Saturday, July 31, 2010

Til Death Do Us Part

Ever have deja vu?

We are still in Ft. Myers...and the other day, we headed to one of our favorite watering spots for dinner, Doc Ford's.

Now, remember - we were here in Ft. Myers the first week in June...

So, back to Doc Ford's...and because I've never met a crab cake I didn't like, the minute my eyes lit on "crab cakes" on the menu, that was it. I needed to go no further...well, other than deciding to supplement the crab cakes with a delicious bowl of clam chowder soup.

My food arrives, and I take a sip of the is creamy, hot...and wait a minute. It's peppery. Too peppery. For me, anyway. My stomach is so sensitive that at some point in the near future, I will be destined for a permanent diet of milquetoast. Except I'm lactose intolerant. And I'm allergic to wheat. So, I guess even milquetoast is out of the question.

Anywho, the clam chowder is too spicy for me to eat. Darn it.

So, I take a bite of the crab cakes...they're flaky, flavorful...and wait a minute. They're spicy. WAAAY spicy. There's some sort of chipotle sauce on the top of them that is burning my mouth.

And then...deja vu.

"Hey," I said....very suspiciously. And I narrow my eyes at my Hubby, as if this was all his fault.

Hubby catches the look, and says, defensively, "What? What did I do??"

I said, "This meal...the clam chowder and crab EXACTLY what I had when we were here in June. And I couldn't eat it then, because it was too spicy."

Hubby says, "And....your point?"

"My point, I if talking to a 3-year old...geesh...."My point, is that you should have remembered that I ordered this and that I couldn't eat it....Why did you let me order it again?"

Hubby looked at me in disbelief.

"I'M supposed to keep track of what you eat and what you can't eat?" he said...and yes, I detected a bit of an attitude in his voice. The nerve.

"Well," I said..."I think that was all part of the marriage vow thingy - you know, sickness and health, spicy or not spicy."

I sat back and looked at him, pleased that I had made my point.

Hubby sat silently for a minute, chewing and swallowing his grilled chicken salad. He then said, "And if I'm remembering those marriage vows, I think there was a part in there about death do us part. And if you don't watch out, that may come sooner, rather than later, for you."


Note to self. I guess it's MY responsibility to remember to quit ordering the clam chowder and crab cakes at Doc Ford's at Ft. Myers Beach. I herby absolve Hubby of any responsibility on this in the future.



Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I may be rethinking this move to Florida...

This afternoon, we had a terrible thunderstorm roll through... was loud and it was intense.

I HATE lightening and thunder.

Hate. It.


I had a heart attack every few seconds when it would go BOOM and the house shook.

I aged 20 years this rate, I'll be dead from old age before the week is out.

And Florida is the lightening capital of the world.


Peace. Seriously. Peace. And quiet.



Monday, July 26, 2010

Catapulting Corpses

I am almost too embarrassed to post this...

...but notice how I said "almost"??

We are here in Ft Myers, having a delightful vacation with the kids.

Tonight, we went to La Casita, an "authentic" Mexican restaurant.

The restaurant had a TV tuned into a Spanish station, which was broadcasting the evening news. With our limited Spanish, we could deduce that they were doing a rather morbid story...according to the report, it appears that the morgues in Arizona are "filling up" with illegal aliens, who are dying due to the extreme heat, and then not being claimed for proper burial.

(Yeah, I know...a GREAT dinner time news story, huh?!)

My 17-year old son watched the story, and then decided he had the perfect solution for Arizona's problem. He said, in all seriousness, "Why can't they just bury them at sea?"

Uh, yeah...cuz Arizona has the most wonderful beaches and oceans surrounding it, huh?!


Of course, Hubby didn't help, when he added, in a deadpan voice, "Yup...Arizona can just catapult them across California into the Pacific Ocean."

(And's embarrassing to know that my son is getting SUCH a wonderful geography education!)



Sunday, July 25, 2010

Now, THESE are Friends!!!

Greetings from sunny Ft Myers!

We flew from KC to Ft Myers yesterday...and although it was rather bumpy, we made it safe and sound. Whew. I hate bumps, but I managed to hold it together for the sake of the kids.

We spent this morning hitting Walmart and Bed, Bath & Beyond, as we had NOTHING for this house! No silverware, plates, cups, pots, pans, food, cleaning supplies, etc. I am sure Sam Walton was grinning in his grave when he saw us roll out the front door with not one, but TWO carts piled with stuff.

We then spent the afternoon at the beach...where my hubby indulged his inner child and spent over an hour building a perfect Egyptian pyramid sand castle. Pictures will follow when I get home.

After dinner, we went to a fabulous restaurant, Doc Ford's, where we indulged in some delicious seafood...while we were there, Hubby got a text message from his boss, Kevin, asking him where we were at. (Now, keep in mind - hubby's boss ALSO has recently purchased a home here in Ft Myers - and in fact, was the one who had talked US into buying here.) Kevin had recently been at his home in Ft Myers but had returned to Kansas City.

Hubby texted back, "We're at your favorite restaurant, Doc Ford's...."

Kevin shot back, "Who's your waiter/waitress? They'd better be treating you good..."

We texted back that Kylie was indeed treating us well....

A few minutes later, Kylie walked up to our table with not one, but TWO desserts that we had not ordered, and said, "Are you friends of Kevin and Debbie's?"

A little confused, we said, "Yes.....why?"

She then said, "Well, they've picked up your tab and insisted that you have dessert, as well."

Well, blow me over with a feather. We were speechless.

THANK YOU, Kevin & Debbie! That was pretty awesome. A total surprise, and much appreciated! Our credit card was feeling the pinch after Walmart and BBB today, for sure!

See? Sometimes it pays off to text while at the dinner table!

Peace, everyone...hope you had a fabulous weekend!


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Round in Circles

I always like to think of myself as a practically-perfect person in every way...and when something happens that shoots down that theory, I am not a happy person.

Take yesterday, for instance.

I had a Red Cross function to attend from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. It was what we call a "Community Disaster Education" program - where we work within a community, teaching disaster skills.

I had the address in hand and hopped into my car at approximately 9:15 a.m. Surely, 45 minutes was plenty of time to get to where I needed to be, right?


I began driving down the highway, and after plugging the address into my car's GPS system, and being repeatedly told, "That address is invalid," I was very, very frustrated. And very, very lost. I didn't have a clue as to where I should be going. (Apparently, the address I had been given was incorrect. But, little did I know this, initially.)

At one point, I found myself at the Kansas City Zoo. Seriously.

Numerous phone calls - to anyone and everyone whom I thought might be able to help me as I was whizzing down the highway at 65 mph - and much, much cursing and wailing and praying - I FINALLY arrived at the venue at 10:45 a.m.

90 minutes of pointless driving...unless seeing the same scenery as I circled 100 times counts for something....

And an empty tank of gas...

And 45 minutes late....


However, upon arrival, I put on my best smile, took a deep breath, and plunged right in, where we educated over 300 children and their families on home fire safety. It was a good day in the neighborhood. Even though it took me 90 minutes to FIND that freakin' neighborhood.



Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Fragments: Good News/Bad News

Another Friday, and another Friday fragments...Today's theme is, "Good News, Bad News."

...I pushed and pushed yesterday, being a pest, but I FINALLY heard back from the surgeon about the moles. The surgeon said he wants to take the moles out in two different procedures - which means TWO surgeries - but at least we're going to get them taken care of. That's the good news...the bad news is, I will have to wait at least another week to have the surgeries since we're leaving town.

...we leave tomorrow for Florida, where we get to move into the new house that we bought last month. It is going to be exciting to have a winter home to escape the cold winters of Kansas City. The bad news is, Tropical Storm Bonnie is going to be dumping lots of rain on us as we visit...

...the good news is, school starts in three weeks! And I'm sorry - there IS no bad news for that, as much as my kids may disagree with me!

...the good news: we've had lots and lots of showings at our old house, which has now been on the market for three weeks. The bad news is, we've had offers - but not the offer we want, and some with, it's not sold. Yet.

And I guess that's it! I don't really have a lot of bad news, actually. I try to stay positive and upbeat through life, so it's difficult for me to find and focus on bad news. In the scope of things, life is good, and we'll tackle this latest challenge on the moles with a positive attitude and prayer and hope.

I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend!



Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Rant About Dr. Tammy

Today's topic is courtesy.

Or, more specifically, lack of courtesy.

Here's the scoop:

I have a dermatologist. We'll call her "Dr. Tammy" for the sake of the blog.

I visited Dr. Tammy on Friday, June 25th, at which time she removed three suspicious moles...I told her at that time that I was leaving for Guatemala on July 8th, and I then asked, "Will I have the lab results back before I leave?"

Dr. Tammy said, "Oh, for sure! You'll probably have them before the July 4th holiday!"

And so, the waiting game began....when would I get that phone call, informing me of the lab results?

July 4th came and phone call....

I called Dr. Tammy's office on July 7th and left a voice mail, informing her that I was leaving for Guatemala the next day, and could she PLEASE call me with the results....??

July 8th came....I had a 1-hour layover in Houston, and so I called Dr. Tammy and left a rather curt message, telling her that I would not wait until my return from Guatemala to know the results - she needed to call me THAT DAY and leave a message on my phone of the results.

When I arrived in Guatemala, I checked my messages, and Dr. Tammy had, indeed, called...her message said, "I am not happy about leaving a message...I'm only doing this at your request." Her message went on to say that 2 of the 3 moles were bad, and I would need surgery to have them excised even more than they were. She said she would have the surgeon contact me to set up the appointment...but she did not tell me who that surgeon would be.

I returned from Guatemala last Saturday - and there has been no messages from any surgeon. Nada. None.

So, Monday morning, I called Dr. Tammy and left a message...stating I had not heard from the surgeon, and could she please call me?

By yesterday, I had not heard from Dr., I called again...leaving another message, this time a little more angry....

She called yesterday afternoon during a wedding reception for our daughter, and said, "I GAVE the information to the surgeon...they should be calling you. I'll call them again to remind them to call you."

Today is Thursday. Still no phone call from the surgeon. To say I am frustrated would be an understatement at this point.

I told my Hubby last night that if I die of skin cancer, he has every right to sue Dr. Tammy and the invisible surgeon.

He thinks I'm kidding.



Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Quality Time

God knew what he was doing when He set up the two-parent thing in families....

Every afternoon, Hubby picks up our (almost) 11-year old Daughter from Day Camp....

Last night, he was telling me that he and Daughter had been discussing Einstein and his Theory of Relativity while driving home from Camp...and he said, proudly, that Daughter was "gettin' it"....he went off into this whole, deep discussion of their very-Scientific conversation, but he pretty much lost me at "Einstein."

I proudly told Hubby that I had spent time with Daughter last night, as well, after dinner...

Oh yes. I will not be outdone in the "spending quality time together" department. Nope.

Daughter and I watched "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" together....

Now, if THAT'S not quality time together, I don't know what is.



Monday, July 19, 2010

The Sinkhole

While driving home Saturday from the airport here in Kansas City, we went through a stretch of highway known by the locals as the "Grandview Triangle." It got that nickname because the convergence of a bunch of highways form a "triangle" when viewed from the air...and, it is such a mess of congestion that we would joke that it was our own version of the "Bermuda Triangle" because cars could enter this area and virtually disappear. Forever.

Who knew that it almost became a reality that cars could disappear? Forever?

We were headed southeast Saturday, and in the northwest lanes, we noticed a bunch of police cars - all with flashing lights - which attracted our attention....

"Look at that!" I said to hubby...."I wonder what happened?"

A sinkhole happened....which completely caused a collapse in the highway. Authorities noticed cracks before the complete collapse, and were able to shut the highway down before any injuries or deaths. Thank God for that. The sinkhole is so large, that cars could really have disappeared - and people could have been killed.

Now, I'm used to sinkholes and mudslides in Guatemala...they're a pretty common occurrence, what with earthquakes, hurricanes and torrential downpours all of the time...

But here? In Kansas City? Not so common.

The Missouri Department of Transportation is now saying the highway will be closed for MONTHS as they first, figure out WHY it happened, and second, then go in to fix it...

And it basically has messed up Hubby's commute to work...along with 35,000 other commuters, from what they are telling us. What a mess.

In the scope of things, it's a small thing - when you compare it to other disasters such as Katrina, the Oil Spill, etc...but it will really screw up a lot of people's lives here in the Kansas City area for the next few months. And Hubby won't be in the best of moods as he deals with this on a daily basis - he's already grumpy and cranky about it.

So, if I get a little grumpy and cranky in the next few months, you'll know why. Blame it on the Grandview Triangle Sinkhole.



Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sniper Attack!

There is definitely a down side to the traveling that I do...

As much as I thoroughly and completely enjoyed this most recent trip to Guatemala, I sometimes miss some momentous and important events in my own children's lives.

Such as yesterday.

As I was winging it back to the United States from Central America, my son was playing in a baseball game.

He hit a home run.

And as he was rounding the bases, he proceeded to trip over 1st base and fall flat on his face.

Understandable when you're, perhaps, 7-years old...but extremely embarrassing when you're 17 years old.

I told him I was very sorry to have missed it, and he said he was NOT sorry I missed it.

I replied, "Look at the bright side...if you were in the major leagues, this would have made the ESPN Bloopers. As it is, there's no photographic evidence of this ever happening."

But, oh, how I wish there this would have been something I would have liked to have seen.


After my son hit the dirt, his teammates ribbed him by yelling, "Sniper Attack!" Aren't his fellow players clever and funny?! Hence, the title of the blog....


Post Trip Thoughts

I got home yesterday from Guatemala...and various thoughts are running through my mind as I deal with unpacking, laundry, cleaning, and "decomposing" from the mission....

...although I love being in my own home with my own family and pets, I have feelings of guilt of being surrounded by so much "stuff", knowing how children are living in Guatemala....

...I feel good about what we did, but I wish we could have done more...although we fed over 1,000 children by the end of the week, I can't help but feel that there are thousands more who probably need us even more.....

...I am so blessed to be able to jump on a plane and leave Guatemala without having to deal with Visas and paperwork and government...we never realize how much FREEDOM we have to travel until we talk with native Guatemalans who tell us of their struggles to be able to leave the country....

...I am very grateful that I did not get sick on this trip...I had a brief 18-hour spell where I had some stomach/digestion issues, but it wasn't major and it passed rather quickly. For the first time in ages, I was able to enjoy the city of Antigua, Guatemala, feeling healthy.

The rooftops of Antigua, Guatemala....

...Once again, I am impressed by my fellow missionaries on this trip. The people I worked with were amazing, and I felt humbled to be in their presence as they ministered to the children.

...Now that I am back home, I have to deal with scheduling my surgery on my cancerous moles...One mole, on my neck, is right on my carotid the heck can they excise that one further when it's so close to the artery??? That has me a little nervous.... The other mole is on my left hip - and it STILL hurts, after 3 weeks of being cut off. The thought of going in for a further excision has me anxious about the pain....

...Kansas City is HOT in the middle of July. I'll take the cooler temperatures of Guatemala any day.



Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mas Grande

Blowing bubbles.

Reading stories.

Beading bracelets.

Kicking soccer balls.

Blowing up balloons.

Twisting pipecleaners.

Spreading refried beans on corn tostados.

Kissing children on the cheeks.

Hugging children in my arms.

Filling cups with oatmeal.

Hearing children's laughter.

Seeing children smile.

Crying when it is time to say goodbye and move to the next site.

Mulitply this by a thousand, and this has been my week in Guatemala.

I am so blessed to have had this experience, and I have grown.

My world is bigger.

My heart has grown.

And my love is never-ending.



Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wanted: A Guatemalan Sherpa

I swear...on everything holy...that I will NEVER complain about rush hour in Kansas City again. Ever. Nada. Nunca. Period.

I think everyone should have the once-in-a-lifetime experience of a rush hour in Guatemala City...and I pray, for your sanity, that it truly IS just once. In your lifetime. Trust me.

I have had the unmitigated joy of experiencing rush hour in Guatemala City every day this week, and frankly? It sucks.

My friend, Ely, only lives 12 miles from our mission headquarters...and it takes one hour to get there...I kid you not. One hour to travel 12 miles. That hour is certainly not boring, however. Oh, no...quite the contrary.

It is an hour of white knuckled, heart-pounding, terror...punctuated by black, billowing smoke of the "chicken buses" 3 million people all hit the highway at the exact same time to commute to wherever they are going. Not to mention, the death-defying lane changes which leave you just a little bit older, a little more grayer, and a little more appreciative of the United States, by the end of the trip.


Anywho, yesterday, we left the house at 6 a.m. so we could arrive at headquarters by 7 a.m. Another bleh.

We then drove about 90 minutes up a twisting, turning, mountain road to an area called San Pedro Ayampuc, which is north of Guatemala City.

Our bus parked at the bottom of a very steep, rocky slope...and the driver then announced that we had to hike the rest of the way up. Seriously? Yes...he was serious. Joy. This slope looked like a home for mountain goats....

We gathered up our suitcases of supplies and hauled them up a very treacherous mountainside...where is a Sherpa when you need one???!!!

We visited a woman's home where there were approximately 50 neighborhood children inside a tiny living room....and I have to say, these children were probably the best-behaved, most wonderfully-mannered children we have yet to encounter on this trip.

We spent 90 minutes reading stories, making bracelets, playing bean bag toss and ring toss, and blowing bubbles, before we served up the tostados with refried beans and vitamin-fortified milk.

When it was time to leave, it became very clear to me that hiking UP the mountain was a heck of a lot easier than hiking DOWN the my shoes insisted on SLIDING down the mountain, instead. They had a mind of their own. No bueno.

The Guatemalan bus driver, Geraldo, became my knight in shining armour, when he gallantly took my arm and assisted me all the way down. It's a good thing, too, because he let go just once, and I immediately about fell on my butt.

Once safely back on the bus, we took a quick lunch break and then went back to the same general area, but not one where we had to climb Mount Everest. Thank God for small favors.

As our bus approached the new village, a hush fell over us, as we looked out our windows with a bit of trepidation and a bit of horror. We had been told to expect about 150 children...and what we saw was overwhelming. There were hundreds and hundreds of children...with moms, dads, aunts, uncles, cousins....

We found out later that the village pastor apparently ADVERTISED our arrival with posters plastered through the mountainside, several days before we came, and so we didn't just have the neighborhood children...we had children from surrounding villages. Heck, we probably had children from Mexico and Belize. We were facing the multitudes.

Were we prepared? Not really.

Mission trips teach flexibility, though, if nothing else. We moved the feeding site and game area from the local church to the neighborhood park...and we quickly huddled together and revised our game plan.

We had enough boxes of sidewalk chalk, that if we broke them in half, we could probably give each child a piece.

When the children realized they were getting a gift, a riot almost erupted. We had to yell and scream for order and to demand that the children line up, so we didn't get swarmed and possibly hurt in the stampede for the chalk.

With hundreds of children, we decided to spend our time playing with bubbles, sidewalk chalk, and well as taking photos of the children and just having fun, running and chasing and laughing.

Two 11-year old boys decided I looked like a good Tag player, and so I spent most of the afternoon in a very spirited, and animated, game of Tag. I think I lost, but it was hard to tell in the chaos. I do know that I am probably a bit too old to be running around on a giant concrete playground, chasing small children, but it was FUN!

As far as the food, we left what we had with the local pastor...he would know, better than anyone, which children would need it.

By the time we had dinner, and drove home, it was very late...hence, no entry yesterday....And I was muy cansada. (very tired.)

All in all, a good day.

And next time? I am so wearing hiking boots. Or hiring me a Sherpa.



Monday, July 12, 2010

Stinky Cheese

Okay, forget pretty much everything I said in my last post about Guatemala.

Remember how I said we were so high yesterday, at one of the churches we worked at, that we were knocking on the door of heaven?

Well, today, we were twice as high as that!!! Seriously.

We began driving up a mountain, and one hour later, we reached the top. At one point, our bus could not make it up the most of us had to get off the bus and walk for a ways! We were like the Little Engine That Could...altho I was pretty sure we could not. But, we made it!

After the long drive, straight uphill, we had the most AMAZING view of Guatemala City I have ever seen...check back in a few days for photos, after I am able to upload them off my camera.

We went to a church, La Iglesia Pentecostal Latinoamericana...which translates to, The Latin America Pentecostal Church.

The church was windows...with a metal roof...and the sun was hot. Add to that, 180 children, 50 moms, and 18 gringos...and you get one VERY HOT and very CROWDED church! We were cooking....I seriously thought I would pass out at one point, I was so hot.

The pastor spoke, the children sang, and we then played games and did activities with the children...inside the church. It was like the inside of a sardine can...but it was extremely fun and it touched my heart. I looked at the bright side of being inside an oven all afternoon...which is, I probably sweated off 10 pounds, at least. I hope.

Then, it was time to make the tostadas and black beans, along with the fortified milk to drink. I was in charge of sprinkling a little queso...aka cheese...on each tostada, so my hands now smell like stinky cheese. I have washed and washed and washed them, to no avail. I am hoping stinky cheese will repel the mosquitos, and not attract them. You think? With my luck, my stinky cheese smelling fingers are probably ringing a silent dinner bell for every mosquito in Guatemala.

We then played Bombas de Jabon, which was a riot, altho we did take that outside....and by then, the clouds have moved in and it was so refreshing....

When it was time to say goodbye...I kid you not...ALL 180 children hugged and kissed each one of us. As well as most of the moms. It brought me to tears....

We had a long trip down the mountain, and I was thanking God for good brakes on the bus...altho they did squeak a bit. By then, it was almost 6 pm, and we had worked up an appetite.

We made it to headquarters by 7 pm, where we had a delicious dinner of fresh avacado and tostadas....okay, there were sandwiches, too, but I pretty much made a meal of the fresh avacado. It is absolutely to die for cannot get much fresher!

And...there were brownies for dessert. Which is truly amazing, as I ALWAYS have brownies on Monday. It is a tradition at my house, so it was a gift from God to have our cook make frosted brownies for dessert tonight. Heaven.

Ely and I had a 45 minute drive home tonight, in the pouring down rain...much thunder and lightening and flooding, like last night, so traffic was very, very slow.

Tomorrow is another long day...Ely and I will leave her house at 6 am, in order to be at Headquarters by 7 am. We then have two feeding sites we have to do, so it will be another 14 hour day.

But give me a brownie at the end of it, and I am one happy girl.



Bombs of Soap

The children of Guatemala can be pretty overwhelming....

...they have tons of energy and tons of curiosity and tons of questions...

...and yet, this project is absolutely fantastico.

We had a very, very long day yesterday...our first feeding site was about 60 minutes away from Headquarters, and so we loaded our tiny school bus, filled with people, tortillas, beans, milk, games and crafts, and headed to La Iglesia Filadelfia, which means the Church of Philadelphia.

Once there, we were greeted by 50 small children, teachers, and parents....The children sang songs for us, and then we split the children up into groups of 5 or 6, with each of us taking a group. In my group, I pathetically attempted to read Bible stories in Spanish...the children were very gracious and patient as I, am sure, butchered the Spanish language.

I eventually gave up on the reading, and whipped out my family photo album, which the children LOVED. Pics of family, friends, pets, and previous trips to Guatemala were pored over, examined, and appreciated. The kids absolutely love seeing pics of our life back home...they are very curious about it, and asked tons of questions, which I did my best to answer in my elementary Spanish.

We then blew Bubbles with the kids...although I like the Spanish name for Bubbles, which is Bombas de Jabon...which literally translates to Bombs of Soap. I love that!

When it came time to serve the tortillas and milk and beans, we had the children sit down as we passed out the food, making sure we blessed each child and hugged them as we gave them the nourishment.

It was hard to say goodbye, but it was now lunch time for us...we drove for another 60 minutes and had a delicious chicken lunch at Pollo Campero, which is the KFC of Guatemala. The restaurant had the World Cup Soccer Finals broadcast over the intercom, and it was very loud...but fun!

After lunch, another 60 minute drive, way, way up into the mountains, where we visted La Iglesia Puerta del Cielo...which means, Door to Heaven...and we were up so high, I felt like we really WERE knocking on the door of heaven!

We had approximately 155 children here, so it was very overwhelming...we were in the middle of a stadium, and then the afternoon rains began...we attempted to find shelter as we worked in small groups with the kids, but I think we all got wet. But, heck...this rain was pretty fresh, as it did not have to travel too far from the clouds to reach us!

Despite the language barrier...and the was a lot of fun. The Bombs of Soap was another HUGE hit with the children...I have photos, but I do not have a way of uploading them here in Guatemala, and will have to add photos to this entry when I get back to the States.

We did not leave here until after 5 pm, and it was a long drive back on the bus...and it was raining...and we stopped at a grocery store for supplies for later. The water in the roads was now up to the doors of was very deep...and when we attempted to leave the store, our bus would not work. Uh oh. Problem.

We were broke a grocery store parking the dark and Guatemala City. Not a good situation. The bus driver, Geraldo, worked on the bus feverishly, trying to fix the problem, for about 30 minutes.

He eventually had success and backed the bus up to pull out of the parking lot, when the unthinkable broke down again. And we were now blocking all traffic in and out of the parking lot. Cars began honking at us, people were shaking their fists at us, and we were stuck. Uh oh. Geraldo once again jumped out in the rain, raised the hood, and after 5 minutes or so, fixed the problem. Good thing, as we almost had a riot in the parking lot. And a riot in Guatemala City is NOT something you ever want to experience...especially if you are the cause of it.

We got back to headquarters to a steak and rice dinner, with Tres Leches for dessert... and then it was time for bed. Exhaustion. Complete and utter exhaustion.

But so much fun...I mean, playing with Bombs of Soap is so worth any price, right?



Saturday, July 10, 2010

How About Some Fried Ants?

My brain hurts.


My Spanish is elementary at best, and so for me to converse in Spanish, it takes a monumental effort on my part of first, thinking of what I want to say, and then thinking of the correct Spanish words to say it...then, when the person speaks back to me in Spanish, I have to think of what they are saying and translate it back. Got all that? I have been immersed in Spanish all day, and my brain hurts from too much thinking.

Thursday night, I slept very well...a noise machine and an eye mask will do that to you...and...oh yeah, an Ambien helps. My friend, Ely, has a neighbor, Maria, who I have met on a previous trip. Maria comes over Friday morning and the three of us take a walk through the neighborhood, on our way to the supermarket for some groceries. The store is called a "dispensia familia", and I thought perhaps they were giving out in despensing families. Um, no, Ely says...well, I tried.

I laughed inside the store when I found a 2 liter bottle of Coke, a liter of Rum, and a bag of chips...all wrapped up in plastic...a party in a bag, if you will....

We left the store at noon, which turned out to be a big mistake....A nearby factory has begun their lunch we walk by, the gates open and dozens and dozens of men, women and seemingly, children, come running out into the streets at breakneck speed. Apparently, they only have 30 minutes for lunch, so speed is of the essence, and God help you if you get in their way...they will knock you over. It was intense and it was crazy, and just a little bit scary. Imagine Walmart when the doors open the day after Thanksgiving, and you get the picture.

Speaking of pictures, I had taken my camera on the walk, intending to get some neighborhood photos...but Ely and Maria about had apoplexy when they saw it and insisted that I hide it for the duration of the walk.

For lunch, we had delicious aguacate (avacado), mashed potatoes, fish sticks, tortillas, and a wonderful cheese called queso de was wonderful.

During lunch, Ely told me of a delicacy called zompopo...which are large, giant ants...the body of the ant is fried and then eaten. Ely says its pretty good, but I politely told her I would take her word for it.

The rains began around 1 pm, and did not let up the rest of the day. I spent a very quiet afternoon watching Spanish television...The Three Stooges are a hoot, and you do not even have to know Spanish to laugh.

A good second day in Guatemala...on Saturday, the rest of the mission group arrives, and we will discuss the project, which begins Sunday. It was nice to acclimate and immerse and relax a bit....



Friday, July 9, 2010

The Best And Worst of Times

I am now in Guatemala City...after a long and tumultuous day of travel yesterday....

I left Kansas City extremely early and extremely frustrated, after not hearing from my dermatology doctor about the pathology results of my three questionable moles. Upon arriving in Houston for a brief layover, I called my doctor and left a somewhat exasperated message for her...I told her that the uncertainty of not knowing the lab results for 10 days was FAR worse than any kind of results she had for me, and she was to please call me asap and not wait upon my return to the States.

The flight from Houston to Guatemala City was a roller was extremely bumpy, but I managed my anxiety and fear rather well. It helped that I was sitting next to a Canadian lady who does mission work in Guatemala City, working with children who suffer from malnutrition. We enjoyed talking about mission work, and she was delighted to hear about our mission and the feeding we would be doing.

After a delicious lunch of peanuts, or rather steak, mashed potatoes and cheesecake, we settled back and enjoyed the ride. Right. Up. Down. Sideways. Rock and roll.

Anywho, I arrived in Guatemala City, breezed through Immigration, and then went to Baggage Claim to retrieve my luggage. It was there that I was able to see that my doctor had called me and left a message.

And the message was not good.

It appears that two of the three moles are bad...bad enough that my doctor was reluctant to leave the message and only did so at my request...and bad enough that I must schedule surgery upon my return to do further excision upon them both. Oh, joy.

Wow. Arriving in the land of my dreams, where I am always the most be hit with a message like that. But I asked for it, right?

I gathered up my suitcase, wiped away a brief tear, and then breezed through Customs to meet my friends, Ely and her son, Jose.

We went to a grocery store where I was hankering for chips and salsa...chips were easy to find, but no such luck on the salsa. We could not find it, and nor could the grocery clerks. How funny to not find salsa in Guatemala! After an intense search in the storage room, the clerk came running out, triumphant, with salsa! Success!

A long ride home...short mileage, but lots of traffic...hence, the photo above, to relax and catch up and laugh at each other and our pathetic attempts at our language barrier...her English is much better than my espanol....

First impressions upon my 8th visit back to Guatemala...rain, lots of mosquitos who have found a new target, and chilly weather...and much more American influence. We passed lots of new Taco Bells in the city, and one Chucky Cheese. Oh, the humanity.

Adios until tomorrow....!



Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Case of Ding Dongs

T minus 36...

Hours, that is...until Trip #8 to Guatemala!

This trip will involve driving to locations in and around Guatemala City, twice a day, in order to feed hungry children.

After each feeding, we hope to do games, crafts and other fun activities - combined with a lot of loving and hugging.

Sounds fun, huh? I think so.

My oldest son will also be in Guatemala, but will be in a totally different part of the country. Which has me a little nervous, but it's his 4th trip, so he knows the area and people. And the language.

So, off for some last minute shopping...the Guatemalan lady that I will be staying with loves Ding Dongs...which cannot be found in Guatemala. So, I'm going down with a suitcase full of creme-filled chocolate cakes....

Customs will love that.



Monday, July 5, 2010

Weekend in Review: Unheard Of!

This past weekend was special - it's the first 4th of July that I've been in the country in the last several years....Normally, my butt is in Guatemala during this time, so it was kinda' cool to be at home in the good 'ole U.S.A.!

Friday night, Hubby and I and Daughter headed out for some delicious Mexican dinner and then went to the show. We saw Toy Story 3 - which was pretty freakin' awesome. I loved it. And I cried. Couldn't help it. Of course, I'm the girl that cries during commercials on it's not a stretch that I would cry during the movie. I HIGHLY recommend seeing this movie if you haven't already!

Saturday was my nephew's 5th birthday party, so we headed over to party with the family. My nephew is into Toy Story and Pirates - which is an interesting combination. I think just about every single gift he got was Toy Story-related. And we all got to wear pirate patches and pirate hats - aaarg, maties - it was fun.

Until the monsoon hit. We were outside, and the sky turned dark, the winds came, and then we were all soaked. I guess pirates would get soaked on their ship during storms, so we were just getting into character, I guess.

Saturday night was the night from hell for me. I finished up a book around midnight, and then turned off the lights to sleep. But sleep was elusive - it did not come. At 1:00 a.m., I gave up, got up, and took a sleeping pill, which eventually kicked in. I'm tellin' ya, though - insomnia sucks.

Sunday was the 4th of July - and we headed over to the Yacht Club in the morning for the Ski Show on the lake and games and a picnic. I had volunteered to bartend for an hour at the Tiki Hut, and so I was kept busy, whipping up Bloody Marys and Screwdrivers....I'm heavy on the vodka, so I had quite a bit of business. :) Hubby and daughter kept busy wandering through the crowd (there was at least 150 people there) and chatting with neighbors and watching the awesome Ski Show on the lake.

The children had some old-fashioned games - turtle races, egg races, sack races - and then we had a delicious picnic of burgers, cole slaw and beans. Yummy. And I had one of my Screwdrivers to top it off. Even better.

We got home around 1:00 pm and then all three of us - Hubby, Daughter and me - all collapsed for a nap. That is UNHEARD of in this house! We never take naps! Maybe there was some Xanax in the food or something....

Hubby and Daughter went over to Oldest Stepdaughter's house last night for the fireworks...being that I absolutely hate fireworks, I hibernated at home with the pets. My dog didn't seem to mind the Boom Boom Pow going on, but my cats? Different story. Now I know where the term "scaredy-cat" comes from. I felt their pain, as I hate the noise, too. I cranked up the TV and tried to drown it all out - but it was hard.

I eventually gave up and gave in, grabbed the dog, and went down to the dock to watch some of the fireworks over the lake. This is unheard of - ME, watching fireworks...but it was kinda' cool to sit there in the dark, with the dog, watching the reflection of the fireworks over the water...

The fireworks at the lake had just finished at 9:30 pm when the skies opened and the rains came...and it rained all night and has been pretty much raining all day today...but that gave me a good excuse to pull the suitcase out and get my packing for Guatemala done EARLY.

Yes, you read that right...EARLY. I am packed 3 days before I leave.

Unheard of.

But soooooo nice.

And - we had FOUR showings of the "old" house over the weekend - which, considering it was a holiday weekend, we were thrilled. Feedback has been very positive - so we're crossing our fingers that one of those showings will lead to an offer.

How was YOUR weekend?? Did you do anything unheard of??!



Hubby's Shopping Trip

A few weeks ago, we celebrated Father's Day - and Hubby received some gift cards to Cabela's - a fabulous, giant sports store located here in Kansas City. Those gift cards had been burning a hole in Hubby's the point that on Saturday, he couldn't stand it any longer.

He eagerly snatched up his gift cards and ran out the door to his car, hollering at me, "I'm heading to Cabela's - there's some boat thingies I need to get."

(Okay, he really didn't say "thingies"...I'm sure he used the technical words, but because I'm not a technical boat person, all I heard was "thingies.")

Anywho, he heads off, does his shopping, and then heads to the check-out counter, where he proudly hands the cashier his Cabela's gift cards when it came time to pay for his thingies.

The clerk says, "I'm sorry...I can't take those."

Hubby looks shocked....and says, "What do you mean, you can't take those??! That's crazy! Why can't I use my gift cards??"

And the clerk says, "Because you're not at a Cabela's, sir...this is a Bass Pro Shop."


In his excitement, Hubby went to the wrong store. And for all their supposedly wonderful customer service, the fine folks at Bass Pro Shop wouldn't accept gift cards to their biggest competitor, Cabela's. Go figure.



Friday, July 2, 2010

Friday Fragments: The Summer Edition

A gorgeous Friday here in the Heartland, and I have nothing but fragments...

1. A cramp in my leg was my wake-up call this morning...ACK! I hate that. I kicked up my jogging a little yesterday on the treadmill, and I think this is the result. I won't be jogging today - as I am doing good to limp today.

2. I love the 99-cent Sonic sundaes after 8:00 p.m. Hot fudge is one of the best foods ever invented.

3. I played Boat Bunko the other night...picture four pontoon boats with 20 wild women, and you get the picture. Lots of fun, laughter and good times. I had the most wins of the night - that NEVER happens, so its worth mentioning.

The ladies of Boat Bunko in Winnebago....

4. I leave for Guatemala in one week...frantically getting last-minute things ready for my family to carry on without me for 10 days. We'll be feeding orphaned children in Guatemala City - I hope to have some amazing stories when I get back of how this mission trip has touched me.

5. Still waiting to hear from the lab on my 3 moles that were removed last week....praying for good news....

6. Went and watched 17-year old son pitch the other night...his new coach has "tweaked" his curve ball, and it's not as effective as what his "old" curve ball was. Baseball is 90% psychological - son is now struggling with his pitching, and it's hard as a Mom to watch. I can't wait for this summer season to end so we can kiss this coach goodbye and son can get back to his old routine and his old curveball, which was VERY effective.

7. I love Top Chef on Bravo well as the Real Housewife guilty summertime viewing pleasures....

8. "Wipeout" on ABC makes me laugh...

9. Was driving home the other afternoon, and a Mama Deer and her baby fawn were on the side of the road. Because I take my camera everywhere, I managed to snag a photo. The fawn was too cute - but has a tendency to sometimes stand in the middle of the road, according to neighbors' reports. The fawn needs to learn an important lesson about cars...and deer...before it's too late.

10. Am I the only non-Twilight fan in the country? I struggled through the first book, gave up in the 2nd book, and haven't even picked up the 3rd or 4th books...I won't be watching the movies.

11. I AM reading a series of books now by the author Randy Wayne White...his "Doc Ford" books are pretty awesome. I'm in Book #3 right now - and there's 17. Yikes. I need to get going on that reading!

Have a great Friday, everyone!