Saturday, July 15, 2017

Madre visits Bolivia!

Madre came to Bolivia this last week and we had a fabulous time together! Unfortunately she left today, but Miel and I are already waiting for her next visit!

Madre flew into Santa Cruz so I flew there too and we spent a day there.

Our first stop in Santa Cruz was Guembe Bioparque & Resort. I'd heard good reviews but wasn't really sure what it was like. It's a big hotel and park not far outside of Santa Cruz. You can pay to enter just the park area which is what we did. They had walking trails, a butterfly garden, a bird sanctuary, a monkey habitat and many other fun areas to explore. We spent a couple hours there and could've stayed longer.

We took this picture for Amy... Years ago when we were in Belize, there was a wagon similar to the one pictured (but much smaller) at our hotel. My mother, the photographer, insisted that Amy and I take a picture with the wagon (her pulling it and me sitting in it). Amy let go and the wagon and I flipped over. She still laughs uncontrollably about it.

There was a big area full of different kinds of parrots and some peacocks. I wanted to take a picture with these 2 parrots but as I got closer, one flew away and the other flew straight into my head!

When I was little, we went to a place that had butterflies and we have a picture of me holding on in my hand. As we entered this butterfly garden we were talking about how we should try to recreate the picture and then this butterfly landed on my leg... It's like he heard us!

After leaving Guembe, we went to the downtown area and wandered around for the afternoon.

Back to Cochabamba on Saturday!

On Saturday, Susanne and Chelsea (two volunteers from the hogar who came back for a visit) wanted to go visit some of the kids who used to live with us. Madre and I tagged along and it was great to see them again!

I should've taken a better picture at church but this is all I have... My church may have been more excited about my mom's visit than I was! They were counting down the days for months!

Sunday afternoon we met up at the water park with this sweet girl! Long-time blog readers will remember her as "Baby C." back from our hogar days... Every time I see her now I can't believe how big she's getting!

On Monday we went up to school so Madre could see where I work. They'd been painting the classrooms and building some new rooms and it was a bit of a disaster!

Madre bought Miel a fancy new bed! She hasn't embraced it quite yet but I'm certain she will one day.

Madre redecorated my house while she was here. We bought furniture but it couldn't be delivered until the next day. We didn't think it'd be that bad not having furniture for just a day, but seriously... You can only sit so long on that hard tile floor!

I had lots of people I wanted Madre to meet and these great friends were at the top of the list! I have the best coworkers ever and we met up for dinner one night. I hadn't seen any of them since school got out so it was fun to catch-up!

Madre and I at dinner... Thank you Nena for the picture! :)

One day while going home, we passed a park with 2 super slides. Madre insisted we go back another day and ride them... They were lots of fun!

Miel helped us plant some new flowers... She was just as helpful as you can imagine ;)

And now begins the saga of the hammock... I have a big balcony but there wasn't any place to sit outside. We decided a hammock would be a great addition. We both thought the best place to hang the hammock would be where the clothesline had been hanging. In the above picture, that's the metal thing coming off the side of the wall on the left. First, Madre moved my clothesline so it wouldn't be in the way of putting up the hammock...

 Briefly, we had a hammock... Even Miel loved it! We spent several hours outside in the hammock thinking it was the greatest thing ever. The more we sat in it, the more we thought maybe it needed to be higher up...

...and then this happened! Miel and I were laying the hammock while Madre was tugging on the rope trying to get it higher. All of the sudden, the hammock with us in it came crashing down!
 She pulled so hard that it broke the wall!

 Finally yesterday the last piece of furniture was delivered and I have a brand new living room! 

 Every time I walk into my house I can't believe how great it all looks! The brown Hawaiian flowered sofa is gone (Sarah, what were we thinking?!) and it actually looks like a cute little apartment now!

Come back soon Madre... We miss you already!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Hello, again!

I last blogged two months ago... The end of school was crazy but we finished! Now I'm on vacation for a couple months but it's not really vacation as I'm tutoring every day. Not getting up early and having a more relaxed day has been nice though!

We've had a busy few months so lots of pictures again! :)


 At the end of April, B. turned 3! He was so excited that it was his birthday. We were happy to be able to celebrate that birthday with him because a couple weeks ago he moved to another children's home to be with his older siblings. We miss him but we're excited they get to be together again!

Sometimes we take all the kids to church, but on this particular day the babies and tías stayed home, and I took the girls by myself... So much more relaxing just having the 4 of them!

 We gave this picture to Tía Silvia a couple Christmases ago after she begged and begged for a picture of us... One day I walked into the girls' bedroom and saw that they'd taken it off the fridge and hung it up on their wall. It's a nice touch, for sure!

 Gymnastics all day, every day... If only I could post the videos B. took of me doing handstands and cartwheels!

Get your hair braided and makeup done offered exclusively at Sunshine House!

On this Sunday we took EVERYONE to church. When it was time to go home, no one wanted to pay for the taxi so the tías decided we could all fit in my car... I think I was the only one who got a comfortable ride that day! I think we had 14 people crammed in there.


 At the beginning of May we began our count-down to go to 1st grade... The kids LOVED it and from the second they walked in in the morning they were asking whose turn it was to take off a ring.

Sometimes when one of my kids would get mad, he would tell me that he hated me and that I'm the worst teacher in the whole world (other days he told me he loved me and that he was my son so who really knows how he felt!). One day I told him that I was sure he didn't really mean what he said so he needed to write "I love Ms. Hannah" on the board. He reluctantly did so. Pretty soon they were all asking to write it... Not much of a punishment any more!

 S. and B. are obsessed with the group Tercer Cielo so when Sarah and I heard they were giving a free concert earlier this month, we knew we had to take the girls! Through some connections we were invited to meet them at the airport when they arrived and then we were given VIP wristbands to sit up close at the concert. The girls were so excited but then so shy when we were actually at the airport!

 This picture made me laugh because I feel as if I'm looking at my future getting my kids ready in the morning. It was taken one day by B., who was begging me to buy her a cell phone for her upcoming 10th birthday. I didn't realize she was taking pictures while we were having this conversation... In case you're wondering, I did not buy her a cell phone. Although she would argue that it's not true, she's far too young.

Reading the encyclopedia for his first book seems like a lofty goal to me...

Happy 10th birthday, B.!

 Love my kinder co-teachers! 

 Mother's Day is on May 27th. At church, some of the kids' classes put on a little program for the moms. Before A.'s class began singing, they were asked to tell their mom's name. I cringed a little (Mother's Day is so hard for our kids and questions like this are never easy for them to answer) but when it was her turn she loudly proclaimed "Her name is Tía Hannah!" and everyone let out a collective "Awww." I'm so lucky to be the one she calls "Mami!"

 May 29th marked 4 years in Bolivia... Can't believe it's already been that long!

 The kids' school had a dance festival at the end of May. My school also had one, and can I just say, I was once again reminded how wonderful it is to be the parent at these events instead of the teacher. Seriously, it's so much more enjoyable.

B. is in 5th grade and his class did this cool dance with ribbons. It almost reminded me of the May Pole dance we did in 4th grade.


 We made it! Kinder graduation with some of the best :)

 Probably not the safest activity (they found random pieces of food and put them together) but who am I to stop their imaginative play!

Celebrating Sarah's birthday with our favorite son/nephew! While she'll always be the real favorite, he's decided I'm not so bad!

 The past couple days I've had A. and J. staying over at my house. We had to make a stop at the grocery store and A. begged for strawberries. That night they both ate them dipped in mayo (meant for their chicken)... sounds yummy, doesn't it?!

 A. is OBSESSED with Miel and made sure to bring all of her toys to her bed.

Playing in the ball pit at the indoor park... They had a great time!

If you're my friend on Facebook then you might have already seen this picture... At lunch yesterday, I made pasta that had mushrooms mixed into it. J. ate it all but A. complained about "those little brown things" from the moment she saw the plate and refused to eat any food with mushrooms. Yesterday evening, I made pancakes for them for dinner and it would appear that when "little brown things" are chocolate chips, suddenly they're edible!

At the rate I'm going with blogging, the next post will be after school has started again... If I don't blog again before then, hope all of y'all up north are enjoying your summer! 

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!