i'm alone.
empty house.
clean floors.
dark skys.
glass of coke.

hey, a girl can dream... right?

So, for some bizarre reason, I decided to completely torture myself this morning, and browse the Pottery Barn website. I like to get ideas from their rooms displays, and then try to create a similar look for pennies. Unfortunately, as much as this room inspires me, I don't have a space to make into a craftroom... our house is just too small! So for now, I will simply look at this dream room and pretend. Maybe someday...


i've never mentioned...

that I keep up a family blog to keep everyone updated on our family and ministry in Panama! I started the blog when I learned that we were expecting our daughter, back in 2006. I just recently revamped the whole site, and thought you might like to take a look!

BBQ- Panamanian style!

After church today, we went over to Rosalva's house for a BBQ! We joined Rosalva's family, Tony's family, and Bert & Vero for an afternoon of fellowship, great food, and beautiful weather. Anna loved running around the yard playing with the kids, and Eric joined in the impromtu soccer game (excuse me... futbol). It was such a blessing to spend the afternoon with friends... and I am so thankful that the Lord has allowed us to get to know these neat families!

Thank you Auntie Kwista!

for my really super adorable dress! I love it! And look how cute I look in it!

please excuse

the mess! I'm in the process of installing this new design, but I'm leaving it unfinished to go to the mall! So, the button links above this post aren't connected to the appropriate links... that will be fixed soon!

Have a blessed day!



Avalon is one of my favorite groups, and I am inspired and edified every time I listen to their beautiful worship! Just wanted to share a song with you... it starts out a little cheesy, but keep listening... it will pump you up for your call... to testify!

mommychroniclesblog (at) hotmail


i'm official!

Check it out people! I have a custom web address! You can still get to me at http://www.mamaneedstoblog.blogspot.com/ but I am officially http://www.mommychroniclesblog.com/! So fun and exciting! In a few days, it will automatically redirect you to my new address. Also, I have changed my email address because I was getting so much spam. Now I know to post my email in "spam-safe" form.

So my new email is: mommychroniclesblog (at) hotmail (.com)

I'm Featured!!!

Stacey, an author and organizational expert, featured me today on her blog, Moms Get Organized! Go check it out! Also, make sure you stop by her professional blog, Stacey Crew, to get tips on how to stay organized and grab a copy of her new book The Get Organized Guide for Busy Moms!


Isnt' it amazing

how quickly we forget God's faithfulness?

I'm going through Exodus in my devotions right now, and just wanted to share what I'm learning as I allow God to teach me what it means to live for Him and adjust to life on the mission field.

And Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace." Ex.14:13-14

Moses spoke this to the people as they were leaving Egypt and being pursued by Pharoah's army. They had been in bondage in Egypt for 400 years! And just as Moses declared, God did. The Israelites safely crossed the Red Sea, as God parted the waters and made clear and safe their path. The Egyptians, however, suffered a different fate... God faithfully protected His people.

So the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Eygyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Thus Israel saw the great work which the LORD had done in Egypt; so the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD and His servant Moses. Ex. 14:30-31

God had faithfully delivered His people out of bondage and from the pursuit of their enemies. He promised to lead them to the promised land, a land flowing with milk and honey. And now, after witnessing the plagues fall upon Egypt, and after having their firstborn spared by the blood of the sacrifice during the Passover, and after watching the LORD deliver them across the Red Sea and out of harms way, they feared the awesome power and might and goodness of God. And they rejoiced...

"I will sing to the LORD, for He has triumphed victoriously!" Ex.15:1

Not even two months had passed when the Israelites hit hard times... they were hungry. Yet instead of calling out to the God who had so victoriously delivered them just weeks earlier, they complained and cried out to Moses...

"Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger." Ex. 16:3

How quick we are (or at least I am!) to forget God's faithfulness, deliverance, & provision and to long for Egypt. God offers us joy and peace in good places, and we settle for comfortable & mediocre instead. It's easy to criticize the Israelites for their lack of faith and their rebellious hearts. But that's me. I am them. Wanting to go to the promised land, but looking back at Egypt. Lord give me the strength to follow and trust you! He doesn't promise "happiness" or an "easy" life... in fact, He assures us of just the opposite ("In this world, you will have tribulation.. but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." Jesus- John 16:33) But He does promise joy to the full in this life, and eternal life after.

I have a good friend who is also a missionary. She and her husband live and minister in Peru. She sent me this song in an email yesterday, and I couldn't believe how it perfectly fit with my devotions and the things God has been teaching me. Please listen to it, and ask the Lord to show you what your "Egypt" is... what do you need to leave behind so that you can follow Him to the promised land?

Painting Pictures of Egypt- Sara Groves

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Restored 316 Blog Giveaway!

Lauren does amazing web & blog design, and if you haven't browsed her selection of pre-made boutique templates and her portfolio, then you should head on over to Restored 316 Designs! If you are in the market for a custom blog design than you should head on over to her blog and enter! Hurry! Go now! Yes click the big blue box below this sentence! That's right! Bye!



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not like home...

Eric, Anna & I drove out to the school in Los Mortales a few days ago to take photos of all the kids for a Christmas child sponser event we are going to start this year. I decided to take some photos of the classrooms as well, and as a teacher I was really saddened by the state of the classrooms. Dirty cement floors and walls, rickety desks, and an obvious lack of supplies.
2nd & 3rd grade
Kindergarden & 1st Grade

can i get you a glass of water?

hmmm... just wanted to show you what comes out of my sink. It's not always this bad, but even when I fill up a glass and it looks clear and clean, once it sits for awhile, all the red dirt settles on the bottom of the glass... so I know it's in there either way. But today it was especially pretty water. Are you sure you don't want a glass?

Oh, and in case you're curious, we did drink this water whenever it "looked" clean, for the first 4 months we were here... until we realized it really wasn't clean. So now we have a 5 gallon bottle of water on the counter. Ah good times.


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I stumbled upon Kim's blog today- which is truly inspirational and you must go check it out! I stole this video from one of her postings from a few days ago. You simply HAVE to watch this clip. Too funny! (oh and I do know that hilarious is spelled hi- not ha- my husband was very concerned about this... so I thought I'd clear the air)


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i want! i need!

Okay people, keep in mind that I use my computer for a variety of things each day. I have my blogs, graphic design, and daily ministry projects that I am responsible for that require me to use Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, MS Word, Powerpoint, the internet, etc.

But my computer is falling apart. I have a standard Toshiba laptop... it's worked out well these past few years. But after having Anna bash her toys on the keyboard and screen a few hundred times,traveling back and forth between here and the states, and just treating it with a general lack of respect & kindness, it is now on the verge of dying.

I only have one functioning USB port... and that is acting finicky lately. My CD/DVD drive is completely useless, and I now have a big ugly external drive plugged into my one usable USB port. The keys are falling out... I have found the letter 'K' in Anna's mouth on more than one occasion (I know, I know... I should keep the whole thing out of her reach... I know.)

And don't even get me started on the unimaginable slowness of my processor. Everytime I go to open a new document, my screen flashes black and white for a few seconds, then freezes, then the file opens. It does the same thing whenever I save anything. Very. Very. Annoying. (And no, it doesn't have a virus, I just scanned the whole thing yesterday).

So we're saving up. Every penny. I don't know how long it will be before I can afford a new laptop... but I'm in desperate need. And so I have begun torturing myself browsing the Dell and HP websites for my dream laptop. I discovered that you can pick a basic model and then CUSTOMIZE IT JUST HOW YOU WANT IT! This may not be news to you, but it's a brand new concept to me and me likey. Did you know that they come in different colors now!!!???

So here it is... my future pal... I hope... one day... soon... maybe...

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Señor Papa

Little Anna hasn't figured out that these stylin' green glasses belong to
Mr. Potato Head (aka Señor Papa) and not her. But she's so stinkin' cute, we didn't tell her.


Christian. Wife. Mother. Homemaker. Missionary.

These words are my definition- in order of priority. My role is that of a servant, a helpmate, a teacher, a caregiver, and an evangelist. This is no insignificant list. In fact, just reading the description of what I am supposed to be to those that God has given me is intimidating and overwhelming. In and of myself, I can do nothing. My strength and abilities come only from the very throne of God... the throne that He commands us to come to boldly to receive mercy and grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

Today I am struggling to figure out how the "me" fits into this definition. I have so many creative passions within me that are itching to burst out. Perhaps in a 56 hour day I would find time to sweep & mop the house twice, cook & clean up 3 meals, teach & play with my daughter, show love to my husband, wash-hang-take down-put away laundry, read the Word & pray, study spanish, complete my ministry projects, and still have time to sew burp cloths for my best friend's new baby, add pages to Anna's scrapbook, work on a blog design, take the "photoshop for artestry" tutorial I've been eyeing, and begin a new quilt.

Striking the balance is the key- I'm sure of it. I just can't seem to figure out how to strike the balance. Oh Lord, please help me to find that perfect balance. My greatest desire is to be a good and faithful servant, and to be a wise steward of that which You have given me to do. Your Word declares that I should ask for wisdom... please pour it out upon me. The Proverbs 31 woman was a regular gal, and she managed to fulfill her role and find time for industrious hobbies. I have much to learn from this godly christian, wife, mother, homemaker & evangelist.

She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also and he praises her:
'Many daughters have done well, But you excel them all.'
Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.

Proverbs 31:27-30

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sick, sick, sick

We're all sick! Poor Anna seems to be on the mend, though her cough persists. But last night both Eric and I felt the scratchy sore throat begin to come on. This morning I woke up feeling awful, as did Eric. So please pray for us. I have to be here with Anna all day (who is more fussy and needy right now) and Eric has to go to Los Mortales and play with & teach the kids. I won't be doing nursery at church tomorrow because we're both sick, so pray also that the Lord would cover that need.


We recently planted spinach in our backyard because 1) we're trying to become healthier people and 2) to save money. I was very excited about the idea of going out back and plucking spinach leaves to use in a meal. Our spinach, however, is YUCKY! It doesn't taste like the spinach back home... it's incredibly potent and bitter and basically gaggy. Hubby did some research, and it turns out that wild spinach, when grown in hot and humid climates, develops a much stronger and more bitter taste. So I need help. I am determined to begin incorporating our fresh spinach (no matter how gaggy) into dinners... but I am having a hard time finding tried and true recipes involving spinach. We need to develop a tolerance for it before we can just start eating it as a salad. We just aren't there yet. Any spinach recipe suggestions?


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wish i was there...

Do you ever have those days when you wish you on vacation in Hawaii? I'm having one of those today. Everything's fine here... just fine. But for some reason, I just keep remembering our honeymoon to the Hyatt in Kauai. That trip was truly unforgettable, as we don't have the money to go on fancy vacations... it was once in a lifetime. I wish I was there. We don't have our photo albums with us here in Panama, so I can't scan in any of our honeymoon photos, but I'll share some I found on the internet. These photos really show what the place looks like! AHHH Heaven!


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When we first moved here to Panama, Eric and I went to the immigration office in Panama City with all of our paperwork in hand, to "register" with the government... whatever this even means. We figured that Anna didn't have to be present in order for us to register her, since she was only 7 months old at the time. We were wrong. So after waiting for over 3 hours to register ourselves, we knew eventually we would have to do the whole thing over again, with Anna in tow.

Needless to say, we put it off as long as possible. But time on our current visa is running out, and in order to get started applying for our missionary visa, Anna needed to register. So we woke up at 5 am, put poor, very sick Anna into the carseat, and headed to the city... long before the sun came up. We arrived at the immigration building at 6:30 am, and stood in line. Then at 7:30am they opened up the doors and the crazy herd of people rushed inside to form yet another line. They gave us a number. Then we sat and waited... (well, Eric sat... I chased Anna around & then vice versa). But praise Jesus, we were only #6 and were in and out of there in less than 15 minutes.

Total time spent at immigration: 1 hour 45 minutes.

Not bad at all. We were home by 9am and resumed our morning as usual! (And the city water came on after lunch and I was able to do 2 loads of wash, scrub the shower & bathroom with bleach, sweep & mop the floors & clean the kitchen while Anna was down for her nap!) Now that's a productive day! Yay!


it's raining, it's pouring (but there's no old man snorring)

It's really coming down right now. The sky is dark, so the lights are on in the house even though it's only noon. The sound of the torrent on my metal roof is deafening, and the powerful explosions of thunder & lightening are awe inspiring. These frequent downpours are one of my favorite things about living in a tropical land. Something about rain makes me feel creative, energized and motivated. Weird, huh? These downpours also bring the respite of cooler temperatures and gentle breezes, and much needed relief from the deplorable heat and humidity of Panama. It's a good morning here on Calle Principal, Villas Del Campo in La Chorrera. Does anyone else find a good rain to be so peaceful and rejuvenating?


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funnel cake anyone?

One of the most creative blogging mamas I know, Stacey, just posted her Menu Plan Monday posting and treated us to her funnel cake recipe! If you have a hankering for this sweet amusement park delight, check out her recipe! Thanks Stacey!

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to see pics of this sweet family at our church, click HERE.

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update on Anna

to read my post about Anna on Mommy Chronicles, click HERE.

it's just one of those days...

Anna NEVER wakes up at night... she goes down by about 7pm and sleeps until 7am. But last night, I awoke to the sound of her screaming around 4:45am... so I knew something was wrong. I popped out of bed and ran into her room- and the smell that greeted me as I opened the door was nearly overpowering! I knew right away that she must be sick... nothing else would explain the potent odor coming from her diaper. I scooped her up and laid her on the changing table, and proceeded to clean up the explosion. I stripped the crib sheet, changed her PJ's and laid her back down... she was alseep again as soon the Desitin hit her badly rashed skin!
So we both got a few more hours of sleep, and at 7:20 I went in to get her. I took her temp 100.5, not too bad. I plopped her in her highchair and made her oatmeal. I have been trying to give her a chance to use the spoon, and so I let her have a go at it again this morning. As you can see, we have our work cut out for us!
It wasn't long before my poor sick baby began to show us how she felt.
We had use of the truck this morning, and our empty fridge meant that we HAD to go to the grocery store. We have to go as a family because I can't drive a stick... so we loaded up and headed out. Anna was holding up... I could tell she was struggling to keep it together. So, like any rational, frugal parent, I bought her a doll to make her feel better. She was so excited when we got home and I handed it to her. She carried it all around until it was time for a nap!

It's not even 2:30, and poor Anna has already had a pretty rough day. We'll see how the rest of the day goes!


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Tony's Family

Several months ago, Tony, his wife, & their four kids began attending church on Sundays. We have all enjoyed getting to know this precious family, and Eric and I have really enjoyed having the kids over to play with Anna and just relax. Saturday night we decided to have just the two older kids over to watch movies, eat pizza, & sleep over. But first the whole family stopped by for a visit!

kiddos in los mortales

just had to share!


can i just vent for a second?

Moving to another country is difficult... having to ration water during the day, do laundry at 1 am, and be hot and sweaty all the time is hard. But none of that really bothers me. It all makes for humorous stories- those things are not a big deal. Especially when I see the need all around me. I may not have water during the day, but a wonderful family at our church does not have floors in their house! I mean, can you imagine? Even when my family went camping as a kid, we always took matts and our tents had floors, etc. These people have dirt floors! So, I keep my complaints about insignificant things to myself. But today I am frustrated. Not with my circumstances or my location- I'm content in those things. Today I am fed up with myself!

Why don't I remember more spanish? Why can't I recall what I learned in high school? Why didn't I take spanish in college when I had the chance? I lived in Southern California for Pete's sake, why didn't I learn? I taught hispanic students and English language learners in L.A. for three years! Why didn't I learn? I went to a church with wonderful friends, many of whom spoke the language well. Why didn't I learn? When we first got here I studied like crazy! I was making so much progress. Then I got busy with other things... and I've forgotten. Then I spent two months in America, and now it's all but lost. I am so annoyed with myself.

I LONG to get to know the people who are coming to our little fellowship. I want to make friends with the ladies on my street and at the store. I want to share in their burdens, pray with them, be a servant. But instead I listen to everyone, smoldering inside over the fact that I can't contribute to the conversation. I mean sure, I get the general idea much of the time... I understand quite a bit... but I just don't know how to formulate my own thoughts and sentences. I was doing so well the first few months here, but now I've become lazy. But it stops today. I am so sick and tired of being on the sidelines... I want to communicate! So that's it. Instead of spending so much time on other things, I am going to re-prioritize, and include language study again each day. Time to get back on the horse... giddyup! (Wow, sorry that was really lame.)

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Giveaway Winner's Blog Design!

Here is Kaycee's new blog design! It was very fun to work on a sweet, "girly" design... thanks Kaycee! Make sure you check out her fun blog!


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Forgive Me!

Hey everybody! I just wanted to apologize for not posting lately! I've been swamped with projects here, and this blog has taken a back seat to those things. Today I worked very hard to finish up the September newsletter (April, and then September... that's pathetic!). So, I'll have those sent to your email very soon. If you aren't on our mailing list, make sure you send an email to us: tharaldsonfamily@yahoo.com.

I am also working very hard to get a "real" website up and running! So until I get that under control, I may be slow to blog!

Please continue to pray for us! (Oh, and airfare on www.expedia.com is still only like $400 ROUNDTRIP & DIRECT from LAX to Panama City (PTY). So come visit!!!

slowing down...

This week has just been flat out too busy. I'm exhausted. You know the expression, 'when it rains... it pours' ? That's how this week has been for me. I was given some projects to do for our ministry here (just a few little things like develop an entire church website, create a complete brochure for the Bible Ministry School, complete and send off the September CC Panama newsletter) on top of launching this blog, running the giveaway and tonight designing and installing the winner's new blog design. I've also just been feeling "blah" and tired... and not sleeping well. In general, I think I have just taken on too much!

But tonight I am turning a new leaf. I have completed the newsletter and brochure. I have a good start on the website (at least I've figured out how to do what I didn't know how to do before), and am finished with the various other design projects that I had going on.

Tomorrow I get to sleep in (Saturdays are my "sleep in day" where hubby does all of my normal morning tasks). I LOVE Saturdays. I get up late. I read my Bible in bed and I don't get up until my baby girl goes down for a nap. I love her to pieces, believe you me, but one morning a week it is so wonderful to stay in my PJ's and just have time to myself (and I think it's fun for Eric and Anna to have some father/daughter time). Plus, I need to prep myself for tomorrow night- we are having a couple of pre-teens over for pizza and a sleepover (these kids live with their entire family in a one bedroom shanty- 4 metal walls and a dirt floor). So to them, my tiny cement house is a palace... and I intend to spoil them with pizza and homemade cookies!

So, here's to rest & my sleep in day! Goodnight!

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Giveaway Winners!

I was absolutely blown away by the amount of entries I received! So, I decided that with so many entries, it was only right that I choose 2 winners! Here they are... by random selection:

Kaycee (Life as a Mom at 21) & Beth (blog unlisted)

Please email me at: mommychronicles@hotmail.com so that we can begin discussing the plans for your new custom blog design!

To the rest of you, thank you so very much for entering my giveaway! I have decided that I can take on 2 - 3 custom blog designs per month for a very reasonable fee. If you would like to receive a quote on the cost of a new blog design, please email me and describe the blog design you are hoping for! I can design a custom blog, navigation bars, category buttons and even a favicon (the little square icon next to your blog address). I will reply to your email promptly!

I would also recommend visiting Restored316Designs if you are in the market to order a custom blog design. Lauren, a personal friend of mine, does fantastic work and you will be thrilled with your new blog!

Please visit Mommy Chronicles again so you don't miss out on digital scrapbook freebies and other awesome giveaways! Blessings!


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A Glimpse of Our Neighborhood

As we were leaving for our afternoon walk yesterday, I decided that I would bring along my camera and take some photos of our neighborhood. Enjoy! :)
...heading down the street...
...hmmmm, my favorite would have to be the blue bolders as lawn decor...

...neato trees...

...some in weird planters...

...photo opp...

... Anna makes a friend, they are picking up trash by the way...
...our lovely park...
...daddy & Dewey...
... leaving the park...
...we pass an interesting house...
... home sweet home...


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