Friday, December 26, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Gingerbread Confusion

So, my brother, a faithful reader of this blog, came over this weekend, and at one point he asked where the gingerbread house was. I informed him that it was right next to his elbow. "Oh, that's tiny," he said. And I reminded him that it only cost $2.99. So, for full disclosure, since I realize that my photography might have exaggerated the proportions of my 2nd house, here are the photos again, with some clarification.
Note the size relative to the snowman bowl in the background. Also, the first gingerbread house is on a glass platter.
Now, note the size relative to the snowman bowl in the background (different bowl, but same size.) This gingerbread house is on a plastic appetizer/desert plate.

He's here! and we're sick again...

Brad is supposed to be the one with jet lag, so why am I the one who was wide awake at 4:30 am? The good news is I'm caught up on the blogs that I haven't read in a couple days and there's an apple-raisin french toast casserole in the oven.

This week the twins and I were finally over the cold that we picked up in Doha before we left. Brad came home with a stuffy nose and clogged ears. Yesterday, Nicky started it up again, and last night he woke himself up coughing at 10 and was nearly inconsolable. We ended up doing a middle of the night bed switch so that the twins could sleep in the basement, where, ironically, it's at least 10 degrees warmer than the rest of the house. After the initial upset, he seemed to sleep better the rest of the night. I'm tempted to take him to the doctor, but I know what he will say. It's better not to give toddlers cold medicine, it doesn't seem to be an infection, and we just need to wait it out and keep him comfortable. So, anyone have any ideas for keeping him comfortable, especially at night?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Productivity, Santa Claus, and other random things

First, I must begin with the sad tale of my gingerbread house. As I mentioned, I wasn't particularly happy with it to begin with. The candy was too modern and it didn't allow for much creativity. So, on Sunday when half of the roof fell off and the other half fell off when I touched it, I was disappointed, but not really. We tried the gingerbread. It was nasty. And we sent it into the trashcan. So, on Monday, when I spotted this adorable little gingerbread kit for $2.99 at Michaels, I decided to give it one more try. I don't think we'll be eating this one; it's basically a big sugar cube. But, I love the little wreath and the tree. While I was at Michaels, I spotted this project. Since stores seem to be determined to sell all their Christmas stuff before Christmas, it was 50% off, which made it $3.99. Of course, I had to spend $4 on paint, $2 on a set of brushes, and $2 for a gold pen. :) It was supposed to keep me busy this week (ie help me in my pursuit to put off writing Christmas cards as long as possible), however, I had so much fun painting it, that I think I finished it in about 3 hours.
Something else it felt like I was putting off was going to see Santa. Really, though, I have good excuses. The second time we went to see him, he was going on break and we would have had to wait at least an hour in line. The third time we went the line was so long it was completely out of the queue and down the hall. So, on Monday morning, when it was so cold and icy that no one in their right mind would go to the mall, we visited Santa with only one kid in line in front of us. This is the result:

The photographer asked if we wanted to come back. I said, "This is our second time coming back. I'm going to buy this terrible photo and in 20 years we're going to laugh like crazy." I think he thought I was crazy now.
In other news, I couldn't put off my Christmas cards any longer, and they're almost ready to send. I just have to pick up the twins pictures from Penney's today. I'm not including a letter this year, because I feel like this blog is a year-long Christmas letter. Instead I'll post a year in review sometime soon on here. :)
Brad will be here Sunday afternoon. I'll try to keep up with the blog in the next few weeks, but no promises. :)

Friday, December 12, 2008

So True!

This song is hilarious. I have a confession to make, though. When I give a gift to my kids, I undo all the packaging, then put the toy back in the box and wrap it up. When they unwrap it, all I have to do it is help them open the box. I've avoided a lot of meltdowns that way. If it weren't for the fact that we might want to return the gift, I wish everyone would do it that way. Better yet, couldn't the toy manufacturers come up with something easier?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

God's timing is perfect*

*This is exactly the same as the email that I sent out, but I wanted to post it on here too, just in case.

Wouldn't it be nice if God's timing wasn't so just in the nick of time? I'd love it if he could be early once in a while. This fall, soon after we came back to Doha after our trip to the States, we found out that Brad wasn't going to be able to stay in Doha until the spring like we had planned. It wasn't our choice, and it was difficult to leave, especially for me since it meant that I had to leave the MOPS year unfinished. We had no idea where we were going to go next, and we were watching news reports out of the US about the terrible economy and all the people who were losing jobs. We wondered at the timing of it, coming back into the US now when life outside the US was looking so much more stable. Brad applied for many jobs, but news was slow, and much of it was not good. He was too qualified; he was not qualified enough. Through it all, we hoped and dreamed of the long-term oil job in Anchorage, Alaska. When Brad and I were dating, Brad lived in Anchorage and loved it. I went to visit him one summer and loved it too. We've always talked about moving there someday. The days and weeks dragged on and we never heard a word from the Anchorage job. So, when it was getting down to the wire, we were offered a TDY position in Abu Dhabi. I should say, Brad was offered the position. It wouldn't be family status, which would mean that I would have to stay with my parents during this time, and maybe they would let him bring his family over after the 3 months were over if they wanted him to stay. Brad verbally accepted, and we were relieved to have a job. The next day, he got a call from Anchorage asking for an interview. We thought maybe Brad would still go to Abu Dhabi for three months and then we would move to Alaska. With a heavy heart, I flew to Chicago with my parents and the twins, knowing that Brad and I would be separated this Christmas. Two days ago, Brad received his assignment letter/contract from Abu Dhabi, but he didn't sign it. Yesterday, he had his interview, and they want him mid-January. Sooo.... Brad is coming home on December 21st, we'll spend a couple weeks with family, and then we'll move to Anchorage. In the middle of the winter. :) This whole experience has been a test of my faith. Is the growth that I experienced in Doha real and lasting? I pray that the Lord has found us faithful. I know that He has been faithful to us.

A Christmas Tour of My (Parents') Home

One of the advantages of being at my parents' house is that I get to decorate their beautiful new home for Christmas. More importantly, I won't be here to put it all away! :) One of the blogs that I like to read regularly is having a little show off your garland thingy, so since my inspiration for the garland on my parents' mantle came from that site, I decided to participate.


So, without further ado, here's my garland: It was so much fun to make. I don't know if I can wait until next year to pull out my own Christmas stuff now. :) One tip: you know those power suction cups, the ones that you "lock" by pulling down the hook? Well, three of those are holding up that garland. That's it. They fell a couple times while I was messing with the garland, but they haven't fallen down since, and it's been about a week.

I love Christmas villages. This one is my mom's, but I have one in storage with like 40 houses. Did I mention I don't think I'll be able to wait until next Christmas to get out my Christmas stuff?
My brother gave this vase to my mom for Christmas several years ago. She usually has marbles in the bottom and tall seasonal flowers in it, but for Christmas we filled it with red and gold balls. I wish it could be sitting next to the fancy fireplace downstairs, but the kids are around that one too much. I think I might have to find a place for this vase in my suitcase. :)
Here's the tree that I decorated. Oh, and I put the garland on the railings too.

One of the first things that I said when we were looking through the ads the first morning I got here was that I wanted to make a gingerbread house. My mom and dad started laughing because they kept thinking about buying one for me but decided that I would want to pick out my own. After much deliberating, I settled on this one from World Market. I like the way the sides are imprinted with bricks. It was still a compromise, though, because I really wanted one with old fashioned candy. That gingerbread house kit doesn't seem to exist, however, and I was unwilling to spend more than $9.99 on a temporary decoration.
So, that's my (parents') house this Christmas. :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Jolly Old Elf

First, I must tell you that I'm sitting here on a comfy couch, surfing my parents' high speed wireless internet, and watching back to back Law and Order on TNT. Ah... God bless America.

We heard that there's a new play area at the mall, so I bundled up the twins and we headed out for some toddler bliss. Of course, mommy can't just go to a mall to play, and I figured there was a 50/50 chance that one or both of them would be upset when it was time to leave the playground, so we walked around for a little while and bought a few presents. (By the way, I found a used stroller on Craig's list for $20. It's great.)

When we walked by Santa, I asked the kids if they wanted to visit him. Catie practically jumped out of the stroller, so after checking to make sure that we could see Santa without getting our pictures taken, we stood in line for a few minutes to see the jolly old elf. He was a very nice man, very understanding that the kids might be scared, and he talked the whole time in a gentle, soothing voice. Nick sat on his lap right away. Catie wasn't so sure, and I ended up sitting next to Santa with Catie on my lap.

We'll keep talking about Santa at home now that we've seen him. Hopefully next time we'll be able to get a picture.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Home

Sorry for the silence the last week or so. I've been busy. :) We had a great time with my parents visiting in Doha. I think we went to almost all the malls, my dad and Brad even went to one that I never got around to. Now, after 30 hours in transit, the twins and I are in the States at my parents' house. The trip itself was uneventful, just tiring. One really stinky thing was that they made us check the double stroller all the way through instead of gate checking it, and then when we got it back in the States it was broken. They say they don't insure strollers because it wasn't protected. Arg! So frustrating. We left it at the airport for them to deal with. On the bright side, I've been wanting a new stroller, but didn't have a good excuse for buying one.

We have news as far as Brad's job. He will be in a TDY position for the next three months in Abu Dhabi, UAE, on a project called Masdar. It's a completely green city, with little or no carbon emissions. It should be really interesting. Tomorrow, he has an interview with a long term project in Anchorage. If that works out, we would be moving up there this spring. If that doesn't work out, there is a good possibility that Brad could stay on in Abu Dhabi, in which case, the twins and I would move out there with him. That's what we know so far. Please continue to keep us in your prayers. We know that God took us out of Doha for a reason, and we're trusting that He has a plan for our future. Sometimes it's just so difficult to wait, but we're resting on our memories of His faithfulness to us in the past.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Things that make a mommy happy

My little girl is growing up! Tonight she went poo poo on the potty for the first time. And that's all I have to say about that.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Another story, another day

Sometime this spring, Linda, our women's ministry leader, sent out an email telling us that there were three positions open on the board, Worship leader, Mothers of Preschoolers Coordinator, and something else. Immediately, I thought, oh, worship leader, that sounds like fun. I'd get to pick out the songs and sing at the Wednesday morning Bible studies, and people would see me singing and I would get compliments every week and have tons of people who would claim me as "friend." You see where this is going, right?

Last spring when I got this email I was in the beginning weeks of a Bible study that has changed my life called Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer. Almost as soon as I had those thoughts of grandeur about being the worship leader, I perceived a little niggling voice saying, "That's nice, but that would be all about you. I want you to do something for Me. I want you to do this MOPS thing."

So, I did what I always do. I sat on it. Brad and I went out to dinner, and I couldn't stop thinking about it. I remember being so nervous that I hadn't responded and that God was going to give someone else the call, and I missed it. (Having gone through the experience of finding a MOPS coordinator, I realize how ridiculous the idea of having more than one person chomping at the bit to take on this responsibility is, but, nevertheless, that's how I felt.) As soon as possible, I got on the computer and emailed Linda back.

The roller coaster ride since then has been exhilarating. God has brought an organization to this that never would have come out of my brain alone. He's given me flashes of incredible insight, wonderful ideas, and fabulous ladies to work with. The irony is, I've been receiving praise and positive feedback like crazy, but it's like water off a duck's back. None of it compares to the knowledge that I'm doing exactly what God called me to do and that He has equipped me for His purposes. That is the kind of love and acceptance that I crave.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My last Bible study

Today was my last Bible study in Doha. We always have a special luncheon on the last day of the semester, and today was no exception. It was wonderful how God worked everything together. I knew it was my last day, so I volunteered to sing a special, to everyone's amazement because no one knew that I sing. That was kind of by design, but that's a different story for a different day. Anyway, Connie, the Bible Study Coordinator, got up to speak a few words about walking by faith. Her final thoughts were that we can trust God because He knows us. I then sang "If You Want Me To" and "He Knows My Name." The songs couldn't have been better suited to what Connie had to say. Then, sometime between yesterday morning and today she changed her mind and played a different DVD. She was planning on showing one about Heaven and Hell by Anne Graham Lotz, but instead she showed a DVD by Jennifer Rothschild about walking by faith instead of sight. (You should really take a minute to click over to her site; her testimony is incredible.) It was beautiful the way it all worked together.

Afterward we played some games which lightened the mood considerably. I'm a little embarrassed that the picture that is going to stick in the minds of the ladies here is me sliding violently across the floor in my high heels, falling to my knees, trying to be the first one to get a feminine hygiene product in Shelly's hand. It was so bad the woman who actually won gave the prize to me.

Now, I'm exhausted from holding in tears all morning. I think I need a good cry, but I have a feeling it won't come until after Christmas.




I'm going to leave you with some pictures from today.

Our lovely table decorations:



My adorable friend, Lanny, and her scrumptious baby boy:The ladies:




Ooh, I love this baby. Did I mention he's scrumptious?


My friend and mentor, Dianne, who is also leaving this week. :(


Monday, November 17, 2008

How could I forget

Last week when I said I was done, I was mistaken. How could I forget the most important picture? I just got it in the mail a couple days ago, and today I scanned it and made this page:

On our first day, when we were waiting for our reservation time at Cinderella's Castle, and the babies were getting crabby, we decided to go visit Mickey because it meant we could stand in the air conditioning for a half an hour. You can see how hot and tired we are in the picture, but that was all forgotten when we saw Mickey. Nick fell in love.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A day of accomplishments

We decided to do something fun today, so we went to the zoo with our friend Tom. I've already taken pictures of the animals there, and to be honest I was feeling especially sad for them today, so I didn't take my camera out until we went to the playground.

I was struck again by how fast the twins are growing. This is the first time we've been to an outdoor playground since we left the States two months ago, and it's amazing the progress that they've made.

They can go up the steps and slide down the slide on their own:

They can run around on the sand:

They can sit on the big swings by themselves:



But sometimes it's still really fun to be little:

Speaking of amazing achievements, tonight I was helping Catie write her name on the Magna Doodle and I was saying the letters out loud while I guided her hand. I said, "C." Then she said, "A, T, I, E." Isn't she smart?! :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

All Done!

To read that title correctly, you need to imagine Catie's sing song "Allllll Do-onnnnnne."

Our last full day of our vacation was at Disney's private island, Castaway Cay (pronounced like "key.") It was so nice. We were wishing that we had two days there just to hang out. Not only was it gorgeous, but it was full of all those little thoughtful Disney things, like boardwalks and free sodas and hammocks and pretty much anything else we could have wanted. It was a great way to end the vacation.














I couldn't resist taking some pictures of the kids lined up in their strollers on our last morning. They were all so happy, except Ryder, which ended up so funny looking in the pictures. These are the times you remember forever. After this vacation, the twins were so in love with their cousins. They still talk about Ryder (Ry-Ry) all the time.

These are some pictures I took on the bus ride back to the airport.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Desert, not Dessert

I have to admit, before we left for our desert safari on Saturday morning, I was wondering why I was willingly putting myself in the hands of someone who was going to drive as wildly as possible over sand dunes in an easily tipped SUV. And, I was paying him to do it.
We met at the Sheraton hotel downtown, not too far from our apartment. We went with some families from Grace Fellowship and the conference speakers who are here this week, Tom and Kim Blackaby.
I was really feeling silly for doing this when my bottom was hurting after our 30 minute drive through the city to the start of the dunes.




Duning is a major past time around here, so of course, there are some tourist traps (ie camel rides) at the start. We didn't ride, but some people in our group did, so we spent a little time looking at the ugly things.





This was my view for the next hour or so.


We did this. A lot.


And we saw this (the Persian gulf)


Our vehicles and drivers (they're sitting in the sand in front of the second to left car.)


My only comment on this photo is that the wind was making some unflattering shapes with my loose shirt and pants. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.
The land across the way is Saudi Arabia.




This is where we ended up. We ate a traditional Arabic lunch and hung out on the beach for a little while. All in all, except for the scary driving (which actually was pretty tame, I only screamed 5 or 6 times), it was a very relaxing day.

After the ride, this is where Brad ended up. Even sitting in the front seat, he was feeling it.

She's a rock star


I would like to title this photo "The Little Girl Who Has No Idea What's So Funny But She Loves Being the Center of Mommy and Daddy's Attention so She's Laughing Too."

Thursday, November 6, 2008

43 down, 10 to go

Our first stop on our Disney cruise was Nasau. We went out after breakfast for a little shopping in town. We really didn't spend much time, but it was fun. Actually, although it was different than shopping in the US, it was way more relaxed than shopping in the souqs, especially the souqs that we visited in Egypt. I bought an embroidered table cloth and napkins and Brad bought a t-shirt.
After lunch, we went with Britt and her kids and Charles on a shore excursion to the Ardastra Zoo and Gardens. I explained a little on these pages, but really, it wasn't much of a zoo. After that, we rode around town a little on a guided tour. I thought that part was really interesting, but the kids were pretty tired.





Ruth and Rusty went on a different shore excursion for a dolphin encounter. I was jealous when I found out how much time they were able to spend with the dolphins. They have a DVD of their time there and it looks like so much fun.



That night, we had our Pirates IN the Caribbean party. Catie and Brindy were dressed like Tinker Bell and Nick and Ryder were our little pirates. Fun!