Saturday, June 28, 2014

My Little Fish and Mermaid

Since Peyton was about six months old we have put her in swim lessons. At first it was for a fun activity for us to do together and then when I realized she had no fear of water it was for safety issues and now it is because she LOVES swimming! She has so much joy when she swims and seriously smiles while under the water and as a parent it brings me so much joy to watch her do something she loves and see her progress in it! 

Practicing her backstroke starts!
Peyton decided at some point this spring that her current goal for swimming is to make swim team this fall. She would see the kids going up there for practice and would ask about it and then one day told me that she wanted to be on swim team. She asked her teacher how she gets on swim team and decided that she was going to work to make it. So determined! The tryouts are September 5 and she has to swim one length free style and one length backstroke to make the team for her age group. She has been very determined and has worked really hard in her lessons to get ready. I am so proud of her and it has been great to see her set her mind on something and work for it. And at the end of lessons at the end of June she was able to do both!! Such a proud mommy moment!! 
Waiting with her friends to swim
Unfortunately lessons are not running in July which means it is up to John and I to take her to the pool to keep practicing which is super hard since I am the one who should be taking her with my swimming background and because I am the one who attends her lessons and knows what she should be working on but I am also the one attached to a newborn! But John has been taking her and since Peyton is so determined she has been working on things on her own and at least is getting some swimming in. I have her signed up for a two week group swim lesson in Washington and then also am in the process of setting up some private lessons the other weeks we are there. Then when we come home she has a swim clinic the week before tryouts to help refresh her on things. We really wanted to make sure that we were supporting her as much as possible and setting her up for success at making swim team!

Here is a video of her doing her free style for the first time the whole length of the pool, this was before I had Shiloh so she has progressed tremendously much since then and has gotten more confident and stronger! I don't have a backstroke video :( but that has actually been the easiest for her and was able to do that at the end of the fall swim season. 

I really hope she makes swim team mostly because I want her to achieve the goal she has set for herself. I remember ready an article awhile ago (before my kids were in any activities) about supporting our kids and not being another coach/critic in their lives but a cheerleader and watching Peyton go through this and how hard she is already on herself I really see the importance of being her cheerleader and supporter. I always make sure to ask if she had fun, or tell her to go have fun while swimming or that I love watching her swim because she looks like she is so happy. 

Graham also is a water baby and just loves to go to swim lessons. He has been taking them since he was a year old and although is a little more tentative than Peyton he has no fear in comparison to other kids his age. This season he was in a class without mommy and grew so much in his swimming! He can do streamline and kick off the wall a good distance and then kick back all by himself. He can kick using a noodle or kick board the whole length of the pool and is starting to learn how to move his arms. I don't think he will be our swimmer like Peyton but knowing he can swim and can either flip over on his back and kick to the wall or on his front and save himself is huge. Swimming is such an important skill to have especially living around so much water here!

We are so thankful for the instructors we have here and how much time and love they pour into our kids swimming development. It will be an interesting fall with hopefully Peyton being busy with swim team and swim meets, Graham still doing the swim lesson program and me possibly doing the mommy and me swim lessons with Shiloh!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Last Day of School…Next Stop …Kindergarten

Before I knew it, the last day of school arrived! This school year seems to have flown by and thankfully we were so busy with adjusting to having a new baby I didn't have time to really think about the last day of school and how next year my little girl is off to Kindergarten…all day long….still hasn't hit me!

Last Day of School - June 26, 2014
First Day of School - September 1, 2013
Peyton has done amazing in K4 and I have been so proud of what a leader she is in her classroom and even more confident she has become. Her teacher has commented on how much she seeks to include everyone and encourage everyone in her class and I have been able to see it as well when I have been in her class for various things. She has a confidence that I certainly don't have even as an adult and it very impressive. I have loved being able to go to her classroom and help out and attend field trips and see her in her element. 

At the beginning of the year I asked the kids what they wanted to be when they grew up and her responses were dentist and doctor, now at the end of school her responses are, "dentist, engineer and veterinarian." She often asks how she is going to manage three jobs and also still have kids and she has come to the decision that she will just have me watch them because I know how to handle it :)

Peyton loved PE and Art at school and those were easily her favorite days. For someone so analytical, it seemed odd that she loved art so much but I think she loves creating things, imagining things and seeing them come to life through art. She also loves to use her hands and build random stuff using household objects like milk cartoons, and cereal boxes and more. We currently have a parrot habitat and a pirate ship around our house made of random items. She loves to think through things and figure out how they work and build them…the engineer side of her coming out!

As hard as it is to imagine having a kindergartener, I am so incredibly confident in her ability to succeed and know she is more than ready! I am however soaking up the time and treasuring these summer days with her because I know that our time together is going to be drastically reduced come fall and that is the hardest thing for me. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

New Plans for Summer….

One of the benefits of living overseas is the huge amount of vacation days that John has. We are so thankful for the extra time he has off from work that allows for long vacations and multiple vacations during the year. At the same time it is really hard at times to plan/use all those days and make sure that the department you are in has coverage and coordinating everyone's vacation requests especially in the summer when everyone is wanting to leave. So, you have lots of back and forth with vacation requests… we had this year! 

We requested to leave end of July, was told no and so we planned for a summer in Saudi. Not ideal but we were going to make it work and came to a place where we were being positive about it. Then we found out just a little bit ago that he was going to be given his vacation time and so off we go…in a month….to Washington for five weeks! Thankfully we have been on top of getting Shiloh's passport and all her paperwork done so it should be ready by the time we leave. We are however having to change our frame of mind from staying put and getting through the summer to flying home with three kids, and a busy summer in Washington! Lots of planning, preparing mentally and checking off lists! But we are so excited to be able to introduce Shiloh to my dad and sisters and have a summer in Washington! And John is with us the entire trip…flying both ways and hanging out with us for five weeks…that might be my favorite part!!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day

Unfortunately for Father's Day this year I was incredibly sick with a 103 fever that lasted for five days. Thankfully it was just a virus and not an infection but because I was recovering from the c-section and breast feeding the doctor warned me that it would take awhile to get better since my body was pretty depleted and he was right….it was rough. So, I had tons of ideas of some activities for the kids to do leading up and how we were going to spoil daddy for the day but instead John took care of all of us and especially me which if anything shows what an amazing partner and father he is.

I did however work on one gift prior to having Shiloh so that was together and ready for daddy… is a weekend away in January 2015 to run the Dubai Marathon! John has talked about running a marathon again and wanted to do one overseas. This one was close by, I could use airline miles to fly him there for free and so I planned it all out for him and now he just has to train :) He supports all of us so much in achieving goals, encouraging us and we want to do the same for him.

My boys!!

Even if I had been feeling great I couldn't have put together enough gifts or activities to show my appreciation and how much we value John. He is an amazing father and partner in parenting and I am so incredibly thankful for him! It has been a honor to watch him grow in both roles over the years and our children are very blessed!

Daddy with his two princesses

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Fun With G in Saudi

A couple of weeks before Shiloh arrived we had the wonderful surprise that G was going to come and visit. It was truly a surprise that she was going to make the trip over here and we were all very excited. G arrived one week after Shiloh was born and it was so nice to have her here to see our life here in Saudi, have an extra set of hands with the older kids and with Shiloh and the companionship of my mommy! No matter how old you get or how many times you have gone through having a new baby there is something about having your mom with you! 

It was really hard for me though to not be able to be up and going and showing her all around our life here and resting instead. John did a wonderful job stepping in for me and showing my mom around our life here. 

They visited the beach on camp and my mom went most mornings after helping getting the kids off to school to enjoy the sun!

John took my mom and the kids into the town next to our camp as well as into the more major shopping area to show her around. They also went to the craft store to pick up supplies to make Peyton a Halloween costume! Peyton wants to be Cruella De Ville and it was a great project for my mom to help pass the time here and it turned out amazing! The evenings that everyone went out was hard to not be going with them but it also allowed time for Shiloh and I to cuddle and relax and slow down without the big kids which was nice. I loved hearing about my mom's reaction to things when she came home too….from the family/singles sections and just various things that have become normal for me and to hear it from her perspective was amusing. Her comments about the fence around camp and feeling like you are caged in also brought back memories of how much I struggled with that feeling in the beginning as well and showed how far I have come! 

One of the last days she was here I decided to try and venture out with everyone and go to a local souvenir type store that has nice imported things from around the Middle East. My mom found lots of goodies and we experienced our first outing with all three kids complete with a meltdown from Graham. Fun times! We went to the mall and had dinner and since we were there on a Friday night it was wild and my mom got the true Saudi experience. It was fun! 

I am so thankful that my mom was able to come out and see our life here. I always feel like she sees a crazy/wild version of me and the kids with being out of our element and on vacation in Washington and although it was still not how we are normally it was a better representation of our family and life here. And when we first found out she was coming it was when we thought that we were not going back to Washington this summer so it was even more special to know that she was able to come and meet Shiloh. While she was here though we found out that John's vacation ended up becoming approved and  we found out that we will be able to go back to Washington for the summer. As of now we are planning on leaving July 22 through August 25 and John will be with me the entire time! We are just working on finalizing Shiloh's passport, residency visa and entry/exit visa with the Saudi government and we will be good to go. It made G leaving much easier knowing we would be seeing her in six weeks or so.

Thank you G for coming to visit and for the tremendous help you were! We are all so thankful for the time we had with you! See you soon!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Graham Preschool Graduation

Graham's teacher organized a graduation recognition ceremony for all the kids who will be attending the K3 program at the elementary school next year. It still amazes me that both Graham and Peyton have attended preschool with Ms. Swati and now they are off to the big kid elementary. I am so thankful for all the time, effort, passion and love she has poured into my kids!

I was so thankful my mom was here because I have no idea how I would have managed everything since the graduation was exactly two weeks after I had Shiloh! Shiloh attended and wore a cute dress and bow but no one saw her because I had her all covered up in her car seat with her cover on so no kids would touch her and pass germs along!

The K3 program next year is either mornings or afternoons and after much consideration and looking at the timings I decided to request afternoons. Peyton will be gone all day now (she is home for lunch) and I couldn't imagine getting everyone up and going (especially since for K3 they don't ride the bus) in the mornings and I also realized that I am a much happier and more energetic mommy in the mornings and I would rather Graham have the best side of me. My hope is that Shiloh will have a good long afternoon nap that will give me some alone time in the afternoons! We will see…either way it is going to be a new adjustment having Peyton gone all day and dropping off Graham at the big kid school!

Graham has done amazing at school this year and loves to go! He has so much confidence and really loves his school. It has been so nice to watch him run into his class and then pick him up and hear him tell me about his day with so much enthusiasm. Proud of my little graduate and onto the big kid school!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Shiloh's Newborn Session - 8 days old

When Shiloh was 8 days old I started to work on some newborn pictures of her. It was much harder to do a newborn shoot of your own baby than I anticipated! Between recovering from a c-section to Shiloh smelling mommy and having a hard time settling it took a couple of days to get all the shots I wanted! And then to edit them took forever because life is crazy busy! But I have all the images (and someday will get to editing them all) and am thankful for the memories! 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Shiloh's First Couple of Weeks

What a wonderful two weeks it has been soaking up our adorable little girl, enjoying cuddles and just being in awe of how blessed we are!

John was able to take the week off after I came home from the hospital and what a blessing it was to have him home to help with the kids and also to have that extra time as a family and able to take the time to slow down and enjoy this phase. 

First time wearing something other than PJs…time to get fancy and accessorized!
We made a trip down to the doctor a couple of days after I came home to have a checkup as well as have my clips (staples) removed. Thankfully and huge praise that I was given a wonderful report and was told I was healing great! Other than that trip to doctor we enjoyed lots of sleeping and cuddling with Shiloh and then enjoying time with the big kids and watching them love on and adjust to have a new little sister.

I was so worried that with her being baby #3 and being so busy with the older kids that I wouldn't have as much cuddle time with her but with both kids being at school every morning I made sure that Shiloh and I didn't leave the couch and just cuddled every morning. That was my special time with her and I made a point to not do anything but cuddle! 

At the end of the week, John and I realized that it was our last morning to have together before my mom came and he was back to work and so we took advantage of that time and went to have breakfast at the Hobby Farm on camp and enjoyed some time to reflect on all the changes, talk about the summer and enjoy some time together as husband and wife. We have been so thankful for the brief moments at night after the big kids are in bed that we have had to sit down, cuddle with Shiloh and just spend time together knowing that John was home the next days and things can wait around the house. Such a great week of slowing down!

Her first breakfast outing!

Shiloh has been a wonderful baby and super easy going and peaceful. She is still eating wonderfully and has gained about 0.5 pound over her birth weight so is at 7 lbs 4 oz now.  I couldn't live without my baby feeding app that tracks when she eats, how long and what side she finished on. With three kids and less sleep than normal I can barely remember my name sometimes and have no track of what time it is during the day so having that to reference is very helpful! She is sleeping even better. I have been waking her up and sticking to feeding her every three hours during the day and then letting her sleep at night between 4-5 hour stretches before often times having to wake her up. As long as we make sure she has a couple of awake periods during the day she falls asleep really easily at nighttime and we haven't had too much of the wide awake late at night periods that most babies do. 

Check out those big feet!
We also have been working on the crazy long and complicated process of getting her a passport and then necessary visas and residency permits for living here in Saudi. After submitting a declaration of birth form to the hospital, picking it up two days later (in Arabic), then taking it to a government affairs office, we were able to pick up her birth certificate (in Arabic) which we then had to send to get translated and fill out another form and now we should have that next week hopefully before we have an appointment to go to the embassy and apply for the passport and then once that comes only 2-3 more steps left until we could leave the country! Complicated!

Her Saudi birth certificate….all in Arabic!
Shiloh reminds us so much of Peyton…lots of the same facial expressions and just appearance wise as well….besides her very obvious Graham nose! She had her first check up at the doctor and is doing great! When we were at the hospital I never met a pediatrician, never got a report on her and was told by the nurses that if I didn't hear otherwise…that she was fine. Very different from the other two and thankful she was my third and I had a better understanding on what to do when I got home and things to look for. So after 10 days or so of being home, it was nice to see a pediatrician and have him check her out from head to toe and give her a good report and say she was doing great!

We have an extra bed in Shiloh's nursery so that has become my mom's room while she is here so all of Shiloh's stuff is in our room for now. She would have been sleeping in our room anyways these early weeks! In our room however there is a large mirror over our dresser where I set up her changing pad and she loves to stare at the mirror and just look in that direction. Not sure what she is seeing but she likes it!

We have also been spending time sleeping outside while we watch the big kids play on the giant slide that G brought. She has some nice naps outside! We also did her newborn pictures over several days which was tons of fun and really nice to not have the pressure of getting all the shots in one session. I worked on them over three days and then still have to do the big kids pictures with her since they weren't feeling 100% during the week and I wanted to keep them away from Shiloh in case they had something contagious. Hopefully in the next week or so we can do some sibling shots and we will have  cooperative big kids and Shiloh!

We are very much enjoying this precious time with Shiloh! Life has been pretty easy adding her into the mix so far….but we have had my mom here and haven't attempted to do anything with all three kids! I am sure once we are out numbered after G leaves and we attempt to take all three to do anything things will start to get interesting! I think I will delay those outings as long as possible :)