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Saturday, September 9, 2017

Cora - Three Years Old


This past year was full of big milestones for Cora including becoming fully potty trained (last September), learning to ride a bike with training wheels (January), switching from a crib to a "big girl bed" (February), giving up her pacifier (February), and starting preschool five mornings a week (May). That's a lot for one year!

Some of Cora's favorite things these days include:

Our family. Cora adores each member of our family, even her soon-to-be-born baby brother. She gives snuggles to the baby (aka my belly) every day. When Michael or I come home, she runs to the door, excited to have our family back together. When we drop her off at school, she insists on getting a hug and a kiss. When we pick her up, she comes out of her classroom bouncing and giggling and plasters herself to our legs. Also, she loves her stuffed gray bunny so much, he practically makes the cut as a family member.

Grace. Cora particularly loves Grace. (And Grace loves her back.) She started preschool in May five mornings a week with hardly a tear. We were so impressed by her bravery. Then, Grace was slammed with sickness and missed many days of school in a row. Cora's bravery crumbled quickly and we realized that she was fearless because she knew her big sister was in the same building. Since then, I've noticed more and more just how much she looks up to her big sister, following her and copying her and riding off her bravery. 



Scotch tape. Cora loves taping everything. She even taped a colored pencil to our bathroom door. She also loves stickers, paint, crayons, markers, etc. Besides her art supplies, Cora's favorite toys are Michael's big bucket of Duplos from his childhood, her IKEA train set, and her doctor kit. She wants to be a doctor when she grows up.


Doing everything by herself. It's very difficult to force Cora to do anything she doesn't want to do. But, when she wants to do something on her own (which is often), we cannot intervene or she will scream. She has figured out how to do many surprising things -- like pull in most of our family's laundry from the drying rack, button her school uniform buttons, and peel her own fruit. 

Perfect example of this fierce independence: When she was approaching two years old, she was showing all the classic signs of potty-training readiness, so we attempted to teach her. She utterly refused, so we stopped trying. Then, about three days after we gave up, she decided on her own terms that she was ready and she potty trained herself. Just a month later, we were able to ditch her overnight diapers too!

Provoking us. Cora loves to tease and provoke her big sister... probably because Grace reacts so well. She is by and large a very good kid, but she can be really naughty, doing exactly the opposite of what we tell her to do with a mischievous glint in her eye. She definitely has a strong, classic "threenager" streak in her.

Singing and talking and being silly. Cora's voice is very raspy and cracks a lot. She loves to sing out all the songs she knows, particularly Thai preschool songs, loud in her raspy, unsteady voice. When she acts silly and makes us laugh, she throws her head all the way back, laughing with delight. But, she doesn't talk and sing and joke all the time. Sometimes, she gets lost in her play world of coloring, blocks, and trains and she's absolutely silent for long stretches.



Eating. Cora is tiny. She has been since the day she was born. But, she eats so, so much. Today, she plowed through an entire adult sized portion of chicken and rice plus many pieces of guava for dessert. At the beginning of the school term, her preschool teacher told us almost daily, "She ate two whole bowls of food for lunch!" If only she knew we usually have to give Cora a snack when she gets home too.

Cora, you are one-of-a-kind and we love you just the way you are.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Things I Learned This Rainy Season

We're about halfway through the six month rainy season. Here's what I've learned this rainy season so far...

Fresh lychee is so flavorful.

I'd previously only had the canned stuff that you can put on your frozen yogurt at Yogurtland in Southern California. The fresh fruit has a wonderful, bright, concentrated flavor.



Feeling the baby kick is still the best thing, even the third time around.

Though recently, the kicking has morphed into more of an uncomfortable scraping sensation. I will be so ready for him to get out of me in a few weeks!

You can get great baked goods in Bangkok

My current favorite place: Coffee Beans by Dao. Their lemon meringue pie and cheesecake are exquisite.



Arts and crafts with kids is FUN

The idea of arts and crafts with my kids used to terrify me. I envisioned 20 minutes of mommy prep time for every 5 minutes of kids being busy time followed by 15 minutes of mommy clean up time, scraping Elmer's glue off every surface and glitter out of every orifice. 

Several months ago, I noticed my daughters loved coloring with crayons. So, I threw watercolors in the mix and taught them how to set up painting all by themselves. They loved it. So, I gave them scissors. Then, scotch tape. They now spend at least an hour a day cutting, coloring, painting, and taping. And the best part is, I don't have to do much! They set up their projects by themselves and clean up mostly by themselves. I just have to keep the supplies in a handy drawer. And the final products are amazing, entertaining, and adorable. Or sometimes gross. Here's "poop with dragon fruit seeds in it" done with watercolors.



My 4-yr-old and I have the same hair.



How to cloth diaper the Thai way.

We (mostly) used cloth diapers on our daughters when we were living the U.S. We found them easy enough to use and we loved the cost savings and the planet earth savings. With another baby on the way, a washing machine that only does tepid water, and no clothes dryer, I thought we might have to switch to 100% disposable diapering with the new baby. Boo!

Then, at our girls' preschool, I noticed a mom had her baby in cloth diapers. I began asking her all about them and she taught me how to cloth diaper the Thai way using one large, thin, square cloth folded up. I plan to try to use our old, cloth diapers from the U.S., but if they just don't come clean here, it's good to know the tried and true Thai method.

I can buy fried cocoons and fried crickets at my local market and my friends tell me they taste good

But, I think I will stick with the grilled fish, tropical fruits, pad thai, fried chicken, etc. Thank you.



The green pastures of Psalm 23 do not refer to lush meadows but to arid hills

And the sheep need the shepherd to lead them from tuft to tuft of grass so that they have enough to eat. This imagery of constant reliance on God fits the realities of my life so much better than the imagery of resting in a green buffet. This video is such a good watch.

Heat + humidity + pregnancy = exhaustion 

I don't remember feeling this worn out either previous pregnancy. As my pregnancy progresses, I set our AC lower and lower to give myself the energy boost I need.

Finding a Thai name for our son is hard.

We've had our son's first name chosen since June, but really we've liked the name since I was pregnant with our first kid five years ago! As for the middle name, we wanted to give our son a Thai middle name to celebrate his 1/4 Thai heritage, his upcoming birth in Thailand, and the fact that he will likely spend a lot or all of his childhood here. But, most names sounded a bit too strange to an English speaker's ear or had strange meanings. 

Last week, we sat down to talk about his middle name and within just 15 minutes, we stumbled upon a name we love. We'll let you know what it is when he arrives!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Unplug


"I am noticing that the more I fill my life with the convenience of technology, the emptier I become in the places of my deepest longing.

"I long for the beauty and substance of being in the presence of those I love, even though it is less convenient. 

"I long for spacious, thoughtful conversation even though it is less efficient. I long to be connected with my authentic self, even though it means being inaccessible to others at times.

"I long to be one who waits and listens deeply for the still, small voice of God, even if it means I must unplug from technology in order to become quiet enough to hear." 

~ Ruth Haley Barton "Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation"


I'm always learning and re-learning this one. You too?

May God form us into people who are strangely forgetful of our devices and who are present to our spouses, our children, our friends, our work, our passions & longings, and the still small voice of God.

Amen.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Celebrating Small Victories

"I worked so hard today, I got nothing done, and I am so tired."

This was the constant complaint out of my mouth for the first half of 2016 as we adjusted to life in a new country. In California, we operated fluently in the language, culture, and everyday life. When we moved, we stripped away most of our competency. In Thailand, everything was (and is) foreign and new. We worked hard those first months to complete the simplest tasks. The systems are different here, so moving required constant learning for several months.

At the end of most days, complaints were on my lips. "Michael, can you believe it took me three hours to get the grocery shopping done? I could do it in a little over an hour back at home with both kids in tow." "Michael, I only got in an hour of Thai study today because Cora wouldn't nap!" "Michael, today I got nothing done."



Enter: the outlook changing practice of acknowledging and celebrating small victories.

After a few months of complaining, we decided to begin talking about all we accomplished rather than all that we didn't get to that day. We would take turns most evenings. One of us would list out for the other all we did and the other acknowledged the hard work that went into each of those victories no matter how small.

Our lists were simple, "Today, I reviewed my Thai tutoring session, learned where to buy the shoes Grace needs for preschool, and called my mom." (Though I must admit, it took at least a month to reach that level of productivity in a single day!)

When we acknowledged the hard work that went into even a small victory, at the end of the day, we felt proud. We felt grateful each evening for the progress we had made in learning to operate in a new language and culture.


Even today, we sometimes feel frustrated and tired at the end of a day or week that appears to be fruitless. So, when we notice our hearts bending toward dissatisfaction and complaint, we stop to acknowledge and celebrate small victories together.

For you, it may not be moving around the globe with little children that has taken away your competency. But, there may be something else that has stolen your ability to produce -- becoming a parent, starting a new job, coping with chronic physical or mental illness, etc. So, I encourage you. When you are able, try listing out your victories, large and small, to a friend or even to yourself. I hope it's a game changer for you too.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Third Kid

We're anticipating the arrival of our third kid in about three months. I've noticed some pretty major differences between pregnancy with the first, second, and third baby. For instance...

Ultrasound pictures

Baby #1 - Newest ultrasound pic is always on the fridge

Baby #2 - Forget the ultrasound pics at the OB's office. Have to go back in to get them. Once home, they eventually go on the fridge... I think.

Baby #3 - Ultrasound printout turns into scratch paper for big sisters' butterfly project.



Naming the Baby

Baby #1 - Start talking about names well before you know the gender. It takes months, lists, perhaps even an excel spreadsheet and a couple arguments.

Baby #2 - Realize your baby grows into whatever name you give it, so just choose something you both like. Decision relatively painless.

Baby #3 - Don't even mention names until you know the gender. When you find out the gender (boy!), choose the baby's name in one 20-minute sitting.

Levels of Tiredness

Baby #1 - Tired.

Baby #2 - Tireder.

Baby #3 - I'm gonna die.

Baby Moon

Baby #1 - Baby moon spent at a B&B in a quaint, artsy little town on California's central coast having long conversations over lattes, touring a mansion, and taking lots of pictures.


Baby #2 - Grandparents watch baby #1 and we get away for one night at a local hotel, sleep until 10am (!), eat an enormous breakfast buffet, and take one terrible selfie. Decide two days before going to call it an anniversary getaway and a baby moon.

Baby #3 - Grandparents thousands of miles away. Take the whole family to an inexpensive, family friendly beach "resort." It will feel like vacation because we will not have to do laundry, cook, do dishes, or clean. Amen.

Baby registry

Baby #1 - Baby registry takes many long hours to complete. Advice from the internet and other moms is absolutely bewildering.

Baby #2 & #3 - Feel confident about what your needs and wants. Preparing for the baby is almost stress-free. Yes!

There are some strong similarities between all three pregnancies, too.

Worry

Baby #1, #2, and #3 - Worry but try not to worry about miscarriage the entire first trimester. During the second and third trimester, start to worry whenever you don't feel the baby kick for a couple of hours. Breathe a sigh of relief as you pass important viability milestones... 28 weeks (sigh), 32 weeks (sigh), 37 weeks (full term!).

Anticipation

Baby #1, #2, and #3 - The anticipation for and the love for each child is the same. We marvel at how each kid steals your entire heart, but then when another kid comes, your heart grows and the next kid completely steals it as well! We are so looking forward to October when we get to see our little boy's face and hold him in our arms and be enraptured once again by a tiny human who does nothing but poop, cry, nurse, and sleep.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Grandparents Visit

I'm really close to my parents and they live 8,400 miles away (really, Google? That far?!) so there's almost nothing more magical and more special than when they come for a visit.

My dad was given a three month sabbatical from work. He spent the very first day of his sabbatical watching my nephew's adoption at the courthouse, going to the subsequent adoption party celebrating both my niece and nephew, and then hopping on an airplane with my mom that evening to fly to Thailand. Can you tell he loves his grandkids?

They headed back to Colorado almost a week ago, and I finally looked through my pictures tonight. May these memories carry us through to the next time we see them... we don't know yet when that will be.

~

Cora hadn't seen this set of grandparents since October, but she clearly settled right back into her granddaughter role.


Grace sliding down a water slide into Nana's arms at a waterpark on the roof of a Bangkok mall.


Precious.


Cora would have been terrified if she wasn't in Papa's arms.


The new school year began two days before my parents left, so they got to send off our little preschoolers. But, you'd better believe we kept our kids home the next day, the last day their grandparents were in country.



Thursday, May 4, 2017

Writing to Share - Final Thoughts

Over the past couple of years, I've written more and more in my private journals and shared less and less here on my blog. At the end of March, I decided to post ten times in the month of April instead of just once or twice. I didn't know what would happen, but I knew I felt inspired and excited by it.

I enjoyed the challenge, but I also found that I have to let my words compost. I dump the apple cores, carrot peels, hacked off vines of my words into the compost pile of my journals. Turn them over. Wait. Let the sun heat them and the rain wet them and the insects crawl and eat and defecate all over them.



Then, when the organic matter has morphed into rich, rich soil, I finally share those words. And, by grace, I get to watch shoots spring out of those words. And to see already established trees and plants enjoy the nourishment of rich soil.

I cannot produce "content" quickly or it is just silty dust hastily shoveled up and scattered out to plants with little nourishing power.

My words must be chewed, mulled over, sifted, played with, enjoyed. Then, shared.

So, over the next few months, I'll be going back to posting as ready. And when that little baby comes in October, who knows what will happen! All I know is that everything will change.

Here are my ten posts written (mostly) in April:

Writing to Share - An intro to my writing challenge

Kids One Year Ago and Today - Some thoughts on my kids' adjustment process from moving from California to Bangkok, Thailand

I've Never Read the Whole Bible and That's OK

Conversation Between a Toddler and a Preschooler

How to Wash Your Clothes When You're New to Thailand - Remembering those nutty first weeks of our international move.

14 Thoughts at 14 Weeks - A few lighthearted thoughts on my third pregnancy.

Tropical Birds - A homage to the birds outside my bathroom window.

A Monday in My Life - No two days and no two weeks are the same, but here's one recent Monday in my life.

Currently Loving - Four things I'm enjoying from a fun app to my kids' school pictures to a couple of great books.

And this post makes 10!

Thanks for following along! I don't think I'd do this without readers... you!

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