Monday, March 31, 2008

Too Tired, Too Cute

I got the twins' lunch together, put them in their highchairs, and snapped on their trays. They were busily eating their lunch and watching cartoons, so I turned around and sat at the computer to work on a little bit of scrapbooking. About a half an hour later, I figured they were probably finished with lunch. I was so distracted by my scrapbooking, that I hadn't turned around at all during that half an hour. (People who know me well will have no trouble believing that.) So, when I did turn around, I saw this:
Isn't that the cutest thing you've ever seen. Poor little girl, she must have been exhausted. :) I didn't even bother wiping her face; I just put her straight to bed. I couldn't resist taking a picture and sharing it with you all. Now, I need to clean up the lunch mess and then it's back to scrapbooking.... :)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

More about schedules

My online scrapbooking friends had a challenge this week to scrap a day in the life. So, here's what a typical Thursday looks like for us. I did leave out the part about going to the doctor's office though. We tried to go on Thursday, we even called ahead to see if the doctor was in, but when we got there he was out on a house call. I'll post as soon as we go and I know anything.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

What Makes Me Happy

I was trying to explain this to Bradley last night, and I'm not sure that he understood. You see, the first few months that the twins and I were here in Doha, I couldn't get them on a schedule. Some days they took two naps, some days they only took a nap in the morning and then were crabby all afternoon, some days they wouldn't take a nap in the morning and then crashed in the afternoon, and some days they wouldn't take a nap at all. On top of that, I had no reason to get out (and no way to get out for a while there, except walking) other than grocery shopping. Well, all that has changed recently. It started with my Wednesday morning Bible study. Because it goes from 9-12, the babies weren't able to take a morning nap on those days, and they did just fine. Then, on Tuesdays during playdates, they got to the point where I didn't have to leave early so that they could nap. We're finally down to one nap a day now. And, since I know that that nap is going to happen in the afternoon, I can schedule things for the morning. This makes me so happy! :) When I tried to explain it to Brad last night, I started off by stating that I hadn't had a schedule. He replied with something to the effect of, "that's your prerogative." But, what I tried to explain was the freedom that comes with a schedule. Now that I know for a fact when the babies will go down for a nap, I have the freedom to do things with them when they aren't napping. Is this making sense to anyone else? I feel like there must be some sort of spiritual metaphor in all of this, but I can't come up with one. :) Just in case you're wondering, here's our new schedule for our mornings:

Monday: grocery shopping/errands
Tuesday: playgroup
Wednesday: Bible study
Thursday: grocery shopping/errands
Friday: hang out at home/church in the afternoon (rest a little before and then nap after)
Saturday: grocery shopping/errands
Sunday: Daddy's day off

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

An amazing month

We're going to the doctor tomorrow to get Nicky's ears checked again.

Now that that's out of the way, I just want to say what an amazing month this has been in the twins' development. I already told you about the beginnings of empathy I'm seeing in them. Here are some other developements:
--Nick loves to wrestle. When Daddy gets on the ground, Nick runs over and climbs all over him. Unfortunately, he also does the same thing to Catie when she least expects it. :)
--Catie has been learning words like crazy. She now says baby (bay-bee, bay-buh, or bah-bee), brother (buh-ber), uh-oh, ball (baw), yay, mama, and dada. Nick has been using mama appropriately the last couple days. I think it's his first word!
--Catie can pull her hands out of her pajama sleeves without help most of the time. (They always get stuck in those tight long sleeves.) Both of them have started helping when we take their clothes off, and they also help us pull their pants up.
--They started wearing real shoes this month. Before this, they were wearing leather soled slippers. They walk really well in their shoes now and aren't constantly trying to take them off.
--They've started using a spork to eat. They aren't great at it, but they try. :)
--The best part this month, has been the development of their sense of humor. Recently they've been doing things because they are funny. I wish I could remember an exact example, but they crack me up at least ten times a day.

My babies are toddlers!

What I've Been Up To Today

I started a new blog. :) "Another one?" you say, "but no one's even reading this one." Well, here's my reasoning. I've been dabbling in designing for digital scrapbooking. I'm terrible at it. But, I do a decent job on templates. Basically, templates are a pattern (duh!) for digital scrapbookers. They're great because they give us ideas and they make "cutting" digital papers and pictures easier. If you'd like to see some examples, head on over to my new blog, Templates by Erica. You'll also get to see what I mean about being a terrible designer. I think I'll stick with making templates and use the stuff that other people have designed. :) So, the reason I started a new blog instead of just offering my templates on here? I know that the templates are going to draw a lot of strangers to my blog, and I don't necessarily want everyone in the world reading about my personal life. :) Well, except if that would mean that my comment box was overflowing with nice comments, maybe. I'll continue to post my scrapbook pages on here, too.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Jane Austen and a Development

I thought this was fun. :) Since I know the books so well, the answer choices made me giggle. I know at least one other person will get this since Laura Y. assures me that she reads my blog.

I am Elinor Dashwood!

Take the Quiz here!

Funny how I ended up being my favorite heroine. :)

Now, on to my other favorite subject. Catie and Nick are so smart. I have to tell you, recently I was bemoaning the fact that my twins seemed to be just like any other toddlers. They really didn't pay much attention to one another, except to take each other's toys and generally annoy one another. However, this week has seen a turning point, a mile marker so to speak, in their development. A few days ago Nicky was throwing a little fit, I forget why, but he threw himself down on the ground crying. Catie toddled up to him and started patting his back! So adorable. She now pats his head all the time, just like she does to her baby dolls, and just like Mommy does, apparently. Later on, Catie was a little crabby, so I let her play with my cell phone (an excellent distraction tool) and Nick took it from her. She, of course, started crying. When Nick realized that he had made her cry, he tried to give the phone back, but she wouldn't have it. So, he went over to the toy basket and picked out another choice toy and brought it to her. Isn't that the cutest thing you've ever heard? I thought so. :)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter, Again!

I wasn't really happy with the Easter page I did, so here's my new one. :) Hope you're having a very happy Easter. Eat an extra piece of ham for me!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter a day early! I know I just posted, but I couldn't resist putting up my newest scrapbook page now that I have it finished. As you may know, the Islamic holy day is Friday, so that is the day that we also have church. For that reason, we actually celebrated Easter on Good Friday, which was a little strange. It was fairly laid-back for us, compared to our normal fancy Easter dinner with family and friends. Actually, all we did was go to church and then give the Easter baskets to the twins. They loved their baskets, though. (Thanks, Grandma Herzog!) And, then I made Tikka Masala for dinner. Easter in the Middle East. :) Fortunately, our lack of official celebration doesn't lessen in any way the wonderful fact that Christ died for our sins, and then conquered death and rose again! Hallelujah!

So, here are Catie and Nick, dressed in their Easter finery, playing with the contents of their Easter baskets:

Little Trooper

I've really been making little Nicky seem like a wimp lately on here. So, I am telling you this story so that you can see what a little trooper he is, even though it makes me feel like a bad mommy. Now, when I finish, you're going to say, "You're not a bad mommy. You didn't do it, and it could have happened to anyone." But, I didn't say that I was a bad mommy, I said I feel like a bad mommy, and I can't help the way I feel. Guilt, mothers feel it and mothers dole it out, it's a mother's way of life.

Back to Nicky. Yesterday, we were walking in from the parking garage coming back home after church, when I noticed something didn't look right with Nick's foot. I quickly pulled it out of his sandal, and realized that his first toe (the one next to the big toe on his left foot) had been caught and was bent vertical in his shoe. Now, we don't know if it happened when Daddy put his shoe on before church, or if they took his shoes off and put them back on in the nursery, but whether it was that way for 10 minutes or 2 hours, it had to hurt! But our sweet little boy only cried a little when I took his shoe off (and promptly pulled him out of the stroller to give him some cuddles) and then again when Daddy assessed his toe. It was a little red for a while, and seemed to stick up a little more than usual. That particular toe always sticks up a little, the reason it got caught in the first place, I'm sure. Today, it seems okay. He can bend it and walks normally on it. He even let me touch it without crying. I just can't get over that he didn't cry until it was fixed. That's I would have done. He's such a little trooper.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Arab Hospitality

We have learned, in our short time here, that the Arab idea of hospitality is to tell you whatever you want to hear, even if they have to outright lie. Then, they don't understand why we're so upset when what they told us turns out to not be true. For example, when we were looking at these new apartments, we were told that the babysitting services were complimentary. Then, soon after we moved in, we found out that it actually costs 20 Riyal an hour (about $5.50.) Not too bad, but it adds up. Another example, we moved in with the idea that in two weeks we would be moving to the newest tower so that we could be in an apartment with curtain wall windows. Well, at the end of two weeks, Brad went down to talk to them and now it will be at least 6 more weeks before we can move in. In the meantime, people who don't care about the Internet being up and all the other little glitches that need to be fixed, are moving in to those apartments. So, we might not be able to move afterall.

So, what I have learned, in my short time here, is to enjoy what I have. I control my expectations, so that when someone does something that they say they will, it's icing on the cake. This apartment is one hundred times better than our last place. I plan to enjoy it. If we happen to move to an apartment with better windows, that would be wonderful. If not, I like it here. :) To prove my point, here is a side-by-side comparison of the views from my last apartment and the views from this apartment.

The building under construction across the street at the old apartment. If I spoke Arabic, I could have told you what they talked about all day long.
The building under construction across the street at the new apartment. We hardly ever hear any noises from them.

The "skyline" view at our old apartment.

The part of the Doha skyline that we see out our window now. Every building in this part of town has something cool about its design. And, it's beautiful at night. The darker blue near the base of the buildings is the bay. So, we have a little bit of a bay view, too.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Twins

Nicky update: He's been on the medicine for a week tomorrow. No major miracles, but I think he's gotten a little more responsive when we call his name. He's been unusually crabby this week. We don't know if it's the medicine, or if his ears are clearing up and it's weird for him, or if it's totally unrelated. He cried when we left them with a sitter (one they've had before) on Saturday night and when I left him at the church nursery this morning (he's been going there twice a week for 6 weeks now.) That's very unusual.
Some Catie cuteness: Here are some pictures of Catie's favorite thing to do when we leave the stroller set up. We try to fold it up and put it away when we get home, but sometimes it just doesn't happen. Oh, and I was getting the twins ready for a bath; that's why she doesn't have any clothes on. :)

And, here's a new scrapbook page that I made today:

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Playing Games

Brad and I pulled out the time-honored vacation game today, Monopoly. Now, living in Qatar, we don't have just any Monopoly game, we have the Monopoly game that most certainly wasn't produced or even authorized by Parker Brothers. It cost about $2.00. Quality stuff. The money is in pounds. We spent the whole game calling the money pounds, dollars, and Riyals. Whatever, as long as we got our money. :) Also notice the properties are London landmarks, and I couldn't resist showing you the bowling Mickey under the stack of chance cards.
Brad and I are poor losers. Actually, to be more precise, we're poor winners. Brad kicked my butt the first game during the twins' nap. Then, I challenged him to a rematch tonight when the twins went to bed, and I won. I won, I won, I won! :)

Nicky, on the other hand, must not have inherited our competitive natures. He did however inherit my tendency to cry spontaneously and uncontrollably when things don't go my way. (Ask my family sometime about BeeZee.)

Here they are sitting nicely on the chair together.

Aren't they cute?
This is where things start to go sour.

And now it's all over for Nicky.

Today, Nicky started a new defense mechanism. When Catie comes up to him while he's playing with a desirable toy, he throws the toy down on the floor immediately and starts crying. He doesn't wait for her to try to take it. After he did this several times with the toy phone, he walked over to their favorite ride-on toy, the Elmo car. Pretty soon, Catie came toddling up and he got up, gave her the car, and started crying. Someone needs to teach that boy how to stand up for himself!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Poor Nicky!

I've been worried for a while now about Nicky because he hasn't started talking. There have been other things, too, like the fact that he's not at all interested in games like "Where's your nose?" and he doesn't seem to hear when we call his name or clap loudly unless he's looking directly at us. When I was about Nick and Catie's age, my mom took me to the doctor for the same reasons, and it turned out that I had large wax deposits in my ears. Well, even though Nick had some serious wax, it was nothing like the story that my mom tells about mine. It turns out he has a lot of fluid behind his eardrums, making it difficult to hear. As someone who gets frequent ear infections, I can tell you that fluid in the ears is awful. Everything from the outside is muffled and any noise I make is amplified. I can only imagine how his little brain has been processing that. So, our first step is to give him some medications for a week. Then, in two weeks we'll go back to the doctor to see if it's any better. I'm glad that I wasn't being a crazy, worrying mommy and that there is an explanation, and that the explanation is something fixable, but I'm still a little worried about what will happen if the medicine doesn't work. Please keep him in your prayers and I'll update as soon as I know anything else.
One thing that we did get out of it is the cutest little x-ray of Nick's head. (The doctor was checking his adenoids--they're fine.)

My new pashmina shawls

We bought pashmina shawls for all the women in our immediate families for Christmas last year, and ever since we sent those carefully selected, beautiful shawls away, I've been regretting not buying one for myself. Even more so lately, as it's gotten warmer, I found myself wanting something other than my jacket to cover my shoulders when I go out with a sleeveless shirt. You don't get in trouble for wearing a sleeveless shirt, but you do get a lot of looks. It's more respectful and you get more respect from the locals the more covered up you are. While I don't think it's exactly "right" to cover a woman from head to toe in black, especially when it is a symbol of their lack of freedom, I certainly don't fault them for their modesty, something that many women could use a little more of. But I digress... :) I just wanted to show you some pictures of my new pashminas. Here they are:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Casting Pearls Before Swine

I promised Brad I would blog my story, but I never said how long I would keep it up. I think 24 hours is plenty. I'd say I was sorry if you missed it, but I'm not. :)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Doha Zoo

The weather has been so nice lately, with highs in the mid-80's, so this morning we decided to go to the Zoo. When we got there, we thought we would be the only ones. The parking lot was completely empty, except for a couple small buses. Actually, there were only a few kids and a couple adults in the whole place besides the zoo workers. It's the greenest place I've seen in Doha, and the huge trees and large areas of grass alone were worth the 14 Riyal (less than $4) we paid for two adults and two kids. There is a respectable amount of animals there. I'd say it's slightly larger than the Bloomington, IL, Zoo that we visited last summer. The best part is how close you can get to the animals. Unfortunately, that also meant that there was lots of fencing that was hard to photograph through. I got a few good shots, though. I especially enjoyed the ostriches that came all the way up to the fence and interacted with us (I was glad the fence was there though), and the zebras were pretty impressive. Each time we go to the zoo the twins are more and more interested in the animals. This time we didn't even have to point out where the animals were or tell them to look. They especially liked the little monkeys who climbed on the cage right in front of us. I think their favorite part, though, was the popcorn from the snack shop. :) Overall, it was a nice little excursion and we'll probably go back again before the weather gets too much hotter.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Some new scrapbook pages

If you click on this page to make it bigger, you can see their faces through the curtains.

If you click on this page to make it bigger, you can get a good view of Catie's mouthful of teeth. She's been working on her upper canines this week.

Friday, March 7, 2008

A Fight

Brad and I had a little tiff this afternoon. It all centered around this guy:

Brad's taking his R&R this week and next. Since he used his plane ticket to go home when his grandpa passed away, we've just been hanging out here at home. Anyone who knows Bradley remotely well knows that means we're having a two week long movie fest. So, today we finished watching Notting Hill (my choice), and Brad put in The Mummy (definitely his choice.) About 20 minutes into the movie, Brad pauses it and says, "Do you recognize that guy? He's in Notting Hill. He's the cappuccino shop guy."
I say, "What are you talking about? You don't even see the cappuccino shop."

Brad says, "Yes, you do. And, that's the guy who sells Hugh Grant a cappuccino." He then opens the DVD player and puts Notting Hill back in. Lo and behold, you do see the guy at the coffee shop, and he does look a lot like the guy in The Mummy (the one that dies almost right away, with the bugs crawling inside his skin, gross!). But the idea that it's actually the same guy is a little far-fetched, right?

Brad then fast-forwards to the credits of Notting Hill, but the cappuccino shop guy isn't credited. Then, he puts The Mummy back in and fast-forwards to those credits. He types the name of the Mummy guy into IMDB and, you won't believe this, he is the guy in the coffee shop!
I admit that I was wrong, but I can't let go of the ridiculousness of it all. Don't you think it's a little crazy that Bradley recognized the guy from the two seconds that he was on the screen in Notting Hill? Don't you think he's seen both movies one too many times?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A Word and Birthday Greetings

It's official. Catie is a talker. Her first word is "baby." I'm not really surprised since she loves to play with her baby dolls more than any other toys. It's adorable to see her mothering them, rocking them, kissing them, cradling them, etc., all while saying, "baby, baby, baby." Now that she has one word, I'm hoping that she will be saying more soon. Then, maybe Nicky will learn by example. :) As cute as the grunts, screams, shrieks, and babbling are, I can't wait to be able to really communicate with them.

In addition to that announcement, I also want to say, "Happy Birthday!" to my brother, Andy. We're thanking God for another great year, and hope you have a great day! Sorry that we can't be there to celebrate with you.

While we're on the subject of birthdays, I forgot to acknowledge some other birthdays on here recently, and I want to say something now. Better late than never, right? All of the women in my husband's immediate family have birthdays within like a week and a half of each other at the end of February and beginning of March. So, hope you all had great birthdays, too, Ruth, Brittany, and Laura!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Our New Apartment

First, I had to sneak in these adorable pictures of the twins snuggled up in Mommy and Daddy's bed after their bath. I know that's why you all come here anyway. You couldn't care less about what I have to say. :)

Okay, on to pictures of our new apartment. Remember, this is an apartment/hotel complex, so they made all the apartments "smart" rooms, meaning that they can be broken up and rented individually. Our kitchen/great room could have a bed instead and be an executive studio because it has a 3/4 bath, and the other two bedrooms could be rooms on their own; they each have their own bathroom also. Here's a picture of the hallway to give you an idea of what I'm talking about. Welcome to my kitchen. :)
I can't resist this oportunity to point out the wonderful planning capabilities here in Arabia. Take a look at where the oven is in relation to the dishwasher. Luckily the oven is light and easy to move because you have to move it in order to open the dishwasher all the way. The washer/dryer is also in the kitchen, hidden in the first cabinet.
Here's a picture standing in front of the window. All of the rooms have plasma tv's. We're saving our empty moving boxes because we may move to a different apartment in the complex in a couple weeks so that we can have larger windows.
Here is the Master Bedroom. Including the bathroom, it is almost as large as the kitchen/great room. It's so nice to have elbow room!I don't have a picture of the twins room because they're taking a nap. I'll post more soon!