Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Winter List 2015

I know this sounds ridiculous, but with Christmas almost here I start to get a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I know I must now endure January, February, and March.  I honestly think that if I did not have to stand out in the cold each and every day it is above the freezing mark (if it's below freezing we stay inside) for recess duty these months might be more tolerable. Call me dramatic, if you will, but it is seriously a hardship.
So.... drum roll please... bring on WINTER LIST 2015.  I find having something to look forward to helps me not go crazy.  Here's what's on the agenda for this year:
  • Celebrate Amirah with a Unicorn Party.  I cannot believe my baby girl is going to be five!  She has been asking for a pink and purple unicorn party all year, and Mama is going to deliver.
  • Save up for an Essential Oil Kit from Young Living.  I know what you are thinking... why don't you just buy it?  I could, but there is something so fulfilling about saving for something that you want.  Here's how I do it...  Anything that comes in that is not from a regular paycheck goes to my fund:  my consignment store earnings, selling crafts, etc.
  • Organize basement/craft supplies.  Our basement is so, so embarassing.  My crafts and supplies have taken over.  My friend recently gave me a bunch of baby food jars, so I am using them to corral all my small items: beads, mini clothes pins, jewelry supplies, etc.  And that is just the beginning.  There are also Ysmaille's tools, summer gear, yard sale piles.... you get the point.
  • Organize pantry.  The pantry is not as bad as the basement, but it bothers me that I can find pretzels, used candles, and Windex all in the same place.
  • Host January's book club.  I can't wait to have my book club friends over to my house.  The book I chose is Love with a Chance of Drowning.  I just started it, and I like it so far.  Can't wait to read more.
  • Re-beautify our bedroom.  Our bedroom is so blah.  New paint, curtains, bedspread, etc. is NOT in the budget, so I am going to have to work with what I have.  I have a few ideas rolling around in that head of mine.
  • Get sewing machine fixed.  This was also on the Summer List of 2014, but I never got around to doing it.  Maybe I'll be more motivated in 2015.
  • Make apron from man's dress shirt.  I've seen these at craft shows, on pinterest, in vintage stores...  They look pretty easy, but of course it will require me to get my sewing machine fixed.  See above.
  • Get etsy shop up and running.  This has been such a challenge for me.  I really don't like spending time on the computer, but I've heard from lots of people that the best way to promote your shop is to get involved in the etsy community.  Kind of like, "if you like my shop, I'll like yours." 
  • Re-do upstairs bathroom.  The bathroom has a fresh coat of paint, but I would like a new shower curtain, some art for the walls, and one of those shower curtain rods that is semi-circular, so it feels like your shower is bigger.
  • Get out Dad's wood burning kit!  I've been seeing some cool projects on pinterest that involve wood burning.  And the other day Mom mentioned that Dad has an old one in the basement that's been there for decades.  Hello new project!
  • Go to the flea market.  I've spent the past two weeks watching 22 episodes of Flea Market Flip on Netflix, and now I need to go to a flea market myself. 
What do you think about the list?  I'm hoping it's enough to get my through the next three months.  That and another glass of egg nog.  Why is that sold only seasonally?  It is seriously so delicious.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Jesus in the Midst of the Chaos

My daughter is spunky, beautiful, full of spirit, and many other wonderful attributes.  She is also a challenge to parent-- has been pretty much since the beginning.  She has brought me to my breaking point many, many times.  Sometimes I miss the lesson.  Today was NOT one of those days.
Ysmaille has been blessed with lots and lots of overtime the past several weeks.  And we truly see it as that.  A blessing.  We have some financial goals to meet in 2015, and recognize this as our Provision.  But that doesn't mean it's easy.  I have been home the past few Saturdays by myself with two rambunctious children, after already working a very demanding job Monday through Friday. 
My beautiful daughter had a very difficult morning.  There were tears, and fits, and yelling, and moments of downright disrespect.  I gave her brother more sprinkles on his French toast than her (did she miss the point that I made French toast with sprinkles?).  The bath water was too cold.  There wasn't enough water in the bathtub.  She didn't want to do her chores.  And on and on and on.  I was on her.  I did my best to correct her attitude.  I gave her hugs.  I put her on time-outs.  I was silly.  I was mean.  Nothing worked. 
At one point after just "correcting" her I just held her until she stopped crying.  I loved on her and told her I would never stop loving her, no matter what she did.  After our cuddle fest I asked her to do her one and only consistent chore (put the clean silverware in the drawer).  She had a meltdown.  She did NOT want to it, and just kept screaming, "I need more snuggles. I need more snuggles."  Oh, it sounds sweet as I'm writing, but it wasn't a sweet moment at all.  I just wanted her to do one single thing WITHOUT COMPLAINING!  The last thing I felt like doing was snuggling with the very child who I had battled with for four hours.  But I picked her up and I hugged her and she hugged me back.  And at 11:30, after hours of frustration, we stood in the middle of the kitchen (me still in my robe and glasses), and just loved on each other.  I began to cry, tears streaming down my face.  In my human frailty I was aware of how Jesus feels about me.  He loves me.  When I disobey, and grumble, and complain and then turn around and ask Him to hug me.  He does.  Every. Single. Time. 
That was a turning point in our day.  Have the last hour and a half been perfect?  No.  Not even close.  But somthing happened in our kitchen today, and we both felt it.  Oh, that I would always find Jesus in the midst of the chaos.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


Since summer is officially over I thought I'd update you on what we accomplished from our summer list.  There were 19 things on our list, and we managed to experience 11 of them, plus some really fun things that weren't on the list. 

I have a new love for embroidery.  I'm not very good at it, but it's very relaxing and fulfilling so I'm sure I'll be practicing this winter.  Thanks to my super crafty and talented mom for the lesson!

 We went to Lake Tobias two years ago and it was not fun.  Xander was two months old, and I spent the whole safari trip shading him from the blazing sun.  Well, that, and also changing his entire outfit because he had one of those up-the-back poops.  Then I had to breastfeed in the reptile house.  After that dud of a trip I was determined to try it again.

This year our trip started out much better.  And then the fateful safari...  Amirah had some type of skin allergy attack and kept screaming "Get me off this bus!" as she scratched the flesh off her leg. Then Xander decided that wasn't enough drama and threw one of those fits that only a two year old can throw. All because I wouldn't let him walk around the moving bus.  We were that family.  Maybe Lake Tobias isn't our thing.  This picture was taken at the begining of the safari before all the drama.  While were all still happy and loving life!

 Amirah and I marbelized paper.  She took this picture, and I just love those cute little toes.

One of the highlights for me was making this lemonade stand.  It cost more to make then Amirah made in profits, but it's so fun!  I have to honor my husband who made this even though it wasn't his idea of fun.  I love the way he loves his girls!

I've wanted to make candles for a long time.  They are really pretty, but unfortunately they don't burn very well.  Maybe it's the wicks.  Not sure, but I want to make some more.

One of my favorite things from the summer list making this journal for Amirah.  I wrote down a sentence or two each day and then took a picture to put got with it. I forgot some days, but she'll have a pretty good idea of what went down in the Summer of 2014.

There were some other things on my list that I didn't get pictures of... printing pictures of my kids to frame, finishing the Divergent series, getting baby books up-to-date, making coconut ice cream, going to Laurel Lake, and plannig a community cook-out and movie night.
Of course there are always fun opportunties that aren't on the list, and I've taken some pictures of those moments.  One of our favorite things to do is hang out with the cousins.  Aren't they so sweet?

We also took a last-minute trip to the beach.  Ysmaille couldn't get off work, but the kids and I took a 9 hour trip to North Carolina.  This is one of my favorite pictures from that week.

I love date nights with my husband.  We had such a blast playing mini golf.  I won't say who won, but let's just say the initials spell M.E.

I loved strawberry picking with these two.  They were actually surprisingly helpful.

A last-minute decision to go to the balloon festival in Greencastle, was so much fun.  The kids were in awe of the balloons.

We had a great sumer, and now that fall is officially here I'll be posting my fall list soon.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

An "egg"cellent idea-- art project with the kiddos

I saw this idea on a little website you might have heard about... pinterest!  If you have a baking project that requires a lot of eggs don't throw those shells away!
I bake with coconut flour a lot, which is very dense and requires lots of moisture. The muffins pictured below contained just 1/2 cup of flour, but eight eggs. I knew this was the perfect opportunity to put those shells to good use!
 I cracked the tops of the shells to make sure I could fill the eggs with paint.
 Aren't they pretty?
 The next step was to take a canvas out to the back yard and so something your momma told you never to do-- throw eggs at something.  Amirah was more than happy to oblige.
 Xander was a little confused by the whole thing.  His aim is less than desirable and he kept hold the eggs above his head and the paint was getting everywhere!
 Isn't the end project fun?  It's currently hanging in our living room.  We want to throw more color at it, but I need to wait for another baking project.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Our Spring List

Our Spring is off to a great start!  We've had some chilly days, but overall it's been a beautiful Spring and we've have loved all our time outside.  We've been making some progress on our list, but have a long way to go.
 During the last weekend of March we had a chance to go to Lancaster and see Great-Grandma.  She turns 90 next month and is as spunky as ever.  Five years ago she didn't have any great-grandchildren.  Now there are 12! 
 We tried a new technique for dying our Easter eggs this year.  The basic premis is this: make a pile of shaving cream, put a few drops of food coloring in, swirl around and dip in the eggs.  You are supposed to dip them in vinegar first (which I forgot to do) and also wait for several hours before wiping the shaving cream off (which I was also too excited to do).  So...  they didn't really turn out that well.  I am going to re-dye them tomorrow. 
 Pretty, huh?
Amirah and I love a good craft project and this one was really fun!  You cut fabric into strips and "mod-podge" them on to a balloon.  Let it sit overnight and then pop the balloon, creating a fabric bowl.  So sorry for the terrible picture.  Not that my typical pictures will get me a "blogger of the year" award, but this one is particularly sad. 
I can hardly wait to check more things off our list!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Spring-- Bring it on!

If you've followed this blog at all you know I love a good list.  And nothing makes me happier than a list of fun things to do this Spring!

So without further ado here is our Spring list- with a new updated verison of the list that has lists inside the list.

Art projects with Amirah:
  • tie dye something
  • fabric strip paper mache bowls
  • painting canvas with eggs
  • grape and toothpick art
Projects around the house:
  • pick final paint colors for the kitchen
  • stain the deck
  • decorate for Xander's birthday party
Just for me:
  • first craft sale at the Dutchfest
  • book swap party
  • buy flowers for the house
  • buy a yummy treat at Sweet Frog
  • finish Divergent series
  • finish Mended
  • choose a non-fiction read
Family fun:
  • feed the animal at Bender's
  • decorate Easter eggs
  • make mango fruit roll-ups
  • visit Great-Grandma
  • go to Monkey Joe's
Spring has always been my favorite season.  It's so alive!  Plus my birthday is in the spring.  I am seriously so excited about this list!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Reminiscing (Part Two)

When I left off we were still in the DR and had just made an appointment at the US Embassy.  We traveled back to Haiti by bus and tried to get used to life as a married couple.  I will not mince words.  It was hard.  We had dated long-distance for two years only seeing each other maybe a total of five weeks that entire time.  Then we were married and together all the time.  All day.  Every day.  When school started in August I think we were both relieved.

We lived at the school where we taught because it wasn't really safe for me to be outside those guarded gates.  I rarely left the school grounds.  And it was stifling.  I felt so alone and so frustrated.  I cried.  A lot.  Oh, how challenging those first months were.  It wasn't all bad.   I learned a lot about myself.  A lot about Ysmaille.  He was a great support and somedays he just held me because he knew that was what I needed the most.

In October it was time for us to go back to the DR for the appointment we made back in July.  We took the bus again.  The next day we went to the embassy and waited outside in a long, winding line for our turn.  When we made it to the door they asked to scan our belongings.  Unfortunately I had my camera with me and they wouldn't let me bring it in.  They told us there was a cafeteria down the street that might hold it for us.  We found the cafeteria, but they were not interested in holding a camera from a couple of foreigners.  We finally decided to ditch the camera in someone's garage and hope it was there when we got back. 

Once inside the embassy we waited for several hours.  When it was finally our turn we explained that we wanted to take a trip to PA to see my family, but we couldn't go to the Embassy in Haiti because it was closed due to the unrest in the nation.  The lady was very kind, but a little skeptical.  After a few minutes she separated us to question us individually.  One of the things she asked was where our first date was.  I told her "Tiger Mart."  She was suprised that I described our first date at a gas station.  When Ysmaille told her the same thing she was convinced ours was not simply a green card marriage.  I told you that unconventional first date would save us.  We got the visa!  In two months we would travel on a plane for the first time together. 

We had so many crazy experiences that year-- days off school during the election because there was rioting in the streets,  another trip to the Dominican Republic (this time on a tiny plane because the bus wasn't traveling due to the unrest in the city), our first Thanksgiving, a trip to Pennsylvania, and learning how to be together. 

We finally left Haiti in March of 2006.  Things were not easy here.  We came here without jobs, without a place to live (thanks Mom and Dad for helping us out!), and without much direction other than knowing we wanted to settle down here.  During that time we saw God's hand like never before.  He was such a wonderful Provider for us in that season.  We had so many trips to Lancaster and Philadelphia for immigration paperwork.  The lessons we learned during that time have brought us through some challenging times in our marriage.  In 2010 Ysmaille became a U.S. citizen and we started a new chapter.

Through it all, Ysmaille has been a steadfast and faithful husband.  We have some very real challenges, some moments that we felt so unprepared for this life, and some times us such pure joy that we can hardly contain it.  So, this Valentine's Day I celebrate our beginning and look forward to the rest of our journey together.  Ysmaille, ou gen ke'm. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014


Many of you know bits and pieces of the story behind Ysmaille and I, but I thought I'd write a little bit about our early experiences.  Since Valentine's Day is coming up in a few days I thought I'd celebrate by telling you the story of our life.

When I moved to Haiti in 2002 I did not go there for love.  I simply wasn't ready to settle down yet, and thought I'd be a little adventurous.  I moved out of my parent's house for the first time in my life and moved to a country where I didn't know a soul.  I lived in an apartment right outside the school where I taught with four other girls-- one American, one German, and two Haitian.  Ysmaille and I soon became friends and within a month or so we were a couple.  We had our first kiss outside the gate of my apartment under the bougainvillea flowers.  Our first date was at Tiger Mart gas station (a fact that would later save us) for ice cream.  We also rode on the back of motor cycles to explore downtown, hitch-hiked up the mountain for pottery, watched movies in French, and spent lazy Sunday afternoons talking about our future. 

The school year soon came to a close and it would soon be time for me to go back home.  Ysmaille had a half-scholarship to go to a school in New York, but was unable to get the visa so we embarked on a two-year long distance relationship.  Each Christmas, Easter, and Summer vacation I would spend a few days or weeks in Haiti hoping that one day we would together forever.

In the summer of 2004, while I was visiting Ysmaille, he asked me to be his wife and I said yes.  We decided to get married in Haiti because we didn't want to rely on a fiance visa.

In June of 2005 we had a gorgeous wedding at Hotel Montana, a beautiful hotel above Port-au-Prince.  It was a scary time in Haiti with kidnappings happening almost daily and the U.N. presence heavily noticeable, but I was blessed to have my entire family there for the wedding as well as several other treasured guests. 

We had an unconventional start to our honeymoon.  There were no flights from Port-au-Prince to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, but that didn't stop us.  On the morning after our wedding we left at 7:00 a.m. on a bus bound for Santo Domingo.  We made it past the border and to the capital.  Once in Santo Domingo we took a taxi to our resort.  The entire trip took nearly 14 hours.  Ironic when you consider how small the island of Hispaniola is.  After a week in Punta-Cana we traveled to La Romana, where our friends Karly and Tania, were now living.  We were not in a hurry to leave the DR because things were so tense in Haiti, so we took one more side trip to Santo Domingo to visit our friend Guerline.  While at Guerline's house we made a phone call to make an appointment at the US Embassy so Ysmaille could get a visa to visit my family for Christmas.

To be continued...