Showing posts from January, 2012

So Talented.

You have to make sure you're on the right page of the magazine before you begin playing!

Play us a song, you're the Piano Bits!

Money Monday!!

I am so excited.  Seriously excited.  Jumping up and down excited!  Why?  Because I did it.  I did the seemingly impossible.  Well, the seemingly impossible for me!

I made it an ENTIRE month without a single non-necessary non-food purchase.  Coralynn lost one of her flip-flops so I bought her a replacement pair.   And she needed a pair of sandals.  And that $5.35 was all I spent.   Woohoo!  Sweet victory for the budget.

And here's the coolest thing.  Not spending money feels awesome.  I'm well versed in the adrenaline feeling from shopping, but I had no idea how awesome the non-spending hormones feel.  (Remember:  I've always been thrifty.)  And it gets better.  Not shopping makes me want to not shop some more.  And everyone can afford NOT shopping!

This month we had 2 doctor's appointments, an ER trip, and car work done, but we're still under budget.  *clap clap*  We said "no" to all kinds of little things that we didn't need.  We even said "no&…



A few little updates...

Princess Bits under her umbrella.
The beautiful Pacific coast.
Surfer Girl.

The Crew preparing to Surf.

We got back from the beach later than I expected last night (yay for a wonderful time), so all we managed to do was make dinner, get showers, and collapse into bed.

Instead of doing a our weekly sorting sessions, we decided to catch up on one of our other goals for the year.  We committed, as a family, to pray for every nation this year.  We were a few days behind so Tony and Chloe took some of the countries, and the little kids and I did a few.  We've now prayed for 29 countries.  It's been really neat to watch the kids' interest in other nations grow while also learning to pray beyond themselves and their own needs.  We'd love for you to join us in this goal.  Check out Operation World for more information!

As for the coconut oil saga, I finished the next step.  It required me to cut, blend, and puree the coconut.  Then, I poured it into a sealed container to ferment un…

Headed to the beach...

I'll update Sort Report and Adventures in Homemade Coconut Oil when we get back.  Happy Saturday!

Day One- Part 2

After a miserable trip to the pediatrician's office (Bits is fine, we just had to wait a very long time), I was more than ready to break open the coconut.  I found it quite cathartic.

I've spent the past hour trying to release the meat from the coconut shell.  I found the task much more enjoyable with some 80s Classics in the background.  Because, really, girls just wanna have fun!
1/3 of the coconut is done!

Funsy Friday- Day One!

I've been reading about the health benefits of coconut oil, so I wanted to give it a try.  Unfortunately, coconut oil is not easily found here, and when I did find it, it was very expensive.  (About twice the price of in the US).

Since I'm in Panama and can easily find coconuts, I decided I was going to make it from scratch using this recipe.   It's a 5-day process, but we're going to give it a try!

Day One:

(well actually yesterday, Day One Eve) I asked my language trainer, Melody, to pick up some coconuts for me because she has a produce vendor living near to her house. 

Cost of 2 coconuts: $1
This morning's mission was to get the things open.  I was a little concerned when Melody started laughing at the thought of me trying to open the fruit, but after a google search, I came up with my plan of attack.

Power Drill!
It became very clear very quickly that power drill wasn't the way to go.  Five more minutes of googling came up with plan B.
Hammer and Nail!
The new…

Praises from Panama!

~In spite of everyone else in the family getting the stomach bug, I did not get sick!

~Tony felt well enough by Friday to enjoy his vacation day!

~Chloe seems to be doing really well with the social aspects of school.  She struggled with this for most of the first semester, so I'm pleased that things are definitely improving!

~Skype!  I love skype!  (I'm still have serious internet issues from 12-6 everyday, so pray that those issues will be resolved soon!)

~Coralynn is trying to talk more.  Yesterday, she clearly said, "Lilla," for Camilla. She is still not talking as much as we would like, but there is some progress.

~Camilla's K-5 teacher resigned so she started this semester with a new teacher.  I'm quite pleased with the new teacher, and I think she's going to be very good for Camilla!

~The girls are friends with sisters, and the sisters' family has moved into our apartment complex.  The girls are so excited to have friends living so close!

Money Monday!

Since January is coming to a close, it is time to start planning our summer vacation.  What do you mean you haven't started planning yours?  Slacker!  This is the life of an ex-pat.  You start planning your vacation because you have to figure out how long you can afford to go (in your husband's vacation days and in the budget).  You try to figure out who you have to see and who will understand if you can't make it to them.  You decide how long you can stand living with someone else. 

And those are just the obvious questions.

We are looking at going to GA for two weeks and then to IL for 10 days.  Tony figured out what days worked for him.  I found out when VBS would be happening.  The days seemed doable.  This is going great!

Then, we started looking at rental cars.  Has anyone rented a minivan recently?  I'm thinking it would be cheaper to buy a used vehicle.

Then, we looked at airfare between ATL and the multiple Midwestern airports that would work.  Has anyone flow…

Sort Report!

Between the stomach virus and the aircast, the sort took a little different flare this week.

We decided instead of pulling more stuff out, we needed to get rid of the stuff we had.

Tony and I took a few hours on Friday morning and organized all the excess into three piles:  Keep for the next child, trash, donate.

Next, I called a friend who works with Curundu (an impoverished area in the city) and asked if she would be interested.  She said, "yes!"  We happily loaded up the stuff and brought it to her!

Heading to Mrs. Shirley's to drop off the donations!
There were a few extra items that hadn't been previously weighed or that were new to the sort.
This week's total:  50 pounds
Cumulative total:  133.5 pounds 

Funsy Friday!

Number of sick people:  5

Number of loads of laundry:  7

Number of people home from school and work: 4

Cost savings of no one eating:  $73.01

Cost of popsicles and saltines for sick people:  $6.82

Spending Thursday together as a family:  Pretty stinkin' (<-- the key word) valuable

Waking up Friday with me still not getting the virus:  Priceless!

Wednesday's Praises!

~Kids started back to school this week, and the adjustment was relatively painless!

~The people came to fix our master bedroom's leaking air conditioner so we no longer have it dripping all night long!

~We were able to attend our first Panamanian wedding.  It was gorgeous, and the kids behaved themselves!

~Coralynn is feeling better with an antibiotic for her ear infection!

~The beautiful blue skies and breezes during the dry season are making me feel like I'm on vacation!  And we are not missing the blustery Midwestern winter- or the drab Georgia winters!

~I got to spend yesterday floating in the pool with a friend.  It was nice to have grownup conversation!

~Tony gave me permission to stop using the crutches.  They were/are two inches too short, and they were killing my shoulders.  We decided to take the ankle injury over a shoulder injury.  I'm thrilled to not use them- still have the aircast on!

Money Monday!

It's said that pride goes before a fall.  My series of events was a little different.

8 days ago, I sprained my ankle while getting out of the van snow skiing. 

It felt better by the next day, so I didn't think much of it. 

I went to the grocery store like normal on Thursday and did GREAT.  I had only spent 65% of the grocery budget!

The girls and I decided to run a few errands on Saturday morning.   We got everything we needed, and  I was thrilled that I was able to buy Coralynn a new booster seat- one with straps- with the money I had left.

(She was less than thrilled with being unable to climb out of her seat)

By the time we got home from the errands, my ankle was huge and ugly.

We had a wedding to attend so on the way there, we stopped at the local CVS-esque store (Arrocha), and I bought an Ace-esque bandage to wrap the ankle.

By the next morning, it was clear that we needed to head to the ER.

$244.00 later, I had been to the ER, had x-rays, consulted with an orthopedic, …

Saturday's Sort Report!!

Tony was concerned that we didn't have enough stuff to sort to be able to fill 30 minutes 3 times a week as part of the 30-minute give.  I think this week proved to both of us that I could be busy for several months on this plan.

Here are the results:

Monday morning I set the timer for 30 minutes and told the girls to attack their closet.  Chloe, who has very little clothing, had no problem getting through all of her things.  She then helped Camilla.  The two girls were unable to get through all of Camilla's wardrobe.  This is the pile they were able to create in 30 minutes with no help from me!  (and only 4 pieces were removed as ineligible for purging!)

Wednesday afternoon, the three oldest kids and I attacked the game closet.  I wanted it all done in one sitting so it did take us more than 30 minutes. (I'm counting this one event as 2 "gives.")  The kids did a great job and have happily played with the toys that are left.  Toys that they never played with when w…

Funsy Friday!

5 Fun Facts About Me (just so you know what you're dealing with):

1.  I hate bare feet. 

And people touching bare feet, or talking about touching bare feet, makes me sick to my stomach.  I sprained my ankle on Sunday, and normally, the huge bruise and swelling would be blog worthy, but there is no way a picture of a foot is going up!

Now I love some socky feet!
2.  I cry when I watch Track and Field. 
Live.  Or on television.  I cry. Sob like a baby.  The Summer Olympics just about do me in. I have no explanation for this. 
3.  I love my SpinBrush.
Love it.  I hate to floss, but the SpinBrush makes me feel like I'm doing ok without flossing.  (Don't burst my bubble, people.)  I love the fresh mouth feeling after using the SpinBrush.  I had my Mom bring one for Tony and Chloe in December because I love mine so much.  I would totally be the "Offical Blog of the SpinBrush"!  Any of you work for Arm and Hammer?  Contact me!

4.  I can't fall asleep if I'm n…

7 Praises!

~We had a fun dinner with friends Saturday night!

~Coralynn has recovered from croup!

~Carson has lost 2 more teeth!

~The kids are really enjoying the 30-minute cleaning purges!

~The church is running Bible Fun Club this week.  The kids have had a great time so far!

~I found out this weekend that we have a $30 credit at the apartment complex's restaurant!  Love free money!

~My helper is here today so I can finally rest my sprained ankle!

I'd love to hear your praises.  I've been a bit down in the dumps (post-holidays slump), and nothing helps that more than praises!

A Girl and Her Wow-Wow

Watching some Wiggles on a Tuesday morning!

Money Monday!

We were finally able to sit down and go through the December budget.  It wasn't too bad at all.

We were able to save 100% on the old housing plan, and 73% on the new savings goal.

However, we are getting rid of the old and the new goals.

Confused?  Me, too!

Tony and I have been doing a lot of praying, pondering, and talking (what's a p-word for talking?  hmm) about how we want to use our income going forward.

I've never been overly comfortable with our savings plan.  Although I am beyond thankful for the money, it seems too much to just save for us.  On the other hand, I don't want to be in a position of purchasing a home and accumulating mortgage debt when we return to the States.

A conundrum.

We went accountant on the issue!

We decided to get online and look at Coldwell Banker to see how home prices looked in our most-likely return location.  It was eye-opening.  The house bubble must not have burst too severely there!  We decided on an amount that we feel will provi…

The New Do!



The 30-minute give.

Just 30 minutes ago (before I started typing this post on Friday night), I posted on facebook that I was looking for something to organize. 


There's that word again.

I decided to purge through my closet.

In thirty minutes, I was able to go through my closet.  And my purse collection.  And take pictures.  And text Tony.  And upload pictures.  And get more ice tea/lemonade.  And check facebook.  And check my email.  And turn on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on FoodNetwork.

Although that isn't gobs of clothing, it is a fair amount.  Especially since I purge my closet with some regularity.  And it only took about 15 minutes.
Earlier in the week, Carson was getting very frustrated putting his clothes away because he didn't have enough room.  We decided to go through his closets and drawers.  Coralynn's things ended up getting a purge, too, because they share space.  Again, it took less than 30 minutes.

We ended up with another healthy pile of stuff in just about 25 m…

2012 Goals- Funsy Friday Version!

My list of goals that you likely won't find on many other people's lists:

~I will not bankrupt my family through consignment store purchases! (Promises- what a happy place!)

~I will not ride the 4th-grade-girl-drama roller coaster!

~I will not live in fear of getting stuck in traffic!

~I will not purchase PriceSmart's fried chicken combo more than once a month!  (even though I love it!)

~I will not be too old and tired to properly parent the Bits! (I am old, and she is so cute!)

~I will not, while eating chocolate peanut butter popcorn, complain about the state of my love handles!

~I will figure out how to set up a PO box or something similiar in Panama so I can receive mail!

~I will make a real attempt at learning the language!  (and I will not pout- for very long- when Tony learns faster than I do!)

~I will agree to go back to the beach even though the last trip almost did us in!

How about you?  Do you have any "only at my house" goals for the new year?

Wednesday's Blessings!!

So excited to share the many blessings of the past holiday weeks!!

~Happy Birthday to my Brother!   Yes, I know I've mentioned it before, but I happen to have the best big brother ever.  When I was a little kid, I remember thinking that he was the smartest person ever.  He graduated from high school as valedictorian, and then, I knew, for sure, he was the smartest person ever.  Instead of becoming a lawyer or doctor or those other "smart kid" professions, he chose to go to USC to major in Filmic Writing.  So the smartest person I knew became the bravest person I knew, too.  What better lesson can a 14-year-old girl learn than the importance of following your dreams instead of the dreams that society might have for you?  Happy Birthday, Tim!  I love you, big bro!

~We had a wonderful warm-weather Christmas with my parents, brother, and his wife.   Everyone enjoyed the resort feel of Panama, and we all truly relaxed and spent time together.  It was a blessed time.

~Tony had…

I've been mentally writing this post for weeks.

That's how I blog.  I ponder for hours.  Or days.  Sometimes it might be longer- weeks or months.  Some of the posts come as a stream of consciousness, but, generally, the ones I like best are the ones I ponder.  I have a series of blog posts waiting for me to hit "publish post."  For whatever reason, I've been unwilling to publish them.

I knew this post had to be written and published.  It defines me too much to ignore, but I'm not one to focus on these kinds of dates.  I thought about quoting myself, but is that wrong?  Too self-seeking?  That is certainly not my heart's desire.  I couldn't just ignore the time.  But how?  How do I make it all clear in a post when it isn't always clear in my heart.  And then today, the Lord gave me a glimpse.  A smile from eternity, and this post is now pouring out of my heart. 

What do you see when you look at these pictures?  I love pictures of my kids looking away from the camera.  I'm not sure why.  I know pa…

Money Monday!

Welcome to the first Money Monday of 2012!

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas season, and that you have survived reviewing the finances post Christmas!  We actually haven't looked at the budget in weeks, something I don't recommend, but I'm fairly confident all has not been lost.

Our no-presents Christmas was definitely different.  The kids each had a stocking with one candy item, one package of gum, and one can of soda.  (Coralynn was thrilled with her own can of Fresca!)  Then, they each had one present from the grandparents.  The entire experience took about 15 minutes, and that was because Coralynn insisted on "reading" the gift bag before she opened it.  I can remember one Christmas morning that baby Camilla had to take a nap during because it was so long!

(Carson in his Christmas present: John Reed shoes. John Reed wears the high-tops, but this is the Carson version of the John Reed shoes!)

After we opened presents, my brother and his wife had the kids cho…

God just issued a throwdown.

Not even a full day into 2012, and God's offered a challenge.  Decrease.  That's my word.  Someone contacted me (in one of the 12 ways possible, lol!), and I'm already regretting "decrease."  I'm thinking my word should have been self-absorbed.  That would be easier!  Or maybe it should have been 2012- have a phrase?  Then I could have gone with, "I don't wanna so I'm not gonna."  What do you think?  Can we do a selfish restart?  A New Year's Mulligan?  Ugg.  Here we go...

Lord, help grow me into the person You would have me be.  And give me Your strength to become that person.  And, if it's not too much, please send your Heavenly Duct Tape because I'm afraid I'm going to say something I shouldn't.  I do want this, Lord.  I want You to be glorified through me.  I just need Your help!!  Thanks, Lisa

Happy 2012 Y'all!!