Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas at Sunshine House!

This marks my 3rd Christmas in Bolivia (the first Christmas I was back in the States), and also probably the best Christmas yet! We've developed some of our own traditions and now the big kids are starting to remember them and look forward to the Christmas season as much as we do. As you can see, we've been busy!

One evening, we loaded up all the older children and went to the Christmas carols service at the International Church. When it was over, we walked to a plaza just a couple blocks away to look at their Christmas lights. Our kids LOVE looking at Christmas lights!

Another night, we went to a Christmas party put on by a board member's family. It was rainy and cool outside but our kids were super excited to go out!

One of our favorite traditions is going to the Prado to see the Christmas lights and ride in Santa's sleigh. As we only have 14 kids at Sunshine House (as opposed to 30-ish in years past), we decided to take all of the kids and the tías who were working that night. 

As we were walking down the street, E. and A. (both 4 years old) started screaming "Cockroach! Cockroach!" upon seeing Pikachu. Can you tell they don't watch much tv?! It was too funny!

Mine and Sarah's project now that we're both on Christmas break has been to organize the storage closet. It's been quite a job so far, and we still have a long way to go! This is just one wall of the bags of clothes.

Two days ago we celebrated M.'s 5th birthday! He was just 1.5 years old when I arrived and it's hard to believe how much he's grown.

The night of M.'s birthday, a church group came over and threw a Christmas party for the staff. It's rare that everyone is together at once, and it's always a fun time! Tía Patty (green shirt on the right) did a great job on the food!

In Bolivia, big Christmas celebrations take place on Christmas Eve. Sarah and I decided that we would cook a Christmas dinner for the kids and tías who were working that night. Now, anyone who knows Sarah and I probably also knows that we don't cook much. After buying all the ingredients and setting them out on the counter we worried it was a bit of a lofty goal...

We bought 3 chickens which unfortunately meant we had to prepare them to be cooked. We didn't know how, so Tía Laura taught us. This picture was before Sarah had to chop off the chicken's head...

My poor chicken had a bit of a rough time. Instead of slicing straight down the middle, I accidentally sliced through its ribs which is why it looks a little lopsided. Luckily they all tasted the same!

We put several of the kids to work, making lemonade, cutting up veggies, etc. Eleven year old S. really wanted to help so we put her in charge of making a salad. She was so proud of herself when she finished!

 Miel likes going to the hogar to spend time with the kids, but she got car sick on the way there yesterday so her trips may be very limited nowadays!

 Are you as shocked as I am that Sarah and I actually pulled all this off?! We're missing beets, bread, and salad in the picture and we didn't take pics of the dessert. On the menu: chicken, stuffing (half eaten before dinner even started), green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, boiled veggies, roasted veggies with honey, yorkshire pudding, bread, beets, and salad. It was like a real Christmas dinner! We're so proud of ourselves and think that maybe we can handle doing it again next Christmas! Also, after cooking such a feast, the tías have officially approved us for marriage... What an honor!

 So. Much. Food.

 Tía Laura and Tía Milenka... We love these two!

Our kids have received many toys over the last few days, so we decided to give them each a pair of Christmas pjs... They looked too cute!

They finally put up the Christmas tree yesterday afternoon, and within the first hour of it being up, the toddlers had knocked it over at least 5 times. Sarah took this picture before bedtime last night... Her 2 "hijos" in their matching pjs!

 Christmas is also O.'s birthday- Today he turns 2! His dad always visits on Sundays and after church, we celebrated with this fancy cake!

These three celebrated their first Christmas today! How cute did they look for church?! 

Luke 2:10-11, But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord."

We hope your Christmas has been as merry as ours has been! From all of us to you, Merry Christmas and Feliz Navidad!

Sunday, November 27, 2016


These are all out of order but at least I've blogged... ;)

 This month our school had a Walk-a-Thon. Everyone finds sponsors to pay for each kilometer they walk, and this year the money will be donated to a nearby orphanage (where some of our former Sunshine House kids were transferred over the summer!) and the Bolivian equivalent of a Title 1 school nearby our school. We had a poster contest and my class won 2nd place in the pre-school division... I've been told our win gives us a popcorn party! (The blurry parts are where I blurred out my kids' names next to their footprints.)

The school year is coming to an end for the Bolivian public schools, and our pre-schoolers at Sunshine House had an end-of-the-year exam. Sarah and I were in charge of helping them study one Saturday morning and it was a bit of a disaster. They don't know how to count to 10, barely know shapes, colors and body parts and can't identify the vowels (well, except maybe E. who sings a catchy tune when he names the vowels...). I never heard how they did but I can't imagine they did well. Students aren't allowed to fail here, so even though they'll be moved up to kindergarten, they've got their work cut out for them during vacation... We've got to study!

 A few weeks ago we took our older kids to Aldea SOS to visit our kids who were transferred there. We always enjoy our visits and so do the kids!

 Los traviesos taking part in their favorite hobby- turning on the sink and playing with water/flooding the bathroom!

 For several Sundays in a row, S.'s Sunday School teacher asked me if she could stay a little longer and practice a song her class was learning. I always stayed behind with her and no one could ever really tell me why they were learning this song... Come to find out, they were participating in our church's talent show! As several of our tías go to our church, when they found out that S. would be in the talent show, they decided that we ALL needed to go to the talent show (I'd assumed that for ease, I'd just take S. and her sister, B.)! After getting permission to take all the babies with us, we got them all ready for bed (it didn't start until 7:30pm) and headed over to church... Apparently no one told the tías that O.'s tiger "pajamas" is actually supposed to be worn as a costume?!

 B. used to be SO scared of going to church but now he loves it! He always raises his hand in the air or claps along to the music and he's even started going to his Sunday School class!

 We celebrated 2 birthdays this month! S. (not pictured) turned 11 years old, and A. turned 4 years old.

Miel had her first real vet check-up since I got her... She got a shot and has been told she needs to fatten up!

I don't know that this actually counts as "decorating for Christmas" if it's all I've done so far, but I put up my little tree the other day...  Now I need to psyche myself up to go to La Cancha to get a big tree for the living room!

 S. LOVES the babies and this morning offered to help me bathe the "triplets" before church.

We can't say it enough- our church loves our kids so well! This morning, Pastor Fernando held both his own grandson (on his other knee... you can't see him in the picture) and our O. during the children's worship time. Both boys were smiling so big! All of our church friends don't hesitate to grab a toddler and love them like their own :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A Holiday at Sunshine House!

Today is a holiday (Todos Santos/All Saints Day) here in Cochabamba. While most have the day off, working at an hogar doesn't really allow that... After all, our kids need to be cared for 24/7! 

A group of tías came in and then we had a steady stream of volunteers all day. It was great because we wanted to take our annual Nativity picture (sneak peak below!) so we had a lot of help to get kids changed into their costumes and to look at the camera! 

This afternoon, we let the kids play dress-up with some other costumes we had, and thanks to a generous candy donation (if you're reading this, you know who you are!), we had a candy hunt for everyone outside this afternoon... Our kids loved it!

I normally don't go to the hogar during the week, but I had to make a special exception yesterday ;) I didn't have school today (Wednesday) and it's also Tía Silvia's birthday!  She wasn't working today so I took over a cake and we celebrated last night. Her (Our) favorite birthday tradition is to put eggs and flour in the birthday person's hair, but I didn't plan on doing it to her as I always end up covered in it too. Nine year old B. did it for us and by some miracle, she didn't crack eggs on our heads later!

 9:30pm and she's out!

 Time for some sneak peaks of our Nativity picture! Surely there was a llama at the inn...

 Chicken, angel and llama... 

When baby Jesus was crying, Joseph turned to Mary and said, "That's your baby. Make him stop crying!" It was too funny!

Always clothes to be washed and hung out to dry! S. was taking a break from pictures to help with laundry.

Ready, set, go! Off to find candy!

It's hard to see, but the yard is full of candy! 

 After the toddlers woke up from their naps, they got to hunt candy too!

I. was excited about his stash!

One of the babies left some candy on the ground and as soon as O. saw it, he went over and put it in his bowl!

B. had a hard time waking up from his nap, but when he heard there was candy to be eaten, he was a little more willing to get out of bed!

Saturday, October 29, 2016


Enjoy your monthly blog post... :)

 Sometimes when my kids finish their work, I let them play with unifix cubes. If we have time, sometimes we do "show and tell" and they tell the class about what they made. Other times they just show me what they made. On this day, one of my kids handed me this creation and said "Look Miss Hannah! I made you. I didn't have enough blocks so you only have arms to your elbows."

 Our tías at Sunshine House are the best! Here's Tía Milenka helping B. with homework while letting J. sleep in the aguayo.

The kids love these little egg-shaped gummy/jello candies... They look so gross!

Tiny baby in an aguayo... One of my favorite things about life in Cochabamba!

A couple weeks ago, our church had a big fundraiser lunch for the end-of-the-year mission trip. Sarah and I were asked to bring dessert. I still don't have a working oven so I went over to her house so make the cookies... It took so long and there were so many cookies at the end. Not that we complained... We kept plenty of cookies for ourselves and took the rest to church with us!

Weekends are filled with planning for school, and this month, we had to turn in grades and comments for reports cards... Hard to believe 1st quarter is already over!

 My school has a big fundraiser called the International Fair. Each class picks a country to study and then on the day of the Fair, everyone sets up a booth representing their country and they sell typical food. In pre-school, we each studied a department in Bolivia instead of a country. My class studied Pando... For your enjoyment, the facts we learned:

Pando is a department located in the north of Bolivia. The capital is Cobija. Typical foods include sonso and empanada de charque (both pictured above) as well as patasca de cerdo. There are many popular places to visiting including Las Cachuelas, El Monte Alto and El Río Tahuamanu (spelling is probably way off...).

One of the other kinder classes studied a department in Bolivia known for their many flowers... They used tons of flowers to decorate their booth and when it was over, we all got to take some flowers home with us. They were so pretty!

Today Miel got to tag along with me to the hogar. I took her once before and several of the kids have been asking when I'll bring her back... I figured today was a good day!

 A. "washing" her baby with dirt... When bath time was over and she took her out of the bucket, she seemed shocked at how dirty the baby still was! 

 Not sure what M. was trying to do but all of the sudden I heard him start to cry and when I looked over he was hanging from the stairs of the slide.

S. drew this picture of Miel... I thought it was an interesting representation of her!

Miel needs to be a therapy dog... She was SO good for the kids and all the things they did to her this afternoon. Poor thing was worn out though!

A.M. celebrated her 10th birthday this week! She has had a family working toward her adoption for awhile now and they were granted visits on her birthday. They threw her a party on her birthday and we planned to celebrate with her today with ice cream sundaes. Unfortunately when we arrived to the hogar we found out that she was out with her new family. We decided to have the (melted) ice cream sundaes anyway!