Tuesday, November 29, 2011


an area we often drive through here and joke about as a team that this is where the guys do their drive-thru shopping. many vendors will come up to the windows and try and sell you their wares. we've bought locks for our gates there, sunglasses, fresh produce, kids' toys as well as getting more airtime cards for our phones.
but there are also other people coming up to our window at wandegeya.
people in wheelchairs, homeless people and children.
begging for money.

Truly he taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.

today we were stopped at the main intersection in wandegeya when 3 little children ran up to our car.
my heart broke.
i asked one little boy what his name was.
araba, he said.
one of the little girls looked to be only just older than noah.
they spotted our water bottle and started miming the drinking motion.
i handed it over, grateful to be able to give something tangible but wishing i had three of them.
the light turned green and we started to move.

Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother,
and in His name all oppression shall cease.

noah says, i hope there's a restaurant at the store where we're going because i'm starving.

how do i reconcile the huge gap between my lifestyle and those begging, starving, thirsty children?

Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

i can't give to everyone and my giving isn't necessarily going to be the best way to help in some cases.
but what i do have, i'll give. and where i can, i'll proclaim the power and glory of Christ.

come quickly, Lord Jesus.

Monday, November 28, 2011

advent ideas

ad - vent
1. a coming into place, view or being; arrival
2. the coming of Christ into the world
3. the period beginning four Sundays before Christmas, observed in commemoration of the coming of Christ into the world.

this will be the first year we've actually done something intentional for advent {besides chocolate advent calendars}. i've been scouring the internet for ideas and talking to friends and so i thought i'd share what we'll be doing together as a family this year for advent.

advent envelopes
you can find a plethora of variations on advent envelopes on the internet {hello pinterest} but basically you have envelopes numbered 1-25 and open one every day. inside each {of ours} is an activity for our family to do together such as decorate gingerbread cookies or drink hot chocolate and watch The Polar Express or make paper snowflakes and decorate the windows. i adapted some ideas i found online to our not-so-wintery climate and i think the kids will really like them.

advent story books
so i kinda went overboard and ordered a bunch of books off of amazon for advent this year.

The Advent Storybook 
24 stories told by Benjamin Bear's Mama to Benjamin as he impatiently awaits Christmas. each story brings you closer to the birth of Jesus and ties it all back to God as being the central focus of Christmas. love it. we'll be reading a story from this one each night before bed.

Celebrate Advent
this is a cool book that has 25 christmas stories from around the world with corresponding tree ornaments. i'm excited to read this book with the boys and i'm sure they'll be excited to have more ornaments to hang up on the tree.

The Story of Christmas
this is your typical "advent calendar" style book. it opens up to display 24 mini board books and read in sequence, they capture the story of the first Christmas, from gabriel's visit to mary (book 4) to the three wise men gazing at the star (book 9) to Jesus' birth (book 24). each book is one of four different trim sizes and features a gold thread loop so that after it's read, it can be hung on the Christmas tree. i think we might do this one in the mornings along with our advent envelopes. 

christmas books
there are so many great christmas storybooks that i wish i could buy or borrow, but unfortunately there aren't really any public libraries here in kampala and my funds are limited but here are two i purchased this year.

Room for a Little One
this is gorgeously illustrated and a sweet story.
i think i was drawn to this because jude will often say to us before his nap or bed, "there's room, mama" and pat the space beside him on the bed.

Humphreys First Christmas
adorable illustrations and told from the perspective of one of the camels accompanying the three wise men. i think my boys will like this one.

family devotional
we have started the first of our advent devotionals. jamie's adapting this one from matt chandler's The Village Church for our boys in conjunction with The Jesus Storybook Bible.

other advent resources
i downloaded a few advent colouring pages for the boys and will probably bring them with us when we take off for a few days later on this week. you can download them for free here.
another great resource is a book called Treasuring God in our Traditions by Noel Piper. i didn't bring mine with me when we moved to uganda, but i wish i did! a friend of mine has a copy here and i'll likely give it another read-through. {note, this is not a Christmas/Advent book per se, but has a section on Christmas}.

the only thing i'm really lacking is some solid christmas dvds for kids. i'd love to hear your recommendations if you have any!

so that's what we're doing - maybe we won't get through it all, but we've got some great traditions that i'm ready to start with my little family here in uganda.

i'd love to hear what you're doing {or not doing?} this christmas!

Saturday, November 26, 2011


we put up our tree today and ate popcorn and watched christmas movies and i bought some lovely christmas ornaments whose proceeds go toward a great cause.

it's the saturday after american thanksgiving; what did you do today?

{also, nick caught the mouse that was terrorizing me last night at 2am. sweet relief!}

Friday, November 25, 2011

november busyness

i can't believe it's november 25th already. craziness.
we've been busy here! 

we had our first visitors this past week {did i take pictures? of course not. ugh.} and i went on my second ever boda boda ride {it was much better during the day than at night}. 
i bought christmas presents at the craft market {have i mentioned how much i love shopping without my kids? so.much.easier.}, i wrapped christmas presents {which jude got into while i was blow drying my hair and totally opened at least one present and then proceeded to adorn himself in said christmas presents},

 wrote {or at least started to write} christmas cards, 

made the Pioneer Woman's chocolate sheet cake {and it was just as amazing as she described},  

and even completed making my advent envelopes {here's a sneak peek}!

i've started playing christmas music and on saturday we'll be decorating our tree! 

i love christmas and since i've become a parent i've found an increased richness to this holiday. i've searched for ways to make memories but also tools and ideas to teach and instill in my kids the true meaning of christmas. this year we are starting a few new christmas and advent traditions. i'm excited to have this time with just our family to strengthen us as a family unit and solidify the traditions we'll decide participate in possibly for the duration that our kids are at home - maybe even longer! 

{on monday i'll be sharing some of the tools and ideas we're enjoying during this Advent season with our kids and our family. so stay tuned!}

until then, happy friday and enjoy the christmas tunes!

Friday, November 18, 2011

the one where a milk truck almost falls on me

today a milk truck almost fell on me and noah.
i'm not even kidding.
it all started with a trip to the friday market - to buy lovely crafts and such.
my friend aletha and her adorable son clancy joined us.
when we got there i found that the entire dirt road that leads to the friday market was all churned up on the left side {which was where we parked last time} and now was a cavernous, hilly landscape. totally unfit for parking on.
so we ventured up a bit further and decided to park on the right side of said dirt road.
and then cars were just barely missing us as they tried to squeeze past us and avoid the mountainous left side of the road and we thought, "hm, maybe not such a good idea to park here." but then as we were heading back into our cars, aletha gasped and grabbed clancy {he was in his carseat on top of the hood of the car} and dashed beside me and up onto the hill we were parked right up against and i looked

and there was a HUGE milk truck. barrelling down the mountainous left side of the road and was now at a 45 degree angle. it was about to fall on us and our babies. i grabbed noah {jamie had jude a bit further up and out of harm's way} and dashed up the side of the hill as far away as i could get from the truck and covered noah with my body thinking, "if it falls, it will fall on me and hopefully i can protect noah."
it somehow did not fall on us and i am certain that there were angels holding it up because how can a truck drive at a 45 degree angle and not tip over? how?
aletha and i talked afterward {with shaking hands} about how we understood the instinct that you hear about how mother's would gladly sacrifice themselves for their children's safety.
we ended up laughing and shaking our heads saying, "this is africa. T I A." truly. because what would prompt someone to drive their massive truck down a road like that? the answer: this is africa.

basically, anything goes here in this beautiful, crazy, tragic, amazing continent.

this is africa.

related: i have become convinced of the presence of angels all around us - especially in relation to vehicles.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

the flip side

so life is not perfect here.
it's not all giving thanks and seeing the shiny side of things.
and i am far {f a r} from perfect. i never want to give the impression that i am floating around with my magic wand pointing out all the lovely things in my life with one of those gag-worthy smiles pasted on my face.
jesus gives me joy and i am s l o w l y learning to give thanks in all things, but i am often a slow learner.
like today.
both noah and jude are sick.
jamie woke up sick as well.
i was grumpy at times.
i gritted my teeth when jude broke a glass left on the table and angrily told him to stop touching mommy & daddy's things. {and then promptly melted when he came over to me and sweetly looked up at me and said, will you forgive me, mommy?}
i threatened, raised my voice and was impatient.
i let the boys watch movies pretty much the entire afternoon because they were both sick and we had power {for the first time in awhile}.

and then as i huffily sat in the bathroom overseeing "water play" before bed, i couldn't help but let a smile wash across my face as the boys looked at their coloured water {my mom sent these little tablets that colour bath water} and commented on what colour their penises were.
i watched with quiet contentment as jude copied exactly what noah was doing with his boat {sink, sink, sink. dump, dump, dump. float, float, float.}.

and then it was time for bed and jude screeched and screamed with tears and snot mingling together on his face because he didn't want to get out of his bath.
and then noah and jude couldn't agree on the same bedtime story and noah teetered on the edge of an epic meltdown before giving in to {tyrant toddler} jude's demands for the cars story instead of aristocats.

they are in bed now.
so is jamie.
i am headed there soon.
i pray that tomorrow will be less tiring. that jamie will feel better. and the boys too.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


life here is full and yet quite simple and slow-paced.
i reflected the other day that my life may appear to be boring and mundane.
but we are happy and well-fed, not worrying about where our next meal is coming from or what would happen if we got sick and had to go to the hospital. 

a care package from "gramma"!

we are blessed but the tricky part is to not become comfortable. 
i told jamie i don't want to become comfortable in my life here.

the view i will never tire of.

i want to be challenged.
i want to sacrifice and give and find joy in the everyday. 
i think when you stop giving and being challenged then life stops being an adventure.

i made bagels. they were quite the process {make the dough, let the dough rise, make the bagel shape, let the bagels rise again, cook in boiling water, then bake} but they were worth it.
i'm so grateful to be living this slow life. 
nowhere to dash off to, and no jam-packed schedule to keep up with the joneses.
i'm finding it's more about being than doing here.
and i like it.

cherishing each moment as it comes.
finding the joy and laughter in weddings next door that blast their awesome 90's hits and songs put to reggae beats.
singing at the top of my lungs that this is the good life on our way to church and being unable not to smile at an incredible men's a cappella singing group.

having impromptu photo shoots with my two littles and marveling at their gorgeous eyes. how can they both have "green" eyes and yet look so different? amazing.

being at peace with mess and chaos and continuing to learn patience and grace.

taking a "sick day" and watching movies and eating popcorn and recognizing the blessing of electricity and power.

learning to take nothing for granted and to always give thanks.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

2 bread recipes

I've made more bread and baked goods during my 2+ months here in Uganda, than possibly in the entire time I lived in Guelph.
I've referenced this recipe here and possibly tweeted about my love of baking bread.
Here's the recipe I've used and found fairly easy to make.

Easy Bread
*from The Wycliffe International Cookbook
4 cups flour {feel free to use any combination of flour; whole wheat, soy, oat, wheat germ, cornmeal, the options are as endless as is the selection at your grocery store!}
3/4 cup milk powder
2 tbsp. dry active yeast
1-3 tsp salt
3-6 tbsp sugar, honey or molasses
3-6 tbsp margarine, shortening or oil

Add and mix well:
2 3/4 cups lukewarm water

3 1/2-4 cups white flour

Knead for 10 minutes, grease and let rise until double. Punch down, divide in half and let rise in greased bread pans until double. Bake at 375F for 30-40 minutes. Remove from the pans to cool. Makes 2 loaves and a pan of "popovers" {I put smallish balls of dough in greased muffin tins for serving with soup}.

I've made white bread, whole wheat bread, whole wheat molasses bread, cinnamon bread...this recipe is so versatile and it's really hard to mess it up.

And yesterday I decided to make Joy the Baker's Carrot Ginger Coconut Soup {so good. Make it today.} and she said in her recipe that she would serve it {and everything else} with crusty bread. So off I went on the hunt for a French Crusty Bread recipe.
And I found it. And it's amazing. Make this today, too.

Crusty French Bread
*from a Family Circle Cookbook
1 1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
2 cups very warm water
6 cups all purpose flour - you may not use all of it
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp shortening
flour for dusting the pans
1 egg white
1 tbsp cold water
1. Pour the very warm water in a large bowl. Sprinkle the yeast into the water. Stir until the yeast dissolves.
2. Stir in 3 cups of the flour, the sugar, shortening and salt; beat until smooth. Slowly beat in enough of the remaining 3 cups of flour to make a stiff dough. It will be somewhat sticky in appearance.
3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface; knead for about 5 minutes.Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, using only as much of the remaining flour to keep dough from sticking.
4. Place the dough in a large greased bowl and turn to coat all over with the shortening. Or, brush very lightly with oil. Cover with a clean towel and place in a warm place to rise. It should double in 45-60 minutes.
5. When dough has doubled, punch it down and cover and let it rise a second time, until doubled in size. This will take 30 minutes.
6. Punch down the dough again and knead 1 minute on a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 2-3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into about a 12x9 inch rectangle. Roll up jelly roll fashion and pinch the seam together. Tuck the ends underneath. Grease baking sheet and sprinkle with flour.
7. Place the bread on the prepared baking sheets: cover and let rise until doubles again, about 30 minutes.
8. Make several evenly placed diagonal cuts on top of each loaf. Beat together the egg white and 1 tbspof cold water: brush over each loaf of bread gently with a pastry brush.
9. Place a pan of hot water on the bottom shelf of the oven. Place baking sheet with loaves on shelf above the water.
10. Bake in a hot 400F oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from baking pans and cool on wire racks.
11. ENJOY!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

a new era

remember my share the love blog posts? remember when i blogged about my love for our sound machine{s}?
yesterday i was commenting to my friend, aletha, that i love our sound machines. if there's any "sleep crutch" i've leaned on heavily, it's been sound machines. my kids have done so well sleeping on the go, in different places and i credit the sound machine largely for their flexibility. it's just a small piece of "familiar" that we can take with us.
so i went to turn on the sound machine yesterday for jude's nap and


the green light went on, but no sound came out. jamie thinks it was likely the result of a power surge.
RIP sound machine. i tried our other sound machine but jude didn't like the sound of it {he's in a scared stage these days.} so i scrapped it.

which brings us to our current situation.
no sound machine. *sob* but we're heading into the hot/dry season so fans will soon become a necessity for us. we have one small desk fan that i used in the boys' room last night and it was a success. they slept well and even slept 'til a decent hour!
i knew this day would come someday and i think it's good for the boys to get used to no white noise in the background. i know they can both sleep without it as they've done so before {and noah is an especially heavy sleeper so i have no worries with him} so here's hoping the rest of this transition is just as smooth as last night was.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


yesterday we {i} caught a beetle in a nutella jar.
the boys had come running to me and slightly hyperventilating they told me that there was "a bug!" outside on the porch.
sure enough there was a large beetle, lying on its back and frantically buzzing and trying to flip himself over.
i shut the doors so the boys could be "safe" and watch the bug when i had an idea to put it in a jar.
i was brave and succeeded in putting the soon-to-be-named Larry the Beetle Bug into a jar.
the boys loved watching the beetle scurry about and try to escape the confines of the small glass house.

i made cinnamon dough ornaments the other day. you can make them too. they smell like christmas. i hope that they don't attract small {or large} creatures.

also? it's weird to me that we are wearing shorts and t-shirts and flip flops and playing outside in the sun {and refreshingly cool rain} and it is november 8th. weird, but good. very good. {not going to lie - i love being able to tell my kids to put on some crocs and then we're outside! none of this jeans-sweaters-socks-coats-hats-scarves-mitts-boots business.}

i've been spending more time with Jesus than i can remember in the last 4 years. being here is so good for me. for my soul. today i was reading from judges and thought that if someone were to make a high quality movie of some of the old testament stories they would likely be rated R for extreme violence. another thought i had? God is so patient and merciful. and He uses normal, weak, faulty, sinful people. and He does amazing things through them. so cool.

we balance the mundane with crazy adventures on a weekly basis here.
we eat yummy food.
we laugh a lot.
i love it.
God gave us an opportunity to respond today with grace and generosity, with love and compassion and we seized it. and we were filled with joy. it is truly a joy to be used by Him.
so this is what i've been up to lately.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

jamie's strawberry birthday cake

i think jamie and i have a new tradition for our birthday weeks. 
whoever is celebrating their birthday gets to stay in bed when the kids wake up in the morning and the other person gets the kids up. 
for the entire week preceding your birthday. 
i liked it when jamie did it for me so i did it for him (and now i'm ready to lie in bed a little longer tomorrow morning!)
today jamie turned 30.
i'm no longer in my 30's without him.
he didn't ask for much, but upon my questioning him, he requested a strawberry cake.
strawberry it is, babe.

1 3/4 cups sugar
1 pacakge (85 g) strawberry jello
1 cup butter, softened
4 eggs (room temperature)
3 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup milk, room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla
1/4 cup straberry puree/jam

prehead oven to 350F. Butter and flour pan size of choice. i have limited options here so i chose my oval glass pan.
in a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and stire the milk, puree/jam and the vanilla. set aside.
sift and whisk the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl and set aside.
cream the sugar, jello and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy - about 5 minutes.
add the eggs, one by one, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
add the wet and dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, alternating between wet and dry. try not to overmix.
fill your pan(s) with batter and bake for 30-40 minutes - although if you are going with smaller pans, you will need to bake for less time. check your cake(s) at 20 minutes and once you feel it's almost ready, set the timer for 2 minute intervals.
let cool on racks for 10 minutes before loosening edges with a knife.

happy birthday to the love of my life, my best friend, fellow sojourner on this crazy adventure called life and the father to my children. 
here's to our 30's!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

jude's antics

jude is just one of those kids.
you know the kid whose parents always have an outrageous story to tell of his latest adventures?
the kind of kid who can't be left alone for too long or else he's bound to get into some sort of crazy mischief?
the one who blurts out hilarious comments in unexpected moments?
jude cracks me up every.single.day.

yesterday alone he did several things that made me laugh out loud.
after dinner he slapped his hand and then said, "sorry, hand. will you forgive me?" *pause* "will you forgive me, hand? HAND?!"

later after i gave him a cookie he looked at it and then made it say {as if it were a puppet}, "hi, i'm a butterfly." and then he made if "fly" all around. he then looked at me and said, "i eat butterflies. big ones." and proceeded to shove the cookie into his mouth.

he constantly does sound effects and plays around with using different "voices" depending on the situation.

and then last night i ran the boys' baths {see this post for what that actually means} while they were wrestling with jamie in our room. i went back to the living room, heard jamie say "okay, bath time" and then noah came out to me to help him with his shirt. then he ran back to the bathroom and called out, "MOM! Jude is...um, come SEE!" and i already knew what i would find when i went into the bathroom.

and this morning? 
while jamie was scrubbing off some pen & marker that noah had used to illustrate some art on our coffee table, i was trying to print off and make up our weekly meal plan when jude came into the spare room {where our printer is} and said,
"look mom! a daddy rock!"
i looked over.
it was a rock-hard piece of poop. in his hand.

life is nothing less than exciting around here!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

oh hai

we've been here and there.
we didn't do halloween {it's not a thing here} but the boys put these costumes on and wore them the entire afternoon of the 1st. 
hope you're having a great week!

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