Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day

I have a history of holiday-skipping. With the exception of Christmas, I have skipped every other holiday out there some year or other. I don't recall doing anything for Valentine's Day any other year. (Side note: when we were engaged and living on different continents, Andrew did something very sweet for me that year, but I didn't do anything for him, so for my part I count that as skipping.) In fact, Andrew told me this morning, "You know, this is a really stressful day for a lot of men. It's nice to know that I wasn't expected to come up with something amazing, and that you're okay with that."

To which I replied, "But this is the year I was actually going to do something!" And indeed I did! Since this is a first-ever in life, I thought I'd better take pictures to prove it really happened.

We started off with heart-shaped oatmeal pancakes:

Actually, while I was making pancakes, they were having a sibling Valentine love morning on the couch. Zarya asked Jerod if he wanted her to read his train book to him. He loves, LOVES his Thomas the Tank Engine book and demands that I read it to him every single day. Zarya read him the entire book (it has three stories in it), which meant I was off the hook. She loves her little brother and books, and I definitely love that she gave me the day off from reading the beloved/infernal train book.

Since I'd gone to all the holiday bother of dressing them in Valentine's Day appropriate clothing, I thought I should commemorate the moment. They didn't think so highly of that idea for the first 20 or so attempts:

Nobody moved, both were looking at the camera, and I count it as a success

And then, as if this weren't already over the top with Valentine-ness, we actually even MADE Valentines. Like, the world's most unartsy mother actually cut out hearts and dug a glue stick out from the recesses of a cupboard. We go to a Bible study on Tuesday mornings, and four lovely ladies volunteer to take care of the children. Zarya and Jerod had great fun making their caregivers Valentines.

Later in the day, Andrew brought me chocolate, and we had a nice dinner, so happiness and love abounded all around. We are thankful to Jesus who loves us and gave us one another to love!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Bee-bim Bop!

We have a fun children's book called "Bee-bim Bop!" which Zarya picked out herself online, her choice of how to spend Christmas money from her cousins. It was her first online purchase, and thanks to Amazon having the "Look Inside" option where you can actually see what the pictures look like and how many words are on each page, she made an educated decision, as opposed to a random one based on the color of the cover or something else that happened to strike her fancy at the moment.

After reading this book many times and enjoying the fun rhymes of a little girl cooking with her mother, I decided to try the recipe in the back. We made our first dinner of Bee-bim Bop last month and quite enjoyed it. There is a nice bed of rice on the bottom, topped with cooked carrots and spinach, shredded scrambled eggs, and meat cooked in a sweet, spicy soy-based sauce. Then you mix it all up. According to what I read in the book, in Korean, "bee-bim" means "mix it up" and "bop" means "rice."

We had it again last night and this time remembered to get a picture. I'm not claiming this is authentic - we didn't have kim-chee or bean sprouts, and I used lamb instead of beef. When I'm next in a Korean restaurant that offers this dish, I plan to give their version of the real deal a try. In the meantime, we like to chant the catchy rhymes from the book and eat our pseudo-Bee-bim Bop.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas - 2016

A little boy and a stuffed Winnie-the-Pooh. What could be cuter on Christmas, really? He gave Pooh many big hugs today and said several times, "My Winnie! Look, jacket!" I guess he was excited that Pooh has a shirt (jacket) on.

My little buddy had his first totally dry, potty accident-free day today. Merry Christmas to me from Jerod!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Jerod doesn't calm the storm

I was pushing the kids in the double stroller on a windy day, trying to get in some outdoor exercise before fall rains set in. I started jogging at the same time the breeze picked up even more, so Jerod really had the wind in his face all of a sudden. He started yelling, "No! No!"

Zarya leaned over the partition and said authoritatively, "Jerod, when Jesus tells the wind to stop blowing it stops. But when you tell the wind "no," it just keeps on blowing."

I think this means I'm doing well at teaching her Bible stories, but might need to work a bit on the theology of faith and prayer.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

An accidental great find at the library

One of the best things about life is going to a local library regularly. I get almost all of my own reading material via the library, but do it all online and get Kindle books. (People call the printing press the greatest invention of the second millenium; I think electronic books should get some award for the third one.) But for little kids, there is nothing better than having a great big stack of picture books from the library to read. We're currently at the picture book stage of life with our three-year-old bookworm - she reads through her entire stack of library books every day while I work. It takes her close to an hour, and sometimes I feel like I should start making a babysitting donation to the library on behalf of enabling Bible translation. PBS should probably also get a donation sometime, since watching PBS Kids shows feature regularly in my babysitting schedule, too. But back to books, our schedule is that when Jerod gets up from his nap and I finish work for the afternoon, I let her choose two or three and I read them aloud to both kids.

Despite the fact I'm the one who chooses all of the books from the library, sometimes what I find in the pile is still a surprise. It's not like I read every word of them when I'm picking them out! I just aim for good artwork, about the right amount of words on the pages, and a story I think Zarya will enjoy. A good friend and former librarian suggested to me to work my way through the entire picture book section in order so as to not feel overwhelmed and have no idea which books to get when we go, which had been the case. So I opted to work my way backwards through the alphabet, and we're currently in the "S" section. It's a great system and enables me to pick out books pretty quickly - I just go and park myself where I left off the last time and flip through a shelf or two. No more aimless wandering hoping a title will catch my eye.

Anyway, the other day I sat down on the couch with the kids to read the books Zarya had chosen for that afternoon's read aloud time. One of them was titled, "Mama Elizabeti," by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen. I started reading it, and thought, "This little house looks like a Tanzanian house. It must be set in Kenya or something." In my experience, Kenya gets a lot more attention than Tanzania and anything that is supposed to be East African kind of equals being Kenyan. As I kept reading, Zarya and I loved that the little girl in the story calls her dad "Baba," the Swahili name for father that Zarya uses for Andrew. When little Elizabeti has to take care of her little one-year-old brother, Zarya thought it was great, just like her playing with Jerod. But I was noticing that this little girl reminded me a lot of all of the little girls in Tanzania who do what Elizabeti was doing, carrying water and washing dishes and babysitting a little sibling at the same time. Elizabeti wasn't just playing, she was working hard! It seemed just like Tanzania to me.

So, we finished our book and went on to another. Later I went and read the about the author part on the back flap of the book, and sure enough, it seems like it really was supposed to be in a Tanzanian village! The author served in Tanzania in the Peace Corps, and apparently has also written another book about little Elizabeti. What a fun find at the little Indiana, PA, library!

Friday, September 2, 2016

July 2016... written in September

Hello, faithful followers of my neglected blog. What can I say, it's been a happy, busy summer! I've been doing things like playing outside and checking Bible translations when inside, and the blog has sunk on the priority list.

For a fly-by summary of our summer, I'll try to put up a few posts to catch y'all up. First, we will go back in time to July!

This was our third summer in a row for going blueberry picking, so I think we can now call it an annual tradition. This year we had so much fun on our first trip that I took the kids again... and again. Three times (for three of us, Andrew only went on the first adventure) this summer we tromped out in the blueberry fields and picked tons of fabulous berries!
Would you believe this three-year-old picked almost two pounds of berries all by herself? Actually, she probably picked like four pounds, but only half ended up in her pail.

We all wore blue shirts in an attempt to keep stains more hidden! 
Jerod's pail is just for show. He picked plenty of berries, but none went into the pail!

Andrew and I are um, well, "slightly" competitive people. We definitely keep track of who picks more! I'm a faster picker, but he insists that he's simply more selective and picks better berries. 

Our second blueberry trip was definitely the most memorable one. It was supposed to be a cloudy, warm morning. I looked at the hourly forecast just before we left. However,, we’d only been there for about 10 minutes when suddenly it was DUMPING absolute sheets of torrential rain! Everyone was racing out of the fields shrieking. We were slow to get the van because we had to walk at Jerod’s pace, and were soaked through. Like, SOAKED. I went to go pay for our berries, but the ladies in front of me were taking forever, and after five minutes of standing there in line, the rain stopped. So I left the line and went back to the car and took the kids back to get more berries! Zarya and Jerod both had a blast and loved the whole morning, rain and wet clothes and all. Zarya told me several times that she was having fun, and we had to haul a resistant Jerod out of the berries when we left, so I think that means he was still enjoying himself, too. When we went to go pay, we had to pour the water out of our buckets before they were weighed so the rain wouldn't end up making us pay extra! We were so wet upon arrival home that I had to towel dry Zarya’s hair and change her and my underwear, because even it was drenched. I told Zarya that we were from the Pacific Northwest and no rain was going to keep us from having fun.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

My first missionary moment

I like to write e-mail. It's very cathartic for me to sit down and compose a good, long, funny, newsy e-mail to a friend. I think it's how extroverts journal. Introverts can sit down and write themselves a long letter in a cute little blank notebook and keep it all privately tucked away, but extroverts need to know somebody is going to read it if they really want to think and process and motivate themselves to write. So, in college I wrote my parents a lot of e-mails. I was in college in Michigan and they were in Washington, and since this was in the pre-cell phone days (I used a calling card on a landline to call home!), we only talked on the phone once a week. That meant that I wrote long e-mails six days a week, and my mom saved them. She printed off just about every single e-mail I wrote for four years. When I  moved back to the States in 2014, she gave me a giant folder of all of my college e-mails to her.

What do you do with a huge stack of printed e-mail? Being as I'm not a saver, I figured out a way to use them. Since they are only printed on one side, I have Zarya and Jerod use the reverse sides for coloring pages. I read the e-mails, and then hand them out for scribbling with crayons. It's kind of entertaining, kind of pitiful (did I really have to write so many details about what we did at swim practice??), and a good trip down memory lane, at the pace of reading two e-mails every few days. At this rate the kids will still be coloring on my college e-mails long after they are both old enough to read the letters themselves!

I found a particularly interesting one the other day. I wrote it while preparing to go on my first-ever missions trip. I was headed to the Philippines to visit a Bible translation project. It turned out to be a completely life-changing trip that altered the course of everything afterwards, although at the time I was rather unaware of what was to come. The evening I wrote this, March 31, 2001, I had been at the home of the local Wycliffe Bible Translators recruiters, Ed and Linda Speyers. They had been in Suriname for over twenty years, and had just returned to the States the year before I met them. They are fascinating, passionate people, and I was hooked from our first conversation on, it appears. Here's what I wrote as an 18-year-old:

"After [meeting with the Speyers] I had this retreat-like 'I want to be a Wycliffe missionary for the rest of my life' high. For about 15 entire minutes I was considering changing my major to linguistics (which would require transferring schools) and doing all that, then I became practical Michelle once again. But it occurred to me that my greatest fear (besides snakes) has always been that God would want me to be a missionary, and here I was having a little fantasy about doing just that."

I think this really was the first time ever in my life I even considered being a missionary, and about two months later, I found myself seriously considering it as a long-term career. Thanks to three more years of monthly dessert nights at the Speyers (never underestimate the power of homemade apple pie and ice cream to convince a college athlete to become a Bible translator) and another short-term trip, I joined Wycliffe. I'm so glad I did!