Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Life We Lead

When your child says that they want to go home that is a pretty easy request to grant, but what if you are not sure what they mean by home? About a month ago we were staying in a hotel in Bangkok for three days. A hotel so nice and a room so big that we parents wanted to call it home for the rest of our lives. We had just spent the last 2 1/2 months living on an island in the south of Thailand which Naomi called home. We were leaving for our "home" in South Asia the next day which, of course, Naomi calls home. So when we were playing in the hotel room and Naomi asks "to go home" we are not sure what to tell her. Unfortunately for our parents, home for Naomi is definitely not the U.S. She has spent less than 20% of her life in the U.S. So where is home?

For the most part, home is where Mom and Dad are, but there is one more element - her toys. When we walked in the door of our house in South Asia and Naomi headed into her room and saw all of her toys she had left behind for the past 2 1/2 months... she was home. Mom was there, Dad was there, baby Ezra was there, and all of her stuffed animals, blocks, coloring books, story books, baby dolls, and cars were there. So where is home? Geographically I am not sure, but Naomi needs very little for a place to be home, and for the life we lead, that is a real blessing.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Just Gotta Dance

Last week we came home one night around 8 o'clock from visiting some friends, and our neighbors across the street were having a party. Naomi loves music and can't help but dance when she hears it. On top of that, whenever we step into our front courtyard a motion floodlight comes on. A live band playing across the street... the "spotlight" shining on you... what can you do? You've just gotta dance.

Enjoy this video: (copy and paste in your web browser)

We didn't want to leave Ezra out so at the end of the clip there is a little footage of Ezra doing what he does best, falling asleep.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Commence Deworming

There are some things you pretty much never have to do in the U.S., except for pets that is, that become a part of ordinary life here. When our child continually complained of an itchy backside, the first assumption here, other than "Did you wash it?", is the dreaded worm. In fact, worms are so much a part of life for many people that most organizations recommend that the entire family be de-wormed twice a year "just in case."

Today our sweet little girl joined the de-worming club. So, just how do you de-worm a 2-year-old? Pretty much the same way you do an animal. Hide something nasty in something they like and send it down with peanut butter. Not looking forward to the other end of the process...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Update and a Brilliant Idea!

In an attempt to not just write a blog about Japanese T.V. show I will give you a quick update on what is going on with us. The fourth and smallest member of the family should be entering the outside world any day now. Lizzy’s mom arrives on Thursday and part of Lizzy wants to baby to wait until Thursday to come but probably a bigger part of her wants baby boy to come yesterday!

Naomi is doing well with potty training. Potty training is the most up and down emotional experience ever. One moment we are cheering in the bathroom and giving out treats and an hour later we want to quit and keep her in diapers forever while mopping up an accident. Over the past four weeks we have had to routinely remind ourselves that if there are more successes than accidents then we are making progress.

Now, on to the good stuff; a lot of American T.V. is pretty worthless. Half of the T.V. shows that are exported to Asia make me ashamed. I always wonder what Asians think when they watch shows like Jerseylicious, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Moment of Truth, and Cops episodes from the 1980’s. So, I think we should steal a brilliant T.V. show from Japan. I have no idea what the show is called because all the lettering on the show is in Japanese and the show is dubbed in Thai. Each episode they seem to have a competition between the contestants to complete an everyday task with extreme precision and speed. The first episode I saw was between chefs, and it was pretty similar to an “Iron Chef.” The second episode I saw was between several guys to see who could park a car the best! What a concept! A whole show based on reversing a car into a parking spot, albeit with an extreme twist. On each episode there are three rounds. Despite the language difficulties, here is what I believe the three rounds consisted of: In round one the contestants had to accelerate the car in reverse to about 30 mph, and as they entered the parking space, brake in time to land the rear bumper as close to the back of the parking space (made up of a tall stack of empty paint cans) as possible. Round two was a game of musical chairs. The cars drove around in a circle with four parking spaces, pointing in four different directions, in the middle. When the music stops, you have to back into a parking space about a foot wider than your car as fast as possible. Round three, very simple, the contestants had to park their car in a parking spot literally a mere 2-3 inches wider than the cars. Fastest time wins, but any contact with any part of the car is an immediate disqualification. What made this episode so exciting was the speed and precision with which these guys parked their cars. Absolutely incredible! Now, if you are a lady reading this (you may have given up at this point), then you are thinking, “I would never watch that show.” If you are a guy, though, you are probably thinking “that sounds amazing” and “I bet I would be great on that game show.” I don’t know what it is about guys, but we all think we are probably the best driver ever to grace the road. I know every time I park I always take a step back to check my handiwork. So there you go America, a new exciting game show!

Friday, July 30, 2010

A Change of Pace

We are no longer in South Asia. We are now in the beautiful kingdom of Thailand. For a country that is so close, Thailand couldn’t be any more different, and we are greatly enjoying those differences. We are here, of course, for the birth of our second child, and we have come here to take advantage of the far superior medical facilities. We had a doctor’s appointment last Monday, and we were greatly encouraged by the whole experience. Besides the beautiful and clean building, world-class equipment, and knowledgeable staff, the most shocking divergence from our last experience in South Asia was that people were smiling. The staff was smiling and helpful, and the patients seemed happy to be there as well! There was even a sign in one area that said, “If you’ve been waiting more than 15 minutes, please see a staff member.” Needless to say the appointment instilled a great deal of confidence in us.

We are also enjoying a few other comforts of home, too, not that there aren’t some challenges that come along with those. Well, I say a few comforts, but there are actually many of those here that have made this first week and a half a much needed recharge for us. Here is our top-ten list so far:

10. Pasteurized milk (Lizzy’s contribution)
9. Burger King (P.J.’s contribution)
8. A Target(ish) supercenter
7. Cold-cut sandwiches from our fridge
6. Delicious Thai food
5. Having a car
4. Swimming in the pool every day
3. Never losing electricity!!!
2. A beautiful beach just minutes away
1. Air conditioning

Top these all off with the fact that there is a 7-Eleven nearly every block of road—sometimes 2—where Slurpees and strange barbeque pork buns, which can easily be confused with minced pork and fermented egg sandwiches, abound.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Early Bird Beats the Traffic

Lately, our little one has taken quite the liking to this little ride-on toy car she has in the house. She will happily return to ride it around the house at least once an hour. She was sick yesterday, but she still was keen to play on her car. Although she normally sleeps until about 8 every day, she woke up this morning at 4:30 feverish and hungry. After taking care of her and sending her back to bed, all the while struggling to keep my eyes open, all was calm and quiet--until the wheels began to turn.

Sure enough, at 5 o'clock in the morning, this sick little girl decided to get a move on the day to beat the busy city traffic. Part of me was so tired I didn't care if she wanted to play in her room quietly, but when the driving moved into our room it didn't quite work. I woke P.J. up, and we both just started laughing through our grogginess thinking the whole incident was actually pretty funny. She seemed to think it wasn't the least bit strange to be riding around the house on a plastic car at 5 A.M.

Funny as it may have been, we hope she does not choose to do any early morning traveling again any time soon!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Our Strange and Wonderful Daughter

She is beautiful, sweet, and incredibly smart. She melts our hearts when she runs up to us to deliver an unexpected kiss or throws her arms around our necks to give us the biggest hug a 21-month-old can give. She can count to seven, knows all her colors, and can name at least a dozen different animals. She surprises us on a daily basis.

Lately, though, she has mainly been making us laugh. She is definitely one of the funniest kids I have ever known. Let me give you some examples:

She is a little monkey who loves to climb anything and everything. She can go from the ground to on top of the kitchen table in about seven seconds. So now, when she gets hungry she thinks she can just help herself. If she is quiet for more than one minute, then she is most likely doing something she isn't supposed to be doing. If she is in the kitchen, and quiet for more than one minute, then she has most likely found something she would like to eat and is eating it. Twice in the past week Lizzy has gone into the kitchen to find Naomi sitting on the table, mango in hand, biting straight through the mango's hard skin to get to the goodness inside; just like a monkey. She has also helped herself to a tomato in this same manner.

Speaking of things she likes to eat, she loves all the usual suspects: bananas, sugar, candy, chocolate, etc. She also loves onions, raw. If one of us is chopping onions for dinner, she wants a piece. The first time I thought, "Oh this will be funny," as I handed her the onion waiting expectantly for a disgusted face, but she likes them. We don't like her breath afterwards!

Today we went to the zoo. Our little girl absolutely loves animals. She loves to pet dogs and cats. She loves to look through her animal books and tell us the names for all the animals and the sounds that the animals make. So, I thought she would love the zoo. She couldn't be bothered. There were tigers, leopards, monkeys, and rhinos, and she thought they were all lame. We went to see the elephant, which she knows the name of in two different languages. We were standing eight feet from this huge majestic animal with no gate or fence to separate us. She was more interested in the swings nearby. There was one animal she was very happy to see which is not found in many zoos in the U.S. The one animal that caught her attention? The Guinea pigs. Squeak, squeak.

Monday, July 5, 2010

You Know You Live in South Asia When...

You watch a DVD, and when it ends, there aren't any credits--just a trip back to the main DVD menu.

The DVD menu background is stretched and way out of proportion.

The DVD menu background is the cover of Entertainment Weekly with the film characters on it...literally!

That was hilarious!

Monday, May 17, 2010

One Word: Litchis

If you've ever tasted a litchi or litchi flavored jellies at home, you might think they taste like nasty perfume. Most tropical fruit does have that sort of "musky" flavor that is reminiscent of some perfumes. P.J. recently blogged about mangoes, and closely on their heels come another sweet treat, litchis!

They don't come in a can, and when they're fresh, they are amazing little fruits. They come attached to a big green bushy thing and are small round things surrounded by a rough red shell. Without the shell, they look and feel like eye balls, but man are they tasty!

No, not all of life here is suffering. We may not have electricity, and we may have to reuse our laundry water 3 times, but some things make it all worth it!

Saturday, May 1, 2010


Living is South Asia is full of struggles. You struggle to obtain basic necessities like water, electricity, food, and clean air. You struggle to enjoy basic freedoms like the ability to drive a car on any given day, the ability to worship freely, and the rights every citizen should have, the ability to obtain a driver's license, a package from the post office, or even admission into a school without the need to pay a bribe. America is not perfect, but water, electricity, food, and in most places, clean air are taken for granted. They are widely available and, relatively speaking, cheap. You can drive your car or go to work or school any day you would like. You can believe and live out any kind of strange doctrine you would like. As a matter of fact, the more radical or strange your beliefs are, the more rights and freedoms you are granted.

Despite all this, America is lacking one great necessity and freedom. Mangoes. We have just entered mango season, and for some reason, the lack of water, electricity, and clean air don't bother me as much. What? Today is a strike and nobody can drive their car or bicycle, and all the stores are closed? No problem. I bought mangoes yesterday, I don't need to go to the store. Mango sorbet, mango and banana smoothies, mango, strawberry, and banana fruit salad... are you getting hungry yet? Then we have the granddaddy of all desserts: mango puree over rich, thick vanilla ice cream. It's like a Creamsicle on steroids.

I feel sad for all of you Americans. Sure you can buy a mango for 2 dollars that was picked last month completely green, boxed up, put on a truck, loaded on a ship, set sail for 2 weeks, loaded on another truck, dipped in chemicals to give it some color, and dropped in a bin at your local grocery store. No, I am sorry, you haven't eaten a mango yet. Right now you can get a pound of mangoes here for about 50 cents, but towards the end of the season they are as cheap as 25 cents a pound. Or you could just pick one off a tree for free at the peak of its freshness. All of a sudden life here is not looking so bad. I am beginning to pity all of you stuck in America. Then I remember blueberries, peaches, and crisp Washington apples, which we don't have, and I am lost all over again. I better go eat some mangoes to cheer me up...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

We've Got the Powa!

As you may know, the Thanksgiving/Christmas season marks the end of long stretches of electricity, and no chances of 24 hours a day ever! Last year, a significant loss of a power station put the city at 16 hours of cuts daily shortly after our arrival. The cuts continued at least at 12 hours per day until May when ice melt began to provide some much needed power. The pre-season rains did not come as they should have so that compounded the problem.

This year we did not hit the 12 hour per day mark until March, which was a huge blessing! We lost power for 6 hours, followed by 3-5 on hours, 6 more off, and the remainder of 24 on. Thanks to generous supporters, we have not been without lights at all this year because of our solar-powered backup system. Yes, the fridge and TV stay off, but you might be surprised what you really don't need to be doing just fine. The real joy, however, has been the much needed rain fall we've been receiving 3-4 nights per week recently. Most of Nepal's hydro-power stations are small-scale hydro-electric plants which are not capable of storing large capacities of water. Since you can't really save hydropowered electricity, we've been given additional power every day. In fact, for the last two days, we've been without power for less than 2-3 hours each day. It has been wonderful, but we just don't know what to do with all this power!

Join us in being thankful for plentiful rains that might make a difference in the survival of this year's crops.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Why buy toys?

In the last two weeks, I've come to realize that it is almost totally unnecessary to buy toys for a toddler because the simplest things are incredibly interesting to them. From straws to locks to bottles with caps, our little girl enjoys them all. She's fascinated with trying to lock our trunks using straws and other random objects shoved down into the lock hole. How she figured out they need locks, we have no idea. These fascinations, however, pale in comparison to one of her most recent interests--poop.

Last week, she was playing in the backyard and discovered a pile of poo left by our neighbor's cat. When she saw a green fly land on it, she walked over, squatted beside it, and exclaimed, "Ooooohhh," as she pointed excitedly. If this were to happen on just one occasion, we might not find it as funny. On Tuesday, we were visiting a historical site in the city, and a few feet from where I stood, there happened to be a pile of dog poo. She slowly approached the nastiness, pointed at it, and said, "Oooooohhh." Why the fascination, I don't know. Maybe she was trying to tell me, "This thing is in the wrong place, Mom." Whatever her motivation, we both had a good laugh at her expense for sure!

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Living in South Asia is full of surprises... especially on the roadways. The first time you see a a bus full of people with another 30 people on the roof it's a bit of a surprise, something to laugh at. We see families of 5 all on one 100cc scooter sitting comfortably, two guys on a bike with a full sized goat in the middle, and two guys on a motorcycle with a full 4'x 8' sheet of plywood standing on end in between. All of which are pretty routine these days. We get desensitized to the comedy of it all. We don't even laugh anymore when we see a 60 lb. Labrador riding on the front of a scooter. A guy on a motorcycle holding three dozen chicken by their feet driving down the road? No, not that funny these days. It's common everyday stuff. But, every once in a while we see something new. Something that breaks away from the ordinary, if you can call it that. Yesterday I was riding down the street on my bicycle. A motorcycle began to slowly pass me on the right, and then I saw the white butt laying horizontally across the passenger's lap! No, no it's not what you think. I am not sure how exactly they transport mannequins in America, but in South Asia they do it by motorcycle, one at a time. As the motorcycle pulled in front of me, I began to laugh as I rode my bicycle. Two South Asian guys on a motorcycle, and the guy in the back has a white, naked mannequin lying across his lap driving down the road. It doesn't get much better than that. Sometimes I feel sorry for all of you back home with nothing to look at while driving to work but the same old cars and the same old trucks. The next time you are sitting at a traffic light just picture a few motorcycles beside you. One carrying 5 people, another with a sheet of plywood or maybe a goat, and a third with a naked mannequin. It will make your commute much more interesting!

Friday, February 5, 2010

What Would You Do?

Imagine you're driving to see a friend when you cross a bridge. On the bridge a large crowd is gathered, peering over the sides and pointing into the river below. Out of curiosity, you stop to see what the fuss is about, and find that the object of all the attention is an unborn baby that has been thrown from the bridge, discarded like a piece of trash not worthy of any dignity. What would you do as everyone stood there staring?

This happened to a friend of ours this week, and he sent a message louder than any words could have said. He walked down to the river bank and waded into this body of water that is scarcely more than raw sewage to pull that little child out of the water. He buried the tiny baby on the river bank to give that lost life even a semblance of the dignity he or she deserved.

These are the things people live with every day here. In the U.S., it's almost a hidden horror because we do not see that loss before us, but here it is laid out in the open for all to see. Is one really better than the other? Of course not. Let this be a reminder for us to lift up those everywhere who are struggling to realize the value of human life. They need to know there is a loving One who created them and has a plan for every child. This view of the life of the unborn child somehow being less important has even permeated the local fellowships here and needs to be broken by the only Victor who can.

This awful experience our friend had just reminded me that no matter what happens here on Earth or how messed up humans can be, every one of those lost children will have the very best Parent of all for eternity, and to Him they are treasures in whom He delights.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Relationship Building

Whenever you move to a new place it is important to make new friends. Luckily we have moved to a very friendly country, and for the most part, making new friends is easy. But, for one of the three of us, making new friends is even easier. The other day we were in a shoe store buying new shoes for Nay. I had just put on a pair of shoes for her to try out, and she took off walking down the aisle in them. Just then another little girl, about 2 years old, came around the corner. She looked at Nay walking down the aisle and immediately walked up to her to give her a hug and a kiss! In the course of the next two minutes these two little girls hugged 2 more times. It was one of those times I really wished I had a camera with me. They were very cute together.

Now it is very common for random strangers to smile at me, say hello, even walk up and ask my name or where I am from, but no one has immediately hugged and kissed me. Come to think of it, I get the most smiles and hello's when I am carrying my little girl. There is a very good possibility that if we didn't have her we would actually have no friends. So I guess she really does pull her own weight!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Relaxation... well kind of.

This past week we left the madness of the city for a little oasis of peace, serenity, and 24 hours a day of electricity. We went to a resort with 48 rooms set on four beautiful acres, and the only sounds we could hear were those of nature or the human beings around us. No honking horns, no diesel engines--just the sound of the little creek running through the property or the horses neighing as they happily ate. On top of all this, we had constant electricity, constant hot water, and all of our meals were provided at one of the on-site restaurants. The perfect week of relaxation, long walks, clean air, and good food... well almost.

We were at this beautiful resort to help out with another organization's youth program while they had their conference. A week of teaching, singing, leading crazy games, and being around 13-18 year old youth may not sound like a relaxing week for many of you, but for us it was just what the doctor ordered. Our schedule was pretty light, and we had a few nights free plus all of our afternoons off save for the occasional game of Ultimate Frisbee. Plus, believe it our not, I like spending time with 15 year old kids, maybe because their physical age represents my maturity level. We still enjoyed the beautiful surroundings, and the break from cooking and doing dishes. We spoiled ourselves with the ability to turn on a light any minute of any day, and because the water was boiling hot, I believe I spent most of my free time in the shower baking my skin off. It was a wonderful week. Naomi enjoyed herself in the open outdoors and thought that the horses were the best doggies she had ever seen.

Now before I get a bunch of emails telling me we need to take a real holiday or a real time of relaxation, don't worry because we do take care of ourselves. We are nowhere close to burnout, and we do have some real times of relaxation planned for when both of our parents come this year. For where we are at now, this past week was just what we needed.