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Friday, September 30, 2011

700

It's official. I've hit 700 posts. 702 actually.

And to be even more specific, this post will make 703.

703 times I have logged on and written about our lives.

3 and a half years in the making and we've hit 700! I'm a little amazed.

And if 700 posts have taught me anything, it is that a post on nothing but the amount of posts you have written is not really a good post.

So, moving on.

We've taken the weekend off and are on a little retreat/getaway for Ian's 25th birthday with some friends of ours.

We have big plans of eating, shopping, and, you know, being around actual civilization.

We got word from Ian's company that our car will be taken away come January, for financial reasons. bleh.

Did I mention that Ian turns 25 this weekend? And that Grace turns 6 months? And that we are starting her on solid foods? Time sure does fly!

We've been watching the first season of Community, and we've really enjoyed it. It is different, but funny! As soon as you accept that it is not a different version of The Office, it is great!

I'm off to enjoy my weekend! I hope you do too!!

Friday, September 23, 2011

21, 22, 23, 24

(I L-O-V-E this picture...it might be one of my all time favorites!)



Look who is sitting up all by herself!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Our Weekend

Outside my window...Sand and lots of it. A bunch of men playing cricket in the lot next door. Scooters and men. The temperatures have begun to drop here though. Funny, but "only" 100 degrees out doesn't make me pass out like it used to!

I am thinking
that my week looks too busy for comfort. I hate when I am so overwhelmed that I feel like I can't do anything. The proverbial deer-in-the-headlights scenario.

I am smelling
chocolate brownies and cinnamon room spray. I create for myself Fall in any way that I can!

I am thankful
for friends, both old and new who hold me when I'm down and make me laugh.

From my kitchen-
Moroccan Chicken and couscous, baked ziti and garlic bread, chicken pot pie with homemade pie crust.

I am wearing
comfy pajamas after ridding myself of my ironed school clothes.

I am creating
a better schedule to live by. Life with a baby is tough on my study habits. And also, a fall wreath. Because the two go hand in hand, don't you think? No time to study? Eh. Might as well make a wreath.

I am going
along with the flow of things. Nap time for Grace means nap time for me!

I am reading
my Arabic text books, the book of Luke, and

I am hoping
Grace sleeps through the night. And that I complete my homework.

I am hearing
my new neighbor drilling holes in the wall, Grace crying from her crib, the click of our ceiling fan.

We Decided
on what our family devotional should look like. Now to implement....

Our Music-
Jack Johnson, worship in Arabic, classical music

Our Viewing-
the entire Bourne trilogy, Eddie Murphy's Imagine That, and an episode of Dance Moms!

One of my favorite things- my new food processor! I'm so excited for all of the things that it can do. It is no KitchenAid Mixer (ahh, one day!) but it made mixing pie dough, dicing chicken, and chopping onions, all that much faster. And it will soon be put to use making baby food!

We're looking forward to getting caught up on things that we have let slip. These past two-three weeks have been a whirlwind and hopefully things will settle down/fall into a routine.

A Glimpse Within-(I'm a good wife. Even though we live in a divided household, with me being a lifelong fan of the University of Florida and Ian being a fan of the University of Georgia, I'll dress my daughter in his team's garb to make him happy.

Even if she'd look a lot cuter in blue and orange.

And even if my team is better.)

Monday, September 12, 2011

17, 18, 19, 20

I'm a little behind but here are Grace's weekly pictures for 17-20 weeks. My baby is getting so big!







Saturday, September 10, 2011

End of Year Resolutions

It may only be September, but Fall flowing into Winter always feels like a rush of days and I often find myself thinking about the Holiday season and the New Year right after Labor Day.

It got me thinking about my resolutions for the year and *gasp* I realized I never set any!

I was big ol' pregnant and in the middle of language school (still am, I suppose. In language school, that is, not big ol' pregnant.) and didn't want to put any added pressure on myself.

It was probably wise thinking on my part, but now I'm wishing I accomplished something big on a checklist, besides, you know, birthing a human.

I had a great year with my resolutions in 2009 (read the Old Testament, wrote 300 blog posts, and read 50 books,) but failed epically with my 2010 goals (try 50 new recipes, memorize 25 Scripture verses, and complete project 365.)

Not wanting to set myself up for failure, I have set some smaller, more manageable goals for the rest of 2011.

*Memorize 5 pieces of Scripture
*Complete Grace's baby blanket (that I started last year!)
*Be one credit card out of two, out of debt
*Figure out the perfect brownie recipe
*Order a photo book from our France vacation

And that's it! I think that some of these will occur naturally while some will have to take a little forethought and planning.

Ian and I have been talking lately about what success means to me and how I need to feel successful at something, which living in a foreign country and learning a new language has not helped with. I hope, at the end of the year, to be able to look back and feel proud of all that I have accomplished and that I feel successful!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Happy Five Months, Grace!

Five months old! I can't believe how quickly the time is passing by. Her month four was a whirlwind of adventure and change. Our little newborn is completely in the infant stage, with learning, growing, and changing taking center stage in her little life. I thank God for her every day and pray that Ian and I can be the best parents for her as possible.

This post is a week late, but due to arriving home from vacation and then the start of the school year, things have gotten a little mixed up!

Grace had her four month check up this week (even though she is five months, her doctor was out of town the first half of the month, and then we were out of town the second half.) Our girl is growing!

Height: 25.2 inches (50th percentile)
Weight: 13.6 pounds (25th percentile)
Head Circumference: 16.3 inches (50th percentile)

She's held steady at the same percentages, so the doctor is very happy with her growth. She is not a big baby, by any standards, but she isn't particularly tiny either.

Our Doctor explained that her dark pink birth mark is called a port wine stain (it is on the back of her head,) the most common of birth marks, and that it should get dark red when she cries and should fade to nothing around her first birthday (or get covered up by hair.)

She got two shots and one oral immunization and then we were on our way! We'll have to go back in 6 weeks for her 6 month check up, in order to get back on schedule, but we're excited to keep up with her growth!

Clothes:
Not much has changed here...Grace is still in 0-3 month clothes and has at least another month in them, if not longer.

Food: Grace nurses every three hours from 7 am until 7 pm, with a "dream feed," right before I go to sleep, usually around 11:30. She also eats 2-3 tablespoons of cereal (mixed with 4-6 tablespoons of water,) each night at 6. She loves her cereal thick and has been great at leaning forward, opening her mouth, and taking all of the cereal off of the spoon! Our doctor wants us to wait until she is 6 months to start other foods and we are okay with that!

Sleep: Grace's sleep got disrupted while we were on vacation. There was alot of cat napping going on in her stroller or in her carrier, and her nighttime sleep was horrible. Seriously, I don't know if I can explain to you how awful it was. She would only sleep swaddled and with her pacifier in her mouth, but we had no AC for most of the time and she would over heat or the pacifier would fall out and then she would wake up. She would really only sleep for about 30-45 minutes at a time.

Of course, as soon as we set foot back in our house, she was fine again! We let her have two nights of good sleep to recuperate and then we weaned her from her swaddle an the pacifier (sort of.) She sleep fine without the swaddle now (it took about 3-4 days to wean her from this,) and though she sometimes wakes up and wants her pacifier (usually around the 1 hour mark for a nap and around the 3 hours mark of night sleep,) we let her cry it out and she usually goes back to sleep within 5-10 minutes.

Activity: Grace learned to blow a raspberry this month, found her feet, learned to be with out her swaddle, can put her pacifier back in all by herself, and started laughing more easily.

Personality: Grace likes her cuddle time but has been working on more independent play time lately. She can usually entertain her self for 10-15 minutes at a time but we are working on stretching that to a 20 minute mark.

Miscellaneous:

*Grace traveled to Europe, stayed in her first hotel, and saw beautiful landmarks in Paris.
*Grace had her first food while in Europe- Lemon Sorbet!
*Grace started her first foods, rice cereal, this month!
*Grace loves to sit in a tripod sit, almost unassisted, and likes to be pulled onto her feet to stand.
*She loves music and songs, and will almost always smile or laugh if we sing her anything.
*She was loving her teething rings, but then I tried to sterilize them and ended up melting them. Lesson learned.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Grace and Food

The very day we got back from our France vacation, August 24th, we started Grace on food.

I really wanted to wait until Grace was 6 months old, since I have had allergies before (chocolate and peanut butter- praise the Lord I am no longer allergic) but during vacation, two things happened:

1.) Grace showed that she was ready for food. She could sit up for long periods of time and her head no longer bobbled. She had recognized that meal times meant that things went in our mouths and began grabbing for our plates or utensils.

2.) I read that though it is best to hold off on introducing food- foods to a baby until 6 months, that it was recommended to start the baby getting used to the spoon and swallow skills prior to that.

I also knew that with de swaddling and shifting her schedule around to get ready for the school year, it would be a great time to "schedule in" her real food eating, since the schedule would be new anyways.

So, away we went.

Rice Cereal, infant spoon, and some warm milk.

The meal of my dreams.

Not!

Though it did surprisingly look like Grits and made me crave those!
Here is Grace, unsure about what is taking place.

And here is her best "deer in the headlights," look. Priceless.

Be prepared! (anyone here the hyenas from the Lion King when you hear that phrase? I do.)

She wasn't too happy about something coming into her mouth when it wasn't on her own volition.

Tastes....interesting, huh Grace?

Not too bad after all!

Grace ate the entire bowl full!

We feed her every night between her late afternoon feed and her bedtime feed. Last week, we upped the amount, to 2 tablespoons of rice cereal mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water and 2 tablespoons hot water.

She eats the whole thing in less than 15 minutes, relatively mess free.

That is, if she doesn't try to shove her fists in her mouth while eating.

Silly baby.

I guess I'll have to teach her some table matters sooner, rather than later!

I'll wait until after our doctor gives us the okay to proceed onto other foods, but it has been so amazing to see how fast she took to eating off of a spoon. By day two she was leaning forward, opening her mouth, and then closing it around the spoon!

I can't wait to see how she takes to other foods, but for now, I'll cherish these days with a simple and quick meal.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Family in Paris

We only spent 3 nights (a half day, two full days, and a half day,) in Paris, France, but we had a great time while we were there!

I should preface this all by saying that you could spend weeks in Paris and not see everything, but we covered all of the major landmarks in 2.5 days, easy.

Our train from the south of France got in around 2 pm, we got a taxi and went and checked into our amazing hotel. Now, I was a little worried about our hotel. I'm no 5-star visitor, but I am a hotel snob.

A mid-range hotel snob, I suppose.

I expect clean rooms, with AC, and friendly service.

And I want the grout in my bathroom to be unstained, is that too much to ask?

I knew we really would only be sleeping in our hotel, but I still wanted some place that was relaxing and clean.

Our hotel, the Mercure near the Eiffel tower, was wonderful.

The staff checked us in early, helped point us in the right direction, and helped us set up a shuttle to the airport at the end or our stay.

And the view!

Though we couldn't see the entire Eiffel tower, we saw about 2/3 of it from our window, and at night it lights up and is just breathtaking!

The location was pretty amazing as well. A ten minute walk and you were at the Eiffel Tower, which was also one of the stops of our hop-on, hop-off L'Open Tour Bus. (Which, by the way, I would recommend to anyone who ever goes to Paris- buy the 2 day pass and you can get to just about any tourist spot in Paris with a relaxing bus ride!)

Another plus for where we stayed was that it wasn't right in the heart of tourist land, so we got to see a bit of real life in Paris and our restaurant options were a notch lower in price than the ones closer to tourist spots.
Our first day there we saw the Eiffel Tower and went up to the top. By the time we did that (and read all of the interesting signs about the tower,) we were beat and headed back home. We stopped at a little grocery store and stocked up on bottled water, sandwich meat and cheese, bread, and a few snack items. I would really recommend you do something like this if you ever travel to a big city. We saved close to 100-200 dollars just by being able to not buy a few snacks, water, and a lunch or two! Plus we didn't have to track down suitable food when that hunger struck!

Ian dropped Grace off at the hotel to get changed (we were soaked in sweat since it was so hot!) and he went and picked up pizza....with HAM!!

Please understand, ham, bacon, or any other form of pork product was a high priority on our food list.

Ian brought back our pizzas and our first night ended watching TV in bed (a luxury!) and watching the sparkling Eiffel tower out our window.

The second day we had passes for L'Open Tour's hop-on, hop-off, so we headed to our pick up point and went straight to Notre Dame Cathedral. We walked around, toured the inside, and had lunch sitting in the shade by the Seine River.

We took our bus to the Musee D'Orsay to see the Impressionist paintings and also fell in love with their Orientalism section.

Ian gashed his toe on a protruding pipe on the sidewalk outside but we carried on, going to see the Champs Elysee and getting to see the Arc de Triomphe. Having Grace with us got us a lot of "go directly to Go" passes- meaning we got to skip lines and take elevators instead of stairs! Grace had a major blow out diaper and I changed her on a bench on the Champs Elysee, amidst tons of tourists and shoppers. I know, I'm a classy person.

Our last stop of the day was to Les Invalides, a hospital for war veterans that also houses the country's military museums and is where Napoleon Bonaparte is entombed. We got there just one hour before it closed so we were rushed and did not get to see much of the museum part, but what we did see was really interesting.

We walked back to our hotel and got dinner at an Italian restaurant nearby.

The next day we took the bus to the Louvre, bright and early. It is definitely important to get there early so that you don't have to wait in the long lines and so that you can get a head start on seeing this MASSIVE museum!

We were there for most of the day and probably only laid eyes on 1/4 of everything.

Their maps show the "most important," things though so we got to see the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, the Code of Hammurabi, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, and a few more. My favorite things though, were in the exhibits from Babylon and Mesopotamia, pieces of historical evidence that corroborates the Bible!

We had to take several breaks in the museum cafeteria, in order to feed Grace and rest our legs, but we had packed a snack so we only had to buy food once.

We left the Louvre and headed to Notre Dame Cathedral, because we had read about a classical concert that was being held that night and because we wanted to go to the top of the Cathedral, which had been closed on Sunday for mass.

Unfortunately, by the time we got there the tours were over and then we found out the concert would cost us a pretty penny. So we decided not to do it and went and had dinner at a cafe, ice cream from a famous place I had read about (it really wasn't any good,) and took the bus back to the tower.

We waited around to see the lighting of the tower and then hurried back to our hotel in the rain.

Our final morning there, we packed up, left our suitcases behind the front desk, and went for a stroll through the Parisian neighborhood. We ended up back by the Eiffel Tower and bought a few postcards and a key ring to use as an ornament.

We ate lunch at the Italian restaurant again and then went back to the hotel to wait for our airport shuttle.

Our whole trip felt like two different vacation: the first part was lazy and relaxed with close friends and lots of laughter while the second part was quick paced and full of new things to see as a family!

If you are ever going to Paris and need some travel tips, let me know and I can send my "research," your way!