Friday, March 30, 2012

happy weekend links!

how is it friday again so soon?
it was hot today here in kampala.
we met some awesome friends at our favourite art gallery/cafe/gardens for lunch today so i could take their family photo. their kids are adorable.
noah wore his cape there.
then we all flopped out on the couches when we got home.

nick & trevor went to mbale tonight so i postponed friday pizza night until sunday when they'll be back {i'm such a nice team "mom"}.
so we got take out. it wasn't so much of a healthy day. but i guess that's why we don't go out too often.
the boys watched robin hood.
i skyped with my sweet friend emily {she used to live in the basement apartment of the house we rented in guelph. good times.}
the boys are in bed now.
i had a cool, refreshing shower and now i'm sitting in my pajamas.
jamie is playing NHL on the xBox.
it's been a fairly chill day. hope yours was too!

here are your friday links:

cake pops! an easier {and delicious} alternative to cake pops

a fun way to add variety to your date nights - dates in a jar

don't have access to a library or just feel like staying in? free books! online! {the boys and i love this site and for every book you read, they give a book to a child who wouldn't otherwise be able to access one}

are your kids bored? {really, who's kids aren't bored at least some of the time?}  here's an awesome list of 75 activities to do with your kids

a great article on why Christians can raise kids anywhere {in response to this one about raising kids in the city - which i also think is a fabulous idea and one i am passionate about}

start with food, end with food: make your own {big, soft, delicious} pretzels!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

the sweetest thing

jude is only wearing a diaper and is covered in blue {washable} marker.

noah is wearing his red cape.

there are 2 cardboard houses in my living room {decorated in blue washable marker}. one belongs to a washing machine. the other to a dryer. we have power. both are running right now. so incredibly thankful.

putamayo kids folk playground music is playing right now.

i did a 30 minute pilates video workout this morning and dripped sweat.

i made our favourite banana muffins this morning.

my hair feels unbelievably healthy and wonderful after getting a haircut last week.

tonight we're having tuna casserole for dinner. i'll probably get started on that soon.

i banned all kids toys in the living room this morning after the boys painstakingly and with much complaining grudgingly cleaned up the mess that had somehow taken over our entire living room. we'll see how long it lasts. jude needs constant reminders of this new rule. i've lost it a few times with them today. i hate raising my voice. i feel like bill cosby sometimes,
i know this is a reflection upon my poor parenting skills and lack of consistency as of late.

regardless, there are many things {so many things} that we have to be thankful. i am counting my blessings. one by one, big and small.

- that jude's cold has passed. we didn't have to take him to the clinic.
- a washer!
- a dryer!
- my very own Mr. Darcy who would say that i have bewitched him body and soul.
- power!
- friends here in Kampala
- sweet friends and family in Canada
- skype
- sour gummy worms
- sharing a giddy laugh with jamie in the pantry
- friends here who know how to fix stuff
- the smell of freshly cleaned and dried laundry
- money to buy food
- noah's imagination and love of reading
- a Kindle from my in-laws {the gift of unlimited reading here!}

thank you, Jesus.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

superhero wednesday

some days you just need to be a superhero.

jamie had a shirt that had shrunk and was too small. he mentioned this to me and i immediately snatched it away after seeing something my friend kelly had pinned on pinterest. this brilliant idea of cutting up a big shirt to make a superhero cape for little boys. absolutely brilliant. and easy. and i had all the supplies.
you see, i find tons of fantastic ideas on pinterest, but the supplies are not always available here in kampala. but this? this i could do.
in less than 5 minutes i had created TWO capes out of one old shirt. {for the back piece of fabric, i just cut a slit big enough to fit over their heads.} and then to make it even more awesome, i made a mask out of the long sleeves!

i'm not going to lie. i'm quite proud of myself. 

someone is already too cool to pose for his mama.

{go gryphons!}

what have you done lately that you're proud of? is there an easy craft or activity you can do with your kids? please share!

Monday, March 26, 2012

photo books by Blurb review

i haven't done a ton of reviews on this blog, but i always want to let people know when i've found and love a product. this is one such blog post.

photo books. i love 'em. you see, i used to be a scrapbooker. then i had kids. and i found that by the time i got out all my scrapbooking stuff and pictures and figured out a layout - before i had even done anything - it had been at least an hour. and as a mom, you're lucky if you get an hour before you have to rush off to do something else. plus you actually have to have hard copies of all your photos - as in, print them out. 
and so enters in the wonderful world of photo books.
there are certainly a plethora of companies who do wonderful photo books and provide good services, but by far, i've found that Blurb books are the best. the pricing is competitive, the quality is excellent and the program to make your photo book is user-friendly while at the same time allowing for the more detailed touch or professional to make minute changes.

this is a screen shot of my favourite page layout from the 2011 year book {our trip to myrtle beach}. you can see on the bottom is all the pages and you can enlarge this to view the pages a bit better, but i like to see the page i'm working on as large as possible. on the left are the pictures i've selected from my computer to use. on the top are all the options - you can actually alter their layouts that come with the program {called Booksmart and you download it to your computer so that if you don't have internet - like we frequently do not - you can still work on your book} or create your own layout. i prefer my books to be clean and simple looking so i don't play around too much with the backgrounds or add little graphics, but those are available as well if you want to do a themed book. also, as this is not a photo editing program, your photos can be turned or flipped, but if you want to edit them or add special filters to them, you'll have to look elsewhere to do that and then add it to the program.

i started with Blurb when i wanted to make a birth to 1 year photo book {a baby book, if you will, since i gave up filling in all those little blanks in the sweet baby book i was given} for noah. it was gorgeous and the boys still love looking at their books.

 since then, i've made a gift for my mom {for her 50th}, a photo book for jude's 1st year and several others. i could work away at it, bit by bit, and all i had to do was boot up my computer and start plonking in pictures. then i came across the idea of making a family year book. i don't print my pictures out and put them in a photo album for all to see, and yet there's something to be said for having pictures to hold and look at - and i know i'll want them in years to come.  
so in 2011, i made our first family year book for the year 2010. it turned out beautifully and i decided to leave in Canada so it wouldn't get ruined. and yesterday i finished, uploaded and ordered our 2011 family year book. a whopping 252 pages, 811 pictures and it only cost *drum roll* $74.77 {that's Canadian}. that's cheaper than printing out 811 pictures, buying several albums and sticking them all in there. now i did have a coupon code to save 25% and ended up saving just over $20 but that coupon code was emailed to me simply because i have a Blurb account and they often provide codes to save money on ordering their gorgeous books.

because our internet is so slow and the book was so big, it took just over 2 {incredibly nerve-wracking as i was convinced the power was going to cut out at any second} hours to upload everything, but i think it would be faster if you're in the US or Canada and you likely don't have to worry about power outages and your internet going kaput.
the shipping is super fast and our 2011 yearbook should be at my parent's house in Canada before April 10th! {i'm still undecided if i want someone to bring it over or not. don't want it to get ruined.}
lastly, they have this cool new feature which i haven't tried but noticed upon checking out that you can order an iPad version of your book for $1.99! how cool is that? you could make a gramma & grandpa brag book and then send it to their iPad as a gift {for all my new mommy friends out there}! or make them a hard copy book {they start at as low as $3.99!} as a gift if they don't have an iPad.

so that's my two cents. i highly recommend Blurb and you can save 25% off too if you order a book by April 2nd and use the code AMAZE when you're checking out. 

*disclosure: i was not compensated in any way to write this review, i just felt the desire to share about a product i love because what good are friends if they don't tell you the good stuff as well as the bad?

Friday, March 23, 2012

happy weekend!

rock out!
here are some fun weekend links for ya:

Caramel Cheesecake Apple Dip
Meals in a Jar. Mind blowing stuff here.
9 DIY home remedies for relieving mosquito bites. {you may not need this yet, but we sure do!}
paint chip easter egg garland - super cute!
it was pizza night for us here. find out about the rest of the world's pizza consumption.
31 biblical virtues to pray for our children.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

7 months and randomness

it's hard to believe {and yet somehow not hard} that we've been here for 7 months now.
this is home.
it's not always easy, but it is definitely our home.
my mind often wanders ahead into the future and thinks about what life will be like when we move back to canada. where we'll live, how the boys will adjust to school {noah will be in grade 1 and jude will be in j/k! so mind blowing for me at this point}, seeing friends and family again, how we will adjust to orderly traffic and winter and western society again. yes, my mind it wanders.
yesterday noah was asking if we could buy a chuggington train and i told him that they don't sell them here, only in canada {and also that it wasn't his birthday and that he had plenty of toys already and that whole lecture}. and then lo and behold, jamie walks in with a package that our dear friends had sent over 5 months ago for a birthday package for noah and it had FOUR chuggington trains in it! sweet blessings from Jesus. so, so good. except that the aftermath has been two little boys screaming and fighting over one specific train. sigh.
i haven't picked up my camera in almost a week. i'm not sure why.
tonight we're going out for a fun team dinner at fang fang's, the best chinese restaurant here that makes a killer sweet and sour pork dish that i'm for sure ordering a large plate of. *salivating*
the only thing about going out at night is that the traffic here doesn't usually clear until sometime after 9pm so if we do go out, we're in a standstill for most of it, hence why we {as a family} don't often go out at night. the guys can take bodas, but there's no way that i would ever take a boda with my kids. uh uh. no way.
there is a team of canadian staff and students from power to change coming in may and june and we're getting excited for them to come. i look forward to interacting with more people on a daily basis {this is me, the hermit speaking} and for the boys to get to hang out with "the canadians"! {also i'm secretly - or not to secretly - hoping they'll all bring me some reece's peanut butter cups. *more salivating*}
yesterday me and elizabeth {our house girl} made tortillas! i told her they were like chapattis, but thinner. so we did our "level best" {as they like to say here} and we'll see how they turn out later this week for dinner. they sure looked good.
tomorrow elizabeth is going to teach me how to make ugandan beans and cassava {it's a root vegetable. almost like a potato}.
so this is life in uganda.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


almost 10 days since i last posted. goodness. where has the time gone?
well, we've had water back. then lost it again for a couple days and now it's back again. praying it stays on.
we're spending a lazy saturday morning with cartoons on my computer because the power is off, drinking starbucks coffee and eating biscuit cinnamon rolls and playing impromptu games of baseball in our front yard.
and it's St. Patrick's day today!
we won't be eating any green food {except for the beans and zucchini that were in the leftover stir fry we had for lunch} but i did make the boys some lovely green play doh this week in honour of st. patty.

best play doh

you can triple or quadruple this recipe and cook it in a large pot with good results
1 cup flour
1/4 cup salt
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 tbsp food colouring
1 tbsp vanilla extract (optional) 

combine the flour, salt and cream of tartar in saucepan. add the water and food colouring and whisk until smooth. cook over medium heat until playdough is nearly set. add the vanilla extract {i did the first time but vanilla here is kinda weird smelling so i didn't add it this time.}. stir until blended, then remove and knead ad when cool. store in an airtight container or a ziploc bag.

we made a batch of this to give to our friends and even added green sparkles for some st. patty's day fun! this play doh is incredibly smooth and soft and so much cheaper than the store bought stuff! i give my boys tooth picks and popsicle sticks and googly eyes and it's hours of entertainment.

and here's the story of st. patrick {a la veggietales!} for those who aren't familiar with where we get mixing green beer with lucky charms from. {er, scratch that. not really sure who made that tradition up. i could do without the green beer, but i'd LOVE some lucky charms today. oh well. maybe i'll whip up something green for dessert. it's pizza night tonight!}

aaaand....if you're looking for something sweet for you to whip up for that special someone, try the white russian cupcakes with kahlua buttercream that i made last year. YUM.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


on saturday i posted that we had no water on facebook. a friend commented that soon i'd be hearing from all the other missionaries about "this one time we went 7 days without water". {luckily no one did make a comment in that vane.} little did i know that we'd end up going over 5 days now without water.
we buy our drinking water, so please don't fret that we're about to all keel over and die from dehydration, but still.
i never realized how much i use water. and how much.
to do dishes. to wash my hands. to cook with. to flush the toilets. to brush my teeth. to shower {yeah, i stink pretty bad. one shower in 5 days in africa? have i crossed the line of TMI on my blog yet?}. to wash my hands {while prepping food, after changing diapers, coming in from play, washing hands all.the.time.}.
and now apparently the problem has been "fixed" {they were fixing some water main in our area or something?} but we still don't have water.
i think of most others in this city and country who {if they even have access to clean water} have to walk some ways to fill up containers and then walk back with their heavy container, full of water.
yesterday our power went out as well. and then at night. and then today again. {on and off throughout the night and day.} and i think,
what is God trying to teach me? 

i met with another missionary who lives nearby us and works in the same ministry as we do. her and her husband have been here for many, many years now and she said something to me,
we weren't called here to live a convenient life. that's not the life God has given us. 

i'm not here to live a convenient life. i'm not on this earth to live a convenient life. i believe God is slowly {sometimes it doesn't seem slow enough} stripping away the things in my life that i depend on. the main thing that sticks out here is all the conveniences i've been used to for the last 30 years.
a part of me wants to cry out,
isn't it enough that i've left behind family and friends, my home church and sidewalks, starbucks and libraries? parks and safe driving? isn't it enough? 

i think the answer {for me, at least} is that it isn't enough until i treasure Jesus Christ above everything else in my life. more than water or electricity, sidewalks or libraries. more than friends and air conditioning. i need to treasure Him in such a way that it is noticeable to everyone around me.
and right now He's showing me that i don't. 

but he is good. and merciful. and patient.

Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Hebrews 4:16

but i'm still praying the water comes on. soon.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


life is not easy. no matter where you live.
lately i've been battling lies.
lately i haven't spent enough time with Jesus.
i've felt the lyrics of brooke fraser's song shadowfeet so deeply in my spirit these past few days.

walking, stumbling on these shadowfeet
towards home; a land that i've never seen
i am changing; less and less asleep
made of different stuff than when i began

and i have sensed it all along
fast approaching is the day

when the world has fallen out from under me
i'll be found in You, still standing
when the sky rolls up and mountains fall on their knees
when time and space are through, i'll be found in You

there's distraction buzzing in my head
saying in the shadows it's easier to stay
but i've heard rumors of true reality
whispers of a well-lit way

you make all things new

i've been grasping and trying to really see Him every day. but i fail. every day i fail in some way. i am so incredibly needy and weak that i'm not really sure what i'm doing here. in uganda. in this marriage. as a mother. {those lies can be so loud sometimes} and then i throw myself before Him and beg for more of Him. and He is so faithful.

i started reading Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ by John Piper for Lent. i've read this book a couple other times and every time i am so incredibly moved as i get to know my Jesus more and fall deeper in love with Him.
at the end of each chapter there is a prayer and i'd like to share these prayers with you - probably on a weekly basis.

O Father of glory, this is the cry of our hearts - to be changed from one degree of glory to another, until, in the resurrection, at the last trumpet, we are completely conformed to the image of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Until then, we long to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord, especially the knowledge of his glory. We want to see it as clearly as we see the sun, and to savor it as deeply as our most desired pleasure. O merciful God, incline our hearts to your Word {please, God} and the wonders of your glory. Wean us from our obsession with trivial things. Open the eyes of our hearts to see each day what the created universe is telling about your glory. Enlighten our minds to see the glory of your Son in the Gospel. We believe that you are the All-glorious One, and that there is none like you. Help our unbelief. Forgive the wandering of our affections and the undue attention we give to lesser things. Have mercy on us for Christ's sake, and fulfill in us your great design to display the glory of your grace. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.

i came across this blog yesterday and resonated with so many of her entries, but specifically one that focused on how it can be frustrating to take steps of faith and obedience and find yourself a "worser" person than before you made that step. i was encouraged as i've been feeling ugly and awful and forced to confront some pretty nasty things i see in myself {as this post shows}. when you become an awful person

Friday, March 2, 2012

march TWO

hello. so i skipped last month's two on the second pictures. what with us being in spain and me getting the worst head cold of the century, it somehow got away from me. making up for it this month. still friends?

create an animated gif

we've been doing lots of baking and cooking together. i'm making it my mission to teach my boys how to cook and bake. one of my many missions, actually.
we've been doing lots more reading and a lot less tv watching. which makes me happy.
and it's cooler out now. so that means i actually want to go outside and so do the boys. everyone's happier.
the trick to getting my kids to smile for the camera {in case you were wondering}? tell them not to smile. some say reverse psychology is not really what you want to enforce in your children, but for this? it works every time.

create an animated gif

linking up to steph who takes monthly pictures of her four kids on the fourth

Thursday, March 1, 2012

gross and icky

my stomach still feels gross and icky. like i made the wrong choice. i'm still not sure. my head tells me i did the right thing. my heart? it's confused.

i hear someone say hello and think it's our maid talking to someone on the phone. then noah comes in and says, someone's here to see you, mom
i turn around from my spot on the couch and see a ugandan woman standing outside our front porch.
how did she get in through our gate? 
nick quickly walks past me and i realize he has let her in.
she has a drop of water on the top of her chest.
i realize that it is a tear.
her eyes are tearing up.
we say the usual greetings although i am impatient and want to know who she is and why she's here.
but that would be rude.
nevertheless, the greetings are short.
i still have no idea who she is. i think she might be the maid that used to work for the people who lived with nick and trevor now live, but i'm not sure. she's already launched into her speech.
her son is sick.
the hospital's soonest appointment could be next year.
she wants my help but then quickly adds that she doesn't want my money. only me to come help her with her son.
i ask her if she has family or friends around. if she regularly attends a church. she does. i ask her if she's talked to her pastor and she says they don't have money to give her. i tell her that her church family should come around her and support her, help her with her son and pray for her. she looks frustrated. i know that despite what she's said, she's looking for money.
i tell her that i have no money, my husband is not at home and that she should talk to her pastor again, and make the appointment at the hospital and see if she can get her son in any sooner.
i tell her i have my own children that i can't just leave by themselves.
she looks dejected and possibly bitter. i can't tell. 
i feel rotten but i know that coming to some white stranger because you think they have money is absolutely not the answer. 
white people throwing money at ugandans has not helped this country before and it's not the answer to the desperation, the corruption, the frustration that the beautiful people meet here on a daily basis. 
i tell her i'm sorry and she walks back up to our gate.
i am frustrated at being accosted in my own home.
i feel sick at her situation and what must seem like a cold-hearted answer coming from a rich, white lady who couldn't possibly understand her situation or show pity toward her.
i feel more confident now that it is the church of uganda that needs to step up and be the family it's supposed to be. to support the members. to help those who are hurting and bear one another's burdens. 
i can't help everyone. i know that Jesus is the answer. to all the hurt and corruption and brokenness and frustration.
but my heart still feels gross and icky.
we live in such a broken world.

1 Cor. 12:24-27
But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
Now you are the body of Christ and each one of you is a part of it.
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