Saturday, January 28, 2012

Grocery Shopping - US Style

* Note: sorry the pictures look weird. I don't understand. Oh well! 

So one of the first times I realized my reverse-culture shock was about four years ago on a grocery shopping trip with my mom. I remember it vividly. 

It was summertime. We were going to pick up a few things at a lovely grocery store. Once we conquered the produce section, mom gave me a task. Go to the deli counter and pick up some ham or turkey for sandwiches. Sounds simple enough, right? WRONG! 

I walked over to the counter, already pre-rehearsing my "Script" for ordering lunch meat, just like I would do in Panama. I arrived at the meat counter that stretched for miles. Picking out turkey or ham was not as simple as it sounded. There were 97,000 different kinds of meats to choose from, never mind the number of cheeses. I remember walking along the never-ending glass displays and reading all of the little signs. Honey, maple, glazed, smoked, stuffed, roasted, honey-roasted - how many choices could their be? And that was just the turkey! Mom eventually found me and I still had not chosen any meat. She had to bail me out. 

I've learned to shut myself off so often when grocery shopping in the states because the variety of choices is overwhelming. Stick to the list, get what I need, look at some options for fun, and don't focus on the 47 varieties of mustards (or insert any type of item). 

On my most recent trip to the states (ie: baby trip!), my sister and I went grocery shopping. It was lots of fun to go with her. We used LOADS of coupons and I think I annoyed her by the incessant, "I can't believe how cheap this is!"

One of the things I love most (food wise) berries! They are crazy expensive in Panama! While $2.99 isn't cheap in the states, it is WAY less than a small container of strawberries here! 
Look at their beautiful red delicious-ness! 

Love the wide aisles! Couldn't believe no one was shopping! 
Apparently the day we went, there was a run on the cabbage! I guess 25 cents per pound is a good deal and nothing says late December like cabbage. 
Has anyone ever seen this before? I had not! No, I did not purchase it, just took a picture. It's what I do. :) 
I really like bacon. It probably has something to do with the fact that the first few years of my life were spent on a pig farm. It's in the blood. Bacon in Panama is VERY expensive.
Sister and I loving our coupons and lists (by the way, just got a fabulous grocery list app called ShopShop - I really like it!) 
Totally needed these for a project we had done in class a few weeks prior. They were no where to be found in Panama (one dad imported them from the states and another parent homemade them for the project). These remind me of soup family dinners at a kid in January. 
This entire aisle was cereal (you can't even see the whole thing). A box of Chex (one of my favorites) was on sale for $1.99 - I nearly fainted. I just paid $4.55 tonight for the same box. 
(It's ok, remember that pineapple is delicious and cheap here in Panama. pep talk to self) 
This same container is $9 something here at Pricesmart. Again, near spastic reaction. I thought Hannah was going to leave me behind - well, she did end up shopping on her own for a while. 

Same price - here or there. Whew! 
Yes, I import yeast. It is SO cheap in the states. Hannah had coupons that were doubled, so the yeast ended up being 40 cents for the 3 packets. YES! 
This was taken for all of my darling gluten-free friends here in Panama. It is the item I always look for at Riba Smith, just in case the original is in stock. 
Our goods! So fun! 
This is for grandma and Allison! These are the types of noodles Grandma insists be used for swedish meatballs Main-style and they are stellar! Egg noodles are DIFFICULT to find here and the frozen ones do not exist. 


So while I do enjoy grocery shopping in the states, the fun adventure of grocery shopping tonight with four friends is also fun! There are so many things here that are in season and affordable that wouldn't be in the states. 


I should do a grocery shopping experience here sometime. Hmmm... maybe the next time major shopping is on the agenda. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sweet Baby Girl (Part 2)

* If you want to read Hannah's version of this day, you can check it out here. She is far more concise and I love her style. I always feel like I am listening to her talk when I read her writing. 

Yes, this is long. I'm ok with that. These are sweet family times and I don't want to forget the sweetness of these memories, moments, and  milagros/miracles.

It was the day we had all been waiting for since that day long ago in May when we first heard about this sweet baby girl that we all already loved. Today, she was coming. We were going to meet her. 

In true Spencer form, the parents were up at the crack of dawn, out the door, and on the way to the hospital. The younger folks decided to store up some sleep energy for the coming days and mosey our way on down to the hospital after running a few errands. After all, the doctor had told Hannah is would 8-10 hours after breaking her water at 6am. We had plenty of time! 


Labor update: 1 centimeter. 10am 
Stop number 1: Run errands to Essex to check out whatever fabulous finds might be discovered! None to be found. 
Stop number 2: Target - who doesn't love just hopping into Target? 
Labor update: 4-5 centimeters (my heart starts pounding because it jumped fast)
We then go to the fabulous land of Chick-fil-a to use coupons for free food while awaiting the next update. 
During lunch, we get the message: She is at 9cm. 
Yes, the racing heart started up again. I was so nervous that we were going to miss it!!!!! I wanted to see sister one more time before that little girl came! 


We head to the hospital, which is located on Church St. 
Baby Girl is going to be delivered in Baptist Hospital. I took a picture of this sign just for kicks. 

We made it just in time to see sister and talk for a few minutes. She was reveling in the beauty of her epidural and sad about the fact she couldn't have any water. 


The room was equipped with many fun things, such as the baby heating area. Dad and Luke had to check it out to make sure it was safe and functioning for the little miss. 
Yep, it's warm. 
While visiting sister, the doc came in to check her progress. She was at 10cm. Time for this little one to make her arrival. 
This picture will not be funny except to mom, dad, and I. Luke was showing us his "street smarts" learned at Moody on how not to walk with cash sticking out of your back pocket. Seriously thought we might get kicked out because of the uncontrollable laughter. 

One more prayer session with Ben and Hannah. 

The eagerly expectant parents. 

This is such a Luke face. That kid cracks me up. As we walked down the hall, we kept talking about how crazy it was that a baby was coming! I asked mom and dad if they could believe they were about to meet their granddaughter. 
These were the special green arms bands so we could go back to the room. (There were only five, so the whole huge clan of us specially sized them so we could keep rotating the bands. Though Luke and I were so stealth that we just followed in nurses and weren't asked for the bands). 
With the whole group of us (Katy, Penny, Cole, Angie, Momma, Daddy, Luke, Abby H, and I) we took up the majority of the waiting room. And I'm pretty sure we had the most fun of anyone in that room, seeing as how we came all prepared and such. 
Let the games commence! 



Some intense Nertz playing - oh so fun! 

Some where around this time, Dad received a text from Ben saying that Hannah was going to have to have a C-section. Little girl's head was too big. My heart sank. Hannah and I had talked about her not wanting a c-section. Poor thing. Again, more praying (I don't think it actually ever stopped, but when it is noted, take it as a corporate thing). 

Finally, around 4:20ish, Dad received another text (isn't it crazy how much technology has changed even the waiting for a baby???? I was astounded!). She was here!!! This was one captioned "Red head". I couldn't tell if Ben meant the hair or the fact that her actual head was red. He meant the former. Much rejoicing in the room! 
Thus began the passing of the phone to view this little bundle of preciousness! 
They were zooming in on the hair to see if they could indeed see the red hair. Success! It's red! 
Ben made it to us and gave us all the great details. 


Introducing...


Charlie Belle
8lb. 3 oz. 
20 1/2 inches long
Wonderfully made by her Creator
Delighted in by her family
Beautiful. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

People Over Projects

Yes, I know this is not part 2 of the birth of sweet baby girl, but this is on my mind today. So lest I forget it, I will blog about it. 

Do you ever have those moments where the Lord seems to be like, "Well, you asked Me for this, so I'm going to give you the chance to practice it."? 
That was today. 

This morning, the staff spent some time in small groups praying with and for one another. It was a sweet time. One of the things the Holy Spirit brought to my mind is to pray about spending time with people, instead of becoming consumed with the projects. This is a CONSTANT battle for me! I LOVE hanging out with people, living life, laughing, talking, crying, sharing, growing, being. 

But the other side of me feels the pressure of completing, finishing, checking off, listing, working, planning, isolating. This is partly due to the pressure I put on myself to "please" others through performance. Let me just say, the Lord has been bringing freedom in this area (thank you, Lord!). 

I digress. Back to the story. 

The day continues with planning, moving desks, preparing, thinking, writing, AND talking, sharing, crying, laughing, being. It was such a sweet combination of the two! (Because, let's face it, both are necessary!). 

At the end of the day, a sweet teacher asked for a ride to her new home. So as we pulled into her driveway, she was a reminder from the Lord of my petition to Him this morning. She asked us to come in for a cafecito. The project-Abby immediately goes to, "I have so much to do, there's lots of planning, I need to organize the suitcases..."
Then the Holy Spirit shouts - "REMEMBER PEOPLE????" 

So we went. Wow. So sweet. We walked through her Christmas break through photos. We drank cafe (which I don't even drink, but I wanted to be a social coffee drinker - no, not to be a pleaser). We talked. We laughed. We shared life. We communed. 

What sweetness! 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sweet Baby Girl Part 1

Warning: knowing my already long-windedness, there is no way I could summarize this journey in one blog post without it turning into a full-length feature. So I am going to force myself to find stopping points along the way. Instead, it will be a mini-series. 

The long awaited day finally arrived!

Hannah and I began the hospital preparations by doing team hair-straightening. Hannah has MOST beautiful  curly hair, but she wanted it straightened for labor, which I totally supported. It was lots of girly fun!




Ben began preparing by creating a labor-in-the-truck kit, just in case. He was pretty creative.


Luke and Abby made it here on Wednesday night and we of course greeted them with a photo!




Ben also made sure to grab the video camera and add that to the growing stack of take-to-hospital supplies.


Mom and dad following a few hours later, barely able to contain their excitement about the upcoming birth of grandchild #1.
Ben demonstrated how he wanted Hannah to wear her hair, so that she could grab onto it during intense contractions. She refused.

We celebrated family Christmas together, minutes before Hannah and Ben left for the hospital. 




It's fun having two Abby's in the family
When mom first pulled out this gift from Abby and Luke, I thought it was a plunger because she pulled it out upside down.
We took one more family photo before little miss would enter this crazy family.


Dad sent them off with a family prayer time.

One more sis pic before a new girl joins the fam.

Lots of hugs, prayers, a few tears, and lots of stuff later, they were out the door and on their way.
The waiting began...

To be continued...