Day 29…

Hello Friends,

I gave Beth the night off again…

Well, it´s another day in paradise. I feel like this blog is a bit of a broken record, but we went to the park today, again, and played in the sand pit, again. Praise the Lord for this 60 sqare feet of dirt. It is free, and we can easily kill about two or three hours there if the weather holds. We are going into the rainy season, so, as my mother says, the “white fluffies” are slowly being replaced with “grey meanies” in the sky. If it does rain, it is usually just a light drizzle, but it is enough to make us pack up and head for the boring apartment. Beth likes to sit out in the rain for about 20 minutes saying “maybe it´ll blow over” the entire time (she really hates being in the apartment). The good news is, with her strategy, we usually have a built in activity that lasts about 30 minutes at the apartment called “get dry”.

On the way to the park, we stop by this house everyday, but today we had a treat. Two vicious pitbulls cuddling with a duck.

Afterwards, the kids and Beth watched “Madagascar” while the baby and I were put down for a nap.

We then walked to a place called “Del Rodeo” (Spanish for “of the Rodeo”), which was a hamburger joint with a western theme! Being from Texas, I can say they nailed all the preconcieved notions about the place we are from… Every employee was in a vest, jeans, and a cowboy hat, wooden fences between the booths, and pictures of wolves on the wall. We implemented a trick that Dr. Sharon Lee shared with us a few days ago and ordered the kids three adult-sized combos instead of getting five kids meals. We saved about $15 (30,000 pecos) and almost no food was wasted. The best part was, they had a gigantic play area in the center of the resturante. We played for about an hour and a half.

The oldest was “it”, and he chased the other four through all the tubes, slides, and ladders, alst the while bellowing out his best evil-villian laugh. I love it when they play with each other. Partially because it gives Beth and I a break and it reaffirms to us that each kid already has four friends, even though we are here by ourselves.

We found this place a few days ago. It definitely caught our eye from the autopisa!

What up Sharon Lee! This photo is for you! Half an hambrugesa for all…

The youngest boy had to sit out the first 5 minutes because he was a bit naughty during the meal.

The blue net tube proved to be too daunting for our children. The younger ones stopped and cried. The older ones needed to work up their courage before traversing this three feet of mayhem. ¿Porque?

Del Rodeo. Show me a resturante with a playground in it, and I can make it a three hour outing!

We love this parenting gig. If I may quote a good friend from work that has been there and done that, “Parenting is the hardest job you´ll ever love. You guys know I like to make lists, so here are some points that have struck us as new parents…

1. ANYTHING can become an arguement! Every night the boys fight over who gets the middle spot in the bed (since they all sleep in the master bedroom in the apartment). Seriously! I told my Mom and Beth that I can make a pretty compelling arguement as to why that is the worst spot on the bed, but it would take way too long to translate that five-paragraph essay.

2. I´ve been caught sleeping with another woman about three times a week by my wife, but it´s OK. She usually has to leave three other guys to find me, so I feel it´s even.

3. When we go out in public, we have a program called “no child left behind”. We take head counts constantly.

4. I realized today that the brand name on our stroller is “Joovy”. It dawned on me that we have two kids in Joovy every time we need to go somewhere. That makes me laugh (but not out loud).

5. Everything is funnier when you are naked. Beth asked the boys to take off their shirts to get a “Muscle” picture, but it wasn´t long before a couple of plastic jumping frogs were being held in front of their “nippies” (as Beth calls it) with outrageous laughter. A few minutes later, when the pants came off for bath-time… well, I won´t share that story.

Grandma got her tickets to the gun show. Yes, those are the frogs on the floor.

6. As a followup to number 5, it is impossible to discipline when you can´t stop laughing yourself.

7. Throughout the day, I get so much crap and junk given to me, as if it is the most important thing in the world, and asked to hang on to it for later. Today it was a stick that one of the boys found in the park. Yesterday, it was a bottlecap. I´ve decided there is a statute of limitations on “holding junk” of three days. After that, if there has been no utterance of the item in question in that span of time, I declare it as “basura”.

8. With a group our size, we spend more time counting our toys than we do playing with them. Beth on occasion lets the kids play with five Matchbox cars each. It works a little like the NBA draft. Each kid selects a car, in order. Then, in the same order, each kid selects another car. Needless to say, we have a dumptruck with a bent wheel that doesn´t get much action. Nonetheless, the kids count their cars, over and over again, to make sure they have the right amount. As the living room turns into I-20, certain cars make their way from one owner to another. Then the counting commences again.

9. Gibberish is hard to understand. Spanish gibberish is even harder. Lots of O´s and A´s, but that´s about it. I don´t know what normal parents do, but I just nod, and throw in a “Si” or “¡Que bien!” every so often. That seems to make them happy about 90% of the time. (FYI… did you see the upside-down exclaimation point? I´m getting the hang of the Spanish keyboard!)

10. The trade, or “cambia” as it is known here, is the art of nogotiation as a child. Food, toys, seats at the table, etc… Anything can be swaped as a means of appeasement and compromise. I have noticed that the younger kids tend to be so in awe that they are engaged with genuine interest from the older ones that they tend not to notice that they are getting a pretty raw deal most of the time (i.e. “I´ll trade you two broken sand toys for your one good one… after all two is better than one”).

It´s been a pretty fun adventure, and we are rapidly approaching a month living in a foreign country. Thanks again for continued prayer and support. We definitely “feel” the prayer and we love the words of encouragement via Facebook, email, text, etc… Thank you all so much!

At the dinnermesa,

Ty

Day 28…

Another day closer to home…

A day at home, Bogota has become cold & rainy but it´s miserable to stay in the apartment all day so we try to find pockets of good weather to head out in.  Today we went to the park & then walked to the grocery store for our field trip & then back to the park.  Tis the life…

Thank goodness for the sand pit!

Our field trip for the day: the grocery store

Loving all of the producs selections, we´ve tried so many new fruits (some good, some not so much)

No we didn´t buy it but we definitely had people laugh when we took pictures with it.

A shout-out to Grand-dad at home, a Colombian station 🙂

Headed back home after our walk in Bogota

It´s getting colder in Bogota!

Another turd-free shower!

Please pray for good weather, the days are long in the apartment but being able to move around the city makes them so much more bearable.  The kids are doing great!  Anxious to come home, just like Papi, Mami & Grandma!

We have been practicing English as the kids get more curious everyday.  Some favorite phrases:

Please & Thank you

Excuse me

Bathroom please

And they love to count, usually it is because they are counting whatever is in their possession to make the other sibling jealous, but if it´s getting them to count in English I will take it.  They still don´t believe me that there is a “six” in the middle of 5 & 7, maybe someday!

Praying for so many of you daily, hoping that you are lifting our family up too.

At the dinnermesa,

Beth

Day 27…

Trying to keep on the sunny side.

1.  Kid´s put on a puppet show for us this morning.  Their cousin picked out 5 puppets for grandma to bring down with her: a lamb, a lion, a monkey, a duck, & a monkey.  They were a hit once the kids figured out how to use them.  The first show (of about 15) was a sweet song that all of the animals sang together.  The 15th show ended with the lion eating everybody.  Another great life lesson from the our kids.

What do you think Ms. Robyn, do you have a spot for them on the puppet team 🙂

2. We went to a real-live movie in a theatre.  In Bogota you buy your tickets & have assigned seats, we sat in row K.  The theatre was empty but being the rule-following people that we are we sat in row K in our assigned numbers.  During the previews I definitely asked Tyler, “Do I speak Spanish, is it finally all making sense to me?”  He sweetly replied, “No that one was in English.”  We saw La Valiente (Brave) & the kids were a fan, Darth made it through the first hour & then drifted off for a nap.

3. We went & ate at a food court.  We still have not managed ordering food for our kids & a lot is still wasted.  Frustration, it´s like watching $5 bills being thrown into a trash can one nugget or soft drink at a time.  On a side note the sauce that came with the nuggets you ask? Honey mustard, ketchup, ranch, nope…tarter sauce.

4. Our oldest turned 7 today.  We have tried to keep birthdays pretty low key around here otherwise sibling rivalry begins to rear it´s ugly head.  After dinner we bring out the cake sing Happy Birthday, first in Spanish & then in English & one present is opened.  He got a green hot wheels car, 3 pieces of chalk all wrapped up in a Ranger´s t-shirt!

Nice not missing anymore birthdays with our kids!

5. When he opened his present & asked what his t-shirt says, we answered Texas.  He (our oldest, who still likes to use his old last name as a defense tactic) asks us, “When can we finally go home to Texas?”  Thank you God for that sweet reminder that we are all ready to go home.

6. After dinner the kids saw my phone on facebook & asked what it is.  I responded that these are my friends at home.  They then wanted me to show them their friends at home.  So we went through many of our friend´s pages & showed them pictures of all the kids.  They are so excited about their new amigos & amigas.  I wish I could explain to you how much joy that gave me, they are ready to come home & meet all of you, they were beside themselves excited crowding around my phone to see pictures of their new friends waiting for them in Texas.

Trying very hard to find the humor in everyday.  Please pray for our attitudes.  It´s not fair to the kids, they are wonderful & loving & we are bonding as a family but everytime we get a call with no news I can feel our countenance change.  We get shorter & more impatient immediately, and tears are pretty close to the surface.  Usually one of us will snap out of it & remind the other one that this is a blessing, this is the road we signed up for, & this is where God wants us with our kids.

At the dinnermesa,

Beth

Day 26…

Longing for home, luckily God gave us some humor to prepare us for hard news tonight.

We spent the morning & afternoon at the park.  In the morning the kids finally overcame their fear of the mariposas (butterflies) & began catching some of the hundreds that are living there.  Unfortunately it was a bit like Lennie in Of Mice & Men, they kids would tell us that they were sleeping, but let´s be honest there was no movement on several of these loved on creatures.

Snacks with Papi in the park

Collecting mariposas

Making mariposa habitats, you´ll be happy that they included a bedroom, kitchen & bathroom. You will not be happy to know that the bathroom & kitchen is the same room.

Darth has taken to pooping in the shower.  It´s kinda her thing…it´s also disgusting!!!  Probably the most disgusted is big sister who takes a shower with her.  So tonight before their shower I plopped her down on the toilet & big sis & I chanted “poo-poo, poo-poo.” And then it happened…she was shaking her head & saying “no, no, no” & then suddenly looked up with a giant smile & a loud squeal!  Yep she did it & shower time went from  “dodge the turd” back to “loving the water”.

Earlier this evening when we were headed home from the park we took our usual route up to our room.  There is one elevator for our building & we have found out that we can cram all the kids, 2 adults & all of our park toys in it if we all breathe in at the same time.  The odd adult out then quickly runs up the 4 flights of stairs to assist in the unloading of our family in front of our door quietly because we have a disgruntled next door neighbor who does not delight in the family of Nichols next door.

But tonight it was a different story.  Have you seen this episode of The Office?  Don´t worry we didn´t have to establish a “pee corner” but we did get stuck in-between the 2nd & 3rd floors.  As we rang the bell for help our doorman began to give me instructions in Spanish…all I could make out was something about the door, I looked at our kids & asked them what he was saying & they just shrugged their shoulders.  A moment later the door opens a crack & he motions for us to push the door open.  He is sitting there with his tools & says to hold on a minute, we figured that he needed a different tool, nope.  Our door man then sweetly comes with a plastic chair for us to crawl out of the elevator…that fear of your children being cut in half at any moment, that fear of your mother-in-law being cut in half at any moment, then the final fear of yourself being cut in half at any moment (Tyler was the odd adult out & came back down when he realized the elevator didn´t make it to pull everybody out).

Tyler coming to pull us to safety

Stuck in the elevator; had to white out the kid´s faces, sorry “Paint” is in Spanish & this is the only tool I could figure out how to use 🙂

Needless to say we all made it, nobody got cut in half.

Waiting.

At the dinnermesa,

Beth

Day 25…

Another day down.  Bible story & craft project, late breakfast, park, movie.   The kids always get a choice of 2 movies, lately they have just been shouting out a number before I have shown them the movie & today I went with their number.  The boys were pretty disappointed when #1 turned out to be Cinderella, but big girl was pretty happy!

Adam & Eve lesson this morning, snakes for our craft

Afterwards we walked to McDonalds for a special treat…our special treat turned into a 3hr activity!  We were thankful for the cheap outing & a walk home in the rain.

Guess where we went today…

Nuggets for all!

Only 3 & older in the playarea, Darth had to watch with Mami

Bedtime has turned into a bit of an ordeal, in the beginning this was our easiest part of the day but our big boys are becoming more comfortable & have taken to playing after lights out.  I cannot wait until they are in their own beds & not all 3 in the same one.  Darth usually goes to bed immediately but tonight she is the only one still awake!  Maybe the thrill of McDonalds was just too much for her.

We are PRAYING for news tomorrow, the waiting & not knowing is getting to us.  It´s hard to live everyday & feel so helpless not being able to get anything accomplished to go home sooner.  People tell us to enjoy this time & focus on our family, we are.  We love being with them & growing together but this is not home.  This is not where my children will grow up, make friends, go to school, visit family, be able to find structure that they can count on.

Today was promotion Sunday at our church & it was the first time in 5yrs that we haven´t spent the night before praying for the 10th graders that we would be teaching.  We miss them.

Please know that we have found contentment & joy.  We feel like these are our kids & have always been our kids, 3wks ago seems like a lifetime away.  I love these kids, I just want to be around them all of the time, to laugh & play, to teach & discipline, to celebrate & console.  It´s taking everything in me right now not to snatch Darth out of her bed & cuddle with her til she finds rest but that girl would be up all night with her Mami & the Mami would be a grouch tomorrow!

Thanks for reading, random thoughts, impatience, longing & happy all over the place!  I´ll try to do better tomorrow, maybe something exciting will happen (just not lice!!)!

At the dinnermesa,

Beth

Day 24…

Just when you thought the excitment had ended…lice capades 2!!!  That´s right friends the little monsters snuck into our lives again.  As I sit here typing Martha is washing her hair for her comb through.  This is MISERABLE!!!  I woke up at 5am dreading another day of cleaning,  my kids screaming as we went through their hair & laundry as far as the eye could see!!!  Well I wish I could say I was wrong but it was a terrible time.

Luckily God put this verse in my head,…

But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.   Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies ? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.  Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.  “I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God.  Luke 12:5-8

As I went through my children´s hair strand by strand I was quietly reminded that they are God´s children.  I was reminded that this is not the end.  I do not have to fear an infestation of the horrible little bugs because they have no power over mine or my children´s salvation. “The very hairs of your head are all numbered.”  After going through 5 heads (& my kids have a TON of hair), God gently reminded me that He will not leave or forsake me, He loves Tyler & I .  He is here with us in Bogota.

Day ended with hair & house clean (prayerfully!!!) & haircuts for all of the kids & they all look precious (Darth is the spitting image of Tia Sara when she was 2). That way if the storm hits again at least there will be a shorter amount to go through!!

This guy cut 4 of my kid´s hair & he was wonderful & very kind & patient to all of them!!!

We were worried about Darth misbehaving during her haircut, but she ate up all of the attention & flirted with her Papi the whole time!

MIddle son waiting for his turn…mostly because he gets a frozen treat when he is done

Playing with the etch-a-sketches that Abuelita brought for us (missing our Abuelita!)

Enjoying our after hair-cut treat at the park!

A quick trip to the park to get out all of our lice-filled day inside energy!

Mowgli, from the Jungle Book made a quick appearance at the house tonight

Prayer stays steady, we wait for news.

At the dinnermesa,

Beth

Day 23…

Day started off at breakfast trying a new fruit, it looked & tasted a little like you would imagine eyeballs tasting.  Then we made the mistake of asking our maid what the name was…gonorrhea (she actually said guaranaita, but that´s not what we heard).  Unfortunately we have the rule at the house that you have to finish all of your regular food before you can have pan & Tyler walked an extra 1/2 of a mile for a special treat of Dunkin´Donuts, our first “American Pan” since we have been in Colombian.  Needless to say  the kids sucked it down & Tyler, Martha & I swallowed ours whole in 3 big gulps.

Yep, we ate it…

It was worth it for a small taste of home!

After breakfast we headed here.  It was amazing, a zoo, an amuzement park, history lessons, beautiful.  The rest of the post is just an obnoxious amount of picture from our day!  I am glad that report that the kids ALL did really well.  Each one had at least one big blow-up but recovered quickly & were respectful & kind during their time-out (HUGE PROGRESS!!).

First we went to the zoo…

Checking out some of the big cats before it rained on us

Please notice how close we are to the animals…I had a lot of “no hands in the cage” moments today

Checking out the owls, the boys were pretty interested in the dead mice strewn about for their lunch…the girls were pretty disgusted

Squirrels, my arch-nemesis on display at the zoo, kids were pumped to hear that they run rampant in TX. First time I realized that there aren´t squirrels all over Bogota, another point for Colombia

Watching a hippo with Grandma

Checking out one of the monkey islands, we were literally feet from them. Pretty sure I was getting onto our oldest for getting too close to the water.

Crossing a bridge between the monkey islands & thankfully none of the kids jumped into the water. Our money was on Darth, that´s why she is riding Papi´s shoulders

So we went into the pony section which turned out not to be open to the public, luckily all of our kids got to pet the pony´s before we got caught!

Getting ready to ride the horse before we got kicked out

Then we headed to the amuzement park…

Kids playing with one of the giant dinosaurs

Walking out of one of the giant dinosaurs

Riding motorcycles with Grandma

Riding in the swans, Darth had to have constant observation on this ride, the water proved to be too tempting

No tea cups here, only Colombian coffee cups will do

And we saw some of the sights…

Yep, that´s the Taj Mahal in Colombia

The park´s symbol to God, our oldest asked why someone broke that big man´s hand off

It was a really neat place & I was so impressed at how wonderfully it was run & kept up.  If you are ever in Bogota this would be a great place to visit!  That was our last outing for 3 days & Bogota has become rainy.  Please pray that we can fill our days & that there are windows of nice weather to go to the park.

Still no news, we wait for Monday.  Love you & miss you all, please keep us in your prayers & please don´t forget us down here!!

At the dinnermesa,

Beth