Monday, February 24, 2014

sweet treats online


I guess most of you know about Amazon Smile?  Please don't miss it!  It's really just too great a gift to pass by!  If you shop on amazon just like normal…. but just add this to your web address when you go to their site to shop ….. then you get to choose a charity organization to give .5% of your purchase price to.  Amazon gives it!  Don't miss this!  One org that I would have liked to give to wasn't listed, but my next choice (and many other excellent Christian, missions-service org were there!).  We're signed up for Amazon Smile to give to As Our Own from our purchases.  I'm so glad for this!

And…  I'm super enjoying this music right now and I just must share.  You can listen to most of the songs at the Sovereign Grace site.  It's a little CD, only 6 songs, but it's only 5$.  Again, a very sweet gift to enjoy!   My favorites are Plead for Me (a much better song than I first expected since the title threw me off) and Oh To See You.  Oh to soak in these lyrics and tunes and be transformed more to the  heart and mind of Christ!

More soon, I hope, to share about our sweet boys!!  Today Matt takes off for a quick business trip.  We'd love your prayers for his safety and our crew's sanity while he's gone!  I'm already starting to get a bit crazy feeling about figuring out details for our move- will one of us find a place before we land there?  will we have a place to move our stuff too? will we be able to get there before our stuff?  How do we LIVE (where?) the last few days of a move?  How do we host the precious guests who are coming from America just after our move-out date? (They'll be in a hotel, but we want to serve them well!)  The Lord knows all this… and He alone is my peace.   I'll talk with my landlord this Wednesday and that is another thing to pray for….  oh for favor that we could wrap up the deal for this place well.

Again, the Lord knows and He is with us…..  and we rest in Him.

Thanks for your prayers!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


On our ride home from the veggie market this afternoon, I'm pretty sure we looked like a circus on our rusty ol' three wheeled bike with four times the legal amount of children, loud of course, with laughter.  We stocked up on balloon magnificence from the talented artist-merchant who sold these beauties from her wheeled cart there today…  we've never seen her before.  These will be fun for two birthday parties we'll attend this weekend.    Hope the birthday boys enjoy these as much as we do…. and I sure hope these crowns last!

It definitely brought out joy to just watch this nice lady twist and turn all that air-filled playfulness.  

Even made me splurge to get an extra treat for our boys and one for our girls
and support the local economy :)  
Isaiah wasn't interested in this one as the boys' treat because it was a butterfly but there was nothing that looked a bit more manly.  I told him we would call it a solider with wings….. 
The girls' flower fell apart before I even had time to give them the talk… about how these sure won't last long...

And then when it was time for devotions tonight?  I had to realize that evidently, it was really time for wrestling…. and then devos.  #sweetfamilynight

Monday, February 17, 2014

Kids' Blogs

Sometime last fall, I read all the free pages on Amazon from a book that a dear friend recommended.  It was about Jesus and loving him passionately and living out our faith radically.  It was good and intriguing and I wanted to read more so I found the author's web site.   And then it got funny.

Or maybe it was just my husband that was funny.  Or maybe it's just me?

The author's web site had a huge, and I mean *gigantic*, picture of her across the top.  I told Matt about it and he thought I was exaggerating.  But when I showed it to him, he chuckled with me.   "It's as if she's saying 'Less of me and more of my face.'"  Really, it wasn't an error on the screen, but we had to scroll down (on our laptop) past her nose to see her chin.

And a side note, I've loved all that I've read from this author and I'm not saying posting huge picture of your face is sin or criminal… it just strikes me as odd / funny that's all.  

So that started Matt on a goofy rabbit trail… what would it be like if our kids had blogs like that?  Well, that silly thought became the plan for the next "growth chart" posts for this ole blog, but even I, who post ridiculous loads of photos of my kids, can't stand for photos of them quite that large.  Still, it's fun and a sweet record of where our kids are at on the map of their childhood:  their abilities, interests, memories, sayings, quirks.

I'm bummed that I never got all the graphic design to make their pics look like web sites or to put the titles of the things they love most across the top like play page titles… that was the dream plan.  This is the reality.  Beginning with the girls and hopefully getting to the boys' posts in a few more days.

Presenting:  Our Kids' Blogs… a record of where they are now.

Marian Lynn

Marian, May Love ~ 

This precious, fun girl serves (tea, treats, vitamins, gum) and gives to our family and our guests with flare and spectacular generosity.  I don’t think she’s got a penny, or a mao, in her allowance envelope because she’s so eager and speedy to spend her money on gifts to give to others.  Once, she paid eleven million monopoly dollars for Isaiah “just because she had it and he didn’t.”  A super beautiful thing... that, ah... will need to be tempered with real cash at some point (later).  

And she’s smart. Matt says he has a little bit of dyslexia (maybe just a mild degree- is that possible?) and if that’s a real possibility, I think Marian’s got it too.  Reading has been a bit tough for her... but any drip of dyslexia with letters hasn’t touched her numbers.  She flies for math and “number games” and is almost as eager to do her math work as she is for a tea break from class most the time.    Math comes easy for her (I’ve got to figure out how to stoke this gift in her) and she can think through long, hard (for an elementary schooler) word problems that Matt gives her (a small business scenario) with a thorough grasp on how and why the math works like it does.   It’s so cool to see her enjoy excelling at and exercising this gift.   And I don’t know if this would count as altogherther math-y, but this girl WON, the very first time she played Clue on her own.  She had been on Daddy’s team once before, but as soon as she was on her own, she beat her own Dad and her big bro! She’s 6.5 and yea, she had a bunch of room cards so that  part was easy for her to figure out... but still, pretty good!

For Marian, a word is usually going to be a better word, nicer, and more to her approval, if it ends with a "-y" sound.  Settler of Catan’s Development Cards are her “develies.”  The number games she likes to play on her bed before sleep are “plusies.”  And Vivi isn’t just her sister, she’s “sissy.”  They both call each other that now.  The boys are jealous because maybe “bro” doesn’t ring with the sound of affection or coolness like “sissy” does.  

Her Daddy often says about her, Marian really knows how to have fun.  Her brothers and sister almost always want to play with her (even though she is quick to jump on an opportunity to visit a neighbor or play at someone else’s house.)  She can turn any little stretch of waiting or playing into super-fun with a new rule to play by or a twist of some kind.  And, maybe you can guess, sometimes the sad side of this is that she can be pretty darn bossy/selfish too.... But let’s move on.  

She wants to be a teacher- she’s gone from Sunday School teacher, to ballet teacher, to just teacher.... and she always wants to be a mama too.  She’s already a sweet and loving mama to her “kids” the stuffed animals and dolls of the highest ranking that get to sleep on her bed with her.  And she takes care of her siblings when they need their beds and kids organized too.  

A dear friend of mine sat at a table with Marian and I while Marian was talking about homeschool.   Marian asked me "what is that place, where Geogre Washington lived?"  "You mean Mount Vernon?"  "Yea, I want to take that moon thing, after I get married there."  "Your honeymoon?"  "Yep, I want to have a homeschool honeymoon."  Alycia remarked that it seems to be good evidence that Marian is enjoying homeschool enough if she wants to plan a homeschool honeymoon!  We'll see what her one-day husband thinks about that plan.

She loves music.  She's doing well at piano these days, especially loving Swan Lake, and also always ready to sing….  My favorite is hearing her make up her own worship songs while she stares out the window for a ride (car, ferry, airplane.)  All of it brings out musical worship from our girl.  She's deeply concerned to share the Good News with friends too…  Man, we just adore this girl.  Just can’t put in words how exceedingly grateful or delighted we are to get to be her mom and dad.  

UPDATE:  I just remembered a few more things that really must get slipped into this record of our girl.  How she signs for packages.  I've just gotten into buying some groceries online here so we've been getting more packages lately.  The delivery bikes have to park at the front gate of our complex and wait for everyone in the complex to come and get their stuff. so when we get a call, Marian is usually the quickest to go down and she's very proud to sign her name for a package:   M A R I A N.  Nobody fusses about it b/c they can't read it either since it's not in Chinese characters.  

And this too, about gift-giving.  Recently we had boys at our house while I picked up our girls to bring them back and Marian wanted to buy gifts for them.  I told her "I'm sorry dear I didn't bring any money.  We'll have to do it another time."  She replied emphatically, "But mom, you can't spend all your money on stuff for us every time!  I brought my own money to buy lollipops for them."  And yesterday, when I took May and John shopping to buy a gift for Isaiah's birthday, she never found a gift worthy of him so we have to go to a little store near us today to finalize the deal.  But as she looked, she preferred gifts that were smaller, that she could pay for with just her money and John's rather than getting a bigger gift that would require a contribution from me.  This girl. so super thoughtful about her gifts!

Last  A little while ago I read to the kids a beautiful biography of Abraham Lincoln.   This telling of his story ended with his glorious achievements as president, the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil War and plans for Reconstruction.  And as the last happy page closed, Marian remembered what was next.  "I remember from Caddie Woodlawn (a story I read aloud to them nearly a year ago) that Abraham Lincoln was shot."  I'm so glad to know she's catching these details and that the significant pieces are sticking with her...

Vivian Hope

Vivi has grown so much in the past few months and this list has grown with her.  I started trying to record where she was at and how she was growing about 5 months ago, and I can see her advances compared to the things I’m listing currently for her.  

From late fall-
Vivi loved running circles on the carpet in the living room (thanks Grether!).  It was part sport, part dance and part thing-she-did-when-she-wanted-to-think-clearest-on-a-subject.  She LOVES to pray at mealtime and all fall there was only one prayer for her:  “Ganxie Yesu”... (Thank you Jesus) in the sweet little memorized prayer that she prays at preschool.  She loves fruit and sneaks oranges like a true addict.  Her cute 2-year-old voice/accent shines in “sp-” words, that she says all with an “sf-” sound:  sficy, sfank, sfoon, and I love when she asks me, “Mama, can I have sfarkly lips?” (Meaning “can I wear lipgloss?”)  

Another s- specialty for her is “swimsoup”... instead of “swimsuit.”  And just one more cutey word:  Toney Nails!!  Her exclamation when I bring out toenail polish for the girls...

She has no fear whatsoever of her siblings... and sometimes she should show a bit more humility or respect.  A few times when she disapproved of their choices or actions, she would walk up to one of their tummies (probably Isaiah or Marian) and hit them in the tummy.  They would laugh and she would stomp away.  Another time Matt watched her hit Isaiah, and then when she realized she wasn’t hurting him with her hand, she started to jab at him with her elbow.    Does there really need to be any more evidence for sinful nature? 

More recently, this winter-
She's showing herself to be a sweet singer and is super interested in playing piano too.  She remembers tunes (like Isaiah playing Star Wars on the piano) and she can sing along to the melody doo-doo-doo....  She knows "Good Guy Star Wars" from "Bad Guy Star Wars" songs and she knows maybe two dozen worship or kids fun songs, with more lyrics than I usually remember!  

She is super demonstrative with her facial expressions and her hands... often making gestures above her head.  I wish I could etch the sweetness on my mind and heart, when she comes up to me and asks, “Mama, can I have a date?” and ends with both her hands (and eyebrows) lifted high, hands above her head, palms facing up, fingers all quirky.  Or like today, when she asked “Mama, Uncle Jonathan is feeling sick?”  Again, hands up and face frowning dramatically with great concern.  Precious.

And how blessed we are in this For several months, Vivi has been in the habit of waking up many times a night.  We count it a good thing that she wakes to go potty, though I will be excited for her to learn to hold it for maybe just one potty run a night?  That would be nice.  But she was waking several times a night to just ask us to lay down with her or to tell us it was too dark (which meant, "come lay down with me.")  I thought that maybe her third birthday soon would be a good time to transition with her to not calling out for us at night.  But then I thought I'd just talk with her about it. how big girls sleep through the night and cuddle their moms and dads in the daytime.  How mom and dad need to sleep on our bed at night just like she needs to sleep on her bed.  Well, I should have thought of this MUCH earlier because she ran with it.  She's only called out 2-3 times in 2 weeks now.  So thoughtful of her :) (and dumb of me to not have talked with her about it earlier!)

Vivi's got class.  Everyday recently when she comes into the house, she takes her off her shoes by the front door, and right about the place where I put on my ugly-cushy house shoes, she slips on the fanciest sfarkly shoes she's got. dress up shoes with a tiny rhinestone bow in front and itsy-bitsy heels, for the everyday lounge around the house look. 

Her words are loosing the baby sound and most of the sf-business is gone but she says this line too, that I love (though I still offer her the correct version when she says it)  “Mama, what is this’s?”  And these days, she’s quick to tell me about her favorites... favorite picture, favorite color, favorite food.  

She told me this evening, when we were looking at a pic of her and Matt, “that’s my Dad.  He’s my favorite daddy.  He’s so pretty.”  I laughed and asked her again, “are you sure he’s pretty or maybe is he handsome?”  She realized and she laughed all the more and told me confidently, with a laugh on her face, “He’s soooo pretty.”  I love her laugh.  She’s got a little forced laugh that she uses not as a make-me-the-center of everyone's attention, obnoxious kind of belly laugh, but as a dainty sweet exclamation at the end of some dialogue.  Oh to bottle it for a sip-scent of joy, pure joy.   

When we were all playing around, thinking of blog names for our kiddos, I said we could call Vivi’s page “Lil Miss Polite.”  She’s so on the ball when it comes to greeting guests, “thank you for coming,”  and she notices better than anyone an opportunity for a kind “thank you” in Chinese or English.  But then again, she’s already got “stupid” down too, so the politeness is definitely not perfect!

Very often at the table, while Matt is making funny faces with Vivi (they do it like a showdown, who can out-funny-face the other) I’ll gasp and ask Matt with my eyes, “Can you believe how precious, delightful she is?  Can you believe we get to enjoy this girl?”  We are amazed to have this one as our littlest love..... she is oh so precious to us!  Thank you, Lord, for these two girls.

UPDATE:  A few more things I've remembered late but just can't let slide away from me long.   She's a butter swiper.  slick little finger with a thick pile of yellow, she sucks it down like it's candy.  Gross,I know, but she loves it.  

One time when she was sitting on her little potty and I was waiting for her to be done, she looked up at me and told me, rather seriously, "God is at our house."  Based on my reaction, every time since then she says that line, which has become a favorite of hers, with a happy, confident smile.  Way to make her mama glad.  

And again from the bathroom:  While she's taking care of business, many times I'll work on laundry (our washer is in the bathroom).  There was a season when I thought the washer wasn't working well and I closed up the load and started it saying "Thank you Lord that our washer is working."  And now she loves to help close the door and the soap tray for each load saying that same happy line over and over again and now she says it for every thing in the bathroom too, "Thank you Lord that the toilet is flushing."   "Thank you Lord that the faucet is working."  Yes.   more of that perspective please, Lord.  I'm so grateful for her grateful glad heart!  Oh to learn from my baby girl!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

a ferry ride from the big city...

on the ferry from Hong Kong to Cheung Chau, "our" little island
Our time in Hong Kong was covered with the kind of grace that brings tears of grateful awe and sweetest, simple joy.  I got to spend several mornings in the Word, relaxed on a faded plastic lounge chair just perfectly shaded, listening to birds, enjoying the fresh breeze, hearing my kids laughing happy at play nearby.  We were in a clean place, a bit crowded overall but totally peaceful at the top of the hill where we slept.  It was truly, super beautiful, surrounded by soil and living green and brilliant, clear blue, even the scent of life in that clear air.  Our kids had swings and toys to play with right outside our door and most days at the retreat where we stayed, there were other families with kiddos to play with too.  We walked by thousands of people who smiled kindly at us and didn’t stop us to ask if all four kids were ours and didn’t gasp and laugh that we could speak their language with them.  

It was refreshingly restful and joyful even though most days we had at least one kiddo injured or ill..... but we had time for cuddles and long read alouds and lots of time for hearts all growing together.  I think my favorite thing in the world is to be with this family of mine (oh the grace of this!) for long talks, appreciating each other’s hearts, listening long to each other’s words, enjoying their eyes, looking to find and enjoy the exquisite beauty inside each of them.    

There was the evening that we ate dessert alone at the table (usually we ate dinner with other families at the retreat) and Daddy read the last chapters of Andrew Peterson’s third novel (in the Wingfeather saga) and we all burst into tears... yes, even Daddy had the real stuff running down his cheeks.  What a story!  What a precious, precious time together.  The whole of it was our sweetest family vacation yet.   

We stayed in a very cool retreat located on Cheung Chau island, about a half hour ferry ride from Hong Kong island.   Home to 30,000 people and A. Lot. more that come to vacation there.  The neatest thing is that there are no cars allowed on the island (except for ambulance and police).  It took me several days to feel like I was in a “real” place and not a museum or an amusement park.  No cars!  No roads!  (They make do with push-carts and trolleys like in the pic below).  A thin little sidewalk was as wide as most the “road” ever got on the island.  It made for such a quaint, endearing charm and our retreat at the top of the hill was well worth the sweat of getting luggage and kiddos up the slope for the beauty and calm awayness of that blessed place.    We are so grateful to the Lord for this vacation.  and for the perfect excuse that made us go:  needing to renew passports.  (And with the orderliness of Hong Kong, that part got done glitchlessly too.)

Don't tell the baboons, but I'm pretty sure the highlight of our time at the Botanical and Zoological Gardens, (beautiful and FREE!  We love Hong Kong!) besides visiting with cool friends from our Asian home city, was this kid with his bubbles in the park area.  

So we indulged and bought a bit of bubble joy of our own

on the way to the pirates' cave.
Yep… it was the real deal (about a century before they walked into it).  Sorry no pics of the cavern...

(somebody's else's, of course)

I love this man. 
"downtown" on the island 
(proof:   I was there too!)  This was the "road" to our retreat place.   

PS ~ Our little blog has been nearly abandoned so far this year but I'm hoping to get a bit of time to post in the next week or two.  Must scratch the writing itch….you know what I mean?  And too, there will be too many more photos of the kiddos.  I've been working on the next installment for their blog-o growth charts.  How fun to share the record of the Father's grace at work in them, with you!