Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

We leave on Thursday (the 8th) morning, bright and early. We will have goodbyes wrapped up and then go on a trip, just the four of us for a time to process, grieve, connect and “think destination” and not while we are jet lagged and in the hustle and bustle of Addis. 

Lordwilling, we will fly to Ethiopia on October 16th. Your prayers are appreciated.

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The goodbyes continue and it hurts but we are all gonna be okay. 


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Ways To Keep Your Sanity During Travel

I’m no expert on this, but I’ve gleaned wisdom from other mamas and then had a few train wrecks of my own, here are some ideas that have helped us during travel.

Let’s start with this, I don’t think humans are designed for international plane travel and even the best get GRUMPY, parents and kids. When I am traveling, I get uber-annoyed at people treating kids as a huge nuisance to their traveling plans. I may have lost my cool more than once at belligerent passengers.

Anyone who travels with kids should get a medal, huge and made of chocolate and cheez-its and lollipops. It wouldn’t have to fit in the suitcase because it’s consumable and would keep everyone quiet because their mouths would be full, including other grumpsters around. Anyone who makes it to their destination, customs, immigration and baggage claim with a smile on their face also can have one of these medals. 

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Uncle Jeffy dropping us at the airport before a domestic flight

Ways to Minimize the Chaos That Is Traveling With Kids:

Preschool/Kindergarten Addition 

Some of these tips may only be helpful in international travel, others for domestic too.

First, an addition. How could I forget this one? Pray. Pray. Pray. 

Pray to find the humor because you can either laugh or cry. :)

Dress yourself and your kids comfy and practical. Comfy doesn’t have to be frumpy but if you have to run or end up hauling your kids, or go through security after security, I am always so glad we went simple and something that doesn’t constrict them, especially if they have to sleep on flights. I usually skip outfits with belts or shoes I have to do more than slip on because security is a crazy place and getting the girls through it (jon follows through with all the stuff) is a win in our family.

Ask your kids to always be touching you or a suitcase, when you are moving through lines, securities or rushing through airports. They are big places with so many people.

Pack as light as you can entertainment wise and keep it simple. Depending on the age of your child and flight lengths, airport stays, probably just do one small backpack. The temptation is to load that thing full and have them wheel a cute little carryon, but the reality is that after exhaustion hits or your kids bump into so many people that you take their suitcase pulling privilege away, you end up with all of it. I forgo a backpack and when the girls can’t even muster enough effort up for their little packs, I either stack them on my suitcase or swing them over my shoulder. 

When you are packing, think, “Am I capable of hauling all my stuff, their stuff and possibly a child in my arms?” If not, you may want to scale down.

Ideas to put in that little backpack:

-Coloring book

-Crayons (keep crayons in a small tupperware so they can set it beside them in the seat and have easy access to all colors without dropping crayons all over)

-silly putty

-blank notebook

-Any small favorite doll or stuffed animal. It helps our girls so much to have something to take care of when they are beside themselves, it gives them a greater purpose. :)

-Water bottle-Each girl has one and the flight attendant will fill these up for us. We get super dehydrated so it is nice to have more than a cup full and it takes all pressure off if they bump their tray and their drink falls.

-Something they have never seen before. If you have a lego-responsible child, maybe a small new lego set. If you have lego-dumpers, skip this for your own sanity. Grab a small tupperware so all the pieces can fit in while they build.

Keep it simple, people. The more exciting activities we have, the quicker we work through them and then I have two overstimulated, bugged little kids. Keep that electronic in your back pocket until you see signs of mutiny on the horizon (or you just seriously cannot go on in a parental role because of waves of exhaustion). 

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In the less is more department, they might decide to design a set of puppets out of barf bags.

Speaking of barf bags, I love those things. Rip off the top and use the bottom to hold snacks, crayons or legos, use them as a personal trash can, oh, and teach your kids to use them if they really have to vomit (this saved us).

Extras that I pack for them in my suitcase:

-Over the ear headphones. On international flights, there are usually movies (YAY, Props to all the parents before in-seat personal entertainment) but sometimes just earbuds are provided and those don’t stay in well.

-kids ibuprofen, dramamine and stomach medicine (essential oils if you use)

-Every member of the family has an entire change of clothes (underwear too) in a ziplock bag. Each person, for each bag. If there is an accident or someone has to change, you aren’t digging through for undies and pants, but reach in and grab the right ziplock.

-Snacks: international flights feed you well, but sometimes we are hungry at weird times and domestic flights offer almost nothing in the food department. In our household, we have a child who gets “hangry” (hunger makes her angry). Pack snacks. A few fun ones and others that are filling for a long time. Think snacks that are mouth consuming and pull those out in the case of an emergency, gum, ring pops, tootsie pops, meat sticks, nuts.

If you know when you land, you will have a long wait (going to a rental car office, taking luggage through customs, getting visas, etc) have something that feels new to them that will keep their hands busy and minds full. This is also great bribery…err, I mean positive motivation to get through securities, check in. 

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During long layovers, don’t wait at your gate. Find a deserted area and let the kids run and climb. Bonus if you can find a deserted moving sidewalk because racing your kids while they go the wrong way on those belts (i am on the unmoving ground beside it) blasts through mountains of energy and they think you are the best. 


What’s worked well for you? What tips do you have? I’d love to hear ‘em!

Monday, September 28, 2015


The countdown back to Ethiopia is on. 

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The past months have been intense and amazing. In some ways, it feels like we were in the pressure cooker, as God has taught us many lessons quickly. By God’s grace, we are returning in a healthier spot then when we arrived back on US soil.

Goodbyes have started. I really, really hate this part. If I could fast forward it, I would, but I can’t and saying good goodbyes is vital to our healthy exiting and entering process. I’ve asked people who have lived overseas if the goodbyes get easier and I’ve heard a resounding “Yes” and then a similar response along the lines of, “BUT, it will still always feel like you are getting punched in the stomach”.  

Two years worth of appointments have been checked off our lists (just have to get those cavities filled. Yuck). Purchasing was a process and continues to be, this time, I have so much stuff that is in the fun category to bring back, birthday decorations, Christmas garland, rugs, curtains, chocolate chips, goldfish, etc.

Now, onto puzzling together 8 totes, each at 50 pounds. :)


Monday, September 14, 2015

Across The Border

There’s this part of my heart, tucked in between mountains, outside of a historic Mexican town.

Our family didn’t have as long as we would have liked, but soaked up our few days, reconnecting, and trying to catch up at lightening speed.

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Desert skies

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Jumping on the trampoline

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Friends who through change, never change in their love for God, His glory and their love and support. I’ve got some gold here.

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Shaving with Jon

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I haven’t missed the tarantulas, though fun for The Littles to see. So glad these creatures don’t live at high altitudes!

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Making new friends with patient lovelies.

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Watching afternoon softball

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 Trampoline picnic, sounds a bit dangerous, worked surprisingly well.

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After church, I spent a bit more time with some really special women that have so blessed my life in the past.

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The little girls I remember have turned into beautiful women!

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It’s so amazing to see God’s hand in their lives. There is truly so much life and hope.

Thanks to all our Mexico friends, we dearly love you all! 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


Here are a few picture pieces of the last travels. We’re so blessed.

Driving from CA to AZ, we stopped along the way to meet dear relatives who treated us to brunch.

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Loren and Carol gave the girls a gift and The Littles wanted to change into their new shirts immediately.

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Breaking the ice with cousins and friends we haven’t seen in awhile was sped up by baby dolls and an epic dress up closet. 

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Thanks to all our Arizona family and friends for welcoming us so warmly.  

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Our tribes are downright delightful. California was a noteworthy time of hanging with family, meeting cousins and friends and savoring each moment. 

We went from the airport for an evening at Manhattan Beach.

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Jon loves the ocean and holds it as one of his favorite memories from living in California.

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Chasing fat seagulls

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After the ice was broken with cousins, the girls hung together in the ocean, all holding on to a piece of kelp and yelling things like, “We’ve got to stick together!”

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And I didn’t pull out my camera again the rest of the weekend (bummer) before we drove onto Arizona. Thank you, dear Tom and Jody for hosting! 


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

California Here We Come

 (Written on Friday morning) Sitting in a quiet, small airport, before the rush of the day flights, we’re reminded why we love small airports, quick lines and free wifi.

This is our big hurrah out west, California, Arizona and Mexico.

Some days, we imagine what it would look like to bring our two lives together and it has our whole family laughing. Looking at pictures has been a very grounding thing for us as we remember both worlds and we realize just like we miss our USA tribe, we miss people and places in Ethiopia.


Early morning on the mountain overlooking our house.

(Photo credit Darren

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Neighbors in a nearby town

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English classes during 5 F’s coffee time.

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More during English 

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Hanging out with the “pasture kids” 
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Missing our teammates, Mark and Debbie
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Talk to you again from the Southwest. :)