Monday, December 8, 2014

It's a wonderful everyday life

Before the holidays are upon us, I thought it would be fun to share a few "every day life" photos with you. 

Briana Dawn: 16 months
Briana is growing up so quickly, getting taller, experimenting with new words every day, and wanting to do everything her big brother does. She only wants to drink from his cups. She prefers to sit on his stool at the table. She wants to ride a bike and go on his swing and play with his toys. It's SO CUTE to watch them play together! She takes such an interest in what he does (which is often annoying to him, but we're working on that). The result is, she's learning how to count (if she hears "one!" she will automatically say, "two!" and when we sing the phonics sounds song she will say the sounds along with us! 

She'll annoy Wes by using the wrong word, though. Like, I'll sing, " the B says 'b' like..." and Wes will say, "butterfly!" and Bria will say, "apple!" and Wes takes advantage of the teachable moment by saying, "noooo!!! Bria, apple starts with 'a' not 'b'. She'll make each letter sound, but always says either "apple!" or "papaya!" when making a word. She knows it annoys Wes so she does it all the time, and Wesley continually tries to teach her. It's soooo funny!

She loves animals! She'll light up whenever she sees a dog, cat, or bird. She loved going to the Palace to chase the pidgins! 

Her hair is getting so long and is so curly in this humidity!


She is not shy AT ALL. She loves to wave at random people and peeks out of the tuk tuk at people, smiling, waving, and saying, "hi!" as they drive by. 

She loves to just sit on your lap, especially with a book. She loves to point to pictures and repeat the vocab words she knows. She'll say, "boo!" "boo!" for book at any random moment. Usually I love stopping what I'm doing to cuddle with her and talk about the pictures. Sometimes, though, I have to say, "Bria, I really have to finish making dinner" and see her big brown eyes look at me in disappointment. (She understands everything we say!) Sometimes dinner is just a little bit later because I just love reading books with my daughter. 

This is Bria with our neighbor, Katherine. She has certain people that she will just cuddle up to, which melts their heart. She is such a sweetie!

This is Bria sitting on the lap of Katherine's husband. They had Khmer friends over for a BBQ and Bria just snuggled into his lap and happily gobbled up all the rice, cucumbers, bbq pork, and tomatoes they would give her. Gobble is an understatement. She can seriously put that rice away!

She LOVES to eat ice.
She will hear us opening the freezer door and come running over yelling, "ice! ice!"
She will hear us stirring our iced coffee and come running, yelling "ice! ice"
She will see ice in our water at dinner and want her own cup of ice. 
She'll just sit and crunch and suck and love every minute. Crazy baby! 
I see it as a way of hydration, although I've never seen anyone put ice away like that before...except for maybe my SIL, Annette. ;) 

This is Bria with the ice bucket at dinner.


She also looooves ice cream. When Wes was this age, he'd eat tomatoes over anything sweet any day. He still doesn't nearly have the sweet tooth that his sister does. Don't get me wrong, Bria can eat tomatoes like they're going out of style, too. BUT, they do not compete with her ice cream. :)
As she climbs, she'll say, "up! up!" and once she's up she'll proudly say, "up high! up high!"

She will point to her head, hair, eyes, nose, mouth, teeth, and fingers in both Khmer and English! She will also respond to simple instructions in both Khmer and English! She definitely knows more Khmer than I do. So proud of her!

Oh, Bria, baby, you're SO precious. We love you so much and can't believe you are 16 months already! I look forward to the day when you can sleep through the night, but you are SUCH a joy, even in those crazy hours we get to hang out together. I sure do love you!

Joseph Wesley, 3 1/2 years

Wes is getting smarter EVERY day. I don't know what is normal for an exactly 3 1/2 year old, but from my very "un-biased" mommy's perspective, this kid is so advanced. Like his daddy, he just loves to learn! We love watching him discover the world around him. He's still in love with his alphabet (that ABC puzzle from his great-auntie Darlene is still one of his most loved toys that goes literally everywhere with him!) however, instead of saying the letters or sounds, he's now making words with it. He can pretty much make any 3 letter word just by sounding it out! We try to stump him and he will need our help, but he's remembering what we teach him and will get it right the next time. It's amazing!

Reading books now involves more than pictures. He finds words and sounds them out. One story has a boa constrictor in it, which I always call a snake, since it's easier. He gets confused when we get to that page because he can't find the word snake. But all the other animal names he can find in the book. I think that's amazing!

He is at the "why??" stage of life. It's so funny to hear him and Joe go at it together. It makes for some very interesting conversations around the dinner table!

He always has his own way of organizing. I often look and wonder how he did it, and then once I see his pattern it makes sense to me, I just never would have thought to have organized his letters or his numbers in that way! Creative thinker, that one!

It's fun to hear him talk about some of his favorite stories. The Paperbag Princess is one that he loves! Although, it's not a dragon, it's a dinosaur. He loves stories being read to him in animated voices. He may not appreciate this photo some day, but I think it's super cute. haha! (don't worry, usually we give him privacy. This was one of those moments when he was postponing bedtime.)

He really loves to watch stuff on my ipod (which can be educational, but not good for him to do SO MUCH every day like he wants!), so I have to work to keep him occupied and creative. He still likes the playdough that his Gramma made for him, although I have to continually add more flour to it since it gets sticky SO fast here! haha. He likes cutting shapes. He's so funny...he knows many different shapes, thanks to some shapes songs on YouTube. Rhombus, octagon, and pentagon are among his regular shapes that he tries to make.

He can count by twos (to 10) and can count by 10s (to 100), and just today asked me to help him count by 5s (I don't even know where he heard about that!) He tries to count to 10 in Mandarin, but always misses one number, which confuses him. He doesn't like when people try to teach him Khmer yet, though! He also knows his alphabet backwards perfectly until M, and then he gets a little confused. It's so funny.

People wonder if he's in school yet. Partly because he's so big, usually the size of a 6 year old here. I remind them he's only 3 (which kids are in school already by then here) I'm not sure what he would learn in kindergarten, though! Except maybe how to sit still. He is very much of a learn-on-the-go kind of kid. Church is exhausting for us. We've started attending another church which has a Sunday School program for his age. He has no concept at all for listening to the teacher. He sees blocks in the corner and wants to play and gets upset if he can't. He likes the idea of "circle time" but never actually participates. He loves to play with his trains in the corner while singing the song that everyone else is standing up and singing together. Not sure the best solution for this, but it's a work in progress!

This is Wes' face the first time he saw Frozen at a friends' birthday party. haha!

And this is his face when I let him eat a "happy cup" of chocolate ice cream!

Wes has been asking for snow for weeks already. I'm not sure why, but he really wants to make a snow man. Maybe it's because anything Christmas-related that he sees on TV has snow in it, and we're currently doing an advent in preparation for Christmas (more about that in another post). He knows Christmas is coming, so expects snow.

We try to find other creative ways to help him build a snowman.


play dough:

he thought it was hilarious that he could eat the grape "snow"man. :)

I sure do love this kid and am so proud of him!
Lest I paint too beautiful of a picture, some things that we're currently work on are:
- sitting still and playing quietly in church. (every time the pastor says "Amen" at the end of a service, I breathe a huge sigh of relief)
- eating food that is prepared for him a meal times. If he doesn't eat it at one meal, he doesn't get anything else until he finishes it. Hunger is a great motivator. However, then he's eating at off-meal times and not hungry at meals! A vicious cycle we're still trying to figure out.
- Sleeping in his bed all night and not coming in to sleep with us. (Sometimes all 4 of us are in the same bed! Not conducive to good night sleeps for Joe or I.)
- Coming when he's called

I love working on these things with him, though. Over the past year we've had other lists of goals for him and he's accomplished so much on the list. I love watching him learn and grow and change. 

My heart could burst with love for him, even in the disciplines and challenges. We are so lucky to have such a great kid like you in our family, Wesley! 

The master snowman builders! 
They built a snow family together. Wes sure does adore his daddy!

Life in our neighborhood

Yes, it's true! Our neighbor has a pet monkey! He lives just a few doors down from us. He's Cambodian, but grew up in France, and also speaks English so it's nice to be able to chat with him! (the neighbor...not the monkey. ha)
In true Bria fashion, she wants to get as close to animals as possible. This monkey is friendly with those he knows, but not necessarily with strangers. So I have to try to keep her away. Wesley has no problem staying as far away from animals as possible. 
I think it's cool to watch the monkey climb all over his owner and the owner just carries on with normal conversation, not even paying attention to the fact that he has a monkey on his head. lol

My vegetable delivery day:
We place an order through our housekeeper, and then the veggie lady has it delivered to our house. It's fantastic for me, since then I know I'm getting good prices, I don't have to haggle in the market, I don't have to carry everything home by hand or by bicycle, and the quality is better (no sprays used for preserving, etc). My delivery isn't always this big (I just happened to be out of about everything at once!) so I thought I'd snap a picture on a particularly big delivery day.

And, these are some of our favorite meals we make with our veggies:

BBQ pork with veggies, Khmer pepper sauce, and rice

year-round delicious fresh fruits and melons (this is mango, banana, & watermelon)

This is saute chicken in oyster sauce with veggies, rice, and pepper sauce

A breakfast of oatmeal with apples & cinnamon and fresh bananas and papaya.
(usually, though, we have scrambled eggs (Joe's specialty!) with loads of veggies and a bowl of fresh fruit)

oops, how did this pic of my peppermint mocha frappe get mixed in with all these healthy meals? God bless Joe for our weekly dates! :) :)

A few other realities of my world:
If I leave a Tupperware container lid opened just a crack, this is the kind of thing I find next time I go back to it. :( Not a pleasant surprise.) 
Ants appear out of nowhere all.the.time. We try to keep our floors clean and our cupboards clear of anything, otherwise ants just swarm. We cleared out a huge ant's nest, but still they find their way into our lives. Augh.

Another reality:

Sometimes putting make-up on is such a challenge. Bathrooms don't get a lot of air-flow and I am melting just trying to put on my mascara. Loving my MAC liner, though. nce it sets, it's great for the day, no matter how much sweat is dripping off my nose!

Another reality:
road construction.

This road has been full of pot holes that literally swallow small cars. We've seen it happen. A little Tico just gets stuck and can't get out! The dust is horrible on this road, and even riding a bike where you can swerve the potholes leaves me feeling so jolted I still feel bumping long after my bike ride is over. BUT, they're fixing it!!! It's a loooong, messy, traffic-jam-inducing process, but it's happening! Someday we'll cruise Hanoi St like the characters of Radiator Springs. OH yeah.

Another reality:

God is blessing me this year! There are so many 1 year old babies the same age as Briana that have been starting to attend our play group (not all regularly due to their schedules, but it's been such a blessing to truly get to know other mommies who live in my area!) 
I'm sad that my closest friend (and neighbor) here is moving away (still in Cambodia, but to a different city) so that is sad for me, but the Lord will open up other opportunities for relationship, I know! God is so good!

A few more pics of my cutie-pies, just because:

And, finally, the news you've been waiting for:

We have two guests in our home that have my children completely captivated!
Peeka and Boo are staying with us while their owners are back in the US for Christmas. 
Wes helps me change the water & paper every day, and Bria runs as fast as her little legs will carry her to run go get the bucket of bird feed as soon as I even mention feeding them. 

We've explained that these are our Christmas birds, since we only have them till the beginning of the new year. We've added a few little decorations to the bird cage to help Peeka and Boo celebrate. :) 

Wes liked watching them at first, but now he'll hold his hands over his ears and say, "STOP TWEETING!!!" when he's trying to play.

Our animal-lover Bria, though, will hear the birds singing and say, "Bir! Hap-peee!" :)
She'll really miss them once they're gone.

So, this is our life right now!
I can't wait to post some pictures of our merry little advent season! We love this time of year and do our best to bring the joy and festivities of the season into our world as much as possible.

We love you and miss you SO MUCH as we head into Christmas. 

Love, Joe, Nica, Wes, & Bria