Friday, September 28, 2012

public transport

I hope you're not tired of pictures yet from our little family week:) I really will write something more substantial soon! 

Today David showed his parents the ropes of public transport around town.  

We offered to park the car for the rest of their trip but as much as they enjoyed the wind through their hair in the auto and the thrill of the train....I think they had their fill in one short morning. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

driving & down time

After pressing through our schedule pretty hard for the past few days, we decided to make today a laid back no-plan kind of day.

Just plenty of time to read with Grammar and show Pop where we take our shoes off to feel the grass between our toes.

Among the masses of American goodies they brought was my international driver's license.  David took me out on the road for my first lesson this afternoon while the boys napped.  Let's just say, it was the closest experience to a panic attack that I've ever had.  Nonetheless, I drove the whole route uneventfully and without pulling over to let hubs drive.  My head is still spinning. This is my nervous face.....

Tonight David and I are going on our first real night out in about 8 months!!!  (I won't be driving:) Yay for grandparents!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

the trade off

David and his parents are spending the day in a nearby village today.  I am having a "quiet" day at home.  (Such a relative word with two kids, isn't it?) We've been having such a fantastic week, full of good memories and shared fun.  The boys are drinking in the grandparent time.

It's made me think about this far off life we are living.

In a lot of ways, we've made a decision to sacrifice close proximity to family for something we feel is an important part of living our life purposefully. It is a painful choice, one that we deal with on a daily basis to some extent. And it's also a choice that we know makes it difficult on those we love.  Distance is hard, especially when children are young and growing so fast.

Distance does another work as well.  It brings an awareness of how precious moments together really are. An awareness it would be very difficult for us to fully grasp if we were in closer proximity.  When we are together, we try to be extremely intentional with the time.  We know that time together is short.  And it makes a bit of a difference in how you breathe the air together in those moments.

Memories are etched more intentionally. The same distance that divides, draws us nearer.  If we lived down the street, it is doubtful that we'd spend 10 full days enjoying the company of David's parents this year. It seems unlikely that, if we lived across town, my mom would have moved  in for a month when Silas was born.  Distance stretches relationships into new places. 

On weeks like this, the distance is my friend. The trade off of life across the world is a fuller enjoyment of life when we're together.  

If I had drawn the lines of my own life, it isn't what I would have necessarily chosen.  But haven't I mentioned a time or two before....the God who gives is wiser.   

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Those of you who know us well will be entertained to learn that we did indeed make a full schedule of daily activities (including meals) for our vacation with Grammar and Pop. It's the Dawkins way to have a plan! They've been real troopers wading through city traffic with two boys in tow.  Today was zoo-day and it did not disappoint. 

We even rented a little golf cart to take us through the park so we would avoid pinching and hit all the high points before the sun got too hot.  

Stay tuned:)

Monday, September 24, 2012

the heritage half

Yesterday David ran the Old City Heritage Half Marathon in our city.  It highlighted the historic sights in the city.  (The tombs above were built in the 1500s.) With Grammar and Pop along to help with the boys, we went downtown to cheer him on.  All the crowd support must have done some good, he finished in 1hr 38min.  Way to go, hubs! 

After the race, we stopped in at the fort, along the race route, for a better look. Jude and Silas are eager to show Grammar and Pop all the sights of the city this week! 

More to come on their adventures together!

Saturday, September 22, 2012


oh. happy. day.

20+ hours on an airplane just to say hello....we feel really loved.  

Friday, September 21, 2012

Being Content

Silas is in the grabby hands phase.  Your face, your food, your phone...anything and everything that is in reach.

Jude is really a sweet brother.  But, let's face it, he's a little sinner. Sharing isn't in his blood.  So we're working on learning how to relate to a brother who now plays with toys. Jude has grabby hands too, reflecting some deep waters in that little heart.

I've been wading through how to instruct and discipline and love in the middle of toy-grabbing and block-tower-shoving. I haven't figured it out yet.

One thing I did this week was write a few short playtime verses on a card and put them on the fridge.  Show honor to another above yourself.  Be content with what you have. Um.  Jude doesn't really seem to be 'getting' those quite yet, but it's a better use of my words anyways than what I might say otherwise when correcting for the 20th time.

That was really all a preface to the point of this little post.

Enter Laura.

After almost a year in asia, there are still areas I'm just making the tiniest baby steps forward in.  One of those areas is friendship.  It's hard.  There are a lot of unspoken rules.  A lot of time constraints.  No mom groups at church or Bible Studies with childcare so I can actually talk rather than chase.  And the honest truth is, I am lonesome for some good gals in my world.  I miss my friends. This is a hard season of life to start over with friendships.

I've been feeling a little sorry for myself this week.  Wondering what I need to do to move forward in this.  Thinking through ways to bridge the cultural gap.  I kind of feel like I'm 13 years old and just started at a new school.  

But since I'm 32, not 13, I know that this will pass.  In another year or two, some of these baby friendships in my life will be friendships with history and more cultural understanding. A year or two after that, I'll be crying at the thought of leaving this place, where roots have gone down deeper and love has done the work of sweet friendship. It always happens.  No matter how often we move, it happens. But it always takes longer than I would like.

So in the midst of the growth, what do I do?

Sigh. Wish for home. Complain to David.  Shed a few tears.

And then I walk past that little note I posted up on the fridge, the one intended to instruct my 2 year old on how to interact with others.  Show honor to others. (Or think constantly about how much you need to from others?)  Be content with what you have. (Or throw aside the deep friendship and companionship of those in my own little home and grab for more, more, more?)

It did my heart good to read those words last night.  To let them sink into my own grabby hands.  Out of contentment and genuine interest in others, I have something to give not take.

The miracle of the gift of contentment is that nothing circumstantial is very different, but springing from that blessed heart change, everything changes.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


I admit that my first thought when David told me about this little joint was...that looks a bit shady.

I was wrong.

Hands down.  Best chicken kabobs I've had.  I'm glad first impressions weren't lasting impressions. We're regulars now. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

apple cake

 A few weeks ago a friend passed along a delicious recipe for an Apple Cake.  Nothing better on a crisp fall monsoon night with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Enjoy!


1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
3 cups flour 
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
(I added a little cinnamon, too, but it's good either way.)

Beat all ingredients together.  Then add:

3 cups diced fresh apples (with/without peel)
1 cup chopped nuts (optional) 

Stir.  Bake in tube pan at 300 for 1 1/2 hours or more.

1 cup dark brown sugar
1 stick margarine (butter)
1/4 cup milk.

Mix and bring to a boil.  Pour over hot cake.

Notes: Our little family doesn't need quite that much cake, so I cut the recipe in half and baked in a 9x9 pan for around 45 minutes.

As for Silas, that kid eats everything  but food. He's a rice cereal snob, but give him a shoe, cellphone or random object...and he'll chow down!

Monday, September 17, 2012

the sunday review

We used to have crazy Sundays in Memphis.  I remember writing about them. Here, we're at a whole new level though.  Normally, I shy away from taking the camera. However, yesterday things dissolved into such a state that I felt convinced that me and my cellphone photos couldn't possibly be detracting much from the craziness around us.  So I thought I'd give you a few high points from our Sunday routine. 

1. Parking.  Well, it can be an issue.  David used to drive across these nice sewage drains to get inside a gravel lot (about a 5 minute walk from our fellowship)....until he saw a similar ditch eat a car wheel when the concrete collapsed.  We're street side parking these days. 

2. Rest assured.  I am not wearing high heels these days.  

2. The next time you feel your lobby is getting a bit crowded, remember: there's always room for more. In our case, general chaos is added to by the no-shoe requirement in the building. We leave them in the lobby.  I know I've been here a while, because even if I could, it would feel just  too weird for me to walk in with shoes.  Want some excitement? Try moving through this crowd and shodding 2 parents and a toddler with a babe in arms.   

3.  Go to church next Sunday and hug your nursery workers, girls.  It's been a long, long while since I've seen a nursery.  The fellowship we attend does have a fantastic kid's room though.  We watch the message via video while the kids play and toddle about.  This is comparative luxury, seriously.  

I'd be lying to tell you it doesn't get a little chaotic in there though.  Generally speaking, we experience more culture stress in a 2 hour span on Sunday am than we do in a 5 day work week.  There is no end to the fun in the kids section. And we love that Jude and Silas can be right there with us, learning from us how to sing, pray, and listen to the word. 

4. I've learned more about asian sharing & parental strategy on Sunday mornings than any other time.  It is truly one of the most interesting and informative cultural aspects of the entire week. My favorite example from this week? The three year old on the floor in front of us was a wild man.  At one point he decided he would like the candy bar of another child(not his brother).  So, he hit-stole-grabbed said candy bar away from a 6-ish year old.  And he ate it.  The 6 year old tried to rescue the beloved chocolate but the 3 year old was quite feisty and gave some loud yelps. Finally, in desperation, the 6 year old appealed to the mother of the 3 year old.  She had been an ambivalent onlooker during the entire scenario. After requesting he return the half eaten bar, the three year old refused.  Feeling that the matter was thus settled,  she opened her change purse, inquired how much it might be to replace the candy bar , and then threw in 2 extra Rps for another bar for the crazy 3 year old. Obviously, he liked it, right? Let's just say, we've got a long way to go in navigating these waters ourselves! 

4. The exit of our building can be a bit tricky.  I refuse to go out the backdoor into what I now affectionately call "motorcycle alley."It is a narrow road hedged with walls where at least 50 people park their motorcycles.  After almost losing an ankle or two in exit, I've decided it's not for us. We take the broad path seen below. 

 Ok.  So those are some of the quirky, wild things about our Sundays here.  I wanted to share them because they make me laugh and I thought you might enjoy.  Please don't misunderstand me though! My list of amazing, beautiful scenes would be much longer. From the moment we walked into our fellowship, almost a year ago, we were in love with the people and the sweet worship there.  We have been blessed time after time by the gift of those here, so different and yet so similar.'s with a grateful smile and a hearty chuckle that I can wholeheartedly say:

...I (heart) Sundays! 

Friday, September 14, 2012


For those of you who know Rob J, the man of all things sport.... isn't it only appropriate that Jude should be introduced to american football via a package from him and Bethany?

Even on the far side over here, we're ready for a little fall football!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Silas Stats: 6 Months

Today Silas hits the big 0.5! I'll spare you the monologue about how the quickly time has gone. A few noteworthy developments in the little man's life, for the sake of posterity.  

Growing Pains: This little guy has five pearly whites peeking through.  He seems to have a knack for timing too.  Almost all of them have come on opportune weeks. E.g. the week we were in the village, the week mom's home alone, etc. 

Weighing In: There was a little set back when he had that nasty cough last week.  My neighbors kept telling me that Silas was "reducing" as they say in these parts.  He's catching back up though and is weighing in somewhere around 17.5 lbs. 

Epicurean Delights: Without much fanfare, he tasted his first rice cereal this week.  (video forthcoming) Let's just say, he seems to enjoy throwing his food more than eating it.  In an attempt to beef him up a bit, I tried giving him some formula at one point.  He would have none of it.  It doesn't appear that he's withering.  

Tricks: He is a mad man in his baby walker.  He can go zero to sixty in a skinny minute. Usually, it involves Jude.  I admit that he's a bit of a bully with that thing...driving Jude to high points in the house and carpeted areas to avoid getting rammed.  Otherwise, he's a roller.  Not much scooting to speak of.  The hard floors combined with the walker are likely impacting that. Who needs to crawl when your parents buy you wheels, right? 

Favorite Moments: This kid is a sweet baby all day long.  Not a lot of fussing, unless he is in some sort of situation. But when he first wakes in the morning, even if it is so early that I really don't want to be drawn in, he is steal-your-heart sweet.  Baby kisses, cooing, bright blue eyes an inch from your get the picture.  Sweet. 

What's to Come: I am still predicting a fun, outgoing little personality in this guy.  I'm also starting to predict a lot of wild energy. He's a boy.  It is boundless.  The more mobile and awake he is, the more I am realizing that I can pretty much dedicate the next 2-3 years of my life to chasing him.  

I sat down during nap time this morning to give thanks for him on this, his half birthday. Tears welled up.  These are busy days. Mothering is the hardest job I've ever had.  The work seems constant.  But when I stop to consider, I feel overwhelmed by the joy and grace of it. This is a privilege I do not deserve.

I know that many years from now, when these arrows have flown far from this home, I will ache over the fullness of these days. So here, in the midst of them, I lift my head a bit from doing the next thing, and give thanks.

Happy Six Months, Silas! 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


A few weeks ago, Lee posted a perfect vanilla cupcake recipe. Having had little success with cakes since my entry into scratch-cooking land, I finished reading the post and went to the kitchen. The recipe actually came from this site

It did not disappoint.

I made them again this week with some caramel frosting. I'm adding the recipe to my 'permanent' box and looking no further.  Delicious!  

Happy Baking! 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

letting go

By 9pm last night when I finally tucked the last boy in bed for the last time, I sat on the kitchen counter and ate a bag of chips for dinner.  I drank a soda too. I'd like to tell you that I sat there having deep, godly thoughts about how good it felt to work hard at being a mom.  But actually, I was missing my husband, pondering the possibility of full time house help and wondering if 2 kids might be enough for me.

Yesterday was out of control.

If I wasn't cleaning up spit up, I was changing an explosive diaper.  By nightfall, a layer of milk, juice, spit up, and cracker crumbs had overtaken the floor. My feet and back were aching from the near constant pick up of blocks and toys. The power was off the entire day, which means I kept looking with foreboding at our freezer.  (Thankfully, lights and fans were in motion. I love generators.)

The reality is that things really went pretty well, all things considered. I had a decent language lesson, fed, bathed and clothed all parties, maneuvered 2 kids to the drop off/pick up spot for the bus, managed a moderately uneventful trip for Jude to the doctor with both kids in tow,  thanks to the spare hands of a friend who came along, started a coughing Silas back on the nebulizer, heated water for bath time, read stories, sang songs and ended with a house that was adequately pieced back together. Sans David, it was a decent day.

But I felt stressed out.

When I started thinking about what it was that stressed me out, it was generally related to a mess.  The floors. The toys. The dishes. The laundry that was piling up beside a power-less washing machine.  And my inability to tackle the tasks over the demands of my little people.

I am a little compulsive about straightening.

Two kids has toned me down some, but not much.  I can hardly relax until everything is in place. One of my primary goals in housekeeping is that with 5-10 minutes notice, I can entertain guests without embarrassment. It's a goal that needs some modification in this season of life. Reality is knocking down my dreamy ways of one-child living. What exactly qualifies as an embarrassing house? That level seems to be altering with two wild boys.

I think this week of solo parenting is going to be a good stretching ground for me.  I still want to have a hospitable home but my ability to 'let go' of household (semi)perfection is not just a necessity for survival, it's necessary for me to enjoy days rather than huff and sigh through them.

Here's to letting go of what doesn't really matter, and pressing into what does! 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Flying Solo

Hubs flew out this morning for a few days of meetings.  If this morning was any indication of what the rest of the week will be like, I'd better brace myself! 

Thankfully, yesterday we received a new ride for the little men. A very gracious friend lugged it a mere 7500 miles+ for us.  Streets here aren't too stroller-friendly and a double wide is almost an impossible thought, let alone reality.  David's parent's helped us pick this beauty up off craigslist.  Two wild kids are feeling oh-so-much-more manageable.  

Just in the nick of time! 

So that's our wild little world this week. We're trying to hold it together 'til hubs returns!

Friday, September 7, 2012

fall flavor

Though the temperatures have been pleasant since the rains set in, it's unlikely I'll see any red and yellow leaves for a few years at least.  I'll content myself with a bit of fall cooking for now.

I confess that hitherto I've always used a chili starter when cooking a hearty pot of goodness.  But here in the land of all-scratch cookery, I've ventured into seasoning myself.

Here's a little recipe (a bit modified) from that supplies my fall flavor these days.  

Chili Powder (Pot of 4-6 servings)

Happy Fall! 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

street circuses & such

Hubs had quite a cultural day yesterday.  It started with a wild toddler around 5am and was uphill from there.

Example 1: David is training for the Old City 1/2 Marathon in a few weeks.  A few days ago, he took a fall on a bit of uneven pavement  dirt.  Seeing his wounds, an acquaintance insistently took him to the back gate of our complex and picked a few leaves.  He rubbed them all over David's leg, re-opening the old sores, all the while assuring him it would heal him up in a jiffy.

Where there is no neosporin...

Example 2: After the leaf incident, he went into the little corner of town just beyond our gate.  He wasn't exactly sure what all the commotion was so he asked a local. Apparently, it was a street circus.  Note that the woman is balancing on a stool...atop three beer bottles.  Look closely for the band in the background of the picture at the top.  It was quite a performance.  

I feel boldly confident that our family would be a raging success if we put an act together.  

Example 3: Asian men hold hands.  They pile 3-4 men on motorcycles together.  They lay in each other's laps in public. They call each other frequently to chat.  There are all perfectly normal expressions of friendship between married men. i.e. Man friendships here are a bit different than your average man friendship in the west. 

Yesterday as he was crossing the street with a friend, David got the hand-hold. He said it was almost a finger-lace, but that was too much for his american-ness.  Now, hubs is not often flustered by all the asian-ness around us, but the hand hold has kind of shaken him up a bit.  This is a friend he sees almost every day... and as much as he knows it's completely appropriate in asian culture, it still just weirds him out.  

All he got from his sympathetic wife was a hearty laugh, and a warning that he better just get used to it:) 

How long does cultural adaptation take again?  

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

50 Cent Fun

A half a bag of beans, tupperware, and a few shovels = 
a happy toddler.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

gloom be gone

It's been a bit of a gloomy week around here.  The rain just keeps coming.  The wind keeps whistling.  And if I had things my way, we'd be sipping spiced tea and watching movies all day long.  
Perhaps it's the aftermath of a month of travel, maybe it's the weather, we're all recovering from various bouts with this and that...whatever it is, I've been struggling to overcome it

Last night, I read a bit on the Femina blog.  As usual, there was a wealth of encouragement. This particular note caught my eye.  Needy was just the word for me.  And the remedy was just gospel enough to be true.

Hope it spurs you on too!

The truth is that we cannot necessarily control whether we have friends who give to us. We cannot build a perfect support system for ourselves. What we can do is get outside of ourselves and seek to give to others with a cheerful heart. We can let go of our self absorption and start giving, every time we have an opportunity (which is many thousands of times in a day) with a thankful heart.  So if you are feeling low, think of what you can give. You can always give a smile, give a cheerful laugh, give a meal with no strings of desperation tied onto it. You can confess an attitude that may be in the way. You can turn your thoughts out. You can look to the interests of others who God has placed so conveniently close for giving.
My Dad has always said, for years and years, don’t spend your time looking in your own heart. The human heart is full of nothing good. Do not go dumpster diving in the needy emotions that you are sure to find inside somewhere. When you feel needy, look to Christ. Because if you belong to him, you have no needs that have not been filled. When you are looking to Christ, you have so much to give. When you have what he has given you, and you still are consumed with what you need, you need to get yourself re-oriented. You have the Holy Spirit, you have the love of God, you have forgiveness of sins. Drink from that river when you are thirsty. Because that water flows so fast it can not be contained. When you turn to that source, your life will be a life of overflow. Overflow of joy, of gratitude, of forgiveness, or fullness of life. You can never out-need the greatest Giver. And all the needs below you? All the little cups being held up for water? Give with the same abandon that God gave to you. Give selflessly. Give without reservation. Give in kindness, in laughter, in forgiveness, and in joy. Give what you have been given.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Miscellaneous Monday

Nothing special to post today...just a good modge podge from our little life. 

1. After weeks of tragic farewells, Jude turned a corner.  He is now a happy bus rider each morning (...with the help of a few M&Ms as recommended by our dear friend Peggy).  Whew.  Glad that transition is over! 

2. I bought a pair of pink crocs a few weeks ago to serve me through the rainy season.  Comfy, water worthy, and cute. 

3. If you've never watched a few of the Sesame Street: Singing With the Stars on you tube, you should.  It's a favorite family activity these days. They're hilarious. One of my favorites: India Aire's ABCs

4. Hubs has a fantastic new language helper, in addition to his tutor.  He's a local florist.  It's working in my favor:) 

5. Silas is a wild man.  He's everywhere.  Today he was chasing Jude across the porch to get the water hose.  The walker may become a regret....for Jude at least.  

Happy Monday to you!