Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Grocery shopping

After sharing with you about my rice dilemma, it occurred to me that even though I shop in a grocery store, you might not realize all the differences between here and there.  

This week, I only got a few pictures, but maybe I'll get some more in the future.

In my rice post, I can't believe that I forgot to show you the bins of rice that greet each person as he walks into the store.  

I guess they have become common-place.

And even though I've shown you pictures of all the spices in the bazaar, I thought I'd let you see that they are also available in the grocery store

Long rows of all types of nuts and seeds are available, too.

Vegetables have to be weighed, priced, and tagged with a bar code by a man in the vegetable department. 

Can you imagine how humiliating it might be, after you are done shopping, to arrive at the cash register and the checker has to stop his whole line so that you can run back to the vegetable section and get all of your veggies "tagged."

Yeah.  That would "never" happen to me...twice.

Cheese and yogurt are plentiful here.  I still feel so blessed to be able to walk down an actual "cheese" aisle.  In Africa, decent cheese was often hard to come by.

There are so many different kinds, and they all have foreign names.  I want to try them all, but I also hate to buy one that tastes awful that I'll never finish.

Then, at the deli, they have all of this.

I don't know if these are cheeses or kurds or a combination of both, but I also wish I could taste-test these as well.

In Africa, I made milk from powder so I would have some to cook with, but for the most part, we stayed away from drinking it. 

Our last year there, we did start buying boxed milk off the shelf, but I was never a fan of that either.

I like going to the refrigerator section of the grocery store in America, seeing Bordens or maybe HEB-brand milk, grabbing it cold, taking it home and enjoying a nice, tall glass of cold 2% milk.

Here, there is a "milk aisle," but it's in the middle of the store...not the refrigerated section.

I promise to get a picture for you.  There are boxes and boxes of all different brands.

I think I've seen at least 14 brands of milk, and then you have to fish through the whole, low fat, skim options of each of those brands.

I decided to take a picture of a recent milk purchase for you.

After I get it home, I tear open the top of the box to reveal the 12 milks that I have purchased.

Then, I take them all out and store them above my refrigerator...not in it!

Two by two, they go into the refrigerator to get cold so someone (not me) can enjoy a bowl of cereal or a glass of milk.

Milk is usually one of the first drinks I have (besides Dr. Pepper) when I land on American soil. 

Enjoy a cold glass of goodness for me today.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Camping in the COLD

Well, I confessed to you at an earlier date that I am, in fact, a "glamper" even though I survived a night on the mountain back in June.

So when my family was invited to go back to the same mountain for a night of camping, I, of course, declined.  However, my three older children and my husband could not be stopped.

I felt I was being a pragmatist by declining because I saw the forecast that said it would be below freezing when the sun went down.  I didn't think that "Keira" needed to be out there in such cold weather, so I declined on her behalf.  (I was so thankful to have her as an excuse).

Apparently, they had a good time. 

They also said they weren't as cold this time as we were in June because they were better prepared with the right clothes and enough blankets.

Still, I'm glad I could stay home and pray for them while sitting in front of a heater.

I'm told they went caving again.

They also hiked up a very tall mountain.

They said the view at the top was breath-taking.

I did not like hearing there was a sheer drop-off at the top.  Yikes!


My kids inherited a love of rocks from my father and my sister; therefore, wherever we go, someone is always looking for and collecting "cool" rocks.

This is what happens to your son when he has a pocket full of "cool" rocks and then he takes a spill down the mountain.

Glad you guys had a fun time!  I loved hearing your stories!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Worship in the Park

Last Friday, we had fellowship in the city park with two other families.  

It was early in the morning, so there weren't a lot of people there, but there were some.

We set out our blankets, and Doug led us in worship.

Our voices, resonating through the park, made me smile.  I thought about people who could hear us and what their thoughts were.  

What is that music?
Where is it coming from?
Those people sound happy to be singing.

I know some drew near for a little while to look.

How great to honor Him in a place where He used to be worshipped and will be once again someday.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Dust, Rain, and Celebrating Doug

We finally had some much-needed rain the first week of November. 

It was one night.

It was a small amount.

But it helped clear the air from the dust storm that had blown in the same day.

This was our porch area the morning after the rain brought the dust down.

 It looks like it ran down the walls, too.

(This part of the world has no shortage of dust, in case you were wondering.)

It gave Keira and I a chance to play in the water. 

We got the hoses and squeegees, rolled up our pants, and made it all shine again.

However, I didn't realize the walls were dirty until I looked at these pictures, so I guess I still have some work to do.


It was a drippy day, but nothing could keep us from celebrating Doug's birthday.

I picked out a new restaurant that none of us had ever been to over by the Consulate.  I had seen it one day on a taxi ride, and I carefully memorized how to get there.  Somehow, with our language abilities, we made it back.

The kids were in school, so only Keira and I treated him to lunch.  Keira thought the mint lemonade was the best.

Thankfully, Doug's birthday was on a Wednesday, and that happened to be a day when Doug wasn't teaching and none of the kids had evening activities.

I don't know if Doug got any say-so about where to eat for dinner either because the kids were excited to choose.

Burgers won.

We love Doug.  
We love celebrating Doug.  
I am so glad he is my husband.
And he is an awesome Dad, too.

Happy Birthday, Doug

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Mountaintop


It's always a nice treat to get out of the city, and we've only done it twice in 8 months.  So when someone with a car offered to take us, we were all up for it.

By the way, we are very close to purchasing a vehicle, so hopefully soon, we'll be able to leave the city anytime we want.

We went with two other families to hike, picnic, and study the Good Book together in the wide open spaces of His creation.

For my girls, who don't get to run free outside, this was such a fun excursion.

The weather being cool also helped.

Keira is such a trooper and pretty good at hiking, too.

How many people who live in the city never get to see this?

But we can't always live on the mountaintop.  We have to go down below where life is.  Right?

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Queen of Hearts Needed Tulle

The kids' school had a Halloween dance the Friday before Halloween.  It was for all students 7th thru 12th grade, so both girls got to attend.

I showed you a picture in an earlier post of Kylie's face with hearts on her cheeks (I've put it below, too).  That was her make-up "practice" day.  There is a girl who lives near us who loves to play with hair and make-up, and she came to "practice" on Kylie.  That's why her eye shadow is two different colors.

The day of the affair, the hair and make-up girl and her sister came over, plus a couple of others.

I have no idea what went on upstairs, but for some reason, it took over FOUR hours to do hair and make-up for the three that were actually attending the party.

Must be a girl thing.

Just not THIS girl.

The one time I did go up there, the room itself looked pretty "made over."

Here's a shoe picture from outside.  I always love these.

It's a simplified picture of the 6 girls that were at the house.

Karis got her outfit together in under an hour.

Kylie had been working on her skirt and collar for the previous two weeks.

Allow me a minute to fill you in on the skirt. 

I bought the elastic in the market and the cards at the store, but Kylie still needed black and red tulle.  I didn't know the word for "tulle" in this language, so we went on a hunt.

We walked to a street that had a lot of fabric stores, hoping we could find tulle somewhere, and then ask, "What is 'this' in your language?"

We found some tulle with beads all over it.  We asked, "What is this called?"

He said, "Chulle."

I smiled. 

Easy enough.

He had no "chulle" without beads and said that no one sold "chulle."

I had seen a bridal store before on our way to the city center (On July 2nd, I showed you a picture of their dirty gown outside their store), and I decided to take a chance there.

It was 7:30pm, and I knew it might be closed, so we hurried.

We had a good chuckle walking down "butcher row" as we observed all the sheep bladders and intestines laid out for some blessed patron.  Eew!

We walked up to the wedding gown store just as a lady was locking the door.  We asked her in broken language if she had any "chulle" for sale.

She kindly unlocked the door and let us in.

Instantly, the smell of sewage slapped us in our face.

It was awful!

And the floor from front to back was covered in water.

Something must have broken, and what an unfortunate pipe it must have been.  Ugh!

All the mannequins had been put on tables.  Dresses had been pinned up off the ground.  But I couldn't help but think how the smell was seeping into the material of each and every dress in the building (including any tulle we wanted to buy).

We told her we would like some red and black tulle.  She said she might have red and white, and we said that was fine. 

At the same time, another lady entered, and they talked about what we wanted.

We stood in the water, trying to breathe through our mouths while we waited for them to come back from their treasure hunt.

They came back with a lovely red prom dress.

One lady held it high so it wouldn't touch the water, and the other lady lifted up the skirt and started cutting off a layer of tulle under the skirt of the dress!!

I protested, but she insisted.

Interesting, to say the least.

Red tulle down.  Now for the white...

Please tell me she wasn't going to cut tulle off a wedding gown!!

She didn't.  She came back with what must have been left-over scraps from veils.  They weren't straight or clean.

We took the "whiter" of the two piles she was offering, and then we discussed the matter of cost.

I asked her how much, and she said, "Whatever you think."

I said around $15 dollars in their currency.  They laughed.

I pulled out the equivalent of $25 and made it seem like that was pretty much all they were going to get, and they took it, albeit reluctantly.

I thought they were kind of upset about the transaction, but nope...

They both pulled out their cell phones and asked if they could take selfies with us. 

Then we waded to the front of the store where there was better light and took some more selfies.

After our mini photo session, we left wondering what had just happened, and at the same time, hurried home to wash the sewage smell not only out of the tulle, but also out of our hair and clothes.

Otherwise, this picture is what other people might have looked like after they got a whiff of us.

Friday, November 4, 2016

A First Look at School Life

For the most part, my kids are enjoying school.

There are the occasional funny moments which bring smiles to their faces.

There are also hard times which they have to grow through.

Basically, it's just like school for your kids.

Kylie likes it when all the kids are hollering or discussing a topic in Arabic or another language and the teacher says, "Everyone has to use English in the classroom."

(This might happen in America, too, come to think of it).

Kylie also thinks it's "cool" when a kid doesn't understand a word in their assignment and has to ask for an explanation in another language.

The other day a kid said, "What's 'acne'?"  The teacher babbled something in Arabic, and all of a sudden, the concept was clear.

Language mis-use is also funny:  A boy will get in trouble and say something funny like, "What did I did?"   And one time a kid cut himself, and he said, "I'm blooding.  I'm blooding."

Karis has recently decided she likes Arabic class.  It's 7 weeks into the year, and she JUST figured out that every other day, they talk about religion.  The teacher does not expect Karis or Caleb to pay attention on those days, so it's basically a free day to read.

Seven weeks!

You would have thought someone would have translated this for her before now.

Of course, when Doug and I went to the parent/teacher conference day, I have no clue what the Arabic teacher was saying either (although someone DID walk over and offer to translate for us).

Cussing is rampant here.  I know it's the same in America, but here, I'm not sure they always know what they are saying.

It's not just students, but also teachers.  Last Friday, there was a Halloween dance at the school, and the DJ was cussing as well.

We've talked to the kids about making a difference where they are planted , and one day, Kylie had the opportunity in class to be a light.  One of her teachers would always say "G-d D-m-it" repeatedly.  Then the same teacher got onto another student for using the word "dumb."  The other student said, "Teacher, that's not bad.  Plus, you say bad words all the time."  When he asked which ones, she couldn't think of any, but Kylie could.  She told the girl the word, and when she relayed it to the teacher, he asked her what was bad about it.

Since the girl didn't know, Kylie said, "When you say that, you are using the Lord's name in a non-worshipful, negative way."

He said, "Really?!  I had no idea.  I will be careful not to say that word anymore."

Ever since that moment, he has only slipped once in her class, and he apologized when he did.

That's what being a light in the school looked like that day. :)


Shaming is part of the culture here, which is not only difficult to watch, but also difficult to receive.

Grades are yelled out for the whole class to hear.

One day, a teacher even said sarcastically, "H---- had such an improvement on this test.  I am so proud of him.  Why don't you give him a big hand.  He made a zero."

The teachers' favorite word for their students is "Hiwan," which means "Animals," which, as you might guess, is a very derogatory term.  Apparently, teachers yell it all the time.  Students call each other "hiwan," too.


As a former math teacher, it also makes me cringe to hear my kids say, "The teacher said to 'plus' them or 'minus' them."

But at least "plus" and "minus" are pronounced correctly.

If any of my children ever end up in the field of science, you will have to excuse their vocabulary when you can't understand them.

Here are a few of the pronunciations that they have received from their science teachers:

antibiotics = antee by oh ticks

penicillin  = pen sill een

respiratory = res pie rah tree

capillaries  = kuh pill' ah reez

molecules = mole kules

eukaryotes = yoo kree at iks
(I know most of us don't even know the proper pronunciation on English (/yoo kar ee oht/), but it's pretty clear it's not the pronunciation written above.)


Some things my kids tell me make me smile more than it makes them smile.

Like Karis telling me, "It's hard to focus in computer because the seniors stand outside our door smoking, and I sit next to the door."

"There's a sixth grader with a mustache."

"There are brothers in my 5th grade class.  One is 15 and one is 10."

"Most of the 11th and 12th grade boys have full beards."

"My teacher always says he's leaving the room to smoke a cigarette because the "animals" have stressed him out."


Boys sometimes pick on Caleb.  It's usually for silly stuff that really doesn't mean anything or that he can't change (like the white hairs on his head),

but nevertheless, some days being out in the community or attending school is just plain hard.  One boy on our street cusses at him and flips him off, but I'm starting to think that boy really doesn't understand what he's doing (at least I hope).

Anyway, I say all that to say, on days when we discover a treat here, it makes life a little bit lighter.

Doug found these at the store the other day.  Our first to buy in 8 months!  Yummy!

Then, we received this in the mail!

We took out half of the Mint Oreos in 30 minutes, fixed a pitcher of peach tea, salivated over summer sausage, and dug into the Hot & Spicy Cheez-its.

Thank you, Jesus!  You make all things new and you bless us with good things!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Here's Your Sign

Here's a sign that I live in a pretty trust-worthy country...maybe.

OR...maybe people are just more afraid of the consequences if they're caught.

I was checking out at a local store, and sitting right below the checker's screen were bundles of bills.

Because right within arm-reach of the customer is a great place to store extra cash, right?

And speaking of signs.  I wouldn't have enough time to take pictures of all the signs I see that make me smile, but sometimes I do stop for a click of the camera.

I think the language you and I share is one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn.  The spelling rules in English are weird sometimes, right?

If English was your second language, I'm sure some of the rules would get confusing sometimes

Here are some examples:

And some just make me laugh. 

I don't know what this translates as, and I know it's spelled different than our "sewer," but it still brings to mind not-so-pleasant sights and smells, so I have not ventured to try this yet.

And then I wonder who does spell check for some of these companies.

Of course, this could be Turkish for "juice."  I really don't know, but it makes me smile.

And then there's this....

Wait a minute.

I got you on the last one.  I've been saving this one for two years.

That was actually a sign from a bathroom in AMERICA at the school where one of my kids attended.

I thought I was back in Africa for a moment there and I was tempted to not let any of my child's friends touch me with their left hand.

But I digress.

Texting here is a "sign" from a whole 'nother ball game.

There's no need for a ton of explanation on this, because it's hard to understand anyway, but I know it must be difficult for them to try to type with our letters.  The grey quotes are from a worker at a local store here.

They are much more comfortable writing like this (even though this is an automated message from the mobile company), so we are getting better and better at reading and writing in this script, as well.

You'd be great at it too.

See that writing where the lemon slice is?  It says, "lemone."

And below that where the lemon and lime are put together?  It says, "Spriet."

The spelling is off, but the message is clear.

Here's your sign.