Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Graham: 12 weeks

Graham is 12 weeks old today!

It is amazing how much has happened in his life since he was born. He arrived, came home to a busy/stressful house as we were preparing to get our house on the market, inventory, shop, take care of the insane amount of to do items, pack, move to my parents house for a couple of nights, get on his first plane trip and fly across the world, move into a new house, new room/bed and new country.

To say life has been a little crazy for the poor guy would be an understatement so it makes perfect sense that he LOVES being here in Saudi. He loves that we no longer have tons of things to do and have tons of time to talk, smile and interact with him. He is liking the predictability of the same bed, house, routine and Graham is thriving! The days when all I want to do is get on a plane and go home, he always gives me tons of smiles and reminds me that someone is happy here!
Here is what is going on with our little man...
  • Pretty much since a couple of days after we arrived Graham started sleeping through the night and not getting up for his 2- 3 AM feeding. He pretty consistently sleeps from 9 PM - 6AM which is nice!
  • He is not near as fussy! He pretty much cries for a diaper change, food and then when he is sleepy. He can have a screaming fit if he is tired and can't settle down and just works himself up but he isn't fussing constantly like back home.
  • He sleeps in his own bed, swing, car seat, stroller, couch...NOT IN MY ARMS....during his naps! This is HUGE! Back home he constantly wanted to be held!
  • Graham falls asleep pretty easily on his own. Swaddle him and put his lovey (silk side down) on the top of his head/side of his cheek and he falls asleep. Only thing is that you have to catch him before he is too tired or else he will have a FIT and it takes a whole lot more to get him to sleep.
  • Graham is content to lay on his back, or his tummy and hang out by himself for awhile which is new and wonderful
  • His favorite song is still "The Eyes of Texas" and he will immediately calm down as soon as you start singing it. The second favorite is "Texas Fight." I will use this against him if he ever gets it in his head that he wants to go anywhere else besides Texas!
  • Graham is a smiling, babbling, cooing machine! I love it! He smiles all the time at you now, loves to talk and his so cute.
  • He wants to roll over so bad and can get the bottom half going over and so I think he is really close
  • He loves to suck on his hands
  • Graham adores his sister and constantly tries to watch her, listen to her and one of his favorite things is to listen to her read him books
  • He LOVES bath time and just starting kicking his legs and splashing around which he loves and it gets him so close to laughing.
  • Graham is still a good eater and eats 4 ounces of formula every three hours during the day. He is super chunky and I LOVE his rolls! I have been meaning to take a picture of him in just his diaper to remember this time.
  • His eyes are still blue!
  • John thinks he is starting to look more like me! He does this little smirk thing (picture is one of his many Che smirks) with his mouth like me which makes John laugh!
Graham, we love you so much! We are so happy that we get to be your family. You are utterly adorable and already have a sweet personality that is your own. You are such a reminder that all that matters is family. We might not have a nicely put together house, we live somewhere completely new and foreign, you don't really have a room, you have no toys but you have a mommy, daddy and sister that LOVE you and that is all that you care about (and food). You remind me of what is important right now.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

New New House

Peyton always says "new, new" when describing our house. It can't just be the "new" house. Well, I know that my mom has been curious on what it looks like so I will go ahead and post some pictures. Keep in mind that it is filled with nasty Aramco borrowed furniture and is not that impressive and honestly I currently hate it.

However, once we get some paint on the white walls and our furniture/decor, I think (hope) we will love it. It is nice and bigger than our old house and a great floor plan which you can see here. I think we will really like the large room off of the kitchen (and far away from the kids rooms) which we plan on making a family room/TV/play area which will allow John and I to actually watch movies without putting them on the lowest audible volume in fear of waking up kids like we did in League City.

When you walk in there is a small foyer/entry area but pretty much you walk into a large living/dining room area that is in the middle of the house. It has sliding doors in the front and back of the room which allows for lots of light and it is a pretty good sized room. We will have a TV, couch and chairs in here as well as what used to be our formal dining table which will become our main and only eating area. I went ahead and bought slip covers for the leather dining chairs since we will be using the chairs daily now. This is one of the rooms I am the most excited about getting my stuff for. I worked hard to find different stuff and most of the pieces going in here are new and I LOVE the two wing back armchairs I found for here (you will have to wait until we get our shipment to see them even though I do have pictures of them somewhere). I am looking forward to many gatherings, meals, fellowship with friends, watching college football at 2 AM in this room. It will be a big gathering place and I hope a place with fond memories!

Off on the right side of the living/dining area is the small laundry hallway and then the kitchen and another room which is pretty large and will become a more casual TV and playroom.

The kitchen does have a huge pantry which I love because I am buying in bulk (although it doesn't look like it now) and I know this will come in handy. Pretty much our house has pretty good storage and combined with our furniture we should be set which is a nice surprise.

Our kitchen looks out to the side yard which has a large tree in it which I like to look at. The kitchen has great cabinet space and is spacious. It is just missing some of my necessary cookware, a microwave and a toaster! I can't wait until our air shipment gets here and I can have mixing bowls!

There is a big empty space next to the cabinets where some people put a second fridge. If we ever do need a second fridge it is going in the garage so instead I bought a stand alone island from Ikea. It is white/stainless steel and has a butcher block top and will be a nice place to prepare food and it will have an outlet right above it so I am thinking about making it a baking/prep area. This is the most depressing room of our house. It is right off the kitchen and also leads back into the large living/dining room area. It is also at the back of the house and has some sliding doors off the side which allows lots of light and will be nice when our large backyard finally has grass instead of dirt but currently it is a big, bare and ugly room. It will eventually have a TV, couch, play storage, a small kids table and be a comfy, casual living area. There is a small pass through on the wall that currently has the desk which opens into the kitchen so I will be able to hear and see somewhat what is occurring in there and it really is just off the kitchen and to get to the main living area you have to either walk through there or back through the laundry area. This is one of the rooms I am looking to have painted before our stuff comes!

In the living area of the house on the left side of the main dining/living area is where the bathrooms and bedrooms are off a long hallway. Pretty much it is our room, then the kids bathroom, Graham's room and then Peyton's room.

Here is the kids bathroom. It does have lots of storage and that is about it. Pretty plain and boring. But I have a bright blue with oranges, greens and fun ABC letters shower curtain and bath stuff coming so it will become more happy!
Here is Graham's room. There is nothing in there...poor kid. But it will look cute! I will probably have it painted as well before our stuff comes, probably a color similar to what it was in League City but maybe add some blue accents like a strip along the top like his curtains. We will see. It is the smaller of the rooms but he is the youngest so that is what he got!
Peyton's room is HUGE! You seriously could put two kids comfortably in there. There is still space behind me in the picture. The picture really doesn't show how big it is. Her room is also the nicest decorated so far since I brought her bedding, wall hangings and we bought her a dresser here. She has tons of room for her small bookcase from home, her table and kitchen and I am even going to look for another bookcase to add for her books since we have so much space. I am going to have her room painted a pale smoky blue with a bright pink strip around the top. Her curtains are bright pink and same with her rug. She still has some fun sea themed pictures coming that I got at Pottery Barn Kids and we have some mermaid decals to put on the wall but I wanted to wait until we painted. Overall I am very happy with the size of her room and am excited to see it put together.

Here is our room. Also depressing to me! I LOVED my master bedroom back home and worked so hard to make it a nice place for John and I. I know that it will feel nicer when our stuff comes but for now, I hate it. I even went out and tried to buy new sheets to add some color (the ones provided were like sandpaper and nasty 80's yellow flower print) and it helped but I also realized when I got home that I bought a blue fitted sheet and a black flat sheet...ugh! It also stinks that we have an uncomfortable double bed...seriously! We went from a king to a double! Please, please hurry sea shipment with my king sized tempurpedic!

What I do like about our room are the closets! There are two closets like the one shown and then there is a walk in closet on the other side of the room! I have claimed the walk in closet and half of one of the other ones! Our bathroom is off the bedroom (pretty much to the right of where the picture was taken) and reminds me of my bathroom in my college apartment. There is a vanity area right off of the bedroom with no door which is going to stink when we are over jet lag and John is trying to get ready in the morning while I am sleeping and then there is a door to the toilet/shower. I am also planning on having this room painted but will probably wait until after our stuff comes because I am having a hard time deciding on colors and I changed some things up in our room (new curtains and some new accent fabrics) so I need to see what it looks like all together before I decide.

There it is...our new house. It also has a pretty good sized backyard with lots of trees and a large covered patio which once it stops being 100 plus outside will be nice to sit out and grill!

I look forward to when our stuff comes, our house feels more like a home and I can share the after pictures!

And by the way...in case you were wondering....I still don't have Internet and am only able to blog because I am "borrowing" my neighbors wireless! Hopefully soon and tomorrow we will be getting our satellite TV (supposed to have been today but they never showed...some things are the same whether you are in Saudi or the States...cable people)!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Super Quick Update

This will be as Peyton tells me "super fast," because I am in the library about a mile walk from our house, it is 7:05 PM and it is dark outside and my husband is trying to feed Graham a bottle and watch Peyton play on the playground just so I can have my Internet fix!

Update on our prayer requests from when we left....
  • Travel went amazingly well! We had a major fit in the Houston airport regarding putting our Dora shoes through security but other than that we did great. Peyton picked mommy as her travel buddy and we did great together. She fell asleep around 11:00 PM Houston time and slept until we were about a hour away from Dubai. Graham was perfect and didn't cry at all. He was either eating or sleeping the whole time and many people didn't even know he was on the plane. Flying business class was sweet and I loved the fully reclining seats and it certainly helped with getting Peyton to sleep. We made it to Dubai, made it to our hotel room, showered, ate, let Peyton run around the room and be crazy and then packed up and went to our next flight which was only an hour into Saudi. We arrived and made it into the passport area to find a HUGE line. I was about to cry because I knew how long it would take and how little patience and energy I had and how much my kids were about to lose it. Well...prayers were answered because we were ushered into a smaller line by some official and then it took half of the people out of that line and moved them somewhere else which left us as number 2! It took a little over 30 minutes to get through the whole process. We then got all of our bags...yes, all 12 made it! I was amazed! And the porters helped us get through customs/baggage screening where another answered prayer...NO bags were checked. Not one of our 12 had to be opened! We then quickly found our Aramco representative, did some paperwork at the airport and were on our way home and made it home around 2:00 AM which was about 3 hours after landing which was pretty good considering it takes around 45 minutes to get to our house from the airport.
  • As for Titus...another huge answered prayer! He made all of his flights, connections and arrived in Saudi Monday night. A couple that we had been put in contact with prior to moving and have been spending time with since being here and are another huge answered prayer offered to drive John to the airport to get Titus so they set out Monday night and came home with Titus! He was so happy to see us and did really well on the flight. By the next morning he seemed himself and it didn't phase him at all. There were no issues at customs and everything went smoothly. I know it was expensive hiring the pet relocation company and having him here safely and without issue made it so worth it!
  • Our first night went well. We were able to call our family, we were able to get some sleep and we got to our house without any major issues. We love what our house has the potential of becoming but not so much what it is now. It is bare, has ugly and uncomfortable furniture and the double bed for John and I just isn't cutting it. I do love the floor plan, it has tons of space, the location in camp, the backyard and I am excited about how it will look with our stuff in it!
  • As for our first week....we are making friends and have been blessed by a wonderful family here who have been amazing! They filled our house with food, helped with getting Titus, showed us around, had us over for lunch, been a wealth of knowledge and are a sweet family that we are beyond excited to get to know more and more. We are getting satellite tomorrow and are borrowing a television from a friend of Johns who had an extra one until we can make it out to buy one. Internet was finally able to be requested today so hopefully soon we will have it our house. We have gone out into the shopping area of Khobar (about a hour away) once and went to Ikea, the grocery store and Toys R Us and I went shopping with my friend Lindsey another day. I also ventured out an took a taxi by myself to go swimming at the Perry's. Peyton and Gavin had such a good day!
So, all in all, it has been a good week. I am missing home, my old house, my friends, my church, my family and the familiarity. I am excited what can be here and I am looking forward to all the possibilities and new adventures we will have here but it is hard to focus on those at times. I am beyond thankful and humbled by the generosity of the Boggan family (people I was talking about earlier) and our friends from League City the Perry family. They have both gone above and beyond in giving us information, welcoming us, helping us, serving us and encouraging us. I am excited about knowing that these are types of relationships we are building here.

Since I have no idea when I will be able to get on Internet again here are some things we do need prayer for in the meantime...
  • I need Internet. I know it sounds silly but beyond Facebook, it will allow me to use Skype and our Vonage phone which means I can call home more frequently and won't be racking up an insane long distance bill which I am currently doing. It is very isolating not being able to read the news and call loved ones.
  • Pray for our shipments to arrive soon. Our air shipment has most of the kitchen/cooking stuff I am missing and our vacuum. Pray it arrives soon! Also pray that our sea shipment arrives quickly and before the start of Ramadan in August because if it doesn't it probably won't be here until after Ramadan. I feel silly praying for my stuff especially since they are just worldly things but it will help make our house feel like a home and have a place to serve others and feel comfortable.
  • Pray for Peyton to sleep longer in the mornings. She is waking up at 5 AM and not sleeping well at night still and it is wearing us out.
  • Pray that I get better soon. I came down with a cold yesterday and feel pretty awful.
  • Pray for our residence permit or iqama is processed quickly. This will allow us to open a bank account and also buy a car which is a huge need for us.
  • Also, please pray for Peyton to be accepted to a preschool/mothers day out here. She is on the waiting list and I am really hoping she will make it. It will be a huge help to me and a good thing for her to have here.
  • Continue to pray for our adjustment and that we are purposeful with building relationships and with what God has called us to be here.
Miss you all and hope to blog again soon!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Off we go...

I am writing this post in advance of us leaving but when it publishes we will be waiting to be picked up and are heading to the airport with 12 bags and 2 kids and hopefully arriving in our new home of Saudi in about 20 hours plus (15 hours to Dubai, 3 hour layover, 75 minute flight into Dammam).

So far this week I have been feeling like this is a whole out of body experience. I don't really feel like we are moving, just going on a long and very complex vacation.

Even going to the airport and saying good bye to family....I don't know if it will have completely hit us yet and I almost hope it hasn't so we can put on our brave faces for Peyton.

As we leave, we are so incredibly thankful for all the help, dinners, support and encouragement everyone has given us....

And as we head off....we are seeking prayer and lots of it over these next few hours, days and weeks.

Specifically please pray for the following....
  • Pray over our travel to Saudi. Pray for strength and patience for John and I as we navigate flying with two little kids. Pray that we communicate well with each and show each other extra grace. Pray for safe travels, no flight delays and a quick processing time through customs in Saudi so we can arrive at our new home as quick as possible. Pray for rest on the plane and specifically that Peyton sleeps. Pray that Graham is calm and not fussy and we are able to address his needs quickly and effectively.
  • Please, please, please pray for Titus and his flight. This is one of the major worries/concerns I have and I am just praying that everything goes smoothly and he arrives safe and sound in Saudi and is released into our custody with no issue. Pray for his paperwork to be correct and in order. Pray for his flight (he leaves Saturday and arrives Monday) and that he isn't too scared and he handles it well. Pray that he makes it to Saudi when he is supposed to. Pray that the custom official just lets him pass through with no problems. Pray that Peyton understands that he will be there in a couple of days and doesn't get too upset. Pray that Titus arrives!
  • Pray over our arrival in Saudi. Pray that we are processed through customs quickly. Pray that we find the appropriate people from Aramco quickly and that they are effective in assisting us. Pray that all of our bags make it there and are processed through customs without any issues. Pray that we get to our house quickly and without any hiccups. Pray that we are comforted that despite all the unknowns and changes in surroundings and culture that God is still with us and walking us through this.
  • Pray over our first night in Saudi. Please pray that we are able to get home and quickly get everyone to sleep. Pray that Peyton is not scared of the new house and new surroundings and is comforted by us. Pray that John and I can rest as much as possible and have the strength and energy to meet our kids needs and that God intercedes where we fall short. Please pray that our phone works and we can call our parents to let them know we got there.
  • Please pray for our first week in Saudi. Pray for us to quickly get settled in our house, get acquainted with the camp and where things are, John's first day of work and just starting our new normal. Pray that we recover from jet lag quickly. Please pray that we get connected with other families and that we are intentional about seeking out relationships and building a new community of friends. Pray that we adjust to the heat. Pray that our television, phone and Internet are all up and running quickly so we can communicate with our friends and family back home.
We are so excited/sad/nervous/scared/ready/anxious about this new adventure and are beyond thankful for the support, love and prayers that our friends and family have given us. We will probably be without Internet for a little bit which means no blog posts for awhile. I will update as soon as we have Internet and catch you up on hopefully will be lots of answered prayers!


Tomorrow we are heading off on our new adventure. It is still very surreal at times that this is finally happening and I sometimes feel like it isn't real and that I am just going through the motions without fully processing what is happening. And then...you are forced to say good bye to dear friends, your accountability partner and confidant for the past five years, your sisters and inevitably knowing that you have to say good bye to parents in less than 24 hours. The goodbye part is what sucks! And no, I couldn't find a more appropriate word to describe it.

Here are some of the lows/realizations from the week...
  • Saying good bye to John's mom on Sunday. Peyton loves her and lights up when I tell her she is visiting. I am grateful for the time we have had and especially lately how much our relationship has grown and blossomed and I am sad that we are moving at the start of something really good.
  • Monday leaving our house with both kids while John stayed to manage movers with everything in it and then coming back that night to get Titus and everything is in boxes
  • Dropping off Titus to be boarded for the week and saying goodbye knowing that the next time I see him we will be in Saudi and we still don't have all our paperwork so it is a huge concern and worry of mine.
  • Dropping off John's car at the people who bought it
  • Coming to my parent's house Monday night and seeing both my sisters, my sisters friend and my other sisters boyfriend, two of my aunts, two dogs and my mom and John, Peyton, Graham...and being overwhelmed by the craziness of it all and realizing how much I will miss the loudness and craziness and long it will be until I am around them.
  • Watching Peyton give her Auntie Ashley a kiss and hug good night knowing that this will be last time in awhile and that Peyton has no idea and then saying good bye to my sister Ashley myself.
  • Saying goodbye to my sister Shannon today and remembering how grateful I am for the time that we had to get to know each other better as adults and bond while we lived here and wishing for more time with her.
  • Going to the house today and it was empty. Prepping the house for us being gone and leaving after the cleaning service had cleaned and our house was clean, and bare...very very bare.
  • Hearing Peyton tonight say that she was so excited about the airplane and that Granny and Papa were going to come with her...I hate that she will be so far from them and she is losing some of her favorite people.
I am sad. I am excited and I am ready to just get the next part of this adventure started. I am tired of packing, planning, preparing, researching, shopping and doing and want to start living our new adventure and our new normal.

I will have a post tomorrow about specific prayer requests so please look for it and please cover us with prayer!

Monday, May 16, 2011

BUSY days!

Peyton always tells me that we are going to have a "busy day," and this weekend she was right and we have had several very busy days!

Thursday....Graham and I ran errands from 9 AM to about 6:00 PM. Then our friends the Dailey's came over and graciously watched both of our children so John and I could have our first date night in forever before we leave. We ate at Chuy's to get our Mexican food and margarita fix before we leave and then had a nice bottle of wine at a local wine bar where we could just chat and relax.

Friday...John's last day of work and the start of lots of packing/finalizing stuff.

Saturday....clean house for an open house, run errands, Titus to vet to start paperwork to arrive in Saudi (all has to be done within 10 days of arrival), open house from 1-4, and then our highlight of the weekend...a going away party hosted by our wonderful community of friends here. It was a wonderful time of just relaxing at the park and catching up with good friends and enjoying some yummy sandwiches from Pot Belly! I have pictures but our camera is in our carry on which have already made it to my parents house. Peyton loved playing at the playground for 4 hours with her friends and Graham was loved on and held by many people. John and I just enjoyed being able to take a break from moving, chat with friends and cherish the time we have with them. Everyone wrote us notes that we have been instructed to open only when we arrive in Saudi and I am so excited to read them. We were also very surprised and overwhelmed by a going away gift of a iPad. Seriously! We were overwhelmed with just having a party and the graciousness of our friends to do that so we were very surprised to get a gift and an iPad at that. They wanted to get us something that we could use, not take up too much room and also something we wouldn't go get ourselves. We are super excited to play with it on the plane and we are so thankful for every one's generosity!

Sunday....we woke up and hit the ground running! We worked on finishing up packing up all of our 10 suitcases (we also have a pack n'play and a car seat) that are to last us until our sea shipment comes in about 3 months, finishing moving everything to storage with the help of friends, cleaned out the pantry/fridge/spices, organized all items that are not to be shipped and moved into one area, had all of our suitcases and the dog's travel crate moved to my parents, finished our sea and air shipment inventory which involved hand writing around 1200 items on the carbon copy inventory forms and I feel like we did a whole lot more but I can't remember. We are pretty much ready for the movers to come tomorrow at 9:00 AM and then we will have a busy week ahead.

We are off to bed and off to a crazy four more days....

Saturday, May 14, 2011

And you thought Texas was hot...

The weather in Saudi is as follows.....

Sunday - 108

Monday- 106

Tuesday- 102

Wednesday- 102

Thursday- 106

Humidity around 36%

Friday, May 13, 2011

New house, new room....

I went back and forth on what to do with Peyton's room for the move. I have always planned on bringing as much of her bedding/decor as possible in our suitcases to make her room very comfy and put together. I was originally not going to change a thing in her room but then I started to want to surprise her with something fun and not so girly. I don't think she would care either way but then as a way to cope with all that was going on it became fun to design her room. Finally, when I had to be away from our house for 6 hours with Graham due to a realtor open house I just went for it and got her new bedding/decor! I am excited and I am hoping she will be as well!

I went with a set I found at Pottery Barn Kids... I got this quilt set and rug but I did the mermaid sheets instead of turtles...

I am looking for some beach themed accents and I found some cute lamps at Target. I didn't know what to do for her but she loves the ocean, we are living by the beach and it isn't too heavy on pink so I think it will be great!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

One week....

In one week....

....our home that we bought as newlyweds, brought both of our babies home to, spent house decorating/painting/landscaping, where we had many gatherings, celebrated birthdays, hosted small group, Thanksgivings, Christmas etc......will be empty

....and we no longer have a church home to go to every Sunday

.....and we will be leaving dear friends who mean the world to us

....and we will be moving from 0.7 miles to 7956 miles away from Granny and Papa

.....and I will no longer have a Target, Chick Fil A, Mexican food, alcohol, pork

....and there will not a Starbucks on every corner

...and I will not be able to drive or wear whatever I want

One week....and we will be on a plane for hours heading to a new country, new house, new job, new friends, new culture, new activities, new normal....

I am sad, excited and scared all at the same time...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Family Picture Session

A couple of weeks after we did Graham's newborn pictures we went to a local park and did some family shots. It worked out better to have a place for Peyton to run and although it was hard to get a toddler and a baby to look at the camera we got some really nice pictures. Thank you again to Jessica Clarkson with Clarkson Photography!

Graham Newborn Session

About a week after Graham was born we did a newborn session with our friend and photographer Jessica Clarkson (www.clarksonphotography.com).

I love them and am so excited to finally share some of them!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Graham: 9 weeks

Graham is over 8 weeks now but I am just getting time to sit down and blog. He had his 8 week appointment last Thursday and is a BIG boy! He is just over 12lbs which puts him at the 83% percentile and the 23 inches which is at 94%. We expected him to be tall but not big! The weight threw us off but at the same time he eats so much and has rolls all over which I love!

Graham is still kind of fussy at times and loves to be held. The Eyes of Texas calms him down every time so it is sung constantly. He smiles a bunch, makes cute baby sounds and I love talking with him. He is super strong and lifts his head up amazingly well and according to the doctor is doing what he should be doing at 4 months. My little muscle man! He is sleeping still from about 9-3 and then occasionally will go all night until 6 AM. Overall he sleeps awful during the day (mostly because I have been too busy to enforce a nap schedule) but sleeps well at night so it is fine.

Graham is starting to look more and more NOT LIKE Peyton!!! Which gives me hope that he will look like me a little bit. And his eyes are staying very light blue which gives me hope they will stay blue.

Peyton is enjoying him more. She loves to read to him, sing to him and just be silly around him. Never fail....she will get a smile out of him! He loves her!

Life with two is becoming easier and more of a routine. I am comfortable going around doing errands with them and getting stuff done during the day. Considering how much is going on I figure it should only get easier once we move, get settled, unpack our boxes and make Saudi feel like home...so like in 4-5 months maybe it will be easier!

I have pictures but John took the camera to work. Just trust me...he is cute and chunky!