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Sunday, March 31, 2013

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Just trying to figure out the Bloglovin world...

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Friday, March 29, 2013

Desert...Two Ways

Being surrounded by the sea on one side and desert on the other means that we get to have some unique experiences quite often.

This past week was no exception.

First of all, we were finally able to go on my birthday "adventure." Yes, my birthday was almost a month and a half a go, but I was not able to arrange babysitting until this past week. I had asked Ian for an adventure instead of a present this year, and I was excited to see what he was surprising me with.

Mostly because that would be one of the first surprises that he really pulled off! Not because he is bad at surprises, but because I am horrible at not guessing.

We started the day by dropping the girls at two different houses, then hitting the road. The only clue I had was that it was going to be outside (so I could dress appropriately for the weather...and sand.)

As soon as we were driving, Ian told me that we were going.....Dune bashing!

I was so excited. This would be something new for me and a little out of my comfort zone. I don't even like go-karting because it feels to me like the car is unstable and unpredictable.

We had a great time. We paid to use the ATV's for one hour and popped on some helmets and off we went! The place we went to was familiar to us because we used to drive by it all the time, looking longingly at the mountain of sand and wishing we could play on it!

I started off slowly but got the hang of it and was able to keep up with Ian. We raced over dunes and along their steep ridges. It felt like we were playing hide and seek, because if you lost sight of each other you would drive to the top of a dune and look out across the desert to see if you cuold spot them on a peak or valley, then you would race off in that direction!

We also drove up to the top of a VERY tall dune, but didn't play on it at all since it was so steep and we didn't want to get stuck. Or, you know, hurt.

I only got stuck once, which I was pretty proud of. I had been following Ian but veered to the left to go up and over a dune, but when I approached the crest I let up on the gas and the ATV stalled out and got stuck in the sand. I had to reverse it all the way down the dune, pick up speed, and try again.

We ended up spending more time driving there and back, but it was great to have uninterrupted time with Ian. We were even able to stop in to a Chili's for Chips, Salsa, and Diet Coke's with ice (oh how I miss ice in a drink!)

 Our second desert adventure happened a week prior, when my women's Bible study joined up with our sister small group for a desert camping trip. Now, I had no intention of going camping again with babies, but we did decide to go out for the afternoon and evening.

We met up with our group at 2:30 and hit the road by 3. Ian and I didn't realize how far out the camping site was and we were quickly in trouble when we realized we were out of gas. Ian knew where a nearby gas station was though so we broke off from the group and headed there. It was the right thing to do, so that we wouldn't run out of gas, but because of some issues at the campsite, we couldn't be met by someone to lead us out there until after 5! That ended up being a long time in the car for  Grace and Sophia, but as soon as we stepped out of the car they perked right up!



We grilled dinner, climbed up dunes, and slid back down them. We got caught up on each other's happenings and met some new friends.



Proof that I was actually there.

And as the sun sank down below the horizon, the 12 kids gathered around the fire to roast marshmallows and sing camp songs. It was a great way to end a fun outing with our small groups!

 And yes. This happened. Boogie board to slide down a sand dune. Ian took Grace down it a couple of time and they had a blast.







Sunday, March 24, 2013

This and That

Time feels like it is moving at warp speed right about now. I keep referring to things that I think happened a week ago, only to realize they happened 3-4 weeks ago!

Read This:

I hadn't felt much like reading over the last month or so, but I finally did. I read Divergent and am halfway through Insurgent, by Veronica Roth. I am loving them! If you like The Hunger Games, Ender's Game, or even The Giver, these books would be up your alley. Yes, I am a book nerd. And the third book comes out this fall!

I love trilogies! 

I also read an article on Perfect Parenting and how we are all holding each other to impossible standards.

Ate That:

The UAE celebrated National Breakfast Day and Ian and I took the girls to the nearest McDonald's that serves breakfast for free food. It just happened to be at the airport and we got to walk the terminal and dream of traveling again soon! I love airports. I love flying. I love traveling!


Ha, we'll see if that is still the case after we fly for more than 24 hours back to the States with two kids, 2 and under!

Bought This:

Decor for Grace's 2nd birthday party. From the party store. Yep, it's going to be about as anti-Pinterest party as it can get, seeing as I bought streamers and balloons. *Gasp* I have really wrestled with the guilt that is now associated with not throwing my child a party that is fit to be spotlighted on the cover of a magazine. And I want all of you mom's out there to know...

It's okay! Your child will love you, your friends will have a blast, and your child will turn another year older. All without you driving yourself to the edge of a nervous breakdown. Please visit a party store, buy the prepackaged party favors, and be okay with it!

I am still coming to terms with it. But this article reminded me to Bring it Down a Notch.

Watched That:

Ian and I had a date night in, cookie dough and a movie! We rented Argo and really loved it.

And I am still digging (ha) Bones and New Girl

Did This:

Snuggled our girl when she got sick. She just went to bed for the night so we'll see how she is in the morning. First time Grace has EVER thrown up and EVER had a fever. Poor baby. She made me smile when she said "Oh no! Mouth!" haha, I always wonder what little kids think is happening to them when they get sick!


Went on a beach play date with my women's Bible study group. Grace and I waded knee deep into the water and picked up crabs in our hands. It was lovely.

Realized I am officially used to Middle East weather. It was in the 90's all week and I didn't even think it was hot.

Loved That:

Sophia has really discovered her feet in the past week!


And Grace has learned how to blow a zerbert on Sophia's stomach and loves saying "Baby So-So is happy!"

Thursday, March 21, 2013

{17, 18, 19, and 20}

I'm way behind posting these, considering "Baby So So," (as Grace calls her,) is almost 25 weeks old! And since was one of those days that seem like they will never end, I'm choosing to post mainly pictures instead of words.






Sunday, March 17, 2013

This and That

Did This:

A DIY project that didn't turn out quite like I wanted it to, but is good enough for now. I wanted to paint it all black. I read on pinterest an article on how to paint laminate furniture and then headed out confidently to the hardware store. All hopes were shattered when the man behind the counter would NOT sell me black paint once I told him what I was doing. He insisted that I would have to sand, stain, and seal the project.

Well, jokes on him because it looks awful. Ha.

No, it looks okay, as long as the full sun doesn't hit it, and then you can still see straight though the black stain. And also, that black stain looks mighty green.

But with the curtains drawn it looks wonderful!

Before:
Free table and chairs but are very colorful and very banged up.


After:
Table and chairs that fit in better with an adult space

And underneath, a felt board!
Would you like me a little less if I told you that I "Tom Sawyer"ed up this project by having the neighborhood kids sand it down for me? The first time I brought it out they all oohed and ahhed over me sanding it so I passed out some paper and they went to town! I had to sand it on 3 other occasions and they would all come running out of their houses to help.

Cooked That:



Snapped This:


Left to Right, Row 1: Love the Dubai skyline! Grace in her bear "hat." Playing hide-and-go-seek with Daddy, he's under the rug! Row 2: Boots! Potty Training in style. Sophia asleep in my arms- so rare! Row 3: Trike and Daddy's hat. Smiles from Sophia. Dancing with Momma (and yes, my pants are literally falling off of me.) Row 4: Grace's first Tea Party with Momma. Sophia practicing rolling. Grace going test driving with Daddy.

Watched This:

I've been running through Bones episodes like they are going out of style. So much so that when I went to wipe the counter and sprayed some cleaner on it, and a bright red spot appeared, my first thought was "blood! A crime most have been committed here!" instead of the logical conclusion that some kool aid powder was on the counter.

Maybe I should step away from the crime dramas for a little bit.

Bought That:

Okay, it might not really count as me buying it, but my birthday package from my parents arrived a couple of weeks ago. Inside were the final two Harry Potter movies that we had not seen!


Loving This:

Productivity and schedules. I've really been struggling to find a good balance and it is finally starting to come together! Alot of trial and error is going into finding a balance between productivity and slothfulness so that I do not over extend myself and so that I don't sit around on the computer all day.

Captured That:

First ponytail

First bite of rice cereal




A quiet moment with a neighbor friend. Grace adores our neighbor kids!

First time to lick the beater!





Monday, March 11, 2013

{The Beach} Time with Grace

A normal Wednesday morning that becomes a special day. Ian is working from home and Sophia is sleeping better and taking a bottle, permitting me a window of freedom. I hustle around the house, gathering the necessary items. I feed Sophia, change into my bathing suit, and shepherd Grace out the door to the promise of water and sand.

"This Little Light of Mine" plays on repeat during our twenty minute drive. Grace sits peacefully, without the constant requests for food, water, toys, and her paci.

The water laps at our feet and the sun burns brightly. The wind whips two wisps of hair into her eyes and she turns to me. "Eyes!"

Toes sink into the sand and play begins. A sacred dance of stepping into the water and back out, with laughter as our melody.

Sand is thrown into the water and it's okay. I've left the word "No," at the threshold of emergencies for the day.

Birds are chased. Castles are built. Stories are told. Songs are sung.

No TV.
No computers.
No iPhones.
No screens.

Not even my camera so that I can remain in the moment with her.

Focused, devoted play, and a daughter who appreciates every minute of it. I feel my heart in my throat and am hot with shame, she deserves so much more of time like this.

She dances to a rhythm that is all her own. Fingers pointed to the right and hips to the left. She jumps and catches just a tiny bit of air and laughs with glee.

The noun naming begins in her attempt to communicate with me.

Hat. Eyes. Toys. Water. Sun. Hot. Hair. Shirt. Friends. Play. Beach.

ILoveYou. All one word. Fast and without thinking, because it is exactly what she feels.

The sun reaches its apex and we sweat. Cookies are eaten and water is slurped down. Sticky hands grasp my face and she plants a kiss on my lips and runs away.

Our time winds down and she gathers her toys to me. Shows me the shells she has found. And also a bottle cap. Her treasures. We walk out of the sand to the car and shake and wipe until we are cleaner. She sits back into her car seat with a happy sigh and the cold air springs forth. She taps on the window at the shoreline.

"Beach."

That is the first time she has said beach. I smile and start the car. We sing veggie tales songs on the way home. She shouts "Hallelujah, Praise Ye the Lord."

And I second that. Praise the Lord for quiet, beautiful days like today. And for the loud, crazy, ugly days in between. And for my Gracie girl, all that she is and all that she is to be.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Bye-Bye Baby Weight- South Beach Diet

I love South Beach Diet and I am a total advocate for it now. It has helped me reset my metabolism, blood chemistry, and, maybe most importantly, food cravings!

I already talked about why we chose to go with South Beach Diet, but here is my advice for the how.

When you start the diet, there are three phases. The first phase is the most strict and is all about change from your old routine.

South Beach Phase One involves alot of lean proteins, dairy, veggies, legumes (beans,) and nuts. For two weeks you stay clear of any and all breads, rice, potatoes, sugars, and fruits. The nice part is you can eat as much as you want from approved foods- you just have to make sure you have the right choices on hand.

The first two days were the hardest. I promise you, I cried because I wanted to eat bread so much. The cravings were intense for the both of us. The third day, the cravings subsided and I stepped on the scale for the first time. I was down 4 pounds. FOUR pounds!

We kept it up and stuck to the plan for the entire two weeks. By day seven my head was pounding and foggy- carbs DO have a function as immediate source of a sugar boost into your blood stream which acts as a quick brain food.

Our typical day looked like this:

Breakfast- Eggs, Turkey Bacon, and a cup of coffee

Snack 1- Nuts, cheese, or veggies

Lunch- Grilled chicken, a salad, veggie
or veggies, Hummus, turkey, and cheese,
or Black beans and Polish Sausages
or Chicken Salad on a Salad

Snack 2- cheese and pickles

Dinner- Pan Steak/Baked Chicken/Meatballs with pasta sauce/Taco Wraps/Naked Chicken Parm/Fish/Meatloaf

Dessert/Snack 3- Celery with no sugar added Peanut Butter, sugar free jello, or Mocha Ricatta

Around 7 days in I saw the scale stop making movement- I was stuck at 8 pounds less.

By the end of the two weeks we were ready for some bread. Ian was ready to eat cereal for breakfast again. I just wanted a cookie.

Typical.

But the scale reflected a twelve pound weight loss for me- I was officially below my pre pregnancy weight.

We decided to branch in two different directions. Ian pretty much went back to his regular eating habits except less sweets and limited carbs at lunch and dinner (since I wasn't preparing them.)

I continued with a very limited amount of carbs and almost no sweets. But the splurges were fine. Then, the month of February happened and almost everything I had learned went out the window. Ian had to travel and we had house guests. I have slowed and limited sweets and I never have rolls, potatoes, rice, or sugar cereals any more. And the weight kept coming off and is still coming off.

I've talked with several people about this diet and have several people who are interested in giving it a try. If you are too, here is a list of foods that will help you get through the two weeks of Phase One! It is not very cheap to eat without the fillers, but it is only for two weeks and you will see results as long as you stick to the plan without any exceptions!

Food Ideas
Boneless Chicken Breast
Whole Roasting Chicken
Ground Beef/Turkey
Lean Bacon
Lean Ground Sausage
Fish Fillet
Sandwich Meat
Canned Tuna/Chicken
Polish Sausages

Black Beans
Kidney Beans
Garbonzo Beans
Hummus
Black Eyed Peas

Sliced/diced/cubed/string cheese (get alot- the protein in cheese is helpful!)
Yogurt (NO sugar or fruits, our yogurt here is salty and plain, much like Greek yogurt, I think)
Milk
Cream Cheese
Ricotta
Cottage Cheese
Parmesan cheese

Salad
Brocolli
Cauliflower
Green Beans
Tomatoes
Peas
Squash
Cucumbers
Celery
Spinach
Onions
Bell Peppers
Garlic

Tomato Sauce/Pasta Sauce
Oil Based Salad Dressings

Snacks

Pickles
Nuts (not honey roasted or highly salted)
Plain (peanuts only) peanut butter- great on celery!
Ricotta or Cottage Cheese mixed with a splenda, and peanut butter, cocoa powder, or coffee powder
Sugar Free Fudgecicles
Sugar Free Jello
Raw veggies and an oil based salad dressing or hummus
Diet soda or Crystal Light

Remember, no fruits, no to little caffeine, no corn, and read your labels on sauces, dips, and marinades. Try to use plain spices instead of sauces to flavor things, since there is often sugars and corn starch in sauces.

You'll have to push yourself to keep going around the 4-6 day mark, but you can do it. Make it to two weeks and you will reap the full reward!

Also, plan out your meals for several days in advance. If you know what you are going to eat you can look forward to those special meals when the going gets tough.

There are tons of recipes on Pinterest and my favorite blog for recipes and tips is Kalyn's Kitchen

I'd love to hear from anyone who tries it!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

{13, 14, 15, and 16}





Happy Five Months, Sophia!

The months are just racing by. It surprises me every time it is time to write an update on Sophia!



Sleep

Wouldn't you know it, the day before she turned five months old she completely turned a corner. Throughout the past month we were slowly seeing improvements as she began to heal. She sleeps best if we keep her awake for longer stretches of time, preferably out and about.

Sophia starts her day at 6:30 and stays up for 1 to 1 and a half hours and then sleep for 1 or 1 and a half hour. It's not quite a 3 hour schedule like I'd want, but we go with it. Her naps are ruled by the 45 minute intruder but we are trying to remain consistent and get past it.

Nighttime was still rough though. She went down for the night at 7 and then would wake at 10, 1, 3, 5, and then start her day at 7. It was rough.  The day before she turned 5 months she dropped all but the 1 (it is now a 2 am) feeding. Yay for progress.

Food

She still nurses all day. At 4 and a half months we started her on a plain rice cereal, to help with reflux issues. Sometimes I make it more watery and use a medicine syringe to squirt it straight into her mouth. She needs the cereal (in my opinion,) but her tongue thrust reflux is getting in the way of her eating correctly off of a spoon. Any day now and I'm sure it will get better.

Still no bottle. Boo. I've tried 5 different bottles and 3 different formulas when she wouldn't take my frozen milk. Still nothing. She is a little calmer and will chew the bottle without screaming too much, so she usually swallows about an ounce in the process, but that is it.

Activity

So much has changed this month. We unswaddled Sophia in early February! It was a long two days but it really wasn't that bad. And, just like with Grace, when the process is over it makes putting her down so much easier! I'm very Pro swaddling and I think most babies need to be swaddled longer than the parents have the patience for. But it is SO nice to just be able to lay your baby down and walk away, without having to wrestle them into a blanket!

After Sophia's diagnosis of Silent Reflux at the beginning of the month, we saw drastic improvements with her medicine but we also kept her bed elevated and had her sitting upright for at least an hour after feeding. This meant, for about 2 weeks that she didn't get any chance to lay down or sit upright on her own while awake

When she seemed to stabilize a bit we started laying her down or sitting her in her bumbo and she is starting to learn how to roll over and sit up on her own.

Miscellaneous
*Sophia loves her Sophie the Giraffe toy and will squeak and chatter to it all day long!
*She loves to be diaperless and is most happy during diaper change time
*Everyone tells me she is so tiny, but she is bigger than Grace was at this point!
*I think she would love to sleep with a little blankie or lovie but I am not comfortable with any loose bedding being in the crib yet! Maybe in a couple of months.
*Most people say that they can tell S and G are related but that Sophia takes after me while Grace takes after Ian.
*She would rather be around people then off by herself!

Stats from her 4 month appointment
Weight- 11 pounds 3 ounces
Height- 24 inches
Clothes- 0-3 months (yes, still!)
Diapers- Size 2


Dear Sophia,
Wow, so much has changed for you this month! You are like a whole other baby! I love to turn you around to face me and get a huge grin and an ear splitting shriek of happiness. You made us a family and I love you for that. It hasn't been easy and I know things won't always be smooth sailing in the future, but I praise your Creator for blessing us with a life when there was once only His idea of you. I hope you know how much you are loved and treasured.

Love,
Your Momma