Saturday, December 31, 2011

Many Happy Returns

It was Tuesday night and I was finally getting my thoughts in order and figured out that, yes, we would have a birthday party for Jade! The only thing holding me back was what kind of party? Do I give a party that is more American or more traditional like we did growing up or do I go out on a limb and give a party like what I have seen here in Paraguay? We had been to four birthday party's for all different ages and I had a pretty good idea of what I needed to do. However at the risk of totally messing this birthday party up by just going off of what I had seen, we called a friend who came over and walked me through step by step what I should do. Everything from how to invite people, where to get cake and food, what time a party should start and things to do at a party. She came early to help me get set up, showing me how to make the balloons and hang the ribbon on them. Then helped me set the table correctly, I couldn't have done it with her help! So, here is Jades 2nd Birthday party Paraguayan style!
The fished product, drink table (cool-aid and soda), cake, candy's,  sopa paraguaya, homemade empanadas (Jon made them) and little ham and cheese sandwiches. 
A very excited birthday girl! 
The party started when everyone got there, first we ate all the food and the kids played for little bit more. 
Then it was time for the pinata, I had filled it with candy, toy rings and little animals. After much talking about which language we would count to three in, we landed on Guarani, then Jon broke the balloon. Here pinatas are not hit with sticks while children are blindfolded (besides how is that a good kids game, blindfold the kid,  give them a big stick, spin them around and let them go...) 
The kids ate some candy and played a little more. Then it was time to sing Happy Birthday! We all gathered around and sang in English first then in Spanish.  
Jade wasn't too keen on blowing out the candles, so the other kids helped. 
Then it was cake time!!! Everyone said it was the best cake they had ever had! Cakes are usually made by a family member or a friend. You can buy them in stores but unless you made them for a living you don't make birthday cakes (people often make orange cake but thats not for a birthday). I was kinda sad when I learned this, I always make my kids cakes and I love to do it. However I am so glad I didn't have to make it cause in the heat it would have melted everywhere!! I asked what they do to not make it melt but its a secret. Anyway, I was at a loss as to where to get the cake but my friend told me her Aunt makes cakes and that it would be their gift to us if they could bring the cake and the little sandwiches. I said yes!
Here is Jades Princess cake with all the candy all around. You sing Happy Birthday, then pass out the candy to the kids and then you cut the cake. After eating cake the kids just played until it was time for them to go. As they were leaving I gave the mom the goodie bags with bubbles and lots of candy!! I think the kids had fun, I know Jamen and Jade did. I really enjoyed myself, it wasn't stressful and I learned so much! I couldn't have done it without the help from our sweet loving friends! Thank you Cheli and Graciela!

Monday, December 26, 2011

First Christmas

Life, since my last post, continues with lots of learning and discovering. My language continues to improve but I still struggle to complete sentences and thoughts with limited vocabulary. The kids are understanding so much more and will respond when spoken to in Spanish. Jade is speaking than Jamen which has actually spurred him on in speaking (yay for peer pressure!). So, with me putting in 40 hours a week in study time and Jon taking over all other duties life as we know it has turned upside down, or so it feels at times. But its working for us and I'm so glad, I long to be able to speak without sounding like I'm two (even the two year old speak better than I do). That being said when the yearly field conference came around I was ready for a break. For 4.5 days I didn't have to struggle to speak, the kids got our undivided attention and we didn't have to cook or clean! It was such a much needed "vacation". Below is the view of the sunset one night. It was a very refreshing time for us and a great way to get to know our fellow missionaries here in Paraguay. 
After conference we jumped right back into life. The next day was a wedding for a friend. She had actually been helping me with language for about 5 weeks and we were so thrilled to be invited to her wedding! We all got dressed up (some how we managed to not a picture of the four of us) and had a great time enjoying something new. 
That Sunday we found out that Jamen and Jade were to be angels in the Christmas play. They were very cute all dressed up and I was excited to see them in the play. Jade did very well, she called herself an angel princess. 
Jade is being held and Jamen is sitting on the steps
We had a busy and hot week leading up to Christmas. It was in the upper 100s for several days and only getting down to the 80s at night. There was no getting away from the heat. Finally in an act of desperation Jon  took a look at our "broken" AC. He discovered in ten min that the wires were not connected to the on/off switch. He quickly fixed that problem and the AC works great! We only run it at night as we are unsure of what our electric bill will look like and there is no way it will cool our whole house. Still I am so thankful for a cool nights rest. 
Here we are Christmas morning, which came in nice and cool, we couldn't have asked for better day! The night before we were up all night with friends celebrating Christmas with them. The tradition here is to cook all  day and evening, eat at 10:30pm, let the kids play with fireworks all night and then at midnight we all toast and then wish each other a Merry Christmas, along with tons of fireworks going off. There were lots of other cultural details involved but that's it in a nut shell. It was so great to experience and see everything first hand! So, we didn't get the kids to bed until 1:30am and we didn't get sleep until after 2am. This actually made for a very nice lazy Christmas morning. We slept until 11am!
The kids got to open one gift before breakfast. Jamen laid all his stocking stuff out and Jade just held her gift, not really opening it. They were so cute!
Jade loved breakfast, cheesy ham and eggs, homemade hot cocoa and cinnamon rolls! I don't think Jamen was very awake in the picture.
I found little M&Ms which was a hit.
Jamen loved his legos and Cars 2.
Jade couldn't have been more excited about her sunglasses.
She didn't hardly take them off the rest of the day. She also got flip flops and Mr. Potato Head.
Jamen also got three new cars which in-case any of you doubt his love for cars or how much he plays with them, I thought this picture below shows how much he plays with them after two years! This is a normal thing, the cars slowly making their way from one room to the next.
We had a great Christmas and are so thankful for how the Lord provided for us during this holiday. I was thinking how the Lord didn't have to give us extra money to buy the kids the few things we knew they would like but he did and I'm so thankful. We hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and enjoyed the time with those you love!

I should note that the heat does crazy things to food. I made fudge but it didn't out, it was more like hot fudge for ice-cream. Then I made peanut brittle, but that didn't get brittle, not sure why. Then to top it off I made play-dough for the kids and even got Jamen involved to make some for his sister. Only to discover that after the dough cools, it looks nice but the second you touch it gets everywhere! It melts in the heat and it was hard to explain to Jamen why we had to throw it out. The last thing that happened was I made meat balls and left them on the counter to cool off, when I came back they were covered with little tiny sugar ants! Don't worry, we ate them, covered them with sauce and cheese and warmed them back up, yum! You'd never know if I hadn't told you:-) Lets just say next year I will do things differently and not make play-dough. I was a little sad that my holiday planning was not turning out, especially since it was so hot in the kitchen but in the end I was fine and we had a great day!