Sunday, June 28, 2009

Because creativity is stifled by stifling heat...

I have several topics floating around in my brain right now, and I'm having difficulties turning any of them into full-blown creative posts . So, I have decided to write all of them in a single entry via the all-inclusive list format. Please, try to contain your excitement.

1. Yesterday, I laughed REALLY HARD at church. But I cannot tell you why here. If you would like to know, please comment, email, or facebook. I would LOVE to share with some peeps in a not-so-public arena. I mean, seriously, laughed REALLY HARD.

2. Chloe has suddenly reached a new level of "the terrible twos." Cheese and crackers, it's awful! I am at a complete loss! She spends more of her day in time-out than out of it. (I apologize to my high school English teach for the awkwardness of that sentence. It just goes to show how very fried my brain is at this moment.) Seriously, it's like she's never heard the word "no" before because each time I use it, she looks at me with these "gasp-I-can't-believe-you-just-told-me-'no'-and-now-I'm-devastated" eyes before throwing an all-out-lie-in-the-floor-flailing-arms-high-pitched-whine fit. If any of you moms out there have some creative advice for how to "lovingly" shut this mess DOWN fast, I'm aallllllll ears.

3. I was totally composing a post in my brain about this. But Missy at It's Almost Naptime beat me to it and, might I add, did a much better job than I could have. I just found her page a few weeks ago, and it has quickly become a favorite read. Check it out.

4. The rainy season has arrived in South Korea. What does this mean? It means rain in the morning and the most humid weather I have ever experienced in the afternoons. And, being from Georgia, that's saying a lot. Oh, and Bee Tee Dubbayu, we don't have A/C. We did have it for a few glorious hours one afternoon last week, but then the building unit went out, leaving us with a glorified ceiling fan. It's hot, y'all. And I mean HOT.

5. Chloe went to a Korean doctor for the first time last Monday. He confirmed what google suspected: she has mild bronchial asthma. If it stays at this stage, it shouldn't affect her life. She should still be able to do sports, play outside, scream at the top of her Kesler lungs, etc. Basically, it only gets "inflamed" as a result of a cold, upper-respiratory infection, etc. So, as long as we see the doctor right away when she gets sick, we should be able to keep her "attacks" to a minimal.

6. I'm not making any grand political statement here but, you know that doctor's appointment? We were in and out in less than 15 minutes, and it cost about $4.50 USD, medicine and all. Um, yay! for socialized health care.

7. There's a "Safety Show" on Playhouse Disney where a family named their three children, "Lou, Louise, and LuLu." Seriously? I'm pretty sure this makes some grand statement about the decline of our society... and I'm determined to figure out what that statement is. I'll get back to you soon on that one.

8. I have decided not to make the hormone/weight loss videos right now. I know, I know. I promised, but seeing as how that promise was over three months ago, I kind of doubt any of you were still holding your breath for those videos anyways. The fact is that all those hormonal problems I was having, they are starting to resurface. So I'm going to try to get all that stuff back under control before I attempt any grand weight-loss plan. In the meantime, I'll eat sensibly and continue my regular (albeit not that difficult) post natal pilates.

9. Maple has completely dropped one of her night-time feedings, meaning I only have to get up once in the middle of the night for about 15 minutes. Can I get a whoop WHOOP?!

10. Did I mention it's hot?!!! I think the temperature went up 10 degrees while I was writing this post. Dang.

That is all.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Saturday Survey... except it's Sunday.. so, um... Sunday Survey!!!

I'm really feeling a lack of creativity these days. So memes are saving me! This one is from Amy Beth at MinistrySoFabulous. Whoop WHOOP!


Available: For what? ... I'm married.

Age: American: 25. Korean: 27.

Annoyance: Dirty socks in the floor.... perhaps I should have chosen a different profession. :)

Animals? No, thank you.


Best feeling in the world: Knowing you are loved.

Best weather: Right before a thunderstorm... when the sky is dark and the wind is blowing and the air smells of rain and the electricity makes your hair stand on end. Yum! Yum!

Been in love: AM in love.

Been on stage: Many times in high school... not so much these days.

Boys: Sure. Like to make a couple of my own some day.


Candy: Like it as a name. Not a fan of it as a food.

Chinese / Mexican food: I tolerate both.

Cake or pie: Hm. Cake, I think. Unless it's homemade apple pie... then it's pie. Unless the cake is 12-layer chocolate... then its cake.

Continent to visit: Hoping the next one will be Australia. Wait, that is a continent, right?

Dancing in the rain: How 'bout watching the rain while safely snuggled inside reading a book?

Drop things: All the time. Though, thankfully, neither of my children yet.

Dog: Eh.

Diamonds: I love mine, only because they serve reminders of beautiful moments in my life (engagement, wedding, birth of our first child, etc.)


Eyes: Dark brown. My mother says it's like chocolate. Others have said it's like I'm full of...

Everyone’s got: toes. Hm. Not sure why I thought of that first.


First thought when you wake up: "What time is it?" because I need to know whether to get up and start breakfast of just send Chloe back to bed.

Food: Macaroni and Cheese.


Greatest fear: Abandonment... and living a "safe" life. Yeah, sometimes those fears clash.

Gum: Yes, please.

Happy: Relatively speaking.

Holiday: Thanksgiving... and July 4th. I'm going to miss both of those this year. :(


Ice cream: Recently, cookies 'n' cream. Staple, moose tracks.

Instrument: Flute and a little guitar. Would love to play piano.


Jewelry: I have one pair of earrings and one necklace that I wear almost every day. Brandon gave me the earrings when we were dating. He gave me the necklace on my first Mother's Day as a mommy.

Job: Wife, Mommy and soon-to-be teacher?


Keep a journal? Three: this one, a private online one, and a private hand-written one used for my quiet time.

Kissing: Only with my hubby and little girls. I'm not a huge fan of PDA otherwise.


Laughed so hard you cried: Probably. Can't remember specifics.

Last time slept: For about two hours this morning - between 5:30am and 7:30am. Ah, the sleep-deprived joys of motherhood.

Movies: Amazing Grace. If you haven't seen it, RENT IT NOW. It holds my favorite movie quote of all time: "We understand that you are having trouble deciding whether you should do the work of God or to stay in politics. May we humbly suggest, you can do both.”

Motion sickness: Och! Unfortunately.


Not ready for: this adventure to end.

Name: Yes, I have one.


One wish: If I had only one? ...Some things are too close to the heart....

Perfect pizza: Pizza Hut, thin crust, beef 'n' bacon with extra cheese. Healthy, no?

Pets: a fish.


Quote you’re loving: "I may be strong-minded, but no one can say I'm out of my sphere now, for woman's special mission is supposed to be drying tears and bearing burdens."
-Loisa May Alcott, Little Women


Reality TV: Jon & Kate, that is all.


Song of the moment: Anything by... *cringe*... Taylor Swift. I know. I KNOW.

Salad Dressing: Hidden Valley ranch. Yay! for hubby bringing a massive bottle from the states!

Strawberries: Korean strawberries really are the best I've ever had!!


Thunderstorms: Yes, please.

Trust: Must be earned, can be lost, but is rarely a true mistake.


Unpredictable: Life.


Vacation spot: The Mountains... preferably, Cara Maggie's family cabin. :) :) That still remains, potentially, my favorite place on earth.


Weakness: Coffee... and gossip. I'm working on letting go of both...

Worst feeling: Fear of being unloved... and regret.


X-rays: A necessary evil, I suppose. They should have said "x-ray vision" because, well, that would be awesome.


Yellow: Reminds me of baby poop.


Zoo animal: Do brothers count? KIDDING!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Know & Tell Friday

It's Friday y'all (at least, here in Korea it is), and you know what that means:

...from To Know Him

Here are today's questions:

1. On a normal day...You just pulled out a load of laundry from your dryer, what would be the next thing you do?

Well, I don't actually have a dryer. Here in Korea, very few people have dryers, and the ones that do have them only have small, "apartment dryers" that don't work very well anyways. So, I hang all my clothes here:

And here:

When the laundry dries - be it after two hours or two days, depending on the weather - what I do with it depends on what kind of day we're having in our house. If it's a low-key, easy day, I fold the laundry as I pull it off the line and put it in my favorite lime green laundry basket:

Then I take the basket to each room of the house and put the laundry away. However, on days when we're busy or when the girls need more attention than normal, I simply make room for the next load by removing the dry clothes from the rack and throwing them into the lime green basket unfolded. Usually, the basket of unfolded clothes sits in my living room a day or ten... sometimes longer...

2. Have you seen all three movies from the Kendrick Brothers? Fireproof, Facing the Giants, and Flywheel... If not, go out and rent them today. If so tell me what you thought of them.

I have never heard of Flywheel, but I'm definitely putting it on my "soon-to-be downloaded" list because, y'all, I LUH-HUV Facing the Giants and Fireproof. I like Facing the Giants mainly because it was filmed in my home state, using actors from the local churches and high schools. That just makes me happy. :) But Fireproof? Oh, my, how I love that movie!!! Even my husband, who normally scoffs at sappy Christian movies, recommended this one to his friends. So many movies in our culture show the "ugly spouse" in a failing marriage and then the "beautiful affair" that brings "real love" into the character's life. I love that this movie lays it all out there. Yes, sometimes marriage is hard - like, gut-wrenching, I-have-no-more-tears, how-did-we-get-here kind of hard. But I LOVE that we finally have a movie where the answer to that kind of marriage isn't found in a lustful affair, but rather in sacrificing to honor vows and to love relentlessly - "as Christ loves the church."

How did I get on that soap box again?

3. Currently is there something in your life that you feel God wants you to give up or surrender to Him?

Sheesh. Where do I begin? I guess my primary area right now is my reputation. You see, while there are wonderful advantages to living in a close-knit community like I do, there are also some drawbacks, especially with all the cultural differences. People know when you go to the store, when you take out the trash, when you dress in shorts, and when you don't wear makeup. Every step I take outside my apartment (and sometimes inside my apartment) is noticed by someone. This fact in and of itself doesn't really bother me that much. I absolutely love the sense of community we have here, even if it does mean losing a little bit of privacy.

But the problem is this: I have a very hard time balancing between wanting to be "culturally appropriate" and wanting to be "liked by everyone." There is a huge difference, for sure. Being "culturally appropriate" means I dress modestly and carefully attempt to adhere to the rules that dictate relationships here. Wanting them to "like me" (read: approve of me) leads me down an entirely different thought life. What are they wearing? Should I wear shorts or capris? sandals or flip flops? hair up or down? How do they dress their kids? Are Chloe's tennis shoes too gaudy? Is Maple dressed too warmly or too cold for their liking? Are their toddlers as dirty as mine by the end of the day? Do the bottom of their socks get dirty like mine? (Seriously, I actually started looking at the bottom of other moms' socks in the mommy-baby room.)

I find myself constantly analyzing and over-analyzing what they might think of me and my family.

This is a thought pattern that the Lord has exposed in my heart over the past week, and I feel He's calling me to give it up.

I mentioned earlier that I am really trying to connect with the Samonims in my building, and that connection is not possible (at least not to the degree that I would like) as long as my own insecurities about their opinion of me get in the way. I must remember that I am simply called to walk in love towards my neighbors. Sometimes that means adhering to culturally appropriate boundaries in what I wear and how I look. But my motive should be to love them and show them respect through my actions and appearance... not freak out over what they think of me.

So that's it. That's what I'm working on changing... and giving up.

Well, that, and chocolate pancakes. But that's just too painful to talk about right now...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Jon & Kate

I have been debating with myself since yesterday about whether or not I would join the legions of bloggers who offer their not-so-informed opinions about Jon & Kate's recent decision.

It's Jon's fault. It's Kate's fault. It's TLC's fault. It's the viewing audience's fault.

So many opinions; so many judgments.

I know this sounds silly, but I have prayed for this family since I started watching the show. I have also thanked the Lord for their testimony - that, despite their difficulties, they rely on Him and love each other. And on days when things are really hard around here, I think about Kate and how she relies on the Lord for her strength. (If you haven't read Multiple Bles8ings by Kate, it's an eye-opening read.)

I'm not really one to become "invested" in reality TV. I assume most of it is fake. But, as I have said before, I find myself drawn to Kate - maybe because I see a little of myself in her.

So here we are. It has come down to filing for divorce, and I'm not sure what to say about it. I think Leslie Ruth said everything I'm thinking, and she said it much better than I ever could.

I will say this much. Just give me a minute to find a soap box to stand on...

Divorce sucks. For everyone involved. Whether it hurts when it happens... or it doesn't hurt until 10 years later... eventually, it hurts everybody.

And there is some lie floating around our society - and in our church - that through divorce "maybe now I can be happy" or "maybe now we can have some peace" or "maybe now we can move on and things will get better." BUT THE WAGES OF SIN IS DEATH, Y'ALL. And so thinking that SIN is going to bring the PEACE that we seek is the very definition of false expectations.

I'm not saying the Lord can't redeem a divorced situation. I'm not saying that, if we turn our hearts to Him, that he can't work things together for good.

I myself have seen that play out in my own family. I have seen how divorce hurts. How, even though it was supposed to be for the better, it hurt I have also seen the Lord's goodness to bring about good for everyone involved. I have a step-family (on both sides) that I could not imagine my life without. I would not be where I am today without them in my life.

But that doesn't change the fact that Divorce Sucks. It doesn't bring peace. It doesn't solve our problems. It IS NOT the "best decision for our kids."

Ok. Stepping off my soap box. Click on over to Diary of a Southern Drama Queen because, honestly, she just said it right.

* Of course, there are Biblical reasons for divorce, and this post is not meant to heap guilt or condemnation on individuals caught in those situations. In this post, I refer only to the use of divorce as an "escape" from marital problems. An "easy" out.

** I'm also not implying that Kate doesn't have grounds for a Biblical divorce. I don't know the details, and I'm sure that few do. Basically, this situation has just made me angry at the Devil, and I'm just making a statement - a fact of life, if you will - about divorce in general. It sucks. That's it.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Down and up and down down down.

Today was an up and down day. More downs than ups, I'm afraid.

But I don't want to talk about the downs tonight. I want to remember the beautiful parts of today because the ups were really up.

First of all, today was our first day back to church since Maple Anne was born. One of the samonims delivered a baby boy just five days after Maple arrived; so this was her first Sunday back also. It was nice sharing the experience with another mom. We walked in together, showed off our babies, sat next to each other in the mommy-baby room, and then proceeded downstairs to Senior Pastor's office.

It is tradition in Korean churches for a new baby to be presented to and blessed by the Pastor upon her first visit to the church. So Brandon and Chloe met me and Maple in Pastor's waiting room along with Samonim's family with their new baby. We went first, and Pastor prayed a very special blessing over Maple Anne and over our family while our good friend Eun Young (a Pastor-in-training at the church) interpreted. I really wish I could have recorded his prayer because it truly was something beautiful. In the midst of it, I felt like Mary in Luke 2:19. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

It was one of those beautiful moments that I hope I can remember in vivid detail for the rest of my life.

Later in the day, while we were all sitting around the house in our underwear because (hello!) it's bloomin' hot here and (ugh!) our air conditioner is basically a glorified fan, our home phone rang. A man on the other end introduced himself and asked to meet with Brandon after the late service to discuss Chloe Jane. Um... that's random. Ok, I guess?

Let me preface their conversation with some history. Brandon and I decided a while ago that the fall Chloe turns three (this fall), we will send her to some kind of preschool or Mother's Morning Out, etc. That is, we had decided that before we new we were moving to Korea. But upon arriving here, we realized how difficult that would actually be. In a place like Seoul, there are several different English-speaking preschools that would be happy to take an American child (if only to help the other children speak English more quickly). But in the less metropolitan city where we live, there is only one (very expensive) school. We heard the price, and discovered that it was almost half of Brandon's monthly salary. Also, we weren't sure if "English School" meant "school where Koreans teach English" or if it really meant "we speak English here." Needless to say, we tabled that option for, like, ever. Since that time, we have really been praying about what to do this fall. Should we keep Chloe in the house for yet another long winter? Should we send her to a Korean school and hope she picks up the language (something that would help her build relationships with the children in our building)? We really had no idea what to do with her, that is, until this morning.

Turns out, that one English-speaking school here in Cheonan? It's owned and managed by a couple that attends our church. They heard that we had been looking into preschool options, and wanted to meet with Brandon to tell him that they are willing to give a HUGE discount for Chloe's tuition. Also, their teachers are both native English speakers (from Australia, America, and parts of Europe) as well as native Korean speakers. They teach both English and Korean (and HUGE plus!!!). The owner offered to let us tour the facility any time this summer, and we definitely plan on taking him up on that. We're still not 100% positive if we will do this. A lot depends on what classes (if any) I will take this fall. But also? Due to the location of the school, in order for Chloe to attend, my three-year-old daughter will have to board a school bus every morning... on her own... by herself. And by that I mean, without her mommy. I have no doubt that she will be fine. It's very common for Korean children that young to ride a school bus, and I'm sure most of them do it without permanent injury. I'm just not sure if I will be fine. It breaks my mommy-heart a little to think of it. But, as I said, we will continue to think and pray about it. Still, it's nice to know we have an English option come this fall. Woo hoo!

So, those are the better parts of today.

While I won't go into all the details of what made parts of this day sooooo down, I will ask for prayer for one specific thing: Chloe Jane's health. She has had a pretty nasty cough off and on since we arrived in Korea. This time around, it has become much, much worse. Sometimes she coughs so hard it's difficult for her to catch her breath, causing her to throw up. According to google (a.k.a. hypochondriacs anonymous), all signs point to a form of childhood asthma. We're going to a doctor tomorrow to have some tests run. Please be praying a.) for good communication between me and the doctors, despite the language barrier, b.) for a correct diagnosis, and c.) for a treatment to that diagnosis.

Ok peeps, that's it for now. Sorry this wasn't very creatively written. I just wanted to get it all out of my head before it left for good. You know how that is, right? Wait, right?

I should go back and proofread this randomness...

Whew, it's late. I'm going to bed. G'night y'all.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Happy Happy Day Day

So yesterday was my sweet hubby's birthday. We're not big on gifts around here, and hubby bought most things that he needed/wanted when he took his trip to the states a couple weeks ago. So, in place of store-bought gifts, I substituted (what else?) fattening food. :)

Per his request, I cooked French Toast for breakfast - a rarity around these parts due to the ridiculous cost of butter which, as we all know, is the very foundation of good French toast. Unfortunately, I failed to take pictures of the buttery goodness. Please try to manage your disappointment.

I did, however, manage to snap a couple shots of the "All-American" dinner that I cooked for his birthday. The corn dogs were frozen and cooked in the microwave. Please, try not to hate me for my culinary genius. It takes years to master microwave perfection. The other two dishes were simply salads.

"But what is that fourth dish that can only be described as looking scrumptrulescently greasy?" you may ask. It is, my dear readers, homemade cheese fries. Oh, yes.

And then there was the cake, which is store bought because, well, we don't have an oven and because, well, do I look like Betty Crocker to you?

Korean cakes really are fabulous.

And finally... the birthday boy... who is actually a man... because he turned 26... more than halfway to 30... just thought I'd mention that...

And now for the rest of the pictures (mainly featuring Chloe's consumption of an unspeakable amount of birthday cake)...

Brandon's birthday and some

So that's pretty much it. We may not have grand adventures, and we may not give great gifts... but we certainly do know how to celebrate with food.

Here's to grease and empty calories!!

Happy Birthday, honey! I love you!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Know & Tell Friday Meme

Today I am participating in a meme from To Know Him entitled "Know and Tell". The idea of the meme is for bloggers to get to know each other a little better. So each week, she asks three questions for us bloggers to answer. Most bloggers are leaving comments on her page; so check them out. As for me, I had nothing better write about. Hence, my answers here on the blog.

So, here goes...

1. Have you ever been bitten by an animal? (let's only say yes if the bite was a serious one.) If yes, tell about it and what happened.

I have never required medical attention for an animal bite. However, I have been pecked (rather ferociously) behind the knee by a rooster in my Granddaddy's corn patch. While no stitches were required, it was quite the traumatic childhood experience. To this day, I am terrified of most birds, and I feel a small sense of satisfaction when boiling a whole chicken.

2. When are you at your best? Morning, noon or night?

I used to absolutely love the nighttime, and I still do most of my best creative thinking after 10pm. But I find I have more energy for the every-day stuff (cooking, cleaning, playing with Chloe Jane) in the late morning, around 10am-noon. Earlier than that, and I am more zombie than mommy. But by noon, nap time has come upon us, and I am ready to take advantage of it with my own little snoozer.

3. How is your Quiet Time at this present season in your life? (Quiet Time refers to the time you spend alone with God through prayer and reading of His word...Q.T. could have other elements, but prayer and Bible reading are the main focus) If you can give us a little example of when and where you do your Q.T. If you are struggling with having a Q.T. what can you do to develop a Q.T.?

Right now my QT is a bit sporadic. As I've mentioned in previous posts, adding a second child into the mix has seriously challenged my time management skills (or lack thereof). So I basically try to squeeze in some "God 'n' me" time whenever - if ever - the house is quiet. Often, I do my QT in my bed because the bedside table in my room is the one place where I know my Bible, journal, highlighter, pen, and whatever book I'm reading, can reside without being disturbed or strewn about the house.

For me, QT looks different during different seasons of life. When life is really crazy difficult, I usually just end up sitting silently with some worship music playing. I know this seems a bit superficial since there is no "in depth" studying or "hard core" intercession going on. But when life is that hard, I can find no better solution than to readjust my focus - to remind myself (through worship) that though my problems are big, my God is infinitely bigger. He is sovereign. He is good. And no matter what storm rages around me, He is in control. Worship helps put all that into perspective.

But recently, my QT has been focused in the book of Hebrews. For some reason, the subject of suffering and Grace have been constant themes in my "conversations" with the Lord over the past couple months. I am finding that the book of Hebrews is absolutely amazing in showing how those two concepts (I am convinced) often come hand-in-hand in a Christian's life.

I am also finding a new meaning to the word "meditation" when it comes to scripture. Here in our Korean church, there is a lot of focus on quiet, humble piety - on really digesting the Word and really considering every word before one is spoken in prayer. Any time a scripture is read in the service, it is always followed by a brief moment of collective silent reflection. So, learning from this new way of "doing church," I am taking more time to really focus and reflect on what I'm reading. Sometimes that means taking a couple weeks to work through a chapter - rereading it, picking out the important ideas/phrases/words. And you know what? Hebrews has really come alive to me. I have read it before, a couple times, in one of those "read the Bible in a year" deals. I'm not knocking that... there's something to be said for getting the big picture by reading the whole thing in a novel-like fashion. But this is different. I find things there I have never seen before. Phrases that I used to graze past because they didn't make sense, suddenly jump off the page and offer answers. It really is an amazing new way (at least, new to me) to study God's Word. And I'm really loving it.

My prayer time recently has been admittedly selfish. "How can I help Chloe during these transitions?" "How can I manage my time better in my home?" "Heal me, Lord." "Give me patience to endure, Lord." While I really enjoy our conversations, I also realize there is a greater need for me to pray for others as well. This is something that I am working on. However, I am finding that, since there are so few moments of quiet in our home, my "official"' QT is better spent in the Word. So I am trying to learn to pray for others and bask in God's presence while completing the every-day mundane tasks (a la Brother Lawrence).

So that's it. I could go on an on, but I won't - mainly because I'm not sure you readers would be very interested, but also because Maple Anne just woke up.

Stay tuned for more memes...

Another day in the U.S. of... wait....

So, while on my normal blog jog this afternoon, I was so grateful to find this little link gem through It's Almost Nap Time.

I can't agree more that every mom (particularly those of us in the throws of toddler years) must read this article.

I was so encouraged by it today... especially since last night's dinner dishes are still in the sink and the laundry that went in the wash this morning has still not been hung up. Such is life these days.

In other news, Maple Anne had her first doctor's appointment today. She was deemed "very healthy" and has gained 2.5lbs in a month! I really love those little roly-poly legs. However, she also got her first shots today: Hepatitis B and Tuberculosis (something that kids in the states don't have to get, I think). She was a little trooper. After just a few screams (and some yummy mommy milk) she drifted off to sleep before we left the office. Now she's running the typical low-grade fever and sleeping the day away. Poor little thing.

Chloe Jane has her first summer cold. That's always fun. Runny nose, coughing, the works. And again I say: poor little thing. So she stayed home today and watched Little Einstein for an ungodly amount of time. Each episode is a "reward" for drinking 5 gulps of water. "But isn't that bribery?" you ask. You bet it is. And, oh yes, it works. We've emptied two juice cups since noon. Can I get a whoop WHOOP?!

Also, today is sweet hubby's birthday!!! Happy Day, my love!!

I got up (before the doctor's appointment) and made French Toast for breakfast (a rare treat because of the cost of butter 'round these parts). For dinner we have: corn dogs, cheese fries, fruit salad, and birthday cake. We celebrate American-style, what can I say?

So, with all the craziness that today entailed, is it any wonder those clothes are still sitting there?

Anywho... all in all, today has been a pretty decent (albeit abnormal) day.

Hope all the family has a great time at Kid's Camp this week! Wish we could be there with you! Love you lots!

Peace out.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Join me for breakfast, won't you?

...mainly because I need to practice cool features on my new camera.

First of all, I got a new cutting board which, um, I kind of love.

Secondly, pancakes make the world a better place, don't you think? Especially when accompanied by hot coffee.

Finally, I learned a valuable lesson today. All the best time management intentions in the world go out the window when the cook forgets to flip the pancake because she's too busy taking pictures of her cutting board. You like yours extra crispy, right?

A life's lesson in time management...

This is the end of Day 3 with nary a grandparent in sight. We are managing. And managing is exactly the right word for it. I never realized how much time management is involved with two little ones!

At this very moment, I am limiting my blog time to exactly ten minutes because in 13 minutes, hubby will be home, and I need to toast the garlic toast so that it will be warm when he walks in. Chloe Jane is in the tub, and will be ready to get out in exactly 15 minutes, which marks the beginning of her bedtime ritual (jammies, book, water, blanket, more water, Eskimo kisses, lights out). All this must be completed in exactly 30 minutes because, by that point, Maple Anne will be ready to eat again.

My entire day has run like that.

At the end of each of the last three days, I reflect back over the moments that didn't go so well and consider what I can do better to avoid such moments in the future.

Like the moment when I was trying to get that load of laundry hung up before Maple got too fussy from hunger. She was not yet at that critical point where, if she wasn't fed, she would go full-fledged, red-faced screaming infant. It just so happens that as she began to reach that point, Chloe Jane discovered a piece of string floating in her bath water, which caused her to scream out, "MOMMYYYYYYYYYY! IT'S DIRTY!!!! THE WATER!!!!!!!! IT'S A BUG!!!!!!! I WANT TO GET OUT!!!!!!!!!!!"

So there I was, standing with wet clothes in hand, bouncing a screaming infant while trying to reason with a panicky toddler.

It was not my finest moment. All I could do was laugh, let Maple scream, get Chloe out very quickly and leave her diapering/dressing for later, then comfort both of them on the couch - one in each arm - while finally feeding Maple.

At the end of that day, I decided that the laundry should have waited, and I should have fed Maple right when she woke up. Problem solved.

Each of the last three days have had moments like that (today more than the other two, it seems). And each day I learn something new about time management. I'm learning to do the things that really matter, and let the rest wait. And for the sake of peace in our home (and my own sanity), sometimes that means taking a nap when there is housework to be done.

And sometimes it means finishing a blog before I've said anything interesting because there is garlic toast to be made.

Toodle pip.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Hooked on Little Einstein Works for Me!

My daughter just flew into my room, arms flailing, eyes wide open, with a look that was part panic, part pure joy and announced at the top of her lungs:


Being the vigilant mother that I am, I dropped everything to find out which Playhouse Disney program was teaching my two year old about new-fangled cosmetics.

Ah. The Little Einsteins are in Egypt today.

Being the observant mother that I am, I deduced that she wanted to go to the Pyramids to see the Hieroglyphics.

Being the proud mother that I am, I wanted to reward my little genius with a trip to Egypt right now.

Being the honest mother that I am, I replied, "Maybe tomorrow."

Happy Saturday everyone!

The Redemption of Pink

There was a time in my life when I truly abhorred the color pink. It was like taste aversion, but more like sight aversion. There was a time that the color pink reminded me of the pink curtains that flapped in the spring breeze above my bed while I laid there and overheard a conversation that no little girl should ever have to hear. There was a time that the color pink made my stomach churn the way it churned that spring day so many years ago.

Then the Lord continued His healing work in me. And by my senior year of high school, I begrudgingly purchased my first pink sweater.

The color eventually peppered my wardrobe, but never my decor, even when living in an all-girls freshmen dorm. My roommates decorated with lilac, hot pink, soft pink, and various other shades of pink and purple. My half of the room was blue and yellow.

Even when I found out I was expecting my first little girl, I could not bring myself to decorate her room in the classic little girl pinks and purples. I tried, really. But in the end, the thought of walking into a fluttery-curtain hued room made my stomach churn yet again. Chloe's room was green and red - decorated with cherries.

But slowly the color pink came to hold an entirely different association. Because now, pink smelled like a precious baby. Pink felt warm and soft in my arms. Pink was the color of her cheeks and the feel of her warm breath in the crook of my neck.

Over the last three years, pink has come to mean something beautiful.

Pink means putting these away twenty five times a day and knowing that they have been worn by pink little toes:

Pink means changing my name to "Mommy Barbie":

Pink means the smell of these wrapped around my little girls:

Pink means cloud blankets and goodnight kisses:

Pink means soft skin in warm baths:

Pink means the love of two beautiful little girls:

And now I love all things pink. The color makes my heart jump and my world make sense. Because, now, pink has made my life feel complete. My two, sweet little girls.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Would you like some perspective with that coffee?

Started to write a post tonight but decided to read some other blogs first, just to get me in the blogging mood.

Then I read this over at MinistrySoFabulous.

Now nothing I have to say seems that important.

It's amazing what a little perspective can do.

Monday, June 8, 2009

"It's always easier to be the one leaving than to be the one being left"

The hardest part about this whole move has been the part about which nobody warned us:

It's the fact that the very move that places us right in the center of God's will, right in the place where we have found more peace and happiness than ever before in our lives... is the same move that brings so much sadness, disappointment, and even bitterness to the people we love.

There's no remedy for this, I'm afraid, exept to know that God is God, and He is good to all His children - the ones doing the leaving and the ones being left.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Because I KNOW you are DYING to know...

So, I normally don't do these things (at least, not on my blog). But Amy Beth did it, and I want to be cool just like her. So here it is...

1. What bill do you hate paying the most?

House Payment. Our mortgage company is stuck in the middle ages, and we have to actually mail them a money order. Never really thought about how lame that is until we moved overseas. Losers.

2. Do you miss being a child?

No way. Most confusing time of my life = age 6 to age 12.

3. What chore do you hate the most?

Putting away clothes. I don't mind the washing, hanging, or folding. But I really hate putting them away. Hm. Not sure why, now that I think of it.

4. Where was the last place you had a romantic dinner?

I can't really remember. We're not big "romance" people. Give me a piece of pizza I can eat while snuggled with my hubby on the couch, and I'm happy.

5. If you could go back and change one thing, what would it be?

I would be nicer to people, particularly from age 16 to age 20.

6. Name of your first grade teacher?

Mr.Eiseman. He was the coolest because he played hide and seek with us on the playground. I can remember a boy from another class asking me who my teacher was, and when I told him, he said, "awww man! Luckyyyyyyyyy!" I felt quite superior.

7. What do you really want to be doing right now?

Taking a walk with my family of four. It's such a nice day outside.

8. What did you want to be when you grew up?

I'm sure there were many things, but I only remember one: The President.

9. How many colleges did you attend?

Two. Lee University (the one I love!) and Unversity of Georgia (the only choice I had)

10. Why did you choose the shirt that you have on right now?

Because it's the only brown one I have that's clean. And when I want to feel good about myself, I wear brown. Not sure why.

11. What are your thoughts on gas prices?

Non-existent. I ride in subways and taxis. Wanna hear my thoughts on the recent increase in minimum taxi fees? I could rant and rave all day about that one.

12. Last thought before going to sleep last night?

"Please go to sleep, baby, please please please."

13. First thought when the alarm went off this morning?

No alarm. Just a little wimper coming from the crib. My thought? "Wow, she slept four hours straight!"

14. What famous person would you like to have dinner with?
Corrie Ten Boom.

15. Have you ever crashed your vehicle?

Yep. Totalled my jeep and the other guy's Honda. Not cool, man, not cool.

16. If you didn’t have to work, would you volunteer?

Hm. I used to volunteer a lot, and perhaps I will again some day. Right now I am content to minister in my home and "volunteer" with my husband's ministry when I can.

17. Get up early or sleep in?

Theoretically, I would like to get up early. In practice, sleep wins out over productivity every time.

18. What is your favorite cartoon character?
Pepper Ann. Do you remember her? "She's too cool for seventh grade."

19. When did you first start feeling old?

Hm. Just recently, I think. There is a fine line between feeling old and feeling sleep deprived, I think.

20. Favorite lunch meat?

Smoked turkey, shaved. Yum! Yum!

21. What do you get every time you go into Target?

Something from the dollar section. Aw, Target, how I miss thee. Let me count the ways: "one dollar, two dollar, three dollar, four."

22. Do you think marriage is an outdated ritual?

What an interesting question. Never thought about it, really. Outdated? No, I don't think so. Overused, perhaps, but not outdated.

23. Favorite movie you wouldn’t want anyone to find out about?

Eeek. Harry Potter. Don't hate me.

24. What’s your favorite drink?

Um. Coffee. As if you had to ask.

25. Who from high school would you like to run into?

Hmmm... there are lots of people. Maybe my Spanish teacher.

26. What radio station is your car radio tuned to right now?

No radio. No car.

27. Worst relationship mistake that you wish you could take back?

I plead the 5th.

28. Have you ever had to use a fire extinguisher for its intended purposes?

Nope. But I have had one fired at my head inside a closed car. THAT was a fun experience.

29. Do you have a teddy bear?

In my house? Yes. Does it belong to me? No.

30. Do you go to church?

Yup, even though I don't understand anything that is being said.

31. How old are you?

Twenty five. Man, I feel old... like, a real adult and everything. When did that happen?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I LOVE soggy cereal.

Am I alone in this?

I mean, seriously, soggy cereal is, like, the best breakfast food (and lunch food, and late-night snack food, and holiday food, and comfort food, and...)

I think my love of the sogginess started with my aunt Martha Dale who introduced me at a very young age to soggy Raisin Bran. Per her example, I often pour my cereal and milk when I first wake up in the morning and then go about my morning routine, only to come back a little while later to eat my now-softened sugary flakes.

But one has to be careful when orchestrating said sogginess. You see, the only thing worse than crunchy cereal is soggy cereal in warm milk. So you have to plan your morning accordingly. If you don't wait long enough, the cereal won't have reach maximum sogginess, and you may become agitated by the occasional crunch. But if you wait too long, then it has all been for naught because the milk has grown warm, and the whole meal is ruined because, as everyone knows, you can't throw out a perfectly good (albeit luke-warm) bowl of cereal just because it has warmed to room temperature.

And while we're on the subject of cereal, I would like to discuss the unwritten cereal rule that one should always drink the milk at the end of the bowl. If a person really doesn't like that sugary-sweet, dyed-to-the-color-of-the-cereal, still-a-few-pieces-of-cereal-floating-around milk, then don't pour so much. I'm just sayin'.

As for me, I frequently pour more milk than cereal because, well, YUMMY!

So what's with this new fascination with cereal? Well, I suppose you don't realize how important something is to your very existence until you have to go without it.

I thought, for a few terrible days, that milk was causing my baby's gas-related fussiness. However, after four days of no milk, the tummy troubles came back full-force. So, apparently it's something else. I'm thinking, perhaps, green bananas? Still not sure.

But the point is that, folks, I can eat soggy cereal again! Actually, I MAY have overdosed a bit in the last 48 hours. I mean, SOMEONE has to make up for all those days without the scrumptiousness.

And to end this soggy post, a poem:

Ode to Soggy Cereal
I love some soggy corn flakes;
They make my mornings right.
I love them all my waking hours,
Morning, noon, or night.

A Post for June...

I have two goals for the month of June.

The first is to begin my year-long weight-loss challenge. Per my doctor's recommendation, I have set a goal to lose 120 pounds in 12 months. Seem like a lot? Well, I need to lose a lot. I promise not to bore you with the nitty gritty details of how many calories I eat or how long I work out or how that pint of Baskin Robins icecream looks soooo good. But I do plan to hit the highlights on this weight loss journey, and you, of course, are welcome to join me. As I have been promising for over a month now, I will have some videos and other fun things coming up on this topic; so stay tuned for more!

The second goal I have for the month of June is, in a word, connecting. I have been in Korea for four months and have yet to make very much progress in my relationships here. Much of this has been due to lack of great effort on my part. When just going to get milk is a new, sometimes overwhelming adventure, the thought of putting too much effort into new relationships (especially with the language barrier) felt like more than I could handle. But now, the baby has arrived, and we are feeling more and more at home every day. So this goal will be broken down on several levels, over several different people. I'm not exactly sure how any of it will turn out, but as the poster in my tenth grade English class said, "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you land among the stars."

So, in no particular order, here is June's to-do list in regards to connecting with people:

1. Study! Study! Study! This will be the month when I really start to crack down to learn the language. Through a great friend of mine, the Lord has graciously provided a six-month subscription to the online Rosetta Stone software. I plan to take advantage of every bit of that six months, starting in June. I figure, even if I only learn very basic Korean, I can at least show them that I am making an effort and that communicating with them is important to me.

2. Make a date! I plan to hang out with a Samonim during a scheduled time at least twice this month. I would like to say once a week, but with a new baby and a two-year-old, that might not be a realistic goal. Still, twice in June is better than never in June. It's all about the small steps, folks, the small steps.

3. Play everyday! Ok, not everyday, but as many days as possible, I plan to take Chloe to the playground when the other Samonims and their children are out there. Not only does this allow Chloe to connect with children her age, but it will also provide opportunity for me to practice my Korean and get to know the other minister's wives in my building.

4. Answer and return. I am a world-class loser when it comes to answering emails and returning calls. I read the email, see the missed call, what have you. Then I say, "I'll think about it tomorrow" a la Scarlett O'Hara. Can you guess what happens after that? The dishes get washed. The TV gets watched. The blogs get read. The emails and phone calls get forgotten. So my goal for the month of June is (rather unoriginally, I'm afraid): "Just Do It!" I plan to only read emails when I have time to respond. To return phone calls within an hour of when they are received (since in-the-moment answers may not always work with two little girls in the house). I plan to only read blogs when I have time to comment and only check facebook when I have time to invest. However, I do not have all day to sit and check emails/read blogs/facebook/etc. So I might have to set myself a time limit and determine to do only what I can do in that short amount of time. We shall see what happens.

5. Focus, focus, focus. I have a terrible habit of multi-tasking. Wait, that's not right. I have a terrible habit of multi-tasking when I shouldn't be - like when I'm talking to people. Now, don't get me wrong. There's nothing better than some juicy gossip talk to get a body through the laborious task of cleaning up the breakfast dishes. But it goes a little too far when a certain husband is pouring out his heart over his most recent Bible study, while his wife is checking facebook and painting her toe nails. Not that I know any wives who would do something like that. So my goal for the month of June is to BE in the conversation. To give it my ALL. To really FOCUS when I'm talking to people. Sit down. Take a deep breath. Look them in the eye. Listen. Give them my full attention. Let them know that they are important to me always and, at that moment, are more important to me than anything else.

6. Smile. I heard Oprah say once that a child determines his value by asking this question: "Does your face light up when I walk in the room?" But the older I get, the more I think this question is asked by every human being on earth, regardless of age. We never outgrow that nagging question: "Do I matter to you? Does my existence make a difference?" So my goal is to smile when someone walks in the room, regardless of who they are or what I am doing. I want people to know that they matter to me. That I light up when they walk in.

So that's it for June.

Two goals: lose weight, connect with people.

Have any of you ever found great weight-loss success? What did you do? How did you excersize? What did you eat? Any input is greatly appreciated.

Monday, June 1, 2009

"Solitude is often the best society"

Not too much to report today. Physically, I am feeling better and growing stronger every day. I can now get up and down off the couch with ease, turn over in my bed, and yes, my friends, I can shave my legs! Can I get a whoop WHOOP?!

I still am unable to sit at the table with the family, but I think that will be a possibility within the next week. And even though I am feeling better, I recognize that I am still very weak. Just taking a shower wipes me out and makes my joints ache.

So, as I said, growing stronger every day... but not there yet.

Hormonally and emotionally, things seem to be back to normal (whatever that is). The waterworks have dried up, and the feelings of on-the-verge panic have subsided. I still cannot think too in-depth about the delivery without reigniting those feelings, but the Lord is helping me to focus my thoughts elsewhere when those fears start creeping up on me. "What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee."

I am really looking forward to today. Grandma, Grandpa, and Chloe have taken off with one of the pastors to hit the highlights in Seoul. That leaves me and the little one alone. I'm almost beside myself not knowing what to do first (after I blog, of course. I do still have my priorities, people).

So I think I'll do a little reading: Transforming Grace by Jerry Bridges, and Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom.

Then perhaps watch a movie: Finding Neverland

I suppose I should throw a nap or two in there for good measure.

Lest ye think I'm being just plain lazy, I'll have you know that I did just start a load of laundry, and I do plan on hanging it up before the day is done. I'm nothing if not ambitious.

It's a hard life, folks, a haaard life.

Some notes on Grace...

Grace has been a common theme in my walk with the Lord over the past several weeks. I have found myself, on an almost daily basis, asking for the Lord's grace. The verse that has really stuck in my mind is:

But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.
Romans 5:20b.

When necessary, I have found myself replacing the word "sin" with words like "weakness," "hormonal craziness," "messy house syndrome," etc.

So it went something like this, "Where my hormonal craziness increased, grace increased all the more."

I could be wrong, but I don't think the Lord will mind my little change. :)

But then the labor and delivery happened, and the topic of Grace has gone from a pot simmering on the back burner to a brazenly boiling stew at the forefront of my mind.

A couple days after the delivery, I wrote this in my private journal:

Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Hebrews 2:18

God is the One who made all things, and all things are for his glory. He wants to have many children share his glory, so he made the One who leads people to salvation perfect through suffering.
Hebrews 2:10

"Our sufferings may be rough and hard to bear, but they teach us lessons which in turn equip and enable us to help others. Our attitude toward suffering should not be, 'Grit your teeth and bear it,' hoping it will pass as quickly as possible. Rather, our goal should be to learn all we can from what we are called upon to endure, so that we can fulfill a ministry of comfort - as Jesus did. The sufferer becomes the comforter or helper in the service of the Lord."
-From Unto the Hills by Billy Graham.

These are pretty difficult passages to swallow coming off Maple's delivery. I have to admit that, as the pitocin drip started on the second day, and I faced a difficult drug-free labor (though I had no idea how difficult it would really be), I was angry. I had prayed so much, and so many people had told me they were and would be praying. Why wasn't God answering me? As in so many times in my life, it felt as if everything opposite to my prayers was happening.

Ever since the delivery, as I have fought off feelings of overwhelming panic just from the memories of the event, I have questioned why the Lord would have me go through that. Where was His grace?

But today, these passages are changing my heart.

Lord, how can I glorify you during these days following delivery? All I want is for you to be glorified and for me to be 'made perfect through suffering' like Jesus.

As I have grappled with that question, "Where was His grace?" I realize that perhaps I don't really know what grace is. I pray for it often. I use the term frequently. But it's possible that I really don't have a clue what I'm talking about.

But, as always, the Lord is faithful to answer even the toughest questions. Here is my journal entry from today:

"You cannot earn my blessing. If you are blessed with a gift, it is because I have planned to give it to you all along. If you do not receive a blessing that you have asked for, it is because it was not (and is not) in my original plans for you. (Psalm 139) It is as simple as that."

All my life, I have heard a simple definition of grace: "receiving a blessing I do not deserve and cannot earn." But I think it is finally starting to sink in.

And this revelation ('If you do not receive a blessing that you have asked for, it is because it was not and is not in my original plans') brings me such freedom and release to worship. Difficulties and unanswered prayers are not punishments, designed to make me pray harder or read my Bible more often. They are simply evidence to confirm that God is sovereign and He alone knows what is best for my life.

And the thing about grace is that, since I cannot earn it, my worship and love is not required. I don't HAVE to worship Him. I'm not FORCED to love him.

Love is no longer a currency by which I can begrudgingly purchase His blessings.

And because I don't have to worship, I am free to CHOOSE to worship... and to love.

There was a time in my marriage when I truly believed that my cooking, cleaning, and wifely duties were all required in order to earn my husband's love. I believed that if I failed in these areas (as I often did) he would love me less.

The thing about that belief is that it left me no room to CHOOSE to serve him and love him. I did it out of obligation because, if I didn't, he would withhold his love (or so I thought).

In our five years of marriage, through my husband's gentle patience and my Heavenly Father's healing touch, I have learned better.

I know my husband loves me whether the house is spotless or falling apart, whether dinner is perfect or burnt to a crisp (or, more often, nonexistent). His love is not based on what I do for him, and so I am free to serve him of my own volition, or not.

And you know what? My house is cleaner. My meals are more carefully planned and orchestrated. And my heart is happier. Because these tasks that once were only my 'jobs' by which I earned the 'salary' of a husband's love, are now a gift that I can give him to show and express my own heart.

How much greater is the love and grace of the Father! It cannot be earned. I cannot purchase it. Therefore my love, attention, and worship is mine alone to freely give or withhold. The 'duties' of my relationship with Christ are now my gifts of joy and love by which I can express my heart.

That, my friends, is the gift of grace.

Things are warming up nicely.

Ahh... a few moments of blissful alone time. Grandma, Grandpa, and Chloe have gone for a walk to the dry cleaners, and Maple Anne is sound asleep. This leaves me with at least half an hour of quiet on this breezy afternoon.

One of the things I have come to appreciate about living here is fresh air. Korean homes are built with very large windows in every room, and ours is no exception. I complained quite a bit during our first warm-weather week here because our air conditioning units had not been turned on yet. But I soon learned a few tricks about which windows to open and which shades to close throughout the day to keep our home a pleasant, breezy temperature. The down side: lots of dust. The up side: a feeling of always being outside. I love the oft cool breeze that comes through our windows, and the sound of the fans oscillating in each room. There are still some afternoons when I imagine how nice it would be to turn on the A/C, but by the cool evening, I'm so happy to have had fresh air in my house all day.

In other news, I believe we have had a couple breakthroughs today. First, hormonally speaking, I am feeling so much better. Maple was up every three hours last night (which, for a nine-day-old baby, is nothing to complain about). But somehow my sleep deprivation has caught up with me today. Thank the Lord for grandparents who have all but temporarily adopted Chloe so that I can sleep when Maple sleeps (or at least retire to my room with a good book). So even though I have been extra sleepy today - needing no less than three naps - I'm happy to report that we have had no emotional breakdowns and none that I can see on the horizon. *whew* I'm praying that this storm has passed for good.

The second breakthrough has been with the Samonims. I have noticed that many of their children freely run in and out of the different apartments, playing games and eating snacks with each other. But with the language barrier and the uncertainty of the "hierarchy" I haven't known how to include Chloe in those visits. Thanks to Brandon's and Grandma's persistence in taking Chloe to the playground when the other Samonims are out there, Chloe has been building steady, healthy relationships with some of their children. As I wrote a few days ago, one of the Samonims came and took Chloe to her apartment to play with her children. Then today, another little girl(from a couple stories up) showed up at our door to come in and play with Chloe. My mom did the proper Korean custom and gave the little girl a snack, then they played games on the computer until it was time for her to go home. We may be breaking the ice, people! Things are definitely warming up!

This is such an answer to prayer. I have really felt burdened over the last couple weeks to build better relationships with the Samonims. I have to admit that, with the pregnancy and all the "newness" we were already experiencing here, the thought of putting so much effort into so many new relationships has felt overwhelming. But over the past couple weeks, I have felt my heart begin to change in that area, and I have begun to pray for the Lord to open the door there so that I could begin to build those friendships.

This is a great first step, my friends, a great first step.

Ok. I suppose that's it for today. I have a few notes on "grace" that I plan to post soon.

Toodle pip.

The Quote That Started It All...

I myself have twelve hats, each one representing a different personality. Why be just yourself? - Margaret Atwood