Reentry: Post 2

A lot has happened that I want to take the time to write about: our celebration Sunday welcoming back our family and the Smiths, how the kids have been dealing with our return, how Greg and I are processing this time. But today, in the midst of my ongoing “look for a job, call and email lots of different people” saga, I wanted to share a story that spoke to my heart the other day.

Cohen has asked me more than once when we are going to go back to our house. I know from questioning him that he is referring to our home in Peru. It is weird for them, because they left before Greg and I sold e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. out of that house. The picture in their mind is just how they left it, everything still in its place. He is also really funny when he asks, “Are we going to stay here forever?” It’s been weird living in a place like visitors for so long. But on one afternoon walk, I explained to him that we would be moving later this year to a completely brand new place, and we would live in our own apartment or house. He thought it was really neat that we would have our own house again.

This week has kind of been a big week for us. I am applying for many different jobs: writing cover letters, answering supplemental questions, scanning and uploading documents. But the other thing is that we will learn whether or not we make it into Fuller housing this week. We have been on the waiting list since this past fall, and the word was that we would find out the first week of May. Fuller housing would be so convenient for us since we only have one car right now. Greg would be on campus, and I could use our car to commute to my job (that I hope to have). It’s also cheaper than the surrounding apartments that we have looked at renting. We really want to hear the news that we got in. It would also be one less headache for us to worry over if we just knew where we were living. But…

We may not get into Fuller housing. It might be one more headache to worry over. It might be one more thing that I have to… have faith that God will provide. The story I want to share is a story that features Cohen praying. On this past Monday, he said the prayer before our lunch and he also prayed before our dinner. He thanks God for everyone sitting around the table. He thanks God for his bicycle and his school, but this past Monday he added something new. And I don’t even think he is aware that this is the week we find out.

“God, thank you for our new house.” There it is. So simple, but so beautiful to this momma’s heart. Cohen knows that we will move to a new house. There is no doubt in his mind that we will move to a new house. What is his attitude? He has never seen this house, but he is already thanking God for it.

Faith like a child. I want to be like Cohen when I grow up. I want to be thankful for my new house.

Reentry: Post 2

CT–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.

The boy. Our sweet, Cohen Timothy. You entered the world as an Arequipeño looking like this…


You will leave as an Arequipeño looking like this…

taken in the Yanahuara Plaza by Eternity Fotos

You couldn’t be more excited to go to Pop’s farm in less than a month. You have no clue what is about to take place.

You cried that Manuela wouldn’t be at the house the last time we returned to Arequipa. You are upset when you don’t get to say goodbye to her when she leaves for the day. When we dropped Etelvina off after spending the afternoon with her, you cried that she wouldn’t come to the house to spend the night. (Ha!) You have such a tender heart, and you have won the hearts of two Peruvian grandmothers for sure. You will miss them so much, but you are so young, your memories will probably only be captured by the pictures we have taken, and believe me, I have taken plenty. 😉

I still thought it would be fun to ask you about your AQP favorites. You have completed an entire year of preschool all in Spanish with your 3 year old class. We are so proud of you. You will change so much by the time we return for our first visit back.

Places to visit:

  1. the playground close to our ASA house
  2. the café (unfortunately, it shut down a few months back)

Foods to eat:

  1. Ají de Gallina
  2. chicken enchiladas (apparently AQP style)
  3. apples and strawberry/vanilla yogurt
  4. Queso Helado

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

firetruck birthday

What is your favorite Arequipa dish?

 Ají de Gallina

What will you miss the most about living here?

 Daddy and Mommy and Manuela (you apparently understand that we aren’t going with you in December)

What are you most excited about moving to the states?

the playroom (Pop and Gram’s) and playing with bicycles and basketballs outside and their playground castle

Anything else???

I am going to miss my playroom upstairs.


CT–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.

CT—3 years old

Look who is three years old!


And look how much you have grown…

Baby newborn Cohen
Baby newborn Cohen
one year old Cohen
one year old Cohen
two year old Cohen
two year old Cohen

It is hard to believe that you have gotten to be such a big boy.  We are planning your 3rd birthday (a bombero party–pictures to come) party, but the 19th is THE DAY.  We will have a mini-celebration with our teammates on your special day.  I made sugar cookies and peanut butter bars to celebrate.

Here are some of the pics I have taken of you recently…

You started school in March with your two big sisters.  You and Maggie leave for school every morning to arrive at 8:30.  Your Spanish is getting better and better.
You started school in March with your two big sisters. You and Maggie leave for school every morning to arrive at 8:30. Your Spanish is getting better and better.
You are crazy about yogurt and apples right now.  Anytime you can get away with a snack in between mealtimes, you go for one of those food items.
You are crazy about yogurt and apples right now. Anytime you can get away with a snack in between mealtimes, you go for one of those food items.
You are still crazy about transportation vehicles.
You are still crazy about transportation vehicles.
We have been so impressed with your puzzle skills.  It is one of your favorite activities to do right now.
We have been so impressed with your puzzle skills. It is one of your favorite activities to do right now.
Your big sisters sure do love you.
Your big sisters sure do love you.
And we wouldn't have it any other way!
And we wouldn’t have it any other way!

Cohen Timothy, we adore you, little one.  You have matured so much in the last few months—starting school was a big part of that.  You are go-with-the-flow most of the time.  You love being outside on the patio riding your bike or out in the sandbox getting dirty.

We really need to set you up with play-doh.  We don’t have any currently, and you have found some of the play-doh toys to play with.  You tell us, “I am playing ‘adobo.'”  Adobo is a famous Arequipan dish.  🙂

You love cee-wee-ul (cereal).  You could eat it for every breakfast and every dinner I believe.  You are usually the first to wake up in the morning.  I will find you playing with your cars in your room or in the playroom, and the first words out of your mouth are, “I want some ceeweeul, please.”

You call most everyone by name correctly.  But one of my favorite names that you mispronounce is Areli’s name.  You call her “Ah-lah-lee.”

If you get to choose a show to watch, you ask for “Thomas the Train,” “Go Gabba Gabba,” or “Monster’s Inko” (Monster’s Inc.!).

You sleep super well at night, and you no longer take afternoon naps.  We find you to be pretty cranky on school days, so it is no surprise that your napless afternoon leads to a 7 pm bedtime.

I have plenty of pictures to blackmail you one day.  Most of them involve princess dresses, tutus, and purses.  You might be receiving some costumes for YOU so that you don’t have to only use your sister’s stuff to play with.  😉

You have shown your stubborn streak and your defiance in the last few months.  You are learning to test the waters.  These occurrences have gotten less and less.  When you are mad, you like to show you are super mad.  But when you are loving, you are super loving.  I guess that makes you a passionate little boy.  I prefer sweet Cohen, though.

Cohen, we love you.  This is your last birthday in Arequipa.  You were born here, and we will never forget the first 3 years of your life spent in this beautiful country.  You may not have many memories because you are so young, but we pray that the memories are kept alive in these photos.  To our little Arequipeño, el príncipe de la casa, ¡Felíz Cumpleaños!

CT—3 years old

My Judah

Cohen hasn’t had his hair cut since before our trip to the states (August).  It was Greg’s job to have it cut, and if you know his daddy… he doesn’t mind the longer hair.  😉  Here is Cohen from just recently:

taken on Christmas Eve
taken on Christmas Eve

Well, today is New Year’s Eve.  I came home from the grocery store to find this little boy:

taken New Year's Eve
taken New Year’s Eve

He was so proud of his new look.  He said, “Look Momma!  (and pointing to his head of no-hair) MY Judah!”

He loves his cousin Judah.  When we were home, he got to spend a lot of time with his older cousin.  Judah had his haircut as all Bills boys for the summer months… a buzz cut.  We are in our summer months, and Cohen now has his summer buzz cut… his daddy’s decision.

Cohen talks about Judah often.  I thought I would post some pics of the two of them from our last furlough.

Nathan and Jenni, I have a feeling that these two would be an absolute disaster together if they lived close to one another all the time.  For now, Cohen will just have to depend on Skyping his cousin while sporting “My Judah” on his head.  🙂

cousin buds
cousin buds
aquarium love
aquarium love
in awe of the farm
in awe of the farm
Gator boys
Gator boys
My Judah!
My Judah!
My Judah

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)