Sunday, December 26, 2010

Multitudes on Mondays

Continuing my gift list from my Heavenly Father, part of finding contentment and giving thanks in all circumstances.

#149 hot tea to soothe sore throats
#150 good medical care for a sick kid in Singapore
#151 sweet kisses from two little boys
#152 long distance phone calls on Thanksgiving Day
#153 chance to give back to a friend
#154 favorite prayer journal to record praises and requests and His faithful answers
#155 realizing we have missionary friends on 4 continents
#156 good friends to walk this Singapore journey with me
#157 that God uses my hardships to minister to and help others
#158 good, strong preaching from God's Word every Sunday
#159 continual lessons from 1 Samuel
#160 air conditioning to sleep in
#161 comfortable beds
#162 watching and helping my oldest to read
#163 soft, warm towels from the dryer
#164 little boy laughs
#165 games to play with family
#166 hot water to wash dishes with
#167 Skype calls with friends and family, keeping in touch across the oceans
#168 my niece singing songs to me via Skype
#169 funny things my kids say
#170 lights on the Christmas tree
#171 special ornaments from years past decorating our tree

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

More of the Random

-I am as tired as I ever remember being (other than when we had newborns in the house). Caleb has been waking up at 3am almost every night for weeks now. I have no idea what is going on, and he usually does not stay awake very long, but he always comes in to wake me up and sometimes there is musical beds going on (Caleb ends up in my comfy, soft bed, and I end up in his not as comfy, not as soft bed). I have been yawning HUGE, deep yawns all day, and I might be asleep before the kids tonight (especially if they keep getting out of their beds, like they are at this very moment, and not sleeping).

-This is why I can only write in list style. I am not firing on all cylinders.

-Caleb is obsessed with and also terrified of two things recently: 1) exploding buildings and 2) meteors. Today in the elevator he asked me TWICE if I thought they had exploded a building today. I told him somewhere in the world they probably did. We were at a mall the other day, and he saw a man with a whistle (probably directing traffic outside), and he was scared to death they were about to explode the building we were in. I do not know where this has come from, but it probably has something to do with the not sleeping.

-I got my haircut today. It has been 6 months since I had it cut last, mostly because it's really difficult for me to trust people to cut my curly hair. It isn't the same as cutting straight hair, even thought most hairdressers treat it the same.

-I went in for a trim (cut off the dead ends), and ended up with probably 4 inches gone. I guess it's a good thing I've been growing it out and had plenty of inches to spare. It's less almost-middle-of-my-back and more slightly-below-my-shoulder length now. :-)

-It looks great, but I haven't fixed it myself yet and everyone knows that's the true test of a good haircut.

-The hairdresser didn't comment at all on all the gray hairs!

-AND she thought I was a student (which is why she looked at me funny when I said I have two small children). She said my face looks young.

-Apparently she did not see the deep, dark, sleep-deprived circles under my eyes.

-Maybe she needs glasses.

-And my 5-year-old needs to quit acting like a 6-month-old and SLEEP already.

-And now I have to go see why my kids (who should be sleeping) are in the bathroom flushing the toilet and laughing. Nothing good can come of this.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Brain Dump

I should be going to bed, but my brain won't shut off, so I thought I'd come write down all the thoughts on my mind. My friend, Andrea, calls this a brain dump, and she just did one herself. Warning: This will be random.

-Christmas is probably the time I miss my family the most. I love having our little family together and having less stress involved in the entire holiday experience, but I miss seeing my extended family and celebrating the traditions we have. We're making new traditions and memories here, though, that will be part of our family history from now on.

-I love my kids. They are so funny sometimes! Caleb told me today, "Someday I'll be taller than Daddy. That will be on Friday." I don't know where he gets this stuff.

-Caleb is doing great with learning to read. He's really picking it up, but he hates doing it. I have to set the timer for 10 minutes for our "learning to read" time, and that's about all he'll give me. But he can read several little readers on his own, so I guess we're doing good. It's so cool to see him learning!

-Some kid was pounding on Caleb last week at an indoor playground I took them to. He was a good head shorter than Caleb and "meaner than a snake" (that's some good Texas lingo there!). He had been chasing my boys and kicking at them and kind of slapping at them, but when he cornered Caleb and began punching him I stepped in (like any good Texas mama would do!). I told him to stop hitting and kicking (I have no idea what adult was there with him because I never saw them). Every time he would start to do something to Caleb, he would look over to see if I was watching (I was), and he would stop. Seriously, people, discipline goes a long way. And kids need it!

-I love my prayer journal and how it keeps me organized about my prayers (and actually remembering to pray for people I've told I would!). You can find my favorite one here (a GREAT Christmas gift!):

-I don't know why I didn't bring my Willow Tree Nativity with me. I miss it. :-( We only brought one small box of Christmas decorations since we weren't sure what size apartment we'd have.

-We have Lego's everywhere. (which I love)

-We also have books everywhere. (also love) (It's really amazing how many boxes of books I left in storage in Texas.)

-I've still been doing my Scripture Memory, but I haven't been blogging about it. I'll do an end-of-the-year catch-up post on that soon.

-I am still amazed how much my boys think potty talk and noises are hilarious. It starts early. They already laugh at the sound a ketchup bottle makes when you squeeze it. It's only downhill from here.

-I have this feeling that God is preparing us for something big (us being our family). I don't have any idea what it is, but I just feel an anticipation about something. I'll let you know if I ever figure out what it is. ;-)

-I am so excited to be counting down the weeks until we're on Texas soil and I'm spending time with my sister and nieces and mom and dad and grandmothers and...everyone else!

-I am also excited about the fact that the weather will be cooler there than it is here. I have almost no clothing for cool weather, but, thankfully, I have friends who do! I'm not sure my arms will know what to do being covered up. And my feet will surely go into shock when they have to wear shoes and socks. I've worn flip flops every day for the past 18 months.

-Can you believe we've lived in Singapore for 18 months, 1 week, and 2 days? Crazy.

-Apparently I forgot to tell my mom that our contract here in Singapore had been officially extended. Oops. ;-)

-I was surprised when I took a spiritual gifts analysis recently to find out my "greatest" spiritual gift is showing mercy. After thinking about it, it completely makes sense. My husband just thought I was a bleeding heart, and now I tell him all the time, "IT'S MY GIFT!" :-)

-I really do have a heart for the hurting, especially orphans. I feel like that might be a bigger part of my life in the future. Again, not sure how. Still listening.

-People ask me all the time if we are going to have any more children. They are just curious, and that is totally fine. My answer is always, "I don't know." It's definitely something we're praying about. So, if you were wondering, there's your answer. Only God knows. Literally.

-Caleb is finally to the age where I can read chapters of some easy books to him, and I am loving it! We read Beverly Cleary's Two Times the Fun last week, and today we started Roald Dahl's Danny the Champion of the World. I can't wait to be able to read The Chronicles of Narnia and loads of other books to my boys. Their attention spans are growing, so it won't be too many years before they are ready for that.

-We're having fun each night doing our Advent Jesse Tree. The boys love taking turns putting the ornaments on our tree. And I love going through God's story of redemption during this season of Advent, from creation to the birth of His Son, sent to this earth to rescue us from our sins. It's so cool how everything in the Bible fits together!

-Church last Sunday was amazing. The full combined choirs from the English, Filipino, and Indonesian congregations together was stunning. A wonderful Christmas celebration! Our church has 51 nations represented, and it is so cool to experience that!

Ok, I think that's about all the random stuff I can pour out of my brain. Maybe I can sleep now. :-)

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Thoughts About Stuff

It has been a while since I've updated about my ankle and my stomach issues.

I saw my new orthopedic surgeon in November, after 2 months of physical therapy. He was pleased with my progress, and said my range of motion is within 5-10% of normal. This is very good news! He recommends that I have surgery next spring to remove the implants (a metal plate w/ 7 screws and 2 metal wires) in my ankle. Because I am so young, he thinks it will help my range of motion even more and will help with the discomfort I feel because of the implants (the end of the metal plate sits right on my ankle bone, and I can feel it under the thin skin). I am aiming to have the surgery in early March since we will return from the US on February 27 and then are going to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia on April 17. The recovery time should be short and crutches are not needed (this will be my 10th surgery, so surgery doesn't scare or bother me, and a "normal" recovery time sounds great to me...unlike being on crutches for 3 months!).

My stomach is a whole other story. I was doing really well in May through July, and my doctor actually released me and said he'd see me in 6 months. Less than two months later I was back in his office, and the prior treatments we've used are not working anymore. Last time I saw him he said, "I feel sorry for you" because I am sick so often.

I asked him today if he thought a change in my diet would help (a couple of friends have suggested going gluten free...something I've been very reluctant to do because it is hard to maintain). He said because my problems are so erratic (I don't get sick every time I eat gluten, for instance) that it does not seem to be connected to any one thing I am eating, and the problems I'm having vacillate between two separate manifestations of IBS (I'm saving you the gross details of my life these days!).

We're starting a new treatment today, hoping that by the time we leave for the US on January 28, I will be feeling much better. I've really tried not to complain about this stuff lately because I'm working very hard on contentment, and since my prayers to be released from this have not been answered yet, I am pressing on. But, honestly? I'm miserable most of the time. It kinda stinks.

But, hey, I've got these precious kids to keep me entertained! :-)

And here is what I will look like if I ever get to have lasik eye surgery! :-) People always ask where my kids get their long eyelashes. (No one can see mine because of my glasses, but Justin's are really long, too.)

I am so excited to {hopefully} meet my newest niece in February (if she decides to make an appearance before her due date and our return to Singapore! Please, Amelia, Aunt Jennifer will be really happy if you come even just a few days early!!). It's hard being so far away and missing out on life with our families, so being able to spend time with them and help my sister out with her kids will be so special. And...BONUS...we get to escape the heat!! 18 months and counting since we've been in hot/humid conditions.

Celebrating Christmas when the temps are in the 90s and all the plants are still in full bloom is still strange. But, as my friend, Leone, from Australia says, "It's not supposed to be cold at Christmastime!" It's all about perspective, I guess...if you've always celebrated Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere (or close to the Equator like us) then Christmas is not a winter holiday. :-)

I'm still not convinced. :-) I'll take some cold weather, a nice warm sweater, some Christmas music, and a cup of my mom's spiced tea any day!

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Thursday, December 02, 2010

Giveaway Winner

Thanks to, the winner of Erica's book is Melissa. Melissa, send me an email with your address, and I will get your book to you! justinandjennifer{at}gmail{dot}com.

Everyone else can get your copy from Barnes and Noble's website, and buy another Christmas present while you're there and get free shipping (for orders over $25). If you live in the Houston area and want a copy, The Learning Express store in Cypress has been carrying it. If you can't find it, let me know!


Spiritual Legacy

This past Sunday at church, we were encouraged to thank those people who have made an impact on our spiritual lives. Today is my birthday, so I thought it appropriate on this day to give thanks to God for the people who have had the biggest impact on my spiritual life.

Dear Dad and Mom,
I was one-week old when you first took me to church, and I cannot count the number of times we went to church during the years before I left your house. Three times a week for most of my life! I cannot thank you enough for instilling in me a love of God, a love of His Word, and and a love for teaching others. My earliest memories include witnessing Dad's baptism and having Mom as my Bible class teacher. From an early age I knew that Mom's favorite Scripture was Isaiah 40:8, and most of the Bibles I own were gifts from you (what greater gift to give?). Those pictures are etched on my heart and are a huge part of who I am today.

I learned from you at an early age to help others. It was just a part of who we were as a family. Many people lived with us a various times, and without words being spoken about the importance of giving to others (not just monetarily, but of our time and resources and spare rooms!), you taught me what it truly means to help those in need. I learned to have mercy on others from you. I learned to bring in those who need help from you. Every year I unfold more of the gifts you have given as I realize why I am who I am. It's because of you and the values you taught me as a child.

What a legacy I have, that you guys decided before I was born 32 years ago that, "as for me and my house we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15)." (And how blessed I am that another family in a neighboring state was raising their son under the same covenant, and that one day God would bring us together to form a family and make that covenant for ourselves.)

I am so grateful for what you have taught me, and that my children have a spiritual heritage generations deep. There is nothing more precious that I could pass on to my kids.

I love you both so very much. And I thank God for you.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Those Silly Sisters Book Giveaway

I have a friend from college, Erica Stidham, who has recently published a children's book called Those Silly Sisters: Swimming in the Rain.

Here's the book description:

Katie and Claire absolutely love adventures. But even more than adventures, they adore being silly. Thankfully for them, their Mommy loves that too! In their first adventure, Katie and Claire wake up excited for one of Mommy's special "promise days". Unfortunately, they quickly discover that a cloudy, rainy day has put a stop to their plans.

Luckily, Katie quickly thinks of a way to turn the day into one of their most memorable ever! Be sure to join the silly sisters as they embark on many more amazing adventures!

I'm so excited for her that I want to give one of you a copy of her book.

Leave a comment on this post telling me a favorite memory from your childhood. I'll use the Random Number Generator to choose a winner on Thursday, my birthday. Open to anyone...I'll pick up the shipping if a non-US resident wins (the books are shipped from Texas).

And if you don't win, you should definitely pick up a copy of the book for your daughter, granddaughter, niece, sister, or friend!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thankful Tree

Andrea invited us over last Friday to make a thankful tree (or "think before tree" as Levi calls it). You can see her post about it here, including the inspiration behind it.
Andrea procured all the supplies (not an easy task here!), and all I had to do was show up. I love projects like that! Andrea did hers all nice and neat with iron-on backing, but I just glued mine together. ;-)
All the pieces are glued on except the small leaves with writing on them. Those are our thankful leaves...what we each are thankful for during this season of our lives. They will be removed and replaced with new ones next year.

If you read my Facebook status recently, "Jesus died on the cross" should not surprise you. (For those of you avoiding Facebook, Levi was shouting at the top of his lungs last week as we were leaving dinner, "JESUS DIED ON THE CROSS!")

So many things to be thankful for, and we're adding new ones all the time. I love this tree because it is something tangible the boys can see. (When Caleb saw that Levi had said he was thankful for Mommy and Daddy, Caleb had to have one just like it. Cannot be outdone by little brother!)
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Think Before

Tonight during "think before" (that's Levi-speak for "thankful for"), I told the boys they could list one thing they're thankful for. It usually turns in to a five-minute list of everything they can think of or see in front of them (pajamas, curtains, beds, stuffed moose, light, air conditioner, toy car, train, window, etc.). All of those are wonderful things to be thankful for, but I just wasn't in the mood to go through the entire list tonight. I just wanted them to list one thing, and I was sure it would be one of the little toys they were holding.

Levi's one thing tonight: Jesus made the waves stop (we read the story of Jesus calming the storm today)

Caleb's one thing: Jesus died on the cross

These kids amaze me sometimes. Before bed Caleb was telling me how Jesus and God both loved him so much. Then we started talking about how Jesus and God are the same but separate but the same...and then I decided trying to explain the Trinity to a five-year-old might be a little much!

I love them SO much!

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Thursday, November 04, 2010

Just a Little Light Reading

I go through phases in my reading; some months I read a lot of fiction, and some months I read non-fiction (some months I'm too tired to do anything more than get my weekly study done and prepare for the one I teach). These are the books I've purchased recently and are currently in different stages of being read. Dig Deeper is a great book about tools to help in Bible study. Doing other people's studies is a good thing, but I really want to learn to study the Word better on my own.

That orange book? Scares me to death. But I know I need to read it. I need to take a hard look at Jesus' teachings and evaluate my life against them. I'm just afraid of all the yuck I'm going to find (in my life).

But I want more of Him, so I'm diving in.

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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

This is our second Halloween to celebrate in Singapore. We went up to Woodlands again, and it was just as crazy as last year, if not more so.

My Buzz and Woody.

Woody and Buzz with Granddad at the Singapore American School

The MADNESS that is trick-or-treating in Woodlands!

Granddad got a balloon! (Feels a little like "Where's Waldo?" doesn't it?)

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Friday, October 08, 2010

The Post Where We Pretend Fall Exists

The boys and I stole this idea from my friend, Erica (a friend from college who is a children's book author! So proud of you, Erica!). I can be crafty, but I am not creative on my own, so I'm always up for stealing other people's ideas!
The directions are here for the pumpkins. It's so simple, and the boys enjoyed stuffing the fabric into the rolls of toilet paper. We went and bought fabric today (not as easy as driving to Hobby Lobby, but not terribly difficult, either), and the rest of the stuff we just improvised with stuff we had on hand. No sewing, no glue. My kind of project!
Starting the process with my monkeys:

Caleb with his finished product:
What a 3-year-old does when you are taking too long helping his brother:
The finished "pumpkin patch" (and apparently whatever was outside the window was more exciting than me taking the picture):

We stuffed some tissues between the toilet paper rolls and the fabric so you couldn't really tell they were made from rolls of TP!

A fun, easy-for-the-kids project. Thanks, Erica, for letting us steal your idea.

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Thursday, October 07, 2010

Dinner Conversations

Tonight at dinner Justin and I were getting fed up with the amount of potty talk going on. (Our kids are 3 and 5...I had no idea it started so early...and it is CONSTANT! They're big fans of using "poo poo" in various sentences and attaching it to people's names. It gets old fast.)

I told the boys that if they said one more potty word they would get into trouble.

Caleb then made a noise that Justin also included in the "no potty talk at the table" rule. Levi told me that Pierce makes that noise all the time.

I said, "I don't care what other kids do. These are the rules for our family."

Levi then, rather indignantly in a stern voice and a frown on his face, said, "We're going to Pierce's family."

I think that's the toddler version of, "I'm running away." Look out, Camille! If you see two little boys walking down Farrer Road with their little suitcases in tow, please give them shelter.

Never a dull moment around here.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Grace Academy Homeschool

When people first find out you homeschool your children, there are a variety of responses, which I will outline for you here:

1) "Wow. I could never do that."
2) "Why did you decide to do that?"
3) "Did you not like the schools here?"

and, by far my favorite, a response I have only received once:

"Wouldn't it just be easier to send them to school all day?"

Why, yes, it would! But we do not make decisions on something as important as education based on what is easiest for us.

My sweet friends are always asking how school is going, and I always tell them it's going well, but it's challenging. Keeping Levi occupied is by far the most challenging part of my day. He wants so badly to do everything his big brother is doing, but his ability is just not there yet. I've been searching for things that will make Levi feel like he's doing the same work as his brother and be less frustrating for him.

We're about 3 months into homeschooling now, and we're already tweaking our curriculum. I started with a full purchased curriculum because I don't know enough about my kids' learning to design a curriculum on my own yet (and the options were completely overwhelming), but I have already learned some things we like and some things we really don't. Caleb loves anything he can create (drawing, painting, cutting, pasting, etc.); he is constantly grabbing the scissors and blank paper to make something. (His love language is also gift-giving, so most of these creations are made for someone, usually me.)

I am really enjoying spending so much time with the boys. It has been a wonderful change for all of us.

Here are some pictures from our school time:

Today we read The Story About Ping:
Then we made lapbooks to go along with our study:
We learned about China, where The Story About Ping is set. We cut and pasted the China flag and various maps of China:
Then we found where China was on our world map. The kids can now point out Singapore, China, Russia, Canada, and the United States. Today we learned that there are two countries larger in area than China (Russia and Canada):
Here's our reading corner in our school room. This is where we usually do our Bible reading and read-alouds for the day. Sometimes we switch it up and read on the couch or someone's bed:
So proud that he did this ALL by himself!
Two of our memory verses:
Another book we love and read often is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom:
We made a lapbook for this one, too, and have been putting each letter of the alphabet in the pocket as we study them (this is mostly for Levi since Caleb knows all the letters):

We've been having fun. Homeschooling is not easy, but it's definitely what is best for our family. Now I'm looking at what we're going to do in the Spring. I need to find a new math curriculum (or some supplements) for Caleb since our current one combines writing and math, which I'm not a big fan of since Caleb's not ready for so much writing. His math skills are above where we are in the book, and I need to find some math activities that allow him to work on his math skills without writing numbers.

I want my kids to love God, to love learning and to love reading. So that's what we're focusing on...making learning fun.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Bali-Even More Pictures

Another "guard" in our courtyard wall:
"Skooby" burger joint. We didn't eat here, but Justin took this picture for the kids. :-)
The beach.
I wish I could own a villa like this and retreat there all the time! So peaceful!

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