20 July 2018

12 July 2018

Photo of the Day


Somebody REALLY loves his new (used) shoes. They’re just like big brother’s...

04 July 2018

Photo of the Day


Celebrating our country and thinking of the many privileges and freedoms we have. Happy Fourth!

02 July 2018

23 June 2018

Photo of the Day


Every. Single. Day.

Photo of the Day


Saying goodbye to (another) friend who is leaving life on this side of the globe. An excuse to make cinnamon rolls and fill my house with friends is the only ‘sweet’ side to the bittersweet of another goodbye.

18 June 2018

Quote of the Day

“What you know and understand drives what you become and what you do”

-Sally Clarkson

This has been rolling around in my head lately. I suppose it relates to my recent post about feasting on wisdom. It truly matters so much what we feed ourselves! I work hard to filter what I am feeding my heart and my mind. And I work just as hard to try to help my children have a feast of good stories to feed their little minds and hearts on.

It matters. It’s shapes who I am. It’s shaping who they will become.

12 June 2018

Big Boy Helping

Running errands with this little guy can be a lot of fun!

This day he was so eager to empty the basket onto the belt, even though he could barely reach.

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Two year olds are so much fun!

07 June 2018

Guinea Pigs in the House



Babysitting guinea pigs this week. Kids are LOVING it. Except for H, who is apparently very allergic.

05 June 2018

Tart: Picture Perfect



Artist (was) at work.

Slime, 5 Years Later



About 5 years behind the fad (the way I like to live), I reluctantly helped the kids make slime today. It sorta worked. 

Feasting on Wisdom

I feel like I’ve been feasting on wisdom lately. Like, I can’t seem to get enough. I am craving wisdom from women who have gone before me (and I need not say there have been a few mothers in the world before me going through the exact same journey that I am on now.). And due to my feasting, my stomach (aka brain) is exploding. Is this analogy even working? I don’t think so. Oh well, I’m just going to with it because I don’t want to slow down to try to find the perfect terms.

There is no time for ‘perfect’ these days if any of my many thoughts are ever going to come out the end of my fingertips. Where else can they go?

Once in a while a friend or my husband gets a big monologue about all the things I’ve been feasting on.

Sometimes my kids get a monologue… yeah that happens. Like in the car yesterday when we were listening to The Great Showman Soundtrack. Their favorite song is The Other Side. So after we heard it for the hundredth time, I talked on and on about how the Kingdom of God is like that! You’re either in or out. It’s that cut and dry. There are the easy and comfortable ways of the world… the path that most are taking. Or we can say ‘no’ to that and FLIP SIDES (not just scoot a little closer) to the other side… where we have to have faith and risk but we might find unparalleled freedom and joy!

That’s the Kingdom of God. You’re either in or you’re out.

No, I’m no theologian. Please don’t repeat anything I just said.

It’s just what was in my head swirling driving my kids to the store yesterday.

Sooooo, when I’m not lecturing my kids (who are my constant companions) all the rest of the times it’s just me, in my head.

And it seems to me that it’s getting crowded up there.

You see.

My kids finished school over a month ago. School ended early this year because of Ramadan. At the exact same time, I started meeting with a group of Moms. And in that Moms Group we are learning about God’s design for motherhood, and how to be a mother in the same way that God parents us.

Baaaaahahahahahaa

Oh the irony.

Practice what you preach, eh?

Approximately 16 hours a day I have endless opportunities to practice with my 4 little guinea pigs.

Besides the challenge of doing many new things as a family right now, and having four kids at home all day… it’s currently Ramadan, which means places are not open as usual and people are not available as usual.

AKA RECIPE FOR CRAZINESS.

I feel like I’m in a pressure cooker. A mothering-test-of-all-time.

I say that, but I know I still have many many luxuries that others don’t. And we are all healthy. And my husband isn’t in the army and deployed or anything.

But.

Um.

Mothering is HARD.

It’s just pretty much the hardest thing I think I might ever do.

It’s also pretty much the most important thing I think I will ever do.

And you know me. Well, I want to do it WELL.

So I’m working on it. Like, really working. Like reading and praying and studying and processing and asking for forgiveness again and again and again from my children. Whenever I can spare a moment… I am trying to grab a snack of wholesome mothering food. I feel like I can’t make it through the day without having eaten some goodness.  It literally feels like the sustenance that keeps me going these days.

I find that because my level of ‘pouring out’ is possibly higher than it has EVER BEEN, that I tend to do much better if I pay close attention to my mental diet. Know what I mean? I am constantly trying to ‘eat’ something that will help me in my long days of laying down my life. You are what you eat, eh? Putting good stuff in has benefits in the long run.

And it’s working, ever so slowly.

Are my circumstances changing?

Um, nope.

The kids, the laundry, the kitchen, the needs, etc. is all exactly the same.

But what is slowly, slowly changing is what is in my head and my heart.

Because the list is long and this rare blog post is also long, I’ll make a list. I would love for each of these thoughts to be it’s own post. But Mama ain’t got time for that today, so I’m gonna go for what I have time for today. I’m not going for perfect… I’m going for JUST POST ANYTHING SUZANNE BECAUSE BLOGGING BRINGS YOU LIFE AND HELPS YOU PROCESS.

Got it?

Okay, here is my

Wholesome Thoughts I’ve Been Eating List

1. Kids have needs. God designed them that way. So whyyyyyy am I annoyed and surprised when there is ANOTHER need? The kid didn’t do anything wrong to have a need. Whether the kids is 2, 5, 8,  or 10 (my kids ages), it’s okay! Kids were made to need help. Take a deep breath.

2. I was created to have what it takes to meet those needs. That is part of what God put in women when He designed us! To have a bent towards tenderness and care for children. To be able to multi-task.

3. If kids have needs and I have what it takes to meet these needs, then why the *&%$ am I pushing against this design?! Hello sister, I need to embrace it! Don’t we always say that we need to find our identity in Christ and in who He designed us to be in order to live the fullest life?! I am a lot of things BESIDES a mother… (that is not my entire identity)… but this is one of my callings and my role and I WAS BUILT FOR THIS! Not just for the carrying and birthing of babies, but also for the many years of ‘need meeting’ that follows.

4. Dishes get used, food gets eaten, clothes get dirtied, books get left out, screen doors get left open, etc. Why do I expect that to be different? Do I want my family to never use the dishes? Do I wish they didn’t eat food? Do I want them to stop reading and playing and running outside? No, I don’t. So why is my heart so ugly about these things? It’s silly to expect it be any other way.

5. If I want to see _(fill in the blank)_______ attribute/skill/character quality in my children, then I must MODEL IT. I must BE THAT _________ first! This is a big one. Let that one sink in. It has huge implications.

6. If I want my children to know what a living, active every-day, ups and downs relationship with God looks like… then I must find ways to make my relationship with God more outward and visible. Which in turn means more honest and vulnerable. But it’s REAL. That’s what they need.

7. I must lay down my life daily. This has never been more relevant to me than in my every-day in this current season. Give it up, girl. There is literally very little use in trying to grab ahold of my own personal expectations for any given day. Do I have goals and lists and dreams and ambitions? Yessirreee I sure do. But I must first LAY THEM DOWN, cause if I don’t, then they will soon enough be snatched out of my hands by a little person who had a blow-out diaper or wants to play water outside or who needs help sewing or who wants another slice of toast. Lay it down, Suzanne. God will give it back in the right time, whether that means the 27 minutes that the 5 year old listens to a podcast each afternoon, or whether that’s next year. Does no good to hold onto my life with a tight grip. If I want full life? First give it up. It’s God’s amazingly wonderful, upside-down way.

8. What is the spirit in which I am giving of my life? I can meet my family’s need in two ways. One way with the tender and gentle heart like my friend, Jesus. Or with a nasty, bitter heart like my friend, Suzanne. EITHER WAY I MUST MEET THE NEED. So what exactly is the benefit of doing it with an ugly heart? Uhhhhh the benefit is putting guilt on my children? Making them feel like they did something wrong for having a need? (See #1). Obviously, there is no benefit. I don’t even feel better after I’ve ‘expressed my frustration’. But meet the need patiently and hearts are filled and joy multiplied.

9. Jesus was a servant. And so I must be. Doesn’t mean I don’t expect anything from my children and that I do it all like some sort of domestic slave. It means I am striving to serve like my Jesus… and He’s a very hard one to follow. He had every right to demand appreciation from those He served. He was going to DIE FOR THEIR SINS. And yet He gave and gave and gave with a totally pure heart. His motivation? Love. And so I must love. And so I WANT to love. “There is no greater love, that one should lay down his life for his friends.”

10. Parenting is not about control. No one likes a leader who lords their power over those they are leading. And so it is with mothering! Leadership is about serving. (see #9) I can’t reach the hearts of my children by exercising my power of them. Can I train their behavior? Maybe. But can I REACH THEIR HEARTS? Likely not. Learning to let go of control over here. Must. Serve. Like. Jesus.

11. Key ingredient: TIME. If I schedule us up and keep us running around to activities that are meant to enrich my child, yet never have hours of free time at home, then these things that I want to see in our family’s lives don’t have time to be taught, caught, and nurtured. It takes TIME. Lots and lots of time.

12. “In the absence of Biblical conviction, we will go the way of culture” –Sally Clarkson. My virtual-mentor-who-I’ve-never-met-but-has-changed-my-life is right about that. If I’m not intentional, I’ll just lead our home and children the same way as the culture. And I need to think twice before doing that.

Okay yikes.

That was a quite a list.

I’m tempted to go back and edit it all to pieces and question myself and my thoughts and then maybe delete it. I’m out of time though!

People. I am SUCH a work in progress.  If I could apply all these daily, I’d be an incredible Mom. Am I a good Mom? Oh yes I know I am. But do I do all these things every day. NOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

What DO I do every day? I ask my children for forgiveness because I failed. Again.

That’s the only thing I can be counted on for each day… to mess up!

But you know the good thing even in that? That I am now asking them for forgiveness when I mess up. See #6. I am in a real relationship with God and am on my own learning-journey. My kids know that because Mommy started apologizing. It’s at least a first step.

But I see God changing my heart. Jesus is being ever so gentle and patient with me in this learning process.  And I’m ever-so-grateful.

So Mamas, let’s carry on. Let’s keep snacking on wholesome words and feasting on wisdom that keeps us fueled.

Let’s lay down our lives another day. Let’s do it for love.

03 June 2018

In the Swing. Again.


Yeah. We are in this swing a lot. ❤️

Bad Dreams

We’ve had a round of bad dreams over here.

I reached out and asked for help.

AKA “Friends! Pray for us, please!!!”

And dear ones did pray.

And we haven’t had a bad dream since.

So thankful.

One friend shared these beautiful lines of verse and I really liked the picture they painted in my mind…

Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.

-Minnie Louise Haskins


02 June 2018

29 May 2018

22 May 2018

Watercolors: From the Borrowers Afield



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.

Watercolors: First Try



Must. Create.

17 May 2018

Homemade Potato Chips


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

These Smiles



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

Hard Rock



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

Three in a Row


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

01 May 2018

Gray on Gray on Gray


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...
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