wherever you go

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October is going awfully quickly. I feel like it should be the 8th or 9th. No, actually it’s the 21st. What?!

We are finding our rhythm. Stephen’s mom has gone back home, Myka is back in school, and I’m back to making school lunches and going to toddler activities. And we are all doing well.  Myka hasn’t missed her bus, and I haven’t forgotten to make her a lunch.  Emery went to art class and play time this week! That might be a first. Poppy went 3 1/2 hours between meals last night and usually takes a longer mid-day nap of 3 hours or so. She still mostly sleeps, and that allows me a nap here and there, and those naps keep me sane (most of the time). She is very pleasant, but when she is unhappy, wow, does she let us know. We think she might be the loudest of our babies.

Poppy is my first baby with any hair. It’s so soft. I have no idea how to comb it, if I comb it. Mostly it just fluffs up to her typical hedgehog style. I love it. However, this long hair has one major problem. She grabs it. She gets her little hand tightly holding her hair right down at the scalp, and opening an infants clenched fist is nearly impossible! She wails because someone is yanking on her hair. Maybe we should put a hat on her. No, it’s too hot for a hat.

Yes, it’s still hot here.  My weather app tells me that right now it is 97F with widespread dust. That sounds lovely. Who wants to visit?!! We haven’t had any rain yet. Last year it was cooler and had rained a few times by now. We are still enjoying going to the pool! And the pool has chillers on right now making the water cooler. We have started to visit the playground again. It was too hot even first thing in the morning until a couple weeks ago. We met a few friends there this morning. Poppy laid on her blanket in the shade while the older kids played. I think she got a little hot by the time we got home, though, and she has a heat rash that comes and goes. Poor thing.

Poppy’s paperwork for her passport has been processed, and I have submitted my application for passport renewal, but they don’t like our pictures. First, they said there was a shadow on Poppy’s photo. So we had a friend who is a photographer photo-shop out the shadow. This time they said they are the wrong size or proportions. Our faces weren’t big enough. We did use an online program to adjust our face size and we’ve used this process for our passports in the past! Stephen decided we should give birth in the states next time. We went to a photo shop in Jubail and got two very unattractive pictures of Poppy and me. It makes me feel vain, but I may have to go and try again. Otherwise my passport photo will make me angry every time we travel for the next ten years.


Update! You may have noticed that I say it is the 21st in my post and it is actually posted to the blog on the 31st. That would be because it has taken me ten days to get the photos added on here. Yikes! So I’d like to add that we had a very fun Halloween today. Myka loves dressing up. Emery will wear his airplane wings (see photo below) for about one minute before he wants them off. But they are awfully cute! I’ll have to update this post again with a couple photos of Myka in her fairy princess costume.

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These are not our lucky lottery numbers, they are how much we thought our bags weighed.  By the time we got to the airport they must have put on a few pounds, because they were slightly heavier at the ticket counter.  Fortunately, the airline added up everything and considered them as one lot instead of individually.

Time flew by very quickly in Pennsylvania.  It all started when I was picked up by my Dad, Gail, and Kelsie.  After waiting for me to arrive my flight finally landed.  They actually saw my plane landing.  I called to say I finally made it through customs, but I had to wait, they were being good Samaritans, jump starting a car in the parking lot.  Eventually they made their way to the terminal and we were off.  We stopped for dinner, wow a bacon cheese burger never tasted so good.  It was wonderful to sit in the back of the car next to my beautiful wife and talk and joke with everyone. 

Grandparents were helping to watch the kids so Kelsie and I could spend our first night alone without the children.  My mom got to spend the night with Emery, she said “he is a busy boy”.  Yes, yes he is.  And Grandma Becky got to spend the night with Myka.  Myka had a wonderful time playing all her friends at Becky’s daycare.  Thank you both very much for that. 

We got to see many people and missed seeing many more..

After 6 short, wonderful days in Central Pennsylvania we were off to our new home. 

Dad & Gail borrowed a minivan we loaded ourselves in.  4 adults, 2 children, 2 car seats, 5 suitcases inside, 2 suitcases on top, and 4 carryon bags.  When we arrived at the airport we found a skycap who loaded all our bags on a cart and we stood in line.  There were about 150 people in front of us in line to check in for the “economy” section, so I took a gamble.  There was no waiting in the “business” section line so I went right up to the counter.  What’s the worst they could do?  Tell me to go stand in the other line?  Nope, they checked us in just fine.  I’ve learned to be a little pushy in these 3 months of living abroad.

Time to say “good-bye” and head for security.  I am sure Grandma and Grandpa cried after we gave lots of hugs and kisses, but we didn’t see it.  Thank you for that.  This trip was bitter sweet for me.  I was gaining my wonderful wife and children to join me in this new world, but all the grandparents we losing two of the sweetest kids I know.  Three months of living with Grandpa Sands and Grandma Gail, weekly trips to see Grandma Becky, sleepovers at Grandma Bonnie and Grandpa Ty’s house…  It was tough to do that to these wonderful people I love.

We quickly moved through security.  They tested and inspected the baby bottles and waved us on through.

Families with children get to board the plane first… This means you get to wait FOREVER for everyone else to board.  J

We all got settled in and waited and waited and waited.  The plane took off late, must have been lots of traffic on the Dulles runways.  About as soon as we were in the air Emery fell asleep in my arms.  Man, it’s great to be a dad.  But that boy is big, too big to hold for long and too small to sleep sitting up in his seat. 

Over the next 12 hours we all rotated seats and positions and stages of being awake and being happy and being asleep and being grumpy. 

After circling the airport in Doha a couple times, we landed.  Our 2 hour layover disappeared.  We had just enough time to get off the plane, ride the bus to the terminal, go through security, find our gate, get back on a bus to the plane, and get on the plane. 

Finally, on our way to Saudi Arabia. 40 minute flight.

Once we landed in Damman we had the joy of going through passport control.  This is one of the most arduous parts of the journey.  I have a multiple entry/exit visa so I could have gone through a line rather quickly, but with the family arriving in country for the first time, we all waited in the “first timers” line.  But there was no one at that counter.  We waited along with the 100+ other people entering for the first time.  After an hour, I had had enough.  I went to the only employee working and knocked on his window. 

“When is someone coming?” I asked.

“Soon” he replied.

“unacceptable, when is someone coming?”


“it’s already been an hour, when will they be here, I have kids that need to go to the bathroom and need diapers changed”

He tried going back to work and ignoring me, I wasn’t going anywhere until I got an answer.  Someone arrived in minutes, we went straight to the front of the line and were processed through quickly.

After finding our luggage and getting the kids to the bathroom, we headed outside.

This last bit is a little daunting.  You get your luggage then walk down a small hallway where 200+ taxi drivers and people are holding signs with names on them waiting for their fare.  We passed them all and found my wonderful coworkers who had been waiting hours to pick us up.  Soon we were loaded in our 2 SUVs and were headed to our villa.

We arrived at home at 1230am Saturday morning.  After getting some food to eat we tried to get the kids to bed.  No luck…  We didn’t get them to sleep until 5am.  So much for going to work Saturday.  I texted my ride to work and said I wasn’t going to make it.

We all slept in then spent our first day together.  It was wonderful.

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Long Trip Home

It’s 2:43am Thursday, I have been up since 5am Wednesday and I haven’t even boarded my first flight home yet.

My day started off as normal, Facetime with Kelsie at work by 7am. Got back home about 630pm and had to pack and clean the house a little. I have 3 suitcases to take back home, but they are all stuffed inside each other. I have a few souvenirs and my clothes for the week in the States.

At 11pm, my ride to the airport rang my doorbell. What? 11PM??? He wasn’t supposed to be here for another hour, I still needed to shower…. That didn’t happen. I got changed and loaded my stuff into his car and off to the airport we went.

Everyone is instructed to arrive at the airport 4 hours early to allow enough time to get checked in, get through exit immigration, and then get through security. But they don’t open the checkin counters until 3 hours before the flight, so I found a place to sit and wait.

I love people watching. I sat down at a table and a few other guys joined me. I am pretty sure they were Philipino, but I am not sure. I wish I had the gift of interpretation of tongues. (that’s a joke for all you charismatic/pentecostals)

Eventually the cue was formed to get checked in and I joined everyone else waiting around. My “empty” suitcases weighed 20.2 kilos.

Next, exit immigration aka passport control. They have to make sure you have permission to leave the country. That is an exit visa. Yes, you need permission to leave the country. The line was short, but the agent grumpy. I smiled and said “good morning” but all I got was a groan. At least I got my passport back and they let me through.

Finally, security. Belt off, backpack on the conveyor belt, and me through the metal detector. It went off. Twice. I got a pat down. At least the security guard was nicer than the customs agent.

Time to wait to board my plane.