Monday, May 19, 2014

Three Year Saudi Anniversary

Our three year Saudi Anniversary is here! What a wonderful year this year has been! It is a little crazy how fast it flew by and how it really doesn't seem like it has been a whole year! But what a huge year of growth (personally, in our marriage and in our family) and peace and feeling settled! Year one was rough, year two was better and this year has continued to be easier, more comfortable and a great year for our family!

Here are some of the main highlights and areas that we grew when I think over this year…

We have battled and overcome the challenges being gluten free in the Middle East! We have managed both kids Celiacs diagnosis and have become pros at knowing what we can buy here and where we can find it and can pack a crazy amount of supplies whenever we are home! We have mastered making bread, baked goods, pizzas and so much more. What seemed so overwhelming at first isn't anymore! 

We had a wonderful summer back home in Washington and left feeling rejuvenated as a family! We saw so much progress on our house and while we were in Washington, we had our first family camping trip and went camping in Olympic National Park! So much fun and a wonderful time enjoying time together as a family, having great conversations and planning for the year. I remember last year when I left Washington being very conflicted and struggling with the desire of feeling like I was torn between wanting two lives….one of living overseas and the other of being in Washington….and have found this year to be a time of growth and acceptance that our life here in Saudi is providing that home and future back in the States. It has been much easier for me to accept Saudi as our home, our present and what our life is now (and to live with joy and purpose in that present) and that this is a tremendous blessing to be here which allows us in turn to have the house in Washington, work on it and plan for our future there. I have been able to enjoy the moment and present time. Whether it is in Washington working on the house and enjoying life there or being in Saudi, I have been able to see each life more mixed together and how they are related and not so much opposite or conflicting lives. It has been much easier coming back and forth between the two places and not so much of an adjustment as it was the past couple of years.

I turned 30 and was gifted the trip of a lifetime by John to Nepal with my sister. It was amazing to fulfill a lifelong dream of traveling to Nepal and experiencing the country. It was everything I imagined it to be and more and was such a wonderful time traveling with my sister. I was seven weeks pregnant at the time which was a little nerve wracking but thankfully didn't cause any issues! It was such a wonderful trip of new experiences, reflection and taking in a culture and country that I have been fascinated with for so long. I had a wonderful time in Nepal and am so thankful for that trip and experience.

What has been the biggest change in our lives and the biggest part of this year was the decision to expand our family. And if anything, that is what I will always remember most from this year. The conversations and prayers (starting in January 2013) about expanding our family, the waiting patiently (yes, I did actually wait surprisingly very patiently) and then feeling like this was the right plan for our family after we came back to Saudi from the summer to finally come November when we announced that we were pregnant with baby #3 and then being pregnant overseas, away from family, away from what was normal from the last two pregnancies and this whole experience! I will always remember those key parts but more so, I will remember the beautiful fruit that has come out of this journey. This pregnancy has resulted in me relying on John so much more this time, a time of reflection about our family and goals and it has been a great time of growth in our marriage and our family. This year has been transformational for our family and I don't think that would have happened if we had not been living in Saudi and for that I am so thankful!

We celebrated our first Christmas here (which was also my first Christmas away from family)! We decorated the house for the first time as a family, enjoyed Christmas music and shopping in Bahrain, celebrated Christmas Day in our home in Saudi and enjoyed the fellowship of our friends here over an amazing Christmas dinner. I know when we first moved here I couldn't imagine spending a Christmas here and vowed to never do it but it was a great Christmas. I loved spending the time focused on my family, doing our own thing and it was really calm and peaceful being away from all the crazy Christmas marketing. The kids and I did end up taking a trip home in January to see family and enjoy a break away but it was nice to know that I didn't feel like I had to get away and that I could survive (and enjoy) a Christmas away from family in Saudi!

John was also able to achieve some great professional goals which in turn has made it easier for him to find greater fulfillment professionally. He finished all the paperwork and is registered as a Professional Engineer after taking the test last year and he also studied and just took another API certification test. The biggest change was being recognized by work for his quality of work, and how valuable he is to the company and being granted a request to change departments and roles into something more challenging and in line with future career goals. It is hard to change roles here and it speaks highly of how much they valued his contribution and saw that he could be better utilized somewhere else. He is now listed as a corrosion engineer and is greatly enjoying the work, the people he is working with and the new challenges. We are very thankful for this new direction at work! 

And now we are concluding our third year in Saudi with the upcoming arrival of our baby girl…only a couple more days! We are so excited about our upcoming fourth year living in Saudi! We have made the goal and theme for this year to be a time of adjusting to being a family of five. Our goal and mindset is to be continually conscious of allowing us the time and opportunities to adjust to having a new member of our family and enjoying the little moments and day to day moments of our kids lives and making sure that our travel plans, our decisions on day to day life allow us to continue to grow as a family and to make this year the smoothest we can as we welcome baby girl into our family. Also, as we are coming over the hump of our original commitment of being in Saudi for five years we have some big financial goals personally and for our home renovations that we want to accomplish so the taking it easy/adjusting to baby lines up really well with slowing down and accomplishing all those goals as well. 

I am really excited to see what is in store for us this year. We are truly blessed and thankful for this stage of our life and the blessings we have already seen come out of our time in Saudi so far! 

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