Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Owens in Guatemala: Live What You Believe

People who live what they believe are my heroes.

I thought I did a good job at that until we moved to Guatemala and I saw how much more needed to be done. Living in a third world country changes you. You either become callused to the poverty, or you try to make a difference. Now, there's no way I can be unappreciative of the daily blessings in my life and I do my best to help make positive changes for those who don't have those blessings.

One of the teachers I taught with in Guatemala, Lindsey Owens, and her husband, David, are doing something I can't right now and helping start an orphanage. Here's their story:

Check out their journey here:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hauling Books by Plane or by Donkey

Packing everything to move across the ocean can be intimidating with weight and baggage restrictions, but the part I've been trying to figure out the most is the homeschooling supplies. It's hard to know which manipulatives are worth their weight in luggage to take and which ones are better to leave.
And books. Books are particularly heavy and particularly necessary for any type of curriculum. I'm carrying them via plane. This man, Luis Soriano, believes in the necessity of reading enough to create a way to bring books to the isolated communities in Columbia. He has a round trip of eight hours on his "Biblioburro," or donkey library just bringing books so children can do research for homework or have a chance to read. He made my worries about getting enough books where we are going seem very small.

I want my children to love to read, I know how much easier it is to learn if you have good reading skills. I've seen what the lack of those skills can do to students. I also know that even if we can't take much of a physical library, we have many Kindle and online resources and, as Luis showed with educating kids to read- when there's a will, there's a way.

"Luis Soriano who started the Biblioburro initiative, also opened La Gloria's first library thanks in part to donations received from Ayoka's film viewers.
For more information:"

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Superlative Alert - United Arab Emirates: A Video Tour

For those of you who don't enjoy/remember grammar, a superlative is an adjective, (that's a describing word,) that ranks something in the most extreme form. Usually you create a superlative by adding -est to the end of the adjective: tallest, biggest, greatest, richest... all words you will probably hear in this video tour of the United Arab Emirates. I'll leave it up to you to decide whether the superlatives are exaggerating or deserved:

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

How to fit your life in a suitcase

Oh wait, I actually wish I could find a nice, concise list showing how to do this. Especially for moving overseas.

When we moved to Guatemala, Ben drove through Texas and down through Mexico in a Toyota 4Runner- providing quite a bit more packing space! This especially impacted the heavier home/kitchen items I was able to bring. This time that's not an option.

Flying to Abu Dhabi with everything you own in a suitcase presents several challenges. Since Etihad, the Abu Dhabi-owned airlines, weighs even carry on luggage- (15 pounds or less,) we have to be more discriminating about our carry ons. However, Etihad gives you two checked bags of 50 pounds or less (unless you want to pay more for 60 pounds or much more for 70 pounds.) We are using duffel bags to eliminate as much of the luggage weight as possible.

So that's two checked bags and a carry on per person. Or not. Since we have to connect with Etihad via American Airlines we have to pay for the second checked bag with them just to get it to Etihad because American only allows for one checked bag.

Most of the household items can be purchased from teacher's who are completing their contract in Abu Dhabi, and for us, are not worth bringing/shipping. To ship a 50 pound suitcase to Abu Dhabi is almost $300, while it's closer to $150-$200 for an extra suitcase on the plane... so we're just packing necessary clothes, baby stuff and homeschooling items in our luggage.

Then there's the fun of actually packing for an opposite climate in an opposite culture. Since we dress modestly, the culture part isn't as much of a challenge as the 100+ weather. It's nice to be packing for hot weather while it is cooler here, though; we don't have to pack bulky coats or boots.

It's also important to figure in how fast the kids are growing, since anything that's almost too small will just waste precious space. Wearing something a little big is better than 'barely fits.'

I can't say that I don't like this process, because I find minimizing our life to the bare minimum very cathartic. It's way too easy to gather possessions. Life easily gets choked up with stuff. Packing what we really need helps me focus on my family and each person's individual needs. I get to re-evaluate who we are as a family apart from our stuff. And that is freeing.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sock Monkey vs. Wool Socks

Wool socks are just irritating. They're itchy and too hot for Texas weather... but they work rather well for making a sock monkey!

We found the pattern on line and marked out where we wanted to cut. Since it wasn't the traditional colored heels and toes, we had to eyeball some of the measurements.
We ended up with a different, argyle style monkey.

Then we stuffed him...

and sewed his arms, mouth and tail on.
His ears and eyes came next.
Our silly monkey ended up with arms as long as his legs, for a top heavy look... but that's OK, because Talia thinks he's cute with his arms crossed: