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Month: January 2016

Prayer Jar

Prayer Jar

“Lord, help me have a good day at school.”

“God help us to have fun today at soccer.”

“Help us obey our parents today and be nice to our brothers.”

Me, me, me. Us, us, us. Sound familiar?

Now don’t get me wrong, I think it’s biblical to pray for ourselves and the things going on during our day. There’s nothing wrong with praying for yourself, your needs, your children, your spouse or your problems.

But, if we aren’t intentional, our prayers can become extremely self centered and that is exactly what I noticed happening in the lives of our boys. Whenever we prayed before a meal, during family worship or at small group they were praying a whole lot for themselves and very little for others.

In an effort to help them think beyond their own needs we worked together to make a prayer jar.

I used tissue paper and Mod Podge to cover the lid of an old jelly jar. It would be beneficial for me to stop now and discuss my mild obsession with saving glass jars and repurposing them after all, recognition is the first step to healing. I digress.

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Next, I sent out an email and several Voxer messages asking friends and family how we could best pray for them.

Sidetone: if you don’t have the Voxer app, download it now. It’s amazing for keeping in touch with people who are on the other side of the world. Hint, hint.

I typed all of those requests into an excel spreadsheet, because I’m nerdy like that, printed them out and cut them apart to go in the jar.

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Now, before breakfast and lunch, one of the boys pulls a slip of paper from the jar and we pray for that specific thing when we say the blessing before our meal.
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I don’t remember to do it every time but I try to be intentional to vox/text/email the person that we have prayed for just so they know we love them and are praying for them that day.

Of course, I spent a few minutes hot gluing twine and a scripture reference to the front of the jar but when you’re the only pink in a house of blue, adding a little frill to your life is a necessity. I’m confident the prayers would be just as effective with any type of container or old jar. =o)

I recognize I have a little more time to spend on breakfast and lunch because our boys are currently homeschooled. I know there are lots of wonderful mom’s flying out the door at break-neck speed trying to get kids to school by 8 a.m. (fist bump to all the women who manage to get their kids dressed, fed and out the door before 9. I have mad respect for you and still aren’t quite sure how you do it. Rock on ladies, rock on!)

If you don’t have that kind of extra time in the morning, the prayer jar could be used at dinner, family worship, bedtime,on the way to school, the ride home from daycare or any other time you have a few free minutes to pray with your kids.

I’d love to add your names and your specific needs to our prayer jar. So, feel free to comment and let me know how our family can be praying for yours.

The Year My Kids Thought They Stayed Up Until Midnight

The Year My Kids Thought They Stayed Up Until Midnight

My boys have asked for several years to stay up until midnight on New Years Eve. The problem being, I don’t usually stay up that late so I immediately shoot the idea down. Not only am I getting old, I’ve become boring.

This year they started asking again and for some strange reason I consented to the ludicrous request. Of course, if I was going to be putting in overtime at the office, we needed something fun to do, a party if you will.

I blew up seven balloons and wrote the hour on each one. Inside each balloon was a strip of paper telling the boys what we would be doing that hour.

IMG_6499Every hour on the hour the boys took turns popping the balloon to see what the next activity would be.IMG_1475

At 6:00 we ate dinner. If you’ve been reading the blog for longer that 6.2 seconds you know the dinner was themed. Star shaped sandwiches, fire cracker fruit kababs and 2016 sugar cookies. IMG_1471

At 7:00 we played glow in the dark ring toss.

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At 8:00 each child filled out this interview sheet. It was a lot of fun to see which things from our year stuck in their little minds. images

At 9:00 we created a time capsule that included the interview sheets, a paper cutout of each child’s hand and a length of ribbon to show exactly how tall each child was at the close of 2015. Now if I can only keep track of the time capsule until the end of 2016. Now that I think about it, maybe this wasn’t the best idea. IMG_1485

At 10:00 we played New Year’s Eve bingo & Pictionary. IMG_1493IMG_1489

At 11:00 we watched A Very Merry Pooh Year.

UnknownAnd at 12:00 we watched the fireworks show in Dubai and rang in the new year with fancy glasses and sparkling cider.

IMG_1494Or at least that is how my boys thought the night went down. The truth is, I rang in the new year alone with my Bae on the couch after the boys were fast asleep.

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Call it dishonesty or call it brilliant, you choose. You see, every hour I pushed the clock hands ahead 10-15 minutes so the night went by a little faster than planned. I could only back it up a few minutes each hour after all, my oldest will be 11 next month and he’s on to my shenanigans. Either way, the boys had a wonderful new year and bragged to their friends for two days about how they got to stay up until midnight and I still managed to toast in 2016 with a kiss from my love. I call that a win.

My Favorite Things: Homeschool Edition

My Favorite Things: Homeschool Edition

Trying to get our homeschool curriculum from the states into our last country of residence was a logistical nightmare bit of a challenge. Getting our homeschool curriculum into our current country is almost enough to make me put the kids on the neighborhood bus headed to the local madrasa. (Arabic for school) Ok, not really, I write for effect.

I’ve had to start thinking outside the box when it comes to curriculum ideas and pester my teacher friend Candice to death in search of things to help “enhance” our educational experience. Fortunately, there is a plethora of options if you are willing to do the research and sort through the good, the bad and the down right stupid. Don’t tell my boys I used that word, m-kay?

But what’s even better than sorting through the 89,763 options? Having someone do it for you. So, here is a little gift for you. These are a few of my favorite homeschool helps. I use the word homeschool because that’s where I am today but these are also great for any parent wanting to enhance what your child is focusing on at school or pre-k.

Storyline Online

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My mother in law loves to read to my boys when we are in the states and as a result my boys have a long list of books they want her to read. Unfortunately, the distance makes reading in your grandmother’s lap a challenge. The Storyline Online Website allows my kids to sit and watch some of their favorite stories being read to them by famous actors and actresses. It pales in comparison to a grandparent but we’ll take what we can get.

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As evidenced in a recent blog post, I’m still figuring out what to do with the baby escape artist while the other boys are doing school. In the meantime I have used ABCya! often to aid in reinforcing skills we are learning in our daily curriculum and to keep the younger boys focused while I am working with the older ones on the more intense subjects.

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I don’t know many 80’s kids that can resist the urge to jump in and sing along when they hear, “Butterfly in the sky….I can go twice as high.”

That same wonderful information we learned watching Reading Rainbow has not only been added to Netflix, it’s been developed into a website for children and families. The website does charge a fee of $9.99 for one month, $29.99 for six months or $49.99 for a year subscription but I think it’s worth it. I’ve paid for other websites in the past and regretted that decision but this one did not disappoint. We use it often for video field trips, online library or a quick story-time break from school.

Some of these may be old news that has just made it around to me but I hope you can find something in here that is useful. I’d love to hear from you. What are the homeschool helps you use the most or the things you’ve found for your school kids to help make the journey a little easier?

Wondering Why Wednesday

Wondering Why Wednesday

Another installment of “Wondering Why Wednesday!”

IMG_1170Why is the toilet brush floating in the toilet?

Oh, who cares, at least whoever left it there managed to get the toilet clean in the process.

Behind the Scenes: The Jet Setting Life

Behind the Scenes: The Jet Setting Life

If you spend anytime on social media you know how easy it can be to get an inaccurate view of someone’s true reality or even begin to want a life (or aspects of a life) that aren’t yours.

I must admit, I’ve seen that nasty envy manifest itself in my own life from time to time. Just as quickly as someone can change their profile picture to showcase a recent Disney trip complete with matching monogrammed Mickey shirts; or post a pic of their new and improved designer kitchen I can start to envy or want something that isn’t the Lord’s plan for me at the moment. The problem is, a profile picture is never the full story behind someone’s life. It’s just a picture and we all know you can’t see all the details in a picture.

As an illustration, when you see a picture of our romantic date night at the base of the world’s tallest building….

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… you might think, “Man, our last date night was to Outback Steakhouse- boring.”

Or if you see our crew having dinner on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea….

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…you may think, “All we ever do is go to Gulf Shores- lame.”

Or when you scroll through your feed and see our family posed merrily at the base of an enormous rock where the movie Martian was filmed…

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…okay, that’s just cool. Regardless.

Back to my point… sure, it’s easy to think that we are jet setting around the world with our full brood of boys trying new things, making memories and getting our adventure tanks filled to the brim. And, while some of those things may be true, there are aspects of this life that are down right unenvious, but those things don’t usually make the Instagram feed.

So- in an effort to “keep things real”, tonight I’m going to pull back the curtains and let you peek inside the life of a jet setting family. Prepare yourself…this won’t be pretty. And I hope you can have a good belly laugh, even if it is at our expense.

When you see this photo you may think, “Oh look, there they go again on an exciting new adventure!”

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But when you spend as much time as we do on airplanes, you learn all kinds of new information. Like, why they put those little paper bags in the back of every chair.

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**Side Note: Thankfully the flight attendants on this side of the world are pretty laid back. So when your kid is throwing up on the plane and people are bolting away from you faster than the plane is flying they will have mercy on you and let your baby sprawl out on the floor for the duration of the flight.

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For this jet setting fam- we take matters into our own hands and gaze intently out the window in an effort to avoid the realization that everyone on the plane is staring at us. Hold your head high my jet setting friends, we got this.

And please don’t get me started on traveling with a baby/toddler. Keeping a baby from having a major meltdown on a two hour flight is noteworthy. However, when you are dealing with 16 and 17 hour flights and 12 hour airport layovers the goal is simply to make it to your destination without screaming at anyone alive.

**Side Note: Fist bump to my mama friends that bring fun little activities, pack countless organic snacks and diligently wipe every surface of the airplane with Clorox wipes upon entering. I applaud you. However, when it takes this much luggage to get from point A to point B, there is no room for fluff.

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Last, but not least– It’s likely that at some point your diaper wearing baby will have an absolute blow out. I’m talking poo crawling up thee back, pouring out the sides and setting off a lingering stink bomb on the back 20 rows of the plane. When this happens, you must completely ignore the fact that your own outfit is covered in poo and proceed to drag your baby to the 3 x 3 cell they call a “lavatory”.

While you are attempting to wash him in a sink the size of a volleyball it’s inevitable that he will squirm around and kick his feet until he calls for the flight attendant. IMG_5715

(of course, I took the time to snap a few shots with my iPhone. Cant let these things just be a memory.)

I wish I was kidding but if you notice the illuminated sign in the lower left portion of the photograph, you will see that I’m not. There’s nothing as humiliating as washing poo from your naked baby’s bum while the flight attendant beats on the door repeatedly asking, “Are you ok? Are you ok?”

As much as I wanted to scream, “NO! It’s not okay!! I have poo on my clothes and a naked baby in the sink.” I managed to squeak out a, “Yes Ma’am, everything is under control. Thank you.”

At this point you want to make sure that you have packed an extra outfit. The soiled outfit the child came on the plane wearing might as well be flushed down the toilet. A mere attempt to step out of the lavatory with that mess and you will get some “feedback” from your fellow passengers. So, reach down in your diaper bag and pull out the other… WHAT?!?!? NO OUTFIT?!?

 In case you didn’t bring an extra outfit (like yours truly) you will probably sink your head in defeat and embrace the reality that the really bad day just took a harsh turn for the worse and your baby will be making the rest of the trip in a diaper. #peopleinwalmart

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So the next time you see us snorkeling in the turquoise waters of the Red Sea and wish you could join us on that exotic vacation….just remind yourself that you probably don’t even want to know the rest of the story.

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