Monday, February 23, 2009

Jackson is doing much better now. He had his last visit to the plastic surgeon today (no surgery, just monitoring the healing) and now we just have to wait for the scabs to heal. Thanks to all of you for your prayers and praise God for His healing powers! The body of a little guy like Jackson is amazing--easily hurt, easily healed.

We're right in the middle of Carnaval. Every day over three million people fill just a couple of miles of street. We're far from the action so we're just enjoying the peace and quiet! Next Sunday we'll have a kick-off breakfast at church and everything will start up again.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Here's a little video of the happy birthday song. It's a little longer here--and they even skipped a verse!

Jackson's First Birthday

Jackson's First Birthday, originally uploaded by russandval.

Okay, one last picture so you can get a sense of the decorations. These are some (just SOME) of the rental decorations. You rent them as a package, otherwise I might not have chosen some of this stuff. It was kind of cool, though--a little replica of a farm complete with electric lights.


Jackson's First Birthday, originally uploaded by russandval.

I have a serious balloon addiction. No, really.

Okay but for real, they like you to order the balloons by the thousand. Then they figure out where to put them all. Kind of fun, really! And I've always dreamed of having a balloon arch!

The Cake

Jackson's First Birthday, originally uploaded by russandval.

One of the members of our small group does cakes. I told her the theme and this is what she did. She did a great job and it was delicious.

Birthday Party!

Jackson's First Birthday, originally uploaded by russandval.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Again? Really?!

Yesterday I was going to write all about how wonderful Jackson is and how much he has added to our lives as a birthday tribute.

Instead, at exactly the same time that one year ago Russ was driving me to the hospital to give birth, he was driving to a different hospital to take Jackson to the ER.

Don't freak out--he's fine. He poured a hot cup of coffee all over himself and was burned on his face, chest and "inside his diaper" (one day the kid is going to be old enough to read what I've said about him online so I'll leave it at that!). But he was pretty miserable and it made yesterday kind of tough.

We've had to take Jackson to the ER a few times in the past year, but never when he was screaming like this. And with the location of his burns, I was holding him in my arms rather than putting him in his carseat. It was raining and traffic was bad. So when I looked at the clock and realized what we were doing exactly 366 days ago I got an eerie chill.

I was praying pretty hard.

We made it to the hospital okay, Jackson was seen by a nice doctor and, before we knew it, we were home with a patched-up kid.

I've heard it said that when we receive something we have prayed for, we should make sure to thank God at least as many times as we asked. Yesterday's events reminded me I'm a little behind.

But I've been making up for lost time ever since!

(We took Jackson back to get his dressing changed today and he's doing much better. It'll just take a little time to heal.)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

How to Throw a Birthday Party

We decided that for Jackson's first birthday we would throw a "typical" Brazilian birthday party. I'd never planned a Brazilian birthday party so it was definitely a learning experience. I figured I should pass on my new found knowledge.

Before we get started, I need you to know two things:
1. This party was considered a "small party". Seriously.

2. We had help in paying for it. Some of our family members gave money to use for the party instead of toys. I felt like I needed to make that clear since some of you help pay our bills!

Oh, and I say this is a typical Brazilian birthday party, but it may be that this is just a typical party in Salvador. I don't know what they do in the rest of the country but here in Bahia, it's how we roll!

How to Throw a Birthday Party
1. Decide what size party you will be having. As I said above, our party was considered small. It helps that we don't have any family in the area. We did our best to limit our guest list or it would have easily been over a hundred people and we just couldn't afford that! As it was, we pretty much invited the whole church. It's important to know that when you give someone an invitation, you are inviting their whole immediate family (and occasionally other people). That's why it's so easy for the numbers to balloon out of control.

2. Find a party planner. In our neighborhood, there are tons of shops that handle parties. The level of involvement the planner will have is up to you. Some planners will do everything--decorations, food, furniture rental, moon bounce, etc.--and some will only do the decorations but will recommend people to handle the other stuff. We went with the latter. Each shop has party decorations to rent and party favors and themed paper goods for sale. When you go in, ask to look at their theme books. They'll have albums and albums of pictures of past parties.

3. Pick a theme. I had already picked my theme (farm) before my visit to the shop but some of the most popular ones are Hello Kitty, Winnie the Poo, Backyardigans and any sort of superhero. Once you pick a theme, you don't that that many more decisions to make regarding the decorating. The planner will have done this theme a million times and most people just go with the standard setup. Then there's me--I insisted on going with a color combination for the balloons that she had *never-in-twenty-years-of-decorating* used for a farm theme. Oh well, it seemed to work out. Your planner with go through all the possible elements and you can add or subtract at will. We were able to cut a few corners here by picking up the decorations ourselves and doing our own centerpieces.

4. Choose the food. I use the term "choose" loosely because there isn't much choice. You'll be serving sweet and savory snacks, all "finger-food". We opted to use a local bakery instead of a catering place and bought our drinks from Sam's Club. I have a party planning book that gave me an estimate of how much food we needed per person but we quickly ran out of the savory snacks. No one seemed to mind too much.

5. Enjoy! The day of the party, your responsibilities include looking beautiful and making sure the kid is in a good mood for the party. Unless, of course, you've decided to make your own centerpieces, use the bakery for your food instead of a company that would have delivered it, buy huge mylar balloons that need to be taken to the mall to fill, have the cake made by someone who lives across town and doesn't have a car, and live thousands of miles away from your family. Then your day might be a little trickier. Hopefully your teammates will show up early and help finish putting together centerpieces, glue the take-home craft, walk the dog and get the baby dressed!

So that's a party! And ours was a simple party. We could have opted to have a trampoline or a moon bounce, or even to have had it at a special "party buffet" where everything, from food to entertainment is taken care of.

Later I'll post some pictures from our actual party!

Hrm. This post was originally going to have photos but I guess I'll have to save them all for the next post.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Quick Update

Why did I worry? They came! There were even people I didn't know! We had about 50 people come celebrate Jackson's first year of life. It was a lot of fun and I took Jackson upstairs for bed at around 10:00. Tomorrow I'll share pictures with you!


So I'm sitting here, three hours before Jackson's birthday party, and I'm freaked out. I hate throwing parties. Well, that's not entirely accurate. I love planning for parties, decorating for parties, making food for parties, all that stuff. It's the actual moments just before the party I hate.

You know that little voice that says, "I wonder if anyone will show up!"

And see, a few years ago, that really did happen. I had planned an awesome bridal shower for my best friend and NO ONE CAME. (Well, she and I were there, as was my dutiful sister. But that's it.) Everyone had really good excuses but it didn't change the fact that we sat and waited and waited and no one ever came.

That's what I remember every time I plan anything. My one failure. Amazing what the enemy finds to make us doubt ourselves.

I'm sure tonight will be fine. At the very least, I've got my dutiful teammates to show up for this one!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sigh. My baby is turning one in less than a week! We're having a big shindig this Friday night to celebrate so I've got birthday on the brain. I know that at some point in the next week or two I'll sit down and wax poetic about my amazing little guy, as well as share pictures from the party, but in the meantime here's a month-by-month look at the past year with our JT.
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Sunday, February 08, 2009

New Class!

I don't know if you've been paying attention but our team has grown a lot in the past couple of years. A few weeks ago, we decided it was time to start a class for our babies and toddlers. I have dreamt of teaching Cradle Roll since I was a little girl, partly, I think, because my mom was the Cradle Roll lady. The rest of my desire to teach this class is probably the opportunity to spend class time singing little songs and having snacks. Life could be worse, I tell you!

So I've been working at getting our class together. I've been tracking down props and translating songs. This week, our baby chairs arrived so we had our first class today. The curriculum is far from ready but it was just Jackson and Aubry so I mostly sang English songs.

They were both in foul moods but a handful of Cheerios turned things around. (Incidentally, I'm trying to figure out what on earth I can give them for a snack. We can't get Cheerios here, nor can we get Goldfish. I've been trying to find some sort of no-added-sugar snack that they can have but I'm stumped. Any ideas? At home Jackson eats a lot of rice cakes but they're expensive and hard to keep around from one week to the next.)

Overall we had a lot of fun. I think after we've had a few more classes they'll really start getting into it.

Here are the two sweetest kids in my class this morning:

A Little Smile

So tonight we were checking out at the grocery store. Jackson was sitting in the cart next to the groceries waiting to be bagged and was reaching out for anything he could grab. Since he was contained, I wasn't paying too much attention to him and was focused on the cashier ringing things up. All of a sudden he put something in my hand. It was cool and slimy and pinkish. What could it be? I looked around and saw the watermelon. It couldn't be the watermelon, I thought. It's in plastic wrap.

But upon closer examination, I discovered he had slid the plastic wrap aside and was taking chunks off the watermelon quarter. The boy loves his watermelon!

Friday, February 06, 2009

It's been a busy week. As far as church work goes, January and February can be mind-numbingly slow because everyone heads out of town for vacation (the members, not the missionaries!). We use this time to get other things accomplished.

For example, yesterday we (the three of us plus Matt and Mary Virginia) piled in the car and headed out of town to scout out locations for next year's missionary conference. We drove a couple hundred kilometers and visited several hotels. It was quite a fun day and we found the most AMAZING chicken couscous in this tiny town about an hour away.

Today we started the adventure of looking for a new apartment. Every year, our rent is increased by the rate of inflation. That means that an apartment that was quite affordable almost four years ago when we moved here is now in a completely different price category, not to mention the fact that the exchange rate plummeted within a month of signing our original lease! We love our neighborhood and hate to leave it but our support does NOT increase according to the rate of inflation every year, so now it's time to move.

Apartments here are individually owned so looking for an apartment means scouring the classified ads on the weekend and calling on the ones you like. You can also search the different real estate websites to find listings. Today we visited four different apartments. For most of them we just visited the realtor's office and signed out the keys. There were a couple that definitely seemed worthy of consideration. In the next couple of days we'll make a point to drive by them at night to see how the area seems after dark. Keep our apartment search in your prayers! We have a couple of months before our rent will increase so we're not in a huge rush but it would be nice if we could get it done before church life picks up again!

Monday, February 02, 2009


1. I can't believe Jackson will be turning one in just fifteen days. That's all I'm going to say about that right now or I will get all teary-eyed and sappy.

2. This morning's dose of perspective came through a story from a friend whose husband had finally found a job but was unable to show up for the job because they had absolutely no money for bus fare. They had spent the last of their cash on medicine for their sick baby. She went to the homes of four of their neighbors and no one had the two dollars they needed.

3. Russ is off getting the car fixed. Last Wednesday our front bumper was ripped off due to a "parking miscalculation" and the next day we were rear-ended in traffic. Poor car!

4. We had our team Super Bowl party last night. I didn't watch any of the game but had a nice time visiting with the girls while the kids played. And of course, I enjoyed the food!

We went all went home at halftime and I didn't even stay up to finish the game. I'm getting old, I guess!

5. Speaking of Super Bowl food, I made deviled eggs last night. Usually Jenn brings them but since she's on furlough I volunteered. I boiled a dozen eggs and when I started peeling them, I noticed something odd. And it just kept getting odder and odder.

Here are the yolks from twelve eggs. Notice anything?

Here are the whites:

THEY WERE ALL DOUBLE-YOLKS! It was kind of creepy but I didn't mind too much since the yolks are my favorite part!