Monday, April 29, 2013

This and That

Hosted This
7 families worth of guests have been in our house over the last four weeks. That's alot of linen washing. And right now we are watching our friends' 4 year old and 6 year old for the week as they travel!

 Cooked That
 Rosemary Chicken. It was amazing. If only I can remember where I found the recipe!

Read This
Really, I am in the middle of reading Sophie Kinsella's latest novel that was released last week. I just don't have the energy to do much of anything. Also, I have been enjoying some magazines that some guests brought from the States, mainly RealSimple!

Watched That
 Ian and I went to the theaters last week when our guests let us have a date night and saw Oblivion. It was very good, and I'm not much of a Cruise fan, so that is saying something!

Did This
Spent the night with a friend whose baby boy was admitted to the hospital. Really, I just slept in a chair for the night, because her son was a doll and slept for most of the night! The nurses came in quite a bit to check on him and give medicine though so I am zonked today!

Celebrated That
 Sophia turned 7 months old today! Who knows when I will get my act together and write her update post, but I DID kiss her cheeks extra hard today!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

There's Something About That Song

With all of the events that have transpired over the last week, I find myself facing an expatriate dilemma.

I am disconnected to what is going on in my country.

Maybe not factually disconnected, but perhaps emotionally disconnected. International reporting on the events lose a sense of passion and patriotism and are rather lack luster. I read the headlines and listen to reporting. I talk with my friends from England and South Africa. Everyone says what a shame it is. How horrific and terrible. But the connections aren't there. It's not their families, friends, neighbors that are in peril. It's my countrymen who are suffering but I am having a hard time remembering that.

I've talked with Ian about it all week.

"What's wrong with me? Why don't I feel connected? Why am I not as sympathetic and empathetic about this?"

To be clear, I am sympathetic, I think I compare everything to 9/11 though and if it is not as severe and grand in size and scale then it doesn't seem as big of a deal to me.

I've prayed for my nation, for wisdom, for perseverence, and I've also prayed that I won't lose my sense of connection with my home country.

And then I saw the clip. A facebook video showing college students cheering on Boston's finest after the capture of the 2nd suspect. And then they break out into song. Not just any old song. But our national anthem.

And though it is 7 o clock in the morning my time, and my day is just getting started with the rising sun, I weep.

I sob through the fervent raised voices of a nation that unites during the most terrible of tragedies.

Who sing a song that has been sung for decades upon decades.

A country who may not agree on very much, but concordantly agree on one thing- this time, evil is not a grey issue. It is black and white. And we have seen victory this week.

"Oh, say! does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?"

Friday, April 19, 2013

Well, I Suppose Time Flies When You Are Having Fun

Ten days later. I'd like to say that I've sat down to blog several times but it just hasn't happened. It has been a complete mad house around here.

We went on a trip. Our friends came back from the States and finally found a house and were moving in, so we took a six hour road trip and helped them unpack.

It was really good to see our friends and just share life with people we love.

Sophia gave us one glorious, full night of sleep. We're hoping it's more a habit than a rarity. But, I promised myself to start working out when she sleeps through the night, so I'm a little hesitant to wish for that. 

Because, let's face it, I'm in no shape to get back into shape.

Grace is in a 2 year old funk. She has this perpetual whine going on and it is a relief when she is back to her sweet, cuddly self. It's really only bad when she is around older kids (who use the words "No," or "Mine," liberally.)

 It was 109 degrees here today. One Hundred and Nine. And it is only April. And it's not a dry heat, we have high humidity here on top of that.

This summer might kill me.
 I got to snuggle my friend's new son, Baby Will, who Grace refers to as "Baby We-ill" all day long. He is 3 months old, so chill, and is bigger than Sophia already!

On the day that we drove back, we got in at 7 pm and Ian had to run out right away and pick up our house guests from the airport at 8! We had fun showing them around Abu Dhabi but especially enjoyed the moment when Grace slipped under the rope at the Grand Mosque and went on a running spree and had to be chased by a security guard.

Awesome parenting moment.

She makes friends with everyone though, so that helps makes up for it a little bit.

Our guests even let us go out one night, so we got our date night in for the year, ha. We really need to find a babysitter.

Would that statement be funnier with a hashtag? Let's see.


We had a serious case of the miscommunication this morning. I got up, showered, did my hair, and got ready for church. I came downstairs and told Ian he could go shower. He came back downstairs a while later in shorts and a t shirt and when I asked why he wasn't getting ready for church, he said that he didn't realize we were going! I asked why he thought I told him to shower and he said that maybe I thought he smelled! Ha. Grace and I went on while Ian stayed home with a sleeping Sophia.

And now, just 24 hours after our last guests left, we have new ones arriving in the morning. Woohoo.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

{21, 22, 23, 24}

Poor Sophia. Classic second born child issues. Her "week by week" pictures could alternatively be entitled "at least I remembered to take out my camera this month." But that isn't very clever, is it? Her weekly pictures may not have happened in that week but you can see a progression as she's grown! And I'm just about caught up so hopefully they will be truer to name from now on.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Freezer Meals: Meatballs

The day of Grace's second birthday party I was in need of another main course to serve at her party. I had intended to pick up frozen meatballs from Ikea (only place I know that sells them here,) but I had forgotten. Typical. So I hopped onto pinterest in hopes to find a quick and easy barbecue meatball recipe. I was pretty quickly annoyed when every recipe I opened up included two ingredients:

1. frozen meatballs.
2. barbecue sauce

Finally, I just winged it and came up with my own meatball recipe and it turned out great. The wonderful thing about meatballs is that you can mix up huge batches just as easily as a small batch, and once they are baked and cooled you can separate and freeze them into portions for each meal. The recipe below makes about 50 meatballs but could easily be doubled.

And meatballs aren't just for spaghetti. We use them in meatball subs, barbecue meatballs, meatball stroganoff, or reheated with taco seasoning and served over some spanish rice.

And I have now use the word "meatball" more than I thought I would in my entire life.

Here's the recipe:

2 lbs ground beef (not lean!)
4 eggs
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs

2 tbs oregano
2 tbs thyme
2 tbs basil

Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Using clean hands (and take off your rings!) thoroughly mix all ingredients evenly. Use hands to form the meat into small balls, roughly the size of a doughnut hole and place on broiling pan so that fat/grease can drain off of them. Place meatballs on pan with space between so that they can cook evenly and don't stick together*.  Cook at 350 for 30 minutes. Remove and let cool completely. If using, use immediately in recipe. If freezing, let cool for one hour on countertop. Place family size servings ** in freezer proof container or baggie and freeze. When using from freezer, let thaw for  45 minutes to an hour before using in a recipe.


*I can fit all 50 onto one pan with just a little space between each of them
** We use 10-12 for 2 adults. 15 for 2 adults and 1 toddler.

Monday, April 8, 2013

This and That

Snapped This
This was a rather pictureless week. We recovered from having three different families of guests over a four day period by washing alot of linens and promising not to cook for a couple of days. Sophia started sitting up without support and she finally remembered how to roll over. Grace seemed to take off in her language ability, really using descriptive words like hot, cold, light, heavy, happy, sad, and pretty. She also has a sudden interest in sign language and it has reminded me how sponge like these baabies' minds are when they are little!

Celebrated That

Three years out of the US of A. I'm not really sure if we are "celebrating" this, but three years ago, on April 7th, 2010, Ian and I got on an airplane and left our home country for a new adventure. We haven't set foot back in America since then, which is hard to believe! When we left the USA we had been married for (almost) 2 years and were not pregnant with Grace. This summer, when we come back for a little bit, we'll be returning being married for over 5 years with TWO children! Crazy.

Read This

I finished reading Insurgent, by Veronica Roth. I can't believe I have to wait until the fall for the third and final book to be released! I'm also anticipating the release of Sophie Kinsella's new book this spring.

Watched That

More Bones and New Girl, but also alot of cooking shows, specifically MasterChef. Is that on in the States? It's Australian and I love it. I also watched an entire episode of the Bold and the Beautiful with my Arabic speaking neighbor. It was an odd moment for me. 1.) because she couldn't understand what was being said, and 2.) because all she could understand was what was shown (elicit relationships, violence, etc) and I think she thinks that is what life is like for all Americans. Ha!

Baked This

Grace's Birthday rolled around and I realized that I hadn't really planned to do anything on her actual birthday. I whipped up this fast and simple cinnamon bun cake and it was delicious! We had a great time as a family, just hanging out and focusing on play that day.
Bought That

Shoes. For Ian. Because his flip flops have a hole straight through the sole of it. Like, a hole bigger than two quarters. And it's been that way for over 4 months! All of the stores had winter things though (because OBVIOUSLY our Abu Dhabi winter requires parkas, gloves, and wool lined boots,) and we couldn't replace his leather flip flops until just now. Actually, we could replace them, but the only thing we could find would be the sandals that have heels. Yes. A men's sandal. And we just couldn't stomach that. Call me old fashioned.

I've been mulling over my desire to have a new hobby. I'm not sure what to do or what I want to do, but I know I want to pick something up. Maybe sewing/embroidering? I could get a machine while we are in the States? Maybe more consistent blogging? Ha. Who knows!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Happy Six Months, Sophia!

 Sophia Anne turned six months old last week! She is changing so much, right before my eyes and I am truly enjoying my tie with her. Life is more balanced now and she is growing and getting stronger every day!

Weight-13.3 pounds
Height- 25 inches
Clothes- 0-3 months (though just 3 days after she turned 6 months I moved her up.)
Diaper- size 2
Shoes- newborn/size 1

Sophia's sleep is steadily getting better. Her nighttime sleep is from 7 pm until 6 am waking only once between 2-4 am. She is up for 1- 1.5 hours at a time and then asleep for 2- 1.5 hours, making a 3 hour cycle during the day. Her last nap of the day tends to only be one hour, from 5-6 pm.

Sometime earlier in the month Ian and I sat down and tried to evaluate what we were doing differently with Sophia from Grace and what we needed to change. Ian went out right then and bought a cd player and we started playing the same cd for all sleeping periods. We also gave her two little "deal" blankets that she likes to rub her face in and clutch. Within one day her sleep had gotten better.

She is quite the mover when she sleeps, and we often find her at the foot of her bed, all entwined in her bumper. I'm glad we have the bumper though, because she would get stuck every time she slept otherwise!

Sophia finally started taking a bottle this month! Yay for a little bit of freedom! She is a champ with it and can hold it all by herself.

Sophia started on rice cereal this month and really likes it. She is a much messier eater than Grace was though, and I'm constantly having to scrub it out of her eyelashes!

She is still nursing every 3 hours during the day (or closer together if I'm trying to keep her happy/keep her quiet.) and once at night.

At her 6 month check up Sophia's weight was a bit of a concern, as she had dropped from the 25th percentile to the 10th. I remembered that this was the same exact pattern that Grace had though and the doctor suggested it could just be a hormonal change causing a change in my milk or that Sophia is growing. Since Sophia had already started on solids and is occasionally getting a formula bottle, however, the doctor isn't concerned.

Sophia spent a couple of days practicing her rolling and then stopped doing it altogether! She does roll over onto her belly at night though.

She also went from never sitting up to being able to sit unassisted in just a matter of days. I suppose that happened at 6 months +3 days or so, so it will have to officially go on next month's update.

Sophia likes to hold soft objects and still loves to be held. She loves to ride in our Boba carrier while I vacuum and squeals with glee whenever people talk to her.

Sophia is still a high maintenance baby, despite the forward progress. She needs to have your complete attention while she is awake and she loves eye contact. She can be soothed quickly by physical contact and by singing.

*She still has one dimple, on her right cheek that is just too cute!
*Her eyes are a gray/blue and I bet her eyes will be gray like her sister's!
*Almost everyone agrees, she resembles her sister but is not a perfect match for her. Sophia takes after me and Grace takes after Ian.
*Sophia is still on medicine for reflux after seeing a specialist early this month.
*She LOVES Grace and gets really happy when Grace plays near her
*She HATES bath time so it does not happen very often.
*We like her to be called Sophia, not Sophie. Occasionally we refer to her as So-So, or Fia, but those are just nick names from when Grace was learning to say her name.

Half a year has gone by and I can't imagine our family with out you! You have taught me so much about motherhood, persistence, patience, and a love that grows beyond the borders of my heart. I pray every day that you will grow old to know this same love and that one day you will follow Jesus as your Lord and Savior. We thank Him for the blessing that is your life.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Happy 2nd Birthday, Grace!

Yesterday, April 2nd, 2013, Grace Madeline turned two years old!

We celebrated with a party on Saturday. We kept it simple, with a loosely based "Elmo," theme with lots of red, green, and yellow balloons, and about 30 visitors into our house.

On her actual birthday, we made a cake and played all day long. She got to skype with both sets of grandparents and opened two gifts. It was her golden birthday, how special! (2 years old on the 2nd)

A little update on Grace:

Height- 35.8 inches (90th percentile)
Weight- 24.7 pounds (25th percentile)
Clothes- 18 to 24 months
Diapers- 4+
Shoes- size 5

Grace is still a wonderful sleeper. We worked really hard to get her to be this way and we are so glad we put in the time and effort early on! She sleeps from 7 pm until 7 am and still takes two naps a day, usually two hours each. Typically her naps are from 10-12 and 2-4. If we miss a morning nap it doesn't really effect how long her afternoon nap is, so I'll keep her on two naps for as long as possible!

Grace eats cereal and milk every morning but also loves pancakes and waffles. Lunch is usually yogurt, a PB and J, or leftovers, and dinner is whatever we are eating. She still isn't crazy about pasta,  pizza, or condiments, but loves chicken nuggets, pretzels, and strawberries.

Potty Training
Back in January, when Grace was 21 months old, we started potty training Grace. We rolled up the carpet and watched alot of tv for about 3 days, taking Grace to the potty every 15 to 20 minutes. After day 2 she would sign and say potty whenever she needed to go and would be rewarded with a small piece of candy. She's only had a few accidents when we are out in public, usually because I forget to take her to the bathroom. She's probably had 15 accidents at home with several of those being during her nap time. Just in the last week she's done alot better at holding it during her nap time. She still wears a diaper at night.

Grace loves reading books, especially her Potty book or any non fiction picture/label book. She randomly loves playing with her baby dolls or pushing her car around. She likes the idea of coloring but will only do it for about 3-5 minutes. She likes some of our sensory bins but isn't crazy about play dough. She's finally old enough to sit still for her Bible story every night and it is one of my favorite moments in our day. She also loves to jump on trampolines and help me cook.

Grace's speaking ability is just now stretching to 2-3 word phrases. She's finally starting to babble more too. It's fun to catch a glimpse of a word or two in amongst the nonsense. Some of our favorite things she says are: Good morning, more please, hot dog (what she calls mickey and minnie) here you go momma, bye bye (when she wants something to go away or end,) oh no! Broken! *gasp* and then says a kids name when she wants to see or play with them.

We also pray with her at dinner and bedtime and it usually goes something like this:
I love you. Thank you, for momma, dadda, So So (Sophia,) food, toys, friends. I love you. Amen.

I can't believe that two years have gone by since the first time I held her in my arms. Grace made me a mother late one April night. I am so blessed by her energy, enthusiasm, and endless love. I love you, Gracie girl!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Easter in the Middle East

 We had a long Easter weekend here. It started on Thursday when a package from my parents arrived with some Easter and birthday treats arrived for Grace and Sophia. Grace tasted a Peep but decided they weren't for her. I don't blame her...the texture has always weirded me out.

Friday is our day of worship out here, so we all got dressed up and went to church. The girls looked precious in their pink. Grace wore a new dress and shoes from my parents and Sophia wore the outfit that Grace wore for her baby dedication.

 The rest of our Easter weekend continued on Saturday evening, post birthday party bash, when we headed to a picnic our church was hosting at a park. The kids played and the adults chatted before there was a craft (decorating an Easter bag) and then an egg hunt. This was Grace's first egg hunt so she didn't really get the concept. She walked around saying "Where are you egg?" and then when she found one, "There you are!" She was happy with just the one egg!

Since we had some friends in from out of town, we headed to one of the few Mexican restaurants. It's at a hotel and is on a golf course/beach and you can sit outside on the deck and there is a playground for the kids, it's just great.
 Grace appreciated the fajitas. I did NOT appreciate the fact that she, um, got sick to her stomach while on the playground and tracked it all the way through the hotel lobby. So much for a clean Easter dress! Luckily my friend had an extra outfit and it fit Grace.

 Easter morning we had a quick breakfast and had the kids explore their Easter baskets. We don't go overboard on gifts or candy, but each girl got a book (one on animals, one on colors,) a treat (Grace got dried apples and a juice box, and Sophia got some carrots) and I also got Grace her own set of silverware.
 Grace was very excited about her juice box. For some reason we don't do juice very often, just milk or water, so Grace is all about a juice box that is all hers!

Us and our house guests loaded up and went to the beach on Easter. We snapped a quick photo before getting in the water.

 And watched as the men went out on the bridge and jumped into the water! It took them all awhile to make the leap and jump off, but they had fun once they did! Also, this would be a perfect example of peer pressure.
 Grace played in the sand and water and I had my hands full with a sleeping Sophia.

 All of the kiddos at the beach. We have a great group of kids, from 6 months to 6 years!

 While our guests headed to Ikea, Ian and I went home, got the girls bathed and put down for naps, and started on brunch. We made bacon, quiche, fruit salad, and waffles. Our friends came back and we had a great meal before they had to hit the road.
 The kids table was my favorite! I can't believe I am old enough to have a kids table at my Easter brunch. The paper had eggs drawn on it and the kids "decorated" eggs with crayons and stickers while they waited for food or to be done.

We had such a great time with our friends this Easter! I would love to make it a tradition to be able to be with this group of people each year! Who knows where we will all be in one year but it would be so much fun!