Monday, August 31, 2009

Dallas Cowboys Stadium!

I am a HUGE football fan, and could not be more excited that football season will be upon us in less than one week (college games start this Saturday!!!).  We were extremely fortunate this weekend in that a wonderful colleague of mine who has season tickets to the Cowboys' games gave us two tickets for Saturday's preseason game.  While I would normally be excited to see the Cowboys play in person, this year has even more signficance because it was our first chance to see the inside of the huge new stadium in Arlington.  While the Cowboys' playing skills left something to be desired, the stadium did not disappoint.  It is really incredible.  The jumbo screen is seriously distracting it is so big.  Cool, though.  I am quite certain that I will never be able to afford to purchase tickets outright to attend another game, so I tried to soak it all in. 

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A beautiful day!

The weather today was absolutely incredible.  It is hard to believe it is still August.  While I am certain it won't last long, it was a nice taste of the coming Fall, and it was wonderful to spend the day outside on the farm and not melt in the heat for the first time in a while.  Sometimes when we have a day like today, it really puts everything in perspective and makes me appreciate the little things and the reasons why we chose to live where we do, doing the things that we do.  I thought I'd share a few snapshots of the "little things" that I appreciated about today.

A caterpillar eating our passion vine.  We've got hundreds of them, and they turn into the most beautiful orange butterflies.  Every time I see one I think about Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  Great book, by the way.  I thought everyone had read this book as a kid, until Aaron told me he had no idea what I was talking about. 
Here are the guineas, all grown up!  They are VERY noisy, just like everyone warned us.  I think they think they are chickens, because they seem to like hanging out with them and eating their food, rather than hunting for grasshoppers.  But Aaron seems to like them, so I guess they're here to stay.
A beautiful lily that bloomed this morning for the first time since we planted the bulbs two years ago.  It sure took a while, but the payoff isn't bad.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Christina goes to college

As most of you know, we very much enjoy working with Karen refugees who live in Dallas. I've posted about one of our dearest friends, Caroline, in the past. Caroline is a Karen refugee who has become a friend, cultural liaison, interpreter, and advisor over the course of the past three years. When her youngest daughter, Christina, graduated from high school in May of this year, we were so excited! Christina applied and was accepted to UTA, and last week we took on the role of her "additional" parents, shopping for school supplies, room decor, and textbooks to prep her for college. She's got a great place to live (thanks, Nada!) and a great bike for transportation (thanks, Beverly!) and just finished her first day of classes. We are thrilled for Christina, her family, and the entire Karen community as she begins this new journey in her life and we will be right beside her every step of the way!
Here is Christina posing on her new pink bedspread:

And here she is with her proud mom, Caroline:

Monday, August 3, 2009

Karen Refugees

This summer we've gotten very involved with the Karen refugee community in Dallas. We first found out about these refugees from Burma through our work with Agape clinic, and have since engaged in a good deal of outreach in getting to know the community and helping out where we can. The Karen are an ethnic group that has suffered tremendous persecution from the Burmese army, and those who are able to escape to Thailand usually spend years waiting in refugee camps along the Thai-Burma border to be granted asylum to the US. Several hundred have ended up in Dallas over the past few years. Most have very limited English skills, and are completely overwhelmed with the prospect of living in an apartment in the middle of Dallas and trying to find a job and cope with stressors that come with living in a new country.

One of the people we've been working with is PuLu, who is an incredible furniture craftsman. We've added a few pages to our website to promote his work--just go to our and click on the link that says "Hand-Crafted Furniture." Please check it out and help us spread the word if you can. We also created a pdf brochure on the same page that can be printed and distributed if you'd like to help. He's a talented artist and really wants to be able to support his family doing what he loves to do--creating beautiful hand made furniture. We're trying to find ways to build up a customer base or to find stores that would sell his furniture on consignment, so if you have ideas, please let us know. We're also looking for a space that he could use to build larger pieces, as right now he's having to build the furniture in the living room of his family's one bedroom apartment--not an ideal situation!

Another family we've been working with consists of several generations living in an apartment in Garland (east of Dallas). The grandfather ("PuPu") was a farmer back in Burma, and for the past few months has been asking if he could grow vegetables here in Dallas. After a lot of asking and convincing, the apartment complex agreed to allow PuPu and his family to grow vegetables on an unused porton of land at the apartment complex. We loaded up soil, compost, shovels, and landscape timbers, and got to work. Here are some pictures of the inital garden work last Friday.

Some of the kids found a garden snake and were enthralled:

Helping to transplant the grass to another area of the complex:

Pupu and his son in law, Taw Paw, digging the garden bed:

After our hard work in the garden , we took some of the kids (and adults) to the circus. It was quite a challenge trying to explain what a "circus" was before we went--but everyone had a blast. Here are a few pics:

If you would like to help improve the Karen refugees' lives in America, there are lots of things to do! You can volunteer your time or donate money to help with the purchase of materials for the garden or for wood for PuLu's furniture. You can order furniture, or donate space for a makeshift workshop. You can donate seeds, shovels, soil, compost, etc. for the garden. You can provide transportation to take a refugee to see a health care provider, or donate a car to be used to transport several people to work. You could help find jobs, school clothes, and English classes. The possibilities are really limitless. Please let us know if you want to help--they (and we) need you!!!

Around Town

My friend, Carla, came to visit us last week and stayed for four days. Carla was my coworker and friend when we lived in Hawaii, and she had never been to visit Texas before. We wanted to give her a real Texas experience, and we had a great time. I thought I'd highlight a few of the things that we did in case they might come in handy for others:

Chuys--A trip to Texas would not be complete without LOTS of great Tex Mex food. Chuy's has a crazy, fun, atmosphere, great margaritas, and good food.

South Dallas Cafe--Authentic Southern food served cafeteria style in a building that appears to be a former generic chain restaurant like Chili's, Applebee's, etc. The food is fabulous, the menu changes every day, and classics like yams, mac n cheese, collard greens, can't be beat.

West, TX--West is a little Czech town north of Waco on I-35. While it's a bit of a drive, it is worth the hassle to visit downtown West for authentic German kraut, sausage, and cabbage rolls. Don't forget to stop by one of the bakeries in town for kolaches--you can buy them by the dozen and freeze the ones you don't eat on the ride home! (

Granbury, TX--Granbury is located southwest of Fort Worth, and has a picturesque town square with tons of shops and cute restaurants. There's an old jail that you can tour, which is pretty neat, and apparently Davy Crockett's wife is buried in the cemetary there, which is I guess something to be proud of. There's an opera house and a musical theater and a lake--plus my dad lives in Granbury--what more could you ask for? (

Fort Worth Stockyards and rodeo--Embracing their cowboy heritage, Fort Worth puts on a rodeo every single Friday and Saturday night year round. Granted, you're not going to see the most incredibly talented ropers and riders at this rodeo, but it's still fun and not too expensive. (

And with your rodeo ticket stub, you get free admission to Billy Bob's Texas, a humongous bar/honky tonk that has hosted every famous country star, from Willie Nelson to LeeAnn Rimes. (Note: I know little to nothing about country music, so these are the only two examples that I can think of right now). (

and...we're back!

So sorry for the prolonged absence this summer. Right after my last blog post at the end of May, we learned we were matched with a birth mother who was due to have her baby at the end of June. To make a long story short, the match fell through, and we were devastated. It's taken us most of the summer to get over it, but we're officially back to normal and hopeful that we'll be matched again so and will be parents at some point in the near future.

Okay, now that that's done, what else have we been up to? Well, we've enjoyed visits from family and friends. My mom and Amanda, my sister, came to stay with us for a week at the beginning of July. We spent a lot of time here at home on the farm, doing farm things. We taught them how to milk Weezy, our nubian dairy goat, and then we made mozzarella and ricotta cheese out of the milk. We also made goat's milk yogurt, frozen yogurt, ice cream, and soap. Then we made homemade bread and homemade cinnamon rolls. Yum! It was a really nice visit, and we had fun showing them what life on the farm was like.