Monday, January 31, 2011

I like Thailand

We just arrived back from Thailand yesterday. Our internet service there was spotty at best. Here's something I wrote while we were there:

There are some things about vacationing in Thailand that I supremely appreciate, among them cheap laundry service, ice-cold lime juice, and traditional Thai massages on the beach. This trip I experienced something new that raised my appreciation and enjoyment of this culture.

Megan and the other kids at our resort spent 90% of their time in the water. There were several minor injuries – slipping on the wet wood floor around the pool or landing on top of someone coming down the slide – Ethan even joined the club by slamming his leg into the side of the pool and forming a giant bruise. So I wasn’t surprised when I heard Megan squealing and several kids ran up to me saying, “She’s bleeding!”

Sure enough, there was a fine line of blood running down her leg. In the time it took to get her to the outdoor shower, I’d already had 3 offers of Neosporin from other parents, but they were nothing compared to the resort staff. Megan sat down on a chair to wait while I ran for my supplies, but before I could a Thai woman appeared with a first aid kit. She poured antiseptic liquid on Megan's leg, swabbed it with iodine, and covered it with gauze. Then she gave me extra gauze and tape to re-apply later. I just stood there in amazement. So did all the kids (pretty sure it was the coolest thing they saw that day, aside from maybe the giant community sandcastle they'd built).

I like Thailand.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thankful in Thailand

Last Friday we came down to sunny Thailand for some meetings and vacation time. Since I've been reading One Thousand Gifts I've started carrying around a small notebook in which to write things I'm thankful for (usually I just store them up in my head). So here's what I've been enjoying lately:

448. The noises little boys make when they play
449. How Ethan couldn't just take his Legos back to his room - he had to make up a story to get them back
450. Mandarin oranges
451. Erik at home
452. Telling my childhood stories to Megan
453. Brownies with whipped cream on top
454. The smell of Megan's hair
455. My family all cozy on the couch reading
456. Megan's funny faces
457. How so many things in our house have a story behind them (like, "I bought that in a market in Thailand" or "my brother made that for me")
458. A friendly, helpful ticket agent who worked magic for us when we missed our flight to Thailand
459. sweet kisses and hugs from our girl
460. Knowing enough Chinese to get around in strange cities
461. A hotel 6 minutes and 8.9Y from the airport (in our city things are further away and more expensive!)
462. Walking into a hotel at 11 pm where our room had been booked just moments before even though the desk clerk was telling people on the phone that they were full
463. A tightly made bed
464. An incredibly effective Thai massage
465. Heart to heart talks with old friends
466. Childcare for the kids
467. lime juice
468. Hearing and meeting a need for a friend quickly
469. Singing praise songs in Chinese
470. Ice cold water in the morning
471. Unexpected gift of peppermint patties (thanks mom!)
472. Funny conversations with friends' kids
473. Finally finding the perfect conference tote for only $7 (on Tao Bao, of course!)
474. Seeing my lap be the safest place for my crying boy

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lesson Learned

What do you do when you arrive at the airport and realize that you have read your itinerary wrong, and what you thought was your departure time is actually your arrival time in your destination and your flight left 2 hours ago?

Well, you act a little stunned at first, and think, "This isn't happening, this isn't happening." Then you face the fact that your non-refundable, non-transferable, can't even use them on the way back tickets are going to get you nowhere. And then, because your kids (especially the older one) are about to go postal, and your husband (who may have been the only one who read the itinerary) is feeling pretty lousy at the moment, you put on a brave and gracious face and pretend that you are in an episode of Amazing Race. You're at the airport, you need to get to Thailand by tomorrow morning, you have, well, really let's spend as little money as possible, and . . . GO!

Our efforts to get on stand by for a later flight were met by very unfriendly agents, so Erik found a woman who patiently helped us search online for any available flight. We could fly later that night directly to Bangkok in business class, but for $3,600 (and that just got us there, not home). Instead, we opted for a flight to another city in China, then a morning flight to Bangkok, which saved us more than half.

When we landed, we found another very helpful agent who booked us a room in a nice hotel and got us on a free shuttle there. In the morning, we drove back to the airport and caught our flight which got us to the hotel at 11 a.m. Erik missed part of a morning meeting, and of course the other teams of Amazing Race are way ahead of us now, but I think we can make it up in the next task.

Lesson learned: Always have both spouses look at the itinerary. Read the time out loud. Maybe even check with some friends to make sure you're right.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Wisdom of Tony Horton

Erik and I have a new shared interest - P90X. You might remember I attempted this last fall, managed to get an infection in my elbow that made it swell to the size of Manhattan, and was advised by a doctor not to use it for 6 weeks. So it was something like P20X.

My six weeks were up around the time of Erik's sabbatical, so he suggested we do it together. Each morning around 6 we join our friend Tony Horton for an hour plus of pushing ourselves. If you don't know Tony, you're missing out, because he's funny, motivating, and wickedly in shape. The best part is his one liners. We've kept a list:

Makes me hap-py

No Krispy Kremes in the house!

Yeah, I know it’s hard. It’s supposed to be!

Tip of the day: Don’t smash your face.

Taking a little break here, but don’t be going off to the grocery store buying nasty food!

Cheeseburger- bad! Fries – bad! Shake – bad! Coca-cola – oh, I said it!

Party’s almost over (said halfway through the abs workout. Nope, not almost over).

What's YOUR goal??

It doesn't have to be pretty.

Abs Ripper X - I HATE it, but I love it!

This is Yoga X, my brotha!

It's Pam, we call her Blam! (I don't get the sense that Pam enjoys this)

He didn't let his EGO get in the way

Two words: Recovery drink

And, of course, "Do you best, forget the rest."

See, now doesn't that make you want to join us? And Tony?

Sunday, January 09, 2011

One Thousand Gifts

Since Christmas, I have been reading the book One Thousand Gifts. This is the book written by the woman whose blog (about the book) inspired my sister in law to start writing her thankful lists, which in turn inspired me. So naturally reading the book itself is inspiring me more!

421. The house is quiet and warm
422. NyQuil - I've been a sick girl this week
423. 99 years of life for my grandpa, who passed away on Thursday
424. Hearing and seeing my husband on Skype tonight while I made dinner
425. Children sitting at opposite ends of the couch reading, legs and feet tangled together
426. Good friends back from long furloughs
427. Finding a way to church that is free from traffic
428. Kindle
429. The song Ordinary Day
430. Dancing with Megan to Ordinary Day until my head hurt from spinning
431. How she didn't want to quit dancing with me
432. Spontaneous hugs from our kids
433. Finding that we can play strategic board games with our kids and not have to let them win because they win all on their own
434. A new history lapbook
435. humidifiers
436. A second cell phone battery on my bedside table that reminds me how my husband takes care of the little things in my life
437. fuzzy slippers
438. kuai di (like fed ex)
439. chest, shoulders and triceps of P90X setting the bar higher for me
440. And Plyometrics tomorrow, which I actually can do
441. candles
442. Using candles to roast marshmallows
443. Then smooshing them between chocolate covered digestive crackers (I know "digestive crackers" sounds gross, but they're SO good!)
444. Sunlight warming the bed this afternoon while Ethan and I talked on it
445. Giggling and then outright laughing with Ethan
446. Vanilla Bean Noel lotion
447. Dreaming of beach, lime juice, Thai massages and old friends in a few days

Thursday, January 06, 2011


I finally figured out how to change the address for my blog so it doesn't imply that we live in Singapore anymore, but I'm afraid if I change it, people won't be able to find my blog anymore. Will those of you who follow me be automatically directed? Or will I be lost in cyberspace? Has anyone done this successfully before?

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Beautiful Things

A good friend and hero of mine named Bruce says, "I am sobered by the depth of my depravity, and I am encouraged by the depth of my redemption." I agree. The reality that God is not done with me, that He has not only saved me but is redeeming me for greater purposes, is a joy beyond words.

Last week I downloaded an album I've wanted for awhile. It's called Beautiful Things by Gungor. These are the words to the title song, which capture this idea pretty well:

All this pain
I wonder if I'll ever
Find my way
I wonder if my life
could really change
at all

All this earth
Could all that is lost
ever be found
Could a garden come up
from this ground
at all?

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

All around
Hope is springing up
From this old ground
Out of chaos
life is being found
In me

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

You make me new
You are making me new
You make me new
You are making me new

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Future Engineer

When Ethan was 5 years old, he drew me a picture for mother's day. It was a schematic of how water gets from a lake, through the water treatment plant, to your house. So sweet.

Right now, he is sitting across from me, his little tongue sticking out as it does when he is working hard, drawing the inside of a toilet tank. Apparently when he woke up this morning, it was with a strong desire to know what's going on in the tank. He keeps running to the bathroom checking it again.

I have to say, it's a pretty accurate picture. If ever a kid was born to be an engineer . . .

Sunday, January 02, 2011

The Year in Pictures

As I sat down today to reflect on 2010 (I was too sick yesterday to do it. Today I'm upright thanks to drugs) I thought of the picture memories we have. Probably I thought of them because I realized a few days ago that I haven't printed out any pictures since May 2009. Oi. But that's beside the point. Here is a quick review of our year:

January - my brother got married!! We had such a great time in MN ringing in 2010 and participating in what is easily the most meaningful wedding I've attended.

February - a decade as parents! We are so blessed that our time here in Asia has given our kids so many great friends. I could have posted the nicely posed picture I had of the boys, but really, this is what they looked like for most of the party.

March - who could forget our unlimited almightiness and freedom? For those who have forgotten, that's the promise given us on our new car's website. This has transformed how we live here and we are incredibly grateful for it. Plus it's easy to spot in the parking lot.

April - our little girl celebrates 8 years and a love of soccer!

May - this is the perfect month in our city and we enjoyed it with lots of time outside playing soccer with the neighbor kids. The best fun though was found in butt boarding - Jackson and Ethan's first co-invention (soon to be patented).

June - we soaked up as much time as we could with our good friends, the Higgins, before they moved back to the States in early July. We're so thankful for them!

July - visitors! We love to take people to the Black Dragon Pool, where Megan assaulted her aunt and uncle mercilessly. Our family was a welcome distraction from the sadness of losing friends!

August - we moved!! And to what I have come to view as my dream home. This is one of our favorite rooms - homeschool/wrestling/game central.

September - we've discovered more nature in this area than we first knew. This is part of the park we found nearby where we've spent several times with friends (and the site of our Turkey Trot!)

October - Megan's soccer tournament was one of many fun new activities for the fall, including Tae Kwon Do, Chinese class (ok, maybe not so much fun but good for them!), homeschool drama, science, newspaper writing, and art.

November - 3rd time seeing your family in a year's a charm. We enjoyed a week in Florida with my parents, who graciously served us by taking the kids to the amusement parks while we had business meetings.

December - our first Christmas back in China (because we've spent the last two in the States). It was fun to have our decorations out in the house and to have a nice quiet evening with friends.

I wonder what pictures we'll have by this time next year?