June 28, 2011

Bali: Part One

My parents are now landing in Moscow on their way back to the states. We had such a great time while they were here. Here are the first few thousand pictures of their time here. Sorry I have no clue how to make a photo collage so they must be looked at one by one... and even though one pool picture would have sufficed, I'm posting a googillion anyway!  They spent 12 days with us at home before we all went to Bali for a vacation-within-a-vacation!
Grandparenting + Jet Lag - a proper guest bed = This :)
The grandparents helped with child-wrangling during the house-decor shopping. Also, we know that our new laundry basket can hold at least 32 pounds :)
Our neighbor (who does cake catering) sent over some cupcakes!
Before flying out to Bali we spent a day in the capital.  We went to see the "Two Tall Towers and A Bridge" as Isaac calls it. This miniature telescope thing was in the waiting area before getting on the elevator. It had pictures in it of the view from the bridge between the towers.
Ahhh...family pics on a hot hazy day in the capital. The boys loved it though!
Looking down from 41 floors up. That painted roof below is on top of a 6 story mall.  The towers have 88 floors, but the bridge is through the middle...still high though! They're currently the 4th tallest building in the world, and the tallest twin towers in the world.
With our house in moving-disarray and with all the traveling, we did a LOT of eating out.
...the plane to Bali...
Both boys slept on the flight! And both grandparents too!
The beach near our hotel was really dirty (great waves though if you're a surfer!) so we stuck to the pool. Isaiah attempted to drink all of it.
"Get Tight!" (which wasn't hard to make this face as the pool was cold!)
Grandmama brought water toys. And after just a few example shots and short tutoring, the boys got the hang of them pretty quickly. Though Isaiah still preferred to just try and drink the water from the pool.
I LOVE this picture. Isaac's face says everything a little boy's face should say about vacation.
Sandwich lunches on the porch...
...before awesome pool-tired naps!
Cute huh? Zay actually found a pack of gum and put several pieces in his mouth, wrappers and all. He didn't seem to mind at all.
And no trip to Bali would be complete without visiting "Ibu Oka's Babi Guling" (Mama Oka's Suckling Roasted Pig). This restaurant was featured on Anthony Bourdain's: No Reservations, Bali episode. Apparently after it aired, Ibu Oka had to move her shop to a larger location.
This is the skin of the babi guling.  For a long number of hours (can't remember how many) a whole pig is turned, constantly brushed with a sugar water mixture (with coconut milk too? Go watch the episode!) until the skin gets a crispy caramelized coating around it and the meat inside is oh-so tender.
There are rows of low tables lined up inside and everyone sits on the floor. You have basically 4 sets to choose from, but most get the standard set. We ordered four sets and chowed down. It was good!!
Then we walked the super touristy streets of Ubud (the town where Ibu Oka's is on the island of Bali) and found a gelato shop. Yum!
...and that's all for now. We'll start part 2 with the Monkey Forest in Ubud....

June 07, 2011


If you're going to go through immigration. You might as well go all out.

My parents flew into Singapore (and we were WAY late picking them up because we had the time all wrong). Singapore is an island. Singapore is actually another country, so we had to "leave the country" to go pick them up as Singapore's airport is closer than our capital city's airport.

After picking them up, it took us about 30 minutes of driving on the tiny nation-state-island of Singapore to find a gas station. Not sure why, one was just hard to find.  We needed a little extra to get us home as the grandparents were wanting showers after their day and a half of traveling.  Then we only had $10 Sing Dollars on us to get gas.  Instead of going through the trouble of getting some from the ATM, or taking even MORE time to find a money-changer and exchange currency, we just chose to get what little gas we could and fill up once we crossed the border.  I believe something like this was said as we noted what little gas we had, and what little gas we just added as we were leaving the gas station...

"Yeah, and every Singaporean car has to have at least 3/4 tank of gas in order to leave the country so that they don't just cross the border and fill up at our stations, which are subsidised by the gov't and way cheaper. SO glad we're not driving a Singaporean car!"

THEN we decided to take "The 2nd Link."  There are 2 bridges to exit the country of Singapore. One is the older, more traditionally used bridge which is usually more crowded, but crosses right over into our city and is only about 10 minutes from our house.  The "2nd Link" is the newer crossing, but it's farther out, so we've never taken it. But several of our friends said, "Oh! 2nd link is SOOOOO much faster! You NEVER have to wait. There are never any lines through immigration." And since we weren't in any huge hurry and were in a good mood to finally have the grandparents in the car, we took the 2nd link to avoid the Saturday traffic (takes about an hour of sitting on the traditional bridge in line). Or so we thought.

We exited through the Singapore Immigration station with ease. No lines. At about 12:00noon.

That's when the day took a very long turn for the more interesting.

You see, the Tradtional Bridge isn't very long... from exiting Singapore's immigration station to entering the immigration station over here, it's maybe 1/2 mile.

The "2nd Link" bridge is about 4 kilometers (2 miles?) from station to station.

About 1 kilometer in, traffic was piled up and not moving.  The next FOUR hours we waited in line to enter the immigration station on our country's side. With the car literally on "E" the entire time.

The rest can be told with the help of pictures...
Because we were technically in "no mans land" between the 2 borders, there was a fence lining the road.  When Isaiah started crying, we all really felt like we were trapped beside the Tyrannosaurus Paddock in Jurassic Park with a screaming Velociraptor in the car.
...Velociraptor. They don't like staying seated. Especially not when Daddy and Mama left the portable DVD player at home. But Grandmama helped saved the lunch-less car ride with a box of Pop-tarts, fresh from America.
While crawling at a snail's pace (mostly sitting for about 10-15 minutes at a time, then moving up a couple car spaces then sitting again) some passengers in the car found a way to escape their seats.
This was taken about 3 hours into the wait. That many-roofed building up there is the immigration station.  By this point there were many plans made for shin-kicking all those people who ever said "The 2nd Link is SO much faster."
Then we ran out of gas. This is my dad and I walking back from seeing if there was anyone at the immigration building who might be able to help. There wasn't. Big Surprise. So seeing as how we were in between two international borders and it would be difficult for any Roadside Service truck to come help us, we just stayed in traffic and Anthony and Daddy PUSHED the car the last hour or so through the line. That's right. PUSHED. As a Floridian who has seen their share of news stories of folks arriving on our shores on whatever they can find that floats, I now understand a bit better that if you don't make it happen in these situations, no one else is going to make it happen for you.
So then my mom and I took the boys to wait at the station in the shade instead of the no-longer-air-conditioned-car.  Along the walk up there, Isaiah lost a shoe. Would it be appropriate to push your car through an immigration line and someone not be barefoot? I think not. Thanks Zay for keeping it real.
Then this man appeared. This is a tried-to-be hero from Singapore who offered to siphon the gas from his tank and who gave us a Nalgene bottle to fill it up with. This man who had also waited 4 hours in his car and then delayed his journey even longer to help us out. He ALMOST saved the day. But even after some pretty intense martial arts breathing techniques (really, would the day be complete without some???) he couldn't muster the courage to suck the gas. If only Justin Stephens had been there. Nice Singaporean Man at least left us with the Nalgene bottle, the hose, and some well-wishes.
This was taken just after we had all gathered outside the car and stood in front of the immigration booth (everyone just usually sits in their car and it's like a drive thru, but they stamp your passport instead of give you french fries). We then pushed the car to the side and flagged down one of the many motorcycles zooming by (many work in Singapore factories and commute everyday).  One guy stopped to help. We handed him some money, our Nalgene bottle, and he gave us his word he'd go get some gas and bring it back up to the immigration building...so we waited about 20 more minutes....
...and that's just what he did.  He came back with a Nalgene full of gas.  He even refused to take a big thank you gift of money for his help.

So THAT folks is how you immigrate when you really want to take things up a few notches. And as much as my parents think it's funny now that they went through all that after flying for 30 hours to get here, I can assure you that the Rivers will now be taking the traditional bridge across on other trips to Singapore. Every. Single. Time.

June 01, 2011

"i3" is a...

Immanuelle Marie 

That's right! "i3" is a GIRL!
We are so excited and a little beside ourselves in thinking of all the change our DAUGHTER is going to bring to our home, our family, our future.  The Lord is so good and we are so thankful and delighting in His plan to build our family. So far we only have one pink item in the whole house for her... this...
A cloth diaper! Anthony said he bought it weeks ago and hid it from me (he was a little more confident in his guess than I was!) He dropped me off for my appointment then went and parked the car. When we left the doctor's office I opened the door to the car and there was that cute pink and purple diaper sitting there waiting.  I said, "How did you do this?" He said, "Well, I guessed, but I figured if I was wrong we could just give it to Bobby and Martha for Mary Grace."  My cousins Bobby and Martha juuuuust had their 3rd baby girl Mary Grace. SO excited to give Mary Grace a cousin her age that she can play dolls with! (wait...hang on...having a moment here thinking of all the different kinds of toys soon to invade our house!) Go see an ADORABLE picture of Miss Mary Grace here!

About our name choice:
First. We know it is usually used for boys born with a Latin American heritage.  I grew up in a majority-Mexican town and am well aware of this. She will probably spend most of her life not in the presence of very many Latinos, and we're good with her name being "different."
We also know it is a long name, but are confident that she will be smart enough to learn to say it, spell it, read it, and write it one day.  There are a plethora of nicknames that can come from her name, so if she decides she's a "Mannie" or an "Iman" (faith in Arabic) or an "Elle" "Ellie" or "Ella" more power to her.  We just know these things have rolled through our heads in deciding and the few who know her name already have said similar things.  We love it and think it will fit her perfectly!

I first thought of this name, with this spelling, when I was 18 weeks pregnant with Isaac. So nearly 4 years ago. I clearly remember the night I was washing dishes, wondering if the next ultrasound of our baby (Isaac) would show again that he was REALLY a boy. We hadn't thought of a girl's name and loved the name Isaac Joseph. Then out of nowhere (I was by myself in the kitchen), really before it even went through my mind, I spoke the name "Immanuelle" out loud. Just barely audible, but 'out' there. Isaac WAS a boy, so we just packed the name up.
For those of you familiar with the Christmas story and any Christian worship songs where a "list" of names is given about Jesus,  know that "Emmanuel" or "Immanuel" is part of that. "God with us" is what it means.  A name full of promise.  Sure our Latin American friends like to use it a lot, but it's a Hebrew name, just like her big brothers' names.
The boys names both start with "I-S-A" and while Isabelle was surely a contender we're good with this choice and think it goes well with the boys. "Isa" (Ee-sa) is the Arabic pronunciation of "Jesus."  So while the boys have "Jesus" IN their names, Immanuelle will have one of Jesus' actual names.

Also, the more I say it, the more feminine it sounds to me. Those guys I went to highschool with fade from memory when I say it.  Immanuel (Eh-man-you'll) or Manuel (Man-well) is how I've always heard it pronounced with "boys." We are saying it "EE-man-u-elle" like it's sometimes sung when the syllables are all drawn out :)  And the "-elle" on the end like "Michelle" or "Danielle" makes it look more feminine as well. 

Isaac's middle name is Joseph, which is Anthony's middle name and also a family name on my side. Isaiah's is Kingston and while not originally chosen for this reason (we chose it while we were pregnant with Isaac too, so didn't know we'd have a half-Jamaican son!), his birth father was born in Jamaica and so his middle name heralds his ethnic heritage. 
"Mary" is Anthony's Mom's and Grandma's name. Mary Lou and Mary Ann respectively.  I have no problems with Mary, but when said with Immanuelle, "Marie" following it seems to have a nice rhythm to it. Like the accent in Marie goes with Immanuelle better than Mary. Say both of them, "Immanuelle Mary" and "Immanuelle Marie"...you agree don't you? I thought so! ;)
The "connection" behind the name will certainly be, and we will tell her, that she is named after her grandmother and great-grandmother on her father's side.

So there ya have it folks. Our little girl. Pink. Purple. Dolls. Braided hair. Disney Princesses. Nail polish. Wedding gown. All of it is headed to the Rivers house care of Miss Immanuelle Marie.

And here is a belly picture at 20 weeks.  This is the FIRST belly shot I've ever taken with a fellow-pregnant friend. She's about 2 weeks ahead of me, but is carrying twin boys. Oh. My. As much as I get comments that "Oh, I can't even tell you're pregnant!" I think we're holding our own next to twin boys!