Sunday, June 29, 2008

Concert In The Park

Our church hosted its annual Concert In The Park today in the fair city of Jonesville, Michigan, and we had a really good turnout. Especially considering that it rained all morning and afternoon, right up until about an hour or so before it was to start. Then the sun came out and it was a glorious afternoon! The daughter's boyfriend was a last minute lead singer for one of the groups, practicing just three times (including just before the concert today).

In addition we had a men's quartet, the worship team, a pianist, and the choir who all did a section of the program. Everyone enjoyed the music, the food, and just the chance to visit with neighbors. No hard numbers but we're guess-timating that we had about 250 there. Not bad for a village of less than 2000 :-) The homemade ice cream (made in a 5 gallon ice cream maker powered by a John Deere one-cylinder gas engine) is always a hit.

Jonnes and Gertrude enjoyed a small town event and made some new friends. I think 20 years of "bringing the fatherhood of God to the fatherless" is evident even to these little ones, who instinctively know that the Bakimis love children.

Tonight we're relaxing and looking at photos and just enjoying our time together.

People Are More Important Than Projects

That's one of the things we learned during our year in Uganda. Jonnes and Gertrude exemplified this truth as their home was always open. Literally. We could go at any time, as could anyone at Kasana (about 50 on staff and close to 200 children living on site back then). In addition to their biological children they had taken in orphans and that has not changed. Currently they have "about ten" living in their home!

Tonight we took them to visit friends who also have a Kasana connection. This couple came and spent two months helping us while we were in Uganda, and later went back on their own for a month-long visit. Jonnes and Gertrude thoroughly enjoyed an evening "down on the farm", observing life in rural America. Hey, what are they smiling so big about? Oh! That's a big one!

Not only did he catch it, he also fried it up for us and we all got to try some of his 16-1/2 inch wide mouth bass. Yum! The men threw all their other catches back into the pond.

And the ladies enjoyed watching, cheering them on, and chatting. Which we are very good at :-) What a blessing to be a part of the family of God!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

"You Are All Most Welcome!"

This traditional Ugandan greeting received a big laugh from Jonnes and Gertrude Bakimi when we picked them up yesterday in their "personal matatu" a.k.a. our '94 Crown Vic. [a matatu is a taxi in Uganda, usually a small white mini van]

Despite some pretty heavy duty dental work, the two were ready for a little adventure so we headed to the wilds of Michigan. Gertrude is keeping track of the states she has been to, and she can count Indiana, Illinois and Michigan. Plus I totally think she should count Georgia since they changed planes in Atlanta. Hey, if you're on the ground, it counts!

Reminiscing, catching up, we talked until well past my bedtime last night. As Jonnes tried to recall the name of one child (now grown) that we asked about, he commented that this difficulty stems from the color in his hair (gray) but the hubby quipped the difficulty comes from having so many children! I'm sure no one has an exact count but HUNDREDS of children have found a safe haven at Kasana Children's Center in the 20 years it has existed.

The hubby checked out youtube to see what videos we could find on New Hope Uganda and we actually found several so we all enjoyed watching a few of those and pointing out those we recognized. I loved seeing Gertrude's face light up when one of her sons appeared in a video. Its difficult to be away from your family for weeks at a time!

I'm trying to think of a variety of soft things I can make that Gertrude can eat after all the dental work. Lots of mashed vegetables, oatmeal for breakfast, fruit smoothies and pudding. Any suggestions?

I'll probably be posting throughout the day. As I have time and things are fresh on my mind...

Like Jonnes comment last night that caused us to stop and think. He said, "Most poverty is from the poverty of ideas." Here is a Ugandan who gets really excited when others in his country can see the value of seeing beyond themselves. He's one of the pastors at Kasana Community Church and he loves to preach the Word! And we spent a lot of time talking last night about how the teachings in the Word are often upside down from what we learn in our culture. That when Christians begin to practice what they learn, their communities are transformed by the love they share. He told us stories with concrete examples of this and what a blessing! I think I'll just have to devote a whole post to this topic later on.

Sounds like the masses are waking. Let the day begin!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Old Friends, Good Times

It shouldn't surprise me that God is providing unbelievable opportunities to see old friends in these last months before we head to Argentina. But I have to admit I'm just a little amazed. Not that He CAN, but that He DOES.

Last month I mentioned seeing an old friend from high school. Both of the hubby's older brothers will be coming to Indiana (from Atlanta and Denver) during July so we get to see them. There's a possibility we'll be able to meet good friends halfway between here and Wisconsin.

And this weekend we're going to spend time with friends from Uganda!!! Jonnes and Gertrude are mainstays at Kasana Children's Center, the ministry Jonnes helped co-found back in 1988. We recently learned they'd be coming to the states for a few weeks, right to our neck of the woods in northern Indiana, which caused much rejoicing in the House of Hoyt! That stomping you hear is us doin' the happy dance :-)

The hubby was absolutely beaming when he got off the phone this evening after hearing Jonnes British-infused-but-musically-Ugandan voice saying he was "Jolly fine!". It's been six years since we returned from our year in Uganda. We never expected to see any of our dear friends from there, or hear their voices, this side of heaven. [And yes, their voices are musical! There's a sing-songy quality to the way they speak that we just love.] What an unexpected blessing!!! [I know this is a lot of exclamation points, but people, this is HUGE!]

I will be posting pictures and PROBABLY SPEAKING ABOUT THE WHOLE WEEKEND IN CAPS. Just sayin'. I'm THAT excited :-)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Packing Progress

So this is our garage after finally clearing the bulk of the stuff out. Note the nice taped lines on the floor that tell us how big our container will be. And as to what we did with all the stuff? It's here now... Yes, this is a portable garage. So basically we've just moved it from one garage to another. But the point is, some progress is being made!

Several young men, having been fed a nice carb-loaded breakfast of bacon and creamed eggs over homemade biscuits, helped carry all the boxes from the basement to the garage this morning. Where said boxes are now stacked in piles according to size.

The next step is to load the pallets, with heavier boxes on the bottom (books and tools). On the tippy top of each pallet will be the most fragile items. Such as my wicker desk and chair. Or components of our air beds. But this will all have to wait as other matters require our time today. And this evening we head back to Indiana so the packing, it will be set aside until Friday when we make the return trip once again.

The going and the coming between Indiana and Michigan? I'm feeling a bit like a yo-yo these days.

In the midst of the packing on Saturday a special box arrived in the mail -- with my new (to me) sewing machine!!! Didn't really have time to do more than unpack it and check it over, then set it aside while we went back to work. Do you know how much will power that took?!

On Sunday afternoon the hubby and I took a little time to read how to thread the needle (so much easier than my old one!) and wind a bobbin (simple really, but it took me 20 minutes to figure it out). Then I whipped up another apron! This one is for a friend who loves chickens and sunflowers.

This machine sews like a dream! It's as different from my old machine as apples are from oranges...just no comparison! I am lovin' it! Can't wait to try out other cool features but wait, I must. I'm especially anxious to see how it will do with my machine applique projects (African memory quilt among others). I did just a couple of the decorative stitches on some scrap fabric and it's so lovely! Just gonna have to come up with a project that incorporates some of those pretty stitches :-) I definitely see a Crazy Quilt in my future!

Friday, June 20, 2008


I'm feeling dumb and proud at the same time. Last night I got an e-mail from my son only it wasn't really. Since it was a very nasty e-mail I knew it wasn't him so I e-mailed to let him know he had "a virus or had gotten slammed or whatever it's called" {yeah, I'm that computer illiterate}. E-mailing him? Not.Real.Smart.

So today we were up and out early, but I e-mailed him about the photo problem from my earlier post before we left. The search for a swimsuit took up the morning and when I went to pick hubby up at Panera at lunch, he said he'd talked to the son who had not known about the e-mail problem until after 9 a.m. today. 'Cause the hacker (oh yeah, it's called hacking!) had the son's e-mails re-directed to himself. Duh! If I'd thought about it at all, I would have considered that possibility.

And the son only found out AFTER A CUSTOMER CALLED THE OFFICE TO COMPLAIN ABOUT THE NASTY E-MAIL. If I'd only thought to CALL HIM INSTEAD last night, he would have found out within half an hour and probably prevented the hacker from also hijacking his blog. Yes, his BLOG!

The hubby alerted the son to the blog problem at lunchtime. The blog problem had something to do with a layout liquid file and a tag liquid file with a js line. [Just typing that computer jargon causes severe twitching. I'm SO GLAD the son deals with stuff like this SO I DON'T HAVE TO.] But even the complicated blog problem he had fixed in about an hour.

And then? Well.Let.Me.Just.Tell.You.What.Then. THEN the son tracked down that hacker! Yes he did. I'm so proud of my boy! By mid-afternoon he was on the phone to to the server the hacker had used. How cool is that?

But the son is emphasizing again HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO HAVE A GOOD PASSWORD. So I don't know about you, but I'm gonna think real, real hard to come up with a ninja password ASAP!

My Family

Today's post will be short. We're on our way to have breakfast with friends and then spend the day shopping. LONG list. Most of the things we can find at Sam's Club but I'll be hitting a few other stores, too. I'm planning to send the hubby off to do his own thing while I spend an hour or six trying on swimsuits :-( I haven't bought a new suit in at least six years. I think it's actually been closer to ten. Since I go swimming about once every three years, it hasn't been a problem. But due to it's age and, shall we say "expanding responsibilities", it has it's stretched-out-sagging-all-over-the-place issues. I haven't gotten any smaller in the intervening years, folks. So while swimsuits are on sale, I thought I'd go spend a few hours crying trying some on.

But I did want to post some pictures of me and my 'kids'. The one with my son is from just this past Sunday. [He sent me a link to this picture and the one of the whole family and they're posting really small. Not sure what the problem is. But I am even now contacting the son IT support and will try to have the pictures at their normal viewing size by the end of the day. The son IT support will hasten to my rescue {as always} but the shopping, it will no doubt interfere with a timely fix.] The daughter and I posed for ours during our weekend up in Ludington. I love my kids so much and am so proud of them!

And this final picture is my family. We were all together for Father's Day. Had a wonderful time!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wednesday Ramblings

We sorted through quite a bit of stuff in the garage today, packing 7 boxes to take with us. Since deciding to take a 20' container frees us to take a bit more than we would have otherwise, the hubby is happily packing up a lot more of his shop tools and materials. Once we'd cleared enough floor space, we measured to see just how much space an 8' x 8' x 20' container would give us. Wow! It's almost the whole garage so I guess we'll for sure be able to fit everything in :-)

We're pushing hard to get the packing done this week. Prayers much appreciated!

I've spent my "spare" time looking for things on the internet. Not a big fan of the shopping (although I've been doing plenty of that, too) and when at all possible, it's nice to just order online and have it sent right to my house. I like specific brands and styles of certain *ahem* intimate apparel items and I was able to get all of them on sale at one online store today that had a no shipping special for orders of a certain amount. Which amount I initially thought "No problem!" but because everything was on sale, I actually wasn't spending enough. Imagine! So I clicked on the clearance items and found something I could use that bumped me up to the right amount. I think I'm set now for this first three-year term. And a few weeks ago I found cotton blankets on sale online for 70% off! Now that's a deal! We haven't really used many blankets here because we had the mattress warming pads.

I've been checking ebay for MONTHS in an attempt to find a sewing machine. Research indicated a Pfaff of fairly recent vintage (last five years) would give me the two things I most desired: (1) dual voltage so I can use it here and in Argentina; and (2) IDT (integrated dual feed) which is a feature that quilters rave about. I've missed several auctions and others have just gone too high. I had about given up hope, but this week I finally got one! I'm so excited I can hardly stand it :-) It's actually a much nicer machine than I thought I'd be able to get (God is good all the time! All the time God is good!) with features that should be a lot of fun to try out.

So a lot of the things I needed (or wanted) to buy and take are checked off the list. Just a few more to go. I haven't done too well on the wish list of books my co-worker sent, though. Both our budgets mean looking for the used variety and my favorite used bookstores are failing me. I did find some by one of her favorite authors (Karen Kingsbury) at International Aid (a mission store in Michigan that, unfortunately, just closed its doors the end of last month). If anyone is getting rid of books of the Christian genre, give me a holler and we'll see if we can't make a deal :-)

I keep thinking of things I need to do. Like getting those automatic monthly withdrawals switched over to the new account we have through the mission before we close out the account here. And finding out how we'll be able to vote during the election in November (very helpful website by the Vote Overseas Foundation). I actually woke from a sound sleep once last week in a TOTAL PANIC about the move. Seriously, I was practically hyperventilating! Again, prayers much appreciated!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Products You Can Live Without

In my last post I mentioned the-other-associate-pastor-who-is-now-the-primary-occupant-of-the- parsonage. Since that's a mouthful, let's just call him Rob. Since that's his name and all.

A while back he let me rip up a catalog that came in the mail; since it didn't feature books, he didn't care. This catalog carried products I didn't even know existed.

Or why.

Maybe you can tell me why there's a need for these things? Am I missing out on something of great import? Is my quality of life being compromised because I do not own these? I know I'm not the sharpest fashion tool in the shed, but somehow I just don't see this coordinating with any of my clothes. Except maybe the Minnie Mouse sweatshirt with paint and wood finish stains. And just where would one wear such a stunning piece of jewelry anyway? I'm not exactly the outdoorsy type. My idea of roughing it is a hotel without a pool. Nope, don't think I'll be needing it.
Yeah, this almost-foot-tall piece of gray plastic looks just like "an enemy nest" that will totally fake out the wasps that come lurking around. Since it's chemical free, you'll feel like you're doing your part for the environment. Except I wonder how much energy was wasted used to create this plastic monstrosity? And what happens when you get wasps who are looking for another place to hang their hat? Who are tired of the same old/same old in their own neighborhood and are on the prowl? I guess they'd beat themselves silly hurling themselves against the hard plastic, trying to get in. And then you'd have a mess to clean up, all those dazed and confused wasps lying on the ground with migraines. But never fear! Because you can also buy this: You can sneak down to the neighbor's place (the one whose dog has been leaving little presents in your yard) and release the dear little wasps there. Preferably close to the present-giving dog.

Yeah, right. And will the inventor come and clean my toilet if the product does not live up to claims and expectations? C'mon! NOT CLEAN MY TOILET FOR FIVE YEARS?! Who would buy this? Probably the same person who'd buy this: If you're too lazy to clean your toilet, you're probably too lazy to bend down and wash your feet. ALTHOUGH, I can see the value of this product when one is pregnant and the bending down to clean one's feet is problematic.

And finally my favorite time-saving device: Because we all know it is a difficult thing, a true hardship to slice a banana by hand. And I wanna know, what do you do if the banana isn't shaped just exactly right?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Less Than Nine Weeks To D (Departure) Day

Yes indeedy and I'm trying not to think about all that still has to be done! Hopefully we'll knock out a lot of it this week. We're at the parsonage to deal with the garage. We are NOT looking forward to this job, but it has to be done. We had whittled it down to a (somewhat) manageable mess in the fall. But then hubby brought all his tools and things from where he used to work and it just got piled into the center and we haven't dealt with it.

Where I procrastinate with the paperwork? Hubby procrastinates with the garage. So there we are.

But can't put it off any longer. *sigh*

Not sure what all we'll find as we excavate but it should be interesting. Hubby doesn't like to part with anything because of the it-might-come-in-handy-some-day syndrome. And that's understandable, having grown up on the mission field. There were times when they couldn't get the part they needed and they had to be creative, either making the part themselves or figuring out a way to "rig" the thing without the part so that it would work. So everything got saved because it really, truly might-come-in-handy-some-day.

Early in our marriage hubby was a little offended when he heard me tell someone, "He doesn't fix things so much as he rigs them." In my defense, I did NOT mean it in a derogatory way.

In the 29 years we've been married, though, he has come around to seeing the value in buying the actual part when he can because IN THE END IT SAVES TIME AND MONEY. However, that hasn't stopped him from continuing to collect every bolt, every screw, every bit of leftover material from any project... Which wasn't a problem until we started a small mini-storage business and became our own best customers. And when we sold it two years ago WE HAD TO DEAL WITH ALL THAT STUFF. It took months, the biggest dumpster you can rent, I lost count of how many trailer loads of materials given away or taken to the scrap metal place... I am not overstating when I say IT WAS A NIGHTMARE. But we got through it.

Except for the stuff that ended up in our garage.

See where I'm going? It's like the dishes or the laundry. No matter how fast you do them, they keep piling up! You never seem to get ahead of the job. So we have our work cut out for us. 'Cause I really don't think the other associate pastor who is now the primary occupant of the parsonage would appreciate us leaving our piles and pile stash of it-might-come-in-handy-some-day items. I hear he's of the clan-who-parks-their-cars-in-the-garage. What a concept!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day 2008

Real creative headline, don't you think? 'Cause I'm feeling all creative today.

Actually I'm simply stupified due to all the food I ate a short time ago. We were able to get together with the 'kids' and had a big ole' grilling fiesta...pork loin marinated Cuban-style (lime juice, orange juice, garlic and oregano), then sliced about 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick and grilled, along with a plethora of vegies done in my super-duper grilling pan, salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and the son picked up some potato salad and pasta salad to round things out. For dessert and in honor of Father's Day, my hubby's favorite: fresh peaches and vanilla ice cream.

Another one of those "last time we do this together" things. *sigh*

Here's a picture of hubby and son in the kitchen. Hubby is working on some of that yummy chimi.

Friday morning we picked up early and headed over to visit friends who live about 1-1/2 hours from here. ["Here" is currently Michigan where we'll be until June 23rd at which point "here" will become Indiana.] We had a great time with R and A who have become dear friends over the past four years. R was the pastor at the very first church we ever visited on deputation. He'd been a missionary in Bolivia for some years, not far from the border with Argentina, so he and the hubbs really hit it off and love speaking Spanish together.

Just about every time we get together with R & A, we play a card game known as Hand & Foot. Familiar with it? It seems everyone has their own peculiar rules and we just play by whatever rules the others want to go by. With R & A we usually play guys against gals and because it's as much about "luck" as skill, we take turns whuppin' each other. All in good fun of course. We played Friday night and since it was also R's birthday, we females decided it was only fair to let the guys win. Yeah, right! They whupped us good; normally the game has four rounds. We were so far behind after round two that we called it quits. No, we were not sore losers, we saw losing was inevitable and it was late and we were all tired.

And because we wanted to conserve our energy for Saturday's excursion to Saugatuck, which was very crowded due to a festival of some sort. But that just meant some extra vendors had set up shop in vacant lots and parks around town so that gave us more to look at :-) And some fine fish and chips was had by all at Chequers Restaurant, a Saugatuck institution.

We walked along the docks admiring the pretty big boats with names like "Nauti-Ness" and "The Office" and someone who's just as creative as me who named their boat "Boat".

We went to Oval Beach and walked along the shore picking up stones. A helped me find some really cool, very thin ones that I'm going to use to make a scrapbook page about our day.

It was totally a perfect day weather-wise and in every other way. Times that make special memories.

And what was most exciting?!

I can just see y'all leaning forward in your seats in anticipation...Well, let me tell you, A.Totally.Amazing.Experience! I found these:

Is the picture big enough and clear enough?

Yes Friends! What you see are five rolls of large, 55 gallon CLEAR PLASTIC GARBAGE BAGS!!! Woohoo!

I know, just too exciting for words, isn't it?

Okay, let's get real here. I honestly did get VERY EXCITED when I found these at a garage sale in Nashville, Michigan, on our way to Saugatuck. Nashville was having a little festival of their own with an antique car show, library sale (8 books purchased) and city-wide garage sales. We didn't actually mean to go through Nashville, but somehow ended up there. And we're always up for a good car show, library sale and city-wide garage sales. So of course we stopped!

I won't bore you again with our packing procedures, but when I saw BIG CLEAR PLASTIC BAGS I immediately thought of how much easier life will be going through customs if they can see what's inside the bags without us actually having to open the bags and LET ALL THE AIR OUT.

AND they were only $1.00 per roll. I knew I'd be needing to buy more bags anyway, and I'd pay a lot more than $1.00 at any store, including the Dollar Store, for the same amount of bags.

Wouldn't you get excited too? No? So maybe A was right. She said she didn't think most people would get quite that excited about plastic garbage bags. But then you didn't see the little happy dance she did when she found the rooster salt and pepper shakers. I don't think most people would get quite that excited about those either. *sniff* Each to his own.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The IKEA Experience

Some of the bloggers I read have recently discovered the wonderfulness that is IKEA. Having just been to IKEA three times in a one week period, and still contemplating several items that are enticing me to come back yet again and buy them, I thought if I wrote about it I'd have more clarity on whether I should or should not.

[Yes, another round of DMD (decision making disorder). But at least I'm NOT suffering from PDD (post decision dissonance) on what I have already bought -- so there's hope for me yet!]

So what is IKEA some may ask. Oh I do love to introduce newbies to the Greatest Shopping Experience Ever. Hey, what if the initials IKEA stand for the Swedish words that we translate Greatest Shopping Experience Ever?!

There are two sizes of IKEA stores: Humongous and Extra Ginormous (some stores have THREE levels!). WARNING: Not for the faint of heart. Do not stop if you do not have at least an hour. An hour will allow you to walk as fast as you can through the store from entrance to exit with absolutely no stopping and admiring the pretty stuff. And since that's clearly impossible, an hour is not enough time.

There are two exceptions: When you've been to IKEA multiple times, know it well and are there to pick up something very specific. Or unless you live there...

My firt foray into an IKEA came in 2004 when the daughter and I went to Pennsylvania to check out a college. D was organizing the homeschool prom for south central Michigan and we thought it was worth a three-hour-out-of-our-way trip to swing by the IKEA store just outside of Pittsburgh. We spent a couple of wonderful hours wandering around like country bumpkins in the city for the first time, eyes wide and mouths hanging open. It was Love.At.First.Sight.

The closest IKEA used to be in Chicago. But wonders of wonders! IKEA built a new store in Canton (near Detroit) in the last year or two. Oh happy days! It's still a couple hours away, but every time we're anywhere close for any reason, I try to talk the hubby into stopping.

And I'm finding IKEAs everywhere we travel! When I went to visit my sister in California we went to the one in Sacramento. She had never been to one and she was just as star struck as I had been. Actually, that's the way most people react.

One of the great features of IKEA is the child care offered to parents who might like to browse without the kiddies. Each store has a large, secure play facility with qualified staff. When you drop Junior off you fill out a form and receive a pager in case they need to get in touch while you're shopping. They do have a time limit as to how long the kids can stay in the play area and I don't remember exactly how long that is. But my sister's two little girls had a great time playing and didn't want to leave :-)

And while visiting Beth in Orlando we discovered a new IKEA store had opened recently. Both Beth and her DIL had been wanting to check it out so that's what we did last week! Both of them loved it, too.

The thing about IKEA is they offer a great variety of things for the house and, for the most part, it's reasonably priced. Remember my chair? It's a great place for folks just starting out and needing to furnish their first apartment. Or for someone who likes the sleek European look. Or those who are organizational freaks like me -- the bins, boxes and such are abundant and available in all kinds of shapes and materials. Bliss!

Since we were able to take an earlier flight out of Atlanta into Detroit on Tuesday, we had a "bonus" couple of hours which I used to swing by IKEA again. (We'd also stopped there on our way to the airport the week before.) By this last trip I knew exactly what I wanted and had a pretty good idea where to find it.

**side note** IKEA has some very smart marketing people. There is no direct way from entrance to exit. You are forced to meander all around, like rats in a maze, and in the process you end up seeing most of what they have to offer.

There were a few things I just loved, loved, loved and I'm pretty sure I won't find a better price anywhere. For things like this and this and this for my kitchen. With kitchens typically very small in most Argentine homes, having some wall-type storage will be helpful. And that spice rack will hold 15 of the spice jars, keeping my favorites at hand while cooking.

I'm SOOOOOO sad that IKEA is not in South America yet. So that's why I'm getting my IKEA fix now, along with the few items I think will come in handy in our new life. If I can make up my mind, that is.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Procrastinator of Paperwork

Am I the only one who dreads paperwork? Does anyone else put it off so long it's just plain ridiculous, not to mention painful? It took me ALL DAY LONG to finish the monthly expense reports. Yes, reports plural. 'Cause who on earth actually does them monthly?

The paperwork looms large...e-mails, working on a prayer letter, inputting the rest of the contact information into the address book on our Mac, thank you cards, appointee reports... Does.It.Never.End?! Yeah, I know it's not that bad but a girl has to have a little drama in her life.

So tonight we realized we need to get crackin' on some things. Last year when we went down for five weeks we stayed in the one-bedroom walkout apartment at the home of my future language tutor. And initially that's where we'll be staying this time but the cost will be different since now it will include Spanish instruction and other fun stuff.

Seriously, it IS fun stuff! Here's what I get to do (and try not to be so jealous, okay?):
~Cooking course: once a week (around 2 hours). Typical Argentine food from different regions. Main course and dessert taught by a professional chef.
~Outings (once a week Friday or Saturday). Visits to: Córdoba City (Jesuit area, university, areas of cultural interest, shopping mall); Estancia Santa Catalina, Jesús Maria, Colonia Caroya; Valle de Punilla (visit to a typical English town); Estancia Jesuítica Alta Gracia. Valle de Calamuchita (visit to a typical German town); Peña (place where people gather to sing and dance folk songs); Córdoba Main Theater

Now, the things I'm not too thrilled about...

...learning Spanish. After 2-1/2 years of college level Spanish, I understood not one single word when we first got to Argentina last year. NOT ONE WORD. I thought, "I've just wasted 2-1/2 years of my life!" And I wanted to cry.

But I did not. Not 'cause I'm a big girl, but because I was too busy to cry. Lands sake, but our co-workers kept us busy! Very high energy people! (I wonder how they'll adjust to working with pokey old me?)

And then by the end of our trip I was catching enough words that, although I couldn't follow the conversation, at least I knew what they were talking about. But I know how hard it's gonna be and I would by lying if I said I don't dread the language acquisition part. Marcela (my tutor) will work with me two hours every day and then expects me to do homework! She's expecting me to do things like read the local newspaper, watch the news on T.V., shop by myself, make phone calls... I'm counting on lots of folks spending lots of time down on their knees for me and the Spanish!

..."using the target language all the time" when on those fun field trips. *sigh* Suddenly I'm thinkin' they might not be so fun after all.

On the bright side, think of all the me-learning-Spanish posts I'll be able to write!

Anyway, we need to get back in touch with Marcela and finalize the details. And I'm not writing this post simply as a ploy to put off a little longer that bit of paperwork. I'll get right on it!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

En Route...

UPDATE: We were able to get on an earlier flight out of Atlanta! And we totally fooled the baggage handlers into thinking our suitcase had nothing but boring clothes so the tools came through just fine. As did all our luggage. Which is cool since I was afraid with switching flights the suitcases might decide to take their own vacation and go to New Orleans or somewhere.

My eyes are barely open and I'm mainlining the caffeine as we get ready to head to the airport. We have a looooooooooong layover in Atlanta. Okay, okay, only five hours but to me that's long. But I am prepared with a couple of books! Plus some work I can do on the computer that doesn't require internet. Trying to catch up as I'm several months behind on inputting new contact information (folks who sign up for our prayer letters).

We should be home by around 10 p.m. tonight barring 'unforeseen situations'. Which I am learning to take in stride 'cause they seem to crop up with great regularity. So you can't call them 'unexpected' as I'm expecting them all the time.

The D had a rough day yesterday; she was still pretty shook up. She made it back to southern Michigan mid-afternoon and had time to unwind (somewhat) and get a good night's sleep (hopefully) before taking care of some things this morning and heading back to Indiana where she's scheduled to work this afternoon/evening.

Last night we slept on hubby's latest creation; he built a platform for Beth's guest bed. He made it 16" high so she has lots of underbed storage now. But that meant the bedskirt would have been a mini-skirt. Fortunately Beth had a good amount of 5" white eyelet trim (not the ruffled kind) that I was able to sew along the bottom of the tailored bedskirt, making it the perfect length. And getting rid of the boxsprings meant getting rid of the squeaks too.

We love the whole platform concept because it means you only have to have a mattress, no boxspring necessary, and it gives you space to store things. Which is good when you have lots of stuff and not so much room. We're planning on having them for every bed we use in Argentina :-)

Ivan was able to use his new tools in the making of the platform. Beth gave him a set of DeWalt tools that brought a big ole' smile to his face! We've packed it in our bigger suitcase (fit in just right) with some clothes tucked around the edges and on top to disguise it, in hopes no one sees what's in it and decides to take them. We also took pictures in case something does happen. I mean, poor Amy Beth ended up in Memphis without any PANTS! I guess those baggage handlers liked her style. So we are praying our craftiness in "hiding" the big black box of tools with an assortment of underwear and cute little summer tops will do the trick and save the tools.

And since we used our suitcase for that instead of our clothes, and we only brought one little carry-on bag besides, Beth loaned us a duffle bag. Not wanting to haul even the little black wheelie bag all over Atlanta for five long hours, I filled it and then packed it into the duffle, adding all the rest of our stuff around it (duffle bags are cavernous!). Got it all in nice and snug and we think we're within the allowable 50 lbs. Sure hope so! If not I'll be unpacking the duffle bag at check-in, re-organizing lighter things into the black wheelie bag which we'll then carry on with us. Love the vagaries of travel!

And now it's time to actually commence with the traveling. See you tomorrow interlings!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Travels & Trevails, Daughter Style

"It was a dark and stormy night."
Add in an already emotionally fragile state, going west when she should have gone east (darn that mapquest anyway!), difficulty seeing through the pouring rain, and problems with her cell phone...can we say MELTDOWN?!

Not just on the daughter's part (who shall be referred to as "D" from here on out for the sake of brevity) either. This mom was having a hard time, too. Here we are in Orlando and she's in northern Michigan. Where it's dark and rainy and scary to be lost, and not too many inhabitants on the beaten path to stop and ask for help. No offense, northern Michiganders but you gotta admit, not much happenin' up there at any given time, but especially not at 11 p.m. on a Sunday night.

The D was maid of honor in a wedding up there on Sunday afternoon and she wasn't able to head out until after 9 p.m. which was already too late to get to the home of family friends in southern Michigan at a decent hour. She was emotionally and physically exhausted, NOT a good combination when starting out on a close to five hour drive by herself.

The sequence of events went something like this:
10:50 p.m. D calls in tears; she's clearly lost and pretty sure she's been going the wrong direction for almost two hours. The hubbs and I confer and tell her that we'd like her to find a hotel and we'll pay for the room but we want her to stop and get some rest. She's obviously in no condition to drive! Lady at the gas station says there's a Best Western nearby.

11:20 p.m. D calls, still in tears. She can't find the Best Western. The hubbs is googling away on the internet as I talk to D but before he can explain the B.W. is NORTH and she's driving SOUTH, our call is disconnected. We keep trying to call back but it goes straight to voice mail.

11:40 p.m. D calls, great gulping sobs at this point. Her phone had died! No car charger. She kept driving until she got to the next gas station where she's gone inside and plugged her phone in to call us. The lady at this gas station says there's a hotel nearby. Yeah, heard that one before. But the hubbs is actually looking at that one on the internet right then! So while I pray with D, he calls the hotel. Yes they have a room!

It's a small mom-and-pop operation. From the pictures on the internet, the kind of place I remember staying when we'd go on vacation in the 60s. The lady is very nice, especially when she hears the story. So we tell D to get on over there, it's very close, and get settled in and call us back.

11:50 Final call of the night from D. Unable to stop crying but in her room at last. We suggest a hot bath (she's soaking wet from the rain) and a long night's sleep. We tell her "Do NOT set your alarm! Sleep until you wake up!" Hopefully she'll listen.

Midnight we toddle off to bed, thankful for how God worked everything out in a way that made us as parents feel much comforted!

I've had several conversations with cousin Beth this week where she's mentioned how thankful she is for the support group she has during this time. Right here she's got her two sons and their wives, her co-workers at Pioneers and her church family at Northland. Farther afield she has her mom and dad, brother and sister, lots of cousins, dear friends around the world... I'm not exaggerating when I tell you Beth received literally HUNDREDS of e-mails and cards following Jim's death. From.Around.The.World. Everyone who's ever known Jim and Beth loved them, and took the time to let her know they were thinking of her and praying for her. What a blessing!

And she was sharing about a friend of hers. "Ann" (not her real name) is in her early 60s and is estranged from her family, with little or no contact with them, and she has few friends. It's a struggle financially, since she's unable to find steady work of any kind. Not being a believer means she has no church family.

Beth said that even with all she's going through now she knows she has so much more than Ann does. Jim died but she has the God Of All Comfort along with all these people who care about her.

And so does our daughter. She can rest in the knowledge that as a child of God she is loved and He will care for her. He has given her a large, extended support network. And we can take comfort in knowing that even though we're going far, far away, God has placed others in her life that she can call on in emergencies. Her brother, her uncles, many from our home church as well as the church she's attending now.

Can you imagine being all alone? To have no one to fall back on? Beth is concerned for Ann, primarily that she come to know Jesus. Because really, without Him there is no hope. With Him comes the hope of heaven and eternal life, and the Great.Big.Family.Of.God. -- people who will love you and help you no matter what. When your husband dies unexpectedly. When you're lost on a dark and stormy night. Thank you Jesus!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Chimichurri, Condiment for Grilled Meat

Across America you can almost hear someone shouting "Start your engines grills!" In backyards everywhere men are hauling out their trusty gas and charcoal grills to begin the summer ritual of creating shoe leather out of perfectly good cuts of meat and charring beyond recognition others. Women stand by with the appropriate sandwich buns and multitude of condiments.

In Argentina grilling is a huge part of the culture. It is called "asado" and the predominant meat being grilled is beef. Of which they grill about every part and that could lead to some amount of squeamishness, but my policy is "don't ask, don't tell".

Here in the U.S. we grill beef, pork, chicken, fish... We have found that chimichurri, a typical and very delicious Argentine condiment for beef, compliments ANY MEAT. It's full of garlicky goodness and as one person online described it, "'s like dragging your steak through the garden!"

Not hard to make, amazingly delicious. You can thank me later :-)

You can either put it right onto the meat (the preferred method at our house) or off to the side for dipping. Some like to marinate their meat in chimi before grilling. We don't but that's certainly an option.

The great thing about chimi (as we call it), is that you can make a big batch and it will keep in the fridge for weeks. Beause of the oil, you'll need to either get it out in time to come to room temperature, or if you're like us and never remember stuff like that, you can just warm it quickly in the microwave or set the container into a bowl of hot water for a while.

Once you've had chimi you'll never go back to A-1 steak sauce again!

Make sure you hop over to Dee's at It Coulda Been Worse for more wonderful recipes. What did we do before online recipe exchanges?! This is one of my favorite parts of blogging...good people, good times, good food. *insert contented sigh*


* 1 bunch flat leaf parsley
* 8 cloves garlic, minced
* 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
* 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
* 2 tablespoons of lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
* 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
* 1 teaspoon black pepper
* 1 teaspoon salt

Finely chop entire bunch of parsley, add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Florida Is Hot!

We arrived in Orlando on Wednesday evening and I think it was around 88 degrees. Yesterday it was up around 98. And humid! Whew!

We're enjoying the time with our cousin. Very different -- and difficult -- without her husband here. Have been sharing stories of Jim, remembering his funny quirks and what he meant to so many people. That's been good. When death happens so suddenly and unexpectedly it's like being at sea with the rudder broken and no oars. It takes time to assimilate the loss and get back on course. Because we were not able to come for the funeral, this time is just what we needed. To laugh and share and cry.

Someone gave Beth a book that I'm now reading. "How to help a grieving friend" by Stephanie Grace Whitson. EXCELLENT book! I'd recommend it to anyone whose friend or loved one has suffered a loss. I'm pretty good at saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. This book is helping me see what's okay and what's not. It's written by a woman who lost her best friend and a few years later her husband. She knows from whence she speaks.

I'll be back tomorrow with a recipe to share in the Saturday Stirrings exchange. I missed the last two weeks because we were traveling each Saturday. Looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. Not sure what recipe yet. It'll have to be one I've committed to memory since I'm not near my cookbooks or recipe file. Hasta manana!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Park Days

This is my first time participating in Works For Me Wednesday over at Rocks In My Dryer. Today she's chosen a theme which is near and dear to a mom's heart. What to do when summer vacation hits and the kids start saying, "Mom, what can I do? I'm bored!"

No doubt everyone will have loads of great ideas and I thought I'd toss mine into the hat as well. While my kids are grown I still haven't been able to get that ringing out of my ears yet.

First a freebie. This is not my main contribution to today's Hot Topic but I throw it out there for moms who might be clueless like me. There was this "Aha!" moment when it dawned on me that I could coordinate the kids' summer camps so they WOULD BE GONE AT THE SAME TIME. Granted that first year I realized it, the youngest was a Day Camper but that was still half of every day FOR A WHOLE WEEK that I had a mini-vacation.

So back to the regularly scheduled program...which was what I called Park Days. Not a complicated program at all. I simply invited my friends (which happened to be other homeschoolers for the most part) to begin joining me every Wednesday at the park. It was a come-when-you-can kind of deal and all summer long the numbers ebbed and flowed as we went on vacation, had family reunions, etc. Sometimes there would be just a handful and other weeks we'd fill the park.

We were always some of the first to arrive each Wednesday. 'Cause I wasn't big on having everything at the house in order before we left. We usually just got up, had breakfast, packed lunch and left. Some of my friends, however, made sure beds were made, houses were tidied, gardens they didn't get there until almost lunchtime. Some of us stayed all day (as in the equivalent of a school day), others came for the morning and left right after lunch, those that arrived later usually stayed later. See, not a complicated thing at all. What was consistent was the fun the kids had playing together and the moms had visiting with one another on those long, lazy days of summer.

Park Days were life-savers for me! Of course we didn't get anything done at home. But hey, we also weren't home to make more of a mess! I started this when my kids were wee little and continued it right up until they were too old to play in the park. (And confess that I sometimes still went after that without them, just for the fellowship with the other moms!) So if you're feeling claustrophobic and the kids are bouncing off the walls, call up a few friends and institute your own Park Days!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Rainy Days & Tuesdays...

Monday was beautiful and today it is raining. But I'm not complaining 'cause the rain, it doth keep the world green. Which is a good thing, 'cause we all know how I feel about green.

Doesn't an entire room in just green and white sound lovely? For years I've clipped or ripped pictures/pages of rooms out of magazines and put them into three-ring binders. And noticed my tastes have developed into a particular "design statement".

I love white. Especially a white kitchen. Which isn't so practical with kids, of course -- learned while wiping, wiping, wiping down the white cupboards year after year. But the brightness of a white kitchen makes me so daggone happy that all the wiping didn't really matter. Or the re-painting every few years. (Just cupboard door fronts, not everything, that would be ridiculous.)

A spa-like bathroom makes me sigh with contentment. Like the daughter's tiny bath. The soothing taupe and white are a perfect color combo for a bath. Although, a white bath with touches of apple green would be pretty amazing too, don't you think? Or white with soft aqua blue. Hmmmmm.

Yellow has always been my favorite color. Over the years we ended up painting almost every room in the parsonage some shade of yellow (Benjamin Moore #924 in all the main living areas). The only hold-out was our bedroom which was painted white back in '96 and then we added 8" wide pale shell pink stripes. 'Cause the bedding was pink and green. Which would have been changed too, but it was too hard to move the waterbed and re-paint.

But interlings, the pastel bedding has got to go. Oh yes, it does. 'Cause I found a gorgeous, luscious rusty red quilt and loads of matching clearance upholstery fabric for long curtain panels and more coordinating fabric to make pillow shams and a bedskirt. If possible we'll paint the walls a soft camel which is one of the coordinating colors (along with gold and a deep, dusty green). Lots of jewel tones which is a huge design departure, but one I'm looking forward to. New life, new look.

Ummm, confession time. I've known for four years that we should take bed linens, towels and so forth so have kept a lookout at clearance sales, white sales, etc. And not so good at keeping track of what we'd already bought. So now as we pack and list each item, comes the realization: there are SEVEN SHOWER CURTAINS! What was I thinking?! But they do provide a wide range of options :-) Swapping them out as the mood hits -- or the seasons change. Or something.

Also: an inordinate number of king size sheet sets. Not even sure we'll have a king size bed. Sure hope so since I am totally prepared for one (or seven). And that gorgeous rusty red quilt? Oh yes, it is a king size. We've had a king size bed since the early 90s and I do like the room to spread out. With the constant turning over and flailing about in the night, I'm pretty sure the hubby appreciates the space, too.

And the white towels? Because I like the spa look. And white is easy to wash in bleach to keep clean. Something like NINE or TEN SETS thus far. After buying THREE MORE on Saturday at the 50%-off-already-marked-clearance-items sale at Tuesday Morning I told myself "Stop! You must stop!" We'll see if I listen.

The daughter is studying marketing this summer. She just quoted me something from her book: "This feeling of post purchase psychological tension or anxiety is called cognitive dissonance." Uh, yeah!

The move is a scary one, but also one that affords my little designing heart a huge opportunity. Definitely taking my three-ring binders along for inspiration. Along with the seven shower curtains, numerous king size sheets and multitude of white towels. And all the other stuff packed in 87 boxes and still packing...

Monday, June 2, 2008

Random Photos & First Apartments

Our lilacs in Michigan bloomed about a month ago. Except for these "dwarf" bushes in front of the parsonage which just bloomed this past week. We haven't ever cut them back and they're now about 7 feet tall. So much for dwarf. But the blooms are lush and smell glorious and I'm hoping we can have this type of lilac in Argentina.

I just wish I could share the SMELL with you! It is so sweet and intoxicating. Maybe if you lean in a little closer? No? Sorry! *sigh*

For a few days I'm enjoying time with my in-laws and my daughter. Today the daughter and I ran to Goodwill for a quick check. Oh the loot I did find! Here are photos of two of my treasures. Notice that they both have green? The daughter and I have a thing for green. Two of her items were green as well. Oh the cuteness of this skirt just makes me want to skip! And the trim on these very nice, obviously-never-before-used pillow cases is too sweet for words.

The daughter has given me permission to share some photos of her cute little apartment (in her grandparent's basement, if you remember). The double glass doors in the kitchen and the window in her bedroom provide the only natural light but it's not bad at all.
I'm quite proud of how she's fixed up the space and made it her own. I doubt you can tell but she's got touches of green everywhere...on the kitchen walls, the kitchen chairs, cushions on the couch, the area rug in her living room, vases on the mantle, storage containers here, there and everywhere... Like I said, she and I have a thing for green.
Her fireplace is the primary heat source. For some reason the basement didn't get vented properly with the furnace ducts. Just makes her really appreciate that mattress warming pad we got for her bed last year :-)
The quilt on her bed is one I found on eBay but never used because she snitched it as soon as I took it out of the box. We both love the soft colors.
We went for the spa look in her bathroom. Very light taupe on the walls, white and taupe striped shower curtain, thick towels and a soft, loopy rug. It's tiny but very cute and functional, don't you think?

I rented rooms, not apartments, until I was married. Our first place was pretty nice -- also in his parent's basement apartment! (But in a different house.) We had two bedrooms and a bath in addition to an open living/dining/kitchen space. Plus it was furnished so we didn't have to worry about buying furniture, which was nice 'cause we were very poor college students. We took care of the house (two other apartments and the large yard) in exchange for our place. Not a bad deal! And it was less than a mile to the college.

So what was your first place like?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Sunday Blessings

Traveled back to Indiana yesterday and have enjoyed spending today with our daughter. Went to church with her, had lunch in her apartment and now we're sitting here and all three of us are on our computers :-) The daughter's taking two classes this summer, marketing (easy, she says) and Spanish (hard but handling it so far). She's studying this afternoon and just informed us that we are viejo. Yep, she's handling it just fine.

I want to share something we studied in Sunday School. But by way of explanation I want to go back to Friday evening when we were still at the parsonage and a couple of the young men from church dropped by. The guys got into a discussion of how we handle our conversation with people who do not speak the truth. One of the young men said we (as in Protestants in a historical sense) haven't always done this well. We immediately pounce and start expounding, often leaving the erring, sometimes just clueless, one reeling from our judgmental and *ahem* condemning tirade. And we all know how well that goes over and how "persuasive" are our arguments. His point was that if we'd just wait a while, allowing the relationship to develop to the point where the other person values and welcomes our input, we would be more effective. Someone else said we look at people more as projects than as individuals who need the Lord.

So fast forward to today in Sunday School when we talked about Romans 14. Well actually from midway through chapter 13 to midway through 15. But chapter 14 was the crux of the passage. And the upshot is that we are so quick to judge based on our upbringing or tradition rather than going strictly by Scripture. And the reason we started out in 13:8 was to bring home the basic truth that LOVE should take precedence over disputable matters. For me the key verse in this passage is 14:13 "Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way."

All this to say: I have often been guilty of passing judgment and too often I have been vocal in my disapproval. But by God's grace I'm learning to change that. But it ain't easy! My first inclination is to pounce. I mean, what if they can't see and they just need someone to point out the error of their ways?! Why then, telling them is the truly Christian thing to do, isn't it? Or at least that's how I've rationalized it in the past.

But you know what? God is showing me that to be like Him is to be gracious. To be like Him is to be loving even with unlovable people. And to leave the judging up to Him. We need to be concerned about our own actions and attitudes and, if y'all are anything like me, I've got enough on my plate without adding other folks' stuff to the mix! So if I start sounding high and mighty at any point, remind me of this. Okay?