Sunday, March 29, 2009

An Especially Terrific Day

Sometimes in His amazing and ever-new grace, days happen that just go perfectly. Or at least, almost perfectly. Today was one of those kind of days. I am so thankful!

It began with an agreement between John and I; we stayed up late watching a movie last night because he wanted to, so I negotiated with him (teasingly) and said I would stay up if he would get up with Christin this morning! So when her internal alarm clock woke her up precisely at 7am, he got up, brought her into bed with us to snuggle a bit, then got up and gave her breakfast while I lounged in bed--the first time in a very long time!--had a relaxed quiet time, and then enjoyed a hot shower. . . by myself. That may not seem unusual to you, but many is the time where one of the girls or even my helper needs to knock on the door to ask me something when I'm just trying to take care of personal hygiene! So that was a lovely time.

Then there was hot coffee and this coffeecake http://http// for breakfast. (Sorry, I don't know how to hide the link's whole address!) Yum! I've been really enjoying the pioneer woman's website recently, especially her wonderful recipes and beautiful photography. I laughed at her description of how much her husband liked it, then I watched in amazement as John ate one piece, commented how delicious it was, then helped himself to seconds...and thirds! Good thing it made a whole 9x13 pan!

The next extremely happy news came in doing a little straightening after breakfast. I found Chloe's discarded pull-up on her bedroom floor, where she had tossed it after taking herself to the potty and putting on panties this morning. Much to my surprise and delight...IT WAS DRY! Hallelujah! A new era has been entered! The era of dryness and potty using and no more buying of expensive pull-ups!

The dry pull-ups meant that Chloe could finally open her gift that had been hiding in the closet, and there was a similar gift for Clara Anne too! We took lots of pictures and so I will wait to tell you what she got until I post the pictures. The girls then spent the entire rest of the morning, I kid you not, playing with these gifts. They sat at the table and played and I had some relaxing, lovely reading time this morning on the couch, enjoying being nearby and hearing their happy chatter.

Christin took an excellent nap, and when she woke up, slightly after noon, we packed everyone up and went riding, all of us, on bikes to McDonald's for lunch. This was our first time to go out riding as a family! It worked well: Clara Anne sat in the kid's seat on the back of my bike, Chloe sat in the seat on John's bike, and Christin was in the Ergo on John's back. They all liked being on the bikes!

We had a nice lunch and then decided to do a little exploring. The Yellow River is not too far north of here, John thought we could get there in about 15 more minutes of riding. We set out, with small exclamations and cries of amazement following us as all those around us saw two foreigners and three kids passing by! Those crazy foreigners! There were a lot of people out and about, and traffic was quite heavy, but we finally did make it to the Yellow River. There is a huge levee built up next to the river with a park on top of the levee. We biked up to the entrance, only to discover that Chloe (who had fallen asleep very soon into the ride) was only wearing one shoe. Argh. Realizing it could have fallen off anywhere along the long road we had just taken, we gave it up for lost and entered the park.

The park itself turned out to be sort of a non-event, though it was nice to be able to see a non-city vista--the broad sweep of the river, with its characteristic muddy color, the openness and naturalness of the setting was definitely nice. Now if only there wasn't so much smog! I think on a clear day, when things have gotten green, it will really be a nice ride out there.

Happily, some men who had been following us finally got our attention, not to take a picture or ask us 1,001 questions, but to give us Chloe's shoe! They had found it on the road that led into the park and went looking for us. What a blessing! Those were cute little boots that I had bought on consignment originally for Clara Anne and they still have lots of wear left in them. So glad he found them!

We finally made our way home again, after 1.5 straight hours of riding! Wow, I think I may be sore tomorrow! We were in a bit of a hurry because our friends had offered to babysit for us tonight so that we could go on a date. We had learned about a movie theatre in our town that shows movies in English on a regular basis, but we had never tried it out. So we planned to go see a movie and then eat some grilled beef (called "kao rou") together. It doesn't get much better than that for dates around here!

The movie theatre was quite nice (though very firm seats), and watching a movie in English made me forget where I was for awhile. We saw "Slumdog Millionaire" which had been recommended but also cautioned for some rather gritty scenes and some language. After the movie, though, both John and I remarked that we didn't remember ANY language, at all, and that there really weren't any gratuitous scenes of violence, etc. Then we remembered that the government of this country often censors things, and that was what happened with this movie. It's the first time I've been so pleased that some things are censored! I actually appreciated it in this context!

We walked from the theatre to the kao rou place, enjoying the night air and time alone together. So refreshing! After a yummy meal we came home to put our girls down and profusely thank our friends for providing us with such a nice time to be out, just the two of us. It does wonders, I tell you!

What a wonderful day! Thank you, Father, for showering us with so many blessings and fun things today. I feel refreshed and renewed, ready to start another week again tomorrow. This week has several special events going on that will make it more busy, so I'd better get a good night of rest in preparation. Good Night!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

I Couldn't Resist

Or, you could call this...the many faces of Christin, part 2. I couldn't resist posting these photos--also taken when "playing around" with the camera, also unedited (maybe one day I'll take the time to learn how to do that well!), but fun to share of my blue-eyed girl! Enjoy!

Here's my girl with her little tucked-lip look, a frequent one for her. I even have a picture of her as a newborn tucking in her lower lip like this! I guess that's better than pouting it out, but still, how funny!
The tucked lip turns into a mischievous glimmer of a smile...

And more, and more....

Aha! I knew there was a smile in there somewhere! Sweet baby girl! (Bonus: you can see her two bottom teeth as well as her top teeth that were just emerging!)
We love you, Christin Arielle!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Flashback--Pool Time!

The last day we were in Thailand, we spent some time at the pool on a lovely, sunny morning. We were almost the only ones there! I wanted to share these snapshots with you...we were still experimenting with our new camera at that point, and I haven't done any editing to them, but I thought it would still be fun to share these photos! Let the visions of sun on the water and warm temperatures help you float into the weekend...Christin loved the water and always tried to launch herself out of my arms and into the pool--I had to watch her really carefully! The other girls, however, knew exactly what to do at the pool... Clara Anne and Chloe take a break, while Christin looks on from the shaded comfort of her stroller.

Bathing beauties...
They loved playing with John in the water...that was, until John was diving down and jumping up out of the water to "scare" them, and came bursting out right under that bridge, solidly connecting his head with the unyielding nature of the stone. Yikes. We all took another rest at that point!
Happy times!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Many Faces of Christin

Despite my secret wishes, Christin has not stopped growing. She is quickly and boldly conquering new baby territory. Just look at these changes, most of them just in the past few weeks:

She is crawling fast, pulling up quick as a wink, and cruising along next to the furniture. She even likes to stand up in the bathtub! She has been steadily gnawing on her crib railing with her four sharp teeth, and this afternoon for the first time flipped herself out of the crib! Yikes! Fortunately she landed on a cushy pad on the floor but she wasn't too happy about it nonetheless. (Needless to say, we moved the crib to its lowest setting tonight before bed!) She's also had her first real spanking, *sigh*. Her appetite is monstrous! Tonight for supper she had one jar of pureed broccoli, one jar of applesauce, half of a cinnamon raisin bagel, broken into tiny bits, a container of yogurt, some banana-strawberry smoothie that the girls and I were enjoying and so she wanted some, a few small pieces of chicken, along with milk to drink. I'm not sure that I ate as much as she did for supper! She's crazy!

One thing hasn't changed, though; she is still as cute as a button! Here's a look at some of the many faces of Christin.There's my sweet happy girl! This next one reminds me slightly of a used-car salesman smile. C'mon, you know you want to buy it, right?!Oh, getting just a little shy and coy.

What? you want me to smile? No way! I've got better things to do.Well, ok, just for you mommy! I'll smile and grind my teeth together at the same time--I just love the noise that makes!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spring has Sprung*

Ahh, spring. Lovely spring! Buds are opening, pale colors are appearing and the first blush of blooms are beginning to show on the bushes and trees. We are so thankful to be living in our apartment complex where there is an abundance of greenery and flowers. Last year in the spring we were waiting for Christin to be born and weren't even in our city. When we finally moved, it was almost the end of June and spring was long gone. So this spring we are really enjoying the beautiful sights and colors!

Last weekend we took the family out to the lake that is in the center of our city. It was a lovely day and there were lots of folks out and about enjoying the spring weather. Here are a few photos of our day.

Sister fun!

Chloe made a friend.

The highlight for the girls was riding the carousel at the park around the lake. (It's actually a pretty chintzy carousel, but don't tell the girls, they think it's great!)

Fun times were had by all! Welcome Spring!

**I wrote this post after a lovely day out this past weekend. However, winter had a few last tricks to play on us...we woke up this morning to a cold rain that changed to snow mid-morning! SNOW! We never get snow! Thankfully it didn't stick around and the afternoon warmed up again; I hope now we're finally done with winter for good!


Strawberry season has been upon us for quite some time now. They usually come from the greenhouses in early December, but at that time are quite expensive. As time goes on, they continue to get less and less expensive, and so all winter I've been wanting to buy a lot of strawberries in bulk and preserve them for the coming year.

Yesterday was finally the day! My helper, Lou, found a strawberry vendor on the street who had just received this shipment of strawberries from the field at 4am. The price had dropped sufficiently--from 18 local dollars per pound when strawberries first arrived to 4 local dollars for our purchase yesterday! That is about $.55 per pound. Wow! We took advantage of this low price and bought twenty pounds. Twenty pounds! That's a lot of strawberries!

Lou spent pretty much the whole day working on the strawberries. First she washed them carefully and hulled them, then set them out to dry a bit. She measured out about 8 cups to use for jam-making (To my dismay, I only had one lonely box of Sure-Jell left in my cupboard!), and set aside any that were soft for making strawberry vinegar. Then, we saved some particularly fine looking strawberry specimens for eating, and the rest were packed very carefully in ziploc bags for freezing.

Here's some pictures of the sensational strawberries:
Strawberry vinegar is the main ingredient in my homemade strawberry vinaigrette. (A recipe acquired a long time ago from my friend Kris Sommer.) It's so simple to make! Simply fill a large glass jar with strawberries, then pour in white vinegar to cover. Put the lid on and leave sitting on your counter for 10 days. On the tenth day, drain the berries, reserving the liquid, and then mash the berries to extract all of the lovely strawberry flavor. Discard the pulp, measure the liquid, and for every 1 cup of vinegar add 2 cups of sugar. Bring to a gentle boil, continuing until all the sugar is dissolved. Let cool and then store in jars in the refrigerator. It keeps for years. This is wonderful drizzled over fresh fruit.
If you want to go one step further and make the vinaigrette, simply mix in a food processor or blender:
1/2 cup strawberry vinegar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 Tbsp chopped onion
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
The vinaigrette will keep in the frig several weeks. Measurements are to taste.
The jam also turned out beautifully, so much so that the girls asked for peanut butter and jam sandwiches last night for supper. I have so many memories of eating the homemade jam made by my Grandma Roelofs as I was growing up; she always seemed to have a limitless stash in her freezer and would share it around generously. Many was the time I stopped to visit my grandparents on the way to or from college and Grandma made a little care package for me to take back to school, always including the jam. As an adult I asked her once what was her secret recipe. She responded, "Why, the recipe on the back of the box, of course!" It must have been the love that made it taste so good!
We'll be enjoying strawberries for many months to come. I think I see some smoothies in our future!
Hope you enjoyed these pictures...they are a success story! I am ever so slowly getting acclimated to our new camera, and finally sucessfully downloaded pictures to my computer, installed a photo resizer program, resized them, and blogger accepted them! Now that I've done it once, I assume I can do it again, so be looking for some more picture-heavy posts in the near future.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Remembering Dan

Today, March 20, would have been my brother Dan's 39th birthday. Instead, the Father's plan was to take Dan home on this date in 2003. He met Jesus face to face on his 33rd birthday, and was immediately healed of the melanoma that he had been battling for some time. Today I am remembering Dan.

I talked with my parents earlier this week and we spoke for awhile about Dan. We still miss him. I still sometimes catch myself, at odd moments, longing to talk to Dan, be with him, discuss life and faith and the Lord with him. I have so many vivid memories of Dan--fun times we spent together, his love of laughter and teasing and being silly, as well as his depth of commitment to his Lord and his love for his family.

But you know what? I am glad for him. I am GLAD that he is with the Lord. He finished his race well! Despite dealing with cancer for many months, he never became angry or bitter. Through his cancer, he actually found more JOY in the Lord and trusting the Lord's plan for his life. He wrote a book about his journey, called "A Place Called Surrender" and shared how in surrendering his own hopes and dreams for his life, he found peace and joy that in Him that Dan had never known before. He was such an example for all of us around him!

I remember very clearly seeing Dan's body in the coffin at the funeral, and being struck immediately upon seeing his body lying there and having the distinct sense that Dan--his essence, his soul--no longer was there. The body there was just a shell. I also remember being so GLAD that the cancer was no longer tormenting him, giving him pain or absorbing his energy. The cancer was dead--dead--and Dan, Dan was still living! Praise the Lord!

Though it was hard to lose Dan, the loss of his life on earth was not as difficult, I believe, than other types of loss--a breaking of relationship or a family member who isn't walking with the Lord. Loss can happen in many ways. So though we "lost" Dan, we didn't really lose him. Praise the Lord for His precious promises that assure believers of the hope of heaven! In a very real sense, Dan is more alive today than he ever was on this earth!

So today, I'm remembering Dan, my brother, whom I loved.

Daniel James Roelofs
March 20, 1970-March 20, 2003.

**If you are interested in reading more of Dan's story, and excerpts from his journals and book, go to

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Progress? Can it be?

I am so very, very happy to report that we have finally made some progress on the potty training department with Chloe! Whew, that only took about a year! (I'm not kidding, the whole saga was started about a year ago and we really aren't finished yet . . . so don't hold your breath!)

The main progress lately has come in the form of the portable, plastic potty being put in Chloe's room at night. In the morning when she wakes up, 99% of the time she will get up and poop on the potty. If the potty is not there, she will wake up and poop in her pants. (Sorry if that is just too much information for you!) In the past, her motivation level to take herself to the bathroom early in the morning was pretty close to zero. The pull-up was just way too convenient! We tried everything we could think of to motivate her: discipline, denial of privileges, having her bottom washed off with cold water, no sweet treats, taking away her favorite Bear and blanket, and the ultimate knife in the heart--no dress wearing. Nothing was working. Morning after morning, I would enter the girls' room to discover that Chloe had done the deed in her pull-ups, again.

However, then we hit upon the idea of putting the potty in her room. She obviously knows where the potty is and how to get there (we live in a small apartment, for goodness' sake! It's a few yards away!), but since she wouldn't go there, we brought it to her. And I'm so happy to say that in the last month, she has not pooped in her pull-up even once! Wow! That's a record!

Now we're working on nighttime dryness. She occasionally will keep her pull-up dry for a nap, but has never gone the whole night. Months ago, already, we began limiting her drinking after supper and now in the past month I have been taking her to the potty when I go to bed--she sits down and goes without really waking up. This has helped but her pull-up is still always slightly wet in the morning. Soon, very soon, I hope we will be able to give her the special gift that is hiding in the closet; whenever she can go even one whole night with dry undies then she can have her gift! We'll see how soon that could happen!

I've heard other mothers say that children are different when it comes to potty training, but boy I could not have imagined how different! Clara Anne was a "holder" and once she got the concept, trained quite quickly and within a month or so was done. Finished. Daytime and nighttime. Chloe, on the other hand, has dragged out this process for the past twelve months with so many ups and downs that it would take too long to tell you about them all!

My only hope is that maybe, finally, this time, it's for good. I hope there won't be any regression! Thankfully, there isn't a new baby coming, we aren't moving, we aren't traveling for a long while, and so she can really get accomplished in this new big-girl habit and we won't have to think about it anymore. Because, as we all know, bathroom behavior is something that we all need to do, but no one wants to think about! Which makes me wonder why I wrote this post . . . well, too late now! Hope it was helpful to a mom or two of you. Good night!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ok, Maybe Not

Confession time: Maybe I really haven't lived here long enough. (In contradiction to a previous post about living here TOO long!) I give you as evidence, yesterday's experience:

It's a lovely Saturday, John is busy all day, and the girls and I need to get some exercise and fresh air. We get ready to go outside and as I dress Christin, I realize that I don't really have a winter coat for her. All winter she's been in the Ergo, layered under a (borrowed!) handy-dandy sheepskin pullover thingy that I wear around my neck. This is the first time that I want to take her out in the stroller. No problem! I improvise and arrange the sheepskin pullover over her and the stroller! It leaves a bit of her neck exposed so I cover that with a blanket.

Why all of this hyper-coverage? Well, in this country, taking your children outside is like subjecting yourself to everyone's free, and usually well intended but sometimes slightly annoying, advice. The word for grandmother is "nai nai" and usually there are about 5-7 nai nais hanging around outside, enjoying the fresh air and waiting to give advice to any young mother who happens to be out and about. At times in the past, particularly just after I had Clara Anne, the nai nais would accost me and tell me in no uncertain terms how I wasn't caring for my child properly and all the bad effects of such a lack of care. It used to really bother me; in fact I remember one particular time where two nai nais followed me into a store, not because they wanted to buy anything, but simply to follow me and give me the what-for. That day I returned home in tears. But, I'm beyond all that now, right? I have three kids now, I've lived here so long, I should be accustomed, right?? Riiiiiight.

Well, yesterday, we were having such fun at the playground. Clara Anne and Chloe were running around, making up their own games (which for some reason all involved blueberries--buying, selling, and eating), and having a great time. I was pushing Christin in the stroller as the girls ran from place to place. As time went on, though, the crowd gathered, and soon the nai nais present realized collectively that--gasp--my children only had on one layer of clothing! (Underneath their winter coats, that is!) Then they all approached to take a closer look at Christin. FOUR of them were crowded around the stroller, touching her face, feeling her hands, and scolding all the while.

"She's too cold! This is quite bad! The wind is cold today! Look, she's only wearing one layer of clothing! She's going to get a cold! She'll be sick! It's too cold out! . . . "

And on and on.

At first I tried to smile brightly, but then I started to feel guilty/paranoid. "It's true, the wind IS kind of chilly . . . maybe we'd better go . . . oh I wish they'd stop touching her! . . . ok, we're leaving NOW!"

So I fled. I called Clara Anne and Chloe and we just went home.

I'm sorry now, that I let a few (probably well-intentioned) comments ruin our playtime. I'm also sorry that I got my feelings hurt about it again. Honestly, though, four at once! I did have a number of retorts on my lips that I am now very glad that I didn't say. On the way home, I consoled myself by thinking that it really wouldn't have changed anything anyway, to try to answer them back. They have their ways of thinking, of received wisdom, and they are trying to help. I know that in my head, but when they are standing there and scolding and criticizing, it's hard not to take it personally! Next time I go out I'll have to remind myself to get "dressed" in a thicker skin!

There's always more to learn about living in a different culture!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Arrgh, Computers

The computer drama in our household seems to be never ending. I say "seems to be" because it is finally possible that there's some light at the end of the tunnel. I say "never ending" because we've been having computer difficulties since last October!

It all started with the purchase of a new laptop for John. Our old faithful Toshiba was getting a little quirky and we felt that it was only a matter of time. To preempt a horrific crash, we decided to purchase and pick up a new computer when John traveled out of the country. He brought it home . . .and immediately started having problems with it. It took almost a week to figure out how to get it to hook up to our wireless router. Then, the "blue screen of death" made frequent appearances, and John had troubles transferring files from the old to the new computer.

Finally, John was able to input our whole Outlook address book and begin using the computer for emails, and that lasted less than three days before the entire computer crashed. After many hours of work and searching (using Old Faithful as a backup), John finally figured out a way to retrieve the new information on the hard drive, despite the encryption we have on it, get the Dell people to give us a new hard drive, and then began the long and arduous work of completely reformatting and setting up the computer. Why "long and arduous"? Just because John didn't really know anything about setting up a computer, nor did he care about rebuilding it to exacting specifications . . .he just wanted a functioning computer! He was able to get most of the programs reinstalled but was still wary of it, and by this time it was late November and we were into the Christmas season with all of its busyness.

So, the new Dell pretty much got shelved for a bit. John was still using Old Faithful for emails, and so just kept on with it. Then, we felt that perhaps I should have a new computer too, so planned to buy one and pick it up when we were out of the country recently. That way, Old Faithful could be permanently retired and John could usually leave his computer at the office, and I would also be able to have a computer at home.

Finally, finally, finally after all this time, John had some time to sort and organize files on the old computer and try to transfer them to the new computer. Unfortunately he also ran into more difficulties due to several versions of Outlook existing on our old computer, but. . . it seems that MAYBE he is finally finished with that process! He had to go back through and manually delete thousands of emails that existed in triplicate (due to a crash and reinstallation back in 2005) before the program could be transferred.

John also got my new computer up and running and I even did a little personalizing last night--set the desktop photo, chose some photos for screen savers, etc. I'm enjoying not having to wait to use the computer! Nice!

Ok, so now my new project is to organize five years of photos that now were transferred to my new computer. They are somewhat organized by date of download, but not any more than that. Any suggestions, anyone? (Sandra, I'm calling your name!) Do I need to store my pictures online or just on my computer and external hard drive? Seriously, I would appreciate any advice any of you would like to give!

I feel a bit about computers like I used to feel about cars in the States: a necessary evil! They can take up lots of time if they're not working properly, but all you really want them for is to USE them--they are supposed to make life easier! I do hope and trust that all this work wasn't in vain and hopefully both of our new computers will prove themselves to be useful tools for a long, long time. Let's hope!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

You know you've been "here" too long when . . .

Here's a few cultural comments (all real, all happened within the last month!) for you to give you a laugh at the end of the weekend! Enjoy!

You know you've been "here" (in our country in Asia) too long when . . .

You serve chili and cornbread for supper and your children ask for chopsticks. "No, no, this is a western meal," you say with only a hint of irritation, thinking, "Don't they know the difference?"

You see a foreigner that you don't know on the street and you stare just like the rest of the Asians!

You are searching for something to eat for supper, find some leftover stir-fried lotus root, and think, "Bingo! That's what I want!"

You think nothing of crossing a busy street in the middle of the large block with a child on each hand and one strapped to your front. You wait patiently on the yellow line in the middle of the road while large buses zoom past on either side.

You find blueberries, FRESH blueberries, at a big supermarket and decide that $3 for a half pint is a pretty good deal, since previously you had only seen them in this city once and they were about $12 for a half pint!

Your children think that the sky is white. Ugh.

You find yourself discreetly (or not so discreetly) using your elbows and shoulders to edge your way forward in a mass of people that should be forming a line but instead are all trying to nudge their way forward as well.

You want to buy a cup of tea with milk and sugar, and it is served to you with big chunks of a gelatinous substance included. A large straw is provided for this purpose. You actually drink the tea, eat the gelatinous substance, and think, "Not half bad!"

You think nothing of walking half an hour to go out for breakfast at McDonald's, like we did this morning! Hey, the weather was nice!

You are not the least offended when someone greets you with, "Oh, you're fatter." "Yes, we had a very nice vacation. And how have you been recently?" you politely respond.

You find yourself losing English fluency. Sometimes you simply cannot think of the word you want in English and so you use the local language word, creating a strange hybrid of language that is discernable only to a select few.

You discover that your house helper, whom you thought did not speak very good English, has been picking it up over the past year and a half and now often understands what you are saying to your husband and children when you thought you were speaking privately! Oops!!!

You find yourself drinking hot water like all the locals. Yes, plain hot water. It's strangely comforting.

You are unfazed when some guests whom you've never met show up at your door almost an hour before the start time of an event. They didn't want to be late. You invite them in, give them some picture albums to look at and hot water to drink, then continue feeding your children, moving the furniture around, setting out the drinks and everything else that you have to do "before" your guests arrive.

You decide that your 10 month old shouldn't be wearing diapers anymore since it's bad for her skin and she's had some diaper rash lately, so decide to switch to the local "split pants" which are fashioned with the inseam unsewn in the crotch area and seen on every local child three and under . . . JUST KIDDING! However long we live here, I don't think that is a local habit I will be picking up!

That's all for me tonight! John is making supper (grilled cheese sandwiches) and I think we've got a game in the works for the evening. Good night!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

It's Time

Here I go, plunging into a topic I haven't ever really discussed on my blog: healthy weight management. (Do I hear some groans out there?) It won't be too bad, I promise! But I have made a few decisions lately which involve some changes to my lifestyle and hopefully will result in some changes to my body! I share them with you all for mutual encouragement and support.

Part of the reason I haven't really discussed this issue is that since March of 2004 until today, I have been either pregnant or nursing all except 10 weeks of that time! And, though it's important to manage your weight in a healthy way while pregnant or nursing, it's definitely not the time to try to lose those five extra pounds or restrict your eating. For me, I always had trouble in early pregnancy just keeping my body going, and actually lost weight at the beginning of all of my pregnancies, though later on I easily gained back what I had lost and then had healthy pregnancy gain.

Now, however, I am not pregnant, Christin has been weaned for 6 weeks, and so . . . it's time.

Healthy weight management is a tricky thing, however, especially when the culture shouts at us so loudly, (thin=beautiful) and the Word can be easy to ignore. Even now, when I feel that I would feel better if I made some healthier choices, and honestly I really would like to lose some baby weight, I sense in myself that I need to be very careful not to let weight loss become a pride issue. It could turn into pride on one hand, thinking "Look at me! I am healthy. I make good choices. I am fit! I can do this all on my own strength! You should be impressed with my self- control!!!" On the other hand, it could turn into an obsession with only the outer appearance, an improper focus on that without the inward focus on the Lord and His word.

I read a post recently on the girltalk blog where a few thoughts stuck out to me: The Bible NEVER tells us that we must be thin in order to be an obedient follower of J.sus. It doesn't say, "Be healthy, as I am healthy." It says, "Be holy, as I am holy." In fact, Paul explicitly tells us that when we believe in, there are now no restrictions on what we can eat. However, the Bible DOES put great focus on our inner person, on our relationship with the L, on becoming a woman of spiritual beauty who trusts in the L.

On the other hand (here's the tricky part), though G.d provides food for our body's use and for pleasure, we are not to be immoderate. We are not to let food become an idol, seeking the pleasure of eating instead of the pleasures found at His right hand, looking for food to comfort us rather than His Spirit to comfort us. I think we would all acknowledge that something is wrong if we more strongly anticipate a home-cooked meal more than we anticipate our daily time with our Father.

I am really just beginning my thinking on this subject, and there's a book by Elyse Fitzpatrick called "Love to Eat, Hate to Eat" that I think deals with a lot of these questions. If any of you have read it, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.

So with all of this in mind, and with a heart that longs to be submissive to the Father with all areas of my life, here are some of my new resolutions.

1. Get back to drinking 8 glasses of water a day. I have slipped out of this habit and it's a good one.

2. Exercise is going to be more of a priority. I have set a goal for four times a week. However, if there is a time where I must choose between exercise or time in the Word, my priority will always be time in the Word.

3. Be careful about portion sizes. Along that line, pay better attention to how much I'm actually eating and don't finish the girls' food.

4. Also, pay closer attention to my body's own hunger/fullness cues.

5. No eating between meals. I got into the habit of eating more snacks while pregnant and nursing (very important then!) but now I really don't need those snacks and I've found myself often eating just out of sheer habit. If I truly feel hungry for a snack, eat something that is healthy but tasty: nuts, dried fruit, pretzels, etc.

6. Only weigh myself once a week. Don't get focused on a number on a scale.

7. Don't get too crazy about it all! If I find myself thinking MORE about food, rather than less, there's a problem! The idea is to focus less on food, give it less importance in my life, but also receive what I am given thankfully, as a gift from the Lord.

So there you have it! I'd love to hear some comments from you other ladies and hear how you have thought about this issue in your own life. I also want to seek to be a good example for my girls in this area, so I'd welcome any input.

Monday, March 02, 2009

A Sweet Time

It's past time for me to update you all about the ladies that visited last week! Thank you all for your pr*yrs! Yes, they are already gone and so didn't stay as long as I expected; I thought perhaps they would be here a full week or even two, but they decided that three days was enough and so last Thursday was our final day together.

We had a wonderful time! There were two ladies, a young married woman expecting her first child and then an older woman who has a four year old daughter. They came eager to help me with housework, but I was a bit reluctant to let them spend much time doing cleaning when the real purpose for their visit was to talk through things as well as observe our family ways together and family life. But they were happiest if I gave them a simple job to do and we could talk at the same time.

The younger woman was very open to all that I had to say, particularly about helping a young infant to get on a good routine. I extolled the benefits of routine to her: helping to stabilize the baby's hunger and sleep patterns, helping to ensure that her milk supply was adequate, giving her a more predictable life so she could have time to take care of her husband and her home, etc. We had some good discussions. Occasionally the older woman would chime in with, "But that's not how we do it here!" On the whole, though, they were both quite receptive.

I was really touched, when, the second day, they came back with a list of questions that they had been talking through and wanted to ask me. These ranged from "How can I improve my relationship with my husband?" and "When do you start teaching your child about the Bi.ble?" to "How do I deal with my husband's father, who lives with us?" and "Do you have a schedule for cleaning your home?" It was really great to be able to talk through some of these things together!

My children did quite well during the three days of Mommy being very occupied. Although of course, they provided some examples for discipline as well! I will confess that the second day, after having spoken the local language for about five hours, my brain was absolutely mush and I felt so tired that I let the girls watch a movie as soon as the ladies left at 5pm. I try not to let there be too many movies, especially as a "babysitter" . . . but that was an occasion that called for it! I was wiped out!

I am thankful for my Treo which has an electronic dictionary on it--I used it so much during the three days of talking with them! I would get myself going and going and then get stuck at a point where I knew the word I wanted in English, but didn't know the local word. A quick moment typing in a few letters and then suddenly, understanding! It was wonderful.

So in the end, we had a really great time together. It was less awkward than I expected, having them around, and I was glad that we got as many opportunities to talk as we did. The ladies slipped out on Thursday before lunch and bought me a beautiful arrangement of roses and carnations, how thoughtful! We had another excellent conversation Thursday afternoon while my girls were sleeping and as they prepared to leave, we spent some time praying together. It was really a sweet time and I was touched that they both initiated giving me big hugs with tears as they left, since hugging is not so common in this culture.

At the beginning of our time together, I told John that I was expecting the L to do great things, because I didn't really know what the ladies were looking for or how exactly I was going to help them. And that's just what HE did! Apparently, they were blessed just by observing our family life, the way we do things, the way we talk with and train our children, and how we act in our homes. They were blessed, and I was thankful to be a part of it. PTL!