the Vernon Journal

Serving the Kingdom in Southeast Asia

Filtering by Category: Abi

A Different Kind of Milestone: Noodles and Chopsticks

Every once in a while, I encounter a surreal moment where I think to myself, "Wow, my life is really weird!" Today was one of those moments. I had prepared a lunch of spicy fried noodles with egg and peanuts for Abi's lunch. (As I write, I'm realizing that this lunch, in itself, would probably be classified by most of  our readers as unusual, especially for a 3 year old, but this is normal for us.) Anyone who knows anything about Asian food, knows that noodles simply must be eaten with chopsticks. Of course, the Akha use chopsticks for every meal, but even the Thais, who use forks and spoons most of the time (bet you didn't know this!), ALWAYS use chopsticks when eating noodles. It's just the way it should be! Well, to get back to the story, Abi has been showing a lot of interest in chopsticks lately. At mealtime she always steals one of our chopsticks to play with and ends up trying, unsuccessfully, to stab at her food. So today, as I served up her noodles, I remembered a blog post I read recently about children's chopsticks. So, I threw together a pair of "training chopsticks" and she went to town. I swear she ate more at that meal than she has EVER eaten (at least when feeding herself!)

As I was sitting there watching her eat with as much parental pride as is legally allowed, I realized that the heightened degree of sentimentality with which I was viewing this milestone was not really normal (at least not for the majority of Americans). Most of our American friends will not have pictures of their children using chopsticks for the first time at the age of three. Nor will they forever cherish the first set of "baby-chopsticks" given to their children by their Akha Grandpa.

So, I guess I just thought I'd share one of the little differences about raising a child overseas. What are the milestones and memories that you have cherished from your child's life?

Abi concentrating hard to master the chopsticksSipping the super spicy tom yom goong brothThe obligitory drink of water after a really spicy biteOn her way to chopstick mastery- shoveling noodles asian styleJust bein' cute

Abigail - Photo Sets and a Tumblelog

Follow Me on Tumblr!Abi has been sick for a couple of weeks, going from a head cold to severe vomiting to a mild fever. Those of you who follow us on Facebook (see the links on the right of this page) have heard these updates, but I know many of you only follow us on this blog and wanted to fill you in here as well. She's on the mend today and we are planning on going up to the village this afternoon if she's doing well after her nap. The silver lining in the last few weeks has been a really nice time as a family. A two-year old can sometimes be a handful, but it's so fun to watch her personality, vocabulary and comprehension of the world around her as it expands daily.

Abi is very active, but very sweet. Right now, she really loves to be doing whatever her mom is doing. Last night, Abi was beginning to feel better and decided she wanted to help Lori make a dinner - a very American "Breakfast for Dinner" actually.

Here are some images from their time together:

Abi happily cookingMother and Daughter, Side by SideBusy, Busy, Two Year Old!She's so content when she's with her mommyTaking a break from cooking to sample the foodPretty Little Cook

Later that evening (when mom decided she needed the whole kitchen to herself if she was actually going to get dinner made) Abi and I went out to look at the sunset... and to take more pictures of Abi.

Look at the sunset, Daddy!Messy face from cooking, but still pretty enough for a photoshootMaybe my favorite of her recent pictures.You've got a little something on your face.You're so silly, Daddy!Super pretty girl.Monochromatic sunset

Those of you who are looking for even more Abigail than you can find here on the Vernon Journal, take a look at our scrapbook postings of pictures, unedited videos, and other tidbits at Abi's Tumblr: Our Abi Hope. RYZ7Z3B2UT6U

Our Trilingual Two-year Old

We've told many of you how great Abi's language skills are in the 3+ languages that she is surrounded with. Her English and Akha are by far her strongest languages - and her Thai is not far behind. She also has about a dozen other words from other languages that she has picked up in her travels - Chinese, Burmese, and German (Prost!). For a while now, we've been trying to capture on film her nightly ritual of counting to ten in her three natural languages: English, Akha and Thai. Unfortunately, our video camera has terrible audio - so we finally got her playing with the microphone @ Dad's computer. So, for those of you interested in seeing a two-year old counting to ten in three languages, check out the video below!

(and those of you who would rather see some ministry posts & updates, why don't you look here)

Two Minutes for a Two Year Old

We celebrated Abi's second birthday last month with a great crowd of people. Aje and Nancy hosted the party, the Chanda family was in from Kazakhstan with their three girls, and our missions supervisor Kelly was in from Bangkok with fellow missionary, Chris. For Abi, new friends and people from all over the world is normal life. She's a real sweetie at 2 years old. Sure, she's learning how to throw a temper tantrum as she learns that she doesn't always get her way, but she's a sweet little girl who loves to play and loves her friends, especially Mali and Apaw. She can say her "ABC's" and can count to ten in three languages - English, Akha and Thai! We'll try to get some videos up for all of you family & friends who might be interested to let you see our growing little girl, but for now here's a two minute clip of Abi's birthday - and the beautiful Elmo birthday cake that Lori made for her.

Kissing Cousins

Abi and her cousin Sem couldn't be more different. She is energetic, outgoing and a talker. He is mellow, easygoing, and pretty quiet. Abi is determined to do everything Sem does, and play with everything he plays with. Sem is determined to get away from Abi. After a few days, they have gotten a little more used to each other - and we have learned that sometimes we have to take Abi (by herself) to the local park so Sem can play quietly by himself for a while.

Sem is really sweet, and a great eater. Abi is learning from him to enjoy her food a little more, while Sem is learning from her that interaction with other kids has its place.

We have some pictures of their first few days together, playing together with Sem's Opa Gerhard at Jeremy's baseball game. Abi and Sem enjoying a Strawberry Cheesecake (look at the ecstasy on his face!), and some cute ones of the two of them in their Sunday best.

Playing with Opa Gerhard at the baseball game.Abi is wondering whether she wants any more Strawberry cakeSem is in heaven when he is eating food.Sem is not liking having Abi this close.Which one of you is enjoying this?Kissing Cousins. Isn't that hat adorable?

Beans and Bath Paints

As Abi is getting older, it seems I'm always on the lookout for new activities for her. She's such an active little girl and really needs alot of stimulation to be happy. I recently started following this blog in which one mom shares about homeschooling her toddler (Tot School). I'm really excited to try out some of their intentional play ideas and will keep you posted as I am able to get going on these. But for the time being we'll have to be content with the few games I've run across that require little or no planning... like this bean game. A few months ago, Abi was bored out of her mind and I happened to have a couple bags of black beans (that were several years old!) and thus was created the bean game. This is by far Abi's favorite activity. She absolutely loves dumping the beans from one container to the other, or spooning them back and forth!

Another favorite game recently has been bath paints. I ran across this blog and I realized that we had all the ingredients in the house. So I whipped up a quick batch of bath paints and into the tub she went! She loved it! So this one has definitely gone onto the rainy day list.

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Abi's Time in the Hospital

Well, Abi has been home from the hospital for about a week and a half and she is certainly back to full health! If it's possible, it feels like she is healthier and has even more energy than before! The final diagnosis was "food poisoning," though we're not sure where she was infected. By the time we got her to the hospital, her potassium levels were depleted from all the vomiting and diarrhea and she was quite dehydrated as well. They treated her with IV electrolytes and antibiotics for three days.

Everything went pretty smoothly. Our normally very active little girl was generally pretty content sitting in her hospital bed watching Sesame Street on the laptop. Even being tethered to the IV was not nearly as difficult as we anticipated. We explained to her that her hand was drinking the water in the bag, so she would hold her IV hand up to her mouth and "sluuurp". (So darn cute!) In fact, she became so accustomed to having the IV pole follow us around everywhere that she actually cried when they were wheeling it away!

All that being said, the time certainly had it's difficult moments as well! The worst being the several times they had to draw blood and/or insert the IV. To begin with they had to swaddle her to keep her immobilized, which she absolutely hated. Then, her tiny veins were apparently impossible to find so the nurses had to poke her and "dig around" in multiple locations to find a suitable vein. Meanwhile, Abi screamed and cried at the top of her lungs! And to top it all off, the whole process always left looking nasty looking bruises on her arms and legs as reminders of the traumatic experience!

The other difficult thing was the matter of sleep. Abi is really not a very good sleeper to begin with, so the constant flow of nurses in and out made it pretty hard for her to sleep. The first night she woke at 2am. When 3pm arrived and she hadn't slept for more than about 45 minutes, we decided to ask the doctor for some sleeping medicine. Boy, did it do the trick! She slept like a rock from about 4pm until midnight. She woke up, went potty, had some dinner, took a walk around the ward and then slept again from 2am to 8 am. (Without a doubt, this was the BEST nights sleep I've had in 2 years!)

All in all, we're thankful for God's healing hand and for the availability of good health care in Chiang Rai. And, of course, we appreciate the prayers of so many during this tough time!

Abi looking unhappyAbi wathing TV with Daddy Abi on the toiletAbi DrawingAbi Riding on a reindeer toyAbi and LoriAbi and Lori

Abigail is in the Hospital

Hi everyone, just a quick note.

Abi has been sick for the last three days with vomiting and diarrhea and a slight fever. This morning she got even worse and was admitted to the hospital here in Chiang Rai. Her blood work has shown no infections, but a severely low potassium level.

Please join us in prayer that she will return to full health completely and quickly.

Best Buds

Oh, how I wish this picture wasn't so blurry! But it is so cute, I'm posting it anyway! This is Abi and her best friend Mary (or Ma-li in Akha) who is 3 years old. Ma-li lives across the road from us in the village. Her and Abi have become great friends in the past few months since Abi has started walking. If Abi is ever out playing in the village common area, she will always head strait to Ma-li's house to look for her! We're thrilled with this friendship; Ma-li is an absolute sweetheart and loves Abi like a sister! Also, she holds a special place in our hearts because she was the first baby born in the villageafter we arrived.

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EC Update: 1 Year

Abi on her little potty

Well, things are still going great with our Elimination Communication. Since Abi is a busy little bee lately (and is keeping me busy chasing after her), I'll keep this update short and simple!

The Potty: As you can see from the picture(taken at around 9 months old), Abi is already using this little potty and is loving it! At about 8 months she started getting fussy when we held her in position over the big potty, and for a few days we couldn't figure out the problem. Well, it turned out she was just getting bored and didn't like the confinement... yes, she is a very independent little creature! Now, on her little potty, she can sit and play with toys on the floor for as long as she likes!

Going #1: Abi totally understands the connection between her potty and her elimination. Almost every time that we sit her on the toilet, she pees. Even when she doesn't really have to go, we usually find a tiny little dribble showing us that she at least tried!

Going #2: Abi is like clockwork with her poos! She goes poo in the toilet every morning upon waking! Most of the time, we only have to worry about catching the pees for the rest of the day! The only "misses" (that's EC lingo for going poo or pee in the diaper/pants) that we have had are when she's had teething related diarrhea (and really, who can blame her for that?!)

Diapers? In the city, we have started using disposables as a bit if insurance during the day; partly because we're generally a little busier in the city and less able to "tune in" to Abi's potty cues, and partly because she out grew her cloth diapers and we just never got around to buying the next size up! But we try to stick to a one-diaper-a-day goal (both for budgetary and environmental reasons) so potty times are still a big part of our routine. Of course, in the village, she only wears thin cloth pants (like the ones in the picture). We are still using disposables at night both in the city and the village. However, I'm happy/amazed to report that in the past month or so we've had four mornings where she woke up COMPLETELY DRY. So I'm hoping that's a good sign for the future.

Potty Trained? Not quite there, but we're moving towards it! (Although, I guess it really depends on how you define "potty trained". Eighty to ninety percent of Abi's elimination happens in the toilet. I bet that is better than some "potty trained" toddlers.) For me, "potty trained" implies that the child initiates going potty. Since most of our potty times are still parent initiated I don't think I would say Abi's potty trained yet. However, she is catching on and several times we have noticed her walking towards the bathroom when she needs to go. I'm betting she'll be pretty much on her own by 18 months, but we'll just have to wait and see!

Abi: 12 Months

Well, it's time again for another Abigail baby book entry! Luckily, we're still in month 12, so it's a bit easier to remember/observe all of her little tricks! We're really loving this time; she's such a busy little girl and it's a joy to watch her learn.

Took her first steps: 3 days before her 1st birthday. Abi Likes: Animals. You name it, dogs, cats, horses, cows, chickens... she loves them all! She's even developed her own animal "call"... she makes this wierd coughing/gagging sound. We have no idea how she came up with it, but she fervently believes this is the way to get animals to come. Abi Dislikes: Being restrained in any way, shape or form! Diaper changes come to mind; she absolutely hates to be stuck on her back against her will! Even hugs and snuggles from Mom and Dad are usually met with unhappy screams and an arched back. Needless to say, she is already quite opinionated! Favorite toy: Clothes or a dish rag. Pre-walking, she could entertain herself for 20 minutes or more with just a pile of clothes, "sorting" and "folding" them. Now as a walker, she loves to carry around a pair of pants or a dish cloth, all the while "trying it on" by tucking it under her chin or wrapping it around her neck like a scarf! Favorite Snack: As much as we hate to admit it, Abi's favorite snacks are cheap little (unhealthy, I'm sure) squid flavored snacks that we get for a baht a bag in the village. Of course, we always have plum tomatoes in stock and she loves to chomp on a whole one. She also likes Cheerios and goldfish, but since those are "American" imports she gets those a little less frequently. Favorite Foods: Abi's a great little eater and rarely turns down anything (unless she does so for reasons of boredom.) She loves spicy foods and even if her eyes are tearing up, she'll still ask for more! Introvert or Extrovert? Hmmm. Extrovert... hands down! She loves people and becomes friends immediately with everyone we meet, from co-workers to the lady who sells us khao soy. Whenever someone leaves, she simply *has* to say good-bye. Much crying ensues if a proper good bye is not observed! Also, she's totally into kids right now. Whenever she sees another child she gets excited and wildly signs "want want!" Akha Language: Her first word was "mam-mam" which is Akha baby talk for "food" or "eat". She's totally figured out this eating thing. Where ever we go, she's constantly pointing to the food on the shelves or in peoples hands proclaiming "MAM-MAM!" She also says "tsa-tsa", short for "La tsa tsa ma", which is a greeting you say when shaking hands. English Language: As I mentioned earlier, Abi loves animals, and her favorite, by far, are dogs so, appropriately, her second word was "dug-dug". She can also say "all done"... well it's really more like "ahh-duh"... but it's still pretty darn good for a 12 month old! Favorite Game: Peek-a-boo. She loves to stand at the doorway and peek her head around and yell "BAA" at whoever is inside. (The Akha say "ba" instead of "boo".)
Abi's Birthday CakeAbi at her birthday partyAbi with her stuffed bearAbi with a cabbage leaf hatAbi helping outAbi's Dirty bottomAbi and Mi-ByaAbi with a puppy.Abi in pigtails

Abi's First Birthday

So our little girl is now 1 year old, and a wonderful year it has been. We celebrated a few days early at Aje and Nancy's home and to put an exclamation point on the party Abi took her first (completely unassisted, or spotted) steps!

The party had most of the usual American trimmings (food, birthday cake, and the song "happy birthday"), but we did miss our family from America on the occasion. To make up for it we had people from (at least) 4 different nations - Thailand, Burma, America and New Zealand. It seems like this international audience will be the norm for Abigail in this strange, wonderful life we lead.

Here is a video of the party, some antics at home leading up to the party and of course those famous first steps. Enjoy!

If you download the videos, I recommend using VLC player to view them. Download VLC for Windows | Mac.

Abi: 6-8 Months

Abi just turned 11 months old, so I figured it was about time that I finally post her 6-8 month photos that have been sitting on my desktop awaiting a blog of their own. Also, since this blog is really our digital equivilent to a baby book, I thought I'd share a few milestones and interesting tid bits about Abi's life during those months:

Favorite toy: Other than big people toys (cell phone, laptop, mouse, remote, etc.) which she's not really allowed to play with, she loves the foam letters in the ABC puzzle mat, and also she loves these squirter ball toys that we got in four packs from the dollar store! Her first two teeth showed up when she was: 6 months & 10 days old Her biggest fear: the blender! Biggest hurdle in life: huge gag reflex... even just a pacifier can make her vomit! First foods: Rice cereal, mashed pumpkin and tomatoes and cucumbers in a mesh feeder. Nicknames: Boo, Tomato head, Frog Face, sweetie, sweetheart, sweet thing (or any other variation on sweet-something that happens to come to mind!)Of course, her Akha name is Yeh-mi, but all of our Akha friends have different nicknames for her too, including Bu-Tsa (pretty girl) and Bu-ga (Loved Girl) or just A-mi (Girl). She crawled for the first time when she was: 7 months & 13 days old Teeth #3 & #4 popped through when she was: 8 months & 10 days old
Abi playing with a remote controlAbi chewing on a green beanAbi eating frozen pumpkin cubesAbi exploring the grassAbi Smiling!Abi playing in the waterAbi chewing on Paul's earLori and AbiAbi cryingAbi with sudsAbi chewing on a toyA snuggle moment with dad

Abigail Dancing (Video)

I know I said I would put a video of the house tour up next, but I lost that video so instead you get more video of the baby :) Lori shared with you a while ago that we have been showing the Signing Time series in the village to teach English and Sign Language to the Akha children. Well, it turns out that Abi loves the movies as much as anyone, especially the theme song.

Back at home she will watch it over and over, dancing and "signing" as she deems appropriate.

We put a video together of her dancing, but that's really all it is. So unless you are a grandparent, family member, friend or stalker that really wants to watch the baby for three minutes, it will be pretty dull for you. All of you can go check out a slightly more interesting video.

For those of you who are still on this page, here's Abi!

Isn't she cute?

A Day With My Sister

Last week I took my sister Esther to Myanmar without my parents. She did very good and walked exactly where I told her to. She didn't cry and neither did I.

After we gave money to the policeman for a special stamp we went back to see my parents in Thailand.

They were very excited to see me again, but I was indifferent.

I think I will take Esther to Myanmar again next month. Maybe my dad can make a better movie about that trip, because the only thing I like about this video is the song.

Goodbye, I love you all! -abigail

Abi's First Word

Unlike Lori, I never promised myself that I wouldn't write mass amounts of posts about my children. That, combined with the fact that much of our recent ministry tasks have been less than blogworthy (really great, just not exciting on a monitor) and the fact that the Broncos have also been less than blogworthy gives me complete freedom to put up another post about my baby girl.

The other day Abi said her first word, and John caught it on camera. You might not believe she said anything after you see this video, but to everyone in the room it was clear as day (we even had a Dr. in the room and HE heard it, if that ain't proof I don't know what is...)

I also added a blip at the end of the clip that shows how much I have embraced this "talking about my kid" thing.

Learning to Laugh

Abi changes so much every day. She is much more aware of the world around her, she is starting to play with toys on her mobile (which is worthy of a full post in itself - that one can be yours Lori) and really knows her Mom and Dad.

She recognizes us and smiles at us. It just melts the heart, it does...

Just recently she has started laughing, or maybe learning to laugh is the better way to explain it. She will only laugh for her daddy. This is to guarantee that he will love her forever and ever.

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