we were incredibly fortunate that my parents made the long journey to be here with us when ezra was born. they helped us welcome ezra in bangkok, took care of cedar while we were in the hospital & did all the laundry & dishes in those bleary early newborn weeks. then after 3 weeks in bangkok, they hopped on a plane with us & helped us settle back into our life in phnom penh.
[tie dyed shirts straight from the brockport, ny arts festival]
in the airport as they prepared to leave after 6-weeks in asia (we had time to chat- we had to arrive at the airport 5 hours early & their flight was delayed another 4 hours, due to the death of king sihanouk & the arrival of his body from china, but that's a whole other story!) we made of list of our trip highlights.
so here it is.... the Top Five "Jim & Mary Asian Tour 2012" memories.
Little Ezra is already two months old. In some ways, it seems like she's always been with us, but in other ways we're all still learning what it means to be a family of 4 & how ezra's joining us is reshaping us into something new & different. It's been a really great month (I love maternity leave!) hanging out with this little lady & learning more about her.
Some thoughts on our little sparrow at 2 months:
she has very dramatic hand movements, especially when she is sleeping. cambodians like to joke that she is practicing to be an apsara dancer.
she still sleeps a LOT, but sometimes she stays awake for a bit & we get to see her big, round blue eyes
she's been learning how to smile & gives us huge, wide mouthed grins (a bit crazy looking, actually!) from time to time
she's still a long & skinny baby, but is just starting to get some cute leg rolls
she seems to sleep better on the go, in her sling with mama, than she does at home lying down in a quiet place. for now, its awesome! & we've been on a lot of sleepy coffee dates together.
her cries often end with cute little squeaks that remind us of a dog toy!
no visit to cambodia is complete without a trip to our favorite sleepy seaside town, kep. we went with my parents last year for a relaxing weekend get-a-way when cedar was a newborn, but this time it was a lot different with a toddler in tow. for daniel & i, it will forever be remembered as the god-awful weekend of tantrums & [night] terrors. luckily my parents were there to help us, the context for cedar meltdowns was ideal - our guesthouse was beautiful & relaxing, & it seems to have just been a long-weekend freak-out phase. [fingers crossed.....]
baby ezra has had an eventful first month! she spent two weeks in bangkok visiting with her grandparents before hopping on a plane to finally return to her nest in phnom penh. the next two weeks were spent with more visiting with grandparents & a bit of traveling (kep & prey veng), as well as getting to meet her loving cambodian community. she weathered the changes well....probably because she seemed to be sleeping nearly all the time.
we likely won't have many wide-eyed pictures of our sleepy little girl from this first month, but we don't mind! her peaceful demeanor has helped to ease our transition to a family of 4 (especially with a big brother who just discovered the full meaning of the word tantrum) & who doesn't love holding a little bundled newborn, anyway?
it might be short lived though- after examining ezra, our doctor told us that he thinks she is going to be a very active child. she measured in this month at a little over 8 pounds; the perfect size for all the sweet newborn clothes we've received (& which I'm sure she won't be able to wear next month at this time). we'll hold on tight to these lovely newborn days while we can - welcome to our family little girl, we've enjoyed getting to know you (or rather, hold you while you slept all day) this month.
and a bonus picture - little ezra throwing the peace sign! she's just following in the family line with a mama who works with peace projects & a big brother who also proclaimed his peace child status at an early age.
MCC also has an office in prey veng province, about three hours away from phnom penh. life in the province is much different than in the city, so while my parents were visiting we took a weekend excursion to visit fellow mcc'ers ryan & daphne & little maya eliana. it rained nearly the whole weekend so we spent lots of time in the fowler's house taking pictures of the babies in matching pajamas. We did manage to go for a nice walk to the prey veng waterfront. as you might imagine, the two little white babies were quite a hit. the [expectant] couple on the bottom right stopped & asked to take a picture of ezra & cedar because there is a cambodian superstition that if you look at cute babies while pregnant, your baby will be cute too. we said they could definitely take our pictures, as long as we could take a picture of them too!
We chose this name for you, Ezra Sparrow, because we want you to know that from the moment you were born God's hands have been helping & holding you.
EZRA: In the bible Ezra was a prophet & a scholar. His name means "helper" & is also short for "God is my helper". Ezra helped to gather God's people from exile & helped to lead them in rebuilding the temple wall which had been broken & destroyed. When we call you Ezra it is a prayer that your whole life would be rooted in our Lord, your faithful helper. And out of this rootedness, we pray that you will grow to be a helper & a healer, helping to rebuild what has been destroyed & bringing restoration where there is brokenness.
SPARROW: A line in an old gospel hymn summarizes Jesus' words & says "His eye is on the sparrow & I know he watches me" (Matthew 10). You, little sparrow, are a picture of this promise to us. We have felt God's hand on you even before you were born & celebrate His faithfulness in giving you life. When we call you Sparrow it is a prayer that you would find blessed assurance & peace in the great love of our God & that that knowledge would bring you comfort for all the days of your life.
Ezra, we pray that you be a helper. Sparrow, know that God is always with you.
[bangkok: the view from the roof of our apartment]
in mid-august we packed up our bags & transported our little family to bangkok to wait for the arrival of our new baby.
after a few hectic months (moving our office, moving into a new apartment ourselves, new leadership at mcc, deciding to extend our contract in cambodia) bangkok has been a welcome breath of fresh air. we love living in phnom penh, but have really appreciated the quiet family time, sidewalks, public parks, & wide variety of food we've found in bangkok.
here are some snapshots of how we've been filling our bangkok days.
[cedar cannot get enough of the parks & playgrounds]
[delicious street food - pad thai & mango sticky rice]
[eating fresh with some north american comfort foods]
[& eating not so fresh, when this 9-months pregnant mama is craving french fries!]
cedar is running full speed ahead into toddlerhood & so far, we've really been enjoying this phase with him! he's able to walk solidly now, so we have much fewer spills & tears. he can communicate pretty well what he wants, which makes life easier for all of us. he's split pretty evenly between english & khmer vocabulary (although its very possible that he knows some khmer words that we don't recognize as words!)
the last few months cedar has been happiest when playing with balls, looking at books, cuddling with his blanket & teddy bear, following ming kohm "yay, yay" (grandma) around the house & most of all, when playing in any sort of running water. he's started the beginnings of temper tantrums (which are nearly 100% correlated to times he has had to stop playing with running water) & seems to have learned very well how to dramatically throw himself on the ground when he doesn't want to do something/stop doing something.
most of the time, he's still our mellow & sweet little guy & (although we didn't think it was possible) even cuter, now that he has his own pair of suspenders!
one good (is that possible?) thing about the hot season here is that is comes with lots of holidays. after our april travels to sihanoukville & mondulkiri, we still got to celebrate the king's birthday in may with a 4-day long weekend. so, we hopped on a bus & then some moto taxis & finally a boat with our friend lisa to check out koh thmei, an island off the coast of cambodia. it was remote, relaxing & refreshing & went by in a flash! before we knew it we were sailing the fishing boat through a thunder storm on our way back to meet our bus to phnom penh. we got a bit nervous when the driver started bailing out buckets full of the rain water collecting in the boat, but all's well that end's well!
On May 1st we were privileged to join with thousands of Cambodian workers to celebrate International Workers' Day. Interestingly, it was a holiday that originated in Chicago, but is no longer celebrated in the USA.
The workers, from several unions in Cambodia and largely young women from the garment factories, were marching to present a petition to the government asking for the monthly minimum wage to be raised to a living wage of $131. Yes, you read that correctly, $131 per month. I know purchasing power parity is at play, but still that'sless than my previous job in Canada paid per day. Something about that just doesn't seem right.
I think their signs speak for themselves.
:: a decent wage for workers is the simplest form of justice::
We live in all we seek. The hidden shows up in too-plain sight.. It lives captive on the face of the obvious - the people, events, & things of the day...What a hideout: Holiness lies spread and borne over the surface of time & stuff like color.
-Annie Dillard, For The Time Being