Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy 2010!


We're a little late in getting this out there but MERRY CHRISTMAS none the less, and a happy, happy,
happy New Year!

(Please pardon our backdrop. This was a very impromptu photo!)

We love you!


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Thank You Ms. Gwen, Lydia and Sara

At the Post Office, picking up the goodies!


Off to deliver the presents!


Judah loves cars! (That's Ken in the background)


Abi and Daniel play with the cars and Legos


Nice warm pajamas!















Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Link

I read this post today and thought I'd link to it here. This is something I've been passionate about for a long time. I wish I had more time to write my thoughts but it'll have to wait for now.

Soon I will share Nate's birth story, which I've never actually written out, but have been wanting to. It was very traumatic and difficult to overcome emotionally and physically. But as a result of it I have become a stronger, more educated person. It's been a long and interesting jurney.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Write That Down!

Every time I tell my mom something cute one of the kids says, that's what she tell me, "Write it down".

Today Kenny, Abi and I were listening to a CD of Sunday School songs. Sometimes my kids have trouble understanding certain English accents and when the song came on that goes, "A sunbeam, a sunbeam, Jesus wants me for a sunbeam..." Nate got a funny look on his face and asked, "Why does Jesus want me for a Zombie?"

Kenny had a not-so-funny moment the other day, but memorable just the same. He was having a rough day and just seemed out of sorts all afternoon. By suppertime he was obviously struggling. I gave him a hug and asked him why he was feeling so sad. His tears spilled over and he said, "It's just so hard being a big brother." Needless to say, he's been getting more hugs and cuddles as a result of that conversation.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Just Thinking

After 4 kids, I am becoming an expert at typing with one hand, cooking with one hand, and well, doing pretty much everything else with one hand, too.

One thing I am not good at is putting something on hold until I have a chance to get to it. Things like thoughts. I have trouble putting thoughts out of my mind and they tend to consume me if I'm not careful. I have so many thoughts running through my mind right now, besides the normal everyday ones. Sometimes I hear things and just want to go back and unhear them. I am learning to give these thoughts and feelings over to Jesus every day so that I can enjoy the gifts I have: family, friends, a wonderful church, an incredible husband who loves me and 4 beautiful, healthy children.

One of the things that is on my mind but I wish it weren't is a conversation I had with a woman the other evening. She is in her early 30's and very depressed. She is a Christian but has had a very difficult past. She was raped at the age of 3 and has had over 40 sexual partners in her life, one of which was a close family member. I'm sure our talk barely scratched the surface but I was left with a feeling of deep sadness for her. At least we were able to pray together and she left looking better than when she came. I'm still praying for a complete healing in her life and for healthy relationships for her.

Last week I heard about a young university student who gave birth about one month ago. It was her second baby; the first one was stillborn, or so the doctor told her, although she swears she heard her baby girl cry right after she was born. She was offered no explanation and no comfort.

Her second baby was thriving until she got a breast infection. She "longed after" something and didn't get it, so the superstition goes. She went to the hospital and the doctors scolded her for longing after something and then sliced open the side of her breast to "get the infection out". Now, she has no hope of nursing since the milk ducts and glands have probably been severed, not to mention the lingering infection and the immense pain she is feeling. I sent her some lanolin with a mutual friend, along with instructions on what to do from now on and my phone number. I hope she calls.

It's so sad that what we call a tragedy is just another day for some people. Lately I've been listening to Celine Dion's song, "A world to believe in". I look at my children and I feel such hope. Even though it may seem so at times, not everything is dark and evil.

Anyway, I was going to leave you with a link to the song I mentioned but I gotta run. Google it if you haven't heard it. It's a powerful song.

More to come. And I promise not to be so melancholy next time!

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Story of Evelyn Ayalguu's Birth

My due date was November the 11th but I started feeling the typical signs—lower achy back pain, on and off cramping and slight contractions-- as early as the 3rd. We thought the baby might make an appearance before the 11th and the thought made me happy but at the same time I really wasn’t ready.

My 3 previous births left me with severe vaginal tearing and I was not looking forward to going through another painful labor and recovery period. Before I became pregnant with Evelyn, I was scared of getting pregnant and giving birth again. But each time I came to God with these feelings I felt Him saying, “Trust me and I will heal you with the next baby.” All throughout my pregnancy Hetee prayed for me and blessed me over and over again. I had a very healthy pregnancy and felt the Holy Spirit guiding me each step of the way. Since I had no one to lean on professionally we read a lot and prayed for wisdom regarding my prenatal care, just like with my previous pregnancies.

On the night of the 7th, after several days of on again off again labor, I confided to Hetee that I was feeling scared and wished that I could just run away. Saying it out loud made me feel so much better. He prayed for me and assured me that he was with me and that I was not alone. This freed me in a way that my body began to accept the idea of labor. That night the contractions continued all night long, unlike before when they would stop during the night.

I got up to urinate with every other contraction or so all night long. The contractions were still pretty far apart and I was very calm and able to sleep most of the night. I got up around 7 in the morning and prayed and read my Bible. God spoke to me through Psalm 139:11, 12 Even if at times I couldn’t see Him, He could still see me.

I labored quietly over my Bible and a cup of coffee. Nate, our oldest son, 7, tiptoed into the kitchen and kept me company for a while. I didn’t tell him or Abi, 5, or Kenny, 3, that I was in labor because I didn’t want to get their hopes up if things suddenly stopped. I decided to visit some uplifting blogs of other women whom I admire and who have given birth naturally multiple times. One of these women happened to be online and very kindly offered me encouragement and advice. I was passing slightly pink tinged mucus with each contraction (they were still far from painful) so I woke Hetee up and told him. He got up and kept trying to shush the kids and keep them quiet. I told him I didn’t mind their chatter. I felt so much love for them and for Hetee. This was such a private and incredibly intimate family time for me. I just wanted to soak it all in. At this point I told the kids that the baby was coming and would probably be here before night.

We had made plans the previous week to send the kids to the neighbors’, but Nate had told me that he wanted to stay home and be with me. He said he wanted to help daddy. He was a bit scared, having been there when his other siblings were born. He remembered vaguely how I had been in pain and he said it made him uncomfortable. I reminded him that he could go to the neighbors’ and play with his friend but he insisted that he wanted to stay. We had talked A LOT throughout my pregnancy about labor and pain and I think it helped prepare me as much as it did him.

Hetee called our nanny/helper and she came over, even though it was Sunday, her day off. She was excited about being here for the big event. By lunchtime I realized that the contractions were indeed the real deal. My helper got the kids their lunch. Hetee and I walked in the hallway (it’s very wide, warm and clean; not typical of apartment bldgs in Mong.) of our apartment building. We went up and down a few flights of stairs and I felt that it helped open things up. I wanted to go back to the be close to the toilet (I had been emptying bowels and bladder all morning and was eating and drinking a lot, too) so we went back inside and my helper, Mungunu, got Kenny and Abi ready to go to our friends’ apartment the next entrance over. It was around 1 pm and the contractions were demanding more concentration. Hetee prayed for me, that the contractions would be effective and that dilation would be swift.

We had called my mom earlier to let her know what was going on and told her to come but not to hurry. Mom had been with me during the other 3 births and I was glad she’d be able to be here for this one, too. She and my dad arrived while Hetee and I were in the bathroom. I was on the toilet up to this point but had just decided to move to the shower. I was very lucid and communicative between the contractions so I thought second stage was still a long way off.

The shower felt good and I got a few hard contractions while sitting on a stool and holding the shower head over my tummy then my back. I felt a lot of pressure but the hot water took the edge off and I felt like I never wanted to leave. At one point I told Hetee, “I don’t want to get out. Please don’t make me get out.” I stayed in there for about 30 minutes.

I began to feel the urge to push and told Hetee, between contractions, that we should go to the bedroom. He had put a lot of thought into making me as comfortable as possible and had come up with the perfect little nest for me to kneel on next to our bed. We moved to the room and I was still very in control when transition hit. It was actually hard to tell exactly when transition happened because I didn’t get the panicky, trembly feeling that comes with transition. My body began to bear down but I was able to suppress the urge to push by breathing and vocalizing through about 4 strong contractions. I wanted my uterus to do all the work and it was doing very good on its own. Hetee said he saw the bag of waters bulge during a contraction but I thought he was wrong because it was just too fast. I had to pee again so I went back to the bathroom, peed and then went back into the room. I was moving fast between contractions and talking to Hetee the whole time. It was unreal!

I got back to my nest and kneeled down with my head resting on the bed. One strong contraction ruptured the bag of waters and I realized that mom and Hetee hadn’t noticed. I was in the middle of telling them when her head started crowning. I supported her head with my hand and mom ran to get some toilet paper to wipe some fecal matter (that’s a mother’s love for ya!). Hetee held the baby’s head and told me to stop pushing, to breathe and wait for another contraction. I did and she shot out so fast that she slipped through his hands and onto the floor and did a little spin. In his mad dash to get my nest ready Hetee accidentally put the chux pads out plastic side up, so when my water broke it didn’t get absorbed and it made everything slippery. I was kneeling/squatting several inches off the floor and I had the feeling she might fall. When I saw that she did I started crying and yelling at him, “You dropped her?! How could you!”

I told Hetee and mom where the receiving blankets were and they wrapped her. Nate came in wide-eyed and so did my dad (dad, always the joker, said it was like giraffe birth, plopping out onto the ground. It really wasn’t that bad, though!). I reminded Hetee to check the time. It was 3:40 in the afternoon. Mom went to boil the scissors and string for the cord. I couldn’t believe how beautiful Evelyn was. She was perfectly peaceful as we sat back to nurse. I felt so good and full of energy. After the about 20 minutes we severed the cord. The placenta took a while to come and Hetee gave me some Advil for the after pains which were infinitely worse than the labor pains. Then he lined the toilet with a garbage bag and I sat down on the toilet and delivered the placenta approximately 2 and a half hours later. I was feeling lightheaded so he took my blood pressure but couldn’t get a reading. He tried again and by this time I was almost falling off the toilet. I started going into shock from blood loss so he got me back in bed and covered me up. I felt like a train was going through my head. He gave me (a LOT of) liquid chlorophyll to drink and after lying in bed for about 10 minutes I started to feel fine again. We decided to call a doctor friend to come and administer something to stop the blood. We live across the street from the hospital so she called someone who was on duty then and they came right over and gave me a shot. Looking back, I may have been ok without the shot but it was Hetee’s call. He was in charge and he did the right thing. I am so happy to have him as my coach and birth partner. I truly couldn’t have done it without him.

Even with the scare we had at the end (with losing blood); God kept His promise to heal me through this birth. I had a tiny tear that’s healing up fine and the labor was nowhere near as painful as the previous 3 were. Emotionally, I feel empowered. I have been given a gift that no one can take away. Besides having been given a healthy baby girl I have been given the gift of confidence that comes from obeying God even in the face of fear.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

She's Here!


Evelyn Ayalguu
Born Sunday, Nov. 8, 2009
at home, into daddy's hands.
Weight: 3.8 kg
Length: 51 cm


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009

What's been making me smile

  • Abi is reading!
  • Baby's bed is all painted,names (English and Mongolian) are all picked out, and everything is washed.
  • Seeing hundreds of lives touched and changed at the G12 conference and encounter following a few weeks ago in Ulaan Baatar.
  • The snow. Snow always reminds me of my sins being washed whiter than snow.
  • Homemade waffles with the best tasting Russian jam ever!
  • Being a channel through which God blesses my family, my church and other people.
  • Nate's new Wall-e robot. It's so cute! (thanks again, Lydia!)
  • Kenny is turning into such a big boy and loves to help me cook. He says he's going to teach the baby lots of things like Christmas is Jesus' birthday. Cute!

I'm sure there are a ton of other things making me smile but I gotta run for now... What's been making you smile?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Yes!

We moved! The apartment we were praying for became availiable and we moved in the night before Hetee left for UB to start translating. I left the next day to join him and to translate as well. The kids stayed with my parents for the week we were gone so unpacking took a backseat until we got back and were able to focus on that. Now we're pretty much settled and Nate says that when he uses the bathroom he doesn't feel like he's at someone's house anymore. =)

Thanks for your prayers! Our apartment is in a building that is owned by the Erel cement company. The director of the company lives on the same floor as us. =) It's clean, warm (very important!) and affordable. The building and parking spaces are enclosed and we have a guard to keep an eye on things. It's nice to have a safe place for the kids to play. Best of all, we are now neighbors with our friends, the Robinsons, an awesome American family who's kids are friends with our kids. We are also much closer to town--the bank, stores etc. Makes life easier.

Tomorrow we'll be traveling to UB to renew Abi's passport. Hopefully it will be a short trip and I can get back to my nesting. Only 5 more weeks till Baby Girl is born! We're all excited, although I'm not too thrilled about labor. Hopefully I'll be sick and tired of being pregnant by then that labor will seem like a really good idea. =)

Hetee and I still can't decide upon a name and I'm starting to get anxious. I can never seem to rest until we've got the name picked out. There is one name I really like but Hetee could take it or leave it. We'll see if I can persuade him. =)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Just a little update

Thank you to those who have been praying for our apartment situation. We looked at a few leads yesterday but they all fell through right around bedtime. Then right before we were about to go to bed, Hetee's phone rang with another lead. We will go and look at it today. We are down to the wire and having to wait is not easy for me. =) After the move we will be in Ulaan Baatar for a week of ministry so we really need to get this thing going.

School has been going great, now that we're all adjusting. I still have to plan a lot but the kids seem to be enjoying it. Every day I pray for God's wisdom and I can feel the Holy Spirit directing me as we go. We have our days but all in all, it's been good.

We have been memorizing Scripture more as a part of school, which is something I've been wanting to do. At first I didn't think Kenny (3) would be interested, but he has become very good at it and can memorize and quote as good as anybody. So far the kids have memorized 3 Scriptures. I hope to memorize about 30 throughout the school year.

I'm so excited about a new project that myself and my G12 group of women will be starting soon! A little background: About a month ago I got a call from an OBGYN who goes to our church. She was calling from work to ask for help for a woman who had given birth but was unable to take her baby and go home because she was so poor and had absolutely nothing to clothe or wrap the baby in. Since Mongolian mothers swaddle their newborns, the doctor asked me if I could send a swaddling blanket over right away. I sent over a couple baby blankets and some baby clothes but I was left thinking that there must be a bigger way that we can help. I found out from the doctor that this happens a few times a month so my ladies and I decided that we will help to provide for this need. We can't wait to get started and bless the community!

Well, I'm off to start breakfast and school. Have a good day all!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

So tell me what ya want, what ya really, really, want

Over the past couple weeks several people have asked us what we would like for the new baby. We appreciate everyone's kindness SO much and, in an effort to make it easier for everyone, I have devised a Target wishlist at target.com (accessed by "Melanie A Kocke"). Since they do not ship to Mongolia, if you order something you will have to have it sent to yourself and then ship it to our address (it's in my blog side bar). The things that I've chosen are small and can be packed/sent pretty easily. My list is also set on "public" so you can access it from a target store as well.

I don't have many clothes picked out, since we don't know if we are having a boy or a girl. If you'd like, please feel free to browse the "for momma" list. Momma likes surprises, too. =)

Thanks guys, for making this time extra special for us. We love and appreciate you all!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

What's been making me smile...

  • Reaching week 30 with nary a discomfort and feeling the Holy Spirit so near and helpful during this pregnancy and the demands of my life right now.
  • Listening to Kenny tell me about the car he's going to get when he grows up. He said that daddy, Nate and Abi will ride in the back but I get to ride in the front with him. How cool is that?
  • hugging and kissing my kids and husband every morning and telling them for the first time that day that I love them. What an incredible thing!
  • This song
  • A young Mong. girl asking me if they celebrate Christmas in places where it doesn't snow.
  • Feeling my baby kick and move and counting down the days until he/she makes their appearance.
  • Abi and Nate selling their art and sunflowers (that Nate planted all by himself) at my cell group and making a killing.
  • French toast with powdered sugar sprinkled on top.
  • Visiting with my friend, Maryellen
  • Mom's encouragement

What's been making you smile?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

1 Day Down...

179 more to go!

We kicked off our first day of school today with the excitement and enthusiasm only a 7 year-old, a 5 year-old and a 3-year-old could supply. The kids were awake at 6 (!) this morning and ready to get going. But, the sweet and considerate little people they are, (They really are. I'm not being sarcastic!) they stayed in bed until I was up about 20 minutes after. Then they asked me if they could get up and start their day. As sleepy as I was, we got up and I made pancakes while they poured over their new school supplies like it was Christmas morning.

We had fancy pancakes with whipped cream and Russian blackberry and strawberry preserves and homemade maple syrup. After breakfast we gave the kids their September 1st gifts (it's a Mongolian thing) that consisted of snacks and sweets that they normally don't have. Then we got started and, to my delight, had a pretty smooth morning. I had a few things prepared for Kenny and, I'm glad I did. He was right in the middle of everything and wanted to take part in all the excitement. He is one busy guy.

I've decided to homeschool 4 days a week and have Fridays off. I know of one family who did this and I thought it'd be a good idea to do it while my kids are little. With a new one coming soon I think I'll really appreciate the extra time for myself and to adjust to having another little one around. We'll still have some structure on our day off, only it will be very relaxed and probably include a lot of reading and educational games. I think it's important to give ourselves a day to rest as ministry families tend to be busiest on weekends and don't really have Saturday's off much less Sundays. We'll see how this goes...

I REALLY wanted to take pictures today but I cannot find my digital camera battery charger anywhere. So, since I couldn't take any pictures I just let myself enjoy the moment without obsessing over preserving it. My children are so awesome and I look forward to working closely with them throughout the year. They are wise beyond their years and they love God and others.

It's going to be an interesting year. One full of changes, adjustments and learning for our family. Please pray for us as we begin this homeschooling journey and as we prepare to move soon. We are looking for an apartment to rent that is more affordable than the place where we are now. I hate to move but if it's worth it, then so be it. Don't worry, we have lots of help and my husband won't let me do any heavy lifting. =)

God is in control!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Granola

These days I've been making and eating a lot of granola. Yogurt is plentiful this time of year and mixed with homemade granola it makes a great summer breakfast or mid-day snack. We are sometimes able to find Musli (German granola) here but it is very pricey and somewhere between baby #2 and baby #3 we were no longer able to afford such luxuries. I'm only half kidding.

Anyway, after digging around on the internet and using my imagination (which I happen to have in large quantity) I came up with a simple way to make granola. It's way cheaper and it tastes so much better. (No, really, it does!) It's much better for you than the processed things found on the shelf and it cooks up in about 15 minutes. You'll want to have all the ingredients set up before you start because you have to almost constantly stir it. But you can always take the pan off the burner when you need to and pick up later where you left off. Ask me how I know this.

First, here's what you need: (all measurements are approx. Ingredients can be omited and/or substituted as desired)

  • about 2 TBS sunflower or olive oil
  • 3 cups rolled oats (doesn't have to be quick cooking)
  • 1/2 cup millet
  • 1/4 cup hulled sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, pumpkin seeds or other nuts
  • 1/2 cup raisins and/or other dried fruit, chopped
  • 1/2 -1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • dash of salt
  • approx 3 TBSP honey

Directions:

In a medium size skillet on high heat the oil. Add the oats and millet and heat throughout stirring constantly for about 3-5 minutes. Add the nuts, seeds and fruit and stir for another minute or so. Take off the heat and and sprinkle in vanilla, cinnamon, salt and honey. Stir to blend. Empty contents of skillet into a 9x13 baking pan and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Break apart and store in an airtight container in cool, dry place.

And voila, there you have it! If you're used to the storebought brands then maybe it'll be a little different. I haven't had American granola in years so I've forgotten what it tastes like. It's probably a bit sweeter than this one but, you can always add more honey or a little brown sugar.

Please let me know if you make this and how it turns out. Also any ides for things to add would be appreciated!

Monday, August 24, 2009

...And now we continue with our regular programing

The blog break, unintentional as it was, is now over, I'm happy to say. I feel good, as I get back to writing about the happenings in Mongolia and the happy little goings on in our household. I still don't know if I will be able to blog as much as I would like to but, I've decided that blogging is something that I want to work into the upper part of my list of priorities. If my little break has taught me anything it's that I need to make time for reflective writing. Not that I'm great at it, but it helps me to process things when I can't (or don't feel like) talk to someone about it face to face.

The summer has been busy mostly because I have been teaching English. For the last 8 weeks I've been teaching an English TOEFL preparation course for extra cash. It has gone well and tomorrow is my last day. The kids and I are excited to be able to have more time together. I only teach 2 hours and 15 minutes a day but it feels so long when I'm away from home. I never imagined that I would be a working mom but am learning that sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do to get through. God has been my rock and Hetee has been wonderful. We also have a wonderful girl who helps us with the kids and housework. She's my angel. =)

We are preparing to start homeschooling on September 1st in accordance with the Mongolian school year. This is something that I have really been struggling over. I have days when my confidence soars then I have days when I just feel so overwhelmed. And we haven't even started yet! I haven't purchased any curriculum since we have inherited so many schooling books from other foreigners who have left the field. Needless to say this has left me with a lot of work upfront, to sort and plan lessons for our first and second grader. Then, there's Kenny. Anybody know what to do with a curious 3-year-old while the others are doing school? I have some activity books and computer games to keep him busy for maybe an hour but beyond that, we'll just have to see.

We are planning to move our family into an apartment (we live in a small house with a yard now) over the winter. This will save some money and hopefully allow us to buy a car before the baby arrives in November. Please pray for us to find an affordable apartment and for the move.

Thanks for tuning in! More to come...

Friday, July 31, 2009

Well, that was weird

I know it's been a while. Life has been...full I guess would be the correct term. Lately I've been either too busy to update my blog or just feeling a bit melancholy and introverted. Luckily I now have some time on my hands and I am feeling much better and less tired emotionally.

Part of the reason I was feeling so "off" is that I was going through a time of extreme fatigue. It's a long story but I'm pretty sure it had something to do with my hormones going out of whack. I started having night sweats (something I had never experienced before with my other pregnancies) and after about 4 nights of waking up soaked several times a night I got to the point that I could barely sleep and felt very tired during the day. It got so bad that I was bedridden for 3 days and could barely sit up to eat or drink anything. Liquid chlorophyll and electrolyte drink helped.

It was right before that or right after, I can't remember now, that I had a something of a nervous breakdown in a store. I had stopped to buy a snack on my way to school one morning and as I took my money out to pay I noticed that one of my bills had something written on it. In Mongolian it said, "May this money bring you death". I started hyperventilating and crying. Before I knew it I was sobbing in the arms of the elderly storekeeper. I felt like the room was closing in and my legs wouldn't work.

I wasn't upset because I was scared that the money would make me die, but the thought that someone would pass this bill on to me, or maybe even write it and give it to me on purpose just made me so sad. All of a sudden I felt so alone and desperate. Thankfully, my little episode was short lived and I was able to make it home to tell Hetee and eventually smile about it.

So anyway, long story short, I looked up the night sweats online and found out that they were caused by unbalanced hormone levels. I thought back over the week and remembered that I had started taking flax seed oil supplements. I googled them and found out that they're really not safe to take during pregnancy and that they contain phyto-estrogens. I stopped taking them and within 48 hours the night sweats and anxiety subsided. I think the Holy Spirit helped me figure this one out. I thought I was going nuts for a while there. =)

More to come, soon. Lots of things are happening here and I will do my best to update you all on a more regular basis. Please pray for me to get a new computer. Our old one is almost 7 years old and so slow. It's been fixed several times but now it's time to replace it with one that the kids can use for school and I can use for work, etc.

Lots of love!!!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Happy Birthday Hetee!

Hetee's birthday was this past Thursday. He turned 32! He's not big on birthday celebrations but I did manage to convince him to have a few friends over for some homemade cake. We all had a good time and even Hetee admitted it was fun!

10 things I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE about my Sweetheart
  1. He never pressures me to change to fit into Mongolian culture. He accepts me and loves me for who I am.
  2. He cleans fish very well and handles that and other yucky jobs without complaining one bit.
  3. He carries all my heavy stuff when we go grocery shopping at the market (a kg of this and a kg of that adds up to usually about 15 kgs, or about 35 lbs.)
  4. He works long hours translating to earn extra money for his family.
  5. He looks for opportunities to spend time with his kids. He invests time and energy in them every day.
  6. He eats my culinary inventions and experiments most of the time.
  7. He's incredibly happy about becoming a daddy again.
  8. He loves to watch all kinds of movies, just like me.
  9. He knows when I'm feeling overwhelmed and he always steps up to help.
  10. He fears and trusts God.
Happy Birthday, my Love! Wishing you many more happy years to come!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Whoa, Surprising!

So, I just turned 20 weeks and so far I've gained... 22 lbs?! Just to give you an idea of how much that is for me, I normally am 7 or 8 months along before I gain that much (I can't remember exactly but I gain about 35-40 lbs all together for each pregnancy).

But wait! Before you label me a hog, there's a simple explanation for this. My prepregnant weight this time around was 110, which is a bit underweight for my height (5'8"). I was having trouble gaining weight because of a finicky appetite and (ahem...) an addiction to coffee. I was drinking up to 5 cups of the stuff a day and therefore not eating properly and feeling horrible most of the time. Not just the coffee but the sugar was literally making me sick and unable to eat.

Anyway, all this to say that I stopped drinking coffee the day I found out I was pregnant. I stopped cold turkey and didn't even crave it. After about a week or so my appetite picked up and I started feeling a whole lot better. And happily for me, this all lead to a small but steady weight gain, even through the first few weeks of morning sickness.

So, here I am, 5 months pregnant, 5'8" and weighing 132 lbs. Although I've gained more that I "should have" in the 1st trimester, I feel that it's the right amount for me. I'm not eating junky foods. I do eat whole fat yogurt and milk and I use butters and oils somewhat liberally to help with skin elasticity (it's sooooo dry here and this really takes a toll on my skin). I eat lots of protein and know by experience that what I eat now affects my body post partum. The healthier I eat now, the quicker I will bounce back from childbirth. I'm not too worried about what the weight gain charts say. I feel good and am so thankful to be in this place of my life right now.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Happy Birthday, Kenny-Man!

Kenny's birthday was on the 20th of June. We celebrated on the 19th with a small family party. For now, it would seem that we are Kenny's favorite people. He's more of the shy type and doesn't enjoy being the center of attention...






10 reasons why I love me some Kenny:
  1. he's super cuddly
  2. his favorite transformer is Bumblebee
  3. he comes to find me during the day just to tell me he loves me
  4. his brother is his best friend
  5. he wants to be just like his daddy
  6. he loves pancakes, just like mommy
  7. he's caring and sweet
  8. he loves to show off his muscles
  9. he's super excited about becoming a big brother
  10. he's a handsome little man who is going to grow up to do great things!


Happy Birthday. Sweet Kenneth Urnuun!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

What's been making me smile

  • after almost 3 weeks of sickness (mumps and a mystery virus), the children are feeling better and I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. Please keep praying; we're not completely out of the woods yet. Abi's mumps have moved to the other side and Kenny (the last one to catch the mumps) still has both sides swollen.
  • A couple days ago Nate and I started our summer reading program. We picked 5 books in both English and Mongolian for him to read a little every day. Our program will end in 3 weeks and he'll receive an erector set that he's been wanting. It does my heart good to see him reading so well in 2 languages.
  • Our crops are doing good and almost everything is growing. It's still early but I think we're going to have a great harvest!
  • This morning, after a fitful night's sleep with Kenny, Hetee took the kids and gave them their breakfast. I went back to bed for another 3 hours! I love that man.
  • Dinner with our friends last night. What was meant to be a date for Hetee and I turned into a dinner for 4. We had a great time and talked till almost midnight.
  • Molly is doing fine after eating what we think was a poisoned mouse. For about 24 hours we thought we might lose her but she pulled through! One life down, 8 to go...
  • Abi and her cute quips. The other day Nate was complaining about the clothes I picked out for him. Abi passed him in the hall and under her breath said, "don't bite the hand, Nate" (a line from Madagascar). Nate persisted to disagree with me and I told him that he would wear what i picked or stay home. Abi said in a louder voice, "You bit the hand, Nate, you bit the hand!" Laughter all around!
  • When Kenny slaps his hand to his forehead and exclaims "O boje moi" ("oh my god" in Russian).
  • My ultimate, all-time favorite highlight for this post is feeling the baby move! I have been enjoying our little one's movement for about 2 weeks now and it's such an incredible feeling that I never get used to. It's just cool. =)
What's been making you smile? I REALLY do want to know.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

I'm Growing!

I just passed week 17 feel like my tummy popped out overnight. I can still squeeze into one pair of jeans that were too big and long before. Now they're longer and drag on the ground cause the waist band fits under my tummy. It makes me feel like I'm going to lose my pants which is not a very good feeling when you're walking home from the grocery store with a heavyish tote in each hand. But it's all good. My friend Lydia has so kindly offered to send me some maternity clothes. They should be here in a couple weeks. In the meantime, I'll find something to wear, I'm sure.

Today I went shopping for maternity undies. I found some at a small stall in the shopping center. They were one-size-fits-hippo and looked entirely too big for me at this point but I got them anyway, you know, to save for later when I would eventually need them. I got home and tried them on, just to get an idea of how they fit and, oh my, the big things FIT. Talk about a reality check!

Now I have to be really careful. I tend to do dumb things until I really realize just how big I am. I remember when I was pregnant for Kenny, right after my tummy "popped out", I slammed in in the door of the refrigerator. Granted I was trying to hide something from one of the kids so I was really close to the door. But still, I felt really stupid.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who has been praying for our family. Kenny has fully recovered other than a small spot right under his bottom lip. It stays moist (cause boys drool and girls rule) so it's taking longer to heal.

Abi and Nate had a good 3 days in Ulaan Baatar with their Mongolian grandparents but both returned home with a fever. Abi, it seems caught Nate's mumps. Sigh. And Nate apparently has what Kenny had and now has a tongue full of sores. Yesterday they both had fevers again. Nate was 102 and Abi was 103 but today they seem much better.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Little Update

Thanks for the prayers! Kenny is slowly recovering. His appetite is picking up but he still can't eat well because of the mouth sores. He asked for his favorite thing to eat, bread and peanut butter, many times during the day today and yesterday but each attempt to eat it was met with wails of frustration and pain. He's still very clingy and fussy so prayers for my sanity during this time are much appreciated!

Abi and Nate have been in Ulaan Baatar visiting their Mongolian grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousins. They left yesterday and will be back on Sunday or Monday. Hetee will be preaching at our church in UB and will bring them back with him. I miss them already but it is nice to have this time with Kenny as he recovers. Since the house is a bit more quiet with them gone he's been able to sleep more during the day. And I've been squeezing in some naps myself, too. =)

Today Hetee and I saw our precious new one through ultrasound. All is fine; there's one baby, not two. =) I would have loved to have twins but, oh well, not this time anyway. The baby did not move very much for us. Only his/her arms moved in a boxing/punching motion. So cute! One leg came up then down again once. I can't wait to chew (gently, haha) on those toes!

I have been having a stretching/pulling sort of pain on the right side of my abdomen. We found out today that it is exactly where the placenta lies. It could have something to do with that. As long as I take it easy (yeah right!) the pain is nothing more than a nuisance.

In other news, I am ABSOLUTELY in love with the song "Won't Stop" by OneRepublic. Check it out! It's catchy!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Prayers Needed

Three days ago Kenny started having a fever of about 99-101. The fever came and went throughout the last few days and nights. About the second night I gave him tylenol. Since Nate had mumps the week before we assumed Kenny was coming down with the mumps, too. But it became clear that Kenny was in a lot more discomfort than Nate was.

Then yesterday I noticed a little sore right below his bottom lip. After checking his mouth we discovered several more little canker-like sores on his lips and tongue. At this point his symptoms pointed to hand,foot and mouth disease (coxsackievirus; enterovirus 71). I called the American doctor in town and set an appointment for this morning.

After checking Kenny, Dr. Pham discovered that Kenny's throat is also infected. He doesn't think it's anything extremely serious. Since we can't get a lab test here we have no way of knowing exactly if it is hand,foot and mouth disease or not. It may be strep throat and the canker sores (so far I've counted 10!)could be from the high fever he was having, since he doesn't have any sores on his hands and feet.

Whatever it is, Kenny is one miserable little guy. Please believe with us for a quick recovery and health for the rest of our family.

We appreciate your prayers!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

This and That

Today we went out to survey the effects of the recent dip in temperature and to our surprise, our carrots and turnips/beets are sprouting. Also some lettuce seems to be poking through as well. It's nice to see that after last Wednesday's snowy/windy/rainy weather. Hopefully the cold spells and frosts are behind us and we can get on with growing our little crops.

So far, we are looking forward to harvesting: potatoes, carrots, turnips, beets, radishes, lettuce, broccoli, spinach, onions, garlic, and some hot peppers.

Still, we have yet to plant tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers. We want to wait until we know the warm weather is here to stay. Soon!

As first time gardeners, Hetee and I sometimes wonder if we were too ambitious planting such a variety of things. Neither of us have particularly green thumbs and I especially have been known to kill plants despite my good intentions. But this time, I'm encouraged and have seen that with a little effort, things really can grow around me. =)

The last few days I've been feeling the baby move. It's such an awesome feeling that I never get used to. =) My tummy is expanding and on some days, the stretching ligaments can be very uncomfortable. But I see it as a reminder to take it easy (and make other people do stuff for me haha!)

My friend, Amanda, was here visiting this week and left today. For the past 2 years she has been living and teaching English in UB. Her time in Mongolia is over and she will be returning to the States on Sunday. We don't know when we'll see each other again but hopefully it won't be too long. Amanda, good luck with eberything and I hope you don't peel too bad about leabing Mongolia... =)

All for now...duty calls! Actually it's cuddle/sleepytime for me and Kenny-- a very important part of the day!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Promises

During our Singapore trip last March I was thrilled to swim with a beautiful pink dolphin named Han. She was so gentle and left a huge impression on me. My experience was an unexpected gift from God.

I promised pictures and I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get on that. I know, I know, I'm like a cloud that promises rain but doesn't deliver, haha.


Even though these two pics didn't do the experience justice, enjoy!

Here is Han and I, getting to know each other. I was shaking and choking back the urge to cry. I did have a good cry afterward. =)


Han let me give her a hug. Her trainer was really nice. I think his name was Billabong. =)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Heartbreaking, but with a Happy Ending


This is Odko, pictured here with her 8 month old daughter. When Odko was born she was abandoned by her mother. She was later taken back in by her family but remained an outcast. All her life she has been mistreated because of her malformed face. Everywhere she goes children throw rocks at her and call her a"witch".

She's been coming to church, her only place of solace, for a little over a year. Slowly she has opened up to us and allowed us to love her. When her baby was born, again she was rejected by her family. As far as I know, she is not married or in any kind of relationship.

When the baby was a few months old, she became very sick. The doctors told Odko that the baby had pneumonia and fluid in her lungs. They asked if they could "help her die". They insisted that the baby should not have to go through life with such deformities, that she were better off dead. Odko refused their offer and immediately took her baby out of the hospital. Since then the baby has recovered and looks very healthy.

Every Sunday when I see these 2 I can't help but smile. Abi calls Odko "the lady with the heart-shaped face". We talk about the things other mommies talk about: kids, hand-me-downs, and nap times.

Odko and her beautiful baby girl have taught me and my kids a lesson about how special all God's creatures are. No matter the shape of their face.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

What's been making me smile...

  • Mothers' day, and all the handmade presents and drawings I got. And the massage! Thanks Babe!
  • Window shopping for maternity clothes online
  • Friday family nights! We eat a wacky dinner then play games and color together.
  • We have been getting Nick Jr. in the mornings now. Hello, Diego and Dora! I hope it lasts a while!
  • Spending the day with mom, just talking and eating.
  • Sunny weather, at least for now!
  • "The Office" bloopers on youtube
  • Kenny and Abi and their scary faces
  • My indoor flowers are sprouting! And my bean sprouts are growing good. At least I'm not totally incapable of growing something!
  • Chatting with my sisters. I need to do that more often!
  • Getting positive feedback on my kids' behavior. It is worth the hours of discipline and teaching put in!
  • Nate is about to complete 1st grade and can read and write in Mongolian. His English is lagging a bit behind but not as much as I thought it would. He pushes himself and can read anything in both languages if he really wants to. His math skills are great and he loves numbers. I'm so proud of him!
What's been making YOU smile? Please share!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Yesterday the weather was so nice and hot that we broke out the kids inflatable pool. The boys enjoyed a good 2 hours of strong sunshine in the pool. Abi was at grandma and grandpa's so she missed out this time.



We also planted our peas...

Then, this morning we watched in dismay as the weather plummeted to negative 3 degrees F...



So much for the peas. Or maybe not. That's weather for you in Mongolia. In the Spring, Mongolians say you can experience all four seasons in one day.

As I was marveling over this crazy Mongolian weather earlier today I wondered what my neighbors thought of this crazy American woman in her p.js., standing in a snowstorm, taking pictures of a snow covered inflatable pool.

New Curtains!

Yay!

Thanks to mom and her sewing machine (and her generosity for the material!), I have new kitchen curtains!

It took a lot of time for me to complete this project, since I had to work at mom's on the other side of town. But it was worth it to get exactly what I wanted. =)

Take a look!









































Here, Abi, Kenny and Nate are enjoying arts and crafts time with some goodies they received recently in a care package. Thank you Aunt Lydia and Aunt Tracy!

Seeing the Stars

Yesterday I came across a story that I thought was pretty neat. It was about a young bride during the time of WW2. Her new husband had been assigned to an Army base in the dessert of California and she insisted on going with him. Her family tried to convince her she'd be more happy at home back east but there would be no changing her mind.

The only place available for them to live was in a run down little cabin near an Indian village. Her husband was gone for weeks at a time and she was left to face the harsh desert conditions alone. She felt that she had nothing in common with the Indian women of the village so she kept her distance. It wasn't long before desperation with living conditions and loneliness set in. She wrote to her mother saying that she wanted to come home. A short time later she received an answer. Her mother simply wrote these words:

Two men looked through prison bars;
One saw mud, the other saw stars.

The young bride read the words over and over again and made an important decision. She made up her mind to see the stars in her situation instead of focusing on the mud. As she did this it opened up her world to new relationships with the Indian women and their customs. It filled her with hope for her little family's future and gave her a different view of the desert. Not that the desert had changed. It was still the harsh, wild land that she had so hated in the past. But now her attitude was different and that was all that had been standing in the way of her happiness.

I see myself in this little story. For the most part, I am happy with life but there are times when I start to focus on the mud and not the stars. Many times things don't add up the way I would like them to. Especially as a new bride in Mongolia, I came to the realization fast that life is what you make it. Life is not always easy (especially in a 3rd world country) and happy families and happy mothers don't just materialize out of thin air. My attitude and my ability to adapt were going to be tested and I'd better get a grip. This has caused me to grow up even though some days I wanted to hang on to the fantasy rather than see reality. But as I've matured as a wife and a mother I can see how I've acquired a spirit of quiet contentment, even when the mud seems more evident than the stars.

I'm still learning a lot. I am working on not complaining and not worrying about things I cannot change. Life is full of hurts and things that just suck. These things are beyond my control but one thing isn't, and that is my attitude. It's the one thing I can control. And I'm working on that.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Week 13 and the Darkhan Transportation System

I just passed 13 weeks and am slowly starting to feel a bit more energetic. However, one thing that's been sapping my energy lately (and I promised myself I would not complain about this!) is not having a car. We had to sell our car a few months ago and we have been using taxis and walking a lot. I don't mind walking, especially now that they weather has warmed up. It's actually quite pleasant out if you can manage to avoid the sand storms that are an inevitable part of springtime in Mongolia.

Walking as a family to church or to an appointment is another matter entirely. It takes so long to get from point A to B and sometimes something that would have taken us 10 minutes in our car takes us all afternoon. Getting a taxi is not very easy either. In Darkhan the taxi drivers pack as many people in their cars as possible and children under a certain age ride on their parents' lap for free. Well, when the drivers see a family of 5 on the side of the road they immediately think that we're not worth it because we have too many kids. So they don't stop.

Also in Darkhan all the taxi drivers work on a loop. They have a certain path they take and they don't like to go off the loop to take people to different destinations. I know, it's rediculous and so backward and it frustrates me to no end. When we do get a taxi we ask them to take us to our destination and agree on the fee. It's still very cheap and beats walking when we're in a hurry.

Ah, well, enough about that. Week 13 and feeling great! I'm getting lots of exercise and eating a lot. Nausea is almost gone but it comes back if I get a little hungry or too tired. Or if I smell the garbage can. Or the meat market. But those were pretty much an issue before the morning sickness, anyway.

Hormones are working at top speed, it seems. Physically, I feel a lot more pregnant than 13 weeks. Emotionally, I have to stay grounded in the Word of God to not lose my cool at the drop of a hat. And even then, I still fail. I feel mostly worried about everything. I've always had a wild imagination, always thinking of things that could go wrong. Staying in the Word and taking my thoughts captive helps. Prayers for me in this area much appreciated!

More on life in Mongolia coming soon...

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Refining

The last few days have been filled with pensive moments for me. On the church front, we have been experiencing many changes, most of them sudden and quite unexpected. Some of our leaders and members have decided to leave us. Some for reasons out of their control and not related to sin or rebellion. Others, because of rebellion and a lack of will to submit to our leadership. It's a sad thing but we have been aware of God's sovereignty during this period and have felt His peace like never before. There have been some tears but we're still able to laugh and smile and move forward. We've realized that we don't get surprised as easily as we used to. We're learning to trust God more.

One year ago God rid our church of a spirit of adultery. As a result many people, including people who were in sin, left. Over the course of the year many others left. Now, God has showed us that this is the year for rooting out deceiving spirits. More people are leaving. And undoubtedly, more will leave as God continues to purify us. I believe He is more concerned with having us live a holy lives than giving us a large church. And that's comforting.

On the family front, Nate had to go back to the dentist this week. A molar with a temporary filling got infected and he developed an abscess. We took care of the infection by giving him lots of carrot juice to drink. The dentist was able to drain the abscess without cutting the gum and now we've been going for follow up cleaning visits every day this week. Hopefully the infection will go away soon and he'll be able to get the permanent filling.

Yesterday Kenny had his first visit to the dentist. He had some discoloration on his 4 front teeth that we wanted to check out. The dentist said it was the beginning of cavities (what?!) so she put some solution on them that turns the teeth brown, but stop the cavities from progressing. It doesn't look pretty but it will save him from pain and problems later on.

Abi's teeth seem fine but I haven't been able to convince her to open up for the dentist. I don't know why the boys, especially Nate, have had so much trouble with their teeth. My kids eat very little sweets and we only drink water at home and they brush regularly. The only thing I can think of is that maybe I could have benefited from taking fluoride while pregnant. But I've heard so many conflicting things about supplemental fluoride so not sure about that. Nate has 6 permanent teeth that are very strong and healthy so that's comforting.

Abi spent the night at mom and dad's. Kenny and I are going to make our way over there later on and mom and I are going to work on my kitchen curtains today.

Pregnancy is going great. I hit the 3 month mark today! The sickies are starting to subside but come back if I get hungry. So it's common knowledge at our house: keep the pregnant lady fed and no one gets hurt.

When you think about it, please pray for our family and the church. We are definitely going through a growing and purification period and we need God's grace and wisdom more than ever. Sometimes it feels like I have to be super human and it gets so overwhelming. Hetee and I appreciate your prayers!