Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Kid In Me...

Ok. Kids are so much fun. I knew living with my niece and nephew would be great, but seriously, this is fun! I chuckle to myself daily as I witness their goofy antics and funny phrases. Here's a list of some of my favorite observations...

-I get a "Hey, Auntie Erin!" every time I leave my "studio" in the basement and come up the stairs...whether it's the first thing in the morning or the 10th time I make the climb for the day...always a wave and a greeting, without fail.
-Kids' treasures are unbeatable. Just yesterday my head was adorned with these purple wildflowers picked while playing hide-and-seek. I also awoke to a slithery black, yellow, and red snake sitting outside my door this morning! Don't worry, he was two-dimensional and harmless, but cute as a button considering he was the crafty creation of my 5-year-old nephew.
-Kids can use "just because" to explain just about anything. Tonight for example, they found it considerably more fun to pour their strawberry yogurt smoothies onto spoons and slurp it up like medicine rather than to drink it from the bottle. Did it result in a large amount of the pink sticky liquid dribbled on the table? Of course! But it also resulted in several laughs, and heck, it was probably good for their hand-eye coordination! There are certainly times of exasperation as their moments of "just because" generally produce more work and cleanup for Mommy, but who doesn't wish they themselves could be carefree and silly like that on a regular basis?
-I've come to appreciate movies for adults. Don't get me wrong, kid movies are fantastic (I've recently become a fan of Nim's Island and Imagine That), but there are definitely those that have no plots and, let's face it, no actors with any real ability to act. Does cause one to be thankful for a movie with a little depth.
-Since we're on the topic of media, let's transition into books. Children's books are incredible! And it's a good thing because you often find yourself reading the same ones for several consecutive nights. I don't know what it is that causes them to pick the same George and Martha book for the 10th time in a row, but it makes for a great opportunity to practice accents. Haven't mastered the kiwi accent yet, but I'm working on it.
-Listening to kids play together is often hysterical. The things their little brains come up with is so creative. It always begins with "And pretend that..." to be followed up with "and then you say..." both phrases being repeated about 50 times in the course of a 10-minute play session.
-Last, but certainly not least, I've learned that conversation (at the dinner table or otherwise) is primarily focused on bodily functions and noises...always involving lots of giggling. And when passing gas has been labeled as a "fierce weapon," it makes it all the funnier!

The job search still continues...I had an interview today that went well, but it just doesn't feel like the right fit. It's a lengthy commute - the job really isn't what I'm looking for and, because of that, I'm not the employee the physician is looking for. It wouldn't be fair to him to pursue this when the job would just be a stepping stone for me. Prayers continue! I'm still trying to think outside the box with writing and baking, while at the same time finding something to pay the bills...............

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Time Traveling

I've now been back in the States for two and a half weeks, but let me go back in time to just after my last post. The last week of my trip is way too important to skip over. There are several people that helped make that time incredible, starting with the Wilkinsons. I met Jane and Digby and their family on the 4-day Abel Tasman hike I did in January. If you think spending four days with someone will give you an opportunity to get to know them, try four days in nature hiking and living in tents! They live on the North Island, so when I made the trip up there I knew I wanted to see them if I could. After a long day of traveling, walking into a warm home to a welcoming greeting and hug was more than I could have asked for. In addition to a great meal, I also received great conversation, encouragement, and of course a hot shower and a bed. I would have loved to have spent more time here, but unfortunately time didn't allow for that. I headed out the next morning to check out three cool volcanic mountains, Mt. Ruapehu, Mt. Ngauruhoe, and Mt. Tongariro. As I drove to National Park (yes, that's the name of the town near the original!), I was struck by their beauty - much different than the mountains on the South Island. Clouds hung on their peaks as I drove up to them. I still can't correctly pronounce them, but enjoyed spending the day hiking in and around them, fully expecting Frodo or Sam to jump out from behind a tree. I then spent the evening with a close friends of the Wilkinsons, staying with this family at their "bach" (holiday home) on Lake Taupo. I was so grateful to have a safe place to rest my head again this night. They were a lovely family. They invited me out on the lake with them, giving me an opportunity to see the lake from a perspective I wouldn't have otherwise been able to see.

The next day I spent in the lakeside town of Taupo. Somehow I found myself on a 14 km (8 mile) hike in the middle of the afternoon which pretty much wiped me out for the day. Sleeping that night in my car didn't prove to be very difficult since I was so pooped! (I can only safely type this now, as my dad has seen me in person, verifying that I lived to tell about the experience and I promise it's not as sketch as it sounds...Dad, just so we're clear, I spent a total of three nights in my car, hitchhiked once and picked up a hitchhiker once...BUT know that I will not do this in the US...and please don't kill would be a shame to make it all the way around the world only to lose one's life upon returning home :).

I should have spent the next day working out my sore muscles, but I chose to spend a great deal of it inside watching football. I was in Rotorua, the SUPERBOWL was on, and MY team was playing! I wasn't going to miss this. The day proved to be really sad and really great all at the same time. The game itself was quite sad, but the venue was good, and the company was even better. I met a several Americans at the Irish pub, and I found it funny how much I enjoyed hearing other people who spoke like me. I guess it had just been so long. I also met someone who was spending two weeks biking around the North Island. Our conversation began with music (as most great ones do!) and continued into wonderful spiritual talk. We basically spent the rest of the day sharing ideas and challenges, as well as encouraging one another. We parted knowing the Lord had His hand in the day and were thankful for the inspiration.

The next day brought travels to Auckland - my final destination before boarding a plane home! This fact alone had me greatly anticipating my arrival, but so did the fact that I would be staying with friends of my cousins in the Philippines!! Grant and Kim have 6 children, one biological, two from Russia, and triplets from the orphanage my cousins, Paul and Marlys, run in Cebu. When Marlys knew I would be staying with them, she told me I would be greatly blessed. I had no idea how right she would be. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know each of the children as well as Grant and Kim. It was exciting for me to see adoption on this end. I was honored to be a part of their lives for 3 days. Not only did they share with me their adoption stories, and include me in precious family time, they also took me on a day tour around Auckland, showing me all the great spots the beautiful coastal city has to offer. Each of them touched my heart in a dear way and sent me off with prayers and hugs and smiles and words of affirmation as I drew the 5-month journey to a close.

Needless to say, I am eternally grateful for the kindness showed me by people that hardly know me. It impacted the end of my trip in a way that made me feel very cared for and also was a reminder that the trip was really being planned by Someone much greater than me. After checking in my luggage and saying thankful prayer after thankful prayer that it wasn't overweight, I settled into my window seat on a plane home. I noticed the same feelings of excitement and eagerness that greeted me as I boarded a plane leaving the States. It was a welcome feeling, proving that the trip had been all it was intended to be, and I was ready to go home. After three lengthy flights (the last one with Paula Dean...unfortunately, she was in first class...I was, well, a great ways further back in the plane), I landed in a snowy Atlanta. Quickly realizing how lucky I was to actually BE in Atlanta as all flights after me were canceled from the snowstorm, I raced to the exit hoping my luggage would be there but really wanting to see my family! I was greeted by a smiling brother and brother-in-law, the two brave souls who ventured out onto the dangerous roads. I quickly broke into tears as the joy of seeing family after 5 months away hit me. We made it safely home and after my niece and nephew tackled me, I spent the next few days smiling and soaking up everyone's presence. It's good to be home. (Next blog I'll jump forward to current time...:)