Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Being gluten free…one year later

One year ago Peyton started getting sick with what was thought in the beginning to be a stomach bug. It was the start of four plus weeks of sickness, tests, no diagnosis, lots of tears and eventually going gluten free. It seems like just the other day but yet it has been just around a year since we went gluten free. I remember so clearly sitting on the kitchen floor in tears because I could see Peyton just losing weight and not eating and trying to make anything and everything gluten free and her refusing it and wondering if and when my child would ever eat. It was such an overwhelming and scary time. But what a difference a year has made and how thankful I am to be in the place we are a year later.

I am so thankful that everything with Peyton started just before we were heading back to Washington and what a huge blessing it was to be there and able to work with our pediatrician in Bellingham, get connected with Seattle Children's, testing Graham and finding out he was positive for Celiacs, learning about gluten free foods in an environment that has tons of options and helped so much in getting Peyton to eat again and enjoy food and having the encouragement and support of family to help get my kids to try different foods.

When we came back to Saudi we were faced with bringing back supplies and food for the kids and learning the ropes of finding gluten free options here, handling food/snacks and school and birthday parties. Thankfully one year later we no longer feel overwhelmed or that cooking gluten free overwhelms our lives! We make pretty awesome sliced bread, yummy cookies and snacks and can easily substitute/ adjust regular recipes to make it gluten free and have a good system going!

Even more important is that our kids are healthy and thriving! Peyton is at a healthy weight and has so much more energy, a positive attitude and able to do so much more. A year ago (even before she was sick) I would have laughed if someone suggested she should walk around the mall instead of in a stroller or that she would want to do multiple sports at a time. She has so much energy and is such a different kid. I am so thankful that we went through all of this now versus later and that she is able to enjoy being active and a kid. Graham we have noticed subtle changes (mostly digestive) but mostly we are so thankful that he didn't have to go through being sick to find out and that he has handled being gluten free incredibly well for a three year old. They both have. They both are so good about understanding that they can't have things at times, sometimes have to have something different and are good about asking if it is gluten free. They are doing amazing! They have also learned to love meat, veggies and have moved away from the "toddler" diet of nuggets, pasta and pizza. We rarely eat noodles anymore, hardly make them pizza and they often request grilled chicken or steak or fish. They have become more adventurous in their diets and probably healthier.

Many people have asked how we are going to handle baby #3 and her diet and our plan is that she will probably be mostly gluten free but that at the age of two we will make sure she is having a serving of gluten for three months and then have her tested for Celiacs and go from there. But with having two siblings with Celiacs, she will more than likely have a predominately gluten free diet regardless especially when we move back to the States and I don't have to ration my supplies :)

So, one year later and I am just full of thankfulness. So thankful that they are healthy, thriving and doing great and thankful for the many doctors, friends, family and resources that helped us get to this point! 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter 2014

We started our Easter weekend by attending the fellowship here on camp on Friday. Such a blessing to have that resource here and to gather in celebration with a community here. The kids got dressed up and off we went…

The Easter bunny arrived Sunday morning with some goodies and eggs hidden around. I will say that the Easter bunny was a little unprepared this year but it didn't matter and the kids had a wonderful day. We had an egg hunt in the morning and the kids were so sweet in making sure to share and work together. It was was unbelievable how calm and cooperative of a egg hunt it was!

That afternoon a friend coordinated an egg hunt on the beach for all the kids and so we headed there at lunch time. All the parents brought eggs for the kids to find and it was so much fun to watch all these kids run along the beach, finding eggs and sharing with each other and making sure everyone found enough eggs. We have a great group of kids here and some wonderful friends for Peyton and Graham!

Waiting for the egg hunt…..

There were some really big eggs on the beach and Graham had found two of them. When I asked why he was picking up two he said he was getting one for Peyton and he had to find a pink one for her. Here he is delivering the big egg to Peyton…

My favorite part of this Easter though was the work and time that John put into it before Easter. He created Resurrection Eggs for the kids and him to do at bedtime. Essentially they are like an advent calendar for Easter, counting down the days until Easter by retelling the story of the death, burial and resurrection by putting different symbols in each of the twelve eggs. Each egg has a verse/part of the story to accompany with the symbol in the egg. It was such a wonderful way to help illustrate the story for the kids and has generated so many conversations and connections over the past two weeks. I was so thankful for John to do this for the kids and completely take it on as I am tired and really dropped the ball on Easter this year!

It was a beautiful weekend and day celebrating here in Saudi! 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

T-Ball Opening Day

Over the Easter weekend Peyton had her first t-ball game and the baseball association put on a huge opening day full of activities to celebrate the start of baseball.

Here she is all decked out in her uniform and ready to go! She liked that it had her name on there!

Part of the opening day ceremony was having every kid being recognized and run out onto the field! Here is Peyton with her team and two coaches.

And then it was time for her game! What they did for the first game was just have all the kids go through and bat once and run to the base and then the last player got to bring everyone home and there was no outs. It was mostly to practice the positions, the process of catching the ball and then throwing it to the right place.

Peyton waiting for the ball. She managed to get one hit her direction and did great getting it and throwing it to first base!

Getting ready to bat! They went through two innings to get a feel for the game.

It was a great day and so much fun watching her play and try something new. We celebrated by enjoying some hot dogs and hamburgers afterwards! It was kind of crazy watching her play t-ball and remembering when I was playing t-ball and softball and here I was watching my daughter play in Saudi Arabia! 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Dinner Under the Stars Baby Shower

Shortly after I found out I was pregnant, four of my closest friends here asked to throw me a baby shower and started planning. The big day was finally here and I was so excited to celebrate the upcoming arrival of our little girl with friends!

When my friends asked me if there was anything I wanted specifically for the shower the only thing I had asked was that Peyton be involved in some way….and that I was fine with it being super girly/pink. I really wanted to share this time with her and recognize her role as the oldest and big sister and share in a special memory with her. So, we decided that she would be come to the first hour of the shower and she was so excited to get all dressed up and come with me. She wanted me to paint her nails, fix her hair, put a bow in her hair which are all things that she never wants to do. She was just so excited about being the only kid at the party and being part of this day! 

So thankful and blessed to be mommy to these two….and soon to be three!
The shower theme was "Dinner under the Stars," and when we arrived at the shower I was so incredibly overwhelmed and started getting teary eyed because it was so beautiful! I was amazed at everything they had done and all the details and just overwhelmed with gratitude.

The tables were beautifully decorated with lots of gold, pink and glitter! Even the candle holders had pink chevron paper around them and the girls spray painted paper circles to use as chargers. The place holders were place cards with glittered clothes pins attached on them! Every seat had either a pink or white pashmina as a favor/thank you gift. What made this all even more impressive was that this was all done with things they found in Saudi! They hand made everything or hunted for things here which is a huge feat!

The stars hung around were made from card stock and sewn into bunting with a sewing machine!
As part of honoring Peyton they made signs for our chairs and also gave her a gift with a sweet card recognizing her role as a big sister and some gifts for her. She loved her seat and she has her banner hanging up in room!

One friend made a gorgeous diaper cake! The centerpiece was made of some cute onsies that a friend's grandmother sent over specifically for our little girl which was such a sweet and thoughtful touch. The frame had cards hanging by little clothes pins where everyone wrote a wish for our little girl. 

I am so incredibly thankful for these four women in my life. They mean the world to me and I am so incredibly thankful to have them in my life here. I could not even imagine life here without them and they are lifelong friends. They are our family here!

Peyton was so excited to have her fancy lemonade! I loved having her there being a part of that day! Her being there for just an hour was the perfect amount of time. She loved it but she was ready to leave and go play at her friends house with John and Graham!

Not only are my friends awesome party planners they are amazing chefs and they put together a delicious dinner for everyone! We had delicious appetizers and then a butternut squash soup and potato leek soup, a strawberry walnut chicken salad, salmon and so many other light meal options. It was all so delicious! And it was a wonderful time of hanging out with friends.

Then it was a dessert time! There was a white chocolate custard with strawberry sauce sprinkled with edible glitter, a chocolate cake with whipped cream and strawberries and then mini cheesecake topped with blueberries…. I said that my friends were awesome chefs!  

The night continued with enjoying time with friends, opening gifts and celebrating the upcoming arrival of our little girl! It was a wonderful night and I am so thankful for all the hard work that was put into that night to celebrate and honor us! So blessed!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Break in Bahrain

After surviving two weeks of no school during Spring Break we decided to spend last weekend in Bahrain! It was a wonderful weekend of relaxing, enjoying time as a family and enjoying time with John and just having a break before we enter into this new phase of life as a family of five so very soon.

We started the weekend with a yummy breakfast and then John took Peyton to see the Lego movie while Graham and I headed out to shop and spend the day together. I had no desire to see the Lego movie and Graham doesn't really sit through a movie at home so we didn't attempt the movie theater with him. John and Peyton LOVED it! They are both so similar and were both so excited about the movie...I love watching John and his mini me together! 

While John and Peyton were at the movies, I was planning on finding some fun things to do with Graham and enjoy some frozen yogurt together BUT Graham ended up falling asleep in the stroller which was unexpected so instead I had a couple of hours of kid free (minus pushing the stroller) shopping which was wonderful! Then when he woke up we enjoyed our frozen yogurt! Although our time was shorter than I planned, it was so much fun to hang out with my little man!

We then headed to the hotel! We decided to stay at a different hotel than we normally do and booked at the Sofitel, a more resort type hotel than where we normally stay. It was an absolutely beautiful hotel! It was on the beach and had two great pools and just such a relaxing environment. We only wished that we could have stayed for two nights so we could have more time there. As soon as we checked in we went to the pools for several hours and played in the kids pool area with the slides and then swam in the big pool. It was fun for Peyton to show John how far she has come in her swimming (she did a swim clinic the week before during Spring Break) and Graham was just excited to finally get in the pool and swim! After swimming we got everyone dressed and headed down for the buffet dinner which was delicious…especially the desserts :) We figured we should take advantage of sitting down at a restaurant and enjoying dinner while we still can! 

That evening after getting the kids down, John and I enjoyed sitting on the patio and spending some quality time with each other. John has been taking on so much around the house when he comes home from work with me being tired/achy…pregnant…and on top of it has been studying for a huge professional certification exam the end of this month that we haven't had much time to just sit and talk and enjoy each others company. It was exactly what we needed!

The next morning we headed down for breakfast which again was delicious and the kids thoroughly enjoyed their hot chocolates…

We then got dressed and went for some more swimming! We swam pretty much up to check out and wished we could have stayed longer to enjoy the beach and swim more! Our kids are certainly water babies!

We then packed it up and headed back to Saudi :( I was so thankful for the weekend and time away and time as a family and sad it had to come to an end. It will be awhile for sure until we will be venturing out of Saudi and so it was nice to have a break to rejuvenate before we stick it out here for several months. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Getting Crafty for Baby Girl

After finding out that we were having a baby girl I got the urge to get crafty and make super cute girly things for her. If I was back in the States I probably would have just gone crazy buying things off of Etsy so it is a good thing I couldn't and had to do things myself!

I started with some cute onesie dresses and a skirt. I actually had this fabric around the house and used an old maternity shirt for one of the dresses. I made matching bows from the fabrics as well for her. 

I did go out and buy some Fourth of July themed fabric for another onesie dress that I am still working on finishing….I need blue thread but I can't just drive myself out to get it but it is all pinned and ready to go so once I do get the thread it will be quick to finish up! I also have enough fabric left over to make a skirt for Peyton to match!

I used an old frame to make a bow holder and completely underestimated how many bows I already had left over from Peyton and how many I would end up making or buying. She has a whole drawer organizer full as well :) I also made some headbands to attach the bows to since I couldn't find much here. I am sure that problem with be fixed this summer when we go home!

Speaking about bows….after I made some from fabric, searched for cute ribbon in Saudi and came up short (on my shopping list for the summer) and sorted the ones I had, I found a great website through a friend called Hair Bow Club that sells pre made and custom bows for super cheap! They are based in China and ship to Saudi! I only made a small order this time of 14 hows to match some outfits that I knew I didn't have a bow for and to experiment with the various styles and sizes and the total for all 14 bows and shipping was under $15! It did take close to twenty days for them to arrive but they are nice quality bows and I am impressed. I am sure we will have several more orders in our future :)

I also couldn't find decent priced burp rags here and so I made some of my own! I made two of each of the patterns so we are set! I did attempt this one day though when I was suffering from three nights of no sleep and having a super pregnancy brain day so the first couple are a little sketchy looking on the seams but the rest turned out great.

I would still love to make a bigger bow holder with her name on it, some more outfits and more bows and maybe venture into making her a small quilt to use as a play mat/blanket but I am going to have to wait until we can go back to the States and get more supplies. I am also saving TONS of items on Etsy for ideas of things to make or just buy for her. It has been fun to make things for our little girl!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

32…almost 33 weeks

I am 32 weeks and 5 days now with baby girl and have about six weeks until our scheduled c-section date! We are all very excited about meeting her! I have been bad about posting belly shots and weekly updates so I am posting them throughout this update!
31 weeks
We had an appointment yesterday and the report was that baby #3 is still a girl (always  a good thing to hear when you have been going crazy with girly stuff) and doing great! She is measuring just slightly bigger than she should at this point and is just around 4 lbs right now which is great! She is still breeched (head comfortably under my ribs) but sometime between my last appointment and this one she managed to get her feet up by her head like Peyton was. There is some concern over hip displacement issues like we had with Peyton but there is nothing we can do until she comes out so right now our prayers is that any hip displacement from being stuck like that for a couple of months is very minor and fixes itself like Peyton's did. Other than her new position, everything looks great which is a huge praise. My blood pressure is low, my fluid levels are good and everything is looking like it should which is a huge praise! I have an appointment April 21 and then probably just one more after that before the big day. 

32 weeks
Beyond what the doctor said, I am feeling great! Starting to feel the aches and pains at night time (especially in my hips) of carrying around extra pounds and an active baby all day but beyond what is normal pregnancy pains, I am feeling great. I am thankfully still not having any cramping, my blood pressure is low and I am able to do either prenatal yoga, a nice walk along the beach or some light weights/arm exercises! I am struggling with getting comfortable at night and sleeping which has been really hard. I can get a couple of good nights and then some naps on the weekends to catch up but the weeks are hard and I am pretty exhausted :( no nesting/surge of energy for me yet…just really tired! But overall, lots of praises for a healthy and easy pregnancy.

Although it is has been pretty easy I have realized there is no more shopping trips for me :( We went to Khobar for a shopping day (with the hour drive each way, prayer time closings…shopping takes a whole day) about two weeks ago and it wore me out. It was way too much, and I was exhausted and achy for several days afterwards. Not worth it. Thankfully I got everything I needed for our hospital stay/coming home that trip out and from now on John will be running any errands in Khobar solo.

Baby girl is crazy active! She kicks, punches, rolls, stretches ALL DAY LONG! She is the first baby that John can just look at my stomach at times and see moving around. It is such a different feeling. She is so strong, so active and feisty! Wonder that will mean when she comes out!?!

The kids are super excited and have been asking more and more about how much longer, and when can we hold the baby. They have also been playing baby dolls more than ever and often are in the nursery playing house and taking care of their babies. It is pretty cute and leads to some good teaching moments on what we can and can't do when baby girl arrives.

We have our hospital bag packed, the kids car seats moved to the back row of our car (we can't fit three seats across the main row) and her car seat base installed in the main row. Have her clothes all washed and ready, batteries in swings and the pack n play up in our room. We have 15 or more freezer meals made and waiting to be eaten that John and I have been working on the past few months to prepare and have on hand. We are going to start working on and finalizing all the care for the kids with our friends while I am in the hospital and also help with transporting kiddos after I come home and recover. So, hopefully we are ready!

We have been so blessed with wonderful friends (and even friends parent's who are in country visiting while baby will be born) offering to help with so much which has meant it hasn't been stressful or too different being overseas and away from family while preparing for babies arrival. We are so thankful for the support we have here. I know it will be hard and a little emotional when she comes not having family here or coming here but we will be looking forward to "hopefully" a trip home late this summer to show her off….I say "hopeful"because there is a lot of paperwork, passport process, translations, visas, residency permits that all need to get done before we leave and we are up against the deadline of the Ramadan holiday when nothing gets done. If we don't have her stuff before Ramadan, we will probably not be going back to Washington until Christmas time. Thankfully I can't control or do any of the steps so this is all on John to manage and we will be waiting for everything to come through at the last minute to leave for the summer. Our vacation plan/schedule for this year has so many options and contingencies, you can only laugh and take it day by day!

32 weeks and 4 days