Sunday, August 31, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

First off, let me state that my prayers are with those along the Gulf Coast who are facing an incredibly powerful storm. Please join me in praying for safety, protection and that God will lessen the impact of the storm.

This week, we begin to feel the effects of living in a Muslim country in a way we yet haven't - Ramadan. This month long holy period is a time during which Muslims are called to spend the month trying to get closer to God by means which include the following: fasting from sunrise to sunset, giving extra to charity, and refraining from certain activities. In a country such as Qatar, one that is governed by Islamic law, that means that everyone is expected to abide by these rules, and if you don't, you'd better do it in the privacy of your own home.

That means that no restaurants are open from sunrise to sunset. You may not even drink a sip of water in public. Grocery stores are open, but at unusual time (early in the morning and then closed until after sunset). Basically, nothing is open until after sunset as all are expected to be fasting and spending time in contemplation. We are expected to dress even more modestly than normal.

On the upside, Hubby gets reduced working hours (7:30 - 1:30, as opposed to 6:30 - 4:00), as well as a three day holiday at the end of the Ramadan month. That should be really nice for us, although there won't be anywhere to go during that extra time off!!

All this is to say that the next month I'll have to be super-organized. I'll be needing to feed Hubby lunch with the rest of us (I don't think chicken nuggets are going to cut it!), and manage to do it with a crazy shopping schedule, due to the wierd times things will be open.

Here's my plan for this week:

Monday - Roast Sticky Chicken, Twice Baked Potatoes, Garlic Roasted Green Beans

Tuesday - Lentils and Rice with a lemon dressed salad

Wednesday - Chicken fajitas

Thursday - Pineapple Glazed Meatloaf, noodles in sour cream sauce, broccoli salad

Friday - Mezze (hummous, tabbouleh, kubbeh, pita bread, cheeses, olives, pickles)

Saturday - Baja Beef & Beans and Tex-Mex Rice

Sunday - Chicken Parmesan, garlic bread and caesar salad

That's what we'll be having around here this week. I may actually mix things up and make our main meal be in the afternoon since Hubby will be home so early and then just have either leftovers or sandwiches in the evening. That way, I will have all the cooking out of the way so we can enjoy our time with him while he's home. And, of course, there may be a quite big "to-do" list for him to work on!

Hope you all have a great week! For more great menu ideas, be sure to visit Laura at The Organizing Junkie!

Not Enough Time In Your Day???

All of us have the same amount of time each day - 24 hours. How we use that time often determines the quality of our lives. Here are some tips to make the most of the time you are given in order to have a peaceful and lovely home.

1) Pray - Take some time each morning to come before God and get your "marching orders." Ask Him to guide you as you go through your day. Tell Him your concerns, your plans, and your desires. Then allow Him to determine how your day will go according to His will, not yours. Be willing to accept interruptions that may be opportunities for ministry sent by God. Be willing to be flexible. Be willing to work hard. But most importantly, be in relationship with Him first. (Psalm 127:1 - Unless the Lord builds a house, it's builders labor in vain.)

2) Don't be idle - Work before play!! This is hard for all of us bloggers who love to spend hours in front of our computer, checking in with all our favorites. Or for those of us who get sucked in by television for hours on end. Be it reading a novel, talking on the phone or window shopping, all of these activities serve only to entertain ourselves, not to bless our families. When we operate in this mindset, we may feed ourselves, but we neglect our husbands, children and home. Get busy! If you have things that you know need done, determine to do them before you allow yourself to be mindlessly entertained. Perhaps it would be helpful to set guidelines for yourself, i.e., "I will work on this project for 2 hours before I take a break for myself." Or maybe decide in advance that you won't check your computer or turn on the tv before a set time each day. (Proverbs 31:27 - She looks well to the ways of her householdand does not eat the bread of idleness.)

3) Delegate! - You aren't the only one living in your house, you know. If your children are not helping you out (in an age-appropriate way, of course) then you are making a bigger mistake than you may realize. Not only are you taking on an unnecessary burden, you are depriving your children of the opportunity to learn how to take care of themselves. Too many families I know don't require anything of their children in the house, reasoning that they need to focus on school. Yes, that's true, but at some point these same children will be on their own and it is up to us to train them how to run a home. Laundry, cooking, cleaning - all these things can be learned now so that when the time comes, they will be prepared for their adult life. (Proverbs 22:29 - Do you see a man skillful in his work?He will stand before kings;he will not stand before obscure men.)

4) Declutter and organize - This sounds like it's the result of having more time in your day, not the contributor to having more time. But actually, when your home is already decluttered, clean and organized it's much, much easier to maintain. The problem comes when we are still swamped under all of our "stuff." I heartily recommend Flylady and/or The Grand Plan to help you. I know it can often be an overwhelming process - believe me, I've been there. But the rewards are far greater than you can imagine. The time you invest in this process will pay off in much more free time down the road when everything is easier, simply because the bulk of the work is already done. Once this step is done, it's just maintenance! (1 Cor. 14:40 - But all things should be done decently and in order.)

5) Don't be selfish - This relates somewhat to "don't be idle." Consider the needs of your family before your own. Not to say we should neglect ourselves, but be sure to give your very best to your family. Your family deserves a mom who tends to their needs. You are your husband's only wife and your children's only mother. Only you can meet those needs. (Proverbs 31: 11 - The heart of her husband trusts in her,and he will have no lack of gain.)

6) Plan, plan, plan! - How much time is wasted because we fail to plan. As someone once said, if we fail to plan, we plan to fail. If you don't know what you will be having for dinner, you'll be left with the needless and expensive choices of either eating out or buying impulse purchases on a last minute run to the store. If you don't plan on when to spend time maintaining your home, you will become overwhelmed once it gets out of control. I suggest creating a menu plan and a household chore plan that works for you. These will greatly simplify your life, simply because you can plan ahead and keep things on track.

7) Don't make your work harder - Clean up as you go through your day. Letting pots and pans sit and then trying to clean them is much harder than cleaning them right away. Sort your mail by a garbage can and toss whatever you can, rather than letting junk mail pile up. Wiping up a spill immediately takes just a second - if you wait until it's a sticky mess it will be much harder. The general rule is do something as quickly as you can. It's kind of the same principle as eating your least favorite food first. At least it will be done and you can move on to more pleasant things!

8) Do as much as you can in advance - Again, investing a little time upfront can pay off big time. Prepare what you can for dinner in the morning (slow cookers are great helps, but make the salad, prep vegetables, etc. if you can) so that dinner time, with all the kids rushing around and needing to be driven here and there, will go a little smoother. Iron all your husband's shirts for a week, instead of doing it every morning. Cook double meals so that one can go into the freezer for a busy day.

These are just some tips that I've learned to help me keep my home running smoothly. I've come a long way from the days when I was embarrassed if someone came to my front door. With just a little extra effort, my house is (usually!!) in shape and welcoming, both to visitors and my family.
Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Few Things to Pray About

I try not to do this too often, but once in a while, I find God telling me to call up some more prayer's for something. Here's what's on my heart:

  • Please, please pray for those in the path of Hurricane Gustav. Having lived through Hurricane Andrew myself, I can totally empathize with those who have already been struck by a majorly devastating and deadly storm. And now, it seems as though it may be a catagory 4 storm by the time it arrives. Pray for safe and thorough evacuations and for God to soften the impact of the storm.
  • Please pray for my brother, Sean. He has been diagnosed with osteonecrosis of the ankle, something which will more than likely cripple him for life. He is just barely 25 years old and this diagnosis will more than likely prevent him from following his career dreams of being a professional chef, as he won't be able to stand for long periods of time. He is, understandably, devastated.
  • Please pray for my friend, Melissa. I don't know what exactly is going on, but there is "stuff" going on for her right now and she is struggling. Please ask God to strengthen her, to give her wisdom and to hold her in His hand.

Thanks for your prayers. I appreciate it!

God Lives Under the Bed

(I don't usually pass on email forwards, but this one from my dear friend, Ivis, was too good to pass up. It will make you think about your life, your attitudes and your heart.)

I envy Kevin. My brother Kevin thinks God lives under his bed. At least that's what I heard him say one night.

He was praying out loud in his dark bedroom, and I stopped to listen, 'Are you there, God?' he said. 'Where are you? Oh, I see. Under the bed...' I giggled softly and tiptoed off to my own room. Kevin's unique perspectives are often a source of amusement.

But that night something else lingered long after the humor. I realized for the first time the very different world Kevin lives in.

He was born 30 years ago, mentally disabled as a result of difficulties during labor. Apart from his size (he's 6-foot-2), there are few ways in which he is an adult. He reasons and communicates with the capabilities of a 7-year-old, and he always will. He will probably always believe that God lives under his bed, that Santa Claus is the one who fills the space under our tree every Christmas and that airplanes stay up in the sky because angels carry them.

I remember wondering if Kevin realizes he is different. Is he ever dissatisfied with his monotonous life? Up before dawn each day, off to work at a workshop for the disabled, home to walk our cocker spaniel, return to eat his favorite macaroni-and-cheese for dinner, a and later to bed. The only variation in the entire scheme is laundry, when he hovers excitedly over the washing machine like a mother with her newborn child.

He does not seem dissatisfied. He lopes out to the bus every morning at 7:05, eager for a day of simple work. He wrings his hands excitedly while the water boils on the stove before dinner, and he stays up late twice a week to gather our dirty laundry for his next day's laundry chores.

And Saturdays-oh, the bliss of Saturdays! That's the day my Dad takes Kevin to the airport to have a soft drink, watch the planes land, and speculate loudly on the destination of each passenger inside. 'That one's goin' to Chi-car-go!' Kevin shouts as he claps his hands. His anticipation is so great he can hardly sleep on Friday nights.

And so goes his world of daily rituals and weekend field trips. He doesn't know what it means to be discontent. His life is simple. He will never know the entanglements of wealth of power, and he does not care what brand of clothing he wears or what kind of food he eats. His needs have always been met, and he never worries that one day they may not be.

His hands are diligent. Kevin is never so happy as when he is working. When he unloads the dishwasher or vacuums the carpet, his heart is completely in it. He does not shrink from a job when it is begun, and he does not leave a job until it is finished. But when his tasks are done, Kevin knows how to relax. He is not obsessed with his work or the work of others.

His heart is pure. He still believes everyone tells the truth, promises must be kept, and when you are wrong, you apologize instead of argue. Free from pride and unconcerned with appearances, Kevin is not afraid to cry when he is hurt, angry or sorry. He is always transparent, always sincere.

And he trusts God. Not confined by intellectual reasoning, when he comes to Christ, he comes as a child. Kevin seems to know God - to really be friends with Him in a way that is difficult for an 'educated' person to grasp. God seems like his closest companion.

In my moments of doubt and frustrations with my Christianity I envy the security Kevin has in his simple faith. It is then that I am most willing to admit that he has some divine knowledge that rises above my mortal questions.

It is then I realize that perhaps he is not the one with the handicap. I am. My obligations, my fear, my pride, my circumstances - they all become disabilities when I do not trust them to God's care. Who knows if Kevin comprehends things I can never learn? After all, he has spent his whole life in that kind of innocence, praying after dark and soaking up the goodness and love of God.

And one day, when the mysteries of heaven are opened, and we are all amazed at how close God really is to our hearts, I'll realize that God heard the simple prayers of a boy who believed that God lived under his bed. Kevin won't be surprised at all!
Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thankful Thursday

God is good, isn't He?

As many of our lives begin to fall back into a school-year routine, we can breathe a sigh of relief. I don't know about you, but I know that summer is a crazy time for me. Not just because my kids are home with me all day (that's the norm in a homeschooling family), but because there is no routine. And as much as I like to think of myself as a free spirt, I definitely thrive under routine.

It's a sign of God's infinite wisdom that we have seasons - not just in nature, but in our lives. We all need periods of "winter" when we just seem dormant, but in reality there is deep work going on in our lives. It's often in the lowest parts of our lives that God teaches us the most.

And then, miraculously, "spring" comes again, full of life and brightness. What once appeared dead now reveals itself to be gloriously alive and beautiful.

Today I have so much to be thankful for:

  • I'm thankful for good friends who encourage me and challenge me
  • I'm thankful for being back at our church and for those who share the Word of God there
  • I'm thankful that God has led me back to my routines and an orderly home
  • I'm thankful that my kids are happy
  • I'm thankful that God is in charge of my kids' education, not me
  • I'm thankful that my new electric stove is coming tonight
  • I'm thankful for my beautiful house which God has charged me with making into a home
  • I'm thankful for my husband, who is wise beyond his years
  • I'm thankful for my extended family - crazy as they are, they are mine and I love them

What are you thankful for this week? Take some time to think about it. If you are stuck for ideas, be sure to visit some of the other Thankful Thursday participants - you'll be amazed to realize how blessed you are as well.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Home Maintenance Routines

Last June I shared with you my daily cleaning routines. I think that having a plan is the first step in regaining and then maintaining control of your home, especially for those of us who are, by nature, not Martha Stewart wannabes.

I've updated my routines a little bit and wanted to commit to them here on the blog. Often, just the act of letting someone else in on my plans makes me feel more accountable to follow through with them. Here is my new schedule for keeping our home a place of order:

~Saturday~ Loft, living room, spend one hour on a special project to beautify the home

~Sunday~ Off

~Monday~ Master bedroom and bathroom, guest bedroom and bathroom

~Tuesday~ Laundry room and Daniel's room

~Wednesday~ Kitchen and family room

~Thursday~ Grocery shoppping, any necessary errands

~Friday~ Off

A few notes:

During each day, I have time set aside for "focus cleaning," by which I mean cleaning the area designated for that day. That includes everything that needs to be done in that room: dusting, vacuuming, changing bed linens, straightening up, etc. I used to have a "weekly home blessing" time (which included all those things above) budgeted in (a la Flylady) but decided that, for me, it's easier to break it down into smaller chunks rather than try to do it all at once.

Also, in the previous post I included a "weekly yard blessing" time, but as I explain below, that's no longer necessary.

I've been very blessed that my husband has hired someone to come in and do the work outside of the house, as well as vacuum and mop for me once a week. Honestly, the man spent 3 hours just doing my floors this week, so this is a huge burden off me and I'm so grateful. Now, before any jealousy sets in, remember where I'm living. Services are VERY inexpensive here - I paid the man the equivalent of $18 for over 5 hours of work. I would never have indulged in this back in the States, but the man needs the work and I need the help.

And the final note is one that I'm very proud to share with you. On my previous schedule, one of the days included cleaning Emily's bedroom and bathroom. Since moving here, she has taken such good care of her room. She always keeps it so nice and neat and is enjoying decorating and re-decorating it herself. I'm proud that she is proving to be a mature and responsible young lady, who no longer needs to be told to clean her room. Whoo-hoo!! They do get to that point, ladies!!

If you haven't yet sat down and made a plan for keeping your home organized, and you feel as though you are always behind, give it a shot. Just having a goal for the day, something manageable, will motivate you to get it checked off your list. And before you know it, your home will begin to take shape and be a refuge for you and your family.

WFMW - No More Soggy Sandwiches!

Now that school is starting back up, there are plenty of us moms who will be packing lunches for our kids and that often means sandwiches.

Even though I homeschool, I often make sandwiches for my husband to take to work for his lunch. A couple of years ago, I was trying to think of a way to make sure his lunch was still yummy at lunch time. I had memories of opening my own lunchbox as a child and finding two slices of bread, with a slice of bologna between them. The worst part? One slice of bread was soaked with ketchup and was mushy and soggy and, well, disgusting.

(We won't discuss here the culinary talents of my mother, who made this bologna and ketchup sandwich. Suffice it to say that Julia Child had nothing to worry about.)

So one day, during my sandwich making process, instead of slathering the mayo onto one piece of bread, I decided to put the mayonaise and mustard and anything else that was "wet" directly onto the sandwich meat and place a leaf of lettuce in between the wet ingredients and the dry bread. Eureka!!

Now, I know, this is totally simple. But if you haven't ever thought about it, give it a try. My husband is always complimenting my sandwiches to the guys at work and they have even asked for me to make some to send along for them. I am now "the Sandwich Queen."

For other simple, but also simply brilliant ideas, hop on over to Rocks in My Dryer, the home of Works for Me Wednesday!
Monday, August 25, 2008

The Upside of Living in Qatar

You know, I realize I've been giving Qatar a bad rap lately. I haven't been sharing with you all the joys of living here. Like this...


. Wait for it...

Where else will you find the front page story (above the fold, mind you) centering on the road works department's need for building camel crossings?

Good times, good times...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Sorry for the double post! I forgot that it was Monday and time for menu planning. Please take a look at the post below - I think it's an important message that many of us need to hear.

Now, on to the menu planning. Since I haven't pulled out my organizer and gotten back to my 8 week menu plan, this week I'm just kind of winging it. Top priority this week - saving money! We've got several expenses coming up that we hadn't planned on: registration for the kids' schooling, a trip to Lebanon for my brother-in-law's wedding (that's right, he didn't get married while we were in Jordan. I'm just a tiny bit annoyed that we all need to spend the extra money to go back over there just a month later because they couldn't make up their minds!), a new ELECTRIC stove (my wonderful Hubby has taken pity on me and my burned and scarred hands - not to mention that everything I've cooked since we have moved in is either burned or undercooked) and I know there's more coming up.

So this week, we are eating from the pantry as much as possible and for those meals which I do need to buy things for, I'm going for inexpensive, but still nutritious.

Monday - Both kids will be away, so Hubby and I will go out for some cheap Arabic food for a date. Whoo-hoo!!!

Tuesday - Tostadas

Wednesday - Corn chowder and biscuits

Thursday - Mezze (an Arabic version of tapas - kubbeh, tabbouleh, cheese, bread, olives, etc.)

Friday - Lentils and rice with a lemon dressed salad

Saturday - Cobb Salad

Sunday - Spaghetti, garlic bread, caesar salad

All of these dishes are fairly inexpensive, so I'm hoping to get out of the grocery store for half our normal bill. Every bit helps, right?

For other ideas in your menu planning, be sure to stop by The Organizing Junkie and check out all the Menu Plan Monday participants!

Anyone Have Some Salt?

See that slug there? That's me. I've been being a slug for a while now. All my planning and scheduling has been out the window. I have clothes that have not been put away for a week sitting on a chair in my room. Spots on my floor that I'm choosing to ignore rather than wipe up. Kids who are spending their days in front of electronic screens of one sort or the other.

I've been sleeping until 9 or so every day. That's probably because I've been staying up wasting time foolishly until 2 am almost every night. I've been drinking soda left and right (which is surely contributing to my late nights). Today is the first time I've been to the gym. Well, that's not actually correct. I went earlier in the week, walked on the treadmill for 15 minutes and left. I spent more time getting there and back than I did using the gym!

In short, I've been wasting my life.

Yesterday I was flipping through the channels and stopped on Oprah. Now, I am not an Oprah fan. I don't agree with a lot of what she promotes on her show. But once in a while, like when Dr. Oz is on, I will stop and watch. Yesterday was one of those days.

The theme of the day was "heroes." When I turned to the show, Amy Hawkins was on. I hadn't heard her story before, but I was mesmerized by her. Amy's Tennessee home was hit by an F3 tornado, during which she used her own body as a shield to save her two young sons. As her home was destroyed around them, the three were innundated under a pile of bricks. Amy's spine was crushed and she ended up paralyzed from the waist down.

More than the fact that she sacrificed herself to save her children, which I believe most mothers would do, is her determination to live a normal life and not allow this to affect her family.

I've been struggling lately with making the adjustment to living in Qatar. Everything just seems so much harder than it was in the States. Small annoyances add up to make me feel as though I have given up so much. Resentment has started to set in and it's manifesting itself in my laziness and selfishness.

But when I compare my situation to that of Amy Hawkins, I realize that I am being selfish and immature. It's time I got back into the swing of things and make my life, and my family's life, joyful and normal and orderly and beautiful.

We determine our attitude - and I'm tired of feeling sorry for myself. So excuse me now. It's 11:00 p.m. here and I'm off to bed. Tomorrow we will start school and I will get out my household organizer and get back on track.

Thanks for the inspiration, Amy.

That's My King! I Wonder - Do You Know Him?

Friday, August 22, 2008

What We'll Be Doing For School This Year

Well, as I mentioned earlier in the week, this subject of what we'll be doing for school this year has definitely been the hardest ever in our homeschooling lives.

Having moved across the ocean has given us pause to think about why we homeschool and whether or not, at this point, it's the most beneficial thing for our kids. In the end, Hubby and I agreed to apply to the school here which he most liked, and allow God to make the decision as to whether or not they got in.

They didn't get in. (Please note: If your screen is shaking a little bit, that's me doing the happy dance, jumping around like a fool in the background. No pictures, please.)

So, all summer I have been planning on having them transition this year to an online school, in the event that they do go to a traditional school next year. This would give them the chance to get used to working with other teachers, other people's expectations, etc.

The school I was interested I in ended up having some concerns about, so I spent Monday night and Tuesday in a tizzy. We looked at some other schools here in town, but they are all filled with extensive waiting lists. I considered ordering Sonlight again, but didn't feel right about it. This past year and a half have really been a struggle for my kids. I LOVE the curriculum, but it hasn't been a good fit for them lately. I looked at the online school K-12, but it's cost is pretty steep for us.

In the end, I found another online school Keystone National Middle School. It seems to be a good fit for what we are looking for. The classes are appropriate for where my kids are, the cost isn't too bad (though I'm still hoping Hubby's company will help pay for it, in lieu of paying 5x as much in tuition at a local private school which is in his contract), and it seems to be reputable.

If you know something bad about it, just don't tell me ok? I don't want to have to go through this all over again. Sometimes ignorance is bliss, ya know?

In addition to the basic curriculum from Keystone, we'll also be doing our Rosetta Stone Arabic (I'm more convinced now about our need for this since those mean cousins were talking about my kids in Arabic!), signing up for progressing towards the kids getting black belts, Emily will be continuing in her piano lessons and Daniel would like to begin guitar.

Whew! That's what we'll be doing this year. What about you?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Thankful Thursday

I haven't been able to participate in Thankful Thursday for a month now and am I ever so glad to get back to it! Taking this time, even just once a week, to stop and really think of all I have to be thankful to my God for, is so beneficial.

Besides the fact that we are commanded to be thankful, it's good for your spirit. It helps put things in perspective. It reminds me that I do, indeed, have an excellent life. Sometimes we allow all the little annoyances to overwhelm us and we forget that, don't we?

  • I'm thankful to be home in Doha. Our time in Jordan was pretty hard, so being back in my own house is delightful.
  • I'm thankful that I consider this home. After just shy of 5 months in Qatar, I feel we are settling in and making a life here.
  • I'm thankful that I have a wonderful husband. His strength was so evident during our trip to Jordan. The entire family (no exaggeration) relied upon his wisdom, strength and calm during our trip.
  • I'm thankful for two wonderful children.
  • I'm thankful for my parents, both of whom celebrated birthdays this week!
  • I'm thankful that my uncle is doing well in his recovery from cancer.
  • I'm thankful for my God, who loves me no matter how cranky, how lazy, how ungrateful I am.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Creative Counterpart Book Study

Now that I've had a chance to settle back in, I want to remind everyone that I'll be starting an online study of the book "Creative Counterpart" by Linda Dillow next month. This book has been so helpful to me as I have sought to become a better wife to my husband, a better mom to my kids, a better homemaker and a better woman of God.

We'll begin on September 9th, just to give everyone a chance to get their kids back into school, settle into a bit of a routine and pick up the book if you don't have it.

I don't have the know-how to do a cute little button, but it would be great if you want to participate to let others know about it. The more the merrier!! I think it's so helpful to have a lot of different people participate and hear others ideas and thoughts.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Some Very Kind Friends With Some Very Kind Words

Back at the end of last month while I was away, two very sweet women awarded me with the Brilliante Weblog award.

Mylinda said this: Lori at The Simple Life at Home, who is a friend IRL. She's recently moved oh so far away to Qatar and I miss her very much, but love to keep in touch via email and blogs. She's also very encouraging and seems to be finding a ministry right on her blog to many. I'm glad we've stayed friends!

Misty had this to say: Lori at Simple life at Home: What to say? I can't wait to be you when I grow up? Ok, besides that sounding bad and like you might be old or something, I just think you are so wise and relevant in your writing. I always look forward to reading.

I'm grateful to both of them for their kind words and their friendship. And, just for the record, Misty, I'm young. Extremely young. Would you believe me if I said I was only 24? (I'm not actually saying that (it might be considered a tiny little fitb), I'm just wondering if you'd believe it.)

Now it's my honor to get to bestow this award to some other bloggers who I think are simply, well, brilliant. To be honest, I kind of hate doing this because there are so many wonderful blogs out there that I love to read, so I'm carefully choosing ones that really minister to me and help me to grow as a Christian and as a woman.

First up is Anya of Sanctuary Moment. Not only is her writing beautiful and powerful, she always makes me so thankful for my relationship with Christ. Her blog is like sitting at the feet of a very wise Bible teacher who makes the Word just come alive in a way that relates to me as a wife and mother.

Juliet of Not The Same is chronicling her efforts to change her life and be more Christlike in 2008. I find myself often nodding my head as I read of her challenges and successes.

Jess of Mourning Into Dancing is so open and so...raw...with her writing. Her desire to be in love with Christ first and foremost is so challenging to me. It reminds me of where I want to be in my walk with God.

I know that I was supposed to name more people, but if I start naming all the friends whose blogs I love to read, then surely I will leave someone out and hurt some feelings. But the three above really challenge me and teach me. But there are so many awesome women out there (many of them on my blogroll to the right) that I encourage you to check out.

Thanks again to Mylinda and Misty. I'm honored by your kind words.

What To Do, What To Do???

As I've mentioned in the past (here and here), we have struggled with whether or not to continue homeschooling here in Doha. In the end, we decided that we would enroll the kids in an online school for this year and attempt to move them into a traditional school next year.

Well, there's a snag. (Isn't there always?)

After trying to get information to enroll the kids in said online school, things started to seem a little fishy. Curious, I did a little more research and didn't like what I saw. The "school" is owned by a woman who has a history of lawsuits and who also has many other schools which she runs - all offering the exact same curriculum, but under many different names and price schemes. Like 20 different names. After reading through some parent reviews, I was concerned enough to decide (at 2 am last night) that this wasn't where I wanted to put my children.

Which leaves me in a dilemma. School should be starting in a week or two and I have no curriculum. I mean, I could work for a little bit (a month or so) with what we have.

I'm not finding any other online school that I like. Most offer a set curriculum for each grade level (as opposed to letting the parent design the coursework). Some seem to be too easy for what my kids have been doing. Others are just too darn expensive.

I investigated returning to using Sonlight, which we have used successfully for the past four years. But I still have concerns over whether it's what is best for my kids now (the last year or two have found me begging them to read their books). On top of that, to ship the books here to Qatar the charges would be close to $400!!!!

So now I'm spending the morning with a knot in my stomach and a cloud over my head. If anyone has any great ideas, let me know. I'm open to just about anything at this point.
Monday, August 18, 2008

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jog

Well we made it home from Jordan!!!


Honestly, it was a pretty rough time. My kids and some of their cousins struggled to get along, resulting in a pretty upset me. I won't comment on the whole problem, but it was painful for my kids to be so hurt.

Hubby's Greek Orthodox priest uncle decided to lay into Emily for wearing jeans with the knees ripped out, actually telling her that "This is not what Christians wear." Coming from a man whom his family dreads seeing him he's so mean and selfish, I let him talk until he brought her to tears and then I had had enough. I told him that she feeds the homeless, cleans for widows, babysits for free for single moms and those she sees that need a break. I maybe-not-so-gently pointed out that his way of thinking was just like those of the Pharisees, worrying only about what's on the outside, not what is going on in the heart. I know that I offended him, but I had just about had enough of the way he treats everyone in the family (who won't dare cross him because he's a priest). Let him blame me - I'm American and not held to the same cultural standards. Everyone was cheering me on after he left!

We didn't do anything I wanted to do - no trip to the Dead Sea, no visit to Jesus' baptism site, no seeing the recently discovered "first" church, nada. Well, we did tour King Hussein's car museum. Whoo-hoo!! And the kids and Hubby went to Jerash, where you can see the ruins of an ancient Roman town. They acutally had a good time. Unfortunately, I had a stomach bug that day and didn't go.

Our trip was consumed with where we would eat and who would cook. Breakfast was at 9:30-ish, after which we began preparing lunch (the big meal of the day) to be served at 3. Then we would clean up from that and begin arguing about where to spend the evening and who would provide what food. Finally we'd eat around 9. Kids would go to bed around 12:30 or 1 am. Yikes!! Back to a regular schedule this week for sure!!!

And sadly, Hubby's brother didn't follow through on the wedding plans. No one is really sure what is going one, but now they are saying they will get married at the end of Ramadan. Over in this part of the world, that means a three day vacation. I'm not getting my hopes up though. Neither of them seem too interested in actually doing anything about it - like booking a church, or obtaining a marriage license or anything like that. Whatever!

On to jumping back into real life - menu planning!!!

Oh, how I have missed Menu Plan Monday this past month! Not to mention my kids, who are...shall we say "DONE!!!" with Arabic food?? I have specific requests not to make anything Arabic for at least a month. So here's my plan (and bear with me, I've only gotten through Friday - there's nothing in the house. We got in at 10 last night and it's only 8 am here.)

Monday - Roasted Chicken and Potatoes (cooked by Chef Emily!)

Tuesday - Tacos

Wednesday - Chicken and Onions with Creamy Wine Sauce

Thursday - Homemade Pizza and Salad

Friday - Beef Shish Kebabs (shhhh!! technically this is Arabic, but the kids don't know that!)

And now, back to adjusting to life in Doha, Qatar. When we arrived last night at 10, it was 98 degrees and, oh, about 742 percent humidity. Emily just kept saying, "Ew, ew, ew, ew!!) as we walked to the car! LOL! Hopefully everyone else is coming back into town about this time as well and we can resume the whole "friend-making" process.

I'll be working later today and tomorrow on catching up on everyone's blogs - there's seven huge suitcases staring me in the face right now that need unpacked. :::sigh:::
Monday, August 4, 2008

Ok, I'm Ready to Go Home Now

It's been great; it really has.  But I'm ready to go back to my home in Doha and live our quiet little life.

I'm the kind of girl who needs a little "me" time.  KWIM?  Not to do anything special, but just time to be alone and recuperate.  That's not happening here.  With such a big family - 20 when everyone is around - you are never alone.  Everything is decided by committee, requiring innumerable phone calls back and forth.  

We aren't seeing anything interesting because we spend our entire days negotiating who is cooking and where they are cooking it.  It's what life revolves around in this family, I swear!

Then when you add on the majority of conversations are in Arabic, well, it's kind of worn on me now.

Being with family is great, but one month is way too long to stay with your in-laws, I guess.  My ever wise Hubby, who is now here with us, encourages me to remember that I am salt and light here to his family.  Keeping the right perspective helps.

I'll be back in Doha on the 17th and will be back to a regular posting schedule.  


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