love. 



(I know it doesn't look like much, but it was.)



My Lovely Assistant:

All the Excess:

I had some more time so I decided to go through jewelry boxes.  This is what the maid took home with her that I didn't want anymore:

 Apparently my purse needed purged, too:

And the Lovely Assistant was up to the Challenge!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Do You See What I See?

I am very excited.  I have had high hopes before, but they have never come to fruition.  Could this be the time?  Could it really be happening? 

Could Coralynn Mae be LEFT handed??

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wednesday 7!

Time for praising!!

~My kitchen is officially completely painted!  And Tony wants to keep painting!  The bedroom is the last room on the docket!

~I had a wonderful coffee date with a new friend in Panama!  Y'all know I'm don't use that term (friend) lightly, and I am beyond blessed to add her name!

~Yesterday, I said way too much to someone.  (That is not the praise.)  I immediately felt terrible and contacted her to clarify/apologize/backtrack.  I'm so thankful that she had heard my heart and not my words!

~Chloe had a good weekend.  It started out very difficultly, but it improved.  She took some very brave steps Sunday morning.  She's just an awesome kid!

~Tony was able to find a babysitter for the kids this weekend so he and I can go out alone for my pre-birthday celebration.  Yay for dinner and shopping without the kids!  And double yay for him calling to find someone!!  (Now start praying that no one gets sick before Saturday night!)

~I got a text message Monday afternoon from someone here in Panama who needed me to do something for her.  She needed a favor.  And I was able to do it.  Being able to be helpful makes me happy!

~Carson and Camilla are having a playdate at our house this afternoon.  Yay for making friends!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Day in the Life

The sweet Coralynn Mae.  The baby of the family.  The Bestest.  The Bits.  This sweet child is a nightmare, albeit a cute and pleasant nightmare.  I thought I had seen what was out there as far as raising toddlers.  This is my 4th go-around.  I was wrong.  As Tony commented last night, we finally got one of those into-everything children.  And because she's the baby, we take pictures of it instead of getting ourselves all worked up.

Camilla and I were working on homework yesterday before returning to school to get the big kids.  I turned around to see this white, floury mess.  She had gone through the trash can and discovered the treasure of a little more flour left in the bag.  She was quite pleased with herself.

Later on last night, I heard Camilla calling for me while she was in the shower.  I assumed she needed help with the shampoo.  No.  Coralynn had managed to crawl up into the girls' sink and was happily sitting in there playing in the water with their toothbrushes.  Of course she was.  Why wouldn't she be?  I think we might need to change her nickname from Bits to Monster.  Or Monster Bits?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Money Monday

A Bit of  Business~

Grocery Budget Update:  I am pleased to report that this month is over, as far as grocery shopping goes.  I shop on Fridays.  Next Friday is September 30, or the last business day of the month.  My budget will start over that day.  Our total for September.....$577.37.  That, my friends, is total victory.  Definitely over the $550 goal, but so doable.  We have made the decision to up the budget to $600 for October.  Why?  Because Tony wants yogurt.  And if the guy who makes the money wants yogurt, we add yogurt money to the budget!

House Fund:  The September numbers are not completely finalized because the family CFO hasn't ok'd them, but it appears that we were able to put 137% of our housing goal aside this month.  God is too good to us, and we continue to look for ways to use His money the ways He would have.

 New Money Stuff~

Three months from today, Christmas will be over.  Pretty crazy.  Normally by now, I have the bulk of my shopping done, and I am waiting for those really great deals stores offer the few weeks before Christmas.   Currently, I have not a single Christmas present purchased.  I think I'm going to mostly pass on it this year.  And, there's more. 

I'm asking everyone who buys us Christmas presents to skip it this year.  That's what I want for Christmas.  I want you to take the money you would normally spend on my family, and give it away this Christmas.  Give it to someone in need, because we certainly have enough.  You can pick an Angel Tree child (or 4!).   You can give the money to a local food bank.  You can serve at a soup kitchen instead of taking the time to look for presents.   You can put it all in the Salvation Army containers.  You can purchase livestock or schooling through Samaritan’s Purse.  It doesn't really matter to me.  As long as it doesn't come to us.  And it's given in love.

My family has been blessed beyond measure.  We need no more stuff.  We know you love us so we don't need the gifts to prove it.  If you must do something for us, send us an email and tell us how you decided to spend "our" gifts.  Tell us how you blessed someone else.

Now I'm sure some of you are thinking that my kids are not going to be too happy.  They already have Christmas wish lists going.  Lists filled with LEGOs and Princesses and Electronics galore.  I will have one item under the tree for each of them.  I still want the smiles and bright eyes of Christmas morning.   But they don't need all the stuff for that.  They don't need dozens of presents to know the magic of Christmas morning.  They will be surrounded by people who love them and whom they love. 

I have no doubt that the kids know the true meaning of Christmas- the gift of Christ.  This isn't about artificially returning the focus to Christ.  Our every day- every breath- needs to be lived in gratitude and worship of that eternal Gift.  This is about quieting the noise of stuff and allowing the joy of contentment to speak to our souls.  About experiencing the blessing of seeing those in need receive what would have been mere excess to us.   This is about training children, and adults, to know that people and time and love are of far greater value and far shorter supply than anything that could possibly fit under a tree.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Funsy Friday!!

People have been asking for too long to see pictures of the apartment.  Today, I have the first installment for you.  This is the front door, main living space, and dining room.  Enjoy!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Not-funsy today!

What do you notice in these pictures?

Or maybe, what don't you see?

Fun times in Panama.  We have no water.

We could definitely have bigger issues, but this one is defintiely a pain!

Thoughts from Thursday


(I am a big follower of caringbrige pages and similiar blogs.  My heart is touched deeply by the words from the moms and other caregivers of sick children who fight valiantly against overwhelming odds.  Starting last week, I'll be sharing some of their words that have reached within me.  Take a minute, and read their stories.  I know they would appreciate your time and prayers.)

So, with a beautiful fall day ahead, I am grateful this morning for all the paths God has placed us upon.  Had I been able to see too far ahead of any which one, I surely may have run the other direction.  Yet, I'm thankful for just enough light to see barely to put one step in front of the other on this winding path --- we would have never wanted to miss all the wonder that came with crossing each of yours...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Weekly 7!

Let's start praising!!

~Coralynn seems to be taking greater strides toward verbal communication.  She consistently says: night-night, bow-wow-wow (for her stuffed puppy), mamma, dada, more, that, book, ball. 

~One of our household helpers is going to start coming on Wednesday mornings.  She works for another family in the afternoons, but I'm super thankful to have another 1/2 day of help!

~We were invited to a sweet family's house for dinner Friday night.  It was a really good time, and whenever 7 kids can play nicely together, it's a blessing from above!

~My kitchen is mostly painted.  It needs another coat to be complete, but I appreciate Tony getting the first two coats done.  The orange really brightens up the room!

~We have finally gotten in the routine of school.  Homework is getting done.  Grades are improving.  Chores are accomplished.  And I'm not having to run back and forth to the school with/for forgotten items!

~My birthday is 2 weeks from today.  I'm still a little kid at heart, and I love celebrating my birthday!

~I really enjoyed the Sunday school time on Sunday.  I wasn't actually in SS, but it was a well spent 90 minutes.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Here are 2 out of 4 reasons I'm one very blessed mommy!

Camilla Rose

I turned the corner yesterday to see "The PE Statue of Liberty."  I mean really.  How can you resist that?

Coralynn Mae

When I got home from the school today, I heard "Mamma.  Mamma." as I walked in the door.  In the picture, she's saying "Night night." 
Talking Bits = Happy Mommy.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Money Monday!

Today we are 63% of the way through the month.  (Am I the only person who thinks September is going much faster than August?)  I've used 61% of my grocery budget so we seem to be on track for a much more successful month than August was. 

We did hit a budgetary speed bump this weekend.  Tony's beast of a vehicle has been having some issues so he took it to the dealership.  The first estimate was right around $5000.  Yikes!  After a further explanation that we didn't need everything dealt with, the total dropped to $880.  A much happier number!  When picking up the car (with our language trainer for assistance), Tony discovered the work we'd had done months ago was never actually done- though the check was actually cashed.  Now, we get to try to get our money back.  Stay tuned to see if we ever receive our $660...

From 4th grade budget land,, Chloe told me that her whole class has to pay rent for each of their desks.  Rent is $1.10 a week.  (And that's without an ocean view!)  I asked her how they pay for the rent.  She explained that they each have a job that pays $1.50 a week.  Last week, they had an auction of lost things.  Chloe won back her pencil for .05, but she said some other kids got in a bidding war and spent $2.00 on a glue stick.  (She thought that to be an extravagant purchase.)  There is also a store that sells treasures untold.  She's .40 a way from the item she wants, but not being prepared in class also costs you.  I believe there are a couple of ways to make some extra income outside of her 7:40-3:00 job. She's hoping to earn enough to make the big purchase soon.  There are several grown-up life lessons in all of this. 

1.  Rent/mortgage that totals more than 73% of your income makes it VERY difficult to live.
2.  Know exactly what you need and how much you want to pay for something.  Don't let emotions carry you into an unnecessary, expensive purchase.
3.  Carelessness has financial consequences.
4.  Set a goal and work toward it. 

I'll definitely let you know if/when she earns enough for her big purchase...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Funsy Friday!

Apparently, Tony has swiped the kids' candy one too many times...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

180 days.

Today's our anniversary.  6 months.  March 15th, we moved to Panama.  It seems like a lifetime ago.  It feels like yesterday.  So much has happened in those 6 months that I couldn't possibly mention all the highlights.  (or the lows)

Since I've moved to Panama, I've learned...

From Camilla:
~there were such things as limes and peppers.
~that I didn't know very much Spanish.

From Carson:
~that I didn't know very much Spanish.
~that I like more foods than I thought I did.

From Chloe:
~to be thankful for what you have.
~to stand up for what's right.

From Lisa:
~that "the experts" don't know my family so their advice only carries so far.
~that finding the positive makes the negative bearable.

From Tony:
~that learning Spanish is harder than I thought it would be.
~it only takes a few months to get in a routine and feel at home.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Weekly 7!

~Parent-teacher conferences went really well.  I was pleased by how insightful they were.  The kids are all doing well! 

~Camilla's face is recovering nicely from her fall!

~Bible study last week was awesome!

~Chloe continues to make huge strides socailly and academically.  She seems to have her feet under her!

~I think, just maybe, that I've broken through my Spanish mental block.  Training Tuesday was the best one ever.  I still can't say anything overly useful, but at least I'm trying!

~NFL is available in Panama.  In English.  We're happy people!

~Although Tony's car is in the shop, we are blessed that one of our friend's is willing to give Tony a ride to and from work!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Truth from Tuesday...

If I've learned anything over the course of her life its this...nothing is guaranteed and the moments we have can never be recovered once they are spent. Live... as if there will never be another. Pause...allow the beauty of those who surround you to soak into your soul. Breathe...a prayer of gratitude for all you are given. Pray...for those who are lost and hurting and missing what gifts they have yet to open blinded by circumstance.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Money Monday! Mid-month edition!

Operation September Grocery Budget is 40% complete, and it appears to be going much better.  We set this month's budget at $550.  (In the name of full disclosure, we decided to take out some extra money to get some staples back in the pantry because we had NOTHING in July when we went to the States for 2 weeks.)  Currently, I have spent $372.67 or 32%.  That is so much better than we were last month.

I decided that the one large grocery trip was not going to work for us because the large initial expenditure makes it virtually impossible to compensate for monthly ebb and flow.  (Remember: budgets are alive.  They need to be changed, updated, and worked.)  The weekly trips allow me to know how life is going before I invest in the groceries.  The issue with this is the recurrent opportunity to impulse buy.  I've discovered a new weakness- the rotisserie chicken.

It seems innocent enough, the rotisserie chicken, sitting on the warming shelf.  But that smell.  That yummy smoky juicy smell that wafts through the whole building.  I seem to be incapable of resisting them.  And you know, they are conveniently located by the checkouts.  I've decided to allow myself this indulgence for 2 reasons.

1.  Rotisserie chickens are MUCH cheaper than little girls' dresses- my original obsession.

2.  After I'm done with the chicken, I've been boiling it for stock.  So, the $4.79 chicken makes at least two lunches for the Bits and me and about 4 cups of stock.  In my mind, that's a good deal. 
(No comments bursting my bubble allowed.)

The other exciting money news this week is that Chloe's 4th grade class is currently working on budgeting as part of their math curriculum.  I am thrilled. 

(Quick aside: I love Chloe's teacher.  I know I mention that about every other Weekly 7, but I love her.  She's a godly teacher who gets that education is more than what any standardized test could measure.  I loved my 4th grade teacher, and I love Chloe's 4th grade teacher.  Is it just a thing about 4th grade teachers?  Aside over.)

Kids have been learning money math forever in school.  Why hasn't budgeting been taught alongside it?   And 4th grade is perfect because kids understand the concept of money and the stuff they want is no longer found at the Dollar Tree.  You know that if your kid's teacher says something it's gospel.  Regardless if the child understood correctly or not.  (In K, Chloe came home convinced Adam and Eve came to the US on the Mayflower.  We could NOT convince her otherwise.)  So, if we could train up a generation of kids who understand stewardship, can you imagine the difference in this world?

Chloe, her Daddy's daughter, has always been fiscally conservative.  We call her Dave Ramsey Junior, or just Junior, for short.  To be totally honest, she's a drag to take shopping because she questions every purchase.  "Mom, don't you have enough purses."  "Dad, you really feel like DSW is a store we need to go in?"  The last time she had money she asked if we could go shopping.  She bought a clip lamp for her bed.  How very practical.

 She has been diligently working on her budget.  They have $1000 to plan an imaginary birthday party.  (Maybe not completely practical, but it makes the math easier for 4th graders.)  Carson found out this weekend that she had cut him off the birthday party list for lack of funds.  I was teasing him about it until Chloe informed me I was the one staying home with him.  How very practical of her.

As we head toward the middle of September, I encourage you to get your budget in order.  What better time to recommit to financial health than during the calm before the storm of the upcoming holidays?  And for those who think the idea of a budget is too scary, remember that although your finances might be more complicated, budgeting itself is doable for a 4th grader.  And for you. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

We remember...

Prayers on this 10th Anniversary of September 11th.

Freedom is priceless, but we are so grateful for the price so many have paid to allow us the freedoms we enjoy.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Funsy Friday!

First of all let me say "Hi" to the MSM followers who are visiting here.  It was great to have an opportunity to guest blog on that awesome site!  (For those of my regulars who missed it:  PanaMOM's guest post

Down to our Funsy Friday business.  We had some very exciting news on the weekend that I've been waiting to have the opportunity to share.  After 7.5 difficult years of persistence and patience, Carson finally lost his first tooth!!!

(Not the best picture I know, but it kind of grosses me out.)

What makes this whole experience more exciting is that Chloe played an integral role in the experience.  Chloe, AKA The Extractor, pulled the tooth for him.  He really wanted to do it by himself, but his total lack of patience got to be too much.  At 7:30, last Saturday morning, I was awoken by two very happy kids announcing the Chloe pulled Carson's first loose tooth.  (If you are keeping count, this is the 4th person that has lost a tooth via The Extractor, Chloe.  If she can get through 4th grade, she's on her way to dental school!)  The tooth fairy, understocked for times such as this, left Carson a note telling him that he could get the candy bar of his choice.  Carson happily indulged in a Hershey's bar.

Yesterday, I was telling my language trainer about the incident.  She looked at me like I was crazy.  (Normally, I'm looking at her like she's crazy because I have no idea what she's saying.)   Come to find out that the tooth fairy doesn't come to Panama.  No fairies come to Panama.  So who rescues kids' lost teeth from under their pillows in Panama?
You're going to want to hold on for this one...
This may not be suitable for an American audience...
Yes, my friends, Panamanian children wait excitedly to see what el raton de los dientes brings them.  (Forgive the missing accent marks.  I can't figure that out.)  The Tooth Rat??  My langugage trainer corrects my Spanish. It is mouse.  Whatever.  It's a rodent.  Ratoncito Miguel, the Tooth Mouse, brings them treats. 

I couldn't believe what I was hearing.  Children put their teeth under the pillow and then a mouse scurries under there to grab the tooth and leave gifts.  A mouse?  Under a child's pillow?  Panamanian children must have the best dental hygiene on earth.

This is one of those times that you can stand in object horror at the thought of children being taught such things, or you can laugh at how absurd a fat man stuffing himself down a chimney must sound to the rest of the world.  (For the record, Baby Jesus brings the presents in Panama.)

So, tonight, as you insist that your kids brush their teeth before bed, you might let them know that the Tooth Mouse is waiting for their lost teeth.  Brush well, my friends!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Day Late,

and $95.00 short.  Here are our weekly praises!

~The total cost for the doctor's appointment and x-rays was only $95.00.  All things being equal that's a pretty good price.

~Camilla is fine.  She could have a whole list of fractures and hematomas that are far worse than her black eye.

~We live somewhere with good medical care.  Our American selves might have trouble with it not being American, but it is definitely good care.

~Even though the traffic here is insane, we are some place that has good roads.  Getting to the nearest hospital could have been far worse than dealing with traffic.

~Yes, Coralynn was a nightmare for the 4 hours we were gone, but that's because she's a healthy 15 month old.  She needs to want to move around and explore.  I'm thankful I have a sweet nightmare of a Bits to "deal" with.

~Although I struggled with the language barrier, I did understand some of it, and I had the courage to try.  5 months ago, I would never have had the gumption to do this by myself. 

~Fortunately, I didn't have any plans outside going to the grocery store.  I'm blessed to be able to be a stay-at-home mom.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Not exactly our weekly 7...

My apologies that this is very late today.  We've had a different kind of day, but the praises are there to be had.

7:00am- Tony and the big kids head to school and work.
7:01am- I head back to bed with my laptop.
7:40am- School is starting.
7:41am- School nurse calls.  Camilla has fallen on her face.  The nurse is letting me know.  I tell her to let Camilla calm down and send her to her class.
7:42am- I decide to get in the shower.
7:42:25am- The nurse calls.  She thinks a bone is broken.  (This is the same face that has the nose on it that Camilla broke in July.)
7:43am- Abandon plans to take a shower.  Get the Bits out of bed.  Grab a sippy cup of milk and a package of goldfish crackers. 
8:00am- In the car heading to the school.
8:25am- Teach Coralynn new words as my frustration grows with the traffic in the neighborhood.
8:35am- Regain my composure after enduring what is normally a 15 minute drive to the school.
8:36am- Walking into the nurses office.   Camilla bursts into tears.   She looks like she's been in a fight and lost.

She's crying because she doesn't want anyone on the blog to see her like this!  I assured her everyone would be praying!

8:45am- Touch base with Tony.  Decide to forego the school's insurance in favor of using the doctor and hospital we recognize. 
8:46am-  Head to the hospital/doctor's office.  The office doesn't open for 45 minutes, but I have no idea on the traffic.
9:13am- Arrive at the hospital.  Have no idea where the traffic went.  No problems at all.
9:30am- Get a call from Tony.  Camilla has an appointment.  At 10:30.
9:30am-  Walk around the hospital complex trying to keep Coralynn happy.
9:31am- Coralynn is over waiting.
10:20am- Head up to the doctor's office.  Coralynn is happily into everything. 
10:22am- Fill out new patient forms.  In Spanish.  Google translate isn't working on my phone.  I may have put her up for adoption.
10:30am- Camilla goes in with the doctor.  I tell the doctor that Camilla broke her nose in July.  Doctor asks me if the child is accident prone.  Fight the urge to say, "No.  I just push her down." while rolling my eyes.
11:00am- Leave the office with antibiotics, a prescription, and x-ray orders.
11:02am- Arrive in radiology.  Experience fun with language barrier (again)
11:!5am- Go pay for the x-rays so they will see her.
11:16am- Back from paying.  Find a chair.
11:30am- Go back for the x-rays.  Neither the tech or doctor speak any English (more fun)
11:50am- 3 films of x-rays complete.  Wait.  Not sure why.
11:55am- Coralynn is D.O.N.E. with this experience.  Leave radiology with x-rays in hand.  No idea what I'm supposed to do with them.
11:57am- Head back up to the doctor's office to find out the results of the x-ray.  Receptionist says, in Spanish, that the doctor is gone until 3.  My pride in understanding her is quickly overshadowed by my exhaustion.
11:59am- Call Tony.  Have him call the doctor.
12:00pm- Go to pharmacy to get prescription filled.
12:13pm- Pharmacy is out of what we need.  Determine Neosporin will suffice.
12:14pm- Go to car.  Start heading out of parking garage.
12:15pm- Coralynn is asleep.  Parking toll is $6.00.
12:20pm- Tony calls. Doctor doesn't need x-ray film.  Relief.
12:42pm- Arrive 12 minutes late to get Chloe.  Everyone knows what's gone down.  Much relief from all.
1:00pm- Finally home.  Lay Coralynn down for a nap.  Make lunch for the big girls.  Answer the 3 skype messages from concerned people.
1:32pm- Head to the showers.  Chloe wants help with her book report.  Begin to think stink is my new bff.
1:45pm- Finish helping Chloe, for now, because Libby has skyped.  Head to the shower.
1:46pm- Coralynn is awake.  Get her out of bed and get her lunch. 
2:00pm- Determined to shower. 
2:12pm- Finally clean.  Decide to get as much done as possible so I'm not overwhelmed tomorrow.
2:15pm- Saute peppers and onion.  Assemble meatloaf muffins.  Get them in the fridge.
2:40pm- Load the dishwasher.
2:45pm- Head to the school to get Carson from basketball practice.
3:15pm- Get Carson started on homework.  Get Camilla doing something other than asking me what she can do.
3:55pm- Put the Bits down for another nap.
3:58pm- Put meatloaf muffins in the oven.  Start peeling and boiling potatoes for mashed potatoes.
4:20pm-  Help Chloe with book report, oral presentation, and art that is due tomorrow.
4:59pm- Tony lets me know the doctor is only calling if something is broken.  Taking no news to be good news.
5:00pm- Assemble mashed potatoes while explaining commas to my eldest.
5:05pm- Get dinner for the Middles.  Type up a cover letter with Chloe while eating dinner.
5:30pm- Send Chloe to get changed.  Convince the Middles that this is their last opportunity to eat.
5:35pm- Make dinner plates for Tony and Coralynn.  Put the rest of the leftovers up.
5:45pm- Wake up the Bits.  Head to the church for Chloe's first night of CrossWalk.  Bits screaming because she wants to be asleep.
5:55pm-  Get to church (again.)  Bits still screaming.  Chloe wants me to walk her in.
5:56pm- Start walking in.  Group of kids yells for Chloe to come play with them.  Warm feeling in my heart that makes the chaos of the day well worth it.
5:58pm- Head home.  Bits is screaming.
6:10pm-  Get screaming Coralynn into apartment and calmed down.
6:35pm-  Send the Middles to seperate showers.  Convince Coralynn to eat.
6:37pm- Send Carson back to the shower because he couldn't possibly be clean.
6:39pm- Decide loads of chores will convince Carson to shower longer next time.  Have him start rinsing dishes.
7:00pm- Set Camilla up with load 2 of laundry for the day.  Have Carson clean up the dining room.  Start loading the dishwasher.  Keep Coralynn from undoing everyone's work.
7:15pm- Give Camilla her antibiotic.  She spits it all out.  Decide that this isn't a battle I care to fight tonight.
7:20pm- House is clean.  Dishwasher is running.  Dryer is running.  Kids are running.  I'm one with the sofa.
7:30pm- Call Tony to make sure he is at church to get Chloe.
7:31pm- Confident I don't have to go to the school/church again, I put the 3 youngest in bed with books.
7:32pm- Officially go off duty.   Hope Tony has the strength to finish out the day.
7:50pm- Back on duty.  Chloe is home and excited about her evening.  Tells me she has had two brownies and cotton candy.  Listen to her excitement while encouraging bathing.
7:53pm- Feeling good about the blessings of the day, but too exhausted to type it all out.  So thankful that y'all understand.  Tomorrow is another day.  The praises will still be there in the morning.  As well as the new ones.  Sweet dreams.  I'm done.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Money Monday!

When we lived in the States, Tony always had Labor Day off of work.  Our tradition- using that term loosely- was to go shopping together.  We would load up everyone and hit Auburn or Columbus and enjoy the day together.  Here in Panama, there is no Labor Day today so the kids are at school, and Tony is at work.

In honor of our fallen holiday, I thought I would share with you some of my favorite purchases ever.

Extra Silverware!!

Now this might seem really silly to you, but we were always running out of spoons.  I have no idea where they all went- I speculated they had run off with the missing sock from the dryer- but there were often fights in the morning about spoons.  When we moved to Panama, I went to the warehouse store and purchased restaurants packs of spoons and forks.  I can happily report that no one is ever in need of a spoon or fork.  And, if the kids accidentally throw one away with their lunch, it isn't a big deal! 

The Ninja!

If you didn't know this about me already, I am an informercial junkie.  I've never purchased from them (unless you count QVC), but I love watching.  I had fallen in love with the Ninja, but couldn't bring myself to pay all the shipping and handling the commericals charge.  Tony and I were Christmas shopping at Kohl's two years ago and found the Ninja.  No shipping and handling and a 30% off coupon convinced us to try it.  I love it!!  Beside my Kitchenaid Mixer, it gets the most use of any kitchen gadget.  I'm hoping Santa gets me the upgraded one for Christmas!!

My laptop computer!
(I'm skyping with Chloe's bff who is very frustrated that Chloe is at school on Labor Day!)

This computer was a TOTAL impulse buy.  We made the mistake of running out of groceries on Black Friday last year.  I thought (like a fool) that the crowds and sales would be gone after 1:00.  Well, the crowds were minimal, but that meant lots of the deals were still running.  We ended up buying 2- mp3 players, the laptop, the FLIP camera, a wireless printer, and a stack of flash drives.  It was our only Black Friday shopping trip ever, but we have never had a more productive trip.  Our move to Panama would have been more of a nightmare without the laptop!  (I feel confident that our next trip to the States will include additional ipad/laptop shopping!)

What are some of your best purchases ever?  What items get the most use in your house?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

For the record...

I just wanted to update y'all on some of the recent happenings from recent blog posts.

From Organized and Rewarded, I wanted to let you know that all three kids have earned their stars 2 week in a row.  Tony determined that each child should receive a Mulligan, and they have each used one.  I'm afraid it is unlikely that they will all earn this week's, but we will see.

From Life Verse, I am happy to report that things have improved for Chloe and school.  A new outlook has allowed her to regain some control in the situation. We decided on a three-tier plan.  1.)  Chloe needs to be friendly.  2.)  We are praying that the mean girls' hurt would be healed.  3.)  Chloe would trust in Jesus for friendship because people will disappoint.   She now claims to have two 4th grade friends- one of whom invited her over for a play date.  The power of prayer never ceases to amaze me.  A Happy Update!!

From Sitting Around on a Tuesday Afternoon, Carson had an enjoyable, non-remarkable basketball game; however, the coaching staff determined that the younger kids are just too young to play against middle schoolers.  They will now all be on the practice squad.  This, obviously, is absolutely the right decision.  As my dad has been saying, "Even Michael Jordan couldn't play against junior highers when he was in 2nd grade."  Such wisdom.  Carson took the news fairly well, and he continues to look forward to basketball practice.

From Looking for Advice, I heard back from an awesome lady in Georgia who let me know that Coralynn is within the "normal" range, but also gave me some useful suggestions.  In just a few days, the Bits has added a few words and a couple of signs.  I'm very much relieved!  Thank you MB for giving me such great advice, and thanks to the other MB for alerting MB of my need!

From Funsy Friday, there apparently is something to this Spanish-makes-me-sick thing because Camilla ended up having to stay home from school on Friday.  She was dizzy and nauseous.  Shows me for laughing!

And finally,

From Intentional Acts of Appreciation, I've heard back from a few people who took me up on my Labor Day Challenge of Gratitude.  I hope many of you decided to join us.  If you would like to share, I would love to post your story here on the blog.  Feel free to email me at to share either your story of gratitude or the story of telling the other person "thank you!"  I'd love to celebrate with you!!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Intentional Acts of Appreciation

6+ years ago, I was a young mom of 2 small children.  One of those kids was chronically ill and miserable.  Tony was working fulltime for the same company he does today, and he was going to school to earn his MBA.  I was stressed and lonely.  It was a really hard time.  One of those times that you realize at the time that it's hard.

My sweet sick child cried constantly.  We were waiting for the ENT to have an opening so we could get this poor child ear tubes.  The child had been sick since February of 2005.  I remember the doctor's office let me pick which antibiotic to use because we all knew none of them were going to help.  And the child cried.  And cried.  And clung to me.  With Tony seemingly always gone, the child wasn't used to him.  So, I held the child.  All the time.

I remember feeling like I was hitting my breaking point.  I remember calling what felt like everyone I knew looking for someone to do something with.  The walls were closing in on me.  I will never forget one Friday night.  I was near desperate for adult interaction.  I called someone I didn't consider a close friend (or really much more than an acquitance) because I knew her husband wasn't home.  I asked if she would like to get together.  She said no.  She had to shop for a comforter.  I hung up the phone and sobbed.  I was coming unglued, and she needed a comforter.  Fair enough.

We always went to church- with or without Tony.  Every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night.  And I always got called down to the nursery.  The workers were kind, but could not get sweet sick child to stop crying.  It was too much for them.  I understood, but wanted to cry, too.  Was I ever going to get a break?  And then, one Wednesday night, I did.

A sweet sweet mom came up to me.  We were friendly, but not particularly close.  No ill will, just not a lot of interaction.  You know those types of relationships.  She is a few years younger than I am.  I was standing in the foyer of the church, and sweet sick child was sobbing.  I was crying, too.  I will never forget.  She came up to me and asked if she could hold the child.  I explained that the crying wasn't going to stop.  She sweetly told me that if the child was going to cry regardless that she would be happy to take a turn so that I could have a break from it.  And she took the baby.  And went outside and sang.  And the crying continued.  Some from the baby, but a lot from me. 

I don't think I realized at the time the impact that act of kindness was going to have on me.  I'm quite certain she didn't think a thing of it.  She likely doesn't even remember, but I do.  I remember feeling like Jesus himself had come down and taken that baby from me.   I remember breathing.  Deeply.  For the first time in months. 

It changed me, and I've told lots of people that story.  It occurred to me today, however, that I'm not sure I ever told her how thankful I was.  So, today, I'm telling her thank you.  I'm not going to type her name for the entire world to see, because I'm quite certain she wouldn't want that.  But I'll make sure she sees this.  And knows how very very thankful I was for her kindness.

And now I encourage you.  I encourage you to tell someone thank you.  Too much time has not passed.  The thank you will still be appreciated.  It should never feel like going out on a limb to show gratitude.  (And I encourage you to say yes to helping someone. To kindness. You just never know how much that person might need to take a deep breath.)

Funsy Friday- email edition!!

Actual email I received from the school:

Carson and Camilla have both been in to see me today. They are both fine.

Carson came this morning after he fell on the playgound and had a mild abrasion on his right hip area. He just came back again during recess after he fell and scraped up both knees.

Camilla came after lunch complaining of a headache. She said she felt that there were too many spanish words getting in her head and giving her a headache! I guess she was feeling a little overwhelmed with it. I let her rest and have a break for a few minutes and she went back to class.

Hope the rest of their day is better.
 [school nrse]

What can I say?  Spanish is bad for your health.