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That time we almost died… part 2

Again… sitting here as Hurricane Harvey has been making landfall, and I’m thinking of some of the crazy situations we’ve been in in our lives.  And this one just happens to have taken place in the Philippines…

So three years ago while we were teaching in China, Trent and I went on holiday to the Philippines.  We started on the island of Palawan- we rented a motorcycle and explored the island that way.  It was awesome.  I kind of felt like Che Guevara in The Motorcycle Diaries!

 

moto

Our sweet ride

 

The countryside was absolutely breathtaking and we enjoyed seeing the mountains and the ocean and all the flowers and greenery.  scenery2

But that wasn’t all!  Between the vast expanses of untouched nature, we passed rice paddies, innumerable goats, basketball courts, schools and churches, and oh, so many friendly faces!!!

Oh, and did I mention water buffalo?!?!?  Yeah, like a million water buffalo.  In fact, for anyone who’s ever seen Veggie Tales… remember that episode of “Silly songs with Larry?”  Yeah, want to know what song was rolling through my head for almost the entirety of our trip?  You guessed it, “Everyone’s got a water buffalo!”  (if you haven’t seen it, look it up on YouTube before proceeding any further)

Okay, where was I… oh geesh, I digress.  Oh yeah, harrowing water experiences!  So we made it through most of our trip without incident.  We spent a lovely 2 days in El Nido, followed by a trip to Port Barton and then the final leg on that island… Sabang!  This is where we were going to see one of the new 7th wonders of Nature: The Subterranean River National Park.  It is considered one of the seven wonders right alongside the Amazon Rainforest/River, Jeju Island in South Korea, Komodo Island in Indonesia, Halong Bay in Vietnam, Table Mountain in South Africa and Iguazu Park in Argentina/Brazil.  It is an underground river more than 24 km long and boasts amazing limestone formations, impressive stalactites and stalagmites, and one of the largest cave domes in the world!  I was pretty psyched for this final stop before heading back to Puerto Princesa and moving on to Boracay.

However, the moment we left Port Barton, it started raining.  It rained and it rained, and it rained!  Thankfully, most of the dirt roads were at the beginning of this trip and we didn’t get caught in any terrible mud.  Anyways, we tried to cover our things as best as we could.  We donned our flimsy ponchos and helmets and hoped for the best!  It was supposed to be a three hour drive… but with the rain it took much longer.  We took things slowly to make sure we were safe.  cover up

We finally arrived and, although it shouldn’t have surprised us, we were saddened to find out that the park had closed because of the typhoon that was making landfall that day. In fact, they told us that another boat that morning had capsized, full of tourists!  That was enough for Trent to say- “forget it!  Let’s go!” Even so, I had still hoped we’d be able to do it.

puerto princesa

We stopped anyways to give our tired bums a rest and to get something to eat.  We wandered the beach for a few minutes and watched the dark, angry sky and the waves that crashed against the shore.  The red flag was up, meaning that it was a high hazard day, so we didn’t venture far.

beachcrazy weatherWe ended up stopping at one of the only little restaurant there and eating a quick lunch before heading back out on the road to get back to Puerto Princesa.  Our flight didn’t leave until the next day, but we didn’t want to be caught in the storm on our motorcycle without shelter!

sign

We continued on in the COLD, wet rain for a few more hours, stopping only occasionally for respite from the beating rain and freezing cold before arriving back in Puerto Princesa.

We quickly found a hotel for the night and started to strip down and unpack everything.  Although we had made an effort to cover what we had… I think EVERY. SINGLE. THING we owned was SOAKED (including our souvenirs from Vietnam on the earlier part of the trip).  This also meant that we didn’t have any dry clothes.  Not only that, but this particular hotel didn’t really have hot water for the shower, so we went from cold rain to cold shower to… nakedness.  We wrapped up in a towel and tried to get warm under the blankets (aka sheets) as best we could.  We laid out clothes and hung things wherever we could so that they could begin to dry.

drying everything out

We took to using a hair dryer to dry clothes and even to dry my Bible.  It had gotten soaked during the trip and I LOVE that Bible… it has YEARS worth of notes, thoughts and cross-references in it and I wasn’t about to let it die.  So I sat there on the bed, carefully blow-drying each individual page until the whole book was dry.  However, blow drying has the same effect on paper as it does on your hair… volume!!!  My Bible just about doubled in size!

Anyways, since the typhoon was coming, the next day’s air travel did NOT go as planned.  We arrived early in the morning for our flight, which got delayed (but not too bad) before we got to Manila (to go anywhere in the Philippines, you have to fly through Manila).

flightairport

But in Manila (where the typhoon was NOT an issue), we were delayed… and delayed… and finally cancelled.  There were no more flights going to Boracay Island that night.  So we were rerouted to Kalibo, another airport that was about a 2 hour bus ride away.  We arrived there around 8pm and then got on the bus (which the airline paid for, thankfully).  After a long, winding trip, we arrived at the port that would take us across the water to Boracay Island.  However, now it was not only dark (around 11pm), but the wind and the waves were CRAZY.

We walked out and watched our ship bob up and down and lurch left and right… and the ramp that was connecting the pier to the ship was swaying violently back and forth.  Trent and I looked at each other freaking out.  Was this a good idea?  Was this rickety little boat even going to make it across?  Would we die out here?!?  But on the other hand, where else would we go?  It was late at night and we had no idea what was around us… so we just decided to roll with it (quite literally).  Clutching our bags for dear life, we crossed over on that crazy ramp and got into the swaying boat.  Thankfully there were life jackets!  That made me feel a little bit better.  But after I already fell as I was walking to my seat (and another gentleman fell as well), I wasn’t super confident.  They weren’t even real seats… just benches that weren’t even secured to the boat!  Ay-yi-y!  Moments like these just make me pray harder… and that’s exactly what I did!  I prayed hard that God would get us to Boracay Island safely and that this little boat and it’s crew would be able to maneuver us on the crazy waves to get us there!

 

boat to boracay

Although this picture doesn’t capture the swelling of the waves, I promise it was CRAZY!

 

Long story short… we made it!  After that we still needed to take a rickshaw to our hostel, but we survived!  The next few days were crazy, windy and rainy, but we still very much enjoyed our time on Boracay Island.

crazy windWe didn’t let this damper our experience, we just let it be what it was, and wouldn’t you know… now it’s turned into a story.

Have you ever been caught in a typhoon?

 

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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That one time we almost died…

So as Hurricane Harvey is quickly approaching the southern Texas region, I have been reminded of several harrowing near-death water experiences that Trenton and I have shared.  So I figured, what better time to tell the stories than now (after the statute of limitations has expired)!

So, many moons ago, before Trent and I were even married, some mutual friends of ours invited us to go camping with them down by the Guadalupe River.  Of course, we decided to go.  So I borrowed my roommate’s tent, we packed a cooler, and headed down to the river.

We had a nice afternoon floating the Guadalupe, although as we were finishing, it started to sprinkle.  It continued to sprinkle on and off for a while thereafter.

It let up enough for us to cook dinner over the fire, and then it really let loose!  The heavens opened up and it POURED!!!  For hours and hours, we were all confined to our tents drowned out by the pounding of the rain, the peals of thunder and flashes of lightning.

We didn’t think much of it at first, after all, we’ve camped in the rain before… it gets a little messy and it proves to be a bit inconvenient, but it’s no big deal overall.  But as it continued to rain throughout the night, none of us could sleep!  The thunder was SO loud and the lightning was constant and we were actually scared.  We were surrounded by big trees and I kept envisioning one of them getting struck by lightning and falling on us.  That’d be a sad way to go:

Angie Settle (formerly): crushed by tree.  RIP…

Thankfully it didn’t happen that way.  It got later and later, but none of us could sleep.  Around 3am we were still up listening to the storm rage around us and were debating between ourselves whether we should stay in our tent or move to the car.  We quickly decided on the latter.  Although it wouldn’t offer superior protection if a tree fell on us, it had to be better than a tent!  We weren’t in the car for more than 10 minutes (listening to the weather) when a police car pulled up with it’s spotlight pointed at us.  Over the loudspeaker, the woman officer told us in no uncertain terms, “Leave or you could die.”  She said that a flash flood was going to be sweeping through the area, not to grab anything, but just to get in your cars and get to higher ground.  So… we listened!  We left everything where it was, and Trent and I (in our car) and Ana and Will (in hers) left.

By now it was getting closer to 5 in the morning.  We were hungry again.  Trent and I found a Denny’s that was open, so we stopped in for breakfast.  We ate and chatted, all the while the rain still pounded away.  We decided just to go back home and come back for all of our stuff later the next day.  So Trent dropped me off at my house and he went to his and we called it a day.

It wasn’t until later that we heard that not an hour after we left, a 20 foot swell had come through our campground, wiping away EVERYTHING that was there.  Ana and Will made it back before we did and texted us pictures of the campsite (or what was left of it).  There were picnic tables stuck in the tops of trees, there were scraps of tents and all sorts of other debris everywhere and there was nothing, I mean NOTHING left of what we brought.  Our tents, food, coolers, and all the equipment that we had was gone.  Where our tents had once been, there was a flipped over trailer that washed up from an RV park 500 yards up river (bottom left photo). One person even lost their life.  Scary stuff!!!  That could have been us had we chosen not to heed advice and high tail it outta there.  We are so thankful that we made it out alive!  Things can always be replaced, but people can’t!

PicMonkey Collagedestruction23

Ironically, before we stopped for breakfast, we had to fill up the car with gas.  The gas station we stopped at had some Bibles there.  Trent just happened to find one he really liked- the Living Water Bible… it’s the Bible he still uses to this day.  And it serves as a constant reminder for us to be thankful for God’s protection and provision over our lives!  It causes us to remember that our God is powerful and our God is faithful.  To this day, I am so thankful that that police officer came through and warned us, otherwise we all would have been swept away!  Not being from here (or from anywhere where flash floods are an issue), I had NO IDEA how dangerous they could be!  Lesson learned.  I now know what flash floods are and I know not to mess with them!

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Posted by on August 27, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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The best purchase we EVER made (…in China)

So, when we first arrived in China (four years ago now), we were in for many cultural shocks.  For example, nobody waits in lines, having to learn how to use “squatty potties,” figuring out the hard way that apartments don’t have ovens (despite the perception that they’re there… they are in fact, dish sanitizers…), having to use a VPN for any sort of social media/Google site (and shoddy internet at best)… Oh, the list could go on forever!

However, one of the most pressing issues (literally) was the beds.  The Chinese believe that sleeping on hard beds is good for their health, therefore nearly EVERY single bed in China (hotels included) have hard beds.  It was quite an adjustment trying to sleep in these hard beds in our hotel (before we found our apartment) AND trying to sleep enough to recover from jet-lag.

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Despite it’s appearance, this bed was rock hard!

For some reason we thought that once we got to an apartment, things would get better.  And for some reason our hotel bed experience didn’t give us pause to test the beds when we were apartment hunting… Anyways, we finally found the apartment of our (then) dreams (it got even better the second year) and moved in.  By this time, school had started and we were in full-swing preparing for the school year.  This meant long hours sitting in front of a computer building a classroom website, planning out our curriculum, and long hours of standing/climbing/kneeling preparing a classroom for a year of use!  We spent LONG, LONG, LONG hours at our school that first month or so that we were there.  And we’d go home DOG TIRED!!!  But then, trying to sleep was next to impossible.  It was like sleeping on a hard wood table.  Even though there was “padding,” it was essentially the equivalent of placing a cloth over a table.  We have a video somewhere of Trent knocking on our bed… it’s like someone is knocking on your door!  Needless to say, it did NOT make for good sleep.

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I mean, seriously!!!  Look at how skinny that mattress is!!!!!

When the first week of school (with students) was underway, I mentioned to our then P.E. coach that we weren’t sleeping at night and it was NOT helping with my attitude or energy to be able to work with 4 and 5 year olds during the day, he mentioned to me that many expats buy a mattress from this company out of Beijing called Slumber MAAX.  Immediately, we started looking into it.  We found that their mattresses were pretty decently priced (about $800 USD), especially considering that they were entirely made of memory foam.  AND, even better, Mike told us that we could use some of our $2,000 USD “settlement allowance” given to us by the school to purchase it (or rather, be reimbursed for it).  We literally ordered it THAT NIGHT!  Even paying for the shipping ($22 bucks USD) and an official fapiao (receipt in order to be reimbursed- $35 USD) were minimal costs  in the scheme of things.

However, we still had to survive in the meantime.  I am a side-sleeper, so I was actually getting bruises and sores on my shoulder and hip from sleeping that way.  Trent and I decided to get creative.  We ended up taking the cushions from our living room sofa and placing them on the bed at night.  It was still awkward, because they tended to separate right at the shoulder and hip, but it was still better than nothing!  We had tried adding extra comforters, sleeping on top of the comforter… anything else we could think of to add some extra comfort.

 

desperate times

Desperate times call for desperate measures!

tada

Ta-Da!  This was (sort-of) better!

Then that magical day arrived… after a short wait (2-4 business days), this small Chinese man arrived with this RIDICULOUSLY large, King-sized mattress, all rolled up in this big, HEAVY roll.  Trent went out to meet him to show him to our apartment (since we didn’t know how to direct them up in Chinese) and ended up helping this poor, tiny man carry it up our stairs.  Of course, as they were carrying it, the packaging started bursting open, so it started expanding before it even made it to our door.  Finally, the guys lugged it all the way up and into our bedroom!  We cut the remaining plastic packaging and let it expand!

 

It was literally like the angels sang!  And the rest is history… I actually don’t think we’ll EVER have as nice a bed OR mattress ever again (at least not for that price)!  We could set a glass of wine on that bad boy and it wouldn’t even budge.  Neither of us felt the other one toss or turn or get up.  It offered great support and truly, it was a Godsend.  I’m not sure we would have made it through that first year (let alone stayed for a second) if it wasn’t for Slumber MAAX.

For anyone planning on staying long-term in China… we absolutely recommend them!!!

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

The Jedidiah-ries (Diaries)- months 13-15

month by month2

Gosh, time flies.  I think that each time I sit down to write these posts.  Jedidiah grows and changes so much each month that I can’t barely get it all down!  And once I’ve gotten it all down… I forget to publish it.  Like this post nearly 4 months later…

Here’s my feeble attempt at summarizing these three months.

General Observations:  In the past three months he has come so far!  He has learned how to dance (I think being around his cousins helped)- at church he loves to go up and twirl around with his hands raised in praise! It is one of the most beautiful sights!

Jedidiah has developed an affinity for small spaces.  He loves to crawl in and just hang out!

He loves animals and can identify MANY different ones (Where is the ___________?).  He knows cat, dog, horse, cow, sheep, pig, chicken, zebra, bird, gorilla, tiger, elephant, giraffe, camel, donkey, monkey, snake, and fish.  Jedidiah also attempts to make some animal noises and does “roar” (albeit timidly) and “neigh.”

identifying animals

Our son has developed a love for books and reading, and sometimes when he’s quiet, I’ll go in his room to see what he’s up to and low and behold, there he is with his Bible in his lap!  It’s the most precious thing!

bible

But he’s pretty content to read just about anywhere!

He’s also started using the potty.  We weren’t full-on potty training but we did know that he usually had to pee in the morning, so we put him on the potty just to see what would happen.  We were successful more than not, and we thought that he was starting to understand the correlation between having to go potty and actually USING the potty.  We’re definitely not there yet, but we did have a break-through moment the other day when he went in and sat on his potty in his clothes.  I asked him if he needed to go potty and so I undressed him and put him on the toilet, and he went pee pee!  SUCCESS!!!  Now if we can just make this a HABIT!

potty

Jedidiah’s daddy made him a little “chill” box with some pillows and a blanket and he really enjoyed going in there to “relax.”  He liked to sit in there and eat his puffs!

box

He has since upgraded to a real couch of his own, compliments of his Nana!

chair

Body awareness: The kid knows most of his body parts and has taken a particular interest lately as to eyebrows and nostrils.  He LOVES to stick his fingers up our noses!  It’s gross, but he won’t be deterred.  He’s just super curious!  He can identify most facial features, toes, and hands in Spanish as well.  🙂

Jedidiah is also very helpful when he’s getting dressed.  I tell him “arms up” and he puts them up, I ask for his feet or hands or legs and he’s quick to respond.

Communication: His communication is improving daily and he is very good about “telling” us what he needs.  He is signing more and now signs for “eat” as well as for “milk,” “more” and “all done.”  We’re still working on “please” and “water.”

Jedidiah understands so much of what we tell him and he is quick to respond to commands.  “Please put that back,” “close that,” “open that,” “pick that up,” “give that to momma,” “go get your shoes…” which reminds me of a funny story.  We were over at Trent’s parents house and we were getting ready to leave.  I told Jedidiah to go get his shoes.  One shoe was VERY prominently sitting RIGHT in front of us on the coffee table and of course, we expected him to grab it and bring it right to us.  Instead he wandered off and we all thought, “Oh, well, he didn’t understand,” when much to our chagrin, he comes back around the corner with his OTHER shoe… Lord knows where it was!  But HE sure did!  And he absolutely knew what we were asking of him.  He can understand SO much of what we tell him!  It’s AMAZING!!!

Likes: BASKETBALL!!!  Goodness, he loves this game!  He’s so his momma’s boy!  *For the record, daddy loves b-ball too*  He can see a basketball or basketball hoop or basketball game from across the room and he gets SOOO excited about it!  I have one shirt in particular that I liked to wear when it was colder outside- it’s our team shirts from when we coached basketball in China, but every time I wear it, Jedidiah is constantly pointing to it!  One evening we went out to Momma Margie’s (a Mexican restaurant) and we sat down in a booth that just happened to have a basketball game going on right above it… the kid was in HEAVEN!  I think that was the most leisurely meal we’ve ever had out at a restaurant (at least since he’s been mobile).  He just sat there and WATCHED.  It was amazing.  He loves looking at basketballs in magazines- we spent nearly half an hour one morning going through a Tim Duncan tribute magazine.  Every page we turned he’d point to the ball.  We also spent a little bit of time visiting daddy at work.  He had to finish up his lunch duty so we joined him in the gymnasium (which is also their cafeteria).  The second we walked in, Jedidiah started “air-shooting” at each of the hoops that was up.  It was amazing to watch (he’s got great form too!).  It was like he was working on his shot the whole time!  The kids found that pretty entertaining (daddy and I did too).  He also has a basketball hoop outside that he loves to play with.

He is also still enthralled with the kitty cat!  He lights up any time he sees him and of course, chases after him shrieking with delight, which, in turn, sends the kitty cat running off, scared of the kid.  Jedidiah is really gentle with him though and the kitty cat will let him pet him if Trent or I are close by.  Jedidiah hasn’t quite grasped that the kitty cat doesn’t like to play with balls.  And since he’s always carrying one, he wants to throw it TO the kitty.  Despite having explained it time and time again, he simply doesn’t understand that the kitty doesn’t want to play with him.  Another cute thing he does is feed the cat.  He loves to give the kitty cat some food.  I let him dump the scoop of food in the kitty bowl, but he really wants to FEED the kitty.  He’ll pick up one little piece of cat food and walk after the cat trying to get him to eat it out of his hands.  I try to explain that one to him too… but someday he’ll get it.  The cat has a few holes that he can squeeze under to get underneath our fence and anytime he runs off, Jedidiah stands by the hole and squats “calling” for the kitty to come back.  It’s so cute to watch (and kind of sad too).  For now, the two of them are buddies but the cat is smart and keeps a safe distance from him!

Other than that, he still loves being outside and as always, he loves his acorns.  The best way to be out and about on a walk is to have at least one in each hand!

acorns2Another thing that keeps us laughing is this little game he loves to play when he gets in the car.  He just peeks around the car seat at Trent or myself and laughs and laughs.  He’ll hide, then pop up.  We’ll hide and then pop up.  It brings lots of giggles!

car games

Milestones and Memorable Moments:

13th month:

  • We celebrated our bubba’s FIRST BIRTHDAY!!!  I can’t believe it!  Eventually I’d like to write a post about how that went (he basically cried the whole time), but we still enjoyed the time with family and friends and were thankful that so many people joined us to celebrate our little guy turning one!jedis-birthday-party
  • We had a cake smash on his first birthday, and although it didn’t quite go as planned, we all had a good time!  You can check that post out if you’d like to read more.cake-smash
  • He said “horse” and whinnied like a horse (or at least tried to).  I had been watching Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman (I LOVE that show) and it’s staged in the old west, so there were a bunch of horses running and Jedidiah got really excited and at first I didn’t know why, and then I realized what he was saying!  Horse!!!
  • He got to go in a real train at a birthday party we attended for a friend of ours!
  • He started to stab his own food with his fork.
  • Jedidiah started turning off the lights by himself!
  • During our family Thanksgiving, a TV box somehow turned into a nearly vertical climb.  Jedidiah and his cousin were walking up it.  It was pretty impressive because it was at such a steep angle!  At first Jedidiah just did it on his hands and feet, then he started walking up it straight up!  This kid is like a monkey!climbing-box
  • One morning while we were eating breakfast, Jedidiah handed me the other bib that was sitting next to him and made it clear that I was supposed to put it on.  He then fed me banana chunks!  He’s too funny!feed-me
  • Daddy made this little box we had into a cozy little spot for Jedidiah- he just threw in a blanket and a few throw pillows and voila!  A perfect little hang out spot for our bubba!box
  • When we go grocery shopping at HEB, they give these little things called “Buddy Bucks” to the kids.  They get to put them into a machine and hit a button to earn points towards cool prizes.  Now Jedidiah is SO excited when he sees the machine!  Sometimes I have to remind him to be patient in the check out line and that we have to pay first before we can play.  But he LOVES to put the little dollar bills in and smack that button!buddy-bucks
  • He signed “thank you” and said “off.”
  • We usually have a cabinet lock on our cabinets under the kitchen sink, but Jedidiah had been playing with it the day before.  Anyways, Trent yelled to ask me where it was and I yelled back (from the bathroom) that Jedidiah had been playing with it and that it was in our room by the pillows.  Shortly thereafter, I heard the pitter-patter of little feet running down the hallway, and low and behold, what did he come back with… the cabinet lock!  He somehow gathered all of that from “cabinet,” “room,” and “pillows.”  Amazing!!!
  • He started giving mommy kisses!
  • Of course, we visited daddy at work!daddys work
  • Jedi has started to turn around backwards and back up into our laps to sit down.  It’s super sweet.  He loves to get a book and then back up and sit down in our laps to read.  One night it was hilarious, he grabbed a book and then turned around and proceeded to back up half-way across the room before he actually got to our laps!
  • Jedidiah “cleans” on command.  We gave him a washcloth and then asked him to clean and he would get down and rub the floor!  He really does mimic what he sees!
  • He started growling like a dinosaur or other animals (tiger, lion, bear…)
  • He helped mommy bake cookies for daddy’s work, our small group gathering and to bring home to my family on our visit!baking

14th month:

  • He kissed daddy for the first time!  We’re pretty sure it was the beard, but Jedi wasn’t big on kissing Trent.  He’d get close and then shy away, but again… the beard.  Finally he’s gotten past that and is giving his daddy sweet kisses too!
  • He tried to put his stocking cap back on.  He gets it ON his head, just not OVER it!  It was very entertaining to watch him try though!hat-on
  • His Popo taught him how to roll a ball.  One night he simply learned and then remembered!  He’s been doing it ever since!
  • He started to sign “Milk.”
  • He had been playing in my bathroom stuff and had pulled down a container of hair stuff out of my drawer.  He kept trying to put the hair binder in his hair!  It’s so amazing what they pick up on without you even noticing! So I obliged him and gave him his first ponytail!
  • When I got a boo-boo, he came and kissed it!  Be still, my heart!!!
  • Speaking of kisses, he spent one entire car ride practicing blowing kisses to himself in the mirror!
  • He also comes to me if he gets a boo boo for kisses.
  • He started smelling things- like his feet and plants.smelling
  • He blew bubbles in the tub!  We’ve been trying to get him to do that for months!  Like ever since he was 6 months old!
  • New words this month were “kiss,” “feet,” and “fish.”
  • Jedidiah got to play with his cousin (and trade food with her, give her water and her pacifier, and give her sweet kisses and hugs) and we got to spend a lot of time together as a family.
  • Jedidiah got to experience snow… and go sledding!

…And spend some time with his great grandparents!

15th month:

  • Jedidiah prays before meals with us and finally started doing what we call “praying hands.”  They don’t last very long, but we try to make our prayers pretty short so that it works out.  It’s really precious.  He does it at meal time and when we read his little prayer book before he goes to bed.praying-hands
  • He learned how to turn the lights ON! (off was much easier)
  • He can now reach door knobs (although he can’t open the doors just yet)
  • Jedidiah can climb up in a chair and turn himself around to sit down by himself (smaller chairs)chair
  • Jedi got three more teeth this month!  Two upper molars and one more bottom tooth popped through, bringing his grand total to 9 teeth now.
  • He started sleeping longer during the day!  There were a few times I got nearly 2 hours in the afternoon!!!  It hasn’t been consistently this way, but he is stretching out his naps to 45-50 minutes as opposed to the 30 they were before.
  • He goes down slides sitting up now.  Before he would climb up but not know how to turn himself back around to sit up going down, so he would just go down face first (small slides), but now he can climb up, reposition himself in a sitting position and then slide down.
  • We had cornered off a section of our yard using a trellis that we tipped on it’s side.  It had worked to keep him out of that area for a while, but alas, no longer.  We knew it wouldn’t be a long-term solution, but he’s figured out how to simply crawl right through (and he often tries to climb over it as well)crawling-over
  • One day I was outside raking these pesky berries that we have in our yard, and once I had my piles I raked them on to a trash can lid to carry to the composter.  Well… several weeks later, I was weeding and making piles of these, once again, pesky sticky weeds.  Jedidiah brought me the trash can lid!  It was amazing to me that he not only remembered what I had used it for (since the two events were weeks apart), but that he was thoughtful enough to try to help me!
  • Jedidiah got a little bubble-blowing lawn mower from his Nana that he absolutely loves to push around our yard!dsc_0845
  • Jedi has finally begun to figure out how to put the correct shapes through the lid of one of his toys.  For the longest time he would just take the top off and throw the shapes in the bucket, but now not only has he figured out that they are supposed to go through the top, he’s experimenting and exploring which shapes go where.

Events:

13th month:

  • Jedidiah and daddy came to cheer me on in New Braunfels as I ran my fourth half-marathon!  It made my day to see my two boys waving to me as I rounded that last corner!  🙂
  • Unfortunately we attended a funeral in Austin for a dear friend’s mother.  Jedidiah and I were happy to make the trip to support our friends Heather and Zach during this tough time and to celebrate Shelly’s life!  We let off balloons in her honor.shelly
  • We went to our local holiday parade.parade
  • We visited Morgan’s Wonderland with Jedidiah’s grandparents and Aunt Katey, Uncle Nathan and his cousins!  He got to ride on his first ferris wheel and second carousel!  He also got to “drive” the cars.  🙂  He LOVED that!

  • We went to see cousin Cohen’s winter performance at his school.  Jedidiah really enjoyed being around the bigger kids and exploring the classroom!
  • Many of you have read about DeVoir Fitness studio in some of my older posts.  This is where I did Zumba for the majority of my pregnancy (at least once we got back from China).  Anyways, they had a holiday party, so I made sure that Jedidiah and I stopped by to see all the ladies!!!devoir

14th month:

  • Jedi joined mommy and daddy to go bring some supplies to the homeless on Christmas morning.homeless
  • We got to visit a stable and see the horsies up close and personal!  Jedidiah really liked them from far away, but was much more nervous up close.  He did pet them though!

horse

  • We visited Austin (twice) and met up with some good friends from China (again).  We were able to have lunch with Rachel, Nicole, AND Eunice!  What a blessing to still be able to be in touch with them!Rachel
  • Jedidiah had his first experience with the Rainforest Café when we were in Dallas.  We were able to have dinner with some good friends there before flying to MN.rainforest-cafe
  • We flew to Minnesota shortly after the holidays and spent a week with my family.  It was a wonderful trip!plane-ride
  • We finally ventured to the McKenna Children’s Museum in New Braunfels.  It is so cool and had so much for Jedidiah to do.  He just wanted to run around for the most part, but I can see him really enjoying it more as he gets a little bit older.

15th month:

  • We participated in the Martin Luther King Jr. Walk right here in San Antonio.  It is one of the biggest walks in the country and it happens every MLK Jr. Day.  Last year about this time, Jedidiah was only a few months old and I remember that it was going to be a yucky day outside, so we opted not to go then.  But this year we braved the mist and uncertain weather with some good friends of ours and I’m really glad we did.  We definitely want Jedidiah to grow up as an advocate for justice and equality for ALL people.
  • Trent and I took Jedidiah to two of the San Antonio missions one Saturday afternoon.  We visited Mission San Jose and Mission Concepcion, had a picnic lunch and enjoyed the beautiful day!
  • February was the month of the Superbowl and we were lucky enough to be able to attend two different Superbowl parties! superbowl-party
  • We went to the Asian Festival downtown to welcome in the year of the rooster!
  • Since spending our time in China and Asia, we’ve taken to celebrating the lunar new year as well!  It’s been fun to get Jedidiah all dressed up in his official “China gear” and participate in these events!  Unfortunately, I don’t think he will get too many more wears out of this precious relic!
  • We were invited to attend a free night at the DoSeum (the children’s museum in San Antonio) as part of a special event to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Parent Infant Program at the Sunshine Cottage School for Deaf Children.  A good friend of ours has a daughter who is hearing impaired- she’s one of Jedidiah’s buddies!  She and her husband invited us and another good friend and her daughter along.  We had a great time exploring the museum and playing with each other!

    Jedidiah and I went to the Snake Farm for the first time! For those who don’t know, the Snake Farm is like a mini zoo just outside of San Antonio.  We went with our good friends Vanessa and Elizabeth.  They have a petting zoo and everything!  Jedi really liked feeding the animals!  He did really good until the llama stole the entire food bag and ran off with it.

    We went to a mini Star Wars Comic-con/rodeo day at the Wonderland of the Americas.  We saw notices for it in a Facebook ad for fun, free things to do with kids on the weekend.  Well, we like Star Wars… and we like the rodeo, so we decided to give it a try!  We donned our Star Wars gear and headed out.  We enjoyed the rodeo part the most- there was a petting zoo and Jedidiah even got to ride his first pony!  He loved that!!!  Inside, there were booths selling Star Wars stuff, but there were also several people in costume.  One of which was Chewbacca.  We decided to try to get a shot of the boys together and we discovered… Jedi is TERRIFIED of Chewy.  No amount of reasoning could calm him down and the poor kid looked over his shoulder for the rest of the time there!

    Last, but not least, a day before he turned 15 months, we celebrated Valentine’s Day.  I did a mini photo shoot for Trent so that he’d have some cute photos to put up at work.  Here are two of my faves!

  • He also made this cute LOVE print at the library.  ❤library

    There is likely stuff I’ve forgotten to write down or record here, as we have been busy (as always), but we are so very thankful for this little boy and the JOY he brings to our lives on a daily basis!!!

     

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

My first attempt at unleavened bread

passover meal

So this year one of the things I wanted to try to do was to learn more about the 7 feast days of YHWH.  I learned last year a lot of things that were unpleasant (to say the least) about the feasts that the church has chosen to celebrate (mainly Easter and Christmas) and we as a family have chosen to go away from those holidays.  However, in learning about those two holidays and where they came from, I was also confronted with the feast days of the Lord and I was faced with a conundrum.  Why does the church not celebrate the feast days of YHWH, but they do celebrate the feast days instituted by man (or the Catholic church).  Why are following traditions steeped in paganism and idolatry when we should be following God’s statutes and commandments?

Well, this year I was ready to do something different.  This is our first year as a family celebrating the feasts of YHWH!

The first feast this year is Unleavened Bread, which begins the night of Passover.

In preparing for this feast, I literally got rid of anything leavened in my home (and I still find things now and again that I missed) and I made matzo for the first time!  Now Passover in and of itself is not a required feast, but it is supposed to happen in memoriam of the Israelite exodus from Egypt so many years ago.  There are many Jewish traditions that go along with Passover, but not being Jewish (and again, most of those traditions were instituted by rabbis AFTER Jesus lived and died), we decided just to go with a simple dinner while reading the age-old Exodus story.  I made some delicious vegan stew (thanks to a delicious recipe that I found on the teambeachbody blog!) and unleavened bread and we read the story of hard-hearted Pharaoh and the 10 plagues that YHWH sent against Egypt and their false gods.  We read about their desperate need for a Passover lamb and the blood that covered, saved and protected them that night.  And finally, we saw the fear and uncertainty of the Israelites as they fled Egypt turn into victory and triumph as they crossed the Red Sea and ventured towards the promised land.

Now Passover is simply the beginning of the first of 7 feasts: the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  We read about this feast in Exodus 12:15-20, where it says:

‘Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses; for whoever eats anything leavened from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. ‘On the first day you shall have a holy assembly, and another holy assembly on the seventh day; no work at all shall be done on them, except what must be eaten by every person, that alone may be prepared by you. ‘You shall also observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt; therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as a permanent ordinance.

Each time I read this, I am struck by that last line… “you shall observe this day throughout your generations as a permanent ordinance…”  So why aren’t we observing it?  Permanent means like, forever, right?  I’ve heard many arguments saying that because Yeshua was our Passover lamb (which I don’t in the least dispute), that we no longer have to celebrate the feasts, but I would posit that BECAUSE Yeshua was our Passover lamb, we SHOULD celebrate the feasts.  They are that much more relevant and important to us now that they have been fulfilled than they were even to the Israelites at that time!  They had to use the blood of an ACTUAL lamb to physically save them that night.  We have the blood of the LAMB OF GOD that covers us spiritually and that has defeated sin and death and will allow YHWH’s punishment to PASS OVER us for all eternity.  The Israelites were slaves in Egypt; we were slaves to sin.  The Hebrews were in a hurry to leave Egypt, and I feel that same urgency today, awaiting Yeshua’s impending return!  They were led by a pillar of cloud and fire as they fled; we have the Holy Spirit living INSIDE of us to lead and guide us every single day.  They had an enemy in hot pursuit of them, just as our enemy is out to steal, kill and destroy God’s chosen people.

feast days

Anyways, to celebrate this feast of Unleavened Bread, well… we needed unleavened bread!  So here is a recipe that I found that we really liked!  Jedidiah helped me with the first batch too.  Here it is!

Angelina de Leon’s Matzo (from The New York Times Passover Cookbook)

  • 2 Cups white flour
  • 1/2 Tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Eggs
  • 3 Tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 Tablespoons water

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine the flour and pepper.  (This is the part Jedi helped me with- measuring and mixing!)

Stir together the eggs, honey, oil and water.

wet ingredients

Pour the wet mixture over the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Then turn the dough out onto a countertop and knead it until it forms a cohesive ball.

dough

Divide the dough into 6 portions (we did a few more than that).

balls

Roll them out into 8 inch rounds.  Then prick them all over with a fork , then place them onto a very lightly greased baking sheet.

lotsa motsa

Bake matzo for 10 minutes, until crisp and golden.  Let cool completely on a rack.

The whole family enjoyed this recipe, which is good, because we ate it for the full 7 days of this feast!  Here are some pics of us enjoying our matzo.

matzo

Thanks for reading!  Happy feast days to you!

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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An anniversary surprise

weddingSIX years!  My husband Trent and I have been married for SIX years!  I don’t know where all the time went!  It feels like we’ve been married forever, yet in some senses six years feels like it’s just beginning!  We’ve had so many adventures together, traveled the world, and shared lots of love and laughter.

A few weeks before our anniversary, I was feeling my annual “spring cleaning” bug coming on.  I began purging our closets, organizing, rearranging, and cleaning things out. One of the things that I came across that was taking up a lot of unnecessary space was my wedding dress!  That beautiful dress I wore on the most amazing day of my life that made me feel like a princess, finally getting to marry my prince.  That dress that I paid $200 dollars for David’s Bridal to clean and preserve in a pretty box for me to keep for all eternity… or not.  As I was in my “get rid of everything” state, the wedding dress that I have only looked at a number of times in the past 6 years fell pretty high on the list of things to go.

dress preserved

Lucky for me my anniversary was coming up!  I began to devise a plan.  My sister and brother-in-law were going to be in town and would be here with us on our anniversary day, so we hadn’t made any major plans to celebrate.  We wanted to spend the day with them!  Combine that with the fact that we are on a very tight budget and voila!  A plan was hatched!

We live in the same area where we got married.  The BBQ joint down the road catered our wedding, the ceremony took place in a church next door, we took photos on the nearby train tracks, etc… so fast forward to our anniversary.  I had already run this plan by my sister to see if they would be on board, and, graciously, she was more than willing to help.

The morning came and I actually had time to curl my hair and do my makeup (which is a rarity these days).  The baby was awake WAYYYYY early, so I got up with him and let my hubby sleep.  Then when Jedidiah went down for a nap, I had some time to get myself ready.

We all went to church together that morning and then after that, we decided to go to Harmon’s BBQ for lunch (cue: stroll down memory lane, item #1).  Then we went out for ice cream afterwards at a new local venue… because, well, who doesn’t want to eat ice cream on a special day?!?

 

 

Harmons3

Who wants more BBQ?!?  Me, me!!!

 

After that we came home and put the babies down for their naps.  While they were napping, my husband and brother-in-law were working outside.  My curls had already fallen, so I desperately tried to save my hair (to be honest, I don’t really know what I’m doing when it comes to these kinds of things).  It was pretty much a flop (both literally and figuratively), so I ended up putting it up after all.  Afterwards, my sister helped me get into my dress.  Despite being a *bit* wrinkly, it still fit!!!  (Thank you Beachbody!!!!!)  Then she ran outside to tell Trent that I had a “surprise” for him (her words, not mine).  Honestly, I felt kind of silly, being in my wedding dress again and I wasn’t at all sure what my husband would think, but we were at the point of no return- it was too late to go back!

Trent opened up the bedroom door and looked at me, at first with confusion, and then with awe in his face and tears in his eyes.  It was so much like our “first look” so many years ago.

first lookfirst look2faveOf course, this time, the plan needed some explaining.  So I told him to put on his suit so that we could go out and recreate some of our wedding photos.

While he was getting dressed, my sister took me outside for a few solo pics.

before25

And one of us together before we left.

3

We hopped in the car and drove down the road to our destinations.  We knew that we’d have to be pretty quick to get the photos done before the babies woke back up!  In hindsight, I should have pulled up the original photos so that we could have tried to do the exact same poses, but we were going solely from memory, so some of them aren’t quite the same.  It was fun anyways!  Here are some of the comparisons- our actual wedding day is on the left, and the recreations are on the right:

kiss on the trackslooking awaytracks forward

jumping2

As we were shooting, a train was in the far distance.  We had taken some pretty awesome photos with the train on our actual wedding day, so we attempted (in our very amateur photographer way) to recreate those.train behind usjumping train

We moved from the train tracks to the church…

churchdipAnyways, not 15 minutes into our mini photo shoot, my brother-in-law texted to let us know that Jedidiah (our baby) was awake.  So we wrapped it up and headed back home.

We also wanted to take a few photos WITH our little guy.  So when we got home, we dressed him in his little suit as well.  This… THIS is what 6 years looks like for us.  We went from a giddy, romantic, deeply in love couple to a giddy, romantic, deeply in love couple WITH our son!  What a wonderful blessing he is!  *of course, he wouldn’t smile in any of the photos we had of us all together… so… we had to work with what we got*

Anyways, we ended up taking a few more shots at Trent’s parents house, where we went to pass the rest of the evening eating pizza and enjoying the hot tub!  Here are some of my absolute faves!

parents yard

And thankfully, we were able to get some good family shots!

family shot by

Last, but not least, we added some fun “flair” to the occasion.  I wore my cowgirl boots and Trent rocked his Darth Vader socks.  🙂

1

What a fun and memorable way to celebrate our anniversary!!!  Six years and counting…

***A special thanks to my sister for helping out so much with this “plan” and for being our impromptu photographer!  We love you!!!***

 

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Getting rid of weeds

getting rid of weedsSo, it’s pretty much Spring here in Texas (we rarely have much of a “winter”) and so the trees are starting to bud, the flowers are beginning to bloom… and the WEEDS are painstakingly flourishing!

My toddler loves being outside (a boy after his momma’s heart) and so nearly every day, rain or shine, we go outside to play!  One afternoon we were out there and I noticed this big patch of weeds in our flower bed.  Now, normally, I wouldn’t be so bothered by them, but we had these same weeds last year and they were obnoxious!  They were sticky, interconnected and spread… well, like weeds.

Now, I could have just gone for some quick-fix chemical solution, however, my young son and my kitty cat are outside in the yard all the time, which meant, for me, chemicals were NOT an option (Not to mention all the adverse side effects and health problems they can cause).  So for as long as Jedidiah would allow me, I’d sit and pull them up.  By hand.  I worked for a good hour that first day, my son brought me my water bottle and my phone and I only had to stop a few times when he needed help with something.  Anyways, after that first day, I began noticing these weeds EVERYWHERE!  They were all over the yard, in our garden plots, even in our car port.  So, for the rest of that week and these past few weeks, I have been pulling up weeds nearly every day!

I let my mind just wander as I pulled them up.  It was almost… lest I say… relaxing (In the same sense that running can be relaxing).  You can just let your mind be blank, you don’t have to focus on anything major, you can just allow yourself to be lost in your own thoughts.  You can simply quiet your spirit and pray… or in this case, listen.  And here is what I have realized.

Weeds are very much like sin.  God is very much like our gardener.  The yard is very much like our life.  It was as if God spoke to my spirit as I sat there day after day, tending to my yard giving me these illustrations of life.

You see, I didn’t notice the weeds right away.  It took a while, until they were actually quite overgrown, in order for me to take notice.  Sin is very much the same way.  Little sins creep into our lives quite easily and often go unnoticed or undetected until all of a sudden, our “little” sins have grown quite substantially and gotten out of control.

Throughout those days I would spend my afternoons carefully going from section to section in my yard, tackling small chunks at a time.  I tried to be super thorough, getting up as much as I could.  And as soon as I would feel confident with one section, I would move on to the next… except that only a few days later, I would return to those sections that I already weeded and, much to my dismay, they would have those same dang sticky weeds back!  Frustrated, I would stoop down to pull them up.  But, even this, I realized, is very much how sin works in our lives.  We think we’ve eradicated it (in an area or two), and then we try to tackle a different sin… but sometimes it just keeps popping right back up.

Another thing I’ve learned about weeds is that if you don’t pull them up by the root, they will come right back… just like sin.  Sometimes we think we are “handling” our sin, but if our Gardener, by his Holy Spirit, isn’t the one pulling it up by the ROOTS, it isn’t going to disappear from our lives.

I noticed many different kinds of weeds in our yard over the course of these few weeks- sticky weeds, prickly weeds, pretty weeds and tough weeds.  Each of these can also serve as an illustration of sin.

Some weeds, like sin, are “sticky” and interconnected (just like those blasted weeds that were EVERYWHERE), often leading or spring-boarding into other sins.  Often times we get into them without even intending to or sometimes without even realizing it!  Pride can be like this, self-sufficiency, good works (with selfish intentions), lies, etc.  Sometimes they can even take the form of “good” things that we get into but that slowly take priority in our lives and “spread” in influence, taking the place of our relationship with our creator.

sticky weeds

Some sins, like the prickly weeds, are obvious and we know that we should stay away from them because they can obviously hurt us or others.  These could be things like addiction, pornography, infidelity, murder, stealing, etc.

Others, like the pretty flowering weeds, look appealing and attractive, but still take over our lives and bring death in the end.  Money, power, sex, lust, partying, etc. would be examples of these. pretty weeds

Some are shallow and easy to pull up- they are obvious and easy to reach… and then there are the tough weeds have the deepest roots and these are the HARDEST ones to pull up!  I actually have callouses on my finger from pulling up so many of them!  These are those deeply-rooted sins in our lives, sometimes going back even to our childhood.  These are the sins that may have developed into strongholds in our lives.  These are the ones that the gardener has to take special caution with and that are much harder to deal with.  They can also be painful to pull up (Yes, I was pulling all these weeds without gloves on… ouch.  Lesson learned.)

But the best thing that he showed me is this.  After I would pull the weeds up, I’d put them in piles all over our yard- on the sidewalk, on our stepping stones, on the lawn chairs, on our yard swing… anywhere but on the ground where I feared they would take root once again!  After just a day in the sun, they were dried up and posed no greater threat.  They were DEAD.  In the same way, in the light of God’s son, Yahushua HaMashiach (Jesus), sin CANNOT live.  Righteousness has already been imparted to us through HIS finished work on the cross.  And being in his very presence causes sin to die in our lives as we continue to die to ourselves and live in obedience to him.  Being in the Son’s presence makes everything else just simply fade away.  Nothing but his love remains.  Hallelujah!  Now THAT is some good news!

I’m so thankful that we have a Gardener who is much more patient than I am.  A Gardener who wants the best for his children, a Gardener who takes time to gently prune and tenderly uproot the undesirable things in our lives.  One who wants us to flourish and grow in faith and be BEAUTIFUL from the inside out, always pointing to His glory!  YHWH slowly sanctifies us, weeding out the bad, and allows us to produce the fruits of the Spirit so that when others look at us, they see the glory of HIM!

What needs to be uprooted in YOUR life?

flourish

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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