The Quiet Life?

My Mami is in the process of moving back to Puerto Rico after nearly 12 years in Florida (We moved there summer of 1995). She has been talking about this for a very long time, and is finally doing it, or rather she will fully be doing it once her house sells in Orlando.

Today she wrote on her blog: Mi Jardin about some of the adjustments she has already started to make to living in Puerto Rico again.

It reminded me of some of the adjustments I had to make when I left Puerto Rico to go to Calvin.

" I remember how eerily quiet it was in Michigan when I first moved there. Looking back, it really wasn't. I lived in a dorm and you could hear the East-beltline traffic but it wasn't nearly as rich. I went back to Papi's apartment that Christmas and I left a recorder on the top terrace and made a tape of night sounds. It was awesome, helicopters, sirens, random street noise, and crickets and coquis. Just right. I amused Tarra very much when I played it for her.

We hardly get any incidental street noise here in the winter. In the summer it is different story, we hear the kids from across the street playing street hockey late into the evening (since the sun won't set till after 9:00 pm) and is not unsual to accidently eavesdrop on our neighbors who basically live in their back porch in the summer, listening to the radio and talking. I think what really makes a difference is not having central air. With you windows open to get the breeze, yet get the sounds of life."

I also remember how noisy our apartment on Lyon street was. Back at my house in Benjamin St. We didn't get much noise, since it was typical residential street. But our Apartment on Lyon was on busier street, just upstairs and next-door to upscale wine store. There was always a lot of movement on the street. People walking by, talking, delivery trucks..etc. But the only downside was when the power went out in the summer, and they started up the generators by the backdoor which was basically just underneath our Windows. ugh. I can still remember the stink. It always made the hot sticky stormy worst.

Mami has also been talking about how much more human interactions she gets in Puerto Rico. I am sure giving up her garage, and having to walk from the parking lot to her house it going to be another social occasion. I really hope that you can continue to see all these changes in a positive way.

It sort of reminds me a of conversation I had with Abuela Gisela about 2 years ago. She was telling me about how she knew when her kids were moving back to Puerto Rico for good. It was when they were realistic and content about their experiences in Puerto Rico. If they were complaining too much about how things are done, she knew they were heading back to the US soon. Summarizing it this way makes it seem really straight forwards, but the way she said it was very wise. It was about being able to discern which comments showed their true desires. How they might say that they want to be in Puerto Rico, but their critical attitudes showed that they weren't ready to be back home yet. How they didn't want to be back home bad enough. And she should know, at that point she had seen nearly everyone of her kids and many of grand children leave Puerto Rico at some point.

In lots of ways I miss Puerto Rico, but I don't think I am anywhere near the level of contentment or need I need to have to move back home. I just wish some of the tastes of home would be easier to come by or easier to get too.

I am still alive.

I know I haven't been posting much. But I am doing good. And so are the girls. Chris is still coming up with new topics for his columns and getting his sermons written. I am not quite sure why I haven't been posting, but it is isn't even that I haven't had time to be at the computer. Actually that is probably what it is, I have been on the computer too much, so I haven't had time to compose my posts in my head.

Latest things: The cat thing is going real well. She is sweetie. Chris and I are both keeping up with the litter box and I am in charge of keeping her water and food bowl well supplied. She is a real easy cat.

             Zee is constantly entertaining us with her "super-tricks", things that she does that she considers super special, like almost falling down but managing to catch herself, or like balancing on the edge of over-turned chair and jumping into the air. Really cute.

            Aay is going to go Skiing for the first time on Wed. Chris is going along. Her whole school will be heading over there, and the Hidden Hills Ski Area is about 2 hours away and apparently a really gentle place to train.

            I turned down a trip to Egypt and Jordan. That's right I turned it down. I really really wanted to do it but we simply don't have the vacation time, and I don't want to cancel our trip to Florida and Puerto Rico. Plus the girls can't go and I don't want to leave them for 12 days yet. Maybe someday I will feel like I could enjoy 12 days away from everyone, but not yet, maybe a few days or even a week, but 12 days is much too much. Maybe next year, Chris and I could go away on that kind of trip. I sure hope Rosie, Kendall and my Dad have a great time though. And if Kendall takes pictures it will almost be as good as going.

I am starting to look at Grad school. I have pretty much decided that I want to get a Master's Degree in the field of Information Science.  If you want to know more about the degree I am considering pursuing, check out this really informational page by the University of Michigan, School of Information:

Master of Science in Information (MSI)

But before I can even start applying to particular programs I have to take the GRE. I haven't taken the GRE since 1997. I ordered a preparation book and CD so hopefully I can get myself ready to take it before the end of the year.

It is highly unlikely that I will test as well as Kendall (94% on the LSAT) but I am sure with the proper prep I can do really well.

Chris's Columns

So, I alluded to this in another post, but Chris has started keeping a weekly column at the site. Our friend Andrew Smith, a Memphis based Journalist has been on the web for a long time. We found his site one night when Chris and I were newly married, back in 1999, when we spent the summer in Hamilton/Ancaster Ontario. Chris was doing his summer internship there, and we didn't want to lug all our stuff over to Ancaster just for the summer, so we left our TV at home in GR but brought our Computer. The nights we spent in, we entertained listening to Blue Jays' Baseball on the radio, or jointly surfing the net, following links on webpages.  Chris started writing into Cap, and eventually Captain's website developed into a little community, going thru several incarnations, and message board software changes. About 4 years ago they moved a new easier to read site, and I dropped in for a visit, and stayed.  Chris and I eventually became moderators, doing some of the behind the scenes of policing along with a wonderful team of moderators and administrators.  Earlier this month our friends Rich Lane and Randy Jackson, guided us into launching a new frontpage portal page for the site.  They recruited some long-standing board members to contribute columns, to provide original content in addition to Cap's own weekly and monthly columns.

So last week Chris started writing his own column. It is called Fluit Notes.  So if you are ever interested in reading what Chris has to say about Comics and his opinions on the comics industry, click on the link every once in awhile. And if you want to catch up on the many proto-columns he has published as posts at the Captain Comics Message board, check them out here: Fluit Notes Forum where they have been gathered in one place.

I am very proud of him. Chris is a very creative person and has a lot to say, and I think it is wonderful that he is getting a chance to do this.

Lazy Day

I have been wearing my workout clothes all day, ever since I got up this morning at at 6:45 am. I happily slipped them on looking forward to my hour long class. Aay and I went thru our typical school morning routine, a bit of TV, some breakfast, pack lunch and then get her bundled up. At about the midway point in that routine Zee woke up. She was cheerful, but her voice was throaty and horse, her nose runny and coughing off and on. She cheerfully described herself as "not too sick". After I escorted Aay to the end of the driveway and waited for the bus to arrive, I tried to get Zee to take some medicine mixed with her orange juice. I was partly successful but it became obvious to me that she was not well enough to take with me to exercise class and certainly the other parents would not appreciate Zee bringing and spreading her cold bug to all the other kids in the childcare room.

So all my built up momentum sort of evaporated. I have to describe the rest of my day as lazy. I ran a load of dishes, and couple loads of wash, but generally we sat. We watched cartoons, I burned some dvds, and read, read read.  My day which is normally filled with errands was very quiet, especially in the afternoon when after getting Zee nearly ready to haul off to Library, I relented when I noticed her head starting to nod, and I laid down on the couch with her till she fell asleep.

I didn't even attempt to leave the house again till nearly 6 pm when Chris and I packed up the girls to go pick up George and Anna Marie Luchies' spare truck. (It is for sale, call them if you are interested.) I am going to use it to run around town tomorrow while Chris takes our car to his meeting of the Soggy Bottom Boys in Swift Current. (The Soggy Bottom Boys, are the pastors on this side of the classis, Medicine Hat, Saskatoon, Regina, Burdett and Brooks, a gathering funded by the Lily Endowment funds for Sustaining Pastoral Excellence).

I am hoping that we can get our activities done tomorrow, but if Zee is still sick, it will likely be another lazy day for us.

Lost in my thoughts.

I don't know why, really. But Chris and I have been lost in our thoughts since we came home. Last night we sat and talked about it. About how we felt, not depressed, that is too strong of a word, but certainly not with it.

I know I have had a lot of distracted conversations since I have been back, and I finding routine again has been very tough. Maybe it is a side-effect of skipping November, but we have done that before and come back ready to go. I don't know, I have no answers yet to why we feel this way, but we are sure trying to focus and get back to our lives here.

In the last two weeks, we have gone to music classes, Sunday School program rehearsals,hospital visits, shopping trips, birthday parties, dentists appointments, Parent-teacher interviews, Consistory meetings and Kindergarten baking field trips. Still ahead are more Music lessons, Ministerial meetings, more Baking field trips, music recitals, Sunday School programs and skating parties before the crush of special Christmas services even begins.

But it really isn't that grim. Chris and I have had very little trouble getting our relational routines established. After a few late nights of meetings for Chris, we have gotten chance to catch up on our shared TV shows and gotten to discuss and discuss in depth what we like and didn't. Right now two piles, 5 Weeks's worth of comics sits on our bedroom dresser and as we both read, we steal moments of our day to chat about reactions, as we prepare lunch, or meet in the stairs on the up from the laundry room.

Essentially our family live has been solid. That is one huge benefit at least for us from having moved so far away from our family and old friends. Chris and I have had to become each-other's best friend, and while we been loved and adopted by precious friends here, our distance from our family has meant that our nuclear family unit really had to solidify. It really makes you appreciate your friends, those who keep in touch despite the distance, your new friends who appreciate you even if you drop by unannounced.

As for the girls. They are finally adjusting to the mountain time zone. Their bedtimes has finally stabilized as has their waking times. Zee is in a weird place too. I think I have actually seen her grow bigger before my very eyes recently. I am sure she has shot up at least half-an-inch since we came home. She has also been needing naps in the middle of the day, without necessarily delaying her bedtime.

Yesterday at rehearsal she fell asleep apparently between the first and second song, and slept on the front step of the sanctuary and the rest of the kids went on to rehearse for another hour and half, yet she didn't stay up more than 40 minutes than Aay and her calling from the bedroom wasn't excessive.

Her latest stall tactic is rather cute. It is a variation of her previous ones, because it is starts with the familiarly slurred "I have to tell you something, that I....". She used to end the phrase, "I love you" which has now morphed into  " I love you because...." "I give you hugs and kisses" or "I give you hugs and kisses later..." leaving it open for another call to collect those previously mentioned hugs and kisses. It she has dragged this one out during bedtime, I frequently stop it by simply handing out the kisses and hugs on the spot, and reminding her that it is time to sleep now.  Could be worse things.

So we will be in Church in about an hour, probably watch some football in the afternoon over Chris's shoulder, try to call my Dad and brother and catch up, and hopefully finish up my prep-work on the DC solicitations that will be unveiled at the Captain Comics message board after the embargo lifts on Monday afternoon, that and get lunch and dinner on the table.

Keep  us in your prayers, and we wade thru the emotional fog and get back into rhythm.

Silly Birthday

Today was a silly day. At times frustrating, at others joyful. My watch is dying, so I was a late a lot, but I got sang to by 30 lovely ladies at Coffeebreak, my girls and Chris this morning, and I got lots of hugs. I got calls from my mom, and my father-in-law, and I talked to one of my best-friends Carmen yesterday.

I am not worried about 30. As long as I can keep having birthdays, I am going to be happy.

No recap tonight. Just a prayer request.

While I did watch the race tonight, I didn't watch it with my full attention, and had to take some important phone-calls during the race. My brother's girlfriend ended her life this week, and we just all found about it this afternoon. My brother is incredibly broken-hearted about it as is to expected. Please pray for him, and my mother who is accompanying him up to South Carolina to help him thru the next few days. They have been going thru a incredibly painful time in the last few weeks, but it is still a great shock and incredibly painful. Please join me in praying for Juan, his girlfriend's family and her young son.

Ana Week

When we lived in Grand Rapids we used to celebrate Matt Week, the week of May 22, when my friend Matt Kotman had a birthday. The week long event involved going to baseball games, beers on the porch and just generally toasting what an awesome guy Matt is.

This week has sort of turned into Ana Week. On Monday Chris hosted the out-reach committee for a meeting at our house. One of our friends, Anna-Marie brought a cake for me, and that kicked off Ana week. On Tuesday Chris snuck off to the office with the girls to wrap my present. Every few minutes Aay would run out to report on the progress. "Mami, we are wrapping your present; YOU are going to get a MOVIEEEE!; Mami, you will have to be surprised and guess all the silly things it can be when you open it, okay!", Sure honey, I am so glad she just can't keep a secret.  On Wednesday the phone rang off the hook with calls. Dad, Rosie, Mami, Ralph, Grandma Ronda all called to wish me a happy birthday, in addition to friends. After dinner the girls brought out my present (The first season of the Amazing Race on DVD).  I got cards from my dad, Marianne and my friend Rose. Later in the evening Rose and Harry came over for a minute and Rose brought me a homemade reading pillow. Everyone in the house is now jealous of me and keep eying it. It is the perfect backrest for when I keep watch over the girls by sitting in the hallway between their rooms, to make sure they are staying in bed till they fall asleep. I normally read the paper or knit and it is way more to use my new reading pillow that it was to prop myself up with a rolled up pillow or blanket. Also friends from the Comic book message board I moderate, started a thread of birthday wishes for me.  Yesterday I went of to Bible-study and lots of people wished me a happy birthday, and in the evening we dropped off the girls with Anna-Marie and went out to dinner with our friends, Retha and Maarten and their baby Luka.

Dinner was a lot of fun.Fun adult conversation, lot of laughter and love. I was in such a good mood that I didn't mind how much Zee resisted bedtime. In fact when Matt called to wish me happy birthday at around 10 pm, I just took the phone while I sat next to Zee. She eventually gave up and went to sleep.

So thank you all for the good wishes. I hope that my 29th year of life is as much fun as the rest.

29 years ago this week this was me:   Oct20th         For a fuller version  of my life in pictures, make sure to visit my mom's blog,  Mi Jardin.


I just added new pictures to the 2005 album. They a mostly Zeecentric, as they mostly from her birthday, and from a day she "helped" Chris mow the lawn.

I am doing alright. I just haven't had much to write about. Estoy patinado all the time, sliding from here to there, always in a rush. I have been doing a lot errands stemming from getting my Permanent Residency, faxing Michigan for my driving record, so I can get a full Alberta Driver's lic., driving to Medicine Hat to apply for my social insurance number, etc. Bedtime is getting better, so hopefully I will be in the mental shape to post more in the next few weeks. What has really been keeping me from posting has been the fact that I have been knitting a lot in the last few weeks.

I knitted two scarves, with matching scrunchies for my nieces Erin and Emilee and I am now starting on a new project. Chris and I are big fans of Joss Whedon, and his movie Serenity, is out in the theaters right now. It was a very good film, and I hope it does better at the box-office so we get more of them made. Like most of Whedon's work, his firefly series is very character focused. He creates these strong living people, that are funny, quirky and fascinating. One of our favorites characters from Firefly, the series that Serenity is based on, was Jayne Cobb. Jayne Cobb is mercenary that serves as part of the crew Serenity, as paid muscle. He isn't terribly interested in doing whats right, only in doing what gets him paid. He is this big tough guy, with a girls name. One of the funniest things in the series is when he gets a package from home, and his mom has knitted him this ugly hat, that he absolutely loves.Dork_blank It is just cool that  he sends money home to his mom, and this big brute has a mom back home that thinks the world of him. For the last years fans have been knitting their own versions of the Jayne hat, and the most enterprising ones starting little home business making kits for would be knitters. You can even join the Jayne's Hat Brigade once you become the proud owner of Jayne Hat. I went on-line last week and downloaded a few patterns, and I am doing my best to make a Jayne Hat for Chris. I am a beginner at Knitting, I know the knit, perl, cast on and cast off, but not much more than that and this is my first time trying to work from a pattern. I had a bit of trouble getting the right kind of yarn, so I had to experiment a bit to get the right gauge, but I think I finally got it. It also helped that I took out a book from the Library, called How to Knit by Debbie Bliss, from it I have learned how to do cable cast on, and some other little tricks. If I manage to complete the project I will make sure to take a picture of Chris as Jayne.

Ups and Downs

Chris has commented to me recently that it seems that whenever everything is going really well in the ministry, something seems to come out of left field at home to drag him down. By that he means some unexpected tension, or stress, and its hard not feel dismay. I sort of felt the same way this week. This week I started Aay off in the Music for the Young Child classes, felt very happy how leaving Zee with Mrs. Englebracht is going. I got a good deal on a nice piano, registered the girls in just generally felt very happy with how life in Brooks is going for us. In fact I was very pleased to  have my dad express how lucky we are to have so many opportunities so easily accessible. My father is not normally pleased with our current location. He often asks how much longer we will be up here, so it was immensely pleasing to have him understand that while being small city in the middle of the prairie far from home isn't always the best, we do have amazing opportunities here. Aay and Zee are getting an amazing childhood. On Monday, they went to Harry and Rose's house to pick potatoes. They grabbed out of the dirt yellow, red, purple and banana potatoes out of the ground. They would have surely harvested them all if left to their devises. They also got to pull carrots, and just muck around the mud. It was great to go home a wash all the dirt off the potatoes gentle skin with a nail brush and have a lunch purely from what we harvested. We get live in this community and enjoy picnics at Dinosaur park, and swim at the leisure center, and all without any economic pressure to have me work.

Yet just when I feel so at home here, blessed with friends and opportunities, I realize that summer is ending and with it my break from paperwork. Last week we got a reminder that Alberta Health needs my renewed entry document to maintain my health care. I tried to get a Alberta License since my Michigan license is about to expire and just generally remind me of my still precarious immigration situation. I filed my paperwork for the second time back in Feb. They should be getting around to working on it any day now. In July I sent for my visa extension, and hopefully I will get that before November, and I hopefully will be able to convince Michigan to extend my Lic. till I arrive in Nov or renew it for another 4 years by mail. Either way, I have done my part, but it I still get discouraged and worn down when I think of all the stuff that is not yet resolved. And wish that I could feel as secure in this country and confident that I won't have to be uprooted as I feel about all the choices we have made for Aay and Zee.

So the leaves have started to turn and we have been drenched by some unusual fall showers and generally started closing the windows and bundling up more and more, and as it gets darker earlier I try to fend of discouragement, and hold on the hope that everything will work out for our good.