30 September 2011

Light and Free


These are my favorites.


These are two of my favorites giving my other favorite goodbye kisses.

Yes, I said goodbye kisses.

Biggest favorite bid littlest favorites and I farewell for nine days as he travels to Africa to try to get our visas so we can hopefully return to our home country soon! He’ll have a bunch of meetings while he’s at it and get caught up with many co-workers. And I'm left behind with two kiddos in not one of the three (count them, three) places I can call home, but in a fourth place. Oh my.

But it’s a good thing.

Except I miss him already.

And he just left two minutes ago.

Just kidding. He left 27 hours and 53 minutes ago.

True story.

Aaaaaanyway... after he left, we relocated to another host-home in Amman. We made some (more) fast-friends and they have kiddos like ours, so they graciously allowed us to move in so that their family can keep my family company and then I may not go stark raving mad without Mikey to help me with the chillins.

What a blessing.

Anyway, before this post gets much longer I’d like to state that life is not fair.

As if you didn’t already know this.

Wanna know why I am stating this particular fact on this particular evening?

Cause all Mikey packed for nine days was this:


One small backpack. One small bag.

That’s it.

The end.


Just look at him on his way out…


So unencumbered by stuff and kids and more stuff and wifey and more stuff.

And no stroller.

I don't understand.


I mean, he just put on his backpack, slung the satchel over his shoulder and walked out the door. But not before I cried and begged him not to go. And not before Sweet N asked him 493 times "Go?" "Go?" "Go?" while looking around the place for her shoes, poor thing.

Once he managed to get free from my death grip he just strolled on down the hill. He strolled. Not the pushing-a-child-in-contraption-with-wheels type of stroll. Duh. But the leisurely/meander/saunter type of stroll. Then he just turned the corner to begin his journey, all light and free. Headed on a solo African adventure.

God bless ‘im.


Meanwhile, I gathered just a few things to take to our ‘new place’ for nine days. I don’t think could use any of the words ‘light’ 'or ‘free’ to describe the packing job I did.

Oh, whatever. I’m over trying to pack light. Over it. Totally and completely.

K, wait. If I'm honest, I do dream of boarding a plane with nothing but a slim handbag over my shoulder and a Starbucks coffee in my hand. But I am also a realist and I know that won’t happen this side of heaven. It’s just not me folks. It did happen once (minus the coffee), but I was tricked into it. And then I got engaged. But that story is for another time.

What I was saying is that I've accepted my fate as an over-packer, that's all.

And on a closing note, I'd like to say that I'm super stinking happy for my husband, who gets nine days to be light and free. It must feel so good. :)

29 September 2011

The Sounds of Life, Sleeping and Waking

We have been in the same flat (aka apartment) in the conservative part of Amman for nearly a month now. I like it here. I like the views and the breeze and the people and the sunsets and the little grocery down the hill. I like the neighborhood in general.


This is the building across the street.


Most nights I have fallen asleep to the sound of dice rolling on the backgammon board.

That’s nice. I like it.


And most mornings I wake up to the sound of this school’s loudspeaker. Here, ‘loud’ is the understatement of the year.

That’s not so nice. I don't like it.

The school day begins as the woman calls the girls to order. At least I think that is what she is doing. Her voice is loud enough that the lady may as well snuck into my bedroom at night and placed a megaphone exactly one half inch from my ear. A really crackly, old, annoying sounding megaphone.

We’re talking loud loud.

During the next half-hour this lady leads calisthenics (no, I don’t participate, thankyouverymuch), recitations, anthems, introduces solo singing performances (?!), does some sort of prayers (I assume), possibly leads a flag raising ceremony and I don’t know what else. And then she occasionally calls out some poor student for some of her apparently awful behavior and embarrasses the poor student to death. I don’t tell what she is saying, exactly, but I can tell it’s not nice and the girl has got to be mortified.

I hate that part, especially.


Then the girls file into the school one by one as a re-mix of Arabic songs are continually blasted for the entire side of the mountain to hear.

Needless to say, we haven’t been sleeping very late.

27 September 2011

Amman Street Art Fair

Tonight we went to the Amman Street Art Fair with the kiddos. It was an odd and interesting and wonderful cultural experience. Odd and interesting and wonderful because it was so similar to our home culture that you could have forgotten you were in the Middle East if you ignored the handful of women with covered heads and some spoken Arabic occasionally wafting into your ears.

There were photographers, a sculptor, an up-cycler, accessory crafters, painters, salsa dancers, beat-boys, rappers, a glass blower, jewelers and more. There was even a 'free-hug' stall. Wait... Where am I again?!


I could say all kinds of things about the evening, but the two thoughts I kept having the whole night were these:

1. "I'm so glad that there is art being shared and artists being celebrated." You see, the arts and artists being public, accepted and especially celebrated is a fairly recent thing in this region of the world. Africa too. But it's growing and I love it.

2. "The art and artists here are a representation of their Creator's creativity, whether they know it or not." The one true God is the supreme Artist. The Creator of the arts. And He was reflected tonight in various beautiful and diverse expressions. Most people maybe don't know that their gifts are an expression of their Creator... that their gifts actually come FROM Him. But it is true whether they know it or not.

Yeah. Odd. And interesting. And wonderful.

And I give Him glory.

(face art)


(painted flower on her hand)

(sidewalk chalk-ing)



(apron girlie)

(sweet snack. sweet photo)

Water Update

I realized that I never let you know how we did with the whole 'one cubic meter of water for a whole week' thing. (Check it out here, if ya missed it.)

Well, we did it!! Can you believe it?!

And here was the kiddos reward... Actually, it wasn't really a reward per se, cause frankly, even if we had failed miserably at our water challenge and run out of water half way through the week, then you know that they would have still gotten a long bath on water day, only then we would have called it a 'consolation prize' and they would have needed it even more! Ha!

25 September 2011

Girlie See, Girlie Do


Brother do. Girlie see.


Girlie do.


Brother do. Girlie see.


Girlie do.

And repeat.

22 September 2011

Life Around Here


This is the scene of our street-bought-lunch a few days ago (falafel sandwiches). Isn’t Amman nice (it doesn’t all look like this, but some parts do!)


And this is my girlie looking so big and so darn cute eating her own sandwich I can hardly take it.


Speaking of cute, this is is the window display of a furniture store at one of the local malls. Yes, it’s miniature! Not dollhouse miniature. But, like, toddler miniature. A whole living room set? Have you ever seen anything like it?!


H asked to go in and look. We obliged. Then he tried it all out for size.

It fit perfect.


Oh. My. Word. This was definitely a first for me!


And today, while waiting for an appointment, we found a local park.


The kids had fun on the teeter-totters and we discovered why they took them out of most parks in the U.S. (No injuries, grandparents). :)


And my girlie threw a fit at one point. Not sure why. What else is new?


After the appointment, we stopped for one of my fav treats from this part of the world… Cocktail with fruits! It’s pretty much a smoothie with a bunch of fruit chunks inside. (Check out another gorgeous one I had in Lebanon here)


But there was also a donut counter in the same restaurant. When Sweet N wandered off, she was whisked behind the counter and soon returned with a treat of her own in her lil’ hands. (For no charge, of course!)



And while I’m at it, this is our street. The city is built on seven hills (small mountains?) and we live on one hill/mountain that is known to be the steepest. Needless to say, my calves hurt for a few days upon arrival.

And that is a bit of our life around here…

P.S. We opened up another piece of luggage (that was meant to stay closed until we make it home to Africa) tonight just to save Mikey from having to create many more unique voices, like he did this night and following nights. :)

21 September 2011

The Baby Squat

I love the baby squat. Don't you?


Such skill.


Such balance. (This was taken on an awesome summer night, posted here)


She’s just the sweetest. That’s all.

19 September 2011

Quote of the Day

This ’quote’ happened many months ago at home in Africa.  I recently re-discovered this random file of the conversation on my computer desktop (that gives you a clue into the state of my computer desktop, doesn’t it?!). Oh my.

I believe Mike was playing with H on our living room rug, I overheard their conversation from my desk (while working on my computer) and typed out what I heard when I heard it.

“Daddy, can you be a horse?”  H asked.

Mike, trying to be enthusiastic, replied “No, I'm too tired to be a horse. I can be a worm!”

H was not convinced that worms are fun.

“Daddy, I want you to be a horse.”

”I can be a log. That'd be fun... you could like, sit on the log.” (Ha!  Sit on a log for fun... Bahahahaha…)

“Daddy, I want you to be a horse.” H asks, once again. Then he started to pout.

“I wanna play with you, but I'm just tired.” Mike explained… “How about I’ll be a sleeping horse!!

"Noooo.” Groaned my boy.

Yeah… all of us parents have been there, have we not? There is definitely no judgment coming from me… I often only want to play games that I can participate in while lying on H’s floor mattress in his bedroom.  Still… this makes me laugh!

18 September 2011

How to Pack Storage, Psycho-Organized Version

Even though we make our home in Africa, we usually spend most years in Colorado and in Ohio. Naturally, this leads to an accumulation of stuff. Mikey thought our ‘stuff trail’ was bad a few years ago. Well, that was nothin’ compared to our stuff trail now with kids. Sorry babe.

Our stuff in Colorado fills a 10 by 10 storage unit that contains lots of clothes that are growing outdated with each passing season, an entire household worth of goods and furniture, minus my favorite couches that my husband convinced me to sell when we packed our storage up (for the second time) in 2010, just after the birth of sweet N. I (somewhat reluctantly) agreed to sell my fav couches because we knew that IKEA would be open in Denver by the time we would possibly move back to Colorado again and set up another home. But that is a serious rabbit trail.

We haven’t really gotten into this storage unit much in the past five years except for that six months in 2009-2010 that we unexpectedly found ourselves moving back into our small house while Mike got his bachelor’s degree in record time and I incubated, nested-for and birthed my sweet daughter.

Our Ohio storage on the other hand is much more fluid. We get into it each time we’re home for a visit. In it I can find my library cards, my 'America' clothes, winter-wear for everyone (no use for THAT in Africa), outgrown kiddie clothes, toys that didn’t fit in the luggage and a thousand other random things that we may or may not need when we return home for another visit someday.

Problem is, I can’t remember from year to year what we have in storage and I do not ever want to bring something home from Africa to the U.S. if it’s something I already have in the U.S. Cause that would mean one less NEW thing fits in our luggage on the way back.

Oh my. Are you confused? Our lives are a tad bit complicated, I understand.

SO (Am I getting to the point, you wonder?) a couple years ago I created a system to quickly and easily know what we have in storage in my parent’s basement. And I have recently improved upon that system. This organization and efficiency brings life to my soul, so I’ll share it with you now, in case you care and ever find yourself having to pack up and store your life in three different places.

The first step in this process is to organize your junk into various categories. My piles included books, Mike’s clothes, kids’s toys, boy clothes, car stuff etc.


This bin has already been labeled “Girl Clothes” and “Baby Stuff”. (Ha! That sentence made me feel like I am on a cooking show or something and my project was magically prepared.)


First, take a picture of the empty tote. When you load the pics on your computer, this will be your indication that the following pictures are things that are included this category (and are therefore in this very tote).

Now, plop yourself on the carpet with the pile of stuff that fits in this category on one side of you and the empty bin on the other. And get ready to lay stuff out, click your camera and toss it in the bin.


Click: Awwwww! Baby girlie sleepers! Remember when she was so teensy and tiny?

Now toss (or fold) them into the bin.


Click: Her sweet blankets! Every time I pack these away I try and TRY to find a reason to need these heavy, soft and gorgeous blankets in my sauna of a country in Africa. But I never can find that reason and I reluctantly pack them away. So sad.


Click: Newborn outfits. *Sniff*


Click: Cupcake hoodie and leggings. Maybe she could still fit into that this ‘winter’ in Africa?? Probably not…


Click: Eensy onesies. The sweetest.


Click: Cupcake cardigan!! Oh please oh please oh please can I have another girlie so she can wear this too?!! (Nope, not pregnant, thanks for asking.)


Click: Summer romper! She wore this one all the way through Asia, but it’s on the tight side now with a disposal diaper, so she certainly won’t be able to wear it with her cloth diapered bum on the other side of the globe.


Click: Her newborn hats. I love them.


Click: A handful of items that will fit her in a year’s time. I wouldn’t want to forget that she has a super cute pool-towel-dress to grow into, would I?

Not Pictured: A hundred more things that I won’t bore you with.


Finally, take a picture of the fully packed tote. This is your indication in your photo file that the baby girl clothes tote has finished being inventoried.

Then repeat the whole process with the next pile and tote.

That’s it! I did about a dozen totes (ahem, I mean only a couple totes, Honey!) like this before we left Ohio a couple weeks ago.

And it brings peace to my bones. Amen.