Between Here and There

The sky slowly begins to dim and turn shades of blue until blue is black and black is as black can be.  We live on the edge of a small village in rural Northern Thailand and when evening comes the sky is brilliantly full of the shine from heaven – unless it’s rainy season, of course, and then the clouds block the brilliance from physical sight but not from imagination.

Cicadas hum for a long phrase and then stop.  Hum and stop.  Our dog returns home from his daytime adventures in the rice fields and plops himself on our front step.  He’s ready for his self-appointed nighttime duty of keeping watch.  A tukae lizard calls out.  Our neighbours are quiet and have either gone to bed – it IS seven thirty already – or are busy watching the new Thai soap opera series or Thailand’s The Voice.

Day is done.  Nighttime is coming.  I’m here in this middle space of neither here nor there.  

We are transitioning from our home in Thailand to my homeland of Canada.  My daughters claim they’re “not Thai but English” – this is where the language and culture and nationality lines blur.  I remind them gently that they are both Thai AND Canadian, despite their protests.  

It’s a hard concept to grasp and I feel confused about those blurring lines in my own identity.  I can never be fully Thai but I’m not the same Canadian who left thirteen years ago for the mission field.  Does it really matter though?  My true citizenship is in heaven, I know.  But between here and there, what does it look like to live? 

We dream of what life will be like in Canada.  We plan, we brainstorm, we pray, we hope and we eventually give it all over to God.  We submit and surrender what our future will look like.  

Like the brilliance beyond the obscuring clouds, the future holds something so beautiful that we can’t even begin to fathom it.  We trust and believe in His goodness to both clear the clouds and carry us through.  We surrender our wills for His which is better than we can ask or imagine.

“How long will you be gone?” my husband’s grandmother, Uay, asks days later in Northern Thai.  She pauses and wipes tears away from her eyes.  She wasn’t looking at me when she asked but we were sitting next to each other on the bamboo platform, watching my youngest twirl with delight in her “princess” dress.  Uay laughs as her great-granddaughter dances around, playing games with her shadow.  “About three years,” I reply.  She wipes her eyes again and she holds my hand as we sit in silence.  

Transitioning means leaving where you were in order to arrive somewhere else.  The bridge linking those two places, whether physical or cognitive, is complicated.  How can one cross while their partner lags behind?  How can one cross while the pull to remain is strong?  How can one cross while the crossing pains a loved one?  

My husband assures Uay that we will be able to video call her and that her son or one of her grandsons will certainly help.  “Oh, I’m not good at that kind of thing,” she says, brushing off the attempt to console the upcoming loss.  

The only way across is through one step at a time.  We don’t have to jump across, only to land in the water, but simply put one foot in front of the other and walk.  

“Let’s go inside,” Uay finally says, putting her cane in position to help her stand.  Slowly, we begin to walk together.





Mom Chronicles: Traveling Internationally with Very Young Children

Roughly one month ago, my friend and former roommate from my Sop Soi days, posed a question to her Facebook friends:

“…has anyone ever done the international flight with a lap baby? How did it work out? Doable or terrible? We’re talkin’ 20 months lap baby.”

I am certainly NOT an expert of all children, and I’m still becoming an expert with my own children, BUT I have flown internationally with my littles quite a lot since becoming a Mom a little over four years ago.  And when I say flying internationally, I’m not talking about between USA and Canada.  I’m not talking about a 4-5 hour flight.  I’m talking about approximately twenty hours of flying, not to mention the layovers.

So here’s what I wrote in response to my friend:

“Totally and completely doable. I flew with Jesse at 15,16 and 18 months old, as a lap baby (also with Kate when she was 12 months and 23.5 months), between Toronto and Chiangmai and here’s what I found worked better: choose a family friendly airline like Korean Air (they are absolutely amazing and worth saving your sanity), chose normal seats and not bulkhead (and not bassinet). There is a weight/height restriction for the bassinets and Kate had maxed those out by 12 months old. Also, you have to remove them from the bassinet every time there’s turbulence. Also, those bulkhead seats don’t allow you to have bags stored under the seat in front of you (only overhead bins).  

Bring lots of go-to snacks and fruit/veg or yogurt pouches.  Cheese sticks. Goldfish crackers, etc. 

For around 20 months old, my kids were/are interested in stickers (them peeling and placing on paper), Colour Wonder markers and colouring books, Melissa and Doug water paint books (where the books are reusable and colour shows up on page when wet and disappeared when dry), playing with buckles on Ergo carrier, using plane magazines to look for things on various pages (e.g. “Can you find a flower?Can you show me a dog?” Etc)  

Walk up and down the aisles (either in carrier or walking themselves).  

Don’t worry about your kid’s sleep schedule. Jet lag will throw everything off anyhow. Just do a routine like this: eat, play, walk, eat, magazine search, snack, sleep. Then repeat and vary it up. 😉 

Let your kid watch some movies, etc. My kids at that age didn’t care about hearing the sound, they were happy to just watch a bit here or there.  

Above all, DON’T let yourselves look at the time. It will only make the trip feel super long. 🙂 Just relax, keep your expectations low and know that it will always go better than you anticipated.”

Five Minute Friday: Accept

There’s a book that a friend photocopied and gave to us that attempts to explain eternity to a child.  It’s about a baby who begins in her mother’s womb, and also an old man who is sick.  They are both in the hospital and they are both expecting a major life change.

There is one page that my four year old kept wanting to return to last night as I read her the story again.  It was the one with two pictures: a doctor with waiting hands on the left, and a figure, like Jesus, on the right, standing there with open arms.  She kept saying it out loud, “It’s Jesus, Mommy!” Just like Grandma had experienced.

She was so happy to know that this was the welcoming committee for her Grandma’s home-coming.

Five Minute Friday (FMF): Help

Help late in the evening while on the road for work.  Help with a baby fussy in your arms.  Help with a toddler challenging you at every turn.

The Lord is near.  He is mighty to save.  He is my Helper, my Strength, my Wisdom, my Friend.

On the edge of a village, I feel like I could be on the edge of the world sometimes.  Who can hear my cries for a friend?  Who can hear my cries for help?

I called to the Lord and He heard my cries.  He sets my feet upon a rock.  He gave me firm place to stand.

I lift my eyes up to the mountains, where does my help come from?  My help comes from Him, Maker of Heaven, Creator of the earth.

Kateful 1.0 – Skating with Dora

I feel like I’m going to inundate my Facebook wall with the super cuteness of Kate and her antics so I’m wondering if this is a better outlet.  I mean, I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging about our daughter (but I guess I am really) but she’s basically a genius baby, and has cute as her middle name (a 3rd middle name?).  

Kateful is what I’m grateful for about Kate.  It’s her cuteness, her mischievousness, her boldness, beauty and brains.  It’s Kate.  Kateful.

Kateful 1.0

A few days ago, Kate was watching Dora.  Dora was helping her monkey friend (see how little I know about Dora) put on roller skates because they were going to a skate park.  Kate watched them and immediately went to her shoe/boot drawer in the front entranceway and pulled out a “just a bit too small” pair of fall/winter boots.  She INSISTED that she put them on.  With my help.  And then proceeded to dance/run/glide around the living room while continuing to watch Dora.