Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Just a suggestion. . .

It's not that off-base to call Nate & I, Ipod junkies. Along with changing what we listen to--it's changing how I interact with media. Including how I watch TV. Who needs Tivo when I can watch my favorite shows on-line without commercials! At least without a lot of commercials,'limited commercial interruption' to be precise. I think it's wonderful. But here's the thing--if a company is going to sponsor an entire show--I'm assuming that's a worth wile investment---I have two suggestions:
1.) Please give me more than one commercial to watch. The same commercial on every break? What's the point of a great ad campaign if I roll my eyes at it the fourth time I watch it? In fact I get so sick of it that I want to swear off whomever it is that decided to "sponsor" a show. If you don't think I'm paying attention than please simply flash your logo for a few seconds and we'll call it good.

2.) Also, please pay a little bit of attention to your audience. If you're going to sponsor a show called Lipstick Jungle by Candace Bushnell (creator of Sex in the City fame) please don't give me a commercial about heavy-duty trucks (Toyota) or humorous pep-talks from Peyton Manning(Mastercard). It feels down right insulting when I'm trying to get a little girl-time to have Peyton Manning give me tips on how to reduce my gut!
Either I don't get it or the media industry has a steeper learning curve than we thought when it comes to internet TV. All that to say--its a whole new world out there and I love being in the thick of these huge changes in media!
P.S. Not 100% sold on Lipstick Jungle but it's far less racy since its on primetime vs. Sex in the City on HBO. Sneaking suspicion it'll be my guilty indulgence since I do love watching beautifully-coiffed women balance home, work & self. Also-like seeing which storylines are going to be used from Sex In the City (Victory's man troubles with the elusive billionaire—a lot like Big & Samantha.) Have to say-I love that they have Brooke Sheilds playing a movie studio exec w/ a 14 year-old daughter! Sassy!

This Little Piggy. . .Gave Me A FleshWound

I think I've discovered you CAN start teaching your kids about saving TOO SOON.
Sophia recently developed an affection for a little piggy bank that fit in the size of your hand. I figured I'd try it as a "teaching moment." I should have realized these were Kamikaze pigs after the first one met its end before we even left the store. (Probably the real reason I bought it--after she'd shattered one--we'll the least we could do was take a whole one home.)
The first couple of days it was cute--she slept with it, made Mommy carry it around so she wouldn't drop it. Then I got the bright idea that we should actually put $ in it. Any $ we found cleaning would go into the piggy bank. I should have noticed the chip in piggy's ear and realized that this may not be the best object lesson. No--thankfully I'm too hard headed. This morning when we were putting three pennies in piggy (a treat we'd found in mommy's pocket) I was attempting to explain why we don't put the $ in and take it right out. I didn't think it would hurt if she even shook the piggy--I thought she was listening to all her money inside. That is until the piggy connected with my head and blood started to trickle into my eyes.

Now our slightly chipped-$ loaded piggy is sitting safe on her highest shelf and mommy is sporting an eyebrow band-aid that makes me look more like Nelly than I ever wanted to in my life. I think we're going to teach saving when she's a little older. Today though, we got a great lesson in first aid and the importance of saying sorry. Oh well, live-learn-and always have band-aids on hand.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Snow Crazy

More really!
Things to do during ANOTHER gray,wet, icy,yucky, sleepy, day:
Make coffee (maybe get Yoga in before Sophia wakes up-I've tried to do it with her but just ended up on the floor laughing)
Cuddles in mom's bed-somehow the warmest room in the house.
Watch Sesame Street (At least Elmo's World-on at precisely 9:50--this is important knowledge)& eat breakfast--in mom's bed, of course. It's a bright-spot in a gray day
Dance--Sophia has her own play list complete with Itsy Bitsy Spider--Dan Zane (if you know who he is you're definitely a parent) and so on.
Color, Clean or Bake cookies--Sophia LOVES to cook
Dance some more--this time to music from Highschool Musical. Complete with hats and funky sunglasses! (so that I can clean the kitchen)
More coffee--Mommy's Juice as we call it!
Watch COUS COUS! or Blues Clues--For those who speak Sophia.
(for mom to get caught up on laundry-make bed-email)
Here we play a game of basketball--thanks to Uncle Banga! Unfortunately Sophia can't understand why she can throw the ball AT the hoop--but can't throw anything else. Especially something AT anything.
Head down into Mom's Laboratory--Calling it a craft room would give it too much structure.
It is where I paint, or sew, or make greeting cards that never get mailed for lack of a stamp.
It's also where Sophia has her own lab and cooks (she makes a mean cup of coffee) colors, or paints (I've discovered that old grocery bags are the perfect canvas! She takes the colored water I wash my brushes in and paints me all sorts of pictures.
Head back-upstairs to make lunch & you guessed it DANCE.
After we hose Sophia down from lunch--I really need to get some bigger bibs. On major snow days-we may actually still be in p.j.s (this may seem like sloth--but with any luck we'll only have to wear 2 outfits in a day--instead of 3 or 4 depending.
It's time to cuddle again this time with some very specific requirements. (At least one blankie, pacie, and a book) If we're feeling good we sing Jesus Loves Me and lay down for a nap. At least I think she's napping, every time I go to get her out she's got more books in her crib! I don't know how she does it?
Now its my time! Time to shower, get in a quiet time, catch-up my to-do-list, write. There's always more to do than time. Today I googled AL Gore---WHERE'S MY GLOBAL WARMING!?!? But on a day as gray as today--you can be sure of one thing. There will be coffee! (Those that have known me for a while may notice the absence of Diet Coke--what can I say I'm on a health kick!)
Sometime after Sophia wakes up is snack time. She usually announce this by taking my hand and saying "Com'on-hungy, PLEASE!" Often it's Sophia favorite snack "Pop-pop!" (popcorn for you lesser mortals--popped in the pot not the microwave.)
Somehow my day seems much more sane on paper---must be because of my omission of all the little oopsies--Here-Go's--toddler arguments--bribing with Pooh or George video's --all of Sophia's "help" in the kitchen etc. . .I have to admit I'm getting more and more lenient as we've been looking for ways to pass the days.
This is about the time of day when my patience is frazzled and all the things I didn't get done are weighing on my mind. So it's no wonder that we celebrate Daddy's return like a knight coming home from war! My handsome hero also takes over child-care duties so that I can cook and catch up. (any wonder why I love to cook--its wonderful to focus again on something so creative) Ever since she's been a few months old his goal's been to "wear her out." Ironically, she ends up winning and I typically have to go rouse him. Exhausted after entertaining-bathing-settling-and singing to Sophia. (One of these days I'm going to figure out if he's the one slipping her all the books)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Be careful what you blog for?

Recently Katie, my dear blog-friend, commented on the blog that she really wants to meet Nate & Sophia. The next day Nate informed me that he had to travel to Florida for business and so he's taking us along! The best part--we get to stay with Katie & family (All my complaining about snow finally paid off!)

I've had the privileged of knowing Katie & Shaun McDonnell-since college. I've always admired Katie's ability to create her own path--being confident in her own spirit & abilities. Married while in college--I've never gotten a chance to meet her beautiful children. (The fact that she was pregnant when we graduated doesn't count!)

Katie was an answer to prayer my first week at home as a mom (the most terrifying one of them all) Katie invited me to join an on-line prayer group of other women across the country who happened to be mom's. For the last two years I've had a constant support system on-line and in the process gotten closer with Katie via the web.

But what really thrills me is getting a chance to have her photograph Sophia! Katie takes magical pictures--especially of children. Pictures of her children frolicking in the sun have gotten me through long winters since before I was a mom. Now I not only get to see her & her family but for Sophia's 2nd birthday coming up we're going to book a session with 'how i wonder' photography.

Katie's beautiful brood.

Evan, Madalyn & Jack

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Words to live by.

Life lessons from Sophia
The magic word will get you almost anything.
Always have a second form of communication to get your point across. When words fail-signs work.
Throwing a temper tantrum does not guarentee desired results.
A smile can get you along way.
When caught red handed--politely hand it to the owner with a smile and say, helpfully "Here-go!"
A kiss can make any owie better.
A nap can cure any form of frustration.
Celebrate the little things in life. Toes--shoes--hats--colored pictures--brushing teeth we rejoice in our house.
Mom's motto: If you're going to argue-do it respectfully & if you're going to complain-make it funny.

Dirty Tricks

Cleaning up my bedroom today, I accidently vacuumed up a nylon sock.
Thinking I was mechanically minded I attempted to empty and dismantle every port and duct I could.
Finally frustrated I yelled at the vacuum. "Give me back my sock!"
Much to my surprise the vacuum answered back.
"NO!" came a little voice that sounded suspiciously like Sophia.
Still haven't gotten my sock back and we're working on Sophia's negotiating skills. At this point we'd take any suggestion you have.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Perfect for a long winter

Last month-I recieved a wonderful birthday gift from a dear friend. A chance to spend a couple of uninterupted hours in my new favorite place. Mystery Cat Books--right off of 1st ave. behind Irish Democrat. If you like mysteries (which many of you know is guilty indulgence of mine) then this is the place for you. If, like me, you've recently started collecting books (first editions, signed copies or proof copies) then this is a reasonably priced gold-mine of wonderful titles. I had a chance to pick up four--two proofs and two signed copies. They're vastly different but have been really-good-clean-fun. Hard to find these days-so I'd thought I'd share.

The Ape Who Guards the Balance--an Amelia Peabody Series
Turn of the century Egyptologist-becomes embroiled in one scheme after another. You're local library may have these. I heard them first as audio books and their wonderful! Fun,colorful characters! Kids can listen too--great for road trips.

Just came out this January--this is across between the DaVinci Code and the Bourne Identity. Interesting historical fiction--with lotz of action and emotion surprisingly.
Read it in two days (you'd be proud Linda.) The first 300 pages flew! The ending was a little long--but a great book for both male and female.

Murder hits a Minnesota town right in the Cookie Jar.
Stephanie Plum with Mid-west values.
Also has great recipes.
Never knew there's a subcategory of food mysteries
Dialogue is a little slow but still clean and fun.

(Pet peeve--any author who dresses all women in blouses and pants suits--just bothers me! No one wears jeans?)

Best part of this book--in the copy I got the author made a correction to the Fudge Cupcake recipe--supposed to be baking soda not powder. Not only is it a signed copy but she initialed the correction! So cool to have & know that a best-selling author (whose character tests recipes for a cookbook in the story ironically) would be so candid about the mistake! This will make you want to bake!

Food for Thought

Thank you-Sarah McLean-fellow missionary kid from Swaziland for sending this to me.
I'm not sure how accurate it is--but it is compelling.

Germany: The Melander family of BargteheideFood expenditure for one week: 375.39 Euros or $500.07

United States : The Revis family of North Carolina Food expenditure for one week: $341.98

Japan : The Ukita family of Kodaira CityFood expenditure for one week:
37,699 Yen or $317.25

Italy: The Manzo family of SicilyFood expenditure for one week:
214.36 Euros or $260.11

Mexico : The Casales family of Cuernavaca Food expenditure for one week:
1, 862.78 Mexican Pesos or $189.09

Poland : The Sobczynscy family of
Konstancin-Jeziorna Food expenditure for one week:
582.48 Zlotys or $151.27

Egypt: The Ahmed family of CairoFood expenditure for one week:
387.85 Egyptian Pounds or $68.53

Ecuador: The Ayme family of Tingo Food expenditure for one week: $31.55

Bhutan: The Namgay family of Shingkhey VillageFood expenditure for one week:
224.93 ngultrum or $5.03

Chad: The Aboubakar family of Breidjing Camp Food expenditure for one week:
685 CFA Francs or $1.23

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A personal look at Chadian history from a dear friend of ours. Here as a teen-soldier below as a loving father and friend. For more info check him out at:

Chadian Update: Baby boy born this last week named Christophe Hadama after Pastor Christophe, the hero to many in their time of need.


36 inches to date! When I was a kid-snow days were a blissful treat. This winter we've had more snow and below freezing weather than any winter in the last 8 years. The cities are running out of salt. The grocery stores have run out of milk & bread more times than we can count. And the school kids have had so many snow days they'll be going to school durring the summer.

Nate's sure that Iowa has become Narnia and keeps telling me we have to find the ice queen! He's not the only one that's loosing it. Personally, I feel like I've been placed under house arrest. Sophia and I have holed up in the basement watching so many movies I'm afraid I'll rot her brain by the time spring comes! Take a deep breath outside and you get an ice cream headache in February!

Even us Iowans who are used to grueling winters have had enough---you can tell how defeated Mid-Westerners are by how quickly they cancel things due to weather. Every year we get a coupple bad snowstorms but it rarely slows us down. This year though we've been beaten down, chewed up and spit out. Too many days of freezing rain, no sun, bitting temperatures and feet of snow. That's right I said feet. Needless to say we're ready to throw in the towel.

When the weather man informed us of this latest storm-front we all threw up the white-flag. Course no one could see it in the piles and piles of snow, or through the blinding whiteness. After such a nasty winter none of us were placing our big-toe outside unless we have too. We haven't even questioned the weather man--this year he'd be the kinda guy you'd want to take to Vegas. He's showing up big -rack'en up the numbers. Thankfully we've had a couple warm days that have melted off one or two rounds of accumulated snow banks (creating spooky fog that lasted for days) otherwise the entire city would be lost under the mounds of crsytalized water. Needless to say I've had it--I think I'm going the way of hibernation untill all the snow is gone. At this rate--that may mean July!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

She's Got Legs

And she know's how to use them! Just hangin' out on a weekend and Sophia found Mommy's shoes. It's amazing to see her really be able to move, sweep, even dance in my shoes. She's even got style. Check out my fly little dancer!

(P.S. This is all for Auntie Linda!)

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Just B/c You Asked

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

My lovely wife

I just wanted to take this moment to let all of you know the amazing support, wisdom and insight I received from the greatest gift God has given me. Sarah was a constant source of encouragement and comfort during the week of crisis in Chad and continues to be as we follow the situation. She was up with me at night and was behind many of the ideas of how to go about the operational tasks that needed to be undertaken in order to get help to the chadian refugees.

Sarah allowed me to use her blog to keep all of you updated. I had been thinking of starting a blog before all of this happened and now I think I will start. I'll keep all of you posted. I've always been impressed on how Sarah uses her blog to keep people updated with our lives and to encourage others.

Thank you Sarah for your support and how you have embraced my family and shown your selfless dedication to me and to the people of Chad.



Monday, February 11, 2008

02/11/08 Dad and Reuben Reunite / Pictures taken by Reuben

After over a week and thousands of miles, my dad - Abel Ndjerareou, finally met up with Reuben in Kousseri, Cameroon today at 1:30 PM Cameroon/Chad time. I spoke with both of them at around 10:00 AM US Central time. They were in good spirits and were driving to the border to cross over into N'djamena Chad. My dad will be able to see the aftermath for the first time since the rebel attack on N'djamena. Thank you very much for your prayers as the Lord protected them both and many others in mighty ways this past week.

It's a boy!
This is pastor Christophe who many of you prayed for and gave to. He is holding a baby who was born on Sunday, February 10, 2008 while his mother was taking refuge at Christophe's church. In a previous post I mentioned that Reuben had called me on his way to take the baby's mother to the hospital. Baby boy does not as of yet have a name but he is blessed.

Proud Reuben posing next to the baby whose mother he, skillfully and without panic, drove to the hospital while she was in full Labor. I will never forget the excitement in Reuben's voice as I was talking with him on the phone while he was driving! I finally hung up because I was starting to panic! Not sure why he called me in the middle of it but after this last week this was mild.

People taking refuge at ESTES which is a seminary close by to where Reuben was staying.


Rice being rationed

Bread being distributed

People taking refuge at a Catholic church near Christophe's church

Food being prepared and distrubted at pastor Christophe's church.

Chadian refugees at Pastor Christophe's church

Chadian refugees at Pastor Christophe's church

Many people who took refuge at Pastor Christophe's church have either returned to N'djamena, moved further into Cameroon or have taken refuge at the United Nations refugee camp nearby. Less than 200 remain at pastor Christophe's church and many more are expected to leave in the next few days. Reuben and I want to say thank you for your prayers and gifts. Prayers that were heard by an almighty and sovereign God who took your gifts and multiplied them. What is left over will be given to Christophe and Reuben to take care of any long term needs that should arise.

The situation, at least in N'djamena, is calm and returning normal. A new kind of normal for sure. Continue to pray for the political situation as it is far from being resolved. This morning 12,000 more sudanese refugees spilled over into Chad on the eastern border after airstrikes in Sudan. This adds to the already 240,000 refugees on the Chadian side of the border in Darfur. A European peace keeping force is expected to arrive in Chad this week to be deployed to the eastern part of the country. The situation was already bad before last week's rebel attacks on N'djamena and now more uncertainty and suffering are a reality effecting more and more people.

The conflicts in Chad, Sudan, and the Central African Republic are far from over; however, we trust that God will bring a solution in only a way that he can.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

02/10/08 Happy Birthday Banga / Chad Update from Nate and Sarah

Sarah and I want to wish our brother Reoubanga Joseph Ndjerareou a happy birthday. February 10 is one of the many special days in the Ndjerareou family. Thanks for your support Banga and being there for mom during these tough and uncertain times. You are a great brother, son, uncle, cousin... . We're proud of your recent graduation from Iowa State and are proud of your internship. We are not looking forward to the day that you have to leave for boot camp in June and then on to Army training but we know that you are in God's hand. That is the US Army by the way.

At 2:00 AM US central time, Sarah and I were able to get a hold of my dad. He was literally on the tarmac boarding a CamAir flight for northern cameroun. It has taken exactly a week to change his original ticket and reach the destination due to the cancellation of Air France flights to Chad. His route has been Madagascar to Paris, France to Douala, Cameroun. Now it will be Douala, Cameroun to Yaounde(capital of cameroun) to another city in Cameroun then finally Garoua, Cameroun. From the city of Garoua, he will be taking a taxi bus to Kousseri Cameroun to finally meet up with Reuben. He is traveling from Douala with Papa Renee Daidanso.

Someday I will put a picture of the route on a map. What a trip. We are thankful he had a couple of days to rest in Douala though before he heads to ground zero.

Thank you for your prayers as the Lord has again favorably answered our request that he and Renee get a flight today. Not easy to do, especially in times like these.

  • The picture above came directly from Reuben. These are Chadians using canoes to cross over from Chad to Cameroun during the initial days of the conflict as the bridge was packed (picture in earlier post below). He was at an internet cafe in Kousseri which had terrible connections. Because of this he could not get all the pictures sent that he wanted to send. He finally just gave up and didn't think any of the pictures made it. But this one did. I was hoping to have pictures of the food distribution at Pastor Christophe's church to share with all of you. Reuben said he was going to try again tomorrow (which at the time I am writing this, is today). Hopefully he can get them here and I can post them soon. I really want all of you to see how you have directly touched people's lives and how God, through you, gave many people hope when the situation was at its worst.

  • I have spoken to Reuben at least 5 times since my last post. He is doing well. The last time I spoke with him, at 9:30PM US Central time. He was taking one of the women, who has taken refuge at Pastor Christophe's church, to the hospital in Kousseri to give birth. It was interesting talking to Reuben while he was driving a woman in Labor to the doctor. One of the many stories I won't forget for a long time. As soon as dad and him meet up I will let you guys know. Many thanks from both my dad and Reuben to all of you.

  • Aid agenices (World Vision, UNHCR, World Food Program and others) are in the area now and are doing their best to keep up. This week we raised 5,971.00 from grass roots support. We will continue to keep you all updated and just as soon as I possibly can, I will e-mail those who have donated more detailed information. Thank you again.
The article below is one the latest news items I have found in regards to chad. It was published on line 5 minutes before the publish time of this blog posting.
Thanks again. Continue to pray and we'll be in touch.
Nate and Sarah

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Intimate View

When two become one, each is introduced to a new world. No matter if you are of different religions, occupations or race. Gender difference alone can necessitate delicate diplomacy. The benefits of being a foreigner amongst Chadians is the opportunity to observe values and beliefs from everyday actions.

I wanted to share with all of you the respect I have for the Chadian people. That you may know personally the people you've been lavishing such support.
Chadian hospitality starts with tea and ends with a meal. Always, every time, no exceptions. Chadian men (at least the Christians) respect their women. Custom dictates they can choose who they marry. Chadian women receive equal rights and sit at the highest levels of government and civilian offices.Chadian men are rarely prone to public display's towards their wives, only because their busy being affectionate toward children or others. Chadian men make incredible fathers, responsible and involved in the most everyday aspects of parenthood.

According to culture, to serve is to respect and hospitality seems to be a genetic trait. So is laughter, even tribal language has been structured to maximize a punch line. Politics and religion aren't taboo subjects for social conversation and if you can make it into a joke--even better. Scarcity of food and political upheaval have created a population where presence and loyalty are everything.

According to custom, if a friend is leaving your home and asks you to accompany him or her, one would gladly walk them half way home. Walk a mile with a Chadian and you have a friend for life. This little detail encapsulates much of the heart of this loving and warm people. All that to say I can't imagine a people more deserving of your help and prayers. Because of you Africans can help each other, especially those who simply need a leg up. Thank you for walking a mile with us. May God bless you.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Dad has arrived in Douala, Cameroun / UNHCR flying in Aid

My dad and mom with Sarah's parents Blane and Joan. Old picture of Sophia.

02/08/08 2:40PM US Central Time: Just a quick update to let all of you know that my dad, Abel, arrived in Douala, Cameroun from Paris just over 2 hours ago. I just got off the phone with him. He is doing well and is in good spirits. He is waiting for a good friend of the family (Papa Renee Daidanso - some of you reading may know him) who is coming up from Yaounde, Cameroun. The plan is for the two to catch a CamAir flight on Sunday to Garoua, Cameroun and then drive to Kousseri and go from there. Pray that they are able to get a flight on Sunday and for safe travels. If anybody needs further information or my dad's phone number please e-mail me at . I'll be more than happy to put you in touch.

UNHCR Emergency Team has arrived in Cameroun
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees has started flying in aid to the refugees in Kousseri, Cameroun. The new estimates are that 30,000 people crossed the border and according to the news article there has been a lot of back and forth movement from Chad to Cameroun. There are two plane loads that have enough to feed 14,000 people. The UN is also bringing in blankets and other non-food supplies. Please read the article for more concise information.

The Red Cross has als been registering people in Kousseri.

Thanks to all of you who have bridged the gap between grass roots support and international aid agencies.



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