30 September 2010

Blinky Blinks

Lately, I have been eating up my baby girl's smiles. She has a lot of them. In all varieties. I try to capture all varieties on the camera, but this continues to be a difficult task. When she's in 'smile mode' all grinny and gorgeous looking at Mommy, if Mommy disappears for 10 seconds to grab the camera then suddenly 'smile mode' just isn't what it was 15 seconds before. The magic just isn't there anymore.

Don't ask me why.

This is the question that keeps me up at night.

Just kidding.

Aaaanyway... my sweet N has one particular smile that really really melts your heart.

We've named it the 'Blinky Smile'. Or the 'Blinky-Blinks'. Take your pick. And stop laughing at me. This smile I have managed to photograph several times. Here is one example:

It starts with one huge grin and then it spreads up her face until she squints her eyes closed from sheer joy!

I thought maybe one wouldn't be enough for you (me). So here is example number two, with 'throw her little head back' variation.

And this one, with 'happy after eating my food and smearing it all over my face' variation.

Oh.. and this one. Isn't it the sweetest? Variation: 'Mama... you found me!'

Wouldn't you do all kinds of crazy things to see this cute sight?

And while we're on the topic of baby girl's smiles, check out her latest smile. Maybe it should be called the 'Gummy Gums'...

(get a grip, Suzanne)

In the middle of this smile she spreads her little lips and bares her two perfectly straight rows of teeth gums for ya. That's right. Nine months old and still no little teeth.

One of her middle names means "cheerful bringer of joy." If all her smiles are any indication of what is to come later in her precious life... I'd say that's about right!

25 September 2010


You might be able to say that the place we live has one season: Hot. But after over four years here, I realize that's not quite right. I would say there are actually three:

1. Hot and dry
2. Hot, rainy and humid
3. Hot and cooler at night

That's about it. Oh... and they should all include 'dusty.' I forgot to mention that. Every season is extremely dusty.

But anyway...

I miss the changing of seasons (I mean... the real changing of seasons as I know it.) For some reason I feel more aware of it this year. I hear talk from home of pumpkins and leaves changing and hay rides and fall temperatures. And here I am, in Africa, sweating in the early morning and seeing a forecast today of more sweat. Yes, it's still season number two.

That's what I get for making my home in the Sahara Desert, huh?

The changing of seasons is a way to mark the passing of time. It's no wonder that when living here, days blend together... as do weeks and months. It's not unusual for me to not know what day of the week it is. Even the current month recently alluded me. There aren't many environmental factors to differentiate days, weeks and months. It's all just kinda the same. Seasons usually give you some change to experience. Something to look forward to. Some passing of time.

And I miss that.

But it's not like me to dwell on the negative, so I'm a-gonna walk down memory lane and rejoice in the last year that we did get to experience the changing of seasons.

Last summer when we flew home for a visit, we didn't know we'd be spending almost a year Stateside. But visas (or lack thereof) and pregnancy and quick-get-a-bachelors-degree-in-nine-months all kinda factored in and made it happen out of our control. And it's a good thing it did, cause without that amazingly quick bachelors degree my Mikey worked really hard for, we wouldn't be back here today. I love how God sees the big picture even when we cannot.

So anyway, lemme tell ya... we experienced those seasons and I sure did love it! Nothing like four virtually season-less years to make a girl appreciate summer, autumn, winter and spring! We sure did make the best of it!

In the summer we went camping in the mountains of Colorado with some dear friends. Wow. Was that a good time or what?! I love me some tents and campfires and hot dogs and picnic tables and having to walk a few hundred yards to use the bathroom. Wait, did I say that last one? I didn't mean it.

I was about four months prego here... I felt pretty good! I mean what prego gal wouldn't be feeling good when the all the makings of s'mores are sitting only an arms reach away?

Mikey cooking. Good times. Rare times too. But we won't dwell on that.

Love this.

Ohmygoodness he was so small and still a baby... not yet two! And he's looking hysterical in those sweat pants and socks with his sandals. I swear I didn't put him in that outfit...

Then came fall on our street in Colorado... gorgeous tree, the Rocky Mountains and my sweet boy enjoying being outside in his little socked feet.

And sidewalks... something else we really appreciated! Ha!

Oooh... and grass! Wow. The list goes on and on!

This is a glorious harvest day at a local historical ranch. Hot chocolate, banana muffins, crisp temperatures and the sun shining. Glory Hallelujah! Autumn is most definitely my favorite.

The belly was growing as the seasons pass too... yikes!

And winter came! [crunch crunch crunch]

"Never to little to shovel the sidewalk..." That's what we always say around here... he he

The Christmas Parade downtown wasn't such a hit with our little guy. He got a bit cold. Me? Not so much. My little personal belly heater was in full-swing by now.

And by 'little personal belly heater' I meant a very large personal belly heater. Nope. No more pictures of the pregnant belly growing. Trust me, you've seen enough. Promise.

But here is a picture of the little belly dweller after she had spent three months out of my belly and in our arms... a bit of SPRING with our families.

I even appreciate the dreary drippiness of spring in the midwest.

The fresh rain and it's clean smell?! Wow. It's so beautiful!
(This picture of Poppi with his two grandsons was taken by Atalie Bale.)

But the spring rains brought spring tears as we said goodbye, packed up our eight suitcases and flew half-way around the world to settle back into our home on this side of the globe.

We've been back for six months now and feeling quite at home. Yeah... I miss things about the States, but there is so much to be thankful for over here too.

Now if I could just remember where I put those fake fall leaves and that recipe for a homemade pumpkin spice latte. Maybe it would taste good over ice...

21 September 2010

Jeered and Cheered

I blame my girlie's afternoon fussy time on myself. She gets tired soon after lunch but I keep her up for another hour or more so that she and her big brother can nap at the same time. It's selfish, really. So today instead of putting her on the floor to fuss it out or hauling her around the house on my hip attempting in vain to accomplish something, anything... I strapped her into the Ergo Carrier and we walked out the gate to run a few errands on foot.

I should know better by now not to leave the house around 1pm. There is a secondary school for boys close-by and the shebaab (young men) are aplenty. This is bad news. We were jeered and mocked all the way to the main road. By now this just makes me raise my chin a bit higher, walk past them and tell my little girl "Don't you pay any attention to them little N, they're just silly boys." I can take the jeering and mocking, but today I didn't want to take it. So I slipped into a small store we frequently shop at and tell my shop keeper friend (in Arabic) that I didn't want anything, I was just there because there are lots of shebaab and they're are not good.

He understood.

So we hang around a few minutes looking at a very large selection of soap and waiting for the steady stream of young men in blue uniforms to wane.

Then we hit the street again.

Now, you have to imagine how much attention we get. We get lots. I mean, have you seen the color of my skin? Lots of staring. And lots of men eager to try their English out on me. I hear so many "Hello, how are you, are you fine?" and "Hello, from where?" and the occasional "Hello, I love you!" that I can generally tune it out.

So don't ask me why I turned around to look when I heard one man say the usual "Hello, How are you?"

I look at him to see if he has anything else to say or if he just was another one of those guys who wanted to be the man who succeeded in getting the white lady to stop to talk to him.

He, indeed, had more to say.

"Where did you get that baby carrier?" He asks in decent English.

"Oh, sorry" I say. "It's from America."

"So you can't get one like that here? My wife is expecting and I was hoping to buy her something like that."

He was rather disappointed.

And me? I was SHOCKED.

Shocked that someone actually thought the baby carrier was a good idea and wanted to have one instead of looking at me like a child-torturing alien from outerspace.

Wow! Consider me cheered up!

19 September 2010

The Stage We're In

Here is my girlie this afternoon.

Can you guess what stage we're in?

It's the "throw all my toys down then get really upset that I have no toys" stage.

She's awfully distressed about it. She obviously has no idea that this was all her own doing.

Yet she is still awfully cute. I mean, look at that face. Just look at it!! She is so dear!

But I'd give those cars back to her if I were you...

The Inevitable

The inevitable happened today.

I pulled a piece of lizard poo out of my daughter's mouth.

Well, maybe I should say I pulled part of a piece of lizard poo out of my daughter's mouth.

I'm fairly certain the other part isn't still stuck on the wall, either.

Oh my. I know you aren't going to read this for a long, long time Sweet N, but I'd just like to say I'm sorry. I'm sure we both wish this didn't have to happen...

Under the Stars

I think I have slept under the stars three times in my life.

First time was two years ago at the first annual "Women's Weekend Away" for international women working in this country. I was excited and nervous about sleeping out that night. Will it get cold (it was November)? Will the skeeters get me? Will I sleep well? I thought about it a lot before I took the plunge.

It was such a big deal to me you'd have thought I was 9 years old or something.

And it did get cold. I remember FREEZING and cursing myself for not bringing extra socks and more blankets. And the skeeters did get me. They always do. And I didn't sleep well. I was too cold and itchy and the roosters cock-a-doodle-dooing all night didn't help either. But I refused to admit defeat and move inside with the other smart women who choose to sleep on the rugs or the couches in the first place.

But when my toes thawed out, my cheeks stopped itching, and the roosters had been shot (just kidding)... I loved it! I felt like I joined some special club.

The next time was when we were camping along the Nile with some friends. We slept on some funny folding lounge chairs under a tree with a mosquito net hanging above us. I don't remember getting cold, or getting bit, or being assaulted by a noisy rooster either.

So when the women's retreat came around again this year I was pumped to sleep under the stars again. I put my baby girl inside and I set up my bed outside. And what I mean by 'set up my bed' is I threw my thin foam mattress down on the floor of the roof and spread an old sheet on top of it.

I settled in and looked up to see the stars.

Except there were none. It had sprinkled earlier in the night and it was hazy and cloudy. No stars to be seen. Boo.

I covered up with a sheet to keep the mosquitoes away and had even gone so far to wrap my neck and chin and forehead in the sheet, tucking it around my ears so that only a few square inches of my face was exposed to the air. AND I had doused myself in mosquito repellent.

I really wanted this to work.


I eventually fell asleep, but woke up often. At one point I put on my socks and a blanket cause the temperature had dropped.

Then later I woke up again sweaty because the temperature had strangely risen again by 2am. Does this sound strange to you? Yeah. I thought it was strange as well and assumed maybe I was imagining it, but indeed it was confirmed by a friend the next morning that it did get hotter for a bit in the middle of the night. I did not know this could happen. Go figure.

Anyway. By this time my sweaty itchy self gave up on sleeping under the stars starless sky, grabbed my pillow and blanket and joined my daughter inside under the air conditioner.

I was rather disappointed that it didn't work out.

But I plan to try again. When the weather cools down some here I'm a-gonna drag a bed onto my balcony, affix a mosquito net to the tree, choose a clear night and sleep under the stars at my own place.

I'm determined to make it work.

What is it that draws us to do this? It's like some strange desire to experience nature, or something else that sounds all natural and organic? Which doesn't really sound like me much at all, frankly. I've never really wanted to 'be one with nature,' Whatever that means.

All I can think is that it's the fresh air. Or just that I love to try new things.

Or maybe it's that I enjoy being disturbed at 5:30am by buses barreling down the road in front of our house that has recently been paved. Or that I love cleaning pigeon poo off the net in the morning. Or that I adore the feeling of one entire arm being covered with mosquito bites because I feel asleep with that arm up against the net and the little buggers feasted on my sweet blood without even getting in my net-protected bed. Or that I get such a thrill waking in the night to a sound of some strange noise on the roof and wondering if we're about to be burgled or kidnapped.

Oh my.

Maybe I best stay inside.

16 September 2010

Flashback to Colorado

Flashback to our time in Colorado last year. The first of these were taken in fall (my favorite) and my boy was in such a fun stage! Hard to believe these were taken a year ago...we were still awaiting the arrival of our sweet daughter.

A friend lent us this little trike for awhile. H LOVED it!

He was adjusted to his big boy bed by this time and here he built a wall with his morning reading books. You can still see his grin behind his pacifier. And... I start to sweat just looking at those warm pajamas!

H was learning to stack blocks. Can you see how proud he is of himself? I was impressed! But then again, that's not saying much... am always impressed with my son's accomplishments...

He loved this hallway linen closet. He'd sit to 'read' or put stuffed scarecrow to bed in there...

Now it's February. Isn't this the sweetest? Looking outside into the cold through the mail slot.

Look at that baby face and those blue eyes...

Oh, my heart bursts for him... He's growing up so fast!

13 September 2010

Quote of the Day

Okay, here's another bedtime prayer quote from my boy. These are just the best.

"I want to pa-way."

"Okay, what do you want to pray for?" I ask him.

"Por (for) Jesus is fixin."

Huh? I needed clarification.

"Por Jesus is fixin' Dave aw (all) up!"

12 September 2010


I love Cheerios. I should have bought stock in them going into my last month of pregnancy with my boy. Cause once we were in the States I consumed large amounts of cheerios. And by large I mean really large. Even at all hours of the night. Just ask my in-laws.

Anyway. This post isn't about that.

It's about the fact that I bought a box here the other day.

But not for me.

I bought them for my girlie... who I wanted to have some wee little finger foods that melt-in-your-mouth instead of choke-in-your-throat or stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth.

But I paid for them. And by paid, I mean really paid.

10 bucks paid.


But she's so worth it.

Her little hands knew just what to do...

In they went. One after another.

Yup. She's my girl.

11 September 2010

My Boy the Artist

H has been going to school for a couple weeks now. He loves being dropped off and hates being picked up. Yup... he definitely likes it there and that brings peace to a Mama's heart!

And I like it when he comes home and shows me what he did that day! He always has some sort of completed project. I know I can't be a psycho mother and save his every piece of art, so I took some pictures instead. These are mostly from his first week.

Don't you love the use of mixed media?

This one is my favorite. Don't ask me why. Maybe cause it has his little hand prints in it. I actually did keep this one. I know. Call me crazy.

Brilliant use of color, don't ya think? I call it "Starry Night."

What? Someone else already used that title for a piece of art?

I didn't know...


Love the 3-D techniques used on this bird.

Very unlikely yet beautiful combination of glitter and lentils. He is really thinking outside the box. He's inventive. He's creative. He's a artistic genius, wouldn't you say?

I said "Wouldn't you say?"


Is anyone out there?


That's weird.

No one answered.

More multi-media. Very free-form and organic.

And he even brought home a plant! Or a weed. I think they planted weeds. But that's okay!

I love it!

10 September 2010

The Payoff

So I rolled out of bed at 10:05am. Halleljuiah and Amen... it was my sleep-in morning! (After I fed the baby that is).

And I grabbed my fairied crepe batter from last night and went for it!

First you gotta heat up the pan and butter it.

Pour enough batter in to thinly cover the pan. Then swish it around and hope.

It's very important to loosen the edges before attempting the crucial flip. Actually the whole thing should kind of feel loose in the pan before you flip it. That is your sign that it's ready to be flipped. It shouldn't be sticking at all. If it's sticking... it means one of two things.
1. You need to wait longer.
2. You need a new pan.

Sorry I can't help you out more with which of those might be your problem if you seem to have lots of stickage...

First couple? Not bad!

Second round?

A bit misshapen and unevenly golden-browned. Who cares?!

I turned out a dozen or so... each one different. These ones, of course, are made for my boy. Just his size. Luckily he doesn't care if they are terribly mishapen. Wait! One of them looks like a blimp! Maybe he'll like that...

Here is the smorgasbord of available toppings.

Order up!

My boy's 'widle' crepes are topped with lemon juice and powdered 'gugar' He's ready to 'pa-way.'

My first crepe has the same toppings as H's.

Mike has the same plus strawberry jam.

The second round is the Nutella round! Nothing is yummier than Nutella and banana if you ask me.


Mike pairs his nutella with jam. Interesting choice.

H is excited about his turn to eat a crepe with just 'gock-wate' on top.

Now he's 'wolling it wike a wug.' (rolling it like a rug).

It's much easier for him to eat it this way.

Crepes with 'gock-wate' make my boy pretty happy. Here he is mid-bite saying: "Mmmnnn, yummy!! Thank-y Mommy!!"

You are welcome!!