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This Crazy Dog of Ours

My phone made a “memories” album as it does every once in a while. This one was titled Four-Legged Friends. Some were sad reminding me of our sweet Snowy. Some had me rolling my eyes at the sight of Bandit, the very weird cat that made us his family. Can’t believe I actually took a photo of him! Then there was a brief appearance of River, the rabbit who helped us realize that we are not rabbit people. Pepper made an appearance as well, the sweet stray who now lives with our friend in South Africa. Ironically, most of the photos were of Posey, the crazy Jack Russell who traveled via airplane so she could live the good life with us in America.

This dog is crazy as evidenced by the handful of photos that graced my Four-Legged Friends album. They made me chuckle and maybe they will you, too. Or you can laugh at me, that I’ve become THAT person who dedicates an entire blog post to a dog. 😜

Africa Community Family

It Was 20 Years Ago

It was 20 years ago this month that Jeremy and I first stepped foot in South Africa. While America was celebrating its independence, we were flying over an ocean to a land that would, unknowingly, capture our hearts forever. I’ll never forget that trip in the Summer (or Winter if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere) of 2000. South Africa was a much different place then. Death was everywhere due to HIV/AIDS. Children were raising children. The images in front of me were so different than any I’d ever seen or experienced before. They were images that prompted us to take action, leading us on a journey that forever changed our lives.

After many travels back and forth to South Africa, in 2007, we moved our family from the East Coast to Africa. I’ll never forget watching the doors of the shipping container being closed and locked up as our belongings spent the next few weeks in transit to our new home. We were really doing this. Joshua had just turned 5, and Emma Grace was 2. They were about to learn what it was going to be like growing up in a culture they were not born into.

Those first few months in South Africa were filled with adjustment as we moved in. There were so many things to learn…quick exchange rate calculations at the grocery store, driving on the other side of the road, driving a manual, speaking English so people can understand. I remember loud and clear the day that I realized we couldn’t live temporary. We had to make South Africa our home like we were going to be living there forever. We couldn’t have this short-term mindset. We had to be in it for the long haul.

And that we did. We raised our kids there. We built amazing friendships there. We created memories. We had life experiences, both joyous and heartbreaking. We lived life and truly made it our home.

It was one year ago this month that we decided it was time to move back to the states. I believe it was the right decision, but it’s still so hard, because a piece of home is still in South Africa. It’s why I have yet to unsubscribe to my South African grocery store weekly deal emails, why I can’t bring myself to get rid of my favorite plant pots over there, why I cherish weekly calls with my friends in South Africa. I miss the people most of all (although a cold Appletizer on these hot Texas days are high on the list, too 😊). We spent years building a culture and an identity. Man, I miss those daily interactions.

Living in South Africa I learned that I will never think like an African, but moving back to the states, I feel like my thinking doesn’t fit in with my American identity either. I feel hyper-sensitive to things I see and hear. Processing through it feels exhausting at times. Sometimes I think this journey that we set out on so many years ago wrecked us, both in very good and very challenging ways. But I press on to make Texas my home just like I made South Africa my home those many years ago. I just wonder why it feels so much harder than it did 13 years ago.

Family Kids Thoughts

Let It Go

Yesterday we decided to take a drive to Sunspot to the observatory there. I couldn’t find online if it was open, but I thought the drive would be nice, and we could at least see the observatory from the outside. Plus, the best views of the Tularosa Basin are from Sunspot and the drive there. Well, winding up the mountain made a backseat passenger feel carsick. The observatory was closed. You couldn’t even drive in to see it. And the best viewpoint of the basin along the road? Only Jeremy and I got out to look. It was not at all what I had planned for the day. I realized, though, that there was a point in time where a day like yesterday would have put me in a serious bad mood. Feeling responsible that we couldn’t see the observatory, burdened by the bickering from the backseat, wasting gas to drive nowhere. Over the years, though, and especially living with teenagers, I’ve learned to let those things go, because plans don’t always go smoothly. Sometimes you just have to make the best of the moment, and be responsible for your own attitude, because you can’t control the attitude of others.

In an effort to redeem our two hours in the car, we stopped at a local bakery for a cookie. I’ve always said chocolate makes everything better. Yesterday it sure did. Walk in a good attitude, and eat some chocolate today, friends.

Family Fun Travel

10 Things

Every Friday, I will be posting 10 things I’m grateful for. Join along with me by posting your blog link in the comments of your own 10 things or simply comment with what you’re thankful for.

1. Grace. As you can see, I haven’t posted much this week. I’m a goal setter and sometimes, if I can’t reach the goal, I’ve had to learn when it’s right to push myself and when it’s right to give myself grace. I chose grace this week.

2. The mountains of New Mexico. We’re currently enjoying some time in nature, just the 4 of us. Well, 5…Posey came along for the adventure.

3. Emma Grace’s driving adventures on the quad. Glad she’s getting some practice on this before she’s unleashed to drive in a car!

4. Mountain food. Our menu isn’t that much different from home, but there’s something so cozy about simple grilling and easy meals that I love.

5. That being said, we can’t come up here without some Mad Jack’s BBQ. Jeremy and I went and stood in the social distanced line this morning donning our masks for some brisket and ribs takeout. SO GOOD!

6. Early morning hikes with the hubs. There’s something so refreshing about being in nature.

7. Game playing. I’m glad Emma Grace loves it, too.

8. Watching an elk right outside the back door. It was cool, but we had to take down the birdseed before he ate it all. Reminded me of those darn monkeys in Africa. They look kind of cute, but they wreak havoc!

9. Caliche’s frozen custard. So creamy and smooth.

10. Pinto horses in the nearby pasture. Love watching them graze during the day.

What are you thankful for?

Family Thoughts

10 Things

Every Friday, I will be posting 10 things I’m grateful for. Join along with me by posting your blog link in the comments of your own 10 things or simply comment with what you’re thankful for.

1. With the almond milk Jeremy has been making comes almond pulp. I love having almond pulp, because it gives me an excuse to make one of my most favorite chocolate cakes ever!

2. My new blog header. Doesn’t it look fabulous?

3. Social distance chats with friends. It feels strange, awkward, and good all at the same time.

4. Quarantine haircuts.

5. Especially when they’re done by Emma G and finished off with a leaf blower.

6. Humor. Doesn’t it just feel so good to have a good laugh?

7. Zoom video chats with our South Africa crew. Because of slow internet, we’ve always refrained from using video. Either SA internet has gotten faster (unlikely) or Zoom is just great at handling video. Either way I love being able to see faces while I talk!

8. Doggies who can’t seem to get enough of the water hose. No wonder this dog sleeps so well at night.

9. Blooming outdoor plants.

10. Sunshine and vitamin D. So great for the body and the soul.

What are you thankful for?