Wednesday, October 31, 2012

the thanksgiving tree

I am always looking for ways to anticipate holidays in ways that draw out the richest parts of what we are celebrating.  This week, I saw a great idea on my friend Bonnie's blog.  This November, we'll be counting toward Thanksgiving by writing things that we are thankful for at dinner each evening and putting them on our little 'tree.'

I happened upon some fun branches at the local craft market, because somehow palm branches from outside just didn't feel like fall to me:)  A medium sized coke bottle wrapped in a piece of 12x12 scrapbook paper made a fantastic little vase.  Jude is working on punching holes in all of our ' thankful leaves.' And Silas, he's eating ribbon.

No more than 20 minutes on this one.  And I'm hoping the yield in our hearts will abound! 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

a symbol of faith

Asians are spiritual people.  For most of them, Hinduism isn't just their religion, it envelopes who they are.  Most of my neighbors have idols adorning the walls and even cabinetry of their homes.  They love to use religious symbols to honor their gods. When I walk in their homes, it is inevitably a part of our conversations. It's almost unavoidable.  

From a western context, it is startling.  From a Christian context, it is sobering.   But I am learning to appreciate their willingness to display a devout spirituality. They know that we were born to worship.  There's a freedom in that admission that the west rarely grants.  

This week I've been working on a little project that's been stirring in my mind and heart for almost a year now.  It was in formation before I arrived, but it has taken shape in my new life here. Today it is at the frame shop.  

I wanted to put together a piece of art (a loose word for my stick figures:) that would tell a bit of the story of El Elyon, the Most High God.  I used symbols to work my way through the Bible, from creation to the flood, Abraham to the prophet Isaiah, the nativity to the feeding of five thousand, from the cross to the giving of the Holy Spirit.  In the middle, El Elyon is written in Hebrew (sorry, Hebrew scholars, not the best rendition), surrounded by the cross.  

I love the way it took form. 

More so, I love the story it tells of the intangible, immutable, immortal, living God, worthy of all praise.  

Monday, October 29, 2012

coconuts & cake

David is officially 32.  We celebrated with caramel cake & cinnamon rolls. He played football with Jude this weekend and told me he hopes Jude picks up the game quickly. He's getting too old to tackle much longer. Yeah right.  In 40 years, Hubs will be still be playing tackle football...even if it's with a walker.   

Otherwise, it was a pretty quiet weekend around here.  Not much to report that would be new and exciting.  

I did try to cook with a fresh coconut that my neighbor gave to me. It took all my men to get it open.  Then I chopped it a bit and added it to the red beans and rice.  Final verdict: not worth the work.  But the little guys sure love anything that involves a hammer.  

Happy 32, Hubs! 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Five

1. The flower project was a flop. I think I need a control group or something scientific. I should have known. I could barely pass Plants & People (a.k.a. science for dummies) in college.  I had my money on the filtered water. It was the first to perish.  The lemon juice had no apparent impact, though I still might give it another round just to see.

2. We are headlong into festival season here.  Lots of dancing, new sarees, pujas and food.  I'm planning to write a longer post on that one later.  I wish you could drop in for a week just to get a glimpse.

3. I returned from the gym this morning to find David buzzing Silas's head.  I believe that barbering is a man's job.  (A convenient belief in my household:) I go to the beauty parlor myself.  It wasn't quite as smooth as David had hoped.  But A+ for effort! 

4. I'm pretty sure I broke my baby toe.  A certain stubborn toddler was dragging his feet, I was consequently dragging him....and in the midst of the drama, there was a massive toe blow. Oh. How unappreciative I have been henceforth for that healthy little toe.  It hurts! 

5. Silas has officially joined the world of movers and shakers.  Put an object across the room, and he can shimmy, scoot and crawl to it in no time.  I keep reminding myself that mobility is a good progression.  I'll be batten down the hatches around here though! 

 On the agenda for this weekend? A bit of work for hubs, a little potty training and crawler chasing for me, and a LOT of celebrating.  Tomorrow David celebrates 32! More on that on Monday:)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

harvest time

....the things we do, the habits we cultivate day-in and day-out are like seeds. They germinate. They grow, and they produce a crop.  So consider what you are planting. What kind of seed have you been sowing in your field?

If we are planting faithfulness and sacrifice, the harvest is peace and joy. If we are cultivating a gentle and quiet and meek spirit, we will have a beautiful crop to put in the barn some day. So what’s sprouting in your field right now? Respectfulness, kindness, gratitude? Envy, bitterness, self-centeredness?

Consider some of the older women you know...what have they planted and what kind of crop has come in so far? Take note. Learn from the older women, both those with a good crop and those with a failed crop. Cranky old women didn’t wake up cranky on their seventieth birthday. They were cranky about lots of things for many years, and by the time they hit seventy, they had a whole lot more  to be cranky about.

Ask God to give your field a look over, and ask the Holy Spirit to identify the bad seeds that have gotten into the crop. Then pray that He will help you get rid of those so you can turn your attention to planting the good stuff, things like kindness and gratitude. Shove some of that seed into the ground each day.

God does wonders. He receives us and cleanses us. He is willing to forgive and overlook our failed crops. He graciously uses our repentance and faith to produce a new crop. We put the seed in the ground, and He brings about the increase.

by Nancy Wilson at Femina 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

the puppeteer

In the absence of playgroup, we've been pulling out a few more art supplies than usual this week.  Today, during Silas's morning nap, Jude and I constructed one of my favorite quick and easy toddler projects thus far.  I saw the idea several months ago...somewhere in the blogsphere...and have been storing it up.

Jude loves it. Though he prefers my puppet shows to his at this stage of the game, so it's not quite as self entertaining as I had hoped:)   Nonetheless, a rendition of five little monkeys jumping on the bed is so much more fun in a theatre, is it not?

Less Than 30 Minute How - To

2 Tension Rods (Because like any good Southern woman, I counted those essential enough to bring en-bulk across oceans with me.)
2 Yards of Fabric (Special thanks to my sweet friend Shannon who sent me this cute coordinate several months ago!)
A little ribbon

Sew a top stitch large enough to push the tension rod through on the bottom fabric.  Finish the edges if you are really energetic...or your toddler is a bit enamored with the sewing machine like mine is:)

I made a tube for the top with one stitch longways. Insert tension rod #2.  I didn't finish those edges...but who can tell, right?

Note: If you can't even sew a straight stitch..don't be embarrassed.  Just grab some fabric tape (or duck tape:) and make-shift stitches.  Toddlers don't care! I think it would be a super fun kid birthday gift with supplies to make sock puppets.  Too bad I'm running low on tension rods.

Tie ribbons where you please.  Grab a book, stuffed animal or puppet.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

tough week

A play school break week. Potty training boot camp. And a toddler who's favorite phrase is "Maybe tomorrow." Need I say more?

Monday, October 22, 2012

violent affection

We made it through the weekend.


We've got a lot of affection going on in our little boy world these days.  And the more mobile Silas is, the more violent it seems to become.   Pushing, flipping, throwing.  You name it, we've got it. It's not just Jude, either.  Silas is no sissy.  He can hold his own.  It's  all under the banner of "wrestling," right?  (I'll let you guess which parent started that in our house:)

Of course, at times, discipline is in order. Kicking, hair pulling, scratching.  As of this weekend, we instituted a time out spot for when things get out of control. But for the most part, both of them are laughing hysterically...while visions of the emergency room flash in my head.

What's a mom to do?

I'm not sure I have the stamina for 18-20 more years of this kind of violent affection.  The world of little men is a mystery to me.  I don't remember shoving my sister to say 'i love you.' Any of you boy moms want to pipe up with advice?

Friday, October 19, 2012

fun friday

We love familiar faces.  So when we heard a few home folk were passing through the city, we were oh so happy.

I just love a little memphis talk here in asia!

Who's next? 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

peanut butter kisses

 We are still lovin' all that american food the grandparents brought our way! What better use for hershey's kisses than peanut butter cookies, right? Click here for recipe!

And while I bake? Jude is becoming a big fan of photo booth:)

My little Warhol.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Jude's World

A few tidbits from Jude's world these days. 

1. Our neighbors think we shouldn't drink cold water or go outside in the evening without a hat on the boys.  We've been doing both.  Jude & I are battling a nasty cough.  Must be those 70 degree temps at night:) 

2. We've made significant bus progress.  Only a few whimpers this week, but otherwise successfully navigating school bus life. Oh. I am glad. Thanks for the prayers on that one! 

3. This morning I took Jude to the bus.  I always get a little flustered trying to get out the door. The boys are usually flustered too. If we can just get out our door, it's like magic calm.  This morning, Jude was sitting in the back of the stroller and I forgot to get his shoes.  So he went to school barefoot.  There just wasn't much else to do.  The truth is, they all have to take their shoes off at the door anyways, so it wasn't that big of a deal. I felt a little shamefaced about it though:) 

4. In an attempt to reduce our packing for village and hotel travel, we bought this little mosquito net tent off the roadside today.  I'm feeling hopeful.  Little boys just love tents.  Jude is currently peacefully napping in it. Good-bye pack and play! 

5. My favorite Jude-ism right now? Instead of just saying yes to things he replies "yup, yup, mhhm." It's gotta be the kids at school.  I love it. He sounds like a 50ish man when he says it.  

That's it for now! 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

the daisy fair

I'm doing a little science fair project at home this week.

I've been having a problem with the stems rotting on my flowers.  This is, most likely, yet another reason why we have a large water cooler in our kitchen.  Tap water can be shady...even for sipping gerberas.

A few weeks ago, I haphazardly stuck a flower in an old lemon juice bottle. The flower lasted an unbelievably long time.  The stem was in tact.  Did the acidity in the leftover lemon juice kill the asia-funk in the water? Is that possible?

Just because I'm a little nerdy and a lot curious (if it will impact flower longevity), I have 3 vases this week.

1. Filtered, purified water.
2. Regular tap water.
3. Tap water with 3 drops of lemon juice.

Here's to hoping I've stumbled across longer life for my asian daisies!

Monday, October 15, 2012

family worship

A few months ago, a friend sent me a link to this family worship guide on Sojourn's website in Louisville. It has age appropriate suggestions for kids up to age 10.  It's quick and easy to review.

It was just the jump start our little family needed.

Hitherto, our attempts had been either too scattered or too lofty.  I sat down and made a little plan for our family, that fits into our life.  Jude and David are working on short verses every day on the way to the school bus.  We're still going through the Westminster Shorter here and there at mealtimes. We added one hymn per month as part of the goodnight tunes. And we decided that once a week for around 15-20 minutes was all the consistency we realistically could foresee for a sit down, planned family worship time.

To be honest, we were skeptical about our ability to sustain even once a week.  I mean, how many times have we said we'd like to read a little passage at mealtimes...only to forget after 2 days! But less seems to be more for us. It feels doable, sustainable. And to our surprise, Jude is totally into it.

What 2 year old wouldn't want to watch their mom and dad act out stories like Zaccheus climbing the sycamore tree, right?

Hope you find as much help from this little resource as I did! 

Friday, October 12, 2012

catching up

People have started sending me "are you alive" emails. I haven't been a very faithful emailer in about 3 weeks. The in-laws, recovery vacation, language start...and I just kept pushing the inbox aside.

Today I'm catching up.

Consequently, all the attention the blog can get is this little link to one of my favorite iPod finds of late.  Mahaney on God's Word & Our Feelings. 

How could I not need to listen to that after a week like this! 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

literary babes

I'm on a children's book kick again, most likely induced by coupling Job and Yancey in my devotional readings and sludging through another language every morning.

Our little library is my main source, so selection is somewhat limited.  So far, I've re-read the entire Anne series by Montgomery, never without more delight than before, taken in Pollyanna for the first time in my adult life, and continued on in an E. Nesbit journey.

I recently put down The Railway Children, as a surprising favorite.  Nesbit's more fantastical stories aren't necessarily my cup of tea. Not because they aren't good, I just rarely gravitate towards that style.  But I loved The Railway Children. So much so, that I just checked out The Treasure Seekers in hopes of another favorite.

Any of you children's literature gurus feel free to throw a few suggestions my way!

In the meantime, you'll find me engrossed in Scuppers the Sailor Dog & The Runaway Bunny night after night.  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


When did that baby of mine get old enough to go into the kitchen and pour his own bowl of cereal? (Ok, so we're still working on fine motor skills.)

Pops & Grammar...if you were wondering what we'd do with all that delicious raisin bran.  Wonder no more:) 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

year one love

We're big on milestones this week.  A year ago today, we stepped off the plane onto asian soil for the first time.  Suitcases in hand, only one toddler about, no apartment, friends, or words to speak.  We've come a long way.  I thought I'd take a few minutes today to list a few of my top loves about asian life and culture.

Honor: Coming from a society where honoring the aged is going out of vogue, it is immensely refreshing to me to see honor bestowed on the elderly here.  It's not uncommon for me to notice a 15 year old walking around the mall with her grandma, holding her hand and taking care of her.  I just love it.  Most of the time in the states, the public interactions I notice with the elderly and youth make me cringe.  Here, they make me smile. Asians know how to show honor to whom it is due. 

Sparkles & Bling: Never have I seen more beautiful fabrics, more sequins and glitz than in this land.  It doesn't matter if you plan to sell fruit on the side of a dusty road all day, dress like a princess in a sequined sari.  Forget stocks, invest in gold.  And don't just buy it, don it in long necklaces and splashy bangles.  I never feel overdressed here. It's always appropriate to have a few jewels and sequins in place! 

Ingenuity: Need to move an 8 foot piece of glass from one place to the next.  No problem.  Grab a buddy and ride through town on a motorcycle, with the glass sticking straight up.  More power? Splice a line and add one along the roadside.  I've never met a people more inclined to re-routing, re-wiring, re-doing than my asian friends. They can make anything work. 

The Cool Factor : I love that there's really not one.  You just are what you are. Want to stop and stare at something you find intriguing? Go ahead.  Think it'd be great to have a picture with the random american at the mall? No problem.  Throw your arm around them and smile. 

Spirituality: Asians are unashamedly spiritual people.  They acknowledge wholeheartedly the connections between body and soul, earthy and supernatural.  They are intensely devout, spending seemingly endless resources and time on the pursuit of relationship with the spiritual realm.  It's not just private, it's public. It's corporate and corporately acknowledged as important.  I admire that.

No, it's not all love over here, but the love-list keeps growing, often in the most unexpected places. It's undoubtedly one of the most stretching seasons I've ever pressed through.  But most good things grow out of a little pressing.  Grateful for this year.  Ready for another. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

5th Anniversary Celebration

This weekend hubs and I celebrated five years of marriage! We decided to take a little road trip to a town a few hours away to see a 14th century fort we recently read about.  It was a pretty spectacular view of the countryside and our little hikers enjoyed it.

We planned to stay the night but in the end all of the nice decent hotels were booked for a doctors' conference.  So, we piled into the car and drove home.  All in all, it was an 8 hour day, with almost 6 of those in the car.  Whew.  Maybe not the most relaxing transit, but worth the view!

Here's to five fantastic years! 

Friday, October 5, 2012

bus disclaimer

Ok.  After I re-read my post yesterday, I realized I should probably give a few more details about Jude's overall pre-school experience.

1. He really does seem to love it.  Talks about "teacher" and his friends frequently.  Tells me that he has "great fun" at school.  Asks to go when it's Saturday, etc.  We really think he likes it!

2. The bus ride is for one mile.  That's right.  It's not very far.  In a pinch, I could walk it...but it's a bad road, full of potholes, cows, cars and every other imaginable obstruction.  They have assured me that as soon as he hits his classroom...he's fine. Thus, the crying is a max of 10 minutes.

3.  There are a few transport alternatives, but none that really seem feasible in the long run.  I could give you the list of excuses...hard to get a rickshaw at that time of day, David is frequently out of town and can't drive him, etc, etc.  We really do think he'll be ok.

4. He rides the bus home too. It's a tearless, happy ride on most days. Thus, it doesn't seem the bus itself.  Just perhaps getting onto a bus in the early hours, on the side of a crazy asian dirt road, crammed in with other kids.  Not ideal.  But let's face it folks, our life here isn't exactly ideal:)

5. Overall, preschool has been a great thing for him.  Friends. Play time.  Keep in mind, we're not in a position to jaunt over to the zoo or to a museum like we would be at home.  There's no Target to run over to when we need to get out. It's been a good decision for us.

We're just hoping it'll slow down on the drive-time-cry-time soon!

Those are all my disclaimers. I guess I am really writing this post so you won't secretly think I'm a bad mom.  I'll pretend it's so you know more about our world though:) 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

the school bus

Some of you may recall me writing a few months ago that Jude was having school bus troubles.  Let me give you an update on that drama.

We had a breakthrough a month or so ago when a friend suggested we give him m&ms every day when he boarded the bus.  It worked....for about a week.  

Then David went out of town, there was a festival break from class, etc, etc.  The routine was broken and the tears returned full force.

This is what he looks like every single day when we put him inside.  It's terrible. Terrible.

I just keep thinking it will get better.  Surely eventually he'll adjust.  Three months is a looooong adjustment.

I'm hoping this doesn't make it  into his childhood memoirs one day!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


1. Our neighbors are just wrapping up a 10 day festival to Ganesh, the elephant headed god of fortune and wisdom.  There have been elephants everywhere.  As usual with asian was loud and long! The festival ended with all the clay idols being immersed into area lakes.  

Next on our city calendar...a massive conference on biodiversity and environmental issues. 

Ironic, huh? 

2. This weekend, hubs and I celebrate 5 fabulous years of marriage! I can't believe it! 

3. HAve I ever mentioned to you how grateful I am that we have a car now? I am.  The primary reason: carseats. My ride time is so much more peaceful, I just can't put it into words. I admit that locals gazed into our windows in utter amazement. After a year in country, I've never seen one asian child riding in a car seat. I'm not sure they even know what they are!  

4. Jude's into pony tails these days. Don't worry.  This is an indoor activity only. 

5. I just so happened to reach Job in my yearly reading plan (the one that's taken me 2 years) at just the same time that Yancey's Where Is God When It Hurts arrived on my doorstep.  Deep waters to wade through, but it has been such a good journey for me. 

 6. Yesterday was a rainy day.  And we were sad because Grammar and Pop flew away.  So we went crazy and did all sorts of weird things to pass the time.....

Happy Wednesday to you! 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


If distance was our friend last week, today he changed sides. 

 We're giving thanks for a precious week together and trying to focus on all that was given rather than how difficult it is to say goodbye.  I've long held that it is perhaps easier to be the one on the plane than the one who remains with feet on the ground.  I'm feeling confirmed in that evaluation this week.  

Give thanks with us.  Pray for us as we move forward, far from home.