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Month: September 2015

Meet Squirt

Meet Squirt

My boys love animals. Not like them, not really care for them…. love them. They pet every stray cat that crosses their path- and that’s one about ever 45 seconds where we live. The baby even squeals with delight and points uncontrollably at the stray cats who have taken up residence outside our building and in our dumpster. They check the W.W.F. endangered species directory on a regular basis.They run an animal rescue operation consisting of stuffed animals…

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Brooks is distraught for the rest of the day when he sees garbage in the ocean because he says it’s not healthy for the fish.

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They add things like “Bull Dog” and “Golden Retriever” to their Christmas list despite the fact that we live in an apartment on the fifth floor…

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(Sidenote: I realize the fact that my boys make “Christmas Lists” is totally pagan and puts a blemish on my efforts to “treasure Christ in Christmas.” Blame their Grandmother.)

Back to my post… They even minimize my efforts to teach them to pray for others, by putting the Amur Leopard (an endangered species) on their prayer board….IMG_1121

I’m not really a pet person and hide behind the excuse that we live in an apartment on the top floor of our building and have no room for pets. This excuse allows me to continue to live a happy, pet free life while staying in the good graces of my pet loving children.

However, sometimes I’m overcome with guilt by the fact that my children have never experienced the misery sheer joy of being pet owners. That is exactly what happened to me recently when a friend offered to buy them a pet turtle. I caved.

So, we are now in the animal owning venture. We have reluctantly happily adopted a turtle. The boys named him– Squirt.

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He’s a Red Eared Slider Turtle and measures a whopping two inches. He lives in a glass aquarium on the nightstand in Breck and Brooks’ bedroom. We are trying to teach those little guys the value of hard work by entrusting to them the responsibility of keeping the tank clean and feeding him daily. So far, so good.

IMG_1056He seems to be a happy little guy- which is good news, considering our last pet committed suicide due to the sheer unhappiness of his life (our fish took his own life by jumping out of his bowl when we weren’t looking…we found him the next day). Considering our track record, I was leery of taking on another living creature. Honestly, that probably explains why we’ve had Squirt for two months and you’re just now hearing about him.

Despite my hesitations, I’m pleased to announce that Squirt is an absolute joy. I even find myself liking the little guy. He’s super easy to care for, swims towards us when we come near his tank and has even learned to eat out of the boy’s hand. What more could a kid ask for? Besides Salmonella.

The boys have decided if they do a good job caring for Squirt then they graduate to the next level of pet ownership and can choose something really exciting like a Lemur. And since there are no exotic pet laws where we live I’m gonna need some help coming up with a good excuse for that one.

Milk Dreams Really Do Come True

Milk Dreams Really Do Come True

Grocery shopping for a family of seven can be a bit tricky. Grocery shopping for a family of seven in a foreign culture, well… that’s just plain difficult. I try not to let it drive me mad. I really do. But, sometimes it just gets the best of me.

Let me invite you into my little world of cross-cultural grocery store challenges. I’ve mentioned it before but tonight I’m on a new soap box.

To start off, we buy a lot of eggs. A lot, as in 90 at a time. Dont believe me? Count ’em.

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It takes a minimum of two grocery carts to get all of my purchases to the vehicle. Just last week two Pakistani men were kind enough to push my two full grocery carts to the car and help load up all the goods.  One of them mustered up enough courage and English to ask, “Shopping for next three months?” Nope, just one my friend. Just one.

To make matters worse and trump the humiliation I feel by being known at the local grocery store as “The Egg Lady” I have an even bigger issue with the milk. Oh, Lawd! The milk.

*Deep breath. Breath in, breathe out. Repeat. Do not cuss.*

The milk situation is enough to make any woman crazy. The milk in our part of the world is sold by the liter. You read that correctly- the LITER! For the love, who buys one liter of milk at a time? I’ll tell you who, these folks around here. There are a lot of things I respect about this new culture, but the size of their milk containers ain’t one of em’.

Just look at this little scrawny milk carton. One measly liter??? My oldest son could finish you off in one sitting. You are a disgrace to your kind.

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Because the milk is sold in such small containers I have to buy a lot at a time. Brace yourself.

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Yep, that’s 16 liters to lug to the car, into our apartment building, onto the elevator, off the elevator, into our apartment and then put away.

Thankfully, the milk here doesn’t have to be refrigerated until after it’s been opened. Please don’t tell me why that is the case, I don’t want to know. When I grow an extra arm or a massive unibrow- you’ll know why. Because it doesn’t have to be refrigerated I can store the containers in the cabinet, under the stairs and in the closet, meaning my fridge isn’t taken over by milk.

If I’m lucky enough to be at a grocery store that sells milk by the case, I have to control myself and only buy two cases at a time. Is that beautiful, or what? 24 liters of milk to drag home. Unfortunately, by the time I get 90 eggs and 24 liters of milk in my shopping cart, I’m out of room and have to leave and finish the rest of the grocery shopping another time.

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However, recently I ran into this big ole hoss. Feast your eyes on this–
IMG_1043Now don’t be going all crazy and think that all of my milk prayers have been answered, or that now I can buy milk by the gallon. Not quite. The new containers are about one liter shy of a gallon. But you won’t hear me complaining, because this is a new day. I can go into the grocery store with my head held high, without both carts in tow… not really, I still need to buy half a cart full of milk for our family….that’s just large family life. But, look at the bright side, at the rate I’m going I’m bound to be promoted from the pathetic ranks of egg lady to the much more prestigious title of “Milk Lady” in no time at all.

Crockpot BBQ Chicken

Crockpot BBQ Chicken

When it’s 116 degrees outside your crockpot gets lots of attention. My affection for that little magical machine grows every time I prepare dinner without heating up the entire house. I think everyone should own a crockpot, it’s that great. Really.

I must confess then when I throw random ingredients in the pot and then come home that evening to dinner I feel like I’m in an episode of the Jetsons. Ingredients in, turn it on and POOF! Dinner. Unknown-1

It could possibly be that we live in a country where pork is prohibited (sad, I know) and haven’t had a good BBQ sandwich in years, it could also be that this makes a really good BBQ chicken sandwich, you decide. I’m good with either option.

Unknown-2I found this recipe online and have made it several times. I then emailed the recipe to friends and my boys ask me regularly to make it for dinner…that means it needed to go here so you could enjoy it as well. Click here to go to the original blog post (which I would recommend because there are so many good recipes) or just follow the direction here.

UnknownIngredients:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (can be frozen)

1 cup BBQ sauce

1/4 cup Italian dressing

1/4 cup brown sugar

Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Season chicken lightly with salt and pepper and place in crockpot. In a separate bowl combine bbq sauce, dressing, brown sugar and Worcestershire. Pour the mixture over the chicken and cook on high for 3-4 hrs.

Serve the chicken whole or shred it with two forks. If you shred it, return it to the crockpot for 10-15 minutes to soak up the sauce.

It can be served in wraps, on salads, over rice or my favorite…as sandwiches.

A New Kind of Storm

A New Kind of Storm

“You can take the girl out of the South but you can’t take the South out of the girl.”

I’m from the good ol’ south- which means I love sweet tea, I often stretch one syllable words into three, I’ll slap a monogram on anything that will sit still long enough… and I know what to do when a storm rolls in.

Learning proper tornado etiquette for an Alabama girl is like a baby learning to walk, sooner or later it just happens. Southern Mamas start sending their kids to the basement with a flashlight, blanket and bicycle helmet before they are good and potty trained. It’s just how we roll.

You’d be hard pressed to find a child in Alabama that hasn’t had to flood the hallway at some point, get down on their knees and put a book over their head. That’s just how we do it and rightfully so considering my home state averages around 23 tornados each year. Yikes!

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So you can imagine how completely unprepared I was for todays weather excitement.

Around 5:30 pm this evening I was leaving the gym when I noticed a crowd of ladies around the door slinging on abayas, chattering frantically and snapping photos with their phones. I continued to walk past them when one lady warned me to be careful going outside.

Little did I know, a little storm had been brewing.

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When I got outside I noticed that it was dark… like 10pm dark… when it should have been daylight.

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As I hurried to the car the wind was whipping my abaya all over the place and I felt like someone was throwing sand in my eyes and mouth. After I hopped in the car I wiped the dirt from my face and asked my hubby what exactly was going on.

Turns out we were having a sandstorm.  And one that some locals have said is the worst they’ve ever seen. Who knew?

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In approximately ten minutes it went from a clear sky to a red, hazy cloud of dirt and dust. We didn’t have any trouble getting home, but running from the car to the apartment without getting dirt in your mouth, eyes, hair and all over your skin was next to impossible.

This picture was on a news website and shows the progression of the sand storm.

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So, although my tornado storm knowledge isn’t likely to do me a bit of good in these parts, at least now I can check “Experience Crazy Middle Eastern Sandstorm” off my bucket list.

Now who is willing to come help me clean this mess up?