wherever you go


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Some days are like that

I’m going through photos from the last year picking my favorites to put in photo books. I came across this fun trio from April:

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Some days are like that. These were sent to Stephen throughout the day, and as you can see they did settle down. Food helps.

Ah! I do love those little people.

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November life and weather

It has finally cooled off around here! It is so lovely. Winter in Saudi is beautiful. Cool mornings, warm days. I can wear jeans and a sweater in the mornings and be comfortable.  I can open our windows which I love.  You know that feeling in the spring when you can open the windows, it’s warm, and you feel the breeze? There’s an awakening with the change of seasons – it’s that same kind of feeling here in the fall or winter when it cools down. Things can grow again. You can go outside and be comfortable. Picnics and bar-b-ques are an option.

Myka just turned five. And the next day she was talking about turning six. Ha! I visited her school to bring cookies for the class, and she loved the extra attention. She wanted cupcakes AND an ice cream cake at her birthday party, and we obliged. We had a simple bar-b-que with friends. The kids all ran around like hooligans, and the adults got to visit. Last year Emery blew Myka’s candle out, she got upset, and I probably laughed. This year, we forgot the candles (including a number five candle we will now wait two years to use) so the happy birthday song was a little anticlimactic. A friend did pull up a candle app on her phone. Welcome to the new, safer way of blowing out birthday candles!  Now that Myka’s birthday is past, I wonder what she will talk about at school? It’s been her favorite conversation topic for weeks.

Emery is still adjusting to having a baby sister around, transitioning from naps to a quiet time, and generally being a two-almost-three year old boy. He makes big messes, throws big tantrums, and likes big hugs. He has the best laugh, and one of my favorite things to do right now is get him to giggle. He can be really sweet to Poppy, but mostly ignores her, though he is getting better.  Maybe he’s just realizing she isn’t going anywhere. He likes me to hold him, so when I can we sit in the recliner and snuggle. I think I’ll put a little stack of books there for us to read through. I’ve noticed that he is sitting through story time at the rec. center – a weekly event where young kids on the compound get together and sing songs and then read a book together. He doesn’t always make it through the book reading, but he likes the song part. He also will do at least one craft at art class. Sometimes two. He just joined me as I’m typing this, coming out of his room after his nap with his swimming suit.  There was some disappointment (and fussing) when I told him we were going to the beach tomorrow not right now, but now he’s sitting quietly if awkwardly on my lap.

Poppy is sleeping in the swing. She usually sleeps in there or in her crib, although one time when I put her on the play mat for some tummy time she promptly fell asleep right there on the floor. She is growing! My arms notice that she is heavier. We are now using 0-3 month clothing. I noticed the weather had changed when I was dressing her in long sleeves and pants instead of just a onesie. She is usually content and easy going. We posted a video on facebook of her talking with Stephen. Her coos and smiles are so precious! I often get a big smile when she first wakes up in the morning. We will be going in for her two month check up soon, hopefully this week.

My foot has fallen asleep with Emery on my lap. I asked if he wanted to sit in the other office chair, but, no, he wants to sit on my lap, so I let him stay. The things we do for our children…

Tomorrow I am going on a bus trip with only Poppy in tow. We are going to a Christmas bazaar at a different compound here in Jubail.  It’s a nicer compound. Fancy. And this is my first time visiting. I’m so excited!

November is crazy busy here for us. There are so many birthdays and events and the holidays are beginning. We have at least one birthday party a week. I feel like it’s one thing after another until February. But one day at a time! And I’ll try to take lots of pictures.

 


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Painting

We had a painting day today! Everyone except stephen did some art work, and he made lunch so we will let that be his creative contribution.

 

I didn’t paint these today, but have I shown you the signs I made for under our clocks in the living room? We have three clocks with three different timezones:

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Today I painted something for the baby’s room.  The colors seem a little off on my computer, but the background is gray not brownish. It matches the gray blanket I am knitting for her.

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And these are Emery and Myka’s masterpieces!  The paper is about 1×2.5′ so they are pretty big.  Myka’s is “the earth” (the one on the right) and no one (not even Emery) knows what his is. They had a lovely time painting.  We no longer have any red or blue paint. And I had a nice time wiping up the floor when they were done. We moved the coffee table and rolled up the rug to make space on the floor to paint.  Tile cleans up well.

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This is Stephen’s two day weekend. Usually we all go swimming in the morning, but I needed to wash Myka and Emery’s swimming suits.  We will go tomorrow.  It is good to do something different now and then! I did find myself wishing we could drive to a park and fly a kite or something, but it’s still way too hot for that.  I’m still waiting for the first time the ten day forecast has a number below 100F.  Until then, we will stick to the pool and the air conditioning! And we still find lots of fun things to do.

 

 


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Flying With Young Children

I am sitting by a warm fire, Myka is reading a book near by, and Emery is napping in his room. Being in Pennsylvania is wonderful. I really miss Stephen, and I am glad it will only be a week until he is here too. Grandparents are amazing and I think those Grandmas actually Enjoy changing diapers! (At least, I’m going to continue pretending they do…) There is snow outside, we went to church this morning, and we will have a relaxing football filled afternoon. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Our journey here was long. So very long. It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t horrible either. I kept a list of the things we used or that I wished we had with us, so I could pack better next time. It’s been helpful to look back over those notes and think about what went well and what I want to do differently.

This was our itinerary:
6:30 pm on Thursday – 1 hour drive to airport
10:00 pm – 2 1/2 hour flight from Dammam, Saudi Arabia to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
8 hour layover in Jeddah
8:30 am on Friday – 13 1/2 hour flight to Dulles (Washington DC)
2 hour drive to our home away from home – the Grandparent’s house
6:00 pm – arrive!

The two hour time span we gave ourselves to get checked into our flight, through security, and to our gate worked really well. We didn’t have much time just sitting and waiting, but I didn’t feel rushed. We realized on the drive to the airport that the stroller was left at home. It was the first thing I wished we had! Emery wanted to run all the time and everywhere. We had two small suitcase type of carry-ons, a diaper bag, and my mom had a backpack. With the stroller we could have hung the diaper bag on the handles, one person would have pushed the stroller, and the other pulled the two carry ons. With Emery, containment is critical. I had a wrap, but I didn’t take the time to try it. Plus, he is super heavy. Even with the added challenge of keeping Emery with us, this first part of the trip went smoothly.

On our first flight we used crayons, notebooks, books, small toy cars, rice cakes, sippy cups for each child, two Ipads for movies, headphones for each child, and pretzels. I was Sure the kids would fall asleep on this flight. They didn’t. Not a bit. They didn’t even act tired. So they were quite tired, though in denial, when we got to Jeddah.

I over packed in preparation for our long, overnight layover in Jeddah. I felt like I was in limbo there. Maybe purgatory… We had to get our checked bags, so we had all of our luggage. We couldn’t check in until four hours before take off. We were stuck in the waiting area at the check in gates until 4:30 am, and I wasn’t going to move sleeping kids even if I could go somewhere nicer at that point. The seats were uncomfortable, the announcements were loud, and no one got a lot of sleep. Stephen suggested that we take our little play tent from Ikea. Best. Idea. Ever. The kids didn’t go to sleep in it. We tried that for about 45 minutes, but they just giggled and wiggled and did not sleep. We had to hold them and cuddle, and then they fell asleep. We carefully laid them in the tent. I had Myka and Emery’s blankets plus a couple extra ones. I used an Iphone and an Ipad to play white noise (rain, actually) to help block out all the other noises and keep them asleep as long as possible. They slept from 2:15 am until almost 6:00 am. I checked in at 5:30 while everyone else was sleeping. (Is it important for gate agents to see the person they are checking in? I’m glad they let the children sleep anyway.) Then an employee of Saudia Airlines came over to ask us why we were there for so long. They noticed we were there for a while and thought we had missed our flight or something. They ended up inviting us to the first class lounge, and we were escorted through security.

The most important part of the lounge: Clean Bathrooms! with toilet paper, paper towels, and soap! My mom was pretty disappointed in the bathrooms in the main part of the airport. They also had a ton of food and drinks. Too bad we were too tired to eat or drink any of it. That still makes me feel disappointed. I like free things. We were only there for about an hour, but Myka and my mom got some more sleep. We then struggled with Emery to the gate and headed toward the plane. This is when I Really should have put him in the wrap. And Myka was so tired; she was crying and whining a lot.

Sometimes, Myka has the worst timing. But really it’s my fault. I should have taken her to the bathroom in the lounge. As we exit security and are waiting in a crowded room to board the bus that will take us to the plane, Myka announces that she has to go to the bathroom. Before I can find out if there is one I can get to without going through security again, we start moving toward the busses. But actually we just all move to another room to wait for the bus. When I see that the bus is filling up and we may end up waiting for another one, I ask an employee if we could possible get on the first bus (I apologize to everyone we butted in front of). After much fumbling of passports we get on the bus, and then the bus gets to the airplane, but then we sit. And sit. And wait. And good golly could we just get on the plane already! Finally they open the doors and my mom and Myka hurry ahead. Now I have the two suitcases and Emery. I just don’t have enough hands. A very nice person helps me get my bags off the bus and onto the tarmac. It would have been ok if Emery could have managed the stairs on his own, but the height bothers him, so he was barely crawling up them. Until some other lovely people help me get my bags up the stairs. And then another lady carries my one bag through the airplane to my seat. Thank you, all you wonderful people. I can’t thank you enough, but I promise to help others whenever I can. When I have it together. Whenever that happens… Anyway, Myka got to the bathroom, we all got to our seats, and we were settled and ready for our long flight.

The kids didn’t sleep much on this flight either. Emery took two naps and Myka took one. They watched movies on the seat back tvs and played games on the Ipad. They each had a little backpack with things to play with, and Emery especially liked the small plastic animals Grandma Becky brought for him. Myka had many fits and mini melt downs before she finally slept at 3:30 pm. With a delay before take off, it was a good fourteen hours on the plane. That is a long time, and they did pretty well considering the circumstances. Having my mom with me was a life saver. I don’t know how I would do it without another person along to help. The three of us wouldn’t fit in the bathroom. How do people do this on their own?!

We were all shattered by the time we got to Dulles, but so glad to be back in the US. It didn’t take us long to get through customs, and we were soon being picked up by Grandpa Sands and heading towards a home and bed. It was pretty cold out, but it was great to see snow! We had the kids coats ready, but the car was warm and we got them inside quickly. I kinda appreciated the briskness in the air. Haha! They both fell sleep on the ride home. Myka didn’t ever really wake up when we got to Grandpa and Grandma’s house. Grandma Gail held her, and she would stir, whine, and go back to sleep. Emery woke up all cheery and talkative, however. He had lots of questions. “What’s this? Oh. Chatter chatter. Plane! Laugh! Snow! Chatter…” He was charming.

Things I Will Do Differently:
– I always think I will freshen up at some point on these long flights, but visiting the bathroom on the airplane never makes me feel ‘fresh’. But I could have used a comb. I had one along, but it was in one of the bigger carry ons and was up in the overhead compartment. I didn’t get those down unless I absolutely had to. Next time I will definitely pack less, even with the long lay over. I had tons of snacks and hardly used any of them. Lots of activities, but we just stuck to the ones in the kids small backpacks. So we will carry less next time.

– I like the idea of carrying extra sets of clothes for an emergency or big mess, but I don’t think I’ve ever used the extra clothes I tote around. I realize this is like insurance.. The one time I don’t have extra clothes someone will throw up or spill a drink all over themselves. I find this whole train of thought annoying.

– Bring the stroller.

– Bring more books. When we were waiting for take off or landing and couldn’t have electronics out, books kept the children’s attention well. We borrowed some children’s books from a friend (a great idea!) and the new-to-us books really kept them quiet and still.

– I won’t worry about the kids sleeping or not sleeping. Our first night here they slept great, and we are pretty much on a normal schedule. I’m making that statement a little early; sometimes that jet lag hits a couple days after traveling. We will see how the week plays out, but so far so good.

– Be patient. Poor Myka. She was so very tired and was bursting into tears about everything and nothing. Maybe I should have put her in the wrap… I was always hurrying her along, but we were never late for anything. I could have been more patient.

Thinking about what I want to do differently makes me excited about doing it again. Is that crazy? Talk to me in six weeks, right before we head back, and see how I’m doing!

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Gingerbread houses

My mom makes these little graham cracker houses with the children who come to her daycare, and I wanted to do with our group of friends here. I wasn’t sure I could get all of the supplies I needed, but thought I would try.    While they don’t have any Christmas items here, I did find other candies that were the right colors.  I had some red and green sprinkles and all the ingredients I needed for the royal icing glue.  The only thing I was missing was Graham Crackers!  I have seen them at our grocery store, but they are rather expensive, so I don’t usually buy them.  Now that I want them, they are no where to be found.  A friend managed to find some one day, but when she went back a couple days later they were all gone!  Thankfully, the one box she had was just enough for the number of houses I needed to make.  Friends who share are pretty terrific. My back up plan was to decorate cookies, but houses are much more fun, so I’m glad that worked out.

There would be seven children at our house to decorate the gingerbread houses and make messes.  The houses are easy to construct, the royal icing glue makes them very sturdy, and the kids loved decorating them.  (Except Emery who just wanted to eat everything.) It was a full house but less stressful than I thought it was going to be.  Everyone played together well, enjoyed the houses, and the mess was easily and quickly cleaned up.

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A Christmas Tree (of sorts)

Today our advent surprise was our felt Christmas tree!

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I used thumb tacks to hold the tree to the wall.  I had to use one of the pillars because the other walls are concrete, and I couldn’t use thumb tacks there.  And then I cut out the ornaments which are also felt, so they stick right onto the felt tree.  I set it up while Myka was spending her afternoon quiet time reading books in her room.  Then she got to come out, open the advent calendar for the day, and play with the ornaments.

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She loved it!  We didn’t open the advent calendar yesterday (Emery’s birthday celebrations kept us busy!), so he will get to open that one when he wakes up from his nap.

Which could be any second because the Stupid Fire Alarm is going off.  I like fire alarms.  They help keep us safe.  However, the one in our building goes off ALL THE FREAKING TIME when there is no fire, no smoke, no cause for it to be going off.  And it has called wolf way too many times.  The first time I gathered the kids up and headed out of the building.  I met my neighbor coming out of her house, but we didn’t see anyone else.  Now I sniff for smoke, and then go back to whatever I was doing, or rather I comfort my children who do not like loud noises unless they are making them.

Ahhh..it stopped.  Thank goodness.  And I think Emery slept through it.


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Toys

Tuesday evening Myka refused to pick up her toys.  In the past I have put toys that were not picked up in ‘time out’ for a day, and usually the possibility of items going in time out is enough motivation for Myka.  But not this time.  She just sat on the couch. She didn’t care if all the toys went away.  So they did.

In a bit of a fit, because I was quite annoyed with this situation, I put all of the toys in boxes and toted them to my room.  No toys. No books.  No sheets or blankets to play with.  The only things left were the pillows on couch, plus some other pillows we store under the one cupboard, and….that’s it.

I was a little afraid that they would be crazy and clingy and climb up onto the table or counters or something – that this was going to backfire on me.  But they were just fine on Wednesday!  They ran around, played in the curtains, played with the pillows, crawled into the now empty cupboards.  There was lots of laughing, and no one seemed to notice that anything was missing.  Who needs toys?

Today I brought a couple dolls into the living room, and two reusable grocery bags made their way in there at some point but that’s all.  And you know what?! They fought more.  There were now dolls and bags to fight over.  Silly kids.  We haven’t watched a lot of tv.  We’ve colored more.  It’s been a good experience.  Myka did a great job straightening the room before lunch.  I think I’ll add things back in a little at a time, watching that things are being put away instead of scattered all over the place.

So who needs toys?  Apparently ME.  I’m thinking about getting a little kitchen play-set.  They are so cute!  Haha!  And I do think the kids would love it.