Saturday, July 30, 2011


Caleb has been taking Tawekwondo for a few months, and today had his first grading session, where he can earn his next belt. For the internal grading, we were allowed to watch, but for the grading tomorrow in front of the Singapore Taekwondo Federation, we will not be allowed to be with him.

Caleb has decided he no longer wants to continue with Taekwondo, but I hope he'll pick it up later in his life. I think the discipline and focus are such great lessons! For now he and Levi will be doing gymnastics and swimming lessons.

Here are some pictures from this morning. You can probably spot Caleb, the only light-headed child. :-)

Levi thought all the yelling was too loud. :-)

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Monday, July 25, 2011

My New Paleo Lifestyle

If you know me at all, you know I've spent a generous amount of time in the doctor's office, specifically my gastroenterologist's office. Dr. Wong is great, but I'd rather not ever have to see him (except for those darn colonoscopies I have to do every 1-3 years now thanks to a tiny polyp. Boo.) I have suffered from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) for least 15 years. In the last year or more it has become increasingly worse. I've tried just about everything medication-wise, and they would work for a little while, and then stop working.

Last week I got so fed up with my stomach dictating my life that I decided I had to do something. My real-life friend, Erin, posted on her blog in January about Paleo. I read the posts and thought to myself, "I'll never give up grains and dairy. That's too hard and ridiculous. I love bread! And ice cream! And yogurt! And..." Well. I bought a book, The Paleo Solution, by Robb Wolf when we were home in February, and it has been sitting on my shelf ever since we returned. I picked it up last Monday and read almost the whole thing (I skipped a bunch of science-y stuff because I just wanted to know what I needed to do). I decided this could work for me, and I made the decision to give it a try.

Since last Tuesday morning, I have not eaten any grains (no rice, pasta, bread, gluten, etc. of any kind), dairy, beans, or sugar (processed/refined/artificial...nothing). I have eaten fruits, vegetables, lean meats, eggs and nuts. I've also had LOTS of water (80-100 ounces a day). And you know what?


Seriously. I have not felt this good in, well..., I don't remember if I ever felt this good. Monday and Tuesday of last week were epic days in regards to how my stomach was doing (horrible), but after two days of eating Paleo, my stomach problems were gone.

And I've lost 6 pounds.

I have energy, which is something I greatly lacked when my stomach was so messed up all the time. When you're living in the bathroom, the last thing you want to do is exercise, but now I exercise almost every day. Feeling good really does something for a person. :-)

Being healthy and having energy are definitely worth all the things I've given up. I really haven't even missed the things I used to enjoy (like Dr. Pepper and chocolate), which is a miracle all in itself. I never thought I could eat this way, but now I know that I can. And I will continue because of how I feel.

I've only been doing this for ONE WEEK, and already see huge results! I have yet to go out to eat, but some girls and I are going to dinner on Wednesday night, so I looked up the menu online to see what I could eat. Now I'm prepared!

And if you, like my mother, are wondering how in the world I'm going to get enough calcium without eating dairy (a valid question seeing as how I fractured 3 ankle bones last year), did you know that these foods are high in calcium: broccoli, almonds, salmon, apricots, spinach, kale, and walnuts? There are quite a few more...all things I can eat! 15 almonds contains about 40mg of calcium.

Another question I've been asked is how do I do this and still feed my family. Well, Justin really has no choice. ;-) He's on board with getting me healthier, and in his words, "I'm still going to cheat when you're not around." It's fine with me. I honestly don't crave sweets and things anymore. I will allow myself some cheats after a month or so, but for now I'm going pretty strict. Everyone in my family is still allowed to eat cereal with milk for breakfast, and my kids still eat bread and yogurt. Caleb is a lot easier in the eating department than Levi. Last night we had pork chops, salad (with homemade dressing, no sugar), and steamed broccoli. Caleb ate everything he was served. And then he ate an apple, and a banana, and a fruit leather strip later in the night. Levi opted not to even try the pork chops (not a surprise), and ate an apple instead. He didn't starve to death, and ate breakfast this morning. :-) My kids already eat a lot of fresh fruit, and Caleb loves raw carrots, lettuce and spinach, and broccoli. We're all benefiting from the amount of fruits and vegetables in the house.

You can google "Paleo" and come up with tons of information and recipes. I haven't eaten anything I didn't like. (And if you suffer from IBS and want more details on how things have changed for me, you can email me privately at justinandjennifer {at} gmail {dot} com.)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Conversations With the Boys

I've had some really interesting conversations with the boys lately. I think they're just at that age where they are soaking everything in and trying to make sense of their world. Sometimes the things they say are hilarious, and sometimes they are precious. Sometimes Justin and I look at each other quizzically as if to say, "where in the world did they learn that?"

Here are a couple of recent ones:

Levi: "Can someone go to the bathroom with me? I'm too scared to go by myself."
Caleb: "Levi, you're never alone. God is always with you. I'll pray for you. {pauses to pray} Ok, He's going with you."
(we have reminded Caleb of this conversation several times when he tells us he's too scared to go to sleep, even though he and Levi share a room. Bedtime excuses...)

Levi: "Mommy, God told us to eat chicken."
Me: "Ok. When did God say this?"
Levi: "In Heaven."
Me: "Oh, ok. When were you in Heaven with God?" (at this point I don't know where this is going...)
Levi: "When He was making us."
Me: "But you don't eat chicken. {pause} So you're disobeying God?"
Levi: "Yes."
(When he was talking, I was thinking of the book Heaven Is For Real that my mother-in-law sent me and wondering when Levi had a near-death experience. And no amount of bringing up this conversation will get Levi to eat chicken.)

I never know what is going to come out of their mouths, and when it's something they learned from me I cringe. Caleb is fond of the words, "like," "seriously," "totally" and "definitely." Yes, I'm a child of the 80s. Here's an example of something Caleb would say (with emphasis in proper place), "That is totally not going to happen." OR "I'm definitely having waffles for breakfast."

They crack me up.

Maldives, Part One

On July 1, 5 days after the boys and I arrived back in Singapore from Thailand, we boarded a plane for a family vacation. Except for two trips home, we (as a whole family) had not been anywhere in 18 months. Our trip home in February was a blessing, but with all the stress and grieving the loss of my grandmother, it was not a relaxing time for us. We were so excited to get out of the big city and enjoy some time on the beach together.

When we arrived at the airport in the Maldives after a 4.5-hour flight from Singapore, the plane landed and did a u-turn on the runway to get back to the terminal. That's how small the airport is.

This is the view just outside the airport. Since the Maldives is a collection of over a thousand tiny islands, the only way to travel is by boat or sea plane.

Our speed boat picked us up for the 35-minute ride to our resort.

This is what greeted us as we arrived. I have never seen water so clear and sand so white. BEAUTIFUL!

We found our room and immediately headed to the enjoy the beach.

I love this picture of Caleb because it looks like he's saying, "This is AWESOME!"

A little slice of paradise for sure!

Sunset on Day One.

And room service outside our room to top it off!

More of our Maldives adventure to come!

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Visiting Phayao, Part Three

We went to a nature center one day, and Corban (Chris and Tonya's oldest son) was the "Goat Whisperer." He told all the kids how to walk slowly and put their hands behind their backs so the goats would not be scared. So sweet! He's an animal lover like our Caleb.
At the nature center, we looked at some animals and then sat down to have a "homeschool sharing time." Our Thailand friends told us things about Thailand and we (or I) told them about Singapore. We asked questions about how our lives are different in the two countries. (Meg, the 3-year-old in the purple shirt, was obviously enthralled by our presentation! Kind of like Levi who was taking pictures of the sky and himself while I was talking.)

Only in Thailand! (Yes, Mom, adults sat back there with them!)

Teagan insisted I take a picture of him! Happy to oblige. Such a cutie!:-)

This is the street where Chris and Tonya live. It's currently under construction. It's been that way for quite some time (almost 4 weeks when we were there), and I don't know that there is any plan to finish it. They have to park in that raised area to the left and navigate the dangerous holes to get to their house at the end. It's pretty tricky at night.

Chris built his boys a tree house, and it is so cool! The boys loved playing up there.

And, Caleb is representing our Aggies and our home state of Texas all the way in Thailand!

Thanks Phayao friends for hosting us and blessing us with such a fun, relaxing time. We LOVED being with you!!

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Visiting Phayao, Part 2

One of the best parts of our trip to Phayao...instant friends! All of the kids are about the same ages, so they played and played and played. It was great fun for all!

Why, yes, that is an alligator behind that fence. Doesn't look safe to you? Welcome to Thailand!

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Saturday, July 09, 2011

Visiting Phayao, Part One

Caleb, Levi and I flew to Thailand on June 21 to visit a team of missionaries, who all happen to be friends of mine. It's pretty cool that I have a prior relationship with all 7 adults on the team (4 from when I lived in Thailand and 3 from college). We had a GREAT time! It was wonderful to catch up with old friends, see the work they are doing in Phayao, have our kids play together, and be back in Thailand for a while (and out of the big, loud city!).

Ann and Derran's living room/the boys watching videos on my phone:

The street where Ann and Derran live. Yes, only one car at a time.

The boys' redneck version of a swimming pool. They had a BLAST! It was great for them to have a "yard" they could play in without much supervision. We miss that so much living in a condo.

The boys with some of the team kids (and Chris Fikes) doing Hello Kitty puzzles. It is Asia, after all!

Gap playing games with the kids on her iPad:

Finger painting!

I had to take this picture. Since we live in Singapore, where all power, cable and telephone lines are underground, this is something we never see:

More to come...

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