14 April 2014

Lil A’s First Un-Foods

I meant to blog about this several months ago. But the tiny bit of paper on which I had made this list disappeared and then reappeared!!! Glory!

So I didn’t give girlie real food until she was nearly eleven months old.

But that doesn’t mean she wasn’t eating before then…

Here I shall list the first eight items she ate, evidenced by the fact that each of these things was discovered in her diaper (TMI?!):

1. A leaf

2. A pumpkin stem (yes, she gnawed it off a pumped and swallowed a big ol’ chunk of it

3. A silicon hair band

4. A foam sticker

5. A length of plastic Easter grass

6. A length of normal green grass

7. A hole punched from a plastic sheet protector

and finally…

8. A  googly eye (and not a tiny on either)

Oh my. Well, even if I wasn’t giving her food, I was comforted that her digestive tract was in fact working just fine!!

09 April 2014

Walking Through My Home

Tonight I sat on my couch and in my mind’s eye I walked through my home in Africa.

Then I cried.

I remember our comfy couch that we never had for the first six years living there and what a blessing it was when we got it. I remember what it was like to lay in my bed under the buzz of the AC and look out my bedroom window framed by thin white curtains. I remember the tall tree that would often be full of bright pink blossoms. The blossoms would blow of the tree and cover the balcony floor and dry up like fall leaves.

I remember the squeak of the bathroom doorknob. I remember the hallway cabinet and it’s thin caving walls. I remember the crooked nail that kept the living room window closed during most but not all dust storms.

I remember our big pink rug and our brown table that held a basket of baby toys on the lower shelf. I remember my striped curtains that I purchased in Qatar and brought back to hem myself.

I remember the fan mounted on the wall in Mike’s office.

I remember the toy shelf in the kids room. I remember their mosquito nets and the extra mattress under the bed perfect for pulling out to sit on. I remember how much I worried about putting one year old Sweet N in that room with H to sleep in the same room at night. And I remember how well they did.

I remember the dining room chairs that lasted us seven years. I remember the way they sounded when they scraped across the tile floor. I remember how ants that would swarm under the dining room table eating crumbs even before we could finish a meal.

I remember how the paint was peeling off the floor in the kitchen. And every other room.

I remember my white tile kitchen counter that my Dad installed for me when they visited. I remember baking Christmas cookies on that counter with my Mom.

I remember the way the stairwell would get dusty so quickly and there would be four sizes of footprints leading up and down.

I remember the creak of the porch swing that Mikey had made for me my first birthday living there. And I remember how the legs were a good 12 inches too long and my feet couldn’t even touch the ground from the seat until we sawed the legs shorter.

I remember how I used to peek over the side of the balcony hiding myself because I might have been only wearing a tank top in the house and if someone from the street saw me it would have been embarrassing.

I remember pulling our two plastic tables together on that balcony to host many-a-visitor. I remember the morning light on the balcony. I remember the dusk and the call to prayer on that balcony. I remember H riding his bike and N playing in her tripod on that balcony. I remember peeking out late at night to see Mike watering the plants in the dark while listening to a podcast.

I remember the wooden sideboard by the door where my mobile phone would sit all day so I could hear it ring from any room. I remember each shelf in that sideboard and I remember what I had stored on each one.

I remember the stains on our bathtub. I remember how filthy the windowsill in the bathroom would get. I remember filling our red baby bathtub and bathing my babies in that tub on top of the washing machine.  I remember that our bathroom mirror wasn’t made right and it was more like a funhouse mirror on one side.

I remember My boy H peering though his bedroom window into the hallway when he was two and he’d wake up from his nap.

I remember spending hours hanging laundry to dry on my two drying racks in the hallway.  I remember that pigeons lived on the outside wall of the house and made a mess.

I remember standing my babies at the kitchen window to wave bye-bye to Daddy as he pulled away to go to work.

I remember the way the kitchen faucet would spray water everywhere when I turned it on because it sometimes had such strong water pressure. I remember the way that same faucet would just gurgle when I turned it on to discover the water had been cut.

I remember that a box of tissues in the kitchen drawer was my equivalent of paper towels. I remember that I never had a microwave.

I remember all this. And so much more.

It’s burned on my heart.

And I miss it.

01 April 2014

11 Things

1. I’m up to my ears in schedules these days. It’s a busy quarter around here!

2. I kind of like schedules. But this might have been overkill.

3. It’s official. The baby thinks my name is “Dada”.

4. My children do not know what “Khallas kwais” means. (Very basic Arabic phrase). This saddens me.

5. Four of us got the awwwwful norovirus over the weekend. It was brutal. And it made me behind on writing all those schedules!

6. Since the sickness, I can’t seem to get warm. Currently I’m inside wearing slippers, gloves and a winter hat. I think it’s 60 degrees outside.

7. I think things should calm down in a week or so.

8. I could use a nanny at times like this however.

9. Any applicants?

10. The baby is also in one of those stages where she waits until I change her diaper to poop. It’s not very polite, frankly.

11. Still accepting applications.

24 March 2014

A Finishing Touch


Our first trip to visit the Gulf.

On a break from our life and work in North Africa, we flew to Dubai, then puddle jumped to Bahrain. Returned to Dubai, rented a car and road tripped to Oman. It was incredible. My boy H was just a babe and he was such an easy traveler.

The Gulf 085

In Bahrain we wanted to be tourists and visit this mosque.

Yes, they let you do that, just like anyone can tour Notre Dame in Paris and Westminster Abbey in London.

Well kind of like that.

Like that except that there are certain hours.

And a dress code.

A dress code for women, specifically.

Certainly I was dressed modestly as we traveled in these parts of the Muslim world. But women in a mosque must be completely covered.

So how it works is you enter a side door of the mosque to the little visitor center. Mike and H waited in a small area while I was taken behind a fabric screen by a young woman. A long black hijab was chosen off a hanging rack and she helped me slip it over my clothing. My shoes were removed. Next a long tarha (head scarf) was selected and she carefully wrapped it around my head. She tucked strands of hair carefully behind the fabric, adjusted it under my chin and smoothed it down the side.

We stood eye to eye and she looked carefully at my face to inspect her work. She seemed mostly satisfied, even pleased that maybe she thought I looked better all covered up. I liked her. But then with no hesitation, she then licked both of her thumbs and slicked my eyebrows down flat.

That was my finishing touch.

Ha! I laugh about it to this day.

The Gulf 082

The Gulf 083

Beautiful, eh?

22 March 2014

Just ‘Cause

Here’s a few photos of Lil’ A looking cute in her big floppy headband…




… just ‘cause I drank caffeine at 5pm (noon is my usual cutoff) and it’s 11:20 on a Saturday night and I’m going strong…

And cause she’s stinking cute.

17 March 2014

Soccer Mom (Day 18)

Today I added to the list of my roles “soccer Mom”. My boy had his first practice and did so very well. And he had this very grin plastered on his face the.entire.time.


Also, my hubs is home. Glory, halleluiah!

16 March 2014

Dimes (Day 17)

A few weeks before Mike left I began a new incentive program in our household for my big kids.


When they do something of note, like not get up in the middle of the night to tell me their finger hurts, or clean their room spit-spot, or play very well together, or any other behavior that I’d like to support… I take a dime from the jar and I throw it in their personal pot. I never take them away (as much as I want to sometimes for those not-so-shining-moments of theirs), but only put them in.


It’s been working rather well. (Fun tidbit… these pots were from our wedding. Our favors were tiny flowers planted in these pots with our initial stamped on them on each table. I’m so happy to be using a couple of them ten years later.)


On the weekend they get to take their pots down and count their dimes. This also serves as their allowance. Cool, huh?

Therefore enter the spend-give-save cans.


Now they each have  set of these.


So on the weekend they get their dimes and we talk about separating them into the appropriate cans. Then they practice while I oversee.

Then they have money to spend (and give and save, obviously).


We have been trying to do something like this with H for awhile longer than N. So he had more money to spend. He spotted some matchbox cars he fancied at King Soopers one day. A great start, I thought! So the next shopping trip he took along his wallet and he carefully chose two cars and purchased them all by himself.

It was a proud moment.


This girlie had to save a little longer. I suggested that her first purchase be for a coin purse so that she had something to carry her money in on a shopping trip. She liked that idea.

We spotted one at King Soopers, how handy! However she didn’t have enough money on the first spotting. That was a little bit hard for her. I resisted the VERY strong temptation to supplement from MY wallet so girlie could have what she wanted on the same day as brother.


But this goofball (who wouldn’t take a normal photo) patiently collected dimes for one more week, counted them up and this week she had enough!  Lets get three cheers for delayed gratification for four year olds!!

So today after church the four of us hauled into King Soopers for a few groceries and the well-earned “penny purse” as she calls it. (And don’t you DARE correct her). She chose her design, paid with her money and happily gathered her receipt.

Precious little kiddos learning life skills, gotta love it!