Saturday, September 29, 2012


Howdy howdy,

Today we're celebrating all things Thomas.  Instead of the typical recaps, which honestly you don't really care about, I'll post some fond memories and observations of our life together so far.

The first time he sent me flowers he sent daffodils, my favorite.

He always opened my car door when we went on dates (he drove a 1980 Impala with heavy doors).

We saw New York City twice together, once in August 2001 and again for his birthday in 2009.  He's my favorite travel companion.

He wrote me lots of letters, and emailed me constantly when I was away in Germany for a year.  Even though it was his first year of law school.

He is generous and loving.  He is patient with Benjamin, and me.

Thomas is a fantastic father.  I had no expectations of what type of parents we would be, but he is the greatest.  I really hope we can have more kids, partly so they can be blessed by him.

He is super smart, and knows a lot of things.

He is financially savvy and keeps me in line.  He plans for the future and isn't flighty.

He loves and appreciates both his family and mine.  (We are both incredibly blessed with supportive and loving parents and siblings.  What a gift.)

He loves God.

He can be passionate about his interests, like watches and video games.

He is incredibly loyal to his friends.  I'm amazed at how close he is to the guys he grew up with.

He is adventurous.  We're living in Amman, Jordan.  I would never have planned that 10 years ago, but it's such an amazing opportunity and I can't imagine anyone else I would rather share it with.

Thomas is funny.  And talkative, though that might be hard to believe for newer or casual acquaintances.

He is supportive and kind and trusts God through hardship, particularly infertility and our recent miscarriage.

He will get up in the middle of the night to give Benjamin back his pacifier.  This is truly amazing to me, a person who needs lots of sleep.

I could go on and on, but I wanted to share with y'all a little about the fantastic guy I married.

Feel free to leave any fond memories of Thomas in the comments!

Happy Birthday, Thomas!



Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Carhartts and Frustration

Greetings all,

Public service announcement: I'm going to describe my current medical situation without being obtuse or using "family-friendly" language.  Please don't be offended.

Today I went back to the doctor to see if the blood that had collected in my uterus after the D&C had passed, but it hasn't.  I'd been taking Methergin for a week, three pills a day.  I'm frustrated that this whole ordeal isn't over.  It's still sad and depressing every time I get an invasive sonogram that I see proof that there's no longer a baby, and now I have to have another minor procedure to get rid of this blood.  Ugh.  I'm ready to be completely finished with all of this.  Maybe I'm moving into the anger part of grief. 

On a happier note, Benjamin is feeling better and didn't barf at all today.  Yay!  He was pretty sweet and got to hang out with Thomas at lunch while I went to the doctor.  Before I left I decided to break out some Carhartt overalls that I found at a Goodwill.  They're 2T but very large and I had to roll up the legs a lot.  He looked super cute.  Later this afternoon I put his big boy shoes on (thanks Mimi!) and he did great walking around in them.  We tried it a few weeks ago and he didn't do very well, so he's really getting more confident and able in his walking. 

Hi Mom.  What's that you're holding?

I'm going to walk toward you, making it really hard to get a good picture.

Lying on the floor won't help.

But I want to hold the camera!

I'm so sad.

Now I'm mad!

OK, I'm better now.

Check out all my teeth.

I know, I'm the cutest.

Thomas brought home steaks and with them we had potatoes and peas, a delightful dinner.  I'll be so glad when we finally get the other car, it's at the airport they just have to convene a special committee to approve letting it in the country.  There was a new rule put in place after the car was shipped, that you can't import any vehicle older than 10 years.  Since the Cruiser is a '99, it's definitely too old.  But since it was shipped before the rule, we're hoping that they can just approve it and get over it.  Argh.  Once we have two cars, it'll be easier for me to run out and do errands during the day, and if Thomas needs to pick something up on the way home it won't be a big hassle.  Here's hoping we can get the car soon.

Pray for us, that I won't need any additional procedures, and wisdom as to whether we should take a break or start fertility stuff again.  And that Benjamin is totally healthy and over his sickness.  And that we won't get it.  Oof, it's been a long week already.  But we got a package in the mail from Aunt Marian, which was so nice.  (Thanks for everything!  The wedding pictures are great!)



Monday, September 24, 2012

Sickness and Shag Music

Hello friends,

Well let's do a quick recap.  Saturday was awesome, we rested a lot and went to Taj Mall for lunch in the food court, we ate at a chicken place with curly fries.  Not bad at all, but a little pricey.  We also got frozen yogurt at Pinkberry which was delicious.  We walked through H&M, one of my favorite stores of all time.  I really like a blazer they're selling, but I didn't see my size so I'll go back sometime and double check.  My goal for this fall is to get some knee-high riding boots and a classic blazer.  I want to be as chic as possible for our trip to Paris later this year.  (Can't wait!)  We shopped at Spinney's and got supplies for the week, milk and cereal and Coke Light.  Now that I'm not limiting my intake of caffeine we're running through lots more Coke Light. 

Sunday was a normal day, until Benjamin barfed on me while we were praying after reading his nighttime Bible story and "Goodnight Moon".  That was shocking and new, other than the usual baby spit-up I'd never seen him barf before.  So I changed his pajamas and started a load of wash (most of it landed on my jeans).  I was hopeful that it was just a product of two bottom molars coming through, but there had been a 24-hour flu circulating around the embassy, and I think that's what this was.  We put him to bed and about 90 minutes later, he started crying and we went in.  Ugh.  Barf everywhere in the crib, and on him.  He'd had a bath earlier that evening, but I gave him to Thomas to do another bath while I stripped the sheets, started more laundry, and tried to scrub everything down.  I'm glad that the mom-mode sets in, but I was so on alert that it took me a long time to finally go to bed.  Thankfully friends on Facebook gave me great advice, as well as two girls I'm friends with here whom I emailed in panic about what to do.  So I expected more disasters during the night, but Benjamin was a champ and slept straight through, no issues.

Monday morning I was hopeful that maybe it was just a teething event and I could do my Arabic class, but sadly, no.  After Thomas left for work Ben barfed, then again about 20 minutes later.  After that he played a while but then took a nap from 9am-10:15am.  I was able to get a shower, many days overdue.  Emy came, and I explained that I would be home with Benjamin because he was sick.  So she cleaned, which was an incredible blessing.  And washed the large pile of dishes.  And finished laundry, folding and all.  She is an angel.  Thomas came home at lunch to get the car so he could do some grocery shopping on the way home, since we needed bananas and other random stuff.  Oh and we discovered that the small grocery store near the embassy carries Haribo gummy bears, so sorry Mom and Dad for making you send me some!  But I will still eat and enjoy them. 

Thomas got Benjamin to eat some applesauce, and I gave him some Tylenol.  He didn't drink much until dinnertime, but I guess that's normal.  My lesson is learned, I'm not giving him milk tomorrow morning like I did today.  This morning he drank almost the whole cup full, 10oz, which is why I think he barfed.  I made some homemade Pedialyte, which he wasn't so sure about.  It uses apple juice, water and salt and baking soda.  Since he usually drinks just water, he wasn't completely on board with the juice mixture.  But he had some water with dinner, so hopefully things will be okay. 

This afternoon we watched "Toy Story" 1 & 2, mostly it was just on in the background while he played and looked at books.  He seemed in good spirits, a little more snuggly than normal, but otherwise okay.  He took a great nap from 1-4pm, so I hope he's getting some strength back and maybe tomorrow will be more of a normal day.  He's a trooper.  Fingers crossed we're done with the barfing and he'll be over it soon. 

I took a quick video of him tonight, he likes to scare us and be scared when we say "Boo".  Even while sick he's still sweet. 

Tonight before Thomas got home we listened to some shagging music and danced a little in the kitchen.  It was great listening to beach music and appreciating my cultural heritage.  And Thomas was able to hook up the VPN to our new router, so we can now watch Netflix and Hulu on the TV.  Magical!  I just need to figure out if I can get the BBC iPlayer to work on the PS3 so I can watch the new season of "Downton Abbey".  Fingers crossed.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Another Combo

And no, I don't mean the equally delicious and gross pretzel-and-cheese snack that is requisite on all youth group trips.  This is the combined news for Thursday and Friday.

Thursday morning a new friend came over, Heather recently moved here with her husband and two boys.  We had been friends on Facebook for a while through a mutual friend in DC (hey Jenny!) who knew we were both getting posted to Amman.  It was great to have a morning chat, eat some muffins and drink hot tea.  Benjamin took a good nap so it was adults-only for most of the time.  And she brought me a gift box of fun Dead Sea soaps, so I'm going to be diving into that shortly.  It was so much fun to just talk and hang out, I hope we can do it again soon.  Yay for friends!

I meant to go grocery shopping Thursday afternoon, but some embassy guys came over to paint around the new AC unit that was installed earlier in the week.  When they took the old one out, there was a rectangle of pink left behind (all the walls are cream).  The new unit sits in a slightly different spot, so the old gaping hole for the tubing and the pink were really not adding much to the family room decor.  Thankfully the painting took all of 20 minutes, and then they left.  Much later in the afternoon the shipping guys came to pick up the boxes that had been hanging out in the living room after we finally unpacked everything from the HHE.  So now the living room is back to normal, and we can finally live like normal people with all our junk.

Thursday evening I picked Thomas up from work and we stopped by the Meat Master store to get some steaks to grill.  Oh man, I love this gas grill.  There's no prep time, you just throw it on there and it's done in less than 10 minutes.  Amazing.  I need to plan out a night to have people over and grill out, especially since the weather is lovely at night.  It's still pretty warm during the day, but I think tomorrow (Saturday) is the official start of Autumn here, so temperatures should start to fall and it might rain some.  We've had an unending stretch of gorgeous blue skies, so a little rain will be different but good.

Friday morning we went to church, I contributed juice again (I can just buy it, no cooking involved) and we met the official pastor and his wife.  They are very nice, and Thomas said the preaching was good.  I hung out with Benjamin and the kids, cause he's still not totally comfortable just playing away from us.  Which is weird, he's fine with Emy when I'm gone.  Maybe he doesn't like being separated when he knows I'm there?  Anyway, I hope it ends soon.  Kind of annoying.  I miss doing the nursery drop-off thing, but the Saturday night service just starts too late for us.  Oh well.  And now that Benjamin is going to bed a little earlier, around 7:30pm, it would really be a disaster.

Ben took a good nap in the afternoon, so I painted my nails and Thomas played Battlefield on the PS3.  I'm irritated that the game works over here, I was hoping multiplayer wouldn't be an option.  Grrr.  But it was nice to just hang out and relax.  For dinner we went to some friends' house and hung out with a bunch of embassy folks, there were about 6 kids in attendance and it was fun chaos.  Good times.  It's so nice to feel like we know and enjoy these people, and I think we're going to have a good two years.  Now that the HHE is here and the car is hopefully close to being approved, it's starting to be more of a "we actually live here now" situation, and if we can get off our rear ends and start doing some sightseeing, I think it's going to be an awesome experience.  There's lots to see and do around Amman, we just need to motivate ourselves to get out and about.  But homebodies that we are, that can be difficult.  As Barney on HIMYM would say: "Mission accepted".

Over and out,

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Slow and Steady

Hey there,

It's been an interesting few days.  Monday was normal, class and lunch with Thomas, always nice.  But I picked up Emily in the morning, the new girl in class, and told her about the miscarriage as we were walking in.  I thought I was doing better and had my emotions under control, but I broke down crying on the way into the embassy.  She was super kind and hugged me and was so sweet, it helped me to pull it together for class.  So obviously it will be a long process of grieving, and I've gotten misty quite a few times the past couple days just thinking about how I'm not going to be holding my baby this April.  I'm not going to wear maternity clothes and complain about my back and acid reflux.  It's hard to know that this is God's will but I'm trying to hold on to the knowledge that God sacrificed His Son, His only child, to save me.

Tuesday I got some not-great news at the follow-up appointment with the doctor.  Evidently I have some blood left that should have passed by now, so I'm taking Methergine to help me get rid of it.  I don't know that it's working so far, but I hope and pray it will so I don't have to have yet another D&C.  I don't want to have to spend another $2200 up front and hope that the insurance will reimburse us fully.  Sigh. 

Wednesday I had class again, just me and Laura this time.  Emily's out of town for a week or so.  We went over numbers and I just need to buckle down and make some flashcards if I'm going to learn/retain anything.  Lunch again with Thomas, which was good.  I shopped at the co-op and got some bacon, eggs and ice cream.  Basic necessities.  I rearranged the two smaller bedrooms, one is Benjamin's room and the other will be a playroom-type thing with his Kangaroo Climber and a little red table that my brother, sister and I all used when we were little, and some child-size chairs.

Tonight Thomas is out with a friend so I'm watching "The Bourne Identity".  I thought about watching something girly and fun, but after powering through "Dawson's Creek" over the past month I was ready for something silly with action.  Benjamin woke up at 6:30am today, which was hellacious.  He's been waking up at 7am instead of 8am, which is bad enough, but I'm not about to tolerate him waking up before 7am.  Ugh, no.  He's been walking lots more, so I guess it's part of the transition to full toddlerhood, but I'm not sure I'm ready.  And he's definitely showing more attitude and fussiness, but that could also be the two molars coming in on the bottom.  Oy.  Here are a few pictures from today.

Look deeply into my eyes.

I'm such a good walker.

I love to look at books, and take all of them off the shelves.
I got to talk with my parents over FaceTime tonight, which was great.  It's so nice to be able to talk and see each other, it's so different from study abroad during college when it was just a phone call every once in a while.  And actual letters.  Ah, real tangible correspondence.  What memories.  I have all the letters Thomas wrote me while we were dating and during my year in Berlin.  Such fun.

That's it for the past few days.  Thanks for reading, and for praying.  For my full physical recovery, for grace and patience in grief.  For patience with Benjamin.  For another pregnancy, and full-term delivery of a healthy baby.



Sunday, September 16, 2012

Lots of Pictures

Hey y'all,

Benjamin woke up at 7am which was awful but he took a little morning nap, then we ate lunch with Thomas.  In the afternoon some guys from the embassy came to move furniture around in the guest room, so Thomas was able to set up the computer this evening.  We thought they would also remove all the crazy boxes filling up the formal living/dining room, but no such luck.  Hopefully tomorrow the shipping office will send some people.  But another couple guys came and took the "welcome kit" stuff, the loaner TV and towels and sheets, etc.  And yet another two guys came in the evening and reconfigured the gas grill and hooked it up, so we have a working grill now.  It was a busy day of people coming in and out, but it's nice to feel like things are getting done.

Benjamin took a good afternoon nap so I got to rest and relax a bit.  He's been really thirsty recently, and also has two molars coming in on the bottom.  He was pretty fussy today, but I'm sure the teeth are to blame.  He likes to drink and walk, he started over by the coffee table (that has toys on it) and walked to see me.  

So far away, must get closer.

Is that better?

Why are you taking my picture all the time?!

Oh, 'cause I'm the cutest and sweetest.
At lunch with Thomas he brought my watch, which arrived in the morning.  I like it, it's large but I don't think it's overwhelming.  The face is blue, but it's very dark and passes for black unless you really look at it, or see it in daylight.

Now we're watching SNL on AFN and enjoying the memory of our delicious dinner.  Thomas hit the grocery store on the way home and got steaks and potatoes and broccoli.  We broke in the grill and it's amazing how much faster it is than the charcoal grill we used in Virginia.  I love that it's instantaneous.  I think we'll get some good use out of it.  I'm hoping we can do a big grill-out with the Marine neighbors soon. 

Hope everyone has a good week!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The HHE is here!

Hi guys,

Earlier this week we found out that the HHE would arrive today, Saturday.  It was welcome news during our week of suck.  And it's been a great distraction, getting everything unpacked.  There were about five guys who came and rapidly unloaded and opened boxes, put things on the kitchen counter, etc.  I was able to put some kitchen stuff away while Benjamin had a snack at the breakfast table (which incidentally is where we eat all meals).  But the house was a wreck for most of the day.  When they were done there were still a lot of boxes left, but we knew it would take us a while to get through them so it wasn't a problem. 

It was a long day, lots of lifting and trying to think about where things should go.  I know we put things in storage, but it really doesn't feel like it.  And despite doubling the amount of square footage we have, I really don't think we have more storage space.  The basement in our duplex back in Arlington was truly like Hermione's bag in "Harry Potter".  But it's great to have all of Ben's toys and clothes and everything.  I'm so excited looking at his 2T winter stuff, I just hope it all still fits him.  Not that he's big enough for 3T, but I'm always paranoid about having enough.  Which is why I have 3 bins full of clothes for him, up to 5T.

Here's what the kitchen looked like today right after the guys left.

It's only slightly better now, and there's still lots of mess elsewhere in the house.  But it is amazing to have our TV and PS3 so we can watch movies.  Thomas ordered a VPN-compatible router so we'll be able to stream Netflix and Hulu.  Thank goodness.  And we have AFN (Armed Forces Network) so we watched a little bit of college football this evening, but the Carolina game starts too late, if they're even going to show it.  As soon as the house is settled and everything is in its "final" spot I'll do another walk through to show you how much different it is.  I need to figure out where I want our art to hang, and they'll send someone to do it.  Awesome.

I felt good most of the day, but if I exerted myself too much I would feel it.  Tonight I made myself brownies, which was a nice treat.  I need to give them away now so I don't eat the entire pan in three days.  I'm really glad we have our stuff, and it's nice to have that feeling of home.  But it does make it that much more real, that it will be a long time before we live in the States again.  I know two years isn't terribly long, and looking back many years from now we'll be glad we had this experience.  But it's hard to be away from family and friends, especially with the rough week we've had.  I hope and pray that God will bless this time in Jordan and bring us closer to Him, and together.  


Friday, September 14, 2012

Quick update

Hi guys,

Well I feel really good, after the surgery and everything.  I guess I was expecting some pain and unpleasantness, but I feel basically back to normal.  Praise Jesus. 

This morning Benjamin woke up at 7am, again.  I guess this is his new routine, but I'm not a big fan.  It's going to be ugly Sunday morning when Thomas goes to work.  We stayed home from church and just rested, Thomas fed Ben and played with him in the morning.  A lady from church, Rebecca, stopped by and dropped off some pasta bake on her way to church, which was so kind.  Everyone's been sweet and generous, and we feel loved.  It's an amazing blessing. 

I put Ben down for a morning nap because he was being cantankerous and I had no patience for it today.  So naturally he didn't take an afternoon nap.  I think we're moving into the toddler phase of only one nap a day.  Oh, I didn't want this day to come.  I need to pray for an extra measure of grace, today was difficult.  But I also feel thankful that I have this trial, because Benjamin is such a blessing and I can't imagine our life without him.  I think he's teething, which is super, and he's moving into the new schedule, so it's just been tough the past few days.  Along with everything else, I'm on edge more than usual.  And I don't exactly overflow with patience on a normal day. 

There were two protests planned in Amman today, one after noon prayers at a mosque and the other in front of the American Embassy.  As far as I know they were peaceful, and I think the government's in control more so than in Egypt.  Or at least has a firmer grip.  Fingers crossed this time of inflamed passions will pass, and no more lives will be lost over it.  Here's a Jordan Times article.

Thomas is spending some guy time with a friend, so this evening will be more "Dawson's Creek" and looking at living room furniture online.  I found the coolest two chairs on Craigslist for a steal, and I'm so bummed I can't buy them and just hang onto them for a couple years before we get back.  Not that I love the upholstery, but I like the vintage style.  I'm imagining them with painted wood, maybe black or a bold color, with fun upholstery.  I don't know, maybe like this.  I think they would look good next to a gray velvet sofa, which is my current thought.  Oh I miss being able to shop Craigslist.  Sigh.

Last night we started watching "Hell on Wheels" about the transcontinental railroad.  I wasn't very impressed with the pilot, anyone watch it and like it?  I need reassurance that it won't be a waste of my time.  Oh and with our VPN I'll be able to watch the new season of "Downton Abbey" when it starts this weekend.  I can't wait!

Thanks for reading, and all your kind words and thoughts. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sad Days

The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord.  
Job 1:21

A little background: Many of you know that Thomas and I did infertility treatments to conceive Benjamin.  Before he turned one year, I started treatments again, hoping that we could get pregnant before we moved to Amman.  I had my last cycle right before we left, and I figured with the stress of packing and moving, it probably wouldn't amount to anything.  I took a pregnancy test the Tuesday after we arrived, and it was positive!  I was so excited, and Thomas was too.  I couldn't believe it, what a miracle.  We didn't have any worries about delivering in Amman, it's sort of a hub of medical centers in the region.  We prayed every day that the baby would grow and develop normally, and that I would deliver at full term.  Benjamin arrived 3 weeks early, just shy of official preemie status, so I hoped that the next baby could benefit from 40 weeks in the womb.

Well, Tuesday the 11th I had my second doctor appointment, I was about 9 weeks.  The sonogram showed an empty sac.  I had lost the baby.  I was very sad, and cried in the doctor's office.  The nurse was very kind, and comforted me in Arabic.  The doctor took me to get some blood drawn, just to make doubly sure, and then I checked out.  It was hard to stand in line to pay my bill, and try to keep it together.  I broke down in the car, and cried during the drive home.  I told Thomas and he stayed home from work the rest of the day.  We prayed and thanked God for the pregnancy, however short, and for His faithfulness in all things.  I felt God's peace as we grieved together.

Wednesday I skipped my language class, one of the girls couldn't make it because she was working and I offered to drive the other girl, but she was fine with staying home.  So it was good to have some extra time to be at home, and relax.  Emy came and I had lunch with Thomas, then got nails done with Kristin.  It was great to feel pampered and relax and have some good conversation.  Thankfully I didn't cry in public, and was able to feel mostly calm and collected.  One of Thomas's coworkers had dealt with miscarriage, so she came to the apartment and sat with me and talked about it.  That was so helpful, and I felt a little more prepared for the next phase.

It's amazing how many women have experienced miscarriage, and it helps to know that many go on to have healthy babies.  When we were trying to get pregnant with Benjamin, I thought that I wouldn't be able to bear losing a baby.  But God gives strength for every trial, and as sad as I am, I also believe that He is good and that He's giving me what I need to accept it and move on. 

In the afternoon Benjamin didn't nap so it made for an exhausting day.  Thomas put him to bed a little early, so that we could feed him before Emy arrived Thursday morning.  Thomas made dinner, because I had no energy to do anything except sit on the couch and zone out.

Thursday morning, Benjamin woke up very early, 7am, because I had forgotten to lower the shade on his window.  Big mistake.  So it was a rough start, but at least he got to eat and play a little before Emy came over at 8:30am.  It is truly a blessing she was able to come, I had planned for Thomas to just drop me at the hospital because I thought she wouldn't be available for childcare.  But in God's mercy, she had the day free so Thomas was able to drive me and stay the whole time. 

We finally found the hospital, I went in while Thomas parked, and we checked in.  They have you pay up front at registration, which I guess is efficient but was a little shocking.  Since we pay and then get reimbursed (hopefully) from the insurance, there was a little sticker shock.  We went up to the 6th floor and got settled in the room.  We got there at 9am, and my procedure was at 11am.  The doctors were very nice, my OB was there and also another guy, I think he's a surgeon.  They gave me general anesthesia and it was a pretty painless process.  Afterwards, I felt groggy while waking up but didn't have much pain.  We stayed in the room for a while and they brought us lunch.  After they deemed me ready to go, we had to go to accounting, a different office, and pay a little more (sigh).  Then we left, about 1:45pm.  Not too bad, considering.

We got home and put Benjamin down for his nap, which he proceeded not to take.  So again, a rough afternoon.  But Thomas was a trooper and took over, so I could just sit on the couch and rest.  Kristin brought over a delicious lasagna, and garlic bread, and homemade cookies and homemade ice cream.  We'll be eating well for a week.  I feel so grateful for having a little support network here, even though it's been under two months since we moved.  God is gracious and provides what we need.

Tomorrow we're skipping church, so I can rest and Thomas can watch Ben.  The ladies have been so kind, another girl from the church is bringing food over on the way tomorrow morning.  I'm trying to be open about it, I know it's extremely common and I hope that anyone else who experiences miscarriage will feel comfortable sharing, if they wish.  I heard an NPR broadcast a while ago about stillbirth, and how no one talks about it.  I know my pain isn't as great as it would have been if I had progressed that far, and I'm thankful that if the pregnancy had to end, God took the baby when He did.  I'm still sad to miss out on knowing that little person, but I have the hope of heaven where I can meet him or her.  Part of me is just tired and dreads the thought of starting fertility over again, since it seems to take 4-6 solid months for us to conceive.  Obviously God is in control and I hope and pray that we'll be able to have another healthy baby to bring home. 

I keep saying that I need to just buckle down and lose some weight, which has a big effect on PCOS.  Since living here I've lost about 8 pounds, which is a direct result of not eating McDonalds every day.  So, with a little exercise to boost my metabolism and a better diet, I'm hopeful that I can get healthier.  Of course, I was about 15 pounds heavier than I am now when I got pregnant with Benjamin, so who knows.  I definitely feel the clock ticking and as I look toward my 32nd birthday, I feel a tiny bit of panic.  But my plan for my life isn't necessarily what God has in store, or what's best.  I'm thankful that He has given us strength and hope through this, and pray that we continue to look toward Jesus for our ultimate hope.  It's hard to hold things with an open hand, and I want to protect Benjamin more than ever now.  But this life is so short and fragile, I need to be more interested in our eternal home and model Christ to him instead of smothering and coddling him. 

I've heard from so many people who have sent love and support, who've shared their own losses.  I'm so thankful for you, my friends and family.  You are such a blessing to me.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Video time

Sunday was a basically boring day.  Benjamin and I hung out and then some furniture guys from the embassy came over to deliver a few lamps and another TV table, which I'm using as a changing table.  They took away the boxes from the UAB and two twin beds.  The rooms feel bigger now.  But they didn't have a queen bed to bring for the guest room, hopefully that will be available after the 15th or so.  Evidently there's a new shipment coming with more furniture for the warehouse.  Our first guest won't be coming until November, so we have some time to get things settled.  No word yet on the HHE, but fingers crossed this week or next.

We went out to Spinney's for a quick grocery run.  I was really craving some cheese dip, so I got Velveeta in lieu of Old English cheese, cream cheese and mixed that with salsa and some black beans.  Not as great as the recipe Alison taught me in college, which I practically survived on for a month senior year, but not bad.  A major bummer, though, I scraped the side of the van on a curve getting into the garage.  :-( 

Monday Emy came, which was desperately needed.  Only having her come two days a week means the floors get really dirty.  There's an insane amount of dust that comes with living in the desert, and Benjamin's feet were black by tonight.  It was great to get out and go to class and have lunch with Thomas.  I picked up the recent addition to our class, she lives pretty close.  It was fun to chat while driving around.

Here are two videos of Benjamin and Thomas playing.  Fun!  The app is Super 8, or My Reels, something like that. 

Tonight Thomas went out to smoke cigars with a friend, so I'm finishing up season one of "Happy Endings".  Such a funny show.  The first disc of "Homeland" is on its way, and I can't wait to see it!  One of Thomas's coworkers is starting an informal book club, and I'm looking forward to getting together with some ladies and chatting about a new book.  I really need motivation to read something new and different.  I always revert to classics, like Austen or "Jane Eyre", but I know there's lots of contemporary fiction that's worthwhile too.  The first book we're reading is The Dog Stars, which I had never heard of before, but seems interesting.  Oh I do read silly teen fiction, but that's like a candy bar, it's gone in 3 minutes and you feel a little sick afterwards.  So I hope the book gets here soon so I can read it and actually form an opinion and thoughts to contribute.  Like an adult!  Whee.

Hope y'all are well,

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Compound update

Hey guys,

So I guess the last news was us getting back from Sharm on Monday.  The week's been pretty tame so far, I had my Arabic class on Wednesday and a new girl has joined.  She and her husband were on the Sharm trip, and I had seen her around the embassy so it's fun to have another new friend in the class.  Emy informed me that she's taken another morning job on Sun/Tues/Thurs, so I'm only going to have her two days a week.  I was a little bummed, since I had hoped for an extra "floating" day, but I know she wants to earn money and we can't hire her for 20 hours a week.  She said Thursday afternoons were open though, so maybe I can do that once in a while for grocery shopping or whatever.  It's not a disaster, I just get an idea in my mind and changing it is a lot of work.  I'm 80 years old, I suppose.

Thursday was steak night at the embassy, so naturally we were there.  It was delicious, and we sat with the same fun couple we met for the first time last week.  (It seems like a month ago because of the vacation, but I guess it was just a week.  Wow.)  They're very nice and have a sweet baby girl.  I'm hoping to get together with the wife and have a girls night or something.  Although driving at night sketches me out a bit.  But I just need to hitch up my pants and go for it.

Sunday morning we went to church, using my phone's GPS to navigate.  It's so helpful to have two adults in the car, so Thomas can drive and I can be a step or two ahead.  Driving alone somewhere new is a bit scary.  But I guess eventually we'll be comfortable with navigating on our own.  I don't even know the names of the neighborhoods, except for ours and the immediate vicinity.  Lots to learn!  It was nice to worship and sing and pray and discuss a Bible passage.  I enjoy the casualness, and the fellowship.  The kindly Australian couple who had been leading worship and the kids time are going back home.  The man is a retired Anglican pastor who fills in for the regular minister during the summer break.  So we'll get to meet the "real" dude next week, I think.  But the temporary people did a good job and maybe we'll meet up with them, on the slim chance that we would visit Australia.  I would love to, especially since we have friends there currently.  (Hi, Jessica & family!)  But it's still a huge flight from here, and I don't know that we'd have time to really do it justice.  I feel like you'd need a month minimum to see a sampling of the continent, and then also New Zealand.

Benjamin is loving his peanut butter and jelly sandwiches these days.  I finally bought some regular Smuckers grape jelly and he's a big fan.  He's doing a teeny bit more walking, and using some more words.  He will bring a book to me and say "up", so I'll put him next to me on the couch and we'll read together.  I think he says "apple", and he probably has a couple other things that I just don't understand yet.  He's pretty chatty.  I still need to take him to the pediatrician for his well-child checkup.  He'll be 19 months on the 8th, if you can believe it.  It seems unreal, but also, there's a long stretch of time before he goes off to college.  We still have potty training and preschool on the far horizon, but I know it'll happen before I know it.

For dinner Friday night we were going to get delivery, but can only use our tax-free cards at the restaurant.  So we packed up and ran over to pick it up, it was only about 7 minutes away.  It's in a little neighborhood, mostly residential, but it has a mini-Cozmo grocery store.  I may check it out during the week, there's also a little park that was packed with families.  It was a burger place, and they had curly fries and onion rings so of course we got both.  They also had milkshakes, I ordered one but it was really thin and liquidy.  The rumor mill has it that you can't get a good milkshake here, but I'll keep trying.  The food was good, I think we'll eat at the actual restaurant next time, there's a little patio and it's cute.

Saturday started off with a bummer, Benjamin woke us up crying at 6am.  I figured it was just teething, but went in to his room to hold him.  I opened the door and a blast of hot air hit me.  The AC went out!  Argh.  Poor baby was really warm and mad, which is understandable.  So I rolled him in his pack-and-play to the office next door and Thomas brought his water cup.  I held him and swayed while he drank the whole thing.  Poor buddy.  He went back to sleep until 9am, and Thomas got him up and fed him breakfast so I could sleep in a little.

We just stayed home all day and relaxed and watched College Gameday.  (Thank goodness for AFN!)  I was hoping to shop at Carrefour but we're still waiting on the official plates and registration and insurance, so I thought maybe I should wait until tomorrow, when that's supposed to get finished.  It was a nice, chilled-out day.  The picture is from today, Benjamin's been really teething and chewing on lots of stuff.  This is one of his new foam blocks.  Silly boy.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

We're back!

Hi y'all,

We've returned from Sharm el-Sheikh!  We went for the long weekend on an organized tour with fellow embassy flunkies to the southern Sinai peninsula.  Sharm is a funny place, sort of the Myrtle Beach of the Middle East, or at least of the Red Sea.  The Red Sea is beautiful, with coral reefs and lots of fish and undersea things to explore by diving or snorkeling. 

View from our balcony on the first evening.
Benjamin managed to eat almost all of these Cheerios during the course of the weekend.

We left Friday morning and took a quick 50 minute flight to Sharm.  We needed special visas to get into Egypt and the CLO office, which organized the trip, did those as well.  The tour company met us with a big bus at the modern airport.  We drove about 20 minutes to our hotel.  We stayed at the Marriott Renaissance, which was decent.  It was an all-inclusive deal, with meals and drinks included.  The food was marginally passable, and the service left much to be desired.  But I think that's just to be expected with buffet offerings, and the Middle East attitude toward customer service is incredibly different from the U.S. 

Saturday we went down to the Red Sea.  There wasn't really a beach, one little shoreline had signs warning about not walking on the coral, so we stuck our feet in and took pictures.  The rest of the day we just lounged and played in the pool.  Outside of our room there were two pools and a little pool cafe/bar thing.  The adult pool had a swim-up bar, and the kid pool was very shallow, maybe a foot or 18 inches deep.  It was perfect for Benjamin, he could hold on to the side and walk around.  We hung out with Kristin and her family a lot, it was so fun to know someone else on the trip.  And we met some other families with young kids, so it was a great experience. 

Benjamin stands in the Red Sea!

In order to actually swim, you have to walk across the coral on this jetty.

Playing in the kiddie pool.

Sunday we went on a "submarine" ride around the coral reef.  It's a boat with an open, shaded deck and a viewing room below the water.  It was the only way we would get to see the fish and coral, since neither of us wanted to take turns snorkeling.  The downstairs was really neat, there were stools to sit on either side to see the reef and fish.  We saw a parrot fish, some angelfish, one puffer fish, and lots of different little fish. 

The ride was about an hour and a half, and we went with two families from the embassy.  It was fun, but a little pricey.  But it was a nice excursion, and we drove through a little of Sharm on the way to the dock.  It's pretty depressing, everything is very touristy and fake.  There's a crocodile show, and a go-kart track.  For people without small children, there were some other fun things to do.  One couple went to Cairo for the day, a quick flight, and saw the pyramids and Sphinx.  That sounds nice, but wouldn't have been possible for us.  And there was also a Mount Sinai tour, but again, not great with the baby since we didn't have the backpack carrier and we weren't too psyched to get into serious hiking.  Hopefully another time!

Monday we flew back about 2 hours after the plane was supposed to leave, there was an issue with the airport in Amman.  But we sat with our new friends in the airport and the kids played, so it wasn't too frustrating.  Benjamin was so tired, he hadn't yet taken his nap, and he was asleep during the whole flight.  It's so good to be home and have all the toys and books Ben is used to, and to have him sleep in his normal bed.  (Just a pack-n-play, but still.)  It was nice to get out of our ordinary routine and have a little vacation.  There were some negatives, we had ants in our room and I got bitten all over the first night.  I'm still pretty itchy.  And the food, again, wasn't awesome.  But all in all, we had a good time and it was nice to be near the water.  At night it was gorgeous.  The moon rose over the water, and would start out red, then shade to orange, then white with a beautiful glow on the sea.  Just lovely. 

Night view from the balcony of our room.

The view from our balcony Monday morning.  The pool in the foreground is the kiddie pool.

Tuesday was just a normal day, Emy came in the morning and I had lunch with Thomas at the embassy.  We got a couple boxes in the mail, one was an eBay purchase of foam blocks and the other an Amazon delivery of Ziploc containers that I'll use to keep play dough in, when I get around to making it.  Benjamin's been standing on his own and walking a little bit, but he still likes to crawl around after his toys.  Ben and I went to the grocery store this afternoon to get bread and bananas, and some fun nail polish for me.  We had spaghetti for dinner and will be chillin' at home the rest of the night.

Hope y'all had a great Labor Day and enjoyed the long weekend.  Hopefully this next week we'll get our HHE shipment, with everything!!!  And my car will be here soon, fingers crossed, so I can pass off the van to Thomas.  Evil laugh.