Monday, August 27, 2012

Emmy Lou and her black eye liner, lesson on not judging a book by it's cover

Last Spring, I received a page of pictures and name of girls that would be on my team. Scanning through, I spotted this one girl with a smirk on her face who was wearing black eye liner. "Oh, no!" I thought. "She's going to give me trouble." I prayed for Emily and the other girls on my team. The day the girls arrived, I helped check them in, and we counted their spending $ and put it in an envelop. Emily brought quite a bit. As I counted, Emmy seemed rather embarrassed than prideful and explained, "I just have a really generous church family." Hmmm, not the reaction I was expecting from Ms. Eyeliner. 
As bootcamp wore on, I realized I had completely misjudged Em. Emily was patient, kind, and selfless. She was always quick to give a hug or comfort one of our homesick girls. And for the record, she said she just sometimes likes to wear black eyeliner. =) Em was also one of our resident French braiders. Before I left for Zimbabwe, I prayed the Lord would put a girl on our team who could French Braid. At the time, I had long hair down my back, and knew a braid would be the easiest solution for the humid Florida Summer and bucket bathing. All Summer long, after bath time, we'd line up and Emily and Chelsea would braid hair. Never once did I hear them complain. 
 The only time I saw Emmy really cry, was the night we learned we would be traveling all of the way to Zambia to catch our flight home. No one was emotionally prepared to leave early, and I think the stress of having to drive 20 hours in a cramped van really got to everyone. As we stood in a circle crying and praying, Emmy asked the Lord if we could maybe have a vehicle with some leg room. See, in Zimbabwe, a "bus" is just a normal van. The first 13 hrs, we road like this:
Once we hit the Zambia border, we were dropped off *abandoned* and left to walk the mile to the border, and then take taxis to the bus station. We arrived at the bus station, and guess what we saw? Oh, yes. A charter bus. Not only a Charter bus, but a Charter bus that played Christian music for the entire duration of the trip..mind you it was the same CD, and at one point it got stuck and played the same song for over an hr, BUT STILL! AND the LEG ROOM was unbelievable!
 On our journey to and from Zimbabwe, we were often stuck in airports for hours *days* at a time. I knew two members of our team needed help with meals. I asked Emmy if she minded helping. I only had to ask once. From then on, every meal Emily would check on others to make sure they had enough money for food or ask if anyone was low on cash. She did this until we left to go home. While stranded in Kenya on a 23 hr layover, we were broke and hungry. Emily paid for half of the team to eat dinner that night. 

FAST FORWARD to TODAY! Remember my post about Sipho? And how we had found a surgeon and just needed the money? Well, my sweet girl sent her birthday money and other donations $120 over the cost of the surgery. This is not to take away from the glory of the Lord, but this kind of generosity brings tears to my eyes. Emmy, my girl that I completely misjudged by her picture has opened my eyes to the true meaning of the words "Joyful Giving." I really pray I haven't embarrassed Emily by this post. My heart is just so full right now, I just had to share! Love you Emmy Lou!


 2 Corinthians 9:7
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Proverbs 19:17
Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD,
and he will repay him for his deed.

Acts 4:32“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.”

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Managing the chaos with a house of boys

Here's our house. I remember when we first moved in, it seemed so big, but as the boys have gotten older, it's begun to shrink. We have 3 full baths, and 4 bedrooms.
Liam has his own room.

And Dylan has his own room.

Kieran and Cameron share the room upstairs
With four boys, a dog, and husband who works 24/7, I used to really struggle to keep the house under control. Laundry seemed to pile up faster than I could wash and fold, dishes were always in the sink, and the kids' rooms would go from clean to disaster in one day. This Fall, I start my final semester before applying for dental hygiene school. I'll probably be the only person in history who attended college for 7 yrs and only came out with an associates. But, with four kids at home, I could only take a few classes at a time. This summer, I had had it. I'll never be perfectly organized, but the chaos was getting to me, and I decided, things needed to change. I started by purging stuff!
  1. Clean out all closets and organize. Have you used it in the past year? If not, get ride of it. Each season, I go through the boys drawers and closets. Spring and Summer clothes get either hung up or folded in a bin in Liam's closet, this way, out of season clothes are jamming drawers or hogging space in closets. Each Fall and Winter, I evaluate each of the boys wardrobes. I make piles and count jeans and shirts. If Liam's grown out of it, I ship it off to one of my girlfriends who has a smaller boy. 
  2. Store small toys in bins. I bought a 3 drawer Rubbermaid container and put it in Liam's closet. Top drawer is smaller Lego's, 2nd is for Lincoln Logs, and 3rd drawer is for big blocks. Cars have their own canvas bin, and so do mini figurines. Evaluate your kids' toy collection. Do they ever play with this? Are pieces missing? Is this a baby toy or have they out grown it? Before you get ready to toss those happy meal toys, WAIT! We help support a base in Zimbabwe, and last Spring, we took all of those little toys and mailed them to the kids in Zim! They're small, light weight, and for a 3rd World Country child, they're a treasure. I know of numerous mission groups who takes these overseas, see where you can donate!
  3. Clean your kids room when they're not there! My kids would die knowing the stuff I've tossed or bagged up for the goodwill while they're gone. I've tried the partner cleaning bit, and it doesn't work. My kids are hoarders *I blame Mr. Man*, and they would keep every scrap of paper if I let them. 9 times out of 10, they don't ever realize that it's gone. Don't get all wrapped up in the emotion hub bub of certain items. 
  4. Items you keep. Certain things, I save, no matter how ratty and worn they are: baby blankets, lovies, baby outfits the boys wore a lot, favorite baby toys. Mind you, this collection is so small, it all fits up at the top of Liam's closet. These are untouchable. 
  5. Help you kids maintain. Question: How long does it take your 4 yr old to clean their room? Answer: Forever. Throw away the "principle" of the matter, and get in there and help. I usually assign 1 job at a time. "Kieran, put ALL of your Lego's in your bin." He can do that. "Clean your room!" is way more overwhelming than one given task. 
  6. Daily maintenance. Every morning when I wake the boys up, I help them decide what they're going to wear. Telling them to "get dressed" did not work. #1. They would come downstairs in shorts and a sweater. #2. In the midst of choosing an outfit, drawers would be pulled apart, and hanging clothes would be strewn about. I ask jeans or shorts, and give them a couple of shirt options. They have until "3, 2, 1" before I decide and that's that. (Any arguing beyond that is -.$50 from their allowance." While the bubbies are getting dressed, I take 2-3 minutes and pick up toys and make their beds. Doing this everyday, eliminates the stress of a messy room! Clutter doesn't have time to build up. Also, if you have a big family like mine, wash laundry EVERY day. My process is fast. Wash, dry, fold, hang up, and call the boys. Even the 4 yr old puts away his own piles. Every dresser in the house is the same. TOP drawer: underwear and pj, middle drawer: shirts, bottom drawer: shorts and sweats. Everything else gets hung up, and everything gets put away neatly. Not items shoved here and there. It's our house rule, and it's been that way for years.
  7. Mandatory 1x a week deep clean. "But it's not MESSY!" Exactly. Each Saturday morning, the boys are required to strip their sheets, dust their rooms, and make them vacuum ready for mom. Kieran and Cam scrub their bathroom, and Dylan & Liam do the downstairs one. It takes less than an hour, and it's their prerequisite for receiving their allowance.
  8. Chore Charts and Behavior Charts, make your threats count. I've spent many years threatening, grounding, and yelling, only to forget which child was supposed to do what, or who was ground from their DS...until my "chart system." I have one chart for chores, and one chart for behavior. Stars are good, sad faces are bad. Stars earn rewards, but sad faces earn extra chores and punishment. 1st sad face= warning. 2nd sad face= extra chore 3rd sad face= punishment ON THE FLIP side, exemplary behavior earns stars.
    The CHORE CHART keeps track of who has done their chore or who's forgotten. It also keeps track of hanging book bags up in the garage, putting shoes in the cubby, and getting dirty clothes out of the bathroom after showering.
 Now, I KNOW what you're thinking. "Pain.In.The.Butt!" Yes, it is, at first. However, we're on our 3rd week of the charts, and it's a habit now. Discipline and punishments are predictable and fair across the board. And guess what? We've had the most enjoyable 3 weeks with our kids that we've had in a LONG time. It WORKS!
  9. Give them an ALLOWANCE. I swore I'd never do this, but my system I had wasn't working. My boys all do chores every single day. They do well in school and are good kids. Why not? Dylan and Cam get $5 per week, Kieran gets $4, and Liam gets $3. Obviously, the  8 & 9 yr old who empty and load the dishwasher are going to get more than the 4 yr old who feeds and waters the dog. Give them reasonable duties, and make them follow through. Don't allow them to slack. Trust me, after making them redo their chore several times, they'll realize doing a good job the first time around is much easier. I deduct -$.50 if they do not complete their chore before going to bed. No ifs, ands or buts. 
10. Don't break for your routine. We have strict rules during the school week. No video games or computer time. No tv until homework and chores are done. They come home from school, and immediately do homework, then chores, eat, shower, and then watch tv. If they are watching tv before dinner, their homework should be done, checked & agenda's signed, and chores completed. No exceptions.
11. Let them rots their brains out. During the Summer, my kids did nothing. Sure, we took a vacation, and went camping, but during our time at home, they rotted their brains out. Dylan and Cam would play video games so much their eyes would be all glassy and glazed over. We'd go to the pool and spend hours playing. I'd let the boys stay up late and watch movies. They'd build forts in the living room, and have brother sleepovers. They'd sleep in late and sit in their pjs all day. They're KIDS. Let them! During the school year, we're strict, but Summer and weekends are for relaxing and laziness. The house doesn't need to be a strict dictatorship. Set reasonable expectations, and if they fulfill them, back off. 

So, is my house squeaky clean? Absolutely not, and it never will be, but it's manageable chaos. The family room will always have toys here and there:
The breakfast nook will always have a few crumbs on the floor:
And I'm sure the bathroom will always have a few dribbles under the toilet seat:
The kitchen will forever be stacked with random piles of items that need to be sorted and put away:
At the end of the day, this is a very lived in house. I'll never be homemaker of the year, but I think we've finally found a groove in this whole routine business.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Becoming Sister Wives Review, Part II

Apparently, when a man courts a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th wife, the engagements are short. Some bit about it "not being appropriate" to spend a lot of time with a married man. *Ya, think?* This portion of the book is called "Sorority." Are some of you getting nostalgic about your college days? It makes me all warm and fuzzy. Just think, 3 women and 1 man, crammed into a tiny house with no money and tempers flaring. When can I begin to pledge?

Part II Sorority:
Meri & Kody + Janelle: After 3 yrs of a blissful marriage, Meri and Kody, take on a 2nd wife. The sad thing is, they both describe this as more of an obligation, than a want. Poor Janelle is neither warmly welcomed, nor shown affection from either of them. She's essentially thrown into living with the 2 honeymooners who continue to display affection, and act as though she's an unwelcome houseguest. Meri is rude and controlling, and tells Janelle how it's gonna be. Janelle doesn't speak up for herself, and hides in her room.
  • Meri discusses her relationship with Kody as "romantic and passionate," and says her jealousies were kept at a minimum, because Kody and Janelle's relationship was purely platonic.
  • While Janelle worked, and kept to herself, Meri would go on business trips with Kody. Janelle saw this as irresponsible since they were broke, and Meri needed to work.
  • Janelle tells of a time when she was 6 mths pregnant, and Kody and Meri were about to leave for a trip. (again) Janelle had tried out new make up, and Meri was cruel to her. Janelle asks Kody if he loves her. He says he does, and then leaves. 
Meri & Kody + Janelle + Christine: What's that? Did you blink and another wife was added? Yup. That's basically how this book is. Meri's evil. Janelle's sad. Janelle's pregnant, and in pops a 3rd wife. Luckily, I'm giving you just the goods, and you skip the poorly written *and organized* thoughts
  • Christine, the peacemaker, comes into the picture. Janelle feels the pressure off of her, and Meri now has someone else to criticize.
  • Meri is now extremely jealous. She recognizes the chemistry between Kody and Christine and is getting less attention. Awww. Poor Meri.
  • Janelle's career is thriving. With 2 sisterwives at home, she's able to work late, long hours, and know her kids are being well cared for. 
  • Fast forward 8 yrs, yup, I said that. Janelle's on her 5th kid, and all three parties are living in a teeny house. Gee, I can't imagine why everyone's so stressed out, can you?
  • Janelle has had ENOUGH. She says after a "particularly nasty fight with Meri" she packs up the kids and leaves! She buys her own house, pays her own bills, and is finally happy. During this time, she and Kody's relationship grows. Meri and Christine still watch her kids, and Kody still visits, but finally, Janelle has her own life with Kody. She lived on her own for 3 yrs, before joining the family in the "Big House" in Lehi, Utah.
  •  Christine's portion is all flowers and rainbows. Christine loves homeschooling and crafts. She loves being a stay at home mom, while Meri and Janelle work. However, in a two paragraph, very vague description, she writes she and Meri had a horrible that to this day they are still working on. She doesn't say what happened or what it was over. 
  •  Robyn's added in here. All through out the book, everyone mentions financial struggles. Robyn was broke too. TLC paid for Robyn and Kody's wedding and honeymoon. Keep in mind, Janelle and Christine both had very simple, very played down private ceremonies. Their descriptions of their honeymoons reminded me the somber feeling you get attending a funeral, not a wedding, and very understandably so. The family had 3 wives, and 16 kids to support. They're living paycheck to paycheck, when, swoop, let's court a new wife, with three kids. 
  • Around this time, Meri gets fired from her job. 
Here's where I'm horribly bored by this post, and have decided to give you all a brief synopsis of the incredibly boring, anti-climatic rest of the book. Robyn joins the family, and even though Meri initiated the courting, she's incredibly hurt. Reliable Janelle is apathetic. Christine is devastated. The "Family" portion just gives a run down of how things work. Christine watches the kids and home schools, Meri works, Janelle and Kody do the finances, Christine and Janelle do grocery shopping etc.. It's basically everything we've seen from tv, and now they've written it down.

Meri comes off as incredibly self righteous, and the kind of person that believes her way is the right way. She bashes the way her sister wives parent, and allow their kids to ruin their furniture. She points out how she will correct the kids and make them be respectful. Blah. Blah. Blah. Meri has one child. Not trying to step on toes here, but it's very easy to step in and occasionally discipline vs. day to day living. We learn that Robyn is a softer parent, and Meri thinks she babies her kids. Each wife states that Kody has enough going on, and basically, they don't rely on him for anything, because he's so busy. 

None of these women are truly happy. I feel that what they've done has been irresponsible in so many ways, I can't even list them all. Robyn feels hated by the other wives. Even though she and Meri seem super chummy on camera, there's is deep jealousy rooted from Kody's chemistry with Robyn. Christine is making the best of what she firmly believes is God's command. She keep apologizing for normal feelings. Each wife ends the book on a rosy note. Not one time did any of the wives truly reveal a vunberable side or reveal any deep feelings. Just when you thought they were finally breaking down, they'd flip it, and talk about their firm commitments to the "principle." I saved Kody for last, because he is scum of the earth. This balding man disregards his wives feelings for the sake of his own whims and wants. Kody is not a man. He doesn't take care of his family. Apparently, the wives were all on some kind of gov't aid before filming the TLC show. Marriage is not about sharing your spouse, or accepting that your husband will be intimate with other women. Marriage isn't about swallowing your jealousy as your pregnant, and watching your husband court another woman 10 years your junior. Marriage isn't being pecked and criticized by the only legal wife so that she can constantly remind you who came first. In my conclusion, plural marriage is not true marriage, and my heart breaks for these women. 

Sad & Depressing, a review of "Becoming Sister Wives" PART 1

Oh, Sister Wives on TLC. I must admit, I've watched this trainwreck show from the beginning. I was so fascinated by how this whole life style worked, though, each week, I cringe watching the jealousy between the wives. Who can blame them? I love Mr. Man, and love having him all to myself. I still can't wrap my head around the idea of bringing in another woman to my marriage, watching my husband woo and court her, and loving her as family.

I don't profess this review will be unbiased. In fact, I have few positive comments to make regarding this whole circus. I will say, however, that I love the idea of extra help. Who wouldn't love to have an extra pair of hands to help with the kids or cook dinner or do housework? Maybe I'd do really well in communal living, 'cuz when my mom comes to visit, we are able to knock out stuff way faster than Mr. Man and I. (And without the weird jealousy that these women experience sharing their hubby!) Our Creator is smart. There's a reason why one man and one woman work. Jealousy is a natural feeling. We're supposed to love and cherish our spouse while protecting our marriage. The Bible puts it as "forsaking all others." Without further ado, here's my review of "Becoming Sister Wives" by Kody, Meri, Janelle, Christine & Robyn Brown.

For those of you thinking of buying this book for juicy "never before revealed details," save your money. This book reads as a long lengthy couch confessional, and just when you think they're going to really spill it, they backtrack into the "life is grand" song and dance. The book is poorly written, and the editor should be fired. Someone should have said, "YES, but go deeper than that." The most honest confessions are from Christine and Janelle. You'll walk away from this book loathing Kody (more than you already do) and seeing Meri in a whole new light. My opinion of Robyn didn't change much. For some reason, I've always found her to be sweetly annoying. The book is broken down into 3 sections, and within each section, Kody and the wives write their perspectives on these events. Again, due to poor editing, you'll be scratching your head at times thinking, "Huh? What time frame are we talking about?" The book is not in chronological order, and why they wrote it like that, I have no idea. Not that I'm the greatest writer either, but hey, this is a free blogsite. I'm not charging you $12.99 to read my rants and raves. 

Part 1: Matrimony
Kody & Meri:  For the sake of myself, and all of my 2 readers, I'm skipping what you know, and only recounting new facts.
  • Kody converted to Meri's faith
  • Surprise surprise, he talks of feelings of rushing into things, and we learn that he was a huge flirt even before his 4 wives
  • Apparently, the chemistry has always been big between these two, and they kissed tons during their 4 mth courtship
  • During this portion, Kody and Meri both speak of intimacy, recounting their first "intimacy" was in their own home, and how passionate and romantic their honeymoon was
  • Kody and Meri were 22 & 19 when married with 2 minimum wage jobs which they quit upon returning home from their honeymoon.
Kody & Janelle:
  • Raised traditional LDS, converted Meri's brother from the fundalmentalist sec
  • 6 months after the were married, he moved out, Janelle was still tight knit with the family
  • Kody first suggests they should be together, but it's Janelle who approaches him. (After sending his wife to bed..)
  • 2 week courtship, and they were married.
  • Kody never mentions his love, passion, chemistry or anything of the sort with Janelle. He mentions she's responsible, and hard working. It's rather depressing. It seems more like a business transaction than marriage.
  • Janelle moves into Kody and Meri's trailer *awkward* and while she remarks that she and Kody weren't "in love", it appears he and Meri were. Janelle is like a guest in the house, as Meri hangs all over Kody, sleeps in bed with him, and holds hands under a blanket while watching movies. 
Kody & Christine:
  • Christine, 19, bubbly, flirts relentlessly with Kody, as he flirts back.
  • One of the most CRINGE worthy portions of the book. Kody describes how they are on a trip with his church, and he's been sick all night. Christine goes into the gas station with chili cheese nachos and eats them. He describes how she sloppily eats them, and how the "chubby" girl in his car totally grosses him off, and he's then NOT attracted to her. 
  • Christine ALSO reveals during this time Kody & Meri are courting a new wife, but have to wait until she's 18 to MARRY!  What's that bit they always talk about? No child wives?
  • Kody is now 25, taking on a 3rd wife. He and Christine seem to have a puppy love relationship, though, Kody freaks on their wedding night. It's really sad actually. She married the "fun loving" persona, and he's stone cold once they're married! 
 (I'm skipping Robyn. The whole thing played out on tv anyways.. basically, Meri set it up, and then sits back and cries how hurt and lonely she is. Robyn's a wackado who was married to a JESSUP, and just reveals that she was in an abusive marriage, and then some weird alter ego she had.. Idk. No details that haven't already been revealed on tv)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Ice-cream and drive by moonings

DISCLAIMER:  Mom, you may want to skip this post!*

In high school, we were inseparable! My girlfriends and I did everything together; got ready for prom, sat together at lunch everyday, went shopping, and one Summer, a bunch of us worked at a theme park together. Even as seniors, we still had Friday night sleepovers. Back in the day, pre-facebook/social networking frenzy, things were a bit more lax. Perhaps, we were a bit naive, which we were, but for some reason, we thought drive by moonings were hilarious. Now, hindsight is 20/20, and growing up, getting married and having kids of our own makes it even clearer, but nonetheless, this was our idea of a good time. 
Last night, Dylan was at a friend's house, and the three little boys and myself were at home. Every Friday night in our house is pizza and movie night. We make pizzas and get a couple of movies from Redbox. Around 8:30pm, I got a huge hankering for a Sonic peanut butter cup blast. The bubbies were already in their pjs, but I figured why not, and we loaded up into the van. When I was a little girl, my mom would sometimes take us for pj ice-cream runs. We would go to Friendlys, and I would get the single serving peanut butter cup ice-cream. I think family traditions are important to carry on from generation to generation, especially ones that involves ice-cream in pjs. 

After we all got our mini-blasts, we were all feeling somewhat rebellious and giddy, what being out after 8:30 and all. Cam suggested we go do something "exciting!" I jokingly told them we should do "drive by moonings." They asked what it was. I said,"someone drives, and honks the horn while you all hang your butts out the window." 

The boys were appalled! Cam said, "Wow, Mom, no way that is so weird." Kieran said, "That is disgusting! I don't want anyone seeing my butt!" Even the 4 yr old chimed in,"mommy! That is very innpro'piate." Cam said,"Besides, what if someone had bad balance and fell out the window and died. Mom, you have the worst ideas of fun." I was laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes. (though, I felt a little rebuked as well, and thanked God that my kids obviously have more common sense than I did as a teenager.) I always thought one day, (when they were much much MUCH older) I'd tell my kids of my wild teenage adventures, though after last night, I think this is one I'll be taking to the grave.

Friday, August 17, 2012

My kid just said that

Every time we go to the bank, the teller always slips a few lollipops in my envelope for the boys. I actually really like lollipops. I bought a bag and kept it in our pool tote. Each ride home from the pool, the boys and I sucked on a  dum-dum. Last time I cashed a check, the teller slipped an extra lollipop in for me. It tasted a cross between soap and that nasty mixture of homemade candy lollipops people sometimes make during Christmas. Today, the teller shorted us a lollipop. I handed the 3 back to Dylan who said, "Wow. How nice that each time we come here, we get these delicious lollipops." He smiled at me, and then the two little boys fought over the "red" one. Dylan gave Kieran one, and then flipped another lollipop over to the "redder" side and handed it to Liam saying, "Okay, Liam gets the red one too". Pretty smart for a 9 year old. 

Liam has a vivid imagination. By vivid, I mean, things in which I think a child psychologist should hear. For quite some time, he's talked of an "Angry Bird Dad" who drove a monster truck. Sounding quite like a Dora-the-Explorer episode, he described to me how to get to Angry Bird Dad's house: go down the round, across the train tracks, up a big mountain, down the mountain, and to the other side. Sadly, Angry Bird Dad was killed, however, yesterday, Liam informed me during "school time" that Angry Bird Dad was indeed not dead, but in hiding in a volcano.
See, a monster got him and thought he sucked all of his blood out, but weally, he didn't. So, Angwy Bird Dad drove his monsta truck inside of the "folcano." I was pretty confused.
On how Angry Bird Dad didn't die of a heat stroke:
He has air-conditioning mom. D'uh. Everyone in America has air conditioning.

On how Angry Bird Dad gets his truck inside the volcano:
A special remote control sucks in the tires, and then the truck sticks to the folcano and drives up all da way inside.   

He also informed me that I'll never meet Angry Bird Dad, because he doesn't like me very much, because I don't let Liam play Cameron's DS when he wants to.

Kieran recently lost his 2 front teeth. I was curious how he still managed to eat anything that was pureed. Somehow, this conversation jumped right into the life of pirates.
On how he manages to eat without his 2 front teeth:
*pointing to his bottom teeth* These guys down here do all of the work, while my gums get to sit back, and enjoy the tastes.
This somehow jumped into a lengthy pirate debate, maybe because of Kieran's views on Pirates losing body parts and being able to replace them so easily:
Dylan and Cam's dad spent a deployment fighting Somalian pirates, so Dylan realized the who cannon and sword fighting bit was a thing of the past. However, Kieran was adamant about his pirate beliefs, and told Dylan that there were "old fashioned" pirates too.
Kieran's reasons why pirates are awesome:
Pirates don't have any rules. Pirates wear those awesome costumes all of the time, and get to have birds sit on their shoulders. Also, if they lose a limb, no big deal, they get a wooden one. Like, if i lost an ear, I'll just get a new wooden one. Except for hands, then they use a hook. 

We moved to TN when Cam was just two, curiously enough, his brothers who were younger, and born here, haven't adapted the Southern accent, but Cam has. Not only does my boy have the twang, he also mumbles. This is particularly annoying when it's his day to pray on the ride to school. We hear the beginning of the prayer, but then, it just gets a bit jumbled, and we usually sit straining to hear the "amen" portion.

 He had to read 99 words to me last night while I timed him. After I timed him twice, I made him read SLOWLY and ENUNCIATE each word, and stopped him when he started to mumble. On the fourth try of a sentence, Cam stopped me. 
 "Mom, I don't care if I sound like you. Everyone talks like this, so no one will know if I sound ignorant or not. And really, you're the one that sounds different to me. Why put in so much effort? It's much easier to talk like this. 
I just crossed Speech Therapist off of possible occupations for Cam.  


Saturday, August 11, 2012

14 Hour Trips to the Grocery Store, Zim Part II

At the end of the Summer, I received an evaluation from our head male leader. I'm pretty sure we weren't supposed to read them, but I did. Claimet rated me high in everything except for "would make a good missionary." I think he meant as in staff, but maybe he was referring to my "crazy white woman" episodes. Before you judge me, trying taking 13 teen girls across the world, and see if you don't go a little crazy when people start grabbing at them. Bobbi and I were in charge of cooking. This required food. We asked Sipho if she minded taking us to the grocery store. She told us to be ready at 3:30am.

3:15 am, Sipho knocked at our door. We took a "short" 1 mile walk, and then stood at the end of the road waiting for our ride. A red van appeared and we climbed it. It was around 40 degrees outside. The van had no heat or insulation. Just a metal frame with seats. Every time we hit a bump, the windows slid open and we'd have to close them. Bobbi and I huddled together for most of the trip, shivering and laughing at the insanity. Around 6am, we arrived outside of town. We would walk the remaining 3 miles. 
  Praise the Lord, when we finally arrived in town, we found a bakery open. I treated Sipho to breakfast and we sat and ate our sweetbread. Sipho hurried us along telling us we had to be back at the bus station by 9:30am. We made a mad dash to the "grocery store." If you ever find yourself shopping in Zimbabwe, here are a few tips: bring your own bags, or buy some before you do your shopping, and expect to leave your purse; no bags allowed in the store. After our shopping, we flagged down a taxi cab who drove us and all of our groceries back to the bus station. Sipho said she was headed to the restroom and asked if we needed to go. Bobbi and I glanced around, and told her we were fine.
As we stood there waiting for Sipho to return, a man came holding a baby and asked if I wanted to hold him. "Oh, how sweet!" I thought. I held the little boy, and Bobbi snapped a few pictures. The man wandered off for a while, and I stood there holding the baby. He finally returned and asked me for money. I told him I didn't have any. (In all honesty, my money was kept in my pouch around my neck, down my shirt. I wasn't about to reach down my brazier to give him a dollar.) Another man walked up, and the two persisted, until we flat out told him, "NO!" And Bobbi and I turned the other way and ignored them.
  A short while later, some men walked up and asked us how much money? We were confused. By the time we saw Sipho walking towards us, I wanted to run and hug her like a child would their mother. We told Sipho what had happend, and she just laughed. "Oh, girls. They thought you were prostitutes. Next time tell them they have to ask me first, and they'll leave you alone." Spent 5 hours in a 15 seater van with about 25 other people with the windows closed. 4:00pm, Bobbi and I arrived back at base, with full bladders. We must have looked traumatized, because the girls told us to go rest, and woke us up with dinner ready. God Bless those sweet girls.

Our next 2 trips into town weren't nearly as exciting as the first. The TMI van had been repaired by now, and we didn't have to wake up before the sun. We left around 8:30am or so after breakfast and devotion, and drove about 45 min to the end of a dirt road where we stood by the highway waiting for a car to pick us up. This trip we hit the jackpot; we got to ride in a semi. 
 The truck driver was apparently a Dolly Parton fan, because we listened to her for about an hour or so before he switched to a mixed pop CD with singers like Rihanna and Taylor Swift. We were able to do our shopping, take a cab to a gas station, and our sweet trucker picked us back up. We had brought one of our oldest girls along with us that day. She had heard of our 1st experience, and kept telling us how fun this was, and couldn't understand.

In Zimbabwe, there is no such thing as personal space.
Our meeting spot for Mr. Trucker

Friday, August 10, 2012

Did that just happen? Zim Part I

One day, I'll have to sit down and really write about my missions trip to Zimbabwe. Until then, I'm going to start featuring, "Did that just happen?" stories from Zim. A little background info first:

Our trip to Zimbabwe took days.We got lost in London. Missed our connecting flight in South Africa, and ended up being stranded there for 5 days..and by "stranded" I mean put up at a plush hotel, hot showers, and free food. The day we were SUPPOSED to fly out, our airline went on strike...more of that story later. We begin in our very first African country.

One of my girls, decided to have a go at the squatty potty. It was a bit of a novelty since we had just touched down in Kenya. Just as she was beginning to "squat" she lost her balance, and bladder control. We grabbed paper towels, cleaned up, and left the "water closet" quickly. 
Ever since I was a little girl, I've wanted to feed pigs scraps. Maybe it was all of those times of watching Charlotte's Web, but whatever the case, I was pretty excited to feed these pigs. Our first night, we quickly cleaned up dinner and headed to the pig pens. It was fairly dark outside, so we took a flashlight and some of the staff kids to help us find our way. We reached the pen and I excitedly ran over and poured the scraps into their pen. Bobbi was behind me with a flashlight and called for her to hurry. She came over and shined her see that I had accidentally thrown the scraps on a big pile of pig poo, which they were now eating..along with the scraps.

One Sunday, we went to a nearby church. The service lasted about three hours. Some of the sermon was in Ndebele, other parts were in English. Near the end of the service, one of the pastors stood up and said something about asking, "Sista pray." I bowed my head, when I felt Bobbi's elbow. "He said you! You're supposed to go and pray." Panic set in. I could feel my face getting redder and redder as I walked up the stairs. I'm not even sure what I prayed, I know the Lord took over as soon as the prayer started, but before I began, a lot of, "Um, yes, thank you, that's nice..okays" came out. After I said "Amen," I prayed my jello legs wouldn't give out until I reached my seat.

 During our visit at Victoria Falls, we came across a sweet Mama Ape who had just given birth to her baby. Proud Daddy was walking back and forth in front of Mama, but he let us get close enough to get these shots. Baby was nursing, and mama, well, mama was apparently eating her after birth. They say placenta is full of iron.......

Our trip home from Victoria Falls was a bit tense. The owner of the bus and his 7 yr old niece accompanied us on our entire trip. However, our drive back, he informed us that he had not agreed to all of this driving, and that once we arrived in Bulawayo (3 hrs from the base) he would be leaving us there. We then made a quick detour into the bushes to a small number of hut houses. The owner ran in, and came back into the bus carrying a large cage of chickens. Sure, he did abandon us in a dangerous city.. at 9 o'clock at night, but look what he gave us:
 Eventually, we did get a ride home. Sweet sweet Annie sat the entire ride holding the chicken. It occasionally squeaked, but for the most part remained quiet.

I love MONKEYS! From the time we arrived in Zimbabwe, I had my eyes peeled out for monkeys. There were a few that roamed around the TMI base, but they were too scared to come around humans. I think this was because the base threw rocks and other various items at them to keep them out of the garden, but I loved those sweet furry things. When we were at Victoria Falls, we got to feed a couple of monkeys before the park rangers yelled at us and told us it was illegal. 
We had just arrived at the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia. It had been a long night of driving in squished van, not including several stops for engine trouble, and a road side potty break. Suffice to say, my girls and I needed something to raise our spirits. That's when I spotted them. I grabbed a few lolipops and ran out to feed the monkeys.
Pretty soon, one of his friends came along and wanted one too!

A few lolipops later, the girls began yelling at me to stop wasting the candy, so I told my new friends no more. This is when they climbed onto our luggage trailer trying to rip into our food box. I started screaming. Who knew monkeys could be so aggressive?

Luckily, we had Abby with us. Abby was a laid back, no drama 17 yr old. I credit her brothers for toughening her up. Abby took a blanket and hit the monkeys off of our food trailer until they went away. I didn't feed monkeys for the rest of the trip.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Feet, ugly little dresses and goiter

Feet have always grossed me out. A few years ago, I received a missions pamphlet about "foot washing" in Africa, and all most fainted. I laughed that of all of the ways to serve the Lord, that would be one I would skip. Last year, I helped lead "Zimbabwe Footwashing Team." Obviously, the Lord has a sense of humor, and He can use ANYONE as a vessel for HIS work! 
  Last December, Mom felt the Lord calling her to sew little dresses for the Zimbabwe Aids Orphans. Mom's never sewn a day in her life. She had fabric donated to her, and each morning, would call me to tell me how ugly her dresses were. We often joked that the little African girls would be fighting over who would have to wear the "ugly dresses." (as you can see, they were quite cute, but it was still fun to tease mom) The dresses, along with shoes, a few soccer balls, flip-flops, new shoes for all of the Zimbabwe staff, shirts, leggings, gloves, hats, and handmade blankets would be going over with the February Zim team. I text Claimet to ask if there was ANYTHING else they needed, after all, these 2 extra duffel bags were $400, and were gonna get our money's worth. Claimet replied that August 2012 would be his 20th wedding anniversary with Sipho, and that he'd like to renew his vows with----a wedding dress. 

Huh?..... Did I just read that right? "All right Lord," I thought. "A wedding dress for our dear Zimbabwean friends." I told Claimet to pray about it, and waited to see what the Lord would do. Fast forward to February... the 2 duffel bags safely arrived at the Gwanda base. (A blessing in itself, for ZIm customs is known for stealing and taking anything worth value) However, our wedding dress was still lacking. 
 To outsiders, this may seem like a frivolous request. However, to this couple, love has sustained them through famine, economic collapse, HIV, the death of a son, daily poverty, and illness. Claimet met Sipho through missionary work. He wrote her a letter to propose, she waited a year to say yes. Claimet is a gentle giant. Sipho laughs a lot, and always praises the Lord. They both felt called to run an Orphan Aids base, and help those in need... In my eyes, they were the ones in need. About a month before the Summer team was to leave for Zimbabwe, the Lord provided a wedding dress. It was given by one of my girls who went to Zim. 
Okay, so it didn't exactly look like the picture, but Sipho was overjoyed, and so were we.

 Which brings me to my next subject, goiter. I was up late studying (cramming) for a nutrition's exam, when I came across "goiter." I yelled, "That's IT!" Sipho had a large lump in her neck. I wondered if it was a tumor or some odd African condition. Somehow, the protruding neck issue had gotten lost amongst the shoes and dresses, but here, right in my textbook was an explaination. Sipho had an iodine deficiency... and once goiter appeared, only surgery could repair the enlarged thyroid gland.
 What does this mean? Essentially, Sipho lacked Iodine or table salt in her diet. Her thyroid gland overcompensated by growing larger to try to absorb more. Overtime, it's grown so large that's begun making breathing difficult. Once again, I felt that nagging feeling to do something. "All right Lord." Mom called tonight, and we began talking. The Lord put mom on a webpage for a Christian organization with a surgeon in Zimbabwe who performs pro-bono work. Mama wrote, and I prayed. The same God who delivered the Israelites, also safely delivered those sweet little dresses and shoes over in February. The same Lord also provided a wedding dress for a poor Zimbabwe couple. I'm fairly certain, the same Lord is very capable of providing a doctor to help Sipho. 

 20"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen".- Ephesians 4:20 & 21