Daddy’s Home

Welcome Home, Michael.

Welcome Home, Michael.

This past week Mike was gone on a business trip for 7 days! I know, for those of you who have traveling spouses this length of time may seem insignificant but to me, a newly driving, full-time working, pregnant Momma with an energetic toddler, it was excruciating.

Time seemed to stand-still last week as David and I anxiously counted down the days until ‘Da-Da’ came home to us again. David had the hardest time as I couldn’t explain to him that Mike indeed would be home soon. Towards the end, he would walk around aimlessly babbling various forms of Dad.

Lucky for us, Mary stayed with us in the house and helped me out with D while I was at work. I felt a lot more secure with Mary in the house even though I’m not sure what a 4 foot, 100 pound person could actually do if something were to happen, ha!

During the week, we went on a few adventures. David and I took Mary down to Bee’s Books which is a small business that sells books that have been donated from the U.K. for only 100mk (about $.25 a book). We stayed and looked for a couple of hours and D and I walked around the area, Chilimoni and bought some popcorn from a street vendor and then fed it to the local chickens walking around.

David also met a new friend, Esther, similar in age to David she was overly thrilled to be meeting a baby boy and cornered him against the bookcase in a giant bear hug. It was hysterical as I watched all of this transpire. You can tell that he has Mike’s personality as the imposed-hug caused David to literally stand still because he was so uncomfortable.

Mike’s time away also gave me time to paint a few things around the house like a chalkboard cupboard for David and a blue wall in our entry way. Nothing like a few surprises when you return home from a work trip.

All in all, Mike’s time away made me realize how thankful I am that he is a supportive and strong husband and father. In Malawi, we are around each other almost 24/7 and it becomes easy to take each other for granted. So although the time apart was extremely difficult, it was nice to have a reminder of just how blessed we truly are.

Walking with Christ through Motherhood

Yes, I am just writing my Mother’s Day reflection now #RealLifeMotherhood.

I find myself having one of those mornings where everything is surreal in its perfection. I have a day off of work for yet another  public holiday which means Mary’s off of work and it’s just David and me for the entire day (Mike’s moving offices). I just laid David down to sleep after a long morning of playing and cleaning. He helped me to vacuum, wash the dishes and make waffles for Mike before he left for work–I love days like today!

My Handsomes Pose for Pictures

As I laid David down for his nap, I put on the lullaby CD I used to listen to when I was his age: “Sleep Sound in Jesus” by: Michael Card. I absolutely adore this CD 1. Because it brings me back to a time when I was tiny and 2. Because the messages are so positive and 3. It makes me cry like a baby every time (in a good way! You know, “Mom crying”)

I’m not always perfect, but I do try to immerse David in God as much as possible throughout the day. I attempt to remind myself daily that my ultimate goals are to get Michael and David into Heaven.

One of David’s favorite things to do is to read his Bible, My Very First Bible Stories that Grandma El Marouani gave him. We’ve read that book so many times that it’s beginning to fall apart. The pages are worn and I can tell that David knows when I’m “skipping over some parts” he’ll give me a puzzled look before trying to turn the page like Umm…Mom? I think we’ve read this enough times for me to know what you’re supposed to be reading and that’s not it.

It’s difficult on a day-to-day basis to stay grounded in the things that matter. Placing God before all else is something that has to be purposeful and intentional it doesn’t just happen. It’s like any other relationship in your life and it takes handwork and dedication.

Two days ago I was walking by our icon of Jesus on our Jesus Table (yes he has his own table at our house) and I felt as though He were saying: “Do you love me?” Of course I said “Yes” but then he said, “Prove it.” It made me realize that recently, I haven’t been intentional enough in my pursuit of Jesus.

I appreciate when God gives me reality check moments like this. It gives me the space to reflect on my relationship with him and see how it’s directly affecting my relationship and role as a wife and mother.

Being a mom is something I cherish more and more every day as I watch the miracle that is my son grow and change and kiss baby Jesus in his Bible without my prompting. I love watching him grow in his love for Christ and know that I am helping to guide him towards and deep and meaningful relationship with our Lord!

Easter in Malawi

Okay, so it’s been a week or so PAST Easter but I had a lot of questions from family and friends asking me what Easter is like in Malawi and so…what better way to answer than a blog post for all to read?

Rather than going to church on Sunday, we go to church on Saturday night and enjoyed a beautiful service exactly like an Easter mass we’d have back home (gotta love the Catholic faith–it’s universal!) David had a rough time and Mike found himself outside with the babe and his carrier attempting to lull him to sleep. It almost worked too until someone’s screeching Mercedes’s  alarm went off….three times….ha!

Luckily, David is the church’s little exotic white mascot and everyone adores him seeing as they watched him grow inside and outside of my belly. Therefore his theatrics are usually ignored and we are instead greeted with warm smiles from those around us thinking he’s the cutest thing they’ve ever seen. My favorite part is when someone grabs him from my arms without warning and David just stares and stares and stares. That sure cures the yelps quickly; he’s pretty shy like his dad.

Easter Sunday, Mike, David and I enjoyed the gorgeous Malawi weather. Similar to an Easter Sunday back home we played outside, David enjoyed his bubbles and plastic blue spoon set that David received for his first basket (Mike and I are both practical!) and I was busy preparing our dinner throughout the day. Trying to stay in line with what we might have eaten back home we splurged and made: cheesy baked potato casserole, green bean casserole (we even found a $5 bag of crunchy onions for on top!) and had our meat prepped and ready to put in the oven.

Blue Spoon

We ended up going to a little tropical paradise called Ngona Lodge and swam the day away. David enjoyed his pool floaty and Mike swam around like a fish while I warmed myself in the sun. We had such a great day full of God’s blessings!

But, the real fun hadn’t started. It wasn’t until after we got home from Ngona and were ready to start dinner that things took a turn for the “Malawi.” I should back up by saying we had no water for four days. No, not a little bit of water here and there, literally no water for four days (which is actually a lot shorter of a span than we’re used to, thank God).

Then, when we went to put our food into the oven, our power went out. Luckily, I had already cooked the green beans and potatoes so the only thing we were missing was the meat. Fortunately, Malawi is known for its fried chicken so Mike took off in his truck and saved Easter dinner!

So you see, even though we are thousands of miles away from our family, with the universal, beautiful Catholic faith, and similar weather patterns the Millers were able to enjoy an almost-Iowa Easter. Amen to that.

Family Tradition

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and take a look around once in awhile, you might miss it.”–Bueller 

Yes, I did just quote Ferris in the opening of my blog post.

Life moves pretty fast even when you’re living in a developing country as a privileged expat where often the most difficult decision I have to think during the day is, what am I going to make my family for dinner? Sheesh, rough, eh?

Not to sell myself short, I do work a lot and yes it is a generalized hyperbole that the majority of my perils stem from the plight of spaghetti or lo mein.

BUT my point being, I think Bueller got something right (maybe that’s why it’s such an iconic movie). I think that we, especially my fellow fast-moving, time-obssessed, workaholic Americans need to be purposeful about slowing down and taking the time to admire and cherish the things that matter.

Which is why I present: Our Weekly Family Tradition–Sunday Night Homemade Pizza.

pizza

Without fail, no matter what, Mike and I always throw together a 100% homemade pizza every Sunday night (okay so we didn’t make the pepperoni, grow the veggies, or ferment the cheese) but we do make the crust and sauce…that’s still impressive right?

This process takes awhile because in Malawi you have to make literally everything. That means that our pizza sauce starts out as fresh tomatoes that have to be boiled, peeled, pureed, and cooked with veggies and spices which are blended to make the perfect combination of Italian perfection!

The crust is the same, having to be made from the very basics. Now Mike and I…okay, mostly Mike, have got this down to an art form.

We make our dough and sauce in large quantities and put them in the freezer for easier prep for the next week. We have the timing down perfect so that the pie comes out with JUST the right crispiness and crunch.

This whole process, and it IS quite the process is time consuming to say the least. So why do we continue to devote so much time every Sunday? It’s because it is our sacred family time.

All of us stay in the kitchen together and play a part. David is engaged with his toys, banging his pots and “chirping” his affirmations of the happenings. Mike makes the dough while I start in on the sauce; we each play our role.

From start to finish pizza takes us about three hours and those are some of the best hours of our week.

I can’t say that I’m organized enough or dedicated enough to sustain any other tradition but Sunday Night Pizza at the Miller’s is here to stay!

What family traditions are non-negotiables for you?

 

 

 

Newlands’ Chapel: Our Heaven on Earth

Chapel

Here’s our little slice of Heaven. Our constant in the face of daily inconsistencies.

What may look like a shabby shed-like structure is the most beautiful, serene place Mike and I have found in Malawi. It’s a place we come to worship God among others who are passionately in love with him.

The picture is deceiving, the actual chapel is on the left in a small, intimate space. Every Saturday night we leave our house at 4:15pm, listen to the top 20 countdown from the US on the car ride and arrive just in time for mass at 5pm.

Then, it’s time to find our seats. Where we used to sit in the very front seats (seats is generous term, they’re pop-out mini-stools that are backless and my bum barely fits on them ha!) we now find ourselves choosing the back seats closest to the door in case a quick mass-and-dash is needed with David who is ALWAYS on the move.

Thank God we’ve known our fellow parishioners for almost two years now and they’ve watched me go through the whole pregnancy process and now are in love with David and VERY patient. David loves to yodel while we’re singing and if it weren’t so cute, it MAY be seen as obnoxious.

The best part of going to mass at Newlands is the intimacy. The place is always packed, there’s not a seat in the whole chapel that isn’t occupied. Every Saturday, without fail, we have to bring out whatever seats we can find around the building and fill the aisles, people sit on the floor, and you better be comfortable with touching your neighbor because there’s barely space to breath.

The Holy Spirit is evidently on fire in this place. It’s a beautiful sight when you look around and everyone is on their knees praising our Lord and Savior. Everyone coming together in one simple act: to love on our God and that, is a magnificent thing.

Sister Regina and David–Sister was one of first people to meet David as we went to mass two days after I gave birth. What better way to praise God for the blessing of a healthy baby?

Crazy Lil’ Thing Called Life

Life seems to be moving faster than I have ever known it to go.

DSCF1919

My darling (have to get the mushy terms of endearments in while I can…too soon I fear he’ll be saying ‘Aw, Mom! C’mon!’) David Michael is almost nine months old and is changing daily.

As I type, he’s sleeping in his pack-and-play after having just rocked him–He’s so precious! I lovingly refer to him as my “Blonde Bomber” just as my Great Grandpa Les Wilkening referred to me when I was young.

It has been a quiet morning, Mike, David, Charlie and I went for a walk around the neighborhood and blazed a new trail as our go-to route has been washed out by the rain. Although it hasn’t been raining much as of late, the floods in Malawi are continuing to affect the country.

Many people are still displaced from their homes, roads have been washed out and many of the crops around the area are gone which means a lack of food in the future.

Please pray for the country of Malawi as they endure this difficult time.

David Michael: 2 Months

2 MonthsBlog

David has surpassed the 2 month mark! And if you’re math-orientated and keep track of numbers (not me) then you’ve probably realized that in fact David is not only 2 months old but almost 3 months.

David turned 2 months in the midst of Mike’s and my trip back to the United States so the blog was the last thing on my mind. However, I did take lots of pictures while we were back and I did document things David liked in my “One Line a Day” journal that my Aunt Heather gave me when we left for Africa. 

Anyway, it seems as though each month goes by quicker than the one before it; as most parents already know, and I am currently learning. It’s such a deep joy and blessing to witness David changing daily and what makes this month even more fun is that he’s beginning to smile…though I’m not sure how purposefully yet.

He’s also enjoying a lot more tummy time and beginning to be able to hold his head up for longer and longer. 

In more exciting news, David was able to experience THE MOST IMPORTANT day of his LIFE! Can you guess what that would be? If you guessed his baptism then you’re correct. On Sunday, August 17th Baby David was baptized by his great great Uncle Father David (the same person who married Mike and me AND my parents). 

Such a beautiful experience, my uncle traveled more than 8 hours…picking up his mom, David’s great great grandma…along the way. We were able to celebrate with most of our family and as the Holy Spirit touched my heart, I did a lot of crying…! So thankful to be a child of God 🙂

DBaptism