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Author: BTaylor

Life With Boys

Life With Boys

My sweet friend recently found out she was having a baby boy. This will be her third child and her third son.  Seeing the royal blue balloons in her Instagram announcement reminded me of the first time I heard the words, “It’s a boy!”

I was unconditionally overjoyed and whole heartedly unprepared to be a member of the Boy Mom club. Thankfully, my rock star mom and the dear friends the Lord put in my life were altogether willing to show me the ropes. They showered me with every shade of blue and taught me new words like- circumcision and Pee-Pee Tee Pee. I had so much to learn.

 

Fast forward 14 years and I’m not only  in the Boy Mom club…I’m  an Elite Member.

My five boys are 4, 7, 9, 11 and 13 and they’ve schooled me in all things, “Snips and snails and puppy dog tails.”

And while I LOVE to help new moms prepare for life with boys, the suggestions I make now are entirely different than the ones I gave early on in my journey.

I’ve put together a list of five things every boy mom should know.

  1. Be exceptionally leery of young girls that want to be your bestie. When a girl is in the same age range as your son and she is constantly texting you, showing up where you are and ordering you matching B.F.F. necklaces…she’s up to something and it’s probably no good. I can activate Mama Bear mode in exactly 0.2 seconds. You’ve been warned.

2. Go ahead and put a toilet auger on your baby shower registry. Boys and bathrooms are a lethal combination. Call it curiosity or call it boredom but boys flush things down the toilet. Hot Wheel cars, toilet paper rolls, washrags…there is no limit to the things they will flush. Save yourself a lot of frustration by always having a toilet auger on hand. You’ll thank me.3. Foster their love of Band-Aids and then by stock in the company. When boys are small they put Bandaids on everything. Not only should you let them, you should encourage it. In a few years their little boy legs will be covered with cuts, scrapes and scabs and if you can keep bandaids on them you’ll reduce the amount of blood that is All. OVER. YOUR. HOUSE. Buying stock in Bandaid will help keep your sheets, couches and rugs as stain free as possible.

4. Skip the all natural, froo-froo bathroom cleaners and go straight for the big guns. I get it. I really do. Organic chemical free cleaners are all the rage right now but you need to hear me say this. Boys pee everywhere and your essential oil, vinegar based, eco-friendly, non-toxic mumbo jumbo cleaner is going to run home crying with its tail between its legs. I appreciate the nod to health and wellness but go ahead and get yourself an industrial bottle of Clorox Urine Remover and call it a day.

5. You have a never-ending, all encompassing, automatic pass to enjoy “girly” things at any given moment. Your life will be a coalition of E.R. visits, one word responses, strange smells, injuries, non-stop hunger, constant wrestling and conversations that consist entirely of emojis. The concept of breaking away and making time for yourself is not only “suggested” it’s mandatory. So-tell the hubby I said go get a manicure, go to the spa, watch a chick flick or plan a craft night. Trust me…you deserve it!

At Home Baking

At Home Baking

Last night the delicate scent of warm apple bread filled our home. The savory fragrance confirmed that fall is indeed here. As the dough began to rise and the edges turned a tawny brown I thought about the fact that I was baking.

To most people it’s just bread, but to me it’s so much more.

You see, in the last five months, we’ve lived in four different homes. We moved from our (1) home in the Middle East this past May, stopped by some (2) temporary housing in Alabama and then into (3) transitional housing in North Carolina and, finally, landed in our (4) new home 6 weeks ago. Each stop was an incredible blessing and a gracious gift from God, but for many different reasons we never truly felt settled. Each time we moved into a new home we only unpacked the necessities because we knew it was just a brief stop in the journey. And when you’re only making brief stops along the way- you never really feel settled.

Last night I took mixing bowls out of the cabinet. I pulled a rubber spatula from the drawer. I plugged in my Kitchen Aide mixer and watched it gently fold the batter.

As I sliced the warm bread I realized this was the first time I had baked in months. It may sound strange but baking is something I only have time for when life feels settled and our family is in a good routine. Of course, I can throw a simple dinner together and feed the guys but baking takes time- it’s more careful and methodical.

When my heart is at peace, I bake. When I have the freedom to linger, I bake. When I want to create something with my hands to serve another…I bake.

I sliced the fresh bread and wrapped in it parchment to take to our new neighbors. As I walked out the back door and headed across the grass my heart was flooded with joy. I’m so thankful for this new season. It feels good to be settled. And I’m incredibly grateful to be “home.”

To My Expat Friends

To My Expat Friends

It’s that time of year again.

Summer is drawing to a close with the passing of every late evening sunset which means most expats are preparing to go back “home.” 

This week we talked to friends who have just arrived back in their country of residence. Many other expats are frantically shoving last minute items into already full suitcases, saying emotionally overwhelming goodbyes and scouring the internet for airline tickets that do not involve thirteen hour layovers. Just typing the above sentence causes my blood pressure to elevate and my heart rate to quicken.

Life overseas is not for the faint of heart and going back “home” can bring a flood of emotion ranging from utter elation to woeful sorrow. It’s a strange dichotomy that can’t be explained, only experienced.

Tonight I find myself missing our previous life and longing for the familiarity of the beautiful country we called “home.” Please don’t hear me wrong. I absolutely love where we are right now and I’m beyond thrilled to be back in my home country but as one author so eloquently put it, I find myself  in a strange paradox.

“They can be completely thrilled to be “home” and feel like they just left it at the same time. Give them the space to love both places and the time to grieve their loss. Ask them what they’re going to miss the most.”

The Lord has been incredibly gracious. He has allowed me to deeply love my home country and the other countries I’ve called home. I consider it an absolute gift to be able to write from both sides of the equation and tonight I’m talking to my expat friends and this is what I want to tell you.

-Life can be hard and the day to day task of fighting for joy can be an immense struggle but this is not your forever home and one day you’re going to miss the expat life… soak every day in and let it transform who you are. The Lord will graciously use the most difficult of days to make you look more like His Son and you may not even notice the changes until you’re in a completely new life season.

-I know that you feel alone and forgotten but the truth is you are loved, remembered and prayed for. Life happens and people get busy and the enemy would love to make you think you are alone but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only do you serve a great God that promises to be with you, you have an army of people that talk about you, pray for you, remember you and love you…even when you are completely unaware.

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

So to all my expat friends, as you’re weighing those bags for the last time and settling into your aisle seat, know that you are loved.

Desert Safari

Desert Safari

One thing can be said for living in a culture that is not your own. Life is rarely prosaic.

Without a doubt, day to day life can be taxing and somewhat demanding but never monotonous.

In the face of constant diversity one can chose to detach from the culture or embrace it head on, enjoying the new and  unfamiliar.

This weekend was a chance for our family to get up close and personal with Arab culture in an exhilarating way.

Our  friends invited us on a Desert Safari complete with dune bashing, camel rides and whole lamb roasted on a spit.  Upon arrival, all guests were given goggles and a shemagh (traditional Middle Eastern head scarf) to keep sand out of our eyes and help us look the part. Sidenote: when you are out in the middle of the barren desert, abayas are optional.

Then we set off into the desert with a professionally trained driver. At times our ATV was literally vertical and I unashamedly screamed like a girl. 

We played soccer, rode beautiful Arabian horses and danced the night away to traditional Arabic music.

However, the highlight of the night was dinner.

One of my favorite things about this culture is the food and this weekend’s feast was no exception.

Sitting under the stars with twinkle lights floating overhead our friends taught us how to choose the best pieces of meat and which desserts were on the “must try” list. It was a perfectly serene ending to the night.

I often tell people that living in the Arab culture will redefine your view of hospitality. This southern girl only thought she knew hospitality but I learned the true meaning of it during our time overseas and I think this quote by Nancy Leigh Demoss sums it up perfectly.

|| The word hospitality in the New Testament comes from two Greek words. The first word means love and the second word means strangers. It’s a word that means love of strangers.||

Homeschool Resources

Homeschool Resources

Today I’m sharing a few homeschool resources that I really enjoy.

  1. The first one is Typing Club.

Typing Club is a free online program that teaches touch typing to a wide range of ages and skill sets. To access the program you only need a keyboard and a web browser and you’re off to the races. Typing club teaches proper hand position, the layout of the QWERTY keyboard and muscle memory all while working on speed and accuracy. Not to mention, it’s free.

We’ve been working on the program for eight months and I’ve seen major improvements in each of my school aged boys.

They also recently released keyboard covers which means I don’t have to use sticky tac and card stock to rig my own.

2) Next up the Youtube channel Kids Art Hub

My brother-in-law shared this one with me and we are hooked.

My boys enjoy art. However, I tend to let it fall by the wayside because I can’t draw, paint or sketch…but now I don’t need to.

New art lessons are uploaded Monday-Friday so you can pull up a lesson whenever you are trying to cook dinner and your kids won’t get out of your hair it fits your school day. You can also search the channel for specific lessons so it’s an easy subject to tie in with science, history or seasonal studies.

My refrigerator is running out of space to display artistic creations but my boys have shown great improvement in their drawing

3) The last one isn’t exactly a resource but still needs to be shared.

This winter I found myself in a season of weariness and burn out for a myriad of reasons. I was going through the motions with our homeschool day and trying to “check all the boxes.”

A friend recommended the book Teaching From Rest by Sarah Mackenzie and I hit the “buy now” button after reading the description. Not to be overly dramatic but, I breathed a deep sigh of relief during the first few chapters. 

The book gently and graciously reminded me to see the hearts of my children rather than a checklist of things to accomplish in a given day. It truly has shaped the way I view our homeschool days. Order it. Now.

I’d love to hear about your favorite resources or the things that make you breathe a little easier on this homeschool journey.

Lasting Traditions

Lasting Traditions

The salt dough tomb is dried out 

and the colored eggs have all been found. 

Packing away the Easter remnants made me ponder our family traditions.

I couldn’t help but smile as I reflected back on the years of matching Easter outfits and color coordinating baskets. 

That life seems like a distant memory.

Reminiscing on those distant days made me wonder why certain traditions have stood the test of time and others have fallen by the wayside. 

Some of our family traditions ceased to exist when we moved to the Middle East. Partly  because I could no longer find the necessary items to make said tradition a reality and partly because mama was tired and didn’t want to add another. single. thing. to an already full plate.

I settled on a handful of meaningful traditions and those are the ones that have held on through numerous homes, multiple cities, varying cultures, different countries and ever changing seasons  of life.

My thoughts were prompted by the Easter holiday but the same holds true for other celebrations throughout the year. Holidays, birthdays and anniversaries all hold traditions that are woven into the fabric of our family. Other enjoyable traditions have come and gone but the  ones that are meaningful, simple and purposeful are still with us today.

I have a running list of things I wish I could go back and tell a younger me. This week the list grew a tad bit longer.

||the everyday routines of life and the special celebrations of holidays and dates will become part of who you are as a family. The simple becomes familiar and the familiar becomes noteworthy. What we do over and over again will become habit and habits become ingrained. Choose wisely and seize every opportunity to take the ordinary as well as the extraordinary and use it as a means to point to Christ||

 

Plain Oatmeal

Plain Oatmeal

When our oldest son was two I taught him his colors by dropping food coloring in his oatmeal.

It was an effortless way to make our mundane breakfast routine a bit more exciting.

It unintentionally became somewhat of a tradition and eleven years later I’m still swirling vibrant drops of color into creamy oats. 
That winsome, curly haired boy is thirteen now.

He didn’t want Lego’s for Christmas this year.

He only wants to watch soccer on the big screen when we go to Chuck E. Cheese.

And last week… he requested oatmeal with no colors.

They weren’t kidding when they said, “Don’t blink!”

I know that colored oatmeal is trivial against the big backdrop of life but his request for plain oats was a reminder of so much more.

My little boy is growing into a young man. His likes and dislikes are changing. His personality is changing. His voice is changing. And what he needs from me as a mom, friend and fellow follower of Christ is changing.

I love that he is growing into a young man but I find myself constantly drifting between loosening my white knuckled fists to allow a young man freedom and locking my arms tightly around him and never letting go.

This new season of parenting can be indescribably sweet and a stark reminder of my dependence on God. Due to the latter, I created a prayer guide that uses scripture to specifically focus on the the things I want for my son.

| LINK BELOW |

Prayers For Your Teen Son

James 5:16 says, “the prayer of a righteous person is  powerful and effective”

 My hope is that this simple guide will help other weary moms as we join together to fight for the hearts of our sons.

Brax Turns Four

Brax Turns Four

Our little guy turned four last week. I fully anticipated a blubbering, tear filled birthday song upon the realization that we’ve never had a four year old in the house without a baby following closely behind but I held it together nicely.

My zeal for party planning was quickly dashed when he earnestly declared, “I don’t want a party.” *sigh* Who is this kid anyway?

Upon further questioning, I realized he did indeed have plans for an indefectible birthday…and I was happy to oblige.

He wanted the customary birthday morning pancakes but was not a fan of the obligatory birthday song.  He chose his favorite restaurant for dinner and dined on Happy Meals and orange juice because you can do that when it’s your birthday. #cleaneating
After dinner the guys behind the counter let him make his own ice cream cone. He was thrilled with the blue cotton candy ice cream but unsettled by the sweet Sri Lankan man that dared talk to him. Are you sensing a theme?He asked for a cake and Paw Patrol decorations but insisted, “No people. Only mom and dad and guys.” He refers to his four older brothers as the guys and I simultaneously melt.

We had cake and sang the birthday song again while he ambled into the next room and pretended we weren’t singing to him.We handed him his birthday present because he didn’t want the added pressure of anyone watching him open his gift and just like that the celebration was over.

I crumbled paper plates and napkins inside a plastic table cloth and tossed the remaining evidence of celebration into the trash while secretly hoping my other boys will adopt this new method of celebration.

 

Abaya Meme

Abaya Meme

“Do you have to wear that black dress everywhere you go?”

“Do you cover your head when you are in public?”

Those are the two most common questions I get when people find out we live in the Middle East. I could write volumes on the abaya (the arabic word for the black dress) and my personal thoughts on what it’s like to wear it every time I leave the house but for today…I’m going to leave this right here.

ABAYAS