Category Archives: Family


Currently my whole immediate family, including my grandma, are in Chicago and I’m here in Dakar. Boo. The statement “give an arm and a leg” fits perfectly. But I can’t do that so I’m coping. Here are some of my effective and not so effective methods. You can decide which is which.

Ice cream- makes you feel better any time! Magnums would be acceptable too.

Do something- we helped our friends unload their container. By we, I mean Travis and I pretended to be helping!

Check Instagram and Facebook- check to see how much fun they are having, what food they’re enjoying and how adorable my nieces are.

WhatsApp them-just so they remember that your missing and still a part of the family.

Listen to Ellie Holcomb on Pandora-singing along and remembering a bigger picture.

“Shop”- the container mentioned above included a box for us with clothes I had ordered (and other good things like coffee). I felt less sad after seeing and trying them on!

Skype-makes you feel a little bit like you are there.

Cry-haven’t done this yet (maybe a tear or two) but it seriously does help.

Coping is something we all have to do and I’m happy my family gets to be together, but I’m still working on the me not being there part.


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The Parental Visit

When leaving to come to Dakar, I wasn’t super concerned about what was waiting for me on the other end, but more who I was saying good-bye to.  A little bit of background: I couldn’t spend the night until I was in 5th grade because I didn’t want to be away from my parents, I threw up in the airport when I returned to the States after Christmas for my second semester of my freshman year in college because I was so distraught about being away from my family, and I continue to dread saying goodbye for a week ahead of time. Needless to say, I am extremely attached to my family (which has gotten better!). Originally when we came we were going to go 2 years without seeing my family, but there were little gifts along the way. Trav’s family has come to Dakar a  few times every year and his sister went to school at Dakar Academy our first year, my sister and her family were going to be in Madrid so we got to spend a week with them exploring Madrid, we went home during summer our second year, then got to go back at Christmas for a family Christmas, and now my parents’ travelling schedule brought them here to Senegal to see our life here. I told Travis that I have seen God’s faithfulness and love for me in the times He has allowed me to see my family and his family since moving to Dakar. This visit from my parents was a huge blessing!!

Having my parents here was so fun! It was their first time in Senegal and they got to see our life. It is hard to explain what life is like here until you can see it. It is also fun because it makes you go and do things that you might  not do without someone here. We went to Goree, N’gor Island, up to Saint Louis for a stay at a B&B and to see an Alliance team (a four hour drive), and all around Dakar. On top of that they got to meet important people to us, helped me pack up my classroom, and treated us to an anniversary dinner. It is interesting to see Dakar and our lives here through a set of fresh eyes, things that you have just gotten used to like filtering water, shopping at three different places, and driving in crazy traffic (although I will never really get used to that). Here are some more pictures from our time! You can click on them to make them bigger. Thanks Mom and Dad for working it out to come here!


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#flashback friday

Yes, we are still alive and yes I have been a terrible blogger. Teaching pretty much consumes my brain so sometimes I can’t think of what else to write about. But thankfully today is Friday so I can do a flashback because it just wouldn’t work on any other day. While Trav’s parents were here over spring break, we went to an island here called N’gor. It is short boat ride and is a wonderful place to spend the day. We walked up the beach, through the houses (the doors are  great throughout the island), and to the the cliffs that over look the water. Then, we walked down to the tide pools. I so wish I could take my students there because we could talk about the ecosystem that is in that tiny space. Travis and Hannah saw an eel poke its head out. We walked back down to the beach and enjoyed a nice meal of brochettes, which was yummy. Ruth (Trav’s mom) has to eat gluten free and she was able to eat too! After an enjoyable day of hanging out on the island, we went back to normal reality and my wish to have a weekend house on an island somewhere!

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dakar’s fun family excursion

Trav’s family is in town visiting and we have been doing different things everyday like Acrobobab (a high ropes course), Ngor Island, and then today we visited a museum downtown (thanks to a recommendation by a friend!) that is having a children’s museum exhibit. I was a tad bit apprehensive about what is was going to be like, but we had a blast. You can get into the exhibit for free, but you can give a donation. We started by going through a normal museum exhibit about the problem of plastic in Senegal and it showed ways they used to use things instead of plastic. It was really interesting! It was a short exhibit and then you move onto the interactive and imagination part of it. The interactive part is open on Wednesday for schools and Saturday for families. They have an imagination lab where they challenge you to invent something. They give tons of different options, so Hannah (Trav’s little sister) decided to make a fan that could roll around with her while in Abidjan. You go through the design process by brainstorming, creating a prototype and then presenting it to the group (or your family!). It turned into a family affair as we worked together to help Hannah create her prototype. Yann, the man helping to run it, spoke really good English and did an awesome job engaging Hannah in thinking about inventing. He has a passion for helping Senegalese children learn to use their imaginations! It was really fun and of course since it was downtown it also involved a Nice Cream stop!! All in all I was super impressed and hope to take my class back!





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Saying goodbye. ..

Goodbye is one of the most dreaded words to me. That doesn’t bode well for someone living internationally. Sometimes I wonder if it is worth it and I wonder why I even do it. Sitting in JFK with a familiar ache, knowing it will be too long until I hang out with my sisters, talk sports with my Dad, hug my Mom, and play games with Trav’s family, I wish my life included a white picket fence and family down the block. Why do I do this? Why the goodbyes?  Honestly the answers I give myself don’t really cut it or make me feel better. So I am instead trying to be thankful for: a Christmas with family, singing Donald’s house with my niece, going shopping with the Julian ladies, wonderful family on both sides,  Skype, a new smartphone to stay connected, and a pictures to remind me of the wonderful memories.  I am still sad and would prefer to see my family weekly instead of yearly, but I am thankful too for a Christmas that didn’t have to happen, but did and a God who knew that my heart needed it.

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sugar and spice and everything nice…

That is what little girls are made of. I had the chance to get to know my nieces over this Christmas break and I had the time of my life. These little girls are too cute for words and provided us with lots of laughs and happiness.  Things I loved to hear were: play me, play me; you’re so cute (talking to her baby sister and to her uncle Travis); I’m scary (instead of I’m scared); I nice, I nice; pajaso (clown in spanish). My favorite memory was during bath time. My niece, Lucia, was taking a bath and I was going in to check on her. So I started talking to her. As I started to leave, she yelled from the tub, “Hey I love you!” I yelled back, ” I love you more!!” These two little girls stole my heart and made it even harder to know that my family lives on 3 continents and that isn’t going to be changing any time soon, but the time we had together was wonderful and being separated makes the time together that much more special.

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great gifts…

This Christmas I have gotten two awesome gifts and Christmas hasn’t even gotten here yet! The first was a gift from one my students. A hand embroidered gift! He was sick one week and he and his mom worked on this together while he was at home.


Isn’t it the greatest! I thought it was so precious!

Second, my Christmas trip to the States. We are having a family Christmas in Colorado! My gift is getting to see this adorable girls:

We leave tonight and I can’t wait! Christmas is the best!

Ps. My niece can dance like a champ. Check it out here!

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