Thursday, June 28, 2012

the summer of the E fam gypsies

ok, so I suppose that is un-PC of me to say but whatever.  It is so true.  We are roaming folks siku hizi (these days) and I have been terrible about updating which is ironic since in the land of 45 minute upload times I was much more faithful to post.  Alas, I stink (I am trying to remove the word suck from my vocab since I DO NOT want to hear it come out of one of my children’s mouths but sometimes (let's be honest) that or a good swear word is just in order).  But in my defense, seriously we never are in one place for more than 4 days….sorta how we roll these days so if I have not returned an email, phone call, or text please know I am a space cadet and focusing my energies on keeping track of my kids and unpacking and repacking every few days.  I have already forgotten to pack MY chupis twice ( FYI washing in the sink works- I know TMI).  That and my new 'smart phone' only serves to make me feel stupid!  So I am sorry and I love you and will get back to you soon!

So some updates in no particular logical order (it is me remember)....
VBS Wheaton, Grandma's Memorial, Ace's Bday 110.jpgedit
The girls and I spent last week in the burbs with my mom going to Costco way more than is necessary and taking Miss Anni to her first ever VBS.  She pretty much loved it; daily crafts winning out by far as the highlight.  She clinched her “weird kid from Africa” status when her teacher told me the story of sharing time when they were discussing how God is with us everywhere, even when we are scared.  Other kids shared about going to the dentist, not being able to find their Mom in a store, or hearing a storm.  Well Miss A raised her hand and shared that she was scared when her Papa prayed for a demon possessed man and when she was electrocuted.  Whoah.  Seriously, I would have paid to see the look on the other kids faces.   I guess her input required some discussion but I am glad she felt comfortable sharing (she still says to me at least once a day “Mama, Jesus gives me friends here AND they speak English!”) I know right!

We also got to meet up with some of Jason's cousins wives and their kids at a little zoo.
VBS Wheaton, Grandma's Memorial, Ace's Bday 032.jpgedit
second cousin or cousin once removed?? (really not sure how that all works??) love
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And this homeboy was seriously stalking me and almost made me pee my pants...all because I made one comment about his teeth.....Llamas can be so sensitive (I feel you).  But can I just get an Amen for all the Mama's holding it down and being honest!  It was refreshing to hang out with these ladies.
VBS Wheaton, Grandma's Memorial, Ace's Bday 037.jpgedit
have I mentioned the girls are enjoying trying all things "American?" and since we like to live dangerously we even ate these with no wet wipes on hand.

The girls and I also got together with a dear family whom we consider covenant friends.  We have known that they pretty much rule for some time but when she showed up to pick us up and had hot dogs in her console for the brood of hungry watoto it made me realize why she is indeed a soul sister!
VBS Wheaton, Grandma's Memorial, Ace's Bday 042.jpgedit
 They let us tag along on an enormous suburban pool outing and this was BIG people... especially after one little BIG girl got all brave on us and laid the smack down on not one but all of the super duper big kid slides!
VBS Wheaton, Grandma's Memorial, Ace's Bday 046.jpgedit
 We came, our friends overpaid, and they conquered!
VBS Wheaton, Grandma's Memorial, Ace's Bday 057.jpgedit
and hitting up the DQ after all that sun.
*We got a call just a few days back that this dear friend and her two kids were in a pretty bad car crash.  We are praising God with them that they are fine, bruised and battered a bit, but healing.  We have a good God and we are rejoicing He chose to allow them more time on earth with us. Please pray for their complete healing!

J also decided to keep everything interesting by getting 2 impassable stones is his kidney!  So those adventures mean I am typing this from a hospital waiting room while poor guy has a procedure to break them up while rockstar friend Beck is kid wrangling for us.  One of the stones was 13 mm and after signing that we acknowledge the procedure would cost 23,800 dollars we both wondered if maybe we should just hightail it outta here and I should punch in in the back like 200 times.  Oh well, we'll go the medical route and I gotta say I am enjoying me some free AC (well, I guess it is NOT free!).
VBS Wheaton, Grandma's Memorial, Ace's Bday 342.jpgedit
My grandmother’s memorial was this past weekend up at my parent’s place in Lake Geneva.  It was beautiful and difficult and weepy and special.  We saw some family we have not seen in years which was both odd and fabulous all at the same time.
VBS Wheaton, Grandma's Memorial, Ace's Bday 344.jpgedit
It was a celebration of a beautiful woman and it really hit me that I will not see her again on this earth.  More on that soon but we were so blessed everyone waited for us to return to be a part of the service.

What else? Oh, it is HOT! I love it although the car we are borrowing has no A/C so the heat combined with Chicago traffic meant we arrived at the hospital 10 minutes late (still working on the whole 'being on time in America' thing) and sweating profusely (like we are taking crazy boo-tay sweat; something I have not felt since Tanzania but for the record DO NOT miss).  But thank you Jesus we could borrow a car! And we giggle a bit that normal island weather means headline news and everyone freaking out in Chicago. Drink some water and go to Target people; there is AC everywhere! Stop whining! Ok, rant over.

And finally, YES, we are feeling “culture shock” or "re-entry shock" or whatever the heck it is called.  At least I think we are.  Trouble is you can name something but it still doesn’t mean that makes it easier to negotiate.  And I think people expect us to be "over it." And the thing that is complicating all of this is that we really do not want to just continue on with life as usual, carving out our slice of the American dream because it is no longer what we want for our lives or our family.  So Jason and I are trying to figure out what it means to live here again.  It is rough.  For a lot of reasons.  Mostly because we are allowing the chaos we feel inside to spill out onto each other in messy, hurtful ways.  We are sinners y'all.  We need some grace and unity and a lot of communication about all this.

And it is tough honestly because a lot of folks don’t really care so much about our time in Africa.  Fair enough. I don’t care immensely and deeply about what is important to a lot of people so I by no means think I am more enlightened.  How can people care, I mean really care, about something they have never been touched by? I knew this would be true but the experiences of the last four years have changed me so much that I really am not going to “get over it.”  I feel like the world expects us to “settle back in” and become who we were before we left.  I guess I have realized that is not possible.  Nor, honestly, do I want that to happen but how to explain that without being rude, offensive, or just plain weird.  Really, it is never my intention and I have no insight as of yet on how to better 'do some 'splaining.'  How do we explain everything in under two sentence the average person can stomach at a party?  I haven't figured it out.  All I do know is I am changed but if anything I am more humbled; more sure of how imperfect I am and more certain in the perfection and Might of God.  More certain I cannot do anything apart from His Spirit at work within me.  And more sure I want and need more of that every day in my life.  We still do not know exactly what we will be “doing” here but we are trying to listen and discern what is next.  It is hard and many days recently we spend more time frustrating and stressing to each other than trusting but we know that as we seek to acknowledge Him in everything He will make our path straight.
Not easy but straight.
It is hard to know what is next but I have no vested interest in figuring it all out because I know I would just force it and screw it all up (it is sorta a gift I have). So I think in the mean time we wait, pray, listen, try to work on loving more. I think when God is in the process of revealing a plan in our lives, it starts to illuminate gradually, like a dark sunrise seemingly beginning from nothing but in reality crafted from God’s unseen but trustworthy hands.  Right now I am trying with everything in me to trust the unfolding….
So, not sure when or where I will next update from and not even promising that I will have any further insight but I am trusting in the One who has better plans for my life than I could imagine,
one of the E fam gypsies

Sunday, June 17, 2012

the city.

So the date was awesome.  At least that is what one little girl screeched at me when Evy and I took the El to crash in on them for a family picnic and general frolicking at Millenium Park.
mill park date and fam time downtown 003.jpgedit
date crashers head out on Evy's first El ride..
mill park date and fam time downtown 008.jpgedit
Anni did not believe there was a giant silver bean....
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We set her straight right away....
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Check out the Americans in America...I know weird right?
mill park date and fam time downtown 054.jpgedit
we quickly moved on to the merriment and happy chaos at the spitting fountains...
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mill park date and fam time downtown 116.jpgedit
we waited a long while for a train (darn Cubs game) but the girls thought the live entertainment was pretty much coolness defined
mill park date and fam time downtown 100.jpgedit
Happy Father's Day to my husband, my best friend, and a Papa that allows my girls to understand more about just how much their heavenly Father loves them. I love you J.

Oh and if I haven't mentioned it:  I love this city (ask me again in January though).

Friday, June 15, 2012

another girl

My husband is currently on a date with another girl.  And watching them plan, get excited, talk through how they are going to "walk on the ledge at the Sears Tower" (I know, I know but it will always be the Sears to me), and get dressed up was enough to make this Mama swoon.  In Africa when we would talk about coming back to America and Anni would cry and cry J promised a special date to the Sears Tower to show her our beautiful city.  And she has asked when they could go everyday since we got back.
Today is the day!  Annikah wrote about their plans in her summer adventure book and J even went out and knocked at the door to pick up his date.
date with papa
Her face said it all; a father who treats you like a little lady and adores you speaks to your soul. I cannot wait to hear all about it.....

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

a road trip with the girls.....and Babu (sorry Babu)

Our early arrival meant we weaseled an invite to join my family (sans my bro- pole!) on a road trip to Michigan.  We left J behind to do important things like move our stuff and figure out if we have medical insurance so with Auntie Katy in too Babu was way outnumbered. We loaded up and hit the road......and I mean we really hit the road......7 hours in one day and for 2 girls that can circle our entire island in about 1 1/2 hours that was a LONG car ride.
trip to Michigan, macinac island 080.jpgedit
luckily Bibi brought plenty of American snacks
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and the place we stayed was a beautiful massive resort log cabin or "a huge house made of sticks" as Anni pointed out. And it had Jacuzzi tubs in every suite...Holla!
trip to Michigan, macinac island 100.jpgedit
cool weather and lots of trees... the good life!
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the property is thousands of acres and we did plenty of deer watching stalking... some of us were a little more passionate about it then others..
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of course we were good little tourists and hit the town for some window shopping and fudge tasting
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check out my mom in the window..she is so cute.
trip to Michigan, macinac island 148.jpgedit
On the last day we took the ferry over to Macinac Island for some touristy fun. And the fast 20 minute on time ferry is much preferred the the puke boat thank you very much.
trip to Michigan, macinac island 317.jpgedit
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Babu treated us ladies to a horse and carriage ride and the anticipation almost killed them
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we ladies dig big sunglasses
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they even had a butterfly habitat
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I love these pigtails
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the weather was divine and the tour made this history nerd very giddy
trip to Michigan, macinac island 238.jpgedit
beautiful part of God's creation
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fam time
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The island has no cars at all..only bikes and horses so I just had to rent a bike and take the girls along the water (beats shopping any day!)
trip to Michigan, macinac island 268.jpgedit
they laughed and chanted "Nenda Mama, go Mama go" the entire 6 miles...seriously. I think they liked it.
trip to Michigan, macinac island 288.jpgedit
plus we stopped to build a little rock pile because apparently that is what 'cool people' do there...and we always want to be cool.......see....
trip to Michigan, macinac island 290.jpgedit
Anni built it six high because "that is how old I almost am and cause I can't find anymore little ones"
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and after all that bike riding  being pulled by me the girls had to recharge with a shake....
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but shakes made with real ice cream are really good.
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and then we boarded the ferry to head back.  And Miss Evy was heard saying "No me nap Mama!" just five minutes before this picture was taken.....
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liar.liar...pants on fire....
trip to Michigan, macinac island 322.jpgedit
My Mom and Dad with the Grand hotel in the background.  They stayed there for their honeymoon way back when milk was 5 cents and gas :) I love you and thank you for the great weekend!  Two little girls want to know when we can go back,

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

updates from somewhere we now live...sort of...

We are now in Chicago.  And I am stating that as much for myself as for you all.  It has been a wild few weeks. But for now we are back in the city; our city, again, but I swear I am wandering around more like a tourist most days because A.) I got turned around and walked 4 blocks in the wrong direction B.) seriously shocking how little clothing people wear here and C.) a lot has changed in 4 years (and a lot has stayed the same).  More on that and other cultural re-entry misadventures later for sure like; for example, lessons learned by my kids on the Clark street bus.  For now here are some updates from the awesome and free (yeah!) 3rd floor apartment where I may or may not be stealing borrowing internet from the nice folks downstairs until we figure all these fancy 'living in the US' things out.

One of our first stops: Goodwill.  And we heart goodwill. seriously awesome.
lake geneva, good will 043.jpgedit
 A cart full of fabulous-ness and a $4.99 replacement bike for Anni for super cheap!
lake geneva, girls day in wisc 001.jpgedit
Plus we made good on our promise of jeans for the girls.  Cute no?
lake geneva, good will 009.jpgedit
with spent a week in Lake Geneva and some friends came up for a day trip (which despite little man's face was really fun although the pic of me and Jess just was too shiny and chin-y to post)
new one
we made time for important things like ....driving the boat with Babu
lake geneva, girls day in wisc 065.jpgedit
and art projects with Bibi
trip to Michigan, macinac island 017.jpgedit
Then we moved our junk (and I do mean junk...why did we save half this stuff four years ago?) into our apartment for now. We had lots of help and Bibi & Babu even drove out from Iowa!
But I think Bibi mostly loved the park runs with the girls. Family is blessing and the girls are loving seeing both their Bibis' & Babus'......they are soaking up the attention!
Major bonus: story time AND they cleaned and organized more than we would have in a week!
and unpacking, sorting, and re-setting up a home is making me do crazy things like this.....
trip to Michigan, macinac island 063
After a couple days I kinda like it...I say make it work (Yeah, Tim Gunn rules)
trip to Michigan, macinac island 040.jpgedit
and it is amazing how generous people have been to our family! The girls have been "freezing" (Anni even asked me "Mama, what are these dots on my skin?" "Umm, those are goose bumps kiddo." My kids are African what can we say?) .They could not resist trying on their new winter coats. Thanks to everyone who donated to our long skirt wearing, faded, and ripped clothes selves. We are grateful.
trip to Michigan, macinac island 331
we are pretty much making it our full time job to check out every park within walking or biking distance...anyone wanna join us?
berries 003.jpgedit
bought at the farmer's market a block away today (the berries not the kid).......oh how we missed you sweet berry yumminess!
trip to Michigan, macinac island 072.jpgedit
and I leave you with the picture (yikes!) that finally made me cave and stop using the girl's no tangle coconut shampoo and buy some actual hair product.  It has been a long time folks.

Also, both girls have seen the doctor again and despite their complete mess and loose cannon of a mother (who LOST the doctors records and CT scan of Anni's head and test results that were carefully carried all the way from Tanzania only to be left in either the first doctor's office OR a Chipotle (I blame the zen feeling caused by the guacamole) OR a park...alas they are no more) they are both healing and having a blast figuring out what it means to be an American kid.  And I am having fun watching.