Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Day 2013

This year we celebrated our first Christmas in Saudi Arabia and for me (Che), my first Christmas away from my family. It was a lot quieter than usual but it was a great, relaxing and wonderful day!

We set out all the presents the night before. The kids big presents are two bikes hidden behind the tree and their chairs from Pottery Barn Kids. I have always wanted to buy them these chairs and just never wanted to spend the money on them. With them now sharing a room with the arrival of Baby #3 I thought it would sweet for them to have matching chairs to have a reading space in their room and help tie the colors/theme together in there. 

We did our note to Santa and put reindeer food out front before they went to bed and they both went to sleep so quickly and were up and ready to open their gifts. 

I got some nice headphones to use on the airplane. With flying as much as we do I was tired of using the ones they give you on the plane. I was excited to use them the next day when we flew home to Washington!

We then had breakfast and the kids played and played and played while we cooked and prepared desserts and other sides for our Christmas dinner with friends later.

We had Christmas dinner with our core group of friends here, our family here and it was a great evening of absolutely delicious food (we have some good cooks in our group) and hanging out with people that mean so much to us and our support here and our family.

A wonderful Christmas Day spending the day celebrating the birth of Jesus, our family and being so full of thankfulness for the community we have here!

And then it was off to bed because the kids and I were flying to Washington the next day!!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas Activities

With it being our first Christmas away from the States it was nice to try and bring some Christmas cheer and activities to our life here while keeping out the materialism and never ending advertising. I loved being able to celebrate and reflect as a family on the real reason for Christmas without fighting the shopping frenzy. We did make sure to include fun festive Christmas activities.

Our Elf Noodle arrived back from the North Pole…..

And he brought the kids new Christmas PJs that I managed to pick up in October at the Gymboree here :)

We took a trip to Bahrain for the weekend to finish up Christmas shopping without the interruption of prayer and loved listening to Christmas music in the stores, a winter wonderland and enjoying the Christmas atmosphere.

John and I took the time while in Bahrain….and the hotel baby sitting service….to go out for dinner!

We spent lots of time as a family and soaking up time together since I was heading to Washington shortly. These two are such good friends and it is such a sweet phase of life watching their relationship grow.

Another weekend was Visitor from the North put on by a group on camp. It is always so well done and this year was no exception. They decorated the theater in a winter wonderland, have junior high students dressed as elves as helpers and of course Santa who gives each kid an age/gender appropriate gift. Of course both kids had no fear about seeing Santa and were full of requests and conversation!

We decorated gluten free sugar cookies! It is a family tradition that I had growing up to decorate cookies so we had to continue it. I did find that gluten free cookies break a whole lot easier so we didn't have too many left that were able to be decorated but the kids had a blast!

A wonderful Christmas season and thankful to be able to include so many traditions and also still experience the Christmas atmosphere being so close to Bahrain! A busy and fun month!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Graham's First Trip to the ER

It was bound to happen sometime and thankfully it took over 2.5 years for us to have to make a trip to the ER with Graham. And even more thankful it wasn't more serious. 

So….what happened….we had come home from the Visitor at the North event where the kids get to see Santa and they get a present each. At our house we have two living areas, a nice living room that the kids never play in and we only use with friends and for John and I to relax and then their playroom where we are almost all the time. We decided to let them open their new presents in the nice living next to the Christmas tree and enjoy a nice family afternoon in front of the tree. Well, we also have these two cube ottomans that have a soft top or you can flip over for a wooden tray top for drinks. They are always on the soft side but we had our coffees in there and had one flipped over. Graham decided to crawl around of the couch, lost his balance and bam….hit right above his eye on his eyebrow right on the edge of the tray. It was loud and bloody. Thankfully we were able to get the bleeding to stop surprisingly fast and look at it and see it was a deep one and would need stitches. So, we got everyone ready and headed to the ER.

He was such a pro waiting and being strong and letting them look and then we had to start the procedure. It was horrible. They had to use a sheet to bind him to hold him down and he was so scared and just keeping pleading with me, "mommy, please tell them to stop, please let me go, please stop touching me." It was rough. Thankfully they had one person holding his legs, one holding his head and I was at his arms while the doctor worked. He was crying so hard, I started getting teary eyed and I was so thankful when he was done…four stitches later. 

He is such a sweet boy though and when the doctor was done he said, "Thank you doctor for fixing me, Merry Christmas." That statement shows so much about his heart and how kind, loving and appreciative he is. He has done great in letting me put new tape on it and didn't have very much bruising. I did make John hold him down when they removed the stitches which ended up being worse than when they put them in because he knew what was happening. Thankfully it is past us and now we just have scar management to tackle. He has a pretty brutal scar where it was but we have been putting on scar cream and then also making sure to have sunscreen or a bandaid over it when he goes outside to keep the sun off of it. The doctor said that keeping sun away from it was key. Thankfully we are heading to Washington and that shouldn't be a problem but I know it will be work in Saudi….I am praying it isn't too bad and heals up nicely. 

Poor guy and praying that there aren't too many more visits to the ER in our future…..

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Visiting the Duck Pond

Both Peyton and Graham's schools scheduled field trips to the Duck Pond. They were supposed to be a couple of weeks apart however weather delays and rescheduling caused them to be the same week. And, Peyton did't have school due to a broken water pipe and flooding on the day Graham's class went so she got to come with him which he loved.

Unfortunately because of some serious bad rain and flooding we had the weeks prior it was more a of mud pond but either way the kids had a blast and loved it. A fun (couple of days) at the duck pond!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Starting to Look Like Christmas

We decided to decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving because I had hosted a baby shower at our house that same weekend and it was already a mess! 

This is actually our first Christmas to be spending in Saudi! The first year I left in November and John came for a couple weeks around Christmas and then last year with buying the house we all went back and spent time in Washington. And as crazy as it sounds, this is my first Christmas away from my parents...ever. So, lots of firsts! 

It was fun to see all the decorations we had brought, some we found while shopping in Bahrain and figure out how to decorate our house for Christmas. John put up the tree for himself the first year but I haven't decorated our tree in several years. We had a good time as a family putting it up and decorating and I was thankful that we have plastic ornaments or we would have had a big mess with all the dropping of ornaments!

The one thing I didn't ship over here was our nativity scene (as well as our nutcrackers, special ornaments....pretty much anything I would be sad if it was confiscated). I always thought about bringing one back but I forgot until we got closer to Christmas and I was getting pretty sad about not having a nativity scene. One of my family traditions was reading the Christmas story and putting out the nativity scene together before we started any decorating and I was sad about not having that for the kids. Well, there was a holiday open house on camp and there was a nativity scene for sale. I was so excited! It was super expensive and I paid way over what it was worth but it was worth it for us. We did realize however when we were going through the story that there are not shepherds :( So, we are looking to bring another one back with us for next year.

I made a wreath for the front door from odds and ends I found in our decorations! 

Our Tractor Santa made it in our shipment and is in the front yard. Graham LOVES it! He always says it is just like his G's tractor and gets so excited to watch it inflate.

It is a different feeling being in Saudi for Christmas but it has its positives for sure....we are loving the lack of advertising, materialism and crazy shopping associated with Christmas and are enjoying being able to focus on what we want to do to celebrate as a family. And I am so thankful to have a beautiful family of friends to be celebrating with.

And I get the best of both worlds as the kids and I are flying out on December 26 for four weeks in Washington! So excited!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Peyton's Art Show

Peyton did another session of art class this fall and she loved it! For as analytical as she can be she does love art class and it is such a great resource to have here. It was a eight week session and she had a art show at the end to show off her work!

I love the next painting....everyone had flowers/dots on the bottom like the example from Monet. When I asked Peyton why her painting didn't have the flowers her response was, "because I didn't think it should, flowers don't grow out of the water." Already expressing her creative input! 

Graham was so proud of his sister! He loved looking at all her paintings and wanted his picture taken with her as well. He adores her! He kept telling her that she was an artist just like his "G."

We are thankful for the teacher and the time and effort she puts into these sessions and are looking forward to the Spring session!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Rain...lots of Saudi!

Rain in Saudi is always an exciting and unexpected event but rain for about a week and hard not good. We saw on the weather that we would be getting some storms but I didn't expect what we did get! 

We had days upon days of rain and more rain and since we have NO drainage system it just flooded the streets and made a mess. Some houses have flat roofs that caved in and it was a mess. Thankfully for some reason our street never really flooded and our house was fine but it made for an interesting and housebound week!

The beach the night of the first big storm
A major intersection on camp that was flooded.
Damage to our beach path how high the tide got. 

Not our house but a vacant one near a friends....the ground got so saturated and then the wind would pick up that there were trees falling down all over and large trees. Again, thankfully none of our trees fell and we had no issues. 

More flooded streets.

Waiting for Peyton's bus
Peyton had school the entire time, the buses just avoided flooded intersections and went around but I didn't want to deal with it and drive Graham so we stayed home, cuddled, made hot chocolate and had some mommy and Graham time!

So that was our first experience of pretty crazy weather in Saudi!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Announcing our big news...

Finally we get to announce our biggest news of the year.....we are expanding our family! We have known FOREVER that we were pregnant (since mid September) and it was so hard to not share with everyone! We had shared with family, close friends on camp as soon as we got a positive test and then with the kids after we had my seven week appointment and came back from Nepal and everything still was showing signs of a viable pregnancy. 

A poor picture of a picture.....our 10 week ultrasound. The ultrasound at the clinic on our camp is really old so I am looking forward to having a better quality one starting in January! is all the information about our big news....

I thought you were done having kids? Didn't you sell ALL your baby everything? Yes, we thought we were done. I think with having Graham and moving all at the same time, it was a really hard adjustment. It was so much harder than I anticipated and we struggled as a family and I struggled mentally and emotionally and so we were done. We couldn't go through that again. changes, your heart changes and you sit down and really want to make sure that you prayed and considered whether your family was complete. Last January I was starting to feel like our family wasn't complete. It caught me off guard but I started praying, seeking counsel from friends and decided to approach John and let him know that I didn't feel confident one way or another but that this was on my heart. I really had to prep him so he wouldn't flip out! He was pretty shocked and pretty confident that he would NOT change his mind but he agreed to consider it, pray about it and talk about it later. We both agreed to be open to it and pray. We didn't talk much more about it until the summer and we both were starting to feel God soften our hearts and see our family as a family of five. I made sure during my summer doctor appointments that I would be cleared to get pregnant if we wanted to do and we left it at that. We came back to Saudi, prayed more together and more conversations and decided that yes, we felt that we wanted to and were in a position to have another baby....but that we would give it time and see what happens. Well.....we got pregnant right away and looking back and also looking forward to when our due date is a perfect time! And yes, we have sold nearly everything from Graham so we are starting over again but the nice thing is that by the time you are on baby #3 you realize they don't need nearly as much stuff as you bought for baby #1.

At 10 weeks about to go to a Halloween party as a robber! Body for sure knows what to do by pregnancy #3.....look at that bump!
When is your due date? Are you having the baby in Saudi?
My due date is May 27 and being a repeat c-section I will be delivering around May 20, pending any complications (like low fluid levels with Peyton) that would require me to deliver earlier. I am having the baby in Saudi. This was one of the biggest parts of the discussion for me and having to feel comfortable with the idea of delivering over here. It is not practical for me to take my two kiddos and travel to Washington where our only support structure is my parents and my dad works a rotational job. We have support here and a great community to help us out with driving kids places, watching kids and meals and it would be easier on Peyton and Graham to be here and adjust to this and I want and need John to be here for the birth of the baby and not stress about being alone. It is going to be so hard to not be around family during this process and during the birth and it is hard to think that they won't see the baby until we go home over the summer but I try not to focus on it and remember that those are sacrifices of being here, that delivering here at home is the best thing mentally for me and we will have a beautiful time when we do go home this summer. I will be delivering at the main camps hospital (about 45 minutes away) and have heard great things about it. I know it will be different and some culture shocking moments but I am trying to mentally prepare for it and focus that the goal is a healthy mommy and baby. I have been having my appointments at our clinic and will start seeing the specialists at the main hospital the end of January and am hoping that will help calm the few nerves I still have about delivering here. 

Is it a boy or girl?
We don't know yet and we are not planning on finding out! We are going to be surprised this time! 

We figured we have nothing for baby, the big kids are sharing a room here in Saudi regardless because it is easier and they are closer in routine so why not do things different this time and be surprised!

Were you pregnant in Nepal? How did that go?
Yes, I was pregnant and I knew it when I went to Nepal. I was right around 7-8 weeks. I felt great leading up to the trip and then two days before starting feeling so incredibly nauseous and then actually threw up once a couple days before going. I was so scared of how I would manage it. So, we looked around at five different pharmacies to find vitamin B6 to help with nauseousness. I started taking it in the morning and afternoon and during the trip was fine with just taking it in the morning and as long as I took it and ate something every two hours,  I thankfully wasn't nauseous, could eat anything and the smells didn't get to me. I felt great! And after coming home I felt the same, this pregnancy has been super easy in regards to morning sickness (more like my pregnancy with Peyton) which I am very thankful for!

The Evolution of Pregnancy.....thankful to be pregnant with friends....In this picture, I am about 9 weeks, Britnee is about  31 with her third and my friend Sam's baby boy (her second) is about 3 weeks old. We will all have babies within 7 months of each other!
What did the kids say?
The moment we told Peyton and Graham was by far the best moment of this pregnancy and was such a special moment that we will treasure forever. When we told Peyton about being pregnant she was too young to understand but this time she completely gets it and Graham was six months older than Peyton was and has a big sister to mimic. We told them that I went to the doctor to find out why my tummy was hurting....Peyton's immediate diagnosis was that I had Celiacs like them....and I told them that the doctor told me that there was a baby in my tummy. Peyton's first response, "Thank you Jesus for finally giving us another baby....I prayed a lot for one." Melt your heart! They were full of questions, lots of dancing around and singing with joy. They were so excited and ready to tell the world their exciting news. They have nicknamed the baby, "Rosie," and where that came from I have no idea....either Caillou (a cartoon) or one of Graham's Thomas Trains is named Rosie. But they pray daily for Rosie, come up and rub my belly to talk to Rosie and it has been such a special time with them. Peyton very much wants a baby sister and as said we will keep having babies until a girl arrives so we have been working on being thankful to God for a healthy baby. Graham is just excited about having a baby. He is my nurturer and is so sweet and loving already towards the baby. Really a special time sharing this with them! We have a video of when we told them but it was on our video camera and we can't figure out how to get it off and format it to view on the computers or send as a file. 

How are you feeling? 
Pretty good....EXHAUSTED but overall good. This pregnancy has been pretty tiring on me and that is the one symptom that has caught me off guard. I can fall asleep at 6:00 PM and sleep through the night I am that tired sometimes! Afternoon naps have become the normal around here and thankfully Peyton has been great about playing in the playroom while I nap in the living room but that often means more TV than normal. But I have found even after a good night sleep and a nap I still feel horrible and exhausted. Goodness....growing a baby and having two more is exhausting! I have been having cramping like I had with Graham which is my irritable uterus but know how to manage it better this time and have been taking it easy, staying really hydrated and not picking up the kids. Thankfully the cramping has seemed to lessen as I progress in the pregnancy so I am hoping that will continue. 

Around 12 weeks....
Whew....that is all I can think of for now. I will try to do baby #3 updates but I can already see how the third child gets less pictures and probably less pregnancy blog posts...I don't have the time or energy! But we are so excited about all the craziness about to happen in May! 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Murder Mystery Party

About nine months ago one of our good friends here decided to plan a Murder Mystery party. It was so much fun! There isn't much to do in regards to entertainment here and so it was a fun and different thing to do for the evening. It did take so much planning though on her part. She made the guest list and emailed all of us our parts before the summer so we could all pick up costumes while in the States. It all came together and everyone looked great. It was a 1920's theme, Murder at the Juice Joint. 

I was the cocktail waitress.....Kitty Cocktail. 

John was an illegal arms dealer and the club bouncer and my boy friend.

Here I am with one of my best friends here and the host of the evening! So thankful for her! I love that she is from Seattle too and so when we are all done here we will be close together!  

Another really good friend here. We both ordered the same dress and size but from different companies and it was funny how different they both fit. 

It was such a fun evening and we are planning next years for sure!