Tuesday, October 28, 2008

my young democrate

I think our school is doing a great job of teaching the kids about the election and the importance of voting. Dan's Eagle class is running the mock election in the middle school and they were each to make a poster for the candidate that they are supporting. Dan finished his up tonight. He's definitely my kid, he likes glitter and lights! He also learn how to use my Cricut (which he was very impressed with!) The picture of Obama he choose was one i took at one of the rallies he and I attend last year.

Friday, October 24, 2008

In the name of charity

We have had a week of charity events at work. Pat, from the PA office, put up enough cash to win the honor of throwing a pie in Scott's face!! Sadly she could not be here to do it herself, so she had Tami step in. In honor of Pat's die hard loyalty to the Eagles Tami even found a jersey to wear! (and I swear I've seen Scott in an Eagles jersey before. Where was that??)

(click the picture and you can see it bigger)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Dooce: Read her!

"Prop 8 is insulting in that it even gets to be a big issue. Why do I get a vote on who anyone else marries, unless one of the twosome is me?" Jacquie

I love Dooce. She is thought provoking. She makes me laugh out loud in the doctors office waiting room. She is real and honest (sometimes brutally honest). She makes me feel normal.

The above quote rang so true with me. It is comment number 24 on her daily post entitled "mortified".

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Dan & Wav

The sappy mother in me is probably going to come out in this post, consider that your warning, lol! If you searched my blog for the words "they are growing up too quickly" you would find numerous occurrences! It's like my mantra these days and these pictures are proof of it. Where did my babies go? Who are these nice young people that have been left in their place? Now don't get me wrong they still fight and they are more bull headed well, than I am. And they have a knack for driving me insane, but today was not one of those days, so we'll revel in their goodness today. They are kind, oh so smart, compassionate, eager to lend a helping hand, ironically funny and incredibly loving. I couldn't have asked for two better kids!

After yesterdays pictures I could not resist getting a few shots of my kids against that beautiful fall back drop. And we had to throw some goofy ones in there too.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Chilly Saturday Morning Photos

What sweet little boys! In spite of the fog, the dampness and the chilly temperature we had a great time this morning. These two little boys were so laid back and easy to work with it sure made my job easy. Not to mention they are about as cute as they can be!

Claire was nice enough to give me some good smiles! Gosh she is growing up!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday morning

There is nothing better than a friday morning spent with friends.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Embera Indian Village

Friday morning we got on the bus early and took an hour and a half bus ride to the Embera Indian Village. On the way we got a good look at the very poor and poverty stricken side of Panama. It is unbelievable how so much beauty and so much filth can exist so closely together, practically over lapping at times.

We finally entered the national forest and came to the clearing where we were to get on the boats for the final leg of our journey. These boats were made by the Embera Indians, each one carved out of a single tree. What an experience! We pasted iguanas in trees and a harpy eagles nest high up on a cliff.

As we came to the muddy bank leading up to the village we could hear them welcoming us with music. It was surreal, this village that exists pretty much as it did hundreds of years ago. We went into their largest shelter where they had all of their hand made crafts displayed along the outside walls. They told us about their lifestyle, explained their clothing and showed us how they made the woven baskets and plates. They answered any question that was asked. They performed their traditional dances for us and then invited us to dance with them. This was an opportunity I did not pass up. Absolutely amazing. Then they present us with a lunch of fresh talapia and fried plantains, all wrapped up in banana leaves, as well as a spread of fresh fruit. We had a little time after that to wander around the village and to purchase things.

As we got ready to leave and started to head back down the hill a little girl came up and took my hand and walked me back to the bank. She looked up at me with these big brown eyes and i told her she was beautiful. She just smiled at me.

I was sad to go, i wish we would have had the opportunity to stay longer or even over night. I would have given up my 5 star resort in a heartbeat to spend an entire day and night with these people. We loaded into the boat and about half way back our guide cut the motor and we started to drift towards the left bank. He wanted us to get a closer look at the crocodile that was laying on the edge of the water. This is no zoo, you are in their home, in their water, it's amazing (have i said that already?).

We finally got back to the bus and relaxed on the ride back to the resort. The whole experience gave me a new perspective. To be there in the midst of what we usually only see on tv was incredible. This is definitely something i want to do again.

Saturday was sadly our last day in Panama. We took the bus into the strawmarket to pick up a few souvenirs for the kids and folks. As we were waiting for our bus back our guide walked us over to a little city park to show us a two toed sloth that was heading back up his tree. He explained that the sloths live up in the trees and come down only once every 7-8 days. They dig a hole, defecate, cover it up and head back up their tree. We were lucky to see this one crawling across the small grassy area and heading back up into his home. (and they really do move very very slowly)

We had lunch back at the resort marina out on the deck. Below us was their local crocodile and a whole group of turtles. We got to see a huge ship go by on the canal as well.

That afternoon we took our final tour in a relatively small boat on the Panama Canal. Our boat captain knew two speeds: idol and 80kph! We raced down the canal, past all of these enormous ships, to get to monkey island. At our first stop we saw Holler monkeys. The captain would gun the engine, which angered the monkeys and they would come down into the lower trees and make gorilla like noises. You wouldn't think such little monkeys would sound so scary! Then we went further on to where the capuchin monkeys were. They actually came way down in the trees and onto the roof of the boat and would eat bananas right from your hands!

We ate dinner alone that night and skipped out on the final group dinner so that we could get to bed early. We were up at 5am the next morning, had breakfast and left for the airport. The flights home were uneventful and went by pretty quickly. I was more than happy when we got into Dallas international and i was able to once again use my smart phone and text and check my emails. The kids and my folks picked us up from the airport about 6:30 Sunday night. I was glad to be home and with my kids again.


We left Tuesday morning and flew from Cedar Rapids to Chicago to Miami. We were hoping to have a little time to play in Miami but we got in late due to storms so it was dark and raining and we were exhausted. We settled into our hotel room and had a fabulous dinner at the restaurant there in the hotel. You'll find there is a common theme throughout this vacation: Fabulous food. I was telling my Aunt Lauria it's a good thing this was such an active, physical trip or we would have gained 15lbs. We ate like kings!! We got up early Wednesday and got through security at the Miami international airport with no problem. Our plane departed late due to a bird strike on the incoming flight but eventually we on our way to Panama. The airport at Panama is nothing like our big US airports, very modest and older. Going through immigration and customs was an experience. It wasn't until we actually got off the plane that the language barrier became so obvious (isn't that just like a snooty American to say, "why doesn't everyone speak English?" lol). The first immigration worker just shooed us away when we had questions about filling out our visa forms. Thankfully the 2nd one was much kinder and spoke more English. Eventually we found ourselves waiting to get on the bus with about 40 other people, heading to the Gamboa Rain forest Resort. We drove through Panama City and all it's glory. The new construction going up is amazing and the traffic (and lack of traffic rules) was slightly horrifying.
Panama City
The Gamboa resort is absolutely beautiful. It earns its reputation as a high end resort. The staff were always cheery and helpful. Our first evening we had a welcome dinner pool side, with local entertainment and a wonderful buffet. I tried a little of everything. We found the drinks to be hot and cold. I had a fabulous margarita but when i tried to get another one i was presented with a pina colada, lol.
on the aerial tram
On Thursday we did the Aerial tram in the morning. It was amazing to be in the canopy of the rain forest. Our guide was very knowledgeable and pointed out lots of animals and foliage along the way. At the top we got off of the tram and walked up to the 90 foot observation tower. The view from the top was breath taking! After this we went through all of the exhibits that Gamboa has: snakes, reptiles, butterflies, orchids. Sadly it had started to rain as we were heading to the butterfly house so I have no pictures of the butterfly's or orchids.
I will say the heat and humidity took a little getting use to. They kept telling us "oh this is not hot." The hell it isn't. We have humidity in Iowa but it feels nothing like Panama humidity. Then it would rain and you would just never dry out. Now I'm not complaining, this was the most amazing trip ever and Tom kept our plush room at a cool 20 degrees Celsius. (I have no idea what that translates to in Fahrenheit but i can tell you it was cool in our room.) One of things i was really looking forward to on this trip was relaxing. So after lunch every day we would go back to our room, shower and cool off. We both finished a book durring the four days we were there and really enjoyed the absolute silence of our room.
The first evening we had 9pm reservations to eat at the Chagres River View restaurant with four other couples from the Lubbock Texas area. Two and half hours later my cheeks ached from laughing so much, and we had enjoyed a wonderful meal!
Gamboa from the tower
the view from our balcony

Click Here to visit my photobucket album and see all of my pictures.
if you click the slideshow link on the right side of the page it will run through all of the photos.

Well I'm off to bed. I'll have to tell you about the Embera Indian Village tomorrow. That was my favorite part of the whole trip!!!

Thursday, October 9, 2008


These are the things I'm praying about/for today: (thanks kim!)

-The Keller family, who just lost their beautiful daughter. Our hearts go out to you.
-My poor Sarah who has bordetella, but is being treated. I'm so thankful we caught it early.
-That Dan finds it in his heart to love (and tolerate) his sister and all her quirky ways.
-Continued employment.
-I'm thanking God for his many blessing in my life and that He has given me the ability to recognized them.
-Continued patience and strength when dealing with my every day life which so often feels out of my control.
-Ok and maybe a little help with my control issues, lol!

and everybody said amen!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I am not smarter than a 5th grader, not my 5th grader at least.

Ok so this is where I'm going to have to admit how pathetic I actually am. While we were on vacation Tom & I did a lot of actual "relaxing". Laying around, reading books, just enjoying the silence. We had the laptop with us and I was determined to get myself more comfortable with Vista. So while poking around I came across a game called spider solitare. It's addictive. Each time I lost I was compelled to try again. And again. And again. (I can't believe I'm going to admit this) but I played something like 293 games and never won. So tonight I pull it up on my desk top PC and I play a couple games while listening to the new Ani cd (which is wonderful by the way). Pretty soon Dan pops up over my shoulder and starts to watch me play. Within like seconds he says "ok I think I understand how this works" and he proceeds to start directing my moves. Move after move it all fell into place and all of a sudden we (and I use that term losly as I was merly following his commands) WON! Seriously. I had played almost 300 games never even getting close to winning. Smarty pants plays the game once and wins. Dan's mind never ceases to amaze me!

By the way, I've run into a little techinical difficulty that is causing some delays in finishing my vacation photos, but soon, I promise!!!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Home at last!

I'm back!! Did you miss me? I know you did.

We had a wonderful time. I'll admit it took me a day or so to adjust to the climate and the language barrier but all in all it was fabulous! I have a ton of pictures to go thru. I think I'll post a few here and then upload them all to an album on line somewhere so you can see even the boring ones!

Our trip to the Embera Indian Village was the most moving I think. It felt so good to be there amongst those people, communicating as best we could... in the back of my mind I'm now wondering if maybe a mission trip is in my future.

At one point we found ourselves in a relatively small boat racing down the Panama Canal, what a rush! Huge cargo ships on one side and crocodiles on the other! I'm looking forward to having today off. I need to go pick up my baby from the kennel and start on the laundry but I promise I'll get some pictures posted by this evening!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

hurry up and wait

Thank goodness for wireless internet at the airport! It's pouring rain in Miami this morning. Good thing we are headed out of here, on to sunnier skies!!!
The perfect carry on combination. Thanks Mom, I'm loving the purse!