Friday, July 31, 2009

Beautiful Portugal

Mom arrived safely and we've spent the last few days enjoying the sites. Portugal is full of beautiful places to see and I'm enjoying seeing these areas as much as my Mom is. I've not really taken the time yet to see some of these areas before now....hope you enjoy them as much as we did....

Until next time......

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Mini Vacation with Mimi

Mimi with her grandbabies

Hey Ya'll!

My mom is in route to our house as I type! After 24 hours of travel and 4 flights, she'll arrive at 10:00 tomorrow morning. We'll pick her up at the airport and then head to Viana do Castelo for a few days of vacation. It's only 30 minutes away from us....but it's the away part that we're focusing on.

Viana do Castelo

Hope you guys have a great week. I'll post when we return.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I Feel Cheated On

Lately, I've been seeing posts on my friends blogs apologizing for being "gone so long". Friends that have been "missing" for quite a while. They've been off socializing with others, using other networks, and they've left me and all their other faithful blog friends behind. (kidding ya'll!)

I tried FB. But after finding myself in a sticky situation, had to cancel my account. Although I found that it consumed quite a bit of time, only to accomplish so very little. I just don't see the value of it like I see the value in maintaining a blog.

My blog is a journal of sorts. An online scrapbook. I write about mundane things in life, I write about my experiences living in another culture, I post pictures for all of our friends and family Stateside that are missing out seeing my kids grow up. This journal of mine will be something my kids will have one day. Something to share with my Grand kids. Where my Grand kids will learn more about the childhood of their there's value to that. What I wouldn't give to know more about the everyday life of my mom when she was 10.

So with all that's the latest from my Guest Blogger, Michael Andrzejewski

Turn It Off

Do you really want to know what I'm doing at this very moment? What about ten minutes from now when I am doing something both terribly mundane and wildly unrelated to you. Maybe I'm mulling over the Biblical and/or grammatical difference between good and perfect with my feet on my desk, while staring across corn fields and vineyards.

Perhaps I'm about to stop and help my wife unload groceries? Happy? Does that get you through the day? I'm sorry. Not even my own mother has an interest in that sort of vapidity.

Twitter? Nope. Facebook? Forget it. LinkedIn? More like FedUp.

All of these Social Networking Sites are driving me insane.

I've tried to connect. Sincerely, I've tried to want to get back in touch, but my life is different now. I'm all grown up and my social circle is already more than I can adequately manage.

On top of deadlines, appointments, meetings, services, and classes; I care nothing about the pressure of feeling like I've got to send what amounts to an electronic Christmas card four times a day to Johnny who played right field with me in little league.

If you would like to talk, call me. If you don't have the time, email me. I'll do my best to call or write you back before you forget what you wanted in the first place.

Think with me for just a moment. Sir, do you really think that given your recent marital problems it is profitable for your wife to accept an invitation to look at pictures of her recently divorced ex-boyfriend on the beach in Maui? I don't.

Neither do I want that creepy, obsessive “old friend” cyber stalking my wife under the guise of “needing someone to talk to through this difficult time” in his life.

Without being downright rude, I have absolutely no interest in the fact that two days ago Sean Sebastian was packing for a business trip to Las Vegas. Who's Sean Sebastian? I barely remember. We were classmates in college and haven't spoken in over twelve years. I'm glad he wants to keep in touch, although methinks there's a lot more to it than just keeping in touch. It's like some sort of petty race to procure the most contacts or writings on one's wall.

In today's society of constant – no longer instant gratification, we have created a culture of busyness without productivity. We do things but never accomplish very much. We spend countless hours building empty relationships while neglecting the important ones.

How about doing something novel. Bold. Start a trend. Be electronically anti-social.

Disconnect. Right now. Turn off the computer and go read a book to your daughter. Take a walk with that almost estranged wife. Quit trying to connect with those that really don't matter and simply connect with those that should matter. Have a catch with your teenage son, just like in Field of Dreams.

Remember, you didn't like all of those people that you're trying to reach out and touch when you talked to them every day or you would have kept in touch with them all along. What makes you think you are going to like them now?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Monday Mayhem

It's a sunny Monday morning here in Northern, Portugal. I'm trying hard to ignore the chaos surrounding me.

There seems to be a little squabble over the cinnamon and sugar over near the toaster. One of my daughters just got chocolate milk all over her skirt and proceeded to remove it right in front of all of us so that I could treat the stain immediately
. (She said I told her to take it off so I could spray it and choose another skirt....but I didn't mean right now) The dog (a large black Lab) is leaping in the air in an attempt to procure his morning snack....flies. One kid has a fortress built around her with 3 cereal boxes, a roll of paper towels, and two containers of juice...the same one sitting bottomless while finishing her breakfast. One of the youngest is fussing at an older one, "You make chocolate milk like water!!" And my son is collecting the remaining milk from his cereal bowl in his mouth and spitting it back into his bowl...and he's doing this over and over again. My oldest is standing on her platform this morning demanding all finish their breakfast quickly because they must begin their work for today and finish my birthday gifts they've been working on for a week now. (My birthday isn't for 2 weeks) Her bedroom has been transformed into a workshop, complete with a sign warning Mom NOT to enter unless I knock first. All the neighborhood kids arrive at 2:00 promptly, and this is when the real work begins. The friends bring supplies from their house...all the fancy craft supplies like glitter!

Monday' to love 'em.

My Mom arrives next Monday for a 9 day visit. We'll spend the next week preparing for her arrival. Deciding on which room in this house is the coolest for her to sleep. She's a spoiled southerner, like me, she's used to having air condition in every room of the house. So much air condition that the toilet seats are cold, even in the summer.

This past weekend we had another pic-nic
. This time it was with some friends of ours. And next weekend we'll have another one with all the folks from the mission here in our town that we are working with. These beautiful days won't last long. Soon enough it will turn cold and rainy and last for 9 months. I don't look forward to those days. So excuse me while I spend a little time outdoors.

Have a great week ya'll!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Society Has Dropped The Belt - Guest Blogger

If saggy pants fall in public and there's no common sense to pick them up, does society even notice?

Moreover, if underwear were intended to be seen, wouldn't we call it outerwear?

Is this particularly disgusting and undeniably perplexing fashion trend just a matter of a simple generational divide? Twenty years from now will these same quasi-flashers be busting a three piece sag? I have my doubts.

It is more probable that we could trace the root of this pandemic of baggy britches to those who first neglected the use of the belt – the parents. Somewhere along the line, Mom and Dad replaced the type of familial cowboy diplomacy that was used for so long for a more positive, Obama style, if-I-could-just-talk-to-them method of parenting. My rather unpopular stance is that young people always need a belt, if not one to hold up their shorts, then certainly to hold up their behavior. In most families corporal punishment has gone the way of the dodo bird, and following closely behind can be seen respect for authority. I'll not be the first, nor should I be the last to say it, but kids have plenty of friends. What they really need are parents. They really need parents who love them enough to keep them in line.

I had a strict disciplinarian as a father. I didn't always like it then, but I am very thankful now. He demanded the kind of reverence that led me as a young man to ask his permission about getting a tattoo. He asked why and where. I responded with a ridiculous, “Because I really want a tattoo...” and pointed to my left shoulder. Typical.

He replied by reassuring me that I would regret it one day, telling me that he wasn't paying for it, and thanking me for respecting him enough to talk to him first. For the record, the day of regret came rather too soon than I ever anticipated.

From a very early age I was taught by all adults to say yes sir or ma'am and no sir or ma'am. If I neglected to do so in the presence of my father, I was sure to be picking myself up off the ground. It was a given.

In that day, not very long ago, there were many more societal “givens” than there are today. While there were expectations, they were neither unreasonable nor oppressive. Instead, they were normal, sensical, and purposeful. Eerily similar to belts, these expectations helped both father and son. These expectations of honesty, integrity, and courtesy warded off shame and public humiliation, simultaneously guarding society from being subjected to outward moral deviation.

When it turned from being encouraged to almost criminal to correct children alongside the Hamburger Helper, as barometric pressure drops so did the level of respect for one's elders. In no certain order, Junior's grades slipped, then went his pants, and now civility itself slides further and further south. Sadly, because we have criminalized the belt, all we have to look forward to seeing is civilization's dirty boxer shorts.

-Michael Andrzejewski

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Baptism at the River

Ever witnessed a Baptism at the River?

Perhaps you've been baptized in a river?

I was baptized in a swimming pool.....I thought that was cool until I saw this.....

Precious souls walking out to meet the preacher while us on the river bank sang songs of praise....

The look of humble thanksgiving on their faces just before going under....

The symbolic white robes declaring their heart has been cleansed through Jesus' blood....

The celebrating that took place after wards with tears, hugs, shouts of Amen and lots of singing....

The public testimony these folks gave as they were baptized in a river with other non-believers all around.....

What a blessing! I couldn't help but to cry as I watched each of the five candidates wade through the water....while songs of praise were sung from the river Portuguese!

The language spoken by the people of this country that I have come to love so very much. The language I struggle to speak daily. The same language I cry frustrated tears over when I 'butcher' my thoughts and sentiments directed at those I love so very much. How I long to communicate intelligently.

It was a simple reminder.....witnessing these baptisms.

It's why we're here.
It's why we do what we do.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Summer School & Antiques

Summer school is in full swing.

Reading in English,
Writing in English,
American History......

All that fun stuff that they don't get in the normal school year.

We also do Portuguese school work to help prepare them for the following grade. We only do it for a few hours each day, but it's enough to keep them busy in the morning hours. The Portuguese kids sleep til noon each day, so that gives us a few uninterrupted hours of school time each morning. Because after lunch time (2:00 for the Portuguese) we can guarantee that our house will fill with neighborhood kids.

Today however, they were a bit distracted by these cuties. We eventually had to put them outside away from my students because nothing was getting accomplished. (Even I was distracted taking pictures!)

These little boogers are just about ready for new homes. If anyone of you reading are in the Minho area and would like a kitty, just let me know.

We have a friend who is moving into a new apartment. The landlord had this piece of furniture in the apartment that my friend didn't want. So the landlord gave her permission to give it to someone who promised to take care of it. I had no idea it would be so pretty! I'm thrilled with this new addition in my kitchen!

I'm not an antique person, but I'm sure it's antique and the stamp inside says it's from Heidelberg, Germany. I've not had any luck looking online for information.

Any advice from you guys that know about this sort of stuff???

I'm in love with it..and I don't even know what you call it!
Maybe it's a buffet?? What do you think?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Opposites Attract

Skaters and Jocks did not mix.

On any given day you'd have found me sitting innocently on a street curb or at a skate park, but to those passing by I probably looked like a groupie. With my hairstyle, clothing preferences and choice of music I guess that's what I was.

Skaters were peace loving sort of folks. The Jocks were mean and arrogant. I boycotted football games by the age of 13 promising to never attend such activities. I was secure in my world of nonconforming and I wasn't about to let anyone change that. At 14 I had most of the answers to life and I would have told you as much if you'd have asked.

One sunny, but cold January day I was visiting my Dad when my step-sister received a call from a boy that wanted to be her get the picture. While covering the mouth piece on the much too large phone receiver, my step-sister whispered, "Shane has a friend at his house....and he is hot! Do you want to talk to him?" She quickly explained that he was a jock, but that he was 'cool'.

Appalled at her gall, I said no thank you. I had a boyfriend. One who rode skateboards and was very good at it. But before I knew it the much too large phone receiver was thrust into my face with a huge grin. "He's to him!"

With a chip on my shoulder I reluctantly took the phone.

Within 5 minutes I was making fun of his girlfriend, whom I'd never met. Her name was Buffy. I couldn't help myself. I envisioned a fancy cheerleader type that followed him around to all his football games, and even worse I envisioned her with the typical late 80's hairstyle....huge 'buffy' bangs. One thing that I was certain I would never have.

The conversation didn't last long and the next day I was back at my Mom's. It was a Monday night and I was watching a movie with a few of my skater friends, when the phone rang. I ran to the kitchen to answer it and when he said, "'s me" a voice much to deep to come from a boy barely 14, I was speechless. Accusingly I questioned him, "How'd you get my number?!" And he did what he still does today, answer a stupid question with a question. "How do you think I got it?" Quickly I took his number promising to call him back when everyone was gone.

We talked every night after school for two weeks. Mostly we argued and debated, but whatever you call it, we did a lot of it until it was time to go back to my Dad's house for the weekend. He said he'd go to Shane's house again and we could meet that Saturday in person. Shane lived just around the corner from my Dad so after lunch my step-sister and I ventured out around the neighborhood.

Scared to knock on the door, I stayed in the yard pretending to busy myself squishing leaves on a tree. When he walked out the door....I knew I was in trouble. His eyes were the first thing I noticed. The sun was shinning right through them, they were so clear. His ripped up jeans and heavy metal t-shirt were a little much for me....but his eyes had me caught. What was I getting myself into?

The next day I told my mom I had met the boy I was going to marry. She laughed at me.

Now, 20 years later I still ask myself that question. What am I getting myself into?

I'd follow that handsome boy with clear eyes anywhere.....even to Portugal.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Help A Girl Out.....Would You?

Hi Everyone!

I'm running late this morning getting everything together for a 4th of July cook-out with friends, so this has to be short.... plus it's been one of those days and I've only been out of bed for 30 minutes.....

I forgot to put my 8 pound pork roast in the crock post last night so we'd have wonderful tender pulled park BBQ sandwiches we might be eating PB&J.

But.....Dani Joy has sent me some good news!

I'm a finalist in her caption contest!! Woo Hoo!!

So if you'd be a dear and slip on over there and vote for me, you'd really make my day! The poll is on her side bar and it would only take a minute.

Okay...I'm off to tackle kitten poop, raw pork roasts and ornery kids.....or maybe it's me that's ornery....