Friday, August 31, 2012

35, 36, 37....38!

One more tidbit from our trip that I couldn't resist posting. After watching the kids arrive the first morning, we were a little taken back at their "school bus" experience.  David stood on the porch that night and counted as the driver packed the kids inside to head home...38 little asians in one auto rickshaw! 

I'm not joking. 

No wonder we have a different concept of personal space! 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

new faces & places

We spent three days this week on the campus of a little school in a tiny village.  Children are gracious language helpers and it was fun to hang out with them when classes were on break.  We're making progress in navigating Jude and Silas with lots of little hands around.

I took plenty of art supplies, bubbles and games this time to distract from the kids and make it a bit more interactive.  Jude & Silas as the main attraction can be a bit much! It was definitely a step up from our last village trip but not without a few struggles. One day I was explaining yet again that Jude doesn't like to have his cheeks pinched. A sweet little voice piped up.  My rough translation of his words: "But Auntie, his cheeks are just so nice. We really like to pull them."

As for Silas, he was a champ.  He's too laid back at this age to take much notice of all the attention. His smiles are easy to coax and he wins hearts in an instant. He has begun to get just a bit more clingy though and I shudder to think what form stranger anxiety will take here. I'm lovin' my laid back baby for now!

When we were driving back into the city, I couldn't help giving thanks for such a beautiful few days.  The landscape, the striking faces, the fields of rice and loaded oxcarts, the beauty of it all wells up before me as a reminder that this life I am living here is a gift.

There is a deep awareness in the midst of it that these were the things purposed for us.  His purposes are good.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

fresh air

Friends.  Thank you for the blogging encouragement.  It really spurred me on to keep writing.

Now, for my final blogging confession of the week: while you were reading all about my 1,000 blogs, I was waking to the sound of roosters  and wandering dirt roads out in a village.  I pre-posted this week because I knew I'd be away a few days.

We were there for a language intensive but came away with a lot deeper love for this land.  It was, hands down, the most peaceful place I've been on continent. Quiet, fresh air, beautiful sunsets, and amazingly unique faces on every corner.

More pictures tomorrow.  The rooster (and my crazy babies) crowed a little too early for me this morning! 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

to the lurkers

Lurker (n) : a person who reads discussions on an internet forum but rarely or never participates actively.  

Since this week is dedicated to  my 1,000 blog posts, I thought I'd give a little shout out to my lurkers. I know you're out there. And I love it!  Confession time to the lurkers.

I lurk on blogs too.  And I would feel really weird if I actually had to confess it to a few of them.  Some of them are people I don't know.  It's the linking phenomenon that's done this to me.  That said, don't ever feel awkward about lurking here (unless of course you're a maniacal stalker).  It's not private for a reason.  I don't think you're weird.

Silence.  A few of you 'lurkers' have broken the silence and commented.  I doubt I ever responded. And I feel guilty about I just never returned a friend's phone call. I am terrible at returning to posts for follow up. Comments come into my email and I rarely get back on to respond.  I just wanted to say out loud...I am so glad you read and I always get really excited when I discover who is actually peeking in here. Shoot me an email sometime.  I am better (though not very speedy) at replying to those.

Filling in the gaps. I do still send out a monthly newsletter with some details about our overseas journey that I don't normally feel inclined to post here on the world wide web.  If you are more curious about our life abroad and want an off-the-blog scoop, drop me a line at gmail : lrdawkins

Two days is enough blog nostalgia for all of us, right? Back to daily life tomorrow! 

Monday, August 27, 2012

1,000 blogs

I've been watching my little post-counter for the past few weeks in anticipation of this momentous occasion.  It is the week of 1,000 blog entries right here on The Dawkins Narrative.

It all started back in 2008 when the Boevings came to our house for a visit.  Laurin spent the weekend trying to convince me of two things: 1) I would love blogging. 2) We had just enough space for a baby bed in our closet.

Not long after, I started blogging.  And love it I do.  Two years later, we brought a little bundle home.  He spent the first months of his life sleeping soundly, tucked away in a 100 year old closet in our Louisville apartment.  Successful weekend for Laurin:)

Seems like a good landmark for a bit of reflection on why I keep this thing going.  A few thoughts:

1. Connectivity.  We live a scattered life.  In almost 5 years of marriage, we've spent 2 months or more in 5 different houses, 4 different cities, and 2 different countries.  One day, many, many years from now I hope we live in our hometown again.  I hope we bump into you in the grocery or run into you at Shelby Farms. It's a hope I try to hold loosely but a hope nonetheless.  I am glad we have history with people. I think that is rare and precious.  I want to maintain it, even if you only bump into me here for a while yet, I want to live a shared life.

2. Widening the Circle. It's a blog. I know. You skeptics our there are rolling your eyes.  But you might be surprised how many new friends this little outlet has brought into my life.  Good friends, friends that bless me and encourage me.  Friends that bring depth and light into my world.  In this season, my time for coffee dates with friends is at about nil.  I kind of feel like this is my coffee date every day.

3. Titus 2. This certainly doesn't apply to every blog I post, but one of my primary motivators is that little passage tucked away in Titus 2. There are a handful of younger women who peek in here.  I pray that they  come away from daily glimpses into my life, wanting to be busy at home, loving husband and children (or praying in advance for them), intent on good works.  I am a work-in-progress.  But an awful lot of ladies, who were still learning and growing themselves, have genuinely helped me grow into a more biblical womanhood.  I hope good things are gleaned here. 

4. Family Ties.  Last but not at all least, our family oceans away motivates me.  They are one of my primary motivations not just for posting, but for the frequency of my posting.  I don't want to be strangers to them.  I want them to know these funny boys, these awkward social adjustments, these bright and beautiful sights.  I love the instantaneous nature of blogging for that purpose alone.  Of course, I'd rather talk directly but time doesn't always allow that. Sharing daily life with them via a blog is much better than not at all. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012


I am not sure why, but I always remember my mom joking when we were young and someone asked what she did all day.  She would usually laugh and reply that she just sat around all day eating bon-bons.   Of course, she was really spending her day cooking, cleaning, carpooling and caring for us.  And we knew it. Today I made Oreo Bon-Bons and thought about her.  I wanted to sit on my couch and eat them....but I didn't really have time for all that. 

I did grab one to-go though, and it was good! 

Here's the quick and easy recipe: 1 pkg (20oz) Oreos (asian substitute: none needed! we have oreos here, a plenty...and they're cheap!), 1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese (asian substitute: 1 large container Dahi yogurt, drained 4 hrs in tea strainer), Chocolate bark for dipping (asian substitute: cadbury bar or look for bark at the import store...i found some:) Directions: Crush oreos, mix with cream cheese, refrigerate.  Roll into balls. Refrigerate again.  Dip in melted bark and place on wax paper. Enjoy! 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

life on the move

The baby recliner is a thing of the past.  Of late, it's hardly been a relaxing seat for Silas.  He's ready for a bit more pop and snap in his life. 

Enter our most recent purchase.  On marble floors, he caught on within minutes.  Am I really ready to have two little ones under foot?!?


As for big brother, it's like he got a new toy too. There is no end to the fun (and probably danger) these wild little boys plan.  I did catch Jude with one leg in ready to make a jump into the seat.  For the most part though, he's just been slinging a delighted Silas around the room. 

That's our life on the move.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Dinner Guests 101

I am a little ashamed to write that after almost 9 months in country, I'm just now starting to entertain dinner guests.

We've had plenty of other ex-pats in for a meal. And we've had plenty of neighbors and friends over for 'tea' (which in my house is usually a glass of sprite and a cookie). A full meal just felt too complicated though. There are a number of factors adding to that complication.

1. 98%(ish) of our neighbors are vegetarians.  We're talking eggless cakes, etc. Don't get me wrong, I like vegetarian dishes fine, but veg cooking for guests is a bit intimidating.

2. Dinner is served around 9pm.  So, to be honest, we're pretty much asleep by then. We considered moving to 'local time' but with littles in the house, it's just too much. If we invited our neighbors to come eat dinner with us at 6pm, they would look at us like we were crazy. 6pm is 'tea time.'

3. Spices are everything. Friends, I am a self-declared lazy cook. Gradually, in the absence of prepared foods, I am learning how to use spices. But it's not my strong point. Spice is a BIG deal to these folks. They mix their own, grind them up themselves and take an awful lot of pride in them. Intimidating.

4. The Kick. Our region is known not just for spices, but for spicy food. The hotter the better. We're talking nose running, eyes burning, mouth on fire kick.  Once again, not my strong point. 
But excuses can only last so long, friends.

 Over the past few weeks, I've laid aside my pride and decided to give it a whirl. I'll give you a snap shot of two recent dinners at our home with locals.  Both semi-catastrophic, but we are progressing.

Scenario One: Enchiladas and Homemade Salsa 
What could be closer to asian food than a nice Mexican Enchilada? I even added a pepper for a little more flavor. The recipients were oh-so-kind. But there's just only so much one can do. The husband did his best to put it away but the wife just couldn't. The fork, the lack of masala, all of it...was just too much. In the end, she ate white rice and curd while I tried my best not to cry that there was absolutely nothing on my table she liked.  
Scenario Two: Eggplant Marinara & Spaghetti
We knew there was trouble when he told us that the last time he had spaghetti was on a business trip to Europe several years ago. It was the only veg food he could find, and he ordered it to-go because he didn't know how to eat it. Asians eat with their hands, not utensils. I hadn't really thought through the ramifications of this in my menu selection. I served him a bite sized portion and looked sorrowfully at the required fork.  30 minutes later, he took the last bite.  Laborious eating if ever there was. 
What I'm learning? Neither of these meals really was a catastrophe.  Everyone had a good time.  They learned a bit about us. We learned a lot more about them.  Friendships are growing. Our table was  a happy place and I am a bit further along in entertaining that I was before.

After all, I have to start somewhere, right?

Monday, August 20, 2012

our weekend

a few puzzles...

a little painting...

more than enough sweets...

and a lot of smiles...

It was a good one!

Friday, August 17, 2012

the rise & fall

At least once a day, I pause.  I stand beside a lightly snoring baby or a sprawled little toddler and  I wait.

I am looking for the rise and fall of a little chest.

Sometimes I put my cheek close enough to a tiny mouth to feel the warm breath.  I rest my hand on a tiny back. I wonder at the breath in a tiny body.

Two years into motherhood, the miracle still moves me day after day.  And I get the feeling that when they are very old, if I have opportunity, I will stand and wait and marvel again.

It's in those moments that I fight the tendency to call them mine.  How could someone I love so much, who depends upon me so wholly, be so utterly out of my hands in a deep sense. Doesn't it go without saying that one of my almost unspeakable fears is that the rise and fall cease?  That what is completely out of my control happens, and I come face to face with the reality that they really are not mine? My pause can so easily be shattered by fear. And a sweet moment becomes a moment gripped by what-if, a temptation to close my hand and pretend I am in control.

But I know that open hands are better.  

I love this gift of mothering them.  I treasure the moments in my heart. I give thanks for the grace of them, knowing I don't deserve this joy.  I hope I do stand over them when they have children of their own and watch the rise and fall of that miraculous breath.  But I hope I learn more and more to stand  in trust with an open heart and hand.

God gives breath.  Our times are in his hands.  The rise and fall is his miracle, not mine. 

For me, mothering continues to be a journey into deeper faith, more relinquished trust, humbler hope. Sweet gifts beget sweet gifts.

the rise and fall 
of kingdoms and men 
are bound in the breath
of a baby bed

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fresh Lime Soda

In the absence of the mango lassi, I've discovered a new delight.... a sweet lime syrup mixed with soda water.

It really is as refreshing as it looks! 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Independence Day

Our neighbors are celebrating their independence today and we've been peeking in on the festivities.  I admit it was hard to miss.  Patriotic tunes started blaring at around 9am and lasted until after the raising of the flag!  Here are a few of our favorite sights: 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

home again

We just pulled in from another 6 days out of pocket.  We are tired. We are happy, happy to be home.  Laundry is gathered into mountains waiting for  tomorrow.  A quick little re-cap of our trip:

 1. Meetings, meetings and more meetings.  But don't feel too sorry for us: we saved a little time for fun too!

2. We stayed a couple days after our conference for a medical check up for Jude.  While we were there though, Silas developed a scary little cough.  The doctor recommended a nebulizer.  Between the two of them, we were at the hospital for about 8 hours yesterday! Whew.  Thankfully, everyone is much better today.

3. To compare cities just a bit...our weekend was full of trees and cooler weather.  But the exhaust from traffic was unbelievable. There was a cloud of fumes at every intersection. On our next trip, we'll be wearing bandanas in the auto!

4. And now...on to the next thing!

Friday, August 10, 2012

library love

We finally stopped at that little book center I kept noticing.  As it turns out, it's a fantastic lending library with a reasonable fee. They even deliver new books to my door. We signed up for a super "book lovers" package (which means we can check out 4 books at a time:) and have been perusing their shelves ever since.

I'm a happy, happy mom about this new find! 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

the fruitful tree

Sometimes I read things that make me think long thoughts. Thoughts about how I want my life to look when it closes.  Thoughts about the legacy David and I want to build and burn into these little boys.  Thoughts that stretch beyond meal times and messy rooms.  
I read a poem this week written by Piper, dedicated to his father in law. It made me think long, good thoughts about living with roots down deep by that stream of living water.  I thought I'd share it. 

The Fruitful Tree

No tree however deep the roots,
However high and green the shoots,
However strong the trunk has stood,
Or firm the fibers of the wood,
No tree was ever meant to be
A never-ending shade for me
Or you. Save one: where Jesus died
With bleeding branches spread as wide
And far as faith for sinful men.
But there was shade, especially when
The tree was old: the leaves were thick
With life, and though the root was sick,
The bark deep-creased with age, the limbs
Were laden down with love, and hymns
Were heard beneath when wind bestirred
The bowing branches with the Word
Of heaven. O there were years of shade!
And more: there was the fruit he made,
Or better, bore, when all the ground
Seemed dry, we turned again and found
The branches heavy with some rare
Well-watered food and sweet called Care. 
There must have been a river there
Beneath the arid earth somewhere
Deep-flowing up around the tips
Of dying roots, and giving sips
Of everlasting life for him
To share with us while every limb
Gave up its own. O, there was fruit!
Life-giving from the dying root.
And more. Much more. There was the wood
And it was strong. It had withstood
A thousand storms, and everyone
More firm. And now for every son,
Grandchild and every daughter here
He lies a fallen tree and dear,
And leaves in you the solid wood
And bids you stand where he has stood
Beside the river of the Word,
And that you keep what you have heard,
And sing with him in one accord:
"My fruitful house will serve the Lord."

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

the handy hanky

Jude is on the mend from a little cold.  The aftermath is a lingering runny nose.  When we first enrolled in preschool, I noticed that each child was requested to come with a handkerchief secured to their shirt each day. It's quite the 'thing' to do here for the little ones. Even grown men still use the good ole fashioned hanky in these parts.

But I forgot all about it and included a pack of wet wipes in his bag.  We don't own any man hankys.

As Jude was rushing out the door today though, I haphazardly grabbed a baby washcloth and pinned it case he should need it.  Apparently, it is an all purpose cloth.  When he returned from school, there was a little paint, a little snack time, and a little of his cold on the pinned cloth.

I'll be buying a pack of handkerchiefs this week. For me, it feels like I just took one more step into asian culture.  Happy hanky pinning! 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Jude is 2 years, 2 months.  He's a wild little guy these days.  The creativity just never stops.  Today he was singing happy birthday to the flowers in the park.  Last week, he told me that the Olympians were "running like mommy." (Don't I wish:) He's figuring out numbers.  Learning colors.  Spouting a few crazy phrases in local dialect. And making our world a lot fuller and more exciting.

I love this phase. 

One thing that is coming along with all the discovery though is an opinion.  

He knows which juice he prefers.  He wants to watch Mickey sometimes, Elmo another time. He likes dried mango but not ripe mango.  Strawberry yogurt is a hit but pasta is not.  And the more verbal he gets, the more he is learning to express that little opinion of his in a big way.  

We're working on obedience a lot right now...and he's got a fair (not perfect) handle on it for a 2 year old.  But one thing I am running up against lately is this loud and decided opinion.  It's been a challenge for me to learn to let him find his little voice, and still teach in daily ways that he's just not in charge.  

This is a new season.  I'm learning.  Thought I'd throw my thoughts out there today in case some mom a few steps ahead wants to pipe in with advice. 

As for Silas, the most complicated issue he has going on right now is cradle cap.

If only baby oil head massages would work for the demands of a two year old! 

Monday, August 6, 2012

kolkata (a.k.a calcutta)

We are home.  And oh so happy to be in our little abode. I didn't take my camera this weekend, and only took a few cell phone photos along the way. Most of our time in Kolkata was spent driving through the streets to and from the airport....

Our meetings were outside of the city at a resort...with Jude's dream pool!

The food was so gourmet that when I fixed tomato soup with egg & cheese sandwiches for dinner tonight, hubs gushed over the meal. Simple fare is always welcome after a few days of richness.  I'm guessing the scale went up a few kgs for all of us! 

We really did try to pack light.  But add a pack & play, enough diapers for 2 kids, computer, books, a guitar etc, etc...and we just have to assent to the reality that our backpacker days are over. 

Home sweet home for a few days until we head out again! I really will write something more interesting than a travel log soon:)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

loud mouth

Pardon the blog pause.  We've been en route to Kolkata for some meetings. 

Jude woke up the day of the trip with his volume turned up high.  He was a loud talker for the entire day. Most days his volume level is around a 5.  But it's like someone switched on the surround sound for that kid. Add to that a few long taxi rides, an airplane ride, and a new place to explore, and we're talking: out of control.  It was a running Jude narrative all day long. 

I love that sweet voice.  

But I'll admit, after about 1.5 hours in the airplane, I was starting to look for the mute button. 

Thankfully, once we settled into our trip, the volume reduced and we are having a fantastic time.  

Not much internet in these parts...but plenty of fun.  

More on Monday! 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Lights Out

A few of you have asked if we were a part of the massive power outages on this side of the globe.  When the masses were out, we were safely down south. Tonight though, perhaps as an aftermath...just to even things out, we're running on generators.  Fans and lights, but not much else. 

That means 2 things.  

1. The computer is a main source of entertainment. 

2. It was a good (though not really necessary, since we cook with gas) excuse to order out! 

Tomorrow we're flying up north...hopefully into a chaos-free zone now that the power has been restored.  We sure are glad our trip was scheduled for the latter half of this week!