What about crossing those cultures?

IMG_6089They say every marriage is cross cultural, but I’m not so sure. I understand that every family is a culture by itself, but I also know some folks who say “I do” to their second cousins. You can talk to me about your cross cultural marriage, maybe if your mother tongues don’t match?
I’m not trying to say we’re something special, those of us lucky enough to catch a fish from another sea. Sometimes I say you have to be especially fierce, but maybe that doesn’t sound pleasant. You do have to be brave.
When I met Hj I wasn’t brave. Maybe a little reckless, but not terribly. Marriage looked like an awful lot of hard work and messy like all relationships, and being tethered to the same person forever, always getting along, settling down!? Not for me. I wanted the easier way, traveling the world alone, tethered to no one and nothing.  I wasn’t very brave.
Hj said he loved film, and I shuddered. My iTunes library made him laugh out loud. “Wow, if you have any taste in music, it’s really bad.” Ok. He wore a purple sweater for the first three months I knew him, and I hate purple. (can we pretend it wasn’t actually lavender?) He would talk to me for hours about his favorite music and say foreign words like “Sufjan Stevens” and in the end he would sigh at my blank looks, and raise his voice a little for pretend and say, “What are you!? Amish!?” I did think he was hilarious.
Somehow because God, and love and trees and maybe stars aligning, we got married despite our differences. “Differences” because we didn’t actually have a clue. That is the beautiful thing about getting married, that there is plenty of time and space to get to know each other for real, after the lofty vows and true commitment. You finally get to see each other naked, figuratively of course, and then you discover how some people actually wash dishes and you can’t believe you married an alien.
Remember, don’t judge unless you married someone with a different mother tongue, which in legal terms can be called aliens, depending. We discovered we were so different that I cried about it once, living over in Holland in the foreignest land I had ever seen with the foreignest people ever to ride a bike. I thought our differences were just insurmountable, that we would never be the same, never think alike, never like the same things!
A few years in, I say let’s all thank God for that! Let’s all thank God that we aren’t ever going to be the same and let’s thank God that we’ll never think alike. And let’s thank God that we have such a vast variety of interests in our family, to keep us interesting.
The differences that seemed insurmountable weren’t, but they were pretty steep mountains that we were forced to climb… sometimes with grace and dignity, but mostly not. There are still a few more mountains within sight but they don’t look insurmountable anymore because I know that after the blood, sweat and tears of climbing them together, we are in for the glory of a lifetime.
Next month when we go to Jamaica, (because we both love to explore new lands!) I bet Hj will be playing reggae in the square and I will be making friends with a fascinating little lady from a land down under. And I bet I won’t try to get Hj to be friendly to strangers and I bet he won’t try to get me to dance in front of those selfsame strangers. On second thought, he probably will.  Haha.

I love you, lieverd.

What we’re reading

This is what’s on our stack right now.  (Two thumbs up for un-plugging)

YOU ARE MY I LOVE YOU (Tu Eres Mi Te Quiero)
A little board book that I’m quite sure Ellie added to the stack. I don’t actually read this book to her, since even the title doesn’t make sense. The rest of it is just as confusing.

A Dutch children’s chapter book that Hj reads to Ellie a lot. It is a somewhat fantastical story about a chef and his little daughter. If you think this title doesn’t make sense either, it’s actually a Dutch name, for a sweet little girl.

GOOD MORNING, MISS DOVE by Frances Gray Patton
“All in all, in bearing and clothing and bony structure, Miss Dove suggested that classic portrait of the eternal teacher that small fry, generation after generation, draw upon fences and sidewalks with nubbins of purloined chalk; a grown-up stranger, catching his first glimpse of her, might be inclined to laugh with a kind of relief, as if he’d seen some old, haunting ogress of his childhood turned into a harmless joke. And then Miss Dove would look at him and all the comedy would ebb from his mind. Her large eyes were quite naked (for she had retained perfect vision) and gray like a flat, calm sea on a cloudy day. They were shrewd and unillusioned; and when one stood exposed to their scrutiny feeling uncomfortably that they penetrated veil upon veil of one’s private life and perceived, without astonishment, many hidden— and often unlovely— truths in the deep recesses of one’s nature, it was impossible to see anything about Miss Dove as ridiculous.” This was a very fun little gem to read.  Reading blogs can’t hold a candle to this, right? 😉

FOR THE CHILDREN’S SAKE by Susan Schaeffer Macauley (daughter of Francis and Edith)
Although I would prefer a different title, (because education is for so much more than just the child’s sake) this book is a treasure! My copy is borrowed, but Amazon will send me one for my own discriminating shelf one day soon.

THE $100 STARTUP by Chris Guillebeau
Hj is reading this one; he reads me quotes every now and again, stories about lucky entrepreneurs that I am not sure how to relate to real life.

Recommended by a friend, we are still waiting to start this one together. We have seen enough of it to be very eager to read it.

FIRE AND FRAGRANCE by Sean Feucht and Andy Byrd
Hj was so impacted by a sermon he heard by one of the authors that he immediately ordered this book, and we have slowly been reading through it together. This book has stirred in us some of our greatest dreams and deepest longings again; we find much to relate to. Written by YWAMers, it describes the current movement of 24/7 prayer and worship “burn centers”, and talks about the intercessors, missionaries and “musicianaries” who, like David, learn how to know God and worship Him in the secret place, before they carry the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Don’t read this book unless you want to abandon the comfortable life.

THE KITE RUNNER by Khaled Hosseini
I ruined this by watching the movie first; please read the book and just skip the film. I’m not done with the book but I can tell you, it’s a haunting story.

plus the magazines:
TIME: the Answers Issue – lots of useless but fascinating information in this issue, like the fact that the Dutch adopted 83 American babies last year (I may have my numbers or years slightly off, but that is the problem with lots of useless but fascinating information at once)
WORLD – a great overview of the world’s worst news (sorry, I prefer less bias when I read news— left or right)
READER’S DIGEST: the Genius Issue – If you love to read ads, especially pages of fine print warnings about Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) medication (BREO ELLIPTA), this is the magazine for you!
NO GREATER JOY – a magazine by people who spank their kids
(Hj brought me a bouquet of magazines to read while I was sick, in lieu of flowers. Isn’t it absolutely beautiful to be known?)

Oh, and here at the bottom of the stack is the local Mexican restaurant’s take-out menu. I wonder why.

PS. I apologize for so much negative/sarcastic feedback on these books and magazines, but the world looks a little gray when you have been sick on the couch for 2 months….

Update from the big sister

Hey Here I am again!

Here I am again!

My momi and papa took me on a long, long trip to New York. After reading hop on pop 50 times they decided I could play with the tissue box

My Mommy and Papa took me on a long, long trip to New York. After reading Hop on Pop 50 times they decided I could play with the tissue box.

This guy looks really serious about his chicken, but it sure tasted good

This guy looks really serious about his chicken, but it sure tasted delicious!

When I get tired of walking my papa carries me

When I get tired of walking my Papa carries me.

In New York I got to see my Tia again. I love playing with my cousin Mandy

In New York I got to see my Tia again. I love playing with my cousin Mandy!

My mom says i grow so fast my piggy toes need more space

My mom says I grow so fast my piggy toes need more space.

I love papa's chickens, it makes me laugh when they come running out.

I love Papa’s chickens, it makes me laugh when they come running out.

Today I saw a photo of my baby brother or sister, isn't it pretty?

Today I saw a photo of my baby brother or sister– isn’t it pretty?

The bunny and the dog.


When I went from the concrete jungle to the not-so-concrete jungle in the middle of IMG_0995mountain nowhere, it took my little brain a little while to adjust. Once my brain caught up with the woods and nature around our little house, my brain hit the ground running. Soon enough I had my first chicken coop up and running. After a tragic death experience with nature’s finest wild animals, my passion grew only bigger and soon my little farm transformed into a full producing farm raising green beans, chicks, baby bunnies and compost. Listen to this: right now I have 31 birds: 24 roosters and 7 hens. I have 18 bunnies: 9 babies, 6 adults and 3 frozen. When you read these astounding numbers all you can think is– this guy needs a dog!
Whenever Ellie would see a puppy she would spontaneously bark: Whoo! Whoo! So we thought lets get Ellie a puppy as a birthday gift; she will love it! Our friend’s dog just got puppies so we went over to pick one out for Ellie.   It looked cute at first and even at a second glance it was still pretty adorable . The kids loved this pup because it was so playful.  They called her “Squeak”.  The very first night we got her, she slept inside because she was gonna be an inside dog. The second night she was outside.  We gave her a hot water bottle so we didn’t feel so guilty.  She was used to living outside anyway, we reasoned.
We named her Girona, after the city where me and Joy met in Spain.  It turned out that Squeak was a more appropriate name, for she would squeak like a broken squeaky toy andIMG_0919 seemed to never stop. She was so desperate for attention she would follow me all over and I would often step on her. She was so excited to see me after work that she would quickly run inside the house (which is a no-no) and pee under the table. She would make a mess in the garden and then jump to take the laundry off the line one by one. She was a naughty little pup and of course it was all our fault because we did not train her well and we surely did not have any time for her.
At last we decided to bring Girona to the animal shelter because she was not gonna be a happy camper at our house. First we dropped her off at the house where we got her because they had offered to watch her while we were gone for a week. After the week was over I told the people that I was gonna pick up Girona and take her to the shelter. As soon as one of the kids heard that his precious little Squeak was gonna go to the pound, he started to pray out loud that God would please bring someone that could take care of Girona. And sure enough, a lady from church came over to their house and when she laid eyes on Girona, she exclaimed she wanted it.
A prayer was answered and my conscious was cleared. We tried to have a puppy but now we will have another baby instead. (yes, I just told you we are pregnant again)