Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Burkina Flashback- Getting to Africa

Remember that time I told you we were taking a trip to Africa and we were taking our 2 children under the age of 3 with us?  Yes, I know it was 6 months ago, but somehow I never wrote about it and tonight it's on my mind.  For those who don't want to read the nitty, gritty, cultural details of traveling to a 3rd world country with an 11 month old and an almost 3 year old, I'll quickly answer your burning questions...
1) Was it everything you expected?  Yes and no
2) Did your children travel well?  Did they adapt to a foreign country well?  Yes and no...overall, yes, but they're small children.  They had they're moments...don't we all?
3) Would you do it again?  A hundred times yes!

Want to read the beginning of the nitty, gritty? Continue reading below...
As a single individual, I always traveled very smoothly.  Yes, there was occasionally some lost luggage or a delayed flight, but no big deal.  When I married J, I knew there was a chance that traveling could become rocky...or at least rockier (you should hear the travel horror stories his mom tells!).  And sure enough, after visiting 11 different countries, the first time I EVER had to run through an airport was on my honeymoon.  But that's neither here nor there. 

It started as we were checking in all of our luggage at the Dulles Airport.  It seemed there was some sort of confusion about mine and Doodle's tickets.  Doodle was traveling as a "lap baby" since she was under a year old at the time and our travel agency had marked that we were to have bulkhead seating so we'd have a bassinet.  After a few extra minutes, they cleared up the confusion and we headed through security. I was a little emotional (yes, tears, deep breathing, "this plane is going to crash"...okay, maybe more than a little emotional) as I thought about what we were truly preparing to do, but we made it through security and headed for dinner.  I was adamant that my kids weren't eating junk for dinner.  Not knowing what we'd be eating over the next 24 hours of travel (aside from the snacks and baby food "smoothie" pouches I had in my carry-on), I didn't want them eating burgers and fries before getting on the plane. So we headed further down the terminal for a deli.  Somewhere, I thought our flight left later than it did so I thought as we started heading back to our gate, we had plenty of time.  Yep, you all know where this is going.  Around the same time, J started thinking, "Hmmm...this is an AirBus that seats over 500 people.  They've got to take plenty of time to get that many people loaded and seated on a plane.  Shouldn't they be calling our flight?"  And then as we neared the gate, we heard it..."J..., A..., K..., this is the final call for these passengers."  What?  Wait, aren't we supposed to load early because we're traveling with young children?  We break into a full out run!  J scoops Bug out of the stroller and picks up the stroller to carry as he runs with her.  I'm running with Doodle in the Ergo (can't begin to give that baby carrier enough credit!) on my front and my backpack on my back with Bug's backpack in my arms!  We are the third to last people to walk into the hallway leading to the plane...and this is while we're still in the States...WHERE THEY SPEAK ENGLISH!  We make it on and get "settled," but certainly not as settled as I'd like. 

I'll leave off there for tonight, but let's just say that after that start, my nerves were a little more frayed.  What WAS this trip going to hold?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Painful Transitions and Joy

Oh, my poor abandoned blog!  It's been a 7!  A lot has happened in the half a year that has past including a trip to West Africa with our 11 month old and almost 3 year old, but more about that in my next post.

When my husband and I decided that we were going to take a trip to Burkina Faso with Bugaboo and Doodle, I was pretty naive about the transitions they would have to go through.  I figured it was ONLY a 5 hour time change so they'd breeze right through that.  I didn't really think about the fact that they'd be expected to shake hands for the first time (not something 2 year olds typically do in our culture) or that I should have prepared them for many eyes staring at the very white girl with blonde hair walking down the street.  But probably the biggest thing I left out in preparing them for another culture was the heartache that would come when we left the joy of new friendships behind.  Though we don't feel called to full-time international ministry, I think it's safe to say that my husband and I do feel called to full-time support (prayer, financial, visits) to those in full-time international ministry.  This means taking trips like the one we took to West Africa which also means saying goodbyes...making new friends, loving new friends, and saying goodbye to new friends.  This is hard for anyone, but especially for a 3 year old! 

Bugaboo talks about her African experiences and her friends, L, D, and M, almost daily.  This is wonderful because it allows her to personalize our trip, keep it alive in her own way, and talk about the friends she made.  But it's a double-edged also means she misses L, D, and M a lot.  It means she doesn't understand why they didn't come back to the States with us.  It means she can't wait until she gets to see them in October, but it also means she doesn't understand that October is 4 months away.

Recently, Bugaboo had to say goodbye to a dear friend as he and his family moved overseas.  Again, the pain and the joy of my daughter having friends across the globe and the international opportunities we've been able to give her struck me!  I cried many tears as I told my dear friend goodbye, but a portion of those tears were for my daughter as she said, "Mommy, I don't want J to leave.  I will miss him, Mommy!" 

I am so fortunate that we have been able to give our daughters cross-cultural experiences at such a young age and I hope we continue to be able to do so.  I'm sorry that leaving friends behind is so hard for little ones (and big ones for that matter), but I do love that Bugaboo talks daily about a country that American Airlines claims isn't in existence (lol)!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Burkina Bound...

Wow!  It's been quite a while since a new blog post...approximately 2 months.  I never was very good at this whole blogging thing. And for a while I was in contemplative I make this blog more "serious" in the sense of pouring lots of hard work into it to make it a more frequently read blog, have giveaways, etc or do I just write about life as it happens so I have a record of it for Bugaboo and Doodle and for me?  I'm leaning towards the second.  However, we have a pretty exciting announcement over here.

For a while now, (about 2 years), Jarrod and I have contemplated taking a trip overseas to serve alongside missionaries we know living and serving in Africa.  When this possibility was first discussed we were planning on visiting friends in Kenya.  However, they have now come home and we still felt that we were being led by God to go somewhere.  Then a friend who I met 9 years ago when we served together in Zambia moved with her husband and 3 children to serve in Burkina Faso, West Africa.  In the past year we have also gone through David Platts' (author of Radical) study on the Book of James and really felt we wanted to make an eternal impact on the kingdom.  So I e-mailed Annie to see if they would welcome visitors (they've only been in Burkina for 5 months).  My e-mail was met with a resounding "Yes, we'd LOVE to have you!" And so the process began.  Fast forward 2 months and we have received final approval from Matthew and Annie's sending agency (we are now enrolled with them, as well, as short-termers) and will be buying plane tickets this week to head to Burkina Faso. 

I'm sure you (all 3.2 of you who read this blog) have questions, but to answer the biggest question in your minds- Yes, we're all going...all 4 of us.  Yes we're taking Bugaboo and Doodle who will be alomst 3 and almost 1 at the time of the trip.  Yes, we might be about half crazy, but we feel that we're to go as a family.  Plus Annie's youngest 2 are just a few months older than Bug and Doodle.  So that's our news...exciting, exhilerating and just a tad bit scary...okay, maybe more than a tad.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Foodie Friday- Baked Potato Soup

I love a good, hearty soup on a crisp fall day and this potato soup stands up to my every desire in a fall soup!  It appears frequently in our home from now until March.  We originally got this recipe from a friend of the family, but I've made some adaptations over the last year or so to make it so much better!
Baked Potato Soup

5-6 lg baking potatoes
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup flour
6 cups milk
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
4 green onions chopped
12 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 chicken bouillon cubes
8 oz sour cream

Wash potatoes and bake in 400 oven until done (can cook them in the microwave if that's easier). Cool and cut into 1/2" cubes. Melt butter over low heat; add flour, stirring until smooth. Gradually add mild and cook over medium heat. Stir until mixture is thick and bubbly. Add potato cubes, salt, pepper, onion, bacon, cheese and chicken base. Cook until well heated. Stir in sour cream.

My adaptations:
We usually add about 3/4 of a bottle of beer (or as Jarrod says, 1 bottle of beer minus 3 worries, I leave him the 3 sips after I use what I need) before adding the sour cream.  This gives it a good depth of flavor and it's not as thick. I have found that I really don't measure out the cheese, but I usually use at least 2-3 cups.  I find sharp (or extra sharp) cheddars (white or yellow) fit the flavor profiles the best.  The bite of the extra sharp cheddar pairs nicely with the beer, usually a Yuengling or a Pale Ale.  I usually serve this with a few fresh cut chives, some crumbled bacon, and a dollop of sour cream on top.
One of my favorite qualities of this soup is that it tastes even better when it's reheated.  The only downfall is that the green onions are a little wilty.  Solution?  Don't mix them into the soup, just sprinkle some on top before you serve:)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Eating Humble Pie....

...or the one where Mommy got a speeding ticket...
I debated even writing this post, but I decided it was good for me and that some day Bug and Doodle will laugh about it and I might even chuckle a little myself. 

Today started off as a normal day- story time at one of the local orchards, stop at Wal-Mart for some baby shower decorations, heading to one of the local parks...and then time seemed to stand still.  I was driving one of the roads that I used to drive almost daily when teaching, a road I grew up driving that isn't far from my parents' home.  I'm sure I knew the speed limit was 35, but I wasn't paying a bit of attention to the speed limit.  I was kind of in my own little world, listening to music on the radio, talking to Bug and Doodle about going to the park and the nature center, and couldn't begin to tell you what speed I was driving.  I wasn't driving recklessly, mind you, but apparently I wasn't driving 35 mph either. 

Then it happened.  That moment where you see flashing red and blue lights behind you, you pull over hoping that Mr. State Trooper has a bigger emergency to get to and will fly by you, and then the lights pull over onto the non-existent shoulder right behind you, the Lead-Footed Mama who wasn't going 35 mph in a 35 mph zone.  You stop the car, pull out your license and registration, and unbuckle your seat belt because you've parked your car.  Then you realize you've unbuckled your seatbelt, you don't want to get an additional fine for driving without it on, and quickly rebuckle before Mr. State Trooper appears at your window.  Yep, that pretty much sums up 10:45-10:52 this morning.  Bug certainly didn't get what was going on and I'm sure had many questions running through her head that fortunately she didn't verbalize.  I already wanted to sink into the floor boards because not only was I about to get a ticket (and a whopping fine), but it had happened with my kids in the car (yes, there were tears).  Then the part that caused me to eat a BIG slice of pie (humble pie that is)..."Mommy, I sorry," chimed Bug from the backseat.  All of a sudden it clicked in my mind that Bug thought it was her fault that we had to sit still on the side of the road and wait for Mr. State Trooper to return to Mama's car.  "Bug, this isn't your fault.  This is Mommy's fault.  Mommy was disobedient and broke a rule."  Wow, that's hard to swallow, but hopefully we both learned a lesson. 

 Next time it's time for pie, I'd prefer pumpkin instead of humble...or could you at least add a nice big scoop of ice cream on top of my  humble pie?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Tribute to the Pink Ribbon

Pink can find them just about anywhere you look for them during the month of October from jewelry to bagels at Panera, from clothing to purses.  And while I think the pink ribbon is sometimes over-commercialized, Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the Pink Ribbon are very close to my heart.

You see, when I was 6 years old, I lost my grandmother to breast cancer.  She was my dad's mom and one of my best friends.  I remember dancing in her living room to the Lawrence Welk show, having animal crackers and apple juice while sitting on a special wicker chair, and saying "Goodnight, John Boy" as I watched The Waltons with her.  She was a very special, godly woman who I was blessed to have known for 6 short years. Every day I wish that she could meet my husband and cuddle Bug and Doodle because I know she would love them just as much as I do!

Because there is a history of breast cancer in my family, I'm always very aware of new lumps and bumps (even if I don't perform self checks as often as I should).  So when I found a new lump about a month before my wedding, saying I freaked out a little is probably an understatement.  It was my second year of teaching and I remember sitting in my portable classroom and calling my doctor's office immediately to let them know I'd found a lump and wanted an immediate appointment.  I remember being so frustrated that the receptionist wasn't nearly as alarmed by this as I was and calmly said, "So when would you like to come in for an appointment?"  An appointment was made for later in the week and though my doctor was fairly certain everything was fine, she sent me to an excellent specialist at GBMC, one of Baltimore's finest medical facilities.  Due to my age, they decided to perform an ultrasound instead of a mammogram.  I guess at 24, my breasts were considered "too dense" to clearly show them what they needed to see.  Jarrod took off work to go with me and I remember being so worried that he wouldn't want to marry  me if it turned out to be breast cancer (remember, our wedding was only 4 weeks away).  All of the "what ifs" ran through my mind.  The tech performed the ultrasound and then sent me over to the specialist.  I was so glad I had come to him because he decided the tech hadn't done a good enough job and he redid the ultrasound. 

Thankfully, in my case it turned out just to be a bump, nothing significant, no cancer, not even a benign cyst that they thought should be removed.  I know not everyone's cases turns out like this.  I know millions of women who put up a brave fight every day and I am among millions who hope a cure will be found by the time my daughters are reaching maturity.  I know I am one of the blessed and fortunate ones, but I am also that much more aware of the need for regular self-exams, etc. So in the month of October, I am more likely to buy  cherry/white chocolate "pink ribbon" bagels at Panera or support the Susan G. Komen foundation in loving memory of my grandmother and in honor of all of those women bravely fighting for their lives.  And when you see a pink ribbon this month, remember all of the wives, mothers, daughters that have lost their fight...and pray that your wife, mother, or daughter won't have to fight that same fight.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Loving the Little Years

 A few months ago a friend recommended that I read Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic (I highly recommend can order it here).  The basic premise of the book is that while the years with  young children in the house are sure to bring their difficulties, challenges, and days when you just want to scream (or simply go to the bathroom by yourself), the years are short.  As a mother to five children under kindergarten age, including a set of twins, (you can read her contributions over at Femina Girls Blog), I figured she must have some words of wisdom for little old me- mom of only 2.

As I read the book, I was continually struck with the same theme over and over again.  Then, when reading another friend's blog, she also mentioned the same thing- while the days can be very, very long, the years pass quickly and you wonder where they've gone.  You know the days I'm talking about- the days when the baby was up several times in the middle of the night teething and as soon as you fall back asleep, the toddler wakes up and is raring and ready to go for the day!  The days when the baby is attached to you and can't be put down without screaming in protest and your toddler seems to have un potty trained themselves.  The days when your husband comes home and wonders what you've done all day (but hopefully never asks!) and looking at your house, you wonder the same thing ,but are sure you've done something!  But even taking all those days into consideration, the years are short.  I look at Bug and Doodle and wonder where the time has gone!  Wasn't it just yesterday that Bug was a baby, resisting nap time, taking her first steps, saying her first words?  Wasn't it just yesterday that I stared into Doodle's eyes for the first time, amazed that the Lord had blessed us with another little girl?

Yes, the days by themselves can be so very long, but in the big picture, the years go by quickly!

P.S. This is just as much a reminder post to myself as it is to anyone else.