Saturday, December 26, 2009

CHRISTMAS

Hoping everyone had a very Merry Christmas.



 Singing Christmas carols at Shepherd's Field.



Overlooking Bethlehem. :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Separation wall and the Aida Refugee Camp

As they did last year, the holidays feel quite a bit different to me again this year. There is something so magical about singing Christmas hymns in church while overlooking views like this of the city of Jerusalem. Those kinds of memories will stay with me forever.

But there are also other memories about this place that will most likely haunt me - and I hope they do, because I never want to forget. On a recent trip to Bethlehem, I was able to learn more about the recent history of the sacred city. Most of the world imagines a small town 2,000 years ago that was the birthplace of Christ. I can only wish that its history would remain so simple and angelic. The separation wall that runs through Israel/Palestine has greatly divided the city of Bethlehem. It is now only 20% the size it used to be. As you can imagine, this unthinkable decrease in size has led to many homes lost and many jobs disappearing.



The wall as you enter Bethlehem from Jerusalem.



One of the many long, confusing walkways of the checkpoint.



Part of the wall from inside the West Bank. There is a lot of graffiti/art all over the wall. Often it is a chance for people imprisoned by this wall to have a voice. Some of the images can just break your heart.



Others make you laugh. :)



This is a home surrounded by the wall on THREE SIDES!

Can you imagine your neighborhood being whittled down to nothing and your house becoming surrounded by cement and barbed wire? When I try to imagine my childhood home this way, I literally feel like my heart will burst at the heartache these people have been through. The woman who owns this place fought the courts all the way to the highest court in order to keep her house. It was supposed to be one of the MANY lost to the Israeli side, but she won. Can you imagine this scene being evidence of your hard fought victory?

Near Bethlehem there is one of the many refugee camps in the West Bank. We visited Aida Refugee Camp, and it was an eye opening experience. Just miles away from where I currently live, this camp was developed after the war in 1948. Originally the homes would have been mere tents, but have since been replaced by homes made of mud and concrete. There are so many people that they have to keep building higher, becoming suffocatingly crowded.

Now pay attention. There are roughly 6,000 people living on about 6 acres, the majority being children. Again, I think of my childhood home. We were a family of 9 living on an acre. Compare that to 1,000 refugees living on each acre, and well, you can begin to imagine how these people live.




The entry to the camp.

The key symbolizes all the keys that these families had (and many still have) that belong to all the homes they lost. The arrow on top points to the words "Not for sale" as shown in the picture below. The lower arrow points to the area where the Palestinian people built a stage where the Pope was supposed to speak from on his recent visit to the area. The Palestinians had planned an elaborate program that included the children giving him gifts. It was an opportunity for the world to see the reality of the refugee camps, with the wall and watch tower leering in the background. But at the last minute, the Israeli government pulled the cord on those plans. They can't have everybody seeing what's actually going on, right?



A quote from Pope Benedict says it better than I ever could: "We cannot be silent when faced with images of immigration camps in numerous places in the world, of people forced into terrible situations in order to avoid even more terrible circumstances, leaving them in need of everything. Aren't those our brothers and sisters? Haven't their children come into the world like others, with a legitimate claim to happiness?"


Children swarmed the car, anxious for the opportunity to get their picture taken. They had been running around, playing on the trash filled streets with the wall in the background. :(


The following are pictures I took of the camp as we drove around. Keep in mind these are not back ally-ways. These are their streets - the only thing they can call a yard. The one school in the camp is run by UNICEF, and they keep their schoolyard open after hours because it is the only place where the kids can run and play without being in the streets.....







This picture makes me think of my sweet Jackson every time I look at it. It breaks my heart that he has no shoes on. :(




In 1948, the United Nations Resolution stated the refugees' right to return. But I can't imagine that ever happening. Meanwhile, the already high unemployment rate has only plummeted even further since the building of the separation wall. Many people have had to completely close down their shops, while others have lost employment that they used to have in Jerusalem, but they can no longer get there.

I understand some of the mentality of Israel building the wall. The Palestinians were acting out in violence, and the wall is supposedly deterring it. But there are a few holes in that approach. For one, they started building a separation fence around Gaza long before any of the terrorist attacks on Israel. Also, there are a lot of Palestinians on the Israeli side, and there are a lot of Israelis on the Palestinian side. So if someone wanted to act out in violence against Israelis, there's really nothing stopping them. I just can't help but think that the wall goes way beyond "protecting" people. I think it's PART of it, but it's not the whole of it.

Anyway, Middle East politics aside, we all obviously have so much to be grateful for. I know times are tough in the states right now. I know many people have lost their jobs and even their homes, but there is STILL so much to be grateful for. Our Father in Heaven and our Savior Jesus Christ have given us so much more than we deserve. I know that Christ lived and died for us, and he rose on the third day. The tomb is empty! I know that He lives and loves us. He gives us all that we have. Let us all show Him our gratitude this Christmas for His willingness to come to earth, be born in the most humble of circumstances, and suffer for our weaknesses. He is the Comforter, the Prince of Peace, the very reason for the season we are celebrating.

Merry Christmas everybody.



Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bethlehem Videos

I had the opportunity to go to Bethlehem again this past Sunday. I know these are not the greatest quality videos (they seem to be even worse once I upload them to blogger), but I figure it gives you a better idea of something than just a still photo.

This first one is inside the Church of the Nativity which is a church built up on top of the stable/cave where Christ is thought to have been born...
video


This second one is of a Mosque across the plaza from Manger Square (the bldg straight ahead with the tower). They were playing the call to prayer, so I quickly turned on my video so you could hear what it's like...
video


More to come from my visit there.

(my apologies to Brooke who was an innocent bystander in the making of these videos)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The sweetest little girl



Tonight after Tom put Joni to bed, I went in there to check on her and I walked in on her saying a prayer.  She was kneeling down on her little Muslim prayer rug that a good friend gave her from the Old City.  When I realized what she was doing, I tucked back behind the door so she wouldn't hear or see me.  Soon Tom came also, and we listened to the sweetest little girl give the sweetest little prayer.  Here are several of the things she said, although I'm afraid I can't remember it all.....
Please, Father, bless my dad to work hard and earn lots of money at school (she's a little confused on that).


Please bless that I will be able to stop screaming at mom.  Please, please help me.  I don't want to scream anymore.  You have to trust me, and I will trust you if you help me.

And Father, please bless that I will be able to learn a lot at school and that my brain will learn Hebrew faster so I can be friends with all the kids, not just Batja.

Help me and Batja to practice Hebrew.  I will tell her the words I remember, and she will tell me the words she remembers.

Please bless that I will feel you, Father, while I'm at school, and also Jesus and all the angels.

Thank you for the good Spirit I feel everyday all the time.

Please, please, please help me have a good day tomorrow.  Help me walk right into school without fussing.  Please help me to not fuss all day tomorrow.  I want to make good choices soooooo bad.

Then as she crawled into bed and I came in to sit with her while she fell asleep, she turned to me and said, "I just felt Heavenly Father tell me thank you."

Monday, November 9, 2009

Before and After

The housing office surprised us recently by redoing our kitchen.  The following pictures don't do the nastiness justice...


This old kitchen wreaked of mold.  It was so old and rotten inside that there was a constant cockroach problem because there were so many places for them to come and go.  Several of the doors wouldn't shut, and the hinges were falling to pieces.  The worst was when we would have a plate of food on the counter, and an above cupboard door would be open or closed.  Rotten wood chips would fall into the food below.  The stove top was also so small that we couldn't quite put two pans next to each other because the burners were so close together.  We also had to light it every time we used it.

But all of that is just a memory....

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

5 YEARS?!?

JONI,


 You have been a special girl from the moment you were born.  Even though you came early, and the first several months were hard, you were a fighter.

Now you're a healthy, happy 5 year old who continues to amaze me every day.  I am proud of you for all the good decisions you make, for being brave enough to move to a foreign country, and even go to school surrounded by foreign language.

I love your infectious laugh and your tender heart.

No one in the world is quite like you.

Happy Birthday, girl.  I love you.

 

Monday, November 2, 2009

What we have been up to -- Jerusalem Center


 
Elder Holland and Elder Porter came.
There is nothing cooler than listening to an apostle speak in the Holy Land, overlooking the city where the first apostles once were.


 
The BYU-J students played Duck, Duck, Goose with my kids and made their day. (sorry about the horrible picture)



We also had a fantastic Halloween with good friends at the Center.  We decorated cookies, ate pizza, did a little parade through the cafeteria so the students could cheer and make the kids feel special, and of course some trick or treating to the senior couples and students' doors.  Joni and Jackson were the cutest Cinderella and biker dude you've ever seen.  Best Halloween ever.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

War

We live very close to a British war cemetery. It is kept up very nicely and always looks very pretty. The grass is always a beautiful bright green, which is almost unheard of here.

So we recently went to visit the cemetery and walk around. I enjoy cemeteries. It's like there are hundreds, if not thousands of stories to be told - when each person was born, how long they lived, if they have family members buried next to them, and so on. I particularly like it when headstones have a little saying on them, either something their loved ones are "saying" to the deceased, or maybe a motto the deceased had lived their life by. Beautiful either way.

But war cemeteries tend to be a little more generic. Besides a name and some dates, at most they will have a symbol of that person's religion. The symbols are usually quite small, so we may not think much of them. But that one little symbol tells so much about that person's life - not only what they believed in general, but it most likely even gives us a glimpse into where or who they turned to for comfort while facing the reality of death on the battle front.

Jerusalem is unfortunately the home to many, many wars. This city has been occupied for thousands of years, and has had countless battles. A historical death toll is unthinkable. The craziest part of the whole thing is WHY. I'm afraid that far too many of those lost lives were because this city has so much religious significance. I don't have to think long to know what our loving Heavenly Father would think of that. :(

But here we are, walking alongside green grass and beautiful trees and flowers, on a hillside above this ancient city. Seeing all the headstones in this ONE cemetery, from this ONE war, just makes me shake my head in confusion. Why are we still fighting?

I love this country and this city, but I will never get used to the fact that there is a horrible, yet somewhat passive-aggressive war going on here. People are losing their livelihood, their freedom, and some are losing their lives. And I'm afraid it's only getting worse.

So for now I will continue to enjoy the freedoms that I have, and teach my children to do the same..... because I don't know what else to do.

IMG_3315

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pity Party

Here's a screen shot that I took off of my iGoogle homepage yesterday. It has reached the same temperature today.


There is one major problem.

We have NO AIR CONDITIONING.

Somebody shoot me now, please.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Happy Birthday Bayba!


Ok, so this is my (that is Tom, you know, the weird guy Amy is married to) first official, or unofficial for that matter, post. I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to do but here goes. I just wanted to wish Amy a happy birthday and publicly tell the world that I love this woman! She is my best friend and will be forever. I love her with all my heart and here are 30 reasons why (the number 30 is random, it has nothing to do with age, because we all know that 30 is sooooooooooooooooooooooo old):

1. First of all, I think she is absolutely gorgeous. I still get butterflies when I look into her stunning blue eyes.
2. She is my earthly rock. Without out her, I'm afraid there would be a palatial estate on some extreme beach front property (i.e. the foolish man built his house upon the sand).
3. Her calming effect on me. She can always soothe my soul, even if my pants really are on fire.
4. Her way with the children. Let me just say she is good. She has a sweet way about her.
5. Her ability to think on her feet.
6. Her ability to encourage me to do better, to try a little harder.
7. She's feisty. She ain't Irish, but dang she is feisty.
8. Her love for the Savior and others. I have HONESTLY never met a more Christlike person.
9. Her dancing skills. She is good, really good.
10. I've never told her this, but I think she has an excellent singing voice and I'm just as picky as that Simon chap.
11. Her dedication. Once she puts her mind to something, she gets it done.
12. The fact that she is the one person in the world who got me to like country. WOW! From Nirvana to Dolly, what a jump!
13. Her cooking, oh my gosh! Let me just say there's a reason I'm going to the gym every night!
14. Forgiveness. NEVER, have I met a more forgiving heart.
15. Her laugh! If she laughs, then my day is happy.
16. Her sense of humor. She loves to yank down my pants when I'm not looking (not sexual, don't be dirty!)
17. Her love of fun! She loves carnival rides and my attempts at dancing.
18. Her love of life and adventure! She is always grateful for whatever situation she's in. Even if it is a roach infested apartment we call home.
19. Her trash talk! That's right, she can talk some major smack and she generally has the goods to back it up!
20. Her kissing! Yep, she's a good kisser. In my opinion it's her Mcdonald lips.
21. Our talks. We have some of the most interesting conversations. One of my personal favorites: politics! Sorry honey, I couldn't resist!
22. Her willingness to sacrifice. She has given up so much for our family's happiness.
23. Her prayers. She has taught me a lot about how to create a personal relationship with God.
24. Her faith. It is amazing. I have seen miracles because of her faith.
25. Her patience. I'm still a kid at heart. Ask anyone who knows me.
26. She still dances with me at random moments throughout the day, while I hum some random tunes like "I'm every woman" or "Jingle Bells".
27. She always makes me feel good about myself.
28. Her intelligence. She always stumps me in a debate.
29. Her grace. I swear she floats sometimes.
30. Her role in helping me find Jesus Christ my Savior. For that I will be forever and eternally grateful. You helped saved my life.

I love you girl!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Busy day for a sick kid

So, Jackson has been sick for a while now and we're pretty sure he has the swine flu, or the regular flu, or just a really crappy miserable sickness.

NOT. FUN.


As we woke up early this morning to his cry (a.k.a screech), Tom ran to get him. As Tom carried him into our room, Jackson was talking up a storm to Tom. He was looking at Tom's recently grown beard, and he had a LOT to say about it. A lot of it was jibber-jabber, but he was definitely worked up about Tom's facial hair. As Tom handed him to me he said, "Boy, Jackson really doesn't like my new beard. Geez."

Feeling self-conscious, Tom goes in to the bathroom to take a look in the mirror. Much to his dismay, he sees a long gooey streak of Jackson snot going from one side of his beard to the other. After gagging, he realized THAT'S what Jackson was talking about. He wanted Tom to know that he had just wiped his nose... on his FACE. Gross.

Jackson has a bit of a temper when he's sick. Everything makes him mad. This morning while sitting on our bed with his little baggie of pretzels, something ticked him off. He grabbed the baggie by a bottom corner and swung it around over his head like a lasso, as about 50 pretzels go flying in every possible direction.

I also caught him "combing" his hair today with my foot pumice. Niiiiice.

He won't let us take off the shirt we put on him yesterday morning after his bath. He screams and arches back if we try. He may grow old in that shirt.

And he probably watched five movies today. But with a face like this, what else ya gonna do?

sick buddy


Monday, October 5, 2009

1 Year!

I have officially lived in Jerusalem, Israel for a whole year now. I can hardly believe it. Has it really been a year since that horrific plane ride? I remember when I first got here I would think about what it will feel like once a whole year has passed. It didn't seem like it could ever become reality. My mind was still in America with my family, friends, and a Walmart in every town. I used to long for all the things I left behind. My regular dreams at night were often about being in a Target store, and those dreams haunted me once I would wake up.

But now all that seems so silly to me. I love it here.

Some things that used to seem weird but that I'm completely used to now, include....

- wild, disgusting cats everywhere I look.
- there is no such thing as one-stop shopping. If I need an extension cord, milk, envelopes, and band-aids, I better plan on a whole day of shopping because I will have to go to four different stores, on opposite sides of the city, all by bus (or on foot).
- constant fireworks at night. Big, loud, wake-you-up-at-night fireworks.
- people here don't seem to have a concept of racism or discrimination. People openly talk about their hatred for people different than them.
- BIG guns.
- milk sold in bags.
- little to no rain.
- no customer service.
- when planning a fun day out with the family, we choose from possibilities like the Garden Tomb, Megiddo, Gethsemane, Masada, and the Dead Sea.
- metal detectors.
- overlooking the Old City and the Dome of the Rock during sacrament meeting.
- baking cookies in a toaster oven.
- no air conditioning.
- dirty looks from strangers.
- starting most conversations with, "Do you speak English?"

I remember having almost no concept of what all the discord in the Middle East was about, despite the coverage on the news. None of it made sense to me because I couldn't visualize the different countries, religions, and people. But now I see it all with a new eye. I have a new appreciation for minorities, the possibility of war, and the reality of fear. These things can be hard to swallow, but I have a new empathy for people here and I am grateful for that.

I will forever be grateful for the small presence of the LDS church here. We love our little branch like family. We get together for holidays, birthdays, and Sabbath dinners. We serve each other, love each other, and appreciate each other. It's the way the church should be everywhere.

Best of all, Tom and the kids have never meant so much to me. We have experienced all of this together. It has been a great year.

Western Wall
Western Wall


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cockroaches and...... blue skies?

This is what happens when I wake up my very strong husband in the middle of the night to kill a HUGE cockroach for me......
Poor roach - didn't stand a chance.


And this is what the view from my bedroom looked like this morning. The air was especially nice after a recent rain....
IMG_3296



On a much different note, very soon I am going to post some pictures of some Bethlehem baby blankets that you can buy to help out a friend of ours. They're beautiful, so stay tuned!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Where did we go wrong?

Tonight after dinner Tom took the kids over to the little playground here at the dorms. Right next to the playground is a little convenience store with some basic groceries.

Tom was trying to get a little reading done while the kids played. Suddenly he looked up and didn't see Jackson. He asked Joni, "Jojo, where did Jackson go?" She replied, "I don't know dad......oh, wait, there he is, he bought us something!!!"

Tom turns towards the little store and Jackson is high-tailing it out the door with an enormous bag of pretzels in his hands, so large he could hardly get his arms around the bag. Tom has never seen Jackson run so fast. He was trying so hard to get a clean get away that his little legs couldn't keep up and he face-planted it, falling right on top of the bag. Tom hurriedly grabbed Jackson and the bag of pretzels and quickly walks into the store, where there are four college girls laughing their butts off.

He used to be such a sweet, honest little boy. I never saw this coming. :)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Church of the Visitation

The Church of the Visitation is said to be built where John the Baptist's parents lived. It is here that when Mary visited Elisabeth, the unborn John leaped with joy in his mother's womb.

IMG_3156

This has to be one of my all-time favorite statues.



Different pictures taken of the outside.



A few beautiful pictures taken from the inside of the lower church. Top right: an ancient cistern that Zacharias and Elisabeth would have used.



Tom reading the scriptural story to Jackson. :)
The rock behind them is supposed to be the one that Zacharias and Elisabeth used to hide from Herod's soldiers.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Picture of the fam

We recently went and saw the Church of the Visitation with some friends.  My plan is to share some pictures of it soon, but in the meantime our good friend Brooke was nice enough to take a picture of us there...

Soward Family

Sunday, September 6, 2009

My baby boy Jackson is 2!

Two years ago today I went in to get my second c-section.

Two years ago today I heard Jackson's cry for the first time.

Two years ago today I became the mommy of a handsome little boy.

Two years ago today my heart doubled in size to fit the love I have for my sweet little man.


blow candels



Yay

"Yay!!!"

He had a great day today (despite that horrible looking cake - don't even ask).  We didn't even get through all of his presents, he was having so much fun playing with the first few.  I love this little boy more than I ever thought I could.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JACKSON!  WE LOVE YOU!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Gan has started!

Well, Joni has officially started kindergarten here (called gan - sounds like "gone").  She has had two days of it so far, and *most* of it has gone well.

First, she had a back-to-school night the night before where she got to see her classroom and meet some of the kids.  Just before that we had a "special dinner" just for Joni.  I let her pick what she wanted to eat and she chose pancakes and soda.
 
 
I'm mean and I made her eat eggs first. But she was so thrilled to have a fancy glass of orange soda, she didn't seem to care too much. :)


  
One of the boards in her classroom.  All in Hebrew of course.  The blue sign says, "Shalom to all".  I assume the little ties on the kites have the childrens' names, but I wouldn't know.  I'm illiterate here.


  
 Joni's first first-day-of-school picture.  She's right outside our apartment.


  
 Out on the sidewalk in front of the gan.  We go through a huge gate, then down three sets of stairs to get to it.


  
 After school I took her to the mall to get a new dress, which turned into a new dress, a balloon, and a soda.  She was on cloud nine.  While we were sitting there chatting we had a pause in the conversation.  She then asked, "So how was your day, mom?"  To which I replied, "Actually, it's been a very, very good day!"  She responded, "Yeah mom, that's because you got to spend the day with ME!" :) So true.


  
 Here is a highly requested picture of inside her classroom this morning (your welcome, mom).  Joni runs straight over to the fish when she gets there.

As far as her adjustment has gone, it hasn't been too bad so far.  She doesn't seem to mind that her teacher doesn't speak any English.  She just follows what the other kids do.  There is one other little girl in the class that speaks English, although I'm not sure that will be a purely positive experience for her.  Apparently today the other girl really hurt Joni's feelings.  So all through this afternoon Joni has been telling me that she can't go to school tomorrow because now that she doesn't like her new friend, she won't have anyone to play with and she will be "SOOO bored!".  I keep telling her that tomorrow will be better.  I hope it is!

I'm so proud of Joni.  Starting school is a big adjustment for any child, let alone starting school in a foreign country and in a foreign language.  She's so brave. 
  

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ramadan and Shabbat

This last Friday, some friends of ours offered to watch the kids so we could take advantage of having a car and do some grocery shopping.  They told us to take our time so we decided to run down near the Old City to run an errand.  BAD idea.  What we failed to think about was that it is currently the Muslim holiday, Ramadan.  This is a huge holiday for them.  It's a chance to purify themselves through self-restraint.  They fast every day from dawn until sunset.  They're amazing!

Fridays are also their prayer day.  They gather at noon to pray and to hear a sermon.  Tom and I stupidly headed out to run our errands at 20 minutes to noon.  When you combine Ramadan and Friday at noon, you have one incredibly busy city.  The closer we got to the Old City, the more crowded it got.  We saw hundreds, if not thousands of Muslims walking towards the Old City for Friday prayers during Ramadan.  There were also road blocks everywhere because they weren't allowing any cars near the Old City.  So, what was supposed to be a 20 minute errand turned into more like 2 hours, and we never even got to where we wanted to go.

But we did run into this fun sight...
IMG_3195
(Once you get over how adorable this Muslim man and his donkey are, notice the kid riding the camel in the background)


  


We had to drive all over some Arab neighborhoods that we had never been in just to get back to our neighborhood.  We had another donkey sighting....
  


Crowds of people heading up to Lions Gate, the gate closest to the Dome of the Rock...
  
 

After about 20 U-turns and a lot of driving, we finally made it back to our neighborhood grocery store.  Because it was Friday and close to the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath, we got two free loaves of traditional Jewish bread, or Challah.  We gave one loaf to our friends who watched the kids, and kept the other one.....
  


And turned it into this marvelous creation of garlic bread....
 


Although we were initially quite frustrated at the inconvenience of the crowds and road blocks, we realized what a great experience it was for us to see such a sight. I hope this isn't my last Ramadan that I ever spend in Jerusalem.

I also love that because as Christian Americans we are somewhat neutral to some of the differences in beliefs here, we get to experience Ramadan one minute, then on to Jewish Sabbath bread the next.


Ramadan Kareem!

And Shabbot Shalom everybody!  Have a "peaceful Sabbath" back in the states!
 

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Nervous but excited

Joni is officially enrolled in kindergarten here.  I am extremely nervous, but also very excited.  Round-trip, it will be a 1 mile walk, twice a day.

Cons: it feels like very long hours for someone so young.  She will be there from 7:30 - 1:30.  It is also 6 DAYS A WEEK!  Who has school 6 days a week?  She'll be going Sunday through Friday (remember, our Sabbath here is on Saturday).  We finally met with the teacher briefly and she doesn't speak a lick of English.  We had previously assumed that she would because it seems like most people with a higher education speak English.  But no.  I think this will make the initial transition much more difficult for Joni.

Pros: she will pick up an entire second language.  From what we understand, she will almost immediately pick up basic vocabulary, and will be virtually fluent by December.  Even though she doesn't turn 5 until the end of October, she has seemed ready for school for a long time now.  She has a very strong desire to learn AND to socialize.  We have also been told that any learning she does here in Hebrew, will only enhance how well she learns when she gets back to school in the states.  Any skills she learns here will transfer over to English.  That's amazing to me.

We have a get-to-know-you meeting on Monday night, and then she starts school on Tuesday morning.  

It gives me butterflies just thinking about it.  I always assumed that starting my oldest child in school would be a weird transition, but I never expected to do it in a foreign country.

I'll post pictures and an update after her first day.  Tom is worried that Joni will have a meltdown when the reality of not understanding a single word sinks in, and the teacher won't be able to call and talk to me because we wouldn't understand each other.  I don't think it will be nearly that bad.  I think Joni will be frustrated but excited. 


I guess we'll see who is right.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Good blackmail

As the kids were playing in their room today, I heard sudden uncontrollable laughter.  First from Joni, then Jackson followed.

There are two things that usually mean trouble. One, silence.  Never good.  Two, uncontrollable laughter.

Luckily, today's activities were harmless.

I'm putting this one in cold storage to use as blackmail when Jackson is 16....

jackson dress final



P.S. A big thanks to Taylor for helping me figure out how to post large pictures.

P.S.S. To Tom, Dad, Abba, G-grandpa Sowards, and Popper - look at the bright side!  I had about ten other pictures I could have posted, but I'm only posting one! =)