29 April 2012

Riding the Happy Skies

I don’t think we’ve ever had such a smooth or easy trip overseas than this last time. Before OR after children! I know that’s a strong statement… but really we had NO hassles or delays and frankly that just never happens!


Checking-in in Ohio gave us a great start. We didn't have to go to the airport until 5pm, which meant we had the whole day to finish packing and get ready. It was fabulous. Once we were at the airport there was no line and the kind man behind the counter graciously ignored the fact that almost every one of our nine check-ins was two pounds overweight. Some agents in the past have made us take things out until the weight is perfect.  Not this guy! I thanked him from the bottom of my heart for his grace towards us. I cannot imagine trying to grab eighteen pounds worth of stuff out of my bags… that’s a lot of stuff and I would most definitely have been in tears if I had to shed some cheddar cheese, craft supplies or heaven forbid... my new Crock Pot!

I really need to remember to put a note on my luggage scale that it’s two pounds off! I tried so hard to avoid the overweight thing and look what happened… Bah.


Anyway, after some teary goodbyes and our last Starbucks for a while we boarded our puddle jumper to D.C.


“Wook Mommy!”


She was pretty happy. Until we took off when she was in my arms kicking and screaming “No A-pwane! No A-pwane!!!” over and over and over. I was mortified. Could this be my child not liking airplanes? She's been on like  a thousand of them in her short lifetime! (slight exaggeration) Luckily, this routine was a one-time thing and she was fine the other flights. Weird.

We had to purchase her an almost full-price ticket now that she’s two. It’s pricey, of course, but we have no choice. And traveling is so much easier when the tots finally get their own seat.


This easy hour flight was filled with stickers…


… and a new transformer. Fun.

We had a quick and simple layover in D.C. before we boarded our overseas ten hour flight to Istanbul. Ten hours isn’t too bad, we weren’t worried at all.


It was already midnight, but they don’t turn down the lights until the meal has been served (yes, always a meal served in the beginning of a long flight no matter what time of day/night it is) and that takes awhile.


The kiddos were pretty entertained by the little bag of comfort items that was handed out.  Green slipper socks, toothbrushes, chapstick (half of which was smeared all over N’s face before we realized it… the girl loves her moisturizer)…


…eye masks and the like.


They also spent some time ‘calling’ their grandparents on these phones.


Phones which are also the television/movie remotes. Which brings me to the other activity that kept them busy… personal on-demand television screens. Glory halleluiah!

After the lights dimmed they both zonked. Sweet N on the chairs and my boy H on the floor in his normal position. They slept well, Mikey slept well and I did not sleep well… but that’s all par for the course.


We landed in Istanbul for a short-ish layover of three hours. We found the ideal spot. Criteria for an ideal spot to whittle away a few hours in an airport with kids include:

1. Carpet
2. A big window they can see out of.
3. A corner of space where they can play and not be in anyone’s way and it’s easy to keep an eye on them.


4. And a Comfy luggage cart parked in front of a continuous-play infomercial for aqua-massage?

Check! Check! Check! and Check?!

We soon boarded our final flight. There are no pictures of this flight because Sweet N fell asleep in my lap during takeoff and didn’t wake up until four hours and two numb arms later when we landed. Miracle of glorious miracle. And in between Mike and I ate what we agreed was the BEST airline meal we have ever had. Chicken with a creamy eggplant sauce… you’d never guess it but it was absolutely delicious! I practically licked the little aluminum container.

At 1am we arrived on time in our home-city. After only one hour in the airport we had every single piece of our luggage and one-month visas.  We had no chalk X’s on our bags, no custom checks and no crowds accosting us as we exited the airport… it was so great.  Two friends picked us up and us and all of our stuff fit in the vehicle along with all of our bodies. That was another miracle.
And then we were home ten minutes later.

The whole thing was something like 26 hours start to finish, definitely a record for us. It’s taken us three days before to make this journey. Frankly, God’s grace and favor was written all over the whole thing.

The End. Amen! Glory to Jesus!!

28 April 2012

Quote of the Day

“Today Daddy might take me to the lemonade stand and get me a little less, but more.”

                          -H when he was telling me about his trip to the local juice stall.

“Mmmmmn. It tastes pretty bad *shiver* but yummy! Blech.”

                           -After H asked if he could put salt on his yogurt and I let him.

Sometimes I get mixed messages from him…

26 April 2012


I just might have fallen asleep on the floor the other day when I was playing with my daughter. And I just might have woken up to discover this:


Uh huh.

Also, I also found dolly like this:


…am I the only one that finds this mildly disturbing?

25 April 2012

Some Things Never Change.


Like this girlie, loving this same ol’ bag she loved way back when. She (re)discovered it as we were (still are) settling in, immediately strapped it on and started loading it up, fresh out of the bathtub.

24 April 2012

Her Own Bed

When we arrived home at 2am six days ago, we could not locate Sweet N’s pack n play ANYWHERE. We didn’t exactly have all the time in the world before bedtime so we decided to put N on a mattress on the floor. The air cooler in the kids’ room wasn’t working so they had to sleep in our room anyhow, because we have the one and only air conditioner in our room.   Glory Halleluiah.

So we put two mattresses on the floor, laid the kids down (at 4am) and frankly I wasn’t quite sure what would happen. N had never slept in a big girl bed! I was planning on switching her very soon, but the day we arrive isn’t necessarily the ideal time, in my mind.

But what could we do?!

Not  a thing.


So here ya have it.


My girlie’s first night in a big girl bed. If going to sleep on a mattress on the floor of her parent’s room at 4am counts. Which I think it does. Also, she insisted on socks because that’s how she’s slept for the past year. She didn’t care that the room was near 90 degrees.


And here she was in the morning. I do believe she did okay! And she took her own socks off. Ha!


How I love her.

However, I have to say that it took N a couple days of sleeping on the floor to realize that she could actually get out of bed herself should be sleeping. We had a few lessons on that and I think she understand now to stay in bed when we put here there. I hope she gets it. Time will tell if she really gets it…


And this was another morning. My boy.


H is a crazy sleeper. He turned 180 degrees and slept with his head on the tile floor. Whaaaat?!
Aaaaanyway, flash forward: TODAY was the first day their cooler worked (it was fixed the other day and broke again within hours) and their room was clean and so we moved ‘em on in!


H was thrilled to be back under his blue mosquito net.

“I’m gonna play in bed my all day long!” He said as he climbed in. Think it’ll actually happen tomorrow? Ha!


But this was something new for girlie. Wasn’t sure if she’d be okay with it…


But she totally was.


And once the lights were out


we didn’t hear a peep or see a peek from either of them.


I guess the transition back to their own room in a house my daughter doesn’t remember wasn’t so hard after all!

Maybe I underestimate her/them.
They are really good kids… they do amazing well with transition. Thank you Jesus.

So tonight my boy sleeps in his own bed for the first time in almost a year and my girlie sleep in her own big girl bed for the first time ever.

The next transitions to tackle will be potty training Sweet N and maybe taking away her corker, but the jury is still out on that one…

23 April 2012

Bed Head

The kids have been sleeping in because we have been keeping them up late. This has been our strategy to overcome jet lag and it’s working for the kids. But when I say “we” are keeping the kids up late I really just mean that Mikey is keeping the kids up late cause I have been turning into a pumpkin in the evenings and I have been offering him so assistance whatsoever. I blame that on the fact that I’ve been busting my butt all day every day and by 9 (10, 11) at night I’ve got nothin’ left.

Aaaanyway… when my boy joyfully stumbled out of bed a bit after 8 this morning, he had a bit of a bed head. He doesn’t usually (ever) get bed head, but since they have been getting necessary baths every night (also thanks only to Mikey) and going to bed with wet hair… I guess this is what happens.


He is just the most precious boy and I love these photos!!



20 April 2012

Quote of the Day

“Are there any other white people here Mommy?”

-My boy H

19 April 2012

Baptized in Dust


We made it. There is a lot I could say about our trip and pictures I could post. But you’ve seen a lot of that in my day. If you want to see it though, just say so and I’ll do it. I like to have those things included in this here online family photo album, but I don’t want to bore my readers (hi, you two!) to death.

Okay. Enough of that.

We got here two days ago. Two days. We were greeted by great friends and all seventeen (yes, nine checked bags and eight carry-ons) two children and two adults were safely deposited in our apartment where there were even cinnamon rolls ready to be baked in the morning. It was an incredibly smooth trip, start to finish. Praise to Jesus.

Upon arrival, a quick inventory of the house revealed a few things. Like that our bikes were stolen. And the water pump isn’t working. And our fridge had been off. And our toilet was broken. And our car’s battery was dead. And there are wild mangy cat and kittens living on our balcony. And only one of our four air coolers work. And that the huge tree that shaded our house and gave us privacy on our balcony and provided us with some refreshing green outside was chopped down and sold for money in our absence. And the floors are peeling more than I remembered. And that someone siphoned the gas out of our tank. And the paint is falling off the walls all over the place. Just to name a few things.

And then, there’s the dust.

The dust.

Now, we’ve lived here almost six years and I KNOW to expect dust. I prepare myself for it and know it’s gonna be bad. And it was. The place was clean on the surface… the floors had been mopped and the tables and counters wiped. But that’s about it. Anything and everything else, whether it was inside a cupboard or not) has a thick layer of Sahara dust on it. I was pretty disappointed about this, because my cleaner was cleaning in preparation for our arrival so I kinda hoped the place would be, you know, clean.

I was wrong.

But it’s okay I happily told myself! I’ll just clean one room at a time, from top of the fifteen foot walls down to the crusty corners of the old painted-and-peeling tile floors. I have to do all this cleaning before I unpack any of those seventeen bags because there isn’t a clean place to put away a single thing. So before even laying my travel weary head on my pillow after close to thirty hours of traveling I resolve to start in the kids’ room the very next morning. If their toys and books and closet and furniture is clean then I can unpack their things, have a clean place for them to play and feel like I have some control in my dusty dusty life.

So Wednesday that is what I did. I teetered on the tippy top of the ladder. I scrubbed with the super-long-extended-wall-dust-scrubber-brush (yes, you can buy those here). I went through bucket after bucket of clean water gone muddy. I filled the washing machine with dirty rags. I wiped every solitary book and placed it back on the carefully cleaned bookshelf. I took each item out of the kids’ closet, wiped it down and returned it to its place. I hauled baskets and trucks and train sets to the bathtub and sat there on my knees scrubbing them under the running water. I did it all. And in the midst of it all, I dealt with needy jet-laggy children and sweated myself silly. No biggie.

But by the end of the day that one room was clean. At least clean for Africa. Fresh sheets on the bed. Washed curtains. Clean organized toys. Re-arranged furniture.

And it felt so good.

Really really good.

That was yesterday. So today my helper came and together we cleaned the kitchen in a similar fashion… top to bottom. Every cabinet, every surface, every cookbook, every decoration, every lightbulb and exposed electrical wire, etc. Every dish and drawer. And we did all that while caring for her baby and my children, one of which had been puking up blood from his multiple bloody noses the day before. It was a joy, lemme tell ya. Except I shouldn’t even say that we cleaned everything because that is actually a lie. After the two of us worked all day we still hadn’t finished. But she left anyway and I can’t say I blame her.

Enter Mikey and the three local workers he’s brought to fix our coolers and our broken toilet. I’m still cleaning the kitchen by myself and I’m constantly (and I mean CONSTANTLY) closing doors after these guys as they come in from the balcony and go back out so that dust from the filthy balconies doesn’t blow into my house and make matters worse. The muddy tracks on the freshly mopped floor are bad enough, I don’t need more dust in the air.

Anyway we’ve seen this cooler-cleaning scenario before and so we make sure to tell the worker to warn us before he turns the air cooler on in the kids’ room for the first time so that we can hold a wet towel over the vent and catch the dust. This is common sense to us.

Do you see where this is going?

I’m chopping fruit in the kitchen and turn around to see the balcony door open (again) and begin to walk over to close it. As I pass the kids’ bedroom I see the guy reaching for the switch to turn the cooler on. I try to say something, but it’s too late. Out comes the LARGEST, THICKEST, DIRTIEST dust cloud I’ve ever seen in my LIFE (and I’ve seen a lot of dust clouds) billowing and I mean BILLOWING out of the vent and filling the room in filthy, awful dust.

That’s when I loose it. I actually screamed out uncontrollably at the top of my lungs in pure horror (a feeling I don’t often experience and a sound I don’t think I’ve ever emitted before this day). Then I screamed “WHHHHYYY?” and then in Arabic for good measure “LEEEEEEEEHH” as tears burst from my eyes. I can’ t look at anyone and I am certain that all the men, my husband and my children were just standing there wondering what could have happened that would be so bad to make the white lady act like that. But I don’t care. I race to the bedroom and slam the door as the wails billow up from inside of me. I know my behavior is erratic but I can’t help it. I literally couldn’t stop wailing and weeping for a good twenty minutes.

Now people. I am a mature, very easy-going, level-headed, emotionally stable person who knows there are more important things in life.. But this dust. This DUST!!! Sometimes I just wish I could be okay walking on dusty floors and reading dusty books and sitting on dusty chairs and playing with dusty toys and opening and closing dusty curtains. But I’m not. You probably wouldn’t be either. If you were here I think you’d feel the same. Some of you DO live in this sandbox-of-a-country with me… can you back a girl up here?

I was a mess and rightfully so, I’d say. I mean… you should have SEEN that dust cloud INSIDE MY FRESHLY CLEANED HOUSE!!!!!! Oh my word. I could cry again just picturing it in my head.

Now I know this is long. But I’m not done. I was later washing (more) dishes pondering the “What made the white lady act like that” question myself. All I could come up with is it’s kind of like if you had worked ALL DAY on an excruciating report in college that you had been dreading for weeks. You’ve just finished after a whole day of seriously hard work and you click save and you admire your work and you’re so stinkin’ glad that you’re done and the feeling of completion and satisfaction is oh-so-good. You go back the next day and find out that some guy had just clicked ‘delete’ cause he felt like it and ZAP… it’s GONE. Gone gone gone and you must start over. In fact you have even more work to do now than you did at the start because not only did he delete one file, but it billowed, I mean deleted the surrounded rooms, I mean FILES at the same time. And so you have to start over on those too. And even though you have a million other things to do and you’re dead tired and you were so happy that you got this one thing accomplished you have to immediately go and do all that same work and MORE all over again before you can do anything else. All because some guy was too lazy to do the right thing.

Do you get it? Can you feel my pain?!

Oh. But wait.The guy said “Malesh Ustaaza” (Sorry, Lady) before he left. So that made it all better.

Except it didn’t. Not at all. It’s like saying ‘Woopsies!” WOOPSIES?! He makes a lil’ woopsie and I loose DAYS of my life being baptized in dust. But all he did was say the equivalent of “Woopsie” and walk out the door with his wad of cash. I couldn’t look at him I was so angry with him.



Baptized in dust.

16 April 2012


All I have time for today is a quick game of Charades.

Sweet N will be first. She will also be the last. No time, remember?

Six words.










We are going on an airplane.

Did you get it?!

No? That’s okay. She’s a beginner.

We bid America and all our loved ones here a VERY bittersweet goodbye…

13 April 2012

The Creek

My boy H has been doing a lot of work outside with his Poppi. He looooooves it and frankly if Poppi is doing any sort of work or any sort of anything, then there is no keeping his little shadow away.

I think Poppi has accepted that fact.

Anyway. There has been a large bit of digging going on down by the creek. Digging in the creek turned into exploring the creek which turned into removing my boy’s clothing and watching him jump right on into the creek.







Looking for tadpoles.


Sweet N was mostly occupied with trying to get the mud off her feet that she got ON her feet when she stepped in the creek for two seconds and then decided she did not want to be in the creek anymore.


My boy, however, did not mind the mud.

He loved it.




My boy is squooooooshing away...


...while my girl frets about the mud she accidentally stepped in. Not hard to see some major differences between my boy and girl here! My boy is so boyish and my girl, well... so girlie!

I love it.


Poppi was kind enough to assist her in her foot-cleaning endeavor.




What a fun way to spend an hour.

I’m gonna miss this place.

12 April 2012

Two More Feet

Last week my sis-in-law and bro-in-law asked me to take this cute photo of them and their feet.


It was a bit of specific request. And a bit odd. And a bit urgent the evening before Easter. But I went with the flow and didn’t ask too many questions cause I’m cool like that…

Well, I should have known they were up to something!


Their family is “Growing by 2 feet!”

That’s right… I’m gonna be an Auntie again! Whoooo0-hoooooo!! I did do a bit of jumping and screaming when we found out!

Sweet one (they refuse to find out what they’re having, again, much to my dismay!) will arrive in October…


And in October that will make this sweet boy a big brother!! And at the wise old age of 16 months he’ll be showing new baby the ways of this world.


He is just the sweetest thing.


And he’s gonna make a fabulous littlest Big Brother.


I’m sure of it!


Congrats Curt, Julie and Big Brother B! We’re so excited for you to welcome a new baby into your family!

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