Oct 24, 2009

New Family Member

Meet Sandy!
Sandy is the newest member of our family.  The girls have been wanting a dog for years but we haven't had a place where it would be suitable to keep one.  Our new place has a back yard so we told the girls we'd get a dog when we got back to VN and got settled in.  I was thinking I'd go to Thailand and get a large family friendly dog but a couple days after arriving this little dog kept barking at me whenever I'd go get my motorbike from the parking garage.  Sandy, formerly with a VNese name she nor I remember, lived in the parking garage on a 3ft chain for the last 8 years.  She was filthy as you can imagine.  She lived, pottied, ate and slept in the same 3ft of space.   The reason she was chained up was because she was a Japanese breed and that makes her valuable.  How sad. (Actually we just found out that she is a "Cavalier King Charles Spaniel" - a big fancy name for a tiny dog! - sc)

Now she is often found on Sherm's pillow.  But don't worry, she's all cleaned up, got her shots, de-flead and is so very loving!  She craves attention and gets plenty.  Right now she is out at the park with Hannah and Allison.  They are all three dressed up as princesses.  Sandy is wearing her pink chiffon cape.  The girls can do anything to this dog and she happily complies.

She is not potty trained yet so her bouts in the house are only a couple hrs at a time.  But she's catching on.

Oct 23, 2009

Vietnam Dong

This afternoon  I was at the bank and I was astounded by the amount of cash going around.  Bricks and bricks of cash were being passed back and forth from tellers and customers.  Can you imagine living in a cash society where checks and credit cards don't exist?  Debit cards were introduced a couple years ago and people do tend to do direct deposit more frequently but really most things are done in cash still: rent, purchasing a house, hospital bills, buying a motorbike, etc!  So when you see a poor frail looking granny with her cone hat on, don't assume her little plastic bag just contains a fish from the market.  She could have three bricks of 500,000 Dong in there.  Plus she could probably karate chop your leg off!

The largest bill now is the 500,000 pictured above.  It's worth about $28.  The money'''s called Dong but pronounced Dome.

And if you have a gambling problem I don't suggest you go to the bank I went to today.  They just have stacks of money laying all around on the tables and floor, vault doors lay wide open and security seems a little lazy but then maybe the security is so discrete I couldn't detect it.

Oct 13, 2009

Moving along alright

This is a great picture.  Not only is it a snap shot of the traffic but it also has a sign for the hilarious Hafasco Company.  Say that slowly: Hafasco (ie, not where you go if you want quality - sc)

This isn't my footage but it's a good sample of the roads now days.  Click it.  Picture us in it.  Crazy!

In the year we've been gone, traffic has becoming down right scary. When we first arrived in Vietnam more than 7 years ago motorbikes were king of the road with bicycles, more numerous by far, being the little guy making way for the zooming scooters. We were cyclists at the time and for our first two years. When we graduated to motorbikes we joined the big kings of the road and though traffic was hectic, it wasn't scary. Once you see through the chaos you notice a flow like blood cells squeezing through a vein.

Now, cars are king of the road and those of us on motorbike must give way or be squashed. Traffic is more hectic. Horns are inhumanely loud. But the cars aren't the scary ones it's the intercity buses that turn my body cold and send pains of fear throughout my legs when they literally push me forward with their screams and 'taps'.

It took me a week to venture out on my motorbike. A week and a half to drive with Hannah on the front. And two weeks to put both girls on the bike with me. But we did it today. We made it. No huge scares, just lots of medium scares. Allison rode in the front of me. Hannah rode in the back.

The buses screamed at us all along the way, but the girls remained calm and chatted the whole way! I pretended to be calm and did not answer any of their questions. My eyes could only focus on all the pedestrians walking in front of us, the other motorbike drivers zig-zagging in and out, the cars pushing us over and the buses bullying us.

We are back to being real road Hanoians.

Oct 5, 2009

First Day of School

It's October but today was our first official day of Homeschooling in Vietnam.  It turned out great and Hannah asked if we could carry on after lunch.  We really only need to work until lunch and then she's free to do her 'chores' and play outside.    It was really cute though when Hannah said, "Today I felt like we were back in Texas!  I like Homeschool!"

We started out with our Bible Memory work.  Both girls can do the same activities for Bible, art and read aloud but then they have separate work for language and maths.  

Tomorrow morning will be Vietnamese language preschool, but I think Allison will have to miss out due to a fever today.  What a bummer.  She's super excited about taking the bus home.  

In other news, I took my motorbike for a spin. I just went to the local market and back. Easy smeezy!! Now on to the big congested roads....

Oct 3, 2009

Tet Trung Thu

Had a fun celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival in the Water Village tonight. Like the name suggests, it is a celebration of the mid-point of autumn according to the lunar calendar. It's also known as the moon festival since that's when the moon is the fullest, hence the eponymous moon cakes that are made especially for the ocassion. For kids, it's kind of like Hallowe'en and Christmas rolled into one: they dress up and get lots of candy, and they get lots of toys too. Not a bad deal. 

Hannah and Allison had a great time, but faded fast at 7:30 pm. They're feeling more and more at home here in Hanoi. The house is cleaned up and set up to just about how we want it. On Monday, they'll start homeschool and Tuesday will go to Ohana, their Vietnamese kindergarden (they had a great reunion with their former teachers when we went to enroll them last week). Things have been going well.  - sc

Deliver Us

This morning the Lord directed me to read Psalm 18.  How fitting.  We walked a walk similar to that of David this week - though on a much smaller scale.

Psalm 18

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.
From His temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.
The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded.
He shot his arrows and scattered the enemies, great bolts of lightning and routed them.
He reached down from  on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes who were too strong for me/
The Lord was my support.
He brought me out into a spacious place;
He rescued me because he delighted in me.
He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.
It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.

Oct 1, 2009

Humid like Platoon

Did you ever see that movie Platoon where sweaty men traipse  through the jungles of Vietnam during the American War?  Remember how shiny they were?  That's us right now.  But according to AccuWeather.com this Sunday the temp is to be 37C with a real feel of 58C.   That's crazy!  Do you realize 58C is 136F??????

We're Here

I have so many thoughts on our reentry, so many new observations about Hanoi but I don't know how to sum it all up just yet. 

While it has definitely been an adjustment, it's been good.  And God is good.  All the time.

As I uploaded the photo of our bathtub it was a shock to see pictures from Texas uploading at the same time.  Was it really a week ago that we were in Texas driving our own car? Speaking English in stores?  Seeing friends from Northwood? Enjoying that central air-conditioning?  Wow, seems so far away.  

So this is our crazy new bathtub.  We didn't have a bathtub last time we lived here and as you can see we are double blessed because for some reason there are two taps!   One for each girl?  hmmm  The bathtub also moves around.  You can scoot it around the bathroom and position it any way you want.   The main thing is to make sure you got it under the tap when the water is on.  

We love our new place.  Right now it's a big grungy but when i get a fresh coat of paint on the walls and some pretty curtains I'll post pictures.   Though in stating how we like our new place, I keep in mind that Allison keeps requesting to go back to Texas.  She says Texas is better than Vietnam.   But then she sees the benefits of Vietnam when I take her to the backyard to pick a banana from our own banana tree and let her feed it to the deer that live across the street.  How cool is that!