End of the FAQ Series

After almost a month of answering the most frequent questions that I get, I hope that the questions served to help you to get to know me, our family, and our lifestyle a little better (perhaps more than you ever wanted to know!)  The answers to the questions I have posted on and other questions which I had previously answered, can all be found on the FAQ page (also located at the top bar).  Please continue to feel free to ask me questions and I will update the page as I get more questions.

I purposefully ended with a question about parenting because we have had several things we have been dealing with in relationship to the kids lately that I will be posting on in the next few days.  I hope everyone has a great Easter weekend!

FAQ: How Do You Employ Grace and Mercy in Your Parenting?

In answering this question, I will first define what I believe to be grace and mercy in order that I am clear in the question that I am answering.  We believe the definition of each to be:

Grace: free or undeserved kindness or favor shown by God; no matter what you’ve done or haven’t done

Mercy: forgiveness or compassion given to us by God for something that we’re guilty of doing (hence the word offenders).

So although they are similar, there is a bit of a difference when you look at the definitions.  Mercy is given to those who have done wrong, while grace is a gift given to someone who has done nothing to earn it.  I know many people feel that the concepts of grace and mercy cannot co-exist in families where children are spanked or told that they are sinners.  For us, this is the very reason that grace and mercy can be shown in our family.

The best way we know to show these elements of grace and mercy are through the message of the gospel.  Grace and mercy shine most beautifully through the gospel of Jesus.  A very easy way to share the gospel with the children is through something as simple as The Gospel Song by Sovereign Grace Music:

Holy God in love became
Perfect man to bear my blame

On the cross He took my sin

By His death I live again.

Here we see the elements of the gospel in that God is perfect (holy), we sinned, God came and took our punishment on Himself on the cross in order that we could live the life we were meant to live.  Gospel, which actually means “good news”, could not be good news if there were no bad news (ie. that we are sinners who need a Savior).  It is like telling someone that they have found a cure for stomach cancer.  Of course, they would be happy to hear that, but the news is even greater if you have told them that they have stomach cancer.  So grace and mercy are communicated every time that we show our children that they fail to be perfect as God is perfect, yet God sent His Son to die for them so that they are forgiven and empowered to live in freedom from sin.

Grace is not simply the free gift of salvation, but also the free gift that allows us to live differently here on earth.  As Titus 2:11-14 says:

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

If we communicate to our children that they are forgiven and given the free gift of salvation but can continue to live anyway they would like, we are doing a great disservice to them and belittling the work of Jesus on the cross. Forgiveness does not mean that we can continue to live as those who have not received mercy or that our wrongs will not still be punished. As Hebrews 12:5-6 says:

My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.

Then it goes on to link God’s discipline with us to how we should discipline our own children

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:7-11)

This shows that discipline is to be done for the good of the person out of love. So even discipline in parenting can be a gracious act if done from the right motive. A lot of people get caught up in the mode of discipline and miss the motive. They may not agree with spanking, but even things like timeouts can be done from a unloving heart. When we yell, disrespect, ignore, give the silent treatment, bribe, appeal to pride or use a host of other strategies with our children, it is not grace and mercy that is being shown forth.

The discipline must be concluded with the promises of hope though.  This is where we show forth God;s grace and mercy when we share the precious promises of Scripture that point to the good God is working to act on our behalf to make us more like Jesus.  We communicate the hope for change and the glorious promise of one day being free from sin and spending eternity worshiping Jesus as we were created to do!  Without the hope of God’s work on our behalf, only despair will set in.

Our goals as parents are to show our children that they are sinners who need a Savior. And they are sinners who are being raised by sinners themselves. So we identify with their struggles, ask for forgiveness ourselves, pray with and for them and communicate our love in as many ways as we can find possible. It is a great responsibility to raise these young hearts for God’s glory and although we are certainly flawed in doing it, we continue to strive to do it in a way that God is shown as beautiful and precious.

FAQ: How Do Your Kids Sleep So Much?

A lot of people find it surprising to hear how much our kids sleep.  In reality, I think they are are in the normal ranges of what most doctors would recommend.  But in this day in age a large majority of children do not get the amount of sleep that they need, so I think that is why sometimes parents find it surprising to hear when our children go to bed and when they get up.  Recently, a fellow basket wife who would like to start trying for their second child asked me to write down my tips for good sleep.  So here is what I came up with:

1. Start with a consistent wake-up time.  I think having a consistent wake-up time is the key to getting children to sleep in a natural rhythm.  Anywhere from 6am-8am is a good wake-up time for a child.  Most parents don’t like seeing their child at 6am, but some are just early risers.  If they are waking up before 6am though, I would try to encourage them to go back to sleep.  In the early days of a newborn, I try to figure out what wake-up time might work well with when the rest of the family is getting up.  So for example, when Isaiah comes along in a few weeks, Lord-willing, mostly likely I will try and establish a 7am wake-up time with him.  Since the other 3 kids sleep until about 8am, this will give me 45 minutes of breastfeeding time with him, as well as time for diaper and clothes changes.

2. Keep stimulation low for newborns and babies. I think the biggest mistake we made with Abby early on was keeping her awake too long and providing too much stimulation during her wake times.  Imagine coming from an environment like a baby does where the womb was warm, dark and relatively quiet.  Then they come out and meet the cold air, loud sounds and flashes of cameras every two minutes.  I would be kind of cranky too!  They don’t need to be introduced to hundreds of toys, be played classical music and shown finger plays all at the same time!  I think as parents we feel like we have to be teaching them or doing something with them at all times or we are bad parents.  A newborn learns so much just by gazing at our face or watching a ceiling fan.  With newborns, we try and keep their stimulation to one activity per wake time and keep the wake time to about 1-1.5 hours (this includes feeding time).  We also try to look for signs of tiredness (for example, rubbing their eyes, avoiding eye contact, smaller pupils, etc.).  By the time they are yawning, you have already missed the window of opportunity in leading them into a smooth transition to sleep (as Dr. Weissbluth recommends, it should be like a gentle wave rolling into shore).

3. Keep day and night times distinctly different. Babies have to learn to figure out when day and night is so they know which time they are supposed to have long stretches of sleep.  When I go to wake a baby up during the day time, I use a cheerful voice, open up the blinds and interact with the baby.  When I go in for a night feeding (or am putting baby to bed) the lights are low, sounds are quiet and I try to avoid interacting at that time.

4. Eat, Awake, Sleep. I follow the cycle of the baby eating, having awake time and then being put to sleep (except for bedtime and night time feedings).  I do my best especially at the newborn stage to keep the baby awake during the feeding so that they can have a nice full tummy and get the hindmilk during the nursing.  I think this helps the baby not to be hungry again quickly (except during those growth spurt times) so that a full nap can be achieved.

5. Aim for a full nap. Anything 45 minutes or less I don’t consider a full nap.  I know a lot of people want to say they have cat nappers, but from what I have seen in my own children, it is usually a sign of being awake too long (as an early wake-up time in the morning is usually a sign of a too late bedtime).  If the baby wakes up before an hour, we usually wait a bit of time to see if they will fall back asleep.  Then we will try and sooth them back to sleep and give them some more time to fall asleep.  If they still will not sleep, we get them up and try to get back on track with the next nap.  Sometimes a whole day is off though and then you just wait to try again the next day!

6. Find soothing techniques for baby. There are a lot of different ways you can teach your baby to soothe himself/herself.  For both Elijah and Naomi after seeing them suck their thumbs during ultrasounds, I encouraged them to find that digit to offer comfort.  And yes, I know we will have to break that habit at some point.  We also use things like swaddling, white noise machines and rocking and cuddling.  Each child is different in what they find soothing though, just like adults are different.

7. Establish a good bedtime and routine. We go with bed times that many people find way too early, but have made for much better night’s sleep.  As Dr. Weissbluth recommends in his book “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child“, we aim for a bed time between 5-7pm for babies.  I know a lot of parents either feel trapped at home or won’t do this because a working parent can’t see the baby as much, but it is a sacrifice we have found well worth it.  Having a good routine at bed time has helped to signal that it is time for that nice long sleep as well.  For us, that includes rocking/cuddling, singing, reading a book and praying.

I realize children are all very different.  I think some are better sleepers than others.  Our three children have been relatively good sleepers, but some better/easier than others.  While I do consider it a gift of God’s grace that they are such good sleepers, I also consider it God’s grace in granting wisdom in good sleep training.  We pray very much for each child’s sleep well before they are born and seek to find ways to help each child get the rest that they need to be healthy.  Who knows how our fourth child may be as a sleeper.  I certainly learn as I go with each child!

FAQ: How Do You Start a Blog?

The reason I started a blog can be found on the About page.  But if the question is about how you actually go about the technical aspect of starting a blog, it can be as simple or complex as you want it to be.  The most popular free blog hosting sites are probably Blogger and WordPress.  You can go there and pick out a free theme you like, pick a blog title and away you go!  I have used both in my blogging, but tend to prefer WordPress overall.

If you are a Mac user, a really easy way to do a blog is through iWeb, which is what I use for our family blog.  Using iWeb is really simple and lends well to blogs with pictures and media because it integrates so easily with iPhoto and iMovie.  To be able to upload the blog though you must purchase web space through Apple’s Mobile Me.

If you want to do a little more with your blog, like have your own domain name, meaning that instead of having a www.blogger/nameofyoursite, the domain name is simply www.nameofyoursite, you can buy a domain name and web space from tons of web hosting companies that exist.  Joe and I have been using 1and1 Web Hosting for a number of years and have been pleased with it.  There are plenty of tutorials online to walk you through how to upload your blog to your web hosting space.

Then you can step out and purchase different themes or even hire someone to design your own theme for you.  Joe and I have both purchased themes and had my brother design the headers for us.  Many themes come with lots of options for different aspects of the blog that you can then customize.  The possibilities really are endless!

FAQ: What is Your Favorite/Least Favorite Part of Your Life as a Professional Athlete’s Wife?

This is a tough question because there are many things to be thankful for in this life and many struggles as well.  In the end, the struggles are things to be thankful for as well because they are the tools that God uses in my life to change me.  If I had to pick one thing for each though, I would say the thing I am most thankful for in this life is the way it draws our family closer together.  The moving, changing cultures, experiencing loneliness, celebrating holidays away from home, etc. are all things that are tough to go through yet make us a stronger family.  On the flip side, it is tough to be away from our family and friends.  I especially find it hard to see the kids missing people from home.

I often wonder how I will feel when this chapter of our life draws to a close.  I am sure there will be relief on some things, but other things that I will truly miss, so I am trying to enjoy every moment while I can!

FAQ: What is Your Family’s Diet Like?

Overall, I would say we eat relatively healthy.  Could we eat healthier?  Definitely!  Part of the struggle is that living overseas offers less healthy alternatives in terms of choices and substitutions when you live in smaller cities than what you find in the U.S.  We are continually aiming to improve our eating, but right now, here are a few of the principles we try and live by.

1. No trans fats. This is one that even our kids know to ask about.  If they receive a candy bar or something from someone, they know we are going to check!  This is also one of the reasons that I cook with very few mixes (such as for brownies, cakes, etc.).  Those things can be made rather easily from scratch and you miss out on the trans fats and all the other chemicals that you really don’t need.  I always check ingredient labels and never trust something that says “no trans fats”.  That just means it is less than 1 gram or they have fully hydrogenated the fat.

2. Purchase as few processed foods as possible.  I can’t say we stay away from all processed foods.  We still eat things like pretzels, tortilla chips and breakfast cereals.  But when we can, we try and stick with more natural things like homemade popcorn, oatmeal made on the stove or baked pita chips.  If we are going to have sweets, we try and make sure that it is a treat I make (I usually bake some sort of goodie once a week), instead of buying cookies and things from the store.  We are working on cutting more sugar out of our diet, but our whole family has a serious sweet tooth!

3. Evaluate the kind of meat we eat. Our goal is to keep our red meat consumption to once a week (trying to buy the trimmest available and drain/cut the fat, and when in the U.S. buying grass fed instead of grain fed beef).  We eat chicken and turkey as well.  We are trying to move the majority of our meat consumption to fish that are high in omega fatty acids.  At least once a week our goal is to eat meat free.

4. Choosing good fats. Our goal is to use more monosaturated oils in cooking, less saturated fats and eat good fats in foods like nuts.  We try and avoid high fat meats and dairy products.

5. Focusing on fruits and vegetables. We want fresh fruits and vegetables to be a main source of energy in our meals and our days.  This means more grocery shopping for me and trying to keep them cut up and available, whcih I admit I am not always good on!

6. Choosing whole grains and trying to avoid refined flours and sugars. I do my best to try and cook with whole wheat flour whenever possible and buy breads that are as least processed as possible.  I really like when we are home in the states and I can buy sprouted breads!

7. Water, water and more water. We are big water drinkers and it is about the only beverage we have in the house.  The kids do get about 6 ounces of juice in the morning, which is less and in smoothie form when we are home.  They also have about 4-6 ounces of soy milk occasionally at lunch.  But for the most part our liquids are water.  We each have a water bottle we keep filled for drinking from throughout the day.

Overall, I would say we try to follow the Healthy Eating Pyramid that Harvard’s Public School of Health promotes.  I enjoyed “Eat, Drink and Be Healthy” and is where the goal of our eating lines up the closest.

The current goals we are working towards with eating is to eat less white flour and dairy (we don’t drink cow’s milk, but do still eat other dairy products while overseas) and increasing our consumption of dark green vegetables.  Any tips on getting that done overseas or in the U.S. are welcome!

FAQ: How Do Get Out for Dates as a Couple While Overseas?

Joe and I getting out for date times is tough enough with 3 small children. But overseas there is the added challenge of not having the abundance of babysitters that we have in the U.S. This year Joe has also had practices that are in the evening, so he is normally gone from around 5-8:15pm. Our goal is usually to get out by ourselves once a month while we are overseas. This year we have his teammate and wife next door, and she is always willing to take the kids whenever we want. We have also tried to adjust to doing lunch time dates, since I am not much of a night person. If we do go out at night, sometimes we just go out for dessert to sit and talk.

Although we would like to get out more as a couple, we do have a lot of time together over here that we don’t have when we are home and involved in more activities. Joe’s job lends to us spending a lot of time together since he works at most for 4-5 hours a day, so I realize we get a lot more time together than most married couples. With our evenings free from a lot of activities as well, after the kids are in bed, we almost always have at least an hour or so to talk, listen to a sermon, watch a movie/show, read, or play a game. So although the actual date times out may be limited, our time together as a couple is really wonderful for our marriage.

FAQ: How Do You Read So Much?

If you have been reading this blog for an length of time, you probably know that I love books and reading.  Much of this was born in me in childhood as I grew up in a home where books were valued.  My mom is a middle and high school librarian and an avid reader.  She read to me from the second I was born, continued for many years and always encouraged me to be reading.  Because I spent so many years reading, I became a much faster and proficient reader and it became a habit that never died.  I am not a big television watcher and enjoy spending the free time that I do have reading books.

Add into all of that the fact that I married Joe, who loves to read as well (although this only became the case once he was a Christian…before that he could have rivaled almost anyone on his knowledge of “Saved By the Bell” episodes!)  Joe loves reading on a variety of topics and has helped me to really expand my genres of reading.  When we dated (and still now) we would spend many nights together just reading.  We would call them “reading parties” and sit reading separate books and sharing things we read that was interesting from time to time.  We knew we were odd, but we didn’t really care!

And now with the lifestyle of living overseas that we have, I have even more time for reading.  You never realize how much extra time you have without all the extra curricular family activities, church activities and extra life stuff that are present when you live a “normal” life in the U.S.  My reading drops off a bit in the summer when we are home (except when I am visiting my parents!)  Here the things we are involved in are very minimal and the pace of life much slower, which gives much more time for reading.  Plus I can squeeze in reading time any spare 5 minutes I find!

So although I wouldn’t consider myself the most proficient or accomplished reader, I do love it and hope it is a habit that continues.

FAQ: Why Are You Having Your 4th in the U.S.?

With only a few weeks left until we head home to the U.S., many people have questioned why I am going home to have our 4th child, when I had both Elijah and Naomi overseas.  First of all, it is nothing against Italy or the city of Brindisi.  I have birthed a child in Italy before and Brindisi’s hospital is nicer than the public hospital I had Naomi in in Bandirma, Turkey.  There are a few factors that are different this time around:

1. We have more children. Taking care of a newborn is not easy, but when you have 3 other children ages 6 and under, the job becomes a little more difficult.

2. Small apartment. We are currently living in a 2 bedroom apartment that feels a bit tight for the 5 of us.  To add a newborn into that mix and it would be tough for the sanity of all of us!

3. Less help. After Elijah was born my mom was able to come over to help out and Joe was not going to be in playoffs.  With Naomi in Turkey, we had 2 other American couples there (not associated with basketball) who were our friends and willing to help out. This time around we don’t have anyone who would be able to come over to stay with us (plus where would they sleep!) and there is no knowing if Joe may be involved in playoffs (which would have him playing 2-3 times a week).  Even though we have a great wife of his teammate right next door, to impose on her with 3 children when she has one of her own would be way too much to ask.

So although we are paying for this birth at home out-of-pocket, we felt it was worth it for me to have help at home with the other kids and with other general areas, like grocery shopping, cleaning, meals, etc.  My mom is going to be able to take at least a week to come stay with me, which is a big deal for me.  She has helped me after 2 out of 3 births and is always a welcome presence.  Joe’s family is also close by, including his very helpful mom a few blocks away and his aunt and sister who live around the corner.  My close friends are also next door, across the street and a few blocks away.  And our church family is always ready to help out a mother with a newborn.  Already so many have offered help once we are home, so I know I will be in good hands.

Of course, this doesn’t mean it was an easy decision or one I haven’t struggled with.  Joe’s team is currently in 2nd place in the league, one game behind the leader.  If they would win the last 6 games of the regular season and the first place team would lose 1 game, they would win the league outright (they have beaten the first place team 2 times so the tie breaker would belong to Brindisi).  The first place team is then done after the last game, which is May 2.  Teams 2-9 then play in playoffs for the other top spot to move up to the Italian first league.  With my due date being May 8 (and having never gone early), if they come in first place, he could possibly be home for the birth of our second son.  If not, playoffs can last until the middle of June.  The mix of the unknown as well as the thought of possibly being apart from him for 2.5 months and him not meeting his son for weeks after his birth has been a source of anxiety.

Although I do believe we are still making the best decision for our family, I have had to fight against my sin of unbelief that is being manifested through anxiety.  Although we are still praying daily for a first place finish (and would be happy for you to join us in praying for that!), I am fighting with the promises that God is in control, He is wise and He is working for my good.  Some of my favorite Scriptures to meditate on have been:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32)

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.  Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. (Isaiah 26:3-4)

Have you not known? Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.  He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.  Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

This fight for faith is one that I deal with daily, but the alternative of being swayed by my emotions and things going the way I desire is much less appealing.  May God be glorified in the birth of our 4th child!

FAQ: How Do You Pack for Living Abroad? (Part 2)

Now for the fun part!  Clothes and the baby stuff tends to be rather easy.  Once we get into the next categories, there are lots that could be brought and decisions have to be made about what can fit or not!

In the area of toiletries, there are many things that can be bought overseas, but I bring a lot of our own things.  For example, Joe is particular about the type of deodorant he wears.  I also bring all natural soaps, lotions, and toothpastes for all of us.  We also use up a lot of space and poundage packing supplements for Joe.  Since we are going there for him to do his job and it is one of the things that helps him do his job well, it makes sense!  One way I save space and poundage is by taking things like bars and packets of shakes out of their boxes and packing them in big ziploc bags.  It also protects the other luggage in case one of the packets gets a hole in it.  As far as medicines, again many could be brought, but I find it easier to just have my own supply of things rather than go to the pharmacy once someone gets sick.  Plus, once again, I like to use some more natural products that are often not found in Europe.

• ____kids’ toothbrushes and toothpaste
• ____toothpaste
• ____deodorant
• ____hair things
• ____face wash and moisturizer
• ____soaps
• ____lotion and lotion bars
• ____contacts/case/solutions/glasses
• ____sunscreen
• ____make-up bag
• ____vitamins and supplements
o Clif Bars
o Myoplex Bars
o Myoplex Shakes
o Muscle Armor
o L-Glutamine
o Athlete’s Defense
o Women’s Multis
o Kids’ Multis
o Infant Drops
o Vitamin D
o Essential Fatty Acids
o Vitamin C (Swallow and chewable)
o Probiotics (adult and child)
• ____first aid kit
o Tylenol (adult, child, infant) and Boiron Oscillococcinum (adult and child)
o Boiron Cold Medicine (adult and child)
o Band-aids
o Antibiotic Ointment
o Medicinal teas
o Boiron Cough Drops and Syrup
o Ibuprofen
o Natural Chest Rub
o Pepto Bismal
o Saline Nasal Spray and Drops
o Thermometer
o Hydrocortisone Cream

The kitchen area is one where I have cut down dramatically as we have traveled over the years.  We used to bring lots of food and cooking supplies, but we have learned to live without some of our favorites and I found ways to make substitutions that were easier than bringing lots of supplies.  For example, I take a small bottle of molasses so I can make my own brown sugar, instead of spending what I feel like it way too much money for what they charge for brown sugar over in Europe!  I also take maple flavoring to make our own maple syrup.  I take an assortment of the most used spices and tend to do without other ones that only one or two recipes call for.  I have also learned to just make most things from scratch (like pancakes, cakes, brownies, cookies, mashed potatoes, popcorn, etc.) so that we never bring any sort of mixes, boxes or packets.

• ____water bottles and water bottle tablets
• ____kids’ bowls, spoons, cups, plastic bibs
• ____measuring cups and spoons
• ____Ziploc Bags
• ____parchment and wax paper
• ____apple slicer
• ____spices/ packets
o Chili powder
o Taco seasoning
o Oregano
o Basil
o Paprika
o Garlic Powder
o Garlic Salt
o Onion Powder
o Lawry’s Seasoning Salt
o Maple Flavoring
o Molasses
• ____food
o Skippy Natural Peanut Butter

The electronics portion of our packing list is a part where many things are kept to use over and over again.  We have a collection of European power strips and converters/adapters.  We bought a European sound machine so as to not use one of our converters for that.  We bring our Apple TV, Slingcatcher, and DVD player every year as well.  Sometimes the team will provide a DVD player, but if they don’t we can use our portable on our television.  For the Wii, we purchased a different cord that could be used with a converter in Europe since it came with one that did not have the right voltage use for overseas.  We have all the subsequent cables that we need for hooking up all these devices as well.  We also always bring over a flashlight or two for those times when a circuit breaker blows or we lose electricity.  Anyone who has lived in Europe knows that can happen more than you would like in some cities.

• ____cell phones, cords, chargers
• ____iPod
• ____Leapster
• ____cameras, cords, chargers
• ____computers, chargers
• ____printer
• ____printer cartridges
• ____hard drive
• ____Sling Catcher
• ____Apple TV
• ____Wii
• ____DVD Player and DVDs, cords
• ____Vonage and European phone
• ____European sound machine
• ____flashlight
• ____converters/adapters

And lastly we have the HUGE miscellaneous category.  This covers a whole host of areas.  We now need to bring school books and materials for Abby.  We get a supply list before the year so I can see what types of things she will need and I can decide what we may be able to find overseas and what we might need to bring.  We also bring lots of books, although our Kindle has cut down on that area in a big way.  For the most part, we try to stay away from hard covers and pack paperbacks when we can.  But things like Bibles and a hymnal can take up a good amount of weight!  I pack a few special things for holidays while we will be overseas, like our advent calendar for Christmas or balloons for birthdays.  And then I also try to have pictures printed out before we go so we can either buy some frames while there or use light plastic ones that I have saved from years past.  And a few of my necessary items are a small tool kit, sewing kit, stain stick and re-usable dryer sheets!

• ____Exercise Equipment (stability ball, resistance bands, foam roller, ankle bands, tae bo bands, jump rope, TP massage)
• ____books (kids and adult)
o Bibles
o Hymnal
o Sunday School Materials
• ____School Materials
o Textbooks
o Workbooks
o Manipulatives
o Handwriting Paper
o Notebooks
o Pencils, Crayons, Construction Paper, Scissors, Glue Sticks, Rulers, Paints
• ____tool kit
• ____stain stick and re-usable dryer sheets
• ____allowance money
• ____holiday items (advent calendar, Christmas decorations, Easter eggs, birthday party items, gift bags, etc.)
• ____sewing kit
• ____picture frames and prints

This still leaves us to buy quite a few things once we get overseas.  Often the team will provide things like sheets, towels, blankets and cooking supplies.  But we may have to fill in on these areas. Almost every year we buy fans (we like our noise when we sleep!), a hairdryer, a hand mixer and other bigger items. We also buy a few bigger things for the kids. This year, Abby and Elijah each got a small desk, plus we got at various times a cash register, baby stroller, basketball hoop, basketballs, hula hoop, soccer ball, coloring books, etc. Since we have a budget category for these things, we feel ok about leaving them behind if we need to.

• ____towels, bathrobes
• ____sheets, comforters
• ____hair dryer
• ____hair brushes and combs
• ____hand mixer
• ____additional pots, pans or baking dishes
• ____kitchen towels, hot pads, sponges, cloths
• ____fans
• ____Swiffer stick and other cleaning supplies
• ____plastic bins and containers
• ____toys

So that is the basics of our packing for coming abroad.  Each time I do it, it gets easier and I simplify even more!