Sunday, June 28, 2009
Monday: Traveled to a nearby city to visit a friend. Had such a nice time that we stayed too late and missed our bus home. Thankfully the city was truly nearby and so we took a taxi all the way home! The girls passed out cold in the car on the way.
Tuesday: Did 6 loads of laundry. Had a friend over for lunch who had been living in central Asia the past year. Such a great conversation! Spent the afternoon shopping for an oven for a newly-arriving friend. Finally found one in a warehouse way on the other end of town, possibly the last oven in this city of 6 million! Took John's office manager out to eat Korean food for supper since she has put in lots of extra time lately.
Wednesday: Concocted a plan to have a big party for Chloe's birthday, all because we had a bunch of punches left on our card at our local swimming pool that were about to expire. Spent the day calling and inviting friends. 10 xiao pengyous (little friends) coming! Air conditioner broken, with temps over 100. Slept badly.
Thursday: Air conditioner drama. Everybody cranky and hot. We're a bunch of wimps! Temps hit 104! A leak in the bathroom meant we turned the water off. Had a good night of fellowship with girlfriends at a foot massage place. Stayed up talking late with John. Short night again.
Friday: More party plans. More air conditioner drama. More calls about fixing the pipe in the bathroom. Chloe's birthday! More coming on this in another post! Evening was spent helping some friends who had a medical emergency. At the hospital until 1 am, thankfully everything turned out well. Another short night.
Saturday: Air conditioner repairman arrived at 6:30 am! Hallelujah! Flying around getting ready for John's end-of-semester programs, the students' graduation. Went well, but no AC so it was HOT! Then, decorating cake! Getting ready for the party! Taking a two hour nap since I was not thinking straight! (9 hours of sleep in two days tends to do that to me!)
Today: FUN times with all the friends! We went swimming, then came back to our house for homemade pizza and birthday cake. It was great! Made some new friends! Visited our friend in the hospital this afternoon and now we're relaxing this evening. Whew, what a week!
This post was probably boring to everybody except my parents, so forgive me for the lack of thematic structure or excellent writing skills! I have hundreds of pictures, literally, from these past few days, so I will be working on getting them downloaded, edited, and posted. Chloe really had such a fun birthday celebration--stay tuned for pictures!
Monday, June 22, 2009
Time & Place: a week ago on Saturday, when I took all of the girls with me to buy vegetables in our alley.
The girls and I had finished shopping and were slowly, very very slowly, headed home. Suddenly a nai nai (neighborhood grandmother) accosted me:
She: "Oh, you went by yourself to buy vegetables! Are those potatoes? Are they fresh?"
Me: "Yes, I bought potatoes. They seemed very fresh."
She: (imperiously) "How much did you pay for those potatoes?"
Me: (with some surprise) "One local dollar per pound." (about 16 cents).
She: (with great indignation) "They cheated you! Look how small those potatoes are!"
Me: "Umm....no problem!"
She: (even more indignant) "No one pays this much for potatoes! They should only have been 70 local cents per pound, or 80 cents per pound at the most! They knew you were a foreigner and cheated you!"
Me: "It's ok. I don't mind. This is still a good price." (thinking, good grief! In the US I could never buy beautiful new baby potatoes for this cheap!)
She: (with incredulous anger that I am not upset) "You should take them back! Look, these are small, bad potatoes. They just wanted to cheat the foreigner!"
Me: (somewhat hurridly) "Ok. No problem. I will ask them to make it cheaper next time. I must get my children home now. Good-bye!"
HA! I know she had good motives, but my goodness! Not even my husband questions my purchases like that! I guess when it comes to neighbors, you take the good, you take the bad . . . and you never know what you might run into in the alley! At least she didn't start telling me how it was too hot to take the kids outside, etc, etc. Our conversation was limited solely to produce, let us all be thankful for that!
P.S. The potatoes were, as I suspected, absolutely delicious. They were beautiful new potatoes, small, with very thin skin that I didn't need to peel, simply scrubbed well before quartering and boiling for a potato salad. I'm still loving the summer produce!
Sunday, June 21, 2009
But it wasn't as easy as we thought. First, as we shared this with a national friend (not a neighbor) during our first year, his immediate response was, "What?! You don't want to get to know your neighbors! They live close to you! They know all of your personal business! They hear your family fights and when you yell at your kids and things like that! It would be embarassing to become friends with them!"
Hmmm. Unfortunately, we discovered that his reaction was shared by lots of people. We made a few efforts, (Christmas parties and such) but at our old apartment complex, mostly filled with retired people, it was pretty tough going. So, we made friends in other places and didn't worry about it too much. We were always friendly, but didn't work too hard to pursue relationships within our small apartment complex.
Things changed when we moved, exactly one year ago today, to our new apartment. This apartment complex has lots and lots of young families, and we were eager to take the girls out to play and make friends. And we have been able to meet several families, but there's almost been the opposite problem--there are so MANY families here that we see different people every time we go out. Add in a new baby and an extremely busy schedule for John in the past year, and we haven't made as many new friends in the neighborhood as we probably could have.
[By the way, just for some context: more people live in our "neighborhood" than live in the town I grew up in! My hometown is about 2800 people, and more than 3000 people live in this apartment complex. That's crazy for an Iowa girl like me!]
However, Father has been at work. I won't go into details, but we have been extremely encouraged by events in the lives of our neighbor who lives directly across the hall, and the neighbor who lives directly above us. The above neighbor and her young daughter came over for lunch this past week and we had a wonderful time. She began to share some difficult events from her life and actually sat and cried on my couch while the girls played together after lunch. I was so amazed--this is unheard of in this culture, especially on a first visit!
We are also seeing how John's business is opening up relationships in the community. On Wednesday evening we were outside, ostensibly to play badminton, but instead got stopped to talk several times--once by a mom who knew me from Clara Anne's previous kindergarten, once by a couple whom we've met several times and are moving here this weekend, and also by a mom who was very interested in having her son study English at John's school. It was actually really exciting to go out after supper to relax for a bit and get to talk to so many friends!
So, moral of the story: Father is so faithful. A desire that He put on our hearts years ago is finally happening! I look forward to the summer (schools here are just getting out in the next week or two) when some of my neighbors will have more time to get together. Great possibilities ahead!
Saturday, June 20, 2009
I snapped this photo and warned Mark, "Hey, that's going on my screensaver!" That grin looks like he's about to eat the last of the Oreo Cookie Dessert!
Marin and Annika are about 15 months older than Clara Anne and 2 months younger than Clara Anne, respectively. They are sweet, sweet girls! I am so excited for all five girls to get to play together next year when our whole family is (briefly) back in the States.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
However, it is, without a doubt, the best leisure food! Even better: "We like the new taste. We need the quality and we need the best food. Here you will find what you want. Cool fashion and cool taste. Give you the minerable feeling."
Oh, YES! I was afraid I had "lost that minerable feeling." Now all of my problems are solved! All because of some leisure food that cost me $.50. Thanks Lou!
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Hmmm. I thought so.
It's just not worth the battle to me. We DO get dressed in the morning (in fact I am enjoying getting dressed since I was able to purchase some new-to-me clothing in the States and actually now have some things I am happy to wear that fit me well), but if the girls want to wear their jammies at naptime, I let them. And if they don't manage to get dressed again between naps and supper/bedtime routine because we don't have to go anywhere and no one is coming over, that's fine with me too.
What isn't fine with me is the other habit they tend to fall into: "let's-change-our-clothes-15-times-every-day-and-leave-the-old-ones-on-the-floor" routine. Argh. We're working on that.
I guess someday they'll have to "grow up" and wear something different each day, keeping it on all day. But for now, enjoy the blue Disney jammy dress that is Clara Anne's favorite, and the pink fairy ruffled sleeve jammy dress that is Chloe's favorite; "the one that you buy'd for me in 'Merica" according to Chloe. All too soon, these clothes will be too small, and all I'll have left are the photos of the girls, happily cavorting in their jammy dresses, in every photo.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Mangosteens are known throughout South Asia as "The Queen of Fruit" and are prized for their delicate, citrusy flavor. I absolutely love them. The outer rind is hard and thick, but the soft, white, segmented fruit within is such a treat. I was thrilled to see mangosteens appear in our markets last summer on a regular basis. Previously I had only eaten them in Thailand. When we were there for two months having Chloe, John bought me bags and bags of them!
What do you think? I was pleased and thankful for a good result on the first try--especially since I had to bring it to a friend's house that night! Since then, I read in the Joy of Cooking how easy it is to freeze fruit pies, so I taught Lou how to make pie crust, and to finish the whole process. Now I have two cherry pies in my freezer, ready to be enjoyed long after cherry season is past!
Clara Anne was pretty excited about the pie too! Isn't God good to have created so many wonderfully delicious foods? We are going to be enjoying all of His bounty as the summer goes on. Hope you are enjoying some summer fruits wherever you are!
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Make your sisters laugh . . .
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
The girls had a wonderful time in this kitchen!
Sunday, June 07, 2009
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised that the trip ended up more relaxing and vacation-like than I expected, especially considering that I caught a terrible cold just before we left! We had a wonderful time together as a family, explored several new fun places, and enjoyed some great western food as well.
The first afternoon we were strolling in the area around our hotel, when we found a huge inflatable bounce house set up on the sidewalk. It was free, but you had to go into the adjoining mall to a kid's toy store in order to get tickets to use it.
[Their excellent marketing ploy paid off, by the way. We had no idea there was a toy store there, and it had lots and LOTS of toys imported from America--Legos, Play-Dough, Thomas train stuff, you name it! We ended up buying some play-dough for the girls, and spent a very enjoyable evening with them playing with play-dough and John and I lying on the bed watching the European soccer league! But I digress...]
The girls had a great time in the bounce house. There was climbing . . .
There was jumping . . .
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
And then, here we are. My flight left at 7am; we wanted to be at the airport by 5:30, with an hour drive time that meant my alarm was set for the very uncivilized hour of 3:45. Wow, the week in America flew by! At the risk of sounding repetitive, I just have to say again how thankful I am that I was able to return, see my Grandma, and let my family get acquainted with Christin. It was only an hour later the morning that I left that my Grandma passed away; I am still marveling at the timing of everything. Truly the Lord had everything worked out perfectly! What a trip!
PS Many people asked me how long it took. . . and the answer is, door-to-door, 28 hours. I left my house at 9am on a Wednesday, arriving at my parent's home at midnight that same day, plus 13 hours of time difference (to my body it felt like 1pm the next day). I took four flights there and four flights back, flying a new route through Seattle on a smaller airline which was cheaper than the bigger airlines. Christin did really well through the traveling and cried very little despite extreme tiredness. We were both glad to be home (in Asia) after that long 28 hours back! So even though that sounds like a long time, on the other hand, think--only 28 hours and I left my house and arrived at my parents', halfway across the world! Times surely have changed from back when people had to take boats that took months to get across the ocean, sometimes not even arriving because of illness without medical care, storms at sea, etc. So my 28 hours wasn't bad at all!