Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cooking Lessons

My husband is learning to cook!  My nurse told me I should rest as much as I can this week and to let the hubby do the cooking... so he has been great in helping around the house, doing the dishes and getting me things.  The first few days after I got home from the hospital I felt nauseous all the time, it really was awful.  But thank God that I'm feeling much better now!  I still have some back pain, but the nausea has gone away.  

Israel cooking some spaghetti for himself (I'm on a pretty strict diet until my busted kidney is fixed again).

Prior to this week, Israel hasn't done any cooking before.  He grew up in a home with lots of doting ladies always keeping him out of the kitchen and making all the meals.  I was feeling so bad I would just be laying on the bed, giving out directions to him as he did all the cooking.  He's now successfully made an omelette, spaghetti, and of course-- rice, which I told him now makes him a real Cuban.

I'm excited for when we have a bigger kitchen someday soon where we can cook together!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Arroz con Chicken

I used to watch "I Love Lucy" everyday after I got home from school when I was younger.  Our family would also watch it together in the evenings sometimes.  We would often quote her famous "Vitameatavegamin" commercial and I would laugh so hard at all the sorts of trouble she would get into.  Little did I know that this crazy redhead would somehow reflect my future life.

There was an "I Love Lucy" marathon on the Hallmark channel earlier today, and well, when you're sick there's not a whole lot you can do other than sleep or watch TV... so Israel and I watched several episodes and started seeing similarities between the show and us.

1.  Lucy was born in the U.S. and is from a "white European" background, married to Ricky, a Cuban born in Cuba and later moved to the U.S.
2.  They often joke about Ricky's control of the English language, words he has trouble pronouncing
3.  Ricky often translating for Lucy when relatives or friends who only speak Spanish come over

I love this dialogue between them when Lucy is once again teasing Ricky about his accent:

Lucy:  "I haven't told you this before, dear, but you speak with a slight accent."
Ricky:  "You can understand me, can't you?
Lucy:  "Well now yes, but I've learned to listen with an accent."

In the following clip, Lucy tries to explain to her mother-in-law what she's making for dinner.  I often feel like this, too....

For the record, I do know how to say chicken and rice in Spanish.  ;)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I've learned not to brush off back pain...

Yesterday was craaaaazy.  What I thought was just a strained back muscle turned out to be a kidney infection.  I'll start from the beginning...

Around 5:30 yesterday morning, I woke up feeling like I couldn't breathe or move.  Pain coursed through the entire left side of my back, but I couldn't pinpoint just where on my back it hurt-- this is why I thought it might just be a strained muscle.  I sat up in bed for about twenty minutes, seeing if the pain would subside but it didn't.  I finally woke up my husband and told him what was going on.  After a little praying, we decided that going to the hospital would be the best thing to do, because my back pain just wasn't going away.  It was such a good thing that my husband didn't work until 12 that day!

Israel drove me to the emergency room and I was surprised by how quickly we got in.  I explained to my two nurses what was going on, and when the doctor came in to assess my condition he immediately thought I might have a kidney stone.  I was really scared about this possibility because I've heard how painful those can be.  Yikes!

I began a series of tests so they could figure out what was going on... the first was a urine test.  That was interesting to say the least, because I hadn't had anything to drink and didn't have a lot to give them.  Next I got hooked up to an IV, and they filled two vials of my blood to be tested.  I felt pretty at ease with my nurses, one was a girl and the other a guy, who kept joking around and providing a pretty light atmosphere.  I asked the male nurse if I needed to take off my ring before he put in the IV, but after he assured me it would be fine to keep it on, a few minutes later he said, "Yeah, you know how I said it'd be fine to keep your ring on?"  I looked down and there was blood trickling down my fingers and all over the ring!  It was soon washed off and looked like nothing ever happened.

My next test was a CAT scan.  I was wheeled through the whole hospital to reach this destination.  It's a bit of an awkward thing when you're lying on a bed, wheeled around-- do you make eye contact with people walking down the hallway?  Do you smile?  Or try not to hide how pathetic you feel?  I'm not sure how this hospital etiquette stuff works.  After the CAT scan was done, they took me back to my room where my patient husband was waiting.  We waited for at least another hour, while the nurses pumped fluids through my veins to keep me hydrated, before the doctor came in to tell me that it was indeed a kidney infection.

The nurses then administered a heavy painkiller-- they say it's a cousin to Morphine-- which definitely took effect on me very quickly.  Having not eaten or drank anything all morning, I soon felt very, very hot and nauseated.  The nausea went away when the nurses came in and gave me oxygen through my nose for another hour.  They also gave me the first dose of the antibiotic through my IV.  And at last, I was finally released and free to go after my 5 hour stay.  I was relieved to not be tangled up in so many cords and be more comfortable at home.

I felt another wave of intense nausea as we drove home... my skin was really pale and my lips looked almost blue.  It was scary.  But Israel gave me some bread and water when we got home and I was feeling better soon.

I have to say that the one cool thing about being at the hospital was that I've never been addressed as Elena Sanchez or Mrs. Sanchez so much before!  I loved it!  I even kept my little hospital bracelet.  I'm still getting used to my new name.  :)

I'm so thankful for such a loving, patient and attentive husband who has taken such good care of me in the last couple of days.  He's been a great nurse!  :)  His family has also been so kind since Israel has to be at work during the day and I am home alone, they've been making regular visits bringing me all kinds of juice and soup.  Here's to hoping this passes quickly!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ramblings of a Restless Housewife

I was about to read more in my current book, Into the Wild (future book review to come), when I felt that guilty twinge that I should be productive and get something accomplished.  It seems like there's always something to clean or take care of, so I decided to indulge those guilty feelings and tackle the thing I dread the most-- cleaning out the fridge.

I must admit that this is the household chore I abhor the most, and I confess that I often let the leftovers set in their containers much longer than I should... dare I say how long?   No.  But it's far too long.  I always put it off as long as I can, because I guess I keep hoping said leftovers will be eaten... but soon, the time for them to be consumed has long gone, and then I have the task to clean them out.  I decided to tackle the entire fridge.  A few trash bags and some humility later, I had filled the sink with Tupperware containers with massive amounts of Ajax and scorching hot water.

To avoid this awful task in the future, I now vow to no longer leave leftovers in the fridge for longer than ___ days? weeks?  You'll never know.

Feeling like I needed to get out of the apartment, I went for my semi-daily exercise routine.  This usually consists of walking for two minutes, jogging for another two minutes, and then sprinting for about one minute, and then repeating this whole process as I go around the neighborhood a few times.  I love the feeling of sprinting as hard and fast as I can!  Running isn't my favorite mode of exercise but it's all I can do for now until I get a bike-- so I will do it in small doses.  :)

Living on these verses this week

"May all those who seek, inquire of and for You, and require you [as their vital need] rejoice and be glad in You; and may those who love Your salvation say continually, Let God be magnified!"
-Psalm 70:4, Amplified

"Trust in the Lord and do good, dwell in the land and feed on faithfulness... commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him and He will act."
-Psalm 37: 3,5, ESV

God's Word has been truly coming alive to me this last week, in a way that hasn't happened in a long time.  I'm thankful for this time right now, however hard it is, because the Lord gives me little glimpses of the future and I'm encouraged.  I want to rely on God's Word more and more, because I know this is what helps me the most.  Learning to trust God is one of the hardest things to do, but when I look back on so many other times when He's been incredibly faithful, how can I question His goodness?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Out of the Waiting Room

Sometimes I feel like the hugest whiney baby.

Just the other night, I was feeling down once again about not knowing enough Spanish, not having any friends, not having a job, and feeling so disconnected here.  This whole process is one of the most difficult times in my life.  My husband really is a patient man and puts up with the craziest stuff and emotions from me.  I'm very, very thankful for that.  What a blessing he is!

My husband and I have been wanting to get involved at the church we've been going to, and we tried going to this one small group but it just didn't seem to be working out, or that it just wasn't the right time.  Once we got back from Orlando, we were determined to try and find one and start attending so we could meet people.  We had seen on this list of small groups that there was one called "Young Couples."  The other couple-ish type one is called "Adult Married."  So because it did not specify that it was for married couples, we just thought it was a study for pre-engaged or engaged couples, which seemed a little strange.

But Israel decided to call about an hour before it started and find out what they really were all about.  We learned that it was in fact for young married couples, just like us!  We ate a hurried dinner and then drove over to the study.  We were the first couple there, and the leader explained that most of the people arrive on "Cuban time," which usually means a little later than what you time you tell people. But shortly after we arrived, another couple came in the door.  

Since we were the only ones there, we got to talking with this couple and learned that they were in a very similar situation.  They had just gotten married in August, and the girl had just moved here, too, and was going through all of the stuff I have been experiencing since moving here.  Soon the other couples started arriving we began a new series on Romans 8.  We all answered questions around the room at the end, and I was very surprised by how real everyone was with their own struggles and sins.  I don't think I've ever been involved in a Bible study where people were truly transparent about their weaknesses.  I shared my own, with my tendencies to throwing a lot of self-pity parties, whining and complaining about the hardship of moving here, and not trusting God enough, not being content enough.  The girl I had been talking to at the beginning spoke up after me, and said she was going through the exact same thing. It really was a humbling time.  

Both my husband and I were feeling so overwhelmed by the greatness of God when we left.  We couldn't stop talking about what had happened at Bible study.  It's amazing that when it seems like you're waiting and waiting for God to move, suddenly He does-- and it's completely perfect.  It's times like these when I truly learn how important it is to trust Him.  We could have gotten involved in another study, or missed last night, or whatever-- but it was all part of God's plan for us to wait until it was just the right time.  God is so cool!!  

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Still Learning

To edit my photos, I use Photoshop Elements.  Even though it's the more simple version of Photoshop, you still get most of the basic tools while not paying $800.  I got mine at the Washburn Bookstore for less than $60 with my Washburn ID.  

Anyways, I've been using this program for the last three years and just discovered a new technique last night!  It's the Adjust Color for Skin Tone feature, which allows you to adjust the levels of red and blue in portraiture shots.  I'll give you this example, which is of two dear ladies, Betty and Jayne.  This shot was taken in a bathroom and I did not want to use my flash, which brings out the natural light more but also has a tendency to make skin appear more yellow.  I was able to fix it though with my new favorite tool!

Before, unedited

After, using the Skin Color Adjustment tool

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Power of Nonverbal Skills

They say that you never truly learn a second language until you're fully engulfed by it.  I have never experienced that more than I do now on a regular basis.  I've never lived anywhere where Spanish can always be heard, often more than English.

I had prided myself on my three years of high school Spanish, and then three years of college-level Spanish for so long... until I moved to Miami.  What a wake-up call!  It's difficult when you are actually trying to actively engage in conversations.  I feel like I'm constantly translating in my head.  The Cuban accent is particularly hard for me to understand, but lately I have noticed a change in that it is getting a little easier.

Whenever I see Israel's family, there's usually a lot of translating going on.  And when I try to speak Spanish, I usually just say very short sentences.  This hasn't been like a lot of relationships I'm used to forming, with so little communication.  But despite all that, we've been able to form a bond, and I truly do love all of them a lot.

It's amazing that despite language barriers, you can still get along well with someone and learn about their personality, though it may not be through verbal communication.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Letting go... ugh

I've always had trouble not wearing my emotions all over my face.  So I'd like to write about something tonight that's been on my mind for a while.

Moving away is hard.  Even when you're married to the most incredible man in the world, it doesn't change how difficult it is to pack up and leave everything you've ever known and start over in a new place, not knowing anyone, getting involved in a new church, meeting new people, sometimes not understanding the language being spoken.

I miss not having friends around.  I have my moments when I get overwhelmed by this whole process and sob to my husband, who always encourages me that this is only for a time.  It will get easier.  It will get better.  I'm thankful that we no longer have to be separated 1500 miles like we had been for the majority of our relationship.

The thing is, I've never been the friend who moved away.  Growing up, I had a number of really close friends move, and that's not easy when you're just a kid dealing with that.  Not that it's that much easier when you're adult.  But for the first time, I'm the one who moved halfway across the country.  I was scared of moving partly because I didn't know which friendships would last, and which would not.

Friends are really important to me, and once I consider you a friend, I'll consider you as a friend for life.  So it definitely hurts that a lot of people haven't tried to keep in touch, while only a few have.  I guess that's when you realize who really cares about you or considers you a friend, too.  Because yeah, you can say that long distance friendships take more work, but really they don't.  I'm just a phone call away.  It's been hard, having a few friends completely cut off communication with me.  I guess I don't understand why distance must end a friendship.  I've been extremely thankful for the people who have tried to keep in touch.

I don't want to sound bitter.  I really don't.  I guess I'm just feeling sad about the loss of some friends.  I've never been good at letting go... especially letting go of people.  Moving away-- it's such an important time to have your friends there for you, because it's hard starting over in a completely new place.  I would be so lonely if not for my family and for the few friends who have been available, and of course my husband, to talk to.  So, thank you.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Christmas in Kansas

I realize I haven't written about our time in Kansas yet, and it's hard to summarize our time there.  For me, it was just magical.  As soon as we got to KCI and drove in the back of my brother-in-law's car to my parent's house, I looked out the window and instantly felt warm inside although it was a chilly 19 degrees.  Not that Miami hasn't had its cold days, but for the most part I've been soaking up the warm Miami sun for the last three months... so the cold was a bit of a shock to my system.

I know it's different when you live there and soon get tired of the cold, but it was refreshing to me.  I remember so many times dreading the walk from your car to wherever your location might be.  We did Secret Santa with everyone this year (the guys had the guys and the girls had the girls), and my husband had my brother-in-law.  We went Christmas shopping shortly before we left, and Israel got Justin a pair of linesman pliers at Walmart.  As we were looking at different brands, my husband asked me, "Maybe we should wait until we're in Topeka until we buy them since they could be considered a weapon?"  Dreading going shopping on Christmas Eve and facing the busy Walmart crowd I said, "No I'm sure it will be fine."

Those words would come to haunt me later as we ran our carry-on bags through the X-ray, and Israel got pulled aside.  His Christmas present was confiscated, due to it being an inch too long to carry.  Shortly after we got to my parents' house we went on another trip to Walmart to buy more pliers.  :)

When we first arrived at my parents' house, greeted and hugged everyone, I was overwhelmed with this feeling of intense nostalgia.  I almost cried.  Other than about ten months spent living with a few other girls in another house, and two months in California one summer, this where I lived my entire life.  I grew up there.  I played dress-up with my two sisters constantly, often transforming the living room into a large fort, train station, or office.  We would spend cold winter mornings huddled by the furnace next to my dad's chair, holding our dog Minnie on our lap, and waiting for the warm air to come out.

I love Christmas there.  My mom usually goes all out, turning the house into a Christmas winter wonder land, decorations, red and green everywhere.  Our Christmas tree was not the traditional organized strictly ball ornaments and white lights-- it was a hodge podge of ornaments we had made in school, little animals, tinsel, and colored lights decorating the whole tree.  It was cozy and wonderful.

Our time there went by way too fast, but I'm so grateful for the time we did have.  It was simply lovely and so refreshing for me to be back around family and close friends.

Some highlights:

- exchanging gifts on Christmas Eve with our Secret Santa's... and finding out who had who.
- my dad while playing Catch Phrase is pretty much the funniest thing ever... he'll slip on his glasses to read the word, take them off, put the reader down, and act it out with some awesome gesture :)
- seeing the light show at TBC... well, the condensed version, without the live actors
- driving around Potwin, looking at all the beautiful old Victorian homes and their displays
- having my uncle John and aunt Lavina come over on Christmas Day, and making gingerbread houses
- seeing lots of friends at Tricia's house for a Christmas/birthday party
- being back at TBC
- coffee with Tricia at a new coffee shop downtown
- dancing it up at Rachel's with Just Dance... and watching my husband and Tricia's brother dance to "Rasputin."  Hilarious.
- celebrating my husband's birthday a day early with cake and Lord of the Rings.
- a constant supply of chocolate and other yummy goodies... fudge that Renae brought from Indiana, chocolate torte cake, chocolate sheet cake, Lavina's oh so delicious butter-horn rolls, chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies... oh my.  I've gained a pound just listing all of these!
- enjoying the space heater in our room.  Oh how I love those!

It was everything I hoped it would be.  It was perfect.

Thank you, husband.  

 Our first Christmas together

hehehe... Israel and Bekah singing some carols