Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Family time and homemade eggnog in the morning! So much fun! Then we hosted a joyful group in the afternoon. Immanuel...God is with us. That's something to sing about!

My favorite park

On birthdays and special occasions we travel 30 minutes south on a little country road to my favorite park and restaurant. The kids (and Patrick) love playing, I enjoy the nature, and we all enjoy the food. This time we went for Christmas Eve.

Nice catch! (And good throw Patrick!)
Elizabeth gets in the football action with a book in hand!
Feeding this cat was a highlight! He was plump, so it must have been a highlight for others too!
Love their salads
Someone dipping bread into a lamb and prune tagine. Delicious.

Ice Skating

You have to be creative when you live in a land which is always winter and never Christmas. Two Saturdays ago, we drove 2 hours to a big city with a mall which has a skating rink AND a Christmas tree!
Our cute group by the Christmas tree in the mall!

I love this picture! Josiah is the one in the orange in back of Elijah! He's super limber so I'm curious if he actually fell or if he's just doing a trick :)
Fun times!
Elizabeth taking a break at the side. The skating was a bit chaotic with no one in charge, so you need a breather every now and then.
Ice cream after the skating! Yum!
This boy is a chocolate lover like his mom! We both got chocolate and raspberry. Nice!

His kind for a little lamb

H did not want to go to school this year. She had tried it last year (and the year before) but had spent each drop-off time in tears, so didn't complete the year. So we geared up for this first grade year. We prayed for courage for her (and for me!). We asked others to pray for her. We asked that she'd have tender and shepherding teachers. And guess what? She's now happy at school!

I visited her French teacher because she had said that H wasn't doing very well and needed review. She told me that she spends a lot of time talking with her little girlfriends in class (I asked, "In what language?" She didn't know.). She said, "I heard that she cried a lot last year, so I don't want to yell at her." Yippee! An answer to prayer! A shepherding teacher! Generally, teachers hit and yell at the students. I'm so thankful that our little lamb is protected by our Great Shepherd.

Of course later I filled H in on sitting still and paying attention in class. She said, "But what do I do when my friend wants me to draw with my markers on her hand?" She is such a social bug!

In the photo she sits with the books of 3 different languages she is learning. The first is English (1 1/2 hours a week), then Arabic (everyday) and French (everyday). If you are observant you will see that she has her little hamster in her right hand! Your prayers are appreciated for her!

The Children's holiday

At the beginning of this month, our city celebrated a several day festival of sorts. I refer to it as the children's holiday because it is a time for the kids to eat candy, buy trinkets and toys, and to get all dressed up and walk through the city. But really it is named after a martyr in this religion long ago.
This is a mere sampling of the many treats available. I love the peanut brittle type dessert and probably ate this whole thing (chopped up of course! This baby is hard!)
A favorite toy sold is the plastic gun. You are given a handful of pellets and off you go. The lifespan of one of these guns is approximately one day. My boys returned multiple times with their friends to buy more (they are from $1-4).

So, it's a bit of culture shock to have a holiday after a martyr in which you eat candy and buy guns. But maybe that's just me!

Happy Birthday!

A big 7-year-old on December 4! I can't believe it!
We made cinnamon rolls (gluten free!) for the AM and of course put in some candles and sang.
We visited our friends, 1 hour north of us, for the day and had this cake with
a ladybug m-n-m decoration.
She visited with a little friend and ate ice cream at her favorite place!
The next day, our neighbor made her a tart and her 3 boys each made her a present.
Very thoughtful!

May our sweet little girl grow more and more in love with her Savior this year.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Big Holiday--Killing the Sheep

Our neighbor is pulling a sheep from his car as the excited children await it's arrival. We went to a neighbor's roof to watch them kill their sheep and I overheard their 3-year-old sing (translated), "OK, sacrifice! OK, sacrifice!" This is part of their heritage, much like a Christmas tree is for ours. In our neighborhood, it seems more of a tradition and community requirement than a religious holiday (similar to a secularist in the states celebrating Christmas).
The killing was very humane (or so I'm told, don't have too much experience in this area!). We spent the time at our friends' house and enjoyed their company.
Patrick, remembering his old 4H skills, helped out.
Some of the neighborhood boys made some good money by setting up a charcoal fire and charring the sheep heads and feet. People usually eat these the second day (tomorrow) over couscous.
The skinned sheep.
OK, this is part of the first days meal. It's the lung, stomach, small intestine, and esophagus all cooked together in a tagine with savory sauce. Amazingly, it's good (except for the esophagus, in my opinion. It's too crunchy.), though my stomach is a little weird now and I'm thankful that I won't be seeing this for another year!
They also grill the liver wrapped in fat, the heart, and the spleen. Everyone that we know does it this way. We smelled the exact same smells all throughout the town.
I learned today how to braid the small intestine, had sheep poop fall on my shoes as the stomach was cleaned out, and almost gagged when cutting up the lung. What a day! Though not all easy, we are thankful to be living among a people that need light.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Two front teeth and catching up

There we have it! All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth! She just lost the second one today and then proceeded to gnaw on some cheese with difficulty. She is such a little sunbeam. catch up a bit over the past few months...
We have had visitors both locally and from America.

The kids have started school. H is the only one at our little local school and she is enjoying it most days. She has made friends and loves her pencil case.

We spent a day at the Roman ruins overlooking our city.

We celebrated a birthday! He turned 4 times 11.

We had about 4 hours to explore Paris on the way to a conference. So stunning!

We celebrated our 17th anniversary. I married a winner.

We acquired 2 hamsters and a gerbil. Doesn't JP look a bit like the grinch in the picture? So thankful that his heart is larger!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Looks yummy, but what about the inside?

Proverbs in our country are very popular. One that I like to use with my friends translates, "The outside looks beautiful, but what about the inside?" They laugh and then it can open a conversation of how people look good on the exterior, but their heart, what's it like? We don't know the depth of deceit in our own hearts, but we certainly know that there are wrong motives and pride lurking. It's a proverb that people understand, though not always to the depth that it convicts.

This is a culture that strives for good appearances, even in their food. These beautiful cookies truly look elegant on the outside, but beware! Blandness lurks beneath the surface! It's funny to me how this proverb can apply to these lovely but yucky morsels too! How about you? You're looking good, but how's your inside today? xxoo

Friday, July 15, 2011

Age 15!

We love you and are so glad you are in our family! June 22nd was a happy day 15 years ago in Evanston, IL.

A birthday fish!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

"We love you Miss Hannigan"

Last night I was getting ready to go to an engagement party. It was a fancy and glittery party so I was making my makeup dark. It definitely wasn't as bold as the stunning "Cleopatra" eyes that I saw there, but for my normal near-naked eyes it was something different.

John was watching me. Hair clipped up, eye shadow on, red shimmery dress in place. He said, "You look like that lady in Annie."

"You mean Miss Hannigan??!!" I half laughed and half shuttered.

"Yeah," he said.

"What about Cinderella?" I said, trying to get him to rethink the matter! Cracked me up!

Carol Burnett kind of reminded me of my mom, so I took comfort in that. Well, sort of.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

9 years old already!

Can't believe that the little buddy is already 9!
He requested coconut cream pie. Smart boy! I hadn't made them for years so was surprised at how easy my recipe was. We'll be making this one again!
There are a group of teachers here for 2 weeks doing seminars for kindergarten teachers in our city. They are doing a fantastic job. We were happy that they could celebrate with us!

May the God of hope bless you, JP, and fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Thankful for another year

The end of May brought a pumpkin pie, some homemade cards, and a grateful heart.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Free to be Mii

We live in a very hospitable culture. I learn so much from these dear ladies with their generosity with their food, the cleanliness of their homes, and the time that they spend with each unannounced guest. Being a westerner, I am accustomed to schedules and purposeful meetings. So hospitality here is a learned art for me. In the past when guests came, my children would greet them and then run to another floor to do computer games, etc. I would then be left with my guest for about 2-3 hours by myself in our "salon" (like a fancy living room). I didn't like this because it made me feel like my life was split--take off the mom hat and put on the entertaining hat.

So now we do something a bit different. We try to include the guests into our lives, I want to wear the two hats at once. I know that sounds basic, but here the children are usually running outside while the mother is receiving guests. So if my child isn't outside kicking a soccer ball, I try to include them in. For example, playing the wii together! My young friend (pictured above), who used to be my tutor, created a cute little mii figure and got to know my kids better in the process. She was a bad Mario racer, but hey, we had a lot of laughs.
(I love the beauty mark that she wanted!)
In having this attitude of inviting people into our lives during tea time, it has released me from the nagging culture questions, "Is this how they do it? Am I offending someone by serving the tea with no mint? Am I doing this 'right?'" It has given me freedom to be me (or mii) and love them with the wisdom that I've asked for from above. He will be faithful to show me how to best serve...I can therefore enjoy the process.