31 October 2016

Half Marathon Sunday Schedule

On Sunday Angel ran his 2nd half-marathon of the year. This meant alarms set at 4:00 a.m. to wake us up so that we could get ready and head out to the race venue. I was a little bit hesitant about waiting for him all alone in the complete darkness of downtown, so asked a sister and a few friends to join--this was the first time that I've had a whole crew to wait with when cheering Angel on at a race, and that was pretty fun!

We counted down to the 5:30 a.m. beginning of the race, and waved as he took off on his very long run, and then settled down to wander the area in the dark while Angel was off running 21 km.

There were a whole lot of painted bears set up in the park adjacent to the start of the race course--The Buddy Bears, one represents each country in the United Nations, so we spent most of our time looking at each bear and choosing our favorite designs.

(We took photos of the bears later, after the race, when it was finally light) You can probably guess that this was the bear representing the USA!

Singapore is the orange bear in the middle, that was my favorite pattern. Sierra Leone on the right and Slovakia on the left, I believe.

And here's a question for Canada because...guys, your bear is just a bunch of blue and gray and tan pixels. Why, Canada? What's up with that? Or, if there is some special meaning, how do these pixels represent your country?

We returned to the finish line about 10 minutes before we thought Angel might be showing up, and waited patiently and cheered when he finished! He was hoping to run this one faster than his last marathon, but ended up about a minute slower, however, he was in much better shape after this race than after his last one. After the last race he was limping badly and couldn't walk well for several days--he had bruised and blistered feet. After this race he was a little tired but totally his normal self.

1 hour and 42 minutes. He came in 20th in his division (Junior Veteran--we laughed a great deal about the seemingly oxymoronic name of the division for 30-39 year old men), and 55th place overall in the race, with more than 1000 running.

Since he didn't place high enough to need to stick around for the prize ceremony, we headed off a few minutes after he got back (and after we showed him our favorite bears). I snapped this photo of a cool ship as we headed back to our car. I think I'll always have a little bit of a pirate's appreciation of ships.

The half-marathoner and fans stopped for breakfast at market before going home, and I was so happy that we were there at the right time to get pancakes! I love these delicious pancakes, but rarely get to eat them because we usually go to market for groceries earlier than the pancake man arrives.

After market, we headed home for showers, and napped for a bit before getting up, getting ready, and going to church! Granted, we arrived late, but the sermon went 45 minutes longer than it's technically 'supposed to', so it all evens out.

After church, Angel and I took the family out to lunch, and nefariously ordered all of our own favorite dishes at the restaurant while we were waiting for them to show up, which explains why there were not one, not two, but three types of chicken (cashew chicken, marmite chicken, and black pepper chicken)--along with my favorite fried egg dish and a plate of choi sum. We did order the fish curry in honor of them, though, because neither of us like fish curry.

After lunch it was back home and then Angel was off to work to teach a class. I had time to rest and read for a little bit before heading downstairs to help get everyone ready for family photos. We timed our departure for family photos perfectly so that we could meet Angel at his workplace and he could follow our car to the photo location--there wasn't much daylight left in the day and none of it can be wasted when you're taking Christmas card photos!

After all the photo-taking (an ordeal, and a blog post, in itself!), everyone went to McDonald's for ice cream cones. I went, but did not get any ice cream, because that's the kind of person I am.

So, there's a Sunday for you. The kind of person Angel is, is apparently the kind of person who runs a half-marathon, has breakfast with friends, goes to church, takes the family out for lunch, goes to work to teach a 90-minute class, joins the family photo session, and goes out for ice cream--all in the same day.

How was your Sunday?
24 October 2016

After My Miscarriage: What Helps and What Doesn't

Before this experience, I've never really been through anything that's hit me this hard. But this has shaken me--as weeks fly by I realize it's taking longer than I thought possible to feel like 'me' again. Along this continuing journey of mourning and healing, I've found that some things are helping the process and that others hinder it.

What doesn't help:

Realizing and then dwelling on the scientific fact that miscarriage is "so common" and involves various medical reasons.

While the commonness of miscarriage and the scientific/medical reasons behind it might make some feel better--they are probably more medically-minded than I am. It has only made me feel more devastated. The thought of so many people I care about going through this particular pain is not a comforting one. The thought that it could easily happen to me again is not heartwarming, either.

Realistically noting that it's not the worst that could happen, that much, much worse things happen in our world all the time.

Tsunamis, floods, earthquakes, lethal diagnoses, terror attacks, murder...the list of 'worse' things in this world is endless. Trying to put miscarriage in perspective by imagining our world at its worst also is not very comforting. And maybe that shouldn't be a surprise.

Wishing time machines existed.

What surprised me is that one of my strongest desires the past few weeks has been the ultra-impractical desire to be alive at any point in my life other than this current point. I've been so sad that I just wished I could travel back to carefree highschool single girl days, or college student being stalked by a nursing student who drove a Ford Probe days, or early marriage with Angel on night shift and me reading Agatha Christie novels till wee hours of the morning, or that beautiful year in China with my funny and wonderful students. Man, I even said I'd trade living right now for being back in beauty school--and that's saying something about how I feel right now. But time machines don't exist. And refusing to 'live' through this sad time in my life would just mean I don't get to move forward to the other good adventures that I'm sure will come someday.

Targeted Internet Ads

Seriously, man. A popular ad that comes up on youtube videos is an ad in the local language showing a mom getting a positive pregnancy test and it's singing some kind of gleeful song about how a mother will feel so happy...come on, internet, what did I ever do to you?


It was my first reaction. I felt frozen--I felt like I couldn't, shouldn't, talk. I didn't talk to the doctor at all (Angel, bless him, handled that). I didn't want to tell my siblings. Talking seemed like it would make it real. And yeah, it kind of did, in a way. But it was real already, so silence wouldn't have been able to make it go away. For me, words have helped. Silence, on my part or on the part of others, didn't help at all.

What does help:


For a week, my little sister showed up every morning with a bag with some new treats in it--chips, crackers, ice cream, chocolate, ramen noodles. Mom made my favorite cucumber salad. A friend brought over roti and curry. Both Angel and I are passionate in our love for food, though in different ways. During the past several weeks I've had days when all I wanted was ice cream, and days when I couldn't eat or drink anything at all--cupboards full of the treats I won't buy for myself added some joy for both Angel and I--and helped feed Angel when I wasn't doing a good job of that.

"Hold Me Jesus" by Rich Mullins

Has become my theme song during this time. Often, different songs really speak to me during different seasons. Here are part of the lyrics. This song was written a couple decades ago and yet it has felt remarkably true at this moment:

Well, sometimes my life
Just don't make sense at all
When the mountains look so big
And my faith just seems so small
So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf

You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace
And I wake up in the night and feel the dark
It's so hot inside my soul
I swear there must be blisters on my heart

So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

"Grace and Peace" by Fernando Ortega, "Held" by Natalie Grant, "It is Well With My Soul", and "Be Thou My Vision" tie for second.

Pink Roses

A friend brought over six roses, and during the week they sat on my table, I would stare at them, trying to memorize every petal, every beautiful curve. I finally understand why flowers and funerals go together--like us humans, flowers' lives are extremely short, particularly when you look at the expanse of history. But it's still a very, very good things that they were alive. Death does not negate the goodness that is life. Flowers die--but they bring joy by simply existing.


I'm not a physically affectionate person. My family is not the touchy type--with the exception of maybe 1 or 2 of my siblings. The culture we live in isn't one where people touch each other all that much. I never feel a need for hugs--but the past few weeks, oh man, it's meant a lot when people have reached out and actually given me a hug. A complete stranger walked over to me in church, said it looked like I was having a hard time, and gave me a big hug. It's crazy, but gestures like that have meant a lot to this girl who's usually most comfortable not being touched by anyone.

Taking a little (very little) time off.

Our life is full and at the moment seems to be running at a break-neck pace. Normally I'm very energetic and capable, but I'm having a hard time keeping up. When all this was happening, Angel was in an extra busy time, working all of his normal hours and volunteering 4 days a week at a clinic as well, so I barely saw him, and he hardly had time to even complete basic necessary errands. I had responsibilities to stay on top of, too. I couldn't cut out everything, but I did cancel a tuition session or two, asked my family to help a little with housework and to cover some of my volunteer teaching engagements. I basically forgot about the need to cook. It's hard to ask for help to do the jobs that are my responsibility, because it makes me feel like even more of a burden or a drain on resources, but it was the right thing to do, rather than try to keep going and then burst into unexplained tears in the middle of teaching a lesson.

Having a Goal.

Somehow, in the first few days, I decided that my goal was to eventually get to the point where my strongest and biggest feeling about that little life is simple thankfulness and joy that the baby existed, instead of overwhelming sadness that she's gone. In this way, I do have a mental picture of how I want to be able to feel about the situation as time passes--with this goal in mind, I do know that as I heal the scales will eventually start tipping in the other direction, and the joy will outweigh the grief.

All of You

Everyone who sent me an email or a message or a comment. Thank you. Thank you so much. Sorry that I have not been all that awesome about responding consistently--but I have the feeling you already understand. Your words and encouragement and love have helped. People from all different seasons of my life--people who have known me since I was a kid--have popped up to let me know they're there for us. All of you bloggers have shown me again that relationships that take place completely online are real--the care and compassion you have shown us at this time are real. That matters so much and it's helped. You all are quite the opposite of fair-weather friends. I can't believe that going through this heartbreak has helped show me how very loved I am in spite of the bad stuff.


I can't stay away from writing for long--this is how I respond to life. Thanks for putting up with my messy processing of what's going on right now. I'm not trying to suggest that I have any idea what I'm doing--I'm a bit lost, just trying to find my way back to feeling like myself again. Don't worry, I'll get back to writing my silly stories and quirky reflections--I will get back to being me.
19 October 2016

The End

I lost our first baby. A baby that we'd waited for and prayed for and wanted long, so long, before it ever existed. I knew about the baby for 25 days before beginning to think that something might be wrong, for 37 days before all hope was declared gone. The end.

In early September, Angel was so surprised when I woke him up at 6:30 in the morning with the good news--so surprised that he thought I was trying to prank him. Because early morning pranks about baby news after reluctantly beginning the process of infertility-related testing are totally plausible?

My family was so happy. His family was so happy.

For 25 days I felt like I was in a constant state of wonder and thanksgiving.

Most people will say, "Oh, that's not long."

I can only say, "It wasn't nearly long enough."

I wanted more days, more months, more years. We were so excited. Yes, I knew the risks, I knew it was early, but little dreams and little names and little plans were already growing in my heart as the baby started to grow. 25 days of such joy.

The first day we knew.

We got to see the baby once. Just one ultrasound, of a tiny speck, and the doctor said, "There's the baby! You're definitely pregnant."

One picture is all we have. We didn't buy anything for the baby. We're not really the type to buy stuff in general, let alone buy stuff for a baby that's a long way off. There's practically nothing to remind us or anyone that the baby existed.

Faith is a key component of my life. Because of that, I don't blame God. I don't ask why? This world is fallen and broken and evil and sometimes things that are really, really wrong happen. Death is wrong. Problem is, 4 years at Calvin College weren't enough to turn an Arminian into a Calvinist, and I don't believe that everything that happens in life is a direct result of God's sovereignty and will. I've already heard, "God's plan is perfect and this is just all part of His perfect plan." Nope. That's not part of my faith, anyway. I can't comfort myself by trying to imagine God wanted this to happen and that in the end, it's a good thing. I don't believe it. It's a bad thing. Death saddens God, too.

Though I'm not tempted to blame God, I am tempted to blame myself. Not on a level of what I consciously did. I was overprotective, probably to the point of being ridiculous, if anything. I didn't even drink a coke, or eat a sandwich with a piece of bacon on it. I didn't paint my nails, I didn't dye my hair, I even stopped exercising until I could get an 'okay' from a doctor. I didn't even complain, not a little, about how I felt during the weeks I knew about my living baby. But on an unconscious level, somehow, my body failed to help this baby grow. I feel terrible.

I always wanted to be a young mom. When you get married at 19, you pretty much think it's a given, right? But here I am--25--still not a mom, at least not to anyone's perspective except maybe inside my own mind, and bereaved of my first child. If it were up to me, that would not be the case. I should have already had a baby, living and on the outside, by now. But it's not up to me.

This is hard. Part of me wants to cry for hours every day. Another part of me wants to eat ice cream and paint my nails and watch silly tv shows to distract myself from the pain. I've tried a little of both. But when I find myself laughing at Uncle Si while watching Duck Dynasty, I feel like a traitor. I want to be the kind of person who handles everything with grace and fortitude, who's strong no matter what and emotionally stable...but I've failed completely at that. I'm so, so grateful for my 25 days of joy without fear, but it wasn't enough. I wanted my little May baby. I loved her. Even after only a month of dreaming of a future with her in it I don't quite know how to accept a future without her. I know I will be okay again, but I'm not okay yet.
04 October 2016

Competition Leads to a Great Party

Today, as far as my #write31days series goes, I'll be erring a little more heavily on the side of the 'story' than on the 'dress' that I've promised for each day this month, but that's because I've a great tale to tell. Don't worry, I have maintained my goal of wearing dresses/skirts 4 days so far, and you can see what I wore today at the bottom of this post.

So, here's what happened. In late August, I heard an announcement that our church was going to have a Men's Day Out. They'd go out hiking to a remote beach and have a barbecue and ride on boats. My first thought was: Aww, sounds fun! My second thought was...wait a minute...if they're having a Men's Day Out, we need a Women's Day to balance things out...and it needs to be awesome, even better than whatever the men are gonna do! It may not surprise you to note that I'm frequently referred to as competitive. 

Now, to me, hiking to a remote beach and having a barbecue is just as fun for a women's outing as it is for a men's outing, if we have to have segregated outings at all, but I wanted the event for women to be as inclusive as possible--I didn't want to plan a highly active event which might exclude the elderly or those who aren't as physically able as others. I came up with the idea of party involving a variety of stations--something that would hopefully appeal to everyone, but would give people opportunities to try or do things they were interested in. 

I themed the event around "Hands and Feet", and provided welcome bags at the door that had information for the night's program, a few treats, and supplies for the nametag game we were playing as a way to help make sure that people introduced themselves to people they didn't know.

We ended up with five stations:

1. Manicures. This was an obvious go-to for me, as I was trained to give manicures in the states, and they're a pretty popular pampering sort of treat.

2. Canvas Painting. I bought little canvas boards and acrylic paint, and offered the project idea of using washi tape to block off patterns or words and then the ladies could paint around their washi tape pattern, and pull the tape off when they were done. I gave the project idea so it would be less intimidating for those without much art experience, but those who were more comfortable with painting took their paintings to a whole different level.

3. Henna Art Tattoos. My sister Rebekah is a talented henna artist, so this was also a very natural station for me to include. She was kept very busy the whole evening adding her designs to a few dozen arms and ankles.

4. Papercrafting/Card Making. We provided a plethora of card stock, envelopes, and scrapbook supplies and invited women to craft their own unique greeting cards to take home and gift to friends and family.

5. Sugar Cookie Decorating. We provided circular sugar cookies, 3 colors of icing, lots of different sprinkles, and boxes to take decorated cookies home in.

Besides all that, we also had plenty of yummy snacks, so even if ladies weren't in the mood for beauty treatments or crafting, they could sit around with good food and have conversations. We ended up with about 30 ladies involved in the event, including my small team who put everything together (my family always gets roped into my creative ideas...). It was supposed to be ladies only, but Angel came along to help with moving tables and carrying heavy boxes, and ended up being ordered to stay to serve as event photographer. He did not serve as photo editor as I'm not sure I could trust him with that responsibility, given his new 'photoshop' habit.

And finally, the dress. Which, today, is actually a skirt. And I was too lazy to get a photo done today, but I happened to be wearing the exact same combo as I was wearing in this post, so I'll use the photo from a few months ago, even though I didn't actually go to the beach today:

Which brings our live dress count to - Current: 3 Past: 2
03 October 2016

Love (or Flirtation) is in the Air

{Dress Count - Current: 2 Past: 2}
On this day, I never left the apartment complex. It was an unsually quiet Monday--absolutely lovely.

In the last week, my sister, Anna, received a box of chocolate-covered strawberries in the mail...they came from one of those mail-order food treat companies, but it is not known who the sender was. All possible suspects have been questioned and have denied sending the chocolates. I was actually one of the top suspects, as everybody knows I'm crazy about Anna and prone to be thoughtful...but the strawberries weren't from me. Angel suggested that it's a prank that my sister Lizzy's fiance perpetrated just to mess with everyone...but unless Lizzy is marrying Angel's twin...I doubt that that's the solution. It's suggested that the sender is someone within our own family, but sending someone chocolate strawberries would mean you'd have to both 1) be nice and 2) have excess money, which doesn't fit most of us. I guess the 3rd option is: 3) Be Angel, and constantly do random things for no reason just to mess with people's heads...but I'm actually pretty sure that, in spite of his odd blaming of Lizzy's fiance...he didn't do this one.

Which leaves us with an anonymous admirer/stalker. Both Lizzy and Anna ate the strawberries and said they were delicious, and they are still alive, so that's a good sign.

The only anonymous thing I've ever been sent in the mail was THIS, and after 6 years, that mystery has still not been solved (my mom blames one of my uncles, however). Strawberries would have been tastier. I don't know if we should hold out hope for the chocolate-covered strawberry mystery.


On another, more shocking note, my brother, while at work this past week, was passed a note from a customer which read, "If you were a vegetable, you'd be a cute-cumber!" and had the lady's phone number on it. He is basically horrified at this development, and at the fact that the customer will be coming back to the shop to pick up her order. The rest of the family thinks it's the funniest thing we've ever heard. My brother basically has a "Grumpy Cat" personality when it comes to human beings...not really the type of person you'd think would receive vegetable-themed pick-up lines from strangers.

Also, I can't stop thinking about whether my brother is comparable to Larry-Boy because that's the only "cute cucumber" I can think of...

Have you ever had any random encounters with packages from secret admirers or received unwonted pick-up lines?
02 October 2016

Impractical White Dresses {In Memoriam}

Once a week, during my 31 Dresses challenge, I plan to post {In Memoriam} posts, looking back at old dresses I have loved and lost. I still wore a dress for the 2nd day of the challenge (actually, a red skirt with my Toy Story t-shirt), and I meant to instagram it...but didn't. Ha!

I'm not sure there's ever been a dress I've loved more. It even perfectly matched my favorite pair of Keds. Angel also loved this dress. I let it go because there's only so much space in a suitcase, it wasn't professional wear for teaching, and the fit wasn't terrible comfortable--a tight sheath dress with absolutely no stretch is not the coziest thing to wear, but man, I loved it.

Originally a bridesmaid's dress that I wore when I was 16, once my sewing prowess had developed far enough, I altered the original white straps on top into something a little more me. I loved how the new top turned out, but nothing would make this dress entirely practical--white dresses never are.

I laughed at how with both of these outfits, the photo background is our old chicken coop and the brooder house. Living on a century-old farm sure made for great fashion photo ops. I have a harder time finding places I like to take photos here.

Realistically, the only pure white dress that made it across the ocean with me was my wedding dress, and those are never accused of being practical.

What's the least-likely color that you'll be found wearing?

31 Days of Dresses + An Angelism

Last year, I joined October's Write 31 Days challenge with a series of stories from Growing Up in Malaysia.

It was a lot of fun, and it was good timing, as we'd just moved to Malaysia a few months before and I loved having the chance to reminisce about all the things I loved about living here as a teen.

This year, fairly late into September, I decided to try and come up with something for this year's Write 31 Days, but wasn't having much luck with a topic I wanted to stick to for the whole month. Eventually, I decided to combine writing for 31 days with a personal endeavor: wearing dresses.

Which brings me to 31 Dresses and 31 Stories, my series for this month. My intention is to wear a dress (or skirt, because I say they count) every day for the month, and to include random, hopefully funny, stories along with the outfits I post--basically, getting back to old-fashioned storytelling, which has always been my first love as a writer. Stories may or may not include misadventures, origin tales of where I got my dresses, or tales involving my husband and siblings, because I think they are hilarious. I also intend to include a few In Memoriam posts, talking about dresses that sadly are no longer a part of my wardrobe.

Now, here's the question: Do I actually have 31 dresses? I have no idea, but I guess we'll find out. What kind of self-respecting minimalist would own 31 dresses? See...I'm the sort of minimalist who keeps the things she really loves--in that case, it's quite possible that my wardrobe includes 1 pair of shorts, 1 pair of athletic shoes, 0 pairs of pajamas, 1 swimsuit, and...31 dresses. I'd never be the capsule type.

{Angelism alert: He suggested taking this photo, and afterwards examined the photo on the camera's screen, and said, "It's perfect! Now I can use this kissing face and photoshop myself into SO MANY PICTURES!" He recently discovered 'photoshop' aka Microsoft Paint. Send help.}

You'll be able to find the full directory of this month's posts here:
Day 1: Intro + Angelism. Colorful Polka Dot Dress.

Have you ever joined a month-long blogging challenge? How many dresses do you think you own? What would you do if your husband developed a sudden passion for "photoshop"?