Tuesday, December 31, 2013

On The Last Day of 2013

Snippets of our last day of 2013 which just so happened to be our first day back in Abu Dhabi! 

-Grace sleeping in our bed for the first time ever, for the last few hours before we got up. 

-waking up in our hotel and looking out to see the skyscrapers around us!

-Taxi rides- Grace was pretty disturbed that A) we didn't have our own car and B) a stranger was driving us. 

-Lunch out and errands with my little family, so happy to be back where we know we are supposed to be!

-Long afternoon nap as we all begin dealing with the beast that is jet lag!

-Waking up to The Sound of Music on TV. An Anime version. In Arabic. What a different world we are in now!

-Exploring the city around us on foot at night. Grace skipping gleefully along and Sophia waving at passerbyes. 

-NYE dinner at a falafel place with Auld Lang Syne in the background. Surreal. 

-Grace begging us for a Banana Juice from the juice place down the road, so glad that these odd things are so normal for her!

-Snuggled on the couch with Ian, watching an Arabic trivia show that we totally would have won. Maybe next year! 

Happy New Years!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Sophia's First Birthday...Take Two!

I'm almost completely caught up on the major events of our time in the States, and it's a good thing too, since we only have three days left! It is currently a blur of packed and yet to be packed suitcases and as much family time as possible.

Back in October Ian's parents threw a family birthday party for Sophia. Pinata and all! Grace was pretty intrigued by the pinata and downright gleeful about the goodies that was stashed inside

Sophia was pretty much happy chewing on a stuffed animal. But that is a one year old for you!

Presents for Sophia mainly consisted of new clothes and a Minnie Mouse doll that sang

We then moved onto cake time. Sophia was a pro by round two and pretty much stuck to the icing before calling it quits.

We loved being able to celebrate Sophia's first birthday with both sides of our family and this party was special because Kim, Ian's mom, was able to be there for Sophia's delivery and then again to celebrate her first birthday!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

{Christmas 2013}

The Christmas lights are still twinkling in the background as I write this, but there will probably not be any more Christmas music on and all of the presents have been unwrapped. And don't even get me started about how three (yes, three!) pie plates will be empty by morning.

Christmas 2013 is coming to a quiet and peaceful end in the Galloway household tonight. The girls went to bed early out of sheer exhaustion and the adults cleaned up the house and played a board game.

(And can I just say, I still think it is weird that I am part of the "adult" group at get togethers, even at 26!)

We did things a little backwards this year. We did Christmas Eve service and Ian's brother's church, an easy hamburger on the grill dinner, and then we did family present time. It was a beautiful chaos. Paper was literally flying in all directions and I sat back, jaw dropped, at my two children, nay, hyenas, who tore through packages faster than they can drink a juice box.

Ian's younger brother passed out the presents like he was dealing cards and before I knew it, everyone else had opened all of their gifts but I hadn't even touched mine! I got the girls set up playing with new toys and then was able to quietly open gifts by myself.

The last present we opened was the girls Christmas pajamas and then we read the Nativity story to them before bed.

Christmas morning started off with a sweet gift of Sophia sleeping until nearly 7! I got up with her and started on breakfast- cinnamon rolls, orange rolls, and bacon wrapped lil smokies. Breakfast of champions, right?

Ian, his mom, and Grace woke up about 7:30 and then we moved on to presents. I had wanted for us to be able to open presents on Christmas day, since that is our tradition, so we set aside our gifts for each other and for the girls for Christmas morning. The girls opened their stockings and then played with the dollhouse that had been set up in front of the tree while Ian and I opened our stockings. Oddly enough, one of the DVD's Ian got me was still in its security case! I guess I'm going  to have to take it back and see if they will open it up.

The girls gifts were opened in about ten minutes and then Ian's parents took the girls out to the kitchen to eat breakfast. Ian and I opened up our gifts to each other before moving on with our morning.

I took my time and leisurely cooked until about 1 pm, while Ian took care of the girls and messed around with his new PS4 (not a Christmas present but he just got it.)

Ian's brothers and sister in law arrived and then we all sat down to a huge meal of honey baked ham, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, hot curried fruit, and squash. The girls went down for their nap in the middle of lunch (they were DONE!) and then we went out to see Anchorman 2 while Ian's parents stayed back with the girls.

We met them at the park after the movie and played with the girls for awhile before going back home. We were able to skype with my family which was a really sweet time for us.

We had leftovers for dinner, got the girls back in their Christmas pajamas, then put them to bed by 7.

All of us big kids played Ticket to Ride until bedtime, wrapping up a fun couple of days of family activities.

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and that you remembered to slow down and enjoy the moments and memories. Give a  hug and a kiss to those that you love and tell them why you appreciate them!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Grace's First Haircut...Pixie Dust Style

Grace's hair didn't really start growing until after her second birthday. With our impending trip to the States and knowing that we would have season passes to Disney, I really wanted Grace to be able to have her first haircut done at Disney, so I held out for months!

Finally, after unsuccessfully scheduling an appointment (they were booked for two months!) I asked my father in law to pop in and see if they had any room for a walk in. We were on the monorail on our way to the Magic Kingdom and when my father in law texted, saying there was room, I was so excited!

Grace wasn't nervous but was a little uneasy about everyone looking at her and taking pictures! The nice ladies in the barbershop were so sweet to Grace, gave her a light up toy to play with, and sat her in a chair. She wet her her a little, trimmed it, and saved a little curl lock (what am I supposed to do with that? It kind of grosses me out.)

She got a pair of Mickey Ears that say First Haircut, we snapped a picture, and then she asked Grace if she wanted "Princess hair."

A bun on top of her head, some hairspray, and some cute sparkles/confetti later and we had one happy toddler with Princess Hair!
We were so excited that Ian's parents got to share in this special "First" moment with us and loved how big our Grace looked with her hair pulled up!

I loved our experience here and would recommend it to anyone thinking about getting their child's first haircut done at Harmony Barber Shop on Main Street in Magic Kingdom!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Most Magical Place on Earth

When we arrived in Orlando this summer, there was one thing that we couldn't wait to do... Go to Disney! I grew up in Orlando so Disney was part of my childhood! We didn't go all the time and I've never been a season ticket holder, but some of my fondest childhood memories are at Disney- like the time we got dressed and in the car for school and my parents said "Guess what? We aren't going to school today, we're going to Disney!"

Coming into my teenage years I was able to go a little more often once I could drive and had money from babysitting. My friends and I would go for a day or we would go on free tickets from a friend's employee family member. Every fall I took part of a fundraiser for a children's charity and went at night. It really is a magical place.

Ian and I have gone many times together to Disney throughout our dating and engagement and a couple of times before we left the States. We always swore that we wouldn't be those people who bring their baby or preschooler just to have total meltdowns and a sleeping child in a stroller.


When we got back to the States, Ian's parents gave us season passes for our time here and since both the girls are under 3 they get in for free! We figured, why not? So we headed to my favorite Disney Park, Magic Kingdom.

We met up with Ian's parents and then started walking down Main Street towards the Castle. A show happened to be going on right then so we paused to take a look, and, wouldn't you know it, Cinderella was there.

Surprise, surprise! Grace FREAKED OUT. I really had no idea that she would do that.

She pointed her finger at Cinderella and started hysterically sobbing. I just stared at Grace wide eyed, trying to figure out how she even knows who Cinderella was (I mean, she's seen the movie once but that is it!)

She sobbed the entire time Cinderella was dancing on the stage, then laid her head down on my shoulder, said "I so excited! Cinderella here!"

And that is how we began our Disney day!

I won't bore you with a play by play of our day, but we did get to go on at least ten rides, meet some characters, have a good lunch, and the girls were able to nap in our (amazing) stroller and the adults took turns riding rides then.

Grace wasn't crazy about meeting costumed characters but she loved Dumbo, Winnie the Pooh, and the new Ariel ride. The girls' first ride that they ever rode on was It's a Small World, and they were enchanted from the very beginning. All throughout our time in Orlando, whenever we go to Magic Kingdom, we make a beeline for Small World because the girls love it so much!

We've gone nearly a dozen times in the past three months and I have a bunch of tips for you, both from the perspective of a native and a mom!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Miscellany Monday

Is it really Monday? Because I have officially lost all concepts of time and dates. We are in the home stretch of our time in the States and have less than three weeks left (!!)

{one} We are currently driving back to Orlando from Nashville for our final big road trip. 

And then, the crazy begins. 

Please see evidence A: 
Every dot on a day means we have a big event scheduled for that day- and we have yet to see so many friends! We are going to run out of time and I am dealing with some serious guilt issues about not being able to see everyone while we are stateside. 

And you see those free dates? They are sacred. Considering we leave before the first of the year, our plates are full!

{two} We had the best time with my parents these last two weeks. Goodbyes were painfully hard but we are so grateful that we have supportive families that love us! 

{Three} I have to brag on Grace for a minute. She is two and a half and not night potty trained but she just made a thirteen hour car ride only stopping to use the bathroom the two times we got gas and a meal and one emergency stop. Amazing!  

She also likes to yell "Awkward!" At inappropriate moments, but that is a story for another day. 

{four} We took the girls to see Santa at the Opryland hotel. The girls did great. Sophia just sat there with a face that said "Well, this is unusual," while Grace told him "ho ho ho, Merry Christmas!"

Then she told him that she wanted a trampoline for Christmas. 

Keep dreaming, kid, because I don't think that's going to fit in a suitcase. 

She keeps talking about seeing Santa and then gets all offended, saying, "Hey! Where is MY trampoline?!"

I'm thinking she also hasn't quite grasped the concept of asking and waiting. 

Sorry the picture is off, will do a scanned one later. 

{five} Ian's still job hunting for work overseas in Abu Dhabi but we still plan to leave right before New Years regardless. Crazy? Oh, yes. But we know we are supposed to be there so we just keep moving forward on faith. 

It is a very stretching time though, having so much unknown before us. We would really appreciate your prayers right now. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Happy Thanksmas!

Since we are splitting our holidays between sides of the family this year, we are spending Thanksgiving with my family in Nashville and Christmas with Ian's in Orlando. We wanted to be able to do Christmas with my parents as well though, so we combined the holidays into one jam packed, fun filled, holiday weekend called Thanksmas!

 My sister and brother-in-law arrived Wednesday afternoon and all the ladies sat down and made a game plan for turkey day. Thursday morning, Thanksgiving day, meant cooking began! It was actually a pretty easy morning. With three capable women in the kitchen we were able to divide and conquer, all while the men entertained the girls upstairs.

Turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, corn casserole, sweet potato suffle, rolls, and cranberry sauce were on the menu, with sweet potato, chocolate pecan, and apple pie as desserts!

Thanksgiving night we headed out to find a new tree farm (their old one shut down,) and picked out the perfect tree. The farm had the cutest little barn area set up to get out of the cold. There were lights, hot chocolate, hay bales, and coloring books to take home!

We took the tree home, dragged out the decorations, and set it up! While we were decorating I set up my camera on the tripod and used my remote to capture all sorts of moments and I just love the pictures that caught the spirit of the night!

When Grace and Ian went to put the angel up on the tree we had the most unfortunate (and hilarious) event...
The angel's head came off and was impaled by the tree!! Several days later she was repaired and all was okay.

The next day, my sister and Grace decorated a gingerbread house. Really, Heather decorated the house and Grace licked all of the decorations. In the end, both were pleased with the results.

Christmas eve my dad read the Nativity story to the girls and then they opened up their Christmas pajamas.

Christmas morning, the girls woke up rather late, around 7, and we got right down to business, opening stockings and then presents. We let the girls open all of their presents first, then laid Sophia down for her nap while the adults took a much more leisurely pace with our gifts. My parents made us a pancake breakfast after that and we enjoyed a nice Christmas brunch, bacon and all.
I took the girls outside to do their Christmas pictures. It wasn't much of a success. I'm not used to this early sunset business, so I tried doing it before their nap which meant we were out in the noon day sun (stupid, I know,)  I got a few cute shots but they aren't my favorite. I'm also working my way through a glitchy camera (sand in the body, perhaps,) and an overwhelmingly large number of photos from our time in the States. I'm pretty sure I need to just choose my favorite 10 photos from each event and then DELETE the rest so that I don't have to keep sifting through them. I shot 600 pictures in our Thanksmas weekend. Crazy!

Saturday we watched football, baked, and went to see some local light displays. We ended the night with a game of Five Crowns. Sunday we went to church together and then to a Hibachi grill. Turns out, both of my girls are terrified of fire, so that was not a hit. They did love the chicken though. You know, once the terrified screaming and petrified shaking came to an end.

 We came home from church and my sister and brother in law packed up and hit the road. It was a sad goodbye to the girls' Aunt Heather and Uncle Ryan. Hopefully we can see them over on the other side of the ocean soon!

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving + Christmas with my family and feel odd that there is still 20 days until the real Christmas day!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Our Little Piece of Heaven

We spent a long weekend up in the North Georgia mountains with Ian's grandparents. Their house and property are, what we consider, our very own little piece of heaven.

We've visited them up here as often as possible since we've been married. We've been able to see all the different seasons and get to enjoy Pop and Mimi's company. Since we've been in the States we have passed through their area three times, but this weekend was the longest of our visits.

We spent lazy afternoons tromping through misty grasses and exploring all the nooks and crannies of Mimi's extensive gardens (there are approximately 7 swings and a dozen rockers around the property. And, of course, Grace had to try each and every one out!)

We got to wear warm coats and boots and pretend that this was "normal" for us for a moment. We explained mountains, deers, trees, and boulders to Grace and Sophia.

On our first full afternoon we took the girls to the nearby Cabbage Patch Kids Baby Hospital to explore the dolls and to pick out a doll for each girl, a gift from their great grandparents.

There were hundreds of dolls in that place, and you could plop one in a baby stroller and run around and play! It was a definite collector's paradise. I'm more of an American Girl Doll person myself, so I was a little mystified by the grown women sitting on the floor, gushing over a doll, but to each their own, right?

We returned the next afternoon to check out a Christmas festival and to see the "live delivery," of a cabbage patch baby. It was cute/creepy all at the same time. Grace liked it though and talked about how she got to see a baby "come out," all day!

I'm just hoping we didn't scar her for life!

Our favorite part of Ian's grandparents mountain home is the guest apartment that is attached to the house. We have these amazing views from our bed and it is just the most relaxing place! We always feel so rested after some time here. I just wish we had come when it was slightly warmer so that we could have gotten some hiking in!

Our original purpose for going up there, besides to see Pop and Mimi, was for Ian and his Dad to be able to go to a University of Georgia (UGA,) football game in Athens, GA. It was one of the items on our 30 before 30 list and Ian was so excited to have landed some sweet seats. They had a blast at the game and won!

We were able to snap a four generation picture on Sunday, before church. Grace, Ian's dad, Ian's Pop, Sophia, and Ian, made up a four generation picture of Galloways! Such a special moment!

And we snuck in one more picture with Mimi and Pop. Poor Mimi had just had a knee replacement surgery two weeks before hand so she was, obviously, not feeling the best. She was a trooper though! She loved on the girls and entertained them when they came running into her room.