Monday, August 18, 2014

Whispered Words.

As I recently mentioned, I'm trying to be more goal-oriented. One of my goals has been to find more hours in the day. I'm excited to share that I have! I'm still within the boundaries of 24 hours, but by shifting my sleep schedule around I've been able to get a few more things done each day.  Since Ellie is fussy at night, I wasn't getting much accomplished after Paul went to bed anyway, so now I try to have her down by 9 and we've been going to bed before 9:30. Ellie is sleeping through the night (what a miracle!) and so I wake up around 5, feed her, and then I have two solid hours to work on things. Oh it's great. :-) 

It helps that my new school schedule is Monday and Friday 8-10 AM, and I have to leave the house by 7:20 since all of Chiang Mai drives right past our neighborhood (or so it seems)! In addition to getting lots of small things done in the wee hours, we've also been able to watch our church's services - such a blessing! 


Currently my two kiddos are sacked out - yay for nap time! 

My mind is racing with things that need to be done, but I'm also enjoying the stillness of this moment. This morning as I drove home from school, I was thinking about learning the language and how it seems to always tower over me, taunting me. I'm grateful my worth is not found in my ability to learn the language! When I came in the house, Nat had some new music playing - courtesy of a supporting church sending us an awesome package recently. I'll admit I was brimming with tears, ready to be defeated (again!) by this towering mountain. As I entered the dining room, I heard the final line: "thank you for being faithful." I have no idea what the rest of the song was about, but those words were a sweet reminder from my Heavenly Father to just be faithful. It honestly felt like I was given a big hug with whispered words of encouragement. Ok, Lord, I'll keep pressing forward! Isn't He so kind?!?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Elephants.

A friend from my church has been here for the last few weeks helping another missionary family, so we snagged her on Saturday and headed for a nearby elephant camp.


For the record, I didn't realize this camp even did a monkey show until now. Interesting. Moving along...


We started off on an ox cart ride and then returned on an elephant. Quite the experience. :-)


We're in the middle of rainy season right now - hence the full river.


We really enjoyed the day, especially getting to spend time with our friend! We don't do too many tourist attractions unless someone is visiting, so come on over! We'll take you on a ride. ;-)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Goals.

I'm trying to be more goal-oriented, so one of my goals this weekend was to write a post. I just checked and I last wrote on this blog over a month ago. Oops. So in order to put a line through one of my goals for today and in order to share life from this side of the globe, I give to you a blog post... first one for July. (Double oops)

In early July we spontaneously decided to have a family picture taken at the mall. Quite the ordeal, I assure you, and not exactly what we were hoping for, but that's what spontaneity is all about, right??


Ellie was looking quite pretty in her sweet dress...

...and then there's Paul. :-)


That's what I love about my little boy. He keeps it SO real! At the end of the year we're hoping to get some more family pictures, sans the dove background of course. :-)

I have been pleasantly surprised with rainy season. Quick weather lesson: Thailand has three seasons (cool, hot, and rainy) and each one lasts about four months. When we first got here (coming from fall in Pennsylvania), we thought it was hot and we flipped the air con on if it was over 81*. We now know better and our bodies have adjusted to the climate. Right now our mornings are in the high 70s which feels "cool" to us and we don't turn the air con on until it gets to be around 90* with humidity. I was really expecting rainy season to be hot, humid, and miserable, but so far it's just been humid. :-) I think the worst of the heat was back in April/May so I'm glad we're on the downward slope!  I keep thinking to winter in Pennsylvania and am not looking forward to the sudden temperature switch. But I am looking forward to snow... I suppose that cold weather must come with snow!

My little guy is a month or so away from his second birthday and each day I see him growing. He is such a big help to me. He loves helping me hang out the laundry by pulling the items out of the basket, he's very good about picking everything off the floor, and even helps sweep and wash the floor! He's quite the determined little guy and has such a fascination with keys. Keys and Ellie's toes. I'm pretty sure he thinks they stick out just for him to pull on. :-)

Ellie is a really good baby and has graciously fallen into a great sleep pattern, for which we are extremely thankful! She's currently in the smiling stage and was even cooing while Grammie was on the phone today. :-) Of course she is a well-admired baby by many of the people here. Last Sunday night after church I went to a market with a couple of friends and brought Ellie with me in the stroller. I don't have a clue how many people peeked in the stroller and "oohed" and "ahhed" over her, but it was quite a few! Also I'm pretty sure our language school teachers are convinced she never does anything but sleep. Well she does sleep quite a bit, but she is awake in the evenings.... our teachers just never see her then!

Speaking of school... I started back to classes on July 4th, after a two-month pause. Of course Nat continued on during my pause, so he is now in book two of the reading/writing class while I'm finishing up the conversation class. Currently I'm reviewing lesson 6 out of 30 lessons. Since I got behind, I'm in a one-on-one class which I'm really enjoying. It's a bit of challenge (ok, it's quite the challenge!) to remember the correct sentence structure for Thai. For instance, adjectives come after the noun rather than before, so I'm forever switching that in my mind. I have made some progress in learning the vowels (25+), so now whenever we're sitting in traffic (a regular occurrence), I try to read the various signs and billboards around me. I'm excited because this world of language is slowly opening up to me and I do see progress being made, which is encouraging. I definitely understand more than I speak, but that doesn't cut it when a person is speaking directly to me and waiting on me to answer!! Practice, practice, practice!

One of my big goals (haha, back to that again!) is to start running, but I have to figure out the best strategy. I have a couple of factors to consider but the two biggest ones are the weather and dogs. I had been taking Paul on walks with me, but the last time I went kind of terrified me and I just haven't gotten up the courage to go again. Paul was in his stroller and I was clipping along when I turned down one street. Two of the homes had their gates open and before I knew it, this big scary dog came tearing out of the gate and heading straight for us. I immediately stopped and waited for the owner to call her dog off, but she spoke in vain and the dog kept charging. I always walk with a stick since we have tons of stray dogs in the neighborhood but in this case the owner was right there. She kept calling the dog and saying to me, "it's ok" but since the dog was heading for us instead of to her, I had a different opinion. :-) I finally turned around to head back the way I came, all the while waving the stick behind me and the dog finally retreated. So I'm not sure what to do. I'll definitely avoid that street and perhaps just muster up enough courage to get past the other stray dogs. Any runners out there with a suggestion? Ahh, life overseas... you never know what to expect!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Life.

Life is -- as usual -- a whirlwind! It feels like we go from week to week on high speed and I have a sneaking suspicion that this speed will hang around for a while. After 7.5 months on the field, I can see the importance of furlough and the need for rest and refreshment. 

The adjustment as a family of four is going well. Call me a wimp, but I haven't ventured out by myself with the two kids yet. For one thing, Ellie hates the sling because she gets hot very quickly. The other reason is Paul is such an active, fast 21 month old boy. :-) We are in a fairly good routine at home though, which is a good thing since Nat is gone quite a bit.

(And to prove my point of life being hectic... that was written a few days ago!)

Last Sunday was Father's Day in the States, but we jumped in on the celebration too since we have a fantastic daddy in this house. :-) We were away on a trip and returned just in time for church so we celebrated on Monday night with chicken cordon bleu and some yummy cheesecake. My husband's love language includes food so it only seemed logical to me to go that route. 

Paul gave his own gift in the form of having a not-so-good day. Keeping it real... right, buddy?



Saturday was our first free Saturday in a couple of months - yay! We tried a new (to us) restaurant for breakfast which we absolutely loved! Bonus is lots of homemade items, including cheese. Be still, my cheese-adoring heart. I also found pickles which I can't wait to try. (Please be delicious.) Come to think of it, food is pretty important to me too. :-)

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Choosing Gratefulness.

My son set a record today: *no* nap at all and he was awake for 11.5 hours straight. He's been having trouble napping (at home) for the last few weeks and I thought it was because his aunt was sharing a room with him. Well it's been three days since Auntie left and still no naps. So I set really low expectations since I've being flying solo for the last two days. I was quite impressed I actually got a shower in, Bible read, and laundry started before the kids woke up this morning. I think that's because Ellie was only up twice during the night. :)

I didn't have grand plans for the day; I even told Nat I would be doing great if I just got both kids fed and changed! Paul has been extremely clingy since Ellie was born, so I expected my day to be very kid-centered, which it was. I did manage to take the laundry off the line and I even found a small window of ten minutes to work on Thai.

So now I'm sitting in the quiet of my living room wondering why I'm disappointed with myself after all. Between nursing a newborn and taking care of Paul, my day went as I thought it would and yet I still think I should've gotten way more accomplished.

The days *are* long but the years are short. This day is done and I can't relive it. Instead I'm grateful for time to spend with Paul. I'm grateful for a newborn who is a good sleeper and on a consistent eating schedule. I'm grateful I can stay home with my babies, freeing up my husband to make a trip and oversee some literature getting into the hands of those who can use it for God's glory. I'm very grateful it didn't rain today and knock out the power for two hours like it did last night. I'm grateful I could get by with salads for lunch and dinner. ;-) I'm grateful for snuggle times with my little girl and being able to sit down with Paul and watch a DVD. I'm grateful to hear my son's squeals of delight as he plays with the dog we're watching.

So with that perspective, I did get a lot accomplished today after all! I spent time with my two children and they will never be this small again. And even though the rest of the world didn't see me today, my little world did... and I'm content with that.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Family Time.

This year is just clipping by at a terrific speed! I'm coming out of the typical newborn fog of sleep deprivation just in time to say I can't believe my daughter is a month old already. Really?!?

My sister-in-law has been with us for the last month and flies home tonight. So now the real reality of two kids sets in! To add to the fun, we're also dog-sitting this week, but I'm hoping that will actually help with the transition for Paul. I mean, who doesn't love playing with a cute dog?

We went to a nearby waterfall on Saturday and this is what Ellie did for most of the time:


Apparently nature fascinates her. :-)

Paul was very adventurous and loved climbing up the waterfall:


We've had lots of fun family time, especially with my sister-in-law here. Now we'll probably stop doing touristy things until someone else come to visit. :-) 

Meanwhile Nat's been pushing forward in language studies and just finished the conversation module. Next up is the reading and writing module. I went to school up until a few days before Ellie's birth but I haven't been back since, so I got behind. Now we're hoping to find a tutor for me. My kids are small only once, so it's a balance I try to maintain with learning the language and taking care of my family.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

In One Week.

We went from being a family of three...


... To a family of four!


Ellie made her grand entrance on Monday morning and we're completely smitten with her! Big brother is very curious about Ellie and has even given her a few "gifts" in her pack-n-play. :-) 

When she was born, my doctor was giving Nat the update (he wasn't allowed in the OR for my scheduled c-section) and very matter of factly included the statement that Ellie was fat compared to Thai babies. In our opinion, 7 lbs. 3 oz. doesn't justify the term but I suppose that's what happens when the norm is a 6 lb. baby!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Vacation Week.

We've been on a break from school for the past week and I for one am enjoying myself just being at home here in Chiang Mai.  Originally we were planning to drive or fly to southern Thailand for the week, but now I'm really glad that didn't work out since I've been dealing with more tiredness and very puffy feet/ankles. I'm definitely in the home stretch of this pregnancy!!

Since we were staying put during Songkran (Thai New Year), we decided on a couple of local things to do, but nothing too overwhelming for us... and Paul! But first, my one and only pregnancy picture:


Nat quick snapped it while Paul was napping and before we left for church Sunday afternoon. So it's fairly recent. :-) Supposedly I have four more weeks to go... but since I went late with Paul, I'm planning on the same with Nutmeg.

As I mentioned, this week was Thai New Year. For four days a big water festival takes place and the chances of you and/or your vehicle getting wet are great! What perfect timing though - the days are nice and hot so water feels refreshing.


See the super-soaker in the picture above? Lots of people carried those things around and even more people had a barrel of water in their trucks... like the one in the picture above. 


It was fun to watch people on the street soak people riding in the back of pickup trucks and vice versa, but I could also see accidents happening very quickly. The last report I heard, over 100 people had died during the first two days of Songkran... such a tragedy.

Since the days have been so hot, we opted to go to some malls nearby and walk around in the air conditioning. One mall we stopped at had a really fun kiddy land set up. For $1.50, Paul was able to play in there for an hour and had a blast!!


A little blurry, but balls were everywhere!


Unfortunately big and little kids played in the same area with no official supervision, so Paul did get bumped around a bit by big kids running so fast and not seeing him. Good thing he's resilient! In the picture above, he's sitting on stairs that go to a slide (the yellow on the right) which went down to a huge ball pit. He had such a fun time playing in there and as a parent I had such a fun time watching him have fun. The more I go along on this parenting journey, the more I see a picture of my Heavenly Father and how He wants to give me good things and yet at times MUST correct me when I've been disobedient.


We also decided to go to a nearby waterfall for a picnic and some splashing in the water. We had gone to this waterfall a month ago with our school and enjoyed ourselves, so we left on Monday morning for some water fun. We weren't thinking "holiday" (just imagine Memorial Day weekend or Labor Day weekend crowds), so when we got to the waterfall, we were surprised at how many people were there and even having the police direct traffic. As only the Lord could do, we got front row parking directly in front of the entrance - fantastic! Since it was only 10 AM, we decided to go down to the waterfall (down, down, down!) and then have our picnic. Such a good idea. We (mostly Nat and Paul - I found a log and sat there) were able to walk up and down the waterfall with a minimal amount of people around. When we went back to the top, the crowd had doubled. We spread out our mat under a shade tree and enjoyed our sandwiches, fruit, veggies, and chocolate cupcakes --- definitely NOT what the Thai people were eating!

After lunch, Nat took Paul back to the waterfall while I stayed on the mat. Thankfully I grabbed a hand fan from the truck because it was warm!!! As I sat there people-watching, I noticed a group to my left standing around. Five kids, one mom, and two grandparents with nothing to sit on. I tried not to feel to comfortable on my plastic mat all the while thinking about offering them a place to sit down. Soon the dad arrived with a mat and they promptly sat down; well the kids did. The poor grandma just wasn't fast enough! But she had spunk... and obviously has been sitting on the ground her entire life. She slowly got down, making sure to take her flip flops off first, and managed to squeeze onto the mat. Grandpa wasn't far behind and I stared in amazement because this is so normal for them. No cushions, no comfortable plush chair - just a plastic mat that was being shared with six other people. 

Oh, what were they eating? Of course Mom had a container of rice - the main staple. Dad went over to some vendors and came back with four or five bags of pork on a stick. At one point I'm pretty sure I saw one of the boys enjoying a long piece of grilled chicken skin. I missed out on the rest of the meal because Nat came back with Paul at that point and soon the tables were turned and THEY were watching us! Specifically Paul of course. One time he started to trip on the mat and I heard several gasps come from my left side. I just sat there knowing he would get his feet back under him. :-) 

All in all we've had such a fun family week. Today we were going to go swimming, but when we got there the sign said closed. :/ Since we had our swim stuff on, we decided to go back home and play with water there! Paul got a huge kick out of us spraying the hose around and getting the whole family wet. It was great!

Thursday is our last day of "vacation" and I'm sure it will be full of adventures! We were going to go to the zoo, but my feet are way too swollen to do a lot of walking so I think we'll skip the zoo this time and do something else instead. :-)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Quick Catch-up Post.

I'm afraid the days of Paul being a "baby" are over. Yes, he's 18 months. Yes, he just started walking in February. Yes, we're still teaching him things like eating what's on his tray. But when it comes to protecting him from bumps, bruises, and scratches, now we're talking about a five year old - at least! 

I've done lots of babysitting in the past, and I don't think I've ever seen a kid so accident-prone. Uncle Tom, he's taking after YOU!! For instance, tonight we decided to have a family night since the rest of the week is insanely busy. We settled on watching a Road To Avonlea 45- minute movie. During that time, Paul ran into the edge of the bed no less than three times and that third time finally got to him. He is now sporting a shiner on his cheek, poor kid. The worst part was we were right there and I even watched him do it (slow motion of course), but couldn't intervene in time because my ankle was propped up. Oh the tears did flow...

In other fun news from last week (I'm so punctual!), the precious ladies from my home church gave me a Skype baby shower complete with decorations, unwrapped gifts, and muffins. My husband rose to the occasion and made sure to make muffins so I could enjoy some while the ladies had theirs. I think I ate two bites in between personally chatting with many of the ladies who took a few moments at the computer to visit. It was a fantastic time and instantly transported me back to PA. Thailand is home now and yet so is Pennsylvania, especially when visiting with dear friends I haven't seen in a while!

Today we wimped out and decide to turn the air conditioner on in the afternoon. Unlike in PA where the hottest time of the day is around noon, here it's between 3-4 PM. After school we stopped by the market to pick up produce, but we took turns sitting in the car with Paul, who was sleeping. Our poor AC did it's very best, but sitting in direct sunlight at 99* was just too hot. So when we came home, I made a beeline for the AC switch and turned it on. After and hour or so, things cooled down to where we could get by with a fan. We have been running the AC a little bit at night, but have it on a timer so it clicks off soon after we go to bed. I'm actually impressed that we haven't run the AC as much as I thought we would've by now, but I think my memory is bringing to mind living in Bangkok (8 hours south) and how we ran it practically year-round. So we've been enjoying and taking advantage of the cooler mornings. It sure makes up for the hotter afternoons!

Next week we're taking a break from school since it's the Thai New Year. Is it wrong to say I'm looking forward to that break? :-) My brain feels like it's on Thai language overload sometimes, so it will be good to put a pause on the intake of information and just try to process what's in there! We're almost finished with the Thai conversation module, and the next module is reading and writing. Baby Nutmeg is due to make her appearance sometime in May, so I'm interested to see how going to school and having a newborn are going to jive. Of course family is first priority, so if it doesn't work out to go to school, then we'll explore another option. But for now my plan is to continue with school.

So there you have it! A quick catch-up with what's going on in our little corner of the world. :-)


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Glimpse

A glimpse into my day (so far)...


- Three kilos of fresh tomatoes turned into sauce.


- A cheesecake... just because!


- An active little guy who is currently playing with a wooden spoon. Simple pleasures.


- Today is not a school day, but there is always studying that needs to be done.

Not pictured:

- 6:00 AM wake-up 
- Pancakes for breakfast 
- Naptime for Paul... and for me!

Nat's at an physical therapy appointment right now and has plans to take Paul later for Paul's first real haircut at a barber. Paul's had a haircut every month of his life except this last month and it's starting to show. :-) We'll see how that goes for Mr. Squirmy!