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Month: August 2014

Christmas in August

Christmas in August

I realize I’m in the wrong season to be blogging about Christmas but, I recently remembered I never posted about our yearly Christmas ornament competition exchange. And, since Christmas is only a few months away I need to play catch up because lets be honest, I need a way to remember these things.

If you’re new to Passport for Six and have never heard the story I posted on the old blog (Too Many B’s) then let me catch you up to speed with a slimmed down version of the original story. For those of you that already know, skip the next paragraph and get to the good stuff.

Basically, our first Christmas together as husband and wife we didn’t have the money to buy each other Christmas gifts. Britten was in graduate school and I was a first grade teacher raking in the big bucks. We came up with the idea to buy each other a Christmas ornament that, in some way, represented our last year of life together. The tradition stuck and because Britten and I both have a serious competitive streak…it soon turned into a competition. We are now approaching our 12th Christmas as husband and wife and the tradition is still going strong.

Now, let me back up a bit. This past year we spent our first Christmas overseas which brought many changes to what Christmas looks like in our home. Things were running along pretty smoothly until about a week before Christmas I realized our yearly Christmas ornament exchange wouldn’t be possible. The ornament selection here is severely limited…and that’s putting it nicely. I pouted for a little bit and then my brain went into overdrive trying to figure out another option and then BAM! I got it.

I decided we would get online and choose an ornament. We would order the ornaments and have them sent to my parents house for safe keeping. Each of us then secretly printed out a picture of the ornament we had chosen and wrapped it up to go under the tree. It would basically be just like swapping ornaments but without the actual ornament. Genius, right?

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Christmas night we all hopped on a  plane and headed to Dubai for a little vacation so we threw the ornaments in our suitcase and decided to open them when we arrived.

I found this little beauty on Etsy. It’s the country we live in right now with the date we first arrived. Swoon.

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And, of course, Britten decided to go the humorous route. You see, for 15 months after arriving here we didn’t have a car. Which means we were piling all six (and for a short time seven) Taylor’s into a taxi with no air, no heat, no seat belts, no car seats, etc. It was a sanctifying experience to say the least and one we will never forget. To commemorate such  special time in our lives, Britten chose this.

UnknownClassic, huh? I love it!

If I do say so myself, it was a great year for ornaments in the Taylor house. And I’m sure with all that has transpired in our lives over the past year, this Christmas will bring a plethora of interesting ornaments to choose from.

What I Wish I Would’ve Known Before Moving Overseas: Part 4

What I Wish I Would’ve Known Before Moving Overseas: Part 4

Most of you are well aware of the fact that I’m a traditions loving lady. I love traditions like the birthday plate or the Thankful Tree.

Side Note: while we’re on the subject I can’t help but mention this book simply because it greatly shaped the way I view our family traditions. Carry on.

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I love making memories like the salt dough mountain we make every Easter.

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I love the thought of doing things with my boys, like our Jesse Tree that we make each Christmas, and wondering if the day will come when they might do the same thing with their families

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If you had asked me two years ago about our family traditions and what they would look like overseas I would have told you we were going to create new ones and that I was looking forward to it. I would have said that the tradition is more about “being together” and “making memories” than it was about a certain activity, food, craft or even the emotions that come from those different things.

Right now I’m sitting in a coffee shop in mid-August with Arabic music blaring in the background. I can only understand a small percent of the conversations continually swirling around me. And 100+ degree heat is beating down on my arm that is currently covered with sleeves to the wrist. We are through another year of birthdays at our house. The holidays seem ages away. And as different as life is today- it feels normal. For today.

But I’d be painting an inaccurate picture if I told you creating new traditions and letting go of the way “we used to do things” had come easy for us,  me. To be honest with you, on more than one occasion it has completely brought me to my knees and left me crying behind a closed door hoping that one of my boys wouldn’t walk in.

So what happened to that grandiose vision of creating new and more “international” traditions? Well…

– When you’ve ALWAYS had a big, fat ham at Easter and now you can’t find a shred of pork because it’s religiously forbidden… your heart may sink.

-And when the Douglas Fir and it’s deep green pine needles that used to fill your entire home with the smell of Christmas is replaced with a sparkly, plastic branch and a cinnamon candle…. you might get a wee bit misty eyed.

-And when your birthday falls during one of the two most important holidays in this part of the world, which closes everything down and pretty much brings the city to a stand still…you’ll have to put on your big girl face and fight back the tears while telling yourself you’ll just celebrate another time because after all, it doesn’t really matter. Does it?

-And as thankful as you are to celebrate new life with your family and best girlfriends, a baby shower that takes place over Skype is just not the same as one where you get to hug necks and giggle together.

It turns out I treasured those traditions a little more than I had realized.  And that’s ok. Our traditions and memories play a major part in shaping who we are. So, don’t be surprised when you move overseas and you really miss the old way of celebrating special occasions or you crave those little traditions you and those closest to you have formed through the years. When you move to another country with new normals, new traditions and a whole new way of life, it is inevitable that you will develop new traditions, but the old ones will still hold deep meaning.

So my advice to you would be this.

1) I can say with 100% confidence that the Lord will be gracious to provide “new normals” and that you may be surprised to learn that you prefer some of the “new ways” over the way things used to be.IMG_9568

2) But I’d also tell you to make room in your suitcase for a few things that make the unknown a little less unfamiliar. Pack up those family photos and hang them up when you arrive. Make room for that plate you ate your wedding cake from on your 1st anniversary and pull it out every year. Throw the hand towel your cousin made you with the outline of your home state in your carry on bag. That Yankee candle you can only get at Cracker Barrel that smells exactly like “fall,” buy a couple of them. And don’t forget that necklace your mama gave you when you left “home”…you’re gonna wish you had it.

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Paleo Favorites

Paleo Favorites

Let’s be honest….eating Paleo can be difficult. The benefits (weight loss, sustained energy, less inflammation, etc.) far outweigh the foods you have to give up but regardless…it can take some getting used to.

When we first changed our eating habits it was like I was learning to cook all over again. I had no idea what some of the ingredients were much less where to find them. I fumbled around the kitchen and had more than my share of failed dinner attempts. However, after a little while, I learned my way around a Paleo cookbook and felt like I had the hang of it and then of course…we moved…to the Middle East.

Learning to eat Paleo here in the desert has been a new challenge for several different reasons. #1) Things like coconut oil, almond butter, Larabars etc. are impossible or extremely difficult to find. #2) I needed to become familiar with new foods I’d never heard of before like date paste and green almonds. 1305248290843 lamb-fava-beans-green-almonds #3) And of course I can’t forget to mention the whole “washing all of your fruits and veggies” thing.

Thankfully, I’ve got a partner in crime on this crazy adventure. Not only do we WOD (workout of the day: can be a verb or a noun) together, we look the other way when somebody chooses to have Pop-tarts or ice cream for lunch. =o) On a serious note, don’t know what I’d do without this girl.

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One thing I’ve learned is that it helps to have a friend who is trying to figure things out right along with you. Celeste and I are always e-mailing each other new recipes and trying to figure out creative ways to make the paleo diet work here in the desert.

Tonight I’m sharing a few of my recent favorite paleo recipes. Go ahead, give em’ a try.

Roasted Cabbage Slices (Celeste sent me this one)

Rainbow Slaw

Salted Date Caramels (because I have a wicked sweet tooth)

Thai Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Chicken Tortilla-less Soup

What are some of your favorite “go-to” paleo recipes?

Wondering Why Wednesday

Wondering Why Wednesday

Another installment of “Wondering Why Wednesday!”

IMG_7125 IMG_8489 IMG_9862Why are his underwear backwards and/or inside out EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. despite the fact that he has a 50-50 shot of getting it right?

DIY Bubble Recipe and Bubble Wands

DIY Bubble Recipe and Bubble Wands

Did I mention we live in a fourth floor apartment? Oh, and the fact that the Lord has been gracious to bless us with five rowdy boys? I love my wild boys. I love being a boy mom….I don’t however, always know what to do when we are trapped inside with nothing to do for days on end. It’s one thing when I can send them out to wrestle in the back yard, climb a tree or ride bikes until their little legs fall off.  But for today, I totally understand what the phrase, “climbing the walls” really means.IMG_9296 I’ve scoured the internet, tapped the brains of fellow moms , sought wisdom from those that have gone before me and pestered the fool out of my teacher friends in search of ideas to keep my rowdy young’uns occupied. A while back I shared my Play-doh recipe and today I’m going to share the bubble recipe I like.

There are a giz-million different bubble recipes but I needed one that was #1: EASY and #2: did not contain crazy ingredients I can’t find in the desert. That pretty much weeded out most of the recipes. Here is one that you probably have the stuff in your kitchen right now to make and actually works.

-3 c. water

-1 cup dishwashing liquid (I just used whatever generic brand we had at the house that day)

-1/2 cup corn syrup (light or dark)

Mix ingredients and heat in microwave for 30 seconds. Mix again, let cool. The end. Some of the recipes said let the solution sit for 24 hours before using but lets be honest, who has time for that? You can add food coloring to make it fun but my dishwashing liquid was green so that did the trick just fine. Store the bubble solution in something with a lid if your kids spill things as often as mine do. I cut the above recipe in half and we had more than enough. IMG_0562

If you happen to have beads or pipe cleaners stuffed in a drawer somewhere you can twist them up, let your kids string beads on them and call it a craft. Now you have your own bubble wands. We learned the hard way that the smaller circles seem to work better.

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Disclaimer: When the last of the bubbles are blown or the bubble solution gets spilled (whichever may come first) you need to have “bath time” next up on the list. The syrup in the solution can make it kind of sticky which is a great reason to get my whole crew clean.

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Friends and Family Wall

Friends and Family Wall

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time you already know I LOVE photographs. I grew up with a dad that was a photographer and to this day we still call him “click-a-holic” so I guess I get it honestly.

I take pictures of my family daily. My phone is constantly bogged down with all the cute photos and videos I capture throughout the week. I’m not a big fan of the selfie but I do enlist my insanely talented BFF to take our family photos once a year. Ok, sometimes it may have been more than once a year but, only during special occasions like childbirth and pregnancy. Pictures fill my blog. Photos are hung all around our home and my iPhoto is bursting at the seams.

A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with one of our boys about some old friends and much to my surprise, after being gone from Sweet Home Alabama for only 19 months, the boys had forgotten this particular person. After doing a little prying I realized my boys have forgotten several people that were/are very dear to us. I know it’s just the nature of the beast but I wanted to do anything possible to help them remember the people we so dearly love.

Unfortunately, picture frames aren’t the easiest thing to find around these parts and if you do manage to find good ones, they are super expensive. So, I wanted to come up with a way to display lots of pictures without spending a ton of money. I found some burlap ribbon and hung it on the boring white, cold cement beautifully bare walls in our apartment. I then begged friends and family via email to send me photographs I could have printed for next to nothing. I used glue dots to adhere each photo to the ribbon and viola….lots of people we love all in one place. IMG_0578

I love walking down the hall and seeing the faces of so many precious people. It’s entirely possible that I quiz my boys on the names and faces in these photos but for some reason that sounds psycho when I type it…I digress.

Now, don’t you worry your pretty little head. I’ve still got some extra ribbon tucked away in my crafting box that’s just waiting to have your picture on it. So, what are you waiting for…send me a photo!