Thursday, December 27, 2012

6 Months

We are leaving for the airport in 7 1/2 hours (I guess that means I should go to bed soon) but just remembered that I never took a 6 month photo. So there you go. I don't feel prepared at all for this baby but keep saying I'll get it together "next year"- which is now just a week away.
This is not my new winter scarf but my . . . pregnancy pillow!! Isn't it HUGE? It has taken some getting used to, but I wake up with less of a back ache thanks to this beast. Jason is not so thrilled about the big presence that it has in our small bed. He complains about this third party, yet more than once I've found him cuddled up to it in the night (: This is not coming to Cambodia with us, so I'd better go catch a few zzzs with it before we're off. Happy New Year!

Pink Christmas

Annette can certainly stand her own and prefers to play with boys over girls. She daily pulls clips out of her hair and thinks tennis shoes look great with dresses. But she also LOVES the color pink, anything with sparkles and of course purses. Reviewing my photos from the last couple days I had to smile at this fun pink line up. She brings a lot of joy to our days. 

 Christmas Eve
 Christmas Morning
Boxing Day (buckling up babyAshley in the taxi)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

December Flurry

Isn’t December so fun!?!  We have been making a lot of great memories lately and enjoying good family time. We don’t have a TV but recently bought a projector so tonight we snuggled together and watched a Christmas movie on our wall. It reminded me of the old fashion days watching slide shows with my grandparents. Here is a flurry photos (mostly just from my phone- sorry) of some of our festivities. 

Josiah made two geo-boards like this as gifts for his friends. He did all the painting and hammering himself and was so proud to give it to them.
My kind of "snow"
Teaching kids at our Mom's Group Christmas party. There is a nice belly profile for you (:

Josiah's class Christmas program. I laughed, I cried, it was beautiful. At the end all the of the kids gave their "hearts" to Jesus.

Annette kept asking during the play if she could go hold baby Jesus
We went down to the waterfront Friday night to look at the Christmas lights and stumbled upon this concert. The kids thought it was a big thrill to ride the ferry across the harbor and look at all the tall buildings with their Christmas decorations

Skyping with the reindeer in California

We had our first "Christmas dinner" with just our family tonight

Tomorrow on the schedule is ice skating for the boys and hot chocolate for the girls, then volunteering at the church preparing food for Christmas. The kids are so exited to open their presents they are going to burst. Crazy to think that last year in Mozambique they each only got one cheap gift wrapped in tin foil and they loved it. I hope they can always be content to see the beauty wherever they are.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

God in a Brothel

On December 28th our family departs on a two week trip to Cambodia and Laos. We’ve been to Laos before briefly (as in less than an hour) and never to Cambodia. It is a country I’ve wanted to visit for many years, so this is a real dream come true for me. Cambodia is one of the poorest of the countries in Southeast Asia with a brutal history of genocide. Laos is also desperately poor and under a communist regime. 

A team of a dozen people who we went to mission school with in Mozambique have established a base in the capital city Phenom Phen this last year. God has given them a passion and heart to go into the darkness of the brothels and rescue women and children from the rampant sex slavery. 

In preparation for the trip I recently finished the book God in a Brothel by Daniel Walker.  I tend to get emotionally involved in books so parts of it were hard to read. It reminded me somewhat of the horrors of the book I read on child soldiers. Can anything be worse than child soldiers and child prostitutes? The very worse descriptions in the book were of the Svay Pak village, just 30 miles from Phenom Phen, famous for attracting international pedophiles.  The book gave a very honest portrayal and was eye opening. 

I was reading in Hebrews 4:7, “Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” This is really becoming my prayer for Cambodia, just to keep an open heart. Sometimes the darkness is so overwhelming that I put up a wall and harden my heart. I feel like God is just asking me to come as a learner and be open to what part he might be asking us to play in releasing freedom to these captives. 

We are not planning on spending our whole trip in brothels (:  We look forward to hanging out with friends, eating, swimming and visiting ancient ruins, in addition to visiting some different ministries. We would really appreciate your prayer covering for health, protection and leading as we go. Thanks!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Getting in the Spirit

 covered in flour (even her eyelashes!)

 don't lick your computer
 There is so much fun stuff going on this time of year, I LOVE the advent season!!! It seems especially fun with little ones who are so captivated by the Christmas story and wonder all around. Above is a photo of a group of friends at our annual cookie exchange/ decorating party. If you think this looks like a lot of kids and a lot of sugar in a small house- you are right.  But also a lot of fun! Next week the kids have 4 different Christmas parties that they are part of so I'm going to need some sugar to power through.
 This year I am using the ebook The Truth in Tinseltown for our family advent devotions. We all love it! Each evening the kids get a word clue that they listen for in the Bible reading. We talk about the story, sing a song and then there is an ornament craft to go with each day. We don't do every craft, but they love it when we do.  I would highly recommend the book if you are looking for something simple and purposeful for young kids.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

In the store the other day I sent Josiah over to pick out a new tube of kid's toothpaste. He picked this one (since it was blue). I don't usually buy this Chinese brand but decided to not be so controlling and threw it in the cart. It was not until we got home that to my disgust and Josiah's delight we realized we had purchases COLA flavored toothpaste!! Does it seem wrong to anybody else to brush your teeth with Coke? Fortunately even Josiah decided that the toothpaste was gross and so we threw it in the trash. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

How She Rolls

 Annette loves bags and purses. Packing, unpacking and carrying.  These days she can't leave the house without one, which is kind of a pain, but she keeps surprisingly good track of it for a 2 year old. This is how here stroller looks these days.  I'm kind of jealous because if I piled that many bags on my stroller it would tip backwards (:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


It has been raining here for three weeks. . . straight. That means we have been living in a sunless cloud for almost a month. At first I didn't mind after so much heat and humidity. I made all my favorite soups, decorated for Christmas, got out the sweaters. . . but now I have had enough. California is such a hard act to follow weather- wise. I think a childhood of blue skies hard- wired me for sun.

But the rain seems to only be an external picture of weeping in our hearts. This week our precious niece, Joanie Elizabeth, went to be with Jesus. She was only about 5 weeks older than the baby I am now carrying. We knew she was sick, but didn't think the end would come so soon. Our whole family has been hurting for Jason's (twin) brother and his wife in this valley.  Josiah cried for his cousin Joanie and drew this picture of her in heaven with Jesus.

In my melancholy mood I am trying to stay positive- I've learned that my kids pick up on my attitude- and talk about how wonderful the rain is ("isn't this fun to walk to the station (again) in the rain kids?") because it makes everything grow. One joy in the last few weeks has been watching this little garden out my kitchen window. Our landlord hand planted thousands of bulbs to grow flowers for Chinese New Year. I can literally see them grow in front of my eyes. In two weeks they went from dirt to a foot tall. 

I don't have any answers or deep revelations. I feel like my heart is in a fog like the rest of the city. But, it does encourage me to see life spring forth from the rain. Until the sun comes out again all I can do is worship  God, our God who turns ashes to beauty.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

5 Months

I found a sign to hang from our car (appparently Pregnantwoman in one word)

Speaking of our non- existent car,  I loved reading everyone's perspective and comments on our car decision.  We have pretty much decided to buy a car and will hopefully make the purchase between Christmas and Chinese New Year. Yay!
We are really sure that this is our last (biological) child so we are getting a bit nostalgic about it. Yesterday Jason and I went to probably our "last" ultrasound appointment. We got 100% confirmation that we are having a girl and she put on quite a show for us- tumbling, thumb sucking, waving, kicking.  We got some 3D images that I thought were sweet and Jason thought were freakish looking- so I won't share them.   Now that I don't feel sick I want the pregnancy to slow down, but it feels like November flew by. I am happy to keep her on the inside for a while longer, because I know it's going to be a bit crazy once she's with us on the outside.

Monday, November 26, 2012

My Early Christmas Present

Hong Kong has quite a few Starbucks, but none in the area I live in (the nearest one to my house is 30 minutes). The mall close to us to quite "local" and so many times I have just wished for a place to meet a friend for coffee.  It should be open by the end of the year. Josiah and Annette know I am really excited because every time we pass the sign they shout, "Mommy your Starbocks!!"

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Party!

At Back to School Night Josiah's teacher had sign- ups for various parties throughout the year. Jason nudged Emily and I and urged us that we "had" to do the Thanksgiving party since we are the Americans. ICS, being an American school, does celebrate Thanksgiving although often the kids eat chicken wings and sushi rolls at their feast! (: 
Emily and I first taught a lesson to both R1 classes that included a story, some songs and a Thanksgiving game. 
Then came the "feast." I made a small turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry and rolls while Emily brought the sweet potatoes, corn, apples and pumpkin pie- yum! The kids didn't think it was as yummy as I did, but it was an experience.

 I am so thankful that Josiah can go to a school- that regardless of the culture, holidays or food- he can cultivate a heart of gratitude to God. Happy Thanksgiving!!

A Comment on Comments

 I just figured out that I can remove the annoying and sometimes challenging word identification option when people leave comments. I know my friend tried 6 times the other day to comment, but some of those "words" are impossible to read!  Anyways, hope this makes life easier, 'cause I love hearing from you!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Learning to be Home

Recently Josiah surprised me with the question, “Mom, when are we going to move to a new house? We have lived in his one for sooo lo-ng” (he whines in a Chinese accent). We have lived in our house now for about 4 months, which to be fair is longer than we stayed in any one place last year. 

But his question was probing to me and resonated with something that I have been wrestling with this fall- home. Neither Jason or I (or Josiah for that matter) are homebodies. At all. We love to get out and nearly go crazy if we are inside too long. Since we sold our house and cars in LA over 6 years ago we intentionally have turned our back on the “American Dream” of bigger and better. A temporary mindset and small living quarters have kept us from investing much into “home”. 

Also, being home with little ones is hard for me because I often feel like I am getting nothing done, in fact things seem to get “undone”. The natural course of events with a 2 and 4 years old is for things to go from order to disorder (sometimes at break neck speed). So home can feel like a place of never ending, ever- accumulating work. . . dishes, laundry, spills, smudges etc . . . 

But lately I’ve been wanting more out of “home”. I desire home to be a place of rest. A place that nurtures creativity and loving relationships, where learning and lifelong habits are formed. I’m not really sure how to get to this place. I think it must have to to in part with letting go, and learning to relax, laugh and live in a home even when there are fingerprints on the sliding doors and crumbs on the floors. I also want to be more intentional about creating special memories that we share at home. If anyone has any thoughts I’d love to hear them, since we do not feel called to be nomads- in spite of Josiah’s itching to up and move. (: 
Chilling at home this weekend in the kitchen by our new Christmas tree

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Po Po Encounters

One group of people I just love in Hong Kong are the old PoPos (Grandmas). They all dress the same, smile easily and seem to share the same quality of being a little, well, overbearing. They are quick to squeeze a cheek and scold a thumb sucker or child not wearing shoes (we would know).  Almost always they don’t speak English and they call the kids, even Josiah “bb”- baby in Cantonese.  To Annette right now being a baby is the biggest insult in the WORLD.

So today in the grocery store a PoPo comes up to Annette who is sitting the cart. No surprise, she flashes a toothy smile and say “ay, bb!” Annette who has had enough of this shouts (for the whole store to hear), “I’m not a BABY, I’m a BIG GIRL!!! YOU’RE a baby!!” as she points her finger at the PoPo. It is moments like these where I’m so glad meaning gets somewhat lost in translation. The PoPo just laughed and shuffled along.

Annette definitely knows how to embarrass me, like the other day when she exclaimed in a crowded elevator, “Mommy, whose stinky?!” Of course I didn’t answer her, so she had to ask over and over again until the doors opened!
Here is Annette with our favorite PoPo. We have known here for years and she has sort of adopted Josiah and Annette as her Grandkids. Last week she walked all the way out to our house to come for tea. Doesn't she look good for 84?  

Sunday, November 11, 2012


 I tutor students in Kowloon Tuesday evening and Saturday mornings. It has become a tradition for Saturday mornings to be fun day with dad. Typically he takes the kids on spontaneous outings that they love. They usually come home with smudged faces and fast food in their tummies, but hay-its only once a week- and they love time with their Papa. This week I returned home to the sound of power tools and Jason and kids in the middle of a wood making project on our dining table (where else can he do it really?) It made me laugh, because things are so different when daddy's on duty (:

That afternoon we took a walk/ bike ride down to the beach. The weather is so comfortable now and the kids made sand castles while I people watched. I noticed an old lady out swimming wearing a "facekini". I had read that these are a craze in China, as people try to keep the sun off their face. If any of my American friends or family are wishing for one for Chritmas, let me know! I'll hook you up.