Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Malakai is walking! And climbing.... and getting into so much mischief.

A couple days before the girls and I returned home from Guatemala Malakai took his first steps. I fully expected that to happen since he was close to taking some steps before I left. He took 4 steps two days before we came home. After I was home he continued to take 2-4 steps between furniture and toys. Then about a week and a half ago he increased the number of steps to about 10. Malakai is very proud of himself and his new ability to walk. I think he finally discovered that walking makes it much easier to carry stuff around. So now he's almost always holding something while taking a few steps. 

As I was putting groceries away this morning Malakai pulled the chocolate covered pretzels out of the pantry and walked half way across the room while holding them.

Malakai also loves bubbles! If you don't let him have his own bubble wand he will throw a fit.

Climbing up on our dining table is another of Malakai's new accomplishments. We have to make sure that all chairs are completely pushed in otherwise he will squeeze into the smallest spot and worm his way up onto the table. This morning Nate took a picture of Malakai attempting to climb the back of the dining chair. Definitely not a good idea on Malakai's part.

Outside he climbs anything he can find. Tree stumps (left by the previous owners), our slide, or the kids' picnic table.

One afternoon I lost Malakai while we were in the back yard. Layla needed some help and while I had my back turned Malakai disappeared. I then spotted him inside. He noticed that I still haven't fixed the screen so he just pushed the screen aside and followed Sanaa inside. Once he saw that she wasn't doing anything interesting he climbed back outside.

Sanaa and Layla have been wanting to work on their school books (kindergarten and preschool). Any time the girls work on something at the table Malakai finds a way to climb up and "help" them. Sanaa has another kindergarten assessment next week (Sept 5). The first assessment she had was to place her in one of the kindergarten classes. This second assessment will be more thorough and give her teacher an idea of where she is academically when she begins school on Sept 9. Sanaa will be in the AM class and her teacher is Mrs. Wolf. This Thursday we will be going to school to meet her teacher at something called Lemonade in the Shade.

Last week we spent time with the girls' friends Lexi and Brynli. (Layla and Brynli are going to be in the same preschool class! Both girls are very excited.) We went to a couple different parks. Malakai really enjoyed himself and climbing on all the play structures as well as going down the slides. He really doesn't have any fear right now.

Malakai's first time "driving" the shopping cart. He loved it! However, he would not stay seated very long and kept climbing around. The silly seat belt didn't hold him in and he would wiggle his way out.

One evening as I was cleaning up the bathroom after bath time I heard Sanaa yell, "Hey mom! Come see what we're doing with Malakai." I found the girls giving Malakai rides around the kitchen in the laundry basket. He was laughing and giggling. Once he got tired Sanaa then pushed Layla for a little bit.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Trip to Guatemala - pt. 1, Trying to get there

Our trip to Guatemala was amazing. We've been home almost 2 weeks and I still think about our time there a lot. Sanaa and Layla continue to talk about Guatemala and the friends they made. I'll do several posts on our time there but I won't be putting up every single picture I took. I plan to make a special Guatemala book for Sanaa and Layla where I'll share all the pictures and all the stories I can remember.

Getting to Guatemala was a challenge and we had many obstacles put in our way. The obstacles began months before we even started packing. When you run into obstacles it is really hard to determine whether it is Satan trying to discourage you or God warning you. It seems that it's only through hind-sight that you know for sure why those obstacles were there. In our case, I strongly believe that it was Satan doing his best to discourage, frustrate, and stress me out.

Earlier this year I wasn't even sure the trip would happen. The team that my dad had hoped to assemble fell completely apart. My dad, Sanaa, Layla, and I were the only ones left. Everyone else had dropped out for one reason or another. I had conversations with my dad about whether or not we should cancel the trip. But we didn't cancel and continued to move ahead with plans that the four of us would go.

Three weeks before we left all three of my kids got sick. Yep. All three of them were sick at the same exact time. Things like that just don't happen. It was the longest week of my life. I had so much I needed to do but was dealing with sick, grumpy kids and making doctors visits. 

At the same time Nate's car broke. We took it to the mechanic but there were so many things wrong with it that we did not feel that putting money towards it anymore was the best use of our money. It didn't help that his old car was a Saturn and parts for it were becoming more difficult to find. So the same week the kids got sick we also became a one car family.

The week before I left, Layla accidentally spilled water near my computer and the computer died. So I was also computer-less. Thankfully I had backed everything up a few days before so I didn't lose much.

And then it was time to finally fly to Guatemala. We arrived at the airport in plenty of time and had no trouble getting through security. Everything was going pretty smoothly. But then the announcement was made at our gate that our plane was having some mechanical issues and we would be delayed. At first we were told the delay would be 6-7 hours. All the passengers got in line to try and make other arrangements. My dad got in line while I called the 800 number. I talked with the lady for a little while and pulled my dad out of line since it looked like there was no way we could make our connection. My dad talked with the lady on the phone and decided that since there were no other flight options that would get us to Dallas in time to make our connection we would just wait until our plane was fixed.

Three hours later our plane was ready. The mechanics had the part they needed in Portland so they did not have to wait for the part to come from Dallas like we were originally told. Thanks goodness! We were finally on our way. We boarded and headed to Dallas. 

My dad sitting with our carry-on luggage.

Our plane arrived at the gate! Sanaa and Layla were so excited to see the plane.

Unfortunately, we still missed our connection in Dallas by about an hour. We didn't really expect to make the connecting flight but still hoped that some how we might make it.

The airline gave us vouchers for hotel rooms and food. Nate's parents met us at the airport and drove us to the hotel. We dropped our bags off and then headed out to dinner. Sanaa and Layla were very excited to see Papa Gene and Gramma Carol, but Sanaa was a little confused. When she saw them at the airport she excitedly said, "You're in Guatemala too!?!" Haha! She thought that Papa Gene and Gramma Carol had flown to Guatemala and met us there.

At the hotel I realized that the girls were once again confused when Sanaa started looking for the kids bedroom. She saw the "big people" beds and then wondered where she was going to sleep. Layla commented on what a nice house Gene and Carol had and it was at that point I realized they thought the hotel was Papa Gene and Gramma Carol's house. Oops. We got it all straightened out.

The highlight of our hotel stay for the girls was getting to use a hair dryer for the first time after they took their bath.

The next morning we ate breakfast and then check out of the hotel. Our flight from Dallas to Guatemala wasn't schedule to leave until 4:50pm so we spent the morning with Gene and Carol. They took us to their house so the girls could see it again and then we went to a new aquarium at Grapevine Mills Mall. That mall has changed a lot since we lived there. It was pretty cool seeing the aquarium and the girls really enjoyed that.

Sanaa and Layla were spoiled by Papa Gene and Gramma Carol and also got to enjoy their first carousel ride.

Our flight to Guatemala was on time and we boarded on time. The plane pulled away from the terminal and taxied to the end of the runway. And then we sat..... and sat..... and sat.... and sat. Half an hour later we finally took off. The pilot informed us that he had to wait on a balance check (number of passengers and luggage weight). This was something that he should have had before we even left the gate but apparently a computer malfunctioned.

We were half an hour late getting to Guatemala. We met Tom and Rickie outside the airport. They would be with us all week and we had a great time getting to know them. They took us to a fast food chicken place for a quick dinner and then to the seminary where we spent the night.

Our first night was spent in Guatemala City. The girls and I began to get settled in for the night. They were quite tired but still in pretty good moods despite all the flight delays. I opened our big suitcase that we had checked and suddenly the girls screamed. There were ants all over our clothing. Sanaa and Layla ran to the next room to get my dad to show him. There wasn't anything I could do since it was nearly 10pm so I closed the suitcase and shoved it in the farthest corner.

Then Layla began crying and screaming that ants were biting her. I pulled her clothing off fast and found some ants on her. She had sat next to the suitcase as I opened it and since we didn't realize ants were inside I thought nothing of her sitting next to the suitcase.

I got the ants off Layla and pulled out the last pair of cleaning clothing I had for her from our carry-on luggage. She sobbed and cried that she didn't want to be there. I dressed her, tucked her in bed, and she immediately fell asleep.

Sanaa and I had no more clean clothing. While in Dallas we left our checked luggage at the airport and just had our carry-on luggage with us in the hotel. I had pack pjs and one extra outfit for each of us in the carry-on. (I actually packed 2 extra outfits for Layla since she has a way of getting quite dirty). So Sanaa and I had to wear the same clothing the next day. Sanaa was a trooper when it came to the ants and didn't mind at all that she had to wear the same clothes.

The next morning we got up so we could meet Tom and Rickie for breakfast. We had half an hour before we had to meet them so my dad and I drug my large suitcase outside to inspect the ant infestation. We started going through the outside pockets and didn't see any ants. As we moved deeper into the suitcase we found a few more. But the majority of ants were concentrated in the large, bottom compartment where all of our clothes were. There was no food or anything there besides clothes and to this day I have no idea how the ants got in there or why they were in that section of the suitcase.

We closed the suitcase and walked over to Tom and Rickie's apartment only to discover that we were an hour early!! Guatemala is on central time, but they don't observe daylight savings, so they were actually on mountain time.

We helped Rickie load the computers and other items into the van and then we headed off for breakfast. They took us to a restaurant called San Martin which was inside a mall. It was good food. I had fried plantains for the first time and loved them.

My first breakfast in Guatemala: scrambled eggs on top of tortillas with cheese inside, black beans, and fried plantains. Yum!

Since we were at a mall, there happened to be a kid area right next to the restaurant and the girls had fun climbing on the different riding toys. Sanaa sat in what looked like a UFO.

Layla pretended to drive a car around and would buckle her imaginary baby next to her. Sanaa tried to climb in next to Layla but Layla wouldn't let her since her baby was sitting there.

After breakfast we drove back to the seminary to get our luggage and meet the Cyr (pronounced Sear) family. The Cyr's would be joining us and Tom and Rickie for the week. The 10 of us piled into one large van and we headed to Coban which was a 4-5 hour drive. The drive was beautiful but for the first time ever Layla got car sick and threw up 3 times while we drove. Once we arrived in Coban at the Bible Institute where we would be staying Layla was fine. The fresh air did wonders for her. I think the curvy roads we had to travel on is what upset Layla's stomach.

So, getting to Guatemala and our first couple days there we over came a lot of obstacles. However, I was also able to see ways in which God had worked.

1. My checked suitcase was almost 4 pounds over weight when I weighed it at home. So I moved the girls shoes into the carry-on luggage and two sets of clothing for Layla. I also had all of the things the girls would need for bed in our carry-on luggage as well. This meant the girls shoes, night time blankets, and a few clothing was ant free.

2. God put together his own Work & Witness team. We flew down thinking it would only be the four us plus Tom and Rickie. But God brought Monte, Bethany, Bryan, and Nkele to join us. It was a great group of people to work with.

Over the next few weeks I'll share more pictures and more stories from Guatemala.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Just checking in

I know many family members are waiting to hear about our trip to Guatemala and that is coming. I promise. I'm just swamped right now and have a big to-do list where I've had to prioritize things.

The MOPS program at our church is getting ready to start back up on September 11. Two days after I arrived home from Guatemala I found out one of the other MOPS leaders would not be able to return this fall. We only had 3 of us leaders and now we're down to 2 of us. We do also get help from our Mentor Mom and Children's Pastor, but a lot of the detailed stuff (such as editing the documents to include in the welcome packet for the moms) falls on me and the other leader. So we're scrambling to get stuff done before the first meeting.

Along with that, I'm getting ready for another consignment sale that begins on September 5. Nate asked why I can't just skip this one and the answer is because at the fall sale I can sell the winter clothing. They don't accept winter clothing at the spring sale and I'd really like to get rid of the winter clothing the kids have outgrown. I don't want to hang onto this stuff for another year waiting for the next fall sale.

I've also been busy taking the girls out to meet friends for play dates. I can't really keep them cooped up all day since they start fighting and getting into mischief.

On top of that, Malakai has yet another ear infection. He's had it for about a month now so we're doing ear drops with an oral antibiotic to try and get rid of the infection once and for all. We just treated an infection in his left ear back in July and now he has one in his right ear. The poor kid just can't get rid of them, even with tubes!

Also, Nate and I are now sharing a computer. Layla accidentally gave my lap top a small water bath the week before we left for Guatemala. She apologized for breaking my computer but as Nate put it, a few drops of water managed to hit the sweet spot where the fan was. The fan then sprayed those few drops all over the logic board short circuiting everything. The computer was dead. Since Nate teaches every Sunday, he typically gets priority with the computer when he needs to get his lesson done.

Oh, and we're still a one car family. We were going to buy a van from one of Nate's co-workers and Nate actually got the van while I was in Guatemala. However, he took it into the mechanic to get an inspection and the mechanic found so many problems that we returned the van. Nate's co-worker didn't realize so much was wrong with it but there's at least $2000 worth of repairs to make on it.

So, we're doing a juggling act around here. I hope things settle down soon. But I do promise to get some Guatemala posts up. I really want to share about our experiences and show you all some pictures.

Thanks for being patient!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Mt. Hood vacation, pt. 4 - Timberline lodge and random pictures

After we spent a few hours at Trillium lake we left and drove over to Timberline lodge. Nate and his parents had never been there. There was still some snow on the ground (although quite dirty) and the girls loved that. Malakai wasn't too sure about the snow and I realized that this was actually his very first experience with snow. We didn't get much more than snow flurries during this past winter and since Malakai was only about 6-8 months old during the winter he had no idea what snow even was.

This was the best picture of Malakai and I with Mt. Hood in the background. He wasn't too happy that I was holding him since he really wanted down so he could explore.

Malakai touching snow for the first time. He didn't play with it for very long and lost interest. I'm pretty sure it was because it was cold to the touch and he didn't like that.

And finally here are some random pictures that didn't really make it anywhere else that were taken while we were at Mt. Hood.

Sanaa loved looking out the window at the birds during meal time. She would get distracted fairly easily and ask me what kind of bird was out there. I rarely knew what the bird was.

Sanaa hiding in the ferns. Can you see her?

And then there were three kids hiding in the ferns.

I also took some pictures of me with each kid. I realized I'm rarely in photos and figured I should start taking some pictures of me with the kids.

Mt. Hood vacation, pt. 3 - Trillium Lake

On of the days while at Mt. Hood we drove to Trillium Lake where we had a picnic, walked around, and let the girls play in the water. It was beautiful and the girls were not ready to leave when it was time.

Gramma Carol tried to get Malakai to walk a little bit but he was not happy about it.

We saw a lot of ducks swimming and the girls were able to get fairly close to them.

Sanaa pretending to fish in the lake by using a stick.

On our walk we came across some large stumps. Sanaa said this was another castle for them to play in.

Nate and Malakai with Mt. Hood in the back ground.

I didn't have the girls swimming suits along so I let them swim in their clothes. I had packed extra outfits for each of them. They had a great time and Sanaa asked me to pack her swim suit the next time we go to the lake. I wasn't expecting it to be so warm up at Mt. Hood so I didn't even think about packing their swim suits.

Malakai hanging out in the shade and playing in the dirt.

It looks like Sanaa and Layla are swimming. However, the water was shallow enough that they could walk on their hands. They had fun pretending they were sharks coming up to get us.

A shot of Sanaa and Layla with Mt. Hood in the back ground.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Mt. Hood vacation, pt. 2 - hiking and the great outdoors

While at Mt. Hood we got to spend a great deal of time outside hiking and exploring. Sanaa and Layla enjoyed our short hikes but really enjoyed playing in the stream near our cabin the best.

All set with sunglasses and a walking stick for our first short hike.

We borrowed a back pack carrier from my sister-in-law and Malakai actually enjoyed riding in it.

The first trail we tried didn't get us very far since it was quite muddy but we still had fun exploring around our cabin.

Sanaa and Layla were fascinated with all the streams near us.

This is the bridge just to the side of the cabin we stayed in that went over a stream. It was quite narrow.

This is the stream under the narrow bridge that Sanaa and Layla spent a lot of time playing in.

They also had some "boat" races down the stream and used pieces of wood that floated.

We didn't let Malakai play near the stream but there was a fire pit area on the other side of our cabin that Malakai enjoyed playing near. He was really fascinated with a log that had a crack on it. He discovered that some things were small and could fit in the crack and spent a lot of time experimenting on what fit and what didn't.

He also played in the "castle" as Sanaa called it. It was a group of trees that created a fort like atmosphere.

On many of our hikes Malakai took the opportunity to nap on Nate.

Layla was a lucky girl and got a piggy back ride from papa Gene when she got tired of walking.