Sunday, November 2, 2008


Hi All,

Yes, the blog was on sabbatical for nearly 3 months! Whew how time flies when I'm away from the blog! I really do love to blog - mostly to be able to remember these precious memories in months and years to come. As I was organizing my photos tonight I was realizing that there have been quite a few photo-worthy occurances that have transpired that haven't gotten mention on the blog - due to my attempt over the summer to 'catch up' on what had happened in the past. Meanwhile the present kept charging forward - getting me further and further behind. So I'll just start today in the present and maybe someday I'll catch you up on all the stuff I missed! Yesterday was Halloween! The kiddos were looking SO forward to Halloween. They've always loved to dress up. Even within the few photos that we received from their foster home in Colombia, at least 6 or so are pictures of them dressed up for Halloween. They did celebrate Halloween in Colombia, but it was much more subdued of a holiday. They would dress up and either go to a Halloween party hosted by the Child Welfare Institute OR they would go trick-or-treating at neighborhood stores. They did NOT trick-or-treat at homes - nobody did. They said the amount of candy they got from stores only added up to a few pieces.

They loved carving pumpkins and Juancho carved his own ('Howling Wolves') from start to finish! Laura and I collaborated together on her "Scooby Doo" themed pumpkin and all Angie did to assist with her pumpkin was to pick out the pattern ("Kitty Cat"). We washed and dried pumpkin seeds (well actually friend Kim did that) and though we haven't toasted them yet, we plan to by the end of this week. Leading up to Halloween Juancho never wavered in his decision and desire to be Harry Potter. Laura, on the other hand, changed her mind daily - sometimes more than once a day! It varied between Cinderella, Ariel the Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty and occasionally something a little more random like Hannah Montana or one of the girls from High School Musical. Never did I hear mention of a desire to be Hermione Granger (from Harry Potter). That is until I told her she needed to make a final decision because I was going to start picking up items to use for their costumes (I had decided NOT to buy any pre-made costumes this year b/c finances were tight and $30 for a chintzy costume is a tough bill to rationalize). Suddenly she wanted to be Hermione Granger. At first I thought it would be hard to put together a costume that worked, but once I got going with it, it was a breeze!

For both Harry Potter and Hermione I picked up some REALLY cheap black fabric at Wal-Mart to make their cloaks with. I sewed their cloaks in 45 minutes with no pattern. I made it up as I went along and it turned out well. Granted, looking at the cloaks in the light there are definitely uneven seams and some shoddy 'quick fix' elements, but they worked perfect to complete their costumes and the imperfections were not noticeable in the dark. John and Laura colored Hogwarts crests that I printed out from the Internet to staple to their cloak to make it look official. I found some old wire framed sunglasses and punched the lenses out for Juancho to use as Harry's glasses. Juancho has liked them so much he wore them most of today as well, even though he was not in costume! Juancho wore his own gray sweater and black pants, and carried a stick turned into a wand. I drew the infamous lightening scar on his forward with eyeliner. For Laura I curled her hair and we sprayed it with gold sparkle to make it really shine! She work a black shirt and shirt along with her cloak and also carried a wand. Finally, Angie's costume was easiest of all! It was a full suit penguin costume that had come in a bag of 'hand-me-down' clothes someone gave us before the kids even came home from Colombia. All 3 kids have put it on over the year as they've played dress up...and up until the last few days before Halloween Angie was torn between being Cinderella or the Penguin. I'm so glad the penguin won out - it was super cute on her! We went trick or treating in our neighborhood and in an adjacent neighborhood and even though we only hit about 25 houses, the kids were struggling to carry their bags home, they were so loaded with candy! Now I am keeping the candy up high to deter kids that may be tempted to sneak a candy or two (or ten!). They are rationed out in small quantities - at this rate we'll just be finishing candy in time for Halloween next year! :)

Better load some pics now - even though tonight is 'fall back' on time - that extra hour won't even make a dent in my sleep deprivation!

Love you all!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Day at Minnehaha Falls in June

Okay, back to the 'catch up'! We have done so many fun things this summer so far, and I've got so many great pictures that I don't want to skip over anything! But I'm way behind in the 'catch up' game! Here are some pics from a day that the kids and I took to Minnehaha Falls on June 14th. I love hiking and we haven't really done a ton of hiking with the kids since coming home from Colombia. Walking, yes. But hiking, no. On the way to Minnehaha Falls Juancho was asking me "Mommy, what is 'hiking'?" and I tried to explain it to him, but to him it just sounded like walking around in the woods. "Solo eso?! (That's it?!)" he exclaimed, a little dismayed. But once we got there, ate our picnic lunch, ventured down the wooden steps to see the waterfall and then commenced on our hike, they were all in love with hiking! We're hoping to pull off a camping weekend in early September, but that will remain to be seen! On to the pictures!

Picnic Lunch (above & below) before beginning our hike. Don't ya love Angie's sassy face below? :)

This is Minnehaha Falls - located near downtown Minneapolis. Beautiful urban place to hike and spend a leisurely day...Angie was more interested in looking at the falls (below) than posing for a picture... I don't blame her!

There were some great alcoves and areas of fallen rock (below) that led to great adventure in climbing and exploring the nooks and crannies!

PJ loved hiking too - and got a little muddy when he fell off the boardwalk in a swampy area...not that he cared! :)

There was a great wide spot in the creek - perfect for wading and skipping rocks - my kids loved doing both!

Juancho & Laura posed in the creek

Angie preferred to stay near shore - playing with the dirt as though it was sand, though she did venture into the creek for some wading!

After the full day of hiking, we stopped for a DQ treat on the way home...Angie sure loves her ice cream!

Laura enjoys her blizzard - yum!

Juancho loves his ice cream too! Isn't he one handsome fella?

In case you were wondering, PJ is one loved pooch! (And yes, he and Angie slept all the way home!)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Jay & Jen's Wedding

Over Mother's Day weekend Robert and I took our first weekend away without the kids! Crazy that it fell over Mother's Day - my first at that! - but it was a fun weekend nonetheless (though we missed the kids like crazy!). Tia Michelle flew in from Chicago to stay with Juancho, Laura & Angie (along with my niece Ashley) and they had a GREAT time. They went to Underwater World at the Mall of America (a great aquarium), played outside at the park, and I'm sure got all sorts of treats! They went out and bought Mommy a pot of her favorite flowers (gerberas!) and some chocolates!

Robert and I flew to San Fransisco for a wedding Robert was a groomsman in. He stood up for his buddy Jay who he used to be roommates with before we got married. Jay had moved out to California a few years ago with his job and not long after met Jen. Jen is a wonderful girl who has been a great mom to her twin 11 year old sons (who, incidentally, have passed along some GREAT hand-me-downs to Juancho...thanks guys!). It was a fun but quick weekend in sunny California. We flew out on Friday morning, had the rehearsal that night, the wedding on Saturday, a day of touring in San Fran (with some great eats in Chinatown...and some great bargains...the two girls got a cute San Fransisco t-shirt and Juancho got a now beloved San Fran baseball cap!) on Sunday and a flight home on the red eye Sunday night!

There weren't a lot of Minnesotans that were able to get out for the wedding, but it was like a mini-reunion of the roomies! Robert was there to stand up for Jay, his former roommate and the other guy they lived with - Mike - was there too. Then I was there along with my former roomie Becky (whose husband was also in the wedding) and one of our other former roommates - Jackie - who now lives just south of San Fran came up for the wedding with her husband Nigel. The weather was perfect and so was the weekend - a much needed breather during a pretty stressful time. Here's some pics from the weekend (a departure from the usual pics of the kiddos...don't worry those are coming back...I've got a lot of cute ones of those guys!).

Jay & Jennifer during the ceremony - it was a beautiful outdoor wedding!

Holly & some former roomies (Becky, Jackie & I)

The Fellas (Mike, Jay, Dave & Robert)

Jackie & Nigel

Robert & Holly

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Visit to Iowa

In late June the kiddos and I took off to Iowa to go visit Grandma & Grandpa Meadows and all the primos (cousins) and tios (aunts/uncles). I have a pretty big family, so it is always a fun-filled time in Iowa! We went down for a few reasons. The main one was to see my baby brother (now 23 year old) before he left to move to Florida for his first big gig out of college - singing with the Voices of Liberty choral group through Epcot Center in Disney. It's a pretty sweet deal! Also, my hometown (Iowa City) had been MAJORLY impacted by the flooding that bombarded the midwest. My parents and my older sister both live in homes equally far away from the flooded river, but are all attenders (plus my mom has been the Office Manager for over 18 years there) at Parkview Evangelical Free Church - my home church growing up - which sustained significant flood damage! At one point there was over 5.5 feet of water standing INSIDE the church building. After the waters receded, the church was immediately gutted on the inside. It appears that they will be able to save the building and re-build inside, but for the rest of the year services will be held in my old high school and the office staff are currently officing out of extra space in a Christian counseling center. So we wanted to be able to survey some of the receding flood damage. We had a great time with the family - and enjoyed the hot weather by busting out the sprinkler and hose - the Dressel kids LOVED chasing each other around with water. We got some water balloons out there too - which were very short-lived - they had all of them broken within minutes! Great fun though! Here are pics...

Angie, Master Conductor!

"I'm gonna get you La La!"

Hmm...not sure if Juancho is having fun or not... :)
"I'm just testing the water Mom!"
Angie was ready to go for a water balloon fight - bucket half-filled with water balloons...and her pom pom! Guess she was planning on doing a little cheerleading!
John & Tio Jon - in reality the two boys did fall asleep all cuddled up like this...but by the time I saw them and got the camera, they had woke up - so we had to stage this one! :)

Laura & Tia Jenni looking stylish in their shades!
Laura in front of the flooding that was receding from Parkview Church

Two beautiful kiddos in front of some not so beautiful landscape - post flood damage at my home church in Iowa...

This is the backside of my home church - flood waters can still be seen in the background, though they had receded from the church and playground. The amount of mud was amazing! Two weeks prior this was all covered with green grass!

Tia Michelle & Angie - City Park is in the background - usually home to baseball diamonds, picnic tables and a great completely underwater!

Classic Stair-Step Picture of the Meadows Cousins: (L to R) - Heather (age 13), Joel (age 12 - and not so happy here), Juancho (age 10 - and always entertaining!), Sarah (age 11), Max (age 9), Laura (age 9) and Angie (age 3).

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Laura's B-Day (9 Years Old!)

Well, I figure I may as well just keep on going chronologically. Laura celebrated her first birthday in the United States on May 30th - she is now a 9 year old!

She had a super fun birthday - her day was special at school with the track meet (see post below) and being able to bring treats (Tootsie Roll Pops!) to share with her class (Juancho also brought treats for his 'birthday' that day...since he's a summer birthday, he got to share his treats that day in class too.

But Laura's day started out receiving presents. First thing in the morning - just after breakfast she got to open a present from Miss Amy, a friend of ours who had mailed Laura a very special present in the mail. The were earrings! Silver heart ones with a rhinestone, gold crosses and sparkly post earrings. She was thrilled!

She also got a present from Mami & Papi first thing in the morning...a cute often with this butterfly shirt and a pair of white capri pants.

Then after Laura came home from school, she got to open 1 more present (the rest of her presents were given to her at her group birthday party). This was a present that she had been BEGGING for over the last few it got the shiny bag. A little confusing as to what it might be - with the bag placed upside down and all...

Could you guess what it was? If you guessed a fish, you are right! The fish (which Laura named 'Rachel') is a lovely dark blue with purple accents - a Beta fish (that Mami does more of the taking care of it seems...).

The day after Laura's actual birthday, we had her birthday party. It was a 'homemade' McDonald's birthday party! What I mean by that is that we went to McDonald's and ordered lunch for the kids, but I brought my own cupcakes, candles and lighter and the Play Place provided great entertainment. Given the crazy busy life we had going on at the time, an easy, simple birthday party was great. It was the first birthday party that Laura has ever had, and she was beaming from ear to ear the entire time! Grandma & Grandpa Meadows drove up for Iowa for it...this is a picture of Grandpa Meadows watching videos on the camcorder with Juancho and Angie.

All in all a fun birthday that Laura (and all of us) will remember forever!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Laura's Track & Field Day

So I'm going to try and catch you up blog by blog on the events of the past couple months. On May 30th it was Laura's 9th Birthday (I'll save that for a different post) and it was ALSO the Track & Field Day for 2nd grade at school. Laura was signd up for 3 events - 800 meter run, jump rope and hula hoop. She did great in all 3 - came in 3rd in the 800 meter run...pretty good for a girl who is shorter than most of her classmates! I was able to go with Angie and my niece Ashley who was staying with us for a while. We had a great time and got to meet Lucia - a volunteer at the school who had been assisting Laura in various classes. Lucia was a local college student from Mexico who was a great encouragement and help to Laura! One funny thing that has come out of "Track & Field Day" is that now, with the many field trips they take at YMCA Day Camp, both Laura and Juancho often ask me "Mami, what are we doing tomorrow for Track & Field?" when really they mean "What is the field trip for tomorrow?". Super cute! :) Anyway, on to the pics!

This is Laura & her friend Karyme (from Mexico). Karyme was Laura's 'buddy' throughout the school year and helped her translate for friends, teachers and homework when needed!

Angie: "Look Mom, La La 'wunning' (running)...yeah La La!" (yes, Angie totally calls me "Mom". She's my most 'Americanized' of the 3 I think...)

Laura working hard during the Jump Rope Competition. She didn't stay in to the very end - those little feet got tripped up. But boy did she work hard...and still beam from ear to ear when awarded her participation ribbon!

The Hula Hoop FUN! Reminded me how completely HORRIBLE I would be if I tried to Hula Hoop now...but back when I was Laura's age, I could swing that hoop for hours! Laura did great in the competition and as you can see - enjoyed herself fully!

The Track & Field Day ended with the different 2nd grade classrooms competing against each other in tug-of-war competitions. Great fun!

Sunday, July 13, 2008


I almost didn't remember what my log-in was in order to jump back on and blog. I've been missing it and wanted to get back to it to instill a sense of normalcy in life. I've missed giving you guys the latest in the life of my kids AND catching up on what's going on your world via your blogs! Some of you know why life has been 'not normal' lately and some of you don't. I won't be talking about that story here...this is the place to catch up on our three favorite Colombian-Americans! They've been busy these past couple months! I'll give you a few highlights and leave you with some fun photos too!

**John & Laura started YMCA Day Camp 3 days a week in June and they've gotten to participate in some GREAT field trips like going to the Water Park, the Twins game, Fort Snelling, Grand Slam, to a movie (Wall-E) and more! They love it! John is such the giver - every time they do a craft, he does his best to do at least 3 crafts - one for him, one for Angie and one for his parents...such a good boy!
**Angie has been able to develop some friends through some 'play-date days' that she often has - usually on a weekly basis. Her favorite friends are Claire & Ivy, Maddie and Rachel & Jake - she often says "Mami, we go to friends house today?"
**John & Laura are doing summer school during the month of July - 4 days a week for 3 hours in the morning. They get to ride the bus to and from their summer school and are both enrolled in the ESL program. Their English ability is improving by leaps and bounds - they can understand nearly everything and surprise me on a daily basis on the excellent English sentence structure and growing vocabulary that they have! We do still do English & Spanish at home.
**We did a "Mini-Vacation" to Iowa to visit my family in late June. My little brother auditioned for and was selected to be a member of 'Voices of Liberty' - a very select DisneyWorld choir. They are an a capella group singing patriotic songs and known for their wonderful Christmas shows as well. In addition to singing daily at Epcot Center, the group has performed around the world - including for several Presidents! So we wanted to visit Tio Jon before he left for Florida for his first BIG gig after graduating from college. We also got to survey the intense flood damage Iowa City sustained. The homes of my parents and sister were spared, but the home church I grew up in was nearly drowned in the flood - at one point is had over 5 feet of water inside of the building! The waters have receded and major demolition happened inside the church, but by all accounts it looks like the building as a shell can be spared!
**My 18 year old nephew Ryan was flooded out of his summer job and decided to move up to MN for the summer to live with us and help out with the kids - he's been a joy to have around...and he is GREAT with the kids - they love him!

These are just a few things...I'll be telling you stories of fun adventures we've had in some of the posts to come...

OK - here's a few pics...

We celebrated 6 months of being a family in early May by going to Los Andes - a Colombian/Ecuadorian restaurant in the Uptown area of Minneapolis. In this pic you see Laura sipping a 'Colombina' - a popular soda in Colombia. Both her and Juancho were so excited to order 'La Banda Paisa' a traditional plate of Colombian food. It was a special day!

I unexpectedly got FREE tickets to take the kids to the MN Children's Theater to see "The Magic of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle" one night. The kids LOVED it! Even Angie was riveted throughout the entire 2.5 hour play! The MN Children's Theater is one of the best in the nation! I was so thankful to get free tickets - they would have cost us well over $100 for all of us to go otherwise. The kids are STILL talking about that fun night!

I LOVE this pic of Angie - it was taken when the kids were playing with the sprinkler out in my parent's yard in Iowa. This pic just shows the pure joy and carefree-ness of being a kid - she is still such a peanut with her slight frame, but she makes up for that in personality, that is for sure! :)

This is the classic 'stair-step' picture of the cousins on the Meadows' side. From L to R it is: Heather - age 13 (my sister Jenni's oldest), Joel - age 12 (my sister Debbie's youngest), Juancho (what a character), Sarah - age 11 (sister Jenni's middle child), Max - age 9 (sister Jenni's youngest), Laura and Angie (who was a little tired by this point...). Our 3 have a GREAT time playing with their Iowa cousins AND their MN cousins!

Here is John & Laura standing in front of my home church in Iowa where my mom works and my family are active members. By the time this pic was taken, the floodwaters had receding significantly. Previously the floodwaters had completely covered the 6 foot tall sandbag wall you can see in the background and over 5 feet of water stood for several days INSIDE the church!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Angie's Headband Creation

Angie - being the youngest and the one around the house most of the time - definitely has the most pictures. And she is so darn photogenic and cute, I have to keep a camera close by at most moments! So here are a few pics I snapped a few weeks ago when I was working from home and Angie was mostly playing contentedly in my office. Notice her pink princesa costume (par for the course for Angie!) and her creativity! We love it! The first 3 pics are in sequence. I call them the "Headband Creation"

Step 1: Angie finds a rolled up thin-ish piece of paper (methinks instructions to a dice game kept in a film cannister - anyone ever heard of Farkle?) and decides it would be a stylish headband. Commences to place in the appropriate spot on her head...

Step 2: Gotta get this centered just so...

Step 3: Creation Completed! Outcome? Success!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Picture Blog

I have a few pics to download of the kids from last week. This blog post will be few words - many pictures!

April Showers Bring May Flowers!

Pure Bliss!
Laura helped pick out a bouquet of flowers from Grandma's funeral
for us to take home

Angie & Cousin Isabel ("Issy" - age 6)

Laura & Cousin Abby (age 11) with the bouquet of flowers they picked for our family to take home.

Angie & Issy dancing (notice Angie's flower?)
Laura on the way home from Grandma's Funeral Day - she exemplified what we all felt...exhaustion!

Thank you to those of you who left comments and were praying for our family. It was an exhausting and emotionally draining week. It feels good to get back into a regular routine this week. We rest in the knowledge that Grandma's feet are walking on streets of gold! The kids did well with processing the death. They asked many questions and seemed to understand. They grieved. They rejoiced too as we spoke of Grandma in heaven. It seems they are really beginning to grasp the truth of God's Word.

Robert did a wonderful job eulogizing his grandmother with perfect words. The day of her funeral was cold and rainy. But as the pastor pointed out - the rain shouldn't signify tears or sorrow, but NEW LIFE as he urged us to rejoice in the NEW LIFE Grandma has in heaven.

Thanks again! I hope to be back on a 'regular' posting schedule this week!