Wednesday, November 28, 2012

...of roughing it

I remember when we first started to tell people that we were going to be moving to the Middle East. The response we got was almost always a question involving a tent or camels or both. No, we are not living in a tent. Yes, there are wild camels along the road. No, we haven't ridden one... yet.

We are not living in a third world country. There's a Baskin Robbins and a Dunkin' Donuts on every corner and we've already had our fair share of McDonald's. We live in a large house with our close friends and there are many things about our living situation that are actually better than when we were in Austin, but I'll get to those in a minute.

There are, to be sure, some aspects of life over here (some are the standard and some are unique to us) that have made me realize that there are certain things I took for granted in the States. Things that we don't really think about not having, but I am here to tell you that I should have been more grateful when I did have them. Here is a non-comprehensive list of those things:

A dishwasher:
You can get them over here, but they use so much water and are not budget friendly. It is impossible with children to do the dishes after every meal. So we usually do them after the kids go to bed. And there are usually a LOT. They are the main reason we have already had our fair share of McDonald's.

A dryer:
I know many, many people in the world don't have one. Lots of people don't even have a washing machine, so I am grateful for mine. But it brings me to number three...

Washing machine hook ups:
Having to run my output hose into the center of my bathroom every time I do a load of laundry made me more thankful for those hook ups I had in the States that I never even thought about.

A toilet seat:
This is unique to us. The other toilets in the house have seats. For whatever reason, ours does not. And it may have something to do with the fact that it is a perfectly round toilet. Maybe it broke and the last people found it difficult to find a replacement. Honestly, we haven't even looked too hard for one. Quinn has to do the looking and since he's only sitting on the toilet less than half of the time I am and his bum is bigger, he doesn't feel the urgency to find one. I feel that urgency every time I go into the bathroom half asleep at night and almost fall in.

Abram's "room" behind the curtai
Selah's  room in what, I think, was supposed to be the closet
Our “house” is two large rooms that have a completely open ceiling (the dividing wall doesn't go all the way to the ceiling) and an adjoining living room. While the bedroom is plenty big enough for all of us, we have tried to reduce visibility, light, and sound for Abram, Selah, and Quin and I. Sound is the biggest problem right now and they wake each other up from naps and in the morning all the time. Hopefully the next house won't have this problem.

Now, to even things out, let me extol the benefits of out new home in comparison to our old one:

Constant company:
At Steve's American Football game
We have our own spaces within our large house, so we don't have to see them if we didn't want to. But right now, we want to! It's so good to have such close friends a few foot steps away. Abram loves playing with Siena and Augie and is learning new things from them every day. I love getting to do life with Katie and try and help her out during the day and take advantage of the help that she is to me.

Our bed: (See partial pictures in "bedroom" above)
We inadvertently spent twice as much on our bed as we intended (thanks, Ikea, for having two beds in two vastly different price points and naming them the exact same thing. I love you, but this was a serious fail). But we went with a king and got a really nice, memory foam like mattress pad and it's not creaky and about to collapse like our last bed and I love it. I am about to go there now and I can't get there fast enough.

Kitchen counter space:
Even in our relatively small kitchen, we have more counter space than we did in Austin. That was always my biggest complaint about our house. But I have enough room here to make mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes souffle for Thanksgiving at the same time!

Older, cuter, even better behaved children:
Abram is now two and he talks ALL THE TIME. It's really incredible how huge his vocabulary is. He's a little parrot and chooses to repeat the most random phrases from our conversations with each other. Our favorite Abram-isms right now are: “yest niiiiiiiiiight” (See video), “Aw wiyke it” (which he says like an Australian), and “Dere we gooooo!”

(My kids and their awesomely yucky noses...)
At seven months, Selah is just about the best baby that we could ever have hoped to be blessed with. She rarely cries, you can get her to smile no matter how tired or sick she is, and sometimes she is so quiet and agreeable that you might forget she was even around (but we don't, don't worry). A few days this week she only had a few 45 minute afternoon naps, but she made up for it today by taking two three hour naps... WHAT?! I mean, it's great that I can get stuff done, but I'm kind of glad that's not the norm or I would be sad that I didn't get to see her very much every day. She's just super cool and very different from that two month old who gave us a month of being wide awake and refusing to go to sleep (although she didn't cry then either.)

Overall, we are liking our new digs and our new surroundings. Quinn is making friends and we are both hoping to start to learn Arabic with a one on one tutor in the next few weeks! I'd like to try and blog more, so my goal is going to try and do just a short post with some pictures more often, rather not posting and then feeling like I have a ton of things to write about and pictures to show and having to set aside and entire night for the endeavor. So I hope to be seeing you here again soon!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

... of 7 months

She's back!  I can't believe it's already time for her 7 month post.  Time flies when you are moving to a new country and trying to get settled in when you have little to nothing but clothes.  Selah has been doing really well with the transition, overall.  We had about a week of jetlag and day/night confusion, but that was expected and she reverted back into her wonderful night sleeping fairly quickly.  She is sick now, though, and is coughing quite a lot (Abram and I are, too).  Abram had a fever and cough for a week and when we finally took him into a doctor here, a chest x-ray confirmed Pneumonia.  He started antibiotics and his fever is gone, but his cough is not.  But he's acting more normal. The day we took him to the doctor, Selah started to get a cough.  She's has a low grade fever for a few days and the cough has gotten worse, but we started her on antibiotics that the doctor prescribed for her in case she started to get the same thing as Abram.  She's on day #3 of them and the cough and runny nose are horrible, but the fever seems to be gone.  We are really hoping and praying against all the illness that has hit us these first few weeks over here.  It's pretty crippling and annoying.  Katie and I are sick with a version of it right now and my cough is really hurting my chest and head.  

All around yuck.  But for the most part, Selah has been pretty happy, all things considered.  So here are the stats for her 7th month:

Date: November 21, 2012

Weight: No idea. She doesn't seem to have gotten heavier in my arms and she is lengthening out a bit and seems a little lankier.  

Clothing size: Still in 6 months.

Feedings per day: 5.  She's been consistent with that for awhile.  Her middle three feedings I offer her solids. 

She only eats maybe half of a little food jar worth.  I'm making her baby food (because over here they only have fruit baby food...) and she's eating carrots, sweet potatoes, pears, and bananas.  She's had peas, but I haven't been able to get any here yet.  So that's next.

Naps: 3 a day (usually).  1.5-2 hours in the morning, 1.5-2 hours in the afternoon, and 30-45 minutes in the early evening.  Sometimes they are shorter, but it doesn't mess with her bedtime much, which is a blessing.
 (This is not normal. A fluke day where she fell back asleep in the morning and Quinn was still asleep.  Too cute not to capture.)

New skills: Sitting up on her own.  
Rolling back and forth in order to reach something.  Grabbing anything and everything she can get her hands on. Lunging herself forward; maybe about to crawl...?

Favorite thing: Sophie.  Abram.  Being tossed in the air.

Least favorite thing: Having her face (nose) wiped with anything other than my fingers (gross).  Sad, because there is a lot of nose wiping and consequent crying happening over here lately.

Potential Personality traits:  She's been babbling a lot.  Maybe she will be a talker?  We thought she was going to be a quiet little one based on how little she cried, but she does like to make noises, so we'll see.

Brother/Sisterness: Abram loves to give her (germy, slobbery) things of his and we are working on that, because she gladly accepts them by putting them straight into her mouth.  If she's laying next to him, she has to grab him, which he seems to like, even though he kind of pretends that he doesn't.

Overall, she is a very amazing little girl.  We feel blessed by her every day.  Her amiable disposition is a gift and we are so thankful for her.

Love you, Selah Christine!

(Hate that I had to take this pic with our point and shoot...)

Friday, November 16, 2012

...of two years old!

That's right. My first born will be two years old tomorrow! I can't believe it. Am I really that old? Some days I feel too young to even have kids and some days I feel so old I think I should have grandchildren already. But I think that's the stress talking.

I know it's been awhile since my last post. I had grand ideas about blogging most days just to keep family up to date on what was happening, but so far that is so far out of the realm of possibility that I'm laughing a little right now. I can't even take a shower but every three days at this point. I've been busy in the past, but this is a new kind of busy. I think it's a extenuating circumstance busy and I am expecting that it will eventually calm down and become more of a daily life busy.

The move here has been epic to say the least. Don't worry, I will be updating on the house and all the happenings here soon. But this post is not for that! This post is for Abram! Abram has been one of the reasons for all of the busyness. Abram has been sick for a straight week and a half.
At first it was a stomach bug and then immediately into an.... I don't know what. Virus? Bronchitis? Pneumonia? Who knows. We are waiting it out and hoping that he will show some improvement soon, but it hasn't definitively happened yet. He just finished day number five of a constant 103 degree fever that we've been moderating with acetaminophen and ibuprofen and a wicked cough that is just getting worse. It's gotten to where he starts hacking whenever he tries to talk too much. And then he keeps talking while he's coughing and it looks like he's going to break all of the blood vessels in his little face. Poor guy.

So we had a party for him tonight with Steve and Katie and their kids. We were actually supposed to have a big party with a bunch of people from the church where Steve works and we will be attending, but all of the kids have been sick and two of them are still sick and we didn't want to get anyone else's kids sick. So it was postponed. But we still did burgers on a funny little charcoal grill.

We got Abram some balloons, which everyone seemed to love and definitely lifted his spirits.

And Selah watched with interest and chewed on Sophie.

We had cupcakes and milkshakes and hamburgers (not in that order).
And we sang "happy birthday" to Abram. He sings "happy birthday dear people" a lot, so he was a little confused that we were saying his name.  But he seemed to understand that the focus was on him, whether he really grasped the reason why.

We had this whole big plan to reveal his birthday present to him in a big reveal (for greatest effect), but he ended up seeing it early and then wouldn't do anything else until he was allowed to play with it. 
Some ex pats were having a garage sale and Katie went and looked at some stuff and we got a porch swing and patio table and chairs for the courtyard and we bought Abram a Thomas railroad set for his birthday. It was only 20 dhs ($5.50ish)! We actually got two sets, but Quinn put the other one together before we showed it to Abram and he said that it was too complicated. Abes just wants to play with the actual trains. The extra stuff doesn't really matter. So we'll hide that one and get it out later or give it to someone as a gift.

It was a fun evening of trying to get him to eat something and not touch any of our friends' kids or their stuff and not cough into the middle of the room. Poor baby. We are praying fervently for quick recovery and protection for everyone else. Steve seemed to have a less serious version of it last week and now their baby has a fever and yucky nose too. Honestly it will be a miracle if I don't get it, because he's coughed in my face innumerable times. But miracles do happen!

Just a few stats on our two year old:

-He loves vehicles.  Obviously.
-He has lost some weight after a few bouts of illness over the last month.  He used to weight 24 lbs.  Now I would say that he's closer to 22.  He's incredibly skinny.  A little worrisome, but will hopefully start eating better again soon.
-He talks all the time.  The newest cool language thing is that he's working on intonation.  He'll try and copy the way we say something.  Recently he's been saying "There we go!" very sing songy to everything and I think I must say it that way to him a lot. We are working on correct pronouns.  He says "Abey hold you" and "Abey help you" when he wants to be held or help.  
-He loves Selah.  It's really sad that I'm having to tell him not to touch her or get to close to her right now, because he really just wants to play with her hands and pinch her cheeks and stuff.  He was (pretty gently) trying to pinch her cheeks the other days and saying "Chunka monk! Chunka monk!"  
-His health was so good for about the last year and then all of a sudden we've just been hit by this stuff.  I hear that people in the States are sick a bunch, too, and people are definitely worse right now over here, so I think it's just that time of year.  Hopefully it will pass soon.
-He's wearing 18mo tops and 12 mo pants.  Some 18mo bottoms fit him if they have that elastic band in them.  Like I said, skinny.

Well, I'm tired and ready for bed.  So that will be all for now. I hope to be back sooner rather than later, but we shall see...

Happy birthday Abram Quinn!  You are such a blessing and we love you so very much!