AG–her AQP “lasts” 2014

One thing that experts say is good for expats to do before leaving one of their “homes” is to make a list of their favorite places and plan a “last” visit in order to say goodbye. My kids will return to the states with their Pop and Gram on December 28. We have 29 days left to say some goodbyes. It is a good thing that some of them overlap.

Anastasia Grace, we brought you to Perú looking like this…

taken right before coming in 2008

We are leaving Perú, and you have turned into this…

taken right before coming in 2008

Where does the time go? You are very aware of what is taking place. Your daddy and I have already seen your emotions come out about the move that approaches. You are nervous, scared, happy, excited, apprehensive… all at the same time. Kinda like me. 😉 You are a lot like me because you show your emotions, and it usually comes out in the form of tears. We have told you that it is okay to be sad. It is okay to cry. It is even okay to be mad at us. But it is not okay to not talk about it. It is not okay to lash out at others around you. This will certainly be a journey for all of us, and we realize that out of all three children, you ‘get it’ the most.

Sweet girl, you were born in the states, but you call Arequipa home. You have your favorites, and when I asked you some questions about places you’d like to see and “say good-bye” to before leaving, you didn’t hesitate. I want to remember this list. It will be fun to look over years from now. It will be even more fun for you to visit these places when you come back to AQP for a college summer internship 😉 .

We love you, Anita. What a journey you have already had in this life.

Places to visit:

  1. your jardín at Francisco Rojas School, specifically to say goodbye to your preschool teacher, Miss Kathya
  2. “Ana’s park”–as we call it. It was the great big park that sat diagonally across from our house in Miraflores.
  3. Manuela’s house in Naranjal
  4. the Plaza de Armas

Foods to eat:

  1. crab empanadas and ceviche (good choice, girl. Since it’s on my list too, maybe we should go twice?!)
  2. Manuela’s Atomatada
  3. anticuchos (beef heart) and picarones at Festejo on Ejercito
  4. Ibérica Chocolate
  5. the Lambramani food court
  6. Manuela´s Adobo


What is one of your favorite memories of living in Arequipa?

Our church… we get to see our friends, and sometimes Arelí takes us out.

What is your favorite Arequipa dish?

 That’s a hard one. I have two. Crab empanadas and Adobo.

What will you miss the most about living here?

 I will miss Manuela the most, because I love her dishes (food) and where she lives.

What are you most excited about moving to the states?

Going to a new school and making new friends

Anything else???:

  • I love Misti, because it reminds me about friends and family from our church in Arequipa.
  • I am excited that I will still get to see Shaye in the United States.
  • I am going to miss all of my friends in school, especially my teacher named Miss Angela.
AG–her AQP “lasts” 2014

Esta es mi tierra; Es mi Perú.


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.




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.





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!



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.


The primary grades singing “Es Mi Peru.”



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!”


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


Esta es mi tierra; Es mi Perú.


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.

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.


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


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


Writer, Poet, and Illustrator

AG—7 years old

It is so hard to believe that the 17 month old baby we brought to Arequipa in 2008 is now SEVEN years old.  Ana started second grade during her birth month, and Greg and I both reflected on some very vivid memories we have from second grade.  This is a big year for her.  She is well aware that it is her last school year in Peru, and I guess it feels like a blessing and a curse that she will have so many memories.  A blessing because I want her to remember the wonderful people of Peru and the work our family was able to participate in, but a curse because I dread the heartache she will feel for when we leave.

We couldn’t be prouder of our first born.  She is so tender hearted and loving toward those around her.  She is a great helper in the house and especially with her younger siblings.  And she is in a place where she reflects on the good she observes along with the evil.  We enjoy her developmental process and all the questions she asks.  On the flip side, she is 7 going on 13.  We discuss at the beginning of each week one thing that we need God’s help with in the week.  Ana’s answer many times is her attitude.  🙂  She knows she isn’t perfect, and I love that she already can recognize when her attitude isn’t reflecting the attitude of Christ.

She requested a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and a Frozen slumber party.  She chose Chili’s as our birthday family outing date, and she wanted Nachos for her birthday slumber party dinner (can you tell she is a fan of Tex-Mex).  Ana, here are some pictures to keep the memories alive.  Here is to your last birthday celebration in this chapter of our time in Arequipa.

She requested  cinnamon rolls for house church on her actual birthday since it fell on a Sunday.


I can always count on Ana to want to help with her birthday cake.  She loves to cook and bake with me in the kitchen.DSC_0002

Her birthday cake was a chocolate lover’s dream, and the strawberries were “the icing on the cake”… wait a minute.  🙂DSC_0008


taking some pictures before our family lunch date outing for the birthday girlDSC_0012 DSC_0014 DSC_0015 DSC_0016 DSC_0017 DSC_0018 DSC_0019

She has ALWAYS been a Daddy’s girl.DSC_0020

You can’t eat at Chili’s and not order the skillet queso.DSC_0021

and our 7 year-old went for ribs.  The girl has got some good taste.DSC_0022

birthday presents!!!DSC_0024

Let the slumber party begin!DSC_0025 DSC_0026 DSC_0028

She chose Nachos for her birthday dinner.DSC_0031

making a wishDSC_0032 DSC_0034 DSC_0037

her big present from Daddy and Momma was a Cajón, a type of drum that originated in PerúDSC_0038 DSC_0040

her first Youtube lessonDSC_0041 DSC_0043 DSC_0044

It was a little late, but part of her birthday gift was a girls outing for lunch and manicures.  We finally had a good time to do it.  Momma, Maggie, and Ana headed out for lunch, and they met Areli for manicures.

Ana chose Burger King for her lunch.DSC_0138

we were fascinated with the intricate designs they could doDSC_0140 DSC_0141 DSC_0142

Maggie gearing up for her turnDSC_0143

Ana’s almost finished productDSC_0144 DSC_0145

Ooo-Lah-Lah!DSC_0146 DSC_0147 DSC_0148

Maggie’s finished productDSC_0149 DSC_0152

All three of us got manicures for a grand total of 30 soles (that is just over 10 bucks)DSC_0153

hangin’ with the coolest chica we know in ArequipaDSC_0156

AG—7 years old

Ana and Art 2014

Ana's art class on a field trip
Ana’s art class on a field trip

Something I have discovered here that I LOVE is the classes offered during the summer months.  Institutes and schools offer “talleres,” or workshops, to kids of all ages during January and February.  One can find classes for instruments, dance, art, swimming, etc.  Ana took swimming classes last year.

Ana got some Christmas money from her grandparents, and we decided to put it toward an art class this January.  She meets 3 times a week, 2 hours at a time.  She loves art, and this class has not disappointed us.  We live in a culture of many “starving” artists.  Arequipa values art, and it is not a surprise to see an art exhibit in the city center or displayed in a place for the people to notice.

Today, I enjoyed accompanying her on a class field trip.  I have been so impressed with the various techniques she has been learning.  Today was no exception.  The teacher, her “profe,” took them to a popular spot in Arequipa (walking distance from their art institute) to sit in the grass and paint the trees around them.  It was a beautiful morning, and I had a lot of fun taking pictures.  The profe actually recruited me to take pictures of the whole class in action for him to use in a pamphlet.

We are so proud of Ana and her love of something so creative.  It has been fun to see her learn actual art techniques.  We are already considering another art class for February, and possibly signing her up for something throughout the school year.  Might as well for the price! 😉

AG in tree art action
AG in tree art action


her profe let her use his really cool art stand set-up
her profe let her use his really cool art stand set-up
Ana isn't content with just trees.  She had to add a fountain and the volcano Misti.
Ana isn’t content with just trees. She had to add a fountain and the volcano Misti.

Some other art pieces she has brought home this month…

painting a vase sitting on the table that day
painting a vase sitting on the table that day
exploring color combinations
exploring color combinations


potato stamp art
potato stamp art
potato stamp art
potato stamp art
potato stamp art
potato stamp art
Ana and Art 2014

Furlough Funnies 2013 (before I forget)

Ana and Maggie in the play area of the Dallas airport.
Ana and Maggie in the play area of the Dallas airport.

Ana funny:

We had a long lay-over in the Dallas airport on our way home.  They have these really great carpeted areas with equipment to climb and play on and plenty of space to run.  The first area where the kids played, I see Ana stand up on the plane in the middle of the area with all the other kids (mine and strangers) around her.  “Okay!” she announces in a loud voice, “Now we are going to play a game, but you can only speak in Spanish.”  I immediately called her name, and she came running over to me.  I explained that we were now in the USA, and she couldn’t expect other kids to be fluent in both English and Spanish.  Ha!

Fast forward to playing in another area in different wing of the airport…  Ana finds a new friend wherever we go.  Lo and behold I see her playing with a new friend that looks about 4 years old.  I observe that she is chasing this little girl who is one of the “Three Little Pigs” and Ana is the “Wolf.”  (My kids have recently taken a liking to the old classic Disney cartoons of the Three Little Pigs on Netflix).  I motion her over to me.  “Ana, you can’t play games like that with just anyone.  A lot of little kids are scared of things like wolves.  Can you pick something different to play with her?”  Ana thinks for a moment, “Oh yeah, Mom.  Like princesses?”  I agree with her and say that it is a great idea to play princesses.  Ana turns to the little girl, and this is what I overhear AG saying, “OK, you can be Snow White, and I can be the witch.”  (me: head in palm)  Ha!

Maggie and Cohen outside at “Gram and Pop’s house”

Maggie funny:

We had been aware of our furlough dates for quite some time.  I, of course, shared the plans with the kids and later regretted it because they asked for 6 months solid, “How much longer until the United States, Momma?”  They were also aware that we were going to “the farm” aka “Gram and Pop’s house” for the first part of our trip.  So “When are we going to the US?” changed to “When are going to Gram and Pop’s house?”

When we were finally in our first weeks of being in the USA, one Wednesday night at church my little Maggie was so worn out.  She had played on the farm all day, and she was ready to go home and go to bed.  We were in the church lobby area when she looked at me, and said, “Momma, I really want to go back to the United States.”  It was at this point that I realized she equated the United States to “Gram and Pop’s house.”  Ha!

Momma and Cohen at Jeannie's wedding
Momma and Cohen at Jeannie’s wedding


Cohen funny:

I returned 2 weeks early so that I could attend my best friend’s wedding.  My mom so graciously kept my kids for 3 extra days so that I could go see my best friend, spend some quality time with her before the wedding, and be there child-free.  I was so excited to see them when they arrived with my parents to the actual wedding.  Cohen is my little boy with two older princess-loving sisters.  He is very aware of princess lingo.  I was so excited to show Jeannie, the bride, my little boy that isn’t so little anymore.  I took him up to the bridal chamber and when he saw Jeannie, he immediately commented, “Momma, look!  A “PIN-SESS!”  I thought that was so sweet.

The funny came toward the end of the wedding.  After the ceremony, eating, visiting, and dancing, it was well past my kids’ bedtime.  Jeannie and Siran were making their exit in front of the building where the reception had been held.  As we were walking around to the front as a family, I noticed Cohen was very sleepy-eyed.  He looked up at me and said, “Momma, I tired.  No more pin-sess.  No more pincess.”  Ha!


Furlough Funnies 2013 (before I forget)

sweet momentsAugust 2013

August 2013…

Ana (6), Mags (4), Cohen (2)
Ana (6), Mags (4), Cohen (2)

Ana Grace, last night you read the Bible story to the family.  Your reading is getting better and better, and as you read, you even like to point out how you would have written a sentence differently.  From the eyes of a momma that teaches reading comprehension, you make me so proud!  You complained of not being able to go to sleep (maybe too much Inka Cola at house church?).  We told you to go up to bed and try to sleep.  An hour later we were hearing a voice talking.  I went to check and see which child was “sleep talking.”  You had turned your bedside lamp on and were reading aloud.  The story I got to listen in on was “Are You My Mother.”  We are so proud of you, sweet big sister.

dressed for Arequipa Day
dressed for Arequipa Day

Maggie Kate, you love to get away with not working.  We are having to learn how to discipline you in this area since it isn't fair to your big sister.  Your teacher told me that you are more advanced than the other kids in many areas of learning, but you use an excuse that I hear too often.  You say, “But I am not big enough.  I am not 5 yet.”  You use this excuse when you don't want to do work or homework.  You are a little stinker!  But that work ethic didn't show in your memory verse this month.  You memorized (with much ease, I must say) your verse in Spanish.  Every day you would quote it aloud to whoever would listen.  When it came your turn yesterday at our celebration worship, you spouted it out in front of everyone with ease.  My goodness, it makes us proud.  You are a big girl!  And I cannot wait to see all of those “smarts” used for the glory of God.

dressed for Arequipa Day
dressed for Arequipa Day

Cohen Timothy, my little love bug.  You are at such a precious stage, and it will break my heart when you no longer want to hug and kiss me as much as you do now.  You are fascinated with moving vehicles, and you love to say the word of a vehicle you hear over and over and over until someone acts excited with you.  🙂  You are sure to place your cars and trucks into a purse and then put your purse in a backpack when we go out of the house.  You are talking so much, and it is so fun to be with you every day in this stage.  You also quoted your memory verse yesterday in front of everyone.  When by yourself, you say, “Jesus… dijo… camino!!!” and then you clap for yourself.  This morning you lined up all of your chairs, and said, “Thomas Train!”  Your sisters would have been putting their babies to sleep at that age.  I also don't want to forget that you love to say our visitor's name, Catherine.  But you say, “Cafrin.”  So cute!  We are so proud of our little boy, and we love you so much.

in your “train”
sweet momentsAugust 2013