Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thursday

Hey guys,

Today was nice, Benjamin took a great morning nap so I got to sleep again until 12:30, which was awesome.  We just hung out at home and played, then went to the embassy for a free "BBQ" dinner, which was BBQ chicken, potato salad and a cucumber salad.  It was great, because it didn't cost anything for us, when it's usually a decent outlay for Thursday night dinner.  We sat with Kristin and her family, which was fun.  And a new family sat with us later on in the evening, they got here a week ago.  They're in great shape though and seem pretty well adjusted.  I'm hoping we can get together next week and help them feel more at home.  I remember just feeling like "what happened", especially with our death march of a sickness.  Thankfully they are fine, which will make life sooo much easier.

Here are a couple pictures of Benjamin, playing with a barn and animals made by Grandma Larkin.  I believe Thomas played with it when he was little.  (Correct me if I'm wrong, Mom!)


Whenever he plays with an animal toy, I make it "kiss" Benjamin, so now he "kisses" his animals.

I'm going to take Labor Day weekend off and get back to you Monday or Tuesday.  Hope you have a great holiday weekend!  What will you be up to?  Grilling out, swimming, watching football?  Go Gamecocks!!!

Oh and congratulations to Thomas's cousin David who's getting married this Saturday!  Sorry to miss it.

-Rachel 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Magical Healing Powers of ...

Burger King!  Seriously, guys.  We just had Burger King delivered for dinner and it was transcendent.  I felt kind of ugh all day, and really wanted some fast food.  Thomas made me call the delivery number, since it was a disaster last time.  But they handed me off to a dude who spoke great English, and he got all the info.  About 30-40 minutes later, the food arrived.  And they didn't even have to call and get more specific directions.  Delightful.  I hadn't realized that I was ordering meals, so I got an extra order of fries.  Oh well, most of them went into the trash.  I was trying to be moderate in my junk food consumption.  Benjamin had a few, and also a couple bites of Whopper with cheese.  I'm strictly a cheese, ketchup and mustard on a hamburger person, nothing else, ever.  But I happily ate the mayo, onion, pickle and tomato.  I was really in withdrawal.  I feel much more human now.

On to the recap: this morning Laura, my Arabic lessons classmate, picked me up since Thomas drove to work.  They moved our class, we had been meeting in the restaurant but now we have an official language room.  It was great to not be distracted by the TV and people milling around.  I met Thomas for lunch and got the BLT for the 3rd time in a row.  It's my new go-to item.  I'm very hesitant to try new things, as you all know.  Wonder where Benjamin gets it from...

I had meant to go to the co-op and pick up a few things, but I wasn't feeling up to it and Thomas needed to drop me off anyway, so we left and I hung out with Ben for a little while so Emy could finish up cleaning a couple things.  Again, so incredibly thankful that she helps us out.  I know it's a total luxury.  Hopefully with all my talk of household help you're not throwing darts at my picture.  Come and visit!  Take me up on this offer, for real!

Benjamin has started standing on his own and taking many steps.  He was all about it today, which is very exciting.  I feel like we might have a toddler on our hands soon.  After 18 months, I'm extremely impatient to just get to the next stage of life already.  I'm sure chasing him down will get old after awhile but it's really exciting to see him grow up little by little.  I'll try to take some pictures soon to post, if he stays vertical long enough.

He's a funny guy, he loves when you read him a book.  And he'll also just sit and flip through books, looking at the pictures.  He was content to page through his Bible today, happy as a clam, for about 20 minutes.  (We have the Jesus Storybook Bible, and read him a chapter every evening before bed, along with Goodnight Moon.  It's a nice little tradition, and gets back to the basics, which is nice for me and Thomas too.)

Thomas put him to bed and now we're just hanging out, fat and happy from our fast food feast.  Later on, there will be ice cream.  Thomas stopped at the co-op before coming home to grab chips and salsa, Coke Light, and two kinds of ice cream- chocolate (for me) and rocky road (for him).  Yum.  Trying to get out of my mint chocolate chip rut.

Word on the street is that our HHE will arrive the 2nd week in September.  I need to start planning for the unpacking process.  I'm so excited!  And we'll try to get out and about and see a little more of Amman and the local sights to fill you in on.  I don't want to spend two years getting fast food delivered and watching bad TV reruns on the computer.

Thanks for reading!
-Rachel


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tuesday

Today was a normal day, not too much happened.  Emy came by the house this morning and played with Benjamin while I rested in bed.  I was totally wiped out and meant to take a shower, but dozily decided to just nap for an hour.  I got up and out the door around 11:15 and ate a quick lunch with Thomas before meeting Kristin to get our nails done again.  I think we're going to make it an every-two-weeks tradition.  It was great to have a relaxing hour of chatting and then have pretty nails at the end of it. 

I got home about 20 minutes late, after waiting and waiting for my nails to dry enough to pay and fish out my keys.  But Emy was kind and said it was fine.  It's amazing to come home to dishes washed and toys put away.  I definitely get spoiled when she comes.  Trying not to take it for granted.

Benjamin had slept until 1pm, which I'm guessing has to do with teething.  He played and snacked until 3, then I put him down for a nap.  I rested on the couch and had chips and salsa while watching "Dawson's Creek" and playing on the internet.  He woke up around 4:45 and we played and snacked until we left to get Thomas from work.  Instead of going straight home we ran by the fruit guys where I bought some bananas and then Thomas ran into a little grocery store to buy bread while I circled the block, as there were no open parking spots. 

We heated up leftover carbonara and roast chicken for dinner, and the combination wasn't half bad.  I used way too much rosemary on the chicken, so the next time I'll tone it down.  But I'm always amazed at how easy it is to roast a chicken after how intimidating it feels.  Not that it was perfect, the white meat was a little dry.  But I feel like that's inevitable and it was certainly edible.  And not bad heated up the next day.  More dishes in the sink for Emy!

Benjamin was fussy again this evening, even during his bath.  We didn't give him any medicine so we'll see how long he goes before yelling.  I hope this teething phase ends soon, I have so little patience for the middle of the night screaming. 

Sorry for the lack of pictures, yet again.  I'm getting lax in my constant tiredness.  But also, we're just living normal life now so most things don't seem picture-worthy.  My goal for this evening is to take a shower.  An aside, does anyone else hate showering as much as I do?  I know that sounds weird, it's not that I hate being clean.  I just hate the time it takes to shower, then do my facial routine, then dry my hair.  I can usually convince myself to put it off for one day too many.  Don't get me started on shaving legs, either.  I guess I would rather be watching something or reading than "wasting" my time on personal hygiene.  I know, y'all are weirded out.  It's okay.

As usual, oversharingly yours,
-Rachel

Monday, August 27, 2012

Doubling up

I didn't post yesterday, because it was a very boring day and I know y'all are falling asleep in front of your computers when you read yet again that we went to the embassy and then took naps.  But, in case you need that structure to your lives, here's what happened yesterday.

Benjamin slept in late, I woke him up about 9:15.  He ate breakfast, played, then we went to the embassy to meet up with Kristin on the playground.  I was late getting there, and then met Thomas for lunch so we saw Kristin and her boys at the restaurant.  It was nice getting out of the house but Benjamin started getting fussy about 12:30, because he hadn't taken his usual morning nap.  He seemed to be transitioning out of those like a month or so ago, but recently has very much needed both naps.  We went home and both slept for a while, which was magical.  Thomas came home and we heated up leftover carbonara for dinner and it was delicious.  He went out for a guys night after putting Ben to bed, so I watched Dawson's Creek and obsessed about sofas for a couple hours.  It was fun.

Yeah, that didn't need its own post.  Today was less exciting, if you can imagine, but I figure the two combined will be moderately entertaining/informative.  Ben slept late again today, 8pm-9:15am.  I'm not complaining, it's awesome.  I feel bad though that I can't drive Thomas to work.  If he's awake around 8am I can, but when he sleeps in it means I also get to sleep in.  Not bad at all.  Morning nap, check.  Lunch, playtime, check.  Afternoon nap, oh yeah.  Which is again my computer time, looking for gray velvet English roll arm sofas, like this one.

http://us.sofa.com/shop/sofas/traditional-sofas/snowdrop/#130-CMVELE-0-0  

I would switch out the legs to get ones with casters.  But I might also check with some showrooms about the Lee Industries version, which is supposed to be super solid.  I want a sofa for 30 years.  My grandmother's have lasted 40-some (or more) but they really aren't my style and I'm looking forward to attempting to decorate with things I've chosen and really love.  I'll be a little sad to see the Heywood Wakefield stuff go, but I'll discuss with my sister about what she wants to do with them.  (They were left to her by our grandmother.)

Yeah, enough couch talk.  It's two years before I would actually purchase something, and we may be buying a different house when we get back so that would take a whole lot of precedence.  But it's fun to think about decorating, since that's not my talent at all.  Samantha, I need your help!

Attempting to move on.  Thomas had found a recipe from Pioneer Woman for roast chicken and we had collected all the ingredients.  Thankfully there's rosemary growing in the garden.  I got started on it while Ben ate his snack around 5, and it turned out really well.  I roasted some cut-up potatoes and carrots in a separate pan.  They got a little burned on the bottom, I guess they didn't need as much time as I'd thought.  But they still tasted good.  It was a nice meal, very reminiscent of fall.  I'm looking forward to the change in weather, whenever that will happen.  Is it getting cool yet back in the States?  I'm jealous of the leaves changing colors.

Tonight will be the usual, just lounging and playing on the internet.  Last night we got three different boxes in the mail.  My parents had kindly sent us some requests, like Cheerios and goldfish and jello.  I want to try making the jello play dough, once some plastic containers arrive from Amazon.  We also got some fingerpaint and paper from Amazon, which I'll try out with Benjamin some evening before his bath.  And a box from Target, with diapers and butt cream and random baby stuff.  It was like Christmas, so much fun.  I'm still waiting on our next Netflix disc, it is really ridiculous how long it takes.  I'm super impatient and just need to get over it.  Argh. 

Night all!
-Rachel

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Date Day

Emy came this morning instead of tomorrow.  My language class is cancelled for tomorrow morning and we'd been hoping to go see "The Dark Knight Rises".  Kristin and her husband invited us on Thursday, but Emy works until 6:30 so we weren't able to make the 5:30 showing.  But going at 11:15am on Saturday was perfect, very few people.  This was my first time seeing a movie overseas since college, and it was pretty similar.  Seats are assigned, but supposedly it's not strictly followed.  The theater was in Baraka Mall, pretty close to us.  It's really nice and is showing some recent movies, like "Spiderman".  I think we'll try to go back sometime soon to see "The Bourne Legacy", if Emy can swing another Saturday.  The movie was excellent.  Nothing can match the Joker as a truly disturbing villain, but I thought it was definitely the best way to wrap up the series.  Super good.

After the movie, which was loooong, we ate a quick lunch at McDonald's in the food court.  Thomas dropped me at home and then ran out to see about the cable packages from the OSN booth in SmartBuy.  They claim to show NFL stuff, but we're skeptical.  So we'll wait and see.  Benjamin went down for a nap and we did the same.  Thomas made dinner, pasta carbonara.  It was delicious! 

Tonight we're watching "The Incredibles", which I haven't seen in forever.  I love it.  The movie theater is also showing "Brave" which I'd like to see, just because it's Pixar.  The reviews weren't great, anyone seen it?  Thoughts?  Maybe I can convince some girls to go some weekend.  What movies are playing now in the states?  Anybody seen anything awesome recently?  It looks like the theater here will be getting "The Watch" and "The Campaign", which we definitely want to see.  I can't believe it's almost Labor Day weekend.  I'm just counting the days until our HHE gets here, I really hope it's soon.  We've been here a little over a month and I'm guessing we'll get all our stuff in another four weeks or so.  Fingers crossed.

Guess that's all for today!
-Rachel    


Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday

Hi friends and family,

It's been a nice day.  Thomas represented us at church this morning, because Benjamin woke up at an ungodly hour and definitely needed a nap, so I stayed home with him and rested.  I missed out on fellowship and food, not to mention worship.  But there's always next week.

I had tasked Thomas with doing a quick grocery run for bread and bananas after church, but he came back at 1:30 before going.  So we dawdled at home and he played with Ben, then we all went out to Taj Mall.  I had been interested in checking out the food court, since Ramadan's over and it's open normal hours.  I got a McDonalds hamburger and fries and Diet Coke/Coke Light.  It was decent, I'm not usually a hamburger person at Micky D's, but I was afraid of the chicken nuggets as a result of this incident.  We sat in the food court while I snacked and Benjamin actually ate some fries.  I'd been giving him a fry periodically whenever I have some, but he's very slow in trying new foods.  Not that fries are healthy, but I hardly ever order them and now that fast food isn't a part of my daily routine they won't be a major fixture of our diet.  But he actually ate some and seemed to like them.  So, yay!?

After my food break, we went back down to Spinney's and bought more than we intended.  It's all good stuff, like a plunger and extension cord, trash bags, roasting pan.  Along with the usual produce and cereal.  Benjamin seems to really like plums, so we got those and apples and a ton of bananas.  He's very much a fruit person, not so into protein.  I feel helpless to do anything about that until we get all our stuff.  Before we packed out, I bought a mini-muffin pan so I could do some bite-sized egg dishes for him.  He's not into eggs either, and I thought that might tempt him.  Oh and he doesn't eat cheese.  I've given him bits of my grilled cheese when I make it, and he touches it, then leaves it alone.  Funny guy.  Any thoughts, fellow parents?  Is it just a phase?

Ben took a decent nap this afternoon so I rested and read some of "Emma".  For dinner I heated up leftovers for Thomas and made myself a grilled cheese.  I'm such a creature of habit, if I like something I'll eat it every day for forever.  For the past week it's been grilled cheese time, but I'm sure I'll get sick of it soon and need to find another go-to meal.  I don't want to think about it.  I miss my extremely unhealthy McDonalds lunch of McNuggets and Diet Coke, sometimes a hot fudge sundae.  And eating in my car.  So American, so lazy.  Oh how I miss that. 

After dinner we went out onto the patio and sat and enjoyed the nice weather.  It was hot today, probably low 90s, but in the evening it just feels great.  We walked around and saw a ton of snails.  First we saw one, and watched him crawl over a stick of rosemary that I put in his path to see what he'd do.  Didn't phase him, he crawled/ slithered/ slimed his way over it and kept on trucking.  Then when we walked around we kept seeing more and more.  It's like an army of snails out there.  I'm half worried that they'll invade the house extremely sloooowly.


Benjamin and Thomas have a new game where they "scare" each other.  Thomas will go "bah" and surprise him, which makes him laugh.  And he tries to do the same, with Thomas making an exaggerated response of being frightened.  Super funny.  I'm really looking forward to when Ben can be even more interactive and play games and stuff.  Although I don't want to wish away him being small.  My language class co-student, Laura, has two kids that are 4 and 8.  I can't imagine what having big kids is like.  I know there are challenges at every age, but sometimes it seems like poopy diapers are all that's in front of me.

I hope y'all have a great weekend!
-Rachel 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

That was quick.

And just like that, the workweek is over!  A whole two days.  Yay for Eid, that was a nice break.  And now it's back to the grindstone, or weekend, what have you.  Today (Thursday) was good, Emy came this morning and I went to my Arabic class then had lunch with Thomas at the embassy.  It's always nice to get out of the house a little, see other adults and feel like I've got somewhat of a life.  

This afternoon Benjamin was fussy again, which I attribute to teething.  He didn't take a good afternoon nap, and was a pill most of the day.  I gave him a little plane present (I'd wrapped a bunch of little things for him to open on the plane, and we're gradually getting through them) of a divided plastic box with erasers.  He enjoyed them, but then decided to put one of the stars in his mouth.  I'd been unsure as to how age-appropriate it was; not quite.  So we'll save it for a little while from now, or when his teething has calmed down a bit.  Here are a couple pics before I had to take it away.




This afternoon was also exciting because our water pressure dropped dramatically.  I called Thomas to ask his advice since the Boab was nowhere to be found.  This had happened last weekend, and Thomas saw what he did to fix it.  I went downstairs to the basement parking area and flipped a switch that had a red glowing light.  That fixed the problem, but later in the afternoon the Boab came by to say that the water was "finished" (out) and we needed to call the embassy for water delivery.  This is at 5pm on a Thursday afternoon.  Obviously everyone leaves at 4:30 to start the weekend.  So it had to be sent to the emergency water delivery people.  Argh.  We need to figure out how to communicate to the Boab that the water needs to be checked on Wednesday, so we can do a work order on Thursday morning if it's low. 

It worked out fine, they sent a guy around 6:30 and we've got water.  We had it all along, but Benjamin's bath water was slightly yellow, I guess from sitting in the tank.  There's a walkthrough that you can request from the maintenance department, we need to have them come over and show us where all the stuff is, like how to check the water tank and set up the alarm, etc.  We've just been too lazy to do it so far. 

The other day when I was waiting for Thomas to come to lunch, I hung out in the CLO (Community Liason Office) and picked up a copy of "Emma".  I hadn't read any Austen for a while and just got sucked in.  I love the familiar, I like to watch movies and read books multiple times.  Anyone else do that?  Thomas isn't a big fan, he doesn't like to rewatch many things.  "The Wire", some "Arrested Development", maybe the recent Batman movies.  I still have my nonfiction book from the little library that I started.  And I read the first chapter or so of "The Magicians", a more adult take on Narnia and Harry Potter.  I love both of those so much that I'm not sure I'll be able to really enjoy the anticipated snark of the "sophisticated" version.  Which is why I'm now reading "Emma" for the umpteenth time.  There's a recent-ish TV version out, with Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller.  That's another one I really need to own.  I checked it out of the Arlingon Library a lot, it's fantastic.  Much better than the Gwyneth Paltrow version.  *Shudder*  Any favorite Austen novels or movie adaptations?  I'm pretty sure no one else ran out of water today.

-Rachel

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wednesday

This morning about 6am Benjamin woke up fussing.  I changed his diaper, which was not good.  Not to be extremely graphic, but I hadn't seen mucous before and it was definitely not normal.  He had another bad poop when I got him up at 9am.  I called the health clinic at the embassy and they were very nice, the nurse told me to monitor him and if he seemed uncomfortable or had a fever to call them back.  Thankfully he did well eating and drinking, and played all day.  He was fussy this evening, but I think that's his final front tooth coming in.  I was so stressed out, thinking he'd gotten an amoeba and would need to be in the hospital getting fluids.  Thankfully he seems fine and fingers crossed he'll be back to normal tomorrow.

I didn't have the make-up Arabic class this morning that I had planned to attend, so I stayed home while Emy cleaned windows and then left to meet Thomas for lunch.  It was nice to get out of the house, after seeing Benjamin behave normally I felt good about leaving.  My new lanyard had arrived, since I have to wear a badge at all times in the embassy I thought I should have something fun to wear.  The sweet lady who sold it to me from Etsy also made a pair of matching earrings that she included as a surprise.  It was exciting to get mail, we also got a Netflix DVD- Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.  We watched it tonight, and I liked it a lot.  I'm a fan of the Guy Ritchie aesthetic.

Beautiful Lanyards on Etsy

After lunch I shopped at the co-op for bacon and a bottle of wine, some other random items.  I got home and Emy cleaned a little bit while I played with Benjamin.  I must say, having her come consecutive days is great, I just leave the dirty dishes from the night before and she washes them and puts them away.  Delightful. 

After Benjamin got up from his nap, he was fussy all afternoon.  It was relief when Thomas got home, he caught a ride with a friend.  He made dinner and then put Ben to bed, so we could have a little peace.  His teething must be pretty bad, he keeps waking up crying despite the Motrin I gave him earlier.  All in all, an okay day.  Pray for Benjamin, that his digestive stuff is over and he'll be less fussy tomorrow.  Oh and the eBay purchase went through, my dad paid using his PayPal and we'll just mail them a check.  Dad to the rescue!

-Rachel

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Long weekend

Gird your loins, this is a long post.

Sunday morning we got up and ate breakfast, Benjamin didn't really nap at all.  We got packed up and after lunch drove to the Dead Sea.  The Dead Sea is, of course, the lowest point of land on earth.  I hadn't thought about the change in elevation, but Amman is on a hill and we went down a lot of twisty roads at noticeable grade.  I'm glad we didn't try to do it at night, the road markings aren't good.  But the highway was pretty good and despite getting a little lost, we made it in good time.  It's about a 45 minute drive away from Amman.

We stayed one night at the M√∂venpick Resort & Spa, which was pretty nice.  The architecture was very Middle Eastern, which was neat.  They let us check in early, about 2pm and also upgraded us to a "deluxe" room from a standard one.  It was a nice room, very tall ceilings.  We rested for a while, hoping that Benjamin would take an afternoon nap.  Sadly, I think the excitement of a new place and borrowed crib and mom and dad being in the same room weren't conducive to napping.  We watched a little TV and then put our suits on.  We slathered ourselves in suntan lotion and climbed down many flights of stone stairs to the shore where the hotel had its own little dock to get into the water.

I had envisioned more of a beach, but it was very rocky and lots of the rocks out of the water had crystallized salt on them.  Thomas and I took turns getting into the water.  We weren't sure about taking Benjamin in.  It is very strange, the water is ten times saltier than salt water, and you're very buoyant.  It was much more viscous than regular ocean water.  When I was done, after about two minutes, it took me a while to swim back to the wooden dock.  We didn't stay very long, and didn't take advantage of the mud, which is supposed to be great.  It was so hot.  I was about to pass out walking back up the 3 or 4 stories it took to get to the family pool.  They had a little man-made sandy beach which turned into an infinity pool.  Very nice, we just sat in the water and let Ben splash around.  We did the beach and pool for maybe just an hour, it was so hot.  Then we got showers and gave Benjamin a bath and went to dinner.

This is at sunset, after we ate dinner.  You can see the little beach at the bottom, where we played.

The land you see on the other side of the Dead Sea is Israel.

This is the part of the pool that turns into the infinity pool.  Somewhere in the middle the sand turns to tile.

The view back toward land, mountains in the distance.

There was a little village square-type thing with a couple restaurants.  We checked out the menus for the Grill and the Italian place.  We picked the Grill, and it was pretty good.  Thomas got a steak and I got slow-cooked ribs with mashed potatoes and broccoli.  Pretty yummy.  Ben ate a fruit salad and his yogurt bites.  The waiters were all very friendly with him and brought him a glass of apple juice.  I had been holding off on giving him juice, since that's the new health guidance.  But I figured, we made it 18 months so might as well.  Thomas held the glass and he drank from the straw.  He liked it, and drank half the glass.  Then he decided he didn't like it anymore, and has been drinking water since.  So, I guess if I want to start giving him juice it won't be a big deal, but I'll probably still give him water most of the time.

First sips of juice!

Tastes great!






Beautiful sunset.

After dinner we took pictures and then went back to the room to put Benjamin to bed.  We eventually had to move him to the bathroom, because he was just not settling down.  I forgot that in new places he has a hard time adjusting the first night.  Eventually he went down, and Thomas and I ordered dessert from room service.  My cheesecake was fine, too much berry sauce, but his pistachio ice cream was not good.  Not quite up to the 5-star rating.  And then all night long, Benjamin kept waking up screaming, probably every hour or every two hours.  It was nightmarish.

Monday morning we woke up about 8:30 and got ready to eat breakfast at the main hotel restaurant.  We were basically zombies.  It was a horrible night, which was sad since we had a really nice time on our mini-vacation.  I think the lesson is, we have to get a suite so Benjamin can be in a separate room from us.  Our 8 or 9 days at the Homewood Suites in Alexandria before we moved was really nice, we could put him in the bedroom for naps and then hang out in the living area.  I don't know if they do that here, but for next time we'll have to look into it.

Breakfast was nice, lots of choice (hummus, falafel, scrambled eggs, pastries, etc.) and I was able to make Ben his usual Nutella sandwich.  He also had some fruit and Thomas and I drank some hot tea to try and wake up before driving home.  Check-out was noon, but you can do a daytime rental of a room, so if we'd felt more energetic and the weather was cooler then maybe we would have stayed and floated more in the Dead Sea.  But we were totally tired and ready to head home.  The drive home just took about 35 minutes, it was super fast.  So we'll definitely go back sometime, hopefully in the fall.  And we may try a different hotel, just to see.

After getting home we ate lunch and Benjamin and I took naps.  It was a low-key day, Thomas went out grocery shopping and we just had mac and cheese for dinner.  After Benjamin went to bed I dealt with a growing fiasco concerning an eBay purchase.  I had the winning bid for some foam blocks that are the same as some we're borrowing now that Ben really likes.  I was so excited to get them, but PayPal has decided to act like idiots and won't let me confirm my account with a phone number, since I don't have a US number any more.  It's the most infuriating thing, I was literally seething with rage.  They're mailing me a confirmation number, which will have to be forwarded by the postal service.  And we have yet to receive any forwarded mail.  Just so irritating.  I emailed the seller to explain, I hope we can figure out another way for me to pay.  I just want some blocks for my kid, why does this have to be such an ordeal.  Gah.

Tuesday was good, Emy came in the morning and since I didn't have my class because of Eid, she was able to spend the whole time cleaning.  The house really needed it.  I got to have lunch with some of the ladies from the Anglican home church, it was great to socialize and get to know people better.  I'm looking forward to spending more time with them, they're really neat people.  Thomas made dinner, he's trying to get us into the habit of eating things other than spaghetti.  He made shrimp and linguine with wilted spinach and garlic butter sauce.  Pretty yummy.  I need to get in gear with cooking, I'm just not good at it and don't really want to spend the time and energy to become competent.

All in all, a really great 5 day weekend.  It was awesome having Thomas around so much and it'll be a sad transition back to "real life".  However with the work week only being two days long, it'll be the weekend before I know it.  And now that Ramadan's over, I can get fast food at the mall and start actually living like a normal person.  I really miss fast food.  At the doctor's visit last week I was weighed and lost a couple pounds from before we moved over, which I attribute to my home-based eating.  That may all change now, although I do want to slim down much more.  All in good time.  Oh and they have Pinkberry here.  I thought that was hysterical.  And I will definitely eat there this week.

-Rachel   

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Satisfying Saturday

Hello folks,

Today was nice, fairly low-key and relaxing.  Thomas got Benjamin up and going so I got to rest in bed for a little bit longer than usual.  It was excellent.  We just hung out at the house in the morning, and then went to Taj Mall after lunch.  Thomas was hoping to talk with someone about getting cable or satellite, whatever the options are.  But at the Smart Buy (Best Buy-ish type place) they didn't have the right booth with the subscription people.  So we just walked around the mall a little and then went to Spinney's for some groceries.  They had added a little display with nail polish, so I was excited to get some clear to put on my fingers.  After getting a manicure last week, my nails have grown a teeny bit and I'm hoping to finally get them to grow and resist my compulsion to clip them until they've disappeared. 

This afternoon Benjamin and Thomas took naps while I obsessed over living room furniture.  I'm trying to figure out what I'd like for our new living room stuff when we move back home.  Yes, that's two years from now.  And yes, I'll probably change my mind.  But now I really like this couch:

Pottery Barn Carlisle Slipcovered Apartment Sofa


If I could, I would get legs with casters for the front.  As for occasional chairs, I'm thinking maybe something leather, maybe a pair with a matching ottoman.  Probably we'll get everything else off of Craigslist, and I'd be happy to get the couch there too.  But I've been hunting around and finding an English roll arm sofa with a tight back is quite the challenge.  I think the slipcover would be wise, but I also like the regular upholstered version.  It's fun to furnish a house in your mind.  But I'm awful at scale and figuring out what would work and not look too fusty and old fashioned.  I like the style of sofa because it's very classic, but I might add some edgy accessories, like a Lucite coffee table or neon pillows or something.  I really need to just hire a decorator.  If I could, I'd hire this chick, she has the perfect sofa: green velvet.  I would love something that bold.  Here's a pic.  Exactly what I want!  Maybe I can hire her for just an hour to brainstorm/rough sketch something out.



Tonight we managed to go to the Amman International Church.  We followed some neighbors and friends from the embassy, we would never have made it on our own.  The preaching was definitely better than the little house church, but they meet at 6pm on Saturday's, so we got back home around 7:30pm.  Not the best, we tried to feed Benjamin a little and we were super hungry and even just making spaghetti takes a while.  We ate about 8pm and were just cranky.  Ben went to bed a half hour later than normal, but hopefully that won't affect his demeanor tomorrow.  I think if Ben's schedule changes that we'd try it again, but for right now it just won't work.  Oh well.  Thankfully we enjoy the Anglican house church enough and I'm sure God will put us exactly where He wants us to be.

I'll take a break from the blog for a day or two since we have a long weekend, and get back to you in a couple days with some pictures and hopefully more scintillating anecdotes.  Pray for health and safety as we make a little trip. 

-Rachel

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Fun Friday

Greetings,

This morning we made it to the Anglican house church.  We met at Kristen's house, just a few minutes away, so that made it easier to pull off.  Especially since Benjamin slept almost to 9am and we were rushing to get him fed and out the door.  Thankfully they're very low key and people show up whenever.  It was nice to talk with adults and watch Benjamin play with the kids.  There were all boys there, I'm not sure any little girls are part of the group.  Which is nice, he gets lots of time with bigger boys and actually stood up on his own and walked for multiple steps, and did it a couple times.  Thomas got to see him do it for the first time.  Yay for Ben!

After the service, Kristen served lunch and it was amazing.  Delicious egg strata, and fruit, and a Gouda and broccoli casserole.  Yummmm.  I think I went a little overboard, after we got home all I could do was lie on the couch for a few hours.  So full.  This afternoon Benjamin and I took naps, Thomas read in the formal living room.  It's nice to have two long couches in different rooms so that we can relax in different areas of the house, and not feel like one person has to hide away in the bedroom.  I really enjoy our large space, it's great. 

Tonight we just lounged and played with Ben, we made basic pasta with store-bought pesto for dinner.  And Benjamin ate a whole cup of applesauce by himself with just a little messiness.  He's getting to be such a big boy!  It's fun to look back at my Facebook page and see his baby pictures and even from Christmas he's so much bigger.  I know in two years when he move back he'll be three and a half, but I can't even fathom what he'll be like.  Right now I'm just grateful that he seems to be getting the hang of walking.  Or maybe it was just peer pressure being around the big boys at church, he didn't do it at all this afternoon with just me and Thomas around to impress. 

Here's a couple pictures of Benjamin from yesterday.  He was eating apple and peanut butter for lunch, and tried to drink some milk from the straw cup but it spit milk out on his face.  I was laughing and thought it was a look worth capturing. 



Hee hee.  I watched a couple movie trailers this afternoon and the new Anna Karenina looks really good.  I've never read the book (I know) but I love Joe Wright, the director.  He did "Atonement" which was amazing (the book is incredible, read it first if you can) and also the latest "Pride and Prejudice" all with Keira Knightley.  The first time I saw that one I wasn't so sure about it, it takes lots of liberties with the book.  But the more I've watched it the more I like it.  And not only for Matthew MacFayden, who is fantastic.  One of my fave Austen adaptations is "Persuasion" with Ciaran Hinds from the 90s.  So, so good.  I need to own it. 

Any favorite book-to-movie adaptations?  Or Austen novels?  Some good movies are coming out, hopefully Thomas and I can do a date night soon. 

-Rachel

Friday, August 17, 2012

Finally Thursday

Hi guys,

It seems like it's been a long week.  Thankfully we have a long weekend ahead of us.  Thomas has booked us a night at the Moevenpick resort at the Dead Sea, so that'll be nice.  I was looking at the spa treatments available, and they are all super expensive.  I may skip on that, and just make my own little mud pack at the beach.  Okay, on to the highlights...

Today was good, I had my Arabic class and I feel like it's coming a little more each time.  I need to spend time actually practicing, if I did that I'd probably be way further along.  Thomas and I met up for lunch, it's so nice to hang out in the middle of the day.  I got home and played with Ben while Emy cleaned and made our bed with clean sheets and folded clothes.  She is a wonder, I'm so blessed to have her.  Benjamin didn't really take much of an afternoon nap, which was a total bummer.  I was really hoping to just lie on the couch and watch silly TV for a while, but oh well.

This evening was the usual Thursday night feast at the embassy by the pool, tonight was Asian night.  It was not great, honestly.  But it was nice to sit with people and chat and be somewhere other than home.  I think I need to start getting out more, but I don't want to get into the habit of shopping just as an excuse to go somewhere.

Today after I got home from my class, Benjamin stood up by himself a couple times, and took a few little steps.  Amazing!  I'm excited that he's progressing, or at least doing the same thing multiple times.  I'm really looking forward to when he's walking all the time, that kid is heavy.  I'm not a fan of carrying 25 extra pounds around.

Hm, not much more to report today.  The night becomes a wasteland of internet browsing and adding things to my Amazon cart.  I'm planning to make some homemade play dough, using this recipe.  My parents have graciously bought us a bunch of stuff and are sending a box, including all the jello.  Hee hee!  I'm super excited.  I hope Benjamin enjoys it.  I've also ordered some fingerpaints and paper, but now I'm wondering if I should buy an oilcloth tablecloth so the mess doesn't get everywhere.  This is my rabbit hole, I get sucked into thinking I need a thousand things.  Argh.

Enough rambling for today!
-Rachel

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Food Fail

Wednesday started out okay, Thomas stayed home with Ben so I could do another appointment first thing this morning.  I had hoped that Ben would wake up while I was gone so Thomas would have get to change his diaper and get his breakfast.  Sadly, he slept in and woke up about 10 minutes after I got in.  It was great to be able to take a nap while Ben slept this morning.  Even though this is the loaner mattress, I'm a huge fan of the bed.  And especially now I have my Snoozer again.  (I never stopped using my pregnancy pillow, and I never will.)

I took Benjamin with me to the embassy for lunch with Thomas, which was fun.  They have a fruit plate with nicely sliced up apples and peaches and plums, Benjamin just dove right in.  He hasn't figured out the whole taking bites phenomenon, he just shoves everything in.  I guess it'll come later.  After lunch we walked to a little grocery store that's close to the embassy.  I needed some stuff, but this place, though new and nice, was tiny and didn't have great-looking produce.  So, off to Taj Mall we went!  This was my first time going there on my own, winging it with figuring out how to get there.  But it went smoothly and I parked in the garage with no problems.

I put Ben in his stroller and we walked around the mall first, I found a Bath and Body Works, which was awesome.  I desperately needed some body spray, since they wouldn't pack up mine from back home and I didn't have the space in our crammed luggage.  They were mostly old though, so I'm excited for a new scent.  I got the White Citrus smell, which is light and nice.  And all of Amman is thankful that I won't stink any more.  Yay for extremely overpriced body spray.  (Seriously, it was 14JD which is like $20.  But I needed it so badly...)  After we explored the mall I got some produce and bread and juice and random stuff from Spinney's, which is in the mall, then we headed home.  A successful afternoon.

Ben was definitely not as fussy today, which is a blessing.  I was almost flying off the handle yesterday, so I'm glad for a little break.  He might be going through a growth spurt, I feel like he's much hungrier recently.  Although tonight Thomas and I were fussy, for valid reasons.  So we were planning to order delivery, and I picked an Indian place.  I love chicken korma, and it sounded good to me this evening.  We called about 6:15 and ordered, one dish for each of us and a side of naan bread.  We assumed (wrongly) that rice would be included, because duh, it's Indian food.  Cut to an hour and a half later, and the delivery guy is trying to find us.  His English is bad, Thomas doesn't speak Arabic (nor do I at this point) so they agree to meet at Jounia Pharmacy close by.  Thomas meets him and pays, more than he was expecting I think, about 20JD.  (There's a 16% tax, which we won't have to pay once our tax-free status cards arrive, but they are slooooow in handing them out.)  And after he carries the food home, we realize: no rice.  Tragedy.  So I make some plain rice, which takes 15 minutes.  I'm so hungry at this point that I just dip some naan into the korma and eat that alongside the (tough) chicken.  Not impressed, Taj Mahal Indian food, not impressed.  All that to say, we will not be ordering from them again.

Aside from the food being sub-par, it's just incredibly aggravating to live in a place where you can't give someone your address to find you.  You have to say, I live in this neighborhood and then they'll call when they get there.  Then you have to give directions, without knowing what direction they're coming from.  Ugh.  I'm sure part of it is homesickness, but honestly.  Can't they just make people learn how to do street names?  I mean, they weren't implemented yesterday, it was a decade ago.  Huge sigh.  I miss America, and our organized way of doing most things.

Oh well.  Tonight will be spent buying things on Amazon and Target.  I'm really liking the Target diapers, and at sixteen cents each, you can't beat it.  You just have to spend $50 to get free shipping, oh well.  Guess I'll have to find something fun to get, maybe a toy for Benjamin.  There's a cute truck that comes with Play Doh and you can make bricks, it's like a construction crane thing.  It says for 3 and up, but if I play with him, I think it's okay.  Moms, any thoughts?  I do want to start getting him some more mature toys, since we mostly have balls of varying sizes.  He likes them, but there's got to be more out there.  It pains me to pay full price for toys though.  Oh Craigslist, I miss you like crazy.  Sniff.  (If anyone has boy-friendly toddler toys they want to offload, I will pay you for them, and the postage!)

-Rachel




Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Totally Tuesday

Forgive the valley girl title.  Today was alright, although I felt gross and puke-y for most of it.  Benjamin woke up early, quarter to 8am.  Not fun.  So he ate breakfast and then we dropped Thomas at work.  I had my Arabic class, so Emy showed up at 9:30 and I got ready, then headed out.  I think I'm starting to absorb a little bit, my brain mulls things over and sometimes pops out a phrase.  So definitely a worthy endeavor.  Although I wasn't feeling great, I ate an early lunch with Thomas and then begged him to drive me to the doctor.  It went well, the office was in a hospital close by.  It's definitely different than an American hospital, but there weren't puddles of blood anywhere so I felt reassured.

Thomas dropped me at home a teeny bit after 1:30, when Emy leaves, so I apologized for being late and she headed out.  Benjamin hadn't napped well, and was off schedule all day.  I'm still blaming teething.  I was totally exhausted so I just laid on the couch and watched "Bunheads" when he went down in the afternoon.  I really enjoy that show, and I hope they get picked up for another season.  Very cute and fun.  Thomas came home and we ate spaghetti for dinner (again).  I'm really not creative.  I think tomorrow Ben and I will go to Spinney's and walk around the Taj Mall, since we need to get some more fruit and random other things.  Hopefully his nap schedule will accommodate a little excursion.  Oh and Ben took another couple teeny steps on his own today, so yay!

After dinner I tried giving Ben his own spoon and applesauce, here is the result.  He did an okay job, considering this is the first time we've really let him go with a utensil on his own.  Yes, we're way behind.  Sigh.  (Pictures by Thomas.)








Good job, little buddy!  He's still not great with the straw cups, I guess that'll take a little longer to get used to.  But he's trying.  Lots of changes all at once.  He was pretty fussy tonight so we gave him Motrin and put him in the bed.  And now Thomas is going to bed before 10pm, so I might follow.  Of course fireworks and car horns and yelling will keep us up until at least 11, but you know.  Ramadan.  This weekend is the end of Ramadan, thank heavens.  There's a long weekend to celebrate the Eid holiday (pronounced eeed) so we might try to find something fun to do, maybe a day trip outside Amman or just going to the old part of town and checking things out.  There's a taxi driver who is evidently a great tour guide, so we might hire him to get a little more local flavor and info.  That's all for today, hope everybody is doing well.

-Rachel

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Pictures Galore

Hey people,

Today, Monday, was fairly decent.  Took Thomas to work, ran by the store on the way back 'cause the bread I was going to feed Benjamin was moldy.  Got home, fed the boy, then he sort-of napped for a little bit.  Not very well, I think the teething is still bugging him.  His appointment for 18 month immunizations was at 11:15 so we packed up around 11am and headed to the embassy.  The health unit staff is very nice, and they didn't make us wait very long.  He only needed one, Hepatitis A, and now he's done until he's four!  Say what.  Crazy.  So we were finished at 11:30, and the nurse was kind and gave me more Motrin, since we're now out of the Target brand that I packed.  She also gave me Fluoride drops to put in his water every day, since I guess there's not any added.  Yikes.  Glad to find that out now and not in another couple months!

I can't remember if I mentioned it earlier, but on Friday morning our Boab rang the bell so Thomas talked to him.  He gave us a huge pile of grapes from the grapevines in the yard, so we washed them and have been snacking on them periodically.  Naturally they have tons of seeds, so that's tough to get used to.  I'm such a pampered American, I just want seedless fruit please.  Oh well.


Keeping in the food vein, last night I was really craving a chocolatey baked dessert, so I made some brownies.  These are real, authentic Betty Crocker Middle East brownies.  Yum.  (I even licked the batter, which is probably a big no-no, even more so with potentially suspect eggs.  But I'm fine so far!  Totally worth it.)


Today was another milestone for Ben, I've been very slow in introducing him to the next phase in sippy cups but he tried a straw cup for the first time today.  It took him a little while to figure out the sucking thing, I tried showing him a pacifier but then he was mad when I took it away.  He still likes to tip it up, but I'm hoping he can figure it out in a few days.  I think I was worried he'd forget how to drink from a normal cup if I did the straw too soon, but now I think I might be way late.  Oh well, live and learn.


Yes, those are Ritz crackers and no he won't eat them.  He doesn't like to take bites of things, I have always cut things up so now he'll just shove a slice of apple into his mouth instead of taking a bite.  I'm hoping it will come with time.  

This afternoon was pretty relaxing, just hung out at home and did laundry while Ben napped.  Before picking Thomas up from work I drove over to a fruit store that's supposed to be good, and grabbed some bananas and strawberries.  The guys there were super friendly and tried to give Ben lots of food.  He smiles but then turns his head, he's a little shy sometimes.  It's nice that people love kids here, it makes it much less intimidating to go out places.  We'll have to try taking him to some local restaurants when Ramadan is over.  Oh man, let that be soon.  

I tried to take a picture of him in the living room today, but my phone decided it needed the flash.  So this is the, what are you doing to me, face.


And for the final pictures, proof that I'm still alive!  Thomas is not ghostwriting these posts, my desiccated body isn't sitting in a rocking chair.  (Name that movie, people.)  Behold, the Woman Who Needs Her Bangs Trimmed.




Thanks for reading, I know the daily recap can be boring.  But it's fun to remember what the daily grind is like, and ten years from now I'll look back in wonder and think, household help was amazing.  As always, questions and comments are welcome.

-Rachel

Monday, August 13, 2012

Back to work

Hey y'all,

Sunday was really nice, Emy came about 9:30am but I didn't have my class, so I played with Ben while she got started cleaning.  I put him down for a nap, and then got ready to go to the embassy to review with my Arabic language classmate.  She's really sweet, and it was a fun hour practicing and also chatting.  She and her husband have also visited the Amman International Church, so we might follow them over next Saturday.  They live just a couple blocks away, which is fun.  Her kids are a little older than Benjamin, but that also means she'll have advice to give.  Yay for more experienced moms!  After our review session, Thomas joined us in the cafe and her husband came in too, so we all ate lunch together.  It was really nice to get to know more people and feel a bit more connected. 

I had the terrible realization over the weekend that I'd missed an appointment for Ben to get his 18 month immunizations at the embassy health clinic.  Eeek.  I called today and I can take him in tomorrow morning, so we'll do that and eat lunch with Thomas.  Today we got a package from Target, I'd ordered a foam kitchen mat for in front of the sink because washing dishes by hand is killing my back.  Hopefully it'll help, and I'll bet Emy will appreciate it too.  She is a treasure, she dusted and vacuumed and mopped the floors, washed dishes and played with Benjamin more than usual.  He was fussy, probably because of teething, and woke up really early from his nap.  After I got home I took over so she could finish up.  It's amazing to have someone else clean your house, I've never had such a luxury before.  It's going to be tough to give that up.  Not going to think about that for a while.  Denial.

This afternoon Benjamin was really funny, he must have been tired and he kept just lying down on the floor.  I can't tell if it's the molars that are coming in, or what.  I think it might be the first molars, but who knows.  He's been tugging his ears, but doesn't have a fever so I'm crossing my fingers that it's not another ear infection.  Oh and the biggest news of all, he took a couple steps today!  It was crazy, we were playing in the living room and he stood up holding on to his large green ball.  Then he took about 3 really teeny steps over to his blue bucket of toys.  It was amazing, we've been waiting and worrying, and he just does it all of a sudden.  Naturally it hasn't happened again, but at least we know he can.  I think it's mostly caution that's been holding him back.  Yay for Ben!  Here's a couple pictures from today.



I love this outfit, it's a gray Gap shirt with dinosaurs on it.  It's a 2T but seems really big.  Of course this is all from Goodwill, I totally stocked up and bought basically all the clothes he'll need up to 5T to bring over here.  Naturally I've jinxed myself by writing that, but hopefully we won't have to buy much here, or order online.  From what I've heard clothes here are stupid expensive, which is why I spent 9 months shopping at Goodwill weekly.  I really miss my Tuesday morning routine of meeting Gretchen and eating Chickfila breakfast and then thrifting.  So much fun!  Miss you, Gretchen!

Tonight I made mac and cheese for dinner.  Poor Thomas is very longsuffering.  You'd think that not having to clean at all would give me more energy for planning menus, but no.  No it hasn't.  And we don't want to pay Emy to stay longer and cook, so I'm out of luck.  I just need to get more familiar with the stores here and start trying stuff out.  Tomorrow after lunch at the embassy I'll probably go to Spinney's at Taj Mall which is nearby, so I can get things and maybe explore the mall a little too.  All depending on Ben's mood, of course.

Questions? ... Comments?  ... Bueller?

-Rachel

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Lazy Saturday

Today was pretty relaxing, although Benjamin's having a rough time with teething these days.  Friday night he woke up a couple times in the middle of the night, so we slept in a bit today.  We were a little off schedule as a result, but since we didn't have anything until the afternoon, it was fine.  I had been craving a McGriddle, so decided to make something more substantial than cereal or toast for breakfast.  I did an "egg in the nest", and it turned out pretty tasty.  Although it was delicious while I ate it, afterwards it felt very heavy.  But good to know I can make it when the mood strikes.  We just hung out at the house and played until lunch.  Ben took a nap after lunch, then we drove over to the embassy for a first birthday party.

It was nice to hang out and see friends, relax and snack by the pool.  Benjamin was pretty sweet, and shared some of his toys with another Ben, who is younger.  We stayed until about 6pm, I got my usual chicken fingers for dinner.  We hung out with some people who we'd seen in passing at the embassy, so it was good to expand our circle.  They go to the Amman International Church, which we'd like to try.  Evidently it meets at 6pm on Saturday night, which is pushing it a bit for us.  But we could attempt it.  The selling point is that there's a nursery, so I could actually focus on worship and the sermon.  So we'll see, not ready to commit to a particular church just yet.

That's about it, we came home and Benjamin played some more, but got really fussy so we put him in the bed at 7:30pm.  I hope he'll feel better soon, it's no fun waking up at odd hours and shuffling to his room.  Last night he got up at 2am the first time, and I couldn't go back to sleep for a while because I'd gone to bed early.  Today I've felt both tired and gross, fingers crossed tomorrow will be better.

Evidently there's a meteor shower event happening tonight, but since we don't have a babysitter lined up we aren't going to drive into the hinterlands and try to watch it.  Not that the city lights here are so overwhelming, but there is some light pollution.  Maybe next year.  And any night out in the wadis (deserts) are supposed to be amazing for stargazing.  Hopefully we can do that in the fall when the heat isn't so bad.  So many things to do, I really hope we can see everything in two years.

-Rachel

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Craft, completed

Salutations,

Thomas and I actually made the playhouse today!  Well, first off, we just lazed about this morning.  I took a nap while Benjamin took his, which was awesome.  We weren't feeling up to making our own way to church today, possibly next week we'll feel braver.  After Ben ate his lunch I drove us all to Carrefour, which was good practice.  I feel like I could go there on my own now, which was my goal.  We bought a couple things we needed, including a long ruler for the playhouse construction.  I thought that maybe the food court would have some lunch offerings, but Ramadan strikes again.  Everything was closed and dark, so we drove back home.

On the way we saw a McDonalds with a drive thru, and they were serving people.  It was awesome, I flipped a U-turn at the earliest possibility and we got McNuggets for me and Thomas.  They weren't very good, definitely spent too long in the freezer compartment of a container ship.  But, it was something.  My body is adjusting to the lack of junk food.  I'm sure it will be a good thing in the long run, but today I was really craving a McGriddle.  Yummm.

After we got home, Benjamin played a little then went down for nap number two.  Thomas cut up a box and we taped everything together.  The plans I was hoping to follow used a much thinner type of cardboard, the stuff we have is like triple-walled and industrial.  So I wasn't able to make it collapsible, and it's pretty big.  Not sure how long we'll keep it around, but it was a fun little 30-45 minute project.  Benjamin isn't super interested, it might be too large to entice him right now.  We do have a plastic playhouse with a slide coming in the HHE that we might try to put in his room on the carpet, so maybe this can be the living room house.  Here are a few pictures.





Again, sorry for the bad pictures.  Iphone camera + incompetent photographer = what you just saw.  I wanted y'all to see the pile of boxes and trash behind where the house ended up, in the formal living room.  There's just more space there, and especially in the future with all the trash gone, I think we can shove the house out of the way when necessary.  It slides pretty easily on the floors, so we can squirrel it away if need be.  The stuffed dinosaur is Littlefoot from The Land Before Time, which I think I got in the second grade.  Thanks, Mom and Dad, for saving a lot of my junk!  Hopefully Benjamin will enjoy playing with him.  Right now he likes the little plastic dinos that may have come in a Happy Meal back when the movie came out.  I really want to order him a couple of these, but they're a little pricey for just a whim.  Maybe a stocking stuffer. 

Tonight we walked over to some friends' house for dinner, they cooked an amazing chicken dish with a Middle Eastern sauce and relish with pistachios and pomegranate.  It was delicious.  And our hostess made some amazing cookies, Nutella and walnut biscotti.  Drool.  We left super stuffed.  It's really fun having friends live close by, and getting to vary the usual routine a bit.  I'd love to have them over for dinner, but without my pots and pans, and also not being an enthusiastic cook... Maybe we can just order delivery.  It's about the company more than the food, right?  (Yes, says no one.)

Hope you have a great weekend!
Rachel

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Thursday Haps

Hey Howdy Hey,

Today was really nice, I didn't have my Arabic class so I hung out at the house in the morning, Emy played with Benjamin a bit then put him down for a nap.  While she cleaned (awesome!) I was able to unpack the two remaining UAB boxes and put away my piles and piles of clothes.  I really needed to ruthlessly cull about 90% of what I own, and I didn't do enough before the movers came.  Like all of my winter stuff is here, and I'm not going to need every scarf I've ever owned.  Which I still have.  All of them.  Ugh.  And we still have our huge shipment to come, but I'm hoping there aren't any clothes left.  Because there isn't any room.  I guess I could co-opt some of the guest room space, but I do want to leave some space clear for people who visit.  I'm hoping my parents will stay at least a month, maybe more.  (Hint hint, parents!)

I went to the embassy at noon for lunch with Thomas, which was fun.  And we got a package from Amazon, which is like Christmas.  I'd ordered some coasters because I'm trying to protect our brand-new furniture as much as possible.  We also got "Venture Bros" season 4 on BluRay, which we can't watch until the PS3 comes.  But it'll be fun to rewatch when we do.  Emy did an amazing job cleaning today, she mopped all the floors and vacuumed.  I'm really getting spoiled here, and I know it's going to be a shock to the system when we go back to the States.  She left at 1:30 and Ben and I played for a while before he went down for his afternoon nap.

Tonight was the usual Thursday night fun meal at the embassy, and it was steak night.  It tasted really good, but was much pricier than normal.  I think they do it once a month, so it's a nice treat.  They served cheesy potatoes and what I assume was a frozen vegetable medley alongside.  But hey, I didn't have to cook and I'm not picky.  (And yes, for lunch I had chicken fingers again.  Still ordering the same thing.)  We had a great time eating and talking with friends, it was perfect weather and Benjamin did a pretty good job of behaving.  An excellent evening.

We don't have much planned for the weekend, probably not going to the house church tomorrow.  I'm a little scared to do a 20-step process trying to find someone's house, so we'll hang back until we feel a little more comfortable.  We might try out the Amman International Church, but their website isn't super informative.  Because street names were only imposed maybe a decade ago, people don't go by the address, it's more like: turn left where the hotel used to be, make a right at the fruit stand and do a u-turn at the first possibility.  It's nuts.  And so you just have to call the church's phone number to get directions.  Sigh.

I haven't started on the fun playhouse yet, after rereading the directions I noticed she was using a metal ruler as a straightedge.  I don't know if I need it, but I feel like I want it to be as perfect as a cardboard house can be.  Do you think I could substitute something else?  I started pricing them on Amazon, that's how OCD I am.  I need advice here...

What are y'all planning this weekend?  Anyone else going to attempt the box into a house transformation?  This might be the second thing I've ever done off of Pinterest.  If you guys have any other suggestions for turning huge boxes into something fun, I'm all ears.

-Rachel


Thursday, August 9, 2012

18 months ago...

Feb. 8th, 2011.  The scene: our bedroom back in Arlington.  A normal Tuesday morning, I wake up ready to go to work.  It's 6am.  I feel a little off, so I get out of bed and my water breaks.  I'm nervous but excited, Benjamin isn't due for another 3 weeks.  Thomas is awake and getting ready, so I tell him.  I call the on-call doctor, who tells me to just relax and wait at home since nothing seems amiss.  We hang out until 10am, when my doctor tells me to come in to the hospital.  The drive over is quick, it's after rush hour.  I had packed my bag the week before, and we had the car seat installed and checked too.  I feel good about being in labor, it doesn't hurt yet.

We get to the hospital and I go straight up, Thomas parks the car and finds me later.  The nurse gets me hooked into the IV (yuck) but I walk around anyway, that's what they say helps.  My doctor is a sweetheart and tells them to let me walk on my own, without pushing the IV stand.  So they disconnect me and I get to walk around the maternity floor.  There aren't many babies in the nursery, most people keep them in their room.  The serious pain doesn't start until I'm pretty far along, but I get an epidural anyway.  Benjamin is born about 5:25pm, 6lbs 9oz.  He has a ton of straight, spiky hair.  We get to the room we'll stay in about 6:30, after the cafeteria is closed.  Thomas picks us up dinner from an Italian place, and it's the best food I've ever eaten.  We spend our first night together as a family of three.  (This is Ben at a week old.)



I'm so grateful to God for giving us Benjamin.  After months of fertility treatment, it was a miracle to be pregnant, and to deliver a healthy baby boy was another.

On to the daily recap...

Pretty tame day, I drove Thomas to work and came home, Benjamin and I took morning naps.  A couple guys from the embassy came over in the afternoon to spray for ants, we'd had a major problem with them but the past couple days haven't seemed as bad.  Hopefully they are gone for good now.  And a little bit after that another couple guys showed up to look at the AC unit in our family room, last night it didn't seem to be getting cooler and the room was pretty warm.  Evidently the compressor is broken, so they are passing the buck to the landlord.  Fine by me, hopefully it'll get fixed soon.

I picked up Thomas from work and we ate dinner, then ran out to a fruit store for bananas.  Then I conned him into driving us to Carrefour.  Emy, our housekeeper, had given me a list of things to buy so she could clean and I really wanted our floors to get worked on, so I needed a mop and bucket.  It was perfect timing, not too many cars on the road 'cause we left right at Iftar.  We got back home around 8:15, when things get started, so we avoided most of the craziness.  And Carrefour was deserted, very few people milling around.  Since we have so many boxes and they're super sturdy I wanted to attempt a craft of some kind, and found this link on Pinterest.  I got a craft knife and blue duct tape, hopefully this weekend I can work on it.  I'll post pictures of either my success or fantastic failure.

Tonight I got to talk with my parents a little on Skype, but it kept dropping calls.  Argh.  And I got to talk to Priscilla, yay!  It's so fun to catch up.  I do miss having more contact with friends and family.  But living in VA for four years helped to make it an easier transition, if we'd gone from Greenville to Jordan that would have been such a shock.  As it is, I'm trying to enjoy life while we're here and keep it in perspective that two years will go by very quickly.  And I'm not sure I can go back to our teeny house.  And life without a maid/babysitter 12 hours a week.  Oh well, a couple years before I need to worry about that!

-Rachel

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

UAB! UAB!

Greetings all,

Today was pretty amazing.  Took Thomas to work, got home and fed Benjamin breakfast before Emy showed up at 9:30am.  I like doing 9:30 better, it gives me more time to put myself together before she arrives.  She got settled playing with Ben and I drove over to the embassy.  We don't have a parking pass yet, so I parked outside the embassy on a residential street and walked inside.  My class went well, I need to do more studying but I think eventually I'll retain something.  Our teacher is going out of town for the next two classes, but Laura and I have agreed to meet up on Thursday to review together and have lunch.  Fun!  It's so nice to meet new people.

After eating a quick lunch with Thomas, I met up with Kristin and we walked over to a little nails place for manicures and pedicures.  I haven't had one in forever, so it was a great relaxing treat.  Of course my nails are super short since my nervous tic is to pick at them.  I know, gross.  Believe me, I'd love to grow them out and have long beautiful nails like my mom and sister.  Maybe someday.  Here's a pic of my prettier hands and feet.




Thomas told me yesterday that the rug and patio furniture would come today, and it was perfect timing.  Benjamin went down for a nap around 2pm, and they came shortly thereafter.  The rug looks good, it softens the huge room.  And the patio table and four chairs fit perfectly on the patio outside our family room.  I need to rearrange the furniture to make it easier to step outside, but that's for another day.  And after they left, I got a call saying that the UAB (unaccompanied air baggage) was ready for delivery, so they came about 3pm.  There were four big boxes, full of clothes and sheets and towels.  And a lot of the stuff I bought at Costco before we left, like Jif and Nutella.  Yay!  It was great to unpack that stuff.  The Goldfish supply is now replenished.  Whew.  Another surprise were all the toys packed in the UAB.  I'd forgotten what they put in it, so it was fun to pull out all the toys Ben hadn't seen in a month.  He was very excited.  





The living room is a definite disaster now.  I've emptied almost two boxes, but I'm mostly just trying to find our pillows.  Oh, how I miss my memory foam... Let me count the ways.  It's good to switch out all the towels and start to really make this our home, not just some fun extended vacation.  That was really hitting home this afternoon, getting our stuff makes it feel more permanent.  (Temporarily permanent, I'm sure it won't seem too long before the movers come to pack us up again.)

Last night I finished reading "Run" by Ann Patchett.  I love her, she's my new favorite author.  I think I've read almost all her books, I might have one left.  The embassy has a little lending library where I found it.  I returned it today and got another book, this one's nonfiction, "Behind the Beautiful Forevers".  I think I heard about it a while back on NPR or something, but I don't know much about it.  Looking forward to jumping in!  Now that we're not hooked on TV shows (except me and "Bunheads") and don't have tons of movies at our disposal, it's been nice to get back into reading on a nightly basis.  The only problem is finding books that I want to read.  I think I'll start ordering used books off of Amazon, I really want to read some more Bill Bryson.  I completely enjoyed "A Walk in the Woods" about his Appalachian Trail adventure.  I laughed out loud a couple times.  What are you reading these days?  Any suggestions?  And if you have books you don't want, or see something interesting at a Goodwill, please mail them to me and I'll send you a check! 

-Rachel

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Monday is the new Tuesday

Hey there,

This morning Benjamin slept until after 8am.  I actually had to wake him up so I could drive Thomas to work.  It was awesome.  I just wish we could have slept in, but it was good to take the van out for a little spin.  When I spell "van" I keep typing "can", and that's not an inaccurate description.  Thomas thinks the back needs new shocks, which maybe it does.  All I know is it's a beater.  Anyway, traffic was really light this morning and I dropped Thomas off at the embassy and then headed home, no incidents.  And that's all the driving I've done so far!

Kristin and her boys picked us up at 10 for a playdate.  It's a very organized group, maybe ten moms and their kids.  The apartment was about 15 minutes away and we hung out on the very large patio.  The hostess provided awesome snacks and we just chilled for a while, then there was an organized song circle, with parachute and silly props, like little rubber snakes for the "snake song", etc.  It was cute.  Benjamin was a little freaked out by all the people but I think he'll enjoy it eventually.  I'm sure he gets bored with just me.  But he does have Emy now, three days a week.  Tomorrow she comes so I can do the class and then get nails done with Kristin!  What a treat.  I'm excited.  Not about driving though...

I was totally beat after we got back from the play group, so Ben ate lunch and then we both took naps.  Not long enough for me though!  I'm just worn out if I don't get my morning nap.  Pretty sad.  We hung out at home and played, then he took another afternoon nap around 4.  He's been in that pattern, he'll sleep from 1-3, play, get fussy, then I'll put him down and he'll sleep until 5:15ish.  Weird.  I guess he's still tired from teething and everything.  I just wish he could sleep from 1-4 or 2-5.  That would be the holy grail.  But I didn't medicate him tonight, he didn't seem super fussy about his teeth.  Normally he's good with me brushing his teeth, like tonight.  I know there's trouble when he pulls away right after I start.  Fingers crossed he can sleep through the night and until 8am.

I tried to take pictures of Benjamin today, he likes to grab Thomas's hat off the entryway table and have me put it on him.  But he was very fussy about it today.  So here's an angry face, and then a sweet face.  Sorry they're so blurry.


 
Funny little guy.  Thomas came home and we ran right out and put gas in the van, the *ahem* gentleman who sold it to us left just a teeny bit, on my way home this morning the gas light came on.  Sigh.  So we had to drive around a bit, they aren't on every corner like back at home.  And they're all full-service, which is interesting.  The guy pumps it and you round up the total and he gets the overage as a tip.  There were lots of people on the road, heading home from work and to their Iftar meals.  Not the best time to be out and about.  We were trying to turn right out of the gas station to get back on Circle Street (Zahran) when a truck just zoomed past, in reverse.  Backing up, at speed, on a 3 lane highway.  Oh yeah, anything goes here.

We made it home safely and ate dinner (spaghetti) and Benjamin played a little before he went down.  Now it's fun internet time.  Oh last night we watched "The Devil's Double" about Uday Hussein (Saddam's son) in Iraq in the 80s and his body double.  Ooof, not sure I can recommend it, it's very violent and disturbing.  I'm not sure how much is true, but evidently he was a pretty awful guy.  That's a movie I never need to see again.  But Dominic Cooper, who plays both main characters, is awesome in it.  He's very convincing as a normal guy with a conscience witnessing these atrocities, and also as the insane perpetrator.  Yeah, only watch it if you have a strong stomach.  Enough said.

And on that happy note... But really, thanks for reading.  If y'all have questions or suggestions, critiques or sneak peeks (what does that mean?  eh, it rhymes) then please leave it in the comments.  Hope y'all are having a good week!

-Rachel