Saturday, March 21, 2015

Life From The Phone.

Yep, it's me again. Sharing photos because that's the way it is right now! So, for this week's pictorial update...

I was at the store recently and rummaged through the clothing bin to find Paul a new t-shirt. Of course the one *I* chose didn't have a price tag on it. I thought I would make things easier on the cashier by taking a picture of the price, but that was a no-go. Instead, she pushed a button to make a light come on and finally the guy on roller skates came over to price-check the shirt. A mere 5 minutes later he rolled up with another t-shirt for her to scan. I felt so bad making the people behind me in line wait, but when you find a shirt for your son that isn't too wild or crazy AND is under $2.00, what else can you do?!?

Several months ago on my morning walk, a lady driving by stopped me and in broken English warned me about "the dangerous insects" and asked me to please be careful when I walk down this little street. I thanked her for her kindness, but I really couldn't understand what in the world she was talking about... until a few weeks ago, when I saw this hornet's nest ON this person's house. Ok, yikes, got the memo now! 

You know (or at least I think you know!) of Paul's great love for bike rides, but perhaps you didn't know Ellie is just as big of a fan. Well, actually, she's tiny compared to Paul, but she sure loves zipping around the neighborhood on the bike. Of course those times are few and far between because Paul is such a bike hog. *Ahem.*

Chiang Mai is home to several malls, but this is the only mall (that I know of) that has a roller skating rink. It doesn't amount to very much, but it was enough to draw out the squeals of delight from Paul as he watched the few people skate around. His delight intensified when a young man picked him up and took him out for a spin. Wow, did that make Paul's day or what?!?

Fish, anyone? This is a great price: approximately 2 lbs for $3.66!

I think I mentioned we special-ordered a bedspread to be made for our bed (the other one was on its last legs). It was well worth the wait for our new bedspread and it definitely perks the room up. We're not planning on staying in this house very long, so I don't think the green carpet is going to be a clashing problem in a few months. :-)

Nat took Paul on a walk on Thursday all the way to the market (about a mile away). Paul was clearly tuckered out and enjoyed a nice, long nap in his stroller while we got some Thai language study in. It was a win-win situation! By the way, the second after I took this picture, he stirred and cracked his eyes open. I felt like a kid with my hand caught in the cookie jar. Thankfully he fell back asleep for another 30 minutes. :-)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sweet Blessings.

In keeping with all the photo updates I've been doing recently, here's another small one!

Let me share with you a little bit about our youngest family member - our sweet, sweet Ellie-Bellie. This little girl has such a happy disposition about her and is often set down for "just a moment" as the adults in the family attempt to get dinner on the table, sweep the floor, deal with Paul, etc. 

She really is good-natured about the whole thing and is content to interact with the family from her spot on the floor or in her chair. Of course she wants to crawl and time and time again flops forward on her stomach, but hasn't mastered the actual crawl yet. 

She also dearly loves her big brother and tolerates quite a bit from him before she reaches a breaking point. My heart melts every time I watch the two of them share a brother-sister moment and Paul is very, very good about picking up Ellie's toys or bringing her a book. I sincerely hope they will be best friends as they grow up! My siblings are so precious to me and I think Paul and Ellie will have the same relationship.

Last year at this time we were anxiously anticipating our new addition to the family and now I can't imagine life without our little girl! What joy she has brought to our family.

One of the weekly blessings we receive from living in a tropical climate is an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables. I walked down to the store on Saturday night and picked out two kilos of mangoes - all for $1.68. These mangoes will take several days to ripen, but we have plenty since we bought some from the market earlier in the week. Mangoes are the perfect addition to the smoothies we make almost daily. Isn't the Lord good?!?

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Quick Snapshots.

One of the things I love to do is take quick snapshots throughout the day. Of course transferring it from the phone to the blog may take a few weeks, as evidenced by the first picture taken almost a month ago! Anyway, here's a little glimpse into our lives from the past few weeks...

Our neighbors were getting ready to take a trip, so for a few days they worked on making pork jerky. Apparently the sun is so hot here that they are able to cut the pork in thin strips and put it out on the roof of their car for the sun to dry the pork out! I had no idea that's how it's made.

These same neighbors gave Paul some refrigerator magnets that both kids have enjoyed playing with...

... Although more often than not, Ellie enjoys it even more than Paul!

If you look closely, you'll see Paul's beloved ball sitting in the middle of a creek. Paul didn't listen to his daddy and threw the ball in the water. For 45 minutes, Paul was "sure" all we had to do was just get the ball! Eventually some resourceful people spotted long bamboo poles nearby and created a ripple effect, causing the ball to meander to shore... and back into Paul's waiting arms.

Here is the finished product of my story in Thai. My teacher said it wasn't too bad for my first time, so I think that means I need to continue language school!

This little guy is slowly starting to eat more food, and I'm pretty encouraged about that!!

Saturday morning found us at several yard sales and we were excited to find this mini-desk. The lady had just made a sign saying all furniture was 50% off, so we added this to our small - but growing - pile of furniture.

I was also extremely thrilled to find at another yard sale the Longaberger basket pictured above on the right for just thirty cents!!

After a morning of yard saling and buying fruits and veggies at our local market, we stopped by a Mexican restaurant called Sunrise Tacos that just recently opened. I've only ever seen one in Bangkok, so I'm happy to see one open up here in Chiang Mai. :-)

Our other big yard sale find was a bike for Paul and Saturday night he got to test it out.

He obviously needs some practice of keeping his feet on the pedals and actually using the pedals, but he sure enjoyed having something his size!! ;)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Things You Might (Not?) Know...

I'm joining in with the Baptist Missionary Women blog in sharing a few things about me that you just might not know. Once you get done reading, please go visit with Susan - a fellow missionary wife!

So, here are five things you may or may not know about me...

1.) Before we came to live in Thailand, I very seldom let any form of coffee pass my lips. I truly could not stand the taste of it, and went out of my way to avoid it. After our move to Chiang Mai, Thailand, I succumbed to the constant, visual bombardment of coffee shops (they are EVERYWHERE here!) and started trying iced lattes and iced cappuccinos. I found I liked them. Very much so. Sugar has a way of drawing me in. :-) So now I'm working on cutting off my iced cappuccino sugar addiction. Fascinating, right?!?

2.) I love a clean floor - good thing we live in Thailand, because so do the Thai people! Unfortunately, my two kids do not. Particularly during meal time. I have a wonderful cleaning lady come every two weeks who does an amazing job get my floors to shine. I admire her cleaning abilities, because clearly, I cannot compete with her. So Friday she came to clean and everything looked SO NICE!! My husband very sweetly accommodated my request of eating dinner outside to keep the floors clean. So for one meal, my floors sparkled. Saturday morning's breakfast returned them to their normal state... :-)

3.) God perfectly matched my husband and me up because we both enjoy being frugal. Each month we play a little game with our monthly budget. For instance, we have a set amount in our grocery budget, but I try to stretch that grocery money as much as possible so we have something left over at the end of the month. We always wait until the end of the month to see if there's anything left in the grocery budget before buying fun food like cheese or chocolate chips. So anything that is left over in our overall budget, depending on how much we ran the air conditioner that month, is pushed into a special savings plan. Last year we worked hard to save anything we could because we knew we would be returning to the States for 7 weeks at the end of the year. The hard work paid off (haha, no pun intended!) and we enjoyed our time in the States and picking up/doing a few special things as a result of those savings.

4.) I really enjoy simple pleasures, like taking a bike ride at a nearby lake or watching my son kick a ball on our quiet street. As I get older (32, in case you were wondering), the thing I enjoy most is spending time with my family and hearing my husband and children laugh.

{my little balls of energy}

5.) The itch to travel is in my blood. I was talking with my aunt about it one time, and we both agreed I come by my love for travel naturally, with my dad's side of the family (a few generations ago) moving to America. I love, love, love to travel and greatly enjoyed our deputation. Oh the places we've gone and will go!

Thanks for reading! Don't forget to stop by Susan's blog!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Returning To Routine.

I'm cautiously optimistic that I'm slowly getting over the first big hump in the Thai language. Cautiously optimistic. I do have my first story to write in Thai (due Tuesday) so I'll let you know how that goes!  However, I absolutely love our new school schedule! Last year, I was studying Monday and Friday mornings (8-10, sometimes 10-12) and that was brutal because Nat had school Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (1-3), so I felt like we were two ships passing each other. It also made for very long days. Nat's schedule has remained the same, but now I'm studying Tuesday and Thursday (8-10). I feel like we're in a good routine and we're doing a better job balancing individual study time for both of us as well as quality family time and couple time. Score! We've also added in some studies with other people, in addition to keeping up with our two active kids. We know we have a few time slots that need to be re-purposed, but overall we're pretty happy about getting back into the swing of things.

We also learned something important in taking the trip to the States: a 2-month trip really turns into a 4-month trip once you factor in all the upheaval in preparing and returning from said trip. That's good to know for when we plan our furlough!

In other news, we're extremely excited we'll be having some very dear friends come for a visit in April! We're looking forward to sharing Thailand with them and getting in some precious fellowship time. An added blessing was their airline ticket price was the cheapest we have ever seen for a flight to Thailand. Isn't that just like God?!?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A Sweet Treat.

Every Tuesday we make it a point to go to Swensons - a local ice cream parlor - for their buy one, get one free deal. We love ice cream and Swenson's has a flavor called Midnight Brownie that is just fantastic!

Everything is better when shared together, so Paul shared my ice cream with me. I think it's safe to say he enjoyed it. :-)

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Birthday Buddies.

One of my favorite things about Nat is he shares my birthday! Or perhaps I share his birthday since he's older than me. :-) I suppose it doesn't really matter because every year we celebrate together and it is always so. much. fun!!

This year we asked a friend to watch the kids while we went to dinner Saturday night. There's a restaurant at the edge of our village called Eat On Earth (no joke!), so we enjoyed a quiet walk through the neighborhood on the way to the restaurant. We opted to sit outside for dinner since the ambiance was spectacular (until the mosquitoes came along!) and we just enjoyed some quiet time together.

We both ordered the same thing (chicken cordon bleu) and it was absolutely delicious. My mango smoothie was pretty good too!

Nat chose the peach and orange smoothie and was extremely pleased with his choice. Everything was so nice and since we were tucked away in a corner, we didn't have to be distracted by a lot of people going back and forth past our table.

Today was a quieter day for sure. We usually get together with another family for a bible study Sunday morning, but half of their family was sick so we just spent the day at home. The church we attend has services Sunday night, and so that's where we went tonight. After church, we came home and got the kids into bed before pulling out our birthday treat: brownies, ice cream and fresh strawberries. Yummy! 

In addition to today being our birthdays, we're doing something different this year and having a count-down to Valentine's Day. We each decorated several cards on the front and put various things to do together on the back.

So this was our first one (sorry for the blurry picture)! On the back I wrote down, "if money weren't an option, make a list of all the places to travel together as a couple." We enjoyed talking (and dreaming!) about places we want to go. I'm looking forward to see what tomorrow's idea is! 

All in all, I would say we had a pretty good birthday. :-)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Family Day.

I think it's safe to say we are finally adjusted to Thailand time again! What a blessing the long airplane ride and jet lag are both behind us, hopefully for a good while! God definitely gives grace for those trying times and it's so good to be home.

We've enjoyed "setting up shop" again and jumping back into life in the tropics. Before the return of language study, we decided to take a family day and headed for the great outdoors! There's a gorgeous lake about 15 minutes away, so we wandered over there on Friday and enjoyed biking, walking, and eating lunch by the lake.

{a clear, cool day at the lake with a mountain backdrop}

{love these two blessings}

{my blue-eyed girl}

{Paul is happy to run barefoot again}

{flowers in our neighborhood showcase God's creativity}

Since we are still in cool season, I've taken Paul on plenty of bike rides. There's something exhilarating about feeling the wind hit my face and from the little giggles coming from behind me, I'm pretty sure Paul is enjoying it too! 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thoughtful Thanks.

I decided in 2014 to be more intentional in praising God and even came up with a tag for my blog called "purposeful praise." Last year really stretched me in my praise to the Lord, so I decided on another personal theme for this year: thankfulness. Now I'll be the first to admit that there are many blessings in my life, but I need to pause and ask if I'm actually having an attitude of thankfulness, especially in the midst of a situation.

For instance, this morning Nat and I were watching our church's Wednesday evening service and as I was trying to take notes Paul was wriggling in my lap and kicking the table. Not exactly an ideal circumstance to be still before the Lord and let the preaching minister to my heart. To my shame I let out a sigh of frustration and even said, "Paul, why must you do that?" But then the still small voice reminded me to stop and be kind to my son. I put the pen down and pulled my little boy closer, quickly reminded how glad I am for such an active little guy!

So that's my goal for this year - to have an attitude of thankfulness, and hopefully IN the situation instead of AFTER the fact. :-)

To start things off... I'm extremely thankful for these three human beings; my entire, little world and I wouldn't trade any of them for anything!!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Precious Memories.

In November we headed to the States for the purpose of spending time with people and I would say we accomplished the job! In fact, I wish we took more photos with people, but we didn't always think about it. So here's a quick recap of just some of the things we did during our 8-week trip.

We landed in NYC on a Thursday and five days later we were driving the 700 miles to my brother and his family in Kentucky. A quick two-day stay with them rounded out the Thanksgiving holiday, and I'm so glad we made the effort to go. The return drive of 15 hours seemed like it would never end. :-)

My niece, nephews, and sister-in-law with my baby girl.

We did experience a few warmer winter days and Paul enjoyed getting outside to play with some balls and our pastor's children. But most of the days were too cold to play outside.

Some of my family got together the Saturday after Thanksgiving to go to a nearby Christmas village. What fun and what a good memory as we shivered together. :-)

Yes, it did snow while we were in Pennsylvania! I'm glad Nat thought to get some snow pictures, because most likely it will be several years before we see snow again.

We took a trip up to New York to spend some time with Nat's extended family. On the way we stopped at a grocery store that had the perfect cart for Paul. He loved pushing it around and stocking up on an essential: Cheerios! By the way, the one time I found a box of Cheerios in Thailand it was $12.00, so we won't be eating Cheerios anytime soon. :-)

While in New York, we stayed with Nat's aunt. She had a neat toy car collection that Paul loved to play with.

Of course Paul got to go sledding at Great-Grandma's farm! He absolutely loved it. 

Our main reason for returning to the States was for Nat's sister's wedding, which was just before Christmas. 

We also updated our family picture to reflect our newest little family member. It only took us 7 months for a new mug shot. :-) We took this after the wedding, so both kids were beyond tired, having missed their naps. Paul was quickly won over with cranberry bread keeping him smiling, but Ellie would not smile for anything. Oh well.

The week of Christmas found us in the Poconos with Nat's family. We got a vacation rental house and enjoyed lots of family time. Paul loved getting to know his grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

We also spent some time with my sister and her family at Valley Forge National Historical Park. What started out as a quick walk turned into a 4-mile hike. After that brisk walk, the kids slept soundly!

Paul with my sister and nephew.

Some friends of mine and I intended to slip away for a 2-day ladies retreat in December, but the house we had found forgot we were coming and shut the water off for the winter. I was definitely disappointed, but last Friday night we enjoyed a fun evening together as couples, so it all worked out in the end.

 We packed things up and headed for JFK Airport this past Wednesday. Good friends of ours were very gracious in waking up early and driving us to the airport for our noon flight. Thanks Ben and Alyssa!

Our layover in South Korea was a lot shorter than we remembered, so Paul didn't get to play on the playground this time around. Instead Paul got to watch the plane being loaded!

So there you have it! There were so many things that happened while we were home, but I can't recount them all. I'm just glad for the opportunity to be back in PA... And now I'm glad to be home in Thailand!