Family Update March 2013

My family is changing fast! In the last 6-8 weeks my 20 month old son has started TALKING!! My daughter has celebrated her third birthday, we have enjoyed Disney World and been in 13 states! Here is a quick picture update of our adventures.

This is a dress I made Adelle that has already been ruined :(


How we practice our table manners:


JJ’s Easter suit fitting, it is difficult to fit a wiggly one year old!


We got a van and this is Adelle’s first ride in it! She approves!


Someone turned three!!



What my husband and I do for now


I took her to get her nails done for the first time, she felt SO special! And it only cost $3 :)


Adelle’s favorite food! Asian anything!


The place where three states meet. Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma


Route 66 rest stop


The cart on our way up the St. Louis Arch


Jjs first ever “bicey Lollie pop”


Snow adventures


St. Louis Arch

Last week our family had the privilege of driving from Dallas to Detroit! My husband knew as soon as we started preparing for the trip that we were GOING to see the Arch in St. Louis. I had not given it any thought, but after he shared some history and excitement with me, I made sure that we actually stayed the night in St. Louis and got to see it a little longer!

The Lord blessed us with an absolutely AMAZING deal on Priceline, and we stayed at the St. Louis Hyatt at the Arch! We did not arrive in town until after dark, but we drove around down town and lamented the reality of our short trip. It felt like a Midwest version of D.C and we would have loved to do more site seeing.

The next morning, we went downstairs and ate pastries from Starbucks for breakfast, packed up, and walked right across the street, in light snow, to the Arch. I can imagine the park surrounding the monument is beautiful in spring and summer, but it was frosted and sprinkled with snow as we enjoyed it.

Inside the base is a little museum arranged in chronological order describing life for natives and settlers alike. My children loved looking around, but older children would have benefited more from the history lesson.

The cars of the tram that take you to the top are quite small!! My tiny family of four fit, but four adults would have been cozy. The amount of noise made me a little nervous as we went up, and up, and up. And then I got thinking about how long it would take to descend down the stairs in an emergency. But there were none :)

On the top the windows were disappointingly small, but I understand why! When you lean against the wall to see out the window you can look straight down! My kids thought it was great. My son especially loved walking back and forth across the sloped floor.

I would definitely recommend this monument! It is as exciting as any monument can be, and I learned more about the western expansion than I knew. It symbolizes a significant piece of US history and it is a trip any preteen or adult would remember for a lifetime.





Cultural Experiences

Imagine yourself in a cultural experience that is completely foreign to you.  Maybe something you have heard of before, but never truly experienced or never understood.  I took an anthropology class in college, and I have to admit, the study of culture intrigues me, but experiencing differing cultures is much more exciting.

I grew up in a neighborhood that would be considered multicultural so I was familiar with people who looked “different” from many Americans, and even being a red-head I was used to being the one who was “different.” But it was still my culture. The children I went to school with all lived like I did, so honestly, it was not a different cultural experience.

My first shocking multicultural feeling was in the Los Angeles airport.  After I was near our terminal, I looked around and saw almost no one but Asians! I had a few Asian friends in school, but I was not used to being in a place so foreign.

Granted, I was flying to Hong Kong and should have expected it. Nevertheless, I was not used to being  in a place where EVERYONE else spoke the same language as each other, and I was completely unfamiliar.  Had it been Spanish or Creole, I would have felt at home and understood the general topic of conversation, but not Cantonese or Mandarin!

That brief moment passed and I arrived (after a long flight) to Hong Kong.  The sights, sounds, smells and faces were all very different from home.  I tried, at first, to be polite and smile at people much like people do in the South. Did not work! Apparently the feel is a little more like NYC, so I decided it would be more polite to mind my own business :)

Our trip to Hong Kong was to college age students to teach them English and be their American friends.  But after my initial impression of Hong Kong, I was terrified. I mean, if all the people do is avoid eye contact and ignore smiles, what was it going to be like to teach?! But I was super wrong to be nervous!

Teaching in Hong Kong was SUCH a BLESSING! I was able to teach some practical things, humiliate myself with games :), and share my testimony before dozens of students.  They smiled, interacted and were quite huggable once you got to know them.

That night, we had dinner at a restaurant with our Chinese students, and I got my next dose of Culture Shock…CHOPSTICKS!  We NEVER ate Chinese food growing up.  I’m not sure why, but we didn’t.  I must not have thought my trip out, because I had never even tried to use chopsticks in my life!  My graceful new friends, showed me how to use chopsticks, but that was not the end of the experience.

When they first sat down to the meal, the native Hong Kong residents started washing the bowls in a large container of water in the middle of the table. They proceeded to pass the bowls back out, and when dinner was served, everyone grabbed food out of the serving dishes with their own chopsticks.  After we finished all the food served to us, the waiter brought us more! The problem? I already ate my fill thinking it was all we were getting! How was I supposed to know? And my generous friends kept insisting I try everything! What a night!

Everything about that dinner was different than usual.  I don’t usually wash my bowl right before using it (although, this is merely a custom now, I was told they wash the dishes before serving them now:), there was absolutely nothing on the table I recognized, I was clumsy with the chopsticks (someone really should have recorded me trying to eat rice), and, where I’m from, we have special service utensils.  That is not even all the differences, but my point is, it was an amazing experience! You can sit in class and learn about different cultures, but you could never understand just HOW different they are without joining them.

To be honest, I have experienced culture shock in the States to some extent.  The humor in New Jersey is unfamilar to me, and that fact that many people in Pennsylvania do not even offer you sugar with coffee baffles me. But different cultures are not inherently wrong, different cultures are to be respected and enjoyed.

1Corinthians 14:10 – There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them [is] without signification.

11 – Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh [shall be] a barbarian unto me.

As a missionary, this concept is very important to me.  I will be living in a place where the people with think and behave differently from  me.  I am not moving to Namibia to teach people how to be Americans.  When I move, my first goal will to be ADAPTATION.  I will be learning to speak Afrikaans, and moving into one of their homes, shopping in their markets and eating their food. Pointing they way they do (probably with their lips?), waving like they do, conversing like they do and this list goes on and on. (seriously, if you have never traveled to another continent, you would be ASTOUNDED at just how many things can be different)

The point of my post? I am sure you are faced with different cultures all the time, see what you can learn.  Learning a little about a friend’s culture can bring you closer to them, it will help you understand them better (you  know, now that I think of it, men have their own culture and this thinking can benefit a marriage :).  Learning more about different cultures will also help you adapt to people, shape you into a more well-rounded individual, and maybe, just maybe, make you a more patient person.

What was your most most interesting or difficult cultural experience?anth

SVG map of Hong Kong's administrative districts.

SVG map of Hong Kong’s administrative districts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



Snow Day!

We had a meeting on Sunday in VA, and when we were informed of the hurricane, we decided to leave to our next destination right away. So here we are in TN, in a tiny hotel with no where to be, and nothing to do. The McD’s in town does not even have a play place. Thankfully, this tiny town has a Walmart and I could pick up some essentials, but I also stopped by the craft section (seriously, it called out to me ;) and decided to buy some finger paint. Crazy me, I know, the hotel room only has about 9 square feet that is not carpeted. But I bought finger paint nonetheless.

It was not until I started to get the supplies ready, that I realized that the tub is the ideal place for finger painting. Both my one and two-year old loved it! They both mainly insisted on using the paint brushes, but when I encouraged them to feel it and play with it they began to paint on themselves…and all over the walls of the tub!

The activity helped my two-year-old understand how to mix colors (purple is her fav :) to get secondary colors.  I intentionally only gave them primary colors.  We had 2 sessions of painting today, and tomorrow I’ll bring out the other colors since the primary colors have been demolished.

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Do you have any rainy day ideas for a hotel room?

Quiet Book ~ No More Idle Hands!

While we are away from home for several weeks, I go CRAZY from a lack of creativity outlet.  There is no experimental desserts, entrees, sewing or scrapbooking! I have tried hand sewing while away from home, but I am not patient enough for that! Since I have realized that if I want my wiggly daughter to sit still, I need to have something for her hands to do, I have decided to make a quiet book.  Yes, the one craft I said I’d never do, has been done.  Here are my pictures of my quiet book in the making. While I did steal the quiet book idea off of Pinterest, I believe these simple ideas are all my own, and I have many more on my quiet book idea list.

My daughter loves them so far! They keep her busy, but I will have to admit, I have not been very careful as to when I give them to her. We have lost a felt doll shoe, her car-seat must have swallowed it.

I have enjoyed this new activity and much to my surprise, I am willing to work with felt again in the future.

Addy LOVES her “girls”

Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre

English: Skulls of victims from the Rwandan Ge...

English: Skulls of victims from the Rwandan Genocide found at the Nyamata Memorial. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre.


There are events around the world that we in the West just cannot comprehend.  I had briefly heard about the Rwandan Genocide after it happened, but since I was young I did not take it to heart.  My husband and I surveyed 4 different African countries and had the opportunity to visit Rwanda.  To us, the country was a place to visit and we were considering whether God would have us move there, but the Genocide was the farthest thing from our mind. The director with our mission board arranged for us to visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre while we were in Rwanda. I went determined to learn something new, to understand a culture better and to appreciate our surroundings.  What I didn’t anticipate was being completely devastated and horrified.


What Happened:


From April 6 to July 16 1994, 100 days, at least 1 million Tutsi Rwandans were slaughtered by their fellow countrymen, the Hutus.  It is a complicated history that cause the Rwandans to turn against each other, but the way I understand it, the European settlers put the minority Tutsi people group in leadership over the Hutus. The people were taught in schools that man evolved from monkeys and gave them the belief that men are not created equal.  The hatred the Hutus had for their leadership grew over time and led to a 100 day war that killed 10% of the countries population.

My Reaction:

I saw every face differently after we gained that awful understanding of their history.  Everyone teen and adult had been impacted by the genocide.  These people carried on their daily lives, and before that visit, I had no idea of the pain they held in their hearts. Everyone lost someone, and there is no telling which of the people walking among us played a part in the executions.

Before I was enlightened to their history they were just people, and after they were…just people.  “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9.  Even after the knowledge of the terrible sins of this people I understood that I was not any different.

God is perfect and holy, none of us are like Him, and so we are all the same.  Jesus came into the world, as the Son of God, to redeem the whole world to Himself.  I have accepted this salvation by faith, and these people should have the same opportunity.

Museum Review:

The museum was life changing, but it is  in Rwanda; herein lies the dilemma. I would not suggest anyone to fly around the world to visit this memorial, but I do believe everyone would benefit from the lessons this country has to offer.  We are all capable of these terrible actions, we are all subject to brainwashing and feelings of superiority. I think that if we all knew our history we would understand the trend and be less likely to repeat the sins of our fathers.


English: Street children in Ndera (capital of ...

English: Street children in Ndera (capital of Gasabo district in Kigali Province, Rwanda) with Stefan Stec. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



What is Geocaching?

One day my husband and I were watching a crime show (we were guests at another person’s house) and the criminal in the show hid clues of his crime in containers at disclosed coordinates. I am not usually into that kind of show, but the scavenger hunt was interesting to me (creepy bones aside:).  That was our first introduction to Geocaching.  My husband was so interested that he decided to look it up online to see if it really existed. Guess what? It does!

Geocaching is NOT for criminals :)

Geocaching is like a scavenger hunt, or a treasure hunt, for containers that you find using GPS coordinates.  You can use a GPS or a smart phone to find containers, also called caches.  There are more than 800,000 in the US and over a million hidden throughout the world!  The website for more info, or to get started, is here.

Jeff and I did our first geocaching right after our first child was born and loved it right away!

Geocaching is the best way we know to find neat places, spend time together, and get outdoors. Caches are found in parking lots, parks, rest areas, and many public places. Caches are ALWAYS hid with permission so you can look without fear, but when searching for the containers, you must not let by passers get suspicious. After finding a cache you can sign the logbook and if there are items inside feel free to trade the items with items of equal or greater value. After you are finished you place the cache back where you found it for the next person! It is that simple!

Geocaching has taken us places we have never been, even in our home city! Here are a few pics of our geocaching adventures :)

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