Wednesday, February 29, 2012

leapling

My labor with Jude started with a backache. Last night, I had a backache. Thankfully, it appears that it was more related to chasing him around the park for an hour than any stage of labor.

I confess that I went to bed slightly concerned that I might actually have a leap year baby. Apparently, according to my significant and no doubt reliable internet research, such babies are known as leaplings. With around 4 million roaming the earth, he had a 1 in 1,461 chance.

And while the day's not over here yet, at this point, it will be quite a shock if Silas makes leapling status.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

carrots


In the absence of convenience foods, hubs has become quite the chef around here. One of his most recent discoveries was this delightful recipe from all recipes.com. Combined with my new-found cream cheese making skills, it's a pretty sensational dessert. We had a little bon voyage party for some friends this weekend and it was a tasty addition. Beware though, 6 cups of grated carrots doesn't come quickly:)

BEST EVER CARROT CAKE

Ingredients
6 cups grated carrots
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup raisins
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions
In a medium bowl, combine grated carrots and brown sugar. Set aside for 60 minutes, then stir in raisins.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 10 inch cake pans.
In a large bowl, beat eggs until light. Gradually beat in the white sugar, oil and vanilla. Stir in the pineapple. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, stir into the wet mixture until absorbed. Finally stir in the carrot mixture and the walnuts. Pour evenly into the prepared pans.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes in the preheated oven, until cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. When completely cooled, frost with cream cheese frosting.



My favorite discovery for the party? A Bon Voyage banner using local pictures and picnik.com to add the lettering. I feel very inspired by the possibilities. What a fun birthday banner to catalog a year in little bit's life, right??? Sadly, picnik is only up and running for another month or so. Oh, how I will miss it!

Monday, February 27, 2012

random discoveries

We happened upon a Tribal Dance Festival on Friday night with some friends. It was a good break from our usual entertainment of reading Dr. Seuss to Jude. A very fun event. We'll be checking the calendar at the craft center more often now!



I'm considering the purchase of some of these ankle bells...



In other news, we've almost depleted our Christmas supply of Jell-o goods from our SS class:( We were happy to discover a local alternative!


Jude didn't seem to notice the difference:)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Park Yard Socialism

Here's the scenario. Use your imagination to determine who the characters are.

A toddler's mom is 8 month's pregnant. She wants to get as much energy out of him as possible. This mean, every nook and cranny of their day is spent in 15-30 minute intervals in the park outside the apartment. The mom takes toys to entertain the said toddler.

He plays happily. The mom sits with a language teacher, trying to force her pregnant brain to remember insanely absurd pronunciations.

Another toddler approaches. These toys are more appealing than the ball he has. Ball is dropped. Cars, bike, etc are confiscated by neighboring toddler.

Toddler-owner begins to hover over his toys. There are a few grabs. He repeatedly shouts "bike, bike" as the neighbor enjoys the music buttons and seat of the owner's ride.

Pregnant mom tells language teacher that she knows sin is innate. Language lesson stops. Mom tries to correct toddler - owner. No grabbing. No screaming. No hovering over toys not being played with at present. Neighbor toddler's grandmother sits in obvious ambivalence to the growing "situation." No correction is offered. This attitude of parental ambivalence appears to prevail in almost all environments. All toys in park appear to be fair game.

But the toddler who brought the toys is without toys. He knows the toys are his. And the mom wonders if we are socialists.

Does she teach her toddler that there is no such thing as private property? When strangers approach her in the park, she does not "share" all that they would like to have at that moment.

How is the situation handled without communicating to him that selfishness and stinginess is ok? How on earth does the gospel interpret this situation...in the life of a 1.5 year old whose reasoning and interpretation skills are...that of a 1.5 year old. There's no long dialogue to be had. Actions interpret.

Eventually, pregnant mom gather toys and goes inside. Parenting books don't appear relevant in the moment.

Toddler-owner rides away on re-possessed bike. Pregnant mom wonders what she should have done.

She's hoping to figure it out before the repeat tomorrow.

P.S. Feel free to comment. I'm really asking for help.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

37 weeks

I'm on the edge of 36/37 week mark and I thought a few of you might want to see the progress. My sister makes me put Silas in front of the Skype camera every time I talk to her so she can gauge the growth:) I'm guessing this will be one of the last shots you'll see of my face. Swelling should begin any day now and while I'll try not to complain, I probably won't post it on the world wide web either.



This is a pic I found of my pregnancy with Jude. I think I was at about the same stage...give or take a week or so.



Sometimes I forget how pregnant I am....and then I notice my neighbors staring at me unashamedly as I walk through the complex. I never forget for long:)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

itty bitty?

David and I both remember looking at those other babies in the nursery when Jude was born and thinking "we're sure glad ours is the big one." Just seemed less likely we would break an almost 11lb-er.

It appears, at this point, that Silas is on the small side.

I admit we're a little taken back by the possibility of having an itty bitty dawkins boy. In preparation, I bought some "tiny baby" clothes I found at store. Wow. They are small.



The other day I walked into the room to find David with a Tigger doll stuffed into his shirt. He was pulling him out of a button hole, explaining to Jude that Silas was in my tummy. I'm not really sure Jude understood his demonstration, but it did seem to make an impression....

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

remind me of this...

...about 5x every day:)




"Imagine you spent the day rearranging and cleaning up the living space in your home. You have flowers and clean curtains and fresh throw pillows and maybe a candle. You are pleased. The right lights are on. Things are good. And then, like the wolf on the fold, the people in your life descend upon your work. They peel off socks and put their feet on the coffee table. They come from afar bringing baskets of craftiness to spread out upon the couch. They pop popcorn and carelessly munch. Someone goes so far as to get out the puzzles. In such a moment, it would be easy (don’t ask me how I know) to become shrill. It is easy to see each chin-glancing popcorn shrapnel as an insult. “Don’t you value the work I do?!” “Don’t you care how long this took me?!” “Why can’t you just not do this??” Even if you don’t say it, you may feel a little despair, a little resentment, and a little “why do I even try?”.

But the truth is, we need a new perspective. It is moments like this that should give us a lot of job satisfaction. These people are enjoying you. They are enjoying your work. But, like a great dinner all laid out on the table, you don’t enjoy it without touching it. A chef would not look at dishes coming back to the kitchen untouched as a sign of success. It would not mean great things about your work. Yet this is what we want from the work we do in our homes.

I’m sure most of you have noticed the magnetic power of what you clean. Clean the bookshelf up, and everyone wants to read. Organize the little toys, and everyone wants to play with the things they have been callously walking on for days. This is a sign that you are succeeding, that your people love your work. Think of it like food, because that is how it is getting used."


by Rachel Jankovic at Femina





L-O-V-E this perspective. Fresh insight once more from one of my favorite young mom encouragers.

Monday, February 20, 2012

inter-cultural marriage

Not long ago, I asked a national friend here if she thought that, from a distance, people might think that I am an American married to an asian. David is as dark skinned as some of our neighbors and his dark eyes don't help him any.

She responded in the affirmative, with a chuckle.



David, of course, denies that this is the case. But sometimes when we're out in a crowd, I look over and feel sure that unless he opens his mouth...they just think he's a lucky asian who got a fair skinned wife:)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012

pre-school drop out


After a two week trial, Jude dropped out of preschool.

There were a variety of factors involved. The elephant prayer time wasn't really involved in the decision, though we're not sorry to wait a little longer to wade through those waters.

Our primary reason: we didn't feel Jude was quite prepared to meet the academic standards of the school.

We've heard from a number of people that asians are very serious about education. Jude's little friends come over to play and talk about exams and pages of homework. Our language teacher told us her daughter was ranked 2nd in her class. She was pushing for #1. Um. Her daughter is in 2nd grade. Who ranks second graders?

We were assured that this was more of Montessori type program, a pressure free environment. But as time wore on and we observed more and more classroom time, we realized that the preschool curriculum was a bit...too academic. Jude's 1.5. We're not really concerned with his progression in learning the the ABCs or the identification of an octagon. Apparently, asian parents are.

So, as much as a few hours a morning would have helped with language study, little Jude's going to have to find his social interaction elsewhere for a while longer. I guess for now, we'll be "homeschooling." :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

what if...

This is the stage of pregnancy for me when I start to wake up in the middle of the night and wonder...what would I do if I were waking up to contractions? I confess that of late, that thought has been a rather alarming one. There are all sorts of scenarios that run through my mind. Hardly pleasant birth stories that I'm eager to greet.

What if the labor is too quick for me to make it an hour across town to the hospital? What then?

We don't have a car. What if no one is available to take me? Would a cab driver even transport me once he realizes I'm in labor?

If the baby comes early and my mom is not here yet, where will we leave Jude? Won't he feel terribly confused?

What if no one is around to watch him and we have to bring him to the hospital. Then what? Will I have to deliver alone?

What if my nurses don't speak English? What if my doctor is out of town and a strange asian man is the alternative?

What if complications arise and we have to navigate the waters of emergency care here?


If I had a true handle on godliness, perhaps these questions wouldn't cause me a moment's anxiety. Maybe my pillow would have seen a few less tears in recent weeks. But, alas, the questions persist and I battle the anxiety of living far from friends and family, in a very strange land where every acquaintance or friend we have, we've only known for 5 months or less. At 8 months pregnant, my emotions are hardly ruled by truth at every moment. And most often, in the middle of the night when my mind jumps onto that track, I want to write a desperate email home begging my mom to come early....just in case.

What do I know though?

I know that God keeps his promises. That if he cares for the sparrows and flowers of the field, he'll much more care for me.

I know that worry is fruitless and forbidden. The proper action is thanksgiving and prayer, not fretfulness.

I know that this little one's days have already been planned out by one much wiser than I. There will be no surprises to him.

And so. I'll probably keep waking for another few weeks. And I can't promise I won't shed a few more tears...but I'll be battling to put aside the 'what if's' and put on truth.

After all, promises are meant to be trusted.

the helper

I love this stage with Jude. He's totally a little helper.



Sweeping the floors (however inefficiently), filling the washer, drying the potatoes....



love it!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Monday, February 13, 2012

comfort food & cream cheese


Hubs has been battling a fever since Friday. In an attempt to tempt his appetite, I took the opportunity to try out a cinnamon roll recipe I recently came across. Since Pillsbury doesn't appear to manufacture here, it's 'from scratch' or nothing. I must say, all things considered, they were fairly easy and worth the extra time in the kitchen.




If you know my husband and sweets, that he could only take a few bites should be enough to summarize his pitifully sick state:)



Perhaps my greatest success of the night though? I managed to make my own cream cheese (a hard find) using a tea strainer and some plain yogurt from our local store. Cream cheese icing in asia. It's a wonder I'd almost given up on creating. Every bit as good as I had hoped!

Yet another proof that almost anything is possible these days....as long as you can type it into google:)


Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls

2 1/4 t. yeast
1 c. warm milk (110 degrees)
1/2 c. castor or breakfast sugar
1/3 c. butter
1 t. salt
2 eggs
4 c. flour

Filling:
1 c. packed brown sugar
2 1/2 T. cinnamon
1/3 c. butter, softened

Icing:
8 T. butter
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. cream cheese
1/2 t. vanilla
1/8 t. salt

For the rolls, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl.   Add sugar, margarine, salt, eggs, and flour.  Mix well.

Knead the dough into a large ball.  Put in a bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.

Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, until it is approximately 21 inches long by 16 inches wide. It should be about 1/4 inch thick.

To make the filling, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.  Spread the melted butter over the surface of the dough, then sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon evenly over the surface.

Working carefully, from the long edge, roll the dough down to the bottom edge.  Cut the dough into approximately 2 inch wide slices, and place in a lightly greased baking pan.  Refrigerate it over night or bake at 350 for 10-13 minutes or until light golden brown.

While the rolls are baking, combing the icing ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Beat well with an electric mixer until fluffy.  When the rolls are done, spread generously with icing.

Friday, February 10, 2012

nesting


Nesting for me usually means finishing up all my half completed household crafting. I am in full swing in preparation for baby Silas. My project last night was a wall in our dining room.



Hubs has laid down a few laws for me to follow:

1. The days of unrestrained purchasing to re-stock our house are gone. Back to the budget. This means it either needs to be really cheap...or free.

This project was really cheap...probably under $10 including photos.

2. No wall holes. Everything is concrete. Hubs drilled one hole and told me 'no more.' Thankfully, I packed some mounting tape...that hasn't fallen off the wall yet. I used teak strips from a local hardware shop, painted them black, and glued clips on to hold the pictures. So maybe I would have preferred a nicely framed large photo....but I stuck to the rules and it fills the space:)

3. Conversational. We have enough trouble thinking of things to say to our neighbors. Home decor should bring a little easy conversing to make up for the fact that I switched the dining room and den....an unheard of change to any asian. They love weddings here. So who wouldn't want to see a few pics of our American wedding day? right?

Happy nesting!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

bike-o-mania

Daddy's home from the village and there's a lot of excitement in the boy-world of our little house. David decided to invest in a bike to ride on some of the country roads behind our house.


The real reason for this (that he denies)?

He's getting old. His knees have been aching from too much running.


Thanks to the 9 year old jogger we inherited from the Gatewoods and lugged across the ocean, Jude always goes along. So, we decided to order a baby seat for the back of the bike...from Amazon to South Asia. And it actually arrived. Installation is scheduled for tomorrow.



I'll keep you posted. I don't think the excitement will die down anytime soon.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

what would you do?

If your 1.5 year old's play school opened each day with a 5 minute prayer time....

...to an unknown god, with a carved statue of an elephant goddess sitting in the corner of the room. We were assured little J can pray to whomever he wants. Somehow the suggestion didn't simply the solution for us.

Polytheism is tricky business for a monotheist, huh?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Flying Solo



Hubs has been out in a village since Sunday morning. If, in love, distance makes the heart grow fonder. In parenting, distance makes the heart grow gratitude. A few days alone and I have a renewed perspective on just how much that man helps me.

He's making his way home now. Speed that train along.

To keep up my stamina, I've been listening to this talk to young moms by Carolyn Mahaney. Worth putting on your iPod if you have little ones underfoot.

She brought up an aspect of mothering that I rarely think of, but that has been on my mind a lot this week.

Faith.

I know it seems obvious. But very often it isn't really foremost in my mind. When Jude's diaper failed and he's dripping pee, I roll my eyes and wonder how I will make it through 20 more years of this kind of life. I don't think about what God has promised me. I want to invite more thought on the unseen realm and set my hope there...even in the midst of these tiny daily crises.

Read this on a random blog this week. Fit right in with my theme:)

“The only opportunity you will ever have to live by faith is in the circumstances you are provided this very day: this house you live in, this family you find yourself in, this job you have been given, the weather conditions that prevail at the ...moment.” Eugene Peterson

Monday, February 6, 2012

Momentum



Lately, I've had trouble getting out the door of our house. The truth is, I'm starting to understand why asian women go to their mother's house and sit on the couch at this stage of pregnancy. I can barely make it out for a walk without exhaustion driving me back inside.

I am finding that the longer Jude is awake after a nap, the less momentum I seem to have to propel me out.

My latest technique for overcoming this? At the start of his nap time, I pack his afternoon snack, toys, etc in a bag on the stroller. I try to be out the door within 5 minutes of his wake up cry. So far, it's working for me.

Otherwise, I might be homebound for the next 2-6 months.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Somersaultery

Recently, Jude entered a somersault phase. I thought you had to teach your child things like that. Apparently, not....I've definitely not been modeling somersaults lately.



The other night, he threw the couch cushion to the floor in preparation for practice. Then he went to the toy cabinet and strapped on his hard hat. I guess all the practice was wearing him down.


I wish I could listen to all the thoughts in that little head.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Sunnybrook

On our trip to the beach, my book of choice was Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. Somehow, I think I made it through childhood without picking it up. As an adult, I found it an endearing and enjoyable read. Whenever I read children's literature, I admit to feeling fairly self-conscious when people peek at my book cover.

I remembered a few of the reasons why I really love reading children's books as I journeyed through Rebecca:

1. I can read it above distractions. There are a few scenarios that are really conducive to good reading...that are just too distracting for me to focus in on something serious. Airplanes, waiting rooms, the beach, trains or other public means of transport make me reach for either children's literature or a novel I've read multiple times.

2. Simplicity has its place. I don't find children's books boring when read in moderation. Sure, there are times I want a more complex plot or some deeper lessons. But very often, the simplicity that comes with such a book makes me appreciate the detail and description of writing more, not less. And most of the more precious truths in life are learned for me not amid complexity but childlike simplicity.

3. The emotion that accompanies childhood. I'll admit that more than a few times, I found myself shedding tears over Rebecca's hardships and trials. Hurt feelings, the angst of shabby clothes, an unkind word from an adult....I felt her unguarded emotional responses. And I think it does me good to remember that little things are bigger as a child. I hope that remembering makes me a more sympathetic adult. I hope it makes me a better mother. It's not something I naturally remember. I need objective reminders.

All that to say, don't be embarrassed...go ahead and pick up that childhood favorite. Read it again.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

cultural acquisition


It's a sure sign that you've made some significant cultural shifts when your son brings you a ring laying on the table....and puts it on your toe, not your finger.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

In Uproar

33 weeks. Where did the time go?

In preparation, we've been making some big changes in our little household this week. We are pretty routine creatures around here...so I admit that it feels like we've been in uproar all day:)

1. Jude is now napping in his toddler bed. He should be freeing up the crib at nighttime within the next 2 weeks or so.

2. Have I mentioned that I love our apartment complex? It's really an amazing piece of respite in a very crazy country. They even have a little pre-school. Jude's slowly joining the ranks of play group kids this week so we'll have more concentrated time for language study after little bit arrives. We're easing into this, right now I'm going along for play too. We think he'll love it...eventually.


3. After putting the task off for months, we hired a househelper. Today was her first day. My neighbors will be so relieved. She doesn't speak a lick of English. But she washed all the pancake dishes this morning, cleaned the floors, wiped the counters, hung the laundry out, and as icing on the cake...cut a pineapple for me. I hate cutting pineapples more than all the rest of the chores, but I love to eat them.

4. We felt we'd done a great job using our new words to tell her everything she needed to know. When our language teacher arrived, she had a chat with her. She hadn't understood anything we said. And she was in great distress over our vacuum cleaner. Apparently, it's not very good for cleaning floors. We promptly took her to the store...where she requested this fine piece of machinery to make her life easier:



If that's all it takes?

Hopefully all the uproar will turn into a peaceful new routine..with a lot more helping hands just in time for Silas.