Saturday, June 30, 2012

Nomad no more...

Cleaning out the desk this morning I came across a list I'd made of everywhere I've lived.

44 houses
22 cities
6 states
4 countries

We've been in our current home for just over six years.  It won't be our last.  But we still have a little longer here.  I'm okay with that.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Hot time...summer in the city...

If you need us, we'll be inside.  Sucking on ice cubes.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Takes a beating...

So...yesterday we had a storm blow through.  A short storm.  No more than 20 minutes or so.  And a tornado.  And 80 mph winds.  And hail.

Once again, our little home got off lucky.  Our neighbors? Not so much.  Their massive oak tree took down our power line, but missed their house and everyone else's.  Our power was restored within 24 hours.  Internet finally came back up this evening.

And my husband? He went out for a run and got caught in the middle of it.  I may, or may not have been a wee bit hysterical by the time he staggered in the back door...dripping, beat up but up right.

New house rule:  Check weather forecast before heading for a run.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Life in the slow lane...

A patch of sunshine.  A new best friend.  It's a good life.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

For the new folks...why a blog?

A few years back I found myself home alone with a newborn and a 2-year-old.  My husband was still working the midnight shift so it really did feel like I was going about this whole parenting/survival thing  single handedly.

The loneliness and the overwhelmingness of it all was excruciating.  So I did what I had always done.  I started writing.  But instead of pen to paper as a means of clearing the mind clutter I took to the internet.  And that's how this blog came about.  I made it public because I knew I wasn't the only one out there going through the same issues.  I figured if even one other mother, one other law enforcement wife found comfort in the fact that I was making a complete mess of it then putting all of my fears and failures into words was worth it.

Some of my greatest pain has been poured out in this space.  But so has some of my greatest joy and peace.  Through it all I have met an amazing group of people.  Some come and go, some stick around longer than others, some left in huffs when they realized I neither needed nor wanted their prolific advice, others left when they realized that I stood up for my beliefs and opinions just as strongly as they did, and then...then there are a few who have my back no matter what.  And I will never be able to express how very grateful I am to have them in my life!

I write for myself.  I share stories and pictures for family living far away.  And now, writing down my stories from childhood, I write for my children.  They'll read all of this one day.  I'm sure they'll take to their therapist as evidence against me and their dad.  I'm fine with that--as long as I get a share of royalties from their own tell-all book.

Over the past several days something amazing has happened.  When I wrote the first piece about my memories growing up in Africa I shared it with my fellow TCKs/Global Nomads/MKs.  The response, not just from them but from everyone else who discovered this little blog from those posts, has been overwhelmingly supportive.

I always get a little nervous when my dad shares my blog link...he does it every now and then for various reasons, the last time being the epic chocolate cake I made him for his birthday.  But I figure when I link to it, the people who see the link have a pretty good idea as to what they're in for.  I'm not the perfect missionary/preacher's kiddo.  I cuss when the occasion calls for it...and it often does.  Sometimes the post is little more than a goofy discussion I had with either one of my children or my husband. There's a link on my sidebar to my husband's blog.  He deals with the shifty underbelly of humanity on a routine basis.  His means of coping are much like mine--write it down, preferably with either a glass of IPA or a shiraz...or, on a truly bad day, a couple fingers of Glenmorangie.  We're both human.  We're also both each other's strongest supporter.

So here's the blanket disclaimer:  I do not ever intentionally mean to be offensive.  If, at any point, you are offended, then I apologize.  But I'm most likely not going to take back whatever it was I said that set you off in the first place.  Neither do I tolerate inflammatory, racial or personal attacks in the comments.  I don't have a problem at all if someone disagrees with me...but keep it respectful and I'll do the same.  As I tell my children, as soon as the argument/discussion crosses the line of attacks and disrespect--I automatically win by default.

With all of that said...Karibu sana! Stick around and chew the news for a bit.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Africa Storytelling...chapter 2


How does one pack up one's life, one's family and move over the ocean and across the world?

Moving was nothing new to our little family.  By the time we were preparing for the Big Move, we were already on my 5th house.  I was only four years old.  But this time was different.  The furniture was staying.  The psyco cat who would attack our feet for no reason was going to a new, child free home.  Our family of four was moving out of a two story house into 50 foot motor home for the next year (my dad just informed me that it was only half that my 4-year-old self it was massive!)

 Everything we chose to keep was going into 50 gallon drums.  Some were going to be stored in my aunt's garage.  Others filled with clothing, toys we couldn't live without and small household items were going to be shipped to be kept in storage until we arrived to collect them.

Safe and sound in a 3rd world warehouse.  There was no way for that to go wrong.  By the time we caught up with them it was evident someone else had gotten to them first.  Our own lists of contents had gotten mixed up so it was unclear until they had all been unpacked as to what was left alone and what was taken.  It's funny what some people place value on.  And it's also true that God looks out for mad men and fools.  The items that were irreplaceable, mementos to remind my mother of home, were untouched.  

After time spent in Kenya whilst my parents attended language school and my sister and I attended the local missionary day school, we packed up again and flew to Tanzania. 

 It was to be my first of many, many flights on one of these tiny aircrafts.  It was also the first time we learned I get horrifically air sick.   The planes are loaded with the heaviest in front to balance out the luggage in the rear.  Which meant the smallest passengers also sat in the rear seats.  One of the greatest days of my life was the day I was the only passenger and I sat up front with the pilot.  Not only did he let me take the stick for a while but when he noticed me getting a little green he leaned over and opened up my window.  Instant cure!

We had been led to believe there was a house ready for us to move into when we finally arrived in Mwanza, Tanzania.  Their intel was inaccurate.  For our first eight months we house sat for various other missionaries when they were out of town.  One of the local Bible colleges allowed us a small guest house when nothing else was available.  

My parents found a man who ran out of money whilst in the process of building a house.  They took over the project with the promise we could live there until our own house was built.  It was poorly built, not a single bare cement floor was level and there was an entire room that was simply a shower...with an in-floor toilet.  But it was ours.  We moved in a week before our second Christmas in Africa. 

My mother was busy that week.  After three years of being on the move, we finally had a place to settle into for a while.  As they were unpacking barrels they came across personal items of mine and my sister's they had assumed stolen and lost forever.  Seeing as it was so close to Christmas, they chose to wrap them up and put them under our tiny little three foot artificial Christmas tree.  

Over the years, when I've been asked about my best Christmas memory, I always go back to that first Christmas morning in Mwanza in our own home.  Opening up toys we already owned and the simple joy of having them back.  I know my parents worried over whether or not my sister and I had enough.  We had enough.


The Boy's birthday falls on a week day this year.  His dad is working.  All of his cousins will be out of town.  His grandparents will be out of town.


He's been planning his party since before we even cleaned up after last year's.

I sat down and talked the whole situation out with him this morning.  Explaining why a big party is kinda out of the question.

I could actually see his little heart breaking.

I told him he could pick where he wanted to go eat for his birthday and that we'd have a family party on July 4th when the whole family will be back together (minus the eldest cousin who is off performing with Spirit of Atlanta this summer...yeah, he's that awesome.)

But will I still get presents?

Yes, sweetheart.  Not only will you still get presents--but you will get two days of presents!

So can we go to Cracker Barrel?

Monday, June 18, 2012

African storytelling...

It's beginning to dawn on the Boy that his mama's childhood was very different than his own.  We're in the early stages of planning a trip back to Tanzania and he's started asking questions of what my life was like there.  For every story I tell him, a million more flood my memories.

I thought, since this is my blog and all, that I'd write some of them down here.  I need to do that anyway.  There are Things about me that my children need to know.  One day, it might help them understand why I think and act the way I do.

Start at the Very Beginning...

The heat...unlike anything I'd encountered in my short five years on this earth.  The mass of bodies packed into the small space of the airport.  But most vividly of all, I recall a moth the size of my hand...I fixated on it as my parents worked their way through customs and immigrations.  I also remember being mesmerized by the soldiers, old Russian AK-47s slung casually over their shoulders, standing about.

Summer of 1977 and we had just arrived on African soil.  Jos, Nigeria, to spend six weeks with my grandparents.  They were serving as hostel parents of the boarding school my dad had attended whilst growing up, having moved to Africa when he was five-years-old as well.


We were going to stay with them for a while before heading further south to Kenya where my parents would be enrolled in language school to learn Swahili prior to our move to Tanzania.

I don't remember much of our time in Nigeria.  Bits and pieces stand out. Trips out exploring the country side.  A leprosy colony where we watched residents make lace and other crafts to sell.  Gramps introducing my sister and I to "slime" and showing off his collection of halloween masks.  

The Lantana plant will forever be associated with that time in my brain.  It was my first time seeing the tiny bunches of flowers and they were growing everywhere.  I remember thinking they were fairy bouquets.  

Bougainvillea, Jacaranda and Mango trees will always be associated with the rest of my years in Africa, but the Lantana flowers still bring back the special time spent in Jos with my grandparents.  

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Celebrating daddies everywhere...

To all you Daddies out there...

You are loved, appreciated, and admired far, far more than you will ever know!
Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Witnessing a still nameless wee tiny 7-week-old kitten stalk and pounce on our resident mama cat (10x her size and who has done nothing but hiss and snarl at her for the past three days) I want to name her Mkali...Fierce in Swahili.  But that sounds too close to Kyleigh...our wee girl child.

Names have power.  We should have known better than to name a red-head Fierce.

Edited:  Kitten has now been christened Her Right Honorable Maggie T. Kitty.  But we'll just call her Maggie so it doesn't all go to her head.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Today's lesson in anatomy...or something...

Tap dancing uses muscles differently than Running.  And I think there are one or two muscles in my buttocks region that have, until tonight, previously gone un-noticed.

Tomorrow will be painful.  But the next seven weeks are going to be a lot of fun!

Monday, June 11, 2012

If 40 is the new 30 then this is definitely *not* a mid-life crisis...

I start tap dancing lessons tomorrow night.

We just accepted a 7-week-old kitten into our already crazy household.

And I'm getting my nose pierced.

The first and last have everything to do with the fact that I'm far more comfortable in my own skin now than I was ten years ago and nothing to do with an attempt to cling to my youth.

The middle one has everything to do with the fact that we are, apparently, Nuts.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A cake story...

My family is stretched out over the globe.  But this Mighty Mouse mother managed to gather all but two brothers and two sisters at Kimbilio.

Her youngest brother drove in late last week.  His birthday is in a couple of weeks but his daughters were also joining in the family fun but they won't be together as a family on his birthday.  So eldest daughter, Jenn, sent me a link and a picture a few weeks back...just wondering if I'd be up for helping them make her dad a birthday cake.

First's this Jenn.  How can I refuse her anything?!  Secondly...I rarely turn down a chance to make a spectacular birthday cake!

Four layers of red velvet and yellow cake, filled with cream cheese frosting and fresh strawberries.  Covered in whipped custard frosting.  The red velvet and the frosting were our grandmother's recipes.

I baked the cakes, made the frosting and took it all out with us today.  My mom got her brother out of the house on a hike with her and the kiddos so we could assemble it in secrecy.  Hot kitchen (my dad was finishing up his famous beef curry) and gravity were not our friends.  Lots of laughter.  Lots of prayer.  But it stayed together long enough to be served!  Then it collapsed.  It's now being enjoyed as a delicious red velvet/strawberry shortcake trifle.  

I love my family! Well...most of them.  Today was a special memory.  Family, great food, splashing in the river with my kiddos...a day I'll put in my pocket to remember for always.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Preschool officially ended last Friday.  This week is wrap up and clean up week for the teachers.  Since I didn't really have my own class room I didn't have a lot to do in the way of cleaning up.  So I've been flitting about helping out others in their various moves and packing up jobs.

Over the past three days I've learned a good deal about my co-workers...and vis-a-versa.  The main and Most Important thing I've learned this week is that there is zero, zip, zilch expectation of me being Normal.

I hold a college degree in journalism.  I've lived around the world.  I've worked for the US Navy, I've waited tables, I've been Executive Assistant to church pastors.  I speak three languages.  I've illustrated coloring books and text books.  I've carved out a local reputation as a cake artist.  In all of that, who would have ever thought I'd find my niche as a preschool teacher?

Though, in all honesty...I think it had to be this particular preschool.  Because, apparently, we're all mad here.  And I couldn't be happier about that.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Kindred spirit...

I don't do small talk well.  Especially the "get to know you" kind.  Because, inevitably, someone always wants to know if we're from here and if not then where.  Typically I can skim over it with our last move.  But there's always one or two who sense something Not Right about me and want to know more.

Traveling around with my parents while they spoke at various churches during the times we lived in the US there was no hiding the fact we lived in Africa.  That's why we were at the church.  To talk about why we were in Africa to begin with.  This was before internet and the almighty Google.  My sister and I would be bombarded with questions.  Yes, there is such a thing as a Stupid Question.  Did we live in a hut? Did we speak African? Did we see elephants on our way to school? Did we celebrate Thanksgiving? Did we ride camels? Could we say something in Swahili?  (We usually acquiesced on that one but said something really rude and inappropriate.  I never said we were good missionary children.)  All the while feeling very much like exhibits on parade.  Or at least I did.  My sister typically handled public situations with much more grace than I.

A lifetime of answering idiotic questions regarding my childhood and childhood home have left me a little gun shy regarding revealing too much of my background.  I do my best to not be rude, but neither do I volunteer any more information than necessary.  I am in no way ashamed of my background--quite the opposite, in fact.  I've just had it up to here.   Because, no...I've never met Tarzan and only 5% of Africa is jungle.

Today a co-worker found out I grew up in Tanzania.  Her very first question?  "Isn't that where Freddie Mercury was from?"

Instant adoration.

I shouldn't have been shocked, really.  She's complimented me on all of my Firefly and Star Wars t-shirts and laughed out loud at the "I heart Nerds" tee I was wearing this morning.  Kindred spirit, indeed!
It's his birthday!  Maybe someone should go say something...

Saturday, June 2, 2012 chocolate!

Tomorrow is  my dad's birthday.  Considering their line of work, they're typically busy on Sundays, so we celebrated today.  His favorite cake? Chocolate Chocolate, with a side of chocolate.  

Challenge.  Accepted. 

Four layers of chocolate fudge cake, drizzled with home made chocolate sauce.

Chocolate Swiss buttercream sprinkled with mini chocolate chips between each layer.

Covered in more chocolate Swiss buttercream.

Smothered in rich chocolate ganache.  

He was in chocolate heaven! 

Though I can almost feel myself getting diabetes from just looking at the pictures.