Wednesday, June 25, 2014

west African hospitality

My husband's family is from Sierra Leone but he was born in the U.S. West African culture has touched every part of his life since birth. I, his very American wife, am just learning to master the subtle differences.

Like hospitality. On grocery trips my husband sometimes picks up things like crackers, nuts, cookies, "for guests." I love entertaining so I've always considered this a nice gesture from my kind husband, but it took me a while to realize that in African culture, it is more than a nice to-do. It is tradition, respectful (borderline expected) that if someone comes to visit you, you offer food & drink. 

For example, my mother-in-law (who I also call mom) lives nearby and comes to visit often. Right after hello, I always ask if she is hungry or thirsty.

Only once did she ask me, "what do you have?" I shuffled through the kitchen: granola bars, yogurt, nuts? 

She smiles politely. "Oh no, I'm ok. Thank you."

If that was a test, I failed miserably.

Since that day, when mom comes over, she almost always refuses refreshments or takes only bottled water or tea. I didn't put two and two together until one day we went over my sister-in-law's house around dinner time and she served us a full course meal without really "asking." We were really glad she did because as it turned out we were starving, but who would ask for dinner when you're coming to visit someone else?!

The light sloowly came on. Refusal is polite. Don't ask. And cooked food gets  brownie points. Got it.

When my mom came over a few weeks ago I decided to test my theory. As usual, I offered something to drink, and she asked for tea. While the kettle warmed, I assembled a tray to serve her adding a slice of homemade pound cake and some fruit ... because who doesn't like pound cake and fruit is safe.

Mom didn't even stop talking when I placed the tray in front of her. It was the most natural thing in the world. She ate as we chatted and I noticed upon returning the tray to the kichen, that she had finished it all down to the last blackberry.

To self: "SCORE."

So yesterday when mom said she was stopping by to see the baby I immediately wondered what I could serve.

Blueberries. I had three whole cartons of blueberries. And she was coming in the morning which was perfect because I LOVE baking and I had the PERFECT hubby-approved recipe for blueberry muffins, sure to impress.

I planned to make the muffins the night before and have them on-hand in a sort of "oh, I just whipped these up earlier this week," kind of way.

Except things don't always turn out how you plan.

The night before I was absolutely exhausted with the baby and the last thing on my mind was those muffins.

Mom did indeed show up the next morning though. What to do, what to do?! I offered tea and she politely refused. Except I now knew better. She said she could only stay a short time but I decided to make the muffins anyway.

While she visited with the baby, I was carrying on conversation from the kitchen, secretly mixing away and re-reading the recipe over and over because the last thing I needed was to serve mom a gross muffin.

Ironically, her appointment got canceled and she stayed longer than she thought she could. I mentally applauded myself for trusting my gut. When the muffins were finally done, I plucked the prettiest one from the cooling rack (still warm) and served her.

I watched nervously as she took the first bite.

"Are these from scratch?"


I then watched in horror as she scraped off the cinnamon sugar crumb topping. That was the BEST part!!!

"You know I am diabetic so I can't have too much sugar," she explained.

I inwardly sulked. Well it was worth a try.

We talked a few minutes more before this: "Oh, Chris! I think I will have another. This is very good!"

To self: "Thank you, God. Thank you, thank you, thank you."

And I'm pretty sure I get extra brownie points for making them fresh same-day. Or maybe I'm just pushing it 😏

Thursday, June 19, 2014


There are levels of tired. You know you've reached the bottom when you wake up after four consecutive hours of sleep exhausted and then can't go back to bed. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

mommy moment

I got a text from a dear friend who wanted to drop by for tea this morning. I knew without her saying what she needed - a mommy moment.

We chatted over tea, pastries and fruit while the babies napped and it felt so good to take a couple hours out the day to just stop, unwind, relax, talk, listen, laugh, sip, sigh, encourage, dream.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


I made it through yesterday. Lincoln got a bath and we left the house on time. I managed not to leave anything critical out the baby bag. We had a great time visiting family.

(Pats self on back)

So why am I up at 1:30a? Thinking it all through. Taking time to breathe. Researching solutions to baby congestion.

A mother's job (and quite frankly her day) is never done :-)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


These time stamp titles are catchy :-)

4:30a and I am up thinking about the best way to crawl out of bed without waking the baby so I can pack his bag for tomorrow (yes, we co-sleep; another post on that later but judge if you must).

"Lincoln needs a bath," I announced to my husband at bedtime. I've actually been announcing this for the past couple of nights hoping to summon the superhero strength needed to balance our squirmy baby in his tub and once more wage the age-old battle against neck cheese.

"Too late now," he replies. Which is true.

"I'll do it in the morning," I sigh knowing this is the last day I can put it off. I held a friend's newborn today who smelled glorious while my 3 mo. old smells like wet dog (sweats in his hair, has lots of hair, you do the math). 

"Did you pack the baby bag for tomorrow?" hubby asks.


"And he's getting a bath in the morning?"

"Yes." Decidedly.

He chuckles. "And you're leaving at what time?"

Hesitance. "9:00 a.m."

Second chuckle. "You're not leaving at 9:00 a.m."

Hmph. To self: "We'll just see about that."

Which is how I got here, at 4:30a trying to sneak out of bed to pack the baby bag.

For those without kids, the truth is that is is quite possible for me to leave the house at promptly 9a with a CLEAN baby and a packed bag if and ONLY IF:

1. I don't sleep a moment past hubby's work alarm. But oh how I love snooze, especially if the baby stays sleep long enough for me to catch a few extra zzzs.
I'm too laissez-faire (read: lazy) to be a schedule mom.

2. There are absolutely NO surprises included but not limited to diaper blowouts, projectile vomit or unanticipated urination, all of which have the potential to cause outfit changes (baby AND me).

3. I am having a particularly mindful morning, meaning I can remember where I put essentials like car keys, sunglasses,  Lincoln's pacifier and his new favorite bear (which I swear up and moves around the house on its own just to keep me on the edge of insanity).

All three of these being true in the same morning? Yeah, not likely. So hubby is right, but I am determined (read: hard-headed) all the same.

Aaannd to make matters worse, his alarm just went off. Should be an interesting morning.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

running again

I'm not sure if I run because I like it or because I need it. Either way, I'm back on the grind and it feels good.

I love pushing myself ... "push" being the operative word.

This baby weight has definitely been a challenge and for some reason it's been a struggle to get back into the rhythm of working out.

Maybe I need the challenge. Maybe I need to be standing at the bottom of the mountain looking up. Maybe I'm already at the top and just haven't realized it yet. Maybe I'm struggling too hard with these metaphors ... lol.

Someone great once said: Don't talk about it be about it. 

So this is me, shutting up. Let's go ;-)

Sunday, June 1, 2014


Today I had such a good conversation with hubby about The Lord. We were talking about how it's so easy to forget that this whole world is about God, not about us. 

"For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen." Romans 11:36

How easy it is to forget when we're going about the everyday living of life ... when time is slipping by so fast ... when we get caught up in busy-ness and doing ...

We exist for HIM. Not the other way around. 

As we talked, confessed, marveled, the Holy Spirit burned in me (does that happen to anyone else?) The truth of the Gospel is this: a loving God chose to save the insignificant, the unworthy, the ordinary and rebellious. Us.

Wow. It's all about Him.