Friday, August 31, 2012

Polio: An American Story

I just finished reading Polio: An American Story by David M. Oshinsky. I borrowed it from our friends Nick & Kristy. I don't get to read nearly as much as I would like -- usually just for about 30 minutes before I fall asleep. So when I do read, I really like to capitalize on learning at the same time.

I was hesitant with this book but thought it had potential when I picked it up off of Nick and Kristy's shelf. So I gave it a try. Folks, it was fantastic. Oshinky wrote a detailed history of this disease while not boring me even a little bit. I'm still not sure how he did it. How do you entertain a layperson (me!) with the history of a scientific disease and the race for a cure.

Things I learned that I didn't know before:
  • Polio was a relatively uncommon disease -- but incredibly feared.
  • It was made so incredibly popular by Roosevelt succumbing to the disease in his 30's.
  • It received an incredible amount of fundraising despite the fact that it effected a relatively small percentage of people.
  • Many children and adults were injured or killed as the result of polio by a bad batch of the vaccine in the first year of dispensation.
  • There is a huge difference between a live and dead virus vaccine.
Nigeria, as I learned when we travelled there on a mission trip, was incredibly effected by polio, even recently, when a rumor spread that the vaccines were tainted with HIV. This rumor was, obviously, false, but created a fear of the vaccine, and thus, a large number of children who were effected by it well past the almost-obliteration of it around the world.

I don't want to get into a huge debate about vaccines for children, but I believe our parents never debated the need to vaccinate because they were some of the first recipients of the polio vaccine. Our grandparents were effected but our parents were spared because of brilliant scientific minds. Yes, some people are negatively effected by vaccines, but as you read this book, you are reminded that the risk is definitely worth it.

Awesome book! If you like historical pieces, you'll love this -- even if you aren't really into science (because I'm not.)

Friday Funnies

While putting spray-n-wash on one of the boys' shirts, Sidge asked me what I was doing. I told him that I was putting special spray on it to stop the ketchup from staining the shirt. Isaac heard what I said and asked, "Does ketchup stain our mouths?" No, I told him. "Oh. It only stains clothes. Not mouths. Right, Mommy?"
Me: "JB, could you please take a look at all the little bugs on the bathroom ceiling."
JB: "What are they?"
Me: "I have no idea."
JB: "Well, what do they look like?"
Me: "Like mini moths."
Sidge: "Minney Mouse!?"
Me: "No. Not Minney Mouse. She's not in the bathroom. There are mini moths."
The boys were carrying a bunch of stuff to go upstairs. I told them we would take the elevator instead. Excited, we climbed aboard. Sometimes, if you don't hold the buttons just right, when you get to the second floor, you can't open the door, and your only choice is to ride it back down and start again. On the way back down, their new toys and excitement bubbling all over them, Isaac turned to me and said, "Mom. I think we'll just take the stairs."
Sidge busted out the flashlight one day, and Scrubby, went crazy. (Our dog likes to chase flashlights as you can see in this video.) He was barking so loudly though in excitement, that Abigail got scared, and we told Sidge he had to put the flashlight away. "Okay Mommy. But he woofed. Did you hear him woof?"
Sidge came into the bathroom to take a bath. "But first I need to go potty."
Me: "Okay. And then second you will get in the bathtub."
Sidge: "And then what about eight?"
Sidge will often tell me he has to go to the bathroom. I will say, "Okay." But I need to say. "Okay. Hold on. We are going to go find a bathroom." Because, for instance, if he says this in the van, and we get out of the van, I will turn, and he has taken my "Okay" as "Okay, yes, you may drop your drawers and pee right here on the median. Go for it." Which is not what I was intending at all. This morning, he did this outside the coffee shop. Then, as we were leaving the Commisssary, both boys told me they needed to pee even though we had just been in the grocery store and I had asked them if they needed to go. But when you are holding baby, bags, juggling keys, and holding the hands of two boys, you don't want to go back into the store. So you pick a tree. As they were going on the tree I said, "Guys, in the future. Let's go potty when we are in the store. Okay?" And Sidge, once again, said, "Mom. Is it the future now?" Oh well.
Abigail is rarely on the "Friday Funnies" but I thought it might be fun to put a video of her on here showing her own style. Here she is dressed up in shoes she picked out and a hat she brought us. In fact, this morning, she brought us two skirts and insisted on having them put on on top of each other.

Bumbo Recall

If you own a Bumbo seat, you need to contact the company for a latch that can be added to the seat. The new latch is shown in the picture above. The previous Bumbos did not include the latch.

I like the Bumbo. I'm not a die-hard fan. But I'm a sort-of-fan. I don't think anyone should shell out the money for one since your child can only use them for a very short period of time. This period is from the point they can hold up their own head -- until the point that they can wriggle out of them. Or in other words, about 4-8 months. Borrow one from a friend and enjoy allowing your child to sit up and see the world before they can do so unassisted.

The product is nice because it's lightweight. It's easy to carry around. And you can wipe it down easily.

Here's a no-brainer. Don't put up on a high surface. It's intended for use on the ground.

Another no-brainer. Child can fall out of it. Watch the child in it.

But because people lack the brain cells needed to take care of their children, Bumbo has to foot the bill. Here's the recall information for the product. listed the recall on their Facebook page. I admit that I rolled my eyes when I read there was a recall. But I didn't realize how much my feelings would be mirored in the comments I read on the Facebook page. I laughed out loud at some of the comments from parents when they heard about the recall.
  • "ugh - they need a recall on the stupid parents."
  • "I think some people's reproductive systems should be recalled."
  • "They say that Bumbo will send a repair kit. . . . but you can't fix STUPID."
  • "Agreed, we have one is all about common sense. Should we recall changing tables if you leave your baby on top of one unattended?"
And that was just four of the 1,000+ comments about the recall.

When my little ones first started wanting to sit up but couldn't do so unassisted, I'd set them in a sea of pillows so that they could see the world but fall over and not get hurt. I didn't leave them sitting by themself. I was very close to them. When I used the Bumbo I did it the same way. We even put it on a counter sometimes. But we were always right there. Using it to help them see the world. Not allowing them to see the world by themselves.

I'm up in the air about getting the seatbelt attachment. It wouldn't hurt. Obviously. But I'm really not sure I need it or that I would even use it. I put my kids in the Bumbo, on the carpet, and I sit next to them.

I fear that no person will ever be able to invent a product again that isn't eventually slammed down by all these regulations and requirements. Yes, children's safety should be considered. But when you are talking about 4 million Bumbos and you are only talking about 2 dozen injuries -- I think we have to look at the caregivers.

Just my two cents.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I will have a housekeeper for the rest of my life

After living abroad for my third year, I have learned many things. But I am convinced of only one thing.

I will have a housekeeper for the rest of my life.

I have hesitated to write this post because I am a doctor's wife. I fear that people will look at me and say, "Well of course you will. You are a doctor's wife."

Doctor's Wife
Firstly let me say that I am the doctor of a military wife. Big difference. I am also the wife of a family practice doctor. Another big difference. We are not rolling in the dough.

Do we have money? Yes. Are we more well off than the vast majority of the world? Yes. I am not ignorant to this by any means. So please keep that in mind.

Both Sides of the Financial Spectrum
In addition, my mother was a housekeeper for most of my childhood. Another small caveat that I believe is worth noting. Part of this caveat is the truth of how both JB and I grew up. I grew up with a family living paycheck to paycheck. We skipped Christmases sometimes. We lived in a trailer park. JB's families faced the same financial stresses. There was always enough for the needs but seldom enough for the wants. So I understand both sides of the financial spectrum.

But let me tell you that the amount of money we are making has almost nothing to do with my decision to have a housekeeper. Instead it has everything to do with the priorities I am choosing for my life.

A Warped Perspective
Americans see having a housekeeper as something only the rich do. This is so very contrary to much of Europe and other parts of the world. For them, a housekeeper is a way to free up more of their time. It is a way to spread the wealth and provide jobs.

I find it especially interesting that we as Americans are so against housekeepers and yet we spend money on items that are so much more frivolous than a housekeeper. Leases on cars? Cell phones? Television? Dryers? Gas? These are all luxuries that most people outside of the western world would not even consider.

I have come to believe that we as a society are truly spending money on ALL the wrong things. Our priorities have gotten majorly screwed up, and as a result, I believe that we as a society have begun to make choices that just do not make sense.

The Minutia
So I scoured the Internet for some data. Please note that I know these numbers cannot possibly represent every American family. Your family may be very different. The numbers may not be correct. I don't have hours to scrutinize minutia. Let's not argue the little things. Let's look at the overall picture and the theme of what I am getting at.

What We Americans are Spending
Let's start by taking a look at the things Americans spend money on:
  • $91 a month on coffee ($1,092 annually)*
  • $123 a month on gas ($1,476 annually)*
  • $731 a month on automobile costs ($8,776 annually) -- includes insurance, gas, depreciation, and other expenses*
  • $58 a month on Christmas gifts ($700 annually)*
  • $88 a month on gifts in general ($1,067 annually)%
  • $50 a month on cell phone ($606 annually)*
  • $118 a month for electricity ($1,419 annually)*
  • $158 a month for iPhone users ($1,900 annually)*
  • $128 a month for pets ($1,542 annually)*
  • $30 a month on shoes ($370 annually)*
  • $8 a month for watching sports ($100 annually)*
  • $70 a month on soft drinks ($840 annually)*
  • $225 a month on eating out ($2700 anually)+%
  • $67 a month on alcohol/tobacco ($804 annually)%
  • $52 a month on fees and admissions ($628 annually)%
  • $81 a month TV/radio expenses ($975 annually)%
Housekeeping Costs
The average cost of a housekeeper is between $75 and $100 a week. This would work out to approximately $400 a month. An average American spends approximately 13 hours a week cleaning their house.# That works out to 52 hours a month. So if the average cost of having your house cleaned is $400 a month that means that you are paying someone approximately $7.69 an hour to do your cleaning! In addition, you could hire someone only every other week for only $200 a month.

Items in Red
I look at that as 13 extra hours a week that I can spend with my family. And that is what I do with the time. Now let's look at the items in red above. It is my belief that these items are completely unnecessary for our lives. And these things equal $534 a month. This means that you could pick one or two of these items to keep and still have enough money for a housekeeper. Would you be willing to give up TV, eating out, coffee, soft drinks, and alcohol/tobacco to have 13 more hours a week with your family?

Items in Blue
Now let's take a look at the items in blue. Firstly let's take the cell phone/iPhone. Americans now seem to believe that these are mandatory items for their life. I completely disagree. I have not had a cell phone for the last three years of my life and have enjoyed every single minute of that freedom!

But even if these items are considered mandatory, I am sure we could all decrease the amount we spend on those items. Either downgrading or having a phone with prepaid minutes that is truly "only for emergencies" is possible.

Electricity is another thing that I think we take for granted in America. We can't cut that out altogether, obviously. But let's take people in both Turkey and the Azores. Most have electricity. But they do not have dryers. A dryer takes up an incredible amount of electricity and is considered incredibly wasteful. I would much rather use a clothesline and have a housekeeper. Would you?

And then there is an automobile. It is not usually considered frivolous in the U.S. to have a second vehicle or to lease a better vehicle than you really need. How many people spend $400 a month (or more!) to lease or make payments on a vehicle. Wouldn't you rather drive a lesser vehicle and have more time each month for your family?

In Summary
Here's my point. You can choose not to have a housekeeper. If this is not something that stresses you out and you feel that you have enough time for it, by all means, keep cleaning your own house. But I am sure we all feel that there are things we just don't have enough time for in our life. We want to exercise more. We want to eat better. If you had an extra 13 hours a week, you could exercise every day. you could spend time cooking a healthy meal. But I do think we are spending our money in the wrong places. While a family vacation is a wonderful thing, the average family vacation costs approximately $1500. Most families take two vacations a year. I would gladly give up one of those family vacations to have a housekeeper come every other week. In my opinion the time at home with my children is of much more value than the opportunity to take a trip.

Just my two cents. I'd love to hear from you on the topic. I grew up thinking that housekeepers were only for the rich and famous. But leasing a car was for everyone. Fast food was for everyone. Cell phones were for everyone. Cable was for everyone. I think that is quite backwards. I think a housekeeper should be for everyone. It would help provide jobs, and it would help us spend more time where we really should. Get rid of the cell phone and cable today and a vehicle you can't afford, and hire someone to help.

I'd love to get some dialogue going on this. Comment away. (Joy, I got this done as quick as I could. Your husband needs some resources ... fast!)

Housekeeper Part II

+ The Spending Habits of the Average American
* How Much You Spend Each Year on Coffee, Gas, Christmas, Pets, Beer, and More
% Top 10 Things Americans Waste Money On
^ The Average Cost of Maid Service
# 2012 Leap Year study by CLR: How much time do people spend cleaning house?
@ Average American Summer Vacation Costs over $1,600

Other articles on this topic:

What's the deal?

I recently read an advice column letter. Here was the question:


Best friend has child. Her: exhausted, busy, no time for self, no time for me, etc. Me (no kids): Wow. Sorry. What'd you do today? Her: Park, play group . . .
Okay. I've done Internet searches, I've talked to parents. I don't get it. What do stay-at-home moms do all day? Please no lists of library, grocery store, dry cleaners . . . I do all those things, too, and I don't do them EVERY DAY. I guess what I'm asking is: What is a typical day and why don't moms have time for a call or e-mail? I work and am away from home nine hours a day (plus a few late work events) and I manage to get it all done. I'm feeling like the kid is an excuse to relax and enjoy -- not a bad thing at all -- but if so, why won't my friend tell me the truth? Is this a peeing contest ("My life is so much harder than yours")? What's the deal? I've got friends with and without kids and all us child-free folks get the same story and have the same questions.
I'll let you click over to the website yourself if you want to read the advice columnist physically constrain herself from jumping through the computer to strangle the woman as she attempts a civil answer.

In my opinion, anyone who wonders what this woman questioned in writing, needs to just spend one week with three small children and a big dog in a country where there is no support from any family. Therir question will be answered. This woman obviously has not been around children at all. Or the ones she has been around were abnormal and well past the age where they needed soemone to: (a) make their food (b) feed them their food (c) change their clothes (d) wipe their bottoms (e) put them to sleep (f) watch them at all times ... (you get the idea.)
This reminds me of an event in our lives while we were in Turkey. The housing people decided that they wanted to move our sliding glass door lock from the top of the door to the bottom. They said that this was to keep up to fire code. My husband and I, naturally, thought this was a terrible idea. So my husband emailed the man in charge of the decision. Here was the exchange that occurred.
John: "I wanted to ask you why you decided to put the locks to the sliding glass doors on the bottom of the doors."
Man-in-charge: "It's to keep with fire code. Children need to be able to open the doors and get out of the house if there is a fire."
John: "Right, but I have two two-year-olds. They know how to open these locks and they can let themselves outside."
Man-in-charge: "Yes, they need to be able to do that in the case of a fire."
John: "Right, but they can do it when there is not a fire. I think the likelihood of a fire is much lower than the likelihood of them opening the lock and getting out of the house."
Man-in-charge: "If your child is being left alone long enough that they can open the door themselves, then they are not being properly supervised."
Eeeeeeekkkkkkkkk! Talk about wanting to jump through the computer and physically strangle someone. Is this man being supervised? My husband stopped the email communication at that point. He was obviously speaking to someone who had no reality of what it meant to watch a toddler all day long. (And therefore he especially didn't know what it felt like to watch two of them.) When, may I ask, should I use the bathroom? When, may I ask, should I make that toddler food? And when, in the name of all that is realistic, should I change the brother's diaper?
There is no point, in my opinion, in detailing all the things that a stay-at-home mom does and why it is so hard. I'm not comparing myself to other women and how hard their life is. I have done different lives. All of them have been hard.
  • I was a Division I college athlete while maintaining a 3.8GPA. Not easy. Very hard. Very tired. Exhausted continually. My days were very hard.
  • I was a teacher and a coach for five years. I worked seventy hour weeks. My days were very hard.
  • I worked as a writer and an editor and my husband was in medical school full-time. This was not as hard of a period of my life. But it was still challenging being as my husband really couldn't help me with anything.
  • I worked at home forty hours a week while my husband was an intern in his medical residency. This was lonely. Not fun. Hard.
  • I worked twenty hours a week from home during Isaac's first year of life. This was quite challenging.
  • I had two baby boys 8.5 months apart while my husband was doing his residency and serving as chief resident. That was very hard.
  • And now I am a stay-at-home mom of three children under four (and a big dog). I could write a whole post detailing what I do every day. There really isn't a point. Let me just say that it is hard to have three little kids and a big dog.
I don't think we need to compare our lives to the lives of others. I am not aruging that this woman who wrote this note does not have hard days. I am sure she does. But to think that a stay-at-home mom's life is easy. This is where I must draw the line.

An Epiphany Folding Laundry

I didn't write this article (below). I found it online -- on our MOPS.ORG website. But I love it. And I could have written it. Nearly every word. I am organized person. LOVE to be organized. But in the midst of that, some things just have to slide. It has to be okay to take short cuts. What shortcuts do you say are a-okay to take? Here are my favorites:
  • Burp cloths go in a big basket in the laundry room -- unfolded.
  • JB's boxers, my underwear, kids underwear, and all socks do not have to be matched when put away. I do match Abigail's (because I will have to anyways to put them on her) but the boys are now old enough to find their own matches!
  • I have the boys help me with anything and everything now. I put dishes that they use where they can reach them. I place the cereal at their level. Their shoes are in the hallway where they can put them away. They pick out their own clothes and put dirty clothes in the laundry. Anything that is "helpable" I let them help with.
  • I don't iron really ... anything. If it's a tad wrinkled -- oh well. If I have to iron it, I do ... a little. But I have never ironed any of the kids' clothes. A little wrinkled is cute. Don't you think? (Okay, maybe not. But you get the idea.)
  • The kids' clothes are sorted and stored in the laundry room. This saves a trip with all the clothes upstairs and back downstairs again. They stay downstairs. This has been a brilliant move on my part (an idea I stole from the Duggars family) -- but of course you need a laundry room that is big enough to handle this and a house that requires it as well. 
  • A housekeeper (aka "not-just-for-doctor's-wives-anymore) -- stay tuned. I am prepping for a big soap box story on this soon!
  • I keep a toothbrush for me and the kids in all the bathrooms so that we don't have to be in a certain place to get the job done. I also keep extra soap and shampoo in the downstairs shower in case I get a moment to take a shower but don't want to have to do it upstairs.
  • The thing I am most working on that I took from this story below is that this is MY house -- it needs to work for me. Who cares if that jar of pens is in an obnoxious place. It doesn't matter. You need to put stuff where you need them. Period. It's your house. It has to be a lived-in house.
By: Wendy Soberg

Several years ago I found myself in a familiar spot, sitting on the couch in a sea of clean laundry covering the living room furniture. I was folding my 3- and 4-year-old daughters' tiny underwear and balancing them onto a precarious pile. As the pile grew, thoughtful adjustments were needed in how the panties were placed, lest the pile topple and my hard work come undone. Then all of a sudden it hit me: I do not have to fold the panties. Or anyone else's underwear, for that matter.

My mother had always folded our underwear neatly when I was growing up. But, really, why not toss them into the bureau drawer, close it, and be no worse for the wear?

I remember this moment because it marks one of my first conscious decisions to make life simpler after my children came along. The 24/7 nature of caring for the demands of a family, home, and part-time career left little time or energy for serious examination of my routines and habits. Sitting there in the laundry pile, tossing panties into my basket, I felt fantastic. I was buying back precious minutes for things that were more important to me than how neat the girls' underwear drawer looked. I was energized.

Eager to share this news mom-to-mom, I called an old friend and fellow mother of toddlers. "I've decided to stop folding the girls' panties and do things that are more important to me," I said, to which she replied, "You still fold your laundry?"

She and her husband had decided long ago that the family's laundry could go directly from dryer to drawer with no stops in between. While I couldn't commit to her "whole hog" approach to the laundry, I was determined to find other ways I could simplify and make things more manageable.
Soon I found an opportunity. I began to notice myself walking around the house delivering items like toys, hair clips, books, laundry, and mail to places that always seemed to be somewhere other than where I was currently standing. While that is one way rack up steps on a pedometer, I found it irritating. About that time, a certified professional organizer came to our local MOPS group. “Don't try to make your home look like something out of a magazine,” she advised. “Store things where you use them, even if it is less stylish, so you locate things quickly and stop wandering around your house wasting time.”

This time, I was all in. We bought shelves and stored our children's toys right in our living room rather than carrying them back to the "play room" our kids never used. I tossed washcloths and towels (unfolded, of course) in a kitchen drawer to quickly wipe up milk spills and gooey faces. Our desk moved close to the kitchen where we could drop the mail on it easily and pay bills while the kids played. I bought duplicates of cleaning supplies and toiletries to fully stock each bathroom. And, the ubiquitous barrettes and ponytail holders got homes pretty much everywhere, so they could be tossed in and pulled out at the drop of a hat.

To be sure, the rapid transition to family life sometimes catches us by surprise, and our old routines and habits don't always support our new requirements. If the answer to the question "Why am I doing X?" is "that's what my mom did" or "that's what we've always done," it might be time for a change. After all, my grandmother used to iron her sheets. I've just stopped folding the panties.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Grampa's "in the club"

No big surprise that the boys were SOOO excited to see Grampa and Grama. Abigail, though, is at that wonderful age where only Mommy and Daddy really rank in her book. In Turkey, she included Hatice on that list, but she hasn't really included anyone here.

Until now. Grampa has instantly attained a very high rank in Abigail's book. Maannnnn does she love her Grampa.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Why Men Die First

There's an email circulating. I don't like circulating emails. Don't like forwards at all. But this one, from my friend Anu, made me laugh outloud. Oh men. Gotta love 'em!


Somehow the boys and I got on the conversation of the ID I have to show the guards each time I enter and exit the Base. It's nothing like Turkey mind you. Here, I flash an ID and I go through. I flash an ID and I go out. No scanning and questions and dogs and intense scrutiny. But we started talking about this ID. And they started asking why they didn't have one. Not until you are 12 do you need an ID. At least that is the military's rule. But we came up with our own rule.

They needed an ID!

So, first we took photos. It's amazing how cooperative (and cute) they can be when there is something in it for them!

And here they are with their finished product. We printed the pictures in color and used some cool laminating paper I had ordered off Amazon a few weeks ago. We didn't let Daddy touch it because if had gotten his hands on it, the guards were thinking it was really an original! Mommy the non-former-graphic-designer did it all by herself. The boys were so excited with the final product:

They wish the guards would look a little closer at them when we go through, but they keep them by their seats in the car. They are proud of them. And so am I! Quite a "crafty" thing for little ol' me.

Family-Style VBS

The Chapel on Base had a "Family-Style" VBS (Vacation Bible School) on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evening last week. While we only made it two out of the three evenings, what a fun time we had! The Chapel provided dinner. Then we played a family game, and had a time of worship. (All three kids joined a song leader on the stage for songs with motions!)

After that, the kids went to their own classroom for a lesson while the adults received the same lesson ... grown-up style. That way we could come back together and talk about what we learned. The night ended with dessert -- ice cream one evening and popsicles another.

As our children get older, JB and I have been more and more encouraged to make Christ the center of our family. While he has always been there for JB and me, his presence sometime went unspoken. We knew He was there. No need to talk about it. But with our boys, and eventually with Abigail, we feel the need to make our home continually revolve around his presence. "Isn't that sky beautiful? God made that."

I'm also trying to maximize on the sponge-like learning of my children. They won't always be learning at the rate they are. How can we maximize on this time and teach them things that will stay with them for the rest of their life? Bible verses. Character traits.

Now is the time to grow these boys into men (and Abigail the female version of course) who will change our generation for the Lord. I have only two prayers for my children. The first is that they will love the Lord. The second is that they will be happy people who enjoy life. That's it. I don't care about their job. I don't care if they go to college. I just want them to find happiness and the Lord.

I can't control either of these two hopes. But my hope is that if I show them the Lord, happiness will follow. "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

Will you serve him with me?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Do Not Fear


Thank you to the makers of Goldfish for making S'mores Goldfish. And thank you to my friend Jaime, a great college friend who remembers us with care packages more often than I deserve. These things are A-W-E-S-O-M-E. My only fear is that the kids won't get much of them at all since Mom keeps snacking on them. So yummy! We don't get them on Base, but we will gladly accept them in care packages at any time. Yum!!!!

They are here!!!

Our Grampa and Grama Kitsteiner are here!!!!! We are beyond excited. Here's a quick video from their arrival at 6:55 on Sunday morning. Three weeks with them all to ourself is soooo exciting!

Saturday, August 25, 2012


I remember watching Dumbo as a kid. I cried because it was sad. Sad because Dumbo's mommy missed her son, and he couldn't be with her.
And then I watched Dumbo as a grown-up. And I cried again. I cried because it was sad. I was still sad because Dumbo's mommy missed him. But mainly I cried at another part. You know when the stork was bringing all the animals their babies? Dumbo's mommy watched as all the animals got babies. But she didn't get one. She was sad. And I was sad for her. Because I knew how it feels.
Today I am 35. Most of my friends have children in school. My cousin Sarah, who got pregnant with her son Tyler the year JB and I thought we'd start having kids, had a son in 2003. My Isaac didn't join us for another five years. I was Dumbo's Mommy. I was watching everyone else have their babies. And wondering when the stork would bring my little miracle.
But He did. Not the stork. But my heavenly Father. His timing is unbelievably perfect. I wouldn't change anything. I wouldn't change the person I am because of all that pain. I wouldn't change the compassion I have. And I definitely wouldn't change the exact children we have. I never thought I'd say I'm glad for the pain. But I am. I'm actually ... thankful. Thankful for the experience. And thankful the stork brought my babies a little later than everyone else.

A buncha videos of our lady

  • Walking backwards Abigail has recently perfected backward walking! This little video is short and sweet.
  • Abigail signing please Our little lady is signing "please" and "all done" with great tenacity now. "Please" is supposed to be a belly rub. She does more of a side of the leg whap.
  • Helping with the laundry I am continually amazed at how different little girls are from boys. Abigail is so into what I am doing all day long. She wants to help with things. She tries to put on her own shoes, tries to put on clothes. Here she is attempting to help me with the laundry -- until she finds her brother's pajama shirt -- a favorite to try and put on.
  • Abigail setting up animals Abigail is quite fun to play with. She absolutely loves when you sit down to play with her.
  • Abigail playing A video she didn't know I was taking -- watching her play with her toys.
  • Helping with dishes Abigail understands so much of what I say -- even though she doesn't have any words. I don't remember having such detailed conversations with the boys when they were her age.
  • A very patient brother Both boys are amazing with Abigail, but Isaac seems to have a really special connection with her. He is so patient and loving with her. He's always looking out for her and putting up with her -- as you can see from this video.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday Funnies

Isaac is constantly trying to make deals with us. He is one step ahead of us and quickly making his way to trying to work things out his way. Here are some examples:
In the van on the way to Family Vacation Bible School, the boys told me they were hungry. I told them that I had food but that it was not the kind of food we could eat in the van. "It's applesauce and yogurt," I explained. "We need to be sitting down to eat them." Isaac responded, "But Mama, we are sitting down."
Isaac often likes to read while he is in his bed during nap time. Naps are hard to come by lately -- the boys just don't really need them anymore. But I still require them to stay in their beds for 90 minutes. I went in and told Isaac he needed to be quieter because he might wake up sister. "Mom," he said. "That wasn't me. It was just my stuff (aka stuffed animals)."
Me: "Can I have one of your snacks Isaac?"
Isaac: "No thanks."
Me: "Well, I'd like just one."
Isaac: "Okay, but next time please eat your own snack."
Me: "Head upstairs for bed. You can each pick out two books to read."
Isaac: "How 'bout four?"
Me: "No, I said two. Pick out two books."
Isaac: "Okay. I'll pick out three."
I told Isaac he needed to put some shorts on. "What if your friends come over?" I said. "You don't want to be walking around in your underwear if your friends come over." He put his hand on  my back and replied, "If my friends come over, I'll put some shorts on Mommy. Okay?"
After a day on Base, we headed home for naps. Before Isaac went down for a nap, he had to go to the bathroom. When I went to put his pants back on, I just helped into his underwear and left his shorts on the nightstand. An hour later, Isaac emerged from his room to go to the bathroom again. I again, helped him back into his undewear.
Isaac: "Where are my shorts mom?"
Me: "You only had underwear on, Isaac."
Isaac: "But when we went somewhere before I had my pants on."
Me: "But I took them off before your nap."
Isaac: "Oh. Okay. I forgot."
Dad: "I need to wipe your face. You have ice cream all over it."
Isaac: "No I don't. While I was eating it, it melted while I was eating it."


And of course, we have to have some funnies from Sidge too. Here is our Sidge boy in greatest form:
Sidge: "Zebras say zzzzzz."
Sidge: "If anyone messes up my puzzles, I'm going to be willy mad at them."
Me: "You can be mad Sidge, but not at them. You need to forgive them. But you are allowed to be upset."
Sidge: "I'll just be upset at myself. Okay mom?"
Sidge decided to kill a spider in the corner all by himself. I told him to get a paper towel. He returned with a baby wipe. "Ummm, you can use that," I said. "But in the future, why don't you use a paper towel?"
Sidge: "Okay Mommy," and then a pause as he considered that he has no idea what I meant. "Ummm, Mommy? Is it the future?"
The boys often want to sleep in just their underwear, but we don't allow them to walk around the house in their underwear. When Sidge asked me why, I replied by saying. "Well, what if one of your friends came over? They would see your underwear."
Sidge: "And then they would smell our buns?"
Me: "Sidge, those are not nice table manners."
Sidge: "Are they mean?"

Daddy Date (Part II)

Sidge and JB spent their day together doing outdoorsy things. They went to the local organic market together, ate ice cream way too early in the morning, and had some adventure time climbing on the rocks that surround this entire island. Here are some pictures from their day.

These flowers actually are edible and actually taste like saltwater!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Daddy Date Part I

We have really been trying to make it a priority to spend time with the boys, individually. Because they are basically the same age and like the same things and are the same sex, we have found that Abigail often gets time with just one of us and the boys get time with just us. But they don't get time without their brother in tow.
JB decided to take Isaac to a bull fight. The first time they tried to go on a "double date" with Nick and his oldest son Noah, it was rained out. But the make-up date was a success! Isaac doesn't get his own seat. He has to sit on JB's lap. But they had a wonderful time watching the events which included beautiful horses and bright colors and plenty of ice cream and donuts. Here are some pictures from their night on the town!


Good Boy

Dryer people come to the gate. Scrubby greets them. He barks repetitively to let us know that someone is here. Our doggie-doorbell if you will. It's strange when your front door is a gate and not a door. I still don't know what to make of that. Or how to use it.

I tell them the dryer people that it's okay. I've learned how to say, in Portuguese, that he doesn't bite. I open the gate. Scrubs allows them to come in. I am so proud of how he is handling visitors. This is exactly what a dog should do. Alert you to the presence of a new person, but when you accept the new person, the dog should accept the new person. Scrubs has been doing exactly that.

I walk them into the dryer room and grab a few doggie treats off the shelf in the laundry room. I have found that if I have treats, Scrubs is more interested in me and leaves the visitors alone. It works, but midway, he sees that they have pulled the dryer out from the wall and it spooks him. He starts barking at both men -- confused about this dryer and obviously feeling that it might be some sort of outer space machine that could kill us all. I decide to put him in another room so they can fix the spaceship in peace.

I take the remaining treats and quickly tuck them in the waste band of my shorts. Didn't want the kids grabbing them off a counter that I might have set them on, and unable to return them to the doggie container they came from since it is in the cabinet next to where the men are working.

Later, after the men fixed the dryer and we said good bye and thank you in Portuguese, I released Scrubby. I gave him the remaining treats.

And yet he continued to follow me around the house. Sniffing me. Annoying me. Wouldn't leave me alone.

When, an hour later, I sat down to drink a glass of water and sat on one of his treats, I figured out why. One of the bones had slid down and was stuck in the my underwear. I was wearing running shorts, with attached underwear, I didn't feel the treat or know it was there until I sat on it.

Now broken, it was no worse for the wear so I tossed it to Scrubby.

He ate it merrily.

And immediately stopped following me around the house.

Good boy.

Fun times.

Look forward

I just read this on my friend Stebb's blog. Stebb's is in DC now -- talk about a huge change! In addition, they've been withou their "stuff" for much longer than expected. Well, their wait is over and the crates pulled into the driveway today. Oh what a great feeling.

I loved the way Sarah put life when you are moving. She wrote: I remember before we left Turkey, our friend Dan made a comment at dinner that I loved. He said that he couldn't wait for that moment when the last box was unpacked and there was nothing left on the moving checklist. When all that's left to do is to resume your routines, to hit the "play" button on your life again. I feel that moment getting closer and closer. And I think, in that moment, that my smile might make my face crack. I can't wait.

What an accurate way to explain it. You just want to stop the good byes and find your new normal. Your new life. The new way it is going to be. I realized, in reading Stebb's post, that for us, we are there. We are "settled in." We are doing normal, life things. Whatever those may be. And it does feel good. You miss people somethin' awful, but you know you have to look forward and embrace the new life you are living.

Even when your little Sidge says at dinner, "I miss my best friend William, Mommy."

Fight the tears. Look forward. New life.

A Reluctant Queen: The Love Story of Esther

I recently had the opportunity to review an electronic copy of: A Reluctant Queen: The Love Story of Esther by Joan Wolf. Booksneeze provided me with a free copy of the story in exchange for my honest review.

I have always been fascinated with the story of Esther. I remember I did a final semester project on her for Bible class in high school. I was therefore excited to read a fictional story of her life as I have continued to be intrigued as to her story.

Let me start by saying that this was an amazingly well-written book. It was a love story that kept me up way too late wanting to finish it. I was absolutely mesmerized by the tale. The author did a fantastic job creating beleivable, reasoning characters who drive the action.

The only thing that was a bit hard to reconcile was that this was historical fiction. As Joan Wolf writes in the note which follows the story, "To turn the Book of Esther into a novel, I had to give the characters humanly understandable reasons for acting as they did. Haman had to have a reason for hating Mordecai so much; Mordecai had to have a reason for sending his niece to the King of Persia's harem; Esther had to have reasons for doubting her uncle's dream; Ahasuerus have to have reasons for picking such a socially unsuitable girl to be his queen. For all of the above reasons, I felt it necessary to tinker a bit with the Esther story as it is presented in the Bible."

Wolf took many liberties in telling the story all with the sole purpose of intertwining the Bible story and the novel in the underlying premise. "God has a plan for the world, and He works His plan through the actions of humans. The big question is, will we allow God to work through us? God wants us to be His partners, but we have the free will to accept or refuse His challenge. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, all of God's people must listen to His voice and open their hearts for Him to use us for His purposes."

I had trouble while reading as I found myself so incredibly moved by the story but wanting to assure that it lined up to the Bible. In the end, I had to continually remind myself that this was not historical fact. It was historical fiction. In addition, while I am not a history buff, I do think many liberties were taken even on the historical side.

But that aside, if you are even slightly intrigued by the story of Esther or well-written Christian love stories, then this is the book for you. I promise you, you will not be disappointed if you keep in mind that this is not accurate to the Bible or history. It is simply a retelling, with incredible liberties, of a great story, told, greatly.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


I've recently seen some great ideas regarding bananas. The first involves organizing them. Organization. Something very near and dear to my heart. And this? Brilliant!

The second idea involves a picture I saw on Facebook. One of my very good high school friends, Steve, is now a dad himself. Steve has a son, Liam, who is just a little bit younger than my boys. I saw a picture of Liam on Facebook eating two of my favorite foods: bananas and peanut butter.

Now ... I eat bananas and peanut butter together all the time. I smear it on the bananas and eat it just like that. I eat it on bread (and even add honey). In fact, both of my housekeepers (Hatice and now Hita) have become lovers of these sandwiches thanks to me.)

But I have never, ever, thought to make little banana chips for my kids! I was blown away. How can I live 34 .... ohhh, I mean, as of May, 35 years, and not think of this. I give all the credit to Steve for this incredible revelation. (Steve gives it to his roommate's girlfriend, but ... whatever.) :)

Oh, and I believe that when it comes to peanut butter and chocolate (and don't get me strated on peanut butter and chocolate mixed together), God was thinking solely of me!


I haven't watched real American TV since 2010. What they show on AFN (Air Force Network) includes news and sports and some "big" shows like Dancing with the Stars and Survivor but they don't present shows that aren't on a network.

Here in Portugal, we have AFN... again. It's incredibly frustrating to try to figure out when things are on and what they are showing so I usually don't watch it at all unless I am turning it on in the morning to let the boys watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or Backyardigans.

But upstairs in the his house, we have a different option. Because the landlord left a TV in the house, it gets Portuguese television. That includes almost all Portuguese channels .... with a few exceptions.

We get ESPN. We get CNN and FOX and BBC. And we get TLC.

Aaaaah TLC. The Learning Channel. How much I remember watching your wedding stories (did you know my best friend Kristy got married on the Wedding Story by the way?)  But TLC has really stretched out their "Real-Life" television shows since I last watched in 2010! And sometimes, when the kids are resting in the afternoon, I'll put on TLC. It's just nice to see Americans. To hear English. To forget that I am in another country.

But yesterday I wish I wouldn't have even turned it on! The show had something to do with Outrageous Kids' Parties and I was blown away by how out of touch with reality some people are. I know I was married 14 years ago, but I spent $5,000 on my wedding.

Or my parents did. Did I just see the numbers on the screen correctly?

This woman threw a "going into Kindergarten" birthday party for her five-year-old daughter. The grand total? $31,250! I kid you not! I mean, they could have taken a week long vacation to Egypt for that amount of money.

I have a rule for all of my kids' parties. It should take around one hour, and it should cost around $100. Maximum!

Not only was the cost of this party absolutely beyond anything I can fathom, but some of the things they were doing were completely inappropriate. The little girl and the mom had men take their shirts off to see who was the best fit for the Egyptian muscle men to carry her in to the party. There was a very sexual belly dancer at a kids' party as well.

And don't even get me started on Toddlers and Tiaras. Are you kidding me? You wonder why you end up working in the office with or telling your children they can't hang out with a child who believes the world completely revolves around them? I'll tell you why! Turn on TLC.

My chlildren are not the center of the universe. They did not hang the moon. And they shouldn't believe they did. They don't need to be getting $1,000 hair and make-up appointments. They don't need to be judged ont heir outward appearances. Sorry.

Now don't get me wrong. There are times for beauty pageants. I am not against them in their entirety. But these parents on this show throwing a fit when their child doesn't win! It's not fair? No, it's not fair. Life isn't fair. I mean little Melanie just had a thirty-two thousand dollar party. You think that's fair?!

All right. I'm done. PLEASE leave a comment and tell me I am not the only person who feels this way!

The Power of Forgiveness

There are a few things that have happened to me in my life that I struggle with forgiveness. I can count these events on one hand, but every time I think of them, they cause my heart to beat a little faster, my blood pressure to go up, and pain to resurface. Do you have something in your life that causes you the same? I'd love to know that I'm not alone in this? I have a bully from my childhood who I know, if I ran into, would have trouble holding a conversation with. An ex-husband of a very close friend who caused that woman a lot of pain. That sort of thing.

Last week I saw a video online featuring this story. You must watch this video if you are struggling with unforgiveness. A woman killed a child. And the mother of that child forgave her. And when she forgave the criminal, the criminal was free to make her life better. She also saw the power of Christ and what Christ allowed this mother to do. How amazing to see the power of forgiveness.

How easy it should be for me to forgive a bully after watching this video. I'm not sure I'd be capable of the same. To Christ be the glory.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


I received this product free in exchange for my honest review. There is no reason I have to brag on this company, but I was seriously impressed with how good the food was. So for those of you looking to increase your storage of food, read on.

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a company asking me if I'd consider reviewing their food product for free. They'd send me the food. I'd eat it and blog about it. Easy enough. All righty. No problem. Free? Count me in!

I then received three meals in the mail. It was only after I received them that I looked closer at the company: eFoodsDirect. I'm sure they had no idea when they were sending the meals to me that I was married to the husband I was -- a husband who believes immensely in having your family prepared for unforeseen disasters. I realized that this company specializes in being prepared for life's storms -- storms of all kinds.

How good could a package of food that you just add water to be?

Really, really good. I mean, I was pretty blown away by how good ... and healthy ... the products were. We had the: Cheesy Chicken Rice Casserole and the Creamy Potato Soup, and we have one more meal yet to be eaten. The Potato Soup was some of the best Potato Soup I have ever had -- aside from soup served fresh, obviously. I would eat this over canned soup any day. Abigail loved the rice casserole. She ate it up like crazy! Sidge and I both had seconds as well.

All of their products are dehydrated. "Dehydration is a low-heat process that removes moisture from food and shrinks down the product to create several servings in each container. Dehydrated products take up less space, they do not contain any preservatives to maintain the integrity of the product, and they are much more affordable than freeze-dried food. One misconception about dehydrated products is that they are only offered as individual products. eFoodsDirect offers dehydrated products packaged as complete Quick-Fix meals, perfect for hunting, camping, fishing, or on-the-go activities close to home."

In addition, they are all: dehydrated from premium-grade fresh raw foods which are not genetically altered. There is no added MSG, no imports from countries using illegal fertilizers or insecticides, and there is no hydrogenated oil.

They estimate their shelf life at about 15-25 years.

So why would you buy this product? Well, the idea is that you have a year's worth of food saved in your house. This would be in the case of a world disaster or natural disaster. But it would also be in case of job loss or simply to cut costs in a rising recession. You can also use the meals for camping or to assure elderly or teenagers are eating good meals when they are on their own. As a mom, they are incredibly easy to prepare as well.

I used to think JB was a little "over-the-top" in his desire to have our family prepared so well. But then I realized that my desire to SAVE could be factored in. Now, if I see a special on peanut butter, I can buy ten jars and we can store them for the future. Obviously you need the space to do this. You also have to not be living paycheck to paycheck. We started doing this after we got out of debt because while you are still in debt, you want to make sure your money is squashing the debt. But being prepared for the future, especially with food that you know will taste good is, in my opinion, never a bad idea.

You can get some free meals for yourself too. Learn how you can get 6 free meals from eFoodsDirect. (You have to pay $9.95 for shipping and processing so it is not completely free.) And, since I received it, they obviously ship to APO boxes.

Forgetting the child

We've all heard about it. Stories of parents accidentally leaving their child in a hot car, only to return to find terrifying results. I am especially appalled when I hear that responsible parent was arrested, punished, put in jail, etc. for an even that was obviously accidental.

While obviously there are instances in which a parent were to do something like this on purpose (going to shop or participating in a job interview, etc. while their child was in the vehicle) the vast majority of these incidents are accidents. That means not on purpose. Let's further punish a parent grieving beyound what I am able to imagine by putting them in jail. That makes sense.

So how, many of you ask, does a parent forget their child?

Well, I'm here to admit that while I've never actually forgotten a child in the car, I've come close a few times.

One time, in particular, sticks out in my mind.

Abigail was a new baby. I wasn't used to having a new baby. I was used to having loud and chatty toddlers. But I left my two loud and chatty toddlers at home with JB, strapped Abigail into her carseat, and picked up my friend Angelica to go to coffee. As we pulled into Starbucks, and I opened my door to get out, I realized that Abigail was with me. Because she was so quiet, for the entire drive, I had actually forgotten that she was in the vehicle. I was used to loud toddlers. Not a sleeping newborn.

I admitted to Angelica that I had totally forgotten Abigail was with me, and we both admitted that the incident illustrated how forgetting occurs. Parents are overloaded. We are doing too much. JB and I have often misplaced a child at home or at a park because we thought the other person was watching him. We call this  having a bad "hand-off" and we are constantly reminding each other to "hand-off" completely. I am watching a boy until JB acknowledges and agrees he is watching the boy.

So, since you can post anonymously, any stories of forgetfullness, or almost forgetfullness? Of just trying to do too much as a mom?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Gordon Update

Well Gordon far enough south of us that we didn't really even get any rain! Today after JB got home from work, we walked to "The Island of Sodor". This is the boys favorite place to climb the rocks, and Sidge named it after the Thomas island because of a flat place that they can play. The waves were massive! The biggest we've ever seen. Definitely a lot of wind circling, but the storm didn't effect this area here. Apparently, hurricanes in this area are very uncommon due to the cold waters. They haven't had a hurricane hit the island since 1998. And this one didn't either. Thanks for the prayers everyone.

She ... is ... crazy

Yes this is my daughter eating a corn cob in the back of a pick-up truck.

Any object becomes something that can be climbed on almost instantly. Especially something new and unfamiliar. Since there is a three foot drop onto our driveway, standing on this cooler is less than ideal.

Abigail is obsessed with her brothers' boots. They each have a pair, and if she sees them, she wants to put them on. The problem is that if they are sitting on the floor and she sees them at any point before a brother gets them ON their feet, all tarnation breaks loose. She is incredibly offended and begins screaming accordingly. Guess I need a pair of little girl boots for this little lady.