Sunday, December 1, 2013

...of a special birthday!

It's that time of year again!  Abram's birthday, Thanksgiving, and...

Nana's birthday!!!

Here is a special message from your favorite (at least for now) grandson, Nana:

We really do hope that you have a greeeeeeaaaaat day.  Gotta go.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

...of three years old

We celebrated Abram's third birthday today. It is November 17th here, but technically he won't have been on the outside world for three years until 1 am on November 18th because of birth time and time zones. So I can still say he's on the verge of three.

Today was an epic adventure of a day for our three year old and his sister. We started out at Build-a-Bear. His grandma and grandpa (GiGi and Boppa) have just arrived for a visit and they have been talking about doing Build-a-Bear with Abram since he skyped with his cousin who had done one a few months ago. Abram eventually chose a lamb and dressed him in a Superman costume and Selah chose a bear and we put a sparkly pink tutu and sequin bow on her for our girl with a new found love for dancing attire. 
They both love their animals (who Abram named Leon and Mya) and I have glitter all over me from Mya's tutu. So overall, a success.

Then we had lunch at Ikea and bought a few necessary items for our guest room. Abram loves Ikea hot dogs and ice cream, although I have to be very honest and say they are sub-par (and I am a big Ikea fan). But today was about the AbraMan, so we went with it.

Next, we headed to the doctor for a Simon check up. Nothing like making a kid share his birthday with an unborn sibling! We had Simon's 20 week ultra sound and everything looked great. And just look at that little nose!
Abram and Selah watched most of the sonogram and then Abram had some outside hang out time with GiGi and Boppa while I had my doctor's appointment and Quinn drove Selah around for a 30 minute nap (for Daddy and baby). Fun on all fronts.

Finally, we went over to the Dubai Mall/Burj Khalifa for some touristy stuff and a birthday dinner. We checked out the ice rink and the aquarium and the Gold souk area. 
I thought Abram would like the Rainforest Cate for dinner. You can see the aquarium from inside and he watched a little bit of "Jungle Book" the other day and he seemed to like it. I asked the hostess if any little kids were ever scared of it and the big show they do every 15 minutes and she said no. Well, we walked in and were seated right under some growling statue that was absurdly loud and a laughing monkey that was extremely shrill and Abram's eyes got super wide, his fingers went in his ears, and Quinn decided we were leaving. Mommy fail, Daddy win. Poor kid. Not a good choice for three years and under. After some walking and searching and promising of cake, we ended up at TGIFridays. Not because we love Fridays, but because Quinn discovered that they had a balcony overlooking the fountain and the Burj Khalifa on the third floor. 

Another Daddy win. It was a beautiful day and night here (despite a small wind/sand storm in the afternoon) and it was awesome. Abram got to see three fountain shows and Selah got to give our server lots of high fives. Then we got a piece of (very sugary) berry cake and a bunch of the employees came out with a tambourine to sing a very loud birthday song to Abram. Sweet boy was a bit embarrassed with all the attention of everyone on the patio, but I think he liked it. And, of course, he liked the cake :)

We left a little later than I had planned, but God teaches me so much about giving up my idol of control in situations like these, and tonight was no different. Abe crashed in the car within minutes (at 7:30!!) Selah was all talk through our incredible Dubai traffic experience until we finally got on the open road at 9:15. Usually, a trip would take about an hour and a half. Tonight, it took us about 2 hours and 45 minutes. My five month pregnant self was squished in the very back seat with Selah's car seat and my back was killing me. But we are home and everyone is sleeping or about to sleep.

So happy birthday Abram Quinn. I can't believe you are three. You astound me every day with how much you are learning and growing. I love hearing what you have picked up from your storybook Bible, or me or your dad, or whatever TV show or movie you may have seen recently (and I'm sorry that's more often than I would like). I love that you love to do school with me every few days and you get so excited about the idea of college (school for grown ups - as I explained it to you). Hope you keep that excitement to learn! You are so sweet to your sister and friends and I am so proud of you for that. Thanks for brightening my day with your quotes and questions and for making me glad to hear "Mah-ahm!?" About 147 times a day (including at exactly 7:45 in the morning when you are allowed to get out of bed and come into our room while I am still sleeping.) Thank you for being so good about staying in your big boy bed so well this last week except for one difficult nap the first day. Please continue with that, my buddy. Thanks for your squinty eyed smile and your love of singing and dancing and Jesus and all that you are and will become.I couldn't have asked God for a better first born child and I'm so blessed to be your Mom. Love you!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

...of midnight musings of God's goodness

It's 1:30am and I can't stop thinking about how God is so good. So I thought I'd write about it and then go to sleep.

God is SO good. Even through bed bugs. And having to throw away furniture. And hand foot and mouth. And lack of sleep for the whole family and just overall busyness. I am overwhelmed by the blessings in my life right now. I can't begin to doubt that He even uses the hard things to show us His faithfulness.

These are a few of the things I am thankful for right now (think of it as a big chunk of "30 days of thankfulness" a little late):

- Mr. Unexpected Simon is getting so strong and feisty in there at 19 weeks. Loving him and getting more and more excited to meet and hold him every single day.

- Quinn's parents coming for a visit in 8 days. Love those people and excited to see them after over a year.

- Friends from our church in Austin coming to visit and going on an adventure to the Dubai Creek and spice souk. Then for a ride on the metro, a long walk into the Dubai Mall, a yummy dinner and ice cream at Shake Shack. All with lots of encouraging conversation, blessings, support, care, love, and hugs throughout. We couldn't ask for a better church family in the States.

- Another sweet friend who sent some essential things we needed (and some just fun stuff, like Trader Joes Vanilla Cranberry Cereal, which I will NOT be sharing). So fun and amazing to get gifts like that.

- Kids who did so well with little to no naps today and staying up two and three hours past bed time. Then they got new diapers and went right to bed after the hour long car ride home.

- An artistic husband who did such a good job picking out bedding for our guest room with gold sponge painted walls when the one I had planned on wasn't available. I like his choice so much better and now I just want to hang out in the clean, pretty guest room all day long.

- A new dryer that has made the 7 loads of laundry I've done in the last two days so easy. It's also so nice to be assured that we are killing any creatures that may be left in our stuff with unbearable heat. And making the 5 or 6 loads I have left to do not as daunting.

- The Holy Spirit that gives me help and peace and assurance that all of this AND the hard things are for His glory and I can rest and trust in His goodness and faithfulness and press on toward a beautiful eternity in His presence.

That's just a short list :)
And here are some pictures from our adventure today, the last few days, and the guest room.

And with that I will say good night.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

...of imaginary friends

Abram likes to talk about imaginary people. Not "imaginary friends", but people that don't exist with names he has made up (which are often variations of the same name).  Maybe he just likes names. Wonder where he got that from...  

Last night, we asked him who he wanted to pray for after dinner. He said "Hyops".  We humored him. "Hyops? Is Hyops real?" "Yeah, he lives in India, in a small town. He's sick. He needs to feel better." (There was some stuttering in there, but I'm not embellishing any vocabulary).

Quinn and I looked at each other. Usually, we tell him that we can only pray for real things; no made up people, no stuffed animals, etc. But it was so weird that he was so specific about where this person lived, that we thought maybe God wanted us to pray for a man named Hyops who was sick in a small town in India. So we agreed. Then I reconfirmed his name. "Hyops?" And he said "No. Pyops." And the glass was shattered.  He prayed a sweet prayer, anyway.

Tonight, while I was writing an email to a friend and he was playing before bed, we had this conversation:
Abram: Mom! Can we get on the airplane and visit Mox?
Me: Sure buddy. Let me just finish this email.
Abram: He have a sister named Myops.
Me: Uh huh.
Abram: And his mom is named Hyops.
Me: Oh, really (recognizing a pattern)
Abram: And, and he have a dada named... Pyops.
Me: Of course he does.
Abram: And they have two swings and a slide at their house!
Me: Wow!  That's awesome!  Where do they live?
Abram: South America

I was a little baffled. We have definitely talked about America and Africa and the UAE, but I didn't think he'd ever learned about South America. Where does he pick up this stuff?

So we get on a plane to South America, where I get to "play sleep" and he gets to play with toys until bed time. 

I like this kid.

Friday, October 25, 2013

...of a vocabulary

I may already have a post titled something similar to this about Abram, but I'm too lazy to check.

Selah's vocabulary is growing everyday. She says a lot of things imperfectly, but we know what she is saying in context and there are a few words she says pretty darn clearly.

Some of the clear, full words: cat, hat, ball, car, all done, up, no, yeah, happy, please, juice, toy, you, me, nose, eyes, Jesus, shoes, yay, and ummmm...

Some of the sounds that are definitively a certain word: Seh (Selah), bee (baby), Pah (Poppins, as in Mary Poppins), tup (as in "feed the birds, tuppence a bag" - she uses this to get me to sing the song to her. I guess it's her favorite...), Dohd (George (Jennings)), air-pah (airplane), fow (flower), tee (tree), dess (dress), Da (Dad). The one that can get a little confusing, but I usually know because of context, is "ma". This means several different things: Mom, more, milk, and mosque (which she says during the call to prayer). She can also say "ay, bee" for the abc song when she wants me to sing it, but not for her brother's name. She still doesn't call him anything except maybe "buh" once or twice. And she can tell you the sounds that a cow, horse, sheep, cat, and goat make.

That's crazy, now that I write it all out! I didn't realize she was talking so much. It really has been over the last week or two that it's taken off. So fun to watch her learn and grow. We are just working on learning the right, nice things. We are also teaching Abram that he needs to set a good example to Selah and Simon, because when he does anything and she is around, she's not far behind him - especially during his bathroom trips. We are working on that one.

On her 1.5 year birthday, I told her at breakfast that it was her birthday. The first thing out of her mouth was a perfect "happy!" Must be all those times of Abram singing "happy birthday" to himself and all of his stuffed animals that taught her that one. So I sang the song to her and right at the end she set down her spoon and yelled "yay!!!" incredibly loud and clapped vigorously. It was adorable. And since then, she's done that at the end of every song she hears. Love it :)

Here is a video of her happy birthday day when we celebrated by watching... Mary Poppins!!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

...of a name

If you've been tracking with us for awhile now, you may remember that when we were pregnant with Selah, we had a boy name chosen.  This time, we had a few boy options, but the old standby won out, because we really do like it a lot.  But just like two years ago, we still can't quite agree on a middle name for this kid.

That's where you can help.

His name is Simon.  After Simon Peter, the apostle.  It's five letters and it's Hebrew (like the other kids) and we like it.

But, here's the thing: We have four options for middle names.  The two that Quinn really like, I have been vehemently opposed to.  I will share them with you in the most unbiased (yeah, right) way possible and you can tell me if I'm wrong.  For real.  I won't be mad.

He likes Simon Quinn and Simon Peter.

Now, you may be thinking "Wait a minute... isn't Quinn Abram's middle name?" Why yes, yes it is. Much to the credit of his beloved parents, Quinn likes his name and he likes the idea of naming all of his sons with it.  Like "Abram, son of Quinn" and "Simon, son of Quinn". I think it sounds good, but I think it sounds a little egotistical (although that's pretty much the opposite of what Quinn ever is or will ever be). But also, I say Quinn's name quite a few times during the day, then I say "Abram Quinn" at least 20 times a day (which rises exponentially each day he gets closer to three years old).  If I'm going to be saying "Simon Quinn" 20-1000 times a day, I think I might never want to hear the name "Quinn" again, which would be tragic if it were three of my family members' names.

Then Simon Peter. This just feels like too much for some reason.  Like naming a kid after George Washington, but actually naming him George Washington Smith. I don't know...

Also, the other kids have a Bible name and a family name.  So that's kind of what I wanted to stick with. One of Quinn's grandfathers was named Paul.  I never had the opportunity to meet him, but his wife and children and grandchildren are all amazing people who loved the way he lead his family to love and serve the Lord.  The one small problem I have with Simon Paul, is the existence of Paul Simon - who I actually really like - but I wouldn't name a child after him.  But most people probably wouldn't even think of that when they heard Simon Paul Smith, right?  Kind of like how I was apprehensive about choosing Anaka Shockley Smith after I got married instead of Anaka Christine Smith.  But it turns out no one even thinks of my initials unless I point them out.


The one I like is Simon Ward, which is my grandparents' last name. They are both amazing people, who have played a significant role in my life and my walk with Jesus.  I think Quinn just doesn't like the way it sounds as much.  He's not super opposed, but just not a huge fan.

So there's that. We aren't in a big rush to pick it, since at least he has a first name. Besides, it's not like I'm going to be monogramming any baby stuff any time soon.  My sewing machine is broken.  And I have two other kids.
The two other kids.  Hanging out in Randall's majlis next to the kitchen while I made dinner. Love how much they like each other.

Simon's 16 week ultra sound.  He looks a lot more like a peanut than he feels.  He's getting significantly bigger by the day, I can see it :)

All done.

Monday, October 21, 2013

...of an insomniacs birthday

Today, Selah is 18 months old. She woke up at exactly midnight on her 1.5 year birthday (approximately three hours ago), right as I was falling asleep. Of course.

I am reminded of her one year birthday, six months ago, which was the first night we had any problem with her sleeping since she was about 7 months old and started sleeping through the night. That night, she bawled when I laid her down and didn't stop crying for almost an hour. So unlike her. The next night, it was a little shorter, but still some crying. And the next, just a little whimper before falling to sleep like a champ like her old self.

That drama ended right then, but it was about that time that she started waking up for long periods of time in the middle of the night. At first we didn't know how long she was staying awake. I would hear sporadic babbling and then quiet and our noise machine that made it possible for us all to share essentially one big room probably drown out any other sounds while I slept.

Then we got a video monitor and we realized how much time she was actually awake in there in the middle of the night. The first few nights, when I watched her still rolling around after an hour or so, I would rock her or give her milk thinking she might be hungry. But when she would stay awake for the same period of time regardless of what I did, I just started to let her be. Since we got the video monitor when she was 14 months old, she has spent an average of two nights a week awake for around 2-3 hours at night, usually beginning around midnight (but none of this is absolutely consistent.)
When we moved when she was 16 months old and put her and Abram in their own room together, I praised God for one child who could sleep like a rock while the other, insomniac child would randomly squeal at the top of her lungs in the same room over the course of three hours. Her insomnia and my pregnancy insomnia never seem to coincide (like tonight, when all I wanted to do was sleep while she was talking and squealing and when she finally falls asleep, I'm officially awake.)

I've gotten frustrated by being the only person who is awake with her. I'm glad Abram's not awake, but I've struggled with feeling like Quinn should be awake sometimes instead of me. But the thing is that she is so quiet, for the most part, that he would never be able to stay awake until it ended. And he often wonders why I just don't go back to sleep and just turn the monitor down or off and let her be (because I do that anyway, I just watch and listen in the monitor). But it's because knowing how long she is awake during the night and at what times totally affects what I do with her and what she needs the next day. If I know she was only awake for 1.5 hours, maybe I don't need to cancel the play date and she can still have just one nap. But if she was awake for 3.5, I'll probably need to put her down for two naps and we pretty much aren't going anywhere all day.

Recently, she has started responding to discipline. So one of the things we are working on is being quiet in bed. Despite his Quinn rock-sleeping genes, Abram is not super human and he does sometimes wake up because of her. The next morning he is grumpy and tired, but we don't have a monitor on him, so I have no idea how much sleep he might have lost. So we are trying to teach her to stay quiet. As much as she answers "Yeah" when I say to her "You need to be quiet. Do you understand?" But it's obvious she doesn't understand (or is being defiant) as evidenced by her ear piercing squeals only minutes later.

If I were in the States, I would have had her in our pediatrician's office a few months ago trying to figure out whether it is normal or worrisome that my 18 month old seems to be struggling with legitimate insomnia on a regular basis. As it is, the language barrier and cultural differences with pediatricians in this country and our experiences with them and other doctors lead me to believe that we would either get the brush off or an over reaction. Man, I miss our doctor in Austin! His English was so good :)

Not sure when the breaking point will be or should be. We pray for her every night that she would sleep through the night. Obviously, sometimes, God doesn't answer that prayer. But overall, she is a happy, smart, well rested, good eater of an 18 month old and we feel really blessed by her and her sweet (but sometimes feisty) personality, which is why we haven't been too worried about all of this. It's just on nights like these, when it's 4am and she's finally sleep and I'm wondering when it will be my turn, that I also wonder if I should be doing something more about it.


Happy one and a half years on this earth, Selah Christine! You are quite the walker, talker, Momma's girl. No really, you love all Mommies, not just me. Your Aunt Katie gets more snuggle time with you than anyone else (besides Uncle Randall) and if there is an empty mommy lap at our play groups, you'll sit in it for at least a few seconds before going off to someone or something else. Everyone loves you, especially your brother, who assures me that he will always protect you and makes sure that you are following the rules (tonight he asked you if you needed to go to time out for tipping your cup over on the ground and you politely said "no".)
Even though you still don't really like diaper changes or teeth brushing and you let us know that you don't, you love love love baths and dresses and your shoes. You also love cars and books and Mary Poppins (you bring me the remote almost everyday and ask me "Pop?") You are spunky and adorable and opinionated and affectionate and lovely and we cannot even begin to imagine our lives without you.

Love you Sel Bell. And I pray you don't have to deal with this insomnia for much longer, because I feel for ya, sweet girl.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

...of Fall

Thanks, Coloradoans, for posting all the pictures of the snow you just got.  And Texans, thank you for the pictures of your weekly weather forecast, which is comprised mostly of lovely 75 degree days.  It really just makes me really happy for you.  No.  For real.

Here in Fujairah, we have been blessed by a little temperature drop.  It even rained the other night!  The kids were very, very excited.

Today was a modest 32/33 degrees (Celsius) when we got out of our car to go to the park at 11am.  That's a wonderful 90 degrees Fahrenheit.  We'll take it!  They were watering the grass at this big park when we got there.  I don't know if they do that often, but it was by far the kids' favorite part of our trip.  We just let 'em go.  If I had to be dripping sweat in a long sleeve shirt in the 90 degree sun, at least my children could be soaking wet.

Then we had some swinging time.  Most playgrounds (unless they are at newer, more ex-pat centered schools and parks) have painted metal equipment that gets burning hot in the sun.  Luckily, there were some choice swings that were in the shade or under things, so the kids got some swing time. 

(Bumping feet.  Selah thought this was awesome.)

This park was pretty neat.  I'm sure it becomes a hopping place when the weather cools off in the "winter". There are tons of chairs and tables and places to sit and eat.  You can bring in food or there is a little cafeteria in the park (not sure we would ever eat there, though).  There is also a mens pool and a ladies pool (we probably won't ever use those either), but it was a fun place to go and hang out and maybe make some new friends.  

Sorry I have been completely inept at picture posting these last few months.  Quinn used to never go anywhere without his camera (before we had kids) and I would beg him to just leave his camera bag in the car sometimes.  Now, we rarely go places with the camera.  I mean, we rarely go places at all.  Selah is still taking two naps sometimes and then I feel like I have at least one kid who needs to be sleeping all points during the day, which makes it difficult to go anywhere. But we are almost completely to one nap a day, I think. I do take a decent amount of pictures on instagram (@anakasmith), so I'm trying to get the grandparents hooked up over there, since the blog is failing them miserably in the picture department.

Anyway, hope you enjoy these precious few!  Happy Fall!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

...of the proper pronoun

Ever since I was little, I've really loved names.  I would write stories just so I could name characters.  The stories were mostly just a few handwritten pages, because I would quickly move on to another story where I could name different characters.  I would also name my children.  I don't think this is too weird, right?  And with each guy I dated, I had a different set of names that I would have named possible children.  Mainly just for fun.  It was just a thing.  It really didn't mean that I was sure I was going to marry any of the four guys I ever dated (except that last one...), I just liked names.

But one thing was always the same with my imaginary children.  There were always the same number: three.  I thought this was the perfect amount at the time.  They were also always in the same order.  A boy, then a girl, then another boy.  My thought process was that every guy wants a boy first.  This is probably not true. And I am also sure that men who have a girl first are not disappointed when they are holding her in their arms, but my non-existent husband would surely want a boy first.

And then it happened!  Although Abram Quinn was not the name of any of my imaginary children.  Come to find out, sometimes husbands have something to do with the naming of their children (although sometimes they are glad to let their wives name that child exactly what she had been dreaming she would name him since she was 12.)

Then, the girl.  She was second because she was fulfilling my dream of having a big brother.  I always wanted one and if I didn't get one, my daughter definitely would.

And I got her!  The name Selah Christine was also a joint decision and not a name we even thought of until after we started having kids.

Finally, another boy.  This was because I thought that I wouldn't want a girl to be the baby.  That's just a princess complex waiting to happen (this is teenage Anaka thinking here...) If a boy was the youngest, he would be special because he was the youngest, the middle would be special because she was the only girl, and the oldest would be special because he was the oldest.

But Quinn and I thought we were done after two.  My teenage dream was brought down by the realities of actually taking care of and raising these previously only imaginary children and we thought that two was a handful enough. However, when we found out we were having a third my dream was rekindled.  I wanted a boy, but something in me said that this baby was going to be a girl.  And as I thought about it, I got more and more excited for two girls.  I had a little sister and I liked it, for the most part (I mean for all the parts, Liese!!) We could have two peas in a pod who would play together and be best friends.  It would be great.  But another boy still sounded perfect.  Selah would be the special, only girl. Our baby (if we don't have anymore surprise children, or decide we actually want more) would be a boy and my dream would become a reality.

Long story short, we would have been happy with either a boy or a girl.  We were able to find out at our new (and way, way better) doctor's appointment on Sunday.  Watch this really attractive video of me to find out!

We are very excited to have found a doctor who attends our old church in Dubai and is American!  The language barrier with the doctors in Fujarah actually ended up having some painful repercussions (long story).  So, the just over an hour drive to Dubai for our future appointments and the significant price jump for those visits is definitely worth it to us.  I can't have my absolutely wonderful Dr. Seeker in Austin, but Dr. Branch is already a new favorite!

Still working on the name, but knowing us, I'll be back with that announcement soon enough... 

Monday, September 23, 2013

...of three

So we are having another baby.  Whew.  There, I said it.  No creative lead up and stunning reveal.  Just there.  Baby.  Bam.

That's a little what it felt like to find out that a third child would be joining our ranks a bit short of 3.5 years after our first child was born.  We were content with our two.  A boy and a girl.  Who could ask for anything more, right?  Also, Quinn and I each have just one sister, so it seemed natural for us to stop at two. So that's what we were working to do.  I won't go into the details of it all with you in this forum, but we really were attempting to avoid pregnancy. So this wasn't a "woops" moment.  This was a "many things happening coincidentally" moment.  And so when we confirmed that we were, indeed, expecting another baby, there was a bit of shock (of course), but also peace and assurance in knowing that God definitely showed us His hand in it.

We told Abram pretty early on and he has been excited from the get-go.  He prays for "the new baby" all of the time.  Before we arrived at our 12 week appointment today (which ended up being a 13 week appointment because of a couple of cancellations by the hospital), he kept asking if we were going to get to take the new baby home.  We've tried to explain that the baby has to grow inside for awhile and then in six more months, we will hopefully be bringing the baby home.  So he counts through the rest of the months - always stopping in November to remind me that that's when his birthday is - and gets to March and is very excited.  He is such a good big brother to Selah and I know that he will be a great brother to this little Smith as well.  On a side note, we are working on him grabbing whatever he wants out of Selah's hands whenever his little heart desires, but that's really the only mean thing he has ever done to her, praise the Lord.

Selah has no idea, of course, but will get more cognizant of it as the months go on.  She is in crazy development time right now, starting to talk and obey (and directly disobey) and respond to everything we say to her.  She will be almost two if the baby arrives on time (due April 1) and she will grasp it more fully then.  It's actually her that I'm worried about.  She's a pretty strong willed little thing right now and has been known to get excited and hit and is far more aggressive that gentle-man Abram.  But we will make it a constant prayer that she would be an excellent big sister and I know God will answer.

The plan is to deliver over here in the UAE, if everything keeps going normally.  We've been going to a hospital here in Fujairah for appointments where the care is much cheaper (since we pay out of pocket and then file claims for hopeful reimbursement), but also much more rushed, impersonal, and... Arab... than the western hospitals in Dubai.  So the thought is that we will probably switch to a doctor at the American Hospital in Dubai around 20 weeks and then not go as frequently between 20 and 34 or so weeks, since it's much harder to get there and more expensive.  Then, hope that this labor goes something like my other two and we have time for an hour and a half drive to the hospital whenever the time comes.  My close friend who lives here in Fujairah is a doula and we are planning for her to ride with us in the car if I am in active labor and making the drive, just in case something happens... Hope you are ready to deliver a baby in a car, Katie!! :)

So that's that!  We will hopefully be able to find out the gender in three or four weeks, which we will definitely do. I talked to Quinn about whether he wanted this one to be a surprise (crossing my fingers behind my back that he would not) and he emphatically said "no".  We like picking a name and calling the baby by name as we wait for them to join us on the outside.  For us, it makes him or her seem so much more real and present.  So that's what we will do.  I think we are both hoping for a boy, because we have a name we both agree on.  We are in a deadlock over a girl name.  So the discussion has been tabled (but not really) until we know whether we need to start arm wrestling... or guilt tripping :)

Here's a picture of Abram looking at the baby on the "tv" and a fuzzy cell phone picture of our #3.

Sorry for the long hiatus, but there's a bit of an explanation for the reason why!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

... of a great idea

I posted this video on Facebook. So this is for people who follow the blog that aren't on facebook (read: grandparents)

Can you tell we do a lot of pretend flying to Austin, Colorado, and Boise in our playtime? :)

Sorry I haven't been posting more.  Lost of stuff happening here and not much time to just sit down and upload and write.  We actually never take out the good camera any more.  Horrible.  Horrible parents, we are. Just kidding.  More like just parents, we are.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

...of a wonderfully painful lesson

A week ago, I lost my temper.  I'm not an outward temper looser.  Like, you don't have to be worried if you are around me and I loose it.  You may not even notice.  I really don't do it that often.  When I loose my temper, I loose it on the inside.  You might see my neck tendons stick out a bit, maybe my teeth gritting (if you are looking closely), possibly some wide eyes and clenched fists, but that's probably it.  So it doesn't seem that bad from the outside, but inside... oh, inside, it's bad.  I never knew how bad until I actually hurt myself doing this inside-temper-loosing.  And God is using it to teach me a serious lesson.  

It was a normal day with two kids... (did not mean for that to sound like the beginning of a "Rescue 911 episode, but I'll go with it)... only I was tired and already on edge.  I was just looking forward to the hour that I might get to have alone with both kids sleeping as I took Abram into the kids' room where Selah had been sleeping for an hour.  She should have slept for another hour at least, except that Abram accidentally spilled a cup of water that he begged for all over his bed. As I dove for it, I leaned against his bed and it screeched about an inch on the floor.  It was enough to wake up Selah and the moment I heard her, I was just so upset at myself and the situation and that I wasn't going to get any no-kid time that day, that I lost it. Inside, trying to be quiet in case she would go back to sleep (which she didn't), I exploded.

I had a temper tantrum.

The very thing that I tell my kids not to do, that they get disciplined for, I did standing right there in their room.

I wouldn't have thought much of it, actually.  I might not even remember that I had done it or thought that it was wrong, except that after that moment every time I lean down (to put on shoes, to pick up toys, to pull up and down pants and underwear, to pick up a 25 pound toddler) and every time I cough or sneeze or turn around in the car (to hand back toys, take cups of leaking milk, feed someone a mobile dinner), I get a sharp pain in the top left side of my head.  It's like a lightning flash, and then it goes away. Until the next time I do any one of those things.  It's not debilitating, it's just uncomfortable and annoying.

At first I didn't really put two and two together.  I knew it happened right after I had my temper tantrum, but I didn't think much of it.  After a few days, and considering going to the doctor in case it was something serious, the Holy Spirit suddenly convicted me that this was (at least in part) a way that God was disciplining me, convicting me, teaching me.

Each time I bend down to pull up Abram's underwear and pants after he goes potty, even though I might want to loose it a little with him because I feel like he should be able to do that on his own by now, it's like the Spirit pokes me in my head and says: "Don't even think about it."  It makes me feel so foolish, really, which is probably a good thing.  How can I loose my temper about something that I absolutely had no control over? And the answer to that, I've discovered through prayer and talking to the Lord about all of this, is that I was angry that I had lost my control over the situation.  My perfect plan for the day was ripped away from me in that moment and I was upset.  My idol of control has never been more clearly apparent.  I'm not understanding and believing that God works everything together for my good - even accidentally short nap times and no quiet time in a day and sharp, shooting, head pain.

He showed me Proverbs 14:29 the other day:
"Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, 
but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly."

How foolish I still am, even at 30 years old!  How much I have to learn about God's grace and mercy toward me through this incredibly difficult, lifelong, and rewarding task of parenting.  And praise Him that He doesn't get angry with me and I don't loose His favor when I act like a angry child.  But He disciplines me and guides me and teaches me how He wants me to repent of my sin and love Him even more for already paying for it on the cross and defeating it forever when he rose from the grave.

And so I can honestly say:
"...[I] rejoice in [my] suffering, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." (Romans 5:3-5)

Praise the Lord for sharp shooting head pain. :)

*So, I did end up going to see a doctor yesterday, just to have a neuro exam and make sure it wasn't something we should be worried about.  He confirmed that it is almost definitely a result of stress and that I should "take it easy" as much as possible until it, hopefully, fixes itself.  Until then, I'm glad I have a wonderful husband who is trying to do as much as he can while he's at home to alleviate my stress level and a God who can and will heal me when it's time.  Thanks to those of you who have been praying for me!  

Monday, August 26, 2013

...of a fish

Abram had his first swim lesson today!  It was a grand success.

By the end of it, he just wanted to swim "by his own self" and wasn't very interested in kicking, paddling, bubbles, etc.  I'm just glad he wasn't afraid of the water.
Definitely not afraid.

And being the incredibly sweet and thoughtful brother he is, when he discovered how much fun it was he kept yelling to Selah; "Come on Selah!  Come swim with me!"  So Sel and I got in at the end.  Didn't get any pics of that.  But she monkey glued herself to my side and as long as she was there, she was absolutely loving it too.

So excited we are getting to do these lessons and our friends have this pool.  We may have a coupla water babies on our hands!

Monday, August 19, 2013

... of forever

Many, many things have changed "around here" since I've been gone.  We were in a holding pattern for our move from Sharjah to Fujairah for almost a month.  Things got packed and moved, expecting to be able to move, only to experience delay after delay and obstacle after obstacle.  We finally had to move the day our lease ran out in Sharjah.  So we are ultimately glad that we had it for the little extra time that we did, because we needed it! 
Occupying them while I packed boxes for the move (I think we didn't move for two weeks after this).

Don't judge me.  We took the kids to a friend's house across the street while we were packing.  When I picked them up, there wasn't room for their car seats in the back.  So for a one minute car ride across the street, these two cuties got buckled in the front together and shared a pretzel.  And I prayed the entire time. 

A trip to Ikea for necessities and hot dogs to celebrate the end of Ramadan. Selah sat in a big kid chair for the first time ever.

We learned how much stuff we have actually acquired in the last 9 months.  So many wonderful things have been given to us by friends.  The community of expats out here is really good about passing stuff around to each other when one family has come to the end of their time with furniture, toys, clothes, appliances, etc. Now that we've been blessed with so much, we will be able to do the same for other people.  It's a cool, unspoken system over here that I love.  We moved with our team mate, Randall, who was living with us at the old house and is living with us here as well.  He's got a lot of stuff, we've got a lot of stuff, and we ended up having to take two large truck loads and my poor husband took at least seven trips with a full car over the last month.  But we are finally here! It will be one week tomorrow and, while there are still boxes in the hallway waiting to be taken to other rooms and duffel bags yet to be unpacked in our bed room, we have made some great headway and are well on our way to being settled!  It feels great.  I am so hoping that this house works out for us and we are able to stay for at least a few years.  One thing is for sure, I do NOT want to move again in a year if it can be helped.  We feel so blessed by this house and I will be posting pictures and videos as soon as things find their permanent place and I can find my video camera.

Abram helping with dishes in our "new" (to us) kitchen.  

In other news, Selah is officially walking!  It took her about a month to really get the hang of it.  She still falls quite a lot, but she doesn't even want to crawl any more.  So as soon as she falls, she gets her legs right back under her and stands herself back up (with no hands) and keeps truckin.  She's pretty adorable. Her first four molars have been working their way in over the last few months, slowly but surely.  Each one takes it's time to come through and as soon as it's through, the next one starts coming.  Poor girl had been in a perpetual bad mood for all this time, but I'm sure that it's the teeth.  She hates when we brush her teeth.  I mean, traumatic, scarring her for life hates it.  But we keep doing it and praying for those teeth to finally get through so we can have our sweet, smiley, never cries girl back before too long.  

And Abram started officially potty training today!  I've been waiting, because I knew that potty training also meant big boy bed training and the lay out of our house just wasn't conducive to having a toddler able to get out of his bed whenever he pleased.  So today, he's been wearing big boy underwear all day except during his nap so far and only had one accident while I was putting Selah down for a nap.  He usually looks at me with wide eyes and says: "I'm abouta pee (or poop)!" Then I say: "Hold it!" and we run for the bathroom, I help him with his pants and underwear and he goes!  I think we have awhile until he's self sufficient in the bathroom.  Pants down, onto the big potty is just not possible without us just yet. But he is definitely well aware of when he needs to go potty and very able to communicate it.  So that's big news for us!
Transitioning into big boy underwear.  He felt a little naked without his diaper at first, so we did both for a little while.  

Lots of new things, but also just a lot of the same as it's always been: striving to be the best mom, wife, and homemaker as I can be, failing often, and coming to the Lord so thankful for His grace, patience, mercy and love in my life.  

Well, there's a quickish update to let you know that we are all still alive and doing well here!  Hope to be back soon (but I said that last time...)

Monday, July 22, 2013

...of a wonderfully difficult day

Today was one of those days.  It was actually more like two of those days rolled into one.  The morning was a "Really?!  I mean, really?!" kind of morning.  And the afternoon was a "Wow, the Lord is so good and faithful" kind of afternoon.

Even though the city we live in says that they aren't doing scheduled power outages this summer, we have just happened to have a power outage the last three Mondays at almost exactly 10am.  The first few I was extra annoyed, because they were in the middle of Selah's morning nap and the sound machine that we have to have running while she is sleeping and the fan that keeps her room relatively cool both shut off and she woke right up, of course.  This week, we have transitioned to one nap a day, so she wasn't sleeping during this morning's power outage and I wasn't as frustrated.  But when the power hadn't come back on after 30 minutes like it usually does, I was getting a little exasperated.  And hot.  So I took my sweaty kids over to the vacant part of the house that our friends used to live in where the power was still on (apparently our house is on two different power grids), and we camped out in an empty room with a decently working AC and some toys.  
When it hadn't come back on after over an hour, I went over to quickly snag some sandwich material out of our rapidly warming refrigerator and we had a floor picnic.  It finally turned back on after about an hour and forty-five minutes and we headed "back home". Oh, also, the water pressure was really low this morning and I was having flashbacks to the few times our water has been turned off by the city because of our landlord. No power AND rapidly decreasing water?!  Four-months-ago-Anaka would have been on the floor bawling at this point. But, by the grace of God, I was able to take it all in stride.  

When the AC came back on, it immediately started dripping (a problem we just had someone come out to fix).  I discovered a puddle of water underneath Abram's bed.  Coupled (or quadrupled?) with the fact that our concrete living room ceiling has a network of rapidly increasing deep cracks spreading through it and we are mildly worried that it might not make it another two weeks without chunks of it falling into the room, we decided to move to our new home in our new city a little earlier than planned.  Thankfully, we know the people who are living in the house until the end of July, but they are in America until the beginning of August. We were going to move when they got back and were able to move out, but our landlord is giving us the keys on Wednesday and our friends have already packed most of their stuff and they are ok with us moving in while they are gone and just waiting to really settle in until they are able to get back and move.  So that's what we decided to do.

So all of a sudden, this morning, we were moving in less than a week...

This is where the "Really?!  I mean, really?!" part of the day ended.  

After lunch, Selah was getting pretty fussy.  Yesterday, she wasn't fussy at all before her new nap time of 12:30, and then her nap was only about an hour and half. That was a long day.  But today, she was acting pretty tired. So I put her down at 12:30 and prayed she would take a good long nap so that I could get some packing done.  Abram played by himself in the living room while I packed, visiting me every once in awhile when I would unearth something from the back of a cabinet that he hadn't seen in awhile and just had to play with.  Then he went down at 2:00, was asleep without issue by 2:30, and I kept packing.  

By 4:30, I had most of the living room stuff that we don't use everyday packed and stacked.  And both kids were still sleeping. You read right.  Today, the day I suddenly had to start packing to move out of our house, Selah happened to sleep for four and a half hours.  No, I'm sure it wasn't chance.  I am sure that it was the faithfulness of God.  Then, the kids ended up waking up at the same time. This is not normally great, but today it was perfect. We shared a pineapple juice Popsicle and waited for Daddy to come home. 

Then we ate healthy, leftover butternut squash, quinoa, chicken, black bean soup (here's the recipe for it - it's one of our favorites.  I just sub the olives for black beans, because my kids and I like those waaaaay better) and had some family Bible time in Psalm 16.  Then the kids had a quick spray down in the shower, and Abram was really obedient and mature about getting out when we told him we were done (we usually have an epic melt down at the end of bath/shower time.)  Then he fell off the bed while no was was looking and two of his front teeth were bleeding pretty bad up at the gum line.  He was pretty distraught, but then he got to take some medicine and he settled down a little and went right to bed without issue, as did his sister.  

And that was the end of the "Wow, the Lord is so good and faithful" afternoon.  

But, no.  It wasn't.  Because the Lord is always good and faithful, even in the "Really?! I mean really!?" moments.  In fact, those moments make His faithfulness even more apparent and glorious, don't they?  If we didn't have those tough moments, we might never realize how faithful God really is.  But God's had to do a lot in my heart to get me to where those tough moments don't just completely decimate my joy and hope.  I found it too perfect that our Fighter Verse song for the week is Psalm 42:11:
"Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me.  
Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God."
And my reading yesterday in Spurgeon's Morning and Evening was about Psalm 42:9: "Why go I mourning?"
Spurgeon said something that really hit me in response to this musing I often find myself in: "Mountains, when in darkness hidden, are as real as in day, and God's love is as true to thee now as it was in the brightest moments." It's basically the way the Psalmist answers the question in verse 11.  The response is: I shouldn't go about mourning! I can hope in God, my salvation, who is always worthy of my praise, no matter how dark the time is.  

So, maybe it wasn't two of those days rolled into one.  It was just one of those days.  One of those days where Jesus proves that my hope is found, not in power or water or AC or good naps or Popsicles.  It is in nothing less than His blood and righteousness.  And that's a good day.  

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

...of walking and talking!

I would be a horrible parent if I documented every single step that Abram took in blog-land and failed to mention anything about Selah's verbal and mobile developments as of late.

She has officially taken steps!  The most she has ever done is five in a row, but it's usually two or three before she lunges herself forward and falls, sometimes quite dangerously.  I would never have predicted this, but Abram was my cautious kid, who took one month to actually start walking.  When he did, he hardly ever fell forward or lost his balance.  I think it's because he wanted to make sure that he could do it well before he did it.  Selah, on the other hand, is more than happy to try over and over again, every time catching herself with those little hands on the hard ground and sitting right up to look for the clapping and smiling.  She still can't (won't?) just stand up by herself without first pulling up on something or someone. But she can stand unassisted now and control a sit down from there.  She is quite adorable and I can't believe that my baby is about to become a toddler.

(love my crazo bed head hair that appears there right at the end...)

She's also started talking and communicating a lot more, too. Up until recently, everything she wanted has been "Ma".  It definitely meant "Mama", "milk", and "more" (makes sense).  But then she started using it for everything that she pointed at and wanted.  She's gotten really good at the pointing and she's picking up signs really quickly now.  And she has also started answering questions with a head nod and a "da" or a head shake (sometimes accompanied by a "no no no no".)  But just today I heard her look at the door that my mom closed an say "doh" and she pointed at her Hug-a-Bible and said "ba ba".  I asked her if she wanted to read her Bible and she nodded and said "da".  It's such an amazing feeling when you realize that you can actually communicate with your child!!  I can ask and she can answer.  She can ask and I can answer!  It's so great.  

I don't think I shared this video yet, but I got this one of her saying "oh" and "ffff".  She says "uh oh" when she drops stuff and she can pick out the O's in our set of alphabet letters and says "O", whenever she sees them.  Pretty awesome! You might remember that Abram's first and favorite letter was "B".  The other day I told Abram and Selah, "Abram's favorite letter is B and Selah's is O!  O.B. or B.O." Then Abram started (literally) yelling "B.O!  B.O!"  Highly appropriate addition to his vocabulary during these hot Middle Eastern summer months :)

Quinn told me today that he hates those magnetic letters because they are ALWAYS spread out ALL OVER our house.  I mean, for the last year and a half they have been the bane of his existence. Having to pick them up all of the time and stepping or slipping on them is just getting to be too much for him.  But I will defend those letters to the death, because I think they are the reason why my kid could identify all of his uppercase letters by 18 months.  They were always around, we were always talking about them, they were tangible things, instead of just marks on a paper and they fit in his hand (and sometimes in his mouth).  And I think they are the reason why my 14 month old can already identify two of of the letters of the alphabet (O and B).  And I didn't really have to do any kind of active teaching.  All I had to do was clean them up occasionally and talk about them continuously.  I should be a magnet letters sales person!  I would make a great commission :)

Hope to be back with some more pictures from our Dubai adventures with my mom soon!  By that time Selah may be running around and reciting the Declaration of Independence. Let's hope not.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

...of a Quinn date

I mean a Quinn planned date.  I am notorious for shooting down ideas.  In general.  But specifically when it comes to Quinn's date ideas.  I am not proud to admit this and it's convicting to actually type that out, because it's obviously not an admirable, or even likable trait.  It's ultimately sin on my part, since it comes from a control and comfort idol.  I want what I want and what I know and makes me feel safe. This has become glaringly apparent as our list of dates we've been on since moving here eight months ago is a long list of Festival Centre (read: Ikea) outings.

So my first step in getting rid of that unfortunate personality trait, was to really let Quinn plan our fifth anniversary date and just be agreeable and do everything he suggested.  Our anniversary was June 15th, but we ended up going out July 3rd, because my mom is here and could babysit the kids starting earlier in the evening (because she could feed  them and put them down much easier than Steve and Katie would have been able to).  So we were able to have a whole night out!  Pretty awesome.

So this is what a Quinn-date entailed:

Riding the Dubai Metro:
We parked the car at the northern most station (which was literally vacant at 5:30pm) and started our journey from there.
Wanted to ride in the very front so that we could have a god view, but quickly learned (through some uncomfortable stares from other passengers) that the very front car was "gold class", which was a higher ticket price and the next car was specifically for handicapped people and women.  We got Quinn out of there pretty quickly when we realized that.  By that point the trained had filled up a lot more as we got further into Dubai and we had to stand, squished in with a lot of... hard-work-smelling men... if you get my drift. 
But the view from the raised part of the track was pretty cool. It eventually went underground (where the view was obviously non-existent).  But it's all really nice and new and each station has a unique look and everything is very well taken care of.  I kind of wish we lived in Dubai so that we would have reason to take it more often. 

Quinn date, part one: Very awesome.

Dubai Creek stroll:
It was hot, but not too hot for a quickish walk along the creek that runs through "Old Dubai".  Everything is either actually old, or made to look old.  So it has a cool feel.  We were sightseeing and looking for a good place to eat.
My video game character concept artist husband finding faces everywhere. 
Along the Creek.

Quinn date, part two: A little sweaty, but very pretty.

Traditional Arabic food dinner:
Love us some hummos.
Quinn's sludge Turkish Coffee
My yummy lemon mint tea.
So I thought traditional Emirati fried fish sounded like a good choice.  Then they brought it to me.  Quinn had to cut the head off and hide in in our bread basket so that I could actually stand to look at my food in order to eat it.  It did taste pretty good.
Chicken Biryani.  Mmmm...

Quinn date, part three: Weird looking, but pretty yummy.

The Souks:
Creek at night.
Trying to find just the right Turkish hand painted bowl for my sister's birthday.  We talked this guy down on his price quite a bit.  Then we learned a little more about bartering as a Westerner when we were dragged into another guy's shop just down the road who wanted to sell us the same bowl for half the price.  You live and you learn.
This is that guy's shop.  He got us inside by attacking Quinn with this head scarf and making us come inside to take a picture.  Then, of course, I had a "real silk pashmina" hijab unwillingly wrapped around my head.  Can you say, "awkward"?
More unwilling head scarf attacking and picture taking insistence outside another shop.  We also learned a lot about how you have to be what we would consider as "mean" as a Westerner walking through an Arab souk.  Don't look at them, don't respond, don't smile - unless you really do want to see something in their shop.  Kind of hard for us to do.
Riding an old boat across the creek to the spice souk on the other side.

Spice shop. 
Ending the night in a spice shop, buying some pistachios and dates from a guy who told us his "tourist name" was Alex, but who's actual name was Mohammed (of course).  Then we trekked to the nearest Metro station and headed back to our car and back home!

Quinn date, part four: a little uncomfortable, but overall very fun.

So, there was our anniversary date!  Helped me realize that I should definitely trust Quinn more often to plan dates.  But next time, I've got to remember to wear more comfortable shoes.