Now He is Six

When I was one,
I had just begun.

Judah 018100_3780When I was two,
I was nearly new.

100_0632When I was three,
I was hardly me.

100_5458When I was four,
I was not much more.

100_7716When I was five,
I was just alive.

100_9277100_9367But now I am six,
I’m as clever as clever.

IMG_0407So I think I’ll be six
now for ever and ever.

by A. A. Milne

…And then he was six.

So soon.

And yet already he can’t wait to be seven. I wonder sometimes, is it just the birthday excitement he wants? If we gave him presents every day, would he want to slow down this fastness then?

I tell him to enjoy being the age he is, that kids get to spend much of their day playing and have far less to worry about, even if sometimes they do get time outs and often get decisions made for them instead of being the one to decide whether to have peas or carrots for dinner (or darn it, no vegetables, just cookies this time, thank you very much) or what time to go to bed… but still.  Still, he longs for the next age and the next and the next, while I long to hold on to each year a little longer.

Maybe Chris and I just make this grown up, parenting thing look so easy.  Yeah, that must be it.  (Cough cough.)

Well, no matter – happy birthday to our fast growing boy!  This boy delights us, tries us, stretches us and amazes us daily.  He is smart and silly, cautious and adventurous, full of questions that challenge us and make us think, and he has an insatiable desire to learn…. I love that he loves playing soccer and baseball and riding bikes as much as he loves reading and school.  (In fact, one of the things he wanted to do for his birthday today – despite being sick and even though it was his birthday and he could choose anything he wanted – was “have school.”)  We pray that as each day passes he will continue to grow in the fear and knowledge of the Lord and in favor with God and man.  Happy birthday, dear Judah!

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Our Little MKs

Our little MKs

Our little MKs

In our latest newsletter (Let us know if you don’t receive it but would like to—it is being sent out this weekend.), we talked about how Judah and Jovelle might struggle with various facets of being back in the U.S. We’ve continued that train of thought here with a longer list. Kudos to our friends Paul and Kelly who gave permission to adapt this idea that was from their own newsletter.

Some things our kids might have to learn (or re-learn) and adjust to:

  • That it’s probably not appropriate to run around barefoot in underwear and diapers (nor very smart—particularly in a Northern Michigan winter!).
  • That they are—shock!—not a novelty and the center of attention when they’re anywhere in public.
  • How to go to a zoo and not stick their hands in the cages to feed the elephants or monkeys from their hands.

Feeding chimps out of your hand…a typical day at the zoo in Nigeria.

  • That every child they meet in America does not go to their playgroup and may not want to be their friend.
  • How to meet loads of new people in a short amount of time—and speak and react appropriately every time they meet someone new.
  • That receiving mail in the United States is not nearly as exciting as it is in Nigeria (and usually doesn’t contain snacks from their grandparents).
  • That being with family in person is WAY better than just talking on Skype (especially since Grandma can’t change diapers virtually!).
  • That those carrots in the store are NOT a free gift and actually have to be purchased!
  • That home is where Mommy and Daddy are, not necessarily a particular place.
  • How to leave behind almost everything they know and experience new things every day.

We are grateful for the time we will get to spend with our family and friends in the States and so looking forward to it. We know, though, that in some ways for Judah and Jovelle, going back to the U.S. is not exactly going home (though Judah has observed that we are blessed to have two homes), so we appreciate your patience and grace if they don’t always act in ways that seem appropriate.

Game Time!

Some of you may know that Chris and I really like board games (though we have less and less energy to actually do anything about that like these days, as we tend to be wiped out after putting the kids to bed). One of our favorites is Settlers of Catan (which is a good thing because it’s a bit of a cult classic on the mission field), and we’ve been awaiting the day we could teach it to Judah.

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For those of you unfamiliar with Settlers, it’s a strategy game (well, and luck, since how you fare also depends on the roll of the dice!) in which you get commodities, trade commodities and build things to earn points. You earn commodities based on what is rolled and whether you have a “property” placed on said number rolled. There is more to the game, of course, but that’s the gist of it.

Judah likes to get out the Settlers board (and especially the add-on to it, a game called Seafarers, but mainly because there are little wooden boats that he likes to play with) and pretend to play, so we decided we would try to play with him, knowing it probably wouldn’t go terribly well. We were pleasantly surprised, though! Now, he’s not quite ready to play on his own, nor does he quite get the strategy, but it was really fun seeing his little wheels turn and watching him grasp some of the concepts of the game. He did great at counting the numbers on the dice, recognizing the numbers on the board, figuring out what commodities he had earned based on the dice, figuring out what he could buy with what he had (and what he needed to try to get), paying the bank and even trading.

Without any instruction, Judah got straight to work setting up the board on his own. I loved seeing him so focused and intent!

Without any instruction, Judah got straight to work setting up the board on his own. I loved seeing him so focused and intent!

Some of my favorite moments of playing with him:

*Watching him so intently study the “price list” to determine if he and Chris (they played on a team) had the correct cards to buy what he wanted to buy. I was surprised at how quickly he caught on to this and was able to compare what they had with what they needed.

Studying the "price list"

Studying the “price list”

*Judah played on a team with Chris, and on their first turn, they had enough to buy what they called a “special card” and were one card short of what they needed to build something. Chris asked Judah several times what he wanted to do, and Judah said, “Let’s wait until our next turn to see if we get the other card.” We were really surprised that he passed up the instant gratification! (As a side note, Chris kept asking about the “special card” because he would have bought the card himself. I would’ve held out for the building. 🙂 Guess Judah does have some mommy traits after all!)

*I offered to trade them a card. Judah looked at his cards, studied the price list and said, “No, Mommy, we need our brick, right, Daddy?”

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*On another turn, I offered another trade, but both Judah and Chris said no, so I counteroffered with two cards to trade. Judah’s eyes lit up at the thought of getting not one but two cards, and he exclaimed, “Okay!” Wonder if that same strategy would work to distract Judah from wanting a cookie – I’ll see you TWO carrots for one cookie…. Hmmm…..

Studying the cards (propped up by interlocking building blocks)

Studying the cards (propped up by interlocking building blocks)

Anyway, it was a fun time, and we look forward to more game playing with the kids. 🙂

….Oh, and one of Jovelle, who wanted to get in on the picture taking action, too.

Jovelle, (mostly) happily spectating

Jovelle, (mostly) happily spectating

Kid Quips

Jovelle, who just turned 2 in March, is talking up a storm, and we have so much fun listening to the things she comes up. As an English major, I find myself fascinated with how language develops and the construction of sentences, too – “Where is Daddy went?,” for example, and the time she used three tenses of verbs in one sentence.

Here are some recent things Judah and Jovelle have said.

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Grandpa trying to teach Jovelle her name:
• Grandpa: Jo
• Jovelle: Jo
• Grandpa: -velle
• Jovelle: -velle
• Grandpa: Jo-velle
• Jovelle: ME!

(Repeat above conversation several times over the span of several days.)

Judah proudly showing the plane he drew. (Actually, Chris and I were pretty impressed with it ourselves!)

Judah proudly showing the plane he drew. (Actually, Chris and I were pretty impressed with it ourselves!)

Judah, on shoes with velcro straps: You’re wearing your crunchy shoes?

Judah, on diversity: Mommy, all people in the whole world have the same teeth and the same tongue but different skin, right?

Judah, on sleeveless shirts: Why are you wearing that shirt? So someone can get your arm pit?

Judah, on growing older:
• Pointing to his arm: Daddy, look, see, my hair’s growing in!
• You’ve been old for ages, right, Daddy?
• My half birthday is coming up, and then soon I’ll be five, and that’s how growing works.

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Judah, on birth: First you start out in God’s mind, then you are in your mommy’s tummy, then when you come out and no one has seen you before, you’re called a newborn, and that’s how being born works.

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Jovelle
When scared: I’m too scary!
After sneezing: I blessed, Mommy.
After hurting herself: Sorry, me!
After eating a mango from the tree: My mango is NAKED!

Judah:
• Somebody broke this on accident. I think it was me.
• Pouring water: Mommy, I poured too much water, and I drank all of the too much.

On seeing the cow heads and other parts at the meat market:

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Jovelle, pointing to the heads: He has boo boo! Need band-aid!

Looking a little less than thrilled....

Looking a little less than thrilled….

And Judah, much less concerned about the cows, sighing: I like meat.

Our Trip to the States: Getting There

Many of you know we recently went back to the States for a wedding (Hooray for beautiful brides, amazing grooms and an exquisite location that gave us a great excuse to travel back!). We have been back for a little more than a month now (Has it only been a month or so?!), but we have been a bit quiet in that month, as our internet situation has changed. We don’t have internet at our house anymore, but I am able to go into the office about once a week, sometimes more, to use the internet. There is often such a long list of things to do, though, that it’s been hard to be consistent about updating. (On the other hand, my e-mail account is not as full as it used to be. Shocking revelation: If you don’t e-mail people and unsubscribe to all those e-mails you signed up for to get coupons for free meals for your birthday, you don’t really get many e-mails.)

So… our trip to the States.

We had a good but whirlwind trip back to the States… despite a rocky start as I travelled back with the kids and without Chris, who joined us about 2 1/2 weeks later in California. Our trip to Florida was almost a comedy of errors (though I wasn’t really laughing at the time): I got quite sick on the plane to Germany and was given oxygen, a row to myself to lie down and some amazing grace as the wonderful flight attendants and other passengers took care of the kids. I felt absolutely horrible and could barely lift my head… then when I could, it was only to throw up and use the bathroom. Usually I don’t even like having coughing fits in front of people, but this time all pride went out the window; I had no control over my body.

The kids, however, were amazing: Judah, who is quite wary of strangers, usually refusing to go near people he doesn’t know, must have sensed something (Well, DID sense something, as he later said, “Mommy, I thought you were going to die.” Poor precious little thing!), as he allowed others to help take care of him. Jovelle, who is often clingy with me, allowed the flight attendants to put her in a bassinet, where she slept a good portion of the flight.

When we got to Germany, I was taken to an on-site clinic, where I was given an IV for severe dehydration, then taken to an area where they insisted I lay down and sleep while a child care team watched the children. That lasted about 20 minutes before Judah wanted to play with ME, not THEM.

Germany held its own chaos, though: There was a snowstorm that closed down the airport, so we were stuck there – along with a convention that left minimal hotel rooms in the area (that all too quickly filled up with people from the airport who were much faster than I was to book. The line for the hotel services was wrapped around a corner until finally a worker came and made an announcement: “There are absolutely NO hotel rooms left in Frankfurt. None.” And no, they wouldn’t let us sleep in the janitor’s closet, as some people inquired. (I’m not going to lie – I was about to be one of them before someone beat me to it.)) and tons of other people. I have been in airports where flights have been cancelled because of bad weather, but this was sheer madness. The lines for customer service were at least a mile long, and the lines to get into the airline’s first class lounges were quite long as well. People were sleeping (or futilely trying to) EVERYWHERE in the airport. Madness.

…And this is where the fact that I had been sick on the plane came in quite handy. By this point I had been “released,” but I knew I could get a faint internet signal by the place I had been taken care of earlier that day. I sat outside writing an e-mail to Chris when a woman inside this room came out, saw me by myself with two kids and said, “We have extra room in here. Would you like to stay here for the night?” Amazing grace, indeed! The kids and I shared a huge floor pillow, blankets and even pillows in a dark room with 2 other families, which was attached to a room with water, snacks, toys for the kids and bathrooms with changing tables. We actually slept that night. Soundly.

Our cozy sleeping quarters in the Frankfurt airport

Our cozy sleeping quarters in the Frankfurt airport

They even let us call Chris the next morning to check in (He also wanted to tell Jovelle happy birthday. Ironically enough, we were stuck in airports because of flights cancelled due to snow for both of our children’s second birthdays. Jovelle’s ended up in some manipulation of birthdates in the computer because kids fly free – before they are two. And apparently not ON their second birthday.). Another reality check came when Chris said, “I’m so glad to hear your voice, but I thought you’d be at the gate by now.” “No, our flight isn’t until this afternoon, but we’re not even guaranteed to be on it. We’re on standby on our original flight to Orlando.”

“Um, no you’re not. Not according to the airline’s website, anyway. I’ve been checking your account, and you guys leave in about an hour for Miami.”

WHAAAAAT?!?!? Despite my passport having been entered in the computer in the room where we were staying, despite several inquiries about our flight and whether we could, well, even GET one, no one had even MENTIONED this flight as a possibility to me, much less confirmed it.

The birthday girl - two years old (Well, one year and 364 days, according to her new birthdate given by the airlines....)

The birthday girl – two years old (Well, one year and 364 days, according to her new birthdate given by the airlines….)

I quickly got off the phone and turned to the woman at the desk to do some investigating, and yup, we were leaving for Miami and not Orlando (which meant yet another delay, but we’d deal with that later). Soon. And Judah was still sleeping in the dark room, no one was dressed, and….

Turns out Germany was actually an hour behind, so we had less than two hours before the flight and not one, but we tore from the room and proceeded to the gate, stopping quickly to get breakfast on the go with our meal vouchers.

…And then our flight into Miami arrived over an hour late and without several of our bags, both our car seats and one stroller. The crew made us wait to confirm that our bags had not made it, while I listened to what could only be the magnified sound of the clock ticking away. No one thought to mention that we had to go through security lines again, no one escorted us, despite the airline’s fault of the delayed flight and luggage…. So I hauled myself and a carry-on, a backpack and two kids to security, trying to find an employee who could help. Let’s just say that European customer service was looking mighty good at this point, as I found lots of computerized check-ins but only a handful of actual people.

Finally someone came to help, and I was in a panic. They tried to rush me through security, but it still took a while. A couple TSA agents tried to flag down a guy in a golf cart to take me to the gate – which was, of course, on the clear other side of the airport – but he refused, saying we had not filled out a form. They finally convinced him, but by the time we got to the gate, the plane was gone. Long gone. And the next one that I could get on, as I was kindly informed by the not-at-all-helpful-or-friendly customer “service” rep at the American Airlines counter (Not feeling the American Airlines love these days….) was the last flight of the day to Orlando around 10:30 pm. Six hours to go. With several of them spent with non-helpful counter reps who didn’t seem to care that I really did not miss this flight on purpose, no, honestly, I did not. I could, they suggested, leave the secure area and talk to someone who might care about this, then go back through the security lines, but otherwise, too bad. In Germany people were offered meal vouchers, though certainly inclement weather is no fault of theirs, and yet in this situation, there were no vouchers offered, never mind that it was dinner time – but beyond that, there was not even an attitude of helpfulness. (That was me not whining and complaining and being content in all circumstances – can’t you tell?)

Since our stroller didn't make it, we improvised and loaded up a luggage cart... and since we had a bit of time before our flight in Miami, we road the train.  A lot.

Since our stroller didn’t make it, we improvised and loaded up a luggage cart… and since we had a bit of time before our flight in Miami, we road the train. A lot.

Nightmare. So much for good ol’ American customer service.

I just bawled. It was about all I could take at this point – so close, yet so far away. Driving there would take less time than our wait in the airport.

At the end of it, though, something cool did come out of it: I got my first peek in a first class lounge, courtesy of a kind soul. We took (free) showers, had (free) snacks in the lounge and checked (free) e-mail (Most of the messages were from Chris and my best friend, an exchange that basically amounted to “What on earth is going on out there, Christie?!”).

Konked out in the first class lounge

Konked out in the first class lounge

And finally, finally, in Orlando after a quick flight (Well, 60+ hours after leaving and about 2 days after we were supposed to arrive.), then to my parents’ house around 2 am (an hour drive from the airport, delayed again because only one of our bags made it).

They were so excited to take a bath the morning after we got there (We don't have a tub) - the waaaaaay too early morning - that they climbed in pajamas and all.

They were so excited to take a bath the morning after we got there (We don’t have a tub) – the waaaaaay too early morning – that they climbed in pajamas and all.

Whew. Well, I’m tired just writing all this, so I will end and continue with more updates later.

And don’t worry – the trip got much better!

Outdoor Adventures

Just a note that we have been trying to post regularly, but our internet has been pretty bad.  After six hours in the office one day, I was able to send only two e-mails – and not for lack of trying, as most of the day was spent trying to use the internet!  Please be patient with us as we will post when we are able to – or maybe we will re-evaluate and just give up and conclude that God wants our energies focused elsewhere! 😉  Like on hiking and other family activities…. 😉 

This past weekend we joined another family for a little hiking adventure.  Now, this isn’t hard core hiking like what Chris used to do, but we had such a wonderful time.  Jos actually has some beautiful landscapes (I know, it’s shockingly not all desert in Africa! 😉 ), and it was absolutely amazing to be outside and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation.  We even had a worship service outside on the rocks (but not because we skipped going to church, of course.  Of course.).  The kids had such a good time; Judah’s favorite part was “being the leader.”  At one point, Judah led me, then Chris and Jovelle, along, scoping out the best paths to take (and wisely ascertaining that the drop off the side of one rock was too high to climb down).   During our hike, Judah sighed, “I like hiking.  We never go hiking.”

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Too true.  Well, mostly true.  We have gone a couple times, but it’s been ages.  Our hope, though, is to change that and take better advantage of this beautiful place that God has us living in right now by going on at least one hike a month.

Judah was so cute guiding Jovelle....

Judah was so cute guiding Jovelle….

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Honestly, I felt exhilarated – I had forgotten how much I enjoy being outside (maybe because in Florida I tend to avoid it because, though I love the outdoors, I’m not a big fan of melting into large pools of sweat.).  I feel most connected to God when I am in the midst of His creation, and I felt so peaceful as we walked and climbed.  Though dry season has left much of the green grass and plants a dull brown, our hike was still filled with vibrant colors.  The sky was a brilliant shade of blue (though you’d never know it from some of our pictures), and the water sparkled various shades of blue and green.  Even the rocks boasted various colors: Some were bright red, much like the red rocks in Las Vegas that I climbed with a friend who lives there, some were gray and some were white.  Chris even found some limestone with cool layers, as well as purple rocks, and Judah and I found rocks tinted with shades of green and orange.  God’s creation is so amazing and diverse, and I love how His creation points to His creativity and power.

Daddy and Jovelle

Daddy and Jovelle

Mommy and Judah

Mommy and Judah

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We are so grateful we spontaneously decided to join our friends (It was actually kind of funny, as for the first time in ages, we were dressed and ready for church BEFORE church actually started – about 30-45 minutes before, even.  We got a text from our friends inviting us to join them for a family adventure and outdoor worship, and we were slightly torn: Take advantage of being dressed, all bags packed and actually ready to leave for church or go with our friends?  It didn’t take us too long to decide to join them, and we were ever so thankful we did!  And actually, because we went on a Sunday, it was really quiet.  We were the only ones out there, whereas on any other day, there can be quite a number of people, some with generators and water pumps getting water from the “lakes,” some washing clothes and some just hanging out – but most all staring at the group of white people who are doing none of those things but are just walking.  With no seeming destination in mind, no less.  Strange.), and we are looking forward to more hiking adventures and to exploring more of God’s beautiful creation.

I love this picture of them - they were having so much fun, just giggling up a storm....

I love this picture of them – they were having so much fun, just giggling up a storm….

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Is it just me or has anyone else noticed that in just about every family picture we’ve taken, Jovelle looks like she would rather not be a part of this family??

Foodie Friday: You Ate What??

Besides frequent torrents of rain, the beginning of rainy season brings with it an onslaught of flying termites – but only for a few days, making these creatures quite the delicacy in Nigeria.  Honestly, I have never seen anything like it: Hundreds and hundreds of termites swarming by our front door, porch lights and outside.

They’re attracted to light…. (I will spare you the bad analogies running through my head….)

And the excitement of the Nigerians catching them!  Oh, you should have seen the excited (and determined!) looks on their faces!  It’s amazing to me that these insects are out in such mass quantities for such a short time, and just like that, they’re gone.  This year on our compound  there didn’t even seem to be as many hard core termite catching days as in past years that we’ve heard about; there was one night of swarms, then maybe 2-3 nights of just a handful.

Which explains the focused determination of those catching them.  Even the guards on the compound were swooping termites into buckets – it was actually quite an amusing (and fascinating) sight.  Chris went to ask one of the guards a question, and he answered while continuing to rapidly fire termites into their holding tank.  Chris thought the guard was going to come with him to show him how to do something, but the guard clearly thought nothing of the sort, as he kept on gathering away in a frenzy.

Our front porch was littered with wings for days….

…And the side porch….

.

…But when I saw how quickly the termites were gone, I can’t say I blame them.  For the most part, Nigerians love this snack (fried being the cooking method choice here.  I suppose the sentiment is the same as in the States: Fry anything and it will taste good.), and if peanut butter cups were falling from the sky and pouring down an annual yield that would disappear in a few days, I’m pretty sure I would be abandoning the “gather enough manna for one day” philosophy.  In fact, I would probably be abandoning everything for some focused peanut butter cup gathering.  (Oh, can you imagine?!  Raining peanut butter cups!  Orange packages beautifying the sky!  Oh, man!!)  (Wait a minute!  Maybe that’s why I devoured those peanut butter cups that came from lands far away when Chris’s parents came to visit and brought these foreign delicacies!  Grandpa and Grandma Plane probably misconstrued my rapid, greedy consumption as gluttony, but really, it’s like the termites that come a mere once a year, and the only response to such goodness coming so infrequently is to hurriedly gather and consume them.  Whew!  I was almost beginning to doubt my self-control, but I see now that I am simply adapting to the culture in which I am living.)

Chris and Judah got caught up in the frenzy, too, and decided that since everyone raved about fried termites, they would catch and cook some, too.  The guards used straw brooms to sweep up the bugs, but Chris and Judah’s purposes were served just as well with a butterfly net.  Granted, they weren’t nearly as fast as the guards, but they haven’t had years of practice (or motivation from having developed a taste for them).  Eventually they developed a system, though: Chris would run around trying to swoop his net over the termites while Judah would scream with delight (or terror if they got too close), “There’s another one, Daddy!  Oh, you missed it!  Daddy, right there!  Oh, you missed it!  YAY!  You got it!  {Squeal!}  We have special snack!  We going to eat term…. ANOTHER ONE, DADDY!”  I stood by and watched (such a good helpmate, aren’t I?), then Grandpa and I grabbed cameras to photograph the spectacle.  Grandma stayed inside trying not to think about it.

Finally they came in like hunters with their catch and headed straight to the kitchen, where Chris promptly began frying these bad boys.  I don’t know if it took some of the manliness of the hunt away when he was unable to proudly thump in and present his woman with his finds for her to cook, but I had no desire to cook termites.  Actually, they’re lucky I let them use the good frying pan.  (I must say, though, this was probably the shortest amount of time between the “harvesting” and eating of a food for us non-gardening, non-animal-slaughtering people.  (Again, unless you count the immediate consumption of peanut butter cups.))  I felt so in touch with the land and all that other jazz.

Crisping up (Oh, speaking of cooking termites…. One of our friends actually plucks the termites right out of the air, pops them in his mouth and spits out the wings. And he’s British! When I tell some of my Nigerian friends that, they gasp, “He’s white?! I don’t even do that!” Richard, you’re a legend!  😉 )

Hmmm…..

Interestingly, you don’t need oil to fry the termites because they are so naturally oily.  (And have the highest iron content of any of the most commonly eaten bugs in Africa.  (Yeah, I looked it up.  Hard to believe such a tiny little thing can pack such an iron punch.  Although I guess vitamins do, so why not God-created termites?  (Hmmm…. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?)))

Also interestingly, they smell like pancakes when they are cooking.  I mean uncannily similar to pancakes.

Judah had been talking all evening about eating termites and was SO excited about it… in theory.  (I, however, was not even excited about the theory.)  When Chris plucked one out of the frying pan, de-winged it and cooled it for Judah, he had second thoughts, though: “No, you first, Daddy.”

“You first, Daddy!”

So Chris went first and really liked it.  I think we were all a bit surprised.  That was all the encouragement Judah needed to try, and he was hooked, too.  In fact, after that, Chris could not cook them fast enough for Judah.  Almost as soon as Chris would remove them from the pan, Judah wanted another one.

Mikey likes it!

(Say, how many more years do you think we have left on the Mikey references before people no longer get it?) (Oh, and for the dentists who might be reading this, that is thankfully not a cavity in his tooth but bug remnants. Thankfully, right?!)

I’m not going to lie, though: I was not as adventuresome.  I have shied away from eating bugs since my childhood days of bike riding at dusk and ending up with an uninvited mouthful of gnats, and to be honest, even the claims of so many Nigerians – followed by Chris and Judah devouring them – did not tempt me in the least to try.  Yup, not even to TRY.  (“I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them, Sam-I-Am….”)  I have spent a lifetime squashing bugs, and it ain’t so easy for a girl to dismiss that ingrained response.

So do I regret not trying them?  Nah.  But next year come termite time, I might offer to cook them so my guys can catch more.

(Now comes the part where you comment and tell us the strangest thing you ever ate.  Did you like it?  Not like it?  Did you vomit in your mouth while you pretended to love it so you didn’t offend someone?)  Or maybe you have a green eggs and ham story to share (like I never ate mangoes before coming here because they looked slimy, and I love them now!)…. Respond away!