Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Blogging is not at the forefront of life at the moment. These things are:


I'm blessed and busy.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I had been hankering to do some more "discovering" of Britain when a friend gave us a timely tip. It was English Heritage Open Day, and stately homes that would normally cost us £20+ ($30+) to get into were FREE this weekend. With one eye on the weather, we headed an hour's drive away to Belton House - a 17th century country home, made more familiar by BBC's filming of Pride and Prejudice.

Before long, the sun came out and we were surrounded by floral beauty.

Not-so-native, not-so-wild life.
Recently, De Sheng has been obsessed about whether or not various animals are going to eat him. He was keeping his distance from the fish - just in case.

Running through a maze.
My son went in circles a couple of times before figuring his way out.

We brought along a picnic lunch, but the most memorable moment was De Sheng experiencing his first wasp bite - poor kid. This might not bode well for reassuring him against animals eating people.

I don't have any pictures of the lavishly decorated interior of the house, but there was a games room that the children enjoyed.

Daddy, dressed as..... A Gentleman.
We always knew he was!

After admiring the beautifully restored house, we headed to another part of the grounds that was much more appealing to the children.

They have one of the best adventure playgrounds that we have seen in the country.
The kids had a blast.

All that fun and excitement gave us a quiet ride home again.

For the cost of a quarter tank of gas, a cup of coffee and a miniature-train ride, it was certainly a nigh-perfect adventure.

A beautiful, "summer's end" day with the family in Britain.

Here's a good trick I learned from another mom. She wanted her daughter to stay in her bed until 7:00 AM before she asked to get up. Since her daughter knew her numbers, but was too young to tell time, she gave her an analog alarm clock with the last two digits covered in black paper. The little girl only had one number to look at to know when she was allowed to call for mom.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Since he's started eating, I've had trouble serving tacos to my son because they were always coming unrolled for one reason or another. Every time he went to get a drink of water, his taco would need to be pieced back together. Today, however, I got inspired. After preparing his taco, I slipped on a rubber band to keep it together. It worked! Just keep moving the rubber band down as needed and much frustration is averted.

Now to keep working with him on not eating the taco like it's corn on the cob.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

I've been on a bit of a sewing kick this summer. Thankfully, I'm getting over the bug in time for "normal" life and routine to start up. Here's what I've been doing:

I made a "moby" wrap (baby carrier) for my sister from this fabric.

And, because I'm super-excited about becoming an aunt, I made a quilt for my future nephew, too. I refer to this as my first "grown up" quilt. The tutorial can be found here.

A good friend is also expecting her first baby (a boy!), so with extra quilt fabric I made a diaper stacker for her, loosely following the guidelines of this tutorial.

Lastly, we will be heading in to a birthday party in an hour to give a little girl this apron that my son helped me to make and begrudgingly models for you. There are many tutorials online, but I liked this style.

That's what has been keeping me busy and away from blogging (in part) this summer. I still have to make another apron for a birthday next week (it's going to be my standard gift, I think), but after that it is just random projects to get done when I feel in the mood.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

O give us home built firm upon the Savior
Where Christ is Head and Counselor and Guide
Where every child is taught his love and favor
And gives his heart to Christ, the crucified:
How sweet to know that tho his footsteps waver
His faithful Lord is walking by his side!

O give us homes with Godly fathers, mothers,
Who always place their hope and trust in Him:
Whose tender patience turmoils never bothers,
Whose calm and courage trouble cannot dim;
A home where each finds joy in serving others,
And love still shines, tho days be dark and grim.

O Lord, our God, our homes are Thine forever!
We trust to Thee their problems, toil, and care;
Their bonds on love no enemy can sever
If thou are always Lord and Master there:
Be Thou the center of our least endeavor--
Be Thou our Guest, our hearts and homes to share.

-Barbara B. Hart

Monday, July 26, 2010

We are back in England after a great trip to the states to see family. I'll post pictures.... eventually.

Right before we left for the states, we had a Greek-themed birthday party for a friend. He posted some pictures of our fabulous party costumes and excellent food here.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Dear Mei Li,

Can my baby really be a year old already? It's gone by far too fast. This year you've grown from a helpless, dependent infant to a little girl who is pushing older kids around to get up the slide. It is amazing what changes can take place in a year's time.

I always refer to you as my perfect baby. It's possible that there are easier babies out there, but I fell in love with you from day one and that feeling hasn't changed. I have loved watching your personality unfold. You were quick to smile, but slow to laugh. Slow to roll, but quick to sit.... then stand... then walk.... then run. Everyone was amazed to see such a petite, little girl toddling around the room at nine months. To this day, your mother and strangers alike are often surprised by the abilities you have for your age.

You are my go-getter. You see what you want and go for it. Just the other day, I stood back and watched you try to climb up on a chair at the table. You had done it once before, but this time you were struggling and screaming in frustration because you knew it was possible. Sure enough... you figured it out and that evening you repeatedly climbed up to the table until you had the technique down-pat. You've fallen down the stairs twice already, but that doesn't stop you from going up and down, up and down.

I also call you my "Nature Girl". From the time you started to express yourself, you made it clear that you wanted to be outside. Many were the times you started crying when we brought you into the house. I finally gave up in trying to keep the dirt out of your mouth. You must have sampled a portion from every section of the garden. You are also always aware of any bugs or birds in the vicinity and chase them down if they allow you.

Yet, despite your one-year-old ambitions, you are still willing to cuddle. You love getting hugs and I often find you backing up to plop down on my lap. You get great pleasure from trying to run away and then getting caught and tickled. You especially love your daddy, making it clear that you NEED to be held by him and then getting a self-satisfied look when he complies.

We can't imagine life without you. You bring us so much joy - just as your middle name has proved. While I ache to shield you from the pain and evils of this world and hold you tight to myself, I know I can't. You are God's and we entrust you to Him. I pray that you will learn to find your ultimate JOY in your Creator. Happy birthday, my little one.

Love, "Mama"

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dear De Sheng,

Today you turn 3 years old. What an incredible privilege it has been to be your mother for these past three years. Both of us have done a considerable amount of growing, side by side. It's not easy to be a first child with Daddy and Mommy trying figure out parenting on you, but you have been forgiving despite our many mistakes.

It hardly seems a year ago that you were blowing out 2 candles on a bus cake. It's fun to think back on the accomplishments of this year. You've gone from saying a few favorite words to having in-depth conversations with me. I love that you are able to explain yourself more. Just a couple days ago you were asking me to tell you about "Nesia" again. I couldn't figure out what you meant until you explained, "Nesia... you were a little girl playing in the rain." Ah! "INDONESIA!" You've also learned to use the toilet with very little help. You've welcomed a sister into your life and you've had to learn how to share not only your toys, but your parents as well. You've learned a lot about friendships this year as you've gained both 'big' and 'little' friends. I could go on and on about how you've been singing, climbing all over the playground equipment, learning your alphabet and how to write an 'H', how you drew your first smiley face on the window, learned to pedal your tricycle, helped me to plant seeds and pick our first strawberries.

You are such a joy to me. As I often say, "You make me laugh," and it's true. Both in the intentional teasing that you do and in the mistakes made when you try to say big words... both give me joy. When I asked you what kind of cake you wanted for your birthday ("Chocolate?"), you told me you wanted "delicious cake." Later you clarified that "delicious" was "good for our bodies."

I love your smile, and especially your laugh. I love your enthusiasm and your willingness to help. I love your inquisitiveness and your attention to detail. I like that you see animals in the clouds and cars in your bread crusts. I love hearing you sing, watching you dance and especially seeing you care for your little sister. I'm so thankful I get to spend my days with you.

Sure, we have struggles and bad days, but life is a journey. I pray that above all you will be on the path to knowing God and submitting your life to Him. May He give you the discernment to recognize right from wrong and the strength to chose the way that honors Him.

I hope you have a wonderful birthday week, my son. I am looking forward to this next year with you.

Love, "Mama"

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Did you know that honey is a natural preservative? The composition of honey allows it to bind to water molecules. This means that bread made with honey will not get stale as quickly as bread made with sugar. You can get more technical information here.

Because honey is a natural sweetener, it contains trace minerals and vitamins that refined sugar does not have as well as antioxidant properties. Also, the body takes longer to absorb honey, making it a *slightly* healthier choice.

There is no hard fast rule for substituting honey for sugar in a recipe. It is a matter of trial and error. Honey is sweeter and wetter, so in general, you can use less of it and reduce the liquid content as well.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ah... the words that put life back in perspective. I remember after my son was born wondering how long it would be before I would hear that "I love you, Mama" come spontaneously from my child. It was wonderful the first time, and it has been wonderful every time since.

What a privilege it is to get those hugs from grubby hands and kisses from sticky lips. What a treasure to be able to pause and hold my son closely as he declares his love. What joy it gives him to see the happiness on his mother's face. As Mary did, I want to store up these moments in my heart to remember on those days when my boy is either unwilling or unable to wrap his arms around his mom and proclaim, "Everyday I love you, Mama."

Monday, May 10, 2010

Motherhood is hard. Yes, yes... there are great rewards in motherhood - intrinsic and extrinsic - that cause us to choose this path again and again, but there days when just getting out of bed one more time seems impossible. Some days when I'm up to my elbows in poop, snot, tears and tantrums, it is easy to wish it away... or at least wish it fast-forwarded. I was reminded about this post a couple of days ago when I was coming out of the store with my two little ones. In front of me was an elderly woman in a wheelchair who was being pushed by another woman. It struck me that some day that could very well be me. Some day I may be relying on other people to take me shopping where I will see someone else's small children running around. When that day comes, I can only imagine that I will miss THOSE DAYS. The days of small children. The days of discovery and innocence. The days of teaching and training. The days of silly jokes and giggles. The days of being the only comforter my child wants. The days of wide-eyed wonder. The days of being able to open my arms and see my kids come flying for a hug. These days will not last forever and some day I'm going to miss them. I hope that I will live today in such a way that despite missing "those days" I will have no regrets. I hope that I will embrace life - my children - NOW so as not to look back in sorrow upon lost years. The days might seem long, but the years will fly by and there is no turning back. May each of us build memories today that will bring smiles tomorrow.

THIS is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Friday, April 30, 2010

We've been getting our hands dirty.

We've been soaking up sunshine.

We've been enjoying friendships.

We've been focused on playing.

We've been chasing a walker.

In all, we've been enjoying the gift of life.

Friday, April 2, 2010

I really enjoyed our Passover this year. It was especially nice to be able to celebrate it with friends. My husband divided it into three parts. We started with the first Passover (Ex. 12 & 13) and the command, "Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance." Then we moved on to the Last Supper, and Jesus' example of sharing the bread and wine (communion), followed by washing his disciples feet (Lk. 22:11-15, 14:17; John 13). Lastly we considered the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19) "Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb."

Here are a few pictures from our Passover celebration:

The table, lying in wait
Hurray! People!
De Sheng is my carnivore son. He loved the lamb.
Mei Li particularly enjoyed getting her feet washed.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Mole had been working very hard all the morning,
spring-cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then with dusters...
till he had dust in this throat and eyes..and an aching back and weary arms.
Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him.

It was small wonder, then, that he suddenly flung down is brush on the floor,
said 'Bother!' and 'O blow!' and also 'Hang spring-cleaning!'
and bolted out of the house..

'This is fine!' he said to himself...
The sunshine struck hot on his fur, soft breezes caressed his heated brow,
and after the peace of the underground home he had lived in so long
the carol of happy birds fell on his dulled hearing almost like a shout.

Jumping off all his four legs at once,
in the joy of living and the delight of spring without its cleaning,
he went on his way across the meadow till he reached the hedge on the further side.

It all seemed too good to be true.
Hither and thither through the meadows he rambled busily,
along the hedgerows, across the copses, finding everywhere birds building,
flowers budding, leaves thrusting -
everything happy, and progressive, and occupied.

He thought his happiness was complete when, as he wandered aimlessly along,
suddenly he stood by the edge of a full-fed river.
All was a-shake and a-shiver - glints and gleams and sparkles,
rustle and swirl, chatter and bubble.

The Mole was bewitched, entranced, fascinated.
By the side of the river he trotted; and tired at last,
he sat on the bank, while the river chattered on.

A grave round face...attracted his notice. It was the Water Rat! '
Would you like to come over?' asked the Rat presently.

The Rat...helped Mole safely ashore, and swung out the luncheon basket. The Mole begged as a favour to be allowed to unpack it all by himself; and the Rat was very pleased to indulge him, and to sprawl at full length on the grass and rest, while his excited friend shook out the table-cloth and spread it, took out all the mysterious packets one by one and arranged their contents in due order, still gasping, 'O my! O my!' at each fresh revelation.

When all was ready, the Rat said, 'Now, pitch in, old fellow!'
and the Mole was indeed very glad to obey...

Rat...sat on the river bank in the sun, and made up a song about [the ducks]...

All along the backwater,
Through the rushes tall,
Ducks are a-dabbling,
Up tails all!

Ducks' tails, drakes' tails,
Yellow feet a-quiver
Yellow bills all out of sight
Busy in the river!

This day was only the first of many similar ones for the Mole,
each of them longer and fuller of interest as the ripening summer moved onward.

All quotes taken from The Wind In The Willows.