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Month: May 2013

Curriculum Choices

Curriculum Choices

Although I’ve been greatly pleased with the curriculum we have used for the past couple of years we are changing things up a bit for next school year. Because we were moving overseas and shipping would be a nightmare we needed to figure out all of our curriculum needs eight months before we would actually be using the curriculum. For my homeschool peeps that know what a challenge curriculum selection can be…you feel my pain. We were in the middle of the school year using one set of curriculum and now I needed to think through curriculum selection for the next school year for two children because Brody would be starting kindergarten in the fall. In the past I’ve tried to finish up the school year before I began trying to wrap my mind around what the next year would look like, that wouldn’t be the case this time.

I sought the advice of those who had gone before me and decided an all in one curriculum would be much easier given all of the other changes that were right around the corner.

In the fall this little man will start kindergarten.

IMG_8043I chose the Go Phonics curriculum for him along with Saxon Math One.

Braeden will begin third grade in the fall using Saxon Math Three, First Language Lessons Level 3, and My Father’s World  for everything else. Now, can we just all pause for a moment of silence because I’ll have a third grader and be schooling two children for the first time since my homeschool career began.

IMG_8271For our Bible time we will be using God’s Promises and the two older boys will begin Arabic lessons as well.

Needless to say I’m super excited about our new curriculum but not nearly as excited as I am about my new co-teacher that arrives in two weeks!!!!

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Space Bags

Space Bags

As our family began the  process of moving overseas I searched endlessly for advice on how to pack and travel with small children. I knew that I could get to the end of the plane ride and have lost my sanity somewhere along the way so I needed to get insight from those who had gone before me. I quickly learned there just isn’t much advice out there. Either no one has taken the time to write about their experiences or maybe there just are’t that many people who’ve had the crazy idea to uproot their family of 6 and plop them down on another continent. Either way, I wasn’t able to find a lot of information on the subject.  So, I vowed to blog about the few tricks of the trade I learned along the way.

Trick #1… Ziploc Space Bags.

Moving a family of six overseas takes a lot of planning, thinking, strategizing and a whole heck of a lot of space.  No matter how much we dwindled our belongings down it seemed like we always had more to get into the bag than would fit. We stumbled upon Ziploc Space Bags and thought it would be worth a shot. I can’t tell you how wonderful these things are!

Here is an example of how much stuff you can fit into one of these bags. We put four full sized blankets and four adult pillows with pillowcases into one of the  extra large sized bags.

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After you use all of your strength to shove the contents inside the bag, you hook up your household vacuum to the valve and suck as much of the air out as possible. It helps if you have someone sit on the bag while you’re removing the air. A couple of strapping young men like the ones pictured below would be your best bet but you’ll have to look elsewhere because these two are already taken.

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The finished product looks like this.

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Unfortunately, the space bag won’t make your luggage any lighter but it will save you a whole bunch of space in your suitcase.

Out With the Old in With the New

Out With the Old in With the New

As most of you know, my old blog exists no more. I’m sure it is archived somewhere in the cyber world, but we officially hit “delete” a few months back. The skinny version is that it was best for our family to start from scratch as we chronicled our Nomadic Adventure. Hitting that ever-s0 permanent “delete” button and seeing the hundreds of post that were once contained on the Too Many B’s blog was a painful task. Knowing how much was chronicled on that little blog made me want to find a way to keep those memories and stories alive in our home for our children to read in years to come.

For weeks my husband and I searched almost every blog to book company known to man only to find that it was going to cost us around $500 to have every single post from the last 3+ years printed in book form. Umm…no, thanks. Determined not to give up hope, we continued to search for other alternatives. We came across a company called Blog2Print that would put all the contents of my blog into a PDF file for the super low cost of $7.95. Then, my amazing husband and kind hearted brother in law worked together to have the book printed and bound at a local printing company.

The week before we hopped on an airplane with a one way ticket my sweet husband presented me with this. It is a 400+ page book containing all of my many ramblings and funny stories that we lived out the past several years.

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It contains a complete collection of every random thought that made it from my head to the old blog. The first post was dated October of 2009 and the last one was January of 2013. That’s a whole slew of memories! Reading back over the last few years of our lives brought tears of joy to this Mama’s heart.

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As I sit here in a distant country in nearly 100 degree heat at 10 a.m. with the low hum of  a floor fan buzzing gently from the kitchen window I can’t help but wonder what memories will be recorded in Passport For Six. How will we see God at work in our family? What will our family look like in the years ahead? Where will we be and how will our lives have changed? I’m not really sure what the answers to any of those questions will be, but I will continue to faithfully record each of them as they come about so that one day when my boys are all grown up they can be reminded of our crazy adventure and the faithfulness of our Heavenly Father every step of the way.

And for those of you who like to keep up with the bumps, bruises and an occasional train wreck along the way, I’ll continue to open wide the blinds of our life and let you peek inside.

Home Sweet Home (Pt.2)

Home Sweet Home (Pt.2)

Earlier this month I posted some pics of our new home and hood.  Today I’m going to reveal the inside as it was when we arrived.

But, before I do, I have a little phrase I need to share with you that goes like this, “We’re in the Middle East.” I’m sure you already knew that, but it’s a phrase we use around our here when things are not the way we had anticipated or things are really different than what we are used to.

For example, yesterday I was hosting 9 adults and 8 children in our new home for dinner. Around 12:30 that afternoon I headed to the grocery store to pick up what I needed to cook. When I arrived everything was closed. The mall was closed. The grocery store was closed. The pharmacy was closed. Everything, literally. On the ride home the taxi driver told me that Friday is the holy day here in the Middle East and Arabs go to the mosque to pray. Therefore, everything was closed until 1:30. Sounds a lot like Sunday in the states, huh? When I walked back in the apartment with nothing in my hand I received a blank stare from my husband to which I replied, “We’re in the Middle East.”

When I can’t get the tops of my muffins to cook, only the bottom… We’re in the Middle East.

When all four boys climb in the back of a taxi with no carseats or seat belts… We’re in the Middle East.

When the grocery bagger at the local store wants to carry my son out to the cab because he loves his blonde hair… We’re in the Middle East.

And…when you walk into your new home only to find it a bit different that what you are accustomed to… We’re in the Middle East.

It goes without saying that we are incredibly grateful to have a home that was waiting on us upon arrival. But at the same time my girly/homeaker side is anxious to get some curtains and rugs in an effort to make it feel more like home. So, today I’m posting the “this is how it was when we arrived” pics and as we make changes to the various rooms maybe I’ll find the time to post those as well.

Home sweet home…

When you walk in our front door you are in a long hallway…

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To the left is a guest bathroom…

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 …and the next door to the left is the salon…AKA living room.

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If you continue down the long hall you will walk straight into our dining room. And in case you were wondering what those wires are sticking out of the wall, they are in the event you want to add heating and air to your home. You’ll see them in a few of the other rooms as well. IMG_8777

The dining room opens up to my favorite room in the house and the one I spend the most time in, the kitchen.

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Continue through the dining room/kitchen area and you’ll find yourself in another hallway with three bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.

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Here is the master bedroom and the master bath.

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IMG_8781Yes, that’s a bidet but we can talk about that another day.

Breck/Braeden are currently sharing a room and Brody/Brooks share a room. I only took one photo because the rooms pretty much look the same. IMG_8772

And last, our balcony which just so happens to have a stunning view of the city…especially at night.IMG_8786

As you can see we’ve got plenty of room so who wants to come visit?????

And Then There Were Two

And Then There Were Two

Last week I was having coffee with a sweet neighbor when she told me she had a gift for my boys. My Arabic is pretty lame at this point but I could figure out enough to know that she needed a box for the gift to live in. In my head I was thinking, “Live in?!?!? Is she about to give the boys something that is ALIVE???? Nooooooo!!!”

If you’ve known us for any length of time you know we aren’t animal folks. We’ve had a few fish here and there. We even experienced life as dog owners for approximately 2 months, which was 2 months too long. We just don’t do animals, not until now.

I walked downstairs with my neighbor and the three older boys and was joyfully  presented a box of baby chicks in a multitude of rainbow colors. Thoughts were swirling through my head as I tried to figure out a polite way to decline. All I can remember from this point forward is my neighbor mumbling something in Arabic while my boys smiled, laughed and called these florescent puff balls pets.

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Questions that were swirling through my mind….

#1. How in the world did these birds get psychedelic feathers?

#2. How do you say, “No thank you!” in Arabic?

#3. Can she see the look of horror/disgust/unbelief on my face?

#4. Am I really going home with these tonight?

As I was pondering these questions, my neighbor told me the chicks would only live 3 or 4 days and how to care for them. I talked her into giving us three instead of all nine and before I fully understood what had happened we were walking back home with Pinky, Velvet Elvis and Tweety Bird.

Due to the fact that the directions she gave were pretty vague and that my boys were devastated at the thought of dead chickens, I did what any good mother would do and scoured the internet for information on raising baby chicks.

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It turns out May 5th was Orthodox Easter and my sweet friend gave these to us in honor of the holiday thinking we were Orthodox. Because her gesture was so incredibly thoughtful and because my boys were beside themselves to have their own personal chickens I vowed to keep these disgusting animals our new pets alive and well.

Despite my tedious efforts to care for these little chickadees we came home last night to find Velvet Elvis (the purple one) belly up. Britten and I were able to distract the boys and get them in bed without anyone knowing one of the birds had flatlined. This morning the younger boys informed us that Velvet Elvis had gotten out of his box and was lost, so who are we to tell them any different? One down, two to go.

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Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

Our housing situation seems to be of utmost interest, so today I’m sharing a few pictures of our new home and hood. We were incredibly fortunate to arrive and be driven directly to our furnished apartment. Yep, it was that easy. A lady from a company that was contracted out picked our home, filled it with furniture and stocked it with the basics necessities (drinking water, toilet paper, sandwich supplies, etc.).

Now, I realize the idea of someone else picking the neighborhood you live in, the place you call home and the things that will go inside doesn’t sound the least bit appealing to most of you. But, when your family of six has lived out of suitcases for over five months you’d be amazed how excited you get over the simple act of hanging clothes on a coat hanger and putting them in a closet. It’s the little things, people.  It really is.

Let me be the first to welcome you to OUR new home. Our apartment is on the back side with a beautiful view of the city.

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Our home (which is difficult at times to distinguish from the 10,000+ other sandstone colored buildings) is situated nicely on top of a little long and very steep hill, but like I said in the water day postit’s a great workout so we really don’t mind, most days.  Here’s a photo of our new neighborhood.

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At the bottom of our hill, just a short walk away, is a tiny strip mall. The strip mall has a dry cleaner, dukan (think small town grocery store with the basic necessities), falafel shop, toy store, pharmacy, produce stand, hair salon and an auto mechanic.

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And what more could a girl really ask for?