Thursday, December 30, 2010

Circling

Uh-oh. Walker texted last night with the great news that she had found a trustworthy mechanic with fair prices. She said her truck was not running well, so she took it in to discover that it needed a new coil. I have no idea what a coil might be or do. I do know that my same make and model Mom Mobile gets a nasty case of the shakes on an incline. This seemed like a good time to ask if her version of "not well" might include a vibration. Uh-huh. Oh. With confirmation that the vibration tends to get more exciting on an incline or while accelerating, I asked that she please pass along the contact. I'm not going to mention a coil when I call the guy, but I will not be too surprised if it turns out that our similar issues turn out to have a similar cause.

The truck is currently very likely to end up as the learning vehicle for the kids. (If they can park an Expedition in a tiny parking spot, then they might be ready to drive.) As we considered the potential for teen drivers looming on the horizon, my mister commented that it's time for my Mom Mobile to go kablooey. (Actually, he used a rather effective sound effect, but I cannot spell that, so be content with the relatively clear, "kablooey".) This conversation, of course, came a day or so ahead of Walker's text. We're more accurate than Murphy's Law around here. The conversation is one that has been ongoing as part of the larger one on whether or not to consider a third vehicle because it is time for The Boy to be in possession of his learner's permit, and our intent had been to put him in driver's classes in January with an eye toward a license in the Summer.
Instead, he will probably end up eligible to drive about the same time as Middle Child. That way we can add not one, but two teen drivers to the insurance at one time. And "Why not?!" since that pair have so often hit milestones together despite their two year age difference. The reality of the Daring Duo being behind the wheel in three years... wait a minute. Today is the 30th... so from 2011 that's two years. They can both be driving without a grown-up in the car to stomp ineffectually on the absentee passenger side brake while hissing and hyperventilating in 2013. So my math is still off. That means a permit could be in Middle Child's hands in 2012.
It seems like so many decisions come back around to the unknowns around the Boy... Should we save for a replacement Mom Mobile, and let the offspring learn to drive in the tank-like safety of the Expedition? Will we be able to afford both of them driving at once? I think that simply getting whatever is giving the Expedition the shimmy, shimmy, shake-shakes fixed is about as far into the future as I am prepared to peer this morning. Everything else just circles back in on itself. Raspberries. And how could I have failed to realize that my girl is only seventeen months from eligibility for a driver's permit?! She's still kind of little. In my head.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Proceeding

It's been an exciting day. The mister and I made a trip over to get his oral Typhoid immunization. It never fails to amuse me when we have Typhoid in the fridge, and I can now entertain myself by saying so for the next week. The oral Typhoid seemed like a better bet than an injection after the mister's unfortunate incident a couple of weeks ago. We picked up the mosquito repellent spray to treat our clothes and anti-Malarial prescriptions at the same time before heading on to our next trip-related stops.
A stop at the notary saw our paperwork for the trip ready to go, and we headed over to turn in our fee and forms for the stay at House of Hope. In case the plane tickets to San Pedro Sula were not a commitment, we've added another set of vaccinations and the reservations at House of Hope. Driving home, the idea of departing in about seven weeks still seemed a little unreal. I wonder if that will change before the landing gear is retracted? How can we possibly be so blessed as to go back just three months after our last trip?!
The message to the Familia Alastero sponsors went out offering the opportunity to send a card, photo, or gift along with us for delivery to their children. (It made for a fun opportunity to introduce myself to the sponsors as their administrative helper, too.) Hopefully, our friends who sponsor kids at the various children's homes will be able to send a little something along as remembrances for the kids with a month's notice. We will have some preparations to make ourselves to that effect. Our sweet Claudia's mommy had a brand new baby girl a couple of days ago, and I have several bags of the sweetest baby girl layette from friends in Pleasant Suburb to take for the new arrival. That may be my favorite goody we get to deliver!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tidbits: Should

  • Walker and I met before dawn for Girly Coffee while our guys had their weekly Man Meeting. We really ought to be walking, but it was both too early and too cold for either of us to feel remotely motivated.
  • Ow.  I had a crown seated. Woo. Or, perhaps Boo. My theory that this should be a quick and done appointment flew out the window with the administration of antibiotics because, "...this might be a little complicated." Eh? No. Just pop out the temporary crown, and cement the new one in place. Mmm. No. There were bad things happenin', and now I am sore despite having been numbed so that I cannot feel my nostrils two hours later even though the medication should have been a fast-acting one that wore off quickly.
  • The mister had a cleaning while I was being poked and prodded. He? Still has his wisdom teeth. At least, he does for the moment. Those should have already been taken out. Lovely.
  • I should knock out a couple of loads of laundry, e-mail the Familia Alastero sponsors to invite them to send letters, cards, photos, and/or gifts to their sponsor children, finish bagging some donations, and take down the Christmas decorations.
  • Words like "should" and "ought" tend to force some small rebellious seed buried within me to sprout into a writhing, live thing from time to time. This is usually a strong internal hint that a Day Off is due. Sooo... since it's cold, I am going to crawl back under the covers and catch a movie or read instead of working on the things that could perhaps otherwise (not better, just otherwise) occupy the afternoon.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Booked

Abshire Girls in Puerto Lempira
We booked our return tickets for the next trip to Honduras on Christmas Day! This time there will be four of us going. It's going to be a different sort of trip than the last two, and not only because the mister will be joining us. The first was about an introduction to the world where our friends were going to live. The second trip was expanding our family's involvement to include Little Bit, meeting Familia Alastero and beginning the process of setting up sponsorships for the children and young people. This will be a visit. We go to see old friends, to hopefully deepen relationships with acquaintances, and to rejoice at seeing old faces and new ones who have all been as glad to hear we are coming as we are to pass on that news.
Katie and Chris who keep in touch via e-mail between visits

Morning Sunshine


Worship with Familia Alastero


 

 
 

Claudia and Romy at Mama Tara's

Me with Claudia
Not only will we be feelin' the love on Valentine's Day when we arrive in Puerto Lempira, but I will turn 37 during our stay. I cannot imagine any sweeter way to celebrate than sitting on the guest house porch as the littlest children wander over first thing in the morning. Or over at Mama Tara's where Laura has suggested we go for a daily Bible study with Claudia. (Claudia is a post all on her own.) I hope we will get to visit again with Familia Alastero, and to bring cards and small gifts from the children's sponsors. (Yes, we will also bring a little something for those who have yet to receive the ongoing gift of sponsorship.) To do whatever project or task needs doing, but to be there is really the closest thing to an itinerary we have prepared at the moment. Laura claims that the Waits are the Most Excited, but I suspect we can give them a run for that title!

The Waits! (left-right Adam, Alex, Aidan, Arlee, Laura, Aaron, Arnol)


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Mystique

Today, I was making sure that I had the appropriate undergarment to wear beneath my dress for New Year's Day. I think there's a gold medal somewhere with my name on it based on the gymnastic performance involved in getting the one-piece "smoother" over all my, eh... junk. I used to think support hose were challenging. Right. This particular undergarment is flesh tone and it runs from just under the girls right on down to the thighs. This is ideal for holding one's goodies at bay under a fitted dress. (I seriously planned on something that would allow me to eat like a trucker, but the mister made this funny little sound low in his throat when I stepped out of the dressing one in the one that is going to require me to avoid breathing, so...)
I was half in and half out of the vise smoother when I heard a kid coming up the stairs. Looking down, I realized that my royal blue chenille socks and ratty bra were the only other garments currently on my body. Yanking and tugging the top of the unyielding elastic sheath upward with one hand while mashing the excess of my hips down into the depths with the other I hot-footed it to the bedroom door hoping to be either fast enough to shut the open door, or at least going to get the worst of this vision under cover before one of the children went blind. (Or worse: posted my predicament on Facebook.) Thankfully, the cat shot past headed downstairs buying me precious seconds while our youngest stopped her ascent to declare, "Hello, Zoey!" That was just the time needed to shut and lock the door long enough to finish the undergarment fitting. Eesh.
The good news is that my dress will fit properly Saturday, and my mister will be impressed. The bad news is that I'm going to have to get back into that blasted undergarment again. Last year, I had a wee tantrum  High Maintenance Moment proclaiming that it wasn't much of a date if the mister sucked all the mystery out of my feminine mystique by being present in the bathroom while I was practicing beauty secrets. He remembered this, and now he has already graciously pointed out that New House has more bathrooms and bedrooms than Old House. He seemed so pleased with this consideration of my delicate feelings. I'm just thankful that I'll be able to lock him out while I wrestle with my drawers.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Picture Post: Merry

The tree never did get so much as a single ornament on the branches.

Christmas Eve worship rocked. The bass player is hot.

Christmas Eve lunch with my parents, brother, and sister-in-law was yummy.

Bored with waiting for teenagers to wake up on Christmas morning, I started taking pictures with full flash. Middle Child's first waking words were, "Oh, this can not be good..."

Little Bit was very, very Nice this year.

The blanket and the coffee were both entirely necessary to ward off the chill despite last week's 80+ degree heat. It was feeling a lot like Christmas around here today.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Joy

Last Christmas was a little weird. This Christmas has been hard to even recognize. A pep talk from Walker kick started the conversations with the fam identifying just what needed to be a priority as the Advent Calendar dipped from double digits into single with alarming speed. Still, it's been a challenge to find the joy in the season. And then, it was here. Our church opted for two Christmas Eve services. The first Christmas Eve Service ran December 23rd earning it the title "Christmas Eve Eve".
Turns out that was just the thing. Traditionally, the 23rd is the day and evening for running crazy to finish up grocery and gift shopping. There are eight One Last Trip drives to the store with each one involving impulse purchases in hopes of avoiding the subsequent trip. There was still some of that with a couple of small gifts still on the list, milk and coffee both needed, and the mister and I trying to finish up holiday party attire for the Company Christmas Party (that has conveniently rescheduled to be a Company Holiday Party on New Year's Day). Little Bit's shoes were also trashed and her foot is growing. Anywho. The point here is not all the running around during the daylight hours. After dark, we left the main streets and the crazed drivers to join those arriving at the church building.
There, we greeted our loved ones exchanging hugs, chatter, and Christmas wishes until the lights began to lower with the filling of the sanctuary. The music swelled. It filled the room transforming from notes into Worship. The congregation became Worshippers. After a month spent examining the names of Jesus,  the final name "Yeshua" was woven into the narrative of the Christmas Story as Shakespeare's Juliet was quoted asking what was in a name. The answer was that the name we celebrated last night was not any ordinary name, but that brought on Angel's mighty lips from Heaven itself. A name spoken first to Mary and then to Joseph, and last night proclaimed again and again.
I lay awake until just past midnight thinking of God's Son on a night usually given over to the worldly and cultural trappings of Christmas. And even though all is not right in the world, there is peace in it because the day when we celebrate the birth of the Mighty King is upon us. And in the dark and stillness, there was a sweet, quiet joy that had been missing. If you wish to join in the celebration with Christ Fellowship, a live online service will run tonight at 7:00 Central.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Greetings

In today's mail, there was a card from the Boy. Not that he has access to a store or funds to buy such a thing. Yet, there was unmistakeably a card with the Boy's return address mixed in with the less interesting pieces. I opened the slightly mangled envelope to see a deep blue card featuring Mary, Joseph, and a donkey headed up a hill where a star shown brightly (if a smidge prematurely). A church group had been to visit the young people, and they brought candy and Christmas cards. Our Boy, who had no card to send us, chose to write his own greeting on the blank left side of the card he received so he could pass it on to us. (The value of those things least available... and he chose to give us from what little he had received. Oh. My.) It is quite a gift to have this folded rectangle of paper that he held in his hands just days ago.

If you happen to be someone who visits those who are alone this Christmas, thank you. It's a gift not only to those who are alone, but also to those who are lonely for them.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Festive

Because this is Texas, the temps were in the 80's yesterday. This made our Christmas tradition of walking through neighborhoods to look at the light displays entirely reasonable since it was still 68 well after dark. We wandered up and down the streets of new neighborhood pointing out the spectacular and the strange alike. This year had a couple of memorable moments including a Christmas Tree made of lights with a bizarre strobing effect that looks like the star is shooting lasers at the grass a la Star Trek, a creepy light-up reindeer that looked more like a llama with a head that turned to follow us in our progress, and an inflatable Santa and reindeer who (thanks to under inflation) appeared to be wrestling in one of the yards.
As we attempted to uneventfully move on by a house where Middle Child wished to remain unobserved by the Mean-Girl-Who-Lives-There (who probably wasn't watching or listening, but...), Erin proceeded to ask in her best outside voice, "Who lives there?! Who did you say?!" Repeatedly. A few houses further along the same street, I noticed an intriguing ornament above a garage door. I stated, "Oh, look... a cat in a... bucket? How... festive." This blond moment perplexed the mister and the girls initially. On further inspection of the decoration in question, they laughingly informed me that the cat-in-a-bucket was actually a pair of bells with a bow. Which made more sense, but kind of lacked originality.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gifted

Middle Child's Christmas observance was all about the gifts. She wants to make lists of potential gifts and recipients, shop-til-she-drops (which is way past when her middle-aged mother drops), wrap lots of gifts in festive paper, and make piles of pretty packages. This year, when I cry, "Uncle!" opting for gift cards, has seen multiple trips out exhaustively searching for just the right items to suit Middle Child's gift-giving penchants. Not that she's been monetarily extravagant, but she is particular. She's one of those gifty sorts (I read Gary Chapman's Love Languages, and that chapter was written about this girl child.) who shows love through gifts. Which also means she receives love through gifts.
Have I mentioned that I wimped out and went with the universally easy and likable gift cards? Even Middle Child will find a gift card or two tucked amongst her goodies, but they were oh-so-carefully chosen to reflect her personal preferences. Because an inappropriate or poorly chosen gift is worse than no gift at all for her. (No pressure, though. Really.) Of course, the item she most wants to find under the tree is a plane ticket to Honduras.
Speaking of gifts and Honduras, today our family received a surprise gift. We received a Christmas Gift that speaks directly to our hearts. A gift was given to the Reach Out Honduras Education Fund in our name. This was given by the same friends who have heard me lament, whine, fuss, and try to work out an answer to how on earth a group of children who live at subsistence levels can possibly gain an education. About the kids who dream of going to school that is out of reach financially. About the tias (aunts) who prefer that funds from sponsors go to provide education before other basic needs. About the individual stories of this one who would be a doctor, and that one who wants to learn about Social Studies... It is the gift of hope for these children who we love that we have received for Christmas.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Priorities

Pretzels... only better.
Because I have discovered a distinct inability to do it all, I asked the family to please indicate just what specifically was most important about Christmas tradition/celebration/revelry/expectations so that I could prioritize appropriately.  Little Bit's unequivocal statement was "baking and making treats," followed by a request for chocolate-dipped pretzels.

My mister steered me down the baking, candy, and chip aisles at Super Store to toss bags of white and milk chocolate chips, Starlight mints, and regular M&M's in the cart along with a bag of great big pretzels. My inner Grinch grumbled about how we could have picked up the conveniently prepackaged M&M variety that already had a pretzel inside and a package of peppermint bark with similar results, less cost, and way less mess.
Back at home, the makings out on the counter, I called the girls to the kitchen saying I needed some help. They actually showed up despite the likelihood that chores would be involved with such a summons. Those two were instantly certain of what the particular ingredients laying on the counter signaled.
As "The Nutcracker" played on the living room t.v., we melted the chocolate in small batches. The girls were delighted to take a hammer to ziploc bags of candies to produce the finely crushed consistency needed for adorning our chocolaty treats. The mess-making commenced even as Herr Drosselmeier was tossing the wooden nutcracker offstage so he could pop back up on stage as a real boy complete with tights and poufy hair. The task went quickly, and we had a line-up of pretty munchies before the herd of dancing snowflakes could fill the screen with their whirling tutus.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Holiday Home Tour

It's beginning to feel a little like Christmas around here. The signs of the Season are everywhere in the community, but have been sort of ho-hum around the house. The girls identified shopping, wrapping, and exchanging gifts and baking as priorities. Okay. Will do. I wanted at least one Nativity displayed, and the mister felt the tree was a necessity. So we pulled out the bare basics. Stockings were hung by the chimney with care, a garland draped here, and some snowmen stuck there... but we just sort of lost interest. I have no excuse. Nor any real explanation for the absence of full place settings of Spode on the dining table. Though, I am secretly a little amused that the ziploc baggies where we stow the kids ornaments are still parked by the fireplace while the tree sits bare but for the garland and lights. It's a weird year.
We did send out Christmas Cards. Middle Child and I watched the Nutcracker at midnight over the satellite feed on a school night, and I've been humming the beloved strains ever since. The mister is practicing to play at the church's Christmas Eve and Christmas Eve Eve (12/23) services, and the worship inspired by the set list is already awesome so I can only imagine what it will be like with a whole congregation to share it. We are not without joy for the celebration of Christ's birth. We're just a little lacking in the trappings that so often add to the celebratory feeling of this sweet season.
That said, on with this year's Holiday Home Tour (as seen at Green Girl's and Fannie's where one can find all sorts of inspiration) despite the incomplete nature of our festive preparations we still managed to at least give a nod to Christmas...

The snowmen and a few poinsettias at least brought a bit of festive to the nook where Little Bit likes to read and play on the computer.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, and a batch of choice pretties all gathered there....

This Nativity is my favorite. It's made of FIMO clay and the bottoms are rounded so the figures need the rice to stabilize them in their little terra cotta planter. Sort of Southwestern perhaps?

Our tree sits unfinished... We keep suggesting the girls hang their ornaments, but it just has not been done. Maybe tomorrow?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tidbits: Sticky

  • I totally forgot about that roll of "self-adhesive" gift wrap that was lurking in the midst of the pretty papers. That stuff is no less likely to cause a hissy fit this year than last. Waste not, want not... but...
  • I am officially in the know on how a week in Honduras during the school year could draw the unwanted attention of truancy court. Fortunately, we have lots of wiggle room thanks to no absences for Little Bit at all and only one for Middle Child of the allowable ten before things get messy. The week I hoped to go to Honduras has a 4th Grade Writing TAKS Test scheduled, and it would be mean to keep our kid out the day of the test all her writing teachers for the past four years have been working toward... We'll have to go a week sooner or later. I wish we could just go now.
  • Travel is not a good idea today. My Bronchitis may also be Strep after all. After two days of an antibiotic not ideally suited to treat Strep, the giant q-tip is failing to show positive despite what the doc's little flashlight and my nerve endings are proclaiming. If the sore throat is still blazing away in the morning, we'll have to piggyback a second antibiotic. Yuck.
  • Despite the Illness du jour, my great uncle passed away today. I'm wondering if the antibiotics will kick in in time to make the trip for his funeral service. His widow is a great lady who hosted our wedding shower. He was a giant of a man (as is true of all my Mammy's brothers), and he will be missed by many. Oh, and no one in our family aside from the grands and the immediate aunties and uncles knew The Boy was gone last year. Or that he is gone again. That might get sticky.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tidbits: Posted

  • The Boy left at 5:30 a.m. yesterday to go to an interim location where he will be evaluated for the next 30-45 days. Last night, it was 10:00 and I couldn't really picture where my kid was even though I have been given an address. This is not okay.
  • Little Bit finished up her Intro to Skating class last night. Her teacher recommended skipping the Beginner level, so Alpha classes (pretty foot work and spins on one foot) begin January 4th. Walker commented yesterday that the skates were definitely not a waste.
  • The mister's passport has arrived. Funds to cover the mister's and my airfare have been allotted. We're going to have to decide whether or not the girls will be going. They would be unenthusiastic about being left behind. I would like for the mister to not only be introduced to the Honduras that draws me, but also to see how our girls are similarly drawn.
  • On the way home from ice skating, I suggested a stop at the Urgent Care Center. Good thing. My "sore throat" and "drainage" have settled into my lower left lung. Bronchitis treated right away is less likely to turn into a case of Christmas Pneumonia. While my plans were to have my arms full of babies at the children's emergency shelter today, I am instead cradling a cup of hot tea and lounging in my jammies until the nurse can get here later today to administer some I.V. meds. Boo. Well, the tea is lovely. It's just less snuggly than rocking and praying blessings over babies.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Torn

We were wondering whether or not to go forward with a return trip to Honduras in the next couple of months. There is not inconsiderable expense involved in such travel, and there are real needs that could be met in Puerto Lempira with the same dollars that might go to plane tickets and travel expenses. Except that I keep seeing how there are funds that are simply not mine to allocate.
Last week, the mister had to make a business trip to splashy, trashy Las Vegas. The excesses of every sort there bothered him, and he was all-too-aware of the costs involved for his company to cover the expenses involved in the trip. Then again, the funds are the company's to allocate. So the mister flew across the country, ate the meals provided, slept on high thread count sheets, and accepted what was given to him.
He returned home Sunday to hear that there was a 6 month old baby in Honduras who weighs only 8 pounds, and that there were issues with getting enough formula to feed the babies in the milk program at House of Hope. The contrast between an opulent dinners for my mister and his coworkers and the hunger of malnourished babies a continent away was stark. We are fortunate to be able to choose to be part of the solution that meets the needs of those babies.
We again wrestled that night with the question of travel to Honduras for short-term outreach compared to the relative expenses of meeting needs for food, clothing, clean water, and education. It is not solely a question to be answered by finances, though. The Boy's situation remains challenging, and the questions of how to carry on our ministry to the children who grew under my heart is no less important to ask than those questions related to the children who capture my heart across town or across the world.
Yesterday, we arrived for the meeting that would see the Boy's disposition set for the next year or two. The professional team making determinations for the Boy's future completed the task of deciding What To Do in about two hours. (It was difficult to avoid shrieking as people lined up to tell the mister and I what great parents we are... because great parents don't have to let others make decisions for their kids. Or be separated from them before those kids are adults.) One of the professionals assisting had yet to define his fee. We expected to pay a substantial sum, but were instead told to apply the entire fee to our next short-term mission trip as his donation. This is unorthodox to say the least.
Even in a time of great challenge, we are blessed. And we see further confirmation of our likely plan to return to Honduras in the near future. I wonder if we will see Honduras or our son next? Both feel so very far away this morning. But neither is out of God's reach.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Picture Post: Prayer Sowers

Reach Out Honduras Thanksgiving Team 2010

Aidan marked the spots where the team prayed with stones that brought to mind Joshua 4 where God stopped his people from moving forward instead requiring them to focus on Him rather than on the tasks they were undertaking. Victoria's Land is a field where we prayed for opportunity in Puerto Lempira whether that means a garden that provides fresh fruit and vegetables or perhaps the addition of a home for street boys...

Our team prayed at the hospital during the prayer walk on our first day. This photo serves as a representation of those whose situations need not appear in an image to be remembered.
Laura used the 2 1/2 minute iShare video on an iPad to show the gospel in Spanish to the kids at Mama Tara's while I prayed. The sweet girl next to me is Claudia. There will no doubt be more words devoted to this sweet new friend in days to come. She and the boy in orange are both new believers in Jesus!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Away

*sigh*Our family endured almost a year of separation while the Boy was "away" for his freshman year in high school. It was a bit like what has been described in amputees as a "phantom limb" where one can feel a limb that is no longer present after an amputation. Still, there was more joy in the reattachment of our missing limb to the family body last Summer for having come through the time of separation.
The week before the girls and I left for Honduras, a phone call came as I sat with a friend in the hospital waiting for medical tests on her son. The call was one of the few that could have taken me from her side at that moment. Our son was in trouble at school, and we were being notified of an In School Suspension. Oh.but.no. Stomach clenched into a hard, cold knot and mind numb, I phoned the people who have authority over our son thanks to his previous poor choices to ask what would come next. Listening to the instructions, the grief carefully walled away long enough to manage the brief explanation to my friend as to why I would leave in her time of need. The drive north was uneventful, or at least unnoticed. I pulled into the driveway, and the Boy climbed into the Mom Mobile. As we drove, I fielded phone calls from the various people who have the power to dictate our lives based on our son's choices.
The meeting we attended yielded several results. I was instructed to go to Honduras. To keep plans made with our daughters. To hold our family together as it splintered again. The mister would remain home over Thanksgiving not for the Guys' Week anticipated with the Boy, but alone. Home alone in the house we chose to provide our family with a fresh start. The place we chose for our Boy to come home to... The Boy was to be returned to his previous housing.
Yesterday, I sat waiting. Our advisor was on vacation, and the Boy's provider was not present. Nothing would be resolved. I received approval for a "pass" that will enable us to wait until next week to hear The Boy's fate decreed by those who seek to help him. We pray for him, we miss him, and we wait for him to realize his potential. Most of all, we love him. It is expected that he will be taken further away this time. A year of him across town produced a constant awareness that he was just out of reach. The delight and the strain of having him home was a challenge, but worthwhile. Having him torn away again is a grief that I cannot quite give myself over to while we are as yet unsettled.

Carded

Yesterday, a friend proudly showed me the Christmas cards to benefit our local homeless shelter. The front featured a somewhat haphazard drawing of a decorated tree and a glowing hearth on a solid white background. "Haphazard," because there were an array of seemingly unrelated items in the foreground of the drawing. She proudly turned over the package of cards to show the sticker on the back proclaiming that the cards were drawn by "Jennifer, age 14" who lives at The Samaritan Inn with her mother and two brothers. Our friend stated that the name was a pseudonym for her daughter whose drawing was selected to grace this year's Christmas card.
If sending or receiving these particular cards, "Jennifer" took special care to draw the orange tabby cat on the bottom left of the card. While the family had other pets, this particular cat was lost in the shuffle of their lives. The family lives at the inn for this moment, but they have not forgotten the sweetness of their own home. They have not lost the hope of regaining a place of their own, either. Today's exchange, and the cards benefiting the inn provide a poignant reminder that not everyone will be home for the holidays this year. And that those experiencing homelessness are not faceless strangers.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Heading

The mister went in yesterday for his Hep A & B vaccinations. He ended up with a concussion. Seriously. He felt a little woozy after the injections, and he passed out hitting his head. His blood sugar and blood pressure were normal, but he had every sign of a concussion. With him holding a plastic bag for his, ah, stomach contents, we left the doctor's office with an order for an emergency CT scan. Fortunately, all the CT revealed was a brain. Still, it was not quite the day either of us had planned.
The good news? Our practitioner goes to church with friends from Casa de Esperanza, and we had a great conversation with her before the mister's appointment went south. I was a little concerned that she might forget the conversation, but Don took care of that by making sure everyone in the office would remember us. The admitting representative at the hospital was also interested in hearing more about Reach Out Honduras. While Don was having his head scanned, she came tearing into the x-ray department excited about what she had already read online. These two new contacts made our unpleasant circumstances feel much  more positive, especially now that the mister appears to be fine despite some lingering headache and tiredness.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Spread

I'm thinking of the twenty-five kids at Familia Alastero this morning who Reach Out Honduras is ministering to through child sponsorships. At the last Board meeting, a vote was passed to administrate sponsorships for supplemental food, clothing, and educational expenses. In the scant weeks since that vote was passed, the first sponsorship was donated. Two more have been spoken of, and a fourth came over the week of Thanksgiving. In week since the short-term team returned home, two more of the children have received sponsorships. For the scorekeepers, that's four down, two anticipated, and nineteen to go.
There is consistent prayer for the provision of this sweet extended family. We visited the home where 18 of the children live with two tias (aunts), and the space was roughly equivalent to my family's living room. There are two sets of triple-decker wide bunk beds built last Spring by a short-term team from New York over Spring Break that sleep all 18 kids who range from preschool to their late teens. The family's relatively few possessions are neatly organized, and their home is clearly well kept. The kids sang hymns and songs in Spanish, and then treated us to recitations of Scripture. A picture post or two later will follow to better illustrate. The visit, and meeting the individual kids and tias, has added depth and even greater desire to the prayers for the provision of this children's home.
This morning, praying again as I pulled up the spreadsheets related to the sponsorships, I was surprised to see a familiar name in the sponsor field next to one of this week's recipients. The name was only familiar because I have seen her comment on another friend's Facebook posts. This is the power of social media for ministry. It is the power of the story teller. The common friend has been faithful to "like" Reach Out Honduras-related posts and links on the social networking site, and has also "liked" or commented on personal posts or photos related to the ministry to help spread the word. God provides, but seeing how His people are working together through new technology to be part of the solution to the age old question of how to help the poor, and I cannot help but imagine the potential for word to spread until nineteen more people hear of the Alastero kids.

*Since I seem to be slow in posting the details of the Thanksgiving Team's week, I offer up Phil Morgan's perspective of his experience as one of the eight who spent Thanksgiving week planting seeds in Honduras.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Picture Post: Getting There

We travel by plane from Dallas/Fort Worth to San Salvador and then onto San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
 In San Pedro Sula, the girls and I hopped into the shortest customs line. We were in between a Mommy with a toddler in her arms and a Mommy & Grandma with a toddler peeking out of the forest of grown-up lady legs. My girls were reasonably indulgent with my penchant for making goo-goo eyes and silly faces at the babies ahead of and behind us. The toddlers were delighted, their attending relatives friendly. The rest of our team passed on through a longer line and went to retrieve the 500 pounds of luggage while we cooled our heels with a slow customs agent and games of peek-a-boo and waving at the little ones.
Reach Out Honduras Thanksgiving 2010 Team at Hotel Villa Nuria with the van that would drive us three hours across Honduras through Tela to La Ceiba.
From our hotel, it was just a short walk down this thoroughfare, a sharp left, and we were on the strip with KFC, Pizza Hut, Wendy's, and the mall all waiting for our business.

Our half day in La Ceiba saw us riding in the van, the back of a pick-up truck, and zipping around in taxis as well as our adventures on foot.

Boarding the hour+ flight from La Ceiba to Puerto Lempira in the moments before dawn.


I had to look at pictures to decipher the welcome sign because I only had eyes for our friends on arrival.

LAURA! LAURA! LAURA!!!

Katie's arms did not stay empty for long once we arrived at Casa de Esperanza and she saw Rodrigo.

I was right behind Katie with arms full of Baticia (left) and Baby Grace (right) as quickly as I could scoop them up.

There are 1500 images to tell the story of a week in Honduras. There are many little stories, quips, and longer tales. There were precious moments, frustrations, joys, irritations, blood, sweat, tears, and eight people stuffed into a Ford Fiesta for a brief ride in a clown car/taxi. There will be more to come, but there has simply been too little time to compress a week into a manageable packet of information...

And rumor has it is past time to get on with the baking, decorating, and selection of gifts for loved ones at some point in the next couple of weeks. I may be far enough behind on Christmas this year to have to claim to be ahead for next year.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Faces

It has been a long couple of weeks, but we are now three days from our departure. The girls and I will join our team at the DFW airport on Saturday afternoon to begin the journey to Puerto Lempira. There may be a child we meet during that journey who is waiting for us. The pictures of the Familia Alastero children who will benefit from sponsors are up on the Reach Out Honduras site. There is a twelve year old girl whose face brings a smile to my face. I don't know Elena. She resembles Baticia who was the much quieter little friend tied to Rodrigo who we met on our last trip.

Rodrigo

Baticia and Rodrigo have a history as something of a daring duo. My favorite story of the pair was a tale involving a jar of powdered milk stored protectively on a high shelf. A little monkey named Rodrigo climbed fearlessly to the height where he prized open the container to eat the powdered milk. Baticia did not climb up to gain the goodies like Rodrigo. She simply remained below where her friend could toss down a shower of the powdered milk for his hungry little counterpart to scoop up.

I wonder if Elena is quiet? Or silly? Bright? Would she scramble up to the heights like Rodrigo to gain the treat? Share the ill-gotten gain with her friends? Or would she wait for one of the two tias (aunts) caring for her to offer her a portion of food at the appropriate time? Does she have a deep, full laugh? I know nothing much about this young lady, but I so hope to meet her and discover the story behind the photo.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Awaiting

In four days, the girls and I will climb on board a plane that will take us south on the first leg of our journey to Puerto Lempira, Honduras. I shift memories from Spring Break forward to imagine a familiar trip across the same miles. The flight will land in San Salvador where we will kill off an hour and a half layover before our connection to San Pedro Sula. The route retraces our journey in March precisely, but this time we will take the shuttle from the airport to the gated, guarded compound of the hotel and remain there until a private driver arrives Sunday to ferry us over land to La Ceiba. The remainder of Sunday will be spent on errands, snatching the last hot showers and familiar meals for a few days before crawling into bed early. Monday morning will find a sleepy team gathered in the hotel lobby before 4:00 a.m.

Runway in La Ceiba 6:00 a.m. 3/15/2010

Puerto Lempira Runway
The final flight will be aboard a small plane with Cyrillic characters on the interior signage indicating its origins. We will walk directly out onto the runway surrounded by mountain views to board the small plane and be seated in the cabin with constant visual contact with the two-person crew at around 6:00. The flight will be low enough for the pilot to have the small triangular windows popped open on either side of the plane, and for those aboard to stare out at the terrain below. There will be no question when we arrive because we will clearly see that red dirt (or perhaps mud in this rainy season?) runway coming up to guide us to our destination.


Once we disembark, all we have to do is wait to present our papers to the authorities before achieving the desired reunion with our friends. All the planning, travel arrangements, and preparations will become small things as those faces fill our eyes and friends fill our arms. I do not dare to imagine too clearly the faces of the children we will see again. That is a moment that will simply have to be savored in reality unimagined. Until then, it is enough to keep putting one foot in front of the other and knowing that time is plodding onward toward the anticipated moments.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Vanity

I flipped through the images once more for good measure before shutting down the screen. The day before saw the same activity. This time it led to action without any sense of certainty. (Again with the tendency to stand on the edge of a cliff mesmerized by the view for an indeterminate time--- only to haul off and leap without warning.) Spinning the chair to launch across the study and through the doors to speed up the stairs only to stop and stand staring in the large mirror over the bathroom vanity. The cats cruised in to investigate, but the lack of motion as I considered the top of my face and head failed to hold their feline interest beyond a questioning meow from Bad Bella.
As the felines wandered away, all of my hair was pulled into a twisted rope that stretched toward the ceiling with one hand. The other hand dipped in clipping away an inch to refresh the usual choppy layers. Thus freed from the uncertainty over the next step, the renewed layers were quickly secured in an elastic loop. Well, almost all of the layers. A deep patch of hair at the very front that refused to hang forward after a decade of being swept back remained. Wetting the uncooperative strands, the patch was sorted into hair to protect from the scissor's predations with the pony tail, and hair flopping forward well below my chin. Finally giving up on the single-handed achievement of a straight part at the top, reinforcements were called in to help.
Middle Child was a bit incredulous. To prove my intent (after she straightened the desired part in the hair), the scissors flashed bringing the floppy front hair to lip level five inches of hair sheared away in an unspoken commitment to the course set. Wetting the hair over my face, I twisted the hair into sections again and clipped. Middle Child stared. The remaining hair was held between two fingers and the edge cut straight across. Erin joined her sister. They both stared at me. I stared at the reflection.
It is definitely a change, but Middle Child pointed out that I look very much like the old pictures she has seen that predate her. The girls also think there is something familiar, but they cannot figure out who it is that Mom looks like with this new hairdo. (Maybe... ah... Mom? Only with bangs.) It's possible that I look like the screen images of people with facial shapes and features similar enough to my own to convince me to take the leap to experiment a little despite the usual resistance to such change. Then again, probably not since I ended up with blunt bangs rather than the less-defined, longer fringe intended.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Picture Post: Peeking

Family picture day is always painful. It's a day that begins in grumbling and griping over the dreaded "What to Wear". That is followed by the wheedling and threats of a mother desperate to preserve photographic evidence of this particular moment in the family's timeline. It's bewildering to look at my children and see the glimmers of the emerging adults peeking out with increasing frequency. I'd like to slow the process a bit, but will settle for freezing moments in pictures that I can hold onto as the process of letting my children go continues.
Walker's daughter is an artist. She reflects her Creator's infinite creativity in many different mediums including photography, so I asked if she would take our family pictures. She agreed, and we met at an urban center that combines a variety of architectural and landscaping goodies for gobs of great settings. We quickly discovered that my desired background was lost in shadow. A new site that was bathed in afternoon sun was selected instead. We turned ourselves over to the eye of our brilliant artist friend, and I cannot wait to see through her viewfinder.
We were quickly and painlessly posed. There was an ease to the process unheard of in past sessions. There was laughter. Seriously. People were happy. Artist had a friend along for our session who snapped away with my camera, and there was a shot offered up on Facebook as a sneak peek from Artist's cache of images so I'm not giving all that much away while still keeping the family pix a surprise!
Artist!

The Painless Process

Sneak Peek of the family session!

Foundational

The Wise and Foolish Builders
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”  (Matthew 7:24-27, NASB)
 
We are builders. Builders of lives. Marriages. Families. Homes. Ministries. Relationships. Friendships. The foundation on which those are built is Christ. Should it be otherwise--- building based on affinity, blood relations, preferences, opinions, political affiliation, hobbies, business, sports, education... whatever... then such will be likely be subject to fickle circumstance. Change is our constant human state; yet, Christ is ever constant. Why try to find balance on shifting sand when I can stand secure on solid ground?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Conference

Teacher conferences are required for elementary school. Report cards are given to elementary parents at their conferences. This policy assures attendance. I have never attended a conference for middle or high school despite having students at all three levels for the second year in a row. In fact, I had no idea there were conferences for middle or high school. (There's been a question in my mind as to why the whole district took a day off when only the elementary schools held conferences for years.) It turns out that there are conferences available on all campuses.
This year, the middle school principal sent out e-mail blasts encouraging parents to attend student-led conferences. A couple of the high school instructors sent out e-mail inviting parents to schedule conferences as well. Eh? This being the first notice ever in our household that the middle and high schools were even open on this day to parents and students, it seemed like a good idea to at least check it out however painful the idea sounded to parent and student alike.
Wow. The ten minute required conference with Erin's teacher (the one with the great British accent?) stretched well past time to cover 40 minutes, and I was truly sorry to part company with her. (Yes, for those who know of my unfortunate tendency to unintentionally mirror speech and mannerisms, I did lapse into a reflection of Mrs. H's accent. Oops.) We have some strategies for encouraging Erin in the classroom, awareness of her strengths, and plans for building up areas of weakness. We have also been granted the opportunity to share Erin's upcoming trip to Honduras with her classmates. Erin will be crafting a slide show and developing her writing with prompts related to the trip since 4th grade is a big year for writing skills.

Evan and I drove together to the high school. His Latin teacher filled in the blanks on some extracurricular activities, the English instructor suggested that he begin "visiting" in a Pre-AP class in preparation for a transfer from his current less-stringent class at semester, and the AP history teacher shared his thoughts on AP classes vs Evan's capability to enroll at the local community college and earn concurrent high school and college credit next year. It was exciting to hear that Evan is seen as a bright kid with a strong work ethic by those who spend five days a week with him outside of our aegis.

Katie and I showed up at the middle school without a plan. We arrived to discover that the building was closed for a lunch hour. That lunch hour was published in the newsletter alerting this clueless parent to the optional parent/teacher conferences for middle and high school students. (Oops.) So. Katie and I will head back over to the school for a second attempt momentarily. The positive experiences with her siblings conferences have definitely kindled a desire to hear what the middle school teachers will have to say about our Middle Child. Plus, I am intrigued with the principal's suggested student-led conferences. Hearing from the kids themselves at those upper grade levels is a far cry from the usual "How was your day?" that is met with the chronic "fine," or the obligatory parental "What did you do today?" that rates a "nothing" response. That is absolutely worth a second trip to the middle school.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Passenger

There's an old song with a line that says, "I am a passenger, and I ride and I ride." At the moment, there's a familiarity to the rider in the song who is observing the world as it speeds along outside the windows. Not that I realized that I was observing anything specific. Last Spring, Walker and I completed a 10K to benefit the homeless shelter in our city. It was a first experience with any such event, and the planner's mind was fascinated by how it differed and was similar to the sorts of events that have fallen within a planning experience that previously ranged from meetings to parties to conferences. That's organizer's eye is usually watching, even if it is subconscious. That eye took in the details around the big kids' Cross Country season and the annual elementary school fun run fundraiser this year, too.

It was the idea behind the 5K Evan and Katie ran to benefit the school in Uganda a couple of weeks ago that brought the images that had been collecting into increasingly sharper focus. The similarities between Reach Out Honduras and the group to benefit from the event were enough to gain my full attention. The day the kids ran, I was fully present cheering them on, but each aspect of the race was being cataloged in my mind (and with the more objective camera) for later consideration. Research and online requests followed as the idea of such an event to benefit Reach Out Honduras ministry and increase familiarity with the name and needs of tiny Puerto Lempira. Last week, a meeting with one of the organizers of the established event that Walker and I participated in earlier this year yielded the incredible opportunity to observe in meetings as the team prepares for their 2011 event. Tomorrow, there will be a meeting with the organizer of the smaller Fun Run for the Ugandan school. There will be a more balanced perspective between the two similar yet disparate groups and events as well as growing knowledge of contacts, important details, and the dreaded what-not-to-do that usually is only revealed through those twins Trial and Error.

The ROH Board has not yet voted on the idea of a fun run. The full proposal is coming together, and one member is seeking leads within our community for potential corporate sponsors to help determine feasibility. It's challenging to know that for less than $100 a family in Puerto Lempira could receive a chicken coop with two chickens and their own garden to provide ongoing sources of nutrition. The funds that could pay for those items pale in comparison to the overall costs of race-related items. That was a difficult thought, but after praying about it, I believe sponsors who would want their business logo on a t-shirt or banner to help put on a running event in our local community are looking at a marketing expense for their company. That may represent a different group than those who would choose to give directly to the humanitarian programs that Reach Out Honduras hopes to administer as a testimony to Christ's love.

It's not yet certain if I'm just riding along checking out the scenery in passing. Or if I'm headed for a transfer that could require recognizing the route along which others have already traveled. Despite feeling insufficient to the task at hand, I know that God's infinite power and grace are more than enough to take those on board far beyond the limitations of the horizon in view. The trepidation is not a lack of faith, or worry over the unknown. It is simply the waiting that comes as one moves toward a destination wondering "Are we there yet?"

Friday, October 29, 2010

Giddy

For months Reach Out Honduras has been awaiting the I.R.S. approval of 501c3 status that would give donors a tax deduction for their contributions. The designation has sometimes felt like asking for a worldly stamp of approval for this organization that serves God, but it is also a set standard that indicates a certain legitimacy. It's been challenging to be patient with the dreams and ideas waiting for word of the approval. Yesterday, the ROH Board of Directors was scheduled to meet, but the 501c3 application that was still pending was casting a long shadow over the meeting agenda.
At Laura's request, I placed a call to the representative yesterday. The ringing was met with his voicemail and I left a message hoping against hope that he would call back. Or that the letter with our approval would appear in the Waits's post office box. That somehow the news would come in answer to so many prayers for this status to be granted.
At around 1:00, my cell phone rang downstairs. I tore down the stairs as the idea that it could be the representative with an answer. Heart-hammering, but too late, I saw the area code that was either the I.R.S. or a sales call that was going to get answered. The phone dumped the call to voicemail while fumbling fingers tried to unlock the touch screen. I had to wait while the caller left a message before calling back, but did so without listening to the message.
The representative answered the call back, and he looked up Reach Out Honduras's information. Stomach in knots, heart hammering, and forgetting to breathe, I heard him say, "Oh, that was approved on on October 1st... Haven't you received our letter yet?" EEEEEEEE! (Fortunately, the shrieking was kept internal.) I thanked him, and was given the address where the letter was sent and a phone number to again change the mailing address listed. He assured me that the letter was a formality, and our group was welcome to proceed with any plans. Even as we have been praying for the approval over the past weeks, God had already provided exactly what was needed. We just did not know it yet.
Hanging up the phone, I, um, ran, laughing out loud at desperately praying for what was already given, through the house as animals scattered seeking cover from which to peer out at my apparent loss of sanity. The sheer relief and celebration of the moment was utterly overwhelming. After the initial reaction, I found the phone numbers for our friends in Honduras, and phoned one number only to fail in reaching a person. The second call yielded Alex who heard the news, and passed it along to Laura with the phone. They totally got the "EEEEEEEE!" from which I'd felt the need to protect the I.R.S. representative's ear.
There are so many possibilities open to Reach Out Honduras. Even with the U.S. economy still shuddering from the contractions of the last couple of years, there are people choosing to give to fund the ministry in Puerto Lempira. With the 501c3 designation, those givers will receive a small worldly return in the form of a tax break. Last night's meeting brought new opportunities that will no doubt be detailed here in the future in hopes that Gentle Reader will pray for and potentially partner with us in some way to benefit the children of Puerto Lempira who are still vulnerable in so many ways, but who have a team of people who are praying for them and now have increased potential to help fill the bellies and minds of those children who have already heard that Jesus wants to fill their hearts.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Judgmental

As our Matthew study moves forward, the questions have been posed for discussion via Facebook: "Have you been judged? Have you judged others?" Ah. There was a lengthy silence from those tagged (who typically speak up and willingly weigh in on any topic). Finally, someone bravely spoke up. The thread progressed as ladies weighed in on how they would define judgment before one piped up to talk about how her thoughts were something she was glad others couldn't hear. I could almost see her cringing.
My response to her willingness to admit to what is also an issue for me was one typed and deleted several times as I gave consideration to what judgment is. Someone suggested that it is forming an opinion of someone else without knowing their circumstances, but that's not quite what I think. I'm not certain what it is, but I think judgment is assigning guilt or innocence. I think it assigns or assumes motive. That's treacherous ground to walk as it is defined by personal perception and experience. Those sorts of thoughts damage my relationships with other people and ultimately with God, but the underlying attitudes must change for my thoughts to become honoring to God. Worse, when I open my mouth giving form to those words, I become a contagion of pride and sin.
Simply seeing that I need to avoid  the assignment of motivation to others helps shed light on why it is crushing to be wrongly assigned motives. Just as those who judged me harshly could not see my heart, I cannot know what's going on in someone else's head. I can choose to seek an attitude of compassion when I suspect sinful motives. Compassion does not hold it's head high in the face of anyone's sin. That is a place from which I can look out on the world with eyes reflective of God's mercy in sending Christ for all the wrong-headed, sinful people like me.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tidbits: Lenses

  • Sometimes I wonder if I am missing out on life because I observe so much of it through the camera's lens.
  • Adults may cringe away from the camera, but it draws chidren.
  • Images are not subject to language barriers.
  • The camera can show you that for which I have no words.
Meet my friend Froggy. We do homework together once a week. It's something we're both pretty excited about. Ironically, he was working on word problems this week. Perhaps there are words to fit being greeted at the door of the afterschool program by Froggy who says, "You came back." Or maybe not.
Working through word problems
Erin went to her first skating lesson. (Her skates have shipped, but they have yet to arrive. She wore the rentals.) She was moving very well. A beginner ice skating class is potentially comical in real life. That does not translate well to the digital still image.
First Skating Lesson
Tomorrow, the Boy will run in the District Cross Country Meet. His mama will be there, watching and trying to capture the moment. And we will later look at the images together.
Preparing for the race
Finally, in three more weeks, we'll leave for a return visit to another world. A place populated by people who have imprinted themselves on my heart.
Rodrigo
Laura and Cinco

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cheapskate

Out of nowhere, last Friday afternoon I looked at the mister and said, "Ice skating lessons!" I then had to frame my reference as a response to his question a week earlier about a birthday gift for our youngest child's 10th birthday. I phoned one of three (Seriously, people, three--- in Texas!) ice rinks within a 12-mile radius to ask about lessons. One was not yet in session, and the call was just in time to register for the next weekly beginner lesson that happens to fall on our only open night of the week. It starts tonight. Her birthday is in November.
So. Yes, the kiddie will receive another early birthday gift since the lessons start before the Big Day. (The stale cupcakes we'll drop off at the school to share at lunchtime the day of her actual birthday may be a little anticlimactic...) In keeping with this year's Early Bird theme, Grandma and Granddad gifted our girl with cash--- probably because she said she wanted a bike. She did not deign to purchase a bike, but instead opted tp sit on her nest egg for a time. This weekend we took her out to shop for ice skates instead of a bike. The outing served as a reminder that our kid has Cadillac taste on a bicycle budget.

The pair she fell for were gleaming white leather boots straight out of Disney's "Ice Princess". They were also priced well above the crumpled bills crammed in our would-be princess's jeans pocket. We left the store with a very sad, disappointed would-be skater and no ice skates. At home, the internet offered up an alternative pair of pearly white leather skates by the same maker at about half the price. Our not-so-little skater will be wearing rental skates for her first lesson tomorrow while we wait for her pair to ship, but she will wear those rentals with the knowledge that her own are on the way. More importantly, by waiting, she's not broke in the acquisition of the skates. That may be the real gift we give her this year.