the Vernon Journal

Serving the Kingdom in Southeast Asia

Filtering by Tag: family

Our newborn boy, Age-2

At 13:50 on December 31st, we welcomed the newest member of our family. Jak was born at a healthy 3.9 kg (8 lb 10 oz) and 58 cm (23"). Mom and baby were both champs and we have loved every minute with him.

JakJakobBaby Jak

Less than 24-hours after his birth the messages began coming in from our Akha friends via texts and Facebook: "Your son is 2-years old!" "Happy parents of a 2-year-old!" It was a modern twist on a cultural phenomenon that we have witnessed for years. The Akha calendar follows a 12-year agricultural cycle with an animal representing each year, similar to the Chinese zodiac. The animal year you were born on is your age-1 year. So Jak was 1-year old when he was born on the last day of the Akha year of the Dragon* and on the next day, the first day of the Akha year of the Horse, he turned 2. All this before he was 24-hours old as we count!

We were able to observe another wonderful tradition this past weekend, but this was one that we have seen before with Abigail and Izabel. When we went up to our Akha village in Maesalong, Jak was given his Akha name, Yaelah (Yaerlanq), by the elders of our village. After he was named, all the people came up and held him, shook his hand, greeted him in Akha by his name, and placed money (20-100 baht) and/or boiled eggs into his hands. This is a beautiful tradition in Akha villages where neighbors can bless a family with money and food without it seeming like charity... very similar to our casseroles and baby showers back in the United States. It is beautiful and humbling when our friends who have so little are so generous to us.

Akha grandmaAkha Jak AqkaqzaAkha naming

We truly love our life with the Akha!

* Actually the Akha year for 2013 wasn't Dragon but another mythical creature that we don't know an English equivalent for.

My Girls Eat Worms

Life with our Akha friends has been full of adventures, from arriving at a funeral covered in mud to extracting teeth, from naming children to burying loved ones. Each of these adventures has been a part of the history we have built here over the past seven years. As we have patiently earned relational equity, God has continued to change and challenge us in ministry, and most recently He is challenging us to oversee production of Akha language media - movies, clips, music - and empower the Akha people to share their own stories and lives. We're doing this in partnership with Project Video and Akha Outreach Foundation under the banner of Akha Outreach Media. We are in the middle of dubbing a major production, the Book of Acts, into Akha, but because it is the season for bamboo worms we paused the Acts project to put together a short video to teach the lesson of James 1 which teaches about our path from Preperation to Pain to Perseverance to Perfection. The video is centered around a typical Akha experience: the gathering of bamboo worms in the early fall.

Our entire family went up for a weekend to work on this film with our Akha team of actors and production crew. In our 7 years here, we have grown comfortable eating what we like to call "exotic" foods, but can still relate to the many people who would simply call them "gross". Intestines, fat, skin, hair, blood, fermented meat, raw meat, birds, dog, bugs and worms have all become common encounters. A few of these items have become favorites, but some still require a big breath before I dive in. Bamboo worms fall in this last category.

But our girls have grown up in a world where a bamboo hut is more common than a skyscraper, and where bamboo worms are as much of an annual experience as a turkey at thanksgiving. So it is through their eyes that I want to share with you the joy of eating bamboo worms:

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IT2KYsaMlQc']

VernonVidcast #1: Furlough, Family and Framerates

It has been over 2 months since our return to Thailand and we've hit the ground running. The soundroom is nearing final completion and the Akha Outreach Media projects are beginning to take off. These projects, along with homeschooling, family events (2 birthdays and an anniversary) as well as our village ministry, pulling teeth, and designing book layouts have been keeping us busy. Take a look and listen to our video update for a few of the highlights:

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGlu0wXdJmg']

Thanks for taking the time to catch up with us, feel free to drop us a comment below or a message on facebook so we can stay connected to you!

Introducing Izabel

On October 13th at 6:55 am we welcomed Izabel Ruth into our family. She was born weighing 3.9 kilograms (8 lbs. 10 ounces) after about 2.5 hours of natural labor and childbirth. Both Izi and Lori are doing great. Thus far (she's only 5 days old as I write this) she's been a wonderful baby; she sleeps well, she eats well, and we've never seen her cry for more than 15 seconds. She's already using the toilet a couple of times a day as we are continuing with our EC practices. Abigail loves her little sister and making the life adjustment well. Our family has been staying in our city home in Chiangrai for all of October and we will probably remain here until the month is over as we adjust as a family to our new addition. We're excited to get back into our normal ministry pace, but have really enjoyed this time in the city preparing for Izi, spending time as a family, and working on our city-side projects.

We have been tumbl'ing images of Izabel over on her own blog - Our Izi Ruth - rather than fill up this blog with tons of kid pictures (actually we all have Tumblr blogs if you would like to follow our lighter and more personal posts: Izi Abi Lori Paul) but wanted to share a few pictures here as well:

Just Born Izabel RuthHappy Mommy and DaddySweet SleeperCalling our Parents in America with the Happy NewsIzi AngelI'm getting hungry!Sister KissesIzabel, Abigail, Paul and Lori VernonFirst time Abi held IziSister SnugglesTen Ticklish ToesSistersIzi going potty : 5 days oldYou can see a little bit of Izi's eyes as she works the potty

We're Having a Baby and it's a...

Over the past seven months we have had a number of ultrasounds, including an attempt to have a 4-d video ultrasound at the private hospital in Chiang Rai (the technician was not available) in order to determine whether we are having a boy or a girl, and until last night she just wouldn't cooperate with our attempts. But now we are pleased to announce that we are having a baby girl!!! Lori is due on October 16th and we are very excited for the newest arrival to the Vernon family. Pregnant in Paradise

This has been such a pleasant pregnancy that we haven't done too many updates as Lori has progressed. We keep looking for something to write about, but with a pregnancy the only "newsworthy" items are usually negative news like morning sickness or complications. Thankfully, this pregnancy has gone very smoothly, with the exception of a brief food poisoning stint, Lori and the baby have been wonderfully healthy.

Abigail has been doing very well with whole the process and she is always talking about how she's going to be a big sister and all of the things she is going to do with "her baby". It's really nice that she's old enough to absorb some of the changes that will happen in her life once her baby sister arrives. She has a good friend who just had a baby sister as well and has been able to observe a big sister and how to treat newborn babies.

We're excited about this new chapter for our family, and we are grateful for all of you around the world who play such important roles in our lives and ministry.

p.s. for those of you who are asking the inevitable next question, Lori and I are still discussing what we are going to name her. we do have a name that we are leaning towards, but I don't think Lori wants me to share it with everyone yet. I'm Zealous, Admittedly, But Enigmas Leavemystery.

p.p.s. yes, i did intend to remove the space between the last two words of the last sentence.

Paul and Lori Vernon Media Light Documentary

A documentary created by a Media Light team in 2010 that gives a little bit of a glimpse into our lives with the Akha in Southeast Asia.

A short 5-minute documentary style production by the 2010 Media Light team in Chiang Rai, Thailand.

Paul and Lori Vernon are serving the Akha people in Northern Thailand by ministering to physical, spiritual, emotional and educational needs. This documentary, produced in 2009, gives an outsider's view of their ministry and connection with the Akha people.

You can learn more about Paul and Lori and their ministry with the Akha people at http://vernonjournal.com

More information about the Akha people may be found at http://akha.tumblr.com

Crisis in Thailand : Update

I'm at the Thai stock exchange. Broken widows & fire damage o... on TwitpicAfter the violence yesterday left buildings burned, 14 dead, scores injured, a national emergency and a widespread curfew, there are glimmers of peace this afternoon. Despite the updates of possible roof snipers and pockets of violence, the core group of 5,000 protesters have apparently headed for home. (Source)

We have heard from all of our Bangkok connections and know that they are all safe, although we have not heard if any of them have lost property, power or communication. After a short communication blackout for us last night, we have seen no other changes in our lives - except that our attention has been turned from our daily ministry projects to the news, updates and prayer for this nation.

In Chiang Rai, things seem unchanged... except for the oddity of our major grocery store not opening this morning. We were able to get to a ATM to make a cash withdrawal and our internet connection has been up and running all day. Apparently the curfew (8pm-6am) will continue to be in effect for our province for the next three nights, and many banks and schools will remain closed until next week. We are laying low, watching these events as they unfold. It is not the first political uprising we have seen here, as we have lived through a military coup, a dissolved governing body, closed airports, and multiple appointments of Prime Ministers. However, these events over the past 48 hours have been the most violent and costly that we have seen.

It appears that the peak of the conflict has passed, although a majority of the root problems that initiated the conflict have not yet been addressed and future elections and political decisions are going to quickly stir up emotions and actions again, perhaps to violence.

So all we can do is pray, and trust that our Merciful Father will direct the hearts of these people. Please join us as we lift the nation of Thailand, a nation which has graciously permitted us to live and work within its boundaries and which is home to so many of our dear friends.

  • Pray with us for the governing bodies to make decisions that will be a blessing to the people of Thailand.
  • Pray with us for the military forces to be bringers of peace and stability.
  • Pray with us for the leaders of both political parties that they might find common ground to work together openly and honestly to bring this wonderful country back to a state of peace and to rightly represent the peoples of this nation in their actions.
  • Pray for those who have lost lives and livelihood, that they might be lifted up.
  • Pray with us for the hearts of the people of this nation, that they would receive the heritage of life that comes from the Kingdom of God.

Thank you for joining us in prayer.

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

Above Jewels

Proverbs 31:10 (NASB)

Description of a Worthy Woman 10An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.

Maybe it's the weddings I've been going to. Maybe spring comes early in Thailand. But I have found today, that even after 9.5 years of marriage, I am head-over-heels *in love* with Lori.

She's seen her life get more and more difficult as pregnancy turned into an infant and now a two-year-old, and yet she continues to shine in ministry, as a mother and as a wife.

Right now she's in the bathtub with our energetic daughter, after working most of the afternoon on her computer with Abigail nestled in-between her body and her mouse-operating right hand. We're working on getting Abi to go to sleep with me and she's becoming more and more independent as she grows up, but there's no substitute for mom when things are hectic - which is more often than not in our world.

Sometimes as a father, I feel pretty helpless - I just can't comfort Abi like Lori can - and, therefore, more often than ever I am being called off in one direction to work and to serve while Lori continues our services of ministry locally, while continuing her role as a mom.

Through it all, she's been incredible, and is a priceless addition to my life.

Last month, when the Ruggles' were with us, they captured some of the many roles that Lori plays in our life - and I wanted to share them with you.  (make sure you hover over the pictures for the insider descriptions of each role)

Wife and MotherCounselorSurrogate MotherFriendHostessSeamstressCamp CoordinatorMinister

...and all of this doesn't even cover the professor / nurse / teacher roles that fall in her actual job description.

I love you, Lori. You are simply incredible.

A Happy Christmas

Since I spent the last week of 2009 in America, we ended up celebrating our family Christmas on January 2nd this year. Abigail is still young enough that the actual date doesn't really matter to her - but she is now old enough that Christmas is really fun. Living in Thailand we try to do a couple of holidays with more of an American flair, for ourselves and for Abi so she can have some connection with her American roots. Our biggest "tradition" holiday - by far - is Christmas. We start the day with an American breakfast cooked by Lori. This year she made an "Apple French Toast Casserole" which was so good that Esther actually ate it (she is generally a very picky eater, and especially adverse to western food). While we eat breakfast, we listen to the Christmas story - first in Akha, then in English - while discussing the characters in the story through our nativity scene.

Then we celebrate a new tradition, initiated by Abi. Since there are presents under the tree, Abi knew that there must be a birthday. For about a month, she kept thinking it was going to be her birthday again, but now if you ask her whose birthday is on Christmas, she will answer "Baby Jesus" or "God" depending on what she remembers of the story at the time. So, we all sing a rousing version of Happy Birthday to Jesus, led by Abi.

Then we open our presents and stockings. Lori and I love this time because we get to really spoil Esther. This year, in addition to clothes & food, the popular gifts were...

For me: a new netbook to replace my dying & incredibly slow laptop. Thanks Mom, Dad, Grandma & Grandpa!

akha-women-by-soe-winFor Lori: a beautiful, original oil-on-canvas (50" x 36") of five Ulo Akha women carrying bundles of roofing grass and corn in from the fields. This original composition was painted by Burmese artist Soe Win, who we were able to meet in Maesot where we purchased the piece.

For Abi: a custom-made traditional Burmese outfit that Esther bought from a seamstress in Myanmar (Burma) & a miniature blender so that Abi can make smoothies just like her mom!

For Esther: a huge bag of her favorite dried cherries, photos and a photo album, clothes from America and fabric, thread & sewing needles so she can learn how to sew Akha stitches (everyone has always given her a hard time because she didn't learn how to sew as a girl, now she can practice in the city. she's really excited to show her mom that she's learning to sew!).

After all the presents and playing, we enjoy a wonderful smorgasbord lunch of breads, vegetables, fruits, cheeses, crackers and summer sausage to round out a wonderful - if belated - family Christmas. Hope you all had wonderful times with your families as well!

Thank you Esther for this beautiful outfit!Modeling her beautiful new outfitEsther's new fabric, thread & sewing needlesAbi's second favorite Christmas toy - a shopping cart.A very happy Esther, and a silly snowglobe stocking stuffer.So excited about her new blender.Opening Christmas presents from OmaAbigail enjoying her new Christmas toys

Moving to Mae Sot

Moving from Chiang Rai to Mae SotWe are moving from Chiang Rai down to Mae Sot today and will spend the rest of September and most of October there. The foursquare missionaries who live in Mae Sot, Neil and Diana Gilbert, are currently on furlough in America and some health complications with the couple who was watching their home and ministry have forced them to return back to America as well - so we are filling in for a month and a half, helping with the home, coffee shop, English classes, English fellowship and local church ministry. Mae Sot is a border town between Burma (Myanmar) and Thailand. Historically, many Karen refugees have come into Thailand seeking asylum and live in refugee camps in the area. Like many border towns, it has a mixture of languages and cultures packed densely into a small area.

It is a little daunting to move from a region where we can speak a very common language, Akha, to a region where there are very few Akha and the majority languages are Thai, Burmese and Karen. We are looking forward to the opportunity to increase our Thai language skills, and are grateful as always for the huge blessing that Esther is for our language needs. We speak to her in Akha, and she can translate it to Thai or Burmese as needed.

We don't really know what to expect in Mae Sot, but know that the National President of Foursquare Thailand pastors the church there and we are honored to get a chance to get to know him and his ministry a little more. Here's an excerpt from the Worldbase Thailand website regarding the ministry in Mae Sot:

The main church in Mae Sot is the Mae Sot Foursquare Church. Pastor John Somphon is the National President for Foursquare Thailand. We have several Hill tribes churches, an orphanage and a Refugee School for Burmese children (Elpis School). Pastor John has a heart for the many Karen refugees in the region and has started many churches in the Mae Sot area and in the surrounding Hill Tribes villages. Pastor John also oversees our church in Pitsanulok.

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?

Surprise!

We are very proud of my younger brother, Jeremy, who is graduating from college this morning in Kassel, Germany. He has been studying at the International YMCA University of Applied Sciences, with the lectures, papers and oral exams all in the German language. We had been hoping to come out for the graduation, but the tickets to Germany were so expensive we couldn't justify the trip. Then, about three weeks ago, we found some discount tickets on Sri Lankan airlines and decided to make the trip, but we did not tell my mother or grandma that we were coming. We haven't seen my parents for a year and a half, and my mom has been pretty sad about not seeing Abi or my brother's son, Sem, for all that time.

A happy grandma and grandbaby.When my parents and grandmother arrived, we left my brother's home to go shopping and to spread out the joyful moments for my mom. After the hugs and greetings with my brother's family, we snuck back into the house and out onto the porch where my mother was sitting. When she saw us her eyes grew big, her jaw dropped and... she was speechless.

For those of you who know my mom, that's really saying something.

Once she was convinced that she wasn't hallucinating, and the shock and suprise of seeing us wore off there were tears and hugs and a very sweet time with everyone. Since then we have been going to graduation events, enjoying the wonderful food here in Germany, and seeing sites like the castle and forest that inspired the Brothers Grimm to create all of their creepy tales.

Most of all, we are simply enjoying a wonderful time with family in a beautiful corner of the world.

January Travels: Bangkok, Hat Yai & Mae Salong

In January we were blessed to have my (Lori's) parents in country for a visit. Their arrival coincided with the Grand Opening of the new Foursquare church and ministry center in Bangkok. We flew down to meet them in Bangkok and while there took the opportunity to see a few sights. Can you believe that this was their fifth trip to Thailand and they had never been to the Grand Palace! (We must not be very good tour guides, eh?)

After a few days in Bangkok, we headed down to Southern Thailand for a few days at the beach! We ended up staying in Songkla (just outside of Hat Yai) for 3 nights. Our little hotel was right on the beach and we had such a nice relaxing time!

Esther (who has lived with us for almost 2 years now) and one of her friends came along as well. Neither of them had ever flown in a plane or seen the ocean, so it was exciting to be with them as they experienced these new things. It was also Abi's first time seeing the ocean (Although, it certainly wasn't her first time on the plane... she's been on nearly 30 plane rides thus far and she's not even two yet!) and, of course, she loved it! (Some photos of her at the beach are bound to show up on the baby blog sooner or later. So stay tuned!)

After we made it back up north, we all headed up to the village for about a week. My parents were troopers, braving the cold showers and hard beds with ease. We stayed pretty busy pouring a concrete pathway and building a deck as the finishing touches to our "new" village home. My dad, the builder, loved getting his hands dirty, working alongside the Akha men and noticing all the differences in how things are done here. And my mom, (not so keen on getting her hands dirty) was the resident baby sitter and kept Abi and her village friendsoccupied and out of harms way.

Mom & Dad... thanks so much for coming! We can't wait for your next visit!

Christmas 2008


It has been FOREVER since I posted here... and so out of fear of letting this blog die, I'm finally getting a new post up! I'm really loving the Christmas season this year and so I thought this questionnaire would be a fun easy way to share my thoughts!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Wrapping paper, for sure! Actually, here in Thailand it's really hard to find Christmas themed paper and I'm a bit of a Christmas Nazi, so when ever I see a bin of wrapping paper for sale you'll find me pawing through it trying to find anything remotely Christmas-y.

2. Real tree or Artificial?
I'm from Oregon... so in my opinion real trees are the best! (Again that's part of my Christmas Nazi tendencies!) You just can't beat the smell of a Christmas tree in the living room! Every single Christmas until we came to Thailand I had a real tree. Of course, here in Thailand we have an artificial, but I don't really mind it too much. I'm just happy to have a tree at all!

3. When do you put up the tree?
As soon as humanly possible following Thanksgiving day.

4. When do you take the tree down?
Sometime in January. Whenever I get around to it.

5. Do you like eggnog?
Yes, but not strait; mixed half and half with milk is best!

6. Favorite gift received as a child?
I can't say for sure... but *one* of my favorites was a Playdoh Diner set. It had all sorts of gadgets to make hamburgers and icecream cones and the like.

7. Hardest person to buy for?
Hmmm...no one comes to mind. I guess it would be ME! Paul is always asking for a Christmas wish list and I can never think of anything I want!

8. Easiest person to buy for?
Esther.

9. Do you have a nativity scene?
Yes, somewhere in storage in the U.S. Unfortunately it's not here in Thailand. One of these days we'll bring it out.


10. Mail or email Christmas cards?

Neither. I don't send out snail mail cards because I'm too lazy and I don't send out email cards because it's too impersonal. Go figure!

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
Can't think of one... generally, if it's wrapped, I like it. :)

12. Favorite Christmas Movie?
No question about it... White Christmas with Bing Crosby! I've already watched it at least seven times this season already.

13. When do you start shopping?
Whenever I think about it. Usually sometime in late November.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I'm sure I have...although I can't think of a particular instance at the moment. Apparently I'm a bit brain dead today; I can't seem to think of good answers for quite a few of these questions. (This is why it's been so long since I've written a blog here... I'm really this brain dead all the time! It's called being a mother!)

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Appetizers. I can do with out the the formal dinner and the Christmas ham. For me, Christmas is all about the finger foods... black olives, pickles, crackers and cheese, summer sausage, etc. And don't forget the sweets... cookies, fudge, candy... you eat those with your hands so they count as finger foods too!

16. Lights on the tree?
Again, this is an area where the Christmas Nazi in me comes out. I am very picky about my tree lights. They have to be interwoven into the branches so that you can't see the wires, not just haphazardly strung. Also, there should be A LOT... this year I used 9 strands of lights on our tree.

17. Favorite Christmas song?
"Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel" Or "The Hallelujah Chorus" (which could also be considered an Easter song, but my home church always sang it on Christmas eve.)

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
Either is fine.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's?
Let's see..."You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen. Someone and Someone and Donner and Dixen. But do you recall..." Guess not!

20. Angel on the tree top or a star?
I prefer star. In theory I'm ok with either, but more often than not I think the angels are gaudy and the stars look much nicer.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
Growing up, our family opened all the presents on Christmas eve (except for the stockings and a present or two from "Santa" which we opened Christmas morning.) I never thought I'd change, but somehow Christmas morning has become our new tradition!

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?
Trying to make an American Christmas in Thailand. It's hard to make everything "just right" here. We can't even buy proper candy canes! Also, I tried to make some candies that were dipped in chocolate, but the Thai chocolate won't melt properly and is all lumpy! :(

23. Favorite ornament theme or color?
No favorites really. My current tree is Silver, White & Blue themed, but those colors were only chosen because I didn't like the yellow, green & red ornaments.

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner?

If I'm choosing between a Turkey or a Ham dinner, I prefer Turkey. Although,like I said earlier, I don't feel too deprived without Christmas dinner (afterall Thanksgiving was just a month ago!)

25. What do you want for Christmas this year?
Maybe a new watch? I dunno! Sorry Honey...wish I were more help!

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!

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