30 September 2012

Gettin' Creative

One thing I love about running a preschool is that I plan the lessons for each day and so I know that the kiddos get lots of activity/project/craft stuff in every week. None of this usual teacher-paints-a-picture-for-the-student-while-the-student-does-nothing business that is so common in this part of the world.

We’ve done all kinds of things since school started and the kids love it. It’s brewed a whole new sort of creativity in my boy and he comes home and wants to keep creating.

Yesterday after my  nap he surprised me with a small paper heart that he had traced, cut and colored all by himself. He was so proud and I almost cried.


So he was loving it the other day when I had my paper slicer out. He went to town on his own creation. (Don’t worry…the blade is not very sharp and it’d be very difficult for him to get harmed by it).


A masterpiece, eh?! At least you can’t say I did it for him! Ha!

27 September 2012


We love Legos. This isn’t the first time I posted about them.

It used to be that playing with Legos was a special activity that my boys did together occasionally. We didn’t think H was ready to do them on his own.

I think we were wrong.

It’s all he wants to play these days. And play he does. For HOURS. I don’ t know if ANYthing has EVER kept this boy occupied for so long (besides movies.) AM I USING ENOUGH CAPITAL LETTERS TO GET THE POINT ACROSS? This boy loves Legos.

But he doesn’t just love them. I am convinced he has a special gift for them. I’ve known from when he was very small that he has an incredibly detailed eye and that his fine motor skills are exceptional (no bias here, for sure!).

But seriously, I did not expect this.


He spent all of yesterday afternoon/evening parked at the coffee table.


So focused. So intent.


He carefully followed every last page of this very large ‘construction booklet’ (as he calls it.)


And he built this truck (and the entire trailer part too, with wheels, lights, etc) virtually by himself. Once I helped him get two stuck pieces apart, once I helped him make two pieces stick that kept falling apart and Mike helped him once find a piece in the pile he couldn’t find. That’s it!


This one complicated vehicle.

I mean, is it just me or does this seem a bit advanced for a not-yet five year old? Hundreds of tiny pieces, all put together in precisely the exact place with no help?  He even had to backtrack several steps one time cause he realized that he had two pieces switched and the stickers were in the wrong spot.

I’m amazed at my boy. And I don’t care if it’s bias or not!! Ha!

26 September 2012

Quote of the Day

From Beth Moore’s “A Woman’s Heart, God’s Dwelling Place”

“How often do we stomp our feet at God after He has delivered us from the things of the world and say ‘I want some of it back’? He would give us manna from heaven, but we demand to eat from the world’s table, too. The sad thing is that we will always have to take on the yoke of slavery to do so.”

25 September 2012


I know I recently did a post about my kids sleeping. Well, here is another. I just can’t help myself. Sorry to all you non-grandparents and aunties out there…

This night when I checked on the kiddos they had apparently had a conversation about sleeping perpendicular on their beds. I truly believe they did. They had obviously adjusted their pillows accordingly. And so we found them like this, zonked a couple hours later…




Silly kids. Maybe they like to try new things like their Mama?

We’ve been having more and more trouble with them talking and playing together from their beds after we tuck them in at naptime or nighttime. It got worse when we took down their mosquito nets. What to do? They seem to like each other (most of the time)…

23 September 2012

A Funny

Last week Mike was out and I needed him to pick me up some veggies on the way home so I could make my pure veg spaghetti sauce the next day.

So I texted him my list and then a few minutes later he texted me back. Read in the pic…


Piggy?! He called me a piggy! For asking for 11 kilos of vegetables, of all things!? Ha!

I laughed, wondering if he meant to do that.

And when I came home I asked him about it. He didn’t type it! His ‘pocket’ did (this happens to the best of us). And we laughed and laughed! What are the chances that a message would accidentally get typed ‘PiggY"’ and sent at such a funny moment.

I loved it. Felt so good to have a good laugh. I love my man.

19 September 2012

What have I done?

My daughter’s locks had gotten pretty long lately. They were getting challenging for me to comb and were often full of oatmeal/yogurt/spaghetti sauce/name-the-food-of-the-hour.

And so Mikey encouraged me that it was time to do a trim.

A whaaaaaat?! Shrieked the mother of a super-cute two year old with darling long hair for her age?!

But he was right. It needed trimmed. And I was on a haircut roll the other night so I just bit the bullet and did her’s too. (By the way, I think I should get paid for my haircutting services… the number of haircuts I’ve done since I became engaged to marry my man is worthy of some pay, I’d say. But nevermind that…)

So I set my girlie on a stool in front of the sink, which ended up being a pretty good ‘keep her busy’ strategy while she played in the running water (sorry, environmentalists) while I wet her hair and cut it.

Here, before and after:


Ack! I cut more off than I meant too! I got a bit emotionally unstable for a few seconds after I put the scissors down and then I got ahold of myself. Her hair grows really fast. It will be back in no time. It will be back in no time. It will be back in no time… I kept telling myself.


She had no idea what happened. I told her I cut her hair and she became terribly confused. Since I’ve only ever cut her bangs but hadn’t touched her bangs that day she got a bit bent out of shape over it.


“You cut this part?” She was thinking.


“But a haircut happens here, on my forehead” (I’m mind-reading here).


Now real words… “Not dis heeeeir”…




“Dis heeeeeirrr”!

Ha ha. She knows what she wants folks. But her bangs didn’t need cut, so she didn’t get her way that day. Sorry girlie. She since forgot.

In other hair news, below is an interesting study in the color of my children’s hair. When it’s on their heads I find I don’t often know what color it is. Do you ever have that problem?

But when it’s in piles on the floor it’s much easier to see and compare.

Also, I realize that a picture of cut hair on a bathroom floor could be a bit disturbing or unpleasant to look at. I’m not sure why that is, but I kind of feel the same way. But I post it anyway cause I think it’s interesting. If you think this will offend you, don’t look.


H’s (right) is definitely brown? What? (yes, his pile is big… his hair was very overgrown!)

And N’s is lighter with a definite red tinge. You can see it here pretty clearly.

If Mike’s were there it would be even darker than H’s.

And mine might be like N’s? I think?

Pardon me, but since when are my children not blonde toe-heads? I always thought of them as blue eyed and blonde haired. I think I got the blue eye part right but apparently I was all wrong about the hair.

Perfectly made by God, in any case! I love them and their lil’ locks.

18 September 2012

The Busier I Am…

Do you know what I’ve noticed the past few weeks? That the busier I am, the more I accomplish.

Ha! I know this seems glaringly obvious. You’re thinking “Duh, Suzanne”. Go ahead… say it! I know you’re thinking it. I’m thinking it too.

The last few weeks we have finally gotten into a routine. I am out of the house for many hours a week instead of just a few, which is quite a change from most of the past six years in this country.  And I’m putting my hands towards the work of something big… a brand-new preschool. A preschool with real-live kids and real-live staff and a real-life property and daily lessons and too many spiders and and and.  You’d think I’d be too busy and too tired to do much else than deal with all that.

And at the beginning this was true. And now, still true in some ways. I often am too tired to think about leaving the house in the afternoon after a day at school. And some days just drag and I can’t seem to stop yawning. Other days I am in bed at 8m. But still, somehow in the midst of all the busyness…I am more productive than I have been in a long time.

My email inbox is low. My daughter’s baby book photos are finally chosen after months and months of procrastination. I’m blogging again. My to-do list is shorter than it has been in years. And I even have time to do some crafts in the evening. Really?! And I nap often and sleep 8-9 hours a night. How can this be? It seems impossible.

But somehow, routine and productivity has spawned more productivity in my life lately. I think being super active has helped to keep my energy level up. I also think the fact that I have snippets of time in my office on my computer during the day while my assistant teacher is with the kiddos in the classroom (like right now!) has given me enough time to accomplish my daily ‘internet errands’ early in the day so that I don’t need to be on my computer in the evenings… which is amazingly refreshing!

I think also, that I am motivated to work towards all the tasks before me because I am certain that it was God who laid them out for me. I believe I’m walking in His will, even when it seemed a hard turn to take. That fact has given me confidence and energy and perseverance when otherwise, should I have been uncertain of God’s plans, I might not have been able to keep going through the rough patches (more of which are certain to come).

In conclusion (what is this, a science report?) I really just think it’s God’s grace… like it has ALWAYS been in all the interesting turns our lives have taken that has carried us from task to task, challenge to challenge, season to season and resting place to resting place.

My heart is so so thankful. My life is rhythmic. And my inbox is empty. Can I get an Amen?!

17 September 2012


I don’t really get many pregnancy ‘cravings’. Or maybe I just have learned to suppress them. I don’t think I have once (in all 24 months I’ve been pregnant in my life) sent my husband to the store immediately for some item I just can’t live without. Maybe because most of my pregnant months have been in Africa and frankly there is not much to crave.

I suppose if I’m honest… my current suppressed cravings are real cream cheese and chips with nacho cheese (like the sporting event neon orange kind). Philadelphia cream cheese is available here, if I’d like to pay approximately 7 dollars for it. No thanks. And fast food neon cheese and corn chips are just not here at all (probably a good thing?). So I suppress. And I suppress some more. What else can I do?

Enter a craving I could satisfy!…

So, I recently (re)read “Redeeming Love”. And in this historical fiction book whenever visitors come to the house they serve them coffee and biscuits. What kind of biscuits I don’t know, but I do know that when I finished reading the novel I really wanted to eat biscuits!

So even though I was bone tired and it was the hottest time of day and it wasn’t near a mealtime and we were supposed to be somewhere in an hour… I drug myself to the kitchen and whipped up a batch of whole-wheat baking powder biscuits. Generally in this country, if you want to eat something… you gotta make it yourself (this is a good lesson in patience and delayed gratification for a pregnant lady)! As soon as the first tray emerged from the oven I spread on ‘cow cheese’ (local processed non-food cream cheese that I have been eating lately, oops.) and fig jam.

Is this normal?


I don’t know.

Scan (1)

But it sure hit the spot!

And that is the end of a very long story that nobody cares about.

The end.

16 September 2012

Some Things Learned

When we were spending the crazy month of August setting up the preschool, we were also doing some repairs and work in our own house. It was probably too much at one time (okay… it was definitely too much at one time)… but what can you do?!

Here are a few things I learned that month:

1. There is no brown spray paint to be found in the city. Not a single can. Believe me!

2. Washing machine repairmen freely pick up two year old girls and kiss them repeatedly on the lips. And the little girl eats it up. Oh my!

3. ‘Getting something fixed’ (in this case, the electricity in our home) is actually just an invitation for one scary electrical problem after another. And once it is actually ‘fixed’, approximately a half dozen things that used to work in your house now do NOT work. Ugh.

4. Shopkeepers rarely mark prices (I already knew this) and shopkeepers rarely have a ‘checkout counter’ that has more than four square inches on which to place desired purchases down for calculation (I already also knew this). But what I learned is that there is at least ONE store in the city where everything is marked AND there is a large, clean, white counter where I could have placed a good twenty items for purchase.  That shop makes me smile!! I plan to return.

5. It takes 7 men to cut down a bougainvillea vine out of electric lines. Then it takes one man to reattach the cut electrical line with his bare hands while yelling “Did he turn it back on yet?!” Oh my goodness. (No one was harmed in this incident, thank God).

6. It took a full month to get a washing machine properly repaired (broken because of item #3).  In the meantime, we learned how long we can actually survive in a hot dirty country without a washing machine.

7. The locals have a love for lacquer like you have never seen. And now the ‘refinished’ (term used very loosely) table in my office looks like it forever has a big puddle of water on it, even though it’s bone dry.

8. With so many workers around, I suddenly became “madam” for whatever reason. And I learned that I secretly (um, not anymore?!) like this.

9. It takes one man a full week to locate and purchase two child sized table and chairs.  And he will look, literally, in EVERY corner of the city before he succeeds.

10. We learned that we can persevere and survive one of the craziest and stretching months of our lives! But not without God’s grace!

15 September 2012

The Beloved Lion

Here is meal time at my house.


She’s cute, eh? See her lil’ dimple? I love it…


And this guy. So cute. And a bit sweaty… oh my!


And check out this cup. Ever seen anything like it?


Not sure that the word ‘cute’ could be used to describe it.


When H and Mikey were in the market one night a generous shop-owner gifted my boy with this lovely mug.


And it quickly became one of H’s most prized possessions. He adores it.

And it kinda cracks me up.

And he keeps telling me we need to find a pink plastic mug with a monkey on it for Sweet N, so she can have a special cup for her favorite, too. Just like his, but pink, of course. And with a monkey, since that’s her favorite animal. And plastic… so it won’t break since she’s littler than him and might not be able to handle a ceramic mug… (This is all his thinking…)

So if you see one of those in the soug (pink plastic mug with a monkey on it, got it?)… let me know. Ha!

12 September 2012

Three Things

1. The children are convinced that if they speak directly into my belly button that the baby has a much better chance of hearing them.

2. I am currently in post-chaos nesting mode. AKA clean-up-the-huge-mess-that-piled-up-during-crazy-sick-and-and-sleepy-and-busy-summer. It feels so good to have the time and energy to organize my home again. It helps me feel like myself again! (Although some nausea still lingers…)

3. My daughter loves her new toothbrush. Mostly she likes to brush her tongue. Thanks Grammi and Poppi!


11 September 2012


I have been sorting pictures for Sweet N’s baby book. I know, I know… she’s hardly a baby anymore! I do a scrapbook for the kids from age 0-2 and I haven’t finished hers yet. I would like to complete it before little one is born in February… but we’ll see about that. I’m still choosing pictures from 12-24 months.

And I came across this one and it made me chuckle…


It was taken last October. We were in Jordan at the time, believing we would get visas to return to Africa any day (which didn’t happen for six more months after that… what a challenging time! Bah!).

We went as a family to the Red Sea for a short time (Aqaba) and at breakfast one morning I snapped this photo. I don’t know what was in her mug… could have been cold coffee! Mike and I both drink coffee with milk and sugar so the kids like it to and we give them sips. Or maybe it was juice. Or water. I don’t know.

But what cracks me up is how much she LOOKS like she needs a cup of coffee. Ha! Reminds me of how I’ve been feeling in the mornings these days… And I love that her pink sippy cup is right next to her ‘coffee cup’…

10 September 2012


A few times recently we have gone in at night to check on our sleeping treasures and found our boy like this:



The boy rolls right out of bed, lands softly on our wisely placed extra foam mattresses (tile floors are brutal for falling out of bed) and just keeps on snoozin’… delirious and oblivious to the world. I think it’s precious. He must have his Daddy’s gift for sleeping! And I particulary like the part like I pick up my sweet sleeping boy (it’s more of heave at this stage, but I like to pretend otherwise) and place him back in his bed just like he is still my wittle itty bitty baby that he once was…


Girlie does quite a bit better at staying her bed…


But she is a bit all over the place. I’ve heard that’s like me when I was a little one.

Sweet things.

09 September 2012

Some People

Some people actually have chocolate morsels in the bag that says so.

Other people, like me, have this:



Good thing it’s remedied easily enough…


Who needs chocolate morsels? Totally overrated. Hand chopped chocolate chunks are better anyway, right?

Ah…. life in the desert.

07 September 2012

A Good Day

I realize that ‘A Good Day’ is a really bad title for a blog post. But whatever. It was a good day! And I’m happy enough with the fact that I had a good day AND that I have the time and am taking the time to blog about it. So ignore the boring title, okay?


Today began the weekend for us. And it’s the first weekend we’ve had in a looooooooong time. No, the calendar in Africa isn’t different, providing us with endless weekdays and no weekends… but our personal life hasn’t really allowed for a break in at least a month. It’s been non-stop.

But today… TODAY was a weekend day. And since I’m a working woman now (still getting used to this, maybe a blog about that to come), the weekend FOR ONCE IN MY PARENTAL LIFE felt different than every other day. Glory Halleluiah!

I vowed to rest. And I did. I took a nap and I’m on page 130 of the novel I started last night. But I was terribly productive too, caring for my home and my family. I nested in my home (haven’t felt like doing that for many months between baby sickness and preschool preparation). I organized. I cooked. We had a leisurely pancake breakfast. We had a living room floor picnic for lunch. I had a special outing with my boy this evening (just shopping, but just the two of us and really fun nonetheless!).

It was a good day.


Isn’t this what every boy dreams of? A barely moving spring horse thing amongst all the trash and dirt and rubble outside ‘the mall’? Term ‘the mall’ used very loosely here…


And a broken slide with a big gap right down the middle?

He was one happy boy. He makes my heart explode.

Today was a good day.

Did I already say that?

I meant it.

02 September 2012

Day One!

Well, we did it. Day one of preschool. And it was a success! I am so pleased with how the day went, I didn’t take a ton of pics, but here are a few…


The official ‘First Day of School’ pic. They two are just precious. For them, all this hard work is worth it!


The kids and their teacher! Ha! And no, they didn’t call me “Miss Suzanne”. They called me “Mom” thank goodness!


I kid you not, school hadn’t been officially started for even 10 minutes when I had to pull out the first aid kid for a bleeding cut on my boy’s knee. He couldn’t tell me how he got it, though, which I thought was funny. Must have been having too much fun, right?


We did a couple of table activities during the day. Glued apple seeds on the letter A after we discovered them inside the apple and later did a “All About Me” worksheet and collage. The kids LOVED being creative with different materials and glue and that was the activity that kept their attention for the longest amount of time. Note to self: Must buy more glitter glue. :) Big hit that stuff, and no glittery mess, so I’m a fan.

That is my assistant teacher, she’s amazing!


After circle time my friend came to teach sports for half an hour. I am so thankful and the kids had fun! They did stretching, balancing, bean bag games and Follow the Leader. They especially loved Follow the Leader and couldn’t wait to play again after lunch.


Snack time on the mat outside. Today I had three students; tomorrow I have four. I don’t despise a small (and all white-skinned) beginning. In fact, I’m thankful. It gives this clueless girl time to learn slowly before more kids and diversity (hopefully!) start rolling in.

Ooh, this pic gives you a peek of the garden… isn’t it gorgeous? Grass is planted… waiting for the tufts to spread.


There was a little dress up involved. Have you ever seen such a thing?! Maybe I should use this photo in my advertising? Ha!


Later after more activities, playing and closing circle (I really like circle time!) it was lunch outside. Cuties.


Then came a little unplanned and unforced rest time with books at the end of the day. Now that was nice.


It really was such a smooth first day. I will change a few small things tomorrow, but overall it went much better than I could have expected.

All Glory to Jesus Name! Because of Him I do this. It’s Him I praise.

01 September 2012

Opening Day Tomorrow!

Tomorrow is the big day! The day we’ve been planning and preparing for for ages! Well, it feels like ages. But it’s actually only a month. And frankly only one month of planning and preparation sounds much scarier to me than having ages of time… but no worries… we pulled it off. We did it!! I am ready.

Most of the effort went into the classroom and the garden. Today I’ll give you a lil’ tour of the classroom. I am rather pleased to announce the almost everything you see was purchased in this country! Since I didn’t know until this summer that I was going to start a preschool, I obviously didn’t have a chance to bring things with us in our luggage (as if there was any space anyway!). A couple friends carried a few small items over and some things were donated, but most everything you see is from here. Which was a challenge, but I think it’s great and it takes the pressure off to import things in the future. I love that I am forced to ‘make it work’ with what is available locally.


This is the largest side of the room. All the playing stations are on this side. Don’t you love all the windows?

And bunting. It wouldn’t be my preschool if it didn’t have bunting, right? Ha! I’m so predictable…


This is the book and music corner.


Cozy, eh? My lil’ bookworm kids were pretty excited about this.


And here is the wee kitchen and dress up area.


The kitchen is actually a locally made tea lady set. (Ladies sit in the street with their little stands and their charcoal fires and sell tea). This one had ‘kid kitchen’ written all over it so I snatched it up. I mean to paint some stove burners on there and maybe ‘install’ a metal bowl for a sink. Someday soon. Someday.

Also, might I mention that locally purchased is not always great. The little dishes were purchased locally. They were made in China, no doubt, and they have stickers of Barbie all over them. Gag me! And two of them already broke! Woops! But you take what you can get when you open a school in a month in Africa, right? Right.


Doctor? Vet? Cowboy? Princess? Anyone have career dreams? We’ve got your gear. (This was not found locally or sewn locally, for the record). An American friend who imported them passed them down to me! :)




…toys and more toys!


Here is our happy circle time rug. I did a lot of laminating of kids songs and teaching tools for Circle Time and that makes me feel happy inside.

One of my best ideas, ifIdosaysomyself, is this thin tack-strip that I (and a friend!) cut and installed along the entire perimeter of the room. I can hang posters, labels, signs, etc with just a thumbtack and not mess with the cement walls (which are a NIGHTMARE!) every time I want something hung up on the wall at preschooler-height. And it gives me tons of flexibility in the room, too, which is great. I am loving it already. Big time.


And when it’s not circle time the space can be used for building with blocks.


And this is the other section of the classroom. This side is more for crafts and activities. Finding those kid table and chairs in this city was about a week’s worth of work alone. The kids better appreciate them! Ha!

Well, that’s it. What do you think? I am more than pleased with it and it feels so cheery and bright. I think it’s a space I can easily spend a lot of time in, which is good… since I’m not only director of the preschool, but the teacher too… at least for now! Lord help me… I have no idea what I’m doing.

Here goes nothin’!