Friday, December 30, 2011

Oops.....

I accidentally removed 50 comments from my blog...hello? What was I thinking? I wasn't (apparently)- I was actually doing something else and flipped over to the blog screen. There I saw this list and thought, "hmmm...I need to clean up this list...let's see, I'll just click this..." and no sooner had I done it, I realized the mistake. I was thinking it was just removing them from that page- not understanding it meant ALL the comments were removed from the actual blog. 

Can we all say, "technologically challenged??!!??" 


SO...if you notice your blog comment has been 'removed by administrator' or whatever it might say- just chalk it up to someone who has misplaced her head.... Hopefully by January 1st 2012, I'll have it nicely back on my shoulders and plan to dazzle everyone with secret places to visit in Western Washington....Featured Fridays....and .... etc etc

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Before it is too late....

Want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Ong family- well, I should say, Ongs, Kubos and Phillips...this was the picture we sent out to family and friends. 

For those who have asked me, "WHERE ARE YOU???" I'm here...running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Not to worry, I foresee things slowing down a bit in the days ahead (or is that just wishful thinking??). Seriously though, I do plan to get back to regular blogging. (writing and reading of blogs).




Monday, November 21, 2011

A Secret place

"It is such a secret place, the land of tears." - The Little Prince

So, there I was, standing in the middle of Starbucks, waiting for my Decaf tall Mocha. My eyes did not warn me, nor my heart, of the pending tears. At first they just peeked out, as if to see what my response would be. I pretended to look at some merchandise, as I cleverly swiped away the pesky water works. The tears moved forward on the command of the first scouts and they charged ready to invade my cheeks. I made quick work of them with another clean sweep of the back of my hand and thankfully my order was ready. Scooping up the cup, I retreated out to the car where my husband was waiting.

"Are you okay?"

"I'm fine," I mumbled, looking down as I blinked away the remaining tears.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing"

"What happened in there? You look sad." My puzzled husband continued to pester me with his queries.

"I told you I'm fine!" This time I gave my answer while looking straight into his face. Even if my eyes were still glistening, I was confident any trace of tears had been erased.  He is a good husband, he knew the time for questions was over. After all, even if he had asked me one hundred times or more, there was no answer to give.

Why did I cry in the middle of Starbucks on this particular day? Maybe I was crying for all the changes which I have been through this year. Maybe I was crying for all the things I have to hear from all the different people- so many people so many problems. Maybe it is for the sorrows I see people going through. Maybe I was crying with utter exhaustion. I don't think I'll ever know the reason for my tears. I do think I was long overdue for a cry fest.

We, women, need such things every once in awhile. A cry fest is not a pity party and it is not a descent into depression. In fact, it is almost like a safety valve to keep us from sliding down into the bottom of a well of despair. Its just a time when you can release your emotions ever so quietly and calmly- and after a nice good cry- you feel some what energized and like "wow- now I can take the world on again"

When we arrived home, I told my loving, spouse, "I need to go downstairs and finish up the laundry."

I  turned on the worship music, worked on laundry and cried a bit more...this time allowing the tears to flow freely down my face. I read Psalms 139 and I thanked God that He made me so wonderfully. He knows every single part of me and what makes me tick and what keeps me going.  He made me with safety valves and healing parts. If only I will listen to Him; God has programmed great self fixing mechanisms throughout my system. Now that makes me smile!

*The picture of the tears is taken from Poetry in Motion from a beautiful write up about tears and an accompanying poem. Be sure and check it out!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Feature Friday- Amanda Duford : Rain

Amanda's album "Rain"
Today is 'Feature Friday'- and the featured person is Amanda DuFord Shields. This young woman has a beautiful voice and writes her own songs.  If you want to find out more about her, you can check out her website

Amanda's mother disclosed an interesting fact about Amanda.  Amanda's love for singing began from the time she could make noise as a baby. She wouldn't gurgle like most babies; she would hum and make music. I've known Amanda for almost four years; in that time, I've seen her undeniable love for music. She doesn't need an audience. She creates beautiful music because that is what she was born to do.  Effortlessly, her fingers float across the piano keys and her voice matches each note to create beautiful music. She doesn't need an audience, but her music draws people in and they are touched by the beauty created. It is a God-given gift.

Why do people wait for Christmas or birthdays to give gifts? Actually a gift can be given at any time of the year...and guess what? I am doing a giveaway for the first 7 people who comment and tell me where I was born. I'll send you one free cd of Amanda DuFord's "Rain" album. 

I know, once you've heard the album, you'll want to order more to give away as gifts to your friends and family. You will have ample opportunity to do so at Amanda's website.

* I will attempt to keep comments hidden until I have 7 people with the correct answer. When I've opened the comments up for public viewing and your comment makes the 'cut'- email me at desertstar@writing.com with your mailing address so I can send you a CD.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Putting on Big Boots

"When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen" - Pooh's Little Instruction Book



I'm not much of a shoe person....one pair of dress shoes...one pair of daily shoes and I'm fine. (seriously) However, being here in the Northwest, I do realize the need for boots, in certain types of weather. Boots definitely speak of the expectation of wet or cold weather. I have also found boots to be quite warm and cozy; which has been a very nice surprise.
Kailynn: my adventure

In life, there are all kinds of adventures. Some adventures are not necessarily negative in nature....but it is always good to be fitted with the warm, cozy boots for what is ahead. When I first put on my 'grandmother boots' I was surprised how wonderfully comfortable they were. 
Sean and Neisha

What a lovely treat for me to learn that my kids have decided to get their 'big boots' on and present me with two more grandchildren! Sean and Neisha will be expecting their second child in April. Katrina and Micah
looking forward to great adventures
Katrina and Micah
will be expecting their first child at the end of May. I'm putting my big boots on; these "grandma boots" are ready for great adventures in the days ahead.
  

Friday, November 11, 2011

Deja vu


Cassandra getting ready
guest sign in table
program pick up table
The actual definition of Déjà vu from the Merriam Webster Dictionary is -  the illusion of remembering scenes and events when experienced for the first time.  You may think you are experiencing déjà vu with this post; after all, didn’t you just see wedding photos from my daughter’s wedding two months ago? Well, let me assure you…these are brand new photos because this is my youngest daughter’s wedding.  

entry decorations
Family came from all over the world (literally)…friends flew in….houses were filled to the rafters with people, noise and general hurry and flurry. The day before the wedding it rained cats and dogs. The day of the wedding the sun shone cheerfully. Its smile promised us a pleasant day ahead and it sure didn’t disappoint us.




bridesmaids
Daniel walking down the aisle
groomsmen
table center pieces
chair decorations
The location was again at the Clise Mansion in Redmond, but this time the ceremony was held inside. The halls were decorated with rustic, woodsy themes. Dried flowers filled mason jars and the wedding party held wheat bouquets and sported wheat boutonnieres. My mother, a traditionalist, could not get her head around these items by themselves, but she admitted (after the wedding) that somehow they all worked and looked beautiful.

Daniel charging the couple
gifts for the guests
The wedding was wonderfully comfortable. Guests wandered about signing the guest book or making video shots for the couple to see later. The ceremony went without a hitch; although I thought my husband was not going to make it through the vows (he was the one who officiated). The reception proved to be a relaxing event with people having a chance to catch up with each other. The bride and groom did not want the traditional wedding cake; they opted for pies and the guests were thrilled with their choice. The guests were each given a memento: for the females they received a sachet of a pancake mix made by Cassandra and for the males they left with coke and peanuts. The couple sped off on a scooter thus signaling the end of the event. Those left behind were exhausted and ready to catch up on some much needed sleep.

Kailynn asleep on Daniel's shoulder
Couple leaving the wedding on scooter
As far as emotions- can we say ‘roller coaster’?? Wow- my last born- the final child to be married- family members from hither and yon- friends I hadn’t seen for years (one friend for over 15 years)- sleep deprived- juggling a million things together-- jumble all this together and you have a recipe for hormones and emotional turmoil.  Ah, but I survived and I am proud of my dear sweet daughter and her new hubby.
So for all who wondered where I’ve been the past month- now you know!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Anyone need a compass?

About 10 days ago, I received an email from Annette Gendler of Memoir, Writing & Life - her email was just another reminder that my blog might need a compass of some sort.  I've included some excerpts from her email...I believe she has a valid point.



Hi Anjuli,

......I’ve rummaged around your blog a bit ....and was wondering how you came to travel so much and why your family members are still in Africa. I couldn’t really find an answer in the March 2008 posts, those seemed more like a travelogue to me. So I’m wondering whether you might want to add a bit more in your intro about all that so your readers can connect..... (these are clips taken from her email)

I'll get around to updating my intro, but in the meantime, I think I need to establish some navigational markers. First of all, it is probably important to note my name is not Anjuli...but rather Connie. 

I love the name "Anjuli" (taken from The Far Pavilions) and wish it could be my name...but alas, my name is simply .. Connie..not Constance or any other such fanciful name...it reads on my birth certificate:  Connie Lynn Seaward.  Due to being married in Singapore (where spouses need not change their surnames) and traveling quite a bit, I never got around to legally changing my surname to "Ong".  Most people know me as Connie Seaward Ong...unless they are my banker and then they know me as Connie L. Seaward....ah yes, the whole thing with names ...
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."


As far as the over all compass for this blog: it began as a recording of my overland drive from India to England in 1985 in a 1958 Morris Minor. I decided I was getting older, and my brain didn't seem to retain as many details as it did when I was younger (sigh). I started out using this as a private blog to record the journey and then later opened it up for public viewing...it seemed wise to continue with other memories so I would one day have a record of where I have been...and so the journey continued.

As far as why I have traveled so much....I was born and raised in Singapore to Missionary parents - I went to school in Penang, Malaysia and then flew to the States for university. Later I went to live in India and I married a Malaysian Chinese man who I met in India. We were missionaries for over 20 years- We traveled to many different countries but lived for seven years in Japan and more than 10 years in Accra, Ghana. 

In 2008, we officially made Washington State our home. But I think, along with those who travel a lot, home is wherever I happen to be at the time..I love God...I love my family...I love people...These are the things that are important to me- so I tend to write alot about them.


So, now that you are holding the compass in your hand and still feeling totally confused as to where this blog has been and where it is going....welcome to my world :)  








Friday, September 30, 2011

Feature Friday - Aggie

If you are ever able to get ahold of the Book "Aggie- a Girl without a country"- you need to read it. The problem is, it appears to be out of print; however, there were some sites which had old copies of the book. I read this book a few years ago, and then I read it again a couple weeks ago, it never ceases to remind me that truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

"Aggie" is the life story of Aggie Hurst and also it chronicles the incredible faithfulness of God even when it doesn't look like anything is happening.  I want to tell you everything about the story- but I don't want to spoil it for you. There is tragic death, abandonment, adoption, amazing coincidences which turn out to be God at work and much more in this book.

I guarantee you, this book is worth you going to great lengths to try and get a copy of it. There is another book called, "One Witness"- look here, which apparently was what "Aggie" was called before. That book seems to be in print. If you can't get your hands on "Aggie" at least try to get "One Witness"- you will not regret it!






Monday, September 26, 2011

'hanging out'

So it is back to skype calls in the middle of the night & random 'hang outs' on google+....Daniel is over in Africa right now, so this will have to do.  

I juggle my schedule plus things he has left for me to do. Please forgive my momentary silence in blog ville ... I will try to keep up as best I can- however, I have just realized I have only 24 hours in a day. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

One Month

I was trying to catch up on blog posts- knowing I actually need to be dashing out the door- suddenly Kubo@Co's latest post caught my eye- and I knew I had to at least read that one...oh my...now I'm all teary eyed...and I have to dash out the door.

Their story is so unreal and unique- but then so are they- both Katrina and Micah are so wonderfully made and I guess their story had to be equally wonderful and unreal. Now they have been married for One Month and Kat writes so beautifully of her memory of the special day and their meeting- I love the way she ties the two days together. See for yourself .... here is her latest update.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Clearing of Shelves

I have mentioned my love affair with the written word before. It began when I was a wee girl and just started reading. My head has been buried in many a book over the years. As a result, my bookshelves often sag under the weight of books of all sizes. This presents a problem- how to make room for new books which need to be read? 

Over the years, I've found the solution to emptying my shelves is to give away books. Of course, there are those books which hold sentimental value...those I never part with.  There are other books which are good reads but I don't mind passing them on for someone else to read. Some of the books I 'won' right here in Blogville- others I've picked up at bookstores or been given. So, now is the time to clear the shelves.... I will make a list of books I'm giving away and anyone who wants a book can ask for it...it is that simple! I will mail it to you- if more than one person requests one book, I'll put your names in a hat and pick the winner randomly.

Here are the books I'm giving away:

Crossing the Heart of Africa by Julian Smith


Margaret Mitchell & John Marsh- The Love story behind Gone with the Wind


The Calligrapher's Secret - Rafik Schami

Friday, September 16, 2011

Feature Friday- something different

Normally, Feature Friday will showcase a memoir, biography or an autobiography. I love this genre of literature and know I'll have many more Fridays to come to feature such books. Today there will be a slight detour...I want to feature two blogs...and I thought about it, and realized most blogs are basically autobiographies in the making. 

The first blog I'd like to feature is a travel blog, of sorts. Braden King lives in Kenya at the moment and soon he will be traveling all over the world. He plans to chronicle those travels and I am already enjoying his pre-travel updates. He has posted 4 updates so far; be sure and check out: Brazen Braden and his travels.

The second blog I'd like to feature is my daughter, Katrina's new blog about her life. She has only one post, so far, but I know she will be adding more as life happens. You can find her updates at Kubo & Co

And for those of you who wanted to see more of the wedding pics- the photographer has posted them on her blog- They are amazing!! 
The pictures are marked : Micah and Katrina. The photographer is Micah's cousin- and she did an excellent job- you can see how talented she is with each and every picture. 

*A little note of clarification- the photographer's actual name is Anjuli...not to be confused with the name I use on this blog :)...it tickled me to know my daughter was marrying someone who had a cousin named Anjuli- as I have always loved that name.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

One Size Fits All

My beloved and our precious treasure
 Have you ever seen the words, "One size fits all" on labels attached to clothing? I think if you looked at my heart, you might find a similar label.  After all, hasn't my heart managed to fit many different people in it over the years?

As a young girl, it was my parents and my immediate family members who lined up nicely in my tiny heart. When I was six years old, I walked down a dusty aisle in Singapore and knelt at a wooden bench and 'accepted Jesus' into my heart. I thought my heart would explode with joy!

Kissable checks

Later, as I grew older I found my heart was able to accommodate so many others. Each new inclusion brought more joy. My children and my husband managed to expand every part of my heart. Just watching my beloved husband walk in the room caused my heart to swell up to where I thought it would pop right out of my throat.

There were times I wondered how could my heart manage to squeeze in anymore people? Apparently, my heart has no limit for expansion...I found this out when my darling granddaughter appeared in my life on March 11, 2010...she managed to stride right into the center of my heart and take up residency.
The Latest Resident
The amazing thing is, with each new resident, no one else is evicted. My heart has a capacity to love each and every occupant with equal amounts of joy. Hearts are amazing things! :)



*All pictures taken by Kira Evanson

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Back by Popular Demand

Just a few more pictures of the wedding - for those who have been asking :)...you know who you are....the professional pictures haven't been finished yet- so I had to scrounge around through the various pictures I was sent. I've chosen a few more pictures of the actual ceremony.


The guests waiting for the ceremony to begin

The Actual ceremony was held outside; however, the festivities did not stop with the ceremony. They continued on with the various displays inside the halls, library and great rooms. The guests waited patiently for the bride.
The Best Men...with some cut off in the picture
The Bridesmaids

Micah and Katrina had 8 bridesmaids and 8 grooms men. Each of the bridesmaids were allowed to wear a dress of their choosing as long as it was the same color scheme as the wedding colors. The grooms men only had to wear grey pants and suspenders.


Katrina coming up the aisle with Daniel

Daniel walked Katrina down the aisle and then he changed positions and took over to officiate the ceremony. Katrina wore her mother-in-law's veil ...I thought that was very special!
Katrina's wedding veil
Daniel officiating Katrina and Micah's wedding

Katrina and Micah in the 'getaway' vehicle
The getaway vehicle proved to be a big hit. It was a wonderful conclusion to a great evening!

Monday, September 5, 2011

A New Look

Blogger has changed its look. It happened when I was not paying attention....I'm still not sure if I like it. I'm sure in a few days I'll have gotten used to it and will even forget what the old blogger format was like.

I was finally able to get caught up on blogs- even ones which I could not make comments on.  I'm not sure when I'm going to get back on track with regular posts...especially the Feature Friday posts. I'm hoping to feature a young man's travel blog this Friday- IF I can get around to it :)

Kailynn having tea
My son sent me a picture of Kailynn (my granddaughter) sitting at her new little table ...with her bear and her tea set. She loves to pour "tea" for who ever will play with her...and so now I guess she is busy pouring tea for her bear.

Micah and Katrina leaving the wedding
Several people asked for more pics of the wedding....I leave you with one which was taken by Kyle - I love this picture and he kindly sent me a copy. It shows such delight on Katrina and Micah's face as they are leaving for their honeymoon.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Liebster Award

What a surprise to see a comment from Annette Gendler saying that I had been given the "Liebster Award"-- I zipped over to her blog to see what it actually entailed. Her blog update stated "this award is intended to connect bloggers, especially those with less than 200 followers..." 


In accepting the award, I must :


* Show my thanks to the blogger who gave me the award by linking back to him or her.
* Reveal my top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
* Post the award on my blog.
* Bask in the love from the most supportive people on the internet—other writers.
* And best of all – have fun and spread the good will.



Now I will reveal my top 5 picks:


Le Monde - Nisha is an amazing woman who loves travel. She does not let anything get in her way- whether it be sickness or any other hinderance. I love the way she shares her travels via word and photos.


A simple blogger - Not only do I enjoy his updates- I love his stories (he is very creative)-- he has also proven to be a great photographer. He is also a supportive reader of this blog and I appreciate his consistency. 

Bike With Jackie - Jackie has great insights to share in each of her updates. I've followed her blog for 2 years now- having found her two years ago in the blogathon. I lost touch with her blog for a few months- and at the blogathon this year was able to reconnect- thankfully!


Quite Simply -  What I love about Susan's updates are that each of them 'speak to me'....I can't read one of her blog posts without learning something. Her blog is encouraging and uplifting.


Inspired Life - Christine opens up her "home" and shares antidotes about her children....and recently she has been going through some rough waters- it doesn't stop her from sharing good thoughts and insights. Although my computer wouldn't let me comment on her blog, she didn't give up on my blog! (thanks Christine)


I wish I could nominate MORE than 5 blogs- because there are at least a dozen more I think would be worth mentioning. Unfortunately, I need to stick to the rules- so I will stop here.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

August 20th 2011- Here comes the Bride

Mac, Carolyn and Kailynn
When we checked weather.com ten days before the wedding it said there would be a chance of rainfall. Thankfully, as the wedding day approached, the skies remained clear and the day couldn't have been more perfect for a wonderful ceremony.
Kailynn before the ceremony

The bridal party made their way down the grassy aisle to the sweet sound of a harp. Kailynn, my granddaughter, made it all the way to the front. "Hi...Hi...Hi..." she kept saying to those sitting along the aisle. We joked later that she thought this was HER day :)
The Ushers giving out the programs

As the guests walked towards their seats they were handed a program. It comprised of 5 cards tied with jute and slid into an airmail envelope. The final page read:

""Remembrance - Elcho Zaire Redding- my hero grandfather, he gave me his middle name, dry humor and vision of the Kingdom's agenda. 
He would have adored you, Katrina."

I must say, when I was helping to 'stuff' the envelopes I cried every time I read what Micah had written. 

Photo display
After the ceremony, people walked through the various rooms and looked at the different displays. There was a "guest book" which consisted of tags which were to be hung on branches. Carnations filled vintage jars...old books stacked on the center of tables....crocheted doilies filled in empty spaces. Instead of the usual slide show, there was a photo display of the bride and groom at various stages of their life. Also, corresponding photo frames encased pictures of parents, grand parents and great grandparents. 

Jam for the guests to remember the day
Each guest was asked to take a bottle of homemade jam...(I had never made jam in my life...the things we do for our kids)...200 jars of blueberry and strawberry jam rested in vintage crates and containers. Each jar had a burlap cover with a tag which read, "Home made with love" written on one side. Katrina insisted on writing each tag herself. On the other side of the tag there was a strawberry stamp if it was strawberry jam and a blueberry stamp if it was blueberry.

After a lovely evening of 'mini' reunions between friends and relatives....laughter...tears and lots of hugs, it was time to bid the bride and groom farewell as they headed off on their honeymoon. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sneak Peek

My elder daughter is married- here is a sneak peek- more pics to follow. After the weeks of planning- whirlwind preparations- it was over in a blink of an eye. She did an amazing job with her decorations and planning! 
As I said- more pics to follow- now I'll take a deep breath before I have to dive into preparations for my youngest daughter's wedding in October! 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bridal showers, Babies and Birthdays

The past few weeks have been full of all the usual activity and then some extras. My eldest daughter had a bridal shower a few weeks ago and it was really amazing. I think what was so amazing was two young ladies- 13 years old and 11 years old, did alot to make the day a special day. 

One of our dear church members- Belinda- created a spectacular cake. It was in the form of a wedding dress!! She is absolutely amazing with her cake creations (and her other food) as can be seen on her blog- belzyskitchen.

Right after the bridal shower, my son and his wife and daughter arrived. My granddaughter has stolen my heart!! It has been wonderful having her around. I just wish they lived close by and I could see her more. (they live in another state) While they have been here, we discovered my granddaughter is going to be a big sister :)....YES!!! Another grandbaby on the way- great news!


 In the midst of celebrations and family coming and other activity- I had a birthday. It was one of those "significant" ones :) I'll talk more about that later....but I must say my family and friends out did themselves on this one. I'm not a 'birthday' type person- inotherwords, I'd rather my birthdays came and went with out much ado -- but they did not allow this to happen- and actually all they did was much appreciated.

At our weekly Ladies Bible study- they surprised me with a cake and gifts- oh my- the cake looked like a tea pot because that is my absolute favorite thing....tea...tea cups...tea pots...drinking tea. Of course, it was Belinda who made the cake. As I said, she is absolutely amazing with her cake designs. The cake tasted so good. 


TOn my birthday itself, my family tricked me. The girls said they were taking me out for coffee...by this time I thought I was all birthdayed out. I tried to get out of going for coffee- "why not we just hang out with the boys" I asked. They would not hear of it. So we jumbled into my daughter's car and drove away. "But before we go for coffee we need to stop off at Param's house" they told me. This seemed to be a reasonable thing to do because there was something I had to pick up from her house. Oh the rascals, they had planned a surprise birthday brunch! Brunch is my favorite meal...and Param outdid herself with the decor and the menu! My family were tickled pink that they had pulled one over on me...and of course, I was in tears! (happy tears)

....And then there were more...

We started with two. It didn't take long for us to add three more to the mix, making us ongfamily5 for quite a long time. Before we kn...