Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Worst Countries for Women


1. Afghanistan
2. Congo
3. Pakistan
4. India
5. Somalia

Did you know that if you are a girl in Afghanistan and you try to go to school, you have a high probability of having acid thrown in your face to deter you from trying to get an education?

Did you know that in Congo, they rape little girls, some as little as 1 year old, with the bayonet end of a gun as a daily part of warfare?

Did you know that in India, it is illegal to tell a woman the sex of her baby? Too many mothers and fathers abort baby girls in favor of the baby boy they will try for the next time. A baby girl is an expense, a liability, a waste.

My neighbor, D, has one daughter. She and her husband are well-to-do, educated, sophisticated and smart. They wanted their beautiful little girl. She tells me that her mother-in-law was so disappointed when their daughter was born she rebuked her in the hospital. "Why did you have to have a daughter? I had three sons." Deepakshi tried to tell her that it is actually the male who determines the sex of the baby. "Don't give me that educated bullsh*t," she said, "YOU figure out how to have a boy."

It is 2011. We are scheduled to have our third daughter in the next few days in a country that ranks the top five list of Worst Countries for Women. I would love to have a son one day, but if God gives me fifty daughters, I would be honored to usher them into this world, to celebrate their lives, their gifts, their everything. My daughters are a constant source of joy and awe, every bit as valuable as sons. I am so blessed to be married to a man who gets it, who cherishes and protects his daughters and treats them as dignified princesses worthy of his time and attention and adoration. Please labor with me to celebrate the daughters all over the world who fight every day to learn, to grow, to breath. Please read this, if only just to know what we so easily take for granted.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Lily Turns Two!!

er...two months ago. Sorry Lils.

Lily actually turned two somewhere around the International dateline. We were flying to Japan at the time and basically, she spent her birthday on an airplane. We celebrated with our beloved grandparents, cousins and aunts and uncles on the 25th, rather than the 27th, and Lily was none the wiser. Maybe because she wasn't technically older yet. Maybe.

Granne and Gee-Daddy graciously hosted the party.
These are our swanky goodie bags for the kids.
The theme of the party was: we're-leaving-the-country-in-2-days-and-I-didn't-get-goodie-bags.
When asked what kind of cake she wanted, Lily said, "A Liney Cake,"
which is, of course, a lion cake.
Don't say it doesn't look like a lion.
It totally looks like a lion.
My awesome little brother and his beautiful wife were a BIG hit at the par-tay.
I look REALLY pregnant in this pic. I think part of it is because Aunt Ray is so slender and svelte. Thanks a lot, Aunt Ray, for making the rest of us look so...pregnant.
Munching pretzels around the pool.
And drinking juice boxes. Because what's a party without a juice box?
The brothers, the daddies talk deep stuff by the pool.
But who steals the show and GETS IN the pool with the kiddos!?
That would be uncle Jimmy.
There is a picture somewhere of Uncle Jimmy in Annie's pink goggles...
but I'm not sure where. Check Ray's facebook page...
Jimmy saves children from the pool dog pipe that seems to so easily entangle them.
Gee-Daddy hard at work at the grill. Tireless. selfless. Grill-master.
My beautiful sister-in-law Kimberly, who also saved a particular child from the pool dog pipe. Annie got tangled up and really was panicking. Before I could say "Mommy's coming!" Kimberly jumped in the pool with all her clothes on and saved Annie from drowning. Annie was hysterical. Kimberly was stinking AMAZING. She had to do a costume change and wear my clothes for the rest of the night.
Thank you, Kimberly, for saving Annie's life.
We love and appreciate you and your brood more than you know.
Aaaaaaaaand this is about the best family photo we got before the kids changed into swim suits. I pride myself on really bad family photos. Or, I should.
Then I might be able to be prideful about something.
And friends
(We missed you, Nolls!)
You are a beautiful, spunky, feminine, tough, hilarious, articulate little lady. You have an incredibly sensitive spirit. You notice when people are sad or hurting and you always try to comfort them (unless you are stealing their toys). Every night you thank me for making dinner. In fact, you thank people for things often and say, "You're welcome!" when thanked. You say "Ha-poh-doo" instead of hippopotamus, "tigey" instead of tiger, "liney" instead of lion, and "Gloly" instead of Gloria, but you're pretty dead on for most words in the English language. You can count to ten in tamil and say a few phrases in Hindi and Japanese. You adore Annie and copy a lot of what she does, but you're your own little chick, too, and you are NOT one to be pushed around. You're a drama queen (that would be your mamma), but surprisingly mellow (and that would be your daddy). You're not really that into chocolate or even sweets, but you love a good cinnamon roll. You crack yourself up and you make the rest of us laugh while you do it. You have been a really gentle transition and you teach me to love and cherish motherhood in new ways. You already drink life pretty dry and I can't wait to see what you'll do in the world. You are a treasure, my little one. And I am so glad you're two!
Can't wait to see what this next year brings.

p.s. Video of present opening/candle blowing out coming soon.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Month and A Half (Now Accounted For): Part IV Orlando, again

Wednesday June 15-Friday June 24, 2011
In this short amount of time, all four Iversons had physicals, I saw an awesome midwife, Jonathan and I combined our fifth anniversary getaway with a speaking engagement at the beach nearby and got a night away while my parents kept the girls, we saw a precious few friends, took some walks, swam almost every day, and saw our Oviedo-Iverson cousins every possible chance we had, visited the library and the science center, had another date with Jim and Ray, and even sold our beloved Pathfinder.
It was wonderful, albeit, not so relaxing. :)
The girls help Gee-Daddy walk Callie-doggy.
(Because everyone needs two names...)

The girls joined us for the second evening of our beach getaway.
It was a sweet reminder of our marriage and lives not being our own.
And that is a really really good thing.
My precious, beautiful daughters.

Lily DID have on goggles too, and the picture was a lot funnier.
But she tired of them quickly and ripped them off.
My dear friend from high school who came over one afternoon and just hung out, no agenda, just a listening ear and playing sweetly with Annie while Lily napped. Katie was an incredible Monkey Tree and Annie (and Lily!) warmed to her almost immediately. That's saying a lot for these two third culture kids...
With Granne before Lily's 2nd Birthday Party.

We were incredibly blessed to sell this faithful car for almost exactly what we asked for it just days before we left to return to S. Asia. But it really was bittersweet. We have clocked so many miles up and down the Southeast visiting friends and family. We traveled through our honeymoon itinerary in the Pathfinder. This car brought home both our babies.
It's just a car, I know, but there are so many memories we've made together. :) I'm a sentimental dork, I know. But we'll miss our little car.
On to the next chapters...

Noa's Red Purse

Do you remember my little niece, Noa?
Her name is Japanese.
The kanji, No and Ai together, mean "Beautiful Love."

Remember that red purse I wrote about a few weeks ago?
Here, Annie holds it back in October of 2010.
It's really Noa's red purse.
Here in May of 2011, it is still one of her favorite things, a beloved and beautiful accessory.
She always had it on Sundays at church, packed with her ever-rotating arsenal of treasures.
She was a such a little lady as she carried it.
Noa's mamma, Jonathan's sister, Sara-Beth and her husband Eric are always such a wonderful example to me as we have raised our children side-by-side for nearly two years in Orlando. While my first instinct is to defend and guard my children's possessions, Sara-Beth and Eric were always encouraging their children to give away their belongings or to let Annie or Lily borrow them. Annie has borrowed countless books, clothing items, favorite dresses, toys and more from Martha and Noa over our months together, and learned to be better at sharing because of it. At first, I didn't get it. Sure, you can borrow one of our toys, if we can borrow one of yours. But these sisters (because, come to think of it, ALL my sisters-in-law do this well!) of mine are incredibly generous not only with their own things, but the things that belong to their children. And they encourage their children to have an eternal, kingdom perspective on everything that is "ours," because really...it's not ours. It's on loan from a generous Father who reminds us that life itself is but a breath, let alone a doll or a purse or a princess dress-up dress that moth and rust will surely destroy long before the end of time.

Like I said, I learn a lot from my sisters.

So we found ourselves on the receiving end of generosity yet again, as Annie cried and coveted Noa's red purse while we were in the states. And I watched as Eric called Noa into his lap and whispered in her ear and her little face grew serious. Annie was crying and totally unaware of the gift she was about to receive. And as her daddy finished whispering in her ear, on our last night together in the mountains, Noa emptied her purse into a plastic bag, walked over to her younger cousin and gave her the purse I've never seen her without.

I know this seems dramatic, but it spoke such volumes to me, this four year old CHILD giving away, perhaps, her most treasured possession because she got it. She gets it. She knew it wasn't hers to cling to. And she knew it would bless her cousin. And there were probably a million other things going on in that little mind that understood the coming of the kingdom a lot more than her Aunt Maggie.
But I get it more now, Noa. Thanks to you. And I'll keep trying to get my feeble, self-protecting, not-trusting, foolish, selfish mind around it every day. Thanks to you.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Month and a Half (Now Accounted For): Part III North Carolina

Wednesday June 8-Wednesday June 15, 2011
On Wednesday morning, my mom and I left VA in our Pathfinder so the fellows could attend the conference there sans distractions and headed for one of my favorite places in the world: Hound Ears, NC.
Sara-Beth (my lovely sister-in-law) met us on the way and brought her three little girls, close in age to Annie and Lils to spend a few days with us there.
The fellows planned to arrive late the following eve.

We had lots of fun cooking together, talking, going to the park...
Martha, born three months after Annie
Gloria (Gloly) born three months after Lily

We did nails and make-up on the porch of my family's cabin.
I've been coming here since I was about Noa's age (Noa, on my left).
Beautiful Aunt Sara-Beth and two of her precious three.
The men arrived Thursday night
And Friday we filled the day with fun in the beautiful sunshine and natural beauty of NC.
Here, a walk around Bass Lake.

Gloria was very gracious and let Lily sit in her stroller
(an anomaly since we don't use one here in S. Asia--due to the lack of sidewalks and uneven streets and wild dogs and rats and...well...it's easier to pick up the child and run from danger when they're not strapped into the stroller. I digress).
but when she wasn't sitting in it, Lily wanted to "help" push it.

Picnic lunch.
No trash to be found ANYWHERE!
The five little girls
(We missed our Trinity and KG, but we know Danny's allergies were glad to be elsewhere...)
That night we went to Price Lake Park,
Another memory from my childhood,
cooked out, played in the creek...

and of course had a photo shoot.
Because that's what you do when Aunt Sara-Beth is around. She is the best photo shoot planner and accomplisher!
She let Lilsy borrow Glo's tutu (that Aunt Sara crafted from elastic and tule) and make the creek look like a fairy land.

Friends and cousins
The McDougalls and Iversons
An Iverson effort at a family photo.
Take 25
(That baby you see in there is coming out any day now!!!)
The Nolls left us on Saturday morning and we haven't see them since.

The following Monday, my parents went with us to Grandfather Mountain!
I haven't been since I was little and it was so fun and (almost) like I remembered it.
Duke sweatshirt=only warm thing I could find in the house.
NOT a change of allegiance.

Not Mildred. But a nice bear, anyway.
Our lunch spot had me praying almost ceaselessly that none of my family would fall over the edge with their wildman father.
When we got up to the mile high suspension bridge, I made Jonathan strap in the Lilster.
She has poor judgement.

Enjoying Ice Cream after a hard day.
J and the girls hiked down the mountain together while the rest of us wimps drove.

Last breakfast on the porch on Wednesday morning.
Lily by the Hydrangeas. They bloom so effortlessly, here.
Sweet time in the beautiful country.