Winter Is Coming

Brace-yourself-Winter

Sorry if you clicked this link hoping to read something about GoT. 🙂 But it is catchy, isn’t it?

I always post something around March/April about “the whirlwind.” It is usually a post about the visitors that we have passing through. This year was no different with my brother and nephew for 2 weeks followed by interns for 8. That is TEN weeks of hosting, people! We love having people in our home, but even this extrovert needs her routine back with just the McKinzie Five. This year, the interns left right before a four-day weekend (Peru’s Independence Day and the day after are holidays). We have a tendency to work through Peruvian holidays b/c we aren’t Peruvian and work through US holidays b/c we aren’t in the US, but this year… ohhhh, how we enjoyed the four-day weekend as a family. I thank God for sabbath and for times where we can recover from work to reflect on his glory and spend time with our closest loved ones.

Well, the official whirlwind is picking up speed. That would be the whirlwind leading up to our departure date from Peru… for the long-term. It became very real the other day when we sold two of our pieces of furniture to teammates in order to clear out our “guest room.” Do you know how many guests have stayed in that room in the time we have lived in this part of the city! We sold our bunk beds. That means no more interns. How can that be?

I will be reflecting a lot through our blog in the coming months. To tell you the truth, I am avoiding processing the departure date. It makes me cry if I take the time to think about it. Here is our plan in a nutshell:

The winter is coming, because we will be moving back to the US in the dead of winter. Before then,

1. We go back to the states in October to attend my little brother’s wedding. (Obviously, it wasn’t ideal to take a trip so close to our leave-date, but I am excited to have two trips of suitcases to get all of Greg’s books home!) We will also be attending the Global Missions Conference outside of Memphis to speak on behalf of CUDA and attend classes.

2. I am slowly, but more rapidly cleaning out all of our stuff. I hope to have all of the kids clothes and toys ready to take with us in October. Only the most important things will go. It is freeing to not hold on to a bunch of “stuff.”

3. We plan to sell the majority of our things. This means figuring out prices and how long we can go without them (obviously, we will sell the majority closer to when we leave).

4. My parents are coming in mid-December to spend Xmas with us. What a weird Christmas it will be, but I am beyond excited to show someone from our families the spectacular firework display of the city at midnight on Christmas Eve.

5. This one brings me to tears if I dwell on it: My parents will take the three kids back home with them the end of December. We plan to initially move back in with my parents on our return. I have tried to envision Greg and me saying goodbye to the kids at the AQP airport KNOWING that they are leaving “home.” How weird that they are leaving AQP and leaving their parents all at the same time. The kids are beyond excited to go to “the farm,” but they are looking at it as they would any other furlough. Ana has made reference to how she will miss Peru. I am still curious to see how all of this transition will affect the three kids, mainly Ana.

6. Greg and I will remain in AQP to sell the rest of our stuff. We also are having a retreat with Bill and Holly Richardson (our team mentors), all the new missionaries, and the church to discuss the future of the work here.

7. Greg and I will fly back to my parents’ home (with as many suitcases as we can carry).

8. I will look like a complete mess in the airports from all the crying that will take place.

I knew this post would come. Tomorrow marks August 1. Unbelievable. I am excited for the next chapter in our lives, but don’t be surprised, friends from our US home, when I am not overly joyous in reacting to, “Aren’t you so glad to be home?!”

I am learning the lesson that “home” is not just where I spent my childhood. Arequipa is definitely one of my “homes.” We will be leaving a huge piece of our hearts here. You tend to fall in love with people after knowing them for 6+ years. You tend to fall in love with a place when two of your children were born there, and all three know that place as their childhood home. We are so blessed by our time here. We have been so enriched by the relationships, the culture, the firsts, the anniversaries, all the memories our little family has made in this place. And though I don’t want to think about the final days or sending our three littles away from their home, all that they have known these six years, I am going to try and savor every single moment we have left here. You think I take too many photos? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

So, again, when you ask if I am so happy to be home in January, please understand that missionaries in re-entry to their host countries go through a grief period. It will be a huge transition for us. We are so blessed to come home to our family and friends that have supported us in ways that are beyond beautiful. But I just might cry a lot that first month we are home. So beware. 😉

So here’s to five full months left in this chapter. Brace yourself.

 

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Winter Is Coming

MK–the dress

The seamstress was a little late getting Maggie’s dress finished. It made me nervous, and to tell you the truth, I considered asking for my deposit back. But we had planned on a slumber party with Cora and Shaye, and I thought it would be fun to save the dress to give it to her for the slumber party. She was thrilled, and I think the seamstress did a great job. It is a little too big, but extra room to grow means that she can be Elsa for Halloween this year and next. 🙂

So… presenting the $125 Elsa dress turned into a $25 dress (made in Peru):

seeing it for the first time. She squealed with delight.

2014-07-28 07.54.29the front
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the back (I love the sparkly sheer fabric that she used). It definitely has a “snowflake look” to it.

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One day I let the kids color pictures from Frozen. Is it any surprise that Maggie chose this one? For the record, Ana chose Olaf, and Cohen chose Marshmallow. It really does show their personalities. 😉
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the Peruvian Elsa

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Let it go, peeps.2014-07-28 08.11.22 2014-07-28 08.12.02 2014-07-28 08.13.25

MK–the dress

Esta es mi tierra; Es mi Perú.

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Another last for this year: the last Independence Day celebration in their school this morning. The preschoolers presented the three regions of Peru: La Costa, La Sierra, and La Selva. The primary grades told the history of Peru with little skits. I will let the pictures speak for themselves…

Cohen was a shark. The three-year-old class (or the first part of them) dressed as sea animals. Cohen almost couldn’t see out of his costume.

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sitting with our intern, Mat, after his performance
sitting with our intern, Mat, after his performance

Maggie’s class represented the Selva (the jungle). They did a jungle dance, and then they sang “Es Mi Peru” as a class.

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Ana was a soldier. What is hilarious is that I got her the wrong costume. She was the only “soldado” (soldier) with a gun. Ha!

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Cohen and his condor craft. The condor is the national bird of Peru. Many tourists travel to Arequipa so that they can visit the Colca Canyon and see the condors flying.

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The primary grades singing “Es Mi Peru.”

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The ending was the school making a loop around the neighborhood. It was so sweet seeing Ana holding hands with her school BFF, Haslee. Here they are saying “Viva Peru!”

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Looking up the hill at the volcano. Our house is two houses from the school.

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Esta es mi tierra; Es mi Perú.

AG–Compassion

Ana Grace, you have always had a tender heart. You care deeply about those around you. You are the first to jump up and help a parent with their little child. You are what many call, “servant hearted” and “a people pleaser.” With that comes getting your feelings hurt easily, but you care so, so deeply.

You had a terrible finger injury this week. We have doctored and bandaged it each night since it happened. A soccer goal at your school came down and mashed your fingers. A finger on your right hand got the worst of it. You might lose your fingernail.

Last night, I unwrapped the bandage, prepared a bowl of warm water for you to clean your finger, dried it very carefully, and was preparing to apply the antibiotic ointment. You started to cry with the biggest tears like it was hurting you.

I asked, “Ana, what is wrong? Am I hurting you by touching it?”

With those great big tears rolling down your cheeks, you responded, “No. I am just thinking about all those kids in the world that don’t have a momma like you. They don’t have a momma to clean their cuts or help them when they get hurt. It just makes me so sad to think about them not having a mommy.” (you could hardly get the explanation out with all the crying)

I could hardly contain the tears that formed in my eyes. I hugged you and kissed you, and we talked about family being such a blessing.

Your compassion is from God, Anastasia Grace. You are our beautiful first born, and I cannot believe the big ole heart that God put inside of you. I don’t write this post to brag, although your daddy and I are so proud of you. I write it down for me to remember. You are being shaped by the God of compassion. We all have our gifts. I cannot wait to see what path you walk down as you discover those gifts, mature in life, and decide how you want to live out that compassion as an adult one day.

Never stop loving. Never stop feeling. Never stop crying for the pain that exists in this world. I love you so much. His kingdom come, his will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

We couldn't ask for a better big sister to your little sister and brother.
We couldn’t ask for a better big sister to your little sister and brother.
AG–Compassion

MK––5 years old

Maggie Kate, you are our beautiful Peruana. Your life pretty much marks our timeline here in Peru. It is hard to believe that this is your last birthday to spend in Peru for this chapter of our lives. You are a lovely, sassy, big blue-eyed, princess-lovin’ Kindergartener. We wouldn’t change anything about you.

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the best we could do for an "Elsa" hairdo
the best we could do for an “Elsa” hairdo

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This year we didn’t celebrate your birthday with a party.  We celebrated with a birthday extravaganza! You have been talking for 6 months about the Frozen party that you wanted. Well, you got your wish… plus more.

Step 1: Go with Momma to look for Frozen party decor in the center. The party stores were ready for us.

 

one store had the huge version of all the main characters
one store had the huge version of all the main characters
but Elsa is definitely your favorite
but Elsa is definitely your favorite

Step 2: Have a school party (something that your daddy and I despise, but I thought that it would be a nice gesture since it is your last year in Peru).

ice blue jello cups
ice blue jello cups

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an Elsa princess cupcake dress
an Elsa princess cupcake dress

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edible pearls and edible glitter (Momma had a lot of fun decorating these cupcakes)
edible pearls and edible glitter (Momma had a lot of fun decorating these cupcakes)
Holly Richardson (TA mentor) is kind of like an adopted missionary grandmother to these kids. She was here for the party!
Holly Richardson (TA mentor) is kind of like an adopted missionary grandmother to these kids. She was here for the party!
the sugar high buffet
the sugar high buffet

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They ate Cheesitos, popcorn, cookies, jello, candy and limonada all while watching Frozen in Spanish
They ate Cheesitos, popcorn, cookies, jello, candy and limonada all while watching Frozen in Spanish

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making the first wish of many
making the first wish of many

3. Step 3: Family party on the actual day. Maggie requested her favorite for lunch, Tortellini Soup. She wanted cinnamon rolls for her birthday dessert. She’s got good taste if you ask her parents.

birthday cinnamon rolls
birthday cinnamon rolls
Mat even played "Let It Go" for you
Mat even played “Let It Go” for you

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everybody but the photographer in the pic
everybody but the photographer in the pic
if the first wish didn't work out...
if the first wish didn’t work out…

Step 4: Mustaches in the park. One of our interns from last summer brought the girls fake mustaches (Thanks again, Lisette!). I had put them away, and Mags found them a few months ago. She got it in her head that on her birthday she wanted to go to the park and take pics with the mustaches on. Her dreams came true. Ha!

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Ana got in on the action, of course
Ana got in on the action, of course

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Step 5: Slumber party with Cora. Pictures to come…

Whew. We are done celebrating. chica. And I am sorry to say it, but I am all Frozened out. You got an Elsa dress (previous post), and we invited the Smith girls over for a good time. Cora and Shaye spent the night, but Aria was in on all the fun. She even wanted to stay the night with you (the last pics). You asked for cheeseburger sliders for dinner, and we made another birthday dessert. Your Gram had sent a princess party pack with Daddy back when he went to the states. We were able to use it along with our Frozen items.

You loved the princess birthday banner. You and your siblings added the extra Frozen pictures by coloring free pages off the internet.

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We made blue jello again, served the left-ver galletas from your school party, and put out the cake. That is your Elsa dress hanging in the background.2014-07-28 08.34.31

Tia Areli gave you a gift of these Frozen characters. I couldn’t believe that she could find something from Frozen! I looked. What is funny is that they are generic, and they still don’t have Elsa in the grouping. Luckily, we found a funny-looking Elsa candle in the party store downtown, and she ended up being the same size as the rest of the characters. Your sister hand drew a little Olaf and attached him to a long toothpick. Isn’t he cute?!

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Edible pearls and sprinkles are my new favorite cake decorating tools. 🙂2014-07-28 08.35.10

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the crew. Ana and Shaye (7), Maggie (5), Cora (4), Cohen (3), and Aria (2)2014-07-28 09.17.352014-07-28 09.18.20

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Aria is not picking her nose here, but it looks like it. See the cute cheeseburger sliders?2014-07-28 09.34.33

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I mentioned the Elsa candle coming from the party store. The wick fell down and it looked like Elsa had a torch sticking out of her back. Ha!2014-07-28 11.32.14

 

Cora insisted that I take a picture of her blue mouth. It was much bluer before I got this shot.2014-07-28 11.40.38

This little stinker wasn’t hungry for her cheeseburger, but she ate every bite of her piece of cake. 🙂 She also drank lots of “leemohdada” (limonada). 2014-07-28 11.40.53

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Aria is all ready to stay over.2014-07-28 12.26.47

Sweet girls. Sweet memories.2014-07-28 12.26.59

MK––5 years old

Elsa Costume for Mags

It is absolutely ridonkulous how much people are making off this Frozen craze. I tried to get my mom to buy an Elsa dollhouse figure, and she was told by the stores that they sell out within 15 minutes of getting a new shipment. Maggie’s birthday is coming up, and she requested a Frozen slumber party with her best friend, Cora.

Back in April, I went downtown to the area that rents costumes. Peru is a rental culture. I am talking everything… school plays, Halloween, what to wear to a wedding (they are super formal here), wedding dresses, graduations, promotions, etc. I personally love it.  Why did I pay over 100 dollars for a prom dress that I knew I would only wear once? See my point? Well, in April, I decided to ask who made the costumes, and I got a lady to make Cohen a fireman  and Zorro costume for under 30 bucks.

Since Maggie wants a Frozen party, is in love with the character Elsa, and adores playing dress-up, she is going to get a Frozen dress for her birthday. This morning, I went down to Siglo XX, I found the lady that makes princess dresses, and for $25 she is going to duplicate this picture that I found on Pinterest…

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and just like that… a $120 handmade dress just turned into $25. 🙂 I can’t wait to see the finished product.

Elsa Costume for Mags

Writer, Poet, and Illustrator

If you had asked me in elementary school what I wanted to be when I grew up, my response would have been the title to this post. I loved to write my own children’s books, I loved to illustrate them.  Sometimes I made elaborate pop-ups or lift-the-flaps. I won a poetry contest in 5th grade, and I always loved writing the short poems to leave for our camp counselors at summer camp (which usually resulted in us winning cleanest cabin).

It is so much fun to watch our kids grow up.  It is crazy how they remind us of us, isn’t it? I see a lot of Greg in Ana. But I also see a lot of me in her.

This week Ana had to write a story and turn it into a book. I think I had the greatest time helping her with this project. I thoroughly enjoyed helping her revise her story, figure out the lay-out of the book, and then she had no problem illustrating.  That girl loves art. It was so much fun.

So… here’s to my favorite school project up to this point in the Peruvian school system (and the only one on my list thus far). 🙂

working on her illustrations. The book is titled in English, The Two Ballerinas.

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since Mags was in the room, she wanted a pic too.  Her homework was coloring the Inca. July is Peru’s Independence Day month.

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the finished product. She was so excited to take it to school today.

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Writer, Poet, and Illustrator