Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mid Week Randoms

I took this idea from another blog I read and figured it would be a good mid week post (although here in Saudi Wednesday is more like the end of the week) and allow me to catch people up quickly as our Wednesdays tend to be busy.

Here we go.....
  • Last Thursday I went shopping with a Lindsey and Stephanie both people we knew back in League City. Kind of weird shopping in Saudi with them! John watched Lindsey's son Gavin and Peyton while we took the babies with us. It was great fun and I was introduced to several fun shops in the souks and a craft store and just shown more of what is out there. I found several fun purchases....a Morocco lantern and a painted wooden tray with camels on the handles. Fun girl time, fun shopping and a great day! John as always did great watching the older kids. I am blessed with a pretty awesome husband!
  • It is really hot here and it is only going to get hotter. Doesn't help that our AC went out. They are hopefully coming today to fix it.
  • We have been busy with play dates, coffee mornings, Mom and Tots and tons of activities. Some days we are just going all day long! It is such an answered prayer to be building relationships this early.
  • I hit the 6 week blues. Apparently everyone right around 6 weeks just gets really down and wants to go home. I am there. I was doing great and starting to see us happy here and then it hit me. Hoping it goes away quickly.
  • I keep seeing other families getting their shipment delivered. It makes me super jealous.
  • We have our Iqamas! John has a drivers license and we have applied for our Multiple Entry/Exit and should have those soon which means.....we are going to Bahrain soon! A couple of days of no abayas, no shopping/scheduling around prayer, bacon, margaritas, a movie theater (we are going to take Peyton to see Cars 2 and I am going to pick some chick flick to see), a glass of wine and just a nice time to get away! A friend here might come along with us and I really hope they do because I would love to spend more time with her and her family!
  • We are starting to plan a trip to the UAE for October for our anniversary! It gives me something to do and look forward to!
  • We hired a houseboy. I feel silly hiring someone to clean our house but I always wanted to and we really considered it multiple times in League City but it was so expensive. Here that is not the case. He was recommended by several people and already works on camp in the Housing department and as a life guard. He is coming once a week and I feel so blessed to have the help. I will still be cleaning throughout the week as Titus forces me to vacuum every day and the sand/dog hair makes me have to dust mid week. I am very thankful!
  • Graham is starting to grab and hold onto toys.
  • Peyton is doing great at swimming and is so excited to go every week.
  • We are starting to look at cars and are having a hard time deciding what we want/how much to spend/whether to buy new or used (Saudi's typically don't service their cars and just replace as opposed to maintaining), how many seats do we want....all we know is we want an SUV...doesn't narrow things down very much.
  • I am looking for a new abaya. Seems sill but if I am wearing this all the time I want a pretty one. I found one I LOVED but it was 1400 SAR which is around $400. A little too much for an abaya but it was really pretty and the style I wanted. Yes, there are many different styled abayas!
Looking forward to the weekend! And John has Saturday off (I have no idea why) so we have a nice three day weekend ahead!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Houston Half Marathon Lottery

I am hoping that the below email and the credit card charge means I got a spot in the Houston Half Marathon. They do a lottery system now so I wasn't sure if it would work out. I am excited about running in Houston and extending our Christmas vacation so I can do the race. As for training....I am just going to have to wait until it is not 117 plus outside! Registrations to me
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Merchant:MARATHONGUIDE COM / Web Marketing Associates
Description:Chevron Houston Marathon Aramco Houston Half Marathon Registration - Che Acord

Monday, June 20, 2011


Check out my big man! Graham is rolling!

He actually rolled over for the first time yesterday on Father's Day (but unfortunately not for John) but I didn't have my camera ready. Today he made sure to roll multiple times so I could capture it! And...also check out his adorable fat rolls!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to my wonderful husband and father of my two precious children....

John, you are such a wonderful Dad. Peyton and Graham both light up and are full of smiles and excitement whenever you come home from work. Thank you for working as hard as you do and allowing our children to have me home with them during the day. Thank you for how much you serve them and give of your time and love. Thank you for the guidance and discipline you give Peyton. Thank you for showing Peyton what a husband should be and how much you love her and value her. Thank you for consistently showing up every day and doing an amazing job. You are a strong, God honoring, wonderful father who we are so blessed to have!
Photo by Jessica Clarkson of Clarkson Photography

Also, Happy Father's Day to my wonderful Dad!

I am so beyond blessed to have had a Dad who was present both physically and emotionally growing up. My dad is pretty much awesome! He consistently provided for us and no matter how busy he was at work he always was there and present in our lives. He was at games, horse riding lessons, school events, dinners at home. My dad lead us with a stern hand that at times was annoying and frustrating but I am thankful for the guidance that has allowed me to achieve all that I have and guide me towards a relationship with my Savior and allows me to be a better wife, mom and person. My dad is funny and weird at times. And my Dad is an amazing Papa! Thank you for loving my children as much as you do. Thank you for all the times you just came to pick Peyton up to go to the store so I could have a break. Thank you for being another positive male role model in Peyton's life so she can see what a Godly husband and father should be. Thank you for helping us set the bar for her future mate high. I look forward to seeing your relationship with Peyton grow more and more and also yours with Graham as he gets older. I am excited about seeing you interact with a little boy and see that side of you. Thank you for the wonderful father you have and are to me and for the wonderful Papa you are and will continue to be!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My Current Favorite Place

I have always wanted to live by the beach and this is a pretty beautiful beach to live by......

Friday, June 17, 2011

Photography Class

One of the benefits of living here was the opportunity to have time and the finances to pursue hobbies and interests. So, I am taking a photography class this weekend. We had class yesterday for 5 hours and then later today we have another class for 5 hours. There is a husband and wife on camp that are photographers and the class was taught by the husband who really knows what he is doing and is a great teacher. The course is really well organized and I am hoping to talk to him about offering other classes or 1:1 teaching on topics as I start practicing more and just need some mentoring. I am also looking at some online classes through and also some other sites I have found.

But here are my first attempts at shooting last night and doing some minor processing in is my first attempt!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Generosity the habit of giving freely without expecting anything in return. It can involve offering time, assets or talents to aid someone in need. Often equated with charity as a virtue, generosity is widely accepted in society as a desirable trait.

I have overwhelmed by the generosity of people on our camp. I knew that it was a tight community, that people tend to help each other since we are all far away from home and going through the same stuff but the level of which people have blessed us has exceeded my expectations and really challenged me in how I respond to others and show generosity.

Before we arrived, we were put in touch with a family who answered questions, gave us advice, went and bought tons of food to stock our house so we wouldn't have to run out and do groceries right away. Showed us around camp, invited us out places, took John to get our dog at the airport and really made the first few weeks amazing. They were so helpful and still are in introducing us to people and places, giving us tips and phone numbers and welcoming us into their home and family. They have been tremendously generous with their time and have been amazing! Everyone needs someone like them prior to moving overseas!

Upon arriving, we had neighbors come over asking us if we needed anything, introducing themselves and even stopping by on their way into town asking if they could pick up food etc for us because we were new. Or inviting us out with them on shopping trips or to take us places anytime. I have been convicted on how we didn't make the first step in meeting neighbors back home and welcoming them to the community. We missed out on an opportunity to serve them. I am challenged to not let that happen here and remember how much I appreciated their thoughtfulness. We have consistently had people just walk up and ask if we are new (it is a tight community) and immediately introduce themselves and ask if we need anything. They often ask for our number and call to invite us out to stuff. The other morning a lady called and invited out to a weekly breakfast/coffee with a bunch of other ladies and many have kids. Everyone is generous with the relationships and community that they already created and so welcoming to include you.

A co worker of John's let us borrow an extra TV and DVD player so we would have something, another person offered to take John into Khobar one night to shop all night. He took a whole night away from his wife and three kids just to take John shopping to get things we needed. He also gave us old cell phones he had so we could use them until we could go get our own. The same friend who let us borrow a TV also let us borrow his golf cart while he went home for three weeks to help get around and it has been amazing. People offer to pick up and take John home from work in the morning and during lunch time and at night so he doesn't have to ride the bus.

And then the other night another co worker of John's who has two cars and his family just left for the summer came over and brought us his GMC Yukon to use during the summer around camp. Seriously! He just came over and gave us his car to drive around camp! You have no idea what an answer to prayer that is! I had no idea what I was going to do when we had to return the golf cart next week. I had no idea how we would get to swimming or friends houses or do anything around camp besides sit at home and this is beyond amazing. I can't believe it and we should be able to buy a car before his family comes home so we essentially have a car from now on. We can't (and have NO desire at all) to drive his car off camp as we don't have an Iqama (residence permit) or a drivers license but we can get around camp which is huge! I can get to the clinic, to swimming lessons, our friends houses, to the commissary, to the dining area etc! I am so thankful and singing praises!

So, I have been experiencing tremendous generosity all over by many people and in many different way even beyond what I mentioned above and have been convicted to really evaluate my level of generosity, what are the barriers that have keep me from being as generous I should be with the resources I have been blessed with. I am excited about learning what the Word has to say more about generosity and how to apply it. But I challenge you as well to really look at your life...ask if you are truly as generous as you should be? Do you give freely of time, friendship, resources, money as you should? I challenge you and myself to be generous people... what a difference we could make for the kingdom!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mall and Potties

Tuesday night we decided to brave the late night shoppers bus to the Mall of Dhahran. It left camp at 4:30 PM and arrived home at 10:30 PM so I knew it would be a late night but it was something we have been wanting to do and since Peyton had a super late and long nap we figured the worst thing that could happen is us having a screaming toddler on our hands. No big deal! I also have been wanting to do the trip with John for the first time so I could start going by myself during the week and be comfortable and we didn't want to go on the weekends when the mall is super busy and we have heard a little rowdy.

Since you can't really take pictures out in public and it is next to impossible to be discrete taking pictures with your toddler yelling for your camera and screaming, "my turn," I just pulled some form the internet to give you an idea of the mall.

The whole trip overall went really well. We got to the mall fine and looked for Chili's right away so we could get in and order food before prayer and then eat during prayer. We ate and then we looked around and I am in LOVE with the mall! It has a good amount of stores for the kids cloths including Carters, Oshkosh, Gymboree and Gap Kids. It has TONS of BEAUTIFUL shoes! I am in love with heels and fun shoes and although I have no place to wear any of them it could become my addiction! I could just collect an amazing shoe collection for when I can wear them! There was also some cute clothing stores but since you can't try anything on I don't see that being a regular purchase. Although there were some cute drape style dresses that you could easily know whether it would look good and your size so we will see. We didn't buy much...some bows for Peyton and some nail polish but it was fun to look around and get an idea of what is available. They have several stores that I recognize from the States, lots that I know from Canada and a bunch of my favorites from Europe that I remember visiting when my parents were in Paris!

Also at the mall I got to have my first public restroom experience. Yes, we have lived here for four weeks and I have yet to go to the restroom in public. Mostly that is because I purposely avoid it! I was prepared however and I thank my friend Lindsey for that as I knew what to expect (pull your abaya/pant legs up due to the water and also carry toilet paper in your purse)! There were two choices of toilets...the Eastern style toilet and their version of a Western toilet.

The Eastern style toilet is something that could be very shocking if you were not prepared for it, luckily I have been prepared by friends! Here is a picture of what the Eastern style toilet also known as a "two stepper" looks like.....

Yes, that is a hole in the ground. If you are as equally confused as I was on how to use it you can watch a good (clean) video here. I decided not to venture into that whole new experience and stick with the more safe option which was their version of a western toilet...essentially the toilet bowl with no lid or seat so squatting was still required in some form, no toilet paper and lots of water on the ground...kind of gross....I was not happy that I needed to go and was happy that Peyton is still not potty trained because I have no idea what to do with her in there...gross me out!

Just before catching the bus home we decided to go to the one place I have been missing the most...Starbucks! I found a picture online of what it looked like but what it doesn't show is that the family/woman entrance is behind the part that is shown and you enter on the sides behind these glass walls. Anyways....we walk in and I notice that the menu is significantly smaller. But I look for something I recognize and also something cold because it is super hot in my Abaya chasing/handling kids. I order a Java Chip Frappacino was awful! It really tasted like cold, ice chocolate milk. I was so sad! It was the biggest disappointment and really bummed me out. We did discover that you can buy the coffee for cheaper there as opposed to Lulu's etc.

After my very sad trip to Starbucks we went to wait for the bus and then one of those moments where you just wonder....seriously, this is what my life is about now......warning.....this is about bodily functions of a toddler!

We were waiting for the bus, in the dark at 9:30 PM, Peyton was playing by some lamp post and being really well behaved and patient and all of the sudden the following occurs....note that the bus is scheduled to arrive any minute now....

Peyton: "Mommy, my fingers yucky"
Mommy: Reaches down to grab her hand "Gross, what did you touch."
Peyton: "Poo Poo"
Mommy: "What, where did you find poo poo."
Peyton: No reply and looking very guilty about something and meanwhile I am looking around trying to decide what she touched
Mommy: "Was it on the ground...Peyton, what did you touch! Tell me NOW"
Peyton: "Poo Poo in my diaper"
Mommy: "WHAT, did you put your finger in your diaper."
Peyton: "Yes, I poo poo in my pants, dirty"

I look at her back and there is poo running up her back out of her diaper...disgusting! So, in the middle of a bus stop in the middle of a dark parking lot at the mall with about 3 minutes until the bus arrives we pull Graham's car seat out of the stroller, lay the stroller flat, put his blanket down on the stroller and throw Peyton in there. I grab a disposable diaper bag and John starts to wipe/clean her up. We get it all clean and then realize that there was poo on her pants and now the blanket. The bus arrives, we throw the blanket and pants in another bag, throw them under the stroller and take her on the bus with no pants. We get on the bus and John and I just look at each other and laugh!

Oh the glamorous life we lead.....

Learning from My Kids

Becoming a parent you are very aware of the tremendous responsibility you have to teach, guide, and be an example to your children. And then you are humbling amazed when you realize how much they teach you about life and how much we can learn from them and their perspective on things.

The other night on the way home from shopping at Lulu's I just started crying. I don't know what set it off but I wanted to go home right then and not to our home at Ras Tanura. I wanted to go home to League City.

I sat there trying to hide my tears from Peyton who was thankfully watching movies on the iPad and just cried. I mostly was crying for normalcy again. I was sad, mad and annoyed that we had just spent 5 hours total driving to the grocery store, shopping and then driving back and that the trip was all dependent on a taxi and then even if we had a car it would be dependent on when John was home because I didn't have the freedom to just go by myself. I was sad that I didn't have as much freedom as I used to and that shopping for food is no long an errand but a big event. I was sad. I was crying to myself and then I started having a honest conversation with God. I told Him I was sad, I told Him I was annoyed and frustrated and this is what He told me....

Look at your precious children. Look how they are handling this. They are adapting, they are happy, they get to see their dad for lunch, the whole evening and are adjusting well. Peyton knows it takes a hour plus to get places and doesn't whine and cry about it and is patient and really well behaved in the car, she didn't do that back in League City. When we are out shopping she listens, stays with me and doesn't throw fits because she knows it is a new place, different culture and I need her to listen. She has adapted to eating whatever I make for her because I refuse to make a second meal for her here. She knows that we have to take taxis or busses places or walk and she has to sit in her stroller and she does it without protesting like before. She knows she has to put sunscreen on every morning before we leave the house. She knows and reminds me that I have to put my "dress" on if we go shopping. She is positive about meeting new people and doesn't care if they are older, younger, different than she is. She seeks after them, introduces herself right away and finds some common ground to go off of. She is not insecure, she is not afraid and she just goes after meeting people with enthusiasm. Graham is content. He sleeps in his car seat or just sits and looks around. He hated his car seat before. He takes his bottles in the car seat when we are driving and before only would have them if you were holding him. He will not scream when he has a wet diaper while we are shopping as if he knows we just can't change it right away. When we are out, he falls asleep on his own and without being rocked because he knows we can't.

Learn from your children. Be like a child and adapt. The things that are important are all they care, clothing, shelter and love. I have all of those things. Yes, being here in Saudi...they are all different but they are here and He has provided food, clothing, shelter and love for us.

So, I need to suck it up and be like my children and just adapt. There is no point in wishing for how things were or what is "normal" to me. This is my new normal. This is my life. I need to figure it out and just be like Peyton and Graham and adjust with NO WHINING!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Just Pictures

Pardon the unmade bed but here is our solution to the "double bed is not enough room for us" problem...we requested a twin bed from the furniture warehouse. Kind of silly but it works and we are all much happier.
Peyton set the table for me last night. I am not sure how many courses she thought we were going to have or if we were expected to use a new utensil for each bite but I thought it was amusing and it kept her busy while I was cooking which was nice.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Lulu's Hypermarket

We are attempting to start some sort of routine/normal for our family. One of the biggest things for us to figure out is our shopping schedule. Many people on camp just do all their shopping at the commissary and although they have a good selection of products I don't feel like they have that much variety and the prices are double what you can find outside of camp. I will for sure shop there for milk, eggs and little things that I realized I didn't pick up but I just can't bring myself to shop there regularly and spend that much and I want to get off camp and shop out in the city and experience Saudi. We also have a small Panda store (the larger one Hyper Panda is in Khobar) in the town next to us and that will also be a good weekly place to pick up some stuff . But I would like to go and make a major shopping run in Khobar at one of the larger stores twice a month. Because I don't want to be constantly driving the hour eachway into Khobar we have talked about doing groceries twice a month and then on the other weeks we can go shopping if we want but we don't have to.

Anyways, last night we went to Lulu's Hypermarket and it was AMAZING! I am in love with that store! I found one of their commercials online that kind of shows what it looks inside so you can get an idea of how big it is, click here.

We had a very successful shopping trip and they have everything I was looking for (minus Goldfish, Cheerios and Saltine crackers). They have a great selection of imported goods from the USA and UK and a good meat selection although I wasn't impressed with the fish selection but the produce and bakery made up for it. I was even able to find Starbucks coffee and although we paid $ was so worth it this morning when I had a delicious cup of coffee! I also picked up these fresh chocolate croissants from the bakery and we had those this morning and they were delicious. We shopped for around 2.5 hours and came out with all of the ingredients I need for two weeks worth of meals and then a bunch of items for stockpiling and also essentials for baking/cooking that I haven't been able to find and also a large cooler to take shopping with us so we can transport meat and cold goods home.

A very successful trip and it is amazing how grocery stores can bring so much joy to me...oh how times have changed!

Saturday, June 11, 2011


When we left League City our friends threw us a wonderful Going Away Party and surprised us with an iPad. We were overwhelmed with everyone's generosity. When we started playing with it we thought it was fun and cool but wasn't sure how much we would use it.

Well, being here it is a lifesaver and the greatest thing ever for us! When we need to go somewhere it normally takes forever to get there and can take a long time while you are there. If you are going to the clinic, expect to wait for a long time. Going is an hour each way. So, we have lots of time to entertain Peyton and it is not practical to be carrying all kinds of toys, books etc when you are on a bus or in a taxi. We did have a portable DVD player but it is big and heavy. The iPad allows us to have videos for Peyton, educational applications for her to play, fun things for her to play and it just slips into my diaper bag! It also has become our main family calendar since we are out and about and can easily see what our week looks like. It is also helpful in checking email while out and also a source of fun and entertainment for us with videos, games etc. Also, since we are out and about it also allows me to make notes of things I need to do, remember, or buy while I am back home in the states. It is great! I love it and am so appreciative to everyone who contributed to getting it for us! Thank you for giving us a lifesaver! It has been awesome and it has only been three weeks!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Another week down

We have been in Saudi for three weeks now. It seems like we just got here. We are still completely out of place/no routines/not settled and are just trying to make it day by day. Someday this will feel like home but we are not there yet.

We have had a busy couple of days since our last post on Tuesday which have helped a bunch! On Wednesday we went in the morning with our friends to have coffee at the little cafe here called the Carlton Lounge (my new favorite place) on the beach and we met up with another mom and her friend. We had so much fun and I loved hanging out with them. We all clicked really well and the conversation just flowed and I am really excited to hang out with them more this summer especially since they are both not going home (one of them is pregnant and due in September with her second). Then that afternoon I had a welcome tea at the Women's Group and was able to join the Women's Group and meet a couple of ladies who have been here for awhile and get some encouragement that it does get better! One of the ladies has been here for 31 years! Then that night after dinner we went as a family to the beach and walked around and picked up sea shells and then went and had some coffee and dessert back at the Carlton Lounge (I told you it was my new favorite place). They have amazing cakes, great coffee drinks (I had a frozen mocha), yummy lemonades and just a nice place to go and relax. They have other food such as sandwiches, huge breakfast croissants, pizzas and burgers so we will be there often. I am already thinking about making it a Wednesday night tradition. It was such a nice way to kick off the weekend with some relaxing family time on the beach and then dessert. I love the beach and it is such a nice way to unwind after a long week. I have always felt close to God when I am outdoors and enjoying nature especially the ocean. It reminds me how big and awesome our Creator is. I am thinking I will have to go down there often for some solitude and reflection.

Thursday was a good day but a long and pretty stressful at times. We took the shoppers bus into Khobar for the first time and it left at 8 AM and came home at 3 PM which is a LONG day for an adult let alone a toddler. We wanted to go to the mall originally but one of our biggest "wish we didn't ship that" items is a stroller that allows us to snap Graham's car seat into it. I brought the double Baby Jogger City Mini stroller which we love and use daily especially around camp but when we go on the bus, I insist on putting Graham in his car seat and that means you have to haul around a heavy baby in a heavy car seat while you shop which is impossible if I am by myself because I have a toddler as well that wants to be carried etc. So, instead of the mall we went to the Ikea/Toys R Us shopping area to look for a stroller. We found a Chicco Trevi which is great! It is a lightweight umbrella like stroller but is still compatible with our Chicco car seat. They only had the floor model left in stock but we took it. We then looked around and found a garden store and found some large flower pots that we will be going back for and then we looked around at some more stores, went to Ikea, had lunch at Ikea during prayer time, shopped and then realized we still had 2.5 hours until the bus came! And it was after prayer so many stores were closed. No fun! We somehow entertained ourselves and made it on the bus and back home but it was a long day.

I will be honest though I was pretty miserable and made sure John knew about it. I didn't handle the heat, difficulty of two kids and the frustration of the situation well. I reacted with anger, frustration and blamed everyone. I let my emotions get the best of me, I was not showing any good fruit. It was ugly. I was depending on myself, my control, my planning etc to get us through the day and well that wasn't working. I was not depending on anyone, not seeking help from anyone. I failed. It was a ugly lesson in my need to stop, pray, recite scripture, seek Him.... depend on God instead of my own abilities because I am failing! I never realized until now how much I relied on friends, shopping breaks, my family as sources of encouragement and assistance. Things got frustrating or challenging I would call my close friends, go to see my mom, or go shopping or get a Starbucks. Here...I don't have those outlets to retreat to....I have to be dependent on my Savior first and as hard as it is to not have family/friends/freedom to shop/Starbucks on each is a good thing to learn how to rely on Him first. Hard lesson right now but a good one.

When we got home, Peyton had a long nap and woke up way too late so we went swimming to try and tire her out so she would sleep. She had a blast with John and did really well.

Today we were all exhausted. I was in a little bit of pain from carrying Peyton around a bunch yesterday so we rested and caught up on laundry and we had a Skype date with my Dad! So much fun! We Skyped with my sister Ashley earlier in the week and I love it. This coming week we will be starting swimming lessons for Peyton on Sundays and Tuesdays and I am going to join the photography group and attend their monthly meeting. I am also hoping to get the paint for Peyton's room and start on that.

Peyton is really missing my parents and keeps asking to go see G and Papa. She told me today that she was sad. I asked her why and she said, "G and Papa not at new house, I want to go to old house and see G and Papa, please mommy." It broke my heart. She doesn't understand and just wants to have her family near here. All I could say to her was that I wish we could see them too.

So another week down....another week of hard lessons, a week of new experiences....a week closer to when we get to go home and see to start another week in the Magic Kingdom!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A new day

Thank you everyone for all your prayers, encouraging words and advice. I was overwhelmed by friends love and am so thankful for Facebook where I can receive such encouragement even this far away.

I woke up yesterday determined to have a better perspective and to cling tightly to the Word in order to make sure my perspective would be better! It was still a challenging day at times but overall a better day.

I called a taxi...they came on time yesterday...and decided to go shopping with the kids. I am having a hard time being at home all the time so we went out to a store I have been wanting to visit called Desert Design and I found some fun ethnic looking table cloths, one for my table when it comes and the other for our kitchen where I am going to turn it into a curtain. I got the idea from my friend Lindsey. We then went to Ikea to pick up some more stuff that we have been needing, a bookcase for Peyton, storage baskets and some miscellaneous stuff. I still need to pick up the patio chairs I want for the front but I ran out of room in my cart and couldn't run back in because prayer was about to start. We survived our first solo shopping trip and Peyton was wonderful and super funny. She said some pretty random stuff at times which will have to be another conversations with Peyton post and Graham was wonderful once I just feed him again in Ikea even though it had been only 2 hours....I am starting to think he needs to up his formula.

And when I got home I found out our air shipment would be delivered that afternoon and so I spent the evening putting stuff away, VACUUMING my house, playing with Peyton and her puzzles, sidewalk chalk and other toys (she was so happy) and being excited about all my cooking/baking supplies that I have to start using! We also put Peyton's bookcase together and made her reading corner (I found these fun pillows at Ikea for the floor) and I am loving her room and how it is coming together.

So, it was a challenging day at times but I kept Psalm 118 close to me and read it constantly throughout the day. Two different friends the other day gave me the advice that I desperately needed to hear/be reminded. One was to hold on to the Word like it was my lifeline. I haven't been covering my days with the Word. I haven't sought scripture daily and I need to. That it is the one constant in my day and life, the one thing that will never change no matter where I am or what is going on. The other piece of advice was to learn from my time in the valley. I was telling my friend how I was just ready for our stuff to come, for people to come back to camp and for our car etc and she reminded me that that we are put in a valley for a reason and to make sure that I don't just look towards the mountain but use this time to truly learn and grow how I need to. Be purposeful even when you are not on the mountain top....

Please pray that I hold fast to those pieces of advice. That I daily seek scripture and use this as a time to memorize and apply scripture to my days more than ever before and that I learn what I am supposed to from this time in the valley and I can look back on the mountain top and see growth.

Psalm 118

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!

His faithful love endures forever.

Let all Israel repeat:

“His faithful love endures forever.”

Let Aaron’s descendants, the priests, repeat:

“His faithful love endures forever.”

Let all who fear the Lord repeat:

“His faithful love endures forever.”

In my distress I prayed to the Lord,

and the Lord answered me and set me free.

The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear.

What can mere people do to me?

Yes, the Lord is for me; he will help me.

I will look in triumph at those who hate me.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord

than to trust in people.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord

than to trust in princes.

Though hostile nations surrounded me,

I destroyed them all with the authority of the Lord.

Yes, they surrounded and attacked me,

but I destroyed them all with the authority of the Lord.

They swarmed around me like bees;

they blazed against me like a crackling fire.

But I destroyed them all with the authority of the Lord.

My enemies did their best to kill me,

but the Lord rescued me.

The Lord is my strength and my song;

he has given me victory.

Songs of joy and victory are sung in the camp of the godly.

The strong right arm of the Lord has done glorious things!

The strong right arm of the Lord is raised in triumph.

The strong right arm of the Lord has done glorious things!

I will not die; instead, I will live

to tell what the Lord has done.

The Lord has punished me severely,

but he did not let me die.

Open for me the gates where the righteous enter,

and I will go in and thank the Lord.

These gates lead to the presence of the Lord,

and the godly enter there.

I thank you for answering my prayer

and giving me victory!

The stone that the builders rejected

has now become the cornerstone.

This is the Lord’s doing,

and it is wonderful to see.

This is the day the Lord has made.

We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Please, Lord, please save us.

Please, Lord, please give us success.

Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord.

We bless you from the house of the Lord.

The Lord is God, shining upon us.

Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords on the altar.

You are my God, and I will praise you!

You are my God, and I will exalt you!

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!

His faithful love endures forever.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Warning: Big Vent Post

Consider this a warning....this post is going to be full of complaining and venting...I need to get it off my chest....I need to remember this time so when things are good and we are settled I can look back and see how much God has worked here and in our lives. So, if you don't want to read my complaints....come back tomorrow.

I am tired of being here. I want to go home but I don't have a home to go back to. Yes our house hasn't sold but it is empty. I also am not in possession of our passports as the company has them to process of residence visa and then a visa to let us exit/enter the Kingdom as we please. I am stuck. Stuck here and miserable.

I am tired of not having my stuff. I am tired of my dirty house because I still don't have my air shipment that has a vacuum. I am tired of not having crafts, toys, anything to entertain Peyton.

I am tired of being home ALL THE TIME! I want to go shopping, I want to explore but I am stuck at home. I can't take a taxi into the main shopping area because it is too expensive. I can't take the bus because I have two little kids and it is next to impossible. I spend all day, everyday inside a house that has nothing and I hate.

I hate the on camp taxi service (today at least). After trying to reserve a taxi earlier in the morning to take us to clinic at 9:45 AM, I was told to call back at 9:00 AM because it was too early. Call at 9:00 AM...oh...NO TAXIS available. Argue...get one to come at 10:00 AM....10:20 again...."sorry ma'm....on way. Arrives at 10:30 AM. Get the clinic 40 minutes late.

I hate the clinic right now. I have no ability to book appointments for myself and the kids so John has to do it for us. Had an appointment today for a medical evaluation that the company scheduled for us. Asked John to confirm that was for real (already went last week to have blood taken from all of us....including my two little kids....NOT FUN). Appointment was apparently for real. After dealing with the taxi I haul all my kids inside with car seats because I was not sure how long we would be and didn't want the taxi to wait and pay for it. Try to check in....they have NO appointment for us. Have no idea what I am talking about. Leave. Try to call taxi...busy taxi available. Wait for bus...wait for a hour. Bus arrives and drives us to stop closest to our house and I now carry Graham in his car seat and my diaper bag and try to convince Peyton to walk the 10 minutes home, instead she sits on the sidewalk and cries in the 107 degree heat. Finally get us all home.

I am tired of all the annoying paperwork/processes to get settled. Had to get a new temporary ID to replace my current temporary ID yesterday. Took a taxi,made it to ID office only to be completely ignored by the men at reception. Finally get them to acknowledge me...don't have the right certified copy of my passport. Call John and he comes to help and as soon as he arrives they are all so helpful to him and tell him to tell me what to do. Nice. I get to do it again in two weeks when our iqama comes in.

I am scared and mad that John will be at a training course 120 km away in the middle of the dessert from Sunday-Wednesday at the end of this month leaving me alone with the kids in a foreign country with no car, nothing in our house, no activities, no community.

I am frustrated because some of my big concerns that were addressed by recruiting/relocation adviser are actually still concerns. I specifically insisted that there was a full time pediatrician on our camp and not one that is only accessible at the main camp. I was told there was. Turns out there is...if you count one day a week as full time. There are several other doctors with some pediatric experience but not a pediatrician. I am mad about that.

I am frustrated because I brought up the transportation concern. I was told the buses ran ALL the time so I could easily go without the kids. They don't. The ones on the main camp do but not ours. There is only one a week that leaves after John gets home. And if I did take the kids I would have to be gone from 8-2:30 PM and would have to manage two kids, car seats and any purchases by myself and then walk the 10 minutes from the stop home with all my stuff. I was told that another option since we had car seats would be to rent a taxi for the afternoon/day and it was not expensive...$50 max. Well, for four hours the other day it was around $150. That is not cheap. It was $50 to drive one way to visit my friend 40 minutes away.

I am trying to remember that at one point in time I felt like this was God's plan for us. I am trying to remember that just because it is tough doesn't mean that it wasn't His will or that we aren't supposed to be here. I am trying to remember that tough times are times of growth and that none of this is a surprise to God. He is above the details of transportation and paperwork. I need to be depending on Him more than I am. I need to pray boldly. I need to seek comfort in Him. I need to remember that I am blessed. I have two healthy children, I have a house, my husband has a job, I have my health and I have a community of friends who love us and pray for us even if we don't live in the same country. I am blessed.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Friday, June 3, 2011

Conversations with Peyton

Lately Peyton's vocabulary has exploded and she is using sentences more and more and even starting to reason and explain things to us. I am loving it! As much as I love talking with her and hearing how she interprets things or thinks things through, it is difficult because she has an answer or solution to issues when I say no and instead of whining we are getting reasoning so we have had some difficult moments.

Also, she loves the "Eyes of Texas" as much as Graham does and asked for it when I put her to bed last night. I thought I would show her how to put her "horns up" and she loved it! Instead of two different songs we ended up singing Texas twice just because she wanted her horns! I love it and isn't she just adorable!?!

Anyways here are just some of the funny conversations we have had lately...

P: "Mommy, I feed Titus dog food"
M: "Ok, that would be very helpful"
P: "You get him water"

We both do our respective jobs...Titus has been instructed to start eating by Peyton

M: "Peyton, thank you for getting Titus food."
P: "No mommy, thank you water, good job"

It is about to be bath time and she doesn't want John to give her a bath like normal and she comes to talk to me about it

P: Mommy, you give me bath...please
M: Peyton, daddy needs to give you a bath, I am busy cleaning the kitchen
P: I help you mommy
M: Thank you but I don't need your help, you need to have a bath with daddy
P: No, I help mommy. We go super fast, then mommy help me bath
M: You can help me but daddy is still giving you a bath
P: No, mommy, daddy busy Graham
M: What?
P: Daddy holding Graham, he busy. Mommy no holding Graham, give me bath......please
M: Well mommy can hold Graham while Daddy gives you a bath
P: No mommy hold Graham sometimes. Not this sometimes, Graham happy [with] daddy

We finish the dishes, Graham starts crying and then....

P: Mommy you hold Graham, he crying, not happy. Daddy you help me

Peyton was asking to go see G and Papa....

P: I go see G and Papa...ok
M: Well we can see G and Papa in awhile
P: I see them now, you get a stroller, push me, G and Papa...ok
M: Peyton, remember how we got on a big airplane for a long time to come to our new house, well, we have to go back on a plane to see G and Papa. We live far away from them now.
P: Hmmm, I pack my suitcase, my toys, my clothes, Titus, drive car to airplane, sleep on airplane and go see G and Papa...ok....lets go mommy....busy day
M: Peyton, we can't go to the airport, we don't have any tickets to get on the airplane
P: I call daddy....get money....mommy buy tickets....its ok....daddy fix it
M: Peyton we don't have enough money to buy tickets right now, they are really expensive. We can go soon but we can call G and Papa later?
P: Mommy...yes money....daddy working
M: Well, you talk to daddy when he comes home

We were about to eat dinner and she was playing on the iPad and didn't want to stop playing to eat, I told her she would get the iPad dirty so she needed to eat first and then we could play the game....

P: No mommy....I play feed me [with the] fork and hands no dirty....ok?

Seriously....where does she come up with this stuff!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

More pictures of our new home

A friend of John's (and someone who has been a huge blessing in advising us prior to arriving, letting us borrow a TV when we got here and has made this experience so much easier than it could have been) left to go home to the states and he left us his golf cart to drive around camp while he is gone. I am so excited to have a mode of transportation and I am really praying that when he comes back our Iqama would have been processed, we will have been able to go into a nearby town (Rahima) and rent a car until we can find a long term car. We have heard from several people that the best time to buy a car is Ramadan and you can expect some really good sales during that month. So, we are going to rent a car (it is somewhat cheap) until August and then go and buy one then.

Anyways, since we had some transportation today we went and explored more around camp, found the beach and I was able to take some pictures. I didn't take much because you aren't supposed to take too many pictures and no pictures of certain places due to security. However there are some videos on YouTube that show the camp and you can see one here of someone driving all around camp and get an even better idea of where we live.

This is the outside of our house. Our gardener has been great about starting to plant flowers/plants. He has been adding so many and I started to wonder where they were coming from and if we were going to get a huge bill so I asked John the other day about it and he said that the gardeners just take plants from one house that they worked on earlier and the people have moved out and move them to the new house. We also apparently get 5 free plants from the gardening department so I will have to go check those out next week. I am also looking for some pots etc to brighten things up and possibly some chairs to sit on the front patio area.

This is the view down our street. Lots of trees and various floor plans of houses but they all look pretty similar on the outside.

Pretty close to our house (a street over pretty much) is the commissary (our grocery store) and community services center as well as a bulk sales store. The Community Center has the mail room, housing department, barber shop, a beauty salon, flower shop, travel agent and dry cleaners. The bulk sales store is my new favorite place. They only sell drinks but you can buy cases of water, Coca Cola etc in bulk and they will deliver it to your house that afternoon. We got a standing water cooler yesterday so we ordered two large water jugs to be delivered and I am so excited to not have tons of water bottles around the house. It is not very "green friendly" here and so I would like to something! Our commissary is a pretty stocked store but more expensive than if you went out to other places. They do have a nice bakery that makes fresh pizzas for around $5 and they are really good. You just pick what kind and 10 minutes later you have a really yummy pizza. I will probably be shopping here mostly for perishables, milk and eggs and will try to stock up whenever I can venture out to Khobar (an hour away) or Rahima (15 minutes away). I just found out that there is a larger store in Rahima that is supposedly decent and there is an Aramco bus that runs there regularly. Also since it is close I could also take an Aramco taxi for cheaper.

On our trip around camp today we made a trip out towards the beach. It is about a 10 minute walk from our place. It was beautiful and I love the sound of the ocean. The sand was so hot though so we will not be going to the beach until the fall!

This is just a view of a grassy area around camp. We have lots of grassy areas and parks and playgrounds. The playgrounds are all different and are really nice ones with lots of different activities. There is one pretty much right behind our house and several more close by. I didn't stop to take pictures since Peyton was with us and I didn't want her to ask to go play when it was starting to get around 118 out!

Also on camp (I didn't take pictures because it was too busy around) we have a track, 2 swimming pools, loads of tennis courts, a work out facility (one for men and one for women), a golf course, a horse riding stable, several cafes, an elementary/middle school, our clinic which is like a small hospital and baseball fields.

I will try to get some more pictures in the coming days around camp and of our backyard (I was waiting until we actually have grass back there).

By the reached 118 today! It has been pretty nice so far but today it was too hot. I laughed when I looked at the weather and was excited that Saturday we would be back down to 104!

Bringing family closer!!

One thing that is the hardest about being here is not seeing family. Yes you can call, facebook etc but I already miss hanging out with my family and I knew this would be the hardest thing for me with my parents living so close to us in League City (0.7 miles away). So, yesterday when my sister made it official and announced that she is accepting a teaching position in Abu Dhabi and will be moving in August, I was overjoyed!

She has been contemplating this since before we left and I knew it was a possibility and I am beyond excited that it is now a reality. She is starting a blog,
Good-Bye Bikinis, Hello Abayas that you can follow and read all about her adventures as a single female moving to Abu Dhabi to teach elementary English, math and science in a national school! I am so proud of her for getting the job and even more proud of her for going after this opportunity despite how scary or overwhelming it might be. It takes a lot of guts to move across the world and even more so on your own! I am super happy that she will be closer to us and am already looking into how to get her a 5 year multiple entry/exit visitor visa to Saudi. Pretty much I just have to wait until we get our Iqama (residence visa) and then I can apply. We will get to have Christmas together here in Saudi which is such an unexpected blessing and it is only a 80 minute flight directly to Abu Dhabi for around $300 or $224 if we fly into Dubai and then drive to Abu Dhabi. Either way....I will be able to go see her regularly! Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers as she gets everything handled to move, moves and gets settled!

This also means that my dad is thinking about coming to help her get settled in September and then make a trip to Saudi!

Now I just have to convince my mom that she can handle the flight....

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

It is almost Christmas!!!!

We got word yesterday that our air shipment has arrived and will be delivered on Saturday or Sunday! I am overjoyed and can't wait for....
  • A microwave
  • Mixing bowls, casserole dish, measuring cups, mixer, cookie sheets, non stick pots, cooking utensils that don't melt when they touch heat
  • Cheese grater which will be huge since you can't buy grated cheese here
  • Toaster
  • Dog bowls so I don't have to use two of our bowls and constantly fill them with water
  • A VACUUM (sweeping your all tile house daily to clean up dog hair stinks)
  • Graham's play mat and toys and more movies for Peyton as you can only watch Curious George 2 so many times, crayons, coloring books, bubbles, sidewalk chalk
  • Potty training supplies which will give us something to do while stuck inside all day. We can't go anywhere and it isn't like we have anything better to do, there are no rugs etc in our house yet and if she has an accident on the furniture here I don't care since it isn't ours.
  • Cutting board, muffin tin, cake pan
  • And many more wonderful things to open....
We also got word that our estimated arrival for our sea shipment is the beginning of August. We are praying hard that it comes earlier for several reasons. First, we would like to get home together and comfortable. Second, and almost even more important than the first reason is that Ramadan starts in August and everything pretty much shuts down/stops here. So, if our stuff arrives the beginning of Ramadan and say it typically takes about a week to process it and get it to would take 3-4 weeks if not longer and it might just sit at the port the whole month of Ramadan. Also, during Ramadan you pretty much stay home and going out shopping is even more difficult than it already is. So, if I am having to stay home during a hot and long month, I would really like to have something to do such as unpacking! Please pray (as silly as it seems) that our stuff arrives in our house prior to the start of Ramadan...maybe we can get a faster boat or something!