Monday, May 31, 2010

Thankful... day 8

Tonight I'm thankful for...

our permanent visas (after taking some newbies to start their one-year visa process I was reminded just how thankful I am that we're through with the process)

spaghetti sauce out of a jar.

a great day at their new school for the boys!

naked booties running down the hall for bathtime :)

Grant deciding that rather than talking today he'd just growl all day long :)

the threat of the spank spoon, that apparently was scary enough yesterday that we didn't actually have to use it today!

strawberry peach frozens (like a frozen fresh fruit smoothie)

the promise of an hour to myself tomorrow for a manicure/pedicure!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Thankful... day 7

Tonight I'm thankful for...

the fact that I got myself, Nathan, Grant and Joshua, bathed, dressed, fed and to church before singing began (and without househelp thank you very much)!

Bolivian sisters at church who took care of Joshua all through service so I could tend to the older two hooligans.

hearing Nathan and Grant giggling with each other as I headed up the hall after putting Joshua to sleep.

the spank spoon.

long hugs and talks after the spank spoon.

a fresh pitcher of Kool-aid.

Joshua enjoying sitting in his Bumbo and playing (b/c at least one kid's going to get their money's worth out of it).

a nap (yeah you read that right!) that allowed me to have said nap (while Nathan played and his brothers napped).

the end of my first day without househelp since Gary left.

the boys first day of school tomorrow!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Thankful... day 6

Well today was a rough day... said good-bye (for now) to a dear dear friend... she and her family are headed stateside for a year-long furlough which means we won't see each other again this side of the equator. God was so amazing to bless me with her friendship... just makes it really hard to say good-bye... so amidst all the emotional rollercoasterness that's going on inside right now, the thankfulness is harder to come by today... but I'm determined, so here I go:

Tonight I'm thankful for...

donut holes this morning with Kaitlynn in between her sweet hugs and big smiles.

Rosaria, the new teenage girl who helps me with my groceries on Saturday... scouting out the best prices and making vendors do me right :)

the left over Mother's Day flowers that Jenny so sweetly (and beautifully) arranged in a marshmallow creme jar that took me by surprise at just the right moment and made me smile!

Mercy's sweet chubby arms wrapped around my neck... and her farewell waves with Patience from their balcony until Nathan and I were out of sight.


A baby who's asleep.

the night-time cup of coffee that's kicking in to get me through the boys' bedtime routine.

(and my most thankful moment of all day... after I had completely lost it and yelled at my kiddos)... Grant coming into the kitchen when I called him, me down on my knees to ask for forgiveness for yelling, and him coming up, wrapping his loving arms around his mommy and patting me on the back softly over and over again while I cried... and not the sweet soft cries, the ugly I'm glad I didn't scare my kid cries...

It's been quite a day huh?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Thankful... day 5

Tonight I'm thankful for...

an amazingly productive morning (even with Nathan in tow :)

Nathan playing well and enjoying his visit to his new preschool.

Sonia's safety after her purse was stolen last night on the street.

the red marker that marks off another day down until Gary comes home :)

Bolivian sisters taking the initiative to set up a prayer meeting at the same time that the stateside conference was starting to ask for blessings over everyone's efforts and time together.

Nathan's sweet desire to pray with everyone during that prayer time.

the promise of a last breakfast with dear friends, American style donuts, and getting to meet sweet Kaitlynn for the first time :)

new pirated movies to keep me and the boys entertained... hey, don't judge... and speaking of new movies :)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thankful... day 4

Tonight I'm thankful for...

the roast that turned out great for lunch :)

dear friends stopping by with flowers to wish me a Happy Mother's Day!

the fact that today I didn't drink the whole pot of coffee by myself :)

getting to talk to my hubby.

internet that allows me to still feel connected to the outside world, no matter how many hours a day I spend with three little boys in this apartment.

the fact that I didn't do one load of laundry today!

sweet little boy arms that encircle my mommy neck while they whisper in my ear... you're my mommy... I love you!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Thankful... day 3

Roast cooking in the crock-pot for Mother's Day lunch tomorrow!

Grant finally realizing he's a big brother and really starting to interact with Joshua.

Watching Grant's big bear paws pat his little brother on the head (shockingly gently I might add :)

The fact that no one killed each other even though by 9 o'clock this morning we had been in 5 time-outs and had 2 spankings.

Nathan coming in and telling me that "Grant hurt his head because he was running around CRAZY like a Jo-Jo"

Joshua's sweet smile coming back after the sickies.

A good long nap.

Fresh avocados.

Nathan excited about going shopping with me tomorrow... and on that note, sleep would be a good thing for said shopping outing :) night night!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


In the spirit of keeping my attitude positive while I'm holding down the fort, I thought I'd take a sec every night to write down a few things from the day that I'm thankful for (as opposed to dwelling on the craziness that is my life for the next three weeks :)

Nathan dancing his little booty out to Mama Mia :)

Grant's belly laugh whenever we play!

Jenny who takes such great care of my boys so that I can get things down outside the house and catch a quick nap too!

Joshua's feeling better... seems like his little nose is drying up so that means he's sleeping better.

Renan (a brother from church who has a taxi) who picks up Nathan everyday from school so that I know someone that I trust is bringing him home safe and sound.

Chocolate leftovers from last night's movie night.

A new disc of Lie to Me to keep me distracted after the boys go to bed.

New flip tops on the boys juice boxes... you'd understand this if you had been cutting open the corner of juice boxes for the last five years to have them gush all over you, or the counter, or the floor!

That one of my dear friends gets to take home her new daughter tomorrow :)

The gumption to get in bed before midnight... here I go :)

Ugly moments...

As I'm sure many of you know, stress levels are a little high here in the Bull house.

We're saying good-byes or having "lasts" on a daily basis... We're making decisions about stateside life and how our transition is going to play out (or we're not making decisions b/c we're still too far out which is even more stressful)... We're selling our things here in our home, which even though they're just things is still emotional... We're weighed down by alot and it's beginning to wear on us... ok, I'll speak for myself, it's beginning to really wear on me.

The other night Gary and I were having a "discussion" in the kitchen. I don't even remember what it was about (which means it must have been so important right?). I don't remember raising my voice. I don't remember feeling like we were having a fight. But what I do remember, and what will forever be enblazened in my mind is the look that Nathan had on his face when I turned around and realized he was in the room... he looked up at me with such sad little eyes and said, "Mommy, you talked ugly to Daddy." And as much as I wanted to deny it, to correct him and tell him that he simply misunderstood, he was right. It absolutely broke my heart to see the disappointment in my son's eyes. It brings tears to my eyes even now.

It was a humbling, heart breaking moment. One that I'm most certainly not proud of and one that I hope to never repeat, but I'm trying to see the good that can come from it... in that moment I was reminded of how deeply I affect my children and our home by the words I use, my tone of voice, and the way in which I handle conflict. I want to be a family that handles conflict openly and in a healthy way. I want my children to be able to identify and communicate well their feelings and thoughts. I want them to be able to dialogue through conflict or discussions in a respectful manner... none of which I did that night in the kitchen.

My son reminded me well that night that respect for my husband, for my children, for other's in my life, and ultimately for my God is something I struggle with greatly when I'm stressed... no excuses, just where I'm at. It makes me think of carving a pumpkin or cutting up a papaya... you know the gooey yucky that resides inside those fruits? I long for God to come and cut out, scrape out, clean out all the yuckies... Once they're cleaned out they are so yummy, but without the cleaning, the preparation, they're just ooey gooey mess. Life is always going to bring its stresses no matter where we live... even though it feels really intense right now... I'm praying that learning how to handle the stresses of this year in a Godly, respectful and honoring way will allow me to carry those lessons into the future of our family... so that I never see the disappointment in my sweet son's face again.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Grant is sick... runny nose, cough, fever, ear infection kinda sick. It brings out the worst in him... the whinies, the complaining, the "I can't get comfy-ness", the I don't want to eat anything, and the I don't want to let you out of my sight-ness. It's hard having little ones who are sick. It's taxing, wearing, and draining. But tonight as I tucked in my two oldest and Grant cried (as is his M.O. these days), patting his pillow beside him and saying "night, night" Gary and I realized that it mattered very much to him who laid beside him for the falling asleep cuddling that was about to take place. The daddy tried. He took up the position on the indicated patted pillow, he tried the cuddling, but the tears continued to flow... nope, it was the Mama, and only the Mama, that my sweet little chunky monkey wanted. The whining and the crying of the day became a little less draining as I realized that I, the Mama, in this moment held the superpower to heal my little boy... not his body (I'll leave that to the antibiotics), but his sweet little aching heart :) Lord, thank you with all my heart for placing within me the mama-ness that I need to be there for these precious boys... may you always remind me that I am valued by them in ways that I will never see or understand... and what a tremendous privilege and honor that is!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The weight of responsibility...

Being a mom has turned my world upside down in so many ways. I'm not a leader, I'm not a go-getter, I'm not a type-A or need to be in the spotlight kinda gal... I'm happy to be the one in the kitchen washing dishes, spending time talking with the guest who's been sitting by themselves in the corner, and doing the little things that others around me may never see or realize that I've done.
Because of who I am and how I'm wired, I have a hard time being the sole person responsible for anything... for housework, for chores, for ministry, and for parenting. Thank goodness for my wonderful partner and husband who shoulders so much of the parenting responsibility with me in our family. If I'm completely honest with myself this desire to avoid the sole responsibility of raising our children is a fear of failure... a fear that I will fall short, mess up, and fail my children and that the buck will stop here.
I've looked at parenting like this for so long... it's been a pressure, a burden I've carried around trying to throw off or share with someone else so as not to have to carry it alone. The beauty in being a daughter of the King is that I don't carry this role of Mama alone and for that I will be eternally grateful... and at the same time, God has been opening my heart (slowly but surely) to the absolutely amazing gift I have been given in getting to be the Mama of these three precious boys I call sons.
After traveling back to the states with Joshua and being away from Nathan and Grant for 2 weeks it was so clear to me that I alone am the Mama. There is no one else in this world who can be that for them... no one else who knows their tickle spots, knows their cries, knows their laughter, knows their favorites, knows how they like their sandwiches cut up, knows how they like their clothes put on, knows how they like to be tucked in at night, and knows the bed time songs to sing them to sleep. If God had revealed this insight to me a few weeks ago I would have been overwhelmed with the pressure, the responsibility of it all... but for some reason this week has found me overwhelmed with the privilege and beauty of it all... how amazing that I, so human and so flawed, get to be such an important part of these little boys' lives?!
God has been so good to me in blessing me with my Nathan, my Grant, and my Joshua. Being their Mama has changed my life, changed my heart, and changed my soul. As we keep looking towards all the changes that are coming up for our family this year God gently reminded me of how much these three little boys will depend on me. Their little world's are about to change in some big ways... their circles of friends, way of life, church family and community will change so quickly. And while it's going to be so great for them to have family and friends close when we are back stateside, it will take time... time for our stateside family and friends to get to know them again, to reacquaint themselves with all that is the Bull boys :) and during that time of transition I will be a constant for them... I am, and will always be, the Mama. It is a humbling role, and yet one that I am savoring in a new way and embracing with open arms.
I'm realizing at the same time that to be the foundation that they will need during this time of transition, my feet must be planted firmly on the Rock that is my constant... my foundation... my all.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

While Nathan's away...

Grant and I decided that a great way to spend the morning was making fudge and then licking the pot, spoon, and anything else we could find with chocolate on it... here's hoping he'll still take a nap today with all that chocolate in his system :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


In almost 10 years of marriage Gary and I have had our share of moves. We've lived in 6 different homes to be exact.

Our first home was a one bedroom apartment with its stack washer/dryer unit that only held two bath towels at a time (maybe I exaggerate a little). It was a wonderful place to start as newlyweds :) There that we had our first Christmas as a married couple (with the craziest Charlie Brown cedar tree... ok, it was really a bush... that you've ever seen :), and survived an ice storm trapped for a few days surviving on peanut butter and crackers and playing every wedding present board game we could before our fingers went numb :)

From there we moved to our second home when we bought our first house. It would be the place where I would get my first dog, mow my first lawn, pay our first mortgage payment, and the first place we would get to put our personal touches on as a couple.

Brownwood would be our third home. This would be the home where we welcomed news of being pregnant, twice... where we would welcome Nathan into this world... and where we would say our good-byes to friends and family as we left the states to move across the world (or so it felt).

We started our life here in Cochabamba in home number 4, a small downtown apartment that gave us the opportunity to get to the know the city inside and out, learn streets and shops, and learn how to live life walking and not driving.

We moved from downtown to home number 5 a house farther north in hopes of a little peace and quiet. We welcomed Nathan's first dog into our family, had our first Bolivian Christmas, and there found out that Grant would soon be joining the ranks of the Bull herd. In moving north of town we realized in a South American culture, we really are downtown people...

So back downtown we went to home number 6... our current apartment. This is the home where I have welcomed my two youngest into the world, learned how to do hospitality in my own way, and learned the value (and flexibility) of living downtown where drop-ins from church members and friends are frequent and welcomed. It's this apartment that boasts the longest run of all our homes. This August will mark 3 years in this home for the Bull family. And for some reason today that fact has hit me really hard. I was a pregnant mom of a one year old when we moved into this home. Nathan has had his 2nd, 3rd, and 4th birthdays here... Grant and Joshua have only known this apartment as home... we've celebrated 3 Christmases within these walls... we know our neighbors and are part of a community that I treasure.

I am so excited to move back to the states, that needs to be said, but there is a huge part of me that is aching because for all the frustrations and irritations that living in another culture can bring, this is home. This apartment is home... the pencil marks down the hallway walls, the toilet that runs at 3 am, the water pump that has caused me more heartache than I could have ever imagined, the elevator that always seems to be serviced when I have a huge load of groceries to bring up 3 flights of stairs, and the concrete walls that make it impossible to hang pictures on them... but it's also the home in which I've learned to be a mommy of two and now three little boys. It holds the nursery into which I've welcomed two precious sons... nursing and rocking and praying in the wee hours of the morning over their sweet little hearts and souls. It holds the kitchen in which I've learned to enjoy cooking. It's here that we've made important family decisions about having a third child, how long to stay on the field, and our plans for when we return stateside. It's here that I've played chase with my sons, had tickle wars until our sides hurt from laughter, watched my husband play for hours with our boys, grown in appreciation for what a great husband and daddy Gary is, and understood better who I am and allowed God to teach me, stretch me and mold me into he has planned for me to be.

We've had our share of heartache here... and I'm not saying that it's been all rose-colored glasses... but for better or worse, this is home and has been for the longest stretch of our married life. In about 6 months I will pack up our life, sell off most of our things and walk out that front door for the last time. I know that what awaits us on the other side will be great, hard, but great... but I want to give value to what I leave behind... the place in which we've lived the longest, and grown the most... home.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

True Encouragement...

The other day found be back in our bedroom folding clothes (does laundry never end? with three boys, I'm thinking the answer is no :). Grant and Nathan were playing up front in their playroom and having a great time. Amidst the giggles and activity that I heard, Nathan said to Grant, "Great shot Grant, great shot!" It wasn't a flippant remark, or one made in passing. The words that my oldest spoke to his little brother came from the bottom of his big heart. You could hear the pride and excitement in his voice... he was truly rejoicing with his brother over a great achievement! Granted, that achievement was throwing a ball into the light fixture above his head... but that's a story for another day :) back to my point...

Nathan reminded me that day of the beauty of encouragement. In that moment of joy, he rejoiced with his brother. Here is Grant a roly poly two year old who adores his big brother... follows him around the house just looking for chances to interact with him, play with him, and be with him. Nathan will probably never understand what those simple words meant to his brother that day. And I started thinking to myself how that true joy that Nathan expressed over Grant's victory has become a lost art in today's world... I see the loss within myself and even at times within Christ's body.

It's hard isn't it? There are times when I've found it hard to truly rejoice in the victories of my fellow man... to see someone else "getting ahead" or being "blessed" and not struggle with envy or disappointment that it wasn't me. My sweet son taught me that day that Paul's words in Thessalonians are attainable... "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up." I want to be a sister in Christ who truly rejoices with every fiber of my being with my friends, family, and even acquaintances when wonderful things happen in their lives'. I want that rejoicing to be pure, to come without a twinge of envy, resentment, or selfishness... to be the friend doing cartwheels in the aisle, jumping up and down in excitement, and praising God for the wonderful things that my brothers and sisters are able to do in this life, and the great blessings they experience. Oh may God continue to work on the selfishness in my human heart, and teach me through my children what it means to rejoice with and encourage those around me with faith like a child!