Monday, December 17, 2012

Camping in the Desert

I grew up camping. I remember starting off in tents. Then my family moved up to the pop-up and pull-behind-a-truck campers. The campers were fun, but there was just something about camping in a tent! When I went away to college, my dad gave me a big box filled with camping gear! I kept it in the back of my Jeep Cherokee because I never knew when I needed an impromptu camping trip. My love for camping stayed even after I got married and had my first baby. We took Alexis up to Jones Gap State park in SC when she was around 8 months old. It was cold and we did not get a lot of sleep! But it was still a memory I am glad we have! We took her again when she was 18 months and it was so fun! She loved playing in the streams and throwing leaves.
When we first moved here we were sad that we no longer had a Jones Gap to camp in, but we quickly learned that this culture is very much into camping! I imagine camping here is like what it was when my parents were little. You could just drive up to where you wanted to camp and set up your tent. More primitive style. (now wait just a minute! I am not suggesting that my parents are so old that everything was primitive in their day. Haha, rather I am just saying I cannot recall a time where I did not have to pay for my camping spot in my lifetime.) If you want to go camping on the beach, then go for it! Just find a spot! If you want to go to the mountains, then do it! It is that easy here! This is such a camping culture! We found one-time grills: little tins with charcoal, a rack, and a book of matches. It was packed together and only about $3. The only down side to camping here is that firewood is a little more expensive, and there is not much just laying around the campsite!
Anyway...two weeks ago we decided to go for our first camping trip to the desert. We invited along our Brazilian friends! We had yummy Kababs cooked over the fire, and introduced the Brazilians to the joy of S'mores! After the sun went down, it actually got COLD! Wearing jackets and staying cozy by the fire was just a blessing! We took the pack-n-play along for KG, but he ended up sleeping beside Hans. Next time I think we will just leave it at home. I slept beside Lexi, and as a result woke up with several scratch marks and bruises! Ok, it was not that bad, but geez! that girl is a crazy sleeper! And she did pull my hair several times.
Our site was in the sand. Thick sand, mind you! The Brazilian's car got stuck three times! We had to dig out sand from around the tires. Alexis loved all the sand, however! She played for hours!
top row: (L) Lexi watching us put up the tent (R) I just love that face!
bottom row: (L) waking up in the morning (R) playing in the sand

top row: Our views by day and by night
bottom row: gazing into the fire and our tents

Overall, our trip was AMAZING! We cannot wait to do it again! So glad we can continue to pass the joy of camping along to our kids!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

5 months

Eek! I cannot believe I forgot to blog about KG at 5 months! He will be 6 months in a few days. Yikes, I need to get a handle on these things. Well here are some pics. Better late than never, right?

Sleep: Thank you for your prayers! KG is finally getting a schedule for sleep. (well, most nights!) He goes down around 7:45 and sleeps until 6 or 8 am. He gets up early on the weekends! Silly goose! Naps are still a wild card. But at least we are getting a routine down for night time.

Eating: I am still letting him nurse on demand, but he seems to have a schedule down for when he eats. On the days were he does no feel the best he tends to nurse more. And this month I had a battle with mastitis, so I had him nursing A LOT to try to help relieve pain :/

Clothes: I almost cried a couple of weeks ago when I tried putting him into one of his footie pj's. They were 6-9 months and made his poor little shoulders so hunched over. He is growing quickly!

Likes: His sister! He is really into everything she does now. He always wants to be around her! He gets super giddy when she walks into a room. Lexi has taken it upon herself to be his translator. She likes to tell me when he is hungry, or when he needs a new diaper! Or if he wants to share a cookie or piece of cake with her! haha...she is just trying to get more for herself!
He also likes tags. He loves to play with the tags on his bobby, his stuffed animals, and his pink blankie! (My mom is sending a blue one in the same style...hopefully he will be ok with the switch!)

Dislikes: Riding in the car when it is dark outside!

Baby items we are thankful for: His Aden + Anais sleeping sack. He is a roller in his sleep. He never stays in the same position. And since I am paranoid about letting him sleep with blankets, his sleeping sack is super helpful! Also he knows that when it goes on that it is time for bed.
Another item we are using a lot of right now: Babylegs! These are cute little leg warmers. They are nice for diaper changes and can be put on, or pulled off, quickly.

And BIG news: KG got his Christmas wish early... his two front teeth! He now has two little teeth on the bottom! He never really got cranky or ran a fever. One morning I looked in his mouth and was like, "Whoa! He has a tooth!" And the next morning, "Whoa, he has another tooth!"

Also, a few first:
He celebrated his FISRT Thanksgiving.
Saw his FIRST rain!
Went camping!
and had his FIRST taste of food!

With food, we are taking a different approach this time around. I have been doing loads of research and read a lot on Baby Led Weaning. (BLW) Basically, we offer all the same foods we are eating to KG. At first he just plays with them and sucks the "juices" and then he should get the hang of it and actually start feeding himself. So far he has tried broccoli, carrot, red pepper, zucchini, cucumber, strawberries, and pears. He LOVES pears! He is happy and seems excited about trying new things. I know that some people have given me strange looks when I mention that this is the method we are using. And maybe you feel the same. But I tried puree' with Alexis, and it was not a good experience. And she is one of the most picky eaters I know! The World Health Organization recommends BLW. So before you judge me, I invite you to look into it :)

top row: KG in his 12 month sized PJs! Happy Thanksgiving! Silly glasses!
middle row: Camping trip! From of Christmas photo shoot! Loving that pear!
bottom row: Ready for a walk outside! Trying new food! Being 100% cute!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Big Girl Alexis

~A little late. I wanted to post this on her birthday. But we had class that morning and then a big Thanksgiving party that night. So here it is. Happy Birthday Lexi!~


You are such a blessing! Your sweet smile and energetic outlook on life are infectious! You are independent and strong-willed, but we love that about you! When you want something done, you just go and do it all by yourself! That can be a little scary at times for mommy and daddy! Like when you tried to make us coffee! We love watching you think up creative ways to solve problems! We also enjoy your excitement towards learning! You are such a smart little girl! You have the biggest imagination! You can turn anything into a musical instrument! We love watching you take care of others. You always want them to feel included! And you want every one to know that KG is your brother! We praise God for you each and every day! We pray that you are always excited about learning more about him! Hearing you recite memory verses, pray for others, and asking us to read to you from your Bible brings joy to our day! Alexis, we want you to always remember that you are an amazing gem; so radiant, rare, and precious! Love you Big Girl!

Mommy and Daddy
Thank you Brittany May for taking these!
You managed to capture a smile even though she was in a grumpy mood!
these were taken on her last day of being 2

As many of you know is a site with thousands and thousands of awesome ideas. I got the idea of a yearly birthday questionnaire from the site. So here are Alexis' answers to this year's questions: 

A few of Lexi's favorite things
color: PINK
toy: little animals
fruit: "actually, Ice cream"
t.v. show: Little Einstein's, Dora, and Mickey Mouse Club House
movie: Madagascar 3
food: candy
outfit: a pair of watermelon print pants and matching shirt
snack: princess fruit snacks
animal: "um, elephants and giraffes too"
song: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
book: any about Maisy
drink: "strawberry milk. Actually mom, I need just one right now."
shape: star
place to go: a-mer-de-ca

what do you want to be when you grow up? A tuba
what makes you happy? A tuba
what makes you sad? dragons and the naughty square (where she has to sit for time out)
what scares you? dragons and caterpillars

what was your favorite thing about your birthday? CAKE
what is your favorite things about being 3? "KG, he's my baby bruder."

Funny Lexi Quotes

"Um, I think I need..."
"I can't like that."
"Daddy, you're strong. Just like a baby crab."   
While in a public restroom with Hans, "Daddy! You did it! Good job!" She shouted this after he went to the bathroom! This was during the early stages of potty training! haha!
At the border crossing, "Daddy, if you have to go outside. Don't. It's dangerous out there!"
"Hamood is my best friend. That boy is cute, cuuuute, cute!
She calls the big mall in Dubai, "Big Bubble City"
"Mommy, your bruder is crying."
"Um, actually..."
"Never, Never, Never!" when we tell her its time for bed.
"I'm grumpy. I dont want my happy face right now."
"Let's play rock-n-roll! I'll play the trumpet!"
"Is this mine (insert any noun)"
Litte words she says funny, "Rhi-nice-erous; Krip-a-per; U-de-corns, Jellyfish noodles (spaghetti), 
A-mer-de-ca, A-puter (computer), stuck in the mutt (mud), Sunbrella (umbrella), A-ggs (eggs)

What big changes happened in year 2?
Lived in 3 different countries (makes 4 countries, and 3 continents in her lifetime)
Potty trained
Started "pre-school"...rode the school bus
and became a BIG SISTER


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Alexis is 3

Wow, I cannot believe that Alexis is 3! This year her birthday was on Thanksgiving, so we decided to have her party on the day after Turkey day so that she could feel like it was a party for her and not just a cake added to Thanksgiving. (We did that too. The pink cake looked funny beside all of the autumn colors.)
A few months ago we asked Alexis what kind of party she wanted. She very promptly said, "A candy party. Candy is my favorite!" Around this same time we got the Candyland game from my mom. Lexi loved playing her new game. So, LEXI's CANDYLAND became the theme. We had to work on this a  month or so in advance because party supplies are a little harder to come by. We did find the Arab version of the Dollar Tree, so that helped! Here are some pictures from the party!
party fun

that was supposed to say "happy birthday," not "merry christmas." oops!

cake and strawberry milk in Alexis' candyland
the birthday girl

Alexis loved every moment! She was so excited that everyone was there for her, and of course she loved all her presents. It was very special watching her enjoy her friends. She was also excited that we were serving her favorite foods! Notice all the sugar?

A huge thanks to my sweet friends, Jully and Raquel! There is no way I could have finished this without them! And Hans, thank you for all that you did to help! I know Alexis had an amazing time! She asks, almost daily, if she is going to have another party soon!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Let it rain!

A few days ago we were playing cars with Alexis when we heard THUNDER! What? Did we really hear that? Must be something else, we thought. So we kept playing, again we heard that unmistakable BOOM! Sure enough, we opened the front door to find a downpour! We were so excited that we got Alexis dressed in her play clothes and rain boots. We watched her play from the front porch. She loved splashing in the puddles. It was KG's first time seeing rain and he was not really sure if he liked it.

So for this Monday in the Middle East I want to share some pictures with you of our rainstorm in the desert. These are so rare! Yet, there are places on the nearby mountain roads that have flood warning signs up. And we have heard stories of extreme flooding in the capital?! So, I guess it is true that when it rains, it pours!

we just had to put rain boots on KG, even though they were way too big

he was unsure of the rain
playing in the rain

Our little storm was so refreshing. It was cool enough outside to drink a cup of coffee. Its moments like these that are good for the heart! :)

"Ask the Lord for rain in the springtime; it is the Lord who send the thunderstorms. He gives showers of rain to all people, and plants the field to everyone." Zechariah 10:1

"He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills." Psalm 147:8

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Happy Fall

For the longest time Spring was my favorite season, but over the past couple of years something about Fall appealed more to me. Maybe it was living in the foothills in SC? The changing of the leaves was a stunning and beautiful sight! Hans and I used to go on hikes in the state parks and just breathe in that crisp Autumn air! I miss getting dressed up in cozy sweaters and drinking apple cider and coffee!

Oct. 31 at our fall festival

This year I was determined to have that "fall" experience. Even though we are living in the desert, I wanted to have leaves, pumpkin lattes, and a fall festival. So, we did just that! Yeah, it had to be a little more creative, but it was totally worth it!

Prizes at the festival and making fall crafts

We have a walled-in courtyard that surrounds our house. This was a perfect spot to host a mini fall festival. The kids came dressed up in there sweet little costumes! We had games with prizes. There was face painting. And instead of decorating pumpkins the kids decorated oranges. Like I said we had to get creative. I think in years past expats living here carved watermelons! We even made our own paper leaves :) Oh, and Lexi's favorite: we had CANDY! She loves some candy!

Thank you B.H. for taking these pics! I was too busy running around to even pull out my camera. So a huge thank you!

Friday, November 16, 2012

CSI Birthday Party

There was a murder at the local hotel. A yard tile was the weapon. The victim? A well-loved local signing icon... who done it? Lead CSI Hans spent the night questioning the hotel guest and staff. Was it the cleaning crew seeking to earn some money for the side job? Or perhaps it was the rival and ever-famous Omar? If not them, maybe it was one of the hotel guest annoyed by the late night concerts?

some of the guests and hotel staff

the body
the crime scene with hand-made tape; yeah, we have to make most things from scratch!

yummy cake made by Traci
It wasn't me. 
 Surprise Hans! Happy Birthday! We had a CSI themed party this year for Hans. It was a lot of fun watching our friends get into character! Best part? Hans had no idea! Everyone showed up dressed differently than normal. And Hans had to change too once I announced what his party was :) He was skeptical at first, but I think he ended up having a lot of fun trying to solve the crime! Thanks to my friend, Traci for whipping up the story! She did an awesome job! And Jully and Raquel, you two were fantastic! Thank you SO much for all of your help! Could not have pulled this off with out you ladies. Jordan took these wonderful pictures (even while being sick!) Also, for everyone who made food, here's a shout out to you: Shout! It was a fun party :)
our very own CSI lead investigator

Sunday, November 11, 2012

KG is 4 months

Kristopher Graham turned 4 months on Oct. 19! I know, I know, it is almost November 19th now. It has been a busy month! Asking for grace, as I know that this post is overdue. At least I took his photos!

Sleeping: Sleep, what's sleep? Haha! KG can recharge in about 5 minutes! He is like a bear. One night he is great and sleeps (hibernates) 8 hours in the night. Then the next 2 or 3 nights he sleeps for around 5 hours, waking up every 2 1/2 hours. He is still happy so I assume he is getting enough sleep. This poor mommy on the other hand is like a walking zombie! His morning nap is in his swing. And the afternoon nap really only happens if someone is holding him. Better go to the bathroom before getting him to sleep! Because handing him off wakes him.

going back to sleep in mommy's bed after first morning meal
Eating: He LOVES to eat! But, he only cries at night for milk. During the day I just have to pick up on his hunger cues. (Like when he starts sucking widely on my shoulder!) So during the day he eats about every 4/5 hours. And at night it just varies on if it is his sleeping night or not. Thankfully he is much faster at nursing. It used to take him like 45 minutes! I am still adjusting to his peanut allergy. Hoping if I am super diligent about avoiding them, that he will grow out of it.

Clothes: He is obviously eating enough, because he is in 6-9 month clothes! He is not so much pudgy as he is just long. And I know that the cloth diapers give his booty a bit more um-ph! Still, it is crazy how big he is compared to Alexis when she was his age. He is wearing some of her socks from last summer!

Likes: Bath time is a favorite for Kristopher. He likes not wearing clothes (or a diaper!) And he loves it when his sister plays with him.  He enjoys tummy time, which as become rolling around time! He can roll both ways now. And he LOVES to chew! Oh, and he likes riding in the stroller like a big boy! He likes to people watch! KG likes me. > Not trying to sound boastful about this fact. Its just that he usually cries if anyone else holds him. He pokes his little lip out slowly, then that little lip starts to quiver, and then the tears flow! Its like his feelings are hurt that I would pass him off to someone else! I love holding him, but it would be helpful if he would warm up to others! <

being silly
Baby items we are thankful for: the swing, the Boba baby carrier, my chewbeads necklace, Alexis' pink baby blanket. She gave him her back-up blanket in the car one day hoping it would quiet his crying and he took to it! Now whenever he is really upset it is the one thing that calms him. Maybe I should dye it blue?
     And believe it or not, I am thankful for his cloth diapers. Say what?! For those of you who know me, you know how much I hate doing laundry. I don't mind putting the clothes in the wash, I just dislike folding and putting them away. Strangely I enjoy diaper laundry! Maybe because it makes me feel like I am doing it for him? Funny how motherhood can change you :) I also love that it is helping us save on the cost of disposables.

This little man loves to smile and play! We had to get this after we found him trying to escape from his carseat!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

water in the desert

     This is a Monday in the Middle East post. Sorry it has been a few weeks since I last wrote. Two weeks ago it was Hans' birthday and last week we were really busy, so this is the first time I have been able to blog. And I am trying to finish it quickly in hopes that it might still be late Monday night somewhere?! haha! But not to worry, if you were sad about not having a post to read these past couple of weeks, there will be a number of post over the next few days :)

     Great news! We are getting city water! I have been doing my happy dance since finding out this bit of information. Now I can wash dishes, fill up the bath tub for Alexis, wash clothes, and yes, even flush the toilet without the fear that I may not have enough water. Up until this point we had to call to have our water delivered by truck. The water man drives up in his water truck, connects it to a pipe outside and it pumps into a large holding tank. There is also a tank on the roof (I think this is to help with water pressure.) Because the tank sits out in the hot sun, it is normal in the summer for the temperature of the water coming out of the faucet to scalding. Washing clothes in the day is a no-no, unless you want your colors to fade, and your clothes to shrink! I usually wake up around 6AM to put in a load of clothes because I figure by then the water will have cooled off a bit from the night air. I am not sure how the city water works as far as temperature goes, but I do know that the endless supply of water will be wonderful! Our outside tank is usually enough for 10 days or so... but we have been caught during a holiday week without any water because our water man was off work.  During that week we had to use some of our drinking water to give Alexis and Kristopher bathes. True Story.

Our drinking water
refills (and sometimes bath water)
Outside water tank

A water truck getting refilled at the spring and ready to bring fresh water. One truck load is enough for one tank. So they have to refill after each house. 
     One of the things we have learned since being in the Gulf is the importance of water. I have heard some Arabs say that water is a greater natural resource than oil. And the more water a country has, the more prosperous they are considered; this is why countries like the UAE build massive water fountains  everywhere. The malls in Dubai have the most impressive fountains that I have ever seen!  Alexis loves to see them. Really, these pictures do not even do them justice.

The Dubai fountain
Alexis  calls it "The Splash"

This one is inside the Dubai mall and is 3 stories high!
But, in seeing all this water, I am reminded of how "dry" it really is, and how little water seems to be flowing... Praying for His water to flow abundantly. 

This is the view from my front door

 "For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They shall spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams." Isaiah 44:3-4

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Last night I got to relax with a nice cup of decaf coffee. (thanks to the ladies of ShilohBC) And I sparingly used some of my special creamer! Got to make that stuff last as long as I can! It was nice to curl up on the couch with a blanket and sip some yummy goodness! Ahhh, it's the simple things! 

And that is not a jumbo sized coffee cup, but rather a mini one-cup french press :)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Happy Birthday Hans!

"Happy Birthday to YOU, Happy Birthday to YOU. Happy Birthday day dear Hans/Daddy, Happy Birthday to you!"

Happy Birthday! Wow, I cannot believe how crazy this past year has been! We moved 3 times to 3 different countries! Had a baby, and have been trying to deal with toddler-hood! Ha! You have been so strong though all of it! You have truly made each moment fun in this great adventure! I love you so much! To your kids you are a hero! They adore you, and I can see why! You're pretty amazing. Hope that this birthday will be one to remember! And I am looking forward to the crazy times this next year will bring! Love you!!!!

Monday, October 15, 2012

This Little Piggy

     I was the odd kid that didn't want any ham on holidays. And the kid who would have been ok not having that side of bacon. And pork chops were never my thing, nor hotdogs. I did not, and still do not, like pork. So, I guess being in the Middle East is helpful in that I don't find myself wondering, "are these little meat bits floating around in my food, ham?" (I would like to take this quick moment and thank my family members who catered to me on holidays by making me a turkey or chicken!)

Buying and consuming pork here makes you feel like you are sneaking around on the black market! We can not find any in the town where we live. If I ever had the hankerin' for pork, I would have to either drive over the border to the neighbouring country or drive nearly 4 hours to the capital city. And then I would have to find the "special" grocery stores. Walk past all the cold products to a little walk-in closet sized room in the back of the store. Above the door way a sign reads "non-Muslims only." Already you feel really conspicuous. You feel like you need to put a bag over your head as you walk into the "forbidden" room! Why you may wonder would I, the non-pork eater, wonder into such a dark hole? For Poptarts, of course! Yes, you read that correctly. Poptarts are on the contraband list! (Might be why they are nearly $10 a box!)
     For those of you who are starting to panic at the thought of us not being able to enjoy eggs and bacon for breakfast; do not fear! We have some good substitutes (great news for me!) Turkey bacon, beef sausage and pepperoni, and chicken hotdogs can be found in most grocery stores!

     Even though I am ok not eating the pork, I seem to have trouble with talking about pigs! I find myself making pig references at least once a week! "Quit hoggin' the remote... You little Porker... This car is a gas hog...when pigs fly... this looks like a pigs' sty..." And shame on us for teaching Alexis "This little piggy went to the market!" She loves to play this with KG in public places! Whoops. These are sayings I have grown up with and normally would not think twice saying.  Guess, I need to find some word substitutes! And I probably should stop dressing KG in his Three Little Pigs diaper when we visit with nationals! You live, and keep learning!

This Little Piggy needs to stay HOME