Monthly Archives: July 2008

Rambling Update On Life

This summer has flown by.  Nothing has turned out quite how I’d expected — which, I’ve learned, is just how my life always goes.  

We’ve gone swimming several times in the pool.  We’ve gone to the zoo and played in the splash park many times.  We’ve had company — a big group of company.  

We took an unexpected trip to WV and back again, via VA and SC.  We’ve walked to the farmers’ market.  We’ve gone to the library, though only once because I had trouble screening books for the girls while keeping Jackson and Griffin where they belonged (as in – not running all over the library).  

We’ve had friends in and out of the apartment nearly every day.  We’ve made cookies.  We’ve had a lot of smoothies.  

We’ve cleaned and organized and sorted and gotten everything where it really needs to go.  And then we’ve put everything away over and over and over again because we do have six children who like to take things out of their places.  

We’ve watched movies and eaten popcorn.  We’ve played a lot of Wii.  We’ve spent of lot of time learning to live in an apartment, and I think we might still be learning that.  

We’ve used a lot of sunscreen, and we still got some sunburns.  

The children have bounced in a lot of those inflatable bounce houses because we live beside a park, and every time there is an event at the park, those bounce houses pop up.  

We celebrated the 4th of July with 150,000 other people and watched 3000 fireworks go off over the lake behind our building.  We ate carnival food and listened to live 80’s rock music.  Silas even danced with me while we waited for Daddy to get the funnel cakes.  (And yes, more bounce houses!)

We’ve learned to deal with daily afternoon thunderstorms. 

Caleb and I have studied phonics and practiced reading.  Even when one or both of us weren’t having a great time.  

The children went to VBS.  The girls are going to another VBS now and have worked hard all week to earn money for the offering, money for children in Haiti.  (I’m proud of them.)  

We have also spent a lot of time trying to learn self-control and kindness and how to get along. (I might have that lesson down by the time the children leave home. 🙂 )  

We have spent a lot of time learning how to cope with Tourette Syndrome times two.  And  since Tourette Syndrome is not the same from day to day in one person, it is very unpredictable in two people.  (Rindy, I’m sure I could learn a BUNCH from you!)  

Now, we’re preparing to leave town again.  We have plans to visit many people in four or five states and a few churches over the next three and a half weeks.  Then we will return home just in time to start school.  I am looking forward to the normal routine of fall.  The children and I all do best when we have a schedule forced on us.  

So, when I haven’t been blogging this summer — that’s what I’ve been doing.  Life.  I’ve also been keeping a list of things to write about when I do have time.  Maybe once we settle back into routine, I’ll write all those posts.  Now that there are only about five of you reading . . . 🙂  

Enjoy the last few weeks of summer.  And if you want, leave a comment telling us all what memorable things you’ve done this summer.  Has your summer gone exactly how you planned?

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Fajita Soup

Holly, ask and ye shall receive.  🙂  

I think I posted it a year or so ago, but I’ve made some changes and here it is again.  I’m really bad at writing recipes and I never make it exactly the same way twice, so I hope you understand all this.  And this recipe is for a HUGE pot of soup.  Some of you may want to halve it.  We have this for one meal and then for leftovers.

Fajita Soup

ingredients:

chicken — I usually use about 5 or 6 of those frozen boneless, skinless breasts, but if you want it really meaty, use more

1 or 2 packets fajita seasoning mix  — I usually use 1 1/2 packs

1 cup water

cilantro, fresh or dried, probably 1/8 to 1/4 cup or until I get tired of cutting —  I like to use fresh, but I have used dried

garlic, about 1 tablespoon — I use the wet kind in the jar because it’s easy and flavorful 

butter or margarine, about 2 or 3 tablespoons 

red onion, 1/4 to 1/2 an onion, cut into tiny pieces  — for the onions and the peppers, it really depends on your personal taste.  Not everyone in our family loves these, so I do about 1/4 instead of a 1/2.

red pepper

green pepper

yellow pepper

orange pepper    — or any combination of these colors of peppers — again, 1/4 or 1/2 a pepper cut into tiny pieces

1 cardboard box of Swanson’s chicken broth 

1 family-size can of cream of chicken soup

1 large box Velveeta cheese (or store-brand) — I think it’s 32 oz.

16 oz. cream cheese — melt this in microwave before adding so it blends in better

large bag of Nacho Cheese Doritoes

 

directions:

cut chicken into bite-sized pieces 

Mix fajita seasoning mix and water and pour over chicken

Marinate for at least 30 minutes, but the longer you marinate, the better the flavor

After marinating time is over — In large stock pot, melt butter or margarine.  Add in cilantro and garlic and saute’ for a few minutes, stirring almost constantly.

Add chicken to stock pot and cook until thoroughly cooked, probably 15 minutes.  Stir frequently.

Add in onions and peppers and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Pour in chicken broth and cream of chicken soup.  Stir.  

Add in cheeses and stir well.  Cook on medium, stirring often so it doesn’t stick!  (It will stick if you don’t stir it a lot!  I speak from experience.)

After the cheeses are all melted, turn heat to low or simmer and cook some more, still stirring often.  You could serve it right now, but if you cook it a little while longer, the soup will have more flavor.  

I serve this with Doritoes crumbled up in each bowl of soup, like crackers.  

*You can also add salsa or other vegetables.  

This soup is delicious! And perfect if you have a cold or sinus infection.  🙂

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One year ago . . . .

. . . I was in Brazil.  

I am looking over my journal from that trip.  

I missed my children a lot while I was gone.  We said goodbye to them on June 22, and I didn’t see them again until July 5.  That’s a long time for a momma to be away from her children.  The day we left, I wrote this in my journal — 

It was difficult to say goodbye to the children today.  Rachel cried, worried that something could happen to us.  Lauren sobbed, loudly.  She clung to me, and Patrick had to peel her off me and carry her to the car.  I cried after they pulled away. . . . 

I know I am doing what God wants, and I know I have an important role here with the three teenage girls.  I also know this will be good for our marriage.  But it is hard to leave the children.  I miss them so much already.  Lauren said on the phone that Griffin was saying Momma and Dadda a lot.  I hope he doesn’t forget me.  

I think the toughest part is feeling so out of control.  I cannot do anything to protect them.  I have to trust God.  It’s a good reminder that I’m not the one who protects them anyway.  . . . 

You know, that was very true of that trip.  Being separated, on different continents, in different hemispheres, made me feel so helpless and very out of control.  I don’t really like for our family to all be in different places.  I feel safer, more secure, when we’re all together.  So that was a major stretch out of my comfort zone.  It was a great lesson in trusting God and a needed reminder that, even when we’re all together, I am not the one who keeps everyone safe anyway.  

I went to Brazil because Patrick believed both of us should go.  I went out of honor and respect for my husband.  And I’m so glad I did!  What good memories I have!  And now, as a missionary wife hosting teams of youth, I appreciate even more the things I learned from the missionary wives in Brazil.  Jan had hosted many, many teams of people over the years, and I sure did pull from her example as I hosted a team last week!  I could not have known how God would teach me things on that trip that I’d need now.  I still don’t even know all He will do in the future with those experiences.

I do know that our hearts are knit together with the hearts of the people in the small church there.  As God has given to us, we have shared with them.  We are family with them.  And that could not have happened the same way if only Patrick had been there.  

I wrote prayers in my journal during those days in Brazil.  One of the prayers I wrote was Please use me.  Don’t let this trip be a waste.   I wanted the trip to make a difference in me and through me.  If I was going to go so far away from my babies for so many days, I did not want a bit of that sacrifice wasted.  

I assure you.  God is faithful, and He has not wasted a bit of it.  I am still realizing ways He is using my experiences in Brazil to teach me and move me and make my heart more like His.  

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Random Thoughts On Living In Florida

We’ve lived in Florida for nearly 7 months now.  Hard to believe.  Anyway, I have some random thoughts about living here. 

*****

This one is obvious.  It’s beautiful here.  I look out my window at the palm trees and the lake and the pristine white boats bobbing in the water, and I have to remind myself that I’m not on vacation.  In the evenings, the sun sets over the marina and the palm trees turn to silhouette and the sky glows yellow and orange and pink and red and smoky blue all at the same time.  It is art.  Created by a perfect Artist.

The other day I was driving home from the dentist, my air conditioner on, 80’s music playing on the radio, the sun blazing through my windows.  I looked out at the flat, swampy land stretching out on either side of the highway, the palm trees of various shapes and sizes jutting out of the ground, and then the tall grasses suddenly ended and a wide glistening lake opened up.  On the shore, far above the land, stood a red and white lighthouse.  And for ten minutes, in the middle of my busy day, I felt like I was enjoying a mini-vacation.  

Is it possible to live here and not feel the vacation-magic of palm trees and sunshine and water?  Maybe the novelty will wear off eventually.  I hope not. 

 

*****

Of course, there are some things about Florida that don’t seem all that magical to me.  Did you know Florida is the lightning-strike capital of the US?  More people die from lightning strikes in Florida than in all the other states combined.  At least, that’s what these Floridians brag about in a sick sort of way.  

This may be because it storms every afternoon in the summer.  Even if it doesn’t actually rain, wide bolts of lightning jut through the sky.  Maybe more people get struck by lightning here because there is more lightning here.  Whatever the case, it just seems ironic that so many people come here for vacation — to swim and play putt-putt golf and real grown-up, boring golf and ride metal roller coasters here in this lightning capital  of the US.  It just seems an odd place to have so many activities that involve water and large metal objects.  

 

*****

Then there are the giant roaches.  Well, obviously, we don’t call them roaches.  That sounds so dirty and gross.  We call them Palmetto bugs.  That sounds cleaner and less creepy.  And they do need their own name because they aren’t like normal little roaches.  These Palmetto bugs put normal little roaches to shame.  Palmetto bugs are like roaches on steroids.  First of all, they’re huge.  Like bigger than a 50 cent piece.  (Do we still have those?)  And they fly.  And they don’t seem especially attracted to food or crumbs or dirty spaces.  They are really rather random.  I’ve only seen a few since moving here — three crawled in under our door from the hallway, and I squished them soon after their entrance.  I won’t get into the gory details, but these über-roaches require a great deal more effort to squish than normal bugs do.  

One giant Palmetto bug flew into Griffin’s bed one night and was crawling around on his fingers.  He’s two, and he sleeps in our room because I cannot trust his brothers not to hurt him.  So he woke up in the middle of the night screaming, “Bug in my bed!  Bug in my bed!”  And I don’t know that I’ve ever jumped out of bed faster.  I jumped out of bed, leapt to his side, swooped him up, brought him into our bed, turned on the lamp, and woke Patrick to check for the bug all in one liquid motion in less than 10 seconds.  Griffin’s short memory and attention span of a gnat left him unscathed by the whole roach-in-the-bed incident.  I had nightmares for weeks!

 

*****

And if the larger-than-life roaches don’t freak you out, the lizards certainly will.  They’re everywhere.  My children love to catch them and play with them.  Which could explain why there are so many creeping around with half a tail.  

I have almost gotten used to the sound of lizards scampering in the bushes and twigs and leaves as I walk on a sidewalk.  Sometimes, when I take our trash to the dumpster, I feel as if there is a miraculous parting of the lizards going on.  I walk down the sidewalk, and lizards I did not even realize were there begin scooting off to the left and right, clearing the way for me to get to the giant green dumpster.  

We’ve had a couple in our apartment.  One scurried behind our stove, where we could not get to it.  That creeped me out for days.  Another disappeared in the dark one morning as I was leaving to swim.  I managed not to freak out and was relieved to see it in the hall later that afternoon.  A neighbor girl eventually caught it, and we released it out the fire escape, where I’m sure it joined all its friends on the sidewalk between our building and the green dumpster.  

 

*****

And, of course, there are the alligators.  Florida is pretty famous for those too.  We have been told that you could see an alligator in pretty much any body of water around here.  And we have seen them.  Sometimes we see them snapping their giant jaws up out of a lake.  Sometimes we only see the ripple as the water parts for one to swim.  One day we saw a baby alligator at the zoo by the pond they built for a natural habitat display of animals native to Central Florida.  Sort of an if-we-build-it-they-will-come experiment in wildlife.  Evidently, the experiment is successful.  The little alligator was sunning itself along the bank of the pond.  While the children went on and on about how cool it was, I could only think about how the alligator crawled in there using the same walkways we were using to get around the zoo.  

There is a lake near here that is famous for its great population of animal life.  It’s like the most populated lake in the US or something.  A large segment of that population is made up of alligators.  You can’t really drive on the bridge over this lake without seeing the big open mouths of alligators snapping out of the water.  

So here is what amazes me.  People have built large, beautiful, expensive homes around this lake.  They have boat docks on the lake and long, wooden sidewalks leading from the docks to their homes.  Maybe I just have a dramatic imagination, but to me that is like rolling out the red carpet, dropping out a Hansel and Gretel like path of raw meat and inviting those alligators right into your home.  And we wonder why we see those people on the news.  You know, that woman in her flowered housedress exclaiming about how she woke up and found an alligator in her kitchen.  Well, the alligator is in your kitchen because you built your house in his backyard and then you laid down a sidewalk from his home right into yours.  

 

*****

Flat land.  Water.  Palm trees.  Palmetto bugs.  Lizards.  Alligators.  Lightning.  Amazing sunsets.  Even beautiful sunrises, which I’ve seen a lot of from the swimming pool.  

This is Florida.  And I’m beginning to see it as home.

 

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