Tuesday, May 26, 2009

You, a runner? Hah!

I had to laugh. I went for a run during my lunch break today (probably around 4.5 miles) wearing a shirt I had received from a 5k I had run a couple years ago. I don't consider myself a great or natural runner. However, I also don't consider myself a wimpy runner. Lo and behold, a guy passes me today with a t-shirt from a 5o mile run he had participated in. He probably passed me and smirked as he saw the 5k emblazoned on my t-shirt. "Loser" may have even passed through his mind. While I did run one marathon, I can tell you that in my opinion a continent separates 26.2 miles and 50 miles. I chortled out loud as he passed, and, I continued to run.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

Today we give thanks for all of the men and women who have fought for our country and died in sacrifice for our freedom. We continue to give thanks for the brave men and women who continue to serve. We lift up their families in prayer. For, it is no small thing to give up a spouse, a mom or a dad to go abroad to fight for our freedom or to live in constant service to our nation ready to go and defend her freedom without a moment's notice. It is a job that is often lonely, thankless and taken-for-granted. Today we thank you. We also remember all of the men and women who have been sacrificed without ever seeing the light of day: those who have been aborted. God, please give our country the grace to realize that it is killing off generations through the attrocity, not "choice," of abortion. There is no choice, no freedom in killing the unborn. We love you, dear brothers and sisters.


I'm asking You God, to give me what You have left.
Give me those things which others never ask of You.
I don't ask You for rest, or tranquility.
Not that of the spirit, the body, or the mind.
I don't ask You for wealth, or success, or even health.
All those things are asked of You so much Lord,
that you can't have any left to give.
Give me instead Lord what You have left.
Give me what others don't want.
I want uncertainty and doubt.
I want torment and battle.
And I ask that You give them to me now and forever Lord,
so I can be sure to always have them,
because I won't always have the strength to ask again.
But give me also the courage, the energy,
and the spirit to face them.

I ask You these things Lord,
because I can't ask them of myself.

(Written in today's Magnificat Meditation of the Day)

Thankfully, we have been given life and freedom, and so we are able to live in peace and travel without any worry. Today we are celebrating our freedom together as a family. We woke up to a beautiful day. After enjoying a delicious crepe breakfast, we traveled to the river-lined Belmont Bay. We enjoyed the sunshine and the gorgeous scenery of trees, boats, the Occoquan River, and blue herons soaring above. God is so good to bless us with beauty. Thank you, Lord.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Day at the Park

There is an awesome park nearby. It was designed by 5th graders, so it is right up a kid's alley with tunnels and bridges, a tire swing, and plenty of swings to accommodate a lot of kids at one time. We headed there the other day and had a great time swinging, eating our packed lunch, soaking up the sunshine, playing in the sand box, balancing on the rubber rope, and taking in the gentle breezes from the 60+-degree weather. These are some fun times, Girlies. Thanks for sharing your times with me.

A Fun Day Together

As we prepare for going abroad there are a bunch of steps leading up to the final goal: working and living abroad in an embassy. What is my favorite part about these preparations is the fact that we get to take so many steps together, as a family. A couple of days ago we headed downtown for our medical clearances. Afterwards we got to share our picnic lunch with Daddy in DC (Maddy calls it "Daddy's City"--DC. I think we better let the urban planners know that there has been a change to the meaning behind 'DC.') It was a beautiful day on the lawns near the Jefferson Memorial. Maddy absolutely loves playing with balls and frisbees ("spisbees"), so she and Caleb got some frisbee-throwing and hide-and-seek in before he had to head back to the office. We had a fun afternoon together; one step closer to your dream, Sweets, and one more day growing closer together.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Just You and I

Pita, you and I were in the car together yesterday visiting. It was so enjoyable having you on my lap in the driver's seat. You love that. You love to be where it all is happening, and that is the spot to see it all. Your big sister was in her car seat asleep. You both had been troopers in the back seat while I traveled to 5 different homes checking them out from the road before we went to walk through various later that evening. I love you, Sweets. You are spunky and curious, and oh how you love to walk. You have tasted something excited, and you are not willing to sit back. You are our "Ra-Ra Girl."

A White Skirt, Painted Hands= A Painter's Delight

Yesterday Madge was back at her easel painting away. This time she was painting turtles and lots of other things. At the end I painted her hands for her "signature" painting, and then she got to do her own painting of the hands. When I painted her hands she said, "That feels nice!" What a ball we had. A sign of your precise painting skills, Madge, were obvious in that there were no paint splatters on my white skirt. Nice work, Beauty Queen. I love you.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Read My Lips: C-L-O-U-D

Here is a funny video of Maddy telling me how she says the word "cloud." She was painting clouds this day. Love you, Madge.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Family Vacation in Texas

We had a marvelous vacation in Texas. We spent the week in Dallas and Houston. In Dallas we enjoyed visiting with Matt & Sayeda, and Amy, Abdullah and Nadia. In Houston, I attended a conference during the week. Mary and the girls joined me later in the week.

Enjoy the photos!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Pawpaw and Madge

Last night, I was holding Madge in the kitchen when she noticed the family photos on the wall. For whatever reason, she screwed up her eyes on Pawpaw. I was about to set her down on the ground. She told me that she wanted to stay in my arms so that she could "talk to Pawpaw in the picture." She stayed in my arms for a few more minutes and stared intently at Pawpaw in the photo. Madge loves you, Pawpaw!

The Little Things of Everyday

Dear Madge and Pita,

The two of you are growing by leaps and bounds everyday. The nuance of spending so much time with you is that the gradual changes are seamless, indeed sometimes unnoticeable. Nevertheless, whenever I am able to take a step back, I marvel at all the little changes I see in you.

  1. This morning as I was leaving for work, you used the idiom "all of a sudden" a few times in our dialogue. It was priceless to hear you use that phrase so expertly. (I think you became cognizant of how proud I was of you--you gave me that cheeky, gleeful smile!)
  2. Mom told me last night that during the day you were using complex sentence structures. Not just "if"..."then", but with multiple scenarios played out, depending on the circumstances. I laughed as she said that you were now really a little diplomat.
  3. Over the past week, you have been really cute in using your words to express yourself. Your vocabulary is expansive. Yet, you forget sometimes the word for certain things. When that happens, you say: What is the name for that? As you say this, you're pointing to some object or else you will describe it. "Mom, what's the name for that little, red berry...oh, yeah, cranberry."
  1. You took your first steps last week. It was adorable how you would walk to Mom or me. A couple days ago, you started to take steps all on your own...towards one of your toys! So neat to see you using your new skills. Sorry, no numchuck, bowhunting, or computer hacking skills for you yet.
  2. You also enjoy crawling over to Mom and me to use us to stand up. Then you walk around holding onto our pants or skirt. Adorable.
  3. A couple days ago, I was teaching Madge how to hold your hand to help you walk. It was really cute to see the two of you walking around the house holding hands, all by yourselves. Madge is such a good sister to you as she let you "lead the dance."
  4. Finally, you are already a multi-tasker. You enjoy pushing objects as you crawl around the house. However, you don't just push one object. The other day I saw you pushing two balls and a doll and a toy. You would roll one ball a few feet forward, then another, then grab a toy, and then the doll. You made laps around the house, bringing all the objects with you each step of the way. Classic, Babe. Classic.
So proud of my girlies. My love for you grows each day. Thanks for giving me the joy of being your dad. Keep up all the good work.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

How do you say "decaffeinated coffee" in Mandarin?

This evening, Mares, you brewed some decaf coffee as you were preparing our delicious dinner. This simple act took me back.... Just about this time three years ago, we were living in Beijing. You were seven months pregnant. You had a hankering for coffee...decaf coffee, since you were preggers. I began asking Chinese friends and coworkers how to say "decaffeinated coffee" in Mandarin. They didn't know--the word was foreign to them and the concept paradoxical. I spoke with a number of expats until I finally found one who knew the magical words. That was only the first half of the battle. After that, we went through probably a half dozen stores until we found one in the basement of Jia-li zhong-xin. That became our decaf coffee depot. I remember you sitting back with your cute belly and a cup of Chinese decaf coffee in our apartment.

Let's have many more cups together, shall we? I love you. I love our life together....coffee and all! Love, CO

Monday, May 4, 2009

Her New "Feet"

It is true Pita is on the go, solo. On April 30th (a day before my bet was set that she would walk alone) Pita took 6 steps all by herself. Again she was at it tonight. Brilliant. I love watching her little toes grab the floor to steady herself. Adorable. Pita, we are proud of you. How often you and your big sister teach us that although we are physically able to go much faster than you, we must always take baby steps with full trust in the One leading us, and always be dependent on Him for the times we fall and give ourselves bumps and bruises. He is always picking us up guiding us to where we should be. We are excited to guide you on your beginning steps, but always remember that it is His path that counts. We hope we can always guide you there.

The Best Times Are My Days With You

My girls, I enjoyed another wonderful day with you. Nope, we didn't attend any special function or run around town. No, we just trotted throughout the rooms of our home. We didn't leave except to pick Daddy up after work. And you know what? We had the best day. We made Mother's Day cards. We made soup. We made French bread. We did it all, together. Madge, you were in charge of cutting little pieces for the flowers for our cards. And, how could I forget your excellent job controlling that glue stick? Awesome job and listening. I was proud of you. Pita, once again you were our jolly dolly, romping around and inspecting everything around us. Thank you, Lord, for my two delights. Life, I believe, really is about the little things and the little people. Your grace is ever present through the most ordinary occurrences, and for that I give You thanks.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Sweet Bedtime Words

I just put Madge to bed. We said our night prayers, I sang to Madge our nightly songs, and then I laid her in bed. Just as I was about to leave, she asked something that she asks some nights. She asks: "Lay with me? Just one minute?" I climbed into bed, and told her that I would love to lay with her." As I laid beside her, she put her little right arm around my neck. Oh, how I love you, Madge. You know how to get to our hearts by asking the simplest things.

New Budding Begins

Pita got her 7th tooth just this past week. It seems as though Pita keeps doing some new big girl thing as soon as we blink our eyes. Her little tooth is just on her lower right side, next to the two front teeth. It is making its way through her gums at a very fast pace. This is the same way all the rest came through fast! Since the beginning of March until now, seven teeth have arrived. What a trooper she has been. We love you, Sweet Girl. When you read this, you can look back and see that your big sister Madge went through the same thing. Growth can be a pain, but whether physical or spiritual, growth brings us to new heights (sometimes literally).