Archives for March 2011

Wedding in Chile: Go out with joy

Part One

Friday evening we gathered in front of the hotel to get cabs to the restaurant. With 9 of us, we figured we’d only need two. But when five of us tried to cram into the first cab, the driver shook his head disapprovingly and pointed to a sign on the front windshield stating that no more than 4 passengers ride in a cab. OK, 3 cabs then.

Erika had bought us two pay-as-you-go telephones so that we could communicate. So into the first cab went one phone and 3 people. Same for the second cab. John and I went alone in the last cab, but I figured that since I had the address written out, it would be OK.

The cab driver squinted at my paper to read the address to the restaurant, (Como Agua Para Chocolate) nodded his understanding and zoomed off. We headed in the general direction that I’d expected from my map-studying, so I settled back for the ride.  He stopped on a poorly-lit block and pointed to an alley blockaded by a tall metal-rail gate.  Um?

He repeated the house number and gestured as if to say, ‘this is it’.  We were dubious and not inclined to get out and let him leave us there.  He gestured for me to hand him the paper and turned on the dome light to read it again. ‘Oh!’ he said, and repeated the number with a different street name.  Apparently he’d driven us to a street with a similar name, not the right name.  He punched a button to start the cab-fare from zero again, zipped off, and soon had us to our destination, where the rest of the party was waiting for us to arrive.

We were exceedingly glad to see everyone, and were soon ushered to a long table in a huge rustic-looking room: blue plaster walls and rustic wood beams and rough shutters set alongside old windows.  We’d arrived a little after 8 pm, and the restaurant was fairly quiet then.  (People in Chile typically eat dinner quite late, and it is not at all uncommon for them to just be leaving restaurants around midnight.)

By the time we’d been there an hour or so, business had picked up and by 10PM when we left, the huge place was full of noisy diners. Food was gorgeously presented, and pictures were necessary as each new dish came out.

To the right is filet mignon with bacon and sweet peppers.  It was garnished with a chard leaf attached with an uncooked spaghetti noodle.   To the left is a huge platter of shrimp fajitas shared by a couple of the ladies.  All the dishes were beautifully presented, and most were extremely generous portion-wise.  Several of us came home with leftovers in boxes– the kitchens in our hotel rooms made taking home extras an easy choice.

Back at our hotel we were pleased to discover that the living room couch folded down into a bed and there was extra bedding in the closet– convenient since Erika was staying in our apartment that night.  It was her last night with us….I felt a little nostalgic thinking of all the years Erika has spent with us.  But her joy and anticipation over the next day made it hard for me to feel too unhappy.  She was ready for this step in her life.

Now all we needed was for the groom to arrive.  Tomorrow.

Go to Part Three

Wedding in Chile: Gathering the guests

(Prologue to this story)

The location:  Santiago, Chile, 10-15 hours flying time for most of the guests

The wedding party:

  • John and me, parents of Erika
  • Ann, mother of Israel
  • Hazel and Ron, my parents
  • Marcia, John’s mom
  • David and Sandra, Israel’s brother and sister
  • Gina, Erika’s Chilean host mom

Random things we learned:

  • It takes three cabs to transport ten people anywhere
  • Parking garages in Santiago are not open on Sunday
  • Eggplant lasagna can be amazingly wonderful
  • Tours consisting primarily of photographers take a long time to get anywhere


More on that soon.  But now, on to the story.

Part One: Gathering the Guests

The first guests to arrive in Chile were my parents, on Thursday morning.  About the time that they were arriving in Chile, John, his mom, and I were leaving for Chile. Thursday flights went smoothly, except for a brief snafu over seating on the 9 hour flight from Dallas to Santiago. That ended up with us getting bulkhead seats all in a row, much better seats than we initially were supposed to have.  Leg room– hooray!!

Off the plane in Santiago we changed money and went through immigration. Going through customs were were a bit slowed by my dried fruit  (it had to be inspected, of all things).  At one point people in line near us gestured for us to look upward, and there in an upstairs glass-walled hallway looking down and waving wildly were Erika, David, Ann and Sandra.  David, Ann, and Sandra had arrived in Chile only half an hour or so ahead of us, and Erika had come to meet us all. By the time we got through our immigration line, they had arranged for a minivan with a driver to shuttle us to our hotel in downtown Santiago.

Check-in was not the speediest thing.  We were glad for Erika’s Spanish since people there did not speak English, and our little hotel (actually a tiny apartment complex) is one of many businesses in a huge building.  But once the apartment manager/housekeeper showed up, Erika was able to help us through.  Once in our various rooms (5 total) we discovered that they were well-equipped and clean and looked exactly like the internet pictures.

We checked out the cute little pool on the roof, and took a few pictures of the view around us.  Then we had just a little time to unpack before it was time to leave to visit Gina (Erika’s host mom) for lunch.  We were tired enough that it felt difficult to think of leaving so soon after our all-night flights.  But we felt honored to have been invited.

We began with a short walk to the subway, then 15 minutes or so riding the subway, including a line change.  Then it was time for a 15 minute walk to the house.  It was a perfect, sunny 70 degree day with little breeze.  You could not have picked a nicer day for walking. Her host mom lives in a charming little house in a lovely neighborhood.  We saw an aloe vera plant that — no joke– was big enough that it would overflow the bed of a pickup truck.  The houses are gated, with charming doors and shutters, and pretty wrought-iron bars on windows–security like we saw in Ethiopia, but with more character and nicer materials.

David is a professional photographer, and Sandra and John and I all enjoy taking pictures, so at any given moment during the trip, chances were good that someone was taking pictures.The dinner party was no exception. On arriving at Gina’s, we were embraced and kissed and set into the living room with drinks to talk.  Gina doesn’t speak much English, and Erika and one other guest were the only ones who spoke both languages.  So conversation was halting, but we did ok.

Gina had several relatives and friends there to visit with us and help cook and serve us a lovely dinner out on the covered patio.  The patio is amazing, with grapes and lemons and olives growing all around, along with white and yellow trumpet flowers.  Just lovely.

Lunch was 3 courses:  first sliced tomatoes and cucumbers and bread and fritatta-like lettuce/egg ‘pancakes’.  Next came eggplant/sausage lasagna, seasoned very mildly, and absolutely delicious, served with a different bread. Gina promised me the recipe and I seriously think we need to try growing eggplant again this year.  Finally there was a lovely fruit platter — actually one for each end of our big table.  There were 14 people counting her friends and relatives, though one young lady devoted herself strictly to serving.

Erika sat at one end of the table– boy, she is learning lots of Spanish!!– and the translator/friend served to help conversation along at the other end.  It was really fun.  Topics ranged from Venezualan coffee to eggplant to politics.  Gina, her host mom, is just gold,  the sweetest lady you can imagine, and I felt so blessed to know she has been watching over Erika.

Despite the language barriers, conversation continued long after lunch, and we were all having such fun visiting and sitting around in the hammock that it was hard to leave.  But there was still the walk and the subway ride back. Eventually around 5 PM we had to tear ourselves away.

People were getting tired, I think, and the group had stragglers on the walk back. Six of our group had only slept on the airplane.  John had felt extremely exhausted during our little time in the hotel room before lunch, but he rallied admirably when we were out and about and joked and laughed and enjoyed the afternoon.  Sandra was most tired by the end of the walk/subway home, though she was gamely hanging in there.

At one point the subway was so full that only half of us could get on before doors shut– we were smashed in like utter sardines– and so we had to regroup at the next subway stop.  Luckily we had time to communicate before the doors shut, and we did a good job of keeping our partial groups together, and reconnecting at the next stop.   The subways, though crowded at rush hour, feel safe and very clean, much like in Korea.

Back at the hotel we enjoyed short naps and a bit of rest/downtime.  Then it was time to get ready for our 8PM dinner reservations in Patio Bella Vista, at a place called ‘Como Agua para Chocolate’.

Part two of the story here!


Our Chile trip: the rest of the story

As I begin to write to you about our trip, I need to tell you about the dual challenge I was working under. First, the normal blogger’s challenge: how do you take readers along on a trip without telling the whole world you’re out of your house? Even if everyone at home is well supervised, it is still not something you want to trumpet over broadband.

The second challenge was more unusual.  John and I had been planning an anniversary trip, and did indeed choose to take that trip to Chile to see our daughter who is studying abroad.  But we were enticed.  Back in January, after spending just a few weeks apart, Erika and her boyfriend/fiance of two years surprised us by deciding to get married over spring break.  In Chile.  They wanted a few of their closest family to come, but they wanted to surprise almost everyone else in their lives. To give you an idea of the scope of this secret– most of my sisters didn’t even know until last week.

So last week when I was writing about leaving for Chile, John and I were actually on our way to a wedding in Chile.  On Saturday, in  stunningly beautiful Santa Lucia in Santiago Chile our Erika married her Israel.  We couldn’t be happier for them and we are wishing God’s every blessing on their lives.

I’ll be writing more about our trip in the next days as we get unpacked and try to segue back into normal life.  I’ll also be sharing more photos.  The pictures below were taken by Israel’s awesome brother David Shirk, of Unplugged Photography.  I can’t wait to see more– I am sure they are gonna be amazing!  But finally you (and my sisters! 😉  ) know the rest of the story!

Packing (aka the great shoe debate)

I’ve decided that the hardest part about getting ready for a trip (besides arranging child care and planning meals while I am gone) is deciding how many pairs of shoes I need.  Seriously, it’s ridiculous.  I am currently looking at FIVE essential pairs of shoes.

  • High heeled dark brown boots, because I love the way they look with jeans– or dress pants too. They’re comfy enough to walk a mile or so, if sidewalks aren’t too uneven.   I am seriously considering wearing them on the plane, they’re that comfy, and did I mention they’re cute?
  • Dressy white cork-heeled sandals, to wear with a dress for fancy occasions.  (Despite the heel, I can walk a mile or so in these to without feeling too much pain.)
  • Brown flat tennis shoes –stable, easy-off for the airport, and ok with dress pants, but thin soled and zero padding.  My feet will definitely be sore by the end of the day, but they’re better than the boots or the sandals.
  • Running shoes– for running, obviously.  But also backup walking shoes if the brown ones kill my feet too bad.   Will save them only for running if I can stand it, because they feel frumpy going around town.
  • Brown clogs– cute with dress pants or jeans.  Not quite as stable as the brown tennis shoes, but better padded.  Might be a good alternative if other shoes make my feet too sore, and I feel too vain for the running shoes.

Crazy to be devoting that much luggage space to footwear, but that’s a narrowed-down as I can make it!  More when I get time to breathe– it is crazy around here!




This is the stuff that drives me crazy
This is the stuff that’s getting to me lately
In the middle of my little mess
I forget how big I’m blessed
This is the stuff that gets under my skin
But I gotta trust You know exactly what You’re doing
It might not be what I would choose
But this is the stuff You use

Saturday Giveaway: How to Really Love Your Adult Child

During the past couple years, I’ve been venturing into the world of parenting grownup kids. When you’ve got only little ones, you kind of assume that once your kids are grown, your job is done. I’ve learned that though the need for physical care goes away, you become more and more aware of the need to pray for your kids and to encourage them in just the right way  (not too much intervention, not too little, thankyouverymuch!)  It is a tricky balance.

When I heard about today’s giveaway book (I’ve got TWO copies!) I was immediately intrigued. How to Really Love Your Adult Child: Building a Healthy Relationship in a Changing World is written by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, and offers a no-nonsense yet loving approach for parents wishing to encourage their young-adult children in the best way possible.  I really like the fact that it is loaded with real stories from real families offering perspective into what works and what doesn’t.
I’ve got two copies of this book that I’ll be giving away early next week.  All you have to do to enter the drawing is comment below and tell me the best thing that your parents did for you as you moved into the adult world. One thing that comes to my mind:  a little packet of Bible verses written by my mom and handed to me the day I moved into my college dorm.   I treasured those verses for many years and just recently gave that little packet to one of my own daughters as she set off on adventure.

How about you?  Who encouraged you as you set out into the world, and how did they do it?

Guess where we’re going..?

There’s a bit of excitement buzzing around here this week. John and I will be celebrating our 25th anniversary this summer– we got married when we were mere babies!  😉 — and we’ve talked for awhile about the possibility of taking a ‘big’ trip to celebrate.  Hawaii was one thought, but we decided it might be fun to go someplace less traveled.

Our 20-year-old daughter is currently studying in Chile, and we decided– why not take advantage of this fact and take a trip this spring while she is there to show us around? As I write this, there are suitcases all over our bedroom.  John and I are in a pleasant flutter of packing and anticipation and child-care wrangling, preparing for a week-long getaway to Chile!   As the time gets closer, I look forward to sharing more about our plans. And of course, of course I’ll be blogging from Chile, telling you all about it!  Just for a tiny taste of what’s ahead, here are a few blog posts I’ve been reading as we prepare:

Next Stop: Santiago, Chile

Valparaíso Getaway

Homeschool Curriculum Help

I’ve been a Timberdoodle fan ever since we started homeschooling way back in 1994 . Timberdoodle is a homeschool curriculum company owned by homeschoolers, and one of their strengths is the way they describe the pros and cons of various curriculum choices. They’re kept up with the times, and this week I learned that they have a youtube channel.  Below is a brief description of three different math programs. Horizon math is the one I use for my younger elementary kids.

Awhile back I blogged about switching my older kids to Teaching Textbooks. Here’s Timberdoodle’s vlog describing Teaching Textbooks. We did 7th/8th grade Teaching Textbooks for a year and enjoyed it. I am still doing it with my 3rd grade daughter. But I ended up switching back to Saxon math for some of my kids, after discovering that they really needed more review of concepts than is provided by Teaching Textbooks.

That really is one of the beauties of homeschooling– having the freedom to customize a plan for your kids’ needs. Over the years Timberdoodle has helped me do just that. Whether or not you end up purchasing from Timberdoodle, I think their youtube series will help lots of parents make more informed choices for their kids.

(Note: I received no compensation of any kind for this post.)


Today I ran 1.7 miles in 17:50, which is about 10:30 per mile. Not speedy, but it is a lot faster than the 13-minute miles I was doing a few months ago. Hooray for progress!

Hooray for spring!

The first no-jacket day of spring can make a girl positively giddy.