Monday, May 15, 2017

The Birthday Girl!

Audrey turned 7 this week!! I can't believe how fast the years fly by! She is, as always, our creative and independent girl. She loves to make crafts and is most often found cutting, gluing, coloring or painting a creation. She has also developed a recent interest in music and loves to listen to her own playlist on our Alexa. She choreographs dances too which are really fun. For years one of her best talents has been making friends with anyone, anywhere. She only gets better and better at this talent! She makes sure we all have a lot of fun and she always has a plan.

This year she wanted a Moana party. She planned it, helped set it up and make the food. It turned out really fun!

As per birthday tradition, Audrey woke up to find her room filled with balloons!

Her grandmas sent cards in the mail!

The kids did a really great assembly line to make "crab" sandwiches for the party. They were ham and cheese on croissants.

Not my best cake result ever but Audrey loved it so it counts!

Of course Moana would have a swimming party!

Happy birthday to youuuu!

Years ago when we lived in Wisconsin, Mitchell came up with the idea of doing hobbies with each of the kids on the "off" birthdays. He determined that the "off" birthdays are 7, 11 and 15. Of course, 8, 12 and 16 are milestone birthdays. It is amazing how fast the time sails on by! Audrey has turned 7 so it was her turn to choose a hobby to pursue with her dad. About a month ago they began brainstorming ideas. She came up with at least 30 ideas! Some included bird watching, camping, building models, doing hair and nails etc. It was fun to hear her ideas and her rationale as she had to eliminate some. She finally settled on COOKING. What a great hobby! Mitchell downloaded an ecourse for kids. There are beginning, intermediate and advanced levels with quite a few learning modules. They completed their first module yesterday which was: spreading with a dull knife. They invited Redick and Reid to join them in spreading peanut butter on celery to make ants on a log, then spread butter on toast. They are hoping to learn and practice a lot over the next year. Their capstone project and goal will be to throw a dinner party for Audrey's friends and make all of the food!

Footnote about Nicaragua living: Thursday evening a main water supply pipe for our sector broke. Some time in the evening our water went out and soon after that our reserve tank ran out too. We had plenty of drinking water though. We were without water all day Friday and all day Saturday! ....can I tell you how badly I wanted a shower??!?! It was awful! Not to mention the dirty dishes that piled up and the floor that really needed a mopping! Saturday morning we received the news that during the repair of the pipe, a valve broke and they were going to have to order the repair part from out of the country! Thankfully, they must have found the part because late Saturday afternoon our water came back on! Sunday afternoon we had a big awesome thunder storm! Sometimes the thunder is so loud that it sounds like the earth will tear apart! The rolls of thunder last forever and the loud cracks just interrupt the constant rolling. It's awesome! Right as the storm was starting on Sunday our power went out. Haha! We were grateful when it came back at 9:30pm so we could sleep more comfortably with the fans on. It's always an adventure here!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Latest

We've had a couple of fun excursions and a whole lot of everyday adventures in the last two weeks!

Monday May 1st was May Day. In Nicaragua it's a day off so we took advantage! Our bishop and his family invited us to explore a location neither of us had been to before. We jumped at the chance and took off! It is an off the beaten path location called Los Saltos. It was only about an hour drive from our house in Managua but it felt pretty remote. It's rare to see rivers here. The volcanic soil is so porous that most of the ground water is absorbed and collected in natural underground aquifers. At Los Saltos there is a river that has been dammed and allowed to form a small reservoir. The dam has release gates that expel water and look like waterfalls. Since it was a holiday the place was packed but we had fun anyway. 

A beautiful mural near the parking lot

One of the "waterfalls"

The kids wanted a closer look from on top of the rock

Some locals were enjoying jumping into the reservoir from this tree. My kids got a kick out of watching them. One man who was much older than the teens and young adults who were mainly jumping climbed up there with all the confidence in the world. When it came time to actually jump, however, his confidence made the leap and left him behind! He couldn't do it. In effort to be encouraging (or maybe to call him out!?!) my kids started chanting "dale dale!!" (essentially, "go for it! Jump!) Poor guy! He was really called out and was a good sport about it but it took him probably 20 minutes to finally get up the guts to jump! He thanked my kids for their encouraging chants and jeers.

Mitchell capitalized on the opportunity to be a brave hero for his kids and he took off his shirt and climbed the tree! It only took a couple of minutes of side-line chanting "dale dale dale!!" before he took the plunge! It was fun to hear the kids squeal with delight! 

On Wednesday I got to witness the culmination of a series of miraculous events! Meet Roger and his mom Martha. I met Roger in December last year. Our friend Dean introduced us at his Christmas party for the kids in his ministry. Roger is 14 now. 5 years ago he was playing in his yard and found a washed up piece of debris and began throwing it around. Little did he know it was a hand grenade from the revolution that had washed up after a rain storm! Unfortunately, the grenade exploded as he tossed it around. His poor mom heard the explosion and ran out to find him badly hurt, the concussive force from the explosion caused his eyes to come out of the sockets. Incredibly he was able to get medical help quickly and the local doctor was able to save one eye. He even has sight in his eye! THAT is already a miracle to me!! His left eye was not able to be salvaged though. Not too long after the accident a group of foreign doctors happened to be in the area on a medical mission trip. Miraculously they happened to have a prosthetic eye in their kit and it amazingly fit the 9 year old Roger! 
With the passing of time Roger has grown and the eye doesn't fit very well anymore. Back in December Dean introduced me to Roger and just casually asked me if I knew an eye doctor. I am certain that he was inspired in that moment because my dad is an Optometrist. My dad was able to refer me to an ocularist (prosthetic eye artist) who was generous enough to help us and offered to make Roger a new eye! That is no small gift! After 5 months working on this, making impressions of his eye socket, sending materials back and forth from California and taking many measurements Roger was really ready to get a new eye. 
In the end, an optician that Dean knows got a couple of prosthetics made and flew in from Coco Beach, FL for 48 hours especially to deliver them to Roger. It was humbling to watch and take a small part in this miracle for Roger. 

I wish I had captured his reaction on video of when he saw his reflection for the first time! What a moment!! 

Reid is my "sports kid" always finding a way to hit a ball or score a goal

While we were out in the rural area near Roger's house waiting for Dean we made friends with a family who was out sitting in the shade in their front yard. They had about 30 two month old chicks. They were so cute! Reid had so much fun scrambling to catch them!
Layne thought this doggy mannequin at a department store in the mall was so cute! I think he's cuter! 

My grandparents send us the National Geographic and it's a big hit around here!

We did lots of reading, coloring and crafts, swimming and other fun stuff in the month of April. After the Homers went home I decided to keep up our no screen momentum that we had achieved by filling our days with outdoor adventures. In the entire month of April the kids watched only 23 minutes of screen time! and that was one episode of a show that Kessa and Abby had been excited to share with their friends. It wasn't nearly as hard a fast as I thought it would be either! Plus, the kids fought less and played more. 
This is a pretty authentic look in to what our days look like at home. Kids making awesome crafts and the Moana soundtrack blaring in the background. Haha!

One of our favorite places to hike is at Chocoyero Nature Reserve. It is beautiful, peaceful and really close to our house! By now we are old regulars and we know the tricks out there. Today we brought a rope with us because we know of a spot, a little off the trail, where there is a cable hanging down from a strong limb of a tree. We made a really fun swing! 

Redick only wanted to give me booty shots!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Ant Day

In case you didn't know, today was Ant Day! You certainly wouldn't have known because Audrey made it up! Haha! Yesterday afternoon she mentioned something about "tomorrow is going to be Ant Day" but she didn't really say anything more about it. This morning, however, she was 100% in to it!! It turned out to be such a fun day! We all loved it! In fact, it was so fun and creative that it definitely deserves a blog post!

By 6:00 this morning Audrey was already full force making crafts and setting up for the Ant Day festivities. Before we took Mitchell to work and the kids went to school Audrey gave both Mitchell and me a piece of lined paper. She asked us to learn about ants and write everything down on the paper so we could give an oral report of what we learned this evening.

Ant decor

An articulating ant with many legs!

These are homemade paper envelopes to collect live ants from outside. They even sprinkled sugar out on the back porch to attract some. Oh darn, it didn't work. 

This is for the Pin the Thorax on the Ant game!

Audrey gave us a demo of the game this morning

They asked for Ant snacks, so ants on a log for breakfast!
After school they really enjoyed making their own ant snacks. They loved the idea of crafts you can eat and food you can craft! *My kids are crazy about crafts and are constantly creating things! 

A corndog ant. Good one Redick!

Mom's ant snack

One of Reid's ant creations

She loved this activity!

So did Reid!

We had pizza with "ants" (olives look like ants, right? By dinner I was short on more ideas!)

Every Monday night we have Family Home Evening. Normally it is an opportunity to do gospel teaching and learning as a family. We also love to have fun together, play games and often we have a treat! Tonight Audrey took charge and she directed our ant themed Family Home Evening. Mitchell and I gave our oral reports then Audrey read several sections from 2 different books she had checked out from her school library about ants. It was awesome and actually quite educational! We sang the hymn All Creatures of Our God and King, it was perfect. We finished off the great Ant Day by playing pin the thorax on the ant. Great, light fun was had by all!

Ant Facts:
  • There are around 22,000 different species of ants!
  • The workers live around 1-2 years
  • The queen can live up to 30 years!
  • The queen is the only fertile female ant in a colony
  • The fertile males are called drones
  • Ants are the only animal, aside from humans, that farm other animals for food. 
  • Some types of ants will conquer another colony and take slaves from the conquered to work for them
  • The insect with the deadliest venom is actually a type of ant
  • Ants sometimes nurture aphids and actually care for them because the aphids are really good at extracting nectar from plants. The ants love this nectar so they follow the aphids around to steal their nectar. Some mother aphids will actually leave their offspring in the care of the ants and go off to have another set of offspring knowing the first set will be well taken care of.
  • Ants are really really cool!