Monday, January 21, 2019

|| travelling internationally with small children ||

HA! I guess I can blog about this considering we've traveled from Zambia to the States multiple times. Let me tell you, it's definitely not for the faint of heart. There's no "easy" way to get from Zambia to the States. If you fly through London, then you have to go down to Jo'burg which makes three flights. If you fly through Dubai, then you have a tricky 14 hour flight to Chicago.

Here's some tips:

1) Break up the trip. No one, NO ONE, can feel great if you haven't slept for 48 hours. I personally struggle with sleeping on the plane. I did find when I traveled by myself in September that booking an exit row window seat is well worth the money. I was able to sleep for an extended amount of time on the 14 hour flight with an exit row window seat. First of all, you've got plenty of legroom. Secondly, you don't have to ask your row-mate to move so you can get up. Thirdly, you don't have someone's chair two inches from your face if you can't sleep. The only con is that you have to put your bag in the overhead bin for take off and landing. That's hardly a con for me. :)

When we flew now with the kids for Christmas, we went through London and spent the night. So Leon and I only missed one night of sleep. If you're travelling with small children, there's a good chance you may not sleep deeply or long with the kids. Leon and I would sleep restlessly because we were worried about the kids waking up. We even had a guy sleep walking who tried to crawl over Jules. That was weird!! And, it reinforced that I wasn't super comfortable falling into a deep sleep with strangers around my kids.

We made a mistake on the way back, though. We had two overnight flights: one from Boston to London and one from London to Dubai. Big, big, big mistake. We spent the day in London at Windsor Castle (which was nice) BUT again, Leon and I didn't really sleep those two night flights even though the kids did. I don't know how to describe how tired I was when we reached Dubai.

And that first breakfast in Dubai is one we won't forget. Food and coffee everywhere accompanied with a side of overtired children. Yep. Not pretty.

If you are planning on taking a plane ride any longer than 10 hours, I highly recommend sleeping before you get on that flight. So, get a flight in and then sleep. A 10+ hour flight is WAY more doable if you're not tired.

2) Chill out. This is much easier said than done.  Kids can sense when you're uptight. It's not fun for anyone. Laugh, chase, tickle, high five to break up the monotony of "grab your bag, let's go, hurry we've got to find our gate, don't touch, don't look, don't breathe, just listen to me" dialogue.

Let the kids help as much as is age appropriate. This time, our two year old and four year old enjoyed throwing their shoes and coats, water bottles and bags up and into the trays at security. And they loved pulling the small rolling suitcases. Again, it's a little bit hectic because hello, #steeringskills, but happy kids equals happy parents. :)

If you're travelling with a child on your lap, you'll probably get poo on you (has happened to me once!). If your child wears a nappy for sleeping, there's a chance you may have plane brain and forget to put one on them and then they'll have an accident (yep!). If you have an active child, they WILL roll all over every available floor space and lick everything and put their mouth on everything. EV-REE-THING. Germs are real. They'll survive. Chill out, mama! :) (I do draw the line at toilet germs. No touching anything in those plane toilets!!!!)

3) Overpack the (rolling) carry-on. This is not a husband's favorite piece of advice, at least not mine anyways. ;) I always, always over-pack on nappies and wipes. Loads of wipes. I pack for a three day trip what we would use in three weeks and it's so nice! Wipes everywhere! For everything! And a change of clothes for everyone. It's kind of obvious to pack extra changes for kids, but don't forget Dad and Mom, too.

Each airport is different at security checkpoints with water in the kids' water bottles. I think we pushed the limits a bit considering the kids are two and four. But don't worry, if you have kids with bottles, security will just put the kids bottles through additional screening. Some airports let our kids send their water bottles through, others did not. No biggie for us; whatever worked at the moment is how we rolled.

Oh! And meds. We always give our kids some form of OTC to help them sleep (even had a flight attendant recommend for us to do so!). Melatonin also works.

So, if you're planning a big international trip (not just jumping the pond), I hope these few tips help. I promise you -- you'll make it one piece and airplanes do eventually land!

Friday, August 3, 2018

|| farmer's wife life ||

Moving to the farm five years ago was a steep learning curve. Luckily! I knew this was God's plan for my life. 

Right away, I jumped into homeschooling my two nieces. That little venture ended when Jules was born. Since Jules' birth, I've enjoyed just being on the farm as a mom and wife and finding my feet as a "farmer's wife". 

This year, I've done really well (compared to the previous four years) of keeping up with the farm's accounts, and this is something I immensely enjoy. I'm trying to get Leon to let me be more involved in the farm, but he's a bit reluctant because he knows I have a lot on my plate (but I love it that way!). 

Every little bit I learn about the cows and their management is food for my soul. It is so interesting and gives me and Leon things to talk about and mull over. He didn't go to agricultural school so farming has been an uphill battle. He's doing a superb job, too. 

One of the things I've learned is that if a cow is sitting down, it's happy. It's fed and watered and it's comfortable. We like to call this cow comfort. I took this picture on the day we had the big fires on the back of the farm. I did some Instastories that day about the fires and it's affect.

Leon has worked so hard at improving the amount of pastures that we have for the cows to graze. It's rewarding to walk past the cows at 2 in the afternoon and see a large portion of them sitting. We've got a lot of happy cows around this place!

In just a few short weeks, Leon and I join other dairy farmers and off we go on a dairy tour in the States! We are so excited to learn things to improve our dairy farm.

Never thought I'd be a farmer's wife ten years ago, but sure glad I am! :)

Monday, June 25, 2018

|| top 10 reasons I love living here ||

Sometimes, I get so stuck into life here [it's easy to get dragged down into the negatives] that I lose sight of how much I love living in Zambia. So here it goes!

1. It's warm (85% of the year). I love the heat!! I hate the cold, and winter is chilly here, too. But thankfully, it's quite short-lived.

2. Our lifestyle is fairly healthy. Because we make most of our food instead of eating out or buying processed food, my kids eat far less sugar than I did growing up. Oh sure, they eat their share of candy and cookies, but slow cooked oats with honey is the standard breakfast rather than sugary cereal. No Kool-aid here [remember the big jugs we used to make as kids?]. I try not to bat an eye at the junk they eat on holiday because I know it's a temporary attraction. 

3. People are friendly and hospitable. This is something that I've had to really work on! It is a huge part of our culture here. If someone shows up on your doorstep unannounced, it's our obligation to invite them in for tea and a place to sleep if they need one. Coming from "up North" in the States, this has been a learning curve.

4. My kids are getting an old-fashioned childhood! This is one of my most favorite aspects. :) They play with dirt and bugs, have to find their own entertainment, and skinned up knees and elbows are a part of their skincare line. Other than growing up way out in the country in the States, I think I'd have a hard time replicating the old-fashioned childhood my kids are getting now if I lived in the States. 

 5. The culture here is favorable to Christianity. There's PLENTY that is not Christian, but I can sit down with someone in their house and have a conversation about the Bible. It's so delightful to go out on Saturdays and speak to people in their houses and they have a general knowledge base about the Scriptures. Now, are they all born again?  No. But, there's that basis whereas in first-world countries today, many people are not interested in Christianity.

6. I have learned so much about being a homemaker. Now don't get all bristly before you hear me out!! I'm not saying women in the States aren't Proverbs 31 women. But my goodness, these farmers' wives are simply amazing. They're tough as nails, super hard workers, hospitable, and excellent homemakers. I've had to up my game!! Once, a friend casually dropped that she had made sage and pumpkin stuffed ravioli and I was like "whaaaaaat?!!" Talk about amazing! I love the challenge of creating a hospitable, healthy home. 

7. I love the mix of cultures here. It's interesting to sit down for a conversation with someone and learn something new. The American way isn't the only way! Now, red, white, and blue runs through my veins, but it's fun to learn that there's a different way to think or view an idea. I've learned a lot from people I've met here.

8. I've learned to appreciate small things. Fast internet is an absolute luxury and my goodness, do I look forward to that on holiday! Sometimes, the simplest tasks in town can become a nightmare and when I do have a good day and tasks get ticked off easily, I really appreciate that!

9. Life is slow here. We rarely go out at night. Sometimes, we'll go out to friends' or to one of the two decent restaurants in town. But, most nights are spent at home, eating a quiet dinner and chilling. I do miss date nights but have come to appreciate our simple life.

10. Life is very family oriented. I love living on a farm and the opportunity that gives Leon to be around a lot. The kids can spend the morning with him in his office. As they get older, he takes them to town with him on errands. Our kids are so blessed to be able to spend so much time with their dad!

Here's my top 10 reasons I love living in Z! Come and visit! I promise that you'll love it, too!