Monday, March 31, 2008

Marhaba!!

That's Arabic for hello.

Yes, we made it safe and sound to Doha, Qatar - a world away from our life in Miami, but hopefully it will be a good life decision for our family.

So far, things are going well. Our furniture is due to be delivered tomorrow, so we will be able to move from our little apartment into our new home either then or the next day. Of course, the kids have been arguing over who gets which room. The third master room (with its own bath) is downstairs and no one wants to be down there alone. I settled it by giving Emily the additional upstairs bath and promising to put either a curtain or folding screen across the hall to her room and bathroom so she will have privacy.

People have been friendly. The kids went ice skating twice so far and have met other kids, while I met a mom and got to know her and got lots of advice. They seem to be settling down, but I'm sure once we get into the house and get a phone and our things and tv it will be much easier.

This Friday we'll go to church and I'm hoping that we will all make some new friends. Especially the kids. Hubby will take Emily to youth group on Thursday night, so hopefully she'll have a head start on us.

Well, that's all for now. I'm off to make the kids lunch. So far we've only eaten out, so this will be my first attempt at cooking here. Nothing fancy, just burgers. But it's intimidating nonetheless to go into the store and try to buy things that are completely unfamiliar and then try to work with them. Things that you thing are pretty basic end up having strange spices or something added so it's not really what you expect.

I'll post more, hopefully with pictures of our new home. God bless and thanks for the encouraging words!!
Thursday, March 27, 2008

Lessons I've Learned So Far

1. When you get on the plane and the air conditioning is not working, and they tell you that it will cool down quickly once we are in the air, that's a lie. I think it cooled down about the time we put on our seatbelts to land in London.
2. Travelling half-way across the world is not the best time to try store-brand feminine hygeine products. 'Nuff said.
3. When they tell you your flight will be the first to use it's brand-spanking new terminal, what the airline really means is that you are guinea pigs. We sat in the plane at the gate for 40 minutes because they couldn't get the jetway out to the plane.

That's our update from London!

Stay tuned for more later!
Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Pulling Up Stakes

Well, we are just under 48 hours from our big move across the world. It was a very hard weekend, full of emotional goodbyes and hard, strenuous work.

To all of our beloved friends here in Miami, we will miss you more than you know. For all my complaining about this city, you have made it wonderful.

To my future friends in Qatar, I can't wait to meet you in real life and get to know you.

To all my visitors here at The Simple Life at Home, thank you for your encouragement and kind words. They have helped more than you know.

I will probably not be posting for a week or so until we can get there and begin to get settled. If I could ask for prayers one more time?

*~* That our trip will be comfortable, on time and safe. We have a long journey of 22 hours ahead of us.

*~* That our little puppy, Snow, will arrive safely and in good health. Ok, she's 7, not actually a puppy, but she's our little puppy

~*~ That our belongings would arrive soon. Apparently the boat did not reach port on March 21 as scheduled and is not scheduled to arrive until April 1. This means we will be there for almost two weeks with no furniture.

~*~ For a smooth transition for all of us, but particularly my children. That they would make friends quickly and easily and settle into live in Doha.

Thanks again! Be back as soon as I can!
Saturday, March 22, 2008

You Just Can't Stay Mad at a Jamaican

Remember my rant from yesterday? About how awful British Airways is?

Well, today I finally got to speak to the actual booking agent. And I was mad, really mad. I was ready to lay into him with a huge spiel about their horrible customer service.

But he was Jamaican.

Now, living in Miami, I have lots of Jamaican friends. They are truly some of the nicest people on the planet. Their laid-back attitude, their easy-going laugh, and their general good-nature make it impossible to stay mad for long.

This guy was no exception.

The fact that he gave me some good news didn't hurt. Once I explained to him that the health certificate he had in his possession did include her vaccination records (a fact which he overlooked, since he hadn't, you know, read it!), he told me that all I was missing was the import permit from Qatar. Hopefully that will come on Sunday or Monday.

He also told me that the person I spoke to yesterday was wrong and that there is no additional fee to have the dog stay over in London. Well, there is, but it was included in the original estimate of $1150 (did I mention it's going to cost $1150?!!!!). So hopefully there will not be any additional fees that pop up last minute.

Sadly, she will indeed not make it to Doha on the same flight. They are sticking by their 4 hour rule hard and fast. But at least she'll get there. That's what matters, I guess.

In Jamaica, at least.
Friday, March 21, 2008

What I Wish I Had Known

(Edited slightly for the Carnival of Homeschooling, being hosted by my friend, Tiffany, this week. Thanks for visiting and I hope you find something helpful for you here.)

* * * * * * *

I found this wonderful Friday meme over at The Heart of the Matter, a wonderful online homeschooling magazine. I'm so excited because I have loved homeschooling and love sharing about it.

Today's theme is, "What I Wish I Had Known My First Year." Gosh, my first year seems so long ago it's hard to even remember what I did or didn't know then. Now that Emily is finishing up 7th grade and Daniel is preparing to enter middle school, and we are considering putting them in school due to some upcoming changes in our family, I have a lot to look back and learn from though.

I wish I had know how fleeting my time with my children would be. I love the saying, "The days are long, but the years are short." When I realize that in just 5 years one of my children will be off to college and out of our home possibly, it's shocking. There is so much to teach them, so much to impress upon them. In the midst of all the, oh heck, I'll just say it, drudgery of being a homeschooling wife and mom (you know what I mean - the endless cleaning, meal preparation, lesson planning, teaching, correcting, etc.) there are precious, teachable moments when you really connect with your child's heart. I would savor each of those moments a little more.

I wish I had known that socialization is NOT what the world says it is. Let's face it, this is one of the biggest concerns most people have for homeschooled children. And, yes, there are some freaks out there who homeschool their children and withhold them from any contact with the world outside their family. But that's not the norm. Most homeschool families are so connected with the world around them. Homeschooled children learn how to deal with people of all ages - not just those of the same age and social class. A dear friend of mine often tells me that my kids aren't in the "real world." (Yes, we are still friends.) But what I think she doesn't understand is that my kids' world is much more "real" than hers'. My kids go about my day with me, watching how the world works. They socialize with everyone from infants to senior citizens. They are able to look an adult in the eye and have a conversation. I get compliments all the time from people who can just sense a difference in them due to their maturity level.

I wish I had known that unit studies are just not right for everybody. There is such a push for unit studies in homeschooling circles. And they are great, they really are. Our first two years we used one of the unit study giants that are out there and had a ball. But I was exhausted! I spent hours and hours each week tracking down all the books and materials I would need. Did my kids have fun learning? You betcha! But it didn't work in the long haul for us. We now use a more literature-based program where everything comes in one box and, for us, it has been a godsend.

I wish I had known that it's ok (and probably good) to switch curriculum mid-year. When you first start homeschooling, you child is not the only one learning. You are too - you are learning your child's learning style, your teaching style, and what each curriculum has to offer. I cannot tell you the times I invested money in some program and tried to slog through it, even though it didn't work for our family, just because I had spent the money. Now I'm not advertising wasting money. But I would advise new homeschoolers to not sink a lot of money into the first thing or two they try. It may look really good in the catalog or at the convention, but real life has a way of making the flaws show up. Be willing to acknowledge when something isn't working and take steps to correct it.

I wish I had known that God is an infinitely better teacher than me. Let me tell you, ladies, I am not a trained teacher. But somehow, through all my failings (and they are many) my children are doing well. Sometimes I wonder how, but they are. Even though we are a little loose with our schedule and even though I often answer a question with "I don't know," they are pretty darn smart. I accredit this to God. He provides what I miss. I've heard that there are holes in every education. But I've come to understand that God knows what my kids need, more than I do. He'll help them get it, even when I screw up. Now this isn't license to just slack off and do nothing! But it is comforting to know that when I fail, the kids have a much, much better Teacher to rely on.

If you've come by way of The Heart of the Matter, thanks so much for stopping by! Well, actually, no matter HOW you got here, thanks for stopping by! If you would like to discuss homeschooling with me, I'm always in the mood to share, so feel free.

I (Don't!!) Heart British Airways

I am officially at the end of my rope.

Having been forced to fly on British Airways by my husband's company, even though I knew that taking our dog with them would end in problems, I am now ready to walk to Qatar rather than deal with them any further.

Yes, that would mean walking through the Atlantic Ocean. And Northern Africa. But it might be worth it.

For one month I have been trying to get information and to make the booking for our dog's transport. I have spent hours and hours on the phone, trying to get someone to talk to me. I have left message after message, been put through to voice mail after voice mail, spent endless time on hold waiting for someone to pick up in vain. I have dialed that number no less than 100 times.

On those rare few occasions when I did manage to speak with a live person, I got conflicting and incomplete information. Yes, you need this paper. No, you don't need that. But you do need this. Well, I can give you information, but I can't actually make the booking - only one person (the one who never calls back) can do that.

Finally yesterday I thought we were done. I had emailed the duty manager (still never having spoken to the person who can do the bookings) all the details of our crate size and weight and attached the International Health Certificate as he had asked for.

At the end of the day today he called me and asked where the vet certificate was. You know, the vet certificate that no one ever mentioned.

Apparently the International Health Certificate (the only thing he ever mentioned) isn't all we need. We also need a signed certificate from the vet about her vaccine record, heartworm test, etc. So this means ANOTHER trip to the vet (our 4th in 3 weeks).

Plus he informed me that I need to have her re-checked for ticks and worms within 24 hours of the flight. Which would be fine, but our flight is at 6 pm. Which means the exam would have to be the morning we fly. The day after I turn in my car to the dealership.

I guess I'll walk there.

On top of all this, he gave me an estimate of how much we are looking at for transporting her. Are you sitting down?

$1150.00

That's one thousand and fifty dollars. American.

I mean, if we were talking pesos or something...

Then he tells me today, that because our layover is 15 minutes - 15 minutes!!!!- short of 4 hours, she will probably be held over in London until the next day. For a fee, of course.

I could have flown on another airline which would have allowed the dog to go as baggage, rather than cargo, and would have cost me about $400. Without all the headaches. I'm so disgusted with British Airways, and with my husband's company for forcing us to fly them. This has been, by far, the worst part of the entire move. Nothing, not the thought moving to a foreign country and culture, not the packing and moving, not living in an empty house, and maybe not even being separated from my husband, has caused me the heartache and grief that this has.

I'm terrified that a) she won't get on the flight because I can't get all the remaining paperwork, b) the import permit won't come in on time from Qatar, and c) what I will tell my son if this happens.

Sorry to vent. I guess I just needed to sort this all out and let it out, you know? Thanks for listening.

And if you happen to be the CEO of British Airways, call me. We need to talk.
Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thankful Thursday - Easter!!!



" And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom."

Mark 15:38

Easter is truly one of my favorite times of year. It was at Easter, 23 years ago, that I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. For quite some time, I had been living my life as a "double agent." At church, I was a good girl, always doing my Bible Study and being so nice and sweet. At school (I was a junior in high school - you can do the math), I was a foul-mouthed, boy-crazy, not very nice girl.

But that all changed that Easter weekend. I had gone on a high school retreat with our church. Our speaker, Tim Kimmel, challenged us to really be pure vessels for Christ. He helped me to understand that it wasn't enough to be "mostly" devoted to Him - we are called to be completely sold out.

It was the beginning of my new life, on Easter Sunday. Every year when Easter rolls around I am reminded anew of the life God wants me to lead and the sacrifices Christ made for me, so that I might have eternity to spend with God.

* * * * * * * * *

I am thankful that Christ gave up Heaven to come to earth as a helpless baby.

I am thankful that Christ lived a sinless life in order to be a perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world.

I am thankful that Christ preached so thoroughly as to leave us a "road map" for the Christian life.

I am thankful that Christ submitted His will to the Father's in the Garden of Gethsemane.

I am thankful that He extended mercy to the thief on the cross, offering hope to those of us who sin. Our God is a God who forgives until the end.

I am thankful that Christ fulfilled the prophecies of the Messiah.

I am thankful that death could not hold Him, that sin could not bind Him and that my Savior rose from the grave on the third day and even now sits at the right hand of God.

I am thankful that I will be judged, not by what I do, but by who I am - a child of God.

* * * * * * * *

I chose the verse above because it represents the very real "tearing of the curtain" between man and God. Where once there needed to be a representative to stand before the people and plead their case, now we are blessed to be able to go to God directly. Hallelujah!!

For more wonderful Thankful Thursday posts, please visit Iris, the wonderful host. Have a very blessed Easter!!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

WFMW - Make Your Own Organizer


Note: This is a reprint (with some editing) of a post that was originally published in June of last year. However, as I prepare for our move, this has proved an invaluable resource, helping me to stay organized with the millions of details that need done and all the special events (parties, dinners, appointments) that go along with saying goodbyes. Given how much it's been helping me lately, I thought it was worth another look.

I have what I call "my book" that has made a huge difference in my life. Now, I am not one of those people who were born organized. I generally have scraps of paper everywhere with dates, phone numbers, important messages, etc. And I had now way of putting all into a cohesive system until I came up with my home organizing binder. Now, I can't truly claim brilliance here - there are systems like this all over the place. FlyLady recommends a "Control Journal" but that sounds too..."controlling" to me. And my binder is actually a recycled and reworked version of the "Keepers at Home Organizer" which I purchased at a homeschool convention. I just tweaked it and made it work for my purposes.

So what's in it, you ask? In my 2 inch binder, I have many good and wonderful things. Come and take a look. I have my sections divided by plastic clear, but colored, dividers. That way I can see through to the first page of each section, but the sections all have their own color.

First up is a zippered pouch. In here I keep pens, stamps, envelopes, scissors - things that I might need that otherwise might never be found in a home with two, um, creative (?) children. That way I always have them when I need them.

Next up is a printed yearly calendar (http://www.donnayoung.org/) that I have noted birthdays and anniversaries on. This is easily visible through the clear plastic once I flip the pouch out of the way. From the same website, I have printed out monthly calendars for the entire year. These go right behind the annual calendar and I just discard them as I finish up each month.

Flipping to the next section, Schedules, brings us to my daily homeschool schedules and a cleaning schedule for the home.

After this is the next section To-Do/Goals. This is my most used section. First I have a thin spiral notebook inside. As I prepare for each new week, I write the week's menu down and underneath that I list my "to-do's" for the week, transferring whatever is undone from last week to the new week. On the back of the previous page (which would have last week's menus on it) I write my shopping list so it can be discarded once the shopping is completed. That way I just open up to the first page of that notebook and at a glance can see what I've planned for dinner and what else needs to be done for that week. Behind the notebook I have a Bible reading chart and my "101 in 1001" list for easy review.

Next up is a Homemaking section with a copy of "The Grand Plan," a 12 week plan for organizing and sprucing up your home. I also have in this section a very detailed cleaning plan, a chart of everyone's sizes, a travel preparation chart (what to pack and do beforehand type thing).

Behind this is a Contact section with necessary phone numbers and addresses.

Then comes an Encouragement section where I keep encouraging articles on being a godly wife and mother. This is one of my favorite sections. I print out and keep many, many articles and posts that I find online to go back for review whenever I need a reminder of how important my role as a wife and mother is. I strongly recommend this to any woman who ever feels discouraged by the never-ending work of being a mom. It is so encouraging at those low moments.

I keep "things to do" (bills to pay, forms to mail in, etc) in the front pocket of the notebook, and "things to file" in the back pocket.

I know for some of you this may seem totally basic and for others it may seem neurotic. But this systems has truly helped me avoid those times when Hubby will say, "Did you take care of this?" and I would never even remember what he was talking about. I'm very much an "in the moment" kind of girl, so once something is out of sight, it's really out of mind in my case. Now I can look right in one central place and get all the info I need!

For more ideas, be sure to visit Shannon's own great idea of Works for Me Wednesday!
Monday, March 17, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - Crunch Time!!!!


Ok, we are counting down the days now. Nine, to be exact. Nine days until we pick up and move across the world. Nine days until we start our new lives. Nine days until we say good-bye to all we've known our entire married life.

This weekend has been really fun and busy. Friday night Daniel and I went out to dinner and to see "Horton Hears a Who." Very cute movie - I would recommend it. Emily was to sleep over with a friend, but unbeknownst to her, there was a surprise good-bye/birthday party for her put together by our youth pastor's wife and youth intern. She was so excited and had a great time.

Then Saturday was her "official" birthday party. A dozen of her closest friends helped her celebrate - a little early, but nobody seemed to mind. Two of the girls came home and slept over and went to church with us this morning.

Following church we had a church picnic. So much fun and it was really good to just hang out and socialize with people, particularly since our time is going so fast. It's hard to believe that we only have one more Sunday to share with our church family. We've been here for 12 years!! We've built such beautiful friendships and will miss everyone terribly.

Whoa!!

Sorry, I don't know how I got down this little trail, but I should probably get on to the week's menu plan. Here we go:

Monday - (Goodbye dinner with friends at P.F. Chang's. Yummy!!!!)

Tuesday - Bezella (an Arabic beef stew served over rice)

Thursday - Stuffed Shells Florentine, caesar salad

Friday - Grilled Chicken, Yellow Rice and steamed green beans

Saturday - Meatloaf, potatoes au gratin

Sunday - Sandwiches, cole slaw and chips

I know that some of these are repeats from a week or two ago. That's due to the fact that I'm trying to use up all the ingredients and remaining food in the house. With the above menu, I think I'm set for the week for groceries. Whoo-hoo!

Thanks to Laura for hosting Menu Plan Monday. It's such a great way to get delicious ideas and recipes. Be sure to check out the many other people participating this week!
Saturday, March 15, 2008

Free Asssociation

You know that old psychological technique known as free association? The one where a word is supplied and you say the first thing that comes to mind? Not that I've ever been under the care of a psychologist. Well, ok, there was that one time.

But that's another story.

Well, LunaNina offers up a set of words each week for your mental health status check pleasure. Since I don't have much else to talk about right now, here are this week's words - and my responses. Make of them what you will.


Homicide :: Law & Order
Divisive :: Math
Flash :: Gordon
Steaming :: Veggies
Crunch :: Cereal
Look out! :: Spiderman
Anticipating :: Hubby
Slim :: Jeans
Navel :: Orange
Help :: Others

Oh, and I have one more personal one to add:

Broken air conditioning :: Me!!! Ugh!
Thursday, March 13, 2008

Sharing the Comment Love

There is a very interesting discussion going on over at Lightning Online about commenting on blogs. But it's not your typical discussion about how to get your readers to comment or if it's appropriate or not to lurk at your favorite blogs.

The discussion centers on the blogger's response to comments received. What is appropriate? Apparently, some people believe that each and every comment should receive a response. Others feel that only certain, well-thought out and meaningful ones do. And yet other people feel that replying is an optional thing that the blogger may or may not have the time or inclination to do.

First of all, I want to apologize if you've commented here and I've offended you by not getting back to you. I truly value each and every one of you who spend a moment or two of your time to visit me here. I may question your judgement, LOL!!, but I appreciate you!

If I haven't responded to you, it's most likely it's because I don't really know what the proper etiquette is. I feel awkward responding within the comments section (unless it's a question that would benefit other readers). I never know if someone will come back to see if I've answered, so I am not sure if that is beneficial.

I often respond to those who comment by writing them an email. However, many unfortunately have not checked the box to enable people to respond via email. Please, please check the box.

And finally, I will usually come on over and visit your blog and leave a comment on yours. Not so much in a tit-for-tat way, but to get to know you a little bit. Usually I'll leave comments thanking you for visiting and mentioning a post you've written that touched me.

So, I guess my question(s) is/are:

If you comment on this (or any other blog) do you go back to read the comments section to see if there is a response from the blog owner?

Is there a valid reason why people don't "check the box" or is it just an oversight?

Do you stop visiting blogs of those who don't reply to your comments?

Thanks for your input! You can be sure I will reply to each and every one of these comments!!! LOL!!

Happiness is...



1. Being two weeks from seeing my husband after a too-long separation.

2. Having rented out all our properties that needed to be rented - no more people showing up at the door unexpectedly, no more phone calls, no more open houses, no more showings that people don't show up for, no more worrying about having the house in "show-ready" condition 24-7.

3. Knowing that I can indeed bring our dog and therefore I have a very happy son.

4. Having the ultimate birthday gifts stashed away to surprise the kids with when they might be struggling to adapt to a new life.

5. Having the new Jodi Picoult novel in my possession. Hooray for the library fairies that smiled upon me and somehow moved me from 38th in line to 1st!! Otherwise I would never have gotten to read it before I leave.

6. Having great friends, our homeschool support group, who threw us a surprise going away party last week. I was going to wait to post about it until I got pictures of the event, but I can't let a Thankful Thursday pass without mentioning how much our friends mean to us.


It's really the little things in life that make up the happy moments, isn't it? I mean, that is what our lives are basically made up of - little moments. The minutiae of life. And yet we so often take those day to day moments for granted.


What do you have to be thankful for in your life today? Don't just consider the big things - think about all the little blessings that happen every day.

Little drops of water, little grains of sand,
make the mighty ocean and the beauteous land.
And the little moments, humble though they may be,
make the mighty ages of eternity.

~ from "Little Drops of Water," by Julia Carney, 1845

Thanks, as always, to Iris for hosting Thankful Thursday. It really is one of my favorite bloggy days of each week. Be sure to stop by and be blessed by other Thankful Thursday posts.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I'm Still Here!!

I know I've been a little quiet lately. Just a result of drawing nearer to our move date.

Today my kids and I were blessed to have a friend take them to the zoo with her kids. Not only do my kids need to get out of the house, but it's giving me a chance to get things done. Of course, here I sit blogging, so you can tell how that's going. LOL!!

No, seriously, I've spent the morning packing EVERYTHING trying to make sure we have enough room in our suitcases to take everything we are planning on taking. So far, it looks like we are ok. I think I'll need to pick up one more carry-on suitcase as we seem to be short one, but other than that, it's looking good.

Hubby wants me to pack a change of clothes and pj's and all other necessities in one bag, so that night we can just worry about finding the one bag (we arrive at 10 at night, then have to get through customs and luggage lines). It's a good idea, but I think it's probably better to have each of us pack those items in our own carry-ons. That way just in case our luggage mysteriously doesn't arrive with us, we'll have what we need for that night and the next day anyways.

Then this afternoon, I'm off to get my hair cut and highlighted. As I mentioned, Hubby likes it this way. Plus I could definitely use a little pick-me-up. With just two weeks to go, I'm getting more and more anxious to see him.

The first couple of weeks were horrible - missing him was like an omnipresent cloud hanging over me. Then we kind of settled into a groove. The last week or two it's gotten difficult again, knowing that we are so close to seeing each other. Each time we are scheduled to talk, I feel like a giddy schoolgirl with a crush, just all tingly inside.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, you know.

I'll be back in full force soon, I promise. Thanks for hanging in there with me!!
Saturday, March 8, 2008

C'mon In and Join the Party!!

Ultimate Blog Party 2008


Hi!! Come on in and make yourself at home. Can I get you something to drink? Oh, here, you can put your purse down over here and relax a little. Don't worry, no one will bother it.

Would you like a little something to eat? I've got some tortilla chips with black bean salsa on the table, as well as tabbouleh (a personal favorite!). Oh, and you've got to try my Strawberry Cheese Ring! It's a Paula Deen recipe and it is to. die. for.

Now that you've got a drink in one hand and a plate of food in the other, let me make some introductions. Nothing like meeting someone for the first time with a mouth full of food, is there?!!

I'm Lori, the host of this lovely abode. I've been blogging since last June. I'm still learning the ropes of all the technical stuff, but I do love sharing my heart. This all started as a way for me to find my way to a more simple life. It's evolved however and now covers everything from that to my daily rants and raves about my life. It's also increasingly become about our upcoming move. To the Persian Gulf.

Yes, that's right. We are moving in, oh, 19 days or so to the small country of Qatar. My husband (referred to here as Hubby - clever, huh?!) is already there and has been since early January. The kids and I (I'll introduce them to you in a second) are excited to join him there soon, and excited to start a new phase in our lives.

Oh, here's Emily to re-fill your drink. She's such a helpful little thing. She's going to be 13 soon and loves to be in the midst of everything. She is such a kind girl, recently making sure my 15th wedding anniversary was still a special day even though Hubby was gone.

Over there, telling a joke to another party guest, is my son Daniel. He'll be 11 next month and is my little monkey, always a barrel of laughs. He's as sweet as can be - easy-going and affectionate.

We homeschool our children. We've always homeschooled and are now debating whether or not to continue homeschooling once we make the move. It's still up in the air until God makes clear where He wants them.

The guiding force in our lives, and of this blog, is Christ. Everything I do is an attempt to honor Him. Oh, there are lots of times I fail, trust me. But I at least try. I want to get closer to Him and learn more about Him.

I try to reflect this desire in how I raise my children, how I manage my home, how I deal with others and how I love my husband. Each of these areas are my "mission field." I believe that God puts each one of us in the place where He wants us to serve Him. There are no small or unimportant parts to our lives. Each part of my life, and yours!, is ordained by God and an opportunity to glorify Him.

I'll let you go mingle with all the other party-goer's now. But don't forget to try the delicious desserts on the table - Hawaiian Wedding Cake and Apple Enchiladas. And if you'd like to get a feel for more of what goes on here at The Simple Life at Home, please feel free to click on the sidebar under my "best work" label.

Thanks so much for stopping in! I look forward to getting to know you! Please be sure to leave a comment so I can return the visit.
Thursday, March 6, 2008

Thankful Thursday


I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.

Psalm 119:32

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

For years, actually since the night Hubby proposed to me, I have had to accept that someday God would lead us to live in the Middle East. It was always there, hanging over me. After our first trip to visit Hubby's family, we got on the plane and he declared that he could "never live there again." Not because of his family, of course, but because of the way of life. So I relaxed a little, thinking I had living in American for life in the bag.

Over the years, his family would mention what a great opportunity it would be for him to look for a job in the Middle East. Whenever it came up, I got a knot in my stomach and instantly shot down the idea. It was a source of tension.

But last summer when his friend approached him about a job, I didn't have that same reaction. Instead, I was calm. I encouraged him to find out more about the job and I began to do my own research.

In my mind, this was truly an act of God. For Him to ease my mind about such a huge change is truly a miracle. I've had a sense of peace about it throughout. The hardest thing was telling my parents. My mom and I are exceptionally close and I knew that this would be very hard on her. But I have to give them credit - after the initial shock wore off, they have been very receptive and encouraging. That could just be an act though - LOL!!!

The verse above speaks to exactly how I feel. I am convinced that this move is exactly what God is calling us to do and, instead of being paralyzed by fear or panic, my heart is free and soaring. God has done so many things to smooth the way that I'm certain we are following His will. Those things are what I am so thankful for today.

  • As mentioned above, my parents reaction has been better than I could have ever imagined.
  • God has supported me and I've drawn closer to him during this time apart from Hubby.
  • He has surrounded us with wonderful friends who have been so helpful and supportive during this time.
  • He has provided us with a lovely home in Doha, which we are all excited about.
  • There is a church which Hubby has found that he thinks we will love - this is an extra blessing and source of encouragement for me.
  • All of our properties now have renters.
  • I think things are going to work with regards to bringing our little dog, Snow. This is especially important to my son, who loves her to the ends of the earth.
  • My children's reactions in general have been great. Emily, while not thrilled about the move (she is a 12 year old girl after all!), is ok with it. Daniel is looking forward to his new life. We are all excited about beginning a new life.
  • This past Sunday we had a special speaker at our church. He was an American former pastor in Iran and now works with Iranian refugees around the world. His message was so encouraging to me that I will be able to make a difference just by being myself and letting the light of God shine through me. This is something I had been struggling with, knowing I cannot be as open as I might normally be there with regards to my faith. It was a great encouragement.

Most of the people we tell about our impending move express shock and concern for our safety. They can't believe we would move our children to what they consider to be an unsafe place, even though it truly is a very safe place. I just laugh and know that we are in God's will. He has set my heart free. When you are in God's will, there's no better place to be!!

For more Thankful Thursday participants, be sure to visit Iris at Sting My Heart!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

WFMW - Please help my children!

Edited to add: Sorry, I realize I didn't give my children's ages, which is probably important!! They will turn 13 (girl) and 11 (boy) next month. Thanks!

Hallelujah!!! This is just what I needed - a Works-For-Me-Wednesday Backwards Edition. The chance to beg the internet for help on whatever topic comes to mind. Need to know how to remove exploded eggs from the inside of your microwave? Wondering how to get Sharpie marks off your brand new suede couch? This is the place to find out. God bless Shannon!!!!


My request for help this time around is actually for my kids. You see, three weeks from now we will be moving from this:




to this:







Yes, that's right. We are picking up and moving to Qatar, a tiny peninsula in the Persian Gulf. It's safe and there are large populations of westerners there.

But my children have been born and raised in the same neighborhood and church their entire lives. They are nervous, as am I, about starting all over making friends and settling in. So what I'm looking for are concrete ways to help ease their anxieties about leaving all that they know as well as ways to help them settle into their new home and make friends quickly.

Now, you don't need to have moved to the other side of the world to help. Anyone who has successfully moved far enough away from home (with kids) to be completely starting over is definitely qualified to help.

Thanks in advance!!!
Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Quest

This morning, my children and I embarked on a quest. Our prey?

The elusive Wii.

Now, I know that some of you probably pooh-pooh the existence of the Wii, much as you would the existence of Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. After all, reports of their availability in stores is fleeting and rare, usually ending with the words, "Sorry, we don't have any. Try back next week."

Hubby instigated today's adventure when he informed us that Wii's (how does one pluralize Wii? If I just add an "s", it looks very funny. If I add use an apostrophe, it is neither possessive nor a contraction. Hmm...) cost $600 in Qatar. Knowing that they are significantly less here in the good ol' USA, we decided to purchase one here and give up precious space in our suitcases to bring it with us.

Who needs underwear anyways?

After having called several big box type stores only to be laughed at (Seriously. They laughed.) I gave up and decided to move on with my day. I needed to run to the bank. Right next to the bank was a GameStop. The kids went in and asked if they had a Wii. Of course not. As we went home, there was a Toys R Us, so we decided to just stop in and see if they had it. No.

But it was as if we had suddenly been possessed by Wii fever. The seed was sown and we had to have a Wii. Today.

The kids convinced me to go to another GameStop further south at a mall. They didn't have one, but the clerk happened to be on the phone with another store (of course 10 minutes farther north than where we had started) which had THREE in stock. Three! I begged them to hold one for me for just 20 minutes. He said he couldn't do that, so I'd better hurry. The kids were flying back to the car, dragging me along. Fortunately, we made it and the Wii now sits happily in our home.

Success!!!

Today I am Wonder Woman!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Menu Plan Monday



Time again to think about what we're feeding our families this week. As we only have a little over three weeks before our move to Qatar, I'm hoping to make time to do some fun things with the kids here in town, so we may be out some evenings. I had also promised them each a trip to their favorite restaurant before we go.

Monday - Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, garlic roasted green beans

Tuesday - Beef soup and biscuits

Wednesday - Church! We either eat dinner there or pick up something on the way

Thursday - This might be our night for one child to pick a restaurant - I just hope it's not McDonalds!!

Friday - We are going to a drive-in movie!!! I think this will be lots of fun. It's almost an hour away, but this is a cool thing they might never get to experience otherwise. I guess we'll have dinner from the snack bar.

Saturday - Grilled chicken breasts, spinach salad, and steamed carrots

Sunday - Sandwiches, potato salad and chips

That's our plan for this week. To see more menu plans, be sure to visit The Organizing Junkie where you can find tons of participants in Menu Plan Monday.

Mama Bear Instincts

You know, if someone slights me I don't really get too upset.

But hurt my child and I quake inside from anger.

Our next door neighbors have a son the same age as my child. He's a nice boy, well-mannered. He's over here all the time, to the point that I've joked to Hubby about claiming him on our tax return. Several days a week, several hours each visit. On the other hand, whenever my son wants to go over there, the mom has a headache or is busy cleaning or one of a hundred other reasons. She asks me to keep him quite often when she has appointments or something.

This morning neighbor boy was outside early playing by the lake with a couple of other boys. They were talking about how they were going to go to a local Gameworks later today. My kids thought it was rude that they were talking about it without inviting them, but I smoothed it over. Then this afternoon my kids go outside and figure out that this is neighbor boy's birthday party.

My son had not been invited.

I'm livid. So angry that I'm shaking as I type this. My son is confused and hurt. He considers this boy his best friend. And as we thought back, we realized that neighbor boy had never invited my son for a birthday party the three years we've lived here.

Just yesterday, my daughter took over an invitation to her birthday party. My son would have been delivering one in a few days for his the week after, but now doesn't want to invite him. And to tell you the truth, I'm trying to find a way to rescind the invitation they already got.

I mean, my son is only here for three more weeks. They couldn't have invited him? C'mon. If he's good enough to play with every dang day, he should be good enough to invite to a birthday party. I'm now picturing in my head telling the child the next time he comes to the door that, no, sorry, we're busy, can't play now.

Sorry for ranting. I am a mama bear with a hurt cub right now.
Sunday, March 2, 2008

Sabbath


"One of the great misconceptions about the Sabbath is that church membership exhausts our Sabbath responsibilities, that regular church attendance suffices to establish us as Sabbath people. Actually we often, sometimes unwittingly, carry into church life the anti-Sabbath expectations and dispositions - entertainment, anonymity, consumption, appearance and self-exhibition - that now govern mainstream cultural life. Church, like everyplace else, can become a site of performance, exhaustion, and anxiety as we frantically perform all the tasks, ranging form numerous committee meetings to special programs, that don't fit anywhere else in our schedule. Not surprisingly, we then often do not enter the work week properly humbled, refreshed and inspired by God's life-building ways. We have not shared in God's rest, love, and delight, because we have not really worshipped."


Living the Sabbath
Norman Wirzba
Saturday, March 1, 2008

Ok, I did it!

Thanks to the advice of Tammi, I braved the world of html code and searched for a blog template on my own. I love this one, but being a novice to all this, I have a few questions for those of you who have any understanding.

My nav bar is gone. Like a thief in the night. Does anyone know how to get it back?

All my little widgets are gone. I know I can rebuild these - favorites lists, counter, awards, etc. But it will take me some time to do that. No problem, but is there anyway I could just cut and paste from my old template?

Ok, off to clean the house. I've got a showing at 10. Pray!!!

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