Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The rainy week(s)...

This past week was a week of spending time with family and friends. I enjoy going back to the 'Burg, only because of the people I get to see while I'm there. The city itself makes me feel a bit dispirited. I suppose living away for so long has done that. So many parts of the city appear to be in shambles and it makes me wonder if it was really like that all the while that I lived there and I was unable to realize its state until I was away for some time. However, reliving some memories in my mind help me to regain some nostalgia for my home town.

I was able to visit with some of my closest friends from high school and as one of them told me after our visit - the time spent this past week only made me crave more time with them. If only we all lived closer to each other. But for the time being, the good ol' 'Burg serves as a good central meeting place for us all, so I am grateful for that.

Likewise, the time spent with my family made me covet more time to spend with them; my grandparents in particular. I found myself realizing that I will never feel satisfied by the amount of time I am able to visit with them now; how I wish I lived closer to them as well. I admire my grandparents so and hope that when I am their age, I can look upon my marriage as the success theirs has been. They are both amazing people with captivating stories of their past.

I was also able to make a visit to New Hampshire to visit with two dear friends. It was not long enough and we all felt a little ill after eating so much cheese, ha! Our attempt at fondue didn't come out as well as we'd hoped, but I look forward to another attempt soon. Although perhaps we'll venture a different activity next time. I always enjoy our time together, no matter what we happen to be doing.

I was able to cross number fifty off my list this week; I went to the library down the street from my house and obtained a membership - I suppose I could call it that. I was disappointed to learn that they don't give out library cards anymore! Haha, for some reason I was looking forward to having one to keep in my wallet. All that was required was for the librarian to enter me into the computer. At any rate, I can check books out now, and I exercised that liberty immediately. I looked for Jane Austen, so I could get a start on another line on my list, but they only owned one copy each of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, and they were both checked out.

I found a copy of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and checked that out instead. I've hardly been able to put it down; she is an amazing writer and I feel in awe as I read about the times in which she lived. Although the novel is fiction, researching information about Charlotte Bronte and her sisters finds that many of the events I've read in this novel thus far correlate to things that she experienced or witnessed herself as a child. I also learned that she had to tag the novel with a male pen name in order for it to get published and accepted by the public. This has propelled me to think of how far our society has come, but also about how far we've yet to go in other areas.

I also checked out a book for Kylie called The Rainy Day - I felt it well suited because of our recent weather. She had me read it to her a dozen times in one day and she also "read" it to me several times. She "reads" now by telling the story she sees through the pictures and she also recalls much of the story from my readings to her. I took her to the library the very next day to pick out two books of her own choosing. She ended up choosing a book about airplanes and a book about Santa Claus. I didn't do anything to discourage the choice of a book about Santa Claus in June; I love to see her excitement over books and hope to foster it as much as I can.

Since the library doesn't own copies of Jane Austen's Emma or Mansfield Park, I've decided to use the Barnes and Noble gift card I've been holding onto to donate a copy of each. It's a small library, but very well maintained by the volunteers and I feel lucky to live within walking distance from it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Mmmmm, strawberries.


I truly believe there is no better taste on this earth than a strawberry picked right from the vine and placed straight into my mouth!

Kylie and I happily braved the overcast sky and soggy earth to go on our first strawberry picking trip of the summer. It was well worth the trip; the berries were huge! Plenty to pick from, but the owner told me they'll probably be picked out by tomorrow afternoon until the next bunch ripens. And they put plenty of straw on the ground between the rows, so it wasn't muddy at all.

Kylie absolutely loves looking for the reddest berries...and of course she thinks being able to eat them right off the vine is just the coolest thing in the world. She must have told me at least fifteen times on the ride home, "Mama, I love strawberry picking." So needless to say, we'll be returning plenty of times this summer.

We go to Doles Orchard in Limington. They have a lot of different varieties of strawberries, so they'll have them into the fall. But they'll also have raspberries, blueberries, plums, peaches, and apples when they're ready. It's a family-run orchard and they are so nice and laid back; very family friendly. If you're interested in going, just give them a quick call before you head over to make sure they're not picked out. I've never had it happen, but apparently it does from time to time and it would stink to drive out there for nothing!

Now to make that fresh strawberry pie...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Lights, camera, action!

Movies, movies, and more movies. I decided to load a new list onto my blog at the left to easily keep track of the AFI list movies I watch. Of course, I've seen several of them already, but I've decided to re-watch any I've previously seen. I loaded all of them into my Netflix queue so they're all ready to go - I didn't realize how many of these movies have been remade...some of them multiple times! I had to be careful to find the originals.

I know I'm not going to like some of these movies. I'm curious to see how many of them I actually will like. I might be surprised. I'm excited to see the old Charlie Chaplin films...sad to say, I've never seen any of them! But this is why I put this on my list - whether I like them or not, I want to be able to know what people are talking about when they reference a classic.

I love Netflix, by the way. So worth the inexpensive monthly fee. So many of the movies I put in my queue today are available to stream online, so I can get a start on my list tonight!

Another note - the AFI list has been updated a couple of times since the original list. I decided to stick to the original for now and save the more recent additions for the next 101 list.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A bit ambitious?

If this list looks a bit too ambitious to you, please keep these things in mind. The purpose of this project is not to achieve 100% success. Growth and learning can be achieved through failure. The purpose of this project is to get my focus on what is important in my life and to help me learn how to work with long term goals. It's my hope that through this project, I may start living my life more fully. :-)

I'll be blogging about my progress throughout the next 2.75 years!

By the way, I started this project because a friend referred me to this website: www.dayzeroproject.com -- check it out!

The list.

For easy reference, this list will always show to the left of my blog.

101 things to do in 1001 days - beginning 6/12/09

*Completed tasks will look like this.*
1. Watch the sun set on a quiet beach.
2. Watch the sun rise on a quiet beach.
3. Send a message in a bottle.
4. Get fries on the OOB pier.
5. Read all of the LOTR books (finally). (0/4)
6. Read four Jane Austen novels - Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, and Emma. (0/4)
7. Watch all movies on the AFI 100 list. (0/100)
8. Learn to knit and knit ten scarves. (0/10)
9. Knit one afghan/blanket.
10. Mail a secret to PostSecret.
11. Listen to 101 new (to me) albums. (0/101)
12. Get the Daigle family crest tattooed on my back.
13. Settle on a design and get my foot tattoo.
14. Go to 101 live music performancese, any genre. (0/101)
15. Learn ten line/party dances, any genre.
16. Have two songs and two monologues prepared.
17. Go to the drive-in four times. (0/4)
18. Organize a water balloon fight.
19. Go to a comedy show.
20. Ride in a hot air balloon.
21. Host a themed potluck dinner.
22. Ten fruit-picking trips. (0/10)
23. Take a ride on the train in North Conway.
24. At least 15 visits to NH to see J. (0/15)
25. At least 15 visits to MA to see my grandparents. (0/15)
26. See a Blue Man Group performance.
27. See a Broadway show...on Broadway.
28. Find ten letterboxes. (0/10)
29. Go on 35 official dates with my husband! (0/35)
30. Go on eight different camping trips. (0/8)
31. Visit and explore Acadia National Park.
32. Visit my family in Canada.
33. Set a date for a trip to Guatemala.
34. Build a team to go to Guatemala.
35. Organize eight group fundraisers for the Guatemala trip.
36. Attend Alex's birthday parties. (0/2)
37. Go on vacation with J to the west coast.
38. Attend two Sea Dogs games. (0/2)
39. Attend two Pirates games. (0/2)
40. Visit and explore Gisland Farms.
41. Go to the Yarmouth Clam Festival.
42. Hike Douglas Mountain.
43. Visit the Victoria Mansion at Christmas time.
44. Explore Fort Williams more.
45. Visit the Portland Museum of Art.
46. Go to the Fryeburg Fair both years. (0/2)
47. Complete the Rosetta Stone in Spanish.
48. Complete the Rosetta Stone in Italian.
49. Learn 50 songs on guitar. (0/50)
50. Get a local library card.
51. Acquire a copy of Oxford's New Concise World Atlas.
52. Watch "An Inconvenient Truth".
53. Watch "The Commanding Heights of the Economy".
54. Read "Fast Food Nation".
55. Graduate from college and find a teaching job!
56. Make and send a care package to a soldier.
57. Mail 50 hand written notes to family members or friends, excluding Christmas cards. (0/50)
58. Sing in a nursing home 10 times. (0/10)
59. Complete 101 anonymous acts of kindness. (0/101)
60. Give blood six times. (0/6)
61. Write at least 25 songs. (1/25)
62. Record 1 song and upload it on myspace or youtube.
63. Bake 35 pies, decorated cakes, or fancy cookies. (0/35)
64. Make 10 handmade gifts for people I care about. (0/10)
65. Go to a "paint your own pottery" place and make something cool.
66. Write a children's book.
67. Make sock puppets.
68. Host a tea party for my daughter and her friends.
69. Take my daughter to a kid-friendly musical.
70. Take my daughter to The Butterfly Place.
71. Take my daughter to FunTown.
72. Visit the Children's Museum in Portland.
73. Take my daughter to see The Nutcracker.
74. Enroll my daughter in a dance class.
75. Enroll my daughter in a gymnastics class.
76. Help my daughter fully potty train (with the exception of night time pull-ups) by September 1, 2009.
77. Write 10 letters for my daughter to read when she gets older and place them in the safe deposit box.
78. Put all of my digital pictures on the passport and place it in the safe deposit box.
79. Put serial numbers, makes, and models of all my instruments and electronic equipment on the passport and place it in the safe deposit box.
80. Write down my "after death wishes" and place them in the safe deposit box.
81. Decorate our daughter's bedroom.
82. Decorate our bedroom.
83. Have nice pictures taken of mommy, daddy, and our little girl together.
84. Plant a tulip garden.
85. Plant blueberries and strawberries in the back yard.
86. Plant lilacs in the yard.
87. Read my Bible every day.
88. Boycott fast food for one month.
89. Create a healthier habit of going to bed by 10pm on weeknights and midnight on weekends.
90. Lose 10 pounds.
91. Lose another 10 pounds.
92. Lose another 10 pounds.
93. Lose another 10 pounds.
94. Lose another 10 pounds.
95. Lose another 10 pounds.
96. Lose another 10 pounds.
97. Lose another 10 pounds.
98. Lose another 10 pounds.
99. Lose another 10 pounds.
100. Go lacto-ovo vegetarian.
101. Obtain my lifeguard certification again.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Or not...





Many things have kept me from writing more about Guatemala, but mainly, I've been too busy. The terrible thing about this is that I've been unnecessarily busy with things that I will likely find insignificant later on in life. BUT...I have a plan. ;-)

The problem - I keep myself busy with things that I am not necessarily passionate about and that bring me little long-term fulfillment.

The plan - I am currently formulating a list of 101 things to do in 1001 days, an idea given to me by a friend. She referred me to this site: www.dayzeroproject.com

I've been fervently working on my list all night. I can't stop thinking about it. I've only got 33 things on the list so far, but they are good ones! One thousand one days is about 2.75 years, so this will be a lot of long-term goal setting...which I love and need to do more of.

Ever feel like you're just not living your life as much as you should be? That's one thing that I really took from the Guatemala trip. How much time have I wasted getting trapped in the mundane routine of day-to-day things, months and months on end, only to suffocate the potential of both personal growth and growth of things that really matter in life - like relationships with other people.

As I compile my list, I think of how alive I felt out in that Guatemalan heat; helping those villagers who had so little but so much at the same time. I think of how alive I felt standing on the top of one of those ancient Mayan ruins; looking out above the jungle tree canopy and breathing the clear, clean air.

I think of how I don't want to waste any more time in my life. I don't want to keep putting off the ambiguous goals I've had in my head for years but somehow haven't found the time to work on them. So now I'll get specific - I'll name those goals and I'll put them on my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days. Think of all the possibilities!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

To be continued.

I have a lot more to say about my experience in Guatemala, but I'm feeling so overwhelmed with the emotions of what happened in the last few days of our trip and in coming home that I feel I need some time to just let it soak.

So please be patient with me.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Coming together.


It's pretty darn cool to see how each of us on this team work together. Seriously, we've got the perfect mixture of personalities and skills - strengths and weaknesses - going on here. Every necessity has been covered without us even consciously trying! Some of us a born leaders and some of us are the git-er-done-ers. No stone has been left unturned. Pretty cool if you ask me.

After two days of hard work, Bryan took us to one of the villages that he has been seeing and teaching for a while now. Their health has improved greatly since he first started visiting them. There were more people going through the line that didn't even need vitamins, whereas everyone we saw in the last two villages needed them. The people were also more accustomed to seeing Americans and they were therefore more open with us. There was still a language barrier, but they joked with us and laughed when we started goofing around (this happens to be a well-shared gift on our team, haha).

Ryan provided great entertainment while he was trying to fix one of our tarp ropes that kept coming undone in the wind. Every time he fixed the rope onto the nail and then went to tie it onto the stake, the rope would slip off the nail and a group of villagers near by would start giggling. The more he tried, the quicker it came undone and the louder the group would laugh!

During a lull in the line for skin treatment and worm medication, Kristin and I started playing a clapping game and tried to get a group of young boys to join us. I would clap a rhythm and Kristin would echo me. The boys didn't seem to want to join in, but after they went around the corner we could hear them immitating us. Kristin went to find el bano later on and the same group of boys were playing the game together on the other side of the hill.

I really enjoyed playing with the children today. Some of the toddlers and babies cry when they go through our line because they don't like having the worm medication squirted in their mouths with a syringe. I had a great time trying to get these kiddos to stop crying. I carried around Alana's "jungle peep" in my pocket and made it dance and peep for them. I was wearing a bright scrub top and my huge goofy purple sunglasses and I think the combination of that and seeing this big American lady bouncing around made them forget why they were crying in the first place. It worked like a charm and pretty much made my day.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A bigger picture.


I'm going to try to put into words part of what has been on my mind these past two days.

We've spent the last two days handing out vitamins and medicines to people in remote villages. These people have no electricity, no running water, and the majority of them have only corn tortillas and coffee to eat every day.

Our team saw some severely malnourished children today and yesterday. Bryan explained that if a mother isn't able to breastfeed her baby, she'll give that baby soda in a bottle if they can afford it and if they can't the baby will drink coffee from a bottle. These people don't realize that there is no nutrition for a baby in soda or coffee so that is all the baby will get. This is one of the reasons for the high mortality rate for children in this area. Bryan comes in with his teams to educate the people but even with the knowledge of what a baby needs to survive, the majority of the people can not afford to provide it. So Bryan gives those people baby formula and liquid vitamins.

Another big problem is worms. Bryan explained to us tonight that the people here get the parasites from walking through animal feces and being in and drinking contaminated water. So many of the children we saw had distended bellies and Bryan tells us that these distended bellies are filled with worms. If the families are fortunate enough to have enough corn tortillas to feed all their children, the very little nutrition the child receives from the tortillas is consumed by the worms before the child can digest any of it. I can go into further, horrible detail but I will refrain from doing so on this blog. If you want to know more, ask me.

The good news is that Bryan is able to give these people worm medication that kills the worms and keeps them away for six months. We saw about 400 people both today and yesterday and gave out worm medication to all who needed it. Bryan visits about 137 villages with different teams throughout the year. Some of these villages he visits every six months, some of them every three months if the conditions are bad, and some of them only every year if their conditions have improved enough. So this means that Bryan and the teams that come help him are making a huge impact on the health and ultimately the quality of life of the people in this area.

I feel so grateful to be a small part of this. I've realized over the past two days how incredibly desensitized we really are in the states. We are so busy with our day to day lives that we don't have time to pay attention to what happens in other parts of the world. Many of us put ourselves in extreme situations of stress just so that we can have a nicer car or a bigger house or the latest technology or this or that. Now I realize this is a huge generalization, and we are going through tough economic times in our country, but I think you'll agree that we as Americans are still very fortunate despite our current economic difficulties. Unfortunately, it really took coming here and actually seeing how those living in this area live for me to realize how extremely fortunate I am to have all that I have at home. Every time I look at a child here all I can think about is my daughter and how very, very fortunate I am to have the means to give her everything she needs to be healthy. It opened my eyes to a much bigger picture and I will never take what I have for granted ever again. That is why, as much as this is a ministry for the people here in Guatemala and even though I came here to serve them, this really has been even more of a ministry to me.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Speachless

I am so grateful to have been able to come down here to Guatemala. I can't even explain how this is moving things around inside me.

Monday, March 23, 2009

I'll never forget it.

awesome [aw-suh m] -adjective 1. inspiring awe: an awesome sight. 2. showing or characterized by awe. 3. Slang. very impressive: That new white convertible is totally awesome.

Today was truly awesome.

We spent the morning and part of the afternoon preparing for tomorrow. We had to go through the pharmacy kits and take inventory of what was in there. We did a lot of counting pills and restocking.

After we finished, we all loaded up in the pick up and Bryan took us to do some sight seeing, Jungle Medic-style. We drove many, many miles down a bumpy dirt road (which they are actually in the beginning stages of transforming into a paved road) until we came to a small river in the middle of the jungle. Bryan had asked two boys from a neighboring village to meet us there with canoes. The canoes were hand made, hollowed out tree trunks. The boys paddled us up the river, which was flanked on both sides by cliffs so high you could swear they were touching the clouds. It looked like something from Jurassic Park, with vines hanging from the trees and monkeys jumping from tree to tree overhead. Bryan explained that the area had once been a giant cave with water flowing beneath it. Over time the water eroded the cave so much that it collapsed. There were giant boulders everywhere; once jagged fallen pieces of cave rock that had become smooth and unevenly worn over time. We came to some land and most of my team members opted to float back down the river with the current while three of us remained in the canoes for the ride back, keeping everyone's cameras and towels dry (the canoes were a little leaky).

We took a shorter, soggier ride to another spot where we did some light hiking to a beautiful, tropical waterfall. The water falling down was from a hot spring - Bryan said it was probably around 108 degrees. The pool of water beneath the waterfall was perfect bath water temperature. We swam out to the waterfall and in the small cave behind it. Bryan said the hot spring water above is filled with sulfur and is known by the locals as having a quick healing effect. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in my life. It was somewhat surreal; I couldn't believe we were actually there! While half the group checked out some other pools and caves, the rest of us hung back and soaked in the amazement. Bryan baptized three of us in that pool before we hiked back to the pickup and saw the returning scenery with a new perspective of God's awesomeness.

The great Scorpion King

Here it is, friends. Enjoy!
video

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Amazing.


This country is absolutely beautiful. I've never seen such lush green in my life. We saw some gorgeous sites during the drive from Honduras to Guatemala.

Our journey from the U.S. to Guatemala went smoothly. I got a little nervous when Bryan told us he needed some hydrocortisone cream to give to the police officer at the Honduras/Guatemala border to get us across, but it all worked out. He stopped at a pineapple stand on our way to his home and he bought us all some fresh pineapple to try. It was absolutely delicious - right off the tree!

Bryan's home is amazing. It overlooks a beautiful river. The girls' dorm is on the second floor and the guys' is on the third. On the first floor is the emergency room that Bryan operates out of, so if any emergencies happen in the middle of the night, we'll be right here to help. This will be our home base for the week.

We had a relaxing night to recover from the long day of travel and prepare for the work ahead. We shared a dinner of Guatemalan style tacos, which consisted of a hard tortilla, lettuce, and a mixture of chicken and I'm not sure what. You could top it with ranch sauce, mayo, and/or home made salsa, which is nothing like salsa in the states. It was good! For dessert we had frozen bananas (grown in Bryan's back yard) dipped in chocolate/peanut butter sauce. Bryan said he got a great deal on peanut butter a few months ago from the states...LOL.

After dinner Marlini, the nurse who works and lives at the home base, took me, Kristin, Ryan, and Pat to the town in Rio Dulce to pick up some groceries. Marlini told us it was her first time driving. I think she was joking. But seriously, all the people down here drive like they're drunk and I haven't seen a seat belt yet!

To top the night off, when we returned Matt awed and disgusted us all by eating a live scorpion. Pat captured it on video. I'll try to post it tomorrow but I'm wiped for now and it is going to be an early morning! We can't wait to get into the villages and meet the people.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Don't drink the water.

My doctor loaded me up with six different prescriptions. "Take this one just in case this happens...take that one just in case that happens...and don't drink the water!"

I took a malaria prevention pill early this week, but don't tell my trip leader. She swears they'll make me wicked sick. But I figure it can't be worse than actually getting malaria, right? I'll take my chances. ;-)

This week was a challenge with fighting a sinus infection. I was able to get a lot of really good sleep last night though so that made me feel like a new person. Now my mind is focused on getting finished what I want/need to do before I leave...and of course on my baby girl and husband. I don't want to leave them. I'm experiencing some serious separation anxiety and I haven't even left yet. I know it will all be okay and we're all safe in God's hands, but being away from my baby girl for nine days is going to hurt.

I'm trying instead to focus on the mission and on keeping my mind and heart open to whatever God has in store.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Seven days.

It's becoming more real now. In seven days I'll be on a plane to Honduras and then on my way to the jungle in Guatemala. It's a strange feeling. Mostly because while it's my first journey of this sort and required some stepping out in faith, there's also the understanding that this really isn't the most arduous or formidable form of mission work. While I am so grateful to have the opportunity to serve the people in Guatemala for this short while and receive a slap of reality in how our southern neighbors live, I find myself pondering how I can take what I learn in Guatemala and make a difference in my every day life. In other words, I don't want to leave what I learn and experience in Guatemala for the next short-term foreign mission trip.

More than anything, what is most real to me right now is the conviction in my heart that I need to make some serious changes in the way I live my life. I suspect that the next three weeks will reinforce that conviction in a way I can't yet fathom.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Twenty one days?!





Wow, I can't believe there are only 21 days left until I travel with 14 friends to Guatemala. These past seven months (has it really been that long?!) have been such a journey within themselves. The fundraising, oh the fundraising. When I first decided I had to be a part of this mission, I knew I wouldn't be able to afford to pay for it on my own. Seven months of hard fundraising - popcorn sales, the spaghetti dinner, the chili cook-off, dessert auctions, and lots of fundraising letters asking for help from friends and family - and I was able to raise about half the cost of the trip! How awesome is that?! Still, at the beginning of this endeavor I knew I wouldn't have enough to put toward the trip, but God provided and I was able to come up with the other half. Amazing...

Now with 21 days before we travel to the jungle, I've started packing! I'm allowed to take two checked pieces of luggage and one carry on. One of the checked will have my clothes, the other will be stuffed with supplies for Bryan (a.k.a. the jungle medic). I went to Goodwill and bought an inexpensive used suitcase so I can leave it there with Bryan - when he delivers a baby, he'll stuff the suitcase I left with donated diapers, formula, and a baby blanket and give it to the family to take home to their hut. They'll use my $7 Goodwill suitcase as a baby bassinet so the baby won't have to sleep on a grass mat on the dirt floor of their hut. This is only one small realization of what I'm going to see first hand when I get down there.

For the contents of my Goodwill suitcase for the trip down, I've stuffed it with baby blankets that Kylie doesn't need (how sad it makes me that we've got seven blankets to spare, but many families down there don't even have a blanket to cover their newborns in), medical supplies that friends have donated (tylenol products, vitamins, ibuprofen, anti-itch cream), a set of twin sheets to use in the dormitory while we're down there and leave for Bryan to use after I leave, and a set of bath towels to do the same with. I've got a little room left and I'd like to put in a box or two of non-latex medical gloves - size large or extra-large if possible - if anyone would be able to donate I would greatly appreciate it.

I am so excited about this trip - I can't believe I have to wait 21 more days, but at the same time I can't believe there are only 21 days left! Haha! The same dichotomy exists in my mind regarding the impact this trip is going to have on me. Part of me doesn't know what to expect, but the other knows that it's going to change my perspective on a lot of things in a big way. No matter how it affects me personally, I look forward to being able to help the people in those villages with my two hands and reaching out to them with my heart. I pray that this mission blesses them ten times more than I could ever imagine being blessed myself and I am so grateful to be able to help in the small way that I can.

If any of you don't know about what Bryan does down in Guatemala, check out his newly revamped website - www.junglemedicmissions.org

*Photos are from www.junglemedicmissions.org