Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Jeshurun's Haiku

I love homeschooling!  The sky's the limit!

Here's my 5 1/2 year old's haiku (in my handwriting)  :)

And, here's the poet's own illustration!  So fun!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Lessons From Spiders

Last week, as I began my morning ritual with a hit of the snooze button, an eventual getting out of bed, a turning on of the coffee pot and a quick trip to the toilet, I met someone hiding in my bathroom, ready to give me a heart attack.

As I turned the toilet paper roll that morning, a giant Huntsman spider leaped out of the cardboard middle and raced up the tile wall.  I shrieked (of COURSE!) and took note that Treavor wasn't around to save me as he usually does.  I ran into the kitchen, grabbed the mop and re-entered the bathroom with murder in mind. 

If you didn't click on the link above, I need to tell you that this guy was the size of my hand, hairy, and eerily quick-paced.  These types of spiders move like little crabs, side-to-side, and FAST!  But, this wasn't my first rodeo...the first week in our new house here in the country, we encountered this guy in the same bathroom:

Huntsman spider
The same spider - on the tile wall.  See the shower head at the bottom on the pic - and then the spider on the wall on the upper middle of the pic.  He was huge! 

Treavor fought this guy off with the same mop head I used to attack the spider that scared me last week.  After a couple strikes (these guys are fast, I told you that, right?)...Treavor chopped him in half.  Didn't I tell you he was my superhero?

One half of the spider's body

The other half - with creepy head attached. 

Back to the story...after more shrieking, numerous strikes from my mop, and a ceiling tile almost falling down, I had my victory.  The spider curled up in defeat, and I was joyous!  As he took a spin in the toilet bowl and exited the house, I shouted "YES!" exuberantly to the air and enjoyed the sweet taste of triumph over my fears and over the disturbed peace that had pervaded my morning up to that fateful point.

There is a point to this story, if not to just make you wish you didn't live with us and our over sized spidery housemates...

Today, I observed this little guy jumping and skipping over my window pane:

He, as opposed the the gigantic Huntsman spider, was about 1/2 inch large.  He does not bother me.  I am sure that he has frequented my piles of dirty laundry, my food cabinet, my sneakers, and has probably tucked himself under our bed covers.  When these pop out from behind things, I do not scream and shout and pray in tongues, I do not run for the mop and ask God for the agility to give it an early death.  He is small, and I feel so much bigger than him. 

Even though the Huntsman spiders that monthly give me a scare and the jumping spiders that inhabit my windowsills eat their fair share of insects, I favor one over the other.  I know there are fewer flies, mosquitoes and creepy-crawlies in my house because of them.  They are both "beneficial" and not a danger to me...and even could be considered a "help" to my life.  But, one is welcome, while the other is shunned and obliterated.  Why is that?

Though I don't usually think deeply about Arachnids, I am reminded of their similarity to trials in my life.  As long as I am not too inconvenienced or threatened, I don't mind a little trial here and there. 

The verse from James 1:2 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds..."  

...seems do-able, right?  I don't mind annoying or needy people if I encounter them once a week on my trip to the store.  I can easily forget them when I walk away.  Or, if I endure the trial of a mild cold or headache - it is gone tomorrow or in a few days.

But, what about a needy person who LIVES with me.  I can think of three little people right now... ;)

What about a chronic illness?  A financial debt that seems insurmountable?  A car that breaks down on the way to an important meeting?  Do we find it so easy to "consider it pure joy" then?

Do we treat trials like these (and there are countless more) as something to strike at and drive from our homes or our lives?  Even if enduring them is...dare I say...beneficial?

Today, I am asking God to remind me, and everyone reading, about the mystery of joyfully persevering through trials - big or small.  If you want to read more about this little nugget of biblical wisdom, click here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Two New Beginnings

Neighbor update: In the last 5 days, FOUR new kids have moved just next-door to us.  God is providing new people, new relationships for us where we have lost dear ones.  The little boy, pictured below with Huy and Run, has come to play a few times and is getting along nicely with our kids.  He's five years-old, like Run, and is pretty amiable.  We are so thankful!

Ahn, with Huy and Run enjoying Popsicles after playing outside and washing Daddy's motorbike!
Gardening Update: Day 8 of the herb garden.  Finally, everything I planted has started at least one hopeful sprout!  The two types of Basil (Sweet and Genovese) are doing nicely!  This planting experience is so much more encouraging than my first one, 4 months ago.  Most of my seeds were stolen by birds and chipmunks, and the Thai Basil that has survived is a daily banquet for the grasshoppers.  There is hope on the horizon!

Day 8 of the seedling adventure.  I added two more pots since the first post: more Thyme and Dill for the next time I'm pregnant and crave homemade pickles.  :)

Genovese Basil sprouts on the 8th day.  Can't you just taste the Bruschetta?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Vintage Bathing Suit

Yesterday on our day off, the Nick and Steph crew invited us to travel down to the coast for a little frolic in the sand.  Oh...and McDonald's afterwards.  How could we decline?

This Bugs Bunny bathing (circa 1983) was what I wore almost 27 years ago!  It ain't classy - but it's sooo cute.  Now, Kyla gets to sport it!

Eating fresh mango - the current favorite.

You wanna take my picture AGAIN?

Jed likes his mango with a healthy dollop of sand. 

Sand-castlin' with Lily, Sam, Huy and Treav

Sally sells seashells by the seashore...

Want one?
BTW: the suit had Babs Bunny on the back.  Can it GET any cooler?

This is the best picture I could get out of these highly-distractable 5 year-olds.  Run and his buddy, Elliot!

What does your perfect day off look like?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Adventures in Gardening

I realize that I'm not very original in this post, having just read in at least five different places about people's budding new gardens (pun very obviously intended). But I just have to share about the newest project I started at our house: an herb garden! 

Check out the spread:

To the untrained eye, these would appear to be simple seed packets; ordinary things easily found in any well-stocked grocery store or back-yard garden.  To someone native to my neck-of-the-woods, most are quite hard to find.  My friend, Stephanie, brought them back from her trip to America, and it felt like Christmas!

To me, these represent creations, meals or memories that have yet to occur: fresh spaghetti sauce, homemade insect repellent, an aromatic table display, or authentic salsa stuffed into naan-bread tacos.

They will birth beauty, nourishment, hands-on homeschooling, and responsibility in me and my children. 

And, it will simply be, FUN!

I'm starting with them all in medium-sized containers to house my seedlings.  Once they are strong enough, the plan is to transplant them into my garden or in various pots all around the porch, especially the ones that naturally repel mosquitoes!  My front door will be surrounded by Thyme for purely that reason!  Here, malaria and dengue is quite common, so it is best to be on the offense against it!

BTW: side note: who knew cilantro seeds were so HUGE!?  I opened up the package and blinked a little in response.

To label these babies, I've been on the look-out for cute little plant-labeler-thinga-majiggers.  But, to my dismay, none could be found!  Instead, I chose the "greener" (is that a legit word now?) route and used some plastic knives instead.  To some, it might be tacky, but to me, it saves a trip to the store and saves money on something that I'd have to find at a fancy home-decorating store (IE: over-priced imports!).

What are you growing lately?  Any gardening tips for novices like me? 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

10 Things I Like Today

1.  Anniversary Flowers!  I got two dozen of these babies on Sunday!  They make me smile today!

2.  The Amazing Race Finale!  I know we're watchin' it late...but I can't wait to see if my team wins!

3.  Cheap stuff at the market.  I got a cute little sweater for $3 bucks tonight.  New.  Awesome.

4.  Friends to cry with.  Thanks, View!  She didn't even give me a weird look.  Crying makes Thais uncomfortable, btw. 

5.  My Ergo baby carrier.  Don't leave home without one.

6.  The smell of potting soil mixed with sweet, falling rain. 

7.  Actually finishing the dishes.  In one day.  Not strung out over two or three...or four days.  (Am I the only one who does this?  I sure hope not.) 

8.  Watching a family of crazy lizards/salamanders/snake-like looking reptiles sunning themselves on the back porch during breakfast.  My boys climbed on the counter and watched the backyard like it was National Geographic.  Not a dull moment here.

9.  The moment those boys go to bed. 

10.  Can I hear an "Amen" for quiet, as a result of #9?  AMEN!

What did you like about your day today?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

7 years ago, yesterday, I married the love of my life!

Treavor gave me part of my anniversary gift, our wedding photos!  (He's currently at the photo shop getting them printed and framed: the other part of my gift.)  When we moved here 2 yrs and 3 months ago (wow, time flies), I thought for SURE that I had packed our wedding photo CD in our bags.  I wanted to set up our house, and then print new copies and decorate our walls with them.  After finally getting things settled, we realized that I, in fact, had left them in America.  I was crushed. 

So, after talking about it for years now, we finally have them!  Treav's mom found her copy of the CD and Treav hijacked her computer (don't ask me how, I'm not that technologically savvy) and downloaded them straight from her hard drive. 

He showed me them two nights ago, and it was quite fun to reminisce. 

In honor of our anniversary, here are some of those wedding pics to enjoy:

getting ready

I had awesome bridesmaids...they helped me to finish up all the wedding prep as I was locked away in the dressing room.  Here is Christina and Kathryn *anxiously* awaiting their next assignment.

Alisa and Kathryn - and the gorgeous flowers by Rosetree!

The gals.  Valerie, Elizabeth, my sis (and maid-of-honor) Shannon, me, Kathryn, Christina and Alisa
Love this shot.  It makes me smile.  Billy, the Best Man, Ricky and Treav

The guys (and ring-bearer).  MJ, Derek, Billy, Ricky (Treav's brother - then, 4!), Treavor, Aric, Brandon and Billy

My pretty mommy!

My Dad and me walking down the aisle.  It was such a special moment for us!
Robert officiated our wedding.  He was awesome!

We had such a sweet time of worship at the beginning of the ceremony.  The crowd was packed and the singing was loud!


Treavor washed my feet just like Jesus washes His own Bride.  I wonder if there was even a dry eye in the whole place! Treavor was weeping and it wasn't hard for everyone in attendance not to follow suit.

The kiss.  Woohoo!
We had our wedding overlooking the lake and timed the sunset JUST right!

This cake was amazing!  Lisa D made it and surprised me with fondant icing - my favorite! 

Our getaway car.  The car was filled with silly-string, confetti and balloons.  It was quite a sight!

Thanks to my lovely Aunt Patty, we have these pictures!  She took them all!  And, thanks to Treav's mom and my husband, of course, now we have them here with us!  It was the best anniversary gift I could have received this year.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A smelly afternoon

Yesterday as I ran frantic around the house trying to tie-up last minute chores before our youth-group's sleepover, I heard Kyla crying as she woke from her afternoon nap.   I don't know about you - but I usually let her cry a bit while I attempt to finish the last cleaning project I've started.  I'm normally a softy when it comes to her cry, but rarely in cleaning mode. 

With the bathroom thoroughly cleansed, I trudged up the stairs to retrieve my crying daughter.

Door opens.

Smells overwhelm me. 

Eyes adjust.

Catastrophe ensues.

Kyla was standing there in her crib, naked as the day she came into the world, with a big grin on her face.  Not just any grin.  But, the kind of grin that is caked in poo.  You can see where I'm going with this...

My daughter had managed to figure out that only Velcro flaps were keep her from cloth-diaper freedom.  She had taken it off and poo-ed all over the bed sheets, blankets (three!), her precious stuffed seal...and then had (probably laughing glee-fully at this point) smeared it all over the sides of the crib and almost every body part she could find. 



And then, I called in for reinforcements:


While I scrubbed my daughter fiercely in a sudsy warm bath, Treavor dutifully scrubbed the bed with disinfectant and hosed it down outside.  I love my husband.  He is my superhero.

As I managed to remove all remnants of this incident from Kyla's person, I thought of this analogy and it made me sing God's praises:  Was I going to let my daughter wallow in her filth?  Was I just going to hand her a washcloth and baby soap and expect her to do it herself?  NO!  Because I love her, I forgave her, washed her clean and reassured her of my love for her. 

Just like my 10 month old, WE cannot wash ourselves clean of the filth that surrounds our lives.  Our hearts.  Our minds.  Our motives. 

Only our Heavenly Father can truly wash us clean.  He doesn't expect us to be able to do it ourselves.  He forgives us.  And he takes extra care to completely rid us of the effects of our sin. 

Praise God.  I am washed clean today by the blood of Jesus!  I am washed clean today by His word!  His Living Water refreshes me and refreshes others! 

You are clean today if you believe by faith.  Like Kyla (Hallelujah!).  Our God is a good Father who doesn't leave us to ourselves, but is diligent to lead us and take care of our every need.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Lizard, anyone?

Does this look like dinner to you?

I didn't think so.

But, for my neighbors - it is a delectable treat.  Thrown into a frying pan, topped with a spicy curry sauce, it was their feast last night.  No, I'm not kidding.

I grabbed this pic from the wonderful world wide web because I tried to convince Treav to take one, but he was already late on getting back to work.  So, the above will do.

The REAL monitor lizard (click for more) was taller than my 5 1/2 year old.  He was black and yellow-striped, with his legs and feet tied to his body so he wouldn't get away.  I noticed him hanging in the back yard of my neighbor's house, alive, but not even struggling anymore to try and escape his ultimate fate: a *tasty* dish with rice. 

Oh yeah - and he was caught right by our HOUSE!  He probably enjoyed sunning himself on my front porch in the wee hours of the morning little to my knowledge!  He probably got cozy with any assortment of critters that like to crawl around while I ignorantly sleep in the night.  Actually, I kind of like that!  These lizards are fierce rodent-hunters!

I am praising God today that I am not very close with these neighbors.  Otherwise, I might have to actually play the submissive-type and cheerfully eat this reptile in order to honor the hosts.  Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you, Jesus! 

Honesty, people. 

I've eaten snails.  I've eaten frog.  I've eaten blood soup.  I don't know if I'm ready for monitor lizard. 

What's the craziest thing you've ever eaten?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Grace has gone...


I will do a post tomorrow (hopefully!) about the last few weeks...the craziness that they were...but today I will grieve a little and post about a friend who recently moved - while we were on vacation!

I wrote once about my Thai friend, "Grace," who lived next door.  She was very pregnant and having the most horrible time sleeping because of her constant aches and pains.  After praying for her, her aches and pains went away for a few weeks!  God is good!

Well, just a week or so after I posted, she delivered a beautiful nugget of a little girl - without a name.  
Here, it is quite common to wait a while to bestow a name on your child.  Also, most people have a more formal, long name and then their "play name" (usually short, easy to say, and most of the time, very quirky).  I have friends named Rain, Blue, View, Little, Turtle, Eye, Branch, Tree and Air, to name a few.  I love Thai names.  I wish I had one!

So, the little nugget that became my newest next-door-neighbor remained nameless for the first few days of life.  Low and behold, my sweet friend, View, informed me that they were waiting for ME to make my first visit in order to ask me to help give this child her new name.  Me?  Are you kidding?  I was deeply honored.  Then, a huge weight of responsibility fell on me to come up with the perfect name. 

After a few weeks of praying, brainstorming, sharing, offering ideas, names being rejected, and thinking some more...they finally named her Eve (pronounced more like "Ae-wah" because Vs are quite impossible to say for most Thais).  This little cutie will grow up to be a mother to many, a giver of life; and the story of her name will include a quite random account of a white foreigner, a follower of Jesus who helped to shape her destiny, even with just a small thing like a name.  I am thankful for her today.

With this joy comes sadness...

We left on our travelling excursion two weeks ago (see last post), and over the course of our absence, our sweet friends moved away.

The lonely "For Rent" sign hangs in the window of their apartment, and makes me sadder by the day.  I will miss my friend Grace, her little Evie nugget of a newborn, and her two boys that broke my own boys out of their shells and gave them confidence to actually play with Thai nationals.

Hopefully, we will meet again one day!  I am just glad that I have no regrets.  I have shared about the Hope I have in the King of Kings.  I gave.  I loved.  I reached out.  I simply tried.  

And, now, I am letting go...and will dare to start again with new neighbors, with new friends, and with the great possibility that they will lead to new "goodbyes."  

Taa, Huy, Tun and Run
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