Friday, March 29, 2013

Thursday and Friday

I have not been very good at keeping up with the daily blog post!  Sorry!  I also am working on the Forks Over Knives post that Karen and I were discussing in the comments section.  (Please, feel free to let me know your thoughts, too!)

Yesterday, we enjoyed a super fun time of bowling.  I love bowling.  I love watching the kids bowl.  Unfortunately, the lighting in the bowling alley is completely incompatible with photography.  I was able to snap this one classic for y'all:

Today, Good Friday, is a vacation day for Tony so we were able to hit the pool early.  We are very fortunate to have a gorgeous pool in our complex that definitely gives the vacation feel to visitors.  The kids also love having Grandma swim with them.
We decided to let Coralynn give a try with the water wings.  She was a success!
A very tired success!!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Sorry, I have been absent for a few days.  My mom has been here, and the kids and I have been enjoying some Grandma time.  Apparently, Grandma just brings great peace to our home.

While the rest of the kids watched Forks Over Knives with us, Camilla sacked out on Grandma.

And, Cosita is pretty much obsessed with Grandma.  We're trying to convince Grandma to take the dog home with her, but she hasn't agreed, yet.  Someone should probably call my Dad and warn him!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Grandma is coming!!


And, the kids are so excited that I can't get them to focus on getting anything done!

Instead of blogging, I'm going to follow them around making sure they do something other than check the clock!

Night all!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Random Photos

I got the blog in before the end of the day!  Whew!

It has been such an odd day- did your day start with an email about a toxic cloud over the city where you live?- that I'm not up to blogging.  Here are a few random pictures from recent life.

We've been working hard on our vegan diet, and this was a great success.  It was a gnocchi recipe from Happy Herbivore Abroad.  Vegan is very yummy!

When I was taking pictures of Camilla's new one-tooth-less smile, Coralynn insisted in getting in on the action.  This is officially an out take.

This picture isn't very good, but do you see the spoiled puppy with her head propped up on the pillow?  This is the same puppy that isn't allowed on the furniture.  Life's tough for Cosita.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A For-Real Announcement

Two years ago when we moved to Panama, we thought we knew what some of the big markers of life would be.  We knew which house we'd chosen.  We had a pretty good idea what church to attend.  And, we were beyond confident about which school we wanted- Balboa Academy.

Within just a few months of living in Panama, we made the decision to apply at the school attached to our church.  We applied to Crossroads, and we were immediately told there was no way Carson would be able to attend because his class was "closed."  We went ahead with the process, and we were told that Camilla's class was also "closed."  Chloe, if she passed the entrance exams, would have a spot. 

At 5:00 the night before we were to be at the school at 8:00am, I got a call from the secretary letting us know that spots had opened up in Camilla and Carson's classes.  If they passed the exams, they would be able to attend.  We received word a few days later that all 3 children had spots waiting for them at both CCA and Balboa. 

We prayed over the decision for days.  We talked to friends back in the US.  We questioned virtual strangers in Panama.  We wanted to make the right decision.  Finally, on a Sunday morning while I was in the shower getting ready for church, we made our choice with confidence.  On Monday, we let CCA know that our kids would be there in the fall. The kids were thrilled.  Well, some of them, but to be honest, I don't remember who wanted which school.

The 2011-2012 school year had its ups and downs.  It was different, a transition, and transitions rarely go completely smoothly.  So it was for us.  Throughout it all, I understood this is where my kids were supposed to be.  They made amazing friendships.  We met amazing people.  Chloe got to have Miss Spencer in her life.  (You all should stop and pray right now that the Lord would give you a Miss Spencer in your child's life.)  All of the kids' teachers were amazing.  I never doubted that those teachers loved my children, and there is no better feeling as a parent.

As the 2012-2013 school year began, something happened to our peace.  Well, mostly to my peace.  I began seeking God asking Him for confidence in this decision we'd made.  Around the same time, I began tutoring two children.  I loved the teaching, but the time commitment was taking away from my ability to serve my own family.  Again, I sought Jesus, and He cleared up very quickly that I needed to be completely available to my family.  I resigned as a tutor.  It was a painful decision, but one that I knew had to happen.  I felt so much peace that I was finally going to be able to be at all the kids plays and games and events and functions and productions and and and. 

With my new found peace, I plowed through the end of the first semester of school.  I knew what God desired of me- service and availability to my family- but something seemed a little off still.  More seeking.  One answer- control.   Lots more questions.  What did I control?  What should I control?  What did I need to let go of?  What was mine to pickup?  The thoughts, without clear answers, swirled through my brain, and my frustration with Jesus' apparent silence grew.

By Wednesday night, December 19, I was about done waiting for Jesus to speak.  As I laid in bed, the prayers turning into complaints began pouring out of my head.  A diatribe of frustration to the One who created me in the first place.  Ugg on me, but because He is merciful, He did speak.  "Be still and know."  "Really, Jesus?  That's what you have for me.  Kind of trite, you know."  "Be still and know."  He must have said it 10 times before I shut up and heard it.  Really, really heard.  "Before anything can move forward, I need you to chill out and trust Me.  Kinda hard to work when someone is constantly telling You that You aren't."  "Ok, Jesus, good point."  I supernaturally chilled for a moment and fell asleep.

Then, the next day, which happened to be 2 days before we left for our Christmas cruise, the Lord brought Tony into the conversation.  I hadn't been intentionally leaving him out of the dialogue.  I just thought it was something that Jesus and I needed to work through.  Apparently, Tony and Jesus had been having a dialogue of their own.  We watched a movie on Thursday night, and when it was over, Tony leaned up against the wall.  (Tony always thinks with his back to a wall- literally.)  Because it's not my right to share his thoughts, I'm not going to go into what he and Jesus had been hashing out.  Tony and I talked for a bit, and then I headed to the shower.  (Yes, much of the important dialogue in our house happens while I'm in the shower.  That might mean I spend too much time showering.)

Tony came in and told me the bottom line to his pondering and conversations, "Lisa, we need to pull the kids and homeschool them."  I could not have been any more surprised.  "What?  When?"  "Now.  Right now."  "In the middle of the school year?  Are you sure?"  "Yes, I'm sure we need to pull them,  No, I'm not sure of now."  *lather, rinse, repeat*  "Um, okay."

I have no idea how late that conversation lasted, how many tears were shed, or what exactly was said.  What I do remember is that all the swirling and discontent in my soul stopped.  Instantly.  Part of the amazingness of our cruise was the total peace within me.  I didn't feel out of control anymore.  Jesus had already told me that my job, my purpose, was to serve my family.  Jesus told Tony the other part- I was going to be homeschooling them.

We made the decision over the next few weeks to allow them to finish up this school year.  I felt strongly that they needed that in the name of closure.  We did tell them about our decision.  You know that open dialogue is important to me.  Sometimes they're supportive.  Sometimes they aren't.  That's ok.  Kids don't have to have all the answers.

We also made the decision that we weren't telling anyone until the school knew, and we felt it important to let the school know during re-enrollment.  Well, re-enrollment is here, the school knows, and now so do all of you.

Some of you will be tickled and thrilled for us.  Thanks, we appreciate your support.  Others will think this is the worst idea ever.  That's okay, too.  We will still be friends and family.    What I do ask from everyone is for prayer.  As with any transition (like I said 350 words ago), there are going to be rough patches.  Will you pray for all of us as we make this transition?  Thanks.

Announcement over.  :)


We've been waiting for months. 

Several weeks ago, we got a real sign of hope.

And, today, we had success!

Well, the school nurse had success.

Camilla lost her first tooth!!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Annoucement Number One:

Drumroll, please...

*Can you hear it?*

We found out the next step in Tony's career journey!  We are...

Oh, hi, dear.

What?  What do you mean I can't share yet?    Why isn't everything determined?  You're still in discussions about it?   But, I wanted to tell everyone today.  Seriously?  There's nothing I can tell?

Sorry all.

I thought by now we'd have some news to announce, but we don't.

Please pray for all these discussions and decisions.  We've gotten a clear peace about our options.  Now, we just need to see what the company decides.  Thanks.

(And I promise there will be a for-real, non-pregnancy announcement this week.)

Friday, March 15, 2013

At 11:30 tonight,

we will have lived in Panama for 2 years.

I remember March 15, 2011, like it was yesterday.

The tears.  The nerves.  The trip to the pharmacy because I had an UTI.

I remember sitting on the circle benches in the international wing of the airport and sending one final text message to everyone.  I just wanted to say goodbye.  And, to be perfectly honest, I wanted everyone to tell me goodbye one last time.

I remember.  All of it.

I think the part I remember the most clearly is being dropped off at the hotel. Our flight had left hours late, and then, upon arrival, we had to get through customs and baggage claim.  We'd barely gotten the first breath-stealing shock of tropical air in the lungs when we'd found our driver and piled in his minivan.  We drove in the blackness to the activity of the heart of the city.  The driver dropped us off at the hotel. The gorgeous .Hotel Riu. Tony, me, the kids, 12 checked bags, 6 carry-on bags, 6 personal items, and 2 carseats sitting collapsing in the lobby.  I'm sure we were quite the site.  Tired.  Hungry.  And emotionally numb.

It's pretty much the picture of a luxury Ellis Island.

Ok.  Maybe not.  But, it was day one as an ex-pat.

I had no idea the twists and turns we were going to experience over the next 2 years.  Sure, I knew the language barrier and the traffic congestion would be difficult.  I was right that loneliness was going to hit. 

But, it's been so much more than that.

I've learned that the 6 of us can count on each other.  There were days that watching Coralynn learn to crawl was the only thing that kept us going.  Or times when a wisecrack from Carson gave us the much-needed comic relief to relax for a minute.  I remember shedding tears with Chloe and giving myself permission to feel the same hurt in my own heart.  Or the peace that comes from Camilla's total confidence that snuggling really does make it all better.

I watched Tony throw himself into starting CAT shared service operations here.  And, I saw him fall sound asleep the moment he allowed himself a deep breath.  I saw him take charge of getting our life here going- buying 2 vehicles, getting a bank account, organizing phone, internet, TV.  I'll never forget him, just one week after we arrived here, taking a very sick Coralynn Mae to the Emergency Room.  He barely knew the way, and the language was a still a total mystery.  But, she was too sick to wait.

We had one cell phone.  He left it with me.  I'm not sure why.  I stood at our dining room window for 2 hours watching, waiting for him to return with her.  They returned with bags of medicine to help her fight the pneumonia.  I don't think I've ever loved Tony more than I did in those hours.  He was taking care of us.  We were going to get through this. 


Now, 2 years later, I've been to that ER multiple times with multiple people.  I've driven to that hospital too many times to count.  And I'm driving there in the van that Tony bought me.  What a story that was!  Waiting hours to get the credit card machine to work only to find out that Mastercard had refused the purchase.  Him having to call my mom in the US to get her to convince Mastercard to unlock the account.

The first few months of the first year felt like a painful parade through the sludge of Panama.  Now, they are just fun stories that we laugh at with our ex-pat friends.  Oh, yah.  Did I mention?  We have friends.  The fact is we aren't alone here.  I'm so thankful for my Panama friends.  So thankful.  But they're nothing compared to the 6 of us.

10 months, 4.5 years, 7 years and 2 days, 8 years. 

Now, they're almost 3, almost 6.5, just turned 9, and almost 11.

I just shake my head in disbelief at how much time has passed.  More amazing is how deep the relationships have grown.

When our friends from Georgia came last month, we were talking about our life here.  What we expected.  What was different.  My bff asked me about the friendships I'd made.  I thought for a moment.  "Without a doubt, I have no girlfriend that I enjoy hanging out with as much as I enjoy hanging out with Chloe."  I have amazing friends here.  But none of them compare to my family.

The 6 of us. 

In two years, I've gone from having 4 great kids and amazing husband to becoming completely confident that my family team of 6, through Jesus, can conquer anything this world throws at us.

Happy Anniversary to Us!!

(And thanks to y'all for taking the ride with us!)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Not much.

Not tonight.  No thoughts or ponderings.  Nothing.  I've got a cold.   I don't feel good.  I should have been in bed hours ago.  Fortunately, my sweet kids agreed to make dinner for me.  Chloe was in charge of cooking, Carson read the recipes, and Camilla tried to get them to let her help.  I'm blessed.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

March 13, 2013

It's Carson's birthday!!  He requested scrambled eggs for his breakfast, so we decided to sing and blow out a candle, too!  (I had no idea that hot eggs would melt the candle!)

I think this candle and egg thing might be a new (though, non vegan) tradition!

Hope he made a wish!

In honor of the birthday extravaganza, the kids were allowed to have juice with breakfast!  Such the splurge!

After school, Carson began the series of skype calls from his birthday well wishers.  Little did he know that Uncle Tim was part of the "birthday surprise" that we've been talking about!

Uncle Tim let Carson know that he will be coming from California in a few weeks to watch the Star Wars series with Carson. 

Clearly, Carson was thrilled, and I loved watching Uncle Tim get a kick out of Carson's reaction.  It was another reminder that I'm blessed with a great son and a great big bro!

Finally, it was time for a celebratory meal at .T.G.I.Friday's.  (Will never go back, but that's another topic for another day.)  Carson got to open the present from the family.

Wait, is that ketchup?

Not only is it ketchup, it's the dip & squeeze ketchup packets that were introduced shortly before we moved.  Carson is a huge fan. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Not everyone is going to understand.

This post that is.  Really, the only people who are going to understand are our Georgia friends.

But, I wanted to share anyway, because I learned something this weekend.

I've been parenting Chloe for almost 11 years now.  I have to constantly re-count because that doesn't seem possible.  She was born in 2002.  This is 2013.  Yes, that is 11 years.  I've mentioned before that she and I had a few tough years (decade), but things are so much better.  Mostly because I've shut up and started listening.

Really, really listening.  She isn't one to just pour out her soul, but when she asks a question or shares a sentence, it is something she's really thought through.  She's a ponderer.  And, she carefully selects whom she is going to say what to.  It's because she's deemed that person worthy.

She loves people, but she doesn't want them around all the time.  She needs to have the knowledge that she has good friends, but she doesn't need for them to be with her constantly.  She isn't interested in being the life of the party.  She really isn't interested in the party, at all.  She just wants to matter to her few, well-chosen people.  That knowledge, more so than nearness, makes her feel safe, loved, content.

Early Saturday morning, I had to parent.  And not the fun kind of parenting.  I had to sit Chloe down and tell her that someone important to her was moving from Panama.  I'd been praying about this conversation since Wednesday.  I took the news hard because I knew she would take the news hard.  I had to wait to tell her because I didn't want her to have to keep the non-public-knowledge news to herself, but I didn't want to wait too long for fear someone else would tell her.  I KNEW that would break the fragile trust she has in me.

Saturday morning came, and I told her.  I had people praying for my delivery of the information and for her heart receiving the news.  She just kind of tilted her head and said, "Ah.  That's sad."  Within minutes, she and Coralynn were tackling Tony.

I couldn't believe the total lack of drama.  Was it possible that my child who constantly finds herself surrounded by drama doesn't produce it herself?  I was shocked.  I knew there would be more from her as she processed, but the initial reaction surprised me.

Sunday morning, she came into my room.  No doubt about it, she had been pondering.

"Mom," she said.  "It's like losing Libby and Claire Batchelor all in one person."

I burst into tears.  Apparently, I have no problem producing drama.  I hugged her.  Tight.

And, she left my room.

*For the non-Georgia readers, Libby is Chloe's 11-year-old bff, and Mrs. Claire is Chloe's spiritual mentor and safe-to-talk-to grown-up.*

The rest of the morning and into the afternoon she was subdued.  I'd look at her and smile.  She'd shrug her shoulders.

I begged God to give her a drop of relief.   And He did.  Libby skyped.

Tony came in and smiled.  Tony also doesn't produce drama so this was big. 

He said, "She's laughing, Lis.  Really, really laughing."

I burst into tears again.  (I think we've proven where the drama comes from in this group.)

Thank you, Jesus, for that laughter.  And, thank for you for the worthy people you've put in Chloe's life.  She doesn't begin to see that You've always given her someone "for a time such as this," but thank you for each one.

Remember, I chose the word "path" to be my word for this year?  It looks like it's going to apply to Chloe, too.  As we walk through the next few months, I'm excited to see how Jesus is going to prove Himself a friend to her. I ask you to pray with me that she can find that special person for a time such as this. 

I think everyone can understand that.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


(sorry about missing yesterday- we had a busy day, and I forgot about the blog.)

Sunday afternoon is chill time at our house.

Chloe paints.

Carson reads.

Camilla watches TV.

I play on the computer.

Tony works.

Coralynn naps.

Except when she doesn't.

I was reading on my kindle, and I heard a soft clinking noise.

The girls went to check on the dog because we assumed she'd gotten into something.

Nope, she was fine.


Figuring it was something on TV, I went back to my book.

More clinking.

I didn't see anything.

Tony was in the playroom right next to Coralynn's room, so I assumed he had that side of the house under control.

The clinking was getting louder.

I got up to find the sound.

I turned the corner, and the clinking was definitely coming from Coralynn's room.

Tony was listening to his ipod.  That explains it.

I opened Coralynn's door.

And found this...

Coralynn was in the dark, in the closet, and in trouble.  She was playing with the tea set instead of napping.

I started to scold her, and I looked down at her.  She hadn't lifted her head.  She was playing "asleep." 

Tony comes in, and she remained perfectly still.

I could just imagine what was going on in her little brain.  Don't move- they'll never notice.  Stay quiet, and they'll leave.
I had no choice.  I just burst into laughter.  I couldn't stop laughing.  That deep, from the belly, laughing. Tony joined me.  No, her being disobedient isn't funny, but, come on.  I take plenty of time to correct her.  This just needed laughter.
Eventually, we asked her to put her head up and look at us.  She slowly looked up and slowly smiled. 
Daddy took her to the bathroom, and put her back in bed in spite of her tears and objections.
Sometimes, you just have to laugh.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Royal Ball!

Once a year, the church hosts the "Royal Ball" when the kids get all dressed up and have a fun night as knights and princesses.  I LOVE getting dressed up, and getting my kids dressed up is equally fun for me!!

(In theory, I would edit these pictures so there aren't so many, but I want them all.  And, it's my blog.  So there.)

Camilla Rose- 1st grader:

Carson David- 3rd grade: 

Princess Bits (not attending)- almost 3: 

Chloe Marie- 5th grade: 

My Girls:

My School Kids:
All My Babies:

Thursday, March 7, 2013

So easy a 10-year-old could do it!

Tony has been working late this week, so Chloe decided she was taking over the cooking.  (That sounds like Tony cooks.  Um.  No.  We're more flexible in what we eat when Tony doesn't come home for dinner so that was a good opportunity to try her hand at making dinner.)

Tonight, she pulled out Chloe's Kitchen, her favorite vegan cookbook.  She settled on a baked mac n cheese recipe.  I wasn't sure she would pull it off, but she surprised all of us!

Slaving away over the hot stove!

Hot out of the oven!


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Truth and Solitaire

I need downtime.  I'm pretty sure I've mentioned that before now.

And, often times, my downtime comes in the form of a few mindless games of solitaire.

Sunday night, Coralynn asked if she could curl up with my while I played.

Sure.  Why not?

As we sat there cuddling in the chair with the laptop on my lap, I played solitaire.  And, she helped.

Here's the thing, though.

She doesn't know how to play.  At all.  She's 2.  She's the Bits.  She is not the solitaire genius she believes herself to be.

After about 10 minutes of her assistance, I was getting frustrated.  This was supposed to be an exercise is cuddling and mindlessness.  It was not supposed to be her barking instructions at me every 3 seconds.

I asked her to stop. 


I started to put her down, and she started to cry.

I can't handle hearing her cry so I picked her back up.  (And, spare me the lecture on letting her cry.  It isn't going to happen.  Thank you.)

As I sat there, I put the laptop away.  I cuddled my Bits.  She relaxed into my arms, starting sucking her finger (spare me that lecture, too), and sighed peacefully.

It got me to thinking.

Bits doesn't know the rules to solitaire, but she still was going to fight me to get her way.

How often do I do that? 

I tell God how I want things to go.  How I think things would be best.  What steps should go next in my life.

I'm just as bossy as the Bits and every bit as clueless.

*I started this blog post a few days ago, but I never had time to finish it.  I'm not sure I thought it would end the way it does.*

Today, the Lord, who understands I'm a slow learner, went over the point again.  And, of all things, it started with a text message before 8:00am. 

Lisa, give me a call when you get a chance.  It's not urgent, but I'd like to talk to you before Monday.

Without knowing the why, my heart sank.  Call it a feeling.  Or a cynical nature.  Or whatever.  I knew.  I knew where this phone call was going.

I hung up the phone and bawled.

Hurting for hearts that don't yet know to hurt.  Weeping for what might have been, for what I thought would be, for what I had planned them to be.

And, that's where I found Jesus. 

What I thought would be wasn't ever going to be.  It was all my plan, but it wasn't ever *the* plan.  I was weeping because I didn't get my way like a Bits that didn't get to play solitaire. 

Yes, the hurt is real, and I totally reserve the right to hurt.  But, as is the unfortunate trend of my soul, I sunk into blaming and complaints of unfairness.  The arrogance of that drops me to my knees. 

I don't know all the rules to this game of life, and I certainly don't know the master plan.  Do I trust the Author of life to know how to write my story?  I'm trying.  It's hard.  (And you have no right to lecture me on that.  It is hard.)

I'm just thankful that Jesus doesn't leave me on the floor crying.  He picks me up, cuddles me in close, and let's me find comfort in His arms.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


We've been doing some extra math facts to keep our strong math students strong and to help our stuggling math students improve.

Carson's intensity- in everything- makes me smile.  He's just an intense kid.  And, math-fact practice is no different.

(I especially love the tiny pencil behind his ear.  And, yes, Cosita did eat the couch.)

Monday, March 4, 2013

First Grade is Tough!

My phone started buzzing a little before 8:00 this morning.  That usually means that either Carson forgot his lunch or we are moving.  Today, it wasn't either of those things.  There had been a little accident at school.  My most-prone-to-fall child had fallen.  On her face.  Again.

(Please excuse the "branding" across her face.  I don't normally do that, but she looks so bad that I didn't want someone to decide to steal this picture for a domestic violence campaign.)

Camilla has broken her nose once, almost broken her nose once, and gotten a 3rd degree sunburn on her face.  I'm not sure what it is about her face, but it has had more bumps and bruises than it deserved.  Today, she was running to get her backpack to line up for school, and she stepped wrong where the gravel changed to cement.  The poor thing lost her balance and fell forward.  The good news is that the bump on her head isn't bothering her at all.  Also, the nurse had her put ice on it for a while so the swelling is much better now.  The bad thing is that her hands, knees, and elbow are really painful.  Please pray that she sleeps well and feels better tomorrow?  Thanks!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Quotation from the Weekend

Coralynn and I went to her little playgroup on Friday.  She's the youngest no-nbaby there.

On the way home, we had this conversation:

Bits:  Momma, I'm not a BeBe.  I da Bid Gurl.  (I'm the big girl)
Me:  Yes, you are a big girl.
Bits.  Dyes.  I da Bid Gurl.  I eat guac-mole-A.

Yes, ma'am, that's the sign of grown-up-ness- eating guacamole!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Since my parents are fielding questions,

I thought we should go and clear up that I'm not pregnant.

I make any mention of an announcement, and people start coming up with names.  :)

Unfortunately, no baby announcement, but I'm still looking forward to an amazing March!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Welcome to March!

I am so glad to be out of January and February!  For reasons dating back to the growing up in Illinois years, I dislike January and February.  They are the dreary-weathered, post-holiday-fun, blech months.  I have some dear people with birthdays during those months, but I have not lived near enough to celebrate with them on their birthdays since ... um... hmm... I have no idea.  See?  January and February are uck months!

March, in Illinois, gives the hint of warmer weather and means basketball madness.  Definitely 2 of my favorite things!  March holds a special anniversary and a very important birthday- Carson's!

In celebration of this special month, we're going to have an extra fun time here on the blog.  They'll be a couple of celebrations, hopefully a few announcements, and, in honor of Carson's love of talking, a DAILY blog post!

I look forward to spending this beginning-of-Spring month with you!  Have a great Friday!  I'll see you tomorrow!