Sunday, January 30, 2011

Big Boys.

Owen is still our baby, ask him, he'll tell you. But in the meantime he's growing too fast for my liking. This week he started sleeping in the twin bed, an official big boy bed.

We went out to dinner and the babysitter put the boys to bed. We came home and Owen was fast asleep in the twin bed and not the crib. He worked magic and talked the babysitter into it and she didn't know any different. So we left him there all night. He didn't fall our, climb out, or get up in the middle of the night.

The following night we tried again. Same thing. The following day I put him down for a nap on the bed again. He was not a fan. He wanted to sleep on the floor and this is how I found him. After snapping a photo I set him up with a pillow and blanket and there he slept for a few hours. Since then, he has slept in the crib a few times as well. We're giving him a choice.
We painted Carters big boy room blue. Here is Mike's handy work tagging the wall right before we rolled the room and Carter standing by so proud. He has been talking about painting his room since we arrived. Blue was the compromise. At first he wanted black. Yeah, that's not an option.
I'm saving the big reveal for when the actual room is done. We have some things to put on the wall and a bed to make and dresser to buy. Almost there.

At first I had planned to set the room up for both boys. But after trying to have them both in the same room for two nights while the paint dried and aired out, both Mike and I decided we are in NO HURRY to have both big boys in the same room. Needless to say the nights together were not a success. No need to rush this. So next weekend I plan to paint Owens room. Owen did request black, just like his big brother. However, it may be green, or most likely just another shade of blue.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Just Like...

Donuts just like home. Krispy Kreme in the Kingdom.
Same green and white sign, same deliciousness as the donuts back home. The boys even scored the official paper hats on our visit too.On the other hand, the Seven Eleven in Kingdom is NOTHING like the ones back home.
No slushy or fountain drinks. This one is actually a Chinese food restaurant in the downtown Souqe area. I have to admit I was a bit disappointed.
Now, just because we were in the downtown area we stopped in a little shop for sunglasses for Mike. The shopkeepers LOVE our kids. Most likely all kids. They tote on them, adore them, let them run a muck and entertain them while you shop. Most also have little knick nacks or candies for the kids too. I know candy- don't take any from strangers. We usually pocket this and throw it out later. I know, I'm a bad mom huh?

I'm not kidding when I say, I am treated better out and about in town when I have one of my children with me. You see a entirely different side of people when they interact with children. This society loves them and that is comforting and endearing.

So here are the boys trying on glasses with the shopkeeper downtown. They had a blast! I couldn't pass up this little Kodak opportunity.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


It's 1:30 p.m. KSA and the boys are in sweats and I am still in pajamas.
By choice I might add.

We woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of rain. But first thought our house was flooding. Ohps, after painting the kitchen yesterday both Mike and I forgot to close the sliding glass door. So it was only flooding outside and not in the kitchen. A big relief at 5:30 am. So I crawled back into bed with the sound of rain luring my eyes closed.

The sky is dark and dreary and the ground is wet. No playgroup at the park today. No real need to get up and moving. Both boys sleep in. So do I.

We watched Sesame St., made german pancakes, picked up a little, did some paint touch ups to the kitchen, folded some laundry and made a caterpillar out of trio blocks. Our friend Louie came over to play and brought his mom, Julianna.

It was relaxed. No where to go, nothing pressing to be done.

Lunch was Chocolate milk, ABC soup, nachos and seedless grapes.

Now Owen sleeps in the next room. Carter plays with his cars on the carpet and I have a chance to catch up on blogs. I have every intention to go lay down for a nap myself after this.

Just life. It is refreshing.

Today feels like home in every way.

The word "home" is relative isn't it? Virginia was home growing up, Utah became home in college, Houston became home as a family with our two little boys, and now unlikely as it is, Saudi is home.

It feels like home.Our kitchen painted a light cool tan. Actually the exact color of my favorite PB bowl, just by coincidence. Not a huge change, just enough to warm the walls up and make it more home than plain white. Another view. This is also where we took down the circa 1970 overhang cabinets over the sink and added extra lighting. You can also see the wall color a little better next to the molding of the pantry door. All I need now are counter saddle bar stools in rustic black. Yeah, I know, good luck finding those in the kingdom. Hugs, A

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Just a FEW things happening over the past few days.

So glad yesterday is over. Double duty. Teaching RS to a group of spiritual giants has a way of humbling you. Then Mike and I presented a youth fire side on communication. All went well, only one young man fell asleep. Can I call that a success?

Our sweet, sweet ride is having some not so sweet problems. It's leaking coolant and some other issues. We are waiting for some guy to come pick it up and take it into town to be repaired. No idea how long the Burb will be out of commission. I'm a bit depressed about it actually. A combination of how long it will be gone and the fear of how much it might cost to repair.

Took the boys into see the pediatrician this afternoon. We were the only expats at the clinic. I was nervous about the doctor. I picked one who was US board certified and had studied in the States. This doc did his residency at Texas Childrens. I was relieved to walk in and see a very westernized doc. The boys liked him and I was pretty happy as well. Was he the most thorough, not really. Didn't ask for any medical history. He just took our word for it and gave us some referrals - ENT and allergist- and then refilled some prescriptions for us. He did check the boys ears. One of Owen's tubes is on it's way out. We follow up with the ENT in Feb. (The soonest we could get in.)

The Doctor asked Owen if he could look in his ear. Owen looked at him and said "no." Funny kid. Carter on the other hand went first and talked Owen through the whole process. "Look Owen, he look in my ear, It don't hurt buddy. See I'm ok." Totally endearing.

Stopped traffic today. Literally, Carter and I were walking a long the cross walk in front of the hospital. A little truck stopped so we could finish getting across the road when an impatient man in a van honked and hit the truck. Both men in thobes got out looked at the trucks and got back in and drove off. I felt a bit guilty we were a contributing factor.

I'm feeling antsy all over again. I'm feeling the need to nest, to paint some walls, put some pictures up, buy some more furniture, put the boys room together and unpack some more of the boxes left in the garage. When this feeling comes I start to REALLY miss the Home Depot. The one stop shop for everything I would need to fulfill this need to settle in. I admit right before Christmas I kind of gave up and was too tired to worry about settling. The nostalgia of the holidays have worn off and now it's time to get back to business.

I've also decided that I would rather spend my time at the gym when the boys are in school instead of heading into town. Must be part of the January start over, feel better, shed some pounds mentality that seems to dominate a lot of resolutions. It's also part of the save more spend less resolution as well.

Oh, Finally tried Coke Zero. Not bad. Might have to replace the original with no calories. I'm still talking myself into it. As we speak two cases of each are being chilled in the extra fridge in the garage.

That's it. No more ramblings or thoughts for the night. The boys are in bed and I plan to enjoy the quiet and do a little vegging out with my hubby.

Just because I can't write another post without a photo.
Have you ever wondered what a Dille Double Fake Melt Down looks like?
Well wonder no more.
Miss you guys! Hugs, A

Friday, January 21, 2011


I've been trying to get an official sunbeam photo of Carter for the past three weeks. This is a big step. Goodbye nursery; playtime, snacks and hello Primary; sharing time, singing time and classroom time.

He was SO excited the very first day. He jumps up right after sacrament and exclaimed "It's time to go to Primary!"

So here is our three year old sunbeam/model right after church. Still rocking the tie's. It's his outfit of choice and snarls at me if I want to put him in a polo or sweater.

Seriously, so handsome.
The GQ face.
Lay on the floor Cheese face. The Mad face.
The sad face. Looks more pain than sad.
The "I'm over this" face.

Pink Berry and Pork.

Thursday was a DOUBLE yummy day!
We loaded up the kids in the morning and left the country. I know, how spontaneous are we, right?
It was Bahrain (remember just a short trip over the causeway an hour or so) or bust for our little family on the hunt for real pork.

There was much success.
Breakfast Burrito with pork sausage.
It really was almost the size of his head with fresh made salsa.
A side of bacon with breakfast for me. Almost four months without, it was awesome. Mouth watering pork bacon at an American cuisine country kitchen called Ric's. This was our first visit and not our last. With full bellies we went out for a little shopping and bribed the boys with Pink Berry when we were done.

Pink Berry, by far the BEST frozen yogurt I have EVER had. Complete with fresh fruit toppings. Google it, and if you have one near you RUN and go get some. You are seriously missing out on something fantastic! Made it to the grocery store and much to my surprise there in the baking section was a fully stocked shelf of canned pumpkin. (Remember this is also a hot commodity and rare.) I didn't hold back the expat in me hoarded. I bought 8 cans and spent WAY too much on them. Then I left thinking, why didn't I buy more? This way I'll have a pantry full and can pay it forward to another newbie like I was taken care of.

Quick trip home by 5 with the rest of the night ahead of us. Lucky for us the Causeway wasn't bad either way.

Here's just a glance of the customs line on the way to Bahrain. About 8 lanes merge into 2 here, and by "merge" I mean - ram into each other, don't take turns, every man for himself, reach out and touch the passing car within inches, hold your breath and pray you make it through the car line in one piece. This picture doesn't even do it justice.
Happy Pork Eating for those back in the States.
Hugs, A

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Unheard of.

Today something is happening that is really, almost, unheard of here in the sandbox.
It's Raining!
Real rain. Not just a few sprinkle here and there.
Genuine, make everything wet, roll down the streets, wash the sand away, you need to run inside to keep from being soaked, keep your windshield wipers going, kind of rain- today.
Carter asked for the umbrella when I picked him up from school. I don't believe we packed one for the desert. Too bad, because today we could have used it. Really today may be the only real day that we could use it.

If it wasn't so cold outside I'd let the toddlers lose to play in it. For now we'll just have to enjoy it from our front porch.Carter and his friend Jordan.
Owen is in the other room napping.

The cold rainy day makes me want to stay inside, bake something warm and yummy and take a nap. Although I believe the odd of getting these two 3 year olds asleep may not be very great. We'll settle for a movie, reclining couches and soft blankets.
Enjoy your day! We plan to!

Monday, January 17, 2011


First morning EVER for me to drop Carter off at preschool and cry. It's been a rough week for him and it was hard to leave him. It's not like him at all to cling to me and have to be pried off by a teacher to stay. This proved to be too much for me today. I had to turn and leave him, once I got out the door I cried. I'm hoping this will be the low point and everything will go up and back to normal tomorrow.

Carter was moved into the older class last week when school started. He is now the second youngest in his little class and it's mostly girls. This has been a big adjustment for him. Not necessarily being the youngest, but being with a whole new set of kids. For the past week he's been coming home and telling me "those guys are not my friends... (this person) is mean and not my friend." When we skyped with the grandparents last night and this is what he chose to tell them, I knew there was something up.

I'm grateful he's in a preschool with one of the most loving and attentive ladies ever. She quickly responded and addressed my concerns. She and his teachers today paid special attention to Carter to figure out what indeed is happening.

I believe, well we believe, he's having a hard time adjusting to the new class and may be having some insecure feelings. The person he says is "mean" is actually the one that he desperately wants to be friends with. He's having to step up his game and learn to socialize on a different level with the older kids.

Carter likes to growl and talk in a deep raspy voice. He doesn't understand that other kids don't like this, and well his family doesn't either. He is having to learn what things are ok and what things are not. It is not ok, to growl at your friends. It is not ok to be mean to them. If you do those things, they won't want to be friends with you.

These things seem so easy to us. But when you look at it through a three year old eyes you realize they aren't. There is so much to teach him, so much to show him and so much love that he needs to be given to be reassured that he is special, loved and great.

There's a lot that I need to learn as a mom of a three year old too. I want him to be happy. I want him to enjoy school, playing with his friends and learning. Having him come home and report to me each day what has happened is a big step. It's hard not being there with him to protect him and know exactly what is happening. I can't even imagine how it will be when he goes to real school, or middle school, or yikes- high school and when both boys are teenagers.

I later received an email this afternoon from his teacher with some more encouraging news. One of his best buds Lawson is being moved into his class and she thinks this should help. I agree, this is fantastic news and I know both boys will be excited to see each other.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Four Quick Updates.

Owen 33.4 lbs.
Working on his very last baby tooth, back top left molar. This one is a beast and his temperament the past few days has matched it. Owen has also discovered a new form of temper tantrum, pure and unwavering screaming at the top of his lungs when he is not happy, something is taken away or you do something that he doesn't agree with. Hello, Two.

Owen continues to talk and can repeat almost anything you say to him. He's starting to use more words together and it's pretty cute to have a conversation with him. Last week while pulling into the dining hall we hear this from the backseat. "I'm hungry daddy." In this tiny little voice, just matter the fact.
Carter 40 lbs.
My 3.5 year old is giving up naps. Every few days he'll take one, then we all pay for it at night when he is wide eyed awake until past 10. The days he doesn't nap he passes out around 7:30. I'm torn.

Carter continues to be a great big brother. He loves to read to Owen and share his food with him. He is also coming into his own and has an opinion about almost everything. He will change clothes three times a day if I let him. His favorite things are gym shorts, gym pants, sweatshirts and the new long sleeve t-shirts (mostly the football one) I pulled out of our shipment.

Last night I made my first loaf of bread from scratch. I've always wanted to bake bread at home but have never attempted. Perhaps because I thought it would be too hard, too messy, take too much time, or I just thought I couldn't do it.

I found a 110v Bread maker in town and tried that in the morning. The bread here is awful and is made with palm oil which we hear is bad for you. It didn't work. I blamed the bread maker, turns out it was the person adding ingredients that messed up while she was rushing to get ready for church.

I was determined yesterday that I WOULD indeed successfully make a loaf of bread. Partly, because I am craving a Marv n Joe (if you're a USU Aggie you'll know what I'm talking about.)

So I tried the bread maker again and made a loaf of honey wheat with the kitchen aid and my own two hands. Both loaves turned out and the one from scratch was WAY better than the bread maker. Turns out, it wasn't too hard, or too messy, or even too much, best part of it all is that I COULD do it.

Some days something little like this starts out small, then suddenly morphs into a challenge of will and determination related not at all to the original task. Just to do it, not be defeated, but win. I did and so far we've already devoured half of the delicious loaf.

Dinner Tonight. Seriously, so GOOD.
Really enjoys the group he works with. He's no longer the newest guy and is continuing to find his way and his role. He splurged for Christmas and purchased an IPad. Not something we normally do. We are not a tech savvy couple and he's more frugal about these sorts of things. I'm pretty sure he loves it and wishes he had more time to use it and add some more apps and other fun stuff.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Park Morning.

We hosted playgroup again this past week and decided it was time to return to the park. It was a little chilly, but even those days need to be enjoyed here because there are indeed rare. The sun was out, it warmed up by 10 and there was plenty of wide open spaces to run and jungle gyms to be scaled.
Owen and Louie.
Owen is our mountain climber. If there is a will and way it will be conquered by this kid. Carter ran around most of the time we were out. He chased the girls, played in the sand, scaled the tube slide and had a fantastic time doing it all. We dug in the sand.
We do live in the desert now, so this is something I have had no choice but to get use to and accept. We chased and kicked balls around on the basketball court. Owen was at this for almost half an hour all by himself. Kicking, laughing and running.
Here's the view of the park from the basketball court. It's a great park and only a few blocks from our house. Even now when I see all of the palm trees I feel a bit like we are on vacation at some resort. Except now it's just in our backyard.
You can see the large group of moms and tots we had come out. It was such a great morning to be out and play.
We stayed long after playgroup was over. The boys were so happy I thought why not.
So four hours later... we went home.


One word to describe last night would be Delicious!
We ate hamburgers, french fries and drank fountain Coke with crushed ice just like Sonics. Um, yes, I was in heaven. They had me at Coke and crushed ice.

Funny thing is, I don't remember Johnny Rockets being any good in Houston. But in Saudi it was awesome. Seriously, the best hamburger, maybe even meal, in the past three months.

We took a new family out with us, Cody, Julianna and their little boy Louie (2). They've been here for a week and we are so happy to have them. Owen now has another little friend in nursery, bringing the total to three boys. Julianna came to dinner with a plan. A DVD player in which we lined the boys up and they sat quiet watching and eating dinner. We were able to enjoy our food and have a conversation. We joked that maybe that was why the meal was so yummy. We were able to eat it warm. Life of a mom I suppose isn't it.

Another surprise of the night was Owen pounding a hamburger. Also surprising was the night before when he ate half a plate of salad. Iceburg lettuce and dressing. I took a few pictures of him eating his first hamburger. He was not holding back and enjoyed everything as well. Yup, that's my kid.


Last Friday we had our first little dinner party after church. 8 adults and 7 boys (5 boys pictured on the couch- 1 toddler in the playroom and a napping baby in our room). I'm not going to lie, I was nervous about that many boys in our little house. But it was great, not a thing broken and not one throw down either.

Here are the boys after dinner watching a movie. Didn't leave the couch for almost an hour. There was silence in the other room. Unbelievable really. The adults sat around the dining room table and chatted. It was nice.I made chicken tortilla soup (my favorite tex-mex recipe from Lindsay). I knew it was a success when Zach, the oldest and pickiest boy in the group told me he "really liked it" and finished all that we dished up for him.
After this I may be brave and do it again.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Today was a good day.
But in a good way.

The boys are now back in school, awe- I feel a sense of normalcy returning.
Although I do have to admit I miss sleeping in with the boys until 8 and not having to be in a hurry to go anywhere. That part is taking a bit more time to get back into the swing of things.

We've been late the past two mornings. Only to rush into school and find that I am not the only mom struggling to get back at it and are late too. Suddenly I don't feel so bad about myself and laying in bed for an additional five minutes. Ha. It's all relative isn't it.

So after the school drop offs I headed into town with two friends. Made it to two stores and then sped back to camp to pick up the boys. Two hours flies by so fast!

Came home to a CLEAN house. One of my favorite parts of living here is having a houseboy. Ali comes twice a week now to help me clean the house. I came back this morning to clean bathrooms, floors and kitchen. This ALWAYS makes me happy. Mike too, because I no longer bug him about helping me. Instead he walks in the door and I merely say, thank you. Mike knows exactly what I am thanking him for and smiles. Yes, a definite perk to being here. Back home we never would have done this.

Made it to lunch bunch with ladies from the ward. Even took the boys and they didn't seem to destroy anything at the hosts house. Success.

Carter went home with a sweet friend from the ward for the afternoon to play. I can't believe he's now big enough to just send home with someone else to play for a few hours.

Owen and I came home. We snuggled with a warm blanket and I rocked my two year old to sleep. It's been a long time since we did this. The house was quiet and it was so nice to just hold Owen and enjoy him and a little time just the two of us. This kid still melts my heart.

Owen took a nap and I worked out in the living room.
I conquered the "mother of all workouts" P90X style. Well that's what the guy kept telling me as I was panting through each interval.

It's been so hard to make it to the gym here. Finding a time and someone to watch the boys. I haven't given up. Just being more realistic with my expectations and am now trying the p90X workout on days I can't make it in. So far so good. Feeling a little sore and that's just enough to make me feel accomplished and good about myself again.

Then tonight we had a babysitter come watch the boys and we went out on a double date. We went with Jen and Brad downtown and had a great meal. The restaurant was pretty empty and we were able to sit by the window. Rarely happens, remember family seating is usually hidden somewhere in the back or side so the ladies can unveil to eat. It was awesome to enjoy a good meal and indulge in adult conversations and laugh. Genuine laughter with new friends.

Normally we hang out with all of our kids, which is always fun. But tonight it was great to hang out and not worry about a two year old leaping from the kitchen table or my three year old dumping the contents of every toy container out onto the floor.

We came home to two sleeping boys and a warm apple pie the Conner's dropped off with a can of pumpkin (a hot commodity here and rare to find.) Awesome.

It's been a good day. Really just a busy, happy day. No real melt downs from the boys, no big issues with the house, just a day spent out and about with good company. I covet days like today.

We're doing well.
Finding our way.
Enjoying days like today.
Hugs, A

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Our last stop in Hofuf was to see the caves. I had no idea what we would see and I was a bit surprised by it all. What natural wonders surround each of us and how often do we take them for granted. It's a beautiful world we have been blessed with. In the middle of the vast desert there are places like this.
Inside the Caves.
Carter and his bud Lawson. You can see all of the dust inside too, it was pretty thick is some places.
The potter outside of the caves.
This is his little shop and he also lives here. Complete with his own little chicken coop attached. He was so excited to see our bus pull up and loved showing the kids how he makes the pottery from the local clay.
Carter picked out one of the clay goblets. He calls it his "O" because it's shaped like one on the top.
Owen picked out a hand woven hat.
A few photos of Hofuf from the top of a large rock outside of the caves. Hofuf is a natural Oasis that is known for it's Date Palms. Looking at these photos you can understand why it is one of the oldest cities. When you find this in the middle of the desert, you stay put.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Our adventures in Hofuf continued to the downtown souks area for a little shopping and exploring. We went into a few antique stores. Here is Carter and a few of his friends (part of the Collins and Bellair clans) on the front step s. He is always so happy to hang around other kids. Mike and Owen outside of the shop.
Right around the corner was this great mustard colored door. What I wouldn't give to take this home with me. The doors here are amazing. Old building literally sometimes in ruin and then a fantastic rod iron and wooden door. A look down one of the back alleys. After a little shopping we went back to the fort in the center of town. Can't remember how old or the history of it, but I believe this use to BE the city. It's old, and I mean, really old. Sand, mud and grass old building old.
A view of the mosque inside. The white is just gleaming and beautiful. Another view from the inside in another direction.
Brad and Mike standing outside of the well after corralling kids away from it. One of those wells that you have no idea how deep it is, but also have do desire to learn that either. It's us.
Owen and mom.
The boys up a few levels walking the perimeter of the fort.
We then loaded back on the bus and headed off to the Caves and to see the Potter. Let the excitement continue and it wasn't even noon yet.