wherever you go


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Myka and Emery

Myka is a sweet, doting, slightly smothering, older sister.  Sometimes the hugs are a little too close and long, and sometimes the kisses are on the plentiful side, but I love it.  She is gentle. She loves her baby sister.  And because Myka is away at school all day during the week I appreciate that when she is around she wants to hold and take care of Poppy.

Emery shows his love in different ways. He often shares his blanket and stuffed animals with her which is especially adorable because these are usually His Things. He covers his ears when she cries and doesn’t like when she is ‘loud.’ Not that the boy is quiet; he is the loudest of the three by far. He misses his momma sometimes, so I am making sure to spend some one-on-one time with him.  Today, we made Cookie Balls (actually called Energy Bites, but kids like cookies so..). He is a good helper.

Poppy is doing well. She is a week old today! We are still taking it easy. Stephen has started going to work in the afternoons, and I’m working my way toward being up in time to get Myka ready for school. I am so glad we have the flexibility to make this a gradual process. I’ve only been a mother of three for a week, but so far it’s been wonderful!

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Thankful

Thank God and thank Stephen!

When Myka has a cut or scrape we talk about how God heals us and made our bodies so wonderfully. Our skin and blood work to make new skin where we have a cut, and before we know it our knees and fingers are back to normal. I am so thankful for how our bodies are able to heal, and I’m also thankful that someone learned how to make Tylenol.

A week or two ago I was sick.  I don’t often get sick, but this knocked me out.  Some kind of flu like bug but without the stomach issues, I had a terrible headache, fever, chills…yuck. I was basically in bed for a solid 48 hours, taking Tylenol (which is your only option when you’re pregnant) around the clock, and then took at least two days to recover after that. Stephen stayed home for two days, and he was so wonderful.  Took care of the kids, brought me food, made me tea – he was a very sweet and patient caretaker. I don’t know what I would have done those two days if he had not taken off work.

I was thinking recently that I hear a lot of accolades for stay-at-home moms. We have a lot on our plate, have a million different jobs to do each day, and often do it all with a lack of sleep thrown in just for fun.  There are good reasons for applauding moms. But those go-to-work dads are pretty awesome too. They go to work day after day, consistently providing for their families, and then can be found helping around the house when they aren’t at work. Now, I know there are all sorts of ways to look at this situation; there is an endless variety of ways parents work together and provide for their family.  My point is that I’m grateful for my situation, my husband, and the effort he puts into our life and our family.

So, thank you, Stephen, for all you do!  We love you.


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our December so far

Things we have been doing this month:

– Skyping with people.  I love technology.  At least I love that it allows us to easily talk to friends and relatives on the other side of the world.

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– Taking bus trips to Le Cafe where we share a chocolate croissant, and I get hot chocolate.  Then we go to a playground across the street. If you look closely you can see the ocean in the background of this picture.  It is a beautiful view, and I’ve heard you can see dolphins sometimes.

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– Going behind our building where there is some grass and a shaded area.  Myka and Emery play with friends, draw with chalk, ride our scooter, run, and blow bubbles.  It is wonderful to have an area conveniently located where we can do those things.

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– Playing inside.  Emery has been building some awesome towers.  And climbing in boxes.

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– Going to the playground = lots of fun. The sand that gets in our shoes = not so much fun.

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– We draw on the window.  Because it’s Christmas time, so we do crazy things.

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– I went to a lunch while Myka and Emery stayed with our amazing neighbors!  This is my cape (aka – abaya) blowing in the wind on my walk from the front gate of our compound back to our building.

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– Snuggling.

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Home

Many of the expat families who live here in Saudi Arabia send the mom and kids back to stay with family during at least part of the summer.  They are starting to return, and I’m seeing lots of posts on facebook saying that they are ‘dreading it’ or that they don’t want to go back.  That makes me sad.  I understand and appreciate children being able to run around in the grass, being around trees and gardens, and spending time with extended family.  I miss those things! But I also understand and appreciate that this is where we live right now.  And I choose to like it!  I get to see Stephen everyday.  My kids see a culture they would never see anywhere else.  We get to drive out to the desert and see camels.  This is home for now.  Home is with my family. And I love my home.


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Grace and lent and loving our family

I finally figured what it is that I’m giving up for lent.  I’m late (nothing new there..haha..), but I’m not one that has to make resolutions on New Years Day.  Every day is a new beginning!

There were a couple blog posts that got me thinking and helped me actually make a decision.  The first one that got me thinking was written by my sister-in-law, Liz.  You can read what she wrote here:

http://schmexas.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/turning-inward-turning-outward-staring-into-the-abyss/

I need to spend time letting God remind me about what is really important, letting Him change how I see things and respond to situations.  Lent isn’t about giving something up but about how giving something up changes you.  I’m giving up some sleep – something near and dear and very precious to me!  But I like how spending some time with God helps me respond with patience instead of frustration.  Because He responds to me with patience instead of frustration when I mess up time after time after time.

And then there’s this blog post:

http://www.aholyexperience.com/2013/02/of-women-sisters-family-how-you-really-speak-lent/

And if you read both articles you will see a link, a pattern. Grace.  Grace, grace, amazing grace.  And that’s lent. The time preceding the ultimate moment of Grace.

So what started out as finding what I’m giving up for lent really turned into a reminder of grace and love and how we’re all family.  But isn’t that what the point was anyway?

There is this memory of a young boy we saw the other day that keeps coming back to me.  He was walking through the stopped traffic in a busy intersection tapping on windows.  Tap tap. Tap tap.  That’s all.  Just tapping.  And looking.  And it broke my heart to think of the kind of life this boy must be living to be sent to walk through traffic asking for money.

The picture I have of myself with empty hands and nothing to give needs to change because in reality I have so very very much.

I read an idea somewhere about putting bags together with some food and basic toiletries and keeping them in your car so that when you see someone who is homeless or asking for money or food you have something to give them.  You are ready and prepared.  I want to be ready, prepared, and willing to give to someone who needs it.  So I’m going to put some bags together and take some with me whenever I go out.

When I was first thinking about lent my goal was to be more generous, more giving.  More loving.

I like the direction I’m going.


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I’m just trying to make some cookies!

Figuring out how to bake was full of challenges today.

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First I had to set up this lovely arrangement.  The mixer plugs into the converter which plugs into an adapter which is plugged into the wall outlet.  At least my mixer didn’t burn up!

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Then I had to figure out how to measure my butter.  I had a 100g stick and a 400g block.  100g = 3 1/2 oz (thank you Google!).  A stick of butter in the US is 4oz.  So the stick that I had was less than my usual ‘1 stick,’ and I was just guessing at how much of the larger block was 4 1/2 oz.  (Still following?)  I wonder if having a kitchen scale would help?  Does anyone have experience with this?

I looked online and 375F is 190C.  But even equipped with this knowledge I burned my cookies.

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First, they baked faster than usual.  Also, the one side (the side with the pilot) was hotter.  So I moved the rack up and positioned the cookie sheet farther to the right, away from the pilot light.  I also turned the oven temperature down for the last two trays.  My children weren’t really helping.  I got distracted a couple times and could have taken the cookies out of the oven before they burned if I had been paying better attention.  So it’s not all the oven’s fault.  I do think I’ll get an oven thermometer, though.

While I was baking the cookies, my children were strangely quiet.  I found them in our back bedroom having fun with my basket of yarn.  Ok, that’s fine.  It was keeping them entertained.  It wasn’t until later that I realized what a big mistake I had made.  Myka had created a ‘nest’ from my yarn.  It would have made a fine nest, all woven together as it was.  There were six to eight balls of yarn all tangled together.  Oy.  I am good at untangling things (something I may have inherited from my Papa – my grandpa on my mom’s side) and unwound the various balls of yarn from the ‘nest’.  It only took a half hour or so.

Lunch time was also exciting.  We had our first plate + tile floor experience when Myka dropped her plate while bring it to me for another pancake.

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Just a couple chips, but that’s enough for it to have to be thrown out.  I moved Emery across the room, out of the way, and went for the dust pan and brush.  That boy moves quickly when you want him to stay out of something! I think he wanted to eat whatever had fallen on the floor. (We never feed him..)  So in my rush to get back I scratched my arm on the cupboard door.

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Ouch.  I already have a nice bruise on the same arm from running into a door handle.  New place clumsiness, I guess.

On a happier note, we have been going for a walk each day.  It’s very nice out – highs at 70-80F this week. We take the wagon; Emery is content to sit and ride while Myka hops in and out the whole time.  I am so glad we brought that wagon!

Today we stopped at the office to see when someone would be responding to our request to have our porch screened in.  They couldn’t find any request on file. so I filled out a new one.  Stephen has been in contact with them about this several times. They have to have the original request somewhere.  The man at the desk said maybe tomorrow.  Actually, he just Might have said someone would come by tomorrow.  I was having a hard time understanding him.  Hopefully it is done soon.  The mosquitoes are Awful, though I don’t think any of us have any bites.  There is often a swarm on the porch in the evening.  And they stay inside our empty moving boxes (which are stored out there until they become a Surprise for Myka) which is annoying because when I move the boxes they all come flying out.  Yuck.  That also means I will wait until our porch is screened in to make Myka’s Surprise.  I’m not sure how to get the bugs out before the screen is put up…  Any suggestions?

While on our walk, I talked to a couple moms that were outside watching children.  One of them wrote down my email address and will invite me to the compound’s facebook group for the moms who live here.  That will be fun; it will be good to meet some other families.

And that was our…what day is it??…..Tuesday!

 


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beginning

Our first couple days here have been been fun and interesting!  Here are some photos and things that have been going on:

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At the airport we let the kids run off some of their energy.  Thank you Grandma Gail for running with them! Emery was SO happy to be able to move around, and Myka hid behind those poles to the left and played hide and seek.  She still has some room for improvement when it comes to hiding.

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The kids did pretty well on the plane.  Myka is easily entertained, but Emery just wants to go.  Myka didn’t seem to be able to get comfortable while sleeping and would suddenly whine and kick and stick her legs in the aisle. I kept having to push her legs back onto her seat.

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Changing time zones wasn’t really a big deal when we were going from Washington to Pennsylvania.  Three hours.  Eh.  We could handle that.  Eight hours on top of about eighteen hours of travel has Not been so simple. The kids want to eat at 2:00am because it feels like dinner time.  But it is getting better!  They have adjusted really well to being in a new place, though.  They play, they fight, we eat snacks: it feels pretty normal.

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Speaking of snacks…

The strangest food we’ve dealt with so far has been milk.  I mean “milk.”  This was the only milk at our compound’s store and it says ‘real cows milk’ on the label, but something was definitely off.  It smells like plain yogurt.  Thanks to my Uncle Steve, who lives in the middle east, we now know that this is Laban.  It says that on the label too; I just thought it was another word for milk, silly me.  He informed us that it is like buttermilk.  We’ll make some pancakes.

We struggle to get Myka to eat enough, so I’m being more creative in my meal prep or presentation.  Here we have a heart shaped tuna melt and fish shaped pieces of toast.  She gobbled those fishes down! And while she didn’t eat the tuna melt she did eat six or seven bites of tuna salad.  I’ll take that!  Yay for cookie cutters and our first lunch in our new home!

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The entertainment for today: watching the laundry in the washing machine! It seems that only hot water is going into the washer.  Stephen will have to figure that out.  We also went for a walk today and it was surprisingly nice out! It was a little chilly when Stephen was giving us a tour of the compound the other evening. I could have used a jacket.  But today I went back inside and changed from a sweater to a t-shirt. I wonder how warm it was.  A quick check with my friend Google shows that the high today was 64F.  And it’s winter here, just so you know. Our compound isn’t very big, and Stephen did show me how to get around the other day, but I still couldn’t figure out where I was during our walk.  The streets and sidewalks are windy and completely unorganized, and the house numbers are in no particular order. A friend who lives here said it was like a ‘drunken camel’ assigned the house numbers.  But a camel wouldn’t be drunk here.  Alcohol is illegal, you know.

If you have made it through this rambling post – Congratulations!  You win a non-drunken camel and 2 litters of laban!! They will arrive in 6-8 weeks.  Now that the kids and I are here, I’ll be posting more often. And hopefully that will help my writing be a little more focused.  Thanks for reading and visit again soon!