Saturday, July 28, 2007


Megan's tooth is out. It came out one night in the car - I don't know if she was playing with it or what, but there it was. So that was fast and easy. She's $1 richer. And now that we are finally convincing Ethan that he doesn't have to eat on the side of his mouth anymore (which he did for two years while his two top teeth were out) I fear Megan will start that habit.

I would also like to point out that on Wednesday (my birthday incidentally) I went and had blood taken again. I did a speed walk for 40 minutes beforehand and wheedled my way to the front of the line by threatening to pass out. The nurse I had was stellar and I didn't even feel the needle so my blood flowed like a river. Maybe it's all psychological.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Gina Trivia

On occasion, I've delved a little deeper into my heart on this blog. Chances are I probably will never be someone who makes their blog read like a diary, because I have a diary and I like that no one else reads it. But I feel I've been remiss in sharing with you some of the more insignificant yet fascinating (in my mind) factoids about me. Here are a few of them that have been on my mind:

1. I only like soda out of cans that are ice cold. I don't like soda in bottles, with straws, with ice, or in glasses. I feel a little like I should live in a trailer because of this, but there it is.

2. My body so dislikes getting blood drawn that my blood literally stops flowing during the process. I had to go to urgent care this week for some breathing issues, and they had to try three times before they got any. That was loads of fun.

3. I am a sunscreen Nazi. If you ever see me with a sunburn, or color of any sort, it was unintentional and I probably berated myself about it for days. I've read too many articles by dermatologists to not put it on religiously. And while I'm on this, you should be putting it on too! All the time! Especially in Singapore where the UV index is 11 everyday! (I don't like writing in all caps, but if I did those last few sentences would be written that way) I don't care if you get tan, you can still get skin cancer. And wrinkles. Look for stuff with Helioplex or Parsol 1789 - I've read that's the best for blocking UV rays. Stepping off my soap box now . . .

4. I'm really a morning person. Not as much as my mom, who would get up at 4:15 to walk when she worked, and not much later than that now that she's retired. But it's pretty common for me to get up at 5, usually no later than 6 and go exercise joyfully. On the other hand, try having a conversation with me after 9 p.m. and I assure you that you will have doubts about my intelligence.

5. I've never had a cup of coffee. We keep getting offered free coffee at our conference and everyone else runs outside like they've just given us gold. A lot of people ask me how I wake up in the morning without coffee, but I just refer them to factoid #4. (although I'll admit on bad days I have been known to crack open a Coke Light at 8:30 a.m.)

So there you have it. Now you know me better in a few shallow ways.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Getting What You Ask For

Megan has been desperate to lose a tooth for months, since her two best friends in Singapore, Faith and Abby, have been losing them. She doesn't care that they are older - she just wants to lose one. Well, yesterday she got a loose tooth and she is NOT happy about it. It hurts. She wants it out NOW.

The kids have also been desperate for snow. They couldn't get it into their minds that we were not returning to the U.S. during winter (although my grandma said once it snowed in Minnesota on Memorial Day so I guess it's possible). When they found out we could drive up to snow in Colorado they though their prayers had been answered! As you can see, they had a great time sledding down the hill on our makeshift sleds, but they both complained excessively about the cold. I don't know what they were expecting - warm snow? They're learning the hard way these days that sometimes what you think you want isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Erik may not look like it, but he is in complete control as he slides down the hill. All those years of being on the National Ski Patrol come back to him at places like this. I think it's sexy. I can say that because he's mine. :)

Speaking of Diversity

Ok, my last post was a bit opinionated. This one is not. When I say diversity, I am speaking of that which I witnessed on our drive out to Colorado. It's astonishing to drive through rolling farmland into the Badlands, then into wide open spaces, then back into mountains. I kept imagining what it must have been like for early explorers. It gave me great respect for those who chose to traverse it in wagons and on horseback. I think if it had been me, I would have rounded a few of those hills and said, "Yeah, not worth it. Let's head back East." But I'm glad they didn't so I could see all this:I took about two dozen pictures in the Badlands, but my favorite part was the colors you can see in the hills here. I would like to thank and give credit to the tinted windows on the Honda Odyssey for acting as my much needed polarizing filter.

Who knew God made such big open spaces? This went on for miles in both directions. Can you imagine crossing this in a wagon? How many times did the pioneer kids whine, "Are we there yet?"

This is more like it. Our kids and their friends needed more time than we gave them to climb the rocks that surrounded the trail around this lake in Estes Park.

Thoughts on Culture (a.k.a. my latest frustration)

I've heard a joke that goes, "What do you call someone who speaks three languages? Trilingual. What do you call someone who speaks two languages? Bilingual. What do you call someone who speaks one language? American." Granted, that may be more insulting to Americans than funny, but there is a grain of truth in it.

Since I've been back in the U.S. I've been involved in several conversations about immigrants, particularly Hispanic people who choose to retain their language and culture while they live here. All the comments I've heard have been quite derogatory, one woman even admitting that she told an immigrant to "Go home!!" because he's been here 37 years and never learned the language. I have never been in a more awkward conversation in my life.

The cross-cultural training I've had over the years has encouraged me to engage in whatever host culture I visit, including learning the language. So I'll be the first to say that it's not the healthiest thing to move to another culture and never acculturate. But I have to point out a few things. First of all, it is very difficult to learn a new language, particularly if you are poor and just trying to provide for your family - you don't have the time or money to invest in studying. So if you are provided with the opportunity to stay in your comfort zone, who wouldn't take it? My experience is that most Americans living overseas to make money (significantly more money I might add) choose to huddle in English speaking bubbles themselves. We naturally take the path of least resistance.

People have also complained that more and more things like signs or instructions are also in Spanish. Well do we really want to be the only country in the world that is monolingual? Would it kill us to learn another one? And does it really hurt us to see another language while we drive?

And finally, have we forgotten that all of us are immigrants in this country, aside from native Americans? This country was meant to be a place where people could find new hope and new life in the context of diverse culture. Maybe we don't like having to adapt, but I think that in accepting more cultures, we have the opportunity to learn and become more diverse ourselves.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Where in the world

You know what? It's really hard to get internet access at 9,000 feet. I have all kinds of great pictures of wild and exotic places like the Badlands and the Black Hills, and Rocky Mountain National Park, where my kids slid down snow hills on plastic bags, but I haven't been able to post them because the downside of all those places is that it's difficult to find wireless.

But we're back online and I hope to post some pictures soon. We're out west for a ministry conference, and I have to say that these are the kind of days that make me love what I do. The kids are climbing the walls with joy at being with their friends, and I'm looking forward to some great worship and challenging speakers, not to mention meeting up with tons of old friends. I love my job!

Friday, July 06, 2007

No better place to spend the 4th

There's something not just American but downright Northern about being at a lake house on the 4th of July, so we were thrilled to spend ours in Siren, Wisconsin at Erik's aunt and uncle's. Here are some of the shots I got.

Gone Fishin'

I don't know where Ethan developed this love for fishing, but he's trying to pass it off to his sister. I fear at some point I may actually have to break down and put a worm on a hook. For now I'll just let Ethan keep doing it for me, which he grew adept at doing yesterday in Siren, Wisconsin. He spent a happy day catching sun fish and throwing them back.

A few days earlier we celebrated a belated birthday for the kids where Ethan obtained his first fishing pole from Grandpa and Nai Nai. We went that afternoon but quickly got rained out. Good thing this is the land of 10,000 lakes.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Baby animals

The joy of the week has been new experiences with baby animals. Yesterday it was a nest of newborn bunnies in the yard. We were afraid we'd spent too much time around them which might scare away the mother, but she did come back and cover them with fur last night and again some time today. The kids are fascinated.

This afternoon I took them with me to see my best friend Laura's new puppy. He's only 5 weeks old so she hasn't brought him home yet. He has three sisters and the kids were enthralled with holding and watching them.

Of course these experiences have only fueled their desire to own some kind of baby animal (they aren't too fussy - anything live will do). Grandpa and Nai Nai (grandma in Mandarin) bought Megan a Furreal cat for her birthday which she loves but she's smart enough to know it isn't actually alive. We'll see how much longer we can hold off before we break down and get something.