A Day Late and A Dollar Short

In case you didn’t hear about it on someone’s Instagram, SnapChat or FB post, this past Saturday (August 10) was “National S’mores Day.” I didn’t think about it too much at the beginning of the year when I was creating cute little calendars for my four children to hold onto for the 2019 year.  I was just trying to add as many fun and interesting “celebrations” as I could find for my kids to enjoy.

It wasn’t until the beginning of August as we finished settling into our new home in Ankara, Turkey, that it hit me that there might be groups of people celebrating this gooey and sticky tradition who might be interested in playing a card game to go along with their sweet tooth (as soon as they wash the melted marshmallow and chocolate smears off their hands).

Now, this isn’t a card game that you will find in your traditional stores.  Stephen created the game with the help of a computer art designer, and he bought the copyright so that he could sell the game through the on-line game site known as “www.gamecrafter.com” at the following site:


First, picture yourselves playing this game as your stomach digests graham cracker mixed with chocolate and marshmallow.  As you and your fellow card holders flick cards into a middle pile, you wait patiently for a graham cracker card to be laid down, followed by a marshmallow card and a chocolate card and then finally another graham cracker so that you can slap the deck before anyone else does.  You either hope to win by collecting all the cards in the deck or gaining three coins (one for every s’more that you smash).  It’s a fast pace and fun game for everyone.
smashinsmores_cardssmashinsmores_frontcard(the cost for one deck of cards is less than $7 dollars USD!)

Secondly, remember that every deck of cards that is purchased is helping our family to regain our financial foothold as we transition into our new jobs as Christian workers in an international school in Ankara, Turkey.

I know I am a few days late to be advertising for National S’mores Day.  We are most definitely more than a few dollars short of living “in the black” when it comes to our financial situation.  We are amazed at the ways in which God has supplied our needs over and over again. Several people have stepped up and given us generous donations to help us with our big international move from Far East Asia to the Middle East.  But we are struggling with debt and the gap in our salary between our jobs that ended in early June and this new one that technically does not begin until the beginning of September.

If you cannot support us on a monthly basis, consider purchasing this fun game that you can play with family and friends, knowing that the money you used to make your purchase is helping us with our moving costs and getting started in this new adventure of learning a new culture and language.

Take a moment to visit the site to find out how to make this fantastic game your own:


If you are interested in helping us out beyond purchasing our game, you can click here to find out how to help us on a one time basis or a monthly basis.




World Cup Fever

I have to take a few minutes to go back in time to the beginning of June.  It was the last month of school.  The world was getting prepared for the most televised soccer games in the past four years.  The FIFA World Cup of Soccer was being hosted in South Africa which was seven hours ahead of us in Quito. 

The normal afternoon and evening games, taking place in South Africa, were played in the early morning hours and early afternoon hours in Quito. 

The first day, a game started at 9am and a second game started at 1:30pm.  My first class of the day started at 10:35, which was right at the half-time of the game.  When I strode into my classroom, I could feel the excitement among the students as they talked about the first half of the game between France and South Africa.  They turned to beg me to let them see the game.  They were currently working on a final project for the class, so I was feeling more lenient toward them.  I made it clear to them that they would have one less day to work on their project if they watched the game instead.  They said they didn’t mind.  So, I brought all 12 students back to my home to watch the game.  (Living on campus allowed me to do with without taking my students off campus.)

After lunch, my sixth period class began at 1pm.  But there was an excitement and energy in the air about the upcoming game.  A few teachers had brought their television sets from home to hook up in their classrooms so that students could watch the game as they studied.  (Studied? Ha!)

I told my students that they had to complete the day’s assignment before 1:30 if they wanted to watch the beginning of the game.  To my surprise, they all finished.  This time, we headed up to the library where AV center was also playing the game. 

The rest of the afternoon, I was stricter on my students.  My middle school computer students really didn’t have the time to take away from working on their final projects.  However, I had some very grumpy students for the rest of the day. 

It was very interesting to watch the way everything seemed to come to a halt during the times the games were taking place.  A few years ago, AAI put up a television screen just inside the entrance to the school for putting up special announcements.  However, they began to use this television to let students watch the games between classes or if they had a study hall. For two weeks there was a game every day at 6:30am, 9am and 1:30pm.  Each one of these games went into class time.  It was hard for the teachers who were trying to keep their kids focused in class.  However, the good news was that students had no reason not to do their homework at night, because the games were finished by the time school was over. 

During that time, I watched as many of the games as I could (when I wasn’t in class).  The boys got used to a routine of seeing the television on when they woke up in the morning.  Cristina taught Jared how to recognize when a goal was made.  It wasn’t too difficult.  Especially since the announcer would start screaming, “GOOOOOOOAAAAALLLL!” for nearly two minutes after the goal was scored. 

There is nothing like watching world cup soccer games in a country where soccer is most popular sport around.

Let’s Have a Ball

Jared and his Basketball Pinata

Jared and his Basketball Pinata

Cristina had been planning for Jared’s birthday party for nearly three months.  She began to plan it before the school year ended, because she wanted to find out how many of the staff’s families with young children would be around for it.  Jared’s birthday falls on July 25th, which is right in the middle of summer vacation.

After several families responded that they would be available to come to a party on Friday, July 24th, Cristina sent out invitations and began to plan out the party theme, “Let’s Have a Ball.” 

One of Jared’s favorite toys is a ball.  It doesn’t matter the size or type.  Jared loves to play with circular objects. When Jared was first learning how to say the word, “ball,” he would wake up in the morning whispering it to himself. 

“Ball….ball….ball,” we could hear him say through his baby monitor.

Naturally, Cristina wanted to create a theme around this fascination. She purchased goody-bags and put basketball, soccer and football stickers all them.  She found little hacky sacks in the shapes of different balls and little toys that matched the theme.

Jared's birthday cake

Jared's birthday cake

She ordered a birthday cake that would have gumballs around the edges and little sponge soccer ball stuck in the middle of the cake. This matched the little soccer ball candles she had purchased in the U.S. during their summer vacation.

She was also able to find a piñata in the shape of a basketball.  Since Jared would be celebrating his birthday in Ecuador, she wanted to follow the Latin custom of having a swinging piñata that the kids could attempt to hit and break.  Breaking it open would allow the treats and candies inside to spill to the ground.

When the day arrived, Jared helped his mom put up balloons and streamers all over the house.  Then, dad took Jared out to the playground to wait for his birthday party guests to arrive. 

Although some families had to cancel at the last minute, two families brought their children over in time to join the fun and games.  They played with Jared’s wide collection of plastic balls in the playground, before coming inside for a snack and an “inside game.” 

It was very interesting for Cristina to try to teach toddlers how to play “Pin the Tail on the Donkey.”  A few of the children were too shy to make an attempt.  In that case, Jared took their tail for them and stuck them up randomly on the poster.  Jared had a hard time understanding that you were supposed to put the tail ON the donkey’s rear end.  He just liked to stick them anywhere on the poster.

After admiring the donkey with nine tails, we all went outside again for a few more games.  We had a little race around the dorm building.  Every kid who crossed the finish line received a metal around his neck, because “anyone who finishes the race is a winner!” 

Then, the kids took turns trying to hit the piñata.  The two and three year olds weren’t even able to make a dint in it.  Finally, the last one up, was a four year old who figured out exactly where to hit the piñata to make it slip open in the middle.  As soon as all the candy tumbled out, the kids began to pick up the candy from the ground and added it to their goody bags. 

It was hard to keep them from eating too much of their candy because we were about to eat lunch.  I believe Jared got to taste a chocolate bar for the first time in his life.

As the older children at their lunch, Cristina took care of her baby, Luke, and put him to bed.  He was tuckered out from all the morning’s excitement.  Lunch was followed by the lighting of the candles on the birthday cake.  Jared managed to blow out some of the candles on his own, but had some help from little friends to help him finish.

While Cristina cut the birthday cake, Jared opened his birthday presents.  He received an art kit from one family and a play dough set from the other family.  After the boys were given their piece of cake, their parents began to pack up to go home.

By then it was nearly 1pm and everyone (guests and hosts) were ready for an afternoon nap. 

As for Cristina, she is still trying to grasp the fact that her baby is now a full-blown toddler.  Jared has reached the “tremendous” twos.  His vocabulary is expanding more and more every day.  He is gradually learning how to eat by himself and communicate more clearly to the people around him. 

Being two is sure to provide plenty of adventures and excitement for both Jared and his parents.