22 May 2018

Photo of the Day


Yesterday I bought watercolors. Today I painted this small drawing out of The Borrowers Afield (middle drawing on the page of the book) which the kids and I are so enjoying reading together. Whyyyy have I never tried watercolors before? Creating and art feel so good! Just starting out, but I’m pleased.

Photo of the Day


Must. Create.

17 May 2018

Photo of the Day


She wanted to make potato chips. So she you-tubed it. Now she’s making potato chips and THEY ARE SO GOOD.

10 May 2018

Photo of the Day


These two ADORE each other. As soon as she leaves, B says “I want Doria tani!” (I want more Gloria, in a mix of Arabic and English and Toddler talk). 💕

09 May 2018

He Came to Me

A few weeks ago our family was on a short vacation at the Red Sea (perks of overseas life!). We had a wonderful time. However, going on vacation with four smallish children has it’s downsides. Aside from the unbelievable amount of floaties and hats and sunscreens and diving rings and goggles and flippers, etc that we find ourselves hauling between the Sea and the pool and back again… and aside from the fact that we still have to help some of them to get food at the buffet three meals a day…and aside from the fact that two aren’t swimmers yet and need to be watched with eagle eyes… and aside from the fact that someone can throw their back out throwing the kids in the pool (ahem)… and aside from many other facts that I will now stop listing…

There is the sleep deprivation.

Oh my.

They just get plain tuckered out from so much fun and late bedtimes. I mean, how to you tell your kids ‘no’ when they want to go up on stage and do The Chicken Dance and Soco Soco Bochi Bochi with 50 other kids with a man in a giant penguin outfit every night, even if it’s past their bedtime?! It’s just part of the fun.

Buuuuut by the second or third day sometimes we have a larger than usual amount of attitudes and tempers.

My boy H was struggling with this one day in particular.  From his perspective, nothing was going his way and he felt nobody cared. He lashed out at several of us for silly reasons and it was hard to talk him down.

But.

As we returned to our room at the end of the day, as he felt another burst of anger coming on, he didn’t give over to it that time. Instead he came to me. He nearly RAN to me.

“Mama! I don’t like how I’m throwing so many fits and I don’t even want to, but I don’t know how to stop!”

And I melted into a pile of mush right then and there.

He saw his brokenness. And he knew of his need for help.

And he CAME TO ME.

My heart was full of compassion for him as we sat down on his bed. I told him that getting enough rest is important (cause, well… there is the practical as well as the spiritual!). And then we talked about what went wrong and how to make it right.

We brought to the bedside, in turn, each family member whom H had hurt with his outbursts. H asked each to forgive Him and each quickly offered forgiveness.

And so then, relationships were righted.

Then I led him in a prayer of confession to God. Because he also needed God’s forgiveness. He gladly prayed this prayer and God gave him immediate relief in his spirit when he finished.

We hugged, and I probably cried because my boy is just so precious and I’m so amazed by the little man he’s growing to be and I’m blessed beyond words to call him my own. May God continue to grow in him and all my children the knowledge of their need of God, and in the knowledge of how to make things right with God and man when they mess up.

Because we all mess up. And isn’t how H responded to his temptation to sin EXACTLY how how God wants us to respond also? To run to our father and confess “I’m messing up and I want to stop but I need your help!”

This is what we should all do.

“If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

Because God is just waiting for us to ask Him for help. We can all run to HIM. He, too, will melt into a pile of mush as we come to Him and express our need for His help and accept His tender love. And He will forgive. Always. All we have to do is ask.

It’s a beautiful thing.

04 May 2018

Photo of the Day


Had fun trying this out with just our Little B with us!

03 May 2018

Chips, a Family Tradition

Chips are a family tradition from through the years…

First photo is H many years ago, with his tiny little arm shoved into a big bag of chips. After that is B, doing the same! Because who can resist a bag of potato chips when it’s offered?

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02 May 2018

Photo of the Day


This makes me feel happy. (Playing Wii together and laughing laughing laughing.)

01 May 2018

Photo of the Day


The view on my terrace today. Gray on gray on gray.

Our Reach

A friend mentioned a quote yesterday that I’ve been pondering…

“May your reach extend your grasp.”

Turns out it’s the first part of a quote by Robert Browning. “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”

It’s just been rolling around in my mind, thinking about all the ‘new’ we have going on in our family at the moment. It’s a time to step up, step out in faith, time to trust, time to reach!

24 April 2018

Summer in April

It is about to be summer in April.

And I’m not talking about the weather.

I’m talking about my kids being out of school!! This year, because of the timing of Ramadan, schools are ending early.

And I mean really, really early.

At least for this American.

Having my kids in local private school has helped me become a LOT more flexible. I mean, I didn’t even know that school was about to finish until a couple weeks ago.

And instead of the expected reaction: “What?! No WAY!! They can’t do that. It’s not enough school, it’s way too early. And they didn’t even tell me UNTIL NOW?!” …

My reaction was more like this: “Huh. Okay.”

There it is folks. This it the visible change of a very well-planned, super organized Mama learning to ‘roll with the punches’ with the best of them. I’m so thankful that God has helped me change in that area.

BUT

That’s not why I’m writing this post.

I am indeed writing about a transformation in myself.

But a different one.

You see, about a year ago, I would not have been able to bear even thinking about about one or two days with all four of my children at home without Mike around to help me (whether working or traveling). They overwhelmed me and it was so very challenging for me to have them by myself for  a day or two.

The thought of TWO FULL MONTHS of kids-home-for-the-summer before we even travel to the U.S. for TWO MORE FULL MONTHS of summer would have baaaaaasically put me into a coma.

A coma.

But at least then I wouldn’t have had to take care of them by myself, now would I?

Haha, sorry. Not funny, I know.

I mean I know it’s terrible. I’m their mother, right?! They’re MY kids. I don’t know what it was. All the needs maybe? The unending needs? The lack of time to ‘accomplish’ anything I wanted to? The ‘help’ I got everytime I did try to ‘accomplish’ something? The lack of adult interaction? Pity for myself? The sheer exhaustion? The fact that there are just so many of them?! Ha ha, I don’t know.

Anyway…

Here comes the good part.

I AM ACTUALLY EXCITED for TWO FULL MONTHS of kids-home-for-the-summer before we travel to the U.S. for TWO MORE FULL MONTHS of summer. (Sorry not sorry for the caps.)

Did you see that key word?

Excited.

Excited!

It’s whattchya call a miracle, friends.

God has changed my life and my heart in my mothering in the past year. He’s given me great ideas to shape our days, he’s given us joy and peace in our home that seems remarkable for a busy family of 6. He’s helped me to embrace my role as a servant (not a slave however, mind you). He’s given me help to give a gentle response more than I used to.

He’s done that and so much more in my life.

And it reflects in my home. In my children. In our relationships.

And I couldn’t be more thankful.

So, I’m sitting here as my last 30 minutes of my ‘freedom’ (old thinking) tick away. Not just the last 30 minutes until school starts up in the fall, but the last 30 minutes ever that I’ll ever have with all four of my kids in school at the same time (more on that another day).   I am even still surprised to not find myself panicking. I’m laying a tray with a special snack and drink for them to enjoy as they arrive home. I’m preparing some things that they’ll enjoy in the coming months. I’m tidying the house and crossing a few random to-do things off my list. And I’m taking a moment to kneel by my chair and thank God for my children and the changes He’s done in my life that I can have joy looking ahead towards our months together instead of fear.

 

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Photo of the Day


22 April 2018

Early Diner


Someone decided to help himself to dinner a little early.

21 April 2018

Suz’s Road Trip Tips

I have been meaning to write this post for years.

I mean years.

Also, there is a chance that I already wrote this post and forgot about it and couldn’t find it?

So anyway. You already know that we travel a lot on airplanes (those tips are linked on the left) and that we’ve gotten pretty good at that. Not that it’s easy or fun quite yet (but I have hope for a few years when B is older) but we do it!  Well, we also have been taking LOOOONG (I’m talking 24 hour road trips) since before we had any children and then many times with children. So we’ve learned a lot in that category also.

So here are my top tips, starting with the best one EVER…

1. Snack Boxes!!! 

What do we hate hearing more than “Are we almost there?” in the car? (I have no tip for this, sadly.)

The answer is: “Can I have a snack?” Especially if we heard it approximately 15 seconds ago. And 15 seconds before that. And 15 seconds before that. You get the point…

I have the solution. And it truly works.

It’s a snack box. One for each child.

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The goal here is to make many snacks readily available. But those snacks must be able to be eaten independently or this DOES NOT WORK.

It needs to be a box or bag that they can open alone. And each snack inside needs to be something they can open. If they can’t open the package or peel the orange, then pre-open or peel it yourself and put it in the box pre-opened.

Pack those suckers full of all kinds of things. Although I do try to steer mostly away from sugary things because that just riles ‘em up and that doesn’t really help our cause, now does it?

My older kids get identical things in their boxes to cut down on bickering. If it’s not something they normally like, oh well. They have three choices there… eat it, not eat it, or trade it. But you provided them with sustenance and that’s what matters.

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I also include an empty baggie for trash and a baggie with couple wipes in it for them to clean their hands after anything sticky, cause I’d want to wipe my hands after eating an orange in the car, you know?

Soooo the beauty of this is that your kids now have loads of snacks available. You tell them “Those are your snacks for today. Eat them whenever you want, but there’s no more after that.”

And it works magic, most of the time.

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I have one who will hardly touch the box. She knows it’s there and if she’s hungry she knows she can have it. But because it’s there she doesn’t whine about snacks nor does she feel hungry. I have another who will eat half of it in the first 10 minutes. Rationing is still something she’s learning to grasp, ha!

Give this a try! It has helped our family so much!

2. Hoard the water.

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People. Do you want to stop every thirty minutes for a potty break?

Noooooo you don’t. I don’t either. So I hoard the children’s water bottles up by me. If they ask, I pass it back for a sip and then it comes back to me. Is it slightly annoying to have to hand them around? Yes it is. But it is less annoying than stopping every 30 minutes? Definitely. Dehydration? Pfffffft. We can re-hydrate upon arrival.

3. Avoid the sandwiches.

I know that sandwiches seem like the perfect ‘pack for the car’ meal.

But c’mon. How often does this happen?

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Our car is usually so full that the bread never really made it out without some injuries. It took me a long time to realize that we should just skip the bread.

What do we do instead?

My favorite two things to pack for road trip lunches are:

1. Cold pizza. Because what is easier than that? And it’s not crumby. And it’s really not very greasy when it’s cold either!

2. Chicken Salad with pretzels. My kids like this. Dipping is fun. And pretzels aren’t crumby either. It’s also quite compact.

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Sometimes I’ll pack these divided containers, fill them up as we are driving and dole it out that way.

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It sure made these two happy many years ago!

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4. Braid that long hair.

If you have kiddos with long hair, and ESPECIALLY if you’re driving through the night… braid those locks to avoid this…

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Because this is nightmare to brush out.

Okay, there you go. Happy road tripping!

18 April 2018

Fourth Kid Alert


Sitting on the high counter near candles playing with huge scissors. (With a snotty nose, not pictured). Yep, he's a #fourthchild.

Carrot Pants



17 April 2018

Royal Mess


It looks like I've been a machine in the kitchen all day. But really all I did was bake banana muffins. This mess! What is wrong with me?!

Tired Pup


Asleep in my lap at 11am (normally naps at 1). I hope this explains the 10 time-outs I've had to deal with this morning. Tired little guy. Whew. This might be my chance for a second cup of coffee. He's snoozin' in his crib now...

16 April 2018

That Breeze


The breeze that comes through this window (and all the other windows/doors in my house) as I sit and read this morning is one of the 647,853 reasons I am so blessed by our home.

He's Awake


Wakes up happy. 💙

12 April 2018

A Thing About Her Hair

Lil’ A has a thing about her hair.

As in: she wants it done how she wants it done. A mini-hair-dictator of sorts.

Well, we have been working on contentment with her. Accepting what is offered and being thankful even if it’s not her first choice or even if it’s not her choice at all. It’s hard to decide to start training in this area, because, well… it’s not pretty!

So this morning, when I told her that I was going to leave in the two French braids that I had done the day before, she was NOT happy.

She wanted a PONYTAIL.

She had her heart set on a PONYTAIL.

The mini-dictator proclaimed PONYTAIL!

This Mama stood her ground, in a patient and calm way (thank you God for helping me out there).

So then it was full-on for probably 10 minutes. Screaming and crying and running away. She hid somewhere in the apartment and I had a hunch what she was doing.

I found her under the computer table with her hair in in a wavy mass around her head.

She had taken her braids out.

She had disobeyed.

I told her that she had a consequence for disobeying and she was even unhappier than before to not get a treat from the snack-shack at school today. She refused to put her shoes on, was frantically trying to brush her hair and was screaming at me at the top of her lungs.

Poor thing.

When she finally had shoes on and was ready to walk out the door she looked at me and spoke through her weeping “I’ll never do that again Mommy! I’m sorry, will you forgive me?” She was broken by her sin, I could see it all over her. She regretted what she had done.

And my heart just about soared right on out of that house into the clouds.

My girl repented.

She saw the error of her ways and she knew she didn’t want to go back there again. And she made it right with me.

I’m so thankful.

I’m so thankful to see evidence of God living inside her spunky little 5 year old being. Evidence of a heart that’s learning right from wrong. Evidence of a girl who knows how to make things right in relationship after sin has gotten in the way and messed it up. And I’m thankful that God is gently walking me through this mothering thing and is helping me to (sometimes) remain patient and gentle with my children.

06 April 2018

Still?!


Silly me thought we were past this stage... 😉

05 April 2018

Artwork


A match made in heaven. (Artwork by Lil’ A). The question is... Can you tell who is who?

Helmet Kid


Killin’ time with this cutie at baseball practice.

28 March 2018

Sandstorm


Serious sandstorm. Just like the ol’ days... *cough cough* *sneeze sneeze*

A Boy and His Book



"Where's B?"


“Where’s B? I thought he was with you.” “Nope. I thought he was with you?!” Mike and I said to each other.... We found him, snuggled in with his sister who gets put to bed first. Precious.

25 March 2018

24 March 2018

On the Train


Train rides through the English countryside on beautiful days. Happy.

22 March 2018

Thank you Ben & Jerry's


Ahhhhhh the joys of the western world where non-dairy ice cream can be found. This may be the MOST DELICIOUS kind I’ve ever had.

21 March 2018

Lovely Walk with a Lovely Friend


A long hike through the fresh, crisp, muddy, gorgeous English woods with this very special woman today. What a gift!

19 March 2018

Mama is Travelin'!


It’s that very weird time of year when I say goodbye to my babies and travel by myself. Pray for my husband. 😉💕

17 March 2018

Moved onto the Grown-Up Shelf


When your voracious reader has read all the books and novels from the kids bookshelves at least once (some of them 6 or 7 times)... you start giving him books from the grown-up shelf. He is loving this one and he’s about to finish it in less than three days.

16 March 2018

The Lumberjacks


This little guy. Fresh outta the bath and into my fav jammies on him... the lumberjacks. He has my heart.

Pro Tip


Pro tip: using a scooter makes emptying the dishwasher much better.

15 March 2018

Not Helpful


Uhhhh not helpful. That's my car on the left. People here are great at parking... very impressive at times. But this? This is just frustrating.

08 March 2018

Arts Festival Fun


Took three kids to the @hakawyinternationalfestival for children today and enjoyed the two shows we watched SO much! So much beauty and creativity out there, and so many stories to be told.

07 March 2018

Just Wakin' Up (A Throwback)



One of my all-time favorite photos. A tiny Sweet N trying to wake up one morning in Jordan, many lifetimes ago it feels...
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