Easter Duds

Dressing up never ever ever happens in our life here. But Stella has a few fancyschmancy (and beautiful!) smocked dresses that she neeeeeds to wear before she outgrows them. What to do?

Well, hello and thank you Easter!

We celebrated the Resurrection with some friends. It was perfect: simple, time for reflection, yummy food, and our baby girl all gussied up.

Here are some pics. For posterity, of course.

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Christmas 2013.

Hi. It’s been awhile, but I’m still here, promise.

Two months later (!!!), here is a glimpse of our first Christmas with sweet baby girl.

Christmas Eve we went to some friends’ apartment for a candlelight gathering and a Christmas feast. Christmas Eve is my favorite of all holidays throughout the year, and this year was no exception. Michael made a delicious tenderloin (that man can cook! but only when he makes up his mind it’s worth it) and StellaB hung out with her favorite, Addie.

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(See the glimpse of green? Finally started cloth diapering. So far I’m a fan, but still figuring out how to avoid diaper rash.)

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With Cat and Adelaide. Addie is totally obsessed with Stella, and freaks out every time she sees her.

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The feeling is mutual, I think.

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Baby besties!

Christmas morning Michael and I exchanged stockings and presents (he made a rolling island for me!–y’all, his woodworking skills are truly amazing) and then friends came over for brunch and presents (our little group drew names for the exchange). Stella was so happy all morning long, and we stayed in our pajamas until evening, when we went out for the traditional (ha!) Christmas dinner of street dumplings.

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Happy girl.

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With Jess and Owens.

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Matching pajamas for the win!

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All in all a great day, and we continue to be more thankful than ever for this little bean we call our own.


Graduation

I’m one happy girl because, after just about six weeks apart, Michael is back! He arrived laaaate Monday night and is currently fighting off jet lag and readjusting to America. I’m just happy we’re on the same side of the world again.

Before he got back, though, my baby sister celebrated a momentous occasion: college graduation! Helen is the last of the Farnsworth girls to graduate from Auburn, and I know my parents breathed a huge sigh of relief to be finished with tuition after 12 continuous years. Although truth be told, I think they were more than a little sad to realize their baby is really and truly grown up and off to the real world; she started a real job in Nashville on Monday.

It was a cold and nasty day (high of 53 degrees in an Alabama May!), but we had fun celebrating little Hel-Hel. So proud of her!

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Springtime catch-up

Hey y’all. I’ve disappeared from the blog, apparently, but the life update is this: I’m in America, Michael is in Asia, and all is well. Baby girl is still a girl, best we can tell, and I’m hanging out with my parents in Alabama until Michael gets back in May. We’ve been sad to be apart (a measly total of not quite six weeks: how on earth do military families do it???) but I’m thankful for time with my family in the meantime.

I’m way behind on things that have happened in our life, but here are some photos from Asia just before I left.

The Saturday before Easter, we went with some friends to a (sort of) petting zoo about an hour from where we live. We had fun hanging out and saw some cool stuff, but–not gonna lie–parts were really sad as some of the animals seemed to live in less than ideal situations. The low-light was a tie between the performance featuring a dancing bear and monkey performing to blaring pop tunes, and the lion cages (more on that in a minute).

Still, we enjoyed one another’s company and–look on the bright side–when else can you feed a giraffe or pet a baby leopard?

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Meredith, Sam and Kelsey in our safari golf cart.

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The first stop of our tour was this yard (fenced in so we didn’t get to pet anything here) with kangaroos. The worker walked out with this bag and out popped baby Roo!

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Then we went to the giraffe area and got to feed and pet the giraffes.

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I freaked out a little.

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Post-giraffe and after we walked out on the dancing bear performance (we just couldn’t take it anymore!) we found the tiger enclosure. In the zoo’s defense, apparently the big cat area is under construction and will be open in May, but y’all, it was so so sad to see this whole row of tigers locked up in little cages. Also, scary. These cats were not happy campers and there was some roaring going on.

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Also some fighting: these guys were getting after it.

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The coolest part by far was when we walked out of the tiger cages to find this guy taking a baby leopard out of a cardboard box. A crowd quickly formed, but we were able to pet her and play for a bit. I did feel comforted because this worker (same guy with baby kangaroo) really did seem to care about the animals and enjoy playing with them.

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The next day was Easter, which was low-key and laid-back this year. Michael and I hung out at home all morning before meeting with friends later in the afternoon. I’ve hardly any pictures, but here are a few from our photo shoot. (I feel like I look huge in these pictures–which is true, but I honestly think it had something to do with the flow of the dress. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself!)

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Joy

This weekend was fun, that’s all there is to be said.

Sweet friends in our city showed so much love to us and baby girl with a shower to celebrate her little life. It was pretty much perfect by my standards: yummy food, good friends, and the sole activity was decorating the most adorable little onesies for her. (Well, that and prayer.)

I feel so thankful. I could say it a thousand times, but it still doesn’t seem to come close to expressing how much I really mean it. So, so, so thankful.

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Getting to work: Cat’s mom is  visiting from America and graciously brought in the plain white onesies, the stencils, and some iron-on appliques. I’m biased, but I think it’s basically the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.

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These friends are all girls who plan on being in the area for the long haul. Sweet Kelly (far right) even took the train in from a near-by city for the weekend! I’m really grateful to have each of them in my life as consistency is very much the exception and not the rule to our lives in Asia.

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Mrs. Aughtman (Cat’s mom) demonstrating how it’s done.

 

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Cat, Kelly, and Kayla. See the photos strung up on the TV? They decorated with some cute pics of baby Michael and me. Note to self: toddler Michael had some really cute, chunky legs. I hope little girl gets that.

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Amanda and me, with Kelsey kind of photo bombing in the background.

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My American friends who live in the neighborhood.

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And Kelly (doesn’t she look pretty?), crafting a masterpiece of a bib with all of our thumbprints starring as flower petals. Aren’t my friends creative?


Snips and snails and puppy dog tails

That’s what little boys are made of.

We’ll find out soon enough, for little Baby Greg is a boy! We’re thrilled, and knowing that we’re (90% sure to) have a little boy makes everything seem more real.

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Boys are par for the course in the Gregory fam: Michael is the middle of three boys and his older brother and his wife have three boys, capped off with one girl. For me, though, boys are foreign territory. In my maternal line there hasn’t been a little boy in probably a hundred years, as I’m the oldest of four girls, my mom is one of two sisters and her mom is one of two girls, and not one boy to be found in the bunch. Even my dad is the only boy in his family and grew up with two younger sisters. I can’t wait but I’ve truthfully no idea what to do with a baby boy…. although truth be told, I don’t know much about raising humans, period. I guess we’re about to find out!

Our families in the States had this feeling it was going to be a girl (well, except for my mom), but our friends here are not even a little surprised. I think I had one Asian friend tell me she thought it was a girl, compared to about 15 guesses for boy. Most based it on a feeling or the way I look, but several also said it was a boy because of what I’ve been eating (sour and salty, not spicy), which I think is the same way people guess in America.

We’re just grateful we got the chance to find out what baby is–because of the one-child policy and a strong cultural preference for a son, the birth ratio here has been skewed in favor of boys for years now. As a part of the government’s attempt to normalize the birth ratio, ultrasounds to determine gender are illegal for locals. However, because we are foreigners and our doctor is also a foreigner who is not worried we would abort if it was a girl, we were able to sidestep the regulations.

We truly could not be more excited about baby boy Greg. I feel overwhelmed with gratitude and thankfulness every single day, and am just so.darn.happy. about this amazing gift with which God has blessed us. So thankful to think that in just a few more short months we will actually have a tiny son.

My heart is full. All is grace.

 

 


Four by Four

Year One

Just married. Living in Chattanooga. Figuring out ourselves, each other, the future. Learning that being loved is sometimes harder than loving, that marriage is a whole lot of both fun and work. We were just glad to finally be together, on the same continent, facing job searches and dinner cooking and weekend adventures. We’d worked 40-hour weeks before, but this was different, somehow: life as real grown-ups.

Year Two

A time of transition, of setting our direction and working, together, to accomplish it.  This was a very in-between year; a period of looking forward but enjoying the present.

Year Three

Adventures abound! We moved to Asia. Settled in. Adjusted to new friends, new schedules, new challenges and joys. Remembered why we came back and the unique joys and challenges of life in the east. Explored our world together. I remember lots of laughter from this year. Growing pains, yes (aren’t there always?), but mostly shared food and wine and fellowship.

Year Four

The hardest, and maybe best, of all. We moved, again. Got a dog. Visited America (twice, actually) and then came home to Asia. This was the year, I think, when we really understood what it means to carry the other’s sorrows and to share each other’s joys. That it’s the two of us, in it for always, with each other.

Partners.

Happy fourth anniversary to us. Here’s to many more to come.