Sunday, June 27, 2010

Fun with Nana and Papa

The past two weeks have been a blast! Tom, Zeke, and I enjoyed the first week all together here in Arkansas. Tom went back to Omaha last Monday, while Zeke and I spent one more week with Nana and Papa. It has been so fun to watch our little guy love spending time with his grandparents. Here are some of the highlights...

Helping Papa with watering and pruning in the gardens

A quick trip to the doctor's office to get some antibiotics for an ear infection

Playing with Nana at all the car dealerships while we looked at minivans

Wearing Papa's hats while sitting on his favorite seat in front of the fireplace.

Also, long walks and evening playing outside with Nana and Papa. I've got some really cute picture of this, but my camera battery ran out before I could upload it. More to come later this week!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

One Great Thing About Nebraska: Spontaneous Patriotism

This act of spontaneous patriotism occurred at Captain Jack's Bar in Lincoln, Nebraska on June 23rd, 2010. The US national soccer team does something extraordinary in the ninety-first minute of a do-or-die World Cup match. These Nebraskans are very proud.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Happy Birthday Tom!

Today, Tom turns 32 years old! Since we're in different states today (Tom is back in Omaha, but Zeke and I are still in Arkansas for a few more days) we celebrated his birthday on Saturday before he left.

Tom loves his sweet new ipod nano!

Happy Birthday Tom!
We miss you and love you!

Americans and America, ctd.

If you do find yourself in the company of North and South American Others (Canadians, Uruguayans, Chileans, ect.), and we certainly hope you do, there is a word you can use to describe yourself which will not offend and will probably make your new friend feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It's a Spanish word, so it won't help you too much with Canadians or Brazilians. But there are literally millions of people who would be simply charmed to hear you refer to yourself as estadounidense.


Unfortunately, it's not an easy word to pronounce. But it is useful.

I would like to add, to be perfectly clear, that we fully support use of the words America and American. We also support America and Americans whenever and however we can.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Americans and America

Like I said, our North and South American brothers and sisters are not mad at us for calling ourselves Americans, they just think it's sort of typical of us, with our our giant vehicles and multinational corporations and cowboy military-industrial ethos, to name ourselves using like the biggest possible name. Well, almost the biggest, I guess we could call ourselves Earthlings or Western Hemispherians. But that just wouldn't sing the same way.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Karine and Tom in America

This sounds pretty catchy as a new name for the blog. It sounds patriotic and fun. That's us! It sounds like the name of a really great show on TLC.

It's accurate. We are in America, the part of North America that is the United States of America, more specifically, Omaha, Nebraska.

But is is fair?

Most people living in the U.S. are unaware of this particular issue, but here it is: people living in the non-U.S. Americas (Mexico, Honduras, Canada, Brazil, ect.) boil gently when we call our country America and ourselves American. They're not hopping mad like the veins on their foreheads are going to explode, but they feel it's a little presumptuous, maybe a little big-headed of us to expropriate the proper name for two continents and go ahead and call ourselves that.

But there is really no adequate alternative. We believe in accurate and efficient language. It's a core American value.

It's a core United Statesperson value. It's a core United States of American value. It's a core person-of-the-United-States value.

Well, we're still thinking about what to call our blog now that we're back in the United States of America. But we're glad to be home. And we'll just have to go ahead and ask for the continued patience and understanding of our fellow North and South Americans as we call ourselves American.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Minivan Shopping in Arkansas

We looked at some sweet minivans yesterday. That's a sentence I thought I'd never write, a thought I thought for sure would never exist in my head. Well, times change. We are old, we are dorks, we will join the cavalry of minivans and, if we are lucky, we will drive them to Dairy Queen.

We didn't plan on needing a minivan. Maybe no one plans on needing a minivan. It's just something that happens to you.

We visited three dealerships, sat in a bunch of minivans, drove some other minivans, spent a surprising amount of time wondering whether or not a certain used minivan smelled like urine, talked numbers, and said no about eighty-five times. Then we went home without a minivan.

It's hard to buy something when it's really expensive and you don't want to buy it, but you sort of need to buy it. Here's what we want to buy:

2010 GMC Terrain. We talked to Todd at the GMC dealership and he was just the coolest salesguy we talked to all day. He was selling what we wanted to buy, and he was the guy we wanted to buy it from, except that what we wanted to buy was something that just doesn't work for a family of five with two infants and two-year-old. We found ourselves in the classic WANT versus NEED conflict. Which, I don't know about you, but me, I go with what I want like 85% of the time. But in this case....

We asked Todd if he could help us: of course he could! He showed us the GMC Acadia, which is only slightly less awesome than the crucially awesome GMC Terrain. You can definitely fit three car seats in an Acadia. Only problem is that you pretty much would have to squeeze them in sideways to access the third row seat. Maybe even rotate them upside down. Which, to some people, is like a deal-breaker.

Some unknown organ behind my sternum activated itself in sympathetic vibration when Todd fired up the 3.6 liter V6 on the moderately-pimped Acadia he was showing us.

With great personal sadness we walked away from the friendly and knowledgeable Todd and put our dreams of owning either of these finely-crafted machines in a small and sturdy box near our hearts.

We are still in the hunt. For a minivan.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Back in the U.S.A.

It's been a very busy two weeks since arriving back in the U.S. but we have been having a blast. The first week, we spent time in Omaha with Grandma Jean. We've enjoyed getting to know our neighborhood and new hometown (me for the first time, and Tom for the first time again since 1997).

Zeke was very quick to locate the broom at Grandma Jean's house, and has enjoyed playing in the yard, sitting on the patio, and of course sweeping the driveway any chance he's had.

We then rented a car and traveled to NW Arkansas to spend a week with the Nelsons. It's been so neat to see my parents' new home, and of course Zeke was welcomed with a few special treats as well! Papa put together a brand new Cozy Coupe for Zeke to scoot around in. Zeke says "car" all the time now.

After a quick one night visit to the house, we all headed 2 hours north for the weekend to Big Cedar Lodge just outside of Branson, MO. This beautiful resort is located in the Ozarks on a big lake and is just beautiful. Uncle Chris taught Zeke about Lincoln Logs. We all enjoyed swimming in the pools, floating on the lazy river, and eating some delicious food.

Now we're back in Rogers, AR for a week of R and R. Tom and I had a date night last night- Mexican food and the box office hit "Date Night" We had a great time, and appreciated the babysitting services from my parents.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Reaction

I know that many of you who donated money to help send Stephanie to school are anxiously awaiting the news of "how did she react???" I wanted to wait a few days to share the reaction because honestly, it was a few days of reacting.

Last Tuesday afternoon, (which was right in the middle of our busiest week ever -- maybe second only to the week we got married and moved to Honduras) we sat down with Belkis and told her that we had a surprise for her. She and I had talked at length in the past few months about the weaknesses of the public school system, and how she had hoped to move Stephanie to a private school next year. I told Belkis that thanks to our friends and family, and even a few new friends we've never met, Stephanie had a scholarship waiting for her that would pay for the first year of school at a private, well-run school.

Belkis was astounded. She was silent, but I could see her hands shaking. This was a really big deal to her. I told her that it would be great if we could spend the final 2 days we had in La Ceiba working out some of the details, like which school she would attend, when she would begin, etc.

Now, to explain a bit about Belkis, she is a strong woman who keeps her deepest emotions carefully guarded. While I was a blubbering mess last week saying goodbye to everyone, Belkis was extra quiet. This was already a very emotional week for her, as she was saying goodbye to a family and a baby that meant a great deal to her. After I explained all I could about the scholarship, she said thank you and that she'd start thinking about it, and that this was a very big gift. She went home that day, and we were left wondering how she really felt about the news.

On Wednesday, Belkis came to take care of Zeke in my classroom for a few hours in the morning. She and I had the opportunity to talk at length. She told me that she was very very appreciative of the scholarship, but she had a couple concerns. You see, some of the better bilingual schools in La Ceiba run their school year from August to May, and other private schools follow the typical Honduran school calendar which runs from January to November. Belkis was concerned that we were going to place the condition that Stephanie be pulled from her current school mid-year. Most parents understand how this could be disruptive to a child's social and emotional well being, so I told her that if she was more comfortable waiting for the current school year to end, we understood and could work with that. This was the short-term concern.

Then, there was her long-term concern. Since we left Honduras, Belkis is looking for new employment and currently does not have a stable job to guarantee she could continue to support Stephanie's education after the first year. Her concern is that Stephanie would be given this wonderful opportunity for one year, but what happens after that? After a great deal of thought and consideration on our part, Tom and I told Belkis that it would be our goal and commitment to help Stephanie for the next 4 years. We don't exactly know what we'll do, or how we'll do it, but it is our goal and plan.

By Thursday, we had set up an "appointment" for Belkis to meet and discuss some school options with our school's guidance counselor. The guidance counselor already administers several scholarships for children at various schools around La Ceiba, and she had several ideas for Belkis, and was also able to help address some of the concerns Belkis had.

At the end of the day Thursday, Belkis sat us down and this is a rough translation of what she said...

"First of all I want to say thank you. You don't understand what a big gesture this is to me. It is incredible. You and your friends and family are very generous and we have been blessed by God to be given this opportunity. I don't know what my future holds, but after talking with [the guidance counselor] today, I believe it will all work out. I don't want to pull Stephanie out of her current school in the middle of this school year (right now or within the next two months) because we need a little time to find the right school and make a plan. But your generosity is overwhelming, so thank you and thank God for this blessing and gift."

Then we had to say some very difficult goodbyes. It was an emotionally overwhelming evening, but we left it with Belkis that we would be in touch regularly until Stephanie started school. The scholarship will be left in Stephanie's name in an scholarship account administered by our school's guidance counselor. We've put a time limit of one year for this money to begin to be used. Belkis knows that she's got the time she needs to help Stephanie adjust to her new education, and we can all rest assured that the money will be put to good use for Stephanie's education.

So again, from the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Goodbye Honduras

Our bags are packed, we've said our goodbyes, and it's time to go. Tomorrow morning we leave this country and begin our new chapter in life. While we are truly sad to leave so many special people (and one very special dog) back here in Honduras, we are looking forward to the next great adventure.

Tomorrow we'll be traveling all day and landing in Omaha, Nebraska- our new hometown in the evening.

So, next time we blog, it will be Karine and Tom in Nebraska!

Adios Honduras!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

We Did It!!!!

We would like to extend a very warm and gracious thank you to all that contributed to Stephanie's scholarship fund. Thanks to the generosity of our readers, friends, and family, we have raised $1120 to send Stephanie to a good school next year. This scholarship will provide her with the uniforms, materials, and most importantly, the educational opportunities of a lifetime.

Thank you. We are truly humbled by your generosity.

My Growing Belly

As Promised- here's a belly pic from last week- 15 weeks pregnant with twins!