Happy 1 Month Birthday Ezra!

Happy one month birthday to Ezra! Just last night I noticed that Ezra seems to be a bit more aware of seeing things. I love watching babies develop and am always anticipating their first smiles.

Ezra has adjusted to life in Cambodia. He’s getting less Mommy time, since I’m back to my normal responsibilities and don’t have time for extra-long holding sessions. (But we still cuddle lots.) His siblings all enjoy holding him. Anna is probably our best babysitter. When Ezra is crying she tries all sorts of positions to help him out. It’s so cute.

It’s hard to capture Ezra’s cuteness. He always seems to look huge in the pictures I take…but he’s really not chubby as this. I guess it’s just the position and camera angle.

Ezra is doing pretty well at going back to sleep after his night feedings. Sometimes he has to cry himself back to sleep when he won’t settle in my arms. I’m hoping he finds his thumb soon. Love this sweet little boy!

Bangkok Aquarium 2018

On August 8th (5 days before Ezra was born) we took a trip to Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World. We visited this aquarium when Clara was born last time we were in Bangkok and everyone was looking forward to going again. We were able to use Christmas money to sponsor our trip. Thankful for people’s generosity.

We had a great time seeing all the fish and other sea creatures. A highlight was the shark tunnel, where we walked through the shark, sting ray, and other large fish tank in a glass enclosed tunnel. The place where we could walk on top of the same area was a highlight as well.

What a special treat for our family, especially since we don’t have access to these kind of things in Cambodia. I love watching our children get so excited seeing everything. We love that we can visit special places while here for Ezra’s birth – it’s a special treat!

Ezra – Happy Week 1 & 2 Birthdays!

Photo taken when Ezra was 6 days old – on his due date.

Ezra (birth story will be coming sometime in the future) was born on Monday the 13th and we were at the hospital 3 nights. Thursday around lunch time we took a taxi back to the guesthouse we’re staying at while in Bangkok. The kids did great with Aunt Brooke – she spent one night with them and watched them while we were in the hospital and played with them for a few days afterwards. Brooke left to head back to Cambodia Saturday later afternoon. We’re thankful Brooke was able to come help us out.

Ezra’s first trip out was on his 1-week birthday – he got to go to his doctor’s appointment and to mine. Isaiah came along and was a big help. That night Ezra got out for the first time to see the big city. We celebrated his one week birthday by eating supper at  Sunrise Tacos (at a mall near us). Kids eat free on Monday!

During Ezra’s second week he/we went to church, the Free Children’s Museum, and rode the water taxi to go shopping. To celebrate Ezra’s 2-week birthday we had his Embassy appointment where he was granted his US citizenship! His passport will be read for pick-up on Friday. On the way to the Embassy we stopped and ate p&j sandwiches at a nearby park. That night we again took advantage of kids eating free at Sunrise Tacos.

  

By Ezra’s 2-week birthday his umbilical cord had fallen off and his circumcision wound was completely healed. So nice not to have to do extra cleaning or inspecting any more. This was the first time I was instructed at the hospital and by the pediatrician to do such extensive cleaning on an umbilical cord stub. The doctor had me pull it up and wash around it with alcohol and a cotton ball.

So our little man Ezra has done lots in his first two weeks! This boy is getting around. He usually shuts down when we’re out and about and then decides to stay up between 12-2am that night! Everyone continues to love holding Ezra…including Clara!

Baby #5 Update

I wrote this post about two weeks before Ezra’s due date and planned to post it on the 16th. But he came before that. 🙂

I haven’t posted many pictures of my baby belly. That’s mostly because I’ve been too busy to even take many pictures of this one. It’s been an interesting pregnancy, starting with the car accident and concussion recovery, which made 1st trimester much harder than normal. (These pictures were taken at 38 weeks.)

This pregnancy has seemed longer than the others. Maybe that’s because I’m past the “35” mark (I think that makes me an old pregnant lady). Maybe it’s because the concussion. Maybe it’s because the Braxton Hicks started way early (somewhere in the 20 week range). Maybe it’s because these last several weeks I’ve had lots of nerve related pain. All that to say – I’m ready for this little one to come on out!

I’ve had several people tell me that they are praying that I make it to the hospital this time. I’m not. I’m praying for a intervention, surgery-free birth. I’d be very happy to have a safe, home-birth like last time. It’s quite thrilling. I really don’t like hospitals and if I could have a bathroom baby again, I’d be thrilled. Actually, I don’t even feel like I know how to have a baby in the hospital, since none of our births have been normal.

So now we wait. We arrived in Thailand about three weeks ago, leaving several days earlier than planned due to the Cambodian election. It seems like the weeks leading up to our departure were over full, including a trip to Phnom Penh to take the 10-year driver’s license test. Then I spent hours preparing our house for our absence (putting away things to prevent mold and rat damage). When we finally arrived in Thailand, I felt like I’d done everything except prepared to have a baby. It actually felt like I’d left all that stuff at home! (Note – though I enjoy the break of coming to Thailand, I’ve struggled with not being grumpy about having to leave the country to have a baby – it’s a lot of work!). Lord-willing our little one will be born without complication and by then I’ll be ready. (Picture on the right is from May 27, 2018.)

Adding another child into the family is always an adjustment. I love children, but every time we do it I think, “what in the world was I thinking?!?” It’s not so much additional human being to take care of…it’s the responsibility of caring for another soul from birth. It’s the gift of training a child in the way he should go. Not an easy task. Thankful God does not leave us alone to do His work.

We recently went to IKEA in Bangkok. Bangkok is not known for families with multiple children, so we were quite a sight. People often stop and count our children and say “WOW!” And we’re thinking, this is normal, right? Guess Bangkok isn’t know who families with multiple (3+0 children)!

36 Years

Last month I celebrated my 36th birthday (note – this is second time I’ve been pregnant on my birthday. Most of our children have been born before my birthday). It was Friday and I had made plans to meet with my Jarai ladies at church to go over their lessons with them. It was the last time I would be meeting with them before heading to Thailand, and I told them I would try to get through as much of John 14, 15, and 16 as I could to leave them with enough material to cover their lessons while we were out of the country.

Ok, I’ll be honest…I did not want to spend my late afternoon teaching John in Khmer. I didn’t feel ready to tackle those chapters. I was still tired from our Phnom Penh trip. But I went. The kids were glad I was going, since it gave them a chance to decorate for my birthday meal. Josh dropped me off at church (I’m still not a good stick-shift driver, especially with a pregnant belly!) and I walked up to meet with the ladies. And there they were, preparing lots of different fruits for us to snack on. They had no idea it was my birthday, but they wanted something special for my last meeting with them before we headed to Thailand. I was so touched by their thoughtfulness and kindness. Our friends don’t have much. But they had spent their money buying fruit at the market. After we finished the lessons, we enjoyed the fruit together. When Josh and the kids came to pick me up, they joined us, and we stayed an extra hour eating fruit.

The kids did a great job decorating the house with streamers a friend had just sent. We had a lovely meal of grilled chicken kabobs, salad (minus the lettuce), and potatoes. Becca made cherry bars for dessert. Then the kids all gave me cards and gifts they had made. Josh had a special wooden cross candle holder made for our Passion Week celebration. I’m looking forward to using it.

So now I’m 36. Is this where I imagined myself as 36? Can’t answer that, since I’ve never really been the kind of person who pictures the future. I’ve been married 10 years to my man. We have 4 – almost 5 – children (one preemie C-section, one regular C-section, one surprise VBAC, and one bathroom baby). I’ve been living in Cambodia 4 years. I feel way out of touch with life in America. I’m not a very cautious mommy (I figure our kids do all this dangerous stuff when I’m not watching them outside, so why should I restrain them when I’m watching them?). And currently I’m dealing with the aches of being close to having our 5th child. Wow, zow – this one is a mover and shaker and seems to always be trying to punch a hole so he/she can escape. This little one knows just the nerves to put pressure on to make his/her mommy yelp.

36 years. And still lots to learn. Yards to grow. Tons to be sanctified. 36 years and thankful for the many gifts God blesses me with each day.

We Made it to Thailand! (2018)

Last Thursday afternoon we left our home in Oyadao and headed for Ban Lung to begin our trip to Thailand. Our plan was to have a good part of Thursday to close up our house and then drive to our team leaders’ house (45 mins away) to spend the night.

Friday morning (6:10), we left Ban Lung, stopped for breakfast at friends, and arrived in Siem Real around 2.

Saturday morning we left Siem Reap at 5:40am and arrived at the Thai boarder a little after 8am. Thankfully a friend wanted to borrow our car, so he dropped us off at the boarder. The kids were troopers and there wasn’t much boarder traffic at the exit and entry buildings. We made it to the Thailand side of the boarder in about 1.5 hours. We had pre-arranged a taxi van and we’re soon on our way to Bangkok. We arrived at our guesthouse in Bangkok around 2.

We’re very thankful for the smooth trip God provided us. Thankful we made it. And now to start thinking about having a baby…I mean, I’ve been kinda busy lately.

 

 

A Visit From the Farmers

Two days before we left for our Phnom Penh trip, our friends the Farmers came to visit with us. They also left Isa and Eden off with us to play with our kids. So, the girls got to join us for our time in Phnom Penh and watched the kids when we did our testing for our driver’s licenses.

Two weeks later Abi and Gloria came to spend several days with us. They were a great help playing with the kids while I got ready to travel to Thailand (packing and preparing our house). The girls brought lots of crafts for the kids to work on.

Today we start our journey to Thailand. We should arrive in Bangkok on Saturday.

10-Year Cambodian Driver’s Licenses

Last week we took a quick trip to Phnom Penh to get our 10-year Cambodian driver’s licenses. We were hoping to do this trip back in June (when our licenses expired), but were unable to because our passports were occupied getting 1-year visas. So…we’ve been in waiting mode until our passports were released from the visa office. Monday a week ago we got the call that our passports were available. We booked our seats on a taxi van (since we couldn’t drive) and headed down to Phnom Penh on Wednesday to attempt to get our licenses.

Cambodia offers a 1-year license based on your home-country license, which you have to go down and renew every year. This time we decided to try for the 10-year Cambodian license which requires a written test and a driving test. The written test was in English – but had many, many translation mistakes so we had to study lots of weird questions and answers (“how long does a healthy driver need?” “1 minute, 2 minutes, or 3 minutes.”)

We were planning on the process taking a few days, based on the experiences of other people we know. There is only one office where foreigners can apply for their 10-year license. This office also services Khmer and any foreinger applying for a 1-year license. Thankfully – by God’s grace – we were able to do everything in one day (it literally took us all day). Both Josh and I passed the tests and now have 10-year driver’s licenses.  We were able to pick them up last Friday.

We then spent a few extra days in Phnom Penh. We had two MKs with us for the week before we knew we were going to do this trip. They came along with us and were a great help watching our kids while we did all the driving tests. (We took Clara with us in the morning for the written test and left her with friends in the afternoon.)

Saturday we did some fun stuff: the girls got their toenails painted, we had pizza, and went to Swensens’s Ice Cream. Sunday we went to English-speaking church and we were able to visit with some friends. Of course, since we were in Phnom Penh we had sickness too. Isaiah jumped on a plastic toy at the guesthouse we were staying at and ended up getting a badly infected foot. Anna got a fever and was sick for two days. Thankfully all are better now. We traveled home on Monday and are now getting ready to head to Thailand in several days. This definiately wasn’t the schedule I was hoping on – but we know that we can trust God’s hand and timing. Life is an adventure!

Cambodia Olympics 2018

 

A few weeks ago while studying ancient Greece, we decided to hold our own Olympics. The kids each made their own flags to represent their countries (Becca – Unicorn Land, Isaiah – Zebra Land, Anna & Clara – Panda Land).

We had an opening and closing ceremony and had two days of events with medal ceremonies after each event (the kids made gold, silver, bronze, and “Clara” medals).

Celebrating Four Years in Cambodia on July 4th

July 4th marked our 4th year in Cambodia! So thankful for God’s steadfast faithfulness to us all during our past four years here. We’ve learned so much and have grown in so many ways. Thanks be to God!

We combined our anniversary celebration with our 4th of July celebration. We had hotdogs, potato salad, salad (minus the lettuce), and homemade hotdog rolls. When it got dark enough we went downstairs and enjoyed sparklers. Clara was very happy to sing Happy Birthday Cambodia….she did ok with changing to America!

Happy Father’s Day 2018

We’re all so thankful for Josh and the wonderful Daddy he is to our 4 (soon 5) children. Thankful he values our kids. Thankful for the time he spends with us. Thankful to parent with him. Thankful he’s my man to journey with when all our kids have flown.

Several days back I had a tea party with the kids. The girls all dressed up and Isaiah got to play with hair gel. Fun times!

I’ll close by posting a video of another Jarai Bible verse we worked on (Proverbs 22:6). Josh worked on the translation with several Jarai men and women and I wrote the tune. Thankful I get to train up children with him.

Romans 5:8 in Jarai

One of the things I love to do is write tunes for Bible verses to help Khmer and Jarai children memorize Scripture. So far we’ve put together 14 new verse songs and written two original Jarai songs. Anything I’ve done with Khmer is easy, since I just use a Khmer Bible translation. Anything we do in Jarai we translate first – Josh works with the Jarai Bible translators to translate the verse.

Above is our Jarai Romans 5:8, song by a group of young people who came to our house to learn the song.

2! 4! 6! 8!

Since Isaiah turned six this month, we now have 2, 4, 6, 8 in our home! Life is full of excitement! For Isaiah’s birthday, we bought sports outfits and had them lettered for our little team.

We’re in the midst of rainy season – which means…lots of rain and mud. They other day, during a sunny spell, some kids filled a pit with water and turned it into a mud pool. Anna came in before I got out to take pictures. Clara just watched, but had mud splattered on her. Lots of fun! I’m very thankful we have a washing machine!!

Happy 6th Birthday Isaiah!

Happy 6th Birthday to Isaiah! We started off his birthday week the Friday before with his birthday countdown calendar. One of the special activities on the calendar was making strawberry jello. After eating the jello, all our children declared it was yucky and that they didn’t like jello. I laughed.

 

This year Isaiah wanted a Land Cruiser cake modeled after our car. I’m not sure what happened, but with the heat and whatever I must have done with the frosting, it was hard to keep to frosting solid. This Mommy was very disappointed with how it turned out, however Isaiah thought it was great and I’m glad that’s what really matters.

As far as birthdays go, Isaiah is pretty easy to please. Josh and I decorated his door the night before his birthday. We took a break from school and did whatever fun activities Isaiah wanted to do. Josh took Isaiah out to breakfast. We did a special craft sent by a friend: masks for the girls and a pirate hate for Isaiah. Isaiah wanted tacos for supper with guacamole – a meal loved by all.

Isaiah got a basketball hoop for his birthday (the kind that hangs over the door). We put it up that night and everybody enjoyed making baskets – crazy, exciting times!

 

Two things Isaiah loves doing are climbing trees and making fires. He’s gotten really good at climbing high (sometimes it’s better for us not to watch). We’re really proud at how brave Isaiah has become in the past year.

Building fires is always fun. Recently we bought Isaiah a long lighter so he can burn the trash by himself. He’s also good at using a normal lighter. We can now send Isaiah out to burn the trash. So fun!

Isaiah loves math and seems to have a knack for figuring in things out. He recently figured out how to do basic division. He’s progressing nicely with his reading in All About Reading Level 1.

We’re thankful for the son God has gifted our family with. He is loved by all and is a good brother and plays well with others. He’s really hoping for a baby brother, but we’ll see. He always prays for two baby brothers and one baby sister. Happy Birthday, Isaiah! We love you!

 

Friends – The Carsons

Last Sunday, our friends the Carsons joined us for lunch. The Carsons are SIL missionaries working on the Tampuan Bible Translation. They come out our way every Sunday to meet with a Tampuan church. Both Andrew and Tanuja have been an encouragement to Josh and me: Andrew to Josh with his years of experience in Bible translation, and Tanuja in the ways she’s always checks up on how I’m doing.

Our children especially enjoy playing with the three Carson girls, who have always been very kind to our kids. We all had an enjoyable time, so much so that by the time the Carsons left it was time for dinner. The Carsons leave in a few weeks for a year back in their home country. We’ll miss our interactions with them.

A Week Without Daddy

Last week Josh was away at the Pastor’s Bible School in Ban Lung for five and a half days, from Sunday afternoon until Friday evening. We’re thankful for the smooth week we had without him (minus the toilet getting backed up from an accidental discarded spoon going down it). Each of the three old children got to have a special sleep-over with me on the nights Josh was away (I took Monday and Thursday nights off).

Each child got to plan his/her special evening. Becca wanted to do mineral face masks and play Monopoly. Anna wanted to paint our toenails, eat popcorn, and read books. Isaiah wanted to make a number chart on the computer, drink decaf coffee (we added whipped cream and Hershey’s chocolate syrup0, and read books. Clara didn’t need a special sleep-over, as she got up every morning before 5:30 (sometimes before 5!) to spend extra time with me. It was a busy and full week!

I’m just a sinner trying to point other little sinners to love Jesus…

I love being a mommy – each life we’ve been given is a gift and is full of blessings. Joy. Laughter. Love. There are only a few things I value more than the gift of motherhood. But I’ll be honest…it’s not all joy, love, and laughter. Being a mommy is one of the toughest jobs I have. Why? Because I’m just a sinner saved by Jesus trying to lead other little sinners to know and love Jesus.

Yeah. Motherhood would be easy, if I were sinless. If I consistently loved like Jesus. If I didn’t want my love-tank to be filled by my children saying what a wonderful mommy I am. If I always returned good for evil. If I didn’t struggle with anger, impatience, selfishness, and pride (to name a few of my sins). If I didn’t have thoughts like how can you treat me like this after all I’ve done for you ALL day?!? If I didn’t struggle with those I just want to have fun with you – not disciple you thoughts.

I tell our children all the time, Mommy is just a sinner like you, trying to learn to be like Jesus…I just know how to sin in culturally acceptable ways and don’t throw fits. I speaking these words is important. It’s important for our children to know that I – Mommy – know I’m a sinner and that I need Jesus’ help just like they do. One reason is because I desire someday as adults, our children feel comfortable joining me in that journey of fighting sin and becoming more like Jesus. So someday when our daughters struggle as adults with anger, impatience, selfishness, and pride they don’t feel like they have a mom who doesn’t get it. No – she’s been there all along – a sinner trying to be more like Jesus and failing plenty of times. I want them to know that we are all in this battle together and that we can be more than conquerors through Jesus Christ our Lord.

I need Jesus. Everyday I fail and sin. Living with children 24/7 prevents me from deceiving myself into thinking I’m ok. When I preach to my children – I’m preaching to myself (wow – I can give some pretty convicting sermons!). I’m a sinner, saved by Jesus, and I desperately need His help everyday to fight my flesh.

Motherhood is a wonderful gift. We all love and cherish our children. But maybe one of the most important gifts it gives us is another opportunity to see how sinful we are and how desperately we need Jesus to help us turn from our sin and cling to Him.

Anna’s New Bike

Last week Anna got a new big bike as a reward for quitting her night-time thumb sucking. We’re so proud of her! Anna was thrilled to ride her new bike and it’s so fun to watch her. The bike came with a cushioned seat in the back, a basket, and a bell – everything that Anna wanted.

Last week we also had a young sparrow visit us for several hours. His nest had fallen from a tree and some kids brought him to our house. He was quite friendly and loved sitting on Becca’s shoulder. After a night of rest, he flew out the window and we haven’t seen him since then.

Visa Trip to Laos 2018

This week we took a quick trip to Laos to change our Cambodian visa type. The Laos border is about 4 hours from our home and it was the easiest way to leave Cambodia and reenter to obtain new visas. This was our first time to Laos and since we had to buy Laos visas we decided to spend a full day in the country.

Both the first (Monday) and third (Wednesday) days of our three day trip were taken up with travel and crossing the border. On the way to Laos we ran several errands in Ban Lung and had lunch with our team members in Stung Treng. It took us over an hour to cross the border and then we had over a 2 hour drive to Pakse, Laos. We arrived after dark. Our hotel was right along the Mekong River.

Tuesday was our fun day without any border crossing. In the morning Josh and Clara walked around the hotel and had coffee, while everyone else slept in until 7. We had a great breakfast at our hotel and headed out to see some waterfalls in the area. The first was neat to see, but we couldn’t get very close.

The second waterfall was more kid-friendly and the kids enjoyed climbing behind the waterfall with Josh and riding a raft up to the falls.  After a very late lunch, we enjoyed the hotel pool until we took baths ( the kids loved having a real bathtub!), ate supper in our room, and ended the evening with watching Toby Tyler (an old Disney movie I enjoyed as a kid).

On our way back to Cambodia, we were delayed over two hours at the border. Border crossings take time, especially with multiple kids. However on the Cambodian side of the border we ran into a snag when the officials didn’t want to issue us the new (NGO) type of visa, since our old visas don’t run out until August. The reason we were doing this early is because our other option for getting the new type of visa was to wait until we were in Thailand for the birth of our new baby. That would require us to wait for the baby’s passport number before we could start the initial paperwork and could possibly keep us in Thailand 5+ weeks after the baby is born. It took quite some time to explain that we needed to make the change now, but finally the officials agreed. Thanks be to God.

We arrived home Wednesday night after dark. We’re so thankful for the safety God gave us on our travels and for the success in getting our new visas.  We’re thankful for the extra vacation day we could have as a family enjoying doing fun things without errands or other things to take care of. Thanks be to God.