Wednesday, April 30, 2008

This blog brought to you by. . .

No, I don't have corporate sponsorship, but PBS does.  Every time this lovely lady appears on screen (usually right before Sesame Street)  Sophia points at the screen and says with conviction "THAT'S MOMMY!"   Guess it could be worse.  Could've been the Michelin Man!

Monday, April 28, 2008

This Weekend Chicago--Tomorrow Paris!

The tickets have been bought, the visa has been issued! We're going to Paris!!! And by we I don't mean Sophia. She's staying with Nana & Papa, Auntie Minga, Uncle Dana, Great Grandma & Great Grandpa (GG.) What can I say, it truly takes a village. She'll be missed but well loved. We are meeting up with Nate's little bro, Joseph and his father Abel Ndjerareou. We're looking forward to visiting the seminary his father attended and works with doctoral students.

Nate and I are looking forward to lots of people watching, cafe-sitting and picnic's in the park. There won't be a lot of museum touring this time around. Yes, we're already planning our next trip and so we'll save all that for when we have more time.

Getting Nate's Schengen visa was a small adventure in and of itself. Late Thursday night, it looked like he would have to work on Friday and miss his 9am French Consulate appointment in Chicago (the closest consulate and yes you have to apply in person.) Since we were trying travel with family we were dealing with limited timeline which meant one-shot at the visa.

Around 10pm we got the phone call that work would survive without Nate. Should we go for it? Do women like shoes? Do two-year-olds get into mischief? These are all easy questions!!!! 3am we packed a sleepy Sophia into the car, along with snacks, coffee, a clean shirt for Nate & I (just in case). A couple blankets and outfits for Sophia (plus the mandatory pacifier and backup pacifier). We crept out of our neighborhood in the dark and I'll admit I felt like we were fleeing something. But I'm oddly proud of my ability as a mother to pack up the family in the middle of the night on a moments notice! Good practice for Paris!

The trip was fabulous, we breezed into downtown Chicago and rolled into the consulate long before anyone else (they're French, what can I say)? Sophia captured everyones heart giving hundreds of grumpy looking commuters something to smile about as they waited for their Starbucks. I don't believe in coincidences, I know someone was looking out for us. I texted a friend of mine on the off chance she was in town. Turns out she was four blocks away! 1o minutes later we were watching Sophia run around Millennium Park. Later that day we dropped in on my college roommate Annika and Sophia played with her adorable children. Back home by 10pm we wisely decided to crash with my parents to catch up on a some much needed sleep. Grandparents don't seem to mind the occasional 6am visit by a toddler. All of this reinforced Nate's long held motto: We're Ndjerareou's, we don't plan--we improvise! It goes without saying that God does the rest!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

How come? . . . Second Edition

How come a child always gets in the worst trouble between 4:30 & 6:30 the night their father's working late?  Never the day he comes home early?
How come it takes at least five minutes for Sophia & I to BOTH pick up a mess but she can make one all by herself in .5 seconds flat? 
How come whenever Sophia starts a video she looses interest and I end up watching Little Nemo?
How come I have to clean the carpet every time I serve spaghetti?  
How come I have carpet in my dinning room?  
How come prolonged silence with a two-year-old in the house is the most terrifying thing on the planet?   
How come my daughter thinks anything that comes in a plastic bottle/tube is either toothpaste or lotion?  
How come my daughter is wearing conditioner as a facial mask?  
How come children take baths so often?  I'll tell you why, because at the end of the day it's the safest place for them and everyone else in the house!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Answered Prayer

The Thompson family has a reason to celebrate today!  After nine long months they SOLD their house!  This can be a traumatic event for anyone, but Naomi & Travis have only been parents for a couple years and have done a FANTASTIC job!  Showering their girls with love, security, and support as they transition from Liberia to America. 
Emma, Garmai, & Madeline mean so much to us. Sassy gives Madeline someone to mother and giggle with plus, Naomi is our hand-me-down supplier. She keeps Sophia in a constant supply of  'princess dresses and new shoes.'  In fact, the Thompson girls love to decide if something is too small then it's time to give it to Sophia! 
The other day it looked like the Shoe Fairy had stopped by with a box of shoes the girls had outgrown.  Nate walked in and said "Looks like Naomi's been here!"  Naomi & I are scroungers, we love to shop Goodwill quarter days, children's resale shops, sales, and garage sales.  The best part is that people always comment on how great Sophia looks and I know she's the third or fourth little girl to share in the love!   
Speaking of love!  It's meant so much to carry this family in prayer.  My beloved prayer group (my husband calls us the DREAM TEAM) began praying for them this week and VOILA!  Oh we're not taking credit for this.  It's just beautiful to be a part of their joy and witness first hand the power of prayer!  Thank you God, for taking care of the Thompson's 

Sarah Kay - Hands - With HBO's Def Poetry Jam

Thanks Linda for this. . .I'm proud to share my name with her she's amazing!

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Cheese & Jam Sandwich Experiment

Necessity, is the mother of invention.  .  .if your school ever looked like this?  Well, let's just say your reference point may be slightly different.  Of course, this is only one of the many types of schools I attended growing up.  But today,this experience got me out of a jam. . . (Ahem, no pun intended.)
One of Sophia's favorite snacks are peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.   (I'm really enjoying taking requests since she's only two and up till now it's been a guessing game of grunts and signs.)  But there was NO peanut butter today!!! Oh no!  Think SK, think.  Of course I could give her another healthy snack--but from the back of my mind an old favorite raised its neglected hand.   
I'll admit I was curious. Would my little girl enjoy the same snacks that were part of my British/Swazi/International school repertoire? Or, had Americanism so saturated the amniotic fluid that she would immediately spurn something different?  Actually, I think she liked it! Maybe she's young and still flexible?  Still, I believe it's important to prepare her for other cultural experiences. Especially those important to children everywhere--like lunch! 

Please note--cheese and jam sandwiches CAN'T be Americanized (tried it when I was a kid--the details are  important!)  No American, single sliced, prepackaged cheese, please. (Personally, the slimy, cheese wannabe, kinda grosses me out)  No, you need thick, hand sliced, STRONG cheddar to make this work.  If it sounds gross to you? Well, think what hot dogs sound like to the rest of the world?   

Sunday, April 20, 2008


It's official!  I'm a PSYCH junkie!  (Remember LONG winter--no cable!)  I was into the show before I re-watched ALL of season 1 the past couple of  weeks. I wanted to see what other work James Roday (Shaun) had done.  But of course, I was more interested in the fact that he and a certain co-star are dating in REAL LIFE!  (Physchers know--and no it's not Gus!) 
Wanna know if your a Physcher?? (just coined the phrase)  Check out OMG link below to play Phsych game and see if you get 100% too!  I think there may BE a couple psychics working on their staff though. (I know, I know, I do need to get out and get some sun! But there IS no SUN in IOWA!) 


100% Nice! Break out the mortarboards and gowns, because someone just earned an advanced degree in Psych-ology. You're a Shawnophile. You're a Gusologist. And we suspect you're spending entirely too much time inside watching your Psych DVDs. So go out into the world and tell all your friends you aced this quiz. You could use some sun. 

Friday, April 18, 2008

Now What?

Ohkay, yes. I did wonder what could be worse than a long snowy winter? Now, I would like to withdraw the question! After days and days of rain. . . long, gray, cold rain. I was about to loose my Christianity (figure of speech people.) But seriously, I picture myself standing before the Lord on "Judgement Day" and if God mentions "the winter of '08?" Well, I think I should be excused from this one. . .it's not like He doesn't have any say in the matter!

That's what I thought, until this morning. Imagine my surprise when I hear we've had an EARTHQUAKE! No, I didn't feel anything. I'd gotten up with a stuffed up, and cranky Sophia at 2:18 am and only crawled back into bed around 3:50 in the morning. I do know several workaholics who were jogging, or sitting at their desk, or brushing their teeth, when the earthquake rearranged things on tables a little after 4 am.

Now, I have a new plan. No more waiting till "Judgement Day!" Snow & Rain are one thing--but an EARTHQUAKE?? You don't have to tell me twice. I'm REPENTING!! Getting down on my knee's and confessing anything that comes to me. "Because, (as Lewis Black says) I know what the next season will be. . . LOCUSTS!"

Thursday, April 17, 2008

In our prayers. . .

Please join me in prayer for my maternal grandfather, Harlan Helgeson. He is recovering from scheduled gall-bladder surgery.
My parents will be joining them tonight in North Dakota as they make some decisions about the future. Thank you in advance for your prayers.

(Don't you love this picture?) 

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Many Faces of Dana

From then to now--one cool guy no matter how old! Dana--it's been a pleasure to share in your journey. Or should I say road trip? I love who you were & who you've become.  Happy Birthday Little Brother!

Better than Oprah Award

No matter what you think of Oprah (I haven't been paying attention lately) she's helped many people. Well, this story means so much more to me b/c it was done by real people-for real people.   Emily, the blogger, is the sister-in-law of one of my best college friends, Elisa Palmer (brunette on the left.)  In my opinion, Emily is the master blogger (her following amazes me. She was an inspiration even before all of this.) 
 Emily the blogger, has become an angel for Emily, the little girl.  A sweet little baby who has been diagnosed with brain cancer. Thanks to Emily the blogger, at last count $25,000 had been raised in one-week via Pay Pal!!!!   Okay they're aren't enough exclamation points in the world to do that justice. I wanted to share this with all of you b/c I know my readers are activists.  Nate and I were astounded with your response to our Chadian Refugee Relief (update coming soon) Foundation that was created right here on our blog.  It just proves what I've alway hoped, real people DON'T need a celebrity to care or to give!  

The Coco Chanel Award

"How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something but someone." ~ Garbrielle "Coco" Chanel
For incredible style and grace demonstrated under pressure, Elizabeth Smith you deserve recognition for making women feel incredible even in the face of severe weather.  Last Thursday, my dear friend Elizabeth had launched into her presentation of the beautiful Cabi clothing line to a dozen women, when nearby, the tornado sirens warned what we had already assumed from the horizontal rain hitting the window panes.   When we casually flipped on the TV we were alarmed by a giant red angry looking cloud hovering right above our location on the TV map.
None of this phased Liz, we simply scooped up the beautiful clothes (and the wine) and moved the party to the basement. She didn't miss a beat, anythings easy compared to being a mother of three boys, right?  In fact, I think it loosened everyone up a little.  (or maybe that was the wine)  Anyway, a great time was had by all!
  On the way home I realized I hadn't bonded over clothing like that with other women since college!  What I love about Cabi--besides the high quality, and the fact that their not juniors clothes or clothes my mother would wear (sorry mom--you know what I mean!) but I LOVE getting clothes in the mail!  New favorite thing!  

"In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit." ~Albert Schweitzer

I have to thank all of you who've been so supportive of my words. I fell into writing out of a tumult that bubbled up.  By God's grace, I discovered I wasn't alone.  I've fallen in love with writing because of the bridge it's created from the silent part in me to the silent part in others. What a gift to bare ones soul and have it loved and encouraged by all of you. Thank you all for restoring my hope in God and his people.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Look at this beauty, isn't she adorable?  Nothing is more moving than her tiny hands patting my cheeks, her hugs and her kisses are the air I breathe.   In Sophia's charisma a part of me is redeemed.  The part of me that worried too much what others thought.  Her large heart and generous spirit, touches me.  All this beauty and sweetness has developed under my care?  God must be gracious and kind.

In the curve of her face I see the beauty of her father's people.  She is the perfect creation of our hearts.  Wherever we go, people stop and smile at her.  I'm sure any toddler has this affect on the average person, but it warms my soul all the same.

Yesterday, she was playing with my long hair and then I saw that she reached up and pulled her beautiful little curls, trying to get them to come down by her ears like mommies.    It moved something in me--something that wants to preserve her fearless spirit, to fight for her against all the elements that tell a women she's not enough of whatever.   In that moment, I realized the only way I could protect her would be by believing the same for myself.  To live the difference for her.  I cannot teach what I don't believe.  My dear friends have been helping me realize my worth in Christ above all else.  Accomplishments, size, none of it matters in comparison with who I've been created as a daughter of the One True King.     

She is a little challenge for me, in the best possible way.  A reminder for me to live my life with joy and passion.   Live out loud! What do you have to be afraid of? She's my hero.  She doesn't believe that pretending to be a princess will make her less capable.  She also believes that a beautiful dress goes wonderfully with sneakers and a fireman's hat!  Who can argue with that?
Next time I worry what to wear or what someone may think--well maybe I need my own princess dress and fire hat!  

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Another theory on socks

Laundry day is the only exciting day in the life of clothes. It is. No, think about it. The washing machine is the nightclub of clothes. You, know, it's dark, there's bubbles happening, they're all kind of dancin' around in there.  Shirt grabs  the underwear, 'Come on, babe, let's go.' You come by, you open up the lid, they all freeze.

Socks are the most amazing article of clothing. They hate their lives; they're in the shoes with stinky feet, the boring drawers. The dryer is their only chance to escape an' they all know it. They do escape from the dryer--they plan it in the hamper, the night before. "Tomorrow, the dryer, I'm gettin' out!"   

"You wait here."

The dryer door swings open, the sock is waiting up against the side wall. [Flat against the wall, looking left and right, cautious.] He hopes you don't see him, an' he goes down the road [hums a jaunty tune] They get buttons sewn on their face--join a puppet show.

Seinfeld--Pilot episode.

The case if the missing sock. . .

Isn't it beautiful ladies and gentleman?  3.2 cubic feet, Hydrowave action with four speeds and 16 washing combinations!  Ohkay, I may have read a few too many consumer reports recently. It may be basic but it's glorious to me.  

God provided a free washer & dryer when we moved in and it lasted 3 years--well maybe 2 and 1/2 then the heating element went out in the dryer. (it would take me several hours to dry a load of laundry, not very good for electricity bills--and yes I did clean out every nook and cranny and changed the fan belt!)  Not long before that I noticed that I was shopping for clothes more than usual--that's when I started to notice just how much wear our clothes were getting from our washer & dryer. Sure enough, when I started lugging my laundry out to mom's it came back looking so nice I wanted to cry.  It was a sad day when I realized the emotional effect of laundry.  I guess that truly makes me a domestic engineer or something.    But seriously--its really frustrating when your new clothes were aging in weeks instead of months to years.  Everything looked pilly and old. (Yes, I really am that vain).   

So, I LOVE Lowes, the day after we picked out top of the basic-line, top loading washer, and inexpensive but brand new dryer, it walked in the door the very next day!  Which was good b/c I had TONZ of laundry that I'd piled up in the powder room next to the laundry room so that the nice gentleman delivering it could move around.   You can imagine what I've been up to the past couple days.  Yep--laundry, I haven't loved it this much--ever! 

Being COMPLETELY caught up on laundry feels like we've been on a shopping spree, our closets our brimming.  I've also been sorting EVERYTHING as it came out the laundry into sell, keep, and give-away piles. It feels so good to only be putting clean clothes that fit and are in good condition into our drawers.   (Ohkay somebody stop me!)

Last comment on laundry I promise!!!  I did discover what's been happening to about 2 dozen baby socks and small ankle socks--the washer truly did eat them!  It was hoarding them underneath itself!!  Just another reason I was glad to see it go!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

A Lessen for the ages. . .

"As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew.  They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 'Come, follow me,' Jesus said, 'and I will make you fishers of men.' At once, they left their nets and followed him."  Matthew 4:18-20

This morning I had the distinct opportunity to teach our 6 & under children's church. Today's lessen was about how Christ called us to be 'fishers of men' not just fishermen.  The children and I discussed how we catch fish then we eat them, it was at that point I realized just how terrible it could sound to a child's mind.   
 'Wait, you mean Jesus wants us to catch people? For what? Did Jesus want to eat people? Did he want us to eat people?   As I was teaching I realized the IMPORTANCE of context! 

So as I vamped, we discussed the fact that Jesus wants everyone to go to heaven, but first we had to discuss why anyone would want to go to heaven? Here's the answers we came up with:
No one ever gets sick (like the flu.)
No one ever dies (like our dogs or grandparents.)
There are no stores in heaven b/c we'll have anything we ever needed (gold streets, and NO we can't take the gold.)
Everyone will be loved and feel wonderful (like how mommy & daddy make us feel.)

After that it was easy to see why you would want to tell everyone about heaven and how you get there.  We want to see all our friends in heaven, (and all our pets too--this I'm not sure of--but I'm pretty sure we won't need four wheelers there and so the pets thing seemed just too mean to take away from someone who had his little heart set on a four wheeler in heaven.)

Actually, the kids did all the work--we just talked about fish, and pets and heaven.  One little boy was concerned that his dog, who was naughty, would go to hell (whispered of course, so no one would hear him use this word.)  What better way to talk about the fact the ALL of us have been naughty and none of us have been good enough for heaven?    Jesus took our punishment for us!  We all agreed this was pretty cool--none of us had ever had anyone take our time-out, OR spanking for us.  So since Jesus made it possible for EVERYONE to go to heaven, he wants EVERYONE to come, and so he wants to have us help him invite everyone.  That makes us fishermen!  We're Jesus helpers, praying for our friends  (and pets) and telling them about heaven and the cool thing Jesus did so we could go there.  

These brilliant little ones helped me write their friends names on the fishes so that we could pray for them. We got to pray for all our friends that God would catch them like fish--and invite them to heaven.  It was so sweet to see young minds capture the powerful love that Jesus has for all of us?  Makes me wonder how we can take something so simple and make it so hard These little children got it--and thankfully they're praying for us.

Friday, April 04, 2008

How Come? . . .

How come whenever I wear a white shirt. . .I will ALWAYS spill my coffee?   I think I have a hole in my lip?

Murphy's Law
The more potential a food has for stains the greater the coverage area when it's hurled by a child.  AND the more expensive the clothing/fabric/furniture will be. Believe me I don't need to blame a mess on Sophia--I can do it ALL BY MYSELF. 

But since we're on the subject. . . How come the intensity of the tantrum is directly proportional to the amount of people around to witness?  

How come the later you are, the more you're child wants to smell the flowers, look at the sky, watch an ant?

How come my child seems to think if it's mine it's mine,
if it's yours its mine,
if I like it it's mine,
if I can take it from you it's mine,
if I am playing with something ALL the pieces are mine,
if I think it's mine it is,
if I saw it first it's mine,
if you put it down it's mine,
if I put it down it's still mine,
if it looks like the one I have at home it's mine,
if it's broken it's yours?

Thursday, April 03, 2008



I sat down for a nice long quiet time this afternoon after putting Sophia down for a nap--in full princess dress regalia. 

(Side note about princess dresses: This morning I woke up to a little girl telling me that she 'took it off.' What did you take off Sophia?Of course this was my next question too.  As I lifted my head off my pillow I got the full view of Sophia's little body.   Even though it was early I began to comprehend what she'd taken off --including her diaper.  Was my child entering the 'naked phase' that consumes so many toddlers?  No, as it turned out, this was just another part of her 'princess phase.' So we spent the WHOLE day in full Easter wear, complete with sandals and bunny ears--thanks to her Great-Aunt Elaine. We hopped and danced and would only take our sandals off when we were sleeping.  Gotta love it!)     

I don't blame Sophia for being confused--we've had a couple of warm days, sort of--but during her nap and my quiet time I was thanking God for the softly falling rain bringing a much needed spring.   BUT NO!  When I came downstairs this afternoon I almost screamed in frustration when I saw SNOW!  Thick, heavy, and sticking to the ground!  I felt a little sheepish when behind me a I heard 'No Snow' followed by a garbled imitation of my tirade coming from Sassy.

I can't say it's been all bad though.  All this snow has forced us to stay inside and has given Sophia plenty of time with this.  So now she's not only singing her ABC's she's identifying letters.  This morning she placed a blue plastic fire-hat on my head and started to knight me with a knitting needle.  

At least that's what I thought until I realized she was using the needle to point to letters singing their sounds to a happy little tune. E says eh, M for Mommy, T, T says teh.  I had to double check and even call Nana and Nate.  

Yes, her hat did say EMT.   Junior EMT to be exact and no--no one's been coaching her--except her favorite fridge toy.  (Do I get credit for this since I gave it to her for Christmas?  I mean I did read the reviews for it and have endured the repetitious but delightful and effective little ditty?)  Either way my two year old can read!  She may think everything is orange--believe me she'll argue the point with you if you ask her what color something is--but she can READ!!!  Well, close enough, for now!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Sugar, Spice & Everything Nice. .

"Mama, wanna be a princess please."
This is how Sophia tells me she wants to put on a pretty dress. After this visit to Florida, she discovered that sometimes you don't need to wear long sleeves, pants, or even a sweater along with our princess dress. From that point on it's been a small skirmish every time we've had to dress in warm layers. For more pictures of Sophia flirting with warm weather, check out the magic of Katie McDonnell.
Thanks for the Mac love & welcome! So great to know who can guide me through this conversion.
Everything that I was trying to do with my old computer is faster and easier.

Look around my home and you'll see 2 Ipods, 1 Iphone & a Macbook in a pear tree! I guess it was only a matter of time!

Yesterday though, I found something that's going to keep me young! Rockband--the other Guitar Hero--except this one has drums! Wow! I should have been a drummer! Thanks to Rockband I got to sound like a drummer for an hour or too. Oh yeah, my little brother talked me into it and I was HOOKED--we blew some serious time. I even have FOUR blisters from drum sticks! It wasn't pretty--but it was a blast!


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