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Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya : Part 1 of lots

I’m not often at a loss for words. But somehow as I sit down to write about my trip to Kenya this month my thoughts are scattered and my words are jumbled. I’m emotionally all-in but finding myself pulling back. I know why. It’s because I fell in love while I was there. With the people, the landscape, the colors, the joy, the hope, the weather, the movement of Jesus through a couple and their ministry (check out Kenya Mercy Ministries). And I want to move there yesterday.

I felt welcomed. At home. Like I fit into where I was and why I was there like your favorite pair of jeans. (I know the saying is “fits like a glove” but if you know me you know I would live in jeans every day of my life if I could. And I hate cold weather and snow so why would I want to fit into anything resembling a glove?!)

I miss everything about it. I miss waking up to this.IMG_7342

I miss the hour-long rides from Kiserian into Nairobi where I would just breathe in the beauty of God’s creation.IMG_7688

I miss the walk into Kibera to the blue roof with our gang guys, feeling a false sense of security.IMG_7707

I miss the kids in the school.IMG_8345

I miss the teachers.IMG_7724

I miss the beauty of the Kenya sunsets each evening, rivaling the beauty in the midst of tragedy that I experienced all day at the school.

There’s so much more. I miss the talks with friends, new and old. I miss the best coffee I’ve ever tasted. I miss the food (ugali & sukuma wiki, chapati & green grams, rice & beans, perfect mangoes). I miss the Kibera kids saying “How are you?” every time we walked by. I miss hearing “mzungu” (identifying us as white people) and our gang telling others to “get your own mzungu.”

And now I can’t wait to tell you more. I guess I just had to START writing to let it out. There’s more to come, I promise. Here and in person. I’d love to share with you in person what I saw and felt. And to tell you how you can be a part of it. More details on an event in May to come. And if you don’t want to wait till May to talk in person, let’s have coffee or a margarita before then.

Oh! And check out my Instagram feed (@katieunscripted) for more pictures of my trip.

So on to tomorrow…

I guess I took a sabbatical. Yeah, let’s call it that.

It’s been three months since I’ve written. Not purposefully. I mean, a little bit on purpose because I wasn’t going to post just to post. So here I am really just posting to post. Heh. 😉

I’m going to start writing again. Instead of starting posts in my head and not following through, I’ll at least attempt to write them down here. I stopped writing because I was doing just that – starting to write, but then it wouldn’t flow and it sounded trite and forced so I clicked “x” and went back to Facebook.

It’s crazy to think how much has happened in the last three months. School ended. Which is totally crazy in itself, not because it’s over, but because this year I’ll have three kids in school (Lucas is starting pre-K!). And even crazier is that next week I’ll start calling HIGH SCHOOLS to set up shadow dates for Alaina. HIGH. FREAKING. SCHOOL. I’m not old enough to have a high school student, right? (Tell me I’m right or never read this blog again.)

We had our only summer vacation. We spent an amazing week with family and basically family and I’m so thankful that we get to go on a beach vacation each year.IMG_7897GirlsIMG_7916IMG_7928IMG_7814

Except it ended with Isaac in the ER in Myrtle Beach on our last night there, requiring 10 stitches. So there’s that. 10418866_10152999104092199_4480955861232987440_n

There’s only a month left until school starts again and that seems scary. Again… HIGH. FREAKING. SCHOOL. shadow appointments.

We’re also in the middle of trying to buy a new house. If it works I’ll give you more details. Pray it works. This is the third house in as many years that we’ve tried to buy. I felt right away that this house was the reason the other two fell through. But it’s never easy, right? 😉

So on to tomorrow. And I’ll be writing more. Because it’s good for me. Tonight I actually thought I’d write about how horribly hard today was with the kids and how I texted Adam at one point and told him that I was “done with all of our planned children.” Instead I got to scroll through the pictures I haven’t looked at for a month and watch “The Bachelorette” and write to you. I mean, what’s better than that?

DIY Reaction Contraction (aka Ball Wall)

One of my favorite places in Indy to take my kids is the Children’s Museum. It never gets old to them and it gives me a place to take the kids when they’re bored at home. And while we’re there, It gives me great ideas of things to do with them at home as well.

Did I tell you that I’m writing a monthly post for the Children’s Museum about doing just that? Each month I get to write about how the museum exhibits spark ideas and activities for us to do at home. You can check out my posts by clicking Right! Here! (go ahead! Click!)

This month we decided to make our own Reaction Contraction, also lovingly known in our house as the “Ball Wall.” Reaction Contraption at Playscape

It’s my boys’ favorite part of the entire museum so we cheaply and quickly made one to play with at home. So I thought I’d share how we did it.DIY Reaction Contraction

So fun (kid-tested, ages 18 mos to 12 years). Super easy (um, do you know me?). Super cheap (under $7).

Here’s what you’ll need:Supplies

  • various sizes of empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls (I used 14)
  • a display board (mine was 36 in x 24 in)
  • enough felt to cover the board (mine took about 1/2 yard)
  • Velcro (we used about 22 inches of the scratchy side only)
  • hot glue gun (it took 2 sticks)
  • scissors
  • a small, lightweight ball (like a ping pong ball)

We started about a month ago by saving paper rolls as they were emptied around the house. I cut out a section running the length of the roll. On the longer rolls, I just cut out a small section of each end so that it resembled a tunnel, big enough that a ball could roll in and out of easily.

I then cut about 1.5 inch pieces of the scratchy side of the Velcro. (See how uncrafty I am? I don’t even know what that side is called.) I hot glued one piece on the small toilet paper rolls and two pieces (one of each end) on the longer rolls. Make sure to secure the Velcro to the side of the roll and not the side opposite of where you cut. Remember, it needs to stick to the board so that the open side faces up.Track pieces

We also had some old display boards the kids use to paint projects on while inside the house. Any kind of sturdy display board or cardboard will work. I laid the board on top of the felt and cut around the board leaving a 1-2 inch border. Work your way around the board, squeezing the hot glue in small sections onto the board and then folding over the felt onto the hot glue to tightly secure it to the back of the board, fully covering the opposite side of the board with felt.IMG_7493

Now PLAY! I started by setting up a pattern that I thought would work and let Lucas (4 years old) put the ball down the first time. He attempted to fix the places that failed and kept maneuvering the track pieces so it would go all the way down.

Then I took them all off and had him create his own track. It was super simple but he was so happy and proud of himself when it worked.IMG_7503

Then Cami (8 years old) and Alaina (12 years old) lined up for turns. I had to make Alaina stop to go to bed. I had NO idea either of them would even look twice at it, but they had a great time trying to out-do each others’ designs.

So the next time you’re at the museum, look to see how you can bring those favorite exhibits home with you. We had so much fun recreating our own Ball Wall. 🙂

choosing to love

Sometimes I’m too naive. I like to think I’m just optimistic. Thinking the best about people/situations. But I’ve learned recently that I’m also very naive.

I recently reconnected with an old “friend” via Facebook. He wasn’t my boyfriend. We never actually dated.  But I fell for him hard my senior year of high school and we had a deep connection. He became a very close friend by the time we graduated but our relationship, whatever it had evolved into, ended abruptly, shortly after the start of college.

Abruptly and completely. And I was heartbroken. I had lost a friend and more than that. With no explanation and only my own thoughts and emotions swirling around in my head telling lies and truths and not knowing which was which.

Years passed (18 to be exact) and we spoke maybe twice. The last time we spoke or had any interaction was 13 years ago. I’ve actually written about it before here. It’s interesting how you hold on to memories when you don’t have closure…

So when we became Facebook friends last month I had a naive expectation about how it would look. I’d browse his Facebook page, see who he’d become, where he was. He’d do the same. We’d say “hey, good to see you again” and sporadically like each others’ pics and posts.

It didn’t quite work that way. It’s too easy to go back to the past, remember those feelings. I was naive in thinking that wouldn’t happen…

A few days later, a friend invited me to pray for Adam every day during the month of September. We had spoken about this a week or so before and the timing couldn’t have been better. Adam and I were in a fine place in our marriage, but at the same time I was reconnecting with someone I had loved and cared for very much in the past. I knew I needed to proactively protect my marriage in every way possible because no one else would do that but me.

So I made a strategic choice to love Adam more. To love him better. To love him purposefully. To pray for him each day. To pursue him lovingly. And it has worked.

I feel more connected to him than I have in years. Actually, I’m not sure that I can remember the last time I felt like this. I have (re)found a love for him that feels alive and real.

I keep asking myself why I haven’t done this before? Made a CHOICE to love my husband? We’ve been through rough times. Where I wasn’t sure I could picture living the REST OF MY LIFE *together* with him.  Why didn’t I choose to love him in those times? To protect and guard my marriage then like I am now?

Let’s be honest. For most of us, it’s not another person that is coming between, or causing problems in, our marriages. It’s disagreements about parenting, money, hormones, the way we speak to each other, lack of respect, not loving ourselves… I could go on and on.

But we can make a choice EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. to love our spouse more. Because after this long, it HAS to be a choice. The butterflies go away and day to day life, STAGES of life, get in the way and change dynamics. Kissing him goodbye in the morning and goodnight before bed becomes a ritual. But let me tell you. CHOOSING to love someone? It changes all of it.

So I challenge you to make the choice. The choice to love your spouse. Love him better. Love her more. Love him deliberately. Love her purposefully. CHOOSE love in all the moments of the day. And look at him like you love him. Like you really, deep-down mean it.

Because you *will* mean it. And it’ll feel amazing. I promise.

Call me Carny

I think we’re going through (Indiana State Fair) withdrawal. Ferris Wheel

Monday, Lucas woke up and said to Alaina, “Can we ask Mommy to take us to the fair today?” And we waved at the fairgrounds as we drove by on the way to Target. Sniff.

Yesterday, I tweeted: “I believe that teaching your child to love the @IndyStateFair is extremely important. At least I have succeeded in one part of parenting.” Sniff sniff.

This evening, as I saw the weather for the tomorrow, I thought, “Oooh! It would be a great day for the fair!” WAAAAHHHH.

We visited the fair four times and I worked at the elephant ear stand three times. I was at the fairgrounds 7 of the 17 days of the fair. And honestly, I wanted to be there more than that. Where else can you see such a diverse group of people commune in one place on purpose?

Where your kids actually want to be close to each other?

Kids in tire

Where you can see Olaf made out of canned goods?Olaf

Where your oldest big city daughter asks for a cow?Alaina with calf

Where you seriously think your son has fallen deeply in love with a calf he just met?Lucas and Calf

Where the baby doesn’t care what part of an animal he’s looking at?Isaac with pig

Where you can actually milk a cow? Like, FOR REAL MILK A COW?!milking a cow

Where you come home from pretending to be a carny by working at the elephant ear stand still saying “Elephant ears come with a free small soda tonight” with your skin smelling (and tasting) like cinnamon sugar?elephant ear stand

Where you quickly realize that this year you don’t have to push your little boy around on the tractor when he takes off so quickly you hardly have time to take a picture?tractor

For some reason I feel content during the State Fair. And content is a pretty big word for me. I don’t use the word often or lightly. Being content (for me) is really hard. But during the fair? I’m simply… content. Fully and completely. And it shows.content

I can’t wait for next year’s fair. It’s like a little vacation from real life but just 10 minutes from my house. Where my kids and I love every single part of what we see, hear, taste, smell and feel while we’re there.

Until next year Indiana State Fair. Until next year…

the end of an era

Isaac’s birthday is Thursday. Not just any birthday though. His *first* birthday. A pretty big #lastfirst if you ask me. And the last week of his first year of life has started off kinda tough. For both of us.

Thursday morning he woke up with a nasty cough, which has turned into an even nastier cough, resulting in him coughing so hard that he’s throwing up several times a day. It’s no fun. And it’ll mean a trip to the doctor tomorrow, I’m sure.

What it also means is that I’m pretty sure he’s done nursing. He’s so stuffy and he really just isn’t interested all of a sudden. It’s pretty crazy. I was ready for this. I just thought it would happen over the next 2 weeks and on my terms. I’m surprised at how emotional I am about this. I’ve actually been looking forward to this for a good month. But then I realized tonight while rocking Isaac to sleep (in a steamy hot bathroom), that not nursing him means I won’t giggle at him pulling his blanket over his head each night while falling asleep nursing.

Blanket over head

And that he won’t hold his foot each night after pulling the blanket over his head until he falls asleep.Holding his foot

And while there are feelings of freedom as well, the emotions of never nursing another baby are high. Much higher than I anticipated. And so I’m sure this week will get harder as Isaac’s birthday inches closer.

But onward we go. As I was putting Lucas to bed tonight, I just looked at him and wondered what Isaac will be like at three years old. So as I cherish these last firsts, I look forward for new firsts and fun things about babies getting older. Facing forward

Like facing forward in the car seat. 🙂

My prayer for you

I haven’t written in over two weeks because I haven’t really had anything to say except for complaining. Which does no one any sort of good.

I struggle in the winter. SAD is in full effect in this house.

Parenting is hard. Right when you think things might be turning a corner, BAM! You’re smacked in the face at how little control you have over the behavior and hearts of your children.

Loving myself, which I resolved to do such a short time ago, has been brushed aside because I’m tired and angry and tired and complaining. “Ugh, just stop complaining already” I keep saying to myself.

And then total crap happens to those you love.

Tonight I found out two very sad pieces of news from friends. Heartbreaking news that just hurts and makes you only be able to say “I’m sorry. That really sucks. And it isn’t fair.” News that initially makes me totally question whether or not I really trust God. Normally I fall right into this trap.

Friends, this is a TRAP.

On our way home tonight from our community group at church, and even more the moment I walked inside my house, I felt an overwhelming need to tell you that. That falling into this question of whether or not to trust God is a TRAP.

All of this crap around us? NONE OF IT IS FROM GOD.

I won’t pretend to know why God lets it happen, or to agree with it even. But I do know with all my heart that God does not want you to hurt. And while I don’t understand why someone might be given more than one horribly crappy situation (and I get totally angered by it, honestly) I feel so strongly that it isn’t from God.

And I will say too, that I don’t often get feelings like this. Like this overwhelming feeling that God is speaking to me. Actually, I can’t remember the last time I felt so strongly like this – that God was telling me that none of this was from him. And on top of it, that when crappity crap crap happens to really amazing people, people who are doing really amazing things in our community in God’s name, that something, someone, is targeting them.

Which is why I wanted to share it with you tonight. I don’t have all the answers, but I know two things for sure: That Satan is alive and working in this world and that God does not want you to hurt.

Don’t listen to the lies you’re told. They are not of God.

I keep thinking of the benediction from the pastor at our last church used to close with. And I want to close with it also.

numbers

This is my prayer for you.