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14 Years and 14 Things I Love: Part 3

14 Years and 14 Things I Love: Part 3

If you missed part one or part two of the 14 Things I Love, go back and read them before you pick up here. For those of you that have already read the previous reasons, I’m going to keep rambling on about my adorable husband.

  • I can be a terribly quirky human being. One example of many- I have a mild obsession with recycled containers. I’ve convinced myself that every container is one Pinterest page away from a makeover. Problem being, I have a hard time throwing any empty containers away which leads to an abundant overflow of random containers threatening to take over our kitchen.I’m also really funny about other people drinking from my water bottle or taking gum from the end of the pack that hasn’t previously had gum removed from it, just to name a few. I could fill up the internet with my outlandish little habits but you get the point so in an effort to save face, I’ll stop at three. These peculiar little habits can be humorous unless you’re the one faced with them everyday but Britten is always so full of grace when my bizarre little quirks rear their ugly head. He graciously pulls the empty containers from the dish pile and sits them aside for me to work my magic on. He’s even washed peanut butter out of an empty jar and removed the label because he knows that it is important to me. That’s love folks. That’s real love right there.

  • In the summer of 2000 when I crossed paths with Britten in the church parking lot, I must admit the first thing I noticed was certainly not his servants heart or his integrous character. I was however immediately drawn to his eyes the color of the summer sky and his statuesque physique. I was quite smitten with him and loved that whenever I saw him he was fashionably dressed, smelled good and his hair was perfectly in place. Fast forward 17 years and that is still one of the things I love about him. Britten works hard to take care of himself and make himself attractive to me. He asks me which cologne I like, which shirt I think looks best and how I like his hair. He works out regularly and watches what he eats so that I still notice his statuesque physique and boyish good looks  all these years later. Which leads me to the next thing I love.

 

  •  It’s always good to have a second pair of eyes read over something before you hit the “submit” button. I started my first blog “Too Many B’s” in 2010 before we moved overseas and Britten has been faithful to proofread every post before I publish it. Britten doesn’t have copious amounts of free time but the little he does have, he uses to help me. However, he is going to die when he sees the previous paragraph so I chose to submit this post before sending it to my editor.

 

  • This life can be tiring on numerous levels. Homeschooling our children, working part time, taking care of our home, living overseas- it can, at times, create the perfect storm and I find myself exhausted, hyper emotional and in need of a break. Britten gets a front row seat to the difficult days and my superhero swoops in to save the day. It reminds me of Exodus 17 when Moses’ arms grew tired so Aaron and Hur literally held them up for him. He sometimes takes over everything and sends me to bed for a nap and other times he sends me a sweet text messages like this one I recently received.

I consider my marriage to Britten one of the greatest blessing God has given me on this earth and there is no blog post that could possibly embody my love for him. 14 years of marriage and I’m still not done falling in love with him. Happy Anniversary babe, I pray the Lord gives us many, many more.

Say the Words

Say the Words

I watched the sun quietly set, reminding me I’d made it to the end of a somewhat lengthy day. We had been walking around the city for several hours with our five kids in tow as the rain began to fall. The rain caused the temperature to drop so not only were we wet, we were cold and weary.As I pushed the stroller up the last stretch of sidewalk into the hotel, I felt her hand rest placidly on my shoulder.

“I just wanted to tell you that I’m amazed by your family. I’ve been watching your boys and can’t believe how mature they are and how much they love each other. I can even tell how much they respect you and your husband just by the demeanor they take on when you speak.” I stood there silent, trying to form the words, but found myself unable to speak… so she continued on.

“I know sometimes as moms we second guess ourselves and wonder if the decisions we make raising our children are the right ones. So, I want to tell you how impressed I am with your boys and that I think you’re doing a great job. It’s been a true blessing just to watch you and your husband parent your children.”

I could feel my face getting flushed and my heartbeat quickening which meant I knew  what was to follow. I tried to take a deep breath and blink away the tears but despite my efforts warm tears filled the rims of my eyes.

You see…what the woman in the hotel couldn’t have known is that the season of parenting we find ourselves in has proven to be quite difficult. Our oldest son is going from a little boy to a young man and the things we’ve learned in the last 12.5 years of parenting are practically irrelevant and more days than not I’m on my knees begging God for grace.It wasn’t the time for me to tell her that just last week my husband and I were fasting and praying on behalf of our boys, begging God to help us be the parents they need because it felt like we were failing at every turn.

There was no way that woman could have known the concern in this mama’s heart but we serve a God that knows every tear we cry (Psalm 56:8) and He knew that in that exact moment I needed to hear those encouraging words.

I’m sure to the woman it was just a kind compliment. She simply gave words to the thoughts running through her mind. But to this mom, it was the Spirit of God calming my soul and reminding me that He is in control.

As I continued up the steps to our hotel room I was astonished by the power of one simple compliment. One encouraging word, spoken from a thoughtful heart literally changed my entire outlook.

In that moment I made a promise to myself. The next time a kind thought lingers in my mind I won’t let it stop there. I will open my mouth and say the words because those words could be what the Spirit of God uses to breathe life into another person.

 

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.