Experiencing Culture

*Day 16 of 31 days of Traveling & Living Overseas with Kids

**All stories are true.

Living in a predominant Moslem culture

gives us the added benefit of living life alongside and learning from Moslems.

IMG_4492We were invited to break the fast during Ramadan with a friend’s family.

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After the call from the Mosque, one immediately eats a date and drinks water.

And those who smoke, light up!

The feast was delicious!

During our camping trip in Wadi Rum,

we tried a hookah.

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Please be aware, we learned later of the not so healthy aspects of hookah smoking.

And ignore the kids’ facial expressions, they were super tired and the flash was bright for them!

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Drinking mint tea

(or another hot beverage)

after meals is an almost given practice in the Middle East.

I love their mint tea!

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We did the touristy and culturally accepted practice of getting henna in Morocco.

Typically it’s just the girls who get adorned but the boys got their names written in Arabic.

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Witnessing the Wailing Wall in Israel was powerful and moving.

We are so thankful to have viewed it.

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The girls pray on one side and the men on the other.

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Do you notice the culture where you live?

When I am Stateside, I notice it less because it seems normal to me.

But even in different regions of the US is there cultural norms.

When we move back, I hope to take note of it more!

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Local Ruins

There’s not much to explain on these pictures.

Awhile back we visited some local ruins with friends.

It’s now a place for locals and visitors to walk through history and learn more

or just have a picnic!

Local Ruins

Local Ruins

Huge pillars

Huge pillars

Oldest and Youngest

Oldest and Youngest

Grand

Grand

The kids loved to get out and burn energy climbing and exploring.

There aren’t many parks in this part of the country and we find this place so much better than a playground!

More of the structure

More of the structure

Tunnels, mosques, walls

Tunnels, mosques, walls

The city beyond

The city beyond

Community

“Are we going to church??” My littlest always asks me when we get our shoes on here.

She clearly misses it. I was thinking back on what my not even 3 year old is missing. Is it her Sunday School teacher? Is it the toys? Is it having the routine?

And you know what it is?
It’s the community.

The hardest part about moving away is the leaving of a good community.

They are your supporters, accountability partners, comic relief; they shoulder the weight with you.

And now here begins the building of a new community in our new home country.

And it can be hard but it can be so beautiful to see a glimmer of hope when you felt such a tiredness of being “alone”.

And we have experienced His hand on us this week and the Good Shepherd leads his flock.

Friends for life

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I try to instill in my kids the desire to build friendships with their siblings.

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Currently Sweet Cheeks, Hallmark & Joyful are playing doctor and patient. Third is listening to an audiobook (his new favorite quiet activity).

I know different personalities interact better than others so I just encourage natural interaction and attempt to instill common courtesies and social skills.

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When I do want the kids to spend time together, I try to let them do something they both love. Like eating apples!

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Bonding over hard work is another way to deepen relationships. Have you ever trained for something? Didn’t you get close with your training buddy? (Introvert talking here, I trained alone but I did share a lot with other running friends.

The kids have a few chores to do throughout the week. Enter bonding over putting dishes away and dragging garbage bags out on the street.

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Dress up is another sure-fire way for the kids to play together. Whether it’s cowboys or ballerinas.

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I pray our kids treasure these built-in friendships. No matter where we go, we’ll always be living with these friends until adulthood.

I hope the hubs and I set a good example. He’s my best friend and I love to spend time with him. The more I interact with him and show emotions (laughing, excited, serious, etc) as the kids are present, the better it is for them to witness how to build a strong friendship.

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A Basket-Full of Encouragement

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After having a baby (or really just being a mom to young kids) you can sometimes feel a little bit out of it and dirty and stinky and well less feminine.

I still can struggle with not feeling feminine or girly, so imagine a new mama who is balancing less sleep & long hours, dealing with the weight of having a new person to love and care for and trying to get back into the groove of life?

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Enter a little bit of encouragement in the form of a few of her favorite things!

*This can also bless a new mama via adoption, a single mom, a just moved into town neighbor or someone who’s recently become an empty-nester.

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I enlisted the help of a friend to help me gather ideas for a little pick-me-up present. (My hubs also contacted the husband to learn some of her favorite things.)

The kids and I picked up…

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An aromatherapeutic candle

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Dove milk chocolate (Sweet & sentimental notes inside the wrappers)

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Fruity, sweet and still girly

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Lara-bar for when you need a little extra something.

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Berries covered chocolates…need I say more?

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Target wasn’t carrying the candy she liked (info acquired via husbands), so I opted for similar gummy candy.

Another way to spruce up a girl is to pick up some classy earrings. I went with a very neutral design because I wasn’t sure what she liked.

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Martha Stewart magazine…..for all those times she has extra time to read!!

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Lastly picked up flowers & a seasonal drink and sped this little combo over to her house ASAP.

I have to admit, I wasn’t feeling super happy and was very self-focused that day. But once I opted to surprise a friend, it blessed me in turn to use my energy for someone else!

How do you like to cheer others?