Saturday, April 16, 2016

Time is a funny thing. You know how something gets in the distant past to the point where it no longer feels like you, but you looking  at yourself from the outside? I’m starting to feel that way about this blog.

This blog has been a gift to me. I started it the month Josiah was born as a way to share our life with family and friends while overseas. Through the years it has become more than a means of communication. It has been a space where I’ve navigated the waters of motherhood with many waves and ripples along the way. In a “job” with no set hours, evaluations, professional development or salary, I needed a way to process the chaos and mundane of my days. Was I doing a good job, failing miserably? Did my energy from the day amount to anything? This blog helped me to see through the blurry fog of mothering littles and sift out the gold.

Some days with my children felt beautiful and rich, while others were mind- numbing or  just plain exasperating. This blog tells both sides of the story. Through the gift of recording my quirky stories, milestones events, thoughts and (sometimes over- blown) emotions, I was able to savor the moments. Pausing to pound out some words and post a couple photos helped me to treasure the precious, holy moments with my babies, toddlers, preschoolers and children. It cemented small moments in my permanent memory that would otherwise have slipped away, and it gave me a precious written record of this season.

Life moves on. Communication and Social Media change. My role as a mom shifts. The blog posts crawled to a halt and I know that this season for the blog is over. A journal and paper could have never accomplished what this blog did. The other gift this blog gave to me was community. Cheerleaders leaving comments, giving feedback and encouraging our family along the way. I’m so grateful for the friends and family who took time to visit this space. A song writer I admire, Christa Wells, sings “islands are great to visit but I have found we aren’t meant to live alone.” I’m so thankful for those who reminded me I was wasn’t alone even on days when I never left the house. Thank you.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Lantern Festival

 I seems I can not NOT post photos from the Mid- Autumn Festival. I'm just a sucker for lanterns, moons and cute kiddos. This year Josiah's "lantern" was a sword, Annette chose a bunny and Annabelle picked "ducky."

 Yep, I got a glowing head band too. . . .

 We met a group of friends at the park where the kids ran around and the adults sampled Starbuck's Mooncakes. Here is a rare moment of Annette and Yuna not in motion.

 This is my favorite photo from the night, Annabelle looking at the huge moon. It was a cloudy night so she kept pointing out that the moon was "playing peek- a- boo"!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

I'm still alive. . . .

I can feel that I am beginning to emerge from survival mode a bit. This weekend I baked pumpkin bread, dusted off my guitar, exercised (for 7 whole minutes) and remembered that I had a blog. It was fun to engage in activities that were not related to keeping my head above water at home or at school. With just a few exceptions, the transition back to teacher after a 7 year hiatus has been almost pure joy. I love the productivity, creativity, and community (both with the little and big people at the school). I get excited Sunday night because I get to go to my classroom the next day. I know. it’s totally obnoxious to Jason.   

We had a bumpy introduction to life with a domestic helper (long story short, she was too sick to work) but God sent great friends to  smooth out the wrinkles. We now have a wonderful new helper named Mildred (she deserves her own post on another day). Annabelle really likes Mildred and is very happy when we leave the house and come home. There is so much grace in this. I had so many fears about “leaving” Annabelle. Several times I almost didn’t take the job because of them. I really felt God prompting me to never “hide behind my children” and to move forward in faith. Now on the other side of the change, I’m so glad I took the leap. 

I’ve always thought teaching at ICS was my dream job (husband is there, kids are there, great pedagogy, strong Christian values etc) EXCEPT for all the rich kids. It is not uncommon for my students to have multiple maids and drivers. I get emails from parents’ personal secretaries and the paparazzi has been staked outside the school this year. I have always had a heart for the poor and LOVED teaching in two low- income, immigrant schools in Los Angeles. So, I have often struggled with teaching this demographic in Hong Kong. I have questioned the "mission" circle on the diagram above, wondering if the world needs what I am doing. I tend to feel that even without me they will be just fine. That even if I flop as a teacher that their private tutors will make up the slack. That I’d be making more of an impact teachings kids who are otherwise failing and without a chance.

The first day of school God shifted my thinking. I was reading a picture book aloud to the class called “If Kids Ran the World.” The book describes a world where everyone has enough to eat, a house to live in, is kind to each other etc. It paints a picture of a world where the air is clean and no trash litters the ground. After the story a bright- eyed student raised his hand to share that when he grows up he wants to talk to China so they’ll stop polluting the air. 

Then it hit me. These kids ACTUALLY could do that. Many of their parents own those factories in China. In fact, these trilingual, gifted, international children are well positioned to change Hong Kong, China and the world.  Every day we close our class by singing the song “Make Me a Servant.” It gives me goosebumps as they sing, thinking about what God could do with their lives of influence if they lay them down to serve Him and others. 

I still love teaching poor children and hope that someday I will have that privilege again. But for now my students walk into room 410 every day with a sign on front that reads “1D  World Changers.”  And I actually believe it. 

(I didn't feel that this blog post would be complete without some of Annabelle's cuteness)

Monday, June 1, 2015

New Season

(Me reading to Josiah's class this spring at Book Character Day) 

As a little girl the first thing I can remember wanting to be was a mommy. After that I wanted to be a teacher. Always. I loved playing school and have been hooked on teaching since the first time I got up in front of a class. I taught full time for six years before having kids and now have been a stay- at- home mom for seven years. I’m so incredibly thankful that I was able to just focus and enjoy teaching and motherhood fully.  I feel that now is the time to bring my two passions together.

I have accepted a job to teach 1st grade next year. The decision was not one I came to easily and took months of consideration. Now that the next school year looms before me I feel mounting excitement about the year ahead. Jason, Josiah, Annette and I will all attend the same school at the same time. This is such a dream scenario for me. Josiah will also be in 1st grade (but not in my class) and Annette will be just down the hall in P1. We can all commute together and Jason and I will even have the same lunch hour! 

Another change that this will bring is adding Flora to our family. Flora is a domestic helper from the Philippines. She is a sweet Christian lady that we have known for 8 years. We are so thankful that she has agreed to come live with us. Flora will take care of Annabelle during the day, taking her to playgroups and occasionally to school to join us for lunch. Flora will also do all the cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping and housework so that at the end of the day we can just have family time. 

I’m sure there will be some big adjustments ahead, mainly for Annabelle and I as we settle into a new routine. I’m so thankful for the chance to work with great colleagues in a school where we can share Jesus with our students. Knowing I won’t be home next year has helped me to more fully appreciate and savor the days I do have with my kids and make the most of them. It was encouraging at church last week a woman was praying for me who knew nothing of my current situation. She told me that she saw a picture of a door in front of me and the Lord was saying to just open the door and walk through it . . . (big breath) here I go. . . 

(These photos are some of the precious mornings moments with my girls this year)

Friday, May 1, 2015

7th Birthday Campout

Josiah has been planning and anticipating his birthday party for months. The first words out of his mouth the day of his party were, "Mom, I figured out what to do for my 11th birthday party" (11th because he had already planned his 8th, 9th, and 10th). Whew! Ideas and fun are never in short supply for Josiah. We loved his idea to have a camping birthday party and he picked 4 special buds to join along. 
 Uncle Mike is here for a one week visit from California and his involvement totally doubled the fun!

 We gave the boys their camouflage hats and a compass. As Jason guided them around the village he stopped at each turn and they had to use their compass to go east, west . . .
 Their compasses guided them up a hill from our house where Jason and Mike had set up a target. The boys had a blast shooting the bow and everyone hit the target. We kept joking with them that they were going to hunt for their dinner. When one of Josiah's arrows went in to the grass he said, "I guess I'll have to eat vegetables!"

Next they found fishing "rods" and navigated their way to the pier where they got fishing line, hooks and worms. Now I know to have a successful birthday party for 7 year old boys all you need are live worms. 

 From there we built a bonfire on the beach where the hungry campers cooked their dinner (most relieved they didn't need to catch or kill it).

 Annabelle got so dirty!
We returned to the house for "dirt" cake and more worms. After opening presents the boys watched a movie and eventually settled into sleep in the tent we'd set up on the rooftop. 
This photo is 6 am when I found the boys happily playing soccer cards. They didn't know how long they'd already been up by then. Sleep was not the main event of this party.

 The next morning we had planned to go kayaking but there were some scattered showers so a big water fight and soccer game rounded out the party. Happy Birthday to our happy camper!! We love all the joy and adventure you bring to each day!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Spring Break

This was the first Spring Break we've stayed in Hong Kong without having a baby!! I must say, it does make for a different experience. This has not been the year of travel for us, in fact we will have not left Hong Kong once between summer trips to America. That is a first. But 5 plane tickets are expensive and between having a car and living in a "beach house" we really enjoy our holidays in HK.  We all went into the break a bit sick and worn down, but were much refreshed by the end. 
 We had a Mom's Group Easter egg hunt and BBQ at a country park.

 Josiah's' Easter "bucket" sums him up pretty well. In addition to his plastic eggs he collected a clam shell, mushroom and half- alive cicada. That's our out- of- the- box nature boy.

 Annabelle got a scooter for her birthday and she's pretty zippy on it.
 April1st was a lot of fun. We had planned this day to take the kids to go to Ocean Park. The morning of Jason sat the kids down and explained to them that there is a bat with rabbis in Hong Kong and all kids that live in villages must get shots. He said they have to get the number of shots corresponding to their age (6, 5, and 2). Josiah and Annette were very serious about this and quit distressed as you can imagine. We then drove down to Hong Kong island to the "special shot hospital". It wasn't until we were pulling into Ocean Park that Jason said "April Fools!"All day Josiah kept saying, "you got us good dad!"

 We had a really fun day including pandas, sharks, sting rays, penguins, roller coaster, cable cars and ice cream. We bought annual passes so we will be back to see the koalas another day.

Josiah really wanted to do a dissection over the break so we bought a squid at the wet market and Jason (former biology teacher) helped the kids dissect it then fry and eat it. I don't make this stuff up people. Next time they're planning to buy a frog. 

 On Good Friday we had a family time focusing on Jesus that included foot washing and sharing communion. It was sweet to see Annabelle really into it.

We enjoyed the gorgeous weather at Clear Water Bay, a new- to- us beach that is easy to drive to with free parking. Needless to say, we'll be going back. 

 Easter morning we were greeted to this sunrise. It was such a beautiful display of God's glory. We also made resurrection rolls and ate yummy strawberries from Santa Maria, California. The strawberries were a personal blessing to me because I also miss "home" over Easter and this year was the last Easter service my dad will  conduct as a pastor (he's about to retire from 40 years of ministry). He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!