Tuesday, January 25, 2011

James Mark Mast (known by some as Jimbo) is one year old today! --QM

I've been thinking a lot today about the circumstance of my life exactly one year ago. Bringing James into this world was one of the hardest experiences of my life, but I'd do it all over again for him, and for Dorie. I love being a mom--I think it is the greatest vocation on earth.
James is my little snuggler; we love it when he burrows into the space between our shoulder and neck. He loves to turn lights on and off and he knows where all the candy dishes are (or used to be). I think he knew today was special; he was full of extra energy and bounce...or maybe that was all the chocolate cake that his auntie made for him!
A few days from D-day.
James gave us such a scare when began having seizures soon after birth. Look at our healthy newborn! God has answered the many, many prayers people gave for him.
There is probably a rule about wrapping your child's gift in something that has pictures of meat on it! James loved the magnetic doodle toy we got him anyway.
Flashback time! We celebrated Dorie's first birthday in Delaware a year and a half ago. These two are so different--Dorie was way more verbal and goofy; James is more focused and deliberate--but they both make us laugh every day.
Birthday burnout.

Final note: I never call James 'Jimbo.' :) Ok, maybe I have once or twice.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Question of Where -- E and Q

This just in: the Mast family will not be going to Nepal. The issue keeping us from this country is Queena's bipolar disorder: we're told that life is rough out there, and that medical resources are slim, so a move there would be unwise for us. That's sad to hear, and a little surprising too, because normally our daily life is so free and unhindered by bipolar that it's easy to forget how bad it can get. (That in itself says much about God's grace to us.)

Well, the nice thing about closed doors is that they simplify decisions. We're now left with two countries we will probably decide between, Thailand and Malaysia, although we're learning not to be too certain of anything.

Would you pray with us, please? We think we're headed somewhere visible on this map here, but we're not sure where specifically. May God direct us.

Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Surviving Life at Home: Delegation -- E.

Some of you mothers and fathers already know this, but maintaining a household requires a certain amount of actual work. For people to eat, someone must cook. For people to have clean clothes, someone must do laundry. Et cetera. Since Queena has school, and Holly has a job, and I have neither, I am the current primary housekeeper.

Um, as I type this out, I notice that Holly is vacuuming the living room and Queena is changing the kids' diapers. Try to ignore that fact for the rest of this post.

The point is, every time I set out to keep house, I am impressed with how much there is to do. In fact, I fall behind easily in the daily grind. This is how I know the time has come for my children to stand up and do their part.

Among our household chores, Feeding James is a more substantial one than you may guess. This young man has an appetite. And he's not quite using a spoon himself yet. So if there's applesauce or cereal to be had, somebody is going to have to sit down and spoon it into his cute but wide mouth, possibly for a long time. That's where Dorie comes in!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

How to Learn Swahili in Twenty Minutes -- E.

Okay, you can't learn very much Swahili in twenty minutes, but a few words, phrases, and sentences are within reach. There I am with Mr. Maurice, who is an expert Swahili speaker and who agreed to help me out the other Sunday with my monolingual demonstration. The goal was to see how much I could learn about Swahili while neither of us spoke any English.
I know that sounds simple, but when other people are watching you the stakes rise. This next picture shows the Sunday evening crowd gathering at Greenwood Mennonite Church. Maybe that doesn't look like a lot of people to you, but (you can't tell from the picture) there was also one person in the balcony. Notice in this photo how I don't look nervous at all.

A monolingual demonstration is supposed to give a bit of a glimpse at the sort of work a field linguist might do, and how linguistics works. Also, it shows that you don't even need English to do linguistics -- you just need a native speaker of the language you're studying, a writing surface, and a little creativity.
By creativity, I mean pointing, gesturing, grunting, and acting confused.
Here I am getting the Swahili word for rock.
I hold up a rock and mumble a non-English phrase, hoping Maurice will understand that I want him to say whatever Swahili word means rock. Sure enough, he says something. I write it down with as much phonetic accuracy as I can, and hope that what I got is the word rock.
Might he really have said granite?Or a full sentence like That is a rock?Or could it have been something like You are confusing me, Mr. Linguist . . . ?
At this point I can only guess.

Loads of fun!
So that's how a monolingual demonstration goes. I think I'd do another one in a heartbeat. (Merle, thanks for your glowing review!)