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.  

Thursday, July 4, 2013

...of Nana picture catch up

So my mom is here!!!  I haven't blogged in forever.  Things just get busy or we are tired.  But I wanted to share some of the pictures we have gotten of her visit so far.

Al Qasba - first night.  What a trooper she was!

Forgot the sippy.
 Nando's. A fave.
Eye of the Emirates.

Visiting our friends at the house in Fujairah that will be ours in one month!!
The girls.
The swing set.  I think this kid will be out here a lot.

Around the house:
"You're so cool, Nana!"
Y bike for Selah with birthday money from Grandpa and Grandma Ward.
 She likes it!  And since we've gotten it, she's started standing on her own more and trying to take steps on her own. Maybe it was perfect timing and maybe it is because of the bike. Whatever it was, I think we are getting closer to having a toddler on our hands!
On the move.
Also got some new Clark's first steps shoes and they are great!

Watching a movie.
Doing puzzles.

We are so so happy to have Nana here.  Of course we really wish that my dad could have come too, but he's working hard back at home and just couldn't get away.  It's hard to believe that her trip is already half over and Ramadan is about to start in a week.  It will make what we can do a bit more limited.  It will be our first Ramadan here, so it should be an experience for all of us!  Then the plan is to move to the Fujairah after Eid, around August 12th or so.  Can't believe our time here in Sharjah is coming to an end.  This house definitely has it's quirks and downsides, but it's been good to us and I think we will always remember it fondly.  

Hope to be back with more Nana pictures soon!