Saturday, November 28, 2015

gathering together

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

It's one of my favorite holidays. I keep looking at pictures from last year, when we had just arrived in the US.  This year was bound to be a little harder after that. It's just not that fun to be away from family during the holidays.  So the boys and I spent time talking about what we are thankful for, and what is all around us that reminds us of the mercies of God. That conversation could go on forever. This common grace we are under is breathtaking. On Thursday morning I took apple crumble to their classes and made a turkey craft, then I packed them off to school til our 5pm meal.  (One of the beauties of living abroad is…they don't know they aren't supposed to go!)

We celebrated with a few friends in the city. Our usual crew is a bit smaller than it has been with a lot of folks in and out lately.  So this year, I was in charge of the main cooking.  Desserts and potatoes supplied. Whew.  This is the first full holiday meal I've really done for a group and I have to admit….I had a lot of fun! I was tired afterwards. Really, really tired. But it was totally worth the work.  I felt so "grown up." I even had the oven timings posted on my fridge so I could roll it out smoothly.  (Remember I actually cook in an alternate microwave:) My aunts may or may not still treat my like I'm 12 and shoo me from my Mamaw's kitchen when we are together.  So my real-time cooking experience on holidays is a little limited.  They would have been proud though!

Definitely a success. At least to the adults.  Jude told me he'd just like a chapati, please.  So he had his little Third Culture Kid Thanksgiving meal, and I had mine.

And now…we're rolling out that Christmas decor and turning up the Tender Tennessee Christmas music in here. 

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The aftermath

Maybe, just maybe, it was a pretty intense weekend. The aftermath of last week's drama is still unfolding. And let's just say we're having a little culture stress. I knew things had gotten serious when I found hubs sitting in the kitchen alone, eating toast. I asked him if he was listening to a sermon and he responded, "it's Broadway music." The edge is near.  It was enough to send us packing to the mall for dinner tonight.

What better way to unwind?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Asher, 9 months

Indulge me today. Asher will be nine months old next week.  I cannot get enough of his sweetness.  He is such a happy baby.  He has 7 big chompers.  He crawls with gusto.  Pulling up is an old trick.  He has a knack for pinching his fingers in drawers because he loves to explore.  He hates baby food and isn't too keen on being fed. But he loves to make a mess eating finger foods with his own two hands. He still eats 1-2 times at night but falls right back asleep. He has an affection for drain covers, toilet bowls and last night, he pulled down the trash can and was eating week-old pomegranate seeds before I found him. He loves to wrestle with his brothers and gets all tickled when Daddy puts him in the "small package." (Wrestling lingo in our living room.) He is saying "Da-da" and likes to hear himself chatter, particularly at the dinner table.  We all adore his little smile.  He's living up to his name, "blessed, happy."

We love you, sweet Asher!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

back in the saddle

I was in an accident this morning.   It was more than that tap from the bus I had last week. There were mercies from my Father in a thousand details. Ask me for the full story one day over a cup of tea, and I'll tell you.  I feel sure it will be one of those days that's seared on my heart. Asher and I are fine, though a bit worse off for it.  The other guy was on a motorcycle. He will take some time to mend but he's ok.  Thankfully, he had a helmet on.  Most guys don't.

Let's just say, it was not my best morning.

David had driven out of town for a meeting. I called him from the hospital and he started back.  By the time he arrived though, we were already at home.

I stood outside the hospital and contemplated a few things.  I considered selling the car, right then and there, so I wouldn't have to drive ever again.  I thought about calling a taxi to come and get me.  Or waiting until David could come pick me up.  But the reality is, sooner or later, I need to get back in the car.

This is our life.

And when you live in a densely populated asian city with millions of people, you're going to bump into people on occasion.  Whether I'm behind the wheel or someone else is.  Accidents will happen. If you've ever seen a video of traffic here, I hope you'll hear me as more than a pessimist in that. It's the reality.

I had that old phrase ringing in my ears, the one about getting back on the horse again. I kept thinking about a story from my childhood.

When I was 8 or 9 my parents bought a horse for me. She was white with a sort of grey star on her nose, if memory serves, and we named her Blaze. She was pastured near my grandparents house and I would ride on the weekends.

The truth is, though, I've always been a little afraid of horses.  I still am, if I'm honest.  They are powerful, strong creatures.  I respect their strength and have never had a very intense desire to experiment with it.

One afternoon, I was riding Blaze around in the yard with my cousin.  She stepped in a hole and as she jumped back, it knocked us off balance.  My cousin and I tumbled off. In case you haven't picked up on this, I have a flare for the dramatic.  I recall a lot of tears.  I was sure my head was broken.

My dad is a farmer.  And a good horseman.  My favorite picture of him from his 20s is beside his famous horse, Red, who is buried deep in my grandparents' pasture.  They used to barrel race.

You can probably guess what happened next.

If you fall off a horse, you need to get back on. Up I went, right back on to ride again.  I am sure I was weeping, loudly.  I remember arguing with him intensely. But my dad stood his ground. Life takes perseverance and fear will always cripple you.  It's better to learn to push past it sooner rather than later.  I rode around grumbling for a while, probably holding my head for good effect. But the point was, I rode.

So today, I started up the car, and pulled back onto the road to drive home.

I drove off thinking of Blaze and my father.

And I have to admit, as a young mother, I took heart a bit. It's been twenty five years since I rode Blaze. My dad has long since forgotten that tumble.  But a small moment from my childhood gave me courage. Character is shaped in small moments.  Sometimes it takes the bigger moments to remind you of the form.  My Father was shaping my character today in a way I wouldn't have chosen.  And He is at work in the lives of my children, using me to shape theirs.

For now, I'm here. Back in the saddle again.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Reading Rainbow

When the boys are out of school, we have reading time in the morning. This is, in part, because I am officially addicted to my latest podcast love...Read Aloud Revival. (You should listen!) 

They are highly motivated by a 50c chocolate that also comes with a toy. It was pretty much the highlight of their vacation that they earned five Kinderjoy chocolates. I feel fairly certain my parents bribed me to read when I was young. I remember hard cash being exchanged. It worked. I love reading.

We've also been watching Reading Rainbow on Netflix. You know what's crazy? Twenty-five years later, the episodes are still familiar. Thanks, Lamar! 

Friday, November 13, 2015

on tomorrow

We are in a unique season.  There are some changes on our horizon that could be life altering.  My world in three months might be vastly different than my world today. This isn't just philosophical speculation for me these days.  It's reality.

But beyond that brief glimpse, the door closes.

I know very little more than that life most likely will be vastly different.

The curtains are drawn and I am standing in the same house, with the same children and the same routine.

Waiting has never been my favorite thing.  If you'll recall, I'm not exactly the type to wait until the baby is born to find out if it's a boy or girl.  I like to be in the know. I've been known to open presents early. Because I'd rather not wait.  Sometimes (this is a big confession), I read the last chapter of a book while I'm only mid-way.  I just can't handle the suspense.

This season is a season to wait though.  It's out of my hands.  The decisions aren't mine just yet. There's nothing to do but wait. I can't peek ahead to the next chapter. It's not been written for my eyes yet. And I have all the grace I need….for today.

My boys have been a particularly helpful analogy for me in this.

They are blissfully unaware that change is in the air.  They are doing exactly what children should be doing.  They're living in each day with the gifts and joys it brings.  Their troubles have nothing to do with tomorrow, only this present moment.  The only thing keeping Jude up at night is the adventures of Frog & Toad by his flashlight.

We've kept any talk of tomorrow out of their ears.

Not because they couldn't handle it, necessarily. But because they don't need to know.  From the eyes of a loving parent, it wouldn't be in their best interest. When there are details they need to know, we'll tell them.

And my Father keeps reminding me that He is a much wiser parent than me. When He draws the curtains on knowledge, it is for good purposes.  He is trustworthy and faithful.

When the time is right, He'll draw back the curtain for my eyes.  He is not bound by the time continuum.  He is already present in tomorrow.  He is already at work in the day I do not yet know.

Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Life, lately

The best way to tell what we've been up to is usually in the random photos on my phone. Here's a bit of life around these parts, lately:

1. Did you know it is significantly harder to make a batch of freezer spaghetti sauce when the kids are off school for a week? I suspected as much. Truth, confirmed. But isn't that beautiful?!

2. We went to the zoo with a friend this week. There was a baby rhino. I am not sure, in all my 35 years, that I've ever seen a baby rhino nursing for the crowd. It was wonderfully adorable. What a creature!

3. They opened a Burger King in our city. Wonder of wonders. It was our main outing this weekend. The burger options are chicken and mutton. I opted for nuggets. They set my mouth on FiRe. Apparently, Burger King is contextualizing. 

4. I forgot to show you the addition we made this year to the Reformation Day activities. Quill writing. I know. Over the top. They loved it. And the still don't remember Martin Luther's name. They only remember that I make hammers out of donuts. Let's face it, it's the desserts that make an impression. 

5. Just in case you're missing this cutie pie. He's a mess! He's everywhere and into everything. He is the happiest baby ever. Except when he is not, which is fortunately rare. 

That's life lately. 

Thanks for caring about the rhinos and feathers in our little world! 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Fancy dress

It was "fancy dress" day at school today. The boys looked adorable. 

En route, a huge, massive red bus hit the car while I was stopped at a light. I have daily encounters with these crazy buses that are not-so-affectionately referred to as bullies.  My fancy dress boys and baby felt a little jolt and chattered on. I erupted in outrage (an excellent response, no doubt) and jumped out of my car (yes, in the middle of the road) to throw up my hands and shout at the bus driver about the children he endangered. I then took pictures of him, my preferred means of road rage intimidation. I got back into my car and drove away, heart pounding, feeling like I could lift the full bus up and throw it. 

Jude, ever the reasonable little man, said "Mom!!! That was SO funny!!!l What were you doing??"

I started laughing and had to agree it was indeed funny, confessing that I really wasn't doing anything. 

Culture, culture. Why do I always let you get the better of me. I had a come-to-Jesus moment of turning away from anger and carried on. 

It did kind of put a damper on my fancy dress morning. Until I saw the teeny red dent in the car. I had to admit my reaction may have been a bit disproportionate. 

And now, fancy dress day will end in another week long vacation for the kids. Prepare yourselves for more crafting. 

Thankfully, David seems to be steadily improving and is back to work today at least for a bit. 

My favorite cultural phrase might need an inscription somewhere. 

Keep calm and curry on. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


It's official. Hubs has pneumonia. He had to come home early from a long planned meeting. Not really what any of us were expecting for this week. At this point though, we're just trying to avoid any sort of hospitalization. Sometimes I think it takes more discipline to rest, really rest, than almost anything else. 

He had a sick-buddy today in Silas. The kid just does not complain. He just gets really quiet.  By the time we realized he was even sick, his fever was at 103. He spent the day watching Cars 2 as much as he liked and drinking tang, pretty much his dream come true. 

Hopefully, the mend is on!