Thursday, June 25, 2009

Flying Solo

Well, Miguel is off 'gallivanting' around Venezuela while I stay home and 'hold down the fort'. It's not my favorite thing, to be left at home, but honestly I'd rather be doing that than actually traveling with Miguel! I still feel like I haven't recovered my energy and stamina after moving and traveling so much during the last few years and I'm quite happy to stay home this time, thank you.

But when Miguel is gone, it becomes really obvious to me how much he does for me around the house and with the kids! A case of absence makes the heart grow fonder?! :) He often washes dishes...he sweeps the kitchen/dining room/living room (all sort of one big area) several times a day...he helps me with the never-ending task of laundry...and he helps corral the kids...and MORE! I really can't complain that he is not involved in our lives! So, here I am, missing him; flying solo while waiting for his return...which is scheduled for July 5th. Not really that far off, but seems like a long time to me!

His purpose in going to Venezuela is to visit family/friends and deal with his bank account there. While the account isn't exactly frozen, he is not being allowed to do anything with the money in it except in person. Kinda hard to accomplish when one does not actually live there! But it's a good time for him to travel and he's excited that he will be able to see his entire family and bring his Mom, Delia, and little brother, José David (now 16), back for a visit (Lord willing!).

The plan at this point is for Delia to stay with us for about a month, but to try to keep José David with us long-term, if it is possible paperwork-wise, etc. JD, as we like to call him, lived with us for a year there in Venezuela when he was younger and we see him as being a part of our family. Because of the circumstances at that time, it wasn't possible for us to take him back to the U.S. with us, but now that Miguel has his U.S. citizenship, he can apply for JD's U.S. paperwork...all very exciting stuff! :D

There will be significant challenges for both us and him as we adjust to adding another member to the family and having a teenager in the house (suggestions, anyone?!). JD will also need to adjust to different ways of doing things, our expectations and boundaries are quite different than what he's been used to! And he will need to brush up on his English, although he already does well, he's not been using it on a daily basis like he will here.

José David

The biggest challenge for me while Miguel is gone is caring for the kids...seems like things can go from calm to chaotic in a heartbeat! :( We got out of our routine there for a couple of days and it seems like everyone's behavior has gotten a bit out of control as I've been working to "reclaim the house" (as a friend put it so aptly) and hopefully by tomorrow, things will be going much more smoothly. Next week is VBS at our church, which will help us pass the time as well...

And you'd think after having other kids, I'd remember how challenging it is to have a two year old! Well, almost two, his birthday is coming up next month...but no, I seem to have forgotten...Jkaile oh so cheerfully goes from making one disaster to another, getting into the cabinets, my make-up, unrolling toilet paper, flinging toys here and there, breaking things, playing in the toilet (and using a cup to pour toilet water around the bathroom!)...this last week, he discovered how to carry the stool around to different places and reach the unreachable...just look at the expression on his face when I caught him at the counter this time!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Odds and Ends

Check out this post for a few pictures of what I did yesterday evening with my friend Carrie! It was spite of having to drive in some pretty crazy traffic. Apparently I'm adjusting to driving like a local because I did some pretty interesting manouvers...LOL! I haven't been able to get out of the house much lately, so I really did enjoy our time.

This morning Miguel found a half-grown parakeet fluttering around in the yard and saved it from getting eaten by our black lab, Cora! We don't know where it came from because it can barely fly, but we put it in the cage with our other two parakeets where it promptly parked itself in the food container and ate for a looooong time...poor thing. Seems to be adjusting well to his new home, though...

Shilo over at My Place of Peace and her family arrived in Paraguay today after a very long trip including an unplanned overnight layover in Brazil. I am excited for them as they move into their new house and begin their new ministry at the MK school there in Paraguay!

In other news, Miguel is finalizing the plans for his upcoming trip to Venezuela! He is planning to fly to Venezuela on June 24th and return on July 4th...he would have liked to stay longer, but he doesn't want to leave me here with the kids alone for very long, bless him! :D It wasn't possible $-wise for the whole family to go this year, but maybe another time. The plan is to bring his mom and little brother for a visit. Delia (my MIL) will be returning to Venezuela in August, but we're hoping that it will work out for José David (little brother, age 16) to stay and live with us. Now that Miguel is a U.S. citizen, he can apply for JD's U.S. paperwork so that he can truly become part of our family and travel with us wherever we go. We are really looking forward to their visit...none of Miguel's family has met Jkaile yet!

Recently, Micah was moved to make a donation to this ministry in Paraguay so that five year old Rodrigo could get a soccer ball...we were happy to advance Micah this money because we're so proud that he would show this kind of compassion and generosity. He had originally wanted to just give Rodrigo one of our soccer balls, but it's kind of hard to get it from here to there, thus the donation route...anyway, so Micah has been working to earn money to pay us back. This morning he is "babysitting" Jkaile for me...and sure enough, there was even a poopy diaper to change! :o LOL!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Meditating on Psalm 63

I really should be in church today...but Jojo woke up feeling sick (when he's not interested in breakfast, I know it's for real!) and Jkaile has turned into The Crank because he's got a molar that's about to break through the gum. I really do feel sorry for The Crank, even though he's quite getting on my nerves, because he's so obviously in pain! He's hungry, but can hardly stand to eat and he keeps crying and pointing to his "owie" mouth. :( I've kept him somewhat entertained with movies and hard candies (something he seems to be able to handle), ice cream and playing with the hose outside. We even gave Coco and Cora a bath! (Cuzco is over guarding a friend's house while they are gone for the summer, but he doesn't like baths anyway). Coco wasn't too sure about the whole bath thing at first, but then she calmed down...and Cora couldn't wait for her turn, she kept shoving Coco over to get under the hose!

So, in spite of caring for Jojo and The Crank, I wanted to get a spiritual feeding in there today since lately I've felt myself getting a little "off" (you know the signs...irritability, struggling with emotions, etc.) and needing a few Words of Encouragement. Immediately, Psalm 63 popped into my head. Probably because today is the Sunday that the Bible study ladies at our church were going to recite the entire psalm in front of the congregation; we've been working at memorizing it for weeks! And while I can't say that I'm too sorry about missing having to get up in front of everyone (memorization in my second language doesn't come quite as easy as in the first!), I was looking forward to the chance to be more involved with the ladies in this way. But oh I present to you Psalm 63, definitely one of my favorites!

Psalm 63 (NIV)
A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah.
1 O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
6 On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
7 Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.
8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
9 They who seek my life will be destroyed;
they will go down to the depths of the earth.
10 They will be given over to the sword and become food for jackals.
11 But the king will rejoice in God;
all who swear by God's name will praise him,
while the mouths of liars will be silenced.
Salmos 63 (RV 1995)
Salmo de David,cuando estaba en el desierto de Judá.
1 ¡Dios, Dios mío eres tú! ¡De madrugada te buscaré!
Mi alma tiene sed de ti, mi carne te anhela
en tierra seca y árida donde no hay aguas,
2 para ver tu poder y tu gloria, así como te he mirado en el santuario.
3 Porque mejor es tu misericordia que la vida,
mis labios te alabarán.
4 Así te bendeciré en mi vida; en tu nombre alzaré mis manos.
5 Como de médula y de grosura será saciada mi alma,
y con labios de júbilo te alabará mi boca,
6 cuando me acuerde de ti en mi lecho,
cuando medite en ti en las vigilias de la noche,
7 porque has sido mi socorro y así en la sombra de tus alas me regocijaré.
8 Está mi alma apegada a ti; tu diestra me ha sostenido.
9 Pero los que para destrucción buscaron mi alma
caerán en los sitios bajos de la tierra.
10 Los destruirán a filo de espada; serán presa de los chacales.
11 Pero el rey se alegrará en Dios;
será alabado cualquiera que jura por él,
porque la boca de los que hablan mentira será cerrada.

Friday, June 12, 2009


Horchata-the Central American version of a rice-milk drink!
I found numerous recipes online for horchata, so I imagine that just like with the chicha, there are many ways of preparing this delicious and refreshing drink. Horchata is very common in Mexico and Central America and along with jamaica (a drink made from dried hibiscus flowers-looks like red Kool-aid), are two "new" drinks that we've enjoyed trying here.
I did find one recipe that called for cooked rice, but that seems to be the exception, most horchata recipes call for blending the rice uncooked. I'll have to conduct a poll with my Mexican friends to see how they are accustomed to preparing horchata in their homes. Although sometimes I get surprising responses, such as "Oh, I've never made it!" Like yesterday, I was showing a friend some pictures of Gracia and I making flour tortillas...she's Mexican and admitted to having never made tortillas in her life! Hmmm...I guess I made the mistake of assuming all Mexicans can make tortillas! We grew up making tortillas in Colombia because they weren't available there...but, I seriously back to are a couple of recipes that look promising...
Horchata Recipe #1

Soak one cup of uncooked rice in water overnight.
Discard water and put the rice,
1 can of evaporated milk, and 4 cups of water
into the blender. Blend.
Add 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla,
and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon.
Strain through a cheesecloth or sieve.
Serve over ice.
Horchata Recipe #2
1 cup uncooked rice
5 cups water
1/2 cup milk
1/2 T vanilla
1/2 T cinnamon
1/2 - 2/3 cup sugar
Pour rice in blender, blend about one minute.
Let stand for 3 hours (or overnight).
Strain rice water into pitcher, discard rice.
Stir the milk, vanilla, cinnamon,
and sugar into the rice water.
Chill and stir before serving over ice.
If you try either of these recipes, let me know how they turn out! I'd love to hear back from you...
I got a kick out of this picture I found of
horchata-in-a-bag! Reminds me of times
we've gone to the neighborhood stores here that sell
soda-pop in glass bottles only.
If you want to leave the store with your soda,
you get it in a bag! With a straw, of course...
I also see that blogger is once again mysteriously squishing all of my lines together even though it doesn't show it that way as I type...I don't think I'll ever figure this thing out!

What Happened to the Neighborhood?

One day last week, we woke up to no Internet connection. And of course, everything I wanted to do was on the Internet! Like checking email, reading the news, finding a recipe, etc...after a couple of hours, we realized the problem was with the phone lines when we tried to make a call only to hear a horrible noise coming over the lines! So Miguel went to the office and called the phone company. Later in the afternoon, the technicians came and got to work...turned out that someone had cut the phone lines across the corner from our house! Huge chunk missing! This seems to be a common ocurrence here and the stolen lines are sold for the metal? Not sure...but anyway, it took a couple of hours and a few technicians to get our service back.

Another strange thing that happened last week was a car that mysteriously appeared outside our gate. We noticed it because it was parked in such a position as to be in the way when we parked the van first we thought it belonged to one of the guys that work next door at the carpentry shop. They don't usually leave their vehicles out on the street overnight, however, so we quickly realized that it didn't belong to them. Miguel called the police, who assured him that they would come by to check it out. A couple of days later, when the police still hadn't checked it out, one of the guys that work next door found a telephone bill in the car and was able to contact the owner of the car. He came that same day to get his car...he said that it had been stolen, along with some money that he'd had in a small case inside. Since the thieves were able to get some easy money, they probably decided just to ditch the car instead of selling it or breaking it up for parts. What bothers me is that they left it right outside our house!
Another friend mentioned that her mother's car was stolen and found in this neighborhood as well. Good reminders to keep our eyes open and the gates locked! And continue to trust God for our safety...

Thursday, June 11, 2009


When I hear the word chicha, I get a picture in my head of half a coconut filled with fermented corn or pineapple drink, because that's what my experience with chicha was in Colombia...but in Venezuela, chicha is a very popular non-fermented rice drink. Think rice pudding in the blender with sweetened condensed milk on top! Yummo! Miguel got a hankering for his beloved chicha yesterday, so I found a recipe online and it was declared a success.


1 cup rice
5 cups water
salt to taste
3 cups whole milk
1 can sweetened cond. milk
1 can evaporated milk
Boil the rice in the water, add salt to taste.
When the rice is tender, blend together with
the whole milk (mine didn't fit into the blender all at one time).
Add the cans of milk, blend more (can reserve
some of the sweetened condensed milk for the topping).
When cool, serve with chipped ice.
Top with sweetened condensed milk, cinnamon,
chocolate powder, and/or chocolate/colored sprinkles.
There are quite a few variations of chicha in Venezuela,
so feel free to experiment!

Some very happy customers!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Trip to the Zoo

On the last day of school, John Michael, Jkaile and I went to the zoo with the kindergarten class. It's not a large zoo, but it had a surprising variety of animals, including lions, tigers, and bears! There were a lot of peacocks and chickens wandering around, which Jkaile enjoyed here are a few pictures of the zoo...
Zoo entrance

the Kindergarten class (plus a couple of siblings)

Jkaile was a little overwhelmed at first...

The kids got to pet a baby jaguar that was barely 2 weeks old.

Me with a python...

Gracia and Jojo with one of the bunnies from the python cage...
they don't realize it's lunch for the python. :(

Feeding the animals...

One of the peacocks fluffed out right in front of cool!

And what's a trip to the zoo without a little excitement?
Right after I took this picture, Jkaile stuck a finger in
the horses mouth and got it bit...

...then this monkey stole Gracia's entire bag of peanuts!
We didn't even try to get it back, the sign says he bites.

I missed Jojo's scuffle with the baboons, but fortunately
a couple of the dads were there to save him...
here he's showing me where the baboons
stretched out his shirt!

And to be honest, we were quite close to the animals...
this black panther could have easily taken a swipe
at us through the fence...but only the baboons seemed
interested in trying anything...

And at last we came to the pool!
It was perfect for the kids...not very deep and it
had lots of cool slides.

Gracia and Caleb...

I'm not a huge monkey fan, but this little guy
caught my attention on our way out...he wasn't
interested in the food, just wanted to hold my hand!