November 27, 2011

Giving Thanks

There was much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving holiday...

The eldest, who has become a Denver Broncos fan on this furlough, turned 14.  He managed to somehow fracture his growth-plate, so he has a brace to wear for the next month.  I love this kid and we are thankful for him.

Thanksgiving week also included a visit with one of my long-time best friends, Christy.  We spent several hours in Barnes and Noble catching up on the last few years, then stood outside in the parking lot and talked some more.  There was a funny moment when a car full of guys went by and hooted at us.  I yelled, "We are so old, you don't even know!" to which Christy added, "Yeah, I have an orthopedic insert in my shoe!"  So thankful for Christy, who always interjects laughter into my life, right when I need it most.

Thankful for this little beauty I cooked up and shared (sort of) with David on Thanksgiving Eve - leftover pie dough and blueberries.

I am thankful for cornbread dressing.  It always makes me think of my beloved Mamaw, who passed away three years ago.  She would be proud that I took pictures of the food.

This would be me, in the kitchen, NOT SWEATING.  As much as I found myself missing our Tarakan family this Thanksgiving, I was thankful not to be sweating buckets whilst cooking.

I am thankful for a dad who cooks.  Despite the fact that he insists upon putting giblets and other innards in his gravy, he knows his way around the kitchen.

Thankful for cousins!!!

And for good friends like Miss June.  She is a friend from our Baptist Center days, when she taught me in Sunday school.

Thankful for time in the country...

...and for a father-in-law who takes his girls for pony rides.

I am thankful, so very thankful, for healthy, strong bodies.  It was about a year ago this Thanksgiving that I started having all my stomach issues.  There's no way that I would have had the energy to do this...
eight months ago.  Praise God!  And yay for leaf piles!

November 20, 2011

Si Kecil Turns Six

Si Kecil, the little one, turned six this past week.  She's been counting down the days to her birthday - her first one in America - for weeks.  Normally in Indonesia we have a big party with all Zoe's friends, but this year we just did a family party.  And while I missed our friends, I did not miss sweating in my Tarakan kitchen, frantically trying to make a cake look like a pony's head, and scrambling to come up with a party craft.  Ahhh, a stress-free birthday.

Zoe wanted to go to lunch at the Pirate's House, a legendary restaurant in Savannah.  

We sat in the part of the restaurant that is the oldest house in Georgia.  And a real pirate came by to sing "happy birthday" to Zoe!

Here we are, making our best pirate faces.

At home, the kids whacked open a pinata from Bop, which was full of candy.

And if gobs of candy from the pinata weren't enough, I laid it on thick with a Candyland-inspired cake.  I saw a picture of this cake a few years ago, but could never get my hands on the candy needed for it while in Indonesia.  It was a big hit.

A kid's dream cake, right?

Zoe wanted two things for her birthday: to get her ears pierced, and an American Girl doll.  We came through on both counts, although she almost chickened out of the ear piercing.  Most Indonesians have their girls' ears pierced when they're infants, and I wish we had done that with Zoe.  She was all excited about it, until we walked into the mall and got closer to the jewelry store.  There were a few tears, but after it was all done she was all smiles.  

Our little one, si kecil, has brought us so much joy.  She is an energetic, affectionate, crazy little kid, who lives up to her name: life, full and genuine, which belongs to God.

And tomorrow we will be celebrating her brother's birthday.  Carter (who doesn't live up to his name - "cart-driver" - we love him anyway) will be 14.  Yep, I feel old.

November 09, 2011

The Adventure Continues

Last week we returned from our last big trip of this furlough, our Blitz Tour of New England, also titled "David Finally Makes it North of the Mason-Dixon Line" and "How Many Seasons Can We Experience in One Trip?"  

With the kids, their schoolbooks, David's sister Anna and her new-hubby Rich, Anna's wedding dress, and our winter coats all packed into the van, we set off.

Our first stop was in Virginia to see my college roommate JJ and her family.  I haven't seen JJ for about 10 years, so this visit was loooong overdue. 

Next we stopped in New Jersey for two nights and stayed with our friend Kevin.  He and his wife Linda have come to Kalimantan for the past few years to lead our MAF family conference.  Linda was away speaking at a women's retreat, but Kevin was our trusty tour guide for a whirlwind tour of New York City.

We've been spoiled by riding the immaculate subway system in Singapore.  The New York subways left a bit to be desired, but the kids loved it nonetheless.  A few blocks after exiting the subway we ran into the Occupy Wallstreet people.  Frankly, we were unimpressed.  There just wasn't much to it, at least not on this chilly morning.

We visited the 9/11 Memorial which opened in September.  The security was tight, and the mood was somber.  

We took a ride on the free Staten Island Ferry to catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty.

"Give me your tired, your poor, your crazy brother-in-law, yearning to be in the picture!" quoth Lady Liberty.

The weather was clear, which meant we could ascend to the top of the Empire State Building. Despite the metal fence surrounding the viewing area, I couldn't help but clutch the backs of the kids' coats, in the very unlikely event that fence should fly off.  David laughed at me, but he agreed he felt a little woozy, too.  We all felt the "tingles" being up so high - for me, it was in the backs of my knees; Grace said it was in her stomach.

It gave me the willies for Grace to put her hand through the fence like this.  But the view was amazing!

Next we went to Central Park and visited the statue of Balto, the famous sled-dog.

And one of the most entertaining things we saw was this hawk devouring a mouse in a tree above us.  The kids were fascinated.

After a stop by F.A.O. Schwartz, we walked to Times Square and sat for about an hour and just watched the craziness of New York City whiz by us.  

So much to look at...big screen tv's, Broadway musical ads (sigh...maybe next time), the Naked Cowboy (um, only a brief glance at him!), and people, people, people!  That's our friend Kevin in the picture above.  I love how we're all looking in different directions in this shot.

At the end of the day, I asked Luke what he enjoyed most about New York City.  He thought for a minute, then said, "Well, that hawk eating the mouse was pretty cool."  I just had to laugh.  So often that is how it goes with our travels.  I make plans, choosing sights that I think might interest the kids, and in the end it's the spontaneous, unplanned-for experience that they most enjoy and remember.

The next day, as we continued our journey north, it started to rain.  Then it started to sleet.  By the time we reached Aunt Mary's house in upstate New York it was snowing.  Yippee!  We bundled up then headed out for a once-every-few-years walk in the snow.

This jungle bunny was cold!

The juxtaposition of the snow on the orange and red leaves was just beautiful.

Our next leg of our trip took us to Plymouth, Massachusetts.  Together with Aunt Mary and Uncle Harvey, we toured Plymouth Plantation, the Mayflower II, and Boston.  We were going to do a whale watch, but the weather turned foul and the trip was canceled.  A historic nor'easter blew through and we experienced some crazy cold wind and rain.

Inside a Wampanoag summer home

"Good morrow, sir, how do ye fare?"
The staff at Plymouth Plantation were all in character, and it was hard not to start speaking in a British accent as they were.  

We hired Carter out to split wood.

Plymouth Rock - are you supposed to spit on it?

And I thought we were cramped in the van.  Can you imagine living in these quarters for two months aboard the Mayflower?  Yikes!

Zoe swabs the Mayflower deck.

The girls pose with the ducklings (from Make Way For Ducklings) in Boston.  I was feeling rather duck-like myself at this point.

This was the morning after the nor'easter, which blew the hotel's sign clear away!  

The last leg of the trip was Philadelphia.  We saw the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and Ben Franklin's grave.  Then it was on to cheesesteaks...

David liked Pat's...

I liked Geno's.

So we're home for a bit, and as much as I love to travel, it's nice to put the suitcases away for a while.  We are enjoying time with my parents, who have been so gracious to us - letting us stay with them, taking the kids for field trips (they're out on one now), and making our time with them very special.