Friday, July 31, 2009

Last of the Nicaragua Pictures

I haven't been feeling very bloggy lately... sorry about that. Tonight though, I feel like sitting down at the computer and pounding away a few posts for the next couple of days. Still not back to editing my photos into beautiful pieces of art though, so these are all pretty much straight-out-of-the camera (except for some cropping).

These are the last of our photos from Nicaragua that I want to share with you. I'm just putting them all in one post though so I don't overwhelm the next week with old pictures.

On the first day, we took a tour of the city. Charlotte rode on the baxi (bicycle taxi) with me for most of it, but she did insist on walking for part of it.
This is one of the neighborhood boys who followed along on the tour. He really took to Charlotte and wanted to be with her the whole time. He even offered to carry her around a few times.
See how Charlotte loves riding the baxi? The look of pure joy over her first bicycle ride? After this trip, she asked to go on a baxi ride every time, well, every time she breathed. :)
On Sunday afternoon, we visited the farm of Gertrudis's uncle.  While waiting for everyone else to be ready to leave, Bruce and Charlotte took one of the 4-wheelers for a spin.
She sure did spend a lot of time in this backpack carrier. Best $5 I ever spent at a thrift store!!
On our cultural day, we visited Vulcano Masaya.  It was a long trek, but I walked all the way to the top, even though I was 7 1/2 months pregnant. And I am making no apologies for my frizzy hair, I earned every frizzy strand!
Here is a view from the top of the stairs.
 And the happy family posing at the top of Vulcano Masaya.
After all the volcano and related-museum excitement, Charlotte was tuckered out and took a nap in my arms. I had hoped this would happen since we had a long day planned, but was still surprised it did!
After a 1-hour bus ride, we finally made it to Granada for a boat ride. We saw many beautiful island homes and many very simple island homes. 
During the boat ride, we pulled up next to an island inhabited by over 15 monkeys. Our boat captain was friendly with one in particular, Lulu, and once Lulu got on board, she went straight for
Charlotte wasn't too sure about all this monkey love...
But she did seem to warm up after a minute or so... and when Lulu left, she kept asking for more.
On our final morning, Charlotte sat on a real, live horse, for the first time ever. She really liked this animal adventure.
And then we had a finaly goodbye with a neighbor of the hotel's. This nice lady doted on Charlotte all week and Charlotte really seemed to take to her. 

Hope you didn't mind all of the random photos, it feels good to finally have found the time (and will) to post them! If you missed any of the other Mission: Nagarote news, don't forget to check out the team blog - Mission:Nagarote.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My Mom's Scrapbook - Part 6

 I hope you are enjoying this trip down my memory lane... it has been fun for me to consider some of the stories each of these pages represent. I am also hoping that, by sharing some more stories, Charlotte will know more about her Momma as a young'un.

I loved my dance classes as a little girl. In fact, the top right picture is one of my favorite ones from my childhood. It isn't clear to me why since clearly there were issues in the matchy-matchy department. Maybe though, I like it because I look so skinny??? :)

After the first couple of years of dance class, I took a break while my life was reorganized with a new dad and new places to live. Finally, in 6th grade, I got to take two more dance classes at Just for Kicks, in Deltona, FL. Please, please, don't laugh when you see the lovely makeup and coke-bottle glasses... I didn't have much of a choice.

The dance goodness continues next week with photos and stories from my high school years as a member of  "Reflections!"

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Today's Shopping Trip

During Charlotte's nap time, I ran through my list of usual coupon/sales websites and came up with my plan of attack for both Publix and CVS. I didn't really need much, just a few staples and then I had extra money to play with. I try to keep my grocery bill under $60 a week right now, considering our currently unemployed situation.

At Publix, I spent $38.81 and got the following:

8 boxes of Frosted Mini-wheats cereal, 2 loaves of bread, 2 bags of Doritos, 2 boxes of reduced sugar Pilsbury cake mix, 2 cans of Muir Glen tomato sauce, 1 can of Muir Glen tomato paste, 1 avocado, 6 peaches, 1 gallon milk, 2 bags of mini chocolate donuts, 2 boxes Starkist Seasations, 1 package of sliced cheese, 2 packages of Lunchable Jrs, 4 boxes of Yoplait GoGurt, and 1 dozen eggs.

When I looked at my Publix receipt, I realized that one of my B1G1 Free items didn't ring up properly, so my total should be $3.86 less. I'll take it back and fix it later. Usually I am pretty good at catching these mistakes, but it was the first item rung up and I was still sorting my coupons.

At CVS I spent, $1.08 and got the following:

2 boxes Kashi cereal, 2 boxes Kashi granola bars, 2 composition books, 2 Clarol Herbal Essence Totally Twisted Mousses, 1 box of tampons, 1 Colgate toothpaste, 1 bag of chocolate (for my secret stash), 1 bag of fruit and nuts mix, and 1 cough medicine.

Here too, I combined sales and coupons, only I also got to use ECBs to lower my final cost. Rolling ECBs really is the best way to take advantage of their sales. In the end, I earned another $11.96 in ECBs to use next week, and still have some ECBs left from last week's shopping trip.

And finally, Bruce is making me, put this picture and story up... the cough syrup I bought is only good for children over 4 years old. Charlotte won't be four until 2011. But I checked the expiration date and it doesn't expire until December of 2011. So, if she gets a cold sometime during the last 4 months of the year, we are set!

Friday, July 24, 2009

34 Weeks Pregnant

It is hard for me to believe that I will most likely be holding a brand new baby girl in my arms in just less than 6 weeks! I keep looking around the house and wondering what I need to do, and waiting for that nesting instinct to set in so I can get it done. Instead, I feel like taking 2 naps a day! Thank goodness Bruce is home and I have that luxury as needed.

Babin (just the pre-natal name for our little girl) is a very active baby. She moves around a lot and has recently been getting the hiccups on a daily basis. It feels kind of funny since they are way down low. That is a good sign though, that the baby is in a heads down position.

For a couple of days, I've had some lower pelvic pain towards the end of the day. It isn't round ligament pain, but if it keeps up, I'll be sure to ask my midwife about it at our next visit (in 2 weeks).

Speaking of midwife visits, I met with another midwife at my birthing center this week. Her name is Liz and she is British. At my appointment, I weighed in and had lost 1.5 lbs. I thought she might grill me about it, but when she learned I was in another country, sweating a lot and walking almost every where, she was fine with it. That puts my total weight gain at around 14 lbs. I am right on target for what I wanted to gain throughout my entire pregnancy (15-20 lbs).

At just about this point in my 1st pregnancy, I wrote about how much I love being pregnant. And I can honestly say, I feel the same way. Even after 2 years of being a parent and all the ups and downs that come with it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My Mom's Scrapbook - Part 5

Vroom, vroom... Apparently, I was on the move as a little girl. And I guess I haven't stopped since then. From roller skates to my first Big Wheels, I was quite the mover... until that tortoise. If memory serves me right, that was at Cypress Gardens. They don't let you sit on the tortoise any more though, if they are even still open.

As a freshman in high school, my parents gave me a bicycle. I think it was for riding back and forth to my best friend Jenn's house. They must have got tired of me asking for a ride. Eventually though, I rated high enough and my parents and I bought a car together. Or rather, they bought me a car and I gave them some money to make it appear that I was being responsible. Thar car, a 1989 Plymmouth duster, led to my first part-time job as a cashier at Winn-Dixie.

There's another good story to go with that job... you see, my biological father was a Winn-Dixie store manager somewhere in St. Petersburg. But I lived in Deltona. So, I went to the local Winn-Dixie and asked that store manager for a job. I told him he should hire me because my father was also a store manager. Well, he hired me. Later I asked him if he ever double-checked my story and he said no. Figured I must have really wanted the job if I was willing to make that kind of story up.

So, if you found me riding different forms of transportation boring, maybe you'll be more interested in my childhood dance pictures next week?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My Mom's Scrapbook - Part 4

Let's continue our trek through my scrapbook, the one that is supposed to remind of who I am.
Somehow, this 2-page spread never got finished... I'm not sure why exactly (care to pipe in Mom???), but it is supposed to be about my birthday parties growing up. I think I look like a pretty cute kid on the first page here and am not really regreting the fashion choice, since there is a pretty good chance my mom picked it out in the first place.
And on this page, at the top, we have a picture of my 10th birthday party. My parents made a big deal out of it because it was the double-digits. I had a small sleepover with a lip-syncing contest. I mostly remember picking a Michael Jackson song (it was 1987!), cutting the finger tips off my dance gloves, and then getting in trouble.
And in the bottom picture, was the park party (maybe 7 years old?), where I got my pink boom box radio! It was soooo.... cool! Then, my mom "stole" it and made us chase her around the park until we caught up. Or was it that we caught her when she ran out of steam? I had that pink radio forever and only gave it up when the batteries got all acidy and corroded and it became a cute paperweight.
Next week I get to share photos of all my various modes of transportation!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Few Pictures From Saturday

Today Charlotte participated in the Children's Carnival a little more than usual and had fun making a coffee filter butterfly with the other children. Later, she found the extra markers in our hotel room and colored almost her entire right arm purple. Fun times!

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Hanging out with a new friend.

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And here, I am learning how to make quesillos, which is a type of Nagarote cheese. Bruce took some video in which I demonstrated my master cheese braiding skills, but you will have to wait until after I am home to upload it.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Answered Prayer

Confession time. I had been feeling pretty useless here in Nagarote. It seemed to me that I was spending most of my day experiencing the culture or taking care of Charlotte, and very little, if any even, of sharing the Gospel in an eternally valuable way. Now, part of this might have been because Charlotte wasn't feeling well and needed some extra TLC (which I was HAPPY to give), but the other part was that, without a translator available consistently, I hadn't been able to share with the children or adults around me about why I was here.

So yesterday, I poured my heart out to Bruce. And then this morning, I poured it out to God (I know, wrong order). In my alone time, I prayed and asked God to make me useful here. Even if it was in ministry to my own team. I just needed to see why I was here.

And God is so awesome that not less than 30 minutes later, he answered that prayer... and then kept answering it all day!

During our morning group time, another team member recalled a conversation she and I had the day before. In it, I had given her some practical advice that it was a good thing to do social work, pass out toys, clothes, candy, hugs, etc... but that if they didn't know WHY we were there, then all those clothes, crafts, and toys, were of no eternal value. I told her we needed to tell them we were doing these things because Jesus loves us and because he loves them.

Without that knowledge, our gifts are useless. No one else saw my tears, but I knew her sharing that story this morning was God's way of letting me know I was being used. Now, she has made sure the entire team is certain to make it clear WHY we are giving these things away to meet the practical needs of Nagarote.

Everyone learned to say Jesus Christo te amo, or Jesus Christ loves you. It isn't much, but we pray that by sharing the love that Christ has for these people, it will be easier for them to see Christ's love in us.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Thursday's Pictures

Bruce decided to give one of the bicycle taxi guys a break today and offered to take him for a drive around the block. Fortunately, there were no high hills because those are tough on these bikes. He said the hardest part of his time as a cabby was trying to turn the corner!

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Here he is at the end of the ride, still smiling.

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Charlotte blowing bubbles with Nee-Nee in front of the hotel.

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See, there are pregnant women in Nagarote too! This is Liz and she is 7-months pregnant. Liz is the daughter of the family that owns the hotel.

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And before I knew it, Charlotte got to sit on a motorcycle for the first time. I had hoped it would be her Daddy's, but she was up and on the bike in no time. They even taught her how to use the horn!

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Some More Random Photos

No real order here, but as I've downloaded some photos from my teammates, I thought I'd share a few more with you.

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First Full Day in Nagarote

Here are some more quick pictures to show you about our day. As usual, you can see and read more at our team blog, Mission: Nagarote.

Hanging out in the open living space in the front of our hotel

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New friends at the train station in town.

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Seeing the turtles (tortugas in Spanish) that live by the oldest tree in Nagarote. She is being held up by one of the rickshaw drivers. We alo learned how to say "turtle" in Spanish sign language.

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Bruce visiting a market this afternoon to pick up some more fruit for Charlotte and some crackers for himself. I was napping with Charlotte and missed the shopping trip.

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And finally, a picture from this afternoon showing the grandparents how happy Charlotte is!

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