Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Blessings and a Prayer Request

A wonderful weekend full of relaxation, rest, and, of course, good food, gave me much to be thankful for.

We're blessed with a great group of people here in our town that love and support us, even though we just met 4 months ago!

We're blessed that, even though we got sick, it wasn't bad and we are recovering nicely.

I'm blessed with a wonderful husband, who loves and serves me with all that he can.

I'm blessed with an awesome family that may not always like the fact that we are 'all the way over here,' but they love and support us anyways.

We are blessed with a wonderful Christian hospital in a land that is very unChristian. How I love to read the verse from Proverbs 31 that my blog is based off of, right on the wall in a hospital in the Middle East! So blessed!

And that brings me to my prayer request- Tomorrow is the big day! Doctor's appointment and gender ultrasound day! My request, if ya'll have a minute to lift it up, is that we will get through our border and checkpoint quickly and smoothly in the morning. We are technically still on the visa for the country that we are going into, so we are hoping that they will still let us into that country.

{it makes logical sense that they would, but we refer to this place as the "logic free zone," and last month we were almost made to stamp out of the country we wanted to go into, drive 45 minutes to the other border, stamp into and then right out of that country, then drive back to the original border and get a new visa stamp.}

Please pray that the guards will be in a good mood, that we can communicate clearly with them that we are just going to the hospital and we are not trying to stay in their country.

And pray, that if we are made to do the crazy stamp out/in/out/in, that God's hand will be on us, that we can get it done quickly, and that we have patience through the frustration. We're leaving with plenty of time, in case we are made to do that border run, but it would be such an amazing blessing to get through on our first try. We would even reward ourselves with a trip to McDonalds for breakfast!

Thanks to all! And I can't wait to reveal the gender on Thursday!

Monday, November 29, 2010

With Love

My sweet husband has done it again.

He's gone and made my heart melt.

I came home from a long day of school, paper writing, and tutoring to find these beauties waiting for me:And Ian? He said he had been trying to get flowers for me for over a month, but in our tiny little town in the desert there is only one floral shop. And it's been closed for a month. Ha!

It was finally opened and he was able to surprise me with a bouquet of gerber daisies, yellow and red roses, and carnations.

Sweet actions like this by my husband are very special to me, because this kind of thing does not come naturally to him. He has to really think about it and make a concerted effort to be "romantic."

I think, since we've been married, he's brought me flowers twice. Maybe three time. Maybe.

I blame myself. When we were dating {long distance, mind you,} I didn't want to be "that girl," that was high maintenance. I wanted to be a blessing and not a chore. So, I told him I hated flowers and chocolates and all of that stuff.

Of course, I recanted around the time we got engaged, when I realized that he might take it seriously and NEVER do any thing spur of the moment. We've had our ups and downs. My tears and my questions of "why don't you....?" And lately he's been surprising me with this thoughtfulness. A chocolate milk in the fridge, a post it note saying "I love you," in Arabic, the dishes done for me when I said I would do them.

I love marriage.
It's always changing.
Always growing.
Always challenging {but in a very good way.}

Sunday, November 28, 2010

21 Weeks

Wow, what a crazy pregnancy week! Baby's first kicking, first heartburn, a head cold, and the first Braxton Hicks Contractions!

How far along?
21 weeks! That means that we are "more than halfway," to meeting Baby Galloway!

Total weight gain: We'll find out this week. I'm guessing 5 pounds. But that would surprise me, seeing as that would mean I would have gained five pounds in one month. But, on the other hand, the holidays and the surplus of baked goods isn't going to help the "slow and steady," motto, I believe. I am proud that I've been told I've only gained it in my baby bump, and not all over as a general sense of pudge (yay for eating wisely!)
(me and baby Galloway, 21 weeks along. Plus a horrible head cold that had me wheezing and sneezing all day. Hence the pasty white face that is "smiling" for a picture.)

Baby Bump? YES! Definitely, definitely, yes! I've even been wearing some of my "tighter," shirts just so that I can see that I really do have a baby bump. My belly button seems a little off center to me, which bugs me and my love for all things symmetrical, but, oh well!

(bump from the front)

Maternity clothes? Mainly my maternity jeans. In two weeks we're making a run to the big city and I am going to HAVE to get another pair or two of maternity pants. Boo. I really don't want to spend the money on them, as we're a little tight this month, but oh well! (wow, I've said that twice in two paragraphs!)

Cravings: No, though I really feel like baking lately, but I don't necessarily feel like eating it, ha!

Symptoms: Wow, what a week. My first heartburn, ever! Like, in my entire life. I was quite the baby about it, but I blame it on my already raw throat from a cold.

Also, I had my first Braxton Hicks Contractions on Thanksgiving Night. I was really freaked out by it, but I guess it's alright! My belly got rock hard and I was in alot of pain (though everywhere you read it says they are "painless." My butt, they are painless!)

I had been standing doing dishes, so I kind of sat on the edge of the couch and hunched forward. I had 3 within about 10 minutes, then Ian had me lay down because he was getting nervous. As soon as I laid down they stopped and my belly started to relax.

As soon as they stopped I got online to figure out what was normal and was really scared. I figured they were just Braxton Hicks, but, considering our hospital is on the other side of an international border, I wasn't about to take any chances. Everything I read said call your doctor or go in if you have four or more, and since mine stopped at 3, I stopped worrying.

I haven't had any since, so that's good! I'll will definitely be bringing this incident up to my doctor on Wednesday though, and finding out what, exactly, I would do if it happened a 4th time!

Sleep: I'm really trying to drop my afternoon nap as that helps me sleep more solidly at night, but some days I just can't make it!

Best moment this week: Baby kicking for the first time! It happens all the time now and I can't wait until Ian can feel it! Chocolate milk worked to get baby moving one day, when I hadn't felt anything all day, so I'm thinking my penchant for all things chocolate must be genetic.

Movement: Yes! Started last Monday and seems to be all the time! Especially between 9-12 pm, which is fine with me, because that's usually when I've kicked my feet up and am resting/reading/studying on the couch, and am not trying to sleep yet.

Gender: We find out on Wednesday! I have gotten mixed guesses from EVERYONE, so it'll be fun to find out. I think we might have decided on a girl's name. Maybe. We kind of both said "yeah, we like that alot!" about a month ago, and haven't talked about it since then. ha! I'm sure later this week I'll have some great news to share with you guys!

Belly Button in or out? Still in. And definitely slightly off center.

What I miss: Not having back pain every day. It feels like a pinched nerve in my lower left back, and every night it starts throbbing around 7. I've tried stretching, moving more during the day, having Ian massage it, but nothing works. I hope I can find a solution soon.

Weekly Wisdom: Enjoy this phase of life while you have it. This is our last holiday season as just grown ups. Though I know we will love it with a baby in tow, I'm learning to sit back and just enjoy what we have now.

Milestones: Baby Kicking, Braxton Hicks (is that a milestone? I don't really know.)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Wedding, Arab Style

A few weeks ago, Ian and I had the chance to attend our first Arab wedding!

We prepared ahead of time by ordering our "traditional dress," to wear, so that we would be more conservative and, honestly, so that we would blend in more.

As a woman, I wore a full outfit underneath of my abiyaa, while Ian had to wear a traditional undershirt and man skirt, underneath of his. Odd.

I had a head covering as well, a shayla, which I only wore when walking into and out of the wedding. I took it off once I was inside. Maybe. I can't actually remember now.

So, let me start out by saying that weddings are a little different here than what we think of as a western wedding.

First, technically the bride and groom are already wed. And have been for probably 6 months to a year. During that time, the groom is working hard to earn enough money to pay for a wedding (yes, it's the groom's job!) and he usually pays about 25,000 dollars for the wedding and anywhere from 2-6,000 dollars on gifts of gold and clothes from the bride. Crazy.

So, the wedding that we attend, is actually more of a reception, than a wedding.

And by "we," I mean, the women are in one location and the men are in a different place.

Also, something that is interesting, is how in the west, we use weddings as ways to honor the bride and groom. Gifts are given, toasts are made, and complete attention is given to all of the traditions surrounding the bride and groom (first dance, cake cutting, etc.)

Here, that is not the case. The wedding is a chance for the groom, or the groom's family to show off how hospitable they are and generous. They know that much will be said about the quality of the food and the amount, so they put a lot of weight into those things. I suppose that is sort of true for American weddings, but, it's not as big of an emphasis.

So. The wedding. Ian went to where the men were all sitting outside, and I walked into a giant tent where the women were. Talk about being conspicuous. Probably close to 200 pairs of eyes were on me and my friend as we walked in and found our seats at a table.

Talk about intimidating.

I just wanted to melt into the background and not be "white," for a minute.

After we sat down with a table of other Americans (it was our teacher getting married, so our entire school was invited,) we sat around trying to talk for about 30-45 minutes. I say "try," because the music was the loudest I have ever had to endure. It was head splitting. I wanted to be four again, covering my ears to keep out the noise.

My theory is that they keep the music so incredibly loud (I've been told it's like that at most Arab weddings,) to keep the women from talking and socializing too much. But that's just my theory.

Then, a whole bunch of worker women brought out giant platters of food and sat one on each table. Yes, I am aware that it looks like a pile of poo on top of rice. Really, though, it is an incredibly tender meat that they smoke in a pit underground for 24 hours. It was good!

No plate, no fork? No problem!

Just use your hands.

I, personally, made a giant mess trying to shovel the rice into my mouth. Usually it is a little moister so you can form a ball and "pop," the ball into your mouth, all using only your right hand (your left hand is, um, unclean.)

Then, our platters were cleaned up, the bride came in, sat down, and the women could go up and greet her/take pictures with her.

About 20 minutes later, the groom and his entourage of men came in. They proceeded down the long walkway through the tent until they got up front, where they stood awkwardly for pictures for about 20 minutes.

Before they came in though, all of the women pulled their head coverings back on.

Here's something to think about. Since the genders are so segregated here, this experience for the groom is one of the most new and overwhelming for them. Not only must they go into a room of more women than they have probably seen in their entire life, but then, after the wedding, they must then live with a woman and interact with a woman, who is not a family member.

True, for most Americans the living with a non family member thing is brand new for our bride and grooms, but imagine never having a friendship with another male, or learning how to interact on a day to day basis with them! Blows your mind when you think about what a lifestyle change it is for them.

Then, it's all over! Not really and traditions (that I saw,) except for the running around with things of incense. I wish I got a picture of that. Basically the bridesmaids had these urns full of burning incense that were putting out a TON of smoke into the tent, and they ran around like banshees trying to get the whole tent smelling 'good.' Then they brought by a hand mixed perfume for you to put on, with the theory that a generous host would have you leaving smelling better than when you came.

Basically, you finish eating, wash your hands, then wait until the bride and groom are seated and then you take off! Though lots of women left as soon as they were done eating.

Ian told me that the men stood around talking for half an hour, the food was brought out on big platters and placed on the ground, and the men ate and left! Ian had to wait around for almost an hour for the women to finish up!
Overall, it was a wonderful experience! I can't wait to go to another so that I can compare with what I saw here!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Great Classics!

My friend tagged me in this fun meme, put out by BBC. The BBC claims that most people will only read 6 of these classic books in their lifetime.

I've read 24 of these books, and have started, or currently have with me (on my very small bookcase,) four more!

I have to tell you, that these books were not assigned by my high school or college. My high school (responsible for 2-3 of these titles,) did not focus on classics, and since I took my AP language classes in high school, I did not have to take one literature class in college. Extraordinary. I've worked really hard to get caught up on some "classics," and would feel even better if I was closer to 40. I don't think it will take too long!

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling

5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

6 The Bible

7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman

10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

11 Little Women - Louisa May Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare

15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk

18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch - George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell

22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald

24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis

34 Emma -Jane Austen

35 Persuasion - Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres

39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving

45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy

48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood

49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding

50 Atonement - Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel

52 Dune - Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac

67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding

69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

72 Dracula - Bram Stoker

73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson

75 Ulysses - James Joyce

76 The Inferno - Dante

77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal - Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession - AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker

84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

94 Watership Down - Richard Adams

95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare (although this is included in #14: The Complete works of...)

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dear Baby

Dear Baby Galloway,
You are twenty weeks along right now. The miracle of you living and growing constantly takes my breath away.

And today.


Today, I finally got to feel you moving. I was sitting in Arabic class, minding my own business when a sudden strong "thumping," feeling came over the left side of my belly. I thought it was just a strong pulse, but then it dawned on me what it was.You kicked fast and for about 25 minutes before letting up.

I had just drank a chocolate milk, and I leaned over excitedly to Ian, telling him that you were going to be "a chocoholic, just like me!"

Two more times today you blessed me with that feeling of movement, of life within me. Some days this pregnancy doesn't seem real. We wanted you for so long. We prayed for you. We hoped, and longed, and wished. So these first 20 weeks have been a mixed blessing. We've loved knowing that you are inside me, growing and gaining strength, but having hardly any symptoms and not getting that 'baby bump' until this past week was hard. It just didn't seem real.

Now you are surprising us all by growing so quickly and starting to move all at the same time.

And next week, oh, next week! The joy of finding out if you are a boy or a girl. We {honestly,} don't care which one you are, as long as one day you learn to love your God who created you.

You are so special, baby Galloway. You have already brought so many people much joy, so much hope, and so much love. I can't wait to see what God does with the rest of your life.

{Your Momma}

Sunday, November 21, 2010

20 Weeks!

How far along? 20 weeks! I can't believe we are halfway through this pregnancy! The last month has gone by amazingly fast and I imagine that December and January will go by quickly as well.

Total weight gain: At my 17 weeks appointment, I was back to my starting weight (I had lost five pounds during the first trimester, and had "gained," it back by 17 weeks, without gaining any additional weight.) I'm really happy with that and am really conscious about gaining healthy pregnancy weight.

Baby Bump? YES! Just within the last week, really. Which surprised me, because I thought I would start to show closer to 16 weeks. I started getting anxious to "see," the pregnancy at 18 weeks, and I'm so glad I am showing now! We were shopping in a mall last week, and I was wearing a normal shirt, instead of my long and loose conservative shirts. Every time I walked by a window, I'd go "Wow! Look, I'm pregnant!" It was a pretty exciting moment!

Maternity clothes? Bella Band with my unbuttoned pants and one pair of maternity jeans. Mainly my maternity jeans. I'm going to need to get a few more pairs of pants soon, though. I love the fact that I wear loose and long shirts anyways!

Cravings: Hmm, not much, I suppose. I had a dream about Cheetos, then my friend had them at school today, so I begged Ian to find them when he ran errands today. Does that count?

Symptoms: Fatigue, some mild abdominal cramping, and hunger!

Sleep: I've had a few bad nights, but other than that, it's going really well. I've gotten used to sleeping on my side and am dozing off faster than last month.

Best moment this week: Finally "popping!" I'm so glad I look pregnant now.

Movement: I'm still not really sure. I've had some weird pains but nothing definite yet. I'm going to be asking my doctor about it next week if I still haven't felt anything. I don't think it's anything, but I know that by 22 weeks most women have felt something definite.

Gender: Still clueless. We find out next week, on December 1st! I'm really excited and have no guess over whether it is a boy or a girl. We're excited to start shopping and talking about names, which we've avoided so far so that we don't "waste time," on picking out both.

Belly Button in or out? Still in. Though it seems a little off center to me. Strange.

What I miss: Having dinner fill me up. I eat and within an hour and a half I'm hungry again. Late night sncaking on apples, oranges, and milk have become the norm.

Weekly Wisdom: Drink your water! To keep swelling down, drink, drink, drink!

Milestones: "Popping," sleeping better, hitting the half way point. So close to finding out the gender!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Tree is Trimmed!

We only had two more days left of our Fall Break from language school, so Ian and I decided to sleep in, take an easy morning, and put up our tree a little early this year.

Now, if you remember (or have been around Far More Than Rubies for a little bit,) you know that Ian and I have been married now for almost 2 and a half years. Our first Christmas, in 2008, was spent with our families in our hometown, but we did have our own tree in our apartment in Gainesville. It was fresh, had beautiful ornaments, and I decorated as much as our newlywed budget would allow (which wasn't much.)

Our second Christmas, last year, 2009, was spent up in Nashville, TN, where my parents had moved, and where we had been living with them for five months due to unemployment and other circumstances. We had a fresh tree and it was a beautiful Tennessee Christmas. Right after Christmas, my mom and I bought an amazing artificial tree on clearance to take with us to the Middle East.

That thing was a monster. Is a monster. It's huge.

But, we don't have it. Our tree and all of our ornaments, including heirloom pieces, are packed away in our storage crate in Florida.

Our company has a policy not to be the exorbitant amount of money it costs to ship your stuff until after your finish language school and prove that you are going to stick around for awhile. That's not such a bad thing when you're learning Spanish, French, or Italian. Six months and you have your house together again.

Alas, we had to go and pick the hardest language class available and we won't see one single item until (probably) the fall of 2012. Whoa.

So, once we got all settled into our apartment and I could sto9p thinking about space in suitcases and luggage weight allowances, I began picking up Christmas items in stores here, like in an Ace Value and Ikea. Crate and Barrel and Pottery Barn also pitched in.

So, sweet husband, despite his lack of tradition loving roots, which I have deep and strong ties to any and all forms of traditions, pitched on in and spent the afternoon putting together our tree (that was 25 dollars!) and helping me strategically decorate it!

This tree will be with us this Christmas and next as our only tree, but hopefully in 2012 we'll have our big ol' beauty. Then maybe the small tree will be used as the kid tree or a theme tree!

Isn't he the best?
And the cutest!
Those dimples get me every time.
We had a great afternoon of decorating, singing along to Christmas songs, and grinning like crazy. Except only I was doing the grinning, because busting with excitement and grinning are terms not found in husband's vocabulary. He does a more slow and subtle type of show of excitement.

Our tree is up and decorated and looking beautiful! It's not the biggest, or the fanciest, but it makes my heart swell with love and memories. And if the song is true, Christmas is All in the Heart, and that's all that matters, right?

Also, I apparently didn't take a finished product picture. That will be coming. Along with the rest of our holiday decorations after Thanksgiving is over. I needed that tree up now, to kind of help me cope through the holidays right now, but I didn't want to get rid of all of my fall decorations until after Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Giant TV's and the Slaughtering of Massive Amounts of Animals

{Hi to all new visitors! My husband and I moved to the Middle East in the summer of 2010. It's been a huge adjustment and there are days when all you want to do is return to America. We know we are here for the right reasons though, and since being where God wants us to be is the most important thing for us, we'll remain here until He says otherwise.

We've been married for 3 years and gave birth to our first child, a daughter named Grace Madeline, in April of 2011. Having a baby in a foreign country is just that- foreign! My bald headed beauty gets asked daily "what is wrong with her," for not having any hair, but we love explaining to the locals that American babies often don't have hair for awhile!

I am studying Arabic full time right now, with the hopes that I can better communicate to the locals. Our plan is to move to a big city in June of 2012, but for now, are in a sleepy little desert town, with rugged mountains to the west and rolling sand dunes to the east.

For security reasons, I don't usually say much about where we are, but I thought this post from last fall would be an interesting cultural tidbit about life out here.

Thanks for stopping by!}

We live in a really complex and paradoxical world.

And by "we," I don't mean the human race.

I mean my husband and I, here in the desert.

Just thought I would clarify that.

Just yesterday, during that great big holiday I told ya'll about, I went out on holiday visits to several women's homes, and while we were driving about, I got to witness, first hand, the slaughtering of massive amounts of animals.

It was not a pretty picture.

Cows, goats, sheep, and camels all met their demise yesterday, often in the front yard of these houses.

I won't go into the gory details, but, let's just say I'm glad that I am out of the pregnancy phase of nausea, or the poor locals would have had to see what I had for breakfast.

Several times.

What really won't be a pretty picture, is what our town will smell like in about 24 more hours, as all of those animals' intestines were just dumped in dumpsters all over town. Bleh.

The paradox comes in when I explain that Ian and I spent the day in Dubai today. Fancy, schmancy. With a side order of "too rich for my blood."

We had a lunch date at a Macaroni Grill beside a four story tall aquarium. It was awesome.

Then we wandered the mall, exploring different areas, drooling over the biggest book store I have ever been into, and finally tracking down the best deal on a TV.

And now, 2 1/2 years into marriage and we are finally the proud owner of a seriously large flat screen/panel TV.

And we also bought our Christmas stockings. And we each chose an ornament. And we bought baby's first book, and I think we decided on baby's bedding, if baby turns out to be a boy.

And I might have started humming, at an inappropriately loud volume, the tune of Silver Bells while standing in the middle of the mall.

My bad.

Ian and I had a lovely dinner with our friends Tim and Joan at (again) PF Changs before heading to the grocery store and stocking up on meat, since we can't get that on this side of the border. Not that the people in our country are vegetarians. Just that you can't really trust beef that's made in a country where there is no grass or hay to speak of.

Ian and I had an awesome drive home, with no problems with the car, or with the border (praise the Lord!) and had a great time listening to Frank Sinatra and discussing our dating days. We dated long distance our entire relationship and engagement. Yup. So we have alot of funny memories from those times.

It's currently 1 AM on Thursday morning and my husband just got the tv hooked up in our quite tiny family room. We are enthralled.

And, instead of going to bed like I should, I just read a million blogs and didn't comment on a one of them! Sometimes I just don't feel like it, you know?

And then? Well, and then I removed the layer of nail polish off of my toes from my last trip to Dubai. You know. Over 6 weeks ago. I was a little concerned for the health of my nails and finally broke down and made them paint less.

And that is the extent of my plans for the evening. Stare catatonically at the TV that could swallow me whole until Ian says "honey, you should go to bed." At which point I will willingly oblige and the long day will be over.

The End.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


We took a day trip out to a Wadi two weekends ago. Our friends, who have lived here awhile knew the perfect location for a little "oasis," day, away from computer, cell phones, and work.

Saying you are going to a "wadi,"{meaning valley} is like saying you are going on a picnic, or to the beach, or maybe to a river/spring (if you ever do that sort of thing.)

It involves crazy huge brown mountains surrounding a green oasis. And, down down deep in a cut in the earth is a spring of water, meandering slowly among rocks. See, here is the wadi from "above," you can't even see the cut in the earth {to the right side of the picture, before the greenery,} but it's there alright!

And here's the water! It felt so nice, and four families, including us, had a grand ol' time exploring, wading, and seeing how far we could follow it, before it plunged even deeper into the earth.
I took it pretty easy, and tried to put my usually over adventurous self at bay, considering the rocks were slippery and I'm, you know, pregnant.

I spent alot of time contemplating the safest routes through the rocks and tried not to submerge myself more than knee high in the water, because I'm still not sure about bacteria and the like.

Ian and our friend K got to be super adventurous.

Because they are boys.

And they aren't pregnant.

And I snapped this pretty awesome picture of them after they scaled the rock wall and went to see where the water led. I was down in the wadi and we had come to a plummeting waterfall that we weren't about to follow, so the boys tried to trace it from above and find another way down. No such luck.

After all of that exploration, we stretched out in the sun, glad to have no other prying eyes around for once, and relished in the fact that I could wear Short Sleeves outside, and not feel like I was being looked at like I was a character from Friends. Or Sex in the City.


Ian and a Buddy scrambled up a mountain that was beside our campsite and then we called it a day. We can't wait until we can go overnight camping near one of these places! The weather is beautiful now (mid to low 90's during the day- a welcome reprieve from the 115-120 that was constant 2 months ago!)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Off Roading

A couple of weekends ago, some friends and us when on a little excursion (more on that later.) But, to get to our location, we had to do a little "off roading," first!

Now, it technically was a grated path, but I think it will be as off roading as you can get in these mountain ranges, as the rocks are made up of crumbled, eroded stone, ground into a fine pulp. So, if you tried to go, say, straight up a mountain, I'm not sure you'd get far before the entire top layer of rocks started an avalanche, taking you down with it.

We got some beautiful shots of this new place that I call "home," now.

The green amidst all of the brown is a wadi, or valley, with an oasis and spring. Which was our final destination for our outing.

This last shot reminds me of the mountain in The Lord of The Rings near Mordor. Or, like my friend said, like the barren waste land you'd expect to see somewhere in hell. But, it was a beautiful barren. Full of history and hidden spots of life.

Funny that when I first got here, I was absolutely disgusted by how ugly the landscape was. Now, I think its beautiful. The way the light creates shadows along the peak lines. The thought that this land was {probably} the land of Job, from the Bible. That this could have also been the home to one of the magi, or "wise men," who brought Frankencense to Christ after His birth.

How beautiful.

It brought to my mind the song "I Can Sing of Your Love Forever," by Delirious, and totally changes my mental pictures of "mountains," and "river,":

Over the mountains and the sea,
Your river runs with love for me,
and I will open up my heart
and let the Healer set me free.
I'm happy to be in the truth,
and I will daily lift my hands:
for I will always sing of when
Your love came down. [Yeah!]

I could sing of Your love forever,
I could sing of Your love forever,
I could sing of Your love forever,
I could sing of Your love forever. [Repeat]

Oh, I feel like dancing -
it's foolishness I know;
but, when the world has seen the light,
they will dance with joy,
like we're dancing now.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

{What I'm Loving} Wednesday

I don't get to join in on the blog hops anymore, because by the time I read everyone's posts, it's the next day, and I feel funny doing a Thankful Thursday on Friday or a Blessing Box on Wednesday.

Putting my neuroticism behind, I finally have a chance to join in!

So, What I'm Loving this Wednesday:

1} I've been under the weather this week (I think it's just being overstretched and pregnancy fatigue,) and I finally had the courage to say "enough!" I missed school yesterday to rest and recuperate, something that this "Rule Follower," doesn't do often enough. I laid on our new couch and napped and did school work whenever I woke up. It was wonderful.

2} I found Instant Oatmeal at a grocery store today! I love me some Maple Brown Sugar or Apples and Cinnamon, but had accepted the fact that the Middle East isn't a place where oatmeal is well liked. Imagine my surprise when I found a plethora of flavors on the cereal aisle of a local "gift market!"

3} My husband is amazing. Though this is probably true every Wednesday, it is especially true today. I was still feeling under the weather and wasn't going to take our big exam today, so, since we aren't really told ahead of time when it was, Ian drove up to the school early, asked around, found out it wasn't today, and came back and got me for a (non test day) of school! SO sweet of him.

He knows how anxious I have been about this test for a couple of days and, since tests are optional here (yeah, I don't get it either,) I had decided to take the plunge and not take it. I'm quite the rebel this week.

Ian also bought me a teeny tiny thing of pralines and cream ice cream and ran out and picked up take out for dinner since I was completely passed out. To top it all off, he read his Expectant Father's chapter yesterday and recapped to me all that he had learned. He is going to be the best Dad!

4.} I've had time to read at home this week, as I've been home more and as plans have fallen through that would have had me out and about more. That being said, I read two new Karen Kingsbury books and am starting on The Hound of the Baskervilles. Thinking about finally adding some reviews to Bound to Books....not sure if I have the energy to keep up two blogs again, but we'll see!

5.} Tomorrow afternoon begins our Eid break! One week of no school and no tutoring! We'll still work on school things at home and we have a seminary paper due on Monday, but at least it will be a break from our normal routine.

And Eid, as I asked my little pupil all about it, is apparently only about receiving money from grown ups and eating lots of food. Ha! That's probably how alot of secular America sees Christmas, huh? Sad.

No, this Eid is actually the Muslim holiday celebrating Abraham's faith in sacrificing Ishmael, which is a big cornerstone between Christianity and Islam (we believe it was Isaac, not Ishmael, that Abraham was about to sacrifice. Though, even the Quran says that Abraham took his son, without specifying which one.)

This holiday is a great chance to talk with our new friends and neighbors about faith, great faith even, that is needed for a great sacrifice. Great stuff!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and the Very Ugly...

The Good:
*I got to skype with my sister! With the time change in the USA making the time gap even wider, I feared it would be weeks until I would connect with her, but lo and behold, she was free yesterday! I miss my big sis alot.

*Our bathroom light finally got fixed. Meaning= I can use the bathroom at night now. And not just by the light of the moon. Hurray!

*We got a couch! After a very long trip, 2 Ikeas, 5 border checks, and 6 hours of driving, we are proud owners of our first couch that we have ever bought. It is very comfy and is making our house feel much more like our home.

*Classical Arabic class has been canceled for the next 2-4 weeks! This is a very difficult subject, especially since it is not really "spoken," but rather the written Shakespearean version of Arabic. I'm so happy to be able to concentrate on the vocabulary for awhile.

The Bad:

*Our car probably needs to go back into the shop. We haven't been here for 3 months and it's already had to go in four times. I am so grateful to even have a car, but it has been a source of minor irritation lately.

*Three weeks until we find the gender of Baby Galloway! I have no clue what it is, but I can't wait to find out and share with all of our family and friends. Ian and I refer to baby as "tater tot" since my nickname from Ian is the Arabic word for Potato (long story, I promise,) but our friends John and Staz called Baby Galloway "Paisley," after Ian's awesome middle name. Seriously, I love that Ian's middle name is Paisley. It's so unique (for the mid 80's anyways.) I don't know how I will wait for these three weeks to pass!

The Very Ugly:

*Roto virus is running rampant in our little town. We've avoided it so far, but I really help it doesn't affect our week off (next week.) Poor sweet babies (and some adults) who have not had a pleasant time with this virus!

*One of our male teachers, M, had a bad case of food poisoning last week. He came to school anyways. About 2 minutes into our class, he grew very quiet then dashed out of the room to vomit. I haven't experienced much nausea but I about lost my breakfast and lunch when he came back into the room. We BEGGED him to go him, but, in his sweaty, lethargic state, he insisted he was fine. I put my head down on my desk and prayed that he wouldn't step near me. Don't even get me started about the schmootz that was all over the front of his Kandora (man dress,) that could only be from him getting ill.

Bleh. That might have been the nastiest paragraph I have ever written here. I just got nauseous reliving it.

I had several other posts in the work but words have been escaping me as we are submerged more and more into the language. I'm so hoping that I will come out of this funk in time to share all of our experiences over the next several weeks!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Today was a very exciting day.

For me, anyways.

Ian was his normal laid back self, though maybe I saw him crack more smiles than usual.


He's a pretty smiley guy, so I can't really be sure.

The reason for all of the excitement?

We received a delivery notice of a package yesterday!

Today, at lunchtime, we planned on leaving school to run up to the post office and pick it up.

Imagine my jittery excitement.


From HOME!

From my parents!!!

(they had let me know to be on the lookout for a package, so that's how I knew it was from them.)

Anyways, we arrive at the post office for the third time (we tried twice yesterday but it was closed,) and handed over our pick up form.

Then, please imagine my surprise when he brings out TWO boxes!

I about passed out from all of the excitement. And I was almost in need of some plastic surgery after my grin about split my face.

That's how excited I was.

Turns out there was a package from my parents and a package from my Grandma and Aunt and family!

I tore into the packages as soon as we were in the car. Ian drove us back to school and I spent the next ten minutes oohing and aahing over everything.

Then, I had to try and get everything back into the boxes before we got to school.

It was pure joy, people. Pure joy.
So, for what I'm thankful for today: My family, who surprised us with blessings from home to remind us of fall, thanksgiving, Christmas, and family!

The two boxes, the one from my grandma and aunt on the left, and the one from my parents on the right.
A peek inside the chaos. Beautiful chaos, that is.

These are the goodies from my Grandma and Aunt:
Brownie mix, corn bread mix, Canned pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, Thanksgiving themed paper plates and napkins, Glittery Pumpkins, A honeycomb turkey (for a centerpiece!) post its, sharpie pens (Ian's FAVORITE!) Sudoku book, Home Alone on DVD (probably my favorite Christmas movie,) Chapstick, Christmas placemats and dishtowel, babies first nail clippers and brush and comb set, and an over the door Christmas hanging that lights up and sings "It's Beginning to Look Alot Like Christmas!"

Wow. That was alot to pack into a box. But what a beautiful surprise! And I'm so grateful for the holiday items that will make our house feel more like home this Thanksgiving and Christmas!
This is the box from my parents and all of the goodies:

Better Homes and Gardens magazine, two flavors of Crystal Light, Milk and Dark Hot Chocolate packets, Corn Bread mix, Thanksgiving themed sprinkles and cupcake liners, Thanksgiving themed pot holders and dish towel set, Fajita and Taco seasoning packets, BlowPops (Ian's favorite!) Caramel Apple Pops, and Candy Corn/ Candy Pumpkins. And I can't forget about the oh-so-cute set of Fall cookie cutters that my Dad picked out for me himself! Love them!!

Thanks so much mom and dad! This totally made our week!

We stopped by a local grocery store on our way home from school today, and wouldn't you know it?

I found a gigantic string of "Fall Leaves," on sale for like 4 dollars. Amazing.

And this is what you get when your husband tells you to stop smiling or "making that face."

Sillyness incarnate:
Happy Fall Ya'll!

I hope your November is starting out with a bang and that we are all finding different reasons to be thankful!