31 August 2017

All By Herself...

"I can make my breakfast all by myself!" . . . "Can you get me down the cereal?" "Can you move the bowls to the edge of the shelf so I can reach one?" "Can you please hold this bowl while I pour?" (Then poured until the bowl overflowed onto the counter and then the floor) "Can you please put this back?" "Can you hold it with me Mom?" (This time while she poured the milk). I love her independence. πŸ˜πŸ˜‚πŸ‘ŒπŸ»

28 August 2017

God Was Planning Ahead

I was just sorting photos from this summer, and I came upon these.



And I saw God all over it.

See, in June, Lil’ A randomly started thinking it was really fun to drink out of a medicine syringe. And she thought it was fun to squirt water at people out of a medicine syringe. Which I admit, is fun! You should try it sometime. These photos are us having a giggly time squirting each other with water. Then she went back to filling it with water and drinking out  of it.

I realized that God was planning ahead! Let me explain. After her surgery, about the only way she would drink anything was out of a medicine dropper. Even when she didn’t want a Capri-Sun, or a popsicle, ice cream, or to sip out of a fun cup… she would occasionally squirt water down her throat with a medicine dropper.  And I was so thankful! Staying hydrated is so important when recovering from adenoid and tonsil removal, because dehydration can cause the scabs to come off prematurely and then the wounds will bleed . If they bleed then they would need to be cauterized to stop them from bleeding. And to be cauterized, the child would have to go back under full anesthesia for the procedure. And that’s a big deal!

But trying to get a child to drink when they’ve got the worst sore throat of their life can be a challenge.

However, this medicine syringe thing worked for us, and I think God knew that months before when He led her to do it for fun.

I’m thankful for God’s provision, in all things great and small.

Solo Mama, Breakfast in Bed?

How'd I get so lucky?! Solo Mama this week and my girls made me breakfast in bed!

27 August 2017

Sparkle Bouncy Ball

Doesn't everyone snuggle with their sparkle bouncy ball when they go to sleep?

Tried and True Recipe–Sweet and Spicy Chicken

This is a keeper. I don’t know how I found this recipe from Natasha’s Kitchen, but I’m sure glad I did!

I come back to this recipe all the time. It’s my go-to chicken recipe. If I have some of this chicken on hand, I can do so much with it! Enchiladas, top a salad, burrito bowls, have kids dip it in ketchup, throw it in soup, put it with rice, eat a bit here and there straight out of the fridge throughout the day… really the options are endless. I love it so much because it has FLAVOR and it’s versatile! And easy.

It is an oven recipe. I’ve tried it in the crock pot a few times and it's not the same. Bummer.

Okay, so I’m no food photographer and that doesn’t look so appetizing. But just take my word for it, okay?!

Aaaaand I’ll type it out cause my handwriting is embarrassingly horrible.

Natasha’s Sweet and Spicy Chicken
4 chicken breasts (I usually bake mine cut up in small pieces, but you don't have to)
3 T ketchup
2 T vinegar
1 T lemon juice
2 T Worcestershire
1/2 c water
2 T melted butter
3 T brown sugar
1 t dry mustard
1 t salt
1 t chili powder (I use less)

Preheat oven to 450.
Combine all sauce ingredients and simmer for a few minutes.
Pour the sauce over the chicken in a 9 x 13 pan.
Use tongs to coat the chicken in the sauce.
Cover tightly with foil and bake for 10 mins.
Reduce heat to 350 for 1.5 hours more.
When done baking, pull the chicken with forks and let it soak up the juice. Or don’t. Cause I don’t always.


The Painful In-Between

 (Written several days ago)

It’s day 3. We returned to our home in the Middle East a few nights ago. The preparation to travel was probably some of the smoothest and stress-free we’ve ever had! My systems are getting better and I’m getting better at putting just the right amount of things on our calendar so that we aren’t exhausted by the end of our Stateside visit. I’m so thankful to God for His guidance and help.

And then we were in four airports and on three airplanes. That was HARD. The big kids are rock stars. Lil’ A is okay. But Mister B is a nightmare. He is the hardest child we have ever traveled with. It’s basically 30 hours of torture. For him, apparently, and then of course, for us! Just so very deeply hard. Requiring depths of patience that comes only from the Holy Spirit… definitely not within myself.

But in the end you know you’re going to reach your destination and the airplanes will be in the past. It always works that way, thank goodness. And it was true again. Even all of our copious amounts of luggage arrived. Glory!

We crashed at midnight in our beds and it felt oh-so-good. That is one good feeling, lemmetellya.

Day one I managed to unpack everything. I didn't even have that as a goal, but I did it by around 3pm. Mike would like you to know that he took all the zip ties off the totes AND he put away the books. Way to go babe! So I guess I didn’t do it single handedly. Physically, I was fine. Emotionally, I was struggling.
It’s the painful in-between.  Feeling out of place and so out of routine. Feeling hot and dusty and missing family and backyard and wondering ‘Why are we living here?’.

Day two was also an emotional challenge. I ended the day in tears, wondering if this is really what I want to do each year? I live in the Middle East and generally feel quite settled and normal and happy. But interrupting life here each summer has a cost to it. I loose my groove in every area of my life as I leave my place on this side of the globe to go be with dear family and friends on the other side of the globe. Once I’m in the States, I have to find some other sort of groove there. I still reverse culture shock, and I find myself confused at times, knowing that I don’t really have a place living in Ohio or Colorado anymore. Yet I will never be 100% at home in Africa either, because I’m not African. It’s this strange spinning in circles mentally that seems to happen each year.

So basically.


Or at least that’s how it feels. Or maybe it’s true and that’s okay.
Anyway, after a couple weeks in the States, I adjust and we truly do enjoy our time there so much! There are thousands of things to love and appreciate about America. Most of them the precious people that fill our lives. Talk about a heart overflowing!! I am RICH in relationship.

But then.

Then it’s time to go again.

And my kids start to realize they won’t see their besties or their cousins or Grandparents for a year. They realize they’re going back to no yard, no bike, no close friends, a school where they are mini celebrities. They get teary and this Mama can’t handle it and then I wonder…

“Is this really what I want to do each year?”

It feels like we give up our contented groove for some short-term USA confusion. The confusion turns to joy for a while, and then the joy turns to grieving. Every. Single. Time. Mentally spinning circles Each time we feel the loss over again. Yes, maybe it’s getting easier each time, but maybe it’s just waxing and waning for each member of the family according to where they’re at emotionally at that time. All 6 of us go through this to some degree coming and go. OH THE EMOTIONS!

So then we arrive back in the Middle East and the confusion comes back in waves. Why am I living here again? Why do we do this to ourselves? Is this what I want? Am I crazy?
Then I try hard to remember.
Okay yes I remember. Right. I love it here! Most of the time. My life is here, I just need a little time to find my groove. It’s day 3 and my groove is returning already, thank you God! But even those few painful in-between days sent me reeling.

In the midst of the pain and grieving and confusion, I truly did ask myself “Is this really what I want to do each year?” I thoughtfully considered my answer. And I arrived at a confident…


Yes. This IS what I want to do each year. Why? Because I value building our life in this part of the world SO much. I am so thankful to be raising my kids in a foreign country. I like living in a place where I feel foreign, so that I can daily be reminded that this planet is NOT MY HOME. Why should I feel completely at home when I am NOT at home until I find myself in heaven? I’m not willing to give up my life overseas.


I DO want to travel to the States each summer if possible. Why? Because I value our relationships so very much. Our families and friends are treasures in our lives and mean so much to us. And I want my kiddos to feel like Americans. I want them to know their cousins. I want them to have a backyard and bikes for a month and not always be mini celebrities. These things are also important to me. I am not willing to give up re-connecting with family and friends and getting a dose of ‘USA’ each year.

I guess that decides it! We will do both unless God leads otherwise.

So even though the in-between is supremely painful, I continue to pass through it. Good things don’t come free, right? And what we have is pretty darn good in both places. The in-between HURTS. But I’ve decided the cost is worth it. Would someone remind me of that next year when I’m reeling in the confusion please?

In closing, I’d like to give glory to the One who showed me that having relationship and walking in God’s will is worth a painful cost. That’d be my Jesus. He’s my inspiration and (thankfully) my friend that goes everywhere with me and loves me deeply even in the midst of my confusion.

My Big Girlie and Me

Smoothie/coffee date with this girlie while the big boys are traveling and the 2 littles are at preschool. πŸ’—

26 August 2017

Double Sendoff

Midnight sendoff to these two. Mike always said that when H was old enough, he'd get to go on a trip with him. And they're off to Uganda for the week. My boy was teary leaving his Mama, which made it even harder for me than it already was! Love them so.

Dodgeball Date

I bet you wish you could attend the Dodgeball African World Cup. You can find anything in this city... #iliketotrynewthings

25 August 2017

A Common Scene

This has been a common scene since I made this man a father 9.5 years ago. He's a remarkable Daddy and I love him.

24 August 2017

Shelves on the Wall...

Today's work (among a thousand other things, including 6 kids all day!). So satisfying. I rearranged (of course), hung the shelves, and dressed them. Aaaand my feet are killing me and you don't wanna know how badly I need a shower! It's been a good day.

23 August 2017

21 August 2017

High Five

A high five because we never again will have to fly with a one-year-old. (We made it home last night, but the trip was, shall I say... challenging?) πŸ‘ΆπŸΌ✈️πŸ™…πŸΌ

20 August 2017

Layover Shenanigans

"Look Mom". Layover shenanigans. Hardly staying sane.

19 August 2017

Checking In...

8 totes, 2 suitcases, 1 weird shaped cardboard box, 5 backpacks, 2 rollers, 2 car seats, 1 stroller, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Two Tickets Please...

Tiny pros.

Our Trip Begins...

Traveling day! Starting the journey back to Africa with a Jeep, two trikes and a strider. πŸš²πŸš™πŸ›«πŸ›¬πŸ›«πŸ›¬πŸ›«πŸ›¬πŸš•πŸ 

17 August 2017

Summer nights...

Only one more of these wonderful summer nights left on this side of the globe.

16 August 2017

Summertime Joys

We live in a city of 25 million. It’s not known for it’s parks, it’s cleanliness, it’s pure air, or it’s outdoorsy culture. Nope. Definitely not those things.

I can deal with it. Our kids are growing up in quite a different environment than Mikey and I did. QUITE. But we are so okay with that. One reason we are okay with that is that our kids get one big old healthy dose of the outdoors each summer in the U.S.

My parents live in the country, and over the years their property has evolved into, well, basically a kids summertime dream! Each summer we spend a good chunk of time time at their place and it’s so much fun.  So refreshing for all of us. The only thing more enriching than a couple months spent largely outdoors each summer is my kids relationships with their grandparents, which is the even greater gift.

Below is a photo dump of just some of the many activities my kiddos enjoyed this summer!


Bubbles were a big favorite of this guy. Also one of his best words!


Little guy on a big tractor.


The pool is a new addiction and oh-s0-much-fun!



Bikes for all ages.


Cozy coupe!


This gift from several years ago is still going strong and is a big hit. Who didn’t dream of having one of these when they were small?


My sister is great at mixing up sidewalk paint each year.


Bike washing station. Basically anything with water is fun!




Well, this was when the three of us went to have a delicous lunch out together. It wasn’t on my parent’s property, but we did sit outside, so that counts, right?


Screen porch snuggles with Grammi.


Inside now. Relaxing in laundry baskets, of course.


Little boy and a red wagon. Classic.


Trailer rides behind Poppi’s tractor. So much fun! Even I love to get in on this one. But now that I’m looking at it, I’m wondering how many more years we are all going to be able to fit?!


A s’more roast in the backyard is tradition. And one I’m happy to keep!


Look at that amazing sun streaming in…


This girl picked up bike riding in one afternoon!


Grammi did a lot of cooking with the kids. They always love that!


Poppi jumps on the trampoline almost every evening. The kids would NEVER let him forget that that is his deal with them!

All this fun and so much more!

I couldn’t be more thankful. Can’t wait for next year!

12 August 2017

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