Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A month of Sundays...I mean Fridays

One Friday, I went to the roof to try to capture what the midday "sounds" like.

We live one block from a mosque, so we hear the call to prayer every day, five times a day, but on Fridays, we hear the sermon that is piped through the speakers for the whole neighborhood to hear.

I guess it's a chance for everyone to hear.

Each neighborhood here has a mosque.  In fact, you can tell a taxi driver where you live by naming the mosque closest to you.

So basically, they are everywhere.

That means, on Fridays, I can hear multiple sermons at once, and this is what it sounds like.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

What's a Dukan Disagreement?

In Africa, we called them dukas, but here, they call them dukans.

It must be some kind of Arabic word..

The only time I seem to have mentioned dukas in my Africa posts was in a post from Aug 2011 (close the end of the post).

It's simply a small place to shop - smaller than a grocery store.

And just like in Africa, the goods from the store tend to spill out onto the sidewalk.

But unlike Africa, these sometimes sell fruit & veggies, and they are a bit cleaner.

This is right next to the chicken butchery, which is right next to our house.

More outside stuff...

The inside is usually one room, but this one has three aisles!

And the only cold stuff is ice cream inside, sodas, milk, and yogurt outside.

Kylie was in the middle of cooking (hence her apron) when we ran next door for some ingredient we ran out of.

One day two weeks ago, we went to buy some bottled water for guests that were staying with us.  The bottles were stacked under blankets on the sidewalk.

We bought them, walked home past the chicken shop where they were unloading chicks (and a little bit more, as evidenced by what's in the street), and went inside.

Shortly, there was a knock on our gate.  The same gate the man knocked on to tell us to stop running water.

It was our landlord's brother who runs the chicken shop with our landlord.  He lives behind the chicken shop and his walls bump up to ours.

He was telling us "No water," and pointing to the sun, saying the word for "sun" and spitting.  He told us to take back the water to the store (at least that's what we understood).

We slowly gathered the flat of waters asking ourselves if we had understood him correctly.  We walked past him, nodding a hello, past the chicken shop to the dukan.

As we stood in line at the store to return the water (alone), I told Kylie it surely would be nice if we had that man to tell the dukan owner what we were doing (because we surely didn't know).  Within seconds, Kylie went to get him.

When Kylie returned with him, there was a "bit" of a disagreement, all in a language I could barely understand.

Our friend was telling the dukan owner that his water was bad because it sat in the sun (I'm guessing).

The dukan owner disagreed and tore open the plastic covering the flat, yanked a bottle out, quickly twisted off the lid and sloshed water toward the man to drink.  He wouldn't, so he shoved it in another patron's face to drink it.  The patron did, and then finally our friend did.

There were still heated words back and forth while we stood there, and finally we were handed back our money, our friend smiled, and he pointed across and down the street and told us to go to a store where the water was kept inside (at least that's what we thought he said).

We quickly left the dukan, headed down the street, and came back with "good" water.

We showed our friend.

He smiled.

All was well.

Of course, I was a little nervous about going back to the dukan again, but so far, it's been as if nothing happened.

So that is what a dukan disagreement looks like.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Kids' Creativity and Hard Work

If you are a parent, I'm sure you have experienced those moments where your kids really impressed you with something they did without any prompting or help from you.

I remember in Africa, thinking how cool it was that the kids wanted to play X-Men, and without any actual toys, they just made their own action figures out of paper.

In one house we lived in while in America, the kids put together a "meal" for Doug and I out of leaves, berries, and sticks, and it was very beautiful.

And, granted, these aren't the only times I've been impressed, but I actually have a picture-record of these.

On Mother's Day, this year, the kids impressed me again.

Since we were limited on space of things to bring here, the kids were missing their "Clue" game, so they decided to make one for me for Mother's Day.

ALL of it!

Caleb even sacrificed some of his legos to re-create some people that looked like the suspects.

They used cardboard that came wrapped around the corners of their twin beds.

Karis spent days making all of these record sheets.

 And the back of every card was covered with painters' tape.

I was blown away!

Happy Mother's Day to me!

And I commissioned the game by winning the first time we played.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Mexican Sandwich

Our language helper was enrolled in English classes this last semester at the school where Doug teaches.  One day in class (not Doug's), the students were discussing "tacos," and somehow, it was interpreted that a taco was like a "Mexican sandwich."

Our language helper was telling us about this and asking about a "taco" when he came to language one day.  At this point, we felt like it was our American/Texan duty to share with him the truth about Mexican food.

This is important stuff, y'all!  Wouldn't you agree?

Doug decided we should introduce a little more than tacos, which was a great idea, so we added fajitas, queso, Mexican rice, sauteed onions, guacamole, and salsa to the menu.  Enchiladas and other tasty Mexican items would have to wait for another day.

We shopped and shopped, and found some cheese we could melt to make queso (although it didn't turn out like I would like), and we actually found cheesy tortilla chips (no plain), taco shells AND tortillas!  Now, all we had to do was put it all together.  I think Kylie and I worked for over four hours prepping, grating, chopping,  and cooking.  When I look at the table, it seems like it shouldn't have taken us that long, but it was quite a labor of love, and we had so much fun!

It turns out we didn't have enough serving dishes.  As you've seen in my picnic pictures, every dish that a person needs is set within reaching distance from each individual.  I had to go out and buy some more dishes, but I was still determined to get by without giving everyone a bowl of rice, a bowl of queso, a bowl of salsa, etc.  We ended up passing the meats, and then I had bowls of everything at each end.

It was quite a spread!!!

Not much else could fit on the floor mat.

Everyone watched Caleb make a soft taco, and Doug make a hard-shell taco, so our guests would know what to do.  We also explained what all the items on the table were, but I don't think we did a good enough job, because at one point, someone saw our teacher eating his queso with a spoon off his plate.

On second thought, there have been times when I have wanted to eat queso with a spoon, so maybe he knew what he was doing.

 It was a lot of fun, and it was really good.

Friday, May 20, 2016

What it looks like for us

Kylie decided she was interested in ballet in 2007 while we were still living in Baton Rouge.  We joined an amazing dance studio, and at the end of her first year, she was chosen, by the instructor, as "Dancer of the Year" for the younger grades.

And then we moved.


She didn't touch ballet again until a ballet dancer came to our town in Africa for a semester.  This beautiful young lady named Meg taught Kylie, Karis, and another girl ballet once a week.

Here's what practice looked like in our living room.

Sometimes Caleb came in to see what was going on.

She even had them in a recital before she left.  Make-up, hair, and everything.

Then, the last week of June, 2014, we started ballet again in Bryan/College Station.

We participated in a Nutcracker or two.


"Carnival of the Animals" and "Peter and the Wolf"

One Spring Recital

An amazing dance camp in Mississippi

And their final performance at "Christmas in the Park."

And then we moved.


Now, what is a girl to do in the Middle East for a ballet experience when your family moves because of a job?


For two years.

The day we went to this studio to check out their ballet class, they were putting in permanent bars for the first time.

The teacher is Russian, and she is French trained, here because her husband is working.  She's hard!  And she's good!  Pray that her husband continues to find good work.

The girls love it!  And they have already made a dear friend who also dances.  In fact, she has invited them to go horseback riding tomorrow!  God is so good!

And the instructor teaches pointe.

This is Karis the day we bought her shoes in Houston

I normally can't see into the dance studio, but one night, Caleb and I went outside to do some of his school work on a park bench, and the side window was open.  You can't tell much from these pictures, but I wanted you to see real proof that He took care of us, and He provided for us.

Dance on!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Time is a crazy thing

Look at these three.

If you followed us during our time in Africa, you have seen them grow into very tall people.

I was reminiscing about them as we come to the close of another year of homeschool.

This was them in 2010 - our first year in Africa.

They were starting pre-school, 1st grade, and 3rd grade.

And they kept growing and started another year of homeschool...

And another...

Arua, Uganda.


Kampala, Uganda.

Brackenhurst, Kenya.

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

They have been a lot of places, and they are pretty amazing people.

I look forward to more chapters and adventures in their lives.

And then there were four...

And we start the adventure all over again.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Living Next to a Butcher

If you just ate, you might consider pausing before you read this.

We had the ingenious idea to "fix" the fly situation outside our front door.

We bought these bags that you add water to, and then the smell of whatever's in the included pouch draws the flies into the water and they can't get out.

One drawback.

No, make that two.

The first draw back is the awful smell the pouch puts off.  It smells just like rotting food that flies are attracted to (or the dirty chickens next door).

The second drawback is the smell of dead flies or maggots after they are caught in the bag and sit for a while.

I'm not talking a long while.

If you will scroll down, you will see the before and after pictures, and the "AFTER" is taken only SIX days after.

Gross, right?

So we tried it again, and within four days the bag was full and smelly.

Then Doug had the brilliant idea to stop.

That's right.  Stop trapping flies.

Our traps were drawing all the flies from our front door AND the chicken butchery.  We were basically ridding them of a fly problem and creating more work for us.

We stopped four days ago, and now the smell we get in our nose isn't nasty fly bait, it's nasty chickens.

And the flies have found their way back over to the chickens, because we only have about 5-6 hanging around our door at any given time.

I bought a fly swatter and we are considering an electric fly zapper for outside when our block has power.

It's a work in progress, so I'll let you know how it all plays out in these hot summer months with nasty, hot chickens next door.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Like Brother, Like Sister

Don't you love family traditions?

Awesome, right?

Keira fell on her face two weeks ago, and it was a sweet, memory moment.


Scarface, January 3, 2011  (almost identical spot!)  Arua, Uganda.

The Scar, April 29, 2010.   Lusaka, Zambia.

Then again October 10, 2011.  Arua, Uganda.

I could make a full album of Caleb's injuries.

I hope Keira doesn't want to be like him TOO much.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Another Bigger Bazaar

The heat is coming, and we needed some sun block-out curtains.

I asked a friend to take Kylie and me across town to the large market where we bought our doshaks.

She obliged, and we marched off with measurements of several windows and high hopes of finding what we needed.

We talked to a couple of vendors/tailors who sold fabric to find out what it would cost to make curtains for our windows.


Kylie's room alone was about $120.

Keep walking.  Keep walking.

We ended up at the used curtain booths.  They are hung really high, and you can look and see if they have any color that you need.

There were SIXTEEN identical grey ones that were very nice (a hotel or something must have cleaned out).  We bought eight of them for under $60, and we were able to outfit two rooms with them!

...And we bought some gaudy maroon ones for our sitting room.  We were told that it's good to decorate like they would in the room where they will be sitting.

I actually like them.  They ARE Maroon, after all :)

We immediately went to a tailor to get him to sew a strip to the top of the maroon ones so I could hang them in a special way in the sitting room.  We also bought hooks and rings for the grey ones.

He was so nice.

He wasn't going to charge us, but I paid him anyway.

After see the results of our trip, Doug decided we should go look again and see if we could find more for the other rooms.

We found a large maroon and white one (are you seeing a theme here?) for our room, and found some fabric pieces that would work well in the large school/sitting room upstairs.

We decided to go see the tailor again that we had met the day before.  He smiled, and understood my sign language of what I wanted.  I needed the fabric pieces hemmed on each end, with a special strip sewed at the top again.

He asked his assistant to sew for us, and he visited with us in our limited language.

He brought Keira some ponytail holders with animals on them, and seeing her delight, grabbed her hand and took her to a dukan around the corner.

She came back with 10 golden bracelets, which he sat down and put on her arm.

He told us he had 8 kids, so I guess he's used to this.

This bazaar is MUCH larger than the one where we bought our dress material.  It is SO easy to get lost in.

I took pictures down a few "hallways," to try and give you a small idea of what it's like.

Here's the "gold" hallway.

Notice the ditch of water that runs through each hallway.  This one is one of the few that's covered.  As the day goes on, it gets pretty gross, and I'm always afraid Keira's foot is going to end up in it.

This looks like the "luggage" hallway.

And the "shoe" hallway..

Food vendors...

More shoes..

Kitchen wares...

It can be overwhelming, so why not treat yourself to a $1 "pizza" when you're done.

Doug gets all my appreciation for our curtains because he had to drill holes into cinder blocks/cement to hang all the curtains in six rooms in the house.  This also included several trips to hardware dukans for poles, screws, and whatever else he needed.

He did a fabulous job!