Wednesday, July 23, 2014

¡Vaya con Dios!

Bags are packed.
Months of preparation have culminated.
We are ready to take flight.
There is so much more I would tell you, but I really instead should go to bed.
Please be praying for our team every single day.
Pray for safety.
Pray for unity among the team.
Pray for wisdom.
Pray for boldness.
Pray for compassion.
Pray for cultural and language barriers to be shattered.
Pray for hearts of Nicaraguans to be tender.
Pray for us.

And pray for our amazing, wonderful family at home who is sacrificing much in order for mommy and daddy to be gone for 12 days.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Micah is 17!!

I almost forgot!  Good thing I was looking through pictures and remembered...Micah is 17!  We celebrated his birthday last Friday.  It was a hot day, and I didn't have the air conditioner on in the house.  Whoo...I feel sorry for the wonderful friends who came over and helped Micah sweat it out.  :)

 Ok, where to start?  At 17, Micah...
~has his driver's license and drives a 1994 Toyota Camry (older than he is!)
~is going into 11th grade, but is also enrolled at St. Cloud Technical College (PSEO)
~lives for hanging out with friends
~loves to play frisbee golf, raquetball, ultimate frisbee, just about anything he can get a group of friends together to do

 ~is a fairly picky eater, but has learned to be polite and reports of all kinds of things he eats at friends' houses that he won't eat at home
~loves pizza, hamburgers (no ketchup!!!), brats, and just about anything sweet
~requested Totinos Party Pizzas for his birthday meal with other "snack/junk food"
~said it didn't matter what kind of cake I made, but in the end said that it was "pretty good"
(it was a vanilla "funfetti" ice-cream cake)

~only let his momma hug him because it was his birthday.  Shame! 

Things I love about Micah:
He's able to do quite a bit around the house (when he's home).
He is able to have mature conversations and express mature thoughts, especially about things from the Bible.
He is developing a solid theological base and knowledge of the Gospel.
He is bold to share his faith and invite people to church.
He loves to read both fiction and non-fiction.
He takes our words to heart (even if it seems like he's not listening).

Happy Birthday, Micah-man!  I love you to the moon...and back.

About the cake:
[I divided the cake batter between two pans to make two thinner layers.  Later I used one of the clean pans and lined it with plastic wrap.  In this pan I placed a layer of softened vanilla ice cream, which I put back in the freezer to harden.  After it was frozen well enough I easily removed it from the pan by pulling up the plastic wrap.  I layered it between the two cake layers.  I put it back in the freezer to get cool again.  I frosted it, cooled it, then decorated it, and kept it in the freezer until we were ready to serve it.  It wasn't super genius, but for some reason it was just delicious this way.]

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Nicaragua Update

It's getting closer to time to travel!!  We leave for Nicaragua 3 weeks from today.  I'm pretty excited.

All four of us have visited the doctor for immunizations and medications.  I still need to go back for my hepatitis shot, but first the doctor is testing my immunity to see if I need both A and B.

We are meeting with the team on a weekly basis.  During these meetings we have a time of Bible study, with particular focus on overcoming cultural differences.  We have been working out the particulars of Vacation Bible School--crafts, games, memory verses, etc.--who is doing what.  Mitch and Eden are working on a team doing crafts.  They will plan what crafts they are doing each day.  We will purchase some supplies and carry them with us.  Other things we will purchase in country.  Micah and I are on a team teaching memory verses.  I was really surprised to learn that Micah had signed up for (or been assigned) this team.  Out of the four of us, he speaks the least Spanish.  In fact, he is not exactly a confident speaker at all.  God doesn't make mistakes, and this just might be the perfect way for Micah to learn some Spanish.  One thing is for sure--those who have gone before told us that we will learn the verses in Spanish as well or better than we know them in English.  I like memory work, and I love Spanish.  I am looking forward to being on this team!  When Mom (Janet) came to visit a couple weeks ago, she brought me some supplies and some great ideas for ministry in the country.  I have my suitcase already stuffed, and I know I'm eventually going to have to make some decisions about what I cannot take with me.  ::grin::  With each week's meetings, I feel like I have more clarity and gain realistic expectations for the trip, and that is helping as I plan.

I have been practicing Spanish every day.  I find it easier to use an app on my phone called Duolingo rather than to make it to the computer to use Rosetta Stone.  Hmmm.  I have put a little effort into learning the Spanish version of Sovereign Grace's song All I Have Is Christ, called Mi Vida Es Cristo.  It is feasible that we could teach this song to the church in Nicaragua.  It is a song we sing regularly in our church, so I think it is neat that we could share the song even though in different languages.

Fundraising is going really well.  The plane tickets cost more than we anticipated, so I upped our thermometer to reflect that.  The amount is very similar to what we wrote in our support letter, but is higher than the $6,000 I originally had on here.  Still, you can see that we are very close to our goal!  $560 to go.

In our support letter Nicaragua was only a portion of our summer missions.  Mitch, Micah, and Eden also participated in Operation St. Cloud.  That is our local missions work, and it took place in June.  I'm waiting for Eden to write a blog post about her experience there, but it may be a day or two before she gets it done since she is feeling sick now.  I know that Micah and Eden both found it a worthwhile and amazing experience.  Mitch didn't put in many hours there, but he was present nearly every day shuttling kids back and forth to the sports camp location.  We praise God for the many things that went well during that week!

Final Update

More pictures...

 Tirzah has a wiggly tooth!  She lost it a couple weeks later...I guess I need to get that "after" picture.  The funny thing was, she actually "lost" it.  She noticed that it wasn't in her mouth any more.  No blood, nothing.  So I think she swallowed it.  :)

 While Micah and Eden were gone at Operation St. Cloud a couple weeks ago, the younger boys really had to step up and fill in as helpers.  Malachi helped me make lunch one day.  :)  Hopefully Eden will get a blog post written about their week at OSC, and I will link it up!

We have some friends who do BMX racing.  My experience with BMX is limited to a video game I used to own for the original Nintendo Game Boy.  Wow, I just dated myself!  Our friends invited Zeke and Josh to come use their bikes and race at the "olympics" night...a free night at the park.  They had so much fun.  I loved watching them.  In fact, I found myself wishing I could take a turn around the track.  Whee!!  So much more fun than a video game!

 Josh used a magnifying glass to burn his name in a piece of wood.  Nice!

 Eden was practicing with my zoom lens and took some pictures of birds.  This one was pretty awesome--you can see the worm in the bird's mouth.

 Last night Malachi got to go have a turn on the track.  He didn't actually race against anyone since it was a "practice" night.  He got many turns around the track, though, and loved it.  He was so excited.

Since we have had so much rain lately, the drainage ponds are much bigger than they should be.  The boys have had fun playing and exploring.  One day they brought home a bucket full of tadpoles.  I thought it would take weeks for them to transform into frogs.  It turns out it only took a few days.  Too keep the tadpoles alive, Zeke switched the water several times a day.

Within a matter of days the frogs grew back legs, then front legs.  One morning we noticed them climbing on the rocks, then within hours their tails were pretty much gone and they were climbing up the walls of the enclosure.  It was crazy how fast it went! 

Sometimes the best learning is not done in textbooks or at prescribed intervals.

One thing I can't find is pictures of the garden.  I'm really puzzled, because I know I took some.  Hmmm.  Oh well, I will get some today!  I planted a couple varieties of tomatoes, sunflowers, cucumbers, peppers, okra, corn, and radishes.  I did find a picture of my first harvest of radishes.  :)  Everything is doing really well, except my tomatoes appear to have a blight (I suspect septoria leaf spot).  I told Mitch that I will not plant tomatoes in this bed again next year.  I know we have had this problem for a couple years now.  So I will have to treat the ground if I want to plant there again.  We want to take this box apart and build narrower boxes anyway, so now I have motivation (I just need new dirt for the tomatoes!).

Oh, I suppose I am going to write at least one more blog post, so this one is not the "final" final post.  In the meantime, I am not alone in being sick.  Caleb has been nursing an earache all week long, taking frequent naps and running a low-grade fever.  The doctor checked him out and says it's swimmer's ear.  He now has some drops but he's still in pain and relying on a steady dose of ibuprofen.  Eden got up this morning and proceeded to fall asleep on the couch.  She, too, is running a low-grade fever.  It looks like we may have to make new plans for the 4th of July if these kids don't perk up soon!

Mercy is 15 months old!

Sweet little Mercy.  June was a difficult month for her!  We weaned (and she was not happy about it).  The weather got hot, and brought back her eczema in full fury.  Overall, she has not been a happy toddler, but we still get some smiles and fun out of her.

 Scratching is a constant thing for her.  She scratches her elbows, her neck, her ears, behind her knees.  She has eczema everywhere.  :(

 We have been dog-sitting for a friend of ours a couple days a week, and Mercy adores the dog.  She was enjoying a cupcake, then enjoyed having Moose lick her fingers clean.

 Mercy loves playing with her baby dolls.  One day I found her in the middle of the kitchen floor with several bibs lying all around.  She was trying to get them on her baby.  :)

 While we worked on weaning, we took many, many walks in the stroller as a diversion.  It is now her favorite way to fall asleep.  She does well sleeping at night.  She typically sleeps with Eden, and I keep a baby monitor so I can help Eden out if necessary.  If she wakes, she usually quiets down again within a few minutes.  This is a huge accomplishment since just a month ago she was waking every 2 hours and required nursing to go back to sleep.  She is still not good at self-soothing, but she doesn't have many options since we are not nursing.  The positive side to weaning is that I now feel confident about leaving her at the end of July to go to Nicaragua.  Oh, and let's not forget how much more sane I feel now that I'm getting sleep on a regular basis!

 She is covered head to toe in bumps and eczema.  She has had a little impetigo in some spots.  We had to do 10 days of prednisolone and an antibiotic to get it under control.  We are now using a topical steroid, benadryl as needed, and zyrtec daily.  

 I am trying to make some new cloth diapers.  I think I started them back in May...and I'm still trying.  Mercy is a big "help."

 Eden was putting her down for a nap on Sunday when she noticed that Mercy had some hives around her eye.  She brought her to me and I quickly gave her some benadryl.  It was so scary!  She was not having difficulty breathing, so I just kept an eye on her.  When she woke up later the hives were gone but her eye was still swollen.  I never saw a bug bite, but I suspect that might have been what it was.  With all the eczema and spots all over her body all the time, it's just so hard to tell.  Poor baby.  :(

Overall, I think I feel so sad for Mercy that it's been a hard month.  She wants her momma all the time, and not many other people can console her.  On the positive side, Mercy has become a really good eater.  I am so relieved about that!  She tries lots of new foods, and seems to be eating well.  She has a high motility like Obi did (ie: she poops a LOT, and the food obviously moves through her faster than it should), but I expect that will slow down over the next year as her body matures.  If she had a favorite food I think it would be chicken.  She also loves yogurt, ice cream, cereal, hot dish, veggies, and more.  I am thrilled that she has figured out that food will satisfy her hunger.  She saw the doctor last week and besides the eczema, there are no problems.  She is my smallest baby at 15 months, weighing in at 19 lbs 3 oz, but she is gaining!

Mercy is also very active.  She wants to be in on the action, wherever that is.  She hates it when the big kids are having screen time.  She wants to be following them around, doing whatever they are doing.  She wants to go where they go, and doesn't want to be left out.  She can climb on anything, and she climbs on everything!  We have to watch her closely--in fact, I never imagined I would spend so much of my summer just following her around.  ::grin::  I love it.

Big Summer Project

We decided to do some pretty big things with our house this year.  Mitch's dream is to own a wood working shop.  We have some nice tools that my dad gave to us a few years ago, and we have never really had the space to be serious about anything.  We considered moving, but it isn't financially feasible at the moment.  So we began to look at what we could do to our own home to make the dream a reality.  I even (crazily, but seriously) suggested he turn our bedroom and office space into a shop.  My dad's shop was in the basement of my grandmother's house, so why not??  ::grin::  We have a small garage (big enough for two cars), but it has ALWAYS been full of junk, with no room to move.  Add to that the major problem that our roof over the garage leaks.  Badly.  Staying in this house means that we MUST fix the roof--not a cheap thing to do.  As we explore financing options (we have applied for some special loans through MN HUD/HRA programs), Mitch has already begun working on building storage space in the garage.  We started by moving our chest freezer and extra fridge out of the garage and into the house.  That took some shifting in my thinking through the purpose of rooms in our house, and their present locations seem a little unconventional, but I realize more and more every day that there is not much conventional about our family anyway.

 Sewing machine moved out of the school room, chest freezer moved in.

Fridge moved into my office along with the sewing stuff.  Actually, this is not a bad set-up, except that the fridge is so far from the kitchen I'm wondering how much we actually need it.

Next came purchasing and planning.  Mitch researched and planned out a cabinet and shelving system to maximize his space.  He spent a lot of time on this (the boy knows how to USE pinterest!!!) so that he wouldn't be redoing it all later.

Mitch shopped a lot at the Habitat for Humanity's thrift store called the ReStore.  He has a "friend" there who often gives him deep discounts.  He pulled out some amazing cabinets, boards, cabinet tops, etc, for crazy good deals.  He was also blessed to receive some good deals shopping Menards' bargain section. I have searched everywhere for a "before" pic and can't find one.  This can give you an idea--you could barely walk around stuff in the garage:
That cabinet front and center is one of Mitch's awesome finds--it has ball bearings in the drawers.  One drawer needed some screws and some minor adjustments.  By design, each drawer can hold quite a lot of weight.  He paid $5 for the cabinet.  I got that jack that Tirzah is holding on to at our church garage sale for $35...another awesome deal.

He also has to work around the leak in the garage until we can get that fixed.  Our weather has been wetter than normal this spring/early summer, which means we have had water in the garage often.  So we work around it.  He started on the back wall, away from the leak.

Josh, Malachi, and Zeke all learned how to use this saw.  Micah, Caleb, and Eden have also spent their fair share of time out in the garage.  :)



He is making great progress in spite of the difficulties!  It is amazing to look in the garage and see the difference.

 Mitch is going to build cabinet doors to cover these new shelves.  The doors will have storage in them in useful places.  He can't wait to get it all organized!

 Mitch bought this cabinet at an auction a few years ago for $2.  He found the countertop at ReStore.  He had it on a cart full of stuff, and the lady said, "How about $5 for the whole cart?"  He cut it to size and used the leftover to make the backsplash.  Amazing.

Soon Mitch will work on wiring new outlets in the garage to power all his tools.  He can't wait to bring over the big table saw!  We have some things in storage, and he plans to spend some time reorganizing that as well.  We will be able to switch some things out, and that will be really nice!

Once the roof leak is fixed, he will build another wall of cabinets above a workbench.  Then he will remove the plywood that is covering the outside wall of the garage so he can insulate behind it.  We will pull all our things out of storage in the attic above the garage (good thing I already purged the clothes by nearly half!), and insulate that area as well.  The tricky part for me will be finding places to store that stuff, but Mitch assures me he has it covered.  Finally, we will purchase an inuslated garage door (already have a great source--Alternative Garage Door Repair) and choose a heating method, so Mitch can work (play?) in the garage all winter.