Saturday, February 25, 2012

37, 38, 39, 40

I feel like a bad mom. Or at least a bad mom blogger. Grace has been growing and changing so much lately and she is into everything! But I have fallen behind on documenting things and it means that the more I get behind, the more daunting the task seems. So I am officially dubbing this next week as "catch up week," on my blog and it might be alot of Grace things.

It's a weird week anyways, with it being a Leap Year.

Leap Years always throw me off.

Here are Grace's 37-40 week pictures. And just to be clear, she is 47 weeks old today and according to this website I found, she is 329 days OR 7,896 hours OR 473,760 minutes old. How's that for being on top of things?

37 weeks old, in her "for this child I prayed," t-shirt. I love this shirt because of how sentimental it is!

38 weeks old, this was taken on Christmas Eve out in the desert!

39 weeks old, one day later, on Christmas Day, wearing her "For Santa, Not Daddy," shirt my sister and brother in law sent. Too cute!

Sweet, lovey girl, at 40 weeks old.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Question and Answer- Part Two

The other day, I wrote Part One of a question and answer post. Today is all about family life though, so here are some questions ya'll have asked!

Jessica asked, "What has surprised you the most about motherhood so far?"

I think the most surprising thing for me, was how active and hands on Grace is during the day. In my nannying days, I always worked with families of 2-4 kids, and the youngest was at least 8 months old when I started. The siblings kept each other pretty well entertained and the littlest always had someone to play with them.

That's not the case with Grace though. She's learning to play by herself, little by little, but in the meantime, we have to switch off the tv, step away from the computer, and put down our books in order to play with her and keep her busy during the day. It can be exhausting some times!

Callie asked, "What is your favorite thing to do together (with Ian or Grace or both) when you aren't studying/in class?"

I have two favorite things. The first would be what we do every afternoon, when we pick Grace up from daycare and come home. We come into the house, drop our bags on the floor, and snuggle on our bed all together. Grace rolls around, laughs, crawls, and claps to her heart's delight. It makes us all so happy.

The other thing would be to go out as a family to a restaurant or mall. Ever since I was a nanny and would take the kids to the park or out to eat, I always dreamed about the day that we would be able to go out as our own family.

Tami asked, "How many kids do you guys want and how far apart do you want them?"

Oh, good question. The truth is, I'd love a big family, say 6 to 8 kids (I'm so serious.) I could see us having 4-6 biologically, waiting until the youngest started school and adopting several more. I have a big heart for adoption but God would have to provide in a big way. Really, God would have to provide in a big way anyways, as having 4-6 kids biologically would push us past our finances anyways!

I want the first three relatively close together, all within 5 years, then I'll reassess after that, ha!
Stephanie asked, "I was curious why you had to leave the country you are in (still unclear which country that actually is) to give birth to your daughter. Was it because of a lack of healthcare there?"

Sarah asked, "What are you looking for in a new home?"

Light! And windows! Really, natural lighting in abundance is probably my number one requirement.

Modern fixtures in the kitchen and bathroom (or at least, up to date,) and no crazy tile on the floor or walls (a style that is prevalent here!)

I'd love to have an in home work space or office for Ian, seeing as we have a huge desk and 7 book cases that will be arriving in our crate in a couple of months. I also want the bedrooms to all be near each other, for safety reasons.

Emily asked, "What is at the top of your bucket list for the near future?"

I really want to do some things outdoors. I'd love to go on a hot air balloon ride, swim with dolphins, or go para sailing sometime this year. One of my other bucket list goals was to speak Arabic or Swahili fluently, and whenever we get the okay to leave language school, I will count that as "fluent!" (though we really will still be far from fluency.)

I have a couple of reading and cooking goals that are part of my new year's resolutions that will check things off of my bucket list too.

Kelly asked, "You seem so sure about God's plan for your life. Is there anything that you have regretted in your past?"

I get asked this question alot, especially when people hear that we've moved over here. I think I feel like I should regret not going to my senior prom, since it is (to most people,) such an important event. But to me, I didn't go because the guy I wanted to go with didn't invite me. Turns out, I married that guy, so, I win.

I won't say that I live a life without regrets though, because I think that if you don't look back on your life and recognize your humanness- your imperfections and flaws, then you are missing out on a big growth opportunity.

I think my #1 regret would be that I didn't get to teach in a classroom for very long. We felt that when I lost my job, for budget reasons, that it was God closing a door and opening a path for us to come out here. In hindsight, I think that it could have also been a chance for us to rely on God's provision and to rest in Him to secure a different teaching job. I had been talking about teaching since I was probably 12 and had done so much in the field before I even graduated college. I know that I could have been a wonderful teacher and that God gave me these passions and gifts for a reason. I do wish that I had gotten 3-5 years in the classroom, but not at the sacrifice of following our hearts and starting our family when we did.

Thanks so much to everyone who participated! If you think of anything else you've always wondered, let me know and I will put together a part three!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Question and Answer

I've always enjoyed reading question and answer posts, because it lets readers, who are so invested emotionally and mentally in other people's lives, find out things that have piqued their curiosity. That being said, I've put off doing one of my own for so long because it seemed like someone else was always in the middle of one and I didn't want to interrupt or copy during their time. Blogging road rules, if you may.

I'm so glad I finally did though, because it helped me see some of the things that are A.) totally unclear about my life to most readers and B.) of interest to alot of you!

I broke up the questions into several categories, and have had a great time thinking through my answers!

Life in the Middle East

Justine asked, "How did you guys discern that God was calling you to move overseas?

You know, God's hand on our lives and His calling for us to move overseas began when we were very young. I was just in middle school and Ian when he was in high school. We had a heart for the nations and we tried to travel and experience the world whenever the opportunity presented itself. Actually, in the very moment Ian asked me out, he reminded me "You know, God is calling me to live overseas, so if this is going anywhere, I would need you to be okay with it." And I was!

What exactly are you guys doing while over there?

Right now, we are studying Arabic. In less than six months (wow!) we will graduate from our 2 year program and move to a bigger city where Ian will be working with a business and leadership consulting firm.

How long will you be there?"

I'm not really sure! We'll at least be here until May of 2013, which was our original 3 year commitment, but we want to be where ever God wants us to be, so that means having an open mind and a willing heart, and NEVER saying that we'll "never live there!" because that would be just where God would lead us to, ha! I can imagine us living here for many more years and I could also imagine us returning to the States, my heart is so torn.

Natalie asked, "I guess I have just always been confused about what you are doing overseas (maybe I missed a post about it somewhere?) I know you are taking classes-what for? Are you working towards a degree? Are you planning to always live there or come back to the states? Are you both students or do you work too? I guess just your life in general haha!"

Natalie, your question made me laugh. So many people have emailed me or left comments asking these same questions. Sometimes I try to be vague, for security reasons, but it ends up confusing people. Some readers from the very beginning knew everything, because I wrote everything, but had to later go back and delete specific things for security purposes.

I hope this helps clears things up. We're here to work in this country and be amung the national people. We're studying Arabic so that we can better communicate with them in their native language. My husband has his master's in International Business and has a job lined up for after language school. Our Arabic classes won't count for any degree, but we will get a certificate of completion that will look great on a resume later on. We are really only doing it to acquire the language.

I'm a stay at home wife and mom, but attend language school for 5 hours a day (does that make me a working mom? part time working mom? I'm not really sure.) But as soon as language school is over, I will be with Grace all of the time!

I hope this helps, and my answer I give most people is this "read between the lines. Go ahead, I give you license to assume a few things about our lives in order to connect some dots."

Emily asked, "How did you feel when you moved away from your family and friends AND how did they handle it?"

Honestly, when we moved away, I was so excited! We had just lived with our parents for 8 straight months and the new found freedom and privacy was wonderful. I've always been an adventurous person and I was ready to face this new adventure head on. We moved from the US to Canada, and from Canada to the Middle East. Just 5 days before moving to the Middle East, we found out we were pregnant, and I think THAT moment is when I really began feeling sadness about not being with my family.

I just could not believe that my baby wouldn't grow up with her grandparents and aunts and uncles doting on her like mine did growing up. I couldn't even imagine what holidays and birthdays would look like, not to mention what normal days would look like.

Our first year overseas was hard, because, like the first year after you have lost a loved one, each new day is the first time you face that day without the ones you love at your side.

And how did our families take it? Ian's parents were always on board, his mom would get sad sometimes, but they fully supported us from the beginning. My parents, always supported us but they wished that they could support us right there in the States, ha! They've accepted it with time and are our biggest supporters and encouragers now.

The rest of our family reacted in different ways. I think my sister and his two brothers reacted similarly, where they tended to pull back and try to disassociate in order to not feel the pain of having your loved one move away.

I had some extended family members who love us and support us, but continually ask when we are coming home, or point out the dangers that they think are prevalent (but really, they aren't, don't believe everything on tv!)

As for my friends, I am constantly shocked at how often and how much I keep up with my friends. I have a group of girls that I grew up with that live close to each other, so I try to talk with one of them a week and get the local news from them, instead of all at once, since their lives tend to overlap. Every once and a while I'll have a 5-6 skype calls on one day and then it will be 3-4 weeks before I hear anything else. I also have another close friend who has done a great job keeping up with us!

Callie asked, "what was the biggest adjustment you had to get used to when you moved over there (aside from being away from family and friends)?"

I think the cultural adjustment of the division of the genders was most difficult to become accustomed to. When I read about this area of the Middle East, I thought I had a good understanding, but when you come out here and see how it works, it's so much more difficult. For the most part men and women aren't together.

Practically speaking, as a woman, it is your job to dress conservatively (high neck, 3/4-long sleeves, shirts that cover your waist, hips, and butt, and pant or skirts that go to the floor and aren't too tight) and there are colors that are supposedly more risque and your hair should really be pulled up in a ponytail or bun.

When out in public, you really shouldn't be making eye contact with strangers of the opposite sex and you very rarely speak to them except for a greeting or a question. Forget about physical contact with the opposite sex- no hand shakes, hand holding, side hugs, full hugs, or smooching!

For the most part your social events are going to be completely segregated. If you go on a visit to a local friend, you would rarely even see a male family member in that part of the house- if you did, they were just passing through and probably won't talk or acknowledge you- not out of unfriendliness, it is just how it is.

I could go on and on about these differences but those are the ones that stand out the most to me.

That was it for the cross cultural questions! Tomorrow will be part two, on family life questions!

Monday, February 13, 2012

White Bread

Dear White Bread,

The world seems to think that you are synonymous with "plain, simple, or outdated," I prefer to think of you delicious and moist.

You see, we've lived here in the Middle East for over a year and a half now and were unable to find you in your true form. we found something that looked like you, but alas was dry and crumbly.

And you know what else it was missing? Preservatives. Yes, I know, they are "not good for you," and it's better to go with fresh preservative free things, but having bread go moldy in just 2 days got old quickly. We missed having bread available whenever we pleased.

When we were visiting our friends in France, one of our greatest joy, besides eating the delicious fresh French bread, was to eat you, my friend. And in abundance. We even bought a loaf of you and carried you around Paris, so we could have sandwiches on the run.

You have been greatly missed.

Then, just a couple weeks ago, I saw you, in a local store. You, my dear white bread were finally here, in our small village like town! I scooped up a loaf of you and marveled at your fancy red packaging. We had grilled cheese, and turkey sandwiches, and PB and J that week.

You always have a place in our family, white bread.

Welcome home!


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Moving on UP!

Well, it's happened. It was a bit overdue but, the master procrastinator had put it off for nearly a month now.

Today, we moved Grace's wardrobe from her 3-6 months clothes to her 6-9 months clothes.

And yes, she is 10 and a half months old.

What pushed us over the edge? When I dressed her today in her sweet little outfit, her shirt only covered her belly button and didn't come all the way down.

I suppose several of her pajamas were too small too, seeing as she couldn't straighten her legs out in them.

I was pretty sad as I packed them away and pulled out the box labeled "6-9 months," but got excited as I saw all of the cute things she gets to wear this season. Sweet sundresses, cute bathing suits, and bright onesies.

And, she drink her formula out of her sippy cup, instead of her bottle, for the first time today!

AND we have plans to make a grocery sore run to get her more finger foods. I just didn't have time to prepare much food for her, so she's been eating baby cereal, plain yogurt, or applesauce for pretty much every meal for a month now.

Big day for the baby girl!

Let's just hope this momma's heart doesn't break from growing pains.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Happy 10 Months, Grace!

So much change has happened in this month, it's hard to keep up with it all! I have a feeling I will be coming back and inserting more Firsts as I remember them!

Clothes: Grace is STILL in 3-6 months clothes. I feel like such a broken record. The pants on alot of her things are starting to look too short so we might have to switch into the next size soon. Problem is, I don't really have that many clothes for her for 6-9 months, so I might have to hold onto the 3-6 stuff that is still working, instead of putting it all away at once.

Food: We upped Grace's bottles to 3 scoops of formula, since she wasn't drinking as much and as often as we wanted her to. It definitely paid off! My baby girl became quite the chubster just in the last two weeks! She's got a belly and adorable little (big) thighs. Her tiny little arms are beginning to fill out and her double chin has made a reappearance. Perfect!

Sleep: Because of Grace's really horrible yeast infection (which we found out was being aggravated by her prescription cream and was getting chemical burns on her little bum) she woke up nearly every night at 1 or 2 for a diaper change and a bottle. We need to get her back on track sleeping wise, but I know it will mean a couple of long nights in the next couple of days.

When we have school, she takes a 2-3 hour nap in the afternoon, from 2-5pm. When we are home, during the weekend or during out semester break, she takes two 1.5-3 hour naps, one in the morning, and one in the afternoon.

Grace also did alot better this month, when we were at a hotel. Usually her hotel sleeping has been horrible, but this time she slept pretty much through the night- but of course, she was in her pack and play in the bathroom- nice and quiet!

Activity: Grace had a month full of new activities! She learned to crawl, pull up on things, clap, wave, smack kisses, and is manipulating objects alot better now. She can hold her own bottle, turn on musical toys, and look for and find dropped toys.

Personality: Grace loves to be the center of attention and loves to be around groups of people, particularly watching other children play. She loves routine and schedule and gets giddy when we begin her nap or bedtime routine, because she knows what comes next! She has a strange quirk where she loves to roll around on a bed. She just laughs and laughs.

Likes: Grace loves it when we stack things up so that she can knock them over.

*Her Pacifiers, *pouch food, *clapping hands, *music, *naps, *bath time*


*diaper changes, * being left alone, *Having to wait long for her bottle*

Book of the Month: "Olivia," by Ian Falconer- it makes me laugh every time, which makes Grace laugh!

Song of the Month: "Old MacDonald Had a Farm," Grace got a see-n-say and loves when we pull the handle and get to hear the song and the animal noises!


*Grace got her first tooth (bottom middle) and loves to lick it, ha!

*Grace uses a really deep gurgly voice sometimes, it's pretty funny.

*She has started to really explore her environment- trouble with a capital T.

Grace, my curious baby girl. I love you so much and I can't help but staring at you all day long. You are learning so many new things and have changed so quickly over the last month. I truly feel like you have left the infant stage and are now in this short lived creeper/crawler stage before toddlerhood. I pray every day that you grow up to know how much we love you and that one day you will love the Lord with all of your heart.

Your Momma

Thursday, February 2, 2012

It's February and....

It's February and....

*my parents just left after a 10 day visit. It was wonderful and we were able to do alot of fun things together.

*we just took down our Christmas tree. It took all of 5 minutes to do, but I'm so glad we got to enjoy it for longer this year.

*that means we only have 4 and a half more months here. I'm so excited to move, I can hardly stand it. We'll get to house hunt in early March, and hopefully we'll find a place quickly so I can begin finding things to decorate/furnish with.

*Grace is crazy. She moves more than I ever thought possible and she's constantly jabbering/yelling. She is crawling like a mad woman and pulling up on things and successfully lowering herself down. Her yeast infection has finally started to clear up, nearly 2 months later. She is 10 months old today.

*I remembered my love for puzzles and puzzling while my parents were here. We did two puzzles, a 500 and an 1,000 piece puzzle, and now I wish I had more.

*I've started writing on my book review blog, Bound to Books, again. It's been awhile, but I'm finally getting back into reading.

*we sill don't have working batteries for either of our laptops, and mine will only power on when plugged in to the cord on my desk, meaning I end up using my husband's alot more. His "t," key is broken, so posting takes alot more thought and deliberating in checking my spelling!

*I already had to relook at my goals for the year because I forgot what they were, ha!

*we have three more days left until we start our final semester. Ian and I plan on saying home, getting Grace back into her normal schedule, and piecing our house back together. Ian will spend time playing his new video game and I will be blogging and reading by his side. We're looking forward o this time of relaxation.