1.23.2009

*warning* female overthinking is about to occur

Steve and I are about to get in a fight.   It's because I cleaned the bathroom really really well (and because I'm just this side of the loony bin).
But, you should see it shine.  
I worked at it today because some guy is coming to replace a broken mirror.  And that, in a nutshell, is the problem.  I have this bad habit of cleaning really well for other people.  Not for people who actually live in or use the facilities in our house, but for strangers, visitors, spectators.  I scrub and organize and hide our messes in drawers and cupboards and behind closed doors.  It's so bad that if my kids see me with a broom or spray bottle they ask who's coming over.  I keep these cleaning sprees limited to the rooms and paths that visitors might take.  For example, I only clean down stairs, paying particular attention to the dining room and kitchen, on Thursdays because thats as far as our small group goes.  If a team member is coming over for the first time and will be getting a quick tour, I sweep the stairs and tidy up bedrooms, shoving anything and everything that will fit into the closets and leaning hard against the door.  The super-duper cleans happen when we are about to have a house sitter. This is when I clean and organize the house from top to bottom leaving no corner undusted, unbleached, or unshined.  For two whole days the house will smell like the Hilton, until signs of life take over once again.  
Steve hates this.  Although he has never said he hates this - I know he hates it.  He thinks to himself "Nice that she cleans for everybody but me.  She knows I like a 'fresh bowl', but the freakin plumber has to be on his way if it's gonna get scrubbed."  He never actually says any of this.  But I know he thinks it.
Today, when the sparkle in the sink catches his eye and the smell of Windex wafts his way, he will be disappointed once again.  It will start him thinking about how I only clean for other people.  It will make him wish that he was married to one of those sitcom wives, or a rich heiress with a maid, or that perhaps, oh yes, he was single.  And because I know he is thinking these things, I will get my feelings hurt, and I will start thinking about all the things I do around here.  All the things that keep me from cleaning on a regular basis.  Things, like...um......you know.....well, I do alotta stuff around here!  Okay, I'm not exactly sure.  It's never been my strong suit.  Anyway, that's not the point.  The point is that now my husband thinks I'm a terrible wife.  And he is probably flipping through a rolodex of divorce attorney in his mind.  So now I'm mad.  Fuming.  I mean, after all I do - the laundry, the dishes, folding his socks together like he likes even though it takes me twice as long.  I mean, come on, he's gonna be mad because I cleaned the bathroom?  Pa-lease!  
The entire fight will occur in my mind.  Steve does not, in fact, care about the frequency with which I clean.  Although he does enjoy a fresh bowl.  I will imagine him being mad at me in his head (which is actually in my head) and it will actually get me down.  Then, he will ask me "What's wrong?", and I will say "Nothing." which will start him thinking about whatever it is that he thinks I think about.... 

1.20.2009

Kill Everything

We've had an ant problem.  A teeny tiny ant problem.  And by that, I mean that we have teeny tiny ants, and they are causing problems.   We used to have a treaty, me and the itty bitty ants. But, they have broken the truce and must be dealt with appropriately before things get ugly. We had lived so well together for so long that I'm a little sad that it must end.  But, they have trespassed, beyond the borders of the counters back edge and around the kitchen sink.  They have traversed the doorframe and entered the sugar bowl.   And they no longer leave in a neat little line as soon as I arrive in the morning.  They linger.  They wander around for a bit, daring me to squish them or swipe at them with a wet sponge.  They have become defiant.  It's really too bad, because, as long as they stayed near the sink and disappeared when I came in the room I was fine with them being around.  In fact, we had grown, in a way, to think of them as pets.

We made jokes when we left the house for an overnighter, "Who will feed the ants?"  or when Stephen would put his empty cereal bowl in the sink at 10 pm, "Hey, don't wash that.  Leave it for the ants."

It didn't help the ants that their uprising took place at the same time that we received, not one, but two big fat roaches in one week and found a HUGE spider guarding an egg sack in the boys bathroom.  I decided to take action.  Kill them, kill them all...

Steve and I were at the store picking up some groceries when I remembered that we had a war to wage at home.  Steve went to choose the perfect weapon.  He returned with a promising looking brown spray bottle which he tossed in the cart.

"Is that what you want?"  He asked. 
"Does it kill everything?"
"It should, it's called 'Kill Everything'."

We chuckled.  Kill Everything.  That's a lot of power to carry in a spray bottle.  I could already see the ants, lying on their backs, tongues hanging out, with little x's for eyes.  The roaches and spiders and millipedes too.  I would kill them all, kill everything.....muahahaha!!!!

Well, as it turns out, Kill Everything does not.  I think it should be called, Spray Everything, or Stink Up Everything, or perhaps Annoy Everything.  All is not lost, however, since the ants did not like being sprayed and annoyed by the stinking liquid every morning.  They have issued a retreat, made themselves scarce.  I can live with that.  




1.14.2009

The seriously sucky side of the human race

So, you may have heard that we had a fat earthquake last week.  It was a doozy.  I'm pretty sure it was like "the big one" on the original Superman movie.  You know, the one that killed Lois Lane forcing Superman to fly counterclockwise around the Earth until it spun back time so he could bring her back. Like that, only real, and we can't go back and save the lives that were lost, no matter how in love we might be.  And there are dead here.  Twenty as of today with more still missing as the result of massive landslides and crumbled houses.  Something like a thousand people without homes.  

I'm not really sure how it all went down because we were in Panama renewing our visas when Costa Rica decided to change shape.  We missed it (is it demented that a little part of me wishes we hadn't?  I mean, just to say "Oh, yeah, I've felt a 6.1." while I nod my head with a knowing look.).  We came home the day after it hit to some stuff that fell over, picture frames, candle sticks, the ironing board - nothing exciting.  But then the police rolled through our neighborhood with a loudspeaker imploring people to give, help, pray.  That was different.  And, like that, the goodness and compassion in the people around us began to pour out.  I've gotten emails from our team members, our neighbors, and the kids school about coordinated efforts to receive and distribute goods and services to those in need.  I watched a press conference where the Costa Rican president, Oscar Arias, stood on the brink of tears after viewing the devastation and pleaded with the church, Catholic and Evangelical together, to be the face of Christ among the lost and hurt and needy.  People responded quickly and generously.  

Then I heard about this:
In the heart of the epicenter was a very nice hotel, built on the side of a mountain that showcased a spectacular set of waterfalls called La Paz.  Someone had the good sense to harness the economic power of Gods creation and the result was a lovely hotel, restaurant, and gift shop - all stops along the way to view an aviary, butterfly garden, reptile, frog and monkey exhibits and, ultimately, to traverse the steep catwalk to the viewing platforms for each of the roaring falls.  Steve and I referred to it as the Disneyland of Costa Rica.  It was perfectly clean and manicured at all times.  There were clear signs and directions to each area of the park and, for those that found the arrows too difficult to follow, you could arrange for a private tour guide to take you to each sign, read it to you, and then gesture with his hand in the direction that the sign was pointing so that you would be sure not to get lost.  They even had bathroom attendants to hand you a paper towel and quickly wipe up the mess you made while excitedly washing your hands in the custom waterfall shaped faucets.  It was perfect.  And pretty expensive.  But, it was a great place to take tourists, and we often took work teams there on their free day.  In fact, we were there only 2 weeks ago with Steve's Mom and Dad.  They loved it, and we loved watching them love it.  Anyway, my point it that this was a real tourist destination.  So here is where this gets ugly.  When the quake hit huge landslides erupted all around La Paz.  The catwalk fell with people on it, the restaurant basically exploded, and the entire area became impassible by land.  No way in, no way out.  With 300 tourist trapped at the hotel.  Some were injured, some were elderly, and all were absolutely terrified.  While the Costa Rican government was slowed in rescuing this group by a limited number of helicopters, the private tour companies decided that they could take advantage of the situation.   Private helicopters began to land at La Paz offering to lift out stranded earthquake victims - FOR $300-$500 A PIECE.  Is that not disgusting???  Warped and messed up???  What kind of low grade person thinks of how to profit off of the terror of others?  To me this is heartbreaking.  In the face of devastation, when a whole nation rallied to help, one small group of jackasses decided to make a profit.  

Dear Mr. Helicopter Operator, 
You are an embarrassment to society.  I hope that your helicopter crashes and that you live. Not because I am nice, but because you should no longer be able to use your life saving and potentially heroic position as a pilot to suck the world dry. But, you should have to live your life on the ground, like the rest of us, because we see each others faces, eyes, the way we hold hands with our kids.  We see, apparently what you do not see up there in the clouds, that there are times when we give what we can just to help because in the end we are all the same.  You are a jerk.
Sincerely, 
Me

Anyway, if you could pray for the people of Costa Rica during this time that would be great. There are still many missing and stranded.  There are so very many without a permanent place to sleep.  And, pray a blessing on those who have given and responded, who have namelessly, facelessly stepped in and helped because they saw a need they could fill.  Bless the heroes who will never be paid, or thanked, or even seen.  

Back to normal

Okay.  So I feel like I've been off the radar for a while.  A long while.  We've been hosting visitors and celebrating Christmas and hosting more visitors since mid-December.  As sad as I was that we had to say goodbye I'm actually pretty excited to get back to real life.  In particular, I'm excited to get back to the kids in el precario.  I can't wait to get out there again. To bring breakfast for the kiddos, and shout "Silencio!" twenty times before explaining the rules of the game or the steps of the craft, and have their grubby little fingers in my hands while we play or sit and listen to a story together.

I am especially excited because the girls in my small group really want to go out there and help us.  We took our small group to help with the Christmas party that was thrown for the kids in a field by their little shanty town.  More than 200 kids showed up to eat hotdogs and play games and, of course, get a present.  And our small group students fell in love with them, just as I have.  I am stoked.  For me, this is a huge opportunity to spend time with the girls in my group. And the fact that they will be serving and helping in their own community just makes me that much more happy.  I feel like I'm on the verge of something cool.  The very thing I came down here for.  I feel hopeful and a little restless.  I can hardly wait to get out there again.

Steve is back at the office, always with lots to do and his phone ringing off the hook.  He's busy. Stephen had a 3 week holiday break and is back at school, and the 2 younger boys are home on summer break.  So all in all we are back to normal.  I guess I better get myself back to normal as well.  I have all the "normal" piles of laundry, windows with fingerprints, and dirty toilettes waiting for me to get back to real life.