Thursday, February 28, 2013


Praise God from whom all blessings flow;

Praise him, all creatures here below;

Praise him above, ye heavenly host;

Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.


- the Doxology
Thomas Ken 1674

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

a stripping away

We have less than 4 months left in Uganda before moving back to Canada.

Since we've been back from Spain we've all been brutally sick.
We've had a really crappy water situation.
We've had rotten power and were without for over 3 days straight.
We've had bedbugs and "African B.O.".
Blaise is adorable as ever, but I'm waking up at least 3 or 4 times a night still with him. Colour me sleep deprived.

and I've gone off sugar.

I feel like all the things I usually go to are being stripped away.
A nice shower before bed to wash off the sweat and dirt and grime of the day? Nope.
An internet connection or even battery on my computer/phone to connect with friends and family? Nope.
A lovely chocolate bar in a particularly stressful moment of the day? Nope. {Although this is my own doing.}
The feeling of being safe from critters, even in your own bed? Nope.
A solid 5+ hours of consecutive {or total} sleep? Nope.

God is stripping these things away from me. He is not done with me even though I only have 4 more months left in Uganda. I know that He still has much for me. I often reflect and think, Have I even changed? Is my life different because I moved to Uganda for two years? Do I love Jesus more than I did 2 years ago?

I feel like a small child. Slow to listen. Slow to learn. I feel gratitude for the patience and mercy of God toward me.

Because He continues to say to me, Come to ME. Rest in ME. Find your solace and your comfort in ME. Those other things may be good, but they won't last like I do. Come to me, sweet child. I will give you rest.

I have changed, but it is not of my own doing. It is all Jesus. Alive in me. Isn't that absolutely mind-blowing? Stop and think about it. Jesus. Is alive. In me. It is Him working to change my character into someone who is more gracious and generous. Someone who loves more, gives more, serves more joyfully.

I also feel like Jesus is helping me reroute my attention back to my family. Like I'm coming full circle to where I began when we first moved here. I have my three amazing, precious boys. Shut the laptop. Walk away from the iPad. Get down on the ground and play cars or Lego. Get the puppets out. Climb a tree. Make a craft. DANCE PARTY!

So there is a stripping away that continues in my life. I pray that when we move back to Canada, I continue to be changed. Even when it's hard and painful and the stripping away just plain sucks. Because I don't want to look back in another two years and wonder, Have I even changed/grown at all? Do I love Jesus more now than I did two year ago?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Barcelona with the kiddos

Last year after our conference in Nerja, we took a train to Madrid and spent a few days there. This year we decided to go to Barcelona. We ended up spending longer in Barcelona and thankfully the weather was so much warmer than it was last year in Madrid.
We had some good moments and some hard moments, but I think that's just how it goes when you go on vacation with young kids.
We did a lot of walking.
We went to the science center which was really cool.

indoor Rain forest and aquarium

We had McDonald's! Actually we ate quite a bit of McDonald's. I think this is in large part to being kid-friendly and we've been in Africa for a year and a half. 

I think this probably qualifies as some of the worst parents. Feeding your 4 month old McDonald's. Sheesh.

My favourite day was our stroll along La Rambla. It's a street that's got a huge walkway down the middle where vendors sell delicious smelling ice-cream and candies or small pets or typical kitschy souvenirs.
Blaise happily slept in the carrier for the entire time and the boys enjoyed looking at everything we passed.
We went into La Boquieria {a really cool market} and drooled over all the delicious produce and chocolate.

They even have these people that pretend to be statues and if you put money into their bucket they do something funny and let you take their picture. I wanted the boys to come and do it but they were a bit apprehensive so I showed them with this guy:

Babywearin' and shooting a gun. That's how we roll around here.

I really wanted to take the boys for churros and hot chocolate. We walked down these incredibly narrow alley ways and went around a corner and stumbled upon this huge, old church with gorgeous stained glass windows. Amazing. I love Europe!

So let me tell you; this hot chocolate was exactly that. Melted chocolate with a bit of hot milk. It was incredibly thick. So thick and sweet that my boy with the sweet tooth {Noah. He takes after me.} couldn't even finish his!

We walked around Parc Guell and got some great views of the city:

We had a really good time even though we were all sick and made the most of our time in Spain.
As we plan our travels back to Canada we are still debating if we'll take some vacation days on the way - somewhere in the UK or Europe. Jamie and I dream of a vacation with just the two of us but for now, we plan our vacations to be kid-friendly. For the most part.

Suggestions for traveling with kids:

Consider renting an apartment instead of staying at a hotel. It's often cheaper, comes with all the amenities and you get the feeling of actually living in the city, instead of just visiting. You will also be able to save money by purchasing groceries and making at least one of your meals every day {for us it was breakfasts and often dinners}.

Find some indoor and outdoor activities so you can plan your days according to the weather. We had a really windy day which made it seem colder than it was (around 10 degrees). We spent most of that day walking around the Science Center.

Don't be so driven to complete your agenda of "SEEING ALL THE THINGS" that you all end up miserable and tired. We had many meltdowns and the stroller that was intended for Blaise, ended up being used by Jude while I wore Blaise in the carrier. Everyone wins!

Be flexible. And then laugh a lot and do things you wouldn't normally do {like eat McDonalds almost every day or let your kids stay up later than usual}.

What are your tips for traveling with kids to places that aren't specifically geared towards kids? {ie. Not a resort with kids program, Disney World, etc.}

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


My boys are obsessed with dinosaurs. I figured at some point this phase would hit. I remember my brothers going through it. But I continue to do double takes over and over again as I hear Noah and Jude spouting off dinosaur names and knowledge. Their brains are little sponges!

One of my favourite dinosaur shows that they've been watching is called Dinosaur Train. For a few reasons;

1. It's educational. In every episode they talk about hypotheses {hypothesi?}, are introduced to new dinosaurs and their characteristics and hear from Dr. Scott, the paleontologist. It's hilarious to hear my boys repeat {word for word} the facts that are presented.
2. It promotes adoption. I know. This one is a bit weird. But it's true! A family of pteranadons {the flying dinosaurs for those who aren't well-verse in dinos} adopt a baby t-rex and journey all over the different dinosaur eras {via the Dinosaur Train of course} to discover what kind of dinosaur he is. I love this one.
3. It doesn't push "the earth is hundreds of millions years old" agenda. The boys have also really gotten into Land Before Time movies where it is mentioned many times that dinosaurs were on the earth millions and millions of years ago. Now I'm not 100% sure of where I stand, but I think I fall into the "Young Earth Creationist" view. So I appreciate Dinosaur Train's approach.
4. The characters come up against problems or conflict but are corrected gently by their parents and bad attitudes and whiny-ness aren't perpetuated.

It's a cute show and our boys love it.

Now I'm on the hunt for dinosaur resources that don't preach the "Old Earth" theory. Anyone know of any books or other resources? {They don't have to be accessible to me in Uganda, but I will tuck the advice away for later.}

Monday, February 18, 2013

on public breastfeeding :: an update

I've been meaning to write an update on how the breastfeeding is going with Blaise and how my feelings have or haven't changed regarding public breastfeeding since having my third.

My main feelings can be summed up like so:

I love it.

Breastfeeding in Africa {specifically Uganda} has been incredibly liberating. I don't even think about it. If Blaise is fussy, I feed him. I think I may have used my breastfeeding cover 4 times since his birth? It's just been a complete non-issue. After having 3 kids it would seem I've mostly mastered {depending on the shirt I'm wearing} the art of modestly and comfortably breastfeeding in public. 
Now that Blaise is getting a bit older and more aware of his surroundings, sometimes I choose to breastfeed in my room or somewhere quieter if he's getting distracted and pulling off frequently. But he's such a fast and efficient eater that he's usually done in about 5 minutes anyway.
With our recent travels I breastfed on planes, on buses and even at the Barcelona Science Center.

I was breastfeeding Blaise in the childcare room during our conference before dropping him off {such a blessing to be kid-free for at least a couple hours!} and one of the childcare workers asked if he was sleeping. Which is generally my goal while breastfeeding publicly {to do it in a way that isn't so obvious}. Well, that and actually feeding my child of course.

So while breastfeeding has it's challenges {like not being able to hand off a nighttime feeding to Jamie or anyone else}, it's been easy for me and no-fuss {not to mention free!}. Which for a pretty busy Mama of three little dudes makes it completely ideal.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

5 months

Dear Blaise,

Holy Wow! You are 5 months old! You have changed SO much in the past month and you've had many adventures already.

You've been rolling over {both ways} for quite some time now. It's only been in the past night that you've rolled onto your belly during the night and refused to roll back and cried for some help.

You've been reaching for our food and mimicking our mouths as we chew our food. You had your first taste of congee {homemade rice porridge} yesterday and you weren't really a fan. We'll keep trying, though and see if you get the hang of it.

You smile and laugh and absolutely ADORE your brothers. Noah can make you smile and laugh more than anyone else. You are obliging {if not happy} of being held by others. I left you with some lovely childcare workers when we were in Spain and although usually not for more than 2 hours at a time, you did well and gave Mama a bit of a break.

You still breastfeed every 2-3 hours {day and night!}. It's not ideal {for me}, but it seems to be what you need at this point so I'm just going with it. Perhaps when you get the hang of solid foods that will help you to be content for a bit longer.

You went on your first plane ride{s} as we all traveled to Spain! You did pretty well on the flights, nursing and sleeping in my arms. You giggled and smiled at strangers who would make funny faces at you and talk to you, charming just about everyone around you.

I'm hoping that this month is the month when you sleep a bit longer at night, but I'm not holding out for that to happen.

You can sit! And you're quite proud of yourself. I've brought the pack 'n play out to the living room to have a place for you to play where you won't roll of the couch or get smothered by your well-meaning brothers. You can usually last for anywhere from 5 minutes to sometimes 15 or 20.

And you're sick. A cough and a runny nose have plagued you since we were in Barcelona. I made your Daddy buy a too-expensive snot sucker {read: nasal aspirator} to help you to breathe better. I really hope this cold passes soon because it's no fun for any of us {and also I'm hoping you sleep longer once you're not sick}. I took you to the doctor because you were really tugging on your ear so I thought you might have an ear infection. You don't. Thankfully. But you were really good at the doctor's. You let her listen to your heart  and breathing/lungs and happily let the nurse measure your weight, length and head circumference. You are 18lbs5oz! Quite the chunker. Looks like those 2-3 hour feedings are paying off.

Oh and you are napping longer then 20 minutes which is fantastic even though I'm already getting used to your 45 minutes naps. Occasionally you'll take a longer nap lasting anywhere from 1-2 hours which is fantastic. Can you make a habit out of this, please?

Your hair is falling. No more spikey mohawk. I still love that you have so much hair.
And I love you. So very, very much.


*watch Blaise grow!

Friday, February 15, 2013

simply Spain

Now despite losing Bunny and all the "bad" and "ugly" parts of getting to Spain I really have one thing to say:

It was worth it.

We love being in Spain. Last year the boys were so enamored with it that they listed it among Canada and Uganda as where they are from. 
Our one week conference was in Nerja which is in the South of Spain. Our apartment was ocean front and completely lovely. The conference itself was fantastic and provided childcare which I gladly dropped all three of our boys off at every day. We had some initial struggles to get the older two boys to go, but overall they loved their teachers {as proof: Noah invited his teachers to come and eat dinner with us when he saw them waiting in line to get their food. So.Cute.}.

We had a "free" day and we spent the entire morning at the beach.

The boys and their friend Sebastian who is STINTing {with his parents of course} in Scotland.

It was freezing, but that didn't stop the boys from playing in the Mediterranean.

We later explored town, enjoyed some gelato {have you ever had Ferrero Rocher gelato? AMAZING.} and walked the beautiful streets of Nerja.

Jamie and his friend Andy rented mopeds and bombed around town during the afternoons and in the evening when our boys were in childcare, Jamie took me for a ride during the sunset. It was amazing. Quite possibly my favourite moment in Spain. Riding along the waterfront, watching the bright, red sun setting and reflecting over the water. No pictures, but I'm pretty sure it'll stay in my mind forever. 

One afternoon I took the boys for a walk up to a nearby park. It's been almost 2 years since I uttered those words. A walk. On a sidewalk. To a park. These are the things I've missed from Canada. Strange how it's the little things that we end up missing the most.
Now this park was a bit lame, but the boys played on it by themselves for a good hour while I basked in the sun with Blaise. GLORIOUS.

My view from the park.

It was such a great week catching up with friends. The boys even performed in their first on-stage song ever! It was SO cute. Jude actually did the actions and while Noah stood and faced the wall the whole time, I was proud of him for actually making it on stage! Check it out!

I enjoyed a one-on-one coaching session with a fantastic staff woman {and friend} from Canada. She listened to me and my experience and understood a lot about living in Africa {she's married to an African and lived in Ghana for a time}. We talked so long that I was late for my next appointment. Which was counseling. 
I've never been to counseling but it was offered for free so I thought I'd try it out. I'd also seen some anger in me that surprised me and saddened me as I interacted with Noah who had refused to go to childcare a couple times. Let me tell you, I am a total convert to counseling. I didn't really know at first what I wanted to talk about, but I talked and she listened and asked some really good questions and pointed out some words I had been using as I talked about the things I wanted for my kids and our home and our family. It's something I am going to look into as we move back to Canada and I continue to work through thoughts and life stages and transition back to living in Canada.

Our time in Nerja was a total blessing. Stay tuned for our time in Barcelona!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

traveling with young kids: the good, the bad, and the ugly

So we took a bunch of flights recently to Spain. With three kids. For the first time. 
It was...interesting.

Our flight path:
Entebbe, Uganda to Cairo, Egypt. 1ish hour layover.
Cairo, Egypt to Barcelona, Spain. Arrive around midday. Take a {very expensive} taxi to our apartment hotel for the night. Get up early to be at the airport for around 7am.
Barcelona, Spain to Malaga, Spain. Kick around at the airport for 2ish hours to wait for our shuttle bus to Nerja. Spend a week in Nerja for our work conference.
Then Malaga, Spain to Barcelona for 6 days of vacation. Take public transit to our rented apartment for the week. No more expensive taxis for us. After 6 days it's back to the airport in Barcelona.
Barcelona, Spain to Cairo, Egpyt. 1.5 hours layover. Eat Burger King and Haagen Dazs ice cream {banoffee flavour in case you were wondering. Pure heaven.}
Cairo, Egpyt back to Entebbe, Uganda. Arrive at 3am.

The Good

I made surprise packages for the boys and put them in their carry on suitcases including some candy, crackers, and a few other snacks as well as stickers, crayons and colouring books. I also snuck in a new book into each of their suitcases which they actually didn't discover until we arrived at our final destination. They were also allowed to pick 5 toys to include and were looking forward to playing with the various dinosaurs they chose {they're both in a dino phase these days}. They were really looking forward to these packages and it kept them occupied for all of 7 minutes. Just kidding. They were occupied for at least a third of the first flight.

Jamie charged up his iPad and computer and the boys watched movies and played games on the various "screens". This probably kept them occupied for at least half of the flight times. 

Blaise happily slept for a good chunk of the flights. 

I had an empty row to myself with Blaise for four out of six flights. It was almost for three flights, but my hero {my hubs} got me a row to myself for our final flight instead of sitting beside two men again. One of which had a decent case of BO.

The Bad

Our flight from Cairo to Barcelona was filled with high school students who happily {and loudly} hung over the backs of seats, walked up and down the aisles as I tried to rock Blaise to sleep. I felt like I was on a high school bus trip. 
This was one of the flights that I did not have the row to myself. Luckily I was seated next to a really nice university-aged couple who were utterly charmed by Blaise.

Our flight from Malaga to Barcelona was full. And I was in between two business men. It was not pleasant although both men were as accommodating as you can be to someone who doesn't speak your language and is breastfeeding their 4 month old baby right beside you.

Jude was his usual 3.5 yr old self. Provoking Noah, getting up and down, and waking up extremely cranky and loud in his lamentations about how rough his life is. And just generally complaining whenever he didn't get exactly what he wanted.

The Ugly

Trying to rock Blaise when it seemed every.single.person wanted to walk up and down the aisle.

The flight attendants on Egypt Air were generally unhelpful and disinterested in what would appear to be their jobs. They closed off the back so I had nowhere to stand with Blaise other than in the aisle that everyone wanted to walk up and down.

Egypt Air {at least the four flights we were on} don't have tv's on the backs of the seats. This was a bit disappointing for the boys, but thankfully Jamie's iPad and computer lasted the flights. I probably couldn't have watched anything if I wanted to.

Our flight from Malaga to Barcelona {the same one where I was stuck in between two business men} was ROUGH. Blaise was fussy. As I was nursing him on the way up, I felt/heard him fill his diaper. So after he was done and the seat belt sign went off, I got up to change him in the bathroom. But as I got there, but flight attendant said someone was in there and I had to wait. Behind the curtain. Unfortunately I was carrying Blaise in a way that he was looking over my shoulder. And he totally spit up on the man sitting in the first row. I was utterly humiliated. Thankfully he {the man, not Blaise. Blaise was oblivious to it all.} was really good about it. And then Jude screamed the whole descent into Barcelona. And peed his pants. Oh yes. That was not a very good flight.

On the flight with all the highschoolers I had to put my finished tray of food on the ground because there were no flight attendants nearby. One of the Egyptian students came by and step on/kicked the tray and leftover food went everywhere. She got a pissed off look on her face and loudly said something to me in Arabic. I was livid, but politely said I was sorry. I think she was surprised that I either wasn't Egyptian or didn't get all up in arms at her. Either way, she backed off, but I was almost at my wits' end by that point.

Losing Bunny somewhere along the leg of Cairo to Barcelona. {He's doing a lot better, by the way. Last night Noah gave him his Pooh bear to sleep with and that worked wonders in settling Jude to sleep right away. When I found out, my heart melted to hear of Noah's compassion. My sweet boy.}

Because our flight from Barcelona to Cairo got changed twice {once because it got cancelled and then another time due to the unrest in Egypt and our layover was 24 hours. So we extended our stay in Barcelona so that we'd only have 2 hours in the airport in Cairo} our tickets were a bit bonkers in the system and it took forever to check in. We were literally "those people" who hold up the plane and are the last to rush in and haphazardly get settled. The boys were exhausted and bored and antsy waiting to check in. Great start to 12 hours of travelling ahead.

I guess in the end we survived. And overall we did okay. But it goes without saying that I'm not so much a fan of traveling with little kids. It's not for the faint of heart, that's for sure. And it certainly makes coming back home extremely appealing. Even if it's stinkin' hot out. 

Some "take home points":

- if you are taking two long flights somewhere, it makes things easier to stay at least one overnight in the country you're flying through to break things up.
- if your kids have trouble keeping underpants dry or use a diaper at night and you're crossing time zones, PUT THEM IN A PULL-UP. I cannot stress this one. The only flight I didn't put Jude in a pull-up for, he peed his pants. And of course, they always have to go when the seat belt sign is on. Of course.
- for me, it's worth it to fly with a more expensive airline that has more kid-friendly food {the boys at nothing by snacks I brought and the buns that came with the meals} and tv's on the back of the seats. 
- I'd personally prefer not to have to get up in the middle of the night or too early to make a flight. Evening flights or daytime flights are best. No rush. And everyone's less cranky.
- snacks and special treats on the flight are not to be underestimated. It's fun for everyone and makes things more enjoyable.

What are your tricks, tips and experience with flying with young kids?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

RIP Bunny

We had some interesting adventures in traveling as we flew through Cairo to Barcelona and then spent an overnight in Barcelona and then flew to Malaga {it's in the south of Spain} and then took a bus to Nerja where our conference was. Our first time flying as a family of 5. Overall we did okay. But there was a casualty. Somewhere between Cairo and Barcelona {either in the plane or at the Barcelona airport} Jude lost his bunny.
The bunny we gave him when he was 9 months old.

It's truly the end of an era.
Once we realized what happened we felt bad but Jude didn't really seem to fathom what had happened. It's a bit frustrating because we've been working with him to help him remember what he does with things and stop being so haphazard with his toys. There were a few sad moments later on in the day when he said, "I miss bunny." or "I want bunny." but nothing major. We bought him a new snuggle toy and life went on in Spain. He was often up and out of his bed a bit more than usual, but because of the late nights in Spain it wasn't so big a deal as he was pretty tired out by the end of the day.

But tonight's bedtime was rough. It was like a mourning for bunny had begun in earnest. Jude was in and out of bed and being disobedient and defiant and we tried everything with him. Finally he started sniffing and crying saying that he missed bunny and he wanted bunny and the sobs began. Poor guy.

I let him have one of the loveys that was given to Blaise and obviously he's not bunny {said in between sobs; but he doesn't have ears and he's not green. so he can't make me happy.}, but...maybe he'll form a new attachment.
The above picture is a classic for Jude; bunny in arms, fingers in the mouth. But I've noticed lately that he hasn't really sucked on his fingers since losing bunny.

Bunny was always around and always loved on. We checked each time we went to the Barcelona airport and with multiple desks/personnel. No bunny. RIP Bunny. You will be missed.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

three on the third

I actually did take this on the third. But I didn't bring my computer and Jamie's computer doesn't have a card reader. So I'm back dating it. Because I can.

Spain was amazing. More on that later. But these three guys got a lot of attention - especially Blaise who made tons of friends on the metro which we took every day in Barcelona.

I had wanted to get a picture of them outside somewhere cool in Barcelona {which is where we were on the third} but it was quite windy and cold that day and there may or may not have been numerous melt downs and tantrums. So a few pictures snapped during some tv time worked just as well in our Ikea-decorated apartment that we rented for the week {definitely the way to travel with kids}.

Noah. He is just growing so fast. Jude is non-stop and mostly defiant. Blaise is adorable but enduring his first cold, poor guy.

We've had some really tough moments over the past couple weeks but also some really good ones. Traveling with young kids is not for the faint of heart, but I think it's worth it to push the limits and see what you can do and what doesn't work. Again, more on that later.

Three boys in Barcelona! Huzzah!
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