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Category: Life Overseas

The Shocking Stove

The Shocking Stove

When we first moved into this apartment a couple of years ago I noticed I was getting shocked when I touched the stove, microwave or coffee pot.

I’m not referring to an uncomfortable “tingle” like when you were a kid and stuck your tongue to a 9 volt battery. I mean more of an all out “sling raw eggs across the kitchen while trying to cook breakfast” kind of shock.

We eventually found an electrician who told us our apartment wasn’t grounded and that he could fix it. He pulled the stove out from the wall and proceeded to drive a nail into the tile with a piece of wire wrapped around it. He pounded the nail deep into the tile and pushed the stove back in place. Viola! Problem solved.I have no idea what he did or why he did it. But, I do know it worked and my time in the kitchen was a lot less “electrifying” from that point on.

Unfortunately, the problem has returned. And while I’ve yet to sling raw egg across the kitchen, I have dropped a pot or two and screamed like a little girl.

“Call the electrician” is on my to do list but in the meantime I’ve had to get creative.

Whenever I’m cooking anything in my oven or on the stovetop I try to remember to put on shoes with a rubber sole so I won’t get shocked…which sounds a lot easier than it really is.

All too often I’m barefooted and my shoes are upstairs. If I don’t have time to run and get them I have to grab the next closest thing which usually turns out to be Britten’s flip flops. Stylish. I know.If Britten happens to be wearing his flip flops then I just grab whichever shoe I can squeeze my foot into. That often times is a little boy’s size six, which leaves me trying to shimmy my fat toes into enough of the shoe that I don’t get zapped.

But the most attractive ensemble is when I come straight home from the gym and kick my shoes off only to realize I need to take something out of the oven and I’m only wearing socks. Don’t judge, it’s all in the name of safety.
And while I won’t be winning any fashion awards anytime soon, at least I’m not cleaning up splattered egg.

Still Gettin’ Groceries

Still Gettin’ Groceries

Lately we’ve found ourselves in a particularly hectic season of life. Maybe it’s the fact that we have five children, maybe it’s that we homeschool, maybe it’s that I work part time, maybe I’m a giant cream puff and can’t handle the daily challenges of life. I’ll let you decide but don’t tell me the answer, m’kay?

In this season my constant prayer for myself is that God would allow me to see His grace in the daily grind of life. Those are the moments I often fail to see His goodness.

When the sink is full and dishes are pouring out onto the counter and there is no dishwasher. When the school days are long, the b’s still look like d’s and long division eludes us.
When it’s 95 degrees outside and I’m walking to the store in an abaya.
Don’t we all sometimes get weighed down by the daily tasks of life?

This week I was looking back through some old blog posts and came across a post I wrote nearly two years ago. We were living in a neighboring country and the simple task of going to the grocery store was sheer misery. I laughed out loud as I read the blog post in it’s entirety. Then I breathed a huge sigh of relief because that was a thing of the past. To completely appreciate the remainder of this post you need to read the original Gettin’ Groceries blog post. 

And while I’m still “Gettin’ Groceries” on a routine basis, things look a bit different this time around.

This week I pulled up the Danube app on my phone, sat in my favorite chair with a Diet Coke and ordered all the groceries I needed for the week. I then scheduled what day and time I wanted them delivered to my house and hit “place order.”

The next morning a kind young man rang the doorbell and delivered my groceries to the front door. No service charge, no delivery fee and no out of control grocery carts.
Praise hands ya’ll. 🙌🙌🙌🙌 All the praise hands. 🙌🙌🙌🙌
He handed me the receipt so I could pay and my grocery shopping was done. My what a difference a couple of years can make.

So the next time I get overwhelmed by the daily “stuff” I’m going to remind myself of the years we pushed  double grocery carts through the mall with our five kids in tow and I hope I will praise God for His goodness in the many small ways He pours it out each day.

Shrinking the Distance: Voxer

Shrinking the Distance: Voxer

I purposely saved this post for last because it’s quite possibly the most wonderful app of all time. Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic but you get the point. It’s really great.

If you don’t have the Voxer app on your phone already, stop reading this and download it now.

UnknownVoxer is a walkie talkie app for your smart phone. Swoon. I know, right?

It allows you to communicate with anyone who has the Voxer app anywhere in the world for free but the fun doesn’t stop there. Of course you can send text messages, videos and pictures but Voxer also allows you to hear live voices in walkie talkie style. You have the option of listening live at the exact moment someone is leaving you a vox or you can choose to listen when it’s convienent for you, which is great if you have a big time difference to consider. It also has a “tap to talk” option that makes it easier to use and military grade encryption/security if that kind of stuff matters to you. I’m just sayin’.

You all know I love a good text message and I’ve already declared my love for WhatsApp in a previous post but there is just something about being able to hear someone’s voice that makes this app so dear to my heart. I may or may not have gotten emotional a time or two when I first hear the voice of someone I miss dearly and haven’t seen in a while. The struggle is real.

However, Voxer should come with a warning label that reads:

WARNING: “It can be dangerous to give a mom who spends most of her time with small children fifteen minutes of uninterrupted time to talk.”

I can go on, an on, and on ….you’ve been warned. However, Voxer already thought of that and installed a 15 minute time cap. So if you’re still flapping your jaws after fifteen minutes it will cut you off. My mother and I have named this the “Voxer Walk of Shame.” Don’t worry, you can just push the button and start another vox. Ask me how I know?

Voxer also has a button that allows you to speed up the rate at which you listen to your messages which is great if you are crunched for time. The best part about that is if you are from the Deep South like most of my friends and family, I can speed your voxer messages up to x2 and it sounds normal. Now if I can only get my iPhone to stop auto correcting the word “voxer” to”boxer” I won’t have a single thing to complain about.

Shrinking the Distance: WhatsApp

Shrinking the Distance: WhatsApp

I love how easy it is to have long conversations over the phone without ever dialing a number. Some folks would argue that texting is the demise of our ability to converse and have real relationships but those people probably don’t live 7,000 miles from their friends and family.

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Due to the work week in this part of the world running Sunday-Thursday, the difficult time difference and spotty internet, it can be next to impossible to talk with people back home.

Thankfully, WhatsApp takes care of that problem and allows us to keep in touch. WhatsApp is a cross-platform mobile messaging app that allows you to send text messages without having to pay SMS charges. And it’s available for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone and Nokia. No matter who your carrier, what country you live in or what type of phone you have, you can send messages all over the world without a fee.

UnknownWhatsApp isn’t widely used in the United States but it has taken the rest of the world by storm. It has the look and feel of conventional text messages and is super easy to use. You can send pictures, videos, locations or voice recordings for free. Still not ready to download the app?

ATTENTION: You can text back and forth with me. Got it?

If the only reason you have the app on your phone is to keep a smile on the face of this Desert Diva, I wouldn’t mind at all. So, what are you waiting for? Send me a text already.

Shrinking the Distance: Be a Pen Pal

Shrinking the Distance: Be a Pen Pal

My husband started traveling overseas a good bit early into our marriage when we only had one child.

I vividly remember watching him board a plane headed to a far away land and wondering how I would survive while he was away. Not so much because I minded being alone or that the responsibility of taking care of a baby was too much, those both had little to do with it. I honestly wasn’t sure how I could handle not seeing his face, hearing his voice and knowing what was going on in his life for two solid weeks. Dramatic much?

In my defense, things were much different back then. He would get on an airplane and I wasn’t able to see him, FaceTime him, Skype him, text him or call. Nothing. Nada. It was brutal. I would anxiously await his return home and then beg him to regurgitate every. single. detail. of his trip.

It’s crazy to think that things have changed so much in just a few years but in light of all the latest technology, it’s super easy to keep in touch with people living overseas, but a lot of people don’t know just how easy it can be.

For the next few posts, I’m going to show you a few simple ways to help shrink the distance and feel like you’re close to friends and family that live far away. These tips could help you connect with people and be involved in their lives even if they are in the next state or across the world. Hint, Hint.

1) Write a letter or become pen pals. 

I’m sure you’re first thought was, “how outdated” but hear me out. I’m not necessarily talking about the pen pal days of the past.

Of course, you could actually write a letter and drop it in the mailbox but in some countries due to import laws or high import taxes, it may cost less to book an airline ticket and go visit. In that case, we’ve got a spare bed. IMG_5655

Can’t book a trip across the world? No worries, I’ve got a solution.

Write a letter, or have your child write a letter and snap a photo of it with your smart phone. Then you can email the photo or send it through one of the many other tech savvy apps and resources I’m going to talk about later in the week. Stay tuned.

Two of my boys are currently learning how to write a friendly letter in school but they would always lose interest because we couldn’t actually mail the letters to their friends. Now we snap a photo and send it on it’s way. I can check the homeschool box and my boys can keep in touch with friends. JPEG image-C4961DEB659D-1 2
This one makes the grandparents especially giddy because they get to see actual handwriting and you know….some folks really like that kind of stuff. I also snap pictures of the boy’s artwork and send it to friends so the younger boys can have a pen pal, despite the fact that they can’t write just yet. IMG_8535

Come back later this week and we’ll talk about some more fun ways to love folks from a distance.