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Category: Nomadic Living

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.

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.

Ten Signs that Mom is Sick

Ten Signs that Mom is Sick

I recently emerged from the bed after a seven day battle with a sinus infection, that turned into an ear infection, that ended up rupturing my eardrum.

Sounds like I’m 6 years old, right?

Who knew adults got ear infections and pretty serious ones at that. Not me, I thought I graduated from ear infections in my elementary years. Obviously not.

I can’t brag on my husband enough for keeping the ship afloat while I was down. He managed to rearrange his work schedule so he could be home with the boys, make sure they were fed, keep the house from being burned down and even check off a box or two from the homeschool assignment list. To some that may not sound impressive but I’m still in awe of his Daddy Ninja Skills. #LoveHim

But it goes without saying that when Mama goes down, things can start to go awry pretty quickly. I was pretty useless for five full days and am still not 100% but I’m trying to get back into the swing of things little by little.

I decided the first step to making myself feel better was to get our house back in order. I started picking things up and trying to bring order to the chaos when I finally had to stop and have a good laugh.

I really can’t put into words the absurd condition our house was in. So, instead of using words, I’ll use pictures.

Here are my “Top Ten Signs Mom Is Sick”…

1. There is yellow modeling clay in the bottom of the turtle’s aquarium. I’m guessing the modeling clay was in lieu of actual turtle food, meaning the turtle hasn’t eaten in a week. Thankfully, he’s still floating upright. Mr. Chad will be proud.

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2. The trash is piled high with school assignments that have been discretely dropped in the garbage can.

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3. An entire roll of tape is stuck to the floor to serve as a reminder that someone tried to tape his baby brother to the rug. IMG_0694

4. You have enough empty pizza boxes to build a small fort. I only photographed two because I was too embarrassed to admit the actual number of pizzas that were consumed in my absence. IMG_0696

5. Picture frames, along with other household items are broken as a result of the MMA cage match that took place in the living room.

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6. The baby has painted himself with White Out AND it hasn’t been washed off. I refuse to admit how many days the “war paint” remained on his arms because that would be evidence of how long my boys went without a proper bath. I digress.

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7. The bottom of the coffee pot is burned black, which serves as evidence that Daddy has relied heavily on caffeine to get through the last week.

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8. The curtain rods are literally ripped off the wall. See #5.

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9. Pizza Dinner is served along with soda on the floor, on a blanket, in front of the TV in the middle of the living room.

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10. You get an insane amounts of hugs, kisses, cuddles and snuggles when you do finally manage to get out of the bed because your kids have missed you so much. Swoon.

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Thankfully, as I type this we are on the mend and there are brighter days ahead at the Taylor house. We’ve managed to find order in our home and even get the laundry caught up. So, we survived the plague of 2016 and hope that it’s a really long time before something like that comes around again.

A Message to My Mommy Friends

A Message to My Mommy Friends

I recently learned that my closest local friend on this side of the world is newly pregnant.

She had only known about the pregnancy for approximately 23.6 minutes before she got in touch with me to ask which doctor to use, what prenatal vitamin is the best, which baby book she should read first and a whole slew of other questions that I won’t share here.

I was overjoyed at her bringing all of the questions to me and heaping them at my feet like a huge pile of laundry that needed to be sorted and put away.

You see; I love pregnancy, babies, motherhood and all things related. There are few subjects I enjoy discussing as much as these. And while I do have a little experience under my belt, I’m also fully aware that there are many women who walk through the journey of motherhood with more wisdom, grace and dignity than I can generate on my best day.

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As I pondered the many things I could tell her, needed to tell her and wanted to tell her my mind quickly drifted away to an entirely different space.

We could have spent hours discussing natural or medicated childbirth, breast or bottle feeding, crib or co-sleeping ,vaccinations or not, working moms vs. stay at home moms, organic or processed food, spanking or time out, controlled crying or crying it out….or one of the millions of other topics that seem to sprint through the already brimming minds of every new mother- causing us to choose sides like we’re preparing for battle.

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I could have taken that opportunity to try and win her over, to convince her that the way I do things is best. I could have chosen to ignore what my friend really needed in an effort to glorify myself and prove to her what an incredibly knowledgeable mother I am.

The temptation was there. Draw some battle lines and win over a covert to the home team. Fortunately, the Lord was gracious to intervene and keep me from diving in head first. Instead, I truly believe that He alone gave me eyes to see what would bring Him the most glory and allow myself to fade into the background.

I just listened as she rattled off the one million little bits of information she had already gathered about her growing baby.

I simply told my friend how ridiculously excited I was for her.

I reminded her that I loved her and wanted to hear every detail of her doctors visit, that I wanted to gaze at every sonogram picture and dream with her about what her baby would look like.

I shared with her that I wanted to walk the pregnancy journey with her, hand in hand. When she has questions, I want to help her find answers. And by God’s grace, I want to be that Romans 12:15 friend for her. 
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Because in the world of motherhood where battle lines are drawn, camps are made and gloves are tossed aside when someone chooses a different path of parenting, things can get down. right. draining. In the midst of all the competition and jockeying for mommy position we can easily miss the wonder and amazement of the reality that God has entrusted us with a tiny creation made uniquely in His image. A precious baby with an eternal soul.

This mommy stuff is hard enough without the petty challenges and competition. So, in light of that, let us bask in the amazing reality that we get to be mothers to these little people. It doesn’t matter if we are new mom’s, veteran mom’s, soon to be mom’s or hoping to be moms we can enjoy the unity that we were created to joyfully share with one another and thank God that He hasn’t asked us to walk this journey alone.

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.