Friday, July 31, 2015

Fri Fun



It's a quicker mini-version of Settlers of Catan. New favorite? 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

a popsicle stick day


In true South Asian fashion, I got a message at 7:30am that school was cancelled in memory of a national leader who passed away last night.  One of the things I love about Asians is that they love to show honor, it precedes every other consideration.

I admit it threw my day into Plan B.

So we leaned into a few pinterest ideas for some help.  We're slightly obsessed with popsicle sticks these days.  Imagine our delight over this post listing 70 popsicle stick crafts.






It was a hit in our world! Happy crafting! 

Monday, July 27, 2015

living the dream


We arrived home at 2am this morning. And I can assure you, we're all feeling it this afternoon.  Overall, it was such a fantastic trip. We were encouraged and challenged…and the kids were lovin' some time with other "third culture" kids. We were in meetings most of the days from around 8:30-5 with a lunch break to get the kids some lunch and a little rest.  This is an annual conference for us, a highlight in our year.  We decided to stay an extra day this time to enjoy the hotel without a schedule.  We're glad we did.  And now, we're glad to be home.


Somewhere around 9pm, after careening…and I do mean careening…through Thailand at high speeds for 3 hours to get from the beach to the airport, I saw a girl wearing a t-shirt.  It said "Living The Dream."  I looked at hubs, who by that point had been thrown up on or near three times en route, lugged baggage for a family of five through the airport,  run the gamut of customs and immigration with all of us in tow, chased weary, wound up boys through the airport and listened to the sighs and angst of his totally "done" wife with sympathy.  We laughed hard.  Then we said, "This is it. We are living the dream." And we really meant it.  We're doing exactly what we hoped we'd be doing in this season. 


It is exciting and adventurous and meaningful…and let's be honest…sometimes it's just plain exhausting.  

You always imagine yourself in the snapshots.  I mean, we vacationed in Thailand, right?! We rocked the baby in a hammock under the palms.  We ate dinner in a cabana under the stars.  We lounged by the pool and played in the sand. 

But the reality is a lot messier.  

The baby had a fever that turned into a bad cough. Silas woke up in the middle of the night and we were a bit sleep deprived.  Someone didn't want the dinner under the stars, so there were tears in the cabana.  It's more wearisome and difficult and real.  It's not just the snapshot. 


I love the glimpses in a photo or a memory because they remind me of how amazing and beautiful these days really are.  I know that I will look back on these days as golden years. But sometimes I also feel the need to write to remind myself in years to come…and to those of you who catch the glimpses….that the reality of the dream takes work, energy, and determination.  

It is hard to live like this with all these little people. If someone had offered me a plane ticket to America last night instead of back to our country, I'd have been very tempted to take it.  Sometimes I wish I could find a quiet house in our hometown and stay there until I have grandchildren.  This is the dream we were always talking about though. Real life with real people in a real world.  And those yearnings for quiet, settled spaces where all is utterly right…they have more to do with the next world than with this one.  The hope of things to come. 

The simple, fleeting beauty reflected in these snapshots is like a promise of what's to come. 

And that is the dream I want these days to build in our hearts.  


If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.  - C.S. Lewis

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Hua Hin


Little Asher is on the mend after a short virus. He has been the sweetest sick baby ever but I can't say I'm not feeling really relieved he's back to himself again!   We rode into the city today for some excitement. (Actually, I heard they might have baby food for less than $5 per jar...) We ate at Burger King...which is in fact a nice place to eat in Thailand. Do you believe me? I hunted down the baby food and a few packages of M&Ms to take back with us. And splurged on a jar of cream cheese which I fully intend to finish by the time we board our plane! Then we high tailed it back to our beach hotel, with no small amount of drama in the taxi. Tomorrow we will resume our custom of eating a pizza poolside for dinner. One night out is all I think we can handle! 




Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Morning light


The heavens are telling the glory of God. 

Asher's 1st Swim




Ok. So maybe he didn't actually go down the slide on his first day in. But he did have a great turtle ride! 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Perks

We are at a conference in Thailand this week. Here's the view:


Definitely a perk to living on this side! 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Chompers

Little man got two teeth this week. And he hasn't even been especially fussy. He is such a laid back baby. Grateful. 


Check out those green beads around my neck...a teething necklace. A gift from a kind friend. Adorable and practical. 

I admit that Silas is actually the most intrigued by it. He's been trying all morning to get his teeth on it;) 

Here's to baby milestones! 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Hello. My name is....

Remember those ramshackle houses I mentioned driving past every morning when I take the boys to school? 

I got brave. Actually, I borrowed hubs's bravery and he went with me to ask their community leader if I could come have a little English club with their wee ones. They smiled big and said yes. So now, I am greeted by this when I drive up;)


The little man naps while hubs has a morning to catch up on reports and such. And I get to go sing Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes with these cuties. 


I'm not gonna lie. I feel out of my comfort zone on this one. But it's a good stretch. 

Bravery takes practice. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

a better story

There's a lot of action in my heart these days.  And it's been pretty humbling to walk through. A part of my journey here in South Asia…a big part…has been recognizing that I'm just not as good as I thought I was.  I'm not as unshakeable as I would like to believe. I'm not as strong as I pretend in my head.  I'm not as loving as the gospel I follow.

Watching this little baby grow, this baby I wouldn't trade for any other sweet one in the whole world, is undoing me a bit. Only time will tell. And only the Father knows.  But as our life here progresses and the overwhelming roll of this traveling style we live deepens, I'm beginning to think this might be my last baby.  Another year or two and my perspective could shift, but my hands are feeling pretty full.

I hesitate to write this because I know how it will sound.  It will sound as ungrateful and outrageous and completely postpartum as it is.  But I will write it, because I have found that honesty brings light to dark places.  So here it is.

I wish somehow, without giving up any single shred of one of my boys…my boys that I adore, I wish I had a daughter.

I wouldn't trade any of them in for a girl, not in exchange for a thousand perfect girls. But I want to write honestly that it feels like a loss to me to have no sweet, bow-adorned beauty poking around in my household.  As I watch the years pass, the hope of it fades. No sisters to grow kindred together like I did with my sister.  No tea parties and princess dresses. Just a lot of wrestling and tumbling. And mom-repressed talk about male body parts. I feel kind of outnumbered.

I am, in a sense, mourning what will not be in years to come. I hope my sons will marry.  I pray that they will.  And if they do, they should leave and cleave.  But girls don't always seem to leave and cleave with as much finality and breaking as men.  You know the old saying, right, "A son is a son until he marries, but daughter is daughter for life." Someone stop me.  No wedding to put together and brunches to attend. Just a rehearsal dinner to plan and a beige dress to buy.  No daughter to watch expand into a mother, in a way that changes the core.  Will I even get to be at the hospital when my grandchildren are born? I mean, if I don't have nice daughter-in-laws will anyone take care of me when I'm old? Agh.  Welcome to my mind.

As if a daughter is a license to all those things, right?

I've come to realize that at the heart of this for me there are two primary things at work.  One is a desire to control.  I want to write my own story. Or at least present a working outline to be filled in. But whether I have a house full of boys or girls or none….I don't get to write the story. If I'm honest, some of the most beautiful stories I know are filled with loss and heartache and barren places. Stories that lead to a deeper hope than a smiling family photograph.

I can't control these boys any more than I could control a houseful of girls. They will have their own stories to live. They have free wills and capable minds. I get to teach them and train them up.

And let them go.

I have around a 13 year window before anyone leaves for college.  And it might just take me that long to work through this.  

The second issue at work is my old friend, discontent. I've noticed him around before.

Contentment is never about circumstances.  It's about heart.

The road away from discontent is always lined with gratitude. I have a lot to be grateful for, if I am brave enough to joyfully receive it rather than try to control it.  Discontent sees what is not, content gratefully sees what is.

God is enough. His gifts are good, but they'll never fill me up. No baby will make me happy. No dreams fulfilled or unfulfilled will nourish at the root. Good gifts turn into dry, dusty wells when I go to them for water. The living water flows from One Source. His story is better. It is deeper and richer than any story I could write.

And the only way to live it is by faith.

Christ in me, the hope of glory. 

Guess Who?




Whoa. They look so much alike!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Together

Our new routine is heavy during the week. And light on the weekends.

We are loving it. 

Everyone's finding their fit in the Monday to Friday.  Such a different season than a year ago when we were juggling language classes, work, and a very sick, pregnant momma.  The boys are in school more and because there's not as much time for together during those week days, the weekends just feel so much lighter.  The boys are more content to hang around the house and just spend time together.  Hubs and I are more ready for a break from the city. Instead of frequenting the mall, as we did in days of old (and probably will next hot season:), we've been driving out more to hike and explore.  It's a good fit.  

On Saturday, I woke up with an infection.  I always think I want a day to stay in bed…until I have one:) But it lent to an extra relaxed weekend and some really good family time together.  

Here's the picture I snagged as the boys were reading together on Sunday afternoon.  I love it.  I think I will have this one in a frame when they are all grown and gone.  Somehow, when I see the image in still, gratitude for this season is deeper.  It reminds me so much of a few pictures I have from my own childhood, with all of us piled on my dad.  



And since I have recently considered that if I don't allow someone to take pictures of me and actually keep them, in years to come, we might forget that I was around at all.  So here I am…tousled hair, no-make-up and all. 


I hope your day today is full up with people to love.    

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Balance


The boys and I followed this guy part of the way to school today. I'm not sure if you can tell, but his load of water jugs is about as wide as my car. And he was weaving through the crazy streets with them...on a motorcycle.

It was better than a circus act

I hope he made it wherever he was headed and sold more water jugs than ever before. Add it to the list of things I admire about South Asians...transport can always be modified to fit the need of the moment. Where there's a will, there's a way.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Link Up



I've been intending to link up to this little article for almost a month now! For obvious reasons, I found it particularly helpful in this season. It's been a distracted-with-good-things kind of day in my world. So what better opportunity to link over to one of my favorite friend-writers, right? 

If you haven't read Lee's article entitled Motherhood vs. Your Quiet Time over at Missional Motherhood, link over today.

Here's a great quote to get you started:

I stopped looking at quiet times as another chore, or something else on a check-list. The God we cling to is God our Father, not God our taskmaster. And the Bible is not static—it’s alive and active, breathed out by God. He will feed us, even when life is loud and messy. He will hear our prayers even as they are offered over a sink full of dishes. He will chisel away at us while He cradles us in promises. Jesus paid a torturous price so we could have intimacy with the Father on the same level that He has it. As believers, we have the kind of access to God that invites us to come in our pajamas, in our Sunday best, or right in the middle of all the Cheerios on the floor.  
Be with God wherever you are, right in the middle of your real life—even if tiny hands are reaching for your Bible and tugging on the edges while you read. Experience Him as a daughter, not as an employee. Jesus isn’t one more thing you have to accomplish today. He’s already on every page of your story.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Red, White & Blue




The party's at my house tomorrow.  Twenty-five Americans…in an apartment.  Because sometimes, we just need to remember where we came from.  So I'm putting the decor out and making the BBQ chicken.  This wasn't on the menu, but it's so good I decided to add it.


My mother-in-law's Cookie Sheet Cake will melt in your mouth.  (Literally, I guess, with all that butter!) It's so worth it. I brought back a half size sheet pan to fit in my tiny oven just for this recipe. The measurements below are for a full size sheet pan. If you're looking for a good recipe, here it is!

Linda's Cookie Sheet Cake

Cake

Preparation:  Make buttermilk by adding milk (whole, 2% or skim) to 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice…….to equal one cup.   Set aside.   Set out 2 eggs.

Sift 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon soda, and ½ t. salt together in large bowl.
Add 2 cups sugar and stir together with electric mixer.   Set aside.

In saucepan, combine 2 sticks butter or oleo, 4 tablespoons cocoa, 1 cup water.  Bring to boil.
Pour over dry ingredients and stir together.  

Add ½ cup buttermilk, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla.   Stir together well with mixer.

Bake in cookie sheet pan with edge, greased…..350 degrees…..for 15 – 20 minutes.  Use the knife or toothpick test.   (15 minutes is usually sufficient.)

Icing

Melt 1 stick butter or oleo in saucepan.
Add 4 tablespoons cocoa and 6 tablespoons buttermilk.
Stir together and bring to boil.  

In large bowl, pour hot mixture over 1 box (16 oz.) Powdered sugar, 1 t vanilla, and 1 cup nuts (optional).   Beat well with electric mixer.
Spread on cake while cake is hot.   Icing should be consistency to spread easily over cake, but not run off.    Test to make sure icing is right consistency to do this.    May need to add a little more powdered sugar…..or another teaspoon or tablespoon of buttermilk.   


Enjoy!!!

Happy Independence Day! 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Rooftops


I think I could stand in this one spot for an entire day. There's just so much happening under these rooftops. Kids climbing up half-built buildings and moms cooking in their backyards. You can see glimpses of it if you watch long enough. 

The picture is so still and silent. The reality so much more. Souls. Moving back and forth.