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Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Month and A Half

A month and a half ago my kids and I survived a harrowing two day drive (without Ian!) We arrived in Annapolis and signed on our new home. One day later the moving truck arrived with all of our things and we were able to begin settling in. It felt so good- six months of wondering if we should move back to the US followed by almost six months of uncertainty of where we would end up concluding with a new home in a beautiful town with a good job.

The Lord provides, even if we still don't understand why He brought us back.

The kitchen came together quickly, running lots of loads in the dishwasher and figuring out the most logical way to organize things.

Luke's room was easy as well. He didn't have much to himself besides some Little People toys and a pack n play.

The girls' room took some thinking. We found the right bookshelf, organized their closet, and finally figured out the right piece of furniture to fit between their beds that was low to the ground so that they could use the top surface for playing with their Calico Critters.

Our room was just a disaster zone. It was where we put all of the unopened boxes so that the kids couldn't get into them. My teaching supplies spilled over everywhere. And the books. Oh, my. The books.

We had sold our Target bookcases in Abu Dhabi thinking they wouldn't survive another international move but then we had the hardest time getting new ones here. We bought and returned SIX bookcases before I finally just ordered them online. Four had damage and two were the wrong color.

Books put away and order was still far away from us.

And I won't even tell you the hours I put into choosing a kitchen table. Our "breakfast" area in our kitchen is an odd shape and the whole kitchen is small-ish, meaning we really needed an all white table. Weeks after moving in we finally decided on one and ordered it. It was so good to stop having meals on the floor- a 5, 3, and 1 year old are not very clean and tidy.

We also knocked out some landscaping over Labor Day weekend. It's not finished but I think it's enough for the winter- I'm worried about putting stuff in so close to cold weather and it not surviving.

We are waiting on the last few pieces of the family room to come together but other than that we are settled in! Praise God for a place that is home.

I loved that last week Grace came up to me and said "This is a really good home, Momma!" That means alot coming from a girl who had a hard time leaving her home and her friends in Abu Dhabi.

Picture tour to come of our new home!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Luke is 16 months old!

Luke is 16 months old!

I can't believe it has been four months since he turned one! That means we have been in the US for almost four months.

It sure feels like longer than that.

But this little guy...

Time just needs to pause for him. He is growing and changing too fast for my comfort!

Luke is:

Wearing: Size 12-18 month clothes but is ready to move up! Too bad his next size is packed away in our storage unit!

Size 5 shoes, but he's ready to move up to size 6!

Size 4 diapers. Also, ready to move up. I'm sensing a trend. Perhaps I should move our little guy up. At least it's not because of sentimental reasons. At least it is because of the chaos of an international move!

Eating: Any sort of fruit or yogurt. He's had a bit of a food regression with the cutting of teeth #9-12 right now. We had to switch him back to formula after being on full milk when his stomach had some issues. I haven't had the energy to try switching him back. He likes feeding himself but won't use a spoon if its handle is too short and gets messy. Funny kid.

Sleeping: Through the night, for the most part. Poor little guy has been moved around every 3 weeks for five months now! It takes him awhile to settle in and then we move him! Plus, every time he cuts a tooth his sleep is a disaster. He is definitely the worst teether we have had. Luke also still naps two times a day, for 2 hours each, from 8-10 am and from 1-3 pm. He sleeps from 7pm until 6-7 am.

Saying: Eggs, Moon, HI!, Eyes, Trash, Bubbles, and he signs about 2 dozen different things, his favorite being fish and milk. He is not saying very many things yet but has sounds or signs that he uses to communicate and can usually let us know what he wants. He does love making different animal noises and recognizes 10 or so animals.

Reading: Goodnight Moon! All three of our kids have gone through a phase where they are obsessed with this book. Luke is right now and he asks for it before each nap and bedtime, points to some specific things and wants me to make all of the sound effects to go along with it.

Playing: Luke LOVES cars and cooking in a play kitchen! Balls, chalk, and bubbles are his favorite out door activities. Plus, pressing anything with a button/that makes noise.

Luke has loved living with the grandparents and makes himself right at home. I think it will be so good for him to have his own space, and a routine that he can count on! We can't wait to see how he blossoms and his first little friends that he will make when we settle in to our new life in Annapolis.

Slow down, little guy! We are so excited about each new thing you learn to do and your (usually,) joyous attitude!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Priorities When Moving

We're moving!


Ian's accepted a job in Annapolis, Maryland, so we will make our way north of the Mason-Dixon line in the next couple of weeks. (which I'm sure will be an experience all by itself.)

We are so excited to be on our way to being settled after months of unsettled life.

Poor Grace is rather confused about our current status. She's either crying about missing Abu Dhabi or asking where we are living right now. "Are we in Tennessee? Or Minnesota? Or Florida?" It's high time we get ourselves an actual address and start to figure out the whole "Where are you going to kindergarten," thing.

Plus, we've been living out of suitcases and the space in our parents' closets for FOUR months. Crazy.

As we wrap our heads around moving to a place we've never lived in before (though Ian did vacation there as a two year old, so there is always that,) there are the normal questions you ask yourself:

Where are we going to live?
What are our neighbors going to be like?
Will Grace make friends?
What church will we go to?
What will day to day life look like?

But then there are the random, but oh so important questions that you look to Google for the answer for, such as:
Where is the nearest Target?
How "cold" is cold in this city?
What are taxes like? (and let me tell you, that moment when I first remembered about Federal taxes was a hard one! None of that when you work overseas!)
Do kids wear uniforms to school?

Priorities, people, priorities.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Happy Birthday, Grace! Part Two

 Grace's fifth birthday happened to fall on the Saturday after Easter this year. In what can only be construed as mom guilt, I felt it was necessary to have an all out party since my child had no friends to celebrate with on or around her actual birthday (due to the move.)

At her first birthday party, in Florida, I had talked her out of a hodge podge princess/dirt cake situation, and instead took the dirt cake inspiration and threw her a garden tea party. It all came together rather quickly. I sent Ian and Grace out to the store in the morning to pick up fresh flowers and balloons and had my parents set up a small table out in their back yard. I'm pretty sure it's just a folding table resting on some crates, but either way it was a great set up. We had colorful paper plates, mugs for hot cocoa (it was a cold and very windy day!) napkin bunnies that my mom folded, and some of Grace's favorite treats.

 Doesn't every little girl ask to have dates at her birthday party?
 Beautiful flowers and cute little bunny ears peeking out of the cups!
 We had towels to sit on and warm, fuzzy blankets to wrap around us to keep cozy.
 We chowed down. Luke LOVED the fruit and made a mess of himself with all of that melon.

 After we ate we played a couple of rounds of an egg/spoon race.
 Around the tree and back!
 Grace and Sophia were pretty excited,
 But their little personalities quickly showed themselves. Sophia followed the rules exactly....
 While Grace found a way to make it happen quickly and to her advantage!
 Afterwards Grace opened a few small presents, including her first Adventures in Odyssey! That makes this momma's heart proud (and to feel really old!)

 We all just love our Gracie girl so much!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Let's Do This Thing

It's naptime in the Galloway household.

Two blissful hours when all three children are tucked into beds and are either slumbering or reading and playing quietly by themselves.

This is usually the time when I collapse on the couch and proclaim myself "word free," for awhile. Ian knew to not even call me from work during this time. I go through phases: sometimes I nap, sometimes I read, sometimes I binge watch Gilmore Girls/Friends. And I almost always think "this is the time I could be blogging," but I never do. That whole "word free," label makes it hard to, you know, write words when you are completely spent from three little *ahem* blessings.

So much has happened in the last three months though, that it comes time to pull up my big girl pants, say goodbye to my no speaking rule, and find the words to describe this.

This place that we are in.
This not knowing. Still.
Not knowing what we are doing.
Or where we are going.
Or what our calling is.

This waiting process.
Irritating, really.

I wouldn't really recommend the whole "quit your job you are passionate about which forces you to move back across the world to a country you have not been a part of for six years to live with your ever gracious parents/inlaws all the while facing unemployment and job hunting" thing. It's really for the birds.

I can't even imagine if our parents were not helpful, hospitable, and kid friendly. It would be a nightmare.

Anyways. So that is where I am coming from. This hard place. I am sure it will all be a thing of the past in the, well, future, and we can throw our heads back, laugh, and say things like "Remember those dark uncertain days of our past?! HA! We are so settled, so certain, and so focused, and are most definitely making responsible life choices!" 

Or, you know, maybe not that exactly.

What I'm trying to say is that I am perfectly aware is that this is just a phase. A season, if you may. We're doing our best to survive this season with as much grace and as many kind words, while making some fun memories with our kids.

So when I write, it's not to share how hard things are or how we have or have not made any progress, (though I am sure I will share when we do!) but to keep track of all of these wonderful moments we are having with our sweet little family of five! 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Happy Birthday, Grace! Part One

Grace turned FIVE YEARS old this April.


I know I should be reveling in the fact that she's so much bigger and older but all I seem to be able to feel is how old that makes me!

I really can't believe five years have gone by since that tiny little peanut of a girl was placed  in our arms. Sleepless nights and all the excitement of the first baby turned quickly into routine and we have loved seeing our girl grow and develop over the years.

As we got ready to move back to the US I had one reoccurring nightmare:
Grace, on her birthday, blowing out a candle on a cake.
In an empty room.
With tears streaming down her face.
She looks up at me and asks "Where are all of my friends?"

And I would wake up in tears.

I knew this scenario, though a bit dramatic, was entirely possible.

I tried my best to brace Grace for the worst. And build up her birthday in whatever way I could!

"YOU get to spend your birthday in America!"
"YOU get to go to Disney for your birthday!"

And there was shameless present bribing.

Grace seemed unfazed until a few days before her actual birthday, when she realized the reality of not being able to invite any friends to her party- Just her boring old family.

Those conversations were heartbreaking, for sure, but we pulled off not one, but two birthday parties with our different sides of the family, and I think she felt loved, cherished, and special, so hopefully that makes up for the lack of playmates.

Her first party ended up being a bit of a mish mash of Sofia the First and Frozen. Her requests for a family dinner included Mimi's chicken, asparagus (her favorite!) sweet potatoes, and cake.

The cake had very specific directions: Pink frosting (vanilla,) Chocolate cake, with gummi worms and dirt cake somehow infused. I finally convinced her to save the worms and dirt cake for her other birthday party and salvaged our princess party cake a bit.

No one says she isn't unique!

Ian's mom helped put together this party and even made us a pin the nose on Olaf game. I can't find a picture anywhere but it was so cute!

Grace got Paw Patrol vehicles and characters, Candy Land, a Sofia the first costume, and some new clothes! The plan was to replace her bike that we sold in Abu Dhabi but we will wait until we know where we are going next to purchase that- one less thing to move!

Grace is such a big personality! She loves people- talking to them, interacting with them, playing with them. She could be with other people 24/7. She loves making jokes and has dubbed herself as "hilarious." Grace is surprisingly athletic. She's a fast runner and picks ups on technique for just about any sport- recently throwing and catching a frisbee and hitting a baseball on a tee!

Grace is so smart. She loves to learn about anything and finds the patterns in everything. She's reading at a second to third grade level and is eager to be able to do more! I'm amazed at her comprehension and retelling skills.

Grace is hurting the most over our move. she wants friends and playdates and stability and her toys and space. She is very excited about the prospect of kindergarten in the fall but gets frustrated that we can't show her where she will be going yet.

Grace is an awesome big sister, especially to Luke. She helps him, soothes him, and cuddles with him. She leads Sophia in imaginative play and helps them create a world to play in. Grace can find friends anywhere and makes it her mission at a park or playground to find someone who will play with her.

I can't wait to see what happens in her five year old life this year. Grace, I pray that the Lord will call you to Him and you will choose to follow Him. I pray that we can point you in the right direction and show you His love, mercy, grace, patience, and teach you of what it means to face consequences for our choices, and the beauty in the fact that we can not bear the full weight of our sins ourselves.

I pray that this year you will have a compassionate heart. You've been so sheltered and lived in a place with much wealth and diversity. I pray that as you settle into this American life that you will still embrace all around you, no matter the capabilities, skin color, or financial status. I pray that you will LOVE deeply all in your class and that you will be an advocate for those that need a friend. And I pray that I can show these to you in my own life.

Grace, I love you sweet girl. I am so thankful for the five years we have had together and what you have already taught me. I love you with all of my heart. Ugga Mugga, baby girl. Here's a hushum from me to you.

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Blank Check

In case you missed it...we are back in the United States of America! And not just for vacation. We have moved back.

We've gotten a mixed reaction to our moving back. Our American friends and family are, understandably, ecstatic. Our international friends or American friends who live overseas are saddened and even disappointed.

If you are like the dozens of people who've already asked us this, here is our answer to your question, "What happened?!"

All of those years ago, before we were even married, Ian and I both looked at our lives and identified our dreams and our callings. For Ian, his dreams and his calling were one and the same. For me, my dreams (teaching, white picket fence, holidays with family,) were not exactly the same as my calling (to see the nations reached for Christ.) Both of us had a blank check in front of us. The blank check was for our lives- our dreams, aspirations, and callings. We handed that check to the Lord and said "Whatever You want to do with our lives, wherever You want to take us, in any timetable that You will."

Shortly after we were married many doors were closed and I was told by that still, small voice, that it was time to hand over my dreams. We both lifted those blank checks up to the Lord again (that had been seemingly uncashed,) and said "These are for You."

It seemed then that God wrote in the "in the amount of," spot: SPEND LIVES ON MISSION FIELD. REACH THE UNREACHABLE. SERVE IN HARD PLACES.

So, off we went. The Blank Check was blank no more.

We went to hard places. Dark places. Spiritually dusty and soul drying places.

We befriended the "unreachables." We lived among them.

Then, over time, we saw that blank check reappear. We were befuddled.

We gave it to You, Lord!
You cashed it in, here we are!
What more is there?

Over months of prayer and anguish, tears and frustration, we saw that the "pay in the amount of," spot was no longer blank. It read: GO BACK. REST. FIND THE NATIONS IN YOUR NATION. SERVE ME WHEREVER I SEND YOU.

No, Lord! We are here, doing what You asked us to do! 
Not many people are willing to be here!
Why would You send us back there? That place is BRIMMING with Christians!

Over time, we reluctantly agreed. We saw God closing doors to our time overseas. No new doors were opening up, mind you, there or here, but our paths were getting fewer and fewer.

With a shrug of our shoulders we relented. The Blank Check of our lives was once more filled out, and, to be obedient, we needed to hand it back to the "Pay to the Order of," God.

I won't lie. It has not been an easy season. No sunshine bursting forth from behind the clouds. No light bulb moment when we finally understand what He is up to.

But here we are.

Hanging out in Florida in our hometown. Explaining grass and trees and squirrels to the girls. Looking into how to buy a car and find a job.

I cling to the cross and remind myself daily of two things:
1.) My identity is not in being a missionary, it is in Christ alone.
2.) I am not called to the nations/overseas life... I am called to follow God.

Sometimes my calling to follow God will lead us overseas but sometimes it will tell us to stay.

I have no doubt that we will be once again presented with the blank check of our lives. I pray now that in that moment we will look to Him and not what our picture of our lives will look like.

If the Pay To the Order of line reads: God
Then the amount line should always read: "Whatever You want to do with our lives, wherever You want to take us, in any timetable that You will."

May we all have the peace to hand the blank check of our lives over to the Author and Creator of life, no matter where it sends us.