Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Years Eve

We spend New Year's Eve traveling back to Saudi! We flew out of Washington on the 30th and arrived in Saudi the evening of the 31st. We successfully made it back with all 8 of our suitcases...each weighing 50lbs...our car seats, stroller and two kids and looked like a traveling circus! I was so thankful to have John on the way home and really don't know how I would have handled all the bags and kids and car returns etc without him. We made it through customs again without any issue (the guy was playing on his iPhone while the bags were going through the xray), got all our bags into the car and headed back home to celebrate New Years sitting on our couch with two very wide awake kids!

John took off to additional days to help with unpacking, jet lag and getting us settled which was much needed and appreciated! We tried to go and pick up our dog a day early and drove all the way there to realize that they were closed on New Years Day which resulted in Peyton getting very upset (totally our fault and we felt awful). We finally got him the next day and everyone was very happy to see each other and Peyton hasn't left his side.

It has taken about a week but everyone is finally sleeping in and back to our normal schedule and we are getting back into our routine and ready to kick off the year here in Saudi!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day

I can't even begin to explain how thankful I was to be spending Christmas with my family and that John was also able to be there with us. When we moved we began preparing ourselves for not being able to come home since we would have only been there such a short time and we were so happy that we could come back. It was such a nice time with family and it felt so good to have the normalcy of family traditions and the familiarity of our Christmas celebrations when these past six months have been so chaotic. And since it was Graham's first Christmas I was happy that he could celebrate with everyone!

Peyton was so excited the night before and had a hard time going to sleep and then the next morning we had to wake her up! She was shocked that the stockings were filled and that there was soot on the fireplace!

Peyton was a little angry that Santa ate ALL of her cookies! She was so excited to leave them the night before and I guess she either didn't believe us or thought he would just eat one or two.

I have hardly any pictures of opening presents :( There were six adults, two kids and a dog all trying to open their presents so it was a little chaotic. Graham loved the wrapping paper and the craziness and we spent most of the morning trying to keep him from eating paper!

Peyton had been asking for a piggy bank for ages. She asked shortly after we moved and well...that is the last thing I would be able to find here in Saudi. So, she got one from Santa and was so excited! She also got numerous games and books and some new light up shoes and just loved the excitement of Christmas morning.

John and I didn't get gifts for each since we had spent so much on travel, buying things to bring back to Saudi etc....well....John was supposed to not get me a gift but instead surprised me with a Couch purse. He gave it to me shortly after he got there so I could use it out on our date nights and not carry a diaper bag! I had seen it in Saudi awhile ago and said it was nice but didn't think he would ever buy it. It is a special edition purse to commemorate the 70th Anniversary. Now if I could just reduce how much stuff I have to carry everyday...I could use it more!

I also got some photography books and a Kelly Moore camera bag and then John got a iPod touch and Apple TV. A good Christmas indeed!

My mom decided to make us wear matching PJ's again and so we took a family picture.....

Then later that day my mom hosted Christmas dinner and my Aunts and Uncles and Cousins all came down from Canada and we had 20 people around the table! I have never (to my knowledge) spent Christmas Day with my dad's side of the family and it was so nice to be able to spend the holidays with them. The food was delicious and it was such a wonderful night! Truly my favorite gift of the day....lots of family!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Lost in the Forest

I almost forgot to blog about our wild hike through the trails behind my parents house! 

We decided one morning to go out and explore the trails so we got everyone (my parents, my two sisters, the kids, and my sisters dog Max) dressed and put Graham in the Baby Bjorn and set off. There is a huge trail system behind their house and there are actually rumors that it might be made into a state park someday which would be awesome. Right now it is just some former logging property. It was a beautiful hike and we had a great time. 


We followed the marked trails all the way to the top and had an amazing view of the Canadian mountain ranges and then of Lake Whatcom and Bellingham. It was such a nice spot and flat too! John and I joked that we should built a house right there and we could hike down to my parents everyday.

Then we headed back and that is when things got interesting! We decided to go a different way and were doing great staying on the trails and heading along and then...depending on who you ask....we went off the trails and that is when we got lost. We started wandering around, around and around and after awhile started getting nervous. 
Graham hadn't eaten in four hours which was amazing for him and I didn't know how much longer he would last. We kept being silly so Peyton wouldn't think something was wrong and we kept just going down and hoping we would find something. We finally started hearing the road and headed towards there. We then did what you probably aren't supposed to do...we split up. My two sisters and the dog headed towards the road with instructions to walk back to the house and get the car and then head back and pick us up. Then the rest of us would find a safer way to the road. 
Well, we started heading down to the road and came across and house and their fence. We couldn't figure a way around the fence. All of the sudden we hear a woman calling and asking us if we needed help. We went into her yard and she invited us into her house and once we explained our situation she offered to take me and my dad back to the house (pick up my sisters along the way) to get the car while my mom, John, Peyton and Graham stayed at her house. We got in her car, found my sisters who made it a pretty good distance and then went to the house and I drove back (with a bottle) to get the rest. Then Peyton cried how she didn't want to leave the house because of all the cool toys (the woman had two little boys).

When we got home we realized that we had been gone for hours and once we got a map and looked at was probably our path we figured that we walked over three miles. I was super impressed with Peyton for walking that much and not getting upset. We all slept well that night for sure!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Letter to Santa

Peyton was very much into the whole Santa thing this year! Lots of questions and waiting anxiously for Christmas to come. One day she wrote a letter to Santa with my mom's help and we went off to Macy's to mail it. I loved that in her letter she asked Santa to bring Graham a truck and some baby food!


After mailing the letter we went and had lunch and then went to finish up some Christmas shopping. While we were walking in the mall, Peyton saw Santa. She was so excited and kept asking to see him. I really didn't want to wait in line but there was no stopping her. She didn't care and just wanted to talk to Santa. So, we waited in line...and while were waiting I started to realize that we should get the kids pictures done and that this would be Graham's first time seeing Santa....and well....I probably should have dressed them to match...or more Christmas like....or at least in nice clothes. Then I thought to myself...maybe I have time to run into Gymboree and buy something....oh, but then John would kill me for buying unnecessary clothes. I just continued to take deep breathes and remember that it didn't matter what they were wearing and that this was just about the experience and we made it to the front of the line and Peyton ran into Santa's lap and started chatting away. She even made sure that Graham was sitting with her and that Santa knew what he wanted. Graham thought Santa was awesome. And well, Mommy just went with it.....trying to not think about how nicer the picture would be with Christmas outfits because this isn't the real meaning of Christmas, it doesn't matter and well, Jesus was born in a stable and didn't have a perfect little outfit picked out.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cookie Decorating

Every year my family decorates sugar cookies and it has been fun to watch Peyton get into it more and more each passing year. This year she helped my mom bake them one afternoon and then she did great decorating. Such a fun family memory and I loved that despite all the miles between us and all the different states and countries we live in...we were able to continue this tradition this year!


Sunday, December 18, 2011


Just a couple of days after we made it back up to Washington, John arrived! I could not have been more excited to see him and have an extra pair of hands with the kids. Even if you are with family and they are helping you out it just isn't the same without your partner!

I surprised him by bringing the kids with me to the airport to pick him up. It was a two hour drive so I had mentioned that it might be too much for them. He was so happy to see them and they were both happy to see their daddy. Peyton had made signs and was over the moon happy and wanted only daddy. Graham was smiling and was happy to finally see him in person as opposed to hearing him on Skype and wondering where he was. After we left the airport we went and ate lunch in Seattle and walked around the market and then headed to my parents.

While John was in town we showed him all our favorite eating spots, trails and also various neighborhoods and houses....hoping to convince him that we should move there!

We went to Vancouver for the day, drove around and also visited the aquarium. When we were leaving we told Peyton that whatever animal was her favorite that we would go back one more time and see it....after much thought she replied....the monkeys! Seriously! Out of all the amazing fish, whales, dolphins etc she picked the monkeys!


John also managed to go snowboarding with my dad and my sister one day and reports were that he did pretty well! I had the chance to go one day and didn't...don't know why but I just wasn't up for it and didn't feel like falling constantly and beating my body up and then having to do mommy duty! John was sore for days and it didn't seem worth it!

John and I also managed to get out on a few dates which was wonderful! Although we are pretty consistent on having a weekly date night at home here in Saudi, it is not the same as being able to go out somewhere nice! My sister flew into Seattle from Abu Dhabi and her flight arrived at midnight afternoon/evening we went to Seattle and went shopping (at Nordstroms...happy!!!), then went and had drinks and appetizers at the Four Seasons, dinner (at 10:30 PM) at the Pink Door and then dessert at the Purple Cafe! When we made reservations for dinner and all they had was 10:30 PM I just had to laugh! I don't remember the last time we were out that late and 10:30 PM is normally bed time for us...not go out for dinner! John surprised me by going to Nordstroms at the beginning of the night and getting me a new fun date outfit and then we just enjoyed walking around Seattle, sitting at restrarants, holiding hands and spennding time together!

Another night while in Bellingham we went to Hearthfire Grill and had the most AMAZING food! I have never finished my entire plate at dinner and I devoured my food. It was delicious! We have also never asked to tell the chef how great our dinner was and we had to just compliment him! I had a salmon dish and John had a tuna steak and it was wonderful! We got there just before nine and had amazing service and another late night of wonderful conversation, lots of discussions about the past six months and then looking forward to our future! So beyond thankful for the time we go to have together!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Deep in the Heart of Texas

I decided to brave another solo travel experience with the kids the beginning of December and we headed down to Texas to visit with John's mom and our friends that we left in League City. We were gone for around 10 days and had so much fun, many wonderful memories and conversations and I loved all the time we had with everyone and was overwhelmed with friend's hospitality.

This travel experience was a little more complicated and overwhelming and I would even say that flying solo from Saudi to Seattle was almost easier than the whole Seattle to Houston round trip experience mostly because I didn't buy a seat for Graham and thought I could handle him in my lap and I was adding a car rental on each end. The seat thing was annoying and certainly made it so much harder to manage two kids alone when I only had one hand available and trying to hold Graham with the other and he is just too big and doesn't fit in my lap. Lesson learned that just because he is under two doesn't mean he should be in my lap especially on a five hour flight and alone! As for the bags and having to  deal with moving baggage from the airport to the car rental place (of course off site both times) along with two kids, car seats and a stroller. We survived mainly due to extremely helpful porters and the car rental bus driver in Houston and then the rental car people in Seattle. We rented from Enterprise in both places and they went above and beyond to help me out and I was so thankful!

Because I was solo and moving between three houses, visiting lots of turns out that I was pretty bad about taking pictures :( 

We started out the trip staying at our friends house and enjoyed spending time with them and visiting. We then got together with our old small group...from before we were even married...for lunch and play time at another friend's house, The Shelton's. It was such a wonderful morning of visiting with dear friends who have gone through life with us...from marriage to babies to people moving. I am so thankful for our first small group and the instrumental part they have been and continue to be in our life. We haven't done small group with them for about four years yet they all remain dear friends. a side note.....when we started small group we had zero kids in our between all of us...there are six kids and another one on the way!

Peyton loved playing with her friend Emma and they played so well together! They just clicked and played constantly. It was so much fun to watch them talk and hear their imagination running wild! Lots of fun! And Graham watched their little one who is about three months older than him intently and learned some new skills from Henry and shortly after coming back from Texas started crawling and pulling up on things.

After a couple of days we headed to Beaumont to visit with my college roommate and maid of honor. She had her son just a couple of weeks after I had Graham and although we did make a quick trip out to see her before we moved I haven't really been able to see her as a mommy and it was so fun to watch her in her new role! I love that we are both in this stage of life and it is so much fun that our little boys are the same age. They loved each other and just we fascinated with each other and Peyton did great playing with two babies! We only wished we had more than a couple of nights with them! It was so much fun to catch up, pick up right where we left of and have fun, silly, meaningful, challenging and great girl talk together...over a glass or two of wine of course! 

And doesn't Peyton look ecstatic to be having her picture taken?

Following Beaumont we headed back to League City and met up with friends from a Mommy group I was in for dinner and crammed in some Christmas activities the next few days....we had  Christmas with Grandma Martha at her house.

Grandma was able to take off both Fridays I was there to spend the day with us and we were able to spend the days shopping, eating and hanging out. Peyton was so happy to see her Grandma Martha and Graham warmed up pretty quick. I only wish we had more time to spend with her and just hang out as opposed to having to run and go.

We also went to the Festival of Lights with friends and enjoyed walking around and getting into the Christmas spirit.

Also while we were back we attended our church home in their newest campus and I was so thankful to be able to be there worshiping freely! And I was so happy to see our church growing and reaching more people in the area. It was pretty awesome! The preschoolers were singing on stage that day and I had known about it so I had practiced the song on the plane with Peyton and talked to her about it and so she ended up singing on stage! She did so well and did some of the hand movements and singing! It helped that the song was one she knew from school last year. 

I had wanted to go to church the next weekend which was one of the reasons I planned my trip so I could have two Sundays in Texas but me and the kids were both sick :( 

We also had a breakfast morning with the girls from the last small group we had and loved catching up and hearing how God is using them in the new groups they are all leading or the way they are serving in a church plant. I am thankful for that girl time we had!

We did so much during our trip and I loved every moment we had with friends and their families. I only wish we had more time with everyone and time to relax in between. I didn't get to see everyone I wanted to and I was pretty tired by the end of it but it was so nice to go back to what used to be our home. Hopefully next time John can come with me...we can see more family and more friends and just have more time. Miss all of you and thank you so much for everyone's wonderful hospitality.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Check Up

Another reason we headed to Texas is to have a pediatrician appointment for both of the kids as a check up/make sure nothing serious is going on with a trusted doctor that we know. I don't suggest doing two kids well child check ups at the same time for the sake of your sanity and the staffs sanity but I didn't have a choice and thankfully everyone was very helpful, patient and it all worked out.

Here are the stats.....
Height: 38 3/4" (73%)
Weight: 32 lbs 8 oz (57%)
*at 3 years 3 months

She was full of questions that day and was asking the doctor about everything and anything. She even asked him how he became a doctor, where he went to school, where was his school, where does he live....and on and on and on! So...there is no real concern on her language development and he didn't have any real concerns developmentally. He did observe that her hair was not healthy looking and her skin a little pale and suggested a multi vitamin rich in Omegas and adding more fatty acids to her diet considering she rarely eats fish, she doesn't like the milk here in Saudi and since being here her diet has gotten worse. We started her on a daily vitamin rich in Omegas and already I see a difference in her hair.

Height: 31" (99%)
Weight: 25 lbs 5 oz (98%)
Head Circumference: 18 3/4" (98%)

So the doctor comes in and says, "I hope you like football...because you will be watching many games with this kid." Pretty much Graham is a big kid! He probably won't thin out and I should continue to expect him to be just a big baby! He is healthy, not overweight and doing great but is just a big boy! The doctor was very happy with his development, eating and sleeping habits and said he is a healthy and very happy boy (which I knew)! All he said was for me to remember that although he looks older and like he should be doing certain things that he isn't. He had some blood work done and it was all fine. He had some vaccinations and was a champ. Such a sweet and happy boy!