Thursday, December 29, 2011

yearly summary from Bryan


2011 has been a year filled with challenges, growth, and adventure. Highlights from the year include a return mission trip to Honduras with Raquel’s parents as part of the team, a family trip to Disney World, three trips for Raquel to watch the last space shuttle launch with the last trip being successful, a new role for me helping deploy an electronic medical record at Fairview Southdale Hospital, Raquel becoming the volunteer aerospace expert for the upcoming space station exhibit being created by the Science Museum of Minnesota, our church changing to a new pastor, Jaden jumping into first grade, Clay starting kindergarten as the big man on campus without his big brother around, and a cute little 4 year old girl named Alexis joining our house and trying to overcome the difficult start to her life.

In May we collected an amazing 14 bags full of medical equipment including a ventilator machine and went back to Loma de Luz hospital in Honduras. Raquel’s parents, Oscar and Judy Vilhauer, came along and put their carpentry, sewing and teaching skills to use throughout the hospital grounds. They were truly a gift from God to the people and staff down there and it was a blessing for us to be able to serve with them. I made a video tour of the hospital grounds on YouTube. You can search for Honduras Jarabek to find the video or use this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q40bZptRC7g. You can check out Raquel’s blog in May and June for more details on the trip as well.

In June, Clay had a parachute birthday party with a blow up bounce house in our back yard. My wife is an amazing party planner and my kids are so blessed to have her as their mom! Clay is doing kindergarten at Sunrise Montessori and is starting to add, read tons of books and make us all laugh on a daily basis. He brings so much joy into our home! Jaden started first grade this year at Olson Elementary school and continues to excel at math, reading, and every sport he plays (hence the YMCA gym party in November). He is high energy, competitive, and wicked smart like his mom. He can add and subtract two digit numbers in his head, knows about half of his multiplication tables and is reading at a second grade level. Over the summer Raquel continued to volunteer at the Science Museum of Minnesota and was asked to be the aerospace expert for a multimillion dollar space station exhibit that is being designed over the next few years and will be traveling through many of the large museums throughout the country. She loves the opportunity to share her passion for space and they really enjoy having a volunteer aerospace engineer to help them with the project. I continue to work at the hospital helping patients get well, families cope with loss, and doctors navigate our new electronic record. Our family did escape the busy schedule to go to Disney World in August and loved every minute, from the luxury Disney resorts to Jaden going on the Expedition Everest roller coaster. Bryan also escaped on a Canada fishing trip and South Dakota pheasant hunting trip.

As many of you know Raquel and I have been taking classes for adoption and foster care for the last year and in October we got a call asking if we would take a cute little 3 (almost 4) year old girl named Alexis into our home. Alexis’s life has been filled with drugs, neglect and probably some abuse. She has speech delays, physical delays, attachment issues, fits of rage and self-harming behaviors. We are struggling to cope with the rage, adjust our behaviors to avoid tantrums, and try to explain to our boys why Alexis is how she is and that they are loved and safe. They have struggled behaviorally with the change, but we are trying to make extra one on one time with them to meet their needs and help them adjust. Our primary goal for Alexis is to provide a stable foster care environment for Alexis and get her as many school and medical services as possible to try to start improving her delays and behavioral issues. Please pray for us and our family! We pray that God will be with you this year in a special way that brings you joy & peace in abundance!

Bryan, Raquel, Jaden, Clay and Alexis

Monday, December 12, 2011

Do not fall off a ladder

The boys have been asking for us to hang lights on the outside of our house at Christmas ever since we moved into this house 3 years ago and we had a bunch of free lights from my brother (Thanks, Kevin!). So I thought, why not this year! We had been getting the lights ready throughout the day on that Saturday, a week ago, and when we finally had them ready after replacing bulbs and buying one more set, I just wanted to get the lights hung and didn't care that it was snowing and dark. The boys came outside to play in the snow while I hung lights. I warned them to go get dad inside the house if I fell. I was not feeling very confident about my ladder skills. Clue #1. It was snowing and everything was slippery. Clue #2. What are these clues leading to...do not hang lights today.

Bryan had just come outside to help me and I told him, just let me fix this one light. Bryan walked around to the side of the house where the boys were playing. And that is when the big fall happened. I was about half way done and the ladder slipped on the driveway and it went crashing to the ground with me landing on top of it. I cracked a corner piece off the ladder and smashed a few light bulbs in the process. I yelled as soon as I caught my breath after having the wind knocked out of me. I fell on the ladder and gravity hurt me badly.

I felt like everything was broken at that moment and did not want to take a breath. I yelled for what seemed like a minute, probably just a few seconds. I didn't want to stop letting air out of my lungs because I was terrified how much it would hurt to take a breath. The boys and Bryan were very concerned. Jaden later asked twice if I was going to die. We reassured him I would be ok but at that moment I didn't believe it. Bryan helped me get into the house and I almost passed out in the entryway. I laid on the floor to recover my sight and hearing. Then I moved to the couch. There was no comfortable position to lay but I couldn't move. Partially out of fear and partially out of everything hurting. Bryan checked me out and at first he thought nothing was broken. The more I sat, the more I knew something was really wrong with my right arm. I couldn't hardly move it. There was discussion about going to urgent care and Bryan informed me that they wouldn't cast me if it was broken so we should try to wait it out until Monday when I could see an orthopedic doctor who would put on a cast if needed. Later that night he got a sling for my increasingly painful and possibly broken right elbow. Clay asked if I broke my funny bone. I wish I could've laughed but the pain was too much. As time went on, we were both convinced it was broken around my elbow and we planned on seeing an orthopedic doctor on Monday to get an x-ray and potential cast. I was hurting everywhere which made it hard to pin point what was really hurting. My sternum hit the ladder and was in great pain and so were my ribs. We are pretty sure now that I probably broke a rib on my left side because I still have a lot of pain there. I have bruises all over but they took awhile to appear. I have bruises in parts that I didn't know I hit.

On Monday we found out that my arm is not broken. Many prayers of thanksgiving have been said over the last week. I am so glad I can use my arm even though it is only partially working. The doctor told me to quit using the splint then and that I needed to move my painful arm to get it to heal and regain my range of motion. So I have been using my right arm as much as possible but I only have about 90% range of motion and it hurts a lot to move it still. I probably only have about 25% muscle control in my right arm. Everything is painful from pumping soap to putting on my seat belt but I am gritting it out. I want my healthy arm back and the more I use it, the better it will get. I am taking it easy on carrying things. I can't lift any small children or heavy items as the doctor ordered. Lifting could make the damage take longer to heal. Hopefully in 3 weeks time, I will be lifting items again. Bryan is taking on the task of physical therapist now and forcing movement when it doesn't seem possible. I appreciate his help and hope that I get better sooner because of it.

I am still not sleeping well. My ribs are hurting so badly that they wake me up at night repeatedly. I am still taking ibuprofen and acetaminophen throughout the day and night for pain. This is not great timing when I really could use a good night of sleep every night in order to take better care of the 3 challenging kids in my house. Lots of prayers going up for healing, sleep and for little girl tantrums to end in our household. Thanks for your prayers.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Celebrating Jaden




We got to celebrate Jaden's 7th birthday a little early this year. His birthday is actually on November 23rd. It usually falls near Thanksgiving so he got to have his party 4 days before he turned 7. He chose to have a basketball themed party at the YMCA. The kids got to play all kinds of games at the Y and they all had fun. They got to eat lots of orange colored snacks and drink lots of Gatorade. Everyone had fun despite the 3 inches of snow we got during the party.

This is an interesting age for Jaden. He is getting to be so independent. He is able to play outside by himself and follow the rules. He requests to play with friends all the time and rings our 2 neighbor boys' doorbells often. One time he rang the doorbell a few too many times and caused a neighbor boy to call 911. That will be quite the story for him to live down. I am sure Jaden will hear that over and over again. Jaden loves his friends, has lots of them and is very extroverted. Jaden just had his first outing with a friend today when they left to go watch high school basketball together.

He still has issues with hugs and people touching him so we continue to work on this as it seems heightened with a new little girl in the house. He is very organized and enjoys a controlled environment. His need to control things has increased as our house stress level has risen recently. He is fully aware of the changes in our house and has taken that stress more on himself than out on anyone else. He needs his life structured and predictable and if it's not, he must fix it. This causes him to obsess about some things that he shouldn't and this has made family life even harder. He could definitely use some prayer in this area.

Jaden seems to love all things "boy," cars/trucks/bikes, legos, Star Wars, super heroes, particularly Iron Man right now, sports, being physically active, along with reading, games and music. He became interested in the ukelele this summer when he saw 2 very cute older teenage girls playing them for one of his favorite songs, "This Is the Stuff" by Francesca Battistelli. Hopefully we have encouraged his love of music with his new uke.

Jaden is still very energetic and quite talented physically. He enjoys racing and competing with anyone at all times. He loves winning and knowing he is the best at something. I think he is a great reader and love listening to him. He is still very skilled at math and hopefully his love of math continues.

Jaden's personality is very similar to mine and I love that about him. I know he is my son! I see my weaknesses and strengths in him and I am very proud of him. He continues to teach me new things and I love that. Just today he showed me that he has a huge heart for the little girl in our house by trying to calm her down. This melted my heart. I want to squeeze him close like a little baby but he only wants to push me away and continue growing up and older. He is growing more compassionate and caring and growing in intellect. I love watching him change and love seeing how he changes me for the better. Happy #7, Jaden!



Saturday, November 19, 2011

learning delays


Here are a couple pictures from little girl's birthday party last weekend. We had my brother and his 3 kids over for dinner and cake and presents. She loved her dress up clothes from them! We inflated a bunch of balloons for her, which she calls, "moons" and she loved them too.

On Friday we took her to her special education evaluation after she needed further assessment from her preschool screening. I had to get over the lump in my throat that she would be going to special education and we were beginning to face development delays. Then yesterday she was having a very "smart" day. She performed very well on all the testing. The evaluator was quite impressed with her and said she was a teacher's dream but that she definitely needed speech help. I don't think she saw what we see and deal with daily. Then when we were about to leave the behavior issues started coming out. She didn't want to go and did everything she could to stay. We got through it and got her in the van. This was not the result of the evaluation we were expecting.

We know little girl is mentally delayed. We still don't know if that is because she just hasn't been taught (although she was in daycare from 1 to 3 years old) or because she has some severe learning difficulties. She might catch up completely but it is unknown. There is a lot of unknown with her. It is unknown how much speech progress she can make and it is unknown how her behavior will change as she ages. We know her learning is delayed and she will need extra help and the professionals agree but she looks smart compared to other special education children. What the evaluation did show me was that some of my efforts are paying off. I have been practicing a lot of the skills that were tested with her. And she performed them very well. She can now understand "what's missing," same or different and play matching games. She can write better and has learned more shapes. Her deficiencies still exist but they were not tested yet, other than her speech.

I was also reassured that having her at Clay's Montessori school is the right thing for her. We met with the 2 Montessorians (teachers) yesterday for Clay's conference and they reminded me that Dr. Montessori originally designed this program specifically for kids like our little foster girl. Dr. Montessori was the first female physician in Italy and she was put in charge of the "orphaned" children in Italy because it seemed like they didn't know what to do with her. The teachers agree with us that little girl needs lots of love and it is great to know she is getting more love while she is at school too. We have had her at school only one day a week but will be increasing it to two in December. A little more freedom for me and education for her. I am looking forward to getting involved again at the science museum.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

birth mom

A birth mom is what is known as the mom that gives birth to a child. She used to be known as a biological mom but now the correct term is birth mom. Less science-y and a shorter word to use. We are dealing with birth mom interactions and complications from those interactions or lack of them.

This afternoon was hard. Little girl can't understand why her mom doesn't show up to see her and she doesn't have the words to talk about it. We just say it is hard. I try to explain to the boys why she had a hard afternoon. We try to relax, share a treat and have some fun on hard days like today.

Today was the 4th visit that has been scheduled for mom to interact with her daughter since she has been in our house. The first visit mom showed up and left early. About 20 minutes into a 2 hour visit because little girl threw a tantrum and couldn't calm down quickly. Second visit mom didn't show up because she was in the hospital after a pretty serious suicide attempt. Third visit mom showed up late but had about an hour and half successful visit. Chips were shared and she got a stuffed gorilla. There was no mention of little girl's upcoming birthday. Little girl turned 4. Fourth visit was supposed to happen today and mom didn't show up. We lingered extra long in the waiting area of the supervised visit building, mostly because little girl wanted to finish coloring. I kinda wonder if she was hoping that her mom would show up. Not sure. I know she knew why we were there but it is very hard to talk about and it just makes her angry when we do talk about mom visiting. We got in the van to leave. Got a treat from Starbucks. Avoided a screaming melt down after the cake-pop (lollipop made of cake) was gone. Little girl had the saddest look on her face. Made me tear-up. She fell asleep on the drive home. Breaks my heart.

I am praying for mom to show up at our next visit on Monday. My life is harder whether mom shows up or not because of the emotion, fear, uncertainty and anger in little girl that results when thinking about her mom and knowing the possibility of seeing her. I pray her mom is still alive and that she has the will to try to get better.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

3 kids is harder than 2

We are still adjusting to having three kids in our house. For the first two weeks, the boys were on their best behavior. I appreciated their perspective sooo much. When little girl was throwing a fit in the van, Clay said, "It's ok that I don't have toys on one side of my car seat because I have enough on the other side." We had to remove toys from little girl's car seat and from one side of Clay's because she can reach his toys when she gets angry and throws a fit in the van while strapped into the seat. She likes to throw things when she gets mad. She also screams very loudly which has caused her to lose part of her voice the last couple days. That is actually refreshing because she can't be as loud. When she was at her ear-piercing loudest, Jaden and I were riding in the van with her on the way to school and Jaden had perfect timing as I was trying to mentally and physically block out the screaming. I was wishing for ear plugs. My ears were actually in pain. Jaden said in between screams, "Mom, it's ok. It doesn't hurt my ears because I have my hood up." So sweet. I wish I could make the screaming stop and I wish that he didn't have to suffer through it also.

We are over three weeks into this process and last week the boys got difficult. They snapped out of their good behavior and seem to have lost track of house rules and boundaries. We are trying hard to love each of them in individual ways and figure out what they need most. Dealing with three misbehaving kids is hard and exhausting.

We celebrated little girl's 4th birthday this weekend. We had fun and again it was exhausting. For once she got away with saying, "Mine!" as much as she wanted. Her birthday presents belonged to her. The 20 balloons Bryan blew up, belonged to her. Her birthday cake was hers and she enjoyed the mine-ness for a short while.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Tantrums

It has been two weeks now that we have had our foster girl in our house. It has been quite an experience. More work and a bigger challenge than we expected. I think we have had 3 days that have been tantrum free with 1-3 tantrums on the other days. This is the hardest part of life with the little girl. She gets violent to herself and with Bryan and I so we have to restrain her. It continues to shock me how much she tries to hurt herself - kicking and hitting walls and furniture, hitting her head on anything around her, pulling out her hair, digging in her fingernails into her hands and the list will go on. When she gets angry she has a very difficult time calming down and it takes her up to 40 minutes to calm down and stop screaming and yelling. Bryan and I have figured out that it actually helps for us to talk to her intermittently throughout the tantrum. This shortens the screaming time. We have also noticed that she is ready to be done when she starts screaming "Please..." and requesting whatever she wants to do. It is amazing how quickly she stops screaming and becomes the sweetest kid possible. There are lots of hugs and kisses and lots of holding and reading books in the calm period.

The tantrums are very difficult. We have not really seen notable improvement in the tantrum area. On the other hand, I have noticed improvement in other areas. She can share sometimes and can take turns. She can react to "No" without screaming now. She responds to threats with good behavior and doesn't throw a tantrum (all the time). She learned a new shape, square. She now can say some numbers even if they are in the wrong order. She can match and sort colors. She uses the toilet occasionally (even pooped once in the toilet). She will repeat her words and almost always tries to pronounce the word correctly when prompted. These might seem like small things but it is so encouraging to see any improvement.

I have been praying so much over the last two weeks. I need more patience. She needs to feel loved and given attention. She needs to be able to use some calming techniques when her anger or emotions are out of control. Her mom needs help to recover from drug addiction. We need to get services set up for developmental delays, speech therapy and possible physical therapy.

Thank you for your prayers. We feel them and it is neat to see God answering some prayers. She had her preschool screening last Wednesday. It didn't go well, as expected but now the ball is rolling to get her some help that she needs.

Her birthday is 6 days away and it will be exciting to celebrate with her. She will be 4 years old which is hard to believe. We often feel like she is a 2 year old in many ways but is the size of a 4 1/2 year old. I continue to be taken by her affection and sweetness. She has a soft heart and needs a lot of love and help from people around her. I continue to pray that we can provide some of the help that she needs.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Foster the change

There are times when I just need to write to express all that is going on. This is one of those times. There is so much going on inside my head. My house is a mess and there are dishes to do and mail to tend to and laundry to be done. I guess that is what happens when you add another child into your house. I did plan for this as best as I could with the one week notice we had that our first foster child would be arriving in our house.

A little 3 year old girl arrived calmly to our house around 1pm on Monday, October 24th with her social worker. She was sweet and instantly affectionate. A sign of how love-starved she is. Cute but also very sad. She strokes your hair. She says, "Nice shirt. Nice hair." She gives wonderful hugs. She needs lots of love. She is quiet but not silent with a cute little high pitch voice. She is chatty and makes lots of little noises. She is curious. She will stick her in your pocket and point to everything saying "What dat?" or the latest, "What color dis?"

She turns 4 soon but does not know her colors or numbers and can not count even one. She does know she is three and responds promptly when asked. She plays extremely well by herself. She seems most interested in building anything, blocks, train tracks, kinex, etc. So that makes her fit well with our boy toys. She doesn't seem to know what to do with a doll or barbie doll beyond hold it. She really likes quiet and when Jaden and Clay are around she is often heard saying, "Kids loud. Kids noisy."

She is probably delayed mentally and physically. This is yet to be assessed. Her speech is very hard to understand but she is great at charades and repeating her words. She falls a lot and can't walk a straight line. She has a lot of problems with stairs. She did not have a great start in life and has not had anyone helping her progress so hopefully we can make up for that some.

We are still working on getting her to learn our names; Raquel, Bryan, Jaden and Clay. She has figured out the quickest way to get my attention is to yell (in her quiet voice), "Mom!" It is pretty cute but also makes me think of her mom every time I hear her say it. Sometimes I correct her. "You can call me Raquel or Quel."

She has blond hair and very fair skin with greenish-gray eyes. Very cute little chubby cheeks. She looks and acts like an angel most of the time. She is big for her age and already looks about 4 1/2 years old. She seems heaven sent at times. She couldn't be more loving and cute. I actually calculated (my engineer-side) that she is quite amazing about 96% of the time that she is awake which is even better if you account for sleeping time. There is that 4% which is causing me to write. It is good to remind my pessimist self that it is only 4% of the time. So that 4% of the time she screams and yells and cries at the top of her little bitty lungs. Which is amazingly loud and excruciatingly painful to my ears at times. She has started to act-out violently in the last 24 hours. Kicking, hitting, grabbing, scratching, pulling hair. That is not fun. It is exhausting. I have been completely calm and amazingly disconnected until I see the pain in her eyes as she is screaming. I guess others might not see it as pain but when her eyes light up all red from the crying, I swear I can feel a little bit of her pain. It has brought me to tears a few times while I watch her scream and yell and just not know how to calm down. Usually it has been as dramatic of an end to the tantrum as the beginning. Once she is done, on average about 15 minutes later, she is pleasant. Says sorry and gives hugs and is ready to play calmly. It is amazing to watch it all unfold. I didn't know that could come out of such a cute small package until now.

She has gotten more challenging as the week has went on but her life has only been more complicated because of our family. I would love to think we are doing an amazing thing for taking her in but her hurt and wounds seem so huge that our contribution seems so small and may not amount to much even over time. This has brought me to tears and prayer many times this week. God is my fuel and my motivation comes from Jesus and the love and grace He shows me continually.

We know quite a bit about what she has endured and what her mother's life has been like and that just makes me hurt. Why are some people dealt such a hard life? I would like to think that maybe we can help change the generational pattern in this family but it seems quite impossible. More prayer. I met her mother just briefly today for our first supervised visit where I dropped her off. After the visit that did not go well and ended early, she said, "Mom mean. Me sad." Out of her three year old little mouth. Me sad too.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Journey to Space

It has been too long since I posted. I was waiting to post something about my new gig at the Science Museum of Minnesota but then I waited too long and this post is long over due. I have been volunteering at the museum since February of this year. I started out as a school group greeter and then moved on to be an exhibit gallery volunteer doing science demonstrations with visitors. About the beginning of August I started helping with some exhibit development. They are working on a new exhibit called "Journey to Space" about the International Space Station. I am the "aerospace engineering expert" which is fun but really I just want to contribute in any way I can and have fun doing it. I am loving it! I am at the museum 2 days a week (half a day in the exhibit gallery still) and the other time I am contacting people at NASA and asking them for help and researching the space station for exhibit ideas. It has been a blast! I feel like I am part of the team. I am enjoying being a volunteer for now and being able to come and go as I please. There is potential that this could turn into a job but I am trying to take this new adventure slowly. The exhibit is planned to open in St. Paul in the summer of 2014 and then travel to at least 14 museums around the country over 6 or more years. The exhibit is going to be huge if all goes as planned. Potentially $8 million spent on 15,000 square feet of exhibit space. There are large simulators or rides planned and many smaller engineering and science interactives. I love being a part of all that is going on at the museum, especially when it is space related. I have lots of free tickets to the museum. Let me know if you ever want to go!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

first day of school...deep breath

Bryan and I just dropped our boys off at separate schools. The boys are now beginning their period of separation, ha ha. They have been in school together the last 2 years and 8 months. Before that Jaden was in two preschools without Clay but neither of them really remember that, other than what we tell them. Jaden is transitioning from a Montessori school to our local public school for 1st grade. We just met his teacher this morning and she seems great! She made a perfect first impression. Clay is transitioning to a new teacher at the same Montessori school (without Jaden and his old friends that left for Kindergarten) for his last year there. He is now a big kindergartner and probably the only one left at his school. This whole school situation seems like one big trial to me. I still have lots of questions remaining. Was it worth it to send Jaden to a Montessori school for kindergarten? Will it be too much work to drive the boys to separate schools? Should Clay just go to a traditional kindergarten and be at the same school with Jaden? Is there really that much difference in my local schools? Did we choose to live in the right place for the right school?...Who knows! I may never know the answers to any of these questions and hopefully I will be ok with that. Sometimes I wish I had a guarantee that my kids will turn out alright. That they will get the things I want to instill in them. That my efforts will pay off. That they won't end up in jail or living in the streets. But if you know me, you know that I have way higher expectations for my kids...probably too high and that will be my lifelong struggle...too high of expectations for myself and for everyone I know. I need to take a deep breath, lots of deep breaths. Slow down and take one day at a time. But time seems to be zooming by. It feels like fall and the sun is rising later and setting earlier. Time is getting away from me. Take another deep breath.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

food for thought

I have been chewing on some thoughts lately.

I am a disciplinarian. I want my kids to do what I tell them and follow the rules because they are a better way to live life...better for themselves and better for other people. When they don't follow the rules, there are consequences. I air on the side of giving my kids consequences rather than reminding them again and giving grace. Now I know that there is a time for grace and a time for consequences but I know I deal out more consequences than grace at times. I also know that Jesus was a man full of grace when he walked this Earth. I am not always sure how to implement that when training my kids. A phrase that Jaden has told me a few times keeps echoing in my head. It is, "Just give him one more chance." This is usually referring to Clay but also applies to himself when Clay says it. This is grace...to give one more chance. I know that Jesus has done this for me more times that I can count. I need to implement some more grace into my parenting.

Another thought sticking in my mind came from my brother-in-law, Eric. He has a strong personality, not all that different than mind, and is not afraid to speak his mind. He recently told me to go easy on Bryan or be more kind or something to that affect. I brushed it off, thinking I know I should but oh well. Usually I can come up with some excuse. I am tired. I am cranky, too bad. Just deal with it. Or he did something to deserve my unkindness. But what I have noticed is that those excuses have been popping up in my head more and more often. That is not good. I need to reassess my words and actions. If I want to be loving, I need to be kind, especially to my husband. Love is kind.

Monday, August 1, 2011

loving my Bryan for 13+ years



August 1st is my wedding anniversary! I have been married to the wonderful, amazing, brilliant and loving Bryan Jarabek for 13 years. This year was my turn to plan our anniversary celebration. I planned the 2 day, one night excursion all around Minneapolis. Last year we celebrated in St. Paul so I thought we needed to give equal time to the twin city...really I just love the city.

We were so blessed to have my brother and sister-in-law take our boys for us overnight. We dropped the boys off and headed for Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis. We ended up getting a two person paddle boat to take around Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles. We mostly hung out in the shade and had a great conversation. It was a great, relaxing way to start our time together. Then we headed to check into our hotel, Aloft, in downtown. It was a sleek modern hotel. I loved it but Bryan said it had more of a business feel to it, but enjoyed it anyway. I got a great deal on it which made it even better. We got appetizers and drinks at Spoon River. Then we went to a play at the Guthrie (God of Carnage--so funny!) that evening and had a delicious meal at Vic's, along with a nice walk along the river. We slept in a little on Monday, August 1st, our anniversary. Then we got an early lunch at Northeast Social that was tasty and quick. After that we headed to a boat tour on the Mississippi River. We got a little rained on but it was still a fun tour. Our tour ended a little early due to the massive storm in the area. We still had more time before we had to pick up the boys so we checked out the Mill City Museum and got some hot drinks from Caribou Coffee. Lots of good food and new restaurants in two days!

That sounds like a packed 2 days without the boys but it was actually very relaxing and wonderful. We picked up the boys at 4:30 and are back to life as usual. Dinner at home. Bedtime routine with the boys. And snuggle time on the couch with Bryan. I love having Bryan all to myself!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

celebrating my parents




A little over a week ago on July 17th, my family threw my parents a big party for their 40th wedding anniversary (June 5th). My parents have 4 kids and all of us are married. The 8 of us had a great time planning the party. It ended up being quite a big job to throw a party for 200 people. And we like to decorate and plan big, so we did. The 4 kids all took a few minutes to give a tribute to my parents. I think it was great and I am sure my parents felt loved. I got pretty emotional while talking to my parents but that is because my parents are amazing and that is just not worth containing. I was probably a little long-winded in my tribute but I wanted to tell a few stories. Here are some of things I love about my parents.

Dad, thank you for caring about my life and what I was doing as a child. You taught me how to laugh and not take life so seriously. Thank you for teaching me to value people more than things.

Mom, thank you for teaching me to value apologies and forgiveness. You showed me that it is worthwhile to spend your time doing something that you love. Thank you for going out of your way to show me love.

Mom and Dad, thank you for caring about my interests and for taking time for them even when they didn’t match your interests. You knew that God always provided for us and passed that belief onto your kids. Thank you for showing me what loving your family looks like. Thank you for praying for me and letting me hear your prayers. I know that you invested everything you could into our family. I am incredibly blessed to have a mom and dad that are still married and still love each other and like being together. Thank you for being available to me and for allowing God to guide you in parenting me.

Thank you for all of the love, time and energy you invested in my life. You pointed me to God and allowed me room to grow to be the person God is still molding me to be. I love you and congratulations on 40 years of marriage. I pray that my marriage will be as loving and fruitful as yours.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

the space shuttle era has ended

The Atlantis Space Shuttle landed safely today at Kennedy Space Center. This was the finale to the very successful space shuttle program, retiring all space shuttles. This is sad to me because I dreamed as a little girl of rocketing into space someday aboard a space shuttle. The Challenger began my interest in space in 1985 and it continues as I follow NASA to see what is coming next. How will Americans get into space next? What will be our next NASA funded, human-carrying space vehicle? This is all still getting worked out. Rockets and spacecraft are still being designed and funding is hovering over them like a big cloud to see who will be awarded some money.

I am so satisfied that I got to witness the last space shuttle launch. And to top it off, I got to watch it with my two boys, sister-in-law, two nieces and one nephew. It was a complete pleasure with a few mishaps thrown in. The launch and the mishaps will never be forgotten. Stories will be told to our kids forever. They will never forget this trip because we will keep retelling it to them. It was one crazy adventure to drive over 3400 miles in 7 days. We had 3 days in Florida and we made the most of them. We went to the beach in the rain on day 1. Day 2 was spent waiting for the launch for 5 1/2 hours, watching the launch for 1 minute and sitting in 6 hours of traffic to go 45 miles. Day 3 was enjoyed at Disney World's Magic Kingdom. All 3 days were quite a blast! The highlight was definitely the space shuttle launch. The low light is a lengthy story involving lots of poop and 5 kids and being stuck in traffic.

I set out to enjoy the launch with my eyes, not through my camera lens but I did get a few pictures. Here are my favorites. Our group photo has the vertical cloud formation from the rocket exhaust to our left.



Thursday, July 7, 2011

call me crazy...for space

I am pretty sure I am crazy. I convinced my sister-in-law, Chrystine, to drive to Florida with all 5 of our kids together in the hopes of seeing the last space shuttle launch. We took 2 days, 28 hours in the van to get to Orlando from Minneapolis. The drive went surprisingly well for our two six years old, my five year old, her three year old and her three month old. There was much less fighting than expected. More adult conversation than expected and more fast food eaten while driving than anyone wishes.

We got to Florida as a tropical wave was coming in. Sounds like it is bringing lots of rain. We decided to try to take today easy after all of the driving and give the kids lots of wiggle room today. We decided to go to the beach and check out the public shuttle viewing areas. The beach was extra messy because of the rain soaking everything with us. And everything we seem to do takes more time than expected. We are going to get up insanely early to get a viewing spot for the possible launch on Friday. It is looking pretty unlikely but we don't want to miss it. There are already lots of people camping out in prime viewing locations but we should still be able to find a good spot around 6am Friday. Stay tuned for more of our adventure.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

travel and school

So my boys returned from Grandma Vicki's house (and Grandpa Cal) sleep-deprived and probably overly sugared-up. But that is what is supposed to happen at grandma's house. I think they had a blast playing with 2 of there boy cousins and getting spoiled by the grandparents.

I was also glad to have them home. I got a lot done while they were away and the house stayed amazingly clean. We had a weekend with Bryan's brother, Eric, and his wife, Laura, and their two boys at our house. It is always fun having them with us. Then there were a few days of school and we were off again. This time to a Davidson family reunion in Sturgis, SD (near Rapid City). That is Bryan's paternal grandmother's family. They are a big family and they like to have fun together. We are staying at campground with most of the family. Lots going on and the boys found another 6 year old girl to follow around so they are in heaven.

After this trip we will be home for a few more days and then off again. That will probably be the theme of our summer: home a few days and travel some more. That is the way I like it. I enjoy that the boys still get some more school days in over the summer but the number of school days keeps shrinking as we plan more travel and activities.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

missing my boys

My boys, Jaden and Clay, are in Fargo this week enjoying Bryan's family there. They left with Bryan's parents on Sunday and will be returning with Bryan's brother, Eric, and his family on Friday. This would normally be a nice welcome break but I am missing them. I am trying to take advantage of my free time and get in some scrapbooking but it hasn't happened yet...maybe over the next 2 days.

I am missing my boys more than usual. My life revolves around them. I wake up to take them to school. I plan my daily activities around their school activities so I can help at the school whenever possible. I finish up my errands in time to pick them up from school. I plan activities for them after school. I make dinner for our family while taking care of them. In the evenings we sometimes plan family activities together or at least I am used to hearing their voices throughout the house in the evenings. Our house sure has been quiet without them around.

Bryan and I have enjoyed our time together, which is reminiscent of the first 6 years of marriage before kids. We have now had kids for 6 1/2 years so that life seems very familiar. The kid-free life is unfamiliar and not so easy to enjoy when I am around the house so much. I am going to get back to some hobby time now before there are two little ones interrupting my plans.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Bryan's Honduras story

Bryan wrote a nice letter with a great story about a patient that he treated in Honduras. It is a little lengthy but the story is worth it. Thank you to everyone for your prayers and donations that helped us with our time in Honduras! Here is the letter.

Dear Family and Friends,

It was another amazing trip to hospital Loma de Luz in Balfate, Honduras. This was my family’s third time going to help at the hospital on the northern coast of Honduras. This year we were able to take Raquel's parents, Oscar and Judy Vilhauer, with us as well. Thank you to all the friends, family and organizations that helped make this trip so successful. Pictures, stories and even a video tour that I made can be found on the websites above.

Let me tell you about our adventures! In preparation to go down to Loma de Luz we asked for friends and family to support us with items to take to the hospital and to pray for us while we were in Honduras. The items and money donated were greatly appreciated by the missionaries and staff of the hospital and will help in their work greatly. We also received many bags full of requested medical supplies and a ventilator machine from the Lutheran medical organization called Global Health Ministries. An organization named Crosslink International from Virginia also provided over $5000 in medications to take down to the hospital. We organized our trip through World Medical Mission, that supports us through logistics and prayer. All of these organizations are truly God inspired and make it so much easier to support medical missions around the world. Thank you for all your support.

Our family loaded up all of the donated supplies in 12 large suitcases to check at the airport, 5 large backpacks, and 6 carry-ons with our clothes for the two and a half weeks in Honduras. We got up at 3:30 AM on May 12th, 2011 to get to the airport and check-in our bags. We had to reorganize some of the bags to get under the 52 pound limit and off we went. We arrived in San Pedro Sula, Honduras that afternoon and Dr. Renee Kusler picked us up from the airport and took us on a little vacation to beautiful Roatan for a few nights. Then it was off to buy groceries and head to the hospital.

For the next two weeks we all helped out in many ways in the many ministries at Loma de Luz. Raquel helped classify and sort glasses at the eye glass clinic, unpacked and distributed the many medical supplies we brought, counted medications in the pharmacy, helped a missionary kid with PowerPoint, updated links on the new website www.crstone.org, and played with the many missionary kids and Honduran kids with the help of my sons, Jaden and Clay. Raquel's mom Judy helped sew some missionary banners, photo boards, pants, and 60 bandanas for the upcoming Missionary Kids Camp starting the week after we left. She also helped discuss plans for the upcoming pre-school building and was a great help with the cooking, cleaning and child care! Raquel's dad Oscar was very busy helping with many construction projects including installing 2 air conditioners, changing some windows, changing some window handles, installing a sink in the guard shack, fixing some gutters, expanding some doors, shaving down some doors, installing clocks, installing hooks, fixing toilets, installing a new shower head, fixing the light in our room at staff housing and many more projects.

As for me I saw patients in clinic, saw patients in the emergency room, admitted patients to the hospital, sewed up the lip of a 4 year old boy, sewed up a thumb of a girl helping to build the new chicken house on the farm, counseled and prayed with a patient who was dying from an incurable lung disease, admitted a patient with a heart attack and heart failure, admitted two patients with severe diabetic foot ulcers that will need amputations, admitted a 17 year old boy with a large inguinal abscess with over 10 milliliters of puss drained, and taught the nurses and doctors how to use the new ventilator that we brought down.

There was one patient that really made an impact on me, we will call her Maria. Maria was a 62 year old lady who came in requiring oxygen with a tank that had just run out and she was having significant trouble breathing. In Honduras it takes a very long time to get to the real story. She starts out by telling me her back hurts and she can't breathe. We get Maria on some oxygen and she is feeling better. I always start by asking the patient when they were last feeling well and then to tell me the story of what led to them being here. In the US I usually get a pretty accurate story with this question, but Maria just said she can't breathe and her whole body hurts. I ask her and her family more about her story and with every question I find out another piece of the story but never in order and never do I get more information than I ask. I ask how long this has been going on. She says 3 days and then clarifies it is more like 2 months. I ask if she has seen a doctor for this. She says she was referred here by a doctor in Jutiapa, one of the larger towns up the road. I ask if she knew what was wrong with her or had any records. She and her family said no. By this time I get the labs and an x-ray back that I ordered when she came in. Her x-ray shows severe bilateral interstitial lung disease with scarring of most of her lungs and her blood work looks fairly normal. I tell them she has scarring in her lungs which could be caused by many things. Her son, will call him Tomas, then tells me that a doctor in Tegucigalpa said the same thing. Tegucigalpa is the capital of Honduras with a large government run hospital. Now after I have spent about 40 minutes with the patient I finally find a link to an actual story. Over the next 40 minutes I eventually get the number for the physician in Tegucigalpa, talk to the physician on the phone, find out Maria was in the hospital in Tegucigalpa for 8 weeks in February and March, and find out she had TB about 2 years ago that was treated for 6 months with negative tests since then. I find out she had numerous CT scans, bronchoscopies (where they put a camera into the lungs) and bronchial biopsies (where they get tissue from the lungs). They did not find any bacteria, fungus, cancer or TB. Even though they didin't find any of these things they tried many treatments including antibiotics, antifungals, and high dose steroids for months with no improvement. She was eventually diagnosed with Pulmonary fibrosis and pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs) and sent home on oxygen and told there was nothing else they could do. The family heard about the medical mission hospital Loma de Luz and we were their last hope to find someone who could treat this disease. Unfortunately there is no effective treatment for Pulmonary Fibrosis anywhere in the world. I did however take the time to sit down with the family and explain the disease that was destroying her lungs and explain that no doctor could cure her disease, but I told them that God is the great healer and is in control which gave them some home and reassurance. We talked about Jesus, heaven, the dying process and salvation. She said she was a Christian and going to heaven when God calls her home. We prayed for God to heal her and I gave her some morphine pills to have at home because they couldn't afford oxygen and she was getting worse. I told them these could help make her comfortable so she didn't feel short of breath when the oxygen ran out. The patient and family expressed their gratitude for taking the time to explain things to them and pray with them and then we hugged and it was time to see the next patient. It is amazing how God uses the staff at Loma de Luz to bring people closer to Him, even when we can't fix their physical problems. I am so blessed to be part of this ministry and can't wait to help again next year!

Thank you to everyone that supported us,

Bryan, Raquel, Jaden and Clay Jarabek

Thursday, June 2, 2011

why we go

I enjoy going to Honduras and love my time there. It seems bittersweet to come back to our home in Minnesota. I like our life in the US too but it seems at this point that life in one country is not that much better than life in the other country, just very different. There are a few reasons why we have chosen to live in the US instead of Honduras or another country. Those include:
1.) We want to raise our kids in the US because it is safer, easier and they will get a better education not done by me as their teacher.
2.) We can live our lives on mission right where we are; we don't have to go to another country to do that.
3.) Raising our kids with extended family in their lives is important to us.
4.) There are more possibilities to use my education in a work setting in the US than in Honduras.

Every time we leave the country for any reason, I ask myself "Why am I going?". Sometimes it is just to travel and explore new areas, see how other people live and see the beautiful sights around the world. When we go on a mission trip, there are different reasons for going. I have come up with four reasons that Bryan and I have decided to take our family to Honduras every year. They are:
1.) We go to fulfill the great commission from the Bible: to share Jesus' story with others and help others become disciples of Jesus. (sometimes this happens in the smallest of ways)
2.) We go to love others just as Jesus commanded: "Love your neighbor as yourself." We serve and help and do whatever we can.
3.) We go to be apart of something bigger than ourselves. We get to share in all of the work that is going on for Jesus at Loma de Luz. It is inspiring to hear about all of the missionaries' plans and what they are up to. They are all doing amazing things! We get to hear about it and participate in their work in small ways.
4.) We like adventure. Life in Honduras is adventurous and we crave that sometimes.

In addition to that, it is fun to take people we know with us so they can experience what we have in Honduras. When you find something great, you can't help but share it. We are already looking forward to our next trip to Honduras.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

worthwhile trip

My parents and I have continued working on our projects at Loma de Luz. We are wrapping up lots of things tomorrow (Friday). I have some work in the eye clinic to finish up. My mom has some sewing projects to complete. And my dad has an air conditioner to finish installing. Bryan has clinic work again and probably something to finish up there too. It has been so great to have my parents with us. I have loved it! And I am not anxious to get away from them. I love them even more. It has been so great to serve others alongside them and grow in our faith and compassion together.

We continue to have fun and sweat a lot. The heat and humidity are extreme but in my memory, it is not worse than the other times we have been here. It might really be hotter and more humid even though it doesn't feel like it. This time I have rashes all over, most likely from the heat and extra sores on my feet that are not healing. Both of the boys have rashes/infections and are taking antibiotics too. I think we have had fewer issues with diarrhea so I will take the rashes over that.

We had a great time at Missionary Fellowship tonight where all of the missionaries and some Hondurans gather together to eat, sing and pray. I always enjoy this. There were more people there tonight than I have ever seen. It was a quite a party!

It is so exciting to be apart of everything going on here! God is alive here and we got to hear about so much of what He is doing through people's lives. I always love hearing about what ministries and outreaches people are involved in here. It is inspiring and I love sharing in the vision that people have for the future here. I can't wait to hear more about training health workers, helping boys from the dump, future community sewing classes, new missionaries arriving, expanding the farm, rescuing kids from terrible situations, healing physical wounds and seeing lives changed because of an encounter with Jesus. I am so thankful I get to experience some of this during our time here. I look forward to hearing more when we return again hopefully next year!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

city dump

Today we got to go help serve food to hungry kids that live near the city dump in La Ceiba. This is one of the poorest areas around. The kids are malnourished and have poor to very little parenting. These kids need a lot of help. They need medical care for their wounds. They need food for their hungry stomachs. And they need to hear about the saving and redeeming gospel of Jesus Christ. We got to help with all of this. The sad and hard lives of these kids break your hearts. I want to change their world and am trying to help in the smallest of ways.

A bowl of pasta, some bread and some milk for each kid.
A Bible story.
Some bandaids, anti-biotic ointment and a bar of soap.
Some pictures and hugs.

Hopefully these kids feel cared for and loved. They are by Lisa and her rotating crew. God loves them so much more than we could ever love them.

Monday, May 23, 2011

gracious missionaries

There are so many loving, kind-hearted, gracious missionaries here. My family and I have been so blessed by them. We have had several thought-provoking conversations. And they have made us several meals that we have gotten to share with them. This is one of my favorite things about traveling to Loma de Luz. We get to share our lives with people here and we get to experience their lives too. These missionaries give so much of themselves to others and give even more by inviting us into their lives. I am so grateful for their time, conversation, food and all of the effort they go to in order for us to be here to serve others. We hope that we are helping people here but they also do so much for us. It is such a blessing to us.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

feeling helpful

My mom and I have gotten several projects now. We have both helped in the eye clinic. I have more work I can do there for a couple days next week. I got a couple projects from Dave, the IT missionary, to help him with the website. I also have some forms to create and some medicines to organize. That should keep me busy next week. It is a good kind of busy. Just the kind you want to be when you are trying to help others.

My mom has several sewing projects. I think she is enjoying them. Some of her work is mending and hemming missionary clothing. She is sewing some banners for teaching Hondurans to be missionaries to other parts of the world, particularly the Middle East. She also is making a couple of fabric covered boards to display pictures for two missionary kids here.

My dad has done a ton of work with construction and repairs to missionary houses. He finished some shelving in the eye clinic. He has repaired doors, windows, outlets, toilet paper holders and anything else he finds broken. He has more projects lined up for next week too.

Bryan has been in clinic the past 5 days. He has seen quite a few patients and admitted at least 3 people to the hospital. He took call overnight on Thursday and will again all day and night on Sunday. He has to go into the hospital any time someone comes in with an emergency. I have only heard about a few of his patients. One lady had bad COPD (lung damage similar to smoking) because of cooking over an open fire for many years. Another man had the worst infection on his shin I have ever seen.

We are having a great time here helping out. It is great to know we still have another week here.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

identity issues

Being in Honduras for the third time is feeling more and more comfortable. It is definitely easier to survive here than our first trip. I know where stuff is. I know how I can get around. I know what needs to get done most days. Life is manageable. So why do I feel like I have identity issues?

I have filled my time, my mom's time and the boys' time with things. Good things. Things that keep us from sitting around wondering what to do and if it was worth it to come here. We have been to the beach. Done some laundry. Walked over to the hospital and toured around a little. Ordered fresh tortillas. Made dinner meals of spaghetti, tacos and enchiladas. In the mean time, my mom and I were setting up projects to do. I forget that it always takes a little time to do this. So I have been questioning why am I here and how can I be helpful. Am I ok with being here for Bryan to help out and me to just live life and take care of the boys? I have a hard time only having identity in my spouse and kids. It is really hard for me. I don't do well when I am not sure what I am good at doing.

So today I started feeling helpful. Mom and I both have a few projects to do and it feels good. She made a cake for a birthday girl. She has a few sewing projects with more coming in. We got to work in the eye clinic today with the boys helping too. I have more work in the eye clinic to do. I am also helping out the IT missionary. Being helpful feels good and it is rewarding. Bring on the projects.

Monday, May 16, 2011

back at Loma de Luz

I am so happy to be back at Hospital Loma de Luz in Balfate, Honduras. This is our third time here and it feels even more comfortable this time. Bryan and I and my parents are excited to get started helping people Monday morning. Lots of plans in the works but first on the agenda is unloading all of the supplies and gifts we brought with us.

Thanks again to everyone who added to the donation pile! Everyone here appreciates all of it.

We have all of our groceries bought and some meals planned. Bryan is on the schedule to see patients tomorrow.

It was fun hearing about what the boys remember of this place. They brought up right away where they remember seeing monkeys in the trees and pointed out the spot. Clay keeps saying, "I remember this place."

The boys are loving hammocks everywhere we go. They found the one in staff housing (our home for the next two weeks) and one of them said, "Now I remember where this is."

So great to share this experience with the boys. I am surprised already at how much they remember from February 2010. I hope the memories keep building and the idea of helping others keeps growing in them.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Roatan

If you ever have the chance to visit Roatan, Honduras, do it! It is paradise here. Blue skys, sandy beaches, clear water, coconut trees galore and mango trees too. Great snorkeling and scuba diving. Some of the best in the world.

We have had a wonderful time here for the last day and a half. We will be leaving Sunday afternoon to head back to the mainland. All 7 of us (Bryan, Raquel, Jaden, Clay, mom Judy, dad Oscar and Dr. Renee) have spent a lot of time in the water. We used up a lot of sunscreen and bug spray and it paid off. We have consumed a lot of food but the fresh orange juice and lemonade have been my favorite. There was also a lot of ice cream consumed.

This is a nice break before heading in to work/volunteer at Hospital Loma de Luz. My family is excited to get out there and help.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

hard lives

I often have the question of why does it seem like some people have such hard lives and why does mine seem so blessed. I know that God is with me but He is there to be with everyone. I know that my parents have given me a good life and others have not been so fortunate. But today it just seems like there is so much more that I can't see about why my life is the way it is and why others have been given what they have.

When I heard of someone's sad and tragic story today, I just wish it could have been different for them. I pray that they have hope or find hope in Jesus. I don't want them to find a bunch of rules to live by but instead to find true freedom and great love in this life. I pray that they can see some of heaven here on Earth.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

space shuttle launch attempt


I had a great trip with Jaden last week. We traveled to Florida in the hopes of watching the space shuttle Endeavor launch for the last time. The shuttle didn't end up launching but we still enjoyed our time together on vacation.

Jaden's favorite part of the trip was playing with other kids. We met my childhood friend, Sara, at a park with her 4 kids and Jaden played till his hair was soaked. We also enjoyed mini golfing twice and the Orlando Science Center. It was fun comparing it to the Minnesota Science Museum; lots of similarities.

My favorite part was being back at Kennedy Space Center. It brought lots of memories when I worked there for the summer of 1998. It was great being at the visitors center even though we only had about an hour to tour around. It was pretty cool getting to see the space shuttle again but I still haven't seen one launch. The goal remains on my life list. Maybe I will get to see the last one in June.

The worst part of the day was being on a bus and standing in line for 9 hours. Jaden was quite a trooper and did great. His first reaction after we found out the launch was scrubbed was that he wanted to call his school to tell them because they were planning to watch the launch. When we decided to return home without waiting for the launch, Jaden was quite sad. He was a little sad that he wouldn't get to see the launch but more sad that I wouldn't get to see it. That broke my heart. I love to see his compassionate heart growing.

We were six miles away from the shuttle so the pictures are pretty fuzzy but this was our view. Six miles is the closest the public is able to get to the launch.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Florida vacation



Bryan and I had a wonderful week away together, without kids. It was amazingly great and very refreshing. We had originally planned to go the space shuttle launch together that was originally scheduled for April 19th but now has been moved to April 29th. Because we missed out on the launch together, we decided to take advantage of our planned trip anyway. Bryan had already arranged to get the time off work and we had the grandparents taking care of our kids. We also knew that Bryan couldn't get off work to go to the launch on the 29th. So, we got a wonderful, sunny, warm vacation in Florida.

We spent 2 days in Orlando with one day at Universal Studios. We had a blast! Bryan ended up helping a guy that had a heart attack on a rollar coaster and we got to enjoy some nice perks at the park because of his kind actions. We had a great time going on rides and enjoying the movie shows/rides. We did the two parks in one day thanks to the express passes we got.

Then we were on to the gulf coast of Florida. We stayed two nights on Siesta Key. It was beautiful. We had read that there are amazing white sand beaches on Siesta Key and it is true. We enjoyed the beach. Used lots of sunscreen and got a little red. We strolled on the beach, looked for shells and ate long, leisure meals. We read a lot too. It was a very relaxing time.

We came home to an empty house and then my parents brought back the boys on Friday before Easter. We missed the boys and it is great to be back with them. I also can't wait for the next time I get to be away with Bryan! No plans for that now but I am always looking forward to more time with Bryan.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Honduras donations


We are excited to be going to Honduras again in May 2011. This will be our third trip to Balfate, Honduras to help at Loma de Luz (http://crstone.org). We will be gone from May 12th to May 29th. For this trip Raquel’s parents, Oscar and Judy Vilhauer, will be joining our family of four in Honduras.

Bryan will work in the medical clinic and hospital again. Raquel and her mom will take turns with our boys and making meals. We will also help with the eye clinic, local schools, area churches, the children’s foster care house and a feeding program to kids living at the dump. Raquel’s dad is an all-around handyman and will put his efforts into construction, farming, plumbing, electrical and auto-mechanical projects. God has given each of us talents and we are excited to use them to help others in Honduras.

There are many requested items related to the ongoing projects at Loma de Luz. We are hoping to fill our suitcases with those items. We are including a summarized list of items at the end of this message that you can buy and donate to us (by mail or in person). You can also donate money to World Medical Mission for us to purchase supplies (we will use 100% of the money donated).

We would also love your prayers for protection and for the difficult lives of those living in Honduras.

Your financial donations are tax deductible and may be done online (enter Jarabek in the box) or sent to:
World Medical Mission
Attn: Dayna Wright
PO Box 3000
Boone NC 28607
On the memo line, please write “003493 Jarabek”

Thank you for partnering with us in prayer and donations to help the people of Honduras. “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21

Bryan, Raquel, Jaden (6) and Clay (4) Jarabek
7528 W 111th St
Bloomington MN 55438
701-367-0372 (Raquel)
952-412-0563 (Bryan)
astromom@gmail.com (Raquel)
doctorj.md@gmail.com (Bryan)

Requested Donations
-used glasses (5 years or newer) of any prescription with no scratches
-good to new glasses cases with no scratches
-reading glasses 2.00 and higher (5 years or newer)
-5 battery operated wall clocks
-foam hand sanitizer
-5 new stand up fans/pole fans
-15 new medium firm bed pillows
-gooseneck lamps
-scissors, all types
-newborn caps/hats
-2 basketball nets
-soccer balls
-ball air pumps and needles
-sensory toys (can be used in good condition)
-wooden train set
-animal hand puppets
-Crayola crayons jumbo and regular size
-pots with lids (all sizes; good quality that don’t rust easily)
-kitchen towels
-silverware
-small knives
-plastic pitchers, containers (Tupperware, Rubbermaid, etc.)
-cooking utensils
-10 metal two-pronged wall hooks
-2 toilet paper holders for walls
-3 battery backup alarm clocks
-thin blankets (fleece is fine but no thicker) for twin beds
-Backpacks with standard pencils, pens, notebooks for the schools
-American candy for missionary kids camp: Bubaloo gum, Rice Krispie treats, Air Heads, Blow Pops, Tootsie Rolls, Fruit Roll Ups, Fruit Leather, Nerds, Root Beer Barrels, Jolly Ranchers, M&Ms
-bandaids
-Q-tips and cotton balls
-1 liter commercial quality spray bottles
-hot water bottles
-isopropyl rubbing alcohol
-neomycin or antibiotic ointment (over-the-counter)
-Zinc oxide ointment (Balmex-like)
-Cetaphil lotion and cream, Lubriderm, or similar
-Over the counter cold meds in liquid and tablets
Prefer: 1. combo of antihistamine/decongestant
2. combo of antihistamine/decongestant/dextromethorphan
3. dextromethorphan or guafenisin (not a combo of both)
-heavy-duty stapler (commercial quality) and staples
-printer ink cartridges HP 21 and 22
-acetaminophen or ibuprofen

LARGER DONATIONS
-sewing machine for the missionary community
-2 new dorm size fridges (2’x2’ fits in luggage to take with us)
-new or like new carry on luggage
-digital camera for wound care documentation
-6 ton long neck floor jack
-6 VSR 3/8” corded drills of good name brand
-Airless paint sprayer
-6 heavy duty 10 guage extension cords
-microwave
-used or new laptops for clinic rooms
-20 used laptops for the villages
-printers (color with cartridges or laser printer with cartridge)
-HAM radios (model FT1900R or model FT25QR)
-large coolers (about 54 quart size)
-French/Spanish (side by side) Bibles to train Honduran missionaries
-French Rosetta Stone DVDs or Standard Deviants DVD

Note: There is a longer medical supply list (medial and large items) available upon request. Email astromom@gmail.com to request the list.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

my funny Jaden

Last week we took a trip to Madison, WI. Bryan had to go to a conference there and we tagged along for a little fun. It was a last minute decision but we decided to take advantage of me not working and the kids not technically in school and just go.

On the drive there, the boys were asking lots of questions. Where are we going? What are we going to do? Where are we now? How long till we get there? Are we still in Minnesota? Are we still in the United States? and the best of all...
Do they speak English there? asked by Jaden.
I love that my boys realize that not everyone speaks English. Love this and love his questioning and honesty!

We had the boys play in the backseat for awhile and we ate dinner in the car. Then it came to be movie time. We have some PBS TV shows recorded on Bryan's laptop for the boys to watch. Instead of starting the long conversation and enduring the fighting decision with the boys about which show to watch, I just picked one. I chose a Curious George episode because I know both boys usually enjoy George. I setup the laptop and got them ready.
Then Jaden said, "Mom, why do you like Curious George so much? Because he is not mean and there are no guns?"
To which I replied emphatically, "Yes!"
My Jaden knows me well...sometimes too well.

I think my kids are gifted and smart and I love to see their learning progress. Jaden is still practicing addition and subtraction and is already working on multiplication. The boy loves math! I love it too. Yesterday was a big day for him because he completed the thousand chain of beads at school. Yep, that's right, he lined up 1000 beads with number labels along the way. I love that he can better understand what 1000 is now. He was so proud of his work. We even took some pictures.



Friday, April 1, 2011

turning the grateful corner

I just read a book about raising grateful kids and now I am learning to be more grateful. I found out that there was another layoff at ATK March 31st. I knew this was coming again for them. This is the third one in about a year. So sad. I feel for the additional 12 people that got laid off. People need their jobs. I wish there was some other way for companies to do this. I hurt a little tonight for a friend of mine that got laid off.

I am grateful it wasn't me this time. I am grateful that I feel like I am turning a corner in my career journey. I have found happiness in volunteering at the Science Museum of Minnesota and the Minneapolis Market. I can actually appreciate that I am not working right now. I have time to do some other things I enjoy. I have had plenty of time to take care of my sick kids. My to do list has never been shorter. I have had time to get prepared for foster care and adoption. I have had time to organize a family reunion and my parents anniversary party.

I feel like not working is now a choice. I have not had any job offers but there are engineering jobs out there if I really wanted them. The jobs are not worth my time and I like that I have time for other things I want to do. I have not been offered my dream job yet so I will keep pursuing that but for now...I have chosen to not work in an office. That feels good to write that. I know I will get back to my career field eventually but I can not predict when that will be.

Friday, March 25, 2011

nephew Oliver

I am so happy to welcome another nephew into the world. I got to have fun taking care of 4 kids by myself tonight while my brother and his wife were taking care of a newborn. Thankfully I will have Bryan back to help in the morning.

We got to meet my newest nephew, Oliver, when he was just a few hours old. So wonderful to hold such a sweet little baby! I did hear him screaming over the phone but in person, he couldn't have been more perfect. I think he actually enjoyed getting jostled by the kids and listening to all of the noise they make. It must have soothed him. Kirk and Chrystine, just let me know if you want me to bring my boys over to make some more noise and put your baby to sleep.



Monday, March 21, 2011

science fair memories

Sunday night I went to bed with excitement in my head. I was excited to do something where I used my brain. I was excited to relive part of my past. I was excited to judge science fair projects.

I had such a blast today. I was in a bit of a rush getting through it all to get done and home before Bryan had to leave for work at 3:30. He was at home with the boys today after their fevers yesterday. Even in rushing, I loved it. I loved talking with 7th and 8th grade kids about science experiments that they had performed. I hope all of them fall in love with science even if they don't win anything. I hope they all do it again and come back next year.

I judged 12 physics and astronomy projects by junior high kids at the Minnesota State Science Fair. All of the kids had already been selected from regional science fairs to compete at the state competition. So these kids, for the most part, knew what they were doing and talking about. Of the 12 kids I talked with, 11 of them did a great job. One kid did not want to be there. He had been required to do a project at regionals. He read notecards to me and never wants to do this again. That is too bad but he seemed to know that he was good at working with his hands so hopefully that is his take-away from this experiment. I don't know who will win but the awards will be given Tuesday morning.

After I got home, I told the boys all about it. It was hard for them to understand what a science fair is. They saw a 30 second clip on the news this morning before I left so they knew where I was going and what the place looked like. I dug around in our storage bins and found pictures of me at science fairs in 10th, 11th and 12th grades. (Jaden cared much more about the awards than the pictures. J-"Can I have your ribbon?"... Me-"No, you have to earn awards like that.") Those were some important events in my life. That helped me realize I was good at science and math and good at giving a presentation. I won lots of awards but never made it to the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), which is the ultimate award to compete internationally. Science fair gave me confidence but also made me realize that I was not the best. I have been frequently reminded that I am not the best and it keeps me humble.

Ahhh, the science fair memories...they live on.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

potential changes

We have officially completed our classwork for the Foster Care Adoption Option program through Hennepin County. We have already filled out a bunch of paperwork. There are a few more forms to go. We need to get our reference letters in and need to get our home study scheduled. The home study is the next big step in order to approve our family for another kid in our home. We have narrowed our focus to a little girl, 1 to 4 1/2 years old, of any race.

We have been preparing mentally for this for awhile now but now the physical preparations will need to begin. We do not have a car seat or a crib for a one year old (let us know if you have one we could borrow if needed). My preference is still for a 2 or 3 year old and then we have a toddler bed and a car seat. And we will need to convert our toy room into a bedroom. The physical preparations will not take much time but will need to happen eventually. Right now this change still seems a ways off but it could happen within a few months. For now I am putting this off.

We continue to think about this future potential girl that will be in our house. We are reading adoption materials and books and are involved in some support groups. This will keep it all in the front of our minds.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

foster care and adoption

Bryan and I have spent over 30 hours learning about adoption and foster care. We have 6.5 more hours to go before we are allowed to begin our home study where we are asked every personal question imaginable.

We started out wanting to adopt and examined our options: international, domestic infant or waiting children. We decided to go with waiting children because we don't want an infant and don't want to invest a bunch of money into something that will have a big wait. I think the money thing changes you mentally and makes people devastated in the waiting and longing for something they don't have...so much so that it becomes unhealthy sometimes. So we avoided the costly route and went with the county waiting children. Then we found out that most waiting children are 10 years and older. We knew we wanted a child younger than our youngest (Clay is 4 1/2). We knew we also wanted only one girl because we have two boys and it would be hard to avoid the infant stage with two kids younger than Clay. And Bryan would say we are not ready for 2 more kids.

So that led us to the Foster Care Adoption Option where you get foster kids (some available younger than 10) in the hopes that you can adopt that kid(s). We have been through the adoption classes and are now finishing with a few foster care classes. Last night was our first foster care class and we are now considering Foster Care only. We love the idea of helping out a child and parent(s) to restore the relationship and heal some of the wrong stuff that has happened. At the same time, if that didn't work out, we would be happy to adopt. We are also considering 1-2 girls now, still younger than Clay.

This process continues to develop. We are not set on the fact that we need to adopt a child in order to feel fulfilled. We just know that we are supposed to pursue this process and see what comes of it. We have love, compassion, discipline, empathy and loyalty to share. We know that we will most likely not get a white child or one that looks like us (93% of the kids are of color) and that is exciting and challenging.

We love talking to our kids about all of the potential that lies ahead of us. I love their acceptance and questions. This has led to all sorts of challenging conversations. I love it!

This process of growing our family is a process...no conclusion or set ending. We could have another child in our home in 3 months or it may take a year. We are trying to be ready for anything coming our way.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

want for blogging

I want to keep blogging. It is healthy for me to process life. There are many things in my life that are blog-worthy every day but I don't always make time to retell the events.

I do not write for others to read, although I know there are a few people reading. I do like keeping up with people and I like exposing all of my insides to others. I have never been a person to hide things inside. If you know me for any length of time, you probably know that I don't shy away from any topic and will always answer personal questions. I enjoy conversation and asking questions of myself and others.

I am in want of my own blogging. I want the healing and completeness it brings to my life.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

redirecting

So I was all set to write a post about the incredible dinner I made with our meal group ladies at our house last night. We had separate girls and boys nights to hangout and chat. The girls decided to cook a gourmet meal together and I had the perfect menu all picked out thanks to Rachael Ray. We enjoyed passion fruit fizz sour drinks, apples and pears with gruyere cheese, garlic and herb cheese spread and wheat crackers, carpaccio-wrapped asparagus, bay scallop risotto, chocolate dipped strawberries and doughnut holes with almond caramel sauce. We even took pictures of all the food. It was super yummy and looked delicious too. But this post is about the shift from my easy, indulgent-filled life to helping someone with a very hard life.

Today I volunteered at the Science Museum and meant to hangout there for awhile working on my resume but I forgot my laptop in the rush to get the boys to school. Anyway I ended up coming back home after an exhausting 4 hours at the museum and crashed on the loveseat. I had a bad headache and leg cramps. I did not end up working on my resume and needed to get up and get ready for more volunteering at the Minneapolis Market. I didn't really want to go there but I always enjoy it. Bryan encouraged me to go if I could. I am glad I went.

The market is this amazing food pantry where anyone (mostly low income people because of the neighborhood) can come to shop for free food with dignity. The customers have to become a member that is sponsored by someone paying for their food. It is honestly the only place that I get to go and have conversations with people that are poor in America. I go there to do a job but in the process get to have amazing conversations with people that God loves.

Tonight I met a lady that had hoped to join the market and get some free food but we do not have any openings right now. Her body displayed her disappointment and I decided to talk with her more. I discovered that she is out of work and volunteering in the hopes of getting a job at 3 different places. She is a single mom with a car but her car needs a new battery. Her son was carrying around a bag with an electrical car battery charger to use in order to start their car. Wow! That is crazy! I didn't know you could actually live life that way. My heart broke. I couldn't offer this lady free food from the market. I could go and buy her groceries but it seemed she really needed a battery but she didn't know how to put it in either. Thankfully her friend that she drove to the market had a membership and she got a few things from her. As she left, I got her contact info and said I was going to try to get her a new battery.

I immediately called Bryan. After telling him the story, he was on board. I left the market early. Bryan loaded up the boys and met me at Kmart nearby. We got a battery and Bryan installed it. We did what we could to show this lady the love of Jesus. She is my sister in Christ. She gave me a big hug before we left and said God bless you. I returned with an emphatic, "May God bless you!" I still feel her big bear hug. She will remain in my heart and mind for days to come.

God, keep my heart soft to love others and keep my eyes and ears open for when you want me to be your hands and feet.

Monday, February 14, 2011

in the blaaaaahhhh

I don't know how to describe my life when people ask. I spend a lot of time at home since being laid off. (I know I am not supposed to say I was laid off...I mean ATK reduced their workforce and I was part of the 15% that was reduced, because I worked part-time.) I spend my time mostly by myself with some time around the kids. I take my kids to school and pick them up. I do exercise DVDs. I read books. I read the Bible. I make lists and cross things off my list. I do endless internet research. I look for jobs and apply for a few here and there. I go grocery shopping. I do laundry. I do the dishes. I clean and pick things up around the house. I put laundry away and I clean out the dishwasher. I listen to podcasts. I work on my resume--it is never perfect.

I spend most of my time in the house. That has been the most difficult part for me. I love being around people. I love conversation. The conversation can be about anything. It can be me listening to two friends talk. I just want to be around life and people living it. I know I am living my life but it doesn't seem that much is happening. That is probably because my life is about waiting right now. Maybe it should be about living but some days there is this haze that is blocking the joy...like today.

I know I have things to be joyful about. My husband. Our date tonight. The kids bring me joy. The boys got little presents for Valentine's Day. We tied ribbon to each boy's present and hid them and took the ribbon around the house and then finally tied it to their doorknob of their bedroom. When the got up this morning and followed the ribbon to their present, smiles abounded. It was contagious. Although Jaden said he would have rather had a different gift (we are working on gratefulness). But soon after he was asking to have a present hidden for every holiday and then went through all of the holidays throughout the year. My boys love gifts. And that brings me joy to see them happy.

There are other things in life that are tough and have potential for joy. We are going through a lot of adoption/foster care classes right now and that has huge potential for joy someday. I am looking for jobs and talking with new people all the time about job potential. That could also lead to more joy. Maybe it is just the long winter and spring has potential to bring more joy.