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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Remedy Mexico Mission Trip 2013

For years I have been wanting to go on church Missions Trips to be able to help serve and put my Spanish to use, and there seems to have always been something that kept me from going - college, work, babies... So when this Mexico trip came up at church a few months ago it was really on my heart again.  After praying about it for a month or two and confirming help with the boys while I was gone, I was able to make plans to join the team from our church and head to Mexico to work!  

We were just west of Tecate, Mexico, on a plot of land that was donated by a man who is referred to as the 'grandfather', who owns this and two other mountains behind it.  It is to be the home of an orphanage called "Mi Casa Children's Home".  On the trip was a group from our church, three men from First Baptist Stockton, and a church group from San Jose there that weekend.  

This was a building trip, working on the third of what will be six houses, each to have a set of parents and up to twelve children in them, with the first kids hopefully coming next summer!  If you want to know more of the back story about the group (well, the man, really - his name is Ken LaPoint) in charge of this whole project you can read here and see more pictures here. Construction has come a long way in the past several years, with facilities for the churches and visiting groups to stay in and three houses nearing completion.  

The trip was an amazing experience, getting to be a part of what is being built there, meeting, playing with, and loving on other orphan children who visited, and having the time to doing something for the benefit of others (that aren't my children!).  As the site caretaker, Roberto, told me, this is "just the first of many trips down here for you."  I'm hoping that ends up being true!

My mom took care of the boys the first two days while Jimmy was at work.  Here they are having fun at the park while I was in the van headed toward the border.

My mom texted when we were driving down and said Caleb wanted to know 'where I was going to sleep and what kind of car I was riding in', so I had someone take this picture for me when we were stopped near San Diego.  Such a curious kid.  Mind always running, and always lots of questions! :)

 Usually the group has tacos brought in from this place, Tacos Dumas, one night, but this year the group went to the taco restaurant instead for dinner after we arrived.  Yummy Carne Asada tacos!

Here is the kitchen where we all took turns preparing meals for our group.  

And the dining area/common room for hanging out and playing games during our free time.

The first morning we hiked up the rather steep hill to these three crosses that overlook the property of Mi Casa and the surrounding areas.  It was really chilly, but neat to see everything from up above.

Looking down on the three houses.  The one on the right with the gray roof is where we did work.

Inside of one of the other houses this beautiful mural with the Fruits of the Spirit was covering the entire living room wall. I was told that a woman who used to teach English in Mexico stopped at some point and now goes around to different orphanages in Mexico to paint bright and cheerful wall murals.  It will be cool to see if she does one in each house as they are built...

This is house #3, the one we did work on.

Here is what things looked like in house #3 when we arrived...

I learned how to do all kinds of things I never thought I'd have need to learn: Cutting and hanging sheetrock, taping and mudding walls, sanding walls and ceilings, and putting on baseboards.  April Nathan and I were quite proud when we successfully measured and cut this piece and it all fit correctly, as it was one of our first attempts with the sheet rocking!

On Friday a group of orphans from an orphanage in Tijuana came for lunch and to play.  We had so much fun hanging out with them.  They wanted to learn how to play all the card and board games we had, and loved just hanging out with us.  One teenage girl named Fernanda took me by the hand and asked me to show here around, where we sleep, where the kitchen is, where we were doing work, etc.  Then she looked through all 250 pictures on my phone forwards and backwards, played with some of my kids' apps that don't require internet, and I later saw that she had taken a picture of herself, too!  She was a sweet girl.  

This is Luis Angel.  As you can see he has a very silly personality.
This is Fernanda. :)

Though Josh (left) has limited Spanish abilities, he was able to play with these boys and they were understanding the game.
This is Ana on the left.  I had to explain this game, called 'Strut', to her in Spanish.  It has a ton of rules so it was difficult, but she figured it out and sat and played with Christine, despite the minimal verbal communication.
This backhoe was working on the last morning to dig out trenches for workers to build the foundation of a storage building.  I really took this picture for our boys who love tractors and construction equipment, but it also shows the dogs that live on site, Negra (mama), and Negra (her daughter).  Yes, they have the same name.  Not sure why, but they were sweet dogs.

 Most nights we spent our free time playing card games.  It was a lot of fun, and you could really tell who the competitive ones are in the group!

After saturating my hand in paint while trying to remove rollers from the handles...

...I decided I might as well put that paint to use for something.  Mexico 2013 souvenir :)

Meanwhile in Lodi Daddy was having fun playing harmonicas with his boys, among many other things.  They had a fun and busy weekend without mommy, and the boys did great (thank you Lord!)!

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Had lots of fun playing with shaving cream this summer.  After the first time it occurred to me to contain the mess somehow, and our inflatable pool worked wonderfully!  Slippery, but fun. :) 
(Note to those who want to try it: buy the Sensitive Skin shave cream so it doesn't bother their skin!)

Was very surprised and sort of grossed out to discover a lizard hanging out in our Zucchini plant last month.  I was moving the large leaves looking for zucchini to pick and saw this (below), and thought "Hmm, that looks like a different texture than a zucchini"... then I noticed the little foot, moved another leaf to see the rest of the tail, and yet another leaf and saw an eyeball looking up at me!  I ran and grabbed my neighbor and she tried to help me catch him, but we didn't have any luck.  He was much too fast.  Not sure where he came from, but the guy that works at the WOW museum said it sounded to him like an alligator lizard, and that they bite!  Maybe its a good thing we didn't catch him!

The boys happy to see daddy after he returned from ten days in Panama and Colombia.

Play date at Peterson Park.  Boys will be boys - they love to play in the dirt!

Making eyes like binoculars...

We were offered some Giants tickets and decided to take the boys for their first game!  It was fun, we had great seats in the Field Club level (?) and the boys actually sat through the Will Mac Award Ceremony and the first two innings of the game.

The backpack leash was perfect for keeping Landon close by!

Our church had a Family Camp weekend, camping and activities out on someone's property in Clements.  Our first 'camping' trip with the boys.  Lots of fun, next to no sleep!

Landon feeding the horses

Sunday morning church in the country

When the garbage truck comes while the boys are still awake (ours usually comes around lunch or nap time) they love to sit on the front porch and watch him.

Jimmy took Caleb to get a new bike a few weeks ago.  He was so excited that after laying in his bed for about 20 minutes he came out and said "Mommy did I sleep long enough?  Can we put my bike together now?"  I knew a nap would be a lost cause at that point, so he excitedly helped Jimmy put it together and was all smiles as he rode it for the next THREE AND A HALF HOURS!

One of Landon's silly expressions...

When Jimmy's September travels were finally done he and I took a much needed overnight trip to San Francisco to celebrate a belated 6th Anniversary.  It was the first overnight trip we have done since kids (I know, some of you are wondering how we've made it this long without doing that...).  Now that we know what we were missing we will hopefully be doing them more regularly!  It was SO nice to get away and enjoy a yummy dinner together at Kokkari (thanks Steve!!).
First time across the new span of the Bay Bridge!  Neat to see them side by side since it won't be like that forever!

It poured all the way to the City so we weren't sure what we would be able to do once we got there, but luckily the rain passed and we ended up checking out the Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park.  It was really cool, even for adults.  Going to keep an eye out for Groupon deals there (let me know if you see any!) for a fun winter weather day trip!

I always love to see the jelly fish at aquariums - they are such amazing looking creatures.  So cool that we have such a creative Creator. :)  These ones had color-changing lights shining on them.

View from the apartment that our friends let us stay at - Golden Gate way in the distance.

Our special dessert at Kokkari.  They treated us very well and we left STUFFED!

Beautiful morning for a breakfast outdoors

JImmy reading Caleb the book we bought them from Academy of Sciences, a Dr. Seuss series one called "Hark, A Shark!"
 Landon likes to bring out half of his bed with him when he wakes up in the morning...

Trying on silly Halloween wigs at Target:

Mommy is getting more and more comfortable letting her boys play in dirt. :_  This is a mound at the neighbor's house across the street that we had fun gathering sticks and digging around in.

Check out Landon's dirt shiner from rubbing dirty hands on his eyes.

 Felt artsy one afternoon so we did a few fall art projects