Thursday, February 22, 2018

The One With the Family Pictures

It was time, we desperately needed to get family pictures done.

I'm pretty sure the last ones that we had done were in Abu Dhabi, taken by a blog friend, (Hi, Tami!) At the time, Grace was not yet 2 and Sophia was an infant!

Five years later, back to our home country, and another child added to the mix, I guess an update was in order.

Plus, my mom said that's all she wanted for Christmas so it was pretty easy to sell Ian on.

I connected with another blog friend, Mallorie Gayle Photography, who had a slot to do a mini session and even though it was a long drive and FREEZING cold out, the end results were perfect! Mallorie captured us all perfectly in a short time frame!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The One With The Giant Pegasus

Ian and I went on a weekend trip to New York City one weekend last fall. More on that here. We went partly for Ian's birthday (he turned 31!) partly to get away for a weekend, and partly to hang out with our friend who lives there.

Now, usually, when people leave their kids they have some anxiety, worry about them, and miss them.

I will be the first to tell you that I am not one of those people.

That's not to say that I am not excited to see them when I come back, but I feel like so many other people, who are more experienced in the marriage department, say that getting away as a couple is one of the best things you can do for your marriage and for your own mental health, so I fully embrace that idea.

Time to leave? Kiss and a hug and "I will see you later!"

Screen door is still flapping on its hinges and I am gone. GONE.

Anyways, back to the Pegasus, because I am sure you are waiting for that to come up again.

My in laws were gracious enough to fly up and take care of our kids while we were gone, which made leaving them easy to do. I knew they would get in loads of craft time, go do something fun out of the house, and probably finagle a new toy out of the deal so entertainment would not be in short supply.

We returned home in the middle of nap time to find my mother in law sitting on the couch looking rather sheepish. There was a pile of toy packaging on the floor in the family room but I sort of expected that. She showed me what Sophia chose (a singing bird,) and Luke (a second little people farm, because the new one had different sounds, which our original one did not.)

There wasn’t any packaging for Grace’s toy, and my mother in law started explaining. She said Grace fell in love with it, and they had tried to convince her to choose another toy. She said she knew we were tight on space (our place is great but not well laid out and not very big.)

And then she said “You are just going to have to go and see it.”

I nervously walked upstairs and found this:

Now, I’m a pretty practical person. I’m also one who has pretty strict limits on stuffed animals. (The dust! The impracticality of getting them clean! The space they take up! How little they are used!)

So imagine my surprise when I walked into the girls’ room and found a giant stuffed Pegasus that was BIGGER THAN GRACE HERSELF!

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. On the one hand, Grace loved it. She would cuddle with it, read on it, drag it around the house and play flying Pegasus. On the other hand, it takes up half of her bed!

It's been four months and "Uni," as her Pegasus is called, still resides there. I've told Grace that the minute it hasn't been used regularly it is out of here, but I have a feeling that won't happen anytime soon. Eventually Grace will get bigger and need more room in her twin bed, right?

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The One Where We Went to New York

Back in October Ian and I were able to slip away for a quick weekend away. It was a mix of Ian's birthday weekend and a much needed child free escape. I felt pretty guilty about it at first, because we had to leave on Sophia's actual birthday, but quickly got over it, as she was in good care of her Mimi and I knew we would celebrate some more when we returned.

We took the train up to the city.

The train.

I was a skeptic of it, mainly because I had heard of so many horrible issues with the train, but it turned out to be okay. It was cheap, took us straight into the heart of the city, and you don't have to do a big check in, security, and waiting process like you do at the airport. You could arrive five minutes before your train and walk right on. That's a nice perk!

We stayed with one of Ian's best friends, Sam, who has lived in the city for a couple of years. Sam has made many appearances over the years on this blog, including when we lived in the same town as him during our first year of marriage and when he visited us in Abu Dhabi! We are thankful for his friendship for so long and we were excited to get to spend some time with him on his own turf.

We enjoyed our quiet train ride (I got to read! In peace!) stepped out into Penn Station and (mostly) successfully navigated our way onto the subway and to Sam's apartment. I'm fairly certain we walked around his neighborhood, had Cuban food, and walked down to a park with a great view of the skyline.

On Saturday, we did a great walking tour of the city! We started off with Washington Square Park, then down to Union Square Park (we walked!!!) then we ducked into Strand Bookstore, where we got absolutely lost amidst all of the books! I really loved the children's department and Ian enjoyed the rare books floor.

We made our way to The NYC Library, Bryant Park, Grand Central Station, and then on to the Empire State building and stopped for a yummy lunch in Korean Town. We did a quick run through of Rockefeller Center, saw St. Patrick's Cathedral, and headed back to Sam's place for a quick rest and to freshen up.

I'm going to be frank. I wore new boots. It was pretty awful. I thought for sure I was going to have to pull a Monica and Chandler and ditch the boots and catch a ride on Ian's back. I was able to hobble my way through the day and I added another layer of socks for the next day!

Later we hopped out to get a shwarma and falafal (YAY!) then headed to Times Square. It was every bit as overwhelming as we expected. We found a rooftop bar that was ridiculously full (think, unable to move,) then headed out to our Broadway show!! We went to see the Lion King! It was incredible and was such a good experience except I probably wouldn't go to see a show that I was so familiar with the movie again. I felt like I could have narrated all of the lines in the entire show!

Sunday we made our way to Central Park! I loved seeing so many of the iconic scenes from so many movies. It was surreal. It was so much fun to wander but I was so exhausted! I did get my only injury of the weekend at Central Park when I slipped on some rocks leading down to a bench. Three months later and I'm still sporting my NYC scar. We ended up wrapping up our morning a little early and going to brunch to just sit and hang out.

Sunday afternoon we headed to see the World Trade Center Memorial, the Freedom Tower, Battery Park, Trinity Church, and Wall Street. We took an Uber over to the Brooklyn Bridge and walked across it at sunset. This might have been one of my favorite parts of the whole trip. It was just a slow pace walk, lots to see and look at, beautiful sunset, and fun with friends, but it really stands out to me. When we got over the bridge we wandered over to Main Street Park/Pebble Beach and right as we walked up a random firework show began. It was amazing!

We came back on Monday, right after grabbing another amazing bagel! It was such a fun trip and we look forward to going back again. On my list for our next trip would be a trip to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, another Broadway show, and eating at some more amazing restaurants!

Also, let it be known that we got more pictures together as a couple on this one weekend trip than we usually get in an entire year! 

Monday, January 1, 2018

The One with the Card From My Grandma

My Grandma sent me a Christmas card, like she does every year.

My Grandma sent me a card with a gorgeous front illustration and a merry greeting.

My Grandma sent me a card with a handwritten message. I love seeing her handwriting, it takes me back to so many years ago.

My Grandma sent me a card with a handwritten message that rang true for me.

It read "I miss your blogs."

Simple message, big meaning.

I miss my blog, too, Grandma.

I miss thinking through life's everyday moments and finding reasons to celebrate.
I miss connecting with family members from afar.
I miss having a voice in a conversation that tends to speed by without any care for my thoughts on the matter.
I miss being able to look back at memories made over the last year, when I just want things to *slow the heck down!*

Grandma, you were right. I miss my blogs too.

Many of my yearly goals, (chronicled here, ironically enough,) have been about blogging and maintaining that habit. It was until shortly after Luke's birth, when we were faced with the shockingly hard decision to come back, that I lost my will to write. I won't whine about it (again,) here but I will say that was the hardest thing we've ever done.

My goal for 2018 is to regularly write here. I'm willing to work with a more flexible goal and not put a number on it, but as a minimum, I will aim for at least once a week.

So, Grandma, this one is for you. And a little for me, too. And also for my other family and friends. And also for my children.

So maybe it's for us.
For all of us! 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

And, Exhale

Summer has finally started for us. Yesterday was my last day of teaching planning for the year and we now have 9 glorious weeks of not having to go into school!

I'll be frank with you, the last four weeks before summer were ROUGH. In the classroom and out. It felt like everything was on fast forward and that there wasn't enough time to get everything done.

There were some days that my co-teacher and I would look at each other, wide eyed, and wonder how we were going to survive the day. Often we would reach for our secret stash of chocolate and just get through it!

On a side note, if you haven't already, give your child's teacher their favorite treat more than just on Teacher Appreciation Day. Slip them a small pack of chocolates or pick up their favorite Starbucks just because it is a Tuesday. It helps get them through when those days are more manic than sane. And it's not just the sugar that helps, it's the thought!

Then there was regular family and home life. With everything amping up outside of the home it felt like chores got a bit neglected. When our AC died on us in the first real heat wave last week things at the house really went downhill because it was too hot to run the dryer or cook in front of the stove!

Now summer is here and things can be caught up on, including rest. I feel a deep need to just BE with Grace this summer. Play with her, read with her, create with her. Grace just finished kindergarten and I am very aware of how much she will change and grow in the coming months. Sophia will be there too, I'm sure, but since I had Sophia in class this year it doesn't feel as necessary.

We picked a few (random) goals to work on over the summer. I chose two food goals for my picky eaters: 1.) To eat a deli meat sandwich on bread like a normal human being. 2.) To eat a hamburger on a bun like a normal human being.

Not too tough, right?

I decided I was going to learn how to play chess this summer too. I felt like it was something lacking from my education/life experience but it totally overwhelms me. I've bought this book and got an app to help me learn the basics before I start the daunting task of letting Ian teach me/play against me.

Mainly though I'm hoping to get great use out of our neighborhood's swimming pool! I love swimming and being in the water but the kids aren't the most comfortable. Grace finally is out of her floaties and can confidently doggie paddle but she doesn't like putting her face in. Sophia will not get floaties back when her cast is off (she broke her arm!) and Luke just seems terrified in general to leave the stairs, even when we hold him!

Monday, May 1, 2017


Spring is here and I am just so so glad.

It reminds me of how much I LOVE HEAT!

Don't get me wrong, it was fun to get to experience actual seasons this year. The Fall was really beautiful and the leaves were still "falling," all the way until Thanksgiving. The leaves were done and it wasn't actually cold until after Christmas.

Then January set in. It was amusing to get to bundle up, experience the (first and only,) snow, and be cold. When February came I was over it! And the cold stayed all the way through March. I was ready to be warm and be outside but, alas, that would not happen until well into April!

Now we are in it and I couldn't be more happy. The kids can play outside, the house smells less stuffy, and we don't have a pile of jackets waiting to be hung up constantly. We can garden, go for walks, and we have great plans for actually getting a grill soon!

The neighborhood pool doesn't open until Memorial Day so that is a bit of an annoyance but we have soccer games, nature walks, and bike rides to get us out in the sunshine until then.

The kids are loving it. They are getting to explore the outdoors (plants! caterpillars! dirt! rocks! pinecones!) and they talk non stop about all of things they want to play outside. The girls love running through the grass, arms thrown open, singing any and all Disney songs. Their current favorite is Moana and Beauty and the Beast.

Meanwhile, Luke can be found picking out his favorite stick, stepping carefully through the grass, talking about "bad guys coming," "volcanoes," and acting out "We're Going on A Bear Hunt."

Summer is still weeks away but I think we are getting a bit of a preview. The locals have told me that this is an unusually warm Spring and that it feels just like an Annapolis Summer! Either way, we will take it! 

Monday, March 27, 2017

New Phases, Snail Mail, and Care Packages

New Phases
Every turn with each of the kids surprises me still. Sometimes I am overjoyed about their new abilities or new interests but sometimes, like this week, I have to grieve a little.

What is it that causes me so much sorrow?

Luke is no longer terrified of the vacuum cleaner or blow dryer.

Why is that such a sad thing, you ask?

Well, for six months now, if I desperately needed a moment of peace, I knew it could be acquired by doing one of two tasks- vacuuming or drying my hair. Simply mention the word and it would send him scurrying to find his siblings in other parts of the house. I could use the loud monstrosities and not have my constant shadow attached to me.

And, not that I'd EVER do something like this (eyeroll,) but if it was one of those impossibly long days I could, just maybe, vacuum then leave said vacuum on while I used the bathroom or started on dinner. It's just an idea.

Well, all of that is no more. Luke up and decided he is curious, not afraid, of those things that once provided me with peace.

Time to vacuum? No, time to vacuum with a two year old as an assistant!

Sigh. All good things come to an end, right?

(let it be known that the word vacuum was a fifth grade spelling word. I remember that. I can't seem to remember that it is one C and two U's. Thank goodness for spellcheck.)

Snail Mail

I love snail mail! Sending and receiving. I made it a mini goal of mine to send more of it out this year.

A timely birthday card.
Little notes and cards telling people that I was thinking of them or why I am thankful for them.

I have a big container of stationary readily available and the girls have taken to writing lots of notes to their friends. This is all really good except for the fact that many of their friends live overseas- which means a traditional stamp just won't cut it.

I love writing letters but I do NOT love visiting the post office.
Can I get an Amen?

I have to visit the post office semi regularly to mail packages with prize books from my Usborne parties or care packages for our overseas friends. I try to prep as much as possible but there is always something I've forgotten to do by the time I get up to the desk.

Care Packages

I think I've said it here before, but I'm going to say it again.

Do you have friends who live overseas? Just for work? Missionaries? Military? PLEASE send them a care package. Like right now!

Care packages were part of the reason we were able to make it for so long overseas. As someone whose love language is GIFTS, knowing that family and friends who were so far away took the time to think of us, shop for us, mail something (even when postage is expensive and post office lines long,) was so helpful!

Think of their birthdays, holidays, or a "just because," package! Think of things that they probably can't get (Valentines' Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, are all holidays that we could not get much for, especially in the way of quintessential candies, treats, or decorations!)

Don't forget to ask your friend what is something they want or need. We always asked for Publix Chili packets, Reece's cups, cough drops, and Ian's favorite type of pen. Easy things!

Involve your little ones in the shopping or packing process! Have them make a picture and pray over the box, that it will be a blessing to those who receive it.

What I'm Reading
Still Life by Dani Pettrey! A new release that I have been looking forward to AND it is set in the Chesapeake Bay area (Baltimore.) Even though I knew that when I read book one I'm now living there! So cool! I now know actual areas and restaurants she mentions!

What I'm Eating
Nothing right now. We just returned from the grocery store and I think Luke and Sophia will need earlier naps than normal. I'm looking forward to a turkey sandwich though!

What I'm Drinking
Reheated coffee. It's not great.

What I'm Listening To
The Rend Collective! Love them! And the kids are listening to Little People Sunday School Songs while they play.

What I'm Drinking
Coffee! It's a mix of a grocery store brand and Trader Joe's Cocoa Coffee.It's not my favorite but it is good!

What I'm Watching