Friday, April 29, 2011


We are three weeks away from leaving so it is crunch time!

We received our flight itinerary today and are scheduled to depart from Houston the night of May 19th and fly into Dubai about 15 hours later where we have a significant layover so we will be getting a room at the airport hotel to allow us to shower, recharge, let Peyton run around and then we have a short flight of just an hour into Saudi however we arrive in the early, early morning which should be interesting but figured that our kids are going to have no idea what time it is so it won't matter too much!

I promised more here are some of the most common questions that we get when we tell people we are moving to Saudi Arabia.

How long are you going to be there?
We are not under a contract that requires us to commit to a certain length of time, however, we have determined that five years allows us to meet our financial goals as well as provide the greatest career development for John. We will reevaluate at that time if we would like to stay longer or come home. There is not a high school for the kids and we have decided that we don't want to pursue the boarding school option so we will be coming home no later than when Peyton enters into junior high so that she has time to adjust back to life in America.

Where are you living?
We will be living in Ras Tanura which is a city in the Eastern province of Saudi Arabia, right on the water.

We will be residing the Saudi Aramco Ras Tanura camp which houses around 3,000 people. It is really like a little town complete with a grocery store, medical facilities, gym, community center, pools, restaurants, banking and more. There are all kinds of different house sizes from apartments to four bedroom houses. We will have our own three bedroom house that we pay a minimum rent on but that rent includes all our utilities.

Here is what the house will look like....Are you able to ship your stuff? The houses come furnished with minimal stuff and from what we have been told not very nice since we receive a sea shipping allowance of 12,000 lbs (takes approximately 2-3 months to arrive) and after three months you have to start paying rent on the furniture, we have decided to ship whatever furniture we want over there. And since I really want our house to feel like a refuge from the craziness and unknown and just a place of comfort, I have been buying other things to help make it feel like home such as rugs etc. We also receive 2 boxes at 800lbs total of an air shipment that would arrive in 2-3 weeks. This will be packed mostly with baby/kid supplies. And most likely we will be bringing a LARGE amount of suitcases with us and paying excess baggage in order to bring all the needed clothes, baby supplies, Peyton supplies to make it until our sea shipment comes.

Part of our stress right now has been doing an inventory of everything in our house and sorting it into the different areas. I started an inventory in Excel and then received the shipping forms and have the pleasure in the coming days to copy everything to the shipping forms which are 50 blank lines with a total value at the end of each page so I have a huge stack of them and a lot of work to do in 3 weeks considering I haven't even finished the inventory of the house or purchasing everything I want to take!

Do you have to wear an abaya? I do have to wear the black abaya that covers my arms, body and legs when I leave the camp. I do not have to wear it on our residential camp and essentially have no restrictions on my dress (besides wearing a one piece swimsuit which shouldn't be an issue after having two kids) and can even drive (I can't drive off the camp). However when I do leave I will need to cover up. I do not have to wear a head wrap and will just carry one with me in case if the religious police ask me to cover my head. I ordered a plain abaya online to wear for when I first get there and then I am planning to look for a nicer one there.

Alright...that is all I can think of right now and I have a long list of things to get done for the day!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Go, Go, Go...

....Go on an Adventure! Borrowing a line from the Cat and the Hat....The Acord family is about to "GO" on a big adventure! It is finally all official and we can finally share with everyone something that we have been planning and praying over for many, many months. We are packing up and moving to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia!

Yes, you read that correctly! It has been a long and at times stressful process to get to the place where we could share this with all of our friends and make it public. It has always been a desire of ours to move overseas but we were not sure when or if that would ever happen for us.

Here is a condensed version of our journey to get here.....
Shortly after we found out we were pregnant with Graham, John approached me with the idea of him applying for a job with Saudi Aramco. I didn't really know what I thought about it but we knew the application/interview/visa process was LONG so I said to go ahead and look more into it and we would pray, talk, consider it as we went along. John applied, we waited for awhile, prayed, researched the opportunity, had many late night talks and then we finally got the notice that he had an interview. The interview went well and he was told to pretty much expect an offer. We went to an orientation to gather more information to help us decide if this was the right move for our family. Then we waited some more, prayed a whole lot, made pro/con lists, prayed more, sought guidance from my parents and accountability partners, talked through all of the scenarios and after waiting a little bit more and we received word late February that an offer was extended. Our prayer throughout this was that as much as we felt this was right, what we wanted and the next step for our family, if we did not both have absolute peace when the offer came that we wouldn't do it. Well, when we saw the FedEx package at our door with all the details we were excited and both felt God telling us that this was right. So, a couple of days before Graham was born, we signed the papers and sent them back. I told John that if we were going to do this that I would need to sign and send back the paperwork before Graham came or otherwise the stress and insanity of having a baby would make me back out! After we accepted the offer we entered a whole new stage of waiting and craziness. We had LOTS of paperwork and also had to rush on getting Graham's birth certificate and passport in order to finalize everything. After a couple of stressful weeks we finally got everything back to Aramco and then we just had to wait, and wait and wait until all our medical cleared, the kids school application was accepted, John's background investigation cleared and we received our visas from the Saudi embassy. As the days continued to pass and we were getting closer and closer to our anticipated leave date without the official word that we could give notice to John's work, put our house on the market and the ability to share the news with friends....we were getting stressed, overwhelmed and frustrated to say the least. Finally yesterday we received word that we had our visas and all contingencies have cleared and we were good to go.

So...we are scheduled to leave on
May 19 which is only three weeks from tomorrow! Which is crazy to us and as much as we knew this day was coming when we accepted the offer in March it has come a whole lot quicker than we thought. We still have a whole bunch to do to get us and our dog Titus (we have hired a pet relocation company to help us with that since it is a HUGE and COMPLICATED process to get a dog into Saudi...more on that another day) to Saudi! We are excited to finally share this with everyone and let everyone into what has been going on in our lives and everything that is about to come! In the next several days, I will try to catch everyone up on where we are going, where we are living and anything else I can think of! We are really excited about this opportunity and phase of life for our family and feel strongly that this is where God is calling us at this time. We are extremely sad to be leaving our family, a wonderful community of friends and a strong church home and that has been the hardest part about making the decision to move. And I have been trying not to focus on that part because then I would not go....but we are trusting God that our relationships that we have formed here will withstand the time apart and distance and that the time that we have spent here being blessed with an amazing biblical community and biblical teaching from our church home has prepared us to build a new community in Saudi and have prepared us a family and a couple to go on this adventure. Life will be a little crazy these next few weeks so please keep us in your prayers!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy Easter!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! He has given us new birth through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:3

Happy Easter to everyone! I hope that everyone had a wonderful day celebrating the resurrection of our Savior and enjoyed time with family!

We had a wonderful weekend spending lots of time with family. We had an Easter egg hunt and lunch with Grandma Martha (John's mom) on Saturday and just enjoyed the rest of the day spending time together. This morning Peyton woke up and I told her about the Easter bunny and she was in awe. She kept hunting for her eggs and saying, "silly bunny." She thought it was pretty cool that a bunny comes at night, hides eggs and gives her a basket of fun stuff.

Then we all made it out the door as a family and Graham went to church for the first time where we worshiped with family (Granny, Papa, Auntie Ashley and Grandma Martha). Graham was great during the service and slept through all the loud music and woke up when the speaking started but was content to just be in my arms. After church we all had a wonderful brunch at Granny and Papa's and had another Easter egg hunt.

We loved all of the time we were able to spend with family this weekend thanking God for our blessings and for the eternal life we have in Jesus Christ! Happy Easter!

For God so loved the world he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Love this book!

I didn't read many parenting/baby etc books this time around because I didn't have time and I had already read them the first time and hoped that I didn't forget everything! I did flip through what I had read before and got the main points.

After I had Graham, I was talking with a friend about some challenges I was having and she recommended the book, "Sippy Cups are Not for Chardonnay." My friend who recommended it doesn't have kids but she had many friends recommend this book to other new moms as a light hearted, real account of life as a new mom.

Well, I ordered the book on my Nook and finished it in a couple of days which is a feat with two kids! It was such an enjoyable, funny and real account of what it is like being a new mom. I will for sure be recommending this to new moms and might even add to my must give gifts at a baby shower and wish I read it the first time around.

So if you know someone about to have a baby, or you just had a baby, I highly recommend reading this and having a good laugh about life as a new mom!

Graham: 6 Weeks

Graham is 6 weeks old today. It is crazy that six weeks has passed. I know all moms say that but it really feels like only a couple of weeks have passed since we were a family of three.

In six weeks, I have learned a whole lot about managing expectations....

I expected that I would be recovered from my c-section and out running today, settled into some sort of routine with Graham and could say that we feel like we couldn't imagine life before him, that we would be sleeping more, I would be cooking dinner/cleaning and managing the house like before.

The reality incision is still tender at times, I am horribly out of shape and walking while pushing 40 pound (30 lbs Peyton, 10lbs Graham) stroller is exhausting and I don't think I could even run to the mailbox. I very much remember life before Graham...lots of sleep, free time and just easy. And I am in no way cooking and due to the generosity of friends we have been beyond blessed with meals up to last week so I haven't had to worry about that until now. I in no way have time to do much cleaning (it is more like doing the bare minimum) or doing anything besides caring for Peyton and Graham....a shower is a major accomplishment and my hair hasn't been out of a ponytail more than a handful of times (and those times were due to family or newborn pictures). spite of the craziness/business and new reality that we have, I am learning more and more about my need for a daily and consistent dependence on God and remembering His sovereignty in my life. A dear friend always tells me, "nothing is a surprise to God...He isn't sitting up in heaven asking how did that happen." God knew that life would be crazy, He knew that I would have a hard time adjusting, He knew what life would be like with two and He knew I could handle it...IF I depended on Him and sought Him daily! So, as insane as these six weeks have been for various and many reasons, I do not count it as loss/failure but as a growing opportunity to become a better follower of my Saviour!

Now to precious Graham and what is going on with him...

  • For a variety of reasons I am no longer breastfeeding so Graham has been on formula since 4 weeks. I managed to pump enough milk that he had a bottle of breast milk a day until five weeks. I am conflicted on how I feel about stopping...some days I am relieved, and others feel guilty and then others feel sad about not having that bonding time with Graham....but know that for a wide variety of reasons it was the best decision for me, my family and Graham and it was one made with counsel of my family and after prayer.
  • He is a chubby guy! He eats about 3-4 ounces (mostly 4) every three hours on the dot during the day and only goes about 5 hours (if we are lucky) at night. I really thought that with the switch to formula he would go longer between feedings but that is not the case. I am hoping he will start to sleep more at night because we are all very tired.

  • I believe he suffers from some sort of reflux. He has awful wet burps, wet sounding hiccups, cries about 30 minutes to an hour after eating, constantly wants his pacifier and always wants to be upright at all times.

  • The possibility of reflux has meant that he is no longer an easy going baby. Right around 4 weeks he started getting cranky, colicky and just plain miserable. He fusses a bunch, doesn't like to sleep laying down at all during the day, hates to play on his play mat, be in the sling or car seat or do anything besides sit upright. A big change from how Peyton was as a baby.
  • Graham does LOVE his bath time! That is one thing to make him super happy.

  • Another thing that makes him happy is his sister. Graham loves to hear Peyton talk and always turns his head towards her and even smiled at her today. Peyton does not seem to be as impressed with him but overall she is pretty tolerant of him.

  • I did get the first smile a week or so ago and when he isn't being cranky and you work hard you can get one out of him.Peyton seems to be able to get him to smile the easiest.
  • My favorite time with Graham is when we get the time to nap together. He loves sleeping on my chest and if I can get both kids to nap at the same tie I normally have Graham sleeping soundly n my chest. He sleeps so well like that and I love it!
Graham we love you and are praying that you work through whatever is making you so fussy! Know that we are trying and hate to see you so miserable!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Such a big girl

Peyton turned 2.5 years old just before Graham was born and having Graham has really shown me how big she is and how grown up she has gotten. She has such a big and strong personality and it is such a delight (not so much during the intense temper tantrums) to see her become her own person.

Peyton is a "myself" kind of girl. She is very opinionated on how things are to be done and she must do everything. She is very stubborn and would rather not do something or have something than ask for help and then when she asks for help she typically watches how you did it, undoes it and then does it herself. She loves to help clean, pick up her toys and is a big helper.

She is talking non stop, repeats everything and I love having conversations with her. She is also really funny and comes up with crazy stories and cracks herself up. She is constantly surprising me with everything she knows and can tell you shapes, all the letters, count up to 15 (maybe higher but I have only gone that high), most colors (when she isn't being silly and telling you everything is blue) and is so much more aware of the world, how things work than I ever thought she would be at this age.

As strong willed and difficult as she can be, Peyton is very polite. I took her on a date on Sunday to see Disney on Ice Toy Story 3 and was so impressed with how well behaved and polite she was. She held my hand the whole time and followed instructions. When we ordered some water and her cotton candy she went up to the counter and said "excuse me, water and cotton candy please," and then when we got our stuff said, "thank you, have good day." I was so impressed with her! She has lately been saying please, thank you, no please (instead of no thankyou) and just been really polite. While she can be difficult...when she wants to she can be so compliant and sweet and easy!

She has adjusted as I expected to her role as a sister. She is jealous but never acts out on Graham but directs it towards us which I am relieved about. She does love to sing to him and talk to him and loves it when he is awake and looking at her. Peyton insists every night on giving him a kiss and a "big hug" and prays for him without being prompted. She is learning how to wait patiently, share her mommy and daddy. I am sure she would be much more interested if Graham didn't fuss so much and was older and could interact with her.

I am finally finding my groove with her and we are working well together. I am learning that I have to be more stern with her than I naturally am and that is hard to do and remember. I can't relax an inch on discipline because then she will take a mile. I have learned that clothes don't have to match, that it is ok to wear black boots with shorts when you are getting the mail, that letting her have (parent directed) choices makes for a happier Peyton and Mommy, that Peyton needs time to transition from one actiity to the next and is pretty happy to oblige when you give her time to adjust.

I wa going through our books the other day and came across the book by Gary Chapman called Five Love is meant for marriage but briefly looked over it and tried to think about Peyton and what her love languages are. I am still narrowing it down and I am sure she will change but currently I am learning that Peyton has a strong need for words of affirmation (just like her daddy). When we were heading home from our date and I told her how proud I was of her and how well behaved and polite she was, she glowed. Peyton also loves quality time (just like mommy) with just mommy or just daddy and even more so after Graham's arrival.
Peyton, I feel so blessed to be your mommy and love you so much! I hope you always know that we love you and that you have a heavenly Father who loves you so much more than we do.

Monday, April 11, 2011

My husband rocks!

I just wanted to take the time to sing praises about my husband. He is always pretty willing to spoil me and put my needs ahead of his own but lately he has been amazing.

On Wednesday, I had an AWFUL day with both kids. Graham was cranky for the first time ever and constantly wanted to be held, Peyton was whining a bunch, I was tired and never got out of my PJ's or had a shower, couldn't get Graham to nap at all during Peyton's nap even though she slept for an extra 1.5 hours...4.5 hours total and so it was a long day. That night when he got home and saw how tired and frazzled I was, he told me to go and take a shower, get dressed and then take some time to go to Target by myself while he did bath time and bed time for both Peyton and Graham. I greatly enjoyed my time out and even had time to try on some clothes and buy myself some new clothes!

Thursday night, still sensing how exhausted I was....I was able to make a bed in Graham's room on the floor (Graham is still sleeping in his bassinet in our room) and sleep uninterrupted from 10:00 PM to 8:00 AM...minus Peyton's midnight nightmare....while John fed and cared for Graham. It was amazing and so needed!

Friday night, after taking family pictures at the park, picking up our dog at the vet and driving home with two crying kids and a whinny dog in the trunk...John still was fine with me going out and meeting my good friend for dinner that I had planned earlier in the week. I was willing to cancel to help out at home and especially since he was so giving the past two nights but he was amazing and just asked me to stay until he was able to eat and then he took it from there and I was able to have a wonderful time catching up and having great fellowship with a dear friend.

Saturday....I started feeling sick with a sore throat so again that night John told me to just sleep in Graham's room so I could get some rest and hopefully recover faster and also stay away from Graham as much as possible. So another night of good sleep. I still feel crummy but better than if I hadn't gotten so much sleep this weekend.

So...I pretty much think that my husband is amazing! I know that he is exhausted and could have used sleep this weekend and would have appreciated a night or two of uninterrupted sleep (which I plan to give him when I feel better) but instead of complaining he graciously served me and took care of me. I am also so blessed that I have a husband who doesn't mind watching the kids so I can go out and doesn't complain. He sees it as part of his role as a dad and understands that I am a happier mommy and wife when I have time away. I love watching him with Peyton and Graham and love seeing how comfortable he is with caring for Graham and how often times he can comfort him better than I do.

I am so blessed to be able to enjoy life, marriage and parenting with a wonderful God seeking man!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

4 Weeks - Graham

On Tuesday Graham was four weeks old...four weeks have passed by which at times seems like it flew by and other times that it has been a whole lot longer than four weeks.

These past four weeks have been 1,000 times harder than I ever imagined. I knew having another baby would be different, more hectic but I was never prepared for how much change Graham would bring. I was very unprepared and for some reason just thought having a baby around would just flow into our lives seamlessly. It hasn't been like and part of that is that recovery this time has been harder and it is hard to work through all of the changes....change to my relationship with John, with Peyton and with body, my emotions, my hormones. I forgot how hard it was to go without sleep and compound that with the inability to catch up during the day or to "sleep when the baby sleeps," with a toddler running around. I miss my time with just Peyton, I miss spending the day cuddling and not having to do anything besides loving on her. Which on a side note...I bought tickets to Disney on Ice: Toy Story 3 for next Sunday for just me and Peyton! I am so excited about our Mommy and Peyton date and can't wait to surprise her!

But as hard as these past four weeks have been.....I LOVE seeing Peyton and Graham together. Peyton gives him hugs, kisses and tell him everything is "ok," when he is crying. I LOVE seeing Graham experience new things and love how he is so peaceful and happy when he has his baths and gets his massage. I LOVE hearing him grunt and make the strangest noises as opposed to crying. I LOVE how he cuddles into my chest and falls asleep.

So is some stats on the little man (mostly so I don't forget)....
  • eat ALL the time! I can't keep up with feeding you and it is very tiring on mommy! Even with the addition of formula I feel like I can't ever get you full and happy!
  • You have grown a bunch. I am interested to see how much you weigh! We tried to weigh you while holding you on the scale and it came out to be over 9 lbs....we will see. You look so big to me and are out of your newborn clothes.
  • You are very strong and can easily lift your head while on your tummy
  • Like Peyton you like your hands out of the swaddle while sleeping
  • You are awake a lot more than Peyton was but are pretty content to hang out by yourself which is good because I am pretty busy with your sister
  • You love your pacifier or your hands or my shoulder.....anything to suck on.
  • Bath time is your favorite time and you are so still and peaceful. I always hate to end bath time because you look so happy.
  • You look like your sister to is a picture of Peyton at 4 weeks....besides you being fatter, I think you look the same
Here are some things mommy has learned about having two kids....
  • Planning is my friend. Gone are the days when you can just do everything before you leave. For example, on days when Peyton has school.... I used to wake up whenever Peyton got up, make her lunch that morning and we would still have plenty of time. Now...the night before lunch is made, every one's clothes are laying out, breakfast is planned and easy to assemble, mommy is up before everyone to get dressed.
  • The start of a good day is when Mommy is up before everyone and can get at least 50% of the way ready before everyone wakes up.
  • I am learning (and having a hard time learning this lesson) to readjust expectations of myself...I used to be able to have the goal of "clean the house" and easily accomplish, a goal of "clean living room" is more realistic
  • That I am more tired than I ever could imagine! to make myself lunch (or attempt to), finish up some laundry and maybe get a quick nap before I pick up Peyton from school!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Strawberry Picking

We have survived another first...our first fun family outing as a family of four! We have gone out and done some errands together (I think only once) but this morning we went to Froberg Farm in Alvin, Texas and picked some strawberries! We did cheat by bringing Granny and Papa with steps!

We did this two years ago with Peyton (didn't make it out there last year) and even when she was just 7 months or so old the first time she liked it but this time she was so excited to go this year! I loved looking back at the pictures of her from the first time...she was so adorable!

Well, this year she is still just as adorable and she did a great job and I loved hearing her running commentary about the whole experience! I love hearing her say the word "strawberries." We came home with two buckets of yummy fresh strawberries and a very tired family! Granny made sure Graham got in the fun and had some evidence of his outing. He was so good and slept the whole time!

This afternoon Peyton, Graham and I had a nice couple hour nap this afternoon while daddy had to go into work and now we are waiting daddy to come home with some yummy Mexican food for dinner! A good day for sure!