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Category: Nomadic Living

Family Game Night Apps

Family Game Night Apps

We love family game night. Board games, card games or party games can be a lot of fun but the new digital group games on our devices have brought a new excitement to our  family game night.

Today I’m sharing a few of my favorite family game night apps in no particular order.

  1. Spaceteam

This one is fun if you have multiple devices in your home and your kids can read pretty well. Each person needs to download the app on their device and be in the same room on the same wifi network. Each person  will have a control panel on their screen and you’re all working together as a “space team” to get the rocket ship to the next sector.

A command will appear on your screen and you have to read it aloud so the person with that control panel can perform the necessary task. You’ll also be receiving commands simultaneously that you’ll need to perform on your device. For instance, I may give the command, “Engage Hydrofusion” but you’ve got the Hydrofusion flip switch on your device so I have to give you the command so you can perform it. Other commands require all players to participate together. You can play with 2-8 people so playing with my boys means we all end up screaming with excitement. Accurately complete enough of the commands and you’ll arrive safely at the next sector. Beware…the levels get increasingly harder the further you go.

2. Heads Up

I’m sure it tells my age but this one reminds me of a favorite childhood gameshow- $25,000 Pyramid. One person holds the device on their head and the rest of the group uses words or actions to describe the word on the screen. When the person holding the device guesses the word correctly they tilt the phone down to move to the next word. If a word is too difficult you can pass by tilting the phone up. I was originally leery of this game because of the rating but we’ve had it for a while now and have never come across anything inappropriate. As always, use your own discretion and check it out for yourself before turning the kids loose unsupervised because I said it was ok.

3. Who Can’t Draw

This one works for 2-8 players with one device to play. It’s a cross between the old Telephone game and Pictionary.

You’ll choose a word to draw and do your best to draw the picture on the tablet/phone. When your time is up you’ll pass the phone to the next player. They will attempt to draw the same word without seeing the other drawings. Continue passing the phone around until everyone has drawn. The last player does not draw but guesses the word based on the drawings. You then vote on the player “Who Can’t Draw” and that person receives the Worst Artist award which can sometimes lead to hurt feelings in our house- I choose to use that as a life lesson. You’ve been warned.

4. Just Dance Now

This one is my favorite. It’s like the Just Dance games you’ve probably played on Wii or PlayStation but without needing a specific game console and without buying new versions of the game to have access to new songs. Simply download the game on your device and then connect it to an iPad, laptop, Apple TV, etc.

There are a few free songs but $2.99 gets you 24 hour access to all the songs and $24.99 gives you a years subscription to all the songs. Using your phone as the controller you can dance your way to a five star finish. Our favorite part is that we can compete with family and friends from around the world simply by entering the room number and having them enter it as well. As an added bonus, I reached my exercise goal on my Apple Watch after just a few songs without even going to the gym. There is also a “workout” section that still has you dancing but with a focus on exercise.

5. Super Family Hero

This one is geared towards the younger kids and works well with non readers too. Adults and kids can play together on one screen but have tasks of varying difficulty based on their age. You’ll go on interactive story adventures and try to defeat Dr. Excuses through a series of minigames, some that require all of the players working together at the same time. This one works on a phone but is much easier to navigate on an iPad or tablet.

I love how each of these games fights against the usual iPhone isolation and causes us to play together, talk to each other and work together as a team. They work great for family time, summer boredom busters or even your next social gathering. Have fun!

Too Big T-Shirt Tutorial

Too Big T-Shirt Tutorial

Sure you’ve been there, done that and got the t-shirt but was the t-shirt too big?

Don’t throw that too big T out just yet…grab some scissors, take a deep breath and snip away. It’s super simple.

To go from the oversized t-shirt on the left to the cute up-cycled creation on the right you need a t-shirt, scissors, pencil and a ruler.Start by folding your t-shirt in half and cutting off the sleeves and neck to make a tank top. Decide how long you want the shirt to be and cut off the needed amount from the bottom. 
Use the ruler to draw a straight line down the arm hole side of the shirt while it’s still folded in half. I made my slits an inch and a half but you can make them bigger/smaller depending on the size you want the shirt to be when completed. 
Cut strips through both sides of the shirt all the way to the pencil line. Open the t-shirt up. Remind yourself that it’s just a shirt you were going to throw away and cut a straight line along the fold on each side. Don’t stress over that fact that you just cut the shirt completely in half. 
Now tie the fringe together, one knot at a time, all the way down both sides of the shirt. 
Wash and dry the t-shirt as you usually would and then take a selfie of your adorable creation while your kids play WWF Smackdown on your bed because they know you are distracted.

My Favorite Things

My Favorite Things

I love learning about new products, movies, albums, restaurants, etc. from other people.

My philosophy is: if you take the time to tell me about it then it must be good. 

Today I’m sharing a few of my favorite things. Don’t worry. I’m not trying to sell you Essential Oils, Rodan + Fields, It Works, Plexus, Beauty Counter or any of those other products populating your news feed. I just love these products and think you should know.

  1. Lil’ ScrubbiesThese silicone scrubbing pads are gentle on your skin and more effective than washing with your hands. It also doesn’t hurt that they cost $2.50 for two. The suction cup on the back allows you to stick it to the mirror or shower so they aren’t easily misplaced.

2. Read Scripture App

I must confess that when my husband told me about this app I balked at his nonsense. I told him I didn’t have that kind of time and I’d just stick to the Bible reading plan I was already using. If you know Britten you know how persistent he can be and aren’t surprised that now I’m telling you how crazy I am about this app. Not only is it a thematic Bible reading plan but it comes with these amazing videos from the Bible Project that help contextualize each of the 66 books. You can also set reminders, track your progress and ping yourself to help stay on track.

3. ROMWOD
I realize most of my “fitness challenged” friends just scrolled over this because you saw “WOD” in the name but, please don’t overlook this gem. As I approach the big 4-0 I’ve noticed my flexibility is decreasing, joint pain increasing and muscle tightness becoming a limiting factor not just in the gym but even when I’m sitting on the floor playing with my boys.

Romwod stands for Range Of Motion Workout Of the Day. It’s a website that provides daily videos designed to increase range of motion, optimize athletic performance, and promote recovery, healing, and longevity. The program is designed to open your joints and strengthen your ligaments/fascia so people at any age or fitness level can benefit from the program. Britten and I do it together in our living room floor while our boys laugh at us so it doubles as family time.

4. Infinity Belt

I have a love/hate relationship with belts. I love that they keep my pants up but hate how my shirt doesn’t lay smooth because of the chunky buckle. That is precisely why I love the Infinity Belt. The buckle is designed like a bra clasp so it lays flat under your clothes without being noticed. And…if you go through airport security as often as we do then you need to know this belt doesn’t have to be removed going through security checkpoints and that alone is worth the investment. The website shows ladies wearing the belt exposed but I personally only wear it when it’s covered by a shirt.

The mascara I use today I learned about from a friend who shared her favorite things on Instagram so I’d love to hear about the products that make your life a little easier.

 

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.

Business As Usual

Business As Usual

Right before we left the states to head back to the Middle East we had a microscopic bit of snow in our city. Our boys learned then that homeschooling has its advantages and disadvantages. While our cousins were at home curled up on the couch watching movies, we were in the school room handling business as usual.

However, there are also great advantages to homeschooling. One of those advantages being, no matter where we are, we can carry on with school. And when you travel as much as we do, that’s a pretty great incentive.

We have been living in a hotel for a little longer than originally anticipated so it was imperative that we resume our school schedule, even if for no other reason than to bring some order to our day.

We’ve set up a nice little system here in the hotel and Taylor Academy is in full swing. We eat breakfast and then work together to clean the table off and get school started. When lunch time rolls around we put the school away and prepare lunch. After lunch we clean up the table again and drag the school books back out. Finally, when we finish school for the day, we put all the books away and transition to dinner…again. Doesn’t that just sound delightful?

I must admit that my OCD nature gets tested regularly by the fact that we don’t have a designated “school room.”

I try to stay as organized as possible by creating neat stacks for each of the boys but when the laundry drying area doubles as a bookshelf, things can get cluttered. 
And no need to worry about the fact that the majority of our school supplies are still packed in our tubs. We may not have the necessary supplies but we are getting by just fine. You’d be surprised how resourceful I can be when backed against a wall. I’m encouraging myself with the idea that once we get settled in our home and have the school room set back up the schooling will practically take care of itself. And today I’m choosing to live in that reality so please don’t spoil it for me.

A New Look for the New Adventure

A New Look for the New Adventure

We left Birmingham with 21 checked bags, three backpacks, a stroller, two carseats and 7 carry-ons.

We arrived back in our city last week with all but one of our suitcases. After 27 hours of travel from point A to point B we finally made it.
The boys are absolute rock stars when it comes to saying goodbye, navigating airports, sleeping on the plane and eating airplane food.

Me….not so much. Which is why I passed out on my sweet husband in the Paris airport and left him to wrangle my jet lagging brood.

We are eagerly anticipating the new adventures that are around the corner. I personally look forward to documenting them here on the blog.

The new adventures necessitated a new look so the blog got a little facelift courtesy of the Etsy shop Graphics Candy who is not only incredibly talented but overwhelmingly kind and patient to work with.

You can still find me here at passportforsix.com but since we haven’t been a family of six for nearly three years I needed to make a few minor changes. I hope you enjoy the new look and the upcoming excitement. We’ve only been here eleven days and the list of things that I want to etch in my blogging memory are already spilling over in my head. I can’t wait to share them with you.

Emergency Passport, Atlanta and College Football

Emergency Passport, Atlanta and College Football

“When are you leaving?”

It’s the question we get asked multiple times per day. We originally planned to be gone the first of the year, but things don’t always go as planned.

We’ve been waiting on our visas to arrive and were thrilled to finally get them in the mail this week. Unfortunately, the excitement didn’t last long when we realized that one of the boy’s passports wasn’t in the envelope with the rest. And we always travel with all of our boys. 😉

We called the embassy the next day to try and figure out what had happened only for them to tell us they mailed all of the passports back to us. That’s a problem.

Now we either sit back and hope our 7 year old’s passport arrives…or we can take matters into our own hands.

We  decided the latter and needed to get a replacement passport as soon as possible. We called the US Passport Agency and made an appointment for the following day….in Atlanta. Both parents have to be present to receive a child’s passport so we woke up early the next morning and loaded up the boys for a road trip. Our appointment was in the morning and the sweet people at the agency told us to come back later that afternoon to pick up the newly prepared passport. So, we found ourselves in Atlanta for the day and needed something to do. No need to worry- there are plenty of things to do in ATL.

It has been fascinating to watch our boys become slightly obsessed with football this Fall. With that said- we decided to head over to the College Football Hall of Fame. 

The boys practiced their skills in the obstacle course.

Got in the game withe the virtual reality stadium.

And even had a chance to test their skills as a college football announcer.

I literally had to drag the boys out at closing time. If you have a football fan in your life, this is the place to go.

We closed out the day by picking up the brand new passport. So, for those keeping count at home– we have an unforeseen trip to ATL, emergency passport for the eight year old, a solid day at the College Football Hall of Fame… and an upcoming departure back to our home in the Middle East in the days to come.

Beauty from Ashes

Beauty from Ashes

 “And provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”

-Isaiah 61:3

We aren’t always given the privilege of seeing our ashes exchanged for a crown of beauty in the nitty gritty details of life. Often times we go through mourning or seasons of despair and we must just walk by faith and trust that despite our current circumstances, the Lord is working all things for our good and His great glory.

Those seasons of despair, when we are not given the privilege of seeing the restoration, make me that much more grateful for the times the Lord graciously allows me to experience the exchange of mourning  for dancing. This week was one of those times.

Early last week our family journeyed a few states over for a conference.

The afore mentioned sentence is as lackluster as it gets to the everyday blog reader, but for me it’s my crown of beauty to replace the ashes.

Because I have never mentioned it here on the blog, most people don’t know that four years ago, in the last couple of weeks leading up to our family moving overseas, I had a miscarriage. I was eleven weeks pregnant at the time and ecstatic about adding to our family. Unfortunately, despite the desperate prayers of a mama’s heart, rising HCG levels and multiple grueling attempts to find a heartbeat the baby did not live and I had to have a D&C.

I remember lying in the bed, clutching my stomach and praying that the cramps would stop. In that moment the only thing that felt worse than the intense cramping and the constant bleeding was the heartache of knowing I would not be holding that baby in my arms.

Fast forward a few years to this past week and we find our family going back to the same conference, in the same city, staying in the same hotel. Amidst the flurry of activity that is involved with taking our little crew out of town, I did not think about the painful memories or scars from the past.

As the first day of the conference came to a close I bathed the boys and tucked them into bed before settling into my own bed to read. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a little blonde headed cutie in his Spider Man pajamas waddle into the room. Just like always, I told him to come give me a hug and go back to his bed but as he crawled in my bed for a hug, I was reminded that four years earlier I was in this same place grieving the loss of what would have been our fifth child.

Don’t miss the beauty of this moment. I was sitting in the exact same place where I grieved my miscarriage and holding my fifth born son.

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In that moment, my heart was overwhelmed with gratitude and my eyes were brimming with happy tears.

The next day as I watched Brax play on the playground I was reminded that just a few years earlier I sat numbly on the same bench, recovering from the D&C and watching my boys play as I brushed the warm tears away in the hopes that no one would see me crying. But today the ashes have been traded for a crown of beauty and I get to experience the sheer joy of watching this guy wreak havoc on the playground.

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I in no way want to pretend that every miscarriage is replaced with a healthy baby or that failed relationships always end with a happy marriage. The bad diagnosis isn’t always healed. We lose loved ones, children go astray, other couples are chosen for the adoption and our hearts break into a million tiny fragments. In our fallen world we don’t always get to experience the garment of despair exchanged for one of praise…at least not in this life. That’s the reality of living in our sin soaked world. But for today He alone has clothed me with joy and I’m choosing not to be silent.

You have turned my mourning into dancing for me;
You have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.” -Psalm 30:11-12

Sunday Morning Scramble

Sunday Morning Scramble

The last few years we have lived in a place where there was not necessarily a “Church,” like what we think of in the good ol’ South.

There was no building or gathering of believers on Sunday morning. Actually, there was nothing that necessitated getting your family ready and out the door. We still gathered with other believers, but it was in our homes and it was super low key. Not to mention a typical work week where we lived runs Sunday to Thursday. That means we would generally gather together with other believers on a Friday- which was the day of worship in our little corner of the world.

If that’s not enough, ya’ll know I’m a homeschool mom and we aren’t typically known for our ability to get several little people fed, dressed and out the door to a given location before mid-morning.

I’m guessing the combination of the aforementioned facts has resulted in me being off my game when it comes to the “Sunday Morning Scramble.”

No matter how hard I try or how much effort I put into it, I can’t seem to get all 7 of us to worship with our Church on time. And on the off chance we do manage to sit down in our seats before the service begins I’m completely unprepared.

If you see me wearing a full face of makeup it was applied in the car on the way to worship, meaning my mascara is “less than ideal” and my brows are quite possibly kattywampus. 

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I have no snacks for the 2 year old so he is crawling on my head and digging in my purse in the hopes of finding a piece of gum or a lonely lollipop.IMG_5656

I have failed to pack crayons or paper for the five year old so he is losing interest by the minute and working diligently to draw tattoos on his forearm with a random pen he found in the back of the pew.

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And when I’m really wanting to showcase my finest moments I look down and see that one or more of my kids have somehow made it into the service without shoes. True story.

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So the next time you see this disheveled Mama strolling into the Sunday morning worship service with a passel full of kids in tow, please don’t judge. In fact, a heart felt fist pump may be exactly what I need at the moment as we slowly but surely are getting into our Sunday morning rhythm here in the good ol’ South.