Saturday, December 27, 2008


One of our favorite movies is "Fiddler on the Roof". We love the music, the dancing, and especially the opening number where everyone is singing about the Traditions of their village while doing things like chopping meat and kneading bread in time to the music. And in our family, we love the idea of traditions as well. Traditions can be the yarn that knit our families together in special ways. One of my favorite books on this subject is Noel Piper's "Treasuring God in our Traditions." She has some great thoughts there about the why of traditions, and learning how to focus our traditions around our Lord.

One tradition John and I started early in our relationship was to go to a bed and breakfast for our anniversary. We had spent our honeymoon at a B&B, so it seemed like a natural extension. I will never forget our first anniversary, when we were poor and I was still in school, and John surprised me by driving me to northern Minnesota and taking me to one night at a bed and breakfast when I had no hope that our budget could support such a thing. Since then, we tried to get away each year, at least for a night. On our 7th wedding anniversary, we also had no hope of continuing the tradition since that was the day that we moved overseas! However, United Airlines had other plans and since we missed our flight due to mechanical difficulties, they put us up in a hotel in Los Angeles so we got to celebrate our anniversary there!

Here in Asia, it's been a bit challenging to continue the tradition since at first there wasn't anyone to leave the kids with, and also there aren't any bed and breakfasts here, but this year is different! Our friends are going to watch the girls--all three girls!--so that we can get away to a nearby city for the night and have some time to ourselves. I think after our busy Christmas season we will really appreciate the time to be quiet and rest and just enjoy the time together without three little munchkins around!

So tonight I'm packing two little backpacks for the girls to take to their friends' house; the girls are so excited because the backpacks have Minnie Mouse on them and were Christmas gifts. The fact that Mommy and Daddy are going away is tempered by being able to use the new Minnie backpacks! Amazing the things that cheer up our children!

And, amazing the things that cheer up mommy and daddy too! We are looking forward to our trip! Stay tuned . . . when we get back I have Christmas photos and Clara Anne's birthday photos to share with you!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Merry Christmas, everyone!

Christmas Eve is here and with it our family's celebration of Christmas, since tomorrow (the 25th) is Clara Anne's birthday and reserved for her. My table is set, the meal is almost ready, and my children are taking an unusually long nap, which is allowing me to send these Christmas greetings to you all.

We have had a whirlwind of a few weeks preparing for Christmas, enjoying sharing the news of Emmanuel with new friends, neighbors, even Clara Anne's kindergarten class. I have baked more than 600 cookies (I'm not kidding, but I have a cookie press that makes 80+ per batch so they add up quickly!), we have hosted numerous people in our home--in short, it has been a busy time, but a Blessed time. I am eager to enjoy our family celebration tonight as well as a day celebrating Clara Anne's life tomorrow.

So in lieu of more words, let me wish you all a Merry Christmas! I pray that you will know the joy of Emmanuel this season: God has come to dwell with us! And may we all continue to prepare our hearts for his second advent, which we look forward to with certainty: Amen, Come Lord Jesus!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Who is that Blonde Mama?

Recently a friend reminded me that it has been forever since there were any pictures of yours truly on the blog! That's because I am usually taking the pictures! So today I thought I'd post a couple of pictures that were taken recently. Here's Mama and Baby, self-shot: Self Shot, trying again:

Thought we'd try for a group shot--yep, typical! Christin thinks the flash is too bright, Clara Anne and Chloe are smiling at something off to the side, and I have a double chin! Ha ha! To be preserved for all time!One last pic with Mama and baby, done by Daddy this time. Happy Days!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I've Got a Hankerin' . . .

For some of that yummy crib rail! Christin has been chewing on anything and everything lately as she has experienced the breakthrough of her first two teeth! Yes, it's true, she's got two teeth already! The first one popped through on December 2nd, and then about two weeks later, on the 15th, we saw the second one emerge.
It won't be long before she's pulling up on the crib rail, too!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cultural Adaptations, part 2

I've been mulling over some issues relating to cultural adaptation lately that are of concern not to me individually, but to my children. In case you thought you missed the "Part 1" of the title--it's not something I wrote but rather something I experienced personally. John and I have been through almost five years of acclimating to this culture and now very rarely have "bad culture" days where the cultural differences bother or frustrate us. But, now we are in the stage of watching (and helping, and encouraging) our children as they adapt to culture, (hence, part 2, the 2nd generation).

In a way, some of these adjustments in our kids took me by surprise. Our kids are growing up here, right? They should be used to the culture, right? They've never known anything else, right?

Those statements, of course, are true. But we are seeing our kids go through some acculturation processes as they get older and able to understand more. Some things about this culture they absolutely take in stride--the noisy streets, the pollution, the vendors everywhere, the fact that everyone else speaks a different language. Other things, well, it's taking a little time.

One particular area of concern is usage of the local language. Actually, it's still an area of concern for all of us! We still feel we have some distance to go in growing toward fluency. But I guess I wasn't prepared to see my children struggle with it as well. I thought it would be easy for them to just "pick up" especially since we give them plenty of opportunities to be exposed to the language, especially for Clara Anne who is attending kindergarten three to four mornings a week.

This issue hit home with me last weekend. Clara Anne has a special little friend at kindergarten whom she had been asking to have over to play. So I called her mom and we agreed to a playdate on Saturday. They came to our home and I had several special activities planned, including reading the true story of Christmas, decorating Christmas cookies, and coloring with special Color Wonder markers from America (thanks again Cornerstone!). The girls really had a fun time together, and played together happily. Later, though, as John and I reflected on the morning, I realized with somewhat of a sinking heart that this little girl had done all the initiating in the play time--ALL. Clara Anne hardly said a word. John expressed it best: "Clara Anne just doesn't know how to play yet in the local language." She doesn't know how to say things like, "let's go play with dolls! Look at my doll! Her name is Mary . . . " or any of the thousand things that she would say to her friend Emma who speaks English when Emma comes over to play. Or, if she knows how to say them, she is too shy to try it out in the local language.

I've been trying to work with Clara Anne a little more intentionally but I get the feeling that I am trying a little too hard. The more I try to help her speak, the more she resists me (at least lately, I'm sure it will change). John assures me that when Clara Anne has listened and absorbed enough, she will start speaking when she feels confident. I am praying that that day will come soon! Clara Anne can have a tendency toward shyness anyway so adding the language barrier in makes it all that more difficult to be friendly.

So there's something that we are praying about. Our Father is in control and I know that we can trust His hand and depend on His wisdom as we try to help our girls adjust to the culture around them.

**Update**Last night as I was getting the girls ready for bed, I was singing "Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes" in the local language, and I forgot for a moment the order of the body parts listed in the middle section. As I was pausing to think what came next, Clara Anne filled it in for me! So there's some small progress! Perhaps there's more local language floating around in her brain than I realize!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Picture of the Day

Who can resist this smile? Clara Anne, with cheeks flushed from the cold, giving a "happy to be home from kindergarten" look!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I Can Stand (with help!)

Is she really growing this fast?!

Like Mother, Like Daughter

When I was a young girl, reading was an absolute favorite activity of mine. Play-acting, roller skating, music, and dolls all ranked up there with my regular trips to the library! In fact in our family lore I became notorious for checking out so many books that my brothers teased me, "you have to take a U-haul to the library!" But I didn't mind; many happy hours were spent reading to my stuffed animals, curled up in a corner reading a book myself, or snatching a few moments to read at my school desk after my seat work was done. It was with delight, then that I happened upon this scene recently:

I was busy doing something else and Chloe had set herself up with a bunch of books on our bed and was reading to her bear. (This is the favorite bear mentioned previously). Bear is listening intently, as you can see. Smiles when she realized her picture was being taken!

There are some classics there on the bed, gifts from some sweet friends in the States who gathered together lots of ladies to host an international book shower for us! What fun! Thanks so much, Dianna and groups! We are already reaping the benefits and look forward to many hours together of fun and educational reading. Even Bear appreciates the simple joys of the Big Green Pocketbook!