Monday, December 29, 2008

What's Been Making Me Smile

  • Receiving a much anticipated package! (chocolate chips, yummy smelling bath things, 2 kitchen timers, puzzles, and, best of all, York peppermint patties and cheesecake!
  • Having my oven back to almost normal. I can bake again, yay!
  • Today someone paid me a compliment. They said I was patient.
  • Christmas service at church today. Place was packed!
  • Only 2 more months till SINGAPORE!!!
  • Being chosen to share God's love in Mongolia
  • Winning the "longest eyelashes" competition at our leaders Christmas party. Not hard to do in Mongolia.
  • Having a thoughtful, loving husband who washes dishes without complaining.
  • Talking with friends long into the night
  • My Scumble River Mysteries... Thank you again and again, Lydia!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

I Got Cabin Fever

It's seems like forever since I've written anything of substance on this blog. The lack of time combined with my seeming inability to concentrate on anything these days is definitely to blame. I have been thinking a lot about things and reflecting on everything and nothing at the same time. My brain is constantly on the go.

There are times when I go to write but things just don't flow as easily as they used to. I don't know if it's temporary or what. I do want to write and let some of this built-up pressure out. But at the same time I feel myself wanting to ignore everything and everyone in hopes that it'll all go away.

It's not that my life is terrible. On the contrary, I am quite happy. I just wish I had more time to reflect and write creatively.

Before I became a mom, I had no idea I would be this tired all the time. I'm feeling better, physically, than I was at this time last year. But mentally, I'm more exhausted than ever. The thing that bothers me the most is not being able to have time to myself to think. I sit down to read the Bible, make a grocery list or write a blog entry, and each time, without fail, one of the kids will come and just start talking or ask me for something.

Now, my kids are pretty considerate. They usually understand that they shouldn't interrupt when Mommy needs a quiet time in my room or at the computer. But it's the break in the continuum that makes me unable to concentrate or form my thoughts.

I know I sound terrible. I also know I'm not the only mom who has misplaced an important piece of paper while her brain was racing about something she had to do, all the while listening halfheartedly to the mind numbing chatter of a 4 year-old. It happens to the best of us.

Here's a perfect example that just took place a minute ago:

Me: Abi do you want some banana bread?
Abi: No
I go back to he computer to finish my post and no sooner had I sat down with my slice when Abi says, "I guess I do want some banana bread." I gave her my slice and chided her for changing her mind. But that's what 4 year-old girls do.

I comfort myself by remembering that it's just my season in life. The prognosis for recovery from this type of brain damage is good, I've heard. (I also hear, however, that the changes to your hair color are permanent.)

My feelings of frustration are no doubt exacerbated by the Mongolian winter. I hate winter. Did I tell you I hate winter? Because, I hate winter. I have been here for 10 winters so far and they just keep getting colder and colder and darker and darker. I wake up around 6 am to the moon and pitch black darkness outside. The sun doesn't come up for another 2 hours or so then it starts to set again around 5 pm. There's a heavy blanket of dreary tiresomeness around my shoulders from December to March and try as I might, I just can't shake it. It gets me every year. I wish I were a goose. I'd fly south for the winter.

Well, Somebody needs more banana bread so I'd better get moving.

Oh, did I mention I hate winter?

Follow The Bunny Trail...

And witness THE cutest little bunny EVER!

(that means you're supposed to click on the above sentence.)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!



Wishing you the best, all the way from snow-covered Darkhan, Mongolia!

Hetee, Melanie, Nate, Abi, and Kenny

Friday, December 19, 2008

I Sign Up To Teach English...

And the next thing you know... well, here I am!

Pictured here, besides myself are my fellow teachers and teammates. I could tell you their names but I'm having trouble figuring out how to spell them in English right now. =)

We had a great time playing volleyball and basketball last weekend despite the fact that we lost. We managed to win our first volleyball and then later, basketball games, but then it was downhill after that.

Taking a bow ("We who are about to die salute you!" haha)

Our school played against 6 other companies that are under our "Mongol Alt" company. The women and men played separately but some of the women we played against might as well have been men. They were tough! I hit the floor really hard once during basketball and got some bad bruises on my knees. My arms are also scratched and bruised. A few times I got rammed for no good reason-- I didn't even have the ball. They really took me as a serious threat which is funny because the only reason they did that is because I'm tall, not because I can play ball. I've decided that before I can play them again I need to bulk up and develop a butt (yeah, like that'll ever happen to a Kocke) so I can ram them back.

Gandig, the computer teacher, and her mad serve! She rocked!

Our cheerleader, Sweet Abigail. ("Thank you for my coloring books, Aunt Shelly!")

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sledding!




What's Been Making Me Smile

  • Being invited to represent my school in volleyball and basketball tournaments tomorrow. (We won our practice game today! My right wrist is swollen and blue but I don't care!)
  • Watching Tom and Jerry with the kids
  • Advent
  • My hubby fixing the computer
  • Alone time with Nate
  • Sewing days at Mom's
  • Abi and her new skirts (thanks mom for making skirts in the middle of winter just because Abi asked you to)
  • Chocolate cake
  • Sled rides (although I'm usually on the pulling end)
  • Molly's purring
  • More snow. Beautiful, whiter than white snow!
What's been making you smile?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Oooo, Classy! (And Kind Of Weird)

You Are a Katharine!



You are a Katharine -- "I am happy and open to new things"

Katharines are energetic, lively, and optimistic. They want to contribute to the world.

How to Get Along with Me
  • * Give me companionship, affection, and freedom.
  • * Engage with me in stimulating conversation and laughter.
  • * Appreciate my grand visions and listen to my stories.
  • * Don't try to change my style. Accept me the way I am.
  • * Be responsible for youself. I dislike clingy or needy people.
  • * Don't tell me what to do.

What I Like About Being a Katharine
  • * being optimistic and not letting life's troubles get me down
  • * being spontaneous and free-spirited
  • * being outspoken and outrageous. It's part of the fun.
  • * being generous and trying to make the world a better place
  • * having the guts to take risks and to try exciting adventures
  • * having such varied interests and abilities

What's Hard About Being a Katharine
  • * not having enough time to do all the things I want
  • * not completing things I start
  • * not being able to profit from the benefits that come from specializing; not making a commitment to a career
  • * having a tendency to be ungrounded; getting lost in plans or fantasies
  • * feeling confined when I'm in a one-to-one relationship

Katharines as Children Often
  • * are action oriented and adventuresome
  • * drum up excitement
  • * prefer being with other children to being alone
  • * finesse their way around adults
  • * dream of the freedom they'll have when they grow up

Katharines as Parents
  • * are often enthusiastic and generous
  • * want their children to be exposed to many adventures in life
  • * may be too busy with their own activities to be attentive

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

School Days

Nate:
Nate is finishing up his 3rd month of first grade. He's started going for the full day, which is from 9:00 am until 3:40 pm. Up until about a month ago he was only going half a day but with Hetee and I both working more (more about that later), the full day schedule and having the bus bring him home works out better for all of us.

At first, it took Nate a while to get accustomed to the food they served at lunch--all Mongolian fare which he wasn't very accustomed to before. A snack from home helps tide him over when he absolutely cannot eat. He's doing much better now, and a few of the teachers told me that he's eating more and more. Other than the food, he seems to be enjoying the afternoon schedule of art, sports, computer, music and dance.

I was curious to see how his language would evolve after being in a Mongolian environment for most of the day. His Mongolian has improved and he recently passed his first reading test. His Mongolian "j", "ch" and "z" all sound the same though. No big deal. One thing I've noticed is that he switches back and forth from English to Mongolian when talking to me or Hetee. He never used to do that. It doesn't bother me. After living here for 10 years I switch back and forth, too!

Nate's English reading has picked up, even though we have not been formally studying English due to the longer days at school. Last night he and Hetee went grocery shopping and Nate read the entire list-- about 20 words-- and found the items himself. It's amazing to me to see how he pushes himself to read and spell. He truly is a determined boy!

Abi:
Abi and I are doing preschool every other day or so. She goes with me practically everywhere, even to my English classes sometimes. She's super smart and catches on very quickly. She loves to color and is always coloring something to give to someone. She memorizes things easily and is always quoting some silly line to a silly movie. I really want to focus on more Bible verse memorization with her (somebody hold me accountable!)

Me:
I am still teaching once a week, grades 2-5, all in one day. It's a challenge but I find that if I'm well prepared, they won't eat my alive. The second graders are a real challenge. Lively songs and games go a long way with them. Third grade is a little better. Fourth and 5th grades are my favorite because I feel like I am making progress with them.

I talked to my director the other day and asked him for some feedback. Most Mongolians are not good at positive feedback and I was feeling like I wasn't doing a good job. He told me that I was doing great and that the parents of my students were very satisfied with my work. That was nice to hear after 3 months of wondering and feeling like I wasn't making much of a difference.

The other English teacher, a Mongolian woman named Uyangaa, and I have started putting together an English library for the students. I have donated several books and she has bought some, too. We could still use more books if anyone out there wants to help. Even just a few books would make a huge difference and open up a new world for these kids. Let me know!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Mama's Back Online!

The kids linger longer in the bathtub and the kitchen floor needs to be swept. Bedtime is pushed up 30 minutes 'cause MAMA'S BACK ONLINE!!!

Yes, Hetee finally got a few hours to take the computer apart and get the things he needed to fix it. We "borrowed" the motherboard from an unused computer that was at our church office and it works! The computer is working! And my husband is my HERO, once again.

Thanks for praying, y'all!

Now I have got to go get Abi out of the tub. She's turning into a prune!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Argh! Thump! Thump! Thump!

That's the sound of me banging my head against the wall because OUR COMPUTER HAS CROAKED! Big time, like not coming back from the dead any time. Ever. Dead.

And, I wasn't able to try loading the pictures in my previous posts (that took over 3 hours to load in the first place, so that's where my frustrations began) . So I will un-post them for now and try to load things later. Or just forget about it all together. It's not like me to let something like this go so pray for deliverance, y'all.

I almost cried when Hetee called the time of death of our almost 7 year-old one and only computer. It was 8:45 pm and what a dreary atmosphere it was. Only half joking.

I'm at the house of one of my g12 ladies right now, using their computer and internet.

I am trying to remain calm and trust God. He gave us this computer and He can certainly give us another one. It's just that this is not something I wanted to see happen right at Christmas time.

Please pray for us to get a new one, and fast. In the meantime, you can still email us but just expect a 2 or 3 day delay in receiving an answer as we'll have to get out of the house to email. I have access to internet at my school, where I teach, and Hetee can email and message from the church office. It'll work for the time being.

Until next time, have a wonderful holiday season!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Poll Results

And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, the moment you've all been waiting for (Or at least that's what I tell myself. Maybe you don't care but I hope that I can at least make your day a little more interesting!) :

The moment of truth!!!

So...

  1. Contrary to what a whopping 2 people think, I HAVE eaten iguana. I was about 7 years old and we lived in Huajuapan de Leon, Oaxaca. Some of my dad's cop friends had killed one and cooked it in mole rojo. It was good wrapped in a tortilla.
  2. 9 people will be surprised to hear that I did witness a murder. Again, I was about 7 and we were in the same town in Mexico. I was drinking a soda that I'd just bought at the corner store and was about to make my way back to the church. There were a few of us there, including my sister and a few friends from church. We saw 2 drunk men talking to each other and staggering up the street. When they were about 5 yards away from us, one pulled out a knife and stabbed the other one to death. To this day, drunks, and even the smell of alcohol makes me shake.
  3. 11 people will find it interesting to know that I do indeed have a tattoo on my left shoulder blade. It's about 4 inches long and about 3/4 inch wide, if I recall correctly. I got it done last summer and it holds a real significance for me. It's my husband's name written in old, (vertical) Mongolian script. It's one of the craziest things I've ever done (that I don't regret doing, anyway).
  4. So the fib, my friends, is that Hetee and I, although we'd love to one day, have never auditioned for the Amazing Race. Every time we watch it we think, "We could do that!" So, maybe one day!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

OK, everyone. I have a dilemma. I want to do something different with my hair without chopping it off. But what?

My husband has forbidden me to get a perm. Even though I have the perm, papers and even the rollers ALL FROM AMERICA, he still says NO. And not a cute, maybe-if-you-beg-I-might-say-yes "NO", but a firm get-the-idea-out-of-your-head "NO". I even tried pouting and sulking but all to no avail.

Sigh.

So what's a girl to do?

It's late and I've looked at over 1000 pictures online, trying to come up with a nice looking yet practical solution to my stick straight, baby fine hair. I'm soliciting your advice. What can I do with my hair that will make it look different without going terribly shorter?

I've posted this photo so you can get a good look at my face and its shape. Extremely oval, in case you hadn't noticed.

My hair now is all one length/no bangs with slight layers toward the bottom. It's about 1/2-1 inch below my chin.It has taken a lot of willpower to grow out my bangs and I really enjoy being able to keep them out of my face with a ponytail and not have to use clips, etc. So cutting bangs/short all over layers is not the best option but, I mean, what are my options, right?

As much as I HATE having bangs in my face (not to mention the stress of getting them cut in a flattering way) I get less "Omg, you're soooo skinny" comments with I have bangs.

Sara, Leah, Shelly, Becca, Amanda...whoever! What do you think? Should I (a) just keep growing it out or (b) satisfy my craving for something different only to fall prey to more clips and rubber bands as it grows because I don't have the time to style it anyway?!

See? A real dilemma!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

My G12 Women

I thought I'd introduce to you by photo the women I serve. Together, we represent the women of Darkhan Christian Fellowship.


L-R back row: Batjargal, Murun, Ogii-Tseegii, Melanie, Tugsuu, Oyunaa, Byambaa, Tuya
L-R front row: Tungaa, Shuree, Myadagmaa, Naraa and Oyuka

What's Been Making Me Smile...

  • My English students, old and new
  • A lazy Saturday morning
  • Teaching about birth and dispelling myths and lies. Setting people free with the truth!
  • Ulzii and Ogii Tseegii and their thoughtfulness
  • We're having the foreigners' Christmas party this year! Yea!
  • Hand-me-downs coming in and going out
  • My silly poll
  • Molly, running around the house like a mad cat
  • The kids' attitude charts and the treasure chest (more on that later)
  • Anticipating a care package!
What about you? What's been making you smile? Please share in the "comments" section!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Research

I've been doing some reading lately on the subject of bilingualism and the effects it has on children. I've come across some interesting articles and thought I'd post the links here in case anyone wanted to read along.

I've never given much thought to the potential challenges of raising bilingual (or multilingual) children. I am multilingual myself and never really encountered anything that I would say was a challenge. If anything, knowing multiple languages has been a huge advantage all through my life.

But apparently, as with many advantageous things in life, there are disadvantages. These disadvantages (most are temporary) can be especially noticeable when a child is learning to read, write and communicate in 2 or more languages at an early age and simultaneously.

Many of our Mongolian family members and friends have expressed concerns about our children having to communicate in 2 languages from the get go. And if I had a dollar for every time someone asked me if our children spoke either English or Mongolian, I'd be a rich momma.

The truth is, my kids have all had their own road to walk when it comes to communicating. We never pressured them to talk in one language or the other, even when we have company. I know by experience that language is directly related to emotions so I believe that they should be able to communicate in the language that best helps them express their emotions. Sometimes Nate will say, "Mom I have to tell you this in Mongolian because it's funnier". We then switch back to English, after we've had a good laugh together.

Abi was always gifted with the ability to express herself. She takes her time and forms her thoughts so perfectly that I sometimes forget she's only 4. But then again, she's been using sentences since she was 1 year old.

For all my kids, English is their primary and strongest language. This is a good thing, since they won't have to struggle to learn it when they are older. English is a tough language to learn later on.

For each child, language presents it's own challenges. Nate has a lisp so his Mongolian is hard to decipher at times. But his comprehension and reading are fine. I'm not worried.

Abi, who has near-to-perfect English sentence structure, is thrown off by the Mongolian sentence structure because it's almost the complete opposite of English. But one day she'll catch on and the pros will outwegh the cons for her just as they did for me.

As for Kenny, age 2.5, again English is his primary way to communicate. For him, speaking Mongolian is saying the sentence in English and adding hiisen to the end. Hiisen means "did", or "made" in Mongolian. But he'll catch on, too.

Some people have criticized us, saying that we should only use one language until the children get older. Hetee says they're going to eat their words when our kids are 12 years old and making 10 bucks an hour translating.

From what I've been reading AND from my own experiences, the pros far outweigh the cons for bilingual individuals. If you are considering raising your children so they are bilingual I say "GO FOR IT!" But make it a priority. Don't just assume they will absorb a language. You must encourage them and set a good example. I find languages fascinating and share this openly with my children. At home we speak in English, Mongolian, Spanish, Russian (my favorite!), and the little French I know. Hetee and I both want to learn French fluently. It's never too late!

There's a pretty well-rounded article here. Here's another one, too.

That's all I'll leave you with for now. Happy pondering and reading!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Overheard At The Breakfast Table

Abi yelling:

Mommy, can you wake Daddy up? We need to read the Bible and pray really fast! Kenny's bothering me and won't stop!

She knows that prayer and Bible reading soothes the savage beasts around here.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

TV 3

Day before yesterday we were asked to do a 40 minute live talk show on the topic of abortion in Mongolia. Leave it to Mongolians to tell you the day before. But since it was about abortion, Hetee and I didn't want to reschedule. We were born ready!

We were nervous but the day started like any other which helped calm my nerves. A sink full of dirty dishes, kids' toys everywhere, and unannounced company were the order of the day.

Around 4 we took the kids to my parents' house where they would be spending the night. Hetee and I made plans to have dinner at The Empire following our 7 pm TV studio appointment. Since we were all dressed up and it was Friday night and all. =)

We came home, got dressed and got our ideas together. Hetee downloaded a presentation he made onto his phone for transport and we were ready. (It turned out to not be in the right format but they kept it and will air it later.)

We left home for the studio at about 6:25 in hopes to meet with the manager and staff. As it turns out the station manager's wife was 7 months pregnant with their second. She and I barely exchanged names and we were already talking about stomachs, due dates, and other things men would never talk about. We exchanged phone numbers and agreed to get together later this week. She and her husband signed up for my next birth class, too. =)

Quiet on the set...

The fact that we were going on live gave me the willies. But the Mongolian public has been hungering and thirsting for the truth about abortion so I was almost positive that we wouldn't be getting any prank callers. It was one of those "I was born for this" moments. Even so, Hetee and I are not TV people and we were definitely stepping out of our comfort zones.

As we were talking about fetal development, the phone rang. I held my breath and concentrated hard to hear what the caller was saying. Sometimes I can't understand Mongolian too well on the phone because I can't see the movement of the person's mouth. But this time he spoke slowly and I understood everything.

The caller was gushing as he spoke about how he and his wife visited our home months earlier when she was pregnant and everyone was telling her to have an abortion. He said that I comforted them and gave them hope with my advice (this is where my eyes started welling up with tears). He said they went to UB to give birth because the Darkhan doctors would not take them. They now have a perfectly healthy daughter and his wife is doing well also. All of this ON THE AIR!!!

I took this opportunity to talk about how people and doctors counsel women to abort just to stay on the safe side when something is wrong. I told my own story with Abi (one day I'll go into it here) and encouraged women out there to protect their children from such doctors and to give their babies a fighting chance.

After that the phones really started ringing! We had a few callers who wanted to meet us at our house, too. =)

Hetee talked about sexual abstinence before marriage and staying pure for your future spouse. A concept that is virtually unheard of in Mongolia. The man doing the interview was so mesmerized that we went over time 5 minutes! We cut into their next program!

Everything we said was so well received and we give God the glory. We were invited back to teach our abstinence course (13 classes) and air them as well. So it looks like we'll be getting to know the station manager and his wife and the crew of TV 3 a lot better. One of them asked if they could come to church next Sunday.

After the taping, at about 8:30 pm we headed over to our favorite place, The Empire. We ate an entire pizza and basked in the glow of our cell phones that were going off non-stop. Our church members were calling and text messaging to let us know they watched and were proud of us. One lady from my G12 didn't have a TV so she asked the neighbors if she could watch with them. She texted me to let me know that her neighbors would be visiting our church on Sunday. =)

At The Empire there was live music (loud!) and lots of people. We even spotted a celebrity. During this whole time I had my camera but Hetee and I are notoriously bad picture takers. We forget or just don't feel like it. Then we kick ourselves. So at the moment we're kicking ourselves for not taking pictures of the TV thing. Oh well; next time.

Well, I'm off to pick up the kids...

Till next time! Here's to saving lives!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Have you ever...

(Bold the things you've actually done.)

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Gotten flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

Monday, November 10, 2008

Whew!

What a WHIRLWIND the past few days have been! I guess we looked bored so Pastor Chris thought he'd come and shake us up a little.

On Saturday morning we woke up at 6 am and started getting ready to bring Pastor Chris back to UB and the airport. His flight was scheduled to leave at 6:30 pm that evening, or so we thought. We had made plans to have lunch in UB with another missionary family we had only met through Skype. We were jazzed, ( I know I was) to have the day to shop, eat and enjoy each other's company. We had even found sitters for the kids so there were visions of uninterrupted adult conversations dancing in my head.

Ok, so back to Saturday morning, 6 am. I'm in the kitchen, sleepily stirring my coffee and Pastor Chris comes in and says something to the effect of, "Man, I really messed up big time". He informs me that his flight was leaving at 8:30 am, not 6:30 pm like he thought. Ooooo, boy.

Let the record show that I did feel genuine pity for the man. But during the week of his visit he had been teasing me about girl stuff, hormones and whatnot (he has 3 daughters) so I also saw this as a good opportunity to get back at him. Don't worry, I waited until the initial shock had passed and my jabs were very tasteful. I think I only mentioned senility once.

Pastor Chris immediately got busy on his laptop, calling and skyping various airline offices around the world, and managed to change part of his flight schedule from Korea to Seattle. The only part remaining was from UB to Seoul. We would go to UB as planned and try to get it taken care of there.

Laissez les bon temps roulez! (That's Louisianan for let the good times roll)

We had an uneventful trip to UB (about 2 and a half hours), unlike the missionary family who drove 10 hours from the countryside to meet us. They hit a horse.

Upon arrival in UB, we went straight to the MIAT airline office. MIAT is the only Mongolian airline company and it stands for Maybe I Arrive Tomorrow. Just kidding. Well, not really. Especially in this case.

To make a long story short, they couldn't help us but they sent us to another office. The lady there took about 3 hours, during which time we ran some other errands, found a place to stay and canceled lunch, but she finally gave Pastor Chris a pass. Not to be confused with an actual boarding pass, this one was just a pass of some sort but apparently it worked because Hetee put Ps Chris on a plane bound for Korea the next morning and we haven't heard from him since.

There were perks to Pastor Chris being delayed, though. We had an incredible supper with him and the a fore mentioned missionary family at a restaurant called "The Silk Road". And we also got a nice hotel room out of the whole deal. And extra time with our friend.

Hetee preached in UB yesterday and we spent one more night. It was a pretty leasurely trip, without the kids. We took advantage of this and got my eyes checked at a private eye clinic. I had been having trouble with infections and a yellowish growth on the whites of my eyes. The dr (elderly Mongolian guy) checked me and said it's nothing serious. I just have to massage antibacterial ointment into my eyes twice a day. Don't you wish you were me?

The dr thought he was so funny. When I told him my name he said, "melamine?! You're that harmful substance!" Like I never heard that one before.

We heard it was snowing in Darkhan so we left UB and started home as soon as possible. We didn't want to be on an icy road in the dark. The threat of icy roads proved to be only a threat so, as the sun broke through the clouds, we slowed down and enjoyed the drive home. We sang, worshipped, cried, talked about what we would do with the money if we won The Amazing Race, and stopped and took pictures like tourists.

It was a great weekend, a nice change of pace and a time to reconnect as a couple.

Pastor Chris would be proud.

Monday, November 03, 2008

What's Been Making Me Smile...

  • A visit from a dear friend
  • Reece's and Swiss Miss
  • My hubby helping me out so much around the house
  • Delicious chicken Gumbo and Louis Armstrong
  • My boys, wearing their sister's dresses and acting oh-so-silly
  • Thoughts of a new Wives' Bible Study I'll be starting soon
  • A wonderfully relaxing facial and brow tweezing. Who knew something so simple could make me feel like a million bucks?!
  • Seeing a herd of camels, horses, sheep and goats roaming around town!
So, what's been making you smile?

I'd Like To Thank The Academy...


For giving me this award. You spelled "creative" wrong, though. That's ok.

No seriously, I am very honored that Shynea, over at Penny Pinching Diva has selected me for this award. I can't stop blabbering about it! I really am touched that my blog has reached so many people in a positive way.

The rules say that I must list 6 things (besides the Academy) that I am thankful for:
  1. My marriage. My husband and I have a great relationship with each other. We love each other despite (or because of?) our weaknesses. We both strive to be a better spouse and it shows in our every day lives.
  2. My children. I have the most wonderful children! Oh, they come with their flaws and challenges but I wouldn't change a thing in them. They are growing up into great people who are caring, generous and who love God. What more could I ask for?
  3. For my parents living close by.
  4. Our family's good health. Besides a toothache, a cold or the occasional allergy, we're all pretty healthy.
  5. A church and ministry that I enjoy. Sometimes, things can get tough but overall, I am content with where I am and what I'm doing.
  6. Friends who bring/send goodies from home. Anytime I use something they've sent, I think of them and it makes me feel all warm inside. I really, really deeply appreciate each and package and its contents. I'd like to mention a few here:
  • Twila, for the cake sprinkles and conditioner, among other things. Also my kids LOVE the "Critical Thinking" books!
  • Shelly and the gang, for the kids' toothbrushes (and tons of other stuff). I think of y'all every night at bedtime.
  • Aunt Ella, for Abi's tutus and dresses. She's all girl, ya know.
  • Cheri, for the spices! Every time my house smells of oregano, I think of you! Would you believe, I've given a bunch of it away and now we have all these Mongolian housewives cooking really good spaghetti.
  • Sara, for the countless times you have blessed our family with packages. I think of you each time I get a glass of water from our water filter. You have made my time in Mongolia a real joy, blessing me with your thoughtful treats from home. From clothes, to chocolate chips and toys for the kids. You and Brad are a gift from above!
  • Pastor Chris and Sandy for blessing us each time Pastor Chris comes to visit. From Prenatal and children's vitamins to Reece's Pieces, you take my little comforts seriously and love to bless us all. And to the congregation of COTR, for releasing Pastor Chris to come and bless us, THANK YOU!
  • John and Diana, for the love and care you have for us and our church. Especially for Diana's chocolate ministry. A vital part in all our lives. Thanks for always offering to bring something special from home. It means a lot to me. Everybody needs Velveeta from time to time. I'm not ashamed.
And now, I'd like to pass this award on to the following people (it's supposed to be 6 but, this is the best I can do for now):

Jamie, at Why Not One More?
Cheri, at Keeping Up With His Plans
Kim, at In A Shoe
Daja, at Gombojav Tribe

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bwa Ha Ha

How do you get 3 hilarious kids ready for bed when you've got a bad case of the giggles yourself?

It all started with Abi's heartfelt rendition of "Wedgie Tales" to the tune of the Veggie Tales theme song. Then Nate and Kenny felt the need to expound upon it with their... er, interpretive dance.

Time to brush teeth and no one is taking mom seriously because she's laughing so hard she almost peed her pants. Fresh peels of laughter ring out at Daddy's futile announcement that all silliness must cease, now. He threw up his hands and shook his head in defeat.

Silliness wins again.

They're settled in bed now, finally. My sides hurt.

Not much going on...

The kids and I have been having WAY too much fun with this recipe. It's not the greatest chocolate cake in the world but it sure is fun to make!

Please keep us in your prayers. Abi and Kenny have been sick with colds. Yesterday Nate woke up with a little cough. It didn't seem serious so we sent him to school anyway. About an hour later, we got a call from the PE teacher asking us to come and pick Nate up. Nate had told his PE teacher that when he ran his chest hurt.

Abi and Ken seem to be recovering but we had to keep Nate home from school today. But it's ok because all he would have done would be to pick up his homework for the next 2 weeks. Starting tomorrow the first graders are having a 2-week break. Nate will have ample time to recover and get back to his normal, healthy self before then.

Another reason this school break is convenient is our friend, Pastor Chris is coming fora visit! Pastor Chris is Hetee's mentor and pastors a church in Gig Harbor, Washington. He's in UB now but will arrive in Darkhan on Saturday. He'll be here for almost a week and we are really looking forward to having some time to fellowship with him. He visits about twice a year and it's always refreshing when he comes.

It snowed again today. The kids were excited but just like last week, the snow melted. They're looking forward to being able to make snow angels and have snowball fights again. Me, not so much. I'm not a fan of Mongolian winters.

Oh, I almost forgot the reason I sat down at the computer to write this post!

Last Tuesday morning I got to share the Gospel with 2 of my fellow teachers at Nate's school! I had been praying for the opportunity and after 6 weeks, it finally came. One of the teachers started by asking me about the Mormons and the what the difference was between us and them and then we moved on to the topic of Christianity and the Bible and, the next thing you know, I shared Jesus with them for about 40 minutes!

Please pray for these teachers. Their names are Nymaa and Oyunchimeg. Nyamaa has a daughter in my 3rd grade English class who comes to our house on Saturdays to play and practice her English. She's a sweet girl and has quickly become good friends with Abi. Nyamaa says that she would not mind her little girl coming to church with us sometime. What an open door!

Molly is doing good. She's litter box trained now. She trained really fast which was a huge relief. I wanted a cat but dreaded having to clean up more messes. So far they have been few and far between, so I'm super happy about that.


Speaking of potty training: Kenny is now pooping in the potty! Of all 3 kids, he has been by far the toughest to train. He plumb did not care about the whole potty idea even though we tried everything to get him to go. Since Abi and Nate learned fast I thought it might have something to do with ME knowing what I was doing but apparently it didn't. Potty training Kenny has taken a joint effort involving each member of the family. Everyone plays a part in reminding him and encouraging him after the fact. Hetee has been especially patient and hands-on during this time. I think the prospect of living "diaper free" appeals to him.

We still have a ways to go before Kenny can leave the house for any period of time in his big boy underwear, but at least he understands the concept now.

Gotta run and get ready to teach a birth class...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Oh Yeah, One More Thing...

I hope everyone doesn't think I'm being too forward but with Christmas just around the corner, I've updated the kids' "Care Package Ideas" list over in my side bar.

We have some friends who love our kids and love blessing them so I thought I'd toss a few ideas out there in case they needed them.

Part of me feels real tacky. The other part feels like it's the practical thing to do.

Loooong Day

But a good one, so I can't complain. It kind of started last night when Kenny developed a fever of 102. He didn't have any other symptoms besides a runny nose so I wasn't sure what was causing his fever. I started him on a homeopathic remedy and stayed up until midnight to observe him and give him his remedy every 2 hours. Sometime in the night I checked him again and the fever was gone.

Normally I wouldn't be so touchy about a little old fever but, having found out that friends lost their 4 month old baby to meningitis the day before, my nerves were a little jittery. Apparently the baby was fine, then got a fever during the night and then died the following morning. The parents attended my birth class when they were pregnant and this was their first baby. So sad.

So, I was trying to remain calm, but thoughts of meningitis and possibly an emergency trip to UB weren't far from my mind as I drifted off to sleep. I awoke in the morning to hear both Kenny and Abi coughing. Thank God, I thought. Just a cold.

We stayed home from church and in the mid-morning, the kids played outside (Weather was beautiful! Not many days like these left!) The boys with their daddy's tools and Abi with some bubbles. At one point, Kenny tried blowing bubbles. He got so excited that he stuck the wand in his mouth. Imagine our surprise when he opened his mouth and a bubble came floating out. We laughed till we cried at the look of utter amazement on his face

After a long, Benadryl induced nap, Abi and Ken played the rest of the afternoon. Now they seem to be feeling better.

While the 2 little ones napped, Nate practiced his Mongolian reading. Then we made apple crisp. Mmmm...

After our snack I catnapped on the sofa with Molly (who is the cutest kitty you ever saw, by the way.) while Nate finished his chores then played quietly on the computer and watched TV. See, I told you it was a good day.

Hetee is on his way back from UB. He went alone this time since we still haven't found a nanny/helper. Even if we had, it would take a while of working together and getting the kids used to her before leaving her in charge.

I'm married to a great guy, you know? Until now, he's always made sure I've had help around the house. He's always insisted that it be full time so on some days he can just whisk me off my feet and take me out on a whim. For ministry purposes, of course. Yeah.

But alas, we've looked high and low for a helper and have come up dry. We have had some great girls in our 7 years as a family and I've hated to see them go. But I do think it's good for them to study and better themselves, blah, blah, blah. I really do. It's just that this time I'm up a creak (or a "crick" as my Paw Paw would say) without a paddle. Not that I mind the housework and the kids. I just miss the flexibility I had before. And it's nice to have an extra pair of loving hands to help me with the kiddos. Hetee's been great, though; washing the dishes every chance he gets. He also does his own ironing, but he's always done that. He's a bit obsessive when it comes to sleeves. Don't mess with his sleeves.

And since we're on the topic of how cool and nice and sweet and thoughtful my husband is, here's another thing he does that I SO appreciate: He calls me when he's coming after dark instead of knocking so that I won't be startled by the knocking. (Our door locks from the inside and I have to lock it to keep stray drunks etc., out). He knows how jumpy I am (sign of a guilty conscious? tee hee) and tries his best to not give me a heart attack. Sweet, huh?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

My First Meme!!!

I've seen memes on other people's blogs before and have always secretly hoped that someone would notice and tag little old me. Well, Jamie, over at why not one more has tagged me!



So, ready or not, 7 weird things about me:

  1. I almost never get sick.
  2. I have a tattoo on my left shoulder/back. It's my husbands name in old Mongolian script. Coolest thing ya ever saw.
  3. I always burn the last pancake.
  4. All my births were pain med free. 2 were unassisted home births. Yet, I'm still a ninny baby when it comes to pain.
  5. I'm very sarcastic so it kills me that most Mongolians don't get sarcastic humor. They just look at me like I'm nuts.
  6. I speak English, Spanish, Mongolian and some Russian. I understand Portuguese, Italian and some French and Latin. I speak to my kids in all these languages and even Kenny can say some basic Russian words. My husband and I both love languages.
  7. I hate paperwork and anything that has to do with the American Embassy or passports or visas. They give me hives. It's right up there with my dislike and distrust of the Mongolian medical system. *Shiver*
I tag Shelly, Amanda, Tessa, Marnie, Daja, Cheri, and Michele.

Have fun, ladies!


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Update in Bullets

It's been a while so I'll catch try and catch up in one post.

  • On the 16,17,and 18th of October we held a Marriage Encounter Weekend. Pastors Melvyn and Linda Mak from Singapore came and taught. Hetee translated and was exhausted! 25 couples attended and were very blessed!
  • The couples were asked to exchange gifts after the ceremony for the renewing of the vows and Hetee and I unknowingly got each other silver necklaces. We laughed as we figured out that we bought them from the same place.
  • Our anniversary was on the 20th. We dressed up and went out to eat at The Empire, in a private room. About halfway through our meal, Hetee said he had to go out for a minute. He returned with a tiny white and gray kitten with a pink bow around her neck and a long stemmed red rose. I was sooooo surprised because I had heard about the kittens and was begging him for one for days. He refused and told me to forget about it. So it was a cool thing for him to do. Kitty's name is Molly. Had to bathe her 4 times to get rid of the fleas. Now she's flea-free and squeeky clean.
  • Our friend John visited from the Ststes and brought me some Reece's Peanut Butter Cups. We also had a good time to visit and talk. He also brought some good books and instant oatmeal... =) =) =)
  • My kids love Reece's as much as I do.
  • Still no nanny/helper. Not many prospects either.
  • Got a package from Shelly, Rachelle, and Aunt Becky. Tons of cool stuff for the kids!
  • The ATM problem is being resolved. We should get all or most of our money. You know the economy is bad when they start stealing from missionaries and pastors...
  • I'm tired of saying, "Leave the cat alone!"
  • Nate is reading and writing in English and Mongolian. I'm not pressuring him. So far so good.
  • Had an awesome time to soaking in the Lord last night at my cell group. We ministered to one another in the Holy Spirit and felt refreshed.
  • We have a dead mouse rotting under the floor in the kitchen. We have tried to get to it, gagging the whole time but there's no way unless we break the floor up.
  • Kenny is learning all about boundaries and limits. He's quite the toddler these days.
  • Abi went to school with Nate the other day. She spent the day crying to come home apparently. At one point Nate took her on his lap and wiped her tears away and kissed her. The entire faculty heard about it and were moved. I think it scored him some major points with certain girls in the classroom. =)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What's Been Making Me Smile...

Again, looking for reasons to smile. Life's still beating me up. My nanny quit and gave me almost no notice. Also our bank is charging us for 3 ATM transactions that never went through. We're still trying to get it straightened out. Grrrrrr.

But I refuse to stop the 'smile' posts. They make me feel better.
  1. Tea and conversation over a plate of cookies (see prev. post) with my new friend MaryEllen.
  2. Kenny saying, "Woohoo, I'm a MAN!" when he's happy about something.
  3. Unusually warm weather, lingering longer than it's supposed to
  4. My Hubby washing dishes for me 2 days in a row! (my least favorite job on earth)
  5. New friendships and experiences as an English teacher at Nate's school.
  6. Our anniversary is coming up.
  7. I gave my 4th grade students English names today and the chubby kid who is always trying to make everyone laugh said he didn't want to be "Kevin"; he wanted to be called "Kung-Fu Panda" instead.
  8. Thoughts I'm entertaining about writing a children's book...
  9. Navajo bread and molasses
  10. These cute kids:

Monday, October 13, 2008

Frugal, Healthy-ish Cookie Recipe

I will be trying these later today...


Carrot Cookies


INGREDIENTS:
1 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 egg
1 1/4 cups grated carrots
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
2. Cream butter and sugar until very light and fluffy. Add egg and orange rind. Stir to blend.
3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Add to butter mixture alternately with grated carrots. Mix to form a dough.
4. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Cookies will spread slightly. Bake for about 12 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned around the edges. Loosen cookies with spatula. Cool on rack.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2008 Allrecipes.com

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Much Ado About Garbage

Ok, you read this and tell me if I'm being an unreasonable American here.

Our garbage truck comes around every other week to collect our trash (that in itself is a tragedy. Every other week? Come on!). Sometimes the driver of said garbage truck fails to announce his presence when passing by our gate.

Now, normally I'm not a paranoid, "conspiracy theory" type of person and I do try to give people the benefit of the doubt. BUT, I am the only foreign person in my entire neighborhood and I do deal with racism on some level almost on a daily basis, so could the garbage truck driver not caring about my garbage possibly have anything to do with the fact that I am an American and he's afraid to deal with me because he thinks I may require him to speak my native tongue?

Man, that was a long sentence.

Back to the garbage guy.

Two weeks ago they came by to collect our trash and since they had breezed by two weeks before that without stopping, we literally had a garage full of maggoty, rotten... there are just no words, believe me, for what was piled up in there. I was frustrated to tears because I couldn't get the lady (a lady--and I use that term lightly- usually goes with the truck to collect the fees.) to understand that we needed them to actually pause and blow the horn at our gate in order for us to hear them. She refused to admit that anything was amiss and she kept saying over and over again that she pounded on the gate, blah, blah, blah.

Hetee came out and tried to reason with her and she quieted down a little. I'm tired of getting chewed out by people who are supposed to be quiet and just collect my garbage and garbage money. I mean, I'm not asking them to do it for free!

So anyway, apparently they still have not understood the concept of blowing the horn on the big loud truck they have (I think that they think it will use more gas or something ??) because today, lo and behold, I hear a banging noise at the gate and a woman screaming at the top of her lungs: "Khogoo uguurei!!!!!!!!!" (Give me your trash)

Oh, and they had a new set of shenanigans all planned for me today, as well. I handed the garbage man my bathroom trash can to empty into the truck, just like everyone else does and what does the idiot do? He throws my entire trash can into the truck! I said, "Hey, give me my can!" He laughs and says, "We're taking it." At that point, it had been in the back of a garbage truck so I probably should have parted with it right then and there.

The guy did gave it back though, and I'm still trying to work up the nerve to bring it inside and wash it. Disgusting.

On the other hand, I guess it's a good thing I only have to deal with them twice a month. Any more than that would just be torture.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Thanks, everyone, for remembering Nate in your prayers. He is doing much better, praise GOD. Things did get worse before they decided to get better but let's just say that emergency surgery in a government-run hospital was not necessary after all. What a nightmare that would have been!

We did have to see a dentist in UB to clean the tooth out yet again and put in a temporary filling. This dentist was really rough and pretty much undid all the hard work I'd put in to Nate during previous dentist visits to keep him calm and cooperative. She insisted on giving him a shot to numb the area and, well, it didn't go well (even though he was prepped for the possibility). She tried tricking him and it just made it worse. Nate had a melt down and I almost did, too.

We got back to Darkhan and went to our dentist (whom we like VERY much) who checked him and cleaned the tooth again. She said that the swelling/infection was gone. All that was left was to put in the permanent filling. When she went for the syringe-looking thingy to fill the tooth up, Nate freaked out and clammed up. We explained to him that it was not a needle and that it wouldn't hurt. I let him hold it and squeeze it and everything but he just wouldn't budge. I pleaded, groveled, and bribed all with no luck. We left (after 45 minutes of unsuccessful cajoling) with yet another temporary filling. I'm praying to God it holds for a while. At least until he forgets what a syringe looks like. Yeah, right.

This whole experience has left me exhausted. I sooooo appreciate the prayers and encouraging comments. I personally have been through the ringer lately. I won't go into detail here because I'm saving it for my book. Tee Hee...

Friday, October 03, 2008

Teeth Wars

Ok, so the dentist cleaned Nate's tooth out again today and was impressed that some of the swelling had gone down. There really is no other choice but to wait and see if the amoxicillin, carrot juice etc will work. She said that since some of the swelling had gone down in the past 24 hours, she was willing to wait and give it a few more days before doing anything drastic like cutting the gum and letting it bleed out (*shivers*).

We stepped up the carrot juice (vitamin A for fighting infection) to 4 + glasses a day and Nate has been such a trooper, drinking it even when he felt like he'd had all he could stand. I love that about Nate; when the going ets tough, he never backs down.

Right now, he still has a knot on his gum and his face is still a bit swollen but he doesn't have much pain. He's practicing his violin right now without a care in the world. He's my HERO!

Nate still has a hole in his tooth where the dentist cleaned out and drilled. She taught me how to change the cotton in it and clean it out. We're doing that every few hours or so. I'm so thankful that I found a Mongolian dentist who is willing to work with Nate and doesn't want to jump into doing something so invasive as pulling the tooth or cutting the gum.

Thank you all for your prayers and encouraging comments. I really appreciate you all taking the time to pat me on the back. I really have no idea how I'm supposed to treat something like this. I had my first and only cavity so far when I was 17 and it was not bad at all. I know the infection in Nate's mouth needs to be dealt with quickly but I want to give his body a chance to heal first so that he's not traumatized unnecessarily. Any thoughts on this? Am I doing the wrong thing?

We still need to finish this deal so please continue to pray for Nate through Monday. Hopefully (prayerfully) the swelling/infection will be gone and she'll be able to fill the tooth and we'll be DONE.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

What's Been Making Me Smile...

  1. My English students
  2. Fresh root vegetables
  3. A good chunk of beef from the market (I prayed for favor before I went in)
  4. A handmade dollhouse in the works for Abi's Christmas present. Shhh.....
  5. Kenny and his "big boy" underwear
  6. Abi putting Kenny to sleep
  7. Fresh, organic yogurt
  8. People who pray for us
  9. Babies, Babies, Babies; everywhere I look!
  10. My new dress boots
This past week was a tough one for me. Lots of lessons learned about faith and resting in my heavenly Father's Word. But I'm glad to see that I still had at least 10 reasons to smile.

Please keep our family in your prayers. Nate awoke yesterday morning with a swollen cheek and a toothache. Come to find out, one of the cavities he had filled last Spring was not cleaned out completely and it got infected. We put him on antibiotics and carrot juice right away and waited for the swelling to go down before taking him to the dentist. The swelling didn't go down and now the dentist wants to possibly cut the gum and let it bleed out. We are all terrified and are praying hard that come tomorrow at 9 am when we see her again, the swelling will have gone down so that such drastic measures won't be necessary.

I feel really terrible. When will I stop blaming myself for every bad thing that happens to my kids? Or is it really my fault? Either way, this feeling of guilt doesn't help. All it does is stress me out and gives me a headache.

Did I mention that Nate brushes at least once a day, usually twice? And that my kids don't eat very much candy and that we seldom drink fruit juices, much less carbonated drinks? They eat healthy foods with calcium (maybe not as much as they should every day, but still!)

Why is this happening to him!?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Frugal Friday: Frugality In A 3rd World Country

I have been thinking a lot lately about my reasons for being frugal. I think I'm a lot different from those who consider grocery shopping a sort of competitive game they play every month to see how much they can save. For me, (as well as many others out there, I'm sure) being frugal is a means of survival, as some months, after paying the rent and bills I don't have nearly what I need to get our family through the month food/clothes wise. Thank God the rent and bills get paid, though. =)

Frugality is a skill I probably would have never acquired had I not moved to Mongolia and chosen this life of ministry. I'm not "frugal at heart", like some people seem to be. I don't really find it fun to pinch pennies on a daily basis. If I had more money I'd spend it. And I'd probably spend more on others than myself.

I'm one of those people who would spend money to save time or hassle. Having to be frugal all the time can wear me down so I have to keep close tabs on my attitude. God has never let us go hungry, even though there have been lean times, so I have a lot to be grateful for. But one source of constant irritation for me is the way the stores and prices are set up in this country.

There are no REAL sales, on food items, at least. ONCE I found a shelf boasting a sales sign but the items were all expired. If things do go one sale it is because the prices were so jacked up in the beginning anyway so they just bring them back down to the normal price and try to get rid of them.

It's the same with clothes. They bring low quality clothes and shoes in from China and try to sell them at 3 and 4 times what they paid. All the stores have sales but like I said before, it's just bad clothes selling for the original price so they can get rid of them.

The prices of many food items have doubled and even tripled in the last year due to the price of gas going up. Most of what the stores in Darkhan sell is brought in by trucks from UB so the gas prices directly affect their prices. Each month when I go to get my groceries from the market, I find that something has gone up yet again. I then have to make an amendment to my list right there in the middle of the market to make sure I can get what I need.

Then you just never know what you'll find at any given store. Like, if I see oatmeal and I have the money I usually snatch up 6 bags at a time and that'll usually last about 2 months. If I don't buy it at that time, chances are someone else will buy it and I won't be able to find it again for another 6 months. So, if I buy something like that in bulk, I have to make adjustments in the rest of my list. Can be quite a headache for me.

Probably the best frugal thing our family does is that we live without credit. We have never had credit cards and it's one of the best choices we've ever made. We use cash or debit card for all of our purchases and when we run out of money that's just that.

I'm not sure exactly what my purpose was in writing about all of this. I guess I wanted to give the American housewives who are reading this a little picture of what it's like to be frugal in a 3rd world country. I really wish we had grocery store sales like the ones I read about on some blogs. Like how someone got $450.00 worth of groceries but only spent .99 out of pocket. I'm being facetious but you know what I mean.

So, the next time you buy a bunch of canned goods for a really irresistible price, please say a prayer for us housewives in Mongolia who are trying to make ends meet in a 3rd World country. Pray that we'll catch a break. Pray that we'll catch a REAL sale!

For more frugal reading visit Biblical Womanhood and have a great weekend!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ministry Update

Please read about our latest ministry related news here!


Thursday, September 25, 2008

What's Been Making Me Smile...

  1. posting 3 times in one day
  2. the way Kenny says "Shoes on" when he really means "Take my shoes off" and the way everyone in our family understands him anyway
  3. a heart to heart with my mom and dad
  4. beautiful, new dish towels (going to use them to make aprons for my 3 little kitchen helpers!)
  5. stomping on crunchy, yellow-brown leaves with my boys
  6. a glorious nap, cuddled up with the sweetest person in the universe, Abigail Nendin
  7. dinner and a movie with my hubby in UB
  8. being such an important person in my home
  9. a brand new nephew!
  10. A normal reading on my thyroid test

School Days Update: Melanie

Yes, I'm posting about my school days because I am, once again, teaching English! I teach 4 hours on Tuesdays at Nate's school grades 2-6. I wanted to only be tied down to the school one day a week so it's great to be able to do that.

So, last Tuesday I got to ride the bus with Nate and spend snack time together. It was a bit of a challenge for Nate to stay put in his classroom and not keep coming to me and interrupting both his and my class. But finally, he understood that he needed to stay put. A little chocolate candy helped, too. =)

My kids are lively, especially the younger ones. My job is to help them develop their vocabulary and conversation/listening skills. They gotta have skillz, ya know. My tactic is to teach them through songs and poems and read lots of stories etc., to help them get used to my native accent. They love singing! One song I want to teach them is "My favorite things" from The Sound Of Music.

I have 2 Korean siblings in my 2nd grade class. They speak very little Mongolian or English but when I started singing "I love you, you love me..." their eyes lit up and they started singing along. I asked them if they knew Barney and the jumped up and said "YES!" So I asked them to come to the front of the class and help me teach the rest of the kids. It really made their day!

I am praying for 3 teachers at Nate's school to become believers. It will be easier to be a witness now that we work together.

Please keep us in your prayers. Me working even one day a week is a big adjustment for all of us. But, thankfully, this way we will be able to take a big cut out of Nate's tuition. My practical homeschooled brain tells me that it would be much easier just to homeschool Nate. That would save us both time and money but, Hubby feels better with Nate in school. And in a way, I do too. I see him growing in ways he would not have grown at home. It's hard to put my finger on it exactly but it just feels good.

More "School Days Updates" to come!

A Glimpse Into Mongolian Culture

Real Mongolian Barbecue...

Thanks Amanda!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Healing

Thank you all for your prayers; Hetee's feeling much better. We were all able to see an American doctor day before yesterday (my parents have a team here) and he put Hetee on some antacid pills (we actually had some, too). The doctor also gave us some antihistamine for Kenny and Abi, who were having runny noses for quite a while now. Kenny was given antibiotics for what had developed into a sinus infection.

I checked out fine except that the doctor wants me to get some blood work done to check my thyroid. Nothing serious but he said it looked enlarged. I have a few other symptoms that go with hyperthyroidism so we're getting all that looked at on Monday in UB. Hopefully my results will be in in time to show them to the American dr before the team departs on Tuesday.

For those of you who have been following Enkhmaa and Bogi's story, I just wanted to post a quick update. On Sunday we had them over along with another couple, Gana and Uchka, close friends of theirs, for taco night. Bogi had tasted onion rings at our house a while back and he LOVED them. He asked me to make them again so we had them to go with our tacos. Weird combo, but in Mongolia, anything goes.

L-R Gana, Uchka, Hetee, Mel, Enkhmaa, and Bogi

We had a great time eating, laughing and just being together. When they left it was almost 2 am. We all needed the fellowship and were felt really blessed to be able to share our meal and our hearts with them. In a previous post I mentioned that Gana and Uchka recently went through their second miscarriage. It was great to see how God was pouring His love and grace out on both couples.

Oh, and please excuse Hetee and Bogi's scruffiness. They're growing out their hair and goatees for 40 days as a sign of grief for losing little Yalalt.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

An Abi-ism

This morning as we were taking a bath...

"Are you my real mommy?"

I laughed out loud, "Of course I am your real mommy. What makes you ask that?"

She replied, "Because you're so white and I'm so brown!"

She is right about that. Her skin was the perfect "cafe-con-leche" color from the moment she was born. She takes after her daddy. I call her my "cinnamon stick".

Abi's question was a valid one, I suppose. She has a friend named "Edie" who is Mongolian and was adopted into an American family. Edie's mommy and daddy and brothers are white, so I guess that is what got Abi thinking.

She's one smart girl!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hetee

I wanted to ask that you all be praying for Hetee. On Saturday night he got food poisoning and although the initial food poisoning symptoms are gone, the vomiting set off his stomach ulcer and he has been in severe pain since Monday morning. Nothing seems to be working- pepto, antacids, nothing -- He needs a miracle!

Thank you!

Monday, September 15, 2008

"School Days" Update: Week 3



Since our camera wasn't working and I lost all of Nate's first day of school pictures, (holding back tears, here) here are some 12th-ish day of school pictures. Ha ha

What a charmer!


Waiting for the bus


Although we've had a couple rough patches, school has been going a lot smoother than I expected. The teacher keeps "wondering" (pushing) why we don't let him stay for lunch then the afternoon classes. We are fine with the way things are now (9 am till 1:00 pm) for 3 reasons :

  • He's only 6 and needs time to play. Sending a kid that age to school from 9 am till 5 pm is just wrong. It's also a waste of time.
  • He home schools. He's learning how to read and write in English now. He also does advanced math at home but that's just because he's a nerd. We do experiments and such, anytime it strikes our fancy, as well. Today we made a microwave chocolate cake in a mug. Very cool.
  • This is the first time he has been submerged in an atmosphere that is completely Mongolian. That in itself is a huge adjustment! It can be very tiresome (ask me how I know this) and we feel it's best if he only goes half a day and then is in an English environment the second half of the day.
The principal of the school has been after me to teach English. I'm kind of on the fence about that. I've taught English off and on over the last 10 years I've been here, and if you ask me, I'm really not very good at it. English is almost like a second language for me. I'm good for conversation, that's about it!

I already told them "no" but Hetee and I are still thinking about it. It would only be like one day a week for very few hours. The only reason I'm even considering it is because we could cut a chunk out of Nate's tuition that way. Sort of a bartering deal, if you will. We could use all the help we can get.

Nate has adjusted well to his classmates (11 in all) and teacher. We made a happy discovery the first week. Nate's friend, Tavinaa joined the class! Nate and Tavinaa are desk mates, for the time being. The teacher told me today that their days are numbered, though. She said they talk too much.

I went to my first Parent/Teacher meeting last week and it was so neat to meet the other parents and see a few I already knew. I walked away with Nate's brand spankin' new school books. He was one excited boy!

Today marks the beginning of week 3 and the rough patches seem to be behind us. But with Nate, you never know. I think I've mentioned once or twice that he is very strong willed and, although generally well rounded, doesn't cope well with the unexpected or sudden changes. Part of it is being a 6 year old boy and the other part is that he's a big fat perfectionist like his daddy. =)

Stay tuned for more "School Days" updates about both Nate and Abi. Abi and I are loving our home school experience. Today she breezed through 9 pages in her beginner math book! I'm trying to keep it slow and steady but she's way ahead of me most of the time.

Till next time!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Happiness In An Aerosol Can

When Nate was about 4 years old he had his first real nightmare. I can't remember exactly what it was about but he talked about it for days. Over the years he's had quite a few more (usually about bugs, fires, falling, or being separated from Abi or Kenny) and so praying to not have nightmares has become a big part of our bedtime prayer time.

The other night, after our bedtime prayers, Nate said that he really wanted to trust God but he was just too afraid to go to sleep. After a few nights of hearing how scared Nate was, Abi and Kenny were starting to say that they were scared, too. I had to act fast!

And that's when I got my ingenious idea. I could almost see the light bulb glowing above my head.

I took a can of home fragrance spray- Spiced Cider- that my friend, Twila sent me a while back, and sprayed a shot in the kids' room. When Nate asked what it was I told him it was "sweet dreams spray". That as they fell asleep it would make them think of good things like apple pie and candy and make them have the sweetest dreams.

The minute they caught a whiff of the heavenly scent they totally fell for it.

So, I kissed them goodnight I begged God to make it work.

It did, and Nate hasn't had a bad dream all week. Every night the kids spray and I pray.

Hey, (defensive tone, here) kids have been fed bigger lies by their parents all throughout history and they grow up just fine. And my lie isn't really a lie. The scent does make them think of apple pie as they drift off. Abi said so.

Now if I could only figure out a way to make them fall for the "makes-you-cheerful-while-you-do-your-chores" spray, or the "makes-you-want-to-stop-sucking-your-thumb" spray.

Sigh... A mom can dream can't she? (and now, my dreams can be spiced cider scented)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Frugal Friday: Meatless Spaghetti Sauce

Yesterday I took advantage of the fact that Hetee will be out of town for two days and had a meatless meal with the kids. I was already planning on making spaghetti sauce and I usually brown some ground beef to go in it. But since Hetee wasn't here I decided to make it vegetarian. Not that he would have minded the vegetarian version, but I try to cook with meat for him because I know he enjoys it more.

All I did was prepare the sauce as usual and added zucchini, cut in medium sized squares. I cooked that down for about 15 minutes tops (I wasn't paying attention to the time) and it was ready. A LOT faster than if I had put meat in it, seeing as I would have had to thaw a chunk out, trim the gristle and hand grind it myself.


So this meal was very frugal both money and time wise. Something I really need at this stage in life!
Have a blessed weekend and check out Biblical Womanhood for more great money-saving ideas!

Not A Nerd And Proud Of It!


I am nerdier than 36% of all people. Are you a nerd? Click here to find out!


The whole time I was taking this quiz I kept thinking Hetee would totally know the answer to this one.

I will get him to take it when he gets back from the countryside. Maybe it will prove something I already know and tell him all the time, that he's such a nerd!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

What's Been Making Me Smile...

  1. Nate understanding the power of prayer in his life
  2. Warm arms to rest in every night
  3. Seeing Bogi and Enkhmaa in their new apartment
  4. Abi's beautiful hair
  5. Another baby saved from abortion, another mother spared the heartache
  6. Printing worksheets of the Internet for the kids and seeing their imaginations run wild
  7. Earlier bedtimes all around
  8. Peach jello with whip cream for dessert the other night
  9. Lost sheep returning to the fold
  10. Kenny's singing
  11. The digital camera which we thought was broken turned out to be ok. It was only the memory card that was broken. Yay!!!
What's been making you smile? Leave a comment and spread the smiles!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Family Time And Slowing Down

Thanks for the encouragement, guys. After some prayer and purposeful de-stressing, I feel much better. I was able to see how I was allowing the stresses to creep in and get me down.

My headache is much better but I still feel a bit sensitive to light etc. So, I won't be spending much time in front of the computer today.

On Sunday Hetee and Abi went to UB. Hetee preached in church there and Abi got to see her friends Tungana, Mei Mei and Boloro (used to be our helper/nanny before going to UB to study). Abi was in heaven, having all her daddy's attention to herself and getting to play with friends she doesn't see often. She also got to spend the night with her Mongolian Grandparents who love spoiling her. =)

While Hetee and Abi were gone, I got to spend some down time with my boys. Kenny and I picked Nate up from school Monday morning and headed to the hairdressers to get Kenny's hair cut. Kenny didn't want to have anything to do with the hairdresser so Nate ended up getting his hair cut to "show him how it's done" but, with no luck. Nate looks cute, though.

On the way to the hairdressers we ran into Zaya, my little Mongolian sister. She's the youngest of the 2 sisters who my parents adopted about 6 years ago. She walked with us to the hairdressers and after, we went to a little store got some suckers. We then walked to my parents' house to eat lunch and wait for Hetee and Abi. My mom had made oven roast (beef) and mashed potatoes. Mmmmmm! With homemade cheesecake for dessert!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Talk about de-stressing. =) And suckers before lunch felt SO good. haha

After lunch my dad took the boys to check on the construction going on at their church across the street. Kenny walked across wet cement and got in trouble (not really). He was covered in cement specks when they got back.

While Kenny napped, my mom worked on a teddy bear she's sewing for Nate. She's really talented with sewing and is also working on "log cabin" jean (old jean scraps) quilt. I'm told I might inherit it one day. =) Nate and I occupied ourselves by eating mom's homemade cheese on crackers with some of her homemade spicy relish and doing voice impersonations. Some of my best impersonations are of Scarlet O'Hara, the Mexican Muppet that always says "ok" at the end of every sentence, and a valley girl. Nate loves it when I do those. Abi just rolls her eyes.

We then joined Grandpa in the living room to watch a movie about The Alamo. It was a good American History lesson for Nate who was full of questions and who's attention span amazingly spanned most of the movie.

Before long, Abi and Daddy came and ate some of Grandma's yummy roast. We headed home tired, but happy to be all together again.

I realized once again yesterday how blessed I am to have my parents nearby. With 3 little ones, I frequently rely on my mom for babysitting, clothes sewing, and just general "Grandma stuff". Nate has a special bond with his American Grandpa (both thoroughly enjoy playing tricks and jokes on people) and it's good for the kids to have a safe place to be other than with us. My parents are great and never have any complaints about watching the kids when we need them to. I am blessed!

I would have pictures, but we are currently grieving the loss of our trusty digital camera. My blog might be a little bare until we get it fixed or get a new one.

Part of my de-stressing has been to count my blessings and let go of the things that I cannot change.

On Sunday I was with a girl as she miscarried in the church restroom. She and her young husband asked me for answers as to why this was happening to them a second time. I was able to share my own miscarriage experience with them and help them find comfort in their Heavenly Father without getting caught up in the "whys". Their names are Gana and Uchka (Uchka's the wife). Please remember them in your prayers.

After ministering to Uchka on Sunday, I was, once again, struck by the suffering people endure. It was especially poignant because Uchka and Gana and Enkhmaa and Bogi are best friends. After church I saw Enkhmaa hugging and consoling a crying Uchka as she cried her own tears of grief. Even as my heart felt heavy, I felt God saying to me that we were all going to all be ok. This comforting Voice was completely unexpected and it was all I needed to "let go and let God". I hugged the crying girls one last time and told them they knew where to find me when they needed me. I needed to go and spend time with my boys. My 2 healthy, thriving, full-of-life, boys. My life is good. I want to live it on purpose without just saving the "leftovers" for my loved ones.

I'm thankful that God showed me this.

Well, Abi's after me to make her a smoothie...

God bless!