Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas letter 2009

Here is our latest news... (double click on the picture to view it larger)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

my lil sis Kim

My sister-in-law, Kim (aka lil sis, Bryan's sister) graduated from college today. We are all proud of her big accomplishment. Here are a few pics from the day. We had a great day with family at the graduation, and together for an awesome dinner and limo ride looking at Christmas lights.



Thursday, December 10, 2009

change at work

I started working on a new project at work. On the down-side, it is a lethal project instead of my last non-lethal project. On the up-side, it is in the air instead of on the ground.

I am now working on a rocket launcher to be affixed to Navy helicopters. I am done working on the Spider Non-Lethal Launcher attachments. Work-life it always full at ATK and seems to be ever-changing.

I have a lot to learn about rockets and launchers. To bad they aren't getting used to explore space.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

pictures

http://picasaweb.google.com/raquel.jarabek
This is the new website for our family pictures. We maxed-out the last website and had to start a new one.

SuperJaden turns 5

My baby Jaden turned 5! He wanted to have a superhero party and we had a great time celebrating with friends and family. The cake emblem was designed by Jaden's aunt Kim and decorated by Jaden's grandma Judy.
Jaden with his favorite gift! He has been learning how to play chess at school and asking to get a chess game for our house. Clay picked out this gift to give Jaden and it was great!
Jaden with many of his superhero cousins. We missed getting a picture with his friends, Gabe and Will. Everyone got capes made by grandma Judy. What a treat! Jaden was hesitant to put it on at first, but by the end of the day, he was loving it.

thanksgiving full table

I love big Thanksgivings! The more, the merrier! Good thing I like to cook.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

thankful

I am sitting here thinking of how thankful I am for my family. I have an amazing husband and two very special, loving boys. They make me so happy. I am so proud to have my family of four.

There have been many days that I haven't enjoyed being in the roles and having the responsibilities that God has given me but those days are getting fewer and more time is between them.

I am inspired by my husband and kids to love more, give more and do more with everything God has given me. I am thankful to Bryan, Jaden and Clay for their love.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

my sister

Last weekend, I got to take a special trip out to Colorado Springs to visit my sister. My mom and I and another friend threw a shower for my sister, Roxanne. She is pregnant with her second boy and is due Dec. 30th. The three of us haven't spent a significant amount of time together without lots of family around so we had lots of fun together. I love planning parties and get carried away sometimes but it is fun to share yummy food with others. My mom made an awesome cake for my sister too. She has lots of talent in the cake decorating department! We are putting her to work again this Saturday for Jaden's birthday.

I had lots of fun traveling by myself and getting some time away from the boys and Bryan. It was nice to come back to them. I sure did miss all of them.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

boys haircuts

Jaden has been set for a few months to not cut his hair and grow it longer. He wanted to be like the skateboarders he saw at the Minnesota State Fair and like his friends, Gabe and Will. Bryan finally convinced Jaden to cut his hair because he was annoyed with washing it. Here are the before and after pictures of both of the boys. They are so cute and I can't believe how old they are looking!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

You know you work on weapons when (#6)...

Today all of the grown men (or a lot of them) at work showed-off their inner boy. It was like Christmas around work. People were waiting and asking, "Is it here yet?" "Have you seen it?" "When is it supposed to arrive?"

What were they talking about? Their discounted orders of ammunition for personal use. It was a big day at work! Not a big day for me.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

great-grandkids

Last weekend we were in Wolsey, SD--town of 400 people, so that Bryan could go pheasant hunting with his family. Bryan has a great family and they are entertaining, especially in the late hours of the night.

Bryan's maternal grandparents have 7 great-grandchildren. We actually got a picture of all 7 of them.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

my superheros


My superheros ... and I hope they will be superheros for others someday too.

We had a great and festive Halloween. The boys helped me make pumpkin pancakes and they were very yummy with powdered sugar and real maple syrup on them. We also made pumpkin bread with chocolate chips this afternoon but that didn't taste as yummy as the pancakes. We went to the Hall-zoo-een party at the Minnesota Zoo and the kids made out with lots of cool toys and snacks and some candy. We would definitely do that event again. Bryan did a little trick-or-treating with the kids and got a lot of candy from only 10 houses. This may last us until the new year! What will we do when the boys actually go trick-or treating for more than 10 minutes!?!

Looking forward to an extra hour of sleep tonight. Sleep well.

Monday, October 26, 2009

feeling stretched

I knew that this day would come. I am trying to do it all: be a mom, wife, engineer and all of the tasks that go along with those roles. Some say that working moms are trying to do it all but no one can really do it all--something always misses out.

Until today, I have not felt that my work or my family has missed out. Things have went quite well and there has always been enough time for both. Life has gotten stressful at times when the to do list got too long but that has been the worst of it for me so far.

Today I went on a field trip with the boys in the morning. They were supposed to be back at 11am and I had 5 meetings planned this afternoon starting at noon. I wasn't worried about it and thought that I had plenty of time to do it all. Things did not go as planned.

While on our field trip to the apple orchard, I heard repeatedly from Jaden, "I don't care what you say," in response to me telling him to hold my hand or sit on the bus or stop running or whatever it was that he shouldn't be doing at that time. Jaden is a lot like me and he knows very well how to hurt me and he definitely knows that I hate that phrase. I need to come up with more creative and appropriate punishment when he says that but I don't have any ideas. By the end of the field trip, Jaden and I were frustrated with each other.

Clay, on the other hand, enjoys holding my hand and cuddling with me on the bus ride. Things went downhill when our trip got extended due to toilet trips and we left late (11:15) but that still should have been plenty of time to get back for work. I didn't count on the bus trip back taking 45 minutes. I am pretty sure the bus driver took some wrong turns when the drive out there took 20-30 minutes. Many of the kids were tired and hungry due to our extended field trip. Clay fell asleep on the way back to the school and then started crying once we got to the school. He was all out screaming when I asked one of the teachers to take Clay so that I could leave. I left with him crying and screaming out the window at me. I was really late for work. My noon meeting was called by me and I was going to be 20 minutes late. Great! I am disappointing my manager by not showing up for my meeting with her and others that I should be leading and I ticked off Jaden and left Clay screaming for his mom. I am a terrible mom and a bad employee. I definitely had the moment of, "why am I doing this?" Wouldn't life be easier if......I will not even say it.

My afternoon at work went surprisingly smoothly and everything seemed to eventually workout ok. Clay ran to greet me at school. Jaden warmed up to me by the time we got home and there was no more fighting or attitude tonight.

I know I am a good mom and I am a good engineer but I am sure there will be many moments where I doubt my skills in either role. Today was filled with lots of doubt in my capabilities. Tonight recharged me and I enjoyed cooking dinner with my boys and painting pumpkins (from the field trip) with my boys. The best part of the night was getting big hugs from Jaden and Clay before bedtime. Brings a smile to my face even now.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

bad reflection

Tonight the boys went to church with Bryan while I stayed home recovering from some virus (sore throat, aches and fever last night). The boys talked about loving others and each made a special card for someone they love. They are in separate classes at church so they didn't know what each other was doing. At the end of church, Clay came out and gave Jaden his special card. Inside it said,

"Dear Jaden,
Tonight I was thinking of
someone I thank God for.
Someone who cares for me.
Someone who makes me smile.
Someone who loves me with God's love.
Someone like you.
I want to let you know
I LOVE YOU.
Clay"

Of course this was written by Clay's teachers but Clay chose the name he wanted in the card and who to give the card to. He chose Jaden. So sweet that he thought of his brother when the teacher read him these things.

The sad thing is that when Clay gave it to Jaden, Jaden said that he didn't like it. Even when Bryan and I prompted him to say thank you. He still said I don't like it. Clay even drew a picture in the card for Jaden. It didn't matter to Jaden. He didn't like it.

Jaden did understand what Clay did because Jaden did the same thing. He made a card for his cousin, Kira, and wants to mail it to her.

At first this was so saddening to me and disappointing that I couldn't get it across to Jaden that he made Clay sad by saying this. Clay tried to make it seem like he didn't care but it did seem to bother him a little.

The more saddening thing is that Jaden is a reflection of me. There have been too many times in my life that I haven't appreciated the gifts that I have been given. I am a critical person just like Jaden. Jaden probably saw the picture that Clay drew and thought I don't really like that picture, as he says about most of Clay's pictures. We are trying to teach him to keep that to himself and only offer compliments. That is hard for me to do, let alone teach my 4 year old.

I am saddened by Jaden's reaction to Clay's expression of love but I am even more saddened at my own unappreciative heart. I need to appreciate other's love for me. My dear Bryan has been the recipient of too much of my criticism and not enough of my appreciation and I wish that I wasn't passing this onto my son. I am choosing to show more love and appreciation when others show me love.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

field trip to science museum

Today I got the privilege of representing ATK for a science and math program with local 5th graders. Today we took 125 5th graders to the Science Museum in St. Paul. I love science museums so I jumped at an all expense paid trip there. I was assigned 4 10 year old boys with lots of energy. They were a blast! And not much different than supervising my 3 and 4 year old boys. The 10 year old boys were most entertained and engaged with the steam engine that they got to operate and were continually trying to get the engine to run faster. A second place favorite was anything with a flame. There were two different experiments with flames and they enjoyed both. So fun seeing kids engaged in science. I was amazed at how talkative the boys were today. We had lots of conversation and I learned a lot about their families.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

lack of sleep

Why is it that I never sleep well when we visit our families? Bryan and I love hanging out with our families and we are in Fargo now with them. We have lots of fun together and enjoying just hanging out together. There are always heated conversations in Fargo and it is always entertaining. No matter how determined I am to go to bed at a decent time, it just isn't possible here. Bryan's family has a lot of night owls and they come alive at night; the later, the better. Staying up late repeatedly is not a good idea when you have small children that get up early and don't sleep well when they are not at home. Well, here's hoping for a better night of sleep tonight.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

You know you work on weapons when...(#5)

your company has a vision statement like this:

Advanced Weapons Engineering (that's me) vision: Be the best weapon developer in the world, providing innovative and affordable capabilities to the US War Fighter and our Allies. (emphasis not mine)

I just read this in an email today at work. I hadn't seen it until today. Some people are more motivated by vision statements and some people don't need them. I generally like vision statements but this one I could live without.

On the flip side, I have been using a mug at work that says, "Peace," in large letters on it. I'm hoping that it sparks some interesting conversations!

I do like the team atmosphere of my work and I really feel like I am contributing to helping my project progress (for good and bad). I really do like the people I work with and they have been so nice and understanding. People are encouraging and I am surprised by the lack of gossip that exists. This makes an office environment that encourages good work ethic and happy employees.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

feeling like a mom

There have been many days in the first few years of motherhood that I looked at my kids, my family, my life and thought, "How can I be a mom to two boys already?" It just didn't seem to fit. It was too soon. It was too much. Two kids! That seems to have all sunk in and it just feels right.

Jaden is 4 and 3/4 and Clay is 3 and they are so much a part of my life that it would be very difficult to imagine life without them. It is getting harder and harder to remember what life was like before kids. I know that marriage was easier then and that seems to be the biggest difference now. There is less time to do things that I like and there is less time to do things that Bryan and I like to do together. There is less time for church ministry and less time to watch movies. There is less time for clothes shopping and more time for grocery shopping.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about how comfortable I feel with this mothering thing. It probably has something to do with watching my 2 nieces more lately. My sister-in-law, Chrystine, is in grad school getting her masters in social work (so proud of her for doing this). I really want to support Kirk and Chrystine over the next difficult year of their lives. I am happy to take care of the girls. Four kids can be a lot sometimes and it sure make me feel like a mom. I rarely am at home when I take care of the boys all day. I enjoy getting out to do things with them but this is much harder and not worth the effort when there are 4 kids involved. I have had to be creative in coming up with things for the kids to do. I feel like I have been pretty successful with it all but it sure makes me feel like a mom. There is no denying it.

Today we played with blocks, cars and ramps, made art projects, used masking tape all over the house (created an exercise area, a football field, diagonal lines, fort), created with pipe cleaners, played with Cars movie toys on the masking tape Nascar race track on our carpet, read books and cleaned up a hundred times. I also made two snacks and 3 meals today. I did 2 loads of laundry, checked my home and work email, talked with Bryan and took a nap! Wow, that was quite a mothering day! Time for a loooong nap.

One of the favorite activities when the 4 kids are together is building forts. I love it; probably that engineering side of me. We have used couches, cushions, chairs, pillows, blankets, sheets, tape, chip clips, laundry baskets and moved lots of furniture. This was one of my favorite activities when I was little. My mom always let us create forts and I had many fun times in them with my brother, Kirk.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

shopping castes

Some like to believe that there is no American caste society or that classes are not really an issue in the US. I beg to differ.

I am a big Super Walmart shopper. I have several friends who refuse to shop at Walmart. They think the store is disgusting and would prefer to never set foot in a Walmart. Now let me be honest. I am a deal shopper and that is a lot of why I shop at Walmart. I do, however prefer Target. I think they are cleaner and nicer but things do cost a little more money. I used to shop at Target all the time when we lived in Rochester. Now Target is further away and Walmart is very convenient, so I rarely go to Target.

I have some friends that are Byerly's shoppers. Sometimes I buy a few items at Lund's or Jerry's, which are all higher-end grocery stores. Then I also have friends that prefer to shop at more health-conscience places such as Trader Joe's, Whole Foods or local outdoor markets. I also shop at all of these places randomly. But if money is tight for you, then you don't shop at any of these places. That is just the reality. Food is an easy place to cut costs.

My sister, Roxanne, is a big deal-finder. She is really good at it. She finds the most amazing things for cheap. She is a big fan of her local dollar store. Tonight we headed there for a visit. I thorougly enjoyed it. This opend up another class of shoppers; those that do the majority of their shopping at dollar stores.

I don't want to be a person that is too good to shop at certain stores. I also don't want to be a person that refuses to shop at other stores. I enjoy rubbing shoulders with people of all types, especially people with low incomes. It keeps me grounded and appreciative and helps me be a giver. Tonight reminded me that I have so much to give and share with others. Now I'm on a mission to find a good dollar store close to my home.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

enjoying work?

I put in a lot of hours at work today before we take a big road trip to Colorado. Work has been busy lately but I am feeling pretty good about it. I feel like I turned a corner and am starting to understand more of what is going on. It is nice that I can actually answer people's questions and ask intellectual questions.

It feels weird to say that I enjoy my work but I think I sorta do. Still not loving the whole aspect of weapons killing people but the day to day work is challenging and enjoyable. I really like the people that I work with and they are quite entertaining. It is great getting to know a bunch of engineers again.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Jaden, the reader

My sweet, little Jaden can read! I had hoped he would be sounding out words before he turned 5 and he is! Still hard to believe that he really gets it! It is quite amazing to see so much clicking in his brain. Bryan and I have really had to try hard to not push him to read (especially me). I am naturally an overachiever and sometimes that gets put on my kids. I don't want it to so Bryan helps me relax about a lot of things.

Anyway, Jaden has been really interested in sounding out words lately and I asked him if I could read a Bob book with him and he refused to even let me read it. He then told me that he would read it daddy that night. And sure enough he did. He has now been reading to Bryan the last few nights and I got to listen in last night. What a treat! He is getting good at memorizing some words but it really quite good at sounding words out. I am not sure how things clicked for him because just a week ago, it seemed like he was so far away. We would sound out a word like "can" and he would say "k" "aaa" "nnn" and then say "car." I could not follow his connection and he was doing that all the time. I think, in a way, he was just guessing what the word was. Anyway, I guess trying to be really gentle and just reinforcing the individual sounds eventually built up enough confidence in his ability. I am just loving that he is loving reading right now!

On a side note and equally big accomplishment, Clay went pee in a portable toilet (port-a-potty thing) today. This is a big deal because I have taken him many times, in many places with no luck. The walk from the port-a-potty back to our friends was so cute. Clay just kept repeating to himself, "I did it!" So great to know that it built his confidence and glad to know he has a positive tape in his head.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

pocket checking

The era of pocket checking before laundry has begun. I have 2 small boys who love to put things in their pockets. I have discovered a few small rocks laying in the washing machine in the last few loads of boy laundry that I have done. I knew that when I went to do the boys' laundry the next time that I would need to more thoroughly check their pockets.

I did expect to find a few things today. Here is what I found:
-2 large boy fist-size rocks (first clue to check all pockets very thoroughly--those pants were way to heavy)
-1 Twins ticket (from last sharing at school about our trip to the baseball game last Saturday)
-1 business card from church (about our connection to the country of Congo and buying goats for the people there)
-1 triangle and 1 oval metal inset tracing, cutout and colored from school (probably given by a friend, Lola) (I had already removed 3 after school that day)

I knew that I may have missed some tiny things but I was most hoping that I didn't miss any paper that would shred all over the clothes.

After the washing cycle, I found more:
-one half-dissolved jelly bean (courtesy of my Aunt Joyce--love those Jelly Belly's and so do the boys; they cherish them so much that they forget to eat them sometimes)
-one screw, found while walking at the Mall of America today
-one small, plastic fish toy

I am pretty sure that all of these things came from Jaden's pockets but I can't prove it. That boy gets so attached to small items that fit in his pockets. He loves business cards and tickets to anything we go to. They are his favorite item everywhere we go. He is always asking if he can have them. His attachment to things I take for granted is sweet. It is nice that he forgets about them. I am able to throw these items away without him asking the next day. The only item that remains is the small fish toy. I am sure it will make its way into a little boy's pocket again soon.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

You know you work on weapons when...(#4)

You end up asking yourself...what does "less lethal" mean?

Really, isn't it clear, either something is lethal or not lethal. If you don't know, then don't state it. Don't use some ambiguous phrase like less lethal.

In the munition world this probably means that you are too cheap to find out how lethal your munition is. I still don't think you should be able to measure the lethality of something but you can, I guess.

If you have less lethal munition, you are trying to be non-lethal but you don't know if it will possibly kill someone. Even munition that is labeled non-lethal can end up killing a person at some point. If you are standing too close to a non-lethal munition when it goes off, you might be in the "kill zone" and you shouldn't have been that close. I guess you will have learned your lesson. Or I think the engineers doing their testing and analysis shouldn't have been able to label their munition non-lethal because their testing and analysis should have showed that there was a possibility for the munition to be lethal.

Lethality should be black and white. Either it kills or it doesn't. But in fact, there are a lot of gray areas.

There is way to much talk around me and thought in me for me to be comfortable about lethality of weapons. How do I go on doing my job? I like the work, not the big picture, but the hour to hour grind of the engineering and I really like the people that I work with at ATK. They are why I continue what I do.

I thought this was going to be a quick, short post before bed but my passion against weapons got the best of me.

I am helping defend our country and helping our soldiers do their jobs better (at least that is what everyone keeps telling me).

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

i'm pathetic

Today is my wonderful husband's birthday. Bryan is 33! Happy birthday, Bryan.

Today should be a day that is all about him but somehow I managed to make it about me and how sorry I feel for myself. I worked so hard, I thought, to make this a special birthday for him. I went the extra mile to get a surround sound speaker system for our TV that has bad sound. I took the kids with me to Best Buy yesterday because they wanted to help me but instead were just crazy running around the store and intentionally kept leaving me. I left the store with nothing and got home late.

Today I thought I will just take some time off work and go to get the gift and get some other groceries to make Bryan's favorite dessert that he asked me to make. Well, I got lost a few times (new area) and eventually made it back to work 2 hours later. No big deal. I got over it after finishing my work. I go to pick up the boys, miss my exit but the boys are happy to see me. I get the boys in the van and they talk me into going to Walgreens to get dad presents from them. Why did I let them do this? It is a sweet idea but it is last minute when I would rather be home or out to dinner with Bryan. All the boys wanted to buy Bryan were toys for themselves. It was very frustrating trying to convince them to buy something that Dad would like or at least something that he would play with them. I didn't let either boy buy something that only he would use. They did get something that they can play with Dad. Bryan pointed out later that it was a good lesson to teach them. But I just wasn't planning on teaching them that lesson then and didn't have the energy to do it. They probably didn't learn the lesson just as they didn't learn it the last 3 times I tried to do this. Maybe next time Bryan should try teaching the boys about giving gifts. Anyway, I get home frustrated that things took so long. Bryan isn't ready to go out to eat. He is cleaning the shower. How frustrating! (Ha, I can't believe myself!) Finally he is available to receive homemade cards and gifts from the boys and then I give him my gift, the speaker system. He really likes it.

We head out to dinner and I clearly need a break but I want to be helpful and make Bryan's job easier because it is his birthday. Bryan even takes the kids to the bathroom for me in the middle of dinner. We are on our way home and I reluctantly ask Bryan if he wants me to put the kids to bed for him (normally his job--he is way better at it than me). He comes up with something to do--put speaker system together--and I put boys to bed. I reluctantly make his dessert which didn't get done until after he left for work tonight.

Now I sit alone thinking how pathetic I am. I can't even let my husband have his day. I know I am overworked and exhausted right now but really, can't I just stuff those feelings for one day. Man, that sure is hard for me. I feel overworked and my husband is the one who cleaned three bathrooms (minus a tub) today, on his birthday. Granted he did go to the driving range and hit golf balls yesterday when he was going to clean the bathrooms. So he knows he made that choice. All I can think about it how he didn't do the dishes while he was at home today...sleeping after working all night. How pathetic...here I go again. I'm so negative.

I have an amazing husband who cleans bathrooms, does dishes and laundry, maybe even he'll vacuum before our guests come over Wednesday night. Bryan is amazing! Sure wish I could quit being so self-focused and give him the appreciation he deserves! Maybe tomorrow.

I know I need some "me" time, alone time, hobby time, time without the kids. It is so clear but it is not coming soon enough.

Happy birthday, Bryan, from your pathetically, loving wife! Thanks for loving me with all my faults.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

recap of my day

A lot of stuff happened today. I feel like I went through a lot of highs and lows all in one day. Feeling a little emotional. I really should just sleep but blogging helps me process.

1. Took kids to school. Shortened Clay's tantrum about not eating breakfast at home. He was crying because he didn't want to eat in the van or at school. Jaden said, "I think Clay doesn't want to go to preschool." Probably right--too bad. It is for his own good because mommy needed it. Happy mom is necessary to have happy kids.
2. Met with my pastor. I love Upper Room and Kurt is so encouraging! Discussing ministry plans and how I will get involved.
3. Went to piano lessons and spent an hour and a half (only paid for 30 minutes) talking and learning with Hestia! She has so much to say and I love talking with her. It brings me joy!
4. Went home to get Bryan to go for lunch when he had to show me the caulking job he did in the bathrooms. I ended up critiquing him way too much and feeling bad that I didn't like his work and that I didn't appreciate what he had done. Bad wife. He knew I would react that way but I wish I could have just viewed it on my own and held my tongue until I let it settle in and let him finish the job.
5. Had lunch with Bryan. Tried to get over my ridiculous emotions attached to the caulk. Then had a great time sharing my life stories with Bryan from the last few days that we haven't seen each other. I worked days and he worked evenings so we have been missing each other.
6. Bryan left for work and I picked up the kids. We headed out to the Minnesota Arboretum--my new favorite place! We explored a new area and there were so many cool things built out of sticks. Jaden carried a big stick around on our hike. I got 3 big mosquito bites, ugh! Still itchy.
7. Listened to my mother-in-law and the load of stuff that she is carrying around on her shoulders. Praying that she gets some relief from the Healer.
8. Ate dinner at Culver's where I got puked on by Clay after he swallowed his first bite of hot dog (cut down the middle) without chewing it. Apparently the hot dog injured his throat or esophagus and he couldn't deal with it so he threw up. It was quite intentional and I tried calming him down but no luck. He threw up all over his food, the table, his pants, the floor, his hands and my hands. Not fun but we did get a new kids meal with another free ice cream on it. We saved it to use later.
9. Gave kids a bath without any toys after way too much splashing!
10. Yelled at Bryan on the phone for saying that mini-golf is too expensive for the 4 of us to do tomorrow afternoon. This even shocked the boys--I was trying to put them to bed and was really wishing that Bryan was here to do that job. I think we might go mini-golfing by our house in the afternoon, well, that is if I don't end up finishing the caulking job because Bryan is ticked at me. Thankfully, Bryan is very forgiving and I am pretty good at apologizing.
11. Listened to Bryan's sister's relationship troubles. Dating and finding a mate is hard work sometimes. Sure glad I already found mine!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Am I a camper?

Last night I spent the night in a tent in my yard with my two boys. Bryan stayed inside the house with his family who is here visiting. Bryan didn't want to risk hurting his back or dealing with allergies and had to get up early to go to the PGA Championship. That was fine with me.

I am not completely sure how I ended up being a camper last night. I am sure there are campers out there that think last night does not make me a camper but I sure feel like one. I have always thought of myself as a hotel girl, not a tent girl. Jaden has been talking about camping and tents and the forest more and more. I knew that Bryan's mom had a tent so I thought it might be fun to go camping in our own yard. So that started the chain reaction that led to me sleeping in a tent without air conditioning when it was about 90% humidity and 80 degrees outside. The air mattress ended up deflating overnight so that is why we are not out there tonight. I actually enjoyed the peaceful night in the tent. The weather was quite similar to Honduras and it was relaxing.

I did not ever plan on becoming a camper but I may end up taking it up for the boys. I love finding out Jaden and Clay's interests and running with them. I think that quality is something I value in other people; when they care about my interests. I want to care about my kids' interests and passions no matter what they are. I truly look forward to falling in love with things in life that I never would have unless my kid's loved them first. Camping may be the first hobby I take up for my kids but it surely won't be the last.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

You know you work on weapons when...(#3)

My work supports warfighters. I wish that my work supported peace-pushers.

I work on a close combat system. Someday I will work on a near-Earth system or maybe even IN low Earth orbit.

I help design intelligent munitions. I would rather be designing intelligent spacecraft.

There has been much talk lately about the kill zone at work regarding different weapons. Not sure if anyone deserves to be killed. That doesn't sound like sharing God's grace to me. Also not sure if a world without war is possible. I sure wish it could happen. Just like I wish that no one had to go hungry and everyone could feel contentment, feel joy and feel God's forgiveness and love. I am praying for contentment and joy and renewed passion in my life. My husband sure knows I could use it.

Monday, August 10, 2009

homelessness

Just watched the movie, The Soloist. So good and so moving. It is about a journalist that befriends a homeless man with unbelievable musical talent in playing the cello.

I have had a heart and passion for homeless individuals since I wrote a report on it in 7th grade. A passion grew out of the research that I discovered and the numbers astounded me.

I want to be a friend to the homeless. I want to know what they go through and help them. I want to help them live better in whatever that means to each individual. I love hearing people's stories of how they got to where they are and homeless people have great stories to tell.

Back in May, Bryan and I helped out with Homeless Connect in Minneapolis. I attempted to help a man that still haunts me in a good way. I think of him often and pray for his life. I hope that someday, somehow I will see him again. I wish that I could have a relationship with him. Maybe someday I will have a friendship with a homeless person. I look forward to that day. I know that relationship would transform me and hopefully it would benefit everyone involved.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

something to smile about

1. As I was leaving the kids’ preschool this morning, Jaden pounded on the window overlooking the parking lot. He got my attention and waved. I waved back and headed to my van. He pounded again and blew me a kiss. I blew one back. So sweet! Love that boy! I also got a second hug from Clay on the way out.

2. In passing, a coworker of mine asked me, “Are you having fun yet?” I responded with yes, without evening thinking about it. He then said, “Quit lying.” Then caught himself and said, “Well, you probably are having fun, aren’t you?” Again, I said yes but with thought behind it. Glad to know that people (or at least one person) thinks I am enjoying my job. I may not love my work but I do enjoy working and enjoy the people that I get to spend my time with while I’m working.

van mishaps

Van mishaps (as of Monday):

1. 1. 1. About 2 months ago the wind blew a grocery cart off of the sidewalk and it hit hard against my van passenger side.

2. 2 2. About a week ago, I hit a curb (on the way to the Children’s Museum) going about 40 mph and had to replace 2 flat tires, a rim, a hubcap (driver’s side) and a third tire to even out the tread.

3. Today (Monday) a dump truck’s wheel blew out beside me (passenger side) on the road to work, going about 60 mph. It was so loud I thought there should be some damage. So far there is nothing I can see. It sure did stink like rubber. I was afraid of damage to the only tire that wasn’t replaced last week.

Not sure what these mishaps are trying to tell me but I sure want this bad luck streak to end.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

anniversary, part uno

Here is a picture from last night of us before we went on lots of scary and fun rides at Valleyfair. No kiddie rides allowed!

The yellow and blue ride (on the left) was the last one of the night (Steel Venom) and it about did Bryan in! Poor thing! He did choose Valleyfair but wishes that he didn't get motion sickness. I had a blast and am so glad we did this. Huge thanks to my brother and his wife (Kirk and Chrystine) for taking our boys at the last minute!

Can't wait for Part Dos of our anniversary. I think every anniversary should include an overnight away from your house. It can't come soon enough. I'm sure I will blog about our adventure later.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

11 years with my love, Bryan

Today is my wedding anniversary. I am excited to be celebrating this day with the man I love!

To Bryan,
I still love every day that I get to be with you! There has not been a day that I wish I could have lived without you in these last 11 years. You have made everything in my life better (even the crying times) and made it more fun and more meaningful. You can get me to laugh like no one else. You know what I like and what I want more than anyone else. You can also bring me to tears but thankfully you are good at patching things up. I love going through life with you and I continue to look forward to our years together in the future!

I love processing life with you. You help me dream and live the fulfilled life that God wants for us. Thanks for giving me space to change and dream and grow. I know that it's not always easy when my dreams don't match what you want but I love that you want to work it out together.

Thanks for continually seeing the best in me. When I am at my worst, you know that I am better than that and encourage me to figure out what I need at that moment. You see me for what I have grown to be and who I can grow to become in the future. Thanks for loving me through all of life's changes.

Today is something to celebrate and I am glad we will finally get to do something even though it has not been what I planned.

This is my year to plan the anniversary surprise and hopefully it will live up to your expectations. I know that I need to decrease my expectations and let stuff go. After calling about 15 babysitters that were unable to watch out kids, Chrystine and Kirk, are able to watch them because the baby shower they were hosting got canceled due to the mother going into labor.

So, we have two options for part uno of our anniversary celebration:
1. Head out to Valleyfair for the evening and have fun going on rides together.
or
2. Dinner at a new, authentic Italian (our favorite food) restaurant, Arezzo Ristorante, and an outdoor concert at Lake Harriet.

Part dos of our anniversary will be an overnight away from the kids (when you don't work the next day) and Kirk and Chrystine can watch the boys. Details will be a surprise later.

Let's go have some fun!

Love you lots,

Raquel

Saturday, July 25, 2009

expensive day

Yesterday we were trying to enjoy the day while Bryan and I weren't working but they day did not go as planned.

We did end up finally buying a washer and dryer that we have been researching and contemplating for months. Our washer and dryer are 25 years old in house and I have to warn the kids that an earthquake is coming every time the washer spins out the water. It is unable to be balanced and shakes the house like crazy, hopefully not causing any permanent damage. The washer is also not good at rinsing the clothes or getting them clean, in my opinion. The dryer has its own issues and wasn't heating at all when we first moved in and so Bryan fixed it. He had to bend the heating sensor away from the heating element and we are afraid that something could start on fire at any moment in there. All that is to say that we needed a new washer and dryer and now we finally have them on their way to our house next week.

After that we spent some time exploring two nearby libraries and picked up some books and movies for the kids. Bryan had to go to work at 4pm so we stopped by the house and got snacks before the boys and I headed to the Children's Museum in St. Paul.

This is where the day got more expensive. I hit a curb (separating traffic0 on a major road, going about 35-40 mph. It popped the front driver's side tire and air was leaking from the rear driver's side tire. I managed to get pulled off the road and hoped that I didn't cause too much damage to more expensive parts of the van. After talking with the insurance, 2 dealerships, roadside assistance, towing company, my brother/rescuer-Kirk and Bryan, we finally made it home 3 hours later. Jaden was still asking to go to the museum. He can't understand that we can't get there without a vehicle. Kirk brought us home since Bryan was working. This wrecked my day and Kirk's evening (and his family's evening) but I am very grateful to have had his help.

The only light at the end of my evening was that Clay got out of bed came out in the hallway to ask for another hug. He knows my weakness and I got up from the couch and got another hug from Clay and Jaden. That helped make the evening a little better.

Today we found out that we have to replace two tires, one rim and the battery. This is pretty much the best and cheapest scenario we could get away with so that is lessening my anger with myself. I am still not sure how this happened because I wasn't on the phone or yelling at my kids and in fact Clay was sleeping. I guess my lesson is watch out for curbs in the middle of the road but I already know this. I had 5 years going without an accident and now it is reset. The only person still mad about this happening is me so now I just need to get over it and move on.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

my brain got stepped on

Today I got beat-up in a meeting at work. Not physically, but it sure felt like my brain got stepped on and abused as I tried to figure out what was going on. I couldn't ask all the questions I needed to better understand the work because that would have made the meeting last all night.

I don't get embarrassed easily but today I took a beating and walked away feeling sorry for myself. I was asked to sub-in for my coworker for a meeting that he called. I had him get someone else to lead the meeting but somehow that didn't end up happening. Everyone expected me to lead the meeting. What were they thinking? I am only a few months into this and now they are throwing a whole new set of acronyms my way. I wanted to scream and tell them that all I understand from what you just said are the words "the, and to"!!! I kept my cool trying to look the best I could for my friend who is enjoying his vacation. He will probably regret having me in the meeting when he returns. Well, maybe not but I definitely regret that decision.

The hardest day at my engineering job can not even compare to the hardest day taking care of two preschoolers.

Monday, July 20, 2009

vacation ends, routine begins

We are finally back home after being on vacation for 2 1/2 weeks. We had lots of fun in Wisconsin Dells, Jamestown and Fargo, ND. We spent lots of time with family and had lots of down time. We tried to fill up our time with fun things to do and we did a lot.

We went down numerous waterslides, sat in many hot tubs, saw the Dells water ski show, swam in the Jamestown pool, went to the Stutsman County Fair, ate lots of fair food, rode in my dad's Model T and threw candy with the boys in a parade, watched the local dirt track car races (Jaden loved them), went to my parents' church, watched the new Veggie Tales movie on a big screen, went to the Red River Valley Fair, ate more fair food, played mini golf with the boys for the first time, watched Bryan and his brother play softball, went to the Fargo Street Fair and helped as a crossing guard, ate even more fair food, went to Eric and Laura's church, took naps, then woke-up and drove safely at home.

The trip was about as much fun as you can have in Wisconsin and North Dakota. I am sure we will return to both places for more fun.

Despite all of that fun, I am continually reminded of the sadness that remains that we did not go to Honduras. I am sure that we made the right choice because the protests and political unrest continue there. The US Embassy there is still not recommending Americans to travel to Honduras.

I opened up a book to read in Fargo and the bookmark was from World Medical Mission (our sending agency to Honduras). Sadness and longing set-in. I read another email from a missionary to Loma de Luz Hospital and wish we could help. We return home to find 7 fully packed large pieces of luggage ready to go to Honduras. They are filled with medical supplies and gifts for the missionaries. I am still saddened by not being able to go to Honduras. I am sure that with time the saddness will lesson. Hopefully we will have another trip to look forward to soon.

We are planning on returning to Honduras in February 2010 and/or the summer of 2010. Any donations that we received for the trip will be held by World Medical Mission (WMM) until we take another trip. If you donated money to us through WMM and would like it returned to you, that is no problem, just let us know. We will be contacting everyone with our future plans which are still in the works.

Now life is in the process of getting back to the routine again. Bryan and I go to work tomorrow, Tuesday, and the kids go back to school. We have a ton of email and mail to read and a list of many chores to do. The to do list is a little long right now but hopefully by the weekend it will be more manageable. Tonight we are getting back to our sleeping routine after many late nights with family. Goodnight.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

rudeness and grace

I see the rudeness in others and it makes me realize that I am still rude and not nice to others. When others are rude, I want to step in and use my voice and tell them what's what. But, I know that it could be me on the other side. I am not always nice to others. Sometimes I say the wrong things. Sometimes I say mean things. Sometimes all I care about is myself.

My first reaction is to criticize others for their wrongdoing but everyone deserves the grace that God gives me every time I mess up.

It reminds me of the passage in the Bible about removing the log in your own eye before pointing out the small splinter of wood in someone else's eye.

My prayer is that when I see other's faults, it would remind me of the logs in my eyes that need to be washed out. Jesus, help me not be judgemental and help me to generously give out the grace that you give me daily.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

fun with grandparents

The kids have been enjoying their time with Grandpa Oscar and Grandma Judy so much. We've had a blast in Jamestown, ND.

The kids have been tired continuously and wornout from all of the fun and late nights and napless afternoons. They haven't always been in the best moods and have definitely pushed my buttons at times. Thank goodness I have had help from my parents and Bryan, even though he has not been feeling well the last couple of days.

Clay is getting more attitude all the time. When we were at the fair a few nights ago, Clay said to the goat, "Come over here. I want to tell you something."

We watched the new Veggie Tales movie tonight at my parents church and at the beginning Clay said this about Bob the Tomato, "Hey, that looks like an apple." This was really loud so everyone could hear it.

At the end of the movie, Clay turned over to me and said, "That was really cool." So cute coming from his little three year old body.

Jaden was so excited about the Veggie Tales movie that in church this morning when he found out about it, he couldn't contain himself. He said out, loud during a quiet time in the service, "We get to watch Veggie Tales."

When we left church to go get lunch, Jaden was very disturbed and commented, "We can't leave yet. We haven't watched Veggie Tales." He didn't understand that the movie was later in the day and we would come back for the movie.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

vacation continues

We had a blast in Wisconsin Dells and spent a lot of time in the waterpark connected to our hotel. We had a great time in the sun, pools, hot tubs and many water slides. It was a great time of family relaxing time. It was great to have Bryan's sister, Kim, and her friend, Jill with us. After three days in the water it was time to dry off and we headed home. I can't wait to get pictures loaded up but it will have to wait until our vacation is done.

We are now in Jamestown, ND at my parents. We are already having lots of fun--went swimming at the pool today and ate lots of yummy food at the county fair and tried to get the boys sick on some kiddie rides. My brother and his family are here too so the boys get to hangout with their girl cousins for few days which they are very excited about.

We will be going to Fargo on Monday to be with Bryan's family for awhile before we head back to our home.

We have decided that we are not going to Honduras this summer. It is still hard to think about and stomach because I still wish we were there instead of North Dakota. It is a nice second place to spend time with family but it is just not what I had been dreaming about for the last 5 months. We are now planning on returning to Honduras in January or February before our ticket voucher's expire.

We continue to pray for the people in Honduras and all of the political uncertainty they are facing. The ex-president, Zelaya, and the new president, Micheletti, are talking with the Costa Rican president to try to resolve things. So far, it doesn't look like things are going well. The best scenario would be to hold the presidential elections early (planned for Nov.) to try to make the most people happy with a legitimately elected president. Please keep praying for peace in Honduras and for a quick resolution and for no more violent protests (most have been peaceful).

We will keep you updated about our Honduras plans as we figure them out. We are still excited to get back there but are happy to be waiting for safer times to take our kids into such and uncertain environment.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

plans

We decided to take a little vacation while we are not working and are not in Honduras. We are headed to the Wisconsin Dells for two nights. We are really looking forward to the big waterparks and relaxing in a hotel. Jaden is most excited about eating at the hotel. He has been asking to go to a hotel for weeks now. We have a big room, enough to sleep 8 people because it was the same price to have 6 or 4 people in the room (2 more people cost more money). We are taking Bryan's sister, Kim, with us and a friend of hers.

I am looking forward to spending so much time in the water that we get wrinkly.

We had a blast the last two days as we went to our friends wedding on Friday night. Andy and Sarah are in our Meal Group from church and have become fast friends. Not being in Honduras was more worth it because we got to share in their big day.

Tonight we celebrated the 4th of July with some coworkers of Bryan's at their beautiful house. The kids had a blast playing with many new friends. They had more than their fair share of sugar tonight. Marshmallows, smores, DQ dilly bars, juice boxes and more marshmallows! Wow, that's a lot of sugar. We had fun in the hot tub and around the fireplace and the boys also enjoyed the huge playroom and Kung Fu Panda on the big screen with surround sound. What a party house! We also had a good view of the Edina, MN fireworks. This was the first year that both boys really enjoyed watching the fireworks and didn't cover their eyes and ears, as they did last year when we watched them over Mt. Rushmore. Too bad the boys couldn't hold it any longer and had to use the trees as a toilet. We forgot to take them to the bathroom before we walked a few blocks away to watch the fireworks. Oh well, kids keep life interesting. I am not a fan of people peeing in public places but our friend was ready to take Jaden in the trees which made me nervous...Bryan stepped in to help. There was definite peer pressure to use the trees. I am really hoping that the kids do not think it is ok to pee outside whenever they want. This is a very dangerous path for 3 and 4 year old boys.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

poor Honduras

It is saddening to see how the rest of the world is responding to Honduras. I think was happened in Honduras was harsh but it was done correctly according to the Honduran Constitution. It seems that the worldwide media is misrepresenting what happened and is making it appear that the Honduran government is violating the democracy they have put in place. This is not true. Former President Zelaya violated the laws of the country and needed to be removed from power. Why is it that so many countries, including the US, want Zelaya reinstated as president? Because they think he should be the democratic leader but legally he should not be any more. It seems to me that the other countries of the world need to wake-up and do some research into the Honduran Constitution and what exactly Zelaya did before he was arrested. It is really sad to see that the US, UN, EU, Organization of American States (OAS) and many other countries are not recognizing the new president and have already or are threatening to cutoff aid and trade to Honduras. It doesn't seem possible that so many governments could be misinformed but somehow it has happened.

If you want to read more about this, go to:
http://hondurasnews.com/2009/07/02/what-happened-according-to-the-constitution/

We have been getting relgular updates from the missionaries in Honduras. Zelaya is currently planning to return on Sunday. Here is the latest from Cornerstone and Loma de Luz Hospital:

The vast majority of Hondurans do not want him [Zelaya] and there was no military coup. He was legally separated from power by following the Honduran constitution--and without a drop of blood being shed--and the entire government that was in place prior to Zelaya’s expulsion is still in place and preceding democratically & entirely within the framework of their constitution...headed by the leader of the same party to which Zelaya formerly belonged. The Congress has impeached Zelaya unanimously & the Supreme court and the Fiscal General have at least 18 offences of provable charges out against him, ranging from malfeasance to fraud to treason. Beyond his resignation letter left behind, they have found 60 million lempiras in cash in Zelaya’s office, along with clear evidence linking him to Hugo Chavez’s Cocaine cartel. 260 million lempiras in cash was found in the hotel room that he was using to run the illegal referendum from.... The list goes on & on.
In Honduras in every major city tens of thousands of supporters of the ouster of Zelaya march peacefully in the streets in support of the new government (wearing white and carrying Honduran flags)... Every day....while a few hundred professional agitators (many of them being Venezuelans brought in for this purpose) and typical ‘ner-do-wells that are organized to support Zelaya are breaking windows and burning tires and throwing rocks and getting the intermational news coverage. Dr. Jeff has spoken to many, many Hondurans.... Particularly those out in the countryside in the area of the hospital. Even those who formerly supported Zelaya (before he tried to change the constitution regarding term limits) do not want Zelaya to come back. Not a single one wants him to return.


We will be waiting to see what happens on Sunday and Monday. The government is promising to arrest Zelaya as soon as he sets foot on Honduran soil. We are anticipating more problems to come in Honduras but are praying for the best there. It would be best for Zelaya to not return to power and for all countries to recognize the new president and go back to the friendly standing that everyone had with Honduras before this situation. That seems like a big miracle right now but I know that God can make that happen.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

disappointment

Disappointment is overwhelming me. We are not leaving for Honduras this Thursday. There is still a slim possibility that we will leave in another week or so but that possibility keeps decreasing.

There is too much political instability there for it to be safe for us right now. The US Embassy and State Department have made statements that all Americans should defer unnecessary travel to Honduras if possible. This may be lifted any time but probably not this week. I’m still hoping for next week. The ex-president Zelaya plans to return to Honduras on Thursday. I’m sure this will cause additional rioting and protesting no matter what is done. There are two sides to this controversy and both sides are unhappy.

There is more unrest in Honduras than the American media is publicizing. Some major roads and bridges are blocked, which happens frequently, by protestors so the missionaries are currently unable to get to the airport in La Ceiba. There are some short-term American travelers at Loma de Luz Hospital now that are unable to leave the country. They are trying again on Friday. We are not going down there if the airport is unreachable. We have also seen the violence in La Ceiba on YouTube videos. There was protesting, rioting and two random shots fired in the town square right in front of the hotel we will stay in our first night before we make our way by vehicle to the hospital.

The power has been off at times in the cities but that is not unusual. The power has been on at the hospital and they are pretty sheltered from the violence, rioting and protesting. The missionaries are only affected by it right now when they need to go to the nearest cities, La Ceiba or San Pedro Sula. There has been a curfew the last few days but not sure if it will get extended through tomorrow.

We are mostly packed and ready to go. We have about $2000 worth of medical supplies (Bryan’s estimate) that we have gathered together to take with us. We have 2 ½ weeks off from work and our flights are still going. We will not be on those flights and are in the process of deciding to delay our flights in the short-term or cash out our tickets for another trip. We will definitely return to Honduras but it is unknown when. We don’t know what we are going to do with our time off. Bryan can’t change his vacation days and has to use them now.

I have been so excited to go back to Honduras and help there and share my love with them; love that Jesus has given me for the Hondurans. I just want to help and serve the Hondurans and missionaries in any way that I can…and now I don’t get to do that. I am so disappointed. What are we going to do with our time off? Nothing we do will be as meaningful and fulfilling. Disappointment is settling in.

My heart and prayers are with the Hondurans and missionaries there.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

honduras, to go or not to go

This has been a big day in the history of Honduras. The government and military removed the president by force today and took him to Costa Rica and he is now in Venezuela. The Supreme court states that he violated the law and it was right to remove him. The government voted to impeach him. The UN and US and other organizations state that it was a coup and was not right that the president was removed from power.

I am not sure who is right in this matter but all over our news, it states that the Honduran president should be back in power. I am not convinced of this. There was definitely wrong done on both sides by the government/military and by the president. The president was trying to have an illegal vote today to try to create a new constitution to keep him in office as president even though he has reached his term limit. The government/military probably used too much force and they used a letter of resignation by the president that was false and presented it to their congress. There are a lot of people at fault here.

Honduras is not in the best situation right now. There is definitely more military presence there and there is a loss of power in major cities and a curfew for Sunday and Monday nights. There have been relatively peaceful protests in the capital, Tegucigalpa, but other than that the citizens are calm. The Honduran people have been amazing through this whole instability of their government over the last few days. Let's hope it remains that way and rioting and looting don't breakout.

We are trying to get as much information from as many sources as possible to decide if we should still travel to Honduras this Thursday. We are talking to the missionaries there and one in the US right now. We are talking with our sending agency, World Medical Mission, who has people in San Pedro Sula and in the US. We are trying to read as many news sources as possible. And we are praying a lot. We are not sure yet what to do. We are still planning as if we will leave Thursday. We still have complications with our flight schedule that need to get worked out. We may delay our trip shortly or long term, but we will return. We love the people there and have developed great relationships with the missionaries there. They have an amazing organization that we hope to be apart of long term.

In case you are tracking the news, we are flying into San Pedro Sula and out of Tegucigalpa. The nearest city to where we are going is La Ceiba. The hospital is in Balfate, Colon (region) and is called Loma de Luz Hospital. It is along the nothern/eastern gulf coast and is quite a distance from the capital.

Please keep us in your prayers as we try to determine what is best for our family. There is always risk traveling to a third world/developing country but it seems there is increased risk right now. We know that God wants us to go there but we are not sure if this is the right time.

Friday, June 26, 2009

pray for Honduras--political unrest there

There has been a lot going on in Honduras with their president over the last few days. We have been asked to pray for political stability by the missionaries. The president is trying to write a new constitution in the hopes that he can remain the leader after the upcoming presidential election (later this year), even though he has reached the current constitutional term limit.

We have been notified by World Medical Mission (Samaritan's Purse) about the unrest in Honduras and the possibility of delaying our trip if things get worse or if the State Department does not recommend travel there. Right now, travel is still ok but at any moment things could change. The current president of Honduras is trying to have a vote to create a new constitution and the vote is scheduled to take place on Sunday, June 28th. The Honduran Supreme Court and Congress are trying to stop the vote from taking place but now the president has the support and military backing of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.

Our in-country airline, TACA, has suspended all flights in Honduras as of June 24th. This is money related to TACA owing the government some fees--not related to political unrest. There are other airlines we can use but that is who we had already booked to fly from San Pedro Sula to La Ceiba. We are checking into this further.

You can read more about what is going on in Honduras here:
http://hondurasnews.com/

We will keep you posted about our trip but for now we are hoping and praying that things calm down there. I packed the boys clothes tonight but Bryan is definitely haven't anxiety about the trip. Pray for the Hondurans and our safety and guidance as to whether we should continue our trip as scheduled.

On a happy note, we have gotten about 7 large bags of medical supplies to take with us. We are very excited about what we are able to take. We got most of the smaller items on the hospital's medical needs list. We connected with 2 new organizations, 1 in Minneapolis and 1 in Fargo, that donated supplies for us to take. They have been very generous and we appreciate all they are doing to help us.

I am still praying for a miracle to be able to take an ultrasound machine, echocardiogram (ultrasound of heart) machine or portable x-ray machine with us. So far, we don't have any of these but these are what the hospital needs most. They have never had an echo and their ultrasound and x-ray machines are currently broken. It is very hard to practice medicine without these two machines. Please pray that these much needed machines get provided to Hospital Loma de Luz in miraculous ways!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Clay's Ball Party

So, it's been two weeks since Clay's party but I still wanted to get these pictures up here. He is now a big 3 year old and loves to tell people.

The boys had so much fun playing with about 100 balls in Grandma Vicki's (& Grandpa Cal's) living room. We had the party in Fargo, ND so we could make sure that family was there. We had a great time but I am really going to try to have a little kid party for Clay next year, when he turns 4. I definitely have some guilt about throwing Jaden two kid/friend parties already and Clay hasn't gotten any yet. It is good they can't remember that or care yet.

Here they are in the ball tent. They both were throwing and deflecting balls! A real treat to do this inside the house! Cousin Eli just wanted to smash everything included the tent and tunnel. They had a blast. We played some games with the balls and shot them through the hoop. There were balls of every kind.
Clay loved the bug toys he got from Grandma Judy and Grandpa Oscar. He got a magnifying glass, bug cage, binoculars and a bug net (the favorite). Clay was hilarious looking through the magnifying glass.
Clay is catching the rubber lizards on dad's face and loving it!
Clay was born one day after Uncle Eric's birthday so they got to share the cake for the party. My mom made a yummy lemon cake, as requested by Clay.
We spent many hours playing outside that weekend. Here are the 4 Jarabek cousins/grandsons: Clay, Jaden, Eli and

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Jaden and the Soccer Ball Monkeys

The kids on Jaden's team decided on their name, the Soccer Ball Monkeys. Not just the monkeys and not just the soccer monkeys. They're name is the Soccer Ball Monkeys. It is hard to cheer for that team--quite a mouthful but I still did my fair share of yelling.

Jaden loved soccer. This was his first official sport and he loved it! It is done now for us. He wishes that it was still going. We might have to find an indoor soccer league in the fall or at least another sport for him to do.

Jaden loves sports of all kinds. I havn't found a sport yet that he doesn't want to do or play. He is super competitive, even with his teammates, which is quite typical at this age. Kids don't yet understand the importance of a team and working together to accomplish a goal. He liked to tell us that he was not the fastest player and would go on to tell us who was the fastest that week. He also would fill us in on the goals for the game. Who scored the most and how many he/she scored and which team won. He did all of this in his head because there was no score kept during the game. He definitely has a knack for sports and I am sure they will be a large part of our lives in the future. I love watching Jaden be so passionate about playing soccer!

Here is Jaden in action.
Jaden and his team with their completion medals. I think the medals allowed us to get a picture of all of the kids without anyone wanting to hide or runaway. Bryan was the coach and did an awesome job. Jaden loved having his dad as his coach.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Honduras, here we come again!

Here is our letter telling of our upcoming adventure to Honduras. Double click on the letter and it will open so that you can read it without a magnifying glass.

Monday, June 15, 2009

You know you work on weapons when... (#2)

Today there was a lot of conversation and reading of words related to death... not just death, but killing. There was the chart documenting the "killing probability" of Spider (the weapon I work on to upgrade and replace existing landmines and make them safer for civilians). And there was much discussion about "lethality." There was discussion about lethality of weapons that are intended to be lethal and there was discussion about lethality of weapons that are intended to be non-lethal.

Maybe this is why I came home a little depressed. Or maybe it is just because I am sleep deprived. It does however make me more motivated to work on my resume...maybe tonight.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

my spiritual meditations

My piano teacher, Hestia, is a very opinionated woman. She randomly gives me spiritual lessons because she found out that I am a Christian. A few weeks back she told me that she was reading a book about Psalm 23 from the Bible. The psalm (poem/song) starts out: "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." I have been thinking about those words for the last 4 weeks. Hestia told me there is so much to those words and she is right. I am still meditating on them.

Today, I found some new words to meditate. I love the song Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. We sang a new verse that I hadn't heard until today (at Bryan's parents' church) so I looked it up in their hymn book and they had an American Indian version of the song, very interesting. I am taken by the first few words of the song in English. "Come thou fount of every blessing, Tune my heart to sing thy grace." Love that second line, "Tune my heart to sing thy grace." That is my prayer today.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Clay is 3!

Today Clay turned 3 years old. Wow, the last three years went by quickly. That is not to say that it was easy or that it wasn't memorable because it was both difficult and memorable. Raising two small children has definitely gotten easier over this last year and I am so happy to have boys that are 3 and 4 years old.

Clay had a great time celebrating his birthday at school on Wednesday. Bryan got to be a part of the birthday gathering and took this pictures while Clay was walking the Earth around the Sun (candle) to represent the three times he has circled the Sun in his life.


Today we celebrated by making pancakes. Clay wanted to make the recipe in Jaden's Sesame Street cookbook because the picture has a pancake in the shape of a three. They were the yummiest pancakes I have ever made and they were even better because we ate them with strawberries and whip cream. Clay got to enjoy a three-shaped pancake and Jaden got a four-shaped pancake.

We spent the whole afternoon outside today so I could mow the lawn, which did take the whole afternoon. Once Bryan got up from sleeping all day (he is working overnights), we had dinner and then Clay got to find his hidden present outside. Here he is with his three-wheel scooter. He loves the neighbor's similar scooter so we are hoping this will be a hit with him.


Saturday we will have another day of celebrating Clay with a birthday party in Fargo with lots of family.

shots hurt

Today Bryan and I had to get one more shot before we go to Honduras again in a couple of weeks. The boys, thankfully, don't need any more shots (after the 20, or so, shots our family had to get last year). Jaden asked me today, "Mom, are you going to cry?" Bryan said that was a very good question. I said no. I will take a deep breath to get through it.

Well, I took a lot of deep breaths today. I almost passed out! That has never happened to me before. The shot hurt a lot. I wanted to cry but Jaden was staring at me and the needle the whole time, so I held it together. I really tried to keep my arm relaxed and thought that I did. Not sure what caused all of the pain. I didn't cry but did take lots of deep breaths. After the nurse was done, she started getting ready for Bryan and I was feeling very nauseous. I thought, no big deal. I will get through this. Then I started getting dizzy. I said outloud, "I am not feeling well." The nurse quickly finished Bryan and left the room, telling Bryan to have me sit in the recliner. I then began giving an account of everything I was feeling.

"I am really naseous."
"I am losing my hearing."
"I can't hear."
Nurse comes in with juice. I put my feet up and within a minute, I am doing much better. She says, you are getting your color back. I didn't know I lost my color. Now I realize what just happened. I almost passed out! Jaden is begging for my juice and asking me what is 'passed out. Bryan thinks it is hilariously that I explained what was happening to me. It was so weird that it all happened slow enough for me to realize something was going wrong. Glad I didn't pass out but it did wipe me out for awhile. And now my left arm still hurts.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

my boys are getting old

I know I sound like a broken record but they are getting so big and growing up so much. Clay is turning 3 on Friday. On Wednesday, he gets to have a little celebration at school (because they only go to school on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday). Instead of taking treats, like candy, cupcakes or cake, Clay decided to he wanted to give a little present to each kid. To go along with his ball-themed birthday party upcoming on Saturday, he picked out bouncey balls made to look like mini basketballs, baseballs, soccer balls and footballs. He also picked out his favorite snack to share, animal crackers. He is taking his favorite book right now, Curious George and the Rocket (makes my heart sing). I am sending three pictures of him to school for the special birthday gathering that they have at the end of the morning school/work session. The pictures are of Clay at birth, at 1 year and at 2 years old. The birthday gathering sounds pretty cool. I wish I could be there. The teacher, Mr. Jason, lights a candle and walks around the gathering of kids (sitting on the ellipse, not an oval as I mistakingly called it) three times to represent the three times that Clay has circled the sun while living on this Earth three years. Pretty neat and hopefully it will help Clay and the other kids grasp what a year means.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

cute singing kids

On Friday night, the boys' school had their Spring Program for friends and family to watch them perform some songs and see the 6 year old kids graduate that are moving onto first grade at another school.

I have never enjoyed watching kids sing so much. I bribed the boys with tootsie rolls if they did a good job singing. I think it helped. I am not above bribing my kids. There was a good possibility that they wouldn't sing so I went with bribery to see a good show.

It worked and they sang like no one was watching. They sang their hearts out and knew all the motions to the songs too. They were so cute to watch. Bryan and I couldn't wipe the grins off our faces. When Clay wasn't doing any motions, he was digging for gold in his pockets. He didn't find any but just kept digging. The kids little nervous mannerisms are so cute to watch.

Clay digging away!
Jaden is doing a very good job of holding his drumsticks quietly. He refused the bells and asked for the sticks. He sure loves sticks of all kinds!
Clay ringing his heart out! Ring those bells! He was strategically placed between two mothering little girls that kept him inline--so cute!
Miss Katy (assistant teacher) and Mr. Jason (lead teacher)
The kids singing Itsy Bitsy Spider in Spanish.

I love their school. I think they take very good care of my boys. As I get to know their teachers more, I like them more. The kids are learning a little Spanish and French. They have a music teacher that comes in weekly to play piano and sing with the kids. The music teacher is the daughter of my piano teacher and uses the same methods I am learning and passing onto my boys.

The kids were so cute at the program. They all know each other very well. It was funny to watch the parents, who don't know each other, observe the kids interacting so easily.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

You know you work on weapons when... (#1)

someone leaves the last three issues of National Defense magazine on your desk and thinks you won't mind. Hey, maybe you'll even enjoy them!

Work was better than expected today. Got caught up on things but the best parts of my day involved my boys. They were nice to me this morning and were pleasantly helpful while I got them ready to separate from me at school. They seemed right at home at their school. I really enjoyed that. I also looked forward to picking them up from school. They were a joy to have along for the long, traffic-filled ride home.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

home from a great vacation

We are back in Minnesota! We had an awesome vacation and saw lots of friends. The boys got to play in the sand and the water on Saturday and Sunday and loved it. They wanted to go there again on Monday.

We had a fun barbecue on Saturday for Dan and Laurie's wedding and got to meet everyone going to the wedding. We played volleyball and hungout on the beach at Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis, MD.

Saturday night we had an awesome party with lots of friends, hosted by our family/friends, Brian and Kim. We got to see lots of people that we love and miss. It was a lot of fun.

On Sunday, Dan and Laurie had a beautiful beach wedding and reception at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. The food was incredible and the location was amazing! It was so great and meaningful to celebrate with lifelong friends.

We got to explore Annapolis on Monday and see more friends.

We had a wonderful time and it was quite relaxing. I did come back tired, which I did not want to do. We stayed up late many nights talking with our hosts, Ryan and Heather, and their other houseguests, Ian and Bekah. The late nights were fun but slightly exhausting.

It was so nice to be on vacation and now I have to go back to work for the next three days. I need to get a good night's sleep to prepare and build up for the work I will need to get done. I am not excited to go back to work right now. I need some sleep to not think about it right now.

Friday, May 29, 2009

tourists

We have been having fun a lot of fun in DC. We toured the Air & Space Museum, the Natural History Museum and the new Capitol Visitors Center. The boys loved the rockets and airplanes and the dinosaur bones. It was so much fun sh0wing them around.

There has been rain off and on but it has been mostly beautiful weather around 80 degrees. I totally forgot how humid it is here. It definitely competes with the humidity in Honduras but it is less heat, for now anyway.

We have been enjoying staying up late and sleeping in and taking it slow and easy. So far, the vacation has truly been restful. We have gotten to hangout with lots of friends and there are more friends to come.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

soooooo big

My boys are growing up. They are so big! On the airplane ride out to Washington DC, we had the boys sit together on one side of the aisle and Bryan and I on the other side of the aisle. They sat so nicely the whole flight. They talked to each other like big kids. They entertained themselves and watched some movies too. I just love listening to their conversation when they talk to each other. The loved flying on the airplane. Everything was so fascinating to them and they had lots of questions. I love answering their questions. Traveling to DC was a blast. I am sure the flight home will be fun too and I am hoping it goes as smoothly.

The downside is that I seem to have forgotten many things, mostly my things. My contacts, prescription sunglasses, shorts, pants in the dryer (still wet) and swimming suits (for my whole family). I think we are going to have Bryan's sister overnight my contacts to me. I don't think I can make it a week without them.

Monday, May 25, 2009

off for vacation

Our family flies out on Tuesday for a week in the Washington DC area. We can't wait to tour the city with our kids and see friends and celebrate a wedding. We are looking forward to lots of fun times. We love that city and it has a special place in our lives after living there for seven years.

I really tried hard to leave lots of down time so we feel rested and relaxed when we return. We'll see how that turns out.

Bryan's sister, Kim, is now living with us for the summer, or at least part of it. It will be nice to have her taking care of our house while we are gone. We can't wait to spend more time with her. The boys are really excited for Aunt Kimberly to be here too.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

stay up to enjoy it

Tonight begins a two week break from work for some vacation time. Bryan and I should really be in bed but life is too good and too full (in a good way) to go to bed. I just want to stay up and enjoy the vacation in my own home. I have been working really hard at ATK lately, so I am especially ready for a break.

We leave for Washington DC on Tuesday and we are going to have a blast! I can't wait. We are staying with good friends in the city. We are getting together with lots of friends we haven't seen in awhile. We will be seeing good friends get married. And, on top of that, we get to be tourists with our boys in one of the best cities in the world. Tuesday will be here soon!

Monday, May 18, 2009

my kids made me happy

I have to admit that my kids frustrate me often and but they do laugh a lot so they are good at lightening the mood.

Today work was not fun and was quite depressing to me. I was really looking forward to seeing the boys, even though Bryan had a work meeting tonight. Usually I don't look forward to evenings without Bryan but tonight was different. I couldn't wait to be with my boys and have them cheer me up and forget about all the downside of my job.

We had fun tonight despite all of the times I had to discipline my boys. We laughed a lot. We ate mac-n-cheese. We raced in the house and timed each other running. We played the piano. And the boys told me lots of stories from school today.

They rejuvenated me and I am ready to go to work again tomorrow. Jaden and Clay are excited to do their work at school tomorrow. I love that the Montessori method teaches kids that work is good. I can actually have a conversation about work with my boys and they seem to get it. They have work. Mom has work. Daddy has work. Grown-ups work. They think this is good because they like their work. I hope they will always like their work and find work that they love to do.