Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas

I had a wonderful Christmas this year. It was SO fun being able to spend the holiday with extended family after so many years. That's one of the things I love about Thanksgiving and Christmas: family getting together, catching up. It's wonderful to see everyone growing up.

I feel so spoiled this year. Some of the things I've wanted for a long time, I was given, and one thing I didn't even know I wanted I got! The boys gave me this little tea for two set that is adorable. Em gave me a documentary I've been wanting, Ken Burn's Civil War. I've seen it before, and I have been wanting to watch it again. Now I can watch it whenever I want! Of course my inlaws know my heart and gave me a Starbuck's card, and my aunt Teri gave me a give card to La Madeleine's so I can have some of their Tomato Basil soup. But the big surprise was something T and the boys have been planning for awhile. I can't believe they kept a secret this long! They gave me tickets to see Brian Regan. Actually, it was part of Em's gift, too. We get to go together, spend the night in a hotel...we're really looking forward to it.

I love being here and being able to have more options of things to get for our loved ones. We enjoy the secrecy of it all, hiding gifts, re-hiding them, wrapping them, and then seeing their faces when they get them. I noticed this year more than before, though, that the kids eyes were on others faces as they watched their gifts being opened. You knew that a lot of thought went into that gift, and I think that meant more than the gift itself.

It's wonderful watching our kids grow up thinking about others. We wish we could have been there to see the faces of family open their presents in Florida, because we know the thought that the kids put into their gifts.

Gift giving. It's the ultimate gift of Christ's son, played out on a personal and practical level to family and friends. It's something we have thoroughly enjoyed this year.

Monday, December 29, 2008

How Much Do You Have to Hate?

Extremely profound thoughts from an atheist.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

We're Going to See This GUY!!!!

Em and I are going to see Brian Regan perform. It's our Christmas present from T and the boys. So excited!!!!!!


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Best Christmas Movies....Discuss

It's A Wonderful Life and Charlie Brown Christmas have to be the best Christmas movies made. Does anyone want to add to those titles?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christians Being Real

Refreshing.

I Am Second

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Monday, December 01, 2008

No post for awhile.

I'm just too busy to post lately. I knew it would be a busy year, with where the kids are in school and such, but I just haven't had the time to think about writing! I thought maybe I'll post once a month, something thoughtful, but at this point, that will be a stretch. I'll still be on Facebook, and most of you are my friends there, too, so you can keep track of what our family is doing, but for now, it's a writing hiatus.

Blessings!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Nutcracker

EM AND I ARE GOING TO SEE THE NUTCRACKER!!!! Not just any Nutcracker, either, but the Moscow Ballet's performance. T and the boys got it as a gift for Em and me for our birthdays.

I'll let you know how it is. I'm sure it will be FABULOUS!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Where the "HECK" is Matt?

I first saw this last Summer when Mark Goodyear posted it on his blog. Our family watched it over and over. It's an inspiring video, and looks like it was a lot of fun to make. Introducing Matt, dancing:

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Baseball and Bob Costas

Baseball has been a big part of our lives since we've been back in the States: the boys are in Pony and Mustang leagues, the Tampa Bay Rays made it to the World Series with Evan Longoria on the team (My son has a ball signed by him from when he was on the Olympic team. They played in Taichung, Tim wore his big, yellow SpongeBob SquarePants shirt, and Evan Longoria stood out even then. He later was called up to the big leagues, to the Tampa Bay Rays of all teams. Our old stomping grounds! Evan, if you ever happen to read this, that signed baseball has a place of honor on my son's dresser!), and Timothy has a shot at making the high school baseball team as a freshman.

I googled baseball, and came upon Ken Burn's Baseball series. One of the key storytellers in that series was Bob Costas. Since early in our marriage, Tim and I have been fans of Bob. We used to watch his late show when we got home from working 2nd shift at General Electric. We were always amazed at his knowledge of just about everything, but especially sports. He is a walking computer, but brings a human touch to his stories while filling them with all of those stats and computations. He understands the historic value of the stories he tells, but more importantly he recognizes that players today stand on the shoulders of those who came before. As a result, he is able to produce a flow of questioning that allows players, coaches, or Presidents for that matter, show their passion for the topic discussed.

Here is Bob interviewing Hank Aaron and Willie Mays in front of an audience. It's great fun, and the personalities of these great players shine through.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Historic Day Today.

Should be interesting. Can't wait to hear the percentage of voters. I hear it may break the 71% record.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Mike Took a Picture For Me!




Mike, over at Ozark Photos filled a request for me by taking a Fall photo there in the Ozarks. Didn't he do a great job? I think this one is my favorite, Mike. I love the steam coming off of the water in the stream. Must have been a chilly morning!

Thanks so much!!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

A First in Hughes Baseball

Timothy made his first home run. It was sweet.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Do you ever feel blah?

That's what I'm feeling today. It's pretty unusual for me. I'm usually riled up about something, or thinking on something, or doing something or going somewhere (right now I'm just entertaining myself by making my words into italics). But yeah. It's a blah day.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining! I kind of need a blah day every now and again. I think today is just going to be a blah morning, because the boys have games this evening. Their games are anything but blah.

I did get to share some blahness with our middle son, though. He's kind of feeling the same way, and so we went out for a drive, just to see the countryside. It's doable now that gas is down to 2.37 a gallon. But he and I are products of our environment. We take on things that are going on around us, and right now it's just a lazy Fall day.

Enjoy your day, whatever kind of day it is, because it's LIFE, and it's all part of living!

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Waltons




My kids know who the Waltons are now! I'm so excited. So now, when I make references about how NOT like the Waltons they are, there's a glimmer of understanding.

We knew some kids who were Waltonish. It was a little bit scary, and to be quite honest I just didn't know how to react to them. I walked my kids to school every morning, and often they would be in front of us. It was 7:30 in the morning, and they were already smiling, pleasantly conversing....scary stuff. One morning I was walking close enough to hear them bid each other a good day before they split up and went to each of their classrooms. I almost stopped in mid stride. I told them they were like the Waltons. I got sweet smiles and blank stares. I mimicked the lines, "Good night John Boy....Good night Mary Ellen...Good night Jim Bob...." Nothing. It was then that I realized my kids were probably as clueless about the show as them: The modern day Waltons.

A friend of mine asked one of the parents how they do it. He smiled and replied that God gives us the children we can handle. "Well I guess God knew I could handle much more than you!" was her reply.

So....when I found the show comes on in the mornings before school starts, I took the liberty of pointing them out. The kiddos aren't impressed, and we still have the morning hurry up's and "Get your shoes and put them on in the car!" I wonder if I could bribe them for just one morning of the Waltons.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Finger

Here is Brian Regan's hilarious bit I talked about in the previous post. I promise it's completely clean.



Enjoy.

PS. If you are interested in any more of Brian's clips, some of our favorites are Emergency Room 1 & 2, I walked on the Moon, Stupid in School (boxen and moosen are words we use in our house regularly now), and UPS.

What's Right in America

I've been ranting a bit about things that are bugging me here in the States, but I haven't given equal time to the things I love. So here goes:

Thunderstorms. We had the most awesome thunderstorm the other night, and Texas thunderstorms are my favorite. The lightening shoots across the sky in firework-like displays, and the thunder literally rolls across the sky. I remember in high school, we had a two story house with a tin roof. My bedroom was upstairs, and on nights with thunderstorms I could lay in bed and listen to the thunder and watch the displays. It's one of my favorite things.

Choice. In America, we have a choice for just about everything out there in terms of purchasing things. The cell phones I despise, food, clothing, toys, sports equipment, cars....you name it. When we have the means, we do not need to settle in our choices. We can get exactly what we want when we want it. Grant it, that ease of purchase is what has us a little bit (OK, a lot-a-bit) spoiled, but it's there.

Friendliness. I love the fact that strangers will just pop into a conversation, will wave a thank you (although a really funny comedian, Brian Regan, has a bit about this very thing. I'll try to find it and post it. It's called "the Finger" and it's not what it sounds like.), open doors for others...it does a heart good to see those type of things.

Volunteers and Charity. People like to give of their time for no pay. It's the most selfless thing, and I believe it's one of the things that makes America strong. It's surely one of the things that makes America proud. Most of the rest of the world is focused on surviving and getting ahead. But America is in a place in her history where she can do good for others without expecting or asking for pay. And our charitable giving as a nation is unmatched. I remember after the tsunami in Thailand, the American government was criticized for not giving more, but what wasn't taken into account was the amount of private donations that were given. The GOVERNMENT didn't need to give as much, because her private citizens were. Makes me proud.

Last, but not least, education. I know the school system takes a lot of heat for things, but our teachers are pretty innovative, and they are willing to do what it takes to ensure that kids are learning. Did you know that there is a teaching style that has been part of the education system for many years (round table) that England wants to implement in it's classrooms? They send teachers here to observe it in action, and the reason it's so good is that it eliminates the back of the classroom. Every student has to be involved in the lesson. England wants to make it the standard classroom setup in their schools.

While there are a lot of things wrong here in the States, there are many more things that are right. Our democratic system is one of the best in the world, and while we may not like it all the time, or there may be corruption or negligence in the system, in reality it all comes down to us and what we allow, the choices we make. In the end, it's ours, and for better or worse, I love it!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Fall

It's my favorite time of year again, but this year I'm enjoying it in the states. I didn't realize how much I miss it here. The things I'm noticing lately are the cool temperatures in the evenings (I even shivered once last week!), the beautiful sunsets that illuminate the entire sky, FLOCKS of birds (or as the great comedian Brian Regan would say, "Flocksen of birds.")flying overhead, or assembled on power lines, big blue skies, the smell of fires in fireplaces.... I could go on. I'm really looking forward to pumpkin carving, though. Our kids have really missed that. I will definitely post pictures!

Though we're busy with speaking engagements this month, we are taking the time to just enjoy the outdoors. I think a nice drive in the country is in order.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Spin Zone

Yes, I'm ranting a bit lately. I am experiencing a little bit of reverse culture shock lately (though the positives far outweigh the negatives, mind you), so the cell phone thing, and especially the cell phone while driving thing (or worse yet, TEXTING while driving...unimagineable! I saw a woman doing this during morning traffic on the interstate this week, and she drove worse than any drunk driver I've ever seen) is something I'm just not used to.

But, this being an election year, and being out of U.S. politics for nine years (so I even missed the "hanging chad" election, and yes, I even voted though I was in a small rural town in a developing country....so VOTE!) has caused me to realize I have not been a political observer in this country for a long time. Although, I am so glad most places have given up the little truck that drives around with the speaker on top, loudly proclaiming the virtues of their party. (Taiwan hasn't)

I am amazed at this point at the amount of spin that is out there. I used to teach a unit of study to my gifted students about elections, and the students were amazed to see how easy it is to sway others to a party's platform. They discovered that few people fact check. They could say just about anything to other classes, and if it was a popular idea, they got the vote. Once they had this experience, we back pedaled and looked at ads from local politicians (Florida was electing a governor at this point) to see if this was going on with them. They were shocked. If I had to do that lesson again, I would have them cast their votes on a candidate first, then cast them again to see if there was a change. But I digress.

Spinning the TRUTH is something that politicians were good at, but would never publicly acknowledge doing. Now, I'm seeing it as a point of pride, with interviews after debates with party "spin doctors" to talk about who did better, who swayed viewers the best.

The reason I take spinning to task, is that it goes against what we teach our children when they are younger and they only tell one side of a story, or only present elements of an event to paint themselves in a better light. They are telling the truth, but not the whole truth, for their personal benefit. They use elements of truth to present a facade and cause people think in one direction, when the opposite is actually true. There is deniability within the elements of truth rather than the whole truth. It can always be said, "Oh, you misunderstood...I never actually said...." I know people like this personally, and they are not to be trusted. Period. So why do we allow it with our candidates?

So tonight during the vice presidential debate, I'll be working to unspin the spin, and listening for real, honest truth. It's a tough job, but it's my responsibility as a citizen. I think I've got enough practice now to do a fairly decent job of it.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Head's Up

Being out of the country for 9 years has enabled us to see the states from a different perspective, I believe. It's a little strange, but interesting at the same time, to see some of the things that have developed over the years, especially in the realms of technology and entertainment.

First of all, who decided to put ads at the bottom of the TV screen? You're watching a program, totally engrossed in the storyline, when an ad pops up and totally pulls you out of the story. Whoever thought of that was greedy and not at all thinking of the viewer. It's rude. We don't like to be interrupted when we pay $7 at a movie theater, why do we allow it at home?

Second and probably last for today is the use of cell phones. We really don't use cell phones much as a family. Instead we just plan what we are going to do, where we are going to meet, etc. It's been amusing watching people use cell phones since we've been here. I pick Timothy up from school, and as I wait in line in the parking lot, I see students emerging from school with their cell phones already attached to their ears. Friends will be walking side by side, talking on cell phones to someone else. Or they will be wandering around the grass or sidewalk, kicking stones, leaning on trees, totally enthralled in conversation.

But students aren't the only ones. Adults are just as bad! Loud phone conversations in restaurants and even Dr's offices are definitely annoying. I really don't want to hear why another person is breaking up with someone else. Even at little league, coaches and parents are on their cell phones, or texting away at a speed I never imagined possible. I think we've discovered a new and improved use for thumbs!

I guess the reason I'm bothered so much by cell phones is the disturbance of the here and now. I don't mean the occasional phone user by any means. Sometimes you just need to make a call, and that's when cell phones are useful. I'm talking about the two friends walking together talking to other people, or the parents at the little league game missing their child's time at bat because they're talking on the phone. Cell phones have become a distraction away from the moments in front of us. The seizable moments, if there is such a word. As parents, we look for teachable moments, or moments just to absorb the joy our children bring. As friends, sometimes it is OK to be lost in the moment of just being with a friend, without having to say a word.

As an outsider looking in, I find our distractedness a little bit sad. We need to be alert in the moment, but instead we're thinking about the two or three steps ahead. Maybe all of the turmoil around us will cause us to look around a bit, and be grateful.

Next time maybe I'll talk about cell phones and driving. But I'll have to tone that one down a bit.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Better Late than Never

Well, I'm a little bit late in my Autumn greetings, so let me start by saying: "Happy Fall, Ya'll!"

How do single parents do it? I'm wondering about that this Fall as I'm a stay-at-home mom with my kiddos. I have three kids on three different campuses (high school, middle school and elementary school) that have to be there within 20 minutes of each other. School buses, you say? Not possible. I live within two miles from each campus, which means it's too close for buses to pick up. Two miles isn't far by car, but it is too far to walk each morning and afternoon. (And NO, I do not want to hear the "barefoot and in the snow" stories right now!) It also sounds like getting the kiddos to each campus is quite do-able since the campuses are so close, but don't be too quick to forget the LINES of cars waiting to do the same thing I'm doing on each of these campuses. The task can be daunting.

BUT....I'm loving it. It's kind of fun being a chauffeur as well as a baseball mom. (soccer. psh. Just kidding Craver) I find that the parents here are very supportive and they let the kids be kids out there. Not too much, though. They also make sure they know their stuff when it comes to baseball. Plus, they start each game in prayer. Now that's Texas for ya!

As for Fall, it always amazes me how quickly things turn from Summer to Fall. It seems like the 22nd there is an actual difference in the shadows and the temperature. If anyone knows this to be a fact, feel free to pass it on. Maybe I'm just anticipating my favorite season too much, but it's there. Add to that the beat of the drums from the football stadium on Friday nights, the pumpkins already on sale, and those caramel apple wraps on display in the stores, and I'm in heaven on earth.

So...Happy Fall, Ya'll! I'll be happy to post any of your favorite Fall pictures and link to your site, if you happen to send any my way!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11

I haven't been in the states since 9/11 first took place, so I haven't really had the reminders leading up to the day. Now that I'm in the states, I'm seeing news, blogs, and special stories that bring it all to mind, and it has given me time to reflect.

I can remember the day so clearly. We were in Malaysia, and we were packing to get ready to fly back to Thailand the next morning. We had gone out to eat (we had some great Indian food in a local open market) and then split up. T went back to the hotel, and I went out with the kiddos, when T called me up to tell me what he was seeing on CNN. He told of an airliner that hit one of the towers, then he went silent for a moment. He began to describe what he was seeing: another jetliner came into view and it was headed straight for another tower. It hit, and it felt as though time just stood still. We were incredulous. With the first tower, we were theorizing that maybe something went terribly wrong with a flight. But when the second plane came into view, it was clear. This was a terrorist act. I immediately went back to the hotel, and we sat by the TV all night. Those images, sights and sounds, even half a world away, were heart wrenching. It became clear that there was pure evil in the world. We've always known it was there, but this was on national television and the world saw it as well. And for awhile, most of the world grieved with us.

Many don't know this, but the twin towers in Kuala Lampur were also threatened. For that reason, we also didn't fly for the next few days. We stayed at the hotel, and watched closely to all that unfolded before our eyes. All of the planes. The last phone calls from loved ones, saying their good-byes. The walls of pictures of missing loves ones, all in the hopes of finding them alive somewhere. We clung to the stories of rescues, of loved ones reunited against all odds.

I don't want to forget the feelings of that day. We need to make sure that those that come after us don't forget the faces and actions of evil. It's out there, and it is up to good people to stand up and do something about it.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Things I'm Re-Learning About Life in the States

There are TONS of magazines. Choose wisely.
Police are everywhere.
So are traffic cameras.
Everything costs money.
Tip.
Some places don't give change back.
One must drive. Everywhere.
One must not weave through pedestrians in Walmart parking lots. This causes them to give dirty looks.
Stop at stop signs until you roll back.
Middle school boys do not like "Snack Packs" in their lunches. Other middle schoolers laugh.
Football hurts.
Everyone moves fast. All the time.
There are very specific rules during pick up time at various school campuses. Do not break them.
Don't forget to allow for sales tax.
There are no xi tou's.
There are no taxi's.
There are abundantly more food choices. This requires restraint.
There are abundantly more music stations. Few are good.
Bookstores are grand.
So are libraries.
Bookstores and libraries smell wonderful.
I can ask intelligent questions in doctor's offices.
Doctors offer options and information.
New friends are exciting.
Old friends are comfortable.
So are Texas accents and customs, like saying "fixin'", gentlemen opening doors, and talking to strangers.

It's been a sharp learning curve, but I think I'm getting the hang of it.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

More Cambodia Pictures

Emily went to Cambodia with my husband, Big Dad, last February. They both came back raving about that place. Em brought her little point and shoot camera, and even though it doesn't offer a lot as far as extras, she did get some great shots. With a little photo manipulation, we think they turned out nicely. Here they are:




Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My Kitchen





After reading what Craver wrote about picassa and the editing you can do within it (and seeing the difference in the pictures he posted!), I went to my picassa account and started looking through my pictures. I found this picture of my kitchen in China! You have to understand we lived in a small, rural market town, and had little in terms of comfort items. This kitchen was actually one of the nicer ones around. It had concrete floors and such. We put in wires so that we could plug in a small fridge, so that I could go to market every OTHER day instead of every day. :) Milk was delivered to our door in pint sized bottles.

In the picture, there are woks imbedded in the concrete, with holes underneath for wood to heat up the woks. The tall, wooden thing in the corner is what they use to make yak butter tea. It's unique to that area. It's definitely an acquired taste!

The second picture shows my kitchen door on the left, and the door to the house on the right. My dad actually made the screen door when he was visiting. There's a smaller handle toward the bottom so that Nathaniel could open the door. The bench in the corner is one we had made while we were there, so that we could sit on the porch and look at the mountains. I think we had one of the best views on the planet! We were living at 8600 feet above sea level, and one night we were looking at the stars and noticed two "stars" moving away from each other. I ran in and looked up NASA on the computer, and found out those "stars" were actually the space shuttle moving away from the space station, and we were watching it without a telescope. It was really cool. :)

I guess coming back to the states has made me a little nostalgic about our overseas life. Of course we are reliving many things when speaking to others, so it must be natural. But these pictures bring about some fun memories.

Friday, August 15, 2008

No Duck For YOU!

You have to know what it's like living here in Taiwan. There are things that happen here that drive us westerners crazy, mainly because we are so set in our ways. One thing is traffic. It seems the laws here are viewed as "guidelines", and that includes stopping at red lights and stop signs, turning into traffic, stopping a vehicle and blocking lanes in order to run in and get a bowl of noodles. I could go on. Of course Taiwan is not the only place in the world like this, and I have to say traffic is MUCH better here than other places I've lived, but it still gets to a person occasionally.

The other thing is waiting in line. I know there are those in the states who don't do this, either, but it seems to be more common here. I tend to let it go, unless I'm in a hurry myself. But this tendency to not wait in line is what made yesterday so comical.

Enter the duck lady. A lady on a street corner who sells roasted duck. We'll call her the Duck Nazi, because much like the Seinfeld character, the Soup Nazi, she ruled her place of business. People lined up, LINED UP I said, around the corner to get her ducks. No one cut in line. No one spoke. Every one waited their turn.

Step up to the line.

Duck Nazi: "One?"
T: "One." Hands money.
DN: "Change."
T: "Thank you"
T side steps to the right to wait for his food.
T receives said food, walks away, careful not to speak to soon, a little smile of triumph on his lips.

We're still talking about it. If we get a chance to go there again before getting on a plane, I'll post pictures. You gotta see it to believe it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Cat is Out of the Bag

Well, I know I've been silent lately, but it's not because of a lack of extra-curricular activities. I've had my hands full lately, and not just with getting Em in college and heading back to the states for awhile. I guess the video below speaks for itself...



Thoughts?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Operation Share-a-Square complete!

A year ago, I began reading Shelly Tucker's blog. She a professional story teller AND from the great ol' state of Texas, a combination that's hard to beat.

A short time after I began to read her blog, she made an appeal to her readers. Seems there's a camp called Camp Sanguinity, and it's a camp for kids with cancer, and they were in need of blankets. Each new camper receives a blanket, and this year, Shelly decided to take on the challenge of making sure they each got one. But she didn't just see the task as providing blankets. She saw the task as a labor of love, one to let the kids know how much others are thinking of them and rooting for them. I guess you could say Shelly got me "hooked."

Her idea? To collect small, crocheted panels from all over the world and piece them together to form 140 blankets. Each panel would have a tag from the person who made it, so the child would know who was thinking and praying for them. Operation Share-a-Square had begun. I sent off a few panels, to be added to the MULTITUDE of panels Shelly collected.

Well, last week, the project ended, and Shelly delivered the blankets. I can't tell it the way she does, so you need to click this link and see for yourself.

This truly has been a labor of love. (I want to emphasize labor, so that you will go through Shelly's archives to watch the progression of the challenge!) Shelly had a vision to not only help out, but to show a little (lotta!) love along the way.

You did it Shelly, you and all of those who contributed. Thanks for being the inspiration for such a great event!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Goodbye Video from Timothy's class



Timothy and his friend Joe (the one with the Nike ball) are going back to the states, so their class made them a video.

The thing about Timothy's class is that they are so sweet and accepting. Any new student who comes in becomes part of the group instantly. They go out to movies together, to the mall....they are just always together.

I know Timothy will miss them.

(By the way, they call Timothy Mr. Buff, so a couple of the skits are with that in mind.)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Project Blue #2


Son #1 catching some blue sky.


Son #2 in blue, catching a ball game here in Taichung. I caught him on TV. :)

Monday, June 02, 2008

Project Blue


Anna's at it again. It's time for project blue.

T took this picture in a village. The blue scarf is a little unusual. Normally the scarves are bright, cheerful colors. I love this picture because of the lines in the woman's face. I'm sure she earned every one. The tattoos on her arm identify which village she's from.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Can you say STRESS???



OK. We knew this time of the year was going to be stressful, for many reasons.

1. It's the end of the school year for me. This time of year means a lot of meetings, finishing out paperwork, discussing needs for students next year, etc. This year is compounded by the fact that my classroom is going to be torn down in eleven days. So my end of the year check out routine means actually moving my classroom to another part of campus. Not too bad, but there's more.

2. It's the end of high school for my daughter. The last few months have been full of lasts, but this week is more final. She had her last day of classes on Friday, with the entire class meeting in the tower to countdown the closing bell and let balloons go. It was emotional indeed. Now she's on her senior trip and will be home on Wednesday. Her graduation is on Saturday. But there's more.

3. We're going back to the States for a year when school ends. That means saying goodbyes, packing out our house, moving everything to storage. Getting rid of the things we don't want, yard sales, donations. But there's more.

Did I mention baby girl is graduating?

We'll live through it, and life goes on, but for right now getting up in the morning and breathing in and out is an accomplishment!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Our Favorite Commercial

This is our favorite commercial over here. Do you guys get it in the States?

Friday, May 09, 2008

Coincidence or Voice of God?

You know how there are times when events, circumstances, moments in time just come together so perfectly that you wish you had bought a lottery ticket at that moment because surely it would have been a winner? That moment you have just been a part of and know it's probably the only time something like that will ever happen in your lifetime?

I've actually had a few of those. Some were small, others were amusing. Like once, I threw a penny up in the air at a guy named Glen (who was throwing rocks at me. I didn't do anything to him. Really! It was night, and he was throwing rocks to see if I could get out of the way by the time that I saw them! You would throw a penny, too!). I just had a penny in my hand, and I got the idea that if I threw it up in the air really high, it could actually come down and hit him on top of the head before he ever saw it. So I threw it, and it did. He went inside after that.

Then there was the time in church. See, back in the 70's, there were these things called CB radios. They were a lot of fun, and they had their own lingo. (That's language, people.) 10-4 meant OK, policemen were "smokies" and everyone had their own "handle" or code name. My dad's was City Parson until we moved to Texas, then it was Country Parson. It was good to use the word Parson in the name, so those on the other side would be more selective in their word choices. And everyone was a "good buddy."

On this particular church night, dad was praying for something in particular. I can't remember what it was, but it was definitely a prayer of looking for God's will, and asking for an answer to prayer. At the end of his prayer, as soon as the word "amen" escaped from his lips, a loud yet friendly voice broke through and said, "That's a 10-4, good buddy!" There was a moment of silence, then peals of laughter as the audience, the choir, musicians and dad absorbed what had just happened.

I guess if the prayer was answered, we can assume it was God! Your turn: those once in a lifetime moments. Do you have any?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

More Project Green from Around Town


The green picnic tables that seem to get repainted every community service day by the middle schoolers.

The Dr. Seuss trees at school. I love these trees.

Green Pumpkin Juice. Ingredients: water, green pumpkin, sucrose.
This can has been sitting on my desk for about a month because I didn't know what to do with it. Now it has a purpose: a subject for Project Green.

The recycling bins on the playground. Something unique to Taiwan, I think.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Project Green



New day, new project. :) Anna set forth a GREEN challenge yesterday. So I looked through some archive shots and found this one from last year. It's the rice field across from our house. I love the rice when it's green like this. In just a few short weeks the grain will begin to show, and the plants will begin to bend with the weight of the rice. But for now, I'll enjoy this shot of nice green fields.

I antiqued the second shot just to give it a different feel.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

One more looking through


This one is from my husband's travels. I love this picture.

Click here for the other Project Looking Through participants, including my cousin LeighAnne's blog. (I wanna GO there, LeighAnne!)

Project Looking Through


Looking through a temple gate, Taiwan. Summer 2007.

Click here to see the original "Looking Through" Project.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

39 years ago...

But sounds much like today:

Friday, April 11, 2008

You've Got a Friend

by Carol King
Sung by James Taylor

When you're down and troubled
And you need a helping hand
And nothing, no nothing is going right.
Close your eyes and think of me
And soon I will be there
To brighten up even your darkest nights.

You just call out my name,
and you know wherever I am
I'll come running, oh yeah baby
To see you again.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall,
All you have to do is call
and I'll be there, yeah, yeah, yeah.
You've got a friend.

If the sky above you
Should turn dark and full of clouds
And that old north wind should begin to blow
Keep your head together and call my name out loud
And soon I will be knocking upon your door.
You just call out my name and you know where ever I am
I'll come running to see you again.

Hey, ain't it good to know that you've got a friend?
People can be so cold.
They'll hurt you and desert you.
Well they'll take your soul if you let them.
But don't you let them.

You just call out my name and you know wherever I am
I'll come running to see you again.
Oh, don't you know that,

Lord, I'll be there, yes I will.
You've got a friend.
You've got a friend.
Ain't it good to know you've got a friend.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Coach

Track season just ended this year, and I was a bit more involved this year than in other years. It was fun because it brought back a lot of memories about track, track season, OFF season training and our coach.

Coach Cunningham was a very patient person. He had to be, he was working with a bunch of high school girls. He always said he had to work us hard because he didn't have any thoroughbreds. He only had work horses. He had a way of saying things like that, and we knew exactly what he meant. No offense was taken.

Hard work included running endless 200's. That's half a track, for those who don't know, and it's a long way. Well, it's long when you have to keep sprinting them over and over again. We would sprint the 200, walk across the field over to the starting line, wait for Coach to yell "REEEADY" and we were to step up to the mark and sprint again. One day we had had enough. We determined on the walk over to the starting line that we were going to play deaf. He yelled ready, and no one moved. (It had to be a group effort, mind you.) Another "REEEADY" and still none of us moved, though we were getting a little anxious. Finally, he yelled, "PRETTY PLEASE REEEADY!!!" and that was it. We were no longer deaf because we were all laughing. Needless to say we had to walk to the line and run our sprints.

We had very few track meets on our own track, because it was just a gravel track. But we finally hosted a meet, and it didn't turn out to great for us sprinters. We had run the 400 relay in practice and ran a pretty slow 54 second time. We were expecting better than that the next day at the meet, because you just run faster times when your adrenalin is pumping. So we ran at the meet, and we had aweful times. 55 seconds! It was even slower than practice! We were standing together and he walked up and said, "Be here at 8 o'clock tomorrow morning." and walked away. That was a Saturday morning! We all arrived the next day, and knew we were in for trouble when we saw that he had his "I'd rather be fishin'" hat on. It was a rough workout.

There are so many more memories of track, off season, and Coach Cunningham. He used to say, "I won't ever ask you to do anything I think you can't do." and I believed him completely. If he asked me to do something, it meant I could do it. Period.

Of all of my times in high school: cheerleading, homecomings, drill team...you name it, I think I learned the most from track. It was a great experience. And even though I was just an average sprinter, I'm glad I did it.

Friday, April 04, 2008

A New Time of Life

Baby girl is graduating, and it's all about me. Isn't that terrible? Actually, I am so happy for her and proud of her, but I'm realizing it's the end of an era.

Em was the easiest child to parent. No lie. The things that worried me about her were not in her control: her learning disability, her "too sweet" nature that others tended to take advantage of... those were the things I worried about. But never the typical teenager things: the sassiness, talking back, rebellion. I waited, but it never came. her kind heartedness or her willingness to help others...the big things. And it seems those big things are carrying her into adulthood. She wants to serve others and I couldn't be prouder. Her ideas for career choice are in that realm.

As for me, I'm wondering what my testosterone-filled house will be like without her here to help balance things out. I'm wondering who will help me make cookie dough and hide it in the freezer so none of the boys can find it. And I'm wondering who will show me those funny video clips she has a knack of finding.

But, that's how it goes. My relationship with Em will move more into friendship, and I look forward to that. I also look forward to watching her discover the world. There's a lot out there for a girl like her.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Living Overseas

What is it that makes people pick up and move overseas? How can a person or people sell everything they own, leave their support system, the familiarity of the things around them to go and live in a place minus those things? No familiar doctors, dentists, friends, or even simple things such as familiar food and types of housing?

I wonder about that often these days, especially living around a strong foreign business community. An arrogant person once stated to me that the only reason someone would try to work over here is if they couldn't make it in the states. At first the arrogance of the statement took me back, but I had to laugh about that later, because they fit that profile completely. Why can't I see those things immediately? It did make me wonder why THEY were here, though.

But that's not what brings people overseas at all. I can't imagine someone thinking "I can't make it in the states, so I'm going to go live overseas where I'm even MORE disadvantaged and give it a shot." No. There's more to it. And I'm not just talking about missionaries, either. Missionaries do feel a burden for those around them, but so do business people. Business people also have to deal with culture shock, learning a new language and learning to drive in a controlled chaotic style. They aren't working from a calling, so what keeps them here?

When we were going through the process of coming overseas, we met a couple named Jim and Jane. They shared that their family was accusing them of just wanting an adventure. The response of everyone there was, "So?" That sense of adventure seems to be a prerequisite to working in another culture. Can you imagine coming over here and NOT having one? We referred to Jim and Jane's process as "Jim and Jane's Great Adventure" after that.

But I think that's an important quality: a sense of adventure. I honestly didn't realize I had that much of an adventurous spirit until I lived in that little town on the mountain. A pioneer woman with a computer is what a friend called me. I never thought about it in those terms until she said that. Adventure can be addicting, making a person want to experience more and more. There's something about actually tangently feeling, tasting and seeing another culture. It is definitely something that keeps us working through the frustrations of daily living in another culture. And believe me, there are frustrations, because this is not my home culture.

But this is our home for now. God has called us to this life. I know, because he's instilled that sense of adventure in us, and keeps it alive in us on a daily basis. Our focus is on the lives around us, and the next adventure we're called to.

I wonder what God's adventures are like. You know he loves it, too. After all, we're created in His image.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Spring Continued

You know, as of last Tuesday, the grass is a bit greener, the sky is a little bluer. Birds are chirping a little happier, and butterflies abound. What a wonderful world.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Spring has sprung, the grass is ris, I wonder where my true love is?

My dad would quote that poem in the Spring when I was growing up. It comes to mind on days like yesterday. It was such a glorious day! Cool breezes, a few clouds in the sky, birds chirping, kindergartners chasing butterflies (telling what some of them did to the butterflies won't fit with the tone of this post). Everyone was walking around saying, "It's a sin to be inside on a day like today!"

When I was teaching in Florida, I had the privilege of teaching gifted students the subjects of reading and history. It's a great combination, and we were able to do so much with those topics, especially with those gifted minds at work. But occasionally, there were days like yesterday. I never could stay indoors on those days. So, no matter what was planned on these days, it always became a reading day. Novels were fetched, carpets were thrown on the grass, and our reading class commenced in the great outdoors. We were always sad when time was up, because it meant going back to the grind of studying and classwork. But at least we had one class period of reading in the sun.

I came to realize yesterday that I have a Ferris Bueller mindset. Sometimes you do have to stop and smell the roses. And I could see that others had the same mindset as well. Desks and chairs were moved outdoors, students sprawled on picnic tables with their books and papers anchored with bookbags. When you're given the gift of a beautiful day, occasionally you need to take the time to enjoy it!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

San's First Time Bowling:

We had a family day (partially, since Em wasn't there) while we were in Thailand, and we took the opportunity to bowl at a new bowling place. It was San's first time to bowl, so I captured each of their first throws down the alley. Be sure to watch from the top down:

video

video

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Life Maximizers:

I took a Life Maximizer's workshop, and filled out a little (big) personality profile thingy. It told me a lot about myself, but the strangest:

I'm a self-confident people pleaser.

How does that work?

My mom and dad suggested it might look something like:

"No, I really don't agree with what you're saying. But here, have some coffee."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Angkor Wat Up Close







Here are some preliminary pictures of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. T took Em there for her Senior Trip, and what a trip it was! They both just returned this evening, and we have been looking at pictures nonstop. Em was impressed by the amount of carvings she saw, and how intricate they were. She tried to capture them on camera, and I think she did a fair job of it! She has her father's eye for pictures, that's for sure.

There are even more...I saw 700 pictures on the camera. We'll be working through them over the next few days.

T was so impressed with Cambodia. He wants to return at some point. Maybe in a couple of years, we can go as a family. He said it is an amazing country.

Enjoy the pictures! More are on the way, including some of those elephant pictures. :)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

This is Just Too Good.

Straight from today's FoxNews headlines:

Indiana Boys Left With Bleeding Tongues After Licking Flagpole
Saturday, January 26, 2008


CHESTERTON, Ind. — Two fourth-grade boys mimicking a scene from the movie "A Christmas Story" wound up with their tongues stuck to a frozen flagpole.

Gavin Dempsey and James Alexander were serving on flag duty at Jackson Elementary School Friday morning, with the job of raising and lowering the school's flags. They decided to see if their tongues really would stick to the cold metal.

"I decided to try it because I thought all of the TV shows were lies, but turns out I was wrong," Gavin said.

Karen Alexander, James' mother , said her son told her he got the idea from the movie, which is based on stories about a boy growing up in the northwest Indiana community of Hammond in the 1940s.

"I can't believe he did it, but they learned their lesson," she said.

James said he plans to eat a lot of ice cream to help nurse his wound.

"When you're young, you're just messing around," he said.

Billie Dempsey, Gavin's mom, said a nurse called them to tell them the boys' tongues were bleeding.

"The nurse asked them, 'OK, who double-dog dared who?"' Billie Dempsey said, a reference to a phrase that a character in the movie used to dare another child to stick his tongue to the pole.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

BWI

Biblical Worldview Intigration is what we are learning about in our school these days. We've had some Professional Development days on the subject, and since our last PD day, I've found myself thinking a bit on what was presented. There were discussions about the philosophies our kids are bombarded with on a regular basis (relative truth and Nietsche's thoughts on the weak and powerless) through TV and music... all in all a very good study.

We've been tasked to observe each other in the classroom to see how we might be integrating our Biblical World View into our subjects. I was priviledged enough to observe the Science teacher as he began teaching about the Scientific Method. His integration was a perfect extention of the lesson: How God had created our brains to be inquisitive. How it pleases Him for us to question him, because that gives Him the chance to prove Himself to us. How this is a major feature of Christianity: we are not to just blindly follow. Good stuff.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Little Bit 'O Sunshine

Big Dad and I were on a walk this morning, when something the color of a tennis ball dropped down in front of us. On further inspection, I discovered it was a parakeet. Knowing there are many cats on the prowl around this particular 'hood, I decided to try and pick it up. When I walked up to it, it didn't fly away, and it immediately flew to my waiting finger. Very cute. So I walked around to various neighbors across the street, and no one knew where it belonged. SO...off toward home we went.

A small cage and birdseed was in order, so I ran off to the store while the kids got acquainted with "Sunshine" as we've come to call him. About $10 later, and he has a temporary home.

We've found that he likes people food, because he tried to eat Big Dad's yogurt and Timothy's Eggo. He also has clipped toenails, and his color is just too vibrant to have been left on his own devices in the wild. We plan on putting up some fliers in the neighborhood. He's so well taken care of, I'm sure he's missed.

In the meantime, we're enjoying our little bit o' Sunshine. Timothy is completely taken with him, and was even playing different kinds of music for him to see what he likes. (He seems to like the song "Bubbly" by the way) He's also taken to English fairly well, but responds better to Chinese. As you can see in the picture below, San is completely fascinated. He made that face when Sunshine un-fluffed his feathers. He didn't know they could do that. ha!

All in all, we're enjoying him while we have him.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Well Said

This is one of the best eulogies I've ever read. Ann Coulter, you did your dad proud.

Read it all. It's worth it.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

It's Not About Me


I've read portions of "A Purpose Driven Life" over the years, though I haven't read the whole book. I like a lot of the thoughts given, but the one I like the most is at the very beginning: "It's not about you." That thought rattles around in my head quite a bit, especially during the past year, and a few revelations have resulted in this thought process.

The first starts with me, embarrassingly enough. In reading through my previous blog entries, and reviewing the things that have bothered me over the years or have captured my attention, I have come to the realization that much of them are very self focused. Everything is about what I need or what I want, like or don't like. That's OK in that it's the place where I was, and I think I needed to go through that to grow, (and thank God FOR blogs, because writing these thoughts down has enabled me to review them) but I realize now how self focused it all has been.

This brings me to the second thought, and it may require more posts to completely follow the thought through: How much of our Christian life is focused on our own personal growth? This year, I got really tired of being around Christians. There was a restlessness and frustration that came from dealing with Christians on a daily basis. I know, I know, Christians are people too, full of faults and complications. I know this because I am full of faults and complications. But the "lightbulb moment" came from realizing that maybe that's not WHO I should be spending most of my time with. Am I keeping my light under a bushel? Or in a church? Or surrounded by like-minded friends that encourage ME?

So this is where I'm at. My time needs to be spent with non-Christians. Telling others about Christ is important, but what the world needs is to see the Word lived out, real, and modeled by example. Out there, in the community, involved, and letting THE light shine. I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Coffee-time Contemplation


While I haven't had time really to sit and contemplate this new year as I've always done in the past (because of hectic things at work along with some medical issues that aren't hugely serious but enough to keep our attention), I still found myself looking ahead a little bit. This year won't settle, really. There are big things coming down the pike. Our oldest child and only daughter, Emily, will be graduating this year, as well as our first real stateside time, we are looking at quite a few transitions. Anyone who knows me knows that moving is my least favorite thing on the planet, because no matter how well I plan (cough, cough), there are always those last-minute items that mean rushing around for a few days. I hate that part of it. In anticipation, we are getting rid of as much stuff as possible, so that there will be a minimal amount of items in storage. I also hate traveling. Funny, especially when you consider my job description. Once I am on the plane or in the car I'm fine, but it's the running around and hectic-ness beforehand that stresses me out.
Once we get to the states, it will be nice to settle in for awhile. We haven't lived a full year in the states since 1999, so it will be nice to have that next year. It will also be SO nice to be around family during ALL of the holidays. Our family has had fun and quite a few adventures with friends over here, but it will be nice to hang out with and have fun with some kinfolk.
All of that to say that we are happily looking forward to changes this next year. There are some good things coming, and some of the changes will be tough, but I wouldn't want it any other way. Changes are good when they are about growth and improvement, and I know that God has plans for us that He is preparing us for even as I write this.