Sunday, April 16, 2017

April and Spring Break

I'd planned on writing about spring break this past week but realized I had lots of other pictures so thought I'd go ahead and post those too...

 There's a new food court in Cochabamba with a restaurant called Louisiana Fried Chicken... Obviously I felt obligated to try it. As the paper plate and name suggests, they serve fried chicken and fish & chips. 

 On March 19th, we celebrated Father's Day. It happened to be on a Sunday and our church had all sorts of presentations that the kids put on for their dads. It can be a hard holiday for our kids at Sunshine House, but our church does such a great job with our kids... and they have many beloved father figures at church! O.'s dad has been working on his family reinsertion for several months now and joins us at church each week, and it was special that he and O. were able to spend time together on that day!

 Miel has a bad habit of eating things she shouldn't, and one day while I was at work she chewed on some clothes. She got super sick and the vet requested an x-ray because he thought she had an intestinal blockage.  The place he sent us to for the x-ray is in the far side of the city and I really had no idea how to get there. We had 40 minutes before they closed and I thought we made it just in time... Until we arrived and it was locked up! Luckily the x-ray tech was on his way back and we didn't have to wait very long. To make a long story short, she ended up being just fine!

 Celebratory dinner at our favorite restaurant- I passed my Bolivian citizenship test and Sarah started the adoption process!

 Showed up at Sunshine House before church a couple weeks ago and realized my girls and I were matching!

 Dyeing Easter eggs at school... We didn't quite get to that at Sunshine House before today, so I've promised the kids we'll do it next weekend... Better late than never!

We had a visitor to our class... He's a turtle and his name is Rayo Veloz. He was very quiet and a good listener... and a good example to his owner :)

One of my kinder kids gave me this "wedding ring" and said "I made it because you're getting married!" ...Does she know something I don't?!
  
 B. insisted on using this glass to drink her juice. She was pretending to serve everyone communion with it before she dropped it and it shattered everywhere... Oops!

While on the subject of B., this picture was also taken after her first performance as "Marcelita" in our church's evangelism drama "Jesus is my Superhero." She's been practicing for awhile now and was SO nervous! She really did well, although she thinks it was awful and that she needs to practice more. 

 On April 12th, we celebrated "Children's Day." Many people were very generous to our kids at Sunshine House and they had parties all week long. This cake and goodie bags were donated by Tigo.

 There's nothing quite like the chaos of a Children's Day parade! Also, can I just say that it's so much more enjoyable playing "mom" at the parade instead of "teacher"?! 

 Tía Patty said "I can't feed them real calamari so this is as close as I can get!" Needless to say, the kids LOVED their lunch!

Our twins went back HOME with their mom in what had to be the happiest reunion I've ever seen! She couldn't stop smiling and was SO excited to take them home!  They went home on Children's Day... what better day than that?!

 The tías had a morning workshop last week and a couple volunteers and I were in charge of the kids... Clearly O. was having too much fun with us ;) 

 On Thursday, everyone took kids home for the long weekend... I got A.! You can't tell in the picture, but she was asleep about 2 minutes after we left the hogar.

 First stop was the grocery store... I had no food at my house for her! She loved riding in the cart and picking out food for us to eat... something she NEVER gets to do!

 One day when I have my own little girl, she better be this sassy!

 Last year on Good Friday, Sarah, her mom and I took kids to the water park. This year on Good Friday, we met up with Sarah and the 2 she had for the weekend and Rachel, Gabby and Benjamin (former CDA volunteers- recognize those 2?) at a different park... I think it's becoming tradition! The kids had a fun afternoon swimming and playing together. 

I couldn't post about A. staying with me and not also post about her obsession with my dog! It was very mutual... I don't know if she or Miel was more excited about our temporary living arrangements! Initially I was a little worried she'd be lonely as there aren't other kids at my house, but Miel was a great playmate for her. She carried her everywhere (Miel's paws barely touched the floor!), blew bubbles for her, took her on a walk around the apartment, watched movies with her, and cried when she told her goodbye. At night, as she laid in bed, I could hear her quietly snapping her fingers and calling Miel's name so Miel would jump off my bed and lay with her. While eating, I gave her strict instructions not to give her food to Miel, but she tried sneaking it to her anyway. Then she'd pat her leg so Miel would jump up before saying "Miel is bothering me. She jumped up here all by herself!" They were quite the pair!

One more picture of the two before A. went back to her house... Watching Peppa with Miel close by!

Never too old for an Easter basket!

I wish I had more pictures from today but I realized after church that I hadn't taken a single picture of the kids. Our church doesn't really celebrate Easter so there wasn't much to take pictures of. On Friday night, they played the Passion of the Christ movie in the park, so A. and I went to watch it. Other than that, Easter was barely mentioned today (It's more of a Catholic holiday here... Evangelical churches don't seem to do much for it). I bought chocolate eggs for the kids and then accidentally left them at my house so I told them we'll dye Easter eggs and eat chocolate next weekend... Hopefully I'll be better about taking pictures then!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

January, February, March...

First of all, can I just say how embarrassed I am that over TWO MONTHS has passed and I have yet to blog even a single time?! I used to blog almost every other day... I don't know what's happened! Well, I do- school has happened, that's what! 

This is going to be LONG... Good job if you can make it to the end!

 
In my last blog post, I wrote that it was time to renew my visa... I came here on a tourist visa, have had residency visas for the last 3 years, and now it's time for citizenship! Part of that process involves an exam on Bolivian history... I've attempted to take the test twice now and have been turned down both times... Maybe 3rd times the charm?! Pray for me on March 24th... the day I *think* I might actually be able to take the test!
 
 What little free time I have is spent at Sunshine House... The kids both drive me crazy and help keep me sane! 

 A new mall has opened up in Cochabamba with an ice cream shop that makes the ice cream right there on a cold plate in front of you... It's my favorite!

Back in January we celebrated 100 days of school... It was quite the celebration! As you can see, we wrote 100 words (a big feat for a class full of ELL students!) and we also counted out 100 snacks, dressed up as 100 year olds, sang a song about the 100th day of school and we paraded around the school to congratulate everyone on becoming 100 days smarter!
 
Keeping her boys entertained... This was taken before the diva learned to crawl and could actually be left in one place!

 One of my boys likes to leave me notes on the board. When I asked what this note meant, he said "I love you all the way to the number 21!" When I asked what was so special about the number 21, he said the numbers on our wall only go up to 20 so "number 21 is a really super big number!"

#facepalm   ...in case you've ever wondered what it feels like to pottytrain 4 toddlers at once!

 We have a garden at school, and when the veggies were ready to be harvested, we made k'allu, a traditional Bolivian salad with onion, tomatoes and fresh cheese. It was yummy!

 Love this city!

 We practice reading sentences with our sight words and vocabulary words almost every day. I'm always the one to write the sentences, but one day a couple of my kids asked if they could draw on the board. Being the good teacher I am, I told them they had to write me something on the board first... This overachiever wrote me a whole sentence!

I have maybe not been the most responsible dog owner as far as vaccinations are concerned, but you better believe Miel was getting spayed... No way do we need puppies running around! I didn't have a cone for her to wear but with the quantity of baby clothes at my house, these pjs worked just fine to keep her from messing with the incision!

 Edson turned 5 and requested a dinosaur cake... His mother (Sarah) took charge of that party and went all out with dinosaur figurines and masks for the kids to wear!

 Saturday afternoons like this are always my favorite :)

 I know I've mentioned before that we now take EVERYONE to church... so 20+ people usually a week. In the past, Sarah and I would go to the hogar early, change the kids who were going with us and then leave. Now that there's so many more to get ready, we've given up on bringing cute clothes and fixing their hair in cute little hairstyles and bows and instead, let the tías get them dressed in the morning and then we deal with changing a few of our favorites or the kids who really just look horrific in their outfit choices. A few weeks ago, it was a little chilly outside. We knew the kids would be bundled up and decided to let the tías have at it with the twins. They brought them out in these matching head-to-toe knit outfits. I itched just looking at them! Of course Sarah and I burst out laughing which I think the tías took as approval of the outfits. We were getting too much entertainment out of the outfits to change the boys, and they looked so ridiculous but everyone at our Bolivian church LOVED the outfits! Someone even asked Sarah if they dressed up so nice because it was their birthday... haha!

 Lindsey's mom came to visit a couple weeks ago and brought me a king cake from their bakery... It was SO good!

 While on the subject of food... A couple weeks ago, the tías taught us how to make tawa tawas and cheese empanadas for snack!

 The girls are loving going to evangelize in the plaza with our church... Four year old A. knows all the moves to this "Jesus is my Superhero!" dance and does it right alongside them!

 During the Carnaval vacation, we took all the kids and tías from Sunshine House up to the Cristo! Tía Patty's husband drove us in the trufi so there was no waiting in long lines for the cable cars or hiking up the mountain... Driving up is the way to go!
While at the Cristo statue, we decided we should get a group picture of the kids... This might be the worst one yet and also the best of the ones we took that day!
 
 After our big outing to the Cristo, Sarah and I stopped by my house before heading to Lindsey's house... I don't know what happened but my car alarm started going off and continued going off for about 45 minutes. Oh the embarrassment... The car locked up and some random neighbors tried to help us turn it off. It was not working at all and they finally decided to push my car into the garage and then they cut the cable so it would stop. I took it to the shop the next day and they replaced the alarm... Luckily, as I've been convinced it had never really worked right since I got the car!

 Playing with water in the rain during the Carnival holidays... Don't mistake this picture as us actually celebrating Carnival though- we're not heathens. 

9 year old B. was BEGGING to play in water and then I said "Why don't we buy foam too and you can really have fun?!" With the most shocked expression, she said "Tía Hannah, that's like celebrating Carnival!" My response was "Well, you do want us to buy you a water gun during Carnival... I think you're already kind of doing it." She insisted that was not the case and then after playing in water, asked again "We didn't really celebrate Carnival, did we?"

 Got to start the babies early on learning numbers and letters so they'll be sort of prepared for pre-kinder in a few years...

 After far too many months of not having a working stove, Pastor Fernando got it fixed for me a couple months ago. My mother was completely distressed at the thought of me possibly having a gas leak and not knowing it, so she decided to send me a smoke and carbon monoxide detector... When it finally arrived, it wasn't allowed out of customs... $40 later, I finally got the package. Not bitter at all...

 Yesterday was the long-awaited day of Tía Savannah's wedding! The girls were dying to go, especially after hearing that 5 of their former tías went, but unfortunately as the wedding was in the USA, that just wasn't possible. Sarah and I told them we'd have our own celebration so we took them to the pool and out to dinner... After a very fun afternoon, all were asleep within minutes of getting into the taxi to head back home!

Next time two months has gone by without a blog, please message me so you don't have to suffer through such a long post again ;)

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Christmas Break

I've been on Christmas break for the past 3 weeks. We go back to work tomorrow, and I'm not sure that I'm ready... I've spent almost every day at the hogar which hasn't happened in far too long. When I'm there I'm always reminded how much I miss it. It was fun spending so much time with the kids, and as you can see in the pictures, we really stayed busy!

Sarah bought these alphabet/number puzzles for our pre-schoolers. They did well putting the letters into their places, but we still need to work on the order of the alphabet.

Just another reason that Tío Edwin will always be the favorite... Before Christmas, S.'s Sunday School class had to practice for the Christmas program at church. Each time, B. tagged along and finally got herself a part in S.'s class's play. One day we got to practice early, and Tío Edwin was there too. He offered to take the girls around the block on his motorcycle while we waited. I think I've heard about their motorcycle ride every single time I've seen them since that day!

We did our big Christmas celebration with the kids on Christmas Eve, so on Christmas Day, we just went to church with them in the morning. That evening, Sarah and I went out to dinner (no way were we cooking after the massive feast we cooked just the night before!) and on our walk to get a trufi, we saw this polar bear on the Recoleta!

E. got his finger shut in a door outside and it started swelling up. It got infected and he was put in the hospital for a few days between Christmas and New Years. Luckily his "mother" Sarah stayed with him, but I did go visit one morning. This picture of his finger was taken his first morning in the hospital. They drained it later in the week... I know, disgusting. It still has a little healing to do, but overall, it looks pretty good now!

 A. is such a diva! The other day she was keeping me company while I organized her clothes. She found that little purse and then put on my boots... She thought she was hot stuff!

 It's a tradition here to eat 12 grapes at midnight on New Years Eve. We pretended that 11pm was actually midnight and let the kids go outside to play with sparklers and then come in for grapes!

New Years Eve with some of our favorite tías!

 On New Years Day, our church was celebrating their anniversary (20 years, maybe?). They had a dinner that night, and Sarah and I had planned on taking our older kids. She ended up sick that day, so I took the oldest 3. They had a great time! While the whole celebration began at 7:30pm, dinner didn't actually start until 10pm and we didn't make it home until midnight. All 3 fell asleep on the way home!

Some afternoons we tried to do some educational activities with the kids... A. is 4 years old and will be starting pre-school in February. She joined our soon-to-be kindergarteners in some math activities.

 I. can now smile when you ask him too, and it's so cute!

 B. (middle) has been begging me for months to take her to our church's evangelism in the park. Out of pure laziness, I never took her. When she heard there was evangelism the day after New Years, she said I had no excuse because I wasn't working... Couldn't argue with that! 

 Evangelism basically consists of a group from our church putting on 6-7 dramas about different themes (relying on God, relationships, drugs/AIDS, etc.) for a wide variety of audiences. When the dramas are over, everyone who was watching is given a snack and then people from our church pass out some Christian literature and talk to them about Christianity/invite them to our church. It was my first time to go, and it was an interesting experience for sure. That kind of evangelism doesn't work well in the States, but it works SO well here. As you can see, that is just part of the crowd.

 While most days I was at Sunshine House for lunch, some days I was running around the city... and that always meant ice cream for lunch :)

 My 2 year visa ends in March which means it's time to start paperwork all over again... I would say trámites (paperwork) is never-ending in Bolivia, but the end may finally be in sight- I want to get Bolivian citizenship!

 S. and B. have been working on making lots of earrings and bracelets with one of their tías. One afternoon, B. sat with me for hours and taught me how to make earrings. She was a bit bossy when explaining how they had to be made and didn't like my final product on many occasions, but mine did actually make it up onto their display board. Cochabamba friends- they're selling earrings for 2-3bs/pair... Let me know if you'd like to buy any!

 Just now realizing I didn't post a picture of Miel, but this is her favorite toy. My mom sent it to her for Christmas... It squeaked and she was scared of it. When she finally got over her fear, she tore it apart. Now she just carries around the ripped up toy.

 These girls were in desperate need of haircuts. One of our tías is also a hair stylist and has a friend who has been wanting to help Sunshine House. He offered to give us a discount if we took the kids to him. It seemed like the perfect opportunity, so yesterday, I took B. and S. for haircuts. This outing also involved piercing B.'s ears, but I forgot to take a picture.

 Poor A. had her head shaved last March. Her hair has grown back so, so, so slowly. Yesterday when I was taking the girls to get haircuts, Tía Milenka gave our toddlers haircuts. When she finished, we decided to see what she could do with A.'s hair. It was starting to look a little bit like a mullet. She wanted to give her a haircut called a "mushroom" that sounded a lot like a bowl cut. I was not going to let that happen and talked her into cutting A.'s hair to her ears. Her hair still has a ways to grow, but at least it's almost all one length...

 Taking the kids out for haircuts used to be the worst form of torture... Now that Tía Milenka cuts their hair in the kitchen, everyone is happy! They sit by themselves, no crying and they sit still enough to actually let her cut it.

 B. is quite the character! The babies were given these play mats for Christmas, and she decided to test it out first. 
This very same day, I overheard the following conversation between her and a volunteer (background: B. was baptized this past August and loves to talk about God/her beliefs):
B.: Why are you Catholic?
Volunteer: Because everyone in my family is Catholic.
B. Well, that's not a very good reason. You don't have to be Catholic just because your family is. I'm Christian because I believe in God and I love Him. I didn't choose to be a Christian just because my tías are Christians."
She spent many afternoons over these past few weeks talking about God to all of us... She really thinks about Him a lot and asks us our opinion on different things and also what the Bible says in relation to different issues. She looks for opportunities to share her faith (that's why she so badly wanted to go to evangelism) with others. She's been maturing so much lately, and although she still very much has her moments (she can be a little too sassy sometimes!), she's a lot of fun to be around!