Monday, September 29, 2008

A note to say . . .

John is leaving for a meeting today, and will be gone all week. He returns late next Saturday night and so we will miss him dearly while he's gone! I'll especially miss him when Christin needs to be fed at the same time as Chloe needs help in the bathroom at the same time as Clara Anne can't find her favorite doll at the same time that Lou wants to ask me what she needs to buy at the market at the same time as my phone is ringing. You get the idea! Seriously, though, we'll miss him and pray that he will return to us, safe and sound, next weekend.

The good news is that we are getting a new computer on this trip! The bad news is that John has to take our old computer with him so that a friend there can help him transfer the data from the old to the new. The good news is that when he returns, I'll have my own computer! (Our present one). The bad news is that I'll be without a computer this whole next week.

However, I'm sure I'll survive! I have several great books on my bedside table, waiting patiently for me, as well as some other projects to work on. And, without John here, I may want to just fall in bed at night at the same time as the girls anyway!

So have a great week everybody! You'll hear from me again early next week.

Monday, September 22, 2008

An Adventurous Outing

Last week there was a holiday in our country, so everyone had three days off. Our neighbors thought it would be fun to take us on an outing to the countryside, south of our city, to celebrate the holiday and spend some time together. They offered to arrange transportation and since we have been wanting to get to know them more, we gladly agreed.

Now, an outing in this country usually is an all-day affair where you as a foreigner are never quite sure what might happen to you. In past experiences, people that I know have been in various . . . ahem. . . interesting situations where they were served cicadas, had children that fell into a stream, got taken in a rattletrap vehicle deep into the countryside and eventually had to beg a ride home off a stranger, you know, things like that. I myself have been on some interesting "outings." But, for the sake of adventure (and relationships with our neighbors) we were glad to go. I had packed the bag for the day with tons of wipes and plenty of snacks in preparation for any eventualities.

The actual adventure started the night before, when Clara Anne got sick. She had had a cough with excess mucus that was bothering her, and that night (a Sunday) she kept waking up with this terrible deep cough that was causing her to gag on the yucky stuff and want to throw it up. We put her on the chaise lounger in our room to sleep and she was awake probably every 30-45 minutes, all night long until the early morning where she only woke up once an hour or so. I think I can safely say that in my mothering career, that night set the record for the most times I have ever been up in one single night. So by morning, I wasn't feeling rested, to say the least, but Clara Anne seemed better and like she still wanted to go on our special trip.

We got ready and our next big surprise came in the transportation. Our neighbors had intended to get one big car for us to use, but it fell through somehow and so suddenly we found ourselves being escorted in our neighbors' friends' car, with the friend (whom we had never met) driving, and just our family with him. So much for spending time with our neighbors! Oh well!

Clara Anne had several times of needing to cough and "throw up" on the way there, but nothing that I couldn't manage just with a tissue for her to spit into. Not ideal, but not terrible either. But then she started to moan, saying that she had to throw up again, and even as I prepared the tissues in my cupped hand, she lost her whole breakfast all over the seat, the open bag that I had so carefully packed, her clothes, the stuff in the bag, you name it! I think she just got some motion sickness and couldn't fight it. Argh! Not a fun start to the day!

We had to stop the car to clean up a bit, and after using about 20 wipes and as many tissues we were ready to go again. Thankfully, we were almost there. Our neighbors took us to a park, of sorts, set in the mountains south of our city, that was "dedicated" to several minority groups that live in this country. For example, entering a particular area would show you a certain minority group with their handicrafts laid out, some people from that group wearing their traditional dress, and then the people would put on a small show for us. The concept was a bit odd--like a minority group people zoo or something. But we went along with it . . .

Here's a few pictures from the day. In this one my neighbor is filling me in on all the history of what I'm seeing. (Like our matching hats? They were a gift from the driver-friend!) Christin found it all just mildly interesting and decided to take a nap instead.

This picture is of the Wa minority group. They did some pretty vigorous dancing that involved a lot of tossing of their long hair.
This man, from the Miao people group, climbed this pole whose steps were made of swords. He performed some acrobatic stunts along the way.

These men were from a neighboring province and danced in their traditional costumes while beating on the drums at their waists.

We got a beautiful blue-sky day for our outing. Wow, I sure appreciate blue sky much more now than I ever did in the States!

A family picture near the entrance to the park.

Lou with Chloe. All the grandmothers in the crowd kept giving Chloe snacks, which she happily kept eating!

My neighbor, her son, Clara Anne and I (and Christin) enjoying the time together.

We then went to eat lunch at a true "Family Style" restaurant. This place was set way out in the countryside, with a small cement platform literally next to a small lake. People were fishing and then having the fish cooked by the restaurant for their lunches. All of the vegetables and meat served were raised by that family. The food tasted so amazingly fresh--different even from the vegetables that we get fresh daily in the city. We sat on small foldable stools next to low tables and enjoyed a delicious lunch.

Clara Anne and my neighbor. After lunch we headed back home again (I was surprised! Usually an "outing" lasts much longer!) and so we all arrived home about 3:30pm. It was a nice day and I am glad that we had the opportunity. The beautiful scenery was a real highlight!

Around the House

Tonight for your viewing pleasure, here are some recent pictures of domestic tranquility . . . of course, who ever is taking pictures when there isn't tranquility? I usually don't get out the camera when my children are fighting over who gets the plastic lemon!

Anyway, enjoy!
Ready for bed . . . Clara Anne with her new princess jammies on, Chloe with the farmer look (shirt pulled up over her belly), and both of them with clean teeth and bright smiles!
The girls' favorite snack lately has been frozen grapes. The small seedless green grapes are in season now, just ending actually, and we have bought lots and frozen them to eat as a healthy snack. They are tasty! Here they're eating their grapes while Christin settles for eating her fingers.
Clara Anne and Chloe really do a good job of entertaining Christin. Fun times hanging out on the couch! Chloe gives me her cheesy smile wearing her "dancing" dress--whenever we play music in the house (pretty much every day) the girls want to put on their dresses and dance around. Usually no one is injured in the process!

Here's my helper, Lou, doing some work in the kitchen. It is the perfect size for one person! Everything is easily accessible. I love having real countertops and the luxury of the hot water in my tap has not worn off yet! (Yes, Lou is wearing my old Starbucks apron. It's gotten a lot of use!)

September 12 was a big day for Christin--she started eating some rice cereal! I had noticed that she seemed to be hungry still after feedings; instead of looking up at me and smiling she started squawking at me after she was done nursing. So I began her on rice cereal and now she is happily eating three servings a day. She prefers it mixed with mama's milk but can be convinced to eat it mixed with water. She's really improved in her sitting skills with all the practice time in the high chair! I love her little toes held straight out in this photo.

And, if the rice cereal doesn't fill you up, just try gnawing on a plastic bib for awhile! So satisfying!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


"Dear God, thank you for my breakfast. Thank you for won’t help me be afraid of the dark. Thank you for not letting me get any more bites. Thank you for all the mermaids in the world. Thank you for Disneyland. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

[Some of you who got our mailing recently already saw this, but I thought it was worth sharing here as well! We've been trying to encourage Clara Anne to pray at meals, and so it was with delight that we gave her permission to pray when she asked the other day at lunch, not breakfast as she says. Though the grammar is confused, she is trying to tell God that she is thankful that she isn't afraid of the dark. The bites refers to mosquito bites; she is terribly allergic and one bite will often last for weeks and weeks. Her special affinity for mermaids is because of Christin's middle name, Arielle, which of course is similar to Ariel the princess mermaid in "The Little Mermaid." And she is still talking about the fun we had at Disneyland! I think it's even more fun in retrospect than it was that day!]

Way to go, Clara Anne! Jesus is so happy to hear your prayers!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Princess Girl!

It's no secret . . . Clara Anne loves to play princess. Here's proof! [These pictures were taken in the master bathroom, in case you were wondering--that's a shower curtain behind her!] Of course, she would say to me that she isn't playing, she really IS a princess! I love the shy looks and smiles in these pictures. Enjoy!

Monday, September 15, 2008

A week away, and for my good

Last week our family and the other "friends" we have in town here committed to spending a week fasting from any forms of media input other than the good Book--no movies, other books, internet surfing, or things like that. We wanted to have some more focused time in the Word and chose the Psalms as a great place to start. I wondered how the week would go, and was not just pleasantly surprised but amazingly blessed.

I don't consider myself to have a lot of free time for reading or other media since I have three small ones, three and under, but in fact last week I realized how much time I do have. A few minutes here, a few there, a half hour here checking my google reader, an evening there watching a movie . . . I actually have more time than I think. It was truly refreshing to focus my thoughts during those times on reading the psalms during those random times. I just kept my Book nearby, wherever I was in the house, and had my place marked, and picked it up as often as I could. I spent some good time in the 90s and 100s, very encouraged and struck again and again by the richness of the Word.

Of course, this "bits-and-pieces" reading is no substitute for sitting down and having a more focused, lengthy time to read and meditate, but when I think about the cumulative effect of the whole week, it was really a beneficial exercise. It focused my time, allowing me to "make the most of the opportunities" and encouraged the good words to linger in my mind because of the frequent intake. Since John was also participating, we had some great family times as well with our "extra" time. Instead of "getting caught" in the online net in the evening, we spent time reading the psalms or singing around the piano or playing games. Freedom from the internet can be a wonderful thing!

So, I had a week away, not from home, but from the media. I highly recommend it! It is especially wonderful to undertake a new venture like this with Father and see His faithful answers. Let me know if you decide to try it, and how it goes! Blessings!

She's got questions . . .

Lately Chloe has been our question asker. Just like the slogan, "You've got questions, we've got answers," (is that Best Buy? Or Home Depot? I couldn't remember! You can tell I haven't seen commercials for about a year!) Chloe's been full of natural curiosity. Now that her speaking skills are finally improving, she can communicate to us her desire to know! Here's a sampling of her favorite questions of late:

"Mama, where's Daddy?" [spoken apparently for the sheer joy of using words since she can see Daddy in the same room]

"Where's Clara?" [see above]

"Where's Christin?" [and again, see above]

"Where's Ayi?" [meaning "auntie," our house helper Lou]

And then there's last week's favorite variation on this question: "Where's Peter?" [Peter is a friend and playmate and for some reason has become Chloe's favorite. After our trip away where we stayed in the same apartment as Peter and his family, Chloe latched on to Peter as her dear, dear friend . . . apparently. I'm not sure if he's aware of this!]

Another favorite question is the "What's this, Mommy?" question. She is acquiring new vocabulary so fast and trying her hand at many new words, both in English and in the local language. It usually follows a particular pattern.

For example, while watching me put a load of laundry in my dryer: "What's this Mommy?" "It's a button to turn the dryer off and on, Chloe." "Oh, button."

"What's this, Mommy?" "Those buttons let me choose how hot the dryer should be." "Oh, hot."

"What's this, Mommy?" "It's a diagram to tell me how to treat the clothes." "Oh, diagram."

The "Why" question has also been a favorite in recent days. Clara Anne has never really been a "why" question asker, she seems content with the explanations we give and doesn't ask for the reasoning behind it. However, Chloe has already discovered the joy of "why" and so, when asked appropriately, is giving me some challenges trying to explain things! Like I said, she wants to know!

It's been fun to see her really expanding her ability to speak, except, of course, for when she wants to use her new-found ability for wrong purposes! Tonight as I was trying to get her in bed, she insisted that she wanted to "Read books, Mommy! Books! My books!" I told her no, that it was nighttime and she needed to go to sleep, plus that it was so dark in her room that she couldn't see the books anyway. She said, "Open the curtains, Mommy?" Little stinker! No indeed, I am not going to open the curtains, and there will be no books in bed. Sorry Chloe!

Good try, though! As far as Chloe is concerned, it is always worth asking!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Bicycle Adventures!

During our recent trip away, we spent a morning at a beautiful, huge park in the city we were visiting. There were these six-seater bikes available for rent, and since we had among us six adults and 8 children, we filled up two of them! We tooled around the park, enjoying the sun, breeze, and scenery. The kids liked it too! Our family took advantage of the opportunity to take a family picture in front of some lovely fountains. It was a fun time! (and I was only slightly sore the next day!) In other bicycle news, John has had a brief hiatus from his bike due to repair issues. He discovered one day last week that the back tire was completely flat, and in addition to a malfunctioning chain and a broken basket, his bike has been given a rest, for now. Usually he is zooming around the city at breakneck speeds on his extra-tall bike, towering over the rest of the population and ringing his bell like mad. He definitely stands out! Hopefully he can get to a repair shop soon and take care of the problems. Then the errand-running will become easier again!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Pretty as a Picture

Here they are! The long-awaited photos that we had taken before going to Hong Kong, almost 6 weeks ago now. Christin was such a doll for the pictures! Chloe, on the other hand, wasn't having her best morning ever, but Clara Anne did pretty well. All you moms out there already know this, but it's hard to get three children, 3 and under, to all look the same direction, smile, and not do anything weird with their hands or bodies! Anyway, we tried! Enjoy the photos!

Clara Anne was so excited that she got to wear her favorite dres ever for this photo. She has worn this dress almost every day the whole summer. I'm not kidding. The days that it is in the wash she wears something else, and we didn't take it to HK, but other than that, it's been a common sight at our house! I let her wear it for the photos so we could remember it for posterity!

This one is my favorite, I think.

The group shot--I went with red, white and blue for the girls' clothing and loved this big red chair that they had in the studio. I have learned to be VERY vocal about what I want and don't want in the picture! Doesn't Clara Anne look like a big girl?!

There's my girls! Clara Anne, 3.5, Chloe, 2, and Christin, 3 months old. What a gift they are!