Sunday, February 26, 2012

Play Dates!

As I was sorting old pictures, I came across these from April 14, 2011 (nearly a whole year ago now, amazing!) and felt like they were too fun NOT to post! 

When we lived overseas, play dates for our kids were a fun and important way for them to spend time with other American friends.  Much of the time they were interacting with nationals, going to kindergarten, spending time out playing in our neighborhood, etc, but occasionally we would try to set aside some time to let them play with other Americans.  These friends became very close, very much like family--in fact these other families were our extended family when we were living there.  It is huge blessing to be with other like minded people, striving for the same goals, and it's even better when their kids are happy to play with your kids!

So, here's a glimpse of a play date that my friend Amy and I and our kids shared last April.  The peach blossoms were in full bloom at a favorite local garden/park area, and we dared to break the rules and sit on the grass to have a little picnic.  We even hauled all the kid's bikes there so that they could ride around and have fun with that.  It was a lovely day!  Just look:

The park has smooth asphalt throughout, perfect for my three beautiful biking babes!
 So good to be with friends!  Christin was being cranky and wouldn't participate in the picture...
 But Clara Anne willingly took this one of my lovely friend and me!
 See what I mean?  Cranky Christin.  She got over it soon, thankfully.  Sometimes we've just had one too many pictures!
 Our friend A could really speed around on his bike--very impressive! 
 The blossoms and blooms were a lovely balm and backdrop to great conversation and fun times together.

Play dates in Asia are always interesting--you may have to be a little creative to come up with fun things to do, but this day turned out wonderfully!  I was amazed that I could get all three bikes in a taxi trunk, the girls had a great time with their friends, and I was able to share some one-on-one time with Amy while the kiddos played.  And yes, given the nature of Asian parks (dusty dirty cement, plus they were climbing trees and fake rocks as well as playing in a sandbox)--it was bath time when we got home!  Worth every minute!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Family Day

When we lived in Asia, our family day was a really important part of family life.  Because of the nature of what we did, it was hard to feel like we could take time off.  Even leaving the city or "getting away" in on trips weren't necessarily the relaxing, idyllic times we dreamed of...usually the travel was somewhat stressful, sometimes a child got sick, spending days in hotel rooms cooped up with kiddos can be as our years overseas went on, we found more and more that simply staying home and doing things as a family around town were the most rewarding.  We were able to rest well in our own beds, let our house helper manage the cooking and cleaning, eat out at some fun places, visit parks, etc.   And even though we only did a few of these extended "staycations," we did try to spend one day a week that was just us as a family, no work responsibilities or emails.  (We tried to not even answer our phones unless it was an emergency!)

For us that day was usually Monday.  We often started the day at McDonald's for breakfast, then if the weather was nice, made our way out to a park, the zoo, or a kid's playplace.  Later in our time in our city, Starbucks had opened, so that was always a fun option too--we'd take a game with us, drink some good coffee and stay as long as we liked.  We had lots of games of Toy Story 3 Memory at Starbucks throughout the spring! 

One day last April (April 4, to be exact), the weather was nice enough that we sat outside on the Starbucks patio on one of the busiest streets in our city of 3 million:

 This really only looks mildly busy...

Ahh, coffee.  The juice of life.
 Happiness is. . . cuddles on Daddy's lap and a free balloon.

 Make that three free balloons!

Looks like on this particular day we were playing Chutes and Ladders as well as Princess Uno.  Fun times!

So, though these aren't the "Goodbye" pictures I talked about yesterday, I thought since I was going back I might as well go waaay back.  Family day doesn't exist for us in the same way now since John works from home and is with us so much more.  We do try to take Saturday afternoons as special family time, but we also have some time on Sundays for those kinds of things as well as our regular family devotions and other meals, etc during the week.  I don't quite feel the same need for family day as I did overseas, it's just different here.  But I really appreciated the way my husband protected and prioritized family day during our life there--valuable time together is not to be underestimated!

Hope you enjoyed this glimpse of a typical family day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Musings on my Asian life

I've been thinking a lot about our Asian life lately.  I think I shared before that I really missed being there for Christmas--it seemed so strange to be here in the States.  NOT bad, certainly, just . . . strange.   I mentioned this to John as we were talking late one night, just expressing my feelings at missing our friends, the food, and some other aspects of our life in Asia.  Maybe it was finally hitting me that, as Clara Anne so aptly observed about a month after returning to the States, "I didn't really realize how special it was that we lived there until we moved here."

Certainly there were difficult parts of living life there, and I'm not trying to minimize that, but I had really gotten through many of the difficult parts and really loved my life there.  Plus, I still have some very significant friendships there, which are just harder to maintain when I'm way over here.  And, it's no secret that I really miss my house helper--not just what she did for me, but who she is.  Her funny (sometimes quirky) personality, her friendship, her chatty dear self, is truly missed.  I also really miss the discipleship relationship we had--we frequently talked about life/heart issues and prayed together.  I miss that.

And, then there's the fact that my dear friend B is about to come back to the States for a half a year.  As in, they get on a plane in a few hours.  She wrote a really touching post about saying goodbye to friends and all the changes that had happened in their lives in the past three years.  (And still managed to keep it from getting too long!!!  How does she do it?  I'm always so wordy!)  I started to think, did I post pictures on my blog from our final weeks in Asia?  All those farewells, all the goodbye dinners, the trips we took around town saying goodbye to our favorite places?  Surely I posted all those pictures, right???

Alas, I went back and looked, and I never did.  That time was such a crazy time of transition, and SO incredibly busy (I never want to do it again, moving internationally is a monumental task, and if we do it again we will NOT be crating!) that I just never got to it.  After I realized that, it made me really sad.  It is like after almost 8 years in that country I didn't document and record some of those last, precious memories.  Now, I'm not trying to be melodramatic, there's always a possibility that we will end up back in that place, either to visit or who knows, maybe even to live again, but the fact is that I never posted all my "goodbye" pictures!

Determined to remedy this, I went through my photos and looked again at them.  Then it dawned on me WHY I didn't post them.  There are hundreds!  Maybe even a thousand!  Great photos, with precious people, in so many different places and situations, taken in our last few weeks there.  Oh my!

[insert deep breath]

So, this week I hope to post a few pictures almost every day.  I really want to record, even if it's just for myself, some of the relational journey that we were on those last few weeks before we moved back to the States.  It was an emotional, trying, stressful, crazy, beautiful, bittersweet time, and I think that will come through in some of the photos.  If nothing else, it's part of our family history that I want to record, even if I am about eight months late!  Better now than in several years, right?

If you've been missing Asia (you know, vicariously, through me, ha!) check back this week to get another glimpse of what used to be common and familiar to us, and now seems very special and unique.  Thanks for reading!

I have no pictures (today, anyway)

Another week has flown by at our home and it was a busy one!  My brother Mark and his wife Beth (some of my most favorite people in the world) were out of town and we had the joy of keeping their girls all week.  It was girls, girls, girls around here--lots of giggles and high pitched voices, a few tears as well, but on the whole, lots of fun.  My girls (especially Clara Anne) were really sad to see them go, even if it was just to their home across town!

The week was marked with some notable events.  Sunday morning the girls arrived about 9 and we headed off to a busy day of church, a quick lunch at home, then a trip to the History Museum which had free admission last Sunday.  We had fun looking around!  After a quick trip home and a very brief nap for me and Christin, we went to our small group which was full of other kiddos too--the girls played hard and loved being with friends!

On Monday the weather here in Louisville was just beautiful.  The sun was shining and there was only a very slight chill in the air.  We took the opportunity to play outside at a park (where there was only a tiny bit of mud but the girls managed to find it!) for the majority of the morning and then the afternoon was spent out in our smooth, lovely parking lot riding bikes!  My nieces can already ride without training wheels, and John took some time on Monday afternoon to teach Clara Anne that same skill.  And she did it!  It only took one afternoon and she was already riding like a pro!  Wow!  (but did I get the camera out?  NO, I totally forgot!--next time!)

Tuesday was my niece Annika's birthday, so I made cinnamon rolls (PW's recipe) for breakfast.  Unfortunately pregnancy nausea reared its ugly head again most of the day Tuesday so I didn't enjoy them, but the girls surely did!  Annika had a fun morning opening a gift from Grandma R, talking to her parents briefly on the phone, and then the girls had some playtime too.  We did our read-aloud, Bible memory, and morning devotion faithfully all week so all the girls have almost all of Psalm 150 memorized now!  We are currently reading E. Nesbit's The Railway Children and the girls are loving it!  It's a fun story and written in a very engaging style.  The rest of the day was spent in more bike riding, a play date with friends at the park, and then a movie for the evening--Dolphin Tale.  Fun!

Wednesday was full of home school in the morning and swimming in the afternoon!  The girls are making very good progress in their swimming lessons.  Marin and Annika are already pretty confident swimmers, but we all had fun playing in the water and my girls had their lesson, too.  I enjoyed being in the water too!  It is good exercise!  We had church Wednesday night and by this point, all the girls were pretty tired.  They had been sleeping together in the same beds and I finally wised up and separated them.  I think they just weren't very comfortable--it was a little crowded, and by Wednesday night everybody was getting tired and cranky.  So, we made up separate beds for the cousins and my girls slept in their usual places, and everybody did much better--nobody stirred before 9am the next morning!  Wow!

Thursday we were all ready for a day at home.  There was still school and plenty of playtime  (the girls love to play Chronicles of Narnia with their cousins and often call each other by their narnia names!) and then we were invited to a pizza fellowship in the evening for those who had lived in Asia or were hoping to live there.  So we attended and then I went to my cross-cultural ministries class.  This past week I just participated but next week I will be speaking about Asian worldviews.  I'll be working hard on that this week!

On Friday we had another full day, home school and then swimming in the afternoon again.  The girls are doing so great in the water!  I couldn't believe it--this was only their fourth lesson but the teacher already had them diving for rings (not from outside the pool but just swimming down from their spots at the edge).  It was impressive!  Both Clara Anne and Chloe can do it!  Again, do I have any pictures of swimming lessons yet?  Argh!  I will have to figure out how to safely bring my camera next week.  These last two times I swam with them so was all wet myself, not exactly the best circumstances to carry my camera in with me.

The girls had such a fun time playing this week, watched plenty of "What's in the Bible with Buck Denver," enjoyed their dressing up time, did great when I asked them to do school, and loved being together.  What fun memories we made!  We didn't get to do this kind of stuff when we were in China, so it was a real privilege that I don't take lightly.  We're very thankful for the opportunity.

Yesterday the girls and I went to a fun story time at a local bookstore and had a really great time with some other friends there too.  Mommy couldn't resist another E. Nesbit book (only $1.50!) and the girls all got a free book to take home.  Lovely!  We actually had a free night at home last night and spent it by having supper at a normal hour, doing family devotions, and then playing a game.  Uno Attack was enjoyed by everyone; it's truly fun and Christin can play as well as anybody.  I love the laughter and giggles that come along with playing games together.

John and are starting a new schedule--to bed earlier and getting up earlier, with time built in to exercise.  I think we are finally figuring out that there is never any time for exercise, so you just have to do it!  If we waited until the "time was right" or we "had time" we would never do it at all!  So, today was our first day (again) of getting up right at 6.  Now that I am not quite so desperately tired, I think I have to just make myself do it.  I did today and got a remarkable amount of things done before we left for church at 9.  I enjoyed having time to linger over my Bible/prayer time--that alone should be sufficiently motivating.  I got to finish my cup of tea while it was still hot, and no little people were asking for my attention that early in the morning, which was very nice.  There was time to ease into the day before being immediately needed.  Admittedly I'm pretty tired tonight but that's ok--I won't be tempted to stay up late, right???  :)

And tomorrow is a new week!  So, off to bed I go, thanking the Lord for His grace and blessing through this past week.  He is my sustainer and gives generously to all who ask.  Trusting Him for strength for a new week.  Plus, tomorrow maybe there'll be pictures!

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Events of the week

I'm very happy to report that some of the pregnancy nausea and fatigue is starting to abate a little, and though I'm still not a bundle of energy, I am going to push myself and stay up an extra 20 minutes (ha!) to write and update all two of you readers on events in the Wind household this week.  ;)

It's been a busy week.  We have enjoyed some wonderful fellowship with friends and family this week (the friends being mostly from our church and the family being my brother Mark and his wife Beth) and the week has flown by.  I can tell that I am feeling a bit better because we added in some extra events this week that were very fun.

The weather has been weirdly spring-like, complete with singing birds, daffodils coming up out of the ground, blue skies, fresh air, and a smell of spring.  We'll take it, though!  In fact, it was so nice this week that we made an impromptu trip to the zoo just to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.  The girls and I did a good amount of walking, and the highlight was seeing the baby polar bear play in her exploration area.  The polar bear cub was having great fun digging in a huge tub of ice cubes, playing with a plastic hoop, sticking her face in and out of the tub, stretching and rolling and generally really having a great time.  Across from her, in a separate enclosure, was a family of three grizzly bears who were also in and out of the water in their area, playing with some plastic toys, and swimming and splashing.  We watched the bears for a long time!  Fun!

This was the first week of class for the spring semester, and also the week that John finished his German class online.  It had been a task he'd been working on during the entire break, so he was so relieved and thankful to get his final assignments in and take the exam.  We have also been leading a discipleship class at our church for several Chinese men, and that was supposed to finish up this week, but two of the men couldn't make it so we will hope to finish next week.  

Also, I am now a part of a class for Seminary Wives called "Cross-Cultural Ministry." I will be participating in the class each week and speaking formally once.  This runs for the next six weeks, and I really enjoyed our first class last night--meeting the ladies who are taking the class and having a chance to help them prepare for life overseas. 

With school kicking into gear for John, we've been trying to get in a better schedule at home too.  One resolution I made this week was to start earlier in the mornings.  Now that I'm not quite as desperate for sleep, I have been getting up earlier and trying to start our school day right on time (8:30).  If we do start on time, we have no problem finishing before lunch, even if we take a detour or two throughout the morning.  If we don't get started, though, it's easy for the morning to ooze by and then suddenly we have lots to do when nobody is as motivated in the afternoon.  So, that's going a bit better, we still have more to learn though about keeping a disciplined schedule!

Date night Tuesday night was our turn to have a date, and we opted to stay home, order a pizza and watch the movie "Courageous."  It was excellent.  We could get it at redbox for a dollar, so it was a cheap and very inspiring date.  It's really a touching movie!  I was very impressed and the message and movie-making were both excellent.  What a fun date!

Our small group is gathering again with almost everyone back in town now after the break.  We are looking forward to time with these brothers and sisters over the next semester!  The fact that we were hosting last Sunday night was motivation for me to clean my whole house at once and have everything ready for guests--a good motivation!  And it felt good to have it done, too!

And, the big news of the week for the girls is that they started swimming lessons!  There are often swimming lessons offered at the seminary pool, but I had heard it was difficult to get in--not so many teachers, and tons of kids that want lessons.  So when I stopped by on Wednesday afternoon and asked about the possibility of getting into the next session, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were still openings for this session.  The instructor had just arrived and asked if we could start that afternoon, in an hour to be exact!  So, we filled out the registration forms, ran home to get swimsuits, and were back in time for the girls' first swimming lessons ever.  Their teacher is a sweet lady named Amber and has all three of my girls in the class--just the three of them and the teacher.  (Since the girls haven't had lessons before, they are all pretty much at the same level.)  On Wednesday Christin was pretty hesitant to get in the pool, until Daddy offered a sufficiently motivating reward: new lip gloss.  After the promise of the lip gloss was made, she did get in and participate the last 10 minutes or so.  But today, she was in the water the whole time and really did quite well!  Considering that in times past when I had taken her into deeper water she clung to me with a death grip, she is doing great to even be willing to be in the water (albeit by the side of the pool) on her own.  I see the girls facing their fears of putting their faces in the water and that is so great!  Clara Anne has led out with a more eager, willing attitude (not exactly fearless, but willing) and Chloe and Christin are doing better and better.  Chloe did NOT want to jump in to the teacher on Wednesday but today she did it, no problem.  So, progress already!  We'll have three weeks of lessons, twice a week, and see where we end up from there.  I never had lessons myself so I feel like I have already learned a lot about the basics of swimming!

And then, there's me and this little one I'm carrying around.  I still have not been to a doctor, we have been trying and trying to get the insurance issues ironed out but no success yet.  Thankfully it doesn't seem like there are any issues and I think I may have felt a little "doink" kick a couple of different times.  Hard to say at this point though!

This next week my brother and his wife will be out of town so we will be keeping their girls for the week--and that will be a joy!  They play so well with Clara Anne, Chloe, and Christin, and truly all have a lot of fun together.  We'll do school, make a few trips out if we feel like it, but just generally enjoy the time together.  Praying for a blessing on Mark and Beth as they travel!

Last but certainly not least, here is an update on my dad.  I know that I didn't say much on the blog here after they got home from Mayo clinic, but partially that was because there wasn't so much to say.  After all of those extensive tests, they left still not knowing exactly what is causing Dad's issues.  Some doctors thought Dad had severe chemical depression, brought on by his two heart attacks, some thought he showed evidence of dementia (not necessarily Alzheimer's), and some thought that there were other neurological issues going on.  In the end, no course of treatment was decided upon other than that they are trying a new antidepressant for him.  Since Mom and Dad have come home, there has maybe been a very slight improvement in Dad's condition, but generally he still wants to rest in bed all day, have it dark and quiet, and has no energy for social interactions.  He is somewhat aware of what is going on around him (like when Mom's piano lessons start and stop) but is not able to interact with her much at all.  They will have followup appointments at Mayo in March and perhaps more will be done then.  For now, we are praying for wisdom, healing, and a better quality of life for my dad, as well as strength and sustaining grace for my mom.  We will wait and see what happens.

Well, there's the news from the Wind household!  Thanks for stopping by!