Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Kyla's First Birthday BASH!

MMM....what a great way to enter the second year of life - with pink cupcakes, friends, and lots of fun!

We spent last Thursday night with friends, neighbors, and even complete strangers - celebrating Kyla Jubilee's 1st birthday! 

All the planning, cooking, cleaning, preparing, hot glue-ing, shopping, buying, inviting, sweeping, and icing culminated so wonderfully with a dinner party at our house.  Our front porch was full of people and by the end of the night, we could have had 20 more people come and eat to the full.  There was so much food leftover - what a blessing!  Chicken fried rice, spicy chicken salad, sticky rice, noodles, fruit, baked chicken, pink chocolate cupcakes...it was a feast, for sure.

There were decorations...

Roses in recycled Pepsi bottles, with food coloring in the water to make it pink!  (Though, in this light it definitely looks orange)...

See, there you go, pink water!

This poster was so fun to make!  I printed out 6 photos of each kid and mixed 'em all up to test everyone.  Tricky tricky...Can you guess correctly?

This was also really fun to make.  We usually take monthly (on their "birth" day - her's: the 23rd) pics of each kid for the first year of life.  Here's all of Kyla's!

My sweet friend, View, wrote the translations to everything in Thai below the English.  So fun!
There were loads of people...

My best friend, Steph, and one of my closest Thai friends, Taa.

Our friend, P. Kiaw, made the banquet of that night possible.  YUM! 
Our other friend, P. Nit jumped in to all the cooking prep and serving.  She is awesome! 
Princess Lily and the birthday girl
Half of the guests got into pairs and played a game where they each called to Kyla (in her walker-chair) - in an effort to woo her to them.  Did she end up favoring anyone in particular?...

NO!  She stared at everyone making such a fuss, and then pushed herself backwards almost into the yard.  It was quite a sight!  After about 4 or 5 rounds, everyone gave up.  She's a cutie, but she's also stubborn!
After leftovers had been bagged and handed out to everyone, the guests left way after dark, and it was already bedtime.  In Thai culture, it is generally more polite to thank guests for gifts and open them everyone has left - you are considered "hot-headed" and almost greedy if you open it right away and make a big deal of it (as we Americans love to do, with everyone watching!)  So, we bathed the kids and let Kyla rip into her presents!  She, actually, could care less, but her brothers wouldn't let her go to sleep without finding out what kind of goods she got!  ;) 
Opening presents after baths.
At then end of the day, we praised God for our little Kyla.  Her name means "beauty," "crown of victory," and "sweetheart."  She is all those things to us! 

We can't wait to see what's in store for her this year: new words, first steps, being bi-lingual (we HOPE!), her first trip to America, meeting her extended family for the first time...and who knows how many countless other things...

The best is yet to come!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Critters For Playmates

Most of my sons' playmates can fit in their hands...

Jeshurun with a green-eyed dragonfly a few nights ago

Red Weaver ants.  I kid you not, he let's them crawl on him sometimes.  Other times, he smashes them to bits.  They are about 3/4 of a inch long and bite like crazy.  I'd rather he'd kill every one he sees.  Since we have several thousand in our yard, he wouldn't be doing much to damage the local population, just preserving my sanity.

Huy, on the other hand, loves snails.  Snails are slow, easy to catch and definitely not a threat.  It is funny how each boy flocks to insects of a similar personality...hmmm...

Run and the beloved "spiky bugs" as they have been informally called.  They play with these daily and let them crawl all over them.

The "spiky bug" - looks more like a weird elephant to me.
Just kidding.  Though, if they could find a way to tie up their pinchers and tail, they'd play with these guys, too!

Can you find the toad?  Right under the rake!  He's huge!  Toads and frogs are always hiding out in my watering cans, under leaves and in our sneakers!  I literally cannot count how many of these guys the boys have caught and held, made a home for, or put in the basket on their bikes for a ride around the yard.  Eeew!

What a weird one.  The beetle.  And, the boy, too!
If I had pictures of all the giant millipedes, the moths, butterflies, praying mantises, spiders, beetles, lizards, salamanders, crickets, and grasshoppers that they have played with over the 11 months here in our house in the country, this page would take forever to load and you surely would get bored eventually.

Even though I'm often weirded out by their choice of play, it is fun to have a place that never ceases to amaze or entertain them, right outside the front door!  Thank you, Jesus, creating a world so full of life!

What fascinates your child?  Do they have a healthy obsession with something?  Something that makes them want to learn everything there is to know about it?  Feel free to share in the comments below...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Shark Teeth And Other Happenings

Yesterday was Father's Day!

Happy belated Father's Day to everyone who is a Dad, a Dad-who's-expecting, a Grandpa, a god-father, an Uncle, or just a really awesome guy who fathers other people to wholeness.  THANK YOU for all that you are and all that you do!

This week, there was a lot that went on.  What better way than to re-cap with some pictures.  Since they're worth a thousand words already, I can save some time and some mental energy by posting them.  Laziness at it's finest, folks. 

Jeshurun has "shark teeth."  Did you know this?  His first adult tooth came in this week, but BEFORE the baby one fell out!

His smile, "before" the baby tooth got pulled.

We decided to take him to our dentist friend to get the front teeth pulled so his tooth would have some extra room.  Apparently, sometimes the baby teeth never fall out and people are left with two rows of teeth!  Even with his new lisp, he feels more like 15 than 5.  Having your first adult tooth does that to a boy.

Run's smile "after" the teeth pulling.  He's so cute I could squeeeeeze him!
We got lots of extra play time with Sammy, Lily, Elliot and Jed this week!  One of the fun things we did was make cool name-tag bracelets out of construction paper and pipe cleaners.
Run and Lily are practically inseparable.  Considering they are 5 and 6, we're not too worried.  But, in a few years a good DTR might be in order.  :)
Treavor joined in on the fun and led "Head and Shoulders"...

...and taught the kids "P.E."  Push-ups, sit ups, stretches, jumping jacks...it was quite a sight!
The "big kids" and I learned about atoms, molecules and materials.  Then, we went on a "materials" hunt all around the house.

We read The House at Pooh Corner and the kids did their own illustrations while they listened.

Later that day, we watched an old-school Winnie The Pooh movie.  They didn't like it.  One bit.  As you can see, they were very dis-interested!
The kids and I made our own play-dough.  They all chose their own colors and mixed them into the dough.  Here's Elliot proudly displaying his pink cave!

Want to make your own play-dough?  It is really simple!

Homemade Play-Dough (recipe from my Sonlight curriculum)

Mix 1 cup flour, 1 cup water, 1/2 cup salt, 1 tablespoon oil, and 2 tablespoons cream of tartar into a pan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture forms a ball.  Cool on waxed paper. Knead food coloring into a ball when cool enough to handle.  Store in a sealable bag.  Will keep for several weeks if stored properly.

We ended our fun time with a puppet show.  They made up a story about monsters, princes and princesses, moving kingdoms, dying and such.  They are a hilarious and creative little bunch!

How have you been making the summer special so far?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

10 Things I Like Today

#5.  These adorn my front porch!
1.  Party planning.  Kyla's 1st birthday is 1.5 weeks away and my mind is swimming.  In a good way.  My endless thoughts include images of pink cupcakes, polka-dots, roses and photo collages.  I am SO excited!

2.  Treav's new hat (looks something similar to this).  He is so fly.  Is it still cool to say "fly"?  I obviously wouldn't know...

3.  The smell of decaf coffee wafting from the kitchen.  Thanks, Tiffany!

4.  Finally hanging up pictures, my clock, a shelf, etc. downstairs.  Did I mention we've lived here for 10 months already?  That's why it is somewhat of an accomplishment!

5.  New baby orchid blooms. 

6.  That God is enough for me.

7.  New notebooks.  Does anybody else just LOVE the smell and look of a clean, spankin' new spiral notebook?  You can read about it's purpose, here.

8.  This website: http://orgjunkie.com/ The look of this site is awesome!  It inspires me!

9.  Impromptu dinner dates with friends.  I love Stephanie, View and P. Nit!  It was kind of a girls' night out...with 7 children.  So, kind of not...but the closest to a girls' night that we've ever had!

10. The time when my husband finally comes home.  I can breathe again.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ode to Mosquitoes

An Ode to Mosquitoes
Pioneer Woman style (a list of haikus)...

lovely mosquito
why is it that you like me
and cause me much pain?

quit buzzing my ear
i'm trying hard to swat you
but you're too dang small!

quietly perching
on my bare legs so softly
tearing into flesh

quickly i slap at
your stealthy and frail body
splat! you're dead! oh joy!

though, it seems to be
in vain because you've chosen
to invite the fam!

i slap and i hit
seething and wond'ring why I
came outside at all. 

mosquito, my friend
why don't you die and cause this
torture meet it's end?

- signed, the woman who foolishly chose to pull weeds near dusk only to meet a crafty swarm of blood suckers who apparently saw me as a waiting banquet.  my itchy and welt-ridden skin will have it's vengeance!  one day!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Tozer, Where Have You Been All My Life?

Today I just finished a classic, The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer.  HOW have I gone this long without reading this awesome book?  I must be insane.  Or, busy.  Or, both.

If you've read it, then you probably agree, and if you haven't you're probably wondering what could be so wonderful?  There's a reason why things are called "classics," right?  Because no matter what time, or season, or country or century you're in, it can speak to you.  This book spoke to me in a major way.

It spoke to me because I am tired of religious babble.  I'm tired of just "making it" every day.  I'm tired of being distracted when I pray.  I'm tired of the constant to-do list of how to be the best Christian I can be running through my head all day.  Do I listen to my kid ramble on again, or do I do the dishes like a good wife?  Do I share with my neighbor through a tract or buy them dinner instead?  Do I teach boldly or just pray humbly for the Spirit to awaken some one's heart on it's own?

And, how can an awesome, mysterious, all-powerful and lovely God suddenly become so boring to me if I am faced with the choice of watching a movie or pressing into His heart through intercession instead?  What makes a "holy" moment "holy?"  Can't life just get a little simpler again like when I was first set free from the shackles of myself? UGH!  I surely am a wretched and hopeless little individual when left out on my own.

After reading this book, I am finding that it is easier to get myself out of the way again and just enjoy Him again.

Oh yeah, and I read it (click for the link) on my new Kindle!  (shifting gears a bit...the following is not an advertisement, but just one of the coolest things I have stumbled upon lately!)...with that said...

A few months ago, we had the opportunity to purchase a Kindle from a conference we were at in Bali, Indonesia.  (Mark, THANK YOU!)  They fronted half the cost, so we gladly paid the rest and deemed it my early birthday present.  :)

Well, if you don't have a Kindle, you don't know that they have all of these classic books for FREE download!  Legal!  Free!  In your hands!  The only thing closer is borrowing them from friends or from the library.  Since we live in Thailand, these two options are almost obsolete.  So, we're left to either pay an obscene amount for books to be shipped here, or I can use my Kindle.  No overdue fees.  Great books.  I'm a sucker for free stuff.

I downloaded The Pursuit of God for free, Treasure Island for free, Jane Austen books for free...awesome!  Anyway, obviously, all of Kindle's books are not free.  But, the ones published before 1923, or titles that are out-of-print, or are selected classics are actually free of charge.  Click here for the link to the listed titles. 

Don't have a Kindle?  Download the Kindle application from the amazon website and use your computer (or IPhone, or Blackberry, etc.) like a pseudo e-book reader. 

There are now no more excuses to NOT be awesomely-frugal.  

And, well read.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Redeeming Our Imaginations

Today is my "personal day".

Don't have one?

You should get one!

Treavor is graciously watching the three little nuggets today as I get extra sleep, extra time with Jesus, extra en-visioned and extraordinarily enjoyable time to myself.  Wow.  For an extreme extrovert (love the "ex-" words?  sheesh...) like me, I never KNEW that I'd need more time alone during the day.  You more secure introverts are shrugging your shoulders right now.  What's the big deal?  Right?

With the addition of children over the years, and the emotional pressures of living in a foreign country, I am finding that sometimes I just need just 5 minutes to myself every now and then.  Just to walk.  Just to read.  Just to dream.  Alone.  By myself.  With no noise.  And no one to have to be "responsible for" for just a few precious moments. 

Throughout my days, I am finding it more and more difficult to remember my first Love, too.  Jesus.  He is with me.  He is my ever-present Help.  He is my Father.  He is my Teacher.  He is my Strength!  These are truths - but they are easily forgotten when my mind is over-run, over-spent with other thoughts.

And, for me, with running a house, homeschooling, learning, cleaning, LIVING, it is too easy for me to lose sight of Him.

This morning as I prayed to be re-fueled yet again, He led me to remember a fun activity to waken up my senses to His presence in my every-day... 

A fun, sweet and very wise gal, Dorothy, once taught a group of women about it: using our imaginations to enter into the Presence of God...and to ultimately be ushered into the reality that He is Emmanuel (God WITH us!). 

How to Awaken your Imagination to the Presence of God: (the Cliff's notes, according to Alina's memory version)

1.  Get in a quiet, undisturbed place.
2.  Pray that God would free up your cluttered mind to hear His Voice only.  Pray that the enemies of our minds; the flesh, the world and the devil - would be silenced.
3.  Close your eyes.
4.  Picture yourself in a free, beautiful, undisturbed place.  (A field ripe with flowers, a mountain-top, an ocean, even a beautifully decorated mansion - whatever you like!)
5.  Now, imagine yourself in that place.  With Jesus. 
6.  Then, let the Holy Spirit lead you through a day, or hour, etc. with Him.  Keep your eyes closed and fix your mind's eye on what He looks like, what He sounds like, what you would do together.  Some people dance!   Some people just want to sit and cry.  Some people will talk and dream together.  Some will sit still and quiet.  It is YOUR own time with Him.

Today, I actually imagined Him with me in a "typical" day at the house.  Kids, husband and all.  Cooking.  Cleaning.  Diaper changing!  He held my hand as we walked down the stairs to start the coffee pot.  He led me through a sweet time of worshipping the Father.  He helped me to bend down and get eye-to-eye with my kids.  He walked with me and the family as we went to order our lunch - teaching me how to share His love with the waitresses and neighbors on my street.  He was with me as I chose to be diligent with my hands and do yet-unfinished projects in my home. 

He was with me.  He was smiling. 

After finishing my sweet time of prayer...He reminded me that this doesn't have to be just a daydream. 
If I truly believe that He is never far, that He hears my every thought and plea for help, that He says that He is "enough," then my dreams can be redeemed and they can fuel my reality.  This isn't a "think it and it will be" sort of idea.  It is a renewing of our minds that His Spirit is literally with us and is HELPING us - wanting to talk with us - never wanting us to feel ALONE in life! 

That was God's original intent: to walk with us, as He did with the first man and woman.  They forsook this intimacy for their own gain, and they lost it all.

I want it back!  Do you?

Try it out today.  Get in a quiet place.  Quiet your mind.  Awaken your heart to His Presence!

Monday, June 6, 2011


As we all start our weeks, take four minutes to fix your gaze on Love and renew your mind to what "worship" really is:

(Saw this posted on FB and love it! Thanks, Rachel!)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

What's Growing Way Over Here

Rose Apples from our backyard
(NOT!) A baby. 

After typing in this post's title, I wondered if anyone would think this was some vague attempt at a baby announcement or something.  It is most definately not.  Though, all the Grandmas in our family are probably bummed now.  Sorry!

Anyway...the green-house feeling that the rainy season brings is sometimes a blessing and a curse.  For people like me, with a black thumb, it is a BLESSING!

Check out what's growing in the yard lately...(or, sort of in my yard...do pots count?):

My painted rose bush blooms once a month, and I promptly pick them and adorn the dining room table.  This is obviously not the dining room table, but I thought I'd capture them in the natural light instead. 
The "vase" they're in is actually a recycled 30 cent Pepsi bottle (sans label).  I think they're so cute that i'm *having* to buy one every now and then to add to my collection of bud vases.  It is a chore, I tell ya. :)

The flowers on this water lily bloom for one day and then fall back into the pond to be replaced by another beautiful bloom the next day.  I can't imagine a better $5 to spend on one plant! 
And, I never have to water it! ;)  That's even better!

The seedlings are showing promise.  My gardener Dad would be so proud that I haven't killed them yet! 

 Can you guess that this is Basil?  Check out the smallest leaves.  Can you guess what that crazy purple smoke is in the top right of this pic?  Yep, neither can I. 

 This cilantro looks more like grass to me right now.  But, hey, I'll take it!

The Dill I planted with seeds from I managed to get from Bangkok is the most prolific right now.  Go figure.  The American seeds are doing well, but Thailand triumphs so far!

 It is amazing that these baby Dills will grow from this to...


Lastly, the storm last week knocked down one of our beloved banana trees, so the bunches on it sat in the mud for a few days.  One of the neighbor kids noticed it and said something to me about it, so Treavor hung it up outside to finish ripening.  That's what the Thais told us to do, so we obey!  I have never taken care of fruit trees in my life, and it such a part of every-day life here for our country friends - so we're always deferring to their advice.   

These are going to make a LOT of banana smoothies, banana bread, and snacks for the kids. 

YES!  One less trip to the store...
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