Wednesday, April 20, 2011

We are all broken

The other day I was reading the local newspaper and seeing the headlines around Africa of corruption, murder, revolutions, uprisings, famine, terrorists, suicide etc, etc. I caught myself thinking . . . "This place is SO broken". Images of the genocides, the child soldiers, disease, suffering and the ruthless hate and destruction that makes up a lot of recent history on this continent flashed before my eyes.

But then I had a moment of pause where I realized that in very general terms, yes, Africa is a very broken place. You don't have to visit here for very long to see that BUT I thought for a moment about my home in North American and I had flashes of all the brokeness there: materialism, pornography, Athesism, broken families, dying marriages, children abandoned to the streets or television-nannies, lost people clinging to pop culture for an identity and in turn loosing their own and it was very clear we are, in fact, just as broken - just in different ways.

Maybe at first thought you are saying "Really, Megan? Children stolen and made into killing machines comparable to the desire for $600 pairs of shoes?" and I hear you. I just think it is really easy to compare ourselves and our problems and our brokenness to others and make ours not seem so bad. It is easy to say "I realize we have problems but those folks over there in Timbuktu are REALLY messed up". Fair? No. True? Not really.

Life in North America is for the most part pretty. There are some gritty parts, I realize, but in general a lot of the brokenness of our world there is hidden behind a veneer of really pretty stuff. Here in Africa, not so much pretty stuff hiding the brokenness. It is all out there for the world to see.

The problem is where this feeling of "those Africans are really messed up and need my help" leads. It seems as though it brings really good intentioned people across oceans to bring their "resources" to help "fix" the problems here. Obviously I think there is high value in how one can help - I'll get to that - otherwise I wouldn't be here. However, it seems as though many people arrive to help not realizing that they too are or were very broken as well.

The idea that we have it all worked out and everything is great in America is deceiving for everyone. Mostly because it is not true but money does talk and for a long time we Americans have had a lot of it. We come with lots of money (aka "resources") and we try to shape things up a bit given our great knowledge of all things good. I'll stop there and refer you to an amazing book on this very subject "When Helping Hurts". We studied it last year and it really brought me through the trenches when it comes to how to think about helping the poor. I highly recommend it.

The power is in the idea that we are all broken - just in different ways. I can come along someone who is hurting, poor, needy (in any culture) and approach them with attitude of brokenness -

I, too, am broken in many ways and God has restored me and given me hope in these areas of my life but I continue to struggle in these other areas. I'm am seeking Him and asking for His provision and restoration in those areas.

Now I am a coming alongside them as a co-equal. We are in this struggle of life together. My testimony of faith and restoration can give strength and encourage someone who is suffering and in need of hope. No longer am I a superhero with lots of money who is coming to save the day - instead I am a friend and someone who cares and is willing to get in the filth of life to help my friend. This option is a lot messier and tougher than just throwing "resources" at the problem and running away.

So as I glanced at those headlines and had all of these thoughts and feelings I just kept thinking over and over again - we are all broken . . . just in different ways. That brings me so much comfort for some reason. Some days it feels like we are the only ones around who are broken but in truth our friends and everyone around us is just broken differently.

Thankfully, we have a Savior who knows all of our brokenness because He has walked with us and knows our pains and struggles. He is the one who offers restoration and healing for all of our brokenness. As this Holy Week continues my heart is grateful for the One who came not only to restore us but to love us. Our hope is in Him.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Excuses, excuses

Sorry. I haven't been able to keep up my end of the bargain. I have a great excuse though . . . we had a wonderful house guest this week - our dear friend Christina who is an OB/GYN at Kapsowar Hospital here in Kenya. We met Christina at our SP orientation back in August 2009. We hit it off and spent a lot of time together because we were the only non-McCropder and non-Ecuador bound people in the group. So we shared a lot of meals and got to know each other. We have been so thankful that over the last 18 months we have been able to have lots of fun visits with our friend on various occasions. Luckily, Kijabe is in a central location and not far from Nairobi so it is easy for people to "drop by" and see us. Anyway, Christina had a conference near by and stayed here and commuted each day. It was fun, as usual, to have her around. We've been especially grateful for a consistent person in our children's lives to look forward to seeing and visiting. She is a great "Nina" to our three and they love her!

So per Christina'a encouragement I am telling this story on the blog. I didn't tell it earlier because I wasn't too sure I wanted to put it out there but she assured me that it was, indeed, hilarious and needed to be a part of our family history on the blog. If nothing else it will provide a story with which to embarrass Ford in front of his first girlfriend one day.

It happened back in January when we went to pick up Jo Jo and Doc from the guest house upon their arrival to Kenya. We headed over to a shopping mall to have lunch and do some shopping before taking them out to Kijabe. We sat in an outdoor patio area of a local restaurant, Java House. All was going well as we waited for our food until I looked up and noticed Ford standing by a potted plant on the patio. At first glance it seemed normal but upon closer inspection . . . I realized that my sweet little boy was, um, taking a leak in the potted plant at Java House.

I'm sure that is exactly what Grandparents want to see as they arrive to visit their grandchildren who live in Africa. I think it could only reinforce what ever preconceptions they might have of what living in Africa might do to otherwise well-mannered children. Pee pee. In a restaurant. I couldn't believe it.

In my shock I cried out "Ford! What are you doing??". I realize now I should have just played it off or somehow blocked the view of the 50 or so other patrons of the restaurant. When I called out he turned and as you can imagine that increased the mess that was previously well contained in the potted plant and was now forming a nice puddle on the floor.

Luckily my mother in law has a good sense of humor and found it quite funny. I was really in shock and I hoped my reaction at least showed everyone else around that this wasn't normal or accepted behavior. Ford looked just as surprised and I was and clearly didn't understand what he was doing was wrong. He is used to finding a nice spot in the yard and didn't realize that a restaurant would be much different. Sigh. What can I say? We don't get out much.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Here's a sign for ya

Apparently turning your disobedient children over to the authorities is enough of a problem that a billboard was deemed necessary to address the problem. If only disobedience was taken this seriously in the U.S.!

Saturday, April 09, 2011

We would like to invite Ford . . .

Ford has accumulated quite a fan club of locals especially among the guards at the hospital. To most of them I am "Mama Ford". Maybe it is the blonde hair or something but they just take to him. Rhett said he was walking through the hospital the other day and someone said "Hi Baba Ford" and he thought - man Ford knows more people than I do around here! This was perfectly displayed when Ford (and Ford's family) were invited to a wedding of one of the guards - Isaac. He befriended us early on during our time here and we have enjoyed talking with him and learning of his upcoming marriage. We were all excited to go to the wedding.

It was the first Kenyan wedding for me and the kids in a town nearby here. The wedding was on Sunday and was part of the normal Sunday services. We had a lovely time at the wedding. We were surprised when the photographer approached us with a list and said "Are you Ford's family? You are next." So we all went up and had our picture taken with the bride and the groom on the steps of the church. We felt so honored. Isaac came by with a print of that photo which is now on our fridge so I can't share it but the happy couple, Isaac and Elizabeth, pictured above.

It is a good reminder that God is working through our whole family here. Children are so often very gifted in the art of making friends - which is really what we are all here to do.

Friday, April 08, 2011

My New Year's Resolution

So my New Year's Resolution this year was to read as many books as possible with my goal being 52. There are so many books that I just haven't read that I should have so my focus is going to be adding a lot of classics to my list. However, I love non-fiction so I have to mix it up a bit. Here is what I've read so far . . .

1. Mornings on Horseback
2. The House at Pooh Corner*
3. Decision Points
4. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
5. The Hiding Place
6. The Pursuit of God
7. Dumbing Us Down
8. A Thomas Jefferson Education
9. The Case for Classical Christian Education
10. Repairing the Ruins
11. Disease Proof Your Child
12. Farmer Boy*
13. Oliver Twist
14. The Magicians Nephew
15. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
16. Nurture Shock
17. Mary on Horseback*

*These are read aloud to the kids but they are "real" books so they count! I only list them if I read all but a few chapters to them. We recently finished On the Banks of Plum Creek but I didn't list it because Rhett read more than a few chapter in it.

So there you have it. I've fallen off the wagon a bit recently but my new KINDLE is on it's way to Kenya from America as we speak so I will be slowly working down my wish list on Amazon and hitting up many of the free classics available for download. Wish I'd had it earlier - I would have saved a lot of money, time and effort moving books around the world in various people's suitcases.

I wish I had the time to talk about each book but, alas, I am but a novice blogger so I'm just going to give you my list. Happy Reading!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

The Horn

A few weeks ago Rhett had the opportunity to travel to the "Horn" of Africa (sorry I'm being so cryptic but it is a sensitive area - check your map if you don't know where I'm talking about). Some physicians here have a wonderful relationship with the medical school in this country and make trips every few months to provide classroom teaching and clinical teaching on rounds in the hospital as well has perform many surgical cases. This is basically all the knowledge they receive outside of a book their entire medical education. This country and it neighbors have been ravaged by war for almost 20 years. They went for almost 13 years graduating no doctors in their country which has now left a generational gap in teaching the upcoming doctors not to mention an huge shortage of healthcare providers for a country still at war and constantly on the verge of crisis and famine.

Rhett was thankful to be able to be a part of this ministry to the people in this country. They are very welcoming and thankful for the doctors who come alongside them to help restore their country in many, many ways. There is a person working among these people on a full time basis and when Rhett asked him how many Christians were in this city he said "none that I know of". Rhett also asked him about the relationships he had made in the community and with his neighbors and if he felt like he had any genuine affection or loyalty from those people and he said no. Can you imagine working in a place like this? Rhett likened it to winter in Narnia. Just a wasteland with no hope. Thank God there is hope in Jesus Christ but this is the hope these people are living without. Instead they are oppressed religious laws and a country at tenuous peace as their neighbor (who they have declared themselves sovereign from but no international body will recognize) slips further and further into the abyss of anarchy, radicalism, starvation and brutality. We pray for the light of Christ to bring spring to the eternal winter in this part of the world.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Last Installment

Here is the last installment of our great trip around Kenya with Rhett's parents. After our fun time on the farm we headed over to Nakuru National Park for an overnight stay and a drive through the game park. We stayed at a very cool place that was much more rustic (think lantern light) but really great. It took quite a bit of effort to get there but it was worth it.

This was the amazing common area in the "lobby" of the hotel which was really a collection of thatched roof lava rock open air buildings. If this doesn't beckon you to come have a lounge I don't know what does.

Rudy agreed.

We sat for a while and sipped mango juice then headed to our cottage.

We had a huge family cottage that had a queen bed, two twins and a crib with plenty of room to spare. When traveling with 3 small kids rooms like this are not taken for granted. It was fabulous. We had another great porch where we sat and read aloud in the afternoon.

I know, you are thinking how romantic those mosquito nets are draped around the bed. I have to tell you they go from sexy to annoying in about 15 minutes when you have to sleep under one every night. However, they do allow you to sleep without interruption from mosquitoes buzzing in your ear (the worst). I digress . . .

This is a terrible picture but bear with me it was dark. This is where we ate dinner - all. by. ourselves. Another dream of parents traveling with young children - a private dining room! It was a really beautiful setting and was so intimate and fun to be alone and feel like we had the whole place to ourselves. Someone ran out to the car to get something at some point before dinner (but after dark) and a security guy quickly was by their side. Apparently it isn't uncommon for water buffalo (very dangerous) to wander inside the camp to find water. Sooo, everywhere you went there was a nice guy with a lantern and big stick following you around looking cautiously around for buffalo (and I'm assuming other critters too). After dinner we were escorted back to our cottage to find it aglow in beautiful lantern light, beds prepared (mosquito nets drawn and hot water bottles under the sheets) beckoning us.

The bathroom was amazing and I really don't care too much about bathrooms. It was all made of stone and had shower for two and was just very unique. While Ford and Claire took advantage of the double shower (sweet! Two at once and no one complaining they are cold!) Gus completely vetoed the shower and ended up in the sink. Which made for a cute picture so it was OK.

Predawn I was slightly awakened by a rumbling noise. I couldn't place it so I just went back to sleep. At breakfast our server asked us if we had heard the LIONS roaring early that morning! Now that is what I call a wake up call! We took off for the park that morning. Our final stop on the way home to Kijabe.

Here are some pictures of the park. It is a little different of an experience that going to the bigger game parks. You can drive your own vehicle around Nakuru and it has a system of roads. It basically surrounds Lake Nakuru which once was almost completely pink because of the thousands of flamingos that came to the lake but drought has sent many of them away although there were more this time than when we were here over a year ago. It was a fun way to end our trip!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011


This little chicken wing only knows Africa as home. All of the crazy and sometime strange things that surround us are totally normal to him. Some things that seem "normal" to me aren't so much to him. Today we hired someone to cut our grass with a lawn mower. Up until today we have hired people with machete-like blades (these workers are called "Slashers" for lack of a better adjective). This was the first time Gus had every seen such a thing - and in his own yard! - can you imagine his excitement! He kept calling it a car because he didn't know what else to call it and sat by a window for about 15 minutes watching the grass get cut.

We call him Gus-a- boo or Gussy a lot - just for fun. He is extremely independent. If you reach out to hold his had he will hold it for a second and then it's as if he remembers "Oh, I forgot! I don't do that." and he makes a quick drop with a firm "NO!". But he is a cuddler and so so sweet too. He loves to give hugs and they usually come with a running start and outstretched arms. He keeps up with the big kids in the house (including the dangerous things like jumping off of the furniture and climbing the security bars). He loves books and I'll often find him in his room sitting in his rocking chair looking at a book by himself. He sings the "ABC" song and tries to count (especially before he jumps off of something so I at least have 3 seconds warning if I have my ears on!).

He's not a huge eater. His favorites are cereal and milk, yogurt, broccoli, green beans and raisins. He loves to wrestle with his brother but Ford usually ends up putting him in a choke hold at some point and he looses the match. He and Ford both love to get naked and run laps around the house while shouting "I'm noonie, I'm noonie, I'm noonie, noonie, noonie!". It's a pretty catchy tune. He sleeps from 7pm to 7am although he has been known to sleep as late as 8:30 (and I've been known to put him to sleep as early as 6:30 as needed). He naps from 1-3ish. Easiest kid you've every seen to put to bed. Thank you Lord.

But the thing that is most important to Gus is basketball. The people who lived here before us put in a concrete pad and basketball goal and that is where Gus spends most of his day. He gets right out there in the big group of 9-12 year old boys who congregate at the court and dribbles and shoots and feels like one of the boys. They have learned not to take the ball away from Gus because he wants to play too. He spends hours out there every day and just loves it.

This post was going to be mostly pictures of Gus but I got going and couldn't stop talking about my precious little thing that brings SO much joy to my life every. single. day. I'm excited to see what God does in his life and through him. He has created him for just those very purposes and it will be a pleasure and a blessing to walk beside him and watch his story unfold. Here are some fun pictures of our little boy who will be 2 next month!!

Everyone loves Nutella, right?

riding a tricycle at my parents' house (he is making motorcycle noises to narrate his experience).

He is smiling even though his Mommy puts him in cute lion outfits on safari :)

Real men have ball for lovies!

He couldn't even put it down to eat!

Testing the potty out. His face is usually about that dirty most of the time but the bathroom floor is quite clean it is just old and looks dirty all of the time!

Monday, April 04, 2011

What we do all day

I'm short on time tonight but I don't want to back out of our little deal so here are some every day pictures. A snapshot of life.

A little school.

And lots and lots of books. A lot.

A lot of games and a lot of puzzles. A lot.

And a little preschool with friends.

We play in the rain.

And get a little dirty.

And read more books.

And help out around the house.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

What I miss (and what I don't)

We have now lived in Africa for almost 18 months. We are heading into the last six months of our two year commitment with World Medical Mission. Several people recently have asked me if I feel like I am in the home stretch or downward slide but I don't really. Honestly, I feel like I have just really gotten adjusted to living here. It takes time and I guess in my case it took even longer. I'm pretty sure the preschool years with three kiddos are some of the tougher times in mothering but by leaving all of my family, friends and support system during these years was, um, exceptionally challenging. I've been the only mom of all preschoolers in lower station (the non RVA part of Kijabe) for the entire time we've been here. I've REALLY missed the community and support and fun of sharing life with other women in the same stage of life as me. If I'm being honest it has been pretty lonely at times. But I feel like I am at a point where I can safely look at our life and assess what I really miss about home and what I don't.

It goes without saying that we miss our family. But it is so much more than that. We have missed weddings, birthdays, holiday celebrations and a handful of major illnesses and a few major surgeries. We've missed life with the people we love the most. That is the hardest part. Our nephews are 4 and 2 and changing just as fast as our kids do. They know us mostly via Skype. Our kids are familiar with our family but don't truly know them, as much as I hate to admit it. I'd say this is more true for my 1 year old and 3 year old who don't have many memories to build off of pre-Africa. It is much easier for my 5 year old who has references and memories that we can talk about, laugh about and she can ask me questions about. But we've managed with a lot of love, support and understanding from our family. We know it hasn't been easy for them and they have offered a tremendous sacrifice for us to be here. I am an only child and had very few relationships with extended family growing up (I was a military kid and lived far away a lot of my life too). It is painful to walk away from the family that I have now because it is always something that I have prayed for and desired. This is tough stuff.

On a lighter note, the next thing I really miss is driving. We have a car here that I drive locally around Kijabe. Picture me driving on the right side of the car, left side of the rocky, sometimes/somewhat paved roads dodging donkeys, school children and other obstacles while my children bounce around happily unrestrained in the back and my one year old sits shotgun (also unrestrained although sometimes he likes to sit in my lap and pretend to drive). This is all I can handle so I don't take the next step which is to drive on the insane roads and highways. Rhett on the other hand has driven a truck on a muddy hillside in Honduras, a motorcycle through the jungle in Peru and now he takes to the highways of Kenya like a Matatu driver :) What I really miss is jumping in my car and driving off to do whatever I had in mind that day - listening to the radio - chatting with a friend on the phone - or just relaxing and enjoying the drive. No enjoyment on the road here. It is stressful and dangerous. I also really miss driving at night (not safe on the roads here because people drive without lights on and bandits are on the roads). It would be nice to not have to plan our day around the fact that we must return by sunset.

I miss not being able to just go out and get whatever we need. That might sound a little materialistic but I don't mean it that way. I have to plan weeks to sometimes months to get things that we want or need. I can't just realized that the kids are almost out of vitamins and run to the store to get them. There are many things available in Nairobi but the cost can be prohibitive ($40 Barbies, $80 duplo blocks) so you better plan in advance for birthday gifts for your kids! Gus will be potty trained this summer so I better arrange for someone to bring over some big boy pants for him - I can't just run to Target and pick some up. I guess along this same idea is how far I have to plan food shopping and meals. Some things are available locally but a lot of things are only available in Nairobi. I have to plan pretty far in advance for meals. I also miss the spontanaity of Rhett coming home from work and saying "let's go get Mexican!" as I breath a sigh of relief for being off the hook for dinner and happily head on over to Sol Azteca for a #18 special and some cheese dip (and drive home in the dark :)

So what DON'T I miss about being in the States . . .

TV. I really don't miss it at all. We watch movies and DVDs on our computer so we aren't completely devoid of entertainment. I wouldn't mind watching the news and I know Rhett would like to watch some ball games but it is something that is gone from our life and it is really nice not to have the distraction and time waster. We wonder what we will do back in America? 186 channels seems a little overwhelming from where we are sitting. I did hear that you can suspend Directv for up to 6 months of the year so I'm proposing a May - August shut off at our house in America.

I don't miss feeling like I need to DO something and not know exactly how to do it. I remember being moved and inspired so many times by scripture or teaching to go and make a difference, help someone, minister and disciple - live out my faith. I also remember feeling really confused as to how to actually do that. I felt like I had to seek out an opportunity, find the time in my day or my week to go and do something. I guess just by being here I am doing something by supporting Rhett in his work (although a lot of days I am just trying to make it until nap time and feel just as far from making an actual impact as I was before). However, it doesn't take long before need shows up at my backdoor. A friend is in need and I can help. Not always with money but just some encouraging words and bearing their burden with them. Need just seems a little more accessable here although I think no there are were a lot of needs around me I just didn't see them as needs or know how to respond. This is probably going to be the toughest part of re-entry for Rhett whose work and faith and service are all jumbled together in a really wonderful way here. I really pray that he is able to figure out how to live out a little of what he has learned here in that context. It will be a challenge, I know.

I do not miss not having a personal relationship with the people I encounter in my everyday life. Kijabe is a bit like Mayberry in that I know the shop keeper, the people in the market, the person who delivers my paper, the guards at the hospital. They are the same people day after day and we have become friends. Life in the US seemed a little bit anonymous. I might see a few familiar faces in various shops or at the bank but it wasn't the level of friendship I have with people here. Actually, the only person in the US that I remember have a relationship with was a bagger at Publix who was Kenyan! It is nice to have people notice that you haven't been to the market that week or inquire about your family member who has been sick.

So 18 months ago I would have had a different list I'm sure. It would have been long on the lack of conveniences of the USA which start to fade after a while and become more annoyances than anything else. But the rolling black outs, occasional water outage and slower internet just sort of become part of your life and you deal. Now I feel like a have a little bit better perspective just in time for my life to turn upside down again in 6 months!

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Baby Rhett

I'd like to introduce you to a very special little boy - Baby Rhett!

You might be a little confused right now but let me explain. This little cutie pie is not a Shirley. His mother, Lydia, is a diabetes educator in the hospital. While she was pregnant my husband Rhett found out a peculiar thing about the culture here in Kenya. You do not speak of your pregnancy and nor does anyone else until the baby is actually born. No rude old ladies rubbing your preggo belly here. Everyone just ignores the fact that you are pregnant until you actually have the baby then you make a big announcement that you had a baby! I thought maybe it was because so many women loose babies before they are born but when I asked around I was told that it was really more of a tradition and superstition than anything else. Anyway, we had just learned about this and so, of course, Rhett asked one of the pregnant women he knew about it - Lydia. She was gracious and thought his inquisitiveness was kind and fun. Another tradition here in Kenya is that you are called Mama ______ (your oldest child's name) so I am Mama Claire (although I'm called Mama Ford or Mama Gus by others who know them better). So Rhett teased Lydia by calling her Mama Rhett (meaning that he baby was named Rhett - not that he was the Dad - just be to be clear :) She thought it was fun and was a good sport about his teasing.

Fast forward to October 27, 2010. Lydia gives birth to a beautiful baby boy named . . . Rhett! She said she like the way "Mama Rhett" sounded when Rhett called her that and that the baby always moved when Rhett talked to her. She said that Rhett was a man who feared God and that was what they prayed for their son. Rhett was honored beyond belief at having a baby named after him! Can you tell?

The only problem is that most people around here have an awful lot of trouble with "R"s - especially his father's tribe (they are an inter-tribal marriage). So poor little Rhett will likely be Whett to many he knows, including his family. Lydia and Moses (Baby Rhett's father) took him to Meru to meet his extended family after his birth and he was blessed with a gift of 3 goats to start his herd. We are absolutely smitten with this adorable little boy and are thankful that we have a very special, lifelong connection with him. I know we are a little biased but isn't he the cutest thing EVER??

Friday, April 01, 2011

A blog a day . . .

Hello! Happy April! In order to attempt to redeem myself for those of you who are still reading my blog I am going to post every day in the month of April! No this is not an April Fool's joke! I'm not sure what I'll post about. Maybe one or two of the hundred or so posts I've mentally penned over the last year or so, maybe a picture or story or just tell you what we did that day. Who knows! So to celebrate I'm going to start with one of my favorite kind of posts: A Few of My Favorite things. I will not be giving away free stuff like Oprah but it will be fun anyway.

1. Pattern Blocks

I am not a math person (just ask my Algebra teacher Mrs. Brightwell). However I'm trying to help my children overcome my disdain of all things math and make it really fun for them! So I bought these pattern blocks here as part of our home school stuff and they are awesome! HOURS of play and entertainment for my kids. My 3 year old is especially enamored by them as was the whole group of 4K kids that I have taught at my house the last two months. Highly recommend. They are great for fine motor skills and build their little math brains!

2. Pop Corn Air Popper

Man I love this thing. I bought it at Walmart when we were in the States and brought it back with us. You can also buy it here but it was cheaper at Walmart. We use this every day. I can buy a big ole bag of popcorn kernels and pop up a very healthy and cheap snack in no time - no oil, no hydrogenated fats or suspicious yellow powder. Yum!


When we moved to Africa we were anxious to find ways to keep our family connected with our family 9,000 miles away. One of the things we came up with was Movie Night which we have on our family members' birthdays! For example, even though it is Uncle Bobby's birthday far away in America we have a bit of a party here in his honor! This is the only time we have movie night so it makes it really special. We roast marshmellows in our fire place, eat popcorn (see above), let the kids make pallets on the living room floor where we eat, watch a movie and let the kids sleep in the living room all night. It has been a great way to celebrate each member of our family throughout the year. I think it is a tradition we will keep no matter how many miles are between us!

(This is an old picture of Ford from last summer - he does NOT have his paci anymore!)

4. Treasury of Story Book Classics DVDs

What is this book and DVD? Oh yes. I stumbled upon this neat set of dvds that is actually a book being read aloud. Of course it is not even close to a replacement for actually sitting down to read a good book but if you are going to watch a dvd why not slip some bookage in there too? Some of these are slightly animated, some are just still photos of the illustrations but they are engaging. Claire has mentioned plots or characters to many of the books on these dvds and I've thought "when did I read that?" then realized it was on the dvd. They are short enough to be healthy for the kids and long enough for me to take a shower. Obviously you buy them on sale only.

So there you have it my first of 30 posts this month. We hope you enjoy some of our favorite things too!